Saturday, October 31, 2009

Photograph: Hay! A Jack-o-Lantern!

Happy Halloween Everyone!!

"Hay! A Jack-o-Lantern!"
by Bruce H.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hiking Nebraska: Indian Cave State Park - Revisited

This week I went back to Indian Cave State Park, a place I'd visited September of last year. Last year I went there blind and discovered once I got there that there were several long trails in the park. While I only managed a 5.8 mile hike last year, this year I went intending to double that, aiming for the 11 - 12 mile point.

I arrived at trailhead #5 just after 9:00AM. It was a little chilly with temps in the upper 30s but the sky was clear and I knew the weather was ideal for a long hike. Trail #5, known as the Hardwood Trail, was where I'd hiked last year. My intention was to hike the length of trail #5, part of #9, #11, #10, #8, part of #3, and finally #6. This combination of trails would give me a meandering loop with the desired mileage.

Trail #5 was much like I remembered it but there were some differences. Last year I kept running into spider webs stretched across the trail but the cool weather we've been having has sent the spiders packing. There also was a lot more evidence of horses on the trail - both horse exhaust on the trail and torn up hills where the horse's hooves had torn up the muddy trail. The hills where the horses had stirred up the thick, clingy, clay mud were hard to climb, both up and down. The holes left by the hooves were full of rain water from recent weather, and my boots and walking pole kept getting stuck in the thick mud.

The trail moves up and down ridges, passes by campsites and shelters in the thick forest. The parts of the trail that hadn't been stirred up by the horses, were covered in a thick layer of leaves. It was kind of pretty. I like the sound of rustling leaves as I shuffled my feet along the trails. Took me back to my childhood.

There are mile markers along this trail. The first matched my GPS (GPS: 2.05, Marker: 2). The next, a 3 mile marker, was off (GPS: 2.55). Further on I ran across another 3 mile marker (GPS: 2.74). At this point I decided that the markers were pretty useless. At the same time my GPS wasn't much better at the trees and the ridges were wreaking havoc with the reception. The uselessness of the markers became apparent when I found the
5 mile marker next to the 6 mile marker farther down the trail.

About three and a half miles in, that's my best guess, I ran into a junction not shown on the map. I hate inaccurate trail maps. I made a guess and ... it was wrong. The trail came out to the park road. I pulled out the map and managed to reorient myself. The unexpected detour had bypassed a mile of trail. I found the nearby trailhead #9 and took it back, grumbling all the way, to where I wanted to be.

The trail goes up another ridge - I lost count of the number of ridges - where it crosses a large meadow. There's a campground in the meadow and I wondered what the sky looked like at night, away from all the city lights. I'm
sure the milky way would look incredible up there. Almost makes me want to be a camper.

Across the meadow, trail #9 ends at a junction with trails #10 and #11. Despite being a short there-and-back trail that didn't contribute to the loop, I took #11 because it offered two things - a scenic overlook and the park's namesake, Indian Cave. Trail #11, is fairly easy for the first 0.6 miles it takes to get to the
scenic overlook. From there it drops steeply down the hillside on a mud and leaf slicked trail 0.2 miles long. As I went down I was dreading the return trip that I knew was ahead. No switchbacks here. Oh no. Straight down the hillside.
The trailhead is at the end of the park road. I walked down the road a short distance and walked up the wooden stairs that took you to the broad but shallow mouth of the Indian Cave. While you could still see a couple of the petroglyphs, most of the cave was defaced by graffiti and modern carvings. Sad how history is rarely respected. Frankly I'm more interested in petroglyphs than who is dating whom.

After a brief rest and snack, I went back up trail #11 and, after a lot of huffing and puffing, returned to the meadow. Here I turned north-west up trail #10, continuing on my loop. This trail took me to one of my favorite places in the park. Before dropping down the side of the ridge, the trail reaches a campsite. The site is near one of the many Adirondack shelters located in the park. Unlike the other shelters, this one has a fire pit and a bench, but the best feature of this site is the view. It was a little too late to see the fall colors but the view of the forest and river was still amazing.



I followed trail #10 back to the park road, crossed a bridge, and found the trailhead #8. At this point you have a choice. Trail #8 goes to the top of yet another ridge. Trail #8A will take you around the base of the ridge. #8A looked a lot easier and probably has better views of the river. I really don't know because I took the trail up the ridge. I can be a masochist sometimes.

At the top was another campsite and another well placed bench. I plopped down on the bench and ate another snack bar. The bench had yet another amazing view, this one to the east. In the foreground, the Missouri River; on the far shore, past stands of autumn naked trees and a chute, a past channel of the river, Missouri farmland stretched east dotted with shiny metal silos; and on the far horizon, a farm of a different kind, a 21
st century farm, a wind farm, white turbines twirling in the wind.

The rest of the hike was a blur. Past a couple more meaningless mileage markers, Trail #8 ended and #3 started. Another junction and I was on #6. #6 took me over another ridge before ending at the park road. A half mile on the road took me back to my car. Along the whole hike I probably went up and down ridges at least six times, probably more. I was beat when I got to the car. I guesstimate that the hike was about 10.7 miles, a mile or so less than I'd planned. Elevation was about 400 ft peak to trough but, all the ups and downs probably made it more like 2,000 ft.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

All Good Things ...

A few years back I got hooked on This American Life. The radio show is funny, thought provoking, and educational. This is especially true with the recent shows covering the economic collapse and the healthcare cost issues. I started listening to them back in 2006. I managed to download most of the episodes from a website that had scraped the radio show's archives without permission. Literally the day after I downloaded some 288 episodes, the site was pulled down at the request of Ira Glass. Fortunately for all, an RSS feed was set up to allow listeners to get the new episodes each week. Even with the RSS feed, I've ended up with only 367 of the current 392 episodes. Some of the very early shows are lost. Others, I just missed the the RSS feed. (NPR only keeps a current episode available for a week. - There are ways to listen but not a way to download for my collection.)

My listening was sporadic. For awhile I listened to them while walking on the beaches in Oxnard and Ventura. Other times I listened to them while doing chores. For awhile there I thought It would take many years to finish listening to them all. As I listened I moved through time, something
I noted in Homer's Travels.

Finally last year, once I retired, I started to get a routine going. I listened to four episodes per week while I cleaned the house (Kitchens and Bathrooms - two episodes. Dusting and Vacuuming - two episodes). Today just over three years after I started, after mopping the kitchen, entryway, and bathroom floors, I finished - I caught up to the present. I now have a sense of loss. An empty void.

I saw this coming of course. I reached this point earlier than expected but I am somewhat prepared. I have started to download other podcasts. Most of them are NPR. Some current events. Some music. Some culture. Of course, This American Life will continue, a few new episodes a month, but I suspect I will miss having Ira drone in my ear while I clean the kitchen counter or empty the vacuum cleaner. Other voices will be there but it just won't be the same.

P.S. I was introduced to This American Life by the Best Man. It is only fitting that the day I finish my last saved episode, the Best Man was hired to a new job. Great News BM.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Travels, Day 26, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's travelogue continues:
Date: July 14, 1972 Friday
"I went to the laundry while [Dad] + the boys went to the airport - [Dad] is inquiring about flying lessons.
We all swam in the pool. In evening [Dad] + I went to meat market, grocery + new house. Delivered the refrigerator today."
Very soon after moving to Guatemala my Dad learned to fly. This was more out of necessity than pleasure but it was obvious to me that he liked to fly.

In Guatemala, back in the 70s at least, the capital, Guatemala City, had all the amenities. The agricultural areas were located in the southern half of the country bordering the Pacific Ocean. You could not really live full time on the farm. No electricity except for what you generated yourself. No running water except for what you pumped yourself from wells. No telephone. No schools after the 6th grade. Commuting was difficult as the roads between the city and the farm were not the best. It usually took four hours to drive from the city to the farm. The only other alternative was to fly. When you flew over the farms in southern Guatemala, the grass air strips could be seen everywhere. The flight from the city to the farm was just under 30 minutes. That is why my Dad learned to fly.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Brrraaaiiinnsss ...

Despite the unforecasted late afternoon drizzle, the Zombies were out in force in north Omaha. I drove up there to document this walking of the Zombies.


The zombies gathered outside the Pizza Shoppe in the Benson area of Omaha before going to the back alley to get instructions from the head zombie. Rules included stay on the sidewalk, act like a zombie, walk like a zombie, chase victims (marked with a duct tape 'X') when they are seen, and no English allowed except for the occasional moaning of "Brains". The Zombies, after receiving the rather informal briefing, moaned their assent and the zombies began shuffling along the route.


It was fun. People honked their horns when they saw the shuffling dead people and some people in parked cars were swarmed. There were enough zombies to fill at least two blocks worth of sidewalk. The zombies varied from your standard bloody dead guy to zombie nuns, zombie Jesus, zombie doctors, zombie nurses, zombie soldiers (someone in the crowd commented that they hit a little too close to bad taste with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and all), zombie brides, zombie kids, and zombie Waldo (Where's Waldo? He's been dead for a for years it appears). Some of the people took it very seriously and other were there for fun and put in minimal effort. No matter how much effort they put into it, everyone was having a good time.
Some pictures can be found here.

Next year the Wife and I may have to participate. I've never been one to dress up for Halloween but there is something intriguing about dressing up like mutilated dead people, moaning, and shuffling along a one mile loop. Who knew that bloody head wounds could make so many strangers smile and honk their horns..

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Travels, Day 25, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's travelogue continues:
Date: July 13, 1972 Thurs.
"[Dad + Brother] went to do some stuff up town. [Homer-Dog] and I walked to book store and grocery store.
Swam in pool in the afternoon. [Dad] got sunburned.
We went to Spanish class. Worked on verbs - don't think I'll ever learn."
Hmmm ... I wonder if this is when my book reading habit started? Actually, it started a few years later when I discovered Star Trek books. Fortunately, after many ... many ... many Star Trek books later, I've finally moved on to more substantial reading though my love of Science Fiction is still very strong.

Hmmm ... I'm also the grocery shopper. That's just because the Wife doesn't like to shop while I don't mind it much.

Mom, was there a reason Brother and I didn't join you for the Spanish classes? I think it might of helped once I started school. I suppose the classes were just for adults.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Raccoon Coincidence ... Or Is It ?!?

Last weekend, while attending the ND-USC football game with her dad, the Wife hit a raccoon with her car. It did a number on her bumper.

Two days later I come come from walking Homer and I see a raccoon hunkered down under the front overhang of our house. Since it didn't look like it was going to move on its own, and we thought it might be injured or sick, we called animal control. The raccoon decided it didn't like the attention it was getting from Animal Control and scrambled away, making its escape.

Yesterday I was walking Homer and, three doors down, there was Mr. Raccoon. He was standing in the middle of the neighbor's front yard. Homer barked at it and it just stood there and stared.

Coincidence? Stalker Raccoon? USC Fan? Only time will tell.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Travels, Day 24, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's travelogue continues:
Date: July 12, 1972 Wed.
"We went with Mr R. to buy furniture - Sort of nice picking furniture out + not paying for it. Got Kelvinator refrigerator, Diningroom table + chairs (very spanish), sofa, 2 chairs + coffee table, 3 mattresses, headboards + 4 night stands.
Mr R. introduced [Dad] to the lawyer + [Dad] inquired about residency of Guatemala.
Boys swam in pool. In evening [Dad] + I went to Spanish class - Still seems impossible.
Rained most of late afternoon."
Guatemala basically has two seasons, rainy and dry. The rainy season runs from May through October. When I was going to school the rain would start just before I got on the school bus to go home and would rain for hours. This means I would often have to walk home from the bus stop in the rain. I remember getting home soaked to the skin. Guatemala City is at 4,550 feet and it would get pretty chilly at times. I don't miss being cold and wet.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Travels, Day 23, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's travelogue continues:
Date: July 11, 1972
"[Homer-Dog] + I went to the laundry. [Dad] went to the bank + opened an account. [Brother] fixed a flat tire on his cycle. Stem was pulled out.
We swam in the pool, sunned for awhile, then we looked at some furniture. Found some we like.
After supper [Dad] + I went to Spanish Lesson. I think I am impossible. Spanish sure seems hard."
I learned Spanish by watching the television. At least, that's how I started. When I started school in Guatemala, soon after moving in to our new rental house, I suffered through Spanish classes.

A funny thing happened when I first started school. My parents were contacted by the school. They were concerned that I may have a problem. I was misbehaving, talking to the other students, and I wasn't obeying or even responding to my teachers. My Mom asked them what language my teachers were talking to me in. The school representative said Spanish of course. Apparently no one had told my teachers that I didn't understand Spanish. I didn't find out about this until recently. I do remember being taken out of classes by someone, I remember her being very nice, and helping me with my Spanish. Being a young boy I picked it up rather quickly. It is always easier for children.

There is one thing that irritates the Wife. I always tell her that I don't speak Spanish very well. It's the truth. Most of my Spanish was picked up by watching television, not a very interactive way of learning a language. I was very shy growing up and I tried my best not to have to speak Spanish in front of people. I got in trouble more than once for refusing to read aloud in class. I though my accent was terrible and my vocabulary often was lacking. To make it worse, I surrounded myself with friends who spoke English. So I became pretty good at understanding Spanish but I've never been comfortable speaking it.

I then moved back to the States and in the twenty-eight years since I have slowly lost my vocabulary. I read posts from old Guatemalan classmates on Facebook and I can hardly understand them, though a lot of the problem are the idioms (i.e. the slang). I've had to use
Google Translate to read some of them. I guess I'm an example of "use it or loose it."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Book: Iain M. Banks' "Use Of Weapons"

I don't often give authors more than one chance to grab me. If their first book doesn't meet my expectations, they go to the bottom of my list. I make few exceptions and, for some reason, I gave Iain M. Banks three chances. I'm glad I did.

I've posted about the other two Banks books here and here. Neither of these really wowed me but I am intrigued by the universe Banks has created. My third Culture book, "Use of Weapons", added to this universe and did it in an interesting way that captivated me.

The book follows the life of Cheradenine Zakalwe, an agent for the Culture Special Circumstances. The book is organised into two story streams. One takes place in the present (the Present of the book, not our present) and the other expands on Zakalwe's history. At first I was confused. The second stream follows his history in reverse. Both streams have different chapter numbers and the second stream's chapters are numbered in reverse so I should have seen it coming but the first four or five chapters confused me. As I got more into it, things finally clicked into place and the story sucked me in.

Zakalwe, recruited by the culture to 'influence' primitive world's social evolution, often by starting or ending wars, is the first interesting Banks character I've read. As I read on, I wanted to know more about him and frankly, I liked him. He is brash, unscrupulous, and effective at what he does. A sort of an heroic anti-hero. Unlike the protagonists of the other two Banks books I've read, Zakalwe is well written and interesting.

The book ends with a twist. I suppose it was telegraphed but I was so engrossed that I missed it and was caught somewhat by surprise - pleasantly so. I won't say what it is, don't want to ruin it for anyone, but it fits.

Banks has earned the right to stay on my list. I will be reading more of his books. Recommended.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Travels, Day 22, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's travelogue continues:
Date: July 10, 1972 Mon
"We talked to Mr R. owner of a new house we looked at. He agreed to furnish it for us. We are to pick out the furniture and Saturday we can move in. Zone 14 3 ave 6-77.
We looked at furniture in evening. [Dad + Brother] went for a motorcycle ride + had a flat tire. Had to push it for 2 miles."
When I'm on my bike, something the weather has prevented lately, I always fear that I'll get a flat when I'm 10 - 15 miles from home and will have to walk back to the house pushing my bike. I've fixed that by buying a patch kit and a small air pump for my bike. I don't think I worried about that when I was a kid. I got plenty of flat tires but never very far from home.

The house was pretty cool. Like most house in Guatemala City, it had a tall wall around the yard. Our wall was brick with random bricks sticking out a half inch or so. This made it possible for an eight year old boy like me to climb the wall. I liked walking along the top of the seven or eight foot wall. I'm sure I made my Mom nervous. Strange thing is, as I got older I developed a mild fear of heights. I shake when I'm on a ladder and my palms sweat even when I see someone on a high ledge.

I miss the fearlessness of youth.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Travels, Day 21, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's travelogue continues:
Date: July 9, 1972 Sun.
"Slept late. [Dad] rode the motorcycle to some houses. We swam in the afternoon - felt good.
Alba went with us to see a house. Just what we want but rent is high.
Alba works at the motel and offered to be our interpretor for us after her working hours.
We stopped and got chicken to bring home to eat."
I used to like to swim. when I was little I grew up on a lake and once I learned how to swim it was hard to get me out of the water in the summer time. One of our resort customers described me as a fish.

We spent a lot of time in the Plaza Motel's pool. 8 of the 27 entires in Mom's travelogue mention swimming. After we settled into out Guatemala home, my parents bought a boat and tried to keep our love of the lake alive. We would go to nearby
Lake Amatitlán on weekends to swim, boat, ski, and fish. We parked our trailer on a vacant lot next to a friend's lake house for a while. I learned to ski here - I was never very good. Over time it just lost its luster to me. The lake, and the life we once had, faded into the past.

As I've grown older, I've lost the joy of swimming that I once had. I still like swimming but I don't go out of my way. My in-laws have a lake house on Lake Cornelia. I have been there several times and, by personal choice, I have yet to get in the water. I think I've matured from a lake swimmer to a hot tub soaker.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Coming Early This Year

This morning we had our first snow of the season - a full 50 days earlier than last year. It was fairly substantial dropping over an inch of snow. The streets and sidewalks are still warm so they remained clear.

The weather this year seems to be off. Not sure if it's climate change, el niño, or just normal variation but I do know that's it's been wetter and cooler than last year. Forecasts I've seen are all over the place - colder and wetter, colder and drier, and even milder than normal. Meteorologists aren't much better than economists - both dismal science. Based on my observations I'm betting on colder and wetter. Maybe this year I'll have an opportunity to break in my
Christmas snowshoes. Not today though as it's already starting to melt away.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Hiking Iowa: Waubonsie State Park And Wa-Shawtee Girl Scout Camp

For the past few weeks I've been doing hikes in places I'd already posted about: Hitchcock and Fontenelle Forest. This week I finally hiked a new park.

Located in the south-west corner of Iowa, in the southern end of the Iowa Loess Hills,
Waubonsie State Park offers seven miles of hiking trails and another eight miles of equestrian trails. The trails take you through the Loess Hills, down into valleys, and up ridges offering spectacular views. On a clear day, something that I've found is much more common here than in California, you are able to see territory from four states, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas.



I arrived with a map [PDF] downloaded off the Iowa Department of Natural Resources website. I'd planned my route the night before trying to maximize the length. I would skip a smaller loop near the parking lot and start on a medium size loop made up of the Valley Trail and the Ridge trail. I would then connect that to the larger Sunset Ridge Interpretive trail. I was hoping to squeeze out at least six miles.

After finding a cache near the trailhead ("
L&C Waubonsie State Park") I followed the sign to the start of the Valley Trail. As its name implies, the trail winds down through a forested valley. As I walked along the path the signs of autumn were all around me. A brisk temperature in the lower 40s. A blanket of fallen leaves carpeting the trail underfoot. The yellowing of the once verdant leaves in the canopy overhead. It felt good. I was reminded why I hike - to restore my soul and reconnect with the world ... the real world, not the pseudo-world of CNN, MSNBC, and FOX.

I reached a junction. The signpost was there but the sign was nowhere to be found. A sign at the trailhead had apologized that maintenance had been cut due to budget shortfalls - another victim of the recession and the pseudo-world. On the sign post, an arrow was scratched pointing to the right branch seemingly indicating where I should go, so I went. The path took me up a ridge line past sycamores and cottonwoods. The trees along the path blocked the view of the hills across the valley but peeks through the foliage showed hints of yellow and red that were starting to appear.

The path dipped down and took me to a
flight of stairs descending to a bridge crossing a creek. After the bridge the trail ended on the shoulder of IA-2. This wasn't on the map. A sign at the trailhead had pointed the direction of the Bridge Trail which I apparently was on. The Bridge trail was not marked on the map. The map said that the trail that I thought I was on should have curved to the west and connect to the Ridge Trail. I could not see where the trail continued. I sighed heavily and backtracked to the junction and went the other way. I passed another junction on my right that looked all wrong so I passed it and ended up at the overlook.

At the overlook there were placards talking about the Loess Hills and the Lewis and Clark expedition (The Lewis and Clarke expedition went through this area). The views from the umbrella like shelter were impressive. Steep tree covered valley walls, the Missouri River, and the beginnings of the great plains beyond.

At this point I gave up on the medium loop. I think I'd walked the smaller loop with a detour to the bridge. I continued south along the trail finding the trailhead of the Sunset Ridge Interpretive Trail. The trail shadows a park road through wooded and prairie areas. The road turns west and the trail becomes the shoulder of the road until you reach its end. I sat at a bench near the continuation of the trail and had a drink of water and a small snack. The wind was starting to pick up. Wind speeds in the low 20s were in the forecast. I hadn't felt them on the trail as the trees made for a great windbreak.

I continued down the Sunset Ridge Trail. The trail dropped down a hill covered in restored prairie grasses. When the trail bottomed out it re-entered the forest. The narrow path followed the valley floor briefly, passing the remains of an old
root cellar. The bunker-like cellar was dug into the side of a hill with a concrete facade. There were the remains of an old ornate gate that may have been over the entrance once upon a time. Kind of looked like a hobbit's house.

The trail rapidly climbed the ridge. At the top was another plaque about the Loess Hills and a bench where you could sit and look over the
farm fields that replaced the prairies. The view faced the west and right away I understood why this was called sunset ridge. Almost makes me want to come back sometime to watch the sunset from that bench.

From here the trail widens and winds through more forest and meadows. The trail joins itself completing the larger loop. I walked back north and decide to search some more for the medium loop. I passed the umbrella-like structure and took the junction I'd passed earlier. This trail took you down then up to the top of another ridge. This ridge was rather narrow with sharp, wooded drop offs on both sides. At the peak of the ridge I sat at another convenient bench (There are many along the trails, most well placed) and took in the amazing view of the valley, made by the ridge I was on and Sunset Ridge, across the way. You could see a large meadow adjacent to the nature center that was once the Wa-Shawtee Girl Scout Camp. The 646 acre camp was purchased by the park in 2005.

Further along the trail, a trail I had determined was the Ridge Trail, part of the medium loop, ended at a "Trail Ends" sign. Once again I thought I'd missed the turnoff for the medium loop so I was more careful on the way back. There is no connector. There is no medium loop. The map appears to be wrong. I ended up going back the way I came going around the small loop the opposite way that I hiked in on.

In the end, I did the small loop twice, two parts of the non-existent medium loop, and the large loop. Total distance was 6.1 miles with a peak to trough elevation gain of about 430 Ft. I will have to return to hike the equestrian trails - they are actually listed as multi-use trails - and to double check the existence of the medium trail. Maybe in the spring the medium loop will reappear.


UPDATE: I forgot to link to the pictures. Here they are.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Travels, Day 20, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's travelogue continues:
Date: July 8, 1972 Sat.
Place: Guatemala City
"Mr R. from the rental agency showed us around today. Saw some beautiful homes - 2 we are considering. Mr R. speaks very little English so communication is not very easy.
[Brother] got his cycle back from Kawasaki Shop. Works great.
[Dad] + I ate out at Maria's - both had steak. My fillet was $3.00. [Dad's] T Bone was $3.25 about. Very good."
The meal the parents had illustrates another reason we moved to Guatemala. It might not have been an explicit reason, farming being the explicit reason, but a lower cost of living made the move easier and changed how we lived.

When we lived on the resort, life was hard for my parents. Income from the resort was very seasonal and second jobs were needed to make ends meet when all the guests had gone home. I think this was especially hard on my Mom who seemed to be always working. My Dad drove the school bus for extra income. Not sure I liked this as I was always the first on and the last off the bus.

In Guatemala Mom didn't have to work. We had a full time housekeeper/maid/cook to help take care of the house and another on the farm. I'm sure this spoiled me as I never really had to clean or make my bed while growing up. Labor was so cheap that it was nearly impossible to earn money doing summer jobs. Everyone had maids and hired gardeners. If you needed things done you only had to pay a buck or two to get it done. This might explain my somewhat poor work ethic.

Our life in Guatemala was easier in some ways and harder in others. I had it rather easy. I assume my brother had it easy too but, being a teenager, he probably had his issues. I won't speak for my Mom. I'm sure it was easier for her in some ways and harder in others. It seems to me that it was most stressful for my Dad.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Travels, Day 19, On The Way To Guatemala

Mom's travelogue continues:
Date: July 7, 1972 Fri

Place: Guatemala City

"We looked at new furniture and used furniture - Looked at houses -

We put an ad in the paper for a house and also for a guide or translator.

We came back to trailer and watched TV. Green Hornet was on which [Homer-Dog] thought was neat. Terror Theater was on later - All in Spanish.

Lots of noise outside."
Green Hornet is awesome ... even in Spanish. Bruce Lee - totally cool. I think that's how I learned Spanish. I watched all these old American shows in Spanish. Green Hornet. Combat. Mission Impossible. The Three Stooges. Old horror movies. Guatemalan TV in the 70s was an eclectic mix of American, Mexican, and Japanese stuff. I remember coming home from school to catch the latest episode of Astroboy, Space Battleship Yamato (Who would have thought that 30+ years later they would be cult classics - Astroboy: the movie is coming out soon), or Ultraman (And his teammate Ultra Seven). On Sunday night I watched Lucha Libre and Chespirito. Now they can be watched on Univision. I guess what goes around comes around again ... if you wait long enough.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Music: Gordan Lightfoot At The Holland Center

Last night we went to see Gordan Lightfoot at Omaha's Holland Performing Arts Center. I have to say choosing to attend this concert was a risk. While I was familiar with a few of his songs, my knowledge was limited. The Wife was in the same boat. I chose to take the risk because I wanted to check out the venue and Gordan Lightfoot seemed to be a good act to see there.

At 70 years old, Gordan Lightfoot is still pretty good. Usually when I go to a concert of an act I am not too familiar with, I am saved by either new songs that I discover I like or I find there are songs that I like that I didn't realize were performed by the artist. This is especially true with older acts. Unfortunately this wasn't the case this time. While there was a song I like that I didn't know he sang ("Carefree Highway") I ended up knowing a total of four songs (good songs mind you) but the rest ... well after the rather
raucous concerts we've been to lately, his folk music was a little like walking through muck. He would say 1...2...3 energetically and then go into a s.l.o.w folk ballad. He mentioned his adrenalin was pumping. Unfortunately I didn't see it on stage.

Lightfoot and his elderly, but good, band performed for almost two hours with a twenty minute intermission. I think this was the first concert that I've been to with an intermission. The Holland Center, location of what I would describe as higher brow entertainment - orchestras and theater - feels like a place where intermissions are mandatory. At intermission we joked about leaving. We ended up staying the entire time but I have to admit that I almost fell asleep leaning forward with my chin propped up on my arms resting on my knees. I had to sit back because I thought I might really fall asleep and fall forward. Being on the second balcony, falling forward was not an advisable thing to do.

I know this review sounds like I hated his music. Hate is too strong of a word. It wasn't his age either. I enjoyed the
Guess Who and Grand Funk who have some members as old or older than he is. It just wasn't my style. I think I have a more rock taste. Folk ... it has its time and place but last night was not that time nor that place.