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The Mobile Lawyer -- One Lap, No Jetlag: August 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What I Don't Like about Travel

On the eve of me getting back on the road -- and being pretty damn excited about it -- thought it would be a good time to highlight some of the things that I find not-so-great out there on the road, since most of my friends seem to think most everything is wine and roses out there.

(1) Widow Makers. You don't run into these too often, but the name pretty much describes the experience. You are looking at a shower head in Central America. The warm water is provided by a basic electrical coil contained in the shower head. Yes -- electricity plus water. I think I got a C- in high school physics, but I feel pretty sure that this is not a combination that you should feel overly confident about.

(2) Visas -- Hell, just border agents in general. As an American, I should be the last person complaining about visas and border crossings, because frankly, entering my country is the worst. The worst. So every time I have a problem at a border or have to pay $100 to get into a country, I take a few deep breaths and say to myself, "it's worse for them to come into my country." Then I get pissed off anyway.

(3) Loud and rude people in dorm rooms. I wrote an entire blog about the hostel/dorm rules, so I won't go over them all again, save to highlight one of them: we are all sleeping in here. It is 3:30 a.m. I'm glad you had a great night out, but please try to show some respect when you crawl your drunk ass back into the dorm room.

(4) Know-it-All's. Happens at home also, but the road variation is the person that keeps one-upping your trip stories or craps on your future travel plans. "Well, if you want to go to Cuzco, that's fine, but if you want a real taste of Inca culture, instead of that touristic garbage, you should go to....."

(5) Abject poverty. Don't want to make this one controversial, so let me preface it by explaining one of my philosophies that I've come to have as a core belief because of travel: we are all (at least those reading this, most likely) just damn fricking lucky. Our souls just happened to pop out in the United States or Canada or Western Europe or Australia -- at least that is where almost all my readers are from. There wasn't anything to account for that other than dumb luck. Given the population disbursement around the world, we were all many times more likely to be born in a 3rd world country, in abject poverty, with a crappy government and infrastructure, poor schooling opportunities, and little chance of moving up the ladder. We all ought to wake up every morning and just thank the big He/She/It in the sky that we were all lucky enough to arrive where we did.

That being said, what gets to me on the road is how many people are born without those possibilities. How many Einsteins or Churchills or Hemingways or Hawkings have been born out there and just withered away, because they had no access to education, infrastructure, and resources to develop their talents?? The mental resources that we waste as a planet just depress me. As do the direct effects of poverty -- deforestation, environmental problems, short life spans, crime, mistreatment of women. Arrrrrggggggg.

To be clear -- and to hopefully avoid lots of negative comments -- I'm not saying that people in the 3rd world can't lead happy and productive lives. Some of the happiest people I've seen on the planet are poor as dirt. On many days, I wish I was as happy as the kid playing with the stick and the tire on the side of the road.... but I'd also like him/her to have the opportunity, if they want to take it, to get educated, acquire some basic necessities, and perhaps change the world for the better.

(6) Getting ripped off. On the opposite end of the scale, I can't stand getting ripped off, even it it is just for a couple bucks. It isn't the money -- clearly, paying $3 for something that locals pay $1 for isn't that big a deal (and might actually help issue #5 in a small way), but I think it is the attendant implication of my stupidity that bothers me. Yes, I realize that you are ripping me off, Mr. Shop Owner. Not all tourists are blissfully ignorant rubes, there for you to pluck like ripe fruit off a tree.

And what REALLY annoys me on this front is when I get quoted a price for something that is eight or ten times the proper price. Look -- I expect that you are going to quote me double. That's fine. When I'm in a patient mood, a little bargaining is part of the fun of travel. But don't jack up the price to ten times normal, and then when I laugh at you, cut the price down by 80% to get to what should have been your starting price. I refuse to even bargain with you, seeing as you just basically told me, via your price, that I'm the dumbest person you've ever seen. Piss off.

(7) Cab Drivers. A specialized subset of #6. I have a true hate/love relationship with cabbies. I despise 90% of them and want to line them all up against a wall and pull a scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie on them, but then one of them completely and totally saves my ass and I mentally reprieve them all. Then the vicious cycle just starts up again.

(8) The price of books. This literally amazed me. Books are ABSURDLY expensive throughout the world. I'm not talking the expense of buying and English language book in the middle of non-English speaking countries here -- I expected those prices would be high. I'm talking about the prices of English books in countries like Australia and New Zealand. Or of Spanish books in South America (not that I could read them anyway). Stunned me. Well, except for SE Asia, where you can buy illegally photocopied books at cheap prices. Then again, you can buy about any intellectual property there at pirate rates.

(9) Everyone speaks more languages than me. I'm an American, which basically means I speak English. That's it. I'm not banging on my country here -- there are some good reasons we don't speak foreign languages here -- the primary one being that the US is damn big and English is the language throughout. If I had clients in Texas and they spoke a different language there (like most Europeans find, when they go 300 miles to do business with someone), I'm sure I'd have a lot better language skills.

(10) The search for a good cup of coffee. You wouldn't think this would be that difficult a task, but 'o my, it can be. Even in some of the best coffee producing countries in the world (Panama and Colombia off the top of my head), it is tough to find a good cup of Joe. Most countries export their good coffee to.... the US, Japan and Western Europe. Pretty much around the world, you are going to be drinking instant coffee most mornings. I hate instant coffee.

Instant coffee verses cabbies. Now there is a battle that I might pay to see.

That being said, damn do I feel inferior when I'm traveling and run across pretty much anyone, seeing as most other travelers speak three or four languages. If I could wave a wand and have any knowledge immediately implanted in my head, it would be the full working knowledge of a couple of foreign languages.

Hmmmmmm. I know I've got a lot more of these small and large pet peeves, but can't think of any more off the top of my head. Then again, I'd love to hear your contributions -- what is not-so-great on the road in your eyes, fellow travelers?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Photo of the Day: Gondolier Break

From Various old

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Photo of the Day: Hoi An Market

From Hoi An

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Kili and my Tattoo

Climbing Kilimanjaro was the most difficult, and best, thing I've yet done in my 42 years. It was simply incredible. Given that I'd made a promise to myself that I'd get one tattoo per continent, my choice for Africa was simple -- I needed a tattoo of Kili.

So, here is the explanation of this particular tattoo. First, I got it in Budapest. I wanted to get it in Cairo, but by the time I found a tattoo parlor there, I was leaving the next day to go to Dahab to go diving and I clearly didn't want a new tattoo combined with underwater activities.

The route I took (Marangu) is considered the easiest, since you sleep in huts every night. It is also one of the fastest routes up and no doubt the most crowded, though there were only about twenty people trying to summit the night we went to the top. On this route, you leave your last hut at midnight or so, in order to try to make the top of the mountain at sunrise. The tattoo has the date that I made it to the summit and also the Swahili phrase, "Hakuna Matata."

At this point, it is only appropriate to insert the reason this phrase is most commonly known in the United States, via a movie that I've never seen, but heard was quite good -- The Lion King.

Of course when I posted a picture of this new tattoo on my Facebook page last year, I immediately got harassed by my wonderful friends and their truly unique sense of humor. A lot of comments along the lines of "trolling the school yards, these days?" Quite comic.

Here's the real story. My guide was a great guy named Eyan, a local from the village immediately outside the Marangu gates. In fact, after we came down from the mountain, we had lunch at his family's house before heading back to town. He was/is a totally relaxed guy that has gone up the mountain some 200 times or so. Dreadlocks. Chill. Supportive. Everything is going to be just fine.

Ergo, hakuna matata, which roughly translates to "no worries." During the two days we were hiking, before the summit night, Eyan would occasionally toss a 'hakuna matata' my way and I return the same. The hiking wasn't too difficult in the beginning, but I was starting to feel the altitude as we got higher.

I told Eyan on the day that we were hiking up to the last hut (Kibo) that since I wasn't feeling altitude sickness and was in pretty reasonable shape that I was going to make it to the summit. No excuses. No turning back. Doesn't matter how long it is going to take. I also told him that I might end up swearing at myself repeatedly and directing a little self-abuse language at myself, and the mountain, to try to spur me on to the top.

So on the last night, you leave around midnight and climb pretty much straight up 1,000 meters or so, until you get to the top. It was a really tough climb, at least for me. And Eyan was the best guide of all times. Encouraging me. Reminding me to walk slower. Ignoring me when I obviously didn't want to talk. And probably my favorite on the way up:

Eyan: "How are you doing?"

Me after screaming obscenities for the last hour at myself and the mountain: "Hakuna Matata."

Eyan: "Hakuna Matata, motherfucker."

O' yea, we had a theme phrase now. And there was no doubt I was making it to the top with that inspiration. Though I didn't think that probably should be immortalized on my shoulder for all time.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Photo of the Day: My Back

Where I went and how I got there.

From Various old


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dolphin Video

Who doesn't love dolphins? Seriously, there is something about them (and whales) that makes everyone happy. These dolphins followed our sailboat for about an hour in the San Blas Islands in Panama. It was amazing. They'd swim in the wake of our boat for a few seconds and then dart ahead full speed in front of the boat.... then circle back around and do it again and again.

The entire LONG sailboat blog. Personally, I think it is a great story, but have 10-20 minutes to finish it off. Great times.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

What I wish I knew BEFORE my RTW trip

It is a bit funny that I finally think I might know enough to put together a well-thought out round-the-world (RTW) trip..... now that I've already done one. The basic things I know now, and didn't before, give me a chuckle when I think about them.

In the hopes of encouraging more people to do more long-term travel and also compile a good list of helpful tools for such travel, I thought I'd write this post.

The things I know now.... that I wish I'd known before.

(1) Join Twitter and Facebook long before you go. Both are incredibly helpful for entirely different reasons. You are going to meet dozens, if not hundreds, of people all around the world. There is no good way to keep track of all their email addresses -- and you are going to want to talk to a lot of them again, if only to pick their brains on travel ideas during your trip. Facebook is the best way of keeping up with people. It is also the best and easiest way for people back home. Quick status updates on where you are. Uploading pictures you have taken. And so forth.

As to Twitter, I now realize there is a huge number of experienced travelers (at every price level of travel) that are out there as resources at a click of a mouse. Meet hundreds of travelers on Travelers' Night In. Going RTW? Try the #rtwsoon or #rtwnow hastag and meet others doing the same thing. The Twitter community is incredibly helpful on tips, suggestions, useful blogs, and other resources for your journey.

(2) The internet is everywhere. I was amazed at how relatively easy it is to get internet access almost everywhere in the world, though certainly there were a lot of spots in Africa that weren't great. I took my laptop with me because I was going to write on the trip, but I'd suggest everyone bring some laptop of little netbook with them. It makes it much easier to edit and upload photos of your trip and you can get wireless at the vast majority of places you are going to stay on your trip.

Speaking of which, here is a big pet peeve of mine. I've stayed at $200+ night hotels that charge for internet and tons of $10 a night hostels that offer free wifi. Get a clue Major Hotel Chains -- you are making plenty on your rooms -- try offering travelers free wireless when they stay at your fancy place.

(3) Stay flexible. I didn't order this tips in order of importance, but probably should have put this at the top of my list. It is inevitable that you are going to learn a lot more about what you want to do/see/experience when you get where you are going. Other people traveling are going to give you a tip about places to go (the only reason I found Cabo Polonio, Uruguay was that I was drinking on a rooftop bar with some Germans and they were going on and on about this great little beach town without electricity. I never would have had it on my route. It was one of the highlights of the trip. If you have a dead-set plan of being in place A one such and such day, then place B three days later, you are going to miss out on some great opportunities.

(4) Anywhere is a good destination. I hit 44 countries on my trip. I had interesting and good memories in all of them, even countries you would never think of as tourist destinations. While seeing some of the great sights in the world (e.g. Angkor Wat, Kilimanjaro, Manchupicchu, the Pyramids, Doubtful Sound) are wonderful and incredible and some of the best sightseeing experiences you will ever have, you are going to also find that meeting cool and interesting people, where ever you are, makes for a good destination. In most cases, the people you meet make or break your trip.

(5) Obviously, I didn't fly at all on my RTW trip, but there are some great resources out there for cheap flights. There is a good debate on whether to buy a RTW airline ticket (and tie yourself in somewhat to a more set schedule), but going back to my Twitter tip above, I sent out a request for blogs on finding cheap airfare on got an immediate reply. Go check out Fox Nomad's Guide to Airfare for a good start on how to save some money on that front.

(6) Take time to rest. I never got sick during my 16 month trip, aside from one bout of traveler's belly for about 5-6 days in Egypt. Obviously that is a large bit of luck (I also eat tons of local food and drink the water most everywhere I go), but I think part of the reason I managed to keep my health was that I took plenty of time to just chill out and rest. It helps that one of my favorite activities is simply having a drink at an outdoor cafe and reading, but a good number of the travelers that I met that got sick frequently seemed to be the ones that had a burning desire to "do something, all the time." Always running around seeing the next sight. And depleting their energy levels and making them more susceptible to illness. Take it with a grain of salt, I don't even play a doctor on TV.

(7) Skype. There is really only one great way to keep in touch with people back home and this is it Skype home page. If you don't have it, download it. If you don't use it, you are throwing away money. Free Skype to Skype computer calls anywhere in the world, including video chat. Incredibly low prices to call any mobile phone or landline from Skype. Just do it -- you won't look back.

(8) Accept that you are going to get ripped off (a lot) and robbed (hopefully not as frequently). Look, it is just going to happen. Cabbies, food vendors, people selling you anything -- they are going to rip you off. Bargain hard, be willing to walk away (the best negotiating tool, in my opinion), stand up for yourself, ask the people working at the hostel what things should cost before you go get them.... but don't let getting charged $4, instead of $1.5 for a cab ruin your day. You laugh now, reading this, but you will be SERIOUSLY pissed off. There is just something about being ripped off, no matter the money involved, that annoys the crap out of almost everyone I know, including me. Dave and I get ripped off in Egypt

As to getting robbed, it happens. It happens on trips to New York City. It happens on trips to Memphis. It happens everywhere. Don't avoid visiting countries/cities (with some exceptions, obviously) based on a fear that you are going to get robbed. Take regular precautions: take taxis if your hostel or hotel people say it isn't safe to walk around, never carry anything on you that you can't get stolen (don't carry your passport around with you), walk to the other side of the street or back in teh opposite direction if you see folks you get a bad vibe from, don't walk around with your nice SLR camera dangling around your neck, and don't walk around drunk at 3 a.m., which seems to be the one that most people fall prey to in the stories I hear.

(9) Eat the local food. You are trying out a new culture. Try the food. You might find some of your new favorites, even if the ingredients, or appearance, aren't things you normally would think you'd like. And try some street food. They normally cook it right in front of you, which actually makes it safer to eat in my book -- since you know it actually IS cooked. Who knows, you could become as addicted to dumplings, or ceviche, or droewors as I became!

(10) Try a hostel. You might think you are too old (you aren't). You might think they are too loud (they can be). You might think they aren't clean enough (it's fine). They are an interesting part of the entire long-travel experience. First, unless you are loaded -- and likely not reading my blog -- you can't stay at nice hotels every night on a long time. It just blows your money away and frankly, you can't always find them in all the place you are hopefully going to go to. If you don't want the dorm rule experience, you can usually get a single or double room in most hostels. They are great ways to meet fellow travelers -- how many people have you ever met at a Hilton or a Hyatt? Try it at least a few times, Just make sure you read the hostel/dorm rules before you go

(11) Try to not have too many expectations. Many of the countries that I never thought I'd like were some of my favorites. Some of the countries I had the highest expectations of fell short and were disappointing. Once I realized that I just needed to temper my preconceived notions and go with the flow a bit more, I tended to enjoy every location even more. It is similar to going to see the incredibly hyped new movie that just came out - how many times do you walk out disappointed?

Have fun. And just do it. Long travel is one of the greatest things I've done in my lifetime. It obviously isn't for everyone, but I think anyone with an open mind and a sense of wonder and adventure would love it. I certainly do -- and I'm ready for more next month.

Would love for folks to add their suggestions down below in the comments section. This is by now means the full list of mine -- just some stuff I jotted off. Add your tips/suggestions for everyone else. Thanks.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Glimpses of Memory

Since I started traveling in a much bigger way seven or eight years ago, and even more since I took the round-the-world trip, I have these occasional memory moments about once or twice a week. Just a moment ago, I had another.

I was watching some kid kick a soccer ball on a cobblestone street and thought to myself that I had the exact same moment. Some kids were playing soccer in an alleyway. I took out my camera and started taking pictures. One of the kids, the extrovert, then got the soccer ball and started posing for me. Kicking the ball up the air and throwing his hands up.

I have no idea when or where this happened. It is just a memory, lost in time and space. A good one, but lost nonetheless.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Favorite Concerts

I was having a conversation recently about the best concerts we had seen. And I recalled this was an occasional subject of conversation while traveling -- along with "what was your first concert?" And that can lead to some interesting and amusing answers.

Though I might edit this list if I think of any others that I can't recall now, these are my favorite 5 concerts that I've attended:

1 -- Simon and Garfunkel (1983). Also my first concert. I was late to an appreciation of music. I didn't buy my first album (actually a cassette tape) until I was a sophomore in high school. Simon and Garfunkel did a series of reunion concerts in the mid-80s and my first concert was seeing them outside Washington D.C. Then my second concert was seeing them two days later Dallas. Pretty good start to my concert lifetime.

2 -- Pink Floyd (1988). Another reunion tour, but this time without one of the two major forces behind the band, Roger Waters. He and David Gilmour apparently despise each other with the burning passion of the sun. Didn't inhibit the excellence of the show in Austin.

3 -- U2 (1985). I've seen U2 twice. The first time was back on their Unforgettable Fire tour in Dallas and then saw them much later on their Pop tour in 1997 in Seattle. The first show was the more memorable (The Edge had to sing a bunch of songs in the later tour because Bono's voice was a little blown out) and especially memorable for me because of one of Bono's comments between songs. They had just hit it big time with this album, and were set to be one of the big bands at Live Aid later that year. Bono joked mid-concert to the sell out crowd, "where were all you fans when we played to a half empty show at Billy Bob's two years ago?"

4 -- Eric Clapton (2005). This was a concert tour that got very, very mixed reviews from my friends. I had a number of friends that hated it. I flew out to San Francisco and saw them him out there. I think the main reason that some hated this concert, including about half of the audience that I saw it with, was that they didn't know what Clapton was up to. The first half of the concert was old school blues covers of guys like Robert Johnson and others from decades long gone by. A good number of people around me kept asking: "is that a Clapton song?" Then in the second half of the show, he came out and played pretty much every single one of his greatest hits. I hate it when legends come out and only play a few of their classic songs, and instead play a bunch of songs off their latest album. Frankly, most times the most recent stuff isn't that great -- we came to see you play your time-tested stuff. Clapton did just that. For about two hours.

5 -- Big Head Todd and the Monsters (2008). Went to see them at Red Rocks before I took off on my trip. I really enjoy everything they've done and they put on a hell of a live show. The lead singer's voice is so damn velvety smooth and is a perfect bluesy/rock base voice. Great band and makes the top 5 also because of the venue. Red Rocks is one of the best places to see a concert in the world. Amazing.

I would LOVE to see other's lists of their favorite shows of all time. Thanks!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Portrait of Joy

From New-Old

This was a totally unexpected portrait shot from the week or so I spent in Zanzibar last summer. Mid-morning one day, I decided to take a long walk on the beach. These three kids were playing in the sand.

I don't speak a word of Kiswahili, but I really wanted to take these kids' picture. I made the somewhat universal hand signal asking them if I could take their pictures. They nodded enthusiastically. I reached down into my pocket and turned back around to take their picture and they were.... dancing. Spontaneously.

It was a moment of unbridled joy. Of the over 10,000 photos that I took on my RTW trip -- this one is clearly my favorite.

This post has been entered into the Grantourismo and HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition at Grantouismo Link for the August Competition. And here is Homeaway's website link.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Photo of the Day: TGIF

From Munich

It's Friday. Celebrate.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

25 Things

from the Facebook craze last year -- for those that weren't Facebook friends with me back then.

(1) I have two absolute travel necessities: iPod and fingernail clippers. I abso-fucking-lutely cannot stand having almost any white fingernail existing on me at any time.

(2) Until my recent sailboat trip (promise the blog is coming), the last time I threw up was 23 years ago. Freshman year in college. Tequila. Still can't drink it to this day -- actually can't even smell it -- the smell makes me wretch. Oddly, can't drink Scotch either, because to my nose, it smells too much like tequila.

(3) I judge a true best friend by one (admittedly extravagant) criteria: would they do anything for me if I was in serious trouble. I have three people that I feel 100% confident would answer my phone call of "I'm in big, big trouble -- need $10,000 -- and a flight out of the country" by simply answering "where do I wire the money to?". . . . . and I'd do the same for any of them and not need to know why.

(4) I have six ex-girlfriends. And I'm still friends will all of them. They are the 1st people I call, when I screw up with the next woman -- as inevitably happens. Invariably their answer to my call of woe is "seriously. . . you've been screwing up the same exact way for X years."

(5) I have a constant jukebox in my head. And by constant, I really do mean about 100% of the time, some song is playing in my head. Its usually the last song I've heard, but it can also pop up from conversations. You say something like, "need to find a hotel" and my brain might flip over to Hotel California. . . for 5 hours straight. Its annoying and I don't like it. And I also tend to break out and start singing whatever is up there. Randomly.

(6) I can remember every gas station and fast food restaurant just off a highway that I've ever stopped at before. Most every time I pass an exit where I have pulled off sometime in the past, I think to myself, "I've bought gas at that Exxon station before." For the same reason, on routes I travel a lot (Fayetteville to Little Rock, for example), I always try to stop at the same places everytime -- so I have that thought pop into my head as infrequently as possible.

(7) The first song I ever remember hearing was "Renegade" by Styx. In Florida. At a friend's house, whose name I cannot remember. Still like the song today.

(8) I have been in 46 of the 50 states. The omissions are Alaska, Vermont, North Dakota, and Arizona. How the hell I have missed Arizona is still a mystery to me.

(9) I had the only black lab I've ever known that was afraid of the water. He would not swim. He was the greatest dog in the world, lived to be 15 years old, and putting him down was perhaps the toughest decision yet in my life. And I should have done it a year earlier.

(10) I have answered the "how can you represent someone you know is guilty" question about 742 times. But it still doesn't bother me to get asked and explain it all again.

(11) I smoke 5-10 cigars a week. I have never taken a single puff of a cigarette in my life.

(12) I have never used any illegal drug. Don't even like taking pain killers, when prescribed.

(13) I love old, wind-up watches.

(14) I still own my very first car, a 1967 red Mustang.

(15) I built a bocce court in my backyard. My backyard is 80 feet by 25 feet. The court is 60 feet by 10 feet.

(16) I take one month off from drinking every year, usually January.

(17) I've never ridden on a roller coaster. Or eaten peanut butter (I hate the smell). Even when I was a small child. Apparently, I'm anti-American.

(18) I have a horrible, horrible memory for names. It pisses me off, because I find it very disrespectful. My friends know that if I don't introduce them to someone that walks up to me in the 1st five seconds, that they should stick out there hand and introduce themselves, because I've forgotten the name.

(19) I didn't go to law school earlier, because so many people told me that I should.

(20) I got a 7 minute not-guilty verdict from a jury in a criminal drug trial where my guy had confessed. The trial was something out of a Boston Legal script.

(21) I have watched Casablanca more than 100 times. Every line in that movie works perfectly and its one of the funniest movies of all time (go re-watch it and listen for the comic lines. . . "I'm shocked, shocked there is gambling going on in this establishment." "Your winnings, sir" "Well thank you.")

(22) I never tie the laces on my tennis shoes, unless I'm doing something athletic. I've gotten more comments from strangers about my shoes being untied than anything else in my life. By a factor of about 500.

(23) The first funeral I went to was my maternal grandfather's. I gave the eulogy. I didn't know I was going to be asked to do so until the night before. I stayed up all night writing it.

(24) On that topic, I take wedding and rehearsal toasts very, very seriously. One thing that pisses me off to no end are crappy toasts from people at those events.

(25) I only celebrate my prime number birthdays (though I got taunted into throwing a 40th birthday party and drinking much excellent wine).

and one bonus, for my mother:

I can be incredibly stubborn. I slept in a sleeping bag on top of my made bed for about two years when I was 8 or so, because my mother wanted me to make my bed every morning before going to school. I slept in the sleeping bag and then threw the bag in the closet-- and had the made bed there underneath. My mother cooked fried liver once a year and wanted us all to eat it. I hated the smell and texture. So when I was about 6 or so, she cooked it up for us, put it on my plate, I ate one bite and forced myself to throw up at the table. We never ate liver again for dinner. In high school, I got grounded for an entire summer vacation (junior year). In retaliation, aside from going to work everyday, I never left my room, except to eat dinner, and never said anything to my parents except "yes" and "no" to answer direct questions. My father thought the whole thing was quite a relaxing relief, but my mother broke down after about a month and rescinded my grounding.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Photo of the Day: Monks

From Angkor Wat

One of the many things that I loved about Angkor Wat was that you saw a good number of Monks wandering around taking pictures, looking at everything (and best scene, though no photo, smoking) and generally being tourists.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Photo of the Day: Umayyad Mosque

From Damascus

In honor of NYC making the correct decision to allow the Cordoba House project to proceed in that great city -- perhaps the most diverse city on the planet -- I thought I'd post a picture of one of the most impressive buildings I saw on my whole trip: Ummayad Mosque

Interestingly, the remains of John the Baptist are reputed to contained here -- and are considered holy by Muslims. Another note of interest is that The minaret in the southeast corner is called the Minaret of Jesus as many Muslims believe that it is here that Jesus will appear at the end of the world.

Wiki entry for Umayyad Mosque

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Honoring Shark Week: Video

My weak video of my attempt to Great White Shark dive in South Africa. An effort that failed, alas. Will have to try again soon.

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