Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Best Job in the World

I must send a big "thank you" to my friend Ethan who informed me about an amazing opportunity offered by Tourism Queensland.  This is how they describe the job: 

The role of Island Caretaker is a six-month contract, based on luxurious Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef.  It's a live-in position with flexible working hours and key responsibilities that include exploring the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef to discover what the area has to offer.  You'll be required to report back on your adventures to Tourism Queensland headquarters in Brisbane (and the rest of the world) via weekly blog posts, photo diary, video updates, and ongoing media interviews.  Our offer is a unique opportunity to help promote the wondrous Islands of the Great Barrier Reef.  

Since this job description shared an uncanny resemblance to the past eight months of my life - traveling and blogging - I thought I had nothing to lose in applying.  All applicants are required to make a one-minute video explaining why they would make the best Island Caretaker.  So I bit the bullet, got a monkey suit, an Australian flag, and went to town.  HERE'S THE LINK TO MY VIDEO ->

It's also really fun to watch one of the thousands of one-minute application videos from across the world.  You can even search by country (the Russians are my personal favorite).  It's neat to see so many random people across the world who would never otherwise make a connection through this process.  You can find their videos at the contest website: 

Sunday, February 22, 2009


When I was couchsurfing ( in Florence, I stayed with Elisa and  her flat mate Dave, an Italian graphic designer and freelance psychologist.  The kitchen he had decorated rocked my world - especially the table.  

Close up of the table.  The world's best fitting jeans under my glass of OJ.

The table from afar.  

Kitchen contextualized.  Black panther on the fridge.  

"What's up with that multi-colored elevated circle in the middle of that room?" you might ask yourself.  Well, dear reader, Dave decoupaged his table.  Decoupage.  DEK YOU PAJ.  Scientists claim that the word has a Latin origin and stands for "Decorate Eclectic Kangaroos Yearly On Underbelly Pouchy After Jamming".  

Decoupaging is when you glue colored paper onto objects.  Sound exciting?  Not really.  Look exciting?  You bet!  Dave chose the theme of ridiculous 1950's advertisements for the table, resulting in unendingly interesting sit downs when you could look at the pattern under your cup, plate, spoon, fork, knife, napkin, salt or pepper shaker, ashtray, napkin holder resembling flamingo, pair of dice, slice of watermelon, and never get bored.  

His creation inspired me to do one of my own.  He explained the process, and soon enough I stumbled across a record shop in Philadelphia selling milk crates of old records for one dollar a piece.  After gathering thirty of the most colorful album covers, I went inside the store (yes, these albums were actually displayed outside of the store - shows how much they care!) and the clerk told me to name my own price.  

I left Philly with some funky looking album covers.  I cut them up to fit our living room table, glued them down, and poured varnish over top for protection.  Below is the final product! 

Thank you, Dave!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Life in Lebanon

I hope the photos in this post give a sense of life in Lebanon beyond the cloak of fear and instability many western media outlets use to depict the small Mediterranean country.

Lebanon is a land of harmonized oppositions (or opposing harmonies) - mountain faces towering over the sea, churches and mosques across the street from one another, a one-legged man on the street offering you coffee.  It is a difficult life riddled with neglect and steeped in family values - these photos show Lebanon suspended from its political context (it tries, at least), focusing on its natural beauty, and the way people fit themselves into that beauty.  

The ruins of Anjar village.  
Farayah - This is where we go to ski.

Beirut at sunset from my uncle's apartment.  A mesmerizing sun humming "good night" to the people.  

What used to be the Nahr River.  Countless bullets and rockets were exchanged across this waterway during the civil war that lasted from 1975-1990.  

The rocks of Rowche refusing to sink quietly into the sea.

Memories of a violent past.  

My grandmother's balcony at dawn.  Do you see that big green hill in the middle of everything?  That's a big pile of trash.  Sometimes you can smell it when the wind blows.