Sunday, August 28, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #30

 Last week was a slow one for me. 

  • Our garage door was fixed Wednesday morning.  Nothing exciting there.
  • We received our final paperwork for our travels.   Hard to believe we are only five days away from leaving.  I don't think my mind is wrapped around that fact yet.
  • Someone left chalk under an overpass and people got Funky.
  • I only walked once this week.  My second walk was rained out on Friday.  The one walk I did was 10.1 miles (16.3 km).  I'm not sure I will walk this week.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Our Next Travels Abroad ... It's A Long One

Next month, and half of the one after that, we will venture outside America for the first time since December 2019.  We will be hitting several things on our bucket list while visiting two continents.

Our travels will start in Israel, move on to Turkey and Egypt, before ending in Ethiopia.  This will be our longest trip - forty-five days - nearly two weeks longer than our previous record.  The travels begin with a fifteen hours worth of flights from Omaha to Tel Aviv, Israel via Chicago and Frankfurt.

  • The first part of our travels will be seven days in Israel.  During our stay here we will be visiting: Tel Aviv, Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Capernaum, the Golan Heights, the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem, Mount Zion, The Tower of David, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea (our second visit here - the last time from the Jordan side of the sea), and Masada.
  • The second part of our travels will be thirteen days in Turkey.  Our first couple days here will be free for us as we get here a couple days before the start of our tour.  After the second day we will be visiting: Istanbul, Topkapi Palace, Cappadocia (including a hot air balloon ride), Izmir, Ephesus, Bodrum, and a ride on a gulet on the Aegean Sea.
  • The third part of our travels takes us from the Asian continent to Africa starting with nine days in Egypt.  In Egypt we will visit: Cairo, the pyramids and the sphinx, the Egyptian Museum, a four day Nile cruise with stops at the Karnak Temple, the Valley of the Kings, the Aswan Dam, and Abu Simbel.
  • The fourth and final part of our travels will be thirteen days in Ethiopia.  In Ethiopia we will visit:  Addis Ababa, Harar, Lalibela, Arba Minch, a boat safari, visits with the Konso, Karo, Hamer, and several other tribes.
This trip is a combination of four tours given by our favorite tour company, Anderson & Roberts.  We have done fifteen of their tours, nineteen with this next trip.  They hit all the best spots and the groups are always small (often less than eight people).  It's nice to just sit back and not have to worry about how to get there and where to stay but it can be expensive.  This will very likely be our last tour-centric trip.   After this one we will do more of the legwork and cut out the middleman to reduce costs.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #29

  • This week started with me binging season three of "The Boys" on prime.  It was spitty-drizzly-misty-rainy most of the day so it was a nice way to spend the day.
  • A White-Lined Sphinx Moth caterpillar.
  • Speaking of streaming, this week they announced that more people streamed content than watched it on traditional cable and broadcast TV.  My Mom helped push it over the tipping point on Tuesday when I took her down to the local cable office and we canceled her cable and telephone services.  She is now a streamer and a landline cutter.  This should save her over one hundred dollars a month.
    A Mourning Dove just sitting in the birdbath.
  • On Thursday the Wife and I went over and weeded Mom's gardens.  When the Wife retired she took over all the garden work so, while she did fine, I rediscovered muscles that have been silent for a long time. *oof* 
    A camouflaged deer.
  • On Saturday morning the garage door decided to stop opening.  Turns out the chain slipped off the gear.  Upon further inspection I noticed, where the cable is attached to the chain, there is only one strand of cable left.  Even if I got the chain back on the gear it would be just a matter of time - likely a short matter of time - before the cable would snap.  The garage door people are coming on Wednesday morning.
  • I walked twice this week.  I tried to push longer but didn't make it.  I ended up walking 16.8 miles (27.1 km) this week.  I took only a few pictures on my walks but, as you can see, the few I took were animal related.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Book: Martha Wells' "Artificial Condition"

I have been reading a lot of non-fiction lately so I decided to squeeze in a piece of fiction to lighten things up.  Martha Wells' "Artificial Condition" is the second book of the Murderbot Diaries series.

In this novella, our hero, Murderbot, is investigating an incident in his past that led him to give himself the name of Murderbot.  What he discovers changes his whole outlook.

Like the first book, "All Systems Red", the reader is drawn into how the bot thinks as he attempts to discover what he is and how to fit in to the human world around him.

He seems to be developing friendships in this book and I am interested to see if they reappear in the other books of the series.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  I am still looking forward to seeing how the potential of this character is realized.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #28

  • This week I took Mom to lunch and went browsing at the Rush Market looking for new couch options.  We also worked on putting a Will together.  Mom has reached the state where she just wants things done and I one hundred percent understand and agree. 
  • It felt like a busy week and I only walked two times this week.  I am slowly pushing up the miles walked each day.  I managed to walk over 8 miles (12.9 km) each time for a total of 17.3 miles (27.8 km).  The upcoming week is also turning out to be a bit busy too but the weather is getting cooler so I should be able to get a couple hikes in.  Aiming for 9 miles or more each.
  • Speaking of the weather, it looks like the heat wave we've been having is finally breaking and temperatures will be trending back to average this week.  That is a good thing for walking and our electric bill.  Tomorrow we are going to have the first potentially significant rain in a long time and I'm looking forward to listening to the rain while I stream something (probably "The Boys" on Prime).

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Book: George Carlin's (With Tony Hendra) "Last Words"

I really enjoyed the humor of George Carlin.  This encouraged me to read his memoir, "Last Words".

The book is a biography of Carlin from his early childhood to the early twenty-first century.  It is obviously filled with words that will not be shared in this post.  In a way that is part of Carlin's charm.  His language is mostly unfiltered.

The book was put together from conversations between Carlin and his friend Tony Hendra.  It is written in Carlin's voice throughout and includes excerpts from his acts through the years.  I found it very entertaining.

It is not a perfect book though.  The last two or three chapters feel unorganized and somewhat non-chronological compared to the rest of the book.  For example after talking about a 1999 HBO special he jumps back to 1997 to talk about the death of his first wife.  After saying she died he jumps to talking about his many heart attacks.  This transition was jarring.  I was expecting more about how he felt and reacted to the death of a woman he truly loved but there was nothing.  The same can be said about the page or two that talked about meeting his second wife.  This book, apparently, had been worked on over a few decades and, in fact, Carlin died before it was finished.  This may explain the issues with the last chapters.

It was Hendra who finished the book.  One thing that surprised me was the lack of a mention of how and when Carlin died.  I would have expected an epilogue talking about the last few years of his life and the story of his passing.  This would have tied up the book in a nice bow especially when you consider that the first chapter talks about him exiting the birth canal.

As I read this book I wondered what Carlin would have thought of all the crap that has happened since his death in 2008.  Those HBO specials would have been on fire.

Despite the shortcomings of the last chapters, I gave the book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  I enjoyed it enough not to hold the shortcomings of the last chapters against it.

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Weekly Ephemera #27

  • On Saturday the Wife and I went to witness and celebrate the baptism of the Wife's niece's little girl.  I celebrated a bit too hard I think.  I ended up eating too much junk.  Bread, Ice cream (with M&Ms), macaroni and cheese, and a cookie ... all unnecessary carbohydrates.
  • This morning, after a very restless sleep (I think I dreamt I was awake all night) I woke up with a headache and several random muscle aches.  I imagine this is what a hangover feels like.  Can you get a hangover by eating too many carbs?
  • I walked two times this week.  I was going to walk three times but the heat and humidity in the middle of the week kept me inside.  I ended up walking 12.3 miles (19.8 km).

    Not a murder hornet but an eastern cicada killer.
    During one of my walks a saw what I thought was a murder hornet (actually an Asian Giant Hornet).  It was huge - between one and two inches in length.  A little Googling convinced me that I had not seen a murder hornet but what I saw was actually an Eastern Cicada Killer.   I'm glad I'm not a cicada.
  • I was reminded of something this weekend.  During one of my walks back in February or March I had crossed an enclosed pedestrian bridge.  At the end of the bridge was a sensor activated sliding door centered on the end of the bridge.  After you pass through the door into a building you turn left and exit that building.  I turned left and saw what I thought was an open sliding door like the one I'd just walked through.  I ended up walking full speed into a remarkably clear pane of glass.  Instead of one sliding door, it was actually two normal swinging doors with glass between the doors.  I left a large smudge of the glass at face height (and bent up my glasses).  No one saw me which was good because I was a bit embarrassed (which may explain why I didn't post about it earlier).  I left hoping I wasn't on a security camera blooper reel.

    So, I crossed that bridge again a couple weeks ago and I noticed that there was a smudge on the glass at about face height.  I'm not sure if it's my smudge.  That would imply that the glass wasn't cleaned since early spring.  If it wasn't my smudge then I'm not the only clumsy person walking into that same clean pane of glass.  Nothing like schadenfreude to make me feel better.