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Survival School: Day 20
Aug 3, 2007, 11:48p - Life

Day 4 of SOLO

Super-clear day today - finally, I can just bake in the sun. Feel like a lizard. Not doing much - just lazying around my home, not really exploring. Didn't even try to make fire today - it'll come when it comes, you know.

Self-portrait on day 20, after 2.5 days of (virtually) no human contact

Clear blue sky, first really clear day on solo

Moved my stuff so I could bake in the sun

Coolest-looking tree on my plot - looks like it's been struck by lightning

Beautiful singed bark

Beautiful golden bark

Bark & oak

Tried a new strategy for heating my first meal of the day - used sun to heat water (sort of), filled cup w/ couscous, lentils, carrots, garlic, onions, & vegetable bullion, & placed on some hot rocks that had been baked by the sun. Must have left it for 2-3 hours - food cooked a bit better (more water absorbed), but temp. still only lukewarm - still tasty though.

An attempt at heating my breakfast on sun-baked rocks - I succeeded in getting my food lukewarm

When I get home, I'm going to go down each aisle of the supermarket & try everything I've never tried before - get the true variety of taste experience. I'm going to really need to make time for food.

Finished the TB book - overall OK, not excellent & I wouldn't really recommend it. Lots of animal traps, but plant & philosophy sections are really weak. Did learn a bit though. Once I've mastered fire, I think Becca & I should take week-long trips into the forest w/ the minimal survival pack - knife, cup, matches, water bottles, blanket, tarp, some clothes - and then make it on our own, finding food, water, & shelter. Wouldn't have to hike too much - I just want to show Becca what I've learned, & give her a taste of the experience too. Don't need to pay anyone after this - I can just go and do it on my own. Sounds liberating, doesn't it? Knowing that if you need to, you can leave civilization and live off the land. Not that I really could do it comfortably, but it's possible. That is the alternative lifestyle. Not that I would be satisfied w/ it - I crave intellectual stimulation while I'm out here - I crave the good conversation, doing research, reading papers, reading non-fiction books, crave that knowledge. I really did crave that today, as I spent an hour or so thinking about BCS [Brain & Cognitive Science @ MIT] & the possible research I could do. Flip back a couple pages to see the ideas, all about perception & how that works.

Man, I've changed a lot in the past 9 years since I graduated from high school. How have I changed?

(1) I became social. Thanks to college & working as a PM [product manager], I can pretty much go up to anyone, strike up a conversation, & have a good time doing it. Not that I always want to, but it's a capacity I really lacked in high school, where I could only really talk to my closest friends, & only w/in certain contexts (school, sports). Along w/ this came the ability to talk to women & go on dates, flirt, etc. That was impossible in high school. Basically, I've broken our of my first shell - I still think there's a second shell enclosing me, one that more acting classes will help me break out of, I think.

(2) I now value understanding more than building/executing/doing. If you would have told me 9 years ago that I would be getting my PhD now, I would have laughed @ you. Research = boring! I have so many ideas. I must learn how to build them! Research is for boring, anti-social losers! Amazing how learning how to build & actually building for several years changed that in me. Don't get me wrong, building is critical for understanding, but it's no longer primary. What's powerful & rare is the theory, the idea - millions can build once the idea is available, implanted, but few can actually conceive of that liberating idea! Of course there's still a process, but a powerful idea can stand on its own and free the minds of millions. Google is a testament to that - it's the ideas, the research, the stuff that most people do not understand, that is critical to its impact & success & protection from competition. Building is also critical, but building w/o the right theory is like building Yahoo - lots of products, few of outstanding quality. Now I read research papers for fun. Now I regret not taking more physics in college, more math. Now I'm trying to move into the "hardcore" category, where true understanding is held by few, but it's true understanding in these fields that will elicit breakthroughs that otherwise may never occur for a long while. Academia is also much more collegiate than the corporate world - work is published for the public good, unlike in corporations where knowledge & discoveries are locked up for private consumption only. Business dynamics are difficult in each world, but corps are far too private than they need to be.

Ate rest of pinole before first meal, licked the bag clean - who ever thought ground corn & barley could be so good - and it lasts so long. First meal good. I'm convinced the raw onions (or something) are working as a laxative, as I had to take another shit (#7) this evening. It's all relatively solid (no diarrhea), but the urge to go is ever-present. Baked in the sun after lunch. Discovered ant colony w/ ant embryos in soft cases. I first thought they were peanuts - seems these ants have wings when they are born, which they shed. Did some mindfulness meditation, & just watched the sky as if it were a TV, clouds always in motion. Took a nap. Noticed a large nest in a tree near mine - 30 ft off the ground, at least 2' x 2' x 1/2'. Don't know what lives (lived?) in it - throwing a rock up there doesn't seem quite right. Clouds converge - overcast, thunder begins, rain starts to sprinkle down. Cover my stuff, retreat to home for shelter. Ate the Fiji apple they gave us that I've been saving for 3 days. So damn juicy, best apple I've ever had, got to find these @ home. Laid down, thought about my brain research. Made connection between tongue seeing and synesthetes [people who's senses are crossed, e.g. they see colors when they read letters, see colors when they hear sounds]. Ate most of GORP. Prepared oats. Knocked down cairns & refilled water by the river. Still hearing strange bubbling/popping sound all around - don't know what's making it. No people interruptions today. Lots of creatures in the sky - some sound like Nerf guns firing by. Heard some ATVs on the trail. More meditation - touched my whole body w/ my mind so it was tingling, & tried to reach Becca @ home, @ Emily's, in downtown WC, in LA @ Mom's, in LA @ Dad's, in old town Pasadena. Never quite sure I made contact. Tried to sleep, but turned out sun wasn't setting for another 4 hours, even though it was so dark due to the storm clouds. Eventually set. Tried sleeping w/o burrito but too cold so made a makeshift one in the middle of the night. Some rain, lots of dreams (see previous pages [yesterday's post], which I wrote down in the moonlight so I wouldn't forget).

I think I'm ready to go home.

[an interlude]

Classes to take
* Human Surgery (Harvard Med School?)
* All BCS classes
* All classes taught by Whitman Richards
* Math classes, generally
* EE classes, specifically signal processing
* CS classes, specifically on the theory of computation & (object, voice, text) recognition & generation & robotics & AI & computer graphics & graph theory.
* Physics classes, specifically on electricity, magnetism, light (optics), & quantum mechanics & relativity & cosmology & tools (fMRI, TMS, etc.) <- Applied Physics
* Chemistry classes, specifically related to neurochemistry
* Biology classes, specifically related to the nervous system
* Acting classes
* Flying classes
* Linguistics classes, generally
* Philosophy classes, specifically about mind & free will & consciousness
* Statistics classes, specifically Bayes & anything hardcore & strange
* Chemical Eng classes, specifically related to drug development that acts on the brain (pharmacology)

- Architecture
- Design & Art
- Aero/Astro
- Enviro/Eco
- English
- Anthro/Archaeo
- History
- Mech E
- Civil E
- Foreign Lang (Hindi excepted)
- Humanities
- Business
- Econ

[written on days 20 & 21]

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