92nd Street Y - November 20, 2011     (1)

Most New Yorkers are aware of the 92nd Street Y and how prestigious their educational programs are. Given this, I’m pleased (and proud) to share that I’ll be speaking at “The Y” on Sunday, November 20th, at 7:30pm.

My talk is titled “Around the World in 50 Minutes” and will be a lecture / slideshow of my travels around the planet. Tickets can be purchased via this link. Hope to see you there!

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Somebody’s Married!!!     (4)

As some of you know, I’ve always been protective of my private life, keeping personal matters out of interviews over the years. That said, I feel it’s important to share some news that, while extremely personal, is big enough that those of you who take the time to keep up with what I’m doing will appreciate hearing it from me.

Obviously, my writing / blogging has been sporadic in recent months. This was intentional, as my energies and attention have been elsewhere for much of July, August and September. The reason? Well, in September, at what had to be one of the most magical and elegant weddings in recent history, I got married!

I’ve decided (with my wife, of course) to keep the details of the wedding and the subsequent honeymoon private, but thought I’d share at least this one photo so you could appreciate the nature of the event and the absolutely picture-perfect quality of the ceremony itself. The wedding was in Jerusalem, Israel, a place that has always been very special to me and is now even more so. The guest list was relatively small and we intentionally avoided any media attention.

The wedding itself was special beyond words.

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Categories: Miscellaneous Travel

Shell Point Speaker Series     (5)

Yesterday, I flew to Fort Myers, Florida so I could deliver the final keynote address in the 2010-2011 Shell Point Speaker Series.

The title of my 50-minute talk was “World Mysteries - A Selection” and it covered my travels exploring over 50 countries and countless mysteries. In addition to showing photos from dozens and dozens of archaeological sites and world wonders, I focused on 4 specific mysteries:

  • Gobekli Tepe in Turkey - Why did the people there create those t-shaped pillars, and how did community ritual influence the transition from nomadism to settlement?
  • The Amarna Period in Egypt - What was Akhenaten’s vision that led him to abandon the pantheon of Egypt in favor of the monolatrous worship of the Aten?
  • El Mirador, Guatemala - How did the Pre-Classic Maya’s conspicuous consumption of resources lead to their ultimate decline?
  • Rapa Nui (Easter Island) - Similar to the Maya, how is it that the people of Rapa Nui failed to notice the collapse of their environment? Why didn’t they do anything about it?  

I then finished with a brief discussion of where our world is today, how we can learn from the past, and what we must do to safeguard our future. During the post-talk Q & A, the audience asked some really interesting and creative questions about my travels and opinions on several topics.  To finish the evening, I went to dinner with a small group of friends in The Explorers Club’s Florida Chapter. Overall, I had a fantastic time and want to thank the people at Shell Point for their hospitality!

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Categories: Miscellaneous

TODAY Show Expedition Guidelines     (4)

Assuming all goes well in-studio at NBC on Thursday morning, at some point viewers will be invited to submit expedition ideas for future TODAY show segments. Given that TODAY has almost 6 million viewers, surely some of them are involved in legitimate expeditions for research and scientific discovery, right? So why not have those people submit their pertinent details via this website? My goal is to work with you to highlight exciting and adventurous stories around the globe on a regular basis.

In order for this to happen, though, there are some guidelines / criteria that will need to be honored. Here are a few of them, subject to change:

1. Any expedition I participate in must have a scientific purpose and be grounded in the quest for some type of knowledge. We’re not talking about a quest to drink margaritas and study the scientific effects of tequila (although…). I’m looking for real expeditions to study new terrain, learn about new lifeforms, explore the fringes of familiarity. Or it could be about new technology and how that’s contributing to our knowledge of the world. But active is better (see #5 below).

2. Ideally, the expedition should be affiliated with a university, institute, foundation etc. or at the very least a 501(c) not-for-profit. This helps us avoid what could be a commercial for a guide service or a fishing boat operator.

3. Given my travel schedule, it’s likely I will be in the field / on site for no more than 5 days. This may change, but it’s best for now if expeditions can accommodate my coming in late / going out early (I can help with those logistics).

4. The expedition must be able to accommodate a small camera crew. In tight spots, I can film things solo, but it’s better all-around if I can travel with at least 2 other people. Permits and lodging should take that into account.

5. Expeditions should be TV-friendly (visual in nature) and ideally adventurous. If I can rappel, climb, hike, paraglide, dive, etc. with your team, that’s much better than just walking and talking.

Those are just some of my initial thoughts. If you feel like you might have a possible segment for me, please click here and submit the information in the boxes provided. I’m not sure we’ll respond to everyone—likely just those we feel are suitable. But I encourage you to submit your details and we’ll see where it goes. Thanks!

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Categories: Miscellaneous Travel

The Big 4-0.     (14)

February 24, 2011—my 40th birthday. Have to say, I don’t feel 40. I mean, I remember that when I was in high school, I thought 40 was OLD. But I can’t say I feel that bad. And I still have hair on my head, which is something to celebrate, I suppose. But most of all, I’m excited for what this year represents. When I was studying Kabbalah in Jerusalem, I learned that mystics wouldn’t teach a man the secret, hidden traditions of Judaism until he was 1) married and 2) over 40 years old. So here I am, with BOTH happening in the same year! That’s exciting and I’m curious to see what veils are lifted in the near future.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

The New Old Spice - Hilarious     (4)

I know this video premiered during the SuperBowl and went viral shortly thereafter, but I’ve been busy offline and haven’t had much time to write here. Now that I’m back (hi, everyone!), I thought I’d start up again with some humor.

When I was a kid, my dad wore Old Spice. Since then, I’ve always associated it with him (of course) and the nautical world of sailboats, navy peacoats and off-white turtleneck wool sweaters. (Perhaps that’s a result of 1970’s marketing campaigns…) Anyway, this new campaign for Old Spice starring Isaiah Mustafa has spread like wildfire. The clip on YouTube has been viewed over 18 million times, which is astounding.

Even more astounding is how this commercial was made—barely any CGI at all. When you have a spare 20 minutes, watch this clip and be amazed. Enjoy!


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Categories: Miscellaneous

The Myth of Stress     (10)

My twin brother Andy’s first book came out last week! It’s called The Myth of Stress - Where Stress Really Comes From and How to Live a Happier and Healthier Life, and his website does an excellent job telling you all about it. The book outlines a process called ActivInsight that my brother created over the past 20 years.

In a nutshell, ActivInsight is a process that teaches you how to eliminate or greatly reduce stress by changing your understanding of where stress comes from and how, once you have this understanding, to better handle it. Like many of the more profound teachings in the world, it’s surprisingly simple and highly effective. I’m not trying to sell the process or his books; I just want you to be aware of them and to express how proud I am of Andy for creating this! If you’re interested in learning more, the links above can help. You can also follow links to order the book from the Myth of Stress website. Congratulations, Andy!

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Categories: Miscellaneous Movies, Books, TV

Sushi, Seaweed and Microbes     (4)

Just read this announcement reporting the discovery of a seaweed-digesting enzyme in the intestinal bacteria of some Japanese people. An avid sushi eater, I thought this interesting. The article points out this phenomenon is not likely to occur in non-Japanese sushi eaters, as the seaweed must be fresh and eaten in large quantities (drat), but still interesting.

While on the subject of fish, it’s important to note that mercury is a growing concern for sushi eaters—especially for those who like to eat tuna (which I now avoid). If you must eat tuna, I suggest you drink some green tea with it, as this article points out. Phytochemical-rich drinks like green tea and black tea can decrease the bioaccessibility of mercury in your sushi. So order your green tea at the beginning of your meal and sip it while eating your sushi. Kanpai!

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Categories: Food & Drink Miscellaneous

The North Face vs The South Butt     (9)

Ah, the entrepreneurial spirit… Or maybe it’s the spirit of one who seeks to parody, bolstered by the belief in freedom to express and to choose. You decide, but this caught my eye today. 19-year-old University of Missouri in Columbia freshman Jimmy Winkelmann, Jr. has taken issue with The North Face’s “Never Stop Exploring” slogan and the fact that, according to Winkelmann’s attorney, “..the raging majority of these people [who purchase North Face products] are no more capable of climbing a mountain than they are of flapping their arms and flying to the moon.” Seeking to create a counter-brand of sorts, Winkelmann founded The South Butt. Their slogan—“Never Stop Relaxing.”

Lawyers from The North Face (owned by VF Corp) quickly filed a cease and desist. Says Winkelmann on The South Butt’s website:

“After the initial shock of the letter, I brought the matter to the attention of my father who turned to St. Louis legal counsel, Albert S. Watkins, for representation. In what has become a recognized retort, the demand of The North Face was rejected on the grounds that, ‘everyone knows the difference between a face and a butt.’”

I gotta give them credit for that one.

Word is that the case will go before the courts for a hearing on April 12, 2010. Stay tuned.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

New Around-the-World Sailing Record Set!     (6)

French skipper Franck Cammas and his nine-men crew set a new record this past weekend, sailing around the world in 48 days, 7 hours, 44 minutes and 55 seconds. They beat the previous record by 2 days, 8 hours, and 35 minutes, sailing 28,523 miles at an average speed of 24.6 knots in the 105 ft trimaran the Groupama 3.

On winning the Jules Verne Trophy, Cammas remarked “I think we could do a lot better but I’ll let someone else beat our record first as I don’t really see the appeal of battling against myself.” Ah, such modesty…

Interesting to note the improvements in race times in this competition over the past 20 years:

1993 - 79 days (Commodore Explorer)
1994 - 74 days (ENZA)
1997 - 71 days (Sport Elec)
2002 - 64 days (Orange)
2004 - 58 days (Cheyenne)
2005 - 50 days (Orange II)
2010 - 48 days (Groupama 3)

Makes one wonder at what point the technology of better navigational equipment and lighter/stronger ship materials will peak and times won’t be so easy to beat. Maybe 42 days? Regardless, it’s a remarkable commitment to dedicate oneself to…  Congratulations to Skipper Cammas and his team!

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Categories: Miscellaneous Travel News & World Events

50 Minutes with Mariemont High School     (14)

I just finished a 50-minute video Skype session with two teachers and approximately 100 students from Mariemont High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. Back in November, I got an email from Mr. Erik Vanags, a teacher at Mariemont.  He wanted to know if I’d be willing to Skype with his students, as they’ve been using videos of Digging for the Truth as teaching aids for several years in his World History class and I seem to have a bit of a following. It took a few months for us to find a date that worked (an earlier session was canceled due to snow), but we finally made it happen today. I have to say, it was great fun. The kids asked maybe 20-25 questions in all, ranging from “How did you get started in television?” to “What was your favorite place to visit?” to “Did you ever have to do anything really dangerous?” Some of the questions were particularly interesting, like “If you could live in any time and place in history, where would it be?” or “If you could know the answer to any unsolved mystery, which one would it be?” Impressive.

All in all, it was exciting to connect with people who sincerely appreciate learning, travel, history, and the bigger mysteries of life. My thanks to teachers Erik Vanags and Mike Hanley for making it happen. I’m now hopeful that I can connect with other teachers in other schools to do this again and again (time permitting). Such an easy way to use technology to inspire children to learn.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

“LeWhat?”... LeWhif - Coffee You Actually Inhale     (12)

As I type this, I’m having a strange sense of déjà vu. Not sure why, exactly. I may have dreamed of this a year or so ago, but it seems a French company has recently created a product called LeWhif (seriously) that allows you to inhale your coffee. Yup, inhale it, the way some people take their asthma medication. You can read about the technology and the marketing behind it here.

Now, I don’t drink much coffee when I’m not in front of a camera (to give my adrenals a break). But I do love coffee, and I do love breathing, so maybe this thing is worth trying? The video on their website shows a bunch of people pleasantly surprised by the experience, which I’m guessing is more of a taste of coffee than any real jolt. But let’s find out—I believe there’s a place in NY that sells LeWhif and it’s not too far away…. Stay tuned!

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Categories: Food & Drink Miscellaneous

The Man Who Thinks He Can     (20)

Just came across this poem. Thought I’d pass it along…

The Man Who Thinks He Can

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will;
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are.
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.

Walter D. Wintle
(Poems That Live Forever, comp. Hazel Feldman 1965)

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Categories: Miscellaneous

Why Jump from a Perfectly Good Airplane…?     (19)

So I was just browsing various news stories and photo essays when I came across a number of great photos of people skydiving, including this one here:

Gorgeous, huh? Which got me rummaging through my photos…

Hold on a sec.. okay, here it is!

That’s me in front (obviously). Sad to say I’ve forgotten the name of the man strapped to my back, but that would be my instructor at the Mile-Hi Skydiving Center. I went there twice in 2003, in fact. The first time was with two of my best friends in Colorado. The second time was on a date (her idea!). Both jumps were truly awesome experiences—40-50 seconds of free fall over the Rockies at something like 140mph. I swear, after falling that fast, everything else seems REALLY slow and the rest of the day is a breeze.

Of course, some think skydiving is insane but I’d actually love to get my certification. If given the chance, would you jump?

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Categories: Fun & Games Miscellaneous

Thank you all for the birthday wishes!     (35)

A surprising number of people seem to know that it’s my birthday on Feb 24th (...and yes, it’s my twin brother’s birthday, too). My sincerest thanks to each of you for your kind wishes. Really. I’m looking forward to turning 39 and enjoying the year ahead. Feels like it’ll be a good one.

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Categories: Miscellaneous

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