Medellin, Colombia

The weather in Medellin is just about the same all year long.  Yes, there is a rainy season, but they get a lot of rain where they are at.  I have made two visits there and enjoyed the people and culture each time.

Click on any of the pictures and look through the larger versions.

For a short article on my trip to Medellin, head over to SERENDIPTY here.



Along the French and German border, a photo gallery

It’s time for a new adventure to France and Germany so I thought I would revisit a few of the pictures from the last trip.  I have made similar trips in recent years to sites in the Alsace region of France.  The reason for these trips is not just the scenery or historic sites.  It is something even more important.  This was explained on SERENDIPITY in “Where Would You Travel?”

The last trip went from Chicago to New York with a five hour lay over.  I explained to my friend that spending vacation with him was the only reason I would spend 5 hours in JFK airport.  From there it was on to Frankfurt, Germany and a two hour lay over waiting for the Lufthansa bus to Strasbourg, France.  The bus arrived near the Strasbourg train station two and one half hours later.  There my friend collected me for our trip back to his town.

You can go to Paris and connect by train to Strasbourg.  The trip is just as long and I did not believe the connection would be as easy.  Now there is a train from Charles De Gaulle airport direct to the Strasbourg station which means I would arrive at the same spot.  They did not have this train until recent years so perhaps it is a better way to go.  I let price and connection time determine which airport to use to go to Alsace.  This time it is American Airlines to Frankfurt via Charlotte and a return on Aer Lingus via Dublin.  All of this is on a British Airways ticket.  I guess there is no good explanation for how the travel industry sells us airline tickets.

Click on any image for a larger view and go through the gallery.

Christkindlmarket Chicago

A Holiday Photo Gallery

The Christkindlmarket in Chicago is a relatively new tradition. Many Chicagoans might actually claim it has been here for a long time because it is such a big part of our holiday festivities.  Based on the market in Nuremberg, Germany which began in 1545, and in partnership with that city, the first Christkindlmarket in Chicago was held on Pioneer court in 1996.  It was an immediate success and the following year the city invited the event to move to the somewhat larger Daley Plaza.

Today the event not only fills the downtown plaza, home of many civic events, it also makes its way down Dearborn alongside the building.  Vendors come from all over Germany to participate along with a few select vendors from Chicago, France and other locales.

Click on a picture and go through the gallery to see larger versions of above.  These pictures are from the recent past.  This year the event was a little whiter and a lot colder.


Recently we had the good fortunate to tour parts of England again.  We did some of the popular tourists stops, so we took some of the usual tourist photos.  We flew to London and saw places around the city and took the tour out to Salisbury, Stonehenge and Bath.


Click on any picture to see the larger size of each photo.

Related:  London Calling
Stonehenge And A Roman Bath
Take The London Underground
Heathrow Express


Cell Phone Pictures

Most of our London trip pictures were captured with a camera, but we got a small number by phone as well.  It was not possible to get good quality pictures by phone just a few years ago, but technology has changed rapidly.  The camera pictures are still better but these are fun, especially if you want to make a quick upload to social media.

Click on one of the pictures to get the larger size and go through the gallery.

Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial

Today is V-E Day (Victory in Europe).  This World War II cemetery at St. Avold, France contains the remains of American soldiers who fought for freedom but did not return home.  It is the largest American WWII cemetery in Europe.  It is 113.5 acres and contains 10,489 graves.  A memorial wall commemorates another 444 missing in action.


Click on a picture and go through the larger versions of each. To read more about the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial visit Serendipity blog here.

NO H8 Campaign Comes To Chicago

No H8_mediumThe NO H8 campaign returns to Chicago this afternoon so I thought it was a good time to rerun this article and photo gallery from 2014.  My photo from this stop is on the right. 

Spreading the message of equality

Perhaps you have seen some of the famous pictures captured by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska.  The ones where the subject has duct tape on his or her mouth and “NO H8” stenciled on the person, usually the face. While many celebrities and politicians, including a large number from the House Democratic Caucus, have had their pictures taken by the campaign, it is the many thousands of others who make the campaign a success.

The NO H8 (No hate) campaign was started in response to California’s Proposition 8, or as some called it, Prop H8.  The photo campaign of silent protest was started by photographer Adam Bouska and his partner Jeff Parshley.  The duct tape over the mouth is a symbol of voices being silenced by legislation like Proposition 8 and the No H8 stencil is the message that is being spread anyway.  The pictures struck a chord with supporters and eventually the movement spread across the country and finally it has gone international.

When the campaign came to Chicago in 2012, the second visit to the Windy City, I went to the photo shoot and posted a small gallery here.  The following year I noted the campaign had gone international.  Now the campaign has returned for another photo shoot.  Almost 300 people came to have Adam take their picture as Jeff prepared the participants for their moment in front of the camera.  Adam took many shots of each person and later will decide with picture to add to the growing No H8 gallery.  Following is from last Sunday’s gathering in downtown Chicago.

Click on a picture for a larger version, then go through the gallery.

The video shows the moments just before many of the photos above were taken as well other moments.


Writing the Blog

Years ago, before I had a blog, I would tell people after they did something a little crazy, or I caught them in a candid picture, “You will be on my blog by midnight,” or “You will be in my blog on Sunday.”  I really did not give much thought to actually doing a blog.  It did not seem there was enough time for it and besides, who would read it anyway?  So it was just a running joke, nothing more.

I did have a Windows Live Space, however.  I think it was supposed to compete with the popular myspace.  This was all before facebook began to dominate social media.  My Windows Live Space was more of a repository of photo albums than anything else.  Only a few friends actually looked at anything I posted there.  I had no thoughts of promoting it to the general public, although that was a possibility.  I also had a myspace, still do I guess.  It was THE social media outlet of its time.  I used it to play Mobsters for a while.  Now it is a site for promoting music and entertainment news.  I rarely visit it.

When it was clear Windows Live was never going to hit it big, they decided to migrate everyone to Word Press.  Some of the content transferred when I finally got around to moving everything, most did not.  All the pictures are in some Windows cloud off in cyberspace that I can find if I explore my Outlook.  The Word Press page, named after my long running joke, sat idle for a long time.  A couple of articles came over in 2010.  I wrote nothing in 2011.   Then I started to post things in 2012.  It was fun, for a while.

At the end of 2013, Marilyn Armstrong offered me a Sunday spot on SERENDIPITY.  I offered a Christmas story.  We both liked it enough to run it every year.  So the true Sunday blog posts ended up over there.  There is something new on SERENDIPITY every day and Marilyn has a following.  A site with new content daily is far more successful than a weekly site, I think.

I am CharlieThe most posts for this site appeared in 2014, but the readership never grew and I decided to concentrate on the SERENDIPITY posts.  For 2015 most of what appeared here were actually written for SERENDIPITY in 2014.  There were original posts too.  The most topical and political pieces showed up here.  Here are the top 5 of the past year written for Sunday Night Blog:

  1. HASHTAG: I am Charlie  This followed the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris.  It was more than an attack on freedom of the press.  Millions came together to support a publication they had never head of before.
  2. A life too short I have run this story several years in a row.  It concerns the life of French singer Gregory Lemarchal and his losing battle with Cystic Fibrosis.  I don’t feel I have adequately explained it yet and have tweaked it every time trying to do better.
  3. WE STAND WITH PARIS  This political commentary came 11 months after the Charlie Hebdo piece and following another terrorist attack.
  4. Beyond Freedom of Speech  This was a follow-up to the Charlie Hebdo story.  There was another side that I felt needed to be said.
  5. A TRIP TO ALSACE  A short article plus a photo gallery of my trip to France.

All of these had something in common.  It was not intended but likely speaks to the influences of my life.  They all have to do with France.  So it is no surprise that after American readers, the next country on the “views” list is France.  Photo galleries really skew the stats in deceptive ways.  A look at each picture counts as a “view,” which is equal to reading a whole article.  One person can run your total way up by looking at every picture in several galleries.  One day I had 136 views (according to the stats page) but only 3 visitors.  We can not take the stats page too seriously as they seem to be behind real-time.

Interestingly, the stats say my most popular day is Sunday.  Imagine that!  I wonder why that is, LOL.  Search engines, facebook and (SERENDIPITY) drove the most traffic to this site.  I was surprised to see StumbleUpon drove traffic here as well.  I thought the site did nothing for me so I stopped posting there.  Their stats did not reveal views on anything I posted there.  I may have to resume posting there.  Like my tumblr posts, the StumbleUpon posts are just links back to here or SERENDIPITY.

My most read post ever all time is ANGEL COMES OUT.  It was written for SERENDIPITY in 2014 and almost immediately found an audience.  It’s the true coming out story of someone I saw on You Tube and subsequently located.  It’s harrowing, to say the least.  Angel kindly let me proceed with a dramatic retelling, although it certainly is an episode he would like to leave behind.  His dramatic telling of it is still on You Tube.

Medellin, Colombia

Click on any of the pictures and look through the larger versions.

For a short article on my trip to Medellin, head over to SERENDIPTY here.

Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial

Last year I visited this site on V.E. Day (Victory in Europe).  This World War II cemetery at St. Avold, France contains the remains of American soldiers who fought for freedom but did not return home.


Click on a picture and go through the larger versions of each. To read more about the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial visit Serendipity blog here.