I started writing this a week ago, so if it feels stale, that is why. My next thought delivery will be fresh from the oven of my mind, or your money back.
I have been floating on air lately. Portland is a great place to be at the moment. The weather here is beautiful. The perfect temperature during the day, and just a little cooler at night. In Iowa I felt like a freak who had nothing in common with anybody. Portland is populous and liberal enough that I've made some friends based on shared interests. Not that I don't still feel like a freak sometimes.
I set a new personal record on Thursday. I covered about 34 miles (54 kilometers) on foot. You, the person reading my blog, are very nearly the first to learn of this. I went to a well-attended party on Friday and somehow managed to tell nobody. I was pleased by my ability to conceal this colossal human ambulatory distance coverage, tempted as I was to weave the detail into the conversation somehow. What would it have brought? How would I explain it? My internal PR team hadn't yet had time to spin it.
That team's been spinning for two days now, and found it necessary to create a new verb. The verb is "leg," and it means to cover a distance by foot. My jaunt wasn't a walk, though I did some walking. It wasn't a run, either, though I ran - for nearly half the distance! It also wasn't a limp, though I did a fair amount of limping.
I limped for nearly 10 miles, I figure. The second my halfway point came into view, everything hurt at once. Ridiculous! All in my head. It had to be. My feet were one of the things that hurt. My mini-backpack had been rubbing on my back for a number of miles already, I'm not including that. And there was one other thing, which I've already forgotten. "They" -- "science people" in this case -- say the brain quickly sheds the memory of physical pain. I can back that up.
One of my tactics for staying happy is to have low expectations for everything. On this particular day I forgot about that tactic. Maybe the burrito (lunch #1), or the arepa (lunch #2) elevated my happiness to the point where I no longer felt the need to employ stupid tactics. Anyways, I expected my halfway point to have running water and a bathroom, and it had neither.
Before leaving civilization, I'd chugged a disgusting amount of water, drinking until I felt sick. I then filled my water sack - maybe 3/4 a liter. I also brought a large bag containing peanuts, raisins, and strawberry-vanilla flavored granola. Shortly before the halfway point, I exhausted my water supply. I was beginning to tire of my snack mix as well, and was nearly half a marathon removed from the possibility of eating real food. I am getting bored of describing this, so I'll add a few details and call it good.
1) Those last 10 miles were very dark. I had no flashlight.
2) I'd disregarded the old Boy Scout rule of telling somebody where I'd be going, and when I'd be back. I didn't know the answer to either of those questions before I left home. And who would care?
3) The backpack left a rash, reminiscent me of that joke where your kidney count decreases.
4) Giant blisters, and toenails bloody from being jammed into the end of my shoe, are the only long-term effects of this run. There was very little stiffness or pain the next day.
Met some nice people at a birthday party. Got on with one couple in particular quite well. I made some jokes requiring a bit of background knowledge, and they were not only laughed at, but built upon. Sometimes one meets people whose conversational interests are on the same frequency. This amplifies the laughter and makes the silence awkward-er.
Lately I've enjoyed hanging out with "tech people" less and less. I keep going to gatherings of computer people, and leaving disappointed. People who describe themselves as "geeks" think they're smarter than everybody else. They like talking about gadgets. "It's so fast! It can (something they could easily do themselves if they had social skills, and weren't disinclined to leave their home or office)." Apple this, iPad that. Mostly they're unhealthy from a bad diet and lack of physical activity, have poor social skills, and think they'll make up for it by creating websites non-stop, or get rich through working for some startup. I would feel like a jerk pointing out that their startup will probably fail, and if it doesn't, that somebody else will be reaping most of the benefits, and that either way, they'll have created nothing of lasting value. If they like commuting and being stuck in a stupid office all day, who am I to stop them? Meanwhile, if you want me, I will be in the park.
The other week I went to a free workshop about "travel hacking." Hacking is a word that geeks combine with any other word to make it sound like what they're doing isn't lame. Some other ones are "hardware hacking," "body hacking," and "life hacking." I missed the first 20 minutes of the presentation, but presume they were spent discussing the same topic as the part I did see. That topic was airline loyalty cards. I recently watched the movie Up In The Air, and replaying some of its scenes in my mind made the situation initially tolerable, but it quickly got old, and nothing else was discussed. The thought of this whole crowd spending hours reading legalese on awful airline websites thinking they're "gaming the system" was merely depressing. This guy's whole speech, when you boil it down, amounts to him making the argument for coupon clipping. I don't mean to belittle coupon clippers per se, but question whether combing through fine print to save money is a good use of time. The presenter mentioned a man whose goal is to visit every country on earth. Why is that a goal people consider praiseworthy? Why not visit the native land (not necessarily a country) of every major world language? Why not visit every type of geographical region - desert, tundra, volcano, salt marsh, etc? A country is just a boundary within which people pay taxes to a specific regional body. This regional body often has a military, a flag, a sports team, airports, and something to stamp on your passport. This ambitious globe trotter is just another stamp collector, one whose actions create an extremely large carbon footprint. Maybe in our bleak climate change dystopia, his descendants will have the fortune to burn that expensive stamp collection for warmth.