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Moved

I have been busy preparing for a move to, and then moving to, and then settling into, Pittsburgh. Like the only other American city I’ve lived in, it has an vibrant cycling advocacy community. There are many scenic bike trails, including one that takes me all the way from my campus to downtown. An increasing number of bike lanes are being painted on the roads, although in general they are still very rare. As was the case in Chicago, traffic is much slower and roads have fewer lanes compared to Singapore’s, so I don’t feel anywhere as threatened as I did in Singapore.

It feels good not to dread my commute anymore. (I dreaded mine in Singapore whether it was by bike, public transport, or car.)

Needless to say, I will not be keeping as much of an eye on cycling affairs in Singapore anymore, but I still expect to post something from time to time.

Bleg

Can a Camelbak hold hot water without melting? How hot before it melts? Couldn’t find an answer on their website, and Google is a little ambiguous about it.

On hiatus

Doing this.

Kuala Tahan to Gunung Tahan

(I truncated an elevation profile chart of the Merapoh-Kuala Tahan traverse route that I’d found elsewhere.)

Dreams

What I will write here is a partial explanation for why I am such an angry idealist. Not the ‘idealist’ part, because I was always that, but the ‘angry’ part.

The anger comes when goals that you work hard for are undermined by people who claim some sort of moral high ground in doing so. When your painstaking preparation is dismissed as insufficient by people who have absolutely no expertise in the field in question. When the value in what you do is dismissed again by those who are unfamiliar with the field in question and in any case have no notion of value other than monetary and social status.

It comes when the suffering you went through is tossed aside at will by these people, and you can do nothing but rage helplessly, because knowledge is not power — plenty of ignorant shits are in power. When people belittle your hard work on the basis of gender/sex alone, notwithstanding that you went through everything that your counterparts with in supposedly stronger gender/sex did.

When people who claim to be ‘doing things for your own good’ reveal themselves to be using you as know more than a tool for their own self-gratification, for if they gave a shit about your mental well-being would they really choose to teach you that hard work should be compensated for by the complete slaughtering of your dreams by those who do not even attempt to understand those dreams? “I don’t care that you’ve spent 400 hours of your life on this, gone through extremes of mental and physical suffering, including second degree burns all over your palms that I could not have failed to notice; this unknown thing that you want to do gives me the heebie-jeebies, therefore, for your own good, I shall forcibly stop you from doing it.” Certainly breeds respect for these enforcers, doesn’t it? Certainly breeds faith in the correlation between social seniority and wisdom. Perhaps those who lament the lack of “respect for elders” in today’s society would want to reflect more on why that is happening, instead of shunting the blame onto Evil Western Culture?

From that I learned that the most worthy ideals and intentions, the most thorough preparation and justification, can be shot down at will by those who have the power to do so. That by itself isn’t why it is so enraging. It is enraging because the same idiots doing it paint themselves as saints for doing so. Politics as usual, y’know. As it was possibly my first try at anything resembling a coherent long-term effort towards a goal that I cared about, it was not particularly encouraging. As a chronic idealist, I was not discouraged from my ideals, but I was certainly divested of a large portion of any optimism about people I still had left at that point.

It was perhaps one incident, but the pattern kept repeating. On small and large scales. Everywhere, there would be ignorant, arrogant pricks who could not reason to save their life scuppering other people’s dreams for petty reasons. Mostly what in this society would be termed ‘pragmatic’ reasons. And some of the worst offenders are those who are charged with nurturing the future workers of our society. But society is constituted in such a way that these people would be praised, rewarded, for dream-killing. For ambition-killing. ‘That person has his feet on the ground,’ observers would remark approvingly.

Those who keep their feet on the ground for too long eventually become permanently rooted to that one spot. When that becomes your exemplar of a good life, it’s no surprise that society remains in an infantile state. They haven’t even snipped their umbilical cords.

Footwear

The sole of my left Timberland boot is beginning to split away from the main body of the boot. It would probably still suffice for another weekend trip but I wouldn’t trust it to last a week of Tahan. So I have to either get new boots or go up Tahan in trail running shoes (of which I need a new pair too anyway, since my current Salomons also have incipient cracks between the sole and the shoe bodies). I really like the idea of going up Tahan in lightweight footwear, but I’m not sure how my feet would take to seven days of load-bearing trekking without proper ‘protection’. I’m not as agile and light-footed as your typical Malaysian mountain guide, so just because they can walk for a week in rubber water shoes, doesn’t mean that I can. And let’s not mention people (they exist) who did the whole thing in slippers.

Pros of going up in boots:
Better ankle support
Can splash in small puddles without getting wet
Potentially better padding
Possibly less toe-mashing compared to running shoes? Not sure on this point, checking with others who’ve done it in running shoes.

Cons:
Heavy
Will get wet during river crossings unless I bring an extra pair of water shoes along. Which would mean more weight, and also much time changing in and out of shoes (14 times!). Unless one wears water shoes for the whole middle portion of the second day?
Will get weight during heavy rain too (which is… almost guaranteed, for that mountain?). And when wet, will dry slower than trail runners would.
Less maneuverability when negotiating obstacles

DWR Hands

My hands are now water-repellent. Beads form immediately when I wet them. That’s what I get for being too lazy to buy a pair of plastic/rubber gloves before I soaked my waterproof/breathable garments in Nikwax. On the bright side, this shows that Nikwax works really well. And I haven’t the imagination to think of any severe physiological effects it could have. Perhaps if I went swimming now, my skin wouldn’t even wrinkle (indeed, perhaps it would be wrinkled by now if not for Nikwax). The skin feels slightly rubbery now. It’s odd but not distressing.

Quote of the Day

“On bad days, a quarter of Los Angeles’s smog originates in China.”

From here, from which I also learn that China will overtake the US as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases later this year. They have arrived! Applause please.