Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Saturday: A photo essay

Oh how we love our new van!

Let's take it to the river. . .

and go for a swim!

The moon's getting up, perhaps we should head home.

BUT the van won't start. . .

A friendly CHP officer shows up to lend a hand (look how dark it's gotten!).

Then 3 1/2 hours after we first contacted Triple AAA, our tow truck showed up. No thanks to Triple AAA though, they were fine to leave us stranded.
Thanks Sinclairs Towing for seeing us safely home!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

My 'Other' Blog

Okay, so I've signed up for MatadorU (Matador's travel writing school) and with that, I've been blogging on their site. So far I've written about why I like travel writing and our last night in Kathmandu where there was a riot just outside our hotel. If you're interested in reading more, click this link and read all about it!

Wally Herger and the Town Hall Meeting in Redding

The debate about public health care rages on in the US (the richest country in the world and still the number one reason for bankruptcy in the country is health care!!!). However, I do not write to declare my views on health care. To address the public's concern over health care folks from the Congress and Senate have been giving 'town hall' style meetings where people from the community can come ask questions and have their concerns addressed. My area is represented by Congressman Wally Herger.

At a meeting in Redding a man named Bert Stead stood up and called himself a "proud right wing terrorist". Now, I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon and condemn this man. Instead, I'm going to post the video and let you all make a decision for yourself. The video is just over two minutes long.

And for a bit more information, here's a news article from about the event.

What if the man proclaiming himself 'a proud right wing terrorist' had been of Middle-Eastern descent? Would the people have cheered then? Men have been tortured and held for years in Guantanamo Bay for being suspected of being terrorists, let alone loudly proclaiming they are. A few examples: Maher Arar, Muhammad Faraj Ahmed Bashmilah and countless nameless others. Bert Stead is a white guy and so there's no ensuing investigation, no detention and nor should there be. But Congressman Herger should've corrected him and told him that use of the word terrorist, particularly in today's world, is unacceptable. If Herger failed to say that at the time, which he did, then after the fact he should apologize and attempt to correct his mistake. It's irresponsible on his part and I hope the people who vote for him take it as seriously as I do.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Okay, this is really big

I have been published on and the response so far has been great! I'm absolutely thrilled with the response (see the comments at the end of the article)!

For those of you who don't know, the Matador Network is the website for travel writing: the world's largest independent travel mag with over 1.8 million views of their website a month. Anyone who has spoken to me in the last couple of months knows how much I've wanted to get published on Matador and now I have been! I am over the moon!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Playing for Change: Peace through Music

Playing for Change (PFC), an organization aimed at bringing the world together through music, has a documentary that premiers on PBS throughout the month of August.

From PFC:
'Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. And with this truth firmly fixed in our minds, we set out to share it with the world.'

The songs are moving, from Stany by Me to War/No More Trouble , the idea inspirational and the artists involved very talented.

Matador is giving away free cds, but you've got to be on Twitter.

Keep an eye on PFC's website

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Best Sunset Shots

Napa Valley, USA

Koh Chang, Thailand

Gopte, Nepal

Kudle Beach, India

Hervey Bay, Australia

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Rebuttal: 'Aussie blokes make the worst husband, study says'

The Courier Mail posted a story today citing a study saying that Aussie blokes make the worst husbands. Australia ranked as the least egalitarian society out of 12 developed nations. According the story, Aussie men are less likely to help with chores and child care (traditionally seen as women's work).

I have to say from my experience, Aussies make great husbands. My own is a good example, though certainly not the only one. He's tidier than I am and (I hate to admit this, especially in writing that can and will be used against me) probably does more housework than I do. Perhaps it balances out when considered against the fact that I might cook a few more meals, but we both do more of what we care about: him, a clean house, me, good food. I have observed stacks of other Aussie men of our generation that do their best to have egalitarian relationships. I'm thinking in particular about a couple who are good friends of mine, her: Kiwi, him: Aussie, that seem to share life's duties quite evenly. I've never once seen him shy away from a dirty diaper, bath time, the dishes or cooking a meal.

The article recommends a husband from Scandinavia, Great Britain or the US. I prefer to keep my Aussie man, thank you very much.

What do you all think? Americans? Aussies?

Teeming with Life: Half Moon Bay

As the radio blares KGO Talk Radio, I wonder if I'm going to be able to make it through another hour in the car. My step-dad and mom sit up the front, him driving, her knitting. Beside me sits my 15 year old niece who actually manages to look more distressed by this experience than myself. It wouldn't be so bad except the constant right-wing dribble issuing forth from the speakers, punctuated by ads selling things that no one actually needs.

The further we get inland, the crummier the weather turns. By the time we reach Half Moon Bay the weather has shifted from warm and sunny to downright cold and grey. At least we've arrived.

We grab from the car the provisions we'll need to camp out at our neighbor's second house for the weekend. Once we've settled in, argued over who will take which room and watched half an hour of 'America's Funniest Home Videos' (is this really the best we've got America???), we all don our flip-flops and head to the beach. No one bothered to bring swimmers, this is Northern California and none of us hold any illusions about the chance of a dip in the ocean.

On the walk to the beach I spot some passion fruit flowers. On such a grey day, they're a welcome spot of color.

I know we are nearing the beach not only by my eyes, but my nose also gives it away. The tangy cool air given off by the beaches of north-west coast America is a smell I didn't even know I'd been missing until this moment. I pause, close my eyes and just savor the aroma.

Out of habit once I hit the sand I kick off my flip-flops, despite the chilly temperature and pebbly sand. Somehow this doesn't compare to the soft, white sands of Thailand or Australia. That said, what is that I see just down the way? Lounging on the rocks are a mother and baby sea lion. They allow us to get so close. For half an hour I watch, spellbound by the baby: his sleek, brown body and facial expressions are captivating. And those eyes!

Once the damp cold settles into my bones and the mist has covered my camera lense, I reluctantly head back to the weekend's home.

The next day we make our way to a beach lined with tide pools. My mom used to visit these when she was a kid. She remarks how happy she is to see them still intact all these years later. They are positively teeming with life: sticky sea anemones with small pebbles stuck to their outsides; sea bushes in dusty rose; deep red starfish cling tightly to rocks; seaweed that ranges from scaly, squat and green to long, thin and red; white, segmented coral that resembles delicate bones; muscles growing from every spare crevice; and hermit crabs crawling over and amongst it all.

Today the sun shone for a couple so the sand is warmer. The sun has done nothing to soften it up though, sharp bits of seashell crushed by rolling waves stab my recently pumiced tootsies. Ouch! Inexplicably there are long-stemmed yellow roses randomly strewn about the beach. Perhaps there was a wedding a here yesterday.

Further down the beach, there's a little rocky island, about hundred feet off shore. "Oooo, oooo!" my niece shouts, indicating the rocky outcrop we'd all but overlooked. Amongst the grey skeys, sea and mist, the harbor seals aren't easy to spot, but they're definitely there and look as if they're really enjoying this weather. Crazy sea animals.
I'd forgotten how much life cold water holds within it. I've spent the last five years living in Australia where much of what's alive in the water, you don't want to know about (sharks, jellyfish, blue bottles). It's a surprising treat that while the water is too cold for this little monkey to swim in, a day at the beach is still a lovely experience.