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Spam Kings by Brian S McWilliams

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Hawke Goes Home to Rhode Island

Frigid air cascaded through the open windows of Davis Hawke's new apartment in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The temperature outside that night in January 2002 dipped into the low twenties. It was only marginally warmer inside the unheated bedroom on the top floor of the triple-decker at 40 Crescent Road. But Hawke slept soundly on a mattress on the floor, covered by just a thin blanket.

Since leaving the South that fall, Hawke had become obsessed with his health. He was a strict vegan, eating no animal products whatsoever and relying primarily on edamame soybeans for his protein. He consumed no refined sugar and completely abstained from alcohol, cigarettes, and recreational drugs. Sleeping in a well-ventilated bedroom was part of that regimen. Unfortunately, Pawtucket, a mill town just outside Providence, had some of the worst air Hawke had breathed in years. Ozone levels in Rhode Island regularly exceeded limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency, and the state was vexed with one of the nation's highest rates of childhood asthma.

But the cold night air was good preparation for a goal Hawke had of spending a week without a tent or other equipment on Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast, renowned for its brutal weather. To harden himself for the challenge, he had been reading about a boot camp run by the U.S. Air Force called SERE, which stood for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape. SERE taught students how to survive in all ...

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