Hardcore Zen

I first got into zen when I was about 16, and lost interest about about three years later, when I started college. Now, at the venerable old age of 31, I’m starting to dig it again. Supposedly, there is a new wave of gen-Y (or whatever) kids who are getting into Buddhism and doing it up right, orthodox style, without LSD shortcuts to enlightenment unlike thier boomer predecessors (and my former teacher). The author of this book is an early gen-Xer so i guess he is kind of bridging the gap.

I picked up this book because I liked the toilet on the front cover. It tells the story of a punk rock musican who becomes a buddhist priest. The author tries to retain his punk street-cred throughout the narrative by describing similarities in Buddhist and Punk thought. The similarities and the author’s punk street cred seem a bit strained at times. Then again, I’m no expert on Punk philosophy, so what the fuck do I know.

It’s a pretty quick read, and doesn’t assume any prior experience with Zen or Buddhism or anything, and it doesn’t get all mystical-new-age-hippie-bullshit on you either. It’s a good book to keep on the back of your toilet, which I bet is why there’s a toilet on the cover.

I give it 4 Jihadis out of 5
4 Jihadis out of 5

Snake, Rattle, and Roll

I’m back. This was my very first ever attempt at bike-camping, and It was a good bit more work than I expected. This probably could have been mitigated somewhat, had I remained amongst civilized people, but I chose to climb the mountains… On rocky roads… With a heavy bike… With an out-of-shape cyclist turning the pedals.

It was work, but it was fun.

I started at my mom’s house, and had about 5 miles of pavement to cover before I entered the state forest. One of the benefits of growing up in the middle of nowhere is that you have thousands of acres of forest in your back yard 🙂

My Bike

Along the White Deer Pike

It was only a gradual climb until I crossed interstate 80. Then things got a bit hairy. From here on in, there were no stores, no people, no anything. I brought water purification tablets along, because there was no way I could carry enough water for this trip. I planned to refill my bottles from pristine mountain streams along the way.

Crossing Interstate 80

Crossing Interstate 80

The road got pretty rocky in short order. There were many miles where I ended up pushing the bike up the mountain instead of riding it. Yarrison and Walter’s roads are not really roads anymore. I’d say more like moderate doubletrack. Oh, and those pristine mountain streams I was talking about… They turned out to be fewer and farther between than I expected. I got seriously dehydrated. To the point of brown urine and everything. Yikes!

Adding insult to injury, there were these huge stagnant pools of muddy water covering the road. Water, water everywhere.

Mud Puddle

Nor Any Drop to Drink

The road finally smoothed out a bit, and I was able to get up to speed for a few minutes. I was cruising along the ridgetop of Walter’s mountain, where due to a recent forest fire, I was able to take in some scenic vistas (forgot to take any pics, sorry). I decided to stop to check my map. I squeezed the brakes and stopped the bike. Then I heard a most unsettling noise.

About 4 feet from my front tire sat a big rattlesnake, shaking his rattle.

A Rattlesnake in my way

You Shall not Pass!

I wasn’t sure what to do. I backed off a couple of yards, took his picture (sorry about the image quality), and thought about what to do next. I wasn’t about to turn back. I was so close to the summit at this point, that I wasn’t going to give up any of my hard-earned altitude. On the other hand, I was far out of reach of medical assistance, in case this fucker bit me.

I figured that stategically, my advantages were intelligence, and opposable thumbs, whereas he could afford to wait me out, and he could inject me with hemotoxin if I got too close.

I did what men have done from the beginning of time when confronted with scary beasts:

I threw stones at him.

I was hoping he would slide off the trail and seek shelter in the bushes. This did not have the desired effect. Instead, he coiled up into a very aggresive posture, and started rattling for all he was worth.

I decided that he wasn’t going to move no matter what, and I wasn’t going to turn around, no matter what, so I picked up my 100 pound bike, and carried it into the bushes, giving a very wide berth to Mr. Rattlesnake. Then I got back on the road maybe 10 yards past him. He was still rattling at me as I picked the sticks out of my deraileurs and pedaled away.

After a short while, I came to an intersection. I could deviate from my planned route, giving up about half of my elevation gain, and get water. I knew of a cabin about halfway down the mountain that had a water supply. On the other hand, I could ride around the ridge as I had planned and hope to find water on top of the mountain. Given the color my urine, I decided to descend.

When I got to the cabin, there were two gentlemen sitting on the porch watching chipmonks run around. They let me have some water, and offered to let me make camp near their cabin. It seemed like a good idea to me. I pitched my tent, made my freeze-dried spaghetti, and went to bed.

My Bed for the night

Bed Time

I slept like a corpse. I woke up, and tore down my campsite.

My Tent

Big Trees, Small Tent

I was still at pretty good elevation, so it was almost entirely downhill to get back to my mom’s house.

It was a fun trip. I should have gotten myself into better shape beforehand, and I probably carried a bit more weight than I needed to.

Next time, I’ll be more prepared

Here we go

Well, I think I’m as ready as I’m gonna be. Barring any unforseen circumstances, I will be out of cell phone range and all alone for the bulk of the weekend.I packed up the bike and took her for a spin around the neighborhood. She feels a lot heavier than usual (to be expected, I suppose) but she seems to handle OK.
Equipment Test
The Diamondback is all ready to rumbleI have an approximate idea of my route. I really don’t have any idea how fast I’ll be able to move through the mountains with all this gear, but this is what I’m thinking.

My Planned Route
Green is Good

Assuming I am not eaten by bears or shot by hillbillies, I hope to have some pictures and stuff on Monday.

Da Vinci Code: Lame

I finally got around to seeing the Da Vinci Code movie last night. It seemed like it might have been a fun book, but in the end, it was basically the same story as Dogma, only not as funny.I’m generally a big fan of anything that tells people about the shenanigans during the first council of Nicaea, but this was more of the same Magdalene-and-JC-got-married story that I’ve heard a thousand times before.

Big whoop. Maybe Jesus had kids. The Buddha had a kid, and nobody cares.

I give Da Vinci Code 2 Jihadis out of 5.

2 Jihadis out of 5


Brandi and I went out for a little hike today. I wanted to scout the woods for sufficiently discreet campsites for my trip. There seem to be good spots all over the place up there, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

The White Deer Creek

We had a sunny day, puntucated with downpours. The trail we were hiking on used to be a forestry road, but it was closed off to car traffic many years ago, and has since become a bit washed out.

Washed out road

A washout on the Dunbar Trail

The far side of that washout might make an ideal spot to put my tent. It’s pretty level, it’s got a cushy combination of grass and moss growing on it, it’s pretty remote, and I can get there on my bike.

The main event, of course, was to try out my mountain cookery rig.

Mountain Cookery

Cooking in the woods is cool.

Everything worked. I am pleased to report that Mountain House Freeze Dried Lasagna is actually quite good. Brandi even says so, and she’s a professional chef.

I’m thinking if the weather permits, I am going to try to do my camping trip next weekend.

fifty shekels of silver

I came across a fairly interesting essay about King Soloman’s selective enforcement of Judaic prostitution laws.In other news… Lots of angry Christians are out generating free press for a movie they supposedly want yout to boycott.

In the immortal words of Captain James Tiberius Kirk:

“Double Dumbass on You!”

Moron Camping

I’m getting my gear sorted out. I picked up a RidgeRest sleeping mat. I was going to get a self-inflating kind, but this kind was cheaper, lighter, and if I fold it in half, it makes a nice zabuton.Today, I managed to boil 2.5 cups of water on my old backpacking stove. I don’t know how much fuel is still in there, so I’m gonna have to pick up another canister.In discussions with Klinutus, who has become the wise old sage of ultralight backpacking*, I have decided to go with freeze-dried backpacking food, which I will rejuvinate with boiling water. This should prevent having to wash dishes on the trail.I will be needing a vessel in which to boil the water. I have also gone ahead and ordered front and rear racks for the DB, because they are only like $20 from Nashbar. I think I’ll only need the rear one. The only thing (so far) that doesn’t fit in the Carradice is the sleeping bag. I can lash the pad on the flap, no problem.

I think I have Brandi pretty well convinced to go out on a day hike this Saturday, maybe I will prepare a dehydrated lunch for us as a kind of equipment test.

I’m getting pretty stoked. I haven’t selected a date for this trip yet, but I’m thinking maybe in 2 weeks.

*He claims his whole rig weighs less than 14 lbs!


For the past few days, I have been mulling over the idea of going bike-camping in the woods. This is mainly for purposes of spiritual renewal and oneness with the mountains, so I won’t be setting any land speed or mileage records. People in better shape than me would call this a S24O (sub-24 hour overnighter), for me it’ll probably be closer to a S30O. I’m slow and like to poke around and watch the squirrels.I’m thinking maybe I’ll ride 30-40 miles into the bush, plop my tent down someplace, and ride back out the following day.

I have a big bag of camping junk from back when I used to go backpacking, but I need to aquire a few more supplies.

Stuff I Have:

  • 1-man tent (green, so as to avoid detection)
  • sleeping bag
  • backpacking stove (dunno if it still works)
  • camelback
  • carradice camper saddlebag

Stuff I Still Need:

  • panniers
  • sleeping mat
  • food
  • cooking pot (unless I go with freeze-dried backpacker food)
  • racks (to hang panniers from)
  • rope (need to keep food away from the bears)
  • flashlight

This is what I’m thinking as far as route selection and campsite location. It keeps me off the paved roads as much as possible, but I’ll be fairly close to one in case of emergency or whatever.

Where I'll go

I’m still deciding which bike to take. Probably the Diamondback. It’s got puffy tires and an indestructible rear wheel. It feels kind of stupid not to take the Trek, a purpose-build touring bike, but I think I want the mountain-bikey-ness of the DB since I’ll be on washed out logging roads and whatnot.

Tip the Bottle, Bite the Lime

I see the lightning
From the storm down in Mexico
I see my speedometer doesn’t work
I cross the desert
Disappear into the tumbleweeds
I tip the bottle and bite the lime

Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, one of my all-time favourite bands, the source of endless drinking songs and other assorted revelry*, has achieved vertical integration in the drunken buffoonery market by launching its very own brand of tequila.

They have also started a blog on myspace, a hosting provider hithertofore exclusively used as a matchmaking service for children and paedophiles.

Questionable taste in hosting provider aside, they have a new mini-album out on iTunes. I am listening to it now and all is right with the universe.

I hear the thunder
From the storm down in Mexico
I leave the border far behind
I feel the dust coat my teeth
And turn my face to mud
I tip the bottle and bite the lime

*they get bonus points for noticing that light travels faster than sound by ordering the above-quoted verses correctly.
**Anyone with a song with captain picard in it that gets radio play, totally rocks