Archive for July, 2012

some link that doesn’t exist

July 31, 2012

5:34 PM 7/31/2012

I looked at my blog stats today and saw that there was an unusually large ‘blip’ a couple days ago, so I clicked on it to see what happened. It seemed like it was random – lots of random pages were being looked at by a variety of people – and I couldn’t see one particular search term that stood out.

But I did notice that there was a link from the16types forum. I tried clicking on it, but it seems to link to a page that doesn’t exist, or that requires registration to read. I’m not going to register, only to find that whatever it was, it got deleted, or something. I tried googling that page, and it doesn’t appear in google.

The only thing I can think of that would have prompted this was the fact that, recently, out of nowhere, some random person gave me a friend request at PersonalityCafe, and I went over there a couple times and wrote a couple of random comments and then quit again. I still had the same old username, so it might have reminded a few people that I still exist. There are people in PerC who are also on the16types.

It’s possible that Rick said something else about me on the forum because I had written to him ‘past the filter’ a couple times recently, or rather, several times over the past few months. Any other emails that I’ve sent have been to his filter, so that he can choose whether to delete them or read them. … I just checked. If Rick did say anything, it wasn’t in the public forum. He hasn’t written anything there and it says he hasn’t logged in since last November. So I’m not sure what that link came from. It seems to link to a page that no longer exists or that requires registration, and I don’t understand how a page would require registration in order to view it, from the forum.

My requested week’s vacation from work is being postponed. I’m not sure when or if I’m going to get it. I was going to take away the last of the contaminated trash which has been sitting in bags near my camp site for months now. For a variety of reasons, this is much harder to do than it sounds. Last night, I took two bags down and put them in a dumpster that I’m not allowed to use, and I hope that they don’t do anything about it, like put a lock on the dumpster or something. I wanted to do this project during my vacation. It has to be done in the middle of the night. I don’t feel like talking all about it. Suffice it to say that it’s going to take a while to do and it will be difficult, and I’ve been waiting for my week off so that I could do it, but the week off keeps getting postponed.

A skunk ripped open some of the trash bags a couple weeks ago, and I started having reactions to the residues again after the skunk tracked it out onto the path and around the area, where I walked barefoot. I got it onto my feet and into my shoes. I wonder if the skunk even survived after getting into my contaminated trash – it would never sleep again after being exposed to ephedra and not being able to wash itself off. It would just stay awake until it died.

I’m not sure how to look into the post that says it requires registration on the forum. I don’t know if it even exists or if it was deleted. Maybe it’s still there and I would be able to see it on the list.

technical problem, didn’t mean to post that last one twice

July 25, 2012

a terrible sadness and loneliness

July 25, 2012

3:49 PM 7/25/2012

I don’t have a lot of time to write right now. I’m getting on a bus in a little while. I should be out there by 4:15 PM.

I finally bought some snacks again at the grocery store so that I would have a little bit of food in my tent, packaged food, granola bars and slim jims. That way I can eat just a little bit so that I am not so starving when I am at home. I often get on my bike and have to go riding when I haven’t eaten anything at all. The food shouldn’t smell enough to attract bears.

I shampooed my hair again when I was in town this afternoon. I will still need to do this occasionally for a while until I am finished with the decontamination, and then, I might still need to do it occasionally, although I would rather not have to, and I would rather leave the grease in it as part of my experiment. But it’s not safe to leave drug residues or smoke residues in my hair and then take baths in the creek, get my hair wet, reactivate the residues in the hair without actually rinsing them out, and then have reactions to them while my hair is wet.

After I washed my hair, I was walking around pushing my bike on the sidewalk, and I felt this terrible sadness and loneliness. I haven’t started my period yet. I have sad moods for several days before my period actually starts. I might have also been having a reaction to whatever I washed out of my hair.

There is a homeless man who I remember and recognize from a few years ago when I was living in the shelter for a couple of days, long story. He is a SLE. He has long hair and a beard. I saw him sitting outside while I was walking and I nodded at him. I see him around town all the time. But I don’t want to make friends with him because I am planning to leave the area. I don’t want to bond with anyone at all. But I do. And when I looked at him, I felt this terrible sadness and loneliness again. It was a sadness similar to his, years and years of isolation, years and years of living outside mainstream society, in a world where few people can understand you or relate to what you’re doing.

But I have to do my decontamination first before I try making friends with anyone. Otherwise, I will do things that are not normal for me. But today, I had the desire to talk to him, ask him what his story was, why he was choosing to be homeless, how old he was, where did he come from, and many other questions. It’s not normal for me to be very friendly, and the drug residues cause me to be that way, so I have to be clean and get to my natural level of friendliness before I allow myself to try talking to people.

People don’t understand that homelessness is a choice, for some people. For others, it is a temporary misfortune, an unexpected accident, and that is how most people view it. You’re homeless? Oh no! We have to fix it right now! Do something immediately to get yourself a home! But for others such as myself, it is a choice, and we have reasons why we do it. It is not merely a misfortune. It is a lifestyle.

I’d like to find other people who want to choose to be homeless, to cut their living expenses, to live as squatters, to be my neighbors, to be hunter-gatherers in addition to working at their jobs, to save money and use less money, but also to increase their earning potential. I am not necessarily opposed to wealth as such.

I would find people who would hunt and gather with me. When I went to the creek today to take a bath, I saw the minnows and the crayfish, and I wanted to catch them in a net and eat them. But why bother? It’s hard to do. It requires effort. I would have to build a fire to cook them. I would have to buy a net. I would have to test them and make sure I didn’t get sick from eating them. I don’t want to do these things when I am alone. I just have the feeling that it’s not even worth doing, not even worth bothering with. I’ll just buy my food at the usual places. But I *want* to hunt and gather my food! I want to prepare my food from scratch. I want to take at least some of my food from the land that I live on, even if I don’t get all of it from here.

I would not necessarily want to hunt the minnows in that particular stream. I have feelings of attachment to them. When I was taking my baths all last autumn, the little fish would swim up to me and nibble my feet and ankles. They don’t do that as much now, for a couple of reasons – I’ve been wearing my ‘frog’ shoes, rubber shoes which are similar to crocs, and so the fish don’t nibble my feet – I haven’t been taking baths as often, partly because I no longer have a warm place to go afterwards – it’s freezing cold to get back on a bicycle with the wind blowing on you while you’re all wet from a bath, but I used to be getting back into a nice, warm car where I could turn the heater on – also, I’ve been bathing in a shallower part of the creek, because there was a yellowjackets’ nest near my previous favorite place, which had deeper water, and the minnows can reach me more easily in deep water, but not in the shallow water – and so, the little minnows do not nibble my feet and ankles as often as they used to. But still, they approach me. And I am fond of them. So I would not want to kill and eat those particular minnows. They feel like little friends.

If I ever hunted, I would want to hunt someplace where I was ‘anonymous.’ I would be the enemy, the intruder, someone bad. I would be not a friend. The animals would not recognize me. They would not be ‘my friends.’ I’ve said that I wouldn’t hunt any animals that were near my tent, like the deer or the turkeys that sometimes wander past. (The deer haven’t been there much lately – I think they’ve noticed that a human lives there and they’re staying away.) I would go to some other territory to go hunting. I would want my own territories to be peaceful places where I was friends with the animals.

I’ve been eating a bad diet lately, and that’s why I’m thinking about food and hunting right now. I remember reading someplace that women tend to want to eat a lot of food just before their periods too. It’s part of the cycle. I ate something today, but it wasn’t the kind of food I wanted. It was just food to temporarily reduce my hunger, to keep me going a little longer, but not to really nourish me.

I should get ready to leave. The bus will be here soon. I’m at the library, and I want to ride the bus to work. I rode my bike here. I like it that I’m able to put my bike on the bike rack on the bus, now that I’ve finally had the courage to try to do it. I was afraid to try it, at first. I didn’t know how to unhook the rack and how to put the bike on. I watched the videos online. But the first time I tried it, I couldn’t figure out how to make the rack come down. It was folded up and I couldn’t move it. I had to ask the bus driver to show me how. I had forgotten what I saw in the video. But now I can do it easily.

I’ve learned a lot of new things, living this way, and I’ve done things that I’ve never done before, even if, maybe, they’re not very important things (like how to ride the buses). These might not be huge achievements to other people, but to me, they are. I lived a sheltered life for a long time, and I didn’t experience much at all. Now I am doing a lot of new things.

Falling trees and branches are hazardous to people camping; I am still alive and well; I chopped down a tree near my camp site

July 23, 2012

3:27 PM 7/23/2012

I’m still alive and okay, even though I have not been blogging. I requested a one week vacation a little while ago, but it’s been postponed because we were really busy for a couple of holidays and events going on in town, and then, a few other people also requested off at the same time. I had said that I didn’t need any particular date, but those other people did, so their requests got priority, and mine got postponed because my date was flexible. That is why it’s been so long. I talked to the manager yesterday just to make sure that he hadn’t accidentally forgotten, and he hasn’t.

During this vacation I’m going to finish the last of my cleanup of anything remaining that’s contaminated with drug residues so that I will not have any more reactions in the future. I will also set up my camp some more. I would like to feel more secure. I am a little bit worried about the possibility that a dead tree will fall on my tent.

I actually chopped down one tree a few weeks ago. It seemed to be dead, but it was actually very, very hard to chop down, and the inside of the tree was still very strong, even though big parts of it were rotten, and there were no pine needles growing on it anymore at the top, and the bark was falling off in a lot of places – still, it was very strong.

After I chopped it, I got this horrible feeling. It seemed to emanate some kind of chemical, some kind of poison, that made me feel lightheaded, faint, like I was dying, like I was going to pass out. I felt as though I myself was the tree, that I had been killed, permanently, that I could not breathe or get water. I almost threw up.

I believe that plants do feel pain. They have chemical messages that tell the rest of the plant that an injury has occurred which needs to be healed. Maybe these chemical messages are similar enough to the chemical messages of a human body that we are actually able to inhale the chemicals and understand the message as pain. In evolution, we keep things that work well. There are simple hormones, like the thyroid hormone, which have remained almost the same in all species of animals, and you can actually use the thyroid hormones from animals, like fish, that are very different from humans. So maybe the plants’ hormones for injuries and death are still similar to some of our own hormones.

I wonder how the professional loggers do it when they chop down huge, enormous trees that are hundreds of years old. Do they pass out and vomit after they chop down the tree? Did anyone else ever experience this?

A tree is similar to a human, in a way. Trees are different from other plants. Trees are designed to live a lot longer, hundreds of years, sometimes even thousands of years. Other plants die much sooner. Some plants produce their seeds and then die, every single year. Those plants that die quickly are harder for me to understand. Their goal is to live just long enough to reproduce. They don’t have to protect themselves, rebuild and regrow themselves, the way that trees do. They might have to heal small, minor injuries. But they are not trying to build and maintain a huge body system that transfers water and nutrients over long distances for an extremely long time.

A human has to do the same thing. We live for about a hundred years. We have to keep this body, protect it all the time, keep on renewing its cells over and over again for decades. Maybe the substance of the individual cells changes. Maybe they are renewed and replaced with new chemicals. But the entire structure remains the same, and the body has a ‘memory’ of its own shape, of what it’s supposed to look like. I have the same body I have always had, and I can vaguely remember what it felt like to be a child.

I didn’t like cutting down the tree. It was sickening and traumatic. And it should have been dead, but somehow, it wasn’t really dead. It was almost like it was dormant, like it was waiting for conditions to get better.

For some reason, all of the pine trees growing at that particular elevation on the mountain are dead and dying, all of them, every single one. They lose all their pine needles, their bark falls off, they die, the trunk breaks somewhere near the bottom, and the tree falls. Some of them are knocked over at the roots. All of them are pines. There are no fallen hardwoods in that area, just pines, nothing but pines. I don’t know why the pines are all dying there. The forest may be ‘in transition,’ but then again, there may be some more specific cause that I don’t understand. I did a little bit of reading to learn about why trees die.

I chose a spot that was out of reach of most of the pine trees. Any other pines that were near me were leaning away from me, so that they would not fall on the tent. The ones near me are still alive. But even so, I am scared of them.

This is a danger of camping in the woods. A tree or a very large branch could fall on your tent. A few years ago, a girl was walking on the Penn State Campus, and a huge tree branch broke off and fell on her and killed her. If I recall, this happened because of a snowstorm. But it can happen even without a storm. Loggers call those branches ‘widowmakers’ – they will kill a man.

My original tent was underneath some other trees that were bending down over top of it in an arch. It felt like a roof. I felt as though those trees would protect me against anything falling. I had a problem with that tent and I’m sleeping in a different spot right now, but it’s temporary. I will move back under the arching boughs as soon as I can, which will be during my vacation when I clean things up.

I’ve also been afraid of bears and cougars, ever since I saw the one big bear while I was hiking on the far side of the mountain. A couple days ago, I woke up early in the morning and heard something walking around outside the tent. I heard heavy breathing. It was huffing and puffing, walking around going ‘puff… puff…. puff… puff… pufff…’ I was terrified. I couldn’t see what it was because I was lying down and couldn’t look through the window. But I saw a small shadow, a silhouette, and it was a baby bear. It touched the side of my tent.

I had a bunch of garbage on the floor of the tent, and I also had a little basket of plums that I had bought at the Amish Farmer’s Market. The bear could probably smell the plums.

When it touched the tent, I roared at it. I was terrified that it would try to claw through the tent to get inside. I went ‘RAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRR!’ The bear started running away. I stood up and looked out the window and I roared at it again as it was running away. It was just a medium sized baby, and I saw that it had a radio collar around its neck. Immediately, I felt sorry for it. Collars are very uncomfortable for the animals. In the Arctic, the people are complaining that the collars prevent the polar bears from sticking their necks through small holes in the ice to catch their prey, and the collars are causing them to starve, which is making the bears very aggressive, and they are coming to the human settlements and looking for food and trash because they cannot hunt.

So I don’t like radio collars, even though the Pennsylvania Black Bears don’t have to stick their necks through holes in the Arctic ice. They probably are prevented from doing *something* that they need to do. However, it slightly reassured me when I read about it on the net, and they said that the collars are set to automatically disconnect themselves after a certain period of time, by using a small explosion. That’s kind of scary too, though. Exactly what kind of ‘small detonation’ or whatever it was they said?

I got rid of all the garbage that was in the tent. I still have the plums, but I buried them underneath a bunch of stuff.

I have a natural bear-resistant fence on one side of my camp. There are a whole bunch of fallen trees in a pile, so that it’s very hard to climb over. You can if you want to, but it’s inconvenient. The branches are all poking up in all directions. I need to put another bear-resistant fence on the other sides of my camp as well.

Anyway, I am still alive. And in case anyone didn’t notice, I put up a YouTube video with a description of how to find the path to my tent. That’s in case anything happens to me and anybody needs to find where I am. Hopefully no one will need to.

I’m getting used to riding a bike everywhere. It was very helpful that I raised the seat higher so that my legs stretch out all the way when I pedal. If your knees are still bent at the lowest part of your pedaling cycle, then you are straining your knees more than you need to, and not using the full power of your legs, and you will become more exhausted and your knees will hurt more than they otherwise would. Now that I’m aware of this, I notice it on every bike rider who passes by – I look at them and see whether their knees are straightening out all the way when they pedal.

I also discovered that it’s hard to ride a bike uphill while wearing a backpack. I like to take my backpack off and put it in the front basket hanging on my handlebars. However, that basket isn’t designed for this bike. My front wheel has suspension, a shock absorber, and when I go over a bump, the front part squashes down and the basket bumps against the wheel and makes a buzzing noise. If I move the basket into a higher position, it hangs at an angle, pushes against the cables, and rubs against the metal stem of the handlebars, wearing off the blue paint. I would like to solve this problem by getting myself a front rack and front panniers, but that will cost money, and I am postponing it.

Anyway, I discovered that the weight feels much less if you put the weight on the front of the bike while going uphill. And I read on other websites about where to put your panniers, and those websites agreed that it’s best if you put a lot of weight on the front of the bike, and less weight on the back. But most people put their racks and their panniers on the back, not the front. I can ride uphill much faster and with less effort and less exhaustion if I take off my backpack and put it in my front basket on the handlebars.

I’ve been saving money, but not as much as I would like. Still, it’s great – I am only working one job, less than 40 hours of course (as I said the other day, no overtime), and yet, I still have enough money that I can save a little bit. I don’t spend my entire paycheck on rent and gas and utilities and everything else that I paid for when I lived in an apartment and drove a car.

But the price that I pay is, I have a long ride to work. It’s longer because the road is closed for construction. The ride home is much worse than the ride to work. On the way home, I have to go up the huge hill in Lemont, all the way up. I just walk my bike up it. It takes a long time, and so, I spend many hours commuting. I’ve chosen this location so that my belongings will be secure. My belongings are hidden in the woods in a place where people will not see them, and so nobody will ransack my tent, vandalize it, steal from it, or damage it in any way. If I were living in a tent closer to town, down in the valley, I would be more likely to be seen by people and possibly harassed or vandalized. That is the reason why I’m living in an isolated place with a long commute to work. I might change my location in the future though – this campsite is not permanent.

The main idea is that yes, I am alive and well and still going about my life.

It *might* be possible to use collective bargaining to waive our right to receive overtime pay

July 19, 2012

I don’t have time to write right now, but I saw this: It says on that page that, at least in Texas, “Any collective bargaining agreement can mandate that employees waive their right to overtime pay in exchange for other perks. Any employee who is part of a collecting bargaining agreement that does that is exempt from overtime pay.”

I don’t know if it’s possible to do that in Pennsylvania where I am. ‘In exchange for other perks,’ to me, would mean, ‘being allowed to work more than 40 hours a week, so that I can earn more than the maximum amount of money that I am forced to stay below every week, so that I don’t have to get a second job in order to earn more money.’ To me, that is a ‘perk,’ but to other people, it might not be considered a ‘perk.’ I absolutely do not want any other kinds of perks that will put even more financial strain and inconvenience upon my employer, which will make them dislike me and make them reluctant to cooperate with me in my negotiation. The last thing I want to do is demand that they give me even more than they are already giving me. If I had my way, I would let them pay me less than minimum wage if that was what they needed to do. I don’t believe in any of these laws at all. But I don’t have time to write about it right now.

I strongly insist that I want to waive my right to receive overtime pay, and that I am mentally competent to do this.

July 10, 2012

“The FLSA provides minimum standards that may be exceeded, but cannot be waived or reduced.”

I understand that this is intended to protect helpless people who are unable to say ‘no’ to working longer hours when they don’t really want to. There really are spineless people out there who feel threatened by their employers and feel that they are being forced to do things they don’t want to do. This is intended to protect THOSE types of people.

I am NOT THAT TYPE OF PERSON. I am the type of person who strongly negotiates exactly when and how I want to work, and I do not feel forced to do things that I don’t want to do. I am able to say ‘no’ when I want to say no. I am able to protect myself against my employer.

No one is threatening me or forcing me to request the right to waive my overtime pay. My employer is not standing behind me with a gun to my head telling me that I must work more than 40 hours and I must work them without overtime pay. Just the opposite is true: my employer is terrified of the government and terrified to challenge any of the laws or do anything unusual that everybody else isn’t doing. If I get down on my knees and BEG them to let me work overtime without overtime pay, they refuse to let me do that.

So I understand that the law is meant to protect a particular type of person, someone spineless, someone who isn’t able to negotiate with their employers on their own, someone terrified to say ‘no’ when their employer asks them to work overtime without overtime pay. I am not that type of person at all. I am not being protected by this law. I am being harmed by this law. I would like to waive my right to be harmed by this law. I would like to protest the harm that this law is doing to me. But let everyone else continue to be protected, if they wish to be protected. I am the only one who wants to waive this right. I alone am responsible for the consequences of waiving my right to receive overtime pay.

They assume the worst about my ability to protect myself. They assume that everybody is unable to protect themselves, unable to negotiate, and unable to communicate or think for themselves. They assume that I am too stupid and too mentally incompetent to decide on my own that I don’t want to receive overtime pay. I am an exception to this general rule about people. And so, I want to waive my right to overtime pay.

It is not possible to change the law. I would have to get millions of other people to vote on it, and spend millions of dollars. By the time they were finished, they would have added a hundred new rules to the law making it even worse than it was to begin with. I just want myself to be exempt from this harmful ‘protection.’ I don’t want to fight to change the law.

They imagine that if they make one single exception to this law, if they allow one single waiver, then suddenly millions of people will be strong-arming their employees into ‘requesting a waiver’ because they are too spineless to say no. Should I prove my mental competence before I receive my waiver? Should I prove to them that I do not have the brainless, spineless, compliant personality type that is incapable of saying no to an employer? I am NOT a compliant type of person. They need to give a very clear definition of which type of person that this law applies to, the mentally incompetent, brainless, spineless, compliant person. They need to describe this very specifically. It should be viewed as a personality disorder rather than being viewed as the norm for all of humanity. It should be viewed as a weakness, a sickness, something unfortunate that happens to some people but not others. It is by no means typical of everybody everywhere.

Still waiting to finish my decontamination; tired a lot; emailing instead of blogging

July 10, 2012

8:03 PM 7/10/2012

I’m in withdrawal for the second day from caffeine. I might not actually quit it this time, and in fact, I might have some soon tonight. I’m planning to quit it again during my week’s vacation which I’ve requested so that I can finish my decontamination completely, and set up my camp some more so that I can do routines more easily. But I needed to do at least a temporary withdrawal from coffee because I was so exhausted. I spent most of yesterday and today sleeping, though I did come down off the mountain to go get something to eat and to watch a movie.

I haven’t been blogging because I am still in this phase of sending emails to Rick. I am emailing him almost every day. I’m sending them from the address that he knows to filter out. I warned him that this would probably happen. It happened because I stopped seeing Georgia in my blog stats, which made me want to somehow keep in contact with him. That was when he went hiking at the beginning of summer. Apparently, when he is at home in Tbilisi, he is using his regular computer and going online frequently, and it’s easier for him to go to my blog. When he is off hiking, he isn’t on the net as much, and also, he probably feels less of a need to look at it. I still don’t know the reasons why he looks at my blog.

I saw a movie on Sunday called ‘Safety Not Guaranteed.’ It’s about time travel. I thought it was really good. I won’t go into detail about it. It had a good ending. I also saw ‘Prometheus’ yesterday, but that wasn’t the kind of movie I needed to see – it was scary and depressing, not a happy movie. I do enjoy scary movies, and I always loved the ‘Aliens’ series, which ‘Prometheus’ is part of, but yesterday I was lonely and depressed and hopeless.

I’m probably going to have a coffee soon, which will wake up my brain and make me more willing to talk. I haven’t been doing a lot lately. I am just going to work every day. I am testing different bike routes, because the main road that goes from Lemont to my McDonald’s is closed as they are working on a bridge. The alternate routes still are difficult and have more hills on them than I would like. I’ve found that it’s sometimes easier to go up a hill if I have my backpack in the front basket of my bike instead of on my back, but I’m not absolutely sure about this.

I’m going to finish my decontamination in a couple weeks when I get my requested vacation from work. I’ve had to wait a little bit for that vacation because we’ve had a bunch of holidays, and they need me to work. We had July 4th, and now, we’re having the Arts Festival. So we might be very busy this week. It could go the other way – we could be totally dead this week.

I’ve been feeling lonely and frustrated. I would like to go visit Rick in Tbilisi, even though I am not welcome. If he refused to see me, then I would just walk around and explore the city for a while and then go back home. Originally, he told me that I should go see him, because I was infatuated with him and it would give me a reality check. The result of the reality check will not necessarily be negative – I will probably still think that he’s great after I meet him; however, I might feel that we are not compatible because of the way we talk.

Also, I will have to learn new languages, which I love to do, but I don’t have a lot of time for it. And right now, I am not fully committed to doing this, and so I am not learning the language right now. I have this perfectionism, too, and I don’t want to speak the language with an accent, and so I hesitate to do any language learning that requires me to read words and write them and try to pronounce them. I need to hear real people talking, and try to imitate what they say, even if I don’t know how it’s spelled. I don’t want to get the wrong idea of what the letters sound like. I don’t want to speak their letters in the American way when they are supposed to be spoken differently. Those letters are only an approximation, and they do not sound exactly the same way that our letters sound.

So, anyway, nothing is going on. I haven’t been reading a lot online, and I haven’t been reading a lot of books. I’ve just been working. My brain hasn’t been very active. I am not learning anything. I haven’t been reading the news very much. I have been very disconnected. I am living this way for a reason: I have to get rid of the last of the drug residues so that I can move on with my life. When that is done, I will make plans for the next projects that I am doing, and I will have more to talk about. Then there will probably be a time when I am working two jobs, and I will have nothing to write about at all.

What the hell. The radio station seems to have switched to some kind of instrumental, classical thing, and it’s very beautiful, and I recognize the song, and I’m waiting for it to change back to the horrible radio any second now. I don’t know why on earth it would actually be on a NICE station. It’s this peaceful, beautiful singing choir, turned down to a reasonable volume. The fact that I actually enjoy it means that it will only last a few seconds before it is destroyed. Aha, now we are back to normal music. I can’t explain what that was. The music is designed to torture me and make me feel that the human soul has been completely destroyed forever – the normal music, that is.

This morning, I saw interesting footprints around the mud puddle. My camp is next to the second mud puddle. The mud puddles are very long lasting because they are part of a spring, but not a big enough spring to actually make a stream. My address is officially 540 Mt. Nittany Rd. I didn’t know until recently that the trail actually has an address. Then the rest of my address is like something where the owls have to go find Harry Potter: 540 Mt. Nittany Rd., Left Branch, Second Mud Puddle, The Biggest Tent.

So I saw footprints around the mud puddle. They were large and round. I did not see claw marks. They might have been the bobcat that I thought I saw a few nights ago. I have been reading about how to distinguish cat footprints from dog footprints. These weren’t like dog footprints. However, they were in the puddle itself, and so much of the detail was lost.

I saw the suspected bobcat when I was coming home very late at night. I move around at exactly those times of night when the animals are most active, like 3:00 AM, and just before dawn. There was a yellow sodium vapor lamp streetlight shining down on the road next to some trash cans. A large animal ran away from me, and it turned and looked back at me a couple of times while it was running away. It wasn’t a dog. It looked like a huge housecat. And it didn’t seem to have a tail, so it had sort of a hunched look. It was only a silhouette under the yellow streetlight. I could only guess that it was a bobcat. I was really, really scared afterwards. I kept looking behind me while I was walking my bike up the hill. I have to walk slowly most of the way up the hill, so it takes a while to get home. I have a very long commute in terms of time, because of that hill.

So if there were any unusual footprints around the puddle, they might have come from the bobcat. I am still thinking about cougars, and I am aware that they might possibly exist in this area, even though they are officially extinct.

I still am interested in learning to hunt with primitive weapons like bows and arrows. But I haven’t been doing anything except going to work every day. This is a hard time for me. This phase is temporary, and my life won’t always be this hard. I need to make some changes and some arrangements so that things will be easier for me. I am not saving a lot of money, because I have to buy random things like accessories for the bicycle or for the camp. However, the fact that I am working only one job, and yet still the money in my checking account is increasing, means that actually I am saving money by not paying rent. I spent a lot of money during the Bike Tube Fiasco because I rode in a lot of cabs. But other than that, I am not normally spending a huge amount of money. And I am working only one job, which would have been inconceivable before – it was not possible to work only one job and pay the rent around here. I’m working only one job, and yet, my savings are slowly going up. I want them to go up faster, but still, the fact that I am not constantly overdrawing my account and constantly having disasters that make me call my mom and dad begging them for money means that yes, I am doing something good by not paying rent and by not having a car that needs to be fixed. I still need to make more changes to my life to make things better, but everything is postponed until I can finish the decon.

So I am still alive, and I am emailing Rick every day, hoping that he really reads them and that he isn’t actually deleting them, but letting him have the option of deleting them or reading them. I am capable of sending him messages that will get past his filter whenever I choose to do so. I just don’t want to annoy him whenever I can’t actually go over there and see him in person yet. He doesn’t want to have a long-distance online relationship. I don’t either, not as an end in itself.

I’ve been trying more of the restaurants around town, and I’ve been going to the State Theater more often and seeing the unusual movies there, which gives me an alternative to the big movie theaters. I’ve been eating Thai food today.

I got an unusual text message, but I can’t respond to it because my phone can’t text properly.

July 3, 2012

My phone is able to get text messages, but I can’t send them. I have no idea who this message is from. I might just have to call them instead of texting them, and I have no idea who will pick up the phone when I call. They asked me a question, and I would try to answer it, or at least ask them what’s going on, but I can’t.

The Great Flat Bike Tire Tube Fiasco of 2012 Is Finally Over

July 2, 2012

8:43 PM 7/2/2012

I haven’t been blogging for a week or two now. I went through a phase of sending a whole bunch of emails to Rick. I had warned him, months and months ago, that he might need to filter out my emails, and I explained to him that I might possibly start writing so many letters that he would have to ignore them all. I don’t know whether I’m out of this phase of emailing Rick yet or not. It started because Georgia stopped appearing in my blog stats right when Rick started his summer hiking campaign. He always goes hiking all summer long, for many months, through many places. So I started emailing him. I mostly emailed him through the email address that he knew to filter out. That way, he could choose whether or not he wanted to read the emails. He could choose to ignore them if he wanted to, by having them automatically deleted, which is what I originally recommended that he should do. I knew that I might write or do crazy things while I was having my manic attacks, and that it would be embarrassing to me and disturbing to him to see whatever I was saying in the emails. But I also sent him a couple of letters in such a way that he would be unable to filter them, and so, when he got the first of those letters, he responded in a sarcastic and hurtful way.

I had an incident, and I was ashamed to talk about it. There was a wasp in the tent with me one night. I don’t know how it got in there. It probably had gotten in earlier in the day when I had left the tent door open for a minute or two. I was getting ready for bed, and I looked up and there it was, crawling up the door, and I panicked. I decided to spray it with the peppermint spray. I am scared of the wasps, and this was a phobic response, and probably not a good idea, but sometimes people do stupid things when they’re scared, and this was one of those things. I sprayed the wasp and killed it.

After that, I tried to get to sleep, but the wasp spray made me so sick that I thought I was going to die. It contains peppermint, wintergreen, and mineral oil, and a few other ingredients, and whatever is in there, it’s toxic if you’re breathing it in an enclosed space for a long time. I thought that spray was okay because I had sprayed it outdoors in open spaces and hadn’t had any bad reactions to it. But I was having weird experiences, like seeing the darkness in my eyelids moving when my eyes were closed – there was this trembling or twitching motion somehow, in my eyes, which made me feel like I was watching a hypnotist swinging a pendulum back and forth. My head felt sick and stupid and unable to think, and I felt like I wouldn’t wake up if I went to sleep. I truly felt like I was going to die.

(Whenever incidents like this happen, the voices in my head become my helpers and protectors. They are the ones who force me to move whenever the last thing on earth that I want to do is move, when all I want to do is sleep and die. They ‘push the button’ to force me to make a decision, to get up, to endure even more discomfort and inconvenience, for the purpose of saving me from death. When I lose my will, when I am weak and poisoned and dying, when I am trying to be comfortable and fall asleep in a toxic place, when I am too weak and too tired to realize that I need to move in order to save myself, it is the voices, it is ‘they,’ who force me to wake up and move and do what I need to do, no matter how hard it is to do. This has happened several times in situations where something was causing me to have severe apnea while I was sleeping, when I stopped breathing and would have had trouble waking up.)

So for two nights, I moved my sleeping bag out directly onto the ground, and I slept there without a tent. I used a camouflage net as a mosquito net, because I was constantly attacked by all sorts of insects, but the net wasn’t completely closed, and so I was bitten by ants many times.

The tent wouldn’t air out. The spray is still in there.

The reason why I am ashamed of this incident is because it seems like someone would say ‘She never learns.’ You would think that I would be more cautious about handling concentrated herbal oils after the thing that happened to me a few years ago, after I contaminated my belongings and had to get rid of them.

But I rationalized that this particular substance was nontoxic to me. And actually, it’s not that strange for me to think that. I don’t react badly to all chemicals. For instance, many chemical sensitive people have horrible reactions to tiny quantities of bleach or perfume. But I don’t react badly to either of those things. I spray a bathroom cleaner that contains bleach when I’m working at McDonald’s, when I’m doing the dishes, every day. I use lots and lots of it without having a reaction. And I don’t get sick from perfume, although I find it to be unpleasant and disgusting when there is too much of it, but that’s not the same as when a chemical sensitive person actually becomes ill from it.

So I already know that there are some chemicals that I react badly to, and other chemicals that I do not react badly to. However, even though I said I’m not bothered by bleach, actually I am bothered by it if it’s in an enclosed place and heavily concentrated and I have to stay there breathing it for a long time. But anyway, it actually was not that crazy of me to think that I wasn’t going to have a bad reaction to the herbal mint wasp spray. But it violated the ‘high concentrations in an enclosed space for a long time’ rule.

When I was finally able to get to Wal-Mart to get myself another tent, the little junior tents were all gone. It happened to be the very same night that everybody else was doing some kind of fundraiser, the Backyard Campout or something, I forget what it was called. So everyone in town had already bought all the little cheap tents. I had to get myself a larger, nicer tent than I actually needed. It’s huge. But it was an emergency.

This tent was big and heavy to carry, and I brought it home from Wal-Mart on my bike. I don’t have any kind of rack on the bike yet, although I will have something in the future. So I had to find a way to carry it home. I hung this heavy tent from one of the handlebars, and I just rode home slowly and carefully, with this heavy package swinging back and forth on one side of the handlebars. It was awkward, but I did it.

I set up this tent in the darkness in the middle of the night. I was miserable. However, this tent would make everything a little easier for me, and so I was determined to finish setting it up. It’s very big, and I don’t even have it camouflaged, but it’s better than sleeping on the ground without a mosquito net.

But the next day, my bike felt weird when I was riding it. I thought the front tire seemed squishy, and it seemed to be making more noise as it ran along the road. Then, the day after that, the front tire was completely flat. So I had damaged the tire by carrying this big heavy tent package dangling from one of the handlebars, probably. I don’t know if it was just the weight that did it. It may have been the swinging motion as it hung from the handlebar. The weight would have been constantly moving around, putting unexpected stresses on the tire tube.

Getting a new tube turned out to be a huge fiasco that went on for days and days and days, but today, I finally have the bike reassembled and the tire is working again.

I had been parking my bike next to a tree down on the road, instead of taking it all the way up to the tent, as I had originally. I had come down the path, all ready to go to work on my bike, and I got on and started to ride, but I immediately felt that the front tire was flat. If I recall, I didn’t even show any emotion when this happened. I just quietly and calmly thought about what I was going to do, about how I was going to get to work that day.

My cell phone was dead. The battery had gotten ruined, probably because I had been doing a lot of partial charges and then using it, instead of charging it all the way up till it was full. So the battery would say it was fully charged, but then it would die in only a minute or two if you tried to make a phone call. I was in the process of researching how to order a new battery. I ordered one from Best Buy, but hadn’t gotten it yet. So I could not use my cell phone to call a cab.

I did not have a tire pump, or tire patches, or a spare tube, or any bike tools. I hadn’t gotten any of that stuff yet.

I didn’t know when the buses ran. I hadn’t ridden the buses very much yet. I didn’t have a paper copy of the bus schedules yet, although I did finally get one later.

I locked my bike to the tree, and then started speedwalking down the hill. I’ve been speedwalking because it doesn’t hurt my shins or my knees as badly as jogging does. You don’t lift both your feet off the ground at the same time. One of your feet is always touching the ground, which is why it’s still defined as walking, even though you’re going fast. You move your arms parallel to your body, forwards and backwards, as though you are using trekking poles. I learned that in track practice when I was a teenager – the coach said to swing your arms directly straight forward, instead of swinging them so that they crossed at an angle in front of you. You should swing them in a motion that’s sort of like the motion of those arms that make the wheels of a train spin. It’s not exactly like that, but similar.

I speedwalked down the hill to Sheetz. As I was approaching the bottom of the hill, of course, I saw the bus go by, and I could not have run to catch it. I discovered a new Murphy’s Law, which is, if you are wondering when the bus gets to this stop, the answer is always ‘one minute before you got there.’ So I kept on speedwalking all the way to Sheetz. When I was there, I used their phone to call a cab, and I rode the taxi to work.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling well for several days that week. I started my period, and I might also have been sick with a virus or something. I had no energy at all, and I could barely drag myself out of bed to go to work every day. So I had a hard time getting to Wal-Mart to get a new bike tube and tire pump.

Somehow, I guess I rode the bus, and I did eventually get to Wal-Mart, and I bought a few of the tools and things I needed.

(That day, I had an encounter with some guy who looked Indian.  I was going to the bus stop at Wal-Mart, and suddenly I saw this guy standing there with his grocery bags, with some kind of liquid spilling out of a ripped bag, and he looked upset.  I walked over to him.  He was trying to move a bottle of liquid dish soap, and a calculator, out of that bag, and trying to get them cleaned off, so that he could get on the bus.  ‘Oh no!’ I said.  ‘Do you want another bag?  Would that help?’  ‘Okay, sure,’ he said, and so I took the stuff out of my own grocery bag and put it all into my backpack, and I gave him my bag.  He put the dish soap and the calculator into it.  He looked miserable.  The calculator was still inside its box, but the box was soaked with soap.  He was in a hurry to get on the bus, and he wouldn’t have been able to go back to Wal-Mart to get himself another new calculator if that one had been ruined, so he was just going to take it home and see if it still worked.  I felt that I was somehow violating his privacy by looking in his bag and seeing these personal items that he had purchased.  It seemed pathetic, this poor guy with his brand new calculator all covered in soap.  I don’t know what had happened just before I had noticed him – the bag had probably split open and fallen to the ground or something, which might have caused the dish soap bottle to open up and spill everywhere inside the bag.  But he put it all into the new bag.  And then he went to his bus stop just in time to get on the bus.  He would have had to carry that leaking, split bag onto the bus with all the dish soap spilling out of it, but I helped him.  I know he was grateful that I gave him a new bag.)

I had had a discussion with a co-worker about the bike tube. He warned me that there were two types of valves for the tubes, and you had to know which one you needed. I also looked at the owner’s manual for the bike, and it mentioned the two different valves as well. So I knew that I would have to be careful to get the tube with the right kind of valve.

When I was shopping at Wal-Mart, I thought I had found the right kind and the right size. My bike tire said it was 29 inches, the largest size. I found a 29 tube at Wal-Mart, and I *SWEAR* that the box said it had the right kind of valve, but I must have been imagining that. I set the box down, and looked at some other items, and came back and picked up the box again, and when I told this story to someone later on, I explained that I must have picked up the wrong package whenever I came back and tried to pick up the one I had set down. But in reality, that package *never* said it had the right kind of valve. I know this because I went back to Wal-Mart again several days later, and there was not a single one on the entire shelf that was a size 29 with the normal Schrader valve. All of the 29 inch tubes had Presta valves, the wrong kind. Maybe it was different in the other Wal-Mart on the other side of town, though, which is where I think I bought the first tube.

So I bought this 29 inch tube and didn’t know it had a Presta valve, even though I had been warned and I *swore* I saw that it had the Schrader valve when I looked at the box.

All of this was a learning experience. I had never done any of this myself before. I’d had a couple bikes in the past, but had never really done any mechanical work on them myself.

Before I tried to replace the tube, I tried to simply pump up the tire. But it didn’t work. I had gotten one of those little pumps that looks like just a small pipe that telescopes inside of itself, one cylinder inside another, and you move it back and forth in a sort of ‘jerking off’ motion (which was what went through my mind when my co-worker was gesturing to me as he was describing this type of tire pump, but I already knew about that type of pump because I had had one in the past, so I knew what he meant). I had screwed on the end of the tire pump to the valve, and I had done that properly. Then I started moving the entire cylinder up and down along the little bendable rubber pipe. I didn’t know that this was the wrong way to do it. I didn’t realize that the pump could be opened out further, that the silver part of it had two telescoping pieces, and that I was not supposed to move the entire silver part up and down along the little black bendable tube. You have to unscrew something on the silver part, so that you have one silver part sliding inside the other section of the silver part. But I couldn’t figure that out at the time. I was trying and trying to pump up the flat tire, and it wouldn’t pump up at all. I thought that was because it had a hole so badly that it couldn’t hold any pressure.

I was sitting there in the parking area doing this while other people were walking around me and watching me and pretending not to see. I don’t know if the one guy noticed that I was using the pump improperly, but he had a sympathetic look on his face, like he was about to cry, because of my misfortune. He was one of the hikers of Mt. Nittany, and he didn’t know that actually, I lived here. He believed that I had ridden my bike up here and that now I had to somehow get myself home after discovering that I had a flat tire. But instead, I was already very close to home, and I was already mentally prepared to get myself around by using buses and taxicabs if necessary. This misfortune had happened earlier, not just now, but he would have believed that I had suddenly, just that moment, discovered that my tire was flat, to my surprise. That moment had already happened in the past, and I was no longer shocked about it. So perhaps he felt sorrier for me than he needed to.

After failing to pump up the flat tire, I took my bike all the way up to my tent again. It’s hard to get it up the trail, which was why I started leaving it down at the parking area. I wanted to be able to fix it in a place where nobody was watching me. As I was walking my bike with its flat tire up the trail, some guys were coming down the trail, and they mistakenly believed that I was just about to go on a bike ride down the path, for fun. ‘Ride hard,’ said one of the guys, to wish me well, and I laughed nervously. I couldn’t explain that actually, I was pushing the bike up the hill to take it to my little repair shop at my tent in the woods, and that I wasn’t about to go on a fun bike ride down the path. I would have ‘ridden hard’ if I could, but the tire was flat and I wasn’t riding it anywhere. They didn’t get a good enough look at me to notice that the tire was flat.

I got it up to the tent. I spent a few minutes looking at the bike owner’s manual. Then I turned my bike upside down and opened the wheel release lever. I was scared to do this, because I had been reading the dire warnings in the bike manual about how dangerous it was if you didn’t put the bike wheel back on tightly enough. They said that there was very little difference between ‘too loose’ and ‘just right.’ So I thought that I might not be able to put it back on properly, and I would have to somehow get this bike to somebody else, some expert or authority figure, who would be able to put it back together for me. I imagined that I would need some kind of special instrument to numerically measure the exact amount of torque applied to the screw, so that I could get it exactly right. But in spite of this fear, I unscrewed the nut and gradually wiggled the wheel around until it was able to come out, and I took off the wheel.

Then I had to get the tire off. I used the tire levers, which I had never used before, to pry underneath the edge of the tire to get it off. It worked. I found the tube inside. It was loose and floppy, but still somewhat inflated.

I then went into the tent and opened up the box with the new 29 inch tube that I had bought at Wal-Mart. I suddenly saw that the tube had a Presta valve, not the Schrader valve. How on earth had that happened? I was absolutely certain that I had picked up the right box. It was just like a ‘glitch in the Matrix’: they changed something. I just sat there staring into space blankly for several minutes doing nothing at all, totally numb. Then I started shouting ‘Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!’ quite a few times. It’s a big inconvenience for me to get to the store again. I have to plan the whole trip, plan how I am going to ride the buses, or pay for a taxi if I want to get there at a time when the buses don’t run. I have to go when I’m awake and when I have enough energy, but I wasn’t feeling well that week, and I had barely been able to get up even just to go to work every day, so running an errand was extremely hard to do. So it was going to be a huge pain in the ass to go back again and get the right kind of tube.

I left the bike upside down and I covered the front part of it with a plastic garbage bag in case it rained. I didn’t want all those exposed parts to get wet. I put the wheel in the tent, and the tire, and the loosely inflated old tube. Then I had to get myself to work.

After work, a day or two later when I felt well enough, I asked the taxi to drive me to Wal-Mart, and I tried again to get the right kind of tube. That’s when I saw that every single 29 inch tube had a Presta valve. Maybe the store on the other side of town actually did have a 29 inch tube with a Schrader valve, but that wasn’t the store that I was in at the time. I couldn’t figure out how on earth I had seen the right kind of valve written on that box. There was not a single one like that on the entire shelf. So I walked out without buying another tube, and I went home.

Then something else happened. I was thinking about where I was going to go to get the right tube. I would probably go to The Bicycle Shop on College Avenue, where I had bought the bike originally. But then, I happened to look at the old tube. Instead of saying 29 inches, the old tube said it was a 700×47/52. I couldn’t understand why the size of the tube was different from the size of the tire, but there it was. So I decided I would get the taxi to take me to Wal-Mart again after work, because I knew for sure that I had seen size 700 tubes there, and again, I was absolutely sure that some of them had the Schrader valve.

I rode the taxi after work and went in to Wal-Mart, after promising the taxi driver that I would return quickly because I only needed one small item and I knew exactly what it was. I speedwalked right over to the tire tubes, and I was sure that I was going to find the right thing this time, a 700 tube with a Schrader valve. But no, when I got there I saw that the 700 boxes all said they weren’t meant to be used with mountain bikes, and also, they had the Presta valves on them too. I had this urge to just buy one of them anyway, but I stopped myself. Then I went back out to the taxi. I vented my frustration to the taxi driver. (The taxi drivers had all been very good listeners.)

That was when I decided that I absolutely would go to the Bicycle Shop and I would stop trying to buy the tubes at Wal-Mart. The main reason why I hadn’t done that yet was because it was easier for me to go shopping after work at night when I was still feeling awake. It was harder for me to wake up early in the morning and go on an errand before work. The Bike Shop was only open during the daytime, but Wal-Mart was open 24 hours, so I was able to go to WM after work.

I went to the Bicycle Shop and I told him that the tube had said 700, but the bike tire had said 29 inches. He got me some tubes that said 29 inches. I was a little worried about this – would I get home and find that they were the wrong size yet again?

Meanwhile, during all this, I had to face my coworkers. Everyone knew that I had been riding a bike to work, and that my bike had suddenly stopped appearing. Everyone noticed the bike parked behind the store, and they also noticed it wasn’t there anymore. Several of the guys had complimented me about what a nice bike I had, which is a sign that I’ve accidentally bought myself a bike that was a little bit more expensive than I should have gotten. I’ve gotten compliments from several total strangers about what a nice bike I have. I’m not intentionally trying to impress people with my bike’s awesomeness, and I would rather have a simple, frugal bike. But I bought it in a hurry and didn’t have any idea what kind of bike I needed. I would rather have people compliment me about the simple frugal ingenuity of my bike or something. ‘Wow, nice job with that duct tape!’ That kind of thing.

So I could not stop everyone from noticing that there was a problem with my bike. I had to try to tell several people the story of why I wasn’t riding my bike, and why, after all these days, I still hadn’t fixed it yet. I was embarrassed about being too sick and exhausted to go run errands. I felt like I should have been able to just run out to the bike shop right away on the first day. I felt like other people, everyone else, would have been able to get to the bike shop right away on the first day without delay. I felt like I would be called ‘lazy.’ I felt like there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t do this quickly enough.

All of it was a learning experience. I had never done any of this before, and now I was doing it on my own with very little help, during a time when it was hard for me to get to the store to go shopping.

Today, I opened up the new bike tubes, the ones that said they were 29 inches. Just then, I noticed that the rim of the wheel said it was 27 inches – oh no, was I supposed to get 27 inch tubes instead? But then, on another side of the rim, it said 29 inches, and the tire itself clearly said 29 inches. This was confusing. I was afraid it wouldn’t fit, and that I was going to have to run yet another errand after yet another failure, or, rather, not a ‘failure,’ but a ‘learning experience.’ I put the tube on.

Then I tried pumping it up. It was a brand new tube. I could not make the excuse that it wasn’t pumping up because it had a hole in it. I pumped and pumped and it had no effect at all. The tube remained completely flat.

First, I thought that the pump itself wasn’t working. For a few seconds, I thought that it might be a cheap piece of junk made by a fly-by-night company, a tire pump that just simply didn’t work at all, from the first moment that it came out of the package. This wasn’t inconceivable – I had bought such things from Wal-Mart before, something that was so totally junky that it broke the first time I used it, or never worked from the moment it came out of the package. But I didn’t want to run another errand and go to Wal-Mart again to buy a different pump. So instead, I kept looking at it and trying to figure out how it might work.

So I realized that I was using the pump wrong. I looked more closely at it, and I started unscrewing a little thing around the middle, and I suddenly saw that the silver part telescoped inside itself, and that you were supposed to pump the silver piece inside of the other silver piece, instead of pumping the whole thing back and forth along the little thin bendable black tube that attaches to the valve. Oops. Darn it, if I had known that, I probably could have just pumped up the old tube with the hole in it. I was just using the pump improperly! If I had been able to pump up the old tube, I could have kept on using my bike for several days while I was attempting to get a new tube. I could have at the very least kept pumping up the flat tube again and again as needed, at least temporarily. While I was looking at this tire pump, I also found that on the opposite end there was a little compartment with something that might have been a Presta valve adapter, but I wasn’t sure. I hadn’t seen any of this in the instructions for the tire pump! If I recall, there were no instructions. You were just supposed to know, or to learn secondhand, or to learn by trial and error, how to use the pump. What if you weren’t mechanically inclined? It really was not so simple that anybody could figure it out.

I pumped up the tube again, this time sliding one silver cylinder inside the other, and suddenly the tube pumped up very quickly. It still seemed to fit too loosely around the rim, though. I didn’t put the tube inside the tire, I just had it wrapped around the rim to see if it fit. I took the old deflated tube with the hole in it, and I put it around the rim, and it looked as though it, too, was also somewhat loose, and it didn’t stick tightly around the rim, but instead had a lot of extra room. So I had hope that maybe the new 29 inch tube might fit okay.

But then, I noticed that the new tube was much narrower than the old one. Oh no… It wasn’t going to fit. It was going to be wrong. It would be too narrow inside the tire, and the tire would be all loose around it. But I had to use it, because I wasn’t going to run back out to the bike shop this very instant and explain to the salesperson the reason why I needed to get a different one. So I put it inside the tire, and I put the tire around the rim with the tube inside, and I stretched the edges of the tire into place around the rim. Then I pumped it up as much as I could. I kept thinking that the tube was going to explode, because I would have to pump it up a whole lot to make it fill the inside of the tire, since it was so narrow. Finally the tire felt like it was almost at the right pressure, and the tube hadn’t exploded. (I had seen a tube explode in the past. One time, when I was a teenager, my mom had helped me pump up my bike tire, and she just pumped too enthusiastically for too long, and the tire suddenly went ‘BANG!’ I couldn’t see it pop from the outside. The tire still looked normal, but the tube inside had a hole in it.)

I prayed that it would work this time. I took off the garbage bag that was covering the front of my bike, and I put the wheel back on. Then I gently turned the nut, while closing and opening the release lever, waiting until I reached the moment when the release lever would be hard to push, but yet, not so hard that I couldn’t move it. I finally got it. I closed the release lever. I checked it carefully to see that it was in the right place, not crooked.

I rode my bike around on the trail. It was wonderful to ride the bike again after having gone so long without it. It seemed to be working. I was nervous about it. I didn’t go really fast.

Finally I rode my bike down the mountain, slowly, and I went into town. I had walked all the way to Lemont from the middle of State College, several times, in the middle of the night, this past week, and I was aware of how long of a distance it was, and it suddenly seemed easier on my bike. My bike is kind of slow, but it’s faster than walking.

I ate at a Thai restaurant called ‘Galanga.’ I’ve never eaten there before. First I had a delicious soup made with chicken broth, chunks of tofu, and vegetables. I ordered a beef curry that had kaffir lime leaves in it. I remembered kaffir lime leaves from some microwaveable frozen Thai food that I had gotten from Wal-Mart several years ago. (They don’t have that brand anymore.) Kaffir lime leaves have a very unique, special, wonderful, instantly recognizable flavor that is different from any other herb or spice. The curry was delicious. I ate as much of it as I could, and I took the rest with me in a styrofoam cup.

Then I went to see ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,’ which was playing at the State Theater in town. I had already seen that movie twice when it was at the other theater, and I loved it. Somehow, it’s easier for me to complain whenever I don’t like a movie, but hard for me to explain what it is that I love whenever I love a movie. This was a feel good movie that was worth seeing three times or more. At the end of the credits, they mention a website: . This goes to a site that encourages people to get involved in social causes and movements. This particular movie was associated with Elderhostel and some other group that helps older people get jobs.

After I got out of the movie, I ate the rest of my Thai food. It somehow was still okay to eat many hours later, and I finished it, and was very happy that it hadn’t spoiled. I used chopsticks. I always use chopsticks whenever they are available, because I like a challenge. What’s the point of eating foreign food if it isn’t challenging and different? Why would I want to eat foods that taste exactly like what I’ve always eaten, and eat them using the same utensils I’ve always used? I like it when I find foreign food that really is very different from what I’m used to.

Then I went wandering around on campus, which was when I went to the Berkey Creamery and had the Two Whole Pints Of Ice Cream On A Tiny Cone incident, which I wrote about in the previous post. And after that, I came here, to Dunkin Donuts, to use their wifi and to write this blog.

I am very glad that the bike tube fiasco is over. It was a learning experience. I know I have a lot more to learn.

Complaint: Penn State’s Berkey Creamery ice cream cones are so huge that you can’t eat the whole thing

July 2, 2012

7:13 PM 7/2/2012

I had to write an angry blog about this right now while I’m still sitting here.

I was wandering around on my bike today, just enjoying riding the bike again now that I’ve finally fixed the flat tire. I wasn’t able to ride it for several days, and I was walking everywhere and riding the buses and taking a taxi to work sometimes when it was necessary. So I was glad to be on the bike again and I was going around town doing random things.

I was on the Penn State campus and I decided to go to the Berkey Creamery. I only went there a very, very long time ago, and I didn’t remember anything about it.

I decided to get the ‘WPSU Coffee Break’ flavored ice cream. The ice cream itself was okay – that much I will say. It wasn’t bad.

I was about to order the ice cream, just a simple ice cream cone, nothing fancy, and the guy told me he needed to go get a new container because this one was empty. It looked to me like it wasn’t really empty, but I just thought, oh well, and let him go get a new container. It looked like there was plenty in there that he could have scraped off the sides. But that’s because, in my mind, I was picturing a normal ice cream cone. I had no idea what was about to happen.

When he came back and opened the new container, he got the scoop and started digging. He dug, and dug, and dug, and while digging, he built this agglomerated mass of multiple scoops of ice cream into one large lumpy structure that looked like it was about a whole pint of ice cream. He then picked up this entire multi-scoop structure and put it onto the teeny tiny cone. I thought it was over. But no, he went back down and started his scooping and clumping process again, and he built another ice cream structure that looked like it, too, was about a whole pint or so of ice cream.

I was watching this in denial. He could not possibly be about to build another big blob of ice cream and he could not possibly be about to put it in top of the blob that was already on there. I came this close to telling him ‘no thanks, just one scoop is fine,’ but, like I said, I was in denial. I didn’t think he was really going to do it. But no, he did. He built a huge multi-lumped blob and then squashed it down on top of the blob that was already on the cone. It seemed like the goal was to create an architectural structure that was as large as possible, to test the laws of physics, to see how tall and heavy the ice cream could get without falling over.

I took this skyscraper of ice cream and went outside. I tried to go far enough away from everybody that people wouldn’t be staring at me while I was trying to eat. Was I supposed to be *happy* about getting this much ice cream? Was this supposed to be ‘normal?’ No, it was insane. No reasonable human being can eat that much ice cream in one sitting, especially when it is sitting on a tiny, thin little cone and melting, while you soak every single napkin you brought with you, because of course you could not have known how many napkins you were going to need.

And yet I had a feeling that I was supposed to believe that this was the pinnacle of sensory indulgence, and that I was supposed to desire this above everything else on earth. I was supposed to be having an ecstatic, orgasmic ice cream eating experience. Instead, I was very annoyed, and, with each passing moment, with each messier and messier bite of ice cream, with each trickle of milk running down over my hands and onto the ground, I became angrier. I ate as much of it as I wanted, and then I dumped the remaining ice cream into the bushes next to the bench where I was sitting. I could not bear to throw it into the trash can. At least on the soil it will decompose and feed the bushes and the ants.

I watched several old ladies walking away together, each carrying their own huge cone of ice cream. One lady had a spoon and was taking a small scoop of ice cream off of another lady’s cone. Were they expecting to finish all of those? Had they come here before? Did they come here often together, on purpose, knowingly and deliberately, in order to get this huge skyscraper of ice cream that they could not possibly finish? Did they view this as normal and enjoyable?

This exemplifies the insanity of Penn State culture to me. I’ve heard so much about Berkey Creamery, about how great it is. It has this reputation. I’ve known it existed for a long time, and in my mind, there was this aura of amazingness around it. Berkey Creamery is THE place to go to get ice cream. (Actually, maybe Meyer’s Dairy is just as well known as they are.) I don’t know exactly how I got this idea in my head about how great this place was. Maybe it’s because I visited Penn State decades ago with my father whenever I was deciding what college I would go to. I think he told me that they invented chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, or something, but I have a feeling that lots of other people would claim that they had invented it. I think he and I went to Berkey Creamery when we were here then. Anyway, the idea is ‘the bigger the better.’ More is better, huge is better. They spend millions of our tax dollars to build bigger, fancier buildings. They give us enormous ice cream cones that everybody has to throw into the trash because they can’t eat the whole thing.

And everyone else seems to think that this is normal and good and okay. But to me, it is ridiculous and completely insane. I did not have the pinnacle of ice cream eating experiences. Instead I ended up feeling like I was wasteful or there was something wrong with me because I was unable to eat this whole thing.

I probably will not come back here, or if I do, I will first ask them if I can buy anything smaller than that. I thought that I was getting the default cone size, but maybe there is a way to ask for a child sized cone or something. (Or a human sized cone.)

I didn’t pay any attention to how much the ice cream cone cost. I know I got my money’s worth in terms of quantity, but I would rather have just paid less money and bought something very small instead.