Climb the Mountain

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac

There are certain quotes that just stick with me and serve as a type of motivation. The above by Kerouac is one of those quotes. It is such a succinct reminder that our lives are finite and the moments that matter, that make us unique (as individuals and a species), are the ones where we are pursuing our own passions. I don’t really have a desire to climb a mountain, but there are things I want to do that can get lost in the daily shuffle.

I am not the only one. Many people want to write books, explore the oceans, travel the world, or build a business. It is this passion that manifests itself uniquely in each individual that has helped our species explore the world and wonder about the universe. It is easy to forget what we love and to lose our child-like curiosity about what we can become. It is easy to embrace the status quo and ask ourselves “why rock the boat?” This is the wrong way to look at things, we should ask ourselves “why not?”

Flipping the burden of proof is what we should do regularly in our lives, and is the premise for a new book that I am proud to be a part of. When I decided to flip the burden of proof I discovered that staying in the job and city I was in was holding me back. I asked myself “Why not quit my job?”. Of course, there were reasons not to quit my job but upon analysis it was clear they were not strong reasons. Every excuse I came up with could be overcome in a way that brought me more freedom, more peace, more happiness, and more goddamn mountains to climb.

I was not the only one. A dozen authors, from all walks of life, collaborated to put together a book about flipping the burden of proof. If the idea of expanding your life, trying new things, and exploring your potential is appealing you can find out more on our Kickstarter page . If you support us getting this product in print you will receive a copy of the book as well. I hope you will consider it, there is a wide world out there and sometimes we just need a little motivation and a few examples to take that first step into exploring it.

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Windfucked

Pre-Post 1: Well, despite my half-ass efforts I have not really maintained this blog in addition to the other two I’m running. I think I will just start posting the same thing here that I post on the blog for our 2-year bike ride, Barely Functional Adults. This was originally posted on April 20. As a reminder,this is pretty much an uncensored version of the events of our bike ride. If you are uncomfortable hearing about sex, drugs, profanity, etc you should check follow our PG-version at www.10LegsWillTravel.wordpress.com . This is a warning. If you don’t want to hear about these adult actions please leave now

Pre-Post 2: Also, we have set up a GoFundMe account for our ride. If you enjoy the adventure or just want to receive a post card, booty pic, or vegan meal check us outhere**

Pre-Post 3: If you would like to see all our pictures you can check out our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/10legswilltravel.

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Okay, then… to recap, we are in a hotel room in Santa Maria and I think the date is 4/16.The hotel room gave us a much needed break and for once we didn’t smell like the awkwardly terrible mixture of sunscreen, sweat, dirt, hippy, and excitement. We hit the road excited and our path continued along the beautiful scenery of orchards and farms. I did get a flat tire early in the day but that is to be expected daily. That is one of the things about travelling as a group instead solo, your chances of hold-ups increase greatly. Two tires will go a week or so without a flat but with 10 tires we can pretty much guarantee a busted tube each day or so. We stopped in Arroyo Grande for a food resupply and coffee but it took longer than expected because the Albertsons in this town is terribly designed and doesn’t have bags… seriously, they don’t have bags for you to even purchase. Fucking stupid.

After the resupply we had a pretty decent ride to our sleeping location, a little college town called San Luis Obispo where we had a host from Couchsurfing in a freaking bus. A magic bus. A magic festival bus. A magic festival bus of awesome.

Our host was actually at Lucidity Festival and lived similarly to us. He is a burner who lives minimally and builds his life around community and experiences instead of things. We had a great time talking to him about festivals, cops, drug use, and life in general. I hope our paths cross with him again someday, and I am pretty sure they will. The universe kind of works that way. We caught up on a little work, shared a beer with our host, and charged our devices before crashing for the night.

We didn’t bang though, which is kind of a shame. “Banging in a magic school bus” isn’t exactly an item on any of our bucket lists but it would have been a cool bit of information for future drunk rounds of Never Have I Ever. It didn’t happen though because of logistics… not “people are around” logistics, we clearly don’t care about that, but just adventure logistics. Despite our increased sex drives from daily exercise we are all kind of mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day. Basically, Anna and I will lay in bed horny but feel like getting the condoms out of the backpack on the other side of the room is just way too much effort. So at best we just half-ass grind on each other and pass out.

After leaving San Luis Obispo we headed towards Morro Bay on the coast where we had to make a pretty important route decision. We could either head up the PCH or cut over the mountains and take the inland route north. We ended up deciding on the inland route because it was safer. The first day or so of riding towards the new route would suck with the elevation but everyone we talked to said the PCH is hell for cyclists up here… narrow roads, lots of turns, low visibility, and shitty drivers. So inland it was.

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Morro Bay was an interesting experience. The town itself was a cute little place right along the coast, very different from the busy hustle of LA area beaches. Everything was in walking distance and you got the feeling that most of the people knew each other, but it clearly had some issues. There was a strong separation between the residents with houses and the residents without houses. In fact, we often were treated fairly poorly because we appeared “homeless”.

Actually, fuck that term. The term homeless is wrong. The people who we talked to us who lived on the street weren’t homeless, they were houseless. A home is a place of love, family, and community and these people had all of those. What they lacked was a piece of property that our society says, mistakenly in my opinion, is necessary in order for you to be a respectable person. Words matter and the term homeless helps steer people away from what is really going on. To lack a home is seen as a character defect or something deserved, it is the inability to make connections and have loving relationships. Being houseless sounds more temporary or an intentional decision to live without something… much like being car-less or tv-less. Technically, all of us on the ride our houseless but we certainly aren’t homeless… we actually have many homes, filled with love and support, in Los Angeles, Washington DC, Portland, St. Louis, and everywhere we roam with our friend-family. The houseless people of Morro Bay are no different, they are intelligent, loving people who clearly had a community and a city that they cared for and about. Some of them may want houses, some may not, but to call them “homeless” is to ignore the issue and in many ways dehumanize them. Home is love, and they had love, what they lacked was property.

We left Morro Bay in the mid-afternoon knowing that we wouldn’t make it to another town before needing a place to sleep. The route through the mountains had some good climbs to it so we wanted to break up the day a bit and camp out in the woods. We had a scare or two as crazy people on the highway during the first few miles decided slowing down for 10 seconds was a waste of their time and worth risking our blood on their windshield, but after we hit the back roads things got much better. We had a beautiful climb along some pastures and the whole area made us think of Ireland/Scotland… which we have never been to but I almost expected a painted Mel Gibson to come running over the hills wielding a giant sword and yelling FREEEEDOOOMMM!!!!

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The paved road ended and we continued the ride on gravel through a heavily forested area. Time was ticking and we were quickly in need of a camping spot. Luckily we found a clearing with some abandoned sheds on it. It probably belonged to someone but it didn’t have a fence around it and was flat and safe. We had some dinner, pitched our tent, and got settled in for the night. We were all a tad nervous so we had sex to relax our nerves. Anna and I did our thing while Hans busted out the vibrator. We were all pretty close before this ride but at this point there really is nothing that bothers us… we’ve had sex in front of each other while sober, held conversations while peeing near each other in full view, talked about poop, etc. Walls are stupid among family.

The night went without incidence and we awoke with the sun and got an early start. The first part of the day was almost entirely uphill and we had to walk most of the time. It was draining but the ride was gorgeous and it gave us some time to chat and enjoy everything. Life can fly by so fast, even on bike, that you can miss the wildlife and connections that make living more than existence. After a couple hours we got to the top of the mountain, took some pictures, and started our smooth and wonderful descent into Templeton, CA.

Templeton was just a pitstop for us but it was a good one. They had a Trader Joe’s and a coffee shop with a very friendly employee (manager? owner?) named Joshua who loved what we were doing. We talked biking and adventuring for a bit while we got some work done. I would have liked to talk to him more but, as usual, I was tired, awkward, and felt a bit rushed as we planned the rest of the day. We quickly moved on to Paso Robles where we, unintentionally, spent the night.

As the sun was setting I blew a tube and for some reason the pump was having some issues. I couldn’t get it to fill up the tube at all… I would later find out that the tube was defective, not the pump. So, thanks to the generosity of our friends we tapped into our savings and got a cheap hotel room nearby that was dog friendly. We were able to clean ourselves, charge our devices, and catch up on Game of Thrones (as fate would have it the two episodes that we had not seen were both on HBO that night). We got a little sleep and were up early again for the road.

Originally we planned on getting up at around 7am and knocking out 55 miles to King City. We were running behind, as usual, but it was a good thing we were. As we were loading up our stuff we met Pam and Mike, two fucking amazing people who have an organic farm in southern Oregon. They were actually supposed to be at a different hotel that night so it seems the universe kind of brought us together for a moment. For about 30 minutes we discussed many aspects of life from government to spirituality to veganism and I’ll just say that they are our type of people. They kindly offered to let us stay at their place when we come through the area later this summer, an offer that I am looking forward to taking them up on. They loved what we were doing, our views on relationships and family, and I am sure many other things. I hope they are up for some chats over a cold beer, I think we have a lot to share with each other.

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The miles flew easily by throughout the first part of the day (Saturday, 4/19… for those keeping track, I can barely remember) but after our picnic things got kind of shitty. The afternoon winds hit us head on as we rode through the Salinas Valley and our pace slowed to a crawl. It was kind of like riding your bike with two flat tires through mud while someone slapped you in the face with sand over and over and over again. Quite frankly, we were windfucked… or windraped as Hans put it because it wasn’t consensual and no didn’t mean no.

Our motivation was dying slowly, tears were being shed, and every time I looked down at our speedometer to see 4.7mph I wanted to just give up. On all sides were hills creating a wind-tunnel that seemed designed specifically to give cyclists hell. It became increasingly obvious that we wouldn’t make it to King City before darkness took over the land, much less with time to hang out and rest. We had no choice but to look for shelter as we came into a 200 person “town” called San Lucas.

I spotted a church and headed there hoping that someone would be inside and could grant us permission to sleep inside, or at least put our tent up near the building for shelter. The church was barely standing and nobody was inside so we decided to just risk it and set up our stuff on the back side out of sight and out of mind. We had already been seen by about 5% of the town and the last thing we wanted was more attention.

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That night was one of the scariest of my life, and by far the scariest since I left the army. Hiding in a small town where you don’t know anybody turns every sound into a potential enemy. For better or worse we are designed to err on the side of fear. Dogs roaming the streets became Cujo. Footsteps became murderer or rapists. Cars became gang vehicles looking for an easy drive-by target.

For all my beliefs in “people are good” and similar philosophies that shit does not mean anything when you are in an unfamiliar place in the dark surrounded by potential hostile forces. Words and beliefs are worthless shields that can be shouted by martyrs but won’t keep you alive and safe. It made me realize how different things were when I was in the military and equipped to defend myself and others against “all enemies, foreign and domestic”. A firearm is not a theory, a firearm is solid. Metal in your hand, a weapon to protect, something that you know exists. Freedom, community, and peace are all concepts that become worthless and their potential for non-existence becomes glaringly obvious when compared a tool gripped firmly.

So, as we became known to a big dog who liked to come around and bark at us hourly throughout the night, or as we heard someone working on their car at 3:30am, I didn’t fall back on “people are good”. I put a weapon in my hand (a small camping ax… all I really had), I stayed awake, and I tried to trust my training to lead me to the best decisions possible… the decisions that would keep us safe, or at least cause as much damage as fucking possible to any would-be attackers.

But, as is often the case, the sun rose without incident. My fears turned out to be nothing more than shadows and dust. When I saw the dog that wandered by hourly it was clear that it was no more of a threat than the roosters that stayed up all night making noise (Sidenote: Fuck roosters. They don’t crow at sunrise, they crow at sunrise, 1am, sunset, because a car drove by, because a dog barks, 11pm, and for no reason at all. Why do people own those foul beasts.). With light from the sun illuminating the cloudy world we packed things up and hit the road the final 10 miles to King City where we decided to take a day off from riding, camp at a county park, and just relax.

CTRL – P

We live in a wonderful new world where knowledge and information can be sent at nearly the speed of light across the globe. The Industrial Age is giving way to the Information Age and with that revolution there are bound to be forces that fight this evolution. Government, as always, is one of those forces. Government thrives off of the status quo and control of information, every tremor caused by new technology gets the bureaucratic machine moving to slow things down and those in power fight to maintain it. But in many ways the genie is out of the bottle, you can’t stop the internet or exchange of information except through tyrannical restrictions that are nearly impossible to impose on an armed, diverse public spread over a large geographic region. That doesn’t mean the state won’t try though.

I believe that 3-D Printing will revolutionize the world. From ears, shoes, art, human organscars, homes, and guns the ability to input blueprints into machines will change the economy in ways unknown since the internal combustion engine, assembly line, and printing press. It is the idea of a 3D Printed gun that has sprung the state into action, but the ramifications could be far reaching. The government has utterly failed in the past at restricting information, from copyrights to state secrets it seems that the truth will always get out as the market moves faster and can adapt to changes than bureaucrats can fathom.

What I find interesting about the current demand from the State Department to take files offline (files that have been shared 100,000+ times already and are being hosted in countries around the world) is that they have not accused the creator of a crime. They are ordering the restriction of spreading information, a right protected by the 1st Amendment, while they investigate if a crime was even committed. They are enforcing punishment without even the accusation of a crime, much less the conviction. If the government is allowed to control what people talk about and what ideas are shared online they have rendered freedom of speech void.

I have always been curious how far gun control advocates are willing to go. I’ve heard some say we should ban all guns, but that raises some practical questions that could have far reaching effects on individual rights. If I can’t buy or own a gun can I build one? What constitutes “a gun”? If I can’t build one can I draw diagrams and write down how to build one? If not, can I discuss building them with my friends? How much speech are people willing to censor when the subject is something that is uncomfortable for some but causes no harm? It appears the state believes that blueprints sent in electronic format should be stopped… that information should be stopped… that discussions should be stopped… I wonder if they will be willing and able to send agents with guns to stop “free” people from talking about guns.

On The Edge

mostlyonthedge

“Each person spends a lifetime engaged in a single overarching project: designing his or her own life. To be this thing, this person, to do it just  the way you want, and to be satisfied with it, that is the major artistic endeavor and creation of our individual lives.” 

I love when dear friends recommend books to me. I feel like they often know my tastes better than I do. That was exactly the case with Karl Hess’ autobiography. When cracked the book I new next to nothing about Hess. I’m not really a well read libertarian, most of my views come from my own self-reflection and discussions with friends. I enjoy reading but I often don’t have the patience or the desire to dive into the classics or even modern political analysis. That’s just not how I work. Lucky for me, that isn’t how Hess writes.

I feel within Hess a kindred spirit. A person who would understand why I rode across country, why I live my life my own way with little concern with laws or social norms, and why my first principle continues to become love. Hess was a man that had many chapters to his life and reading about how he lived and his views has really given me a new perspective and respect, particularly for “beltway” libertarians.

While Hess lived and operated often on the fringes of society he did have his days working in DC and within the established system. I am often critical of the DC life and those that live it, I’ve come to find my criticism is unfair. Those within the beltway are doing good work, it isn’t my work, but it is good work. We all have skills and passions, and as libertarians I believe we should encourage all paths to freedom. If someone is not causing harm I consider them my ally.

Hess’ real focus though was on love. He loved his life and lived it to the fullest. He loved his family and neighbors and with this love pursued activities that would enrichen their life as well as his own. His passion for community and fighting illiteracy shows a man that wants good results, not good intentions, and rightfully sees well-meaning bureaucracies as generally destructive to charity. His love of creating led him to be a sculptor, a welder, an architect, and an artist. He wasn’t defined by a job, he was defined by his passion. When asked what it meant to be a perfect anarchist he didn’t respond with “resistance to authority”, he responded with being a “good friend, good lover, and good neighbor”.

I couldn’t agree more. If Karl was here I would thank him for his life well lived, something that inspires and encourages me to pursue my passions despite the risks or criticisms I may face. I get one shot at this life, there is no reason to refuse new experiences, taking risks, or having many diverse chapters. I know I am certainly going to do my best.

On Drug Use and Legalization

So, that video is a 30ish minute recording of the panel I was a part of during the SSDP conference in Denver. I actually haven’t watched it so I am unsure what was removed from the 75-minute session. This session (and the posting of this video) did get me thinking about why I support drug legalization, generally support drug use, and why it is such an important issue to me.

The primary reason I support it is a philosophical belief in self-ownership. I believe your body, your mind, and your labor belong to you and you are free to do with it as you wish unless you infringe on the body, mind, or labor of another. Doing something that society perceives as self-harm is not reason enough to use violence or threat of violence to stop the action. It must be understood and clearly stated that any and all government action is violence. There may be times when violence is justified but to prevent what some consider self-harm is not one of those times.

When someone tries to prevent a someone else from harming their own body or mind what they are saying is that the body and mind does not belong to the individual. Instead, these people (who often have the best intentions) will state that the body or mind belongs to “society”, god, or family. In reality they are exercising control over another person’s body and mind against their will which is the same as a weak form of slavery. Beyond the philosophical view of self-ownership there are also pragmatic reasons to support drug legalization, experimentation, and use.

One of the reasons closest to me personally is medicinal use. The idea that a politician or a bureaucrat could decide a substance has no medicinal value and is highly addictive without any evidence backing it up should disturb every person in this society. Besides marijuana (whose potential medicinal use has been heavily documented and put into practical effect in many states) MDMA, LSD, and many other drugs have many medicinal uses and lack any relative addictive potential. As just a few examples MDMA has been used to treat PTSD, LSD has been used to help with alcoholism at a rate 5-times Alcoholics Anonymous, and both have been used to treat end-of-life pain and psychological stress. Basically, the people who hurt the most in society could have their suffering ended by these drugs but it is nearly impossible thanks to decades of mis-information and political desires. MAPS in particular has been doing great work in this area.

In addition to potential medicinal uses the cost of prohibition is just too damn high. The social and economic costs have ballooned so much that resources are being flushed away to enforce very minor offenses. Every dollar and man-hour spent investigating and arresting drug users is a dollar and man-hour not spent investigating and arresting rapists, murders, and thieves. Priority should be given to fight violent crimes, not vice crimes.

On the social side of things we need to ask ourselves if criminalizing drug use is the best thing for the family and society as a whole. Is a family better off if their drug using parent is getting medical help for addiction but still able to work or at least be with their family, or is the family and society better off with the user in prison? When non-violent offenders go to prison they are surrounded by violent offenders and they receive the stigma of being a “con” which allows for legally authorized discrimination. A family and society is not better off if drug users are treated like criminals, they will be separated from their kids and families, and be unable to provide for their families as effectively in the future leaving everyone worse off. I think everyone would agree that jailing someone for addiction or misuse of alcohol would not help society, but we treat less dangerous drugs differently for some reason.

The last two reasons are somewhat intertwined but I feel are important for our limited time here on earth. I believe drug use can help us each reach our potential and they are incredibly fun. People like Steve Jobs attribute their success and creativity to LSD, Michael Phelps regularly smoked marijuana, and countless other athletes, artists, musicians, philosophers, authors, and economists have used drugs to expand their minds and to just enjoy life. We do lots of crazy things to get the most out of life, some people skydive, some travel, some fish or hunt, some put on pads and run into each other, and some use drugs. Leisure and pleasure is a valid reason for drug use, for without it we would be doomed to a dull and possibly painful existence. These two reasons are why I not only support legalizing drugs, but also recommend people try drugs they are interested in as long as they act safely.

To this day I have not heard a good argument grounded in research to keep drugs illegal. There certainly are logically consistent arguments if people are honest with each themselves though. If you feel that damaging your body through certain drugs is bad because your body belongs to a specific god and some people represent god then it does logically follow that them outlawing drugs is okay. If you believe the current power structure where politicians control lives, imprison peaceful people, lie to the populace, and destroy families and individuals is good then yes, drugs should remain illegal. These arguments may be sound but they are not arguments that represent any concept of “good” that I recognize.