Wednesday, November 24

One year older

Sunday was my birthday, I am now 33 years old.  The celebration included a home cooked persian dinner (made by Dariush Samimi, my father), a trip to see Harry Potter with Amanda (they finally got it right in #7, in case you were wondering) and making a batch of salted pumpkin caramels with my buddy Maria.

Someone reminded me of a birthday message Sandman sent me years ago, maybe the nicest I ever got.  It went like this:

Day 1:

Nima Samimi reminds me of what a male human being would be like. I've never met one, but I've read books on the subject, and he fits the model. My planet has much to learn about this species.

Some may try to probe him, but he may not acquiesce to their wishes. Perhaps we should just take unobtrusive notes for a while.


-Dr. Yrep Pi Ls

(Don't get the joke hidden in the signature?  Read it backwards.  It represents on of his many alter-ego's.)

Thanks to all of you who sent kind birthday wishes, they brightened up my week.

Tuesday, November 16

Road Trip

My odometer tells me I’ve driven in the ballpark of 15 thousands miles since February.  I used to get irritable and sleepy after a three-hour drive but at this point I can put in a solid 7 hours with no trouble.  I’ve compiled this list of driving tips in case you also want to fortify your road trip stamina.

  1. 1.     Eat well.  Sugar, excessive fat and processed foods (i.e. everything they sell at rest stops) are guaranteed to give you a brief high followed by hours of fatigue and discomfort (and possibly the runs).  You’re better off pulling off at any small town and eating at a non-chain restaurant.  It’s rarely more expensive and always involves things very closely related to meats, vegetables and carbohydrates.  Fruit is ideal car food – I find oranges are the hardest to eat but offer an ideal water/sugar/fiber ratio for staying in the driving zone.  And no candy.  Sorry.
  2. 2.     Where to go for the cheapest gas: avoid gas stations just outside cities, these are usually wealthy suburbs.  Poorer city neighborhoods usually have the cheapest city gas.  Once you’ve driven a good 45 min outside a city gas gets cheaper but always takes a jump in price just before and just after any sign saying something like “next gas 50 miles” – avoid those.  Small towns with one gas station can be pricey because they don’t have much competition.  Look for small towns, close to other small towns that have multiple gas stations.  One of them will often be a full 15 cents cheaper than everything else.  Might as well let good ol’ capitalism save you some money.
  3. 3.     Stretch your back, arms and legs every ½ hour in the car.  Stop at least every 2 hours and spend at least 60 seconds stretching.
  4. 4.     Yawn when you aren’t tired.  When you’re tired yawning is a sign that you need to pull over and rest; when you aren’t tired yawning helps release physical tension and makes your ride more comfortable.
  5. 5.     Drink enough water that your pee isn’t yellow but not so much that you need to stop more than once every two hours.  A pee break doesn’t need to take longer than 5 minutes, just go in, do your thing, stretch for a minute and get back on the road.  Rest stops are designed to waste your time: resist.  Spend your time and money having one relaxed stop for a meal in a town.  Never spend more than an hour holding a full bladder.  It will tire you out and irritate you way more than it’s worth.
  6. 6.     Entertain yourself.  Music, podcasts, books on tape (et al) are the long distance driver’s dependable friend.  This is also a perfect time to reflect on your creative projects.  The road keeps the restless and worrying part of your mind busy and allows your creative brain hours on end to relaxedly imagine fantastic new things.  I record my many incredibly awesome ideas on the voice recorder of my cheapo cell phone while I drive.  Before you know it you could be in Memphis or Spearfish South Dakota. 
  7. 7.     In an ideal world, get some play/excersize once during a driving day – could be before or during (not after.  Too late).  That element of play and physical exertion is the opposite of staring at a road for 7 hours and the lightness of it will stay with you.   I keep a basketball with me and 20 minutes of shooting around earns me hours of happiness.  I had an especially fun time playing at a middle school ball court in west Texas under the beating sun.  Other possibilities: run around, throw a football, cartwheels on rest stop grass, brief walk at a scenic rest stop.

Happy trails, fellow traveler.  Send me a postcard.

(Touring with Chris on the West Texas Border Last April)

Tuesday, November 9

Flip-cam Hitchhiking

A brief movie of my various hitchhiking, bussing and taxiing trips in Mexico and Guatemala.  Recorded on a flip ultra hd camera.