Highlights from the Week of August 31, 2015

Relying on free Wifi, it hasn’t been easy to post regularly. Mi dispiace!

Here are some photo highlights from my first week in Italy. Piacere!

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Defending Your Life

Op-Ed

What does living life, really living life, look like? In the film “Defending Your Life,” when a person dies the universe looks back on scenes from that life, to see if they have really lived. They judge this by whether the person had overcome fear… If the universe looked at moments of your life, what would it look like?

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Woman Disappointed That Colombia Was Awesome

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(Los Angeles, CA) After receiving multiple warnings about crime, disease, and danger in Colombia, one woman was disappointed that her vacation turned out quite fabulously.

“I was very excited before my trip to Colombia,” the woman recounted. “But every time I would mention my destination, I would get “Oh” and “Be careful” and “I knew a woman whose father was kidnapped in Colombia and she vowed never to live there again.”

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Botero, Fernando. Death of Pablo Escobar. 1999. Oil on canvas. Museo de Antioquia, Medellin

 

 

 

Crime was the subject most frequent of well-meaning warnings. Previously warned of strangers blowing drugs in her face and stealing her money, the woman momentarily forgot when she spoke to a man standing next to an ATM. He not only turned out not to be a drug-blowing thief, he was not even in line for the ATM but rather waiting for his girlfriend.

Another concern was potential vandalism and rioting. The woman joined the city of Medellìn in watching their futbol team play in the championship finals against Argentina. But when the home team was defeated, there was no rioting, or even yelling and loud talking. Everyone quietly dispersed from the restaurants and the park, and quietly went home.

Not even tourist ripoffs or police misconduct was done with any aggression or malice. An exorbitantly expensive cab ride came with friendly chatter and compliments on her friend’s Spanish. And a tale of a sick friend needing an operation was a gentle way for police to try and relieve tourists of money. When the woman declined, the policeman quietly nodded his head and returned to his post.

And no – no freeze. No rock. No freeze. No rock.

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Disease warnings from health professionals and public health initiatives also failed to come to fruition. As her typhoid and yellow fever vaccinations were administered before the trip, the travel clinic nurse warned of monkeys jumping on her without warning. However only one monkey was spotted, and even then the monkey lacked any interest in moving let alone biting her. Despite more than 55 mosquito bites, the woman also failed to contract dengue fever, which has no vaccination. The woman did not even catch lice from a fellow hiker on the Ciudad Perdida trek, who prior to discovery was boasting that she had not taken a shower in over a month.

But the trip was not completely void of danger.

“The first night I arrived,” the woman shared, “there was a centipede in the room. He moved quickly and then rolled into a ball. But when he later unfurled and slithered around, I will admit that there was some screaming.”

“After the hotel desk manager killed it, he asked us not to scream any more.”

Other insects, such as spiders and swarms of ants, were also traveling companions on the Ciudad Perdida trek, where 1,200 slippery rock steps led you to the “Lost City.”

“Yes,” the woman admitted, “there was more screaming and yelping when the ants started crawling on our shoes.”

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Being in urban areas also failed to be dangerous. The closest brush with death was in a taxi ride to the airport, when the driver drove the wrong way on a windy two-lane mountain road to avoid the long line of cars. And when it was discovered that the cause was an accident, the driver seemed to have other priorities in mind.

“Rather than wait in the car,” the woman recounted, “the taxi driver got out of the car and held up his flip phone as he chatted with other people standing around or waiting in cars nearby.”

“When the driver finally returned to the taxi, he gleefully showed us his video.”

After traveling more than 4,500 miles (including almost 100 miles on foot), the woman was confident in reporting that Colombia was amazing. And the people as nice as anything.

“I met a woman on the connecting flight to Cartagena,” the woman said. “She said that while there were places in Medellìn that were dangerous, she also knew the best places to shop for jewelry at great prices and she would take me. More than a month after this brief conversation, this same Colombian called me to ask me about my trip.”

“I know,” the woman resigned, “how awesome is that?”

Thanks For Nothing, 2013

Editor’s Letter

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Dear Family, Friends, Fans and Web Bots,

As the end of 2013 has come and gone, I am reminded of all the things I didn’t accomplish. All the grand plans of things I was sure I would achieve, and had not… Like posting this before the New Year.

I set out to read 12 books this year.

I read 2.

I thought my career would advance with a promotion.

I was not promoted.

I was challenged to recharge my love life.

No recharging… only sputtering and then electric shock.

But as I further reflect, the year had something else in store.

With a desire to spend more time with friends and family, I traveled more than 14,000 miles in 2013, the same as from LA to Timbuktu… twice. Destinations of the heart included the Bay Area (thrice), Ojai, Portland, Chicago, Panama, Vegas, San Diego, and Chino Hills.

While not technically dating, I was also challenged to actually talk to people. I ended up having very interesting conversations with attractive guys, including a Canadian butcher-turned-urban planner, and a former professional athlete-turned-holistic medicine man. Waiting in airports helps. Biochemical engineering professors and those of questionable employment were also in the mix.

And because of changes at work, I’ve been roused to action. I’ve reflected and pursued those things that bring me joy, excitement, and the comfort of feeling without regret. In addition to being a full-time employee and student, I completed an online Foreign Policy class for pleasure (and yes, even with assigned readings I didn’t finish more than 2 books – don’t judge).

In many ways beyond those listed above, 2013 was a terrible year — full of loss, heartache and disappointments. But as Fraulein Maria sang, nothing comes from nothing… nothing ever could. So the joy I’ve experienced, the love and support I’ve felt, and the enduring hope I feel for the future…

I must’ve done something good.

Happy 2014.

Warmest regards,

S. T.

“Woman”

(image source)