Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Oh, Pioneer
It's a new year, it's time to plan new adventures!  I hope to do more of what scares me, and I am not a hero. I am full of fears, so it will be a battle every time.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Il mattino ha l'oro e l'argento in  ......goccia!
The year's almost over, and I have accomplished about 30% of the goals I set out for myself, and that cup, 30% full, is sweetness itself. 

Do you ever like to do an personal evaluation just take a look back at the year? Not with a eye towards self-criticism, but picking and choosing out all the good parts to take with you moving forward. I prefer to self-evaluate that way. There are mistakes of course, but a painful lesson will stay with you regardless, while those little happier moments may pale by comparison. Those moments, small and fine, have to be forcefully recalled into your consciousness. 

On another front, I've been slowly adding to my blogroll, as part of a subversive plan to promote calm and that elusive sense of zen that like to brag about at parties. So, you might want to check out Zen Habits and The Minimalists, two blogs that I can only describe through plagiarism, to quote a woman describing The Little Prince, a post has everything you need and nothing you do not. 

I hope you are good to yourself and others this holiday season! I have nothing but good thoughts and wishes for all of you.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Nepal horses3

A man overcoming his fear of water, which is included because I found it touching. A delicate scratching on the heart. I don't like open water, things like the ocean. Even the deep end of the pool. And it is infinitely hard to act in the face of your fear. So hearing that this man has conquered his fear scratches my the heart.

The Bechdel Test asks if a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. 

It's winter. It's time to update that travel wardrobe.

Winter sales seem to be a justification for spending more. What I've noticed is that when I spend, the act of buying something often leaves me more unsatisfied than before. That's why I've included this.

This is a great website, just in general, for all those larger life questions - such as when to get married. Unfortunately, some of the answers are painful. The one about having children especially so. To have children demands that you will have to take abuse, because children will take their anger out on those with whom they feel the most secure, whose love is unconditional. As the parent, you have to be able to see beyond the horrible things a child will say, and recognize the pain and insecurity feeding those words. That is a painful reality.

I don't know if there is a viable alternative to using Uber. And I've had nothing but positive experiences with drivers, so it's sad that the people running the company care so little for passengers.

Just because.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Esperos Everyday Tote

With every online sale, ESPEROS donates approximately $10 per bag. The money from each sale is donated in partnership with non-profits such as Pencils of Promise to help provide education to children in need.

Esperos Classic Backpack
Market Tote

Monday, December 8, 2014


Zurich river

Whenever I read travel posts, they alway seem bursting with positive energy. No one ever has bad travel stories. They always come back with a tremendous good time and a bucket full of memories and matching photos to boot. With that in mind, I decided to start a different trend, not to complain, but to share everything ranging from not great to downright horrific. Because I have no image to maintain and I work for free.

At some point during the trip, I decided I couldn't stand any of the people I had traveled with, and further decided to embark on an aggravated walk out into the night, alone, and there, in the twilight, I came across this river above, with the man silhouetted in the corner, a man who I assumed was contemplating his own death. Death, a friend informed me later, is a recurring theme in Switzerland because of the social pressure to always conform. I had no idea. Your house and lawn must always be in perfect order, you lawn perfectly coiffed. You always have to behave in such and such a way, and so on. So there is in Swiss society, an underlying current of despair, and possibly I picked up on that.
West Zurich2
Now, why then does this picture look markedly different than any of the others I have shown so far. Possibly it's because while I highly recommend staying in Central Zurich, or possibly the Northern suburbs, or any place bordering the central river, that isn't where I stayed. I stayed in the post-apocalyptic industrial wasteland known as West Zurich. There is stuff to be done there. There is a bar or two. There are business offices. There are train track you can lie down on if the idea of leaping into the river doesn't appeal.  The hotel where I stayed, the name of which will go unmentioned*, was a touch older than most. Or this is what I hope explains some of the curiosities.

For instance, each room, regardless of the number of occupants, only had one key. A single key. You have no idea how inconvenient that is until you cannot leave the side of the holder of the room key and you become some sort of international siamese twins for the duration of your trip. I highly do not recommend it. Second, my single key hung off some sort of object that was large and solid enough to be a weapon and seemed to serve no other purpose than to add bulk to my pants.

What does not come across in photographs, is how expensive this country is. And everything is expensive. Burger King is expensive. BK was also, to my regret, not very good. In fact, I didn't enjoy most of the food there, and this is part of the reason why I declined to list any restaurants. This was somewhat surprising. I went to a restaurant in the northern suburbs, I tried one of the most established restaurants in town. I even tried the restaurant in the hotel lobby. Crap, crap, and crap. All of it, including a desperate budget foray into Burger King.

Finally, I want to point out that it rained almost the entire time. No one takes pictures in the rain really, unless you want to get all artistic about it. Mostly because it's impractical, I have some pictures with fat drops of water on the lens running right down the middle, and that pretty much ruined the whole shot. But those will never appear anywhere, because those are more popularly known as "bad pictures." 
West Zurich
So here you go, pictures from my moody nighttime wander through some deserted industrial parts. Sometimes I would see people, and I just pretended I was invisible and moved on. In some ways, I quite enjoy moody nighttime meanderings. You're finally alone with your thoughts. You pick up on sounds, moods, contrasting objects. In hindsight, it's not too bad. 

West Zurich5

*Because as long as you don't stay in West Zurich, your chances of staying here are significantly less.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Monday, December 1, 2014


According to The Pocket Stylist, all you need is...

As December begins, it's time for all the shallow posts I've been hoarding all year long. Here's a nice template to have to cull your wardrobe down.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I wish you nothing but good thoughts this time of year, and came across this quote. It sets off sparks, don't you think?

Stay strong. Reach far. Rise above the fray.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014


Luminaries - Search for Meaning
The Luminaries and Man's Search for Meaning
Fiction: The Luminaries

Yes, the Booker prize winner of 2013. How boring! How uncreative! Why don't I just name drop whatever book Jonathan Franzen's just written? But here's the thing: it's a 700 page long gripper of a novel. I took it on flight with me and couldn't keep my hands off it. The language has a strong regional texture, and at 700 pages, it actually manages to stop your attention from wandering off into the distance. That is rare for me. I haven't had that kind of experience since Gone Girl. I don't expect Booker Prize winners to be gripping. I expect something more intellectual, a little lesson in structure and technique. Not that these weren't there, it's just so much more.

A sexist aside: I read a lot of male authors, and this is a shameful fact. So when I see a female author who has so much richness on offer, even at a slightly daunting 700 or so pages, I want to spread the word.

Non-Fiction: Man's Search for Meaning

I read this once, a long time ago when I was feeling a little lost and looking for signs from the universe, or how to read them. I wouldn't say this changed my life, that would be slightly dramatic and a lie. It's more a humble read from a humble man. It resets the mind and puts matters back into perspective where they belong. This is one of a few books that I would read again, to make sure that, as the title suggests, I look over at where I am, and that there is purpose and meaning built into the process. 

If you have excess time over Thanksgiving, and trust me not to mislead you, have a look at these. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Sky stupa
Buddhist Stupa
My idea of discipline is eating half a bar of chocolate, waiting half an hour, and then eating the other half. It is of no surprise to anyone that I have been trying and failing to develop a meditation practice for the better part of a year now. 

There's a lot of information out there right now about how to turn your home into a temple, steps you can take to help you develop your home practice, and if you're looking for something of that nature, then this post is not for you. Because that kind of self-practice takes a degree of discipline that is in severely short supply.  I need to hold some discipline in reserve for my many other vices.

What I think is the easiest way to cultivate a practice is to go out of your home and find a meditation center* or a group of people who meditate together. What I look for is the meditative energy that can be found there, that I can draw into my own practice. I would otherwise hate to mention "energies" or "crystals" or, God forbid, "auras" but sometimes, the term just applies. I find it infinitely easier to drag myself to a separate place to meditate in the company of strangers than in my home. 

When doing something difficult, there is always that initial hump that has to be overcome before you can build sufficient momentum to get going. Going to a separate location is the equivalent of getting over that hump. 

Here is a concept that was explained to me by someone much wiser to demonstrate what meditation can do for you:
Your thoughts are key. Your thoughts are the bridge between your internal and external self. Thoughts are the messenger of what is not right in the mind.   
Externally, your thoughts lead to words, which lead to actions, leading to your habits, and eventually to your character, nature, and personality.  Thoughts --> actions --> habits --> character, nature, personality
Internally, thoughts lead to your awareness, which creates your experiences, and then your emotions and feelings.  Thoughts --> awareness --> experiences --> emotions and feelings 
Through meditation, you become aware of the content of your thoughts, and can eventually learn to direct which thoughts you want to grow, and which you want to fade away.  Whatever you pay attention to will grow, and what you ignore will fade away.

*Yes, these things exist. 

Friday, November 14, 2014


wandering in the desert
Walking towards the East Fork river
If you navigate your way through miles of desert, via foot or car, you will eventually reach the river, and just a ways beside the river, there is a stream blowing steam. When water from the spring mixes with water from the river, the temperature becomes perfect. Absolutely perfect. 
east fork carson river
East Fork Carson River

hot spring tributary
Hot spring tributary at sunrise

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


"Revolutions have two phases: first comes a struggle for freedom, then a struggle for power. The first makes the human spirit soar and brings out the best in people. The second unleashes the worst: envy, intrigue, greed, suspicion and the urge for revenge."
- Adam Michik, Historian

Monday, November 10, 2014


Nepal yellow flowers

Oh, this is good. You see a man and a woman, together, in a bar. He's average height/weight and she's above average. In weight. You assume they're not together. How could they be? They're not in the same league. God forbid a man be attracted to this type of woman. God made women - to be thin. Or so the underlying rationale goes. I'm guilty of judging. I admit it. It's hard to stop. Call me out!   

Damn and Blast! I am too late! This kickstarter has been completely funded. The idea, however, is still a good one. I admit from the name I initially thought this had to be sex related. But then I realized I was being an idiot, and that this dress is a valid solution to that weird practice of changing out of sweaty workout clothes.

A variety of topics addressed here: how do you portray yourself online? People tend to image manage under the guise of aesthetics and curating and personal branding. At what point does this become inauthentic? And what happens when you lose that spark, that initial driving passion for blogging, and for being an online presence? What do you do then? 

You're welcome.

Marie Kondo is the author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up. Which I am going to read. I myself am an ardent believer in minimalist living. There is something freeing about having less choices for the brain to process, so it can shift gears to dealing with more significant matters, perhaps?

In my humble opinion, every once in awhile, it's good to scare people by putting on a mud mask. I'm going to try this one in the privacy of my home. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


My Samsung phone, because I'm too cheap for an iPhone
Let me complete that thought - would you ever ditch your smartphone and go back to just a flip phone? 

No constant online access. No email checking, instagraming, facebook check-in. None of that, gone forever. I'm not saying to ditch the phone entirely, because you never know when you might need to call or text, but that's all you get to do. 

A few years ago, I got a smartphone, and it was a glorious. It encompassed a whole new set of skills, a different technological vocabulary. I watched endless youtube videos to see if I could figure out how to root it. It was the small start of a minor revolution. 

Jump forward a few years, and smart phones are no longer de rigueur, but the norm. Everyone has one. Everyone's mom* has one. Most people have an iPhone. People gather in the dark, camping overnight, for a phone. Whenever I ride bus, I'm one of the few people looking around. Everyone else is riding on digital waves, cocooned between headphones, fingers gaming, eyes fixed to screens. Lately, I've seen people with an entire laptop, clicking away like they're alone at home. Except for the small fact that it's rush hour and they're on a bus. Next to me. That corporate logo looks great, BTW.    

Is this a bad thing?

That's the obvious question. Good or bad? Well, I'm not going to talk about whether throwing your smartphone in the eTrash is good or bad. If you want a straightforward case study, that's better handled by this article. There, that should scare some sense into you. 

No, what appeals to me is the idea of keeping a part of you, to you. Of being free. Smartphones, while providing endless fun and enjoyment, are also a personal anvil. I know it weighs less than a pound. That's not what I'm talking about. Here are all the ways I've compromised my life for my phone: Sprint offers pissy, piss-poor reception, and I have wasted countless hours of my sanity waiting for lame images to load. I always have to think about keeping my phone charged. I have an external battery that I carry around "just in case," which happens to mean every single day. There are only three major phone plan providers out there: Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Most of the other carriers run on the network of one of the big three. I will always be beholden** to one of these three corporate giants. Even if I get a flip phone. There's no avoiding it. However, there is an associated mentality that goes along with being beholden, the belief that a phone, particularly a smart phone, is a "necessity." Electricity, a flushing toilet, and a roof are necessities. A smart phone need not be. 

What I've also noticed with the advent of the Age of the iPhone is that I know too much about most people. It's human nature to be inquisitive. There was at one point an evolutionary imperative to be nosy. Now, however, we are drowning in personal information. It almost makes every individual piece of information, every picture, less valuable if you know another picture is soon to be coming down the pike. There are no room left for mystery. i guess the proper question here is: how well do you want others to know you? How about complete strangers? I know we live in a world of personal branding. You put your name next to your product, and you stand by it. I personally want only a small group of people to know me, and that's all. I've never wanted to know more about the author of the book I was reading. I respected them too much.

The third point, is to ditch your smart phone as an act of social defiance. That's all. Everyone else is doing this, so why should I follow where countless others have gone before? It's the path of the creative mind to move outside of established patterns, sometimes to move backward when others are charging forward, and to question in the face of overriding truth. 

My phone contract's not up yet. But I'm thinking hard about this idea. I'm not sure if I have the strength.***

* Except mine. It's a point of pride.
** Beholden, AKA paying a monthly fee
** So I will read this one more time: The Coolest Girl You Know Probably Uses a Flip Phone

Monday, November 3, 2014


Li Na, tennis champion
"When I started playing tennis, I was just a neighborhood kid with an after-school hobby, not realizing what magical journey lay ahead of me. If I only knew what a vehicle the sport of tennis, along with my success, would become for my beloved China. While my journey hasn’t been easy, it has been rewarding. I’ve seen change happening in front of my eyes, young girls picking up tennis racquets, setting goals, following their hearts and believing in themselves. I hope that I’ve had the opportunity to inspire young women all over China to believe in themselves, to set their goals high and pursue them with vengeance and self-belief.

Whether you want to be a tennis player, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher or a business leader, I urge you to believe in yourself and follow your dream. If I could do it, you can too! Be the bird that sticks out. With hard work, your dreams will come true."

- Li Na, reigning Australian Open winner

Monday, October 27, 2014


Haunted Hotel, England
What inspires you? 

Boredom inspires me. It began in High School, I use to get bored during Summer Recess from School. To pass time, I hand wrote a novel each summer. But, lacking confidence, I threw each one away as soon as School started again. 

Secondly, searching for a sense of accomplishment is my biggest inspiration. Unfortunately, I tend to write better when I’m down and I write to bring myself up. For example, in 2007, emerging from homelessness, I lived in an old historic relic of a hotel that was known to be haunted. Many of its residents were “put” there by Social Services or on drugs. Residents paid by the week so, for many it was a revolving door. I stayed locked up in my apartment raising my one year old Grandson, whose Mom abandoned him. Writing my recently released novel, 'To Dance with Ugly People,' was my escape and it made my life rich and rewarding. I felt in touch with a higher power while writing this book, which was my third inspiration. 

I’d pray for where to go next, having reached writer’s block, and I promise you the answer would pop into my head during the night. This novel brought me to a new divine awareness. I realized I had experienced a lot in life that had left me strewn and unsettled; the book brought about the resurgence of a strong feeling of cohesion, for me. I could feel my heart glow with excitement and enthusiasm as I wrote this book. 

Who inspires me? 

I have loved the written word my whole life. I have attended lectures and readings by Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, and Sonia Sanchez. I’d shed tears of admiration sitting in the Audience. Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker, Terry McMillan and Alice Walker are among others I have admired.

What are you passionate about doing? 

I am passionate about writing. I keep a notebook and pen in my purse, in every room and on the table beside my bed. I’ve started my second book. It is a sequel to, “To Dance with Ugly People,” titled “Ugly People Can’t Dance.” I am also passionate about dollhouses. I build them from kits. I shop on Ebay for miniature furniture, I paint the rooms with paint sample from Walmart. I make tiny curtains, shingle the roofs, place shutters, lay carpet, you name it. Once finished I give them away to a needy little girl.

How do you express your interests? 

In the middle of the night when the house is quiet and everyone asleep, I write. Sometimes I go to bed with a question on my mind, and the answer pops into my head. I jump up and write it down. I am retired, so I am able to take cat naps during the day. When I am working on my dollhouses, I think about the story I am writing.

How do you stay inspired? 

Listening for little sayings people use. For instance, I met an older lady who would say, “Don’t Dance with Ugly People!” every time we parted. That memory was my inspiration for my book title, “To Dance with Ugly People.” 

I am a people watcher. I am very quiet in a room full of people because I am listening so hard. Even a trip to the grocery store, has me nosily listening to every conversation I can. Phrases, Hints, Character names, Ideas (if it hits my ear right) gives me something I may be able to use. Day to day I am writing down my favorite things I have heard and I put in an hour a day, at least, writing. My son calls my writing a crossword puzzle. He is right. I might be writing something that is used in Chapter 10 today and haven't completed 1 through 9. I eventualy move everything around, put in some fill in and have a completed novel. I can't explain it any other way. 

The interview series comes from talking with creative types who want to share what what they do, what their interests are, and what inspires them, in the hopes of inspiring creative energy in others. If you have something to say that is if interest to others, feel free to submit.

Friday, October 24, 2014


"Being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself -- be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself -- by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love -- the more human he is."

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Sameen Shaw and Root
To begin on a note of complete disclosure, I had zero interest in the show Person of Interest when it first premiered. Zero. Two men: one has the brains, one the brawn, working together. Sound familiar? On the one hand, it seemed to involve slightly more creativity than most other shows. It didn't revolve around the usual trifecta of cops/lawyers/doctors (shows so formulaic they have been driven into the ground, resurrected, and then ground down even further until there was absolutely nothing left to explore). It also wasn't a drama centered around a quirky family. These were positive elements in the show's favor - not enough to rope me in, but vaguely hypothetically interesting, like String Theory. One of a long list of concepts that you can't even be bothered to google.  

Now, shoot to this week: I'm channel surfing, and I've been feeling sexist. It's an unsettling feeling: that sense that you don't gravitate naturally towards your own gender. I don't like shows for women. I don't like quirky female characters that suffer romantic setbacks and have their relationships, their proximity to a man, as their defining characteristic. I've never discussed interesting female characters before, and this is a trend that needs to be broken. 

There are some good female lead characters out there: any of the clones on Orphan Black, Carrie from Homeland (although a little too emotionally overwrought). I want a female that leads with her head instead of following her heart. Towards a man. Towards a never ending series of sunsets and heartache (See The Bachelorette).

So, there I was, channel surfing on prime time because I don't have cable, for something that wasn't so offensive that I could make dinner without having to run over to change the channel. And there it was: women double fisting guns, women kicking ass. Two of them. One slightly sociopathic (Shaw) and one devoted to a computerized Messiah (Root). Both of them appear to be ambidextrous when it came to handling semiautomatics - this show is mesmerizingly violent - and this is key - they're fun to watch. They breathe life into the show, and it's because they're having fun. They're breaking one of the subtle female onscreen stereotypes, that women are always supposed to be serious. Hyper focused. On their work, on the crisis, on their careers, and basically on not having any fun. Do you ever notice that 99% of the time, female characters have rods up their bums? They're sensible, sensitive, ready to get the job done, always empathetic. In a way, that makes them predictable, and in the long run, that makes them uninteresting. 

I wish legions of people weren't getting shot all over the streets of New York every week on this show. That's a minor complaint. Ironically, I'm becoming more and more sensitive to violent imagery the more I'm exposed to it. But I'm glad Shaw and Root exist. 

Friday, October 17, 2014


Zurich from above
I wracked my brain and then my camera trying to find a picture that didn't look like every other picture anyone's ever taken of Switzerland and came up with this. It's not pretty, it needed a touch up, and it probably doesn't even look like Europe at this angle, but there you have it: Zurich. My home base.

Incidentally, upon my return, I read that "going to Switzerland" has become synonymous with saying you are going to have yourself killed, because euthanasia is legal there and banned here, so there you go. To be clear: this is not why I went. An opportunity presented itself, and I took it. More and more, I'm embracing the notion of doing more and contemplating less ahead of time. This way, I can avoid the trap of rationalizing my way out of doing things. There are always reasons not to do something. Always. It's too expensive, you don't have the time, the timing is wrong, and so on. You can contemplate these excuses afterward, after you've gone ahead and done the deed. The doing option might not always be there.

In comparison with Lucerne, physically, there is no contest, Lucerne wins in the looks department hands down, no contest. However, if you think about it, here is a distinction: Lucerne is a place to visit, whereas Zurich is where you want to live. It's much more practical. I get the impression (based solely on a day trip) that once tourist season ends in Lucerne, everybody leaves. You have a city built around a singular industry: entertaining visitors. There's nothing wrong with that, it just makes the city less appealing to me rather than a fully functioning city. Don't misunderstand me, pretty much every server working in Zurich was from out of town, and good looking to boot. I don't mind that at all.

Zurich lakeside
Walk down by river
Zurich is a fully functional city. Public transportation is immaculate. Trains arrive constantly and will take you to every little corner of the city proper. It also operates - miraculously - on the honor system. As someone who is constantly being hustled awake on the bus by overly vigilant MTA* fare enforcers at ungodly hours (Sunday mornings, during rush hour), this is basically unheard of. You buy a paper ticket at the train stop, and then you just get on board. No flashing of paper, no clocking in. This is the way the honor system works. Upon boarding, other passengers are suspiciously courteous. Again, the contrast, where everyone in the US seems intent on staring down at their phones to the point of rudeness, the Swiss sense of social awareness is refreshing.

Zurich and swans2
Feeding swans is a national pastime
Where to stay: Practically speaking, I would find a hotel in Central Zurich, because that is where everything is: the shops, the restaurants, the nicer parts of the river. I would highly recommend becoming a morning person as well because, like Lucerne, everything closes around 6:30pm, so the earlier you get up, the more you can see. Did I stay in this area? No.

What to do: To orient yourself, just go to the travel agency located in the train station, and treat yourself to a proper map. In English. Now the world is yours to command. This map will list pretty much any museum worth seeing, and there are quite a few, along with multiple points of interest. This is one of the joys of being in a well organized city: you don't need a guide, you can find your own way.  
In an ideal world, you would also make sure to find your way to Sprungli, which is a chain chocolate store. To go to Switzerland and not eat chocolate is the equivalent of going to Paris and taking a pass on the Eiffel Tower. It's just not done. You can purchase truffles here by the gram (metric system), just as you would any other precious commodity. 
Deer lamps
Day trips: Uetliberg, for one (see above). If you train out of town, the train will drop you at the base of a peak. From there, you still have to walk, only a trifle, past deer lamps (see above) until you reach the overlook. For an added adventure, there is also Rhine Falls (see below), a quick and dirty bus ride away.
Rhine Falls
Rhine Falls
botanical gardens
Zurich Botanical Gardens
Now, a reality check. First, it rained all the time. Second, Switzerland is expensive. And you can forget about finding healthy snacks anywhere for the plane ride home. There's only chocolate and chocolate with nuts. I forget sometimes how San Francisco lives in a health bubble, one filled to bursting with  kale chips, protein bars and gluten-free vegan cookies that taste just like wood.  

A probably harsh lesson I'm still in the process of learning, is figuring out when to be rude on international soil. No matter where I go, whether first world or third world, I am still constantly being approached for money. Every time, I find it shocking. If they are good, they never lead with a request for money, they approach you with friendly conversation, and then the matter of helping them just comes up, usually after they have established that you are indeed a good person. In these situations, I have found, there is really no nice way of brushing people off, they will be insistent, and a firm "no," followed by a firm walking away is in order. I hate being rude, but when the alternative is feeling used, Miss Manners can turn the other way.
China Garden
China Garden, in Zurch
*San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Authority

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


"Not to change anything. I would probably say enjoy the freedom as much as you possibly can before it goes away. Enjoy the walks in the park and the backpacking and traveling and living.  Which I did, but I would have liked to have done more before it became a little less easy to do so. You can never prepare for the future, because it's all those things that build up to who you are. You have to let your younger self be scared of things and attack things head on. Make bold choices and make mistakes, and it's all those things that add up to the person you later become."

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Kathmandu rooftop
Kathmandu, Nepal
Here you are: October 8, 2014. Proof of life. I'm still walking the earth.

I just finished reading the article provided thoughtfully below by Maria Popova (writer of the inimitable Brain Pickings blog) where she casually mentions how she used to work until midnight writing and perfecting three articles per day. When she cut back, she was still writing two articles, whereas I have been on internet hiatus and otherwise loafing about in Southeast Asia. 

Here's some articles until I can get my act together:

Here is someone who works to please herself first, and then for others, as a pleasant afterthought. That is my ideal, or one of them at least. That attitude indicates an inner resilience, that underlying mental foundation that has been built up over time and is key, I believe, to doing good work.
You know what your own process is like, that weird fugue state, possibly frenzied, possibly miserable, but it's interesting to get into the heads of other people - preferably someone who is articulate - how others experience this unique process of creation. 

So the theme this week is people who have the strength to follow their vision in the face of blatant adversity. Douglas Tomkins, the founder of Esprit and The North Face is building national parks. All by himself. The locals revile him for it, because he is not using the land. But Tomkins is laying the groundwork for when he believes his work will be appreciated - ten years down the line. That is his vision, and that sustains him. Do you have the same degree of unshakeable faith in your work? 

Apparently location matters to creativity. This is probably not the first time you've heard this bit of advice, but with all the other advice out there, maybe this will stick. 

This is not about Emu. I don't use it and I don't care. What intrigues me is the writing style of this article. It's unique, whimsical, playful. I don't know how this works in longer bursts, but for this length, her voice stands out. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I had plans, I honestly did, to have posts queued up while I was gone, but I realize now that this is not going to happen. I'm leaving the country to a remote region in Southeast Asia. It's always been a dream of mine, to travel alone. Somewhere difficult. I've always traveled with friends previously, and that's a crutch. This solo trek is something that just needs to be done.  

One of the most difficult parts has been informing people. I'm using a smaller travel agency, and things might still go south. Until I'm physically trekking on foreign soil, I probably won't believe the whole thing is real. So usually, I prefer to do something, and talk about it afterwards. Just checked the weather report for the region, and there's nothing but thunder storms where I'm headed. I'm writing this post partly as an impulse, and hoping for the best.

What have you done recently outside of your comfort zone? 

I'll be back in two weeks. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014


Lucerne Bridge
Lucerne: Chapel Bridge
For the sake of sanity and brevity, I'm going to divide this post into discrete, digestible parts. Here we have Part 1: Lucerne, or Luzern, as the city is also otherwise known.

If you have ever found yourself in the middle of a dream, in an idyllic town that borders a lake, the water crystal clear, swans dotting the waterfront, charming sloped and steepled rooftops...you were probably in Lucerne. One dead giveaway is the iconic Chapel Bridge, above, which I have caught at a bad angle under bad lighting, so you miss the flow of red flowers that run down its flank. As soon as you emerge from the train station, you can traverse this iconic structure and settle into any of a number of quaint restaurants that line the water. There, you can sip, eat, and otherwise take full advantage of Swiss hospitality.

It rained almost the entire time. The moment the rain stopped, I took pictures, but every picture looks as if it were taken on a different day.

What there is to do:

Lucerne is clearly a city meant for the wanderer at heart. However, if you don't want to lounge, or wander elegant streets, or savor rich food, there is also the Sammlung Rosengart Museum, which houses a staggering private collection of modern art, mainly by Picasso.  I would include pictures, but they were not allowed, and you'll just have to take my word for it. Just keep in mind, however, Lucerne sleeps early. All shops close by 6:30pm, and the museum closes around 5:30, so if there is a store you want to visit, get there early, it won't always be there.  

Alternately, you can take a tour of the lake by boat. While I was there, there were two options: 1 hour, or 3 hours. My ideal time: 2 hours. Nothing's perfect. However, if you remain in the city awhile, and you should, you may decide to stay in one of the charming hotels right by the water, where I saw people fishing, rowing, and enjoying life.

To and From:

My home base was Zurich. Lucerne is a one hour train ride away. Trains generally come every half an hour, because the Swiss don't just make excellent timepieces, they use them as well. 
Lucerne lake Lucerne lakeside hotels
Lucerne lakeside tiny
I don't often include too many pictures, but I wanted to convey a sense of the place. That feeling you get from a city, that visceral immediate impression it makes on your memory through your eyes. It's the impression that stays with you, like an aftertaste, but in a good way.

Friday, September 5, 2014


White flowers
Flowers at sunset
I don't have the wherewithal to manage complete sentences. I've been reading fiction. 700 pages of it, all moving continually in a blur, and I'm finally toward the end. Life has never been better. In light of my current distraction, here's a few interesting bits while I get my act together. 

Here are ten things. I will maybe try one or two of them, because to try do everything is to make yourself miserable. Ten options is a nice number to choose from. You can think of it as choosing your own adventure.

Here's a man who likes to write straight and clean. I believe in doing the same. You do not allow your reader to look up from the page. You do not punish your reader by making them take out the dictionary. You reward your reader, you bedevil, you enrapture, you capture, and you enslave. 

Way back when I used to write papers, I had to include citations. The most reliable citations, the ones we were encouraged to use, were to books, while the least reliable were to wikipedia, or some sketchy website on the seventh google search page that may potentially also have been a link to a virus. There is an implied integrity in a book, it implies that someone, somewhere, took the time to thoroughly edit and fact check every tiny piece of minutia before it would ever be allowed the privilege of publication. Well, that assumption is wrong. We are all screwed. Books are like people. They can lie.

This Outfit, because I'm a fashion sheep at heart.

This is a video. You might want to relocate yourself to a more appropriate location for this. It's often thought that the creative mind is prone to bouts of depression. When you are creative, you move about on the fringes of the known (where the act of creation can take place, yes?) and as a result, I believe, are uniquely vulnerable. Hence, depression. That is my theory.

I have an empathy problem. Whenever I think about what it must be like to have naked pictures of yourself circling the web, I want to vomit blood. I hope people join together in a silent protest that involves not looking and not discussing, so that interest can die. I'd rather reflect the light onto the perpetrators instead.  

Monday, September 1, 2014


China Garden2
China Garden, Zurich
In the true spirit of Labor Day, I am working, albeit at a "relaxed" pace. In my stead, is a reflection in water. If I were not working, a one day holiday would be ideal time for self reflection, which is both a rich world indulgence and absolutely necessary. 

There is usually so little time available in the set routine of the week, that you may find yourself subconsciously biding your time for a holiday, an extra day that isn't long enough to plan an full fledged vacation, but short enough that you suddenly have time to take a breath and take look around. Take stock of where you are. Make changes. 

I've been thinking about my own summer so far, and I can say without sarcasm that I'm pretty well satisfied with it. I've spent a lot of time outdoors, lost track of what's happening on TV, and I've somehow managed that small miracle of forging new friendships, which I've heard is nearly impossible to do as an adult. 

I hope when you take a look at where you are, you feel a sweet indulgent swell of pride. 

Friday, August 29, 2014


One of the ways to save time, I've heard, is to have a go to uniform. That is, an outfit you wear every day, without having to think too hard or too long. You save your creativity for other endeavors, assuming your creative energy is finite. 

So I've been thinking, if I had a uniform, it might look a little bit like the above: black, beautifully cut, not too studied, a touch casual, a touch sleek. And of course I would have to exercise like the devil to maintain that streamlined physique, so that I wouldn't look ridiculous. What would your uniform look like?

Monday, August 25, 2014


In an ideal world, incidentally one in which I do not live, this would be the first part of a series, where I have somehow managed to write a travel post in the shape of a story, one that refreshes the memory of those who have already been, and inspires those who have not. 

Unfortunately, editing and jetlag and the ordinary flotsam of life (Buying groceries! Taking out the garbage!) have taken over, and instead of a post, I have managed to edit this one picture from Lucerne, in Switzerland. It's a beautiful city, set alongside a resplendent river littered with swans. 

I will figure this out. There is more to come. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


If I tried to do this myself with my limited skills, it would probably involved double sided tape. But it's a novel idea. It's interesting, like creating a geometric maze in your home. Practically speaking, this may involve payment rather than DIY. But there is probably someone out there in the universe thinking: I wonder if Lowes carries that type of pipe...

Monday, August 18, 2014



I love these. Just love them.

Current Events
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is slowly becoming a personal favorite. She always has incisive commentary, that cuts right to the bone, and this particular bone may belong to her colleague Justice Kennedy, aka "Mr. Swing Vote." What is interesting here, is the argument that Kennedy's decisions reflect an underlying paternalistic attitude toward women, but not gay men, that may be the ultimate deciding factor. It's convincingly argued.    

This is from 2013, but who knows? It might still be applicable one year later. Harvard researchers followed 268 male Harvard undergraduates, class of 1938-1940 (hardly a representative sample, but I digress) for 75 years, collecting data at regular intervals. The conclusions he drew were put into a book. A quick summary is linked.

This French print. It's French and it's art.

There are two movies I can pull off the top of my head that are based on this lie - that if you were able to access your brain's full 100% capacity, you would be a telekinetic genius as well as incredibly athletic and emotionally well adjusted, etc. I know this is a lie, but so far have no reference to back this up. Here is a solid article dispelling that myth.  

I like how this is short and to the point. Four things only, and you might find yourself less aggravated. It's a win/win.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Sometimes it's all in the title. The PDF of the book is free and the recipes are on the cheap. Some people are very kind. Get your copy here and maybe donate. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Calm Down Now
So. How's your day going? Bad? Good? Good but could be improved? All of the above? If you answered all of the above, and don't realize the inherent contradiction involved, here's an app you may want to try: Calm Down Now. This should be available for both apple and android. 

It's $1.99, so it's not free, but it costs less than a Starbucks latte, so that puts the price in perspective. I've been poking around for app's with guided meditation, which is a step above some apps that only make noise with gongs or bells. Depending on your personal preferences, this may be a good thing. Here to help!  

Monday, August 11, 2014


Subway pools
Subway Pools/Flickr

I'm going to be out and about this week and the beginning of the next, so here's just...some interesting content. It's not always possible to travel across the pond (now, by "pond" I mean the Atlantic or Pacific ocean, depending on your preferred coast), so it's nice to know someplace a little closer to home that doesn't suck. 

This above image is the from Utah Zion National Park courtesy of this guy.

And here are a few others I've found...
Zion National Park
The Subway
The Subway
Zion National Park
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