Monday, January 15, 2018

"I Still Do"

Years ago, on a flight from Los Angeles to New York for work, I had this song stuck in my head the entire way.  There are worse things to have stuck in your head.


"I Still Do"
by The Cranberries

Last summer I bought a ticket to see the Cranberries (Their official site had been taken down) at the Stir Cove in Council Bluffs, IA.  I was looking forward to seeing them live.  Unfortunately the concert was cancelled a month or so before the show.  They said Dolores O'Riordan, the lead singer of the Cranberries, was suffering from back issues.

Today it was announce that O'Riordan passed away suddenly during a recording session.  She was forty-six.  She was taken from her children and her fans too soon.

Rest in peace, Dolores O'Riordan.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Book Suzy Hansen's "Notes On A Foreign Country"

My first book of 2018 was Suzy Hansen's "Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World".  A mixture of travelogue and personal commentary on American meddling, Hansen's book discusses her move from New Jersey/New York to Istanbul where she has lived for some ten years.  Her experience in this, the first foreign country she had ever lived in for any amount of time, enlightens her to just how ill informed she (and most Americans) was concerning the world outside of America' borders.

Istanbul opened her eyes and dispels many of the stereotypes and misconceptions the typical American has nurtured, fed by a shallow education of history and a government that works to keep its citizens uninformed.  Providing examples (many first hand) of Turkey, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guatemala, Hansen explores how post-world-war American colonialism, often in the guise of modernization, has wreaked havoc on the governments, societies, and people of the developing world, especially the Middle East and the Muslim world.

Hansen learns just how ill informed the average American is.  I have thought this for many years.  If I were in control I would have every American live in a 'developing' country for at least a couple years early in their lives so they can really and truly learn about America and American influence outside her borders.  Needless to say my nine years in Guatemala opened my eyes but I still have to be careful not to fall into the America-can-do-no-wrong trap.  With recent events, it is becoming easier to avoid being swayed by the propaganda.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  Unfortunately the people who need to read it won't.  *sigh*

Thursday, January 11, 2018

A Snow Day For The Birds

Today we were supposed to get 2 - 4 inches (5 - 10 cm) of snow over ice.  As a result the Wife had a snow day and had a delicious morning sleeping in and catching up of her TV shows.

My job today was to go out to clear off the snow which was not bad at all since we received only about an inch or so of snow.  The wind blew most of it off the driveway.  It also turns out that we had little or no rain after midnight unlike what the forecast had predicted.  There was still some ice under the snow but much less than I expected to see.  There was enough that I spread deicer on our driveway, our neighbour's driveway and the sidewalks.  I'm also grateful for the spiked slip-ons I wore to keep me from slipping around.

The little snow we had did provide a nice backdrop for the cardinals eating out of our backyard bird feeder.

A cardinal taking a break from stuffing its beak in our bird feeder.
I've seen cardinals in our backyard before but it's rare.  I recently changed the mix of bird seed in the feeder to see if I could attract different birds.  Sure enough, today, I saw three cardinals around the feeder.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Mental Overload

I went for a walk today.  When I walk I often think about my Caminos or the Appalachian Trail but today my thoughts often strayed to the state of the world.

I have confessed that I am a news junky many times in the past and I have even tried to reduce the amount of news I have consumed but the past two years have changed things.  You can no longer ignore the news.  The past two years have emphasized just how important it is to follow what is happening around us.

The state of our union ... and my mental state while reading the news.
I am very likely consuming more news per day than anytime in my past.  Tell-All books, FBI investigations, Incoherent Tweets, #MeToo, #TimesUp, Brexit, F-ing UFOs - mental overload.  This has not been a good thing for my mental health as my anxiety levels have been elevated for awhile now.  However, I cannot turn away from the slow motion (and often not so slow motion) train wreck our country is going through.

Hopefully things will turn around.  I only want one thing.  One very simple thing.  I want a return to an Ordinary World.


"Ordinary World"
Duran Duran

P.S.  Happy Birthday, Gv.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Photograph: "1071 - Under The Sea"

I haven't been posting much this year so far so here is a picture or graffiti/public art I took a few weeks ago:

"1071 - Under the sea"
by Bruce H.
(Original artist unknown.)
I have taken a few pictures while I've walked so I will post more when I come up short with post ideas ... Which has been often lately.

Monday, January 01, 2018

A Quiet And Calm New Years

This New Years holiday was almost identical to last years, different only by the slight change of the order of things.  I rode my trainer, took down the wreaths and lights outside.  I took down the Christmas tree and sat back and waited for the change.  Midnight arrived, kisses were exchanged, and I went to bed.

This morning I woke up from a restless night.  I'd woken up at 2:00am wide awake despite having taken two Tylenol PMs and rolled and tossed awhile before falling into weird dreams.

I watched an episode of Black Mirror before dressing very warm and going out to take in the laser lights.  Despite the negative temperature I decided to also take down the ornaments from the front oak tree.  I decided it was easier to get some of the ornaments down by using a tree trimming pole to cut the branch the balls were hooked to.  Kind of lazy, I know, but I had little patience this morning.  I ended up breaking two of the ornaments this year.

The holiday season is officially packed away in it's cubby hole in the basement.

I ate lunch and, realizing I was really tired, I went down in the basement, put on my headphones, and napped to some good music.

While all this was happening the Wife was either shopping with her Christmas money or watching football ... her New Year's ritual.

As you can see we had a quiet and calm New Years.

Last year I started a new Homer's Travels tradition posting my best picture from the previous year.  Looking through my pictures - most of them taken at concerts this year - I found only a handful of pictures I considered interesting.  The best one, in my opinion, is this up close picture of a peony with a small bug attached.

"Peony"
by Bruce H.
(Taken on the 18th of May, 2017)
I hope you all had a calm and quiet New Years full of happy memories, family, and friends.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Homer's Travels Look Back At 2017

2017 was the year that I became lost.  I returned from my failed Appalachian Trail (AT) attempt not knowing where I was or where I was going.  This feeling persisted throughout the year.  The AT didn't break me physically but it did break me spiritually.  I'd gone out looking for spiritual healing but the inability to keep my promise to Gv just ripped my spirit to shreds.  I spent most of this year trying to rebuild.


Let's look back at 2017, shall we:

As the end of the year approaches I am still a bit lost.  I've lost both my joy of hiking and my sense of adventure but I think things will get better. Time does heal all wounds but we can't always choose how long it will take.  I just need to give it time and to keep moving forward.

Here's to a Happy and Prosperous New Year for all.
May all your dreams come true in 2018.

(or at least, may we all survive 2018.)


Friday, December 29, 2017

BRRRRR

I was going to go for the last walk of 2017 today but I decided I 'd rather be warm today.  The high today was 20℉ (-6.67℃).  I kind of wimped out since I've gone walking in colder weather before.  I decided, after the Wife suggested it, to ride my trainer in the basement while watching "The Gifted" instead.

There probably won't be another walk until after the new year.  The temperatures pretty much guarantees it.  Tomorrow the high/low temps are 1℉/-9℉ (-17.2℃/-22.78℃).  New Years Eve isn't much better with -4℉/-19℉ (-20℃/-28.3℃).  New Years Day is a slightly better -1℉/-15℉ (-18.3℃/-26.1℃).

All I can say about all these numbers is BRRRRR!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Book: Douglas Preston's "The Lost City Of The Monkey God"

My last book of the year is Douglas Preston's "The Lost City of the Monkey God".  This was the fifteenth book of the year.  Better than the ten book goal but still a bit anemic.

The book documents the discovery and exploration of a civilization hidden in the mountains and jungles of the Honduran Mosquitia region.  The city, which may or may not be the legendary City of the Monkey God, was discovered using LIDAR which is becoming an important tool for archaeology.  In reality the City of the Monkey God is probably an amalgamation of multiple archaeological sites in the Mosquitia region.

The book is a bit disjointed bouncing between the history of the area, a story of the discovery and exploration of the city, the politics (and jealousy) within the archeology community, and Leishmaniasis which ravaged the exploration team.  This disjointedness took some of the enjoyment out of this story of modern exploration.

I liked the book but it didn't do enough for me.  I gave it three stars on Goodreads.  It's an okay read.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Wishes





Nollaig Shona duit féin agus do chuid féin.

Vrolijk kerstfeest voor jou en de jouwe.

あなたとあなたのメリークリスマス。

Frohe Weihnachten für Sie und Ihre.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

สุขสันต์วันคริสต์มาสกับคุณและคุณ

Feliz Natal para você e para você.

Feliz Navidad para ti y los tuyos.

Joyeux Noël à vous et à vous.

Buon Natale a te e ai tuoi.