Author Archive

July 1st
2010
written by Bullet-Point Ben

Let’s say you’re thinking about taking some time off and traveling the world like we recently did.

It’s a given that you won’t come back from a world-wide walkabout as exactly same person.  Some people write books about their life-changing experiences, but for most travelers, the changes are small. To friends and family, the only immediately noticeable difference will be an annoying tendency to share world travel related anecdotes. “This reminds me of the time I was grilling kangaroo meat in Australia….”

But even if you have an “ordinary” world travel experience, here are some of the ways that world travel might affect you: (more…)

February 27th
2010
written by Bullet-Point Ben

In case you were worried about us, we’re just fine. We’re currently in Pucón, Chile, about 180 miles from the epicenter – about the same distance as Santiago. The earthquake felt like being on a really small boat in really rough seas for about 3 minutes. Obviously it was pretty scary, especially because it happened in the middle of the night (3:30am local time).  Possibly my new least favorite way of being awakened from a deep sleep. After the shaking stopped we started wondering what sort of effect it would have on the giant volcano just out our window. (no effect at all, apparently).  The town of Pucon seems to have been spared the worst effects of the earthquake.

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Interesting tidbit: you can (and probably will) get seasick from an earthquake.  Aside from the seasickness and having to go almost a whole day without internet, the earthquake wasn’t that bad.  Obviously conditions are a lot different closer to the epicenter in Concepcion.

February 23rd
2010
written by Bullet-Point Ben

The Patagonia region of South America is simply amazing.  I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, though to paraphrase Mark Twain, the difference seeing it and seeing the pictures is like the difference between lightning and lightning bug.  Every time I took a picture I wished you could zoom out more to fit all of the awesomeness in.

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We signed up for an ice trekking expedition – aptly called Big Ice – that took us to watch chunks of the Perito Mereno Glacier break off and fall into the water for a while and then go hike around on the glacier.  The photos tell the whole story…

(more…)

February 6th
2010
written by Bullet-Point Ben

Not every adventure is a rollicking success.  The first warning sign for this particular outing started when the taxi driver who took us to the bus station expressed great surprise that we were headed up to Las Cajas.  He kept saying “muy frio” and mimicking shivering.  The next warning sign came when the bus dropped us off along the side of the road, deep in the Andes and there was no big “Buenvenidos a Las Cajas” sign to greet us, no visitor center and gift shop bustling with tourists.  Just cold wind and rain and a shack with “abierto” (open, like a store) written on a piece of paper stapled to the door, some chickens out front and rocks holding the roof on.

Not the Las Cajas Visitor Center

Not the Las Cajas Visitor Center

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January 17th
2010
written by Bullet-Point Ben

Ben-Franklin-PirateBenjamin Franklin, inventor, pirate, and patriot, would have been 304 today.

Mr Franklin had an idea: what if I buy a book and then share it with as many people as I can, even strangers?!  In that spirit, he founded the first public lending library.  Today this basic concept has been ultra-optimized, thanks to the Internet, and is generally referred to as piracy.  An elaborate set of contradictory and confusing laws and precedents have been put in place so that libraries are legal and sharing mp3s on the Intertubes is illegal*.  But don’t kid yourself, when you check a book out from the library you are STEALING from the author as surely as if you put it in your pocket and walked out of Barnes and Noble without paying.

But Ben Franklin would approve – of checking out library books, anyway.  He might have approved of pirating mp3s too.  This is a guy who never patented any of his many inventions because he felt they should be used for the good of everyone.  He was also involved in a revolution, so you could argue he had problems with authority. If he were alive today, Franklin would probably be a member of the EFF.

*Downloading mp3s is not the same as checking a book out of the library because when you download an mp3 you make a copy whereas you have to return the book to the library.  Don’t worry, this loophole will be closed eventually.

November 8th
2009
written by Bullet-Point Ben

As you may have learned in elementary school, Pompeii is a Roman city that was covered in ash and preserved when Mount Vesuvius erupted 2,000 years ago.  In terms of ancient sites, Pompeii really stands out because of how it’s preserved.  It’s not like ancient sites that have been discovered in tumbled ruins and restored – like Machu Picchu – or ancient sites that have been handed down through the ages – like the Parthenon – Pompeii is an entire ancient city that has simply been frozen in time.  The difference is in the tiny details of everyday life that are visible everywhere. One-way streets and a pedestrian-only boulevard.  Takeout restaurants and beware-of-dog murals – some of them helpfully labeled “CAVE CANEM”.  It’s hard to believe that all of this was 2,000 years ago.

Beware of Dog

Beware of Dog

Pompeii fast food

Pompeii’s answer to Panda Express

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November 1st
2009
written by Bullet-Point Ben

People travel from all over the world to visit Pisa, for one reason: so they can take a picture where they pretend to support the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

This is the basic idea:

Europe_2004_54_Leaning_Tower_of_Pisa_Italy_Kendall-718611LeaningTowerpisa-leaning-tower-illusion

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October 24th
2009
written by Bullet-Point Ben

Venice is even more amazing than the postcards you’ve seen.  The real place is like a postcard in every direction.  For about 400 years (beginning in the 1300’s) much of the wealth of the world was concentrated in Venice, and the results are spectacular.

Some images from Venice:

Rialto Bridge Empty gondola (more…)

September 5th
2009
written by Bullet-Point Ben

We rented a car for 4 days for a road trip through southern France from Perpignan to Annecy.  The region is filled with Roman ruins, medieval castles, and endless fields of grape vines.  It is also where Van Gogh made his most famous paintings.


View Drive in Southern France in a larger map
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September 2nd
2009
written by Bullet-Point Ben

Before our current road trip through Southern France we spent a few days in Barcelona recuperating from the gotta-see-it-all site seeing we had done in Paris and visiting Alonna’s college friend Julien.

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Ben and Alonna somewhere in Barcelona

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