Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Utterly random things that make me happy, part one


Neptune holding a giant cheeseburger aloft in a rainstorm.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Variables and constants

Over the weekend, I was writing about how utterly random everything starts to seem when traveling. But "random" isn't the word I'm looking for here. A better word, I think, is "variable". Variable, as in changeable, mutable, unfixed. As opposed to solid, fixed, determined. Or in math terms, constant.

So, back to algebra class. A constant is a fixed value in an equation. It's always the same. X=3, Y=2, represented by a single Cartesian point on the graph. You are here, at this fixed point in space. Constants are easy, reliable. If you know all of your values, the answer to the equation is always the same. For x + y, if x=3 and y=2, you'll always end up with the answer "5", as opposed to, say, "7", "99.5", "dolphin", or "blueberry ice cream".  We humans like constants...

From the train: Bangkok - Nong Khai

No Swinging, No Climbing

Monday, March 18, 2013

Just Because


You ever have one of those days where a 60 foot tall fiberglass statue of a "Caribbean Sea Cyclone" looking like a blue soft serve ice cream cone vacuuming up the Smurf's cottage makes just about as much sense as anything else on the planet? I mean, not necessarily in a bad way or anything, but...


Hmmm, maybe it's something I ate.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Variety (and/or) Randomness

Ah, it's always interesting firing up the blog after coming back from a trip. This time, interspersed between the usual stories, pictures of the kids for the grandparents, and random photos, I'm going to be doing a bit of thinking out loud as a way of sorting out some bits of what's becoming quite a long stay away from home.

One thought that struck me many times during our recent trip is the vast variety (if I was in a good mood) or sheer randomness (if I was in a bad mood) of life on our planet. Just a quick few examples to get us started, from the realm of architecture...




Gold for sale, Macao

Nong Khai

...and food:

Ban Suai Lhong, Thailand

Foi Thong doughnut, Dunkin' Donuts, Bangkok train station

So, yeah, six random bits all more or less from the same corner of the world, but all very different. And not just along the lines of old vs. new, traditional vs. contemporary, or even rich vs. poor. More like wow, look at all of the systems we've put in place for dealing with the world! And it doesn't take long after that (or shouldn't, anyway) for the next set of questions to follow - why does this set of people have this set of systems? Who choose this particular system in the first place? Is one system better than the other? And the very different set of systems that I grew up with, what about those?

If you're not careful, travel can get you into an infinite loop of navel gazing pretty quickly, so I beg forgiveness if that's where this next set of posts is headed. And, of course, none of these questions are particularly new, and they've all been answered in ways much more eloquently that I can manage.

But still, it's what's been on my mind lately, and what is this blog besides a really tiny corner of my brain made public? With lots of pretty pictures, I might add.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

More kiddos

And a few more shots of the kids in less hazardous situations. As a parent, I really do try to resist pigeonholing my kids, but still somehow, these three shots capture an essential part (not the only part, mind you) of their very individual personalities...
Zekey, relaxing on the train up to Northern Thailand
Xander, at the visa office in Hong Kong, looking knowledgeable.
Ysa, resident jungle girl and gatherer of dry banana leaves dragon tails. Or was it snakes?

Monday, March 11, 2013

The first order of business...

... after returning from a trip where I haven't been blogging is, of course, to present photographic proof to the grandparents of their grandkids' continued existence.

Here's me giving the kids a ride on our preferred mode of transport in Koh Phangan, an island in the Gulf of Thailand:

Oh wait, this was for the grandparents, wasn't it? Okay, mom, you didn't see that one. How 'bout this one of Xander getting a ride in the back of a pickup truck?


Whoops, that's not considered safe in America either, rats.  Zekey climbing a sharp rocky waterfall barefoot?


Ysa buried in sand as high tide rapidly approaches?


The whole family in a thousand year old abandoned temple in the jungle, filled with poison arrow traps?


No, no, and no? Okay, how about an escalator in Hong Kong. That should be safe.


(Do you know how many escalator accidents happen every year? It's astounding. True story: in the Hong Kong Metro, there are repeated multilingual announcements urging you to grasp the escalator handrail firmly and STAY IN ONE PLACE, for heaven's sake. So nowhere is safe, I guess...)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

...and back again

Family portrait, back of the #1 bus, Bangkok

Hey, and we're all home in Chengdu again! Did you miss us? For those of you still interested in linear chronology, we all arrived back from Hong Kong last Wednesday afternoon, after about a months' worth travels in Thailand, a bit of Cambodia, and Myanmar (Jane and the kids).  (And yes, one of the perks of living here is I get to say that all casual-like and sound super cosmopolitan and worldly, even though in comparative distance terms, it's like saying we're back in Chicago after going to Houston, Jackson, Mississippi, and Lubbock.)

Now comes the photo downloading, the unpacking, the laundry, and the dumping of sand out of the suitcases. And the reflections and gratitudes for all of the world that we have had the privilege of experiencing, and all of the people that we have met along the way.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday, February 25, 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Public Notice, Macao

Public notice, Macao

I love the fact that the currency in Macao is called the "MOP" (Okay, it's really the Pataca, but that's fun to say too.) If I lived there, I'd start a petition to rename the smaller units "buckets".

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Nice Walls, Macao!

Graffiti, Macao
Okay, that one's getting a bit out of hand...
There, that's better. Carry on, Macao. Good job!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why I never will need to go to Vegas

More shots from Macao. The south edge of the main island is fringed with hotels and casinos, which I got to explore because I needed a free wi-fi source to make calls and get more money sent for my visa. (Which I ended up getting, by the way) Course, I could have just played some Baccarat and won millions, but that would have blown my cover...




Hotel Lisboa, Macao

The casinos seem to be fairly Vegas on the outside, but the schwag inside tends more towards China...



What's Macao got that Vegas ain't got? This, for starters. Which is where I did most of my exploring, once I figured out a way to get my cash card to work...

Largo do Senado, Macao

Monday, February 18, 2013

More Macao

Of course, Macao had lots of bits that were totally China, too. Here are a few pictures that I thought turned out fairly well...







Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sketch, with gloopy coral forms, a construction crane, and a 1950s astronaut talking about Space Invaders

Speaking of time travel, any black and white line drawings that you'll see coming up are in all probability from a sketchbook that I finished last year. Doesn't mean that they don't still love you, though...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Goin' all Old Word on you...


Through circumstances far to complicated to go into here...

CTS, Macao
(here's a hint)

... I ended up in Macao for a day last month. Macao is a former Portuguese colony across the bay from Hong Kong, and like Hong Kong, is now a Special Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of Ch... hey, you can even look it up on Wikipedia if you want to know more details! Yay, internet!

Anyway, what Wikipedia might not tell you is that Macao is the one place I've found in China that has readily available, consistently awesome, and quite cheap coffee. All over the place. So I spent my day or so there in a fairly consistent buzz, wandering around what is a fairly small walkable island and snapping photos of nearly everything that moved, and, given my tendencies towards landscape and still life, a whole lot more stuff that didn't.

Macao has an old city that was built at roughly the same time as New Orleans, Santa Fe, or Rio, and busloads of Chinese tourists notwithstanding, it doesn't even feel like you're in Asia sometimes.


IMG_1489  IMG_1494


IMG_1499  IMG_1502

Mornings in Macao seem fairly deserted - maybe because everyone was at the casinos the night before. (More casino action coming up in another post)