February 2010

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For the record: I got the call-back, took the 2nd interview, and was offered the job. I took a day to mull it over; asked around town, talked to a few people, and politely turned it down.
As far as “real jobs” go, it would have been the 2nd-best-paying job I’d ever had, and almost certainly the most secure. The employment conditions didn’t look as bad as I’ve had to deal with in the past, but neither did they seem all that outstanding; why go backwards or stay the same when there’s an immense future before you?
In other news, the first cheque from my new business venture arrived, along with a letter expressing interest in further future consultation. That, and another appointment coming up this week, have buoyed my mood considerably.

In 1999, I started an online group and mailing-list for people living in trucks and busses; housetruckers. At that time, it was one of just two or three internet resources on the topic. It became a community nexus for like-minded folk, and a place where I felt I could really freely express my passions for the lifestyle.
Time, changes of lifestyle and circumstances, as well as some technical glitches effectively ended that experience for me around 2002, after around 800 written entries. Just lately, I’ve been trying to reconnect with some of those times, experiences, and people.
Here, for general consumption, I’ll be re-posting a few of those classic posts from “back in the day”; before this here blog was born.

Saturday, Sept. 11, 1999

Went camping this last weekend. Away from the town, away from the bus, away from… well, just away. Up on top of a mountain. Not much to see, really… winter is on the advance hereabouts, and snow’s falling, at least on mountaintops. Just camping in the clouds.
Everything I saw there was new to me. Little mountain trees, little mountain shrubs, little mountain flowers. In the snow. “Fragile! Stay on the Trail!” Hmmm… On the trail, or off the grass? Who knows? Nobody, really… That’s the point. Nobody knows the diversity crushed beneath a casual heel. Nothing in our imaginings can prepare us for the immensity of life contained in a single milky mountaintop dewdrop. Nothing.
Trip went well, actually. Just enjoyed it all, not a thought on the matter the whole while. Took a small-town restaurant washroom to get me to thinking. Nothing so peculiar about this particular washroom as to create a whole new line of thought out of thin air, just a little jog of the brain. There, everything in that greasy cubicle (the first proper plumbing in three days, ah, what a miracle that) had been seen by other eyes, and touched by the hand of man.
The cretinous hand that carved the words in the linoleum wall. The daily hand that replenished the paper. The calloused hand that sanded the molding along the baseboard, each nail set just so, once built with care and pride, now left for the kicks and scuffs of the constipated.
Each mark on the wall a testament to those come and gone before. Each mark, each touch, whether tender or careless, an icon of immortality. Everything you see in the world of man has been touched, has been seen. Behind every touch and glance is a person with a life and loves and stories to tell. Stories of glances made and touches received, each leaving an immortal mark upon the world.

“Indeed it is well said, in every object there is inexhaustible meaning; the eye sees in it what the eye brings means of seeing.” -Carlyle

Look around. What has the eye the means of seeing? Do I see more than you, or less? There, on the washroom walls, and all around, are the traces of the hands of man. Up on the mountain, there was no such sign, just a pair of ruts across the alpine meadow.

In the bus (ah, the simple glorious bus), all that I see is marked by my touch. I have shaped the stories of the universe which I now inhabit. Nothing around me holds mystery. I am my home, and it is I. As my eye has means of seeing it…
I know the stories untold still clinging to the relics in my care. I know all the when and why and where of everything I own and am. As my eye has means of seeing it…
When I move beyond myself, and perhaps beyond this place, this bus, I will still know the days and shaping of the world in which I lived. The ragged wooden edges hidden beneath trim. The cryptic scrawls of rust and aging hidden beneath the paint. The lost spider’s nest dried behind the shelves. All those old bones hidden within my home. As my eye has means of seeing it…

But now is only the baseline beginning. There are stories yet to be created. Touches of others in my home. Touches to be treasured. Look upon my home and see… me! As I am my own creation…

And still, the mountaintop. Free from the touch of man. Can we mere creatures ever know that solitude? I don’t know. It is our lot to thrive upon the touches and glances, upon the immortal marks of our hands upon the earth. And as it is my lot, I try now to find my solitude not in a world free from man, but within a home of my own creation.

It’s interesting to hear myself from 10 years ago. It’s interesting to hear how I heard my favourite quotation back then, and compare it to how I hear it now.

I’ve been making variations of this soup for years. I used to include meat, but seldom do anymore; it just doesn’t seem to need it. Likewise, I used to use added fat in the form of oil or butter, but that has also fallen by the wayside. With a slow-cooker or crock-pot, this is dead easy.

1 medium yellow onion, small chopped
1 head garlic, peeled and diced
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can corn, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can baked beans (the tomatoey-saucy kind, or pork’n’beans)
chili powder, cayenne powder, tabasco/vinegar, cumin, salt, pepper

I used to fry the onion and garlic at higher heat with butter or oil, but now I just sweat them dry in the slow cooker until translucent; a little salt helps get the moisture out of the onions. After that, I just dump all the cans in. I drain/rinse the corn, garbanzo beans, and red/kidney beans. The black beans go in straight; the black gunk in the can adds a certain low-brow excitement.
On top of that, hit it hard with the chili. Hard! Like 2-3 tablespoons, maybe more.. Don’t be shy; chili is mild enough, and this is for flavour, not heat. Spike it up with a few hard shakes of cayenne. Be more cautious here; taste frequently as you go, and be aware that the cayenne heat will build as the brew stews. Don’t forget the salt and pepper; easy now, keep seasoning as you brew, as you can always add more later, but can’t take it away.
If the mix seems too dry, put in a can of water. Now here’s the “secret”; you need a little acidity. I add a dash of vinegar, or a couple shots of Tabasco (which is really just pepper-flavoured vinegar). This plays against the sugars of the onions, corn, and baked beans.
Now get it all to bubble once or twice (plop ploorp!), then drop the temp to looooow and brew as long as you can stand to.

terminal burnout

Just in case any of you has forgotten, here’s a reminder for all of us what happens when you add up low pay, crazy hours, frantic management, and me:

Terminal Burnout

Forewarned is forearmed… And yes, I’m smiling in this picture.

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