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Leave work for a year to go live on a remote island? How a TED Talk inspired me to take a mid-career sabbatical

July 9, 2014
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This is a particularly appealing story for many of us in stressful but stressful careers. I don’t think I could have done it but the idea is truly appealing.

Originally posted on TED Blog:

Winston Chen's son, then TK-years-old, walks across a beach on a stormy day. Photo: Winston Chen

Winston Chen left his job at a software company in Boston and moved his family to the island of Rødøy, population 108, for a year. Here, Chen’s son walks across a deserted beach on a stormy day. Photo: Winston Chen

By Winston Chen

Odysseus…Gauguin…Robinson Crusoe…and me?

Many people dream of the ultimate escape: throwing all the baggage of civilization away and taking off to live on a remote island. But few people—particularly professional couples with young kids—actually go through with it. And yet, that’s just what my family did: we left Boston, and my reliable job at a software company, to go live on a tiny island north of the Arctic Circle for a year, unsure of what exactly we’d do there or what we would face upon our return.

[ted_talkteaser id=649]The seed of this idea was planted three years before, when a friend made me watch a TED Talk by…

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Good Sailors

July 5, 2014


Found this and thought it worthy of re posting.

Originally posted on Poetry: Because Obscurity is a Sin:

At 73 he looks damn good,
what improves him even more
is her smile when she looks
at him.
He and I lean against the stone
and watch the big ships
come in.
“No pump works here,
the lake simply finds
it’s level.”
The level I think to
myself is as it pleases;
the docile walk along
the rocky shore and love
in the evening
the scream of the supernatural
and the breaking backs of
all tall and iron ships.
Not all good sailors make 73.

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12 Things to Do Around Caseville if Your Bored with the Cheeseburger Festival

July 2, 2014

The Cheeseburger in Caseville festival will be a fun filled family event with plenty to do and see. However there is only so much grass skirt, trinket stands and cheeseburgers that one can handle for the multi-weekend event. What else is there to do in the Upper Thumb? Here are some suggestions if you, or more likely the kids, have had enough fun with the parrot head life.

Caseville Giant Slide1. Giant Slide – Refurbished in 2012, this offers classic fun and great photo and video opportunities The whole family or group of friends can race down a huge multi-lane slide. Great for working off that extra cheeseburger and fries. Located on the south side of Caseville toward Bayport.

2. Go Karts – For 2014 there is a full featured go-kart track in  Port Austin. As an adult you can take the little ones on a full throttle ride around a great winding track. Check out Family Go Karts in Port Austin south of town off of M-53 for sports a full racing track.

3. Miniature Golf - There are numerous classic Putt-Putt and other family friendly courses in Port Austin, Caseville and Kinde. While the adults think of these as trite and insignificant, the kids will remember these little family jaunts for a lifetime. Take advantage of these roadside attractions before they disappear to X Box video games. The biggest of the miniture golf circuit is Sandy Dunes Adventure Golf. It’s short drive east of Caseville this modern course sports Huron County’s largest, (and only), waterfall in the Thumb.

4. Giant Water Slide and Climbing Rock - Cool off going down a huge water jet slide or try your hand at climbing a 25 foot alpine rock. Open seven Kinde Water Slidedays a week noon to 6pm. This adventure is located in Kinde. Kinde is south of Port Austin on M-53.

Bayport Fish Company5. Bayport Fish Company - Visit one of the few remaining operational commercial fish operations on the Great Lakes. Purchase fresh fish on-site and watch the operations. (Hope you like the smell of fish). If your in Caseville you can see their vessel Osprey tied up south of the break wall. Open seven days a week.

6. Port Austin Farmers Market – Open Saturday mornings during the summer season. Crafts, fresh locally produced fruits and vegetables, craft foods and flea market items.  Considered the largest open-air market in the Thumb. Port Austin

7. Octagon Barn - The Thumb Octagon Barn Agricultural Museum is located in Tuscola County approximately 1 mile east of the Village of Gagetown along Bay City Forestville Road 1 mile north on Richie Road, just south of the Huron County border.

8. Huron City Museum -  See Huron County has it thrived in the late 1800′s. The House of Seven Gables, a beautifully preserved Victorian home, sits on a bluff overlooking Lake Huron. The General Store, a Methodist church, an inn and barns were built during the 1880′s. With a post office, general store, a rooming house and mills, Huron City was well equipped to serve the northern county farmer. Huron City.

Huron County Nature Center9. Huron County Nature Center & Wilderness Arboretum -A 280 acre Nature Center established on a tract of untouched land in Hume Township, Michigan, the Huron County Nature Center and Wilderness Arboretum  has been under the tender care of the Huron County Women’s Clubs since 1941. Located halfway between Caseville and Port Austin across from Oak Beach.


10. Hit the Beach - There are numerous public beaches throughout Huron County in which to cool off, enjoy a picnic while the kids play iHuron County Beachesn the playground. Most beaches offer ample parking with some with picnic tables, restroom and changing areas and grills for making your own cheeseburger.


Caseville Musuem11. Caseville Museum - Located just one block from Main Street in Caseville you can see artifacts and local treasures from yesteryear. Special events are often held weekly and it offers a quick diversion from the crowds.




12. Rush Lake and Sand Road ORV – Located just south of Sleeper State Park this unimproved road runs from Caseville to Port Austin by way of various roads and trails. If you have a 4×4  and want to try your hand at light off-roading this is worth an hour of looking around the woods. Sand RoaRush lake caseilled is found about a mile south of the cross streets of M-23 and State Park Road. Be prepared. The road is sometimes impassable after rain and the sand can get deep. Only the most adventurous find the ancient and reedy Rush Lake. There are numerous hiking and biking paths. As most of this is on state land its best to have your State Park Passport and ORV sticker in case the DNR stops you.




Michigan’s Arsenic Problem is One of the Worst in the Nation. The Thumb Area is the worst in the State.

July 1, 2014

Before you drink another drop of water from your well in the Upper Thumb read this report from Michigan Public Radio. Interactive maps show the Thumb region has the worst in the state for arsenic in well water.


via Michigan’s arsenic problem is among the worst in the nation. Here’s why that matters. | Michigan Radio.

Sustainability in the Hen House

July 1, 2014

There has been extensive coverage about urban farming over the past several years. In fact several states and cities have relaxed regulations to allow small scale urban farms in order to encourage local sustainable practices. Hantz Woodlands in Detroit is using vacant land in downtown Detroit to grow Oaks, Maples and other prized hardwoods in the city. Groups such as the Urban Farming Initiative are a non-profit group that looks to utilize vacant land to encourage job growth and provide locally grown food using sustainable practices throughout metro Detroit. This practice is growing and looks to be encouraged by the opBlue_Andalusianening of local farmers markets in many metro areas.

One entrepreneur is taking the sustainable concept to the next step. Heather van Wolf operates Honey Hollow Farms whose mantra is “Species Conservation, Organic Eggs, Compost, Beekeeping and Exotics”. Heather specializes in the conservation of several species of endangered poultry. Heather’s Hatchery has many varities including the critically endangered Blue Andalusian and Black Sumatra chicken and Ancona duck. Fertile eggs are available for sale to breeders through Amazon and Ebay. Other products are also in the works such as Black Bear Delight honey

Heather’s website was just launched last week. It’s worth checking out if you’re a breeder or a prospective backyard farmer

CNN – Huron’s Turnip Rock An “Amazing Formation in America”

May 23, 2014

Cable News Network, CNN, has declared Huron County’s Turnip Rock one of America’s most amazing, or weird, rock formations. Located on private property and accessible only by canoe or kayak explorers to the site are treated to an amazing limestone formation just off the beach.  The formation has been described as:

This enormous rock received its turnip connotation from thousands of years of erosion from storm waves. Now, it is an island with a few trees and little other vegetation. The land nearby is all privately owned, so the only way to view it is by waterway or trekking across a frozen Lake Huron in the winter. It is quite the comedic, awe-inspiring landmark, located at the tip of Michigan’s thumb.” –

See the story at CNN America’s weird and amazing rock formations

The United States’ Obligation Concerning The Great Lakes

May 14, 2014


Dangerous and Ignorant. These are the first thoughts that went from my head to the keyboard. Now  even in reflection my opinion hasn’t changed. You be the judge.

Originally posted on Nicola Hallenborg's Portfolio:

There is no denying that the United States is a country of plenty. Being one of the wealthiest nations in the world, most of its citizens have electricity, access to healthcare, educational opportunities, and plenty of food. The basic necessities of life are taken for granted. Yet, despite this abundance, due mostly to winning the geographic lottery rather than any merit of its own, the United States continues to take from the rest of the world, instead of giving back to the less fortunate. Through this good fortune of having so many natural resources and technologies at our fingertips, the United States should be doing more to help the rest of the world. The Global Water Crisis, especially, deserves this attention. There is an issue regarding the severe lack of water in most areas of the world, and the United States, being so well stocked of resources and alliances abroad…

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