Rants & Roadkill

BITN: Apple Crush Flops; Voice Notes Soothe; Credit Goes Crazy

Posted on: Thursday, June 6th, 2024
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Spendology, Unplugging, BITN, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment


This post features some thunderous rants. But know that there’s usually a rainbow—or two—at the end of the storm.

  • Apple iPad ad blows it

UNPLUGGING. That’s where it’s at…I write from my MacBook Pro while my iPhone buzzes beside me. But seriously, playing piano, reading a book on a hammock, creating art with your hands—these things are the REAL BreakAways that calm the nerves and soothe souls. Apple should embrace this.

Most folks have a love/hate relationship with Apple. But the loathing side hit a fresh low with the recent release of the iPad Pro TV ad. Just watch it. A hydraulic (that must represent iPad) crushes all kinds of creative and playful items: TV, camera, paint, games, guitar, record player, books… BOOKS!

The obvious message is if you buy a new iPad pro, you don’t need those things any more. In fact, let’s just destroy them. Pundits, professors, and celebrities have, well, crushed the ad. More attention for A? Yes. But, man, what a BAD look!

Sure, Apple makes creative tools, and owns that niche. But can you have too many toys and tools? Can Apple replace paint? Not to mention—retro is (as always) COOL! Smash record players and 35mm cameras at your own risk, cuz kids these days LOVE that stuff. They’re hotter than hula hoops—and probably the iPad, which represents only 6% of Apple’s sales.

6%! On a 1-100 scale, Professor Kirk would, charitably, give this ad about a 6. That = Failure.

  • Voice messages gains popularity as option to text (burnout)

In another bite from the Apple tree, in 2014 Apple added the voice message as part of the text message menu. It didn’t catch on fast, but now gets increasingly more usage—and has become included in most SM and messaging platforms—according to a recent WashPost story by Tatum Hunter.

SOUNDS good to me. Texting, while initially cool and efficient, has become (for these eyes) a burden. An ever-growing responsibility that one simply cannot unplug. At least for long.

Some say the podcast revolution helped us remember we DO like the sound of human voices and harbor some attention span. And some of us remember when a (real) phone ringing—and the conversation with the person on the other line—was exciting, even sacred, sometimes scary.

The voice message can serve as an in-betweenie to the text and the phone call—which, for some, has become verboten and invasive. Travel much? Hope so—and that you TALK to strangers wherever you go. Heck, talk to strangers at the corner bar or supermarket!

And by all means, talk to your screen ‘friends,’ including via the voice message tool. You’ll enjoy the nuance, the deeper info, and the REALness that misspelled words and emojis usually fail to convey.

  • Credit card debt reaches “severe” level

Debt is going through the roof. Too bad, because roofs are getting terribly expensive. Credit card debt has jumped to $1.12 trillion from ‘just’ $1 trillion only a year ago. Younger people are harder hit. And higher interest rates don’t help. OPINIONATED QUESTION: Why are credit card companies allowed to charge 18-28 percent interest? OPINION: That’s Mob-like extortion.


Meanwhile, banks make big bucks. Folks go broke. Wall Street loves it. And the rich get richer, while the rest of us keep handing them bags of money. Cards make up only ~6.5% of consumer debt, but hit struggling people the hardest. Some say it’s a bubble, ready to burst. And you know who ends up paying for the mess when they explode? Probably not the CEO of Chase.

TIP: Shop carefully for your card(s). TRY to pay your balance in full every month. Focus on saving not shopping! And teach your children to practice the same fiscal fitness.

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SM: New College Major and Major Classroom Headache

Posted on: Wednesday, April 24th, 2024
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Unplugging, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Yep, traditional higher-ed institutions will soon be graduating students with degrees in social media. It’s a million times more relevant than Shakespeare, so how could they not?

Within the last week or so, social media has become a headline in so many ways that social media itself can barely keep up.

In Minnesota, the U of M has announced plans to create a social media minor, and already has some classes; St. Thomas (across the river) has had a digital media arts major for some time. Meanwhile, the MN legislature appears close to some sort of ban on cellphones in the classroom (though school districts would create their own policy). And in faraway Washington DC, new legislation to ban TikTok in the USA just sped through Congress.

  • Phones are ruining us

The BreakAway board has, for years (decades?) railed against c-phone/tech addiction, and the ways they have ruined communication, civility, and sanity. These issues have now become so omnipresent that, well, we rarely comment or preach the gospel of Unplugging of late. So while it’s terrific to see the world sorta catching on, let us be the first to say: TOO LATE!

  • Try teaching to plugged-in students

Having taught at two art colleges—during the years that phones and nonstop tech were gradually gaining ground and taking over brains—I can tell you this: It’s not easy. Policies rarely worked, and students were so clever they could practically text with their toes. As a guest speaker in other classes, I’d wander and see most of the students were NOT taking notes on their computers; they were shopping Amazon or perusing the latest posts from Nikki Minaj.

Yet, my writing class incorporated social media writing. (I called the course ‘Contemporary Marketing Writing,’ though the official title was an inherited, tired tangle of verbiage.) The challenge persisted always: Professor Kirk insisted the students write with traditional grammar and punctuation, if only cuz this is college, even though SM rarely bothers with such. At some point, I had to give up! And in truth, my approach was probably dated, if appropriate. #whatevs

  • Will TikTok go away?

In a word, NO. The owners (who are Chinese) can fight the ban in courts. For years. Should it go away? Yes. China is accessing our data, spying on our people, and successfully spreading bogus information to harm our country. This culture critic tires of conspiracy theories. But this is no theory. Even the dunderheads in DC have finally figured that out.

Anyway, polls of kids confirm that if TikTok goes away (which would be toats Debby Downer), they’d just shift to other platforms. And other platforms would probably get better at mimicking TikTok.

  • Ancient Chinese secret

People often quote the ancient allegedly Chinese proverb: ‘May you live in interesting times.’ Well, we do. So interesting that 49% of 15-17 year-olds have experienced cyberbullying within the last year (Pew). So fascinating that excellent teaches are quitting because they can’t compete with phones. So intriguing that our state and national governments are trying to control the chaos through a myriad of laws that will have little or no policing or power.

There’s so much more to say, and maybe we will, someday. But just now, we just wanna ditch this tedious writing nonsense and check our latest Facebook feeds.

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Where There’s Smoke

Posted on: Friday, June 16th, 2023
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Lovely murky sunset over Lake Okoboji, courtesy of Canada and their wildfires.

Are we living in the end times? Hell, yeah. I thought that those of us of a certain age would take a spaceship to Heaven before all that. But any more, it’s hard to find any good news about planet destruction slowing down. It’s too damn bad. Cuz this place was Eden, and bazillions of innocent species do not deserve to be wiped out. Humans do, though; we’re the intelligent ones. And look what we’ve done with all them smarts.

My personal thanks to those who still think global warming (a better label than ‘climate change’) is a hoax. And to the cultures who don’t give a hoot about overpopulation. But let’s minimize the anger, enjoy the pretty sunsets that vital getaways provide, and drink a toast to, well, Planet Toast. While we still can.


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8 BILLION? Travel While You Still Can…

Posted on: Thursday, December 15th, 2022
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Sabbatical Shuffle | One comment

Dark daze ahead? Probably. So take that trip sooner than later.

Many times, when someone returns from vakay or BreakAway, I’ve asked the cliché question, “So what was the best part about __________?” Usually, the answer is, “The people!”

That’s great. And it means that you did more than sightsee, museum-hop, and imbibe. It also suggests that, with any luck, people every are awesome. I mean, friends have even offered that answer after visiting some countries that we Americans tend to fear and loathe.

  • People rock…but does Planet Earth want 8B?

Yet, how often have you travelled somewhere that you know—and maybe have been able to visit all your life—only to experience shock at how crowded the place has become? The development, the cars, the lines, the destruction of nature. I honestly can’t think of anywhere I know well (and like) that has escaped this unfortunate fate.

So sometimes I don’t want to go those places as much. And when possible, I schedule carefully to avoid crowds and chaos.

The planet groans every time it registers another birth.

~ Paul Simon, Born at the Right Time

One wants to avoid being nostalgic. What’s the future in that!?! So my conclusion is: GO. Now. Take the kids, the SO, your friends. Make the best of it and find your quiet spaces. Oh yeah, I’d like to start a movement called STOP THE BUILDING. But since that rarely works, see that dream destination before the water is polluted, the cottage is a condo high-rise, and the people are packed in like smelly sardines.

The world population was ~ 3B when I was born. And at the time, ZPG (Zero Population Growth) had traction, especially among Tree Huggers. We’ve almost tripled. The trees are falling.

But if you are kind and curious, people everywhere will still hug you. And will still be the best part of your journey.

Keep the faith.

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TM Has Become THE BreakAway Buzzkill

Posted on: Tuesday, December 6th, 2022
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Sabbatical Shuffle | Leave a comment

Want to be one of these euphoric fans? You need to master Ticketmaster. Good luck with that…

Ever wonder why rock stars suddenly smash a perfectly good guitar? It’s because they failed to get tickets to a show they really wanted to see because of Ticketmaster. They’re not alone. I see a LOT of live shows. And also have too many smashed guitars.

Taylor Swift is coming to town, and it’s the hottest ticket in, like, forever, dude. Lucky for me, I didn’t even TRY to get a ticket, though I would like to be there. Just thinking about trying to score nearly provokes an anxiety attack. How can they be so inept? So inconsiderate? So blatantly carefree about how much everybody hates them?

Yep, they’re even getting sued by fed-up fans. Standing O for that!

As written up countless time in this here blog, live music is about the best BreakAway around that doesn’t require a suitcase. Heck, it’s PROVEN by SCIENCE to be even better than yoga!

Since the beginning of dirt, it remains one of the most exciting, sacred, and coveted BreakAway experiences around for millions…billions?…of people. Few rituals can take you so far away from whatever ails you, bond you with an instant tribe of like-listening besties, and (usually) take you back home to reality in a matter of hours.

Whoever is responsible for passing out those communion wafers better respect the cosmic power they hold. And the easy money they can make by simply not f*cking up too bad. TM fails at all of it. ALL of it! (Except for the making money part. In$ane amounts, increased exponentially since TM and Live Nation inexplicably were allowed to merge in 2010.)

Can you say (and lose at) MONOPOLY?

How bad is it? A Rolling Stone expose on the concert industry (TM) found that only ~25% of the tickets sold directly even get into the average Joe/Jane’s hands. The rest? Brokers, bots, crooks, reselling platforms… And oh, by the way, guess who owns and runs one of the biggest of those? TM.

So…TM is going to sell you tickets, complete with all sorts of huckster-ish presales, secret codes, $$$$ credit card front-of-line perks—things that sucker fans into thinking they have a fair and real shot to get good seats at a fair price. But that rarely happens any more. When it does, call it dumb luck. And enjoy the show. Cuz next time? Who knows?

(Let’s not even mention their fees. We’d run out of swear words immediately.)

And yet, long before official sellout—and sometimes before tix even go on sale—jump online, and there are thousands of seats for sale. Many of them by TM or some subsidiary (or some exec’s nephew). For insane prices. It ain’t right.

It’s not the first time we gullible, innocent consumers have been snookered big-time. But it’s one of the worst. And no one is doing anything about it. Oh sure, a few senators face the camera (not the music) and say, “We really oughta fix this!” Then they go back to fund-raising, or free lunch, or whatever they’re (not) doing.

{CONFESSION: I once saw a US senator come in late to a big, sold-out show. With a posse of about 20 people. Take primo seats. And look so-o-o-o bored and out of place. They left early…and were followed out by thousands of livid, glaring faces. I’m still grossed out.}

Meantime, as fans with a credit card, we keep fighting for a seat, screaming into the abyss, and then maybe somehow showing up at the show to have a blast anyway. Because (in my case in recent years) we’ll do almost anything to see McCartney, Madonna, Simon, Springsteen…once more or maybe for the first and only time. After all, they are the musical gods that have provided the soundtrack to our lives.

{Insert commercial: PLEASE generously support your local artists and venues. I mean, I saw a GREAT show in a dive bar for…FREE…last week. Everyone was happy, including the performers. Their pay? Whatever we threw into the empty pitcher that got passed around.}

Something—everything!—is wrong this pitcher. I mean picture. I’m glad I don’t have a daughter with her heart set on seeing Taylor. But my heart goes out to the millions of parents in that position. Your kid may fault you. But TM is to blame. We deserve better.

This concludes today’s rant. Stay tuned for the encores.

Rock on and thanks for listening…

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Travel Fights Hate Better than lululemon

Posted on: Monday, October 24th, 2022
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

“Welcome…We expect you to…We will not tolerate…”

Today’s post dips into many of the topics we’ve been wading in of late: Advertising, wordsmithing, photographic messages, escapism, cultural chaos, and of course, travel. Please dive in and discuss amongst yourselves.

  • When life gives you lulu…

When I found myself escaping to the mall yesterday, I found myself taken aback by this sign at the entrance of lulu’s boutique of lemons. On the one hand, high 5s for the aggressive, stern stance. On the other hand, really? I mean, I’ve received unprovoked stinkeye for walking into rooms hosting folks from rednecks to blue bloods. But a trendy yoga gear store?

I felt guilty, though un-charged.

  • Words matter

After kicking it around for a while, the BreakAway Woke Committee flashed the yellow card at Ms. Lemon. Lulu’s marketeers likely loved our mild warning; it was yellow, after all.

We take our writing, if little else, seriously here at BreakAway. And delicate nuances that always deserve extra consideration are tone and voice. Does lulu’s verbiage feel inviting? Inclusive? Encouraging and moving? Statements of aspiration or mission can be great, and should strive to guide and inspire. You want to get such things right.

Does this feel right? Maybe to their customers, which skew white and middle/upper class (though I doubt it). That’s not me, not exactly. And the only thing I ever bought at LLL was a discounted (but still $$$) backpack. The zipper immediately broke—with no returns on sale merch. So maybe I’m still sour…lemons.

But still, let’s strive, dear readers and travelers, to preach our messages and change the world with graciousness, welcomeness, and positive voices.

As George Clinton (the King of Funk) says (and he knows way more than the lemon crew about shaking your booty), “Free your mind…and your ass will follow.”

  • Moral of the story 

I asked myself about two favorite, oh-so different, places I love to escape to: The Caribbean and Italy. I pondered: Would you see such a sign there? Highly unlikely. Do they have issues about race, class, and tolerance? Yes. Is saying “We expect you” and “We do not tolerate” a great way to start the conversation about (to quote Rodney King)…”CAN’T WE ALL GET ALONG?

When you travel, you have no choice but to get along…to open your mind to new people, new viewpoints, new ways of living. And they open their doors to you: In my experience, most (if not all) destinations proudly accept you. And tolerate you. And welcome you warmly…with curious and generous hearts. I’ll say it:

People who travel a lot, assuming they get out and experience things, grow more open minds. And hearts. Thanks to their hosts. (What kind of a host is lululemon?)

Journey pilgrims are also always dreaming and scheming their next big (or small) Breakaway. They want their hearts to grow three sizes more, like the Grinch.

They go home grateful, spiritually moved, and more hopeful for humanity. That can be a rare feeling these days. lululemon must agree, or they might not post such a sharp but blunt “welcome” sign.

  • Go with good intent

Having said all THAT, may their sign somehow be making the world a better place. I think that’s their objective. Insert 🙌 (raised hands in celebration) here.

“Love is the answer.” ~Todd Rundgren (rock star)

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” ~Jesus (Jesus Christ, Superstar)

Keep the faith. (breakawayguy)

My boy learning about fishing from lovely Caribbean locals with love in their hearts…

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ReWorking: Worker Burnout Becoming Big Worry

Posted on: Monday, September 19th, 2022
Posted in: HR FYI, Rants & Roadkill, Work/Life Hacking | Leave a comment

To quote Lady Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

If you google ‘worker burnout,’ prepare to feel the burn. It’s getting almost as much press as a certain recently-deceased queen, may she rest in peace. Methinks the Queen enjoyed such a long, revered reign precisely because she somehow avoided burnout.

If she can do it, maybe we can too.

A July 4 (freedom…ironic, no?) article digs into this hot topic and spins a lot of research numbers, including that 60% report often feeling a lack of interest, motivation, and energy while at work. In a way, such info feels like nothing new. However, the severity of the problem has no doubt lead to what we now call The Quiet Quit, or presenteeism, which is when people ‘go to work’ but do as little as possible. Or…nothing. (A future ReWorking topic—once we get over our case of presenteeism!)

One might call The Quiet Quit a terminal illness. Haven’t we all reached a point in some failing job where we don’t have the courage (or assets) to quit, yet might be relieved to be…terminated?

Can you say…severance package?

Once burnout takes hold, you’re out of gas, and you’ve given up all hope of surmounting your obstacles.

  • The 7 habits of fighting burnout

No, it’s not a book. Yet. But Forbes talks to Workhuman to gather these strategies to recover from burnout: Rest; improve your some self-care; take micro breaks at work (5-10 minutes); set work/life boundaries (and stick to them); meditate, including at work, if only for 5 minutes; have a place to vent (a friend, coworker, or certified vent-oligist); get professional support.

Yes, that last one means counseling. Which may be available at work (and may feel risky), through your healthcare, or any number of resources. That’s great, although it must be noted that the supply-chain crisis seems to have hit that world, also. And finding the right therapist for your issues can present challenges. Still, it’s worth a try. Just be…patient.

  • WHO validates the trend

The World Health Organization now includes burnout as a medical diagnosis, and an official International Disease. That’s heavy. But heavier yet is the sense that such a systemic dilemma flies above the purview and bandwidth of most employers, workspaces, and environments.

I mean, where and how do we begin to solve this epidemic that has been festering for decades, is an uninvited but inevitable dividend of the profit motive, and has been exacerbated by such enormous challenges as Covid, inadequate childcare, workspace scrambling, and entrenched cultural norms?

Nobody knows. But it’s refreshing to see attention and resources sounding loud alarms. Even if what we really need is more BreakAways, more balance, and more peace.

God save Lady Liberty. And the Queen.

May we all rest in peace.

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MktgMndy: Martha’s Mag Death Signals Reading’s Demise

Posted on: Monday, August 29th, 2022
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Magazines, once thriving lifestyle and status tools, are now headed toward extinction.

Welcome to Marketing Monday (MM), our periodic dive into all things design, branding, advertising, wily wordsmithing, and more. Your site host (one Kirk Peter Horsted) once taught and still works in these fertile fields, and just can’t keep his keyboard shut any longer. Please enjoy, ponder, and feel free to disagree!

We become what we behold. We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.

~ Marshall McLuhan

  • Where have you gone, Mrs. Tastefulness?

Martha Stewart Living got killed off last spring. Along with 7 other magazines published by Des Moines-based Dotdash Merideth (including EW, Health, and Parents—what will people page through in doctors’ waiting rooms?).

The rationale for shuttering these iconic brands is, as usual, peppered with bloviated boasts of upping the game toward new! improved! websites. That’s the future, which clearly ain’t what it used to be. Picture short, bad-grammar tidbits targeted to frenetic web searches. With lame stock photos. Surrounded by obnoxious ads and contrived verbiage punched out by underpaid blurb-slaves.

Meanwhile, many excellent, experienced, educated writers in NYC and beyond just became unemployed. We wish them well on their unscheduled Sabbatical.

Who needs real writers anymore? Who reads? What does these mag closings signify, anyway? Please read on…

  • What this means: 1. Perusing publications no longer pleases an impatient public

Remember lounging on your bed (on the beach or patio) with a fave mag? The reverie from reading and scheming offered a short mental vacation, rather like a Calgon “take me away” bath. Pages got ripped out for future ref. Dreams and ideas took root; maybe that’s why you painted a nightstand, purchased an album, or vacationed in Venice. Above all, the bright pics and shiny pages were…palpable.

Now, we stare at tiny phone screens with blank, fried eyes. Clearly, we prefer a smaller, and (dare I say) more manipulative presentation of ever-fleeting information. Glance, click, swipe, move on. As Martha Stewart Living dies, so does our attention span.

  • What this means: 2. Our curiosity for organic learning is rotting

Allow me to admit a bias: I made my living, and a rewarding one at that, for years as an advertising sales manager in magazines. One of my secrets for making my staff perform smartly (literally)? They had to read every issue. Yes, we had quizzes. Yes, we had sales meetings where we sat around talking about editorial details. If you disliked an article or thought a new direction hurt ad sales, no problem. Opinions welcome; ignorance NOT.

Is ignorance where our culture is heading…and magazine readership just another sign of it? Well yeah. Duh! Not to say you can’t read on your phone but…do you? We know books are on the endangered media list; next to expire on the verbal brain chain must be mags, newspapers, and more. And words in general. Soon, the in-use English language may decline to, oh, 2,000-5,000 words, many misspelled. And 55,000 emojis.

  • What this means: 3. Aesthetic sensibility will get simple-minded, and if not mindless

Every detail in mags like MSL goes through rigorous layers of criticism, collaboration, and refinement. Those movie scenes where media perfectionists are up all night getting everything just right? It’s true. And they’re back at it (in fresh, dressed-to-impress outfits) in the morning.

Martha (and so many more mags) delivered savvy headlines, articles, captions, and more—surrounded by cool and creative images that sparked the brain to new concepts. It’s called design. It used to determine how you lived, who your customer would be, and how you’d present yourself to a watchful world.

Moreover, and if nothing else, such impressive design offered readers a sumptuous release into inspiration, entertainment, and escapism. The experience was often learning lite, of course, but that made it brilliant. Hey, when college and Shakespeare are over, it’s time to turn the page to novels, self-improvement guides, publications, and a world of possibilities.

Nowadays, do people even know how to turn the page?

  • RIP, information society

Without getting political, or disparaging the infranets, let’s just agree that the manipulation of information has replaced the search for knowledge, wisdom, intelligence, even common interests.

These ruthless market forces always win, and will continue to mow down Martha and much more. And deprive us of the tactile, lush-papered, colorful WOW that was part of our personal diet, development, and dreamscape.

  • A random, charming memory

Not to be TOO nostalgic, BUT…We still have memories, right? Like this one…At my publishing company, when the freshly-printed box of the new monthly edition burst into the office, everyone ran to the lobby, greedily grabbed one, and ravenously pored through every page.

Did the 4-color black-and-white cover idea pop as hoped? Did the 2-page spread with the tough gutter picture and bleed off the sides align impressively? Did the mix and placement of ads and editorial work for all parties—especially the reading audience?

That feeling, that just-inked smell, that nervously hypercritical eye. That miracle of competitiveness, teamwork, and talent made all the fights and angst and deadline stress worthwhile.

Countless subscribers knew a parallel sensation of their own when opening their mailbox to discover the gift of a sexy magazine glowing like a promise amid the detritus.

  • And now, for the good news…

Before finishing this praise of the page, let’s acknowledge the good news: Some people still love magazines. And books. And reading and learning and…comfortable BreakAways into glorious verbal and pictographic escapism. Long live print, please! And thank you!

Keep reading. Keep your standards high. And keep your ideas open.

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What’s Liberty Got to Do with It?

Posted on: Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill | Leave a comment

France gifted the USA with the larger-than-life Lady of Liberty in 1886. 

Gas prices are going up. They’re about to go way up. Why? Well, there are many reasons. But the latest ir-rationale is that Russia, who controls a lot of the world’s energy, is attacking the Ukraine. So an unusually united NATO and other nations have, for now, announced that they will stop playing nice with Russia. 

Hello, inflation! 

Unfortunately, this will make travel more expensive. And in some cases, less inviting. Worse, the sniping and blaming will become even more deafening than usual. In the U.S., of course, but almost everywhere. And global peace will take a big step backwards. World War #? is not out of the question. People will suffer and die.

I’ve known Ukrainian friends and families. Lovely people. Aren’t all people? We like to think so, but at times like this, one must doubt that hypothesis. Fasten your seat belts. And keep ready your mini-BreakAways from the news, from the noise, from the nastiness. Above all…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Weird Weather Offers Ice Kayak BreakAways

Posted on: Friday, December 17th, 2021
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

If you conquer fear, you can do dangerous things worry-free! 

As I write this near St. Paul, news radio keeps telling us about yesterday’s weather records: Highest temperature; highest dewpoint; first December tornado(s); first December tornado and severe storm warnings.

Most peculiar. And, as some might say, just another sign that we are in the End Times. If so, there’s a certain relief in that—since most of us have found planning ahead perplexing lately, if not laughable. The 11 Commandments of Fiscal Fitness on this site offers a big-pic, life-loving approach to designing the future. Perhaps it’s time to pen the parody?

Meanwhile, this lake lover ditched the tech-desk and took advantage of recent unseasonal ice thaws—brought on by oddly hot days and strong winds. Only part of the lake turned back to water, so that’s the part I paddled on. Mostly. But as this pic shows, sometimes it’s fun to play close to the edge, too. I’ve even been known to paddle through the ice. Scary? Maybe. But the noise is amazing, rather like crashing a giant cocktail.

When I share pictures like these, some scold me, while others offer advice like, ‘I hope you were wearing a life vest!’ or ‘You better be in a dry suit!’. Nope. I trust my skills—and find stupider things to worry about. Anyway, if these are the end times, why worry about the future? Carpe diem! BreakAway on a sunny day and rejoice in winter warming!

And, now more than ever, keep the faith.

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