Below are the 25 most recent journal entries.
So you know, I'm still alive, and still interested in doing the UE News. But I'm currently homeless in the Mojave Desert, so updates (and a move to a proper site) will have to wait until I'm situated again.
Best of luck to everyone in the new year.
Stalking Julia Solis
A couple of points on Ars Subterranea, explorer extraordinaire Julia Solis' group, one of which I'm a bit late on:
First, there was an "industrial séance" produced by University at Buffalo robotic artist Don Paul Swain at Buffalo Central Terminal on May 5, 11, and 12, which is interesting on its own. But also, "Ars Subterranea, an international urban exploration society, will install a Victorian-themed miniature golf course within the space." I haven't yet contacted them to ask how it went, will do.
Second, and more useful for scheduling purposes because it's happening in the future, Julia Solis will be speaking Friday, June 1 at 1:30pm at Postopolis!, a shindig in New York.
...etc. Worth attending, if you're in the area, there are a lot of other interesting speakers as well.
North American UE con, Buffalo
It looks like there's going to be another OPEX. OPEX, short for Office Products Expo, is the North American UE convention (not international, as the announcement says). The first one, "Office Products Expo 94" was 3-6 June, 2004, organized by Ninjalicious. That this one is in the US finally proves that it actually is a north American thing and not just a Canadian thing; the last three have been in .ca (Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver).
It doesn't have the history of the Clannies, the GTAs, or even Mouser Week, but it does have good attendance and Buffalo should provide some interesting things to do.
OPEX will be happening in Buffalo, NY this year.
Inept explorer gets probation
Michael Arndt, previously covered here when he got arrested for getting into the set of "The Wire", was sentenced yesterday.
Judge Mary C. Reese sentenced the 25-year-old Columbia man to six months' probation for possession of burglary tools and ordered him to stay away from the show's sets and the Web site that inspired his evening prowl, www.urbanadventure.orgMorals:
"Explorer is pinched in 'Wire' adventure" from the Baltimore Sun.
The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel
From one of my favorite online writers comes this engaging tale of the The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel.
Ever since Isaac Newton first described the laws of gravity in 1687, scientists have known that the quickest route between two points is along a straight line through the Earth’s interior. Through the magic of gravity, any object dropped into such a “chord tunnel” at one end will emerge exactly 42 minutes later at the other end, no matter the distance. But for hundreds of years, the technical challenges of building such a tunnel were so daunting that it remained a theoretical curiosity. Only at the start of the 20th century did the idea become technically feasible, and to this day the tunnel linking the East Bay with New Jersey remains the only structure of its kind in the world.
A difficult exploration, but I'm going to look into the Cedar Rapids shaft entrance and see if it's infiltratable.
Did DaVinci invent the manhole cover?
With a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie coming out (aka "brand necrophilia"), there's sure to be an upswing in interest in draining amongst the younger set. I predict at least two articles on kids getting lost in tunnels, hopefully with better results than the last entry I posted.
Here's the only TMNT-related historical artist joke T-shirt endorsed by the UE News (no affiliation or profit, just thought it was neat). From Threadless, for $10, seemingly out of print:
Jeremy throws in a TMNT manhole cover joke for no charge.
Creepy '50s drain photo
A drain of deathI don't know if it's the combination of flashbulb and daylight or the weird depth of field, but it's a creepy photo, even without the description.
And that thing was a deathtrap. Nowadays a junction like that would be enclosed in a grille room.
From here via here, then here. I'm officially low on the blog food chain.
When a six foot chain link fence with barbed wire on top just isn't keeping the explorers out any more, coat it in ice.
Infing TV show sets
The Washington Post reports (continues on the second page) on urban explorer Michael Arndt getting arrested in Columbia, Maryland, after mistaking a live set for the TV show "The Wire" as an abandoned warehouse.
The day after his arrest, Arndt had a pizza delivered to the security guard at the warehouse with an apology and printouts from Web sites about urban explorationEddie Izzard, British exectutive transvestite comedian, has a bit in his set Dress to Kill about breaking into studios when he was a kid and "hoping that some guy with a big cigar might go, "Hey! A creeping kid! For my film, 'The Creeping Kid!' You, you're in!""
"Totally pointless hobby"
There's a hilarious article in the Swindon Advertiser—the Swindon in the south of England—continuing the negative press the 28 Days Later UE website has gotten. Third article I've seen so far, I wrote about one of them last month. No byline on this one, so I'm assuming the author is a chicken.
THEY call themselves urban explorers. Actually they're trespassers, a bunch of hare-brained pests with a limited mental age and unlimited arrogance.
Climb faster than Batman, look a bit dorky
Using the Atlas Rope Ascender, a fully loaded soldier can reach the top of a 4-story building in under 4 seconds. Powerful and lightweight, the Rope Ascender weighs only 15 pounds, and can use either its own high-power rechargable batteries, cordless tool batteries, or a power adaptor from a vehicle.Watch the video on YouTube. It's amazingly fast
I want two.
Manufacturer site. Via Make's blog.
Foaming glory hole
On a blog called Fogonazos, someone has compiled photos of the overflow infall of Monticello Dam in California, calling it the largest drain hole in the world. There are also photos of other similar structures elsewhere in the world. Once you stop giggling about them being called glory holes, it's an interesting collection.
However, they seem to completely ignore the Pothole and the Funnel, the great big one in Australia. Which looks much bigger than the Californian one in photos, like this one.
I researched and explored the base near the sign to the right (and I'm the only one, as far as I know); it amused me a great deal to see "Nike Base Rd" in the DeLorme atlas. When in operation, the security at the "bases" was amazingly minimal, just one regular chain link fence and the guys with the guns. It makes a good plot for a movie set during the cold war: agents from nefarious foreign government enter the US and steal nukes from Nike bases, then drive them the short distance into the cities they were designed to protect. Will our hero foil the plot in time? I hope not. More interesting for the good guys to lose.
Looking through what I've posted so far, my fondness for tunnels and the underground has been showing through, so I'll try to post more about other genres of UE. Send me links to interesting things you think I should cover; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Under the Border
On Border Tunnel Infill: an interesting writeup over at Subtopia about tunnels running under the border between the US and Mexico, used for the obvious purposes, and how they're too expensive to fill.
Seven of the largest tunnels discovered under the U.S.-Mexico border in recent years have yet to be filled. One of which is the longest yet found and extends nearly half a mile from San Diego to Tijuana. There’s another sophisticated passageway, he says, once known as the Taj Mahal of tunnels, which has been sitting unfilled for 13 years. Filling the seven tunnels would cost about $2.7 million, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.It's actually from a couple articles in the LA times, but I prefer the summary with photos interspersed. These tunnels are much nicer than the "drug smuggler tunnel" that some explorers recently dug in a US metropolis for fairly silly reasons.
It has a nice selection of photos, with Geoff's pretentious subtitles, and is written from the perspective that draining is, in fact, applied knot theory.
Rumor has it that a university outside Manchester teaches courses in mathematics and knot theory not inside comfortable, well-lit classrooms, but down in the sewers, drains, valves, and storm tunnels built long ago beneath the city.
Manholes of Japan
Russian bus stops Farked
Thanks to opadit for the link; this also answers the question of "what do law students do in their spare time": look at Fark photoshop contests.
Link-AMN's entry. The simple things are the best.
No drains when it rains
Sorry for dropping off the face of the earth. Here's one I've been sitting on since January 15:
Flooding from a night's torrential rain is sucked into the abyss on Krasta Street in Riga, Latvia, after the city worker shown popped the cover.
Thanks to dashing (NSFW) for finding it, jerom for photographer credit, and Flame for background info.
TCUE Awards Winners
The awards function was in an abandoned hospital on Saturday night; turn out was quite a bit better than I expected. I was hoping to be able to post the group photo, but no one has put it online yet.
Here are the results. Percentages are out of votes for that category, not total voters, because not everyone voted for all categories. There are less than 3 places in some categories because things or people that only got single votes weren't ranked.
Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who voted.
I had people who had voted present them. I found out later that there were a few more people who had voted at the event, my apologies for not catching you and making you read something. The awards, in the order that they were presented:
n00b (new explorer showing most promise):
3 - 11% - Peat
2 - 14% - Bones
1 - 36% - Darlinclem
Best Outside Minnesota:
2 - 14% - Confluence
2 - 14% - Paris Catacombs
1 - 43% - KD Station
3 - 13% - Dsankt
3 - 13% - Wastemaster
2 - 27% - Nivelo
1 - 33% - Siologen
2 - 19% - Darlinclem
1 - 50% - Katwoman
Best Individual Effort:
1 - 38% - Slim Jim
1 - 18% - TC Drainer
1 - 18% - Dr. Magnus
(This category had the least votes of any, and the winners only had two each, so it should be taken least seriously.)
2 - 14% - Schmidt/Landmark
1 - 36% - Pillsbury
2 - 13% - Wackodood and Macsbug, police trouble on Nicollet Island.
"When wackodood and macsbug were accused of being homos by the cops on nicollet island."
"Wacko+ Macsbug 'in the bushes' by santas"1 - 20% - Gatsby and Peat, poop sushi squad car.
"Gatsby and I walking down Kellog covered in poop at 8:00 AM. I fall asleep on side of road and get picked up by police. We both are detained and then dropped off at the bus stop because cops don't want to deal with us. Our original plan was to go get sushi for the others in the lab."
"Drunk Gatsby in the sewers promising "salad dijon" and "fish filets" when he got back. Then exiting a street manhole at 10AM and walking back to cars in dirty waders to find him and pete got "arrested" while our group of 6 was fine."
"Gatsby and Peat going to get sushi. They ended up in the back of the squad car."Others, also mentioned:
"Curious George and Warchyld naked on Gold Medal (New Year's)"
"Glass, sans pants."
"Bunge fireworks show."
"Being chased by cops, dogs and a search light while exploring Ft. Snelling with Mellody and Aldi"
"The Mississippi Canoe trip + one boat with three dogs"
2 - 23% - Darlinclem
1 - 33% - Warchyld
Best New Find:
3 - 14% - The Waterfall
1 - 29% - Shiek's
1 - 29% - Santa's
Lover of Poop:
2 - 13% - Slim Jim
2 - 13% - Darlinclem
1 - 56% - Gatsby
2 - 14% - Yoerg's
1 - 43% - Red Owl
Best Team Player:
3 - 21% - Grit
1 - 29% - Warchyld
1 - 29% - Clockwork
2 - 13% - Classified / The Place That Shall Not Be Mentioned
2 - 13% Alpha
1 - 50% - The Labyrinth
The Landmark Six Award:
2 - 20% - TC Drainer and friends, the Landmark 3
1 - 53% - Gatsby, Twenty3, Clockwork, Worm Wirsbo, Ofberenonehand - The Lowry Tunnel 5
3 - 9% - Gatsby
2 - 14% - Freak
1 - 27% - Junkyard
Explorer of the Year:
3 - 8% - Gatsby
2 - 15% - Slim Jim
1 - 47% - Freak
My apologies to my readers who aren't interested in the Twin Cities scene; I'll be posting things from outside the US for the rest of the week to compensate.
Mouser Explains Mouser
Mouser wrote an entry on his blog about how Mouser week got started, and why a gathering of urban explorers is called "Mouser Week" in the first place. It's certainly a more interesting story than why OPEX got called OPEX.
I don't think I organized Mouser Week II, it was fairly early in my career, and I think I was just tagging along. I need to dig up my archives and figure out who has initiated most of the Mouser Weeks; I think I have a majority because I fill the role of "person who is occasionally able to come to the Twin Cities and wants to explore a lot while there".
Going to Perkins after coming out of somewhere dirty still happens sometimes, and we still haven't been turned away, no matter how much we smell.
Also, for the record, Mouser is pronounced mouse-er, not mouz-er. But I've always pronounced it the latter way, and have probably influenced a lot of the newer people. The vast majority of the attendees to Mouser Weeks to date have never met Mouser.
Mouser Week VIII
The opening dinner, to which all are welcome to attend, will be on Saturday the 20th at the Riverside Perkins, 7PMish. Following the dinner we'll be doing an UE awards thing at nine or ten, at a location to be disclosed after the dinner.
901 27th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55406
Perkins is generally acknowledged as teh suck, but it's a tradition. We'll try to break it again next year, we were very close this year.
Now I'm laughing at me
Oh, and I just noticed that he also wrote an article specifically on me. Interesting to see that he used my Wikipedia user page as a source, as well as my SEDSWiki user page and the information I sent him by email. Thorough guy. I suppose I only have me to blame for the errors then; I should have updated those pages more often.
"One guy's story"
Post-KD Station article on UE
As back story, in late December there was a fire at KD Station, a meatpacking plant in Sioux City, Iowa, that had been turned into a fairly odd shopping mall, and then abandoned. The firefighters—quite reasonably—didn't want to risk their lives by fighting a fire in an abandoned building that is to be demolished, so they just knocked some holes in the walls and let it burn out.
There was a trip log to KD Station up on the Hollow Hills website, one I didn't particularly enjoy being distributed to the general public under the guise of urbex because it was more about partying in a location than it was about exploring. It included a photo of "Slim Jim Hollison" passed out on the putt-putt course and covered in marker, and it was one of the highest hits on Google for KD Station before the fire. There were rumors of looking for scapegoats, possibly including explorers, and so we made our best attempt at damage control. Aside from the mention of UER (it can be a ghastly place) and calling explorers "agents" (I try to avoid looking covert, as can be seen by me using my actual name), the article does a good job in explaining what UE is and why explorers don't burn places down.
The debate will rage on as to whether it's a good idea or a bad idea to talk to the press at all, but if all articles ended up like that, I would never have a problem with it.
Twin Cities UE awards
Mouser Week VIII, the latest in the longest running UE gathering in North America, is coming up soon. Once or twice a year the explorers of Minneapolis/St. Paul and visitors from associated states and countries get together to spend even more time than usual being places they shouldn't. There was a desire by many to do awards, so we're trying that out this year.
If you have explored in the twin cities, you get a vote in the awards. To receive a ballot, simply email me at email@example.com