Thursday, March 25, 2010

Waiting in lines and name-calling

I’m good at waiting in lines. I have a lot of experience. During language training, I studied Spanish vocabulary while in line for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s a lot of vocabulary.

I stood in line at a hospital in Argentina once. I spent most of my time just being hungry.

And then there’s Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida, with lines wrapping around entire buildings, spiraling upwards to the entrances of a variety of theme park rides.
Thirty minutes into our wait, we stood in one such line only halfway to our destination on a tower above a waiting crowd.

In boredom, one member of our group leaned over the railing and shouted to someone he seemed to know in the crowd below whose name was Bill.
In unison, everyone named Bill looked up curiously to see who it was that knew them so well so far ahead of them in line. Soon, we were calling out more names such as Bob, Mary, Jane, and Jim. Each time, they looked up when their name was called. Time passed much more swiftly after that.

Dale Carnegie once said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” And while there are no lines, entry fees, or hecklers shouting out random names on Uncharted, you will likely find some pretty interesting nomenclature among the ranks of our growing band of explorers, now scattered around the world, each sharing their own set of adventures.

Take Yellowpaws for example. She’s from Marysville, Washington and has lived in New Jersey, Michigan, and Nebraska. Before she dies, she wants to go to Africa, Egypt, and dive with Great White sharks. You can see one of her most recent adventures, dogsledding in British Columbia, now featured on our home page. Yellowpaws writes of her adventure, “Our time for the sled ride finally came and I have to say - 45 minutes felt like 10 minutes. The beautiful day and surrounding scenery held your eye, while the rush of the wind and pull of the dogs kept your heart beating hard!”

Then there’s Arati, from Kathmandu, Nepal. She likes travel, books and photography. Arati shares a variety of scenic photos from her homeland. You can learn more about Arati on her own explorer page.

Of course, members of our Uncharted Staff, sometimes those who aren’t necessarily professional photographers and writers, are working hard to share with you their own adventures as well. They do this all on their spare time. This time is no exception as our communications/marketing director shares his family tradition of making maple syrup in Eastern Michigan.

So, you don’t have to be a professional to share and you don’t have to stop at just reading stories or viewing photos. If you’re a member of Uncharted, (it's free) you can post comments, link up with explorers and staff and message them through Uncharted email. And it’s just possible that one of your adventures will catch our eye and end up featured on the home page. That’s what Uncharted is all about. We’re a community of friends looking to bring the world to you and you to the world one journey at a time.

Alan Murray is Executive Director of Uncharted.
He likes sea horses
and snowshoes and frequently
the urge to leave the country. To contact Alan,
feel free to email
him at

Friday, March 19, 2010

Nicholas Murray Butler, Bill Murray, and Alan Murray -- Thoughts on Columbia

Eating lunch in the Low Memorial Library at New York's Columbia University brings back fond memories. For instance, I remember when a spider bit an unsuspecting Peter Parker during a campus tour, transforming him into a wall-crawling superhero. Parker, now Spider-Man, would later become a student at Columbia University.

And then there's Weaver Hall, not far from the library, where three eccentric scientists were fired by the dean. The words echo, "You are a poor scientist, Dr. Venkman! And you have no place in this department, or this university."
Shortly after, back at Low Memorial Library, future Ghostbusters sat, just outside, mourning the death of the Department of Parapsychology.

Of course, I didn't see any spiders, there is no Weaver Hall (though I looked) and Columbia University really doesn't have a Department of Parapsychology, but it's fun to imagine over lunch.

And there's more to the Low Memorial Library than movie trivia. It's also the place where the Pulitzer Prizes are awarded each year. It's a place that inspires, where greatness has left its footprints––like Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, former President of Columbia University. Butler once said, "Those people who think only of themselves are hopelessly uneducated. They are not educated no matter how instructed they may be." I believe that and I think President Butler would be proud at how much Columbia University does think of others, no doubt, inspired in part by the legacy he left behind.

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association's 86th annual Spring convention is a prime example of thinking of others. This week, over 300 guest speakers, professionals and publication advisors from around the country, converged on campus, volunteering their expertise for over 400 unique sessions over three days, anything from reporting and photography, to design and leadership, and much, much more.

And it's not just workshops. This army of experts were on hand throughout the convention to offer critiques on newspapers, yearbooks, photography, and websites. They come at great expense of both time and money. Their passion for education is contagious. Truly, they fit President Butler's definition of true education, for they think of others time and time again.

For me, it is an honor to participate, a chance for Uncharted to reach out and think of others and I look forward to each invitation. I always walk on campus thinking, "Mr. Murray, you have no place in this convention, or in this university." Each time I teach I come back better than I arrived. I always learn from the students and advisors attending my session.

This time was no exception as I shared and discussed leadership principles and models that have been invaluable in the founding of Uncharted and its growing success. The students attending my session are leaders on their campus publications. They were eager to learn, their questions were informative, their comments genuine, and their enthusiasm sincere. They could relate with the challenges of leadership. And they gave this instructor a lot to think about on the flight home.

Alan Murray is Executive Director of Uncharted.
He likes sea horses and snowshoes and

frequently has an impulsive urge to leave the country
To contact Alan you can send to:

Friday, March 5, 2010

Explorer clothing gear

If you're as fired up about Uncharted as I am, you've probably been wishing you had more clothing options for flaunting your Uncharted membership. Wish granted!

I just opened up a new Uncharted merchandise store online that allows us to buy clothing gear proudly displaying Uncharted's name and even the URL. The shirts are a great option for wear as we explore the uncharted, or even just wearing among friends and family in our daily routines. The prices are a bit higher than our former online store charged, but the quality is much higher. We had several complaints from our staff (self included) about the quality of the former store's merchandise, so this new store is an interim fix.

So come check it out and by all means order something that you like to show your commitment to exploring the uncharted!

Uncharted merchandise store-->

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March. Time to Start Vacation Planning

February is a long month for me. March brings hope. The melting snow. The first calls of the telephone bird, twittering away in the balmy 40-degree heat wave. I can start to see hints of pavement in the driveway.

And we start thinking about vacation.

I've still got last year's vacation -- to Oregon -- on my mind. And that brings us to this week's update over at Uncharted: While wandering the beach at Seaside, I found a serene man walking the beach, digging clams. So amid the flurry of ice cream cone-toting tourists and ice cream cone-stealing seagulls, he showed me the finer points of diggind razor clams. They're ugly little monsters, but cooked up in chowder, they're mighty tasty.