It Takes a (Ukrainian) Village

There was something off about the style of the leather jackets the two men were wearing. At first I thought they were holdovers from the 1980’s, but that wasn’t quite right. They looked more like a reverse engineering effort where someone had described the 1980s to a designer who hadn’t lived through them, and those jackets were the result.

If You Can’t Go There, Bring There Here

As much as we might want to, there are some patches of real estate on the planet we are simply not going to be able to visit. As a second-best alternative, our family hosts international visitors to Chicago several times a year.

Breakfast: The Mauritian Chronicles

American soft power, that ability to achieve diplomatic objectives without threat or coercion, stems from many sources: aid packages, student exchanges, Katy Perry songs. I would like to make the case that the US State Department should add pancakes to the list.

Touring an Indian Grocery Store in Chicago

…I wanted to let Susan know she didn’t need to spend any time on the basics, so I name-dropped my subscription to Cook’s Illustrated, an intense, no-frills cooking magazine that uses the phrase “molecular structure” at least once per issue. She got it, and volleyed back, mentioning the name of the magazine’s editor. Having finished taking measure of one another, we began the tour…

A Net Made of Rocks, and Other Guatemalan Surprises

…I hated taking the kids out for a break – I had to assume that any real estate beyond the moat of garbage had already served as someone else’s receptacle. Exacerbating the problem was that our two younger children did not yet have a healthy fear of infectious disease – they still wanted to touch anything and everything. Trying to get at the problem from the other end, I became reluctant to let the kids eat or drink…

The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Mile 22 of the Indianapolis Marathon was not where I expected to have my first extra-marital tryst. Looking back though, I should have seen it coming – dangerous, illicit love was in the air. And as is probably often the case, it started with the Megabus ride from Chicago to Indianapolis.

White-water Kayaking with a Cautious Guide

We walked downriver along the shore to scout the upcoming rapid. Our guide was briefing us on what we should prepare for, what to do if we needed to perform an emergency wet-exit, and letting us know that it would be perfectly acceptable to opt out if we didn’t feel comfortable. At the very least, she said ominously, we would have to run it one at a time, because she wouldn’t be able to rescue both of us at once.

The San Francisco Marathon

I looked closer: all the jackets were adorned with a collection of Harley Davidson patches. Really? They hired a motorcycle gang for security duties? Are the race organizers not familiar with the fable of the Rolling Stones’ Altamont concert? The moral of the story: do not get a motorcycle gang to be responsible for security at your event. Perhaps the organizers calculated that everyone in attendance is a marathoner and, in case of trouble, can just run away?

Making no Little Plans, out of Legos

n the middle of July the Alumni Association at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) held their fifth annual Help Build a Lego City event. Some people were there because playing with Legos is fun. Others, who had obviously graduated from “playing” with Legos to “working” with them, were creating projects of such gravitas that light was having trouble escaping.

A Day at the Figment Art Festival in New York

The day began with a 10-minute ferry ride from Brooklyn Bridge Park with the skyline of lower Manhattan preening just off to the west. Once landed, we set out to get artified. My mild sense of apprehension (born of the assumption that free equals bad) quickly turned to relief – the quality of the performances and installations was surprisingly good. The selection committee had done an admirable job.

Category: USA