Monday, October 15, 2018

Texas - Lespedeza liukiuensis 'Little Volcano'

The Volcan Bush, Lespedeza liukiuensis, has grown huge through the summer, and finally the leaves are just starting to turn yellow.

It likes full sun and we are in zone 9.  With a hard freeze, as in last winter, it will rapidly grow back from its roots.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Texas - The modern world comes to the country

The community received a grant to fund the upgrade all the 162 water meters to modern transmitting ones.  A local guy installed them, but he is not known for quality work.

Before new valve

After new valve

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Totoro is out of the forest and into the city with a secret friend

Zoom in on the gas cap, is has a "Jesus Lives" graphic. This begs the question, Where does he live?  In the gas tank, breathing fumes? And Totoro is wide eyed, and looks as if he has been breathing fumes too.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Tibet - Pictures of Lhasa in 1985

Click the picture
I was working in Chengdu, and found there was a non-stop flight to Lhasa.  I asked our Minder if she could get me a plane ticket for when my scheduled work ended, she said it was impossible.

"Why is it impossible?" I asked. "It is booked up for 6-months," she glibly replied. I smelled a rat, and having been in China for a few months knew how the system worked. I took the next day off, and went to the CITS travel office in the Jing Jiang Hotel. They said I need an extra visa to go to Lhasa, and directed me to the China Security office, who without question stamped my passport. Then I went to the CAAC office to buy the ticket.  In an an hour I had a ticket and visa and was good to go.  At that time a foreigner could got to Tibet, but most natives could not.

I rode the bus to work the next day, and the Minder asked me, "Did you get a ticket?" She knew the system and so did I.

The flight from Chengdu to Lhasa was over the Himalayas in a modern Boeing, from 500m to 3656m above sea level. As we got closer to Lhasa, the snow and glaciers changed to mountainous desert. The airport is up a different valley to the city, it is a long bus ride to Lhasa.  At that time a gravel road connected the airport to the city.

In town I found a place to stay, a nearly empty dormitory, and a bicycle to rent.  The bicycle needed to be repaired before it could be used, but everything was cheap, they were not yet used to tourists.

I visited the Potala Palace, the huge Buddhist monastery. Inside was a warren of dark rooms, lit by candles. I follow the crowd of believers, I had no idea where I was, it took forever. One woman noticed my hairy arms and pulled at the hair in curiosity with her waxy fingers.

Much more inviting was the Sera Monastery up on the hillside. A small group of us enter the building and stood back against the wall. Maybe 150 monks were seated cross-legged in front of us chanting, and ignoring us. After a while we got bored and wandered off.

It was a long ride back to the airport, and the bus left the afternoon before the flight. Which was fortunate as it broke down, and I got to take some pictures of herders in the valley. At the airport we stayed the night in a grimy hotel, and early next morning took the plane back to Chengdu.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Texas - A futile attempt to catch an armadillo

During the week an armadillo, and possible friends, uproot half of the gingers. The bed is irrigated so it soft, a perfect place to burrow in the ground to look for grubs and worms. Fortunately a neighbor replanted them for us.

Friday night I set a trap between the houses, with a barrier to guide the creature. And a video camera to record the capture.

But the creature did not come. I will try again.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Culture - Stealing words


"It is a Sunday afternoon, and it is raining outside, and you are at home in your pajamas, all nice and cuddly, maybe watching Netflix or something, and you suddenly get a craving for potato chips, and you realize you that have none in the kitchen, and, there is nothing else you really want to eat, and maybe the convenience store, the shop, is really not that far away, maybe it is even less than one hundred meters away, but you just cant bring yourself to even throw your coat on over your pajamas and put your boots on, and go outside and walk those hundred meters because, somehow, it would break the coziness and it is just too much of an effort and you cant be bothered to do it even though it is such a small thing, and it is MENDOKUSAI."

NPR Hidden Brain "Watch your Mouth"

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Texas - Mosaic panel 16 installed

I found panels panels 12 to 15 were leaning slightly over, so I moved the boards out slightly at the base to make them vertical. Panel 16 is now installed on the end with one panel to go which will terminate at the bamboo.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Texas - The Blue House over 8 years

Before and After pictures - click the picture

Look at the old and new pictures of the front of the house:

  • The two garage doors and door where removed and replaced with hardy plank and cedar
  • The covering over the front door was removed
  • Tree in front of the house removed
  • House was painted
  • Footpath added
  • Concrete front steps tiled
  • Cyclone fence removed
  • Flower beds added
  • Mini library added (not visible)

Look at the old  and new pictures of the back of the house:

  • Kitchen and storage shed walls covered 
  • Roof over storage shed replaced
  • Gas pipe sticking up the the grass removed
  • Mystery posts on the right removed
  • Patio added
  • Concrete back steps tiled
  • Outside water tap added 
  • Upstairs window rotten wood replaced