Homer's Travels: December 2017

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


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.


Frohe Weihnachten für Sie und Ihre.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.


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.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

First Snow Of The Season ... Just In Time

Yesterday we celebrated Christmas with the in-laws.  We had a very nice time in the Mother-in-Law's tiny house full of family.

Overnight we had two inches (five centimeters) of snow, our first significant snow of the 2017-2018 season.  It was a bit late this year.  It will be cold enough this week that it should last for a while.

The sun rising over the first snow.
The snow was enough that I could use the neighbor's snow blower to clear our sidewalks and driveways.  Luckily the snow blower worked - last year I could never get it started.

Snow of the ornaments.
I always like how the world looks with a fresh blanket of snow - so clean and bright ... and innocent looking.  It's also nice when it snows in time for a white christmas.

Tomorrow Christmas day at my Mom's.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Photograph: "Ice On Tree"

Yesterday, the first day of Winter, also gave Omaha it's first dusting of snow though, to be honest, it was more of a rain event.  The little snow we had collected in shadowed corners or rested on elevated surfaces that kept their cold.

This morning as the sun erased the winter dusting I noticed the iced branches of the trees across the way and took a picture before they too disappeared.

"Ice on Tree"
by Bruce H.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Photograph: "A (W)hole Lot Of Beautification"

During a walk last week I came across this.  The building was in a more industrial area of the North Downtown (NoDo) area of Omaha.  They are trying to improve the NoDo area and this particular building was across the street from a new apartment/condominium building.  To beautify the industrial building, the windows facing the new apartments were painted a jaunty green.  Unfortunately they did not take the time to fix the holes in the windows before they painted them green.

"A (w)hole lot of beautification"
by Bruce H.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Holiday Season Is In Full Bloom

We have two Christmas cactuses.  This year it was a very close competition to see which would bloom first.  The older, larger in one in our living room opened up this afternoon and won the race.  The smaller one in the kitchen will be fully open tomorrow if not later tonight.

The first bloom of our Christmas cactus.  The holidays are now in full bloom. 
This is a little later than last year but the Christmas season is back on track.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

...And Down They Came

Last Sunday I put up the ornaments on the oak tree (Here's the post).  I predicted that a few would blow off with the forecasted winds.  Well, I was right.  THIRTY balls blew off the tree over about three days.  There were balls everywhere!

Thirty Christmas Ornaments in a pile.
I was going to put them back in the tree once the winds were gone but I changed my mind.  The tree, despite missing thirty ornaments, still looks festive so I'm not rehanging the balls.  It's just too much work for this old man.  Bah Humbug.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Photograph: "A Blue Whale ... And A Few Penguins Too"

I've been waiting to take pictures of snow but nature is not cooperating.  We have yet to have our first snow of the season.  So, instead, I will post a picture of a colorful Blue Whale I took on my walk last week.  Enjoy.

"A Blue Whale ... and a few penguins too"
by Bruce H.
(Original artist unknown.)

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Book: N. K. Jemisin's "The Stone Sky"

The third book of N. K. Jemisin's Broken Earth trilogy, "The Stone Sky" completes the story told in "The Fifth Season" and "The Obelisk Gate" and is the fourteenth book I've read this year.

The first two books of the trilogy won Hugo awards for best novel.  The third book was as good, if not better, than the first two.  Having said this, I'm not sure why it won the awards.  It's not a bad set of books but, frankly, there is nothing special about the story or the storytelling.  It's a perfectly good fantasy trilogy but, in my opinion, it belongs in the middle of the pack, not the top.

The story follows our main character and her daughter as they head towards their inevitable conflict.  The journey is brief and almost throw away.  The conflict at the end is a bit anticlimactic.

I gave this book, and hence the trilogy, four stars out of five on Goodreads not because it was good but because it's not bad.  It was entertaining enough to be okay and there was nothing in the books that put me off.  It's good filler when you don't have anything else to read.

Monday, December 04, 2017

They're Up!

I put the Christmas ornaments in our oak tree on Sunday.  This is a bit later than usual since the leaves didn't drop until this week.

In the last twenty-four hours three balls had dropped.  I rehung the three and a few hours after another dropped.  The wind was picking up and I went out to hang it back in the tree when a gust of wind blew five more ornaments from the tree - a couple hitting me in the head and back. I collected the fallen ornaments and brought them inside.  I will hang them when the wind dies down and, based on the forecast, I will be picking a lot more off the lawn in the next few days.

Our decorated oak tree.
(Picture taken by the Wife.)
Last year fifteen ornaments dropped on the first few days.  Wonder how many will drop this year.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Learning Lessons With Ira

Photo from Wikipedia taken by Tom Murphy VII
Last night the Wife and I went to a live show with Ira Glass, host of This American Life.  The show, 'Seven Lessons I've Learned: a Night with Ira Glass', was Ira talking about his career, the show, and the rather random sampling of the lessons he has learned over the years.

The show was a humorous mixture of talk and multimedia that was very satisfying.  Ira Glass is of a liberal bent and, Omaha being the most liberal part of conservative Nebraska, he tip toed around the politics of modern America.  He didn't really have to, I think, since the applause he got showed approval for the few political musing of the evening.

This is the second time we heard Ira speak.  The first time was during a taping of stories for a future show at UCLA back in 2007.  He hasn't changed much which is a good thing.  He gave us an entertaining two hours which ended with questions from the audience.

Barring something unexpected showing up, this will be the last event we have planned for 2017.  A good end to a full year.