Thought for the Day

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V is for Vegas- #AtoZChallenge

V” is for Vegas! “Las Vegas” technically, but what the heck. I figure I can play a little fast and loose with the technicalities, right?

So, I actually made (most of) this post a couple of years ago. The last time I went to Vegas.  It was for a challenge using the word “dreamy”. But I figured, it never really changes much there. So, why not do it again. 🙂

Here goes…

I already posted one photo from my trip to Las Vegas, but it’s such a dreamy kind of place. I thought about it and came up with some more ideas.

I posted another one about an Elvis impersonator who was performing right outside my hotel. Lots of women thought Elvis was pretty ‘dreamy’. Then I posted some dreamy girls for the guys. 🙂

Las Vegas really is a dreamy kind of place. I think it’s one of those places that’s built on dreams. All kinds of dreams going on there. People go there dreaming to hit the jackpot and get rich. They go there hoping to hit it big and make a name for themselves as a singer or a dancer or chef or…

I love to hang out in old downtown. It’s not like the Strip (which is interesting in a different way), where things are spread out and isolated. Every casino has it’s own attractions and you pretty much stick to one since it’s a pain to move on to the next.

Downtown is different. Everything is close together. There’s lots to do (Mob Museum, Container Park, Neon Museum), and all kinds of things going on. Fremont Street is the hub of all the action. There are at least a dozen different casinos all within easy walking distance. It’s easy to hit one for drinks, another to eat, try the poker at one, blackjack at another…

Fremont Street is really pretty cool. They have a light show projected on a huge blocks-long overhead screen. You can go zip-lining right over the top of all the crowds. There are artists at work, lots of little shops along the street. They have all kinds of bands and performers scheduled to play on the various stages. And then there are all the unscheduled ‘performers’. People who just like to come out and play. 🙂

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U is for Underground City- #AtoZChallenge

U” Is for the underground city of Derinkuyu in Turkey. It’s only one of the most famous of them, there are quite a few others in the area (200+). They are very old. Derinkuyu is supposed to be at least 2000 years old. I was impressed with the amount of work it took to carve out the huge labyrinths of rooms, tunnels, wells, and even defensive falling stones. All underground. All done without electric lights, or power tools.

 

The people lived their lives down there. Their whole families, even their animals (sheep, goats, donkeys, chickens, etc). I kept wondering how much smaller than us they must have been. I barely made it through some of those tunnels, and was really glad to get to one of the larger spaces.

It’s hard to imagine how someone could spend so much of their lives below ground like that. No wind, no sun, no rain. I don’t think they lived like that all the time. Just for especially dangerous times. But it must have been pretty dangerous a lot of the time to make it worth all that effort, right?

T is for Travel- #AtoZChallenge

T” is for traveling. One of my all time favorite things! I love a good book, but I love it even more when I’m reading it in some new place, somewhere I’ve never been.

My last trip was a big one. I knew I wouldn’t be able to go anywhere for a while. I pretty much accept now that I won’t be able to go back to work for months, if not years. Until I start ‘earning a living’ again and have more than enough to just barely pay the bills by using up my savings, I won’t be going anywhere.

I did go to the big Travel Show in Dallas a couple of weeks ago. That was just to see what’s on the RADAR. Exploring what I can work on for my new travel writing and photography career.

I took a detour on the way home, stopped in Ennis and did the Bluebonnet Trail. The flowers were beautiful. Fields full of bluebonnets, indian paintbrush and other spring blooms.

I will be going to the TBEX in Huntsville AL next month. I’m really looking forward to that. I hope to make some contacts and improve my blogging. 🙂

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite travel quotes. I hope they inspire you, like they do me. Enjoy. 🙂

     

Flower of the Day: Azalea Bush

Here’s a post for Cee’s Flower of the Day: Azalea Bush. 🙂

S is for Spike- #AtoZChallenge

S” is for Spike. Today, I’m posting about the letter S for both the A to Z Challenge and the Daily Post. I love it when I can do double duty here. 😉

It’s easy to come up with S words, not so easy to come up with things to say about “spike”. Then I remembered those beautiful doors from my last vacation. Stone Town, Zanzibar has the most ornately carved doors. Many of them have spikes, “to keep out the elephants.”

 

R is for Re-Do- #AtoZChallenge

R” is for Re-Do. I don’t know how many of you all work at a job in which you’re constantly having to re-do everything you do.

In my profession, (merchant marine) it started fairly recently (1970’s). It started with only a bare minimum of requirements (RADAR and physical every 5 years).

I have heard that the medical profession requires some sort of recency requirements (tho I really have no idea what sorts of things doctors or nurses have to do to keep their licenses current)(any ideas)?

I’ve also heard the airline pilots have an even more stringent set of requirements they must satisfy to keep working.

But in the maritime profession, I am constantly amazed at how much they keep coming up with for us, how little of it is really useful or necessary, and how few people seem to have a problem with it.

Of course, all of those people who have an issue with it are people like me. People who actually have to DO the job. People who have been doing the job perfectly fine for decades WITHOUT any of the things that are required now. All of which are pretty much second nature after you’ve worked at sea for any amount of time. Our job is not exactly rocket science. 😉

For example, now we not only have to do (before we can start work) a few classes- about dozen for a mate working at sea), we have to re-do: RADAR/ARPA, physical yearly (if you have any one of dozens of common conditions), basic safety training, advanced fire fighting, CPR. Those are just the ones required by the US Coast Guard to keep your license.

AND, if you have not managed to work in one sector of the industry for the last 5 years, you will also have to re-do ‘training’ so that you can do that very same job again. For instance, if you have not worked on tankers in the last 5 years, you will have to re-do the class or find a ship so you can do a couple of transfers. Same goes for towing vessels. If you don’t have the sea time on them, you lose your ability to work on them until you re-do the ‘training’.

Same now goes for dynamic positioning (DP)! Either you manage to keep working through this horrible downturn, OR, you must somehow cough up $5000 grand so you can re-do that training!

You will ALSO need: HUET, safe-gulf, rig pass, SEMS, marine debris, blood born pathogens, and many other COMPANY required re-training every couple of years if you want to work in the Gulf of Mexico (or for any oil company).

It’s not like anything has changed really. I’ve been taking fire fighting since 1978. The ONLY thing new in that class is that they’re now calling a grease fire a ‘class k’ fire. It’s still the exact same fire, you fight it the exact same way. Everything is exactly the same except the name. Things don’t change much (or at all) in most of the classes we’re now forced to take.

Today, I’ve been waiting to get a chance to re-do my tankerman person-in-charge (PIC). I worked on tankers for almost 13 years. Since I have been doing other things for the last 5, I am required to re-do the training before I can get my license back (thank goodness I put it into continuity status or there would be many more hoops to jump through)!

I could either spend about $5000 to re-do the week long course, or get on board a vessel to do 2 transfers. So, tomorrow I am getting some help to do that. I will join a vessel in Houston to participate in the cargo operations. Catch up on anything new since I’ve last done this job. Hopefully I will get a letter for the Coast Guard that will allow me to get back my PIC so I can find some work! 🙂

I’m thankful that some people are willing to help, especially since I can’t afford to re-do the class!

Q is for Quiz- #AtoZChallenge

Q” is for Quiz. I was having a pretty hard time coming up with something to write about for the letter “Q”. It was either going to be QMEDQ4000, question, quagmire (Trump promised to drain the swamp, but it’s turning into an even worse quagmire), or quiz.

Quiz it is.

I love this little quiz. It’s the same one I keep as a sticky as the first post on my home page. It’s put out by the Advocates for Self Government as the “World’s Smallest Political Quiz”.

As you can tell from my tagline (she sails the seven seas in search of freedom) and my posts the last couple of days, I’m into politics. 😉

I tried to copy and paste it onto the page so you can take it right here. It didn’t quite work. Close enough if you want to try it tho. Just choose wether you agree, disagree, or you’re not sure on each question. The 1st button is always “agree, middle is “maybe” and last is “disagree”. When you finish you can click on ‘get your results’ and it will take you to the actual quiz where you can get your score.

(I score at the top as a Libertarian.)

I’m really curious as to how many are interested in this sort of stuff, and especially where people score. If you take the quiz, please comment and let me know your thoughts and if you want to share, let me know where you score on it. 🙂

Personal Issues
Agree
Maybe
Disagree
Government should not censor speech, press, media, or internet.
Military service should be voluntary. There should be no draft.
There should be no laws regarding sex for consenting adults.
Repeal laws prohibiting adult possession and use of drugs.
There should be no National ID card.
Economic Issues
Agree
Maybe
Disagree
End “corporate welfare.” No government handouts to business.
End government barriers to international free trade.
Let people control their own retirement; privatize Social Security.
Replace government welfare with private charity.
Cut taxes and government spending by 50% or more.
Score ButtonReset Button
“The Quiz has gained respect as a valid measure of a person’s political leanings.”
– The Washington Post“The World’s Smallest Political Quiz stands ready to help you determine your political identity. Quick and relatively painless.”
– USA Today
“The World’s Smallest Political Quiz is savvy and willing to tell you the truth.”
– YAHOO! Magazine“Give this quiz a try. It’s fun, and who knows, you may be surprised at what you find.”
– Politics on the Net by Bill Mann
 Contents copyrighted © The Advocates for Self-Government, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization.

Maritime Monday for April 17th 2017: Big White Cloud

In between trying to keep up with the #AtoZChallenge, I still managed to read the weekly post from Monkey Fist. There’s always such interesting stuff in there. My favorite articles this week (other than the stuff on John Cale- who has long been a favorite of mine) was the stuff about the weather. I also really liked the photographs. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did…

Since leaving the band in 1968, he has released approximately 30 albums. Of his solo work, Cale is perhaps best known for his album Paris 1919, and his cover version of Leonard Cohen‘s “Hallelujah“. Cale was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Velvet Underground in 1996, and […]

Source: Maritime Monday for April 17th, 2017: Big White Cloud – gCaptain

P is for Paranoid- #AtoZChallenge

“P” is for ‘paranoid’.

adjective

1. of, characterized by, or resembling paranoia

2. (informalexhibiting undue suspicion, fear of persecution, etc

I’ve been called paranoid a couple of times in my life. I do have to admit, I’ve never been an optimist. I worry about all kinds of things (probably un-necessarily). I worry will I ever be able to find decent work ever again. I worry about how will I be able to pay the bills when my savings runs out. I worry about how we are losing our freedom here in the USA and will we ever wake up and start clawing it back from the power hungry bastards we elect that keep stealing it from us.

But is it really paranoid if they are out to get you?

I must have some sort of mental issue. I mean, I’m definitely not ‘normal’. ‘Normal’ people just ignore all the things that bother me so much. They would pass right by that mass of cameras and not even notice. And if they did happen to notice (like one fell on their head or something), they would only comment (while they bleed all over the place from the injuries it just gave them) ‘it’s all just for our own good’.

My stepmother used to tell me “don’t worry, the universe is in divine order”. I could see that for her, it sure seemed to be. She was very pretty, confident, talented, smart. She made a (very good) living as a topless bartender for decades. She had a beautiful house right on the beach paid for (by ex-husband) and really had nothing to worry about at all. She could (and did) live her life exactly as she pleased.

My best friend tells me all the time, “chill out, don’t worry so much”.  She is retired, with a decent pension, social security, a couple of other checks coming in every month, with a paid for house and although she  has some health issues, she really doesn’t have any concerns either.

For me, whenever I go out anywhere now, I see the red-light cameras everywhere and they drive me crazy! WHY does “our government” feel that they need to spy on us? What gives those people who actually do those jobs the idea that they have any sort of right to do it? I don’t even want to get into the fact that there are so many “laws” on the books that we are ALL guilty of breaking at least a couple every day (no matter how law abiding you may think you are)!

Try reading “Three Felonies a Day“. Take a quick look at the hundreds of thousands of “laws” on the books (last count 178, 277 pages at the end of 2015)! This for a supposedly “free country”. 😦

I go absolutely crazy in the airports over the TSA BS. It’s all I can do to keep my mouth shut. I’m grumbling through the whole process, from the minute I see the line start. It completely ruins the trip for me. WHO in the hell has decided that we must give up our INALIENABLE RIGHTS in order to travel? WHY have so many people just simply accepted their ridiculous excuses that “it’s only for our own safety”?

I have decided I must be some kind of mutant. I mean, I’m in such a tiny minority that it sure seems that way. Am I paranoid? Yeah, I do feel like they’re watching me all the time. The fact is that they ARE. They ARE watching ALL of us all the time! Every single email, phone call, website you visit, everywhere you go, every dollar you spend. Even your own house, phone, TV and appliances ARE spying on you now!

Poor Ed Snowden. He tried to wake us up. I consider him a hero for what he tried to do for us all. He gave up a lot to get the information out there. To put a stop to “our government’s” serious abuse of power. To wake us up so that we could take back our freedoms before it was too late forever.

I already knew most of what he said. It was all dribbled out in the news over the decades. But nobody paid any attention. Everyone still ignores it all. It’s just business as usual. Most people just go right on ignoring all the continuous everyday violations and don’t seem to give a damn at all. When I bring it up, the only thing they have to say is: “but it’s all for our own good”. WOW.

What in the world is “good” about living like that? Like George Orwell’s 1984, but worse?

WHY? That is what I want to know. No, not why they’re doing it. I already know that. It’s because they’re all a bunch of power hungry, greedy bastards! What I want to know is WHY does the general public put up with it? WHY are so few people concerned about it? WHY do so few people understand the real threats to THEM that this represents?

Paranoid? Yeah, I guess I am. But that doesn’t mean they’re not out to ‘get’ me. Or you!

O is for Oceanics- #AtoZChallenge

O” is for the Oceanics. That was such a fantastic experience! I’m so thankful I had that opportunity at such a young age. It really did change my life.

The Oceanics was a really special school. It was run by Chick and Stephanie Gallagher out of their apartment in New York City. They somehow managed to round up small groups of students and a few teachers and send them off on round the world adventures aboard various chartered square-rigged sailing ships.

I see a few organizations today trying to do something similar. Not the same tho, not gone long enough, not the right kind of ships, not the same atmosphere. I’m sure they’re still great experiences for anyone who is able to attend. I don’t think there’s any better way to create a confident, competent, creative, cooperative human being than the way they did it at the Oceanics.

Spending months at sea working together to sail the ship from point A to point B. Learning every aspect of how to do the job properly, we earned a sense of a job well done and self esteem. It takes a lot of teamwork and trust in each other to sail a square-rigged ship. Running up the ratlines to furl the sails in a squall with the wind howling and the ship rolling needs to be an immediate response with all hands on deck. Ask the worlds navies why they still use sailing ships as training vessels, they understand.

The ship was just one aspect of the Oceanics. Captain Jespersen was our sail training master. We spent time with him every day learning the names and functions of all the rigging and sails aboard. We sailed the ship from Pireaus, Greece across the Atlantic to Martinique. We spent our time aboard in school, taking regular classes in math, science (oceanology), world history, cultural studies, local languages (Greek, Spanish, Russian), literature, etc. We also learned seamanship, navigation, and how to take care of the ship.

We all stood watch when we weren’t in class. The traditional 4 hours on, 8 hours off. Standing lookout and tending the helm. In between, we kept busy sanding, varnishing, washing the decks, painting, tending to the rigging, splicing line, even helping the cook peel potatoes.

My favorite time aboard was standing lookout on the bow. Watching the dolphins play in the bow waves on a bright sunny day. Seeing flying fish popping out of a wave, to spread their ‘wings’ to fly across the waves before dropping back into the water. Picking out the constellations in a starry, starry night sky. 🙂

I can’t express how truly awesome it was.

And then, when we got to port we could go ashore once we were off watch. Or we might all go ashore together for an adventure. We spent a few days on the Greek island of Agistri hunting octopus for dinner and playing soccer on the beach. I spent a few days with a family in La Gomera (Canary Islands) improving my Spanish and learning more about the locals.

We sailed the schooner Ariadne across the Atlantic to Martinique. On arrival we had a well deserved break on the beach. A few of us hitched our way up the island to hike up Mt Pele. I still remember the deliciously sweet pineapples we had to snack on.

Ariadne

Ariadne

We left the Ariadne in Martinique to fly into Caracas and our South American adventure began. We had been studying Spanish since we left Italy. Now was the time to put it to use. Our plan was to travel from Venezuela to Bolivia, we would figure out the details along the way. We got into some really cool, out of the way places. 🙂

Plenty of the places we wound up had never seen anyone like us before. My red hair stood out like a torch, the locals would surround me and ask to feel it. Young Joe with his bright blond hair was extremely popular with the ladies. People didn’t know what to make of us.

We might show up in a group of 6-10 students (ages 14-21) and 1-2 teachers trying to keep us focused on our studies but also allowing us to get out on our own. We had lots of independent projects. I did one on comparing fairy tales in different cultures and another one identifying plankton I caught in a net on the way over to the Caribbean while we were still on the ship.

We made our way from Caracas through Venezuela to Cucuta, Columbia. From Bogata we headed to Ecuador. Quito, Otavalos, and Guyaquil. We took a boat out to the Galapagos to check out the wildlife and swim with the sea lions and iguanas. We made our way to the jungle and the rivers feeding the Amazon. We traveled down the Rio Napo to visit the indigenous shamans and learn about the plants and animals, (I had to try the ayuhuasca).

In Peru we made our way from Lima to Cuzco (fantastic) and took the train to Macchu Picchu. That was back before it was overrun by tourists. We stayed at the Banos (hot springs) alongside the river and soaked in the hot springs at night after hiking back down the mountain. Another experience I’ll never forget. That place was magical, I could feel it.

We made our way across Lake Titicaca to La Paz, Bolivia to finish up the semester. We were all sad to leave. I didn’t want to go home.

I returned to meet the Ariadne in Martinique a month later. I had another semester to finish high school. We sailed the Ariadne from Martinique to her home port in Hamburg, Germany. Our crossing was fine sailing. We even stopped for a swim in the mid-Atlantic ocean. 🙂

I was sent ahead with a small group to prepare our next vessel in Denmark. The Irish brigantine “Phoenix” was our home for the rest of our voyage. We spent months sailing around the Baltic, around the top of Denmark, to Sweden, Finland, and even spent a couple of weeks exploring the USSR from Leningrad (St Petersburg).

Our graduation ceremony was on the pier side in Copenhagen.  After another semester of overseas adventures at sea and ashore. It got in my blood and I’m sure I’ll never get over it.

I sure wish I had a better camera back then. Take a look here for some photos collected by Brian who was along for the trip with me and Tom. (who met me in Nicaragua). You can see me in a couple of the photos (in the yellow foul weather jacket by the cannon). 😉

N is for New Orleans- #AtoZChallenge

51b8d-n

“N” is for New Orleans, a city like no other. It’s one of my all time favorite places to visit. I first started going to New Orleans back in 1978-79.

I was in the Ocean Marine Technology Program at Brazosport College. It was a 2 year program where I would be able to earn my AB and QMED certificates from the Coast Guard. One of the things we had to do was to take fire-fighting training. We also had to take a ‘Spring Cruise”. We combined them and took a couple of boats up to Delgado Community College in New Orleans to take their fire-fighting course.

That’s me, 2nd from left, back row

I was 17 at the time and the youngest in class. We had a nice and easy trip up, the weather was fine and we all got to practice our celestial navigation skills. We all looked forward to seeing New Orleans and we were not disappointed. We all had a blast and will always remember getting underway bright and early after a late night out on Bourbon Street. 😉

I used to go home to Florida to visit family a couple of times a year and always stopped in New Orleans if I could. I liked to hang around the French Quarter and recharge my batteries for a day. Maybe longer if I met up with some ‘cool’ people. 😉

Years later, when I got older and had to slow down on the partying, I started to enjoy more of the city than Bourbon Street. I’ve gone for conferencesworkshops and training, and layovers for traveling to and from work offshore. I always try to spend a little extra time just to relax and enjoy the city.

It’s so easy. New Orleans has it’s own special vibe. They say it’s got “soul”. Yeah, I agree. It feels sultry, hot and humid most of the time. It almost oozes history. You can see it in the architecture all over the French Quarter. It smells delicious. Chicory coffee, beignets, seafood gumbo, salty oysters, and boozy concoctions around Bourbon Street.

The food is amazing! Classic French, Creole, Cajun and all combinations thereof. Soul food, muffaletas, po-boys, fresh seafood, fine steaks, you can get all that and more. Some of the best cooks in the world call New Orleans home.

New Orleans is a city of music. Jazz, Cajun, Creole, Rock, Soul, Blues, it’s all there. All over the place. I love wandering around the French Quarter, finding musicians playing out in the streets. You can almost always find some around Jackson Square or Royal Street. Then there are the second line parades. It’s always fun to join in the party. Where else can you get that?

New Orleans has so many parades, parties and festivals. I love it! I wonder if I would ever get anything done if I actually lived there? 😉

M is for Monkey Bread- #AtoZChallenge

M” is for Monkey Bread! Yummmmmm!!

I tried this recipe last week. I had to make some adjustments since I didn’t have exactly what they called for. Also, since I am only cooking for myself now, I didn’t want to overload the place and wind up throwing most of it away. So, to start with, I cut their recipe in half. I only used 1 can of (Kroger brand) biscuits, and halved everything else except the walnuts and raisins (I like both of those things). 😉

Ingredients

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury™ Grands!™ Flaky Layers refrigerated Original biscuits
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
1/2 cup raisins, if desired
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

Steps

  •  1 Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
  • 2 Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts and raisins among the biscuit pieces.
  • 3 In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
  • 4 Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.
I didn’t have a bundt pan (fluted tube pan), so I just used a round cake pan. It was just big enough to fit with the recipe cut in half. Mine may not look as good as theirs, but it still tasted wonderful and it made the whole house smell delicious for days. 🙂

L is for Lion- #AtoZChallenge

“L” is for Lion. I was lucky to be able to see some of these amazing animals in the wild. I went on a photography safari with Great Escape Publishing (GEP) in November. We spent a week exploring Northwest Tanzania. We saw lots of lions and their cubs. I could have spent hours watching them, but we had to move on. So much more to see.

  

K is for Kestrel- #AtoZChallenge

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“K” is for Kestrel. No, not the bird, but the dive boat I used to work on for CalDive.

My captain took that picture (for some reason, I can’t figure out how to get all my photos onto this computer). Check out his website, he has more cool ship pictures. 🙂

I only worked on the Kestrel for a short time. I was hired on for a job as Chief Mate, but when I actually got there, the company informed me that I would instead be sailing as Second Mate. Who knew for how long?

Of course I was not happy with that situation and made plans to take another job. I only needed 6 more weeks of sea time as Chief Mate before I could apply for my Master Mariners license.

Luckily, I was able to get those 6 weeks on board the Kestrel after all. 🙂

It was an ‘interesting’ job. And old ship, but a good crew kept her going. Too bad the last I heard she was sold for scrap. 😦

J is for Java- #AtoZChallenge

J” is for Java. One of the main islands of the Indonesian archipelago. I love to explore and Indonesia is an incredible place for that. 🙂

I usually go to Bali, but Java is the next island over to the West. It’s very easy to get there from Bali. You can take a quick flight, or take a ferry over. I was on vacation when I went (and so short on time), so I decided to fly over to Yogyakarta. It turned out to be an excellent choice and I only wish I had more time to spend there.

There are a lot of things I would love to explore on the island of Java. So many things I just didn’t have the time to do. I’d love to see the sights of Jakarta and especially check out the harbor. I must definitely find a guide this time so I can communicate with the sailors. I am still very interested in their beautiful Pinisi schooners. 🙂

If I ever get to go again, I’d like to hike up Mt Bromo, and catch the sunrise. Cool off at the Hill Stations and hike the rice paddies. Cruise the Green Canyon. Watch the Shadow Puppet shows and a few troupes of traditional dancers. Wander through the markets, investigating all the different things on offer than what we see at home.

One of those things I did manage to see was the ancient Buddhist temple of Borobudur. It’s long been on my bucket list. 😉 I’ve always loved to explore. I love history, old buildings, ancient civilizations, different religions. Borobudur was a combination of all of those things. It is also a world heritage site (along with the nearby Hindu site of Prambanan– which I also got to visit on this trip). 🙂

Prambanan temples Java Indonesia

I is for Istanbul- #AtoZChallenge

“I” is for Istanbul. Turkey. I was able to take a nice long stop there on the way to my photography safari last November. I’m so glad I did! Here’s a recap of my first day…

Istanbul! What an exciting city! I hear the seagulls cry, the ships distant whistle, the calls of the street vendors selling roasted chestnuts and corn on the cob. I smell the sea air mixed with cumin, coriander, cinnamon and apples.

The sense of history here is intoxicating. The locals are used to it, but it amazes me to walk along the hippodrome past the Spiral Column sunk almost 10 feet down into the ground. The ground level of 2000 years ago.

I spent yesterday soaking up the history of this place. I started out practically next door to my hotel. Walking up the street to the Arasta Market and right next door to the Mosaic Museum.

Again, the mosaics were at ground level from 2000 years ago, so we walked along a platform to see them on the ground. Some smaller ones were mounted on the walls where we could see them close up. There were good explanations in English (and other languages).

Outside the Mosaic Museum is the Blue Mosque. Just across the street is the Islamic Arts museum. Pass by the construction in front of the entrance door and climb the stairs. Make your way around dozens of small galleries showcasing various ancient civilizations with an Islamic focus.

I was most impressed with the books (Qu’rans mostly). They were absolutely gorgeous! The fine, delicate decorations, the flowing script, the golden ink. The information cards listed the calligraphers (as they should), their work was simply stunning!

From there, cross over behind the Aya Sofia (museum) to find the Carpet Museum. This one was not included on the Museum Pass (85 TL for 5 days). It cost 9 TL. There were 3 galleries to look at. The carpets were displayed very nicely, but except for the 2nd gallery they were very short on information.

Outside the Carpet Museum is the main gate into Topkapi Palace. I managed to look at the Aya Irini (another old Byzantine church), and the Archaeology Museum before being chased out at closing time (5 pm).

The church is old and empty, you’re not allowed to go upstairs and there’s netting to keep the pigeon shit and feathers from falling on you. I would skip it if I was pressed for time. The Archaeology Museum is another story. It was very impressive!

There is a whole forest of ancient tombstones, columns, and statues outside. There are at least 3 different buildings to explore. The first one I looked at had a huge selection of tombstones and sarcophagi. It was very impressive. The detail work was amazing. Some of those things were huge! I wondered how many people did they put in there?

There is another building full of ceramics. It had a domed ceiling, surrounded by stained glass windows, and tile on the walls- some of them decorated with gold paint. How beautiful!

Each room showed the different styles of ceramic from different time periods and civilizations. Some of it was fairly crude work, some of it was extremely fine and delicate. I loved the beautiful swirling patterns of blue and white.

The last building I was able to explore was under construction. I had to walk through a long passage covered in white plastic. The actual museum started out with life sized marble statues of the gods. Artemis, Apollo and more.

They were setting up an exhibit with TV screens, ‘Are We Human’. It looked very interesting. I saw something about 2000 years of history in Aleppo, showing the latest destruction. I would have liked more time to try to figure out what was going on. There was something else about oil- ‘leave it in the ground’- which I really wanted to learn more about, but I was running out of time.

Upstairs, Istanbul through the Ages was a very thorough timeline of artifacts found nearby and more history of the people who lived around this area and Turkey. I was only halfway through the second floor when a guard told me it was time to leave (at only 20 til 5).

H is for Hadzabe- #AtoZChallenge

H” is for the ‘Hadzabe’, an African tribe of friendly people who have chosen to retain their traditional lifestyle. On a photography safari with Great Escape Publishing (GEP) last November, I was able to spend the day learning about how they managed to survive in today’s world.

A very early morning wakeup brought our group of photographers to spend the day with a couple of the traditional tribes of the area. First the Hadzabe, the hunters, next the Datogas, the blacksmiths. We had to meet the Hadzabe very early for a special treat, we would go on a hunt with their men!

#tribe of #Hadzabe #men

We left the beautiful Lake Eyasi Safari Lodge at 0545 and drove about 45 minutes to the Hadzabe camp. They still live a nomadic life, so we met them at one of their temporary camps. They had built scattered domed huts out of thin, flexible branches tied together in addition to their ‘rooms’ in a rocky outcrop atop a high hill.

#traditional #Hadzabe #hut made from flexible branches

When we arrived, we met the chief and through our interpreter, Joseph, we got an explanation of the basics of their lifestyle. The men brought us up to a large overhang of the rock where they had a fire going. They explained the different types of arrows they used for hunting (some were poisonous).

A couple of them showed us how they started a fire (no, not with a Bic lighter), the old fashioned way of twisting a stick until it gets hot enough to light the tinder. The Hadzabe men used the spark to light their pipes for a good long toke. A few of our troop tried it too- (lighting the fire, not smoking the weed)- but only one succeeded (just barely). It looked a lot harder when our group tried to do it. The Hadzabe made it look so easy.

starting the #fire

Similar to the Maasai, they were nomadic. But the Hadzabe were hunters, not herders. The chief also had more than 1 wife. The men spent their days hunting and preparing to hunt. They made their bows and arrows, sharpened their knives, kept the fire going, and smoked a lot of weed while they were at it. They offered some to us, but nobody was brave enough to accept.

After the demonstration, we left with the men on their daily hunt. I followed along for about 20 minutes, up and down the rocky hillsides, surrounded by thorny plants in the hot sun. The hunters were already so far ahead of me I couldn’t see what good it was doing to try to keep up with them. I was rushing- huffing and puffing- and not able to really pay attention to my surroundings and thought better about continuing on.

#Hadzabe #African #tribesmen going #hunting with #bows and arrows

I turned around and went back to camp. Joseph escorted me and a couple of others who also wanted to return, just to make sure we made it back safely.

Joseph brought us back to camp, introduced us to the women and then returned to the hunt.

#Hadzabe #woman and her #child

Like the Maasai women, the Hadzabe women stay in camp and tend to the household chores. They take care of the children, do whatever needs doing around the camp, and make items for trade. I watched as all the women and children sat together creating beautiful beadwork items (which they later showed our group- just in case anyone wanted to buy).

#Hadzabe #tribal #beadwork

It took a couple of hours for the men to return to camp- along with our group who stuck it out with them. Sorry to say, they didn’t catch anything. They’ll have to try again later. In preparation for heading out again, they practiced with their bow and arrows and a target stump a couple hundred feet down the slope. We watched as all the men (even the young boys) took their shots at the stump. They even offered to teach us how to do it.

#Hadzabe #tribesmen practice #target #shooting with #bows and #arrows

A couple of our group decided to take them up on it and took a couple of shots at the stump. No one managed to hit the target. I tried to pull the string of one of the small boys’ bow. No, I couldn’t pull it even halfway back. We all had fun, the Hadzabe had a good laugh at how awful we were.

we get to practice #target #shooting with #Hadzabe #bows and #arrows

Before we left, the tribe got together and gave us a farewell present. They put on a dance show for us and even invited us into the dance. It was a fun ending to our visit.

G is for Galveston- #AtoZChallenge

G” is for Galveston. It’s the closest city of any size to me. I consider the Houston/Galveston/Freeport area my stomping grounds now a days.

When I first moved to Texas (almost 40 years ago), I used to really enjoy just wandering around. I moved here to go to college, so I had a bunch of friends I met in class to hang out with. We were all in the Ocean Marine Technology program (except a couple of outlier art students). So we all had an interest in boats.

We used to go up to Galveston all the time. For SCUBA class, for RADAR class, to the US Coast Guard office there. We always used to enjoy trying out new bars and restaurants on the way home.

I don’t get around anywhere near as much as I used to. Last time I went up to Galveston was with those 2 old artist friends from school. 🙂 We wanted to check out the art galleries and take a look around the Strand.

We found a couple of really neat artists, had a nice lunch, checked out all the interesting shops on the Strand, and avoided spending a fortune on some of the really cool nautical ‘junk’ I saw (or even more beautiful art- of which I already have a house full of).

Funny, but with all the changes around here, Galveston and especially the Strand still seems pretty much the same as it was when I first saw it.

Rainy Afternoon

Oh boy! I was at work this morning up in Houston. We were doing some training exercises when we heard the rain start. That was around noon.

I left in the rain at about 3:00 PM and drove all the way home (about 70 miles) in the rain. I could hardly see in some spots. It’s after 4 now, still raining, thundering, lightning and no signs of slowing down.

The weather report says it will be over by 9 tonight. It’s already cooled off quite a bit and I’m enjoying that. 🙂