23 January, 2008

Journal 006

Stone Alone

After a long period of slow progress, I've finally got back up to speed and am nearing the end of the Rolling Stones auto-biography Stone Alone, by bassist Bill Wyman. I'm anxious to finish it mostly because it's not my book, and I've had it since probably around Thanksgiving. The content is unquestionably fascinating, but it's a very tough read. The chapters are really long, and being a history as opposed to a narrative, the flow at times can be challenging. But if you're up to the task, the book provides endless insight into the early era of the band, covering their rise to prominence in the sixties, and, judging from how much is left of the book, probably right up to the death of founding member Brian Jones. That's something that just struck me when I realized it - I had originally thought that the title 'Stone Alone' referred to Bill Wyman, since it was his book. But no, Brian Jones is the Stone Alone, and this book paints a fairly detailed picture of his journey from proud leader of the band to paranoid outcast - without ignoring any of the other important angles on the band. It still amazes me how many girls those Stones had access to...

Burning Man - Travel Plans

In other news, I spent a lot of time the other day mapping out the route to Burning Man on Google Maps. Playing around with maps like that really fascinates me, although it's frustrating when Google Maps starts slowing down and taking forever to respond. I'm not saying I have the route finalized or anything, but I've got a good idea of what the journey will include. Luckily, in this age of interstate highways, driving across the country doesn't have to be terribly complicated. Turns out, I-80, which is less than an hour north of Pittsburgh, runs straightway across the country, right through Reno, Nevada, the closest major city to the desert playa where Burning Man takes place. Here's what I've worked out so far:

Chicago appears to be about an eight hour drive from Pittsburgh. That seems like a good start to me for the first day of travel. I'm not entirely certain about the logistics of stopping over in a major city, but I have to admit I'm intrigued by the idea of maybe dining at the original location of Uno's, if that's a possibility. From there, it looks to be 27 hours of driving to Reno, through Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming (where I-80 reaches its highest elevation), Utah (straight through Salt Lake City, then across the Great Salt Lake Desert), then finally into barren Nevada. I don't know that there's anything along that path particularly worth taking note of, beside the scenery in general, so I figure we can take it from city to city, stopping at a few places along the way to sleep (not counting breaks). I'm thinking 27 hours is quite probably too much to do in two days, but three days should be doable. I will undoubtedly work out more specifics later.

As for the way back, I've already mentioned the Rachel, Nevada plan (visiting, and, ideally, staying at, the Little A'Le'Inn). To get there from Reno is a good 6 hour drive. From there, the best path seems to be an alternate route that cuts across the lower part of Utah, into Colorado and through Denver, before meeting back up with I-80 just across the Nebraska border. From Rachel to Denver is about 12 hours. Maybe doable, maybe a bit long, I'm not sure. I don't know of anything important in Denver, anyway. Other than that, it's about 14/15 hours back to Chicago, and about 8 more hours from there to home. Four days should be enough, although, if we pick a slower pace, I don't see that being a huge problem, since there should be no terrible rush to get home. (Basically I'm setting my comfortability limit here at 10 hours of driving a day - that's 10 hours worth of miles, not including breaks and maybe traffic and stuff. It's hard to say for sure, since this will be the first time I've taken on a driving challenge this extensive, but I've done 8 hours in a single day before, and I'm fairly comfortable with that. Of course, in this case, it'll be multiple days in a row of long hours on the road. But that's what it's all about, isn't it? I think I'm up to the challenge, provided the car does its part...). I considered picking a different route back home to expand the experience, but at that point, after the festival, I think getting home will be looking like a good plan. At any rate, it will definitely be a pilgrimage.

Sleep Patterns

My sleeping patterns have been a little irritating lately. Just a little bit back, I was tired enough that in the small hours of the morning, I could fall asleep quite easily (and quite comfortably) for something of a nap. But even now, when the morning comes on, I have a hard time falling asleep. My body gets exhausted, and I reach a point around 8am where I can't stand sitting at the computer anymore and I have to crawl into bed. But even when I do - and it feels great - my mind is still running wild, and I have a hard time shutting it off. It's like, I can easily get my mind to rest during the night, but while my body gets exhausted when the sun rises, my mind seems to be running at full power. It's troublesome. Do you know how much I wish sleeping was as easy as flipping a switch? Imagine how much easier it would be to get a good night's sleep!

I partly wondered if my trouble had something to do with the light leaking in through the blinds on the huge window in my room. I've mostly gotten used to it, but sometimes it still bugs me a little. I also happen to have gotten into the habit of only sleeping lying on one side - facing away from the window, which is unfortunately right next to my bed anyway. The worst part is the slit at the edge of the window, along the side - that's where the most light gets in. The blinds block the light coming straight in, but it's like a solar festival along the edges! Anyhow, last night (yesterday morning, to most people in this area) I put up some blankets across the whole face of the window, just to see if the darkness would help me sleep. There's still some light that seeps through the blankets, but the room's a lot darker now than it was, and I put up a blanket over that pesky edge, blocking out the most annoying area. We'll see if it makes a decided difference after a few days trying it out.

You might ask why I didn't have the blankets up in the first place - well, the main reason is that I love windows, and it really goes against my intuition to block a window up. Even though the blinds stay closed and most of my days are at night when there's nothing to see out the window anyway. And even though my window has a terrible view. Not only is it facing north, which means the least direct sunlight (I had a room in college that got some serious direct sunlight in the evenings - so I understand what a pain direct sunlight like that can be, but honestly, I liked that situation better than getting *no* direct sunlight - certainly, in the colder months, that sunlight could really help warm up my room, don't you think?), but there's also the matter of the neighbor's big ugly brick side of their house all up in my view. To see anything but brick and other people's windows, I have to lean in close and look out to either side. It really sucks. And it has a real impact on my psychology - being disconnected like that from the outside world. Since I spend so much of my time indoors, despite having a natural affinity for nature, I've come to respect windows quite a lot, since they're my everyday connection to the outer world. I also happen to enjoy sitting in, or even just standing at, windows, just looking out, watching the world, and the weather. So the window situation frequently depresses me, but, and I think I've said this before, there are other things about this room that make it nice, so it's a matter of compromise (not to mention a lack of options - considering my fear of going out into the world and being independent).

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