Patterns: Trees

There are often seem to be patterns in our lives, almost as if there is a theme that acts as a steady underground river that only bubbles to the surface occasionally but is really always there. I know that this is really just seeing patterns in the everyday fuzz of life but I don’t think that really matters, at least not for my purpose. Recognizing the patterns can be a source of focus and inspiration, it can be a muse.

One major one at this point in my life is the tree. It started right before Burning Man when I was thinking about my name and how the meaning “rock” didn’t really feel right anymore and I liked the idea of being a tree (more on this in my first blog post). After that the image of a tree has seemed to flow in and out of my life… a card from a friend with a tree on it, my yoga mat (which I didn’t see the tree until unrolling it the first time), and more recently a yoga session where we were instructed to focus on one of two chakras, the Third Eye or the Heart.

I decided on the Heart because of it represents, in part, compassion and equilibrium, both concepts of some importance to me. So, as the meditation session began I focused my thoughts on the Heart Chakra (Anahata). Even if you don’t subscribe to a Buddhist or Hindu philosophy there is great value in focusing on a single instance during meditation to remove external distractions. When I got home I was curious about the concepts of chakras so I looked it up online and found out that the Anahata is traditionally green and below it is the Hrit, or wish-giving tree.

Another tree.

Well today, I was talking to one of my dearest friends and my go-to person on all things artistic. I mentioned to her that when I finish yoga I always feel an urge to paint or draw, even though I have never really been an artistic person. I told her that I wish I had a way to explore that side of me before I leave and she simply told me to bring paints with me and paint whatever comes to mind on the trees where I stop. Brilliant.

So, I’m totally going to paint on trees and take pictures of it as I travel across the country. Maybe there is even a way I can tag latitude/longitude to it and put those up on the web as I go. I’m kind of excited about this.

On Sex

At a party this last weekend I made a statement about sex that I have made many times before, but, like most quick statements at a party, there really wasn’t an opportunity to thoroughly explain my point of view. The statement I made was, “To me, sex is like skydiving. It’s a lot of fun and as long as the proper safety equipment is being used it doesn’t matter if you do it with friends, strangers, a significant other, or alone”. I would like to tweak that statement a bit to include “open communication and everyone involved is a coherent adult”.

These three issues (safety, communication, and coherence) are really at the heart of sex in today’s age. We live in a time when sex can be removed from child-rearing and viewed in many forms but problems can develop. I believe that as long as the three issues are addressed the majority of problems can be avoided. If you are always safe, openly communicate your wants and expectations, and all parties are sober adults then you avoid serious problems down the line.

Sex is a very wonderful thing but it does not need to be limited to some sort of emotional relationship. Sex can be a leisure activity among consenting adults to get out any built up stress, it can also be a way to strengthen a friendship, and it can be used to share intimacy with a partner. In the same way that when Michael Jordan plays basketball the emotional attachment to the game and the importance of the act very much depends on who is involved. There is a difference between playing a friendly game with your kids, playing the sport for money, and playing for exercise. The act is physically the same but the purpose behind it varies considerably. Sex is no different.

Two great pro-sex sites to follow are Laci Greene’s YouTube page and Dan Savage’s weekly column.

Ride and Equipment Check

Late last week I did a quick 35-mile ride to test my equipment and further get into riding mode. I had planned a longer 60-mile day but unfortunately was not able to accomplish that. I am hoping this weekend I can do a long overnight trip or a 60-70 mile day. Anyway, I learned a few things on this last ride, some of it is basic biking and some is particular to my equipment.

  • My mirror sucks. I need a mirror that attaches to my helmet because there isn’t room on my handlebar to properly mount one.
  • My odometer/speedometer rocks. It is properly calibrated and has a very effective display.
  • I am moving way faster than I need to. My average speed is about 13-14 mph in the city. I want to average 10-12 mph on the trip and most of the trip will be outside of cities where I can move much faster. I need to sloooowwww down, smell the roses, enjoy the ride, and all the other cliches that come with it.
  • For the first time I have metal pedals instead of plastic, this means my shins get beat to hell when I play with the pedals while waiting for stop lights. I need to break this habit or buy shin pads.
  • When you kind of lose control going downhill it is best not to brake, if you brake you will fall.
  • My bell and lights work great but my rear light is going to need new placement when I start riding with a full load on my back. Not sure how to fix this yet without buying new equipment…
  • It looks like I will need to tune the gears and fill the tires every 150-200 miles, so every 3-4 days
  • My hand pump is crap, I need a better one
  • Also, my sunglasses broke and that annoys me.

I finally feel like the bike is an extension of my body. There were several times when I was riding downhill over rough and rocky terrain that my instincts, muscle memory, training, and practice took over and I rode it out nicely. I also think I found a way to rig everything on the bike without new equipment or saddlebags. I am going to try that all out this next weekend and see how it feels.

We Live in Amazing Times

I sometimes need to take a step back from my life and really try to look at the amazing world we live in from a more innocent perspective. For instance, last Thursday made me realize how fantastic the world we live in right now is.

I was able to ride my bicycle to a local store where I could purchase all the food I need to fulfill my dietary requirements for two weeks, and all of it was vegan. While riding I was able to listen to music that was produced around the world and sent to me nearly instantaneously from Chicago, hundreds of miles away.

While shopping I was able to use the same device that I listened to music with to talk directly with a coworker who was 20 miles away. She needed help with our website and I was able to use this same device to instantly edit the website while walking around the grocery store.

We live in a time when you can instantly communicate and do most jobs from nearly anywhere in the world. All while having affordable access to the nutrients and knowledge needed to live a long and healthy life. Mmm, it is a great time.


I certainly won’t judge someone for any tattoo they have or the reason they get it, but for me there are basically two types of tattoos that I will get: to memorialize something or for the story. If I am memorilizing something it is an event or concept that I find significant in my life. If it is for the story that means that the act of tattooing itself is a story that I want to tell.

The story tattoos could be anything from a spontaneous act in the midst of an awesome day to having the honor of being someones first real tattoo. These story tattoos will likely be lower quality in artistic style but they won’t have any less meaning to me.

My memorial tattoos on the other hand will not be spontaneous in design or concept. In fact, it may annoy the crap out of the tattoo artist how picky I am about these tattoos because it may mean several designs over a period of time. I do think I am going to stick with black and gray though, and keep it all on my left side upper arm, shoulder, and chest for now. I would add color if it was something extremely important and would stand out among my body art. I really like owls also so hopefully I can integrate that into a design

I don’t know what my next tattoo will be but I have some concepts/events in mind:

  • Balance: yin-yang, scales, balance of life, community vs individuality
  • Ka-tet: Those people who are part of your inner circle and life
  • Military Service: wings, CIB, badges of sacrifice
  • Immortality: ouroboros, “it has all happened before”, circular nature of life
  • Bike Ride

My Type

I get asked a lot by my amazing friends what “my type” of girl is. Most of my friends who ask me this are trying to hook me up with someone. They are all aware of my views on relationships and such so this question tends to be about how a woman is physically.

There are a few things that I tend to find attractive such as tattoos, piercings, colored hair, dreadlocks, and a relatively healthy body but none of this is really a type. I think my attraction to these things are based more on a Pavlovian response. People who have these traits tend to be interested in similar things and have a similar attitude to me. As I write this I also realize these are all body modifications, they have nothing (or very little) to do with how you are born, but instead are based on choices. There aren’t really any “born with” traits that are good or bad in my mind.

To me it is the total package for each individual, things like eye color, breast size, or height are part of a total package but I don’t have a real preference. I can see a short blonde with brown eyes and C’s and she will be just as much my type as a tall red head with A’s or average height brunette with D’s. In the same way that Supreme Court Justice Stewart can’t define pornography, I can’t define my type “but I know it when I see it”.

Physical Preparations – Yoga

Up to this point my workout routine in preparation for my bike ride has been focused on long rides and some weight work, but that is changing a little. I am entering the home stretch with only 6 weeks until I leave and my fitness is pretty good and on the advice of some friends I had my first yoga class yesterday.

The yoga class was actually pretty cool with much more focus on breathing and balance than I originally expected. I am hoping this will help with my cardiovascular strength as well as reduce recovery time of my muscles. While I am not worried about any of the distances I will be travelling it is likely that days and days of biking will push my recovery time to its limits.

Unfortunately the times my gym offers yoga is not that convenient but I think I can make it work several times a week. My gym is mostly people much older than me and the yoga class represented that. I wasn’t surprised to be one of only three men present but it was a bit of surprise that I was 15 or more years younger than the vast majority of those in class. In retrospect I think this was good, I was able to more easily focus on my own exercise without the distraction of lovely ladies (one of my biggest weaknesses).

All in all, a good experience. On an unrelated note, everyone at the gym was working on shoulder exercises, including me, and it was incredibly annoying waiting for weights and machines for so long.

Words to Ride By #2

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” – Albert Camus

The sad truth is that we are only as free as we are willing to be and most people actually do not want freedom. They say they do, but they don’t. What they want is to be taken care of and have the tough decisions made for them. They don’t want the adventure, but they want to watch it on tv and talk about it as if they were a part of it.

The desire to live a secure and relatively boring existence is not a bad thing. Everyone has their own preferences and adversity to risk, the problem develops when a desire to live a secure existence means you want everyone else to conform to that way of life. Sometimes this takes the form of the use of government but just as often non-state societal pressures are placed on people to fall in line. Stigmas are developed about people who do certain things that strip them of their individuality and responsibility. Instead of getting to know people most would rather resort to stereotypes that fit within their vision of the world.

So, some of us must live free even if it is an act of rebellion (and maybe partially BECAUSE it is an act of rebellion). This means more than just breaking bad laws when the opportunity and a cost/benefit analysis makes it worth it for you. This also means openly and actively rejecting societal norms that unnecessarily restrict your freedom. Liberty isn’t pretty and rebellion isn’t clean but it is necessary for some of us to reach our full potential and the romantic in me believes that rebels also help the passive members of society get closer to their potential.

If someone looks back on my life I hope they see someone who stood on his own, did what was right, and decided to live instead of just exist, even if that makes me an enemy of the state or the oppressive norms and mores put in place by those who would simply search for easy survival.

Safe Rolling

I have talked in the past about how MDMA has medicinal benefits, this post is about the fun and social aspect of Ecstasy. Yes, it is a fun chemical to use for social circumstances but it should always be used responsibly and you should take the necessary safety precautions. It alters your mind and should only be used by responsible adults. From a moral perspective I don’t see it’s use as any different than alcohol, except it is much safer.

If you ever have questions or concerns about safe use of any drugs the wonderful people at DanceSafe have the answers and you should contact them.

My best rolls have been in a home environment with a few close friends. I am not really into the rave scene as much and would much rather have some amazing talks and experiences with those I love and trust. Maybe it is the introvert in me but that is just how I like to roll so this post is about home-rolling..

Safety – Everyone is different but there are some basic things you need to do to prepare for a safe and fun roll.

DRINK WATER! –Hydration and body temperature is the main safety concern most people experience. It is very important to stay hydrated while rolling, aside from the increased temperature from the drug you will also likely be dancing and active which causes your body to use more water. There are preparations you can take to make sure you stay hydrated. I like to spread full water bottles around the house in places you know you will be (couch, bedroom, outside deck, bathroom, etc) as well as have a large cup that you carry around with you during the night. If it is empty, fill it up and drink

You can also have a couple of gallons of orange juice available to drink. This both hydrates you and gets calories into your system (MDMA can sometimes suppress your appetite). I have also heard that orange juice has a positive effect on MDMA but I’m not sure how true this is.

Prep the house – You will want to get the house ready for a roll session. Hand-eye coordination can be effected by MDMA so you will want to store away anything that is breakable or valuable before you start. You should also lay out any items you think you might want or need like lights, glowsticks, paper towels, and towels. Bring out any soft blankets or stuffed animals to cuddle with later. If you have air mattresses it is also fun to inflate them and have them lying around the room. The more softness the better.  Everything should be plastic or soft. No glass!

You will want minimal lighting (and colored lighting if possible) due to the increased sensitivity of your eyes while rolling. Scattering christmas lights along the corners of the floor or using battery powered candles are a great option if you don’t have actual “rave” style toys. If you do have rave gloves or whatever get them out and set them somewhere you can find them later.

If possible you will want to black out your windows to minimize any chance of someone seeing you dancing around from the outside. Also, be respectful of your neighbors, test your sound system ahead of time and walk around your house/apartment to see what volume cannot be heard outside (and keep the volume below that level). You may be rolling until sunup and you don’t want to disturb others with your activity.

Overall you just want a clean safe house. I would take extra care to make sure the sink(s) are clean. This will make it easier to get water when needed and provide a place to vomit if needed. I have heard some people vomit on e but I have never had that happen. I did vomit while rolling once but that was because I was spinning on a chair, not because of the drug.

Music – If you can you should prep a music list ahead of time that will cover the entire time span and have that ready to go. I like dubstep and dance music but do what you like. If you can set up a Spotify list and have Spotify Premium it is cool to have the music playing on several devices throughout the house. I like to have a pattern of 2-3 fast songs and 1 slower song, this allows you a break from dancing and a reminder to get water. If a slow song comes on it is time to hydrate. This also allows an opportunity to talk (my favorite part of rolling is talking and listening).

Teeth Grinding – Many people grind their teeth when rolling. If you have a mouthpiece or something that can help. You can chew gum but there is a good chance you will bite your tongue or lip and that sucks.

Other – There are plenty of tricks available online and fun things to do when using e so I won’t go into too much detail but here are an assortment of tips

  • If you are a talker or have something you specifically want to talk about while rolling down a few notes before hand on a piece of paper (I advise using a large sharpie on a big notepad to ease reading in low lighting)
  • Wear comfortable clothes (or no clothes – but clear this with all participants before rolling). Bathing suits or boxers are good for guys.
  • Shower Trick: This is my favorite thing to do. You fill up the bathtub with hot water (don’t burn yourself) and you submerge yourself. Then you turn on the shower with cold water. It feels awesome. Make sure you have towels set out already though so you aren’t shivering searching through drawers in the dark.
  • Massages: You will want to give and receive massages. Do it, it’s fun. Don’t worry, MDMA is not a “sex drug”, you aren’t going to wake up the next morning regretting something that you did like you do with alcohol. Your inhibitions may go down when it comes to being open with someone but you aren’t going to violate any of your personal morals. These massagers are awesome, there are also some glowing ones somewhere but I can’t find them. Electric massagers prevent your hands from getting tired. Use scented oils.
  • Keep a pen and paper nearby. I tend to think a lot while rolling and have some internal epiphenies. Tell people if you trust them and write it down while it is fresh.
  • Turn off your cell phone!
  • Remember the rules for dealing with police. They cannot kick down your door for loud music. If they come to the door DO NOT OPEN IT and turn the music lower. If the music stops they will eventually go away.
  • Have fun and take care of each other!

My Trip as a Rite of Passage

I do intend to write a longer post about the concept of Rites of Passage but right now I am not quite in the mood for that. Instead I want to compare my upcoming journey to a Rite of Passage that is broken down into three phases (modified versions of what was described by Dr. Grof in The Ultimate Journey): Separation, Solitude, and Incorporation. Rites of Passage have been on my mind a lot lately, at least since Burning Man, and more recently since I started reading The Ultimate Journey.

In non-Western cultures the time of Separation would be when the individual facing the Rite of Passage are taken out of their comfortable social fabric. While this would generally be a relatively instantaneous removal in other cultures for me it is a longer process. I am considering the 20ish days from Alexandria, VA to Kansas City, MO my time of Separation. My reasoning for this is actually based on the second phase. Once I pass Kansas City my interaction with other people will be greatly reduced. The geography west of Kansas City is sparsely populated and my health and well-being will be much more dependent on my own knowledge and strength than it is earlier in the journey.


This step is referred to as “transition” by Dr. Grof but I think Isolation is more accurate for my journey. I will be travelling through plains and deserts alone, sometimes going days in between towns. This is when I will need to be most careful but I also feel like this is when I have the greatest opportunity for personal growth and increased self-confidence in myself. In many ways this journey is a spiritual journey as well as physical. This time of isolation where I can sit under the stars without people for a hundred miles will provide me with a unique opportunity for reflection and meditation. My period of Isolation ends when I leave the ghost town of Bagdad, California.


When I leave Bagdad I will be in the final four days or so of my journey. I will have returned from the wild to civilization. My first stop after Bagdad is Newberry Springs, California. While Newberry Springs is far from an example of big city life it does have a naturist resort that I plan on visiting. I consider myself a home naturist but have never actually participated in anything in public. I find something strangely romantic about ending the isolation part of my journey with a day completely nude, embracing the world, and confident in my mind, body, and soul. I think Dr. Grof would also chuckle at the scene given his focus on perinatal and birth experiences.


Traditionally the Incorporation phase would involve the elders welcoming the new member to the tribe. These elders would all have gone through the Rite of Passage and would be able to share their experiences with the individual. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone personally that has gone through something quite like this. In my opinion I have something better though. My best friend of 20 years will be by my side when I jump into the ocean of Santa Monica after my 3000 mile journey. There also may be a few more members of my Burner family who will be around to celebrate this moment with me. Even if nobody shows up and I walk that beach alone I know the journey ahead of me will be one that will change my life.