Will Bark for Food

Meet Amos, who enjoys eating the sticky notes containing my daily to-do lists that I leave littered around the house. We've been house-mates for two and a half weeks now. I'm almost used to his farting, and the 6:30am wake-up calls to whip him up something yummy in the kitchen. Ah, the joys of living with a guy. Fortunately his family returns next week. While his silly face gives me a good laugh, I don't think I'll miss the farts.


Moral Authority

I've been thinking a lot lately about moral politics. After the 2004 election, there was tons of talk about "moral values voters". It was said that the right was able to talk about their politics in moral terms, and were able to capture a large segment of the population that connected with that talk. There was lots of rustling that the left should frame their discussions in moral terms.

I've been wondering about the consequence of focusing on moral politics, though. If you say you believe that providing health care for all people is a moral imperative, you leave unsaid the assumption that to take the opposite view is immoral, and are more likely to take the next step of writing off their opinion as wrong. Really, I think all people would say that the moral thing to do is to take care of the sick. It is then the job of the politicians to find the most suitable way to do so.

Just some thoughts running through my head at this political time.

By the way, wasn't Kathleen Sebelius fantastic in her response to the SOTU? It's nice to be able to be proud of a Kansas politician.


Not-so-rapid transit

I did a bit of a social experiment yesterday. I recently discovered a local bus route that goes directly from my neighborhood up to an intersection right by my former employer. To think that I could have been using public transportation the whole time I worked there! Instead of falling asleep at the wheel driving 50 minutes each way, I could have sipped my coffee while leisurely reading my morning paper (and doing a lot of quality people-watching).


I tried the route yesterday. In non-rush-hour traffic, it took more than 2 hours – TWO HOURS – to get there. That distance is equal to a Sunday morning paper, including the Classifieds. Public transportation in Phoenix is a disgrace.


What I've Learned, 2007

I've decided to do this year's installment of "What I've Learned" (an idea ripped from the pages of Esquire) by quoting past posts on Terra Incognita. You can read previous editions of What I've Learned here and here.

Man I miss Show and Tell. 01.02.07

It's hard to read subtitles when you're giggling. 02.19.07

To these children [in the movie Jesus Camp] faith and fear are interchangeable. Their faith in God is one that is born out of fear. And that saddens me, because the God I know and the God I trust does not rely on fear. While fear is great motivation, it tends to breed further fear. 04.16.07

If you bring the tuna down [into the Grand Canyon], eat it all, otherwise you'll smell it all the way up and the scent infuses into your backpack so much that even 5 days later you find the dog deliriously licking the inside of your pack. 06.26.07

From now on, I know to carry everything that documents my travel plans when passing through Customs. I'm just thankful that I learned this when entering a country I'm familiar with, and not, say, Vietnam. 07.07.07

It's utterly fantastic to enter a city knowing not a single soul, only to be pubbing a day later with what feels like a contingent from the U.N. 07.20.07

Americans are not the only "ugly" tourists. We get a bad rap, and some tourists give good reason for that reputation, but I've seen just as many "ugly" tourists from all sorts of countries. 08.06.07

I travel quite differently while in a group. It's nice to not have to worry about the details like where I'm staying for the night or how to navigate my way to the train station, but I've found I've become less aware of my surroundings. 08.16.07

It's strange, this feeling of great wealth -- empowering and yet burdensome. I know that my patronage of someone's shop or cafe really makes a difference, which makes me feel good -- I like knowing that what I spend helps feed a family. But it becomes a weighty decision to choose a restaurant for dinner or a stall to buy a souvenir from. 09.13.07

While standing next to an American bunker on top of a hill over looking the Perfume River on the outskirts of Hue, I realized why the Americans lost the Vietnam War: There is no way Americans are suited for the heat and humidity of Vietnam without the luxury of being able to duck into some air con. 09.13.07

I believe it's my inherited responsibility to foster good relations with our former enemies. 09.13.07

I love Vietnam for its unapologetic differences. 09.13.07

I have nearly mastered another art: that of using the squat toilet. Mostly I have learned to carry TP and hand sanitizer in my bag at all times. 09.18.07

Call me weird, but I started missing the chore of lugging my backpack through subways and side streets. It made the arrival at the hotel seem a little less like a major success when I didn't have to exert much effort. 11.16.07

One of the big lessons for me was to see how important culture was to religious experiences. How can I chastise or challenge someone on their belief structure if that's the cultural structure they know and trust? 11.26.07

I've found that I pack way more for a week of domestic travel – or even a week of house-sitting in my own town – than I packed for 3 months of trekking around the globe. 12.19.07


Makin' it great in 2008

We used to have somewhat of a tradition of eating cheese fondue to ring in the new year. We brought it back this year. Yum! I made it through dinner without dropping anything in the cheese. I'm hoping this bodes well for the new year.