Friday, December 28, 2007

Street Angel- Merry Christmas!

I took this pic for my mom and sis, who are veteran 'cute kid' junkies. Actually, there are so many cute little Korean munchkins running around, I don't normally take pictures, but I was killing some time, so...

This little cutie was with her mom, who was waiting to meet a friend for dinner, just as I was doing the same thing (people use the main gate of my former university as a kind of meeting place).

This little girl was no slacker on manners and charm, either, for her mom had apparently taught her well, and she kept bowing over and over when I said 'what a cutie!' in Korean to her mom. Frankly I was embarrassed by her extreme politeness, but that's just a typical western reaction to Korean Formality.

(taken with my LG CYON 1.2 Mpx phone, which is weird, because although it takes better nightshots than my 6 Mpx LUMIX, I STILL can't figure out the menu enough to be able to email photos directly from the phone - LG, if you need English Menu designers, you know where to find me!)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Thank you , Disk Knight - problems are not just for solving.

Perhaps you are aware of the new Worm, 'Disk Knight'. This little critter recently took my university network like the Sacking of Jerusalem in 1099. The reason for the great success of this relatively weak parasite lies in the typical use of computers for students, professors and staff; nearly everyone these days carries around a USB drive with them, that contains their word files, pictures, and, in the case of my Screen English class, movies. Right now my 'thumb drive' contains an AVI copy of Meet the Parents. And the first thing everyone does when they log on to a computer is stick their thumb drive in it.

Grateful to the Worm

What I appreciate this worm for is the way it shows up our complacency. I don't know how many of my students said, as they handed me a virus-pestilent thumbdrive, "But it's not a real virus"....
This attitude allowed the virus to completely take over my school and about 500 computers. A real digital bubonic epidemic, caused not by a super-cleverly designed virus, just one designed to hit us where we are weakest.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

wow, a long time between posts!

For those (three) people in the audience, let me apologize for the delay in posting- just losing momentum, I guess. A lot of friends are pressuring me to join Face-Book, and the only reason I can possibly come up with for doing so is to drive more traffic to this site....why? Not sure. I'm just not the Facebook type, and obviously, not the regular blog type, either. Too busy with my other hobbies (plants, movies, and wasting time) to do something like this. But I'll continue to string out these photos....
By the way, the last picture was a SUNRISE in PAGAN, one of you gets half a point for guessing that, and Angkor wat was a reasonable guess.

here's some odd bit of packaging I came across in Korea... No, they're not medicine, or even antacid tabs, but breath mints.

Next posting will be pictures of Rabbit In The Moon, a music/performance group.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Random ??? Sunrise/Sunset - guessing game

I had wanted to upload the latest of my journeys, the Amazon, with a random beautiful sunset, but those pictures are buried somewhere on my other storage drive, floating somewhere in hundreds of .avi files (I'm going totally digital, sort of a hopeless, endless project of replacing my 1000 plus dvd's with big black stacks of hard drives).

Anyhow, to keep you from saying I'm a hopeless tease, here is a random sunset, certainly not as spectacular but no less exotic. Any guesses as to what ?? city?? this is? And is it Sunrise or Sunset and how do you know?

Friday, September 14, 2007

For My Internet Angel

Years ago, when I was involved in helping Chinese students pass the horrific F1 visa interview to study in the U.S., my sister asked for my help. She wanted to know how to get a visa for a family with a sick child who needed heart surgery only available in the U.S.. I threw a wet blanket on her party at the time and basically told her it was impossible.

About one year later, ceaseless internet work paid off for my sis. She managed to bring this case to the "internet tribunal", where, as it turned out, some important people had children with the same condition. They pressured the power structure, and the kid was allowed to have the surgery. His family still lives in Los Angeles today.

I sort of forgot about it, even though my sister was invited on the Oprah show to congratulate her internet heroism. Then the other day, I was using a photocopied version of an Oxford press 'learn idioms through stories' book, when I saw this picture (click to enlarge it enough to read the story). No mention of my sister, but that's definately the guy that called me up when I was living in L.A.

Congratulations, Durian lovers!

Congratulations to those of you below who correctly identified the fruit as Durian. However, did you Wiki it? I was surprised to find out that Durian comes in red (actually yellow-orange) colors, in a nearly thornless version, and that recently a Thai scientist invented an odorless Durian species (where's the fun in that?). I wasn't able to identify the species or type of cultivar from the article, but my guess is that it is an ordinary D. zibethenius.

Other fun facts:
Most exotic animal believed to eat Durian: Orang Pendek, the Sumatran version of Bigfoot.
Most unexpected animal involved with the plant: bats, which pollinate the flowers.
Most common substitute (used to bring down the cost): pumpkin
Most unusual food use: this one is a toss up, since one could say all uses of durian is unusual, but I'd have to go with using the burned rind as an additive in baking.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

It's time for the old Fruit Guessing Game!

Known as the King of Fruits, this is the only fruit that, on a regular basis, kills people by falling on their head (unless you are one of those sticklers who insist that Coconuts are 'fibrous drupes', when anybody can tell they are 'nuts').

Coconuts bean people who are walking, napping, or sunbathing unawares under the tree (and some can be 20-30 meters high!). This was notably documented by Captain Cook in the 18th century.

According to a kind of urban legend, this fruit beans people who are waiting for it to drop (for maximum freshness and marketability) from the tree, which can be up to 50 meters high. According the version I heard, the reason they are directly under the fruit when it falls is that the high price of the fruit (according to Wikipedia, in Singapore, some species can be as much as US$40/kg of flesh.) creates a sort of cut-throat competition among the harvesters.

Again, I heard this story travelling around Asia, and have repeated it many times, and it just seems like it should be true, looking at those cruel, medieval spikes that will puncture your hand quite easily. A vendor once tossed one of these heavy, dangerous things at me as a kind of joke, and maybe to test how quick my reflexes were.

So, I'm assuming that all of you know this fruit, right? Hint: it smells awful to most people.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Long time no publish

The Disney accessories notwithstanding, I thought this Landmark Victorian era restoration house (a.k.a. "The Boat House") to be a perfect place to rest up after the rigors of Shanghai. All this for only 23 dollars a night; my room was just to the left of the door at center.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Summer Harvest

Summer. The time when people fail to check in. Out enjoying the weather, the email drops almost to nothing, blogs go without posting. Recently, I've come to see that as a blessing and not as some sort of abandonment issue.
This summer, instead of traveling, I've decided to stay, save money and focus on domestic things (like reading, which I admittedly haven't done much of....still working on proofreads). But I also managed to get up early every day and water my basil farm, and here are the results....
I got an early start this year because of my miniature 50 dollar two-by-four-and-plastic greenhouse, but ran head on into soil leaching, caterpillars, and even a self-imposed drought (I was afraid to overwater again and leach the soil). Finally, however, thanks to a greenthumb friend and a 'compost tea' that I make on the roof from kitchen scraps, you can see the result; big meaty green leaves the size of a baby fist.

I especially love the dark, emerald green color of the basil oil as it is extracted into the olive oil, emulsified by the high speeds of the blender knives. There is something heavenly about the smell of this fresh basil oil, twenty times more intoxicating than the smell of freshly mown grass, or even of jasmine perfume wafting on a summer night...

sinkful of basil leaves, fresh
XXX virgin olive oil, enough to keep the blender from clogging
fresh peeled garlic, 10 cloves
pine nuts, handful
walnuts, a baby's fist (optional)
parmesan or romano cheese, 4~5 ounces.

With any luck, I'll be able to get a bumper crop in August before I leave to God knows where....

Saturday, May 26, 2007

How Old are these Students?

One of the chapters of our Academic English course textbook deals with research on sexual attraction and body types. Koreans have been infected with the usual amount of fashion magazine propoganda; their models are nearly as anorexic looking as western models and so on. What I found interesting, though, is that it appears that in this class of Freshmen the females overwhelmingly prefer a skinny guy to a muscular one. Or, and this is my more likely theory, the person doing the survey was a skinny guy, so more girls picked that drawing so as not to hurt his feelings.

Just a bit of clarification on the drawings; obviously they are two different sets, made by a group of females and males, respectively. The votes are made in the chinese style (adding hashmarks to a 'tree' until five marks makes the tree full- the completed character actually means 'correct') So the vote tallies, from the top, are:

Guys voting for female body types:
  • Coca Cola bottle: 4
  • Twiggy: 1
  • Chubby: 1

Girls Voting for female body types:
  • Cola bottle: none
  • Twiggy: 4,
  • Chubby: none

Girls voting for male body types:
  • Muscular: 2
  • Skinny: 6
  • Chubby: 2
Something looks a little fishy with the numbers on that last one, so I suspect that the surveyers conflated the girl and guy votes on the male body types - a shame, since it was supposed to be a survey revealing differences of gender - but typical of how off-task an English class can become.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Friendly Spam

Today I got a 'friendly spam', that is, spam sent by a friend who doesn't realize that he/she is technically spamming. Some people like to call it 'forwarding', but I just call a Spam a Spam.
It started out...

"20 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Level of Insanity 1. At Lunch Time, Sit In Your Parked Car With Sunglasses on and point a Hair Dryer At Passing Cars. See If They Slow Down. 2. Page Yourself Over The Intercom. Don't Disguise Your Voice. 3. Every Time Someone Asks You To Do Something, Ask If They Want Fries with that. 4. Put Your Garbage Can On Your Desk And Label It "In." 5. Put Decaf In The Coffee Maker For 3 Weeks. Once Everyone has Gotten Over Their Caffeine Addictions, Switch to Espresso. 6. In The Memo Field Of All Your Checks, Write "For Smuggling Diamonds"
... ... 20. And The Final Way To Keep A Healthy Level Of Insanity.......Send This E-mail To Someone To Make Them Smile It's Called! Therapy"

When I hit number six, I remembered that when I was a freshman I used to write "for oral sodomy" on my checks - who sees those things except people like me? (I worked a summer job processing checks once for Bank of America)....but the tameness inspired me to write my own 'ways to keep a healthy level of insanity'....

Dear (Spamming Friend)

That's pretty tame. I'm working on a list of whammy's I like to do from time to time.

Something like....

1. create a little shrine in your workspace, but on the altar put oddly shaped twigs, small pebbles, or bits of lint. Pretend to worship them from time to time, make sure to appease your 'gods' with Starbucks or whatever offerings are at hand. The adding of celebrity photos, condom wrappers, used theater tickets and other detritus of modern living can only increase the weirdness quotient. If anyone asks you what the meaning of it is, just glare at them for a long time in silence, then say "you wouldn't understand" and walk away.

2. Always write in check boxes that say "Sex M F" one of them and make an arrow to your current gender. (that's only if you're tired of writing "Yes, Please!) over the top of it. You can also scratch both the M and the F and replace them with a question mark in the middle.

3. Whenever people relate some information to you, respond quickly with "Is that what they told you to tell me?" and then quickly change the subject.

4. Always leave a lit cigarette in the fingers of mannequins you happen to be passing by, so it looks like they are having a smoke.

5. Always tease children and tell them crazy exxagerations to test their sense of reality. Tell them you have a neighbor with a talking cat, or whatever you can come up with. It makes them stronger, and prepares their minds for the crap to come, and helps you to be more childlike.


7. Always leave an item blank on the list, to annoy the obsessive types.

10. Make sure to skip a few numbers, too, and getting them out of order can seriously derange some people.

8. When people are telling you long stories, take out a small black book from time to time and make mysterious check marks in it, nodding as if you have confirmed a theory about them as you are listening to them. If asked what the book contains, tell them it is something involving your shrine. Always maintain the book completely empty and leave it laying around. (bonus if you tear a few pages out at random)

9. Only respond to these kind of friendly spams if they seriously inspire you.


Sunday, March 25, 2007


Mysterious conspiracy theory? Does anyone out there recognize the symbol? Taken from the street in Arequipa, Peru.

Friday, February 16, 2007

a new map over at my new travelbog address, telling me I've been over 20,000 km so far:

for photos of cartagena, see the blog address below. I've also added some more of the Amazon if you go back in time about a week. Good luck at figuring out the interface;its not very intuitive.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Follow this blog on a new venue

After having used Blogger for about a year and a half, I only now stumbled upon a much better, and more suited-to-travel style blogging page, Travel Blog

where I can give a better accounting of my rambles day to day.....

see you there!

Sunday, January 28, 2007


This fruit is very cactus-y looking and is from Oruro, Bolivia. I just chanced across it in the market place. One pile is selling for one boliviano, or about 15 cents. In the lower right hand corner one can glimpse the inside of this fruit, whose name will forever be lost, since it was 'jacoroto', 'jorocoto', something along those lines. If I may describe it, the flesh is white with black seeds, but nothing like a kiwi; sweet but foamy, the most delicate (soft) fruit I've ever tasted. As soon as I gathered to take this picture, a bunch of market beggars surrounded me, so I only got to eat one before giving the rest to them (they all seemed quite grateful, so it is tribute to the deliciousness of this fruit)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Promise Made is A Debt Unpaid.

The small Cessna plane that represents the completion and closure of a promise I made to myself 16 or 17 years ago. At the time I was running out of money, backpacking around and staying in three dollar hotels, not sure what I was going to do, and when I came to Nasca I really had to chose between doing a flight or Machu Pichu. I´m glad I chose the latter, for I paid only $10 to get in (the admission is now $40) - but the cost of this flight was only $38, the same or less than it was then. Of course, neither monument has changed that much- except that perhaps Machu Pichu is even more overrun with tourists now than it was. The Nasca Lines have been there thousands of years, so 17 more hasn't made any noticeable difference.

Friday, January 19, 2007

George really gets around

Here's a picture of a nifty little project I came across from the real world. (usually we get links from the cyber world, right?) The red stamped info is a link to a website , a clever little currency tracking project for god knows what reason- but the fun thing is their website has some sophisticated tracking stuff....hopefully they'll add a world map with red lines showing george's trajectories in the future.
This picture was taken at the bus terminal in Arica, Chile....somebody gave me this bill in Peru as part of my change....most likely a vendor at the duty free market in Tacna. If you are really keen on it, and have nothing better to do with your time, go and check out the great software on the wheresgeorge site...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

One of the Last pics from a busted camera

This is one of the last pictures taken with my little replacement camera which lasted a total of ten days. I liked how this street in the small town of Nasca just ended abruptly in the desert and the mountains...I almost expected coyotes and other critters to be wandering around here on the fringes....this place kind of reminded me of my dad´s descriptions of Tucson in the early days.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


This is the view from my hotel room, I kid you not, I can hardly believe that I´m paying only a few pennies more than 6 dollars a night to have this view, my own room with bathroom. It also illustrates a typical latin courtyard(copied from the roman atrium) like those described in One Hundred Years of Solitude. For those botanically inclined, the interesting white flowered bush on the left of the picture is something I thought for years to be a tropical variety of datura, a dangerous alkaloid hallucinogen, and a member of the nightshade family. (Nathaniel Hawthorne referred to it in The Scarlett Letter as "apple peru"....kind of odd considering this is Peru. ) But thanks to the miracle of Wikipedia and second guessing from clues in that, I surmise that it is a member of Brugmansia - an academic distinction, since it still contains the dangerous cocktail of scopolamines and atropines...

Monday, January 08, 2007


I never feel like I'm travelling unless I see a new fruit. This is called "lucuma" and from all appearances is a kind of zapote (mexican word), a member of the rubber family (on hearsay). Shown next to it, for the purposes of scale, is an ordinary cantelope melon. Picture below is a cross section showing the large, avocado-like seed.
The taste is rather dry and not unlike a half-cooked pumpkin. It's mostly used in milkshakes and ice creams..

Saturday, January 06, 2007

The main reason I love South America and the tropics... this particular variety has the popular name of "Mango Blanco"...compared to those hybrids you get up there in the Northern Hemisphere, this has a mango taste that is seven or eight times more is really impossible to describe, you just have to put it into your mouth to feel the difference.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Language Study Memories in Lima

Just seconds after I asked the girl at the hotel for water, she went out the door, followed by the sound of screeching tires, the horrible impact sound, and the buzz of rubbernecks...This was actually the first picture I took with my new camera in South America, but it has another special meaning for me; when I was learning Spanish for the first time, I remember one phrase that was pivotal in my development of proper pronunciation: "Se choco con el autobus en la esquina!" (they had a collision with a bus on the corner)
Thankfully the girl didn't die and leave me with a karmic debt for having sent her to her death....but she was very close to the accident, about a meter or two away, she said.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Does this need a subtitle? Make of it what you's just a back alley of Portland near the train station, I was testing out my new $150 camera. tomorrow or later today I'll post the first photos of Lima....