Weekly Musings

Thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days

Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time 'round, I'm going a bit meta: writing an essay about newsletters in this newsletter. Bet you didn't see that one coming! I hope this edition gets you thinking, not just about newsletters but online publishing in general.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's essay.

On Newsletters

You might not know this, but Weekly Musings is my second kick at the newsletter can. The first time around, I burned out. It wasn't the newsletter — I kind of burned out with all the writing I was doing.

In the weeks leading up to the first edition of Weekly Musings (and just about every week since then), I pondered newsletters and why they're becoming popular again. And why newsletters seem to be, or at least are becoming, what blogging used to be.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

As I may have mentioned in a previous edition of Weekly Musings, I became a citizen of New Zealand in March, 2019. I'm proud to call this country home, even with its problems and shortcomings.

I always have, though, admired the quiet strength of the people of this land and, especially, the people living in the city of Christchurch. It's that strength I want to pay a short tribute to with this week's letter.

On Resilience

Confession time: Christchurch is one city in New Zealand that has never had much of a pull on me. I'm not sure why. I like the city, but it never sparked my affection in the way that, say, Wellington or Oamaru have.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

A few months ago, my family and I spent a week touring around the upper part of New Zealand's North Island. I hadn't been to most of the places we visited, and I'm glad we took the time to make that trip. Like much of the rest of this country, the places we visited are beautiful in so many different ways.

Some of the roads, though, aren't beautiful. Narrow, winding, and sometimes scary are the best ways to describe them — sometimes with no barriers and a higher-than-warranted speed limit (what the you-know-what were they thinking?). I had to concentrate, but my family and I made it out of there in one piece. Some of the views, though ... I can't describe how beautiful they were. Here's a sample:

A view from outside of Nelson, New Zealand

Although I took notes about a few ideas for essays, I didn't have time to write anything. So, I dipped into my archives and dusted off a travel-themed essay that's a few years old, but which I also think is timeless.

I hope you enjoy it.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This time around, I'm trying to get back on track. What you're about to read is the essay that I meant to publish in the previous musing. In it, I ponder something we run into every day, but often don't notice or just assume that we can't do anything about.

On Information Pollution

Information.

To say it's everywhere is an understatement. If you think about how information comes into your brain, you'll realize that it's difficult if not impossible to escape it.

Information is in front of our eyes. It's in our ears. It's in our hands. We're bombarded by information when we look at a screen. While we're on a bus or train. While we're trying to savour that new hot beverage or pastry.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

I had another essay ready to go, but an event in the last week got me seriously pondering another topic. The topic of the essay in this edition of the newsletter. As with the last musing, I don't know if the idea is as well formed or complete as I'd like it to be, but it's an idea I had to share with you.

Let's get going, shall we?

On Being Utopian

Like many people in New Zealand, and around the world, I was shocked and stunned, angered and saddened by last Friday's terror attacks on two mosques in Christchurch. It was horrifying enough that the violence was directed towards a specific group. But that could have any of us in Aotearoa, anywhere at any time.

Dozens of people were brutally killed as the result of anger and hatred fuelled by extremism. A day after the attacks, I saw this post on Mastodon:

White supremacy must die

Those four words said a lot. And I found myself, yet again, wishing that all forms of supremacist and extremist thought would die a quick death.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

The last seven days have been ... well, they haven't been trying or plain bad, but those days haven't been the all that great either. A combination of a lot to do and generally feeling blah (yes, that's the medical term) were a double whammy that slowed me down a bit.

That, in turn, resulted in an essay I'm not entirely sure about. I'm not sure if the ideas in it are as well formed as they could or should be, or as I want them to be. But here it is. I hope you enjoy it.

With that out of the way, let's get to this week's essay.

On Going Home Again

You can't go home again.

That's the oft-quoted, and often mis-quoted, title of a novel by Thomas Wolfe. Maybe, though, the idea that some people have mistakenly ascribed to the title of Wolfe's last novel has merit. Home, wherever or whatever it may be, is never as you remember it. It might not be home any longer.

I've been living in New Zealand since 2012. In my first few years there, I took regular trips to the U.S. for various events. I never, though, went back to my native Canada. Until 2017. October. Autumn, when I was used to it being spring. Maybe that was a bit of an omen.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

As promised, this week you get a new, fresh, and I hope thought-provoking essay. If you don't enjoy it, please feel free to complain to the management. Yes, that's me!

With that out of the way, let's get on to this week's essay.

On Traveling In Your Own Country

Travel.

It's a word that packs a multitude of possibilities. It's a word that encapsulates so many dreams. It's a word that stirs the imagination. Travel is something many of us want to do — it's on so many bucket lists for a reason ...

Seriously, though, travel is something many of us try or hope to do. It's not always possible, though, because of time and budget. Yes, traveling can be expensive — especially if you live at the bottom of the world.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

Ever have one of those weeks where you have so many ideas at your fingertips that you have a hard time deciding which one to tackle first? That's been the last seven days for me. It's a great problem to have, to be honest. At least until that choice paralyzes you.

And that's what happened to me this week. I started three different essays, but was unable to finish any of them. So, I dipped into my files and dug up an old essay that I believe still stand up in the few years since I wrote it. I hope you enjoy it. You'll get a fresh essay next week. Promise!

On The Difference Between Movie and Film

British actor Tom Baker, best know for his portrayal of the fourth incarnation of Doctor Who, once told an interviewer that watching a movie starts off as a communal activity. But, Baker added, once the lights go out and the curtain comes up, watching a movie suddenly becomes an intensely personal experience.

I can vouch for that. Growing up in Toronto, Canada, I embraced the personal experience of watching and discovering both movies and film. At 8 p.m. each Saturday night, when my parents were hunkered down watching Hockey Night in Canada in winter or whatever else the rest of the year, my gaze would be fixed on the 13-inch screen of the often-balky colour TV I inherited from my sister.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This week's musing looks at something that we should all be worried about. Something that's being eroded and clawed away from us. Our privacy.

On Privacy as a Right

Privacy.

It's a word that been on everyone's lips and everyone's minds over the last year. Not just the idea of privacy, but how our privacy has been, and is being, eroded.

The idea of privacy has been nagging me since the early 1990s, when I started using the web. I never expected the situation on that front to get as bad as it has.

What got me thinking about this subject again is something that Steven Ovadia posted to his blog:

[O]ur right to privacy isn’t given to us by companies. We need to proactively grant ourselves the right. That could mean by not engaging with companies that don’t respect our privacy. That could mean by only contracting with companies that respect our privacy. The point is, we can’t count on anyone but ourselves to protect our rights. Facebook won’t save us from Facebook.

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Welcome to this edition of Weekly Musings, where each week I share some thoughts about what's caught my interest in the last seven days.

This week's musing looks at something I used to do a lot of. Something that some loudmouths say is dead. Or, at the very least, dying. I disagree.

Let's get going, shall we?

On Blogging

Blogging is dead. It was put into the ground by social media. At least, that's what the pundits will have us believe.

That's one of those narratives that seems to be woven into the fabric of the online world — a new technology comes along and makes an older one rapidly extinct. Except in this case, to quote Jules Winnfield, That s**t ain't the truth.

Blogging is alive. It's well. While we don't hear as much about it as we did, say, eight or 10 years ago, blogging continues to survive. I'd even go so far as to say that blogging continues to thrive.

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