Saturday, June 23, 2012


Pizza-sized beautiful mushroom spotted on Mill Ridge near Hot Springs, NC

As a kid, I often ignored the dialogue on television -- particularly that of movies.  I was more interested in the ambient sounds:  shoe soles smacking against the concrete sidewalk, car tires on gravel, the squeaky screen door on the front porch and the train whistle.

I was reminded of my childhood listening habits when I watched Jean-Luc Godard's chaotic thriller Made in the USA, the other day.  I didn't particularly care for the movie, although Anna Karina is pleasant to watch in her brightly colored outfits.  Admittedly, the airplane sound effect became annoying after the first half dozen times.  Every time Karina attempted to mention the last name of her missing lover, Richard, the airplane sound drowned her out.

Today, during a morning walk in the woods, I encountered dense fog -- and the sound of raindrops dripping from leaf to leaf as they made their way to the ground. It made for a beautiful canopy of sound -- and yet there was something unsettling about the sound.

First of all, it was quite loud -- and secondly it drowned out most other sounds around me. It was as if I was wearing headphones in the forest.  So my sense of hearing was severely limited -- as was my vision -- as a result of the dense fog.

This was bear country -- and when walking in an area like this -- I like to be hyper-tuned to all of my surroundings.  I actually did encounter a bear along this same trail about six months ago. 

And I suppose I could have turned around this morning and gone back to the car, but then I would have  regretted not having walked in the woods on such a beautiful, cool morning.

As it turns out, I saw no bears today.  I did see a wild turkey and a rabbit.  What I should have prepared for were the stinging black flies.  The last two miles or so of my five mile walk was spent slapping my head and neck constantly. While I did manage to swap a dozen or so of the pests -- they had called out their entire air force.  It was a losing battle.  Next time I'll take bug spray.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Writing a book is one of those things that I always wanted to do, but never took the time to actually sit down and do it.  Until now.

It's obviously time-consuming and it's one of the main reasons I have ignored this blog for the past few months.  Hopefully, now, I will be writing more regularly here.

The book is about my nearly two years living in Mongolia.  It's a series of sketches of my observations while I was a Knight Fellow -- training journalists all across the vast country. It's part adventure, part travelogue.

You can find it here.