01 October 2010

I'll Fly Away

So...I know.

It's been a bit.  Family friends lost their house in a fire started by a stray burn barrel ember.  Luckily, they happened to be at Sunday night Bible study.  Sadness.

I've flown across the country and back.  We buried my great-uncle at Arlington.  Tears.

In the midst of the funeral preparations, my cousin miscarried ten weeks into her pregnancy.  Either something was wrong with the fetus or the stress of travelling so far.  More tears.

Then, a longtime family friend passed away.  His memorial is tomorrow afternoon.  Deaths happen in threes, so the saying is stated.

I've been Tweeting so no one thinks I've dropped off the face of the planet.  I've been cleaning a lot and catching up on my Netflix instant queue.

As Rish has reminded me, letting it heal.  I will get around to catching up on your blogs.  How is 20SB??  I'm surprised I still have followers!

Congrats to my Sara Nipples, as she wont the 20SB October Featured Blogger of the Month.

***

The regular broadcast will be restored soon.

23 September 2010

Pure Insanity, Las Vegas

I checked my followers on Twitter the other day, and it seems the network is not sending me any more emails when someone new follows me.  Lo and behold, my first celebrity:


The first and last time I conversed with Heidi Montag was in Vegas during my sojourn in February.  This was post-crazy surgery, pre-kicking Spencer Pratt to the curb.  She was under the heavy influence of something (possibly vodka but more likely pharmaceuticals) and he was carrying around a 'spirit stone.'

Pure Nightclub, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

A friend of a friend who lives in Vegas was able to finagle VIP room access to Pure the night Speidi happened to be 'appearing' at the club.  Security cautioned us any patron found to be snapping photos would have their device confiscated.  Pratt kept on about spiritual energy and focusing on rocks, Montag could hardly speak through all the plastic.  I think a close-up flash off the shine would have blinded us all.

This was the last time they were seen in public together, before her breakdown and their eventual 'break up.'  Are they even divorced yet?  Perhaps she's stalking me through Twitter now.  Heidi totally wants to be up on this shizouka.

22 September 2010

Mamma Mia

Everyone is messed up one way or another.  Not a single person has not been damaged in some way.  Of course, some more than others.  It's the lot we draw in life, the cross to bear.

My upbringing, I can say unabashedly, was really amazing.  I was fortunate enough to have two loving parents who always provided more than I could ever want.  I visited my extended family on both sides often.  Silver spoon and all that jazz.

Blah blah blah.  My mother has forever scarred me.*  Sigmund Freud would have a field day with this dissertation.

1. I nearly died in childbirth. (Birth)
True, this isn't necessarily HER fault, but I was born blue from lack of oxygen with the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck and an APGAR score of 2 out of 5 after one minute.  For all the students at home, a 40 per cent.  Also, the gestational diabetes made me a super huge baby, 4.5 kg (ten lbs) and 22 inches long.  I barely fit in the incubator. 

I'm sure this is why I have a phobia of tight objects wrapped my neck and the need to always fit into small spaces.

2. She kicked me down the stairs.  Twice. (Age 13)
Okay, so I had told my little sister she was adopted.  My mother found her sobbing, packing her room because she had to move.  Therefore, mother called me to the second floor.  I slowly ascended the stairs while she was screaming unintelligible babble (to my ears).  When I hit the second-to-last stair, her anger reached a crescendo in which she pushed me down the stairs with her foot.  Face splotchy, she asked me to climb the stairs again before repeating the process.

I never told any sibling they were adopted again.

3. She threw the dog food and water dish at me. (Age 17)
I'm not sure what I did to cause this to happen, but I remember being in the kitchen when kibbles and water exploded everywhere.  With bits clattering across the tile, she commanded I clean the mess.

I probably wasn't looking after the dogs very well, but from then on I checked the dog dishes daily.

4. Burns on my neck. (Age 15)
Between haircuts, the hairline on my neck tends to become a little shaggy.  I usually had a brother or an older cousin straighten out the line every two weeks.  On this particular Sunday evening, there was no one available so I asked my mother. (These days I have perfected the hairline myself with two mirrors and a straight razor.)  For some reason, she thought an electric razor would be a better choice then a sideburns trimmer.

     a. She wasn't experienced with electric razors.
     b. She didn't hold it flush with the skin.
     c. She berated me, calling me a 'wienie' for squirming.
     d. She drew blood.

My neck was torn up so bad, I couldn't attend school the next day.  For the pain.  And to escape ridicule.

5. The Aeroporto Leonardo da Vinci di Fiumicino incident (Age 4)
Possibly the most traumatic event inflicted on me by my mother.  We had a short holiday in Italia which ended in Roma and were flying home to Barcelona.  My father had a business emergency and left a day before the rest of the family. With six children under the age of ten, including a newborn baby, my mother literally had her hands full.  Alitalia was dealing with flights and cancellations and therefore there were some gate changes.

See where this is heading?

This is partially my fault because I had a new Gameboy with awesome headphones.  I was toggling between Super Mario Land and Castlevania before I realized I was surrounded by unfamiliar faces.  Surreal colors began their journey across my eyes as my legs wandered aimlessly, hoping to run into my family.

Then, the Polizia di Stato with AK-47s surrounded me.  My four-year-old brain crapped its pants, I knew I would be in deep trouble for this infraction.  Turns out, the poliziotti (policemen) were alerted by the captain of my family's flight when my mother noticed after takeoff there was one seat unoccupied.  My father immediately flew to Roma to collect me from the holding room four hours later. 

The poliziotti told him I was a delightful child after they convinced me they were not deporting me to Israel.  Which is where my mother convinced me that bad children were sent to fight in the Holy Land.

It's so awesome I'm a well-adjusted individual today.  /sarcasm

*I love my mother dearly and this is in jest.  We laugh about all these occurrences often.

19 September 2010

Some Kind of Substance

It's been a gorgeous past week and a half.  Great weather for hanging outside, hunting and fishing and hosting a yard sale.  Not being inside languishing from the lack of vitamin D has felt good for my skin and my soul.  Alaskan weather has blessed up with an Indian summer this year, probably to make up for the rain with all the raining and rain with the sheets of rain and buckets and driving and cats and dogs rain.

This isn't an excuse, WEATHER, I still want a refund for that summer.

Our farm has experienced its first frost of the year already.  The leaves are golden and the high cranberry bushes are a brilliant red. The moose are in the rut season and I was twice charged by a mother cow moose with a calf tonight.  My father was throwing rocks because it was eating the crab apple trees.  I just wanted a photo with my iPhone.



***

Apparently I'm funny or some shizouka because Geo Jeffrey of The Far Too Important Blog tagged me with an 'I Blog With Substance' award for his comedy category.


This is my first award.  I feel as nervous as a heretic tied to a stake.  What do I do??  Who do I thank?  There was some talk of blogging philosophy and lofty words that we probably won't understand together, so I'll just share a few stories about substance:

***

I was about fifteen and hitting my stride as a professional masturbator.  My favorite time was after school but before my parents arrived home.  I would lock myself in my room for some quality 'homework' time.  Sitting against my wall and naked on the floor, I don't remember what I was thinking about but it was enough only occupy around five minutes. 

This was no ordinary load as well.  I could hear a thwack as some substance struck the wall above my head, but unfortunately, some also arrived in both my eyes.  I threw my head back, smacked said drenched wall and yelled out in pain.  A few seconds later, my mother of all people starts knocking on my door, asking if everything is okay in there.  I didn't even know she was home already.  Horrible. 

I told her I stubbed my toe while changing.

***

A year earlier, when I was a week shy of my fourteenth birthday, my miracle brother Jacobus was born.  To celebrate, my father took his brood to an expensive seafood restaurant the day after his birth.  I scarfed down crab legs and shrimp cocktails, and topped the dinner off with a vanilla ice cream topped with hot fudge sundae. 

The next morning, I stumbled down the stairs clutching my midsection and moaning to my parents.  I stood next to my mother as she was making coffee and stated, "Mother, I don't feel so we---" and the substance of my stomach EXPLODED all over the counter.  Brown-colored crab meat and partically digested shrimp tails slapped against the tile backsplash.

The only comment from mi madre?  "Get out of the kitchen, you're going to make people sick!"

To this day, my cousins and siblings that witnessed this event only have to say "...you're gonna make people sick!" to have us rolling with laughter.

***

I don't remember when I discovered this, but I suffer from hemophobia.  I believe I was seven when I was riding my bike, and as children are prone to do, ended up scraping my knees against the cobblestone street.  Walking home was an easy task and it was not until I was locking my bike up that I noticed the two rivers of red flowing from my knees, staining my white socks.  I was confused at my sudden lack of oxygen and black spots appearing before my eyes.

Next I remember waking up with a lump at the base of my skull.  I checked my surroundings, then promptly passed out after discovering the dried blood substance on my legs.

To this day, I can't even watch FAKE blood on television.


***


So there, no one can say I don't blog with comedial substance ever again.  Also, to the person who searched for 'ishotmyself blogspot' and ended up here, REALLY?  And shame on you Google.  If someone shot thyself...I don't know if I'd want to read that blogspot.


16 September 2010

Underland

Thank you so much to the kind comments and suggestions about the photographs. The blogging world never ceases to amaze me with feedback. 

For real, I would make all of your my Fellowship of the One Ring.  We would be a ragtag, special group that would probably not make it out of Rivendell before Orcs shot us with arrows and then that One Eye would see us because SOMEONE (I'm not mentioning whom) will be preoccupied with the PRECIOUS, you idiot.  Some of us would be eaten by a giant spider before others are stabbed by Ringwraiths and we would fall into the Mines of Moria and the One Ring would never make it to Mordor and therefore not be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom.  HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GET TO THE GREY HAVENS NOW YOU BUNCH OF IMBECILES?!

There have been little changes around here, I'm still trying to customize Blogger.  I wistfully remember the days where I coded my whole website.  These days, I'm a little rusty on HTML and CCS; and Blogger can be a little restrictive.  I suppose it's pretty nice for a free account.

I've also been making little changes in my life that are building up into major life decisions.  Whether or not to stay in this country.  Whether or not to start training for a trade or start applying for graduate school.

I need a huge change.  I have taken a step backwards in moving to my parents' farm.  It saved my life being able to do this, yet if I don't do something drastic soon, I could lose myself.  I know I will fall back into the doldrums of waking up, working, watching a movie, falling asleep.

I want to start working out again.  I risk reinjuring my foot.  Fuck it.  There is surgery, right?  I miss running and lifting weights.  It made me feel good to be drenched in sweat.  I tire so easily now.  I don't want to be old at 25.

Well, this Tylenol with codeine is kicking in.  Just wanted to check in with your loverly people.  Seriously, I would have you all at my side to face the Jabberwocky.

13 September 2010

A New Sunrise

Hello my loverly cyberpartners.  I have decided to shed that generic design and import a photograph I shot myself over the waters of the Pacific Ocean.  It was the day I was flying home to Alaska from Ibiza, Spain.  I saw three sunrises in one day, and this one was the most breathtaking.

I'm honestly at a bit of a conundrum at the thought of reviving the 'Daily Photo' section.  I halted the production of such posts because I felt I was ready to include more in-depth content, and there were several readers who were turned off at the thought of a new post every day.

However, I heard through the internet grapevine in the support of that section.  (Specifically Erin.  Go read her blog after this if you're not already a follower.  She is hilarious.)  I'm frankly at a loss...to daily photo or not to daily photo?  Maybe once a week like a photo day?  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday??

That's where you step in.  Yes you, lurker.  I can see you reading because Raptor Jesus and Google hooked me up and now I can watch your actions from the safety of my own home.  What would you like to see done about the daily photo?  I would like the photos to be included because I have many to share, but I do not want this blog to turn into just a photograph essay (else I would create a separate blog for that, which c'mon, don't you like hearing about my awkwardness?).

The choice is yours.  Who will take the Ring into Mordor?

(wait...inappropriate timing?)

11 September 2010

Believe

I'm not going to state much on today's ninth anniversary of an event that will be in America's consciousness for a great while to come, but it's something that I remember every time I take my shoes off to progress through airport security.

It's something I remember when all the flights were grounded and how silent the air was over my house.

It's something I remember when I see a photograph of people flinging themselves out a burning building to fall a hundred stories to certain death rather than be burned alive or crushed in the rubble.

It's something I remember that caused my parents to be stranded in the middle of nowhere on a hunting trip because their September 12th appointed Otter flight was grounded for three days.

It's something good to remember and honor, but we need to believe that everything will be alright.


Be strong, believe.

09 September 2010

Ugly Swan

The fable of the ugly duckling is fairly well known.  I believe it starts something like a duckling hatches and he's butt fugly, with all his siblings poking fun at his less desirable looks, then grows up to be the most beautiful swan, yadda etc, until someone shoots him and dresses him as Christmas dinner.  At least, that's how it formulated in my head.

I'm pretty sure I'm the Benjamin Button of the ugly duckling story.  That is to say, I was a pretty cute kid.  Then puberty hit (everyone goes through that awkward phase) and I never quite recovered.  Random people scold me, oh you're fine, it's all in your head, you're just as sexy.  I think these people did not have to wake up in the Swift Family Universe of radiant smiles and perfect faces.

Granted, my parents are gorgeous themselves.  It follows that their offspring should be attractive.  And for the most part, the super-genes did their prescribed duty and produced seven Spanish-Italian Stepford descendents.  Some inherited the light eyes or the tow-hair of our Lombardy ancestors from northern Italy.  Others were blessed with the olive Mediterranean tint reminiscent of our Moorish influences.

The two who started it all, Raymundo and Belladonna.  Don't they look great for thirty years of marriage?

I however, ended up with the square Eskimo face, stocky Spanish body, and swarthy Italian hair.  Plus the Japanese love of indoor flip-flops and rice.

Notice the swollen cheeks, squinty eyes and unruly hair follicles.


Here is Joelyanna and Isabella, my two older sisters.  They have modeled print ads for many designers, and Versace designed those dresses himself.  I have never met Versace.  Versace would look at me as either the boy who brings him his self-tanning lotion or a piece of gum he accidentally stepped in.


My oldest brother, Titus.  Blue-green eyes with dark hair.  The bastard can charm the pants off of any lady.



Titus is also the Bruce Banner of our family.  Can benchpress your house.


Victoria is Rillian's mother.  Absolutely stunning.  Words fail to describe her infectious laugh and scathing demeanour.  I believe she is three months pregnant in this photo.  Pregnant women, despair.


Aragon also inherited blue-green eyes like Titus.  His dark hair does a perfect curl when it's longer, not the crazy wave mine does.  He also locked down his beautiful wife, Beatrix, fairly quickly.  I think they will procreate a new superhuman race.


Mariachristina has liquid black eyes and straight Japanese hair, and tans within ten minutes of sunlight exposure.  She was super popular in high school, winning Homecoming Courts and State Track meets alike.  Men and women are constantly performing double-takes when she passes by.


Jacobus was the surprise and baby of the family.  His light brown hair and crooked smile already drive girls wild at school.  I field constant phone calls to the house line for him.  Way to boost my ego, taking phone calls for a brother fourteen years my junior.

I could say that I am the smart one, that I have read more books than the seven combined, that I have set foot in more countries than they have, but what does it matter?  I'm the one pushed to the back of photography pictures, the one forgotten at the house in the flurry of packing and leaving à la Home Alone style, always a groomsman but never a groom.  I've gotten used to the "you're Isabella / Joelyanna / Titus / Victoria / Aragon / Mariachristina / Jacobus' brother?....really?  Are you sure?"

Maybe something happened wrong the night of my conception.  Perhaps there was a gamma ray that accidentally phased through the egg that was to become Orion and altered it a little bit.  Or maybe the stars were in the wrong alignment during my birth.  Could have been that the doctor switched me with another child out there, who is now living his life not part of the gorgeous Swift family.

You know, Kenny De Ketele was born on the SAME DAY as me.  He is good-looking, this might be the mix-up.  He really is Orion Swift and I'm supposed to be with his Belgian family.  In Belgium.  I'm a pauper!

In the words of my mother, "...at least you're somewhat intelligent."

PS:  Here is my nephew Brodyn, thank heavens he has the Swift Genes.  Maybe their is hope for my children.  Probably not, but one can dream.

08 September 2010

A Heartbeat at My Feet

I was so exhausted from the past few days that I slept for eleven hours last night.  Haven't done that since uni.  (Or maybe last month, dontjudgeme.)  Both my mother and nephew have been released from the hospital, so there have been many visitors to entertain and meals to cook.  I needed some time to myself to zone out with all the influx of stimuli, so I decided to pick up the dog waste and mow the dog lawn.

Yes, the dogs that live here have their own fenced-in area.  It's approximately 50 feet by 150 feet, adjacent to the backyard and near the chicken coop.  It can take anywhere from thirty minutes (quick cut) to two hours (not cut for six weeks) to mow.  As I was prepping the dog yard, I realized how cool a dog's life must be:

1. Humans pick up after you.
Whether it's your own excrement or that bloody tampon you've chewed up, you can't pick it up.  Dew claws for the win!  Sure, you may get yelled at, but you've probably torn something up because your owner pissed you off anyway.

2. You run around naked.
Your fur usually comes in a summer and winter coat, therefore no need to ever change!  Also, there are those annoying knit sweaters for colder climates if you're short haired.  If you're really unlucky, your owner likes to dress you up, but that is usually temporary.

3. Humping objects is usually acceptable.
Whether it be legs, tables, blankets, toys, other dogs, or air; this trait is usually hilarious.  There are almost 4,000 videos on a Google search.  Some humans might discourage this, but that's probably because they are prudes.  Plus, you can knock up that hottie dog down the street and not even have to pay child support.

4. People usually find you attractive.
Puppies seem to be the best object for exploding hearts everywhere into little tiny pieces.  Every human loves dogs.  If they don't, they're probably one of those 'cat people.'  Even the ugly dogs aren't left out!  The Animal Planet has a specific contest for this trait.

5. There is no discrimination.
Every notice how we dogs usually get along with each other despite breeds?  The human race could take a few notes.  Unless your owner has not socialized you with other dogs or beats you, you probably love and are curious about other animals.

6. You can relieve yourself pretty much anywhere.
In public, the backyard, absorbent pads, people's shirts, trees, the chair legs, carpet, tile, linoleum; it's all fair game.  Depends on how well you've been trained and whether or not someone catches you.

7. You are always happy to see your owner.
Wow!  They came back!  I thought they never would!  I haven't seen you since this morning!  And the ruse is sure appreciated by humans, those lovable fools.

8. Dogs can go everywhere.
Airline fees are usually only 150 USD, grocery stores are acceptable places for puppies.  Soldiers keep dogs they find as pets in the Middle East.  Those humans even make purses for dogs these days!

9. You can sleep half the day.
And no one gets on to you!  Every hour is a good hour for naptime.  Also, those running dreams are pretty entertaining for all.

10. Always have a job! 
Being the family pet is a full time appointment.  Making sure your owners are happy is all the pay you need.  Plus there are awesome dog occupations like service dogs, rescue dogs, security dogs, or mascot dogs.

Reasons why the dogs I live with are more spoiled: they don't eat regular dog kibble.  One has to heat water in a cup for a minute, mix a scoop of Cesar's Canine Cuisine to a cup of Purina Puppy Food with the water.  That is a lot of work for a meal twice a day.  I tried fooling them by adding a dollop of chicken broth and nixing the hot water and wet food, but no dice.  They licked around the dry kibble and sat there with a disgusted look on their collective faces, stomachs growling.

Yes, that's correct.  I could hear them being hungry with food sitting right in front of them

They also are groomed professionally once a month.  Twice a month, if my mother has anything to say about it.  Also, a loveseat in the great room is covered with blankets, because it's the dogs' couch.  At least they have been trained to not sit on the couch without covering.


Yes you three, you're probably more spoiled than I am.  And I'm so indulged my parents know my bank account number by heart.  Lucky dogs.

06 September 2010

Fluvio-Glacial, Alaska

As 'summer' draws to a close for the northern hemisphere, I would just like to reflect on a period that drastically changed my life.  The direction is still a pale blue dot in the blackness of the universe, but I have faith that I'll be heading somewhere full of light and magic.

Summer is in quotations because the Alaskan one this year was pretty rainy and damp.  There were a few days of sunlight, but most of the time I was wishing I had booked holidays to spend it elsewhere.  However, summer light is dazzling.

Primrose, Kenai Lake, Alaska
 
Click photo to enlarge.

This photo was shot during Memorial Day, the typical start to summer.  At least, according to that dang social season my mother was attending each year.  Glacial lakes are the most picturesque in full sunlight. The glacial milk makes the turquoise color unreal as well as close to the freezing point.  Some mountains retain their snowcaps for most of the year, and spruce trees are evergreen.

Also, at the time of this photo, one of the ladies was five months pregnant.  She just surpassed thirty-six weeks yesterday, and is now preparing for the birth of her first daughter.  Funny how fast time flies.

Happy Labor Day weekend.  I hope it was enjoyable.  Now get to work.

03 September 2010

And So Ends the Summer of Discontent

You know how you should be doing one thing and end up doing the complete opposite?  I'm finding this bootie is not staying on as often as it should be.  Also, I didn't wear it to my foray at the discount theatre to watch Twilight Saga: Eclipse.  Don't judge, my grandmère wanted to watch.  Even though she fell asleep forty-five minutes in.  Being a senior citizen rocks!

***

So I have spent a majority of the past two weeks in and out of the hospital.  I have alluded before that it wasn't all just my injured foot.  I was enjoying a nice lunch with my family as we shared stories of our summers together at my parents' house.

Everyone was laughing, talking, gesturing; then my mother was on the hardwood living room floor.

I was confused, like a stranger had slapped me in the face for no apparent reason.  There was no logical explanation for my mother to be moaning in extreme pain.  Brain could not compute.  Error, error.

My cell phone rang me out of my stupor.  Why did I pick such an inappropriate ringtone?  This really isn't the time and place for Don't Stop Believing.  Did someone already know about the horrific medical situation?

"Your sister is on her way to the hospital."  Oh, is she going to meet us there for our mother?  "No, something is wrong with the baby.  She's in a lot of pain."  Does she know her mother is currently writhing around on the ground?  "No, and I'm not going to tell her.  I suppose they'll both be admitted then."  How are you being so calm?  "Orion, tempus fugit."

Bingo.  Activate my polyglot background and a love of dead languages to keep me focused.  I rode in the back of the ambulance because I remember my mother's medical history like the back of my hand.  I recited her last blood pressure reading.  Looks like internal problems.  Well, duh, EMT.  She made that diagnosis herself not ten minutes before you arrived.

My mother is also an EMT.  She knew that she was bleeding internally, and it had gone on for awhile for her to be collapsing.  I hadn't informed her that her daughter was heading for the hospital, albeit for different reasons.

I remember streaks of color, bits of hushed conversation, blurs of white hospital coats and glints of stethoscopes.  In one room, surgeons were saving a life from death.  In another, two lives were being separated.  I was like a boomerang, flying from the hospital labor floor to the general surgery ward.

My mother's pelvic wall had collapsed and caused massive internal bleeding.  My nine-month pregnant sister started spotting and was diagnosed with placental abruption.  Someone had not done their penances or a snarky cosmic joke had taken place.  I was nauseated to the point where I began carrying around what would be called the Oh-Oh Bag.

I was struggling with the Why? and the How?  Why us?  How could this happen?  Then I thought of other families worldwide without proper medical care, families that are not as blessed as mine.  And it may sound selfish, but it gave me peace.

Luckily, twenty three hours and enough coffee to burn a hole through my diaphragm: I have both a recovering mother, an exhausted sister, and a new nephew that shares of one of my middle names.

Welcome to the world, Rillian Amedeo Perseus Felipe.
You are brightly greeted.

02 September 2010

Hippocratic Orkos

I know one location where people have to be and every single person does not want to be there.  There are hacking coughs, snotty children running amok, and wheezing seniors.

Yes, the dreaded Emergency Waiting Room.  I suspect it is modeled after Purgatory.

As I have spent the past few weeks visiting recovering relatives and attending to my own health, I can't help but notice the SAME patrons are always in the ER ward:

Bored-With-It-All Check-In Technician (aka receptionist)
This person hates the job and rather be checking Facebook then signing you in.  Everything you ask is wrong, you don't know what you are doing, you are an infant and this person will very reluctantly change your soiled diaper.  Why don't you have your insurance card ready?  You don't have insurance, you say?  Watch this person take ten minutes to track down the 'appropriate paperwork.'  The cool plastic bracelets they provide are usually arranged on your wrist to catch the most hair possible in the adhesive side.  Those envelope openers are looking pretty inviting to this person's carotid artery right now.

Triage Terror
This worker is all about QUANTITY over QUALITY.  If it weren't for that pesky HIPAA law, there would be three to four sick patients in the triage room at once.  I personally can't stand how they stuff a thermometer in my mouth (without buying me dinner first), squeeze my arms to bits with an electronic sphygmomanometer, jamming a pulse oximeter on my index finger and then expect me to explain in minute detail why I am in this hellhole in the first place.  A few scribbled notes later, and I'm probably put down for a lobotomy.  Next!

Decrepit Senior
Seriously, imagine Fawkes the phoenix moments before his cyclic death in front of Harry Potter.  That's what this patient looks and acts like, ready to keel over at any second.  Their death rattle reverberates off every surface, and each ragged breath seems to be the last (it never is, NEVER).  Usually in a wheelchair, the expert levels have their own motorized ones.  I just want take the threadbare blanket draped over their knees and smother them until they stop squirming.  Population control, right?

Ghetto Mobile Girl
You know the one: whether she is country hick, Alaskan native, or straight up out of the projects. She can't stand being alone waiting to be seen for another blood sample (read: STD) or needs an exam to garter more 'pills' for her 'condition.' Therefore, doesn't turn her ringer off (LIKE A CONSIDERATE PERSON) and has the most annoying ring and message tones (I do not want to hear a tinny rendition of 'Blame It On the Alcohol' while I am waiting to be seen for an illness every thirty seconds, put that shit on vibrate). Has loud conversations with her 'baby' and threatens to shoot him if he ever forgets her racial background again. Plays guessing games and throws out sordid details of the bedroom life for everyone to hear. Also drops F*bombs for good effect. For the love of Raptor Jesus, leave your phone at home (not in a car, since you probably had to walk or take a cab here).


Frequent Flier
This one knows the right phrases to use and which hospital on the circuit hasn't been visited in awhile.  Their bag clinks with empties.  Yes, I'm talking pill poppers.  Seems to be a bit twitchy and eyes the exits, planning an escape route in case social services comes to call.  Jumps into your conversation when you explain various aches and pains, and has a vocabulary existing entirely of words ending in -adone, -ine, -anil, -amine, and -azine.

Black Plague Incubus
This one could either be a child or adult.  Somehow seems to spreading the Ebola virus and irritable bowel syndrome systematically.  Possibly leaking fluids from every orifice and don't know products like handkerchiefs or facial tissue exist.  They lean over you to grab a well-worn magazine (don't they know those mags are INFESTED with sick people germs?)(they probably don't care)(they probably put the germs there in the first place) or rub their runny noses on your pant legs.  The cough emanating from this soul is enough to shake dust from the air circulation vents, and the sneezes are like micro-hurricanes sweeping into your lungs.

Granola Mac Couple
He's wearing Tivas, she probably drives a Subaru made out of recycled plastic bags.  Smells strongly of patchouli.  They both have their iPhones out with one earbud in and are probably researching new causes to join on Facebook.  Neither looks up or even at each other.  Sighs loudly as their name isn't called to see the doctor, because there are wild animals in the zoo that need to be set free soon.

Perky P.A.
The one with all the power, can command the attention of the room.  A pin drop could be heard as soon as the P.A. walks into the area with an important looking clipboard.  So damn cheerful their optimism could probably summon unicorns.  Bated breath from every person, hoping their name is called.  The winner and name holder of the chart quickly bounds up, elated to escape the hell behind.  This person probably is Raptor Jesus.

***

I'm only joking about smothering senior citizens (OR AM I?) but spending two hours in a waiting room with your mother and your aunt is pretty amusing after awhile.  My foot had really been bothering my lately, to the point where I haven't ran in a week and a half.  It was noticeably swollen compared to the other ankle.  I also pinpointed that it started hurting over a month ago and decided that loading myself with Advil every four hours was just a band-aid solution for a bullet hole.

The Physician's assistant who saw me was mid-thirties guy who wanted the life history of my right foot.  I told him it was pretty much that same as the rest of my body, except for the brief sabbatical into drug use and subsequent NA meetings / rehab after appearing all over the tabloids as RIGHT SWIFT FOOT GONE WILD!  LEFT SWIFT 'GROWS BUNIONS OVER HEARTACHE'.  It felt awkward to have another dude basically massaging my foot, even though I wasn't paying this time and it actually hurt (that's what she said).

The PA ordered an X-ray, which was stellar.  They have this motorized table one lays on, which had an outline for the target scanning and looked like a huge whiteboard with a pillow.  The radiologist also wanted to know what had happened, so I saved myself the trouble and wrote down the link to Right Foot's leaked sex tape site.  (Side note: what is the deal with every hospital worker wanting to know what you are doing there, morbid curiosity?)  He told me to take off my zip hoodie, remove my flip flops, and make myself comfortable.  It was like I was at a strip club!

Best part of the X-ray?  I expected to use the heavy lead vests one is usually provided.  Not so with this one.  He plopped a flat rectangle shaped covering over my crotch.  That's what I'm talkin' about!  Save the meat and potatoes from radiation, who gives a crap about your internal organs?

Long story short, there are no fractures but I have torn some medial ligaments.  By trying to power through and ignoring my foot injury by running two or more miles every day, I actually ended up hurting myself worse.  Ligaments never heal the same again, due the low blood flow.  He told me I had to be on bedrest for three to four weeks.  WEEKS!  Fatville, here I come.  On the upside, I was prescribed some luxurious lifesavers that rhyme with dir-co-set and I have this new sexy foot adornment.





I am gonna get so much tail with this new apparatus.

31 August 2010

Five Year Old Orion


I was always a snazzy dresser.


I was conversing with my mother about queries I posed as a child.  I apparently was a hugely inquisitive lad who always made observations on any subject.  Here are a few stellar interrogations:

"Mother, why have the clouds fallen?"
"It's just fog."

"Father, why do we see people once and never see them again?"
"That's just the way of the world, son."

"Grandmother, why do you call them colored people if they are just one color and not the color of the rainbow?"
"..."

"Mother, did you also lock me in the closet when I wouldn't stop screaming as a baby?"
"No, your younger sister just doesn't understand how to quit the crying with all the screaming and the yelling and the screaming."

"If we are visiting Little Rock, where is Big Rock?"
"There is no Big Rock..."

Also, I didn't keep my parents or siblings from sleeping because I was an exemplary baby.  I've always been able to sleep, in fact I think I should list it under 'Life Achievements'.  I once passed out halfway in a dryer.

***

Still in and out of the hospital for two members of my close family, and also myself.  I have a stone bruise on my right foot I keep exacerbating by working on the property.  The doctor says I should 'take it easy' and 'rest.'  Does fishing for silver salmon count or scaring the chickens count?  It's relaxing to me.

28 August 2010

So Starts the Summer of Discontent

"Edward Cullen!  Why are you in Harry Potter?"

My grandmother doesn't understand that actors can play more than one character.  I suppose she's allowed after six children and living in seven countries.

***

I did the 'big move' last weekend.  I absolutely abhor packing, loading, unloading, unpacking.  Funny enough, I'm satisfied with organizing my possessions before and after moves.  That's probably the obsessive-compulsive disorder, though.

I was living in a hole where I wasn't happy with my situation.  There were weeks at a time were I didn't leave the house.  Even days passed where I didn't leave my room.  Work and online pursuits were my only escape.  It's not easy to admit this, but I felt so oppressed and judged when I spent time upstairs in the living room or kitchen.  That was not okay.  I was paying rent and utilities to stay in a 10 x 16 foot room, leaving only to use the loo or make oatmeal.

I informed my family of my unhappiness, after two months of pure torture.  It felt like walking on three-inch nails every time I left my room.  Partially my fault, if I would have recognized the pattern of not wanting to leave my room, I would have saved myself grief and heartache.  Once in a while, there were times were we all laughed and enjoyed each other's company, but there was one person whose giggles were twinged with undertones of malice and hatred.  I felt like an abused dog, constantly seeking affirmation and offering to go above and beyond to satisfy the sickening cycle.

Two of my maternal aunts and my younger sister showed up promptly at 1100h the next morning.  Luckily, due to my transient life style, every object I own was in my parents' family room at 1300h.  The house owner understood when I talked to him later, why the Swift swiftly escaped the prison cell.  I felt like Atlas, released of his duty to uphold the globe.  I slept soundly through the night for the first time since April.

Honestly, it does seem like a step backwards.  Moving back to my parents' house is not something that I ever planned on doing, again.  Yet there were two more reasons that compelled me, which I'll explain in the next post.

Also, I found there were lies and deceit spread during my stay in the Ross / Jade / Ivor house.  Only by one person, but it still stings.  From a person who I supported and chilled with during a sickness and recovery period, took a holiday with, and paid for dinners which I insisted were my treat.  Hilarious how things are not always what they seem.

I needed to take a step back from everything.  I turned off my phone for a week and did simple tasks on my parents' farm.  Of course, there were the hospital visits and many hours spent in the church, but it was all worth it.  It felt great to have a bonfire with my eleven thousand cousins and reconnect with what matters.

So, I promise to my future self to never again ignore my gut instinct.  The gut instinct that made me literally sick, so ill I wouldn't eat food and just give my money away.  I have lost twenty-five points since June, and not in the healthy way.  I want to be whole again.

Edit to add:
I wrote this yesterday.  I didn't know if I would post it, but it felt like a festering sore languishing in the 'Draft' category.  Things are turning around.  I've gained back five pounds.  My mother wants to fatten me up again, must be a Mediterranean diet.  Opposite of the South Beach diet, then.

27 August 2010

Lemony

There are two types of people in this world:

Those who start fires.

And those that put them out.

26 August 2010

Crank

I found out that in a pinch, all my worldly possessions can packaged up and moved in two hours with four able-bodied people (three of whom are women).

I accessed that soft tissue injuries in your foot can severely dampen plans to construct a fire pit, mow a two-acre farm, and clean out a seven-roomed house.

I determined that it takes someone longer to choose a WPA key than it does for me to install a new wireless router.

I discerned that there is a slim distance between giving and losing life.

I discovered my first white hair.  Welcome to my quarter-life crisis.

23 August 2010

My Life Would Suck Without You

Just a quick note, I've had three life changing events happen to me since Friday morning.  Please excuse me for lack of posting and terrorizing the internet.  I do hope to explain what has happened in the next few days, as the audience loves it when a blogger vomits all over a website.

Thank you for all the love and comments and support.  I really think without this blog and 20sb.net I would be in a ditch somewhere, probably with my underwear on my head.

Anyway, to make up for lack of pictures and content, my first guest post ever is up at Kristin Luna's Tales from a Travel Addict (Camels and Chocolate).  Check out her site, leave her some love as well.

And again, thank you.

19 August 2010

Tour Eiffel, Paris

Congrats Denise and Jeffrey, it was the Eiffel Tower.  Eagle eyes!

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Click photo to enlarge.

This was the first photo snapped with my iPhone.  Great way to bust a camera cherry, I think.

So Undeniable

This is a haiku
It does not make any sense
Refrigerator

18 August 2010

Great One-Horn, Cincinnati

I love zoos. Some people say it's cruelty to animals, locking them up like that. I'm all, where do I sign up? A place to live with free meals and a bunch of people staring at me all day? Awesome. On a more serious note, most zoological organizations around the world are great contributors and proponents of conservationism.


It was a hot and lazy day when I visited the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens.  We thought it would be better to avoid the parking fees and walk the equivalent of three blocks.  No problem in my book.  Little did I know the weather gods were going to hear my internal diatribe and say, let us just crank up the humidity.  Have fun.
 
I've traversed the San Diego Zoo, which is mammoth and I recommend using the trolleys whenever possible, but Cincinnati did not possess any sort of patron transport.  Halfway through, I was envying this:
 
Indian Rhinoceros, Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio
Click photo to enlarge.
 
Most of the animals were in the water that day.  Even though it was September, temperatures still soared to 27C (82F), which to this Alaskan boy is pretty absurd in the fall.  It shouldn't be a surprise though, as I learned the Indian rhino was an excellent swimmer and could barrel down at one with 55 km/h (34 mph).  And that most are solitary.  That's why they were swimming away from each other.

17 August 2010

Do You Know?

Can you guess the monument?


Hint:  It was initially scheduled to be demolished after its original purpose.

16 August 2010

Nine Faces of Algave Azul

Can someone please explain what everyone is thinking in this photo?  I certainly have no idea.



And yes, those are three girls dancing together.  I can't even...explain.

It was a crazy weekend.

15 August 2010

13 August 2010

Open Water, Caribbean Sea

I've always had a healthy love for water.  Rain, ponds, lakes, rivers, ocean.  I have always been a good swimmer, and have grown up in places close to water.  I don't know how I would handle living in, say a desert environment, or a landlocked country without quick access to some sort of reservoir.

I also have what one might call sea legs.  I can quickly adapt, whether it's a thirteen foot river skiff or a mammoth cruise liner.  The feeling of walking not quite being steady excites me.  Except for when it's drunken walking, then I just feel dizzy.  It's quite funny to watch ten people zig-zag and stumble in unison when a cruise boat lurches suddenly, by the way.  Also weird is how it takes one night to become in sync with the wave rocking, yet spend weeks afterwards feeling like someone replaced my mattress with a waterbed.  Hm.

Horizon, Halfway between Grenada and Puerto Rico, Caribbean Sea
Click photo to enlarge.

The vastness of the ocean might be scary to some.  I find it relaxing and humbling at the same time.  Perhaps it's because all four of my DNA strands were sea-faring people.  Brave explorers who used only the sun and the stars to guide them.  Cheers, ancestors.

12 August 2010

Liberator Angel, Dublin

One person Dublin, Ireland is obsessed with: Dónal Ó Conaill.  Or rather in plain English, Daniel O'Connell. Really, how much more Irish can one get?  Best known for his repeal of the Act of Union and Catholic Emancipation, Dubliners talk fondly of Mr. O'Connell.  The nineteenth century political leader inspired men such as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

O'Connell has left his mark on Dublin.  A round tower marking his family's crypt north of Dublin in Glasnevin can be seen for miles.  He has been featured on Irish banknotes, and the former Carlisle Bridge over the River Liffey has been renamed O'Connell Bridge.  The main throughfare through Dublin is--what else?--O'Connell Street.

Angel at base, Daniel O'Connell Statue, Dublin
 
Click photo to enlarge.

I find it apt there is a dog incorporated as O'Connell was extremely loyal and dedicated to Ireland.  His leadership and inspiration eventually led to an Irish Free State in 1922, and without him the Republic of Ireland would probably be under the wing of the United Kingdom.

11 August 2010

Hovering Disk, Seattle

One of the perks (or downfalls) of travelling to and from Alaska is the layover in Seattle, Washington.  I've used these stops on more than one occasion to visit Olive's family, who live in a town about thirty minutes north of downtown Seattle.  I really like Seattle's iconic skyline, the nearest legitimate American city to Alaska.  There is one landmark in particular I strain to see on the drive from Interstate 5 departing Sea-Tac Airport.

Space Needle, Seattle, Washington
Click photo to enlarge.

Again, this is a monument that defines Seattle.  It has been used in establishment shots for television shows like Frasier, Dark Angel and Grey's Anatomy.  The Sounders FC and Seattle Storm still incorporate it into their sport logos.  The films Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Sleepless in Seattle also used the Space Needle.

This photo was shot from the parking lot of the KeyArena, former home to the Seattle SuperSonics.  The Needle and Arena complex was constructed for the 1962 World's Fair.  I had seen this view a few times during the day, but never this close at night.  Once the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, it still is the Tour Eiffel of Seattle's skyline.

10 August 2010

Upper Town, Ibiza

Typically in Spain, an area has two names.  España is divided into seventeen autonomous communities, akin to states.  It dates back to before there was a unified Kingdom of Spain.  Each community was a separate kingdom or fiefdom, which in turn had their own dialect of Latin.  The most dominant, Castilian, evolved into what is now modern day Spanish.  Yet to this day, the many other dialects are given official status in their respective communities.

As part of the Balearic Islands, both Catalan and Spanish are spoken in Ibiza.  In fact, the official name of the island is Eivissa.  As a world premiere tourist destination and a significant ex-patriot community, most inhabitants speak also use English, German, and / or French.

Dalt Villa, Eivissa, España
Click photo to enlarge.

This is the entrance to Dalt Villa (Catalan for 'Upper Town') which is the oldest part of Ibiza Town.  Once the island was reconquered from the Moors by King James I of Aragon, the fortress was outfitted and a wall encircling the whole city was constructed and completed in the thirteen century.  The steeple of Santa Maria d'Eivissa can be seen in the upper left, the pinnacle of Dalt Villa constructed in the fourteen century.  I found it delightful to walk out of the drawbridge every morning to sit at a café and drink in the shade.  After a long night out, it felt save to sleep in a town that had its own fortress walls.

(Ibiza is located in the Mediterranian Sea, off the eastern coast of Spain. Here's a map.  Ibiza is the westernmost island.)

09 August 2010

Save the Planet, Tulsa

Since Wikipedia decided their article of the day was Tulsa, Oklahoma, the first even that popped into my head about Tulsa was their Hard Rock Hotel-Casino.

The Hard Rock Cafe franchise is world-renowned as a joint to have a good meal and check out awesome memorabilia.  I always check if a city or nearby location has a Cafe or Hotel-Casino.  I suppose it stems from taking holidays apart from my parents, my father would always ask for a Hard Rock Cafe ball cap.  And the fact we ate Christmas Dinner at the Maui Hard Rock three years in a row.

Hard Rock Hotel-Casino, Tulsa, Oklahoma
 
Click photo to enlarge.

When I visited, the hotel portion was still under construction, as it was officially launched on 24 July 2009.  Of course, the casino with its flashing lights and fog machine were already flashing and in use.  I really enjoy Hard Rock, even though I lost $20 US within five minutes.  The casino was set up in a half arc around the front of the lobby and it was a bit hard to navigate to the gift shop.  I would love to go back and check out the hotel rooms.  They look great from the photos.  Sadly, there was no Cafe open or I would have stopped for a grilled mustard chicken sandwich.  Where all have I eaten this sandwich?

Canada:
Niagra Falls, ON
Ottawa, ON
Vancouver, BC (closed)
Whistler, BC (closed)
 
China:
Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region (closed for relocation)

France:
Paris, Île-de-France

Ireland:
Dublin, Leinster
Israel:
Tel Aviv, Gush Dan (closed)
Italy:
Rome, Lazio

Jamaica:
Ochos Rios, Saint Ann
 
Japan:
Roppongi, Tokyo
Mexico:
Cancún, Quintana Roo
Mexico City, Distrito Federal
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Tijuana, Baja California
 
The Netherlands:
Amsterdam, North Holland
 
Portugal:
Lisbon, Lisboa Região
 
Spain:
Barcelona, Catalonia
Madrid, Communidad de Madrid
 
The United Kingdom:
Cardiff, Wales
London, Englad (the original Cafe)
 
The United States:
Atlanta, GA
Chicago, IL
Hollywood, CA (closed for relocation)
Honolulu, HI
Kona, HI (closed)
La Jolla, CA (closed)
Las Vegas, NV
Newport Beach, CA (closed)
Niagara Falls, NY
Maui, HI
Memphis, TN
Minneapolis, MN
Phoenix, AZ
Sacramento, CA (closed)
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
San Juan, PR
Seattle, WA
Tumon Bay, Guam
 
I enjoy the fact that their menu is pretty much the same worldwide plus their motto: Love All, Serve All.

Curly, Larry, and Moe

Sitting on the couch, iPhones, after a day of mowing the two-acre lawn.

Roommate Jade:  Well well well, if it isn't the Three Stooges.

We all grunt.

Jade:  Who dragged grass and dirt all over the floors??

Me:  I took my boots off downstairs, and I wear flip flops in the house because my great-grandmother...

Jade, Ivor, Ross:  WAS JAPANESE!  WE KNOW!!

Ross:  I dunno babe...

Jade:  Ivor!  You still have your boots on, not in the house!

Me, under my breath:  No wire hangers, ever!

Ivor, quietly:  Son of a biscuit.

Jade:  I swear, it's like you all are my kids.  I'm the mom and I have to take care of you boys.

Ross:  It's alright babe, we'll clean it up.

Jade:  I'm going to lay down, it better be cleaned up by the time I wake up!

Me:  I thought she was the mom, that's all we hear at night...Ooo mami!

Ivor:  Oh yeah, mamasita!

Ross:  Shut it!  I'll go calm her down.

Ivor, begins to sweep:  These are different boots than I wore outside.

08 August 2010

Cincy, Ohiokentucky

The roommates turned the television to the Cowboys at Bengals game in Canton, Ohio.  I was watching it mostly for the Hall of Fame interviews, and I have a special affinity for Cincinnati:

I experienced a trip within a holiday.  I was meeting up with a friend in San Antonio, Texas.  Halfway through we were switching to Cincinnati, Ohio.  I assumed we were making the drive, not so.  My friends already had tickets, and I purchased my ticket thinking I was leaving out of Texas.  A quick finagle and $199 later, I had a roundtrip from SAT to CVG.

I almost freaked out when the Delta flight landed and the flight attendant stated 'I'd like to welcome y'all to Kentucky.'  Uh, I signed up for Cincinnati.  Looking around quickly, no one seemed alarmed so I decided to flow along with it.  There were multiple signs welcoming me to Kentucky.  I may have started to panic.

I called the Radisson which I had booked the night before which had said Cincinnati.  Turns out CVG International Airport services 'Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky.'  I usually research an airport if I haven't been there, but as I had to book this on the fly, I was clueless about CVG.

Turns out Chicago fans had filled up the Radisson Covington because there was a Bears / Bengals game the next day.  That's a whole post in itself, I have never been in another team rivarly besides my own (I prefer the Chargers and the Seahawks).  Anyway after a night of being pushed around by both teams' fans aside, I woke up the next morning to visit the famous rotating restaurant aptly named 360 atop the hotel.  Thank goodness the spinning didn't aggrevate my liquor-filled stomach.

View of Cincinnati, Covington, Kentucky
 
Click photo to enlarge.

This is downtown Cin City across the Ohio River.  It was early September, the leaves were gold and fire, the air crisp.  That's one thing I regret about Alaska.  The leaves turn brown, not yellow, and the winds knock down the leaves before there is a chance to enjoy them.  I would think Anchorage has about three weeks of the fall season.

And 360's famous Sunday brunch did not disappoint.  Their banana crêpes were the most DELICIOUS I have ever tasted in my life.  In fact, I'm salivating now.  Here, take a gander:

Party Rock

Roommate Ivor just woke me up in three ways: his car coming up the driveway, the tapping on all six of my windows, and his ringtone.

"SHOTS SHOTS SH-SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SH-SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS EVERYBODY!  The ladies love us, when we pour shots...

They need an excuse, to suck our..."

Me:  Hello?

Ivor:  Heeeeeey.

Me:  Are you locked out?

Ivor:  Yes.

Me:  Let me dress first.

So I stumble upstairs and quietly unlock the door because our other roommate Ross was also asleep.  We kept our voices to loud whispers.

Ivor:  Did y'all drink tonight?

Me:  Yes, do the empty beer bottles and bomb shot glasses not give it away?  How was Anchorage?

Ivor:  Good, I was banging this chick from eleven until about forty-five minutes ago.

Me:  I thought you drove to town to hang out with your buddy because your mutual friend just drowned in a lake.

Ivor:  I did, then I hooked up with the girl I've been texting.  [pauses]  Does that make me a slut?

Me:  Unequivocally.

Ivor:  At least I'm safe. [pulls out Trojans]

Me:  That's the important part.

07 August 2010

El Capitolio de Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

I've stood under some of the most celebrated domes: St. Peter's Basilia in Rome, St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Il Duomo in Florence, Les Invalides in Paris, the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.  Each one has different features that leave my head spinning.  The magnitude and craftsmanship are mind-boggling.

Palacio de las Leyes, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Click photo to enlarge.

I think the colors and style reflect San Juan splendidly.  A city that is rich in heritage and culture, the oldest established city in the United States, is wonderful to visit.  The Capitol is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, justifiably, completed in 1929.  Also, San Juan takes Juan Ponce de León and Cristóbal Colón completely serious.  See if you can find Christopher Columbus in the above photo.

Did you know Columbus was born in the Republic of Genoa (present day Italy) and died in Valladolid, Crown of Castile (present day autonomous community of Castile and Leon).  Now, he was originally interred in Valladolid, yet his son moved his remains to the monastery of La Cartuja in Sevilla. In 1542 the remains were transferred to colonial Santo Domingo (present-day Dominican Republic). In 1795, when France took over the entire island of Hispaniola, Columbus's remains were moved to Havana, Cuba. After Cuba became independent following the Spanish-American War in 1898, the remains were shipped back to España and was interred in el Cathedral de Sevilla.

He did as much traveling when he was dead as when he was alive.  Ha!

In Queso Emergency

A running commentary of G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra.
Spoilers ahead, if you haven't seen this amazing piece of cinema...


Me: I don't know why theaters don't use BluRay players.  I would totally watch more movies at the box office if it was this high quality.

Roommate Ivor: You also like being able to pause and add subtitles.

Me: Hey man, I'm ESL here!

Ivor: I remember those kids in elementary.  They were weird.  Go figure.

Me: I didn't know GI Joe started in 1641 France.

Ivor: This movie is high class, even back in the day.

Me: 'In the not so distant future'?  Does that mean that the world doesn't end in 2012. How do they know...

Ivor: Nanotechnology is SICK. That is awesome!

Me: I hope the Taliban doesn't watch this and get the wrong idea.

Ivor: Oh, why did that cast him?

Me: Marlon Wayans?  I can't see him on screen and not expect him to bust out his white girl drag, à la White Chicks.

Ivor: I'm pretty sure that's Shawn.

Me: Well it's not Keenen Ivory, that's for sure.  Remember In Living Colour?  They had SO MANY Wayans. Wayans cousins I didn't even know about! Daman, Kim...

Ivor: David Alan...

Me: His last name is Grier.

Ivor: Oh.  Just watch the movie!

Me: Always a bad sign when someone says, 'There's nothing on the radar, sir.'

Ivor: AND there go the warheads.

Me: I'm just in this movie for the explosions.

Ivor: Well hello Sienna Miller.

Me: I don't remember The Baroness wearing that outfit.  GI Joe: now with sex appeal.

Ivor: They have to give the nerds something else to focus on besides all this high falutin' CGI graphics.

Me: 'I knew her when she was a blonde.'

Ivor: Do the curtains still match the drapes?

Me: We're taking you to our secret base...The Pyramids at Giza!  Establishment shot.

Ivor: Why can't you just say Egypt?

Me: Hello Ginger!

Ivor: What's with all the ginger jokes these days?

Me: Most gingers are sluts.  How many sexts have you received today?

Ivor: Touché.

Me: Oh look, there's a cameo by Brendan Fraser.  Random.  I bet a bunch of macho actors wanted to be a part of this riveting film.  And, a montage!  Where they learn new moves and weapons, progress farther in their training to be ready for the final battle.

Ivor: It's like HALO.

Me: Scarlett's kinda a slut, huh?  Genius that graduated university at age 12 with no emotions...that screams sexual repression.

Ivor: I'd sexually repress her.

Me: That doesn't even make sense.  I'm ready for the next battle.  The warheads are going to be stolen soon...

Ivor: I'm only in this movie for the tits.  Cat fight!

Me: AND of course the bad guys escape.  Why didn't the GI Joe base come with an early warning detection system?  The enemy just waltz right in their with their drill-rides.

Ivor: Ah shiz, there's the kid from 'Third Rock from the Sun.'

Me: And he's the brother, the only family she has!  He dies, somewhere in the movie.

Ivor: How do you know?

Me: It's the premise of her turning evil.  If he's the only family left....it spells death or a move to the dark side.

Ivor: How do you know all this?

Me: I pay attention.  I also know that all these random cuts with Snake Eyes means he's brothers with Storm Shadow and will end up killing him in the end.

Ivor: STOP IT!  Son of a biscuit you and your ESL ESPN.

Me: It's ESP...

Ivor: Shh.

Me: Oh look, East Africa FOUR YEARS AGO.  Duke and Rex, together for the last time.  Duke ordered an airstrike.  It's going to be early.

Ivor: What...how do you...oh THERE GOES BOOM THE HOUSE!

Me: Hey, the President is Jonathan Pryce!  Let's see how many random cameos this movie can have.

Ivor: Jonathan...?

Me: Gov'ner Weatherby Swann, Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise?  Played Keira Knightley's dad?

Ivor: Your knowledge of actors is pretty scary.  Who all is in this?

Me: I remember faces.  Christopher Eccleston, Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Sienna Miller, Ray Park, Dennis Quaid, Karolína Kurková, Arnold Vosloo...

Ivor: Alright, just stop.

Me: This chase scene through Paris is distracting.  They keep driving past Pont Alexandre III.

Ivor: The what? What language are you speaking?

Me: The Alexander Bridge, build in honor of Tsar Alexander III of Russia?  Although most of these buildings look like Prague, which most studios film in because it's cheaper and there are tax breaks.  I think I recognize that building from Old Town.

Ivor: You know too much. I hide in fear at night, thinking the FBI or CIA or CSI will bust into our house and capture you.

Me: Oh...badass. I'm now putting those suits on my Christmas list.

Ivor: I'm putting Sienna Miller on mine.

Me: I think mine will more likely come to fruition.

Ivor: They're going to detonate a warhead, huh?

Me: Yes, and they'll target the Eiffel Tower, which will collapse.

Ivor: I hate you.

Me: Some call it a curse, others a gift.

Ivor: Of course...the bad guy's base is under the ARCTIC ICE CAP!  Genius!  No one will find us here.

Me: It's remote enough.

Ivor: I knew this movie would be lame.

Me: I like the explosions and warfare.

Ivor: Imitating Heavy Weight- KEEP IT TIGHT! I like it TIGHT! Fire that TIGHT.

Me: I think he likes things tight. Perhaps they used up the budget on special effects and actors, couldn't pay for the script.

Ivor: It's becoming very cheesy. Cliche, even. Do that thing where you predict what they are going to say next.

Me: 'I'm gonna get you out of here. That's my girl!'

Me: I need a tortilla to cut through all this cheese.

Ivor: It's getting ridiculous.

Me: GI Joe: In Queso Emergency?

Ivor: Tell me what happens next.  I'm done watching this movie.

Me: Well, The Doctor is probably The Baroness' brother, who survived the explosion and learned all about nanotechnology.  He brainwashed his sister so now Channing Tatum can save her and be the hero.  The black ninja is going to kill the white ninja because the white ninja killed their master, Marlon Wayons will destroy both warheads with the help of Scarlett, and the President will be replaced with Zartan in the underground bunker.  Duke and Ripcord will be asked to join GI Joe after the final battle, and they'll be shown preparing for another threat.  The Doctor will become Cobra Commander and James McCullen will be Destro, they will be captured and locked away but not killed because that sets it up for a sequel.

Ivor: Damn. I'm never watching another movie EVER.

06 August 2010

The High One, Alaska

One major source of pride for Alaskans is that North America's tallest summit is located near the south central heart of our non-continental state.  On clear days, the mountain can be seen from Anchorage rising from the northern horizon.  It's a lucky day when you can spy The High One, something that is usually put down as one's Facebook or Twitter status.
The Summit, Mount Denali, Alaska
Click photo to enlarge.

This is the view from 11,200 meters (37,000 feet).  The summit rises 6,134 m (20,320 ft) above the surrounding Denali National Park and Reserve.  From the air, the mountain is massive.  The captain addresses the comm and announces the arrival of the granite pluton, to the delight of passengers.  It surpasses the view from the window.  I've seen many airplane views, yet this one located so close to home base never ceases to amaze.

05 August 2010

DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM, London

Any time a film wants to establish that the locale is truly London, all the director has to include is a shot of the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster. The same could be said for a traveler wishing to convey the location of one's holiday.

Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, London
Click photo to enlarge.

It's a bit of a misnomer that the clock, clock tower, or even the attached Houses of Parliament are labeled 'Big Ben.'  In fact, the source of the nickname is...

A bell.  The Great Bell of the Great Clock of Westminster is supposedly named after either civil engineer Benjamin Hall, 1st Baron Llanover (who oversaw the installation of said bell) or boxing heavyweight champion Ben Caunt (a bare-knuckle boxer).

Yes, it is cliché to have a photo with, just as La Tour Eiffel or Il Colosseo for Paris and Rome.  Yet, as one exits the Jubilee Line at Westminster from the Tube, the famous tower dominates the sky over the underground entrance.  As the world's largest chiming four-faced clock tower that just celebrated its 150th anniversary shortly before this photo was taken, I say cheers!

04 August 2010

Kihei, Maui

One year ago I was flying first class on Alaska Airlines for a week with my little sister Maria and Olive's family for a pre-school break to Maui.  Olive's dad's boss owns a condo right off South Kihei Road, with easy access to Kamaole Beach II.  I had previously spent three Christmas holidays on Maui, but always in Lahaina.  Kihei is located on the south side of Maui, with hardly any precipitation being on the leeward side of the Haleakalā summit.

Condo pool, Kihei, Maui
Click photo to enlarge.

It was a bit windy, but humid and hot enough to enjoy the closing of our summer.  Having a local swimming pool was also fantastic, as it was easy to bring along a towel to lay out on and snorkel gear to practice for the ocean.


As you can see, I was pleased.  Also, a little bit special.  Must have been the rum.

03 August 2010

Stone Woman, Belize

I like climbing objects or ascending skyscrapers. The feeling of accomplishment standing atop a precipice and drinking in the surroundings is astounding.  I stand at the edge when most people hold back.

Top of El Castillo, Xunatunich, Belize
Click photo to enlarge.

The second tallest structure in the country of Belize, El Castillo is a pyramid around 40 meters (130 feet) above the square mile Mayan site core. From the summit, one can view the lush countryside of Guatemala to the west and Belize to the east.  Climbing the Castle involved well-worn stairs (constructed in three stages from 700 - 900 A.D.) barely wide enough for two feet to stand on.  There were no guard rails nor any glass to protect from the elements.  It was the most freeing feeling.

Until my mother shouted for me to step back, SO HELP ME Dios mío ¿Por qué es mijo tan tonto?  She always knows how to bring me back from the ledge.  Or rather, how to crush my independence.

02 August 2010

Ville de lumière, Paris

Again the internet connection around The Palace has been a downright red-headed stepchild.  It acts as though we do not pay the bill in a timely manner and lock it in the crawlspace with the local orphans to be gnawed on by the local shrew population.  It's becoming very exhausting to unplug the router for five minutes, ding the wireless connection from the laptop, and sacrifice a dead chicken killed under a new moon with a pure silver scythe on a funeral pyre built from centaur tail hairs.  Do you know how hard it is to track down centaurs in the Forbidden Forest?

So to center myself, or unlock my chi, or feng shui my chakra, I've been staring at this lovely view and imagining the sun bearing down on my face.

View from Notre Dame, Paris, France
Click photo to enlarge.

I truly love any city with an underground transportation system.  Although I've navigated a vehicle from Lisbon to Morocco, the ease of a subway or the like reduces my stress factor by 60 percent.  On this holiday to Paris, I was able to show my little sister all the iconic landmarks she wanted to see in eight hours.  I accredit this success to the Métro and RER.

This photo faces southwest Paris from the top of Notre Dame de Paris.  It was a perfect day, the temperature hovered around 25C (75F) well into the evening, and only a few clouds languished across the sky.  I took pleasure in showing Maria the landmarks from the towers.

PS: I showed this photo to a few coworkers and one mentioned he had seen it before, pulling out his copy of Frommer's Guide to Paris.  It's also on their website, but I think mine has a little more pizazz.

Team America World Police

Scene: Rehashing the previous night's events of barhopping.

Roommate Ivor: "Do you remember dancing around in just your unders?"

Me: "You mean my boxers?  You know, in some parts of the world those are considered shorts."

Ivor: "Well, this ain't Europe, this here 'Merica!"

Me: "Thank you, George W."

01 August 2010

Camel Cupcakes, Chiba

The reason I started reading blogs again was because I stumbled upon the Bloggie Awards 2009.  Under the Travel section was one with an unusual name: Camels and Chocolate.

The writing was compelling and the photos fantastic.  Here was a fellow world traveler who decided to share her experiences, and I immediately read the whole website in one sitting.  Kristin Luna had the dream job, traveling and documenting every step of the way.  Camels and Chocolate was honored as the best travel blog in 2009 and 2010, which is well deserved.

I first commented when she posted a questionnaire about her readers.  Great way to get to know who was reading her blog.  I brought up the story of how my mother would see Kristin's site when I visited my parents' house, and how she could ask if I was 'visiting that camel cupcake site again.'  I thought it was hilarious.  So did Kristin when she read it, and we exchanged a few emails.  I told her advice on how to enjoy Ibiza without the club scene, and we bonded over the FIFA World Cup.

In her latest post about her amazing wedding, there was a shout out for Camel Cupcakes.  I felt honored and delighted that an offhand observation my mother had about a pink website stuck.  So as such, I have a photo that I think Kristin would enjoy.

Arabian Coast, Tokyo DisneySea, Chiba, Japan
Click photo to enlarge.

Here's to Camel Cupcakes, mighty delicious and maybe a little sandy.

31 July 2010

Meadows of Sin, Las Vegas

The first time I visited Vegas, I was two months shy of my twenty-first birthday. Everyone lamented that fact, but actually I relished being able to walk around during the hot day and laugh at the stumbling gamblers. I only had a half-day layover, as I was on my way to visit a friend in Los Angeles. I knew I was just taking inventory, logging a feel for the Strip when I would inevitably return.

And finally this past February, five years later, I was able to celebrate Olive's little brother TJ's own twenty-first birthday. There were about twelve of us staying at various hotels along the Strip.


The Venetian, Las Vegas, Nevada
venetian
Click photo to enlarge.


Olive's parents had a complimentary suite at The Venetian. This is a photo from the north side pool area. I just happened to glance up as we made our way back to their room after watching the sunset. The symmetry and clean lines struck me as masterful. Las Vegas architecture has always fascinated me, constantly reinventing new hotels and casinos.  Not surprising for a four mile stretch that nineteen of the world's twenty five largest hotels by room count call home.