Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Where in the World is Walden?

I'm back, baby.

Ever have that friend that disappeared the moment a girl entered his life? In my late teens I had a friend literally vanish after getting a girl pregnant - twelve years later - I still have no idea where he is. That example is on the extreme end of the spectrum, normally it's simply because their routine has shifted to center around said girl.
I've got a girl in my life once again. The ramifications of this on my vandwelling are large. It feels like a new chapter in Walden's and my saga has started - complete with new challenges and rewards.

The rewards are pretty obvious...I now have a co-pilot - someone to explore with.

How does one attract a girlfriend while being homeless? I once read about a guy who lived in a tree, who met and retained a girl (retention is key!) - so if he can do it, living out of a van should be relatively simplistic. Luckily for me, I skipped this step. We met in April (pre-Walden) while training for the Vancouver marathon. We parted ways for the summer and have now picked up where we left off. She wasn't always cool with the idea but reading this blog won her over.

I thought that getting approval to continue would be the difficult part...

So it's not a question of if I can continue to live in Walden but a question of how to balance it with a relationship. Ideally, she'd just hop in we'd just drive to wherever our hearts desired. Unfortunately, this is RL and she has school and a future career to think about...this means she's in Vancouver for the foreseeable future. Proximity plays a large role in relationships, so that means this is where I must be (for the majority of the time at least). No problem - I like Vancouver.

If you go on a hike or run - inevitably people's first question is how long it was and how long it took you - as if those are the most important factors. Perhaps this is because time vs distance is a metric easily conveyed - or perhaps it's because we are competitive on an innate level. Taking things slowly or stopping to enjoy the view/rest is often seen as 'cheating'. This attitude misses the point - life isn't a competition.

I'm no longer spending every night sleeping in Walden...deal with it. :-)

If I'm honest, it felt different - forced - the last couple of times I've stayed in Walden.

I am acutely conscious about becoming too 'at home' at her apartment - all the while - being unable to 'host' at mine. We've opened a discussion about this. How do we balance our time together and apart? A standard question but I feel my flexibility and homelessness pose some unique challenges.

In past relationships, I've found one home is usually preferred over the other - for whatever reason - however the inability to easily host at mine is a sticking point. What Walden does offer is mobility...

Juxtaposed to finding personal space, I now feel that she should be with me on my adventures - so it will feel weird going out on my own. Her school will get busy so I am planning a trip down the coast to keep me out of her hair.

What role does Walden now play?

Can I eat my cake and have it too?

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Finding His Voice.

I didn't name Walden to be cute for this blog - I name all my vehicles. It's kind of weird when you think about it...like, I haven't named my coffee mug...but then again, cars are easily personified. Still, people are 50/50 when it comes to how they approach bonding with steel and wheels.

I definitely get my love of vehicles from my Mom - my Dad is very pragmatic about them...point A to B. To boot, my mom is a borderline crazy cat lady (as per the DSM V Coles Notes) - I feel personifying cars is a natural extension of that. I grew up with Vov the Volvo, Vanna Green the Caravan, Chloe the Camry and Harry the Honda.  The only car that didn't get a name was the 'gold Volvo' (always said with some bitterness) which imploded before it was Christened.

There are some loose naming conventions that one must follow. Alliteration is preferable or some sort of pun (Vanna Green) - though sometimes it's a bit of a stretch. Sangria the Seven was almost Ralph the Rex because she puked coolant everywhere on the first day I had her (a harbinger of what was to come)...but then the gender of the vehicle kiboshed that idea.

Gender and sex of a vehicle is the same. I haven't met a trans-gendered car yet...maybe they are out there, so I'll refer to it as sex. The sexing of a vehicle usually is straight forward and is based on design but sometimes they are androgynous. Walden theoretically could be female or male as he has some effeminite features. Sangria is definitely a girl, Vov, Evenrude and Erskine definitely boys.

Personality isn't always there. Chloe the Camry was as dull as her design and ride characteristics. I find that comes when you spend an inordinate amount of time with (and rely on) the vehicle. Evenrude was used as a delivery vehicle so I depended on him for my lively hood and spent a ton of time driving the snot out of him. He developed a fully blown personality, even more so than Sangria (who frankly is a bit of a bitch)...right down to a voice.

The voice usually appears when I've got passengers. I think it's hilarious...much to their chagrin.

While Evenrude (aka The Flea) was as you'd expect, spastic and grating - Walden's voice is more of a jaded Eeyore (of Winne the Pooh fame). He tends to claim to have traveled extensively and had crazy adventures - but usually they are just popular stories/movies with him as the protagonist. For example: "Did I ever tell you about the time I sailed up the congo and went too far up the river...?" or "Once, in the Andes and I had to rappel into a crevasse, even though I had no idea if there was a way out at the bottom..."

I'm embarking on a 10hr road trip with a passenger on Friday (you guessed it, more orienteering!) - hopefully she doesn't kill me...

Putting a face to a name - this is Evenrude

Brace Yourself Winter is Coming

The days are noticeably shorter than they were when I started and are only going to get shorter. Seeing that I have been rising and resting with the sun - this affects my day to day - if I were to keep this up, soon I'd be hitting the sack at 6pm!

I haven't spent much time in Walden working but I feel that this will change. My laptop has good battery life but I do think that an inverter could come in handy. This would further free myself from my reliance on having to find a plug...

Man in van in van t-shirt...

Knives and Need

Ever try to cut excess refined sugars out of your diet? You probably didn’t last long (if you did, good job…hippy). After a indeterminate time - cravings inevitably set in - and the next thing you know you’re elbows deep in a giant cinnamon bun, face covered in icing…

I’d like to say we stray back to the dark side because we are soft and weak willed…however, as a certified arm chair psychologist, I’d say it had something to do with dopamine We go back cause it feels so good and our brain talks tricks us into it with reasoning and trickery.  More times than I’d like to admit I blackout and wake only to find myself in the line at McDonalds. This repeatedly happens despite knowing damn well that no good will come of it and disappointment is at the end of the rainbow.

I’ve long given up on giving up treats, sweets and horse meat - however I’ve discovered I get similar cravings when it comes to spending. I’m no raging consumerist but who doesn’t like buying something that you don’t really need but DO need (you know what I’m talking about). Dopamine is released here too. In a world filled with choice, the possibilities are endless and hunt is all that much more exciting. You’ll always need something…

Lately, I’ve been contemplating buying a knife. I examined why and I attributed it to a combination of things:
    ⁃    Waking up with a creepy feeling in North Vancouver* and the delusion of safety that a large knife brings.
    ⁃    Disappointment with my current knife. It folds and is small and difficult to clean
    ⁃    I want to buy something

The first two points make logical sense - though the first one is a pretty weak argument. The second point is weak in terms of buying a 7 inch Ka-Bar - really I just need a fixed blade equivalent to my current knife. The third eclipses the others and is really the main drive…my setup is pretty solid - possibly already overkill (in terms of outdoor equipment). I can’t say I really NEED anything. I want to need something. I think the whole ‘let’s buy’ something thing is exacerbated by the fact I have a lot of time to think about it and I’m starting to reap the financial benefits of living in a van.

A new knife would have very little impact on my life. Here’s the kicker - I’ve found myself agonizing over which model to get. At first I thought this was because knives aren’t cheap and there are lots of design options. I like this aspect of shopping, trying to determine which is the absolute best purchase - but have found it gets pretty ridiculous sometimes. Sometimes you need to shit or get off the pot.

An interesting article popped into my RSS feed today.

It was about Fredkin’s Paradox. It states that the closer two options are to each other, the less likely choosing one option over the other will have any impact - which means more time will be spent agonizing over minutiae (this would be when my agonizing gets ridiculous). In my case, the impact a new knife of any design would have on my life is pretty negligible - especially for what I really need it for, I probably could get away with a plastic butter knife.

I'm generally trying to keep my purchases pared down - so I figured if I truly need something - it will be glaringly clear (ie. the belt showing through my tread). With this in mind - one strategy I could use is to just keep fantasizing about it, so that I don’t move onto the next “need”.

*aka “The Man In a Van Getting Creeped Out” paradox

Sunday, 31 August 2014

August Sit Rep

Time for another gas expense report (July 31th to August 31st)

Days: 31
Spent: $376.05
Dollars/Day: $12.13
Mileage: 2580k
Current odometer reading: 161002k
Remaining Volume: About half a tank.

Notes: Expenses were considerably lower this month - something I am happy about, but feel they will continue to drop (hopefully!). I did get an oil change, fixed some electrical issues and bought new tires, but as my brother pointed out - I would incur incidental expenses living in an apt, so I'm not going to include them in the grand total (just try to keep them as low as possible).

Ideally I would track food costs also. I'll see if I can work on that.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Souper Time

I restocked my pantry. Got suckered into a super soup deal. Ten cans for two dollars a pop. Now I have more soup than I know what to do with...

I took some photos to try to capture super time last night:

Stopping to Smell the Flowers

I like to people watch.

I saw a man today stop to smell some roses...while smoke from his cigarette slowly escaped his nose. He shook his head, as if disappointed. I'm not entirely certain what he was expecting...

It did remind me to examine my actions and make sure I'm not just going through the motions while missing the point.