29 July, 2005

As the second day begins, more and more people begin to arrive and the community continues to grow.

Some very good advice, particularly for yesterday's weather when it was warm and muggy.

The Heart of Gold, a spaceship that came to Earth in 1999 during that year's CCC Camp, has also made appearances at the Berlin congresses in the winter as well as HAL 2001 in the Netherlands.

The 2600 Barracks opened up, complete with makeshift advertising.

Among the many shops that have sprung up is a bookstore. You can probably figure out the naming scheme by now.

Real flushing toilets are the norm here, a big step up from the outhouses of the past.

29 July, 2005

Day 13. Things have really picked up here as more people arrive and activities truly get underway. All kinds of little communities have sprouted up throughout the different fields. I only hope I get to see them all in the time that I'm here.

The folks here were nice enough to give us a "2600 Barracks" which actually came as a big surprise to me when I got here. I feel bad not having arranged for all sorts of merchandise to be available there since so many people have been coming by and asking. But there are already so many things to coordinate and monitor that I think it might have been better for the people from 2600 to sit this one out, financial crises notwithstanding.

Getting footage for the film was the primary goal of my various extra-conference activities. With the help of Arseny, Mike, and especially Gweeds we were able to corral all sorts of individuals into the barracks and get their takes on life, the universe, and anything else that they wanted to rant about, often in their native languages. We'll be doing this on and off throughout the conference and hopefully we'll gather a fairly large and diverse sampling of the human condition.

People here are so nice, friendly, and laid back. You wouldn't believe the amount of coordination that goes into organizing not only a conference but a small city that exists for nearly a week and far longer for the organizers. We are so lucky to have this sort of thing to come to and I'm so thrilled that we all made it. The community must never forget this and should do everything in its power to ensure that there are many more of these gatherings.

I really want to do some filming tomorrow in the surrounding area. There are nearby farm fields with all sorts of animals wandering around. This may sound silly but I honestly believe that livestock out here are happier than what I've seen in the States. I mean, when I look at a cow standing in a field in the USA, I see an animal that stares right through me and doesn't seem to have any real motivation to do anything other than stand there. But here in this Dutch field, I see cows that make eye contact and move around, sometimes quite fast. The calves in particular love to run across the field, almost like giant dogs. And then there are a couple of fields of ponies, including one who is less than knee high and really adorable. I'm not sure if he's one of those mini-ponies I read about somewhere or if he's just really young. But I've never seen this kind of a creature before. There are all sorts of other farm animals milling around and making their respective noises. I'm sure there exist happy farmyard animals back home. But these ones seem positively ecstatic.

I should also point out that we're right near some train tracks which are just about as impressive as the livestock. We're in the middle of nowhere and yet there are four electrified tracks just outside the camp (electrified with overhead wires like most of Europe). There are more trains going past here in a given period of time than anywhere else I've seen back home including the busiest of subway stations. I honestly don't get it. These aren't even main connections between different parts of Europe. Every train I've seen passing by so far is Dutch and sometimes I'll see trains race past on all four tracks inside of a minute. They even have freight trains that go by a couple of times an hour. I have to believe that this way of doing things somehow relates to the better treatment of animals. Less cars and trucks on the road, less crowding and pollution, locations that are easier to get to, etc. We're really so close to big cities yet it feels so far away because it's not built up. I remember the same reaction to the campground at the CCC Camp in Germany in 2003 which was really only around 30 miles from Berlin. People believe places like this to be in the middle of nowhere but they're so easy to get to even though they have most of the advantages of really being away from it all. When we say the middle of nowhere in the States, we mean it. And I imagine they do in many of the places I have yet to venture to on this voyage. It ought to be a really interesting and stark contrast.

Tonight we taped next week's "Off The Wall" courtesy of Radio Sub Ether, the official What The Hack radio station. It was a lot of fun: we stood around right outside the station tent with a bunch of microphones and interviewed various people, sharing all sorts of stories. We basically had most of the crew on from "Off The Hook" doing the kind of show we would have done had we not been preempted at the last minute on Wednesday evening. But this one will sound better since it wasn't done over the phone lines. As has happened a few times already during the two days of the conference, the heavens started to open up as we were doing the program. Fortunately we had a canopy but I think it'll make for a bit of radio history having all of us standing out there while the sounds of rain and thunder gradually take over. I think it was one of our better efforts. The show will air on WUSB next Tuesday evening and will be on the net shortly after.

The radio station saved me a lot of hassle by making their facilities available as I didn't have to try and figure out how to either fix or bypass my iRiver. We're going to dive into that problem tomorrow and hopefully either fix the thing or figure out how future shows will be done.

The remainder of the night was spent visiting the various plastic chip accepting bars and food establishments as well as visiting with people and just hanging out. I know I'll miss this sort of thing greatly when I start to head further east.