Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Emptiness of Social Media

In the past couple days there have been over 13,000 views of the above post in my microblog. Thirty-nine strangers have "liked" it.

Typically, at this point, there would have been about 100 impressions.

My microblog is an exercise in gratitude for something about each day of my life. I use Twitter as the platform for my microblog. It has a good app that makes it convenient for posting.

I don't particularly use Twitter as a social medium, but I do enjoy it as a way to interact with individuals or organizations via direct messaging. I don't follow people on Twitter, except via private lists.

The driver of traffic to my recent post is Rick Steves, an American travel broadcaster specializing in European travel. I respect him: he travels light, and he tries to understand what he sees without xenophobia. The simple act of him or one of his assistants liking or retweeting a Tweet gives that Tweet a life it does not necessarily deserve. Hence the exposure for my recent post.

The power of social media to distort concerns me. Today I logged into Facebook for the first time in a couple years and deleted my account.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Time I Visited a Moonie Commune

San Francisco, March 1977. I had just finished my first business trip to the USA, and was now spending a few days walking around San Francisco. I loved the place to the point that I had changed a flight so I could stay an extra two days.

At Fisherman's Wharf I chatted with a couple. They were about my age, and extremely pleasant.

I quickly figured out they were Moonies,. Their cult was notorious for brainwashing young people, estranging them from their families, then marrying them off in mass weddings

I had read about Divine Deception a Moonie principle that justifies lying to serve the greater purpose. I had fun saying things that I knew would be counter to their beliefs, and only getting smiles and affirmations in return.

Eventually, one said: "Hey, would you like to come to our commune?"

How could I refuse? I was 26 and invincible.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

An Incoming Snowstorm

Yesterday, with a big snowstorm promised, I rushed to get through some errands. It was starting to snow, the gritty sort that stings your face.

When the temperature hovers around freezing, we get the gritty kind. This is sometimes preceded by freezing rain then sloppy snow as the temperature drops. As the temperature continues to fall, the snow becomes drier and lighter. Towards 0°F we get the fluffy, dry kind that squeaks underfoot.

I'd read that indigenous people in the far north have over fifty words for snow. These days I tend to mistrust everything I read, so I started Googling on my phone. A Washington Post headline shouted "There really are 50 Eskimo words for ‘snow’." This got me suspicious as "Eskimo" is a controversial term, best avoided.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Walking With Attitude Through Cancer Survivors Park

I had left the bright sunshine and blue sky that often follows a Minnesota snowstorm and entered the shadow of a corporate building.

I walked past a snow shovel propped up at the entrance to a park in front of the corporate building. A worker had shoveled the entire path through the park. This was 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday: this is a well-managed place; a major overnight snowstorm had only let up a few hours earlier.

I was walking through the Richard & Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Park. I could have been in any of the 25 North American cities which have Richard & Annette Bloch Cancer Survivors Parks. Each park has the same themes and sculptures.
"There are three factors present in each Park. First is a positive mental attitude walk with 14 bronze plaques, four inspirational and 10 instructional. Second is a sculpture of eight life-size bronze figures passing through a maze representing cancer treatment. The five before the maze show fear, hope and determination in their faces while the three after are laughing and happy, representing successful treatment. Third is a “Road to Recovery” consisting of seven plaques explaining what cancer is and basic actions to successfully overcome the disease." [Source.]
But the snow kept me firmly rooted in Minneapolis.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Seven Metal Detectors

There are things I have had to do that I've only done because my nephews are part of my life. Changing diapers, geocaching, and metal detecting quickly come to mind.

Changing diapers is what it is. The little one does what he has to do, then I do what I have to do. Both jobs done well.

Geocaching is high up my Surely-You-Can-Think-Of Something-Better-To-Do™ Scale.

I like to keep moving, so stopping to clamber through undergrowth, searching for a hidden cache, is not my preferred activity. But when you have little ones bicycling along with you, it's a good way to motivate them to cycle further than they would otherwise choose. Being on a mission distracts them from boredom and imagined tiredness. A distant Dairy Queen also helps.

Near the top of my SYCTOSBTD scale is a grown man with a metal detector.

So today, Presidents Day, it was with these thoughts I set out for the home of my 9 and 10-year-old nephews to work through the mechanics of seven metal detectors with them.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Perches Above a Rail Yard

It's 1906. A man looks down from his perch high above a rail yard and the flour mills it serves. The caption for the stereograph simply reads "Huge flour mills where grain crops are made into food for the world, Minneapolis, Minnesota."

From our temporary Minneapolis Mill District home, a rented condominium, I love to stare out at a place that was once a busy rail yard serving flour mills. I imagine the complex pattern of rail tracks, the sounds of shunting locomotives, and the sulfurous smoke.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Mapping My Next Travels

On a freezing February day in Minnesota, it feels good to think about upcoming travels to warmer places. Today, I've been assembling digital and print maps.

As usual, my winter trip has several phases, each with its own mapping requirements. The trip starts in the Florida Keys and culminates in a walk from one side of Britain to the other along a national trail, the Hadrian's Wall Path. This sounds grander than the reality: the path runs from coast-to-coast at Britain's narrowest point.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Beyond the Hogwarts House

Two blocks from our home in the Minneapolis Mill District, on a dead-end side-street, there's a single-family home that is decidedly different. Some people call it the Hogwarts House; others call it the Arundel House.

I love to stand outside the house and spot fantastical architectural elements, including the wizardly dormer in the photo at the top of this post.

Usually I can continue my walk up the street, beyond the Hogwarts House, and slip through a gap in a barrier. Today, my way is blocked by a chain-link fence and a guard post.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Freakin' Cheap: How to Fly with a Pet Without Paying Fees

December 26, 2017, United Airlines 5637, MSP--SAN. The two women in the AB seats in our row had two dogs on their laps for the entire flight. They stowed two collapsible kennels in an overhead bin.

United Airlines charges $125 per pet brought on board, and it has to be stowed under a seat in a kennel at all times. You might think the round-trip fare for two dogs would be $500.

Wrong. Dogs can travel at no cost.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Snapshots: Whanganui National Park

Today, a jet boat brought us back to a world with Internet and roads.

Three days earlier I maneuvered our rental car along a narrow, winding road, avoiding recent rockfalls. At Pipiriki, New Zealand, a jet boat came to take us up the Whanganui River, through a vertiginous gorge, to the Bridge to Nowhere Lodge.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Snapshots: Egmont National Park

New Zealand's North Island has three national parks: Egmont, Whanganui, and Tongariro. On this trip we selected Egmont and Whanganui, two of New Zealand's less-visited parks.

We've spent two days hiking Egmont's lovely trails, with two more days to go.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Snapshots: Queen Charlotte Track

Our descent into Marlborough, BHE, New Zealand, gave us a preview of our upcoming visit to the region. First we flew over the crenellated, sunken valleys of Queen Charlotte Sound, then we came in low over the vineyards of Marlborough wine country.

Our first priority was to hike the Queen Charlotte Track, a path people usually walk over four days.