Monday, October 31, 2005

Castle Dracula

(Castle Dracula, Romania)

I spent the night in Dracula's castle. Scary stuff. I recently contributed the story to the Arlington Heights Herald near Chicago. Check it out...

Castle Dracula

Where's the scariest place you've ever been?

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Hostels are awful, awful places filled with germs, drunk teenagers, and rats. I hope someday that I have enought money in the travel/writing pot that I can afford to stay somewhere else. Sure they're good places to meet people, but they're also good places to get a staff infection.

Quentin Tarantino is finally bringing the nightmare of Hostels to the silver screen with his aptly named movie, Hostel.

Watch the preview at Yahoo! movies. Keep in mind that most hostels aren't this bad.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Endless summer

Summer may have ended a month ago, but Kyle and I refuse to belive it. This past weekend we went down to Lake Cumberland in Kentucky for one last ski. The air was a tad bit cold, 50-60 degrees, but the water wasn't too bad, 70 degrees.

We skiied in beanies and rain jackets to combat the wind chill. Needless to say, we gave the drunk fishermen on the water something to talk about.

I made a page on my website for some of our friends who turned down the offer to accompany us on the adveture:

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Welcome readers of The Hub Weekly

I am happy to report that the Hub Weekly of Champaign, Illinois, has picked up my column, "Travelin' Light." This is the column's second week in The Hub.

I would like to welcome the readers in Champaign to contact me with any questions, stories, hot tips, recipes, home remedies, story suggestions, business ventures, etc.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Milwaukee, a ghost town???

When I am walking by myself in big cities that may be a little sketchy (any Central American capital), I always make sure to stay in populated areas. If I find myself walking block after block and seeing no one I get nervous, "Is this a bad neighborhood? Should I not be here?" and then I turn around.

I feel much more comfortable on a crowded city street, filled with hustlers, pickpockets, and hookers, than vacant ones.

The entire time I was in Milwaukee with my father (see below post) we saw about four or five people on the street. This made me uneasy. I had never heard of Milwaukee being a dangerous place, but where was everyone? It kind of felt like an Armageddon, End of days, post-apocalyptic kind of thing. There were plenty of big buildings, Dunk 'n Donuts, offices, museums, etc., but no people to fill them.

Someone call Homeland Security, the people of Milwaukee have all been abducted!

Smart enough to keep my mouth shut

14 people, mostly strangers to one another, were sitting at a nice Italian restaurant in Milwaukee. My father, Ken, and I were among their number.

All of the men are in the truss or lumber business, as is Ken, and were being treated to a dinner by a lumber broker from Canada. One would expect the conversation to be filled with talk of wood mold, the influence of the recent hurricanes on lumber prices, pine vs. spruce, and other such riveting conversation...


Instead, the conversation, at the painfully slow restaurant, covered such don't-even-go-there topics like abortion, euthanasia, and the war in Iraq. On Dad's left side sat an ultra conservative church deacon, who when asked what he does when he's not designing trusses answered, "I pray." and on his right a liberal Canadian fed up with United States politcs.

I watched my faher squirm and deftly avoid being sucked in to the conversation. I sat across the table and often had trouble suppressing laughter. There were several attempts made to end the conversation by outsiders, putting forth off topic questions like, "So, what's the weather like in Canada? I hear it gets pretty cold up there. " None were successful. With each passing minute the meal became more uncomfotable. The ultimate moment of uncomfortability came when the church deacon, while talking against euthanasia, began talking about his brother who he watched suffer and die from a brain tumor.

How do people not know to avoid certain topics when in the company of strangers. I am young and stupid, but even I know to keep my mouth shut.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The magic of the Nacirema

Today is Columbus Day and in honor of his discovery, I have posted a link below to an ethnography written by Horace Miner about one of the New World's strangest cultures:

Read carefully and you will find that the Nacierma are closely related to the Touron.

The article is kind of lengthy. If you are going to skim it, make sure you read the first and last couple of paragraphs.

Monday, October 03, 2005


(Malaria Boy livin' large in France)
My brother Kyle recently tried to attend a conference in Monaco. Unfortunately he came down with malaria. Yep...MALARIA in FRANCE!!!????

It turns out that Kyle brought back more from our summer trip to Honduras than some local crafts. How about a liver full of parasites?

He had been back in the US for two months before he started to come down with any signs of the disease : low grade fevers and overall exhaustion. At the time he was studying for his preliminary exams for his doctorate and attributed his waning phyical condition to mental stress. He was wrong.

In France, instead of attending the conference in Exercise Immunology, he spent 1 day in the emergency room, and 2 in the center for tropical diseases. Kyle has yet to admit it, but I think he learned more and had a better time at the hospital than he would of at the conference.

I recently caught up with Kyle at his 5-room rental chateau in Lafayette, Indiana:

Touron Talk(TT): How was the fine, French cuisine?
Malaria Boy(MB): Uhh, not very good.

(TT NOTE: I think I speak for all of us when I say I am glad that infirmed Frenchmen suffer like the rest of us.)

TT: I hear that French women don't get about the nurses (wink...wink)?
MB: I guess they weren't.
TT: Were they good looking?
MB: Not really.
TT: Did they have moustaches.
MB: ???

(TT NOTE: From this point on the interviewee largely ignored my progressively low browish questions. The interview concluded with a ground breaking discovery.)

TT: How was the Jello?
MB: There was none?
TT: ????

The life expectancy in France is 1.6 years longer than ours in the United States. Obviously, the consumption of Jello in our hospitals is leading to our shorter lives.

Kyle is doing fine, but is still a little tired. Dr's expect him to make a full recovery, although the rare type of malaria that he contracted may flare up occasionally for the next few years. What better excuse is there to miss work? Sorry, boss. Malaria flaring up again.

Both of us took the anti-malarial medication Chloroquine before, during, and after our adventures in Honduras. This was the recommended medication for the region we visited, but apparenlty not 100% foolproof. Visit to learn what anti-malaria medication to take on your next trip.