A Summer Evening in Chicago

I’ve lived in St. Louis for three years now, yet I’ve only made the five-hour drive to Chicago twice.  My first trip two years ago was primarily a shopping spree at the Bolingbrook IKEA, with a few hours spent taking in the sights in Chicago.  On Saturday I found myself in the Windy City yet again, this time taking my girlfriend Megan to O’Hare as she set out for Haiti to spend a month working for Architecture for Humanity.  After dropping her off at 4pm I was faced with the decision whether to embark on my five-hour journey home and arrive at a reasonable hour, or enjoy being in another city for the evening and arrive…later.  I went with the latter—or my stomach did anyway.  It wouldn’t let me leave Chicago without a few slices of delicious “Chicago style” pizza.  So I headed for the Loop.

After stowing my car in the bowels of Millennium Park, I resurfaced and looked at my surroundings.  Inspired, I took out my trusty iPhone 4 and began filming.  This is what I saw:

Much of this I saw on my first trip to Chicago two years ago, but some of the buildings were still under construction then.  My favorite new addition is Aqua Tower, by Chicago architect Studio Gang.  The rippling effect created by the undulating balconies is quite breathtaking.  Some of my other favorites are the Tribune building, Marina City, Gehry’s amphitheater, and Piano’s modern wing at the Art Institute.  I look forward to seeing more on my next visit!

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On Monday I returned from a 10-day vacation to Virginia and Maryland.  During those 10 days I managed to attend two family reunions, visit an architectural icon, and acquire a much-coveted iPhone 4, which I proceeded to use to document the latter half of my trip.

Here is a video documenting my time at the Elliott Family Reunion.  I shot and edited the entire film on my iPhone 4.  Watch in full screen mode at 720p for best possible viewing experience.

I must say that for someone with limited video expertise, the shooting and editing experience on the iPhone 4 is amazing.  You can looking forward to seeing more videos on this blog.

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Hello, again

I’m thinking I need to start doing some blogging again.  There’s a chance it may motivate me to do something interesting with the rest of my summer.  Stay tuned, and enjoy the new look.

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One thing you get used to seeing a lot of in Seoul is traffic.  Not even traffic jams, per say (although, there are plenty of those), but just the sheer number of vehicles that pass you by as you stroll down any street.  Two Thursdays ago I spent part of the evening photographing passing vehicles that I found particularly interesting.  I’ve always been a fan of the small utility vehicles and anything with two (or three) wheels.  Here are some of the standouts:

Mini Truck


Red Streak

LEARN KOREAN – traffic:

교통 (kyo·t’ong)

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Chueo-tang in the DMC

Okay, I’m not sure when this turned into a food blog, but I just can’t help myself.

My latest Korean culinary adventure took me no farther than my own backyard.  On the bus home from class this evening I became convinced that if I looked hard enough I would be able to find a good traditional Korean restaurant hidden somewhere between the corporate office towers of my Digital Media City neighborhood.  As it turns out I was right, and in no more than five minutes off the bus was I seated at a nice establishment on the second floor of an LG building.

Most Korean restaurants have one or two dishes that they specialize in, and I was a little thrown off when I didn’t recognize any of the items on the menu board.  Before I had a chance to pull myself together and use my go-to “what would you suggest” phrase, the waiter told me in Korean (with bits of English mixed in) that he would serve me their “delicious” house specialty, chueo-tang (추어탕).  After he brought the food out we spent several minutes consulting my phrasebook and the internet trying to find the English description of what I was eating.  We determined that chueo-tang is a soup consisting of fish stock (from the loach fish), soybean paste, cabbage and turnip leaves, served sprinkled with pepper and ash seed powder and mixed with noodles and rice.  It had a very different flavor from anything else I’ve eaten here, but it was fantastic.  According to the waiter this soup is good for stamina.  I’m not sure if it was the soup or the excitement of trying a great new dish, but I felt like I could run a marathon after cleaning my bowl!


LEARN KOREAN – What’s in that dish?

저 음식에 뭐가 들어있나요? (chŏ·ŭm·shi·gé mwŏ·ga dŭ·rŏ·in·na·yo?)

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I have tried many Korean dishes since I’ve been in Seoul, but sometimes you can’t really appreciate a dish until you order it yourself, as opposed to having it ordered for you by your Korean friend or professor.  This was the case for me with doenjang jjigae.  I have tasted this delicious soybean paste stew a number of times as an accompaniment to a barbeque dinner, but I hadn’t ordered it on my own (or known quite what was in it) until last week.  It is basically a spicy soybean paste broth with tofu, veggies, and small shellfish, served in a stone hotpot.  It has the kind of savory flavor that makes your mouth water just thinking about it.

Since ordering doenjang jjigae early last week I’ve had jjigae on the brain, so on Saturday I went to Hongdae to try a different variety.  I went to a place called Nolboo (놀부) that specializes in budae jjigae.  I ordered it with beef, which consists of sliced beef, sausage (sliced hot dogs), ham (spam), tofu, rice cakes (pressed rice dumplings), baked beans, macaroni, udon noodles, and veggies.  All of these ingredients were cooked in a stainless steel wok at my table and served with rice and side dishes.  I have to say that this was a little more unusual than the doenjang jjigae, but no less delicious.  The portion was enormous for one person, and for the price of 7,000 krw, but I gladly ate it all.

Budae Jjigae

Another meal I had this week that is worth mentioning was a dinner of pig’s feet with some friends.  The restaurant we went to is supposed to be one of the best places for it, a little ways south of Dongdaemun Stadium.

Pig's Feet

LEARN KOREAN – That was delicious!

맛있었어요! (ma·shiss·ŏss·ŏ·yo!)

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Return to Seoul

After returning to Seoul last Wednesday from an excellent trip to Beijing, I have spent the last four days recovering from a cold that I picked up there.  I’m a little bummed because I had planned to use the rest of my fall break to explore some parts of Seoul that I have not yet visited.  The semester is more than halfway over now and I want to make sure I get as much out of Seoul as I possibly can.  One thing on my to do list is to hike up Bukhansan, the tallest mountain in Seoul.  I’d like to do this before it gets too cold, so I’m going to shoot for next weekend.

Aside from catching a cold and some unusual weather, Beijing was a great time.  Highlights of the trip included staying at the Commune by the Great Wall with a sunrise hike to the wall, visiting Olympic Park, wandering through the hutongs of central Beijing, shuffling through Tian’an Men Square and the Forbidden City with thousands of Chinese people, boating around Beihai lake, and climbing to the White Pagoda on Jade Island.  Here are some of my favorite shots from the trip:

Great Wall

Olympic Park


Meridian Gate


White Pagoda


LEARN KOREAN – I’m sick:

전 아파요 (cheun apayo)

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