Tag Archives: America

Let’s get packing!

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In a recent comment on one of Lin’s posts over at the Absence of Alternatives, I let out that I would probably never visit the States. I realize this might sound a bit rash for someone who hasn’t even turned 30 (please let me enjoy being able to say this for just one more year), and truth be told, if it hadn’t been for a since deceased bearded Saudi, I already would have. And it’s not like I don’t want to. For one thing, I dream of seeing every show on Broadway (and you may take this quite literally). My parents have spent their two most recent summer holidays traveling around Arizona/Nevada/Wyoming/Utah/… visiting National Parks and cities whose names I forgot but whose pictures filled me with longing and jealousy. Unfortunately (for myself), I am the lucky owner of a number of obsessionspassions, and one of those evolves around carbon footprinting.

Antelope Canyon, Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona, USA.

Antelope Canyon, AZ. They don't have this in Europe, that's for sure. (Image via Wikipedia)

I have always been very concerned with nature conservation and the like. I remember, even as a kid, telling my mother about recycling, and that she had to separate waste streams of plastic and metal. The poor woman was only barely able to explain to me that it didn’t make much sense to throw them away separately if they weren’t picked up separately (that has fortunately changed). Even to this day I get so obsessed about recycling that I throw my bottles and cans in the trash of the apartment block around the corner (usually under the cover of darkness) because it has separate containers for glass/plastic/metal/… and mine doesn’t. I’ve always used public transportation, and only got my driving license at 25, mostly because my parents kept insisting I get it. Needless to say, I never owned a car. I rarely drink anything but plain tap water, and I’ve been known to come close to dehydration when I forgot my water bottle out or pure stubbornness not to buy bottled water. I travel between Belgium and Sweden by a long, expensive train ride (17hrs, about €170) instead of a quick, cheap flight (6hrs, about €110). And so, I’m sure you understand, even with a GreenSeat certificate my conscience would never survive the torture of my feelings of guilt about throwing 2,46 tons of CO2 in the air. I have, however, found a solution to this problem that doesn’t involve an $800 7-day crossing with the Queen Mary 2

Although... this doesn't look that bad...

I’m just gonna travel through the States via the World Wide Web! Indeed: if an Idiot can cycle coast to coast and Thypolar can shop at WalMart in whichever state she chooses, I sure as hell can visit the States through the interwebz, right? For each state, I will give myself a week of traveling time, so that I would be able to do the whole trip in a year. I’ll research the top sights and must-have-done’s, trying to get a sniff of American history, and alternate with breathtaking hikes and cycling tours. I might even do some culture here and there (although the stars know I was never one for museums). I will then tell you all about what I’ve seen, done, and learned!
Because Lin instigated the idea, I will start my exploration in the state of Illinois and its largest city, Chicago – which, remarkably, is not the capital. I truly thought Springfield was a fictional village inhabited by yellow creatures, but that is obviously my mistake. See, I haven’t even started and I’ve learned something already! If you have any trips for state-seeing, please let me know, and if you’re residing in the US of A: see you soon!

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A recap of 2 weeks of blogging

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This is a response to a call from Jane to post today on anything we learned/value/wonder/… from/about/… blogging. Admittedly, this blog is barely a few weeks old, but I have been blogging (on and off) for some time, and especially these last weeks I have been doing a lot of ‘research’ on the subject (solely for the benefit of my own blog, obviously, not because I – imagine – like reading blogs). For what it’s worth: my list of wonderings.

  • I love blogs of strong, self-confident women with children and a good sense of humor.
    It is so predictable I am slowly turning into a cliche myself. I always try the “intellectual” blogs, with views on actuality and politics, with new scientific discoveries and Big Opinions on moral and social issues – I feel I should know about these things. Form an opinion of my own. Truth is, in most cases I couldn’t care less and all I really wanna read is how yoga elicits murderous feelings on a beautiful morning and which weirdo jobs people have practiced over the years. It makes me feel like a voyeur, peeking into other people’s lives. I only comfort myself with the idea that, if they didn’t want me to know, they wouldn’t put it online. The strangest thing is, while blogging is supposedly a men’s world and all, I only encounter women’s blogs. Or maybe those are the only ones capable of keeping my interest. Now there’s an idea.

  • American people are religious.
    And not only that, they are very much into the whole empowerment thing. I know this observation seems to have nothing to do with blogging, but it is only through blogging that I come to understand the religiousness of American people. Or rather the omnipresence and naturalness of it. I have never set foot in America (for the record, I’m European), and while I got a faint media-based idea of the average American as a conservative God-bless-America capitalist (fortunately, friends have assured me reality is different), I always had the idea that this whole religion thing was but a cover up. Just an excuse to accomplish a hidden agenda. I think I still don’t grasp the full impact of religion on people’s lives, but it just strikes me – people BELIEVE. Small things: “Today after church …” Huh?! They talk about their church and community, they sign comments with ‘God bless you’. They go to Bible study groups – I think I couldn’t even go to one if I wanted to, solely for the lack of it. They quote the Bible in their posts! And this comes from people who otherwise profile themselves as Democrats (which, as I understand it, is the more ‘progressive’ party?). When I cry out : “my god” (mind the small caps) or “Jesus Christ”, it’s just… something I’ve taken over from television. Not in America. To someone who can count the number of friends and family going to church weekly on one hand (mostly out of habit rather than out of conviction), it is a VERY strange experience. But interesting, too.
  • Everybody uses my layout.
    Ok, this probably isn’t true. But about half of the blogs I am following has the same layout as mine. The other half has layouts which I have considered. It’s creepy.
  • Republicans don’t blog.
    Again, probably not true – maybe WordPress is a Democrat bastion which Republicans refuse to use, I don’t know. If it matters what kind of ketchup you eat to be politically correct, I imagine the blogging platform is even more important. Either way, it seems that I only get to read blogs from people with Democrat sympathies. Which may not be so strange in itself (lots of explanations possible), but what strikes me the most is that I KNOW these things. And I’ve been reading those blogs for … 3 weeks? Any other nationality bloggers I haven’t a clue how they would vote (and I follow Portuguese, French, British, Belgian, Canadian, …), but Americans seem to have this need to position themselves. You’re not just American, you’re a Democratic American or a Republican one. One person seemed to be undecisive, and actually wrote he had trouble finding a job cause future employers couldn’t figure out whether he was a Democrat or a Republican. What’s that all about? Meanwhile I still don’t know the difference between the two. I urgently need to visit this country.
  • All bloggers want to be writers.
    Okay, again, maybe not all. But the number of journalists is astounding, and many bloggers seem to either have finished a novel, are in the process of writing one, are thinking of writing one or simply just aspire to be a writer while knowing perfectly well they’ll never get there but maybe if this blog-thing works out they’ll get the confidence to one day sit down and start (wow, quite the sentence there). The worst part of that is… I’m one of them, lol.

  • Reading blogs is addictive.
    No further comments required.