Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What Science Has Done for Hawaii

With the current debate about the Thirty Meter Telescope raging on in and out of the real and digital world, a coworker and myself sat down to refute a sign that he saw located at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.  Located near the library is a sign that simply reads: "What has science done for Hawaii?"

This has to be one of the most infuriating statements made during this debate about the telescope.  While I realize that people are entitled to their own opinions about the placement of the new telescope, the only reason that we have such a high standard of living in this state is due to the impact of science.

Odds are, many people reading this list are only alive today thanks to the impact of science on their lives. Did you ever catch a cold? Take antibiotics? Have blood-sugar issues? Etc. Science has quite literally saved you.

I realize that not all of the protestors are against science, but we have to drop this black and white polar-opposite bullshit. You can be for the telescope and still respect Hawaiian history just as much as you can be for Hawaiian history and still love science and exploration.  The world is full of grey areas and we are sliding back to a time where we have to choose sides. This is beyond rediculuous. 

We may never live to see a time where the knowledge that we learn from such an impressive scientific instrument as the Thirty Meter Telescope is useful to our everyday lives, but how dare we not think of our children and advance science for them?

All this being said, my coworker and I sat down and came up with a quick list of what science has done for Hawaii. In no order of importance, here goes:

Diabetes Medication
Hanson's Disease - Cured
Birth Control
Better Agricultural Methods
Sailing Technology
Sewer Systems
Subsidized Healthcare
Tsunami Warning Programs
Earthquake Safety Measures
Animal-transferred disease control
Sterilization - milk
Sterilization - medical (surgery/hospital)
End of life care
Cancer treatments
Lowered infant mortality rates
STI prevention and treatment
Engines and Generators
Alternative Energy
Buoys and Water Systems
Water treatment plants
Polio - Cured
Crop Rotation
Trash Incinerators
Weather Reports
Weather Proofing and Rust Proofing
Endangered Species Act
Diet Diversification
Wire Transfers
Invasive Species Control
Hot Water
Mixed fabrics
Genetic Diversity 
Literacy and Education
Environmental Protection
Economic Diversity
Radar and Sonar
Global Positioning System
Social Media
Theater and Diversified Entertainment

Feel free to let me know if I missed something.

There are plenty of places on this earth and in the pacific in particular where the light of science has not reached. Visit one of those places, see how people live. I for one am quite glad that I have many things on the list from above. 

For all of you out there who are protesting the telescope, please find better arguments than the aformentioned "what has science done for hawaii" method. The only reason that the protest has gained any support outside of Hilo is soley due to science, and the only reason that many people will live to tell their grandkids about the time they protested to protect what they held dear is due solely to science.

Don't mistake your enemy, because you will lose support because of rediculuous claims. You don't want to be labeled as just anti-science protestors and thus dismissed as anti-establishment disenfranchised wash-outs of the system. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Why Tortoises are Sociopathic Murder Machines

We had the opportunity a few months ago to take care of a pet tortoise for a few weeks.  For anyone who thinks that this is a good or cute thing, let me tell you now, it is far from that.  Tortoises seem super cute, they look like they would just putter around, making for cute pictures and taking up space in the corner of a room.  They straight-up suck at life.  They are the hell-spawn of reptiles.  Seriously.  I have no clue how something that slow can be such a terror, but what they lack in speed is made up in sheer terror inducing looks, sounds, and actions.

First off, tortoises hiss.  I never knew this.  We went into this adventure with instructions on what to feed the tortoise, how long to let it wander the yard during the day, and to just let it be by itself in the oversize dog carrier during the non-yard time.  Having a tortoise is much like having a convict in a maximum security prison.  The tortoise wants nothing more than to kill you, escape the yard, and probably wear your skin in the course of the escape.  I am pretty sure that when it was marking days on the side of the carrier and putting a poster over the hole it was slowly digging with a rock hammer.  

Yeah, sure, it looks cute.  My wife is holding it and smiling.  Something might be wrong with her.  If you got to close to the head, it would hiss violently and retract into the shell.  Too close to the other end and it might poop on you.  It also had this weird thing that it did every few days where it pooped out while calcium deposits.  No clue what the hell that meant, but yeah, pretty sure it was just possessed by Satan.  

See, the problem with tortoises is they lure you in with a false sense of calm.  They are just slow moving animals, the size of dogs, that will outlive you.  They know they will see your demise.  You know they will slowly dance on your grave.  There is no elaborate symbiosis here, just them using you for food and then hissing at you if you show any affection.  

I am betting they were both born the same year and that tortoise will probably get passed down like a suit of samurai armor.  I can only imagine when the grandson get it in some elaborate ceremony... oh the look of elation as he inherits the noble family tortoise.
Now, of course the tortoise loved to wander the yard, making hissing noises, chomping on plants, and generally terrorizing the neighborhood, but it was the cage that was the scary locale.  

It would throw what I am going to call "turtle temper tantrums" - I love a good alliteration.  

It would spend a half hour out of every few hours trying to climb the side of its cage, making horrible scratching noising and sounding like it was murdering a small animal.  It was terrifying.  It wanted out.  It needed blood.  I am so glad it did not have the ability to use thumbs and open the cage door.  

My wife thought it was cute.  She would let it wander the house.  I remember quite clearly laying on the bed and looking down towards the door.  This is what I saw.  Slowly moving down the hallway, not that dissimilar to a shark going in for the kill, was the damn tortoise.

I am not going to lie.  I stayed on the bed.  Thankfully the damn thing did not know how to climb up on the bed.  It also had a heck of a time attacking the mirror image of itself in our closet door mirror.  What a sociopath!

I swear, for the two weeks we had that damn tortoise, I thought the last thing I would see one night would be it standing over my face, about to dive in for the kill.  I did not want that creepy beak to be the last thing I ever saw.

I can only imagine it saying "nom nom nom Rico blood."

To give you a feeling of just how terrifying they can be when they attack, here is a video I shot of it munching down on some perfectly healthy and defenseless orchids.  


Time-lapse movies sure make a tortoise attack a lot scarier...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Bridge Project - 2014

The Bridge Project in my geometry class of 2014 was nothing short of amazing in both the complexity of some of the designs and the overall success of the students who participated in the project.  The rules were very simple -
1. Use any materials that were provided to span a distance of 18 inches at a width of 4 inches.  
2. You could use any design that you felt would best support the weight of textbooks as they were placed in the middle.
3. A bridge was considered broken when the books hit the floor.  Bending and twisting was fine as long as the bridge survived and held the books up off the floor.  

Of course all the students started off with some simple designs and with some prodding we were able to start to incorporate some of the better geometric shapes that one would see in simple trestle style bridges.  

I warned them that there would be twists and that we would introduce rules that would either simplify or make the bridge building progress more complex depending on their ability to maneuver through the changing environment.

This project coincided with the history class learning about communism and capitalism during the cold war, so of course both the history teacher and myself decided that we had to figure out a way to separate the groups based on east/west and have them act out a bit of the Iron Curtain time period along with the differences between a simplistic capitalism and a simplistic communism style economies.

New rules were introduced.  On an arbitrary day I told the classroom that the west side was not capitalist and the east side was communist and proceeded to give the capitalist side more sticks to solidify them as my "favorite group" and started to foment a bit of discord with the differences in the economies.  I also allowed both side the ability to form "black markets" to sell items such as wood glue, foil, tape, and other construction materials to make their bridges better and stronger.  This led them to having to make a choice between a large amount of sticks "materials" or a large amount of specialty items.  Of course the currency was only in stick, and soon kids were trying to find ways to get more sticks for any little thing. 

Now it was time to work on the communist side a little bit.  The history teacher came in one day with a bag full of sticks and made an elaborate show of handing them out to only the groups that sided with him.  We had some harsh words, (in jest of course), to build more tension and then he left.  

The next history class I "air-lifted" in sticks to my groups while they were in his class.  Harsh words ensued and the mood started to feel downright nationalistic.  We then decided it was time for a propaganda campaign.  Both sides were encouraged to have their own leaders who of course were paid for their services in sticks, and also worked to create a bit of discord and spy on the opposing sides.  These groups held lunch rallies, and started taping up slogans and signs in the opposing classrooms.  

The game was on.

After a great few weeks of teaching them both how easy it was to build micro-economies and how fast one can give into nationalistic zeal, it was time to do the best part of the project.  Stack weight on the bridges until they gave way in a catastrophic failure that would get caught on slow-motion camera.

The video is about three minutes long and shows all the collapsing bridges.  The winner held an amazing 190 pounds (me standing on it).

At the end of the unit we had a bit of reflection on how they felt about the project and how the economic systems played into it.  Based on the feedback I am sure that the time period in history was much more interesting based on our cross-curricular approach.  

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Correct Way to Feed Chickens

I have no doubt that any reader of this blog has had the opportunity to throw bits of food at animals that are lower on the food chain than themselves, but feeding chickens is a form of art that is lost on many people.  I went to Samoa, thinking that I knew how to correctly feed chickens, sadly I was quite mistaken.  Not only was I throwing the food quite poorly, but I also had the audacity to make the wrong chicken noises.  Little did I know that chickens make different noises depending on their home language.  Go figure?

Well, perhaps it is easier for you to just see what happened.  I am pretty sure that I went from being a level 0 chicken feeder to a master that day.  Win for me!

Status Update: One Month In

One month of writing has gone by and I felt that it was time to take a step back and look at what worked and what did not.  So far I have written about 50 posts and had a total viewership of 2,750.  What started as a quasi-dare by my wife has grown into a bit of a monster and taken on a life of its own in my mind.  While I have recently discovered that writing can be quite fun if done about a subject that one is interested in, I am sure that I would shock any of my teachers if they were to see me producing 50 different posts in the time period of a month.  Seems like writing just took quite a bit of time to take hold in me and is now starting to come to fruition.

The good:
So far I have had a lot more viewership than I thought I would.  I started this more as an activity to vent and put memories to "paper" so to speak.  Granted I have made it public and posts that I thought were actually somewhat decent I have published to both Google+ and Facebook, but I did not expect to have so many people tell me they both enjoy my writing and read my writing on such a regular basis. 

Guess there are a lot of sarcastic assholes in the world.

The bad:
I am still working on how to make posts that have a good length and "feel" to them.  I am sure that this is different for each person, and while I am pretty sure that my "voice" is quite evident in my writing, I still need to work on the presentation.  Thankfully blogger has been a great website to start with and using the various tools on here I have learned how to embed videos, how to start my own page (the one you are now on has a different u.r.l. than the one that was started), and work on formatting to make the page cell phone friendly.

Guess I am slowly figuring out the learning curve, and with travel looming in only a few months, I should be up and running full speed to bring you my adventures during the preparation, moving, and full-time living in a new country.

Here we go!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Most Brutal Run on Hawaii Island

The second I post this, I know I am going to get a few messages in my inbox stating that I am wrong and there are plenty of brutal runs on Hawaii Island, and there is no way that the Ka'u Coffee Run is the worst out there.  For you naysayers, shush.  My blog, my whining, my opinion.

However, feel free to email me an article stating why the particular run you did on Hawaii Island is worse and I will be more than happy to publish it on this blog.  

No, anyone who runs knows that there is nothing worse than hills, heat, and loose terrain.  The Ka'u Coffee run met this trifecta and more.  

The best part of this run is just how unprepared I was for the sheer brutality it brought - I had been training for only half-marathons on flat road surfaces.  To put this in perspective, this would be like going from swimming in a pool to jumping into the ocean and expecting to be just as fast, or perhaps to go from running on a treadmill and then thinking you were going to be an all-star at beach running.  There are certain activities within the same sport that just don't translate.  Street running to trail running is one of those things.  

Plus hills suck!

The race started out easy enough, lovely fields of coffee plants, some bushes here and there, and then when the 5k runners cut out and took a nice left back to sanity, it hit the fan.  It was straight up hill.  There was no mercy at all.  

13.1 Miles Seemingly Straight Up

I know that it would seem like it is all exaggeration, but it just kept on going from bad to worse.  There were gaps in the trail to jump, river beads to skirt, rocky hills to climb...


Thankfully the views from the top were amazing.  Granted, at the time, I had no clue just how high up the "top" was, nor that there was a false peak.  If you have ever been hiking and thought you made it to the top of the mountain, only to see a new peak appear in front of you, you know how disheartening that can be,

Way Too Damn High

Thankfully I ten to not check out the altimeter on my running program while I am out for a run.  This is one of those times that I would have just been crushed if I was in the habit of looking.  Thank God I avoided that.

Up and Up

My favorite is that last damn bump right before the finish line.  What sort of sadomasochistic person designed this course?  Was that first climb not enough?  How about the second and third?  Of course not.  They decided that they just had to add one more horrific experience to finish off what was bound to be a long and sore day.  God only knows how I did not turn an ankle or die.  

Still My Favorite Run Shirt

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Starbucks in Waimea

During the course of writing a blog post I had the opportunity to watch humanity while sitting outside a Starbucks in Waimea.

There will not be pictures as this is a small island and I have no desire to get my ass kicked.

The following observations are totally and completely judgmental because I am an asshole.  There is no point in trying to deny my ways, so sit back and enjoy.

The first person of interest would have to be the very blonde white lady who is wearing a see-through dress and is giving out relationship advice and bragging about her uncle who runs a business.  I am very happy for her placement in society, but also have no need to see her thong.  Thanks for that random white lady.  By the way, if you have been divorced three times you might not want to give out relationship advice.  She also has super-human intuition and her friends follow her blindly.  It must be difficult being so perfect.

The second will get to be a group of teenagers who are wasting time and pretty much wasting air-space near me.  Thanks for your extremely stupid conversation that has made me dumber just by being in your vicinity.  I am starting to think that teenagers should be banned from public locations for reasons of supporting public health and morale.

The third amazing people watching observation would have to be the people on their way to a wedding, possibly the bride and groom in a rental car running in to get coffee.  I have been there and done that.  You will need a lot more coffee.  Trust me.  Also, way to hold open the door for her buddy.  Nothing says classy like holding open the door while holding a soy latte add-shot caramel walled frappuchino.  You win.

The fourth person that got to observe was the guy who was coming down from drugs and wanted to sit at my table with me while I wrote.  He had to be the most pleasant person of the day.  Thankfully he also did not try to hang around too long, as he had to go off and smoke a cigarette.  I would take a drug addict over teenagers any day of the week.

Last group - the teenage girl towing a guy around with her.  Hand holding is cute, but if you are dragging the guy around, he probably does not want to be holding hands with you.  Just so you know, if he wants to be with you at that point, he will be keeping pace.

God, I love Starbucks and being judgmental.  Something about sitting on a laptop, belittling my fellow humans while sipping a black coffee just makes me feel like a better person.  Yeah, pretty sure I am a horrible person, but we all secretly love to do this.  At least I am honest about it.

Street Art of Kaka'ako

During a recent trip to Oahu I had the chance to visit Kaka'ako for the first time in about five years.  I love what they have done with the place.  Not only have they gone through and made it quite a beautiful place with all the public art, they have added free neighborhood-wide wi-fi.  Talk about awesome!

The only thing that sucks about Kaka'ako now is the hipsters.  I will never understand why anyone wants to be a hipster or likes hipsters.  Damn, they are annoying.

However, without any further complaining, some of the awesome street art of Kaka'ako, Hawaii:

I do not know what the hell is going on with that. I think it is an alien from the Simpsons and it is currently on acid.

The Great Wave of Las Vegas... I think. Love the mixture of the Great Wave of Kanagawa mixed with a bad ass Geisha? Or some form of Kyoshi Warrior from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

That is some messed up anatomy and physiology class right there. It also stands to reason that the picture is really how a dog looks on the inside. I guess...

For some reason this calls to me - I fewl like it is something out of Cowboy Bebop... 

Just looked it up - I was right.

Photo Credit 1

See what I mean? I nailed that one!

This last one is just cool due to the fact that it seems to have been pressure-washed or chisled into the siding. Pretty interesting way to make an impression... Get it? Impression? Damn it. 

Geocaching the Big Island

Nothing is better than spending a day randomly hiking in the woods and exploring new trails.  Thankfully geocaching was invented for nerds like myself to encourage us to get out and explore the world while still getting to use technology.

Nothing is better than using space-age technology to find tupperware hidden by fellow dorks in the woods.  Thank God for nerds with a lot of spare time on their hands.

The day started out with a quick hike down a native plant trail in Waimea, Hawaii.  I absolutely love the bridge that I found while hiking.  Thankfully there were two geocachers that were hidden near the site of the bridge so that added to the allure.  Also, did I mention it was a pretty cool little bridge?

Cool, Right?

After a few new finds, I was glad to find this guy with my eyes and not my hands.  Thankfully I noticed it before I decided to squat down and reenact something out of Loony Toons.  


For some reason, I always find it quite funny to think of cactus growing in Hawaii.  I know that we have almost all of the climates that exist here on the Big Island of Hawaii, but it still never ceases to amaze me with the diversity that one can see in a day.  I started the day out in a tropical rain forest that was getting a deluge of rain, and by lunch I was hiking around in the middle of what I would consider a desert with cactus and brush.  Go figure!

One of the other joys of caching is finding some of the random historical location that are scattered throughout the island.  Down an aptly named "mud lane" you can find an old Portuguese oven located about 100 feet back in the woods.  You can either find it by searching the woods for the three miles that it takes to get there, or you can get the GPS coordinates to the geocache that is located inside the oven that dates to 1927.  Your choice.

See How Good You Look After 90 Years in the Jungle

While out geocaching you do tend to run into various other people or animals.  Of course, the last thing you want to run into is something that is predatory.  Thankfully the native Hawaiian jaguar is a bit rare these days, so the worst you tend to run into are these guys.

Known to Eat Humans...

The best thing while out geocaching is not always the cache, but what you see when you are not expecting anything at all.  Of course there will always be something to see in nature that just takes your breath away, but sometimes little gems like this pop into your life. 

Gotta Love Innuendo

Friday, April 17, 2015

Impromptu Hiking

There is a certain in wandering randomly in the hills. Sadly many of us don't have that secret hiding spot or beautiful meadow to spend a lazy afternoon. I know that I am the sort of person that would never be happy in a "concrete jungle" and have always sought to find my place in the quieter cousin of that locale. 
One afternoon we decided to take a break from packing and explore a trail that we had been meaning to experience for quite some time.
There is nothing like moving to make places like this move higher up on your "to-do" list. 
Off we went, it was a beautiful day, the trail was empty, and we got to see quite a few places in a much more pristine manner than they will be a few years from now when we are able to explore them again. 

After hiking for a few miles, wandering through forests of shifting light from the old growth canopy and listening to bird that must have not seen people in quite some time, we came to this ominous sign. 

Yeah, middle of no where and there are closed circuit cameras? Thanks Patriot Act!!!

i am going to bet there is one hidden right in that gnarled part of the tree. Big brother is always watching eh?

Apparently Big Brother also had a message for the mysterious Davey. 

Moral of the story is this - don't pee in the woods, there is probably someone watching you on a CC TV camera.

Baywatch: Hilo Watershed

When you are married to Danielle, messages about finding random animals are pretty normal. I have come to accept that my house pretty much serves as a halfway home for anything with feathers or fuzz, but this story was as bizarre as it was heroic.

She wrote up a great blog post on it, but the cut and dry version is this:

She and a friend went hiking together, most likely to escape having to be around me, but that is another story...

In a stroke of fatalistic luck, they happened across two dogs, one that was near drowning and another that was going to do whatever it took to alert a someone of the impending doom of its' compatriot. 

Branches were extended, but as dogs are not known for their use of opposable thumbs and this dog had been trying to claw a way up the side wall for quite some time, she knew she had to swim and rescue her new friend.

She took the plunge, into water that had god-knows-what in it, with debris on the bottom, and pulled this beautiful dog to safety. The look on the dogs face says everything.

They both were so happy when she was out of the water. The brown pit, which we referred to as "oinky" could not stop loving on his friend. Talk about a happy ending that was only made possible by a few people being in the right place at the right time!

Both dogs found their ways back home to their owners after some social media searching, but not until we had enough time to take some great photos of them, and get all the lovin' we could handle.

That last photo was shot right at the exact moment that "oinky" stopped licking himself and turned around and licked me in the mouth... 

Gotta love dogs :)

Monkey Whispering

There have been relatively few times in my life where I have had the opportunity and will to unleash my little-known superpower on the world.  I have on a few occasions had the ability to conjure a hope or need into physical existence by saying something similar to "I sure wish I would be able to see _________."  Of course, we could just chalk any of these situations up to the idea that I must have said this thousands of times in my life and based on even the worst statistics, it has to come true at least a few times.

This is a story of two of those times.

We had been in Japan for about a week when I made the realization that they have monkeys in that country.  Having always lived in a country that did not have any monkeys outside of zoos and terrible movie remakes, I knew that I needed to see monkeys in the wild before I left.  I have never actually heard of a single person who was happy to see a monkey in the wild as they are usually raging assholes to humans (check out this post by my wife and her trip in Malaysia).

We were on our drive from Kyoto to Obama I made mention to the car driver that I had not seen monkeys on the trip and was really hoping to see them.  I had barely gotten the words "I sure would like to see mon..." out of my mouth when we saw a group of monkeys on the side of the road.  It was amazing.  I had a superpower.  Sadly I squandered my magic on summoning a group of monkeys to be seen for only about five seconds.

Not Worth It
Photo Credit 1

Now, you might think that this is not the best use of superpowers, but this was just the beginning.  

The moment that I knew that I was blessed beyond the scope of a mere mortal was when I was at HawaiiCon.  I was sitting near the elevators with my wife, just killing some time while we waited for our room to be cleaned and ready for check in at the Hapuna Price Hotel when I made mention that I really hoped to see Colonel Tigh from Battlestar Galactica.  Who walks out of the frakking elevator?  Colonel Saul "The Music is in the Frakking Ship" Tigh.  

Frakkin' Cylon!
Photo Credit 2

Talk about a man-crush!  Yeah, I win for the most amazing stalker photo with an awesome celebrity.  Yeah, Colonel Tigh is my spirit animal.  

I am a Dork!

Photo Credit 1: http://www.japan-guide.com/g2/6040_04.jpg
Photo Credit 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Tigh#/media/File:Tigh_Season_3.jpg

School of Athens

Out of all of the artwork that I was able to see on my trip to Rome, the little known painting that sits just outside the Sistine Chapel is my favorite.  Most people on their pilgrimage to the Sistine walk right past it, and continue on to the small room that has a pretty fancy ceiling.  Little do those people know that the fresco and paint that they walked past is probably one of the finest examples of inclusion in the Catholic Church.  

Besides the fact that I am a math teacher and pretty much anyone who was anyone appeared in this painting, the most amazing part is that it was commissioned by the Catholic Church, which was not known at the time for being a very accepting place for anyone who was not white, male, and rich.  If you did not happen to fit into that category, you were very much a second class citizen within your own religion.  Times have changed of course, but that is why I love this painting so much, it was centuries beyond the paradigm of the day.

Take a look at the photo, see if you can notice the subtle diversity:

Look Closely
Photo Credit 1

Is that a brown guy talking to a white chick in the lower-left of the picture?  Check it out.  See that moody guy sitting there on the desk or whatever?  Look to his left.  Brown guy and a white chick.  Awesome.  Wow, also check out the archway on the right side.  More brown guys!  Way to go Catholics!

This was the early 1500's.  The Arab world had created math and pretty much everything else worth living for centuries earlier than most of the Western World, but of course very few Westerners were willing to acknowledge that in any way whatsoever. 

Not Raphael.  Homie don't play that.  In a time of crusty white people pretty much ruling anything God/Government - he threw an awesome display of diversity right down the street from the seat of power. Talk about a rebel.  Makes Banksy seem kinda like a poser.

Hypatia was so Bad Ass!
Photo Credit 2

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Water Baloon-er New Year!

We recently had the unique opportunity to celebrate Songkran (Thai Lunar New Year) with a few friends of ours with a massive water fight at their home - which turned into an all out water brawl.  Thankfully there was no permanent damage, that we know of at the time of this blog post.  As the couple that hosted this event are readers of the blog, I might have to make an edited version of this post later to explain the damages to their house and possible devaluation of their property due to massive amounts of unexplored ordinance that was left over from our battle.

Songkran is an amazing example of old customs mixed with new ideas.  From what I gather, the ceremony started with the idea of purification and washing away old transgressions, and evolved into an amazing festival/water battle.  If the chaos that ensued when 10 adults got together for songkran can be extrapolated to a country of 67,000,000, I am surprised that anything or anyone is left standing at the end of the festival.  I can only assume that this a three day free-for-all involving alliances, shifting factions, and general chaos.

The real Songkran takes place over three days and seems to be a free-for-all.  No one is safe.  No one.
The pictures that I have found online make me both terrified and excited to be there for the celebration next year.  I am sure that if our mini celebration this year is any sort of example, I probably will die somewhere in day two from either pulmonary edema, or some form of blunt force trauma.
Run while you can!
Photo Credit 1

Songkran Drive By
Photo Credit 2

Now, this may all seem like no big deal, just some water in the lungs, who cares right?  But then comes the chalk.  Are you freaking kidding me?  Let's add some powder?  Yeah, coughing up water now just turned into coughing up paste. 

So Happy...
Photo Credit 3

Our own festival started out civilized.  Chaos swiftly ensued.  Vows of friendship were forsaken for the time period of about three hours.  Tentative head shots with squirt guns turned into full force water balloon shots.  Ammo caches were hidden, water sources were like hoarding liquid gold.  No one and no where was safe.  If you did not want to be wet, the best option was to choose one direction and run like hell.  Even that would have been met with a volley of water balloons and jeering.  

It was awesome. 

The food spread was also amazing.  Our friend had stayed up all day cooking some amazing dishes and during our brief peace lull, much like the Christmas peace of WWI, both sides got together, put down our arms, and broke bread in peace.  

Then the war started up again in earnest.  

Groins were hit with loaded water balloons, babies were sort-of avoided, one black eye was given, but in the end it was all smiles.  

Needless to say, as I type this with some aches on my body and my eye slowly recovering from a direct hit, I am beyond excited for next year.

Happy Songkran Everyone!

Photo Credit 1: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/46/Tuktuk_chiangmai_songkran_05b.jpg
Photo Credit 2: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Songkran_012.jpg
Photo Credit 3: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/76/Songkran-4-KayEss-1.jpeg

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your... Body Parts...

After only a few hours in Rome, any traveler begins to notice that there is something just a bit odd about the statues...

They are almost all missing one very key feature that is considered an integral part of at least half of the human population.  

There is a story that floats around the historical circles, which of course is probably just unsubstantiated rumor, about a Pope that got pissed off and went on a hunt to emasculate all of Rome.  Well, the statues that is.  The story goes on to say that there is a box of... bits... somewhere in the Vatican.

Of course, this is all rumor and hear-say, but if anyone from the Vatican ever happens upon this blog, I would love an official statement on that.  Please contact me.  

Just in case - here it is in Latin - amabo te, perscribe ad me.

Now, just in case you were wondering, I was able to find some examples of statues that had all of their bits, and some that did not.  Of course, this leads to another question.  What the hell was Hercules thinking when he was deciding to slay the Hydra naked?


Perhaps it is just me, but even the thought of cooking something like bacon without a shirt on can send me into a panic attack, so what is he thinking?  Yes, it is a multi-headed beast, and he is searing the decapitation wounds closed while posing with it on his upper thigh.  While he most certainly lacks the basic human intelligence that we figured out when we first harnessed fire, he sure has swagger.  Guess we have to give him that.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Capuchin Crypt

In my relatively short time on this earth, I have never seen anything half as weird as the Capuchin Crypt in Rome.  It is one of those places that pictures can hardly do justice to in trying to recreate the shocking feeling of walking through room after room that has been decorated by human remains.  

We waited across the street for a while, looking at the unassuming double staircase that is right next to the entrance of the crypt and monastery.  Upon entering we were ushered down a small passageway that led to a series of viewing areas that were on the left side as you walked in.  There is nothing that can prepare you for the utter surrealism of seeing the bones of deceased monks displayed in ornate set-ups and the knowledge that this was exactly how they wanted to be seen after death.  Chandeliers of rib bones, tables made of femurs, walls wallpapered in skulls.  It has a feeling of some sick sadist joke, but also an odd feeling of reverence.  

Nice Centerpiece 
Photo Credit 1

It only gets weirder and weirder as you head further into the crypt.  Honestly, it gets to the point where you no longer even feel like it is shocking and are starting to look for some decorating tips.  I find myself now thinking about the fact that if I ever have any vertebrae and some pelvises lying around I know that I can make a very lovely end table.  Of course it will be hard to find a lamp for it that would go with the motif, but one cannot be faulted for trying.  

So Welcoming
Photo Credit 2

I guess that the moral of the story is that someone should be allowed to do whatever they like with their remains.  These monks spent their life in service of their monastery, I guess they should be allowed to decorate it as well when they are no longer able to care for it in the physical sense.  Sure.  That is what we are going to go with.  

Lovely Wallpaper
Photo Credit 3

Photo Credit 1: http://untappedcities.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Untapped-Cities-Capuchin-Crypt-4-E-Ryan.jpg
Photo Credit 2: https://wheninroma2012.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/capuchin-crypt2.jpg
Photo Credit 3: http://www.travelinginitaly.info/Italy/Rome_Sights/Entries/2011/5/17_Capuchin_Cemetery_files/shapeimage_3.png

Friday, April 10, 2015

Apollo and Daphne

Apollo and Daphne is the most beautiful freakin' statue you will ever see in your life.  When I am rich and conquer the world, this is going to be the center piece in my garden.  There will also most likely be a herd of alpacas, but that is just so my wife is happy as well.  They just better not freakin' touch my Apollo and Daphne statue.  Or else.  Alpaca Burgers.  

The Borghese Gallery is an amazing place to stumble across while walking through some park in the middle of Rome.  Of course there are plenty of signs around it point to the rather lovely villa, but as I am not known for paying much attention to directions, we just stumbled across it.  We also got lucky and scored some cheap unused tickets to an entrance time that just happened to be starting right when we got there.  On top of that, we ran into some art grad student from Georgia who felt like giving us a tour because we also spoke English and were happy to listen to her explain some random thesis that she was writing.  Hell yeah for being good listeners.  She was also pretty cute, but that is neither here nor there. 

After getting quite bored with having each and every nuance explained, I stumbled across this beautiful work of art.  Apollo and Daphne happens to be my second favorite work of art, and it was just happenstance that it was in the very museum that I wandered into.  If you have not noticed a theme in my traveling, it is that I rarely am able to do the right research before I take off to a new location.  So much for planning.

Photo Credit 1

From one vantage point, Apollo and Daphne looks like two lovers, running through a field.  From the complete opposite side it shows Apollo and a tree.  I have never seen a sculpture that looks as lifelike and passionate as this one.  It is so real, that Apollo has fine hair on his legs, and you would expect the sculpture to feel warm to the touch.  

Sadly, it was not warm to the touch.  Thankfully there were no security guards in the room.

Photo Credit 1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_and_Daphne#/media/File:ApolloAndDaphne.JPG 

More Freakin' Body Parts

So, while I was in Rome, my compatriots and I stumbled across a few museums that featured some pretty awesome statues, and some were free.  Score!  Never underestimate my desire to travel cheaply and see random carved things.  Of course, I was lucky enough to stumble across some amazing works that must have been famous back in the day, but that is neither here nor there with me.  I am not one who really cares about how famous a work of art is, more interested in just seeing it and learning about it later.  I guess you can say that I travel a bit backwards, but it works for me.

Of course, one of the museums did house my third favorite work of art.  Unfortunately this was not one of the free museums, but you cannot win them all, right?  I know there is some amazing back-story to it, something about it being found in pieces by a farmer and how it is a family that the gods chose to smite - but just admit it, it looks cool.

Notice the Lack of Naughty Bits

There is no way to convey just how powerful the face of the father is in this statue.  When you are standing below the statue, there is a sense of panic and terror.  The look on his face is beyond lifelike.  You want to reach out and touch the skin because you expect it to be warm to the touch, but are somewhat scared that it might be cold with death.  It is a weird mix of emotions.

The other museum that we stumbled into that day looked more like an art class project on body parts.  It was honestly a bit awkward.  Bit of torso here, some toes there, it was like something out of a Renaissance slasher film.  

Make them beefy biceps

I call this one "Giant Picking His Nose"

Tough Actin' Tinactin 

Of course, all of these pale in comparison to my two favorite works of art, Apollo and Daphne, and The School of Athens, but those will be saved for another day.