Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

Hippo Pic_a_day

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
The Hippo was planning on taking a digital photography course so she could learn how to properly take digital pictures. E from work recommended a good instructor/class at CSM but they didnt offer this class at night. So she thought the next best thing was to get more practice. Imitating the Goose (as usual), she decided to take 1 photograph a day for the entire 2011. So, hold her accountable, but not while she's traveling because although she'd be taking tons of pictures during her vacation, it's not always easy to upload the images. She's planning on taking a picture during the course of the day and then preping and posting it before she goes to bed every night. That's 365 images! let's see if jquery.orbit can handle it. Mama Mia! So here Big Dog will close the year and start the new one. And what's next? A paragraph a day to finish off her books?

Btw, Goose, congrats! You've finished the year by completing the picture of the day!

Hippo Pic-a-day (mouse over the image to navigate)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

total lunar eclipse in winter solstice

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:57 PM 0 comments Links to this post
When I went out around 9PM, the moon was full and bright.Back out again around 11:16PM, it was crescent.Out again at 11:36, it was covered by clouds. Waited in the cold till the clouds parted, and the moon was orangee/red and I snapped a few photos. Wished my camera had a more powerful zoom! Not much but as you can see, it was reddish brown. at one point when the clouds moved on, moono was bright and looked perfectly round and reddish. what an awesome sight! It was located just to the left and up from three stars of equal brightness and evenly spaced, the Orion's belt? Suddenly the sky was clear for just a few seconds and I saw a real bright star where the 3 stars were pointed to, Sirius? gosh, wish Tomaso was here to tell me! Did you wake up to see it? Hope it wasnt snowing too bad in Paris! Oops, Paris is _not_ in the western hemisphere, you're right, my bad. Just about missed the prime meridian. Didnt realized it's the first total lunar eclipse in 450 years that coincided with the winter solstice. No wonder Powerpoint killed my hard drive today!

See the images: 1 2

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sunday, December 05, 2010

tree decorating

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 2 comments Links to this post
Hawling the 4ft pine solo up to the penthouse wasnt the big deal. The big deal was to find a suitable stand for it. After a couple of days, I've noticed the needles were losing their green but the fresh pine scent still filled the room. Every now and then when I walked by it, I could sniff it and pretend I was in some cabin out in the woods with snow falling. So I woke up on Sunday extra early, and stood on my feet for 3 hours and cooked a feast. First baking the chicken with chimichurri, then frying onion and garlic and browning the squash, zucchini and eggplant. then in went the different color peppers, then the tomatoes and thyme and a few bay leaves. Tossed up the romaine and poured in the caesar mix. It took enough courage to pop the prosecco cork and finally chilled mimosa, with a cup of tropicana little pulp that is. With sparkling wine in hand, the aroma of the Ratatouille hovered the room, an enormous pleasure to my olfactory sense. A rare treat. Then they came and consumed the meal, decorated the tree and each selected a tiny plush microbe, a special order from ThinkGeek.com. A Black Forrest cake was presented to T with a dark candle that says 'over the hill, too old to count'! He proclaimed surprised (really? not convinced!), and opened his bathday gift wrapped in robot papers. "What the heck is this?" It's a turtle light! That is, a sea turtle with a shell that glows in ocean blue, and illuminates with twilight constellation. since T loves astronomy and ocean, I thought this would be a great gift. I rather like one for myself actually. Then more gifts, a bottle of Castello Amorosa Fantasia, bracelets that glow in the dark and butt paste from J. then we watched the latest Darwin movie 'creation'. B, after a brief creation vs evolution debate, didnt want to stay and see the movie. that's how they are unfortunately. But the movie, although with an outstanding performance by Paul Bettany (albino in the DaVinci Code) , was quite boring. From the BBC, so one quite expected that. But it did explore the inner struggle of the scientist with his findings that didnt quite mesh with his ingrained belief, and that tore his conscience. The rain continued to pour outside and splashed on the skylight window while I did the clean-up, accompanied by Debussy. A lot of work for one day but way worth it.



Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

not interesting

Posted by Hippo Bean at 1:59 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Like someone in the office said "the parade was more interesting than the midterm elections." there were some close calls but overall no major surprises. CA remains very democratic despite some ex-CEO's throwing millions into their campaigns. I'm glad neither Whitman nor Fiorina won. One does not do what she preaches, whose bombardments of TV and radio ads just about made me vomite, and the other ruined one of the best companies in the world, sent our jobs overseas, and walked away with $22M severance pay, and now campaigns to ruin our state and who knows, perhaps our country and the world in the future. And so now we have a divided legislature or perhaps we should called it balance between the houses. It should be an spectacle to see how congress functions from now on.

texas = big, california = Giants

Posted by Hippo Bean at 12:03 PM 0 comments Links to this post
the office is very quiet today. all the boys went to the parade this morning. the traffic was bad, with everyone rushing to the city. the millbrae bart station was jammed with people, and caltrain said their trains wont even stop there to drop off people because the station was over crowded. guess the ones riding on caltrain this morning would have to walk from townsend to market for the parade. at least the weather is cooperating. SF is unusually warm today. the boys asked me yesterday if I wanted to go. baseball is not my sport and not being a fan of the Giants, it had never occured to me to celebrate their world series victory. but when the boys asked, i thought of the goose immediately. perhaps I use take my camera and just go to take pictures. if i was doing the one picture a day thing like him, i would certainly go. "how many times does the Giants win the world series? come on, let's go". but not being a fan of crowds either, and being lazy, i've decided against it. i AM glad the Giants won. but after 2 weeks of wearing orange, and the baseball fever, i'm also glad it would be over after today. E had already started posting the parade pictures on Facebook. just wondering what would the boys do now that there wont be a baseball game to watch tomorrow?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

surprise party

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:59 AM 0 comments Links to this post
Mama O's surprise birthday party was an enormous delight. From all people, she probably least expected me to be there. T truly has a wonderful family. Does he know that? I must keep reminding him of it. D's video was so funny, I cried laughing. In the old days, if you couldnt make the party, you phoned in. Today we skype and we all saw T's on the laptop monitor and were able to chat with her in real time. Gosh, I love this technology! The food at the Maggiano's was very delicious specially the sausage. During the slideshow of old photographs, I looked around the room to catch the family's reaction to memories, but ended up totally absorbed in the images (there was even one with the Hippo in it!). I've always enjoyed seeing old family photos and see how the family changed in the passage of time. Later L shared with us more old family pictures, another peek into the family's past. What a treat! And what a precious treat this trip has been!

See birthday party images

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

lamassu again!

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:51 PM 0 comments Links to this post
S from work asked me if I've had deep dish pizza in Chicago. I said no, I only had the famous Chicago beef. But now that I thought about it, I did have the pan pizza called 'garbage pizza' at Medici's. It was very cold and started to rain so T and I just ran into this restaurant on 57th, only a block from the University of Chicago. The 'garbage pizza' was good, filled with enormous pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, and very filling. Medici's was interesting in so far as it provided a student atmosphere, but otherwise, the food wasnt exceptionally good. Interesting paintings on the walls and decor, including a statue of a Medici Pope with his hands cut off, by the entrance, gargoyles in stained-glass windows, graffiti all over the tables, with names and song lyrics. I could imagine the upstairs outdoor patio being very refreshing during the summer. A good student hang out place. I've never paid much attention to the University of Chicago until T sent me photos of the lamassu. I didnt know the Oriental Institute had one. So this morning we took the Metra to the University. The train sped through neighborhoods of 1920's houses with small gardens and fences, resembling Brooklyn, just like in the movies. The campus was beautiful. Old vine covered buildings and tree lined streets made it looked like a very ancient institution that gave you a very east coast feeling. The atmosphere could rival Oxford. As we walked along, T pointed out different historical and new buildings and recounted his days on campus, and I imagined a younger version of T, laden with books, rushing from one hall to the next, pushing his glasses up his nose. When we finally got in to the Oriental Institute museum, I was impatient with the artifacts. I kept looking at the lamassu standing at the end of the gallery. There's only one, and I wondered where its twin ended up. Finally I've asked T if we could just ignore the rest and get to the lamassu first. This guy was enormously tall, the locks in its hair were braided and coiled at the side of its head, its bullsize body was meticulously carved and decorated. Its face was handsome. It's the third lamassu I've seen. This one was from Khorsabad, on the throneroom façade in the palace of the Assyrian king Sargon II (721-705 BCE) . The ones I've seen previously in the British Museum and the NY Met all faced forward and were from the palace of Ashurnasirpal at Nimrud, the original ones c 865 BCE. This one in the Oriental Institute was quite handsome. I found out later that its twin was in the Louvre. There were tons of other artifacts to browse but everything else seemed to pale in the lamassu's presence. Gosh, I love this dude! When we waited for the Metra at the train station to return to Palos Hills, the sky was overcast, the air temperature cold, and the worn down rail tracks, shady tree lined streets, ethnic food and people scents, it all reminded me of Croydon in southern London. There was a slight sensation of déjà vu, of a sad nostalgia, even though I've never been here before. Or perhaps I've always been here, in some imaginary lifetime.


Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chicago !

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
All week I've been nervously checking weatherunderground for the forecast, and wondering what kind of clothing I should bring. Anticipating fun, I nearly didnt get any sleep during the nights before the departure. Chicago! A city I knew I would see someday but not high on my list. But when the invitation finally arrived, I knew this would be the year to see T's hometown. The aerial view from the Southwest Boeing 737 showed glimpses of a big sprawled city, very green, underneath suspending snowy white clouds. The landing was rocky and even after touching down, the plane swayed from side to side. A bit of a scary moment. The tradewinds pushed us almost a half hour ahead of schedule and so when I called, T and T had just taken off. So I had a long moment to inhale the initial scents of the city, to feel its pleasant temperature, and to sample the sound and movements of the chicagoans arriving home. The 2-door grey Toyota Echo finally pulled up and T got out and with a bear hug I was officially welcomed to the windy city. Along Lakeshore drive, I set my eyes upon Lake Michigan, my second great lake. Like Superior, it's immense. The day was very fine and very pleasant. The water was blue and calm. Right next to the shore, stood the Buckingham fountain, over 100 years old, designed after the Versailles Bassin de Latone, with 4 sea horses, each representing a state bordering Lake Michigan, while the fountain symbolizes the lake itself. The wind blew sprays drenching us and displaying rainbows. Too bad we couldnt see it after dark where there's a water show with lights and music. The fountain was located in a wide open area in Grant Park, with spectacular unobstructed view of the Chicago famous skyline. The view of the downtown buildings was unimaginably spectacular. The Hippo felt free and happy. Then to the Millennium Park to see the Bean, a 110-ton elliptical sculpture, forged from polished stainless steel, which reflected the city's skyline and the clouds above. Next to the Bean, there's a fountain with videos that show faces of ordinary chicagoans. AFter that we walked down Michigan Ave where historical buildings, like the Wrigley chewing gun, that looked so thin and triangular, stood next to glass and steel structures. Next to the Chicago river, stood the neo-gothic Tribune Tower where the Chicago Tribune and WGN radio (I routinely watch WGN) were located. One of the places that was meaningful to me. The tower was made of limestone with butresses and gargoyles. Stuck on the façade and on the side walls, were rocks from different sites, the Trondheim Cathedral, Clementine Hall, the Parthenon, Hagia Sophia, Palace of Westminster, petrified wood from the Redwood National and State Parks, the Great Pyramid, The Alamo, Notre-Dame, Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb, Independence Hall, Fort Santiago, the Berlin Wall, and a moon rock (T said it's a fake) on loan from NASA, with labels with their location of origin. It was a most amazing and interesting idea, and I suggested to T that he should do the same being a geologist. Then we walked down a flight of stairs, and you realized you were walking on a street that was directly above another street! The Magnificent Mile was truly magnificent, lined with every designer shop you love. I had my first Chicago beef at Al's, a local joint which was busiest and most popular around 2AM! After experiencing the Chicago rush hour, we made it to Palos Hills, a nice green, quiet, tree filled suburb which what looked like a million dollar neigbourhood. T's brother's condo backyard faced the trees and one of the canals, and we sat there in the dusk twilight , drinking red wine, while L's dog Frankie ran around happily wagging his tail, chasing invisible rabbits. A nice way to wind down a long adventurous day in a place that was rapidly becoming one of my favorites.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

day 7 - From Eastern Sierra to home

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:50 PM 0 comments Links to this post
On our way back, we stopped at the Minarets and Devils Postpile by Mammoth Lakes, and had a roadside sandwich lunch in Mammoth. The town was still every bit as picturesque as I've remembered. We made a quick stop at the Yosemite Valley to see El Capitan and Half Dome. It's not as crowded as I've expected. Maybe because I've been there too many times. It just doesnt impressed me as much as before. The Yosemite falls were dry. The Merced was low, but I've never seen the Yosemite falls not 'falling'. In the early evening a clear crescent moon shooting Venus accompanied us all the way home. It was a soothing but melancholic company.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

day 6 - Jupiter !

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:59 PM 0 comments Links to this post
A woke up early with the boys. She sat out on the deck, wrapped in blankets and waited for Jupiter to position itself between the Keeler Needles. Cold and sleepiness were not in vain. A captured a perfect image of Jupiter setting between the Needles and it was posted on spaceweather.com the day after we returned home. Meanwhile the boys drove to Horsehoe Meadow and began their trek. In the morning the Hippo hiked up to the Lone Pine store to purchase a gift for P, the cabin owner. In the afternoon, the girls did their re-boot sessions on the deck. When the boys returned, they told us tales of the magnificent hike and the people they've encountered on the trail, including one guy who could barely see and could not make it up to the summit of Langley. Hippo listened with dreamy eyes.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thursday, September 09, 2010

day 5 - Tremors, the movie

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:00 PM 0 comments Links to this post
The boys were supposed to backpack to Mtn Langley. The girls were supposed to do the same to Cottonwood. And the Hippo who brought 2 books, was supposed to remain behind in the cabin and read and read and read and relax. The boys postponed their trip and the girls decided to scrap the whole thing. So we decided to do an early morning exploration of the Alabama Hills. From the outside, this area looks pretty ugly. Desolate. But when you walk among them, the rock shapes and colors were pretty striking, and resembled the Red Rock Canyon and The Valley of Fire. T kept reminding me Tremors was filmed here. And so were many other movies. We went to search for the Kali Temple in the Gunda Din movie which was filmed here. I didnt know there was an arch rock with one side that didnt even connect to the ground. Through it you can see Whitney and the Sierra crest. In the afternoon we walked up to Barth's #25 cabin, the Star Trek cabin. Once it belonged to George Putnam (engaged to Amelia Earhart). The Star Trek Generations movie used this cabin as Kirk's cabin. That evening T made us his famous Bull's Eye burgers, and the boys BBQ's us the huge out-of-this-world delicious burgers. It was early bed for us because the next morning the boys will do their Langley ascend.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

day 4 - up 2000ft

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:57 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Hiked up to Lone Pine Lake at 10,120. I wasnt in shape anymore but found the hike although tiring and trying, not that difficult. At every 20 steps or so up, I turned back to check out the Alabama Hills on the valley. The view was more spectacular the higher we went. Up on the blue lake, it was windy. We scampered around in the rocks and got a bit lost finding each other. The sudden panic of finding yourself all alone in the wild could be quite disheartening. How could I have lost faith? Then dark clouds began to loom on the west and we descended to the cabin. On our way back down the trail, we saw spectacular lenticular clouds on the eastern sky. We raced down the mountain ahead of what looked like stormy clouds. At the Lone Pine store, we ordered burgers as we're practically starving since we didnt have much of a breakfast nor lunch. Back in the cabin later that day, we witnessed a most spectacular cloud formation above Mt Whitney and the Keeler Needles. Because of the storm that blew in from the west, the sun rays refracted on the clouds produced rainbows that sat on the edges of the clouds. It was one of the most spectacular clouds I've ever had the pleasure to see. That evening we all sat in our preferred rocking sofas and simply read our books under our reading lights. It was a sweet silence, never before experienced, of a peaceful uneventful evening. No TV, no radio, no iPod, no internet, no cell phone, no music playing. Just silence, each immerged in the fantastic world of his/her book. Tom read the Far Side.


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

day 3 - cabin fever

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:59 PM 0 comments Links to this post
The morning was cold and breezy but I had a good night sleep thanks to the oxygen machine. We drove a bit down to Patriarch Grove to see the Bristlecone Pines. My first. Neat but not impressive. Down to town, it was hot. We roamed around in Mountain Light,Galen Rowell's gallery. A & T trying to find a print. Rowel's photographs of Patagonia, the Cuernos and the Torres, FitzRoy and guanacos reminded me of the land I love. We got some Dutch bread at Erick Schat's Bakery, and drove to Lone Pine. There we shopped for dinner material, and headed up Whitney Portal. The Shekelle cabin was rustic, comfortable, and with electricity and hot water, and an old fashion metal hearth. Windows on both sides, getting the morning sun as well as the afternoon heat, with superlative views of Mt Whitney. The Lone Pine campground was huge, and the private cabins were scattered on the hill side so there's enough privacy for each. We sat on the deck with chips and beer, admiring Whitney and the Keeler Needles. A faint traffic noise from the paved road was occasionally heard, otherwise, the silence was only broken by our chatting. That night we had candlelite dinner of cold chicken, salad and roast potatoes. At night it was total pitch dark and absolute silence. So unlike in my condo.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Monday, September 06, 2010

day 2 - 12,000ft Barcroft station and observatory and ready sick

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
The stretch from 120 to 395 going down towards Mono Lake was as spectacular as ever.The granite hills always reminded me of the Columbia Icefield Parkway in Alberta. The sheer granite mountain walls that curved down towards the valley as you drove winding down to them, the weeping walls, the big horn sheep on the road, glaciers racing down on one side and the Rockies on the other, there simply isnt any scenery that is more awestruck. The stretch above Mono Lake is a mini version of the more grandiose cousin in Canada. We had steak and eggs breakfast at Nicely's, just across from Mono Lake. After a brief visit to the visitor's center, we walked down to the lake to admire a tufa or two. Then we continued on 395 for more wonderful views of the eastern sierra, and stopped at Bishop for lunch and a bit of shopping. Nice town with good sporting shops. Then up we went to the White Mountains. The road ended at the Barcroft Station and Observatory at 12,000ft. Al was already there ready to greet us and oriented us to the dormitory and facilities. A cylindrical tin building was our home for that night. Very rustic inside. A big kitchen where Dori, the keeper, was already preparing dinner. Adjacent to the well stocked kitchen, was the mess hall where 1 or 2 researchers were stationed with their laptops. There was 1 bedroom for the astronomers and upstairs 2 more bedrooms for the researchers and students, a shared bathroom, a game/library room filled with books, pool and ping-pong tables. A TV room with some DVDs/video tapes and sofas. All this reminded me of the accommodations at the Gran San Bernard Hospice years ago with the Stanford group. I rather liked it. I thought being older and fuzzier, I would no longer tolerate communal living, but I was surprised to discover that the old adventurous spirit was still there, and I did not really mind not having much privacy. Al showed us his telescopes and we visited the pregnant sheep farm, research subjects for high altitude. We were all set for a night of awesome star gazing. Dinner was tri-tip, lamb, roast potatos, steamed brocolli and a great salad. I was feeling totally good until right after the heavy meal. Nausea and headache overtook me and I resolved to go to bed to sleep them off, fully intended to get up later that night to admire the stars in the pitch black night. But shortness of breath developed soon after I got into bed. I couldnt get up. Later that night, A and T hauled the oxygen machine up and hook me up on it. This machine was not an oxygen tank. It mixed pure oxygen with water vapor. I breathed that stuff all night and the killer headache was dissipated and I was able to breath normally all night long. I was thinking of all the brain cells I've lost up in that altitude and how the oxygen restored some of them. I was already not very bright. I couldnd afford to lose any brain cells! A was worried about me being alone in the game room, so she brought her sleeping bag and slept in the TV room next door to me to keep me company. One could not ask for a more caring soul. Thus I missed star gazing, but it's OK, it wasnt my highlight of the trip anyway. And as you all know, the Hippo is not really much for star observing.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Sunday, September 05, 2010

day 1 - 10,000ft and the beginning of altitude sickness

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:59 PM 0 comments Links to this post
As usual we started out quite late. When we drove through Tioga Pass, fond memories flooded back. Tuolumne Meadows, Tenaya Lake and Lembert Dome came into view. 2 years ago we had a fantastic time in this area. I was surrounded by dear friends, lousy jokes and hearty laughs. This time we camped at Saddlebag Lake at 10,000ft. Clear view of the mountains which glowed in the late sun. We ate left over rice and beans, chips and miso soup for dinner, accompanied by a roaring fire. The night was cold and the ponding piercing headache caused by the high elevation prevented me from sleep all night. My 3 season sleeping bag topped by a light blanket, alternatively heated me up and froze me to death. I've never camped in such altitude before and I was quite miserable. However, the morning brought relief with 400mg of gel caps ibuprofen and a clear view of the blue blue lake. We woke up with the smell of smoke. The valley and hills seemed to be shrouded in smoke, but not from the campfires. Later we've learned it was from the 2 fires in Sequoia park.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

no hippos

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:59 PM 0 comments Links to this post
There were no hippos but I already knew that. And there were no elephants because, they said, they were hard to keep. But what's a safari without hippos and elephants? And no lions or tigers either. "We have no man eating animals", the safari guide said. Great. But there is 1 female cheetah whom we saw chasing a bird, and 2 males cheetahs kept separately! She didnt like either one, we were told. We were at the Safari West by Santa Rosa for this year's company's offsite. It was a long day of a long ride up to Marine County for a sandwich lunch (again, we had sandwich for lunch the day before at the company's meeting). We did our team building events - weird games like holding up a pole with our fingers and lowering it, but it just kept moving up, even though none of us was trying to raise it, and making a silhouette of a giraffe with a long rope, blind folded. It was a massive confusion with no team cohesion. I could barely hear what's going on, let alone try to be part of the team. Then we ascended our jeeps for the safari tour. Everyone tried to get on the top seat for the best view. I've decided against it because of the heat and the sun. So started the opening and closing of gates, up and down the hill. The CA weather is too dry to be a safari. We saw impalas (by far my favorite animals in that place) and wildebeests but they were too far for any decent pictures. Too bad, I rather like impalas. Wildebeests I couldnt care less. When the Cape buffalos came, they crossed in front of our jeep, and the wildebeests receded their territory. Not unlike humans. When big power came, the weaker ones go. Then there were zebras. Nice stripes but only b&w. Was told they were very bad tempered animals. But today they looked tamed. The rhinos set dating with their butts towards us. A towering giraffe crossed in front of our jeep and I wished I had the top seat. I've noticed they were very elegant animals. Walked slowly and chewed politely. The birds cage was colorful but not too impressive but then the Hippo was never a 'bird' watching person. Monkeys I hate. Antelopes everywhere. Finally a chicken and steak BBQ with a quite good CA petite syrah to finish off the day. I was rather looking foward to this offsite since I've never been to a safari before. The Hippo is not really an animal lover. Only hippos, moose, manatees and leopards, and none of them belongs in a safari. Company's offsites were never really good but a day away from the office was a good opportunity to relax. This year's employee's gift was a picnic bag furnished with steel utensils, plastic plates and cups, cloth napkins and a picnic blanket with one side waterproof. Another generous gesture from the company. Gosh, I love working at AD.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Star Party

Posted by Hippo Bean at 2:00 AM 1 comments Links to this post
The biggest telescope I've seen was in the Alapacha Observatory in Huatajata in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, back in 1998. The telescope was a gift from NASA. It was a freezing night of southern star gazing at an altitude of 12,300ft. I remember the lecture and then the roof opened into a clear cold starry night. It was what I've told Tomaso when he asked me if I've ever looked through a giant telescope. But Al's telescope was bigger. 32" diameter, he polished the mirror himself. I've looked through the opening of the telescope and he told me not talk so I wont be spitting into the mirror! We were in Bonny Doon airport, just above Santa Cruz, and the night wasnt exactly cloudless but clear enough to see Saturn and its magnificent rings plus Titan, Venus and later Jupiter, both so bright they mercilessly almost blinded the Hippo's eyes. Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto were lined up. Mars was faint and tiny but still visible. Then Al turned the giant scope and we had to climb a ladder to look through the eyepiece. 'Dont touch the telescope' Al kept saying. With the slightest movement, it would throw the thing out of focus. The Ring Nebula, the Veil Nebula and the Lagoon Nebula were all blurred into one after a while. All I remember was what looked like pieces of glass with a light at the center. Mysterious. The DumbBell Nebula, which Hippo's dubbed the DingDong Bell was a blur. With naked eyes, we could see the Constellation of Scorpius with the Steaming Teapot on its tail (I say it doesnt look anywhere like a steaming teapot). The Milky Way was indeed very 'milky'. Mely pointed out the Northern Cross, a first for the Hippo. We even followed a few travelling satellites and a few shooting stars completed our Star Party. Joining us were a few other amateur astronomers with their homemade telescopes, and even 2 attached with photo cameras and laptops for digital images. We ate sushi under starry night. It was cold but the company of friends, astronomy lovers and the stars and planets (and even the satellites) warned us up.
Al and his gihugic telescope


Amateur telescope with photo camera


Earlier in the day we completed the Mission tour by re-visiting the now open and restored Mission San Miguel. When we visited it back in 2007, it was closed for renovation and we could only admire the dilapidated outside. The walls that surrounded the compound still looked like they're crumpling down, and I've wondered what exactly did they restored? But at least this time we could visit the chapel, the museum and the cemetery. On our way down, we again stopped at Soledad. Nothing changed there. We found a Basque restaurant in town on T's Android but it was closed. We ended up having nice burgers at the HonkyTonk with a very hospitable waitress. Too bad it was too early for the strippers. Nice place with good western flavor, but what is it doing in the town of San Miguel?

See pictures of Mission San Miguel

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

casaHippo

Posted by Hippo Bean at 10:41 AM 0 comments Links to this post
When the blasted doors came down and the new paint went up, the dining room was glorious. The brilliant white of the crown moulding and baseboards accentuated the pale mint green of the walls. I first came upon this color at a sandwich shop in downtown San Mateo. It formed a mental image of the dinning room I've wanted. It took 3 tries to finally settle on the sheer ivory curtains which length fell to just above the floor. Perfection. And after 2 weeks of searching every store and the internet, the china cabinet arrived, and I had a tough time carrying the 50 lbs package. I had to once again steal the dolly from work. But the assembly proved to be too much for me. After 4 hours of drilling, snapping and screwing nails, I finally put it up only to have the glass door come crashing down, luckily on the carpet. T had to come to help me finish the job. Now finally the souvenirs I've collected from all my years of travels had a home. It was another perfection in my book.


Waffle asked me if I could find a fridge that would fit in the kitchen. Course I did. And rather than spending 200 bucks more on stainless steel, I got a silver one that went well with the rest of the stainless steel in the kitchen, the oven, microwave and dishwasher. It was thrill shopping for all the dishes I had always wanted, to fill the more than enough cabinets in my kitchen. The cute Ona pitcher from Crate and Barrel, the Bodum original French Press, the Hamptons Green Dinnerware, the Edge wine glasses, the giant Swoop bowl for my noodles. Now my Norwegian pot holders featuring a Viking and his maiden from Oslo, decorate my granite counter top. The inherited stools from Target go well with the granite bar.
 

Strange that what I thought should be the last item to purchase was actually found before the other more pressing ones. The single recliner has exactly the same fabric and color as the loveseat. Even though it has a different design, nobody has yet noticed that. A multi culture display of a Menorah from Israel, the Lamasu cup from the Oriental Institute Museum in Chicago, the El Camino Bell from the California Missions, a Trojan helmet from Athens, a Celt wine barrel from Northern Wales, and a Tuscan water jar now adorn the fireplace mantel. The most difficult work was the light celery solid Thai silk curtains. Once I finally got the right size and length, they went up and they looked gorgeous hanging over the silver rods from Penney's. I dont think I've ever spent more money nor time on so unimportant a thing. But every day I look at my living room curtains and every day I know I've made the right choice. Last came the Way Basics eco-friendly zBoards, the cubes that need no screws to assemble. My best purchase because they came in green, and I got a set of double and a set of single Plus that are just enough for my books. The books that I cant live without. Once upon a time I started with 15 boxes of books. Gradually they were reduced to 10 and to 5 and finally to 2. My travel photo albums, my books on castles and cathedrals, the Greek Tragedies, the Iliad, the Odyssey and the Aeneid, The Tarnak, Archaeology, Anthropology, Online Learning, Flash & ActionScript, Photoshop, In-Design, CSS, and the few of my favorite fictions, Possession, The English Patient, Into Thin Air, The Quincunx. And last but not least, the right wicker basket to house my day blankets, Princess New England, Google and a throw from Peru. The living room is done and cozy.
 

 


She finally has a home! Now if she could only make the hvac noise disappear...

Views from the balcony
 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Quim

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:59 PM 1 comments Links to this post
There are times when the nostalgic past creeps up on you whether you'd like to reminded of it or not. Flipping absently through one of my thousands old photo albums in a hopeless attempt to sort them out, I came upon his pictures. It's been long years and I admit I dont even from time to time bring back those times. As our after supper routine in those few hot summer evenings in Algarve, we were in the Praia de Armação de Pêra, sitting at a small square weather beaten wooden table by the beach. Naice got up and went somewhere. J, toying with the cup of his half drunk bica, revealed to me his plan. "But it's a dangerous profession" I commented. "Not here" he said. I supposed someone with no higher education nor future prospect, applying for the academy would be an option to consider. A small quiet town like Lagoa with only so many inhabitants, a place where everyone knew everyone, being a policeman would only mean walking around and chatting with the neighbours all day. "And after the academy, I'd like to get married and start a family" J confessed more. I knew he liked a local girl but every time they went out, they would inadvertently run into people they knew, and the girl would end up hanging around with another guy. "Assim não dá!" J would say. He understood he's from a poor family and living in a small town everyone knew just how well off your family was. Must be a terrible burden to him. Social status mattered there. Looking at me in the eye, J said "If you live here I would spend my life with you". "Me?" I said rather shockingly. He must have taken it the wrong way because he said no more, and turned his head to face the immense of the ocean with hard sad eyes. I didnt mean it that way. In fact I rather liked J. He's very romantic. He's modest but confident and above all he's simple with no hidden agenda. In contrast Naice could be arrogant and condescending. They're friends and grew up not more than 500 meters from each other, but the town square that separated their abodes was the invisible divider that forever kept them at opposite ends of the social strata. Naice's parents owned a 3 story house while J's was a row house with curtains dividing the rooms. I looked at J's image captured in the glossy paper, and I wondered what life would have been like had I stayed and had a life with him. I no longer believed in fate. Our decisions could seal us in a destiny we created ourselves. Did I regret my inaction on that breezy evening by the Atlantic ocean? Honestly I dont know but his image would always stay in one of my photo albums, and when I flip through it and find him again in a later day, I would recall his sincere undemanding revelation, and might perhaps even some day come to regret my inability to requite his sentiment. But this much I know till the end of times - his friendship was a jewel I held briefly in my hand.

"Life is not measured by the number of breath we take, but the moments that take our breath away." - george carlin


Um facho de luz
Que a tudo seduz por aqui
Estrela brilhante reluz
Nesse instante sem fim
Um cheiro de amor
Espalhado no ar a me entorpecer
 

Quisera viesse do mar
E não de você

Um raio que inunda de brilho
Uma noite perdida
Um estado de coisas tão puras
Que move uma vida

Um verde profundo no olhar
A me endoidecer
Quisera estivesse no mar
E não em você

Porque seu coração é uma ilha
A centenas de milhas daqui

composição: Djavan Caetano Viana

Para ti
A rosa mais vermelha
A estrela mais brilhante
O trigo ondulante
E da aurora a primeira centelha
Para ti
A imensidade do ceu
O que tenho mais de meu
Para ti
O meu amor
Para ti
A prece mais sentida
Para ti
A minha vida

(fragments only) by J Jacinto

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

a 13 de Maio, na cova de Iria ...

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:01 AM 0 comments Links to this post
o ceu aparece a virgin maria .... ave ave ave maria ...

awful song we had to sing when we were kids, back in the fantastic old colonial days ...

Today is the day the virgin mary appeared to 3 little shepherds at Fatima. My sister who was born in this month, was named after the virgin at Fatima. although the aparition might not have happened afterall, what those 3 little sheperds said about what the virgin told them about the world and all the predictions (yup end of the world stuff again) which sparkled a series of mysterious letters that the Vatican 'claims' to have stored in its deepest safes, were indeed quite interesting. The last letter was already revealed and open to the public, but did it really reveal all that the letter said? for those who loves mysteries and conspiracies (like the Hippo), this stuff can suck you right in ... hm, Dan Brown should take up this story ...

The Portuguese are very, very, I mean, VERY religious. By religious, it means roman catholic. And Fatima is an awesome site to visit (OMG, look at all those stalls selling religious stuff!!!! look at all that shopping). Anyone who's been there didnt buy a rosary? I have a gihugic one that I use to hang right above my bed in my bedroom (you guys have seen it remember?). and I even had a priest (father xavier, no kiddin) bless it. imagine that!

Fatima It's more touristy than anything now but you can still see pilgrims 'walking' on their knees (some with pads, some without), burning candles and praying. The Hippo grew up with this kinda of stuff (hey, my Mom still burns candle every month on the 13th) but I'm glad I've outgrown them. But looking back, it was fun, because it gave you a sense of belonging to a big family of all those who believe and do the 'catholic' things, and now I simply feel sorry for these people. But if believing helps them, then be it.

where exactly is the cove of Iria anyway? I dont think I've ever actually been there ...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

on steel railroads

Posted by Hippo Bean at 1:27 PM 1 comments Links to this post
Oh, the joys of riding public transport! Gives you a feeling you're living in the great metropolis. And the sound of the train wheels rolling on ancient tracks! I havent ridden on a train for so long. Although this morning was only for a 2 stations ride, it brought back the old sentiment. I reminisced my old life when I had to wake at 5AM, drive down to the Sunnyvale station and ride for over an hour to get to work in the city. The top floors on the caltrains are single seaters. The windows were dirty and foggy which only made the outside world as it went by more romantic . I remember hating waking before the sun rose for the long commute but loving the solitary ride. Just love to ride and let the world outside present itself, and the sound of the wheels gliding on the steel tracks. And oh, the subway trains in NYC, London, Boston, and lastly in Santiago. Watching the locals go about their daily lives, the expressions on their faces, and the things they carried. But the premium one was the overnight from Budapest to Bucharest. Now that's ancient tracks, noisy, rocky and full of European flavor. This is the season for reminiscence. I drove down to Cupertino the other day and saw how the City Center changed. Once upon a time, I went in and out of that place daily and now the 2 buildings are obscured by a hotel complex. But the view of the far away hills looked more beautiful than ever. Oh, how I miss the view of mountains! The Sunnyvale Town and Country now has new apartment buildings with shops below, and the Target is enormous, even with its own garage. Hippo, welcome back to the south bay!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stuck in Santiago

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
The LanChile flight we were put on didnt exist. We spent an entire morning talking to American Airlines and finally got rescheduled for the 9th. With that much time in Santiago we decided to move to a local hotel, the Españoles, just a few blocks from the Sheraton. The area was nice and close to everything, so the 3 star locally owned hotel was ideal. The rooms were good size and clean and the staff friendly, with free local calls and internet. I spotted some available seats on a flight for the 7th, so we went to the AA office to change our flight. The AA office was actually close to Plaza de Armas, on a pedestrian only street. We took the metro back and it was easy, fast and fun. The Hippo always liked metros. So we're stuck in Santiago, a city I did not like much. No character. No major attractions. It's hot and smoggy. But the food is actually quite cheap and the people very polite and willing to help. We metro'd to the handicraft center at Domenico and bought some more lapis. We went to the park with the statue of Virgin Mary on top and took the funicular down. Then we spent the afternoon at the biggest mall in South America, the Parque Arauco. This place was so enormous it's mind boggling. Taxi is cheap here. Across from the hotel, there's a park along the Mapocho river, with exercise machines. The caminador eliptico, aparato para elongacion de cintura and aparato para desarrollo muscular de hombros y brazos, were all there to use for free. Nice place. I wanted to spend a day trek at the base of Aconcagua but again got voted down. 12 years ago I was here and met with S and spent a day doing absolutely nothing. This time around I was still bored. Santiago just didnt do anything for me. I would have been happier if stuck someplace else like BsAs. Somehow Chile means bad news for the Hippo. The first time I was in Chile, I was stuck in Paine. I wont be back to this city except in transit. But I still like to explore Atacama and the Lake district some time.

Reflections of the Catedral at Plaza de Armas


Santiago

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Chaos onboard - Valparaiso

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Chaos in the ship. Long lines at the service desk, outside phone lines were cut and lines waiting to use the internet. All flights at Santiago were cancelled. The Star Princess will stay in Valparaiso to act as a hotel for those stranded. We booked at the Sheraton in Santiago. We were rescheduled to flight out on LanChile on the 4th. Amidst the chaos, with no help from the ship service desk and our Santiago tour cancelled, therefore no transport to the city, we called the Sheraton to arrange for a car to pick us up at the Valparaiso port. More confusion at disembarkation. We were 1 hr late getting off the boat but the guy with the van was there to meet us at the port. We went for a short tour of Valparaiso and the sister city Viña del Mar. What I remember of this place was hazy. Just narrow streets up to Neruda's house on the hill, a seaside restaurant for lunch and the deserted beach in an overcast day. Today though it was warm and sunny. Viña had many new seaside apartments and we stopped at the Fonck museum with the Moai (remember these guys?) in front. Halfway to Santiago we stopped for a Chilean empanada. No good at all! I much prefer the Argentinian ones which are tastier and flaky. The highway into Santiago proper had some damage and at one point the highway was actually cracked and we had to slow down to cross it. The Sheraton was major crowds and chaos. Every internet station was filled. There were huge cracks on the walls, ceilings and floors. Only 1 elevator was working. Everything that was glass was broken. The rooms were small but we were on the 6th floor which offered a spectacular view of the city and the Andean mountains. Our room table had no top and we saw pieces of glass on the carpet. The hotel restaurant and breakfast staff was a shame. For a 4 star hotel, one needed to get your own coffee and if you need a waiter, none ever came! But the hotel had a nice outdoor area with a good size pool. 15 minutes of walk from the hotel brought us to Av Providencia with shops and restaurants. We ate at a Peruvian restaurant with very cheap but excellent arroz con mariscos. They even had Inca cola! The entire meal cost us only $50. And a very good service from the only waiter there. Thus the cruise ended although not on a very good note.

Valparaiso with Star Princess at Port


Moai at the Fonck Museum

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

sun again - Puerto Montt

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
After so many days at sea and the cold and the rain and the wind, we finally made it to Puerto Montt in a beautiful sunny warm day. Our first after leaving Montevideo. The earthquake of the century happened while we're at sea and we even missed the tsunami. But Santiago airport was closed so we didnt know if we could catch our flight home or not. For a while we slowly sailed at 10 knots unsure if we should continue our course or turn back south. Finally the captain announced that we would continue as scheduled. Last night we had the Captain's Circle Cocktail party and we were all dressed up, and I took the chance to get a photo with the young, handsome and out-spoken Brit. Nice dude! We had a nice lobster and prawns dinner followed by a chocolate pudding. Yum yum! This morning M went to see Puerto Varas, volcán Orsono, lago Llanquihue and the saltos at Petrohue, while M&P went to see the German town at Frutillar. Meanwhile the Hippo painted town since I've already been to all those places. I remember the lapis in Puerto Varas, the breathtaking Orsono with the lenticular cloud forever covering its top, the immense and serene Llanquihue and the pretty falls at Petrohue, where I've spent 2 days being eaten by hungry mosquitoes. I've enjoyed my Sunday morning walk in Puerto Montt, not many people out and all stores closed, and I made it as far as the main square with the pretty church. At the other end of the pier, past the craft market filled with alpaca goods, there's the Angelmo Seafood market with loads of gigantic fish and cheese. The fishermen were pulling in their colorful skiffs and they reminded me of the Portuguese fishermen. The day was sunny and warm. So nice! Puerto Montt, pretty town with volcán Calbucco in the background. I had wanted to spend the day in the Chiloe Island, so nearby, but all the tours were cancelled. Goose and Tomaso back home expressed concern about the tsunami and the Star Princess. Goose pointed out the Star Princess sailed out of BsAs to the Falklands without proper authorization and warned to stay away from where the Hippo was heading next "until
things settle down, just so as not to get caught up in any insurrection,
meteorite strike, funnel cloud activity or plague of locusts that may
happen to spring up spontaneously wherever she's headed next.. " Nice friends!!!

Puerto Montt


Fishing boats at the Angelmo

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beagle Channel

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
It's 10PM and we're still docked at Ushuaia. Due to gusty winds Beaufort Force 9 pinning the ship onto the berth, we could not leave the dock and sail. At this late hour we'd not reach Punta Arenas on time and so the captain decided to skip that port. Instead we cruised slowly through the Beagle Channel and had scenic views of its famous glaciers. The parade of glaciers started with the Italia, then the Francia, the Alemania, and in the afternoon the Romanche which receded quite a bit and the lower portions turned into waterfalls. After passing by the Espana glacier, the Star Princess moved into the Cockburn Channel en route for the Magellan Straits. The following morning, the 26th, we entered the Magellan Strait, the southern Patagonia region, and caught the biggest glacier yet, the Amalia. We stopped in front of the massive glacier for an entire hour where the handsome Captain Edward Perrin swung the vessel bow to port to give a view of the glacier on both sides. All the time I was admiring Amalia, without knowing it is actually in the Bernard O'Higgins National Park, where years ago I had such a terrible experience. After our feast of Amalia, we slowly crossed the Amalia Sound into the Pacific passing through the Pitt Channel, Andres Channel and through a segment of the Conception Channel as the vessel exited to the Gulf of Trinidad. In the early morning we entered the sheltered waters of the Gulf of Corcovado and turned north through the Gulf of Ancud, en route to the Chilean Lake district, and the scenery was very spectacular, much resembled the Lofoten on the Norwegian coast. I didnt much care for Punta Arenas. Been there and had bad memories of my first trip to Patagonia. But we missed the tour to see the Magellanic penguins. Good thing I at least got to see the Kings which are much more impressive than the little just b&w penguins. Besides I had this enormous Antarctic cold and was very sick. I really looked forward to another port though, to get on land again as I'm getting really tired of the rock and rolling of the ship. But tomorrow is another day at sea.

Video of Beagle Channel [6.7M]


Video of Amalia Glacier [2.2M]


The Beagle Channel


Amalia Glacier


Pengi with Amalia Glacier

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fin del Mundo - Ushuaia

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
In the early morning we entered the Beagle Channel and docked at Ushuaia, the southernmost city, in Tierra del Fuego, el fin del mundo. Here is where the pan american highway that started in Alaska, ends. The city was very pretty with lots of shops and surrounded by the end of the Andes, running from East to West, facing the sea, very picturesque. We took the scenic Mountain tour on pan-american highway route 3, to see the end of the Andes. Although the Andes arent very tall, they are very beautiful. My favorite mountain range. Neither the Alps nor the Rockies tug my heart as the Andes do. About 12 years ago I made it as far south as Puerto Natales in Chile to catch a ride to the Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Today I am even further south. Ushuaia had always been on my mind and now that I am here, I like the city very much. I've decided to buy myself a penguin to keep Tux company. I hope he likes tofu!

Ushuaia


The end of the Andes


Video of Ushuaia [12.2M]


Video of the end of the Andes [3.7M]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

55°4.2'S    63°54.4' W

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
The wind picked up to 60 knots and the ship slowed to 14. All open decks and pools were closed. We're now at 55° 4.2' S and 63° 54.4' W with southerly Beaufort Force 10 wind and a temperature of 5.5°C. The southernmost I've ever been. On top of my enormous Antarctic cold, runny nose and cough, I felt seasick. All night and morning the ship pitched and rolled, all closet hangers rattled and hit each other while the ship rocked. Most annoying. Finally the wind died down somewhat to a 45 knots and the ship was able to pick up speed. Cruising at 18 knots we reached CapeHorn, the southernmost tip of Tierra del Fuego, the end of the American continent where the Atlantic met the Pacific, at 19:00. With barely enough sunlight left we cruised the scenic rock which belonged to Chile. The vessel sailed slowly past the Cape then did a 180 so both sides could admire the rock. Could not spot the Chilean flag, nor the chapel, not the albatross sculpture on the island. Not very impressive. Disapponted. At least all was calm while we're here. Drake got blown off course many times before rounding the cape. But Schouten must have been impressed.

Cape Horn


Video of Cape Horn [2.3M]

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

King Penguins - East Falkland Islands

Posted by Hippo Bean at 11:49 PM 0 comments Links to this post
The road passed by cascades of rock dating to glacial times and went from paved to gravel when we entered the privately owned farms, and the opening and closing of pasture gates began. We set out in 7 4X4 LandRovers. The road disappeared when we entered the Johnson Habour Farm, a 36,000-acre sheep farm owned by Smith Brothers. Now the terrain was boggy heath, bumpy, wet and muddy. Soon our 4x4 was splashing mud and covered completely with the brown stuff. I hope the King Penguins are worth the trouble. An hour of bumping in the totally prestine farm, where occasionally we needed to cross gullies using wooden planks as bridges, we reached Volunteer Point in pouring rain and gusty winds. After 2 days at sea with not much to do and getting an Antarctic cold, I was glad to stand on solid ground again. I've never paid much attention to the Falkland Islands. They were just the Malvinas to me when I saw the war memorial in BsAs 10 years ago. It was the bloody war that brought the islands to the world's attention. The first site of it was flat and the landscape resembled much like Iceland with grass and small rolling hills. 2 beautiful bright sunny days at sea and now that we reached our destination, suddenly the clouds rolled in and rain started. So I stepped out of the 4x4 totally covered from head to toe and headed towards the penguin colony. They were the Kings and stood about 3ft tall. Totally unafraid of humans, they walked everywhere sporting their yellow beaks and matching orange spot on the side of their heads, and a patch of orange and yellow on their muscular chests. They were gorgeous. And there were so many of them. Some walked alone and some were in pairs, even with their eh, flippers linked. Trying to stand near a pair for a photograph and they side stepped away from me but with no fuzz. Wonderful, non-aggressive, gentle birds. Scattered among the Kings, the Magellanic little cousins lived in their own humble burrows. Although same kind and neighbours, they didnt mix. Further along, in their own colony, the Gentoo cousins wiggled in their signature tuxedos, woggling along in their matching orange beaks and feet. Wow, I walked among them and they had the right of way! I've never liked penguins until I saw the Kings and Gentoos. On our way back, after another hour of bumping and mud where 3 of the 4X4 got stuck in the mud and had to be pulled free by others, we had a chance to see some sheep shearing in the Johnson Farm. Aside from eating them, I didnt much care for them as animals but there were so many and all so plump and so ready to shed their precious wool. Loud Rock was playing and the shearer pulled a sheep out, sheared their wool off and pushed them back in the stall. For the short 15 minutes we were there, more than 5 sheep got their wool off. These guys are fast! A woman kept pushing the sheep out and poor things, they just got jammed into each other waiting to get rid of their winter coat. Muddy and wet, our driver gave us a short drive through Stanley, which had pretty brightly painted houses with small gardens and the streets reminded me of England. Very British here. The sun finally peaked out when we boarded the tender back to the ship. I quite liked Stanley and the Falkland Islands. We have 400 nautical miles to go to reach CapeHorn tomorrow afternoon. Weather forecast was chilly and windy and the sea quite rough with a swelling way over 4ft. But I was looking forward to the southernmost tip of the American Continent, where the Atlantic meets the Pacific.

Video of King penguins at Volunteer Point, East Falkland Islands [12.2M]


King penguins


Christ Church, Stanley, East Falkland Islands


Colorful houses, Stanley


Video of Shearing at Johnson Habour Farm [6.2M]



Video of Sheep at Johnson Habour Farm [10.7M]
 

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