Beers for BARCC

Beers for BARCC

Last year, my wonderful friend Liz joined my team for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC) Walk for Change. As a fundraiser, she hosted a party with donated food and drink. The premise was that guests would donate to the BARCC Walk what they would have spent on a night out. The fundraiser was one of those great nights you hope they will all be, drinking pickle-backs and dancing to awesomely bad music. Liz raised a whole bunch of dough, but we realized the only thing holding her back from raising more money was the small size of her apartment. This year, Liz and I were determined to be even more competitive in the team standings. We also smartened up and joined forces with Hillary, who had captained her own team the year before. Lucky for us, Liz started working at Aeronaut Brewery in Somerville running their community events, and Hillary is a veteran of the food service industry. All three of ushad many friends who we knew wouldn’t donate to the BARCC Walk for a variety of reasons, but who would come to a fun event and throw cash in a jar. And so, #BeersforBARCC was born. Aeronaut donated the space free of charge, and Liz, Dillon, and several other Aeronaut bar staff agreed to work the event for no pay and no tips, which is so generous it’s bonkers. While folks would have to pay for the beer due to Massachusetts state law, we wanted them to feel like they were still getting a worthwhile experience in exchange for their donations. So Hillary and Liz got...
Dune Bashing in Qatar: Getting out of Doha

Dune Bashing in Qatar: Getting out of Doha

“Dune Bashing.” As soon as I heard the term, I know I wanted to go do it. I’ve been in Doha, Qatar since the start of the new year running a conference for work.  As part of an effort to let attendees relax and get to know the country better, our partners organized a caravan of off-road vehicles to take us romping around the desert near the Saudi border.  The ride was actually quite gentle compared to my past experience in the Egyptian Sahara, but it was still thrilling to cruise along the very edge of a dune, and bounce around the desert for a while. At this camp at the edge of the desert, about an hour away from the city of Doha, we took a break while the drivers got to work. They let the air out of all the tires, filling their air was a loud hiss that could be heard over the wind whistling through the sand. We enjoyed tea and huddle for warmth while some friends took camel rides around the tent. The angle was actually even crazier because I was also in a car at an angle, and didn’t have the good sense to use my new camera’s internal level to straighten out the horizon (which also had its own slopes.) A US dollar on the mirror and oil rigs in the background. Eventually we got out, and it was only a matter of time before the participants started going down the dunes. Some locals I talked to said that dune bashing is one of the few forms of local entertainment, especially in...
Blitzfest in Perry Park

Blitzfest in Perry Park

A few weeks ago, I got to see some friends play their music outside on an unseasonably warm October afternoon. Perry Park in Somerville has never had live music before, but that didn’t stop Wolf Blitzer (the band) from organizing the event, which some affectionately called #Blitzfest. Inspired by Porchfest, a much-beloved music festival held on the porches of private homes throughout Somerville, Nick Canton of Wolf Blitzer got the proper permission from local authorities and tapped some friends to fill out the schedule. One of my favorite things about living in Somerville is that there is always something interesting happening somewhere, and so many of the people who live here are invested in the place.  Throughout the day, neighbors came by to check out the music, and families with young kids who frequent the playground got their first taste of hipsters and alt rock. Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Like this:Like...
Surfing Lessons in Ireland

Surfing Lessons in Ireland

Surfing lessons in Ireland? Yes, you read that right! On our way toward Dingle, Ireland we stopped in Castlegregory to take a surfing lesson. It was a dreary, disgusting day, and I was not surprised that only three of us wanted to go–my brother, one half of a nice young couple who got stuck traveling with us, and me. Luckily, our traveling companions were more than happy to cheer us on from shore and take pictures. Even in the cold, Brandon Bay in County Kerry is a lovely place to spend a few hours. It was cold and rainy, and I have a feeling we were warmer than them in our wetsuits and booties. The wind was so strong that day that I could barely get myself and the board to the water without becoming a sail and blowing away. Our instructor, Jamie Knox of Jamie Knox Water Sports, was very understanding with my brother’s and my status as complete beginners during our surfing lessons. He went over safety rules and explained a few different technique we would use, and focused on getting us in the water early and often, to make the most of our lesson. Both my brother and I have terrible vision (I clock in at -8.00) and I can’t imagine that helps us in our aquatic adventures. Kevin was flying blind, and I wore some outdated contacts. There were several times when Jamie would be gesturing and we just looked at each other and shrugged because we had no clue what he was trying to say, but nobody got hurt so I guess it turned out...
Sea Kayaking Dingle Bay: A New View of Ireland

Sea Kayaking Dingle Bay: A New View of Ireland

Sea kayaking in Dingle was one of the things the drew us to Vagabond Tours.  We are an outdoorsy crew, owning two canoes and a kayak back home.  We knew we were going to be sea kayaking this trip, come hell or high water.  It was also one of the keys to a successful family trip–you are who you are, no matter where in the world you go. Irish Adventures was right on the waterfront in downtown Dingle.  Our guide, Noel, was funny and informative.  He also took some great images, although he didn’t seem to understand why it would pain me not to be able to take them myself.  Someday, I would love to have a camera or rig that can survive sea kayaking, but this was not that day. A few people were in tandem kayaks, but most were solo.  There was a quick lesson and continued instruction for those brand new to kayaking.  Michelle was a complete newcomer to sea kayaking but she was able to learn the techniques quickly from Noel and had no problem with the paddle.  We paddled along the bay in search of the famed Fungi the Dolphin.  I had read about him ahead of time and my bullshit detector lead me to believe there were a  few dolphins off the coast and on the rare occasion one was spotted, they were called Fungi.  Or that Fungi was a bit like the Dread Pirate Roberts or a child’s goldfish, secretly replaced every time he passed on. It turns out there was no need for the cynicism–Fungi is the rare lone dolphin, and he...
Elephant Rides: Animal Abuse vs. Tourism

Elephant Rides: Animal Abuse vs. Tourism

Elephant rides top many bucket lists, and tourists from around the world seek them out. Like walking into a guide book, we ran into “domesticated” elephants several times now in Kerala, India, always completely by accident.  Well, by accident or unknowingly on our part.  But the two times when we saw elephants at or near hotels were certainly no accident.  I quote the word domesticated because I’m not convinced that such an animal can be domesticated.  And if it can, surely this cannot happen over the course of one lifetime–isn’t true domestication a multi-generation process, a form of contrived evolution? According to EleAid, India has some of the strictest laws in Asia governing domesticated elephants, but the laws aren’t enforced.  City life is completely unsuited to what elephants need, and some elephants used in tourism or in temples are known for being chained to one spot their whole life or completely over-worked. Elephant rides often force animals to carry too much weight and for too long, with insufficient time to rest. Being on display in public exposes elephants to human food and limits their ability to exercise. As a person who loves animals (and used to spend quite a bit of time in the sciences), I find myself pulled between two poles: I want to both be with animals and see them able to live their lives naturally.  As interesting as it was to spot a bear on a neighbor’s porch in Maine, for example, it was sad to realize that this animal had acquired a taste for human food and was bold enough to walk up to someone’s...

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