Recoded: 29 December 2007
Locations: Ushuaia, Argentina
Tags: free hugs, juan mann, hitchhiking, free hugs guide, end of the earth, antarctica, adventure, ushuaia, argentina, video diary, luck of seven
Music: over the rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
About: it's lonely out here... super lonely. the likely hood of me holding up a sign and heading south is dwindling fast... in between the infrequent hugs, i think about my buddy juan mann. he's the silly fool who became internet famous for hugging the world. juan's just released an illustrated guide on hugging and is making plans to travel the world for his own internet vlog.
i'm just a few hours departing from the other-side of the globe, and i can't stop thinking about the mental victory i have accomplished. when i started this trip and for the first two months, i found myself struggling to leap over my own fears and jump into a different mental state. to be honest, this journey was conceived from a state of frustration. almost like a bad dream, i can feel the the veil removed.
i know i say this with a bit of pomp, but climbing around the world really does change one's perspective. yet, for some reason i want to think that i sought out to find a new world. in reality, i sought out this world with a blank slate and a big scooping of faith. when my first few steps skipped across europe, i was scared. i was really really scared. hell, i'm still scared that i won't make it back to NYC, but i have faith that i will. i have faith that regardless of the two negative commons i've received. i have faith this journey will widen the door on a dream we all hold, but find buried in the back of our storage units.
as i've said before, i have faith in the opportunities we construct and the hope of bringing everyone along. when i look across the global horizon, i no longer see a sunset but opportunity. i see faces i don't yet know. i see a world mired in problems and misconceptions. more importantly, i see how simple ideas of inspiration can create a world of faith.
now that i've woken up, climbed out of bed and picked out the eye snot, it's time to realize i have a little over a hundred more days on the road.
i am at my halfway point.
for the past two days i've been blessed to meet some of sydney's most unique personalities. from pia who started dorkbot sydney, piers who built his own open-source content management system, emily who is organizing a one day festival of inspiration, to juan who has given out free hugs for the past three years... these four presented simple ideas to invigorate community and help grow the global grassroots.
thursday, yesterday and today, i was blessed with a unique opportunity to hang out with juan mann and charlie, his silent accomplice. when i first walked up to juan and gave him a hug, a smile grinned from ear to ear.
yesterday, i was amazed to discover that juan and charlie, like noneck, is just an assumed identity. in a world filled with assumptions, it was amazing to find juan and charlie working to break the barriers of our walled gardens. through love and faith, juan has opened his arms and now (pseudoly convinced charlie) to open their home.
embracing a world of strangers is nothing new. inviting them into their living room is something totally new. actually, juan's take on open culture is interesting. sure he knows about couchsurfing, creative commons and open source. up until he decided to open his living room it didn't really have anything to do with his day to day... now that he's embarking on a open door policy, he's opening the door to open source and open culture.
the follow is intended as a primer for juan's new vlog/blog/social media endeavor. seeing how we both want to see more community based content, i'm going to share my thoughts and let you decide on what to do next...
first, one should think about the character you want to play. are you a devil? are you an angel? are you both? do you happen to look like a super model? does it matter?!
NOPE! if you're thinking about being a real character, do it... who cares?!?! it's your show... remember, on the internet no one knows you are a dog...
now you've realized that you are a dog, you have to think about many things... the dog house, the lawn, where your dog house is located, the fancy dish bowl, the sleeping mat, the food, the collar, the flea spray (which is a must if you're traveling around the world) and most importantly... the color of your dog house. (btw, there's no real correlation between the dog metaphor and what i'm going to write so don't be looking into the deeper meaning. just remember it is a dog eat dog world. RUFF!)
the dog house / your camera and/or studio... what type of environment are you going to set up in? is it loud? do you plan on going outside? do really want to have michael jackson's 80's "beat it" poster on the wall. if you're like me... it's a yes to all of them... if you're going to be outside, think of a camera that has an external mic connection and a mechanism to hold a shot gun mic. if you've got the dog food, see if you can find a camera with an XLR input. honestly, get your hands on different camera models, and see what works for you. don't trust one blog over another.
if you are in a pinch, get a cheap camera with an external audio input and purchase the external audio input contraption. 99% of sound from built in mics SUCK. any-who, if you're going to be uploading to youtube, your video quality doesn't need to be super high def. just make sure you get good sound!
btw, since you let me sleep on your set, it's important to tell your host's not to wear white or a color that matches your couch. i'm sure 6 months from now you'll be playing with 70's special effects and will find yourself in a world of hurt when the blouse of the most recent drug addict knocks on your door and happens to match the paint. so make sure you have a color contrast, and for stage lighting you might want to invest in some dim bulbs for your midnight reading/bathroom lamp/shop light.
the color of your dog house / think of your audience. who's your community? who's your audience? how can you tap them to make a difference? are the first questions you should ask... roll the dice on the first few hours of footage. from my observation, be yourself. you're one hell of a guy and the world needs to know the awesomeness charlie gets to love...
the lawn / the community. first, don't poop willy nilly. when you "gotta go" make sure it's not dumping too hard on someone. second, make sure you try everything in your power to participate and help build up a local (sydney) vlogger community. (maybe the first should go before the second? but if you're crazy character, #1 should come before #2... shit, i now see another pun... oh, and there is another one...)
if there's not a regular vlogger drinking session, create one. if there's not a monthly social, start one. if you don't know whom to invite, poke around metro blogger email lists on google or yahoo (if they exist), otherwise type in ("city"+video+rant) into a search engine, and then email the first gnarly video. you can also tap into the local barcamp, dorkbot or associative geek/art communities.
finally, when you get a really popular show or if you are already a young adventurous producer, investigate NING, but more importantly, check out the jetset show's mix or ask a ninja's fan club - it's pretty much hit every nail on it's head penetrating a nice solid cross pollination between show and interactivity.
(insert zadi's signature snaps here.)
the fancy dish bowl & dog food. let's say you are like juan and want to invite random people from the internet to your house. here's a tip... invite your friends to seed the show then you'll have coned the world people are really coming to your house.
more importantly, think of your friends and how their personalities can make you comfortable in front of a camera. then start recording. friends are GREAT subjects of experimentation. then, work your way up the food chain and invite random people whom you've had contact with over the past few years.
the sleeping mat, or your editing station and workflow. first, don't think you need some fancy-dancy laptop, hard drive, camera, software. i started off using a three year old powerbook, imovie and a borrowed camera. now i'm using a macbook with final cut express and a camera that is somewhat a pain in the ass to log footage.
if you are going to jump into the HD pond, it's a pain in the ass to stay afloat. to boot, finding the time to encode, edit, mix, then re-encode and upload is time consuming. just getting the hang of different editing techniques is a whole bag of wax that will make you envy Madame Tussaud. (the subconscious translation of this para - don't follow in my foot steps, by buying a camera and think it will be a simple flickr upload. it's snot, but with enough time and nasal decongestant you will become a pro!)
the food, the grub / getting your shit out there. i use blip.tv for web playback / syndication engine. what does that mean? once i've uploaded a quicktime file, i can wrap my podcast into my drupal blog and then configure (what seems like) a million and one other external connections to host my show. (por juan) then again, you have youtube connections and you shouldn't be scared in uploading your show to multiple locations... just look at the jetset show or rocketboom and see the multiple feeds they produce. it really does pay off to be diverse.
i would also advise a simple blogging engine like wordpress or blogger (if you're going to tap the google bling). BUT!!! i would highly advise that you look for a solution that wraps your blog's content and your video/audio content into the same RSS / XML feed. if it can't be done, you really shouldn't use it as your blogging engine. i know drupal can do it, but then again i know drupal can also make a vegimite and cucumber sandwich. (yes, drupal is that cool!!!)
the collar, the bling, or the communication network. social network sites, photostream, twitter, etc...
after spending three days with you AND your personality, i would go full tilt and start making your life transparent. first, it's all about wielding a bat in a china shop... don't be scared to be audacious in mobile comments (twitter) or candid photos of finefair tuna cans (flickr) and then when it comes to your blog, kick out the jams. you AND your personality are prime candidates for an MD from interweb comedical university. only you can resuscitate an exhausted web wasted world.
the flea spray, or how to keep the pests away. sadly, you invited me in and you're going to need to order some of this... :P
ok. that's all the free advice i can afford. after this, any consulting must be payed in hugs or good jokes... i'm so honored to have you as my friend!
around the time of my departure, CC Chapman asked me a bunch of questions. while his questions were always on my to-do list, i found myself pushing them aside. then on my last day in delhi, i found myself without power, in the middle of a gnarly rainstorm and without a penny to my name.
while i love CC's enthusiasm, there's a story that you might hear in my voice. when i started the two most recent interviews (jetset & cc's podcast) i was sitting in ashish's apartment, running around trying to understand my own space and my own workflow. too boot, i discovered that didn't have any money to make further travel plans. stuck in delhi i fretted about how to move forward.
so i was depressed, pissed, and concerned... after a few twitters and a few hours later, i discovered who where the real supporters of this adventure...
thank you all!
your enthusiasm has carried me around the world! i'm really lucky to know that my dreams are not just something one can conjure from random blog posts... my dreams are not alone. my dreams are wrapped in a never ending global conversation of hope and opportunity.
THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!!
so i've arrived in sydney! it's my last town in the global south for a little over a month. for the past two nights, i was in the delightful company of ben balbo, simon roberts and a slew of other melbourne geeks who's time was fleeting but memorable. it's truly remarkable how a the drop of a hat we can chat and see a networked world of opportunity. thanks gang!
(btw, if you're looking for my ugly mug in sydney... find me tomorrow morning at Coffee Mornings)
this morning, Janet Hawtin sent me the YouTube video above. to my surprise, Juan from Free Hugs has crafted an open invite for anyone to stop by his house and hang out. as a huge fan of people allowing others to work / hang out / hack at their house, this is surely going to be a treat!
not only does it seem that i'll be one of the first "youtubers" to visit, as my Sydney plans unfurl, my last few days seem to be overwhelming! nonetheless, you can count on me to make the best of a limited schedule... if you have any advice, tips, tricks. send them my way!!!
WED NIGHT - 17 Oct
- sleep on bus.
THURSDAY - 18 Oct
- 08h30 arrival at Sydney's bus station.
- morning, find wifi, have breakfast, coordinate contacts. (anyone have recommendations?)
- post-noon, meet up at Pitt Street Mall in the centre of Sydney with juan from FREE HUGS. we will hug people. (thanks janet for the introduction!)
- 19h00, sydney web standards meetup to hear jo kay talk about second life and mick liubinskas talk about "a trillion tiny transactions" (thanks christy dena for the invite.)
ps - anyone have a place for me to lay my head? it appears i forgot to coordinate a proper place to crash?
FRIDAY - 19 Oct
- 08h00 blogger breakfast at single origin. (thanks emily reed)
- Free day to document my final thoughts on australia with nice touristic backdrops. (editor's note - if anyone want's to be my host that would be fan-tab-ioulus!!!)
- Work my way to Juan's house and document any YouTuber's who show up / make our own YouTube video discussing the importance of an "open door policy" - (also see Coworking & Work at Jelly)
- Evening - Dinner with a Barcamp Sydney Organizers
- Spend the night at Juan's house.
SATURDAY - 20
- pack / organize / fret.
- 14h00 depart for airport and subsequently the United States of America. (i can't wait to find out what questions i'll be asked at customs.)
ok, now i'm off to explore melbourne!
btw, if you click on the photo, you'll be taken to a series of photos shot whilst on the road in AUS.
so in a long and winding road of woes, i've acquired a new set of travel companions.
they are microscopic, can live months on a single meal and are quite a annoying. they are the worst traveling companions one could possibly have. they are fleas. while i'm not exactly sure i have them, i am finding myself bothered by an increasing number of bug bites that seem to originate from nowhere.
in other traveling news. i'm now in melbourne in the humble abode of Ben Balbo, barcamper/flosser/super generous host.... and when i say host, i'm referring to the concept that i'm a flea in his house ;)
tomorrow night (aka 16 October 2007, which more than likely is today because i'm posting this message on the morning of the 16th) ben and a few others will be meeting at the Niagara Hotel (383 Lonsdale St) around 6 or 6.30pm for drinks, dinner and socializing.
come one, come all! ....just don't forget to bring the anti-ich cream. :)
on my last day in adelaide, i was honored to be picked up by Janet Hawtin (an early supporter of this project) and her partner. then to be driven into "the hills" for a series of interviews with a group of geeks from IT share. without janet's support, i wouldn't have been introduced to the wonderful group of geeks who volunteer endlessly building computers for no/low income citizens of the adelaide metro area. no words can express my thanks for her selflessness, introductions and coordination of schedules on my brief stay.
(when you get a chance, check out a card game she's created to explain creative commons. btw, it's GPL'ed for you to rework. apparently beth kantor has recompiled a different configuration.)
as for today's interviews, whew! for two hours, i fired off a series of questions interrogating five members of IT share. limited in time because i started my day late (happy birthday jo and kt!!!), i found myself interviewing geeks who have built an international computer recycling project.
headquartered in the lion's club of bridgewater, IT share meets on a weekly basis to teach others how to build, use, and repair computers. then, these systems are either donated or sold at a low cost to residents of the adelaide metro area.
just recently, IT share, through the help of santos and the australian government, sent a container filled with computers to a hospital in the capitol of timor. armed with F/OSS, the IT Share team deployed over 30 computers, built the hospital's first computer network, connected the network to the internet and educated a team of geeks...
thank you gang! it was a pleasure to meet all of you, talk about your projects and hear how you're hard work is paying off...
yesterday (day 99), i kicked around adelaide, interviewing artists, and gallery hopping with a random acquaintance of jo's.
it really funny to think about how we're all connected. when i landed on friday (day 98), i sat at jo's place of employment (a swank tea bar named "t bar") sipping coffee and wifi. after meeting jo and coordinating a limited schedule of engagements (dinner, breakfasts, birthday party), i departed to find a second hand store (i hoped to acquire a knit cap and/or light jacket - i've spent the past three months prancing in summer weather and am completely under dressed for the cold AUS spring) and find an electrical outlet/fat wifi pipe to upload episode 19 (which never happened due to a crazy WIFI setup).
nonetheless, at 4pm i returned to jo's place of employment for a quick tour of central market and adelaide. as we were walking out, jo ran into akira, an adelaide based sculpture. after a brief introduction and mutual acceptance of randomness, the three of us walked out into the city streets. after an exchange of phone numbers and promises of meeting up on saturday, the three departed ways.
back to yesterday (day 99)... after two days of not sleeping, i grabbed 12 hours of rest, woke up, took a very hot shower, donned my new skull cap, packed up my laptop, hard drive, camera, ipod, and spare batteries. not knowing what to expect, i was gearing my self to do anything.
meeting back at the T bar, akira and i departed from jo's birthday preparations and ventured into the wilderness 1.1 million call adelaide. winding through the windy streets, akira and i talked about our travels and history), how we know jo, his art, our passions, the city and adelaide's new/old tram system which was to open today (sunday, day 100). arriving at the downtown art space, we met up with two very hung over artists / directors / friends. after a bit of quite conversation sans any loud noises, i got the two to spill the beans on adelaide's premier community gallery.
then as quickly as we entered, we quietly tip-toed out of the gallery and walked thought the desolate streets of addy's seedy side of town. (honestly, it's just one street three blocks long with a handful of strip clubs, bars with "pokies" aka slot machines and an honest to god "quick-e-mart".) as the day started late, we found our self just in time to use experimental art foundation's bathroom and by happenstance to meet teri hoskin.
(now this is where it gets weird...)
teri is researching a position at the new school. the new school is located in new york. i use to live in new york (well my permeant address is still in nyc) and i use to attend events at the new school. i also looked at the new school as an undergraduate alternative, but never got further than drinking their cheap wine and cheaper cheese squares. BUT i did get a good understanding of the new school's offerings and could answers teri's question on the new school.
as the conversation progressed, we realized that the new school, new york, akira, and experimental multimedia art were not the only things we have in common. tucked away on the other side of the world (aka nyc), sits one woman whom i've emailed and never received an response. this same woman is the former boss of a one Winnie Fung, a friend and not an alternative member (aka brooklyn coworking). this same woman is good friends with houndbee's girlfriend - houndbee and i met in delhi at oss camp and he rocks audio sound scapes... amazingly, this woman is not just some random person, but the executive director of eyebeam!
how awesome is that?!?! i wonder when amanda and i will finally meet? i wonder how many more of amanda's friends will i randomly meet? i wonder if amanda could possibly be the new media artist code and i just don't get it yet...
well... it's now officially day 101 and i have to wake up at 5 am and catch a train to melbourne...
as i check my global feeds, you should note the following...
- BarCamp Bangkok (google group) is kicking off! (good luck sugree and kenggg)
- kenggg i too miss you!
- tactical tech is hiring for three positions - Director of Operations, Business Development Lead, Communications Coordinator - if i wasn't on this blasted (joking) road trip, i would apply for the business development lead just to roll the dice.
- Open Source Initiative is also hiring! they need a spankin' programs manager to build up OSI's capacity and turn it into a rock star organization.
- thursday, ubuntu gutsy is released and the sydney linux users group has invited me to party with them.
- my friend zadi sent me (via twitter) sent me a "right brain v. left brain" test. not only does the test seem to short circuit my brain, but i'm disturbed by the attention to "detail." maybe my attention to detail is short circuiting the test...
- if you're in australia and if you have an old computer in your closet, consider donating it to IT Share.
- in sad news for all you 'creekers, Brian Jones, class of 96 member, passed away. my thoughts go out to his family. if you're looking for more info on his wake/funeral arrangement get in touch with *kristy* on myspace
lastly, today is day #3 in the northern territory library and it is located in the territory's legislative building. doors open at 10 am. at your disposal, you will find an assortment of global newspapers, a few lonely planets and 10 - 12 computers for public use. if you want to use the computers, you better show up early! within an hour of opening, the schedule for every computer is booked. if you have your own laptop, show up, latch on to their open network and plug-into one of a million and one power outlets. oh did i tell you that the internet is wicked fast?
oh and it's my last day in darwin. now that i've spent a week in "civilization" i'm shocked at the stares and weird looks i get. for two months, i walked down numerous streets not thinking to bits about my hairstyle. now, everywhere i turn i get glances of disgust or comments of hate. it SUCKS to find "civilized" people so self conscious of others. it's a shame there they have nothing else to worry about.
for the past three months, i've been super diligent in making up an itinerary and following it. today, i screwed up. for some-reason, i didn't look at my flight details until it was too late. stuck in darwin two more days than i really want, i have many thoughts mulling an escape. conversely, i'm given much needed time to reflect. with my back up against the ocean, i have laid out a tight time table for my journey to adelaide, melbourne and sydney.
friday morning at 3 am i depart darwin; i arrive in adelaide at 6.30 am. upon touchdown, i am to trek to the central market, meet my friend jo, make fun of her, wish her a happy birthday and then get further instructions.
jo is also the second person who's meeting will span two continents (matan you were my first). jo and i first met in prague while she participated in TOL's New Media course. with the utmost joy, i get to spend the weekend celebrating her birthday and picking up where we left off... starring into the bottom of a glass.
with much sadness i am having to cancel my dinner plans with benbalbo.com and his coworkers. on monday, 15 October at 6.40 pm, i will arrive in melbourne via the Indian Pacific train. my hopes are to spend two nights catching face time with drupal enthusiasts, reconnecting with ben balbo and his peeps, ride trams snapping pictures of the notable street art and attempting to get a bite on the colonial tramcar restaurant.
on wednesday night (17 oct) at 20h i will depart via bus and spend the night driving to sydney.
with aspirations of a glorious sunset on camera, i will arrive at 8.30 in the morning. with 36 hours to gallivant through the sights, i am looking forward to getting the inescapable photo of the opera house. before i depart on the 20th, i am hoping to meet as many geeks as possible, have dinner with a bunch of bloggers, play a little AD/CD kerroke and visit the national maritime museum or the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
today, i used my taxes worth of internet. waking late and walking out the door later, i marched down the street to the Northern Territories' legislative building. after beeping through security, i found a cute little cubical to catchup on flickr, blip.tv, a few emails and more importantly, edit episode 16 and upload episode 17.
while doing this, i only took two photos today. one of a parking meter and another one of me right before i wrote this.
if you didn't notice, today was a video day. mired in tapes out my ears, i've been having a hard time sitting down to edit. while i think i'm getting better, my set up is a pain in the ass. being on the cheap i grabbed my 250gig 7200rpm LaCie hard drive that ways a ton and requires an external power supply (this should remind my boy scout leader of the time i complained about my packs weight after packing 10 steal cans of beef stew). combine the fact that all encoding has to be done in real time, therefore requiring me to set up my camera and chew up another power outlet. painfully, i have discovered video is not like photography. i have to sit down for at least two hours to encode an 85 min tape.
somewhere between complaining, bitching, honesty and laziness sits my last paragraph and my next.
i'm super excited to have five tapes that need to be encoded, pruned, and edited. if my luck bares strange fruit, i'll get some of that done while i'm here in AUS. if not, then i'm going to have a nice thanksgiving treat for you all. maybe for christmas you'll get an apple tv or something media player and get to watch my yummyness over a fat turkey while i'm lost in the mountains of peru.
i've landed on your big island with equally large ambitions. like the first taste of vegimite, i've tossed up my plans and now have something a bit milder. mind you, these plans are equally as exciting!
as i write these words, my ass sits in an overly priced internet booth which i can no longer afford. (and if you're just tuning in, i'm traveling around the world kicking the man's ass and saying "we're here to make this a better place!") SO with that in mind, mark these words as my little request for your contribution.
right now, i have contacts in adelaide, melbourne and sydney.
right now, i only have two set transportation plans.
- fly into adelaide on 10.10.2007 at 18.30h.
- fly out of sydney on 20.10.2007 at 18.00h.
right now, i'm thinking of the following schedule and realizing i won't be sleeping for the next 13 days while you fill in the blank spaces.
- Oct 10 - 13, Adelaide
- Oct 14 - 16, Melbourne
- Oct 17 - 20, Sydney (blogger dinner on the 19th, aka my last night.)
if you have any questions, please feel free to call me at +61.404.653.631
noel (a^t) noneck.org
in the whole scheme of things, i don't have too much time on this side of the planet. it really feels weird to be on the other side of the world and start making plans for halloween on the American west coast. it feels weird to think that i only have 13 days here in australia. like this trip, the clock is ticking and i don't have too much time to sleep.
after a few hours of sleep at chilli's backpackers, five to be exact, i got up took a steaming-piping-hot 20 min shower. then i walked the desolate streets of darwin to find an overpriced hamburger and beer. (btw, everything has the name backpackers in it.. i'll show you in the photos.) after a bit of scrumming, i found a vodafone shop, plopped down $30 ASD and ticked off to watch a glorious sunset.
if anyone wants to call or txt me, feel free to ring +61.404.653.631. it will soon be the only way to contact me in OZ. (i love that it's called OZ. some how i want to look to my left and see a bunch of flying monkeys and on my right a few munchkins.)
as for today's planning, the next few days seem to be more expensive than anticipated. (btw, will the fourking US dollar get back up there!?! it's really killing me that it is as cheep as the canadian dollar. btw, if you're not watching the news, one of the reason why the US stock market is really the US stock rocket, because it's cheep to play in a stock market when your "foreign" currency get's a two for one deal. ) darwin is kinda of a backpacker's trap and a drunk's heaven. everything is twice the appropriate cost. maybe it's a healthy economy. maybe it's the low population. none-the-less, i want to get out as quickly as possible but my options are limited.
1. i can hitchhike and run the risk of standing out in 110° heat for hours only to end up in a ditch under a few feet of soil. (most adventurous option)
2. i can take a bus for $700 dollars and spend 5 days on the road to Adelaide. (most outrageous option)
3. i can train south to Adelaide for $300 - 800 and spend 4 days winding through the country. (most romantic option)
4. i can fly for $200 - 300. (most sensible, least tourist option)
5. i can get "creative" and flyer every backpacker hotel/hostel/rv camp. then cross my fingers and find something suitable. (most idealist option)
note to anyone else planning this type of journey. DO NOT LIVE OFF OF A SCHEDULE! don't get me wrong, i love this trip. i love this journey. i love the people (well except for the mid-20 year old buxum, blond ozzy travel agent who looked at me and point blankly "ewww, indians!?! what do they eat? rat?!! i don't like them because they miss treat their animals."). i love the heat. i love the adventure, but at the same time i feel that my adventure is coming to a bit of a plateau.
now that i'm back in a "civilized" "culture" the luxury of walking into a supermarket (which i also did today) seemed so tame. i no longer have to doge mosquitos, flies, scooterist, bad fruit, bad meat, hawkish vendors and pickpockets. nope, now it's a world of "q's" and canned pees. oh the woes of coming back to "civilization"
oh well, at least i there's a large hot water tank someplace around.
this was original written somewhere over the south pacific.
as the hour turns, i cross the equator for the first time. in a nondescript tiger airways airbus, i find the toilet really doesn't flush counterclockwise, i find no big celebration, i find nothing special about this landmark event.
yet my heart, my head, and my stomach bounce in delight. it might have been the most recent copy of the economist or the $3USD korean ramen or 100g of a dark chocolate and hazelnut concoction. but somewhere deep down inside, i think it's because i'm finally making it to australia.
many years ago, when i was in junior high, i use to hang outside the principles' office. surround by wood paneling and a trophy case of the school's awards, my hacker/geek/outcast friends sat under the sole pay-phone wondering how we could harness it's copper to escape from our dreary midwestern lives.
on the weekends, my father and i would drive to book's and company (the most cosmopolitan book store in dayton, ohio) and pick up our monthly addiction of computer magazines, mondo 2000, and 2600. during the week, my friends and i would sit next to the principal's office and scheme up plans to take over the school's PA system or hack the LED student council sign or plan our next 24 hour LAN party.
we were kids. we were geeks. the internet had yet to find it's way into our daily life.
one day, in a fit of youthful frustration, i called quantas and made a reservation to Australia. before the agent hung up, my dreams were dashed. somehow i would have to muster $5000 USD and apply for a visa.
seventeen years later, i have taken care of the two.
while my original plans had me in country much longer than two weeks, my flight to hawaii came at a high cost - fly out on Oct 20th for a few hundred or fly out later and pay close to a thousand - SO my first three days in australia will be spent in darwin sorting my bearings, catching up on emailed contacts, planning my US roadtrip and gathering steam for my trek across australia.
on monday, 8.10.2007 (or 8.10.2007 depending on which side of the world you're on) humpy doo, katherine, newcastle waters, tenant creek, alice springs, coober pedy, woomera, adelaide, melbourne, and sydney will no longer be names on a map nor places a crocodile dundee movie. they and the places in-between will be filled with faces and their stories'.
my flight to OZ was enjoyable. jammed in the tail with a young newly wedded couple, we shared our stories of phuket over a bowl of noodles. as the husband dozed, i composed my thoughts on a road-trip across the outback.
upon arrival i found a short line for foreign nationals and expected to breeze right through. after a small delay with my "T" status. i was stamped through passport control into a customs waiting area.
being honest, i had check off the small little box saying "hi, i've been in close contact with farm animals." not that i actually touched any animals, but seeing how i was in the rural india country side i decided to play it safe. if they looked at my passport and asked me questions, i'd rather play it safe than attempt to hide anything.
apparently, that one little box, was enough "material" to lead me down a long road of questions, interrogation and bone shaking discomfort.
as i've kicked around filling out passport/customs cards, i normally enter researcher as my job title. in egypt, blogger or journalist might have received extra scrutney. in india, i entered as a "researcher" giving a "presitation" at a few barcamps. only on my entry into the UK did i recessive questioning on what type of research. everywhere else, my passport was scanned, noted and stamped without question.
in OZ i spent an hour preaching to the uneducated. confused and bewildered, the customs agent wanted to connect every physical little thing with the "research" i was doing. armed with thoughts of rejection, i started to get nervous.
then when i offered to show my website and a few videos, the customs agent eagerly said yes.
my downfall came when i presented my laptop with a lovely little sticker from CLUB 27. you know the lonely club of famous artists who have died for one reason or another at 27. drug overdose, murder, suicide - jannis joplin, jimmy hendrix, kurt kurbain - the image of a shotgun and sureng clued her that i might be a drug dealer. i then spent 20 mins answering my drug history. from my first puff to my accent in amsterdam i gave her a detailed history of accidents, pranks and idiotic.
on the outside my voice cracked, my hands shook and sweat pored down my face.
in the eyes of god, her majesty the queen and this female customs agent i walked into OZ.