Weird Stuff

Monday, February 22, 2016

Into the Mild: Day One in a Nairobi Slum

Posted By on Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 3:30 PM

Mathare Slum, Nairobi, Kenya – January 2016



I grew up in Death Valley and don’t do well with cold. Seeing 2016 on my calendar means that I’d been on the road for 18 months now, shifting between hemispheres every six months and staying in perpetual winter. 18 months of cold nights and stuffy clothes. But not now. The warm and humid air that stuck to me after I exited the airplane in Kenya was a long awaited hug.

After a quick wait in the immigration line, I made my way out of the airport and was quickly met by Eric and Vivian. Eric is the founder and leader of Mathare Foundation, the organization where I would be working for the next month. Vivian was an assistant who coaches the soccer team and counsels children in writing. We grabbed a cab that was too small for the three of us plus my backpack, so I went with my bag on my lap and Vivian offered to take Hobbes on hers. These were good people.

We were headed to Mathare Slum, a slum of 500,000 people with a 30 percent HIV infection rate and no free education past 8th grade. I would work at Mathare Foundation, a non-profit that offered children free classes in soccer, performing arts, and photography. The pragmatic hopes are that the photography program can be self sustaining and offer the children real work, while the soccer and performing arts programs were meant to assist children in getting scholarships to continue their studies. The immediate results are that the kids can display and take pride in their accomplishments, have positive role models outside of the home, and have productive work to do in the time when they are most vulnerable to drugs and crime.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Into the Mild: A New City, New Job, and New Overdose

Posted By on Mon, Feb 15, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Salvador, Brasil

I’ve never touched a drug in my life. The only possible exception would be when we tried to make a delayed-fuse piccolo pete bomb by poking a hole in a cigarette, putting the fuse of the piccolo pete through the whole, then inhaling to try to light the cigarette. It didn’t work. Instead I just coughed a lot and learned to hate the smell of tobacco. I don't drink alcohol. I even avoid caffeine when I can. Despite this, I ended up overdosing on legally purchased sleeping pills while using them for their stated purpose. Life’s a bitch, eh?

click image The sign at the entry to our hostel
  • The sign at the entry to our hostel
My first job in Brasil was at a holistic retreat in Arambepe. I worked daily from 7 a.m. to noon, handling anything from construction to helping at ayahuasca ceremonies. A month later, I went to coastal Salvador to work at a hostel. Overnight, I went from starting work at 7 a.m. in Arambepe to working nights and ending at 7 a.m. in Salvador. I enjoyed the night shift quite a bit. I only worked thrice a week and spent the first three hours of my shift hanging out with amazing people that I would be hanging out with at night anyways, then spent the rest of the night ironing sheets and watching Breaking Bad.  

In addition to working when I usually slept, I also started sleeping in a very active dormitory. These changes in my sleeping pattern completely threw off my internal clock. I was lucky to get four hours of sleep in a day. It started to catch up to me quickly so I went to a pharmacy and asked if they had anything light that could help. I declined the first thing offered and took the cheaper of the two medications. The recommended dosage was one pill, so I took them for a couple mornings. I looked up the pill online to see why it wasn’t working better and found out that it was generic brand valium. Normally I would worry about that but I still struggled to get more than four hours of sleep and I was exhausted all the time. I figured that valium or not, if I wasn’t getting more than four hours of sleep a night with it, it couldn’t be too dangerous to up the dosage. I finally felt horrible one night and took two.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Do A Deep House Downward Dog

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 9:00 AM

  • Courtesy Spiritual Gangster Yoga Facebook Page
Deep house yoga isn't a term you hear every day. Actually, you've probably never heard that term. But if you really love chillwave and stretching, every Wednesday night at Movement Culture Spiritual Gangster Yoga hosts a "Deep House" class.

The hour-long, high energy class mixes asana flows and the beats of DJ Elektra Tek to reduce stress and enhance one-ness between your mind, body and soul. The class' Facebook page encourages everyone to show up if they want to move and feel great. Oh, and it's free. Class starts at 8:45 p.m. at Movement Culture. Namaste. 

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Monday, February 8, 2016

Into the Mild: Santiago's Mad Max University

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Santiago, Chile

Students live in the classrooms, all fences have been blocked off by tables. The police just gave up… it’s Mad Max in there!

-My boss


Many universities and high schools in Santiago were on strike for much of the last year. Each had different reasons for the strike, with the students striking at some, the teachers at others. The most visible effect were messages written on posters and draped over university walls. The weekends often featured large protests. While exploring Barrio Providencia, I found the mothership, Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano. It made the other protesters look like amateurs.

The first striking image was the walls. Universidad Academia’s fences and gates were completely boarded off using chairs and tables taken from the classrooms, while the outer wall was often plastered with signs and graffiti.





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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Update: Roosh Valizadeh Says His Meet-ups Weren't Pro-Rape, Honest

Posted By on Sun, Feb 7, 2016 at 4:45 PM

Update Feb. 8, 6 p.m.:

It turns out that the Return of Kings meet-ups weren't actually ever advertised by the group to be pro-rape, according to an article posted by ROK member Rob Berne yesterday. From the horse's mouth:

Media reports resulted in a shut down of the meet ups planned among our followers...The Establishment intentionally took one article written by Roosh in which he proposed a thought experiment to increase the safety of women by 'legalizing rape on private property.' The elites took a gamble that taking that article out of context and exaggerating it to the fullest extent would create a firestorm—notice that few of the slanderous articles actually linked to the piece in
question, where any reasonable person could see that it was not written earnestly.

The media twisted the followers of ROK and Roosh into 'rape supporters' simply because of one article that was obvious satire. Jonathan Swift once wrote that poor children should be eaten by the wealthy. Back in the 18th century, no one was stupid enough to take Swift’s essay seriously.
So, Return of Kings's didn't intend to host a series of meetings advocating rape. My bad. The article written by Valizadeh—the one that apparently made everyone think the ROK meetings were pro-rape—was labeled as a "satirical thought experiment" in a note at the top of the page. According to Snopes, this thought was added after he initially received backlash for the article in Feb. 2015.

Based off's content and the fact that the meet-ups were aimed at heterosexual male readers, I  think it's pretty safe to say the meetings would have attracted a group of men who support rape culture and pro-rape attitudes.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

Into the Mild: The Adventures of Jason and Hobbes

Posted By on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 11:00 AM

Traveling alone can be tough. When all of my snooty friends couldn’t join me because they had families or careers they couldn’t walk away from, I had to get creative in my search for a companion.

I left Tucson in June of 2014, traveling with a group of 500 soccer fanatics to watch the World Cup in Brasil. We were hundreds of strangers from across the US and everyone seemed to bond almost immediately

Then, after two weeks, they were gone.

I next stayed with a friend from Brasil, though she usually had school and I spoke no Portuguese at the time.

Then, after two weeks, I was on my own again.

I worked in Bahia for a month, then left and never saw my coworkers again. I repeated the experience in Salvador. And Ecuador. And Peru. You see the pattern. I was surrounded by people who wouldn't stay in my life. I was alone in a crowd. I wanted a permanent travel companion, flexible and adventurous.

So I made my own.

First came the pattern. I found this nifty guide, printed out a PDF of the design, bought some fleece, and got to work.


I started with the arms and legs. They were the easiest pattern, and as I had never sewn before, the least noticeable if/when something went wrong.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Into the Mild: Journal From a Refugee Camp, Week One

Posted By on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 at 2:01 PM

Mytilene, Greece – December 2015

This is part two of a journal I’m keeping during my month working at a refugee camp in Greece. Part one, covering my last night in the US and two days in Athens, is here.

Dec. 9: It’s go time. After a series of subways and flights, I’m on the island of Lesvoz, the epicenter of refugee arrivals.

Now what?

I’d previously arranged to work in Molyvos, a town in the north of the island that desperately needed help a month ago. Since that time, thing have calmed down in Molyvos. Several senior members of the Greek government visited the camp in Molyvos before I came, leading to a pause in boats coming from Turkey. The Turkish coast guard is now patrolling the area near Molyvos at night, causing the smugglers to take boats further south. The city of Mytilene has now become the new major landing point. I decided to hold off on Molyvos for the time being and give Mytilene a shot.

Still unsure of where I will sleep or work, I decide to spend the day sorting clothes at a warehouse. This is a huge need on the island, as everybody dreams of coming and heroically helping refugees off of boats, but nobody dreams of heroically sorting shoes. I hailed a taxi in front of the airport and asked him to take me to the warehouse in town.

“Refugees?” he asks me.

“Yes, I’m going to the warehouse for refugees, where there are clothes,” I replied.

“You go to work for refugees, I will take you there?”

I tried to explain using the most basic English I could think of… “Yes, at the building with boxes, food, and clothing. The warehouse.”

“OK, we go to warehouse.”

Five minutes later, we were at Pikpa, which is definitely not a warehouse. Pikpa was formerly a summer camp for children with special needs, though it was abandoned and later became a refugee camp. It is now populated by at-risk families or refugees with special health conditions (i.e. pregnancy) that made them a poor fit for the general population at other refugee camps.

Pikpa's distribution center. - All Together written in Farsi, Greek, Arabic, and English
  • Pikpa's distribution center.All Together written in Farsi, Greek, Arabic, and English

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Into the Mild: Sorry, Prostitutes Can´t Stay in the Dormitory

Posted By on Mon, Dec 7, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Santiago, Chile


Was I bored or hungry? My night shift at the hostel seemed to be moving in slow motion that night. I stepped away for a couple of minutes to grab food from the staff refrigerator in the back yard. A coworker, Julie, watched the office for me.

I returned to an empty office and an open door. I went out to see why the door was open and found Julie talking to a man through the fence. The man was around 45 years old and needed a bed for the night for a friend. He didn’t have a reservation but claimed to know the owner, Jon. Jon would vouch for him. They were friends. I talked with the man as my coworker went back inside to call Jon. The man asked again if he could have a room and then gave us 10,000 Chilean Pesos (15 dollars), said he didn’t need the change, and signaled to the car across the street.

When the man brought his friend out, I immediately saw why he had left her in the car during our initial conversation. She was roughly 45, distraught, and wearing a very short skirt & very high heels, one of which had a broken strap. A strong limp and eyes that told of recent drug use came into focus as she got closer. I stepped inside for a minute to brief my coworker. Neither of us knew what to do. Our daily workload focused mostly on arranging reservations and giving tours. I must have missed the training session on dealing with battered woman escorted by their abusers.

I stepped back outside, opened the gate, and let the woman in. The man tried to follow her in, putting his hand on my shoulder as he talked to me. I told him twice not to touch me, each request followed by him removing his hand for five seconds. The third time, I told him very colorfully to leave, pushed him out, and slammed the gate as he yelled at me.

The woman obviously needed help so I led her in and took her to the dining room. I then found Julie and told her “She’s pretty f***ed up, we should call an ambulance.” I then saw the two guests in the same room and regretted not pulling Julie to the side to say it. We went to a smaller room near the kitchen. The woman said that she was hungry so I brought her bread and butter as Julie began asking her what had happened. Julie was Latina, charismatic, and spoke Spanish as her first language. The woman warmed and opened up as she spoke with Julie.

I felt that they would be more comfortable in private so I left them and grabbed the phone in the office. No one picked up the emergency line for the hospital, so I gave up and called the police instead. They told me they would send a unit by soon.

I went to update Julie and hoped that things weren't how they looked. They were. In addition to the bad ankle, her speech was slurred and she had a long red mark on her face that she earlier tried to hide with her hair. She eventually opened up and said that the man had been beating her and she didn’t want to return.

What to do?

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