Sunday, July 28, 2013

Of Shards and Dragons

While in London a couple of weeks ago I was marveling and the variations in architecture. Everything from medieval to modern with all the stuff in between. There is a tall glass spire known as the Shard which is completely out of place near Parliament and the Tower of London. It is interesting in its own right as a glass spire rising over 1000 feet (300+ meters) in the midst of the city.

I looked more closely at it a bit later and saw this.

Click on the pic and you will see that there is a person on the side. Doing what I'll never know, but I hope not washing windows.

We've had some strange weather lately with a bit of a chill in the air. It was not enough to dampen the spirits of the annual Dragon Boat Festival and its participants. The crowd was a little thinner due to temperatures in 50's, but it is a fun thing for everyone who does show up. I think this guy is wearing his long johns on the outside. Didn't Madonna make that popular a while back?
Stitch got to steer the boats for the two teams she was on. The names of the teams were something like Women on the Edge and Women over the Edge. I just figured they were edgy women and gave them a wide berth although they seemed friendly enough. They must be a pretty tough bunch braving the cold air and possibly colder water, although this time of year the ice chunks are usually gone. They certainly seem happy about the whole thing.
Why two teams want her to drive is beyond me. They have obviously never been with her in a motor vehicle. Just kidding! (I hope she doesn't read this or I am toast!)

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Oslo is a big city by most standards. Not huge, but for a guy from a county with a population of about 5000 a million and a half is a lot of people. It is an international city with people from many parts of the globe, but since its in Norway it is mostly full of Norwegians. As many northern people they have a strong artistic culture shown in their music, art, and architecture. This year is the celebration of Edvard Munch's 150th birthday, and I thought I was old. Of course, as far as I can tell, I am alive and he isn't. Andie, my cousins, aunt and I went to see the exhibition.

This is probably his best known work of which there are several versions. He was quite prolific and has a museum dedicated to him in Oslo.
There were many more of his works at the National Museum which is in another part of the city.
Both exhibits were busy with visitors from all over. Here are some of our fellow art lovers in front of the National Museum.
The Opera House is a sculpture itself, the outside of which is covered in Italian marble. It is a very geometric building and invites people to walk on its surface so we obliged.
 While there was a little drizzle to wet the surface, it was not slippery and the views from on top were rather nice as the building sits at the edge of the Oslofjord. Here is another child of my cousin's leaping on the marble roof.
Well, maybe not leaping exactly.

In the water anchored next to the opera House is a floating sculpture Hun Ligger (She Lies) of a glass and steel ship on a floating (that's right) concrete platform. It is anchored and moves with the wind and tides. Very cool!
As an engineer with a great appreciation for the arts I think Andie liked this sculpture.

There is also human sculpture in the form of this, which we found to be all over the well traveled parts of the city. Painted people posing as statues were not uncommon, but sometimes a bit weird for some of the viewers.

He just didn't trust it to get any closer. He was sure he saw it move. It did.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Back again

I have returned to the land of fog from a short excursion to the other side of the Big Pond. For those of you who think, "He has gone comatose again, hasn't he?" I really have only this to say. Not This Time, Thank You! So, from the land 'o fog...
Yet, the places traveled are also known for some fog. You can see some here at the mountain tops. This was taken at Aurlandsfjord which is a small branch of the Sognefjord in Western Norway.
 And another place known for its fog and rainy weather is depicted here. Because I seem to live a charmed life when traveling there were some of the nicest conditions the locals had seen this year, at least from what they told me.This is the Tower Bridge over the Thames River in Jolly Olde London.
What would a bumpkin like myself be doing in such surroundings? Good question, but with a simple answer. Virtually all of my extended family lives in these places as they are the countries of my origin. The exceptions to this are my wife, aka "The Cooker", my brother, and a few close friends like "Stitch" who I consider family.

The only unfortunate thing is that I can only go there once every 5 or 10 years. I really adore my family here and there and it generally sucks that I can't be two places at once.

I was, however, able to balance the unfortunate with something equally fortunate. I was able to travel with probably the most amazing person I have met in decades, Stitch's BFF Andie. She kept me focused and out of trouble for nearly two weeks while being my constant companion. Even after all that inseparable time we are still friends (to the best of my knowledge, anyway). How many people can do that? It must be my good fortune to align myself with strong, smart, and fiercely independent women who will tolerate me and snap me back to reality with "the look" if I start getting stupid. It's good to be lucky with things like that. The fact that they trust me that much is a bit of an ego booster and I only hope I can be useful enough to them to repay their trust and kindness. I'll do my best.

I took over 1100 photos, some of which are pretty good and Andie took a couple of hundred, I think, along with some video segments. I have also adopted her as my tech adviser and consultant since I have gotten to know her better.
This is us crossing the street at Abbey Road. She called (woke up?) a friend in the U.S. to get online and watch us and do a screen capture. She coached the process from her cell phone. No less than amazing in my world.

I shot photos of places, landscapes, relatives, street scenes and strangers and had a blast. This is a shot of the child of one of my cousins sitting at the edge of the Oslofjord on top of the Italian marble of the Opera house. She is holding a delicious pastry.
 In this pics a Siren is calling me to her at the edge of the waterfall. It's a good thing Andie knew enough to tie me to the mast until the danger passed.
Despite my human weakness, I have survived another adventure to become stronger with a desire to do it all again. But as Lou Grant once said," You're born, you live, and then you die. The rest is just filler."
Here's to enjoying the hell out of the filler.