Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Before leaving Ireland, I decided to make an impulsive, last-minute trip to London since I had some free time and just enough money to last for 2 days. I figured this would be my last chance to visit London for quite a while, so I should take advantage of the opportunity, however brief the visit would have to be.

When I arrived in London, the weather was foggy, cold, and generally crappy. Here, you can only see halfway up the London Eye (giant ferris wheel). I did not ride the Eye. I generally don't like ferris wheels. Andrew and I rode the sightseeing ferris wheel in Belfast. Needless to say, he and his beloved camera were almost thrown out of our little car (by me) and sent plummeting to certain death for 1. rocking our car, 2. pointing out how the door wasn't closed correctly and 3. generally being an ass.

St. Paul's Cathedral was one of the stop on our tour bus route. Before I left Ireland, I asked around school to see what people would recommend that I see considering I'd be there for about 48 hours and really had to prioritize. People recommended that I do one of the hop-on, hop-off bus tours since that way I'd be able to see alot of stuff in a short amount of time. My general strategy was to just shoot the landmarks through the bus window as we rode by. However, I really liked St. Paul's, and the weather was nice, so I decided to hop-off and take some better pictures. I didn't go inside though...

One of the few places I did go inside was Westminster Abbey. It was really cool...lots of kings and queens, famous people and others are buried in there. I saw the coronation throne and stood where Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. My high school friends will remember that I used to openly profess my dislike of the British Royal Family, as well as NBA basketball and chapstick. After living in Michigan for a winter I have become a seasonal chapstick user, I followed the Lakers playoff run this summer in LA and now I've visited Westminster Abbey. I guess I've gone soft.

I snapped this picture from inside the tour bus.

Here are Christmas decorations on Carnaby Street, near Soho.

I had this picture taken just to prove that I was actually in London.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas gift

Imagine my surprise when I discovered what had delivered me for Christmas.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Hope you have a great one!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Paris weekend

I'm back in the USA!!! But before coming home, I stopped in Paris for the weekend and stayed with my friends Thomas and Sheridan.
This department store had really cool Christmas lights and festive window displays. Here I am with my Paris-scarf outside. Apparently some leftist group planted bombs in the store earlier in the week creating a big commotion, but they didn't explode and I couldn't understand the French news reports, so I was none the wiser.

Me and law school comrade Thomas.

Thomas and his lovely wife Sheridan.

The Lourve.

Thomas and I were literally the only two human beings in Paris not wearing/owning a scarf. So I went out and bought one, while Thomas got one as a going away present from his classmate Christine.

Thomas, classmate Marine and I at a sing-a-long bar in Paris. There was a really good singer/guitar player leading us all in singing the French favorites. I was possibly the only one who didn't know what was going on because 1. I don't know any French songs, and 2. I don't read French so I couldn't follow along in the songbook. However, it was still really cool to be in the packed bar with everyone, united by the wine and the songs. I was happy to discover that after having a few glasses of wine, my French singing skills drastically improved.

That's me on the train to the Paris airport. I made it back to St. Louis 18 hours later. The worst part of journey was having to sit through the showing of the animated movie "Wall-E" on the plane. Of course I made a mandatory stop at Taco Bell on the drive home.

Friday, December 19, 2008


My trip started when I arrived in Paris 3 months and 11 days ago. Now, I am sitting in the Dublin airport, waiting for a flight back to Paris. I could be sentimental about saying farewell to Ireland...the land of my ancestors which has treated me so well over the past 3 months, but Aer Lingus just charged me 80 euros because my bag was 8kg (18 lbs.) over the weight limit, so I'm not really in a sentimental mood right now.

Here is a picture of my grandfather in Paris in 1945, just as the war was ending. He was hurt in Germany and got to take a trip to Paris while he was recovering. He's in the front row, third from the right.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


The answer to the last post about the photo with 4 houses: The third house from the left is the "crooked" house in Cork. It is leaning/slanted. However, upon further review of my photo, it's pretty hard to tell. So if you didn't get it, no worries.

I am currently in the London-Standsted airport. I will be staying here overnight so I can catch my 6:20am flight back to Cork. I am flying Ryanair, so of course the airport is inconveniently located. The airport is about 45 minutes from central London, and the only option to get me here in time for the flight was to arrive the night before and spend the night in the airport. So right now I can choose between sleeping on the cold fake-marble floor or using the Internet. There is no way for me to upload pictures using this terminal, so this post will be lacking the usual standard of photographic excellence you have gotten used to on

London was really cool. My short two day visit gave me a good taste of what it's like to be a Londoner. A few thoughts: 1. it is expensive here, but not THAT bad. the pound has recently lost some value, which helps for anyone coming from a country using euros or dollars; 2. it's nice to be in a big, major city were English is the native language (as opposed to Paris or Rome, which are cool, but language is a big obstacle); 3. the illogical obsession with the monarchy continues (I have been quoted as saying that I hate three things: chapstick, NBA basketball, and the Royal family); 4. it was really, really foggy on Tuesday, but a nice and sunny Wednesday made up for it; 5. London may be the most multi-cultural city I have ever visited (now I sound like Thomas).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Ole Bessie Lou finally died

The screen on Ole Bessie Lou (see earlier post) finally blacked out on me. It went from working intermittently to not working at all. In fact, now if the screen does light up for a few moments, a black spot appears in the right hand corner and creeps up the screen, eating away the color. It also gives off a pretty bad burning smell. I'm no computer expert, but I don't think the burning smell is a good sign.

I guess the timing is alright, as I'm about to enter the final segment of my trip. The school semester has ended. I'm leaving for London tomorrow and will be there for 2 days. Then a quick stop back in Cork one last time before I head to Dublin, then Paris, then home!

I've thought alot about what I am going to do with this blog once I get home. I know that I want to keep it going ...but since my main topic of conversation (the trip) is coming to an end, I'm not really sure in what capacity it will continue. I have a whole list of blog ideas and half-written posts I haven't gotten around to finishing--and there are many things from the trip I didn't get to write about. So that will keep me going for awhile. But I don't want to get too we'll see.

See if you can tell what's wrong with one of the buildings in this picture.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Criminal Justice Clinic Christmas Dinner/Party - UCC Cork, Ireland Dec. 11, 2008

The semester ended last week and our Criminal Justice Clinic celebrated with a Christmas Dinner and Party. It was also a sort-of "goodbye" party for me and Tom...since Tom was leaving the next day and I'm not far behind. We had a great time with our class all semester, both in class and going to many placements around Cork, observing the Irish criminal justice system first-hand. Here are some of the pics from the festivities... you can see the rest by clicking this link:

Tom, Dorothy (the program coordinator), and I enjoy the Christmas festivities at The Bailee.

The organizers, Louise and Grace

Ciara and Avril.

Tom and Miriam

Tom, Alan and Louise

Tom, me and Brian

Brian, David, Tom's hand

Tom and Ciara prepare to do battle in the greatest of Christmas traditions...sumo wrestling.

me (wearing "big velvet" -- the jacket I only bring out for very special occasions), David and Tom

The lads enjoying a Japanese dinner at Wagamama

I (not too surprisingly) got separated from the group and didn't get to say "goodbye" to anyone :( So I'd like to take this opportunity to say that it was great getting to know all of you and I had a great time in Cork this semester. It went by way too fast! Have a great spring, good luck finishing the LLM...and if I ever get arrested in Ireland I'll be sure to call one of you guys first. If you're ever in St. Louis or, after next fall, in LA, look me up. Feel free to Facebook me, and I'll accept unless you're Grace.

Injury follow-up

In case you were wondering, my leg feels alot better today.

I realized that I left out one of my best injury stories! When I was 12, my friend and I devised a pogo-stick obstacle course. I was hopping down a flight of stairs in the alley behind my house, when I didn't jump high enough off the last step and wiped out. I broke my ankle, had to wear a cast for about 6 weeks, and then had to go to physical therapy for 4 months.

Once again, I don't really have a picture that goes with this story, so here's a picture of the hot dog, coffee and donut shop that I'm going to miss... For awhile, Tom and I would stop here every morning before court.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Stupid Injuries

I recently injured my leg while browsing the internet. I was supposed to be writing a paper, but I got so caught up in the breaking Rob Blagojevich scandal that I sat in the library computer lab for about 8 hours, reading news about the scandal, watching the live press conferences, etc... I was sitting on my leg or had them crossed weird or after 8 hours of not moving, something by my knee got messed up. I think I only wrote about two pages of my 15 page paper that day.

So I've been limping around town for the 3 days...and since you have to walk everywhere here, I've had alot of time to reflect on my injury. I got to thinking about other stupid injuries I've gotten. I'm not talking about the routine stuff...accidentally poking your eye or punching yourself in the face. Here are my top 4, in no particular order:

-injuring my leg while browing the internet (see above)

-spraining my shoulder while carrying a heavy water jug when I was the manager for my high school football team. the school newspaper could have written an article about it... Headline: "Football Team Waterboy Goes on 15 day DL, 'Water was Too Heavy' sources say". Of course I lied to everyone at school when they asked why my arm was in a sling...

-injuring my tricep while making a one-handed left-hand turn in my car. I was eating a McDonalds Xtra Value meal (2 cheeseburger meal) with my right hand, so my left hand had to do a sweeping, left-hand steering wheel motion unaided. ouch.

-falling off the top bunk of my college dorm room bunk-bed in the middle of the night. I had the weird experience of waking up in midair, before falling on top of my wrist. Evidently, this isn't all that uncommon. Regardless, I think I told people that I hurt it in an armwrestling competition or something.

Other people:
-a few years ago, when we were picking out a real Christmas tree at a Christmas tree lot, my mom injured her eye while trying to sniff a tree. It was a beautiful evening, about a week or two before Christmas. Snow was falling, Chrismas carols were playing, the smell of fireplaces was in the air. It was a very peaceful and idylic moment. Then my mom leaned in a little too close to one of the trees to make sure it smelled ok. A needle poked her in the eye and it really pissed her off. She barked at my stepdad and me to pick any tree and get the hell outta there.

The Winner Is!
-my friend Irfan, who wasn't know for being a particularly active person in college, once relayed a story to me about how he injured his neck while yawning and watching Sportscenter. i'm not sure of the details...but i'd be willing to guess that "yawning injuries" aren't all that common...

I couldn't think of any pictures that pertained to this post's subject, so here, for no good reason, is a picture of what I had for lunch. I got this "O'Flynn's Gourmet Sausage Sandwich" (read: fancy hot dog) at the outdoor Christmas market on Patrick Street, in Cork this afternoon.
Not sure if that's O'Flynn or not...but there are his sausages.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Happy Birthday!

I would like to wish my big-sister Sara a "Happy Birthday"!
I would like to also take the opportunity to remind everyone of the time circa-1987 when dad took us through the drive-thru of Burger King and only got of one small bag of fries for us to share and I was absolutely starving and you totally hogged almost the whole bag and took way too many...way more than your fair share. In law school-speak I would say that you took advantage of your superior bargaining power and had callous disregard for the needs of those less fortunate than you.
I can only hope that since now you have children of your own you can learn to bring the ideals of fairness and sharing into your life.
I hope you had a great day sis! :)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Circuit Court

Here's a picture of the Cork Circuit courthouse, located in downtown Cork. My criminal justice clinic has been observing a murder trial being held here for the last 2.5 weeks. We just found out that both defendants were found guilty, the correct decision in my opinion.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Exam time

It's exam time back at home...and here in Ireland. Unfortunately I am spending the time I previously had alloted for blogging to do pesky things like write papers and study for exams.

I've posted this random photo of happier times to help everyone finish off yet another semester. Enjoy.

My continuing cultural relevance...

There have been two rather exciting updates on the "We Are The World Front." Check this post and 3 follow-ups for context.

First: Andrew and I went to a local pub the other day with some friends for an "International Student Society" event. (It's still weird the be considered an "international student".) We were leaving the pub when our friend Giulia, from Italy, started humming a song. Andrew, recognizing the tune, said "What are you humming?"

Giulia: "'We are the World' by Michael Jackson."
Andrew: "You like that song??"
Giulia: "Yes, of course. It is a very popular song in Italy. Everyone likes it. It is a Christmas song, you know, peace, love..."

BOOM. 1 point for Chapmaster. With my taste in music, I be a huge success in Italy. (Remember when I said that I threw 2 coins into the Trevi Fountain?)

: This update is courtesy of my friend and classmate Andrew (back in the US, not the Andrew here in Ireland who got his nose waxed in a previous post). This poem is Andrew's Christmas present to me. I didn't know he was a budding poet...

I awoke to the sounds of CNN,
In a long period of slumber I had been,
Listening to the interview of Quincy Jones,
They were discussing We Are the World and Tom's headphones,
I had a good laugh and thought of Steve Chapman.

DOUBLE BOOM: I was practically featured on a 24 hour cable news network and it was so moving, it drove people to write poetry. That's F-ing beautiful.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fast food is the best food

My (step)brother Chris snapped this picture during my trip to San Francisco. I had just said out loud, "I wonder why there is such a strong coffee smell right here."
Obviously I hadn't turned around to see what was behind me. I felt bad for insulting the Starbucks, so of course I had to go in and buy an espresso. This was a pretty rare flub for me...I usually can spot fast-food places from a mile away. Especially Starbucks and McDonalds.

A few years ago, I had the idea of starting a fast food blog. Basically I would eat and rate my (usually drive-thru) dining experiences online to let others know about the fast food places in my area.

--"10/27/2005: drove thru Burger King at Grand River Rd. just off Haggerty Rd. for lunch today. got a chocolate shake and it was not very chocolatey and too runny. local residents be advised to drive to the Burger King on Grand River Rd. in Wixom for a properly made chocolate shake."
--"2/1/2007: went to McDonalds today at the corner of Chippewa and Hampton. ordered the 2 cheeseburger meal. the burgers were sloppily made and the meat patties were off-center, resulting in several all-bun bites. don't go here if Sandy is working at the burger prep station."
--"7/17/2008: drove thru the El Pollo Loco at Sunset and Santa Monica Blvd. of course I got the dark meat 3 piece. delicious as always."

For some reason, that blog idea never took off.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Andrew's waxing and threading

I was looking at some videos from the Istanbul trip and was shocked to discover that I overlooked these two gems...

video shot by Tom

Friday, December 5, 2008

ole Bessie Lou is sick!

In class on Wednesday, the LCD bulb/lighting element decided to crap out on ole Bessie Lou (my laptop). Basically, about 5 minutes after I start her up, the whole screen goes about 98% black. I say 98% because if I shine a bright light on the screen, I can see that everything is still there. I was initially concerned that I had lost some schoolwork and photos. Luckily, it only seems to be a hardware problem.

Since I am in the law business, I will assess blame for this mishap in percentage of fault.
-) 1% blame - me, for probably dropping or handling ole Bessie Lou too roughly once or twice...
-) 32% blame - Michael Dell of Dell computers because, after-all, his name is on the computer...
-) 33% blame - Andrew, because he and I had a discussion the day before about whose computer is better. At the time, I believed ole Bessie Lou was clearly superior because Andrew's computer is so loud it sounds like a Harrier jet getting ready to take off from the deck of the U.S.S. Nimitz. Also, his computer gets hotter than Daisy Duke in her short-shorts and is liable to burn your lap or anything else it's sitting on.
-) 34% blame - Tom, when he saw I was having computer problems in class, he cursed my computer and play-kicked it. He has weak ankles, so I know the kick didn't harm ole Bessie Lou, but the curse did. Tom was unhappy that I would not publish some of his comments on this blog. I told him that if his comments met the Chapmaster standards of excellence, I'd allow them to publish. He was unsatisfied with this and cursed ole Bessie Lou again.

One of my team of computer experts, (step)brother Chris diagnosed it as a possible loose wire, and sent me instructions on how to open up the keyboard and "wiggle it." I think the chance that I can sucessfully open up ole Bessie Lou and operate on her without causing more harm is about 1%. So I'll just tough it out until I get home in a few weeks. Please excuse any misspellings or grammatical errors because I can barely see what I am writing. The internet says it will cost $0-$300 to fix Bessie Lou, but until then, I have to improvise.

visitors #1

We've had a handful of visitors from the USA come see us in Cork and we've met other USA friends elsewhere in Europe this fall. I will honor them with their own individual blog posts...

First up: my former boss Kristi and her mom Judi. Kristi discovered quite by accident that we would all be in Rome at the same time. Kristi and Judi were on a tour of Italy and Andrew and I were in Rome for Halloween. Kristi and I discovered via text message and Facebook that there was only one evening where our trips would overlap in Rome. My night was already planned, but I was able to shuffle things around and zip over to their hotel in a cab. We got a drink in the hotel bar (thanks Judi) and discussed the good ole days in Kirkwood and Novi. Kristi is the person who, for better or worse, introduced me to the world of immigration law. I was a newly graduated Russian and International Business major with extensive FedEx shipping skills, looking for a job in a city with few Russians and even fewer people doing business with Russia. (Tom, feel free to correct my grammar.) Kristi was the only one who took a chance on me...and probably the only one who read my resume. Low and behold it's 4.5 years later and I am about to embark on a career in immigration law. Here's a pic the barman snapped of the three of us:


Thursday, December 4, 2008

The days are getting short...

As the winter solstice approaches (see the post about my run-in with the mystical druid-finger ghost that appears on the winter solstice) the days are getting shorter and there is not much sunlight to be found here in Cork. I guess because we're so far north the days seem incredibly short. I get up at 8am, it's still dark outside. When I go to my class at 5pm, it's pitch black out already. I remember the opposite happened when I went on my first study abroad program in St. Petersburg, Russia 9+ years ago. It was summertime during their "White Nights" in the time around the summer solstice. It was really cool because the sun never set. Now, 9 years later, it never rises. I went outside around 11:30am at it felt like the sun was setting already. It's sort of a moot point anyway, because 85% of the time its cloudy anyway.

Here's my interpretation of the sun's current path here in Cork. And then I'll put my interpretation of what they do here to cope with the darkness and gloom.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Give him an A+

My presentation in my Information Law class yesterday was so inspiring, my classmate and colleague Christian, from Germany, decided to blog about it. It was his first post in English, and as you can see, his grammar and punctuation is way better than mine. I must admit that my poster was a hit... Check it out:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

tools for procrastination...

For all those looking to delay the start of their workday/homework/exam studying, I humbly suggest these entertaining diversions...

(thanks to Lauren for tipping me off to this one)
(an old classic) (if you're interested in St. Louis or architecture) (the gold standard)

Geraldine McQueen
: "The Winner's Song"
This video features English comedian Peter Kay and is a parody of all the "American Idol"-type shows in Britain. It reached #1 in the UK a few weeks ago. Anyone who is a watcher of American Idol will probably like it.

The Pogues:
This is an Irish band that was big in the early 90's, broke up, and then got back together not too long ago. Here's a song I heard in a pub a few days ago and have been slightly obsessed with ever since: "A Rainy Night in Soho". This song, "Fairytale of New York", is a Christmas favorite over here and has recently been voted #1 Christmas song. Oh, and check out the lead singer's teeth for a special treat...

Sex on Fire:
The Kings of Leon is an American band from the South. They're hugely popular over here. When I left the U.S. they weren't popular there...but maybe that's changed. All I know is that this song is played everywhere in Cork right now. On TV, radio, in shops, at clubs, etc. "Sex On Fire".

Strange Irish song that I kinda like: "Sweet Sweet Kisses" by Duke Special

Monday, December 1, 2008


In yesterday's post, I featured our Irish Thanksgiving celebration. Here's one unfortunate incident from that evening that I feel is my duty to report to everyone. (this is a dramatized version...fact checked by AS himself)

Many people tried very hard to make our Irish Thanksgiving close a substitute to an American Thanksgiving as possible. Matt and Dan spent virtually the whole day cooking, after having spent the days before Thanksgiving planning and buying hard-to-find ingredients. Other members of the group lent their apartment space, cooked dishes at home, assisted with cooking, or brought other items for the feast. For example, as I eluded to in the first Thanksgiving post, I brought the very popular dinner rolls and soda. At about 8pm, everything started coming together. The apartment was filled with warmth and the smells of a Thanksgiving feast, food was set out on the table...people began realizing that we'd have an actual, authentic, Thanksgiving dinner. There was excitement and jubilation in the air. Everyone's hard work and effort was going to pay off in a cornucopia of holiday deliciousness.

We all took our seats around the table. Someone suggested that we say "grace" and someone else playfully suggested that we all hold hands while doing so. Andrew, who had earlier called and interrupted the cooks about 75 times to get directions to the apartment (before arriving to dinner late and not bringing anything [aside from a free lesson in how to sing show-tunes from "Les Mis" and "Beauty and the Beast"]), stood at the end of the table. Dan, the patriarch of the evening (since he carved the turkey), volunteered to lead us in prayer.

Everyone joined hands, closed their eyes and bowed their head. Dan began with something along the lines of..."Dear Lord, We thank you for bringing us together today and providing us with this bountiful feast...." Just then, during the middle of the prayer, Andrew interrupted, shouted something rather inappropriate. I was confused and taken aback. I opened my eyes to see Andrew peeking his eyes open and smirking...looking around the circle to see if anyone laughed at him making fun of Dan's prayer. No one was laughing. No one had looked up. There was silence. I glared at Andrew and slowly shook my head side-to-side. After a period of more awkward silence, Dan recovered and continued the prayer. The prayer ended and we commenced feasting.

Here is a dramatization of what happened, and what everyone was thinking...(click to enlarge)

After dinner, Andrew discreetly asked me about his prayer-joke. He says that (for some odd reason) he didn't think the prayer was "serious"...that he wasn't actually trying to mock it. Nevertheless, he admitted that it was pretty awful that it sounded like he had made fun of the prayer and/or Dan as he was saying the Thanksgiving prayer. I replied, "Well, that's what happens when you try to be a jackass and make a joke out of everything. Sometimes the class-clown screws up. At least they were nice enough to ignore you."

Andrew nodded...but I'm not really sure if he fully understood what I was saying.

...quote of the day

“Juries scare me. I don’t want to put my faith in the hands of 12 people who weren’t smart enough to get out of jury duty.” -Monica Piper, screenwriter

Sunday, November 30, 2008

An Irish Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving, in pictures:
I began the day by walking about an hour to go pick up a package from the An Post (Irish post office) sorting facility. Apparently, the post office will attempt to deliver a package once, and then it is sent away to a far away warehouse, and then sent back. I actually had a nice walk to the outskirts of town, passing the Lough along the way. Lough is the word for lake, and is pronounced like "lock." There was an unbelievable amount of birds hanging out at the lake. If we had been unable to get a turkey, we surely could have captured a couple of good ducks, swans and some geese for Thanksgiving dinner.

A group of us Americans decided to have a real Thanksgiving feast. The effort was spearheaded by Matt and Dan. Here, they are inspecting the turkey as it has just come out of the oven . This was the first time anyone present had cooked a turkey. Matt and Dan poked at the turkey, wondering where all the stuffing went.

Upon further inspection, they find the stuffing way up in there...or in other words, they find the junk in the trunk. Gross.

Dan had the honors of carving the turkey.

Here, Dan becomes drunk with power and the excitement of carving his own turkey.

The feast, complete with turkey and all the important side dishes. It was actually very good. I had been skeptical earlier in the day, telling people back at home that I had low expectations. But I was wrong to doubt them, as it turned out delicious.

Here, we devour the feast in a matter of mere minutes. I very graciously brought the dinner rolls and 3 bottles of soda. By all accounts, the rolls and soda were universally loved by everyone.