Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Freakin' Cheap: Free Telecom

The typical household pays north of $20,000 over ten years in landline, long distance, and mobile phone fees.

In our household, we pay almost nothing for these services.

There is a long history behind free telephone service. In the 1960's and 70's, phreaking was the art of hacking the public phone system using tone generators called blue boxes.

The "Worthy" Poor

I was helping "Maria" to apply online for a job.

She had a good job history, she was eager and presentable. Maria was just the kind of person I would want to serve me in the low-wage position she was seeking.

There were just a couple problems that prevented her from completing the form: she didn't have a fixed address or a phone number. Maria was homeless and destitute.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015

Scenes from a Day in 2010

The deep sleep during the overnight long-haul across the ocean.

The pause between flights when I photograph a Heineken. I email the picture to a friend who is in a different place, a different time. I remind him of this place, this time of day, this beer, three years earlier when he and I were on our way to work in Stockholm, Sweden.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Zen and the Art of Casserole Assembly

Oh, the things I wish I'd known when I was young.

Take the ingredients for a basic bake pictured at the top of this post. They look simple enough but for me they represent small lessons learned over decades.

Friday, May 1, 2015

My Kagoshima: Chunking the Map

I'm filled with questions when I look at a map of a place I have never visited.

How do I chunk up a manageable journey through this place? How do I get there? Which areas do I visit? Where are the hiking trails? Where are the trailheads? How do I get around? How do I find a room?

I once stared at a map of Japan and, like most newbies, focused on central Japan. Most visitors stick to this part of the island of Honshu. They visit Tokyo and points south, 4 hours or less by bullet train, Kyoto, Hiroshima. Easy, populous, over-loved.

The first time my partner and I stopped in Japan, we used Kyoto as a base for exploring: a good plan for first-time visitors.

Since that first trip, I've found I can go to just about any corner of Japan and find a great place for the solo hiker. I find good trails, decent and inexpensive places to stay and eat, reliable public transport, civility and safety.

If I could visit only one region of Japan, it would be Kagoshima Prefecture on Kyushu, the southernmost of the main islands.