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In a week I leave for a long Fourth of July weekend in New York. If you know me at all or if you've followed my blog even remotely closely, you can probably guess the primary purpose for the trip: the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest. It will be my seventh time at the contest since 2008, including that one time I actually managed to eat on the big stage. This year I'll be in the press box, though there's a huge part of me that wishes I would be eating. I thought hard about trying to earn a...

Step 1: Don't Sign Up for an Eating Contest The first step to not preparing to compete in an eating contest is to not sign up to compete in an eating contest. I suppose you can apply this logic to most anything you might (not) want to train for: marathons, SATs, dog-obedience. Whatever. Just don't sign up and you don't have to prepare. Easy. For instance, I didn't sign up to compete in the Ribmania ribs eating contest at Ribfest Chicago this past Friday. To be fair, I might have tried to sign up for it if I hadn't have been been in...

It's festival season in Chicago. At least, it is in theory. In reality the weekends have been cold or rainy or both, and every Chicagoan is waiting for consistent sun and consistent warmth. Not warm one day, cold the next. Not sunny all morning with a downpour at noon. Just warm, just sun. Summer. But in a city known to have all four seasons in one day, we might be waiting for a while. Chicago is miserable in the winter, having the kind of weather that merits not-so-cute nicknames such as "snowpocalypse" and "snowmageddon" and "Chiberia." But we brave those...

Photography has always been my crutch. In high school I learned that if I picked up a camera I could participate in anything without really having to participate: a way to be social without having to be social. I could document parties without having to interact. I could watch concerts even if I didn't understand the music. I could sit comfortably on the outside looking in. Photography is still my way to participate without participating. Though, it's no longer always a combatant to social anxiety. As I recently said: I make a better competitive eating photographer than I do a...

Feria de las Flores ‐ a Colombian festival of flowers — is a big deal in Medellin, Colombia. Every August the city throws a huge celebration devoted to the beautiful blossoms. For an entire week Paisas, other Colombians, and tourists alike flock to the city to enjoy decorative figures made from flowers, flower exhibitions, parades devoted to flowers, and concerts (not made of flowers but still). I arrived in town towards the end of the week, so I didn't get to enjoy everything the flower festival in Medellin had to offer, but I did manage to take part in a few...

India is already proving to be one of those places I have a love/hate relationship with. The highs are pretty high, already some of the most amazing moments I've had on this trip, but the lows are intense and breaking. And my mood and feelings can switch instantaneously. One minute I'm laughing as we teach Jaime how to use a squat toilet in our hotel room. The next I'm frantically throwing all my things onto the bed when the shower overflows and leaks into the room and all over my bags....

Saturday was RedBone Willy's Bluegrass & Acoustic Music Festival in Lawndale, North Carolina! Sadie and I left her place early for the drive to the festival. And on our way we stopped for some breakfast to give me my first taste of Bojangles (not to be confused with Heather's cat). We met up with her sisters Carrie and Jamie (the other half of the Hungry Sisters) and a whole bunch of others for the day. We spent the day listening to some awesome bluegrass music and drinking and eating hanging out and moving with the shade and eating the best grilled...

If you know me, you know one thing. OK, so maybe two things. You know I like the color pink. And you know I like bacon. I like bacon a lot. I'll put bacon in everything including my potatoes and my brownies. So, of course, when I heard about Baconfest Chicago, a festival devoted to all things bacon, there was no way I wasn't going to go.     Baconfest was split up into two shifts and my friends and I chose to go to the second shift: a bacon extravaganza lasting from 3pm to 6pm on Saturday. Chelsa and I got there...

Sunday night Heather and I met up with Alyssa and went to Wicker Park Fest. We played with some random dogs, listened to music, drank (Alyssa beer, me sangria, and Heather nursed a hangover), met Batman, ate (I just had sweet potato fries), and played half-assed hipster bingo (we spotted some nice ironic mustaches and a lot of fedoras). I determined that my usual theory that a hot camera can make a guy look hotter did not apply to Wicker Park Fest for some reason. Then we tried to go to the bar I've wanted to go to but it was closed...