Archive | October, 2012

This and That

5 Oct

I’m ready to get home. Feeling worn out from juggling different things and trying to organize contractors and get estimates and take care of this and that. I just realized I’ve been gone for nearly a month. I have accomplished a lot, but not enough. Still much to do, but will be picking up my trailer on Saturday and bringing it down Sunday to start loading. Storage is not where it should be in terms of readiness, but fairly close. It would have gone faster had it not been infested with mice at some point, and as a result is now littered with thousands of tiny turds. Still need to sort out snow chains, but that’s the last major logistical issue for the trip which is good.

Spent half a day working on the yard today, and will spend a few hours there again tomorrow tidying things up. It’s interesting how people perceive themselves in terms of their skills. My tenant (who is super nice, so this is not a criticism of her), had mentioned to me before she moved in how much she loved gardening and yard work. Well – if I hadn’t known that, I would guess she hadn’t done much yard work – ever. I’m super anal about edging I’ve realized, and some people feel it isn’t necessary at all. Let’s just say that 4 months of little edging leads to a lot of work for those who are anal about edging and general yard tidiness. Front yard is looking fairly good now, though would need a few days to get things to where they used to be. Back yard isn’t quite as jungly as it was when I was down in May, so will not fuss too much with it. Exciting stuff I know. I do love me some yard work though. 

Today is my birthday, and two friends prepared a nice dinner for me (although I was very late due to a key mix-up with my tenant – a little frustrating to miss out on time with friends but mixups are very much a part of my life it seems). It was delicious, and nice to hang out with two great gals. I was grateful for the thoughtfulness and show of friendship. And the curry and the ice cream. 🙂

Tomorrow on my way to my folks I am stopping by to visit another friend for the evening, and looking forward to that as well. This trip has really been excellent for catching up with friends and family. After so many years of being out of the country, it’s nice to have the leisure to visit and see folks.

Well, that’s the round-up. Off to bed.

 

 

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Facebook and My Decision to Ditch It

2 Oct

So, I’m hoping my friends will visit this blog since I’ve decided to give up on Facebook. I still want to keep in touch with people, but am not happy with mainstream social media anymore. There are a couple of reasons. One is that I feel it leads to a superficiality in relationships. We see snippets of what people are thinking or doing, and we update the same ourselves. And then we think we know what’s going on with folks. But it’s just not so. I really would prefer, with folks I can’t see on a regular basis, to speak on the phone, email, and even *gasp* write letters. I miss more meaningful dialogue, and Facebook encourages us to be lazy in this regards.

My other reason for getting rid of Facebook is my concern and a little bit of paranoia with internet security and privacy. We have so much (very random) personal information on a web platform that we don’t control. I do think that the internet has the potential to be used in harmful ways, and I think as technology advances people, even countries, will choose to control it for the wrong reasons. I may seem crazy and a conspiracy theorist in this regard, but I think it’s grounded in a bit of logic too. While the internet can be great for research, for transparency regarding institutions, and for spreading information, it can also be used for controlling information, invasion of privacy, and infringing on rights.

You may say “but your blog is full of personal information!”. That’s true. But for now I believe it is more benign, and I know what I type in here can be for anyone to read, as opposed to believing that Facebook is providing us with some form of privacy and protection of our information and details. So what I write will be tempered in that regard.

I’ll miss seeing the snippets of life from friends, but I hope I can enter into more meaningful dialogue with many folks again, and those that I lose touch with, perhaps it’s just the way it’s meant to be.

The Rest of the Trip

2 Oct

I realized that I haven’t updated the blog since I left Canada….so here is a quick and dirty rundown (it was fairly boring the rest of the way so no pictures).

Day 5 – Edmonton – Jamestown, ND

This drive was flat flat flat. And in the debate between following road signs to the border or trusting the GPS (which occasionally gives bad routings), I chose the road signs, and I chose wrong. I essentially made a wrong turn into eastern Montana out of Saskatchewan, rather than going down into North Dakota. It didn’t put me out of the way too much, maybe an hour, but after 5 days of driving even an hour was a bit much. The scenery in that part of Montana (and southern Saskatchewan) was pretty though – rolling hills of harvested gold. I suppose this was the one spot I wish I had taken a photo.

The big negative was the border crossing. I’m not sure if this guy was bored, given the remoteness of the post, or if US Customs and Border Patrol are now on a mission to harass US citizens, but he was out of control. I was queried on three separate occasions about my work in Afghanistan (twice in the beginning and once at the end, as if he was hoping to catch me out), why I was going to the lower 48 (umm, I’m a citizen, dummy!), where I was going (none of your business, last I heard I have freedom of movement as a US citizen, dummy!), what I was planning on doing (umm, none of your business, last I heard I can do whatever I damn well please as long as I’m not breaking the law, dummy!), what my employment was (umm, last I heard, employment is DEFINITELY not a requirement for a US citizen to be in the US, dummy!), where I was planning on staying that night (umm, last I knew I could stay wherever I wanted to, dummy!), and how long I was planning on staying (umm, last I heard I could stay indefinitely given that the US is my country of birth, residence and citizenship, dummy!!!!). Wow. I decided to answer all his questions politely, but the more I thought about it later, the more it just burned me up. Their decision to treat me as a foreign national, and a dubious one at that, just goes to prove how out of control our government is on the infringement of our rights as US citizens. I feel like most people don’t care or notice, but believe me folks, this is like being in a pot of water that’s slowly being put on the boil…by the time we realize we’re cooked, it’s too late. As you can imagine, I will have a different strategy for my re-entry to Alaska should I receive the same treatment.

Anyway…I continued to drive in North Dakota until I couldn’t manage anymore and my fiancee could find a room for me. I had forgotten that ND is a hard place to find a hotel or motel, given the oil fields. I ended up in what turned out to be a really cute midwestern town called Jamestown. I stayed in a very clean but hilariously decorated hotel room. I was in the “Stadium Suite”, and my bed had a headboard that looked like a baseball glove, the ceiling was painted like a football field, and the walls were covered in pennants and jerseys. It was funny, but clean, and I was wiped. It was a long day.

Day 6 – Jamestown, ND – Minneapolis, MN

A flat drive through the midwest. Nothing to write home about, uneventful, and a pretty short drive. I did drive through Fargo and every time I saw a sign for Fargo I let out a loud “Faaahrgooo” in my best super strong midwestern accent. (Yes, was getting a bit lonely and bored by then, can you tell?) I stayed with my aunt and uncle in Minneapolis, which was great fun as I hadn’t seen them in years. I stayed for 3 days and it was great to have a breather, enjoy family, and relax!

Day 7 – Minneapolis, MN – Chicago, IL

A short, fairly boring, but very familiar drive as I used to do this every summer and winter as a kid when we still lived in Illinois. From that perspective it was kind of fun, and an actual trip down memory lane, but that’s about it. Illinois tollways are killer, I paid maybe $15 in tolls? Insane! Stayed with an old friend in Chicago and met her new wonderful family, which was a lot of fun.

Day 8 – Chicago, IL – NC

Last day. Down to North Carolina. A pretty long day, but after you get out of Indiana it’s hilly and pretty. It poured rain for a good 2/3 of the trip though, which was a bit of a drag. But 4,300 miles later (or about 7,000 km for you metric types), I made it alive, with a very stiff neck, and was glad it was over!

I easily could have cut down the trip to 7 days had I not scheduled stops with friends and family, and possibly even 6 (very long days!) now that I know the route through northern Canada and where I can stop. But I think for driving through so much unfamiliar territory, not to mention driving alone with no relief, I’m happy I took my time, and took lots of time to stop and appreciate scenery and the rest.

The route back up will be through different US states, and will head up to the border through western Montana (different border post!!), skirting past Calgary and then up to Edmonton, and repeating the rest of the trip. I have scheduled the days a bit differently though, and I think they will lead to more sensible driving lengths. Stay tuned….