Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The internet is on tonight, so let's see if we can actually post something.

Nate and Will turned 2 last week and we threw a party for them because, well that's what parents do. And at this party was introduced what will likely be a theme for the next year: the impassibility of getting our two sons in the same frame for a still photo.

Actually, with how much thy ran around, I was happy to get even one at a time. So I snapped just about any picture of Will that wasn't blurred by motion...

And any picture of Nate that didn't involve him licking mud puddles (a troubling new hobby of his)...(That may, in fact, be a mouth full of puddle water he's got there.)

The only successful attempts at picturing them together was during the brief cupcake and singing ceremony.

After a few bites, Will was off to the races and Nate stuck around to clean up the leftovers.

Fueled with enough sugar to put a wildebeest into a diabetic coma, Nate and Will abandoned their guests and ran around the park with reckless abandon.Stopping occasionally to chase the local cats.Eventually they ran up into a tree, so that seemed like the perfect time to snap a good photo of them both.Nope.

Eventually I settled for singles of Nate...

And two cute ones of Will...And with that, I gave up my search for the perfect photo, put the camera away, and just played with the little guys.

I shot some video, too, but YouTube is being a little fussy tonight. Once it's online, we'll post it right here.

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Monday, July 28, 2008


Internet is back on, but it's hard to know how long it will last. So for now I'll just post a little something to prove I'm not dead, and promise more once we get Qwest out of our lives.

This clip comes via Oregon Media Insiders and is a thing of beauty. I've never been so happy not to be working on a Los Angeles morning show. And I've never been so proud of the people of my adopted home town. It's time the people started taking the power back.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Internet service went out on Monday. They said it could be out for 24 hours.

Twenty-four hours later... they have no estimated time of service resumption.

I've spoken to every person in Bangalore trying to figure out why service is out and when it will be restored (it's a system-wide outage).

Called the local cable provider to set up service. They can't send a tech out for a week.

The digital darkness will last a bit longer, it seems.

Qwest can bite me.

(sent from a local Kinkos location)

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I have other friends who write their children touching letters every month. I don't think I have that in me, but I can at least do it once a year.

Nate and Will:

You're two, and that's amazing to me. When you were born, your great aunt and uncle bought you some bigger-kid clothes. Your mom and I looked at them and couldn't imagine a day when you would fit into them. A few months ago, you outgrew those clothes.

You're both constant balls of energy, always running around and shouting out nonsense words in a pitch that only dogs and parents can hear. You move so fast that normal still photography can rarely capture both of you in the same frame. A few days ago, I tried to take a picture that had both of you in it, preferably both facing the camera. The photo you see above is as close as I got.

As you grow older, it's fun watching your personalities develop. Most intriguing is your ability to defy easy categorization. Most people like to slap labels on twins like they're members of some prefab boy band. "So, who's the quiet one and who's the crazy one?" "Who's the smart one and who's the athletic one?" The other option is to believe that you are identical. Neither model really works with you two.

What you have in common is exuberance and a happy nature. Like any budding two-year-olds, you have your moods. Sometimes you can get grumpy or fight over a toy or lose patience with each other. But for the most part, you're really good natured. You're happy most of the time, and you continue to be patient with your first time parents. You're both curious about the world around you and anxious to share your experiences with us, even if it's in a language we can't quite understand yet.

Most of all, you're excited about things. You're excited about the little plastic car you've pushed down the ramp. You're excited by the duck you've just seen in the pond. You're excited when your tired and sometimes crusty dad comes home from work. That attitude makes your dad somewhat less tired, and perhaps even a little less crusty.

But you are starting to develop your own differences. And it's been fun watching that, too.
Nate: over the past year, you've become a bookish daredevil. (note the bruise on your cheek in the photo above) You've discovered the joy of jumping, and your lack of fear has put the fear of God in your dad.
This is actually nothing new. When you were very little, I used to throw you high in the air. You loved it. You would look at me, expecting to be tossed even higher, but I always lost my nerve before you did. Once you started riding on swings, there wasn't one at the playground that would swing high enough for your taste.
Perhaps the best example came on Friday when you rode your first ever carnival rides. We strapped you and your brother into a small car, and you were both smiling. When the car started to move, Will burst into uncontrollable sobbing. And you? You were beaming. Your grin was as big as I've ever seen it. The wind was blowing through your wispy blond hair, and you were in heaven. Parents live to see their kids have moments like that.

Over the past year, you've also developed a love of books. For a kid who doesn't know how to read, you spend a lot of your time leafing through books. While you have many favorites, nothing can possibly equal "The Very Hungry Caterpillar." You read this book many dozens of times per day. You have your mom and I read it to you more times than we can count. Sometimes, you even read two copies of the book at once.

Fun story: when your mom and I went to Turkey last April, we left you and your brother at your grandparent's house. Your mom read "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" into an audio recorder just in case you started to miss her. When your grandpa played that audio, you grabbed your book and turned the pages at all the right times... even when your grandfather started messing around with the speed settings on the recording.
You also seem to love the taste of books. You eat a lot of books. Most of your favorite titles have huge holes in them, gnawed by you. A book can only be in this home for a few hours before some piece of it isn't missing. One day I'm convinced you're going to crap the complete works of Eric Carle.

Will: You're a daredevil of a different sort.

Although you're only two, you excel at social situations. When we take you to the nursery at church, you dive right into the fray, playing with toys and the other kids. You can often be found smiling at or waving to other kids, or your parents, or that dog that just walked in front of the house.You've also become very affectionate lately. You've learned to kiss, and you give your mom and dad kisses all the time. Now you've expanded your circle by gathering together all your stuffed animals and kissing them. (If you're not nice to me, I'll tell that story to girls you know when you're 16.)

You're also good about giving out hugs. When I come home, you (often) run towards me and give me a huge hug. Sometimes I'll ask you, "can I have a hug?" And you'll walk up to me, throw your arms around my neck, and rest your head on my shoulder. These hugs are some of the most cherished moments of parenthood so far. I will treasure them forever.

You're also quite a talker, Will. For a while, you would walk around the house pointing to things and repeating, "this one? This one? This one?" Now you've taken to constructing long and elaborate sentences out of sounds that aren't really words. I've even herd you whispering those sounds to yourself as you play with toys. Is this some fantastic language you've cooked up on your own, or are you simply running down every possible sound the human voice can make? I don't know but it is fun to listen to.

You have learned to speak with your hands, though. You use the sign for "more" a lot.

Coming up next is the stage people call "the terrible twos." It's the age where you little guys will start to assert your own will more than you have so far. For parents, this can be an unpleasant time.

But this year I hope that you will be able to retain some of the joy and the excitement of life that you're displaying right now. In the next few years, you'll learn to be cynical and you'll probably pick up some sarcasm as well (I don't know where from). But still try to hold on to a little of what you've got now. It will serve you well later on.

And finally, my birthday wish this year is the same as it was it was last year: that you see past the imperfections of this deeply flawed world you've been born into and find deep and lasting joy here, and in doing so, may you make the world just a little better than before you were here.

Happy birthday, little guys (for your 2nd, birthday, I promised I would stop calling you "babies"). I love you more than I could ever express in writing. But never forget that I love you. Always. No matter what.



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Friday, July 18, 2008


The big news on the Faroe Islands this week involves the arrival of a British Premier League team. Manchester City was in town to play EB/Streymur in the opening round of the UEFA '08 tournament. Not surprisingly, the Faroese team lost, 0-2.

But the most interesting story is about a bunch of rabid Man City fans that chartered a fishing trawler to see the game. They couldn't afford the flight, so they drove all day to Scotland, took a ferry to the Shetland Islands, then were to board a fishing boat for a 26 hour journey to the Faroes. A soccer magazine even supplied the lads with free beer for the journey.

The plan hit a snag when high seas prevented the boat from leaving on time. (link contains an amusing BBC story on the subject.)

Then a group of concerns including The Sun newspaper and the Faroese national airline sent a plane over to get the fans to the game.

Faroe Man has a more detailed telling of the story, complete with links.

This week's Faroe photo is the view from the nation's highest mountain. If Wikipedia is to be believed, that mountain is called Slættaratindur. The photo, and many more, can be found at this woman's photo gallery on Facebook.


Thursday, July 17, 2008


Rumor has it King Abdullah II of Jordan rode his Harley through Medford Wednesday morning.

I'm not making this up.

Apparently he's on a motorcycle tour through the northwest and his path took His Majesty through our humble town. It doesn't look like he made any stops here and it's unclear if she brought his wife, Queen Rania with him.

But it doesn't matter, I'm posting her photo anyway simply because she's clearly the hottest royal ever.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008


It’s summertime and, with the exception of a few staff shakeups, a threatened castration, and a cartoon brouhaha, the presidential campaigns are in the doldrums.

To fill the time during the long summer months, the chattering classes and nerds alike spend their time wondering who the candidates will choose at their running mates. Everyone knows it’s extremely important to pick a good running mate. For example, in 1988, George H.W. Bush picked this complete dolt named Dan Quayle to be his vice president and… well… he got elected president anyway.

Ok, perhaps the choice of running mate isn’t that important after all. And for the most part, the job of vice president hasn’t been that important. It has tended to be a job handed over to drunkards, murderers, and… a possible lover to a future president? Indeed, one man to hold the second highest office in the land said the office wasn’t worth a warm bucket of piss.

But the office has changed over the last decade or so. Al Gore and Dick Cheney have both taken on policy making roles and have given the once lowly office unprecedented power.

I, for one, think this is wrong. So I’d like to announce my intention to run for Vice President of the Untied States. I’m no respecter of person or party. I would be pleased to serve as either Barack Obama or John McCain’s vice president as long as they agree with my vision of the vice presidency.

First and foremost, I do believe that the vice presidency is worth a warm bucket of piss. Perhaps two buckets when adjusted for inflation. Second, I believe that the framers of the Constitution designed the #2 spot in the government to be a dull and unimportant post and that the most current occupants of have betrayed that original vision.

I believe the vice president should attend funerals of foreign leaders, cast tiebreaking votes in the Senate, and make $175,000 per year. I have attended many funerals in my life, so I’m perfectly qualified to do that (I even have my own black suit). I have cast tiebreaking votes on several occasions. One such vote resulted in my wife and I eating at Red Robin. I currently have no experience in making $175,000 per year, but I am prepared to submit a detailed plan on how I would spend it.

The more I think of it, I really do think that the job of vice president is worth several buckets of warm piss. You get a very cool house on Massachusetts Avenue to live in, access to your own plane, and a good seat for the State of the Union address. Furthermore, some of those dead foreign leaders live in nice places. Why not make a 3-day weekend of it?

In terms of political assets, I will probably be able to deliver Oregon who whoever selects me, or at least several people in Oregon. Obama may want to select me because there’s slim chance I could deliver Utah. He’s polling better there than many had expected, and I’m Mormon. Everyone in Utah dreams of one day electing a Mormon vice president. But I know a lot of people in Utah, so that may work against me.

So I now await the call from either the Obama or McCain campaigns. If cost is a concern, I would agree to work for only $150,000. But I’ll require at least two extra buckets of warm piss in exchange.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Internet service is once again out at our home. This happens several times per week and has been going on for more than a month.

We get our DSL through Qwest, but we'll be cancelling our service this week. We encourage all to do the same.

Normal posting will resume once we find a service provider that doesn't suck.

Friday, July 11, 2008


When searching for Faroe Islands news online, all you'll usually find is soccer news. Well, this week, the biggest news coming out of the Faroes really is soccer. The Manchester City Football Club (not to be confused with the more famous Manchester United) will be coming to the Faroes next week to play EB/Streymur. They'll be playing the first qualifiying round of the UEFA Cup tournament (it's a really big deal in Europe, I'm told).

Who/what is EB/Streymur? That's a fair question. There's not much information online except a short Wikipedia blurb that explains the team is the product of a 1993 merger between two other teams, one of which was formed in 1913. They play in a town of about 200 people. Man. City's home stadium could seat the entire population of the Faroe Islands.

As always, when a foreign team comes to the Faroes, the home team isn't expected to win. But who knows? Upsets have happened before. For more and better updates, Faroe Man is probably your best source. The game is on the 17th of this month.

For this week's Faroe photo, I was looking for a good picture of the city where EB/Streymur plays. I couldn't find any. Perhaps next week. Instead, I pulled a trio of pictures from a Facebook group on the Faroes. The top two photos are of the village of Gjógv. We've featured pictures of the village before, but there are a lot of good Gjógv photos out there. It's popular with the tourists and the shutterbugs, and it's not hard to see why.

The bottom photo was taken in the village of Bøur. It's a village of about 71 people. An online reference site contains an amusing legend surrounding the village, it involves one brother beheading another, absolution from a bishop, and eventual ruin for the non beheaded brother. It's quite a read.
All photos this week come from this woman's Facebook album. There are lots of great photos there.


Thursday, July 10, 2008


I need to write a full blown post about Mitchell and Webb while they're still in BBC America. I've said it before and I'll say it again: they may well be the second coming of Monty Python. Here's another great example...

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008


In my neglect of this space, it was the children that were hurt most. I've heard from a few of you that I haven't posted any photos of the little guys in some time. So here we go. Let's get a photo of the two guys together.
Ok, that's not going to work. Instead, let's divide and conquer. We'll start with Nate. I look at these pictures and realize that he's growing up fast. But he's turning out quite handsome, if I do say so...And as for Will, he's developed a thing for hats. Sometimes he'll wear three or four at once. Lucky for me, he was only wearing one when I started taking pictures.These pictures are just about as current as they get. They were taken just a few hours before I posted them here. That's important because they're changing so fast, the pictures become obsolete just moments after they're taken.

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Monday, July 07, 2008


I have neglected this space too long, but allow me to remedy that with a few more photos taken while in Istanbul. Yes, I know that was back in April, but there are still many good photos yet to be had.

This photo installment features our trip to the spice bazaar. Normally, I wouldn't care much about some ancient market selling spices. Quite frankly, I don't care about spices at all. But the spice bazaar also has pistachios. I really like pistachios and I lived in California for many years, and they've got great pistachios. Then I tried the nuts from Turkey. I will never be the same again. They are the best pistachios in the entire world. Overnight, I became very serious about pistachios. As a matter of fact, here's a picture of me standing outside the spice bazaar feeling very serious about pistachios.

Oh yeah, that's pretty serious.

So we go in the spice bazaar, me in search of the best pistachios on earth, Julie in search of... well... spices I guess.

And after a few minutes I must grudgingly admit the spice bazaar is pretty cool. The smells are wonderful and the colors, well...Most stores have their spices in colorful pyramids. They're just begging to have their photo taken.Twice.But perhaps the most heavily advertised product is a spice I've never heard of before: Turkish Viagra.Five times in the night? Good luck, indeed. So of course I have to buy some. But then I turn the corner and see...Aw man! Six times in the night? I've been ripped off!

Eventually we found the vendor that sold the specific type of pistachio that I deemed the best (and most vendors deemed the most expensive). They were worth every penny. Worth, perhaps, even more than ten times in the night... but that's hard to know for sure.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008


It’s early Saturday morning and I stagger onto a bus with about 40 journalists, most of whom are hung over. I’m not hung over, but I certainly look and feel like it.

We’re going to tour New Orleans’s 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish. Both neighborhoods were devastated by floods following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I’m uneasy about the tour. I interviewed countless evacuees when I was working for a television station in Texarkana. Some of their stories haunt me to this day. Now I’m on vacation, and I’m concerned their misery is being used for my entertainment.

Perhaps I’m making too much of this. After all, I’m a journalist. We’ve got a license to rubberneck. We pull over at horrific traffic accidents and start taking pictures. We walk up to people who have just lost a loved one and ask, “How do you feel?” Why should this be any different? Well, technically, I’m off duty. So that’s different. I feel guilty, but not so guilty that it keeps me from getting on the bus… with a camera.

Our bus eases down Canal Street, and an oppressively cheery tour guide explains how high the water hit various buildings. There are spray paint markings on various buildings left by National Guard troops, but the neighborhoods seem only a little worse for the wear.
Then we hit the 9th Ward. It is mostly deserted. Thick stands of weeds conceal the concrete slabs where homes once stood. I’m later told this represents progress. Not too long ago, the area was dotted with debris piles larger than most houses. Those have been cleaned up, and in their place is nothing. Whole blocks have been completely cleared of homes. Others have one or two homes looking fresh and rebuilt, dropped into a sea of weeds.
St. Bernard Parish is in slightly better shape, but that’s not saying much. Small community stores are open, but the area’s big box retailers still stand derelict in the middle of giant, empty parking lots.We stop at a high school and the principal tells us harrowing stories about the days that followed the flooding. Later the directors of the St. Bernard Project tell us about the army of volunteers who have rebuilt more than 100 homes in the parish.

They all begin and end their remarks by thanking us for coming to their neighborhood to view the destruction and rebuilding process. They’re worried they’re being forgotten as newer natural disasters grab the popular attention.
Implicit in their welcome is the understanding that we will go out and tell the world what we’ve seen. But it’s hard to know just what to say. By all accounts, things are much better than they were even a few months ago. More than half the population has returned to New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish. The work of the volunteers in these communities is substantial and helps restore my confidence in mankind.

But underneath it all is a lingering sense of despair and disbelief. Three years later, and this is all we could fix? Really? The country that brought you the Marshall Plan and the Berlin Airlift can’t get homes rebuilt on its own home turf? The country that can find 340 million dollars per day to fight the Iraq War can’t find the money to get New Orleans back on its feet?

I know it’s not that simple. Between private property rights and insurance and multiple layers of government, the scene I see outside of the bus as we head back to the hotel is a product of thousands of small individual choices that somehow add up to something larger. I know this. But that’s still no excuse for what’s happening, or more accurately, what’s not happening.

So what to make of this? What to say about this scene before me? There’s likely nothing I can add that hasn’t been stated more eloquently by the people who live in New Orleans and lived through the storm and its aftermath.

But I’ve still got an implicit promise to keep to the people I’ve seen and heard: the promise that I would write about them in whatever forum I write for (in my case, this little ol’ blog).

So I’ll post a few admittedly weak photos taken from a moving bus and pass along the message I’ve heard time and again down here. It’s a simple yet somewhat contradictory message.

First, New Orleans is back, please come visit. Second, New Orleans is nowhere close to being rebuilt and the trauma and sorrow continues three years later. Third, please don’t forget us.

After what I’ve seen, I doubt I ever will.

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