•19 September 2018 • Leave a Comment

Thru-hiking has offered me a really interesting perspective on my relationship to material goods.

When hiking, I need only what’s in my backpack. (Definitionally. If I need something that I don’t have, then – well – enjoy recovering my body from the mountaintop.)

I rather thought that, at home, I would explode into greater needs. But I’m finding that this isn’t quite so.

-Part of this derives from redundancy. A lot of my hiking gear is just as useful off-trail as on. Good hikin’ shoes are good runnin’ shoes are good everyday casual shoes. Now that I’ve worn merino, I will keep wearing it – I will never, ever, go back to cotton.

-Part of this derives from necessity. I have none. I have no life. That’s fair – I’m about to go hike for another 4-8 months, so, life-having is not a present expectation. But this only goes so far. I’m 31 years old, I have a fair idea of what is needed in my life – and what is needed in Business Casual / Upper Middle Class life across-the-board. And, well, I basically have it. Could step into Life at a moment’s notice.

-But a large part of it is a result of a change of attitude. During the brief time that I’ve been – well – indoors, I find that I’ve brought a certain minimalism back from the Trail. Basically I’ve realized that I would not only be just as happy to own less stuff, I would in fact be happier.

I’ve spent the last few weeks rather aggressively triaging my belongings. I thought I might take a moment to list what I’ve kept. In part as a little day-in-the-life time capsule. In part to remind myself that I have a lot as it is!

-KITCHEN. Chef’s knife (Miyabi birchwood). Rice-cooker (Betty Kawaii). KitchenAid. Blender. Immersion blender. Sous Vide wand. Pasta maker. Cast iron: dutch oven, skillet, broiler pan. Teflon: omelette pan, baking sheets. Silicon: steamer basket, strainer, hand-tools. Wood: cutting board, chopsticks.

-CAFFEINE. Manual coffee grinder. Goose-neck kettle. Pourover cone. Aeropress. Teapot. Infusion basket. Half a dozen mugs – but down from a dozen.

-OFFICE. Desktop computer. Laptop computer (chromebook). Headphones. LED lamp that’s as bright as a major solar event. Might get a projector for watchin’ movies.

-BATHROOM. Electric razor. DE razor. Shaving brush. A dopp kit containing too much product – but I ain’t complainin’.

-CLOTHING. Two long-sleeve dress shirts (white, blue). Three long-sleeve buttondowns (black cotton, light gray linen, dark gray denim). Three short-sleeve button-downs (light gray, light brown, dark brown). Two heavy flannels. Three pairs of chinos (light khaki, mid khaki, dark khaki). Two pairs of raw denim jeans (preposterously light, preposterously heavy). Two polos (merino). Two overcoats (black cashmere, camel trench). Five sweaters (black, dark gray, mid gray, light gray; green donegal that’s my favorite thing ever).

-SUITS. A navy three-piece. I’d like to have several more. But then, I’d like to have the sort of life that requires me to suit up. Or even allows it. I don’t have that. Until I do, it does no good to pretend otherwise. Dream of the life, not of the life-adjuncts!

-ACCESSORIES. A few belts. Suspenders. Collar stays. Cufflinks, tux studs, just in case. Couple of scarves. Small box of Darn Toughs. Fifty neckties… but that’s down from 100, I think that earns me partial credit?

-SHOES. Black dress oxfords. Tan dress boots. Trail runners. Mid-weight hiking boots. Blue suede boat shoes. Might dream of a pair of workboots – Truman’s in Moss Mohawk, anyone?

-WATCHES. White metal, white dial, dress. Stainless, black dial, luxury sport. Yellow metal, white dial, luxury sport. Stainless, black dial, diver, daily. Can still daydream, but basically I’m good.

-MAKER STUFF. A Dremel and press. A Singer and walking-foot. A tool-chest full of crap. A real hell of a Bugout Bag.

-A CAR. And A BIKE. And. Enough hiking gear that I could pass as a Seattle techie.

I may not have a life – but at a moment’s notice, I am ready for one.


Some Thanks

•16 September 2018 • Leave a Comment

I just hit Katahdin and I have some thanks to give.

The Appalachian Trail is a thousand things but first and last it’s the people. The people you meet, the people you talk to, the people you can look at and know “we’re all in this together” and that’s really the best feeling in the world. So to all of you who got me from Georgia to Maine, I want to say: thank you.

Thank you Pigpen and Pollen Moon, Squire and Stretch and Remix, Defib (and the whole Walhalla crew!), Spoons, NoName, Detail & Maverick, the Family – the Crawfords – Ben Kami Dove Eden Seven Memory Filea and Rainier – I miss you guys, Shitsicle, Mongrel, Robin & Buck, Ghost, Sail, Postcard, Fritz Lang (du Legende), Momma Kish & Not Dead, Pit Boss & Play-by-Play ya dingus, Peanut & Floater, Smalls Too and Database, Granite Man, River, Cotton and Lodi, Sunshine and Kylo (its private property!), Grits you crazy lunatic, Darwin HOO HAA HAA, the Bounders, Bookie, Bluegrass, Ringer, Foxtrot #doublecrown, Scars, Honeybear, Inside Out, Professor & Moose you total nutjobs, Pretzel at Neel’s Gap, Kuya at Bear’s Den, GIBBIE!, Service, Helen of Troy, Nurse, the fourth sobo whose name I can’t remember ><, Ramblin’ Man, Greengrass, Ishmael and her boy, Red Hawk & Cribbage, Hopalong, First Aid, Old Man & Cowboy you armadillo-painting lunatics, Bilbo, Bob Dylan, Morotcycle Mama, Lumberjill, Hedwig, Brand New, Beast, Spoons’ parents, One Tee and Raindance, Armor, Tall Boy, Crazy Tree in all his glory, Hops, Soldier Mike, Cave Beaver, Energizer, the man the legend SHARKEY, Flint & Steel, Legs and the other Legs, that dude in the bunny ears, Captain Caveman, the great Sparkplug, Canuck, Woodchuck, Beaker & First Sergeant, my summit buddies Lauren Nat Leland and Troutwater, Pappy you mad lad, JP and all the croo in the Whites, the friggin’ ghost hunter and all the other hostelers along the way, all the trail angels (Pig & Pollen & HENRY), the army preacher and everyone else who stopped to give a stinky forestjew a hitch to town, all the ridge runners and the trail crews and volunteers – THANK YOU, all the ultra runners who blew past me, all the section hikers who gave me a piece of fruit or a can of beer, yes even the god damn day hikers, and I’m still missing DOZENS, and the people off-Trail: the Kousiaes (Kle, Limey, Chubbins, DonDon, who knew you all had trail names?), Mark Hagen, Daniel, Alicia, Glynnis, Lauren Kate, my chatroom of sad Maine Law cockbags, Andy’s dogs, IZZIE!, Glenn & Alys and Dana & Rob, hell yeah Jeremy, THANK YOU MOM!!!, everyone I’m forgetting who got me from Georgia to Maine, and Joe Dodge, and Jensen Bissell, and Grandma Gatewood, and Benton motherfucking McKaye.

And to the Class of 2019 and beyond: do it. It’s wonderful. It’s the life of kings. It’s America. And most of all: hey, the Trail won’t hike itself. So hike your own hike, keep on choochin’, and have some tmaj for me.


AT class of 2018

…dolla dolla billz yall

Handmade’s Tale

•29 July 2018 • Leave a Comment

At what point does something become handmade?

It’s easiest to show by example. Take a, I don’t know, candlestick. These can be made by computer-controlled lathes; all a human has to do is program ’em and feed ’em bits of tree, and voila, candlestick. Not exactly handmade.

If a human actually steps up to a lathe and turns the candlestick, is it then handmade? Or is that just a human operating a machine – “this car climbed Mount Washington” compared to doing it with your own two feet?

In that case, would a person have to hand-carve the thing using nothing but chisel and file for it to qualify as handmade?

And what of the ancillary matters of material and design? Would the person have to design the candlestick, or could they use a pattern? Can they buy the wood in the store, or do they have to cut down the tree too? If they chop the lumber, do they need to make the axe? What if they used a lathe, but built the lathe themselves?

If these might make a thing more handmade, doesn’t it follow that their absence makes a thing less?

I think that more and less betrays the fact that handmade-ness is not binary. It is a range.

Take a garment – a dress, a suit. On the one hand: you buy material; download a pattern; run it through your Singer. It’s a step up from buying the thing off the rack at Uniqlo – but just a step. On the other hand, you could make your outfit out of nothing but a pair of sheep staring up at you. It would involve numerous intermediary steps. It would force you to master – or at least, muster – a legion of techniques. It would put you so far from Entfremdung that you might risk summoning Ted Kaczynski. But the end product would be unassailably handmade. Handmade, as the poets say, af.

So it is a range – from simple assembly on one end, to preposterous made-from-scratch on the other. To define this range, then, I propose the following hierarchy.

The main qualities of any item are MATERIAL – DESIGN – FABRICATION. An item may be more or less handmade as to each of these categories. From least to most, a thing may be ASSEMBLED – PRODUCED – CREATED – MADE FROM SCRATCH – MADE FROM NOTHING.

Let’s go back to the garment-making example to illustrate.


An ASSEMBLED item is one where you just buy the materials at the store. You didn’t make the fabric. You just went to Joann Fabrics.

A PRODUCED item is one where you make the materials out of another made material. In the case of a garment, that would be knitting or weaving the fabric yourself – out of yarn you bought at Webs.

A CREATED item goes yet another step further back – spinning the thread, then weaving it, then stitching it.

An item made from SCRATCH is one where you have stepped back as far as is possible. You start from the basest possible ingredient – a sheep, a bushel of flax-stalks – and progress from there all the way to the finished product.

And then there’s MADE FROM NOTHING, wherein you are responsible for, not acquiring, but creating the basest scratch ingredients. That is to say, you have to raise the sheep yourself.

This applies to one’s TOOLS rather easily, as a tool is just a made item of a different sort. A scissors is just metal, which is the realm of metalwork. You could ASSEMBLE a scissors (or at least, a functional scissors-like thing) from items purchased at a hardware store. You could PRODUCE one by buying blank metal and then making it into scissor-piece shape. You could CREATE it by, not buying metal, but making it yourself – actually smelting iron ore. You could make it from SCRATCH by building your own smelting tower. And you could achieve PURE SCRATCH if you gathered the iron ore yourself.

(Or you could just, y’know, buy a scissors.)

By this framework, one could make a suit that was PURE SCRATCH of MATERIAL, but at the ASSEMBLY level of TOOLS (all one would need is a sewing machine, a scissors, a loom, a spindle, a pair of sheep-shears, some sheep, and a sheep-farm. You know, at minimum.) OR, one could make a suit that was ASSEMBLY-level of MATERIALS, but PURE SCRATCH of TOOLS (you’d have to start by dredging up ironsands from the bottom of an Irish bog scoop by scoop with your tiny weak little human hands… but once you finished the scissors and needle, you could just buy fabric at the store, and go from there).

I think that DESIGN can be forced to take most of the same bit. ASSEMBLAGE is just sticking to a pattern, without alteration. PRODUCTION adds or subtracts whole elements from the pattern (peaked to notched lapels; add a ticket pocket) but otherwise keeping it the same. CREATION makes smaller changes (make the lapels 1/4″ narrower or wider).

The concepts of SCRATCH and PURE SCRATCH are a bit more difficult, since there are few designs which are not born of other designs. This at least in the context of this example, whereby we have not set out to make a thing that fulfills a particular function, we have set out to make “a suit” and so we are already trying to fulfill a preexisting notion of design. Say that SCRATCH involves drawing up the pattern yourself, but having it still fulfill the elements of some Platonic ideal of what one is creating, however nebulous or sublime. And then PURE SCRATCH has one approach a problem (“this person needs to be nonnaked”) without regard to precedent, such that the result might be a garment, but it probably won’t be what one would call a “suit.”

These rules have internal application, as the scissors you make for your clothing project might be more or less designed, even though this might only add or subtract a modicum of handmade-ness to the final product. They might even be downright recursive, as to make the scissors you might use a hammer – but are you gonna make the hammer, too?

On the one hand, handmade-ness is probably of maximally diminishing returns for most projects. Do you really need to design special scissors just to cut a piece of cloth? Do you really need to fabricate scissors that are not, in fact, special, just to say you made ’em? Do you really need to aggregate to yourself all the different skills necessary to create, not just this item, but all the items needed to make it – or even, all the items needed to make all the items required in all its various steps of manufacture? Does a knife-sharpener also need be a knife-maker need be an ironmonger need be a miner? Does every tailor need to raise his own damn sheep?

On the other hand, it would seem an incredible accomplishment to truly, truly, make a suit from scratch. You would have to learn all the techniques required at each step of the way. By the end you would not only have a suit, you would have a panoply of skills. You would have achieved complete veritcal integration, cradle to grave. The suit would be less purpose than proof.

It would, for academic purposes if nothing else, be remarkably interesting to lay out all the steps needed to make a particular final product. I would like to know what one would need in order to make, say, one suit – and to make, or approximate, all the impedimenta needed for intermediate steps.

Would I then like to take the time to make said suit, and all else between?

Let’s be real: probably.

AT loadouts

•25 June 2018 • Leave a Comment



Expendables include: fuel canister, lighter, some tape wrapped around my poles, 5 backup strike-anywhere matches, 10 backup aquamira tabs, hand sanz, neosporin, and TP

I know it looks minimal, but I really think I have everything I need. At this point I’m just pretty streamlined.

(not listed: fooooooooooooood)

Thoughts on Internal Passports

•21 June 2018 • Leave a Comment

Ahh, central Maine. Real Maine. The Way Life Should Be. The land of moose and mountains. The land of dial-up. The land of no ambulance coverage. The land of no jobs. The absolute apotheosis of bright flight. The place where, in some counties, more than fifty percent of all homes are abandoned (not just empty, not just for-rent; abandoned). The place where, in some towns, the average age is north of fifty years old. One of the many corners of the developed world whose only hope for survival is immigration.

And now, indeed, we’re doing this.

As you can see, I have objections to this from a policy perspective. However, a friend asked for comments about it as a matter of law enforcement procedure. I said this:


My understanding is:

-At any point within 100 miles of a US border – AKA, in most of Maine – CBP can request information as to the legality of your presence on American soil (your “status”) without any suspicion, let alone probable cause, RAS, or exigency.

-(And I’m pretty sure there’s a justification for search if you’re within 100 miles of a Port Of Entry, such as Portland – so that’s all of Maine, really.)

-Any person can refuse to so self-identify.

-Doing so carries no penalties. You cannot be arrested or detained.

-HOWEVER, doing so creates a suspicion that you are out of status.

-AND, this suspicion DOES allow CBP to detain you.

-This detention can include their taking steps to determine your status; and, if you are out of status, arrest and/or remove you.

-It can also involve a full warrantless (“inventory”) search of your person, vehicle, and effects.

-I am unsure if a US citizen could face penalties for failure to produce identification *after* they have been detained. I am unsure if a non-US citizen who is in status (LPR, visa, TPS, etc.) could face penalties, either criminal or immigration-related.

-As things stand, this is all legal and constitutional – both as to people in and out of status.

-This is not, unfortunately, the legal definition of “entrapment.” Jacobson v. United States, 503 U.S. 540, 548 (1992)

-Even if this did meet the legal definition of a “police-created exigency,” we don’t care about that. Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452 (2011).

I say “my understanding” because 1) I’m not primarily an immigration attorney, and 2) In the last 18 months, the field of immigration law has gone from “complex” to “chaos and uncertainty.”

I would also like to point out that CBP’s claims that this is intended to effect drug smuggling interdiction are pretty silly. I am not aware of any link between status and smuggling. Most drug smugglers in Maine are US citizens. (They are overwhelmingly white, native-born Mainers.) This check would not detect their activities. As such it would in no way deter them.

As a prosecutor I saw a number of smugglers who were non-US citizens. These were mostly white Canadians. However, they were all lawfully present in the US, either on long-term visas or just having driven their Harleys over for a few days. As a result, this check would not interrupt their activities either.

As such, this new “enforcement mechanism” will in no way result in a disruption of America’s drug supplies.

(Furthermore, it seems clear that disrupting America’s drug supplies will not actually alleviate America’s drug problem – another layer of policy difference.)

Also, while these status checks will cause a small reduction in the number of out-of-status people in America, 1) I am still unconvinced that this is really a thing we should be effecting, and 2) I am wildly unconvinced that doing so requires us to undergo these police-state indignities to our privacy and our liberty. And by “us” I mean both US citizens, non-citizens who are in status, and even non-citizens who are out of status.

Advice to myself before a thru-hike

•2 March 2018 • Leave a Comment

Link to Reddit

A Well-Regulated Militia in 2018

•21 February 2018 • Leave a Comment

RECOGNIZING the increase in the lethality of arms between the years 1789 and 2018;

RECOGNIZING the increase in the frequency of mass shootings continuing through 2018 unabated;

RECOGNIZING the right of personal gun ownership in America;

RECOGNIZING the right to personal safety in America;

RECOGNIZING that the unrestricted right to bear arms, and the commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, cannot both be maintained;

RECOGNIZING that it is the duty of the Congress to establish the minimum restrictions upon the right to bear arms necessary to also guarantee the right to personal safety in America;

RECOGNIZING that a mechanism for the minimum necessary restriction on the right to bear arms exists in the Constitution;

IT IS DECLARED that arms may not be born except by those who maintain good standing within a WELL-REGULATED MILITIA.

BE IT KNOWN that each of the several States be required to establish and maintain a WELL-REGULATED MILTIA.

BE IT KNOWN that each State must enact, oversee, and enforce, the laws of its WELL-REGULATED MILITIA.

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it incorporates every person who bears arms within that State.

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it be open to all persons who are otherwise able to bear arms, as allowed by both federal and local regulations; and that membership not be denied to anyone on account of race, heritage, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, political opinion, level of education, military service, or place of birth.

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it punishes those who bear arms within that State, and are not members of the militia, with a term of imprisonment of no less than one year and one day.

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it punishes those who bear arms within that State, and are not members of the militia, with forfeiture of all their arms.

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it punishes those who bear arms within that State, and are not members of the militia, with forfeiture of their right to bear arms for a term of not less than one year and one day, to be served consecutively with their term of imprisonment.

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it maintains a complete and accurate registry of all its members;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it maintains a complete and accurate registry of all arms owned, borne, or produced, within that state;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it maintains a complete and accurate registry of all the arms owned by each of its members;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it allows law enforcement to have unrestricted access to all aforementioned registries – be it law enforcement of that State, of a sister State, or of the Federal Government;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it provides for regular public meetings, in public space and at the public expense;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it does compel its members to attend at least one such public meeting per year;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it provides that failure to attend at least one such public meeting per year shall result in the expulsion of that member, along with resultant loss of their right to bear arms for a term of not less than one year and one day;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it immediately notifies both local and Federal law enforcement of any failures by any of its members to obey its compulsions, including but not limited to such failures as result in that member’s termination from the miltia, and their resultant loss of the right to bear arms;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless the State which incorporates it provides that a bearer of arms, who loses their membership in the militia and thus their right to bear arms, be immediately visited by law enforcement, and compelled to gather all arms registered to them, and turn them over to law enforcement; and the law enforcement shall hold these arms until such time as the person be allowed to legally bear them, and that this holding be at minimum and reasonable cost to the bearer; or, if the bearer prefers, they be sent to public auction, the proceeds of which shall go to the bearer, minus minimum and reasonable fees;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless the State which incorporates it provides that the registered ownership of an arm, without its owner’s membership in good standing in their state’s well-regulated militia, establish sound and complete basis for a search warrant of the registered locations of said arms; and that, if said arms are not discovered in said locations, there shall be established sound and complete basis for a search warrant of the person’s home; any other properties owned by and accessible to that person; any vehicle owned by and accessible to that person, or known to be used by that person; as well as a warrant of arrest for that person, all to be served immediately.

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it does compel its members to undergo psychological evaluation by a competent and State-certified psychologist, to determine that person’s psychological fitness to bear arms; and that such evaluations be done of all members no less than once per year;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it considers any question of a member’s psychological fitness to bear arms to be ground for that member’s immediate suspension from the militia, and temporary loss of the right to bear arms, pending further evaluation; and that any declaration of a member’s psychological unfitness to bear arms result in their permanent removal from the militia, until such time as they might then prove their psychological fitness to resume membership in that Militia;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless the standards for its psychological evaluations, and of accreditation of those who offer them, be established by law, and strive to be as objective as possible to produce their assessment of fitness; but that these standards shall meet constitutional minimums as established by the Federal Government or its delegatee.

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless the results of such a psychological evaluation be immediately appealable to either an intermediate special court, or to the state’s lowest appellate court; and that the decisions of either be appealable to the state’s court of highest jurisdiction.

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it offer courses in firearm safety and use, or information on where such courses may be had;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless its meetings bar any political activity, nor solicitations for membership in or donations to any organizations, political or civil.

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it refrains from accepting donations, in specie or in kind, from any person, business, or organization, excepting de minimis donations as provided by its members to all other members equally, such as at the militia’s public meeting;

BE IT KNOWN that a MILITIA shall not be WELL-REGULATED unless it requires its members to neither have no display any rank, insignia, or uniform, which could be construed as belonging to the Armed Forces of the United States, or of any state, or of law enforcement, be it federal, state, or local; and that the members of the militia not be ordered to undertake any activities of law enforcement or peacekeeping, nor undertake such activities in the name of the militia.

BE IT KNOWN that each State be allowed to establish any and all additional regulations of its WELL-REGULATED MILITIA that they deem necessary and proper, so long as those regulations do not substantially overburden the right to bear arms.

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