Friday, December 29, 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's what you DO that really counts

I've said it before and I'll surely say it again: I have no interest in religion, and my life's experience tells me most so-called "religious" folks are selfish, sadistic assholes.

Now that I have said that, consider this: Most of the people who did kind things for me while I traveled are vocal Christians. They are awesome people who honestly care for their fellow human. They gave me rides, they gave me food, they gave me money, and they gave me things I cannot possibly put into words.

However, thousands and thousands of other Christians (and non-Christians, to be fair) passed me by without even thinking about picking me up or even checking to see if I'd died of hypothermia or anything else like that. They just didn't care.

My point is that the majority of them were Christians, and as Christians they take comfort in their belief that their sins will be forgiven. They rest assured that believing in a god and being a Christian somehow makes them better, more deserving, more important than some guy freezing his ass off next to the on-ramp.

Meanwhile, someone else--maybe a Christian, maybe an Atheist--is just around the corner or 30 minutes from encountering the shivering, exhausted vagabond. They have no idea what's going to happen in the coming minutes, but when it does happen, they stop and find out how they can help the poor soul. It's not because they believe in a god or because they don't believe in a god; it's because they have a kind heart.

It's not what you believe that makes you a good person or a bad person. It's not what you say that makes you a good person or a bad person. That stuff doesn't mean shit. It's what you do that counts. And when you do good things for people, it makes you a good person.

I've always tried to do good things for people, but now I know how I can do even more good things for people, so I will. And if I fail, it's on me, and I'll have to seek forgiveness from myself, not some invisible man up in the sky.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A reasonably heavy load

I just weighed myself, both with and without the stuff I've been carrying around for the last six weeks, to see how much weight I've been lugging. Without the bags, I weigh about 167 lbs. And with the bags, I weigh about 211 lbs. So it looks like I've been carrying about 44 pounds of stuff on my shoulders.

The extra weight really did not affect me much except in the beginning, when my body just wasn't used to it. And most of the weight was in a duffle bag slung over only one shoulder, which made it much tougher to carry than if I'd had a more ergonomic backpack that distributes the weight over more areas of my body. That's cool for a couple reasons: 1) Because I had too many shirts, adding a lot of unnecessary weight, and 2) Because I most certainly will use a more ergonomic backpack and better shoes when I head out again in a few months.

There won't be any hitchhiking, motel rooms, or emergency credit cards the next time, either, which will make things considerably more difficult than the trip I just finished. However, the weather will be warmer, so I will be able to sleep outside whenever I have nowhere to stay. I can't wait.

I have learned so much, in so many different ways, over the last six weeks. I can't even begin to explain, but I'll try once I start writing about my experiences.

Message boards

I think I am going to just get rid of the Aimless Forums. No one reads them or participates, and spammers have found their way to them, so I just spent a while deleting a bunch of spam posts.

Screw that.

Back in Ohio

I am home. Wow, what an adventure!!!

I made my way from southern California all the way to Nashville before taking a bus from Nashville to Cincinnati, arriving in Cincinnati at about 5:30 AM on Christmas morning. My brother picked me up at the Greyhound station in Cinci, then let me get a few hours of sleep on his couch before we headed to Grandma & Grandpa's house near Dayton, where no one expected to see me. Needless to say, my presence was a huge surprise to everyone.

I have pages and pages to write about the last leg of my journey--from California to Ohio--and I also have to make some major changes to the rest of the Aimless web site, so keep an eye out. I really want to edit and post some video stuff soon, but I have over 20 hours of video from my trip across the country and back. It will likely take a while to watch all the video, classify everything, edit things, and a whole bunch of other stuff, but I'll be working on it. I hope y'all will enjoy it.

I cannot possibly describe how much pain and joy I've experienced over the last several weeks, but I now know I'm doing the right thing. I can't wait to get out and do it for real, maybe beginning in the spring of 2007 (perhaps March or April).

So much to say. Check back soon.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Heading east

Jeff and I went to Los Angeles a couple nights ago. Didn't really do anything, though. We just spent a couple hours at a Fry's Electronics Megazoo about 20 miles east of LA, then drove into downtown LA on I-10. From there we took the 101 into Hollywood, getting off on Santa Monica Boulevard. We followed Santa Monica Boulevard all the way to Santa Monica, then turned right on Ocean Avenue for a couple blocks before heading back east via I-10, I-405, and I-210.

More to say about that later, maybe. Actually, there may not be anything to say because I've already described everything pretty thoroughly. Yeah, I didn't see much. Didn't even get out of the car. Even though I was only feet from the Pacific Ocean, I never saw it or even heard it. Not exactly what I would have done, had I been driving or navigating.

Oh well, I'll be back someday.

I am now getting ready to leave California. Was planning to leave no later than Wednesday, but that just didn't happen. My sincere thanks go out to Jeff, Don, and Dave for putting me up, feeding me, and showing me around the last couple weeks. You guys are awesome!


Monday, December 11, 2006

Otis Gunn

I talked to my buddy Otis yesterday. Otis is an interesting, eccentric individual. I believe he is about 56 years old. I met him a little over two years ago at the New York Pizza Show.

Otis spends winters in Quartzsite, Arizona. After at least a couple years of planning, he has recently finished equipping his pizza trailer, which I believe he calls "The Pizza Wheel." He keeps it stationed near the flea market in Quartzsite, and he sells slices and pies to the flea market's visitors. Like me, Otis taught himself everything he knows about pizza.

You don't think that is very interesting, huh? Well, dig this.

If you met Otis, you'd likely think he is poor or not very well off because he is a very humble kind of person. He is a regular dude with a heavy Macon, Georgia accent. You'd never suspect that Otis is a millionaire. At least that is the best description I can come up with. All I know is that Otis has more money than he needs. I suspect he is a multimillionaire, but I have not asked him about the specifics. In fact, I know more than I ever wanted to know. Y'see, when Otis came to Columbus earlier this year, we went to Mac's Cafe for dinner and some beers. Well, the beers really opened Otis up, and he started talking about things that confirmed my suspicions. While we chatted, he casually mentioned how he could hypothetically buy some shopping center for a couple million and try to attract this store and that store.

That was more information than I ever needed to know. That kind of knowledge is not good for friendships. And I think shortly after that event, I started seeing Otis as OTI$, even though I tried very hard not to see him that way. I think Otis felt the change, too. Consequently, our communication has been very limited the last 10 months.

I think I am over all that. Although I sure would like for Otis to invest in one of my visions--either Aimless or "Ryan's Imaginary Pizzeria"--I don't see the dollar signs anymore when I think of Otis. The fact is, I thought of Otis as a buddy--a like mind--long before I knew he was loaded. I thought of Otis as a pal even when I thought he was essentially poor.

Well, I'll be leaving California in a couple days. Once I find a ride, I'll be in Quartzsite within a few hours, as it is a couple hundred miles east of here. I plan to stop and see Otis and his pizza trailer; maybe spend the night in Quartzsite. Also, I think maybe I'd like to come back out this way in January and work for Otis, if possible.

I'd also like to spend some time with Otis in the warmer months, if he ends up doing what I think he wants to do. I think Otis plans to hit the road with the pizza trailer, working festivals and just finding towns in which he might sell some pizzas for a day or two. Otis is my Aimless kin, and I really expect him to end up as a very present character in the ultimate product.

Otis is one of the interesting people. You don't know anyone like Otis, which will be evident once you "meet" him.

Surely I will have more to say about Otis before long, and you can bet I will post some footage of him when I get home.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Blood Diamond

"Those Guys" took me to see Blood Diamond tonight. It was good.

I will never buy a diamond for anyone. That has nothing to do with my having seen Blood Diamond, but it is related to the things that inspired Blood Diamond. So if there is anyone out there thinking you might want to marry me someday or something like that, I won't buy you a diamond, OK. My conscience won't allow me, just as my conscience won't allow me to EVER shop at Wal-Mart.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Centralia, Missouri

While looking at some of my video footage last night, I was disappointed to realize I missed something that may have made for some good viewing. It occurred in Centralia, Missouri, before I'd split from Patrick and Co. (I'll call them "The Truck Crew" for now on).

We were at a Seventh Day Adventist boarding school in the middle of nowhere, watching their boys' basketball team play a game against a team of home-school kids. Sometime in about the middle of the game, the home-school coach was given a double technical foul for being a dick, I guess. Then, with only about 2:00 left in the game and the home team up 57-30, he threw another fit. He ended up stomping off the court like a little bitch and forfeiting the game.

What a terrific role model!!!

Unfortunately I missed it. Even though I had the camera rolling, I was unaware of what was going on, so I just wasn't taping his outburst. Too bad, because it would have been pretty good stuff.

Earlier, during the game, I was kind of checking out some lady I assumed was the mother of a player. After the coach's outburst, I realized that the youngish mom was the brat coach's wife (as well as the mother of a 7th grader who played for the home-school girls' team).

I had the feeling Mommy was checking me out, too. And judging by the maturity level of her husband, I suspect she would have been willing to get down and dirty with me if the circumstances had allowed the possibility for such an event. Normally I wouldn't even think about messing around with a married woman or a seriously involved woman, mostly out of respect for the person she's with, but I think this lady could have talked me into fucking her for a couple days straight, particularly because her husband was such a dickwad.

Anyway, I probably will never post any footage of this event because I just didn't get the good stuff. However, I might post a few seconds of the coach's wife, if there is any clear footage of her.


Friday, December 08, 2006

The Rainforest Cafe

The Sugar Daddies took me to some mall/outlet mall in Ontario yesterday, where we ate at a joint called The Rainforest Cafe. Apparently there are about 30 of these restaurants in various cities around the country, so you may have been to one before.

Anyway, what a ripoff. Subpar food at very high prices. Basically it is snack bar food ranging from about $12 to $20 per entree. There are no extras in this restaurant to justify its outrageous prices, either. Just a stupid, expensive, fake jungle with annoying animatronic apes making a bunch of noise every 10 or 15 minutes. I have a feeling this company's shareholders are going to realize in about five or ten years that they've made a completely stupid investment. There just is nothing in this overpriced concept that would make the average customer return after their initial curiosity visit.

I certainly won't be back. But I'd love to be the guy to help them fix their doomed operation when it starts collapsing. So if there are any Rainforest Cafe execs out there reading this, puzzled about why your company's profits are declining (which may not be happening yet, but will), give me a call. I'll fix it for you. I'll fix it before it starts happening. What do you have to lose?


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Third strike

My mom called me yesterday to find out where I am, what I'm planning, and stuff like that. My response was that I'm still at Jeff's house in Beaumont, California and I have no plans. (Remember, I am aimless.) I asked her if I've received any mail that looks like it might have a check inside. She said no. All I've received is something from the folks at NAPICS (a pizza trade show in Columbus).

Well, I'll tell y'all something: This is the third time I've been fucked over by someone--that is, not paid for my work--after going way out of my way to do someone a huge favor that no one else would do for them.

I hope you're reading this, Patrick Johnson, because I don't want to sic the IRS on you. But if you don't pay me $250 for the 30-50 hours I worked for you a few weeks ago, you're gonna pay a much heavier price in some other way. Y'see, you haven't obeyed labor laws or tax laws or safety laws or probably dozens of other laws I can't even think of, and you don't have enough power to get away with it. So Patrick Johnson, even though I have nothing against you personally, I am about to report your actions to every agency that matters unless I get a check from you really fucking soon. And maybe you don't believe me, but it will end up costing you a lot more than the $250 I have demanded for my work. You might think of yourself as a republican or libertarian, Patrick, but only real businesspeople receive the kind of unregulated freedom you apparently expect with your illegal business ventures. Conversely, nobodies like yourself must live within reality and face consequences after breaking the law. So do you want to do this the easy way or the hard way? It's your choice. I'm not fucking around here.

And John Hetrick of Columbus, Ohio: You owe me for the work I did for you this past summer at your drive-thru (Arcade Drive-Thru on Snouffer Road, near Sawmill). Originally I calculated the wages you owe me at about $250, but that was several months ago. So after interest and some other reasonable adjustments, John Hetrick, I figure you owe me about $450. And if I don't receive it soon after I send you a letter about it, I will sic the dogs on you, too.

Same thing goes for you, Stella Royce and Todd Royce of Sonny's Pizza in North Charleston, South Carolina. You fucked me over real good, and I want what's mine. Nothing more, nothing less. You owe me $500, after interest and inflation, Stella. And yes, I still expect it after nearly a year and a half. You can find my mailing address on the Aimless contact page.

I have a good heart and it's in my nature to try to help people who need my help, but I've learned a lot from my experiences with these three parties. Principally I've learned that most people in these situations put themselves in these situations. They did it by being greedy and fucking people over, and they never learn from their mistakes. Well, when you fuck me over, you're not just going to get away with it, folks. And although my current status with you three entities is "fucked over," I've learned a lot from the experience. Mainly I've learned not to try to help people like you, so I simply won't do it again. The experiences have empowered me, even if I never see the money I'm owed.

What was that? Learning from mistakes? Yeah, I do it all the time. Y'all should give it a try, too.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thai cuisine in Palm Springs

The Boys and I went to Palm Springs this evening. They took me to a Thai restaurant, which kind of scared me because I had never eaten Thai before. I was afraid I wouldn't like anything on the menu. Well, I tried the stuff and I liked it; I really liked it.

Normally I don't like sweet stuff on meat, like barbecue sauce or any of the other sweet sauces or goops some people use to contaminate their once-delicious beef or chicken or whatever. This was different, though. The sauces at this Thai restaurant were kind of sweet but not overpowering. I could taste the sauce, but I could still taste the flavor of the meat. Additionally, the kitchen staff obviously knows how to cook the various meats, because the meats were juicy and flavorful, with the sauces adding a new dimension to the flavor.

Tonight's episode is one of the many reasons I need to do Aimless. Not only am I gaining immense emotional wealth through this journey, but I am also being forced to open myself to so many new things, like Thai cuisine. Even if I never make a cent from this project, I will have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams because Aimless is helping me become the person I need to be. I am free, and I'm only getting freer. I only wish y'all could experience this feeling.

Oh yeah, and I shaved my beard a couple days ago. I'm still not used to seeing my face and the new shape of my face. I look so funny now, but it's so much easier not having a big, fluffy, ragged beard.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Shakey's Pizza

Jeff and Co. treated me to Shakey's Pizza last night, which I'd only had once previously, in about 1999. I was hoping to eat at Shakey's sometime during my journey for a couple reasons: 1) I wanted to try it again to see if it is as good as I remember it; and 2) I received an e-mail not long ago from a visitor to the Aimless Pizza Page who wanted to know if I knew how to replicate Shakey's Pizza. So now that I have tasted Shakey's again, I have some ideas about how I might replicate it. However, I have not had a chance to try yet.

After dinner at Shakey's, we all headed to the movies to see Casino Royale. I'm not really what you'd call a James Bond fan, but I guess it was a good movie.

That's all for now. I'm sure I have a million things to say, and they'll probably all come out at the same time, so keep an eye out for the next entry.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Short entry

I've been sick for a few days. Fortunately I've been able to stay at Jeff's house during that time.

I have a fat, thick beard. It will be gone later today.

I think Michigan is probably a better team than Florida, but Michigan already had their chance against the Buckeyes, and they didn't win. So even though I really don't like Florida, I think they belong in the national championship game ahead of Michigan because they haven't already had a shot at the Buckeyes. We'll see how it turns out in a few hours.

Don't know when I'll start heading back east. I'm out of my medication, but I'm dealing with it OK.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Some people and stuff

I want to mention a few people who have helped me so far or who have been interesting enough to get the camera rolling.

First I want to mention Dennis Cox, who is the first person to ever pick me up while hitchhiking. He stopped to pick me up in Richfield, Utah, and gave me a ride to Cedar City, where he lives. We had some interesting conversations during the ride. He said it was his first time picking up a hitchhiker, and that he actually passed me by before circling around to pick me up. Thanks, Dennis.

Next up is Tony Parra. Tony is the truck driver based out of Cedar City, Utah who took me to Vegas. He was heading to Los Angeles when he picked me up. In his Mexican accent (and my paraphrasing), he told me he stopped because he thought I was a chick. He told me I was welcome to accompany him all the way to LA if I wanted to, that he would be heading back through Vegas that night. I thought about going all the way to LA, but I ended up having him drop me off on I-15, underneath the Tropicana overpass. I then walked from I-15 & Trop to UNLV/Maryland Parkway. Thanks, Tony.

One interesting person I met in Vegas is Joe Sacco. Joe is an activist for the homeless. Not only does he do things to help the homeless, but he also lives a simple life, not unlike the homeless. I got some some really good footage of him as he did some dumpster diving behind Einstein's Bagels near UNLV. He is one of many people who knows Einstein's dumps two bags of perfectly edible bagels every day. And like the others, he took what he needed and left the rest of it in good condition. Keep an eye out for some of this footage.

Another great person I met is Adam, the overnight bartender at Cheers. I don't know Adam's last name, even though he has e-mailed me, but Adam is also a professor or an instructor at, I believe, the UNLV Department of Film. He showed me some important things about the camera I am using and was generally a friendly guy. In his e-mail to me, he said he'd like me to make him some pizza. I said it would not be possible at this time but that I'd like to do it maybe next time I get to Vegas. Thanks for the help and great service, Adam.

The last person I want to mention right now is Hamilton Chase Titus. Hamilton was kind enough to let me crash on his couch the first night I was in Vegas, even though he just met me that night. He kind of drove me nuts for a few hours because he was really, really drunk, but he is a good guy and I appreciate his kindness. I have some interesting footage of Hamilton drunk. Maybe it will make the cut for the Aimless Trial Run. Thanks, Hamilton.

Thanks, everyone. I hope you're all keeping up with Aimless.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Boy I need a laptop

There is so much to talk about right now because I have had such an incredible, exhausting experience the last couple weeks. However, because I am borrowing a computer, I'll keep it pretty short.

I intended to spend maybe a couple days in Vegas before heading back toward Ohio, but I ended up staying there for about 9 days, I think. During my stay, there were a couple nights that I didn't have anywhere to sleep and didn't want to waste energy or money on getting a hotel/motel room, so I hung out at Cheers (bar) all night. I want to thank the bartender, Quincy, for putting up with me and letting me get a little nap one of those nights.

I ran out of money in Vegas (don't ask), but a couple people were kind enough to give me some before I headed back out on the road. First a bartender at the Freak'n Frog, Bonnie, gave me five dollars from her night's tips. Then Eric Johnson, a guy I used to know when I lived in Vegas (but not very well), slipped two twenties into my bag after he gave me a ride to Tropicana and 95, where I tried to find a ride out of town. Now that's just kindness beyond what anyone could expect, and I appreciate it immensely.

After Eric dropped me off near the Tropicana on-ramp, I waited four and a half hours for a ride before finally realizing I wasn't going to get a ride there, so I started walking south (off the highway). I figured Tropicana was a horrible place to get a ride because it's all local traffic. After a couple miles of walking, I made it to Sunset Road, where I caught a bus to Sunset Station hotel & casino and got a room for the night.

I ended up staying at Sunset Station for three nights before finally getting back on the road. (That will never happen with the real Aimless.) When I finally tried to catch a ride away from there two days ago, it was cold and very windy--cold and windy enough to keep me from standing on the on-ramp for very long. So I got me some food at In-N-Out Burger and warmed up. I then went back out to the on-ramp to try again, but after about 15 minutes of cold, heavy wind in my face, I walked to the Chevron station and kept from loitering by putting a buck into the penny poker machine. I'd hoped I might find a ride from the gas station, but it didn't happen.

Then it occurred to me: I'd seen a bus turning from Sunset onto 95 while I was trying to get a ride. The bus said "402" on it. So I asked the Chevron employee if they had any bus information. They did. I found the page with the 402 information and learned that the 402 bus goes to Boulder City, so I was out the door, looking to catch me a 402 bus.

The bus was late, but it arrived. It took me to Boulder City and I found an overpriced cheap motel room. I walked down the street to a retaurant/bar called Tony's, where I ordered some food and talked to my buddy Jeff on the phone. See, Jeff was coming back west from Maine, and he was in Arizona at the time. Jeff and his friend Don ended up meeting me at Tony's, where we hung out for a bit and got some more video footage of stuff. Then we all went to my motel room and shot the shit for a while.

Eventually Jeff and Don headed out, back toward California, but they were back within ten minutes. They were tired, and they thought I'd offered to let them stay in my room, so they decided to come back and check about it. I said no problem, and they stayed with me two nights ago. We all left my motel room together for some breakfast/lunch before deciding where Jeff and Don might take me.

I knew it was coming. I knew I was going to end up in California with Jeff and Don, instead of Hoover Dam or Kingman, Arizona, where I would look for a ride eastward. So here I am in Beaumont, California. We got here yesterday afternoon and haven't really done anything yet. I don't know how long I'll be here, and I don't really care. I am just about out of my medication and I was supposed to see the doctor three days ago, but I'm doing all right. I didn't take any pills yesterday and I haven't taken any today, but I think it's easier than some of the other stuff I've put myself through so far.

One thing I've learned is that I really need a laptop before I set out to do the real Aimless. If I can't update this blog more frequently, then I'll lose people's interest. So I think I might find a part-time, temporary job whenever I get home, to save up for things like a laptop.

Well, I guess that is it for now.

Until next time... Ryan