Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Last Post

Today I lose my computer and access to the Internet, at least reliable access.
Oh gee, what can I write that hasn't already been written?
Well first I'd like to thank someone who has really been a friend throughout this. Mel, you know who you are.
Second, I'd like to wave goodbye to my Alpine Access friends. I'd like to say I'll be back, but I think that would ruin the whole point of doing this. I need a change of pace, literally. After the hike is over I intend to concentrate on finding writing work. I really think that's what's best for me.
To my WoW friends, I will be back. Keep my characters warm and safe!
To anyone else who has doubted me, or even mocked me behind my back, you may continue to do so at your own risk. I know who I can rely on.
Finally, I wanted to let you know about my OTHER blog.
That is all! Enjoy life while you've got it!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Play: Last two days of WoW.

As I approach the time for leaving on my sabbatical/hike, the time to give up my precious computer is approaching. Tomorrow it will be placed into the hands of a friend, who will safeguard it until my return (hopefully a triumphant return!).
In the meantime, I'm playing World of Warcraft for the last time until then, and getting what enjoyment I can from it. I'm reflecting on my experiences with it, possibly being addicted to it, and what life will be like after Warcraft. Would I want to go right back to it once I get my computer and an internet connection back? And would that necessarily be a good thing?
I'll be better able to gauge that as I spend time in the field., but I'm getting my fix in until then!

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Trail Preparation: The Last full day at work

Okay, being that today is my last scheduled day before I depart, I wanted to say a few things:
I will lose computer services on Sunday. I may actually work a few hours on Saturday and Sunday to get as much cash as possible.
I intend to shut off the utilities on Tuesday, or sooner if the sheriff comes (no notice yet, by the way). So I will be without electricity for probably two nights. I can live with that. I'll have to live without it sooner or later!
I plan, actually, to spend some time at the mall. I may even bring my backpack, to get used to it. I'll also be doing a lot of reading (hey guy, this ain't no library!) Or I may just go to the library and hang out there. The idea is to be ready for the sheriff  in case I get locked out. To have my bag packed and ready to go, to not leave anything behind I'm not prepared to lose or just can't carry.
Anyway, that's the plan, we'll see how it goes. But after Sunday, no more regular updates.

Edit: Well so much for the last day of work. The call volume went off the charts and unfortunately, they were all the kind of calls where even one can give me a headache. Needless to say, the migraine  roared its disapproval. I'm going to go to bed and hope I feel well enough tomorrow and Sunday to make up for lost time, or the last paycheck will be a downer.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Trail Preparation: The Tent is Packed - Sort of

Okay, spent some time last night packing the tent into its bag. I saw one video on how to pack a tent that said not to fold it, just pile it into the bag, but that's not going to work with this tent. Anyway, it's loaded, now the problem is how to attach it to my backpack. I tried to put it in the backpack, but that takes up too much room. There is nothing to catch the bag on, no straps, no hooks. It looks very much like I need to get a couple of bungee cords to be able to attach it to the bag. Yay, more expenses.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Trail Preparation: The Digial Voice Recorder

Just got my Digital Voice Recorder Olympus WS-510M, and am sorely disappointed with the quality. I know it's relatively cheap but it doesn't have to feel that way. Cheap plastic, cheap external speaker and not a good sound on the lowest setting. I seriously doubt it will make it 3 months on the trail. But it's too late in the process, and I'm not going to return it.
I'll post a picture of it later.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Trail Preparation: Camera and Tent!

Here's a picture I just took with my new camera, of the tent pitched in my living room!Click Here!

The Trail Preparation: Initial Plans

Okay, have made some tentative plans as to when and where I'll start out on the Trail. If all goes well, I'll leave 04/15, take a bus to Roanoke VA, and catch a shuttle provided by someone who lives in the area to the part of the trail that comes closest to Roanoke.
About $75-100 total for the bus and shuttle. I'm taking the shuttle because otherwise it's a 10 mile walk from Roanoke to the trail. Not that 10 miles daunts me but I'll be arriving late in the afternoon. Either that or stay in a motel for much more than the extra $20 for the shuttle, so worth it to me.
More to come!

The Trail Preparation: The Second Hike

Okay, had my second hike earlier today. I added the sleeping bag, and since I can't fit in inside the pack, it hung outside the back, and jiggled against my rear. Not the most comfortable feeling.
After the hike I was less winded, but my lower back hurt a little. It still does.
That too shall pass.
Overall, I'm happy with my progress.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Trail Preparation: The Tent and Sleeping Bag

I tried to build the tent tonight, and ran into a few snags. Looks like I can pitch it myself and be fairly comfortable, but the tent instructions say to hook up certain hooks in the seam of the tent to the poles, and only the bottom row of hooks are actually on the seam. I can still get the tent up and I can live in it, but I like getting what I pay for. I sent an email to the customer service email on the documentation of the tent and am still waiting to hear back. If they can't get me a fully-functioning tent before I leave, I may return it to the store.
I rolled up the sleeping bag for the first time, took me 4 attempts to get it compressed enough to fit in the bag. Yet it has been done, and I am satisfied with the sleeping bag!
The boots seem to be unharmed at the moment, but I will be breaking them in before I leave.
Also, as a last note, remind me to stretch before going out on on a hike. My calves are barking a little.
Have a wonderful night.

The Trail Preparation: The First Hike

Just got back from my first hour-long hike. All-in-all it wasn't too bad. I didn't have a full pack. My tent is laying spread out on the floor waiting for me to try and put it together. My sleeping bag is laying next to my bed (I tried it out, but it's too hot here.) So I stuffed a jacket and a pair of shoes in it, got some water, and headed on out.
I have a tendency to go full speed ahead when walking. I had to rein myself in a few times while walking. At the end of a half hour, I stopped for a few minutes to sit down at a bus stop, then headed back. The hardest part was the hill leading up to my apartment, and I was very winded, as well as suffering from all the pollen around me (I'm allergic, I sounded like Kif from Futurama when he has a fit). But I survived, and that's what it's all about.
That will be the routine each day until I leave.
Nothing else new to report. Have wonderful Easter!

About That Blog Title...

Okay, I've heard from a few people over the last few days, and I'd like to say it's official, I'm not sane.
That said, the title of this blog stays the same. I'm going to make a different blog for any thoughts I happen to come up with during the trip.
The problem with my not being sane is, that's the reason I need to go on this trip.
Is it sane to work a job that you don't particularly enjoy while barely eking out a living?
Is it sane to live a life where you sit in front of a computer 16 or more hours a day, less than half working?
Is it sane to have no hope that the situation will ever improve?
Is it sane to fall behind on rent and never recover enough to prevent eviction?
Well welcome to my world. I'm not sane.
I suppose there are other ways to get my sanity back, but I've been in too many jobs lately where I've slipped into complacency and just not bothered to change things because it would make me too uncomfortable. Because it would inconvenience me.
Well consider this the ultimate wake up call for my brain and body.
I also suppose I could talk to a psychiatrist about my issues...
But I really don't like that idea. And really, what is he going to tell me that many of you already haven't? Get a better job; Do something with your life; Give up the idea of being a writer...etc.
The thing is, I've got so many ideas running around my head that I often can't sleep, like right now. I have ideas for stories, ideas for inventions, ideas on what the perfect life would be like.
And then there's the voices.
Now before you go all 'He's schizo' on me, let me explain what I mean by voices.
I do not mean there are voices in my head that tell me what to do. Quite the opposite.
These voices started, maybe 6 years ago, with my mother's voice. My mother died in 2004, and the day she died I heard her distinctly calling my name. I was in Blacksburg Virginia at the time, and she was in Tucson. I didn't find out about her death until 4 days later. After all that, I still heard her from time to time, always calling my name. It didn't happen often, it didn't happen regularly. I know that was a representation of my grief. Or was it?
I knew she was dying, but I didn't know until well after the fact that she was indeed dead. Why would I hear her voice when I didn't know she was dead? I hadn't heard it before then.
Well, after six months I stopped hearing her. But I found that I did hear others. The voices were not clear. They were not talking to me. It sounded like one person having a conversation with an unheard second person.
I only hear them when it's absolutely quiet, usually when I'm in bed trying to go to sleep, just as I'm about to drop off. It has the tendency to wake me up, so I now play music in the background, and I don't hear anything.
Yes, I'm still hearing them.
If I'm schizo, it's a very mild case. I'm not violent. But I don't think that's it. I think my mother was trying to communicate something with me, and maybe that opened some part of my brain that I never used before.
A great deal of my writing has to do with the paranormal. Yet I've never seen or even felt a ghost. I don't claim to read minds, not consciously, but maybe my subconscious can.
I'm as skeptical as the next sane person about things like this. (I may not be able to manage money very well, but I do think logically most of the time.) I've often wondered why people who claim to be psychic or who found Bigfoot or some other mythical creature don't provide physical proof of it. Well, as far as my condition goes, how do I prove that what's happening to me is real? Is there some machinery that can detect psychic activity? Not that I've heard of.
Anyway, the point is I admit that I'm perhaps not as sane as advertised, at least not right now.
The point of going to the Appalachian Trail and spending 3 or more months living in the wild is a way to get out of my comfort zone and a) lose weight; b) get some time alone to think about my script and other books, away from distractions like whether or not I'll be able to make rent AND pay the high electric bill AND the phone bill AND other bills AND still eat.
I have the bare minimum it will take to survive out there, and will have money enough to pay for some food along the way. If after three months passes I'm satisfied that my goals have been achieved, then I'll come back to the real world and see what either I can offer it, or it can offer me.
Sane or not.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Big Trip: Planning and Gear

My friend who was going to transcribe my script for me didn't think I was serious about this until I asked her when she wanted to pick up my computer. She'll be keeping it safe until my return.
Anyway, I am serious and I wanted to share some of what I've done so far.
I have purchased:
1 Digital Camera, a relatively cheap one.
1 Digital voice recorder, also cheap, yet both together were still a tidy sum out of my budget.
1 Sleeping bag, a 20 degree Mummy bag for those cold mountain nights.
1 3 man tent. I could not find a decent one-man tent for a reasonable price. Why not go a step or two up and be more comfortable?
1 Backpack. I paid more for this than the other two, and frankly, more than I wanted, but it's comfortable (I wore it on the bus ride home) and it's the most important part of hiking.
1 pair boots. Actually the most important thing, even moreso than the backpack. These aren't the best boots, but they were the best I can afford until I get my last paycheck from my employer.
What I still need: Probably more than anything else is money. I have some left and will get one more paycheck as noted, which will be around $500, but won't arrive for another week and a half assuming they direct deposit it, which I really hope they will, but there's bus fare to the trail, food and probably a few things I've forgotten at the moment, like an emergency cellphone, map, matches, a flashlight/lantern, batteries etc.
Barring more money, I need food. I was thinking of a trail mix, consisting of any Chex cereal, dried fruit, nuts, M&M's and basically anything that won't take up room, doesn't need to be cooked and is lightweight. The premade stuff is too expensive and unnecessary.
Let's see, I also need clothing. I hate to buy stuff that will become too big for me as I slim down, but I don't have a decent pair of jeans. Shirts I'm really okay with, and socks and underwear. Once I get the last check it will be spent on jeans and food, and we'll see how long it lasts.
I plan to look for day work while I'm on the trail. No guarantees there, but it may provide some spending money.
There is a possibility I may need to pay to camp, though from what I've read I'd have to go off the trail to have to pay.
Anyway, having a bit of spending cash isn't a bad idea anywhere I go.
I'm not begging. If you want to send something other than money I'll post addresses of places I'll be passing through.
Anyway, that's the plan. I've put some effort into it just getting ready, and speaking of getting ready, I'll be hiking around Raleigh in the preceding days, an hour at a time, until I break in the boots and the backpack. And it's hot here at the moment, so that will definitely test me.
I'll post any updates until I drop my computer off.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Life: It sucks

At this moment I'm giving serious thought to walking away from everything that my life is right now, and hiking the Appalachian Trail until I either keel over, finish and sell my script, or until I find myself.
Something's gotta give. I can't keep living like this. (This is a life?)
I've done stupid things before. I've walked away before. I've never found myself in the process. This time I won't come back until I do.
I'm getting a digital voice recorder, a digital camera, a backpack, sleeping bag and tent, a decent pair of hiking boots and some clothing that won't disintegrate the first time I'm out there, and I'm going to just walk out, maybe catch a bus to the trail and then see what happens.
I chose the trail because there are camp sites and shelters all along it, because there is water to be found. Because it's a challenge for someone like me.
I'll check in sparingly, upload the pictures and any journal entries I might want to post, and send my voice recordings to my friend, who can transcribe the script I'll be dictating as well as anything else.
I'm serious about this.
You're asking why? Why now?
For me I feel time is running out. I feel if I don't find myself soon I'll never do it. Is that a good thing or a bad thing, not knowing yourself? I honestly am not sure what kind of person I am.
Am I really a customer service agent? I ask myself that a lot. I get annoyed sometimes with customers, I hate hate hate talking, as I believe I've mentioned here before. Is this really what I want to do for the rest of my life?
And if not, what can I do? I can write, but selling that writing takes skills I don't really have.
What else can I do? I took computer science courses in college, but that was 30 years ago (when they used to have a show), and many of the skills I learned there have become out of date. I recently downloaded Java in an attempt to learn that. My, but that's complicated. Not that I can't learn it, but it will be a long process. C, another programming language is just as complicated.
I've had some experience creating web sites, but most employers want you to have access to particular software, and I don't, because it's expensive. Creating web sites manually is practically unheard of nowadays. because they are difficult to maintain.
I suppose I have other skills, but not many people get paid for playing Warcraft, ;-). And I could work minimum wage jobs, but that won't pay the most basic bills and who wants to scrape by? What kind of life is that? This is basically the kind of life I've been living for years. It stops. Soon(TM).
But let's get back to discovering who I am...
Am I a deadbeat who runs away when the slightest problem occurs? I don't think so, I've been fighting financial problems since losing my job in August. Am I a lethargic game junkie who can't even step out of his apartment any more? Well, if that's true it won't be much longer. I'm giving up the games during this search.
Am I a loser of a writer who can't concentrate on a project long enough to finish it, who is easily distracted? I doubt that, I did manage to finish two books, and get them published.
Anyway, I know the risks. It's a dangerous world out there and I might get eaten by a bear. (Kudos if you get the reference.)
My life is going nowhere at the moment, and my body is slowly deteriorating, not that hiking is the best way to stop that (or the worst), but it will give me time to think.
And in the end, I think I'll be a better person.