Tuesday, September 30, 2008

World festivals, I Mysteri and Trapani


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Leaving on a jet plane

Today is the day we leave for Rome, the starting point of our trip.... all my bags are packed and waiting at the door for transportation to the airport. I leave with a heavy heart, worried about work when I'm not there. They'll manage, I have a good team, still I worry. I need to go to preserve my sanity. I'll be back, ready to work again. Vacations are important, especially one that takes you out of your daily routine and one that puts you in another time and place. This trip, as with other trips certainly will do that for me. We'll be traveling along the coast as far as Barcelona before flying to London. Not one day will be the same, that should do the job of refreshing the soul and the spirit. I'm planning to take 3 trips next year so the time between trips is not too far apart. This blog is still active while I'm gone. I've already scheduled the re-posting of some of the old stuff, details of our trip to Sicily last October.
I wish they'll make all their equipment standard, instead I have to lug all these equipment. All these equipment for 2 cameras, 2 battery chargers, plus the transformer (not in picture), 2 extra battery packs, extra memory card, USB cable, 2 lens for my new Nikon. This is getting serious. Before this blog I never imagine I'll be serious about photography. It's been a lot of fun, I'm learning a lot. I kept some of the packing material to wrap up the camera and lens in so I don't have to bring the huge and clunky carrying case.

The big smile on my face, who wouldn't be happy. I've worked so very hard. I'm ready....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My new camera

The dried out Hydrangea on the dinning table.
My neighbor's aloe vera plant.

Kind of blurr...

The zoom lens

The car across the street, taken with the zoom lens, this one's ok... I'm still figuring out my new camera, the results are mixed and disappointing, I think, from operator's error. That is why I'm playing with it so I get to know it and when I'm in Europe, I would have things down pat. I think I know where I went wrong. I'm still all thumbs trying to screw on the different lenses and I have to remember, clockwise is unscrewing it and anti clockwise is screwing it on, make sure the 2 white points are aligned (but there are a few white points and I managed to align the wrong white points), little things like that. Sigh! Give me back my little point and shoot.
I must not give up hope, I must not give up on myself......

Friday, September 12, 2008

Next trip, again

Getting ready again to leave in a week. It's been a really hectic week, so much to do before I leave. The next week is going to be hectic, I must have logged at least 50 hours last week, it won't be much different next week. I can only tolerate it because I'll be taking a vacation. I'm making a lot of money though, that's always nice. I'm selecting books to take to read on the trip. I remember one trip which I took by myself, I had to read aloud in the evening just so I can hear English being spoken. I think it was in France, I had been away 1 week without talking to anyone in English.
My moleskine and my color pencils, I hope to be doing some sketching. I always write in the evening, it's easier to write each day. I hope I can buy some water colors while there, and of course take lots and lots of pictures.

My hotel reservations and guide books, I don't bring the guide books, they're too heavy but I need to write down the details on how to get to each hotel. We'll be staying at hostel Papa Germano again, my third time, I can find my way easily, it's a few blocks from Roma Termini. Oh yes, I have to make reservations with a company in Rome for one of their guided tours of the Vatican museum. I've seen it before but Sophie hasn't. It'll be nice to see it again especially with a guide.

I pack very light, just a small case and another bag, I hope to be doing some shopping. My photographic equipment will take up all the space. Besides my little point and shoot, a Sony Cybershot, I bought a new camera, my first DSLR.....

Money, my leftover currencies, my leftover English pounds and leftover euros, hard to imagine I have money leftover but I do. I always keep it for the next trip, I'm always going to Europe anyway.

My new camera, here am I unpacking it after it arrived in the mail. Wow, I love it, I've been learning how to use it. It's really easy and fun, I'm excited about taking it out on the road. It comes with a stock lens and I bought a zoom lens too.

So many pieces to it.....

It's a Nikon D60, kind of compact because I was worried about weight and size. I didn't want a bigger one, I'm already carrying too much, I love to travel as light as I possibly can. So I have 2 extra battery packs for 2 cameras, 2 chargers, my transformer set, I'll have 2 cameras hanging from my neck and the zoom lens for the Nikon. I hope I can manage it. This is going to be really interesting.

I'm excited. It's always fun to go to Europe. I'll be re-publishing some of the posts about our trip last October while I'm away. It's scary to think it's been a year. Time is really flying, so I gotta go, go and go. My last trip was in March this year when I took my 2 nieces to Italy. Don't wait, do it now.... read 'The last lecture'.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9-11 remembered

The following is a documentary about the 7 days following the 9-11 attacks.... the film speaks for itself..... it's a very powerful remembrance of the event itself and the 7 days following.... a must watch. There were some anger, especially from the lady who finally made it back to her lower Manhattan apartment.... 'may those f-------- people rot in hell'. That should be the right reaction, not the kumbaya stuff.
God bless America.

7 days in september, 9-11 remembered

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blogs of note

Blogger.com or Blogspot.com is the site I'm publishing under. They have something called 'blogs of note' meaning they feature exceptional looking blogs. I have yet to make that list but I have my own list. While I don't have a blog roll yet, I do view other people's blogs. Sometimes I find my own exceptional ones, not so much because their photographs is exceptional, it's easy these days with an expensive DSLR camera but more for their content, again, not because the writing is exceptional, more because of the subject matter. I read Sicilyscene very often, she writes from Modica, Sicily and I want to know what's going on in Sicily. I read a few others every now and then and I'm constantly looking for new ones.
I was flipping through a magazine called 'Artful Blogging' and found this cute blog called Carolinescrayons (http://carolinescrayons.blogspot.com). I've been interested in sketching for the past 3 years. While I do check out some art blogs every now and then and have found some really talented people, this one is different, she tells a story in her art and they are really amusing. I found myself chuckling the whole time I was viewing her blog. You should check it out. It is fun and you'll be inspired. I do read other blogs to get inspired. When you see people doing exceptional work, You'll be inspired to rave up your own game. I know that's what it does to me.
Maybe one day I will have a blog roll, that is a list of blogs that I read frequently. I don't know why I don't have one yet. I recently installed a 'feedjit' widget, that's what you are seeing on the right side, people who are checking out this blog and where they are viewing it from. When I saw that, I was so excited. It's been a lot of fun and still being a lot of fun.

Monday, September 08, 2008


Villa Palagonia, Bagheria, Sicily.
Piazza Amerina, Sicily

Me, eating an arancino in Catania, Sicily

Leaving Trapani, leaving the west side of Sicily.

The ancient city of Erice, Sicily

A misty morning in Erice. The sky let loose soon after that and we drenched. The wind was so strong that it blew the umbrella away. This raincoat was stolen a week later in Provence, France. This was a trip we'll never forget, October 2007. I love Sicily, that was our second trip there in 2007. I'm planning to go back in 2010. Next years' trips are all taken up by other places in the world, too many places, too little time.
I'm going to re-post some of the old stuff, when I'm gone, click on the link to read the post. It saves everyone time and effort in going back to November 2007. I'm going to schedule each posting every other day, so that they'll always be something on even when I'm gone.
I'll be gone 2 weeks, heading first to Rome, the,
It's a strange itinerary that I made up. Sophie, my sister in law and partner in crime is coming along. We're both looking forward to it very much.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Rest is of the utmost importance to me, rest and sleep. I love to take littles naps on my days off. I shun people so I can take time off to rest. It's just me and my thoughts and it's a great luxury that I treasure. I'm going to snooze now.......

Thursday, September 04, 2008


A Labor day BBQ, a family affair, a hands on family affair. While we spend so much of our time and energy at work, we can so easily forget our family. We come home, spent and devoid of enthusiasm, there is often nothing left of us for our families. We, Americans, work so much harder and for so much less time off, more so now than ever before, now that the costs of everything has gone up so much. I was tempted to just veg out this Labor day but I decided, no, time spent with family must not be sacrificed. So here we are, in my back yard, having a cook out. We chatted about the current business climate, the current political Presidential race and so on. We chipped in to cook and we ate together. It was great. These pictures goes out to our families who live in other countries. While I may not have the biggest readership, this blog does go out by email to family members in London and Malaysia. Even though we are not together, we are together in spirit and I'll be seeing some of the London families in 2 weeks time. Greetings from the USA.
A pot of blueberries being readied for making of the annual summer pudding.
Sophie, chipping in, to do some of the cooking.

My kitchen, with the dated yellow and black tiles, no, I have no plans to update it.

Ashely and my 2 brothers doing the outdoor cooking.

The very gooey summer pudding, I layered the bread this time instead of the usual lining the pudding bowl with the bread. It works, I saw it in a magazine.

Almost gone......

Almost gone........

Andiamo, manjari.... (I think that's how its spelt) Let's eat.

A very cosmopolitan meal, English summer pudding, Italian pasta, American BBQ, all served with chopsticks?

Don't bother me, I'm working through my dessert.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Re-posting, a trial run



While my energy level is sputtering, I have to maximise on everything,
- work a lot because in a few short years, I wounldn't be able to handle the frenetic pace in the pharmacy. Looking at young people today, they seem to be less energetic, I guess, time is on their side. Time is not on my side, to quote Michael Savage, 'there's more sand in the bottom of the hour glass.' The demands are not only mental, they are also physical, being on my feet 11+ hours a day. I'm lucky is I can squeeze out 5 minutes to eat. Over the past 30+ years, I've eaten lunches on my feet most of the time. Who in their right mind would want a job like this? Probably people not in their right mind, people who need their heads examined. Mind you, I have a lot of recruiters begging me to leave for an easier job. I guess, the swift pace can be addicting, just like drugs. Oh my God, I should be in rehab. Maybe when I retire I have to seek help to slow down and get over the addictive effects of a fast pace work life. I know it, I feel it, I need help to slow down. I need therapy.
- I have to maximise on travel while I still have that fat paycheck. Even as I prepare to travel on September 14, I'm already planning the next trip after that and next years itineraries. I was checking into airfares, they're not cheap. I used to balk when British Air charges $200 for taxes and other surcharges. This trip, I'm paying $742. Next year, it's up to $882. This is not the airfare, this is the taxes and surcharges tagged onto the airfare.
So when I'm abroad, I'm running, trying to squeeze as much into the trip as possible. We, poor Americans, we work so much harder than our European counterparts. I'm beginning to see a lot of Europeans visiting the US, they come into the pharmacy looking for odds and ends.
The funniest request I've had was from an Italian couple, water purifying tablets and they were not even going camping. They want to purify the Los Angeles city water to use for washing the fruits his pregnant wife is going to eat. We used to have the safest food supply, one just bite into some fruit or vegetable without thinking twice. Not anymore, with tainted spinach, scallions, tomatoes, jalapenos and whatever else, one might just die or get seriously ill with the vegetables we have now in the markets and the restaurants. Even visitors from abroad are suspicious of our food supply. I told them they can use bottled water to wash their fruits and brush their teeth with bottled water, if they're really squeamish. Do you have to this in China or India, I wonder?
I digress.
There's a need for me to conserve energy, and I don't mean electricity, though I do..... when I'm home I veg out....