Category Archives: On Life and Love

Whatever is making or breaking my day.

Visiting Russia: the Unfriendly Reactions

The trip to Russia is in planning–our traveling companion is researching hotels (so we can get visas!) and sight-seeing destinations in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

An aerial shot of Norilsk, Russia.
An aerial shot of Norilsk, Russia.
What’s been surprising me is how much negativity I get when I tell people I’m planning a visit to Russia. “It’s depressing!” (with pictures like the one to the right) “Don’t go to XYZ!” “It’s super-dangerous!” “The USSR?!”

It’s disappointing that my friends and colleagues have little other than (relatively uninformed, I think) skepticism and dire warnings. I find wonder in so many things; a few pictures from the internet don’t suffice to satisfy or discourage that. I might choose not to visit an active damn war zone. I might choose not to flirt with women or gender-bend in a homophobic country. I might also choose not to travel alone.

But as someone who still marvels at standing at the edge of a country or continent in their own damn state, how can I pass up an opportunity for this kind of experience?

Future Proof Has a Blog!

Go read it and subscribe! We’re just getting warmed up, but there’s an announcement there that will be of some interest to folks who might be asking, “Whatcha working on now that Ossuary is released?”

I’ve got a couple of posts lined that will likely end up there–I’ve been playing in the world of free-to-play (mobile) games on my shiny and fast new phone, and the ethics of the set are… fascinating.

Of Course: 2014 Travel Is Still Undecided

So last year was Iceland. That was pretty spur-of-the-moment. We decided in May and went in August. Done. I would love to go back, particularly to see northern and eastern Iceland.

This year is up in the air, though. St. Petersburg, Russia is maybe an option, but talks stalled a bit over the break, and I’m a little undecided on traveling with children. Greece or Germany are still appealing.

I’d toyed with going on an adventure cruise with Explor Cruises to the Amazon last year, but the prices were nauseating (see the “Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon”) and I didn’t get a great feeling when I spoke with the agent at Explor Cruises.

That exact same cruise is offered through a few other agencies, including REI, which at least gives proper credit to the actual company running the cruise, Amazon Nature Tours. It’s also cheaper through other agencies.

REI also offers a bunch of other tours. I could take up cycling and do a cycling tour in Europe. (Frankly, though, I find cycling in populated areas terrifying; probably not a good choice.)

In short, I want to take a big trip this year, I’d prefer it be international, but I’m having a bit of option paralysis.


Time Is Not Discrete

I am not feeling New Year’s resolutions this year. When I think, “What do I want to achieve this year?” the list is the same as I am always striving toward:

  • Health (mental, physical, and spiritual),
  • Education (of myself and others), and
  • Creation

Those are the things I strive for everyday anyway. What metrics do I need to judge if I’ve really worked “hard enough” or “well enough”?

Am I healthier? Do I and those around me have more knowledge and compassion for the world? Have I created something and shared it?

I call those sufficient.

For the first time ever,

Iceland: Arrival

It’s August 23rd. After an overnight flight (including my first “visit” to New York), I was blearily standing in Keflavik International Airport with The Runners. One (A.) was there to run a half-marathon, and M. was there for a full marathon.

I will never forget that first look at the beauty of Iceland from my plane. The color palette was just… different. Different greens and browns, and lots of black.

A view from my airplane window as we descended into Keflavik

(One does not just fly in to Reykjavik, apparently, unless you’re already in Iceland or (maybe) the UK. One flies to Keflavik, then buses or drives to Reykjavik.)

So I was tired and wired, and it was my first time standing a place that didn’t have English as it’s first language on signs.

A sign for Gates 25-35 at the Keflavik International Airport.

A very, very clean bathroom.
I’ll confess, it felt a little “Ikea” in here.
Before I left the airport, of course, I had to use the bathroom. The clean, huge, clean airport bathroom. It was a unisex bathroom with a full door in a hallway of a few bathrooms, rather than a stall.

I didn’t know public bathrooms could be so clean.

I let The Runners lead the way to the bus area and figure out where we were going. Two people trying to navigate is already the start of an argument; adding a third to the mix would have killed my fatigued calm.

As we head out of the attached bus station, I start to get a look at the landscape around me. It wasn’t (yet) drizzling, but it was a little chilly (the fairly static 10°C it stayed except in the glacier area).

The rocks were… black. (Basalt, so go figure, but still startling.) The grass was more like moss. The street signs were indecipherable–or, more accurately, decipherable in several ways, most of which were probably wrong.

A view of Keflavik International Airport from the bus that took us to Reykjavik.

I have traveled through or lived in cities and towns from Texas up to Kentucky/Indiana/Ohio, and up until then, I’d thought asphalt was asphalt. Nope. Clearly made of local rock, the roads and sidewalks were startlingly dark.

The bus ride was quiet, and I gazed eagerly out the windows at the landscape. Moss-grass over bumpy landscape as far as the eye could see (I was facing inland). People had made little rock towers in the fields along the roads. Normally I’d have guessed they were tiny graves, but they were pretty frequent and more like towers than piles. I couldn’t really get a good photo, courtesy of the speed of the bus and greyness of the day.

Once we got to town the Reykjavik bus station, we stood in the parking lot and spun in circles, trying to figure out where to go. We couldn’t really see Reykjavik proper from the station. My iPhone was either low on battery or unsure what to do without a proper data connection, and, well, The Runners already had navigation on their minds, so with a Surface, a couple of iPhones, and some mild exasperation, they picked a direction and we started walking towards what should have been our guesthouse.

It was drizzling and (still) chilly, which made the short 2/3 mile walk to get into the city a bit of a blur in my tired mind. I must have looked like a fish out of water, gaping at everything, alternately grinning in wonder and frowning at the weather, dragging my suitcase behind me.

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