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Thursday, February 17, 2011

New at ActiveTravels

Today marks my 400th blog entry. To all of my subscribers, I want to thank you for sticking with me. To everyone else, you can simply go through the list of categories on the home page to find biking, green travel, lodging, family adventure, and many more topics that interest you. In the upcoming month, I’ll be updating the Go Play section of the website to include much more content on the outdoors from previously published articles that will be useful as a reference for any upcoming trip. I’ve also started to add video to my YouTube page and I’m working on a Facebook fan page that will be updated often. You can also follow me on Twitter at @ActiveTravels and visit Everett Potter’s Travel Report, where I’m a weekly contributor. Thanks again for checking in!
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/17/11 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, February 11, 2011

A World of Adventure at the Boston Globe Travel Show Tomorrow

For those of you in the region, I’ll be leading a panel at the Boston Globe Travel Show tomorrow on “The World of Adventure.” A very generic name for what many travelers are really yearning for, an authentic travel experience. A truly authentic vacation refuses to be prepackaged and is hard to emulate. Indeed, it’s the opportunity to live like a local for one hour, one day, or one week. The panel includes Rob Burbank from The Appalachian Mountain Club, Judy Allpress from The Wayfarers Walking Vacations, and Joe Luchison from Ciclismo Classico, as we discuss off-the-beaten-track locales to hike, bike, and paddle across the globe. The talk takes place from 10:15-11 am, Saturday, at the Seaport World Trade Center. Hope to see you there! If not, do something active this weekend.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/11/11 at 02:00 PM
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Join the Freelancers Union

These past several years have been tough on all of us. In the beginning of 2009, I lost many of my editors, who went down with the death of their magazine or were simply let go. The need for editorial content was reduced to a trickle because those sought after advertising dollars that the publishing world feeds on was gone. Yet, even though I was making very little, I couldn’t receive unemployment benefits because I was self-employed. Independent workers comprise one of the fastest growing sectors of the American economy, almost 1/3 of all workers, yet we’re still not recognized by the Department of Labor. When my freelance work started to pick up again, several publishers made me wait over six to seven months to be paid. Twice, I had to use the services of a good friend who’s a lawyer to make sure my check was forthcoming. We were lucky the first time when he realized that one of the investors in a website I wrote for does business with his law firm. One simple phone call to that investor and I was paid within the week. When a company’s employee is not paid, they can go to a state’s Department of Labor who can levy fines and impose jail time on that employer. All an independent contractor can do is ask repeatedly and then go to a small claims court.

So when I heard about the Freelancers Union that is now 150,000 members strong and growing quickly, one that has its own Political Action Committee to fight for the rights of the self-employed, I immediately joined. The union was started by Sara Horowitz 16 years ago and she has since received a MacArthur “genius” grant for her work. Based in New York, Horowitz graduated from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, or ILR as it was dubbed when my brother, Jim, graduated. She then went on to get her law degree and work as a public defender, before spending a year at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. So far, IT professionals, television and film producers, advertising workers, and graphic designers make up the bulk of the union, but freelance writers and other self-employed workers would be wise to join the swelling ranks. The Freelancers Union has already opened an insurance company to help with health care, and is working diligently to create unemployment protection, fight against unpaid wages, and eliminate any punitive double taxes on independent workers, like the one in New York City that was recently thrown out. Please go to the Freelancers Union website and become a member.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/28/11 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, January 24, 2011

The New 7 Wonders of Nature

A Swiss-based organization is sponsoring a campaign on the web to vote for your favorite natural wonder. A list of 28 finalists has already been announced and they include Ireland’s Cliffs of Moher, Table Mountain in Capetown, and New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy, and America’s lone entry in the contest, the Grand Canyon. Some 1 billion votes are expected by 11/11/11, when the final 7 will be announced.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 01/24/11 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Choice Music Cuts of 2010

Most people think the life of a travel writer is glamorous. Realistically, I’m only on the road a quarter of the year. The rest of my time is spent chained to a desk cranking out stories on my third-floor home office in solitude. To overcome my hermetic existence, I crank up the tunes. In fact, I savor music far more than literature, with most of my day listening to iTunes and Pandora. One of my favorite times of the year is when the Boston Globe music critics put out their list of top CDs. In the past, I found favorites like Passion Pit and Jamie Lidell on this list. This year, there are some strong Jazz songs like young trumpeter Erik Telford and his smoking groove, “Kinetic.” Also good is the live sax playing of the Sherman Irby Quarter. Check out the tune “Bohemia After Dark.” R&B and Electronica were pretty weak this year, though I did like “Locked Inside” from Janelle Monae’s first CD and “Low Shoulders” from the chillhouse sounds of Toro y Moi.

The strongest genre by far was hip-hop. Forgot about all the airplay Eminem, Kanye, and Drake receive. Listen to “Famous” by Curren$y, “Leaders” by Nas and Damian Marley, “Angels” from Diddy’s surprisingly good “Last Train to Paris” release, and Big Boi’s “Night Night.” However, my choice for album of the year goes to Rick Ross and his “Teflon Don.” Listen to the symphonic “Maybach Music III,” featuring my girl Erykah Badu, and just wait for Ross to come in at the end with that take-no-prisoners voice. Oh yeah, I’m ready to kick some ass.

As always, thanks for checking in. I’ll be back with my “Top 5 Adventures in 2010” on January 3rd.  Wishing You a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous 2011!

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/23/10 at 02:00 PM
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Amman Imman: Water is Life

Today, I’m pleased to introduce my first guest blogger on ActiveTravels, my brother Jim Jermanok. I hope it will be the first of many guest writers!

Five years ago, following graduation from Yale, Ariane Kirtley went to West Africa as a Fulbright Scholar. Her career seemed assured. Almost overnight her life changed. Friends encouraged her to visit the Florida-sized Azawak Valley, the most abandoned region of Niger, the poorest country on Earth. In the Azawak, half the children die before reaching five years old, often of thirst. Ariane thought she’d seen everything in Africa, but she was so devastated by the conditions she found that she decided to dedicate her life to the people of the Azawak, and bring them water from unlimited supplies 600-1000 feet underground, much too deep for conventional wells to reach.
 
Since 2006, Ariane has worked against harrowing odds to save lives in the Azawak, among some of the most defenseless minorities in Africa – a half million Tuareg and Wodaabe nomads who have no water most of the year due to unremitting drought. Ariane set aside career goals and founded her own organization, Amman Imman: Water Is Life, to build permanent borehole wells for these nomads. Working far from civilization in suffocating Saharan heat, facing persistent health risks, Ariane and her team do major infrastructure work normally carried out by governments. In early 2010, persevering under the threat of Al-Qaida terrorists, she finished building her second borehole, the Kijigari “Well of Love.” This follows completion of Tangarwashane borehole in 2007-08. Each borehole serves 25,000 people and animals. 
 
Ariane’s dream is to build fifty such “Oases of Life” to eliminate water scarcity for the half million forsaken people of the Azawak. During this Holiday Season, please think about helping this brave woman save the lives of children and nomads who are on the brink, by donating generously to her 501c3 organization, Amman Imman: Water Is Life
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/09/10 at 02:00 PM
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Monday, October 04, 2010

Tauck Tours Announces Partnership with Ken Burns

Ken Burns, the documentarian known for his PBS series on the “Civil War,” “Baseball,” and “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” has just teamed up with Tauck World Discovery to create tours based on his documentaries. Burns will also create a series of short films to help supplement the itineraries, which are located throughout the US. Tauck, who has been bringing guests to the National Parks since 1926 and currently has 12 parks on its itinerary, seems like a perfect fit for Burns’ wealth of history. Stuck on a bus between sites, you might as well learn everything you need to know about the creation of Yellowstone National Park before you arrive. The first tour starts in 2011.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/04/10 at 01:00 PM
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Friday, October 01, 2010

Beyond the Craft

Each semester, I’m asked to speak at classes at Emerson College and Boston University on both magazine writing and screenwriting. On Tuesday night, when I return to Emerson, I will bring a thick folder of more than 200 rejection letters. It includes my favorite from Mad Magazine, a check next to a line that reads: “It just didn’t tickle our funny bone.” Universities do a wonderful job of teaching the craft of writing, but rarely touch on the psychological aspects of rejection and the necessary business skills to market your wares. Close to half my time, especially in those early years, was spent peddling my writing to editors and production companies. And almost every day, I would return from the mailbox with a stack of rejection letters. It was an incredible struggle, the reason why many of the creative people I met in New York are no longer in the business.

Dealing with rejection and building a strong support group to help attain your creative aspirations is just one of the numerous topics my brother, Jim, and I will discuss in a 3-hour seminar we’re doing in Boston, Providence, Portland, New Bedford, and Stamford this October. Called Beyond the Craft: How to Be Proactive and Take Charge of Your Creative Career, the motivational workshop will also delve into finding mentors to guide you, distinguishing yourself from the rest of the pack, the art of schmoozing, creating an effective networking system, finding time to work on your craft while paying the rent, and getting your work out there any way possible.

For close to a decade, Jim worked as a talent agent at ICM representing some of the entertainment world’s greatest success stories—Academy-Award winning actor Alan Arkin, the grande dame of Broadway, Helen Hayes, and the most popular man on television in the 80s, “the Fonz,” otherwise known as Henry Winkler. When he left that job to pursue his creative ambitions as screenwriter, director, and producer, he would face wave after wave of rejection, often wondering how people like Alan Arkin and Helen Hayes could endure such negativity and hardship to make it to the top. His relentless perseverance and serious dose of patience have paid off with the release of the critically acclaimed Samuel Goldwyn film, Passionada (which I co-wrote), in 2003, and the heart-wrenching, Em, winner of the Grand Jury Prize as best film in the 2008 Seattle Film Festival. Please help spread the word. Thank you!   
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 10/01/10 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sharpen Your Photography Skills with Robert Kaufman in Boston

Robert Kaufman might not be a household name, but more than likely you’ve seen his photography gracing the walls of hotel lobbies around the globe or on that monthly calendar you look at every day. He’s spent the past 30 years traveling to every nook and cranny in Italy, not merely photographing iconic structures like the Tower of Pisa but more energetic street scenes ripe with spontaneity and whimsy. Also ripe are his collection of Edibles, fruit and vegetables so damn sensual, you want to lick the paper it’s printed on. Now the talented man behind the lens is appearing front and center in a 2-day workshop. On two consecutive Saturdays, October 2nd and October 9th, Kaufman will share the secrets of being a professional photographer these past 30 years. He’ll discuss the technical aspects of your camera before accompanying you on a field trip to get that special photo. Then you’ll analyze your work back in the group. Cost of the 2-day workshop is $199. Call 617-964-4080 to register or visit www.SilverVisions.com.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/21/10 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Saturday, September 18, is Maine Lighthouse Day

This coming Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm, 25 lighthouses around Maine that are usually closed to the public will open their doors for the second annual Lighthouse Day. The list includes my personal favorite, Portland Head Light, made famous by Edward Hopper, Curtis Island Lighthouse overlooking Camden Harbor, and a lighthouse I saw close up earlier in the summer, the red and white West Quoddy Head in Lubec. Lighthouse historians Bill Thomson and Jeremy D’Entremont will do a presentation at Portland Head Light at 10 am. 

Illustration created by Alan Claude


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 09/15/10 at 01:00 PM
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photo of Steve Jermanok
Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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