Edgewater Arts Festival

Hi everyone, long time, no post (I have a pattern). This post is very stream of conscious and kind of choppy, so please bear with me. I was feeling artsy thanks to the Edgewater Arts Festival.

If you’re in the Chicago area, I highly suggest you stop by tomorrow, September 30th. Come enjoy the live music, the food, and support the local artists in the area. 

Also, please forgive the lack of pictures. My phone died five minutes after I got off the L.


 

Today I ended up at the Edgewater Arts Festival. I didn’t plan on being there. I had honestly forgotten the festival was even happening. The signs hanging around Edgewater had simply become a part of the neighborhood decor and the dates plastered on the canvas had completely slipped my mind. The only reason I ended up in a sea of artists was because the lovely street of Granville just so happens to be my stop on the L.

I was taking the Red Line, as always, back home from work and got off at the Granville stop without thinking. That has become a daily occurrence for me, not thinking on my ride home on the L. It’s like that phenomenon when you’re driving down a road you’ve taken so many times before, and you arrive safely at your destination without remembering how you got there. You’re just so caught up in the repetitiveness of it that you completely zone.

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Zoning on the L has become a bit of a meditation for me over the last month and a half. It’s pretty funny that I’ve found the most zen on the one thing that was causing me the most anxiety when I moved here. The click-click-clicking of the trains on the tracks. The commanding voice of the conductor at each stop. It’s like I breath in the urgency of Chicago and breath out my worries onto the Red Line. I think the way people adapt to public transit is an impressive part of living in a bigger city. People can be completely alone with themselves even though they’re smushed up against strangers with their own thoughts and smells (emphasis on the smells).

I was feeling the refreshing calmness that seems to wash over me after one of those meditative rides. I was also on a mission to go home at this point. It had been a long day. With this in mind, I walked out onto Granville and was suddenly surrounded by artwork. There were standard oil paintings, neon t-shirts with Lincoln’s face one them, maps made out of words, and jewelry with the handcrafted vibe you can only find at art festivals like this one. What really drew me in, however, was the quartet performing on the corner of Granville and Broadway.  The quartet featured an accordionist, a violinist, a cellist and an acoustic guitarist. They were playing classic Italian street music.

Weirdly enough, I think the accordion is one of my top five favorite instruments. They’re kind of wacky and unexpected; I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song on an accordion that didn’t make me feel happy after listening to it. From European street music to polkas, there’s always a romantic whimsy to accordion music. Still in a bit of a trance from my Red Line ride, I sat down and took in a few songs.

An older woman, probably in her early 80s, went up to the front of the foldable chairs and started to full-body sway along to the music. Fall has finally settled in here in Chicago, so she was decked out in her pale taupe overcoat, a brown paisley scarf, and a cane with red and yellow flowers all over it. The final accessory was the big smile on her face that could only be brought on by the true joys of music.

A man who resembled a 1800’s African explorer, full mustache, hat, and all, was smoking a pipe in the first row of seats. He was probably in his late 30s/ early 40s, but that didn’t stop him from standing up and dancing with the little old lady that was embracing the sounds of Italian street music.

It felt as if the woman went back in time, back to a youth none of us had seen or known. She moved slower and had more creases on her face than she probably did when she heard this song for the first time, but she swayed with a wisdom and enjoyment that showed everyone watching she had lived a life filled with music, laughter, and dance.

The magic of that moment sucked me into the art festival instantly. I decided to walk all the way down Granville to the other end of the festival, and appreciate the work of the artists I hadn’t seen yet. Vibrant mandalas and crisp photography were some of the pieces that stuck in my mind as I made my way down towards the other end Granville. Some of the artists were starting to pack up, done with September 29, 2018 and the splendors or spoils it had brought them.

I made it to the food tent where another band was performing. This time, it was a classic rock cover band fully embracing the cords of Bowie’s Space Oddity. It was another great and iconic sound to hear while walking through the crisp fall weather of Chicago. I felt like I had teleported through time. From the 30’s and 40’s to the 60’s and 70’s. I think that’s one of my favorite things about physical art, music, even words written on blog posts like this one. Creativity can transport you anywhere. Another decade; another realm; another perspective.

I’ve had a few moments here in Chicago where my life has felt a bit like a movie. Some days have felt like a scene from a rom com; sometimes a really cheesy coming-of-age movie, but today as I made my way home and the sounds of the quartet playing Un Vie Un Rose wafted behind me, it felt as if I was in my own version of Midnight in Paris. Struck with an overwhelming need for nostalgia but also feeling very much at home in 2018. Whatever the feeling was, it felt right.

I’ve always been a wallflower, almost to a fault. Sometimes it even translates over into my real life. I feel as if I’m a bystander just watching my life pass me by, wondering why this girl just keeps observing instead of doing. Some days, even very recently, I regret this little quirk about myself. But today, I found it to be a bit of a gift. I had the chance to truly absorb the art and the people who are Edgewater. I found myself being thankful that I forgot the Edgewater Arts Festival was today.

Chicago: A Free Day on the Gold Coast

As a new citizen of Chicago, I’ve decided I want to get to know the city inside and out. As a broke 24-year-old, I want to do it as cheaply as possible. So, I’ve decided to find as many free adventures as I can in different parts of the city to help feed my travel bug without touching my bank account.

My goal is to explore everywhere I can, even the most expensive parts of the city, and spend as little money as possible.

This is my first of hopefully many installments of my penniless Chicago adventues and it ironically features the Gold Coast. Enjoy!


 

The last thing I bought in Saint Louis before moving to Chicago was a pocket-sized Chicago travel book by Lonely Planet. I really didn’t know anything about locations or neighborhoods in the city before moving here. I knew that the Loop was home of the Bean and where the Navy Pier was, but outside of that I was clueless.

For the first week of my new life in Chicago, I spent my free time piling over this tiny travel book; reading about the different regions of the city. I may be a person that loves spontaneity, but when I’m scared I like being overly prepared. And, during my first two weeks in Chicago, I was downright scared. Not of the city of Chicago per say, but of the major life altering move I had just made.

So, instead of going out and doing, I turned to a trusty book and read about my surroundings instead. The book in question broke the city into eight regions: The Loop; Near North & Navy Pier; Gold Coast; Lincoln Park & Old Town; Lake View & Wrigleyville; Wicker Park, Bucktown & Ukrainian Village; Near West Side & Pilsen; South Loop & Near South Side.

For some reason I was drawn to the concept of the Gold Coast over anywhere else. To me, the idea of seeing where the affluent lived as a lowly broke girl in her twenties had some weird romantic charm to it. I also really wanted to see the Chicago Water Tower.

Gold Coast 4

For those of you who don’t know, the Chicago Water Tower is the sole building to withstand the Great Chicago Fire that struck the city in 1871, and according to my little travel book it was in the Gold Coast. Again, my fanciful imagination thought it kind of inspiring to see a building that could withstand a fire as I mentally felt like I, myself, had been thrown into a metaphorical fire.

Gold Coast 1I logged the Chicago Water Tower into Google Maps and then hopped onto the Red Line my first Thursday off from work– seeing as it was the only line of the L I felt comfortable with– and road it to the Chicago stop. Seemed fitting for my first solo adventure in the city. I walked through the Loop taking in all of the wonder of the place that was now my home. I remembered bits of it from my time here back in March, but everything still felt really new. I officially saw the Chicago Tribune building, adding to the list of iconic newspaper buildings I’ve seen (yes, I have a list). I also listened to a street performer belt out some songs from Rent.

Gold Coast 2The oddest, and probably most wonderful part of my walk from the Red Line to the Water Tower had to be the fact that the Ducky Derby was happening that day. I later discovered that the Ducky Derby is a charity event put on by the Special Olympics where they race 60,000 rubber ducks down the Chicago River. I only caught the set up for the event which involved a LOT of gigantic rubber ducks. I kind of wish I had stuck around to watch the race now that I know what it entails, but I was on a mission to find the Water Tower.

I know that the Water Tower probably seems like a very touristy and cliché thing to want to see, but it felt like a good step towards becoming a true Chicagoan. Sometimes, to become truly a part of somewhere, you need to start off as a tourist. Getting a little lost and finding a bit of wonder in the places locals see as second nature helps you appreciate your surroundings a little bit more.

My roommate, and friend from college, told me she didn’t feel that the Water Tower was really a part of the Gold Coast before I left. Now that I’ve been there, I can see why. The Chicago Water Tower is located on what I would consider the dividing line between the Loop and Gold Coast. It probably does lean more towards a Loop location in my eyes as well, seeing as you turn somewhere in the middle of the Magnificent Mile to get there.

The Magnificent Mile is a strip of North Michigan Ave. lined with every retail store that could ever come to mind. If you want physical proof that America is run by commercialism and materialism, I think the Magnificent Mile is it. If I remember correctly, you’ll hit the Water Tower before you hit the truly high-end stores on the Magnificent Mile. That’s when you know you’ve reached the Gold Coast.

 

Tiffany’s and Dior were literally feet from each other. Walking past both of those stores, I felt weirdly under-dressed and like I couldn’t actually go inside the stores wearing my palm-tree covered shorts and my slightly ratty tank top. It was a good think I wasn’t around to do any shopping.

When it comes to the actual Water Tower, it was a little lackluster, but I’m glad I went. I had a bit of a backup plan as well. My handy-dandy travel book had told me the Newberry Library was also located in the Gold Coast, and that the library gave free tours. When you tell me there’s a travel-worthy library near by I’m going to check it out.

 

The Newberry Library is most definitely a part of the Gold Coast. You could almost taste the millions of dollars in the air as you walked through that area of Chicago. When I reached the library, it quite literally took my breath way.  The building in and of itself is beautiful, but I was really there for what was inside. Historically significant pieces of literature are held in the walls of this library and I was more than ready to check them out. Thoughts of Thomas Jefferson’s Federalist Papers and Mary Wroth’s Urania danced in my head until I realized I had the stern eyes of a male librarian on me.

He quickly asked, “May I help you?” and I proceeded to say I was simply here to explore the library. And here’s the kicker, “Only people doing research are allowed into the main exibit rooms of the library.”

With that being said, the Newberry Library DOES give free tours. I even showed up on the right day for one… I was just two hours too early. If you’re anything like me, and like ogling really old books, the tours are held Thursdays at 3 pm and Saturdays at 10:30 am. I plan to go back and drool over all the musty, old, historically significant pieces of literature some day. It just unfortunately wasn’t meant to be that day.

Gold Coast 10While that part of the adventure did end in a moment of disappointment, Washington Square Park was right next door and definitely didn’t disappoint. It was the perfect place to sit down and just take in the grandeur that is the Gold Coast. The best part? There’s a working piano located in the park for people to play. Luckily enough, I was there while a really skilled pianist was enjoying the park and piano as well.

That’s the story of how I spent an afternoon on the Gold Coast without spending a dime. A little touristy, a little unexpected, but definitely worth the trip.

 

 

 

 

 

International Update: 8.5.18-8.12.18

Four out of the five articles I picked for this week are a bit rebellious. I’m not sure what drew me to them. Maybe it’s some kind of teenage angst I didn’t realize I was repressing just bubbling up to the surface. Whatever the cause, these articles stood out to me this week and made me think. I hope they open your eyes to what’s going on around the world. Have a great day!

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below. All images were found through WordPress’s free image library or were taken by me. A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.


International Update 2Africa Article

Title: Ebola outbreak ‘kills at least 34 in Democratic Republic of Congo’ says World Health Organisation

Source: The Independent

What Happened?

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is officially experiencing its second Ebola outbreak of the year. Medical officials have started vaccinating the people in the Magina village with an experimental vaccine used in the latest outbreak of the disease.

Forty-three cases were reported and 34 deaths were suspected as of August 10. Sixteen and seven of these cases have been confirmed, respectively. The health officials trying to get the vaccine to affected individuals are running into backlash because of armed groups competing over land in the north-east region of the DRC.

The doctors in question are using an aggressive approach to try and slow the spread of Ebola. More than 3,000 doses of the vaccine are being sent from the capital to the Mabalako Health Center. The plan is to focus on vaccinating health workers, those in close contact with people who have contracted Ebola, and the friends and families of those close to the Ebola victims.

Why Should We Care?

Do you want to know the one thing that literally never ceases to amaze me? It’s the fact that the citizens of most first world countries are completely “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to the Ebola outbreaks that are still happening throughout Africa.

I vividly remember when the only thing anyone could talk about was the strain of Ebola that had made it to the United States and other first world nations in 2014. Can you believe that was four years ago? Doctors and medical professionals all over the world worked tirelessly to try to create a vaccine for the illness to help prevent the spread of this deadly disease. Once the Ebola that had made its way across land and sea into places like the UK and the States was eradicated, it seems we all but forgot about the epidemic and the efforts to stop it.

However, this article proves that the disease is still affecting many individuals and there are still doctors out there trying to find a cure. We have to make sure that programs like the World Health Organisation continue to have funding so they can search for cures to diseases like Ebola. There are still people losing their lives to this disease and doctors currently only have the help of an experimental vaccine. It doesn’t seem fair that people are living in fear of this disease in other parts of the world while we seem to have all but forgotten about it.

 

Agerholm, Harriet. “Ebola outbreak ‘kills at least 34 in Democratic Republic of Congo’ says World Health Organisation,” The Independent, 10 August 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/ebola-outbreak-kills-34-dead-congo-world-health-organisation-death-a8486736.html


International Update 1Americas Article

Title: Argentina’s Senate rejects bill legalizing abortion during the first 14 weeks of a pregnancy

Source: Washington Post

What Happened?

The Argentinian senate rejected a bill that allowed abortions during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The bill was defeated 38-31, with three senators abstaining.

Currently, abortions are permitted in Argentina in the case of rape, mental illness, or if there is a risk to the mother’s health. Women in Argentina who seek an abortion that falls outside of these restrictions can go to jail for up to four years and doctors that perform said abortion could be jailed for up to six years.

Abortion laws in Argentina still have the possibility of changing. The senators in question considered the bill too broad but were willing to look at future revisions of the law. Argentina is thought to be one of the most progressive countries in Latin America, and is the most recent country to address the issue of legalizing abortion.

According to a poll from July, 49 percent of the country opposed the new law, 41 percent were for it, and 11 percent was undecided.

 

Why Should We Care?

For this particular article I want to remain objective on my personal opinion in regards to abortion. It’s a heated subject here in the States so I empathize with the people of Argentina, no matter what side of the spectrum they fall on.

For one half of the population, abortion is an issue of morality and ethics. On the other side, it is an issue of choice and freedom. No matter who you talk to, I think it is fair to say that both sides view their  fight as a battle for human rights, and that’s a noble war to undertake no matter your opinion.

My current plight with this particular situation comes more so from the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a separation of church and state in a lot of countries when it comes to this issue. Religion has so much power in the world and is the source of so much conflict  (*cough*cough* Gaza Strip *cough*cough*). Wouldn’t it be smart to stop making it a central part of government decisions?

This one also might come off as a crazy concept, but maybe–just maybe– we should let the people of a country vote on bills that will affect their lives instead of relying on senators with biased opinions. This way, the only people who can be held accountable for the results are the people the bill will actually affect.

Take Ireland for example. Up until May, abortions were criminalized in the country due to the Catholic Church’s hold over a good chunk of government policies. The only reason the policy even changed was because the decision was left up to the results of a public referendum. The results of an Argentinian referendum might have ended with the same outcome for the bill, but there’s only one way to find out.

I honestly wonder what would happen if governments let the public vote on issues in their countries instead of relying on a few figure heads to make decisions for thousands of people.

 

“Argentina’s Senate rejects bill legalizing abortion during the first 14 weeks of a pregnancy,” The Washington Post, 9 August 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/showdown-in-argentina-over-the-broad-legalization-of-abortion/2018/08/08/a07d4c44-9699-11e8-818b-e9b7348cd87d_story.html?utm_term=.40c0d7710f39


international-update-3.jpgAsia Article

Title: Israel, Hamas agree truce to end Gaza flare-up: Palestinian officials

Source: Reuters

What Happened?

According to Palestinian officials, Israel and Hamas reached a truce Thursday, August 8.

The truce was initiated by the United Nations and Egypt when the use of air strikes and rockets between Israel and the Gaza Strip had increased in recent weeks. According to the Palestinian officials involved, Egypt helped restore peace in the current escalation. Israel seems to disagree with the announcement, refusing to confirm that a cease-fire with Hamas has been reached. The Palestinian officials have stated that they will continue to hold back on air attacks as long as Israel does.

Hours before the cease-fire was announced, Israeli forces responded to a Palestinian long-range missile attack that had injured seven people. Their response flattened a building thought to be Hamas headquarters and also killed a pregnant mother and her 18-month-old child. Locals argue that the building actually served as a cultural center.

 

Why Should We Care?

A couple of weeks back, I did an update featuring the Gaza Strip for the first time. This article felt like the right time to revisit the conflict. As a quick reminder, remember that Hamas is the Islamist group currently in control of the Gaza Strip. They are also the source of a lot of terrorist activity that goes on in that region of Palestine.

I find it interesting that the United Nations and Egypt are currently trying to play mediators in the ever-growing tensions of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It’s noble that they are trying to create peace in a very war-torn and devastated area of the world, but I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.

Take Israel’s response to the supposed cease-fire for example. They’re pretty much saying, “Ok, sure, we’re in a cease-fire, Egypt. Keep telling yourself that.” And then there’s Palestine playing the, “We’ll stop IF they stop” card.

It all seems so petty to me, the war that is constantly going on between these two nations. And at what avail? Neither nation seems to be winning anything in this constant battle of opposing views and flying missiles. If anything, they keep losing innocent lives. The lives of hard-working citizens and children that didn’t ask for all of this turmoil and constant destruction.

I’m not saying I have a firm enough understanding of the Gaza Strip conflict to say if either side of the situation is right, or if Egypt’s interference will do any good. I do know however that the civilians on both sides of this battle are always on my mind. I hope for their sakes that some peace–or at least a moment of rest– comes out of this current cease-fire.

 

al-Mughrabi, Nidal and Eli Berlzon. “Israel, Hamas agree truce to end Gaza flare-up: Palestinian officials,” Reuters, 8 August 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians/israel-hamas-agree-truce-to-end-gaza-flare-up-palestinian-officials-idUSKBN1KT1I7


international-update-4.jpgEurope Article

Title: Painted-over Banksy murals to be uncovered

Source: BBC

What Happened?

Early murals done by English satirical street artist, Banksy, were accidentally painted over in 2007 and left that way when a Glasgow nightclub turned into an administrative building in 2015.

The murals were part of a 2001 art exhibition called “Peace is Tough.” The new owners planned on restoring the art in 2015 to combat some of the debt left by the club, but they weren’t 100% sure how to go about it.

Now, a team of restorers is expected to take 5 months to uncover the work. These pieces are the only pieces of Banksy’s work in the country of Scotland. The restoration started August 11 and the public is invited to come view the progress throughout the next five months until the murals are fully unvailed.

Why Should We Care?

There’s something quirky, unusual, punky and “stick-it-to-the-man” about this renovation and I love it. There’s nothing better than unveiling satirical art in the middle of a corporate administrative office. Plus, a little bit of artistic rebellion is good for anyone’s soul; even the stuffier side of humanity.

If you have yet to see any of Banksy’s work, you need to check it out. Graffiti is one of the coolest forms of artwork out there, and Banksy may be one of the most internationally recognized icons in the genre. The realism of his silhouettes combined with the sardonic quotes has some kind of power to it. It’s intriguing and kind of strange. It’s also exciting to think something so unique is going to end up in somewhere so normal. I look forward to seeing how the restoration goes.

 

“Painted-over Banksy murals to be uncovered,” BBC News, 7 August 2018, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-45094602


International Update 6Oceania Article

Title: Uson: What matters is people are talking about federalism

Source: CNN Philippines

What Happened?

The Communications Assistant Secretary, Margaux Uson was recently caught up in a controversy brought on by a viral YouTube video. The footage  featured Uson and fellow blogger, Drew Olivar, nonchalantly discussing federalism while they were filming a ‘online game show’ clip for Uson’s YouTube page.

Uson is trying to ease tensions about the video, explaining that the video was not meant as a campaign for federalism, but simply just came up in discussion. Many politicians argue that the video mocks the concept of federalism and find it appalling. Uson suggests that the video is being used as a way to distract the public from bigger issues, like the suspected cheating that happened in the 2016 vice-president elections.

Uson feels that, if anything, the video is teaching the public about federalism.

Why Should We Care?

Ok, so here’s the sitch. The current president of the Philippines, Rodrego Duterte, is attempting to change the country’s form of government to federalism under a new constitution. This governmental shift is causing quite a bit of backlash. According to a Forbes article published in July, 67% of the public is against the change, 18% are for it, and 14% are undecided.

Ubon’s video has added fuel to the fire in the eyes of the citizens and the country’s politicians. According to Ubon, fellow blogger Drew Olivar, created a federalism dance to help explain the concept. After watching a clip of the video (much of which was beeped out) I’m assuming Olivar’s word choice wasn’t very tactful.  It does seem that, outside of Olivar’s choice words, the two bloggers were discussing federalism in a funny and colloquial manner (I don’t speak Filipino so I can’t say anything for sure here).

Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong in trying to explain different forms of government in a laid back way so normal people can understand it. Satire like this is essential when it comes to keeping governments and politicians in check. However, I don’t think it was very appropriate for Ubon, a government official, to get involved.

I feel that politicians, very much like journalists, need to hold a level of objectivity when it comes to their social media activities. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but when you are in a place of power during a very tense time in your country’s governmental history, it’s probably smart to keep your thoughts to yourself.

Drew Olivar could have easily made this video on his own, but the presence of Ubon is what made it explosive. Maybe it’s a good thing; maybe it’s a bad thing. I’m not sure. I do know the execution of the overall clip could have been better.

I do agree with Ubon on one point. There should be more focus on the fact that there was a ton of shady activity going on during the 2016 presidential and vice-presidential elections. Focusing on a petty viral video will not change the fact that there’s potential corruption going on in the Filipino government, plain and simple.

 

CNN Philippines Staff. “Uson: What matters is people are talking about federalism,” CNN Philippines, 6 August 2018, http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2018/08/06/mocha-uson-federalism-news-night.html

Why I Moved to Chicago

I want to start this post off with complete honesty. I didn’t expect to be as homesick as I have been for the last few days in Chicago. I miss my family and friends that I use to see every day. I’m anxious about the uncertainties I’m currently feeling. I still have to change my address for all of my bills so they show up to the right place. I’m currently back to only one part-time job which is also nerve-wracking.

But with all of those bumps in my current road, I still have a solid list of reasons why I moved to Chicago.

 

1. Distance from Home

Why CHI 5I’ve always known I wanted to move away from Saint Louis and find a different city that is utterly my own. During the last year and a half since college, I started to become a bit of a homebody– and that scared me.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved my surroundings, my friends, my jobs, and I even started to appreciate Saint Louis on another level. At the same time, I realized that I wanted somewhere bigger and more diverse. I had dreamed about NYC, Boston, and Philly, but I came to realize that the distance from my family was going to play a major role in my decision.

Chicago isn’t super close, but in comparison to the 20-ish hour drive to NYC, I can handle six hours and still get the big city experience I was craving.

2. The Neighborhoods

I’ll be honest, I haven’t done much exploring since getting here. In my defense, I’ve only been here for five days and still have to get life stuff straightened out before I go on any crazy explorations.

I am truly excited about hoping on and off the L and seeing if I can guess what kind of neighborhood I’m in. There is so much diversity through every inch of this city. You can go a mile in one direction and end up in Little Korea. Choose a different route and you’ll end up in Little Sweden.

Each neighborhood has a different vibe from the next. Nothing makes me more excited than having so many different communities at my fingertips.

3. The Culture

There is SO much going on in this city, it’s not even funny. I’m counting down the days until Taste of Greektown on the 24th, one of the bars in a neighborhood a few L stops down from me is an Office pop-up bar until the 20th, and there’s a free Summer Concert in Millenium Park this upcoming Monday.

I don’t think I could ever get bored here and I’m looking forward to finding all the free (or at least affordable) adventures I can find.

4. The Food

Why CHI 2Chicago was voted the best food city by Bon Appetit in 2017, and I’m starting to see why. Since deciding to move to Chicago, I’ve seen endless videos on my timeline pop up for new and quirky restaurants I need to try. Snow Junkie, Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co., and Paco’s Tacos are three that first come to mind.

One that I’ve already decided is a tried and true favorite is Chicago Bagel Authority. I went there when I came to the city for Saint Patrick’s Day and I’ve already made it back since moving in to my apartment last Friday. It might be my new addiction and I’m fine with that.

5. The Views

I’ve had a lot of moments where I just find myself in awe with my surroundings. From the beaches of Lake Michigan to the view off my own porch, I’m slowly falling in love with the alleyways and skyscrapers around me.

It’s an interesting combination, Chicago. There are moments where you feel completely immersed in the city (like when I try to fall asleep with the street lamp right in my window). Other days I’m in a park or at the beach and only remember I’m in a major metropolitan area when I look at the skyline. It’s really an awe-inspiring experience.

 

6. Public Transportation

Trains, buses, water taxis, Lyfts; take your pick. If it’s a form of public transportation I’m probably in love with it. Public transport is so easy here in Chicago and I find comfort in the fact that I don’t have to own a car to get around.

There’s something amazing about riding through the city on the L as the sun is going down. The way the red brick almost melts into the glowing yellow of the street lamps and the sun. It’s as if the city’s skyline is on fire.

7.  An International Airport

Seven and six kind of coincide. Chicago O’Hare International Airport is officially within CTA distance from my apartment. There are DIRECT flights to major cities for under $100. I seriously can’t with this one.

8. DUNKIN’!

After being raised by East coast parents, I’ve always been on search for Dunkin’ Donuts anywhere I go. Chicago legitimately has a Dunkin’ at almost every CTA stop. There’s a Dunkin’ down the street from me (I only have to turn left). This is a small joy, but it is still important to my brand loyal heart.

 

Why CHI 1

9. Job Opportunities

There are many more opportunities here in Chicago when it comes to my career. Picking up and leaving my jobs behind at home was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.

I did transfer to a Barnes and Noble here in Chicago for the time being and the job search has officially started. I’ve even already had interviews. I’m optimistic that I’ll find the right position for me here in the city. If you know of any companies in Chicago in need of a hardworking individual with writing, editing, marketing, and research skills, let me know!

10. Y.O.L.O.

This might be the last reason in my list, but I think it’s the most important. I know so many people who have a list of “Shoulda Woulda Coulda” and I don’t want that. I know I had the possibility of being okay with my life in Saint Charles, but when my friend told me she would have a room in her apartment available on August 1st, I knew I needed to jump.

I don’t know how things are going to turn out. I know it’s going to be messy. I know it’ll be tough at times. But I also think this is going to be a beautiful adventure.

International Update: 7.22.18-7.29.18

This week’s International Update focuses on two natural disasters, a rocky presidential election, water-soluble plastic, and China’s attempt at technological isolationism. Like most International Updates, everything I read was very informative. Some of these articles were a little stress-inducing, but overall they filled me with a lot of hope. I hope they do the same for all of you.

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below. All images were found through WordPress’s free image library or taken by me. A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.


International Update 2Africa Article

Title: Mali has an important election on Sunday. Will it be peaceful?

Source: The Washington Post

What Happened?

This opinion piece looks at the challenges facing Mali as they get ready for the first round of their presidential election on July 29.

Some of the main concerns include the country’s lack of security and the lack of unity between the nation as a whole. There are also concerns of potential electoral fraud due to inaccurate numbers on Mali’s online register. If these three struggles weren’t enough of a call for concern, the election budget has dropped roughly $1.5 million from the country’s last presidential election.

Outside of the many worries facing Mali and its presidential vote, things are also looking up. Over 70% of the people in northern and central Mali have received voter cards, two regions that often feel under-represented. International armed forces have been recruited in Mali to increase safety in the nation and there is hope that the country’s political leaders will put peace above all else.

Why Should We Care?

A shift in political leadership would be great for Mali. This country has been through so much in the last few decades and it deserves a shift in its political climate. However, it seems like there are a ton of obstacles standing in the way of a smooth election.

I have yet to read up on how the first round of the election went today, but I’m truly hoping they went well. I feel like the writer of this article was being realistic in their concerns, and I know I need to be too. I, however, try to look at the positives of a situation even in the grimmest of scenarios, no matter how ridiculous that may seem, especially as someone who is constantly reading the news.

I see hope in the fact that the people of northern and central Mali are being represented by a majority of their population for the first time, possibly ever. I also see hope in the fact that the candidates currently running for president are trying to keep peace at the forefront of the election. Only time will truly tell us how this election will turn out, but all we can do is hope.

 

Bado, Arsène Brice. “Mali has an important election on Sunday. Will it be peaceful?,” The Washingtion Post, 28 July 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2018/07/28/mali-has-an-important-election-on-sunday-will-it-be-peaceful/?utm_term=.c53ac4c72c6e


International Update 1Americas Article

Title: Chilean company creates water soluble bag to fight plastic pollution

Source: The Santiago Times

What Happened?

A group of Chilean entrepreneurs have constructed a new formula for plastic that uses limestone instead of oil. The product, known as SoluBag, is water-soluble and does not pollute.

The plastic bags dissolve in cold water and the reusable cloth bags dissolve in hot water. One of the architects of the new plastic drank a glass of water containing one of the dissolved bags to prove the water was still drinkable while giving a public presentation.

They are working on creating cutlery, plates, and plastic containers from the new plastic as well. The SoluBag company plans to market its products in Chile starting in October. Chile is one of the first countries in Latin America to ban the use of conventional plastic bags in stores.

Why Should We Care?

Holy. Crap. Someone actually did it. It might be fifty years too late, but hey, I’m going to try to be optimistic about this. Someone has invented a plastic that doesn’t pollute! According to the article, the bags are even anti-suffocation since that dissolve when they come into contact with the tongue or tears. This could help lower infant mortality rates. It all sounds almost too good to be true.

With all of the positives that come with this invention, I hate that the skeptic in me is still a bit wary about this new plastic. How will rain and human sweat influence anything made out of this new water-soluble product? I don’t think it would be much fun to have your bag’s handles melt away in your hand on a hot day, but I’ll leave those conundrums to the actual scientists. I’m just thankful we’re making progress towards a more environmentally friendly world.

 

“Chilean company creates water soluble bag to fight plastic pollution,” The Santiago Times, 27 July 2018, https://santiagotimes.cl/2018/07/27/chilean-company-creates-water-soluble-bag-to-fight-plastic-pollution/


international-update-3.jpgAsia Article

Title: China pulls approval for Facebook’s planned venture: NYT

Source: Reuters

What Happened?

Approval for Facebook to open an innovation hub in Zhejiang, China was withdrawn July 25. A Chinese database originally displayed the approval to open up the new location, but this registration has since disappeared.

The decision to remove the approval resulted from a disagreement between Zhejiang officials and China’s national internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China. The organization was disgruntled by the fact that they were not considered more closely on the matter.

China is known for censoring foreign search engines, news outlets, and social media. Facebook’s failed attempt to start a research center in the country simply reflects a long list of trial and error from many technology firms attempting to get involved with China.

Why Should We Care?

I find this article interesting because of how similar world exploration and technological exploration are. Back in the 1500 and 1600s, people from all over the globe were trying to find the next best piece of land to claim as their own. Now, in today’s very globalized society, we’ve turned to the unexplored realms of the internet and technological innovation.

It seems to me that Zuckerberg is taking an approach similar to Britain circa the colonization era. He’s got a very “the sun never sets on Facebook” mentality. With innovation centers in France, Brazil, India, and Korea, he’s slowly edging his way into many countries around the world. China, however, is not having it.

This part of the story doesn’t come as much of a surprise. As a leading force in the technological world, it makes complete sense to me–even as a technological novice in many respects–that the Chinese government is attempting an isolationism similar to the one used by their neighboring country of Japan back when colonization was in its heyday. By avoiding interaction with other countries and their many internet sources, they hold a level of power over everyone else.

It’s a strategy, plan and simple. It’s also quite impressive, especially when the rest of the world is reluctantly accepting globalization as the new norm. If nothing else, this article proves that no matter how advanced our societies might become, one cliché will always ring true: history always repeats itself.

 

Mukherjee, Supantha and Vibhuti Sharma. “China pulls approval for Facebook’s planned venture: NYT,” Reuters, 25 July 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-facebook-subsidiary/china-pulls-approval-for-facebooks-planned-venture-nyt-idUSKBN1KF1Z4


international-update-4.jpgEurope Article

Title: The Latest: Greece fire death toll at 91, 25 remain missing

Source: The Associated Press

What Happened?

The death toll of the wildfire that struck Mati, Greece on July 23 has officially gone from the estimated 86 individuals to 91.

Most of the victims died in the fire itself, but a number of the victims fleeing from the flames also drowned in the sea. Twenty five individuals are still missing and dozens of volunteer divers are searching the sea waters for more possible victims.

According the Centre for the Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters in Brussels, this is the deadliest wildfire seen in Europe since 1900. A memorial service was held today, July 29, at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary to mourn the loss of family and friends in Mati’s community.

Why Should We Care?

Morbid curiosity led me to wonder what caused the wildfires in this beautiful coastal town in Greece. If this is the deadliest wildfire Europe has seen since 1900, it’s obviously a very rare occurrence. According to a handful of articles I read alongside this one, the actual cause of the wildfires has not been determined but arson is suspected. However, Greece’s current weather conditions had a huge impact on the destructiveness of the wildfire.

Much like the rest of Europe, Greece is facing scorching hot weather throughout the country. The heat has dried out most of the vegetation in the country, leading to a perfect breeding ground for wildfires like the one that unfortunately took place in Mati on July 23.

Through an environmental standpoint, this is a very rude awakening to the results of climate change. The extreme heatwaves that are striking Europe aren’t an act of God in my viewpoint. These changes in temperature were made by human carelessness and ignorance.

Through a traveler standpoint, this disaster is equally heartbreaking. Outside of the precious lives lost during this wildfire, many of the beautiful homes and landscapes that make Mati such a sought-after travel destination were also ruined. It’s a true tragedy, through and through.

 

“The Latest: Greece fire death toll at 91, 25 remain missing,” The Associated Press, 29 July 2018, https://apnews.com/9ecd925e64a94265bde034a70ace173a


International Update 6Oceania Article

Title: Earthquake kills 14 on tourist island of Lombok in Indonesia

Source: CNN

What Happened?

A 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit Lombok, an island off of Indonesia, this morning July 29 at around 6:45 Eastern Time.

At least 14 people were killed during the earthquake, around 162 were injured, and over 1,000 homes were damaged by the earthquake. The number of missing individuals has yet to be determined.

The earthquake struck roughly 140 miles east of Bali and was not far from the volcano, Mount Rinjani. Aftershock from the quake lasted up to two hours after the initial jolt. Hikes on Mount Rinjani have been suspended, but flights from the Bali airport are to go on as expected and Australia, Indonesia, and India have not issued a tsunami advisory.

Why Should We Care?

There are so many places in the world that people often seem to overlook. As I’ve come to notice doing this bi-monthly addition to my blog, most of the countries in Oceania fall into the category of overlooked places. Finding daily news on places like Samoa, Fiji, and Tahiti is like digging for gold in the clay-ridden ground of Missouri (it isn’t there). The fact that I even found this article is probably only thanks to the fact that Lombok is a frequented tourist destination.

It’s important to stay aware of any natural disasters that strike around the world, no matter how big or small the country may be. Having accessibility to news from every crevice of the world connects us to places we might not think about on a daily basis. It makes me sad that the only articles I can seem to find in this particular region of the world are often connected to tragedy or conflict because it’s all our news sources seem to deem newsworthy.

My heart goes out to the people of Indonesia, and I honestly hope we start keeping a closer eye on our friends in Oceania. If anyone has suggestions on news sources that are free to access for this region of the world, please let me know.

 

Cullinane, Susannah, Mitchell McCluskey, and Angus Watson. “Earthquake kills 14 on tourist island of Lombok in Indonesia,” CNN, 29 July 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/28/asia/indonesia-earthquake/index.html

Ames and Des Moines, IA

Up until my recent trip to Iowa, I only had one memory of the state. My friends and I pulled an all-nighter in college. It was 5:30 a.m. and we all knew that if we fell asleep, we would sleep through our morning classes. This wouldn’t have been an issue if it weren’t for the fact that two of us had tests in said classes.

We went to school in a small town in Missouri, about 45 minutes away from the Iowa border, so we decided to take an adventure and see how quickly we could get to the state line and back. This resulted in us racing up and down the two lane highway that led to Iowa. We were met with corn fields and nothing more.

So, when one of me friends asked me to visit her at grad school in Ames, IA, I was skeptical. However, I am always willing to try out a new city no matter where it is, so I agreed and made the six-hour trek up north for a long weekend away.

My first day and a half were spent in Ames. Our first night was laid back, eating pizza, binge-watching The Office, and catching up in person. It was an evening reminiscent of our college days.

That Friday we explored Iowa State’s campus. My friend is getting her masters in Student Affairs, so she has spent the last year learning the ins and outs of the school. She gave me my own personal tour and showed me some of the sights on the school’s campus that hold their biggest traditions and legends. One of these locations was the Campanile on the university’s quad.

 

The Campanile is the school’s bell tower. There’s a professor that goes up into the tower every weekday at noon and plays a song of the students’ choice on the 50 plus bells. My friend said it can range from the Mario Brothers theme song to Ed Sheeran. The Campanile is also the iconic site of an Iowa State tradition. According to legend, an Iowa Stater isn’t truly an Iowa Stater until they’ve “campaniled” or kissed someone under the Campanile at midnight. Every homecoming, the university hosts a mass campaniling to ensure everyone gets their chance at the tradition.

Ames 12My favorite location by far, however, was the school’s public gardens. It was like a mini botanical garden, but Iowa State has one special garden ornament that you just can’t miss (literally). Their public gardens are home to the largest concrete gnome in the world. Lovingly named Elwood, the gigantic gnome is 15 feet tall and weighs 3,500 pounds. I think gnomes are ridiculously awesome, so when my friend brought up the spectacle I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to check it out. If you get super attached to Elwood you can buy a smaller replica of him at the gift shop (it weights about 40 pounds).

That evening, we decided to venture out on to the Main Street of Ames. We ended up at Della Viti, a wine bar with a quirky-cool set up. When you first enter the bar, you are given the option of taking a seat at their standard bar or you can put some money on a re-loadable card given to you by the bartender and exploring their array of wines.

The walls of the bar are lined with coolers filled with Della Viti’s wine collection. Each bottle is attached to an automated tap that gives you three options. You can either get a taste of wine, half a glass, or a full glass. You put your preloaded card into the machine, decided what amount you want, and the charge is taken off your card once your glass has been filled with your choice. The bartender holds your debit or credit card at the bar until you are finished, but you can pay by card or cash when you leave.

For only $10.00, I was able to try four different wines and had a great time playing some card games with my friend.

We spent all of Saturday in Des Moines. We left Ames early so we could go and explore the Des Moines farmer’s market. There were treats from coffee and breakfast sandwiches to smoothies and kettle corn. Piles of produce from farms all over Iowa waited to go home with the many shoppers. A lot of stands sold handmade items like soaps, coasters, and artwork. I’ve always loved farmer’s markets with their family friendly atmosphere and live music. There were ton of adorable puppies walking around too, which made the experience 10x better.

As my friend told me, the best room in the building was the library. I felt as if I had walked into the library in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The library is specifically filled with law books that are used by law students throughout Des Moines. You can take a self-guided tour around the building if you choose, but I highly suggest taking one of the tours put on by the staff of the building. You have access to more rooms (aka the library) when you go on the tour and your guide is sure to know more about the many rooms you’re exploring.

The restaurant was busy but we were seated faster than either of us expected. The restaurant looks like the zombie apocalypse movie of your dreams (or nightmares if apocalyses aren’t your thing). The menus look like newspapers with each menu section displayed like a feature headline. My friend stuck with the classic Zombie Burger, a burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and Zombie Sauce. I went with the They’re Coming to Get You Barbara, a burger on two grilled-cheese-sandwich buns (literally two grilled cheeses) and topped with grilled onion, American cheese, bacon, and Zombie sauce. If you are lactose intolerant, I suggest you avoid this burger.

Upon our waitress’s suggestion, we split a basket of fries, which ended up being cheaper in the long-run. Each of us only managed to finish half of our burgers but this didn’t stop us from ordering milkshakes to go. My friend went with the s’more shake (chocolate ice cream, graham cracker, and marshmallow cream) and I went with the Zombie Unicorn (vanilla ice cream, marshmallow cream, and Fruity Pebbles). I was so content after thta meal I couldn’t help but hum The Cranberries “Zombie” under my breath as we left.

Ames 9

I had to leave early Sunday morning, but made sure to have enough time for one last meal with my friend before heading out. We went to one of her favorite spots in all of Ames, Provisions. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve had a meal quite that delicious in a long time. I ordered the bagel and salmon, an inovative interpretation of a bagel and lox. The dish included pickled red onion, tomatoes, capers, soft scrambled eggs, an herbatious cream cheese, a perfectly toasted bagel, and smoked samlon. If Provisions was closer by, I think I could easily become a breakfast person simply because of this meal.

Iowa 1While driving home, my GPS decided to take me down a handful of backroads. As I was driving through one of the many tiny towns Google Maps decided I needed to see, I saw a sign I didn’t expect. It read, “American Gothic House: 1 block“. I made a snap decision in that moment. I could continue along my way or I could have one last adventure. I decided on the later. I got to the American Gothic house 15 minutes before the one-roomed museum opened. It gave me enough time to read the informative signs outside of the house and take a solo pic in front of the American Gothic house. It was my own modern rendition of the American Gothic painting featuring yours truly. My time there was a pleasant, although quick, stop on my way home and probably the best way I could have ended my trip.

All in all, my time in Iowa was filled with one of my best friends, awesome food, a little bit of education, and a concrete gnome! If anything, this trip has confirmed my belief that flyover states have so much more to offer than anyone ever gives them credit for. My time in Iowa led to memories I wouldn’t trade for anything. If you have the chance, give the Hawkeye State a visit. You’ll leave with more stories than you’d ever expect.

 

 

International Update: 7.1.18-7.7.18

For the week of July 1, I focused on a fish food tale, a forgotten tragedy, an act of international compassion, an unfortunate dry spell, and a court’s decision to protect the life of a little girl. I hope you all enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below. All images were found through WordPress’s free image library or taken by me. A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.


International Update 2Africa Article

Title: Foreign appetite for fish meal threatens West Africans’ livelihood

Source: Deutsche Welle Africa

What Happened?

Fishmeal factories are popping up all over West Africa’s coastline, primarily effecting countries like Senegal and Mauritania.

Powdered fishmeal is food for fish raised on fish farms in Europe and Asia. The meal is primarily made out of sardinella, a species found mainly in Senegal.

The price of sardinella has skyrocketed due to the demand created by the fishmeal factories. Many local fishermen only fish for sardinella now and will only sell to the fishmeal factories, taking away the very valuable food source from local markets.

It takes nearly 5 to 10 kilograms of sardinella to make a single kilogram of powdered fishmeal. The demand for the fish is destroying the coast’s fishing industry, forcing the native fishmongers to search for work in other countries. The factories are also causing severe pollution that is affecting the health of the locals.

Why Should We Care?

This article shows us how closed-minded first world countries can be. Our constant desire for the best produce and livestock is leading to the destruction of the livelihood in other nations. If European and Asian markets weren’t so desperate for specific, specialty fish, they wouldn’t have to turn to fish farming. If they didn’t turn to fish farming, then the marine life of the West coast of Africa wouldn’t be in such turmoil.

The addition of these factories is not only effecting the pollution levels in these countries and the livelihoods of the fishmongers, but it is also influencing the lives of women who have no other places to turn outside of the fisheries. The article states that there are women who buy fish from the fisheries to prepare it, smoke it, and sell it in local markets. They now have to compete with international companies that can pay a much higher price for the same product they need.

Is it right for first world countries to take a way of life away from people, simply because some restaurant goers wants a spicy tuna roll? I think it’s time we take a step back and look at where our food is actually coming from. You might be shocked, and possibly disgusted, by how your country goes about getting you your favorite meal.

Sina, Maria. “Foreign appetite for fish meal threaten West Africans’ livelihood,” Deutsche Welle Africa, 5 July 2018, https://www.dw.com/en/foreign-appetite-for-fish-meal-threatens-west-africans-livelihood/a-44506336


International Update 1Americas Article

Title: Our Planet: Puerto Rico Crisis

Source: ATTN:

What Happened?

Puerto Rico is currently in the midst of the second longest blackout in history. The blackout started back in September of 2017 after the island was struck consecutively by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States, which means the territory is somewhere between a U.S. state and independent country. Even as a U.S. territory, the government’s response was slow and underwhelming. Hurricane Harvey struck Texas around the same time Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provided the victims of Hurricane Harvey with $141.8 million in assistance, while they provided Puerto Rico with only $6.2 million.

Before the hurricane, Puerto Rico was already experiencing issues with government debt, mismanagement of the electrical grid, and unemployment nearly three times that of the U.S. average. Now that government recovery efforts have ended, the people of Puerto Rico are reliant on outside support.

Why Should We Care?

This call-to-action featuring Zoe Saldana was a much-needed reminder that our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico need our help. Social media has made our nation numb to tragedies. If the loss and destruction isn’t plastered all over our news feeds, an event that has turned millions of people’s lives upside down is quickly– and quietly– forgotten.

What bothers me the most here is the fact that we’re talking about a United States territory. I feel like the mantra, “Not my country, not my problem” has become a huge part of the United States agenda in the last year or so. Well, here’s a quick lesson for you (in case you’ve forgotten): Puerto Rico is part of the United States. It is our problem. And we’ve disgraced the citizens of Puerto Rico by pushing their tragedy to the side.

Since the national government isn’t doing what it needs to insure the restoration of Puerto Rico, maybe it’s time citizens like you and me take matters into our own hands. Consider donating to the Hurricane Maria Community Recovery Fund. Remember, any donation can help a cause, whether it’s five dollars or five hundred.

ATTN:. “Our Planet: Puerto Rico Crisis.” Facebook, commentary by Zoe Saldana, 6 July 2018, https://www.facebook.com/OurPlanetbyattn/videos/224717608357677/


international-update-3.jpgAsia Article

Title: Thai soccer team found alive after 10 days lost in caves

Source: USA Today

What Happened?

A Thai youth soccer team and their coach were found July 2 in the Tham Luang Nang Non caves. The team consisted of thirteen boys ranging from the ages of 11 and 16. The team had been missing for over a week.

International efforts were called in to find the team when one of the boy’s mothers reported her son missing. It was soon realized that the entire team was gone. Rescue teams from Australia, Britain, China, and the United States sprung into action to help the Thai rescue team find and save the boys.

Searchers are using drills to help widen the narrow and twisty route they hope to use to bring the soccer team to safety.

Why Should We Care?

At this point, we all know that the Thai soccer team came out of this harrowing mishap alive and well. What I find truly beautiful about this unfortunate event is the fact that countries from all over the world came together to help save these boys.

It wasn’t a question of where the kids were from or how they ended up in the predicament they were in. Rescuing them became the top priority on the international agenda.

By combining the skills and brains of multiple nations, we were able to save these boys from uncertain death. Just take a moment and think what the world might be like if countries took this same approach on a daily basis. If we spent more time working together instead of competing with each other, the world might be a much happier and more peaceful place.

 

Bacon, John. “Thai soccer team found alive after 10 days lost in caves,” USA Today, 2 July 2018, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/07/02/thai-soccer-team-found-alive-after-9-days-lost-caves/751274002/


international-update-4.jpgEurope Article

Title: Ireland in state of ‘absolute drought’ as heatwave continues

Source: The Irish Times

What Happened?

On July 5, 24 of the 25 weather stations in Ireland reported 15 or more consecutive days of less than 0.2 mm of rainfall.

The demand for water resources across Ireland has increased 15 percent, an increase that the country is unable to currently sustain according to Irish Water (Ireland’s national water service company).

The current conditions have led Irish Water to issue a nationwide hose pipe ban. The ban covers using hoses to water gardens, wash cars, or fill pools. Anyone caught ignoring the ban will be fined 125 euros (roughly $145.50). If a charged household does not pay the fine, they will be prosecuted.

Temperatures have reached record highs, roughly averaging 28 degrees celsius (82 degrees fahrenheit) and national organizations are warning both parents and pet owners to keep a watchful eye over their children and animals. The hose ban is expected to go until at least July 31st.

Why Should We Care?

To most people in the United States, 82 degrees fahrenheit doesn’t seem very hot for the month of July, but in Ireland, the highs in July normally top out in the mid to high 60s. That means temperatures are nearly twenty degrees higher than the country’s norm (climate change, anyone?).

A country that is often viewed as a lush, green, and vibrant place is slowly drying up this summer and there isn’t much that can be done about it. To think of Ireland without any rain is nearly unfathomable. Rain is a part of the culture over there; without it, Ireland just isn’t the same place.

It does not shock me that Irish Water is taking extreme precautions to preserve the water supply in the country either. Irish Water is known for its extremes, and aren’t particularly on the good side of most Irish citizens. However, in this situation, I hope the natives of Ireland listen to the hose pipe ban and take every precaution to stay safe this summer. Fingers crossed that the rain returns soon.

 

Gallagher, Conor. “Ireland in state of ‘absolute drought’ as heatwave continues,” The Irish Times, 5 July 2018, https://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/ireland-in-state-of-absolute-drought-as-heatwave-continues-1.3554298


International Update 6Oceania Article

Title: Toddler born on Nauru to be brought to Australia for vital health tests

Source: The Guardian

What Happened?

A two-year-old girl will be brought to Australia for medical treatment via court order. The toddler was born in an immigration detention center on Nauru and was moved to Papua New Guinea (PNG) due to her condition.

The court originally suggested the girl be moved directly to Australia for her condition but she was taken to PNG instead. The hospital in PNG is inadequately prepared for the procedures needed to fully take care of the child. This lead to the court demanding the child and her mother be moved to Australia.

The daughter’s father who was still in Nauru, will be transported to Australia no later than July 6.

Why Should We Care?

I found it interesting to compare the treatment of immigrant children in Oceania vs. the treatment of immigrant children here in the States. I found it admirable that the courts involved were determined to get this little girl the care she needed no matter what. It didn’t matter that the girl was the daughter of a family stuck in an immigration detention center. All that matter was the fact that she was a little girl who needed help.

I’m not saying that Australia’s treatment of immigrants is perfect. As the article states, husbands are often separated from their wives and children on purpose so that their families are compelled to move back to Nauru.  I do think it is important to note, however, that the children of these families are treated with human decency. They’re treated as children should be treated: with compassion and with their well-being in mind over anything else.

 

Doherty, Ben and Calla Wahlquist. “Toddler born on Nauru to be brought to Australia for vital tests,” The Guardian, 3 July 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/jul/03/toddler-born-on-nauru-to-be-brought-to-australia-for-vital-health-tests

Missouri Wine Country: Hermann, MO

When most people think about wine country in the States, the first place that comes to mind is Napa Valley, CA. However, any Missourian from the Saint Louis area will tell you Missouri has it’s very own wine country, found primarily in the towns of Augusta and Hermann.

Hermann, Missouri is the home of the Hermann Wine Trail. There are seven wineries on the trail with five of the wineries very close to the heart of Hermann. I’ve wanted to explore this section of Missouri wine country since I turned 21, but my transition back home from college and a pretty crazy work schedule did not put the cards in my favor.

That was until one of my closest childhood friends moved out to Owensville, MO. Owensville is a very quaint town about 40 minutes south of Hermann, making the wine trail a perfect location for us to meet up for a girls’ day out. We picked a day and met up in the center of Hermann to go on a wine-fulled adventure.

We narrowed our wine trail adventure down to three wineries on the map: OakGlenn Wineyards & Winery, Stone Hill Winery, and Hermannhof Winery. My friend had been to most of the wineries in town previously and said these were her favorites.

OakGlenn was our first stop and we were on a mission. That mission was to try their wine slushies. We each decided on their ice tea wine slushie, which was one of the two flavors available for the day. If sweet tea and a tangy white wine had a baby, this would be the result. We enjoyed our wine slushies on the patio of the winery, taking in the scenery, and catching up on life. It was definitely the perfect start to our little adventure.

Our second stop was Stone Hill. This is the winery I’m most familiar with in the Hermann area. Stone Hill is a Saint Louis staple and can be found in most of our local grocery stores. Their blackberry wine is one of my number one go-to’s when I’m going to a girls’ night that is BYOB.

We decided to do the tasting at Stone Hill, going through their many options together and then picking out a bottle of our mutual favorite. We both happened to really like the Jacquesse Kick’n Kosmo.Hermann 3 As you can tell by the wine’s name, Stone Hill took inspiration for the classic Cosmopolitan cocktail and created a delicious blend of cranberry and lime in a rosé base. As a person who leans more towards sweet wines, this was a great compromise for myself and my friend who leans towards drier wines. Stone Hill also have a Kick’n Kolada, Sangria, and Berry in their Jacquesse collection. It’s definitely a unique and fun collection if you’re a new wine drinker that is still trying to figure out what wines they like.

Our final winery of the day was Hermannhof Winery. This winery is probably Hermann’s biggest tourist attraction in respects to wine. There is a self-guided wine cellar tour along with a tasting room and a cheese counter. The winery also has a restaurant attached, but we decided to stick to wine while there.

As my friend and I walked through the cellar tour, she explained how Hermann, MO became the wine country that it is today. It’s all thanks to Jim Dierberg. The Dierberg family is very prominent in the Saint Louis and Saint Charles community. Jim’s brother, William, was the founder of a large chain of markets in the area (Dierbergs) while Jim decided to go into wine.

The workers at Hermannhof were very knowledgable, not only about the wines made at Hermannhof but about Missouri wines in general. As the one worker explained, each state’s soil has a physical impact on the flavors of its local wines. The wines you find in Missouri are going to be much sweeter than the ones you find in Napa, simply because of the acidity levels in the soil. The very ground you walk on impacts the flavors and complexities of the very wine you drink. I find that fascinating.

This same worker also gave us an awesome tip. If you ever find yourself with one bottle of dry wine to share with a group of varying palettes, buy a bottle of grape juice. That way, if someone likes their wine sweeter they can add a little bit of  juice and it won’t water down the wine. It’s a cheaper alternative than buying a bottle of wine for every taste and will definitely keep your guests happy.

My freind and I ended up buying a bottle of the White Lady of Starkenburg, per staff recommendation. It was, again, a perfect compromise for our two palletes and left us very content at the end of our tasting.

Hermann 6We finished our day by having lunch at Fernweh Distilling Company. That’s right, Fernweh. If my blog’s title doesn’t give it a way, fernweh is one of my favorite words. I’m not even ashamed to say that I had a serious fangirl moment when I saw the distillary as I entered Hermann, pulled over, and took the picture featured on the right.  I knew I had to go in before leaving simply because of the name.

We were all wined out by the time we got to Fernweh Distilling Co. so we just stuck with food. It definitely did not disappoint. I got their shrimp po-boy with a side of sweet potato fries and devowered every last thing on my plate. The resturaunt has a classy semi-casual vibe. It seems like a fun place for a date night or great location to meet up with friends for Happy Hour. It was a perfect way to end the day and I look forward to going back some day to actually trying the spirits available there.

The tourism that the wineries have brought Hermann has caused a bit of a divide among the locals in the town. Half of the people see the tourism as a positive influence on the town’s economy while the other half could do without the troves of people the wineries attract. Whatever side you stand on, I feel Hermann has done a fantastic job keeping its small town charm intacked while keeping up with the growing popularity of its wine industry.

If you like wine and want a laidback wine country experience, come visit Napa Valley’s Midwestern cousin. It’s definitely worth the trip.

 

International Update: 6.17.18-6.22.18

I’m going to be playing catch-up with my blog this week. I’ve been on a few great adventures since the last time I’ve posted and can’t wait to tell you guys all about them. There will be four new posts this week to make up for my extended absence. I hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below. All images were found through WordPress’s free image library. A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.


International Update 2Africa Article

Title: Nigeria attacks: Blasts and rockets ‘kill 31’ in Borno state

Source: BBC Africa

What Happened?

Two suicide bombers attacked Damboa, a town located in the north-eastern Nigerian state Borno. It is suspected that jihadist group, Boko Haram is behind the attack. The terrorist group often uses young girls as suicide bombers to target civilians and soldiers.

The Nigerian military started a military operation in May to expel Boko Haram from the region. The attack occurred mere hours after military officials told displaced residents to return to their homes. Over 40 individuals were injured in the attack and there were 31 casualties according to local residents. According to the UN, 1.7 million individuals have been forced out of their homes due to the current Boko Haram conflict.

Why Should We Care?

It think the most important takeaway from this article is not that this area of Nigeria was attacked by a terrorist group. Unfortunately, that’s a reoccurring event in this particular part of the world. The article even states that the Nigerian government and military are currently trying to eradicate it.

What’s stuck with me from this article was this: citizens who had evacuated the area previously were told it was safe to return to their homes the very day this attack happened. It makes sense that the government would want to get misplaced citizens back into their homes, but at what cost?

Is it fair to haphazardly tell people, “You guys should be fine” when it isn’t 100% true? I find it a bit ridiculous the Nigerian military even thought it would be plausible for these people to go home at this point. Their military operation to remove the jihadist group, Boko Haram, only started in May. It’s just not logical to think you have successfully removed an entire terrorist group in a month and a half, when the area in question is heavily populated by people in that terrorist group.

I hope the citizens of Damboa are able to return home soon, but I also hope the government doesn’t jump to conclusions again, for safety’s sake.

 

BBC News. “Nigeria attacks: Blasts and rockets ‘kill 31’ in Borno state,” BBC, June 17, 2018, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-44512912


International Update 1Americas Article

Title: Congress proposes suspending bilateral cooperation with US

Source: Mexico News Daily

What Happened?

Mexico’s Congress presented a proposal to suspend cooperation with the US. This proposal was made after more than 2,000 Mexican children were separated from their parents after the families entered the United States without going through an authorized port.

Congress’s proposal will suspend cooperations regarding migration, counter-terrorism, and the fight against organized crime.

On the same day, President Trump succumbed to domestic pressures and signed an executive order aimed to end the separation of families at the border. The order would bring children and their parents back together, but does not mean they would not still be subject to inhumane conditions in US detention centers.

Outside of Congress’s proposal, Mexico’s Permanent Commission has also reached out to international organizations to condemn US’s immigration policy.

Why Should We Care?

As a U.S. citizen, my social media accounts have been flooded with articles about the separation of children from their parents at the Mexican border. However, the only perspective I was going was from U.S. media, so I decided to do some digging and see what Mexico had to say about the situation at hand.

I think it’s important to see that there were pressures coming from our neighbors in Mexico as well as a national uproar here in the States when it came to reuniting  separated families at the U.S. border. Now that President Trump has signed an executive order, that anger has seemed to die down in the U.S., which I personally find concerning. Yes, families are being reunited now, thanks to the order passed by the president, but– as this particular article points out– the living arrangements established for people caught at the U.S. border are far from ideal. It feels very reminiscent of the Japanese internment camps put into place here in the States during World War II.

It doesn’t seem right to treat people with such little humanity when they’re already desperate enough to try and cross the U.S. border illegally. Legal immigration to the U.S. has turned into an absolute nightmare. It’s time U.S. citizens and leaders take a step back and see how we can make America a land of opportunity again.

 

Mexico News Daily. “Congress proposes suspending bilateral cooperation with US,” El UniversalMilenio, and The New York Times, June 22, 2018, https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/congress-wants-action-against-trump-administration/


international-update-3.jpgAsia Article

Title: If J&K comes under governor rule, it will be for the 8th time in 4 decades

Source: The Times of India

What Happened?

The Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Domestic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance collapsed Tuesday, June 19. The BJP ended the alliance because of the growing radicalism and terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

The state will be placed under governor rule, which means the governor of J&K will be in direct rule of the state. This will be the fourth time governor rule has been put into place during the current governor’s term. It will be the 8th time in the last 40 years that governor rule has been put into place in J&K.

Governor rule is put into place under consent of the president when there is a conflict between the political parties in J&K. If governor rule is not revoked in six months time, president rule is put into place. This means that the central government will directly rule the state of J&K if the governor rule does not help fix local government matters.

Why Should We Care?

I’m going to be completely honest, I find government extremely confusing. I don’t know if I’ve completely grasped my own nation’s government let alone the governments of foreign nations. However, the concept of withdrawing power from political parties for a time being and allowing the governor of a state to make the overarching decisions seems pretty interesting to me.

According to the brief research I did on the subject, J&K is the only state that has governor rule in India. I can see the possible positives and negatives of this approach. Taking the power away from political parties doesn’t sound like a horrible idea to me, especially when I think about the polarizing effects our political parties have had on the United States government. However, I don’t think it’s completely smart to give complete power over to one individual in a government either.

I’m not completely positive that this is what happens in governor rule but it seems that J&K’s current governor has taken advantage of this strategy without much success. In the last 40 years, governor rule has been put into place eight times; four of which have taken place during his rule. With the tensions occurring in J&K, maybe it’s time he hands the reigns over to the central government.

 

India News. “If J&K comes under governor rule, it will be for the 8th time in 4 decades,” The Times of India, June 19, 2018, https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/if-jk-comes-under-governor-rule-it-will-be-for-the-8th-time-in-4-decades/articleshow/64649295.cms


international-update-4.jpgEurope Article

Title: CO2 shortage threatens World Cup beer supply

Source: CNN Travel

What Happened?

Due to the shutting down of ammonia plants throughout Northern Europe, Europe is experiencing a shortage in food grade CO2 which is used to carbonate canned or bottled carbonated beverages like beer and soda.

Due to the summer heat and the World Cup, the shortage is occurring during the most lucrative time of year for beer sales.

The shutdown of these plants was originally do to standard maintenance work, but the increasing cost of natural gas has certain factories debating if they will bother reopening.

Why Should We Care?

First of all let’s share our sympathies with our fellow European sports fans. As a U.S. citizen, I can hardly imagine experiencing the March Madness without a cold beer, which is the closest thing I can come up with to compare to this month-long sporting event that only occurs every four years.

Secondly, this CO2 shortage isn’t going to simply effect the World Cup beer supply. It will influence all CO2 needs throughout Europe. This will be sure to impact the tourist and hospitality industry throughout Europe seeing as beer is a big seller around the continent, not just at the World Cup.

In all seriousness, this shortage has a major impact on a lot of necessary items used in everyday life. They include lasers used for cutting, welding, and 3-D printing, fire extinguishers, refrigerant (aka dry ice), pain killers, and aviation fuels.

 

Smith, Rory. “CO2 shortage threatens World Cup beer supply,” CNN, June 20, 2018, https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/c02-shortage-beer-supplies-intl/index.html


International Update 6Oceania Article

Title: Burned rice killer gets 20 years

Source: Pacific Daily News

What Happened?

Back in 2013, Clifford San Nicolas– a citizen of Guam– plead guilty to manslaughter after shooting his girlfriend after an argument about burned rice.

Five years later, San Nicolas was officially sentenced to 20 years in prison. Fifteen years of that sentence were for manslaughter and the other five were for possession of a deadly weapon.

Valene Borja, San Nicolas’s girlfriend, was shot in the neck and suffered from a fractured spinal cord which caused paralysis from the neck down. She died a year after the attack due to complications.

San Nicolas will be eligible for parole after serving 80 percent of his sentence (16 years).

Why Should We Care?

I think I might be listening to too much of the podcast My Favorite Murder, but this article really intrigued me and infuriated me. This guy shot his girlfriend over burned rice. Burned. Rice. Take a second to take that in. I for one think I burn rice every time I make it. The fact that this man ended up shooting his girlfriend because of it is outrageous.

This extreme reaction deserved an equally extreme and outrageous sentence, but Mr. San Nicolas didn’t get what he deserved. He got off easy. He’ll only have to spend twenty years in prison (potentially 16 if he gets off on good behavior).

San Nicolas deserved a life sentence, plain and simple. He took an innocent life. I don’t know how old Valene Borja was. I don’t know what she did for a living, or if she had dreams or aspirations. I do know that her life was worth more than 20 years with parole.

This article truly illustrates how domestic violence is often treated with apathy and indifference. We need to open our eyes and start charging the villains who commit domestic violence as harshly as they treat their significant others. The men and women that lost their lives to the monsters they loved deserve that much.

Oh, and may Mr. San Nicolas eat burned rice for the rest of his life.

 

Stole Weiss, Jasmine. “Burned rice killer gets 20 years,” Pacific Daily News, June 21, 2018, https://www.guampdn.com/story/news/2018/06/21/burned-rice-killer-gets-20-years/720602002/

5 Places You Have to Visit on Main Street: Saint Charles, MO

Unless you’ve experienced Missouri Days like most children raised in the Show-Me State, I’m sure you didn’t know that Saint Charles was Missouri’s state capitol for the first five years of the state’s existence. Les Petites Côtes (aka Saint Charles, or, The Little Hills) is an often overlooked historical landmark in our country’s history.

Saint Charles was the last “civilized” location Louis and Clark stopped at before heading West to explore the newly adopted Louisiana Purchase. So, while the Arch may be in Saint Louis, Saint Charles is the true gateway to the West.

I’m pretty passionate about the lack of credit my hometown gets when it comes to recognition for its contribution to U.S. history. The Historic District downtown is a quaint place that has managed to keep hold of its old time charm, while the area around it develops into a modern suburbia of Saint Louis. Main Street is probably the best location to truly experience the authentic throwback.

As a cobblestone street lined with family-owned shops, Main Street is the best place to truly experience Saint Charles, Missouri. With the Missouri River always in view, it’s a wonderful place to explore throughout the year. There are festivals on the lakefront during the summer, but my favorite time of year to visit is Christmas time. The streets are lined with carolers, chestnut roasters, and international adaptations of Santa Claus. Downtown quite literally turns into a Midwestern winter wonderland.

No matter what time of year you decide to stop by, I can promise you’ll find a unique store that you’ll fall in love with on Main Street. These are my must-stop shops when I go downtown for the day.


 

 

The English Shop

Blog Post English Shop 1

This store is my first stop every time I go to Main Street. This is mainly because it fuels my addiction to Lyons Irish tea and dark chocolate digestives. It also might just be because I love this shop.

 

When it comes to UK treats, the store has an amazing stock of Cadbury chocolate, Walker crisps, and other classic snacks that are not easy to come by in the States. The abundance of British delicacies can be found on one half of the store while modern and classic chinaware, British nostalgia, and football memorbilia (aka soccer) can be found on the other. There are hidden surprises around every corner.

Keep an eye out for the nods of British humor hidden throughout the store as well. Some of my favorites are the “kittens” for sale and the reminder to “Mind the Gap” at the front door.

 

 

 

Picasso’s

Blog Post Piccasso's 6

This coffee shop is the closest things I’ve found to the real-life Central Perk from Friends. With insanely knowledgable baristas and its welcoming layout, this is the perfect cafe for any artsy individual.

Weather you’re a writer, an artist, or a musician, I know you’re sure to fit in at Picasso’s. Local artwork is always on display and available for purchase; you’re sure to find at least one writer hunched over their laptop any time you stop by. Even if you aren’t the creative type, this is an ideal place to grab lunch with friends (their hummus plate is killer).

 

At night, Picasso’s goes from a laidback coffee shop to a chill bar scene. Open Mic Nights are hosted Thursdays from 7 p.m. to midnight. If you stop in for coffee, give their Mocha Mona a try. If you’re there for a nightcap, they have a fantastic selection of specialty cocktails you won’t want to miss.

 

 

Di Olivas

Di Olivas pic 6

If you’re a foodie, look no further. This shop is the home of high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars with a twist. They have a range of unique flavors you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere else.  Each vinegar and oil can be sampled while you’re in the store, giving you the chance to taste the many possibilities for your kitchen.

My personal favorites are the Rustic Rosemary olive oil and the Double Dark Chocolate balsamic vinegar. I wouldn’t suggest mixing these two flavors, of course, but if you’re looking for perfect pairings, the staff  and owner, Robert Palleja, are extremely friendly and knowledgeable. They are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about their products.

 

Don’t forget to grab copies of Sauce and Feast, two of Saint Louis’s premier food magazines, before you leave the store. Maybe add a fun kitchen gadget to your basket as well. Everything about this shop is sure to make your inner chef do a happy dance.

*Di Olivas is currently undergoing some exciting renovations and I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

 

 

Joys Collective Market

Joys Collective pic

Nothing makes my heart much happier than walking into a restored barn filled with quirky creations and antiques. I stumbled upon Joys with some friends from PA while they were passing through last August (their visit actually inspired the creation of this blog).

 

From boho chic clothes to jukeboxes, Joys is a gigantic chest of hidden treasures. I could easily drain my bank account here; it has everything I could possibly want to decorate my dream apartment. My favorite room in Joys is filled with old cameras, maps, frames, and books. I have to stop myself from spending an hour in that room alone when I go downtown.

 

Rummaging through all of the quirky antiques is a ton of fun, but there are also a lot of newly created items available for purchase, all of which were created by local vendors and artists.

 

Missouri Artists on Main

Blog Post MAOM 1

When you step foot into this gallery, you can instantly sense the eclectic and collaborative nature of everyone involved in Missouri Artists on Main (MAOM). From handmade scarves to mixed media collages, there is something for every artistic taste. They even host art classes, ranging from beginner to advanced, giving anyone in the Saint Charles community a chance to be creative.

 

I could stay at MAOM for hours looking at the different artwork on display. Out of respect to the artists, and per request of the staff, I only took pictures outside of the gallery. I will say, though, that I’m always drawn to Purple Rain, a watercolor print by Judy Smith. It can be found on the first floor of the gallery, so be sure to take a peek inside. The craftsmanship used to create every item in this gallery will honestly leave you in awe and is sure to give you a taste of some of the true talent Missouri has to offer.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Did you sign up to bring dip to your next office party and need a quick and easy mix that is sure to wow your co-workers? Hit up:

Main Street Marketplace

Blog Post Main Street Marketplace

 

Are you craving some Irish American pub grub? Grab a bite at:

Llywelyn’s Pub

Blog Post Llywelyn's

 

Do you need a little bicycle expertise or just want to stock up on some new gear? Stop by:

Bike Stop Outpost

Blog Post Bike Stop

 

Do you have a sweet tooth that just can’t be tamed? Nothing’s better than this Main Street classic:

Riverside Sweets

Blog Post Riverside Sweets

 

Are you a self-proclaimed bookworm that loves indie stores? Main Street’s got you covered at:

Main Street Books

Blog Post Main Street Books


 

As I’m sure you can tell, Saint Charles is a close-knit community that deserves more recognition than it already gets. Whether it’s just while you’re passing through or if it’s for an actual visit, I hope you find the time to stop by Main Street Saint Charles the next time you’re in the Show-Me State.

 

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