Tuesday, October 28, 2008

it's great to be back among the wingnuts

Somehow, I got on the mailing list of a guy in Southern California, who regularly sends out mass emails of a 'certain' bent. I usually challenge his stuff, and always get back an unintentionally-funny response.

Got this one this morning, with the Subject 'WISDOM':

This election year let's be reminded of these words:

* You cannot help the poor, by destroying the rich.

* You cannot strengthen the weak, by weakening the strong.

* You cannot bring about prosperity, by discouraging thrift.

* You cannot lift the wage earner up, by pulling the wage payer down.

* You cannot further the brotherhood of man, by inciting class hatred.

* You cannot build character and courage, by taking away men's initiative and independence.

* You cannot help 20 men permanently, by doing for them what they could and should, do for themselves.

Do you recognize the author?

It was Abraham Lincoln

Very, very wise words, written years ago and many still don't get it

Naturally, I wrote back with a link to a web site that debunks these quotes, as certainly NOT having come from Lincoln. He wrote back to me:

Don't care who said it I like it makes sense and by the way what makes your
source the authority?

I wrote back 'you are too funny...' followed with six more web pages documenting the erroneous attribution.

Fish in a barrel.


Received an actually reasonable response from the guy:

Okay Barry I think I have good idea since your very good at finding out when something is viable from now on if you don't mind I would like to send you what I receive and then have you look it up prior to my forwarding it to anyone. What do you say?

I will definitely take him up on this offer. Maybe there IS hope after all!

Monday, October 27, 2008

am I back?

My body still isn't sure what time it is, but I did try to do a little work this morning.

Also, I transferred my photos from camera to computer, and deleted the obvious dups and misfires. Unfortunately, many of my interior shots (Aya Sofia, close-ups of tiles in the Rushtem Pasha mosque, the Underground City, etc.) did not come out.

However, I think that there are enough good shots to put together a slide-show that won't be too painful for courteous viewers. For me, they brought back the sense of being there, which was comforting, to know that it wasn't all a dream.

Would it be a mistake to lie down for just a few minutes? I promise to try to stay awake.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

a whirl, with and without dervishes

The Whirling Dervish show was puzzling. We drove to an old caravanserai where, along with many other tour groups, we were presented with a brochure and seated on bleachers in the round, surrounding a dim, square area.

It was too dark to read the brochure, so we sat, listened to the breathy flute music, chatted with other folks, enjoyed the mysterious surroundings, and waited.

Eventually the lights dimmed and the music stopped, and, silently, four musicians and a half-dozen other figures, in dark robes with tall hats, processed into the performance space and we were off and running, on an hour-long sequence of music, bowing, whirling, bowing, whirling, chanting and more bowing and whirling, all done without any comment.

And then it was over - they all walked off, the lights came on, the audience filed out into the open space, where everyone received a plastic cup with a warm, sweet unidentifiable beverage, and we were left to discuss what we had just seen. These were actors, since there are no longer any real dervishes, but they certainly took their performance seriously.

Back in the bus, we had a chance to read the brochure, which described in detail the various sections of the ritual. This helped a bit, but suffice it to say that nothing is more incomprehensible than another man's religious practice.

The next morning, we had our last breakfast with the group before they headed off for their final tour day. We finished packing, and I had a quiet hour, sitting on the balcony, overlooking the Uchisar castle, valley, and spires, as patches of sun moved over the rock formations and silent houses. It was good.

The shuttle bus picked us up and shuttled us to the Nevsehir airport, and the expected processes eventually got us on a plane for the short flight to Istanbul. We took a cab to our hotel, in the quiet seaside town of Yesilkoy. We unpacked a few things, then set out.

It's not a tourist place, but a bustling little Turkish town, with a long history. The main streets were filled with the familiar kebab joints, liquor stores, and shoe shops. We walked to the train station and, on Baris's advice, went two stops to Bakırköy, a large suburban town with a crowded, bustling main street, filled with the familiar kebab joints, liquor stores, and shoe shops, but with lots more people.

Baris thought we could find an english movie at the cineplex (with Turkish subtitles) but all the films were 100% Turkish except for 'Disaster Movie', which we declined to see. We walked around, had tea in a peaceful open-air bistro, watched the pigeons playing in the fountain, changed a pile of lira back into dollars, then took the dingy suburban train back to Yesilkoy.

We rested a bit at the hotel, then set out for our final Turkish dinner. We found a charming place run by a German-speaking host, and had a nice meal of two salads and a potato gozelme, surrounding another pile of salad (OK, so communication wasn't perfect). After that, we walked around the quiet neighborhoods, admiring the beautiful Ottoman houses, got lost, backtracked, and ended up, again, at the marina and our hotel. Time to wrap things up.

Got up at 6. Nothing says 'the end of a trip' like having the sound of the distant dawn call-to-prayer disrupted by the sound of a hair-dryer from the bathroom, which made it impossible for me to hear the BBC news on the telly.

We had a final cheese/olive/tomato/coffee/bread-and-jam/tang breakfast at the hotel, and had a few minutes to stand at the door, breathe in the clean, cool air of another morning on the Sea of Marmara before our ride to the airport arrived.

The airport was a beehive, and it took most of two hours before, six passport checks later, we finally boarded the plane for New York.

Eleven hours passed. Three movies, two *great* meals (Turkish Airlines treats you right), little dozing, little reading, a little conversation.

Finally, it was 2 pm at JFK. Customs was a snap and transferring to the waiting area for the flight to Portland was easy. Then the real ordeal began.

We were tired (duh!) and the JFK domestic Delta concourse must have been designed by The Devil. It was loud, crowded, uncomfortable, dismal and did I mention loud? The incessant, repetitive message were inescapable and, what's more, I was feeling a cold coming on.

We were scheduled to depart about 4 hours later, but the first sign of delay appeared shortly - a 15-minute delay that eventually turned into over 2 additional hours. You can imagine.

Finally, around 9:30 pm, we boarded the half-full plane, and the final stage was under way.

Karen found an empty row and I stretched out, and the next thing I knew we were somewhere over Minnesota. I watched bad TV for a while, dozed again, and then we were over Idaho, and then over eastern Oregon, and then descending into Portland.

Touchdown around 2:00 am - over 30 hours since waking up in Yesilkoy. We got our bags and a shuttle van, and drove up to our own house around 3. The dog made little cries of happiness as we walked in, and the cats pretended to be glad to see us.

Woke up, fairly disoriented, at 8:30. It's a beautiful fall morning in Portland.

Lots of laundry to do. Then I must trim my nails, finish unpacking, and resume normal life.

One of these days, I must look at my photos.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Last day in Cappadocia

I was certainty tired when I dashed off that last entry.

I neglected to mention the amazing Roman aqueduct and theater at Aspendos, as well as the homemade guzelmes at a family-run roadside stand.

Also, we visited the revered dervish tombs in Konya, and the beautifully preserved caravanserai in the middle of a perfectly-flat, treeless, dry, and merciless plane, which was the primary Silk Road route between the Mediterranean and China. During that tedious drive, all I could think about was the ancient caravans, trudging along that path, week after week. Tough way to make a living.

Today, however, was devoted to Cappadocia's bizarre rock formations and rock-cut Byzantine churches. One in particular, the 'Dark Church', had some of the most vivid frescos I have ever had the privilege to illegally photograph.

We finished the day by climbing the Uchisar 'castle', the highest point for miles around. It was late afternoon, and the view, coupled with the sense of 'end of the trip' made it a peak experience (and I didn't even mention lunch in the underground restaurant).

In another hour, we get together for a final round of drinks, then dinner (what? We have to eat AGAIN?) and the whirling dervish show (which I was willing to pass on, but gave in to peer-group pressure).

Karen and I leave the group tomorrow to fly to istanbul for one more night, before heading home saturday.

Many thanks go to our superb guide, Baris, without whose humor and flexibility the trip would have been predictable. It definitely was not.

Watch this space for photos, in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Antalya to Cappadocia

Seems like days ago when we left Antalya.

We toured the ancient site of Perge, which was eerie and magnificent. You could envision daily life, as we walked on 2000 year old paving stones and wandered through their baths, meeting places and markets (still occupied by hawkers of jewelry, hats, scarfs and anything else a tourist could want - just not this tourist).

We left the next morning and eventually headed north, away from the Mediterranean and up into craggy, rugged mountains. The highest pass was over 6000 feet and, ıncredibly, a branch of the Silk Road passed this way.

Eventually we came down onto the vast Anatolian plane. At Beysehir we visited the old wooden mosque (you can look it up) and then went to a teeny village for the home stay, which was warm and interesting.

I should write much more, but I have limited time on this hotel computer.

Yesterday was a long day of driving and so was today. We arrived in Cappadocia in the late afternoon, in time to tour the famour underground city of Kaymalki, which I probably spelled incorrectly.

We just checked into our amazing hotel, just in time for sunset. Tomorrow is a full day of Cappadocia touring - then we fly back to Istanbul on Friday morning. The trip has come to its grand finale, but now it is time for dinner and sleep.

Monday, October 20, 2008

An Afternoon in Antalya

After breakfast, we drove out to the site of Perge, which has been a busy place for 2500 years. The last few hundred were pretty quiet, but the tourists make it lively again.

The ruins are impressive and you really get a sense of everyday life. To walk down the column-lined main street, on 2000 year old pavement, passing the many souvenir vendors, exactly as the ancients did, was a great sensation.

We also visited the enormous stadium - the best preserved I had ever seen. It's easy to visualize the crowds filing thru the entrances, and cheering on their favorite fighters.

It was a hot day. We drove back to the busy Antalya bustle, then walked a bit by the picturesque harbor. We had quick lamb sandwiches and fresh-squeezed orange juice, then walked back to the hotel.

We had made reservations at the neighborhood hammam, and went there for our turkish bath experience. It was amazing - a multi-step orgy of steam, hot water, and soapy massage, both karen and I together, attended to by a nonchalant but skillful guy, who took our nakedness in stride.

After that, we were wrapped in towels, and left to rest in the foyer. Refreshing apple tea was served, and then it was time for the final step. What can I say about a warm, scented oil massage, by experienced fingers, while, outside, the afternoon call to prayer echoed thru the narrow streets?

Now to go out to dinner. Life is good.

Following alexander to antalya

We docked at Fethiye and drove up into the hills to Kayakoy, a village on a hillside that had been the home of a Greek community for hundreds of years. In the 1920's, the people were given one day to pack their things and leave. The place has been abandoned since that day - it is a village of ghosts.

Back in Fethiye, we had some free time to shop. This is always a dangerous thing.

At the grand bazaar in istanbul, I was captivated by a small shop that sold old ottoman maps and
miniatures. I left and retained twice but, in the end, decided not to buy the amazing world map that caught my eye, which had been gradually reduced to its final price of $325.

Well, in a great little shop in Fethiye, I saw another map, not quite as wonderful as the one in istanbul, but the starting price was $250. My main hesitation was carrying it for the next week. While karen bargained hard on a piece of metalwork, I stared at the map.

The price was down to $160 when we decided to walk away. The shopkeeper was desperate for us to keep bargaining, but we just couldn't commit.

We walked around more - there were many stores selling truly gorgeous things. It was time to rejoin the group. We again found ourselves walking by the earlier place. The proprietor saw us and welcomed us back with a hearty greeting.

Our time was short. We went back and forth. Karen did buy her piece at her asking price and, to my amazement, we bought the map for $135. At the last moment, he begged us to make it $140 but we held firm.

As he carefully wrapped it up in layers of cardboard, bubble-wrap and tape, I fished thru my wallet. I came up with $120 and a 20 lira note. He did some mental math and said '5 lira more'. I handed it to him and he smiled, said '137?', and we shook hands.

Our last night on the gulet was noisy, as we were moored in the marina, on a busy street. Neither of us slept very well. After breakfast, we left the boat and headed off in a van, for a long day of tourism.

We followed Alexander's route thru ancient Lycia. The way was obvious.

We stopped briefly at Xanthos - a haunted place with a remarkable history (look it up). More ghosts, from long, long ago.

More driving - stops at Kekova for a boatride along the shore of a sunken city of 1500 years ago. We docked at Simena, to climb to the top of the castle, for great views of the mountains, bay, islands and huge, stark, mysterious lycian tombs. A great stop, but we were hot, tired and hungry, with MANY kilometers yet to go.

We drove to Demre for lunch and a chance to take photos of the many likenesses of Santa Clause, exactly as he appears in every Christmas ad. St. Nicholas was bishop here. We visited the 3rd century basilica, which was pretty neat, then drove a short distance to the site of Myra, a truly ancient place with multiple layers: 2500 year old lycian rock-cut tombs in the cliffs, the massive Roman theater, with the view from the top taking in the local mosque's minarets, and the view below taking in the modern Turks, trying to sell the German, French, Russian and American tourists effigies of a fat gent with a white beard and a red suit.

It was overwhelming.

Now thoroughly burned out, we returned to the bus for the 2+ hour drive to Antalya, still following alexander's route. I am writing all this on the bumpy ride, on my handheld. With any luck, i'll be able to post this to the blog later.

It's been a long day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

cruising around

Since the last blog entry, many days ago, we visited Ephesus and the modern town of Selcuk, then drove south to the Mediterranean, stopping for a brief visit to Didyma to see the amazing temple there. At Marmaris, we boarded our gulet and the busy pace of tourism changed dramatically.

Today is the last day of the cruise portion of our Turkey trip. For 5 days we have been anchoring in quiet little coves, hiking around to isolated villages and ruins and snorkeling in astonishingly clear water. Also, the food AND the weather, I should mention, have both been pretty darn good.

Tomorrow we cover the road from Fetiyhe (sp?) to Antalya, stopping at several places to see ruins and marvel at the fact that Alexander the Great walked this same road. We are in Antalya for two nights so there should be WiFi at the hotel (I am currently using the group leader's laptop, connected to his cell phone).

The Turkish people are very friendly, as long as you don't bring up the subject of genocide. This makes them defensive.

I'd love to write more, but it's time to go swimming again.

Monday, October 13, 2008

sunset over samos

We flew from Istanbul to Izmir this morning, about 45 minutes, over lands where Alexander the Great marched his army, 2300 years ago.

We toured the spiffy port area, where, in years past, Greeks massacred Turks and vice versa. I passed an old man who was tooting away on a primitive wooden reed instrument and was captivated by the hypnotic, nasal sound. He had a stack of the, of course, and I had to buy one - 4 lira - probably too much. I will need to practice far away from the group!

We drove out of the huge, congested, sprawling city and, after a bit, turned off onto remote secondary roads, up into the forested, dry hills.

We stopped at a teeny village for one of OAT's special 'discoveries' - a visit to a small family-run organic farm, where we met the Turkish family, who served us a very fine lunch on their porch, with sweeping views of the surrounding hills. It really felt like the middle of nowhere.

The family was very welcoming - after lunch, we were invited inside the house, to their living room, where we were served tea and they, with our guide Barish translating, answered our many questions. We had some time before we had to move on, so we walked a short distance from the farmhouse to the little town center.

There, we met some young boys who were kicking a soccer ball around. I asked if any of them had ever heard of Obama, and got blank stares. We walked across the tiny square where the town elders sat under a tree. It was definitely a patriarchal scene - no women in sight. The men asked us some tough questions about US policy regarding Iraq and Turkey. They had heard of Obama, and sniffed in disapproval at the name 'Bush'.

Earlier in the afternoon, I had heard the mid-day call to prayer coming from their little mosque, so I asked if they had their own imam just for their town. They said, 'would you like to meet him?' and we all said 'sure'.

Inside the mosque gate, we found the young imam (white shirt and dark slacks), standing on a bench, trying to puzzle out a connection between a dangling wire and a detached loud-speaker. He seemed happy to take a break and answer our many questions, the first one being 'are you the imam or the electrician?' He laughed.

After a bit of interesting talk about his sermons and government financial support, he asked if we wanted to see the mosque interior. I took a breath, pointed to the minaret and said, "what I'd really love, if it is permitted, is to climb to the top of that." He grinned and another man led me to the locked gate at the base, unlocked it and motioned for me to follow.

The view from the top, of the village and surrounding fields and hills, was grand and the sensation of being up there just great. The man chattered to me in Turkish but all I could say were the words for 'thank you' and 'pretty'.

Before we said our goodbyes and thanks to the townspeople and headed off into the late afternoon sun, one of the guys in the group, a retired electrical engineer, completed the loudspeaker wiring. Everybody felt great about that.

It took an hour to drive to Ephesus, which we glimpsed in the distance. We continued on to the coast at Kusadasi, arriving just as the golden ball of the Sun set behind the craggy line of Samos, offshore in the brilliant haze.

Checked into our surprisingly-deluxe hotel (Charisma) and got cleaned up for dinner. There's wifi here in the room, so I am composing this on my little ipaq, one damn letter at a time.

Tomorrow, we walk in the steps of St. Paul, visiting the theater where he was soundly booed.

One final note. I commented on the wiring done at the mosque. The engineer mentioned that the young imam had purchased the wrong kind of connector and, if he ever messed with the setup and did something wrong, he'd be seeing Allah sooner than expected.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

last day in Istanbul

It was pouring rain this morning and it looked like the skies were going to be cloudy all day. We had breakfast at the hotel and decided to head out to the Grand Bazaar anyway.

We took the tram from the train station to the stop near the Bazaar and were soon enveloped in its chaos. color, insane variety and persistently-creative shopkeepers. We had been there about 10 minutes before Karen pointed to a guy near us and said 'I think I know him.' Indeed, it was a Portland attorney and his wife, that she knew from her Workers Comp days. Funny.

We wandered and wandered, taking it all in. The most interesting stall I found was one selling old Ottoman maps and miniature illustrations, clearly from old books. They appeared to be genuine stuff (the owner claimed that his family had been there for over 200 years). I left and returned three times, and were deep in negotiation for an amazing map from about 1860 - he got down to 325 dollars, but we decided that it was too fragile to carry around for two weeks. We promised to come back on our last day before returning home, and had him mark the position of his stall on the map in my guide-book. His response was 'I have heard that before,' and I can't say I blame him.

We got a cheap, yummy lunch there in the market, bought a couple of t-shirts, looked at a few more aisles, and headed out into the bright sunshine - it had turned into a beautiful day.

In the neighborhood is one of the large mosques - the Nuruosmaniye. We sat on the steps to rest and watch the crowds entering and exiting the Grand Bazaar. The mid-day call to prayer sounded and the faithful came. As everyone was leaving we were approached by a crusty old gent, who asked where we were from. Turns out that Mustafa had been in the States a couple of times and his English was pretty good. We chatted about Bush (hated him) and Obama (liked him), the Iraq war, US-Turkey relations, and his sons, who have still not produced grandchildren for him. It was very nice, but, after he left, we decided not to go back into the bazaar to visit his shop, as invited.

We ambled thru the twisty streets and eventually worked our way back to Aya Sophia. We strolled thru the peaceful Gulhane park, then grabbed the tram over the Galata Bridge. We got out and followed our upwards instincts to the Galata Tower. It was a climb and, fortuitously, there was an elevator to the top (10 lira apiece). The view up there was, as you might expect, spectacular. We stayed for a while, drinking in the 360 degree views of this surprisingly-enormous city.

We walked downhill (duh!). crossed the Golden Horn on the Ataturk bridge, and returned to our hotel's neighborhood, stopping in a busy neighborhood to buy pistachios and to find the last destination on my Istanbul check-list - the Rustem Pasha mosque.

It's another of those Sinan-the-architect wonders - a small mosque like the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha we saw on our 2nd day, but with flamboyant Iznik tiles. Took many photos of the exterior and interior. Amazing place.

It is now 6;15 pm and I am too tired to look for a colon. We are back at the hotel and about to head to the sauna again. We leave for the airport at 8 am tomorrow - the adventure continues.

Friday, October 10, 2008

on the Golden Horn

It is now Friday night in Istanbul and I am still unable to find the comma on this keyboard.

The morning after we arrived, (hey hey - just found the comma!!!!) Karen and I visited the Sokollu Mehmet Pasha (sp?) mosque, in a quiet neighborhood near the Hippodrome. It was a small mosque, very unpretentious from the outside, but a gem of classic construction inside (designed by the same renowned architect who built some of the major showcases in town). The caretaker let us in and answered all our questions. No photos were permitted, but he was happy to sell me a set of photos, showing the astonishing tile-work, for 10 lira.

After that, we wandered over to the Mosaic Museum - another must-see. Pictures wıll be posted one of these days, but you can look it up.

We headed back to our wonderful little hotel and relaxed on the terrace we had come to love, until it was time to take a cab over to the hotel where we were to meet up with our group. It took a while for everyone to assemble (different flights) but eventually all introductions were made and we went off for an odd dinner, which was in the former soup-kitchen attached to the Sulemaniye mosque.

Our hotel is the World Park Hotel, which bills itself as a 5-Star Establishment. Our room was very hot and we suspected that the air-conditioning was not right. We called and an engineer came up, fiddled with the unit, and assured us it was fixed. We turned on the TV and it did not work. We called and the same engineer reappeared, fiddled with the cables and then it was OK. Then we discovered that the bathroom ceiling was dripping water from the floor above. Aside from that (and the traffic noise and street lights), the room was perfect.

We complained this morning, packed up our bags, asked for another room, and headed off with the group for a full day of sights.

We went to the Turkish Arts museum, which was pretty good. The cruise ships were in town, so the Hippodrome and Blue Mosque area was swarming, so different from when Karen and I visited two days before. We stayed outside while the group braved the throngs in the mosque.

Then we all walked over to the Topkapi palace, but, there too, the tourist swarms were incredible. We saw what we could, but burn-out was happening. We did see some cool, historic rooms, and some amazing treasures (including a major diamond), but it was not a great experience. Maybe Karen and I will go back tomorrow afternoon.

We had a group lunch in a noisy, less-than-wonderful eatery, right near Aya Sophia. The tour company had obviously made an arrangement with this place, and there was the expected grumbling. However, after that, we went to a tourist stop that was perfectly cool.

The Basilica Cistern was built by those amazing Romans around 500. It collected water from various sources in a vast underground chamber, the roof supported by hundreds of enormous pillars, that had been plundered from various sources. It was largely forgotten for over a thousand years, until rediscovery in the 1700s. It was a haunting place. Look ıt up.

It was getting to be a long day by now, but far from over. We boarded our minibus and drove down to the docks near the Galata Bridge. The 11 of us boarded a mid-sized tour-boat and had our promised cruise on the Bosphorus. The rain we had earlier was long-gone, and our 90 minute trip was sunny and breezy. This was a historic passageway, going back to Jason and the Argonauts. This was a relaxing and scenic break in a busy day.

Coming back into the Golden Horn from the Bosphorus, the late afternoon sun highlighted all the palaces and minarets of the dozens of mosques on the hills overlooking this amazing piece of real-estate.

Back at the bus, most of the group was now prepared to head to the Grand Bazaar for more congestion and aggressive shop-keepers. Karen and I left the bus to wander in the neighborhood near the hotel, especially thru the fragrant and visually stimulating Spice Bazaar. We found the hotel and were astonishingly pleased to find that they WERE able to move us to another room, this time on the 5th floor instead of the 1st, with a spectacular vıew of the Golden Horn, Bosphorus, and Galata Tower neighborhood and, most important, a working air-conditioner!

We changed into our bathing suits, headed to the spa where we journeyed between the little pool and the sauna a couple of times, before going back to the room, then out to a wonderful neighborhood kebab joint (Hamdi Restaurant, recommended by the spa guy), for the best-meal-of-the-trip-so-far (and we had dessert, too).

Now we are back at the hotel, my bladder is full from the two beers I had with dinner, and I think I have written just about enough. don't (HEY - just found the apostrophe!) you?

Tomorrow is an optional (i.e. you pay extra) tour, that Karen and I are going to bail on. We will sleep late and then just see what comes. It's our last day in Istanbul - we fly to Izmer Sunday morning. We like this place.

Good night, all.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

it is not morning in America

It is morning in Istanbul. Thursday morning to be exact.

We left Portland late Monday night and landed here Wednesday morning after a lot of airports and lines. The longest leg was New York to Istanbul. Over 9 hours with two very nice meals, and a personal TV screen with selections ranging from current and old movies to travel pieces and old TV shows.

I watched The Magnificent Seven, among other treats.

Our hotel is amazing - very comfortable and great location, not to mention this amazing terrace where I now sit, using their computer with this confusing keyboard.

Yesterday after getting settled, we spent three hours wandering around Aya Sophia marveling at the mosaics and engineering of 500 AD. We then took a break to drink tea at an outdoor cafe on the Hippodrome before wandering around the Blue Mosque and surrounding neighborhood.

We did manage to stay awake the entire day, thanks to a couple of rest periods. We slept well in our charming little room and are back on the terrace which overlooks the Bosphorus, with Asia in the morning haze.

Greetings to everyone. I did not bring my cable for uploading photos but there should be plenty to choose from, one of these days.

Now for another cup of tea, before we set out for today;s adventures, including the search for the hidden apostrophe on this keyboard.

Monday, October 06, 2008

dow currently down 800

maybe not the best day to be leaving the country for 3 weeks!

oh well, as long as we're mostly packed, I guess we're going.

At least the Turkish lira is plunging more quickly than the dollar.

here's a good idea

can't hurt

can't leave town on that note

Excuse the pessimistic post, below. Better make some coffee.

There is some good news, too.

Here's another illuminating item of hope.


We leave for the airport in about 12 hours.

This morning, listening to the financial experts pontificating on the radio, one guy said that, if you are a worker in your 20s or 30s, you have many decades of productive work ahead of you, and will go thru many booms and busts until your retirement.

Yes, it's great to look forward to endless decades of 'normal' (i.e. 20th Century) human life on this abundant, fertile planet, where trucks will always deliver fresh food to your local Safeway, you can take family car trips to see the USA, and the TV will supply endless frivolity.

On the other hand, maybe the past will not be the prologue, and the future will be a different world. What will we think, in 30 years, about Obama's pastor?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

last-minute techie fun

I am planning on taking my old (non-telephone) iPaq to Turkey (instead of my precious 8100, which I'd hate to lose, break, or have stolen). It does WiFi and actually has a larger more-readable screen than the SmartPhone.

I loaded a gig of music and my entire address book on it. Then, I read on my favorite Turkey Travel site about using Skype, rather than buying a phone card, to talk to folks back home.

I loaded it up on my iPaq (free download), bought $10 worth of credits (so that I can call any phone) and tried it out. It did work (calling my home phone and talking to Karen, sitting right next to me), but there was a noticeable delay.

For grins, I contacted Joe in Florida and we did a computer-to-computer call, using my home WiFi, and the sound quality and response time was superb. It was uncanny, turning my I-thought-it-was-totally-obsolete iPaq into a phone. I better rewrite that craigslist ad, where I was hoping to dump that device for whatever I could get for it.

If anyone out there has a Skype account, send me your ID, at blavine@usa.net

Karen is at work, trying to finish that last couple of briefs before we leave Monday night. I am playing with my toys, and putting off packing for another few hours.


Friday, October 03, 2008

another possible explanation

...of why Palin avoided answering the question about naming your own personal Achilles heel.

Some pundits aver that she was just following the pattern already developed: no matter what the question is, quickly move into your prepared Talking Points.

I am wondering if she heard the question perfectly, but came up with a blank when trying to remember exactly who Mr. Achilles is, and what's wrong with his foot?

You'd think it would have been something she would have come across, having read *all* the magazines and newspapers.

let's say 'palindrome' with a long A, from now on, OK?

palindrome: word or sentence that reads the same forward as it does backward.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

vp debate reviews

Watched with a group of friends. There was a fair amount of yelling at the TV (guess when).

I won the award for best prediction when, seconds before Palin said the word 'Maverick', I said, "she's going to say 'Maverick'".

The consensus in the group was that Palin may, with some voters, have gotten away with substituting self-assurance for competence (but not with us). All the women agreed that winking at the camera was contemptible.

Best catch on post-debate fact-checking so far:

Palin's final quote was from Ronald Reagan, warning that without vigilance, "you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children's children, what it once was like in America when men were free." In fact, Reagan was not warning about a general lack of vigilance about freedom, he was warning what would happen if Medicare was enacted.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

from Jesus' General blog today

Here, if you don't read it regularly.

let's assume the McCain campaign knows what it is doing

OK, it's a stretch, but here's a thought.

They picked Palin knowing for sure that it would energize the religious know-nothings and this appears to have been quite successful. They knew her youthful energy and good looks might be sufficient to bring in other groups, who were not ready to accept a black man.

However, they had to have scoped out the Troopergate case, and recognized that this was something that had to be stonewalled and squelched until Election Day. How else to explain the ignoring of subpoenas and other hardball stuff going on up there, by McCain campaign operatives?

Then, after the election and McCain wins, who cares if, she is forced to resign due to embarrassing and/or criminal events in Alaska? Actually, they'd probably be relieved to have her gone, having served The Purpose. They can pick someone not prone (or, best case, less prone) to verbal gaffes.

After all, before Election Day, the only purpose of a Vice President is to influence voters. After Election Day, there is the troubling statistic that, historically, VPs have at least a 20% chance of becoming President, irrespective of the current nominee's age and medical history. Even Republicans can't possible be this reckless.

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha....