Snail Races

...where even the winners are slow and slimy. It's all a matter of degrees, really. Reality based since 1692.

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Location: Upper Canada

Saturday, April 30, 2005

a veteran traveller Posted by Hello

disney dining Posted by Hello

what a holiday is for Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Premature Friday Catblogging

kk and the sea monster of the tile floor Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Pudu Bob

Ladies and gentlemen, the inimitable brillig-bloggy stylings of Bob Harris...

So only half of us now think Bush is an honest man. Awesome.

This is good news. I guess.

In related news, 57% of Americans oppose the branding of harlots, 62% have concluded that Charles Darwin was not consciously doing the work of Satan, and a whopping 73% are now convinced that math is not a form of witchcraft.

I guess you go to democracy not with the country you want, but the country you have.

just click on teh link

Mental Health Hotline

thanks to Patrick Belton at Oxblog...

Green Day tickets still available

Jon Mandle at CrookedTimber saw Green Day last night, and gives a rave review. But I'm still not quite sure I'm ready to go to an arena show these days... I barely enjoy going out to a movie, preferring the comfort of familiar surroundings, loungewear and remote control. But I did find this bit interesting:
I was expecting to be the oldest person there and maybe to see some of my students. I was doubly wrong. There seemed to be very few college kids there, but plenty of people my age – late 30s to early 40s – but they were there with their middle-school kids. Probably three-quarters of the crowd was between, say, 12 and 16. (One of my 4-1/2 year old’s favorite songs for at least the past year has been Green Day’s cover of the Ramone’s “Outsider” – when it comes on, she drops everything and just starts laughing and running through the house. Still, she stayed home.)

and I'm heartened to learn that there is still a place for protest in pop. Is Green Day the CSNY of Four Way Street for those 14-year-olds?
There was a low-level, inchoate political vibe that seemed a little more than just the expected anti-authoritarian posturing. They opened with “American Idiot” and closed their set with “Minority” and introduced “Holiday” as “a big ‘fuck you’ to the politicians who have power right now.” But the line of the night was certainly when Billie Joe Armstrong introduced the band, culminating in this: “And I’m George W. Bush.” Crowd: “Boo!” Armstrong: “You better hope you don’t go bankrupt.” Well, it got a big laugh from me, anyway.
By the way, did I mention the four Greeen Day tickets for the May 4 show at the Labatt Centre in London, Ontario that we have available? Not everybody at once, please...

Monday, April 25, 2005

Last Leg for Carl & Annie

Carl Unplugged Posted by Hello

Dear Family and Friends—This will be the last report from the around the world, semester-at-sea voyagers. A nice seven day sail from Salvador, Brazil to Caracas, Venezuela. Really a busy week on board with the final week of classes, term essays due (about a 100) and then final exams (again, about 100). Making the students write, but the other side is that I have to read—and it does take time. Plus, there is so much going on board ship. Food remains good, we continue to have enough wine for 4:09 each day. I also shaved off the beard I had been growing for just about a month as we re-crossed the equator. Every once in a while I get some baseball news, but not much - just know the Tigers continue to struggle—but what the hell, it has only been a generation. Managed to rent a car from Budget in Fort Lauderdale—will take us to the Villages and then up to Tallahassee. Time is growing short.

On the 16th we had our dinner with the captain—about 30 of us and we really got to know about the ship and all of the officers and crew who run it. Since Hawaii, it has been a smooth and easy voyage indeed for the ocean-seasoned folks that we now are. Some folks have taken a tour of the bridge area, and from what we can tell, it was pretty touch and go out in the North Pacific in January, but just so wonderful to sail along now—even in 10 foot seas it feels just fine. All of the faculty did an evaluation of the programme. I am more than positive, I think it is just a wonderful experience for all concerned. The students have been creative and adaptable, both in and out of the classroom. The experiences in the various countries just cannot be over-rated. You can just see the maturity grow in all of these young folks. I both like and admire them.

Tonight we had a ship’s auction, all kinds of things on the block. Annie and I put up our Hawaii place for a week and it was bought for $720 by one of my students—we will show her and her parents around. And, Annie and purchased a week to 10 day stay in a four bedroom, four bath house in Breckenridge, Colorado during ski season. It cost $450, what a bargain—a student auctioned it whose parents use the place at holiday times. Anyone for a ski holiday in the next year or so? We are going to have a talent contest, and the faculty will try to redeem itself from our poor showing in the shipboard Olympics. I am going to try the “suck and blow”—it is a riot—and also a lip sinc to “All you need is Love.” We are rehearsing but just a bit ragged—will do our best. A “block” party tonight on the 7th floor hallway—getting rid of food and drink. We had a blast, must have been about 40 of us all together singing and talking. John gave a few poetic renditions. Breaking the rules around public alcohol, but nearing the end so what the hell. Students should see us know—we sealed off the doors.

Had some free internet, looked at my fantasy team—doing ok, around 4th. Another Talent Show rehearsal—we are definitely doing better. One of the faculty who is kind of on the outs with people—a bit of a strange lad—is in the lead singing and I think it will work and help him mend some fences. Another dinner party tonight in the lounge—Ann Shine, one of the senior passengers hosting with good wine and eats. We danced mainly to Latin music—a bit too much drumming for me but lots of fun as we heated up. We are pretty loose as the voyages moves into its final days. “Land Ho”—saw Trinidad early this morning which means just one more day to go to Venezuela. I am reading every chance I get, and the students are doing pretty well. We usually have a “happy hour” from five to six in the lounge, and we have our groups we hang with—John and Fay, Ralph and Faith. Pre-port tonight when we hear about Caracas and how to deal with the issues here—especially political upheaval and personal violence. We had a concert that was just excellent—young woman from Venezuela who joined us in Brazil. She would have fit in with the old Change of Pace crowd. Then, the talent show. Some good acts, serious and comic—one about a response to the Vagina Monologues called “Dong Diaries.” It was truly hilarious and the students responded in kind. And then our time—the faculty in action. We had three little skits and then the grand finale of “All you need is Love.” Standing ovation, the students loved it, and if I do say so, it went pretty well. Annie the dancing leader, we just followed her along and did fine. It really was a fine feeling to be so well received by these young people. It has been just so exciting being around them day after day and to have this final few days with them when work is being completed and “All we need is Love.” At midnight, John, Fay, Annie and I celebrated with a bottle of good wine. They have become good friends—gave us a photo painting she has done—her teaching on the ship has been in art and photography.

Landed in port in a small town called Guaira, about 20 miles over the mountain from Caracas. In 1999 there was a huge rain that last days and flooded here, crashing the hillsides down onto the town. Some 15,000 people died and it has basically not recovered—and another landslide this year. So it is pretty grim right close by. We received our American Counsel info this morning, and then off the ship for a tour of the city. No money exchange here but the U.S. dollar is in demand, especially on the black market. As we drove to the city, favelas just everywhere—squatters on the land and trying to make a living. A poor society, but with a government that seems not to be so corrupt and doing its best to bring about some semblance of social justice. We shall see. We traveled to an old hacienda, to the maseoleum where Simon Bolivar and many other patriots are buried. Pretty impressive. The Fine Arts Museum is one of the best anywhere, including Paris. Excellent variety and scope of all kinds of periods of painting and sculpture. We only had an hour or so, could use a day. One [exhibit] on baseball which is really the national pastime here, more so, I think, than the U.S. Even got to talk some baseball with a young lad—he knows more than I, which is saying something. A huge meat lunch (at the Hereford Grill) and then on for an hour or so in one of the large city parks just to spend some time out in the fresh air. In general, Caracas is big (8 million or so) and reasonably non-descript. Not a place I would return to.

A day of work for me, just reading papers and exams, finally getting close to the end. Annie went to town with three other women just for lunch and to do some shopping. Annie is great, only buys what she needs, and what we can carry. That will be a major issue before it is all over. Warm and humid here, seems to rain a bit each day and lots of clouds in the mountains. Women home just as the bar closed, managed a glass of wine. Annie bought only chocolate—indeed she is the woman of my dreams. Watched some movies—a really fine film called (I think) “The Station Agent”. Three unlikely friends put on a riveting performance. Next day was a day trip for us by van to a mountain village at five thousand feet about two hours away called Colonia Tovar. A little place settled by Germans in the 1800s, our guide was a German/Venezuelan mix, and he was knowledgeable and well-read. Cooler in the mountains, and just a lovely place. We got into four-wheeled drive vehicles and went up and down some pretty steep roads. Charming homes and farms, looked like the Alpine regions of Austria in a way. A fine pottery shop where we got some fancy bowls. It is strange to see German folks in a Latin setting—speaking both languages and seemingly at home in both cultures. Had a German style sausage, port chop, sauerkraut lunch with German beer. Go figure. Finally some time in the village square before boarding the bus for the tip back to the ship. A nice day in the country away from hustle and bustle. Even had a bit of cloud forest where the rain is pretty constant. Through some poverty and wealthy areas of living on the way back, people trying hard to get a handle on the economy—a one-crop country, only this time Oil, and right now it is doing pretty well. Be interesting to see how it works out if prices drop—saving for a rainy day I hope.

Last day in Caracas, I finished my exams and got all of the grades recorded. Students did pretty well—no one missed anything which is quite a change from the mainland classes. Water running low on the ship because of a local water pipe break—we usually just purify the local water. So, advice here is: Shower Together. Annie and I will do our best. We went for a long walk around the area—pretty depressing right here what with all of the calamity. Guaira does need some TLC. We continue our packing in anticipation of our landing in Florida in the next three days. Water shortage pretty serious, no showers or toilets until late tonight. Left before midnight and the sea is calm and peaceful. See most of you soon. Love and aloha, Carl and Annie

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Chronology Delineated

I have seen the ads for Historyshots and I really need one of these for the living room... the description of the print is cool, too.

Chronology Delineated, published in 1813, is the only collaborative work between James Wilson and Isaac Eddy. Wilson and Eddy were part of a talented group of engravers, publishers and map makers who lived in Windsor county Vermont, an important center of early printing in the United States.

Wilson was born in New Hampshire in 1763 and spent his early adult life as a farmer. In 1796 he moved to Bradford, Vermont where he became interested in geography and cartography. Wilson bought the third edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica for $130 and used it as a base for his self-taught knowledge of the social sciences. He became interested in globes when he visited Dartmouth College and observed a set of European-made globes. In 1810 he finished his first globe, a 13 inch globe that he sold for $50. In order to meet the demand for his globe, Wilson and his sons opened a second factory in Albany, New York.

Isaac Eddy was born in Weathersfield, Vermont in 1777. He was married twice and was the father of 13 children. From about 1812 to 1816, Eddy setup and operated a printing and engraving operation that became one of the creative hot spots in Windsor county. During this time he made the engravings for the first edition of the Vermont Bible, printed a number of books, and collaborated with Wilson. Two of his apprentices, Lewis Robinson and George White, became important artisans in the history of printing in Vermont. Eddy moved to Troy, New York in 1826 and died in 1847.

Based on the skills of each man, it is believed that Wilson engraved the text while Eddy engraved the pictures in Chronology Delineated. Evidently Eddy was also a master of early American marketing. Below is a portion of his 1814 prospectus for the print:

"Isaac Eddy, Engraver and Copper Plate Printer, Weathersfield, Vermont, has just published, and offers for sale, by the Hundred, Dozen, or Single a CHRONOLOGICAL CHART, to illustrate the History of Monarchical Revolutions. This Chart is the work of an eminent French Historian and Chronologer, and was first published at Paris. The encouragement it has met with among men of genius and learning is no small proof of its general utility. Since its first publication it has passed through twelve large editions in France, besides several in Great Britain. It is engraved on a copper plate, upward of three feet in length, and about two feet in width, and the work much finer than usual in works of this size....

It is represented by a Tree at the root of which is a Frontispiece, representing about 3o Beasts, Birds, etc. and the first man Adam giving names to them, as represented in the Book of Genesis. This has never been inserted in any European edition, and is executed in an excellent manner....

In short, it is the most concise and accurate system of chronology ever published, and intelligible to every person capable of reading. Nothing in the power of the Publisher, has been wanting to render the present edition accurate, and the impression elegant. Without arrogating too much to himself, he thinks he can safely affirm, that, in point of elegance, this edition is vastly superior to any before published, and, in this affirmation, he is supported by the opinion of Engravers of the first eminence.

To the Patrons of the Fine Arts, this work is addressed, - and since Literature in general is encouraged, and the fine arts are patronized; since the present is the first American edition, of a work so justly celebrated in Europe; and since it is at once useful, amusing and ornamental; the Publisher hopes to secure their approbation, and meet with liberal encouragement in this attempt to disseminate useful knowledge.

Gentlemen holding Subscription Papers, are desired to call or send, and receive their Copies, within three months, otherwise the Publisher will not consider himself holden to deliver them at the subscription price. Weathersfield, May 9, 1814."

an obvious must-have for the War of 1812 or Regency enthusiasts...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Green Day Tickets still available

if you missed this post from last week we still have some availability on these, so, as Madeleine Peyroux says, don't wait too long...

Monday, April 18, 2005

LBJ got this much right

asking why lasik surgery providing better than 20/20 vision isn't as outrageous as steroid use, this article in Slate yesterday struck a nerve... outrage over steroid use does strike me as a bit contrived and arbitrary... other factors, more mundane than lasik, can tip the competitive balance of athletic contests, particularly at the olympics, when educational and nutritional differences could obviously be determinitive between otherwise closely matched competitors...

If you accept, as LBJ did, that "equal opportunity" was nice,
"...(b)ut freedom is not enough. You do not wipe away the scars of centuries by saying: Now you are free to go where you want, and do as you desire, and choose the leaders you please.

You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, "you are free to compete with all the others," and still justly believe that you have been completely fair."
then you have to have some sense of how difficult it is to realize a truly level playing field for any of the games people play...

Saturday, April 16, 2005

napoleon dynamite action figures

you know what this from BoingBoing is asking for, don't you... I can see some people chartering a school bus solely for the purpose...

Friday, April 15, 2005

Green Day Tickets, May 4, John Labatt Centre, London, ON

as it happens, I have four tickets for the May 4th Green Day show in London, ON - anybody interested? what with Grant gone, we have a decision to make here:

to paraphrase the Clash, should we sell or should we go? Er, rather, I mean, I have some pottery for sale and, depending on how much you like the pots, I might throw in the tickets...

ideas, suggestions, offers? please use the comment section below... and don't wait too long, these appear to be in some demand, if EBay is any guide.


they were so excited, they hardly sat down before the concert, just stood around like this at the door, waiting to go...

Katy and Grant Posted by Hello

Sum41, John Labatt Centre, April 11

Bryce, Grant and Katy on their way in... I have other goofier pictures, so you'd better be good or I'll post them... and they aren't flattering, I can tell you that much now.

at the JLC for Sum41 Posted by Hello

friday lazy cats

here are the boys, assuming their usual afternoon attitude... they can be found here on the couch, or at the railing over the stair window, or in the sun by the front door...

millhouse and wilbur Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 14, 2005

if it's good enough for Wolcott

I was reading the blogrolls as I stumbled around the internets, and thusly came upon By Neddie Jingo, a blog among blogs, at Wolcott (where else?) ...

  • history blogging, as well as Frank Zappa - I'm all aquiver just to see what's next...
  • Neddie's (purloined?) mission statement, well, now, who wouldn't agree with that?
  • and then there's this, which Dan could tell me more about, and which forms the bones of a taxonomy of blogs at Neddie which I have only just begun to peruse...

Carl and Annie - back in the Americas

Sunday, April 9
Dear Friends and Family--Just a quickie to let you
know all is well. We have some free internet time this
morning so thought I would take advantage. The sail
from South Africa across the South Atlantic was smooth
and easy. We had a commemoration day about half way
across to honour the memory of all of the Africans who
died on the slave ships coming to the New World. Not a
pleasant part of history, but a part none the less and
it was special to have a ceremony. Over three million
came to Brazil, and here in Salvador the population is
mainly black and mixed. Lots of music and fun.

We actually arrived in Brazil a day early because one
of the students had an appendicitis attack and they
really picked up speed on the ship. Normally we go
about 17-18 knots and they had it cranked up to 30. We
were flying. Taught everyday as we sailed, and it is
really a wonderful experience. My last few classes
have just been like the students cannot talk enough
about the academic side as well as all they are
experiencing. If anyone ever has a chance to do
something like this, for sure take advantage. I know
that for our Nathan, Chella and James--this voyage
will one day be a part of their lives.

Today I am going to try to call London and talk with
Dan about family--but bottom line is baseball. Not
sure if we can get through easily but we shall see.
Right now, just sitting on the dock of the bay and
getting ready to go out and see this large, diverse,
mix-up country. Annie and I are going for a couple of
days to a nature preserve and an area which is one of
the major pottery making places in Brazil. Mainly
looking forward to getting outside and running down
some deserted country road. It has been a while. That
is it from this end, will write about the Brazil
experience when I get the chance. Only three weeks
left, we arrive in Florida on April 28 and should be
with Karen and Bernie for a day or so shortly after
and then on to see Jay and Grace in the North part of
the South country. Our lives are blessed for sure.
Take care you all you good folks. Love, Carl and Annie.

Thursday, April 14

Dear Family and Friends--Brazil is warm, humid and at
this time of year a bit rainy. We were a day early in
arriving so taught my two classes while sitting at the
dock. We were off the ship early the next morning
(Sunday, April 10), Annie went on a city tour of
Salvador with some friends and I arranged to have an
office at the shipping centre to make a five hour
phone call to London, Ontario and talk with Dan and
all about fantasy baseball. It was wonderful to be
with him, Annie even got a chance to talk with
MaryFrances. Nathan not at home, so missed him. I
think I got a pretty good team in the baseball draft, watch
out Dan Boone!!!! We went out to a student reception for
all of the ship and it turned into quite a party--too
much beer for everyone!

The next morning Annie and I were up early and on a
bus with 24 other passengers (about 50/50 with
students and adult passengers) to go for a three day
trip to an island in this bay called Boipeba. A quick
bus trip to a ferry, an hour over to an island called
Ixtapica (not sure of the spelling) where a bus was
waiting to take us to another boat. About a
three hour trip through some beautiful countryside and
we stopped at a small village, where all of the
residents are involved in pottery making. Our guide,
Charles, is an ex-pat from the U.S. and he has been
here for more than 20 years (he also owns the little
hotel where we are going). No tourists come to this
little village except when Charles brings the Semester
at Sea folks. We are quite a curiosity. People here
are wonderful--they are poor but it is not a grinding
poverty, they make ends meet. The children are healthy
and in school, quite different from some of our other
spots. The pottery making was superb, we bought a few
things to lug on home when the time comes. The people
work hard, it is a physical chore to shape all of the
clay and throw the various pots. They get the material
right from the river so everything is self contained.

On to a nice lunch at a friend of Charles and then
to the town called Valenca where we caught a slow boat
for the two hour sail to Boipeba. All we could think
of was the "African Queen." The boat was old and slow
and needed constant attention to keep going, but make
it we did, chugging and spewing all the way. The trip
down the Inferno estuary was just fantastic, all along
mangrove swamps with birds everywhere. It is a
brackish river--with tides from the Atlantic that make
it quite shallow in spots, had to pick our way. Had
some rain, bags a bit wet, part of the adventure. And
then at the end of the river, this little paradise set
right on the Atlantic Ocean--tides up and down, warm
water--kids jumped right in and swam. Small houses
that make up guest quarters, a little village with a
thousand or so residents. All turned out to greet us.
It was so special. The whole place reminds me of
something out of a novel where Westerners go to get
away from it all and just hang out. Charles and his
brother Mark run the place, and they are very
gracious. There has only been electricity here for
five years, so all is kept at quite a low key. No
motor vehicles of any kind, really a step back in time
but with good food, nice places to stay, and just
sweet people. A great special dinner in the thatched
room restauant, good wine from Chile. We had a music
and dance get-together with the local folks, many
young boys and girls in school and anxious to show us
their finery and their music and dance. It was all so
special, just like out of a dream. We were on the
beach late and then finally to our little cottage for
sleep--a good shower and bathroom were welcomed.

The next morning a breakfast of home made tapioca and
quiche and fruit. We are spoiled. We are beginning a
12 km hike to the other side of the island, up and
down over hills and valleys. First part though the
little village where we are greeted with smiles and
the ever present good day, bon dia. We stopped at a
very small and basic "bakery" where the old woman who
runs the place showed us the equipment. They do manioc
and tapioca--that is it and it is special to see the
good food that comes out of the care she puts into her
work. On to another little "factory" where with a
donkey and a large cement wheel, an old man extracts
the oil from palm nuts for cooking. It has been done
this way for decades, but will probably die out when
the old man dies because there are now some packaged
oils that come to the market. But, change is slow and
the old life remains.

One of our guides knocked down some coconuts and we
drank the sweet milk before heading out into the
jungle for the hike. It is mainly sand here, but
things do seem to grow. Had to take off our shoes
about five times to ford huge puddles from the rain,
often up to our knees. Finally just walked along
barefoot. One village where we had a beer, but mainly
just walking along and having Charles tell us all
about the flora and fauna. Hot, but Annie is really
feeling well these days and had not trouble with the
exercise at all. The "around the world" agrees with
her. After about four hours, we were at the ocean on
the other side of Boipeba, had a lunch waiting for us
and then out into the ocean where we found a sand bar
and all got off to swim. Annie and I walked and walked
out on the bar with water around our ankles, it is
paradise of an old variety. Kids swam and just loved
all of this adventure. Took the old boat which met us
back to the camp site, tired but fulfilled. We had
some down time and then another wonderful meal with
all of us just excited and tanned (burned) from the
hot day in the sun. The young folks went into the
village for more activity, music and dancing. Annie
and I stayed at the "resort" and played some bridge
with a couple of the senior passengers. We were pretty
exhausted and in bed early. Wine is good and we sleep
well--not much more to ask for.

Next morning I was up early--a heavy rain for about an
hour and then I ran on the beach with a rainbow as my
guide. Played with a puppy as I ran--felt a little
like I must be on a shipwrecked island. We packed up
bags for the trip home, but first a snorkel trip and
some time on the beach. Even found a few shells. Met
two Italian women who came to visit and just
stayed--it is the style here. The tide was going out
and our trip back to Valenca was pretty adventurous.
The boat got stuck on a sand bar about an hour out,
and five students got out to push and finally got us
under way again. The African Queen conquered in the
end and got us back to civilization. Sort of a rainy
day off and on, nice for travelling in the cooler
weather. Once again our bus waiting for us and we made
out way back to the ferry, this time a catamaran made
the quick trip to Salvador. Arrived after dark, but in
time for dinner on the ship. Some wine with friends, a
bit of a movie, and into our bed in our home away from
home. We had just a wonderful three days, and this
morning we are off to roam around the city before we
leave this evening for the next port. I give exams
next week, never a dull moment. About two weeks now to
go, it has been just difficult to describe all we have
seen and done. I hope this gives you some of the
flavour. Love and Aloha, Carl and Annie

"If you are lucky enough to live by the ocean, you are lucky enough"

welcome to Preston, ID

This pending bill in the Idaho legislature is, as Oxblog says, a clear sign that the Idaho legislature has too much time on its hands...

Is this a snark or a testimonial for the BigWest or Sunbelt conferences?

WHEREAS, Uncle Rico's football skills are a testament to Idaho athletics

and you won't believe what they have to say about Kip and LaFawnduh's relationship...

Sunday, April 10, 2005

belated cat blogging

Wilbur liked the pizza last month so much, he never cooks anymore. Its always takeout, now... he likes the bobo tray with szechuan chicken...

wilbur in the bag Posted by Hello

Friday, April 08, 2005

a directory of wonderful things

BoingBoing is just what it claims to be... witty, urbane, risque, and with a modicum of Canadian sensibility, yet...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

turn, turn, turn

Wolcott sees over the horizon... interesting times, indeed. I still just don't see how this worm didn't turn before November last... sigh...

Our political system has failed us, our media have failed us, and neither have any inkling of the Wagnerian drama about to unfold.

UPDATE: hadn't seen this from Bob last week, but he seems every bit as gloomy as Wolcott...

Funny, I haven't seen the TV anchors mentioning this at all.

Looking at the CNN website right now: ooh, there's a new appeal in the Schiavo case, a Boy Scout leader enjoys boys wearing knickers, Hilary Swank has legal trouble, Jerry Falwell is sick, 300,000 people are dead without context in Sudan, Moby has a new album, and there's a special report on how Katherine Harris' political career is going.

You'd think CNN would at least mention the likely self-inflicted demise of civilization.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sarah has a blog, too

Sarah has her own blog at Summer Watermelons

so far, much cat blogging about Wilbur and Millhouse

Carl and Annie to South Africa

with the Maasai Posted by Hello

here is the latest from the gregarious Grindstaffs...

KENYA, CAPETOWN AND OFF TO BRAZIL (March 22 to April 1, 2005)

Dear Family and Friends—We sailed for six days from Mombasa, Kenya to Capetown, South Africa. The days went by pretty easily, with smooth sailing until reaching near the
Cape where the seas were a bit rough but feeling fine. Teaching is regular and somewhat hectic at sea, but I like the classes and students so no major chore—just busy all of the time. Had a couple of classes on AIDS issues, and some on ethnic minorities as we close in on South Africa. Annie has been taking some classes and doing some choir work—they sang for us one evening, doing African type songs and it was wonderful. There is always lots of music and lectures going on around the ship—not enough time for everything interesting. A full moon on Good Friday, getting close to port on Easter Sunday morning. We do lose track of the days here—just an “A” day and a “B” day for teaching purposes. I have three classes everyday two days at sea, and lots of preparation and grading—students write port reports which are fun to read but time consuming. Some of the student living decks (they are named after seas, Atlantic, Pacific, etc) have a party that is located in the faculty/staff lounge, and Annie and I try to get to them so that we can meet lots of the students, plus a glass of wine or two which we seldom turn down.

And then, we found ourselves in Capetown. What with the apartheid regime, we thought we would never make this journey. But, when the freely elected govt came in in 1994, it more or less opened everything to tourism. What an upscale town, the waterfront reminds us very much of False Creek in Vancouver, but more activity and excitement, with a vibrant night life of music and restaurants. At this location, black and white mix together easily, more white than black. We went on a city tour just to get our bearings, and saw some of the “underside” of the city and country—the poor townships where literally millions of black folks live without many amenities. The harsh underside of a pretty thriving place. It is Fall here and fairly cool, but we had a drink outside in the evening and listened to some jazz music, very civilized indeed.

The next day we took a bus to the wine country, about an hour away from here. Then had some bikes and rode around the lovely countryside—like Napa many years ago. Some good wines, and we had quite a few samples. Back home via some townships, a pretty rough slum living area. But the new government is making improvements and it will be interesting to see what will happen in the next few years. Some major progress around race relations that has happened in the past 10-15 years. Dressed for a wonderful theatre night at Capetown University, nearly 200 of us attended from the ship. A play about the personal tragedies of apartheid called The Syringa Tree. Touching, sad, hopeful. A one woman show, she was marvelous. The next day we were up early for a two day field trip to an area called Kagga Kamma where we had a couple of “game” drives, pretty tame after Maasai Mara.. Did see a few grazing animals, but mainly it was nice to be is the countryside. Spectacular rock formations—reminds us some of Bryce Canyon in Utah. It is high desert country, and there has been a drought lately so it is really dry. Main attractions are rock paintings which were done by the San people, locally called Bushman. The paintings have been here for several thousand years and have survived all of the rain, wind and erosion. Annie and I stayed literally in a cave that had a room built around it. Totally a tourist experience, but mucho funo. I did manage to get in an outdoor run which was soul cleansing. We also had a night drive where the sky is so clear that you feel like the stars are there for the picking. Southern sky is quite a bit different, but we could see Orion, the Southern Cross, Gemini. Good food, a nice experience of just sitting back and taking it all in. We drove home via an old Afrikaner village, sort of like the pioneer village in London, only more elaborate. All of those folks scratched out a pretty meager living in a very difficult environment We are smuggling wine on board the ship—rules do not allow faculty to bring alcohol. Corruption of students or some such thing. Anyway, we managed to sneak a couple of bottles of the good South African red to fortify our dwindling cellar.

Our last day in port, very windy and the sea is rough. That delayed us until the following morning, but no major problems doing this in that we have some time to spare. They take weather into account a bit in planning the itinerary. Some last minute shopping in this affluent ocean side community—Annie was frugal and I bought a nice walking stick. We try to get a good music CD at each port—this time Ladysmith Black Mambazo. They have that wonderful choral sound. We were off while I was teaching my “A” day 8 am class, and we had a bit of a roller coaster day at sea, but both of us feeling fine. An eight day trip across the Atlantic to Brazil—will write to you from there after a few days in Salvador. The adventure is going fine, we are healthy and enjoying being around all of these young folks. I am sure they think of us as their grandparents, and that is fine—we miss our kids so much so it is a little substitute. Finished in less than four weeks, hard to imagine all of the wonderful experiences we have had as we make our way around the globe. Love and aloha, Carl and Annie.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

cobble hills Posted by Hello

Friday, April 01, 2005

Friday cat-blogging bonus track

so cute, but right now they both smell something awful...

wilbur2 Posted by Hello

Friday cat-blogging

not feeling so on top of the world today, is Wilbur... he and his bro were fixed and manicured this week, and are presently much subdued...

wilbur1 Posted by Hello