Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Changing Gears

It has been fun trying to keep a somewhat regular posting schedule. The past 8 months have challenged me to actually post when the thought occurred to me "that could be a blog post." I have enjoyed the writing exercise, the lone soapbox, and sharing happenings in my family (albeit small at the moment).

Lately, I have been tending towards things having to do with Amy and myself and away from politics and technology. As such, I think it a better use of our time if we had a joint blog. So we have one set up over here. I'll still keep this one up. I also may occasionally post something here that doesn't quite fit in with the joint blog, but I am ending a regular, predictable posting schedule with this post.

Feliz Navidad and Hasta luego.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Duke Ducks: Part 12 - Blue Heron

Like the Barnacle and Canadian geese, the Blue Heron is not a duck. Unlike the geese, however, it is not even similar in features—it stands upright in the water using long, thin legs rather than floating and it hunts for fish instead of digging for plants.

I am still including it in this series because it is one of my favorite residents of the Duke Gardens. To my knowledge, there is only one Blue Heron that visits the Duke Gardens and it seems to make its home in other areas as well. There were times when I would not see it (I say it, because I didn't know whether it was a male or female) for a few days at a time. It has a distinctive, yet eerie call that would always make me reach for my camera.

It took some time for me to get a good picture, because I would usually get too close and it would take to flight. Eventually, either it got used to my presence or I figured out the right distance to not invade. So, here are some pictures.

One of the first blurry attempts

Across the pond

A common resting spot

Fishing in the shallows

A little closer

Have to see the bridge

Stretched out

Major zoom

Bridge again

Focus on the heron

Different pond

Fishing at the terrace pond

So concludes the Duke "Ducks" series.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Duke Ducks: Part 11 - Canadian Goose

Today I am again bringing some pictures of non-ducks. Some of the most obnoxious waterfowl residents of the Duke Gardens are the flocks of Canadian Geese that come through during their biannual migrations. Thankfully they are only temporary residents as they are noisy, messy, and pushy. I liken them somewhat to stereotypical school bullies. If somebody happens to be handing out food, they manage to crowd out the regular residents (you know, the ones that are more permanent due to wing clipping) complete with chasing and biting other birds that get in the way.

Despite what may seem to be bitterness on my part, these birds make great subjects. Here are some pictures.

A very common expression that seems to imply "are you giving out food?"

This one looks to be tagged

A closeup of the tag

Monday, December 08, 2008

Duke Ducks: Part 10 - Barnacle Goose

Well, today's entry is not quite a duck, but it's close enough. The barnacle goose is a bit smaller than its Canadian relative. The two that live (permanently—wings clipped) at the Duke Gardens seem to be much less aggressive also. They have a distinct call that carries pretty well, especially in the quiet of most mornings. Here are some pictures from a few different trips through the gardens.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Duke Ducks: Part 9 - Other Ducks

In reviewing my photos, it seems as if my interest waned in having multiple photo shoots of each species of duck that lives in the Duke Gardens. Thus, today I present a variety of ducks. This will be the last set of duck photos, though certainly not the last of the non-duck waterfowl photos.

While walking into the office one day, I came upon this male Philippine Duck that seemed to be begging for me to take his picture.

Not far away was the female with an equally fortunate pose.

Earlier this year, Amy and I happened upon the two of them taking an afternoon rest.

I believe that this is a Chestnut Teal, though I'm not sure. It is one of the smaller ducks and tends to get pushed out of the way when people are throwing bread.

This is a Rosy-billed Pochard—one of the more strangely adorned ducks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Duke Ducks: Part 8 - Northern Pintail

Here are some pictures of the pair of Northern Pintails that live at the Duke Gardens.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Peruvian Food

One part of traveling is sightseeing, but another part is actually experiencing the culture. One of the best ways to experience the culture is to eat the food. While in Perú, I was determined to, as much as possible, eat only Peruvian food. We did pretty good until Cusco, where we ate the Peruvian interpretation of pizza (same idea, different ingredients), but we tried to avoid "typical American" food (whatever that is). In Lima, we fell completely off the bandwagon and went to KFC. We did see a McDonald's and a Starbucks, but we didn't go in.

Here are a few pictures of the various dishes that we ate.

Real Inca Kola

Huane (wahn - ay) — popular in the jungle

Papa a la Huancaina in a restaurant

Picarones (peek - ah - row - nays)


Trucha (trout)

Papa a la Huancaina (homemade recipe), Arroz con Pollo (rice with chicken), and cebada (a sweet drink made from barley — but not fermented)

This post brings the Peru trip series to an end. There are links on the side bar if you would like to see more pictures. I still need to figure out how to get the video off of the camera. Once I do that, I'll start uploading some to Youtube and maybe posting them. Until then, Chao!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Peru Trip Timeline: Part 7 - Lima

When we finally got to Lima after waiting in Cusco for an extra 7 hours, we were greeted by our hostess, Gladys, and her daughter, Miriam. Gladys is the grandmother of one of Amy's former students whose family we have had the pleasure of getting to know over the past few months. Our new arrival time put us in Lima right in the middle of rush hour. What is normally a 30 minute drive took us over an hour.

After we got to their home, we went out for dinner at KFC. I knew that McDonald's has a huge international market, but I did not expect KFC. The spices are the same, but you can tell that they use different chickens there, though it was just as good. It was late when we got back and we were tired from the long day, but then we found out that we were going to a show.

We went to see a show called a peña (pain-ya) that showcased indigenous Peruvian dance, music, and costumes. Between choreographed dances, they opened the floor to the audience. It was a lot of fun though we were very tired and I nodded off to sleep during the taxi ride home.

The next day, we went to a museum that housed some weapons from around the world and some pre-Columbian artifacts (though there has been some question recently as to the authenticity of the collection). After walking through the museum we headed towards the Plaza de Armas (of Lima). Traffic was pretty bad around the Plaza due to a major event that weekend so we stopped at the Plaza de San Martin and then walked to the Plaza de Armas. I've waited to post the entire timeline before doing a count, but we visited 6 different Plazas de Armas—Trujillo, Cusco, Aguas Calientes, Ollantaytambo, San Blas, and Lima. While in the plaza, we caught a bus tour of the city that eventually took us up to the summit of San Cristobal. The drive was around some precarious turns, but the view was well worth it.

When we got back to the house, we had a late lunch and then took a siesta nap (I like the siesta). We went out for a late dinner and then back home.

The next day, our last full day in Peru, we stayed at the house until after lunch. Amy learned how to cook some Peruvian recipes and I attempted to learn how to spin a top from an 8-year-old. After lunch, we went out with Miriam and her two sons, Jason and John-Pierre, to see some more of Lima. We went to a park and took out a couple of paddle boats. After that park, we went to another park that was full of water fountains with different designs and lights. We then went for another late dinner. We went back to the house to get packed up and into bed for the early morning flight back to the U.S.

All in all, the visit to Lima was good. It was a blessing to be able to stay with natives. We could not have asked for a more generous and gracious family to spend our time with.

The next morning, we were up at 3 so we could get to the airport by 4 for our flight at 6. We had just enough time in the duty-free area to get some Peruvian coffee beans before getting on the flight to Miami. There was plenty of time in Miami to get through Customs and security and then get some lunch. We arrived in Raleigh at the new Terminal 2, despite departing from Terminal C. There was some standard opening day glitches with the jet bridge and baggage carousel, but we soon were greeted by my parents who had come to pick us up.

We had a lot of fun. It was an enlightening trip for me—seeing another country should be an enlightening experience. Despite the two weeks, Amy and I both determined that it wasn't long enough to truly get to know it. I'm glad that I got to visit, but I would definitely like to get to know Peru better.

Disclaimer: While in Peru, Amy and I managed to take around 2250 photos, much less than our preparations, but still over 6GB worth. The pictures that we post online are, understandably, a small subset. The ones about which we blog are an even smaller subset. If you want to see more pictures, there are a couple of links on the side-bar. I will be uploading over the span of a few days and blogging could take a couple of weeks.