Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Curious Doll For Curious Times

Everything I create is a little bit different from the tried-and-true. And my AngryJ doll is no exception. AngryJ is an especially timely plush doll for the times we live in now. The media is rife with angry goings-on, whether it's news stories that are far afield or on our home turf. Every day, we may be inundated with frustrations that push our anger button. So, I created AngryJ as a way to you to realize that she looks like how you feel as you stew in your own angry ruminations. Just look at her and perhaps, even for a moment, she'll make you laugh and you'll get pulled out of your negative emotions.

AngryJ has a curious history, since I created a sketch of her when I was an angry 10-year-old kid. And many decades later, she became a doll. (I'm very persistent and I continued drawing her my whole life.) Now I'm including her backstory on a tag (below) that's attached to one of her skinny little arms. (She's looking to be adopted.)

Interestingly, I've found that more adults love AngryJ than kids. But anyone can buy AngryJ here. Each is a little different because they are handmade in the U.S. But, though all different, they are all very angry!

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Gear Review: Collapsible Water Bottle

On my recent trip to Sri Lanka, I decided to pack even lighter than usual. Of course, I never check luggage -- even when traveling internationally for 6+ weeks. But, this time, I wanted to minimize the number of bulky items I packed because I planned to stow my soft luggage under my seat rather than in the overhead compartment. Aside from one extra pair of shoes, the bulkiest item was my special water bottle that is a water filter. So, instead of traveling with the Lifestraw Go bottle, I purchased the Katadyn BeFree which is a soft, collapsible, BPA-free flask. It comes in three sizes: a little over half a liter, as well as one liter and three liter models. (I picked the half liter model for my travels.) Weighing in at just two ounces and packing relatively small, this was ideal for my journey. You simply suck from the spout and the filter removes 99.9% of protozoa and 99.9999% of bacteria from the water (It doesn't remove viruses.) And, when you unscrew the spout, the wide mouth of the flask makes it easy to fill from the faucet.

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Sunday, May 13, 2018

Book Review: Inspired by Nature

As I travel the world, from bustling urban centers to placid rural expanses, I seek intimate connections with nature. In fact, seeing a tree is like meeting a new friend with a distinctive personality and one that I cherish. Allowing myself to become enwrapped with flora is always rejuvenating experience. So I delighted in receiving a slim tome entitled The Nature Lover’s Quotation Book: An Inspired Collection for Hiking, Camping and the Great Outdoors by Hatherleigh.

This book, divided into five sections, brims with inspiring quotes and observations engendered by strolling through or sitting quietly in fields, woodlands, and other natural landscapes. The author collected a variety of poems and prose written by scientists, philosophers, naturalists, artists and others who embraced everything from the magic of a mist-coated pine forest to the beauty of a mountain summit at dusk.

Below are some of my favorite quotes, one from each of the five sections:

Quieting the Mind
“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.” Karle Wilson Baker

Nature’s Beauty and Bounty
“Art is a harmony parallel with nature.” Paul Cezanne

Spirit of Adventure
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” Edward Abbey

Putting Things in Perspective
“A blade of grass is always a blade of grass, whether in one country or another.” Samuel Johnson

Nature’s Power and Longevity
“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” John Muir

Next time you prepare for a foray into the great outdoors, whether for a short jaunt or a multi-day trek, slip this wee book into your backpack. It’s sure to help you treasure nature even more than you do now.

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