I Don’t Really Blog Anymore

January 27th, 2015 by DarianWorden

Let’s face it, I haven’t posted anything here for almost a year. I just haven’t really thought to write anything that would best fit here. I have posted a bit on Head First, but even that has been neglected for a while.

I have certainly been busy in the past year. I decided that it was time I either pursue further education in history or start in a new field. I went with land surveying, and I spent a lot of time in the summer and fall pursuing this route. I took calculus classes at county college and surveying courses at New Jersey Institute of Technology. I also began working at a small surveying firm in the area. All in all it was a good choice. Unfortunately, my decision to jump into the program and get a running start meant that I had little time for other endeavors, so I’m glad to get my life in balance this year: a couple of surveying courses, some time learning GIS and mapping software, and time for the other important things like outdoor adventures, physical training, and studying history.

At the moment I am not expecting to blog much at darianworden.com for a while. I am planning to do more with Head First in the coming months, because the theme of history adventures covers a lot of what I would like to write about.

Good Winter

February 12th, 2014 by DarianWorden

snow around brook

Finally, a serious winter! There are real snowstorms and cold days. I still remember winters being colder a decade ago, and that is backed by xkcd, so it’s not just weather nostalgia.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the snow this year, and even wrote a brief history of snowshoeing at Head First.

Much of my indoor time has been spent on web projects, first of all updating Head First to a more visually pleasing format and moving it to Dreamhost to give me more control over the appearance. I like how that turned out, though the process did confuse me at times.

I also did some digital history projects for the Hoboken Historical Museum. I created a short article and map about film locations for the old Marlon Brando movie On the Waterfront. I also made a big digital exhibit about the Stevens family, who founded Hoboken and also were major figures in steam transportation as well as inventive dabblers. They were involved in so many things that this was a major project. It was interesting to make something that managed to be commemorative without omitting negative parts of the story or glossing over the family’s privileged position in society that helped them for generations. It was also great to get into some historical archives again.

Looking ahead, there will definitely be more snowshoeing and history projects. I hope to do more with histories of exploration, and also intentional communities in history. I also want to study more in geology, ecology, and navigation to better understand exploration history.

I’m considering that I could really use this blog more, especially since fitting comments into 140-character tweets is not always the best way to get a point across.

As always, it is good to be busy and still have time for resting.

Time Flees

November 7th, 2013 by DarianWorden

A lot has happened in the past couple of months.

I got married in September. It was a really good time. Helen and I have been together for ten years, and this was a great way to celebrate our love and enduring commitment to each other. We got married on a beautiful fall day in Rutgers Gardens and partied the night away with family and friends. I drank fresh Hunterdon County apple cider and ate some amazing cake that our friend made.

We then went on honeymoon in Greece. First a few days in Athens, which we both really enjoyed, then about a week in Santorini, a perfect place to relax after months of wedding planning. There weren’t any particularly challenging tasks in planning the wedding, but there are so many small things to do on a very concrete deadline while trying to accomplish all the other things going on in life. But it was worth it.

Things are calming down a little now.

I went on a couple of trips that I blogged at Head First, which continues to be a site of experimentation. I hope to update the blog format to something that is more accommodating to the collection of illustrated articles that Head First has grown into. And of course: do more history adventures!

My internship at the Hoboken Historical Museum is supposed to end soon, but I can’t say that it is winding down, because my roles at the museum are changing in exciting ways that aren’t exactly concrete at the moment. It is pretty cool to be a part of an institution with such an inspiring exhibit on Superstorm Sandy.

I also intend to do more history and outdoors writing for various outlets, and I do need to study and read more. Of course there is never-ending training and self-development. Some of my daily thoughts make it to Twitter, but I don’t feel the desire to do a play-by-play record of life.

So as the colorful autumn leaves are falling I have plenty to do. It is nice to feel like I’m moving forward.

Misty Morning

September 10th, 2013 by DarianWorden

My Head First post on Bannerman’s Island was certainly an adventure. Sugarloaf Mountain seemed like it would be a good place to get a downward-looking view, so I went up there early in the morning. The mist was thick as I climbed up, but it was sunny on top. There were some big spider webs.

Since the mist seemed to be clearing, I picked a spot that seemed like it would be a good place to view the island. And I caught the mist clearing up from the south, which was pretty cool.

The trip was a success, and I had time to visit a local library for some research. It was a good time to be on a mountain.

Old-Time Libertarian Community: The Ferrer Colony of Stelton, New Jersey

August 21st, 2013 by DarianWorden

If you have ever driven behind Livingston Campus in Piscataway, NJ and made a turn down School Street, you have driven through the grounds of what was once a thriving libertarian community. I’ve been fascinated by this place for years, and I’ve just posted an article about it.

On a rainy day in May of 1915, the first settlers of the Ferrer Colony of Stelton got off their train from New York and walked about a mile to their new homes. The crowd on its way to the old farmstead included 32 children who would be enrolled in the radical school that anchored the community.

While there was no political test to participate, committed anarchists and reformers with libertarian leanings were the driving force behind the school and made up a large number of Stelton residents. They were leaving the city behind to build a community where the Modern School model of Francisco Ferrer could be tested away from the struggles and investigations that the school in New York could not avoid. The community they founded was not without its problems, but it would grow and thrive for years, creating a pocket of freedom that nurtured many students and gave all residents a chance to participate in cooperative living that respected their individual liberty. Even after the community lost its identity and the school closed in 1953, many former residents recall their time at Stelton as a good time that shaped them into the people they are today…

Read the rest at Center for a Stateless Society.

Exciting August

August 2nd, 2013 by DarianWorden

August is shaping up to be an exciting month.

I will be guiding some trips for an outdoor touring company, including whitewater rafting on the Lehigh. I also just started an internship at a local history museum, which is looking like it will be a valuable experience.

I am going to try to hike Mount Washington again. I cut my last trip short because the afternoon forecast called for severe thunderstorms and hail. Both arrived while I was driving out of the area.

I am also excited to be writing about historic libertarian communities for The Center for a Stateless Society. Expect news on that in mid-August.

I’ve been really happy with my posts at Head First. I will probably do one more post on Southeast Asia and then move on to more local adventures – which means I will have some climbing to do! I have also been updating the Head First Twitter profile fairly often with news related to history adventures.

It felt good to write this! Now on to the next thing.

A Big Green Moth

July 12th, 2013 by DarianWorden

While hiking in New York’s Harriman State Park in June, I noticed a big moth on the side of a tree. It soon jumped off the tree and wiggled its wings on the ground. I managed to get a decent picture with my phone.

luna moth in new york

We thought the moth was hurt, but less than a minute later it flew away.

As it turns out, we witnessed a luna moth going through a major step in its life cycle. The moth begins life as a caterpillar when it hatches from an egg laid in a tree. It eats for about three weeks before weaving a cocoon. After maturing in the cocoon, the moth emerges and climbs up a tree, where its wings harden and expand.

I had never seen a moth like this one before. It would certainly be easy to miss, since it blends in well with leaves. The four green wings with an eyespot each is characteristic of the luna moth.

It is not common to see one of these, partly because moths are most active at night, and partly because the adult life of a luna moth typically lasts less than a week. Adult luna moths do not even eat. They hunger only for reproduction.

The luna moth reproductive cycle may be disrupted by bright lights. Other human activity, including pesticide use and construction, can damage the its habitat.

While people obviously need places to live, work, and grow food, the potential of seeing something new, of discovering a piece of the world that you never knew about, is a life-improving opportunity that wild places offer.

The Long Path Begins

July 3rd, 2013 by DarianWorden

While exploring Fort Lee Historic Park, which I featured in a recent Head First post, I found the triple blaze marking the beginning of the Long Path.

Long Path Trailhead

I’ve hiked on parts of the Long Path in the Catskills, but I’ve never planned to do the full 356 miles from Fort Lee to Albany. I was curious to see what course the trail took in the beginning. Apparently there is some George Washington Bridge traffic to cross before the trail makes it into the woods.

Long path in Fort Lee

Through-hiking the trail would definitely give you a variety of scenes.

Keeping Up With The NSA

June 14th, 2013 by DarianWorden

The NSA’s outrageous secret data collection program is still a developing story. I can’t say that I am completely surprised that the program exists. This is the kind of thing that people have been warning about since the Patriot Act was passed, and the government was certainly up to something with its huge data centers and talk of securing the public by taking massive power for itself. But for the public to be hit in the face with it all is a huge deal.

Now is when the world will see what we are willing to tolerate. Now is the time to decide exactly what kind of trust we have in politicians and elites who continue to fail the general public. This is one of those things that future generations will ask us what we did about.

The story broke in a June 5 article in The Guardian written by Glenn Greenwald, who was already an important journalist and commentator on civil liberties.

The New York Times denounced the data collection program in a scathing editorial.

Some people think that the metadata collected – records of who contacted whom – is not a big deal. But I expect that it would be useful in suppressing protest movements, which should be a concern especially given the federal involvement and probable coordination in suppressing the Occupy movement. Despite what hacks are claiming, a sweeping collection of data did not play a role in foiling terrorist plots. So who is the agency securing with the data they are collecting?

Another shocking development was when the whistleblower who leaked the documents came forward. If you haven’t watched the video of Edward Snowden explaining his motivation, you should make time for it.

Naturally, the elites and the people who make a living by sucking up to them had to heap obnoxious insults on Snowden. They deserve no respect.

James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, got away with lying to Congress when he was asked if the NSA collects “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions” of Americans. Apparently the NSA has its own definition of some words and when Clapper was asked a question in English, he responded in gov-speak.

What to do about this? The MIT Center for Civic Media lists Six Productive Responses to PRISM. The ACLU has a petition campaign. Restore the Fourth rallies against NSA spying will take place in numerous cities on July 4.

Outrageously, Capitol Police broke up a press conference about NSA spying because the organizers didn’t have a permit to talk to each other in large groups. This is the state of public discourse in America today. This is not okay.

Back From Southeast Asia

May 1st, 2013 by DarianWorden

Helen and I made our trip to Southeast Asia happen! And it happened very well.

We flew into Bangkok after about 21 hours of air travel, which included a stop in Osaka, a transfer in Taipei, and 11 time zones. Worth it!

We had planned the trip pretty thoroughly before going, since we had limited time in an area far, far away. We were able to stick to our plan pretty well. We spent a short time at the beach, then went back to Bangkok (which happened to be during Thai New Year), north to the old city of Ayutthaya, overnight train to Chiang Mai (smaller and more relaxing than Bangkok), then a short trek in the hills of Thailand.

View of mountains in Thailand

We then spent about a week in northern Vietnam: Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, and the Phong Nha area (known for its caves).

Ha Long Bay in Vietnam

It was a great trip filled with new experiences and some challenges (like crossing the street).

Some of the places we went will be featured at Head First, the history adventure site I created. We certainly found great material! But first I’m going to post about more a local history adventure that I did before leaving the country, seeing as it is Spring and people might be looking for hikes to do.

Speaking of Spring and hikes, I look forward to taking some hikes this Spring. One of the things I missed most on our trip (even more than drinking water from the tap) was enjoying the Northeast Spring. There were a few green buds coming out just before I left, but I didn’t get to watch the forest fill with green. It was certainly worth missing it, but like any rational person I wish I could have everything I want.

I’m still getting adjusted to my Jersey schedule (though I ate a sub from an Italian deli within 24 hours of returning to the state). Hopefully my schedule will include more frequent blog posts. We’ll see.