Monday, June 25, 2007
And just so you know, it is very very gray here. I can't post any photos yet, but you can trust me. I never lie about the weather.
So I'll just continue to wander around the kitchy little Gold Rush town, eating fudge (I do love that about touristy towns - the fudge), and taking photos of big bears carved out of a Spruce log. You'll all benefit from this, I promise.
Until next week, then. Please return to your regularly scheduled programming.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Should you require immediate blog-entertainment, please see the left-hand side of this page for links to other blogs.
I will respond to all requests for posting topics when I return. If you have a specific request, please leave it in the "comments" section.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Which will just make me feel like this:
Thursday, June 21, 2007
*Travel? Fun shopping and supporting the local economies
*Road trip to the parents' house? Fun on-the-way outlet shopping
*Gas station fill-up? Fun food mart shopping
*Dentist Appointment? Fun dental hygiene accessories shopping
*Party at house of distant acquaintance? Fun secret closet shoe shopping
Okay, that last one? Not really. You can still invite me to those parties. Seriously. I mean it.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
and riding up the winding roads, and along the cliffs next to Repulse Bay. Repulse Bay is the Mother of All Misnomers (except for a previous surly, stoney-faced co-worker of mine, named "Dulce"), as it is an absolutely gorgeous spot.
Wikipedia says: In 1841 the bay was used as a base by pirates and caused serious concern to foreign merchant ships trading with China. The pirates were subsequently repulsed by the British Fleet; hence the name. Another theory holds that the bay was named after the HMS Repulse which was stationed at the bay at one point.
That makes more sense. It is not repulsive in the least. Now, Puno, Peru is a different story...
But, back to China! Hong Kong is vastly different from Beijing, but I enjoyed both equally. Hong Kong indulged my frenetic cosmopolitan commercial/shopping side, and Beijing allowed a rare appearance from my less-shallow, culture-curious side. Beijing was giant and sprawling and chock-full of the culture, not to mention the rich and romantic history. AND we got to ride bikes. That was my favorite part, as it brought me slightly closer to immersing myself in the Beijing lifestyle. The bicycle lanes take up half of the streets, so it is actually enjoyable to pedal around the city, as opposed to biking on Seattle streets, where you're scrunched over to the curb by the spacey, attention-challenged drivers. Although, to be fair, there are a lot of Seattle bikers who are ridiculously inconsiderate and deem the entire road built just for them. Driving behind an Armstrong-wannabe, at 15 miles per hour, gets a little old after 8 miles.
Beijing was a dream, to be sure, but occasionally in the dream I would be confounded at the meal selections, as I did not read Chinese script, and found myself terrified at the possibility of ordering something like monkey brains. The Lonely Planet said that was a dish there. I am not proud to say that I spent many meals at McDonalds and the Beijing Hard Rock Cafe, eating totally American food - Diet Coke and all. But I did go next door to this really funny dumpy bar, where we sat outside and drank CHINESE beer. See? I can assimilate.
I think Boris and Alissa probably did better than I, with their cultural immersion, if only making that deduction based on this photo.
My dad is the proud owner of that same green communist hat. I think I got it at Stanley Market...
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I'm embarking on the journey of "Age of Love" (NBC Mondays 9PM, Pacific), and this is going to be hilarious. In the first 10 minutes of the show, they highlight interview video of the "Bachelor", 30-yr old tennis-pro Mark Phillippoussis, talking about how he is looking forward to meeting all the "attractive, young women". The first round of women who are brought out to be introduced to sweet Mark, are all in their 40s. Each woman tells him her age, and the resulting looks of barely-disguised shock and slight discomfort on Mark's face are enough to keep me glued to the TV for the next 6 weeks (or however long this takes). He has notoriously dated only younger women in the past, and he admitted that his last relationship was with a 20-yr old. I am in absolute hysterics.
It is such a shame, the show involves the inevitable twist, and they bring in a group of women in their 20s, and the trailer clips look, sadly, similar to the typical catty backstabbing girls from "The Bachelor", or any of the other standard MTV-generation dating shows. Although, I am looking forward to many conversations about "making a connection", and "taking things to the next level". I really am excited to take this journey.
Monday, June 18, 2007
It is no wonder that they named the TV show "Grey's Anatomy". Gray, grey, whatever, it is not sunny and happy here. If they moved the setting of the show to Santa Fe, they would have to rename it "Red's Anatomy", due to all the red clay and such. And then the focus could be on Dr. Addison Shepherd:
You know, because of the red hair. Although, she is already set to be the focus of the "Grey's" spinoff show, so I digress.
They could move the show to any location now, as I stopped watching it after they moved it to Thursday nights. It was such a perfect Sunday night show.
So, I'm still crabby about "Grey's" on Thursday nights, and still crabby about Gray Seattle in Allegedly June.
I am wanting ANY kind of diversion of a different color. I watched "Shrek 2" over the weekend, just for the technicolor setting, and "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" for, you know, the Caribbean.
With a job in travel, you might be asking yourself: Doesn't this girl get to go anywhere? The answer is "yes". I am leaving Sunday for a cruise in Alaska. I saw this recent footage on YouTube
Apparently it is Allegedly June in Alaska as well. This is how I feel about that:
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Ahhh the good old days of my childhood, when Debbie Herboldt would babysit us on Saturday nights, and let us watch Love Boat. And so was born my love for ship-board travel.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I lived in Seoul, South Korea in 1996, and thought "if you're going to be living there, you should learn the language". Hmph. My dad bought me this elaborate collection of Barron's Korean tapes, which I dutifully listened to for the few weeks before I flew to Seoul, and it was hard! I applaud anyone who can speak English AND any of the Asian languages - they are so different! If you learned both languages before the age of 5, though, it doesn't really count, since learning anything at that age is easy.
If only Cookie taught Learning About Korean... Although I wasn't learning much Korean, I was learning that my Korean co-workers were terribly unconcerned as to whether or not I ever spoke their language. They could already speak mine, and since we were working at an English language school, that was all that mattered, apparently. They thought it was cute that I was making an effort, but would giggle behind their hands whenever I tried to say anything more complicated than "hello". This was not Learning in the Trust Tree, and mocking is never an effective teaching tool, believe me.
I learned Survival Korean instead. Survival Korean, for me, consisted of taxi directions from the bars back to my apartment (so I also spoke Drunk Korean), food ordering, and currency and numbers - for shopping. The Koreans have three different ways of counting - so that part was actually kind of an accomplishment.
And to round out my education, my Korean students also taught me two phrases to assist me on the Subway:
Hajima - "Stop it"
Nonun aju bodishi upda - "You are very rude"
I'm totally bilingual.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
An aerial photograph shows a herd of oryx traveling through Southern Sudan's Boma National Park, as well as the shadow of the Wildlife Conservation Society airplane tracking the animals.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
From http://spicyshoes.blogspot.com/ Anonymous (of course) said:
"I am so sick of these celebrities screaming from the covers of magazines about how special they are, and how they are going to save Africa. Well, good for them….but really, how does a photographer flying around the world shooting celebrities for a magazine that will not be seen by a majority of Africans going to help them? Is the west as a whole and rich nations specifically supposed to keep pumping money to Africa? How about Africa taking a stand against corruption, war, violence, and saving itself. How about stopping all its wealth flowing out into the west (diamonds, gold, oil) and keeping it for the people and stemming the flow of billions into the pockets of the greedy corrupt dictators and warlords. How about that, Mr. Bono?"
Buh and Pfft. How about this Mr. Anonymous: do you think it might be a step in the right direction for Vanity Fair to appeal to it's typically wealthy, well-educated audience, and possibly try to shed some light on issues that may not have enough attention? Mr. Anonymous, please tell us what you love; tell us what you want to promote, tell us what makes you happy. Take off those cranky-pants. I will paraphrase Anonymous with my own whining: wannnhh wanhhh I am so sick of these anonymous commentors, wannhh, screaming from behind the safe shelter of cyberspace, waaannnhh, about how much they hate this or that, waannhh and how everyone else is doing it wrong.
Do they have useful suggestions? No. Do they offer charitable assistance? No. Do they get on my nerves? Yes. And that makes ME a Hater. I'm a Hater-Hater. And the more energy I devote to complaining about them, the less energy I have for the really important things...
Wow, I'm in a better mood already. Now, haters, your turn. Dig deep (preferably deeper than just wanting to talk about shoes, you shallow half-wits), and think about 3 things that you love, that make you giddily happy. If you can't think of 3, see Julia's blog: http://3for365.blogspot.com/ (one of these days I'm going to get techy, and figure out how to do links without typing them out like that, but for now, this is what we are working with). Now, focus on those things. Is it a book you've read? Is it a movie that made you laugh? Is it your kids? Is it a friendship? Is it a memory of a trip you've taken? Come on, there must be something. Or, if you can't think of positive things to focus on, try coming up with an idea that solves the problems you enjoy complaining about.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Two of my FAVORITE people - as in, when people ask that "who are three famous people you would have to a dinner party, blah blah" - Chris Rock and Warren Buffett would be two of my dream guests. The third would be one of those girls from "Sunset Tan". Just kidding. I LOVE Warren Buffett, for his down-home Nebraska sensibilities, which practically eclipse his explosive wealth (2nd wealthiest in the world, and lives fairly simply in Omaha, and no I'm not stalking him, but isn't he adorable?) And Chris Rock just makes the world a funnier place to be. I freely admit that I paged through the issue, setting mental reminders to go back and read the serious stuff later, but stopped and read Rock's "The Ugly African-American" (page 152). Everything in my life needs to be tempered with a little humor. Humor makes the other crap bearable. Thank you Chris Rock!
I have been saying, for the past 6 years, that if I ever get married (I know, I know, I'm supposed to be saying "WHEN", "WHEN I get married"), I want to go on my honeymoon in South Africa. I got to spend 4 days in and around Cape Town in March 2001, and just lu-huuuuved it. What a fantastic place: gorgeous coastline, great hiking, stunning wine country, it has everything. This Africa issue brings me back to the contradictions there. I am skillfully adept at shining my Miss Mary Sunshine rays on the treasure chest full of dubloons, and avoiding the decrepit skeletons that litter the surrounding space of the metaphorical cave, (and no, I haven't seen the 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean movie yet). Sunshine and lollipops dammit! Shoe-shopping and ice cream parties! Puppies! Pizza! Movies! Red Carpet Fashions!
This issue had it's intended impact, in that it highlighted the fact that the world is in crisis, and I am sitting in my living room, snickering at photos of the unbelievably spoiled Paris Hilton sobbing in the back seat of a car. I'm going to go register and donate here (as long as I'm going to be shopping...):
So that I can still feel okay about enjoying this:
Sunday, June 10, 2007
What did I do Saturday night? Oh, I went to Havana.
I've also been to the actual city of Havana,
and the two experiences were surprisingly similar.
Havana the city: kind of a challenge to get to from the U.S.
Havana the club: kind of a challenge to find from the street.
Havana the city: I had to go through customs and show my passport.
Havana the club: I had to go through the door and show my driver's license.
Havana the city: They served mojitos.
Havana the club: They served mojitos.
Havana the city: the U.S. dollar was widely accepted.
Havana the club: many U.S. dollars were accepted.
Havana the city: since my Spanish is halting, communicating was slightly difficult. Que?
Havana the club: since the music was so loud, communicating was very difficult. What?
Havana the city: there was dancing.
Havana the club: there was dancing after several mojitos.
Havana the city: Walking around the streets of Havana afforded ample opportunity to photograph the local life, like groups of schoolchildren.
Havana the club: Hanging out on the dancefloor of Havana afforded ample opportunity to photograph my friends, acting like schoolchildren.
Next weekend I might go to Kabul, or Bombay, or Kyoto.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
On the Semester at Sea ship, the next port-of-call was Kenya. Being a Very Important member of the travel office on the ship ("very important" meaning "one of three people"), I was occasionally called upon for Very Important Assignments. Well, not really, except that this one actually was pretty important. I was the assigned trip leader for a 5-day safari in Tanzania, and since we were docking in Kenya, this meant a big, fun border crossing for the 50 of us who were going to Tanzania.
I was told that I would be the first one off the ship, when we docked, and would be saddled up with 50 United States passports for a little drive to the Kenya/Tanzania border. The rest of the group would be several hours behind me. They wanted to make sure all the passports were stamped and ready to go when the group arrived.
"Whaaasssat?" Erm, that sounds, um...fine and all...and not at all dangerous? But whatever, the program wouldn't have me doing anything dangerous...
I'm glad I didn't think about it too much.
So I disembarked the ship with a big bag o' passports, and climbed into a van with Patrick, the Kenyan guide who was part of the tour operator we worked with, and another Kenyan driver. They were nice - I felt fine and safe - I took a nap.
I was jolted awake by one of the bumps on the dirt road we were on, looked out my window and saw a giant giraffe slowly moseying along through the brush. Grinning like a total idiot, I tried not to squeal, as the Kenyan driver and guide would most likely not share my enthusiasm. The same way I would probably not appreciate their squeals, had I been driving them through my neighborhood and passed a squirrel holding an acorn. It's all about perspective. So I giddily passed the next hour just watching the scenery pass by, sans the squealing.
The border ordeal, rather than eliciting delighted squeals, brought forth a great deal of eye-rolling on my part. Patrick, while nice enough, was not the brightest of fellows, and also not terribly assertive. The border official was a ridiculous charicature of someone in one of those Sigourney Weaver/gorillas in the mist-type movies. He took himself way too seriously, which was not a good match for me, as I barely take anything seriously. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but I got the basic gist of it, and the border official probably wanted a bribe from Patrick, who was kow-towing and making a complete kiss-ass of himself. What is Swahili for "suck up"? That is probably just how it's done there, but it was annoying. I sat on a small wooden chair for a good hour, watching Patrick make quick little bows, and subservient hand gestures, while the border official sat, with arms folded, and mouth pursed, shaking his head every 5 minutes or so. As a female, I was very unimportant, and therefore ignored. Which was good, since eye-rolling is pretty much a universal sign of distaste and annoyance, and had Border Official looked in my direction, I may have added another universal sign of distaste and annoyance. My own hand gesture, if you will.
Every once in a while, I'd interrupt Patrick's "pretty please" dance with a "WHAT IS HE SAYING?", and Patrick would turn around and shake both open palms at me. If I'd been in the mood, I may have joined him in the palm-wagging and turned it into Tanzania Border Dance Party, just for a diversion, but I was getting hungry and cranky and had to use the bathroom.
The rest of the group arrived and we STILL had to wait another half hour, while Patrick must have been modifying his dance - possibly to include some "special man-favors", but I'm really speculating at this point.
We finally managed to get through the border and into Tanzania, which is one of the most spectacularly beautiful countries. The colors all just seemed so sharp: the blue sky, the green grass, the black skin of the Masai tribe, and the bright red of their shawls. Truly stunning. We weren't allowed to photograph the Masai, as the Masai believe that having their photograph taken allows their souls to be stolen.
There may be some truth to that...
So I just have a mental picture of two beautiful Masai women, wearing the shawls, walking along the road with their little munchkins strapped to their backs. They heard the safari truck coming and both turned around to look, in unison. I was like "OH there's the shot". Mental click.
I was, however, permitted to photograph the many, many, many giraffes that we saw over the next 4 days. We all had so many photos of giraffes, that we got to the point of pooh-poohing when someone said "Hey - giraffe!" Whatever. They're as common as squirrels there.
Other places I would like to be right now:
I have never been to any of these places, and want to go. Right now. 58 and drizzly. Pfft.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Guess which one I am in this scenario.