A Year in Cities, 2014

Last year's post detailed my emergency same-day passport renewal in order to make a holiday trip to Kenya. In the end it all worked out. This year saw another passport emergency, and it didn't work out. Such are the vagaries of travel(ers). Thelma and I were to go to a friend's wedding in Spain--Menorca by way of Barcelona--but the night before departing Thelma realized her passport wasn't in its usual place. We were in the process of moving, so while both our apartment and a storage unit were scoured, the passport was gone, and our Sunday flight meant even the Atlanta Passport agency wouldn't be able to help. We cancelled the trip and mourned the loss of our only chance to go abroad this year. Then we drove to Savannah and eloped.

In a coffeehouse, natch,

In a coffeehouse, natch,

So, the list. As always, smaller places are excluded save for those in which I spent a longer amount of time. Bold type indicates a new-to-me place.

  • Washington, D.C. (I live here now!)
  • Atlanta, Georgia (I used to live here and still visit often because my wife lives there!)
  • Savannah, Georgia (the Menorca of the American Southeast!)
  • Colorado Springs, Colorado (friends!)
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (friends!)
  • Santa Fe, New Mexico (a wedding, i.e. friends!)
  • Daytona Beach, Florida (family!)
  • Mobile, Alabama (family!)
  • Greenville / Simpsonville, South Carolina (family!)
  • Charlotte, North Carolina (family!)

Despite what I see once again as meager list, I'm sure I've taken more flights this year than any other. This is thanks to moving house. A month after getting married, you see, I left my wife in Atlanta and moved to DC for a new job: I'm now the creative projects director at George Mason University's Mercatus Center.

n.b. Every couple should start marriage by dividing up their earthly goods, physically separating, and seeing each other one weekend a month.

The voucher for the cancelled ticket to Spain does offer the promise of a well-traveled 2015.  Friends beckon from faraway places, and thanks to cheap gas, that voucher will stretch much further than Spain. The choices are tantalizing: South Africa? Turkey? England? Thailand? Iceland? Hollywoodland? Neither Thelma nor I have ever been to South America.

The choices reveal a hard truth: a decision to go one place is a decision against any other. And as least year proved, where you don't go can matter a lot.

A Quick Review of *Why We Get Fat* by Gary Taubes

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About ItWhy We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The best book you can read challenging the received wisdom that obesity is problem of overeating and inactivity.

In Taubes' view, obesity is caused exclusively by the proportion of calories we consume. Contrary to most diet and nutrition advice of the last half of the 20th century, Taubes argues calories from fat and protein are good, but the calories from carbohydrates are responsible for America's ample stores of body fat and its attendant health problems. Exercise, whatever its broader benefit, is irrelevant for weight loss since it stokes the appetite.

This argument is slowing finding cachet, thanks to sugar (or really high fructose corn syrup) becoming the current obesity bugbear. Every food commercial now casts protein as the star. The fear of fat is also receding, though I still often can't find full-fat yogurt in the grocery store amongst all the low-fat added-sugar varieties.

Pity me as I wander the dairy aisle, hoping Taubes views to catch on sooner rather than later.

View all my reviews

Comcast/Xfinity On Demand Descriptions for Rick & Morty

The descriptions for episodes 4-8 of Rick and Morty (first three currently unavailable). They appear when viewing on demand from a set top box. The descriptions via xfinity online are the standard variety.

@Jeff_Holmes@RickandMorty do you have photos of the other episode descriptions? I couldn't find them on directv. They're all strange

— Justin Roiland (@JustinRoiland) March 23, 2014


On Safari in Masai Mara

As noted, I spent my Christmas holiday in Kenya. The highlight of the trip was a two-day safari in Masai Mara, my first.* We stayed at the Sarova Mara Game Camp, and our guide, Ken, was excellent.

*During my year in Rwanda I camped at Akagera National Park several times; there's some wildlife to be seen but not the kind or amount usually associated with a true safari.

We were also lucky. Each of our drives presented animals aplenty, and of the vaunted big five game, we missed only the rhinoceros. We even witnessed a kill--in this case a cheetah taking down a hapless antelope--a jewel missing in most safari-goer's crowns.

Below is a video (Vimeo or YouTube, pick your platform) I made of the trip. The video combines footage I shot with my D7000 as well as my iPhone 5, which served quite well an ersatz GoPro (The high frame rate capabilities of the 5s would've been awesome for this.). Considering it's verboten to leave the vehicle in the park, I was pleased with the variety of shots I got.  Take a look.

SPECIAL BLOG BONUS: At bottom check out a slideshow of the best stills.