Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Retro Cocktail Hour!

Day 34 - July 7, 10:50pm
2nd Build Day. Lawrence, KS

Have felt totally great these mornings. Forgot what it feels like to not have to freshen up, gear up, and pack your entire belongings all in 30 min. I think its fair to say we all got to the build site pretty excited to take our progress even further and get back in our rhythm.

Dave was one of the older knowledgeable guys helping out and just as we arrived i made a passing comment about his shirt which led into a ten minute conversation about "Retro Cocktail Hour" which is this great 50's lounge music that Dave loves which they apparently play on this one Kansas radio station. He totally jumped on the opportunity to talk all about it and i love it when you can get that reaction in a person. I really feel that life is all about passion, both serious and silly. If you ever find someone so into something the way Dave was into Retro Cocktail Hour you better shutup and listen because that person is sharing something that is so special to them and that kind of raw, energetic passion is so beautiful and contagious.

The building went great. I realized I'm actually becoming decently knowledgeable on home repair which is so cool. That kind of autonomy and self confidence is awesome. We covered the trusses in plywood and actually gave the house the start of its roof. Walking on the roof was fun but once again sort of terrifying. The before and after pics from yesterday and today are so awesome.

Also, the house is literally right across the street from a cemetary and you can see from the yard the grave of Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, which was apparently done as a 1891 indoor winter sport for a local YMCA. Basketball is consuming at KU and the whole team visits the grave before the finals and such and the whole town takes super pride in him so it was cool to visit it. (What they won't tell you is that as KU's first ever basketball coach, he actually to this day has the worst ever loss to win ratio of all coaches since)

We had our first picnic since Connecticut tonight courtesy of the whole Habitat community and it was so intensely pleasant to eat and converse like that outdoors. Especially with some of the older gentlemen we had been working all day with. John was the awesome 91 year old who was just totally on his game the whole day and taking apart nail guns and generally being wise and supportive and grandfatherly. Mark was the supervisor and i really got to like him over these two days. He was just genuinely nice to us and it showed in the way he treated us that he appreciated our efforts. He also showed us his rumored "down in one" nailing.

Totally wierd: The first person i mingled with at the dinner was this 70 year old pastor named Phil. We got into conversation about my school and he mentioned how since he went to Seminary in Boston he had once taken a few classes at the Harvard Divinity School. So far so normal. But not when I mentioned how i had also taken a class there last year WITH THE SAME PROFESSOR THAT HE HAD! Harvey Cox must be 80 yrs old now and is kind of a big deal in religious studies and actually taught both of us 50 years apart. I still remember how much I enjoyed his class and his teaching enthusiasm. Phil must have been among his first sets of students. Crazy!!!!

This stay in Lawrence was a much needed rest for us. Super Huge Mega Ultra thanks to Lori from the Habitat here for putting everything together so well and for just being plain cool and energetic and laughing at my jokes. It wouldn't have been the same without her watching out for us so much. You rock Lori!

Heading into the second half of the trip I'm in a great place. I just feel very centered and ready to absorb everything fully, and not flustered and disoriented as in the first few weeks. I'm back in the bubble, not really thinking about the real world and its truly bliss. I really feel that the ability to totally let go like that, even for days or hours at a time is so healthy for us. How many vacations or breaks are spent thinking about what has to happen upon return. Hopefully not too many. I guess it goes more generally into my whole theme of being present in the moment. It definitely takes practice and willpower, but consciously forcing ourselves to relax and live in carefree bliss for moments at a time is something i think we all owe ourselves sometimes.

I'm really looking forward to the change in scenery we're about to undergo in only 9 days. It's wild how we're going from rolling foresty hills to flat, farmland plains, to soaring snowy mountains, to burning deserts all in the same trip and I love it. America is really wild geographically when you think about it. Can't wait for the desert. Go Nature!

Go JayHawks!

Day 33 - July 6
Build Day. Lawrence, KS

Hotels rock. so does 7 hours of sleep. It was just so nice to have a sense of stability waking up this morning, as in being in a normal place where people usually wake up rather than a church basement. The continental breakfast was not exactly designed for 32 starving riders but they had real belgian waffles. Oh and processed eggs and sausage, YES.

I biked over to the build site with some others. Its so wierd to get on my bike for anything less than 70 miles, let alone an enjoyable stroll. The site had all of the wall framing done and kept us busy all day putting up the roof tresses and siding. It was crazy hot and sunny and I tried to hold out, but eventually had to do the unthinkable. Yes, I donned a visor. They're actually extremely functional and it kinda grew on me. Now if only it also looked good.

By the end of the day we had all of the tresses up and the house was really taking shape. I got to do some work up on the roof which was really fun and new. What wasn't fun was the fear of heights i think i developed from standing on 4 inch wide beams. It didn't help that this older dude Zach was zooming by on them like nothing and was literally walking circles around me. The family also was there and it was just a great sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Afterwards Larry and I rode up along the town's main st and gave it a thorough checking out. it started out at "The Vagabond Bookstore" which was this crazy used bookstore stacked to the roof with all kinds of crazy old books. It was interesting talking to Howard, the Vagabond Bookman himself. He had gone bust farming in the 80s and kinda started buying books dirt cheap at flea markets, and reselling them out of his truck. It turned out pretty well for him and he soon had so many books that he had to open up shop. He also apparently sells bicycles that he keeps in the aisles. Interesting store to say the least. Picked up a sweet book from the philosophy section called "A commonplace book". Its a collection of different literary and philosophical quotes and this guy Charles P Curtis' pithy commentaries on them. Figure i could read one of the 109 sections a day. The guy was a Harvard Sociology Professor(my school and major) so that was also cool.

There were so many other locally owned gems in this town. A self identified hippie store with the largest collection of 1968 pennies in the world (around 14,000). The pennies are actually part of a compelling story of a guy who was upset one day, found a penny from 1968 on the ground and started collecting from there. (Check out www.1968pennies.com)

There was also this really cool t shirt printing shop called Acme, where you could design your own shirt and have them print it. They also had a whole wall chock full of hilarious designs. I walked in and almost bugged out. T-shirts are by far the one object in this world i have the least resistance to when shopping. I could literally spend my life doing something like that store. It was pretty inspiring actually in that sense.

We had dinner graciously donated by one of the KU ministries and it was fantastic. It was Mexican themed and all i will describe is the 60 avocados worth of guacamole that made my heart leap. I could've taken a bath in that tub it was so large. I basically ended up having a meal of guacamole with a side of rice, beans, tortilla and salsa. They also passed around a basket to the community members there for donations and we had a whopping $300+ in donations. Thank you to everyone there! I had the pleasure of sitting with Jim there and we had great conversation, some of which included him telling me about Red Dog, this 73 year old dude who leads 6am workouts 4 days a week in Lawrence with regular attendance of 200+. By the way this has been going on for 20 or so years and the guy is currently fighting cancer but still going. Wish i could have met him but my prayers are with him. Community was definitely a big theme i took away from that church and from Lawrence in general. You can definitely feel it everywhere, and its too bad that its not more often the case. Jayhawk pride was also something not too be even joked about for fear of being tarred and feathered.

We later walked around the KU campus which was really pretty. Kate had all 32 of our nametags stuck on her shirt which was amusing. There was this giant wood cylindrical sculputure made out of branches there rising to 25 feet which you had to see to understand. Standing inside was really cool. Also full moon = great.

We had more ice cream later(Blackberry!) which is quickly turning into a theme of the trip. I feel wierd doing it almost every day on this trip since i usually save it for special occasions. But honestly when you're riding 70+ miles daily, its hard to not to be like "Hey i totally deserve this" every single day. Kind of makes you rethink what is a "special occassion" on a trip like this and how relative life quickly becomes.

More building tomorrow, lets finish that roof!


Day 32 - July 5,
87 miles. Richmond, MO to Lawrence, KS

Everyone has been looking forward to Lawrence for a while. I mean when you're doing three 90 mile days in a row you better have something to keep you going. It didn't help that since i had done the town facts research for Lawrence I jumped up on a chair in the morning to eagerly announce my findings. Seriously listen to this town and how it oozes hipness:

"Lawrence is known for a thriving music and art scene; Rolling Stone named Lawrence one of the "best lil' college towns" in the country. The New York Times said Lawrence had "the most vital music scene between Chicago and Denver". Locally owned bar and music venue "The Replay Lounge" was named one of GQ magazines top 25 bars/venues in the country in 2007. The Lounge is also apparently a Pinball SHRINE!"

I rode with Carlie all day today and it was most fun. She is quite possibly the most chipper and enthusiastic girl I have ever met. Her happiness and positive energy is so contagious in the best way. I think most of us have been falling into the rhythm of riding entire days with the same group of people and it seems to be a much more fulfilling sense of accomplishment and bonding this way and i think i like it more than switching it up at lunch. The best part is that we all start off more or less together and sort of just randomly settle in with whomever which is nice.

The first 5 miles of the day were marked by this bizarre mound of dirt rising above the ground that Doug, Carlos and I stopped at. Of course, its climbability was like a magnet to our testosterone. Did we get ridiculously muddy? Yes. Did we conquer victoriously and claim eternal glory? Oh yeah.

Among our many musings, we somehow stumbled onto the concept of water balloon bike warfare. Again, 90 miles daily = craving for on the road entertainment. But seriously, water balloons on bikes, who would be silly and crazy enough to do that...

Well within 30 minutes we had secured 100 of them from the dollar general store and I created Handlebar satchels out of bandanas while Carlie filled them up. At 1300 hours primary bombardment of the lunch spot commenced, but collateral damage was minimal due to firing malfunctions(so maybe a few exploded in my hand...). All was good as we restocked atfter lunch to show other riders how we had been keeping busy. All in all, it was safe to say that victory had been firmly achieved at day's end and our waterballooning forcers biked on with triumph. Victory of what or over whom i dont know yet, but victory nonetheless. Just like my acquiring red velvet, I absolutely love when random amusing thoughts can turn into reality through sheer willpower. Kinda makes you wonder what else is possible next time you have a fun idea.

First of all, Kansas is not all flat. Lets get that straight. Coming into it over the Missouri river was pretty exciting as Kansas is literally the middle of the country and it really makes our "cross country" trip feel that much more real. Odd how there are two towns called Kansas City right across the river from each other. Also, apparently the Kansas City Royals baseball team is actually from Missouri. So crazy!!!

Along the rolling hills going through a populated boulevard, I heard a sedan honking at me. Great I thought, someone wants to either yell at me or run me off the road, AGAIN. As they approached i noticed three pretty tough looking gangster dudes in the car and was less than excited when they started slowing up next to me. And then my world got rocked. I looked over, they looked over, and they all flashed a peace sign and were like "Hey man" and then drove off.

An actual car full of non-cyclists had slowed down just to say hi to me. I think you can figure out who felt pretty damn cool right there and then. Awesome, i think yes. In general, I have rarely felt more like a celebrity than when i am riding with that spandex and jersey on. Waving to people we pass and getting hellos back is kind of intoxicating. Everyone needs to feel a little cool now and then i guess, right?

Going into the last 20 miles of the day, the impossible happened. Yes, we finally had a slight tailwind. We all agree that it was pretty much the best riding of the whole trip. We were all doing 20 mph without much effort and the rolling scenery and fields were just gorgeous.

If hip and cool had a baby city, that city would be called Lawrence. Its a wonderful college town that has a great main street, zero sprawl, local business, young folks, and TONS OF BIKERS. Honestly though does being a hipster really mean you have to look like your in a 70's workout video. Lawrence is to Hipsters what light is to mosquitos. Seriously, these dudes make Brooklynites look boring and mainstream. It's all good though and totally cool, just not what i expected so deep and random in the country. In honor of it, Larry will henceforth be referred to as Lawrence for the next two days per his request.

The Habitat Chapter here is basically the greatest ever. They've arranged six rooms for us at a riverfront Marriot Hotel. Room Service? Continental Breakfast? Jacuzzi? Not sleeping on the floor? We might as well be bathing in lavender scented silk ribbons also.

We had a great dinner at Johnny's Tavern, legit THE place in Lawrence, and the pizza and corn was awesome. Finally getting to eat some of the latter after riding through a million miles in it was pretty good. But even better was the fact that the TV was playing the tour De France. Aside from bowls of guacamole i have never ever been so fixated on something. We were all just totally mesmerized by all the crazy cyclists and speeds. They were legit averaging 40 mph which just shouldn't make sense. I so wish we could watch more of it on the trip. Its crazy how much more you appreciate somehting after having done it. It totally showed my skyrocketing level of appreciation for cycling and the mentally unstable athletes who actually choose to participate in it. Watching the Tour def pumped us up for more cycling. It may also may have given me a reality check for understanding our own level of 15 mph hardcoreness.

At night we checked out the Replay Lounge and by checked out I actually mean pillaged. It was pretty cool and hip. Lets just say Doug's mohawk wasn't the only one there. Though I doubt their dance floor has ever been rocked as hard as by the 32 of us. Some locals joined in but most couldn't get past their amazement of our grooving. Sometimes I can't help but laughing inside at the first glimpses of confusion whenever we roll into a new town.

Lawrence is a great cozy town to be in for 2 days and we're so excited to spend two days here. It'll be great to really affect our build site and to get to know the town. Def looking forward to raiding the funky book and clothing stores. Hopefully no womans sweaters will tempt me this time...

Happy Birthday America!

Day 31 - July 4, 9:05 pm
92 miles. Moberly, MO to Richmond, MO

Happy 4th of July!

The only thing i like more than a sunny day is having it be rainy in the morning and then turn to sun from there. The latter happened today. Lets face it, preparing for the worst and then having a pleasant experience instead is pretty sweet.

What isn't so sweet is helping out Colin Hood clean up trash only to realize its an assassin trap in disguise. Enough said, but a kill well earned on his part. Nothing like a healthy dose of deception and cunning to build character. Worked for Sparta right?

Other than passing by the world's largest pecan(?) (it was metal, boo) today not too much has really been going on these few days. Its mostly just riding which is a little of a downer because its the really random silly things like running through corn that totally make my entire week and keep me going. There were tons of cool trains passing by today though. Corn was still here but no so much. It seems the Pecans have been guarding their turf well.

One thing that did suck was a car throwing a small firecracker at us as it drove by. I saw this weird smoky thing in front of us only to have it explode and scare the hell out of us. Its kinda funny but mostly retarded. Honestly, I never ever thought i would be the type to get roadrage, and I still won't, but I legit wanted to throw a rock at this car if i could have and it scares me to say that. But it was such a messed up thing to do and could've actually caused an injury. Humans are probably as stupid as we are smart sometimes.

The riding itself was unbelievably quick today. Lunch at 40 miles came in only 3.5 hours, and felt like a snap. Though there were some hills and headwind we were just pushing along. I don't know if its my body or my mental attitude adjusting but I was just really not feeling the effects of the mileage at all which is great. I was thinking more generally today of what ridiculous riders we've become and reminiscing on the first week where i literally thought my body might explode at any second from all of the crazy adjustments. I'm totally feeling the groove physically and mentally now which is awesome and is the kind of character building i was hoping for. Even the initial rain didn't upset me that much!

Had a great conversation with Miranda about African drumming today since she has also done it in college. Major bonding ensued and we could hardly get over how much we both love it to death.

I'm on trailer crew this week and we get to fill up the trailer every morning with all 32 bags. It's honestly like real life tetris and kind of fun. Though having real live 8-bit Russian medley's probably wouldn't hurt either. Actually, wait, hold on, i just found a great tetris dance remix on my computer. Guess who's gonna jam tomorrow morning...!

Dinner was real fun today as i realized I am becoming decently knowledgeable on the different Protestant denominations. But mostly it was because i had a sweet conversation with this short little sweet lady named Joe Ann of the DAR. No she is not a member of the Duly Arranged Reptiles, but rather the Daughters of the American Revolution. What that means is that she can actually trace her lineage all the way back to an ancestor who fought in the Revolutionary War. I don't know about you but that kinda blows my mind, especially coming from Queens, basically the Immigrant capital of the world. I knew almost nothing about them before and it was a great pleasure hearing her talk about the organization and her involvement.

Crazy cool randomness: super small door in the church next to a large one. Good thing it didn't throw us onto the Jersey Turnpike or into anyone's consciousness.

Now ass for the fireworks you've obviously only read this far for. Essentially, imagine cleaning your bike in a mortar field. No joke, there have been explosions left and right continuously since 6pm. Our neighbors might as well be trying to burn our church down. It got really sweet at 9 since we are on the top of a hill and can see the entire town's backyard fireworks. It was actually a full 180 degrees of sulphurous stimulation. We couldn't even decide which ones to focus on but we could all agree that Missouri rocks. Hopefully not too many children had their arms blown off today.

Finally we sat to watch the spectacular fireworks presentation a few of us has had actually spent two hours preparing. We couldn't decide whether it was the fireworks themselves or the military like precision with which the members were running around with torches yelling codenames like "Pink Elephant" and "Mortar Up" that was more awesome.

I even got to set off one of our 600 bottlerockets. It was my first firework ever since they're illegal in NY state and also since I'm terrified to death of handling them up close. However, the ensuing power rush more than made up for all of that.

Got really thinking today about the whole America thing. People were decked out in all sorts of red, white, and blue paraphernalia. I've never really identified super strongly with America and have always been kind of in an interesting place with my Greek Heritage being so strong and living in NYC which is a universe of its own. I feel that nationalism and localism in general are pretty silly but I think they are still essential to one's sense of self to an extent. This trip has really been interesting in terms of helping me appreciate the American side of my Greek-Americanness. Wish i had more fully developed thougths but i suppose just the fact that im even thinking about this stuff is good enough. There'll always be time for answers i guess.

Overall, solid day ridingwise. I'm excited to be feeling so confident on the road and with my (hopefully real and not just supposed) mental and physical toughness. Also, I've been doing a lot of practice lately with hands free riding and am making great progress. Definitely a fun goal to work towards on the way to San Fran. Not much else to do on flat 5 mile stretches.

Well actually, the other things i did do today was 1. calculate the fact that we'll have each pedaled roughly 2.2 million times by the end of the trip give or take 200,000 or so. Seriously, i tried keeping count for a while and that's just a big number.

2. My other thought was of why can't roads be different colors besides beige and black. Seriously how much more fun would they be! Think about it, you could color code different directions of traffic which means its at least arguably functional. And intersections would have cool blending effects making them pretty which is probably even more important. You could even have like a hometown's sports teams colors. Hopefully at least like 4 people take this idea somewhat seriously.

Off to bed in what is basically trench warfare between competing fireworks camps. Apparently more fireworks = more Americanism?

Noodlers Anonymous

Day 30! - July 3rd, 6:16pm
80 miles. Hannibal, MO to Moberly, MO

On the road i was wondering if they could've named more things after Mark Twain if they tried. We were still seeing things up to 50 miles out. There was definitely less corn today and more rolling hills as a result. Nothing too crazy but good enough for a solid workout. Got to use my special blue bowl at lunch and it worked like a charm. Watch out food.

Today at 6am was the official start of Bike and Build Assassins and the bloodbath has already reached epic proportions. No friendship or rider is safe. Lets just say I've never been less comfortable peeing by myself. And lets also just say that Assassins really lets you see who takes things to extremes. Rules are you have to kill someone by squirting with a water gun or bottle and there can't be any witnesses. Safe zones are on your bike and in your sleeping bag. Casualties are accruing left and right but good news is they don't include me yet. And moreover, guess who got his first ever kill in assassins today! It was a pretty textbook "sit down at table for pretend conversation with the person opposite you while really sneaking a squirt underneath" I'm honestly content with finally having at least killed one person and wouldn't mind dying that much now. But my next target still better watch out...

Not that much really going on today honestly. Had a great time riding with Lara and Larry and kept a great pace all the way through. Now we've seen our share of wierd things on the road, but today's Adopt-a-Highway sign we saw was legit like "what the hell is going on". Perhaps you've heard of "Noodler's Anonymous" but i def haven't. Since we were at such a loss, all Lara and I could do was attempt our best anonymous noodling.

Just found out that Noah got $150 worth of fireworks donated for tomorrow! It'll be great. Especially since our town tomorrow doesn't actually celebrate July 4th until July 10th. Yes, you read correctly.

Still waiting for dinner and its my earliest journal ever! Hoping to totally overdose on sleep tonight. We're staying at this crazy large Christian Cafe/Lounge called Cafe 41/ The Destiny Center. It's stocked with comfy couches, tons of table games, and yes Rock Band. Boy, talk about roughing it...

Today is actually a full month since we all met on June 3 and we're basically nearing our halfway point. To be honest if the trip ended now I'd be totally satisfied with everything and the way i see it, every extra day out of this is really just a bonus that i'm gonna try and enjoy and immerse myself in as much as possible. I think in California this'll be one of those experiences that'll I'll be slightly sad but definitely ready to leave and i think that's a great place to be in general with big journeys like this.

Fireworks tomorrow! Can't wait to celebrate the formation of a country based on ideals of liberty and freedom by blowing stuff up.

EDIT: Just discovered that the cafe actually has an entire concert stage set up with instruments and lights and everything. Dennis is apparently a crazy drummer and broke it down with Ryan Farr on the keyboard as we all got up to spit some rhymes on that house. Colin Hood legit improvised an entire biking rock ballad. Nothing like a bike and build rock concert and mosh pit to settle us down for bed.

Good Evening, Clarise

Day 29 - July 2nd, 9:57pm
55 miles. Pittsfield, IL to Hannibal, MO

The church put out an awesome breakfast spread today that i still can't get over. It makes such a difference. One of the members, Jerry also showed a few of us some great magic tricks involving a chain that I wan't to make sure I memorize since I don't know any and they always come in handy.

Today we hit a serious milestone that i think we're all really proud of. It was not our 786th group picture but rather crossing the mighty Mississippi River into Missouri. It came around mile 19 and we headed down to the shore to chill out for a good 45 minutes and take it all in. We all dipped our feet in it and some went so far as to follow the "tradition" (?) of washing your face in it. It felt so cool to be physically and literally immersed in such a significant site of American History and identity. It's even funner since its not some like cool waterfall or crazy architectural wonder or something but rather just some lazy river that is so damn important. You can't help but think how those first settlers were happily mozying along on their way west when they saw this thing and we're probably like "Aww man, how we gonna cross this!".

Also, Missouri, the "show me" state. Seriously, could you think of a more innuendoish motto. We decided to give our own inerpretation.

It got me thinking a lot about world monuments in general and how to balance the awe and wonder of the history behind it with the fact that if you stare hard enough its really just another building or body of water, etc. Essentially I'm concerned with the slight anticlimax involved in such wonders. Rob interestingly pointed out that the real wonder and joy is in the journey getting there, especially on such a trip as ours. This resonated with me and my desire to live life by being present. Either way that river definitely is mighty and it was one of my favorite stops yet.

There were tracks that ran right along it and just as we were leaving this great locomotive started passing carrying at least 1 mile's worth of cars full of coal. It was pure insanity how much that engine was hauling. Several of us had to fight our urges to grab onto the ladders and follow the train down south, though that doesn't mean we didn't pretend to do so as we ran along it.

Right before lunch, I had a pretty liberating experience that I won't forget for a while and which I'll keep to myself. Oh public journals...

The weather and terrain were pretty similar though it was much hotter today and we saw our share of rolling hills. I was actually thinking today that I'm really excited for the rockies not only for the natural beauty but mostly for the fact that we're gonna show just how badass we are as we climb those impossible ascents. Well today Missouri apparently caught wind of this and just so happened to throw a few "mini-mountains", as we called them, our way. As we were descending one hill we could see this other monster ascent directly in front of us. It was literally gruesome. Some expletives definitely came out while still descending towards it along with like "Seriously!?". These guys just came all up in our business, no introduction or nothing. Flat, Flat, rolling, flat, HEY LOOK MOUNTAIN!. Needless to say we beasted them, but there was definitely much commiserating at dinner.

Right at the end of the day we came across the "world famous" Mark Twain Caves. They were kind enough to give us a group discount on the guided tour. These are apparently the caves where Mark Twain would go exploring and where he based many of the scenes from Tom Sawyer on. Hannibal, the town we're in, was in fact his boyhood home. Even without the history, the caves themselves were so cool. Like really, who would think rocks could be so fun. Just winding path after winding path. At one point we were even directly under the Mississippi River!. And Jesse James used to hide out there! It was also freezing in there at like 50 degrees. The tour was pretty informative, anecdotal, and of course filled with horrible puns but overall enjoyable. They apparently also had this Mark Twain impersonator who does shows everyday which i find just hilarious.

At showers today at the YMCA i used the hot tub shamelessly. The lady who saw me get in and moan with delight had nothing but shock on her face. Apparently she thought it was too hot, to which I instinctively responded "Not enough". It felt so great in there, muscles and all, definitely doing it every chance i get.

The Baptist church here put out a wonderful dinner including my first cheesecake on this trip. Afterwards we did more affordable housing presentations. Everyone had done lots of research but the delivery was just painful at times. It just drives me mad when people who are delivering a presentation read to you rather than talk to you. My intent is not to critique individual people but this is just a subject which actually gets me sorta angry in general. I feel that so often powerpoints are assumed to be boring slides with text so why bother doing anything else. I don't get why it still doesn't click with people that block paragraphs of text on screens don't help anyone and kill interest like we do the environment. Why can't we actually have some sort of public school structure for instructing young, impressionable children in effective presentation skills, both communication-wise and technology-wise. I mean seriously, most of the world's successful people are great presenters and why shouldn't cultivating this ability among our children should be a priority. Presenting well has so many other positive effects on one's self confidence, ability to communicate and interact with others, etc.

Ugh, wow haven't gotten riled up like that in a while. Basically i understand that we all had time pressures for these and such but I was so underwhelmed at some points by the delivery that i could'nt help thinking of this. Again, I really think this is a much larger and systemic problem within society and the way we prioritize education, not me directing anger at individuals who i love hanging around with on this trip. I could talk forever about this, but even I get tired of myself sometimes.

Paige has organized a game of Assassins for our trip and its starting tomorrow. I have a very harrowed history with this game both in high school and in college. Basically every time it comes around i get super pumped and plan out all sorts of deceit and strategy only to lose literally within the first hours to the most miserable random luck for my killer. The game is super fun to bring a group together but also legit stressful. I actually can't deal with that kind of heartbreak again so I'm hoping that maybe my blase attitude while have the opposite effect and make things somehow go my way. That being said, I can never quite control the inner ninja in me...

I am hapilly and officially lowering my elbow and crash wounds to minor status. I've stopped wrapping my elbow daily and they're all on track to heal just fine and scar beautifully. Also I'm hoping to include a picture soon of a tan line update. Mine aren't the most extreme by far but I think you guys might def be somewhat proud at the very least.

Also, mail came today! Thank you Becky! and Sylvia! Go mom and dad also for sending my sweet blue silicone squishy camping bowl that you can turn inside out and lick clean. Possibly top 17 best inventions ever. I can't wait to use it and eat something besides peanut butter for lunch.

Really great past two days. Just what i needed and was hoping for after that bad sweep experience. Looking forward to more bike and build fun. Finally a 6am wakeup! We get to sleep in!