PhotoFriday this week has the theme Wheels. This is timely, as a couple days ago, my beloved 1989 Toyota Camry passed the 200,000 mile marker. That is around 8 trips around this planet we travel, or .8 of the distance to the moon.
Olympic fever is catching on. In a matter of minutes the official torch will be lit. I'm a little upset I didn't make some plans to head to Vancouver for these events. I am a bigger fan of the Winter Olympics, plus I have a good number of friends up there that I would love to hang out with again.
And while I will not be physically be there to watch the events, my face will be looking down over Vancouver during the games. How is that you ask? Have I developed that top secret satellite I have been working on? No, not yet. But my face is one of over 13,000 on the Molson 2010 Mural. A wall of faces that help celebrate the spirit of the Olympics.
My face has coordinates 50,8 on the big wall, if you want to look it up. While it is not as cool as being on a wall at the Elsinore brewery, it is still an honor to be one of the many.
Surfaces is the theme this week at PhotoFriday. While most probably will go with surfaces as a noun, I have decided to use it as a verb. This is yet another photo from my freighter trip. As we approached the California coast, the sea life came out, and put on a show. I watched as the dolphins played in the wake of the Hanjin Phoenix. A few even chose to race ahead of the ship in a game called bow riding. Here is some of my video of bow riding in action.
You can click on the photo to be taken to a larger image.
This photo was taken last March near Galveston, Texas, seven months after Hurricane Ike struck. A few days before I took this photo, a good friend in Kansas called me up. He asked me one of my favorite questions, "You want to go on a road trip?" I would guess ninety percent of the time those words are uttered, I respond in the affirmative. The only reasons that would stop me is work schedules or the person has proven to be a horrible road companion in the past. This time it was a no-brainer. The only question I had was when and where? Well, he needed to make a trip down to Galveston to check out 1 Mission:Galveston and the possibility of taking his church's youth group down to help. Having some time on my hands, I told him I'd pack up the car and head west. A couple days we were on the road to the coast. I was shocked at the damage that remained when we arrived in the area. We lost count of the McDonald's sings that had been blown out. And while we joked about the damage to the golden arches, the destruction to homes was heartbreaking. At the same time, we met some amazing people who both were long time residents, as well as recent arrivals, who made it their mission to help rebuild the area around them.
It is amazing the good that mankind can do, when faced with adversity. It is something that we have seen on the news this past week. Sadly, it often takes disasters to really bring out the best in man. Sometimes, I wonder why we can't put our egos, selfishness, and attitudes away and help the less fortunate around us more often?
After years of crossing both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans by airplanes, I decided to do something different on my final trip from Korea to America. After some online searching, I found a company where I could book passage on a freighter. Talk about slowing the trip down. What usually took me thirteen hours would take about thirteen days. To top it off, that only landed me on the coast. I then decided to take a train to make the final portion of the journey.
Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Those days were some of the most relaxing days I have. I also enjoyed getting to know the crew and a little bit of their lives. Plus, I was able to drive the boat. Sure, it was only for a minute or so, but how many of you have had their hands on the steering wheel of a freighter? Didn't think so.
Three summers ago I had the opportunity to travel the rails from Beijing to Moscow. Our first stop was Ulan Bator, Mongolia. Having a few days to explore, we ended up heading out to the countryside to stay with some nomads. While we were there, we were able to ride camels, experience some of the local sports and music, as well as sample the traditional dishes. Oh, and we were able to participate in the milking of the mares. In fact it was the first milking of the year, so we even celebrated with Vodka and fermented mare's milk afterwards. Every night we were with them, we were able to sleep in a ger. Interestingly enough, even though we were hundred of miles from civilization among these nomads, they did provide us with Winnie The Pooh sheets and blankets on our bed. I'd say it made me feel like I was home, but I don't have a cool matching bed set with cartoon characters there.
This week the theme at PhotoFriday is Square. I did a quick scan of my photos and couldn't find any good ones of the rectangle with equal sides. I did how ever find one of the most famous square, Red Square in Moscow. I took this photo several years ago. Myself and two friends had taken the train from Beijing to Moscow during our summer break. After a couple days in the Russian capital, it was time to go our separate ways. One headed to Domodedovo International Airport for his flight and the other Sheremetyevo International Airport to wait for his flight. I rode the subway with them until they had to head off to different lines. Having another full night before my flight, I decided to wander down to Red Square for one final visit. We had been there a couple times during the previous days, but never in the evening. I was amazed at how beautiful it was at night. Even thought it appears to be early evening, this photo was taken right around midnight.
Vehicle is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. A couple years my friends laughed at me when I told them another friend was giving me his car. Not just any car, but a 1989 Toyota Camry. A car old enough, I could have been driving it when I got my license. Some were even betting that I would not make it across the state of California, let alone all the way back to Illinois. Well, over two years later, and many many miles down the road it still keeps on cruising. I recently had to replace the front tires after one blew, but such is life. While many would recommend never buying a car from a friend or relative, I would highly encourage accepting free cars. At least it has worked out well for me.
The theme at PhotoFriday this week is Three. In my quest to attend a game at all the major league ball parks, I was able to cross off National Park off the list this year. Sadly, I think the fans were cheering more for the presidents race than the Nationals the night I was there. Oh well, at least someone they rooted for won that night.
PhotoFriday's theme this week is Dawn. Yet another photo taken in the woods of the Upper Peninsula. When I was younger I would often spend a lot of time on this little island. There is an old ice shack where they used to store ice blocks for the ice boxes from days of old. Even though the island is smaller than a school bus, it was fun to explore around. I felt like it was my very own place. Even now there is something about it that draws me near. It is amazing how many photos I have taken of it. This one just happened to be taken in the early morning as the fog was lifting from the lake.
The theme is Fast Food over at PhotoFriday this week. I took this near the Basel SBB train station. I had never seen a vending machine targeting pets before, and actually haven't seen another one like this.
Last week I had the opportunity to spend a couple days in Washington D.C. My main reason for going was a job interview, but that didn't go so well. At least I got the chance to take in a baseball game, see some sights, and hang out with some former students. Plus I learned a few things along the way.
These include: 1. You can listen to Car Talk recordings at the Smithsonian. 2. I love public transit. Not only did I ride the metro more than I actually needed, but I found myself sitting on the replica of Chicago's "L" at the Smithsonian. 3. Someone had a really bad idea of putting the National Zoo on a hill. 4. Of all the records (those things before CDs for you young folk. And CDs are those things before MP3s for you really young folk.) that they could display in the American History museum they chose one by Elvis and one by Cheech and Chong. 5. Turning the light on when you enter the room at 1 am will make you the most hated person in the hostel. I seriously thought about fighting that dude. 6. If you are really lazy, you could take a tour of the Smithsonian museums by watching Night At The Museum 2 at the IMAX at the Air and Space museum. 7. The Nationals really do stink. Plus their fans really hate Manny Ramirez. 8. Inbreeding is not just a human problem. I guess locking grasshoppers up in a case can also cause some problems with their offspring down the line.
Not a total waste of a few days, even if I did not get a job offer.
The theme this week at PhotoFriday is plants. This photo was taken on a lake in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I have often thought about changing my residence to there, even have debated telling people that is where I am from. Nothing against my hometown, but there is just something amazing in my book about the UP. You have to experience it to understand.
This week's theme at PhotoFriday is "In Shadows." I took this earlier this week from the viewing deck of the Sunsphere in Knoxville, Tennessee. Twenty-seven years ago my family headed down for the World's Fair. I don't remember being able to go up to the top of the Sunsphere at the time due to long lines, but I am guessing it would have been shorter than took twenty-seven years.
As I looked down over Knoxville, I thought it might have been that trip almost three decades ago that started my crazy wandering around the globe. There on the streets of Knoxville, a young and impressionable boy was bumping shoulders with people from all over the world. I was witness to many countries showing off their best and brightest. I think those experiences might be some of the catalyst that prompted me to wander to over thirty-five countries to see first hand what each country has to offer. And for this, I am thankful.
The theme of PhotoFriday is Eyes this week. This tarsier was located in Bohol, Philippines. I took this shot a few years back while there helping with Habitat For Humanity. There is also a video of the little creature eating over on my YouTube pages.
This week the theme at PhotoFriday is debris. I took this photo in Daejeon, South Korea. I was walking back from the HomePlus and found this trio of randomly discarded items caught my eye. I've occasionally wondered what they story that landed this trio together.
Noisy is the theme this week at PhotoFriday. This photo was taken somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It is the engine of the Hanjin Phoenix, a freighter ship that I had the opportunity to spend a couple weeks on. The engine room was one of the main areas that was off limits to my wanderings, but the chief engineer did give me a private tour. Unfortunately, it was so loud that I could barely understand half of what he was telling me about the machine.
This week at PhotoFriday the theme is Brown. This was taken in Amadeo, Philippines, which is the Coffee Capital of the Philippines. The mayor of the town invited us in for a cup of coffee. I was able to tell him it was the best coffee I have ever had. It also was the first cup of coffee I had ever had. Two more cups have followed, but that first cup still was the best.
This week the theme at PhotoFriday is Edible. I had several photos of foods from around the world I have consumed, but figured I would go with what many might find one of the more disgusting items. This is some balut from my last trip to the Philippines. While it might not be the most appetizing images, it actually was a whole lot better than I expected.
The Weekend is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. I have spent the last three four days sitting inside a vehicle watching the pavement pass by, and my weekend is looking like more of the same. I am not exactly sure which way I am heading, I just know I need to get home from this long road trip I am on.
Isolation is the theme at PhotoFriday this week. This shot was taken towards the end of my self imposed hermit days this winter. Guess after so many days without contact you get a little stir crazy. And being stir crazy can lead to ideas like canoeing in the snow or setting up your own bowling rink.
The theme this week at PhotoFriday is Morning Routine. Sadly in my current employment status, I do not have any great morning routine, or at least one that would be worthy of a photo. So I give you a photo of one of my favorite statues. And really, don't most of us enjoy a little toilet reading in the morning?
This week at PhotoFriday the theme is pet. I do not have a pet. Part of the reason is that they limit the vagabond lifestyle. I would also have a hard time spending money to take care and feed something that I am just going to have to clean up after.
But if I had a limitless supply of money and land to have animals to call my own, I would probably have to have an elephant. There is just something cool about seeing one up close. Perhaps it is due to my desire of being in a circus as a kid. It could also could be related to the Simpsons episode where Bart wins an elephant. Either way, I am guessing I would be the coolest guy on the block, owning my own pachyderm.
Costume is the theme this week at PhotoFriday. Last summer, I took my sister-in-law and nieces to Chick-fil-A for their Cow Appreciation Day. This guy was there to claim his free meal for dressing up like a cow. I only received a free sandwich, as I only wore a cow themed hat. Guess I just wasn't that committed to the cause.
I got some random stuff on Ebay, as I am trying to clean out my parents' basement. At this point there are some DVD sets, some CDs, some movie memorabilia I have collected over the years, and a few random action figures, including Ponch.
Some items are ending in the next day, and there will be more posted in the next few days. Heck, if there is something I own you would like in your possession, give me a call or leave a comment, and I might just put it up for bids. I am trying to clean out the closet, so you just never know what I am willing to get rid of. Who would have thought I would have put Ponch up for bids?
So get on over to Ebay and get yourself a deal on a piece of Ryan Cordell history.
This week the theme at PhotoFriday is iconic. I took this photo on my last trip to California. This statue is located on the campus/compound of the Crystal Cathedral. My friend Dave and I both were puzzled by the metallic baby Jesus. I think I made the joke that he looks less like the son of God, and more like the son of Destro. Cobra-la-la-la-la-la-la!
It has been a while since I have been online on a Friday for PhotoFriday. This week's theme is White. I chose one of the photos I took last month while I was wandering around the frozen lake. This was from one of the sunnier days. Part of me wishes I was back up there, although I hear it is bitter cold. But that is what the wood stove is for, right?
New photos have been posted on my flickr account. And more videos including the one posted below, can be viewed on my YouTube page.
Oh, and speaking of photographs, and the title of this post... Is Citibank trying to get me to stop using my credit card? They are offering lucky winners the chance to go on the road with Nickelback, all you have to do is use your Citibank credit card to enter. Sounds like a reason to use cash.
As I watch the evening news, I am constantly reminded that our economy is not doing so well. Last night, the local news reported a car dealership and a major hotel that was closing for the last time. Everyone is pointing the finger at everyone else to point the blame. The real problem, as people see it, lies with the fat cats on Wall Street, the crooked CEOs at AIG, the government, the banks who told us we can afford the biggest house in the neighborhood, etc... Few are actually standing up and taking a little blame for their current situations. But deep down, a lot of this problem falls on the individual. I was taught a lesson a long time ago about money and spending. It might sound simple, but if you want something, you should have the money to buy it. If you don't, you really should not buy it. Now, I know there are some things like houses and college educations that you might need, but don't have the money in hand to make that purchase, but those are exceptions. Yet, the house or college education you purchase don't have to be the top of the line, just the one you can afford on the means you have.
Sadly last night on Nightline, they reported that lottery ticket sales have been one of the few things that have actually increased in this current economy. They had one family who spends hundreds of dollars a week to purchase tickets, including driving across state lines to buy different tickets. They have had to make cuts to their family's spending, yet will not forgo the lottery tickets. Ironically, the guy just lost his job as a financial planner. Yet, they are not alone, if ticket sales are increasing like they are. Some people are just stupid, spending money they don't have on things they don't need. (I did however learn on the program my odds are better of dating a supermodel than winning the lottery, so I got that going for me.)
I passed this sign several times when I was out in California. It pretty much sums up part of the problem with the mindset of many Americans.
Really, if you can not afford to buy a pet with the cash in hand, I doubt a payment plan on a pet is your best option. Not only are you going to have a monthly payment for that pet, but you will also have extra expenses like food, shots, and the pet sitter. Sure, no money down on a dog sounds like a great deal, but in the end, it will probably just bite you in the butt.
So to sum up, if you can not afford it, go without it. It reminds me of this SNL skit.
I am still alive. The lack of internet has provided much time for good thought, but no way to update it. There is a lot I could say right now, but instead will just post one of my photos from the fall.
By the way, don't forget to vote. This is the first presidential election that I meet all the requirements to run for the position. So feel free to write me in if you are undecided, or just would like to impress me.
Ah, Labor Day. Nothing like a holiday to make you really appreciate the fact you have not worked a day in the last two months. Just remember, the unemployed do not get days off. Luckily for me, I was able to make myself handy these last few days, as one of my friends from my Germany days needed someone to ride along to California. I told her to pick the route, and I would provide driving assistance, musical entertainment, as well as find a few places along the way to make the trip memorable.
So she picked a southern route with three overnight stops in Amarillo, Grand Canyon Village, and Las Vegas. Day one was basically a haul of a drive with little stopping. We did stop to see the second largest cross in the Western Hemisphere. Sadly we could not stay long due to the hundreds of mosquitoes that attacked us. A little later we found ourselves at the Big Texan, home of the famous 72 ounce steak. I could barely finish my twenty-one ounce steak, so I could not imagine attempting to down the ole 72.
Day two found the spray paint mentioned in the last post to find use as we visited the Cadillac Ranch. We left our marks, and then left the remaining spray paint for some Germans who were there checking out the place.
Later that day as we neared Flagstaff there was a stop I need to make. I wanted to stand on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, just to Take It Easy.
A couple hours later, we stood on the edge of the Grand Canyon to watch the sunset. As we stood there, I overheard one lady say, "I can't wait to get back home and see how this looks on the computer." Dang, what has this world come to? We stand on the edge of a beautiful scene and think about how this will look on our digital picture frame. By the way, doesn't this look great on your computer?
The final night of the trip found us in Vegas. And while many hold to the old adage of "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," I will tell you at least one thing. I not only got to see Penn & Teller, but got my photo with them after the show.
And yes, they have now joined Nelson in the small number of celebrities I have given bunny ears to in photos.
Now I am sitting in Los Angeles for the next week, hanging with some old friends, making some new ones, and enjoying a fine little rental car I got.
This week the theme at PhotoFriday is "Rough." It has been a few weeks since I have posted a PhotoFriday entry, mostly because of the traveling. This one is from the last trip to the Philippines. These are some of the many bricks my team help build alongside the Habitat For Humanity crew. And only one thumb was damaged in the process.
It was a Fourth of July to remember. I joined Dave and his extended family at Surfside, California for some festivities. We started the day taking part in a parade. This isn't the first time we have taken part in a parade together, but I am kind of hoping it is the last. It was good times as we walked around the community to a backdrop of patriotic music.
After lunch we were all hanging out on the beach. At one point, several of us headed in to avoid any further sunburn. As we were sitting and talking, Dave noticed that many of the people outside were pointing and running. We jumped to the balcony to see a plane that had just crash landed in the ocean.
Oddly enough one of the others at the party had commented earlier about how dangerous those banner planes were.
Luckily, the pilot was able to touch down with minimal injuries to himself. He actually was able to walk away from the plane, although the lifeguards quickly assisted him.
For the next hour or so, we watched as the news media descended on the area. One even interviewed Dave's dad for the evening news. The authorities managed to pull the plane out of the water using a John Deer tractor. Then two lucky officers were able to spend their holiday guarding a plane, until it was taken away a few hours later.
Here is a news report on the crash. If you look hard enough in the second photo in the slide show, you can see me.
After that I enjoyed a fireworks display, hung out with some friends, and even had crazy story from Ryan's travels for a while. But really, it was all downhill after the plane hit the water.