Monday, October 29, 2001
Man, I found a fascinating set of documents by Tim Berners-Lee on creating a user-interface for a next-generation web. The first is called Cleaning up the User Interface, while the second is on Hypertext Editing.
I have a question: is a bar of soap naturally clean, or do you have to clean it with a bar of soap?
Right now I am sitting at a very cool place named The Boathouse, sipping on a glass of wine and looking out at the ocean. Large pane windows are open, and the sea breeze is blowing over my face. I just finished a two-day Thai Cooking Class taught at The Boathouse, which was great fun.
The world seems to be hungry for an ideological alternative to capitalism. I don't know if this is a rational or simply emotional need for something to challenge what is now the dominant ideology of the age, but I predict that as soon as a semi-credible ideological alternative to capitalism arises that it will spread like wildfire and produce another Cold War type situation. Communism used to be it, but is now defunct and dead, while fundamentalist Islam semi fills this need in parts of the world. I've noticed this need to challenge capitalism while traveling; I can even see it in myself.
Later I headed into Patong to return some pirated CDs of clip art I bought. The CDs were crap, and there was nothing really on them. I spent about 500 baht for them, which is not a small amount of money for me. The guy wouldn't give me my money back. I decided to be decidedly non-Asian and make a scene; I am tired of the “No-Return Policy” here in Thailand. I told him I wouldn't leave until he gave me my money back, so I ended up standing and staying there for four hours, being as fucking annoying as I could be. I made noises, droppoed postcards on him, raised my voice, and grabbed his newspaper when he wasn't listening to me. My mom was always good at this sort of shit, making such a stink that people would cave in when they were being major butt-heads like this guy. I do it very rarely, maybe every couple of years, and am usually a nice guy, but I can do this kind of thing sometimes. The guy never caved in, stubborn bastard (me included). I ended up leaving.
I headed home after that. I found out that what I thought was a chicken coop next to me is actually the room of the teenage son of my neighbor; I could have sworn though that I have heard chicken sounds from there. He lives there and throws parties, and he's turned it into a love-pad of sorts. All of his buddies were there hanging and drinking, so I went to go hang out with them. They were listening to Aerosmith and Bon Jovi, and were drinking Thai whiskey. He had Harley posters all over, and an American flag with a Harley symbol on it. They told me they are all Muslim. They asked me where I was from, and I covered my face and said meekly America. They were like 'It's ok, It's ok!,” and they told me how they don't like President Bush (none of the Thai's out here do). I invited them over to my house to watch football; we watched Thailand versus Saudi Arabia on the TV.
Holy shit I just had the craziest experience. Right now I am typing this to candlelight, using the battery on my computer; there is no electricity in Kamala tonight. I just took a shower using well-water from a plastic trash-can and a soup bowl to throw the water onto me. It was raining all day and all last night, which is unusual. The water was rising higher and higher. I had not eaten all day, since I had no food in the house except some bread, and couldn't leave due to the hard rain. I opened up both the doors of my house to look out at the storm, and sat and ate some toast I made. I live in a valley surrounded by semi-mountains on three sides, with the ocean on the fourth side. I am right next to one of those mountains. As I was looking out at the mountain in front of me, relaxing and chomping on my toast, I saw a huge piece of mud come crashing down the side of the mountain with a large crackling sound like thunder. I freaked out and jumped up, knowing that the strong rains could cause a mudslide that could potentially pour down onto my house. I got dressed and threw on my shoes, grabbed my backpack, threw my laptop into it, some extra money, and a pair of extra clothes. I wanted to have this strapped to my back in case the mud started coming, so I could just run with the stuff I needed.
I looked out my front door again. At the end of my road lies the small, rough house of a Muslim family. They have several kids; a wife who wears a small turban; a chicken coop next to my bedroom where cocks' crow at 1 AM thinking the sun is going to rise; a man of the house who wears no top but a dress-like blanket wrapped around his waist;and a huge satellite dish that is almost larger than the house itself. Everyone in Kamala is Muslim; five times a day I can hear the call to prayer issue from the many Mosques here. I have been honest and told everyone that I am from America (and from New York to boot!). I came to Phuket to get away from the world, but I ended up smack-dab in the middle of the issues of the day. I've been wanting to gain my Muslim neighbors' trust so that I could befriend them and learn more from them, but was having a bit of difficulty with the language and cultural barriers.
While my house was higher than the rising waters, a river was rushing down the street and flooding into my Muslim neighbor's house. I decided to head out into the water to help him, and grabbed a large plastic trash can to bail out water. I headed over there and told them I wanted to help. I followed Koon Son, the man of the house, over to a construction site. We grabbed all the wood and cement we could to build a barrier around the front of the house, to divert the rushing water. It worked, and we used buckets to bail out the water that was already in the house.
I just watched Groundhog Day a few days ago. In it Bill Murray is bored out of his gored, so he decides to just walk around helping people after awhile. I've been in a similar state, kinda bored and lonely out here. I decided since I had nothing else to do, and since I wanted to get to know the people in my community out here, to just walk around and see if anyone else needed help or were in trouble from the floods. I left my backpack at Koon Son's house, took off my shirt, and headed out into the river to see if I could help anyone.
I came to a part of the road where water was really rushing down from the mountain, forming a barrier that people couldn't cross. A tuk-tuk, which is a three-wheeled taxi, had tipped over on its side in the currents. A large crowd had gathered to watch, but wasn't helping. The owner and two other men headed out into the currents to try to save the tuk-tuk. I decided to head out with them to help as well. The water came up to about my waist, and tropical vegetation smashed down by the currents sucked at my shoes and kept me from moving occasionally. We huddled around the tipped over tuk-tuk, attempting to right it. We couldn't do it with just us, so a few more men came over. The rain was pouring down over my glasses, and I could barely see. We each grabbed a piece of the tuk-tuk, and were able to right it up. Others brought a rope out, and we tied it around the car. Men on the road starting heaving and hoing on the rope, while we lifted the tuk-tuk, but it was too heavy. Someone brought a pick-up truck, and we attached the rope to the truck. The truck heaved, and we all lifted the tuk-tuk and were able to push it onto the road. Everyone clapped and we all shook hands.
I took off and headed up the road again. A farung, which is the Thai word for a foreigner, had driven his pickup truck off the road into a ditch, and couldn't get it out again. Again we all surrounded the truck, and lifted and pushed it until we brought it onto the road.
I was exhausted, and headed back to Koon Son's house. The rains were dying down now, and daylight was rapidly disappearing. Electricity had died around the village, and as night fell no lights turned on to replace it. The jungle was mad with sounds, everything that survived proving that it was still around. I played with Koon Son's little daughter for a few hours, not wanting to head back to my house. He has a little store in his house, so I shopped for a little food and ate that down. I had no water in my house, since the electric pump was dead, so he filled the trash-can I had brought to bail out water from his house with water from his well. We brought it over to my house.
Koon Smut, the fellow I rent my house from, came by to make sure I was ok. He told me that tomorrow morning could be dangerous, since high-tide starts in the morning. He said that if it rains like it did today while there is high-tide, that the ocean water could rise up to the level of the town, and pour into it. God I hope that doesn't happen. The rainy season is already techinically over, so I can't wait till I don't have to worry about that kind of shit anymore.
I found out the next day that this storm was the worst one folks around here have seen for 10 years.
A Proposal for a Microsoft Settlement
This is a brief description of a way in which the Department of Justice and Microsoft can reach a settlement. First, Microsoft is given their “Freedom to Innovate” and are allowed to integrate anything into the operating system. However, if what they integrate exposes 1) an Application Programming Interface (API), 2) a wire protocol, or 3) a file-format, they must fully document the API, the wire protocol, or the file format. This documentation must be made publicly available; anyone can use the documentation without limit, without royalties, without being constrained by any patents held by Microsoft or arranged by Microsoft through a third-party. Here is the stickler; one of the ways Microsoft will be forced to be honest in fully documenting their APIs, wire protocols, or file-formats is when they add the new piece of functionality, the rest of Microsoft must only interface and find-out how to deal with that API, protocol, or file-format by looking at the publicly available documentation. Microsoft is not allowed to have “two sets of books,” they must have one set of documentation that their internal group and external developers have access to. This documentation becomes the wall that seperates the new piece of integrated functionality from the rest of Microsoft; everyone gets access to this neutral information, whether inside or outside of Microsoft, without discrimination. If Microsoft bypasses this piece of documentation to interface into the new API, wire protocol, or file-format, Microsoft will lose the right to 1) create this piece of functionality, 2) must remove it from the integrated system, and 3) they lose permission to sell either bundled, seperately, or through a third-party the piece of offending functionality for a period of 10 years. These are heavy-duty penalties and aren't a slap on the wrist. Further, if a whistle-blower in the organization reveals that the rest of Microsoft has integrated a piece of functionality without using the publicly available documentation, by talking to developers for example, using a secret document, looking at the source code, or 'shuffling' the old team-member into a new project team, then that whistle-blower will receive a reward of one-million dollars, or something else absurdly large to encourage whistle-blowers.
Right now I am on the bus to Phuket. It's been a grueling journey so far; 15 hours on bus, 4 more to go. I hate night buses. I can't sleep on them and I get restless, and Montezuma always seems to wake up and pound on my stomach on the overnight ones. I played Bubble Bobble on my laptop most of the night. When I wasn't, my mind was turning over great ideas about OpenPortal 4, an open-source project I want to work on. I met two cool Americans who have been to almost every tropical paradise on earth. They work as dive instructors, and hang out in these spots for about a year then move on. Quite an inspiring career choice. They are some of the first American's I've met. Everyone in Thailand is either Japanese or Israeli; there are very few people from other nationalities visiting here. When the bombings happened in the states everyone in my hotel was Israeli, and they kept telling me “Now the American's know how we feel; welcome to our world.” The last week I worked feverishly in Bangkok getting ready to head to Phuket. My laptop hard drive crashed and the new CD-ROM drive I bought turned out to be a complete lemon. I spent two days bartering with the guy I bought it from that I should be able to return it; according to him, "people can't return things in Thailand." Even if the drive is a serious piece of crap, totally a lemon? Yes. Somehow I was able to get a refund though, thank god. Then I corrupted my hard drive, and I have no way to boot on this laptop since it has no internal floppy drive or CD-ROM drive. It's difficult to boot from USB or PCMCIA devices, which is what I have.
It poured rain starting at 6 on the dot every night this week in Bangkok. I got trapped in it several times, the streets flooding up to right below my knees. It was fun and exhilerating stomping through the middle of the street in the flood. There was a baby dog welping in a tire. He was cute and fat, but the lightening was freaking me out so I couldn't stop to pet him; I had heard lightening striking in the block in front of me, so I ran into a place to wait out the thunder. I bought my bus ticket to Phuket 10 minutes before it left; packed in a hurry, left at 7 pm. Tired of Bangkok. Goodbye Bangkok. Hello Phuket.
Tuesday, September 18, 2001
Imagine a website that would let domestic workers openly post how they are being treated by the people they work for. For example, I bet there are many people who act as if they're great upstanding members of their community, but who do terrible things to their maids such as hiding their passports and treating them like crap. What if those domestic workers were given a voice on the web? People might say things like how will they gain access to the web, but one of the things that has surprised me the most while I've traveled is how extensive Internet Cafes are around the world, except for the States. I have this image in my mind of some local TV anchor who thinks he's the hot shit in his community of Bertha, New Mexico. I bet he has a maid who is an illegal immigrant, hid her passport, hasn't paid her for 2 months except with 'food money', and locks the doors and windows whenever he leaves causing her to be a virtual prisoner. Wouldn't that be great to see his face if those details were posted on the web, probably using his home computer? This person doesn't exist by the way.
Yesterday morning I watched tiny ants mill around aimlessly on my floor. I promptly turned on the air-conditioning to banish them to hot insect hell. I notice they don't come out when the air-con is on.
I wonder how many maids have had their lives and families ruined because they have to work far away overseas from their children.
I want to post a bit about my month in Vietnam that I shared in an email missive to some friends. Here it be:
The high-point of my trip to Vietnam was definitely meeting Son, a young man in his twenties who lives in Hanoi. Son knows English really well, and we quickly became friends. He took me out to meet his family in the Hanoi countryside. This was an experience that I will never forget for the rest of my life. Son took me on the back of his motorcycle deep into the country-side in Northern Vietnam; it took 2 hours to drive to his parent's place. We would be going 100 km/hour on the highway, and I would grab onto Son for dear life. As I was holding on, I would look out, and see rice fields rush by; motorcycles curving all around us; water buffalo tilling the field and playing in the flooded rice fields; and horse-drawn carts on the high-way. Monsoon rains would start to fall and drench us. In some of the towns the locals had never seen a foreigner, and crowds would form around me and people would just stare. Some corrupt police stopped us and demanded a pay-off because a foreigner was going too deep into the country-side without his passport.
We finally reached his family's house. His father's home is completely self-sufficient. There is a pond where all their fish are caught. They had a small farm, and pigs and chickens. They even make their own wine from leechee fruit! The house is very rustic, small, and open to the air. His father and mother are beautiful. His mother is a math school teacher, and is proud and distinctive. The father is a retired former general of the North Vietnamese, with sparkling eyes and a big smile. He would take my hand and look me in the eyes, speaking Vietnamese that Son translated. We talked about the war and the future, and how Vietnam and America are now entwined and hold a strange attraction for each other, just like Japan and America. Sometimes the worst enemies end up becoming the best friends as times pass, since they have a history together. In the background a little baby kitten and large dog were playing with each other.
I ate lunch with them on the ground, eating food they had grown fresh on the farm and cooked pig and chicken from their livestock. Son and I then took a siesta. This was definitely one of the best and most interesting days of my life, full of beautiful images and poignancy.
Where would the world be without Kurt Russel?
Monday, September 17, 2001
Man it's been a long time since I've updated my weblog; about a week. I've mostly been meeting random people, hanging out with them, and wandering to spots. All of this in the Kao San, Bangkok area.
First I met Susie, a German. She was wandering out of a bar that blazed "Pleasant experience, good place" on it in neon. I asked her if the bar truly provided a pleasant experience, good place. We headed to a bar named, strangely enough, Susie's. Here's Susan:
I bumped into my college friend Eli, crazily, wandering down Kao San. I like Eli, but he does loads of drugs, and he was high and coming down from several days of being up and partying on some drug when I saw him. He invited us out to a Thai night-club, where foreigners don't go, so we jumped into a taxi and headed there. It was a huge place, and the theme was an electronic circuit board. Men and women, both scantily clad, were jumping on a stage singing. Everyone was dancing. A "lady-boy", which is the word Thai use for transvestites, kept grabbing my butt. I told Susie to pretend like she was my girlfriend. Here's Eli in case you were wondering:
The next day I headed to the Grand Palace, easily some of the most beautiful architecture I have ever seen. The temples have a strongly Khmer influence, rocket ships melting like drip sand castles:
I met a Scandinavian girl there named Kim, who invited me to Pat Pong, the infamous Red Light district of Bangkok. Our goal was to see the sexual Freak Shows that had all the tourists on Khao Son jittering away. Women were doing things with ping-pongs, darts, and cigerettes that women just shouldn't do. Sitting next to us were middle-aged couples from Greece and Sweden; they were obviously jittered.
Coming out of the bars and shows, I saw people huddled around TV sets. On the TVs soldiers were running through rolling smoke; "oh, that must be Macedonia", I thought, "or one of those other inumerable areas around the world where soldiers are always running through rolling smoke, fighting some senseless battle." I put it out of my mind.
Kim and I wandered onto a street of Pat Pong that was some sort of Little Japan. All the words were in Kanji on the bars, and the bars were Japanese style. Unlike Japan, though, outside rows and rows and rows of women were just lined up, waiting for something, all the way down the street. It was like the brothels were on the street itself. The women were smiling and freshly showered; who knows what they were feeling inside. We shuddered and moved on.
I was walking in the subconscious of the Western World there. It was a dark and dirty theme park, the faces and lights spiked into each other making me feel on the inside of Picasso's Women of the Night. This was just another stop on the Lonely Planet Guide to Humanity. It was daylight directly beneath my feet in New York City, on the other side of the globe. I was someone else's shadow as he walked, echoes of the Opium War. I crossed television set after television set, the smoke and soldiers and people on the screens increasingly making sense. Planes crashed into buildings (where?), something had happened outside of these red lights I was walking through. I walked slower and slower, until I stopped and watched a TV set. As I had been in Pat Pong two planes had rammed into the World Trade Center, lives and twin works of art had smashed to the ground, and the Pentagon had been attacked.
I went into a state of numbness and disbelief that I felt for several days after that. I lived in New York for 6 years, and worked only a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. I loved that area around there, and used to go lounge in the plaza there or read books at the bookstore in the mall beneath when I was playing hooky from work. I franticly called many of my friends in the city; they were all OK thank god.
That night Kim discovered a cock-roach in her room, and ended up sleeping in my room to get away. In my bed she faced the opposite way, wrapped in her sleeping bag, her toes in my face. I felt vulnerable and alone in the darkness as I tried to fall asleep.
The next day I met another girl. We zipped around in a tuk tuk (a three-wheeled taxi) and saw innumerable Buddhas:
In the time since, I fried a CD-ROM drive with Thai voltage, made out with a girl named Yu, went to the Weekend Market, visited the heart of CD piracy in South East Asia (Pantip Plaza), and was forced to buy a new CD-ROM drive. It's been fun. I'll leave you with a classy image of the beatles you too could own (or eat!) if you had gone to the Weekend Market with me:
Monday, September 10, 2001
I'm in Kao San, cross-roads of South East Asia, the Backpacker's Mecca. Techno music beats. Foreigners stream, looking for a good time, a quick lay, and a cheap deal. I arrived in Bangkok, Kao San last night; I was overwhelmed, and just wanted to sleep. I couldn't find a hotel until 12:30 at night. It turned out to be crap, a hot box the size of a closet. I slept naked under a fan that roared above me like helicopter blades. I Was Discouraged.
Today I feel better. I found a great hotel, and am falling in love with Bangkok. I got a hot-oil massage for 1 hour for 4 bucks US, lunch was 2 bucks, and dinner was a 20 cent pad thai delicacy. The women here are hot, cute looking hippie girls backpacking in from all parts of the world. Somehow they are dread-locked, athletic, and perky all at the same time. Pirated CDs are on sale on the street for about 2 bucks. It's a loud Wild West out here, and I like it. Maybe I'll stay here for a few weeks in Bangkok, becomming one of the seedy expats I can see around me, except in my case I'll be seedy with a laptop.
I love traveling alone; it makes it so much easier to meet people. Just met two girls named Rachel and Naomi, from Ireland and Britain, respectively. Naomi pierces professionally (great business card, eh?), and Rachel "doesn't do anything". They are both heading to Australia to do their respective careers. Also met a friendly Japanese couple; I tried out the few words of Japanese I picked up in Tokyo last month on them. They were great.
Whenever I get a haircut in Asia I close my eyes, pray to God, and clench my teeth like a cynic. The barber and I can't speak each other's languages and they've never really worked on an American's hair. The haircut always comes out looking like something a model would have in those special airline magazines they have on plane flights, you know, the ones with travel ads and duty free items to purchase, and oh, "a word from the editor cum CEO of American Airlines". Like putting a businessman through a black-and-white Xerox machine several times. I'm seriously considering shaving my head completely and tattoing it with a henna tattoo.
Sunday, September 09, 2001
My plane bounces in the sky from turbulence, enroute to Bangkok. On a screen before me historical eras jab into each other, fall on the ground, and confusingly scurry away in a movie named Moulin Rouge. They showed up for casting not sure why they were pulled together, out of work and desperate for some pay. Union job.
I'm in a wistful and romantic mood; fitfull almost. I want to fall in love and lie down in rose petals. Too bad it can't be with Kathleen.
Saturday, September 08, 2001
I recently saw some pirated music CDs in Vietnam, and some of them said this on the bottom of the CDs: "WARNING : THIS CD CAN NOT BE COPIED AGAIN. IF NOT, IT WILL BE BROKEN ABOUT ONE WEEK LATER." Man, the pirates are trying to keep from being pirated! I doubt what they are saying here is true; if so, they could sell this technology to the Big Labels for much more than they could make pirating CDs.
I may drop off the radar for a few days; I take a plane for Bangkok tomorrow (Sunday), and am not sure where I'll get net access for awhile.
Hmmm, interesting. I've heard people reporting that in IE 6.0 if you enter an URL that can't be found, the Error 404 page is replaced with an MSN search page. However, it seems like this has now happened for all versions of IE, even before IE 6.0; I think it was hardwired into earlier browsers but not activated until now. I just installed a fresh version of Windows 2000 Server, with IE 5.0; I haven't installed any Service Packs or done Windows Update, but my Error 404 pages have been replaced with MSN pages. I think MSN was always contacted when a bad page was entered, so that Microsoft could report the hit to its advertisers and claim to be 'the premier destination on the web', but the error page was muted and didn't directly expose MSN. Now, though, I would bet that even IE 4.0 will bring up the MSN page.
Friday, September 07, 2001
Right now I am in a Matsuya, a chain of cheap Japanese restaurants. The way these places work, including the ramen joints, is you go to a machine to enter your order:
The machine spits out a little ticket, and you give the ticket to the cook, who makes the food. No human ever takes your order. There are gizmos like this all over Japan, illustrating how deeply technology has integrated itself into Japanese life. My favorite are the really really advanced Western-style toilets, which I'll tell you about sometime.
To my right here at the restaurant some people are filming their food:
Have you ever heard that expression "Oh, New York (or Bangkok, or Tokyo, or....), you can find anything here," and they wink, as if you could truly find anything you can imagine, whether legal or illicit. But, can you find nuclear-grade plutonium? I didn't think so. I'm not impressed. Show me a city where you can that, and I'll be impressed; Moscow perhaps?
Cell phones are really really advanced here. This is a cell-phone that has a tiny camera on the back, that can take a picture and attach it to emails or send it to other phones; that little module sticking out of the side is an attachable flash:
Here's another cell-phone like device named the Eggy:
This is a device from DoCoMo which can receive and send video, still images, music, and text. It has a tiny digital camera on it as well. On the back is a slot that a tiny wireless modem card can be slipped into:
The modem can send and receive the pictures and email at 64 Kbps wirelessly. The little card that is slipped in seems like its quickly becomming a standard here; it can be slipped into a wide range of devices, from tiny wireless browsers, to laptop computers, to devices like the Eggy. Its all really quite cool.
Wow, this is really cool; a renowned defense expert has claimed that US Has Heavily Researched Anti-Gravity.
Thursday, September 06, 2001
Right now I am on the Saikyo line into Tokyo, typing on a small laptop. People sit around me, either reading newspapers or playing on their cell phones. Outside I can see the industrial landscape of Tokyo slide-by, a jumble of concrete. Someone must have put a bunch of buildings of various shapes and sizes into a bag, shook the bag, and spilled them out onto the ground. The train stops, the doors open, and a light breeze spills in that passes my face. The doors promptly close, and we move on.
Welcome to Coding in Paradise. This weblog attempts to reveal the emotions, thoughts, and experiences of one man as he tries to live out his dream: to get a small laptop, move to a tropical island off the coast of Thailand, and do open-source coding. This weblog will also have one hell of a lot of technology opinions and technology ideas. By using a tiny microcassete recorder, a digital camera, and this laptop, I hope to communicate my experiences to you and bring you inside my head and heart.
Let me tell you a bit about myself. First, though, I want to tell you that I am going to remain anonymous. Of course I'll refer to myself by my first name, Brad (hi, nice to meet you), but I'll never reveal my last name. What I'm worried about is people I know using a search engine to look up my name, and finding this page. I want to be able to have the freedom to completely reveal myself here, and to do so I don't want people like my former boss to find this page. I'll have pictures of myself here, though, since search engines won't look them up based on name. Here's a picture of me:
I am from a small town in South Texas, in an area named La Valle, that is five minutes from the border of Mexico. I was into science, mysticism, free love, and politics, basicly everything that the conservatism of Mexico plus the conservatism of South Texas hated. While I loved the spanish culture of where I grew up, I had to get out. I headed for the bright lights, big city of New York to attend Columbia University. College was great, but I struggled with anxiety and depression, so I started Gestalt therapy (I told you this weblog would be honest). Therapy really helped; it felt more like a spiritual path to me, a road-less traveled, and sparked my interest in non-conventional ways of interacting with people, such as encounter groups and experiental work. After college I worked for a financial technology firm doing Java stuff; during this time I was in my first real relationship where I was head over heels in love with a girl named Kathleen. I'm still trying to get over her. I got antsy working in New York, not being able to do what I really love, which is coding, creating new ideas, and giving them away (gasp!). I also wanted to see the world. I worked, saved money, and got outta there. I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life, but I had this faith that if I just headed out onto the road answers would appear through synchronicity. I wanted to see something I never expected existed in the universe, something that would boggle my mind.
My first stop was a placed named Esalen in Big Sur, California. Esalen is kinda a hard place to describe, so I'll let this paragraph from the Esalen website explain it:
"The Esalen Institute was founded in 1962 as an alternative educational center devoted to the exploration of what Aldous Huxley called the "human potential," the world of unrealized human capacities that lies beyond the imagination. Esalen soon became known for its blend of East/West philosophies, its experiential/didactic workshops, the steady influx of philosophers, psychologists, artists, and religious thinkers, and its breathtaking grounds blessed with natural hot springs. Once home to a Native American tribe known as the Essalen, Esalen is situated on 27 acres of spectacular Big Sur coastline with the Santa Lucia Mountains rising sharply behind."
I was there for two months doing a work/study program and classes
After Esalen I backpacked through Vietnam for a month, which was great, followed by Japan for a month. I am currently in Tokyo, and leave for Thailand in 3 days. I'm not in paradise yet (or coding yet), but I'm close. I'll be heading for an island named Phuket for about 6 months; I think thats how long my money will last till I have to get a job again. Here's a picture of it:
So here's the gear. The laptop is a Japanese IBM ThinkPad s30, and is about the size of a hard-back novel; it fucking rocks. I get about 9 hours battery life, 15 gig hard drive, 700 MHZ Pentium III processor:
The digital camera is a Sony Cyber-shot with a Memory Stick; unfortunately, I can't use the camera to take a picture of itself. ;)
It's hard to explain, but all the gaijin (foreign) girls here in Tokyo look like patchy English girls with bad teeth. This sucks, since I can't seem to meet the Japanese girls because I don't speak Japanese. How can England manage to be a modern industrial super-power and yet the majority of its people still have bad teeth? Am I just generalizing here? Was it Margaret Thatcher's fault (she deregulated the tooth industry)? Is there any relation between this and mad cow disease?
How many police cars do you think they destroy every year for movies? Where do they get them all? I thought about this while watching a bad Dolf Lundgren movie dubbed over in Japanese on TV here in Tokyo. Sounds like something Harper's Index could answer.
I had a start-up for awhile, that failed financially. I used to tell the guys that our technology was a success not if we made a million dollars, but if someone used it to create a new artform. Dave Wiener has definently succeeded; Frontier and Radio Userland have been used to take weblogs to a new level, creating a new artform.
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