Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Full On Across the Sky

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Sometimes it’s hard to understand someone’s reaction until you experience something for yourself.

Have Fun Storming The Fake Castle!

Monday, June 15th, 2009

I was in Boise for business and after we had finished for the day I went running along the Boise River.  It’s a beautiful city with mountains and streams and all those other things Chicago lacks.

Then I ran by this and I liked Boise even more:


I’ve never seen live action role-playing (LARPing) in person before.  It looks… pretty… fun.

Who’s the Idiot With the Balloon?

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Yay!  Shama’s finally back from Ireland.  I went with her dad and brother to meet her at the airport, but before I did I stopped by Party City and got the largest non-Hannah-Montana balloon they had.  


We waited outside of Exit A, as instructed by the monitors,  for over an hour… but no Shama.  We saw the Aer Lingus flight attendants in their teal crazysuits come and go… but no Shama.  We started to worry — did they lose her luggage?  Did she pick a fight with a customs agent?  Did she turn into a being of pure energy and lose interest in humanity?

Finally, we saw a grumpy girl, head down, dragging bags behind her, pass right in front of us — coming from the opposite end of the terminal. 

Shama somehow managed to pass through the doors of Exit B and had been wandering the airport for the last 20 minutes wondering why no one bothered to meet her at the airport.  

Shama: I kept thinking, “Who’s the idiot with the balloon?”

That’s me.  I’m the idiot with the balloon.  Welcome home, Shama.

Joules and (Family) Jewels

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009


In London we happened to walk past a statue of Michael Faraday outside the Institution of Engineering and Technology.  I had Shama stop and take a picture of me with him.  (Nice pose, Evan.)

While we were walking away, another dude was getting another lady to take his picture in front of the statue. When I asked if he was an engineer too, the lady laughed, nodded,  and rolled her eyes.

In Dublin Shama had me stop and take a photo of her punching James Joyce in the balls.


I guess we all have our heroes.

Sweet Home

Monday, April 13th, 2009


In the London tube stations there were a bunch of travel ads for Chicago.  I didn’t see many ads for other places — maybe one or two for Aruba — but maybe I just didn’t notice the other places.  

The ads weren’t very good, but everytime I saw one I felt the need to point it out.  Look!  It’s Chicago!  I think it made Shama a little homesick.  It made me a little homesick too even though I’d only been gone for a couple weeks.

My Cousin is a Saint

Sunday, April 12th, 2009


I met up with my cousin Josh in Paris and we went to Versailles.  After a long day of wandering the many halls, we took a break in a room lined with marble busts of the heroes of France.

While we were resting, Josh told me that his friend is a sculptor working on a piece for a cathedral in Los Angeles, and wouldn’t you know it, he ended up using Josh as the model for Joseph.  We joked about a Jew modeling for a statue in a church, but Joseph was Jewish, so maybe it’s appropriate.  I can see the resemblance.

We agreed that Joseph seemed like a solid dude.

JOSH: I know the guy who modeled for Judas.

Cliffs of Insanity

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

People have different comfort levels on cliffs.  Some are pleased to view them from a distance while others need to peer over the edge.  Here’s Shama on Inishmore imitating a mountain goat.  That wall behind her, by the way, used to form a complete circle before half of it fell into the ocean!  Of course, that was over 1,000 years ago so she’s probably okay.  Probably.


Clown Car

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

We spent the last four days driving around Ireland in a Mitsubishi Colt.  This is one of those cars that they don’t sell in the US due to tininess.  Still, me, Shama, my brother, Shama’s friend Maureen, and two of her friends all managed to pile into the Colt and tour the countryside.  The most comfortable seat, I’m told, was in the hatchback.  

I wouldn’t know, however, since I got to sit in the front the whole time. Why?  Turns out I was the only one who knew how to drive stick.  That, combined with a lack of directions, the Irish insistence that people drive on the left side of the street, pint-sized lanes, and my general poor driving skills seemed to be a recipe for disaster.  Oddly, however, I felt a lot more comfortable driving here than in the US.  I think I’m a natural left-side driver, which might explain why I have so much trouble back home.

On the way to the Cliffs of Moher, we passed the Aussie Super Circus and Shama said we had to stop.  The show wouldn’t start for another 5 hours, but any passers-by would have been treated to an unadvertised clown car as we all piled out to look at the wallabies and emus.


Good Craic

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Well, shoot, I’m in Ireland. Observations so far: my extensive knowledge of phonics is practically useless here.  The first person we met was named Niamh but pronounced “Neeve.”  What?!

I’m still not sure if I want to take the time to post inane garbage from here, but in the mean time you can read Shama’s blog. She is a better writer than I and has a lot more to say about Ireland, having been here for 2 months already.

Here it is:

We Can Still Go On Adventures

Saturday, January 24th, 2009


Shama’s off to Ireland for 5 months.  

When Arnie’s girlfriend movied to Boston, I suggested that they should play World of Warcraft so they could still do things together, even if those things involve beheading orcs. 

I made the same suggestion to Shama and she seemed up for it, but after some research it turned out the game wouldn’t run on her computer.

Shama: Thank God.

Maybe we’ll play Puzzle Pirates instead.

That’s The Best Jesus You Could Find?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

My mom and I went and saw Jesus Christ Superstar. I always liked that show. It’s got some great, powerful songs that rock out and does a pretty good job with “The Greatest Story Ever Told” (in this Jew’s opinion.) The production we saw was headlined by Ted Neely, the original Jesus from the film version. Unfortunately, at 65, he’s twice as old as Jesus was when he died. Neely should have hung ‘em up at 33. He was… not good. The show also has a terrible ending. (Did you know he dies?!) After the big production number that should end the show, there’s a ten minute scene of Jesus gasping on the cross in agony. And… curtain.  And… applause?

Somehow I ended up talking about Jesus Christ Superstar with Shane at work. He mentioned that the Indigo Girls did a weird production of it with Amy as Jesus and Emily as Mary. I looked it up. Man, it is weird. There were some production decisions that make me wonder if the Indigo Girls have any concept of the actual story — the Jewish Priests are portrayed as nuns wearing giant crosses and Jesus sings Hosanna — egotistically praising himself. That said, Amy Ray in overalls with a mullet is still a better Jesus than Ted Neely.

Meanwhile, in Guatemala we saw a very different side of Jesus. Antigua gets really into Easter every year when thousands of pilgrims descend on the town to participate in the festivities throughout lent. There wasn’t any electric guitar, but there sure were tubas!

Finally, Something We Can Do As A Family

Friday, March 21st, 2008

After 3 straight days of traveling, we finally got back to O’Hare and as we were leaving I saw this sign for the “Family Companion Toilet”

Anyone know what this is? Because I imagine something like this:

Photo Credits: Delgoff, foundphotoslj

From Lines of Code to Rock Lines and Back Again

Friday, March 14th, 2008

A bridge, it turns out, requires a lot of mass to keep it from being pulled down into whatever crevasse it happens to be spanning. In the case of the bridge in Guatemala I worked on for the last week and a half, that mass came from rocks and concrete. The Benque River was abundant with rocks of all sizes. Unfortunately, those rocks were in the river, quite a ways from their eventual home in the abutments on either side. After hours of pulling rocks out of the river and stacking them on the banks, we’d form a long line and pass the rocks from one person to the next until the last person could place it appropriately.

I’ve been a member of Engineers Without Borders for several years and whenever someone returns from a trip they are often accompanied by grand adjectives: wonderful, amazing, life-changing. I get the point now. These trips offer something that’s hard to find: a chance to interact with a different culture in a truly cooperative way.

There are a million stories to tell from the trip, and I’ll probably tell many of them here, but the thing I’ll remember most is those rock lines. It was the time when those of us from Chicago and the Mayan Kichi’ villagers who lived near the bridge site really bonded. It’s no coincidence that the two Kichi’ words we all knew by the end of the trip were heavy (al) and rock (pek.) It’s also no coincidence that the English word all of the Kichi’ knew by the end of the trip was “Oops!” Occasionally a particularly “al li pek” would make it almost all the way up the embankment when a combination of mud, sweat and aching hands would compromise someone’s grip and we’d all watch it roll back down to the river accompanied by laughs and shouts of “Oops!” from Chicagoans and Kichi’ alike. Good or bad, we were all in it together.


Monday, February 25th, 2008

I’m leaving for Guatemala in a couple of days.  While I’m gone, my brother Aric will be guest-writing on this site.  Enjoy.

At What Point Do I Pee My Pants?

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

This weekend there was a little party for the people going on this Guatemala bridge-building adventure. It was really great to hang out with everyone. The folks going on the trip are all really fun and interesting. We’re going to have a good time.

Aaron’s brother-in-law gave him a gigantic knife along with some other gear to bring on the trip. He also sent a six page letter filled with tips.

Aaron: It’s possible he was drinking when he wrote it.

The best part is the step-by-step guide explaining what to do if you are attacked by an animal:

It will be biting your left forearm. That’s OK. Keep its head occupied with your left arm and attack it with the knife. You will probably be on the ground with it on top of you while this is happening.

Sounds great. We asked if his brother-in-law had killed many wild dogs or mountain lions.

Aaron: Nah. I think he just watches a lot of Animal Planet.