Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I've been too tired at night to post any Istanbul updates, but I should have more tonight. But for now, may I offer some extremely short films of the little guys.

Here we have Nate and Will running around in the backyard. This clip demonstrates why it's so hard to get a decent picture or video of the guys: cameras look so delicious.

And lest you think life here is a nonstop romp of cuteness, this video deserves equal time. Will has two sippy cups, and Nate wants one. Nate takes one and, well...

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Monday, April 28, 2008


Home at last. Reality (read: work) resumes tomorrow. More trip updates in the days to come. Until then, I'm going to bed.


Sunday, April 27, 2008


4 airports
3 airlines
6 security checks
27 hours on an airplane or in airports
10 hour time change
1 massive case of let lag

...and we're not even home yet.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008


I promised Thomas I would show his chocolate some of the sites of Istanbul, so I did.

That piece of Norwegian chocolate has seen a lot of the world, and it's still got a trip across Europe and North America ahead of it.

And unfortunately that journey will start much too early tomorrow morning. We'll spend a very long day hopping from Istanbul to London to Los Angeles and then to Phoenix before we drag our tired butts to bed. I'm really anxious to see Nate and Will again, but I'm not really looking forward to leaving here. This is a great city, and I'd like to spend more time here.

I'd like to go on, but it's time to start packing. I'll write more on the plane tomorrow and post it when I can. There are also many more stories and photos to share from this trip, and I'll be doing that in the days and weeks to come.

But for now, it's "so long" from Istanbul, a city I hope to return to some day.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008


What with the language barrier and all, I have noticed some pretty funny business names In Istanbul. Take for instance this grocery store on the western side of town.

And this dubious sounding business...I don't even want to know what those guys are selling, but it sounds, well, very naughty.* Then there's the store that sells lingerie called...And once you have store called "boob" its just a matter of time before you find the store called...They sell silver. Nice stuff actually.

*I'm told by a Turkish speaker that"Koc" (I don't know how to make the little dangling thing at the end of the "c") is pronounced "coach" as in "motor coach." That makes a lot more sense now.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008


When you tell people you're visiting Turkey, anyone who has been there will invariably say, "You must see the whirling dervishes." At which point I tell a joke about Maria Von Trapp and the whole conversation gets sidetracked.

(So here's the thing, in the Sound of Music tune "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria" some nun claims that Maria could "Throw a whirling dervish out of whirl." So it seems like the dervishes would not want Maria anywhere around. They probably post her picture up at the performance hall just to insure she doesn't make it in, because that woman simply can't be allowed to disrupt the performance that way. Too obscure?)

I'm sorry, where was I? Oh yes, the point is that we did go see the whirling dervishes, and they really are a sight to behold. The performance starts with a short concert.

Followed by the entrance of the dervishes in a room with very poor lighting.Then, after some walking and bowing, they start spinning...Their outfits are designed to symbolize the death of ego. The hats represent tombstones.And the white cloaks represent shrouds.They spin with one hand up and the other facing down, meaning "From God we receive,and to man we give: we keep nothing to ourselves."They spin four different times for about 8 minutes. Each spin cycle (I'm not trying to be funny with that, I really couldn't think of a better term) is designed to take the dervish from the cares of earthly life into a realm of non-existence where the dervish is one with God.It is beautiful and hypnotic and it is really easy to get carried away taking pictures of the performance. But after an hour, it's over. The dervishes bow once more.And then they leave. It's such a meditative experience, the audience seemed unsure whether to applaud when they left. Eventually we collectively decided that some applause was in order just as they were walking out the door.

The performance was one of the highlights of the trip so far, and if you're in Istanbul, well, you really must see the whirling dervishes. Until then, may I offer you a short one minute excerpt of the performance. Enjoy.

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Monday, April 21, 2008


Today I wrote I piece for my employer's website about television news in Istanbul. You can check it out here.

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Istanbul's police force comes in many varieties.
But the motorcycle cops have perhaps the best outfits.But the logo... well... that's a little less macho.Why a dolphin? I have no idea. I'm told the Bosporus has dolphins in it, but that still doesn't make sense. You can't patrol the river on a motorcycle, nor can a dolphin ride a motorcycle. Indeed, this may just be one of those things a foreigner can never understand.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008


On day one in Istanbul, we did what any self respecting tourist would do: we got our butts down to Sultanahmet and took the obligatory self photo.My facial expression is an attempt to convey the gravity of our arrival in the old Ottoman empire. After the quick snap, we did the other obligatory thing, we checked out Aya Sofya.While the basilica dating back to the 5th century is relatively unadorned on the outside, many people consider the inside to be the most beautiful interior space in the world.But a giant hunk of scaffolding in the middle currently ruins all sight lines in any photo you take.But despite that distraction, it really is a pretty spectacular place full of mosaics......and some really cool stained glass.And while the scaffolding was annoying, it's part of a major restoration project, so let's give it up for the scaffolding.
We spent our evening watching a sound and dance spectacular based on the Trojan War. It was performed by a dance troupe that is roughly the Turkish equivalent to the Lord of the Dance posse. The war seemed a curious choice for the troupe as the Greeks seemed to get the best of the Turks in that whole episode. But some revisionist history took care of that, and the performance was able to continue without any problem.

Our arrival at the venue underscored how nice it is to be hosted by an employee of the U.S. State Department when traveling (yea Christina!). When we arrived, Christina gave her name to someone holding a clipboard who snapped to attention handed us off to a person wearing a black suit. We were promptly led down a closed corridor and directly to our seats... in the front row... directly in the center. Yes, it's nice to be mistaken for someone important. The third richest man in Turkey was in the front row, too. Our seats were better.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008


But yet so far...
(Pictures of Istanbul are on the way, but it's the weekend and nobody looks at the internet on the weekend.)

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Friday, April 18, 2008


Hello? Is this thing on? Where am I?

That was one looong day of travel. We arrived at LAX early Wednesday evening and didn't finally touch the ground in Istanbul until midnight Thursday/Friday.

We flew American Airlines from Los Angeles to London and the crowd on board was unusually rough. Perhaps rough isn't quite the right word: obnoxious may be a better fit. Several passengers believed they were flying Ugly American Airlines and broke some major rules of packed airplane etiquette. One man started using the air phone while most people had started sleeping. He shouted at the top of his lungs:


Then there was the woman who sat behind us and loudly told some disinterested French woman her life story. On the rare occasion where she asked a question, I heard the following exchange:


French Woman: My father is sick. He may be dying.


She was probably about 30 years younger than the French woman.

Once on the ground in London, we got a chance to see Heathrow's controversial Terminal 5. The multi-billion dollar facility opened amid chaos and widespread reports of lost luggage a few weeks ago. A YouTube video mocking the terminal has become a sensation in the UK.

We didn't suffer any lost luggage, and actually thought the bathrooms were pretty cool (the hand dryer must have been powered by a jet engine). But we did have to deal with circling the English countryside before we landed and waiting on the tarmac before our connecting flight took off again. Our combined delays totalled about two hours. I've travelled through Heathrow about a half dozen times now and have never connected without some kind of delay. I'd rather not travel through that airport again.

But now we're in Turkey and we were greeted with some good news. America's approval rating has surged to 20%, up from 7% just a few months ago. Yahoo! Now only one in five hates us!

But enough of my yapping, it's time to see Istanbul. We had a late night driving tour after we arrived. Now I'm treating my jet lag with liberal doses of Turkish Pepsi (mmmm, real sugar). Once we get moving, I really want to show my Crispo bars the Blue Mosque.

Pictures to follow.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I've written before about my deep love for Los Angeles, so I'll spare you a rehash, but it does feel good to be back. When drove out of the rental car place yesterday and eased onto a crowded freeway while listening to KCRW, it was like putting on a favorite pair of jeans.

I'm on an internet kiosk with a time limit, so I can't write much, but I had an experience that pretty much sums up the Los Angeles experience for me. I was driving onto the Prospect Studios lot (used to be the LA headquarters of ABC until Disney bought them) and my friend Thomas was getting out his ID badge for the security guard. The guard recognized Thomas and said, "You're cool, babe."

That's right, I'm back in LA.

Crispos are in the house, and most delicious.

Tonight Chinese food in Orange County.

Tomorrow, we leave for Turkey.

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Monday, April 14, 2008


I'm just packing up to leave for Los Angeles and I gave the little guys a kiss before putting them to bed tonight knowing it will likely be the last time I see them for about two weeks.

It's actually harder leaving them than I thought. I've been gone for a night or two, but nothing quite like this. It's actually physically painful to contemplate this kind of separation.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to be leaving for LA/Istanbul. I've wanted to do this my whole life, and I'm going to go through with it. But it's still a bit hard. So in memory of the little guys, I'll post a small snippet of video I shot about a week ago. It's the video component of the "Asleep at the Meal" post.

If you recall, in the original post, I shared some cute photos of Nate and Will sleeping during lunchtime. It got a huge response. So I took some video of them falling asleep while having lunch a few weeks ago. Sorry about the bad edits, but I don't really have editing software right now. Indeed, it may not be the most compelling video in the world, but I may find myself watching it from Turkey if I need a little fix of these tiny guys I love so much.

(For those keeping score at home, Nate is the one who is falling asleep. Will is mostly faking it.)

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Saturday, April 12, 2008


I still remember the first time I rode in a plane with my father. It was part of a family vacation. We boarded a United Airlines 727 at Rochester "International" Airport and few to Chicago O'Hare. From there we hopped onto a DC-10 and flew to Hawaii. I was 21 years old.

For much of my childhood, I was quite put out that I had never been on an airplane. But with the wisdom of adulthood, I see the wisdom in his ways.

Our trip from Oregon to Arizona went off about as good as could be hoped for, which is to say it was excruciating. Nate and Will were actually pretty good on the plane, with the exception of a screaming fit as we were trying to board. But small children and air travel just don't mix. And small planes... those don't mix either.

Once again I am forced to curse the people who invented the regional jet. It's increased use on longer and longer routes has only helped make the unpleasant experience much more unpleasant. The problem is the size of the seats. They're just too small. If you're taller than 5' 2", you won't fit into those seats. Add a lap child, and the misery is compounded.

I had promised myself that, after I moved from Medford, I would only live in cities served by full sized jets (737 or larger). But there's no escaping these little terrors of the sky. On Monday, I'm flying from Phoenix to Los Angeles: two of the largest cities in the United States. I'll be flying on one of those nasty regional jets.

But I'd rather light a candle than curse the darkness (actually I'm quite fond of cursing the darkness, but that's another issue). On Monday that nasty regional jet will be taking me to Los Angeles. I'll visit some of my former teachers at my old school, and then take in some local theater. I miss Los Angeles every day and I'm happy I get to see it for a few days before heading off to Turkey.

I'll check in from LA if I can and let you know if I got my picture taken with Pee Wee Herman (it could happen... really).

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Several years ago, I was taking a History of Civilization class at a Los Angeles community college. The class was long and kind of dull and I spent most my time daydreaming while staring at a map on the wall behind the teacher.

The map had a title like "The Ancient World" and it had shadings for various empires that had sprung up throughout the ages. While contemplating the map, I noticed the Black Sea and the rich growing areas that surrounded it. Then I noticed the Mediterranean, and the population centers associated with that. Then I noticed the Bosporus river, which connected both those areas. At that moment, I had the same "ah, ha!" moment that people have had for some 3,000 years: put a city right on that river, and you can control just about everything.

Obviously, a lot of people have had that idea, and a great city has been built on that site. And ever since that moment in that stuffy classroom, I've wanted to see that city. That time is now. Tomorrow we are leaving for a trip to Istanbul. Actually, there are some hoops to jump through first. We have to drop the kids off in Phoenix (we're adventurous people, but not that adventurous), then Julie has to continue on to a trade conference in Los Angeles before we both head off to Turkey.

But the point is we're going, and we're leaving tomorrow, and I'm very excited.

I'm a little apprehensive about a few things as well. The U.S. approval rating in Turkey is 9%. That's the lowest of anywhere in the world. More people in Iran like us than in Turkey. More people like us in North Korea. We're even more popular in Iraq. That's really saying something.

There's some freedom in that low approval rating, though. If everyone thinks you're awful, well, you can only get better from there.

But now I've got to go back and finish packing. I just got my passport out and almost wept with joy. I'll check in when I can.

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Monday, April 07, 2008


This post is completely disgusting, so let me soften the blow by starting with some cute images of the little guys. Some cute video images. We bought a new digital camera last week and I was playing around with the video function and caught this fun image of Will when he awoke from his nap.

And I got some video of Nate as well, but he was a much more elusive subject.

But all at our home is not cute video segments of less than 10 seconds. No, the guys have been sick for the past week, and it has been nasty. You see, they've had a stomach virus, and that can make for some unpleasant surprises.

On Friday morning, we awoke to find Nate's crib covered in foul-smelling excrement (as opposed to the sweet smelling stuff, I guess). We had to open every window in the house to get rid of the smell.

Then came Saturday's lunch. We were feeding Nate some of his favorite foods, but he was starting to grimace, and we knew something bad was about to happen. In a flash, he erupted like one of those elementary school volcano projects. When it was over, there was a pile of fruit, zucchini, Cheerios, and scrambled eggs just about as big as Nate. Seriously, where did he put all that stuff?

Julie and I sprang into crisis mode. She took him into the bathroom and began to wash Nate off. I took the chair outside along with the plastic tarp we keep on the kitchen floor. There I had the unenviable task of hosing the puke off everything it touched. When I was done, you could still see little flecks of zucchini and scrambled eggs in our lawn.

A few hours later, I was looking out our window and I noticed a bluebird picking away at the eggs in the grass. It was then I knew that this whole disgusting incident was just another segment in the circle of life.

Think about it, some bird laid an egg, and we served it to our kid... who barfed it up. Then this bird took the egg and most likely barfed it up for his kid. "Twice Barfed Eggs," I'm sure that's considered a delicacy somewhere.

And who knows, perhaps that little bird will puke the eggs up again... and the circle of life will continue.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008


Charlton Heston died tonight. I'll avoid all the cheap jokes about getting his gun from his cold dead hands and instead post the video of a most amusing song from the 1980s called, appropriately enough, Charlton Heston.



Two weeks ago, while all the media was getting themselves into a lather over Barack Obama's imminent arrival southern Oregon, Hillary Clinton's campaign made an announcement: "Me too!" they said.

They said Hillary would make a campaign stop "very soon." They offered no other details, and that made my B.S. detector go off. If they really had a visit scheduled, they'd say when. But they didn't. I told my coworkers, "Mark my word, she's not coming."

For the past two week's we've called her campaign almost every day asking if any plans had been made. Each time they said they'd get back to us. When Bill Clinton came to town last weekend, we were assured the visit was in addition to, not in lieu of, a Hillary visit.

Then Hillary announced her plans to visit Oregon, and we weren't anywhere on the itinerary. This isn't all that unusual, presidential candidates have crazy schedules that are subject to change. But its hard not to feel used by these people. They drop a news release saying she's coming to town just before the Obama visit, thus insuring they get a mention in every story we did about his visit. Then when it actually comes time to deliver on the promise, they're nowhere to be found.

Hillary's people have promised that she will find her way to southern Oregon, "before the campaign is over." Of course, if you look at the delegate count, you could argue that it already is.

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Friday, April 04, 2008


Last October, Bill Clinton came to the Faroe Islands, now his former Vice President Al Gore will follow in his footsteps.

Al Gore will be attending a climate change conference in Torshavn on April 7th and 8th. I actually found out about this conference from a friend of mine who lives in Los Angeles and works for a greenhouse gas registry. (I'm assuming it's the kind of place where you can register for the type of greenhouse gasses you want if you're getting married, or having a baby or something like that. She got an invitation to the event. She's not going, which is actually a good thing. I'd be wildly jealous if a friend go to the Faroes before I did.

But Gore's visit to the Faroes does bring up this question: what other former Clinton administration figure will find his/her way to the islands? Right now my money is with Madeleine Albright. She's been just about everywhere else.

But if she does decide to visit, she should be careful about who makes her travel arrangements. This week Iceland Review published a story about an American tourist who booked travel to the Faroese capital of Torshavn, but wound up in the Icelandic town of Thórshöfn (which is how they spell Torshavn in Iceland, I'm to understand).

The man apparently had a friend book the trip. He ended up skipping the Faroe Islands portion of his trip and enjoying whatever it is you enjoy in northern Iceland.

This week's Faroe photo is an image of downtown Torshavn, just to taunt that American tourist.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008


A long week at work and a bout of illness among most people living under this roof have left me too tired to write much of anything. So let me offer you a minute or two of silliness from Mitchell and Webb. (These guys may well be the second coming of Monty Python... something I must write about as well.)

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008


My employer's website just underwent a major renovation several months back, and reporters are now required to keep a blog.

Most posts deal with local issues that wouldn't be of much interest to a wider audience, but when it's otherwise, I'll post links here. This is a post I wrote after seeing Bill Clinton campaigning in Medford this weekend.

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