June 30, 2003

Caramel apples?

A billboard I saw on the way home today brought this inane question to mind: were caramel apples invented as a way to hide bad fruit? In the US at least, they're most popular in the late fall (around Halloween)..so maybe they are a way to cover up the less-than-desirable bottom-of-the-barrel apples to make them marketable.

According to one web site they were invented by a guy from Kraft, which kind of makes sense. I'm sure they employ dozen of people whose sole job is to think up new recipes for their existing products. But I'm still going to work on my cynical theory.

Posted at June 30, 2003 10:35 PM, Categories: Beardcore

June 26, 2003

Photoblogs

An article on Slate about photoblogs. Not terribly interesting, but they do link to some fantastic blogs I haven't seen before.

Another good starting point.

I should update mine once in a while. I've fallen out of the daily photo routine I stuck to so well in Lithuania.

Posted at June 26, 2003 05:41 PM, Categories: Beardcore

June 20, 2003

I love it when a plan comes together

Travel plans for the summer are materializing.. The plan for last weekend, this weekend, and the next four weeks:

- Last weekend: finally get over jetlag, start editing photos, manage to see almost all of my Chicago friends without hardly trying.

- This weekend: finish editing photos, buy a new sleeping bag, maybe buy a new tent. Dance my ass off at AD.

- Next weekend: drive to MI to visit family, a couple of friends, and see my brother and sister-in-law's new house. See if my grandmother recognizes me with the new head and facial hair. I think she's the only one that every really liked my beard!

- Fly to LA the following weekend. See The Pernice Brothers and Bob Mould, finally see Sarah, manage to get everything on the plan as carry ons, eat unhealthy food at classic LA restaurants, see one star on the streets, shoot the shit, shoot 400 photos.

- Depart the following weekend for Glacier National Park. Eat more unhealthy food, drink some beers, avoid bears, take 2500 pictures, avoid car trouble, claim the distinction of "most wired car west of the Missouri River," and go two weeks with only four shirts, two pairs of shorts, and one pair of pants.

And hey, Evan updated his page!

Posted at June 20, 2003 08:55 AM, Categories: Beardcore

June 17, 2003

POTD updated

Picture of the Day finally updated with photos from my recent trip.

Posted at June 17, 2003 07:00 PM, Categories: Beardcore

June 15, 2003

Travel bug..

Since this time last year I've been to mid-state New York, LA, all around the plains states, England four times, Wales, Paris, Michigan, Lithuania, and Denmark. It's a bit tiring but I'm enjoying all this travelling.

So I'm trying to figure out where to go this summer (it snuck up on me quickly). We've been discussing the new "use it or lose it" vacation policy at work and it's got me to thinking that I should take a good old road trip. Also, my project is winding down so this is a good time to get out of town.

Where to go? I've been toying with the idea of flying to Scandinavia and wandering about, but Canada has me intrigued as well. I can't find a straight answer as to how long it would take to drive to Newfoundland.

In other news:

- Picture of the day updates soon, I promise.

- I just found a whole bottle of allergy medication in the back of the passenger seat in my car. I couldn't be more pleased!

- I was reminded today why I can't stand street festivals: crappy food, people selling crap I don't want, large crowds and slow-moving people in my way. Four of my least-favorite things.

Posted at June 15, 2003 07:21 PM, Categories: Beardcore

June 12, 2003

No place like it..

It's weird to be home. Familiar and yet not all I expected it to be. Not like Vilnius is that wonderful compared to Chicago, but coming back wasn't as monumental as I somehow thought it might be. I guess I'm starting to think that life in any city is not terribly different from life in any other city. Different language, different money, but the food isn't all that exotic and the people are basically the same.

Anyway, in reverse chronological order:


Jet lag this morning.. I was alright yesterday morning but I think I've now entered the three-days-of-waking-up-at-the-crack-of-dawn phase. I did notice that the sun rises at about 5am here, which isn't all that different from the 4am sunrise that I thought was so remarkable in Vilnius, if you consider that Chicago's on the eastern end of a timezone and Vilnius is kind of on the western end of it's timezone.

If you ignore many large bottles of water, I hardly bought a thing on this trip. A campstool, an old Soviet camera ($10 Smena, just for the hell of it), and a couple of CDs. I did, however, take 1855 photos.


Copenhagen was interesting. I wasn't there long enough for it to be anything more than "interesting." It felt incredibly modern and organized compared to Vilnius, and yet I could feel the connection to old industries like shipping. There are 7-11s everywhere (I was standing at the counter of one, buying a bottle of water, and out the window I could see the next 7-11), the women aren't all that attractive (the good-looking ones all somehow looked like Nina Perrson), the food was just OK, everything's pretty expensive (at least compared to Vilnius), and they need a better subway. The bike thing, however, is really cool.

Everyone in the whole damn city bikes. There are bikes parked everywhere, most of them simple and utilitarian and with a wire mesh basket on the front. All major streets have separate raised bike lanes on both sides, and there are even separate traffic lights for cars, bikes, and pedestrians.

 side                                   side
 walk                                   walk
______ bikes                     bikes ______
      _______       cars        _______
             ___________________

The best thing about this separation is that as a pedestrian, you don't have to worry about people zooming by you and clipping your elbow with their handlebars. As long as you stay on the sidewalk, and the bikes stay in their lane, everything works well.

It was a relief to be back in a truely large city, and a diverse one. In Vilnius I saw about seven people that weren't white, and one of them was with us. Copenhagen looked almost like Chicago, except people from different backgrounds were all working on the same street, rather than in their own neighborhoods. This helped me understand Chicago's segregation issues a bit better.


My flight from Vilnius to Copenhagen was spent stuck between one of the engines and an overzealous Christian. She started talking to me before I had a chance to pretend to be reading or listening to music, and didn't stop until we left the plane. She was a nice enough person, and didn't ask me about my religious beliefs until we had begun our descent, but for how many things can one thank God? I think religion usually does more good than harm, and it can be very helpful for some people, but to attribute everything good in your life to God and everything bad to "God's plan" just seems so.. Well you're denying that shit happens and you're not taking credit for things you make happen for yourself. She was thanking God for her adrenaline rush before performing that cured her stomach ache..thanking God that her fellow traveller got a replacement passport the day they were scheduled to leave.

It's kind of like, if everything's in God's plan and he'll make everything he wants to happen happen, why not just sit around in your underwear and eat peanut butter and wait for him to do His thing? And if nothing happens, that must mean that His plan calls for me to sit around and eat peanut butter in my boxers.


pasu kontrole
passport control

After waiting in a long line to check into our flight from Vilnius to Copenhagen, the Scandanavian Airlines folks had a hard time figuring out our tickets, considering we had changed them three time since they were first issued. Then, onto Passport Control.

My coworker got through passport control without issue.. When the lady scanned my passport, however, she started looking at me very suspiciously. After checking my boarding pass, she started looking at the first page (picture, etc.) very closely, then the visas. Then she went back to the picture and looked back and forth at the photo and at my face a good five times. She then asked me to wait by the side of the booth.

A minute later two police officers came up -- one laid-back tall guy and one short, uptight woman. The man had a Lithuanian passport in his hand and they started comparing my passport to the one they had. When the short woman saw the Lithuanian passport next to mine she actually laughed -- perhaps she thought we looked nothing alike? I can't help but wonder who this guy was, what he had done, and why the police kept his passport and other ID cards handy.

After a few minutes of discussion the tall guy asked me first if I spoke only English, then if I had any other documentation. I produced my driver's license which has a picture very similar to my passport (shaggy hair, a bit heavier, full beard). I then thought of my work badge which was taken only a month ago and looks much more like me -- very short hair, skinny, full beard. When the short woman saw the Motorola badge she said, "Ohhh..Motorola!" And they all laughed. I have to assume that they had already determined at this point that I wasn't the wanted Lithuanian.

The tall guy told me to "have a nice flight" and they started walking off. I tried to ask them what the deal was but they ignored me (or pretended to?). Hopefully that's the last incident of this trip, unless there's a Danish terrorist that looks like me.

Posted at June 12, 2003 05:39 AM, Categories: Beardcore

June 08, 2003

Lomo-riffic!

I dropped my Lomo camera from my pocket on the second day I was here and the light meter seemed to stop working. I had been planning to scour the city for a new (used) one anyway, and this brought on a new urgency..but I never found one. I did find one store, Fototechnika, which had old Practikas and such, but no Lomos.

I tried smacking it around, changing the batteries, and everything else short of disassembling it. But today it started working again!

Just in time for my last day in Vilnius and Copenhagen tomorrow.

Posted at June 8, 2003 01:58 PM, Categories: Beardcore

Lithuania Wild

Tonight I entered my first strip club. Well, it wasn't really a strip club, but a nightclub full of meatheads and ladies giving it their all, and one pole where dancers did their thing. I honestly didn't want to go to this place (given my distaste for nightclubs, fashion, and cover charges) but this was the last night we had to go out and I didn't want to be a spoil-sport.

And it was about what I expected. Rather boring, unimpressive, and kind of sad. I didn't know whether to feel bad for the dancers, who are hopefully being paid well, or for the guys there who though it was the greatest thing since last weekend.

The more important story is Lithuania's newest and oldest profession. Apparently the trendier night clubs are riddled with "professional" women, and the "Lithuanian Wild Club" is supposedly one of the worst. We had a drink at The University Pub between dinner and LWC, and a couple women went to great lengths to explain to us that many of the women in LWC are there to "get all of your money." It must be hard for men and women here to meet in bars: you would always have to wonder if they're on the job.

On the way to the nightclub we asked directions from two guys who turned out to be from D.C. and England. I know this isn't 1930's Sri Lanka, but I still can't help but wonder what would bring people from America or England besides work. Vilnius is rather out of the way, and not very well known. Perhaps Lithuanian Wild Club has a website.


The view from my window last night

Posted at June 8, 2003 02:37 AM, Categories: Beardcore

June 07, 2003

Internationality

On this trip, I have worked with people from:

The US
England
Ireland
Malaysia
Turkey
Lithuania
Germany
Italy

I think that's pretty cool.


Must remember to take off the cheap filters when shooting bright lights..

Posted at June 7, 2003 05:41 PM, Categories: Beardcore

June 05, 2003

"As you pull on your lover's hand.."

A bit short on the content lately, huh? I've been too busy this week. Actually, the days are pretty low-key and uneventful (spent on the tops of weird buildings around Vilnius with nothing to do) but I have no internet access, then the evenings are a flood of emails and conference calls before, during, and after a late dinner. If all goes well we'll be done tomorrow morning and I can get back to stressful work days in Chicago.

I've (still) been listening to the new Aislers Set album too much...every night as I go to bed. "Catherine Says" get better with each listen.. Those drums, those grinding guitars, that vibraphone (or whatever variation it is), the little bit where the vocals drop out of tune.. This is one of those few songs that give me that feeling in my stomach like when you see someone you have a crush on. Yes, I get crushes on songs.

Which brings me to today's other ponderous topic: as I was sitting on a stool on top of this rickety old apartment building waiting for the installation to finish, kinda bored, I was struck by another way to get bummed out while travelling: if I have an opportunity to call someone just because I have time to spare, I have nobody to call. Sure, I can call the parents or a friend but not anybody who's wishing they were here with me, or wishing I was there with them, or wishing the two of were together anywhere. It sucks to realize that you're far away from home and nobody misses you in that way.

I need to get back in the game this summer. I need to feel that way about something other than a pop song.

Posted at June 5, 2003 07:03 PM, Categories: Beardcore

June 01, 2003

7am/5pm update

Staying up until 7am paid off rather well, photographically speaking.

There's a weird little festival thing going on in the cathedral square -- there's a stage and a little carousel, and there have been groups of 6-8 year olds lip syncing to pop songs on stage all day. There are also a lot of SCA-types wandering around in various sorts of traditional dress.

Why does it take less time to burn a CD-R than it takes to verify the contents?

Posted at June 1, 2003 05:17 PM, Categories: Beardcore

5am in Eastern Europe.

Vilnius is very quiet in the early hours of the morning, and very bright. It's only dark from around 10pm until 4am, and it's 4:43 now. I finally went out for a night on the town and it went a few hours longer than I would have liked. Now that the sun is rising I want to get out and take some photos -- this is the only time I'll be up for sunrise here and there are lots of good pictures waiting to be taken when the light comes from the east.

Until today I've been rather disappointed with the photos I've taken. There are a few good ones here and there but by and large it's been a flop. This afternoon I decided to head out before dinner with only one lens and a couple of filters. The light was remarkable and I just took the opportunity to wander through streets I hadn't yet seen and capture everything I could. It was the most photographically productive thirty-two minutes of this trip.

I'm starting to feel tired so I'm going to head off to one of the "business rooms" (where there's decent internet access), upload this, check my email and head out. Before I fall asleep.


Shooting from the hip with autofocus can be heartbreaking..


Vilnius at 4:40am

Posted at June 1, 2003 05:06 AM, Categories: Beardcore
Nearby Entries
Caramel apples? (Jun 30)
Photoblogs (Jun 26)
I love it when a plan comes together (Jun 20)
POTD updated (Jun 17)
Travel bug.. (Jun 15)
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