Archive | November, 2013

A World Without Work: Star Trek Edition

Star Trek Enterprise

“The economics of the future is somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century… The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of Humanity.” Jean Luc Picard

A world without money and paid work is, of course, pure science fiction, socialist-seeming, nonsense. Except that future is already here, at least partially. We know because we’re already living a variation of that future along with a growing rank of others.

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The Bald Eagle: A Majestic and Ironic National Symbol

Alaskan Bald Eagle

Every afternoon like clockwork we’d watch this female bald eagle emerge from her nest outside Seward, Alaska, to wait for her errant partner to return with food for the family. We rarely saw the male or the two eaglets whose heads would only sometimes pop above the rim of the nest, but we could always count on mama to take this same afternoon perch.

We’re told that bald eagles mate for life and return to the same nest year after year. Each breeding season the couple adds to their home and builds the largest tree nests of any animal. The nests grow so large, up to a metric ton in weight, that they’ve been known to take down the tree in which they’re built. Fitting, wouldn’t you say? 

Two Extreme Climates. One Tiny Backpack. What I Packed.

Hot and cold tops

Hot and cold tops

When I see women traveling with backpacks larger than mine, sometimes I feel a flash of envy. What are they stashing in the extra space? More shoes? A hair dryer? Faced with the challenge of packing for a six-week trip to Hawaii and Alaska in a 40-liter backpack, I almost gave in to size envy and upgraded.

I’m glad I didn’t. Despite the fact that my backpack was purchased for a nine-week Central American trip that required solely hot weather wear, the same reasons I originally selected it still trumped the enticement of another pair of shoes.

First, a larger backpack would mean frequently being separated from it—checking it at airports, surrendering it during bus rides or airport taxis—and I’m kind of neurotic that way. I like arriving at my destination knowing I’ll have my clothes and other essentials in hand. With six flights on the Seattle-Hawaii-Alaska-Seattle itinerary alone, that would be six times a bag could go astray; and since we’re frequently in places for a short amount of time, often only a night or two, reuniting with an errant bag could be difficult.

Second, being on the move so much means having to re-pack every few days. The less stuff, the shorter amount of time that chore takes.

Third, the bigger the bag the heavier it is to tote around.

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From Fire to Ice

Alaska by Air


After growing a bit accustomed to palm trees and sandy beaches, the sight of snow was a bit shocking. Just weeks earlier we had felt the blowtorch-like heat of molten lava singe our cheeks. Now, we were gliding over endless miles of frozen tundra on our approach into Anchorage, Alaska. We knew that traveling here directly from Hawaii would offer a study in contrasts and, judging by the view from our airplane window, we weren’t going to be disappointed.

Ki’i Totems

Ki’i Totems, Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park, Hawaii

Wooden totems still protect the area that once served as a Hawaiian sanctuary for repentant lawbreakers and war refuges at Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park.

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