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Category: travel

10/29/08 11:20 - 36ºF - ID#46417

Vegan goes to Africa in 1996

Me in Italy just before I went on the trip I am writing about. Ya, I know its obvious I am not drinking that water? Its sad because the picture in the background is our ancestral farmhouse in Italy and I accidentally rewound the film and took pictures over the old ones. Thank god for digital pics now. Too bad I didn't even bring a camera with me the whole month I traveled around Southern Europe and Northern Africa.

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Here is the letter. I am a little embarrassed about it because it shows how naive I was as a 19 year old. Its almost half a lifetime ago. If I don't publish it I will probably lose it now that the physical letter is in my hands. Feel free to skip around.

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Dear Mutti und Vatti,
Well your old most prodical son has finally written. but in actuality he has not. I have changed so much since I have been here that the oold Paul image is pretty much obsolete. I think you'll be very happy because I gave up everything whih you hate most. I have had so many magical life changing expereinces - it's just intense. First of all I have seen in Africa what it is like to be really poor. It cerrtianly makes American homesless people look lucky. The reason I spent so much money is because I gave it away. And it's not like in America where people say, oh he'll spend it on drugs or booze. There are no drugs or booze in Africa for these poor people.

I have made a difference in many peoples lives here. We met these girls Pat and Lisa from Toronto. What a coincidence huh. Anyways, Pat 35 is so I can't it explain it but I made a difference in her life. One night we all went and sat in the marketplace in Marakesh. Mind you, this is not even remotely normal for tourists. We sat there on the ground. This is were the poor go at night to tell stories, act, fight, etc for money just to live to the next day. Spectators gather around and throw money. As we sat there I was shaking as usual because I was wearing my day clothes at night and they say the desert is four seasons in one day. Anyways, a black boy who I thought was like 16 but turned out to be 19 brought me a lantern and some broken toys. At first I thought it was a joke but then I gave him a cigarette and we sat together. Soon about 200 arabs crowded around us. We went from Spectators to becoming to the show.

Soon this poor old woman came down from the mountains she was shaking hard with Palsy and had with her three small children. One was retarded. She through several letters to the poor guy next to me. He read them aloud. Her daughter was a prostitute and the 3 children were her illegitimate grandchildren. One girl was retarded. The old woman started crying. Almost immediately the poor people and spectators alike began to cry. I was totally detached as normal because I refuse to cry in public. I guess its just a personality flaw! The people gave her a lot of money and she told of how they were starving and needed to get the daughter out of jail. The poor people that had been playing and begging for money then started to give her every last coin. They were so desperate yet so giving. In the end of it all, the retarded girl stole 10DH from her grandmother. The poor man next to me beat her unforgivingly with a shoe. It was so sad that Pat left. I went with some Arab man to find a bathroom. When I came back the circle had dispersed. If we had not been there no one would have firmed that large circle and the old woman would have have had no forum to tell her story. We really made a difference.

That night when I came back from checking on Pat I brought with me a backpack full of stuff for the black kid who gave me the lantern. I brought him things that were import to me so that I could feel their lack in my life. I have him the chirstmas he never had. He had no shoes so I gave him my new adidas hemp shoes, a pair of new shorts, a jar of oh so hard to find vegan nutella and this cheezy porn magazine that Holly and I found in he train station in Italy. I had kept it to send to Amy (Arizona) as a joke but he was so poor to have a chance at marriage so Lisa said I should give it to him. In the bag I put lots of change and my "coke is it" shirt.

He was so happy. I thought he was about 16yrs old but he was 20 and he swore to it Anyways that night when we left I gave him 100DH. He flipped, gosh, to me that was only $10 but it had the buying power of $100 US in America. A load of bread here only costs 1DH.

The next day we went to dinner at Happpy Hours. He was the old guy tman who they bought rugs from and I bought a robe from. He gave me a free ashtray, braceltts, a blanket not to mention dinner, teat, fruit, etc. He was so thrilled that I was vegan and it was his son that freed to tortoises I bought. Two were tiny like baby Sahara when she was first bought and one was a bug boy one. The troitoises were so happy with all the food I bought them. They ate all day long. Pomegranite, apple, pear,grapes, tomatoes, carrot, banana, and lettuce. They were really happy.

The couscous we ate was so good and made with all kinds of vegetables. Pat ate a hot, hot , hot pepper. At first she just nibbled the front but then she ate the whole thing because she felt bad throwing it out or spitting it back out. You should have seen her face. She always feels bad about everything.

I never expect 25 year olds to apologize to me about things. Luckily, Happy Hou son asked her to help prepare the couscous at his house. The mother loved Pat. Pat ended up feeling bad and buying the mother a dress and shoes. Then the mother tattooed Pat's hands with Henna. It was a temporary dye that lasts about 2 months. I bought some of the mix because it was so neat. One day Happy Hour also had me over for soup. It was tomato, chickpea, moroccan soup. The first day I was there I spoke only German and then when Pat and Lisa came I spoke english. They, the 2 sons Mohammed and Abdul speak Dutch, English, Spanish, French, Arabic, German and some Swedish. The only words that the old man kew other than arabic were Happy Hour, goof, and mange, mange in french. I promised to send the one American sports shoes. And they promised to give me a place to stay if I came back.

Oh yeah, in Barcelona we experienced art. Not at a normal level but an the extreme. Barcelona in the most art intense city I can imagine. It has so many parks, gardens, museums tc. We did Joan Miro, Picasso, Dahli, Gaudi. Gaudi had the most unbelievable architecture on earth. Dad would have loved it. We mets some other American kids there, It was so much fun. But not so drastic or as mind boggling as Africa. Barcelona is definitely the place to go in Europe. It is liek an old Toronto. Its pretty safe, not everywhere, but close. Its is technology meets old world style. The markets are so huge and fantastic If you come you must go there. You really must go someday. You and dad would love it. Michael could stay in, out in the big ole F-burg.

Oh I guess this is the biggest news of all. I proposed to Jessica. i really lve her for sure. Everyday without her seems so empty compared to when she's with me. I am glad that I came here to find that out because now I really know. I hope she accepts. I wrote it in a letter from Italy and were still not home home yet to find out.

Actually, I just left Paris about an 1/2 hour ago. I have one word for France - Anal. Everyone here is so unfriendly, unhelpful and pretentious. Well not everybody. We met a lot of nice people in smaller southern town and in Nice but this Paris thing is just too much after the Africa experience. They re so haute, extravagant, self-absorbed and just about everything I used to be and don't want to be anymore.

Thanks for raising me the way you did. I think me and Holly were discussing this intensively - that coming from a stable family with one parent always around made me special. I am always grateful. Oh well, I can't wait for school to start. Tell Nonna to call me soon. I guess I can call here or write. I'll call grandma this week.

You know after straying as far away from Christianity as possible I think I recaptured its best aspects in Morocco. Ironic isn't it that it is an Islamic country. None of the supernatural stuff thought. Just the good old fashioned Love They Neighbor.

Vegan


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Category: work

10/29/08 10:21 - 36ºF - ID#46412

The best day ever

I programmed a very significant authentication system today on a whim and it worked. It was one of those exciting couple hours - bang - it works things. Not so usual for cross platform, cross server, cross OS solutions. Work has been more and more like that now that I can make some calls of my own and have a better overview of everything that is going on.

On an unrelated note, I am so excited about the party. I think there are going to be a lot of people. I have been inviting people like mad. You should feel free to invite any of your friends. I plan on thoroughly enjoying myself after some endless nights of programming madness.
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Category: work

10/29/08 04:11 - 36ºF - ID#46403

Surebert makes me tired

I am just going to bed now after hours of IE6 testing for the latest surebert toolkit. I hate IE6 so much, I cannot wait for IE8 so that at least the basics of the web can work similarly across browser.

At least my upgrades from the last week are finally done.
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Category: mobile

10/28/08 11:04 - 38ºF - ID#46400

Google Earth On The iPhone

I can't believe they have google earth for the iphone now. The interface is so amazing. And it has terrian, the picture links and wiki links - plus it works with the GPS. Here is the CNET review

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IN other mobile news, I just some people have gotten android running on the tilt. I never thought I would use that phoe again but I might switch back for a while with android.
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Category: animals

10/27/08 12:17 - 53ºF - ID#46357

Vegan Buys Tortoises in Africa

After getting back from a trip to morocco in 1996, I sent this letter to my parents. There was more to the letter but the star of the story was my expereince with these tortoises. I really love tortoises. I think I believed this story would end up in some animal rights zine. If only I had a blog back then. During the 90s, before the internet everything was in zines. Maybe some of you remember how crazy popular zines were. There were zines about everything and you would get them at local bookstores, at music shows, etc.

Here I am the year I wrote this. Before the happy trail turned into a happy rain forest.

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Dear Parental Guidance and their youngest child, my biological brother,

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A TORTOISE LOVING VEGAN CRUSADER
On a 90 degree humid day in marakesh, morocco, I was pacing quickly though the market as to avoid the possible "sales confrontations" that African Markets are so famous for. I began to speed up when appoaching the leather district as it is so hard to explain dead cow in a foreign language. The glance given by the corner of my eye was caught by an odd instrument upon a store wall. It resembled a tortoise but had a leather wrapper stick attached to one end and some decorations. To my surpirse it was a highly decorated toirtse carcas. Outrageous as it may seem, western tourists pirahcse them under the pretense that it is a guitar.

I contrinued to walk along in disgust until I reached an apothecary, curious as I am a someday botanist, as to which plants were utlized as medication ,narcotics, aphrpdesiacs, etc. A hardly audible scratching noise was emminating frm a box inside the store. It reminded me of the obessessive scratching rituals my tortoises particpated in when they were restricted in territory during travel. I asked the store keeper what sort of animal he felt it was proper to keep in a small box with no air aholes. He said it was only a tortoise and they are made into some sort of aphrodesiac. I asked his price for all three. After an endles series of bargainings we decided on 350 girhma, This is approximately $35 US. He was nonetheless exceptionally surprised. The tortoises were a geochelone variety but without a texonomic guide thats as far as I could go.

I was given the tortoises in a plastic bag, similar in shape and function to a walmart bag. It was absolutely useless. Immediatly I took the tortoises out and carried them in my arms, They were three different sizes. One 7 inces, one 4 and one 3. The largest was a male, as he made certainly apparent, the other two were female I believe, having relatively small, wide tales and completely flat carpaces. Part of the bargain was that I would not tell the police where I got them if questioned. I swore on my word, with my fingers crosses of course. I brought them to a man I knew was going to the mountains on wednesday. He said he would take them, to their proper habitat and was so impressed with my convinctions that he invited me to dinner of couscous and tomato soup vegan of course.

For the two days unitl he left fo the mountains, I visited his home and brought the tortoises a bounty of food. They ate extremely well for the stress they put up with. When I left morocco I knew what I had acocomplished was only a fraction of what has to be done. In northern Africa, as well as other 3rd world reptile habitats, tortoises are currently being mutilated and gutted to make isignificant trinkets of death, such as guitars, jewlery, aphrodesiacs, etc - although international, as well as, regional law and their enfrocement have made a stance they are not enought, nor will they ever be, These tortoises are not dying because the natives subsist on "tortoise parts" and in actuality, the natives are not at fault in the issue. It is another case of eco-unfriendly tourism. The ones to blame here are the western and asian tourists who bring these horrrific souvenirs of tortured death home.

Just as in the issue of fur or the veal industry, the only way to stop the madness is to inform. So this month try and tell 10 people a week about theis issue Make it simple and to the point. Then mhave them all also promise to tell 10 people a week for only month. In no time millions of ppeopl will know and you have have made a difference.

WAIT DO NOT SEND THIS I HAVE TO CORRECT IT AND ADD MORE EMOTIONAL APPEAL!

Love,
Vegan


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Category: secrets

10/26/08 11:46 - 53ºF - ID#46356

Secret Societies

One of my friends recently joined a secret society which got me thinking about the concept of secret societies altogether. Well that and watching the DaVinci code this evening and being confronted by the scumbagtologists on Main street the other day. I am so scared of the blond one. He scares me like Malachai from Children of the Corn.

To me anything that must remain a group secret and is not a matter of security is unreasonably suspect in nature. Especially when the secret is not a shared secret about some incidence experienced by all the members of the group but rather a secret which is in essence purchased from a group new members. If anything is truthworthy or morally upstanding it should be able sustain transparency and yet still survive. Secret beliefs lead to things like old boys networks and the Scientologists, or in worse forms Jones Town.

I am especially not a fan of anything where you donate money to gain stature and access to additional secret beliefs, regardless of the method of payment.

When I was debating about this with some friends they said Christian churches are like this because of tithing, etc. I actually think there are two major differences that separate the main stream christian churches and secret societies like the scientologists.

1. There are not levels of being christian in the main stream churches at least. You either believe in Jesus or not. There is no Jesus level 38 ultra super master.

2. The bible is not a secret. Its free to see and it is generally the full belief set of the religion. You don't have to pay for it by chapter and there are not secrets beliefs that you have to swear to not tell other people for fear they won't buy the book.

3. I find it hard to believe that say the episcopalians would turn anyone away for being poor. I can't say the same for the scientologists.
Paying for secrets is such an easy way to manipulate people.
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Category: stereotypes

10/26/08 06:22 - 57ºF - ID#46352

Personal Stereotypes

This is in reference to (e:metalpeter,46343)

I think stereotypes evolved from the human need for the compartmentalization of sensory input. I am not saying the power structures that be don't take advantage of their subject's stereotypes in order to "control, police, and maintain systems of power." I just don't think they are created solely as a means for that.

As an example, I have steroetypes about types of food I like and don't like, which in turn affects the food choices I make and what I am willing to try. These are based soley on personal experience and no one is forcing those on me.

Now I now a flavor stereotype is worlds apart from a social stereotype but my point i sthat personal experince can also lead to sterotype creation and that not all stereotypes are pushed on an individual from outside influences. I am not saying the media doesn't reinforce social steroetypes or play a huge role in their proliferation, I just doubt they would not exist - even in the absense of the media or power structures.

Ridiculous Abstract Example
Okay, this is so contrived but lets say I was a blue person and all of a sudden I ended up in purple person territory and I was the first blue person to ever have contact with purple people. Furthermore, lets say that everytime I see a purple person they give me a hug and some food. After a few encounters I would assume that purple people are friendly. This is a stereotype but it was not necessarily informed by the social structure at hand or by any media, rather by personal interaction.

I realize that we don't ever really exist in a vacuum, however, I am often willing to let cultural stereotypes go in favor of ones from personal experience - or at least to give personal experience a chance before believeing in stereotypes of others.

Getting Real
Let's use a real example from my personal stereotype portfolio. Poor, inner-city black people begging for money in and around Allentown and the Elmwood Village. There is defiantely a prevalent social stereotype for these people that favors avoiding them. When I first started visiting the city I was so friendly with that group - I refused to believe in the stereotype because I didn't have that experience myself. I thought all the people telling me to avoid them were stuck up. You can ask anyone I am friends with, I was a sucker for the street person sad story.

I always gave them all money and I genuinely felt bad for them. Over time, living in the city, I have learned through personal expereince that it is in my better interest to avoid contact with all of them. I have been both physically and verbally harassed and had my house robbed by them. The robber actually asked me for $.50 to get to medina to see his "pregnant girlfriend" like 10 minutes before he robbed my house two years ago. Then this year he robbed at least two of my neighbors houses. Next time that guy asks me for money on the street I am going to have a hard time not punching him in the face.

At this point when I see a poorer looking black person approaching me on Allen, I completely avoid them. This would easily expand to white people if I had a bad experience with them. One time I even pretended to only speak german, during which the guy followed me for like 4 blocks continually harassing me - eventually I just ran. So ya, some people who are truly down and out are no longer going to get my charity, but I on the other hand am upping my personal safety by avoiding that group as a whole.

Does anyone else have personal steroeotypes they would like to share?
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10/26/08 03:00 - ID#46349 pmobl

Mica bamboo lampshade


I just scored this real mica, real bamboo, real metal lamp shade for
$2.49 at the Salvation Army.

I didn't find a costume though. After years of wearing a nearly
salvation army exclusive wardrobe, I find myself totally grossed out
by the idea of trying dirty used clothes on. I think finding so much
cat hair really did it.

So I am down to Caesar with toga or Adam with a giant leaf from the
front yard sewn to some fabric. Or maybe something else, who knows.
image
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Category: germany

10/26/08 01:30 - 53ºF - ID#46346

Years Before he worked at a pharmacy

I guess i always depended on my brother (e:mike) for my pharmaceutical needs.

I wrote him this letter on 02/06/1997 when I was living in Flensburg Germany. Apparently, I have always been a whiny bitch about my health. Even in the years I thought I was the healthiest, lol. Poor (e:mike), how did you deal with me?

Mike,
I like opti-free better because it is alaso a rinse. I realize I am also out of neosporin. Thanks. The bracelet maker is somewhere in the attic but it is not in my boxes because it went up there long before I left. Like in the 9th grade. I got it when I was in middle school. When should I go to Italy? Jenny thinks perhaps the 21 feb to the 6th of march. I can stay longer. Tomorrow night is a big party and I have to woork the bar between 2-3 am and 4-5am. That is going to be impossible seeings as I don't even know how to serve drinks in engligh during the middle of the afternoon when I am not tired.

I have some sort of fungal foot infection. I really, however, don't think it is atheletees foot. When I went to the pharmacy he tried to sell me expensive spray. But it is the same thing as the spray I have from Vix. I think it is cheaper to go to the doctor. Do you go to a foot doctor or general practicioner for this? If it does not get better soon I am just going to go to the hospital. My knee is swollen now and it hurts to go up and down steps. I have the name of a doctor but I have to find his phonenumer and I can't find it in the phoenbook. This is all so tragic. I also want to go to the dentist because my teeth need to be cleaned so bad that they are rotting out of my head. I think what happend is that I jept on putting everything off till it all has to be done now Just thought you coul duse a little compaling to make this email as authentic as me being there.

VEGAN



First of all, I have no idea why I asked all of these medical questions of my brother. Especially considering he was 14 in 1997. Maybe he knew he had a pharmacy future. I think if he ever applies to pharmacy school, he should take this letter with him as proof that he has been "working in the field" since age 14, lol.

The fungal infection never killed me. In fact it was some sort of food allergy/reaction according to the doctor. It was not fungal but rather consisted of red spots on my feet and then later hands. It went away after I stopped eating pistachios. I used to eat like 10 million of them but frankly I think it was something else. It will always be a mystery because it never happend again. At least not yet.

On another note, I seriously cannot believe that I signed ever letter/email with the name VEGAN. Now I was totally commited to being vegan for about 5-6 years but I can't believe I used it as my name, or worse that it was all signed in capital letters. Thank god I never had enough money for the giant VEGAN tatoo across my back.
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Category: abortion

10/26/08 12:12 - 53ºF - ID#46342

Killing Jesus with Wine

They wern't pregnant after all so it is okay to post this now.

me:
are you preggers?

them:
im gonna take a test tomorrow to make sure
but i think not
I've had my period
and havent done it in way long
and on the pill
its the christ child!!!!!!
ok gotta go
drink wine
and kill the christ baby
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mike said to mike
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