Sunday, December 21, 2008

I just got back from Tanzania & I'm giddy. I sat down at my computer to check my neglected email accounts, and I just paused to take it all in. I couldn't stop smiling at the thought of reliable power, hot water, non-dirt floors, soap, and a comfortable bed.

Once again, I'm truely happy that I have a renewed sense of satisfaction & understanding for the posh lives we live as westerners. I don't want this feeling to go away, but it naturally will fade as I'm back home & I start to take these things for granted. That just means that I'll need to do another trip next year to renew my understanding & appreciation.

Even though it's -6F outside, I'm happy to be home for the holidays.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My first pass at packing for my trip to Tanzania... I'm packing for the full weather spectrum; 0F on the top of Kilimanjaro & a balmy 85F in the Serengeti.

Betsy rolls 170K. After 16 years, she's still going strong!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Today was the first day of snow in Milwaukee. It didn't amount to much; just icy roads. However, I've been stoked about the upcoming winter & snowboarding.
I ran across this movie - I will definately be purchasing this. Watch the trailers & be amazed.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

This is what happens when you forget the tent poles & adamantly demand to test out your new sleeping bag.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Your trash has arrived too late; my ballot has been cast!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

One step closer to Kilimanjaro!!!

If you think that you've fallen on hard financial times as an American, I hope you consider that you are wealthier than most of the world. My $25 went to a mother/daughter who are trying to start a small business selling clothing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

After a few months of work, I have finally sent my first photograph project to Blurb to be published. I'm excited to see the photos in a more formal format than on my screen. I ordered one copy before I purchase additional copies (as Christmas gifts to my immediate family).

While I'm waiting for my book to arrive, my sunglasses should be arriving soon.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

An organic vegetarian restaurant in the beer & brat capital of the midwest? Yes - it's true! I was expecting a restaurant more along the lines of what I'd find in Bayview or Riverwest, but this was in an upscale outdoor shopping mall in Brookfield. The owners & staff were extremely attentitive & polite.

I had the Peace Bowl with Curried Cashew Crunch - light, aromatic, and very flavorful. I'd eat it again. In after meal discussions, I think that our next visit needs to involve a handful of appetizers & some dessert, as we were too full to eat any more food.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I found a blog that blows my mind - I found a link from Melanie Flood's blog. The author is having an abortion, and has decided to share the extremely personal experience with the world. This isn't for everyone; especially god-fearing religious cultist people. However, it's been a raw glimpse into a world that I will never know & cannot fathom.

Today's post was a good reminder that regardless of what your views are on any subject, you should keep your mouth shut unless asked for your opinion.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm a winner!!!!!

I signed up for a writing contest with Spy Optic in July. The entrants with the best travel stories would win an assortment of prizes. While I didn't capture 1st, I'm the male runner-up!

Here's what I submitted:
I was backpacking in Southeast Asia last year with my friend James. We had just finished a 7 day trek through the northern mountains. I was enjoying the comforts of Luang Prabang – mainly the hot water & daily $6, one hour massages. In an effort to disrupt the daily cadence of eating, lounging, and massages, we signed up for a kayak trip. After a morning of paddling, everyone devoured the cold lunch comprised of sticky rice, vegetables, beef, chicken, and fish. We ended the trip mid-afternoon with a long tuktuk ride back to Luang Prabang.

By late afternoon, lunch wasn’t cooperating with James’ stomach. While we were walking to the market, he made a few emergency stops to spill his stomach along the roadside. As James languidly trudged back to the guesthouse, I was keenly aware of the time. I couldn’t miss my nightly massage! Leaving him with a bottle of water, I dashed to my massage. After an hour of bliss, I wandered to the night market for dinner. I didn’t return to the guesthouse - I assumed that James would not eat. I frequented my favorite food stall for spring rolls, fried vegetable noodles, and a Beer Lao. While I was eating, I struck up a conversation with an American from San Diego. The next thing I know, I’m at one of the local tourist bars with a group of people I just met. I finally stumbled into the guesthouse around 12am. As soon as I opened the door, I realized something was amiss. The room was trashed. Water bottles were strewn around the room, and it looked like animals had attacked James' backpack. Where was James? While I was taking in the scene, I noticed a note on my bed.

I sat down and tried to formulate a plan. I needed to go to the hospital, but it was midnight – the town was shut down. I found a town map inside my Lonely Planet book. I noted the location of the Luang Prabang hospital, and headed out. I asked the clerk at the guesthouse if he had seen my friend and he confirmed that James was at the hospital. I mentioned to the clerk that I was going to walk to the hospital, as no motorbike taxis ran after 11pm. He bolted upright and tried to convince me that walking was not possible. My clouded judgement made it hard to concentrate on what he was saying - something about it being far and having no lights... The Lonely Planet map that I was referencing showed the hospital to be a 10 minute walk from the guesthouse. Having visited Luang Prabang several years earlier, I was confident that I could find the hospital.

When he understood that I was intent on leaving, he offered to give me a ride. His selfishness was a reminder of what I had experienced throughout Laos – locals were always willing to help without any expectation of repayment.

I realized the clerk was right - it took us 15 minutes of speeding along dark, dirt roads to reach the hospital. The Lonely Planet map was outdated - the hospital had moved since the book was published! Thanking the driver, I wandered inside to try to find James.

I found him writhing in pain with an IV in his arm. James recounted his story of crawling to the guesthouse clerk to ask them to take him to a doctor. The doctor looked at him & immediately sent James onward to the hospital. He was dehydrated from 7 hours of being unable to hold anything in his stomach. The doctor had given James some pills, said something in a mixture of Lao & English, and then walked out of the room.After 30 minutes of watching James writh with stomach pain, I drifted off to sleep. I woke up shivering in the middle of the night & realized I was sleeping on a steel table that was meant to be a bed. The cold air was spilling into the room through the glassless windows. I had one blood-stained sheet to keep me warm – I couldn’t ask for a blanket because the on-duty nurse spoke Lao. As I laid there yearning for morning to come, I realized this was a small punishment for abandoning James at the guesthouse in favor of a beautiful massuese.

One week later, I was fortunate enough to pick up the same malady from a bag of sticky rice & chili paste…

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I fasted today in the spirit of Ramadan. Although I don't share the same religious beliefs as my Muslim friends, the lack of food & water during the day was a great reminder of what I take for granted each day. There are thousands of places around the world (I've seen some of them) where clean drinking water is not the norm. Clean water is something that is sought after.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I was listening to music the other day & actually reading the lyrics - an activity that used to be obligatory when I was younger. As I continue to struggle with the idea of ideal conditions in life, this song struck a nerve. I'm not listing the band name right away, as I don't want it to detract (or insert) any preconceptions. I'm curious what this song means to other people.

"See the animal in his cage that you built. Are you sure what side you're on? Better not look him too closely in the eye. Are you sure what side of the glass you are on? See the safety of the life you have built. Everything where it belongs. Feel the hollowness inside of your heart. And it's all right where it belongs.

What if everything around you isn't quite as it seems? What if all the world you think you know is an elaborate dream? And if you look at your reflection, is it all you want it to be? What if you could look right through the cracks? Would you find yourself; find yourself afraid to see? What if all the world's inside of your head, just creations of your own? Your devils and your gods. All the living and the dead. And you're really all alone?

You can live in this illusion. You can choose to believe. You keep looking but you can't find the woods while you're hiding in the trees. What if everything around you isn't quite as it seems?What if all the world you used to know is an elaborate dream? And if you look at your reflection, is it all you want it to be? What if you could look right through the cracks. Would you find yourself; find yourself afraid to see?"

Thanks to Trent Reznor for writing such a great song.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The FNP (Friday Night Party) crew got together on Saturday for an SNP on Lake Michigan.

The Plan: Rendevouz at McKinley Marina at 16:30. Take out Pam's boat for a cruise, and then head upriver to dine on some delectable organic food at Yaffa.

The Participants: Boat, Jason, Sydney, Leah, Ryan, Jeremy, Milwaukee Auxilliary Coast Guard

Little did we know that while we had dinner plans at Yaffa, Boat had dinner plans with the Milwaukee Auxilliary Coast Guard. Boat took us to the South Shore Marina to look at sailboats that are powered by the wind, not by motors. As we were heading back to the Milwaukee River for dinner, the motor sounded like it was running on air instead of petrol. We desperately tried to restart the boat, but we didn't have any luck.

While each of us have the patience of a meandering river, nature's forces were at work. My bladder was about to break, and the crew was getting hungry. Someone mentioned something about Early Onset Scurvy (EOS to those of you in the medical field). A grave mood settled over the boat. We all knew that scurvy causes bleeding from mucous membranes. What was even worse was that we didn't have any oranges on board. We had to get the situation under control. I clutched my mobile phone & called the Coast Guard.

The rest of our trip is history. I would like to extend my thanks to the Milwaukee Auxiliary Coast Guard. You saved my life, and the lives of my friends.
I also learned some good lessons:
1. Go to the restroom prior to boarding a boat without a head.
2. Bring oranges when you go out on the water. An afternoon cruise may turn into a vitamin-C-deprived-fight-for-your-life.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's day turned out to be a good day to visit my grandparents. I've been wanting to photograph my grandpa's junk yard, but I haven't had the time/energy to drive out there to do so. Today was a beautiful day for a motorcycle ride, so the combination of a ride & taking some photos equated to an enjoyable morning.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I feel myself grasping for situations, circumstances, or events that help my logic reinforce how good my life is. I guess it's my way of remaining grounded; humble. I just came across something while browsing Mel's blog.

I've heard news articles reference 'the working poor' - I know that term. I don't know many people in that situation. This is a short still/audio documentary of San Francisco's hotels, entitled Hotel Poverty.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

On Saturday, I had another battle with the insects of southeastern Wisconsin. I am pleased to announce that I am undefeated.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I just finished watching a documentary entitled Air Guitar Nation. You're probably wondering:

A) why are you watching this?
B) someone made a film about playing the air guitar?

while some others are thinking
C) what the hell is an air guitar?

A: I rented this from Netflix because it sounded hilarious. The weather was bad today, so I watched it while I exercised.

B: Yes - I never knew you could make an interesting film that lasts for 120 minutes, based on people that are pretending to play the guitar.

C: People compete to determine who is the best at pretending to play a guitar to music. Each contestant chooses one song, and then all of the contestants have to 'play' a song that they haven't practiced. A world air guitar championship is held in Finland once per year, starting in 1996. Winners from many countries (Belguim, UK, Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, US, etc) compete at the world championships.

When I started watching the film, I was ready for everything to be hilarious & filled with comedy. By the end of the film, I found myself critiquing the contests air guitar skills! I haven't gained a single brain cell, but at least the film was entertaining. It also illustrates that there is something that every person can do well - you just need to find your niche.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I rode in the Miller Lite Ride for the Arts last Sunday. I'm happy to say that I set a personal best record - I covered 75 miles in 3hr 59min. I had help - I was cycling with a guy by the name of Rick. He was just a random cyclist that was pedaling at the same speed that I was, so we decided to team up. Thanks for the help Rick - I would have never finished that quickly if I had been riding by myself.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I've never run into so many bugs at was like it was raining bugs. In total, I'd say that I am responsible for the death of about 500.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

I rode my motorcycle today, it made me happy for a while.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Chill of the torch

I met my friend Gege in Seoul today. I originally met him in Mongolia, where he served as my guide for 3 weeks as we drove around the Mongolia countryside northwest of Ulanbaatar. He is working 6 days a week from 6p to 6a, so we only had a few hours to hang out this afternoon. It was great catching up with him. He moved her from Mongolia a few months ago, and he's currently learning Korean, working 72 hours a week, and taking several hours of class each week at a local university. Every time I think that my situation is bad, I will think of Gege & realize that I haven't learned the definition of hardship or even hard work. Gege - if you read this, I hope that you are successful in your goal of making it to the US. I'll do whatever I can to help you get established - your persistence gives me faith in mankind.

The police & Chinese students were out in mobs today. I saw more Chinese flags today than I saw during my entire week in Shanghai. In total, there were probably about 1000 - 2000 students in the area of Seoul that I was passing through. I made the assumption that the Olympic torch was coming through town in the next few days, since there were mobs of Chinese students who were peacefully demonstrating.

After I parted with Gege, I started to walk back to my hotel. About 2 km into my walk, the street was booming with voices. I increased my pace to see what the commotion was about. As I drew on further, there were a few Olympic floats so I assumed there was a little parade. About 2 minutes later, the yelling turned into a roar. The chanting was laced with so much emotion that I had a feeling shoot towards the end of my limbs. I think that my brain realized that I was in the middle of so many people who were pro-China, and I hold the opinion that Tibet should be its own sovereign nation. Needless to say, I think that I was surprised & fearful of the power that radiated from the crowd.

Before I knew it, there were buses of athletes passing by. About 20 seconds later, I saw the Olympic torch run past in a mob of about 100 runners. I tried to take some photos, but unfortunately I wasn't prepared.

I'm very fortunate to have seen the torch being carried through Seoul, as I doubt that I'll ever see it carried through the streets of Milwaukee. The experience resonates within me; anyone that sees the power & feels the desire of the Chinese people will understand. China will become the world's next superpower. While there will be some transition time, I think about all of the poor decisions that superpowers make; and specifically how the rest of the world must just watch it happen. I think of the US and it's push to start the Iraq war - these types of unsubstantiated decisions & injustices will only feel more bitter when another country commits them.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Somewhere in Seoul...

I had an awesome food experience last night. Awesome like the first time that I had gelato in Italy or sushi in Japan. What made the experience even better is that this was my first time. I recall eating Korean food on a number of occasions back home, but this was beyond what those restaurants could only hope to attain.

I found the place within 15 minutes of my hotel last night; the name is Pool Hyang Ki. I walked in, replied to a greeting that I didn't understand with 'hello', and took off my shoes. The restaurant was empty, save for the 50+ year old women who were working there. My server pointed to the a page on the menu, and said '[korean words I don't understand] vegetarian [more korean]'. I nodded & smiled in approval, not knowing what was coming next.

Soon enough, she came back with a serving tray of food. 5 to 8 dishes, at least. I started to dig into the food, chopsticks in hand. She came back with a fork - I shook my head no; I don't need those things! Before long, I had 18 dishes of food set in front of me. Good thing that I was sitting at a table for 4 people...

The tastes were amazing, savory soy flavors with the sour & salty flavors of the kim chee. Other dishes were extremely spicy. I was smiling. This is the best food experience that I've had in months. I had a table of food in front of me; I didn't know the names of any dishes, and I didn't recognize many of the ingredients, but all of them were incredible. One of life's moments, where I sit back & smile, happy that I'm alive.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I came across an article on BBC that showcased some medical studies that were happening in Europe. It seems that we cannot rely on pills/supplements alone to keep us healthy! Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a bit of a health freak, and I find it humourous that (time & time again) the advice from medical experts recommends eating a well balanced diet.

It's further proof of one of two things - vitamin marketing really works or we ignore 'ideal' suggestions in favor of convenience. I wonder if the day will come where we can take meal pills, instead of the tedious task of preparing & eating food...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Last week we had turned our FNP into a Saturday night party. The theme was red; the menu included borsch, Thai red curry w/ vegetables (and chicken), red wine, and creme brulee. I think I may have usurped Leah's position of dessert chef, as evidenced by the ravenous devouring of the creme brulee!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I just returned from a week in Hong Kong! The week was long due to the couple days of jet lag, but I'm looking forward to sleeping in my bed tonight! I was there for work, but I had a day to enjoy the city & take some photos.

I've posted some of my photos: Hong Kong photos

Friday, February 15, 2008

Last Sunday I returned from a few days of snowboarding at California's Mammoth Mountain. My uncle Tom has a place there, so it was a logical place to visit when I was talking with my dad & Josh about a snowboarding trip this season. I met both of them in Reno, and we drove 3 hours south to Mammoth.

We couldn't have had better weather. Every day was between 40 - 50F, with full-on California sunshine. My eyes were permanently dilated at first, as they were used to the gray, overcast skies of Wisconsin. The best part of the trip was all of the tree skiing that we did - Lil B & I found that the trees were the best parts to play in. There was still some packed powder left, and the chaos of bombing down a hill avoiding the trees adds an element of fun. Besides being outside playing in the snow, this was the last time in recent history that I've spent more than a day with my father & brother.

I haven't had any time to post photos, as I've been busy this week catching up with friends & tending to chores around the house. I'll post some to my Flickr account soon.

Update - here are the pics.
I'm headed to Hong Kong for the week - I'll be sure to post a story & some photos when I get back!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I wanted to post this a couple of weeks ago, but never got around to it. To all my friends living in warmer climates (who cannot believe the temps), here's some proof:

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I tried googling myself today - it seems as though I'm not quite as inconspicuous as I had originally thought. It seems my tenure at MKE has made me well known to the entire internet. Of course, someone has to be interested enough to type 'jeremy irwin' into the google search, but I won't get into that... ; )

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I had the FNP (Friday Night Party) crew over for dinner & drinks last night. I hadn't been to an FNP since November, so we were well overdue for a dinner party. We had originally decided on an Indian theme, but changed our minds. Carrie & Noel didn't get the updates until late, so dinner was more of a fusion. The menu included samosas, dal, sauteed veggie sandwiches with fresh mozzerella & pesto, Meyer Secret Family Recipe salad, caramel/apple cake, pisco sours, beer, and vodka.

I had a bottle of pisco (bought in Peru in 2005) that was never opened, so we made drinks. For anyone that hasn't had one, I can recommend it. If you like mojitos, margaritas, caipirinhas you will enjoy a pisco sour. Here's a good recipe:

After dinner, we busted out some guitar hero. I'm not certain how loud we were, but I'm guessing it was fairly noisy. We captured some awesome pics - the best are highlighted below.

Jason plays air guitar while Syd & Carrie rip it up

Looks like Ryan is concentrating too much

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My blog from my recent holiday in Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos is finally completed! After 30+ hours of turning my journal into the blog, editing photos, and putting everything online, I can finally take a break from Blogger & Flickr for a bit. Here are the links - they are also to the right -->


I'm happy to report that I'm going snowboarding this weekend at Granite Peak with Lil Buddy - hopefully I'll have some photos to post.