Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Delicious winemaker dinner at Acquerello Restaurant
Delicious winemaker dinner at Acquerello Restaurant last night. The winemaker brought wines that the chef wanted to pair with her food. It was all =really= delish.

Before we went, his nibs said, Piemonte wines. I think we've been to the village this wine is supposed to come from. He named it. I checked. I rummaged through old digital photos we'd taken on a trip in September 2002. And, yes, we had indeed walked through the village of Serralunga d'Alba.

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We'd poked through the square and climbed up into the castle that dominates the surrounds.

We'd walked through Gaja vineyards in the morning and watched them harvesting, before we walked up to the village

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but I'm pretty sure we hadn't walked through Ettore Germano, which is a ways from the village and on the other side of the village from Gaja.

Tasty wines last night. He had a sparkling to start and a gem of an un-oaked Chardonnay before he dove into Barolos and such.

Plus Sergio Germano was a very charming man with loads to talk about truffles and wine and winemaking. Entertaining evening all around. We need to visit Acquerello more often than we do. Suzette Gresham-Tognetti makes such amazing food.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009
Walking Companions
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09 Sep 2009. Before Lunch. Near Ebbor Gorge, Somerset.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009
The days of wine ... and carnations
A tradition in Ukraine is that a guy brings a single flower to the girl when he meets her for their first date.


Imagine the story behind this scene I found one morning on a low wall in Kyiv, while we were walking up to the Saint Sophia cathedral from the little apartment we'd rented for a couple nights while we saw the sights.

A wonderful first date? A failure? A memorable evening? A first-and-last date? The start of something wonderful and lasting? A cigarette (or two) was obviously involved.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009
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Through a dirty window. ...

The views were delish in notoriously foggy London and in the 'burbs.

Tomorrow I'll unpack the photos from the SW England walk and our hangabout with the PCV in Crimea.


Thursday, July 09, 2009
When United Declines Your Claim
... there's still something you can do. ...

Dave Carroll [Sons of Maxwell] - United Breaks Guitars

Update: Update

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009
At the get-together on Sunday we were trying to describe the Crinan Hotel and why it was a place we'd stay again in a flash if we had the time and the wherewithal and the time and the time and the time.

Why? Well, because walking along the canal and up into the hills is a dream and because the beds are soft and breakfast and dinner are included. The food is delish. The staff is invisible. The days are glorious whether they're sunny or not.

And then there's the view out your window across Loch Crinan:

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A picture's worth a thousand words.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009
The government plans to demolish and rebuild 85 percent of Kashgar’s Old City..
SJ Rozan posted a link to a NYTimes news story on Facebook.

To Protect an Ancient City, China Moves to Raze It -

Saying it fears earthquake damage, the government plans to demolish and rebuild 85 percent of Kashgar’s Old City.

Discussion continues on SJ Rozan's Facebook as to whether this urban renewal in Kashgar has anything to do with earthquakes or perhaps something to do with the Chinese central government's take on the local Uighur Muslim population.

No, it couldn't be anything like that. Why look at this signage at Kashgar's Idkha Mosque, the largest mosque in China:

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All of it shows fully that Chinese government always pays special attentions to the another and historical cultures of the ethnic groups, and that all ethnic groups warmly welcome Part's (sic) religious policy. It also shows that different ethnic groups have set up a close relationship of equality, unity and helps to each other, and freedom of beliefs is protected. All ethnic groups live friendly together here. They cooperate to build a beautiful homeland, support heartily the unity of different ethnic groups and the unity of our country, and oppose the ethnic separatism and illegal religious activities.

Cheyney (Laughing Planet) weighs in ... Well worth the read.

A few of my photos of Kashgar Old City (October 2006 trip through Xinjiang province and over the Karakoram highway into the Hunza Valley in Pakistan)

This is the stairway up to the second floor living quarters in this building.

A wood carver's stash.

Rug shop.

Hardware store.


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Did the Chinese government ask if these folks wanted their homes razed? "For their own good" Why does that remind me of Tibet?

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Tuesday Flower and Plant Market in La Grand'Place, Brussels
The Web cam at La Grand'Place, Brussels has been a favorite since I found it years and years and years ago.

These days the camera only shoots from one end of the plaza (instead of two, when I first found it) and you can only view it (or =I= can only view it) with IE.

Luckily, I have a little app with my Firefox that swaps back and forth between FF and IE. I use that app to be a voyeur on the La Grand'Place.

Right now it's a bit after midnight in San Francisco.

It's drizzly in Brussels. I'm watching the setup for the Tuesday Flower and Plant Market in La Grand'Place.

Such a voyeur I be. Come watch with me.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009
United Airlines To Charge Heavier Passengers Twice To Fly
United Airlines To Charge Heavier Passengers Twice To Fly -


Under the rules outlined by United, passengers who "are unable to fit into a single seat in the ticketed cabin; are unable to properly buckle the seatbelt using a single seatbelt extender; and/or are unable to put the seat's armrests down when seated" will be denied boarding unless they purchase an extra seat.

If no empty seat exists, the passenger will be forced to take a later flight.

"The seat purchase or upgrade must be completed for each leg of the itinerary," the United policy states. "If a customer meeting any of the above-listed criteria decides not to upgrade or purchase a ticket for an additional seat, he or she will not be permitted to board the flight."


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Friday, February 20, 2009
Field Trip Report (12Feb-19Feb 2009)

Thursday 12 Feb 2009

Up by 3:15A. Super Shuttle pickup at 3:45A for a 6:A departure from SFO.
Arrived O'Hare. Caught GO Shuttle to Fairmont for the 2009 AAAS annual conference, which split meetings between Hyatt Regency (sessions) and Fairmont (plenary talks).

We've been attending AAAS meetings during the long Presidents' Day weekend in February since 2001 when the meeting was held in San Francisco and had dueling plenary talks by Francis Collins (director of the government's National Human Genome Research Institute) and J Craig Ventner (head of privately-held Celera Genomics) announcing the decoding of the human genome.

Also that year was one of the best (and most beautiful) plenary talks I've been to: David Malin's overview of astronomy images from the Anglo-Australian Observatory. Beautiful.

We had such an entertaining time that in 2002, when the meeting was in Boston, we went again. And we've continued going each year as the meeting moved.

# Boston, Massachusetts, February 2008
# San Francisco, California, February 2007
# St. Louis, Missouri, February 2006
# Washington, D.C., February 2005
# Seattle, Washington, February 2004
# Denver, Colorado, February 2003
# Boston, Massachusetts, February 2002
# San Francisco, California, February 2001

Back in the day when I was writing a monthly surfing-the-web column, I could always depend on the AAAS meeting to give me enough batter to cook up several months of columns.

Arriving at the Fairmont, Chicago, Thursday afternoon, we checked into our room and walked over to the Hyatt to pick up our badges and bags and schedules.

(The AAAS Annual Meeting offers a unique, exciting, interdisciplinary blend of more than 150 symposia, plenary and topical lectures, specialized seminars, poster presentations, and Exhibit Hall.)

From 5-6:30P Thursday, we attended the Canadian reception at the Hyatt and schmoozed and noshed and drank wine, then moved over to the Fairmont for the AAAS opening and plenary talk by James T. McCarthy, President of AAAS, followed by more nosh and wine. Wine at the AAAS function was open bar (and $9/glass of wine!), so the amount poured by the tenders was considerably less than what was poured at the Canadian reception.

Friday 13 Feb 2009

Friday... sessions. His nibs' background is in experimental high energy particle physics. Mine is in biology with a chemistry minor. When we look at the sessions (15-25 per time slot) and scratch this one and star that one as we decided which of the multitude available we'll check into and maybe stay with, our choices are amazingly complementary. i.e. He scratches the things I star and vice versa. We do meet up at the noon-time topical lectures sometimes and the evening plenaries, but he'd rather listen to people expound on string theory while I'd rather listen to people talk about the problems of resuscitating dead zones in the Black Sea.

The Friday plenary (Evolutionary biologist Sean B. Carroll on Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origins of Species ) was held early, (4:30 - 5:30P). Interesting. Carroll talked of Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace and Henry Walter Bates, who were all under 25 when they went off exploring into the Amazon jungle, the Malay peninsula and on the Beagle and came back and changed biological science. Wallace, Bates and Darwin and their on-going inter-related histories made for an interesting tale.

Luckily for us we went, because some people left after the talk and we shifted over five seats in our row (third row back, stage left, even with the speaker podium) and wound up within feet of the speaker podium with an uninterrupted view.

We sat around, holding onto our super primo seats, waiting for the 6:30-7:30P talk by ... Al Gore. We were >< that close to him. The ballroom was packed. The bouncers at the door were checking to make sure all the people filing in to find seats had their conference badges showing. The room kept getting fuller and fuller until it was utterly packed and Gore took the stage, thanking everyone for the welcome, thanking the scientists in the audience (by name) who had helped him further his understanding of climate change, thanking the multitudes who were off in another room listening to his talk because they couldn't be seated in the ballroom.

Interesting to see him do his pitch, which we've all heard so much about. I've never seen An Inconvenient Truth, but had heard folks tit for tatting about it. Gore had new slides and a revamped talk, updated things to say about climate change. Turns out a slew of scientists at the meeting, including the Prez, who'd given the plenary the night before, had given him long and lengthy explanations about what was going on that he'd used as a basis for parts of his original talk, and this one.

I knew some folks I knew from elsewhere would be having kittens if they were listening to Gore talk, which made it all the more enjoyable.

Walked over, after Gore finished and left the building, to the Elephant & Castle and had a couple Guinness and steaktips in gravy w/ mashed for dinner.

Saturday 14 Feb 2009

Saturday was another full day of sessions.

From 5:-6:30P we went to the AAAS Awards Ceremony and Reception at the Fairmont and enjoyed delish food (lamb riblets, &c.) and wine after. Then on to the 6:30-7:30P plenary address. Planetary scientist Susan W. Kieffer gave Saturday's address: Celebrating the Earth: Its Past, Our Present, a Future? Kieffer had interesting things to say, but gave her lecture reading from her notes. STOP IT!

One of the things that becomes obvious during AAAS is the difference between having something interesting to say and having an interesting way to say it. Some sessions have talks that are just too mumble mumble boring while others are pepped up and interesting.

Stopped off to see Paul Sereno give his Family Science Day pitch in the exhibit hall on Saturday. He has amazing energy and a way of connecting to young people who come to listen to him talk about hunting down dinosaurs. Compare his stage presence with ... well, we won't go there. Suffice to say that some scientists really really really need media coaching to properly convey the excitement of the stuff they work on.

We returned Saturday night to Elephant & Castle for Valentine's Day dinner. Ah, the romance.

Sunday 15 Feb 2009

After another full day of sessions, Sunday's plenary was A Neanderthal Perspective on Human Origins by evolutionary geneticist Svante Pääbo. Interesting guy. Interesting talk.

We had Sunday dinner at the Fairmont because by this time it was snowing a bit and we had no clue which restaurants might be open on Sundays. We'd been stopping off at a coffee/sandwich place for a morning poppyseed bagel (split, toasted, with cream cheese) and coffee on our way over to the Hyatt and discovered Saturday and Sunday that "our" place was closed so we stopped off at a local small market that sold far-too-sweet-plastic-wrapped-coffee-rolls and coffee.

We didn't want to wander out in the cold and snow Sunday evening and find that the restaurants we might be thinking of going to were closed. Hotel it was. We stopped off in the bar/sushi/casual food venue because we weren't interested in what a hotel might think was a dining experience. The food arrived tepid. Too long under the heat lamps, perhaps. The service was slow. The food was over priced for what you got. The waitress mis-represented the beer she offered as an alternative after she told us they'd run out of the beer we wanted. (Gee, the beer she offered was $3/bottle more than what we'd ordered and she forgot to mention it?!??! Gee ... Odd.)

Other than that ...

Monday 16 Feb 2009

Monday was the wrap up of the conference with the last sessions ending at 12:30P. We'd asked for late checkout Sunday evening, and needed the extra time. We caught a cab to the Metra @ Union Station about 1:15. Ate sandwiches at the station while we waited for the express train that zipped us to Naperville in half an hour or so where Mom picked us up with the grandkids in the car -- even the teenager, who was off school because it was Presidents' Day.

Mom is in a bowling league and rather than spend hours there on Tuesday, when her team/league was playing, we went over to the bowling alley Monday evening so she could bowl three games in lieu, with the alley keeping her scores for the league play.

The teenager, his nibs, myself, the five-year-old and the three-year-old bowled in the alley to the right of Mom's. Our single game took as long as she took to bowl three. The two youngest in our set had to roll the ball with both hands down the alley (bumper guards up of course). We waited patiently each time to see if the ball would even reach the pins. The ball always did, although not at great speed.

The teenager beat me by a point. His nibs came in just a bit behind our scores. Not bad for a couple geezers who hadn't bowled in forever. (I think my last bowling set was about three decades ago.)

Tuesday 17 Feb 2009

Next day the teenager went to school and the geezers and Mom took the younger ones to the Brookfield Zoo for the day to see dolphins and pennipeds and orangutans and such. Came home in time for Mom to head off to her p/t job.

Wednesday 18 Feb 2009

Wednesday, the teenager stayed home from school to spend some quality time with her gparents. (Permission granted by Mom because the teenager's grades showed all As and Bs when checked online.)

Thursday 17 Feb 2009

We got up early in order to spend some time with the teenager before she left to catch the school bus at 7:15A. Three and a half hours later, a shuttle picked us up and drove us to O'Hare to catch our plane home.

A fine time was had by me, and I think by all. More complete notes re sessions and plenaries remain to be straightened out.


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Home again. Home again. Riggety jig.
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Ski runs at Mammoth Mountain, half hour or so before arrival at SFO.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Sal is off to bed and then off.
Catch you on the B-side.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009
35 Examples Of Beautiful City Photography
35 Examples Of Beautiful City Photography from Smashing Magazine.

Some are far better than others. Some are stunning.

Click through the photographer link for a given photo and find more photographs by the same person.

e.g. Giuseppe Finocchiaro's photo of Oia, Santorini.

[via Gerard Vlemmings at the Presurfer]

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Friday, December 26, 2008
Packing and The Mantra of Minimalism
Packing and The Mantra of Minimalism

An added bonus click for the PCV who wants to travel. Travel light, mi'jo. This woman shows you how. (Substitute manly things for the womanly things she has in her backpack and you're good to go.)

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Thursday, December 18, 2008
Acclaimed Colombian Institution Has 4,800 Books and 10 Legs
Acclaimed Colombian Institution Has 4,800 Books and 10 Legs [NYTimes article]

Great story of Alfa and Beto, the biblio burros, Luis Soriano, their keeper, and the mission they've devoted ten years' of weekends to.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Weird back-ness
So I'm back. We flew Air Tahiti Nui from Papeete to Los Angeles, leaving Tahiti at 10P Sunday and arriving LAX around 8:15A yesterday. Time difference only two hours, which is nice.

Checked in through immigration. Picked up our bag at the carousel and checked through Customs with our bag and carry-ons. Easy-peasy. Smoothy-oothy. Got to the Virgin America desk before 10A and saw that they had an SFO flight at 11A. Asked if they could shift us from our 2: something flight to the 11A: flight. The cheery staff said, sure, they'd put us on stand-by. Then they popped us to the top of the stand-by list because we'd joined their frequent flyer program before we flew out.

The flight was delayed because it was raining in San Francisco (which slows the landing pattern to about 1/2 of normal) and they weren't getting clearance to leave LAX until they had a chance to land at SFO. The plane carried a number of staff deadheading to SFO, but there was still room for us. Together. With a window seat for me.

I dozed off a bit because I hadn't slept well on the overnight flight from Tahiti and there was cloud cover and nothing to see. I woke up again and enjoyed the last half hour of the flight. Cloud cover had broken. I could see the beaches along Monterey Bay and the wooded hills climbing to the east. I took photos from the window of the sunshine on water,

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Beautiful day coming in. Even with the delays, we arrived at SFO two or three hours earlier than we would've.

Got home to a giant pile of mail inside the front door and a week-ago's Sunday paper lying outside. We can never quite figure how SFC figures out when your "away" start and stop dates start and stop. His nibs thought he'd stopped after Saturday morning's delivery, but no.

We puttered around. Cleared the stack of mail. Washed the laundry. Downloaded all the photos from the camera. Had ricotta-spinach ravioli tossed with butter, fresh garlic and Parmesan cheese for dinner. Tucked in.

His nibs was off to work relatively early today because it's been chill and road conditions are weird. He needed to get in to work for a meeting at a certain time and decided to take plenty of time.

We had hail downtown when we were coming in from the airport in the Super Shuttle yesterday afternoon. Snow down to 500-1000' this morning. Hwy 17 over from Santa Cruz has snow on it. Snow plows in Scotts Valley last night. Colder than we're used to.

... and I'm ... not allowed to eat. No solid food at all. No milk, if I want coffee. Only clear liquids, consistency of water. I don't think they mean tequila or vodka here. ... I guess I'll subsist on maté until tomorrow.

Tonight at seven I get to drink a liter of prep and tomorrow at five in the morning another liter, to clear out my innards because (yippee!) I check in for a colonoscopy at 9:30A tomorrow. His nibs needs to accompany me home and for the rest of the day I'm not allowed any sedatives or alcohol and I'm not allowed to operate a moving vehicle or heavy or dangerous machinery.

Maybe Thursday I'll really be "back" and we can get a Christmas tree and start freaking out that Christmas is JUST A WEEK AWAY!

Colonoscopy is no fun. I have to have one every five years, ever since my next older brother was diagnosed with colon cancer (which by then had spread to his liver) in 1998. So 1998. 2003. 2008. 2013. and so on ad infinitum or ad mors or whatever.

He died in June 2001 and I miss him. I see things I think he'd like, weird things [a glass block etched with a DNA pattern] [magnetic wall paint], interesting books, scientific paraphernalia.

The colonoscopy is just another reminder that he's not here. And why.

Quite the abrupt and bruising return from a short but warm and welcome vac, but there's only me to blame. I consciously scheduled the appointment for tomorrow, because they couldn't schedule it back when they'd intended because we had other things happening and I just want to get it over with as soon as I possibly can. Back yesterday. Today for fast and prep. Done tomorrow by noon. Just get the pall and the memories it dredges up over with and carry on.

Thursday. Thursday will be a much better day.

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Monday, December 15, 2008
Back ...
Over 1500 photos later ...

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Saturday, December 06, 2008
Back in a few
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Venice under five feet of water as the city suffers its worst floods in 22 years
Venice under five feet of water as the city suffers its worst floods in 22 years

I love Venice. I could spend some serious time there. I think it's a magical place.

When we got back from our one and only trip there (followed by a walking holiday poking through Palladio sites in the Veneto), I had a dream ... a nightmare.

In the dream, we had bought a palazzo in Venice and moved lock, stock and books to take up permanent residence. Knowing the dangers of putting heavy loads of books on upper stories of aging homes, I'd set up all my book shelves on the ground floor of the palazzo.

All this is backstory.

The dream opens with me leaning against a railing, looking across the canal to the palazzo that we had just moved all our worldly goods (and books) into and were making our home.

As I leaned against the railing, the rain began to fall and before you could say, "George Washington" (this was a dream after all), the waters start to rise and rise fast. I realized the waters will rise enough that everything on our ground floor will be flooded ...


I don't have time to run down the paths to the nearest bridge and across the bridge and back down the paths to our palazzo and get the books shifted in time to save them.

... so, Freud. What is the deep meaning of this nightmare?

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Thursday, November 13, 2008
Egyptian Lantern Slides from the Brooklyn Museum via flickr
Egyptian Lantern Slides - General Views & People - from the Brooklyn Museum plus lantern slides of Egyptian Places from the same source, flickr The Commons.

Head of Colossus of Ramses II, Thebes

The Web. What a wonder.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Off I go again.

This time to Baltimore and Bouchercon.

Have to be at the airport by 5A, which means up by 4A in order to get some espresso in my system.

Walked down the hill tonight for a gathering to talk about our neighborhood community center, Tel-Hi. Our friend Donna is the development director. She spends her days raising money for the center. Another friend, Gail, is on the board and spoke tonight and sent e-mails to people she knew on the invite list, saying you must come, will I see you there.

Met some nice people. Bumped into some old friends. The hosts had a Dali on their wall, a portrait of the wife at age maybe eight twelve with her mother. A definite Dali, but no melting watches or weirdnesses. Wonderful place filled with interesting stuff.

Wonderful place. Genuine people. Good cause.

We -- well, I -- missed the debate. We walked down the hill and over to the gathering and I could hear Obama's voice coming out of open windows as neighbors watched the debate we'd jettisoned in order to support a good cause. I'm sure I'll be able to pick up on what happened at the debate some time between now and when the next debate happens.

See you 'round some time after I get back. I get back late Monday. Give me at least Tuesday to veg out on the couch and restore my social equilibrium.

His nibs will be home for Fleet Week and the Blue Angels, but I'll miss all that. C'est la vie.

Baltimore here I come.

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Sunday, October 05, 2008
Late again, naturally.
Just realized when checking the program schedule for Bouchercon that although I (rightly) booked Oct 8 - 13 for the hotel -- and booked early enough this year to actually get in the convention hotel -- my frequent-flyer tickets are for the 9th and I'm arriving late afternoon, so I'll miss the first day. Don't know how that mixup happened.


Double drat because I'd already begun ratcheting up my "maybe I don't want to go after all" "who really will I know" misgivings and this almost completely derailed me.

I've recovered. I'll call the hotel and tell them I won't be there until the 9th.

But drat anyway.

Update: His nibs, being the sweet feller he is, called Delta and asked how much it would cost to change my tickets from Thursday 7A to Wednesday and they said, $100. So, his nibs, being the sweet feller he is, changed the tickets. Bless his heart. Plane leaves at 6A Wednesday and xfers through Atlanta, then on to Baltimore.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008
John Graham-Cumming: Countries younger than John McCain
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Found at Looney's -- Matt's video

Watch Matt do his silly dance around the world from Thimpu to Timbuktu to the Giant's Causeway to Rio.

Like Looney, I'd never seen this before, although it's one of those viral things that swept the Web three years back. Where was I? Obviously not where Matt was filming his clips.

Looney said this was a happy vid and it is, but it also made me tear up a bit. All those places. All those people. Every one linked by Matt Harding and his silly dance.

Update: I figured what the tearing up was about. Matt and his dance reminds me of the younger nib, who will be "away" until June 2010 -- dancing, like Matt, with people he meets along the way.

Update2: An earlier Where the Hell is Matt? and another.

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Monday, July 21, 2008
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Working on pics.

I promised the PCV that I'd get my favorite photos pulled together in a more timely manner than norm.

Our guide had backed up a bit when he saw our visitor headed our way, backed up just enough that he cleared the path over to the right that the elephants used to cross the dirt road. Our visitor came within a foot of the hood and veered off to the right.

Our South African companion in the front seat is deathly afraid of elephants. She was not at all amused as the beast got nearer and nearer and nearer.

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Friday, June 27, 2008
Back in a few
Monday, June 23, 2008
Zimbabwe ... Zambia. What other countries begin with Z?
Upcoming trip to Africa was to include South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. ...

The organizers just called to say (surprise!) the Zimbabwe leg has been canceled. We'll be going to Zambia instead. Organizers will pay for all Zambian visas &c. The visas we had for Zimbabwe won't be needed after all.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008
Lost in Translation the sequel
Lost in Translation

Seen parked near the Pyramids in Giza.
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Monday, March 31, 2008
What I didn't know about the rose red city of Petra
I knew Petra would be stunning. I'd seen pictures.

And probably hot.

I didn't know much else about it.

I do now. (Oh, for the day when I'll travel with my handy-dandy Web and find answers to my questions as they pop up instead of waiting until I get home to research.)

When I write up my notes with my pictures (all 130+ of them), I'll weave the research into what I saw and what I was told.

What surprised me most about Petra and what was totally unexpected was how stunning Petra would've been in its own right, without the caves and carvings. The setting is amazing. The sandstone is swirls of color. As a natural wonder, Petra would've been on the map.


Alight at the parking lot and walk a ways to the crack in the wall and enter al Siq. ... or ride a horse or grab a two-wheeled cart ...

As the way in is down, we were encouraged to ride the horse on the way back, if ride a horse was on the agenda, and it seemed it was, by golly. We were told we'd already paid for a horse ride and might as well take it. (Tip the horse handler $2 or 3 Jordanian dinars, but tip him at the end of your ride, if you don't want to be dropped off prematurely, we were also advised.)

How did someone ever find that crack in the wall in the days before Petra was "built"? No aerial reconnaissance to give you a heads-up that there might be something interesting if you walked down this narrow path. ... A curious, wandering someone must have headed down the path to see what there was to see.

Find the crack in the sandstone cliffs and walk down the path, through the narrow gorge with steep walls, through al Siq. These days the path is worn and crazy Bedouin drivers in horse-drawn carriages careen down the track, in a hurry to drop off their passengers and turn around and pick up more.


Forty-five years ago a flash flood trapped and drowned folk in this narrow gorge. Since then work has been done -- a dam blocks a side gorge and diverts the water -- to avoid a repeat. Not a cloud in the sky, though, so no worries.

Look up and see the cracks through the walls caused by earthquakes. Take pictures of the small carvings in the walls and then round a bend and there it is: the Khazneh, the Treasury, the first seen and most photographed/pictured building of Petra, carved into the sandstone walls many many moons ago. Worn after all these years, damaged by man and by earthquake. Still spectacular. Beautiful

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Walk further and you enter the Wadi Musa, the wide open area of Petra with more carved buildings and spaces, the marketplace, the amphitheatre, tombs, places to climb and, of course, opportunities to buy trinkets and postcards and water. Tea, sodas, even a buffet lunch are available to keep your strength up.

More pictures to follow. Yes, 130-plus.

Beautiful. What an amazing site to see.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008
Felucca on the Nile

So I asked him, why the Brazilian flag? (I have a little heart pull when I see the Brazilian flag for no reason except a five-to-seven-year-old's love of where she happened to be. ... It is a lovely flag, though, isn't it?)

Ordem e Progresso. The Auriverde. sigh

He answered (through a translator), "Why no questions about why there's no American flag flying?" and he had his young guy (the one who worried about unfurling sails and such) unfurl an American flag.

I explained the heart pull for the Brazilian flag and he said, "Someone who rode in my felucca gave it to me. I like to fly it."


More pics of him and his barefoot style of sailing later.


Feluccas are lovely under sail. These days it's not financial feasible to use feluccas for anything but tourist transport from the Aswan (or wherever) side of the Nile to whatever sight-seeing the tourist(s) want to see.

The feluccas are beautiful under sail. Really really divine.
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: views from the Hill

Bertold Brecht:   
Everything changes. You can make
A fresh start with your final breath.
But what has happened has happened. And the water
You once poured into the wine cannot be
Drained off again.

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