I post according to what catches my eye at the moment. I photograph eclectically. Stuff. I shoot graphics. I shoot current event. I shoot history. I do fish! I used to photograph my kids a lot. My wife never liked her picture. So there were less and less of them. Random shots. Random thoughts. At least it’s not fish today. I have to break up the line up or else I risk changing the blog to a dive blog. Change, it happens. It’s sort of inevitable. To some of you who know me, this is more meaningful. But there is a Chinese saying, “May you be born in interesting times.” Or, “Every journey begins with the first step.” Or, even more trite, “Today is the last day of the rest of your life.”
Interesting times? How about Trump? Who’d ever have thought he’d be nominated and that a very large number of people are supporting him. Sorry, I guess you can guess my politics. But really, I don’t believe in any of them. No one you elect actually does anything for you. They do so they can be re-elected in the next cycle. Cynical? Maybe.
Change? Yup. Kodak? Film? Who were they? Digital rules. Cameras? Nope. Everyone pretty much uses a smartphone now. The game has changed. Brick and mortar stores are going. You even buy shoes online now. Amazon rules. I haven’t set foot in a store to buy Christmas presents in a few years now. Online sales prices lie to me. MSRP is a come on. No one pays retail. Not for a long long time. So the sales price is a come on too. But no one can hide on the internet. So lowest prices are pretty easy to shop and it’s a whole lot easier than walking or driving. Bye Macy’s. Gimbles is gone. So too are so many other stores. The anchor mall stores here in Saudi are grocery stores. Everyone needs food….for the moment.
Park? I’ve been a nomad for a lot of years now. I never intended nor expected to be. It has been an unparalleled adventure. I would not have willingly mapped it out this way. But moving seems to suit me. My family moved on average every two years till I was eighteen. I told my wife and she gut renovated our apartment twice so we stayed thirty years at one address. My kids lived in different countries on different continents. Risk, adventure, wanderlust? My parents left China to journey to America. They gave me opportunity. I’ve been very lucky and blessed. The timing for me was so very fortunate. There has been badness. But on the whole it’s been pretty nice. I opened Lightroom to look for some images today. Random. But thoughtful. Or as Bing Crosby sang in White Christmas – “….I count my blessings instead of sheep…”
I’m not much of a museum buff. No real photo ops. Still, there are some fun things. American Gothic. A classic. It needs no introduction. It’s in my psyche. So, to see it up close and personal was fun. I’ve been to the Chicago Art Institute before. Darn, if I remember the painting was there. Still is. And will be when I come back. Maybe (I’ll come back)? So my feet are tired and we needed to get a little less serious about all this art. Actually another woman did this first. I actually had an umbrella. But the security guards are too tight assed. I shouldn’t have asked first. Just take out the umbrella, get the shot, and be gone before they notice. But with TSA, one does not mess with Mother Nature. Nope. Not permitted. They strictly told us at the door to carry our back packs in hand and not on our back. It might swing and damage something. Inside people did as they pleased. Too many people disobeying to really try to police. Oh well…civil disobedience. We made light of it all. No rain for days….
Not too often is there something I’d like to see or do. A couple things on my short list would include the exhibition of Chinese human anatomical dissections and another is Cirque du Soleil. SFSG. Riding the bus at the Chicago meeting I noticed signs proudly proclaiming there were terracotta warriors on exhibit at the Field Museum. The entire army is more than 6000. I just finished a novel in which the setting was in China at the site. A chance! Up close! Alas, it wasn’t the 6000 or even close. But there were some. And it was fascinating to read about it. And then I got to see them up close. No I did not get to touch. Many of the warriors were broken into fragments and were painstakingly reassembled and restored. The ultimate puzzle game! And I did not know that they were originally colorful. The dyes had faded with age. Outside the exhibit I got to pose with them. Cute!
I don’t usually go to the museum in a suit. We had rushed over from the meeting witouth time to change. Did I tell you the one where I was at the meeting in Los Angeles? Universal Studios. We had the opening reception there. 2000 or so neurosurgeons showed up for the evening event all dressed in suits. We rode in the trams sitting tall and straight. The bedraggled tourists, kids in tow, leaving at the end of the day, looked upon this rank and file and thought we must have been brought in as extras for Men In Black. Yes. We all wear dark suits. It’s a uniform. No Hawaiian print. Not for this conservative group! Nope. Nada. And the entertainment band was wildly playing out their hearts. Sweat poured in the warm evening. And when the band finished it’s number, the audience stared back at them. No one applauded. Would this be the definition of a stuffed shirt? So I laugh at myself too. And I try not to wear a tie unless I must. But at the national meeting it’s easier to blend in with the boys then to fight city hall. You don’t have to change your suit. No one will notice.
Van Gogh painted his bedroom. It’s famous. It’s been in my subconscious always. I think. I’m not an artist nor too much interested. The Chicago Art Institute is well known. Duh? They put on an exhibition,” Bedrooms.” The lines were out the door. Wisely we looked up the time and found that you could order up a fast pass. Skip the lines. Get into the exhibit fast. Pay extra. Time was money. Paid online an hour before we went. It seemed like cheating. Well, we paid for it, for sure.
Got there, got in, cut across the big line. In! To the exhibit. There’s plenty more to the museum but we wanted to see the exhibit. Go! Front of the line and the man with the bar code scanner said, “Whoa! You have a fast pass but that does not get you into the Van Gogh exhibit.”
“Foul!” I cried. No problem. Back up. Pay $5/per more for entry. Dammit. You’d think that all that other money would have gotten us in…
The fuss? Van Gogh painted his bedroom three different times. Side by side you can see the differences. And otherwise I am sure I have seen this painting. But I never knew there were three versions. Yes, I do brain surgery. I’ve been under a rock. So, look. The background in each version is slightly different. The three paintings make for an interesting exhibit. I am a photographer. I took advantage that the museum let me take pictures. So many people crowded in front and with their smartphones shot a remembrance. Few paused long enough to appreciate the paintings. I mean ten seconds and one smartphone pic later, that’s not terribly fulfilling. But in today’s world you have about fifteen seconds before the next event hits the news cycle.
To be honest, I did not notice the differences until they were pointed out. This is art not science. I gladly claim happy ignorance. Teach me.
No, I won’t photograph my bedroom three times. No one will care a hundred years from now.
Ethiopia is just across the way from the Middle East. And, I traveled to Chicago to eat in an Ethiopian restaurant. The sites on the ‘net recommended it. The food is typical. It has a pancake bread called injera. It’s a sourdough tasting spongy kind of pancake looking bread. That help? You gotta try it. My kids don’t like the taste of the bread. So you order up. The stuff comes on a large flat pan with injera as the base. You get extra injera to dip and eat with. No forks. Fingers! It’s communal. Sharing. You dip in and go. There is an option for gluten free injera. You don’t go away hungry. The place was packed and they’ve been in business a long time.
Did I tell you my birthday adventure many years ago in NY. There was an Ethiopian restaurant a few steps from where I lived. It’s still there. I’m not. I liked it – the restaurant. The family did not like the taste of the bread. So we never went after our initial adventure. On my birthday I was instructed to dress for dinner out. Then I was blindfolded, led down the elevator, and we all got into a waiting cab. The destination was whispered so I had no clue. After a few minutes we arrived in front of the restaurant. Surprise! Sometimes your family makes sacrifices. It was the last time we ate in this restaurant. Fortunately, they did not depend upon us to remain open.
Sadly, a very nice Italian restaurant has closed in Jeddah. It was expensive and had a great veal dish. Their high price was too much for them to survive. Many a night I walked past them to eat in the cheaper Italian place next door. Yeah, cheaper by half. I did have a very nice meal there before it closed. Restaurants come and go in Jeddah. You have to have customers in order to survive. Many a time I have been in places that are nearly empty. Perhaps I go to eat too early.
Conclusion: Ethiopia is a long way away. I stopped there in the airport on the way to Tanzania. I did not eat there. And otherwise my experience with Ethiopian food is less than once every ten years. Don’t bother to leave the light on for me.
Airbnb rocks. Despite what you may hear from the hotel trade, there are some finds. I’ve stayed in hotels whenever I went to a meeting. The designated meeting hotel in each city is about the most expensive after you get discount. The plain flat has a bed and a bath. Been there done that.
And then I discovered Airbnb about two years ago. This time around we took an apartment in Chicago. The strategy is to stay in walking distance to the convention center or one of the meeting hotels. The hotel bus to the convention center is free. I shouldn’t tell this secret. Everyone will rent out space before I do. The apartment was on the 32nd floor. And the view? The downtown landmarks – see them? And it was the whole place including kitchen. I did not need the amenities of a hotel. The only downside was there was no closet space so we hung our clothes on the back of a door. With the view you see here, that’s a small downside. Oh, Chicago’s called the windy city. From up here it definitely was. I think you’d agree that the view at dawn is spectacular. Why? ‘Cause my time zones are still a mess coming from the Middle East. And, ‘cause neurosurgeons like to get up real early to meet in the morning.
Remember the wall? The nine foot one from yesterday? Hey! Sometimes the posts link. Jumping is an art. To do it the lazy way needs no real leap of height. It’s an illusion. Just bend your knees as you go. Then you will look high without hurting yourself. It also helps if the photographer (you know who you are) presses the shutter while you are in the air. Otherwise it looks like you are holding up your hands at a stick up. Hmmmm? That begs the question, do you know what, “Meet you at the pass” means? It’s an old west term from the movies, when the bandits split up to escape the posse. They would say, “Split up. We’ll meet again at the pass.” It seems they don’t say that in the movies any more. And you need to be a certain age (old) to know the term.
So there was this metal bridge in the park that cut over and across the highway.
Neat. It made for a photo op. I did not have time to plan. It was cold and slightly rainy. Windy. Hey, it was Chicago! No standing around in the rain.
Yup. That’s me with Mike. Who? Mike Singletary of the Chicago Bears, Super Bowl Champs of 1985. Yeah, it’s like when were there four Beatles? Who? Who were the Beatles? Old. Me. Yup. The Bears won that year with a marvelous defense. The Giants – my beloved NY team won the following year. The Bears wupped their butts (Giants) on the way to their championship. Too much history? Mike came to speak at our national meeting. Last year it was Peyton Manning. Is there a theme? At least it wasn’t Ben Carson again. Get it? I’m a neurosurgeon and he came out during our last meeting. Not Mike, Ben. Too confusing?
Well, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons meets once a year. And there are invited speakers. We are a very conservative lot. Not me. Them. Maybe there are a few progressives and even some Democrats among us. I, for one, don’t care to have my politics mixed with business. And, no, I don’t wear striped underwear or boxers. Bet you wanted to know that too.
We had Bush – you know – GW – give the Cushing oration. Cushing, he was the modern godfather of neurosurgery. In fact, Cushing trained Davidoff; Davidoff trained Ransahoff; and Ransahoff tranined me. So I am pedigreed. I digress. Mike was invited to speak and the NFL came. Everyone did a little PC dance and no one said, “Don’t do it!” And we heard a discussion about chronic traumatic encephalopathy CTE. Mama, don’t let your kids grow up to be Cowboys (Dallas) and don’t let them play football. Mike claims he only had a concussion twice. Lucky! He’s still sharp. Once was William “Refrigerator” Perry. I bet that was a boatload of fun. Meanwhile I got a picture at our opening reception. He’s a sports hero of sorts. I have many. But boy was it fun! Yes! Mike and me.
Oh! Bush? The security was so tight that they did not announce he was coming until the meeting started. There was no obvious secret service presence. However, bags were checked and it was strictly no photographs. Some secretly used their cellphones. I’m way too cool for that! W actually spoke coherently. To listen to him one could understand that his TV demeanor was hardly like his real life thinking. Nice guy?! Hey, don’t tell. I voted for him once.
The second election was scheduled just after our fall meeting. Gorbachev was the speaker. Remember him? The room was packed. A member of our national leadership rose and spoke – I thought to introduce Gorbachev. Nope. He said, “Bush will sign medical malpractice reform if it passes congress. Kerry and Edwards will not.” He sat. The room was silent. And the implication was clear. Though I knew there was not a snowball’s chance in hell medmal reform would pass I voted special interest. It was the one and only time I have ever voted for a presidential winner. Yeah, twice I voted for anarchy and Ross Perot. Don’t shoot me, ma? Please.