Category Archives: world

Another blogger writes about racism and where it begins

So every blogger on in America is telling us how to respond to the shootings in Charleston. Everyone is trying to say the one profound thing that’s going to send an arrow straight to the heart of racism and explode it.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because, like many have said, we need to talk about it. We, the white folks (who seem to all have blogs), need to talk about it. We also need to listen to our black, brown, and everything else friends. To fall back on my grad school vocabulary: it’s time for everyone to interrogate whiteness.

So this blog post does not contain the one nugget that’s going to change racism. Continue reading

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#ILiketoTravelBut

A friend of mine coined a hashtag that makes me laugh. #ILiketoTravelBut.

I like to travel but…I hate sitting in coach.

I like to travel but…I don’t like losing money to the exchange.

That kind of stuff. But lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about travel’s place in the soul, or at least my soul. About why they call it wanderlust.

I like to travel but…I hate pulling out of the driveway.

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Leaving home always strikes me with the deepest sense of regret. Even if I know I’m coming back. I know I’ll have an amazing adventure as soon as I get over it, but it always catches in my chest, just for a moment.

I like to travel but…it could kill me. Continue reading

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Friday Night Rant: Social Media is not killing us

Sometimes there are socially vogue rants that make me want to move to Siberia. Hating on social media is one of them.

I’m just as annoyed as the next guy by the constant dinging of my phone (so I turned off my push notifications), the 19 Facebook notifications that have nothing to do with me, and the rivers of unfiltered troll vomit on Nextdoor.

HOWEVER, I find it more tiresome when people whine about social media, and talk about how stupid it is. How over it they are. Everytime I hear that I think, “it’s okay, old man, we know you’re overwhelmed by what the kids are up to these days.” Or “yes, I know, little girl, you’re cooler than God.”

Use it, don’t use it. I don’t really care. But if you use it, own it.

Part of owning social media is understanding how it works. So lets break it down: Continue reading

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Wanderlists: Best Hotels- Stayed in

My mother raised us to believe that it was not a vacation unless we were staying in a hotel. Simultaneously, however, she earned her title as Mom-Cheapola-Cheapola. I have staying in some serious dives. Serious. What would you expect to find in a Motel 6 on the outskirts of Vegas? Use your imagination.

Or there was the motel in Grove City, Pennsylvania when the snowy gusts rolled in under the 3 inch gap between the door and the floor while I held the phone cord into the wall so we could call home (these were the days of roaming charges).

We stayed in some great places too, don’t get me wrong. Mostly while snow skiing. Mom had the good sense to book comfortable places when the whole family was worn out and wind-burnt. And once we did stay at the nicest hotel in Marfa, just for fun. If I had known I would one day make regular pilgrimages to Marfa, staying in a refurbished Airstream, I think I would have laughed.

Continue reading

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Wanderlists: Bookstores

One of the great joys of watching Moira grow has been her fascination with books. She loves them as objects, and she loves them as stories. She could have gotten that from either parent, really. The chief design challenge in our little house has been how to incorporate bookshelves. Every single room in the house (except the bathrooms, because Seinfeld) has a book shelf.

I’m not an anti-ebook essentialist at all. But for me, the tactile experience is part of the transportation. I don’t just love the content of what I am reading, I love the experience of reading it. So a good bookshop, for me, is like confectionary or a spa. If I liked amusement parks, I may draw that parallel. But I don’t, so I won’t.

A visit to the Twig, our local indie, is part of our weekly routine. And nothing is more exciting in a new city than visiting their proudest indie bookshop. Being surrounded by ink and ideas, fabulous graphic design, and that satisfying heft of pages is so peaceful to me.  And a good indie book store is overflowing with possibilities, and like the books themselves, the experience of being there is just as fulfilling as the items you take home.

Lewis and Moira at El Ateneo in Buenos Aires

Lewis and Moira at El Ateneo in Buenos Aires

While I can’t say that I’ve been to all the best book stores in the world (notably missing is Powell’s of Oregon), I do have a list of favorites. (but all the photos below are from our most recent bookshop experience, as I don’t usually take many photos in bookshops…) Continue reading

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Wanderlists: night lights

I have a thing for lights at night. Maybe because I’m afraid of the dark, and I’m so thankful for any light that alleviates that. Maybe it’s because light seems more precious in the dark. More specific and intentional.

Best I can tell, I’m not alone in that. The world seems to have a love affair with all that twinkles, sparkles, and glows. All things that light does in the dark.

These are my top five encounters with light at night. (Note: I don’t have pictures for most of my favorites, and I’ve always been terrible at night time photography…so I have substituted in other pictures of light at night, which are not favorites, and not particularly good, but the post needs pictures…so….)

These famous lights at night are also nice.

These famous lights at night are also nice.

1) Chiang Rai Night Bazaar– coming from my conservative Christian college, on my first travel abroad, I stumbled into the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar in northern Thailand. A fine mist hung in the air and caught the yellow light from the merchant tents lining the walkways and the string lights over picnic tables where people were eating, among other things, fried grub worms.

Continue reading

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Wanderlists: detours

Whenever I travel (or sometimes just in life), it’s fun to have a bizarre goal. A life non-sequitur. Something that I’ve found online, through a friend, or in a novel that makes no sense with the rest of the itinerary (or my life).

Nine times out of ten, they are my favorite part of the trip (and life). Like flying to New York City to see the New York Ballet dance to Sufjan Stevens’s The Year of the Rabbit.

And yes, that one time out of ten, they fail spectacularly. I’m looking at you, Tombstone AZ and Antarctica Exhibit at the Natural History Museum of London.

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Really, Tombstone?

These are my five greatest hits in Itinerary Detours

Continue reading

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Wanderlists: My Top 10

Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t just make my blog a travel blog. I love to travel, I work in travel…

But my travel writing has always been pretty mundane. I’m not good at reflecting on places I’ve only been to once for a brief moment. On the other hand, keeping a diary of where we went and what we ate has just never appealed to me. Not to knock all the travel blogs out there (I consult them frequently for packing tips and restaurant suggestions), but I never get from writing the salty expansion of the soul I get from traveling. For me the world was meant to be seen.

That said, I love lists. Especially lists that inspire wanderlust.

So I’ve decided to list about travel, instead of writing about it. These are my wanderlists.

Wanderlist #1: The 10 Places I Love Most (besides home, of course)

It’s only fair to start out any series of list with the broadest, most general list. So here are my 10 favorite travel destinations. Anything goes: cities, states, parks, countries. There’s no real criteria; those lists will follow. This is just my love list.

1) London – I loved London even before grad school, though that’s definitely when I tucked it deep into my soul, never to be removed. And it’s a place I found I can go back to, with others. London definitely benefits from the good company I had while I was there on visits, but more so, it benefits from its own cosmopolitanism and love of order. London is orderly without forsaking charm, whimsy, and the element of surprise.

Continue reading

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Moira Brings the News: MERS

There’s a new health scare, this time coming from the Middle East. As though Americans needed one more reason to be scared of the Middle East.

Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) arrived onto US soil via a healthcare worker who had been in Saudi Arabia. According to this Reuters story, the man is improving and all exposed have been quarantined, but worldwide there have been 93 MERS-related deaths.

MERS is a virus-cousin of SARS, which came to us from China, another place Americans didn’t need another reason to fear. And just so you know, MERS is a coronavirus, and it’s spread through the air and through poop. So, two simple precautions for those taking the utmost care not to contract the deadly disease: don’t handle unfamiliar feces and don’t breathe.

For more on the precautions we should be taking to protect ourselves from MERS, we turn to Moira Sage:

Don't breathe on me

 

 

 

Thanksgiving on the Train

This Thanksgiving, Lewis and I headed to West Texas, a favorite destination of ours. My mother in law spearheaded this adventure, and Lewis and I ended up learning a few new variations on the journey. Mainly…train travel.

Here are some tips on train travel.

1) Get a sleeper car. Even if the trip is supposed to take place in daylight hours, get a sleeper car. We boarded the Sunset Express at 2:45 am at the station 4 min from our house. We tucked in an went right to sleep.

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We woke up 5.5 hours later to see this.

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A quick calculation showed that we had moved two blocks, approximately one more minute from our house. Two minutes, if you have to sit at the light because there’s a train crossing.

2) Another advantage of the sleeper car is that your meals are included, and the train food is surprisingly, not bad at all. Trains have that on planes, for sure.

3) On the way to your destination, if there’s daylight (thanks to a 5.5 hour delay), take advantage of the view car. West Texas is lovely when you are not behind the wheel! I enjoyed getting an upclose look at all the train bridges I usually admire from Hwy 90 as we pass over the Pecos River and Lake Amistad.

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4) If you are pregnant, get a room with an en suite bathroom. Ignore the fact that there is a shower in there as well, and the thought of trying to shower on the moving train in a 3 sq.ft stall seems like the recipe for disaster. You will love not having to get up every two hours and walk down the hall with your maternity jeans on backwards, bouncing from wall to wall as you stumble toward the bathroom. Plus, you can reach the sink from the bed.

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If only all sinks were conveniently reached from the bed, making toothbrushing and handwashing far more likely to occur.

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5) Here is a fun game. Train signage is the best. Few enough people travel by Amtrak, that they have not had the mountains of “What IS that?” feedback that have, over time, honed the signage on airplanes and highways. Thus…we have these gems. “Create your own captions” was our favorite train game. (ABC by the Roadside is not so much fun on Highway 90. If you have not gotten past Q by Del Rio, you’re not going to win).

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Apparently damnation awaits those who leave a trail of pee and toilet paper on the floor. As it should

This gave us hours of laughs. Caption for B2, "If you are going to be sick, use the seat for balance and groan loudly."

This gave us hours of laughs. Caption for B2, “If you are going to be sick, use the seat for balance and groan loudly.”