(click on the photo for my second day on the train)
after a full day of praising the wonder of EDVO, i done gone and left the damn modem on da train. a fool i am; pissed i got. btw, i'm extremely surprised how well most of the sunset photos turned out. i haven't changed a single pixel from camera to flickr!
if you get a chance, check out alex's write up worldchanging. i love this little quote...
Geek with great enthusiasm! Noel is full of that spirit, and he can be a difficult narrator, but his blog is also full of thoughtful, sensitive, intelligent citizen journalism about the moment in which we find ourselves.
to be honest, i just thought i was a bad writer. ;)
now back to Leonard Cohen's sad thoughts of humanity.
(photo flickr user jpmatth, click on image for the amazing original!)
with my long distance train adventures in north america, i've always wondered how the united states can kick out the jams and revolutionize it self as a leader in long distance transportation. if you've ever ridden a long distance train, you know the beauty of sitting back and letting the conductor do the driving. in north america, it's not always the quickest, but it sure is the most beautiful journey. away from the distractions of modernity and transportation infrastructure, amtrak takes one though the wondrous back road of america.
with a verizon EDVO usb adapter connected to my mac and my mac plugged into one of the few three pronged 120 volt electrical outlets, i'm cruising the country side working away at changing the world.
while the food is hearty, it's really not healthy. the tracks on the other hand are a cluster mess. most of this journey has featured long winding turns on single pair of tracks. stopping for freight or other passenger trains has delayed us by a few hours. ever so often we pass by a freeway, a orchard, vineyard, or small town. inch by inch we craw down the west coast of america.
with the cost of petroleum increasing and gas prices on the verge, i wonder if it's time we take a few pages from the open community playbook and think about pulling our resources together and see if this great nation can spearhead a nationwide conversation on alternative transportation. if you don't know about the unconference, it is a workshop like / peer to peer conference where individuals present issues, problems, solutions or host conversations to the issues surround the central topic.
just imagine if ordinary citizens from around the nation gathered in homes, community centers, schools, etc to talk about what they can do to change their transportation woes?
imagine if each group went to city hall and invited the transportation director to chat with them.
imagine actually engaging them in conversation.
imagine not inviting them, and formulating your own alternative plan and then visiting city hall?
imagine taking a few pictures, writing up a mini-press release and sending it to the newspaper to say "we did it! we're planning another one! we want you to join us!"
imagine if Amtrak riders around the country submitted THEIR ideas and plans on what amtrak could do to improve service... (ie healthier food, wifi, more outlets, etc...)
imagine if they filled in a wiki and promoted it on trains and had people vote for their favorite ideas.
someone should contact my buddy Tomas Purves and ask him to open up transit camp's framework.
(this is a total departure from most of my ramblings... i'm exhausted, but i want to get my "fresh" thoughts on "paper." all y'all should note i listen to the motorcycle dairies like a rechargeable battery pulls it's juice from the wall. track to track, i find an energy like none other... am i alone in this???)
from vancouver to Seattle, i sat with a cast of characters. boarding a amtrak chartered bus, i found myself surrounded by stereo typical travelers - the sports junky worried about customs, the hot college coed, the two friends setting out on a long journey, a preppy couple who had a copy of the ny times, a few hipsters, grandmas, etc...
as rain pounded the roof, we all waded through customs, reboarded the "secure" bus and shlepped to seattle. as we drove through the foggy morning in "upper northwest" (really it's all subjective, in vancouver they call it the lower mainland), the sun caressed the horizon which illuminated mountains to the left and large bodies of water to the right. somewhere through my drowsiness, i too caressed the mountainess coach chair to my left and to my right, i poured out a widow into a never ending water world.
once in SEA, i found myself in the same tiny train station from which i departed. with my eyes barely working, i found the seat assignment keyosk and requested an ocean view. as an FU to my mental state, the vending machine decided to stiff me on my morning ritual of M & Ms. after a solid five mins of cursing, banging and a 110% vagrant disposition, i convinced the machine of my worthiness and was granted my treat.
as i stood to board the coast starlight, i danced (ie wobbled back and forth trying to keep balance) as i looked around at my fellow passengers.
i wondered whom i would meet. i wondered whom i would befriend. i wondered about their destinations, stories, but more importantly, i wondered which cute girl would fancy this bearded flip-floping hobbit.
would it be the hipster from vancouver or the mid-20's vixen wearing an unusually light sun dress for a cold day?
would it be one of the three young college coeds or the layered granola crunching intellectual?
would it be the grandmother who's traveled around the world or would it be married woman traveling without her husband?
after scoring a seat with a rare electrical outlet, i crossed my finger on whom my join my bench. as my luck would turn, i got the acid washed early 40s stoner who interjected "dude" instead of "ahum" or "ahh." behind me and to the left, sat a woman who's disposition suited an afternoon cocktail party, not an early morning long distance train. directly behind me and next to the boisterous three cups of coffee, sat a cute fashionable question.
tipped with firey red hair, this late 20 year old sported flat-black calf high boots, a teal dress of notable distinction and black leggings. the dress looked really familiar. the style was something i had seen a few times before. either in nyc or sf or some other hipster sub-capital. i knew the cut, the frills and somehow i knew the personality would be interesting.
as the train departed, i fell back into my previous state of traveler's coma. an hour or so later, i woke up and ran to my lunch reservation in the a dining car. (btw, what a rip off!)
upon my return, i was blessed with the two women blabbing away and my bench mate passed out sporting a nice collection of drool. tired and alone, i settled into eavesdropping mode. as an observer, i've found myself enjoying the conversations of others... when you've already developed a distain for someone's attitude, it can be a real treat!
behind and to the left, the older woman clad in "funky" jewelry provided enough comments to paint a picture of a strong independent upper-middle class woman from the united states. sounding like a blend of a million and one other conversations, i dreamt she lived in a comfortable house, struggled with her life's investments and more importantly, she was more concerned how others perceived her and her husband. (all of which was confirmed as the conversation wore on...)
sitting to her right sat the fiery red head who was verbally amazed by every burning autumn leaf. from topic to topic, i heard an open, inquisitive and fiery disposition. too boot, i heard the voice of a self made woman. when she said the words "school of hard knocks" my heart skipped a beat. i wondered who was this woman. more importantly, i wondered how to interject an introduction.
by the stroke of luck, the conductor announced we would be stopping in portland for a "fresh air break." within a matter of mins... oh wait, snap! so, there was a glance. when the two got up to get lunch, i sat typing away. next to me sat mr. spicoli (as "fire" would eventually come to describe him). somehow, someway, we made brief eye contact, but too brief to be substantial. ok, if "fire" would have dropped a hanky, then it would have been substantial... so off they went... glare, look, glance noted...
then, when the conductor called out the fresh air brake, i hopped up and to my delight so did "fire." amazingly, mr. spicoli stood in front of both of us. as a die hard smoker, he was ready to pound a few sticks in the 5 / 10 mins we had outside. as we worked our way down the stairs, "fire" commented on the characters and i was taken back... was she talking to me? was she being coy or snotty? was she calling me a character?
regardless, i knew this was my one opportunity. if i screwed this up... i would be screwed up. so i shot back the classical "oh, i think we're all characters."
low and behold, that one little line set off a chain of events that would force me to turn around and hanging over the back of my seat for the next few hours. when we re-boarded the train, "fire" pulled out her old ibook and i was like... "whoa, can i steal some of that?"
in ease, i built an itunes playlist of rock n'roll, jazz, soul, 60's and cover songs... ahem, i am that high fidelity guy. i have that disposition where i judge people by their musical tastes. i know it's such a bad thing... and if you're female and i make you a mix tape. watch out! ;)
maybe it was her light blue eyes or her constant application of a fiery red lip gloss... but every movement seemed to be in slow-mo. i was completely transfixed from topic to topic - indian pizza, dysfunctional family, fashion, music, technology, social networks, self made adventures, etc... every comma, apostrophe, period and question mark had my total awe. if this wasn't enough, she was to be in vangroovy from monday to thursday, but had to cancel to attend her grandmother's funeral... instead "fire" routed to her way to seattle. can some one say "star crossed?
it was weird to think of destiny and the world that exists beyond/after this project. it was weird to have chet baker's "my ideal" stuck in my head after so many months of celibacy. maybe this is a T.M.I., but when i started this journey i dreamt about being a casanova and meeting the love of my life. i still dream that i will find the love of my life... but i now fear that the love of my life is something that's beyond any one particular person. AND that really freaks me out...
well, i now have a crush and an address in SF which will soon start to receive post-cards. :)
as i've cooled my jets, it pains me that i'm not going to take a road trip across america. since ciaro, i've realized that i haven't sat still in one city for more than four days... SF is one town where i know i can get a bunch of interviews, talk shop, and get some work done (edit video too). so instead of hoppin in a jaloppy, i'm going to bus, train and plane my way up and down the west coast and then fly to ohio. it really does make me sad, but it's what time, energy and money can afford.
the following is a list of people whom i'll try to interview. the list isn't complete so if you have any good peeps to recommend, holla at http://luckofseven.com/contact
San Fransisco Metro Area
david cohn from new assignment / freelance networked journalism
eddie codel from the hat factory - sf coworking & vlogger
neil drumm - advomatic, drupal, hack4dean
craig newmark from craigslist
darian rodriguez-heyman from Craigslist foundation
amit gupta from photojojo and "work at jelly"
colin brumelle from MixedContent LLC & drupal and ruby on rails developer
zack rosen from Chaper Three LLC, drupal association & mission bicycles - a SF bike startup
chris & tara from Citizen Agency / barcamp / coworking / online grassroot communities
schlomo rabinowitz - coworker, vlogger, socialite
erica olsen - second lifer
tantek celik - microformats & open standards
brad neuberg - coworking originator & programmer
ben rigby - Mobile Voter
david sasaki - outreach director of global voices
OAK to SEA - $180
Thursday, Nov 01
Departs: OAKLAND CA (OAK) at 2:20 PM
Arrives: SEATTLE TACOMA WA (SEA) at 4:15 PM
Seattle to Vancouver
Train: 510 Cascades
Monday, Nov 05
Departs: Seattle, WA (SEA) 7:40 am
Arrives: Vancouver, BC (VAC) 11:35 am
Michael Meyers and Michael Tippett from NowPublic.com & citizen journalism hounds
Robert Scales from Rain City Studios - Barcamp Organizer, Drupal
Boris Mann from bryght and Drupal Association
Kris Krug - flickr photographer & president of bryght
Workspace - a coworking facility
Vancouver to LA
Friday, Nov 9
Departs: Vancouver, BC (VAC) 5:30 am
Arrives: Seattle, WA (SEA) 9:15 am
Train: 11 Coast Starlight
Departs: Seattle, WA (SEA) 9:45 am
Arrives: Los Angeles, CA - Union Station (LAX) 9:00 pm on 10-NOV-07
photohunt with julia
zadi and steve wolf from the jetset show
micki krimmel from revver / world changing
Halcyon from Hug Nation
Jerad - Movie director, Vlogger
julian bleecker - scholar and researcher
ben cerveny - theorist & philosopher
tony katz - radio personality
scott smith - programmer
BUR to CMH
Thursday, Nov 15
Departs: Los Angeles (Burbank, CA) at 8:54 AM
Arrives: Columbus, OH at 3:58 PM
Recoded: 20 July 2007
Locations: Angel, London; Brighton, England
Tags: erider, tactical technology collective, luck of seven, documentary, citizen journalism, hacktivism, non-profits, open source
Music: random band at moo.com party
About: on the worst possible day to travel, i decided it would be a smart idea to travel from london to brighton. with the tube flooded, freeway and surface trains submerged, i arrived in brighton a few hours later than expected. despite nature's attempt to thwart my meeting, dirk slater and i spent the afternoon talking about technology, hacktivism and non-profits.
Tactical Technology Collective
GRO Case Study
Circuit Rider - the global eRider community
Tech Rider Email list - http://npogroups.org/lists/info/riders-tech