Tuesday, October 6, 2015
Monday, October 5, 2015
On this occasion, we also heard from speakers on the scientific research on yoga and meditation, the global requirements for reducing conflict and achieving peace, and the relationships between religions.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Friday, September 11, 2015
Now there's only a smattering of beachgoers, me, two pelicans, and the mighty ocean. A fisherman yesterday mentioned seeing a fin in the water. So today, with few people around and no lifeguard, I skip the swimming, and walk the beach.
Act III: a more violent feeding frenzy. Groups of dolphins now, thrashing hard. Broaching the surface in pairs, nipping perhaps, tangling in each other's tails. Competing?
Friday, July 17, 2015
I used to think that drowning would be a horrible death, partly because I had heard it was incredibly painful. This myth has been debunked by science; the pain is all mental, not physical.
Now that I've been on a sailboat, out of sight of land, I have a clearer perspective.
As early as 1878, Popular Science published a treatise by a physician describing the physiological process of death by drowning, detailing the relatively brief physical symptoms compared with the far greater mental agony. In conclusion, the author gave readers this sage advice:
"If death by drowning be inevitable, as in a shipwreck, the easiest way to die would be to suck water into the lungs by a powerful inspiration, as soon as one went beneath the surface. A person who had the courage to do this would probably become almost immediately unconscious, and never rise to the surface."
Well, well! Could I do it? I don't know. What I do know is this: if I get dumped off the boat I will likely swim for my life, even if the odds are grim, i.e., totally hopeless. I'm not as terrified of death as many people. I am far more afraid of the time spent waiting for my impending demise, watching as my vessel and lifeline drift farther and farther until they become a tiny speck on the crest of a distant wave. Oh, the agony. The despair. The panic, hopelessness, waves, hypothermia, sharks. The horrible realization that it's inevitable. Who needs it? Much easier to let go. Stick your head under, take a deep breath.
Nonetheless, the most powerful animal instinct, the will to survive, will kick in. We're hard-wired that way.
So I valiantly head off to the swimming pool in my pathetic attempt to build up my long-distance endurance. I count the lengths, 10, 15, 20, 25, until I reach my usual milestone of a half mile. It feels good, knowing I can get that far. Notwithstanding the fact that I know darn well a half mile is peanuts in a roiling, heaving ocean. And that being tossed overboard in calm water only a half mile from shore is the least likely scenario.
On I labor, arm over arm, faster, faster. 30 lengths. 35. All the while knowing that survival is far more dependent on water temperature, current, tide, wind, wave height, storm magnitude, and big and little fishies nipping at your thighs, and, in the end, whether there are any vessels in the vicinity to pick you up, and whether they will see you (a.k.a. "All is Lost," with Robert Redford).
Today, I swam a few extra lengths. What the hell. Build up my stamina a little more.
Tomorrow, and next week, I will do it again.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Other French pastries and desserts
French sauces, especially the buttery ones!Brittany caramels and house-made caramel sauces
Spanish tapas (the idea, rather than the execution; some of the cheap, tiny portions of potatoes or sausages were pretty sad)
Gazpacho—sooooo much better than at home
Oysters caught daily on coasts of Atlantic and Brittany
Wildflowers of every color; spring was a cool yet beautiful time to be here!
Old castles, houses, Roman villas and bridges, and whole medieval villages made of stone
The day's harvest at Finca La Paz, Andalucia, Spain
Big, golden yolks of just-laid eggs on farm in Spain
2-euro bottles of wine in both France and Spain
Ancient winery at Chateau St Martin in Provence, and their expensive rosés and "cooked" wine (similar to port or sherry)
Amazing marinas and harbors on Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, which Pope wants to return to!
High quality of hostels in Barcelona
Salt-water pools instead of chlorine
Iron work on balconies and windows
Poodle plants and other eleganct touches in formal French gardens
Failure to find one of the elusive human pyramids (castellers) during Spanish festival of Saint Joan
Weak wifi everywhere
Complicated and inconsistent car rental contracts and insurance coverage
Gavage, the process of force-feeding ducks through a 12-inch-long steel tube crammed down the throat and all the way into the belly to produce foie gras
The ducks flapped and struggled, with the whole tube inside, pouring whole kernels of corn straight into the tummy
What we learned
Schengen visa laws are at least somewhat lax; no one was around to stamp our passport re-entering France from Channel Islands, so no one will know how long we’ve been here. (But we still wouldn't take chances and overstay.)
Intermediate language skills are not sufficient to conduct business beyond accommodation and transportation--such as renewing a cell phone plan by phone; understanding recordings on answering machines; negotiating a refund; filing a police report.
Two months is enough to be on the road. After that things went downhill; afer two and a half months, we were tired of traveling and ready to go home.
Dancers are friendly everywhere!
Cajun dancers, Chatillon, France