Wonderful video from Reported.ly:
Wonderful video from Reported.ly:
From The Rotarian:
Not long after our first daughter was born, I remember seeing her on the exam table in the doctor’s office, lying on her back, with the white paper crinkling underneath her. She was soft and small and fragile. I remember watching the needle pierce her leg, and feeling a strange mix of guilt and relief. There was a slight delay before her face changed and her scream filled the room. As a father, I cringed.
In 2006, there were rumors about mercury in the injections, and some possible link with autism. My wife and I had heard them. With the anxiety of all new parents, we wanted, more than anything, to keep our daughter from harm. But sorting through the opinions and anecdotes and research was overwhelming. We were torn between fear, belief, and trust.
Fortunately, we had a good doctor whom we did trust, who assured us that the shots didn’t contain mercury and that they posed no risk of autism. We believed her. We were too exhausted to do much more than that. Things might have been harder if we’d felt differently about our doctor, or about Western medicine, or about the world. But we didn’t. We just did our best. Today our daughter is healthy and thriving. For that we’re grateful. Yet a surprising number of new parents in my generation don’t feel the way we did. They don’t believe their doctors. And they haven’t come to see vaccinations as an obvious, logical, low-risk choice.
From Minnesota Monthly:
Early one morning last summer, JD Fratzke and I met on the banks of the Mississippi River. The light was dim. The water was calm. Fish were making rings on the surface. JD and I had grown up together on this river, further south in Winona. We’d both spent much of our young lives swimming in it, boating on it, and hanging out at parties in its backwaters. Now it was time to follow it.
I had biked down it. I had driven down it. But I had never floated down on its surface. I had the idea of kayaking from Minneapolis to Hastings, a 33-mile trip, which I thought I could make in a day if the river was fast. When I mentioned this to JD, his reaction was instant: He’d always wanted to do the same. He came from a family of hunters and fishermen and spent nearly every weekend growing up on the river. He remembers one morning out fishing with his dad when he turned and asked why they never went to church. His dad looked at him and said, “Don’t you feel like you are in church?”
For those of us who grew up on the river, it flows through our minds and our lives, even though we can’t spend aimless days on rope swings any more. For his part, JD spends most of his time running his restaurant, the Strip Club Meat & Fish in St. Paul, where he turns dead things into delicacies. For my part, I spend too much time in my office staring at a screen. To both of us, the river feels like a kind of refuge.
Before long, some 12,000 writers and 2,000 presenters will descend on this town (Minneapolis) for the annual AWP Conference & Bookfair. Officially, it’s the largest literary conference in the country. Unofficially (I’m told) it’s a big party for writers. Whatever it is, the number of panels and speakers is mind-boggling, and I don’t know how anyone could choose between them. Fortunately for me that choice is easier, since I’ll be on two panels, both related to travel writing. Both should make for great conversations on important issues.
The first, is called, “Can Literary Quarterlies Save Travel Writing?” and features some people I’ve known for a while, and others I haven’t: Jim Benning, Tom Swick, Pamela Petro and Sally Shivnan. I’ll be standing in for the moderator, Evan Balkan. I expect we will answer this question definitively.
The other is “Wild v. Into the Wild: X and Y Chromosomes in Travel Writing,” featuring Eva Holland, Brian Kevin and Kelly Ferguson moderating, with a focus on the differences between men’s and women’s travel writing.
If that wasn’t enough, there will also be a travel writing-themed reading called “Notes From the Road” on Saturday at 4pm at Honey, featuring many of the same writers, as well as Leif Peterson, Annie Scott Riley and Doug Mack, who kindly organized the event and who is busy finishing his new book about the U.S. Territories.
From The Rotarian: Sitting in a pub and ordering a basket of fish and chips may feel so British that you can practically hear “God Save the Queen” playing in the background. Asking for a side of ketchup might feel rebellious, as if you are Americanizing your meal. Yet what you’re really doing is putting a Chinese fish sauce on a favorite delicacy of the Persian kings: Fish and chips is the direct descendant of a dish known as sikbāj, which became ceviche in Spain, aspic in France, and tempura in Japan. Ke-tchup means “preserved-fish sauce” in the southern Chinese language of Hokkien. In his new book, The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu (W.W. Norton & Company, 2014), Dan Jurafsky takes us on a journey tracing culinary words across cultures. This is great fun if you want to win the next round of dinnertime trivia, but there are serious lessons here too. As Jurafsky points out, common wisdom has it that China closed itself off from the world around 1450. But the linguistic evidence of ketchup’s spread shows this wasn’t the case. Read the rest here.
Came back from Mexico humming this tune. Can’t believe this wasn’t on every radio station in America. (A little context here.)
From The Rotarian:
A few years ago, I was passing through the northern Nigerian city of Kano when I stopped at a roadside stall for some tea. The proprietor asked me where I was from. I told him.
“I want to go to America!” he told me, smiling. “We are just suffering here in Nigeria. If I go to America, I will not come back to Nigeria again.”
“Not even to see your mother?” I asked.
He laughed. “I will send her some money.”
I thanked him and drank my tea. After I left, I wondered if he was serious or just talking.
As I traveled through the region, I met several people headed north, on their way to Europe. It was a difficult and dangerous journey that tens of thousands of people set out on each year, many of them never reaching their destination. I often marveled at the confidence a person must have to embark on a trip like that, to leave everything behind, to be certain of somehow making it.
Like most people, I’d always assumed these travelers were the most poverty-stricken, the most hopeless. But now I can see that this isn’t the case – at least not entirely. Often, the people who leave their villages are the brightest and most ambitious ones, the ones with the biggest dreams. As one poet from Cameroun wrote after arriving in Spain, “No money in the pockets/But hope in the heart.” Hope, as much as anything else, drives them.
Hope may be our most important asset as a species. Hope is the thing that drew us out of our caves and around the world. Hope is what gets us out of bed in the morning. Hope lets us imagine our lives as more than they are. Yet when we talk about hope, we usually mean the vague feeling that things will get better. But that is not hope.