Hebocon is a robot contest for people with no skill. It’s a 32 player contest in which people are penalized for trying too hard or using proper technology. One of the previous year’s winners actually apologized for winning because the thought maybe he tried ‘too hard to win’.
Check out these amazingly horrible, but hilarious robots:
Despite many adventures, my Oregon bucket list never seems to shrink. As soon as I knock an item or two off, it grows by 5 more. Last year saw horseback riding with Kiger mustangs and summitting the snow-covered Steens mountains. It also saw me hot-spring soaking and finding pianos on the playa of the Alvord Desert. This year is shaping up to knock another item off my list: staying at one of the few remaining mountaintop fire watch towers.
Due to their harsh and remote locations, fewer than 20 are left in Oregon and many are only open short portions of the year. Reservations are required, and getting a reservation is hard as they are almost always booked solid for the 6 month window of dates the moment they become available. One must diligently visit the reservation site very early every morning (east coast time no less) when dates are opened. After getting one of the rare reservations last year, I was thwarted when the road to the Lake of the Woods tower washed out and closed it for almost all of 2017 and 2018. This year, after about 2 months of on and off trying, I managed to get a 4 day reservation for the exceptional Gold Butte lookout. It’s located via hike out onto the summit of the butte and is known for having some of the most spectacular views of all the watchtowers.
It’s also a historic building. It was originally built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and usually manned by a married couple. During WW II, it was part of the Aircraft Warning System as an early invasion watchtower. In the 1970/80’s it was heavily damaged by carpenter ants. It might have been demolished like other towers if not for the efforts of the Sand Mountain Society – a fire tower preservation and restoration group. They painstakingly numbered pieces then rebuilt and replaced damaged sections exactly as it was first built, making a stay there almost exactly as it would have been in the 30’s.
Staying at one of the fire towers requires that you backpack in everything you need: water, food, and supplies. Firewood, a bed, table, fire stove, pit toilet and a few small items are provided – but there is no power, no phones, and it’s miles to your nearest neighbor. During the day you can read, hike, swim or fish at the nearby lake, or greet other hikers visiting the summit. The evenings you can watch the unbelievable sunsets and cook in the woodburning stove, then drift to sleep miles from civilization.
I’m personally looking forward to it more than my next trip abroad. I can’t wait.
Remember the end of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives where Megan and Tommy manage to trap Jason in the bottom of Crystal Lake? Well, it seems that some random person has recreated this scene by planting a Jason statue, complete with mask and machete, 120 feet deep in a Minnesotan lake that is supposedly very popular with divers!
Farrell Monaco is an archeologist and cook. She has combined these two loves by trying to recreate foods of the ancient world. Above is ‘panis quadratus’, a recreation of breads that were found in Pompeii. That wasn’t her only analysis and re-creation. Check out her other experiments of eating like the ancients on her website Tavola Mediterranea.
Astronomical clock in Prague sees 600 years in 10 minutes
When you’re in college, many people fantasize about getting a ‘travel job’. Well, now that I’m in my 40’s, I’ve done a lot of business travel over the years. Most of the time I have at least one overseas trip a year – sometimes two. I also have any number of domestic flights – maybe 5-10. That’s about the max I’m happy with. It seems very romantic to travel for work, but in the end, it’s really work you’re there to do. You might get a few hours a night after work – but that’s not the time many things are open – or the sun even up if it’s winter.
There were times, however, when I was flying once every week for months on end. That is a completely different thing. You start entering this different state of living – a sort of half-living in an altered state. You waking wherever you are with just what fits in a day pack, run to an airport, parking and security, flying somewhere, eating airplane and hotel food, then perhaps catch a brief nap while flying. Then you wake again – on a plane this time – what city? What time zone? Then collect your stuff and unload, rental car and transit to the site where your day really starts. Work 8 hours with new folks while the clock ticks on you until it’s time to leave for the airport or maybe a hotel. Everything is institutional and commercial – with fancy designer metal, leather, 800 count bed sheets and hotel restaurant food – all pretending to be like a home. Maybe you work another day, then it’s in the rental, return to the airport and figure out returns. Getting to the terminal, security, and a flight back home. Another brief chance at rest before you unload as you awake – where again? What time? Collect things, unload, take airport transit to your car, then home. Home? Is it just another room?
One of the best clips that captures the experience is from the movie Fight Club:
But now there is a new player. The video for the song ‘Let It Happen’ by Tame Impala does another great job. It appears to be about a business traveler that is having a heart attack, but it captures that constant sense of going to sleep and not knowing where you’ll wake up next. I found it fascinating. I think there is something interesting here that might make for a good writing/art project…
While Americans are carving pumpkins and buying candy for trick-or-treaters, the Japanese are preparing for Halloween a little differently. Horror-lovers are paying to get chased by pirate- and clown-zombies in Osaka. And folks over in Tokyo‘s Shibuya Crossing are prepping for a celebration akin to New Year’s Eve in Times Square, only with bloody nurses and Power Rangers. The country truly goes all out for the holiday—but that wasn’t always the case. Just 25 years ago, Japanese Halloween celebrations were mysterious, borderline illegal, and could only be found in one very unexpected place: the subway.
It was the late 1980s, and the closest thing to Halloween in Japan was a spooky season of festivals honoring the dead during August. No one celebrated the candy- and costumed-filled holiday in October except for foreigners living in the country, who suffered from a lack of themed bar nights and parties to go to. So a group of young expats took matters into their own hands, which essentially consisted of them taking over Tokyo’s subway for an hour around Halloween. The strange, boozy, underground costume party soon became known as the “Yamanote Halloween Train” and gained notoriety by the early ’90s as the most disorderly Halloween bash around. The organizers were always unknown.
The event was anything but consistent, but the basic idea was for attendees to board the Yamanote Line and ride its entire loop around the edge of Tokyo (about one hour), hopping from car to car between each of the 29 stops. Judging from videos of the 1994 ride, it seemed to be a mix between NYC’s Santa Con and a nightclub Stefan would pitch on SNL’s Weekend Update. (It. Has. Everything.) People dressed as ’90s TV characters cram onto subway cars with open containers of booze, spray each other with silly string, and crawl up onto the train’s luggage racks. Partiers shout the station names as the train makes each stop, which is the only discernible sound punctuating the steady stream of cheers.
Not all the local commuters took kindly to the disruptive spectacle. And things only grew rowdier with each annual ride, reaching levels of near-unmanageability by the early 2000s.
Here’s some videos from those early days:
Sadly, it appears the festivities became overrun by douche-bags and turned into a really ugly party by foreigners. It has gone through years where there were angry responses by locals – which I think was well deserved after watching footage of what seems to be now just an annoying, drunken bro-fest on commuter trains of people just trying to get home. So, again, maybe it’s time to read up on ‘How to not be an ugly traveler‘ tips.
It now appears that the train parties have been replaced with massive street parties in Shibuya. However, sadly, it also turns into quite a trash-fest. But in true Japanese style, volunteers are the ones who come to clean up the mess.
I recently took a trip to the Steens Mountains and Alvord Desert in the extreme southeast corner Oregon for a week. On my way, I took a little side trip and stopped by Brownsville, OR. The reason I stopped? Major scenes of the movie Stand By Me were filmed there.
Despite the movie being 31 years old, this movie is an icon of my childhood. It hearkened me back to a time when I wasn’t absorbed in digital entertainment and still had adventures in real life with real friends with real tree forts and camping adventures.
The city still has a majority of the locations easily spotted right on the main drag. The town is very tiny – only 1 or 2 main streets really and a central core that’s about 1000 feet square. Spotting all the sites can be done in just a small 20 minute stroll. Seeing all the sites in town can easily be done in a couple of hours (depending on how long you want to stroll around).
Here’s a really good guide if you’re planning on making a trip.