Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ísland (Iceland): volcanoes, glaciers, and a really long run-on sentence.

last weekend the Missus + i ventured north on a quick jaunt to Iceland. while we did not see the Northern Lights (cursed clouds!), it was overall, a fantastic trip. in summary:

...we had really short days,

...experienced cool architecture,

...tried to read unpronounceable things,

...felt sorry for the cold duckies,

...learned about volcanoes from an old guy,

...drove through lots of snow,

...rolled past landscapes from another planet (and really hairy horses),

...ate bacon-wrapped hot dogs (don't forget the fried onions!),

...sat under really big volcanoes (Eyjafjallajökull?),

...stood under freezing waterfalls (Skógafoss means "double rainbow" in Icelandic*),
*it doesn't.

...slid over LOTS of ice,

...hiked up a glacier (clamp-ons baby!),

...kept an eye on the mountains' trolls,

...shared a sunset from the top,

...drank (in healthy moderation),

...stewed in a blue lagoon,

...enjoyed some local Mexican food (of course),

...looked down on the colorful rooftops,

...shopped for comics in a Nordic flea-market,

...amused ourselves with the weird (sometimes break-dancy) statue-ry,

...resisted the urge to buy touristy things,

...tried to ignore the locals' quirky habits,

...dined on fancy-fresh seafood with our fellow Asians,

...avoided Vikings wherever possible,

...spent lots of time with my favorite person, 

...and after a few short days, reluctantly went home on an aero-plane.

i travel to lots of places, and usually wouldn't mind a return trip back. but often such re-adventures are foregone to make room for the other 157 countries left on my list. but i'll tell you, Iceland's so captivating, and SO close, i might just have to make a return trip in the near future (perhaps to hear some tunes?).

here's the complete photologue:

next stop? hopefully somewhere warmer. as long as it's cool.

Friday, February 24, 2012


not a day goes by that we don't hear about Syria.

the noise is only getting louder.

i know, bad stuff happens in the world all the time (i am that jaded), but Syria has been striking a particular chord with me for weeks.

"to know somewhere, go somewhere." -me (i just made that up, should someone else claim it, i googled it and found nothing).

that's one of the reasons i'm addicted to travel. in April 2010 my buddy Will + I decided it would be a stop of our Middle East trip (we also spent some time in Jordan + Dubai). what i didn't know then is that it would be THE stop. i already wrote a more detailed post about this trip, photos and all (Syria is about halfway down).

i've been lots of places, but i've rarely met a people as friendly as those in Syria. while i didn't go as far as going into homes like my fellow backpacker pal from Korea, everywhere we encountered smiling, welcoming locals.

our driver Abraham and his Arabic pop music, the fresh fish guy (and his son) on the street, the weird gypsy lady and her outdoor pizza oven, the numerous hotel patrons with their boiled eggs and pita, the guys on the street handing us random candy, the Aleppo waiter bringing out ice cream for no reason, the crazy taxi driver(s), the rug salesman our age we spoke with at the bathes who was kinda ok with Israel, and of course, the many, many kids at the ruins asking me to have their picture with Will (tall white guy? he must be a European footballer!), etc. don't get me started on the food.

and now they're being shot at and shelled. by their president. and their army.

and nothing. is. happening.

so for some (obvious) reason, this has been particularly upsetting.

i get it, this isn't the first time this has happened in the world, and nor will it be the last. and big surprise, we do nothing, because this is "a (relatively) unique situation on the world stage."

i know the superheroes i grew up with had no such BS qualms.

Bashar al-Assad. you really suck.

seriously, go away already.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


whose bright (pun intended) idea was it to head to a place with the word ICE in it's name in February?
...oh right, this guy (that's me).

we'll be back shortly. until then, enjoy this eponymous tune by my friends at Ozma.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

clean gets the lady.

from the entire team here on the interwebs, this long-neglected gem should make sure you and yours have a very happy valentine's day.

you're welcome.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

useful skills?

we all have skills.

most are common, some uncommon. some are completely awesome, others not so much. there are those found practical and used every day, while we wonder why we ever learned some in the first place.

most of mine are pretty rudimentary and lame. travelling far and wide, packing fast and light, speaking German (?), pretending i speak the local language, a commandingly fake interest in sports, large knowledge of comic books, a weird knowledge of 3 particular television shows (SBTB, SF, STTNG), using (+ cooking with) chopsticks, frying a mean omelet, driving stick, ironing shirts, cutting mixtapes, speedreading, picking up background music, sense of smell, eating fast, making drawrings, taking photos, and of course writing insanely awesome lists (and/or spreadsheets).

sure, there are others, but i like to keep a few tricks up my sleeve.

more importantly though, i've also put quite a bit of thought into those skills i've always WISHED i had. i'd like to share some of them with you, starting with the more benign, working our way towards the more...suspect. enjoy.

speaking Spanish.
it's the dominant language in ~1/3 of the world's landmass. i live in America (where it's pretty much language #2). i like Mexican food. i am brown. no habla escargo.

riding a motorcycle.
everyone in Vietnam, India, and Latin America can do it, so why shouldn't  i? this is one step above being able to drive stick. you can get around on the cheap and on the quick, period. where state helmet laws do not apply, darwin's laws do, so vehicular skull protection is a mandatory.

playing guitar.
the most practical, introductory musical tool (beyond our whistling or the tambourine, which  require pitch and/or rhythm). sure, the piano is a more common musical denominator, but is not very portable. the drums travel more easily, but doesn't really stand on their own musically. playing Rock Band guitar on hard/expert just isn't good enough anymore. the real thing looks way cool(-er than air guitar), and with the right axe, and amp, sounds cool. plus, then i could get that awesome lighting bolt guitar strap.

picking locks.
you'll never need to carry keys again. plus, you can get in and out of a jam like a ninja (without the smoke bombs, shurikens, or blades of death). i dunno, batman and all his buddies can do it, so why shouldn't i?

some runner-ups (that DON'T quite make the cut)? lip-reading. sign language. sleight of hand. magic. juggling. describing faces. CPR. backflips. base-jumping. climbing. hunting. darts. skateboarding. mad rhymes, yo.

i guess i could be more like Mark Z (less like Skee Low), choosing to master one a year. hm. he might just be onto something.

but you're probably asking yourself, "self, why would anyone require any/all of these skills?"

i've got 4 (compound) words for you:

undercover mariachi-band jewel-heist getaway.

you're welcome.

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