Category - travel

Container Ship and Rainbow

It was mostly cloudy here in the Pacific Northwest yesterday. We spent much of the day just driving around, exploring.

After an early supper by the fire pit at Doc’s Seaside Grill, we came back to our parapet here on Morgan Hill, overlooking Puget Sound and Whidby Island in the distance.

While we were sitting here absorbed in our screens, the clouds lifted in the final minutes before sunset; suddenly everything around us was filled with golden hues.

We jumped up and looked out the windows and lo-and-behold, a faint rainbow formed a full arch… we could see both ends across the Sound.

And then a container ship passed through one end of the rainbow.  There must be a lot of gold in those containers…

Reporting in from the Pacific Northwest

Dear Readers,

I’m a little behind the 8-ball this week.

Ann and I have been traveling for the past week… we’ve come up to Portland, Oregon to visit her sons and our granddaughter  who will turn one-year-old this coming weekend.  So there has not been a lot of time to write and comment despite all the weird and disturbing shit that’s been going on in the world in the past few days.

For the past few days, we’ve been on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, staying in a charming turreted rooftop AirBnB in the seaside “Victorian and Arts Community” of Port Townsend.

Yesterday we rode a ferry across a channel from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria, BC.  It seemed oddly appropriate to be exploring a foreign country on the night that Donald Trump seems to have secured the Republican nomination and will apparently spend the next 6 months a mere one bracket away from the Oval office.  Of that pending calamity I had this to say on Facebook last night:

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 6.57.14 AM

…and I will perhaps have more to say in the future but until then I encourage My Faithful to read this assessment of the current climate by Andrew Sullivan, who has finally emerged from a long period of solitude to finally shed some light:

And so, as I chitchatted over cocktails at a Washington office Christmas party in December, and saw, looming above our heads, the pulsating, angry televised face of Donald Trump on Fox News, I couldn’t help but feel a little nausea permeate my stomach.

What is most compelling (for me) about Andrew’s analysis is that he recognizes the profound role that our shifting media environment has had on a once-familiar political process:

What the 21st century added to this picture, it’s now blindingly obvious, was media democracy — in a truly revolutionary form. If late-stage political democracy has taken two centuries to ripen, the media equivalent took around two decades, swiftly erasing almost any elite moderation or control of our democratic discourse…

…as Facebook and Twitter took hold, everyone became a kind of blogger. In ways no 20th-century journalist would have believed, we all now have our own virtual newspapers on our Facebook newsfeeds and Twitter timelines — picking stories from countless sources and creating a peer-to-peer media almost completely free of editing or interference by elites. This was bound to make politics more fluid….

The web was also uniquely capable of absorbing other forms of media, conflating genres and categories in ways never seen before. The distinction between politics and entertainment became fuzzier; election coverage became even more modeled on sportscasting; your Pornhub jostled right next to your mother’s Facebook page….

In the end, all these categories were reduced to one thing: traffic, measured far more accurately than any other medium had ever done before.

And what mainly fuels this is precisely what the Founders feared about democratic culture: feeling, emotion, and narcissism, rather than reason, empiricism, and public-spiritedness.

That’s more than enough excerpting to demonstrate what I have contended all along, that this is a “McLuhanist” election cycle.  The medium IS the message, and we are seeing a process that has been transformed by the way that information is gathered and disseminated through the electorate.  Sullivan brilliantly demonstrates the opportunity this unique slice of time has presented for just the right kind of whackadoodle demagogue.

Anyway, I’m traveling and haven’t had a lot of actual keyboard time during the expedition.

The photo at the top of this post, which I made yesterday, is from the interior of this magnificent edifice, the British Columbia Parliament Building in Victoria:

It's called "The Legislatures Building" and it is where the British Columbia Parliament conducts its business.

It’s called “The Legislatures Building” and it is where the British Columbia Parliament conducts its business.

We were on the ground floor, looking up through three-stories at the inside of the rotunda and dome above. There was a display in the very center of the space below the rotunda, so I couldn’t get in the center and look up; I had to hold the camera in my outstretched hand and aim it up, and could only see what I was doing from the flipped-out LCD screen. Ordinarily I would have been tempted to shoot a perfectly symmetrical image, but I actually like the way this turned out better than that perspective probably would have.

Anyway, that’s the news from the Pacific Northwest.  Tomorrow we go back to Portland, this weekend we celebrate Juniper’s first birthday, and we’ll be back in Tennessee late Tuesday night.

Thanks for tuning in.

Today in #GameOfThrones #GoT
Middleham Castle – Yorkshire, England

Before I went to the UK in the fall of 2014, I spent a little time learning how to make 360º panoramic photos (via Skype) from a guy in Australia, John Warkentin.  I haven’t done much with the files since, they’ve just been sitting on my hard drive and I’ve just about completely forgotten how the software that stitches these puppies together works (it’s kinda complex…).


Inside a ruined tower of Middleham Castle

But this morning as I was randomly, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, I found a page dedicated to the English Wars of the Roses and Medieval Buildings. That got me to looking through some of the files I haven’t looked at for almost two years.  First I found an image from the interior of one of the ruined towers of Middleham Castle, a large fortress in Yorkshire, England that was one of the redoubts of the Yorkist faction during the Wars of the Roses, that 30-some-year civil war when the Yorks fought it out with the Lancasters for the Throne of England.

Then I went looking to see what else I have, and found all the files I shot for those panoramas (with a special tripod head that rotates the camera round the front element of the lens). Then I dug into the software that generates the panoramas to see if I could remember how to make it work.

The final result is the image at the top of this post, taken within the main courtyard of Middleham Castle.  The statue on the left side is of Richard III – he of “My kingdom for a horse” fame – who resided here for most of his life before usurping the crown from his nephew Edward V.

Edward V and his brother (also a Richard) were confined to the Tower of London, and once Richard ascended the throne, the boys – aged 12 and 9 – were never heard from or seen again, becoming instead the legend of “The Princes in the Tower.”

It was not too much longer before Richard III himself was dispatched in the Battle of Bosworth in August, 1485 – ending more than 350 years of the Plantagenet dynasty in England.  Bosworth is often cited as marking the end of the ‘medieval’ period of English history. Richard  and the Yorks were vanquished by Henry Tudor, who styled himself Henry VII and began the Tudor dynasty that ended a little over 100 years later with the demise of Elizabeth I.

Any resemblance between the stories of The Wars of the Roses and “Game of Thrones” is strictly intentional.  George R. R. Martin has even said as much

Jonesing For The Light

The castle ruin show at the top of this post is Barnard Castle in County Durham, northern England.

The photo was taken at 8:30 PM on June 2, 2013.

I have been thinking a lot lately about… the light.  At that latitude, at that time of year – late spring, three weeks before the summer solstice – the sun doesn’t set until after 9:PM.

The treasured “Golden Time” when the sun rests just above the horizon – shining it’s yellowest light and longest shadows – can last like two hours.

On this particular occasion, that meant that I had enough time to walk almost entirely around the grounds and see this edifice from numerous angles.  I just kept walking, and shooting.  As I walked west, from the nearby village, I found a bridge that went over a stream.  I crossed the bridge and made the shot above from that angle, using the stone wall of the bridge in lieu of the tripod I neglected to bring with me (stupid).

It was already 8:30 PM… but the sun was nowhere near setting yet.

So I just kept going.  I crossed the bridge, and started walking along the stream.  I crossed a green area, like a small park.  There was a stone wall at the end of the park, but there was an opening in the wall, and a stone step way that led down to the stream bed.  I kept going.

I walked along the stream for about 50 more yards, and then found another great vantage point, composing the stream in the foreground as the final golden rays lit up the ramparts of the castle ruin:

Another angle of Barnard Castle – Durham, England

Another angle of Barnard Castle – Durham, England

When I was in the UK in the spring of 2013, I made a LOT of great photos in those hours before the sunset.

I got shots like these only because I had the time to follow the light.

I am jonesing for this light again.

I need to make reservations soon….


Castles and Abbeys

Did you see the Series Finale of “Downton Abbey” last night?

Everybody gets a happy ending.  Yay.

Then we wake up Monday morning and it’s back to Trump and Hillary, etal.   Yuck.

I thought I recognized the location that was used for “Brancaster Castle” – the sprawling estate that the Granthams visited to meet the mother of Edith’s finance,  Bertie, aka the “Marquess of Hexham.” The location is Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England. I haven’t been there but I did recognize it immediately as a location that also served for some scenes of ‘Hogwarts’ in the first couple of Harry Potter films.

The whole subject reminded me of my travels in the UK and I took a look for the first time in quite a while at the slide show I made of some of the photos from the trip that I took there in 2013 (when I discovered the whole “Portals of Stone” thing).

It’s making me want to go back again in the spring…. <*sigh*>

My First Book Cover !

That’s my friend Beth Richardson, holding a hot-off-the-press copy of her new book:

Christ Beside Me, Christ Within Me: Celtic Prayers. (Learn more about the book: Through the pages of Beth’s writing, we’re invited to connect with Celtic practices of gratitude and noticing of blessings in our everyday life. Drawing on her own Celtic heritage, Beth weaves personal story and written blessings into a book you’ll want to have ready for life’s ordinary and extraordinary moments.

…and that’s one of my photos on the cover.

The photo was taken at place on the northern tip of the Isle of Skye in Scotland called “The Quirang” – when Ann and I were there in the fall of 2012.  You can see more of the photos of this spectacular location here, and here’s the original photo:

The Quirang – Isle of Skye Scotland – October 2012

The Quirang – Isle of Skye Scotland – October 2012