I Got My Phone a Battery Case, Thank God

So I bought myself a Mota battery case for my phone as one of my many recent “birthday presents,” which were all things I’ve needed but I’ve put off for too long.

It conveniently arrived last Friday, the day before I went on a Victoria Tourism Instagram promo day with some other photographers, and I couldn’t be happier. I’d charged it up and didn’t know what to expect from performance.

Well, by the time we finished our little Goldstream Park tour at 12:50, all the Instagrammers were all panicky about who could charge their batteries first. A couple had little doohickeys they could attach for their own charging purposes, but it was a bit of a production.

Me? I just played on my phone. In fact, I never once charged my phone during the day and wound up still having 45% juice when I got home after our 13-hour extravaganza.

The battery pack’s a little heavy but there’s zero pain in the ass with operating it once it’s on (if you don’t use it to dock with any apps, that is — I live in a Bluetooth world). The battery charging’s a little hot to run, but if you choose your moments for recharging, you can do it when it’s in your pocket or something. The charging turns off when you reach 100% and you can push the button for another refill when it’s sinking down again, until the battery pack runs out, which has been quite a long time indeed, for me.

I was gonna just use the case on special event days, but the iPhone battery sucks so much that now I’m just gonna leave it on. After a week, the pain in the ass factor with my phone is far lower than it has been in, well, ever. Or since the 3G days.

Later, I’ll post the fun photos I took while enjoying a day in the Greater Victoria District with Tourism Victoria and their #VictoriaBoo! endeavours. They think this spooky old city is the perfect place to take a Halloween weekend. Guess what? I agree! There’s so much cool history nerd stuff going on, a weird occult and burlesque crowd to follow, lots of funky art and theatre. Victoria just has a lot of fun when it’s Halloween.

 

 

 

 

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My Birthday Status Update

I was suddenly touched (probably the wine) and felt like writing something meaningful as a Thank-You for birthday wishes on Facebook, when all of a sudden I exploded with words. I thought I should post it here because I really want everyone who hasn’t had this feeling of pride on a birthday to be able to experience it for themselves. If I inspire ANYONE to make any moves on life goals, I’ll be so proud. So here’s what I wrote:

***

People, birthdays are better when you know you’re accomplishing your goals. What haven’t you started? Isn’t THIS the year you want to say YOU DID IT?

I haven’t done anything “special” with people this weekend because I’ve seen a lot of folks of late, and have a lot of events coming up. Keeping to myself this 41st birthday of mine has been really nice. I know it’s the end of a lot of chapters in my life, and the start of many more.

My 40s, however short they’ve been, have been much better than my 30s. 3 weeks before I turned 30, I had what could’ve been a fatal accident. I just happened to be adjusting my stereo while turning left 1 block from home when someone ran a red light at 80km and T-boned the front of my car. Had I been “paying attention” and driving faster, I might have been killed. Thank god for distracted driving on my part.

ONE YEAR to that week, I had another very serious accident and spent the next two years rehabbing.

And that pretty much set the tone of my 30s, until I pulled the plug and moved to Victoria.

Here, I’ve been healing. I’ve been reconnecting with work. I’ve rediscovered photography (I did photojournalism in college, was darkroom staff there too, and managed photo labs, then walked away for a decade). I’ve published my first ebook, expanded my freelance life, doubled my income for a while (and then opted out to focus on my own writing), and more.

All of that took making choices, sacrificing, and focusing on the end goal rather than dwelling in the present. I have more choices to make, more focusing to do, but I want to enjoy my present more because Victoria has been good to me, I know I will always look upon this apartment as one of my best homes ever, despite BaconHater, and I know my time is not long left here in the Queen’s favourite Canadian city.

So, yeah. I’ve enjoyed keeping to myself today. I’ve had a lot to reflect on, a lot to be proud of, and a lot to choose to look forward to.

And that’s why I’d like to encourage some of you to stop thinking of all the reasons why you “can’t” do the shit you’ve got on your list, and start realizing the only person holding you back, really, is you.

I’m glad I got the fuck out of my own way.

THANK YOU EVERYONE for being a part of a special “me” day. Thanks for all your birthday wishes and anything good and kind you’ve done for me in the last year, or EVER.

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Oh, The Hypocrisy

It’s strange how hypocritical and blind people can become to their own actions.

It’s also weird how it’s things like the launch of a new social site that can spur them on to being their worst person.

This time, I speak of the recent embiggening of the fledging social network Ello.

The short of it is this: Social network launches, pledging to not treat people like sheep and that they’ll never fall into the marketers’ hands a la Twitter and Facebook. Now I’m skeptic and doubt all that is legit, but I don’t really care. I just want a place today that isn’t what the others are becoming. And if I’m in on the ground floor, maybe I can be a part of the force for good to keep it what it begins as.

Well, enter your naysayers.

You know, it’s fine to not like it. It’s fine to disagree with the premise. But to insult anyone who’s liking it? To slam them as trend-fuckers or whatever you want to call them, that’s just not cool.

What’s funny about this is I see some people I’m almost sure were bullied in school and now they’re the ones insulting other people, putting it down, deriding all the users as hip losers who have no soul or depth. (Albeit I’d like it to be a little less white, more diverse, but it’s early days, man.)

My jaw drops at the hypocrisy. It’s so toxic to have those attitudes. Go ahead, don’t like the site. Question its ethos, diss its design, but don’t be such an asshole that you’re painting everyone party to it with the same brush. Ironically, most of the people I know who insult hipsters are the ones who seem to try hardest to be in with the cool kids.

Fact is, I’m beyond tired of the petty fuckery that happens when people dismiss entire groups out of hand.

When I see people saying things like these, behaving like this, I’m not interested in knowing them. Period.

People have realize the things they say about others tend to speak most loudly about themselves.

I try to speak my mind and be blunt but I also try to be fair and not slam entire collectives. This hasn’t always been true. I was once far angrier, more petty, and more judgey. I’m glad I’ve turned the corner on that, for the most part, because it really makes me vomit in my mouth a bit when I want or hear others doing it.

And, yes, I’ve called even my best friends on comments like these at times, which can cause an awkward pause in the evening, but at least I’m being consistent across the board.

Don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t be a bully. Have opinions that don’t require flat-out insulting others.

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A Quick Rant about Quick Travels

Three Norwegian guys are getting a lot of press today for breaking the world record for most countries visited in 24 hours. I railed against this in a tweet and was retweeted by a guy who’s visited all 198 countries by the age of 35, who is one of the three dudes who accomplished this.

So I sat and thought for a minute. Am I annoyed because of jealousy  that they have the opportunity to blow through all these countries? Well, sure, probably a little bit, but I think my angst is on a deeper level than that.

Beyond being able to say they’ve done this, what was really accomplished? Maybe a quick bowl of local food as landscape whizzed past? Like, anything? These guys are what can be called professional travellers — they’re not missing a lot because they’ve done these places, seen them before. But for the most part, a lot of speed travellers can’t say that.

Collecting Airports”

We’re a society that’s in it for the pictures, the proof, the acclaim. “Pics, or it didn’t happen” isn’t just a catchphrase, it’s a lifestyle ethos.

As a passionate hobby photographer, it’s ironic for me to rail against “pics, or it didn’t happen,” but I at least try to be in the place I’m at. I try to absorb what’s around me, look for a better shot. I talk to people, engage. I mean, I just spent 24 hours in a town that’s only 60km away from me and I feel like I didn’t get enough time to see it all, and there’s only 50,000 population.

I think this “record” is just one small example of things I see happening a lot. Fortunately, I see others doing travel really well too, and they inspire me daily.

Photo from Lonely Planet

Photo from Lonely Planet

Different Folks, Different Trips

Travel is still a luxury for most of us. It’d be easy for someone to mock me as some observer who doesn’t have a clue, because I technically haven’t been a traveller for years. Yeah, I’ve been to England on a family trip, and when I owned a car I probably saw more via road trips than most people will see in a lifetime. After all, my vehicles racked up more than 500,000 kilometres before I became a walking/cycling gal. But when I roadtripped, I saw everything from the big, popular places, to really cool weird little places. I’ve been from Mexico to Alaska and halfway across Canada, and everywhere in between, and I still feel like there are so many more roadtrips I could take in just those regions.

But I guess that’s why it riles me up when I see “speed travellers.” People who seem to go to a place, be there, leave. Boom. Done. TAPPED THAT. There’s a Facebook update, so that happened. It’s a wasted chance, it seems.

It’s different when it’s for work and family. Short, whirlwind trips sometimes make sense. I’m talking about the “collecting” of airports and visa stamps, rushing through places so you can say you spent a day at best in some town before rushing to the next. Even that seems almost luxurious against this 19 countries in 24 hours challenge.

Travel is about seeing the world. Being of the world. Seeing cultures, trying foods. It’s about experience, not just brief exposure. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I ever sign up for a “five countries in seven days” vacation. I’d sooner not leave home than have to race for such a short and unrewarding trip I’ll mostly remember taking photos on, not being places.

That said, I don’t want to shit on this young guy who’s seen every country in the world. Would I kill for that experience? I probably would. I just know that I’d have constant regrets about places I didn’t linger. I’d have a new list, “Places I need to go back and see properly.” I’m sure he’ll never regret doing what he’s done, but instead might regret not seizing moments or blowing off the next leg, all because of some predetermined schedule. I’ve been there, too.

Travel: The World As a School

I have no idea what my five years of travel will entail. Travelling is, and should be, a deeply personal journey. That’s part of the beauty of it. There will be a lot of places where I stay long, and others I breeze through. In my travel dreams, I see myself learning local recipes, exploring markets only the locals go to, taking cooking and language classes, making friends who are from the countries, not just expats.

In the end, the important thing is just to travel. It’s critical we all realize just how much more binds us to each other than pushes us apart, how interconnected our environment is, and how much we take for granted. Travel is a crash course in humanity.

Or it can be, if you stand still sometimes, and look behind the curtains in others.

Slow down. Breathe. Life isn’t a race, and those lists of places “to go back to” — well, I’m old enough now to know just ow often we don’t get those do-overs.

 

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Dreams of Flight and Fancy

When I was growing up, I dreamed of going to places like Italy and France. I always thought they were out of my reach, far too expensive.

Before I could become the traveller I wanted to be in my 20s, life interfered with much stupid/tragic/disruptive stuff. Travelling didn’t happen beyond my roadtripping days, where I saw half of Canada and the whole west coast of North America, from Alaska to Mexico.

In hindsight, I understand why I got so dramatically derailed. I can say truthfully now that one’s propensity for having regrets grows exponentially with age. That’s hindsight for you. With wisdom comes the acceptance that there is much we could have done better, learned faster.

Staring down age 41, I have some of that regret, these days.

Surprisingly, not as much as I would have expected, given how unhappy I was, and for how long. As “old” as I feel, I also feel far younger than I would have thought for 40. I have excitement that I can still change things. I also have a sense that everything has kind of gone just as it should.

After all, becoming a world traveller in my 40s will mean I’m old enough to understand and appreciate all the culture around me. I’m wise enough to see what contentment is, and just how little is required to attain it. I’m cynical enough to look behind the curtains and ignore the tourist veneer. I’m confident and defensive enough to stroll off the well-trod path and find the “real” people and places behind the cultures I’m visiting.

I’ve been watching all my friends travel, and none of them have done it in the way I think I will. That’s the beauty of travel. It’s a world of options for a world of people. Literally.

photo

The Great Wandering Act of ’79

When I was soon to be six years old, we were on our first big family trip to Disneyland in ‘79. On a daytrip to Tijuana, I meandered off. I mean, not just a few feet away — I walked the hell off. I was gone for hours. My parents thought I was kidnapped. They waited to file a missing person’s report in the then-corrupt-as-hell-and-lacking-a-PR-department Mexican police station for two hours. My mother had $500 cash stolen from her IN THE POLICE STATION. This was in ‘79, man! Oh, Mexico. That’s a lot of dough.

Meanwhile, me, the absent 5-year-old, I was having a grand old time. I wandered the streets, talked to strangers. I bought a giant bag of candy and made a MILLION little Mexican friends who followed me around as I got them high on free candy.

Then I found my way into a street market and managed to barter with a vendor for a fringed leather cowgirl vest I would cherish for the next two years, followed by a Seiko watch.

I don’t remember how I reconnected with my parents, but I went back with no spending money, a candy-full tummy, a new vest, and a watch.

That afternoon, I learned about how sometimes people stole children and sold the kids to bad people. I never wandered off again. It was pretty fun while it lasted, though.

You Are What You Do

If this premise that our personalities are fully formed by age seven is true, then I guess my little wandering act says a lot about who I should be today.

It’s long overdue that I finally shift gears to be that wandering-act girl again.

When it comes to watching how all my friends are travelling, it’s helping me to decide the sort of traveller I wish to be. I don’t want to be breezing through places with only two to four weeks to see the region (or worse, less). I want to stay put, be a part of the place, become privy to the rhythm of their streets.

I see people shit on others who take trips and only see touristy things, but if I was confined to only a week or two, I would fall victim to the same dull scheme. That’s why I fancy the idea of 5 to 6 months spent per place. As a writer, I love the idea of really getting to know areas.

I’m also not deciding on a plan of attack. I want to see where the flow leads me. We live in an age where you don’t need to speak the language. Photo apps translate foreign-language signs, for crying out loud! Dictionaries and translators will speak for you at the press of a button.

Aside from medical vaccines, money, and visas, there’s no reason why one should be limited where they travel today. It’s an open-door world, thanks to gadgetry.

lone tree hill

Times Have Changed, As They Do

The world I thought was once too expensive to see has become far cheaper than where I now live. If I set the only parameter as being “must be 30% cheaper than where I live today” it seems as if more than half the world is an option for me.

It’s a strange phenomenon to go from a cheap little Canadian city to the most expensive in Canada, and top 100 in the world.

It seems an unrealistic goal, to spend my life travelling for a few years yet live for 30–40% cheaper than I presently do, but according to friends who’ve spent a year or more abroad, it’s not unrealistic at all.

It’s about choices, doing a little research, and being willing to live with less.

When you’re travelling, you don’t need entertainment. Your life is constantly new, entertaining. Stopping, pressing “pause” to spend time writing, or just wandering for photography, will become all-consuming. Writing, photography, they don’t cost money. They just take time.

Time I have too seldom of today. That’s my “pause” for this morning. Dreaming about the next phase. It’s taken some edge off some depressing world news I’d read before breakfast.

But later today I get to be a small-scale traveller as I go visit my brother in a town I’ve never seen before. Something new is always fun, even close to home.

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The End, My Friends

It’s the tale-end of summer. Leaves are on the cusp of turning. Some early-achievers are already gold and red. Days are shortening at an unsettling clip, but the daytimes are beautiful and sunny and fresh.

The tourists have largely fled, and rain looms at the end of the two-week forecast. It’s not just any rain, it’s the likely start of autumn proper. Once it begins, it begins quickly.

I had beers with a friend last week, one who, in the time since I last saw him, has slept in Everest Base Camp, hiked in India, travelled the States, trekked Nepal, swilled beer in Berlin, cycled in Amsterdam, and so very much more. I admire it, long for it, and can’t wait for that day where my adventures are underfoot.

It’s driving home to me just what a contradictory world it is between the lifestyle I want to lead for five years and the life I lead now. It’s almost comical how opposite the two lives are. It was nice to talk to someone who gets what I mean when I’m talking about the weird mindset that comes when you know you’re about a year away from giving up having a home of any kind.

When I look at things today, I’m deciding whether I really need to have that during the next year, or if instead it’s something I can work around. Because that’s where I’m at now. I’m one year away from compartmentalizing what’s life of my life after I sell off everything I can, so buying anything else just seems so foolish.

That’s one year left of a home that feels homey, having everything I need, not having to live out of bags. I’m trying to not just look forward to the life I’ll lead, but I’m trying to be actively present in this experience of being a homeowner for another year — the stresses, the comforts, the laziness, the extra work — everything.

And today is one of those days where I’m enjoying my life on all fronts in the moment, but also doing little things to help smooth the way for that life I see on my horizon.

It’s a tricky thing, living for today while preparing for tomorrow. It’s no wonder so many people do it poorly.

And so, I’ve stopped. I’ve paused. And now it’s back to work, but for other people. A mistress to many masters, the life of the multi-employed freelancer.

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  • About Steff

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