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diaryland: entry for 2001-07-10 (12:10:00)
In which our plucky young hero just slept on his side, really.

It is now just about 18 hours that I have been home from the Winnipeg Folk Fest, about a long enough time to have my thoughts crystallized and ready to put to text. This is rambling. I don't apologize. It was a rambling weekend.

First of all, I must commend my tent. It is, without a doubt, the worst tent in the world. It is a "one-person" tent, and by "person" it is clear that the tent manufacturers of the world mean "eight-year-old midget". The thing's promotional copy promised 6'6" by 3'6" of space when the tent was pitched.

I am 5'10".

I could not lie flat in my tent.

You may, from this, deduce that the tent was perhaps not six and a half feet of length in the long dimension. I should also at this point mention that the tent was only about 3 feet tall at its dome, so that I could just barely sit cross-legged in it. Stupid tent cartels.

On the other hand, a small tent has its advantages. My tent stayed warm - with so little air to benefit from my body heat, it was an extremely toasty little device. And more importantly, it stayed dry. The night after some nice hard driving rain, while all the others who had their large tents with their six-person capacity and heliports and wine cellars were trying to drain out the excess water, I was dry as a bone. Ha ha. Yay small tent.

(During the weekend, too, I was amused by the constant stream of people who could not believe that there was actually a person in my tent. "That's a beer tent, right? Or wait, I saw a dog out here. Maybe this is where the dog sleeps. No, wait, it can't be, that's a pretty big dog, isn't it?" If I use the same tent next year, I will stencil on its side Contents: One Person (no, really) to inform and educate the masses.)

The folks around me were a fun bunch, and I enjoyed their company. (Hey, CJ. How's the poncho?) Apparently my silence can be amusing, and so can my accidental drunkenness, but how was I to know that I was drinking 40 proof, not some cooler-type wimp drink? For four days we sang traditional campfire songs like "You Shook Me All Night Long", we read from Dr. Seuss, we talked about Iron Chef. It was a fine set of nights.

The food was surprisingly good at the festival. Normally at home I am the ultimate uncultured carnivore, just barely evolved enough to not eat the ground beef raw because cooking it would mean I had to wash a pan afterward. With the exception of tap water run through a Brita filter, everything I drink has an ingredient list that begins water, sugar/sucrose-fructose (may contain: glucose, maltose), artificial flavors, corn syrup.

But when I get to the Folk Festival, suddenly I am Johnny Bohemian, craving nothing but veggie burgers and iced tea. The vegetarian option wasn't much more expensive than being carnivorous, and was generally better - the pizza at the festival was some of the saddest excuse for pizza I have ever tasted. I coped not on pizza and coke, but fresh mango squishes and soya-based snacks. All in all, I felt a lot better about my eating than I generally do at home, except when I get to cook for myself.

But this weekend wasn't about the camping or the food or the music, mostly. It was, as you'll recall, about getting unwired - leaving the cell phone and palmtop at home, letting email accumulate, avoiding all media of all sorts. I succeeded in this - for four days, I knew nothing of the outside world but what people told me, and none told me nowt.

So now you must want to know: what am I like when I get unwired?

In short, I run in second gear.

Those who've spoken with me know that I'm a fast talker, constantly peppering my speech with conversational filler like "uh" and "you know" and constantly racing from point to point to point like a squirrel with a bad crystal meth problem. This is my natural state, a ball of conversational stress and multiple ideas fighting for my attention.

By Friday, though, I was nothing like that at all. I talked slowly. I concentrated on one thing at a time, and let one thought have its full measure before moving onto another. I was focused. And most of all, I didn't use conversational filler. My mouth and brain worked in perfect unison, producing thoughts at the exact speed I could vocalize them.

It sort of scared me, but it was relaxing.

And the music. Ah, the music. The folk festival has two types of performances: a main stage with six to eight acts each night, totalling four hours of entertainment, and a bunch of smaller "workshop" stages during the day where groups of musicians get together to jam. I avoided mainstage for the most part (though I did of course run like mad to see Blue Rodeo) and the workshops were excellent. Either you want to purchase the music of Kris Demeanor, Rick Unruh, Danny Michel, and Jess Klein, or you are an uncultured savage barely capable of tying your own shoes. I'm just sayin'.

So yes. It was a good weekend. A good, unwired, relaxing, slow, mellow, smart and fun weekend filled with new friends and new music and good memories. These are all good parts.

But the best part, the best part, was this...

When I decided to order takeout lasagna from Reliable Pizza, I couldn't remember the phone number. At all. I needed to find a phone book to order my second-favorite lasagna in the whole city.

That, I think, is a good sign.

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