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Showing posts from September, 2013

The Saturday Evening blogPost: The off-the-beaten-path Travel Log, Gran Canaria

It was 1988 and I was teaching at an international school in Salzburg, Austria. It was late May, and school had just ended for the year, meaning that the traveling season for my fellow teachers and I was just beginning. My friends Bill and Chief and I had been planning to hike from the Italian/Austrian border, across the spine of the Austrian Alps, to the German/Austrian border, staying at Alpine Mountain Huts at night. I had been looking forward to the trip all year, but when it arrived the weather forecast was a deal breaker: cloudy, raining and cold. So, we improvised, and rode our bikes downtown and found a travel agent offering last minutes deals on trips that other people had already bought and paid for and then cancelled last minute. A few hours later we were on board a plane for Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. To be honest, I had never even heard of the place, but it had been a dreary spring in Salzburg, and the travel agent had promised us sunshine (or that's how I translated

The Thursday afternoon #MiniPost, because small is the new big.

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Let me get this right out in the open: The Thursday afternoon #MiniPost is not sponsored by Mini, not yet anyway, but it is inspired by Mini. True to its name, this post will be shorter than most, easy to park, good on fuel--and oh so fun to drive. Part of the genesis of this creation is my theory is that small is the new big. Don't believe me? Let me direct your attention to my first (and only) item of evidence, Twitter. 200 million users--135K new users every day--can not be wrong. And why is Twitter so popular, you ask? Because we all have a limited attention span, that's why. There is a global ADD out there that makes the novelist in me very scared. On the less pessimistic side, there is something that Twitter can teach us: How to be concise. It never ceases to amaze me how much a talented writer can do with 140 characters. We blabber on about this all the time talking about writing prose: get your message across with as few words as possible, if a word can be cut out,

The Saturday Evening blogPost, #2: Travel Diary, The Cinque Terre

It was twenty-five years ago and I was on a train going through southern France, or perhaps it was Spain, I honestly can't remember. But I do remember running into this guy in the dining car, called himself Chris. He was a cheesecake guy; the first five minutes talking to him, like the first bite of cheesecake, was flavorful. The next ten minutes, like the next few bites, were pretty good, although not quite as good as the first bite. And then, out of nowhere, the fried calamari, the six pieces of bread, the Caesar salad draped with anchovies, and the steak that looked like an entire side of beef catches up with you and you can't stomach even the thought of another bite. This is what the next hour of talking to Chris was like, only with lots of gas. Imagine hoping for a bout of cholera or other highly infectious and unpleasant disease in order to encourage him to find someone else to tell his embellished stories to. Of course, I can only blame myself, as there were clues early,

The first ever installment of PeterHogenkampWrites:the Saturday Evening BlogPost: The near occasion of writing.

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Ok, you guessed it: I am a big Norman Rockwell fan. My office is full of his prints, including this one which a friend made for me with needlepoint. In his honor, I am going to (try, real hard, to) publish a blog post every week (you guessed it, on Saturday evening). There are a number of reasons for this effort, chief among them that I haven't written an original post in almost two weeks (There is no truth to the rumor that this coincides with the start of football season.) So, the topic of the first installment? The near occasion of writing. In case you are wondering where this title came from, it comes from The Act of Contrition which Sister Ruth taught me in the second grade. (And I know that nuns have made great fodder for artistic medium of all kinds--books, plays, movies, Saturday Night Live skits--but Sister Ruth was a kind and sympathetic person who could look past someone's faults--and I had quite a few--to see the good in someone.) One of the things I love to d