Written by Anton Zuiker since July 2000
Why mistersugar? Why a pig?
Last week, Ethan Zuckerman wrote an enlightened post about Fiji Water, and tonight I finally got around to reading the Fast Company article that prompted his post (I subscribed to Fast Company a few weeks back, and the first issue was in pile of mail when I got home yesterday): Message in a Bottle by Charles Fishman. I urge you to read this, too.
I’ll admit I’ve purchased and savored my share of Fiji Water over the last few years. I don’t often buy bottled water — I don’t drink much water, and I usually just find the nearest water fountain or a glass of tapwater — but when I do, I search out Fiji Water.
I have an affinity for that water, for it connects me to my time on Paama Island in the Republic of Vanuatu. During my Peace Corps service on that island, whenever I’d hike up and over to the east side, I could gaze out over the wide Pacific, and if I’d paddled away from Paama, past Lopevi volcano and eastward, the next stop would be Viti Levu Island, Fiji. I didn’t know it at the time, but as I was gazing in that direction, the Fiji Water bottling operation was just getting underway.
The water we drank on Liro was rainwater collected in a large cistern in the middle of the village, and we filled our bottles a few times each day (ignoring the occasional mosquito larvae). Halfway through our service, we paid a man to build a cement catchment behind our house, our own supply of water that would also help supply the growing school we served. The project was delayed when Avok, the carpenter, got a bad case of malaria. (Read this new National Geographic feature on malaria.)
I’ve thought about water a lot. Exactly 15 years ago, just out of college and soon to be headed to Hawaii, I holed up in the DeKalb Public Library for a few nights, researching water politics of the Middle East and predictions for the role of water in the 21st century. Erin laughed at me at the time, but came to understand.
In Hawaii, water was everywhere. When I wasn’t out on a surfboard or bobbing in the swimming pool, I was enjoying the delicious water that’s taken from the Oahu aquifers.
Today, with climate change worries, water is an important topic. NPR’s Richard Harris had two good reports today about drought in Arizona (here and here), and in New York, the health commissioner wants more people to drink tap water.
Anyway, after reading Fishman’s article, I’ll be buying less bottled water — an infrequent bottle of Fiji Water for memories of the South Pacific, and to support the locals there — and drinking more of the free stuff at my easy disposal. You?
Fabulous weather again for my time in Cleveland, and I’ve been getting out and about.
The other night, I met up with my OneDomino partners Jack Ricchuito (he’s got a new book out soon: Conscious Becoming, Jack Solpa, Tim Turritin and Rich Bonitz. It was good to see them again to talk about our model for a fast, flexible network of consultants, a business plant that will continue to percolate.
Around Cleveland, I’ve noticed a lot of smokers, but also headlines that the Cleveland Clinic is implementing a new hiring policy that will not give smokers jobs at the massive hospital system.
Maybe helmets are next? Few riders of motorcycles or bicycles seem to wear helmets here.
One morning last week in Cleveland, I noticed a work crew along the highway. They were slowly picking up trash, and seemed to be chatting. It was an remarkably beautiful late Spring day for Cleveland, the Cavs were in the playoffs, and the city was feeling good in its Rise Up! campaign.
The languid pace of the men’s work reminded me of a hot afternoon in which I was part of a work crew, raking rocks to make a rich man’s private golf course in Illinois. Mr. Rich walked up on us, and, finding us in conversation, upbraided us for being slackers. We took our lumps, but when he walked away, we griped and bitched for the rest of the day, frustrated that we’d been caught in a lull and not earlier when we had dust in our teeth and rocks at our feet.
I’ve hinted at my exasperation before, but I’ll say it more clearly: hearing the news out of Israel and Palestine for the last 20 years has inured me to the struggles in the Mideast, since the factions there don’t seem very interested in peace. (I’ve even entertained the notion that every nation send its best bulldozer to level the Temple Mount, and then see what’s worth fighting for over there. But of course that’s an ignorant and idiotic idea — every oil company sending a rig, now there’s an idea).
This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Six Days War between the Arab nations and Israel. Listening to the NPR series on the Six Day War, watching the documentary Six Days in June on UNC TV, and reading through the BBC News feature on the 1967 Middle East War has given me insight into the layered history of the region and renewed my interest in news from there.
Meanwhile, on NPR yesterday, author Ann Fadiman discussed the familiar essay. “The hallmark of the familiar essay is that it is autobiographical, but also about the world,” Fadiman says. She was asked whether blogs are the next stage in the familiar essay. “There are a lot of terrible blogs,” she answered, but many bloggers “write beautifully.”
The StoryBlogging idea is still percolating — storyblogging blends oral history, memoir blogging and family stories — and so I was interested in hearing what Fadiman would say about the type of blogging I’ve been trying to do for the last seven yeasr. “The hallmark of the familiar essay is that it is autobiographical, but it’s also about the world. A lot of bloggers I read do just one or the another and don’t combine the two.”
Next week, I’ll be in Cleveland, and I’m planning on writing a few familiar essays — storyblogging entries — here at mistersugar.com. I’ll call them Cleveland Chronicles. Watch for them starting Monday.
And, on The Story yesterday, Dick Gordon talked with hockey coach Neil Henderson (starts at 31:30), and whether you like or understand hockey, this is a fantastic conversation to hear. Henderson, in his Canadian accent, imparts wonderful lessons about playing hard, ignoring insults and working for your achievements.
Anna just woke up to go the bathroom, and she crawled into Erin’s side of the bed.
“Why aren’t you sleeping, Dad?” she asked me.
“I’m folding clothes and paying bills and other stuff,” I answered.
“You’re not having fun,” she said as her eyes closed again.
Edited 4/22/07: changed “are” to “aren’t”
As Erin can attest, I make lists — seems like I’m always writing lists of activities and tasks and people to call and bills to pay and goals to achieve. Since the NC Science Blogging Conference ended in January, I’ve had a stack of leftover yellow announcement cards, and on the backs of them I’ve taken to drawing my little square bullets and whatever action item has flitted across my mind.
Over the weekend, I came upon a link to Behance, and I ordered an orange Action Pad and a stack of Action Cards. These look pretty cool and useful, though my yellow conference cards are cheaper.
And, at her Brazen Careerist blog, Boston Globe colunnist Penelope Trunk confesses to being a list maker, too, and she suggests If you don’t like writing lists, buy a new pen.
Guest blogging by Tom Michael
How many times must you reinvent middle age? I was looking forward to – and fast approaching – the traditional definition myself, but you keep moving the goalposts. Put it back and please act your age.
I pulled into the driveway at 8:15pm tonight, just out of an exciting first meeting of a soon-to-organized association of Triangle-area science communicators (held at the beautiful Burroughs Wellcome Fund building), to see our friend, Butch, himself just parked in the driveway after driving straight down from Cleveland. Great surprise! — he greeted me with a six pack of Great Lakes Brewing Company Commodore Perry pale ale.
Butch is here to attend the Motor Bus Society annual convention, and will tour North Carolina’s bus depots, garages and facilities. He got his hobby of photographing buses from his father, who collected pictures of trains and buses.
Have you ever really looked at all the different types of buses? Look for them and observe.
Erin and I snapped pictures for Butch when we traveled around the world, and we presented him with an album of bus images from Vanuatu (Toyota vans), Australia (giant, plush touring buses), Thailand (jouncing blue buses with a ticket lady who helped us get to the mind-bogglingly claustrophic alley markets) and Chicago (good ol’ CTA).
If I could go back in time 30 or 40 years, I’d invest in touring bus manufacturers. I’d be wealthy, and cruising the country in my own mistersugar-mobile.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Halberstam died yesterday in a car accident, and when I read that the driver of the car in which Halberstam was a passenger was a grad student shuttling him away from a j-school speaking engagement, I recalled the brief wave of trepidation just before I drove a famous speaker to or from UNC’s campus, worried that an accident would mar the visit. I drove Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mark Schoofs one time, Dan Gillmor another time. Both made it to campus safely and gave great talks.
A beautiful Spring day in Chapel Hill, and after visiting my bank to deposit a check from the New York Times Company (I recently provided a small bit of consulting on a future web resource for nytimes.com), I walked up Franklin Street to pay a visit, natch, to 3CUPS, where manager Badi Bradley finally had a satisfied smile on his face as he looked out onto the courtyard, which just last week emerged from too many months of reconstruction. Where before there was a sidewalk and a nice patch of green grass, there’s now a European-style brick yard centered with a fountain that overflows into a short stream. Tables and umbrellas and a few trees are coming soon, says Badi (the building managers are responsible for the courtyard renovation, although 3CUPS bore the brunt of the daily questions from customers).
Sitting on the 3CUPS patio with a pot of tea and a Weaver Street Market cinnamon roll, reading The Interpreter by John Colapinto in the 4/16/07 New Yorker, listening to the murmurs of a baby being breastfed at a nearby table, being lulled by the trickle of the fountain … this is what makes for a glorious start to the week.
UPDATE: Read about Paul’s love of tea.