Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for June 2010

Life of the Mind?

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As I lay in bed tonight trying to process my thoughts for the day I realized that I’d thought about quite a lot.

I think I’ve spent 30 minutes or more on reading, writing or listening about the following topics: the US vs. Algeria match tomorrow, teenage hookup culture, computer worms, work (general), why and how political coalitions form for or against free trade (dissertation), the life of ants, mutually assured destruction, and lastly, vegetable tian (very good).

Is this normal?

Mostly I wonder if I should view my brain as having a limited amount of input and if I didn’t listen to a podcast about ants while I lifted weights then that brain space could be used for more utilitarian purposes (ie graduating).  Alternately I could say that I now understand ants and invasive species in a whole new way that might help me connect with someone someday or solve a problem.   Alternately I could just say that it was entertaining, a bit like watching the news while on the elliptical.

Hmm . . .

Written by furthermusings

June 22, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Posted in Geeky Blogs

I know this dog

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Here’s my connection to fame.  I don’t like this dog but I do know it.

Written by furthermusings

June 10, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Church, Laughter

North Korea: A Land of Sorrows

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The NYTimes is currently running this story about life in North Korea during the last year.  It’s a pretty amazing look into the poverty and helplessness of the people there.  The whole thing held me in rapt attention and had several stunning sections.

The interviewee “taught primary school for 30 years in Chongjin, North Korea’s third-largest city, with roughly 500,000 people. What once was an all-day job shrank by 2004 to morning duty; schools closed at noon. At least 15 of her 50 students dropped out or left after an hour, too hungry to study.

“It is very hard to teach a starving child,” she said. “Even sitting at a desk is difficult for them.”

Teachers were hungry, too. Her monthly salary scarcely bought two pounds of rice, she said.”

Oi.  I wonder how it all will end there . . .

Written by furthermusings

June 10, 2010 at 1:52 am

Europe (The Urban Version)

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As of tonight we’ve been back in the States for a full week. Even just a week later, our three weeks feels a long time ago.  Two weeks ago I was sleeping in the heart of Paris, touring art museums, eating toasted, roasted-eggplant sandwiches (wow, just wow), and riding subway cars packed with thousands upon thousands of Parisians of all ages and colors.

And tonight, on this muggy summer evening, I’m home in Chapel Hill. As I gaze out our kitchen window into the last vestiges of the summer evening light over the rich green of the garden the yellow glow of fireflies mingles among the deep orange of the daylilies.

What was Europe like this time? This was our first extensive urban travel experience since we’ve been married. That means it was our first trip that had a hint of “sight bagging.” Instead of wandering the countryside by car we spent days with objectives.  We set off many mornings to see major museums: the British Museum, the National Gallery, the Louve, the d’Orsay or to see major sites: Westminster Cathedral, the gardens of Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame.  The whole of the experience was something of an experiment in urban travel to famous places.

We don’t regret seeing these things.  I’m still amazed at the objects I laid eyes on and the vast sweep of human history they connected me to: from the amazing, cruel art of the Assyrians straight out of the Old Testament (pictured on the right) to walking, slack-jawed through the monumental seats of European monarchs who ruled empires turned into museums for flash happy tourists.

For the long list of London and Paris sights, museums, and food that I’m still in awe of, being in those places was tiring. Physically so.  My calves hurt every night.  I don’t think there was a day we walked less than five miles.  Many days we were gone for nine hours or more at a time.

We were also emotionally tired.  I was always terrified of losing our only set of house keys.  We were constantly locating each other in the swirl of the urban masses.  And there was always a need to make an unending flow of decisions about where, how and when of buses, subways and eating.

Those two weeks were amazing, but they weren’t restful.  I think we could have made them a bit more so knowing what we do now, but they weren’t then.

We are more seasoned now. We know what we like, which is to meander, to stick our heads down side streets, to move slowly, and to stand (or sit) in awe of what we see.

We know what we don’t like: rushing rushing rushing, wondering if we’ll make our tour or fearful we won’t make the last admission. We don’t like being hungry, cranky and on the street without a plan.  When we visit cities again we will make it a priority not to be rushed.  We will pack lots of Cliff bars.  We’ll rest and regroup in museum cafes before we head out into the urban fray again.

We’re better able to articulate now that we really like to rest on vacations.  Normandy was a stark contrast of lush green grass and vast fields of bright yellow rapeseed. It really hit us how restful it felt to be in a non-urban space.  As we’ve thought about our lives at home a bit, we’ve realized that we longed for rest during our vacation time, perhaps more even than for adventure.

So yeah, that was the big picture of our time. I hope to blog more about the individual things we saw and what it made us think about. But I needed to say that first. 🙂 More to follow.


Written by furthermusings

June 5, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Posted in Reflections, Travel