On Being Alone

Something about the way a river trip starts. Gear gets thrown in, arranged, tied down, and when the current picks you up and carries you downstream, your sense of time and distance immediately changes. Connection to the other 7 billion or so people on the planet loosens, and connection to something even bigger, and in […]

solo-campSomething about the way a river trip starts. Gear gets thrown in, arranged, tied down, and when the current picks you up and carries you downstream, your sense of time and distance immediately changes. Connection to the other 7 billion or so people on the planet loosens, and connection to something even bigger, and in ways smaller, more intimate, takes hold.

Last week I was on the Green River where it flows through the canyonlands of southeast Utah. For five days I paddled a canoe, which I prefer as a craft, a simple vessel, no frame or pump, no cockpit into which you must burrow, the lower half of your body truncated at the hips. When the current picked me up and carried me downstream, I was alone. I came without a group, no one to call for help, no one to call at all.

Alone, every breath and movement becomes conversation. Every spin of the water, every slow step of cliffs has something to say.

Loneliness can be a problem. A meta-analysis of 148 studies involving more than 300,000 participants suggests “a 50% increased likelihood of survival for participants with stronger social relationships.” In a 2010 study, how a person scores on a loneliness chart appears to predict higher blood pressure. That is, loneliness might be deadly. But loneliness and alone are two different experiences. Choosing to be alone is not the same as being forced into it. Solitude may be unhealthy in the long run, known to be physically detrimental later in age, but it is medicine and has its place.

I grunt more alone. One tone for satisfaction, another for dismay or frustration. There is a grunt for surprise, one for amazement, and one for small joys like a damselfly landing on my paddle blade or the jaden carapace of a beetle floating by.

An only child who grew up with a single mother who worked days and sometimes nights, I made more than peace with being alone. I hungered for it. After school, I’d hop fences and explore fields, finding places I thought no one had ever found. Sometimes I’d go with friends, but they talked, or they stopped or did not stop or asked me to carry something or wanted to go someplace else when I knew exactly where I wanted to be. Spoiled. Self-absorbed. Introverted. I’m sure there are many names. Does not play well with others. In fact, hardly plays with them at all, skirting around the treacherous games of four-square and tether ball at recess, heading out as far from the schoolyard as I was allowed to go.

My friends who work the rivers out here, driving shuttles, pick ups and drop offs on the water, call people like me “solo geeks.” They are the people who either no one will go with, or they have simply realized their happiest place, which is taking some time when no one else is around.

evening-view-on-the-green

Little gear, no stove, quick camps, I moved down the river feeling like a shadow. I could go anywhere. I’d pull over my canoe and tie it to shore, heading up side-canyons on foot, exploring the boundaries of my own urges. I found rhythms in breathing and motion, the way the sun moved, shadows shrinking and growing. I thought about rattlesnakes more than if I’d been with people who could care for me. I thought about snapping my leg under a shifting boulder, and how far it was back to the river. In this way, my senses were sharpened.

I found small rock-cairns on these old routes that I’d bee using for decades, and some I’d knock down to try and erase this place. Take it off the map. Let only journeyers, route-sniffers find the way. I know it’s useless. The cairns will be rebuilt. Trails will form. We so much want to be together, to fill a room wall to wall; we want to know we’re not alone.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a complete hermit. I like the way ravens preen each other, the thoughtful, intimate touches, the way their beaks sometimes rest against each other. But how striking is the one alone in the sky, cut out of a shadow and suspended above the earth.

When I was tired of walking in the desert heat, I found a piece of shade under a rock overhang. It was just big enough for me to curl up in, where I tucked myself like a small animal and fell asleep.

When I got back to the river later in the afternoon, I stripped naked and slid into the water. I tied the bowline of my canoe around my waist and the two of us drifted downstream, perfectly in love.

 

Photos by the author.

 

Dog who came back to the same spot for a year awaiting owners is killed by a vehicle there

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A dog in Thailand who came back to the same spot by the roadside every day for a year to wait for her owners to find her, was tragically killed by a vehicle there.

Locals who had begun feeding her after observing her behaviour, found her body by the roadside on Sunday, according to local papers.

The dog, which they named Loung, is estimated to be three-years-old, and is thought to have fallen off her owner’s vehicle on the major highway connecting Bangkok and Cambodia.

So for a year, Loung waited by the spot she fell along Sukhumvit road in the Ban Nong Khon village, in Chanthaburi. Read more…

More about Thailand, Dogs, and World

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A dog in Thailand who came back to the same spot by the roadside every day for a year to wait for her owners to find her, was tragically killed by a vehicle there.

Locals who had begun feeding her after observing her behaviour, found her body by the roadside on Sunday, according to local papers.

The dog, which they named Loung, is estimated to be three-years-old, and is thought to have fallen off her owner’s vehicle on the major highway connecting Bangkok and Cambodia.

So for a year, Loung waited by the spot she fell along Sukhumvit road in the Ban Nong Khon village, in Chanthaburi. Read more…

More about Thailand, Dogs, and World

Exclusive TechCrunch survey reveals startups and investors are divided over Brexit

Politic relationship between Europe Union and Great Britain. Brexit On Thursday 23 June 2016 the world changed. On that day a referendum was held to decide whether the UK should Leave or Remain in the European Union. Leave won by 52% to 48%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting (though not 100% of the electorate). The campaigns on both sides had issues in terms of what they promised, to put it mildly. But on the issue of… Read More

Politic relationship between Europe Union and Great Britain. Brexit On Thursday 23 June 2016 the world changed. On that day a referendum was held to decide whether the UK should Leave or Remain in the European Union. Leave won by 52% to 48%. The referendum turnout was 71.8%, with more than 30 million people voting (though not 100% of the electorate). The campaigns on both sides had issues in terms of what they promised, to put it mildly. But on the issue of… Read More

Hillary Clinton walks world’s thinnest tightrope in debate with Donald Trump

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After more than a year of tough talk on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump finally took their fight for the presidency to each other on Monday evening in their first debate. 

The tense evening marked a historic event: the first female presidential nominee for a major party sparring with her opponent on live television. Though the 90-minute exchange covered topics such as national security, race relations and economic prosperity, gender politics were a constant, if not always subtle, theme. 

finally the whole country will watch as a woman stands politely listening to a loud man’s bad ideas about the field she spent her life in

— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) September 26, 2016 Read more…

More about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Us World, Us, and Politics

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After more than a year of tough talk on the campaign trail, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump finally took their fight for the presidency to each other on Monday evening in their first debate. 

The tense evening marked a historic event: the first female presidential nominee for a major party sparring with her opponent on live television. Though the 90-minute exchange covered topics such as national security, race relations and economic prosperity, gender politics were a constant, if not always subtle, theme. 

finally the whole country will watch as a woman stands politely listening to a loud man’s bad ideas about the field she spent her life in

— Alexandra Petri (@petridishes) September 26, 2016 Read more…

More about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Us World, Us, and Politics

Police have no chill about people looking to ‘moon’ parliament

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There’s been quite the ‘big deal’ made over recent changes to the law over ‘mooning’ (a.k.a. showing your bum) and streaking in Australia.

The state of Victoria has specifically cited the two activities in its amendment to the law on sexual offences, even though both actions have been illegal for quite some time.

Nevertheless it’s inspired a protest event, posted on Facebook as Moon the Parliament House of Victoria (with signs), which is set to take place on Oct. 8.

“Following the recent banning of the royal moon in Victoria, we have decided to show our disgustment and devistation [sic] of this new law by showing the parliament house of Victoria big posters,” the description reads. Read more…

More about Streaking, Mooning, Australia, and Watercooler

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There’s been quite the ‘big deal’ made over recent changes to the law over ‘mooning’ (a.k.a. showing your bum) and streaking in Australia.

The state of Victoria has specifically cited the two activities in its amendment to the law on sexual offences, even though both actions have been illegal for quite some time.

Nevertheless it’s inspired a protest event, posted on Facebook as Moon the Parliament House of Victoria (with signs), which is set to take place on Oct. 8.

“Following the recent banning of the royal moon in Victoria, we have decided to show our disgustment and devistation [sic] of this new law by showing the parliament house of Victoria big posters,” the description reads. Read more…

More about Streaking, Mooning, Australia, and Watercooler

The Hillary shimmy GIF that’s perfect for when you’re winning at life

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The Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told everyone about his winning temperament at the first presidential debate. Hillary Clinton responded with ultimate sass. 

The Democratic candidate dropped a little dance move after Trump dropped some choice words, including:

“I have much better judgment than she has.” 

“I also have a much better temperament than she does.” 

“I think my strongest asset, maybe by far is my temperament, I have a winning temperament.”

With a “Woo… OKAY!” Clinton stole the show with a shimmy from side to side and a grin from ear to ear. The crowd went wild.  Read more…

More about Election 2016, Presidential Debate, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Watercooler

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The Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told everyone about his winning temperament at the first presidential debate. Hillary Clinton responded with ultimate sass. 

The Democratic candidate dropped a little dance move after Trump dropped some choice words, including:

“I have much better judgment than she has.” 

“I also have a much better temperament than she does.” 

“I think my strongest asset, maybe by far is my temperament, I have a winning temperament.”

With a “Woo… OKAY!” Clinton stole the show with a shimmy from side to side and a grin from ear to ear. The crowd went wild.  Read more…

More about Election 2016, Presidential Debate, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Watercooler

Is Trump toast? Clinton scores a huge victory in the first debate.

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It’s almost hard to remember at the time of writing — two hours later — but before the first presidential debate at Hofstra University Monday night, Hillary Clinton supporters were tying themselves into knots of anxiety.

The bar had been set incredibly low for Donald Trump. Pundits on every cable channel agreed: all he had to do was to get up on that stage and be, well, presidential. Stay calm, stay focused on his winningest issue — the economy — and don’t allow yourself to get baited by Clinton.

Well, as the world now knows, Trump couldn’t even stay calm long enough to stop arguing with (and talking over) moderator Lester Holt. Avoiding Clinton’s bait? Fuggeddaboutit. Trump might as well have ended the debate with a mouth full of fish hooks.  Read more…

More about Politics, Debates, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Us World

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It’s almost hard to remember at the time of writing — two hours later — but before the first presidential debate at Hofstra University Monday night, Hillary Clinton supporters were tying themselves into knots of anxiety.

The bar had been set incredibly low for Donald Trump. Pundits on every cable channel agreed: all he had to do was to get up on that stage and be, well, presidential. Stay calm, stay focused on his winningest issue — the economy — and don’t allow yourself to get baited by Clinton.

Well, as the world now knows, Trump couldn’t even stay calm long enough to stop arguing with (and talking over) moderator Lester Holt. Avoiding Clinton’s bait? Fuggeddaboutit. Trump might as well have ended the debate with a mouth full of fish hooks.  Read more…

More about Politics, Debates, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Us World

Bright blue burgers are here to fulfil your insatiable hunger for weird food

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Burger buns have long been beige; but no more!

An enterprising Australian chained called Ribs & Burgers has come up with a bold plan to turn all your burger buns blue.

Taking inspiration from the deep blue skin of the shape-shifting mutants Mystique and Nightcrawler, the creations celebrate the Blu-ray (you know, those round disc things) release of X-Men: Apocalypse. You’ve got your triple chillied chicken, some blue cheese and one hell of a blue bun.

Wanna burger that looks like me?

Wanna burger that looks like me?

Image: Murray Close/Getty Images Read more…

More about Deliveroo, Food, Blue Burger, X Men Apocalypse, and Watercooler

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Burger buns have long been beige; but no more!

An enterprising Australian chained called Ribs & Burgers has come up with a bold plan to turn all your burger buns blue.

Taking inspiration from the deep blue skin of the shape-shifting mutants Mystique and Nightcrawler, the creations celebrate the Blu-ray (you know, those round disc things) release of X-Men: Apocalypse. You’ve got your triple chillied chicken, some blue cheese and one hell of a blue bun.

Wanna burger that looks like me?

Wanna burger that looks like me?

Image: Murray Close/Getty Images Read more…

More about Deliveroo, Food, Blue Burger, X Men Apocalypse, and Watercooler

Crunch Report | Snapchat Releases Spectacles

Snapchat gets into the hardware game with its first hardware foray — Spectacles, Senator Mark Warner wants to open an SEC investigation into Yahoo’s breach, Elon Musk gets one step closer to interplanetary travel, Uber is exploring new aerial vehicles for short-haul travel. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

Snapchat gets into the hardware game with its first hardware foray — Spectacles, Senator Mark Warner wants to open an SEC investigation into Yahoo’s breach, Elon Musk gets one step closer to interplanetary travel, Uber is exploring new aerial vehicles for short-haul travel. All this on Crunch Report. Read More

Donald Trump is totally right, we need more ‘Law & Order’

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During Monday night’s presidential debate, there was a lot of “law and order” talk from Donald Trump. He wasn’t, sadly, talking about the successful crime drama. Or was he?

The Republican presidential candidate referred to himself as the “law and order” guy a bunch of times, harking back to the days of Reagan and Nixon. Either that, or he just really, really loves Law & Order, in which case, hey, he’s only human. 

Although not according to Warren Leight, ex-showrunner for Law & Order: SVU, a.k.a the greatest gift to TV in the late ’90s. If you ask him, Donald Trump is a “human virus.” Read more…

More about Law Order, Twitter, Hillary Clinton, Presidential Debate, and Donald Trump

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During Monday night’s presidential debate, there was a lot of “law and order” talk from Donald Trump. He wasn’t, sadly, talking about the successful crime drama. Or was he?

The Republican presidential candidate referred to himself as the “law and order” guy a bunch of times, harking back to the days of Reagan and Nixon. Either that, or he just really, really loves Law & Order, in which case, hey, he’s only human. 

Although not according to Warren Leight, ex-showrunner for Law & Order: SVU, a.k.a the greatest gift to TV in the late ’90s. If you ask him, Donald Trump is a “human virus.” Read more…

More about Law Order, Twitter, Hillary Clinton, Presidential Debate, and Donald Trump