Saturday, November 22, 2014

An Old Lady with Attitude

What is this? Surely it's not a hat.

I came across this while reorganizing our kitchen drawers. It's a tea cozy, designed to keep a teapot warm.

It was 1999. I was in Glasgow, Scotland, visiting my elderly aunt. Her elegantly dressed, equally ancient neighbor presented me with the tea cozy she had knitted.

The neighbor giggled as she told me how she had knitted a, ahem, willy warmer for the apartment building manager.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Dreaming of Kyushu

This winter I'll be back in Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four main islands.

I will have visited Kyushu three years in a row: 2013, 2014, and 2015. I go back for the gentle subtropical climate while Minnesota's long winter refuses to budge.

Kyushu is a manageable size, about one-sixth the area of Minnesota or Britain. It feels laid-back compared to the megacities to the north. The 800 miles (about 1,300 km) from Tokyo by bullet train to southern Kyushu is too far for most foreign tourists.

I treasure the national parks, gorgeous hiking trails, smoking volcanoes, the early cherry blossoms, the ancient cedars.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Travel Gear: Spectacle Case

You pay attention to every item that goes into your backpack if you're going to carry it for 330 miles (about 530 kilometers).

That was my state of mind when I planned a walk around the north of England with my partner.

I scrutinized every item. Does it provide sufficient value? Can I find something equivalent but lighter?

I used a spreadsheet to maintain a running total of the weight of our packs. Eventually each pack would weigh 14 lb (about 6.4 kilograms).

Our spectacle cases at 3 to 4 ounces (around 100 grams) each were preventing me from reaching the 14 lb goal. Our three cases would be approaching 3% of our total load. Not a lot, but I was getting compulsive about that goal.

I couldn't find spectacle cases that were sufficiently lightweight and crushproof. Then I learned from a Web discussion group about tenite butyrate tubing.

Monday, November 3, 2014

7 Ways Twitter Helps My Writing

I use Twitter as a microblogging tool.

Because I use photographs, Twitter limits my posts to 118 characters. In that small space I can tell a story about my day.

You can see the results in the sidebar to the right of this post. If you are reading this on your phone, my Twitter stream is here.

A small space to convey an idea forces me to examine my writing skills. Here's 7 ways Twitter is helping me to improve my writing.