Catch Me if You Can

I have finally taken the first few steps toward a goal I’ve secretly held for most of my adult life, but I’ve never had the nerve to truly commit myself to accomplishing.  Thanks to some friends encouraging me and two people in particular leading the way, I have now joined a beginning running group.  We are starting off slowly and working our way up to running a 5k in September.  As a group we run two times a week and we have a schedule of activities to do on our own as well.  My favorite running spot in Buffalo is Hoyt Lake at Delaware park. Here are some Insties I took on my cool down walk after a recent run.

Ringing in the New Year

Today I took the Christmas tree down.  This is usually one of the first signs than I’m ready to embrace a new year.  I’m looking forward to what is to come.

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.
– Neil Gaiman

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Treasure Map of Prague – Part 2

On our second day in Prague we were still adjusting to the time change and ended up sleeping in a bit before grabbing a small bite in Siddharta Cafe at the Buddha Bar Hotel (Breakfast is included in the price of a room!).  We then set out in search of more adventures, guided in part by the New York Times Article (36 Hours in Prague) that Allen had folded up and tucked in his pack.

A requirement for us when traveling is finding good coffee that can be enjoyed in a pleasant atmosphere.  We would have been deeply disappointed if the only options were hotel coffee, or Star Bucks. The article recommended Original Coffee close to the church of Jan Hus at Betlemske Namesti.  It was a delightful option on a quiet street and the espresso had a perfect caramel colored creme.  We warmed to the place immediately and decided to make it a stop every morning for the rest of our stay.

More to come…

500 Instagrams

Instagram500On a recent trip to Williamsburg, NY, I managed to take 26 Instagrams, bringing me to a grand total of 500 Instagrams since I joined the social media platform in the Spring of 2012. That may sound like a lot or a little, depending on your perspective. It averages out to less than two a day.  I’m a pretty picky curator.  I only post the results I’m most pleased with, so in reality, I’ve composed far more shots that never made the cut.

I’m sure there are many changes ahead for Instagram. Image archiving and sorting will likely improve with time.  Of course there are various third party apps to assist with just that, but I kind of like Instagram’s current method of archiving just the way it is.  Users can amass hundreds and hundreds of images over time that are stored very simply by the moment in time when they were created.  Whether you use your smart phone to compose an image in real time or you import an existing image and apply an Instagram filter, they are all stored chronologically.  It’s like a little time capsule right there in the palm of your hand.

I love photography.  I own numerous cameras and I use each of them in different ways.  For me, smart phone photography is just fun.  Since I travel a great deal for my job, it gives me a way to easily document my experiences using a method of capturing the everyday in a way that is itself very connected to the everyday.  I’ve already been to Connecticut since I hit the 500 mark, and soon I’ll be traveling to Chicago, Albany and Minneapolis.  Imagine all the Instagrams!

My Instagram account is set to private, but I post some of my favorite shots on my Tumblr account.  Check it out here:

“What the hell is water?”

In the midst of my regular and usually quite aimless meanderings online, searching for meaning on subjects I obsess over and research in my spare time, I was recently reminded of this talk entitled, This is Water, given by David Foster Wallace in 2005, addressing the graduating class at Kenyon College. DFW committed suicide in 2008 and it is impossible to read or listen to this talk now without thinking of what was to come when he originally delivered it.

In (This is Water) he argues, gorgeously, against “unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.” – From The New Yorker

He begins with a parable:

“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

DFW goes on to say:

“The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance.”

As I read on, I was so moved, I decided to order the speech which has been reprinted in book form by the Hatchet Book Group.

Book description:

Only once did David Foster Wallace give a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. The speech is reprinted for the first time in book form in THIS IS WATER. How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and achieve compassion? The speech captures Wallace’s electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others. After his death, it became a treasured piece of writing reprinted in The Wall Street Journal and the London Times, commented on endlessly in blogs, and emailed from friend to friend.

Writing with his one-of-a-kind blend of causal humor, exacting intellect, and practical philosophy, David Foster Wallace probes the challenges of daily living and offers advice that renews us with every reading.

It’s a small and lovely book and I’ve been carrying it around for days. I especially like how DFW eloquently points out that we are not victims of some innate inclination for how we find meaning in our lives, or as he puts it, we are not “hardwired” in some specific way. Instead we are free to choose. It’s so easy to become trapped in the tedium of every day life and think that we are free.

“Learning how to think” really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think.
It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience.
Because if you cannot or will not exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.” – David Foster Wallace

There’s so much more to discover… Google This is Water, and see for yourself.

This is Water

This is Water

Everyday Images

From Grant Street in Buffalo to Pearl Street Rd in Corfu, and various points in between, these are some images I’ve made in my travels around the area over the last two weeks.  Instagram provides a fun way to interact with new surroundings when you’re on the go.  I like the format of Instagram as a social network too, because it acts as a time capsule for collecting a mass of images, in chronological order all in one place.

Coffee Syphon

On a recent trip to Toronto, Allen picked up a coffee syphon for my birthday.  I can’t say I’ve ever brewed a finer pot at home.  I’m pleased to report that in 27 easy steps, you too can enjoy a delicious cup of coffee.  Ok, it’s only 6 steps plus clean up, and all for a cup of coffee well worth any labor of love you put into it.   Below, check out the photos I took of my first time using the coffee syphon, step by step instructions and video footage.

Now that I’ve made coffee in it a few times, I have the process pretty much down to a science with just the right amount of grounds and boiling time for the taste I enjoy.  My particular coffee syphon was made in Taiwan and the message on the packaging is very cheerful, informative and encouraging:

Have a Nice Coffee Time!  What kind of coffee do you like?  French or American?  Strong or Mild?  Much or Little?  You can have any type using our Coffee Syphon.

Modify brewing time and amount / grind / flavor of coffee to suite your taste.  Practice makes perfect, you’ll soon be an expert!

Below is the 6 step process for making coffee in a coffee syphon.

Watch my (short)  YouTube Video: