Tag Archives: Nick

Sleep? 3/8/10

So this trip has been interesting so far. I’m in another country, eating good food and working . . . or relaxing in interesting ways. I’m not in school, I’m travelling, and the ocean hasn’t been out of sight for more than a day. But the sleep out here sucks! At first it was bearable, maybe a little condensation in the tarp tent. But the further south we go, the more condensation there is in the air. That in itself didn’t wake me too often and I figured that waking to a wet sleeping bag would be the worst of it. I’m not terribly bright. A few days at Laguna Ojo de Liebre introduced me to tarp tents and wind. Obviously being near the ocean there would be wind, but this wind at points threatened to break the tent poles, not to mention the rest of the tent catching the gusts like sails. So that was it, maybe a wet sleeping bag and the noisiest tent I’ve ever slept in. Not quite. I wake anywhere from two to five times a night. I live. Then, as the trip continues add coyotes howling, even faster winds, monstrous snoring, people getting up to piss and worst of all, almost getting pissed on, and you’ve got hours of missed sleep. Not to mention the one instance of sprinklers going off in the middle of the night and the other of getting rained on. All of this plus travelling for hours in a van that feels like a sardine can, I may feel the stress building a bit. Maybe the missed sleep is why small things are starting to bother me. Maybe it added to my mental breakdown. Or maybe this is just sleep on the road and I’m losing my mind.

By: Nick Lee

That Was Something 3/9/10

Just as we gathered to go over what lunch would be today, someone directed our attention to a pelican that had decided to land a few feet away. I don’t remember who, but someone suggested I grab the camera, so I did. I sat taking pictures of the curious visitor for a while as the others looked at it, equally intrigued. After maybe ten minutes, it flew off. I thought this instance peculiar, but nothing more as I went off to eat lunch. After the food had disappeared and the clean up done, I stood around thinking of what to do, when our friend decided to pay one more visit. I once more grabbed the camera and took more photos. This time, maybe because there were fewer people out, it came within a few feet of me. I was distracted to say the least, and the exposure on some of the photos may have suffered for it. As I sat in the sand contemplating the shots, I looked up and was caught by the bird’s dark brown eye (I say eye, singular, because its head was turned). I then began to contemplate myself as well as the bird. The thought arose, in my mind, of why the bird would come so close to people and how curious it looked just staring. Then I thought how curious I must have looked using a machine, trying to capture a split second of light refraction to be later used in a parallel world that we created (AKA the net). I can’t say I had any connection with the creature, but it did remind me of a recurring theme throughout this trip. To use a metaphor, the world is like a mirror; by looking at and examining it you can begin to see yourself.

Untitled 3/7/10

So, once more not hesitating has helped me. The cleanup after lunch had just ended and I was sitting around. The others were doing various activities while I just sat. A bird atop a large pole caught my attention but I thought it was just another seagull. I looked it over a few times, then got up and asked for a camera. It was an osprey. Tom set me up with the 10D and a telephoto lens and I got as close to the bird as I could before it verbally advised otherwise. After I got a few pictures, I was ready to quit but Deb suggested I ask Annabelle for help. I found my newest mentor and after a quick instruction, ran off to use what I’d just learned. I figured that there had to be more birds in the area (a note: birds are the subjects of my photography). I was able to snap some pictures of small birds and a passing raven. The important part of all this is that it calmed me down. Although today has been one of the least stressful so far, taking pictures really helped. I was able to ignore all thoughts of whatever may have been bothering me and just focus on what I was doing. I almost felt like I’d found a zen state.

By: Nick Lee

Food Convergence

Real Food Convergence

After arriving a few minutes late, I finally see where this convergence would be held. I walk into a large room filled with college students. There are signs near the front that read “Strengthening the Roots” – the name of the conference . . . or convergence . . . or whatever it is. Whatever it was, it was a student run conference . . . convergence, about introducing sustainable food to the UC system. It consisted of multiple workshops about sustainable food and introducing it to a wider audience (mainly college students). The first day ended with live music (I can’t recall the group’s name), and the second day with a group drum circle.

The convergence was organized around a selection of workshops with various focuses. I heard “workshop” and assumed there would be a person leading the workshop who would just talk. Then again, I have had very few experiences at “workshops.” What I saw was a forum. They did have a focus, but were mainly students sharing experiences of what they did in terms of introducing sustainability in their schools. I see how this would be great for a student of a UC, but as a high school student, it helped me very little. Almost everything I heard was something I already knew, so this almost seemed pointless to me. Then again, my thoughts were on Vizcaino and gray whales. With that in mind, my view was a bit skewed.

But there was one more thing that turned me off to the convergence. Towards the end of the first workshop, I was sitting around and overheard a conversation between two other convergence goers. It started on homesteading, the topic of the workshop, but drifted to the topic of meat. The conversing two were eager to rant about the lack of sustainability and malpractices of the meat industry and their shared distain of the product. I wrote them off as a pair of meat haters, not something too uncommon at a convergence such as this. But as the conference dragged on, I came to realize that many others there shared this opinion of meat. In the second workshop, about how to effectively spread a message, there grew the idea of “us” and “them.” “Us” being the enlightened ones spreading our knowledge of sustainability, and “them” being the know-nothings of sustainability. As the topics drifted, “us” became vegans and vegetarians, and “them” became meat eaters. Then later, during an open panel discussion, the question arose, “why was meat ignored during this conference?”. Which was misinterpreted, then played off of and used to support their own opinions.

As a meat eater, I do realize the repercussions of industrialized meat. I know about its effects on the environment, the economy and the horrible conditions for the animals. But this convergence was about shifting to sustainable food. There was almost no mention of sustainable, grass fed meat farms; and when it did come up it was ignored. There are models of sustainable meat farms that use practices of humane raising and slaughtering, such as Polyface Farm in Virginia. Yet at this convention about shifting to sustainable food for whole campuses of students, the message permeating the air seemed clear: the future of sustainability is vegetarianism. I personally saw this as close-minded and almost offensive, that a group of people (meat eaters) could be completely ignored. The convergence was to bring people together to gain knowledge and support each other in the switch to sustainable food, but instead I saw an “us” and “them” form. I’d like to have seen at least an acknowledgment that there are ways of raising sustainable meat. If they had even taken the time to point out that industrialized meat isn’t the only meat, then maybe I would have accepted their views as legitimate. But because I only saw this separation and ignorance, I only saw hypocrisy.

By Nick Lee