How you live changes your brain: Iceland

Milton Glaser is truly my hero. Not only is he a genius designer but an extremely intelligent, articulate and outspoken communicator with a wry sense of humor. I won’t compare myself to him. I just wish I were him.

In 2001, I read a speech he gave which has since become my bible (more on that later). One of his lessons for aspiring designers (and no matter what your age or experience, you are still aspiring): How you live changes your brain. A fair interpretation of that might be, You’re only going to get so much out of sitting in front of that computer. So although this post doesn’t relate to design, maybe it does. Go figure.

With that preface out of the way: I woke up too early Saturday morning, jet-lagged and possibly hungover from 10+ hours of airplane chardonnay. I poured myself a tall glass of water, took a big gulp and nearly spit it back out. “This is NOT Icelandic glacier-fed water.” Ah, your brain does change. What Glaser doesn’t mention is that a taste of the good life will spoil you forever.

But yes, it was one of those surreal weekends in which one morning, you are offered pickled herring for breakfast in Reykjavík (I declined), and seemingly the next moment, you are spitting out your LA water and cranking up the AC.

By Sunday evening, I was sensible enough to edit 332 photos down to 131 keepers. And now I’ve whittled it down further to present the most brain-changing highlights that were coupled with good light.

Somewhere in between a $20 bowl of soup and a $12 beer…I’m sure Icelanders don’t even consider this scenery particularly remarkable.

I’ve already seen pristine white glaciers calving into an azure sea. Here’s one spooky glacier who’s spent too much time with erupting volcanoes.

This is the enchanting little town of Seyðisfjörður. If you can pronounce that, you win. We gave up and dubbed it “See this fjord here.”

Water, water everywhere. Be sure to empty your bladder before you set out for a day of sightseeing in Iceland.

If you suspect me of using some funky filter or contrast alteration, I didn’t. No cheating allowed.

They don’t call it Iceland for nothin. Har har

I guess I’m immune to earthquakes as I missed the ones that might have rocked me as I stood atop this crater.

The hills are alive.

On our last day, under the sunniest skies and warmest temperatures of the trip, we ran into an LA film crew, all of which reminded me a little too much of home. Well, with the exception that Kraft services was set up on a rocky beach surrounded by sculptural lava cliffs instead of the neighborhood Rite-Aid parking lot. It seems they were shooting a commercial for Uggs. In my experience, a good pair of Asolo boots will get you farther. (Dear God, I guess this qualifies as a “selfie”)


  • It really strikes me that there isn’t another soul in these pictures. It’s a refreshing contrast from Los Angeles.

  • Well, to be honest, there was some cropping involved. Who needs a crowd of gaudily jacketed tourists in your scenic photo?

  • January 30, 2015 at 5:06 am //

    Ah! Iceland! Look at the January picture of the waterfall Godafoss on my FB Home Page. Frozen in the air!