branching out

July 3rd, 2010

on thursday, i turned 31.

to celebrate, i wandered around san francisco with my friend ambur.

we visited several independent bookstores, got a taco, commissioned a $7 reflection on pickles and the number 31 from a man sitting on the corner of haight & ashbury with a typewriter and a sign reading: ‘pick a topic. pick a price. get a poem.”, met up with rongo! for dinner in chinatown, and saw the last airbender in 3D.

i also thought a lot about my goals for the year, and launched a new blog.

i have been thinking about splitting this blog into several more focused pieces for a while now, but i keep getting distracted, and in the meantime, my real goal is to just start writing more, anywhere, about anything, and for whatever reason i am having a hard time writing regularly here because i have this preconception about the sorts of things i want to write about, and it hangs me up.

so for my birthday, i decided to try starting fresh and clean, with the simple goal of writing something every single day for a year, just to see what happens. after a bit of brainstorming with ambur, i chose the name revolution 31, because that’s how many times i have traveled around the sun now, and also because the project is a vehicle for change.

i am using wordpress.com, instead of hosting the blog myself, because i want it to be as easy as possible, and i keep recommending wordpress.com to friends, so it will be good to keep my inside knowledge up to date.

i figure i’ll still blog here sometimes, or at least cross-post some things, but if you’re interested in following the whole year, point your feed readers to http://revolution31.wordpress.com/feed/.

now back to celebrating that other revolution.

cue fireworks.

how many barrels of oil does it take to fuel an american life?

June 23rd, 2010

so this oil spill is fucked up, and there are really no two ways about that.

i have been waiting, i guess, to process the scale of the tragedy, not really sure how to wrap my mind around the quantities involved, or the implications that will surely continue to emerge as the food chain is disrupted, the currents disperse, and storm season begins.

i have also been waiting, i realize, because scandal and catastrophe are becoming so commonplace that my initial reaction when something terrible happens is to resist being sucked into the circus of mainstream media coverage and reactionary online commentary until after the opening parade has passed and i can begin to get a sense of what’s really going on.

now it has been two months, however, so i can’t justify a holding pattern any longer.

this tragedy is real, and it is difficult for the press to inflate it.
we could still happen upon a miraculous solution.
or, you know, aliens could show up and offer to help us in exchange for our loyalty to the alliance of gnib.

but in the meantime, oil continues to spill, no one can really say for certain how quickly it is flowing, and it is starting to feel like all we will ever be able to do is sit here and watch the numbers climb:

at some point, we are going to have to figure out how to move forward. we are going to have to accept that children born today may spend their entire lives in a world where the gulf of mexico is black and too toxic for swimming. that shrimpers and fishermen are going to have to find new sources of livelihood. that our insatiable thirst for oil and willingness to ignore safety violations until enforcement becomes a meaningless rubber stamp that corporations don’t really have to worry about actually earning, as long as they know how to make nice and hire the right middlemen, can lead to real devastation.

we need to admit that we are playing a high-stakes game here, and it is very possible to make mistakes that we can’t take back.

as we search for a silver lining, or at least for ways to alchemically convert our frustration into impact, it is very tempting to believe that this may be just the wake up call we need to curtail our oil use.

for starters, outrage against BP is rampant, and the creative catharsis is humorous and fun to look at. but while high-level investigations continue, and we wait for the scales of justice to weigh the arguments on all sides, most of us are left with a profound sense of powerlessness. a boycott of BP stations is tempting, at first, but it is important to remember that gas stations are locally owned and managed by people with nothing to do with corporate HQ, so please consider the big picture if you feel yourself drawn in this direction.

BP Logo Redesign

image via GreenpeaceUK

finding ways to cut back on gas use is more promising, and existing grassroots efforts to motivate a critical mass to change their habits are enjoying a surge in popularity, which is good, but only time will tell if the surge will lead to any long-term behavioral change.

i have been thinking a lot about gasoline consumption over the past few years because i have been on the road so much, and now that my transmission has kicked the bucket in an expensive way (yeah. hugh is dead. sucks.), leaving me carless, i am taking the opportunity to consider my next steps carefully.

while i’m here in watsonville, my mom’s car is available for basic transport and emergencies, which is very convenient. in other universes, where i am still commuting to work in san diego, or in the middle of driving cross-country, i imagine that i am much grumpier.

as it is, i am taking the opportunity to rest a bit, acquainting myself with public transport, and scouting for bikes. what i will do next is still uncertain, but since i have a bit of leeway in my decision period, i am tempted to do something dramatic, like pledge to not buy another vehicle unless it runs on biodiesel, or natural gas, or is a horse.
:)

the dual punch of the oil spill and the loss of my car is perhaps a blessing, because these ideas that we hear all the time – we need to reduce our dependence on oil! find alternative fuel sources! promote public transportation! – are all so familiar that we almost risk tuning them out, or participating mechanically on bike to work day, which makes us feel good, like when we recycle.

but when it really comes down to it, i am realizing that even with the best of intentions, i was viewing the crisis point as sometime far in the future, and that is dangerous.

when will the turning point come, if not with a tragedy of this scale? do we really need to wait for all seven horsemen to show their heads? or are we already so jaded that we’re just digging out bomb shelters, stockpiling canned goods, and backing up our hard drives so that we have every episode of lost to keep us company?

i guess that’s a start.

meanwhile, i have decided to perform a playful thought experiment.

if we were previously going to run out of oil on day x, and i was therefore going to be forced to stop using oil at around that time, how much sooner will that day come because of the oil spill?

you know, like those statistics that tell you how each year of smoking takes so many years off your life?

what i want to know is: how many years of driving do we collectively lose for each day that the oil spill continues?

i crunched some numbers, and using the rather conservative estimate of 20,000 barrels of oil being spilled a day (this number keeps rocketing higher, and everyone disagrees about the flow rate, but no one seems able to dispute that the number is at Least this large, so i will start there), and the estimates that the department of energy gives for gallons of gas per barrel of oil, and the EPA’s assumptions that Americans drive an average of 12,000 miles/year at 20 miles/gallon, we get the rather amusing answer (for apocalyptic conspiracy theorists) that we are losing 666.66 years of oil per day.

taking an average human lifespan of 66.6 years (for the sake of round numbers and fun), this means that, for every day that the oil spill continues, we lose 10 driver-lifetimes of oil.

i like this statistic so much that i made a little chart:

Chart of Oil Spill in Lifetime Supplies of Gas

so, at the two month mark, we have spilled a quantity of oil which, under other conditions, could have been distributed across 600 lifetimes.

go us!

as i said, this is just a thought experiment, and a rather silly one, at that.

basically, my brain is attempting to put the oil spill into terms that make some kind of sense to me, numbers that i can relate to my own life, and use to try to motivate myself to truly grok the scale of this disaster.

in my quest for understanding, i hit upon this 10 lifetimes per day idea, and suddenly, i saw 10 future-people in some imaginary line in some big office building where they hand out ‘lifetime supply of gas’ ration cards. the future-people are standing there, waiting, reading old magazines with all the crossword-puzzles filled in, and they’re cranky, and hungry, and the air-conditioning is broken, and it’s almost their turn! but then… the window slams shut! they stand agape, not knowing what to do, and a pasty-faced bureaucrat in a suit that’s too small, with a tie that looks like a cheap piece of christmas ribbon, sneers at them and says: “oh ho! all gone! sorry, buddy! no gas for you! too bad about that oil spill back in 2010! that was YOURS!” and then he cackles maniacally and the vision fades away…

what can i say? my brain is a strange place.

but future-people aside, i think that measuring the oil spill in lifetime-sized chunks is useful. if instead we were to look at it alongside the ridiculous amount of oil we use each day, or share it equally among all licensed American drivers, our personal share of the problem starts to look very small (~ 0.002 gallons/day), which is a tempting consolation.

continuing this line of reasoning, we could theoretically tell ourselves that it will be possible to recoup our loss from the oil spill if we each agree to reduce our gas use by some fractional amount each year, which would be a lot easier than figuring out how to go without gas entirely.

we can remain calm, and keep fighting obesity with reduced-fat potato chips.

the problem with this is that, years down the road, when we have made up for the lost oil and learned to live comfortably with this fractional reduction, we will all still be demanding more oil, whereas, if we begin to take more drastic steps today, some number of us will instead be free.

[cue inspiring video clip of birds in flight with soothing vocals in an melodic, yet unfamiliar language]

the goal, as i see it, is to do whatever it takes to change our destructive habits so that the future will be different, not to simply make the tiniest concessions possible in order to continue our bad habits forever in a watered-down form.

i mean, we’re running out of water, too, you know…

so take my chart or leave it, as you see fit.
:)

i will continue to seek ways to reduce my oil use, and i will tell you what i decide to do re: my next vehicle.

suggestions are encouraged.

and yes, i understand that, when it comes to making sense of the oil spill, the quantity of oil involved is only just the beginning.

next, i’m going to have to deal with the trickle-through effect on wildlife habitats, including our own.

but that still makes my head hurt, so first, i will watch a couple episodes of fringe (moving on with jj abrams, now that lost is done!), and work on my bomb shelter schematics.

do you think there will be enough battery power to bring my wii?

the emplayment agent is in

June 9th, 2010

so, i’ve hinted at this a few times, but now i’m gonna make an announcement all official-like.

ready?

this year at burning man, i am going to be an emplayment agency.

yep, i said emplayment.
catchy, right?

the theme this year is metropolis, and in that spirit, my goal is to enrich the public service sector of our fair city by helping to connect camps who are doing awesome things with burners who are looking for awesome things to do.

my plan, as of this writing, is to construct a small wagon that can be hitched to two bicycles and thusly gallivanted around.

on this wagon, there will be a bulletin board.

on this bulletin board, i will post emplayment opportunities, as they come to my attention, either because friends tell me about them before the burn, or because i happen across awesome people during the week.

black rock city has some of those.

i will wander wherever the winds carry me, and converse with whomever i encounter.

when people wander up to me, i will show them the board, and if an emplayment opportunity appeals to them, i will write the details on a sticker and affix it to something they are already carrying.

if necessary, i will affix it to them directly.

or emplay a body painter, when available.

whether the emplayee will actually take advantage of their selected emplayment opportunity will be entirely up to them, and i will make no promises to emplayers.

i am but a portal.

i will also have a base camp, with shade, basic rations, and a coalition of fun people.

you should be one of those people.

we will all pitch in somehow and make the base camp better.

you don’t have to follow the emplayment wagon if you would rather be otherwise engaged.

but i expect that my journey will be highly entertaining…

inquire within.

then let me know what you figure out.
;)

UPDATE: thanks to those of you whom i have spoken with off-blog about the evolution of this idea. i now know for certain that i will be camped with a great group of people and all of our basic needs should be met. my father and uncle have also agreed to help me construct the actual wagon, and construction has begun with the materials that we have around. more materials will be needed, particularly to light the wagon so that it will be safe to travel at night. i also need to get the bikes and construct a hitching mechanism and a new handle to tow the wagon with. a friend of mine in utah may be helping with that end of the project, but the details are still being worked out.

here are a couple of sketches for the main design that my dad and i have been working on.

Emplayment Agency Design Sketch 1

Emplayment Agency Design Sketch 2

i’ll keep you posted as more unfolds!

facebook interest recommendations crack me up

June 7th, 2010

awww, did you figure those out all on your own, honey? that’s sweet…
[chuckles softly, amused by the world, and sips tea]

transcontinental winterlude, part ii: journey to the east

March 27th, 2010

my drive to pittsburgh unfolded pretty much as predicted in my itinerary, with the notable exception that i decided not to push myself to drive from boulder to chicago with only a powernap.

car-based powernaps suck pretty hard in the winter.

instead, i booked a cheap hotel in omaha, which split the drive into two easy 8ish hour pieces. i arrived at the hotel late after leaving boulder in a leisurely manner, woke up feeling rested, and headed out into a clear, cold nebraska morning. as i crossed into iowa, the sides of the interstate were quite literally littered with cars that had gone off the road during the dark and windblown night. i was glad that i had opted for the layover, and even more so when i was delayed getting into chicago, first by more snow, and then because i missed my exit and couldn’t turn around and had to figure out a new way to approach the city. this would have been an annoying turn of events at the tail-end of a nonstop from colorado, but as it was i remained relatively unfazed, and when i finally made it to my destination, i was rewarded by the homemade gnocchi and surly wit of dave carter, whom i had not seen in person in years.

FTW, as the cool kids say.

prior to chicago, i had stopped in san jose, ogden, and boulder, as planned, and i tell you whut, there are few warm fuzzies to rival four nights with four friends in four states, trailing behind you across your mental map like twinkling christmas lights, reminding you of how many cool people you know.

so thanks, everybody.
keep up the awesome. :)

the fifth and final light in my eastbound string was pittsburgh, and a bright and festive light it was, indeed. i made it just in time to follow reed on a gleeful crosstown slalom run through the snow-laden streets around cmu to meet a hardy group of friends who were gathered at the sharp edge to discuss the upcoming weekend and drink beer. i really like pittsburgh, and it was fun to have a couple of days to enjoy the town and see my friends. on thursday, colin helped me make two ginormous pots of stew for us to eat on sunday night, and on friday, we all headed north to set up camp and discover what frostburn had in store.

for those of you who need the cliff’s notes: there’s burning man, in the middle of the desert, for the full week before labor day, and then there are the regional burns, all around the world, all throughout the year. every year, more and more people complain about burning man being too big, too commercialized, too popular to be worth the time and expense, and the regional burns are productive outlets for addressing these complaints. don’t like big city life? take the spirit of the party back home. invite your friends. start your own traditions. put your creative juices where your whine is, and leave the gentrification of black rock to the suckers.

or at least, that’s one perspective.
;)

don’t get me wrong: i still love going to burning man, and plan to go for at least a few more years, life willing. it’s like going to vegas, or disney world, except the tourists wear glowfur instead of khakis, and there’s no money once you get there, which makes day-to-day decisions about what to do way less stressful. the sheer scale of black rock city, and the talent that it attracts, and the level of participation that it inspires in its citizens, is amazing. rejuvenating. inspirational. unlike anything else on earth. but it is, in fact, really big. and expensive. and exclusive. and lots of other things that mean that it shouldn’t be the only option on the table. so i wholeheartedly support the regional burns. and, of course, all displays of awesomeness completely unafilliated with the burning man network. i look forward to visiting many of the new temporary towns and cities that are emerging around the world during my time here, and i even hope to play my part in building some of them along the way. so it was fun to see what the pittsburgh burners had to offer.

it was a good group of people, and on saturday night, they burned a wooden snowman in effigy, which is a twist on the rite that i found somewhat clever and amusing, at first, but once there, it won me over on a deeper level.

it was very cold, and snowing lightly, and it took a while for the flame to catch, but when it did, i felt the crowd ignite with it. we stood there in the middle of one of the roughest winters in recent memory; three feet of snow had fallen in the past week alone; a recession was going on in the outside world, and two wars; our political discourse was degenerating into an ugly spiral of name-calling and publicity stunts; and there was still another long month between us and spring.

and yet, here we all were, camping in a small stand of woods on the fringes of suburbia, huddling together for warmth one moment, and stripping off layers the next, as the flame began to roar and reach high into the night. at one point, people began picking up handfuls of snow and hurling them onto the fire, as if daring it to go out, but it was far too strong. it was like a collective shout of “take that, old man winter! show us what you’re made of. we’ve got everything we need right here.”

in other words, pittsburgh gets it. and it was an honor to share in their burn.

on the way back to our camp, rachel led us to a dome i hadn’t visited yet, and we were met there by three people, sitting around a woodburning stove, discussing religion in rather serious tones. feeling somewhat dazed, and glad for the warmth after tromping through the snow for a while, we sat down. matthew was wearing a scarf made out of a chain of small stuffed elephants, and whryne kept interjecting comments, some of which were in response to the conversation that continued unabated around us, and some of which were random observations about other things that caught her attention.

i lay back on the bench that ran the circumference of the dome, and smiled blissfully in response to the whole situation.

soon, two of the serious sounding people left, and the one who remained took off his shirt and began making pizza after pizza in the woodburning stove, which suddenly had my full attention. the dome also contained several hammocks, suspended from the upper bars, and many dangling bike wheels, which sounded cool if you strummed their spokes with a spatula. in short, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, and i will now do all that i can to help judy and adam make it to the playa, if that remains their goal.

i will also continue to banter with them on facebook.
:)

upon returning to camp, i finally tried my hand at flaming simon, and then a group of people pulled up with a small wagon and began constructing a statue out of precut pieces of balsa wood. i called it “the robot emperor”, because it reminded me of the emperor in my tarot deck, but it was also clearly a robot, so there you go. it was holding a book in one hand, and something i can’t remember in the other, and it was sitting on top of a pyramid, like a simultaneously ancient and futuristic deity. it was awesome to watch them erect it, which was clearly a part of the show, as it happened very quickly, like a puzzle being put together on fast forward. then, of course, they set it on fire, leaving nothing but a pile of ash for the people who wandered past later to wonder about.

and that is a pretty good summary of the events that took place between 7 and midnight on saturday, with the notable exception of the period during which matthew and i carved out a snowfa underneath the disco ball that was dangling from the porch at bat country, and proceeded to converse with everyone who entered or exited the bar. that was a good time, but honestly, the details kind of blur together, so i think that’s all you’re gonna get.

many other things happened over the course of the weekend, including probable low-dose carbon monoxide poisoning from the ridonculous jet-engine style kerosene heaters that we rented to heat our main tent, and the appointment of henry as pharaoh, due in some part to his forward-thinking planting strategies and commitment to gathering input from the people, but mostly because it was widely held that he looked killer in the shiny gold hat.

my eastward journey was therefore a complete success, and i had one night to recover in reed and sue’s lovely guest room before turning my nose back west and heading to bloomington, where i was due to be reunited with a great many things that were being stored for me, and also to visit with friends who had not make the pilgrimage to frostburn.

but for that story, you must wait for part iii…

transcontinental winterlude, part i: the itinerary

February 1st, 2010

so, the other day i says to facebook, i says: “over the course of the next month i am going to drive over 5,000 miles.” i will now take the opportunity to elaborate on this announcement a bit, for the sake of the curious, and to supplement my own future memory.

on thursday of this coming week, i am going to pack up my car and go to san jose for the night, where i will have the pleasure of staying with two friends who moved out here recently from bloomington (where they had come for school, from portland), which will be really fun, because i haven’t seen them in a very long time, and i like them, so that is sad.

on friday, i am going to get up early and drive to ogden, UT, where i will have the pleasure of seeing three friends from burning man, and i will also enjoy the chance to sleep somewhere other than in the backseat of my car, which i have done many times over the course of the past few years while driving between CA and CO, and it is starting to get old, particularly in the winter.

on saturday i will make my way to boulder, where i will visit the ever-hospitable bourlands, and work with matthew on moving my kwerk prototype to the next level. we will also probably cook some tasty foods, and prepare ourselves mentally and materially for the trek that we will both be undertaking in the week to follow.

sometime late in the day on monday, according to my current best predictions, i will resume driving eastward, probably pushing through to chicagoland with one powernap stop somewhere in iowa, once the sun is up on tuesday. i don’t know where i will stop in chicagoland yet, but i hope it involves pizza.

on wednesday i will continue east to pittsburgh, where i will meet up with friends, sleep until thursday, and then make a large amount of stew, to be stored in ziploc bags until sunday night, when it will be consumed by hungry people who are camping in the snow.

from friday through monday i will be here, along with roughly 30 of my favorite people from across the midwest, and somewhere on the order of 150 strangers, many of whom are doing awesome things like constructing a giant flaming simon game, which i will definitely play. i <3 simon.

on tuesday i will pivot and return west, this time on a slightly more southerly route, which will take me through bloomington, where i will sort through and purge/reclaim a middling amount of stuff that a very lovely friend has been storing for me now for over a year, and, through the graces of the fates, have the chance to hear malcolm dalglish and co. perform the third iteration of ‘the welcome table‘, as well as celebrate the 40th birthday of one of my favorite former professors, whom i am now fortunate enough to count as a friend.

i will also see kevin and talk about games and robots, and hopefully see many other people whom i love and have not seen for a while. and eat esan thai and aver’s. and go contra dancing. and generally give bloomington a big hug.

then i will go back to colorado and see my dad and some other friends in the vicinity of colorado springs.

then i will come back to california, where i will dive fully into the final preparations for the MAPS conference i am assisting with in san jose in mid-april. i am so excited about this event that i have not yet been able to put my thoughts into blog-ready words. i predict this will change in march.

and that is as far into the future as i am currently inclined to outline here.

i will post adjustments and photographic annotations as the story unfolds, as well as muse on other things that are in the works, like kwerk and my novel and work options for the summer, as opportunity and inspiration permit.

now that you know my itinerary, if you’re going to stalk me, you must bring your own mug and sunglasses, and gas money would go a long way towards earning my trust. games and snacks would get you bonus points, but if they are lame games, or poison snacks, you’ll be disqualified, so choose wisely, like indiana jones when he had to pick out the holy grail.

here’s a hint: i am not a carpenter, but my uncle is, and i am still rarely impressed by bling.

back on track(s) – kynthia’s year in music, 2009

December 30th, 2009

As promised (and much discussed as a concept) in my previous post, I present the soundtrack for my year. I prefer this approach to tromping you through a verbal summary, and hopefully, so do you. I tend to do a lot of verbal tromping during the rest of the year. :)

So go listen to some music and drink some cider and make snow angels, if you are fortunate enough to have the cooperation of mother nature to that end.

Yo ho ho.

<3 Kynthia

(click below to download)

Part One
Part Two

    [hanging out in the Springs and Boulder]

  1. Up Up Up Up Up Up – Ani DiFranco
  2. Disappearin’ Ink – Stephen Brunette
  3. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
  4. The Cartoon Song – Jack
  5. [off to San Diego, at last!]

  6. Fidelity – Regina Spektor
  7. Say You Will – Kanye West
  8. Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box – Radiohead
  9. Naked As We Came – Iron & Wine
  10. Theme from Battlestar Galactica (2007)
  11. Will You Be There – Michael Jackson
  12. Pizzahut Tacobell – Das Racist (Guy Michael-Barletta Remix)
  13. Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked – Cage the Elephant
  14. L O S T
  15. In or Out – Ani DiFranco
  16. [brief northern interlude/water, wine, and a wedding]

  17. Me Gustas Tu – Manu Chao
  18. Comes Love – Billie Holiday
  19. [the twin spirits of crisis and opportunity nudge me away from San Diego sooner than expected]

  20. Apres Moi – Regina Spektor
  21. Chicago – Sufjan Stevens
  22. Born of a Button – Erik Pukinskis
  23. Evolve – Ani DiFranco
  24. All I Want – Joni Mitchell
  25. [wherein I was saved from a foul mood in Black Rock City by an unexpected meeting and had the chance to see the city through virgin eyes]

  26. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys (Aeroplane Remix)
  27. [soaking in hot water, pine trees, starlight, and slide guitar]

  28. On the Radio – Regina Spektor
  29. Hummingbird – Wilco
  30. The Sailor’s Grave on the Prairie – Leo Kottke
  31. White Summer/Black Mountain Side – Led Zeppelin
  32. [writing 50,000 words]

  33. Violin Concerto in E Minor Op. 64/Allegro molto appassionato – Itzhak Perlman/Daniel Barenboim (Felix Mendelssohn/Sergey Prokofiev)
  34. [the hanged/burning man means surrendering to flow]

  35. Teardrop (Theme from House, M.D.) – Massive Attack
  36. Wishful Thinking – Wilco
  37. Birds – Kate Nash

back, by popular fiat — kynthia’s year in music, 2008

December 16th, 2009

after a one year hiatus, i am pleased to announce the return of “kynthia’s year in music,” a project that i began in 2006, repeated in 2007, and heretofore hope to continue as a year-end tradition.

i figure it’s way more fun for all of us than if i try to write a straight holiday letter, and way more durable than tissue-paper snowflakes.

since i missed last year, this post is actually a bonus edition of sorts – the songs below are for 2008, and 2009 is still coming.

i felt compelled to complete last year before moving on to this year, because as it turns out, i really enjoy the process of making these mixes, and i also enjoy having them around to listen to as a memory device. it’s like looking at old pictures, but pictures that i can dance to, or sing along with while driving. so i’d rather not be missing a year, when i look back on the series later.

speaking of driving: i spent a lot of time in the car in 2008, and my musical experience was therefore heavily skewed in favor of what happened to be in the car with me. i bought my current car at the end of 2007 from a friend of mine who had installed a stereo system that plugs into an ipod, and he left an ipod attached, so i kind of inherited a random sample of someone else’s music collection, and a fair number of songs came from my exploration therein.

the basic arc of my year went like this:

  • i rang in the new year in florida, where my mom was serving as the interim minister for the UU church in west palm beach. i had arrived there shortly before christmas, after driving from LA to Bloomington in 40 hours (30 driving, 10 sleeping), and then relying upon wonderful friends to forgive me for missing a party the night before, shove food in my mouth, load me into a car, and take me to the indy airport in time to make my flight. i was very, very tired.
  • from mid-january to july, i was in bloomington, where i couchsurfed and housesat and finagled enough web work out of my old job at IU to get by while trying to teach myself to spin other webs of my own. i also went to bonnaroo for the third time, and i was a volunteer for the pod program, which means i got to get in early AND for free, which was fun.
  • for most of july i was on the road, first to colorado by myself, and then to california with erik, because erik is awesome and agreed to fly out to visit his brother in boulder and then join me. we took our time and wound through new mexico and arizona, and then went to vegas, where we won tickets to the dance show at the tropicana. it was a trip.
  • i spent august in san diego, los angeles, and black rock city, where i ran the cafe kitchen for the first time, and introduced my dad to burning man.
  • in september, i drove back to bloomington for lotus.
  • in october, i returned to colorado, where i continued to finagle web work (now, with telecommuting!), reconnected with my dad, visited the bourlands in boulder a lot, thought about kwerk, and used netflix to catch up on tv shows i had been ignoring for 5 years — turns out, the part of me that went to film school is still in there somewhere, and it likes tv now!

i was in colorado until early 2009, but for now, we are only concerned with 2008.

basically, these are the songs that spoke to me, for one reason or another, over the course of that year. i listened, and sometimes sang along or spoke back, and as a result, the moment or moments that make up those musical conversations are saved as a sort of montage in my mind. when i hear the songs, i see the memories, like when you smell cinnamon rolls and remember grandma’s house. or maybe the mall. depending on how suburban your upbringing, and the ethnicity and domesticity of your grandmother.

in other words, if i were to make a movie telling the story of my year, this would be the soundtrack, and i leave it to you to imagine the actual plot.

or, you know, you can ask me about it sometime, and buy me a beer.
:)

the songs have been zipped into three bundles to maximize your download experience.

they are presented in roughly the order of the memories they trigger, with certain adjustments made for the sake of pleasant song transitions, and they are intended to be listened to in sequence. at least once. :)

the next course will be served once 2009 has ceased providing fresh ingredients.

you are encouraged to purchase the songs you like best directly from their deserving creators, one of whom (see track 26) happens to be my father.

the third bundle is kind of a bonus bundle, and can be seen as separate from the rest of the mix – track 30 is 30 minutes long, and is an example of binaural entrainment, which means that it will induce brainwave patterns that are consistent with meditative states if you listen to it with stereo headphones, and will simply sound like rain if you don’t.

it’s great for power naps.

track 31 is included because it is what the car ipod would play whenever it reset, so i heard the first few bars a lot, and it amuses me to preserve that memory, and it amuses me even more to do so by placing it after the meditation track, because i kind of think of meditation as pushing the reset button for my brain.

as a bonus, beck is also way better with stereo headphones, so positive reinforcement wins!
:)

bon apetit.

Part One

  1. Dani California – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  2. Gamemaster – Paul Oakenfold
  3. Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well – Mike Doughty
  4. God Put a Smile Upon Your Face – Coldplay
  5. Cha Cha – Balkan Beat Box
  6. Frank Sinatra – Cake
  7. Little Plastic Castle – Ani DiFranco
  8. Marching Bands of Manhattan – Death Cab for Cutie
  9. Dead – They Might Be Giants
  10. Wonderboy – Tenacious D
  11. Snow ((Hey, Oh)) – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  12. U Can’t Hold No Groove – Victor Wooten
  13. Yeah. – Jake Shimabakuro
  14. Think About the Way – Ice MC
  15. She’s Electric – Oasis

Part Two

  1. I Fought in a War – Belle and Sebastian
  2. Fixing Her Hair – Ani DiFranco
  3. Seek Up – Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds
  4. Cast No Shadow – Oasis
  5. Magic Trick – M Ward
  6. Horn Into – Modest Mouse
  7. The World at Large – Modest Mouse
  8. Float On – Modest Mouse
  9. Ocean Breathes Salty – Modest Mouse
  10. No Surprises – Radiohead
  11. My Guitar Went to Burnin’ Man – Stephen Brunette
  12. My Old Man Boogie – The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
  13. Choose Life – PF Project featuring Ewan McGregor
  14. Extraordinary Machine – Fiona Apple

Part Three

  1. The Dive – Centerpoint Research Institute
  2. Loser – Beck

i didn’t overcook the lamb! but i also didn’t make the sea cucumbers.

December 12th, 2009

for the next installment in the “what have you been doing other than facebook?” series (hereafter referred to as WHYB.FB?), i will discuss the following:

i went to burning man!

Kynthia grinning in dusty goggles

for my third pilgrimage to black rock city, i agreed to run the kitchen for the golden cafe, which i also did last year, but this year i was excited because more people signed up to help cook, and i had more experience, including the experience of already acquiring equipment, which meant that part would hopefully be easier this time around.

Lucifer talking in the bar

i was basically responsible for:
- making sure that all of the basic equipment was purchased/borrowed/found and transported to the playa somehow;
- making sure that someone signed up to cook for each slot on the meal plan, or signing up myself, or letting lucifer buy MREs;
- making sure that each person who signed up to cook understood that they were responsible for either purchasing and transporting their own food, or giving me a list;
- making three supper club menus that were separate from the meal plan;
- recruiting people to help me cook on supper club nights (TWR);
- purchasing the food i needed for supper club and the food that other people asked me to get;
- transporting all the food i bought;
- making sure there was enough cooler/refrigerator space for all the food throughout the week;
- organizing the kitchen somewhat so that it could be used by many different people without driving them (or me) completely insane;
- communicating with the power and trash teams throughout the week;
- encouraging camp members and random passersby to wash dishes even though it was a disgusting job in an environment without running water or drains;
- making creative use of leftovers and unused/forgotten food so that food waste was minimized as much as possible;
- overseeing cleanup, packing, and distribution of leftovers and equipment;
- transporting my own share of the leftovers and equipment home to sit in a dusty pile until i get around to sorting through it (current progress ~ 40%);
- making notes about what to do better next year (current progress (~ 10%);
- vowing to do everything differently if i’m ever crazy enough to do such a job again.

considering that this list should probably be split between 3-4 people for maximum efficiency and enjoyment, things went quite well, though some concessions were made in the form of crazy supper club menu items that very few people even knew i was considering. i decided that going the safe route at the last minute was preferable, seeing as that way i got to do some other things, too, like climb on the giant monkey bars on our corner, or spin on the teeter-totter of death next door, or go all the way out to the giant slide. this year was a year of playground equipment, and i rather enjoyed that trend.

Rocket

purchasing and transport were way easier this year, but seeing as how last year i almost had a nervous breakdown in the week before the burn, and ended up going way over budget because i had to rent a hotel room to hold all the stuff i was buying and then rent a van to transport it, the bar to beat was not very high.

the worst thing on playa this year was that my back really hurt the whole week, and that made it harder to want to do other things when i wasn’t cooking, which kind of sucked. i did manage to get out several times, and i saw the big sights, and i made new friends, so all was well. one morning, a friend of the camp even stopped by on his way to volunteer at the heebie jeebie healers, and i got a reiki session without having to wait in line, so that was awesome. that was thursday morning, and the night before, an experienced line cook had sauntered in to help with supper club just as i was about to pull my hair out, so i didn’t have to grate any cheese, and then i had excellent company wandering around the city til dawn, so the universe provides. :)

Free2Go

and as for the kitchen, all three nights of supper club were very well received, so that was quite rewarding. i did, in fact, not overcook the lamb, and neither did i make the sea cucumbers, which was the name i came up with for cucumbers that i cored, stuffed with crab/seaweed salad, chilled, sliced, and flash fried. at one point, i also tried wrapping them in nori, but it didn’t really like to stick, so i ditched that step. i think it would work better with a layer of sticky rice, and i might try the whole thing again sometime, when not in the desert. more disappointing was the loss of the cheddar-apple ties, which were cool little apple and cheddar sandwiches that i wrapped in pie crust and grilled. i was stressing out that night, and we already had grilled cheesecake for dessert, so hassling with pie crust seemed silly.

in the end, i had a lot of fun, enjoyed some excellent food, and met many amazing and generous people, which is always the biggest joy of burning man. i was considering that i would not be in the country for burning man 2010, but now i think i will be, but i will not be running the cafe kitchen again, which will doubtless be a bit sad, but also very liberating. one of our most awesome new camp members – tigerlily – has agreed to take on the infrastructure portion of the kitchen alone, which means the meal plan and potential supper club portions will be handled separately, which is smart. i might be convinced to cook one meal, but as of now, i believe that my main focus is going to be the creation of a wandering employment agency and impromptu soup kitchen. the theme next year is ‘metropolis’ and i figure any real city needs social services. :)

Kynthia with a Popeye face

i do no real planning for burning man until after president’s day, however, as a personal concession to sanity.

so more thoughts there after the year turns over, yes?

in the meantime, i’ll keep trying to clear the brush of these WHYB.FB backstories…

little big distinctions

December 4th, 2009

and to continue our series in: “use your blog as a personal repository of memories, and let others read it and not read it as they will,” i present, a chat snapshot of me and erik, fly on the wall perspective.
Feel free to skim or click on through if you are not amused by semantic tomfoolery.

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