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November 1, 2016

Between HONK! and Halloween, this month was mostly music, and some art.

The 7th has a close up of a baritone player's cigarette (the player is French, of course), 24th has me trying to master a hula hoop, and the 28th is a cat that has grown use to like one trombone but 12 at once is just too much. Also the Jack-O-Lanterns I helped with near the end; I like the tiny face and just inscribing the word "Pumpkin"
"Seeing someone reading a book you love is seeing a book recommending a person"

November 2, 2016

October 2016 New Music Playlist Interesting month for music. A lot of rips I made myself and a fair amount of religious-y stuff. Here in reverse chronological order, 4 star stuff in red.
  • Talk To Me (Run The Jewels) Man are the guys intense. Impressed how Adult Swim is releasing this stuff.
  • Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah) (White Denim) Nice R+B tip.
  • Puma (Andrew Bird). This was on Public Radio; light pop feel to a serious subject, when you have to be isolated because of thyroid surgery stuff...
  • GRAB'm by the PU$$Y ( ft and Liane V) Best election season song. So funny when they break the structure of the song to have Black Trump talks over his opponent.
  • A Cimma (La Fanfare Invisible) I made my own mp3 from this video, of this band from Paris I marched with HONK! weekend - a few days earlier at a joint parade we stopped at a funeral, and they played this song. It has such big emotion for me, the seen of the new widow dancing with a relative on their porch... this song complements it perfectly.
  • Waiting for My Real Life to Begin (Colin Hay) Another deep song, from "Scrubs"
  • Whirled Beat (WashingMachineDrummerKid) Another mp3 I made - kids got rhythm! I just love the sound of it.
  • Right On (feat. Ms. Charm Taylor) (Galactic) More great funk.
  • One Step Beyond (Madness) Someone propose JP Honk cover this. Took me a while to reassure myself the it's "The Nutsiest Sound Around" and not the "Nazi-est"
  • Raw (San Holo) Also had to look lyrics up, I guess it's "We Can Feel Us". Not sure if it's meant to sound like "We Can Feel Loss" as well.
  • Todo Mi Vida (Pueblo Cafe) More latino hiphop from the end of "Silicon Valley". With tuba!
  • Wolverine: Adamantium Rage Boss 2 Tri-Fusion A friend said this predates a certain musical genre. The version I ripped from youtube much better than the "8 bit arcade" version I paid for.
  • A cimma (Fabrizio De Andrè) The original of that song I mentioned above. This page translates and explains it.
  • Prince Ali (Nick Santa Maria and The Ensemble of Aladdin). Realized I wanted this song, it's fun to sing. Bummed this version says it "swords" and not "swo-ords"
  • Carioca (Jonathan & Darlene Edwards) A kind of parody song used for the credits for "Kentucky Fried Movie". Love the "It has a met-- it has a meter that is tricky"
  • Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho (Mahalia Jackson) Thinking about suggesting this for my honk band.
  • Hallelujah (John Cale) Got this version from scrubs but I guess some people know it from Shrek.
  • They'll Know We Are Christians (Star Lake Music Camp) I had this version on a tape, from Salvation Army's Star Lake Music Camp 1991 - I lost the tape but my friend Eric Dinah had a copy he ripped for me. The minimalist beat and piano has always stuck with me, and I think it's an excellent aspiration for Christians.

November 3, 2016

All The Dumb Sh!t Trump Has Done As Nominee In One Mega-List. Cracked does this so well. All Trump has had to do is not behave like a toddler for the weeks after the election, and one set of FBI assholery puts him in spitting distance. What a country.
"The one thing most Americans can agree on is that a large portion of the population seems to be trying to destroy the country. We just can't agree on which portion it is."
--Scott Meyer (of Basic Instructions)

November 4, 2016

Wheels sigh with longing for the horizon.
Hunger moans in the spoon's hollow belly.
Tools recount the needs from which they arose
and so comprise a history of human desire.

The match recalls fear in the fireless night,
the saw's oiled teeth plead for perfect order,
the pen cannot imagine life without ink.

Even that technology employed by the soul
in its perilous escape from the prison of the body
is exhibited here, in these letters, in words.
--Campbell McGrath, "Tools", in The Atlantic


Odd Dream bit, Richard Feynman was a band leader at some kind of street festival. He was showing off some topological principle by a surprisingly sparse net that was keeping a bunch of foam balls around his body. (Not unlike one of the Fruit of the Loom "grapes" guy, not that that had much to do with the dream) The soloist was Kurt Vonnegut on Clarinet. (I think my subconscious may have been oddly merging Woody Allen's side instrument with R. Crumb's musical look and feel.)
"Don't take life so serious, son, it ain't nohow permanent."
--Walt Kelly's "Pogo".
Not to underplay the importance of presidential election, especially viz a viz the supreme court and also the message about, well, anyone who ain't a straight white male, but I think people are forgetting our ability to muddle through. (That said, I'm finding a weird comfort in having ordered "Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction"... )

November 5, 2016

"The best break anybody ever gets is in bein' alive in the first place. An' you don't unnerstan' what a perfect deal it is until you realizes that you ain't gone be stuck with it forever, either."
--Porky Pine, in Walt Kelly's "Pogo".

November 6, 2016

Blender of Love

Interesting summary of the Brexit situation.

November 7, 2016

My folks in their Salvation Army Officer uniforms, I'm guessing in Salamanca the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Best part may be how you can see my dad's tie is a clip-on. Also his glasses may be, remarkably, more expansive than my own.
Jeezie Petes why are Clinton and Trump being interviewed on Monday Night Football? So much for escapism.

November 8, 2016

"triscuits are what i imagine the inside of a scarecrow tastes like"
"buddy I can't even kill one bird with like 8 stones"
Sure it's too late (by about 6 months, it feels like) to change any minds, but here is a high level summary of 45 years of Republican persecution of Hillary Clinton.

Well at least Trump's handlers were able to keep him off Twitter for a few weeks, so maybe there'd be hope, depending on who his Cheney would be.

Jeezie Petes, what a farce.

Talking with some of my less slathering pro-Trump and/or anti-Hillary friends; there's a lot of listening to be done.

Tennessee Williams once wrote, "We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it." In a certain sense, the playwright was correct. Yes, but oh! What a view from that upstairs window! What Tennessee failed to mention was that if we look out of that window with an itchy curiosity and a passionate eye; with a generous spirit and a capacity for delight; and, yes, the language with which to support and enrich the things we see, then it DOESN'T MATTER that the house is burning down around us. It doesn't matter. Let the motherfucker blaze!
--Tom Robbins

dear cora

November 9, 2016
I've been writing my superniece Cora every time after we visit. I write in a little private online site, and then print them up annually-ish, and will give them to her when she's in her teens... 15 or 16 maybe? Old enough to be thoughtful, young enough that her course isn't set. They chart her development (as I've become more of a personal archivist, sometimes I wish I had a similar history for me- though my moms saving and then binding like EVERY school and church related paper she had saved from preschool through some of college comes very close), let me pontificate a bit, and feel a little self important where someone in the next generation might be interested in me if I write well enough.

In general I'll keep them private, of course, but tonight I felt like sharing.

November 8 2016

Dear Cora,

Hello from a weird time!

It's election night 2016.

Right now it could go either way, closer than expected. Probably won't go well.

If it goes for Trump- I dunno. It won't be great - it's such a bad message, about human rights, about who we are, about how a guy who just doesn't want to learn anything and is so full of himself can take the presidency, about how we have to wait for a first female president. But life will be ok, and I'm sad because so many of my friends have forgotten that. It has been such a rough campaign, really brutal. Trump has done and said so many ugly things. The other side really thinks Hillary is corrupt, but that's not fundamentally true; she's just a connected politician who has been the target of 40 years of Republican attacks. But overall, we'll get through. It'll be easier for me and my demographic, white, straight, reasonably comfortable, christian background; for gay people and people of color and moslems, they're not going to feel as welcome. Maybe things will happen to some of them (the supreme court will be borked up, and things for abortion rights are definitely under threat) or maybe not, but some of the worst of it is that the guy who might be winning did so in part saying it's ok to say the country should be white and facts are optional; his fans say we're the greatest nation on Earth and get mad if you decide to bow out during the National Anthem but then say "make America Great Again", like it's not.

I guess I gotta hope many of the liberal fears are overblown, but even that's kind of a bad sign, like how we just amp everything up and and demonize both sides.

I know your Mamas are wary of the legal status of families like yours. At a minimum I think Massachusetts will be ok, besides being a leader in gay marriage, and there being at least some push towards "state rights" in these things by conservatives. Other states might make harder time, but despite setbacks, the path is in the right direction about LGTBQ, and will keep going that way as older more conservative generations die out.

But I'm writing you now, on a night when I'm kind of scared. On top of everything my sweetie Melissa and I are going to Malaysia tomorrow for 2 weeks vacation... I was joking that it was to celebrate or flee the election, but I really wasn't expecting the latter. Should be an amazing trip anyway. Also I'm switching jobs, always a bit of a stressful thing even when all the signs look promising.

But I want you to know that things tend to work out ok - we get so scared, we think about things being somewhat worse than they are now and it just freaks us out. Some things we're just helpless to help, and we need to learn to accept those, but we can then take solace in how we can endure. Dreading is worse than living through.

A good quote:

"Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. Nothing is that important."
--Natalie Goldberg

Lately I've been thinking about stress and anxiety; is it always bad? Does it get me to make wiser choices and work harder? Can I just be smart and calm and choose to do what I know is right? It's a toughie.

It's funny writing to you. I tell you stuff I don't know if I'd be ready to really grasp as a teenager myself. Of course maybe I'd think I was ready for it as a teen... and maybe I'd be right? Or not. I dunno. Sometimes I underestimate my teen self. Sometimes I feel like I've recently figured some stuff out, made great progress in thinking and feeling as a grownup, other times I worry I worked some stuff out before, like maybe in my 20s, and forgot about it. Sometimes I wish I was writing to you as a fellow forty year old! But by then, any advantage I can give you might've passed.

Ugh. So much trouble focusing this night. I've reread what I've written so far like five times. (Hanging with Melissa, watching random tv shows on "hulu", periodically look at news websites)

Alright. Anyway, had a nice afternoon with you and your Mamas last Saturday. Played blocks, made a stuffed snake and a turtle box from a monthly kit called "Koala Crate", had spaghetti and meatballs, did some fun tumblers and horsie rides- especially you and your Mama C. You're getting a little sassy here and there, talking back to teachers a bit (not entirely in a bad way), and after the end of Daylight Savings Time took an hour of light from our nights your Mama K posted: "mama the sun is asleep.It's not bedtime. WAKE UP SUN!" This should be an interesting season.

Your Mama K also posted this photo, and said This might be my favorite picture ever. Supergirl power pose. Fierce Cora.

Uncle Kirk

PS Quote I've been liking lately (pardon the cussing)

Tennessee Williams once wrote, "We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it." In a certain sense, the playwright was correct. Yes, but oh! What a view from that upstairs window! What Tennessee failed to mention was that if we look out of that window with an itchy curiosity and a passionate eye; with a generous spirit and a capacity for delight; and, yes, the language with which to support and enrich the things we see, then it DOESN'T MATTER that the house is burning down around us. It doesn't matter. Let the motherfucker blaze!
--Tom Robbins

"If this is the country that elected Donald Trump, it is still also the country that elected Obama."
Wait But Why's It's Going to be OK This is pretty good. I've been engaging with some trusted conservative friends, about the potential they see in Trump, and while there is a buttload to despise about him and what he says and what groups he's not rejected the support of and his lack of experience, our view of him has been bent to almost the same degree as us liberals and moderates think the view of Hillary has. I don't think he has great action plans for fixing what ails the rural / post-manufacturing areas, but he's making them a part of the conversation in a way they often aren't. Anyway, this article was the second best thing I've had to those conversations.

I'm really tired of the us and them of it all. We've made such villains of each other.

November 10, 2016

Vision: Humans are odd. They think order and chaos are somehow opposites and try to control what won't be. But there is grace in their failings. I think you missed that.
Ultron: They're doomed!
Vision: Yes... but a thing isn't beautiful because it lasts. It is a privilege to be among them.
--"Age of Ultron". International flights with tons of movies to choose from allow for some nice little indulgences...

malaysia 2016: doha airport and kl

November 11, 2016
Doha, Qatar International Airport. Signage in Arabic is novel. (Grateful English is the default second language)
Interesting playground.
Moving signage. Melissa pointed out it's not exactly an *inviting* image, at least if you don't like the heat.
Lamp merged with Teddy Bear?
Hydration is important.
Oh good lord. One of the first places we see at the KL airport.
At least the KL Dunkies had some localization.'Til we got in the cab I forgot the Malaysia is "drive on left"
'Til we got in the cab I forgot the Malaysia is "drive on left"
Plantations of Palm Oil Trees, a major export. Though frankly at this point things were looking suspiciously Florida like.
Toll booth. Caught my eye that "Mex" means something different here.
Elevator at my cousin's place - they live thirty floors up. Ken pointed out all the floor ending with 4 get called "lowerfloor A" - "24" is "23A", because the Chinese word for 4 sounds like the word for death. Combine with the Anglo "fear of 13" and at one point you have the sequence "11, 12, 12A, 13A, 15".
The view from my cousin's apartment is amazing. Most prominent building is KL Tower. They have a festival including BASE jumping from that.
They do love their scooters and motorcycles...
KL is not a great "walking" city - everyone drives! Gas is cheap and the national banking system encourages people to buy the local car brands Perodua and Proton. Besides having to watch out for daredevil scooters, walkways are often a bit broken and uneven.
Tree embraced (strangled?) with other tree.
Petronas Towers "the tallest buildings in the world from 1998 to 2004 and remain the tallest twin towers in the world" - my aha moment was realizing they were the inspiration for the video game "Just Cause 2"'s Panau Falls Casino:
Quick intense rain shower happened then, so people are used to ducking out of the rain and waiting it out.
Inside the Petronas Towers there is a mall, interesting architecture inside.
I was almost hesitant to post this, I don't want it to be "ha ha, weird asians" - squat toilets make a lot of sense biologically (at least according to the unicorn in those squatty potty ads) and this is just a bit of culture clash where a person used to this might suffer because Westerners like to plop down.
Malay is an interesting trade language, a blend of multiple influences colonial and otherwise, but mercifully with latin letters. Sometimes they correct weird spellings or English, or sometimes the spelling reflects local pronounciation, ala "Restoran"
I think these lanterns are going to be in my second of the day
More Malay - it's not a cab, it's a "Teksi"
Colorful streets
Innuendo intended, I assume.
Kitty. There are a number of feral cats around, but they seem to be taken care of usually.
Ended the night with a nice meal with my cousins Ken and Mary at "Opium"; they server Tiger Beer in this kind of mini-jug with a bowl to drink it from.

Weird happenings in Arlington - Accused FBI Impersonator Tried to Enter Arlington Home - my housemate reports seeing a news van right outside our house.

malaysia 2016: kuala lumpur, markets and temples

November 12, 2016
Saturday we headed out with Mary. There's a nearby nature reserve, and you see the KL Tower in the background.
Stock Exchange building.
On the way to KL Chinatown
Petaling Street market - tons of little vendors and some great bootleg stuff
Heading to China Town
Wanna buy a Christmas Tree?
This alleyway feeling space had lots of meat and fish vendors
Later I doubled back for more photos from the fish alley at the Petaling Street Market
The Sri Mahamariamman Temple... love the front of it. I guess that kind of tower is fairly common with Hindu temples, always impressive and magnificent to behold.
We were there when there was service going on, people following a temple official from station to station of various Hindu deities,
These musicians played, and a loud bell was rung.
I like religions that make tasty snack offerings, like oranges. Also decorative flower necklaces.
Kali, I believe.
Lord Ganesha, "remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom". That's a deity I can get behind!
My cousin Mary - note shoes are not allowed in the temple. They had a place where you could check them for .20 Ringuet - like about a nickle
Guan Di Temple - Taoist, I was told.
Again, tasty offerings.
Slow burning incense.
I really liked the columns wrapped with identical tiny shrines, each with its own little light
I always love this kind of sink. here where we lunched (tasty lamb burger) at Lucy in the Sky cafe I can't decide if they were being cool or economical.
Near the Central Market...
The Kompleks Dayabumi is a lovely bit of Islamic-influenced architecture.
At the KL Central Market, I loved this little WiFi pay machine... connectivity in vending machine form.
Many beautiful (and often upscale) crafts and artworks at the Central Market.
"Fashion as far as the feet can take" is a good slogan.
Mao statue outside some galleries where Ken and Mary looked for some pieces (probably some authentic tribal works) for their currently spartan apartment.
I liked the little "E" to denote electronic cigarettes.
We were going to head back with Ken and Mary, but then a ferocious rain squall rose up...
Nothing to do but go for a beer! (or a cider)
The rain was pretty impressive.
But the rain cleared quickly. Much construction in KL. However, they really don't care about keeping walkways traversable. (again, since everyone drives everywhere)
Despite being a moslem country, booze is easily found, whether in wine stores like this one offering Hello Kitty champagne or even beers from convenience stores.
Toothsome street art.
My cousins Ken and Mary at Bijan, serving great Malay-fusion cuisine.
Aww, dinner at Bijan
This is Sunday morning, actually - both evening and morning the KL Tower puts on a light show and changes colors.

malaysia 2016: batu caves and kl tower

November 13, 2016
Ken and Mary's apartment is on the luxury side of things - such glossy floors!
And they have a pool/patio-
Little cafe "The Kitchen Project" poolside.
Coconut water. I've had coconut water from the coconut, but never with the membrane preserved... kind of weird.
Our big trip to today was to the Batu Caves, Hindu temples built into limestone caverns.
The world's tallest statue of Lord Murugan was under construction.
Many steps up to the caves.
Workman walking down..
....workman still walking down.
Inside the cavern.
Many idols.
The inner inner cavern is open to the sky.
There's a little temple in that inner cavern.
Typical(?) temple tower.
The temple, the greenery, the cavern walls...
Gorgeous Rooster.
Batu Cave rooster strut.
They also had monkeys.
The monkeys were pretty aggressive and would grab bags out of folks hands if they looked like they might have food.
Monkey silhouette, heading out.
Monkey silhouette with birds.
View from inside the "dark cave"
Heading back down.
Silver lining to Lord Murugan under construction was some workman up there to give a sense of scale.
Many Ganesha.
Back in KL. - since it was clear Melissa and I decided to go up the KL Tower.
Attractive Fern.
This was in the lobby of the KL Tower.
View from atop the KL Tower, this is looking at the connected towers of the Verticas residence where my cousins live.
Nice clouds in this one.
The KL Tower had a "Sky Box" with a glass floor you could walk out on.
You know, I'm as skinny as I've ever been but when my shirt puffs out I look bad. Also weirdly foreshortened.
Melissa looks great though. Believe it or not she's walking on air.
Another KL Tower attraction was a little zoo, we skipped it but the parrots were by the entrance.
The KL Tower's base had numerous extra attractions including the Upsidedown House.
The KL Tower reflected in a bank. With a camel... I've been told the camel has interesting animations or at least lights at night.
The KL Tower with a puffy cloud. Ken pointed out later it looks like it's ready for blast off.
Ruined old building, looking even more than its 80 years.

When and Why Nationalism Beats Globalism. I'd prefer to be a citizen of the world myself, but we need to understand people who put nation over humanity. And sometimes there's something to be said for the view in the United States, there are many things we get right, and paths to improvement. Unfortunately the white-america first got this know-nothing elected.

malaysia 2016: george town, pinang peranakan museum and food tour

November 14, 2016
Sunday evening, reflection of the towers off the wet patio deck as we went to grab a quick dinner.
Bus to Penang!
Campbell House is this beautiful colonial style place in Chinatown.
View from the window.
Scientific evidence suggests every photo in South East Asia looks better with a scooter in it.
We're 3 floors up in the loft- odd cross beam in the middle of it, but great.
Cage in a cage.
Pull rope, flor hauling luggage I think.
Remove shoes. No smoking. No Durians. We sampled some Durian ice cream the other day... you can taste the stinky!
George Town is famous for its street art and we took in many pieces of it - there's a series of Welded Iron Wall Caricatures that tell bits of very local history on various streets. Not always so PC, but pretty cool.
Like a lot of island places, they hace a knack for color.
So today we're heading out exploring on our own.
Oh, hipsters.
Kapitan Keling Mosque.
Yap Kongsi Temple
You could rent tourist bikes. Again with the colors!
Street art.
Street art behind K-Bab street food.
This looks a lot like Melissa's kitty Dean. Note the mouse in the top left.
Funky furniture.
This "Awesome Canteen" had some cool trees inside.
The signage on the outside had some nice wabi sabi.
Melissa enjoys the coconut.
Scooters and shrine.
Next on a whim we ducked into a little tourist thing called "Phantamania" - hall of mirrors!
After the hall of mirrors you'd meet up with a guide who uses your camera to take wacky optical illusion shots...
So Many Melissa.
Melissa is always saying my cranium is a bit inflated.
Melissa is impressed that here, snow castle = wonderland. In New England, outside of the movie Frozen, it's misery.
Nice confluence of cars and building.
Famous Street Art
I noticed red and blue pipes in many places... come to think of it that might be inflow/outflow not hot/cold.
That is some tree! I mean I think it's a tree. (later we found out it's a kind of precursor to the Palm....)
This about expresses the ratio of cycles and scooters to bicycles.
We went into the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, the feng-shui crafted house built by a figure high in the secret society underworld...
The house had a courtyard that was open to the sky- rain represents money/fortune so you want to let it in.
Great relxed guide explained Peranakan Chinese / Baba-Nyonya culture, the kind of Chinese Malay fusion.
Music box! Had a giant disk to play its one song .
Conversation chair. (I've seen a similar design in the business class section of some airlines.)
Old camera...
We were joined by an English pair of sisters and Portugese tourists, 2 men and a woman.
So I liked how the camera had a mirror built-in! Kind of like a selfie but it took half an hour and someone else had to operate the camera
There was an adjoining family shrine, still used for homage.
I liked this style of art outside the kitchen.
Clever stool tipped to be come a (low) high chair.I liked this style of art outside the kitchen.
More of that art in the kitchen.
Pot with... crawfish?
Wrap around sunglasses
Buddha with money for wishing.
I like the pixel-like nature of the beadwork shoes.
500,000 beads in this wedding table cover, they say...
Even the toilets are fancy!
Jade (?) table.
Back outside, I liked this street art.
More wire art.
Another Hindu temple.
I assume this was a purposeful rock garden, otuside the Prangin Mall where we were going to meet our food tour guide.
The mall was surprisingly large! Well, maybe not large so much as tall.
Our guide Kevin took the two of us to lots of places, picking a wide range of foods and pointing out lots of neat stuff
Mini-tour of the Clan Jetties, at super low-tide, I imagine because of the supermoon.
We had so many foods! I had Kevin write 'em down: 1. Cendol, A. Laksa 2. lorbak, prawn fritters, tofu fritters, umbrella fritters, Chinese New Year fritters, 3. Chinese Bun, Appom 4. Curry noodle, Chu Key Teow (?), Poh Niab, Satay, BBQ Chicken wing 5. Dosa Tissue, Pulled Tea. Oh yeah, that warm nutmeg drink tastes just like warm flat coca-cola, Kevin pointed out to us.
Some of the street vendors
The Dosa came in a little tent. kevin recommended this view.
So much Pringles diversity! Original, Hot + Spicy, Pizza, Salt+Seaweed, Zesty Lime + Chili, and Cheesy Cheese.
For 8 Ringyat, or $2- 2 bottles of water, 2 bottle of coke zero, 2 seaweed snack, , and some super glue to try and fix a shoe.

"A kissing booth at a fair is basically a PG rated glory hole."
"[How is half of such an advanced country so hell-bent on going back to the 18th century?] Because the same people that like to mock "safe spaces" and "participation awards" and "the pussification of America" are fucking ignorant cowards who are intimidated that women and minorities might actually be edging to equality to the point where simply being a barely high school educated white male isn't enough to stay ahead of the curve."
Are. You. F'in. Kidding. Me. :
"Returning home to Trump Tower from the White House may not be Mr. Trump's only embrace of the familiar. His aides say he has also expressed interest in continuing to hold the large rallies that were a staple of his candidacy. He likes the instant gratification and adulation that the cheering crowds provide, and his aides are discussing how they might accommodate his demand."

malaysia 2016: george town tour, kek lok si, and penang hill

November 15, 2016
The colors are so nice.
Charmed by the cat tail rear window wiper.
Loved this tile pattern.
It's so hot, the fire plugs are melting.
Street art.
Kind of a mashup of street art- wondering if it was something else originally on the end of the kid's string.
Melissa in the street art.
Kirk in street art.
"Soft Opening" - a poster for some kind of singles night, I think.
Colonial architecture... near the start of a nice little free walking tour we took.
Again with the colors. An island thing? Or maybe a post-colonial island thing? I wonder why...
The tourguide took us to the Kuan Yin Teng (Goddess of Mercy Temple), this is one of the booths outside. It's funny we had been so shy about approaching the day before, it's a very public place. I mean as outsider tourists we try to be respectful, but this flavor of Taoism, or maybe this temple in particular, is very open.
The guide told us of some of the querying / divination going on here; picking numbers that you can then bring to the counter for the corresponding revelation, and then you toss these two ying yang halves to see if your answer is correct or not or maybe not understood by the divine forces at that time. The guide Campbell mentioned people come for that when they have problems, mostly.
I appreciate the down to earth nature of the figure attending to his ear.
Kapitan Keling Mosque again - this one is a bit more aloof, tourist-wise; outsiders are allowed in but you have to arrange it.
Inside the courtyard of one of the clan houses. One point stressed is the Chinese in the town were historically very diverse, not homogenous at all. Different groups (and not just the Chinese for that matter) would form societies and groups to help their communities get a foothold.
Some of the clan houses, this one in particular with "secret soecity" connections, was a fortress that could be sealed off, and had a narrow escape route that a Chinese man of the time might have an easier time with than a burly British copper.
Another mosque.
Just a photo to remember the tour by.
Loved this mod'ed auto, especially the rear hatch's tail light covers that look like exhaust pipes.
After the tour we had lunch at a nearby open food court.
My White Curry Mee and a Tiger beer, a kind of local default.
In the USA it's usually "order, pay, get food, go sit", but here it's "order, go sit, they find you with food, pay" - feels chaotic but it works.
View from an Uber, guessing people were picking up their schoolkids. Many scooter riders put on a shirt backwards (not sure if it's ever a custom garmet or just a regular shirt), I'm guessing to protect from the sun and other elements.
We headed out to Kek Lok Si, a Buddhist temple
It's an amazing place... the grounds are huge and winding with lots of ways to go and explore.
Random photo experiment, trying to capture reflection of pagoda in glasses. Kept her because I'm amused at how I ook.
Later we'll see the power of scale, but repetition is an important theme too - over 10,000 Buddhas on the grounds.
The grounds are full of shops of religious paraphalia and souveniers as you make your way to the cable car to ascend. That is a creepy holy person in a box statue.
Chinese Zodiac statues abound, I decided to pose with my year's figure, the Tiger.
Wishing ribbons, I did a Family Safety one for Cora and her moms.
This photo does not do justice to the 99 ft statue of Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy, built in 2002, nor the Pavillion built around her.
Graceful tree. Less graceful garbage can but it had a certain wabi-sabi.
A lot of construction going on around.
I guess I didn't get a picture of the pavillion and koi pond (it had an interesting chant playing on loop from speakers hidden as rocks.) But I like this one with the (I think Kuan Yin, though that's just another name for Guanyin) upper body behind.
We paused to reflect, in more ways than one, actually.
Buddha off to the side.
I liked the expression, almost a little mischevious.
Suspiciously infringing looking stone figures.
Because of my housemate I'll always take a picture of turtles.
You can go into and ascend the seven story pagoda here- wikipedia tells me Chinese at the base, Thai in the middle, Burmese at the top.
Each level had its own Buddha
And each level had its own Buddha tiling...
Floor 2
Floor 3
Floor 4. People of the world, Relax!
View at this level.
Floor 5
Floor 6
Floor 7. Each floor had less floorspace than the one below.
View from the top
Attempt at a panorama that just into a vertical slice
A note on this cross. I thought it was the clockwise vs counterclock wise that seperated it from its nazi use, but more that the Germans put it at 45 degrees.
It's humbling to think about the detail of this- I mean this is just one panel among dozens, in this kind of of wonderland of hundreds of things to see, and it's amazing.
We hopped an Uber to head to Penang Hill. They have a funicular (such a good word) to ride up
The train rises over 4/10 of a mile in its mile and a quarter run.
For non-citizens, a ticket is 30 ringgit, like $7.50, for a roundtrip. Or you can pay double that for a "Fast Lane" pass, and skip the line. We felt kind of like jerks but we did that to save at least 30 minutes each side. I was a little surprised that more people didn't go for it, though I guess local, besides not having as much money in general maybe, only pay 10 ringgit, so if it's a 10 to 60 ringgit jump, that might change the equation.
Schoolkids go for 4RM, or a buck.
Oh I'm such an 8 year old, but Kaca means glass.
Oh, man, the view was astounding, just vast and sweeping, you could see the whole coast of the isalnd and the main insland beyond.
On the right is Kek Lok Si where we were earlier
A cloud that, uh, looked like an elephant.
Students wanted to take selfies with us. After a week of taking awkward photos of "exotic" stuff, it was nice to have the tables turned.
At the top we were approached by a tout for "The Habitat", a walkway through the tropical (not equatorial, we learned) rainforest there, where important conservation work and some fascinating research is being done (like - this tree is 500 years old and not dead of fungus, what does it know that we don't)
We took the guided tour along with anotehr couple. Our guide Hermes was so obviously enthused about the place, and when we spotted relatively rare birds from the path...
They had a few really nice giant swings.
The couple we were with also wanted a selfie...
They had electric carts you could hire to run you back to the station.
The electric buggy driver stopped to let us see this Centipede... not sure if this kind is dangerous or not.
Back at the funicular station. Man, and I thought Tokyo had it tough with Godzilla... George Town must have been really hosed!
The hotel recommended this Dim Sum just a few doors down - we went in and the waitress nudged us (almost literally, we didn't have a language in common so much) to this awesome chicken and ginger, and the greens...
Classic Dum Sum feasting!

malaysia 2016: george town clan house tour and off to airport

November 16, 2016
Goodbye to the Campbell House - The "Loft" room was really excellent, a small foyer we mostly ignored and then stairs up. The cross bar (exceedingly well padded) was not annoying as one might guess, despite being at face height across the space.
That foyer. The shuttered windows with colored glass were nice.
Also, a little Italian (for some) reason restaurant that served a complemntary breakfast - much nicer than places that through a little of that "Continental" stuff at you, or a big buffet.
Melissa has a very tender place in her heart for street and stray animals.
More street art! Comissioned by the nearby hotel, but fun.
Melissa points out it looks like Marilyn is checking her out...
"Coffee, Tea, or Me"...
More of the wire art.
This was the outside of the Pinang Peranakan Mansion we toured the other day. We're heading here to be back at the Penang Heritage Trust where we booked a more in-depth tour.
I admired the local "Myvi" style car because it looked a bit like mine - later it would happen to be the brand of our rental.
We started a walking tour with an Australian couple, Mark and Anna. The guide encouraged us to have fun with the art- in general Malaysia seems to like goofing with photos.
Our guide- alas I forgot to record his name, but he was a lot of fun, a bit foppish? I don't want to over-stereotype, but I dig that Indonesia offers models of malehood not all hung up on machoness.
More of the local clan house-style temples.
Hindu temple, I think they mentioned it was a recent addition, or at least renovation.
Again, I love how almost whereever you go temple wise, there's some little detail that rewards close attention, but that otherwise you might miss.
Again, more temple stuff...
The clanhouses in general made me think about Mutual Aid Societies, like the ones in New Orleans. They kind of go against the grain of American Rugged Individualism... in thinking about what some Trump Voter defenders say about the relative neglect of rural communities... I dunno. Food for thought.
I asked the guide a bit about the "tasty offerings" I mentioned earlier - was their a particular procedure for removal of them? He said that the temple keeper might enjoy them or give them to needy people - or sometimes people offer it ceremoniously and then take with.
That... is quite a plant.
One of our fellow tourees, Anna from Australia.
Is that... "Chillax" over an Avatar character?
Moslem cemetery. The guide pointed out males get proud tall columns, females less imposing structures, tablet-shaped I'd say.
The rainforest has a lot of life and a lot of decay.
Street art...
WHOOO doesn't love owls?
He talked about how a Sikh guard at Buckingham Palace had a special headpiece combining his cultural background's wear and what the guards all sport.
These lions had granite spheres carved from and forever trapped in their mighty jaws.
But, tourists are told not to muck with 'em.
Interior of the Khoo Kongsi clanhouse - I think our guide had a special connection with the group.
I just love the art when it goes monochrome.
This calligraphy has tiny birds...
...see? rather Escher-esque.
"The Nine Old Men", see next photo...
I love the braggadocio of "This painting pays tribute to the clan leaders of Khoo Kongsi, whose insight into the ways of changes in a highly competitive society have steered Khoo Kongsi to the top."
This whole trip I had a special affinity for Tigers, since they are my sign...
Hallway with students granted scholarships and their achievements. Again, very strongly pro-community.
Something pretty - the shell is just a sample but I bought a bookmark using the material for Melissa's birthday (shh)
Finally Melissa got to see some Tea-pulling! This (and the last photo) was at the Edelweiss Cafe - lots of odd little prankish things there our guide took delight in showing us - the witches that jumped up when you clapped, the boxer on the wall in the lady's room with an inviting handle on his shorts, pull it and a spider jumps out and a loud bell rings in front, etc...
Kitty street art.
Chicken and Rice to end the day before heading back to the airport.
Uh, it's an airport.
It's interesting walking out to the planes - loud sometimes though. Off to Langkawi!
Beautiful Langkawi... more to come.

malaysia 2016: langkawi junglewalla kayak and waterfall, excursion to kuah

November 17, 2016
Geckos (?) abound at the hotel. At one point we saw a weird scene in the hallway with a lot of these flapping bugs around, seemed like a feast for the lizards, and you could understand why they move so fast...
Monkeys also abound here.
Morning cartoons..
Kind of frightening? Some kind of mad scientist plot turning the (chicken) citizens into zombies
More monkeys. Our original room had a leak so we got an upgrade to one with a semi-private pool outside it.
Lobby of the Andaman.
On our way to a "Junglewalla" tour..
Kayaking - Mudskippers there, probably tough to make out, but that intriguing link between water and land dwelling.
Male fiddler crabs waving their tiny giant claws to attract the babes.
Beautiful kayaking weather.
A local-made lunch is part of the tour.
Part of the tour was a swim in an out of the way swimming hole and waterfall.
St Andrew's Cross Spider!
Walking back to the van.
Definitely looking the part of luxury resort!
They do some conservation stuff, I think this is the coral nursery.
One smart thing we did was to rent a car- we didn't realize we'd need one at first, but our resort is 20-60 minutes from everywhere, and taxis would add up. Anyway, after heading back to the airport for a rental, we headed out to Kuah for Seafood- "My Chef" is this place.
Local flavor.
We ordered an entire fish...
Made pretty short work of it.
(We had actually been looking for seafood from "Teo", but the maps were off so we didn't find it til when we were walking around a bit after dinner)
Never seen a skull drawn quite that way.
Biggest KFC I've ever seen.
This map of Langkawi is a prominent feature of the hotel lobby. But what- what's that? Zoom. Enhance.

malaysia 2016: panorama langkawi and the beach

November 18, 2016
It's amazing how wild the walkways near the hotel are...
Today we went to Panorama Langkawi to take the SkyCab (world's steepest and "Longest Free Span Mono-Cable Car") up to the SkyTrail path (instead of the Sky Glide funicular) to get on the SkyBridge. (I also stopped for a movie at SkyRex, which Melissa skipped, we also skipped shopping at the SkyBoutique or sending a postcard at the SkyPos) Anyway you can just see a cable car up there.
Sadly, the Oriental Village's (at the base) feature attraction, those floating human size hamster wheels and hamster balls, didn't seem to be running
Paid a bit more for the F-1 Simulator for me....
...lets just say I was better at regular driving (even on the left side of the road) in our rental car than I was at sim-F1; it's no Mario Kart.
Up, up, up
Action shot of Melissa.
I guess that's a more sensible strategy than my plan of standing up screaming and flailing my arms like Kermit at the beginning of the Muppet Show intro.
I'm happier here than I look, I think. Also: wow, that Oriental Village is far away.
As promised, the panorama was breathtaking! And this is only the halfway-up station.
Darth Vader was there. Wish I had got a better shot of the costume; the shirt in particular had local flare.
Finally up to the SkyBridge, a great twisty suspended path, with more of those "walk on the glass or pose for a selfie pointing straight down" panels.
Langkawi is (I think) built of these limestone rocks.
So pretty. The landscape was good too. Plus the sea went well with Melissa's shirt.
Whenever you go up these things, you think about the people who did so before you, but with tools and raw materials to build the things.
Errm, not sure the Panorama mode of the iPhone quite got the curve of the cable car right...
A lot of stairs this trip. Was trying to remember why we passed on the funicular.
That's a cute icon of a monkey.
The SkyBridge was a bit lower than the viewing platforms at the top. I liked the colors these fellow tourists were wearing.
They had those "Love Locks" things, but for sale.
Presumably they put the weight into the calculations, unlike that bridge in Paris...
Back down. I think this is the 7 Wells Waterfall.
Then suddenly... pterodactyl! (I kid, this is the SkyRex movie, a fun little jostly the trolley around Jurassic Park-ish thing)
Our rental car (Perodua Myvi) was a little larger than this, but not by all that much.
The diversity of the place is great, I think this place was Iranian?
Delish Kebab.
Did I mention the upgraded resort room we got? Wider than it is tall. Melissa had me make a GIF of her rotating while planking on it...
A little late afternoon lounging, then.
Squinty selfie!
The resort was an experiment in splurge. Resort-only beach side booze is nice, as is an shore side with shade.
Back at the hotel - a monitor lizard, maybe? And all the geckos were hot to trot because of these bugs that were flapping about- it was like the bugs were molting and/or losing their wings or something.
Salt water shampoo and conditioner does so much for me, doncha think?

malaysia 2016: langkawi lounging and the night market

November 19, 2016
In this staged photo I attempt to express the amusement I felt at the map to ad ratio of the map the rental car place gave us.
We liked how this tree looked like it was sporting cornrows.
There was a nice pool central at the resort, with a little waterslide, but we stuck to the saltwater.
Being in a bay, the waves were hardly greater than a Great Lake's...
Digging formations made by crabs, we sussed.
"Bae Caught Me Sleeping" is one of my favorite memes, on multiple levels.
One of the larger versions of the beach crabs.
Lone jellyfish.
I do like how those singular trees stick out of hillsides.
Choosing the night market rather than the resort's Malay Buffet...
Wanted documentation that I know how to drive Right Hand Drive.
Khua Night Market.
Delicious things.
Giant woks.
My first entree.
There was a river or stream parallel to the run of the market, with a lit up bridge. Malaysia has a lot of those color shifting LED things.

malaysia 2016: langkawi waterfalls and farewell

November 20, 2016
Saying good bye to our room. This arrangement of wedge cushion for a couch strikes me as kind of perfect.
In Islam-friendly countries, often a drawer will have an arrow showing the appropriate way to face Mecca.
Body wash et al. Every shower we had here: our cousins' nice apartment, the Campbell House in George Town, and the Andmana had stand up tile showers with glass doors and hand nozzles. I wonder if it's just the old NE apartments I'm in that make them seem unusual.... it's a near perfect arrangement, a lot better than risking slipping around a confining round-bottomed tub.
Earlier in the trip we heard about - and later saw, briefly - Langur monkeys and their cute orange babies, considered one of the cutest creatures in the world -- too cute in fact - they're a target for poachers, and they have to kill the whole family unit who will fight to the last to protect the babies.
Final lunch. I stuck with Tiger beer the whole trip, the local Bud - reasonably tasty, seemed like the authentic thing to do, and made sure I didn't get too buzzed.
Melissa posing coyly behind a frickin' GIANT leaf that had fallen on our car.
The Myvi was a great rental car - a little tinny maybe, but otherwise a lot like my '04 Scion. I was amused at the lgo-kart ook of the gas pedal, though both pedals felt fine.
Before our flight, we decided to hit the nearby Temurun waterfall...
Through the forest a bit.
...Wow. How does such a little island have such big majestic things in it?
The stairs were kind of cool, carved into the stone with a grid pattern at top.
Some folks I think might be locals were enjoying the pool.
Obviously it's not a single giant plunge waterfall, but the overall drop of 200 meters is still amazing.
Young men scrambling up...
Jump 1!
Jump 2!
Those stairs again.
A popsicle ad I enjoyed.
Checking out the Seven Wells-- many, many, many stairs.
Viewing platform.
Random toilet seat.
The wells are a bunch of little dipping pools...
You can see the SkyCab from there... because of time and energy on the way down we ended up skipping the side trip of the actual falls.
Pathside monkey.
Bye Myvi! You served us well. So glad we decided to grab a rental rather than rely on taxis, even though it required more concentration from me.
So Malaysia has a sport "Sepak takraw" which is "kick volleyball" played by 2 teams of 3 people each- it was on at the Langkawi airport.
Dang fluffy clouds.
In Malay, "kanak" is child and "kanak-kanak" is children (also "kiddy", depending on context) - my cousin Ken mention doubling words for plural is common in the language.
The airport is ready for Christmas...

My dad accidentally texted me with voice recognition...while playing the tuba...

malaysia 2016:kuala lumpur twin towers mall

November 21, 2016
I dig how Malaysians celebrate any holiday... this is back to the mall under the twin towers bit we had an excuse...
...unfortunately Melissa got a bit of travellers bug and we decided to hit the clinic, a decent one was built into the mall... interesting being able to go shopping while waiting for bloodwork being done. Luckily it wasn't Dengue fever or Malaria or Zika or anything like that...
The maps in the mall were electronic and searchable and would even show you the path from current location to the store...
Nail polish store, well obviously.
Again getting the scale of it... the middle elevator had some repair work going on though. Each floor had a theme, like "Electronics" "Kids/Toys" "Glamour"... (or was it Luxury?)
Kid's jigsaw puzzle on how to do Salaat, the Moslem prayer ritual.
The store "Smiggle" was a kid centric stationary etc store... this burger notebook (with smiling plush ends)
Odd cafe I liked.
Kids ride of the Crocodile Hunter.... (the plaque says its in memoriam)
Malaysia uses a 3 prong plug ala Britain... also each socket tends to have its own little power off switch
Sigh, KL airport
Doha airport has better sculptures though
Finally, the water we got on the plane is a lie. THAT'S NOT A BOTTLE.

November 22, 2016

"The abbreviation for 'down' (dn) is just 'up' upside down."

November 23, 2016

I liked this cover, don't know if it's an photo overlay or what...

November 24, 2016

Texas A+M Gymnastics Team wins the Mannequin Challenge.
"Be so good they can't ignore you."
--Steve Martin's advice for aspiring entertainers, via Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It. I'm planning on disabling FB on my work laptop.

November 25, 2016

I thought this interview w/ Ben Shapiro aided my understanding of Breitbart and its relation to the "alt-right". And I agree, the left really needs to stop painting with a super-wide "racist idiot" brush. I don't think Trump is anywhere near as qualified as Obama was, and he's promoted a lot of ideas terrible for equality and our nation in general (but he has walked back some of the worst of things, and highlighted the people hurt taking the brunt of the hit of free trade) but the demonization of Trump is an ugly mirror of the crazy smears Obama put up with.

November 26, 2016

She was always immensely generous with her money, her love, her time. The result was thousands of friends, a life crammed with lovers, and, at mid-century, an idyllic romance with a man who turned out to be her mental and emotional double. My mother and grandmother, who hoarded and calculated their love, my sisters, who chose their husbands at eighteen and never budged, wound up with less than Hope, who gave everything away. She was a human potlatch. Gifts dropped from her like fruit from a tree. You dared not admire anything in her home or office or on her person for fear she would give it to you. Anything at all: a painting, a first edition, a piece of jewelry. She gave and gave and gave. Things fell out of her pockets. And everything eventually came back. Doubled, usually. Or tripled.
--Erica Jong, "How to Save Your Own Life"
How to Save Your Own Life
The Wit & Wisdom of Isadora Wing
(Amanuensis to the Zeitgeist)
"Have pen, will travel"
  1. Renounce useless guilt.
  2. Don't make a cult of suffering.
  3. Live in the Now (or at least the Soon).
  4. Always do the things you fear the most; courage is an acquired taste, like caviar.
  5. Trust all joy.
  6. If the evil eye fixes you in its gaze, look elsewhere.
  7. Get ready to be eighty-seven.
(to be continued)
--Erica Jong, "How to Save Your Own Life"
Oh man, I wish I could find the song starting at around :38 of this '72 Italian film trailer. (mildly NSFW in parts)

November 27, 2016

#NonSwingStatesMattter #AllStatesMatter

Liberal view: the electoral college was set up to give slave states more say and generally punch above their weight on a national level

Conservative view: the electoral college stops politicians from just sucking up to big urban areas and running on their issues.

November 28, 2016

I accidentally broke a cool Fred and Friends Equal Measure Measuring Cup... unfortunately they don't seem to make it anymore.

Some of those facts seem unbelievable! Multiple billions of grains in 2 1/2 cups of flour???

best photo from malaysia trip 2016

November 29, 2016
In the Guan Di Temple in Kuala Lumpur
The Sri Mahamariamman Temple of Kuala Lumpur
The Batu Caves
Street shot in George Town, Penang
Colorful building and cars in George Town.
One of the Clan Jetties at George Town.
Monkey at the Andaman Resort in Langkawi
Hidden waterfall in Langkawi
View from Panaroma Langkawi
Kuah night market in Langkawi
Temurun Waterfall, Langkawi
Monkey alongside steps to Seven Well, Langkawi

"Relationships are all about asking people to hold things."
--Melissa. (This was especially true in the context she said this, the airport, as we both played that game of 'Ok do I have everything? Ok do I still have everything? Let me check again. How about now?')
My iPhone 6 was sort of on its last legs so I upgraded - but I went for the iPhone SE, which is the old iPhone 5 body with a 6S camera. There's something great about that old form factor, how easy it is to manage for quick camera shots etc. (Remember when smaller was considered better for electronics?)

second best photos from malaysia trip 2016

November 30, 2016
KL kitty on pipes.
Booth at the KL Central Market
We had a lot of coconut water. If they're cut a certain way you get this kind of weird but convenient membrane left, not just a gaping maw to stick your straw into.
The Batu Caves. The conjunction of rock formations, human-made temples, and greenery was striking.
Monkey silhouette outside Batu Caves.
View from the KL Tower
At the KL Tower - a number of places had those glass-bottom floors you could walk over. Great shot of Melissa.
George Town is famous for its street art.
Panoramic Slice from top of pagado at Kek Lok Si.
View from Penang Hill.
The SkyBridge in Langkawi was quite a nice piece of engineering.
Irregular steps carved out of the stones near the Temurun Waterfall in Langkawi

--from Concept art of vehicles driven by Toads from Mario Strikers Charged. via Supper Mario Broth
"I think I just summarized my life philosophy really succinctly to my roommate:
'you do what you gotta do. and sometimes you do it in heels'"
--Anna Anthropy
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