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[personal profile] skreeky

If I am leaving home for more than a couple of days, I don't "travel light." I travel prepared. Once I've determined that I am not going to make do with a carry-on, screw roughing it. And if I am traveling for two weeks or more, then yes, I am bringing the kitchen sink if I can figure out how to fold it.

My husband is fond of pointing out that we could just buy things at our destination, and this is sometimes true. I classify three different kinds of vacations. Type 1: the family visit -- Type 2: the relaxing getaway -- Type 3: the tour itinerary. For types 1 and 2, then yes, we can buy things at our destination. In fact, it gives us something to do, to get out of the house, to walk downtown. For type 3 though, if there is a packed itinerary and limited time in an exciting destination, I am not going to waste a few hours of it locating a drug store to buy deodorant. Double true if I am traveling with a group such as a ship or bus tour, with very little free unplanned time. So this is about packing for Type 3. Read more... )

corylea: A woman gazing at the sky (Default)
[personal profile] corylea
I haven't had a cell phone, because I don't GO anywhere. But given my upcoming trip to Delaware, I finally broke down and bought a cell phone.

I bought a Motorola phone, and when it arrived, I was struck by the logo:

the Motorola logo

You know what that reminded me of, right? Think about what you know about me. Look closely at that logo.

Yep, it reminded me of this:
See picture )


(The best way to reach me is still via e-mail, and if you want to talk on the phone, my land line is still the best number. I have Consumer Cellular's cheapest plan, which IS very cheap but which also comes with zero minutes.  So it's truly only for traveling; I use the land line when I'm at home, which is where I am 99% of the time.)

European river cruise: index

Jul. 24th, 2017 05:20 pm
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[personal profile] skreeky

Hi everyone! The write up of last month's Viking River Cruise through Europe is finally complete. I have backdated all entries to the day they refer to, but you can use this handy index to jump back to them. If you would like to click through the whole travelogue, no need to return here. You can just click "Next entry" at the bottom of each page.

Day 22 - Bucharest

Jun. 22nd, 2017 09:17 pm
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[personal profile] skreeky

Directly across the river from Russe, Bulgaria is the equally unimpressive town of Giurgiu, Romania, where we disembark from the Viking Lif and travel north in our motor coaches to the capital city of Bucharest. Viking takes care of moving our luggage from the ship to the hotel where we'll spend the night before flying home tomorrow. We checked out of our cabins and reclaimed our passports, already stamped for entering Romania, ate one last breakfast in the dining room, and found our bus for the day.

Read more... ) Read more... )

Berries!!!

Jul. 22nd, 2017 05:35 pm
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[personal profile] ceelove
So you know that drought we haven't had this past spring? You know how rain makes things grow? You know how I have a wild obsessive-compulsive love for berry picking? (You do now!)

This is by way of saying that I'm going berrying again tomorrow morning, having verified today that the Fells are resplendent with berries. Mostly tiny wild blueberries now, with a few black raspberries, and huckleberries soon to ripen.

Yes, you may come with me. Yes, you may ask me where I go, but understand that I suck at directions and maps, I really only know landmarks, so I'm vastly better at taking people than sending people. (If you come with me, though, understand that I wasn't kidding about that obsessive-compulsive thing: I can happily pick for hours.)

Thailand in the rainy season.

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:14 pm
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[personal profile] jbvb
Today: Weigh 206.5 lb., pretty good after all the Thai food I'd been fed. Black Raspberries almost gone, blueberries fading. Mulberry still producing. Yellow Transparent apple will be ripe before month's end, crop fairly heavy and not showing a lot of damage. Defrosted the kitchen freezer.

Thu: Flight home was better than outbound; I stayed warmer and the food was better. Aisle seat let me sleep a bit without making my legs too sore. Mieke brought my car to Logan, I drove it home. Went to bed about 11 PM EDT.

Wed: Nid's house re-roofed with corrugated aluminum, 75 mm of foil-faced fiberglass batts installed in 1100 mm wide bays between steel frame members, above old foil faced bubble insulation. Saved intact panels from failed corrugated cement board roof for her brother, whose roof is worse. P. Noy treated dinner at a place that served pizza. Their Hawaiian had the expected ham & pineapple, but also slices of (effectively) hot dogs, peas, carrots and corn. Crust soft, almost fluffy.

Tue: Nid drove part of the way home from Koh Chang, I drove the rest. Apple Maps did better, sending us down a long, straight, mostly rural road along Khlong 13 to bypass the motorways east of Bangkok. Excellent except for a couple of spectacular embankment failures amounting to maybe 300m of pothole dodging.

Mon: Rainy morning, see Ah Tep's group off, then explore the South side of Koh Chang. Cleared in the afternoon, tried out the Ramayana's private beach: Water too cold for Nid (at least 25C), very foamy from wave action, lots of plastic & debris on the beach. There was sand close to the shore, but out where the waves were breaking was all coral rock. Only a couple of body surfing rides.

Sun: Rainy morning, so no beach for the kids. P Noy and Bing headed home late morning. Nid and I hiked ~1 km. to the Klong Plu waterfall, which was nice but would be spectacular when the river is closer to flood stage. At full typhoon flow, the approach path would be meters deep.

Sat 7/15: Drive to Koh Chang. Apple maps suggested a rural route, but Bing, driving the other carload, stayed on the highway. He's a fast driver, but they lost their lead when they stopped for lunch. We didn't make the initial turn correctly and encountered some slow roads and a number of towns. I drove the 2nd half, my first driving on this trip. The policeman at the 'getting near Cambodia' checkpoint asked for my license, I showed him NH and Nid told him she'd washed my IDP. He said 'not legal, you're free to go' and off we went. Only 2 ferries working, so a noon-ish arrival didn't get us across till about 14:30. Bing & P. Noy got aboard a little behind us, but Ah Pa and Ah Tep had to wait at least another hour.

Thu: After breakfast with the 505 family, drove around looking for deer. Then Nid drove Ah Taow and Ah Pa back to the island, then us back to Saraburi.

Wed: Remembrance Day for deceased family members, ceremony and meal at Wat Tha Tako, 1/2 km away from the island. Then to the Mall, I got name cards and a pair of Birkenstock Milanos for $80.

Tue: Drive to 505 Pokhaphan noodle plant, cattle ranch etc. with Ah Wat, Ah Pa, Ah Rat and Ah Taow. Lots of discussion of old times, tour of the ranch, nice lunch at the canteen, visit the company store which sells noodles, beef and a good deal of hardware and tools. Then to see the land Wat just bought, which alas is on the far side of the giant traffic jam of everyone returning to Bangkok on Hwy. 2.

Mon: Namo, Ah Pa, Nid and I drive to Phanon Rung Historical Park to see the restored Khmer site from ~1000 AD, then to a theme resort with an interesting botanical garden.

Sun: To Ah Wat's store downtown to watch the Vassa Parade. The first two Buddha floats didn't have too many clearance problems, but we had to leave before the next got there - Ah Thai had come down from Nong Kai but couldn't stay long due to a medical appointment.

Sat 7/8: Start at 0600 for Korat, but Hwy. 2 already heavily congested with people going to the Northeast for the long weekend. What's normally 2 hours and a bit took us more than 7, Nid doing all the driving. Many family members were at the island, more arrived from the US just after we got there.

Fri: Road trip to Lop Buri, see the RR station and the palace, then home for Namo's football game. Nid got another quote for a metal roof and installation of insulation we buy.

Thu: Drive to Kaeng Khoi, look around the RR station - busy junction where a branch splits off the Northeastern main line to Korat and an arm of the Southern line joins. Then a 'make your own spring roll' Vietnamese lunch.

Wed: Out early to inspect the roof - found lots of cracks, some quite big enough to be the leak. Local builder told us the cement board had failed because it was screwed too tightly to the steel frame. Gave quote for a replacement cement board roof and insulation.

Tue: Very heavy rain in the afternoon caused a leak in Nid's house. Move the bed and a lot of other stuff, nothing seriously damaged.

Mon: Work around the house, buy a few tools, more wandering at the Thai Watsadu (big box building supply). P Noy's bike tires hold air, but the derailleur cable was rusted beyond repair and I can't get the handgrip shifter apart to detach the wire. New tube fixed Nid's folding bike just fine.

Sun: Visit building supply places looking for insulation, rigid foam does not seem to be available anywhere in Thailand. Look up bubble/foil, find it very over-marketed. Traffic ridiculous near big stores b/c everyone got paid at month's end. Fix Nid's screens, the kitchen sink drain, other stuff.

Sat 7/1: Hang around the house in Saraburi rebuilding my energy, doing minor chores.

Thu 6/29: Chores, packing, then J took me to the bus to Logan. Flight not comfortable, I should have put on the sweatshirt before trying to sleep. Was totally at the bottom of my blood sugar barrel when I got to Bangkok, should have been more explicit with Nid about needing fruit - she got 1 banana...

First Black Raspberries just ripe, blueberries getting near, mulberries well along. I think I've killed enough of the caterpillars that I'll have an apple crop, but I've also gotten a couple of their spines embedded in my fingertips. Gloves from now on.

Day 21 -- Russe and Veliko Tarnovo

Jun. 21st, 2017 07:04 pm
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[personal profile] skreeky

The boat docked this morning in Russe, Bulgaria, which you will also see sometimes spelled "Ruse". We had a brief bus tour of Russe on our way out of town, but this was one of those days where our destination was a couple of hours away on the bus, so it was very brief indeed. Read more... )

<

Read more... )

Day 20 - Vidin, Bulgaria

Jun. 20th, 2017 07:00 pm
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[personal profile] skreeky

This morning we are still in Bulgaria. As we dock in Vidin, we see a small chapel-like building which turns out to be a memorial to those who died under Communist oppression. We board our tour buses for the long drive up into the mountains, over 90 minutes each way, to see the dramatic rock formations of Belogradchik, which were once used partly as a fortress for the town.

Read more... ) Read more... )

However, we had already signed up for the afternoon cooking lesson group, so after lunch out we went again. The cooking lesson was a group of a dozen or so of us, and hosted in a local home with a woman named Ramona. Ramona had lived in the US for many years, and noted that her house at this point probably resembled an American style home more than a typical Bulgarian home. However, she seemed to really enjoy welcoming us in and giving the cooking lesson. Her Auntie Rosa did not speak English as easily, but assisted by preparing measured ingredients and whisking extra dishes out of the way. We immediately determined that everybody ought to have an Auntie Rosa.


Above left: Ramona's house, with Auntie Rosa and her friend Pavel on the porch. Above right: Ramona and Auntie Rosa demonstrate the banitsa mixture.

Read more... )

Progress report (2)

Jul. 15th, 2017 12:21 pm
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[personal profile] goddessfarmer
This is the week/weekend of chimney. My chimney contractor is here now (on Saturday) putting in new flue liners for wood stoves and making room in the chimney for the gas boilers. 
The heat system is disconnected and 1/2 dismantled, maybe next week the heating contractor will come back and continue work on that.
The new living room is done, and currently serving as office and living room.
The new bathroom is still in progress. 
The hot tub is out.
The foundation on the south side is exposed and new south side footings are poured. 
Waiting for the electrician to move the PV cables, the conduit for that is in place.
The east end that is being demoed is cut off from the rest of the house at the second floor floor and the chimney that was there is down to the first floor ceiling. 
The framers are going to be working on the new outside walls and roof starting next week. 

Enlightenment apostasy

Jul. 15th, 2017 12:09 pm
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[personal profile] dpolicar
(A friend recently posted about feeling depressed at the extent to which people seem perfectly content to embrace beliefs about the world that fly in the face of our observations of it. This started out as a comment and got out of hand.)

Yeah, I hear that.

That said: I find it really helps me, when I'm disoriented in the way you describe, to remember that the Enlightenment is fairly recent, historically speaking.

The idea that we can arrive at accurate beliefs about the world by observing it, studying it, experimenting with it, taking careful records, making predictions and checking to see whether our predictions are accurate... that idea is just a few centuries old.

The idea that we can converge on beliefs about the world through that process...
That the same experiment can be expected to get the same result whether performed by Christians or Jews or Pagans or atheists, by conservatives or liberals, by materialists or spiritualists...
That the observable world itself can be the source of a set of shared self-reinforcing beliefs...
That reliance on that process can form the cornerstone of a community just as reliance on a set of stories about God that we inherited from our ancestors does...

...these are really new ideas, historically speaking. Our culture has not fully assimilated them, not even close. Most of us weren't raised in the community of believers in the process of observing our surroundings and reasoning about them rigorously and communicating about them reliably. We don't really have social practices that reinforce that process.

So, sure, we often reject it. We often stray from that path and return to the older practice of performing culturally endorsed beliefs about reality in order to reinforce group boundaries and affirm group loyalty without reference to a shared observational practice.

That's unsurprising. Humans have been doing that before we have records; probably since before we were recognizably human.

And the alternative is genuinely hard! And honestly, as community-centering practices go, it lacks a lot: it de-centers individuals, it doesn't directly address moral issues, it doesn't distinguish between emotionally satisfying and emotionally alienating claims, it doesn't speak to our fears about nonexistence and loneliness, etc.

The one thing it has going for it is a promise to converge on shared truths if followed assiduously.

And for a lot of us that just isn't enough, or isn't always enough. We may embrace the tangible benefits of the practice, the tools and medicines and crop yields and cherry-picked theories that reinforce our culturally endorsed beliefs, but we tend to reject the practice itself. Heck, even the thing we call "science" is riddled with those practices, like any other human institution. Those habits run deep.

So, sure, of course we continue to practice the old ways, choosing the practice of performing cultural beliefs despite contradictory observations over the practice of centering and converging on observable patterns in reality.

We will continue to do that for a long, long time. It's a natural consequence of being the sort of systems we are.

So anyway, as I say, remembering that helps me approach Enlightenment apostasy with compassion during periods where I start to fear it as the end of the world. And I find that helps.

Day 19 -- Iron Gates

Jun. 19th, 2017 09:50 pm
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[personal profile] skreeky

Today was a sailing day, with no actual stops to explore towns - just a day of relaxing and admiring the scenery. In the broadest sense of the name, the Iron Gates is the gorge lying between Serbia and Romania, which contains the Danube River. It is a national park on both sides. I will not waste too many words on the basic info you can read in Wikipedia except as it relates to various photos. (Feel free to click the various links for more info.)

Read more... )

Read more... )
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