Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/#9a417fe513f58988c3b5b1e84cfc57397194a79b 2018-07-20T20:21:57Z Ran Prieur http://ranprieur.com/ ranprieur@gmail.com July 20, late. http://ranprieur.com/#d72570edac8bd11042325525268b4b7255e5e719 2018-07-20T20:21:57Z July 20, late. So I’m not going to make it to Prague. My ticket went Bonn to Koln to Frankfurt and then a night bus to Prague, and I’m really paranoid about missing trains, but when the Bonn-Koln train was ten minutes late, I was sure I would still have time to make the transfer. I got on for a 19 minute trip, and 19 minutes later, both the display and the voice on the train said, next stop, Koln HBF. I thought even the blue sign by the tracks said it. I got off, and thought, that’s strange, this is not the right track number, and I don’t see the cathedral. I opened up the CityMaps2Go app, and it told me I was at Koln West. Did I just have my first ever full-on hallucination? The HBF was a mile away, so I hurried across the city with my bags to try to catch the next train, and happened to pass through a gathering of homeless people. It was like a Terry Gilliam movie. And when I got to the station, on the expected track number, there was a delayed train to Frankfurt just arriving.

I got on, but it turned out to be a different, much slower train. There was no way I was making that bus, so I started thinking about how I could get back to Bonn. But my train was actually stopping in Bonn - the original ticket had gone the opposite direction on the first leg to catch the fast train. So back in Bonn, I went to get off, and the door wouldn’t open! I hurried to get out another door before the train pulled away, and saw that every door except that one had opened. Going up the stairs to the street, people were gathered around a guy sprawled in his own blood.

Big apologies to Dennis, who was going to meet me in Prague tomorrow and host me. Maybe another year. So this weekend I’m going with Leigh Ann to Xanten and Mettmann, and the Neanderthal museum, then chilling in Bonn before we go to Scotland.

July 20. http://ranprieur.com/#f81074506f93ed80d915eb93e9f20fd996694b22 2018-07-20T20:20:32Z July 20. A reader mentions that I haven’t shown any anxiety in my travel notes, but I don’t think I’ve felt it any less. It’s just that when I’m really busy, it’s like going fast in a car. If the road gets muddy, or goes uphill, my momentum will carry me through. Of course, a bad enough road will stop any car, which is why busy people still burn out.

Then I’m thinking, probably the epidemic of depression and anxiety is even worse than it seems, and it’s being covered up by the busyness of modern life.

Side subject: drugs. You would think that LSD, being synthetic, would be good for watching TV and listening to complex recorded music, and THC, being natural, would be good for walking in the woods. In my experience it’s exactly the opposite. It’s like both drugs are using their human hosts to appreciate what they find most unfamiliar.

One more note. I’ve been having unlikely difficulty finding wifi, so I might be incommunicado for a while.

July 18. http://ranprieur.com/#1bbbbb58b47031dae00c3fd011f77ba0ffb49846 2018-07-18T18:00:47Z July 18. The first week is always the hardest... I hope. I’m now fully recovered from jet lag, I know how to read a train platform, and I know to look for Aldi and what to buy there. Last night I bought two pouch soups, a small tub of garlic butter, dried salami sticks, mixed toasted nuts, and ziplock bags. I still have bread and nectarines, which are incredibly cheap.

When I came to Europe in college, at first I did the usual tourist things, but by the end of the trip, I had figured out what I really liked to do — when I went to a museum, I went straight to the dead stuffed animal exhibits. This time, I already know that I want to get the feel of the city, look at the buildings, and then find the best park.

Maastricht is my favorite city so far. It’s a good size with a casual vibe, and lots of cool old churches. I found an awesome place called the Frontenpark. It’s a bunch of old brick ramparts that they turned into a feral nature preserve, and it’s almost deserted. Today I was going to check out Sint-Pietersberg, but instead I’m going back to Frontenpark, to just chill and picnic and rest my knee joints.

July 16. http://ranprieur.com/#914b57c2a709fc86f946c3536dec64b1c52e9979 2018-07-16T16:40:13Z July 16. Today I’m taking a day of rest. Yesterday another reader showed me around Utrecht, the densest city I’ve been in so far. Right wingers talk about the “failure of socialism”, and I don’t know what they mean, but what I see is that socialism has failed to protect us from capitalism, when there are public squares with no place to sit down without spending money. (Later we found some benches by a beautiful canal at the edge of downtown.) It’s also really creepy that you can’t leave the train station without scanning a ticket.

But the people seem happy. They glide around on bicycles and scooters, and because I can’t tap into the subconscious not-get-hit matrix, I have to devote quite a lot of conscious attention to not getting hit. This is not because I’m a foreigner — it’s just me. I’m also constantly tinkering with my walking style to minimize joint stress, something I didn’t have to do when I was younger.

I understand now why old people go on cruises. It would be wonderful to just have a little cabin, and all my meals taken care of — except instead of a boat, I’d like the cabin to be in the woods. There must be expensive retreats that offer that, and the low budget version is to load up my bike with staples and a camp stove, ride into the mountains, and find a drinkable stream.

Tomorrow, Maastricht for two days and a night, then back to Bonn.

July 14. http://ranprieur.com/#b0051f2bd1b613b32fcac79fa6edf62941a38dfd 2018-07-14T14:20:21Z July 14. Today my native guide took me into surprisingly deep woods between Baarn and Utrecht. In five hours we walked somewhere between 15 and 20 kilometers. It was like a taste of heaven, and then at the end having to come back to the human zoo.

We talked about psychedelics, and he mentioned a Salvia entity who seemed surprised to encounter an intelligent creature descended from monkeys. It reminded me of a line from my novel (book 1, chapter 16).

"Monkeys!" Brillix spat. "Before time, the Swamp Mother bristled at the arrogance of the Sun, and made his children from the most incorrigible of all beasts."

July 12. http://ranprieur.com/#1593f17be9eec844945eaa1441c72e2eb69f5028 2018-07-12T12:00:28Z July 12. I’m in Bonn, going to the Netherlands tomorrow. Everyone knows how Europe is better than America: single payer health care, abundant public transportation, streets friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists, and cool old buildings. But there are surprising ways it’s not as good. I have yet to see a free public restroom, or a drinking fountain. The buses here are honor system, and the drivers really hate taking money. I think they want everyone without a pass to cheat.

Jet lag doesn’t always make sense. It was just really hard for me to wake up from a nap, despite having slept eight of the last 24 hours, and it being a time in the pacific zone when I’m always wide awake.

So far my second biggest mistake was catching the wrong intercity train, which is really easy to do. They’re not well labeled, so the key is going very precisely by what time they come and go. Luckily it was just going to a different station in the same city. And my biggest mistake was wearing shoes that were not well broken in. To recover, I’ve had to walk around in my barefoot shoes with my heels hanging out.

July 9. http://ranprieur.com/#a98902d4bc31fdbb6aada8de94912bfc2e2762b2 2018-07-09T21:30:02Z July 9. So I've been dropping hints about continuing to write fiction, but I have a rule: never talk about what I'm going to write, only about what I've written. Now I can say, I've been writing book two of my novel, continuing the stories of all the same characters, plus a few new ones.

For a month I've been typing my handwritten stuff into Notepad++, and last Wednesday I spent all day putting it in order, 43 blocks of four sometimes-interlinking storylines. (It's more complex than book one, but shorter.) Friday night I spent eight hours on cannabis solving the last hard problems: finding the right words, smoothing the transitions, making the worldbuilding consistent, and writing some new stuff.

Here's the teaser page, and the complete text in html. I want to do more polishing before I convert it to other filetypes, and add more quotes at the beginnings of chapters, but it's pretty much done.

Tomorrow I fly to Europe for a month. Again, I'll have an iPad but no cell phone, so I do expect to make some posts.

July 7. http://ranprieur.com/#199f76d3762fccdb67d11ece82abf69c00c5090c 2018-07-07T19:10:59Z July 7. Two good psychology threads from Reddit. When and what made you realize you were depressed? This comment is a good summary: "I thought that depression was a horrible, numb feeling you could instantly recognize but really I felt so tired and defeated."

And Therapists of Reddit, what's something you wish you could tell your clients but don't? There are a lot of comments about parents causing the psychological problems of their kids:

I work with a lot of parents and although I don't do counseling, I get complaints from parents about their kids in conversation. 99% of the complaints would be solved or at least manageable if the parent took a moment to honor their child as a person, recognize their child is still learning how to navigate the world, and stop seeing their child as someone who owes them something.

This makes me optimistic, because this kind of awareness is historically very new. Less than 150 years ago, there was a fad in Germany of raising kids with the explicit intention of breaking their spirits, and Alice Miller has argued, in the book For Your Own Good, that this is pretty much what made them all Nazis. Also, anecdotally, service workers report that their meanest customers are almost all old people.

So what's causing the current epidemic of anxiety and depression? Maybe it's like the decline of Rome, so complex that even historians will argue about it. My too-simple answer is this: society is best viewed as a game, and ours is not designed to be fun for actual humans, only for large concentrations of money.

Related Twitter thread: Things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the Soviet Union.

July 5. http://ranprieur.com/#72610d04c7707cce48f6c1191cdd8dfdce75cb6d 2018-07-05T17:50:13Z July 5. Some fun links, mostly sent by readers. But first, Redditors who live in a van, on a boat, in a cabin off the grid, in a tent or a sleeping bag, really everything except the usual 4 walls with ceiling and roof - what's your story?

Related: Houseless, not homeless: Adapting to life in tent city: "Henke said that when he had a 'normal life' with a job and an apartment, he was lonely and miserable and even considered suicide... At Tent City he has his own space and privacy and feels connected to a community of people, however dysfunctional it might be at times."

The Best of Mr. Rogers. In hundreds of years they'll look back at him as the saint of the age of television.

Check out this eight year old drummer. If I started practicing drums now, I would not be this good in eight years.

A review of an album I've been getting into lately, Life Without Buildings - Any Other City. Sue Tompkins' voice is not a melodic instrument, but a feral and bratty barrage, so impulsive that it sounds improvised, and yet so meticulously structured that it fits seamlessly with complex math-rock backing.

Finally, I've been subscribed for a while to the Imaginary Colorscapes subreddit, and this is my favorite thing I've seen there so far: Rocket Refugees by Konstantin Vohwinkel.

July 3. http://ranprieur.com/#89c80a6b1c95c289ad3d330db11cfa4fc5be11a6 2018-07-03T15:30:22Z July 3. So I'm flying to Europe in a week. Even though I went there twice in college, I'm frightened. Paradoxically, because my social intelligence is higher now, I'm aware of more mistakes that could be made. "The bigger you build the bonfire, the more darkness is revealed." But it's probably like jumping into a swimming pool, where as soon as I'm there, I'll feel better.

We'll be based in Bonn. I'm going into the Netherlands, mostly around Utrecht and Maastricht, then back to Bonn, then over to Prague for a few days. Then when Leigh Ann finishes her class, we're going to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Berlin, Munich, and home. Glasgow is the only place where we'll have a lot of time.

Travel is cheaper than I expected. I just bought a round-trip train-bus ticket from Bonn to Prague for $88 from GoEuro.com. And my plane ticket was much less, adjusted for inflation, than it was 30 years ago. Or think of it this way: in 1987, a round trip from Seattle to Frankfurt cost two months of Seattle rent. Now, it's half a month.

I don't like to be super-busy, so instead of trying to see the attractions in every city, I'll probably just want to putter around the streets and chill in the hotel room. I'm trying to do this without a phone, and also without bringing my laptop, but I did buy an iPad so I can get online, and I expect to have time to make some posts.

July 2. http://ranprieur.com/#9dbe214cdae69965eefc138e5552432bb8607247 2018-07-02T14:20:39Z July 2. Three Ask Reddit threads. What was the weirdest thing you felt/saw when on drugs? There's a lot more of this stuff in the Erowid Experience Vaults. I seem to be resistant to heavy tripping, but my LSD trip has permanently changed me to see more beauty in nature.

What's the most intelligent thing you've witnessed an animal do? My favorite is this one about a raven asking a hiker for water.

Senior citizens of reddit, what were the elderly like when you were kids? Lots of stuff here, but the main thing I take from it is that old people used to smoke and drink and sit around, and now they're more likely to be healthy and active.