Thursday, February 19, 2015

Intensely Alive

I sort of wish that I could just copy and paste the whole article here, but that feels a bit like cheating. Still, I'm going to post this chunk (rather nearly half, I say), because it is so eloquent and so plainly hits on the way I wish I could feel every day. It's only a shame that it takes facing down death to apparently make people live the way we should be living regardless.

From the article:
"And yet, one line from Hume’s essay strikes me as especially true: “It is difficult,” he wrote, “to be more detached from life than I am at present.”

Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).
I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming.
This is not indifference but detachment — I still care deeply about the Middle East, about global warming, about growing inequality, but these are no longer my business; they belong to the future. I rejoice when I meet gifted young people — even the one who biopsied and diagnosed my metastases. I feel the future is in good hands.

I have been increasingly conscious, for the last 10 years or so, of deaths among my contemporaries. My generation is on the way out, and each death I have felt as an abruption, a tearing away of part of myself. There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate — the genetic and neural fate — of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.
I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.
Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure."
Read the rest here:
Oliver Sack's on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer

As I approach 40, I find myself thinking and talking about death a lot. And, I've also noticed that it makes people uncomfortable when I do. Those who are older than me, especially. My parents and friends who are already in their 40's and 50's. I get a lot of comments to the effect of "you can't be old, since I'm not old." Which -while I understand what they are getting at- I think is sort of dismissive or disingenuous. Like they are willfully misunderstanding my thoughts. I'm not implying that I'm knocking at deaths door. But, instead, I'm using this particular signpost in my life to evaluate where I'm at and give more focus to where I want to go.

I guess, personally, I don't see the disadvantage of acknowledging that I am about halfway through my life; if that acknowledgment helps me live the second half even better.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What is Power?

When I created this blog a couple of years ago, one of the ideas that underpinned it was that it would be a place to post about and look at things that fell outside the day-to-day chronicling of life that took place in my other blog, Strange and Benevolent. But, after a few entries in which I pursued the goal of becoming more capable in the kitchen (something I am, admittedly, still working on), this blog sort of fell out of my mind and went fallow.

Recently, though, as I approach my 40th Birthday, I've found myself more and more interested in sort of big concepts: Politics, Religion, Philosophy. Not in the sort of argumentative sort of discourse that dominates today's news cycles, but instead in the sort of high-minded muses that you find in forums like TED, Pete Holmes' "You Made It Weird" podcast and over late night glasses of wine with friends. So, as sort of a way to record those ideas as they catch my attention and -possibly- as a way to help connect the dots between disparate ideas, I think I will begin posting and linking things here. I'm not sure if there will be any immediate focus, but -instead- I'll just wait and see if this thing sort of forms itself.

So, to start, here is Eric Liu's lesson on "How To Understand Power." It's a pretty succinct and interesting look at what power is, how it's wielded and how you can make it work for you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Virtue Challenge: Roast A Chicken (plus more)

After life forced me to take a quick break from my New Virtue Challenge, I'm back with a vengeance!

The next virtue I wanted to tackle was roasting a whole chicken, but in the end, I managed to knock off at least one other item on the list in the process, and make some steps toward a couple other items on the list. So, let me tell you how things went. Onward!

One of the things that's quickly become apparent about this challenge to myself is that there is actually a fair amount of research involved. While I don't want to make, for example, the perfect roasted chicken, I do want it to be a recipe or style of preparation that seems fairly classic or quintessential. This time out, my research started with my beautiful wife, Sarah. Sarah roasts chickens fairly regularly, and has perfected a quick and easy recipe that gets uniformly excellent results. So, the weekend before I would eventually roast my chicken, I served as her assistant as she walked me through her recipe. Those who know her will agree that Sarah is a natural in the kitchen. If I have any aspirations as a cook, it would be to be able to vaguely emulate the way she effortlessly conducts herself while cooking, and the way she seems to be able to pull together inspired recipes from seemingly thin air.

And, like always, her chicken turned out excellent.


The day I was to cook my chicken, I dug through a couple of Sarah's recipe books. There was a recipe in one of her Bon Appetite magazines that sounded superb (largely because it involved butter, butter and more butter), but it involved letting the bird sit for something like 8 hours. So, in the end, I turned again to Julia Child and used her recipe for Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken from Julia and Jacques' Cooking At Home.

The bird itself was purchased from our neighborhood butcher, Bob's Quality Meats. I feel fortunate that we live in an area where we have access to a number of dedicated butcher shops, bakeries and produce stands. I have nothing against grocery stores in principle, but there is just something more fulfilling about buying your food at stores dedicated to that specific type of food in question. Plus, the prices and quality are invariably superior in my experience. Also, having gone there consistently for the last three years or so, the people who work at Bob's now recognize us, giving it a neighborhood-ly feel I appreciate.

The bird, from Bob's Quality Meats.

First up was prepping the bird for the oven. To do that, I used a mix of Sarah's method and Julia's. In Julia and Jacques' recipe book, they go into a number of more ornate ways of trussing up a chicken. But, I opted to keep things simple, removing it's "nubbins," folding it's wings back, stuffing it with lemon slices and sage, and simply tying it's legs together. Also, after removing the excess fat from near the cavity hole, I slipped the fat up under it's breast skin, something that Sarah does that seems to get good results and help keep the breast moist. Oh, and I covered it with lots of butter, plus some salt and pepper.

Ready to roast!

Then it was into the oven!

Once it was in the oven, there wasn't much more to do beyond set the timer and check in on it occasionally. After 15 minutes, the temperature get's lowered, and they recommend basting, but really it's on autopilot for the next 45 minutes. Which gave me time to slip in a bonus challenge...

New Virtue Challenge: Mix A Standard Vinaigrette

Sarah suggested it might be nice to have a salad or some veggies with the chicken, and we had all the necessary ingredients, so I figured now was as good a time as any to try my hand at making a vinaigrette. In Julia and Jacques book, they actually have two basic dressing recipes. Julia's is a lemon-oil dressing, while Jacques' is a vinegar and oil bases. So, because I figured my first vinaigrette should contain, y'know, vinegar (and because I was already using all the lemons on the chicken), it was Jacques' recipe I went with.

Chopping shallots for the vinaigrette. In the background you also see the carrots and onions that will be roasted in the pan under the chicken for the deglazing sauce (more on that below). Doing this reminds me that I still need to tackle the first item on Anthony's list, "Chop and Onion/Basic Knife Skills." Obviously, I can technically chop an onion. But, not well. And, my knife skills are underwhelming overall... but I have a plan that I hope to execute soon!

Making a vinaigrette is pretty much as simple as it seems. The main key is using vinegar and oil at a roughly 1/4 cup to 1 cup ratio, and beyond that, it's just a matter of adding other ingredients (garlic, salt, pepper, mustard) to taste. I actually went with slightly more vinegar, because I like vinegar... but it wasn't hard to nail down something tasty, quickly.

Vinaigrette Challenge Complete! This definitely falls into the category of easy to learn... but I'm sure I could try a million variations before I could consider myself a master. I'd also like to try to lemon and oil variation at some point.

With my vinaigrette done, it was back to the chicken.

Chicken done roasting! Now to let it sit for a bit.

When the chicken had been in the oven long enough, I tested to see if it was fully cooked with both a thermometer, and by noting the color of the juices coming out of it. While the chicken rested, I got going on the deglazing sauce. Using the dripping from the chicken, some carrots and onions that had been roasting under the chicken, as well as some shallots, marsala wine, chicken stock and butter; I cooked all the ingredients down in the roasting pan, and then poured it through a strainer to make a smooth sauce to pour over the chicken. This ended up being the surprise hit of everything I did.

Boiling down the deglazing sauce.

After making the deglazing sauce, it was time to carve the bird. I didn't even know where to start, so Sarah carved one half while I watched, and then she stepped back to let me butcher (literally and figuratively) the other half. It wasn't pretty, but I got the job done.

And, how did everything turn out? Take a look!

Also, earlier, I stumbled across this, on the side of a Whole Foods bag. A guide to locale seasonal fruits and vegetables. I still haven't fully figured out how to tackle the "Shop for Fruits and Vegetables and Know What is in Season" item on the list. But, I think that this could prove helpful when I do.

Now, like with my omelet challenge, I don't think that roasting one chicken makes me an expert by any regards. But, I do feel like I have a handle on the fundamentals, and wouldn't hesitate to roast another. And, as a bit of a follow up, the "Omelet Sundays" I institute after my omelet challenge have continued to occur with a semi-regular frequency, so the number of omelet I've flipped now numbers in the dozens. I move slowly closer and closer to omelet mastery.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The New Virtue Challenge: Omelets

In the brief chapter of Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw, "Virtue," where he lays out the foods that he believes every person should know how to cook or prepare, the item that he spends the most time on is omelets. In the two paragraphs (hey, I did say the chapter was brief) that he talks about the preparation of omelets, it is in an almost devotional manner; going so far as to propose that maybe learning the art of omelet-making should be linked with the loss of one's virginity.

With that in mind, it seems fitting that, while "Make an Omelet" is the second item on the list, it should be the first item that I tackle.

(As a quick aside, I have to wonder: What's up with the two spellings of "omelet." Omelet or omelette? I'm presuming it's an American English versus British English thing. Omelette looks nicer, and seems to be closer to the old French origin word of "amlette," but I'm going with "Omelet" in deference to Anthony.)

First off, I should probably mention that I'm not the World's biggest fan of eggs. If I do order them or have them for breakfast, I generally prefer them buried in sausage, peppers and potatoes. At their best, I've seen them as simply a way of conveying admirable amounts of Tabasco sauce to my mouth. So, I think this goes a long way to helping defend why I've never bothered to learn to cook an omelet; and why in those few, rarefied attempts I've made at cooking eggs, they've generally ended up being reduced to yellow cement caked to my frying pan.

None the less, onward!

So, in preparation for omelet, er, preparation, I began to do some research online. After reading a couple of simple recipes on various websites, and flipping through one or two of Sarah's cook books; I noticed that Sarah herself was giving me hints on what recipe I should follow. Or, more specifically, she queued up this video on her iPad, sat it in front of me, and pressed "Play":

Now, I've known of Julia Child for some time now. I've seen Dan Ackroyd's famous SNL skit and seen the movie Julie and Julia (whose blog my humble challenge lives in the shadow of, I suppose), but haven't ever really sat down and watched any of Julia's actual French Chef cooking shows. And, you know what? I've missed out. They're awesome. Both in terms of her raw cooking skills, their approach to cooking and in some of the inadvertent, low-budget, dated moments. In fact, go and watch the above video now. It's only 28 minutes and you owe it to yourself. I'll wait....

...Done? Good.

Anyhow, after watching that video, it was pretty obvious that I should follow Julia's method for a couple reasons:

1) It's simple: With the exception of one or two points, it's really something the humblest cook (read: me) should be able to manage.
2) It's fast: As she herself says numerous times: Only 20 seconds.
3) It's simple (Part 2): We aren't talking about some overly complex, super-omelet with a list of ingredients as long as my arm. Just eggs, butter, some salt and pepper and maybe a garnish or two. Keep it simple, Tyler.

So, last Sunday morning, armed with my new found knowledge, I awoke early, made my way to the kitchen and took a stab at omelet-making. Let's see how it went, shall we?

Eggs! Cracked and whisked.

Waiting for the butter to melt. But, being careful to not let it burn. (Something that happened on omelet #2. I had to wipe out the butter and start over.)

In go the first two eggs.

Gently stirring the eggs while they began to heat up.

Shaking the frying pan as the eggs as the begin to set. In theory, this is supposed to sort of roll the omelet into it's familiar shape, but was probably the most difficult part. I think I'll choose to blame the pan, instead of my skills. Yeah, that's what I'll do.

And finally flipping it onto the plate. Again, a little tricky, but more forgiving since you can straighten things out a bit on the plate afterward.

First omelet ever! I have officially made an omelet.

To the victor... or in this case the victor's daughter... go the spoils.

I ended up making four omelets that morning, and learned a bit from each. The later two came out a bit tough, most likely because -by that point- my pan was a lot hotter, and I should have left the eggs in a shorter amount of time. The "art" of omelet making, I suppose. Plus, these were admittedly, pretty basic. As I said, Eggs, butter, a little salt and pepper (and maybe a dash of Tabasco); so it's definitely still Kiddy Pool territory.

Which begs the question: Does this mean that I'm an omelet "Expert" now? No, of course not. But, I do think that, if asked, I could grab a couple of eggs and make something that could be fairly referred to as an omelet. Plus, I've decided that even as I push on to other items on the list, I'll keep practicing my omelet skills. And, have instituted "Omelet Sundays" to help force me to refine my abilities.

Next Sunday, I will try my hand at a filled omelet.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The New Virtue Challenge

Let's start this off by saying one thing: I'm not the best cook.

Sure, if given a decent recipe, detailed ingredients list and half a day, I can generally muddle through it and make something vaguely presentable, or even tasty; but I'm far from comfortable in the kitchen. This has always been something that's bothered me a bit. Furthermore, as I've grown older, and -largely thanks to my wife- cultivated a better appreciation for good food; it's something that bothers me more and more. But, whenever I consider the idea of actually improving my culinary skills, I sort of hit a brick wall.

How? Where do I start? A cooking class? Just continue to muddle through recipes on my own? I'm not sure. I do know that, in general, when it comes to learning something new, I'm the sort of person who does better when I've got some sort of structure. Which, brings me to my first self-imposed challenge on this blog: The New Virtue Challenge.

"The 'New Virtue Challenge?'" You ask, "What is that supposed to mean?"

Well, let me explain. Or, rather, let Anthony Bourdain explain. Recently, I've been reading his latest book, Medium Raw. In the sixth chapter, "Virtue," Anthony addresses the fact that... well... let me just quote what he has to say, as only Mr. Bourdain can:

...But, I do think the idea that basic cooking skills are a virtue, that the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every man and woman as a fundamental skill, should become as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one's own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.

Back in the dark ages, young women and girls were automatically segregated off to home-economics classes, where they were indoctrinated with the belief that cooking was one of the essential skill sets for responsible citizenry—or, more to the point, useful housewifery. When they began asking the obvious question—"Why me and not him?"—it signaled the beginning of the end of any institutionalized teaching of cooking skills. Women rejected the idea that they should be designated, simply by virtue of their gender, to perform what would be called, in a professional situation, service jobs, and rightly refused to submit. "Home ed" became the most glaring illustration of everything wrong with the gender politics of the time. Quickly identified as an instrument of subjugation, it become an instant anachronism. Knowing how to cook, or visibly enjoying it, became an embarrassment for an enlightened young woman, a reminder of prior servitude.

Males were hardly leaping to pick up the slack, as cooking had been so wrong-headedly portrayed as "for girls"—or, equally as bad, "for queers."

What this meant, though, is that by the end of the '60s, nobody was cooking. And soon, as Gordon Ramsay has pointed out rather less delicately a while back, no one even remembered how.

Maybe we missed an important moment in history there. When we finally closed down Home Ec, maybe we missed an opportunity. Instead of shutting down compulsory cooking classes for young women, maybe we would have been far better off simply demanding that the men learn how to cook, too.

It's not too late.

Just as horsemanship, archery, and a facility with language were once considered essential "manly" arts, to be learned by any aspiring gentleman, so, perhaps, should be cooking.


Let us then codify the essentials of this new virtue:

(Final emphasis mine... to explain the challenge's name, obviously.)

What follows this introductory text is Mr. Bourdain's colorful description of what he thinks the basic cooking skills are. Or, rather, should be. I'm not going to quote all of them fully, because it's really the meat and potatoes* of the chapter and I've already transcribed enough of the book here; but here's the boiled down* list, as I read it:

• Chop and onion/basic knife skills.
• Make an omelet.
• Roast a chicken.
• Grill and rest a steak.
• Cook vegetables.
• Mix a standard vinaigrette.
• Shop for produce and know what is in season.
• Clean and filet a fish.
• Steam a lobster, crab, mussels or clams.
• Roast meat, without a thermometer.
• Roast and mash potatoes.
• Steam rice, and make rice pilaf.
• The fundamentals of braising, starting with beef bourguignon.
• Make stock with bones, plus a few simple soups.
• Know a few simple dishes that form the cornerstone of your own cooking repertoire.

And, this... this is my first challenge to myself. Of the items on this list, there is only one thing that I feel like I can say I'm able to do with any degree of confidence (Hint: It's not chop an onion!). So, I'm going to teach myself how to do them all.

I'm going to tackle each item on the list in turn (though maybe not entirely in order), and like Sarah and I did with our Round the World travels on Strange and Benevolent, I'll record the entire process here. Why do it here? Why do it online? Well, because if blogs weren't made to detail and record random, self-inflicted challenges, then I'm not sure what they were created for. Plus, with any luck, it will keep me focused and honest about the whole thing.

It probably goes without saying that I'm doing this without the permission of Mr. Bourdain. Hopefully, if he knew about it, he would approve, in so much as I'm taking his suggestions to heart. At worst, he'd mock it. And mock it well. I have a good deal of respect for Bourdain, and appreciate his heady mixture of travel and food enthusiasm. (And, increasingly, I appreciate his views on being a father and growing old with a degree of grace. Though I'm sure he'd mock me for saying that too.) Still, to make up for the fact that this whole thing is riding on his coattails, I've put a little Amazon link to the right there, so people can buy his book and assuage my guilt.

OK. I'll leave things at that for now. In the coming weeks, as I hopefully begin to tackle these challenges, I'll begin to unpack them more. What qualifies as "basic knife skills?" How many soups is "a few?" How will I even know when I've mastered shopping for produce? Is there a timeline for this whole thing? How is someone who is notoriously skeptical of seafood supposed to tackle a couple items on that list? I don't know. I'm working these all out as I go.

Needless to say, there will definitely be an element of research to most of these. And, an element of
exploration. Sounds like the perfect place to start this blog to me.

*"Meat and potatoes"? "Boiled down"? I promised the food puns were unintentional.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What is the Explorer in Residence?

So, what exactly is this blog? What is the Explorer in Residence?

Well, short answer: I'm not 100% sure myself.

Long answer: This blog is still sort of a work in progress. An idea that's been bubbling in the background of my mind for some time now, and which I've finally decided to sit down, examine and figure out what it is. First, some history...

Back in 2007, my wife and I took a trip around the world. Over approximately 7 months, we visited 17 countries. Some briefly, some for a month or more. The exact figures aren't important, and if you are curious to read more about it, my wife and I detail our adventures extensively on my other blog, Strange and Benevolent. It was a singular and life-changing experience, and one that I took a lot away from. But, in particular, there were a couple of loose concepts that will hopefully for the backbone of this thing.

#1 The Value of Looking at Things as an Traveler:
Travel makes you mindful. When at home, going about your day to day routine, it's easy to sort of ignore or disregard the "normal" things going on around you, the places you see every day, the people you interact with on a daily basis, the rituals and the experiences of normality. But, when you are traveling, and there is a sense of "newness" to everything, you take time to notice the little things. The differences and novelty of the experience make you more mindful of your location, situation and the experience.

There's two side effect to this. First, experiencing something new is a thrill. And, being a thrill, you tend to regard it as an adventure, instead of a routine or a hassle... even if it would be otherwise frustrating. If you have a tedious commute every day in your normal life, you tend to resent it. It's something you just try to get through. And, as soon as it's over, you do your best forget it. But, if you are stuck on a rickety night-bus from McCloud Ganj to Delhi, even if you are tired and overwhelmed, it will be an experience you'll look back on as an adventure, and maybe with a chuckle.

Which brings me to the second side-effect: Since, when traveling, you are constantly mindful of what is going on around you; and since, when at home, you are always trying to "get through the day," both have a strange effect on your memory and how you experience time. There are vast swaths of my life that I can barely remember a detail or two. They were largely routine, and without note-worthy events, and most of those countless, anonymous days have been boxed up and stored away in some distant backwater corner of my mind, like the Ark at the end of Raiders. And, that's a little sad.

By comparison, while details have become fuzzy in the five or so years since we got back from our trip, I can remember at least some details from every single day of those 7 months. Sights. Smells. Sounds. Something about the act of being mindful and the novel nature of what I was experiencing on a nearly daily basis helped keep those memories from being condensed and packed away, never to be seen again. So, in a way, those 7 months probably sit in my mind the way 7 years of day-to-day life would. They loom large.

So, returning home, I couldn't help but think: What would happen if I could treat every day like a day I was traveling? Would it be possible to be mindful and look at the people, places and experiences of my "normal" life with the same novelty and thrill that I looked at the people, places and experiences I had while traveling?

To be honest, I sort of dropped the ball. I did make some stabs at it, most notably my Commuter Cam Project, where I took a camera with my on my walk to work, took pictures and then documented the journey. You can see my attempts here and here. I actually really enjoyed the experience (and was excited when other people took up the challenge). But, in general, too often, I've allowed myself to be sucked back into that zombie grind that seems to dominate the average week.

#2 I Can Be A Better Person

First off, let me just say that I don't think I'm a bad person by any regard. In fact, I'm pretty darned pleased with myself, and my life, overall. That said, when traveling, I found that I'd often get peeks of another me. A me that didn't have 30-odd years of baggage, self-imposed expectation, etc. When traveling, I wrote (well, blogged) prodigiously, read daily, wasn't ashamed to break out a book or sketchbook in a public place. Gave myself license to think about big concepts... history, politics, religion, philosophy, my place in the world. Introduce myself to strangers and make new friends. I picked up new skills (Tibetan cooking, driving on the left side of the road, ostrich riding) and problem solved in ways I'd previously thought unimaginable. In short, I challenged myself.

Sadly, when I got back home, and got back to working, a lot of that feel by the wayside again. I fell back into my old routines and ways of doing things. So, in a way, this blog is an attempt to rectify that.

I want to challenge myself again in those ways. Learn new skills. Push myself artistically. Think big and figure out not only "what do I believe?" But, also, "why do I believe it?" And, this blog is going to be the place for me to do it. This won't be a place for my to go on diatribes about what I think the world should be like, but it will be hopefully a place for me to parse out what I believe to be true, and why I think it. And, most importantly, it will be a place for me to challenge myself.

So, to return to my opening lines: While I have a feeling about the general direction of this blog, I'm still not 100% sure what form it will take. I have a feeling it will probably involve just sort of feeling my way along intuitively. Posting things that feel applicable, labeling and tagging those posts, and seeing what ideas and themes will emerge. What bubbles to the top. I also want to use this as a place to form challenges to myself (and to anyone else who cares to join me in them). In fact, I've got my first self-imposed challenge already on deck... but that will wait until my next post.

So, what does the name "Explorer in Residence" mean, anyhow?

Well, to be honest, you'll have to ask National Geographic. I "borrowed" the title from them. This is what it say on their website, about their Explorer in Residence program:

The Explorers-in-Residence Program was created to enhance National Geographic's long-standing relationship with some of the world's best explorers and scientists. With the support of the National Geographic Society, explorers-in-residence develop programs and carry out fieldwork in their respective areas of study. Our explorers' groundbreaking discoveries fuel the kind of critical information, conservation initiatives, and compelling stories that are the trademark of the National Geographic Society.

I first came across the title "Explorer in Residence" while watching this video on TED (watching TED videos is a minor an obsession of mine) by Wade Davis:

It's a pretty amazing talk, but what struck me first off was the fact that a person could have the title "Explorer in Residence," and that -short of being a knighted "Sir"- it was probably the coolest title you could call yourself by. I wanted that title. But, since my credentials don't measure up to Mr. Davis' quite yet, it would be unlikely that National Geographic would be bestowing the title on me any time soon.

Then I realized: I own my own business. And, as the business owner, I need a title. So, I was no longer just "Designer and Illustrator," my official title was "Designer, Illustrator and Explorer in Residence." Problem solved.

Plus, I just sort of like the pun of the whole thing, when applied to this blog. My goal, such as it is, is to be an explorer. An explorer of my city, my life, my world. But, at the same time I'm also leaving a very, shall we say, residential life. I'm a married, homeowner with two small children.

I am, truly, an explorer in residence.