Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Out of Time

Why not an extra day in summer instead?

I don't get Leap Day. I appreciate it. But I don't get it.
I've never seen any spare quarter-days in any other year.
I've looked.
Consequently, I accept it on its face that they exist.
I also accept that this extra day every four years exists. It's like  pondering the nature of the Universe. It makes a person dizzy considering something with neither beginning nor end, nor measurable time.
In a related matter, I don't understand February either. Why 28 days?
January has 31, as does March. If we rename January 31 as February 1, and rename the current March 1 as February 30, then we get three months of 30 days.
Would this mess anything up?
If so, there's no point explaining it to me. You can try, but my grasp of the world as explained by mathematics is simple and fragile. My way makes sense, and that is what I'll hang on to.
But to leap back to my point.
February 29 is a rare and beautiful thing. We have an extra day to do whatever it is we do. A day out of the regular stream of time.
I say it shouldn't even count against our days on Earth.
We have a day to go about our business or do something different.
Let's enjoy it.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Gratitude Monday --Experiment Edition

Pea Soup from pea flour with Farmer's Sausage.

I made a batch of pea soup from pea flour yesterday. I've done it before. It works. That's not the experimental part.
I used Farmer's Sausage in it in place of ham.
The day before I'd made a pot of beans from scratch and used some of the aforementioned sauage in it rather than bacon.
It's risky replacing bacon. Certain things are expected of a product which would normally contain it.
I'd rather not do it, but it worked.
The sausage has a good, smoky flavour that went well in the beans.
Replacing ham is not quite as risky, but still one should proceed carefully.
It smelled really good all through the afternoon. A pot of soup on the stove on a cold day is comforting. I swear it even helps me write.
It worked.
It was good
And for that I am grateful.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Photo - Finish Friday --Cute Critter

We were tickled to see this coatimundi at Tikal. We followed him for a bit, at a respectable distance, while he looked for food.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Today's one of two days of the year when sunlight penetrates the inner sanctum at Abu Simbel, Egypt.

It illuminates the statues of Re- Horakhte and Amon-Re as well as Ramses II.

It's been going on for thousands of years. Seems to me when Abu Simbel was relocated up the hill a bit so it wouldn't be flooded by Lake Nasser planners were careful to make sure this illumination wasn't harmed. It got set back day, that's all.

In housekeeping news I've turned off that infernal word verification nonsense. Or I think I have. If it is still there, please let me know so I can do something about it.
--Thank you, the Management

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gratitude Monday -- All Aboard

Guatemala City chickenbus

Guatemala has some interesting public transportation methods.
One is the converted North American school bus known as the "chickenbus." I've read two explanations for the name from the way people are packed in to the locals taking their livestock on them. 
Guatemalan highways have plenty of speedbumps. Chickenbus drivers laugh at them.
They're cheap to take and will get you there though it is reputed to be quite terrifying.
Our guide gave anyone who wanted the chance to take an 8 km (5 mi) ride on one these and I jumped at the chance. It was less than a $1.50 US and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
It was a fairly tame ride, but a worthwhile experience all the same. The seats had more padding that I expected and our short stretch wasn't anywhere near as crowded as I had seen on some buses we'd passed during our tour.
The only problem was the smell which led me to believe there's another reason for calling it "chickenbus."
Luggage is lashed to the top of the bus. Fares are taken by "the brush." That's the fellow hanging out the side door in the photo. He calls out the destinations, too, and is in charge of the luggage. We saw one fellow climbing down from the top while the chickenbus was rushing down the highway.
These buses are colour-coded for destinations. The illiteracy rate in Guatemala is high, upwards of 40 per cent, and this lets a potential passenger get the right one.
I am grateful for the opportunity to ride one of these.
I am grateful it was a short ride.
I am grateful I am not a brush on a chickenbus.
I am grateful I will likely never ride one of these again.

Below are more chickenbuses. Our guide said the country brings these in new from Korea.  While they are painted as shown below,  there is still some colour coding to help passengers.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Photo-Finish Friday --On The Rocks

Rockhopper penguins in the Falklands.

I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Objectivity Pays

This post by Thomma Lyn Grindstaff got me thinking about a few things.
By nature I am objective. Emotions rarely get the better of me in a conversation. I simply do not take things personally.
This objectivity has been underscored by my years reporting. I can hear almost anything.
Consequently, I can engage in a conversation about just about anything with just about anyone and have it not result in a shouting match or name calling.
Some of these conversations have been frustrating and annoying, but I've kept an open mind and an objective stance,  and I've reminded myself they don't mean anything after they're over.
Emotionally-charged people do not understand me. They take it personally when I don't get upset with them.  Those people don't spend long in my life.
I find it downright odd how so many people waste their energy trying to change someone else's opinion because it doesn't match their own.  
Your opinions are yours and are just that: opinions. It has nothing to do with your life or worth as a human being if someone disagrees with you.
It's not a comment on your outlook, attitude, intellect, philosophy, or the validity of your belief structure. It is neither right nor wrong. It's what another autonomous human being thinks about a subject based on his or her education, social environment, upbringing, and life experiences.
I don't like group conversations because most people I've known see them as competitions, not exchanges of ideas. I like a good conversation. I have no time for opinion contests. 
People who don't really listen and who have to be right about everything lose out. Their closed minds won't allow anything else in and that means they are the intellectual equivalent of an algae-choked pond. Stagnant, festering, and unable to sustain life.
Boiling sulphur pond in Yellowstone. I didn't have any algae-covered lake photos so this will have to do.
 Listening to someone else's opinion can refresh your own mind with a new outlook, or the latest conspiracy theory, or a reworked urban myth,  or  a reinforcement of your own ideas.
As a writer it is important to find out about people, places, things, and a good way to do that is to hear what people are saying. 
I don't have to agree with it, but I do want to hear it.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Gratitude Monday --Catatonic

Good together
I despise taking malaria medication. I've taken it for two trips. All I'll say about the first time was the second time was better. When the third opportunity to take it came along for our trip to Guatemala I had to do something.
I'd joked for years that I'd drink gin and tonic every day instead. Tonic Water (R. TM Whathaveyou)contains quinine. This bitter substance is, or at least was, used in anti-malarials. I've tried Tonic Water on its own and I simply cannot recommend it.
I drink Coke (R. TM. Whathaveyou.) when I travel to ward off the assorted digestive upsets and it works very well.
In a fit of logic I decided to put them together and christened the concoction "Catatonic."
The tastes work well together. I had Coke
(R.TM. Whathave you) every day and Catatonics many times. I even had Tonic Water (R.TM. Whathave you) by itself a few times.  It was okay, but Catatonics are so much better.
Husband is a recent convert to Coca-Cola (R. TM. Whathaveyou) and was an enthusiastic partaker of the new drink.
It kept all manner of things at bay for us and for that I am grateful.
Neither soft drink company has compensated me in any way for the above. If they want to, then I will be gracious enough and shameless enough to accept.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Photo-Finish Friday -- The Resplendent Quetzal

The Resplendent Quetzal
We wanted to see a male Quetzal on our trip to Guatemala.
We did.
Guatemala's national bird was in a cloud forest in  Biotopo del Quetzal, a wildlife reserve and the bird's home.
Those who wanted could go on a walk in the reserve while others could wait at a small restaurant as a Quetzal sometimes came to a nearby tree.
We waited at the restaurant until the hikers were back and then walked back to where our bus was waiting. As we got there the driver pointed to this magnificent creature flying between two trees.
I took several photos. This is the best of the lot.
Not everyone sees a Quetzal.
We were blessed, or lucky, or both that morning.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Back At It. Soon

Shortly before we left for Guatemala I started rewriting one of my manuscripts. I was hoping it would kick start my thoughts about it while we were away. 
It worked, but not as well as I'd hoped.
Getting away is a great way to refresh your mind, your energy, and your soul. I thought not having a computer in front of me it would free my thoughts to roam at will.
They did, and they were happy.
Over the course of the two weeks many ideas for rewriting flowed to me along with ways to improve other manuscripts. 
It was good. I was renewed. Invigorated even.
Then I came home, fired up the computer and my mind went as blank as_______.
I am sure everything will be fine in a few more days. Travel is wonderful, but it requires recovery time.
I did open a file on a manscript earlier and made a few corrections. As I did I felt fog clearing, gears grinding, the quickening brought by a cool morning breeze.
In another day or so when the last of the trip laundry is put away and I've caught up on the bills and  sleep and my thoughts have gathered I will be writing again.
I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Gratitude Monday-- A Simple Pleasure.

We got back to our own home yesterday. We'd been to Guatemala with a side trip to Honduras to see Mayan sites, the landscape, and whatever else the country had to offer.
We had to buy drinking water. We had to be careful about the local water splashing in our eyes or elsewhere.
I've been to a few countries over the years where the water was not safe to ingest, but this time made me appreciate tap water all that much more.
I am grateful for the potable water from the tap. At home we filter it, but I will happily drink it fresh from tap in restaurants or hotels.
It's good to be able to turn on a faucet and trust what comes out.
Safe water is a simple pleasure.
It's good to be reminded of how good we have it here.
A trip to a land where we have to think before we drink is a good reminder.