Altering course


I had dinner with an amazing couple in their 70s tonight, a former NASA scientist from Turkey and an English teacher from Tennessee. They’ve had so much time to read books and process information about everything from ancient civilizations to the cosmos, and it was an honor to sit across the dinner table with them and observe them delight in teaching me so many things I didn’t know. So much of what I’ve been doing with my life these past few years has involved managing, teaching, editing other people—and that’s been important work that I’m glad I did and wouldn’t trade. But I’m 28 and I don’t know enough to be teaching people all the time. I need to balance the teaching with learning from those who are older and wiser than me. The reason I got into journalism in the first place was to enable myself to continuously learn. The fact that I write things down for other people to read is really just a byproduct of my own quest for knowledge; it is as much an exhibitionistic display of my ability to synthesize the nuggets of information I gather as it is a compulsion of civic duty—because it sure isn’t for the money. Observing the current trajectory of the journalism industry, it having been pressured by capitalistic forces to all but abandon the pursuit of knowledge in exchange for the factory farming of entertainment, I am starting to think that I need to find another outlet in which I can funnel my skills and creativity.

Ideas welcome.

A lesson in Slovenian culture from my new friends in Ljubljana. Ramstein has nothing on this guy.

That cockatoo is probably not yelling nonsense…

Being the parrot enthusiast that I am, about five friends have sent me this video over the past few days:

Ok, I will admit it is funny. It’s amusing to watch parrots run in the same way it’s fun to watch Americans use chopsticks for the first time. But at the same time there is also something sad about this cockatoo’s tantrum. It reminds me of a passage in one of my favorite essays of all time, Parrots I Have Known, by Paul Bowles:

The next pstticine annexation to the household (in the interim came an armadillo, an ocelot and a tejon – a tropical version of the raccoon) was a parakeet named Hitler.  He was about four inches high and no one could touch him.  All day he strutted about the house scolding, in an eternal rage, sometimes pecking at the servants’ bare toes.  His voice was a sputter and a squeak, and his Spanish never got any further than the two words perquito burro (stupid parakeet), which always came at the end of one of hs diatribes; trembling with emotion, he would pronounce them in a way that recalled the classic orator’s “I have spoken.”

This description of little Hitler almost brought me to tears of laughter the first time I read it, but after our amusement subsides, we should consider what kind of torment the parrots must have endured to lash out in such a grandiose effort of futility. In the cockatoo’s case, I suspect he is the frequent unwitting eavesdropper on domestic disputes. When he runs into the other room, you can make out a mumbled “I’m so angry!” How sad to be trapped in an environment where you are exposed to the stress-inducing warfare of two members of a different species. The consolation, however, is that you can hear the couple chuckling on the other end of the camera. Parrots, very emotionally attuned creatures, will often go to great lengths to improve their human companions’ moods. Perhaps this parrot discovered that by mimicking an argument while it seeded, he could effectively derail it.

Arikia On Her Phone: A Photo-essay by Gabrielle Motola

I once traveled through the Sahara desert with one of the best photographers and amazing human beings I have ever met, Gabrielle Motola. She found it funny that I was always on my phone. Here is a brief view through her lens.

Arikia Millikan on her phoneArikia Millikan on her phone, againArikia Millikan on her phone

Arikia Millikan on her phone, once more Looking forward to many adventures to come with Ms. Motola <3