Travel

Sit on Einstein’s lap

One of the crazier things that I wanted to do when I was in DC (the same visit I did the spy museum was go visit Einstein’s monument. I originally wanted to do this in between my house/senate visits, but the M3s who were around wanted us to stick together, which was fine. So we ended up together going to the Washington Monument. If we had not stopped for lunch, we might have been able to hit Einstein which was not that much further.

However, since we didn’t, I went out the following day. I walked from the Washington Court hotel to the monument and walked back. That is an hour walk each way for the record. I left right after our great presentation on branding/media relations, and came back just in time (about 10 minutes early) for clinical skills where I sutured for almost 2 hours.

It was a few miles walking, each way and it seems he is a popular place to visit. Everyone was taking photos with Einstein which was just outside the National Academy of Sciences. There is a copy of the celestial sphere at his feet which is pretty detailed although a slightly easier one to cope with is on the plaque in front of him. I would love to be in the NAS but that might be because I am very weird and I have a strong love for the sciences.

I know I tend to have a bit of an ego in this matter, but I wonder what proportion of the tourists know what he did besides E=MC^2? Or can even state what that means? Would you do this?

Completed : 2016

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Children’s Holocaust Memorial

Another on the Roadside America, I drove several hours out of my way to come here. I’ve wanted to come since I learned the memorial was not terribly far from where I lived. I nearly had a nervous breakdown when entering the car and listening to the audio. (My only complaint is that the audio tour needs to be redone with a professional and de-Christianized.) I am a gay identified, disabled, observant Jew whose partner is of Romani descent, there is no way that I would have survived the Holocaust.

As is Jewish custom, I placed a small stone near the one side of the car. There were other people present and I am not sure if they noticed a few tears when I was standing off to the side looking at all of the paperclips and the apology to the Frank family.

The disrespect the other visitors had was astounding. One of the other visitors knocked down my stone, but did replace it and I was being stared at by younger visitors because of the kippah. It was a good thing I was not wearing my tzitzit. I looked through some of the holes in the car wondering what my people saw when they were being transported like cattle. Was the car being stared at like how the young girl was staring at me?

Although there was no minyan present, once the audio tour was over, I felt saying Kaddish was the right thing to do. When I left the car, I went around it, and rhetorically asked the car how many of my people did it transport to their deaths? 80-150 people per transport, how many transports did that particular car make? The car, of course, remained silent.

May all of their memories be a blessing.

Completed : 2014

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International Spy Museum

A few days ago, I just got back from Washington DC where I was participating in the Medical Student Advocacy and Region Conference 2016, where I was to learn how to be an advocate and even got to speak to the staffers for Senators and House members. While I was there, I tried to knock things off my bucket list.

I was able to run to Arlington to pay my respects to my grandfather. Pop Pop, a WWII vet, is buried in court 5 and his 13 year yahrzeit just passed not long ago. No one had visited him yet so I was the first.

When I arrived in DC, I still had some time to do something and since I like interactive museums and I was recommended some time ago to visit the International Spy Museum in Washington DC which was already on my radar because it was listed as a thing on Roadside America’s website, that is what I did. I thought this was a really interesting offbeat museum dedicated to real and fictional (James Bond mostly) spies.

They also have a few additional interactive things, but the fact is you are unlikely to get to play with any of the interactive things because they are so popular and people like hogging the exhibits. What you do with this is you go in, wait for the elevator (only holds 25 people at a time) and they send you to a room where you pick a new identity. Then in the next rooms, you can look at movie props or real spy equipment or you can play with the exhibits if you are lucky.

This place is expensive though and for me, it was like $23 or something and I just took the museum. There was another thing you could do where you had some mission that you could also do. This is probably not the best for a solo person, but might be much more interesting for families. I had to work alone and this place was so crowded. The only thing I established is that I would make a great spy although I am sure that surprises anyone who knew me as a child.

What about you? Would you make a good spy? Would you even want to do it?

Completed : 2016

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Blizzards, Evacuations, and Ghosts… Oh My!

In Feb 2015, we had a bit of a blizzard in North Georgia on the top of a mountain. I am not sure how many of you are from up north, but here in the South, we don’t have insulation since we spend the fast majority of our time trying to get RID of the excess heat if possible not trying to keep it in. We don’t have salt or anything of the sort. At one point, I was in a temperature of 1 degree F and a wind chill of -15 degrees. It’s a bit cold and colder if you don’t have something like a heater or anything.

And by blizzard, I mean no one could leave their house so it was a southern blizzard not a Northern blizzard where there was 10 feet of snow. I myself was stuck in my grandmother’s cabin in Blairsville Georgia for and could not do much of anything really. I spent one entire week iced in, then the next week snowed it. For a place where it doesn’t snow (per my grandmother) we sure got a lot of it. In fact, a state of emergency was called for the area and residents were urged to not leave their homes for any reason. Given the cabin is on an unpaved mountain road where no one can get up it or down it safely under the best of times, in the snow one couldn’t even try.

But I thought all of that was ok because I had nowhere else to be for a few days, I had to run down to Savannah eventually but I was planning on leaving on Wednesday. When I found out Monday morning that snow was gone but that it would be coming back in a few hours and that we would be snowed in again making my Wednesday travel plan impossible, I opted to leave almost immediately.

I brought the trash down to the dump, grabbed a few more medications, threw my only half packed suitcase in the car and headed out. I was still in my pajamas which I had thrown clothing over in order to go to the dump. (Don’t judge me I was going to go back to bed). I was not expecting at all to be on the road Monday. I was going to stay in Atlanta on Monday night but it turned out that the snow was going to hit Atlanta as well that night (and it in fact shut down the city) so I tried to sleep in my car in a rest area near Macon (I was a bit late as I was having dinner with a friend), but that turned out to be way too noisy so I checked into an Econolodge.

The next day I arrived in Savannah and spent a few days there exploring the historic district, went on the trolly tour, visited the Jewish cemetery, and the Reform synagogue (third oldest shul in the US). I decided I wanted to go on a ghost tour, but with how the weather was, we had to keep rescheduling my Hearse Tour which was cute. Could have been scarier but then it would have killed the old passengers with me. I enjoyed my time in Savannah. I would have liked to actually go hunt for ghosts though! I could definitely consider living there if the Jewish community had more kosher food.

Have you ever had to evacuate? What did you do and where did you go?

Completed : 2015

Categories: Nature, Travel | Tags: , , ,

Scopes Monkey Trial site

For the past few years, I’ve been wanting to pay my respects to John Scopes by visiting the site where the famous “Monkey Trial” was conducted especially since I learned there was a museum at the Rhea County Courthouse where the trial was held. Today is the 90th anniversary of the decision date.

When I was at Oxford College, in history class we had a group project and as I was declaring myself an Anthropology major, I swayed the group to do Scopes. This was the first time I ever heard of the trial despite going to a science magnet high school. In short, the Scopes Monkey trial occurred in Dayton, Tennessee in 1925, when a high school teacher John Scopes was charged with teaching evolution then forbidden by a Tennessee law called the Butler Act. He did teach evolution and was fined $100. He later became a geologist.

The details of the trial really don’t matter very much however this was one of the first times this issue came up and it is an issue that to this day is STILL being fought. While we (the evolutionists) did technically lose the trial, we did have a partial win. The prosecutor, William Jennings Bryan, lost a lot of evangelical support when he admitted that the 6 days of the Bible could have been longer than 24 hours. He also died not terribly long after the trial probably of exhaustion from all the traveling he was doing.

The amusing thing to see is how times have changed (or you could say “evolved”). Bryan was a Democrat courting the evangelicals.

But back to the museum. It took me much longer to drive there than to walk through it. Heck it took me longer to walk to the building and get through the joke-of-security to get in. The entrance at the basement is not where they want you to enter and you have to go all the way to the back of the building, walk through an unmanned metal detector, then go down a flight of stairs to the basement. The museum handling Scopes is about half of the basement. It was cute, but only a few small rooms. Then you can go upstairs to see what the courtroom was like, really though, I wonder how accurate that was since it looked pretty modern plus even had a modern sign saying that circuit court was at 9 am. Apparently every year, the town does a play called “Front Page News” in July which reenacts part of the trial. I was actually going to consider doing that however, since I needed to move to a location further away, I figured I might as well do it when I was closer to it.

I am not ashamed to be an evolutionist, I do however fear for the rest of this country which doesn’t seem to understand what evolution is even about and how it does not conflict with faith. I posted a photo of the sign about the Scopes trial to a Photo-a-day challenge and an anti-evolutionist complained about how people are still trying to teach it. I had to ask if she was talking evolution or “creation science.” She said evolution because it’s not still happening. Then I had to explain what it was and give several examples of experiments which supported evolution. I am starting to fear for this world.

When will people learn that we should leave science to the people qualified to teach science?

Completed : 2014

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Georgia Guidestones

So one of the weirder things in the state of Georgia, as if we could get any weirder, is a thing called the Georgia Guidestones. No one is really sure who put up the money to construct them but they are in the middle of absolute nowhere Georgia. Now when someone says they can be seen from a highway, I expect it to not be in the middle of nowhere. (I personally strongly disagree about what the state of Georgia calls a “highway.”)

The partner wanted to eventually see this but he never got around to it. This is what I was heading towards when I was distracted by the Laurel and Hardy museum when I was coming back from Augusta. I did eventually get back on track and I was able to find them although trying to get a GPS address for them was a bit of a pain, but it is 1065 Guidestones Rd., Nuberg, GA.

The guidestones are about 19 foot and total there are the guidelines in 8 languages (English, Spanish, Swahili, Hindi, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian) and there are other things in 4 others. These are what the guidestones say:

1) Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
2) Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
3) Unite humanity with a living new language.
4) Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
5) Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
6) Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
7) Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
8) Balance personal rights with social duties.
9) Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
10) Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.

Here is a youtube video about them as I cannot put up the good photo I took of them.

So are these rules good to live by? What do you think? Which one is going to be the hardest to do? Personally I vote 7!

Completed: 2015

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Laurel and Hardy Museum

I’m becoming a big fan of Roadside America attractions and now will just stop whenever I see something that looks interesting and I have the time.

So I was coming back from Augusta getting a tour of the Equality Clinic where I am eventually going to be volunteering, and was going back home when I saw this little sign saying “Laurel and Hardy Museum”.

“Hmm…”, I thought to myself, “My grandmother might like that!” and turned off at the rapidly approaching next exit to go to it. After following the whole TWO signs, I was convinced I had to have passed it, so I asked both iVarney (my iphone which has both Siri and a voice activated search) and Moses (my voice-activated Garmin) to try to find the museum. Wouldn’t you know it, neither of them even came close, although I have to assume it is because “Laurel and Hardy” is not a common search, although they really wanted to take me to the closest Party City. Sigh.

So I was looking and looking for a place to pull over and there is nothing on that stretch of road. Luckily I knew if I continued, surely something would have to appear. Of course the first available parking lot happened to be their museum.

They are open most, but not all days of the week over in Harlem GA. As someone who is not a big fan I really had very little idea of what I was looking at. I am actually not sure which one is which if I can be honest. I mostly just know them from the references that are made to them in cartoons. I was more of an Abbott and Costello fan personally. They had tons of memorabilia in a decent sized room, maybe a little bigger than the average living room.

The cost is donation based so I gave them $5 as while I am not a fan of theirs, I want to make sure it stays open so that my grandmother can visit it one day. She would get a kick out of it!

Since I am not incredibly versed in Laurel and Hardy, what is your favourite movie of theirs?

Completed : 2015

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Roadside America – Go to Hell (Michigan)!

Ever since I learned about the little town of Hell, Michigan, I wanted to go there. I can’t remember how I even found out that there WAS a Hell Michigan. I said one day if my family loved me they would pay the $100 and make me mayor for a day. But I said I wanted to do it either on the hottest day of the year or on a day when it was really cold (basically Hell frozen over).

I never expected to actually go to Hell, but when I was interviewing for medical school, I had to go to Michigan and Hell was not too far from East Lansing.

I don’t know who thought that it would be great to have the Floridian come to Michigan right after a blizzard when the temperature was still below freezing, but I took advantage of the situation.

Since I was driving to East Lansing Michigan, I pulled over for the night at a truck stop less than 20 miles from “Hell.” It was 24 degrees F the next morning according to my phone and I had tons of time to kill which meant… yes… I was going to go to Hell.

Hell, by the way, does not come up in my GPS. Luckily the website gave the coordinates which, although they were not perfect, they get you to the point where you could actually see part of Hell. Unsurprisingly I was there slightly early and I was completely floored by the fact I was looking at large piles of snow. Of course I could not see very much due to the aforementioned snow but I took a few videos and a few pictures determined that I would come back when Hell was open so I could eat or browse the gift store. I took a note of the time and a half hour after the opening but it was still closed. I was sad, but I had photos!

As someone who is always being told they are going to Hell, I am actually planning on milking this joke for as long as I possibly can.

Anyway here is a photo of me in Hell

Hell, MIchigan

Hell, MIchigan

And of course we have some youtube videos

When people tell me to go to Hell now I can say I’ve already been. What do you tell people when they tell you to go to Hell or that you are going to Hell?

Completed: 2014

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Visit Asia – Turkey and Israel

While the official one of the “101 things to do” is to visit every country, I realistically don’t want to visit every country. Some countries scare me. However, I would be happy visiting every continent at first and then trying to collect as many individual countries as possible.

My first step out of the country was to the Middle East, which officially is in Asia, which is the continent I least wanted to go to. The visit was primarily to Israel which in all fairness was one of the countries that I did say I would get a passport to go visit. I certainly thank my friends Jorg, Connie, two of my rabbis and A Wider Bridge to help me get out there. I also went to Turkey which despite it’s presence in the EU, is in Asia… specifically it is Asia Minor.

Due to the way the flights had to work out, I had to fly from Atlanta to Chicago to Istanbul (not Constantinople) then to Tel Aviv.

Turkey

If I had just gone from terminal to terminal I would not have counted Turkey, however the way the airport was, you spent a significant amount of time OUTSIDE the airport as apparently most of the planes could not come up to the gate. My feeling always was you have to be on the ground or have the sun shine directly on you before you can count a state, so I applied the same thing to Turkey. I spent more time outside the airport in Turkey than I spent inside the Turkish airport. Turkish men, by the way, are incredibly good looking even. One day I should attempt to get back there to do this country properly.

Israel

You can of course read more about my Israel trip at my other blog which I really don’t feel like writing again so you can see it there.

The summary of Israel is that it was very lovely. I had a few scares because the bus was attacked, there were rockets being fired, and I was being detained as a terrorist, but I finally went to Israel. I recommend if you go to Israel that you really learn Hebrew first.

Of course most importantly, I went to the Western Wall which is the site of where the Temple stood, it’s the most holy spot for Jews. It felt very nice being there and being at the wall which at night is probably one of the prettiest sights on Earth. I wish I could have taken a photo of it. Absolutely beautiful!

Me at the Western Wall.  Was taken by W.

Me at the Western Wall. Was taken by W.

What country in Asia would you go to if you had to go to a country?

Completed: 2013

Categories: Religious, Travel | Tags: , , , , ,

Go West Young Man, Go West / Live out of a Van

There are people who travel all over the United States but never go “Out West” if that makes any sense.  You can hit main cities but that is not quite the same as going “out west” especially if you are doing it primarily by van.

My father and mother’s obsession of going “out west” meant that as a young child, I rode through about 35 states by the time I was 5 (we went other places too sometimes) and that included the states that a lot of people on the east coast miss (such as Nebraska, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Wisconsin, etc.)  Note: I did not gain North Dakota or Minnesota until much later.

We, fortunately or unfortunately, had some adventures and one of the things that was learned was don’t go anywhere without a camping toilet!  (Dad was hit by food poisoning, so… yea.)  Luckily we were in one of those large cargo vans.  Mom loved her van and we spent most of our nights in the van at rest areas and such.  Personally, I think if you are going to travel and you have more than one driver, more than three people, you have a lot of time, the weather is right, gas is not insanely priced, I definitely recommend renting a van and traveling that way. You can save money on hotel fees as well just remember to bring a camping toilet!

For the record, I really think it was a bad idea to ask a preschooler where to go on vacation because you are going to get cartoon answers. Fortunately, the places I asked for were based on real places that were in the United States and not far from where they wanted to go.

It was actually on the trip back from this where they decided to ask me again, then I asked to go to Cape Canaveral and they took me to Huntsville instead.

Places I remember going to

Mangy Moose (Jackson Hole, Wyoming) – Although I don’t fully forgive them for getting me trapped in a Chinese Finger Trap!  I might still have the toy moose I was given.  My parents liked the place.

The Bar J Chuckwagon – My child palate was not a fan of the food, but the show I remember.  One of the songs was “I’ve been everywhere” which was on my ipod for a while.  My mom went recently up to one of them and told him that she remembered watching him perform as a child.

“The Faces” aka Mount Rushmore – I think my Dad was sick (food poisoning) still so Mom took me.  This of course assured I gained South Dakota.

“Where Roadrunner Lives” aka Grand Canyon – I don’t remember much other than it was very deep and I am scared of heights.  I seem to remember the guard rails being not good for youngsters as I could go UNDER them.  You know those scenes in the cartoons where someone looks down and the ground gets closer?  That was me!

“Where Yogi Bear Lives” aka Yellowstone (Jellystone was based on Yellowstone) – I don’t believe we saw Old Faithful erupt.  Weather issue?  I can’t remember.

Are there any places you would want to go if you went “out west?”

Completed: Sometime before 1986

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