Pieces of You: Organ Donation, Altruism & Why We Give

Posted in America, Clips, Science on December 2, 2014 by frankbures

MH12.14In the December 2014 issue of Men’s Health is a story I did about living organ donors, people like Dan Coyne who donated a kidney to a woman at his local grocery store. People like Todd Musgraves who didn’t even know who he donated his kidney to, but who knew that someone needed it. It’s a fascinating story full of compelling people, and it raised questions about what we give to others and what we receive in return. The piece is online here and can listen to an interview I did for Men’s Health Live on iTunes here:

Would you donate an organ to a complete stranger? We discuss the growing phenomenon of living organ donors with MH Writer Frank Bures.

And here:

How will your life change if you donate an organ? MH Writer Frank Bures talks about all the rewards of being an organ donor; including greater satisfaction and happiness in life!

If you would like to become a living donor, contact a transplant center near you, or find out what kidney donation involves at the Living Kidney Donor Network. To donate bone marrow, visit Be The Match.

Read the story here.

The Science of Risks, Rewards and 100 Things To Do Before You Die

Posted in Books, Clips, Science, Travel with tags , , on November 20, 2014 by frankbures

100mainFrom the Jewish Journal (originally from The Rotarian).

In 2008 in his Los Angeles home, a man named Dave Freeman fell, hit his head and died. This wouldn’t have been big news, except that the 47-year-old Freeman had launched what became an entire genre of books when, in 1999, he and a friend published “100 Things to Do Before You Die.” In it, they exhorted people to get out and experience things like the Namaqualand wildflower bloom in South Africa, or a voodoo pilgrimage in Haiti, or the Fringe Festival Nude Night Surfing competition in Australia.

Before his death, if I thought about Freeman at all, it was to dismiss his book as a gimmicky Christmas present you might get from an aunt who doesn’t know you very well. But since his demise, I have found my thoughts returning to him and his project.

“This life is a short journey,” Freeman wrote in the introduction, then told the reader to “get off your butt and create a fabulous memory or two” before it was over. It was a call to arms against complacency, a prod to approach life as a beast to be wrestled to the ground rather than one to be led placidly to the stockade.

Read the rest here.

Cultures Clash

Posted in Clips, Culture, Science on November 4, 2014 by frankbures

ClashFrom The Rotarian:

We live in an interconnected world, and the cultural currents can be hard to navigate. In Clash! How to Thrive in a Multicultural World (Plume, 2014), Hazel Rose Markus and Alana Conner focus on what causes the most cross-cultural heartbreak.

“As cultural psychologists,” the authors write, “we study how different cultures help create different ways of being a person – what we call different selves.” They define the independent self as “individual, unique, influencing others and their environments, free from constraints, and equal (yet great!).” The interdependent self, meanwhile, sees its position as “relational, similar to others, adjusting to their situations, rooted in traditions and obligations and ranked in pecking orders.”

These are not fixed traits – the authors call them “styles of self.” But they are powerful in shaping how we act, how we feel, and what we expect from those around us. Clash! is filled with fascinating examples of how this plays out, such as the story of the English teacher in Japan who couldn’t understand why his students were failing despite all his pep talks and praise. As soon as he started criticizing them and telling them how poorly the students were doing, they improved.

Read the rest here.

Photographs and Memories

Posted in Asia, Clips, Science, Travel on October 22, 2014 by frankbures

oct-Cutler2014078-1From The Rotarian:

In the middle of Hong Kong Island is a mountain known as the Peak. A cable car climbs the slope from the city, arriving at a building called the Peak Tower. Take the escalators to the top and you’ll find one of the most breathtaking views in the world.

On one side is the forest of skyscrapers that makes up the megacity of Hong Kong. On the other, trees cover the mountain as it sweeps down to the ocean, which itself stretches out to the horizon. A cool wind from the sea washes over Peak Tower, and on the currents above, raptors drift, looking for prey. Below, through Hong Kong’s hazy air, helicopters fly, and further out boats slip through the harbor across giant waves that look almost gentle from the Peak.

I stood there for almost two hours when I was in Hong Kong recently. I didn’t want the experience to end. I wanted to soak it up, not knowing if I would be back. I took a few photos, but most of the time I just looked out over the edge.

Before long, the other tourists in my group left and new ones arrived. This happened several times, and the more I watched, the more puzzled I became. Over and over, I saw people stand at the edge with their phones and cameras. They would take one picture, look at it, delete it, then take another.

Some people did this again and again until they got the right one. When satisfied, they left. Another time, I watched an entire family take some photos, then sit down on a bench and stare at their phones for half an hour. They barely seemed to know where they were.

Read the rest here.

Interview with Nowhere

Posted in Books, Travel, Writing on October 2, 2014 by frankbures

NowhereHad a nice chat with Porter Fox over at Nowhere Magazine on, among other things:

What’s the difference between travel writing and journalism?

I guess it depends what kind of travel writing and what kind of journalism you’re talking about. Destination travel writing tells people how they can have a certain kind of experience for themselves. Narrative travel writing tells a story. Journalism tells you what is happening in a certain part of the world, but its time frame is usually very short. I feel like the very best travel writing not only tells you a story, but it brings you to a place and helps you understand how it got to be the way it is, what it’s like to be there. It gives you a deeper understanding of not only what it happening there, but why. James Fenton’s “The Snap Election” is a great example, as is Michael Herr’s Dispatches.

Read the rest here.

Beyond Borders

Posted in Africa, America, Clips, Culture, Travel on September 3, 2014 by frankbures

Cutler-cultureFrom The Rotarian:

Mara Egherman, a college librarian, was sitting at her desk when she saw an email pop up: Ryan Ahmad, a Muslim exchange student in Iowa from the Philippines, needed a place to stay. There had been trouble at his school, and he’d been beaten up by a fellow exchange student.

Egherman flashed back to her 16-year-old self, alone in a foreign country. “I knew I had to take this kid in,” she says. As a high school student, Egherman had applied for an exchange program in South Africa. But after arriving in Johannesburg in 1982, she discovered that her host family had racial notions that dovetailed with those of the apartheid regime. Egherman was forbidden from speaking to the help. The family considered Nelson Mandela (then still in prison) a terrorist. And they kept a cache of weapons in a closet for protection. For a teenager from the Midwest, this was disorienting – and eye-opening. Egherman saw people being treated in ways she’d never imagined.

Yet at school, she made lifelong friends, one of whom invited her home for the last few months of her exchange. Egherman’s new family couldn’t have been more different, with three sisters and lots of laughter. Because that friend reached out to Egherman, her exchange experience was a positive one. She came home a changed person, with an enhanced ability to imagine the lives of people in other places. That was the whole reason she’d signed up to go abroad.

Read the rest here.

Branding Guyana: The Rise and Fall of Travel Writing

Posted in Clips, Travel, Travel Writers, Writing on August 28, 2014 by frankbures

Guyana Cover copyFrom Nowhere Magazine:

It was winter in Minnesota, and I was leaving the ice and snow behind. Everyone on our plane was giddy about this. In front of me, several women in sweatpants were heading south for weeklong cruises. They sang Beach Boys songs at the top of their lungs: “ARUBA, JAMAICA, OOOH I WANNA TAKE YA!!!” 

But I wasn’t going to Kokomo. I was flying to Guyana, a small, poor country on the northeast coast of South America. As I settled into my seat, the woman next to me turned to chat.

“So,” she said, “have you cruised before?” She was middle-aged, with a family of five in tow.

“No.” I said. “You?”

“We have,” she said. “We love it, and it’s super cheap! Hang on…” She turned to the window and snapped a picture of a baggage car. “Gotta put the vacation on Facebook! So what do you do?”

“I’m a writer,” I said.

“That’s neat. What do you write?”

“Some travel writing…and other things.”

“Oh, cool!” she gushed. “We love House Hunters International!”

10411991_10152666085686796_8321901077672506435_nI reached for the SkyMall. The engines roared and the white world fell away. Soon my seatmate and almost everyone else on the plane would get off in Florida to be whisked away for weeks of pampered drifting on the Caribbean. I would continue south. Guyana is a place, unlike Aruba or Jamaica, not on anyone’s list of dream destinations. A few months earlier, I’d gotten an email asking if I wanted to visit. The note was from a company contracting development work from USAID. One of its projects was to rebrand the tiny, corrupt nation and promote ecotourism. I knew the catch.

Read the rest here.

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