The San Francisco Marathon

Gimme Shelter

I stepped out of the darkness into the dim yellow glow of the electric light. I lifted up my shirt to show the hulk in the brown leather jacket the number pinned to my singlet. He nodded and grunted, “Have a good race”.

From the safety of my corral, I noticed that all the guards wore brown leather jackets. 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? Continue reading “The San Francisco Marathon”

Making no Little Plans, out of Legos

In the middle of July the Alumni Association at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) held their fifth annual Help Build a Lego City event. I took my two older children, four and five-years-old, but the event was attended by people of all ages. Some 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. Continue reading “Making no Little Plans, out of Legos”

A Day at the Figment Art Festival in New York

Corporate Sponsors Need not Apply

As the afternoon wore on, the costumes became more and more creative, or odd, depending on your perspective. We passed a man wearing orange tights and an orange leotard. His accessories included an orange cape and orange-rimmed sunglasses. He had no insignias on his chest to indicate his allegiances or super-powers. He could have been Orangeman, the superhero brought to us by the Florida Citrus Growers Association, except the festival explicitly forbade corporate sponsorships. Continue reading “A Day at the Figment Art Festival in New York”

A Weekend at Illinois’ Cave-in-Rock State Park

There is an ad campaign, the posters for which are easy to find in Chicago, called Mile after Magnificent Mile, which is meant to entice visitors to venture beyond the friendly confines of the city into the Illinois hinterlands. The ads are, as far as I can tell, completely and unequivocally ignored. No one from Chicago, and I mean no one, burns vacation time in downstate Illinois Continue reading “A Weekend at Illinois’ Cave-in-Rock State Park”

Ferry-Hopping on Lake Lucerne

During our visit to Switzerland two themes kept coming up as topics of conversation. First, the view. A visitor in Switzerland will be witness to a near constant parade of forested hills and their aprons of farm-speckled meadows. Then, as if it were a dessert whose last ingredient was the powdered sugar sprinkled on top, the landscape looks like some cosmic pastry chef dusted it with pleasantly dilapidated medieval towers and castles. The country is a snow globe come to life. Continue reading “Ferry-Hopping on Lake Lucerne”

The Little Rock Marathon

When a Race’s Logo Foreshadows its Own Cancellation

The orange goo oozed down the windows, casting the cabin in an eerie Halloween glow. I had never been on a plane while it was being de-iced before. It was an airplane that was supposed to be on its way to Little Rock, Arkansas, where the next day I would be running in the city’s eponymous marathon. Today, I had to get to Little Rock’s convention center in time to pick up my race number. When scheduling the flight I had allotted a couple extra hours for contingencies, so there was no need to panic just yet, but delays at O’Hare during the winter have a tendency to become sentient, and start fighting for their own survival. We needed to get going. Continue reading “The Little Rock Marathon”

A High Wire Act – Public Transit in Medellin

I was compiling the list of things to do during our five days in Medellin, Colombia and I came across a source that recommended riding the metro. Sure, but to go where? No, just ride the metro. The point of the blog was that the above-ground train offered an attractive tour of the city for the easy price of 85¢. I was suspicious: had the author of the blog just run out of things to write about? Perhaps he hadn’t even been there and just made the whole thing up (as really did happen with the Lonely Planet’s Colombia researcher back in 2009)? Continue reading “A High Wire Act – Public Transit in Medellin”

The Quad Cities Marathon

A Weekend Spent Crossing the Mississippi

The hail of bullets shredded the front tire of his motorcycle, sending him sliding into a pomegranate vendor. He staggered to his feet, looking around wildly for a sign of his would-be assassin. A flock of startled pigeons near the narrow entryway to a cobblestoned alley gave it away. He bounded to his feet and sprinted toward the alley. I shook my head, “You’re going out too hard. Continue reading “The Quad Cities Marathon”