Thursday, October 20, 2016


It's about time I posted a few photos from Iceland.  I need to write a little about the trip sometime. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Singer Songwriter

When I was younger I never had crushes on TV or movie stars.  Still don’t.  Just now for this post I tried to think of the name of any TV or movie star I thought was attractive.  I could not think of any.  That might say more about my memory or the fact I am terrible with names but I think it’s because I have never found a TV or movie star attractive enough to bother to remember their name.  If asked while watching a movie if I find the actress good looking or not I’m sure there are plenty I would answer “yes she’s good looking.”  But I view the characters in movies as fake and therefore I don’t find them attractive.  Although they might be good looking, I can tell nothing about who they really are by watching their movies.  Just not attracted to make-believe characters.  To find someone attractive I need to know something about them.  Simply being good looking will not do.    

潘越雲 Performing in a Taipei hotel lounge June 18, 1983.
Singer songwriters are different.  I have found many singer songwriters attractive.  It must be because they share their stories, feelings and emotions in their songs and it’s like I get to know them a little. I know it’s impossible to really get to know someone through the songs they write and sing but it’s a lot more to go on than someone pretending to be someone else in front of a camera.  

I still find many singer songwriters attractive but when I was younger you could go as far as saying I had a crush on one, 潘越雲 (Pan Yue-Yun).  When I was 21 I spent the summer in Taiwan.  I bought many cheap pirated cassette tapes in hopes of finding some Chinese artists that I liked.  To help learn Chinese I would translate the lyrics of songs I particularly liked.  It didn’t take long to discover 潘越雲 and she soon became my favorite.  She has a beautiful voice and if I remember correctly she wrote many of the songs she sang.  I not only bought pirated tapes of all her albums (so I could listen to them on an old cassette player I had in Taiwan), but I also bought official vinyl copies of all her albums so I could listen to good quality recordings when I got back home.  

One day while on a bus in Taipei I spotted her name written on a sign outside a hotel.  I quickly read the rest of the sign the best I could.  She was going to be performing at this hotel the following week.  I don’t remember if I got off the bus at the next stop and went to the hotel or just jotted down the name of the hotel and called them later.  I do remember inquiring about tickets.  I wanted to make sure I got to see her.  I was told there were no tickets and she would be performing in the hotel lounge.  She was a very popular star in Taiwan.  Everyone knew who she was.  I often heard her songs playing in stores and I watched her music videos on TV in the evenings.  I worried that I would not be able to get into the show.  

On the day of the show I was prepared.  I got there very early.  I brought along my camera as well as one of her albums and a marker in case I got the opportunity for an autograph.  The lounge was not very big and just a few people were there.  I took a seat at a bar that wrapped around the piano and stage.  I figured I better order something to eat or drink.  I got the cheapest thing they had, fried rice and tea.  I ate as slow as I possible could to kill time before the performance started.  The lounge never did fill up.  There were probably no more than a dozen people there when 潘越雲 came out to perform.  She sat at the piano just a few feet away but played the guitar.  I thought she would be singing songs from her albums but she didn't perform any of her hit songs.  Her set consisted of only western songs all sung in English.  Her voice was amazing and I appreciated her talents even more when I saw she played guitar too.  

When she stood up to walk off stage I held out the album and in Chinese asked her if I could get an autograph.  She said yes but but she needed to put her guitar away first.  A minute later she came out and sat next to me and asked me something.  What I was doing in Taiwan, how did I learn Chinese or something like that.  I was not expecting this.  I was  so nervous and tongue tied.  I had no idea what to say.  I know we spoke a little.  Some in English, some in Chinese.  Mostly I remember the thoughts racing through my head “What should I say… what should I do… stop shaking… come on say something… ask her something…ahhh, what should I say!”  I’m pretty sure whatever I did say was uninteresting and a bit incoherent.  After a few minutes I got the impression she just gave up trying to have a conversation with me.  She autographed the album, thanked me for coming to the show and went backstage.  
My head was still spinning but I knew I was an idiot.  “Why didn’t you say something intelligent? Why couldn’t you ask her a thoughtful question?  Why didn’t you just offer to buy her a drink? You're such a fool!”  

Autographed album cover
She was scheduled to perform at the same hotel later that month as well.  On my 22nd birthday I went to see her perform again.  It went pretty much like the first show except I didn’t bring my camera or an album.  There weren’t many people at that show either and I’ve never understood why.  I didn’t say anything to her when the show ended.  Even after days of thinking about it I still didn’t know what to say to her and I knew I would still be so flustered nothing would come out right no matter how much I rehearsed it.  

As I was leaving the hotel a bellboy stopped me near the front door and started talking to me.  Just then 潘越雲 walked by escorted by two men who looked like body guards. She slowed, looked over her shoulder, caught my eye and said “再見” (see you later).  

My knees buckled.  

The bellboy was impressed.  “You know her!”  

I watched her walk out, get into a waiting car and disappear in to the night.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rapa Nui

With the fantastic native name of Rapa Nui, I don't know why anyone would call it Easter Island.
 Ahu Tongariki at Sunrise

Rano Raraku

Ranu Kao

 Most of the Moai and Ahu look like this now.

  Ahu Tongariki as seen from Rano Raraku.

 The remains of one of the roads or tracks used to move the moai.

 View from Orongo

  Ahu Tongariki

 Many of the moai never made it to their ahu and are left laying all over Rapa Nui.

Rano Raraku - the "Factory" or "Nursery" where the moai were carved.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Torres del Paine NP, Chile

Here are a few photos of Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

Los Cuernos del Paine from Lake Grey

Glacier Grey

Morning view of Torres del Paine from EcoCamp

On the trail to the towers base

It was foggy and snowing when we got to the base of the towers. We couldn't see the towers. After eating lunch we were wet and cold and the group decided to head back. As we packed up it began to clear a little. I waited around as the others headed down the trail. It did clear up and soon the others were back with me taking pictures.  

I enjoyed everything about Torres del Paine and would love to go back. However what I enjoyed most was the people I met at EcoCamp. I usually don't join tours or groups when traveling but I might start doing it more often. I met awesome people from around the world. I wish all the people I met at EcoCamp were my neighbors. I do like to think of them as neighbors. Just wish we could all get to get together for dinner again.  


Monday, December 28, 2015

Empanadas and Airport Coaching

This seems like an unlikely photo to post especially as the first photo of my recent trip to Chile and Argentina.  I took this photo to remind me of the kind people who help me while traveling.  I know most of the people I meet are in the tourism industry so it’s their job to help visitors.  But I still appreciate it very much.  I can’t believe how many of them say “Sorry my English is not very good.”  I should be the one apologizing for visiting their country when I don’t know who to say much more than hola, gracias and el baño por favor.  Still it seems many of them go beyond what is expected.  I went into a little coffee shop in Puerto Natales with a few hours before the next bus to Punta Arenas.  I didn’t have many options as it was just after 3:00 p.m. and most of the restaurants were closed.  I looked over the pastries and menu on the wall the best I could before sitting down.  I was hoping for an empanada but didn’t see any.  I asked the young man behind the counter if they had any empanadas. He said no.  I sat down anyways and ordered a cup of coffee.  Shortly after I sat down the young man brought me this note directing me to a bakery that had empanadas.  

Later in my travels I was helped out quite a bit at the airport in Santiago.  One guy literally went the extra mile for me (or at least a 100 meters or so).  I wrote this the next morning (December 11, 2015) at the airport in Bogota.

My flight from Rapa Nui to Santiago was delayed about 2 1/2 hours.  That left me with less than 1 hour to make an international connection to Bogota.  When the plane landed in Santiago at 12:40 a.m. I impatiently waited to get off.  No one else seemed to be in a hurry.  When I got out of the plane everyone was meandering down the exit hallways and it was nearly impossible to pass anyone because I was carrying two backpacks (weighing around 50 pounds), one over each shoulder making me twice as wide as usual.  Fortunately I had no checked bags.  As the hallways widened I raced passed everyone, taking stairs where possible and looking for signs leading to departures.  

I ended up at the baggage claim and didn’t see a clearly marked exit.  There was no one to follow because everyone was just getting there and the luggage had not started to come out.  No one was leaving.  I saw a lady at a help desk.  I went over and she was on the phone.  I waited a few minutes for her to finish then asked where to go for Avianca check-in.  She said to go outside then up to the third floor and motioned towards some doors.  I walked to the doors and outside as quickly as I could.  When I got outside I found myself on the tarmac  underneath airplanes.  No one else around.  I tried to go back in but the doors were locked.  I walked to my right but there was a high chain link fence with barbed wire on the top.  I went the other way.  It looked like another baggage claim area but no one was there and those doors were locked too.  I went back and began knocking on the doors I came out of to see if anyone would let me in.  The people waiting for bags just looked at me as if I were a security threat.  Finally the lady that gave me directions saw me and came over to let me in.  She said “I told you to go outside” and pointed to a hairpin turn at the entrance of the baggage claim that was still in the building and definitely wasn't “outside.”  But I didn’t have time to explain to her what “outside” meant to me.  I know she just meant outside the baggage claim area anyways.  

I thanked her and ran off through the crowd of people waiting for arriving passengers many holding signs with names on them.  A number of men jumped in front of me one after another “Taxi?”  I pushed my way through the crowd to the stairs and ran up to the third floor.  I didn’t have time to search for the Avianca counter and spotted an information booth.  The lady told me to go to counters 8 thru 15 at the other end of the corridor.  I walked as quickly as I could through the crowds.  My backpacks bumping into people about every other step.  “Sorry.”  “Excuse me.”  I really need to learn more Spanish.  When I got to counters 8-15 I saw the Avianca signs and went straight to the counters through the first class lane.  There was no one at the counters.  I walked up and down passed counters 8 to 15.  Each one had a closed sign posted.  I looked around for anyone who might work for Avianca but didn’t see anyone.  I had no idea what to do.  I looked around for another help booth.  I didn’t see one but did see check-in kiosks.  I began the process.  Selected English.  Reservation number?  I reached for my phone and opened the file with my reservation number and typed it in.  My flight info came up on the screen.  Great!  Then I pressed next and got the message “This flight is closed.”  No!  I tried it again scanning my passport this time knowing it wouldn’t change anything but I didn’t know what else to do.  I forgot to select English so the message was in Spanish.  I tried scanning my passport again after selecting English.  My flight info came up again.  Next.  “This flight is closed.” 

Not knowing what to do I ran back to the other end of the corridor to the information booth.  The attendant was busy going through a backpack with a security guard.  She was spraying dirty shoes and clothes with something.  The guard said something to me that I felt meant “What do you need.”  I started to speak.  He interrupted “English” and pointed to the attendant.  After a few more sprays she turned to me.  

"I need a boarding pass for Avianca but no one is at the counters."
She said “Counters 8-15” and pointed to the other end of the corridor.  
“No one is at the counters, they are closed.”  
“Just go to the gate.”  
“But I don’t have a boarding pass.”  
“It doesn’t matter.  Go to the gate.  Hurry.”  

I jogging to the other end of the corridor dodging people standing around and whacking a few with my backpacks.  I didn’t know where to go but at the far end I notice a sign that said international departures.  A man at the doorway asked for my boarding pass.  I said I didn’t have one and showed him my reservation information on my phone.  He waved me on and said “Run.”  

I ran to the only customs desk with someone there.  There were no lines.  No one else was in the room.   The man asked me for my boarding pass and passport.  I handed him my passport and said I don’t have a boarding pass while showing him the reservation info on my phone.  He stamped my passport and said “Run.”  I asked which way and he pointed to my left.  

I ran down a hallway and came to a security screening area.  At first it looked like no one was there.  I saw a few people standing by the last x-ray machine.  As I was racing through the empty maze some guy stopped me and said something in Spanish and pointed behind me indicating I did something wrong.  I looked back but saw nothing.  I started forward again.  He raised his voice and repeated what he had said and pointed behind me.  I looked back but couldn’t figure out what he was pointing at.  I gave him a confused gesture.  A man at the x-ray machine waved to me to come over so I just ran passed the man and he didn’t say anything else.  I threw my packs on the conveyor. At the exit side of the machine a guy asked me for my boarding pass.  I told him “I don’t have one.”  He grabbed my passport and asked which airline.  “Avianca.”  He then asked my name.  I told him and he repeated it into a radio.  

He said “Gate 11, you’ve got to run.”  
“I will but I don’t know where gate 11 is.”
“I’ll go with you, run!”  

We ran down a zigzag walkway passed duty free shops and restaurants.  While we were running he asked me my name 2 or 3 more times.  Each time I told him and he repeated it into his radio.  Then he asked what my final destination was.  I said between breaths “Salt Lake City, USA.”  We ran passed gate 11A and onto a gate that I could see no sign as to what gate it was.  Two attendances were standing by a small counter.  It was very dark almost all the lights in that area were turned off.  The guy running with me handed one attendant my passport.  I didn’t even realize I didn’t have it.  The attendant asked for my boarding pass.  “I don’t have one.”  They quickly printed the boarding passes for my next 3 flights.  Handing them to me along with my passport he says “Run to the airplane.”  I ran down 4 ramps to the plane and at the door a man asks for my boarding pass.  “Yes, I have that!”  As I walk to the back of the plane breathing and sweating like I had just run 400 meters with 50 pounds on my back a flight attendant checks my boarding pass.  There was a problem, my seat was already taken.  

She pointed to an isle seat with no one sitting next to it and asks “Will that seat do?”  
“Would you like a glass of water?” 
“Yes. Gracias.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Transitive Property of Mistaken Twins

In high school many people thought my best friend Charlie and I were twins.  We got a kick out of this but couldn’t understand why people we went to school with would think we were twins.  We were the same height, had the same build and had many of the same clothes.  We both had long hair and played guitar and got good grades but that’s about where the similarities ended.  Charlie had dark brown hair and mine was blonde.  Everyone liked Charlie especially the girls and why not, he was good looking, always happy, smiling, fun to be around and talked to everyone (all of that is still true).  Most people didn’t know who I was.  I was too serious, didn’t smile much and didn’t talk to many people.  I was simply known as that kid who hangs out with Charlie.  A few girls did talk to me but just to get info about Charlie and they hoped I would let him know that they liked him.  The girls I went out with all really liked Charlie and went on dates with me just to be close to Charlie and to keep track of him because we often went on double dates.  Now I’m not feeling sorry for myself, just pointing out that we were different in many ways.  We thought it was absurd that anyone could mistake us for twins.  

After high school Charlie went to Taiwan on a church mission.  I had to take a second language in collage so I picked Chinese because Charlie was learning Chinese and I thought it would be fun to speak the same second language as my best friend.  In one of Charlie’s letters he told me about another missionary from England who’s Chinese name was Sung.  Many people in Taiwan mistook him and Elder Sung as twins.  Charlie thought it was strange that in high school the two of us were mistaken for twins when we didn’t look alike and in Taiwan there was a bloke from England that was being mistaken for his twin.  

I enjoyed Chinese classes so much that I continued to study Chinese all through collage and ended up with a second major in Asian Studies.  Anyways, 2 or 3 years after Charlie returned from Taiwan I was spending the summer in Taiwan.  One afternoon I was at a beach near Danshui northwest of Taipei.  I was wandering around looking for shells when a group of girls came running up to me yelling “Elder Sung! Elder Sung! Hello Elder Sung!”  I couldn’t believe it.  I never met Elder Sung but I knew exactly who they were talking about.  I explained to the excited group of girls that I wasn’t who they thought I was but rather I was a friend of Charlie’s (who they also knew).  I told them that back home many people thought Charlie and I were twins and in Taiwan many people mistook Charlie and Elder Sung as twins.  So if me and Charlie could be mistaken as twins and Charlie and Elder Sung could be mistaken as twins then Elder Sung and I must look like twins too.  They agreed.  

Transitive Property of Equality: If a = b and b = c, then a = c.

I don’t see it but Charlie and I must look like twins.  
Seems like the wind has been blowing every time Charlie and I get our picture taken together lately.
Maybe I should just grow my hair long again.