Tuesday, September 22, 2015

there's an app for that

Travel has long been a linch-pin of my life.

I suspect that is why I joined the Air Force after I left college.  The Navy sold itself as an institution to join and see the world.  I opted for a more aerial option.

And a good choice it was.  Both on active duty and as a reservist, I ended up seeing far more of the world than an average son of southern Oregon would.  Mainly Europe -- with a few more exotic excursions tossed in for spice.

At one point, I had an almost-classroom-quality world map that was populated by brightly-colored pins -- each color designating the type of trip that took me to Berlin or Saigon or Rio de Janiero.  I say "type of trip" because once the Air Force had infected me with the travel bug, I tried to get as many countries as I could on my own.

It is hard to break some travel habits, though.  I first visited Florence in 1974 -- and it became my favorite world city.  I am not certain how many times I have visited, but my wall map soon looked as if the natural migration pattern of colored pins was to Europe.  And that was before there was a civil war in Syria.

When I moved to Mexico, I threw away almost all of my maps -- including the wall map.  I have long been looking for an alternative.

And I found it.  If I had given much thought to it (or if I had been a better child of the digital age), I would have had my answer long ago.  It was right there on my HTC smartphone.  A telephone that is far smarter than its owner.

The application bears the rather mundane moniker "Countries Been."  But I guess that is the post-postmodern way.  Things bear utilitarian names.

It gives three alternatives: "been" -- for countries visited; "lived" -- for countries where roots have been established for some other than a visit; and "want" -- well, you know.  Once chosen, a world map is created with color codes to reflect what pins once did.  In my case, the mix of countries looks like a rather odd trade union organization.

Because I have had a tendency to visit countries with large land masses, I appear to be far more traveled than I am.  But details matter.  The map on my telephone chides me, even though I have visited or lived in 64 countries, the number constitutes only 26% of the possible places to visit on the application's list.

My instinct is to pull out the valises and to add more green territory to the map.  That is, as soon as my foot gets back to a normal size.

Or I could simply sit on my laurels -- that is what I have taken to calling it these days -- for awhile.

Of course, if I print out the map and start poking pins in it, you will know I have truly reverted to old school days.

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