My workbench

My workbench

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Freeloading: What does it really cost?

 **WORK IN PROGRESS**

I am working on an essay on freeloading, and I will be saving it here to get feedback from friends/family/etc.  So please, do comment!

Stealing is a great way to get something for nothing, but what does it cost?  For one, the financial loss from whomever you stole from.  The loss of trust in others, and the new burden to secure your goods against further loss, compounds both the social and financial implications.  If successful, you may also have learned an important lesson: you don't need to work to get what you need, you can just steal it.  Suddenly society has lost whatever benefits you may have been able to bestow with your productivity.  Stealing is a severe example of freeloading, but what about, perhaps, couchsurfing?  Staying at another's home for free, without contributing anything to the homeowner.  Dumpster diving is great in terms of reducing the amount of waste generated, but when taken to the extreme can be nearly the same as stealing, in the affect it has on the producer of whatever it is you are diving.  The mother of all, of course, is welfare: necessary for those whom truly cannot work and/or provide for themselves, but disastrous for those whom are intelligent enough to find a way to exploit the system, and yet realize that there is more personal gain to NOT working than to actually pull their own weight.  Through these examples, the negative impact of freeloading can be shown to be downright disastrous when embraced by the masses.
    Couch-surfing is an amazing way to travel to a foreign land.  The ability to stay with locals and attain quick local knowledge of an area is priceless.  This comes as a second concern to many, whom see this as simply a free way to stay.  What about the hosts, however?  Not only do they pay rent, utilities, food and whatnot, but in hosting a surfer, they are eating in to their own time.  This loss of time, privacy, and financial burden to support people becomes significant, especially in highly traveled areas.  Many initially love the ability to host travelers of afar, but become jaded when the see surfer after surfer pass through, eat their food, stay for a night or two, smile, and leave.  This type of behavior, in addition to be an exploitation of a host's hospitality, can be damaging to the reputation of others, especially those legitimately interested in a hospitality and/or cultural exchange.  Perhaps bringing a gift, even an insignificant token, or helping out with chores could mitigate this downward trend.
    Dumpster diving, a cornerstone of non-consumerism, is an amazing way to re-use waste.  However, the choice between dumpster diving and supporting local merchants, farmers, and everyone along that chain can become somewhat less clear when indirect financial matters are taken into account.  For example, quality.  When you dumpster dive, you have no choice in what you get.  However, as a paying customer, you are able to dictate your terms and speak with your actions.  Additionally, in financially supporting a farmer or market, you give them feedback as to what you would like to have.  The farmer is then able to use your financial contribution to better their products, which will ultimately benefit you.  This cooperative cycle is called COMMERCE, and it has allowed for everything from rice in Alaska to cell phones in Sudan.  Without this exchange of goods, cultures would be restricted to their own natural resources- all fine and dandy, if you have everything you need with you.  By the way, where is the majority of oil coming from nowadays?
    Food stamps are insulting to the vast majority of Americans whom are able to, and do, work for what they have, and are more damaging than many people can imagine.  The very act of training a population that they can HAVE, without any sort of reciprocal contribution, removes the incentive to work in the future.  While we may all enjoy taking a day off once in a while, it is through the hard work of everyone from engineers to light duty specialists that the level of comfort in the society we live is maintained.  Imagine if Bill Gates never had felt the need to work very hard and pursue his goal of financial freedom.  Would you like to be sitting in front of a computer typing everything in to a blinking cursor on a black-and-green console screen?  I think not.
   The up-front costs of freeloading, to the individual doing it, are obvious- something for nothing.  The background costs, and the cascading effect which is has on society, are catastrophic when viewed in the long term.



It's incredibly rough, but begins to get the idea across.  I've got more examples, etc I'm working on.  So, feedback?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chiang Mai

"your previous short texts in blog - people have invented twitter for that"- Agnese

So I had some plans, and then they changed, and then they changed again...Guess what's new...

I think I'm going to stick around here for a while.  As a number of folks I've met over the past few days have put it, there's a good vibe around here.  I'm going to a party tonight, went to someone's birthday last night, and have just been really hanging out.  It's hot during the day (30s) and cool at night (16ish), which is perfect for me.  I also connected with some older couchsurfers yesterday over coffee and snacks and have gotten some great info on hiking in the area, as well as one guy whom is keen to do some motorcycle touring.  Yeah, I'm learning to ride a motorcycle.  It's fun.

Also, I got an invite to go stay w/a woman from Seattle living here for the past few months- she's got a spare room, and is looking for a rock climbing partner.  SCORE.  So, I'll connect with her in a non-bar setting (it was a double birthday party) and see how that runs.

Other than that, things are going well.  Still healthy and all that.  On a positive note, I can get medical/dental work done here SUPER cheap.  Y'know, if I needed any (fortunately, i don't).

I'm still planning on heading over to Manila at the end of March, and somehow making my way to Australia afterwards...Timetables and what are fluid, as usual.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Thailand

So, I said I'd stick around Ton Sai for a few days, maybe a week...12 days later, I'm back in Bangkok.  I had a LOT of fun down in Ton Sai/Railay/deserted island in the middle of the ocean.  Lots of funny stories....

The Island
Train down
Bungalows
Water
LIZARD
The German, Austrians, Mexicans, and all the rest.
Climbing, of course.


I'll type up these stories as I get to them, but for now, I've got to go enjoy Bangkok for it's being...well, bangkok.  I'm healthy, wealthy (well, relatively), and...uhh, Thom, the dutch guy, thinks I'm smart.  So all things considered, I'm doing pretty well.

Tentative outline of possible future plans:

Bum around northern Thailand
[maybe] make my way to Laos
[hopefully] hitch around Cambodia
Pass back through Bangkok
Head south, check out Koh Lipe
More climbing at Ton Sai
Head for Malaysia->Kuala Lumpur
Flight to Manila ~march 23ish
See Steph
Explore Philippines, Indonesia,
Head for Oz
Flight back to KL or BKK
Flight to wherever I can get to cheaply in Europe

Attend 6/8/10 hitch-hiking conference
hitch around Scandinavia
Return home ~September


At least, that's the theory.  Save this one, we'll see how far I deviate.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Alive

Despite completely losing my voice during my first full day in Ton Sai, it's back, and along with it, I got in some climbing today!  I didn't lead, but pumped my way through a 6a and all but the last ~4 feet of a 6a+ (French grading).  So, happy, need to stretch and slackline etc and I'll be back on it.  Thinking of staying here for a week or so, and then heading out...Not sure if I'll go north, hit Islands, or go south to Malaysia and Indonesia...From speaking to lots of people, Indonesia sounds killer!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Motorbike Taxi

For a single individual, there is no better way to get around.  Yeah, they're dangerous as hell...the drivers are suicidal...the other drivers consider them expendable...But DAMN is it fun zipping across town.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Bangkok

2 beers, 20 minutes, and I've made friends.  I made it, I'm safe, have a place to crash