Showing posts from March, 2011

Life In a Room With a Loom

Photo: barb.howe Robert Hirschfield shares his living quarters with a sacred instrument. In Jerusalem, I lived in a room with a loom used by the woman of the house to weave garments for the Temple priests. A room that smelled to me of time travel. But to the weaver, the garments, the priests, and the Temple were all objects of the eternal, meaning they were not objects at all. They were thoughts in the mind of God, written down precisely, and in luminous detail, in Leviticus. I am part of a group dedicated to rebuilding the Temple, she said matter-of-factly. She could as easily have been saying, I am part of a book club. I didnt know what to say. As a friend of a friend of her husband, I was given the room for free. I never actually saw the priests garments she wove. I never asked to see them. Photo: mockstar To rebuild the Temple, you will have to raze the Dome of The Rock and Al Aksa, I wanted to warn her. Our sunlit room in Katamon would have burst into holy war, an old-fashioned Bibl…

The First Travel-Related April Fool's Joke of 2011 Goes to...

Chicago: We'd Plan A Layover at ORD Just to Score a Rick Bayless Torta

A Concierge Tells All...on Twitter, Of Course

TCM to Take Classic Films (and Their Stars) on a 10-City US Tour

Manchester: Bjrk, Snoop Dogg, and Wagner Share the Bill at Manchester International Festival

London: London's Underground Stations to Get WiFi Just in Time for the Olympics

Tweet of the Week: The President's Helipad

Ooh--What Does This Button Do?

Chicago: Free Refills at Chicago-O'Hare Thanks to Fancy-Pants Water Fountains

Three Years After Skybus Bit the Big One, It's Still Making News

Cats in the Temple

Photo: Fighting Irish 1977 Mary Sojourner takes us on a guided tour of her dresser. Americans are obsessed with the notion of control. The control is just an illusion. ~ Lee Barnes, writerBEAN, THE 10-MONTH OLD gray tabby, is possessed to leap up on the old dresser that serves as the center for my faith in what little I know of Tibetan Buddhism, and all I am learning about the nature of impermanence a knowledge both unwelcome and irresistible. The dresser top is, more accurately, an altar, a flat-topped block used as the focus for a religious ritual, esp. for making sacrifices or offerings to a deity, my dictionary says.Bean, the cat There is no demanding god here. There is no religion. There is only the sacrifice of most of what I once believed was permanent. There are offerings, not to be consumed in flame or carried away on a river, but objects and images to remind me of what matters. Each reminder has its own place, its own proximity to another. There is a book of Tibetan photos an…

Notes On Not Dealing With Death

Photo: Andreanna Moya Photography Christine Garvin makes an admission: she doesnt know how to deal with death. [Editor's note: This post was published in its original form here.]THERE ARE WELL-DEFINED STEPS to dealing with the grief of death, which you can process through at weekly therapy sessions or in a local group that meets in the basement of a church on Tuesday nights. We cry longingly in private; we show only a glimpse of the tear in the heart tissues at some work retreat that forces a bonding moment. Steps are well-defined because:grief takes such a seemingly insurmountable toll, and death is common. Any one of us might experience the death of dozens of people during our lifetime.For me, Ive personally known a half-dozen people who have died. Im here to admit I dont really know how to deal with it.Photo: Filipe Dmaso Saraiva I know the pain of relationships romantic and platonic ending. Ive been in car accidents that tore my leg open, broke my kneecap, damaged my back perma…

Flying Air France's Premium Voyageur Class

Who Knew Airport Hotels Gave You Anything Other Than Restless Nights?

What Does Travel Mean to You? (or, My Evolution as a Traveler)

Author atop Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico / All photos by author In which I attempt to capture my progression as a traveler, both physically and spiritually. I JOINED THE TRAVEL CIRCUIT late in the game. I went on my first real travels abroad when I was 28 a one-month Eurail tour of Western Europe. I followed that up with multi-month stints driving around Europe in a campervan, then traveling through Russia, Mongolia, China, and Vietnam, before settling for a couple years in Melbourne. My last travels had me cycling in Cuba and Mexico, and before I came to Nelson, BC, I spent time on the East Coast in New York, Toronto, Montreal, and Nova Scotia.Replanting rice in Thailand As I get older and wiser my thoughts on travel changes. The most important aspect of it, I think, is the broadening of ones perspective, the opening of the narrow mind. You really cant know anything of the world unless you go out into it. Relying on other peoples accounts of whats going on out there isnt quite the same …

The Video That Pissed Off Qantas Flight Crew, Starring John Travolta

Tweet of the Week: The Airport as Third Dimension

Pilatus: Wish You Were Here: The Peak of Mount Pilatus, Swiss Alps

Champaign: Chicago's 'Ebertfest' Puts the Thumbs-Up or Thumbs-Down Decision in Your Hands

Austin: Reliving SXSW 2011 in Photos (Because You Know You Want to Go Next Year)

An Islamic Intervention in Zagazig

Photo: T U R K A I R O The only thing at stake was the soul of an infidel, my soul, and Sheikh Mohammed an expert at converting foreigners to Islam was determined to save it. WITH A HEAD FULL OF WHITE, slicked-back hair, freshly pressed slacks, collared-shirt, and corduroy blazer, this religious advisor had a professional air about him. So, Islam interests you? asked the Sheikh in perfect English. The family mama, papa, and Ahmeds younger brother looked at us expectantly.Yes, it does, I answered. The family nodded their heads as Kristina shook hers. An Islamic intervention in Zagazig was not what she signed up for. Exchanging puzzled looks, our hosts shifted in the Liberace-styled thrones of the family parlor. With a big smile and fresh haircut, Ahmed returned to join us.***Ahmed was a student of mine at the American University of Cairo who had invited me and Kristina (my fiance at the time) to his familys home in Zagazig for a meet and greet a chance to experience Arab hospitality…

The 'Best Job in the World' is Back, But This Time It's for an Entire Company to Win

Screw-Cap Wines Make the World Go 'Round (and Airlines Happy)

BYO Blue Suede Shoes: The Elvis Cruise Will Sail Again

Zurich: Recessed European Electrical Outlets Are the Devil

Snooks On A Plane!

Los Angeles: LAX Airport on Verge of Opening Its Own Farmers' Market

Houston: Three March Madness Vacation Packages to Take You to the Final Four

Austin: Aziz Ansari Brings the Funny to SXSW

Flights on a Flight: Wine at Altitude with Deltas Sommelier

LV Air Takes More Baby Steps Towards Becoming a Real Airline

Japans Resolve Is Found In Its Language

Happier times. The author with his parents and his Japanese host family. This photo and feature photo by Richard Patterson. Tim Patterson distills Japans cultural response to the current disaster in three Japanese words and phrases. THIS MORNING I EXCHANGED a few e-mails with my ex-girlfriend, Rika, who lives in Tokyo. She confirmed reports of shortages of food and fuel in the Tokyo metropolitan region, and sent a photo of herself wearing a bicycle helmet to bed. Overall, though, Rika seemed remarkably sanguine about the disaster that continues to unfold. Im used to the feeling of camping, she wrote. Im not stressed out. Rika writes in Japanese, and as I translated her notes, I was struck by three recurrent words and phrases that capture a particularly Japanese cultural response to crisis. These words dont have easy English equivalents, but go a long way towards explaining why Rika isnt worried, and why I have faith in Japans ability to recover from the horrific devastation of earthquake…

Eating Overpriced Sushi in Vegas Now Helps the Red Cross in Japan

Super High Speed Digital Cameras are Some Kind of Awesome, Voodoo Magic

Austin: Where to Check-in for the Best Free Tees at SXSW

Austin: Enter the Matrix with Some 360-Degree Camera Action at SXSW's Trade Show

Tweet of the Week: Get a (Travel) Job

What Foreign Tourists Think of the New Starbucks 'Cake Pops'

Chicago: Shoppers, Get Ready to Charge: Chicago to Hold Dubai-Like Shopping Festival

The World's Greenest Airline is Revealed

What, Exactly, Is a Meltdown and Is Fukushima the Next Chernobyl?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons The word is easily tossed around, but what does it mean? Is it imminent in Japan? And is this Chernobyl re-visited? So many questions. As I sit here and watch the news coverage of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, and see terrifying YouTube videos like these, I wonder what could possibly happen if the situation with the Fukushima nuclear power plant gets worse. Whats going on there? Is this comparable to Chernobyl? Just how bad was Chernobyl? And what, exactly, is a nuclear meltdown?I did some digging around and thought Id share some of what I learned here, if youre wondering the same things as me.1. What happened in Fukushima?As soon as the magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck, 11 of Japans nuclear reactors were automatically shut down. These included reactors 1, 2, and 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant (4, 5, and 6 were not operating as they were under maintenance).Due to the quake, the plant lost power from the electricity grid and, to make matters worse, the emerg…