Author Archive


April 10th, 2009

I met a gentleman named Dennis in Nebraska that said this to me:

You from Cali?  What are you doing out here?  All there is here are cows, corn, wheat, and a bunch of alcoholics.  I no longer drink, so I’m moving outta here (sic).

To experience what the Great Plains and surrounding areas had to offer, I spent several days during the week working at a horse ranch and farm.  I shoveled manure, fed livestock, drove a tractor and Bobcat, and learned the intricacies of grain as well as the upsides of farming.  I am wont to think that the man fits the job and not vice versa, but the job beckoned me and drew me in with its simplicity.  It was dirty.  It was foul.  It was serendipity.

Though I have physically labored in previous jobs, working on a farm was different.  It was therapeutic – I received a great sense of gratification knowing that my body was aching after work, and, though hectic at times, found it to be quite soothing and tranquil.  Doctors should recommend a couple days working on a farm instead of a weekend getaway at the spa to destress.


Homeless shelter

April 6th, 2009

A couple nights before, I nearly froze to death in Dodge Hill, the windiest city in America.  Last evening, I sojourned at a homeless shelter to escape the bitter cold, after a wind advisory was issued.  Though I am beholden to no one, I am thankful for the ecumenical efforts to provide overnight shelters to indigent transients.  Without such a place, I would be forced to suffer through another miserable night, an experience that I hope not to relive anytime soon.

I understand why homeless shelters are so popular.  They have decent food, entertainment, and toiletries.  In true American spirit, I had overabundance of pork chops, green beans, and an interesting white bean soup, providing me enough calories for the entire week.  It was a great reprieve from the canned food and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that I consumed during the past fortnight.

I just dropped off a homeless man at a truck stop and am currently waiting for my car door to be repaired.  A gust of wind forced the door to open at an angle beyond the normal range of motion, causing a gap while closed, and, whilst driving at higher speeds, makes noise reminiscent of a whistle that is as irritating as nails on the chalkboard.  I am lucky that repairs in Kansas are less than half of what they are in California.  Minimum wage can afford one a much better standard of living here – even a wheat harvester can afford his own dwelling.

Life in Kansas is satisfactory.  The countryside is beckoning me to stay a couple more days.  I just might oblige.

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Moral ambiguity

April 5th, 2009

I am walking the fine ethical line.

Take this scenario:

You enter a hotel and use the bathroom not as a patron, but as a guest, because fate dictates that you cannot hold your bowels, and you must use the closest facilities, which happen to be inside this hotel.  It is indubitably clear that nothing is awry here.

Now, let’s suppose that coffee is sitting on a table, which happens to be next to the restroom, but also adjacent to the open dining room that is widely accessible to you.  Free coffee, you say.  Why not?  The person who entered into the hotel before you picked up a cup.

Suppose now, that the dining room has food – fruits, pastries, soda, and other delectable refreshments, and suppose that you are now extremely hungry after completely emptying your innards.  Simple, you say.  There are plenty of places where you can buy food.  But what if you have no money to go elsewhere to fulfill your fleshly desires?  Would you be at the mercy of your appetite?

Extending this scenario once more, suppose that you booked a room at this hotel with your companion and that breakfast is not included with the stay.  Your friend decides to wake up early and shell out $10 for breakfast while you, in your pitiful state, decide to sleep in.  If, on the way out from the dining room, he grabs an apple for you to eat, is it wrong for you to accept it?

This simple illustration has massive repercussions.  What is theft?  What if survival dictated that you steal?  Is there a right answer for the above dilemma, or dilemmas that are mildly more complex than a straight line from point A to point B?  Though the fine line of truth is razor thin, may it not be only the prude that reserves himself to answer such ethical questions.  It is the folly of man to not raise himself above instincts and it is but a positive hindrance to the elevation of oneself.  To propose a decency any less makes us no better than the savages of humanity that we shun.

I find myself in increasingly difficult situations where I must make a sensible effort to determine if my actions are in the right and if my conscience accepts them.  At the present moment, I am in a hotel piggybacking free wi-fi it offers to guests.  Is this wrong?  Let wisdom and scruples be the judge.



March 30th, 2009

A couple days ago, I hitchhiked after the tendons in my shin were about to buckle.  The fourth car that passed my way picked me up.  The man and woman in the car were well traveled and were of refined character.  It was a singular experience, that split second decision to ride with complete strangers – the moment in which my heart stopped and my mind blanked, where the visceral led me – and it was the ride of my life.

There are those who decide to abandon picking up hitchhikers because it can be quite perilous.  The person or persons that decide to do this assume the dangers of theft, rape, and murder.  One that is able to do such is both bold and altruistic.  The well-being of another stands above his own safety and comfort.  I would analogize it, to a lesser extent, to saving a person from a burning building.  It is during times like these that the benevolence and goodwill of humanity are shown, where man’s character will be judged, dissected, and forever be emblazoned across time. America’s pastime seems very much alive, even if the murderers and rapists have ruined the once glorious image.

My faith in humanity has been restored.  I believe it is still possible for system wide change, and that history will not repeat itself as long as there are those who are willing to defiantly step out and evoke this change.  I’ll leave you with an aphorism from C.S. Lewis:

It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.



March 25th, 2009

Many have inquired about why I chose to do a solo trip.  I would fain say something, not about why I chose this route, but about what I observed.  Most people are frightened, or, in the very least anxious about doing anything by themselves.  Many cannot escape common fears that pervade mankind – the fear of rejection, the fear of being judged, among a myriad of others.  It is never too late to give up our fears and our prejudices.  There is no concept so new or a practice so old that should not be put to the test.  And to test it we should, because it is the only way to better ourselves, to elevate mankind, and to acquiesce to the inner voice that bellows for truth.

Before I left, my mentor mentioned that extended travel with companions is destined for failure if everyone doesn’t share the same vision. I have been reading Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, and it has spoken volumes to me. Though it has passed its sesquicentennial, the book holds timeless wisdom:

I heard it proposed lately that two young men should travel together over the world, the one without money, earning his means as he went, before the mast and behind the plow, the other carrying a bill of exchange in his pocket. It was easy to see that they could not long be companions or co-operate, since one would not operate at all. They would part at the first interesting crisis in their adventures. Above all, as I have implied, the man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready, and it may be a long time before they get off.

It is hard to find someone whom shares the same musings and insights. It is equally tough to discover another whom shares the same lifestyle and temperament.  When you find the person that satisfies all these, hold on dearly.  Such individuals come by once in a blue moon.

I suspect that marriage can be analogized to companions on a road trip.  When the going gets tough, it often seems easier to leave than it does to solve problems.  Modern day technological advances and conveniences were supposed to indicate a more satisfied and fulfilled life.  Yet in the country that leads others in these respects by a wide margin, roughly half of all marriages end in divorce.  Could one of the main ingredients for a successful marriage be to have a similar vision in life?

Good night, and good luck.

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And so it begins

March 23rd, 2009

The time has come. A new chapter in my life has started. To mark the turn of the page, I went bald. Here are the before, during, and after pics. It’s true. Shaving the hair makes you feel naked. My head is more delicate than my inner thigh. Everytime the wind blows, I feel like someone is prodding me with a feather probe. But on the upside, no one will want to mess with me, which means I don’t need to buy a Rambo knife for protection. When I get to the Midwest, people will think I’m the first inducted neo-Nazi Asian skinhead.

My trip was delayed by several days due to last minute logistical measures and unforseen events. I finally have all the bare necessities that I need to start the trip, including some duct tape, in case my hood flies off.

This will be my living room, dining room, bedroom, and transport during the trip. It is too bad that the only ones I will be entertaining are the likes of Thoreau and Covey.

The official trip begins today, where I will ride into the sunset for Death Valley. Goodbye forever?

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