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.