Snivelling tourists not welcome.

September 29, 2006

When I say “I can’t stand snivelling tourists” — I really mean whiners — people who complain that the food tastes different and that nobody speaks English. I sort of see that as the point of travel. Well in preparation for the 2008 Olympics the Chinese government has developed an early warning system to identify such travellers. Upon entering China you will be given a from that asks you to check a box if you “Snivel”.

I think the intended meaning was: the act of breathing heavily through the nose (as when the nose is congested) rather than my usage of: cry or whine with snuffling; “Stop snivelling–you got yourself into this mess!” Of course, their way makes it much less useful.

One of the small annoyances and occasional amusements of travel is the baffling array of paperwork at every border, and China’s form is certainly not the first to offer a chuckle. Here is the Argentine Immigration form listing one of several occupation choices as simply “employee”.

On the road again…

September 25, 2006

Tokyo We left LAX 12 hours ago and are in the Tokyo Airport. We leave for Beijing in 2 hours. It still doesn’t feel real, but I am guessing it will hit me when I finally leave the sterile confines on the airport. I spent a few hours on the plane getting a few of my impressions of burning man written up for fear that if I didn’t get them out now, I never would. It feels good to be working on the blog again. I am not sure why it is so hard to do when I am in the US.

Burning Man

The Man at Burning manLife is short, burn something.

I am not sure where I first heard about Burning man, but I have wanted to go for a few years. Last year before setting out on the first leg of our trip I had contemplated going, but we had already made plans to go to Acadia. This year we finally made it. It was as exciting and exotic as any place we have been.

So what is Burning man?

To say it is annual festival in the desert of Northern Nevada is to say that that sex is the human behavior we evolved to encourage procreation. It is succinct and accurate, but it doesn’t give you a very good idea of what to expect.

Burning Man is an extreme camping trip. Extreme, in the sense of extreme sports –- it is a series of high energy spectacles, each striving to impress and amaze, to astound and delight. It doesn’t push the boundaries, it tries to convince you that the notion that boundaries is passe.

It is a magnificent mash up of survivalists and stilt walkers. Part Woodstock and part Las Vegas. Part Fourth of July and part Halloween. It is part Cirque du Soleil, and part “Pimp my Ride”. It is an art happening and a science fair. A burlesque show and tell. A place to birth your art and a place to burn your art. A sculpture garden of earthly delights. A commune for libertarians. A guided meditation and an Ibizan rave.

It is home for hipsters and hippies. A temple for technophiles and technophobes. It is a parade for maniacal mechanics and misfits in outfits. It is a stage for dusty jugglers and sunburned jigglers. A playground for queens and greens. A party for junkies and yogis. A laboratory for the chic and the geek. An experiment for anarchists and city planners. It is all these things, all at once.

Black Rock city, as the city is know, is a vibrant city with a peak population of 40,000. It has roads and plazas, neighborhoods and zoning. There is an airstrip, a TV station, a half dozen radio stations, a daily paper and an alternative paper, a postal system, a hostel, and an uncountable number of bars and clubs. There are workshops on an astounding variety of topics, a G.E.D. program, college classes, a lecture series and a film festival. There are Shabbat services and Hindu temple. There is a water slide, a roller rink, a Ferris wheel and a mini golf course. It is all non commercial and it is all free.

The city is an inferno of creativity and generosity and it is always there, as long as you only visit for one a week a year, because at the end of the week the entire city is dismantled and everything is removed returning the desert to its natural state and leaving no trace.

Here are some of the photos from Burning Man…

Art, Costumes and Spectacle

Art Cars

Critical Tits

Shadow Wall - My little contribution to the city

For more information on burning man visit

Where in the world are you?

September 16, 2006

?Several people have written to ask us just that. So here is a quick catch up.

We are in Sunny San Diego, CA and we will be here for one more week! We leave on September 24th for China and then we’ll work our way through SE Asia coming back the US in January.

We left sub-Saharan Africa (Namibia) in late March and went to Morocco (pictures are coming eventually). Then we met my parents in Paris. We came back in the States for a few months while I was looking at a business deal that ultimately did not happen. On the plus side it led us to Croatia for a conference.

We spent much of the summer catching up with friends and generally playing hooky from life. We have also spent some time trying to figure out where we want to live. San Diego, California is looking like the winner, but before we finally settle down we have one last spurt of international travel to finish — Asia.

However, we did take one trip here in the US that was as exotic as just about anything we have done overseas. We went to Burning Man. I’ll offer some thoughts on that shortly and there are a few stories I still want to tell from Africa, and hopefully I’ll find time for them too.