Columbus Day: Or, One Year in the Blogosphere

For Columbus Day, 13 October….

Reflection and Choice

Revisiting some thoughts I had last year on blogging for a year, making discoveries, and on Columbus Day, which is tomorrow, 13 October…..

This year on 14 October we are celebrating, or not celebrating, depending on your world view, Columbus Day.

Either he discovered something, or was terribly lost, and then found by people who already lived where he landed.

But since it is also the day that marks one year since I have been blogging for Reflection and Choice, I am here to tell you: sometimes, whether you know it or not, you are both lost and found, unsure and triumphant.  Clueless, yet on your way to the epiphany that you never saw coming, the shore that you thought you would never see.  It’s the price of the ticket, the risk of the voyage.  You don’t know how it will end.


When I was asked to start blogging, I…

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Up the Mountain, Into the Woods: Two Weeks at Wildacres

For Judi Hill


“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

1.  Houston

The thrill of the city is that it is always moving:  you will never run out of things to do. Houston holds out her hand, and you take, take, take:  The Alley Theater, The Houston Symphony, The Menil Collection.  I could never leave and still feel like I was touring the globe.  We don’t have to try to be diverse, multicultural, international, endlessly interesting.  We already are.  Many days, I spiral the city on Beltway 8, driving to my university in the southwest part of the city.  There is a lot of concrete, brick, and mortar around me.  Nature has been tamed for so much for our progress.  Nature punctuates the city, not the other way around.

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Big Times in Big-D


When you are driving to Dallas in July, the last thing you think will happen is that the temperatures will be below the high nineties. But when I pulled into the DFW Hilton in Grapevine, the Dallas suburb near the airport, it was only 82. In Texas, in July, this constitutes a minor miracle. It was the first of many pleasant surprises, and you might even be a little shocked to hear that I, Miss Lit on Lit-Er-Ah-Ture, was there for a conference to hear all about science writing.

Strange, but true.

I brought my son Christopher with me because he wasn’t named after the Patron Saint of Travel for nothing, and when we drove the long way from Houston, he read to me from a book called Ambush about Bonnie and Clyde. He had visited the Bonnie and Clyde museum in Louisiana, saw where they were shot dead, and wanted to disabuse me of any romantic notions I might have about them. He told me that Bonnie was really a waitress, (although he used the more politically correct “server,”) and that “she was just a tag-along, although they were in love.” When we walked into the hotel, the first thing we saw was the restaurant called “Bonnie and Clyde’s.” We looked at each other and laughed. Well, you can’t reach everyone.
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Muzzling the Ox: Writers Don’t Get Paid


Tim Kreider posted an opinion piece at the New York Times complaining about people who ask him to write things for free. He’s a writer by trade, and he thinks it’s appropriate to get paid for his work.

People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it.

Pieces like this have been cropping up more and more frequently. Those of us who populate the internet with “content” seem to be getting a little bit restless. A while back, Nate Thayer publicly complained about The Atlantic. In a Twitter conversation, Alan Jacobs told me to stop writing for people who don’t pay. It seems that even non-internet writing is no longer worth money, and Philip Hensher tried to shame someone who asked for a free forward for a book.

Can you blame authors for circling the wagons? Writers want to pay their bills. Writers want to feel that their work is valuable. We pay for what we value, but the internet is all about freebies.

We’re told that the “exposure” will be worthwhile. When I hear the word “exposure” I automatically think of a hard-working sherpa freezing to death on the side of Everest as he’s helping a wealthy European up the mountain.

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