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Archive for February, 2014

Modern Day.

Friday, February 28th, 2014


What creates interest in architecture and in life is disruption…

Shot on an iPhone by Clare Whitaker.

Writer’s Block

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Content creation is one of the most important jobs in our brave new world of online publishing and social platforms. Even though print media might be on the decline, writers are in high demand and are expected to churn out work for blogs, articles, and 140 character tweets.’They are the distributors of world news, creators of conversations, developers of brand identities, and even the voice of our personal validations and emotions.

While we may admire and even envy the ability of writers ‘ be they novelists, journalists, or the listicle machines ‘ writers are not known for their work ethic. It is widely accepted in the content industry that the writers who succeed are those who have the discipline to develop a strong, consistent daily routine. It is as equally accepted that those writers are rare.

Many might assume these men and women were some of the most productive people on earth, producing a mountain of content. How do they do it? Quite chaotically, in many cases.

Megan McArdle in The Atlantic explores how, from a young age, most writers were easily able to slide by English class without any trouble. They were guaranteed an ‘A’ whether they worked feverishly on their paper for two weeks or two hours. The latter was obviously more appealing for those with natural writing gifts.

But when these writers enter the work force and are expected to write something that matters ‘ they freeze. Procrastination sets-in. That easy ‘A’ is no longer guaranteed, and now there’s money on the line. They also find themselves, perhaps for the first time in their lives, competing against legions of colleagues who were probably the good writers in their classes, too.

The deadlines, the cups of coffee, the crumbled papers, the fingerprints on the delete button ‘ these are staples of the writer’s life. While some are incapable of placing perfection aside, fearing turning in something terrible – the rest rely on the art of procrastination. The LA Times defends procrastination as an effective and necessary creative tool, a way for writers to let off steam in the sea of high expectations and desires. At its core, writing is a creative process that means letting go of control ‘ and procrastination is the ability to let the writer’s mind wander away from fear and anxiety into a moment of peace with their craft.

So maybe writers block should not be looked at as a burden, but rather a part of the process. Take the sage words of Spartacus author Howard Fast, who pointed out that completing one page every day would yield a book per year (actually, more than one book by today’s length standards). Fast’s other maxim is worth remembering, too: ‘Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block.’ In other words, writers block, schmiters block. Get to work, scribes.

My country tis of thee

Friday, February 21st, 2014


Mountains of majesty inspire.

Shot on an iPhone by Clare Whitaker.

The Dry Olympics

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Russia’s most famous export is vodka, but Olympics attendees won’t be sipping vodka tonics, or any other alcoholic beverages, at this year’s games. A new federal law prohibits the sale of alcohol inside sports stadiums and arenas. Additionally, a local ordinance bans alcohol sales within 50 meters of certain sports venues. Why the strict drinking policy? Some see it as a way to limit unruliness, a lingering and unpleasant memory of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Others cite the Kremlin’s recent efforts as a way to disengage Russians from their alcohol attachment. Whatever the reason, fans are not happy. ‘Ice hockey and beer, curling and beer, these things tend to go hand in hand’ – such is the sentiment of many Olympics travelers and reporters who just want a drink.

If you do want a beer, it’s tough to find. One restaurant in Sochi’s Olympic Park has a full bar, and there are two Coca-Cola food and beverage stands that sell beer. All the other tents are selling a special non-alcoholic Baltika brew. The best bet is for fans to trek up the mountains and watch the skiing and snowboarding events. The outdoor venues are not restricted to alcohol ordinances, and the fans are ‘drinking in’ the freedom.

Even Utah, the host of the 2002 Salt Lake City Games and the state with the most restrictive alcohol laws in the United States, allowed alcohol in certain public spaces where it was normally prohibited. But it doesn’t make sense for Russia to be hosting the ‘sober Olympics.’ In fact, due to societal lack of healthy living habits in the country, the average lifespan of a Russian man is 64 years old. Russia ranks fourth in the world in total alcohol consumption per capita, prompting the government to declare a war on alcoholism in 2009. As part of the Kremlin’s efforts, alcohol taxes have rose, sale restrictions have increased, and alcohol advertising has been banned.

Additionally, alcohol isn’t the only restriction at the Sochi Games. There are no fried foods, no hot dogs, and no potato chips. Time writes that the Sochi train station has an intercom message that tells travelers upon their arrival: ‘Sochi is a smoke-free city. Please refrain from smoking in public places and Olympic venues.’ Although the Olympics are all about health and it is fitting for a host country to promote the mission of the Games, the Kremlin seems to be depriving Olympics fans for the sake of furthering their political aims. This is Russia, so such a move is hardly surprising. But the Kremlin is still no match for a little (North) America ingenuity.

The Motor City

Friday, February 14th, 2014

Downtown Detroit

Neon. Art deco architecture. The heart of the automobile. ‘May Detroit live forever.

Shot on an iPhone by Paul Bell.