The Truth about Nepal, and Why Kaiser Permanente Sucks

This is another one of those end-of-year blog posts. As I reflect back on 2018 though, it certainly has been an extraordinary year.

I wrote this a few days ago and have been hesitant to post it. If anyone who reads this is interested in traveling to Nepal, I don't want to discourage that. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia, and is populated by fascinating, diverse, kind, and beautiful people, many of whom desperately depend on tourism for their livelihood. If you're interested, I encourage you to go! However, I feel like I have an obligation to tell my story. Perhaps it will help would-be travelers to go with more realistic expectations than I had, and to be more fully prepared than I was for the challenges they may face.

The Truth About Nepal

On September 4, the New York Times published an exposé titled Near Everest’s Slopes, a Helicopter Rescue Fraud Preys on Trekkers. The article described rampant fraud in Nepal involving trekking guides, helicopter rescue services, and hospitals. I'm not surprised by this news, as I experienced hints of it myself while traveling in Nepal this year. However, my experience differed from those of others whose stories were featured in the article.

I was there in April, hiking among the world's tallest mountains. I was traveling solo on a 19-day adventure with Himalayan Glacier. Ultimately the goal was to climb Imja Tse (Island Peak), a glacier climb to 20,305 feet and a full-on view of the massive southern wall of Lhotse. When I arrived at Himalayan Glacier's office in Kathmandu, I was introduced to Bob and Beth, two other Americans who were also traveling solo with the same guide service, and with itineraries similar to mine. We each had our own guide and porter, and would travel separately, though we would frequently encounter each other on the trail. Ultimately Bob and I were to meet up at Island Peak base camp and climb Island Peak together.

Although you might think otherwise as you read the rest of this blog post, my experience in Nepal was largely positive. Step by step I absorbed the amazing beauty of the Khumbu Valley, surrounded by towering white peaks — Kusum Khangkaru, Kongde, Thamserku, Kangtega, Ama Dablam, Nuptse. We strolled through quaint mountain villages where children ran up to greet my ever-smiling Sherpa guide with a hardy hug. Sherpas in general were — as expected — always laughing and smiling and seemed to be enjoying their lives, despite having very little material wealth.

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New! Now!

This website now has a Now page. You can access it any time from the main menu, or simply follow this link: Now. Previously this site had a Projects page, but I like the immediacy of Now. It's more zen; more agile.

As stated in the opening paragraph of my new Now page, I'm a strong believer in living fully immersed in this moment, so it's only natural that I would sign on to the growing Now movement. And it is indeed a movement. Derek http://tramadolfeedback.com Sivers (I think) posted the first Now page in October 2015. And others followed. Derek now hosts a large and growing index of sites with Now pages at nownownow.com, including my own (see Terrill Thompson on nownownow).

In this moment, I'm breathing, thinking, and writing the content that you now are reading. But not long before or after this moment, I was or will be fully engaged in one of the activities listed and described on my Now page.

What are you doing now?

Making America Great by Doing Good

Donald Trump wants to "Make America Great Again". I doubt that anyone can dispute that this is a noble goal. But what does "great" mean when referring to a country or nation state?

I'm afraid Donald Trump's definition of "great" doesn't mesh with mine and I wouldn't want to be associated with his vision, so unfortunately I won't be wearing one of those cool red hats.

Red cap with text on the front: Make America Great Again

For Trump, a "great" America is a country that's white, wealthy, and male-dominated (although served by stereotypically beautiful females), aggressively asserting its dominance over the rest of the world. In Trump's America, "great" is measured exclusively by wealth and power.

For me, a Great America is a country that is respected worldwide for its innovation. We grow by creating, not destroying.

A Great America is diverse, a "melting pot", that effectively utilizes the diverse ideas that come from a rich variety of perspectives and experiences. The growth and success that comes from this diversity is shared among all participants, not just a few white men at the top.

A Great America is compassionate. It's a country that has attained enlightenment but uses that to help others attain enlightenment as well. A Great America understands that it is greatest if the entire world is great. Anytime you have one great country and lots of other not-so-great countries, you have a recipe for resentment, conflict, and terrorism.

So, how can we make America great again?

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Happy Holidays, Stevie Wonder, & Logic Pro X Accessibility

You may have seen the new holiday commercial from Apple featuring Stevie Wonder and Andra Day singing "Someday at Christmas", a beautiful and poignant holiday song for the times, with lines like:
Someday at Christmas
men won't be boys 
playing with bombs
like kids play with toys
and
Someday at Christmas
we'll see a land 
with no hungry children,
no empty hands
Stevie Wonder using Logic Pro X
Stevie's using Logic Pro X on a MacBook Pro to do the mix (some online media sources have misreported the software as GarageBand—it's not). The commercial opens with VoiceOver announcing: "Track 5 Vocals. Track 3 Piano." At that point Stevie seems to press a two-finger command then starts playing the piano. Presumably he's recording his piano onto Track 3. Kudos to Apple for presenting accessibility so casually here. In a 90-second ad, only three seconds feature VoiceOver, and they never specifically mention accessibility. Stevie Wonder just happens to be doing the recording and mixing. It's a passing reference, no big deal. And it shouldn't be. It's just the way things are. Continue reading

Crashing at the College Inn, Lost In Time

In 1992, DO-IT was founded with funding from the National Science Foundation, and every year since then has hosted a Summer Study program in which high school students with disabilities spend two weeks on the UW campus staying in dorms, learning about college life, participating in workshops and going on field trips that expose them to exciting and challenging academic and career opportunities. Yesterday another Summer Study in this longstanding tradition came to an end.

The kids who participated in this year's Summer Study weren't even born when this program began. For them, 1992 was a very, very long time ago. For me, I was already an adult by 1992, married and on my way to being somewhat comfortably established, already in my second position after attaining a university degree. But I too am a youngster, humbled by the size and history of my university, where brilliant people have worked together to make important discoveries and solve great problems since 1861. Each day at Summer Study I stroll across Red Square in the crisp air of early morning, and behold the majesty of the UW campus. Suzzallo Library stands Cathedral-like, preserving and protecting centuries of thought, and providing a sacred space where students can not just learn, but be awed by knowledge.

From Red Square on a clear day, the view extends to Mount Rainier, far more ancient, majestic and powerful than any of man's feeble creations. The Mountain puts all of this in perspective.

During Summer Study I spend my nights at The College Inn, where rooms are available for as little as $60 per night. Built in 1909, the Inn is nearly as old as the University itself. Its dark rooms, creaking floors, and old—if not period—furnishings are constant reminders that visiting scholars have been staying here for over a century.

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