Gee, I haven’t seen this stuff since the astronauts went up. To the right are large containers of powdered milk also. I mean really large containers; look closely. They are like gallon size and enough to make gallons and gallons of drink. Super market? Nope. Airport lounge. Huh? Where are you going? What travel destination beckons where you would stop off in the duty free shop and get a couple containers of Tang for the road. Which, by the way, they don’t sell any powdered drinks in the super market – diet ice tea and such. But Tang, you can’t get enough, I guess. Don’t be late to the airport, you won’t have enough time to shop for Tang.
I’ve been back about three months after my first trip home. I had to return through Riyadh. I ignored the travel desk’s recommendation to return nonstop a day later. The trip through Riyadh meant a three hour layover in the airport. Not enough time to go out and see anything but no so long that I would be miserable. I have an iTouch and iPod – music, reading, what have you.
Landing at about 6:30PM in Riyadh, first I had to clear customs with my bottle of soy. After repacking everything – you have to wonder what the customs guy thought of my Paula Deen pan – I had to wander around to the domestic airline side. It wasn’t easy. And I’m a guy, so we don’t ask questions or directions. But I had plenty of time and arrived in this very large waiting lounge that had at least a dozen gates.
The departure board was like any other and listed the flights, times, and gates. My flight departed at 9PM. At 8PM I stood by the board and waited for a gate announcement. My boarding pass did not have a gate listing. After waiting till 9PM, I assumed that the flight was delayed for some reason. Wrong! The first message on the board next to my flight was “Departed.” Yup! It left without me. I was actually more worried about the luggage and that damn ‘pan.’
Well the confusion and stress that ensued was monumental. I held the airline responsible. They probably announced the gate in Arabic and left it at that. I was bounced to the standby counter and shifted back and forth from agent to agent, all of whom were no help. Finally someone in customer service put me on the 1AM flight. I had already missed a shot on the 10PM, 11PM, and midnight flight. Ah ha!! It’s the gateway to Mecca. Everyone goes at all hours to Jeddah. So it was never a matter of waiting overnight.
Going to Mecca, there were many pilgrims wearing what I will call ‘bed spreads.’ Yes I know it has a name but I depend on someone to fill in the blank. It’s so that you are a humble pilgrim and not above anyone else in the eyes of God. It’s still bed spreads.
Well here I am on and among a plane full of pilgrims. We arrive at sometime before 3AM and the hospital driver has been waiting patiently since 10PM. I did try to call but I’m not sure if they ever really understood. My bags are sitting off to the side as unclaimed luggage so I’m out in 30 seconds. We trundle the luggage cart through the parking lot to the car, throw the bags in the trunk, and I turn to get into the car. The driver looks up and says, ‘…you have the keys?’
Yes, after all this, he threw the keys in the trunk and locked us out. A call to the hospital and another driver was on the way. With another key? No, he was coming with a crow bar and other tools to break into the car. They don’t keep extra keys at night. Another hour and we were on the way to my villa. You just can’t make this stuff up.
In order to visit Jeddah, you need a lot of paperwork in order. First you need a visa invitation. That would mean that I have to have HR cut a request for a visit from my daughter. They turned her down. She’s coming for a week. They requested 3 months – denied! Then we went and asked for 30 days. OK! But I had to take the application to the visa office myself and then stand on three lines and talk with 4 people and then they said ok. And I don’t speak Arabic. Now I have to have her send a copy of her birth certificate to prove she’s my daughter. They say it will be harder for my son; and forget my brother. Can anything be more complicated? So the visa invitation is addressed to the New York consulate office near the UN. I have to send everything to Washington DC. But since the invitation is addressed NY, they will mail it back to NY and then process from Washington. Don’t ask and I don’t want to know. Bottom line – who knows if this will all happen? I’m not holding my breath.
I would have to say that going online, buying a ticket, getting on the plane, and just go – never sounded so good.
I can’t say how I came up with this idea. On my last day in Dar es Salaam, I was going to take a walk. The hotel told me that I mustn’t walk alone. I had already done this at the beginning of the trip (and survived). But heeding the warning now, I hired a car and driver. I asked him to take me to the local fish market. I had had some success in the market of Stone Town and figured I could kill a few hours before my flight. It turned out to be a great time. No one seemed to mind me wandering about. I got to shoot local people and get a sense of the daily life one does not ordinarily encounter.
I put together this landscape. It’s interesting enough to me because the main element is my family in lower right. We had stopped by this pond/lake and there were hippos in the water. It was a non-event. The hippos were just noses barely poking out from the surface. You don’t go close to hippos. They will kill you. They have skulls in which there are teeth that look like they were derived from a saber-toothed tiger. I didn’t know they were so dangerous. But they never let us get near.
The big five… if you look them up, they are on the list of every big game hunter. We actually saw them all within one day on this trip. Amazing! Rhinos are special. We saw a few. We were fortunate. Our guide was staring off in the distance and then suddenly we tore off bouncing and throwing up a big tail of dust. They (rhinos) don’t see too well. But they don’t feel to threatened by a vehicle. So we were able to get some close-in shots before he trotted away.
I suppose that when birds eat fish whole, it makes sense to them. Eagles tear their food apart. But this guy was going to swallow lunch in one gulp. He spent quite a while attempting to get this done. First the fish had to be turned head first. It doesn’t go down tail first easily. It (fish) kept flopping so it would be lost if the bird lost its grip. And there were other birds waiting just to grab this fish if there was any mistake. Yes, he did swallow it whole. Didn’t mom always say to ‘chew?’
The big cats are hard to see. They just don’t like to be where people are present. Go figure. It’s probably good because I have no desire to be a next meal. This early morning we arrived in the Serengeti and our guide took us straight to this spot. The evening before this leopard had made a kill. Here he was calmly munching on wildebeest. It was quiet enough to hear the bones crunch. By the next morning there was nothing left to see of the carcass. You would never have known it had been consumed in a day. Timing, it’s pretty special. We were very fortunate to have come at the right time.
We stayed in a place that did work with children. These were kids that were housed, educated, and protected. There are a great many organizations doing good works. This hotel was run by a couple of Dutch physicians who had built a children’s home and were using the hotel to help support their work.
Sometimes you have to laugh. Both kids had the urge to stick their noses where they shouldn’t go. Hmm… you have to wonder why. Just a bit of humor. I didn’t take the shots with this in mind. They just happened to pair up in Lightroom that way. I think that my daughter would undoubtedly say that girls are smarter.
The trigone of the lateral ventricle is where the temporal horn and occipital horn branch off. It’s an anatomical point in brain anatomy, in radiological imaging and in neurosurgical anatomy. So to come upon a store with this name in Paris, it tickled my fancy. I’m sure it makes sense in French. But it’s amusing in English.
Mixed light and night shots are pretty tricky using slide film. There’s no way to ‘chimp’ (check your image). There’s no preview. The film is whatever you’ve loaded. You can’t change white balance, ISO, add or subtract effects or set the scene to night shot. Wow, it was pretty tough in the dark ages before iPhone. Then again sometimes you get more than you hoped for or less than what you wanted.
We are at the eastern most point on the north fork of Long Island. It’s the terminus for the ferry. This ferry has had a significant part in our lives. It connects Long Island to New London, Connecticut. It is the way to summer camp, friends, skiing, Maine and so many events. It’s not a regular trip but we’ve made it often enough for the scene to be familiar. Like everything else, I take a picture of the lighthouse on each trip. Sometimes you like the shot better than others.
Where were we? Well, it was Don and I. We had rented a car and left the meeting in Cancun to travel south to Playa Del Carmen. We sat on the nude beach and had tacos while some bikini clad girl sold us some jewelry which we bought for our wives. And there by the roadside was this brilliant restaurant set against a bright blue sky. I like the graphic and the instant memory of where I was at that moment.
Costa Rica. I got three shots (one post). It rains – obviously. He’s made friends with a random dog. And here’s his imitation of an eagle – vulture. His sister was on another trip. Two weeks with a teenager gets you quality time and some silly candids. His sister had already been to Costa Rica. Her complaint was that we had better accommodations. Of course we did.
I would have to say that there is always an unwritten competition. So I have been warned to give equal billing to my kids. It’s good that I have one of each so that I can say that Julia is my favorite daughter and David is my favorite son. Costa Rica apparently is a surfing destination. When we visited there wasn’t much surf to speak of. However, David hopped up on a board without a lesson and rode on in. I guess his ski skills helped. And of course the waves aren’t too challenging. But I have to say it’s not bad for the first time without a lesson.
Yes, we were pretty nuts. Ok, I was nuts. I let the kids do it. I let them because they asked. Yes, nuts. We all had a good time. They were fearless but careful enough not to ski recklessly. It’s a boost to accomplish this feat. Since we have been on challenging trails before, I cannot recall that this was more difficult than any other time. It just made us pause before proceeding. We’ve been on plenty of trails made difficult by the weather and conditions. It’s not the sign that matters as much as common sense. Huh?
What’s missing is the sound track. In the rain forest of Costa Rica, they have a zip line experience. It was a rainy foggy day as is usual. In the mist and rain, I had camera and video on my person as usual. My son kept saying that his mother would never go. So because of that statement the guides singled her out for first ride. If she went, no one else would hesitate. So there she is screaming her head off, zipping along into the fog. I ask why you would hold your legs up when there is nothing for hundreds of feet below, but it’s a natural reaction. I went swinging with camera and video, somehow managing to hold onto everything. Yeah it could have used a sound track.
Costa Rica. We were on the last leg of the trip and found a beach where iguanas were everywhere. How could I know? They were about on the walks, walls, and on the grass, posing for my camera. What fun! I got my share of photo ops.
Well, to be honest I didn’t really see/find this one. Farid found a coral encrusted pipe and went back to poke at a hole in the coral. I wasn’t sure that was such a wise idea. Then the octopus started moving. Ah! So that’s what it is. I was having diving gear malfunction. My BCD was making me float upward so it that it was hard to get in close. The octopus has not much color, shape, or contrast. Focus was a problem. Actually everything was a problem – light, shutter speed, white balance, flash – too many variables to juggle. In this series you see the blob of two octopi that Farid poked and prodded. Finally a splash of ink and it disappeared. It’s as close as we got and it was the best I could do.
I’ve had Bell’s palsy and though the condition resolved, I still notice some residual symptoms. It would bear to keep this in mind especially when diving.
When I first developed the condition, I was surprised to speak to so many people who volunteered that they had suffered this problem and recovered without any outward signs. Briefly the condition is a facial weakness/paralysis that comes on spontaneously. The cause is really unknown. In my case it occurred on a weekend and for a moment I entertained the thought of a stroke. After some tense weeks the facial weakness resolved. At this point my motor strength is full and the face is symmetrical except when I am fatigued. Then there is enough residual to notice an asymmetry.
As to diving, I began lessons and qualified as an advanced open water diver in the PADI course over the summer. As I became more experienced I noticed that there were problems clearing/equalizing my left ear. Presently I hold my nose and after the right side opens, I quickly swallow and the left side then opens up. After the dive, I have the feeling of fullness and increased bone conduction which subtly affects my hearing. I have puzzled over this and cleaned my ears to no avail. Finally I looked up the anatomy and realize that the Eustachian tube opens by a muscle. That same muscle is controlled by the facial nerve (Bell’s palsy). So it is the mild subtle residual weakness in the nerve which makes the left side equalize more slowly.
A word to all divers who have had Bell’s palsy, perhaps this will reassure and allow you to compensate better. It took a while for me to reach this “aha!!” moment.
You can actually get a hotel room on the mountain with a splendid view of the volcano spewing glowing rock at night. We didn’t… budget… or choice. We had pretty nice accommodations. Julia stayed much more rustic when she visited with her youth group. I had a bunch of volcano shots and picked this one. It’s an editorial decision. So many shots and this is the one I chose. Another day another time, I might pick another. It was a pretty nice view so close to an active volcano.
It’s called bokeh. Ah, they make up terms for everything. I understand depth of field and blurring the background to male it pleasingly out of focus in order to complement the foreground. It’s all summed up in ‘bokeh.’ Yup, Costa Rica. I had to look it up, the place. Oh, it’s a bird of paradise, the flower, that is.
Red is danger? We’re hiking the rain forest in Costa Rica and our guide points out this red tree frog. All I remember is that brightly colored frogs in the rain forest are poisonous. This little guy wouldn’t poison me. Would he?