Friday, August 28, 2015

Selection bias in social media

DSC04319 (1400x933) - CopyNo one on the Internet is living the life you think they are.

Freelance writer Paul Jarvis

One of two basic truths about social media that we post only fun, flattering, and fabulous things about ourselves.   Typical tedium and toil are seldom remarked on, rarely worth documenting.

Reciprocally, we only see the high points in other’s lives, their vacation pictures, professional awards, and victorious stories.  It makes everyone seem smarter, more fulfilled, happier, and more successful than we are.

Personally, I don’t chide myself for projecting positive notes.  I purposefully write about DSC04287 (900x1400)the best things in life on my blog, posting pictures that make me happiest on Instagram.  (Facebook, however, remains a swamp for petty cruelties, my other basic truth.)

Virtuously. this stance forces me to reflect well on my days, to fill in some context, to capture a good illustration.

It also encourages me to take the time to find new experiences, to take a better photograph, to read some history about a place, that I might not otherwise do.

In other people’s posts, I keep perspective on all of  the positives.   Alongside  travel blogs, I follow a friend’s chronicle of cancer treatments, day by day, finding both inspirational.  Against startup successes described on Medium, I join friends when they hit a rough patch, finding both sobering.  I always remember that there are two sides to every human condition.

100 daysI got an email this morning reminding me that my 100 Happy Days are up: How Did It Go For You

Its been a challenge, thank you.

I feel like the three months have held some of the best and worst times in my life.   I could never have predicted the events, wouldn’t have foreseen the ways that people would act as things unfolded.

Perhaps I should have written a more balanced account, but it’s hard to discuss the reflections or express the resilience that these times have required.

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all, observed Helen Keller.   

I tend my social media in that spirit.  Maybe it’s only ‘Peripatetic FOMO’ (I had to look  that up: Seeking through travel, philosophizing while walking).  If so, as Jarvis suggests, I can only plead that it’s not actually the whole life I’m living.  ‘hopefully some, though.

Rather, my Internet persona expresses both what I do and what I want to be known for doing.  It’s a reflection of my own journey towards happiness, and spreading the positive bits along the way.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sculpture by the Lakes

DSC04340 (1400x933)I love a sculpture garden.  Barbara Hepworth’s garden in St. Ives is a particularly good one, as was a playful temporary one in the Loire Valley that I chanced on a few years ago.  There are several scattered across the UK, mostly run by private foundations, operating over the summer with rotating works by various artists.

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Sculpture on the Lakes is a half hour drive northwest of Poole, set well off the track along Dorset’s Pallington Lakes.  It’s a quiet setting surrounded by cornfields and cow pastures, laced with electric transmission lines that contrast with the flowering bushes.  Admission is £10 and includes the gallery and gardens; it takes an hour or so to stroll and pause, stroll and pause among the works.

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DSC04434 (933x1400)I thought that it was a bit of a monoculture: large sleek metal-works depicting birds and sprites, each on a grassy pad set monumentally apart from the others.  They vary from whimsical to pretentious, some set into descriptive text while others benefit from walk-around contemplation.  The best were set onto the ponds, where reflections of the sky and sculpture mingled on the surface.


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I liked the huge heads against the Dorset sky, the green sprite set down into the stream, and a stabile above the still waters at the center of the park.

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‘lots of helpful volunteers and an ice cream hut for a hot day – ‘worth a stop for a contemplative break along the drive between Bournemouth and Salisbury.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Efes and Mezes

DSC03971 (1400x926)Several folks close to me advised that this vacation had to be different.

I couldn’t take another working holiday.  The legal and financial maneuvering echoing through dozens of overnight emails can’t be managed from Turkey. 

I can’t overplan the itinerary.   A determined march through dozens of historical landmarks and notable restaurants was Stress, regardless of the guidebooks reassurances

I wouldn’t be allowed to plan or strategize.  It takes a fresher mind than mine to ask the big questions or to plot the small schemes.

Kalkan helped in setting a good environment.  There was no Internet at the room and data roaming was expensive.  I rationed myself to one restaurant visit for WiFi, one business phone call, each day.

Indeed, the world survived my absence.

Predictably, the complete break did me a world of good.

DSC03991 (1400x1400)We alternated ‘activity days’ with days spent on the beach, reading a book and swimming. It was a different experience on holiday for me, unique in ten years.

I’d look over the top of the book at 9:30 or 10 as the boats queued up to leave the harbour, then again at 4:30 or 5 as they queued up to come in. 

Midday, we’d wander into the village to look for finger food (mezes), and walk back with a market sack of cold beer (Efes) to keep us hydrated through the hottest periods. 

Afternoons, I watched people, dozed in the sun, and read misanthropic spy thrillers.

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Food was wonderful throughout.

Breakfasts were light, melon and fig, egg and cheese, a selection of breads.

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Meze was a constant at midday, although the selection varied at different restaurants.  Somewhat like tapas, meze is a mix of breads and dips, a good light conversational snack.  I particularly liked the Dolmas (meat or veg wrapped in vine leaves), Haydari (dill and herb yogurt), Ciğeri (grilled liver) and Köfte (meatballs).

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Dinners were either fish or lamb dishes: grilled Sea Bream (lighter than Sea Bass) or a slow-cooked lamb shank preferred.  Seasonings were as varied as the view, and the same dish never tasted quite the same at two restaurants on two evenings.

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Late evening, we’d move on to strong clear Raki to drink.  An anise liqueur served with ice and water, it cut through anything that preceded it (DSC04122 (933x1400)and deadened the taste of everything afterwards).

The long climb back up the slopes at the end of the evening was the biggest challenge I set for myself each day.

Uniquely, I kept this vacation simple, clean, and compete.  And, at the conclusion, I called it a success. As Susan Whitbourne suggests

I should get a break from my usual routines, gain perspective on my problems, and relax with my family and friends. I should return refreshed and ready to take on the world again.