ProjectExplorer-org

Neglect in a time of note-worthy experiences

I call myself a writer, but I haven't written - really written - in two months. Since my last real musing, I traveled to three regions of Haiti, frequented my second Carnival celebration, had a random reunion with a travel friend in the middle of a street parade, hosted my best friend and travel gal for a week in New York City, and traveled across the world to Thailand for production. I should have many a post on my site by now regarding all the previously mentioned events and experiences. Instead, I am a chicken sans head with too many things to say and not enough time to process them. And you know what else is sad? I wrote the previous paragraph in the middle of March. I call this type of article a 'Frankenstein'.

Frank N. Stein

Frank N. Stein

I've read others discussing this interesting phenomenon - the travel writer's Catch 22 - and I know I've dealt with it using various methods in the past. Even though I've been based out of home between these escapades, there is still the delicate balance between experience and reflection, one that I usually miss due to overindulgence of one.

Sadly, my mind is a sieve. Without documentation and over-processing of real-life experiences, I tend to forget or reconstruct my life. Therefore, the neglect of noting certain meaningful experiences seems dangerous and irresponsible for someone mortal wanting simply to thrive on memories in the end.

Why Write About Travel?

Writing, Photographing, Filming in the Field

Writing, Photographing, Filming in the Field

It began as a way to inform my family I was still alive. Once they gained this comfort, the detailed accounts were meant to illuminate a black hole on the world map of one's understanding. Soon after, it became a job and then a way of life through which I felt fulfillment. While documentary photo and video work easily allow for simultaneous experience, I write the way the Social Network dudes code: plugged in with total concentration and all-consuming fervor. After the arc of adrenaline subsides in a travel day, it's all I can do to charge up the batteries and coordinate logistics for the next day. Writing in the moment hasn't been a real possibility since my 7-month discovery tour.

Upon returning home, the act of processing begins involuntarily through dreams - brutally honest reactions that make for sturdy foundations later. Of course, errands to the laundromat, outings with friends, job applications, and other life logistics eventually take precedence over mental fermentation and readiness. And so, what's left from a life-changing "away game" is a brain of floating and incomplete thoughts like a bowl of Alpha-bits.

In January, my friend Jazmine departed on a two month journey throughout Southeast Asia. Aside from recommending the occasional splurge during her budget initiative, my one adamant piece of advice was to write. Especially on a whirlwind adventure, sometimes it's only in the observation of a blinking cursor on a word document that we realize the confusion of our interior. And alternately, scribbled sentences on mounting scraps of paper are the necessary mastication of the experiential piece of gum. In my opinion, there's no better way for anyone to savor that flavor, and this isn't just for those who consider themselves capable crafters of written word.

Alpha-bit cereal

Alpha-bit cereal

The Bottleneck Effect

I'm passionate about writing relevant and satirical travel narratives, and these such stories are exactly what have been lacking in my recent blogging pursuits. Instead, when people inevitably ask about Haiti or Thailand, I have to use words like "amazing" or "incredible," as though that really demystifies the destination for them. Writers should have distinct voices, based on objective truths, unique observation, and subjective viewpoints on humanity. To call Haiti an incredible experience is like saying Mariah Carey is a good singer. Thailand is a beautiful country with kind people. Earth is a planet with land and water. That's all hot air. I'm looking to add insight to the sea of declarative sentences born and syndicated every day.

The goal: document experiences uniquely and dynamically The reality: confusion, sloppy schedules, and a mere 24 hours taunting me in the day The problem: time brings new experiences whether or not I'm ready The solution: force thoughts to make a single file line outward, all with purpose

bottleneck

bottleneck

Imagine the wiggly line as my pool of thoughts, the fish-eyed text as concepts to ponder, and the bottleneck as my avenues of expression restricted by time, ability, and external factors. This isn't adult swim when the kids are back at school; this is noon at the public watering hole on July 4th. These thoughts aren't conscientious swimmers. They all need to get out of the pool safely or else they start pruning and eventually peeing in this uncertain limbo.

The Token Freudian Analysis

I hope by now the irony of this post has hit you. Am I not still treading water with this time and energy to vocalize the fact that I haven't vocalized my thoughts in a while? Why share this when I could obviously be sharing what I aim to produce? And why has this venue of blogging to the world wide web become so darn important to the sanity of man?

Even though life is a constant linear chain of experiences, the mind doesn't necessarily process them as such. And even though traveling seems like an itinerary of visits, challenges, and conversations, the entire concept of 'travel' is far more existential an arena of thought than it is a modification of geography. If I don't dedicate time and energy to sorting through what transpires in my life - big or small - I run the risk of disconnecting unconscious interpretations of superego standards from conscious actions of the ego. Translate the previous sentence with a couple of Freud's favorites:

Ego: the part of the personality which maintains a balance between our impulses (id) and our conscience (superego)

Unconscious: the area of the psyche where unknown wishes and needs are kept that play a significant role in our conscious behavior

Subconscious: that which exists in the mind but not immediately available to consciousness*

It's like stepping over the question repeatedly, multiple times a day, every day, "What is this life I lead?" Are we - dare I say - robots that power forward with the sequence or humans that react to the varied stimuli we encounter daily, especially on the road. I say leave your robot on the dance floor. Experiences are had to be felt and purposefully utilized to make a person better.

The Selfish Act of Not Sharing

Mom feeding me the last drops of wine

Mom feeding me the last drops of wine

The liquid inside a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino doesn't motivate or fulfill a person's palate. Once it passes through the aerator and clashes with fresh oxygen, that sweet nectar becomes something of value. A book in Hungarian means nothing to me until it is translated into something Latin-based I can recognize. Unless an experience runs through the necessary steps to become useable to a person, it is a waste, a missed opportunity, a neglected tool for burrowing efficiently and successfully through time. It is only in this translation through the sieve of human standards and emotion that an understanding can pass through the nonconscience to the subconscience to reach the active, living conscience.

In non-Freudian terms, going somewhere or doing something means nothing if you don't understand how it affected you.

So when I say I haven't really written in months, it means I haven't actively processed that which has the great capacity to improve my being, including: • traveling through Haiti's Port-au-Prince, the Central Plateau, and cultural Jacmel. • meeting President-elect Michel Martelly (candidate at the time). • attending my second Carnival celebration in a country pent up after a year of recovery. • randomly running into a woman that saved me years before around the world. • hosting my best travel comrade, Alexis Reller, in New York City. • spending three weeks in Thailand on production for another travel series. • reliving my first third-world solo trip in Vietnam. • finding peace and creativity in Luang Prabang, Laos.

...all experiences that drip with the tantalizing prospect of organic value, not just for me but through the informative and experiential butterfly effect. It's why we read books and talk to our friends. Sharing stories, especially via such a mobile force like the web, makes for an even greater learning experience across international and industry borders. And if we don't analyze why this process isn't happening, it threatens to repeat until we come to.

Action Plan for the Neglected

Thus ends my soliloquy of why I'm thinking too much of how I can't think enough. And of course, one cannot ramble without a conclusive caboose. I plan to revive the elicited emotions from said unprocessed experiences and craft some posts that remain relevant to what's going on today. For instance, May 14th marks the presidential inauguration of Haiti's Michel Martelly, the wake of which provides a perfect moment for reflection of our meeting. Expect 'Lost'-esque flashbacks to experiences in Thailand that dictate my present endeavors. And as always, it's not my intention to provide a static, one-time commentary but instead evoke an elongated discussion through comments beneath. I hope you're on board with that.

Surely there are others that have too much to recall or process and are grappling with this feeling of neglect. What have you neglected to process, and in your opinion, is there only a small window of opportunity for intake?

*Definitions provided by

AllPsych Online

and

Merriam-Webster

Nomadderwhere on the Black Informant Podcast

I'm such a sorry case for a writer that I'm actually stalling the publication of a post on how I haven't written anything in a while! 2011 for Nomadderwhere is a Catch 22 kind of year. If that's not clear, then stick around for the explanation coming whenever I get my act together. In the meantime, my interview with the Black Informant found its way onto the internet for your listening pleasure! Prior to this, I'd never done a radio interview before. I thought for sure my charming stutter would shine through, but it turns out radio is just about the easiest kind of interview there is (aside from letting the publicist type your answers while you're busy getting a pedicure and playing Xbox, so I would imagine).

Black Informant Podcast

Black Informant Podcast

In this podcast, Duane Brayboy and I discuss:

  • the genesis of my travel obsession.

  • how travel transformed my personality, my learning, and the way I expressed myself.

  • storytelling and the power of descriptive detail with words, photos, or video.

  • documentary and editorial photography while on the road.

  • the most meaningful photographs I've ever taken.

  • impressions of Haiti and the apocalyptic media uproar.

  • where to next.

Photographing in D.C.

Photographing in D.C.

I enjoyed chatting with Duane and also hope this little update post whips me back into content cranking gear.

What did you think of the podcast? Now, I didn't do this interview just to hear myself talk. Please do share your own insight on what we discussed: Haiti's media coverage, your own travel obsession genesis, the most meaningful photos you've taken, and anything else.

Let's Speak Haitian Creole!

My first language post arose from a desire to document and transmit the full experience of being in a relatively unknown culture: tribal Fiji. I didn't expect many people to find such a write-up relevant, but it dawned on me after hundreds of hits that lesser-known languages need some limelight, too. One could travel to Haiti and speak French; there would be virtually no gap in communication. But, I didn't have the luxury of French and instead opted for downloading some free software to learn Haitian Creole. Because I've spent the last eleven years learning languages that pack very few superfluous letters, the concept of learning French and not pronouncing half a word seemed absurdoix. Creole being a mix of many languages, including Arabic, Spanish, Taíno, and some African languages, it reads more phonetically and becomes more accessible than its' base.

Visit Haiti. And when you do, use your Creole. In the meantime, I'm going to attempt to process my four day rare experience through Port-au-Prince, the Central Plateau, and Jacmèl.

Haitian boy in the Central Plateau, in Thomonde
Haitian boy in the Central Plateau, in Thomonde

The Basics

Alo: Hello Bonjou: Good morning Kòman ou ye (pronounced co-mah-oo-ee): How are you? Mwen trè byen, mèsi: I'm fine, thank you. Mwen rele Lindsay: My name is Lindsay. Good evening: Bonswa Eskize mwen: Excuse me/Sorry Mwen regrèt sa: I'm sorry. Wi: Yes Non: No Mèsi: Thank you Tanpri: Please Goodbye: Orevwa

Driving around Haiti
Driving around Haiti

Getting Around

Ou ka ede mwen? Can you help me? Kijan pou mwen ale nan...? How to get to...? Direksyon: direction Mize: museum Taksi: taxi Otèl: hotel Kafe: café Mache (pronounced mah-shay): to walk Mwen ta renmen peye ak kat kredi: I would like to pay with credit card. Ayewopò: airport Estasyon: station Mwen gen kèk kesyon: I have some questions. Rezèvasyon: reservation Mwen pèdi: I am lost. Ki kote li...? Where is...? Mwen bezwen èd: I need help. Non ri a: street name Gichè otomatik: ATM

Man wearing a mask at Carnival in Jacmel, Haiti
Man wearing a mask at Carnival in Jacmel, Haiti

Conversation

Kijan ou rele? What is your name? Ki laj ou? How old are you? Mwen se ameriken: I am American. Mwen ta renmen...: I would like... Ki lè li fè? What time is it?

Playing in the waves on the beach in Jacmel, Haiti
Playing in the waves on the beach in Jacmel, Haiti

Learning While Speaking

Mwen pa konprann: I don't understand. M ap aprann Kreyòl: I'm learning Creole. Pale Angle (pronounced pah-lee ahn-gleh): to speak English Mwen vle aprann Kreyòl: I want to learn Creole. Mwen pa konnen: I don't know. Mwen pa te konnen li: I didn't know that. Sa bon pou konnen: That's good to know. Tradui: to translate Mwen pa ka li Kreyòl: I can't read Creole. Li difisil pou mwen pale Kreyòl: Speaking Creole is difficult for me. Ou trè sèvyab: You are very helpful. Mèsi pou fason ou ede m avèk Kreyòl mwen: Thank you for helping me with my Creole. Kòman yo di...an Kreyòl? How do you say...in Creole? Sa sa vle di...? What does...mean? Mwen ap sonje: I will remember that

Painted numbers on the outside of Edeyo school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Painted numbers on the outside of Edeyo school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Numbers

Youn: one De: two Twa: three Kat: four Senk: five Sis: six Sèt: seven Uit: eight Nèf: nine Dis: ten Onz: eleven

Girl at the blackboard at Edeyo School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Girl at the blackboard at Edeyo School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Time

Jodi a (all 'di's are pronounced tzi): today Demen: tomorrow Ayè: yesterday Midi: noon Lendi: Monday Madi: Tuesday Mèkredi: Wednesday Jedi: Thursday Vandredi: Friday Samdi: Saturday Dimanch: Sunday

The Central Plateau of Haiti
The Central Plateau of Haiti

Develop Vocabulary

Etazini: United States Tanperati: temperature Vyann poul: chicken Pwason: fish Vyann bèf: beef Dlo: water Byè: beer Soulye: shoes Manto: coat Chapo: hat Grangou: hungry Vit: quickly Bra: arm Janm: leg Tèt: head Lajan: money

Practicing my Creole on the beach in Jacmel, Haiti
Practicing my Creole on the beach in Jacmel, Haiti

And once again, you're now as fluent as I am! Doesn't take much. Put your skills to use and visit. It's the best way to learn a new language, and it's something Haiti needs: your presence to develop an honest perspective on a country that is richer than we recognize.

All photos © ProjectExplorer.org, 2011

Piecing Together an Understanding of Haiti Today

Piecing Together an Understanding of Haiti Today

This weekend came and went, and I never left my couch. My camera bag - meticulously packed for three hectic days across three cities - lies useless on the bedroom floor; memory cards untouched and road snacks un-nibbled. For the second time in a row, our assignment in Haiti has been postponed due to civil unrest and political instability. I don't really know what's going on there at the moment, and with the one-track mind of sensationalist mass media focused solely on Egypt (and the Super Bowl, I guess), I'm finding it hard to understand this new situation, which has red alerts and closings already resulting from the anticipated nation-wide chaos.

Read More

Mentally Preparing for Haiti on the Earthquake Anniversary

Mentally Preparing for Haiti on the Earthquake Anniversary

With every assignment, my job is gaining more meaning and thrill, becoming increasing moving and educative. From researching Frida Kahlo to cutting videos on Nelson Mandela, I've been diving further into pivotal, global issues. And though - technically - our upcoming trip to Haiti is a freelance assignment to document a medical non-profit, I'm going in the capacity of a filmmaker and an indirect educator. For the past month, I've been taking in knowledge of old Saint-Domingue like a sponge, and I'm hoping to include you, my ever-enlightening audience, in this pursuit of awareness.

Read More

Why I Moved to New York City

Why I Moved to New York City

Composing somewhere around 30,000 feet, I'm completely immersed in the inevitable pool of realization. After a childhood in rural Indiana, an academic pilgrimage throughout the state, and 50 countries of exploration later, I'm finally settling on my first independent living situation.

I chose out of a sea of laudable contenders a city that for years seemed too self-praising for my tastes. I've never encountered anyone who feels as conflicted about New York City's energy as me, but emerging from the self-made pit of doubt and prejudice, I came to the exciting conclusion that this massive metropolis is where I'm supposed to be. It's safe to say I no longer roll my eyes at the "cool girl" city in the classroom of America.

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A Flattering Interview with PolyRepublic

Beti from PolyRepublic launched her new website this week, and I'm thrilled to be one of her first profiles.

Poly Republic’s mission statement is to celebrate women who are daring enough to try to change the world or carve out a place for themselves in it.

Check out the full profile by clicking the image below.

PolyRepublic Interview

PolyRepublic Interview

Photoblog: Final Crew Meal at Mexico City's W Hotel

Flashing back to the June Mexico trip with ProjectExplorer.org, I thought I'd memorialize a fantastic project-closing meal we had at the W Hotel in Mexico City. We relaxed after a hectic day of capturing on film Mexico's complex and difficult history. It was a well-deserved and tasty spread. [All photos were taken by Vijaya Selvaraju.]

Guerrero Negro Seared Sea Scallops

Guerrero Negro Seared Sea Scallops

Guerrero Negro Seared Sea Scallops

Handmade Brie Cheese Baguette

Handmade Brie Cheese Baguette

Handmade Brie Cheese Baguette

Mexican Black Oyster Mushroom Soup

Mexican Black Oyster Mushroom Soup

Mexican Black Oyster Mushroom Soup

Citric Pesto Crusted Ahi Tuna

Citric Pesto Crusted Ahi Tuna

Citric Pesto Crusted Ahi Tuna

Coriander & Lemon Marinated Chicken Breast

Coriander & Lemon Marinated Chicken Breast

Coriander & Lemon Marinated Chicken Breast

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Enjoying Myself

Enjoying Myself

Me Enjoying Myself

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Ancho Chilli

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Ancho Chilli

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Ancho Chilli

Not Jack Johnson's Banana Pancake

Not Jack Johnson's Banana Pancake

Not Jack Johnson's Banana Pancake

Pina Colada Sweet Pineapple and Cardamom Ravioli

Pina Colada Sweet Pineapple and Cardamom Ravioli

Pina Colada Sweet Pineapple and Cardamom Ravioli

A Paucity of Postings

You may have noticed an obvious drop-off in the amount of writings and videos I've created for the website in the last couple months. And this is why:

I'm on Vacation

Hilton Head with the Family

Hilton Head with the Family

Since the 3rd of September, I've been on the road with my family and will continue to be until the middle of the month. We drove from Indianapolis to the Atlantic Ocean and have been doing what we Clarks do best: turning into leather bags on the beach/poolside/bar-side. Especially now that I'm in preliminary brainstorming sessions about an eventual relocation, I really appreciate the family time and seeing my niece learn words like "yesh" (a la Michael Scott) and try her foot at walking.

The Mexico Series is Almost Complete

If I'm not eating, sleeping, or throwing my niece in the air, I'm working on the blogs, videos, and photographs for our Mexico series, to be launched on the 27th of this month. The challenge of creating videos complex enough for 12th graders but comprehensible for 3rd graders has been a big one to overcome, especially in cases of history and warfare, when we don't have History Channel-like reenactments or stock footage to use. When it's between paid work that I love and unpaid work that I love (a.k.a. this site), I'm sure you can understand why my allegiances are attracted to one side.

I'm Redesigning Nomadderwhere

Nomadderwhere.com

Nomadderwhere.com

On September 23rd, thanks to the help of Jenn Vargas, I'm launching the redesign for Nomadderwhere, one year after launching my newly self-hosted site. Because my use of Nomadderwhere is evolving in a very specific direction, I need my site to reflect this change. The content will be geared toward a specific reader, because to try and please everyone is a recipe for failure and exhaustion.

My Best Friend's Having a Baby

Our parents were friends in high school. We were neighbors throughout childhood. We've been friends since our infant years. My friend Hayley is having a baby, and I'm going to be wholly distracted by this addition to the Wabash community.

September is proving to be a busy month, and I'm not getting the opportunities I normally do to create for personal reasons. As I evolve toward the new design on the 23rd, I'll be condensing my posting schedule to be solely about quality than quantity. If you have any suggestions or comments on this move, please send them my way.

I thought it was due time to give you an update. I'm still dedicated to this little property of mine, and it's about to get a lot better.

Consume & Update: Opportunities for you!

$10,000 and a trip to Bhutan. I'm so generous this week.

Getting Paid to Talk to Bourdain

I don't consider myself a foodie, but I've been thinking a lot lately about the question Tony Bourdain posed to his fellow food-lovers.

What does it mean to cook well?

Coming from a sustenance culinary tradition, I'm not used to always eating the most delectable dish or denying something less than favorable. Frankly, I'm surprised I haven't shot my taste buds yet. I find this topic intriguing, and if you do too, you could very well win $10,000 just for documenting that opinion.

Not only do you get a big ol' pay day but a spot in the paperback edition of Medium Raw. To be published and rolling in the dough...what a surreal concept. Go for it!

And speaking of Tony, his post this week on the death of his good friend Michael Batterberry and his big break in writing is insightful and compelling.

Snap Your Shutter for Bhutan

This opportunity rolled around last year and got me salivating. A trip to Antarctica sounded fantastic, but the application seemed simplistic and, therefore, intimidating. Tell a story with 5 or less photographs...STRONG photographs. Should have gone for it; it's a trip to the last continent, by golly!

Bhutan Travel Scholarship

Bhutan Travel Scholarship

And now it's 2010, and a new travel scholarship from National Geographic and World Nomads has rolled into town. Tell a story with 5 or less photographs, and you could travel to Bhutan for a week alongside a NatGeo photographer, a truly once-in-a-lifetime learning experience for a budding shutter-snapper.

This year, the photographer is Jason Edwards, and he's got some words of advice for hopeful applicants:

The application deadline is October 17th (in Australia), so you've got some time to think about this opportunity and let your photographic story inspiration come to you.

Burma in Photos

Brave New Traveler sported a great photo essay on religious life in Burma. It's worth a look-see.

Burma Photo Essay

Burma Photo Essay

A Word from my Favorite Book

Rolf Potts quoted my favorite book this week at Vagablogging, and I believe the whole world would be enriched by a simple glance:

If our lives are dominated by a search for happiness, then perhaps few activities reveal as much about the dynamics of this quest — in all its ardor and paradoxes — than our travels. They express, however inarticulately, an understanding of what life might be about, outside of the constraints of work and of the struggle for survival. Yet rarely are they considered to present philosophical problems — that is, issues requiring thought beyond the practical. We are inundated with advice on where to travel to, but we hear little of why and how we should go, even though the art of travel seems naturally to sustain a number of questions neither so simple nor so trivial, and whose study might in modest ways contribute to an understanding of what the Greek philosophers beautifully termed eudaimonia, or ‘human flourishing’. –Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel

Other Discoveries

Problogger has some great words of wisdom this week: Build your Blogs Voice, Monetization Ideas for the Little Guy, and the Content Producer's Copyright Checklist.

Join this discussion on Vagablogging: What pulls you back to the road?

Update on Nomadderwhere

August 8

August 8

I took a week off from Consume & Update due to a lack of compelling material on the net. It was weird. Normally there's always something worth sharing with others, but last week...dang, slim pickins. These weekly postings are for sharing good work, complimenting content producers, and contributing to the internet travel community. If you ever desire to be featured in these Sunday posts, feel free to contact me, so last week's debacle never happens again!

Anywho, guess who's back from the small town! I'm plunging head first into ProjectExplorer.org work and Nomadderwhere redesigning and content creating. I slapped May with a slew of work and left June starving. I need to get back to a regular schedule of good stuff. Your input is always encouraged.

And the future? Alexis Reller, my potluck roommate from Semester at Sea, is visiting next week, and I'm going to show her a gay ol' time in Indianapolis. We just may boast all of our fun times online!

And here's the work of the last two weeks:

Video of the Week: Summer Seclusion Project (Webcam)

Haven't seen one of these in a while, huh? A video of the week or a webcam special. I finally got my act together! Enjoy.

Notes from this week's video:

  • ProjectExplorer.org is in post-production stateside after a fantastic filming session in Mexico.

  • I'm moving out of my parent's house for a month for some seclusion in my hometown.

  • I have four goals for the month of July.

  • Crank out stellar videos, images, and work for ProjectExplorer.org

  • Write personal travel narratives in hopes of publishing or at least having them for myself.

  • Learn how to cook basic vegetarian meals well. I don't know how veggies are supposed to taste. Sad.

  • Enjoy my hometown for the first summer in a decade and reap the benefits of relative seclusion from distraction.

  • It's time to reformat/redesign Nomadderwhere, just like I did last September. A lot has changed in my life and path, and my website needs to reflect that.

Reviewing David Lida's First Stop in the New World

Reviewing David Lida's First Stop in the New World

this book, come three or four chapters deep, wasn't yet rave-ish. David didn't write a travel narrative taking place in the hypermetropolis of Mexico City/Federal District (D.F.); he did something better than that. Working off twenty years of experience as an expat in Mexico's capital - as a journalist and, therefore, a well-informed observer of society - David describes this somewhat daunting land of 20+ million residents as THE example of the future of the urban future. We in America have no idea what's in store for our homes, that is unless we look deep into the essence and creation of the world's second largest metropolitan area.

Read More

Consume & Update: Fear, Soccer, and Post-Production

Back from Mexico and once again with enough time to consume the best travel gummies on the net this week. Sorry my schedule is all higgilty piggilty. Chew away.

Guillebeau Talking for TED

If you're a fan of Chris and his charisma, check out renowned non-conformist's TED talk from Carnegie Melon University. He discusses fear with some intriguing metaphors. What do you think about his message?

Most Celebrated Travel Books

Though I believe Frances Mayes should give it a rest with her lists of flower types and Italian herbs...and Ernesto Guevara could have cut his diaries a couple weeks short...and Elizabeth Gilbert got a wee too much publicity for her travel trifecta, I think this comprehensive list of travel books covers some great titles. Check out the entire list on World Hum and let me know which ones you would recommend to fellow narrative-hungry travel readers (cough, cough...me).

Most Celebrated Travel Books

Most Celebrated Travel Books

Why We Call It Soccer

Thank you, Nat Geo Traveler, for finally solving the mystery. Why do we call football soccer (or, inversely, why do others call soccer football)? Alas, we have an answer:

After some digging, I'm happy to report the following: Apparently American's word for football is a shortened version of Assoccer, an abbreviation of "Association Football," the term given the game as it was played at elite British boys' schools in the 1860s. "Assoccer" became "soccer" and the name somewhat stuck as it served to distinguish it from rugby-rules football.

As players, coaches, sailors, and the enthusiastic exported the game around the world courtesy of the British Empire, local languages appropriated "football" as a loan word. For example, the Spanish fútbol doesn't literally combine the Spanish words for "foot" and "ball" but is an approximation of the British word for the ever-popular game. The game came to U.S. shores in the late 19th century and was called "football" in the U.S. until after World War II when the increasing popularity of the National Football League (NFL) prompted a change in name. Where English is a country's first language, "football" often refers to the most popular form of football in that country. Only three English-speaking FIFA countries refer to the game as "soccer": the U.S., Samoa, and Canada.

Now we know.

Tony's New Book and 100th Episode

I compulsively document Big T's new blog posts, this one being no exception to the rule. I love the flow of his travel writing - even his travel writing that isn't about travel per se. After releasing his second book, entitled Medium Raw, he reflects on the tiresome, yet pivotal, regimen of self-promotion across the country, as well as the ambiance during production of his 100th episode (in Paris).

I've heard Tony didn't necessarily meet the expectations of various travel bloggers with the new book, and I'm sort of glad. If he's a cook, a traveler, and a writer, why can't he write about cooking (and the unexpected celeb chef phenomenon) without focusing about travel? Why would people assume his book would be about his travel tales and woes when the blurb on the front reads:

A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

Lay off, people. He's still a better writer than the vast majority of us.

Other Discoveries

Lion Burgers? Really, Arizona? Strike two.

This guy's just walkin.

The Michael Palin interview with World Hum

“Backpackers aren’t the bad guys. It really boils down to how we travel, and what the legacy is of that. We are guests in another culture, so the issue isn’t how do we stop tourism, the issue is how do we get it right.”

Problogger: 8 Habits of Highly Excellent Bloggers

Update on Nomadderwhere

Back Home Again

Back Home Again

Judging purely by my intense slumbers upon returning to Indiana, you'd think I slept not at all throughout production in Mexico. I was entirely pooped, and to compound it, my mom dragged me to the Indy Night Ride, which started at 11pm and took us for 20 miles around downtown Indianapolis by night. My butt bones hate life today.

Since I was too busy to read up on the gems of the internet over the past three weeks, I also wasn't able to recap the work I churned out. Hence, here are the pieces I wrote (or photoblogs I compiled) over the course of production with ProjectExplorer.

Bear with me, people. I'm hoping to get back on schedule soon!

Photoblog: Merida and the Yucatan

Daily wake-ups as early as 4:15am, constant encouragement to produce content (or brainstorm more concepts), keeping up with another internship, e-mails, and friendships from home - this goes far beyond a full-time job. Week three on-location has been draining, frantic, but overwhelmingly delightful. No matter how plum-tuckered-out I get during production, I still find our daily activities and trials worth the sweaty days and gastro-hilarity. As Barney would remark, "The fun and learning never ends. Here's what we did (this week)!"

Celestun

Celestun

At Celestun Nature Reserve we jetted through mangroves and observed some flamingoes from afar. Post-nature experience, we saw our first Mexican beach for about an hour while having lunch with Alex, our accommodating and passionate host for Merida, and Jorge, driver extraordinaire.

Uxmal

Uxmal

Pinatas

Pinatas

Merida Market

Merida Market

Lucha Libre

Lucha Libre

A unanimous favorite moment on the entire trip was our training session with Lucha Libre stars. This is by no means the WWE of Mexico. Lucha Libre isn't scripted and is all about honor. We flipped and flopped with the self-proclaimed good and bad guys, received our own fighting names (mine being "Sexy Star" thanks to the resident fourteen year-old trainee in the vicinity), and honestly attempted to capture the essence of the sport.

While most film crews or documentarians like to cover Lucha Libre in a fluff or comedic piece, they were really touched that our presence was about knowing the sport and telling others about it. These guys are investment bankers (or something else) by day and honor protectors by night.

And a note to all of you wondering what makes a move complete: it's all about slapping the mat for a little drama.

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon

Hacienda Sotuta de Peon

Chocolate Shop

Chocolate Shop

While I could go on for pages describing the locations and experiences of Merida, I'll refrain and simply focus on the guy who made those moments happen. Alex isn't a tour guide but a key link in the Yucatan tourism chain. He's got mad power, connections, and responsibilities up the wazoo. On a more poetic note, Alex was an incredible resource and friend during that hot and humid week. He mentioned we opened his eyes to aspects of his own region he didn't know or had forgotten - providing him with the inspiration to do something good. Wonderful guy with a great perspective.

Quinceanera dress

Quinceanera dress

The Yucatan state offered things I hadn't anticipated and people I found endearing. Way to go, Merida. You overcame the blistering heat and humidity with your charm.

All photos © ProjectExplorer.org, 2010.

Photoblog: Oaxaca

I'm not too interested in describing every detail of our week in Oaxaca. Well, maybe not now. I woke up nineteen hours ago for a market walk and just spent two hours dancing and flopping on the mats at a Lucha Libre training center. Arts. Crafts. Food. Style. Passion. Nature. Oaxaca, you've got it going on. And if you can identify any of the events occurring below, a big hand clap for you.

Paper Factory

Paper Factory

Oaxaca market

Oaxaca market

Cooking with Alejandro Ruiz

Cooking with Alejandro Ruiz

Boden Shoot

Boden Shoot

Silvia Suarez

Silvia Suarez

Pantaleon Ruiz Martinez

Pantaleon Ruiz Martinez

Tree of Tule

Tree of Tule

Monte Alban

Monte Alban

Some Spanish unfinished church

Some Spanish unfinished church

Oaxaca was a beautiful stop on this tour of Mexico and one in need of much explanation. Our accommodations at Casa Oaxaca were top notch and completely lush. Fantastic destination; I'm a fan.

(Boy, I'm brief on location)

All photos © ProjectExplorer.org, 2010.

The Frida Transformation

Frida is a bookworm

It's safe to say I'm really pleased with myself and the completion of my first cut segment for ProjectExplorer. Sure, I've been editing quick trips and question videos, writing blog posts, and researching the Mexico series. And since last summer, I've been exclusively using iMovie09, churning out some self-proclaimed impressive content. However, last night I cranked out a piece that will go down in history as my first official contribution to the meat and potatoes of this organization.

I love how the concept of this video became a reality. How does one capture a hugely famous, incredibly influential Latin American artist whose style created a new language in visual art? How do I find the proper way in which to dynamically convey the passion of Frida? Here's one of the three segments we decided to create on the special lady, narrated by and featuring Vijaya Selvaraju.

With hair by Nichole Dossous and make-up by Jazmine Da Costa, our Team Mexico whipped together an impressive segment. What do you think of our storytelling technique in this one?

Photoblog: Xochimilco and Frida

Man, I'm swamped with ProjectExplorer. The amount of work we have to create and cover in our short three weeks on locations is deep and vast. However, I'm still loving it and virtually recovered from my bout of hilarious food poisoning. We have moved on to Oaxaca for the second destination of three on this adventure, and our digs are beyond this world. I've got a lot to share.

Xochimilco

Two days after a little food poisoning, we boarded brightly colored boats in the man-made canals at Xochimilco. A woman dropped a bucket full of cerveza, soda, and water while our "gondolier" pushed off the dirt walls with his feet and striped pole.

We witnessed "tajin" at Xochimilco, which is a tradition to awaken the rain god and bring precipitation to their lands. It involved four guys flying around in circles from their waists - odd but entirely cool.

Xochimilco Flyers
Xochimilco

Frida Kahlo's Museum moved me nearly to tears. The artwork, the idea of her presence in that space, the colors and shadows of her garden - I could have spent days there.

Frida Kahlo Museum
Frida Kahlo Museum

Vijaya was a wee bit excited to find out the 27+ ingredients used to make mole sauce. Since Oaxaca is "the land of the seven moles," it was imperative we found out about the mysterious substance.

Have you been jones-ing for some video visuals from Mexico? Tomorrow, I'll show you some of the quick trips I've been churning out.

All photos © ProjectExplorer.org, 2010