ˈvər-chə-wəlˈdā-vəs Serial storyteller, poetry pusher, digital doodler, flâneur.

Monday Morning Meander

English: Meander on the River Dee just west of...

Monday Morning Meander (Image via Wikipedia)

My Mondays typically are energetic, frenetic, anxious. All weekend I’ve been building up To Do lists and massaging my timelines, and by the time I crawl out from under the comforter to share breakfast with Griffin, my Labrador Retriever, my mind is already off to the races.

I suspect that there’s a Monday Morning archetype with lots of other caffeinated-before-your-caffeinated folks who know exactly what I’m talking about. Which validates my suspicions that we all need to break pace for a few moments and meander to refresh the dreams and go juices. If you’re understanding me so far, this post may be for you. Let’s meander together for a few minutes before we pull back into heavy traffic or return to slaying dragons or charming venomous snakes.

Are you social? Digitally social? Plenty gab to be had of late regarding merits and demerits of social networks, but GigaOm‘s recent post, “Do authors have to be social? No, but it helps.“, is worth a look.

Mat Johnson described the people he follows on Twitter as his “dream party guests — interesting strangers whose wit keeps me coming back.” But Johnson also put his finger on another reason that some authors like him have taken to social media like Twitter: the ability to connect directly with potential readers. As he put it: “I’ve never had a single ad for any of my novels, had a movie made or been given a big budget push by a publisher. Usually, they just throw my book out to reviewers and hope it floats. Twitter lets me hijack the promotion plane, sidestep the literary establishment and connect directly to my current and potential audience… It’s a meritocracy; if you’re interesting, you get followed.” (GigaOM: Tech News and Analysis)

I’m borrowing Johnson’s Twitter/dream party guests analogy the next time I try to explain the joys of skinny dipping in the tweet stream to a perplexed (or dismissive) audience. And while I’m thinking about dream party guests, what happened to Kevin Smokler? Was he abducted by aliens? Or is he just giving a fall/winter rest. Back in the spring?

@ This is why we need your #TED talk. Tyler Cowen takes a cynical, skeptical look at stories #gagreflex
Karl Sprague

Are you familiar with narrative pollyannaism? Fellow optimist Karl Sprague just introduced me to its antithesis, died in the cloth story skepticism. Economist Tyler Cowen’s TEDxTalk distills the dark, devious, dangers of storytelling in his warning, “Be suspicious of stories“.

Cowen admits a weakness for compelling narratives, but he’s concerned that stories oversimplify our messy lives. He reminds us that stories distort complex human nature, interactions and institutions potentially misguiding us and fueling bias and self-deception.

He’s right, of course.

As Holbert C. Harris Chair of economics at George Mason University and co-author of economics blog Marginal Revolution and an avalanche of economics books, Cowen is right about a lot. And despite taking a few laps to warm up, his dry, self-deprecating sense of humor prevails, gradually softening his admonition. And his nod to Gabriel Garcia Marquez‘s Living to Tell the Tale ultimately won me over.

“Life is not what one lives, but what one remembers and how one remembers it in order to recount it.” (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

Stories do distort and oversimplify. But so do street signs, the nightly news, education, modern medicine, music and virtually every other human invention. His bottom line?

Be more comfortable with messy. Be more comfortable with agnostic…” (TEDxTalks)

I can live with that.

And what better way to wrap up than a digital recap of Sunday’s meander? Yesterday John Davis (@trekeast) and I escaped with our brides and progeny for a Parch Pond adventure. This Eddy Foundation wilderness holding includes a handsome pond which was frozen and snow-free, perfect skating. Here’s a clip shot by Mr. TrekEast on his iPhone:

For additional images from the outing, check out “Skating Parch Pond“.

Memory Lane, Cinque Terre

Vernazza by Night (photo credit Ales Farcnik via

The power of a photograph. And Twitter. And nostalgia. This stunning photograph of Vernazza by Slovenian photographer Ales Farcnik transported me back almost a decade to Cinque Terre.

I was living in Paris. I had spent August on vacation in the Adirondacks on Lake Champlain. A whirlwind romance. Then I returned to Paris and she returned to Manhattan. I think we were both a little surprised to miss each other. A summer fling. But the longing endured. I invited her to explore Cinque Terre with me over the Toussaint holiday. Within an hour she’d booked a flight. Within a couple of weeks we were falling head over heals in love with each other in Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, Riomaggiore and Monterosso al Mare. Four years later she became my bride.

Thanks for the memories, Ales Farcnik. And hat tip to to M. Faizan Sorathis (@Staticulator) who retweeted the “100 Beautiful Pics of Night” link that triggered this nostalgic flashback!

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Adirondacks: Who Needs Yellowstone?

Photo via

My wife stumbled upon this gem while shopping in Keene Valley the other day. I’m a Yellowstone fan too, but I’ve got to admit this is a pretty clever t-shirt!

Lake Placid in Fashion


Lake Placid winter fashionLake Placid shows up in the Winter 2010 Gorsuch catalog, right up there with Zermatt, Sun Valley, Vail, etc. Is Lake Placid sexy again? The 1932 Winter Olympics and the 1980 Winter Olympics pushed our Adirondack alpine wonderland into the spotlight, and maybe it’s happening again.

By coincidence, this morning I received an email notice this morning about Whiteface, the Olympic downhill ski mountain in Lake Placid:

“Whiteface will open Saturday, December 5, 2009 for the 2009-10 winter season. Mother Nature was off to a slow start, however, it looks as though the tides are turning back into winter! Our snowmaking crews are making snow 24/7 as temps permit! We will open with Excelsior, Summit Express, and Upper Valley. Over 1.5 miles of terrain. Beginner terrain will not be available. Cloudsplitter Gondola and Little Whiteface will be open with downloading on the Gondola, lower mountain will open asap.”

By then I’ll be in Mumbai, but it’s good to know that we’ll be able to start skiing when we get home!

Skiing Stratton and Whistler Blackcomb

So how’s everybody coming on the NATO Phonetic Alphabet? Next time you book your airline tickets, read your confirmation code back to the attendant employing this new tool and she just may be so impressed she’ll give you your tickets for free. Maybe…

Just returned to the North Country after a couple of groovy skiing escapes. First a short week at Stratton in Vermont for the Philips US Open 2004 with my brother, and my buddy who works for Burton. He had volunteered us for the banner crew which meant we helped prepare all of the marketing banners, signs, etc. for the competition each day. And we skied. And skied and skied. We received plenty of fresh snow, and we threw ourselves into it like it was the last chance of the season. And it almost was. Except…

The following week I headed off to Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia with MHD for another short week of skiing. Spring conditions the first couple of days, but amazing snow since it had dumped just before our arrival. Then some base rain which was snow on the mountain. Skied the hell out of both hills including both glaciers. Visibility wasn’t always so great, and the bottoms of both mountains tended to mashed potatoes, but everything else was amazing. And hardly no lift lines since we went the week after most spring breaks. Then a stop-off in Chicago for several days to take a seminar on e-publishing at the University of Chicago. Also a chance to catch up with a couple of old high school buddies which was great fun. Then back to NYC and a long drive back to the Adirondacks where spring is arriving ahead of schedule.

From Beethoven to Subaru

Back in the Adirondacks. Life is good. Though rainy and foggy like my last entry. A nice weekend though. And end of week. Balmy in NYC. A couple of magnificent runs in Central Park. Another in Montclair. On Thursday we went to a splendid evening at the New York Philharmonic. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, Piano Concerto No. 3 and Symphony No. 5 with Lorin Maazel conducting and Gianluca Cascioli tickling the ivories. Though somehow that expression seems to better fit Fats Domino…

Bought a car on eBay in the hopes that it will solve the mobility, mpg, affordability equation. Time will tell. It’s a cute little Subaru Outback Sport. Green. 30+ mpg and AWD so I’m pretty optimistic. Off to take a two night Defensive Driving Course tomorrow so that my points will be reduced after the speeding ticket in Colorado this summer. Insurance company zing-ed me for that. That and the fact that I’ve been out of the US for several years and not insured. Aaargh. Apparently they’ll drop my rates in six months, but only if I remember to ask them. You better bet I’ll remember!

Going on a full week of good writing sessions. Editing first half dozen chapters of the never-ending-novel in the hopes that I can sustain this focus and manage to continue to prioritize it. Send positive vibes my way. Oh, and my shipment from Paris finally arrived, so I’ve spent two days trying to unpack and find places for all this stuff, wondering which things to keep and which to trot out for eBay-ers to consider for their collections. Need to lighten the load. Hoping that eBay might serve as a good matchmaker. Updates to follow.

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