ok, now that i look back on the past seven months and i see a about a ba-gillion and one things that i could have done different... but in the end, i'm am more happy now than i ever could have thought. i am at peace with my self and more importantly, i am at peace knowing we have much work ahead.
for those who are planning a similar exploration, i'll warn you... the hardest part of traveling the world is finding balance. it is one thing to absorb, and then there is another to complete work. yes, i do mean work. don't get me wrong, shlepping has it's payoffs but sometimes you'll find it hard to leave the safe confines of an apartment for yet another drive, walk, or exploration of the environment...
now combine that with a active campaign seeking out an angle for good content. if you're like me, after seven months you'll find it quite hard to fit the world inside of a camera, and after having a forest gump running moment, you realize that you're tired of running and you just stop... it gets even harder when you've run out of money, the weather is shitty and you are stuck in houston, tx.
two weeks have passed since the official end of my journey and i find myself at the tail end of my illness, not the subtle illness of a chest cold and/or parisian flu... but at the end of some monumental aliment that took me to the end of the darkened tunnel of love and was rescued through the hospitality of normality.
so for the last two weeks i've been a smooth rock, skipping first from houston, then into NYC - i had to reconnect with my bestest peeps/sleep in my bed, but like a good skip, they sent me sailing across the pond for yet another home coming...
many years ago when i concocted this crazy idea, i drunkly called up my airline miles and planned a little adventure to a small little city in switzerland. with the little money i had, i purchased a conference ticket and then scouted out ways to stay for free... at the advice of a friend, i found couchsurfing.com and a little technology convergence titled LIFT.
three years later, i'm on LIFT's main stage spewing my crazy idea of my global journey, hugging the world, meeting new friends and still couchsurfing.
now, for the past week and a half i've been in paris bouncing from a friend's couch (the ex-girlfriend who sent me on this journey), picking up the parisian bug, aka the illness (and when i mean illness i mean the desire to live here and i also mean a serious cold), then bouncing into the lovely arms of Dr Miggy whom i met in houston (and was making her first international voyage), and back on to my friend's couch.
during this time (that being the seven months on the road) i've languished in writing, detailing photos, and videos......and i'm just now realizing that only a third of the story is public. luckily, now that the trip is over i don't have to worry about new content, i just have to find a job and series of NYC couches to hold me off for a month... (more to come later)
so now that this journey is physically ending, i'm not gonna worry too much about NEW content. NOW the focus starts on the stories yet to be told... the 50 some odd hours of video a massed. the hundreds of pages scribbled here and there. the thousands of over exposed / underexposed photos that tell more about the people than the places... frankly, the more i think about it, the more it excites me. i now get to relive the journey from the lenses of my self, i now can be the spectator of the adventure i took, and you get to join me!
so seeing how i still haven't found an employer, i can take the liberty to say that i'm going to follow my heart and relaunch this project and look for funding on using following framework... on 07/07/08, i'll reboot the vlog and start all over again giving you weekly episodic content that combines what happened "a year ago" and what's happening now with the movie / book / luck of seven strategic framework (btw, i'm going to crystallize the seven topics into a new cagey / guru need not apply / corporate physiotherapy / "hey look, the geeks at the front of the classroom have social skilz and we're going to harvest an evolution" / < insert your witty t-shirt catch phrase here>)... so in a year's time frame (marchish 2008) all of this should parlay itself into the release of a documentary film...
just so you don't think that this is your uncle's wacky disneyland adventure where you're force fed sugar and told to sit still, this documentary will feature many "call outs" for content... for example, i want a really cool hand drawing video (a-la, make mag's weekend projects / four eyed monster) that sketches the world and colors the continents as i bounced or special effects, etc, etc, etc... in other words, a number of tasks that allow you to help fill-in the kernels of content that i can't pay to produce, nor know how....
long story short, the story is just beginning... below i've selected a few photos that since i last uploaded photos on my last day in ushuaia.
it's been over a year since i started fundraising and today we broke $7,000 USD. (thank you Josh Tabin)!
the next 24 hours are my last. tomorrow, by this time not only will i be in the air floating over the south and the mid-atlantic states, but i'll be floating on a cloud of your support, your love and your generosity. you have taken me around the world...
while on the road i've met our neighbors. no longer separated by countries, news outlets or mediaries... without a doubt we are connected to the same lawn with a bit of pond in between us all.
now on the last day of my journey, i am $742 USD away from achieving $7,777 USD. the next 24 hours will be your last chance to pre-purchase a copy of "the luck of seven" children's book i'm writing. the next 24 hours will be your last chance to immortalize a dream and forever stand on the shoulder's of a giant.
LIVE THE DREAM, CONTRIBUTE TODAY.
these people rock! add consider adding your name...
Michael Nutt, Josh Tabin, Michael McColl, kushtrim xhakli, Joe Vieira, Erica Douglass, Chuck Olsen, Megumi Nishikura, Nicholas Schroeder, and My Parents...
photo from punkjr on flickr
item #1, advice from my father.
today, i received a few inspirational notes from my father... while i know they are a bit muffled in verse, i was able to hear the sweet tone of loving comfort. let me hum a few bars...
"don't stop thinking about tomorrow. don't stop it'll soon be here. It'll be better than before. why not think about times to come, and about the things that you've done..."
yes, sometimes it's hard to distinguish between my father and fleetwood mac...
the past year has taught me more lessons than i could have possibly dreamed. those dreams found people who not only believed in exploration, but believed that collectively we can accomplish our dreams. though every hello, hug or heaping plate of food, we did it. collectively we've explored the internet world, but we're not done yet.
now i find myself in a precarious position. every night, i dream about the places i've been and the things i've done. painfully, i roll and roll debating endlessly what's the best way to engage the world within this dream, and how to make a living. i checked my bank account and only found $75... but more on that later...
so now, here i am back in america trying to understand everything i've done and make sense of where i'd like to see the world... honestly, it's stressful carving out a grandiose vision of the future based on seven short months. any-who, so work for the children's book presses on...
item #2, my nyc return.
after thinking that i should call my good buddy jonathan, i carelessly blasted out an email routing people to a bar which in perfect pursuit of happiness should be at the end of places to experience in brooklyn. don't get me wrong, it's not a bad place... it's just a better place to end the night. in lew of this miss judgement, jonathan and i are crafting a triumphant return to brooklyn. (btw, you might remember jonathan as the partner of val; the two glorious hosts at the start of the journey...)
yeah, so i'm returning to NEW YORK CITY on saturday, FEB 2nd at 3pm (15h00). well, that's when my plane lands... i'll then find my way onto the subway, down the long corridors of the MTA and then into the arms of a few friends. while i'm jazzing my way back to billyburg, i need you to grab your camera and some ridiculous looking outfit and make your way to the hipster capital of the world.
starting at 5pm (18h00) you are invited to meet me at 303 bedford ave, brooklyn, ny. the bar is/was called wells, but don't worry about a thing. we're commandeering the sound system and maybe brute forcing a discount (thats'a joke, jon is a bartender and we might get a sweet deal if enough people show up). afterward, we'll saunter over to IONA and then over to the keystone bar of the night, SPUYTEN DUYVIL.
item #3, the future as mentioned in the past.
as my around the world journey ends, a new one begins. i am so poor you won't believe how poor i am. over the past two months i've spent less that $600 USD to get by. for the past month, i've been beggin for handouts and frothing at the mouth for free food. i've max'd out my only credit card (actually i owe them $800 in late charges). i've got $75 bucks in my checking account, and $8 dollars in my wallet.
if you look at my ticker, i still have $700 USD to fundraise (which won't even cover my credit cards, but i've called them and they "kinda understand")... and if the phone call from my roommate is any indication my housing situation, i'm gonna need to kick in close to $900 in rent...
so what does this mean to you, the reader... well, one thing... my life has taught me to follow my heart and build on what i've learned. next week, when i land in a foreign country without a euro in my pocket, i will proudly stand in front of some of the world's smartest and extoll tales of our journey together. (for you geeks out there, LIFT is like TED but for normal people.)
if you haven't pre-purchased a copy of the luck of seven children's book, i hope you consider contributing $11.11 USD. if 70 people purchase a copy, i won't ask for another cent... (that's until i start the mel brooks swag campaign) if you've contributed and can contribute a little more, that would be awesome! thank you for making dreams come true!
a big thanks to the most recent contributors - KUSHTRIM XHAKLI, Megumi Nishikura, and Joe Vieira.
(btw, i'm also need a job, if you know of anyone who's looking for a well skilled student of new media, send them my resume...)
i stand and look out at the wonder that is the world. beneath my feet, embedded in my flip flops are the peeples of discomfort, the ignorance of sand and the wet and wild world we call earth. in four short days, my journey will officially end. in four short days, i will return to new york city.
it's been seven months from my bed, my friends, my "stuff," and any notion of disposable income. i know little has changed; i know i am not the same. as the days wind down i face another moment of reflection. each passing mirrored moment, i see a million lessons wrapped into one epic journey.
but for this this morning, my brain feels a bit scattered. maybe it's the strong texas coffee. maybe it's my body still recovering from Barcamp TX and three nights of restless sleep. maybe it's the fact that i now see my footsteps as a thin film of butter on a global piece of rye toast...
maybe it's the understanding that for everyday after next, the job gets tougher and tougher. no longer can i skate bye and say, i'm skimming the global ice. now it's time to tighten up the laces, grab the hockey stick and summarize my understanding into the back of a net.
for the past two weeks, dr miggy has given me the gift of love and a small little space to carve out my ice sculpture. a week from now, i will be penniless in geneva while having the honor to help host the open stage conversations at LIFT. subsequently, i will get five minutes to present my sculpture. :)
...but before the moderate temperatures of time start to melt my understanding of the world, the following are the seven lessons of this journey...
"when facing goliath, bring your own sling shot." - egyptian linux users group; open source software users in egypt.
"the end of the world is a great place to put ideas on their head." - cowork central; providence in ushuaia
(btw, i originally started to break out each lesson via continent, but quickly discovered that the lessons were mirrored everywhere. these seven lessons are will grow to be the basis of the children's book and the documentary film.)
honest dealings with yourself and others. (it's harder than you think)
tipping / gifts are valued in every situation.
wait a min, others are slow to react.
take one step beyond.
beauty is everywhere.
drink lots of water.
make funny faces at kids.
forget hand shakes, hug.
you only need two pairs of underwear.
repeat bad jokes.
learn bad words in other languages.
nap when you can.
always cary earplugs.
in every language, learn to say thank you.
always cary pen and paper.
embrace flip flops (aka thongs or slippers).
always have a camera.
pack lightly. no, lighter.
get your vitamins
pick your friend's nose or learn to trust your friend's nose.
watch one sunrise & sunset a month.
there is an awesome pair of pink safety glasses in Vancouver.
sell your friends, but never for money. don't worry, they come back.
call your parents.
trolly tracks + bicycle + amsterdam = danger will robinson!
enjoy sleep deprivation.
find a rainbow and follow it. if you don't see a rainbow, make one up.
“show your soul” - from souldier
“be still peace will come to you” - old guy in boston
make your own stuff.
fake it, until you make it.
eat and drink local.
when in doubt, try it.
deodorant is cheep and readily accessible.
embrace the weather.
afternoon tea is good for you.
most cabbies will stiff you.
art unlocks more doors than butter knifes.
a smile is priceless.
“smart” people are ignorant, and “nice” people can be rude.
wealth is a mental condition.
turkish ice cream doesn't melt; pheonm phen features happy pizza, and Vancouver is known for their pot. (three things i did not try.)
you'll eat with your hands more than you think. wash your hands and face frequently. don't forget to keep your fingernails clean.
forgo the bus, there is a train that connects melbourne to sydney.
a good book gives you room to write. a better book will write on you.
give people a reason to give.
remember to look in the mirror.
embrace hair or lack of hair.
note your experiments and seek multiple results.
never trust an egyptian customs agent.
befriend the rastafarian at the end of the world.
balls and honor.
look at your footsteps, but don't measure them.
be the first to volunteer.
homeless people want youtube.
digg a fox hole.
join a kickball league.
make dinner and invite random people.
learn new games and teach them to others.
auto white balance is always wrong.
a meal will unlock more hearts than a rainbow.
there are more similarities than differences.
bring toilet paper.
learn to take cold showers.
befriend a quebecer named alex.
don't eat at an american fast food chain in cairo.
religion, practice don't preach.
open your home to strangers.
the holy trinity - happenstance, providence and shit.
outsource your news to people who don't get paid to write it.
politics, policy and pornography will take you nowhere.
religion and commerce are interchangeable
everyone needs something to build.
read, write, build. - jullian bleaker
ride a rocket-ship and tour the stars.
don't take yourself so seriously.
behind the next rock is a new friend.
love is a blind, blubbering hobo who will pass you countless times uttering not a word until one day he knocks you on your ass and gives you a key.
have a back up plan, but don't write it down.
in Argentina they love salt.
never pass up a free meal.
chastity is a virtue.
art is laborious.
embrace manual mode.
the journey starts and ends with sunrises in airports.
when it comes to religion, everyone is right and wrong.
while ignorance was found everywhere, more was found amongst my fellow north americans than anywhere else.
pop music around the world sucks.
bart simpson rules the world.
wolfs are everywhere and so are sheep.
reality is a perception lost to the eyes.
the dude abides.
Agua from gallo1 on Vimeo. "A group of tourists requires water to the airport police, after remaining nearly one day, trapped in a Union dispute."
global voices article + video + reality distortion filter (BBC News, USA Today) + me = in houston recovering.
for now i'm licking a few wounds and trying to remember the past 3 days. more to come later... many apologies to brazil... by tomorrow afternoon, you'll have a lovely video, story and videos to boot.
in many ways i feel that i should retitle this journey as "the luck of seven - the re-education of noneck." in reality, it's more discovery than education. when i departed NYC, there was a blank screen with ideas to note, places to walk and face to see.
with 11 days till my six month anniversary of departure, i know these few weeks in ushuaia are just the start. coddled by my global family of geeks, the end of the world features no wikipedia entry, no bulletin board, no hospitality club of wayward transportation. the step from here to the last continent is going to be rough (and of my own decision).
out of all the antarctic travelers whom i met, there's not a single one who hasn't paid less that $4,000 USD in transportation costs (and that's just the boat and hotels here in Ushuaia). while deep down i know there is another way, i know that it won't be easy. the lonely planet guide to boat hitching is clean and simple - don your largest smile, grab some cash, go to the water front and wait.
with temperatures hovering up and down in the 50°s (teens°C) and the wet weather less than perfect, i've been reluctant to be brass. short of donning a skimpy cocktail dress and hitting up every tourist bar, i've scratched every possible option only to find no easy winning number.
as i've pondered these externalities, i've internalized a few of them and wonder where is my ushuaia? if my future idealist vision of the world is antarctica, what part of civilization is closest to it. granted there's a bunch of hard work between here and there, but where do i find that port city that has the most opportunities?
when this trip is over, i'll be living in and out of houston, tx to be with the 8th wonder of my world. when this trip is over and for the next year, i have a long walk back to humanity - i'll work on the two luck of seven books, a movie and finding funding for the three. while my physical placement might be temporary, dr. miggy and i will spend the next year researching our next port of call.
after everything i've seen, touched, smelled and tasted, i can not give up finding the illustrious seventh continent.
i don't know how to title this entry, let alone what to say.
my departure from houston is a mixed blessing. 55 days from now, i will arrive in nyc. 55 days from now, i will complete my journey. 55 days from now, my heart and mind will see the world like i've never seen the world before...
unlike other departures, i found something unescapable. wrapped in beauty, dipped in southern comfort, educated in the complexities of humanity's humor, i found something that will bring me to houston time and time again. 50 some odd days from now, i will embrace someone who's reaffirmed my belief in humanity's never ending quest to solve our deepest problems. like the other side of a coin, the two of us are tied to this place named earth seeking to solve the cancer that grows in all of us.
for the next 55 days, i will have a cancer that only one person can cure.
(click on your favorite unfocused smile to see more photos from my time in houston. the back story to this photo is fairly remarkable. i walked into the Brazilian consulate and discovered that i had forgotten my headshots. with a point to the closest CVS over a mile and a half away, i knew that i'd never make it there and back before the visa window would close. as a buckeye, i knew microcenter as one of the first computer super stores to have fully functional products on display. located two blocks from the consulate, it was serendipity. with a quick "hello, i'm a geek traveling around the world..." mike from the printer section "demonstrated" the printer's ability to print out photos. in less than 15 mins, i was back at the console. THANK YOU MY GEEK BUDDY! YOUR RANDOM ACT OF KINDNESS SAVED MY ASS!)
today marks my fourth day in houston, tx and i already feel at home. i must thank erica o'grady, matthew wettergreen, michelle calabretta, patrick and christina kwiatkowski and the mike from microcenter. like a long distance runner, i can feel the weight of every step. i know that this run, no matter how long i'd like to extend it, must end; ever step brings me closer to the finish line. yet, somewhere over the oceans of humanity, i know what i've set out to accomplish will never end. the final jaunt between houston and new york lies the sprint of a lifetime.
while my houston adventure is shaping to involve debauchery, religious, intellectual, artistic, spiritual, social and technological adventures... my psychosis is carefully balanced between the fine line of editing 15 hours of footage and planning out the last two exploratory months.
it's important to note that the next few steps are extremely important. while my travel funds are running on fumes, i still need to balance the acquisition of tickets with the need of cash to pay for these tickets. after much research and soul searching, there are two goals i must achieve
- visit antarctica
- interview the largest open source community in south america (aka brazil)
i'm tossing in argentina for a bunch of historical, logistical, political, and coworking reasons. if you're in buenos aries, you now have a coworking facility to visit - check out Cowork Central. i know i'll be looking forward to my time.
the following is a sampling of events and/or interviews i'm looking to achieve.
Dec 15th - Jan 11, Ushwaia, Argentina
- start my hitch hike to antarctica
- christmas and new years at the bottom of the world
- interview couchsurfers
Jan 12, Buenos Aries, Argentina
- back for a night / layover
Jan 13 - 27, Sao Paulo, Brazil
- Andre Avorio, barcamp & open source evangelist.
- citizen journalists
- potentially mozy on over to brazilla or Rio to interview a bunch of government officials / business owners who use open source. (i still need contacts!!!)
Jan 28, Buenos Aries, Argentina
- one last night in Buenos Aries / layover
Jan 29, New York City, USA
- arrive in my home city and couch surf for a week before traveling to an undisclosed location to present my findings.
if you know of someone who has a couch to spare, shoot me a line...
if you're in any one of these areas and would like to meet up. please, contact me...
if you know of any cool organizations that would augment this global documentary, shoot me a line...
if you have access to a government official or educators who promote open source, hook me up...