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Archive for November, 2013

Deep Dish Pizza – It’s Pizza Hut!!

IMG_1634I may have written about Pizza Hut before. Pardon me. I am photographing restaurant food lately if I’m not shooting the fishies. I have to say that I was never ever in a Pizza Hut while in the USA. So it is no small measure to say how desperate one can become if you need to choose eating establishments by what is within walking distance. Like everywhere else, it’s made by Filipinos here. And it might surprise you to know that many pizzerias in the NY are now run by Albanians. I know, but that’s what someone told me. Deep dish pizza is better in Chicago and even in Uno’s but ‘any port in a storm’ so they say. Yup, by golly! That’s a glass of Mountain Dew… might as well go all in.IMG_1636

Pufferfish Capture

I periodically get email from some of my silent readers. You know who you are. Carol, in particular asked me to change subjects gently cajoling that she was waterlogged. I apologize and will switch from sea to land in a few days. One of patients recently came with dive photos that I had taken. He’d looked me up on the ‘net. It’s got me worried about making any political misstatements and getting into trouble. (By the way all you folks who read me are welcome, really, to comment and let me know you’re there. The feedback helps.)

For example: We have recently taken on a group of Chinese nurses. They speak English but it is as a second language. I insulted one unintentionally in the OR. The light was dim so I asked for a candle. (It was a joke. Get it?) You’re doing serious surgery here. And to ask for a candle was just to break up the tension. There’s usually a pause and … then a nervous laugh. (Am I really serious?) The Chinese nurse thought that I had said ‘condom.’ Honest, I did not mispronounce ‘candle.’ The Filipino nurses all laughed and later corrected the Chinese nurse (I am Chinese American, by the way.) but the insult had been made. Really, it’s hard to defend against candle. Maybe she’s never seen a candle? So you must forgive me if I refrain from commenting about the Middle East too much these days. There’s a lot of political turmoil. Being misunderstood seems to have been a habit with me. And if the wrong people (paranoia?) read me, I could be deported. Yeah, they do that too. (They disallow beheading these days… it seems they can’t find qualified swordsman.)

One more example and this happened in Maine: My patients often need to be shaved before surgery. We do it at the last second to try to limit infection. One day I finished the shave and made a sound like I was blowing away the hair. (It’s a joke!) I did this through my scrub mask. I later had to defend a complaint from the circulating nurse that I had removed my mask in the OR and had broken sterile rules. The nurse ( a male) had his back to me when I made the sound. I know it and he did too. But still I managed to misfire. Some days you believe you are working with idiots.

IMG_3169This incident actually occurred before my night dive experience. The instructor was a bit of a crazy guy. He suddenly lurched and shot his hand into the coral. Out he came with a puffer. I got some shots. I was too excited to white balance and expose properly. But you get the idea. And that’s not my wrist bracelet. The girl we were with wouldn’t let go and she took the terrified puffer all the way back to shore before she released him. As I said, I believe they are puffed on water, hence the squishy feeling when you hold them. I didn’t want to do it, but they sort of thrust it into my hand.


IMG_1665One thing about eating out as a single is that I usually have the whole section to myself. Perhaps it’s the hour that I eat.IMG_1666


Most folks like to eat around midnight. And maybe that has contributed to the enormous obesity problem. Anyway the dumplings look like NY but they are definitely not! As I said recently, sizzling anything is reasonably decent. Here it’s chicken.IMG_1672

IMG_1669They look like NY dumplings. But the taste is entirely different and not altogether great.

Cleaning Station

IMG_3748 aThe wrasse is a small fish that thrives on cleaning other fish. It is a beneficial service so the wrasse doesn’t seem become a meal for other fish. I have seen them work on many different fish. It’s just hard to capture an image. They are so small. But I have seen it done, so I wait for an opportunity. I got a bunch of shots of this cleaning session. And I got the moray with it’s teeth out. Yes, this was a shot worth imagining. I’m glad to have caught it.



IMG_1647There’s a lot to learn here. First it is against the rules to show faces. So it is routine to have missing faces in advertisements. This is all well and good until a patient arrives in the clinic with a completely veiled face or at most the eyes showing. Then they ask me if I remember them. It would not be polite to laugh. But seriously…..!

Behind closed doors, high walls, and covered windows someone is pretty racy. Ah? Remember Victorian England? One more comment – no one is as thin as the display models. When the average BMI is way over 30….

And men were this style like a suit. If you look there are choices in color. But 95% or more are all wearing white. So it is unusual for me to notice there’s any color choice.

IMG_1646And men wear this style like a suit. If you look there are choices in color. But 95% or more are all wearing white. So it seems unusual for me to notice there’s any color choice.


Hey, Cool! … and Happy Thanksgiving

web2 Right there! It says ‘Happy Thanksgiving – photobackstory.’ I am absent from Thanksgiving holiday in NY once again. Farid’s kids are off today. They go to the American International School. So naturally they have off for the holiday. He graciously suggested we have dinner. He was reminded of that quintessential menu item – “Gravy.” Well, that’s true but it does need a turkey to go with it. Where to eat? I started a web search for a restaurant in Jeddah where we could go. I’d also pay for dinner if I could get the bill first. Nonetheless, there are no viable suggestions. I tried the American junk food places – McD, Burger King, of course not; Fuddruckers, no way; Friday’s, Tuesday’s, not a thing on their website or anywhere else about Jeddah. No American chain hotels. To be honest until Farid suggested, I was just going to have a very quiet dinner out. I was going to drag my iPad along and read a digital book and look at the many photographs of the fishies I have shot. We’ll dive in the Red Sea tomorrow, of course.

There! Right there on my search page screen capture. It’s even on the first page! There’s a reference to my blog post last Thanksgiving. It’s irrelevant to my search. But the tags and key words put me on the first page of the search engine. That is too cool! It also means there is no where you can hide. (Note to myself: “self, don’t put anything into your blog that you would be embarrassed if your mother should read it.”) … which means that no one will be seeing anything about the inside workings of the world of neurosurgery anytime soon. It would prove way too politically incorrect. I have no particular desire to be the nail that gets hammered. Happy Thanksgiving again to one and all for whom this is a significant day (which excludes most of the rest of the world). web search…For the historical record, I had dinner with Farid and Silva, and the kids. They both (the kids) passed out by the end of dinner. We ate after 9PM in an Italian restaurant. It was quite a find. I have been up and down this boulevard countless times and never looked up to see a restaurant on the 4th floor with an outdoor balcony (smoking). The menu had hamburger, and spring rolls. I had veal scaloppine – after all it’s Italian. It was breaded, deep fried, and very tender. It wasn’t Turkey (Friday’s or Chinese), but it was very flavorful and enjoyable. I fought once again but lost out in paying. It wasn’t family; it was close friends and that’s a wonderful thing too.


IMG_3792 aThere are thousands of different ones. We were down at about 90 feet. At this depth, color is almost monotone. It’s funny because my eye still sees color or at least I imagine color. When I get home and post process, it is amazing how much color is missing. Here’s where it is imperative to use flash. The problem is that my mind thinks faster than I can change settings. Flash requires changing back to daylight white balance setting. Well this critter doesn’t move quickly so I had a chance to get some shots. There is a strong tendency to overexpose. All too often the exposure is not quite right so I am thankful that digital gives me the opportunity to shoot more than one image.IMG_3793 a




I hadn’t intended to do much for Thanksgiving. It’s not a holiday here. But the market had some chestnuts (from China). I kept remembering the tainted milk. All the produce is labeled with its country of origin. I got an Egyptian pomegranate and bananas from the Philippines. IMG_1858

So I shelled the chestnuts. IMG_1854

Everyone I speak with has a different way to do it. I’ve used a microwave, boiling hot water, and oven roasting. I went with roasting. As usual there were a bunch of molded spoiled nuts. There’s nothing you can do, it’s built into the process. I had a pumpkin that was a chance spontaneous purchase a couple weeks ago. IMG_1850

Pumpkins last forever and I imagined a pumpkin onion side dish. But after cutting it and roasting, it looked more like soup. IMG_1861

So I made a passable soup. It reminded me of the soup my daughter took over a few years ago. She took the recipe my wife used in the Silver Palate cookbook. Anyway it was a good soup. I had some fresh bread, cheese, and corn fritters. It reminds me that sliced white bread is sold in the market. But it is the flat breads and all the other variations, which make bread so much fun. There is focaccia, Egyptian, Ethiopian, and you name it. I never see the same thing twice. The price can be as low as 25 cents. It turns out that this is a real bargain. You just have to remember not to indulge too vigorously.

  IMG_1860   Honey, cheese, Egyptian bread

IMG_1862Add corn fritters

IMG_1852  I like to multitask while cooking. So I was roasting peanuts as well. The have loads of beans, grains, and nuts available in the market.  IMG_1847I made all this stuff weeks ago and enjoyed it thoroughly. For Thanksgiving I’ll phone home and then avoid turkey sandwiches.

Anemone Mouth

IMG_3800 aI make the assumption that this is a mouth. It could be the nether end of the alimentary canal. Or I could be wrong in assigning a name to the structure. Anyway, it’s what Farid and I concluded. For all the times we see anemones this structure is usually well hidden. I had always considered anemone a coral but it is indeed an animal. And like many things under the sea it stings.


IMG_1619It’s a decent restaurant – Chinese of course. And it’s part of an international chain. They have branches in Lebanon. (I didn’t think they were that good.)IMG_1622Lately they give you roasted cashew nuts and raw carrots. A tart flavored tea is also complimentary. There’s a flower on the table. IMG_1621

It’s a better ambiance than the other restaurant I recently wrote about. IMG_1625

The duck roll is really Peking Duck style. I’ve given up on soup because it’s way too starchy. For main courses, I’ve discovered that no one does too much to kill ‘sizzling’ whatever. So you are safe with beef or chicken. Otherwise the sauces can really kill a dish.IMG_1633

White Stonefish

IMG_4142This guy took up residence right by the stairs everyone uses to get into the water. He lay there among the rocks for about three days in plain sight. To look from the surface above he looked like a white piece of pollution someone had discarded. Scores of divers passed him without realizing he was right there, twelve inches below. And I would have missed him too if my dive buddy had not been eagle eyed. Though he was white his coloration did blend rather well with the surrounding rocks.


IMG_1616When I am able to drive around, I am rewarded with some nice sunsets. This is near the Corniche (beach). The pollution from the nearby desalinization plants gives a wonderful evening hue. I apologize for the light poles. I was just passing and pulled over to the side, rolled down the window, and shot as cars were passing me.


IMG_3852 aYou swim along and look for movement under the coral. The light is bad but the point and shoot cameras often surprise me. I assume, but I cannot be sure, this is an octopus. It looks like tentacles to me. As soon as I got this image, it moved away under the coral. I was just lucky that I spotted the motion. I’ll say it again. These critters are very shy and hard to spot. Every time you see one, you feel it’s special.


IMG_1606This restaurant would otherwise be the equivalent of a Brazilian churrascaria. Basically it’s the same setup – salad followed by grilled meat carved from the skewer at the table. You eat till you drop. Our nurses eat like birds so that the consumption of large quantities of meat is lost on them. I had a great time. It was a meal sponsored by one of the drug companies – a touchy subject these days. And the representative was stuck in traffic so she arrived for dessert. Me, I was just along for the ride. I was told to show up and I did. One thing that our nurses enjoy is taking group pictures. So we did.IMG_1611

IMG_1604The restaurant was part of a hotel. There no accounting for what passes for stylish sometimes.


Christmas Tree Something

IMG_3857 aI apologize for not having the name before I posted the picture. It retracts into the coral when threatened. And it is bright and colorful. But it’s darned hard to find and photograph. And it certainly looks like a tasty morsel. I imagine that the color is a warning. So far, I have learned that you don’t touch anything. Most things have a bite or a sting. And need I mention that they don’t call it ‘fire coral’ because of the color. With all the detail you can see, this is a pretty nice shot. Most of the other times I have images with far less detail… far less. What nature designs is sometimes pretty amazing.

Growing Up


While Farid and his wife were away, their kids were with Grandma. As an act of good will I took the kids to the amusement park. They have a setup in many of the big malls here. This mall actually had an ice skating rink. Nicholas was excited to skate until we got on line and then he claimed he didn’t want to do it. No amount of cajoling could get him to put on a pair of skates. He’d been skating before but I think he just got a little nervous and scared. Ok. But which rides did the kids want to do. Kelly is younger by about two years. The rides she liked (merry go round) were too young for Nicholas and he told me so. I got Kelly on some rides too young for her but she was fine. Kelly made me ride on one with her that left me queasy and dizzy. Oh great! Then I made Nicholas go on a ride with Kelly that tilted, swayed and swung. He didn’t like it but he put up with it. Ah! It’s so touching to see kids grow up and outgrow things in such a hurry.IMG_1773This ride is a bit childish, but it was no problem.

IMG_1776No skating. Not quite ready for the big roller coaster. He said the merry go ’round was for babies.

IMG_1784Snacktime – a cup of corn, healthy. Salted but just corn. I’d have gone for pop corn. But nope, it was a cup of corn each.

Bright Red Crab

IMG_4893It looks like it’s all cooked up and ready to eat. Or, maybe it’s part of why they call it the Red Sea? I can understand why I don’t see anything like this during the day. It would be too tempting to pass up. You realize that the color red fades as you dive deeper. But that doesn’t mean that the animals don’t have red color.

Where were you… 1963 1965 1977 2001 2003 … fifty years on.

_DSC8168 copy10th Anniversary 2011, spotlights represent the fallen towers

In a ‘roundabout way I will meander and recall the Kennedy assassination of 1963. It will be soon fifty years ago. When did I get so old?



Borrowed Car


I was driving Farid’s car for a few days while he was away. My nurses have been pretty wonderful in making life a bit easier. So I took them on a field trip as a way of thanking them. Jen runs my clinic. The other Jen is my OR nurse. They are both left handed like me. Anna joined Jen and is not left handed. We went over to the Corniche (beach) and caught the sunset – not too spectacular this particular night. Then we ate in a Chinese restaurant. Hey! I gave them a choice and this is where we ended up. Finally there was a late night shuffle through the Balud – the old city. We ended in a Body Shop – just like the USA – where I stood outside (family only- female). What I did not know was that it is illegal to be out with a woman not your relative. Come to think of it I have been single with other families. But anyway, I read somewhere that it is forbidden to be out with single women, morality and all that. So here I was with three (women) and in trouble again without realizing it.

IMG_1709The sunset is sometimes a whole lot better. But this night it was the company more than the sunset.

IMG_1710It’s a palace that’s been under construction for many years.

IMG_1718They sell a variety of food from the carts. French fries in hot oil is not too appetizing in 100 degree heat. They will grill corn directly on burning hot coals.

IMG_1746At the Balud (old city) fashion rules. There are about five logos embroidered below the pocket in case you’re not sure who you support.

IMG_1745Taking a closer look at this shirt would probably give me a seizure. Did I miss a turn or are the fashion police looking the other way?

This reminds me of another way to get into trouble around here. English is really a second language for everyone else. Most of the MD’s are Arabic speaking. Our nurses are mostly Filipino except for batch of new Chinese nurses recruited by the last nursing administrator. One day it was dim in the OR. One of the spotlights we use had a missing bulb. I asked for a candle. (It’s a joke!) Usually the nurses ignore me. Once in a while they pause and actually look to see if I’m serious. I never get a candle. (To be honest I’m old and I need more light to see. – Another joke.) On this particular day the new Chinese nurse took exception to my request for a candle. What did I say? She just stopped talking to me. No, I don’t speak Chinese. What?! Well she told Jen, my regular nurse, I had just insulted/embarrassed her asking for a condom. Huh!?!? It doesn’t sound the same and in the context of the OR I suppose a condom or a candle were both strange requests. I don’t know what to do. They did not fix the lights in any case. Honest! I didn’t make this up and I certainly didn’t intend to insult anyone. IMG_1759At the end of the evening out, the ladies bought bananas – 3kg for 10 SAR about $2.50 – that’s cheap.

Brain Surgery Fish

IMG_3881You see a lot of interesting things and sometimes I don’t. I missed this one until I was post processing. Whoa! There’s a chunk missing from the frontal lobe. He doesn’t seem to be any worse for the striking appearance. I found this image but definitely didn’t take it because of the defect. To make it even more crazy, a few days later, I got the same fish. The defect is hard to duplicate. And with all the fish in the ocean who would ever have expected to run into the same fish again. I have a habit of shooting whatever will pose for me. So I did and here he is again and again. Fascinating.

On The Border

IMG_1696One of my guilty pleasures it to come here. I somehow mistook it for South of the Border or maybe it was the same name in Maine. It took more than a year for me to come here to this place in Jeddah.



They give you a complimentary bowl of chips and salsa. Otherwise you see here a brisket taco. It’s not really Mexican. But it says on the border, just not which border. Dessert is absolutely decadent. It’s a puff pastry kind of dough fritter that comes with a dipping chocolate sauce. I admit I had it once. The second time I took most of it home and finished it over several sittings. And I have not ordered it since then because I know my heart would not tolerate the cholesterol load.


IMG_3877I don’t have the book yet. It may or may not be thus named. It is colorful and skittish. I found one on the reef and was able to follow it. It’s the best I could do. From a rear angle, I like it when I can get a view of the cornea and see the fisheye bulge. Yeah it’s cool. Anyway the spotted pattern makes me think this is as a perforated fish. And the green top?…it’s as though some buff was customizing his sports car and tricked out the finish to make it standout. To be sure this little guy swims about the reef like everyone wants to eat him.


IMG_1682I was looking for the place next door, ended up lost, and wound up in this Italian joint. It’s gender separated and singles/men sit upstairs. IMG_1684


It’s classy enough that they put balsamic vinegar and olive oil on the table. IMG_1685

This time around I had the fritters. IMG_1688

IMG_1686The tomato sauce wedges are complimentary.

IMG_1690The gnocchi is as good as home. I have no complaint.

Feather Star

IMG_4028I showed one of these recently as an “I don’t know what this is, you guess.” My dive buddy told me it was a “fiddle” star but he just had trouble with the pronunciation since the book confirmed what he said, sort of…. They come in a variety. They have feet that attach to the coral. They come out at night and move pretty because you definitely don’t see them in the daytime. They spread out and look very delicate. There is one that looks like an unkempt weed but it is definitely animal.IMG_4050