Navigating the COVID Minefield: A Five Month Long Journey

If you’re like me, the LAST thing you probably want to read about at this point is anything related to COVID. And yet, we also all know that it is an unavoidable topic of conversation, whether we like it or not. Rest assured that this will ultimately be a travel blog, but I really can’t tell the tale without bringing up the pandemic.

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The Best Laid Plans: Spring of 2020

There is a much over-used expression that states, “Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.” Well, here I am using it again because it fits like a glove to describe what the last few months have been like for all of us. Back in the halcyon days of December 2019 and January 2020, I had plans. Big plans. Scary, but exciting plans…

Find out what happened to the plans… read on!

I Blame It All On My Mother

I wrote this a few years ago, but thought I would re-post it today for Mother’s Day:

Although I’m not a clinical psychologist and I recognized early in my career that I didn’t have the patience to deal with patients, I’ve been studying psychology for almost 40 years and teaching for over 30. From the original writings of Dr. Freud to the hideous array of pop psychology self-help books that abound in bookstores, a theme emerges all too frequently: whatever the psychological issue you are dealing with, it is probably somehow your mother’s fault. While I personally think mothers have been unfairly targeted in this argument over the root cause of our adult neuroses, I can definitively say that my mother is absolutely the reason for the fact that I am a self-diagnosed Travel Addict today.

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Living and Traveling During the “Apocalypse” – March, 2020

Here we are at the end of March, and who could have guessed how quickly and dramatically our everyday lives would change even just 3 or 4 weeks ago? As the new year began, I’d made plans to travel to Italy over Spring Break, leaving on March 7 to work with colleagues at Mt. Vesuvius on a new study of volcanic risk perception. However, by early February, I was feeling too stressed by my upcoming retirement and move out of California to even think about going abroad for almost two weeks. In a move that surprised even myself, I reluctantly informed my Italian colleagues that I wouldn’t be able to come over as we’d planned. Never would I have imagined passing up an opportunity to go to Italy, but I really do have an awful lot on my plate.

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Mystery Ride

As far back as I can recall, probably starting when I was around 6 years old, I remember that on the occasional Saturday or Sunday my mother would tell me that we were taking a drive. Of course I’d ask, “Where are we going, Mama?” and she’d slyly smile and say, “We’re going on a mystery ride.”  A “mystery ride” never ceased to induce excitement and curiosity in me.

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Where will the road take us?

To see where we’re heading, read on…

When in Rome… A Look at Cultural Norms in Italy

In my Social Psychology course I discuss the concept of social norms. Norms are rules for behavior, some of which are formal and may be integrated into our system of laws (stop at red lights, don’t steal, file your taxes); others are more subtle and are learned by watching the behavior of others around us as we grow and develop (shaking hands when we meet someone, maintaining certain physical distances from other people, holding a door for someone behind us).  Adhering to these norms tends to keep us out of trouble and wins the approval of others; deviating from these norms can lead to being punished or socially ridiculed. And while many social norms are universally shared, others tend to be culturally specific. One of the aspects of travel that I find particularly fascinating is being exposed to different sets of social norms depending upon the culture I’m visiting.

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