Tag Archives: blog
June 3, 2009

Around the World in 365 Days

Arlo and Oksana on their first solo trip together, Costa Rica, 2003

This is an announcement I’ve been looking forward to making for a long time:

Oksana and I just quit our jobs!

Okay, not really. I just wanted to get your attention.

But actually, really! It’s just that our last day of work isn’t going to come around until next summer.  That’s right; we’ve put in our one year’s notice!  Next June, all our crap goes into storage and we set off on a long-planned, round-the-world trip.

This is something we’ve been talking about since before we married.  Before we could commit to such a bold move, we had to make sure we were in a position of security – with our finances, our education, our work experience, etc.

(Funny thing we learned about financial security: Once you’ve got it, it’s surprisingly hard to let go.)

This is why we haven’t settled down.  It’s why we were so anxious to stay out of debt, why we haven’t bought a house, and most definitely one of the reasons why we haven’t yet entertained the idea of having kids.

So, as excited as we are to shoulder a backpack and set off for the ends of the earth, we’re also a little bit freaked out.  Will our jobs be waiting for us when we get back? (Magic 8-Ball says: Outlook Good.)  Will the economy implode while we’re gone?  Do any of the big security questions even matter if we’re off having the experience of a lifetime?


Where are we going?  No idea.  We don’t have (and probably won’t ever have) an itinerary.

Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.
Wanderer, there is no path; the path is made by walking.


May 21, 2009

Peru Roughcuts

Crouching Arlo, hidden Inca

As you may know, I took a little trip down to Peru last winter with a group of college students. I carried along my camcorder, shot 14 tapes worth of footage, and brought it all home for editing. Back in Alaska, I sat down with a few of the students and asked them to tell me some stories about their trip. I currently have 17 interview tapes, and I’m holding out hope for more.

Editing this together is a massive project. I started with a 500GB drive, then upgraded to 1TB. With all the videos, photos, audio, and preview files I’m currently working with, it’s already 93% full.

There’s just no easy way to edit the memories and experiences of 20 people on a month-long trip across Peru. I didn’t want to start any editing at all until I’d collected all the interviews, because as tough as it is to puzzle together eight stories about hiking the Inca Trail, it’d be even harder to try to shoehorn in a ninth after the fact. But then I realized I had everything I needed to start editing a certain part of the trip — a five-day jungle expedition – because it involved only Megan, Alison, and me, and I’ve already shot both of their interviews…

So, I dove in. And right now, I’m taking it just one little story at a time.

I shared some of these vignettes with Alison and Megan and seeing their reactions inspired me to keep going. For now, those two work well as my muses, but with a project this daunting, I can use all the motivation I can get. I thought creating a little podcast and sharing the stories with a wider audience as they’re completed would be fun. (With the students’ permission, of course — These video clips are eventually destined for a DVD that will only go out to those that went on the trip.)

It’ll be a bit before I get to the rest of the students. Later, we’ll visit Cusco, the Inca Trail, Lake Titicaca, Machu Picchu, Lima, etc., but for now, these two girls have a lot to say about the Amazon Basin. It’ll probably seem like the “Megan and Alison Show” for a while, but that’s okay; they’re quite entertaining.

So, here you are. A quick little blog – nothing fancy – where I can post the rough edits of my grandisimo Peru DVD. They’ll be quarter-screen video, in an iPod-ready format, and posted once or twice a week. All you need is the free Quicktime player. Definitely subscribe to the podcast (or at least to the email updates) if you want to catch every episode.

Like what you see? Want to give me some feedback on the editing (Not too much criticism on the audio, please — acoustic sweetening will come much later in the process!) or leave a note for the students? Comment away!

And I do hope you enjoy watching these little clips half as much as I enjoyed creating them!

The first video is right this way…

March 12, 2008

A Midgett Blog, Volume I, 2003… Published!

A Midgett Blog, Front Cover with glare

This is so cool!  I just received my blog-turned-book in the mail from Lulu.com!  It turned out better than I’d dare to hope!  Exclamation points should be reserved to represent forceful dialog, but who cares?!

Seriously, though, A Midgett Blog, Volume I: 2003 has been published and I couldn’t be happier.  It’s a 166-page, perfect-bound, 6″ x 9″ trade paperback.  It’s somewhat of a hybrid between a full-size hardback and a mass-market paperback.  I put so many hours into learning all the ins and outs of self-publishing and spent so much time designing the layout of the pages and the cover that I worried that I would be disillusioned by anything less than printing perfection.  Even with heightened expectations, Lulu doesn’t disappoint.

Technically, I suppose you would have to say that this book is “printed,” rather than “published.”   I looked into the two publishing options offered by Lulu:  Published by Lulu and Published by You.  In the former, Lulu will reserve an actual ISBN for your work, effectively listing it worldwide in every major bibliographic database.  Walk into any bookstore, do a search on Amazon.com, and you’ll be able to order your book.  With the Published by You option, you’d be listed as the publisher, which would be cool, but you would also have to go through the hassle of registering your own ISBN through the US ISBN Agency.  Both options add at least $100 to the cost of printing.  I decided to just print it.  Who’s going to be looking for my blog at a bookstore?

Having a book “published,” with all the acceptance that the word implies, would certainly be something to be proud of.  I would have thought I’d have experienced some niggling disappointment when I passed on the whole ISBN thing.  Turns out, not even a little.  I have an artifact now, a physical thing that sits on my bookshelf.  For some reason, that’s just so much cooler than digital bits flitting around in cyberspace.

A single printing cost me about $30, which I don’t think is terrible considering that a book of this size would probably have a retail price of $15.  The cost would drop all the way down to $8 or so if I were to print the interior pages in black and white.  However, I wanted the freedom to color some of the text, not to mention keeping the original color photos.  If I really wanted to pinch pennies, I could have reduced the number of pages by shrinking the font size of the body text style, too.  Actually, I think the default font size came out a bit too large, anyway.  A good thing, too, considering the rough draft of Volume II is clocking in at 450 pages ($72!).

Besides the slightly large font, there’s not a lot I don’t like about my first printing.  The glossy black cover attracts fingerprints, but I can live with that.  The dark blue text box on the back cover doesn’t seem to be differentiated from the black background at all.  The edge of the spine is worn down to white in a couple places, but I think that probably happened during shipping.  I did notice one typographical error while flipping through the book, but I’m not about to proof-read the material yet again just to see if there are more.  Easy fixes, if I decide to order another copy or two.


September 18, 2004


A Piece of MindwheatBlogging has become pretty damn popular and the internet is filling up with all sorts of creative uses for them. You’ve got the personal journal blogs, the photo album blogs, the current events commentary blogs, and the ever-delightful link-disseminating blogs.

Oh, damn. I shouldn’t have used the second-person singular in the last sentence. First-person works better because I, myself, have each of those blogs!

Okay, so yeah, you know about the personal journal one; you’re reading it. And if you’re any sort of repeat offender, you know about my photoblog, too. But there’s a good chance that this will be your first introduction to Mindwheat.com.

Mindwheat is, for lack of a better label, a “Community Blog.” Four of my friends and I decided that Greymatter might be up to providing the interface for a site where we could swap internet links. If nothing else, the theory was that it would cut down on the number of “This site I found is so funny – YOU HAVE TO READ IT!” subject lines we get from each other in our inboxes.

Each of us five primary participants is an avid internet surfer and while there’s some crossover in the sites that we frequent, we maintain distinctive and diverse interests. We figured that Mindwheat might be a great way to share those interests and, after a month of steady posting, it looks like we were right.

There are profile pages on each of us at Mindwheat, but I think a short introduction might help you get a feel for who’s going to post what.

There’s Calder; He’s got the market cornered on the pro-Republican side of things. Maasman digs up all the cool music and Amelia is our resident librarian. Mike should change his name to Mr. Non-sequitur because it’s quite impossible to guess what his next post will be about. I’m all over the board, too, as I embrace my inner Liberal Artist, but if anything I’m more likely to gravitate to the multimedias (Did I just say “multimedias” – someone please interrobang that!) Oh, and for the record, all of us have a nasty habit of posting just plain goofy shit every now and again.

Mindwheat is a great site for me because I don’t spend hours writing and editing each entry. In 5 minutes I can post a quick link to something that I found interesting or comment on something someone else has posted. I’m don’t concern myself with improving my writing there nor do I worry that I might offend someone. If you read both A Midgett Blog and Mindwheat, you’ll likely find that my Mindwheat persona is the more irreverent one.

So, take a look at the site and see if you like it enough to grace us with a bookmark. Comment on an entry if you’ve got something to add, or give it a karma point to show how much you liked (or didn’t like) it. If you have any suggestions to make the site better, let us know!

Oh, and why is it called “Mindwheat?” Well, for the answer to that you’ll have to watch Doctrine.

June 12, 2003

Blog the First

Every blog – that’s short for web log, by the way – has to have a first entry and this is mine.

Why a blog? Well, it’s something I’ve been interested in doing ever since working on my wedding pages last year. For the most part, I enjoyed the writing and, I must admit, liked hearing what others thought about it. Besides, there’s something strangely attractive about posting your thoughts in a public forum. I can’t quite nail down why that is, but maybe after a few dozen entries I’ll have more insight to share.

Aside from all that, I think this might be a good way to share what’s going on in my life with my friends and family. Thirty years into this thing called life, I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that I’ll never be good at writing letters.

So, if it’s the kind of thing you might do, please feel free to bookmark this site and return every so often to find out what’s new in Arlo’s World. Just don’t shatter my illusions and tell me that you don’t pour yourself a cup of coffee, slip into your favorite bathrobe, and snuggle up to your computer every night before reading my journal!