Monday, July 31, 2017

Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Size, color, head, beak, tail, wings: How would you identify this bird? It's an inhabitant of the ruins at Tulum and a close friend of the spirit of place: genius Yucantanus. Genius is a Latin word meaning "attendant spirit." Everybody has one, and so does every place. [2015]

Sunday, July 30, 2017

London, England, UK

If you are traveling and looking to immerse yourself in new cultures, try going to church. It's a way of getting to know the locals. But, if you happen find yourself at All Souls Church on a Sunday morning, the locals are from all over the world. It's just another reminder that London is one of only a few truly global cities. [2011]

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In the foreground: King Father Norodom Sihanouk's Memorial, completed 2013. In the background: the Independence Monument, completed in 1958. Farther away: the skyline of the new Phnom Penh, still under construction. [2016]

Friday, July 28, 2017

Bang Plee, Thailand

Stacked high, as they are around most ports, these shipping containers facilitate intermodal transport. They move easily from ship to truck without "breaking bulk." The shipping container revolutionized the world of international commerce just as the goat revolutionized human adaptability to rugged environments ten thousand years ago. [2016]

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

It doesn't matter that garlic was introduced from China, it is now a tried and true part of Indonesian cuisine. Just imagine what you could do with garlic in a country that includes the fabled Spice Islands. In reality, though, she is probably just getting ready to make some fried rice, Indonesian style, or maybe some clear vegetable soup. [2016]

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

The roasted pig isn't for the family. It's for the ancestors. Only the wealthiest can afford such lavish offerings on Ghost Day, and nothing impresses the departed souls (or the neighbors) more than a suckling pig feasting on joss paper (on the table and in the bags) as a stand in for corn meal. [2016]

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

Joss paper (traditionally made from bamboo or rice) is everywhere on Ghost Day, especially in Singapore's Chinatown neighborhood. It is burned as an offering to the dead. It looks like she is burning bundles of Hell Bank Notes so that her departed ancestors have something to spend in the afterlife. [2016]

Monday, July 24, 2017

Singapore, Republic of Singapore

How do you honor, serve and feed your distant ancestors in Buddhist and Taoist East Asia? You put food out for them during the Hungry Ghost Festival. It takes place on Ghost Day, which occurs sometime in August or September each year. Four out of ten Singaporeans are Buddhist or Taoist, so displays like this abound. [2016]

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tampa, Florida, USA

In 1993, the age of dinosaurs returned with the Recyclosaurus, a new species perfectly suited to the 21st century. Built of cheap recycled materials, the rex has served as an unmissable roadside reminder of environmental stewardship. Originally, his belly was filled with trash. [2017]

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Rhyolite, Nevada, USA

Occupying a nosey little cook in the Nevada desert, a mike and his baster stand. A well-boiled icicle is what he needs right now. If this makes no sense to you, remember it is national Spoonerism Day, and the opening clause is attributed to Rev. William Spooner himself. Transnation leeded? [2016]

Friday, July 21, 2017

Cortland, New York, USA

Let the races begin. Even though election day is well over a year away, 2018 has incumbents on the defensive. Evidence? Signs like this are appearing all across the country, and this is probably not the only one to be in front of a local VFW. "Only you can vote for hope, change, and get America back! Vote Heath for Congress." [2017]

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Pine Grove, Pennsylvania, USA

Purpley Grime or Pinkly Prime?
Tea Time or Tiring Rhyme?
Wish-It-Were-Mine or Aesthetic Crime? [2017]

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Rincón, Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands

Bon bini na Rincón! It's the island's oldest settlement. When the Spanish arrived, they evacuated Bonaire's native inhabitants to Hispaniola. When they returned to the island, they planted a settlement in the northern valley and called it Rincón. Today, quite in contrast to Kralendijk on the coast, Rincón has a definite Spanish feel about it. [2017]

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Saksaywaman, Peru

The fortress of Saksaywaman was built to protect the Inca's capital city, Cuzco. The Andesite stones here, as in Cuzco, were put together without mortar, and they are some of the largest ever used in pre-Columbian America.The igneous rock we call Andesite (not as light as rhyolite and not as dark as basalt) gets its name from the Andes. [2001]

Monday, July 17, 2017

Panama City, Panama

In the 16th century what as the most important European city on the Pacific coast of the New World? Panama. The ruins are now known as Panama Viejo. The Spanish needed a city here so they could haul Inca wealth across the isthmus and back to the Old World. A pirate attack in 1671 finally did it in, but the new Panama City was built only a few miles away. [2017]

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Cohimar, Cuba

It seems that Earnest Hemingway (see the bust?) has been kidnapped by the Cubans. Sites associated with his life are marketed all over the Havana area, including the fishing village of Cohimar, the setting for The Old Man and the Sea. Yes, the anti-capitalist nation of Cuba has been very successful in capitalizing on their adopted son. [2014]

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Rock Sound, Eleuthera, The Bahamas

You're standing deep underground looking up at the mouth of  a sinkhole. In the Bahamas, these features are known as 'blue holes.' Wherever they occur, they are emblematic of the chemical weathering associated with karst topography. The carbonic acid in rainfall easily dissolves carbonate rocks such as limestone. [2014]

Friday, July 14, 2017

Ik Kil, Yucatan, Mexico

You are standing on the Earth's surface looking down into a sinkhole that is partially filled with water. See the swimmers reflecting the sunshine as it tries to penetrate the underworld? Features like these, called cenotes in Mexico, dot the Yucatan. They're emblematic of karst landscapes in the wet tropics. [2013]

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Oranjestad, Aruba

Taoist Tai Chi Societies have become avenues for spreading one element of Chinese culture around the world: a balance and movement regimen that strengthens both body and mind. The roots of Tai Chi go back to the 4th century B.C. and the teachings of the Chinese 'Grand Master' Lao-Tsu. Recognize yin and yang? [2017]

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA

Summer is the time to enjoy butterfly gardens. If you don't have one in your back yard, find one near you or on your travels. This one is at the Jekyll Island welcome center. Species? It's a Gulf fritillary, one of the Monarch's cousins. [2010]

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Fort Defiance, Virginia, USA

The retaining wall is necessary because there's a cemetery on the other side. But, why not take advantage of the empty space and be creative? The wall has become a perfect place for the graduating classes of the local high school to glorify their community. The job of glorifying God is left to the crosses on the heavenly side of Fort Defiance. [2017]

Monday, July 10, 2017

Lancaster, Ohio, USA

The original Calvary was right outside the gate into Jerusalem. Over more than three decades, however, what we have seen is the expansion of 'calvaries' all over the American landscape: thanks to a penitent soul who had three million dollars to invest in the project. [2017]

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Pensacola Beach, Florida, USA

Here's one cross that should prepare for the end of times. The evidence is writ large on the landscape: bare sand seaside, stabilizing sand fences, and barriers to entry. Already the high dunes on either side are gone, victims of too much foot traffic and too many storms. As for the cross, it commemorates a worship service that took place in 1599. [2017]

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

The games are played inside Philadelphia's Municipal Services Building, but the game pieces are outside on the plaza. Here, Parcheesi takes center stage, but you might also recognize checkers and chess. Somebody better tell her that it's her move. [2017]

Friday, July 7, 2017

Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Tragelaphus imberbis is famous for his two-and-a-half twists. A cousin of his with less than 2-1/2 made the news last spring. As reported by CBS Denver: "'Fred.' the Lesser Kudu, passes away at Denver Zoo." At 15, he had maxed out his lifetime and was suffering from arthritis. "Rest in Peace beautiful Fred" wrote one of the zoo's loyalists. [2014]

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Cincinnati, Ohio. USA

Lemur catta hail from Madagascar, but this troop has found a home at the Cincinnati Zoo. Unfortunately, their brothers and sisters are sometimes illegally sold as pets. From a headline in The Guardian last year: "Stray ring-tailed lemur finds temporary home at Sacramento zoo." Zoo officials believe he was an escapee from the illegal wildlife trade. [2013]

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Tampa, Florida, USA

Ursus americanus is the world's most common species of bear. They're so common along the east coast, they sometimes upset their human neighbors. Headlines from the Virginian-Pilot last week: "Large Black Bear is Worrying Virginia Beach Neighborhoods." Why can't they just stay in the Great Dismal where they belong? [2016]

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Sisseton, South Dakota, USA

The Declaration of Independence was put out there by the "united States of America." It was signed on July 4, 1776, two hundred and forty one years ago today. Two months later, the Continental Congress declared that what used to be called the United Colonies would henceforth be called the United States. [2007]

Monday, July 3, 2017

Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, USA

What happened after we lost the World Trade Center to terrorist attack in 2001? American flags started popping up all over the country. Our 'star spangled banner' belongs to us, the people. It doesn't belong to the government. We do with it what we want. [2002]

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Carrboro, North Carolina, USA

July is the time to be patriotic, and there is nothing more patriotic than flying the stars and stripes. Whether you are liberal or conservative, fly the American flag this week. Don't let the United States of America become the Untied States of America. [2005]

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Brașov, Romania

Americans sometimes wrap themselves in the American flag: both figuratively and literally. But, why would a Romanian do the same thing? Because he loves US, of course! Unless you've traveled around the world you have no idea how much respect the United States commands everywhere. Our job now is to keep it that way. [2014]