Monthly Archives: August 2014

Freak Out Time

Once again I had vowed to post everyday on my blog called Today X 365 — which was named so I would be forced to post every day. Once again, I simply cannot. But I do have good excuses, many of them in fact.

  • I must finish a giant newsletter at work before leaving on the Big Trip plus the daily round of meetings, etc.
  • I must write a large paper for my writing class, an original brilliant oh-so-readable paper built on ‘found texts.’

 And then there are the little things:

  • I must buy real pajamas for the trip since I’ll be sharing rooms with grandchildren from time to time.
  • I must buy a big soft new running/sweatsuit to wear on all flights around the world so I do not freeze to death.
  • I must try not to have a serious meltdown with the visa service for the government of India which is easily the most f*cked up operation I’ve ever encountered. First time I’ve ever had a problem getting a visa. EVER. And I’ve been to 90 countries, at least a quarter of them have required a visa. I think it’s not because I suddenly have been deemed a criminal but more because of the famous infamous bureaucracy of that country. But I won’t tag this—don’t want them banning me forever.
  • AND MANY MANY MORE.

Once the paper and newsletter are done, the travel blogging becomes big and real and intense and everyone will love it. I promise.

Meanwhile all is well. My almost-21-year-old housepainter and I did a little birthday shopping and had dinner at the new fish place in the mall, Bonefish. Tasty crab cakes and coconut shrimp, mediocre salad but nice service and pleasant atmosphere. Not too noisy…my main concern…whatever the food is like. She leaves for college in Lubbock in a few days. But she has promised me never never never to become a Republican no matter how long she’s over there.

So I cannot return to blogging until September 4th.

See you then.

The perfect house painter, doesn't drink, smoke or cuss. At least around her grandmother. She's studying interior design and architecture so this is project #1.

The perfect house painter, doesn’t drink, smoke or cuss. At least around her grandmother. She’s studying interior design and architecture so this is project #1. Guess I should have dusted the back porch lamp before taking this photo. Don’t look, okay.

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MOOCs Again

Two weeks of great company. Love my family. Hanging out with them. But I get behind because when these interesting people are around I would rather talk to them than do my other favorite stuff.

So back to my MOOCs tonight. And here’s why you too should get involved. Especially through Coursera. We all have things we are curious about but have never read the right book or taken that class. Or if you’re like me you may well have read the book, taken the class but have forgotten half (or more…) of the relevant info.

Taking a MOOC is so easy. Go on line, sign up, go to the lectures whenever you have time. You do have to have a good enough Wi-Fi connection to stream but otherwise no problem. You can read books to go with the course—in other words some serious study—or you can do what I do, just pour a coffee or wine and listen. It’s almost always more interesting than TV. Most TV. Although I’ve only had one class that competes with House of Cards…that would be the French Revolution which has enough deception, murder, political violence for several Houses of Cards!

I’m just getting into The Camera Never Lies and A Brief History of Humankind—more about them later.

Think of your favorite college or even high school class ever. The one with the super animated interesting professor/teacher. But it was so much work—all those papers and tests. Now imagine doing it again with just the cool professor part and none of that other stuff. That’s what taking a MOOC is like.

I keep doing posts about MOOC land because it seems like the last place on earth where something is FREE, no commercials, you learn something or the other, and you can do it whenever you want. The free part probably won’t last so if you’re curious, check it out now.

Me and the Nikon

The new camera, the Nikon Coolpix, takes brilliantly clear and beautiful photos, so far about 30% of the time. That is because I must read the f*cking instructions which run for approximately 47,000 pages. I think it is probably a good camera and by the time I leave for The Big Trip I will love it. Probably. Here’s the photo album of the evening.

Nice but not quite right.

Nice but not quite right.

A few of my favorite pens.

A few of my favorite pens.

My giant measuring cup that's too heavy to use for cooking but is quite beautiful full of pens.

My giant measuring cup that’s too heavy to use for cooking but is quite beautiful full of pens.

If a camera cannot take good book photos one should get rid of it immediately.

If a camera cannot take good book photos one should get rid of it immediately.

My son who is aging just a little but still very handsome.

My son who is aging just a little but still very handsome.

Dad's mom, the cranky grandma, mom and me.

Dad’s mom, the cranky grandma, mom and me.

Up the Mountain

I live downtown near the Rio Grande. My son Steven lives a few thousand feet higher on the slopes of the Sandias. We had a low-key pleasant family dinner and visit tonight. There’s very little drama in my family anymore. Only one teen left and she’s pretty level-headed, especially considering she is so very much the cheerleader. No one has a lot of money, everyone has enough. We live in places we like and in fact we like each other. An album of the evening:

Marigolds with new camera.

Marigolds with new camera.

I think my brother is looking more distinguished by the day.

I think my brother is looking more distinguished by the day.

Sara (the tall one) and her friend. About to leave for a movie with (boy)friends!

Sara (the tall one) and her friend. About to leave for a movie with (boy)friends!

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Sunset with rain storm approaching.

Same sunset, different color, haven't mastered the camera yet obviously.

Same sunset, different color, haven’t mastered the camera yet obviously.

Robert, Steven, Michele

Robert, Steven, Michele

 

 

Care and Feeding of Guests

The house should be clean orderly welcoming.

Patricia the future architect is practicing "green." Guest doesn't have to sleep here.

Patricia the future architect is practicing “green.”

Cleverly conceal unwashed dishes in corner.

Cleverly conceal unwashed dishes in corner.

Always serve nice meals.

But not cheap meals...that bread is from Whole Foods.

But not cheap meals…that bread is from Whole Foods.

 

And then show the bro from the Redneck Riviera and Northwoods Minnesota an exciting evening in the city.

And what color the new black is....

And what color the new black is….

ROBERT

IT’S 11PM. The bro is here… on his third beer–the lush. I shouldn’t say that, actually drinks very little but he’s celebrating making it from Tallahassee to Albuquerque in only one flying day. Tallahassee to Miami to Dallas, to Albuquerque. Transportation is a thing of wonder. DSCN0334 (2)

My NOT Interesting Day

Love the food in that part of the world. Especially borscht (sp?).

Love the food in that part of the world. Especially borscht (sp?).

Sick. Can’t sleep. Stomach hurts. Read an entire biography of James Madison. Stop whining. I’ll turn on Aljazeera for awhile, see how the world is holding together. Here’s a little photo spread of a few years ago in Odessa, Ukraine. I have some better photos I think;  these were taken with an old cell phone. Odessa is a beautiful city and seems to have missed the worst of this violence. I hope.

Odessa shipyards

Odessa shipyards

Black Sea, extremely polluted. When I stuck my foot in disgusting things floated around my toes.

Black Sea, extremely polluted. When I stuck my foot in disgusting things floated around my toes.

Strange and wonderful candies.

Strange and wonderful candies.

Loved walking these streets. European but eastern and seafront and somehow a little exotic and sometimes shabby.

Loved walking these streets. European but eastern and seafront and somehow a little exotic and sometimes shabby.

 

 

24 HOURS

My life is almost always interesting. Today I do not feel well. Nothing serious. Last night I did not sleep. Much. I did keep alternating reading between two Scandinavian crime novels, neither of which I like. One is an Icelandic ghost story from a writer who doesn’t usually do ghost stories–so I was fooled into thinking I would like it. I do not. But Marsha, my sister-in-law does so I will give it to her. I like nothing supernatural or Sci-Fi, life is odd enough as it is. The other is a newish Norwegian writer and I always want to love Norwegian stuff. I do not. So sometimes I tried to read a New Yorker article about Putin… which led me to…

Anyway I finally fell sort of asleep and dreamt about coconut spiders. I took notes when I got up because it was so strange. I don’t even know if there is such a thing and I decided not to Google it in case there are. But I wasn’t really terrified… and I am more afraid of spiders than nuclear war or Albuquerque cops. So it seems my office (wasn’t my real office–more like “The Office”) somehow got two coconut spider eggs, quite large they were. Eventually they started cracking and a spindly spider leg or two crept out. And then they broke wide open and two huge spider babies burst forth. And walked around. And played. And bonded. And lived in our office. They looked like large gangly tarantulas. But then one ate the other and the remaining Big Spider sat in the corner and stared at us, I suppose wondering if he/she would eat one of us first or we would eat him/her first. We closed down for the holidays and we left food and water but when we returned the Giant Coconut Spider was gone forever.

Honestly I dreamed that. But also I worked on my writing assignment, played on Ancestry.com (my family expands–Norwegians just may take over the world–and you all will be sorry you said we weren’t exciting people), ate a large sweet potato and didn’t feel well.

Almost thought it would rain. No.

I’m switching to a historical biography of James Madison tonight. Nothing will make me feel better about American presidents than reading about Putin last night. Scary dude. I read a description of him someplace that said a squat powerful body with a rat-like face. Not how any of us want to be depicted. So let’s see what is said about Madison–about whom I know nothing.

Enough of today.

Maybe rain?

Maybe rain?

Nope. No rain. Damn.

Nope. No rain. Damn.

ONE MONTH PLUS TWO DAYS

TIME AND PLACE

Going back for a visit is always nice. Going back for a visit is always nice.

The lime green suitcase still decorated with a sticker from Rwanda is open and waiting for me to load the essentials of life on the road. Small suitcase, almost five weeks, a challenge. There is nothing more detrimental to the journey than a big awkward bag. Granted, I will not be traveling alone, but no need to burden my fellow travelers with Granny’s suitcase!  My too-heavy backpack with all the accoutrements of a photographed documented trip is another matter.

Five weeks...really? Five weeks…really?

I have been thinking about this trip a lot. Thinking of it as the decision-making or breaking trip about whether to keep on with the idea of all of the countries in the world before I die. Scott reminds me I’ve said this before and I know I’ve written blog posts about it before (sorry!) but the idea never really…

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Toys and Wildlife (one without feathers!)

"You Can't See Me..."

“You Can’t See Me…”

Featherless wildlife!

Featherless wildlife!

 

Wednesday I took my new Galaxy 5 for a morning walk with mixed results. But some of the photos were clear and bright. This morning it was the new camera–a Nikon Coolpix S9700.  This little toy is more problematic because I expect much more from it. I took about 90 photos, about 25 turned out beautifully. That’s not a good average! So after much hand-wringing I was forced to print out the manual AND NOW I must read it I suppose. Hate that side of new toys. There’s hope–see how nicely my wildlife photos turned out.

 

Nice feathers yes?

Nice feathers yes?

 

Is this a swan?

Is this a swan?

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