Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Good Times, Bad Times

Image provided courtesy of the Grey Goblin Gift Shoppe

Good Times, Bad Times
By Alraune

Today, I was checking up on how my very good friend Hippiechick79 was doing over at her new blog: Life In a Lost and Found, and I got to reading her latest post on December 22, 2011 – you really should head over and check her writing out, she is very articulate and a very creative woman – where she very eloquently and succinctly explained what I think is on the minds of many like-minded people these days – peace of mind. So, I became inspired and decided that today I was going to allow some of my thoughts to flow rather than trying to write my typical encyclopedic articles. Besides, I'm chilling and listening to some Rusted Root and sipping on concord grape wine, so my mood is very lax.

This is Hippiechick79's first attempt at a blog, as she decided she wanted to give blogging a try, and I think she is going to do great if she sticks with it. She is a very talented writer, and I never had the privilege of knowing that before now, so I truly do hope she sticks with it.

So, what was it that inspired me besides the very descriptive and tantalizing account she gave of a dancing woman at a hippie festival? Optimism and outlook. She really hit home with me!

Optimism and a beautiful outlook on the future sounds about right for now, as it just brings a smile to my face and makes me want to jam a little. Nothing like a little Cassidy from the Grateful Dead, then I think I'll kick on a little John Mayer – Wheel. After all, Hippiechick79's description of good times makes me think of such things.

Sure, good times come with the bad, but isn't that just a part of life? Would it be better without both? I don't think so. I think one of the things that makes life so exciting and so worthy of the gift that it is, is that it is like a roller coaster with its ups and its downs. If life were just a series of ups, then it would probably be like a drug where it took more and more just to make one little up seem better than the last – that's not living, that's jonesing.

Life is a wheel. Everything in our lives declare the truth of that statement. The sun comes up, the sun goes down. The summer fades, the winter comes. The moon goes through her phases, and we each celebrate another year of birth every single year of our lives. You can't love one part of it too much, as all of it is ours, and it all comes back around.

That's why the love and the peace you offer others is so important. You get back what you give – the good and the bad. Does that mean that if you are a very nice person and you give lots of love you'll never suffer? No! You still have the normal ups and downs, but what you give out does come back and it compounds on what you were going to get already. Your attitude also affects the way you perceive what exactly you are getting, as we all tend to attract “like” things.

So, if you are an ass who likes to evoke conflict and pick fights, then you are going to attract and be attracted to conflicts, fights and issues in your own life. Does that mean you will never experience conflicts or fights if you are a peaceful man or woman? No! But it does mean you will not unnecessarily compound normal life issues with more conflicts and fights that you drew to yourself or created via your attitude.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am a realistic kind of guy and I'm not saying that attitude is everything – because it is not, but I am saying it is 90% of it! If you love others, you get back love. I think so anyway. As John Mayer says, “I believe that my life's going to see the love I give return to me. I believe...” Well, it's not just a belief, in my opinion, it is a fact of reality. You get back what you give, in equal parts, as energy can be neither created nor destroyed – you get precisely what you give, in the end.

Some of you might think that that just sounds like a beautiful and comforting thought, but you laugh it off. Why? Do you know what “the end” means? Do you really know that one person did more evil or good in their life and got the other? Do you know what their intentions were, as intention is part of attitude? Have you never seen a force produce an equal and opposite force? Sure you have! If an axe strikes a tree it takes a chunk out of the tree. Equal force, equal reaction. If the tree dies, then it no longer converts carbon dioxide to oxygen and participates in the nitrogen cycle to provide for your life – taking its life takes away a piece of your's. You get precisely what you gave – you take, you lose – you give, you get.

So where am I going with this? Hippiechick79 was looking to the future with the knowledge and the hope that her down period was going to be followed by an up period, and that all things come around again. That's the sort of attitude we all need to have! That's the way this wheel works, so there is no reason to be too down for too long, 'cause we'll have equal up time, in the end.

Peace. Alraune.

Nomadic Hippie: Migratory Living

Nomadic Hippie: Migratory Living
By Alraune

I intend to create a migratory plan for the future. My idea is that of three stages of migratory plans with several plans for each stage. There will be a foot or hiking migratory plan, a cycling plan, and a vehicular migratory plan. This way, I have many options and several plans to fall back upon depending on what the future holds.

The idea behind all of this is to follow the fruit seasons for food and medicine, which consequently also tend to follow the hippie festivals. Afterall, the concept here is to live free and simple and have as much fun as possible, as I believe the purpose of this life is purely to have as many positive experiences as possible in the least intrusive manner as possible.

The foot or hiking plan will likely consist of the Pennsylvania Mid State Trail, some sort of trail network that leads around Pennsylvania, the Appalachian Trail, the American Discovery Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and basically any long distance trail network that easily provides for a migratory pattern on foot. For this, as with all potential migratory patterns, I will likely require a lot of maps and research, which is right up my alley.

The cycling migratory plan is intended to serve as a secondary means of transportation and will likely follow the vehicular plan with perhaps a few discrepancies, as mountain biking is allowed on some hiking trails. In all honesty, the cycling plan is primarily intended to be a backup for any vehicle problems that went horribly wrong.

The vehicluar plan will perhaps be the most exiciting as I intend to plot several courses across the United States (and maybe also Canada and Mexico), with at least four tighter loops incase I become interested in a particular region which I like to hang out in, in which case I will have a plan for living in and migrating through that particular region on a yearly basis.

It is my hope that with these prelimenary plans I can develop some very well thought-out migratory plans which will enable me to live free, simple, and mobile, in such a way as to promote peace, happiness, independence, and a minimalistic life which is attuned to the cycles of the earth.

The three stage migratory plan is not necessary, but it gives me peace of mind in knowing that I will have so many options to fall back upon, and it will allow me to transport a bicycle and hiking equipment in the vehicle, which, if it becomes permanently disabled, will then afford me the opportunity to travel via bicycle, and then on foot if necessary or desired. Such a plan will greatly reduce the chances that I will be stranded anywhere against my will without requiring any dependence on the "system", particularly economic dependence.

It will probably take me some time to create these plans, but it is something I intend to work on a little here and there for some time throughout the near future. The great thing about this multi-stage plan is that since ideas and plans can change, it is highly adaptible, and I am not stuck following any one plan. In fact, if I decide in the future I'd prefer to stay closer to home, it would be absolutely no problem, nor would it be a problem if I decided otherwise, and most certainly it would be no problem if I decided a long-term trip was not feasible. It is pretty much a migratory plan that covers any option I might decide to take – so it works.

Flexible is good!

Peace. Alraune.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Anti-union Propaganda of Wally World

The Anti-union Propaganda of Wally World
By Alraune

I came by some information that should not surprise me, but I am a bit taken aback by it. I was speaking with an acquaintance of mine I had not seen for some time, who had just begun working at Wally World a few months ago. After the usual lecture I like to give about overseas merchandise and labor practices I proceeded into my lecture about what I feel is their anti-union stance. What this individual relayed to me was really upsetting, though I suppose I should not be surprised.

My acquaintance said that during orientation they had been subjected to all sorts of "mindless films" (their words), such as how great it is going to be to be able to buy Wally World stocks, but in particular one of those films might interest me. Naturally, I pressed this individual further on this issue as it peaked my interest.

I was told that the title of one of the films they watched was, Protect Your Signature, and that it was given as part of the new employee orientation. The film was about how horrible unions are, how great Wally World's system of doing things is, how unions “trick” individuals into signing legal documents, and what generally sounded to me a whole lot like a tool of anti-union propaganda.

I was informed that the film featured a cast which looked to deliberately represent the ethnic, racial, and economic class make-up of potential employees (in other words, the cast seemed to this acquaintance to be deliberately selected to represent such peoples), and featured them discussing how horrible unions are, how they force you to join them and pay them dues, they do not allow promotions based on individualism but on seniority, and all of the usual attacks. Of course, as I had suspected, the film did not talk about how non-union employers can fire you for any thing, usually have a higher number of safety incidents, tend to subject you to strange schedules and hours, and to work you full time hours at part time wages, which I promptly proceeded to inform my acquaintance about.

My acquaintance then told me that their store manager asked if any of the new employees had been members of a union in the past, and then proceeded to inform the employees being oriented that they (the manager) had a family member who was in a union, and so they knew a little something about unions. According to my acquaintance, this store manager then went on to say that unions do not allow employees to go up the chain of command like Wally World does and that unions do not have an "open door policy" like Wally World, which is, as I know firsthand, a bunch of bull, since I was once a member of a union myself.

Naturally, learning all of this really blew me away. I had no idea that this company was so vehemently anti-union that they would actually force their employees to watch anti-union propaganda films as a condition of employee training! Needless to say, it was an eye opening discussion that really enlightened me to the lengths various corporations will go to screw the little man. I had never heard of any such thing taking place in this day and age, but I now stand educated. It is truly sad to think of how many poor and low income people are being brainwashed into believing unions will hurt them rather than help them as they slave away for slightly more than minimum wage and are worked at or near full time hours for part time wages and benefits.

Peace. Alraune.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The First Hippie Road Trip Plan

Image provided courtesy of the Magic Gifts Store

I decided to post the very first plan I had created for my “hippie road trip”, since I still had it laying around. As you will see, it was not very hippie, not very minimalist, not exactly cheap, and nowhere near what I have in mind nowadays, but nevertheless I provide it as a means to understand the evolution I and my ideas have undergone. Besides, it may be of some use to the individuals (young and old alike) who just want to have a great experience on some hippie-type road trip that they saw in some Hollywood movie somewhere (which I think was what I original had in mind).

Now some of you might think that planning for a “hippie trip”, as I did, sounds sort of at odds with the whole concept, but I assure you not all hippies fly-by-the-seed-of-their-pants without making some sort of plans in advance. Hippie does not necessarily mean stupid, as I learned during my years of research into my planned endeavor. Besides, I also learned through life experience that those who do tend to go through life rather freely and tossed about by the waves seem to fit perfectly with those who are more prone to planning and order. They tend to compliment one another rather nicely in situations such as the one being discussed, where the less prepared and more random tend to bring fun and excitement to the life of the, shall we say, more anal retentive; and the more orderly and prepared individual tends to serve as the perfect safety net and boy scout for the former, making both of their journeys much more enjoyable and free flowing.

You may ask what sort of life experience I had which proved this point to me? The answer is five years with my now ex-fiance (hey, I didn't say it works when you try to settle down, at least not when you are still young – LOL) who was what I would refer to as "walking chaos". She was the hippie-type who had no plans ever, no real dreams besides living in the moment, and just all-around a nice woman with a carefree spirit. I, on the other hand, was more of the planner, the thinker, the plotter, the guy who was just as carefree at heart, but much much more down-to-earth and willing to stare down the road to anticipate any potential circumstances that might throw a wrench in our happy chaos. She was perfect for keeping me from spending my life charting a course I would never set out upon (a fault she has somewhat helped correct), and I just knew how to make her smile when she was certain we were stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead car battery or no gasoline, and I seemed to magically produce my hidden preparations. Yes! I would suggest that polarized, yet compatible personalities make perfect companions for adventure, but I would not suggest the same is true when it comes to settling down to a less adventurous life, at least not at those extremes (Pisces and Sagittarius).

From the paragraph above you can probably gather that I do have some experience taking several shorter trips, which would be typical of a man of my personality. Therefore, I do hope that those who have never undertaken a major road trip, particularly if they are young, will carefully consider my suggestions here as somewhat knowledgeable.

As you look over the plan you will have to keep in mind that it was originally written some years ago, when gas prices were just starting to go through the roof, however, I had researched the projected costs by the planned timing of my trip (then planned to be sometime around 2015) and the projected fuel costs, as you will note, were extremely high (and just about on track with what I had read was predicted). Although it should be noted that in doing my figuring I projected rather high for all the things on the list figuring that it was better to be more prepared than less prepared. Also, I had planned on making one huge loop around the continental United States with a few detours in between, so the projected mileage was estimated to reach around 10,000 miles with an anticipated low fuel mileage of about 12 miles per gallon (with a fully loaded van), on average, and an estimated average fuel cost of between $4-$5.

I believe, as I am no longer sure, that the original plan was to make the road trip last anywhere from 6 months to a full year, or longer, depending on what was found along the way and how long it was wished to stay in any one location, which would explain the projected food costs of close to $2000 for at least two individuals – no one wants to be alone. Two thousand dollars would be close to somewhere around $160 per month in food costs for two people, for an entire year, not counting an additional $520 which I had planned to set aside for occasional stops at a restaurant, which would have yielded one restaurant stop per month, for two people, at a little more than $17 per plate, with nearly $100 left over for any extra travel companions picked up along the way, or any less fortunate individuals who looked like they were in dire need of a meal; in other words, 5-6 meals to donate.

Next, you will note that I did not factor in the cost of the vehicle, as it was assumed the vehicle would be procured in the meantime, and it is really rather difficult to assess the cost of a vehicle, years in advance, especially given factors such as fixing it up for the trip and adding any amenities that may be able to reduce the projected costs of the trip. Equipment such as a camp stove, sleeping bags, and other such things are also not included as I already possessed those items, since I am an avid camper and backpacker and I could never imagine not having those items available to me.

Now, it is not possible to prepare for all things, unless you wish to go insane, so naturally I planned to wing it if my equipment became damaged or any theft occurred, although I did plan to take every precaution to ensure neither of those things would happen. Such situations simply cannot be anticipated, and as noted, it is not practical to prepare for ever single possibility, which is one reason why all costs had been estimated towards the high end and the trip itself was open to such a wide margin of duration, since that would allow for extra money should something very bad occur. In short, the most practical and likely reasons to require money had all been covered and their costs estimated toward the high end.

As I had stated previously, this plan was created when I first decided that I wanted to undertake such a trip, so it really is not very adherent to many principles which I would now consider “hippie”, such as a minimalist approach and a more environmentally-friendly way of travel, and it is most assuredly not concerned with keeping the costs down, as you will notice, so as not to support the system which I despise with too much vigor.

The total expenses of the trip were projected to be a whopping $17,125, which I had planned to acquire by moving in with someone, dramatically cutting my annual expenses, and dumping nearly every penny I earned the year prior to the trip into savings (which could have been done on full-time minimum wage), or by convincing my travel companion (or companions) to split the cost. I certainly would not spend an entire year raising that sort of money for such a trip now, as I am older and wiser and could turn that money into twice that in just another year, and even purchase a house or some land in some locations, but my point here is to show you how I was going to do it, not what I intend to do now after having much more time to think about it, grow, and learn. I will share those plans with you later. Again, my purpose here is to show you the evolution of my plan and my life, although I will say that if one has that sort of money they should consider doing something more productive with it such as purchasing a home or perhaps splitting it in half, cutting back their trip a bit, and feeding a few starving people in this world!

You could also just produce the vehicle, take out a few ads, and have some college kids pay for your trips around the country and the food for your belly (just a thought). There are lots of younger men and women who would love to provide gas and meals in exchange for not having to worry about driving, and who are eager to have a cool cat show them where to find the safe and hip hangouts.

But, without further delay, here is the trip plan. Look it over and see if there is anything you didn't think about, or anything I didn't think about. You will notice it is merely a financial budgeting plan and not a trip itinerary, as although I would be more than willing to offer you advice, a brother still has to make a living, so if you want the real meat you're just gonna have to offer to gas me up! Besides, the trip is whatever you make it, the planning shouldn't so much be about where you are going to go and what you are going to do along the way or even when you get there, but more about how you plan to get from point A to point B and back again safely, securely, and while having as much fun as possible.


Vehicle Costs-

Insurance with Towing ($600)
Registration ($75)
Inspection ($30)
Automotive Club ($100)
Basic Maintenance ($100)
Automotive Repairs ($300)
Motor Oil ($100)
Antifreeze ($50)
Windshield Washer Fluid ($20)
Brake Fluid ($20)
Power Steering Fluid ($10)
Transmission Fluid ($10)
Tire Replacements (4) ($250)
Battery Replacement ($75)
Washing & Cleaning ($50)
Air Fresheners ($20)

* Note (particularly for the non-mechanically inclined): vehicle fluid costs are high because long trips blow through motor oil and other fluids which you will want to check daily when traveling

Travel Costs-

Fuel ($4000) (for 10,000 miles at 12 mpg, loaded van)
Toll Charges ($200) (try to avoid)
Parking Fees ($150) (also try to avoid)
Traffic Fines ($300) (inevitable)
Campground & Camping Fees ($300) (plan for mostly free spots)
Maps ($75) (might be available through Auto Club)

Food & Water Costs-

Food ($2000) ($166 per month, 2 people, for one year)
Restaurant ($520) (1 meal a month, 2 people)
Water ($520) (grossly underestimated, anticipating lots of free fill ups)
Other Beverages ($370) (special non-alcoholic drinks)
Spices ($20) (for cooking)
Cooking Fuel ($100) (depends on stove)
Dish Cleaning ($20)
Fire Igniters ($20) (lighters, matches, fire starters, etc. for campfires)

Toiletry Costs-

Toilet Tissue ($75) ($6.25/month, should yield close to 24 cheap rolls)
Toilet Chemicals ($75) (for pre-bought camp hassock toilet, for on-the-go)
Showers ($300) (at truck stops, and obviously not everyday)
Shower Products ($50)
Hygiene Products ($50) (not figuring female specific products which can cost a decent amount more)
Cologne/Perfume ($50) (to smell nice for the police)

Clothing Costs-

Laundry Fees ($300) (about $5 a week for the laundromat)
Laundry Products ($50)
Clothing Repair & Replacement ($100) (because hippies tend to lose their clothes)
Souvenir Clothing ($100) (from that “special” concert)

Medical Costs-

Medical Fees ($100) (about two doctor's visits)
OTC Medicines ($50)
Prescription Medicines ($150)
First Aid Supplies ($50)

Communications Costs-

Phone Cards ($200) (prepaid phone, $15/month)
Postal Fees ($100) (in case you need something shipped from home)
Extra Phone Costs ($300) (in case you don't have a cheap prepaid phone)
Equipment Repairs ($100)

Entertainment Costs-

Fairs & Festivals ($120)
Concerts ($800)
Music Purchases ($100)
Pubs & Clubs ($500) (for occasionally letting loose, when in one spot for awhile)
Carry-along ($500) (drink for the campsite)
Other ($1950) (whatever your recreational preference is for the next year)**

* Entertainment is often just as expensive as our day-to-day needs. As someone who is now interested in minimalism, I might suggest that the easiest way to go minimal (if you are interested) is to learn to cut your entertainment costs while still acquiring the entertainment.

**  It's a hippie road trip...What do you want to do?

Other Costs-

Souvenirs ($100) (junk you just have to have)
Gifts ($100) (junk for others)
Donations ($100) (give a little, maybe skip the junk and give twice as much)
Firewood ($150)
Safety Net ($100) (that one unanticipated inconvenience)


As is clearly evident, my very first trip plan was outrageously expensive, though not so much if one considers the planned duration of the trip. Living off of $17,000 a year is only slightly better than federal minimum wage at a full-time job, and you get to do it on the road, having one of the greatest adventures of your life.

I would recommend that any one looking to do the hippie road trip they saw in the movies consider this plan and adapt your own plans from it (provided you are considering a similar mode of transportation). Since the plan is budgeted to last the duration of one full year, you can simply take the number of weeks you plan your particular trip to last and multiply it by approximately $350 to get a rough estimate of the costs of your trip (the higher the number of weeks, the more accurate the estimate will be), otherwise just use the list provided and factor in your own estimates, adding or removing items as you see fit. With a little effort, and some creative thinking, you and one other person could have a very exciting adventure next year around income tax refund time! Two people who already possess a vehicle worthy of the trip could most certainly make their income tax returns last an entire season, if it is something they really wish to do.

Otherwise stay tuned or read on and learn how my plans have evolved into something much more worthy of the hippie lifestyle. How are your feet working?

Peace. Alraune.