Tag Archives: travel

Vlogging Abroad: Fierce and Mighty Goes to Shanghai

Traveling "Rough"
My idea of traveling "rough"

I got back into the good ol’ U. S. of A. yesterday evening after spending a nice chunk of the week in Shanghai, China.  It’s my second trip to China and first time Shanghai, a city which a friend of mine described as “China’s Paris”.  Now, while I didn’t get to see anything in the city that struck me as very Parisian, I did come away with an appreciation for a few things:

  1. Shanghai. Is. Massive.  At a population of 23 million, it’s the most populous city on the planet.
  2. The city has a fairly amazing skyline.  The vlog post has a shot from the roof deck of my hotel and that will give you a pretty good idea of what it looks like at night.  Pretty amazing – they love their lights on buildings in Shanghai.
  3. While not Shanghai specific, I like to travel “rough” in the sense that if I’m going to be on a plane, I will have on some combination of (a) baseball hat, (b) t-shirt, (c) sneakers and (d) pullover.  Oh and there is no possible way I am shaving either.  This photo is proof to all of the above as I sat in BusinessFirst on United.  If you thought for a second that traveling “rough” to China involved being crammed into an impossibly small seat… umm… no.  Not so much.

Anyhoo, today’s vlog is about perspective (surprised?), funkiness and living life active vs. passive.  Please do enjoy – this is my first attempt at an iPad-generated vlog.  Hoping this works out as planned.  Also, I was able to build up a few post ideas during the trip that I will be doing over the next few days.  Rejoice unto the heavens and cry hosannah!

Memorial Day 2010 – Reflections, Thoughts and A Swift Kick in the Rear

Today is a doubly reflective sort of day for me.  First and foremost, it’s Memorial Day and secondly, I’m getting ready to travel to London on a red-eye out of JFK tonight for a work conference all week.  Memorial Day makes me reflect for what are, I think, fairly obvious reasons and travel always makes me reflect because I know I will be encountering new places, peoples and experiences.

In thinking of Memorial Day, it can be a lot of different things.  It’s a day of rest (well… at least it should be) and BBQs and taking a few minutes to think about the ultimate sacrifice that over a million Americans have made to protect freedoms that most of us just flat out take for granted.  That last part almost sounds cliched, but it probably sounds that way because sometimes the things that are just so obvious tend to get slapped with that kind of unfair tag.  But honestly… how often do any of us think about that?  I mean genuinely and honestly stop for a moment and reflect on the fact that people have died so that you can I can live a fairly uneventful life where we get to raise our kids, go to work, enjoy our weekends and be who we want to be without a lot heck of a lot of interference.

I took a look at the source of all knowledge… Wikipedia, obviously… and found this entry on total U.S. combat casualties over the course of our country’s history.  It’s sobering stuff to look at, especially when you see the Civil War estimates that the war claimed the lives of 2% of the entire population of the country – 625,000 people with close to 600 dying every day.  If that doesn’t give you a moment to pause, then there’s nothing a whole lot I can do to help you at that point.  Just take a moment… even just a quiet 30 seconds… to appreciate the gift of the freedom you enjoy if you live here in the United States.  We are very, very far from perfect, but you would be hard-pressed to find a place much better.  I believe that with all my heart and want our country to stay that way.

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But I also had a slightly less lofty moment of reflection today that had less to do with our freedoms as a people and more to do with what Memorial Day has meant for me personally the last few years.  As a baseball coach, Memorial Day was the day every team, club, organization and such in the town I coach would get out and march.  It’s complete mayhem, but also a lot of fun… except I’m not there this year.  Rather, I am in the midst of doing a bunch of last second packing, e-mail checking and planning before leaving on my trip to London and so I missed the parade this AM for the first time in 4 or 5 years… and I hate that fact almost more than I can say.

There was really no good reason, excuse or explanation for my not being there.  Yes, I really am pulling a whole bunch of things together right now to prepare for my trip… but seriously?  That couldn’t have been done Saturday?  Or yesterday?  And this frustrates me to absolutely no end because that parade is now a bit of tradition and I’m missing it for just no good reason at all.

And all this for one simple and unassailable reason: I just need to do a better job of getting my act together.  Period.  Oh sure, I could go into a very grand and verbose post about how I am a classic introvert who recharges my batteries with alone and quiet time or that I have been very busy with work and blah blah blah.  Those things would have been both true statements… but also really and truly piss-poor excuses.

So in some ways, the fact that I do a better job of reflecting when I travel is probably a good thing so I can reflect myself into fixing my little red wagon and not missing out on things that are most important to me in life… because that often ends up being the end result.

But fear not… this is not a post about wallowing in self-pity and whinging over what has gone before.  I can only take that in myself for about 5-10 minutes before I find it annoying, so Lord knows none of you should have to soak up any of that a second longer.

Because on this day of memorial and day of reflection… I am putting myself back on track with 2 things more important than any little silly gripe I may have:

1) That when people have given their lives so you have the luxury of blogging at home with your feet on the table, it’s best to take that solid shot of perspective with a quiet nod of sincere thanks; and

2) That as long as there are nephews in the world who get a kick out of walking in parades (and hitting bodybuilder poses while waiting for them to start), then there is some real good in the world to make you smile.

And a smile is spreading across my face right now.  Happy Memorial Day 2010, everyone.

Changes in Latitudes

Ahh.  Vacation day.  I’ve spent a chunk of the past week in Bradenton, Florida for work and decided to take today as a vacation day with a flight back home tomorrow… but not before going to check out this spot:

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If there is one thing I’ve noticed, it’s that Jim Morrison (kind of) had it right when he sang, “There’s only four ways to get unraveled, One is to sleep and the other is travel.”

So I got some good rest last night and I’ve noticed that despite being slammed busy the last few days, I feel a lot more relaxed than I have in several weeks.  Why is that?  Well, in my case I find that whenever I get a chance to travel, I do tend to unravel.  I’ve noticed that if I take a week of vacation and spend it at home (I refuse to use the term “staycation”… that just makes me nuts), I never truly relax.  I think just being around the house and being in the same surroundings keeps me in the same state of mind.  And that state of mind may very well be too stressed for my own good (since I tend to be wired a little that way).

To that end, I think environment can have a very big impact on your overall mental outlook and it’s something I’ve written about before on this blog (notably here).  Your work environment from a physical standpoint, I believe, certainly affects your mind.  Or perhaps the space where you engage in your own personal exercise routine.  There is a huge difference between training in a gym full of mirror-gazing punks in overly tight tank tops as opposed to being in a private garage gym with heavy metal blaring, a bunch of people pushing each other to do better and not one iota of pretentiousness to be found.  You tell me where you think you will get better results.

My advice is to get out of your typical space and see something different… be somewhere different… and in the end?  You are going to feel something different.  Heck, you might even relax a tad bit.  The stay-at-home vacation or the stay-at-home weekend can be fine, but if you are truly in a rut or just feeling like a densely packed ball of stress and anguish… don’t you think you need to do some different?  I know I do.

And in keeping with the musical theme that seems to be developing in this post, Mr. Buffet said it so very, very well… changes in latitude, changes in attitude.