23 July 2008

Lone Gunman

Before I start chronicling Lone Gunman's road to a simpler life, a belated introduction and explanation is in order.

LG and I used to work in the same department in different cities. He was the sole representative of my extended group in the city of Dallas. A history buff, I easily associated his being the lone rep with the theory of a Lone Gunman doing all the work of killing President Kennedy. No mafia, no CIA, no Cuba, no Marilyn Monroe, just some crazy ex-Marine who decided to put his marksman skill to test. As Jonathan Coulton put it, just a magic bullet did the job. LG didn't mind the moniker and started to use it whenever he commented on this blog. It may have helped that I was always helpful with the various projects he was working on. Got fifty users to update their home paths? No problem, here's a KiX script. Need to set permission for a hundred users' home folders? This other KiX script will take care of it. The scripts are single-purpose and DOS-based, no fancy GUI, but they do the job, and always get produced on the fly, as needed, within hours. He appreciates my scripts and I appreciate his comment on the blog, his readership, and the beliefs he has.

LG is interested in Peak Oil, parenting, the environment (he's mostly a non-meat person), and of course voluntary simplicity. In the next few entries, perhaps months or years, we'll find out how successful he is with reaching for the simpler life.

18 July 2008

Keep It Simple

It is time I give voluntary simplicity (VS) some serious air time, so to speak. Lest you think I put down the movement by writing the little limerick about my friend Lone Gunman in Tampa giving away all his worldly possession except the clothes on his back. As a self-proclaimed environmentalist, the idea behind VS jives perfectly with my view. Want less and possess less then you place less of a strain on the environment.

I encouraged Lone Gunman to take before and after photos of his possession before getting rid of them but he hasn't done so. I also asked him to chronicle the process through a blog but he is too busy for it. So, being the wordier of the two of us, I'll be doing the writing for him. Perhaps every week I will list the stuff that disappeared from Lone Gunman's life.

In the mean time, for a good reading on VS from the mainstream press, check out the articles from New York Times and Time below.


07 July 2008

Independence Day 2008

I was away on an Independence Day weekend camping trip. In the United States, July 4th is Independence Day, the day when our forefathers so many years ago decided they had enough with British rule and created a new nation. Just some background in case any of my blog fans don't know American history.

Anyway, there I was not quite far from civilization and one of the first thing I did was to check for WiFi hotspots with my iPod touch. Naturally, none was to be found. A guy in my camping group commented that he wished he could check his email. Someone else, said that providing 'Net access for campers is perhaps an untapped market.

It was not my first camping trip, but there was still much that I learned. Last year, my camping trip was just one night in a big city park, with Park Rangers providing the food and service, including night hike and a failed stargazing exercise thanks to an uncooperative telescope. This year, the group consisted of some in-laws and ex-colleagues and their friends and the stay cover two nights and three days.

"Đi một ngày đàng, học một sàng khôn" is the Vietnamese proverb, roughly meaning "Make a day trip and you learn some tips". In this case, seeing platforms for the tents is a first for me. Up until last year, camping in my mind involves driving long wooden sticks into the ground for use as columns or the frame of the tent, then driving more, shorter stakes into the group and attach ropes to hold up whatever draped onto the frame. Nowadays, it seems tents come pre-built and are really easy to setup. Flexible and semi-detachable rods, for lack of better terms (or for being too lazy to research in Wiki), makes up the frame of the tent. Drive the rods through the "slots" in the tent roof and secure them with the "keys" at the four corners and you pretty much have the tent propped into shape. But that was no news to me this year. Besides the tedious work of setting up tent, my other wrong idea about camping in 2008 is that you sleep on the ground. Maybe on a carpet of grass, but still you must be on the ground, or at least having nothing but just the floor of the tent between you and the ground. Not so at Beaver Point Camp. There we had platforms raised on the sides of the hills, as shown in the photo. Upon seeing such platform, I instantly thought of Vietnamese aborigines (đồng bào Thượng) with their raised homes to keep them safe from wild animals. I suppose one advantage of raised platform for tents is that one can make use of hill sides as campground. More real estate if you will. Another would be to keep the tent drier in case of downpour. As a matter of fact, one tent in our group was on the ground and was indeed soaked the first night when it rained heavily. Another tent was also on the ground but it was dry, perhaps because it was on the top of the hill, whereas the drenched one was at the foot of the hill.

It was a great outdoor trip overall.