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Archive for June, 2013

Times Square Too

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I’m used to seeing the naked cowboy posing in his BVD’s for tips. He could never play his guitar but it was a good place to keep the money. This cowgirl wannabe is a thin emaciated Hispanic male claiming that he can’t speak. The general reaction from the public was to shy away. He was too weird – even for New York.  The Statue of Liberty was working the same piece of turf and doing a fair business. A shot with “Liberty” was at least New York.

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Twins? There was another Statue working Central Park. A good idea isn’t limited to a single location.

Melted! June 6, 2013, High Noon

jeddahWell, summer slipped in and wow! I have never seen a temperature so high. “Ah! But, it’s a dry heat.” Isn’t that what they always say? I was pretty hot on the ride home. The bus was not blowing much A/C. I thought the driver was not running it. But maybe he was and we just couldn’t cool the vehicle in this heat. Anyway, it’s not bad. You follow the simple rule: Stay indoors out of the heat. The Hospital certainly has enough A/C going. So I’ve been in Maine in the dead of winter and tapped the Volvo’s instrument panel to see if it was stuck when it read -13 degrees (Digital? You know). And now it’s 117 degrees. Well, it wasn’t Antarctica then and it’s not Hell now.


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Male and female – really! Julia looked it up.

So, it’s officially a year here in Saudi Arabia. What can say to this life changing year that has been like no other? The biggest event was in learning to scuba dive. So far, I have flown a helicopter, skiied, and followed photography as major interests and hobbies. I have minored in golf. Well, there are some friends who know my golf skill, or lack thereof, and will attest that I’m out to have a good time riding the cart. The only unfulfilled thing on my list was to skydive. Both my kids have tandem jumped so I guess it’s vicarious pleasure from them to me. I have loved, married, had kids, and watched them grow up. I think my own parents would have been proud of what I have done.

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It’s Julia! Yup, she dives. And proudly – I think she’s better than me.

To have only one life, I can say I have few regrets. I’ve had a pretty good time. I’ve been privileged to touch and save some lives. I’ve done some surgery that has been nothing short of wonderful and there are folks who lived a better life because of it. And, with it I remember sadly that you cannot save everyone. At this point the adventure continues and I am doing things that are not naturally within my comfort zone. I have been to and will visit some places I might not have otherwise had opportunity to see.

Photography remains my main interest. It keeps pushing me to new adventures. So as I look ahead there’s a lot to do and plenty to keep me occupied.

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Yes! Octopus! No tentacles? You go in and try and pull it out.

Times Square


It is and always has been funky. It was pretty sleazy for a while but that’s cleaned up quite a lot. Don’t be mistaken. There’s a ton of police presence and plenty of video surveillance. That doesn’t mean that they don’t allow characters. You can see Disney – Mickey etc, Sesame – Elmo etc, and then there are unique characters unto New York.


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It is and always has been funky. It was pretty sleazy for a while but that’s cleaned up quite a lot. Don’t be mistaken. There’s a ton of police presence and plenty of video surveillance. That doesn’t mean that they don’t allow characters. You can see Disney – Mickey etc, Sesame – Elmo etc, and then there are unique characters unto New York.


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No matter what you wear, most people will pass by without so much as a glance. Outrageous is commonplace.


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I have lots of chances to get shots of the tulips. So you have to look for a different point of view. It’s always worth a shot to shoot the center of the flower. Shadows can be tricky. I got this one at Columbus Circle on my walk around the city.

There’s No Free Lunch!

Billy and Lilly.To make a long story and out of order with my blog, I relate the following saga. Here’s the picture sent to me by email for potential adopted Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppies – Billie and Lillie. Cute! And generally worth thousands of dollars, the owner is listed in New Zealand and is giving them up for adoption because her mom just died and she doesn’t want to care for them. So for the price of shipment, she will send them to me – from Doha, Qatar to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia all for the paltry price of $420. This includes travel crate, shots, documents, papers, microchip and more than you want to know. After a few emails back and forth. She agreed to send both dogs and would make arrangements with a pet courier who would deliver the dogs to my doorstep. aps

No muss no fuss. Here’s the problem. I found the ad for puppy adoption on a website for expats advertising free dogs. In fact English bulldogs were first on the list. No dice – they weigh in at 50 pounds – too much for me. But seeing several ads, I responded and waited.

Here’s where it got dicey. The responses to the three ads that I received all sounded vaguely similar, as though it was the same person who responded to me. The New Zealand response used grammar of the Middle East as opposed to Kiwi. I tried to get some info regarding the background of the owner – no success. She simply said, “Do you want them or not?!” And of course if you know the value of two cute purebred puppies, who’s gonna get picky? I’m close enough to buy a plane ticket and escort the dogs myself – “No.” Mrs Pamela said.

Saying “Mrs Pamela” as she called herself is a Middle East style as I am frequently called Dr Victor. I don’t know why. But they use the title and your first name. It’s just not a Kiwi kind of thing. And then there were grammatical phrases more Middle East then elsewhere. My suspicions mounted, but there was always that ‘free lunch’ that was promised.

Well, after some more back and forth, the only information I had to reveal was name, address, and phone number. No one asked for a social security number or other identification. No background check and no identity theft warning signs. So, I said ok, go ahead, send them.

The response was, “I’ve sent the info to the courier service and they will contact you.” And they did. First by email, but I wasn’t home. So they called my cellphone. And I was told to send $420 from a Western Union place to a post office box address. Since I was at work it was some hours later that I looked at the email. The color title identified the courier company complete with testimonials and confirmed phone number… just no address. So I tried a look up for the phone number. Isn’t the internet great? At least it’s in Doha. But there’s no “Animal Pet Courier Services.” In fact the first three internet search listings are for pet scam notices. It seems that folks send a small amount of money and then get sucked into a spiral of sending more and more money, all the while never receiving a dog. There was a Youtube story of a man who ran a legitimate courier service and the scammers used his logo and website to make a bogus site.

I guess you could call this a close call. But this scam like so many others will work on someone else. The ads are all over the classified ads in the expat websites. There’s no disclaimer and no warning. But even on the internet, you gotta have a traceable address. It’s just that if you have an address, then you can be caught and prosecuted. Anyway, getting a dog into Saudi is a load of paperwork! I’m having enough trouble just getting my kids into the country on a visit. They had to produce a copy of their birth certificate for the Saudi embassy. As for free lunch… it was too good to be true indeed! Oh, and since this is a photoblog, there is no meta data on Billie & Lillie’s picture. So the alleged owner stripped out the info intentionally from a photo copied from somewhere else.

In fact, as I write, they are calling again and again from Doha. But I have caller ID and it seems that they keep using this same unknown, unidentified phone number. Give it up guys…

WTC Memorial

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It’s open to the public. I haven’t been there yet. Once again there is something of historical significance to have a shot while the construction is still in progress. This is a view that won’t be repeated. I watched the dedication on TV at the 10th year anniversary – James Taylor, You Can Close Your Eyes and Paul Simon, Sounds of Silence. It was pretty powerful stuff.

City Hall Park

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I just love this shot of having a snack surrounded by the petals in a light rain. ‘Nuff said. And then again, I had the good fortune to catch the tulips from high atop a building overlooking the park. It’s a good idea to always have a camera handy. I’m a full time tourist these days and always have a camera close by.

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World Trade Center, Freedom Tower

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The recent news is that the tower is topped. They have positioned the antenna and will complete the outer structure soon. I’m glad to have an opportunity to get these shots. They will be unique, a one of kind memory. From here on you can only get shots of the completed building.


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And when you happen to be traveling without a camera, an iPhone at least gets you a shot.


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Well, I’ve been roasting nuts for a long time. My mom did it when I was younger. Lisa liked them and asked for the recipe. Her request got a vague answer. I’ve put a lot of things into the recipe but simply it is sugar, salt, and a little vanilla. Roast until crunchy. The hard part is to not overshoot the roasting as the nuts still cook from the heat of the oven. (Lisa’s tip) I’m finally handing down the recipe since Julia recently asked how to do it. It will be nice for her to take on the tradition.IMG_2239 copy