FOTOFRIDAY: Hang Up and Drive

Posted on: Friday, July 19th, 2019
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Kirk Horsted

Minnesota’s state government has taken FOREVER to pass a bill disallowing playing with your cell phone while driving. Well, they finally did. The law takes effect on August 1. You can still do “one-touch” activities and voice activation and such. Okay, fine.

By my best guess-timate, about 44.55% of drivers are doing something with their phone while driving. Talking? Texting? SM-ing? Watching reality shows? Buying toilet paper on Amazon? All the above? If we actually give citations, the cops will be swamped and the state will get rich.  I hope so.

Life is better in 3D than on your screen. Driving too. So, like, BreakAway from that addictive toy and take a real vacation. Talk to someone. Go hear live music or see a play. Plant flowers. Walk.

Most important: Drive.

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BITN: The Unretired; SM Anxiety; Blackface Sabbatical

Posted on: Saturday, July 13th, 2019
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Summer is super-active; even the loons are busy dodging looping boats. The interns keep chasing after more BITN bits—just ahead. And I’m attending a retiring party tonight for an educator who walks away with full bennies + pension at 58. Not bad, eh? Especially compared to story snapshot #1…

  • Retirement? It’s not happening…

The AP tackled a mountain of stats this week further confirming the present economic boom works for some more than others—for whom WORK will remain a key piece of their long-term survival. They hope.

23% say they don’t expect to stop working—EVER. Only 29% over 50 believe they are extremely or very prepared. And 56% of younger adults say they’re unprepared to retire.

The article is loaded with stories and stats that, according to the MYBA Armchair Economist, are nothing short of distressing. Not mentioned (as usual) but most important is the exploding income equality gap: The top 10% now hold 70% of the wealth in the USA. Beyond that, the AP story discusses stern retirement realities including health problems, longer life spans, caring for sick family, expensive healthcare and cost of living, and, of course, a crazy little thing called aging.

Good luck, everyone. We may need it.

  • SM mania making many wired

The MYBA interns are tech-savvy, of course, so we take advantage of that AND have mandatory unplugged times daily. That’s a good idea, says this Philly Enquirer story about e-stress, which confirms, “ Several studies have linked social media use with depression, envy, lower self-esteem, and social anxiety.”

To deal with this onslaught of self-induced stress, the article offers some common-sense (yet perhaps unhip) suggestions like:

  • Limit when and where to use SM
  • Avoid SM before bed; you’ll get better sleep
  • Schedule MULTIDAY breaks from SM, and/or limit your daily time
  • Trust your feelings (Luke); if SM brings you down, get up and turn it off
  • AND BEST OF ALL: Pay more attention to your REAL-LIFE relationships

The article also acknowledges the potential upsides of SM and tech as tools, like, some folks find meditation apps effective. Others find online communities that help with various struggles. And some, we hope, get a laugh a day out of some silly post (though the article didn’t mention that)!

Hmmm. Just a few days ago, the AP reported that a PA school principal wore blackface (to portray a TV star) to a team-building exercise. This was eventually deemed not okay, so the principal was given a one-year sabbatical, and a future position as a teacher—not an admin.

A one-year sabbatical sounds pretty good right about now. So as punishments go…could be worse (as we say here in MN). As I try to think of a final comment to this odd story, I can only come up with: No comment.

Stay tuned for more BreakAways in the News. The world is watching us…

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FOTOFRIDAY: The Bald Eagle

Posted on: Friday, July 12th, 2019
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There’s nothing better than living in endless summer. Which is not to say that it doesn’t have its problems. Like poop. From seagulls, and enemies of the people, and things. So we employ Eagles and things. To keep them away.

Which works well, mostly, until the Eagle loses his head.


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FOTOFRIDAY: Happy Go Lucky

Posted on: Friday, July 5th, 2019
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Kirk Horsted, Big Sur, CA

Happy 4th of July (weekend)! Happy long days. It’s summer vacation season. So get up and go somewhere. Be happy go lucky!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Happy Solstice from Denmark!

Posted on: Friday, June 21st, 2019
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Kirk Horsted, Hornbaek, Denmark, Solstice 2012

I’m not really in Denmark, though I really wish I were! But some years back, I dragged my kids through some of their Scandinavian root grounds (+ fun touristy kid areas), for several weeks around the Solstice. Here, a witch (not a real one) burns on a beach as part of a midsummer celebration called Sankt Hans Aften.

This ritual dates back hundreds of years—like so many things in Denmark—and has many histories, symbolisms, and even controversies attached to it. From my POV, it was a glorious, mysterious evening with beautiful people, sentimental singing, tasty beer, and midnight light. My celebration this year will be less fiery, and probably rainy to boot. : (

Still, Happy Solstice!

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Resist SM “Monetizing” by Doing Nothing

Posted on: Tuesday, June 18th, 2019
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Today we proudly launch a new category, Wily Mktg, to merge the professional pursuits of the Wily Wordsmith and Marketing Consultant with the free-your-time promise of BreakAway. They overlap swimmingly. And my career advisors tell me I should write more about my craft. A new book promoting “doing nothing” provides the perfect starting point.

That book is Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, and it prescribes the medicine we all need right about now.

  • Monetizing the masses

One of my favorite hobby-treats is attending live music. LIVE music. As in, real artists on stage + real people in the audience + all the exciting sideshows that make for the consummate concert experience. Lately, the ultimate sign of audience approval is when people stand up and hold their phones to the show. Recording? Maybe But it feels like something bigger. And sorta surreal.

This ritual happens everywhere, actually—from pro sports events to elementary music concerts. Participating in the present is becoming less important than engagement through your gadgets.

This is one of the themes of a Ms. Odell’s book. She takes a rather deep dive into the political, spiritual, and moral implications of our relatively new fixation—but moreso emphasizes the oft-ignored reality that these beasts have masterfully monetized our attention for the profit of (what are suddenly) the largest corporations in the world. And, by association and with boundless budgets, their advertisers.

  • Where did all the tribes go?

I vividly remember the early days of this technological revolution. While overwhelming, the magnetism of suddenly connecting with people who are also into, say, Kate Bush or rising minor-leaguers made communities and minds and explode. We created and joined “tribes.” “Movements” aiming to change the world sprang up like wild ferns in spring. That’s still around, but buried.

Meanwhile, we have gradually become living, breathing algorithms that allow corporations to do target-marketing with scary precision. We may not like the idea—or we may buy right into it—but Odell asserts that we’re losing our attention span and ability to understand context. We know only, and live only for, the present. The meaning of that “message” on the phone is vague, yet becomes how we perceive and experience the present. Over time, we become addicted to the stimuli and lose touch with the real world around us.

Meanwhile, we become evermore under the control of Big Brothers like Google, Facebook, and Amazon who know more about us than we’ll ever know, keep us increasingly linked, and transform this circle of attention-connection into billions.

  • The solution: Nothing

Ms. Odell suggests an intentional effort to disconnect, or at least walk way from, your devices: “To stand apart is to take the view of the outsider without leaving…It means not fleeing your enemy, but knowing your enemy, which turns out not to be the world…but the channels through which you encounter it day to day.”

The BreakAway premise holds that fleeing is not only fantastic fun, but spiritually transformative. And whether you use your break time to see the world or do nothing are both brilliant ideas.

With any luck, there will be time for both. And freedom means not only taking your time, but also keeping Big Brother at a distance.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Mother Nature No Thanks!

Posted on: Friday, June 14th, 2019
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Nature is great, right? Hmmmm… When my daughter knocked on one of my birdhouses recently, this creature emerged. A sibling remained inside, thank God.

They’re baby flying squirrels—something you rarely see around here. Nocturnal by nature, they use those big eyes to, well, freak me out! I don’t know why they were in the birdhouse, although they do fly (glide, really, or so I’m told). I just hope they stay away—maybe go hang out with the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz or something.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Graduation Meditation

Posted on: Friday, June 7th, 2019
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Kirk Horsted, Princeton, NJ

Graduation brings much excitement, emotion, and exhaustion. That’s why I ducked in to Princeton University Chapel a few days ago—after events had ended and people were disappearing.

I found the silence and reflection I was looking for, in addition to these lovely orange-centric flowers saluting the college colors. My son is now done there, and I am filled with gratitude for his world-class education and experience. And yet, I will miss that place. He’ll miss it more, as college provides the ultimate BreakAway for youth coming of age.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Everyone Loves a Sunset BreakAway

Posted on: Friday, May 31st, 2019
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Kirk Horsted, Lake Owasso, MN

When it comes to sunsets, everyone’s an excellent photographer—because sundowns are so awesome, at least when the clouds cooperate. Sunrises can be equally lovely. But most of us aren’t floating on a boat with friends sipping a cocktail at that hour.

Wildfires from Canada are again sending smoke to Minnesota that makes for hazy skies, but stunning sunsets. We’re all busy: I know. But please stop and watch one of our planets most magical moments when you can. It’s free. And you’ll feel better about whatever’s bugging you.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Today in the Garden

Posted on: Friday, May 17th, 2019
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