Things That Interest Me

These are things that have gotten my attention lately, listed in no particular order. For the most part, they are people, ideas or technologies that are influencing what I write.

  • Bajau: This is a culture of marine nomads that mostly hang out in the tropical waters around the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Some of them live in pole houses off the coastlines of land masses, but many live on houseboats or other vessels.I love seeing and reading about these people because they’re giving me insights into how some cultures will adapt to sea level rise in a climate changed world.
  • Bamboo Railroad: I first learned of these abandoned rail lines running through the hinterlands of Cambodia when I randomly found the video below. Seems the rails are a relic of French colonialism that the indigenous people have turned around for their own benefit.Apparently, the rail cars are mostly constructed from bamboo. The wheels and axles are often scavenged from tanks left over from Cambodia’s eight-year-long civil war. The complexity of the social system that allows operation of these simple carts has to be amazing to witness. How you flag a cart down? How do carts pass one another on the same line? Who manages line maintenance? What happens in the event of a washout or flood?Technological primacy in a post-climate-change world is what I getting from here. Imagine what we’ll scavenge and convert when the power of our government is severely limited by its current ineptitudes.
  • Mycotecture: The material science of growing things out of mushroom mycelium. There’s so much potential for sustainable and even innovative goods being quietly developed these days. Other than the sterility requirements, accomplishing this on your own appears to be completely within reach which means that open sourced techniques for developing your own material — say, interlocking bricks for building or “leather” for clothing — are right around the corner.
  • States’ Rights: By concentrating power at the state level, proponents of “states’ rights” believe that policy can be more accurately tailored towards the needs of that locality’s citizens. But the concept of States’ Rights was incubated in a world that was not simultaneously host to multi-national corporations or the influences of fast and ubiquitous global trade. When considered from the vantage point of the general welfare of a country it’s easy to see that this ideology is both self-concerned and short sighted.The problem is that this ideology has become the dominant paradigm in American government. Hell, we just elected the Oompa-Loompa and Chief and he’s seen fit to use what little mandate is in his possession to fill each of his cabinet posts with an antithetical choice of what that post requires. In other words, Donald Trump is very much like Casey Jones except that he intends the wreck.

    The power will, then necessarily reside at lower levels of government. Whatever will we do?

    As I’ve said previously, I think the thing to do, given the situation, is to adapt. So I’m exploring ways in which people, and by consequence, myself can adapt to a major shift in government. Places with long traditions of bigotry, authoritarianism, and ignorance will likely become more like those places. But that social geography doesn’t prevail throughout the land, does it?

    I also imagine “Cascadia” rising from the trees and frankly, I think that this is where people should be building coalitions and doing their best work. Working this into fiction is more or less my full-time job.

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An Apology

Bedzilla

This is an apology to anyone who has been unfortunate enough to sleep in our guest bed recently. Today I resolved the problem your collective silence is screaming. And its genesis is a clear reminder about how Democratic ideals may not be the most efficient or effective means of achieving an end.

Here’s the skinny. Aral picked up a head cold last week, probably from the girl at the Rec Center who watches him for about an hour and a half some mornings. I knew it was just a matter of time before I too, came down with the head cold. Mean gestation time for this virus is about four days, you will know if you’ve got it when the back of your throat starts to feel like a south western flash flood of boogers.

In an effort to keep Tess from coming down with this virus I’ve been camping out in the guest bedroom. And ahmahgawd that bed has been uncomfortable. I’ve been lucky to get a couple of hours a night between the steel beam in my back and an inability to breath. Today, while Aral was napping, I decided to see if there was anything I could do.

About mid-June I was scrambling to get my older son Justin and I ready for our bike tour. In addition to this Tess and I wanted to get the futon mattress we had as guest bed off the floor. Add to all of that, my mother-in-law’s impending visit. Needless to say I was a busy home maker/bicycle tourist. Justin’s bike needed a great deal of attention before we could go and there was just a lot of overhead in general.

I dropped the “get-the-bed-off-the-floor” ball in the cloud I was juggling. Tess ended up making a trip down to Ikea for a frame. It was then constructed over a period of days by a collection of people, none of whom seem to have read the instructions the same way. In short, that bed was the single best example of Ikea assembly incompetence I have ever had the displeasure of using.

The problem has been rectified. Today I took the whole thing apart and put it together again, using my executive authority derived from the momentary break nap-time offered I reconstructed the damn thing in a manner which will no longer cause pain or sleeplessness. To those of you who slept on it prior to its renovation you are too polite. Seriously, that thing could have been shipped to Guantanamo to replace water boarding.

Ants in Pants

It is a delicate balance that we all maintain, but somewhere between a life of pure adventure and the one with dishes and dirty diapers in it is the path I’m walking. Last weekend, in an attempt more to give Tess some time alone, I took Aral for a run along the front range. He was in the jogger, which he is increasingly ok with, and I ran and pushed him.

At one point, while heading up around Wonderland Lake I noticed a bunch of students making their way up the foothills with wings and harnesses and watched as one after another they brought their wings overhead and stepped out into thin air. I knew they were students because one after another they would hit a house thermal out in front of their launch site and go bumping right over it like it wasn’t even there.

Oh was i jealous. It was a hot, dry day and the potential for overdevelopment in the afternoon was extreme (in fact there were tornado warnings in Boulder county and elsewhere), but I imagined what I might do if I had a wing, reserve and harness of my own. Cloud streets went all the way to Wyoming and I sat there imagining the sunburn I would unavoidably need to deal with because of my epic flight.

Too bad I’m not flying right now, don’t even have a wing. But the fire has was lit again and has been smoldering since. Today some schmuck on FB stoked up the embers with this.

Sierra Safari from C Hilliard on Vimeo.

Now I’ve got a swarm of fire ants in my pants. I’m coo-coo for going and its a wonder I’m able to sit here and mash these thoughts out into coherent sentences. Man do I want to go. But that would require a major departure from this path that’s been working oh so well of late.

So I make deals with myself: stay right here, do the laundry and make sure everyone is happy and well taken care of and maybe in a bit you can head out for an evening of trail running some place new. The bags are packed, my GPS and headlamp are right here on the desk with me. Its just a matter of carving out that reward time.

Its not teaching some bright eyed kid to soar in Africa. It is not even a late afternoon of glassy air on Tiger mountain with a beer waiting as soon as the sun sets. But it is enough, its enough because I know this path is a long one and deviation from it means a whole lot of cross country running and no real guarantee I’ll be able to return.