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21 July 2005

without a destination, walking

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i wonder if the changing of the guard in stockholm was so impressive a few hundred years ago. 'well, sven, it's noon and i'm here to replace you.' 'okay, jan, have a good shift.' nowadays, the changing of the guard draws a giant swarm of tourists and is conducted with much grandeur and ceremony. hell, an entire band shows up on horseback to parade around. how would you like to be one of these two horses with drums mounted on either side of its neck? wow. these two horses and their riders enjoyed the spotlight for about five minutes; the drummers went off on a drum solo while the horses walked robotically around in some well rehearsed circular pattern. the entire ceremony went off smoothly despite the potential for a horse to freak out and crush an unsuspecting tourista. [damn]. with all of the distraction, i missed the actual changing of the guard; i know that the guard was changed only because his uniform was a different color and i thought the current guard would have thought it inappropriate to change clothes in front of all the people.

i walked on; past a giant submerged in the water. past the national museum of cultural history with a sign indicating admission was free; in. an exhibit of toys and one of my favorite games. the best; a series of old photographs. i've decided that once i buy a house, i'll do my best to decorate the walls with old photographs of the surrounding area. back outside. my attention, as has been the case recently, is still drifting. i walked on without a destination, walking slowly, without purpose, mostly looking down [in stockholm, sweden; looking _down_ [although i suppose i wouldn't have seen the expended cap gun ammunition if i hadn't been looking down; great find]]. i bought more groceries before heading back to the crypt, and the act of paying for the groceries triggered a series of thoughts which hadn't been with me since i made the decision to travel. i wondered if my money would be better spent elsewhere... if it would be better saved for some type of investment, or capital for a new project, or a down payment on a house. i didn't know how to process these thoughts. after three and a half months on the road, i was tired of traveling.

back at the hostel, i made some food and then thought about the future of the global reconnaissance organization. would these feelings go away? did i need a break? did i need to return to the states for a while? it definitely didn't make sense to continue traveling if i wasn't excited about it; that would certainly be a complete waste of money. i had some time to make a decision; i'd be meeting sarah in prague in five days and we'd be traveling together for just under two weeks.

posted by paul at Thu 21 Jul 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (0)

20 July 2005

with an explosion, i was out

eyes open [empty as halos]. darkness [imprisoning me]. silence. i fumbled around for my treo... damn, 1030. i remembered hitting the snooze button several times before eventually turning the alarm off altogether. 1030 and a complete blackness in the crypt. i found my way to the door using my headlight. i hated the lack of natural light in this basement crypt.

[digression] i usually listen to music while i'm writing these entries; the music has a great influence on the tone of each entry. one problem. if i put on music which is overly engaging or which i haven't heard in a while, i find myself actively listening to the music and am unable to concentrate on writing. the median exists; music which i like but which doesn't draw me away from the writing. lately i've been defaulting to 'shout' by tears for fears. yeah, i'm talking to you. come on. i find it amazing the way music can instantly change out my whole set of feelings for another within a few minutes. transporting me back in time to the feelings i had when i first heard the song. where i was. who i was. one set of new feelings, please. installed. [end digression]

the new city walk the day before didn't count; my mind wasn't receptive, energy failing. today was a new day; i had crypt sleep last night. i assembled all resources available to globalrecon.org, consulted the supreme counsel, and drafted a plan to attack stockholm straight on with renewed energy. h-hour arrived and i ran up the hostel stairs, slowing only to strap on my brilliantly brown hiking boots, and with an explosion, i was out the door on the stockholm streets.

quite a beautiful city, this stockholm built on islands, the blue of the water and of the sky framing the lovely architecture.

on august 10, 1628, the swedish warship wasa sank on its maiden voyage. 329 years later in 1957 the ship was located; salvaging operations lasted four years. marine archaelogists drilled holes through the seafloor beneath the ship, inserted cables through the holes, and with the help of giant winches slowly pulled the entire vessel to the surface. thousands of pieces which had broken off were collected and the entire ship was reassembled and conserved and is now on display in the amazing wasa museum. truly amazing. upon entering the museum, i felt like one of the goonies entering the giant cavern wherein rested one-eyed willie's pirate ship. [quick pull from my nebulizer, my eyes wide open taking in the splendor of the giant wasa]. a short film in the museum indicated that the ship sank because there was not enough counterbalance in the hull; the wasa incorporated a new design with two gun decks. the weight of the cannons caused the ship to topple after the sails caught a burst of wind. water rushed in open gun ports and the rest is history. the ship had not yet taken on its full compliment of sailors (145) and soldiers (300), a total of 445 men, when it sank. approximately thirty people died as the ship went down; ten skeletons were recovered and are resting in the museum. museum exhibits indicated that living conditions were so poor aboard ships of this time period that had the wasa not sank on its maiden voyage, a great number of passengers would have eventually died anyway as a result of disease and malnutrition. pleasant. i stayed at the museum until it closed.

i walked a bit more, capturing a forboding picture and then stopping for groceries before heading back to the crypt. shoes off.

posted by paul at Wed 20 Jul 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (2)

19 July 2005

nothing with eyes wide

woke up at approximately 1000; the train was due in stockholm at 1115. sat up in bed and waited for the train to arrive in the central station. german crew... much activity. much 'mein rucksack'. arrival [let me the hell out of here]; the central station was bustling. i sat in a corner and transferred the hostel information from my laptop to my treo and also loaded the stockholm map details into my gps. as it turned out, the hostel was less than a ten minute walk from the train station. i doubted i'd be permitted to check in before noon, so i milled around the train station for a little while and grabbed some food. milling time is important.

got to the hostel at 1230. i was right; no check-in until 1400. the hostel woman seemed frustrated and irritated. it looked like she had other things on her mind; i found out later that the hostel is in the midst of construction on a new room. i asked if i could store my pack until 1400... sure, downstairs, but please take your shoes off first. quite annoying. shoes off, packed stored, shoes on, i helped the hostel woman carry in some new couch cushions that the delivery men had left on the sidewalk. she called them lazy. i was out on the stockholm streets.

wandered a bit through the beautiful city, to gamla stan and sodermalm. narrow sidewalks filled with people. ice cream. at some point during the two hours of preliminary recon, i remember thinking 'hmm, another city'. my energy to explore stockholm was waning; indeed my energy for exploring any city was waning. back to the hostel by 1430. shoes off, blah. i didn't really care for this hostel. it was clean enough, the location was perfect, and there was free wifi internet access, but in addition to the shoe rule (which while seemingly benign really got under my skin for some reason), the rooms were in the basement, cryptlike and untouched by natural light... the complete opposite of my northern norwegian excursion where the sun never set and the curtains couldn't be bothered. the hostel woman seemed on the edge of hostel manager burnout. others commented that it was one of the nicer hostels that they had stayed in, but for me it was nothing but negative energy. i toyed with the idea of moving to another hostel for the following two nights, but decided i didn't want the hassle.

after check in, i spent the rest of the day with admin duties. did two loads of laundry, updated the site, and researched travel plans before heading to the crypt. i set my treo alarm to wake me up at 0830. with the lights out and the door to the room shut, the darkness didn't improve after fifteen minutes of adjustment; still absolutely nothing with eyes wide open. the beds were packed into the room; one exit. negative energy seething.

posted by paul at Tue 19 Jul 2005 at 00:00:00 EST (-05:00) | comments (0)