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Attorneys explore Egyptian culture, history

Rebecca Berfanger
April 28, 2010
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After spending countless hours in an office, some attorneys seem to crave vacations that will take them out of their comfort zones.

So maybe it's no surprise that nine out of 38 people on a trip to Egypt in late March were Indianapolis attorneys. The trip was co-sponsored by Wabash College and The Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

"Those of us on the trip are all frustrated archeologists, Egyptologists, history buffs, and photographers," said Indianapolis attorney Patricia Polis McCrory. She added other Indianapolis attorneys she knew, including George Plews and Lloyd Milliken had also traveled to Egypt recently.

McCrory said she had never been to Egypt before but had always wanted to go. She and her husband, Michael K. McCrory, also an attorney, traveled to Egypt in late March, adding to their list of other adventures, including trips to Mayan ruins and scuba diving.

Other attorneys on the trip included Zeff Weiss, Zoe Weiss, Ronald Gifford, Kathleen Gifford, N. Clay Robbins, Brian Williams, and Catherine Lemmer.

Williams, vice president of development for The Children's Museum, helped organize the trip.

"It was just by chance that we had so many lawyers," he said. But it wasn't just luck that travelers were able to get an in depth look at the history, culture, and people of Egypt past and present. The Indianapolis museum has built up its relationships in Egypt in the past few years, including similar group trips in 2007 and 2008. Among those connections are their tour guide, Fadel Gad, and his classmate, archeologist Zahi Hawass, head of the Egyptian Mummy Project, who were both available to members of the tour group.

Because of the connection, the group had access to places that were not open to the general public. This included sites on which Hawass has been working, including a dig near the homes of the workers who built the pyramids.

The Indianapolis museum also has been working with the Madame Mubarak Children's Museum in Cairo by helping the new museum develop exhibits. Jeff Patchen, the Indianapolis museum's CEO, traveled with the group and discussed the connections between the two children's museums.

Williams called the trip itself "Egypt 101." The group visited many destinations in Cairo, Luxor, and the Valley of the Kings.

Among the spots they visited were colorful marketplaces, the Aswan dam, famous and infamous temples and tombs, the Sphinx, the Nile River via a cruise to Luxor, and an archeological dig that was in progress in Karnak, where 2,400-yearold granite door had been discovered while the travelers were there.

Other highlights, said Williams and McCrory, were camel rides and a trip to an orphanage.

While at the orphanage the children were shy at first, McCrory said, they ultimately warmed up to the tourists. The group brought various donations, including crayons and toys to the group of boys age 7 to 15, and a cash donation to help the orphanage educate the children who live there.

The children also assigned nicknames to the tourists. McCrory said she was "Photo Pat" because she kept taking pictures.

Zeff Weiss, who brought his 15-year-old son Marty, said "those are always difficult trips because we like to think that almost anyone would do a first-rate job of taking care of their children," he said. "I've been to group homes and orphanages in the United States and in other countries. ... It's a difficult environment in which they grow up, but they did seem to be pretty happy to see us. It might have been tougher on us as visitors because we recognized that they don't have the same things we do."

Like McCrory, Weiss and his wife and children have been to other developing countries and traveled around the world, including New Zealand, Italy, and Machu Picchu.

"It has been enlightening and enriching for my son," he added. "Clearly he recognizes most children here in the United States have a better environment than some of the places we have traveled."

McCrory said the group walked about six miles a day, often in heat above 100 degrees - something she and her husband prepared for ahead of time.

She and Williams said they were especially impressed by an 85-year-old who climbed one of the pyramids.

The journey up the pyramid included plank steps, knotches, a metal ladder, and parts that required one to "duck walk" because the ceiling was at a "10-year-old's height," McCrory said.

She and her husband said their son didn't want to go with them, but for the couples who did bring their children there was the added benefit of spending time with their kids.

"Working in a firm, there is pressure to keep producing and not a lot of time to spend with family," she said.

Williams and his wife brought their daughter, who he said had a good time.

McCrory said she and the other attorneys were also able to stay in touch with their offices via cell phone and e-mail, when needed.

Weiss said the trip exceeded his expectations.

"It was a wonderful trip," he said. "It was pleasant to travel with a large group of lawyers while not talking about the law. It was a lot of fun. ... My wife has been pushing travel to exotic places, and this trip exceeded my expectations by far."

As far as why she likes to travel, McCrory said, "There are a group of lawyers who would never do this. But there's also a group of adventuresome attorneys who would jump at the chance."

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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