Sunday, August 09, 2009

Photo of the Day - 09 Aug 09

Flat Stanley and the Fu Lion 
Flat Stanley and the Fu Lion
Shrine Guardians


An online acquaintance asked me to help out with his son's "Flat Stanley" project. For those of you unfamiliar with "Flat Stanley", it is a book about a boy named Stanley who is accidentally flattened and then is able to visit his friends by mailing himself to them. It's been used as the core of a letter-writing and cultural exchange program called The Flat Stanley Project, in which kids send photocopies of a "flat stanley" to people around the world and ask them to document the adventures of their "flat stanleys".

I completely missed that little Hunter's project involved documenting food around the world, which is a real shame on my part because Japan certainly has some pretty interesting food. However, Stanley visited some places around Misawa, Japan, including a trip to see one of the local Shinto shrines. Here, Stanley has a photo taken with one of the shrine's stone guardian lions.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Photo of the Day - 05 Aug 09

Luck and Protection Geocoin 
Luck and Protection Geocoin
A Mystery SQUEEEE!


A little background for those who might not be in the know: geocoins are tokens, usually coin-like (but sometimes marvelously not) that are used in the game/sport/activity known as geocaching. Geocoins typically have a serial number engraved on them which can be registered (and tracked) using the tracking website.


Technically, the coin you see here is not actually a geocoin -- or, rather, it's not a trackable geocoin. The number you see there is a serial number, yes, but it is not a tracking number (as sold by, say,


This coin is a mystery coin. There's a very active community of people who make, sell, buy, collect, activate, and/or release geocoins at the Forums (message boards). Some of these people will, for some reason or another, occasionally mint coins that they then send, anonymously, to other addicts coin aficionados out of the goodness of their hearts (or because perhaps they really enjoy seeing the explosions of rapture on the message boards).


I went to the post office and found a parcel. I regularly order coins so this was not too terribly surprising. Still, I didn't recall ordering anything from the location indicated by the postmark and stamps (which I will not reveal here). What could it be? I ripped open the packet and lo and behold, out fell this coin!


I am particularly tickled because I have visited China (in 2000, before I joined the Navy). Note the "Great Wall" border. I have walked on that wall. I love the fu-dogs and am delighted that the coiner got this right: fu-dogs always come in pairs, one male and one female. The male has a globe under his paw, and the female has a baby fu-dog under hers. On the obverse are two beautifully-done dragons (I wonder if they, too, are male and female?).


I scored coin #78. Squeee! I've been carrying this around with me in my overshirt -- it goes everywhere with me, now. Thank you, oh Doubly-Lucky and Doubly-Protected mystery coin giver!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Photo of the Day - 01 Aug 09

Dubai - Bank Entrance 
Dubai, UAE - Bank Entrance
Bank - Glass-fronted Entrance

Here's another photo from my visit to Dubai in 2004; it is the front door of a bank in downtown Dubai. The use of this kind of glass is very common in Dubai -- entire buildings are covered in beautiful cobalt and dragonfly-green glass, with gold-colored ornamental metal tracery. It's a gorgeous city, a clutch of jewels laid out in the middle of the desert.

Contrasting with the absolutely stunning buildings such as this one are places like (not pictured) "T.G.I. Thursdays". To quote Dave Barry, I am not making this up. It makes sense, though, since Friday is the start of the weekend in Dubai. Some officers from the ship went there and I gathered from their stories that the place doubled as a brothel. I'm glad I was not there.

Instead, I was wandering throughout the city with friends and a camera, exploring the spice souk, the City Center Mall, and other interesting places. I didn't visit very many places in the Middle East, I'm afraid; Dubai really is the only one I'd be interested in visiting again.

Don't you think that the design on the bank's entranceway would make a great geocoin?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Photo of the day - 30 July 09

Dubai - at the Spice Souk 
Dubai, UAE - at the Spice Souk
Spices, Spices, Four Bags Full

During my (one and only, so far) deployment to the Middle East in USS McFAUL (DDG-74), we visited the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is an amazingly beautiful city. I and my buddies checked out the spice souk (bazaar). There were beautiful bags of spices -- and minerals, too -- everywhere.

One guy pulled us (women) into his store and tried to sell us breast-enlargement cream. Oy, weh! Still, Dubai was my absolute favorite of the various Middle Eastern places we went.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Photo of the Day - 28 July 09

Summer & Patrick at Hachinohe Park 
Summer & Pat explore Hachinohe Park
Summer & Dad at Hachinohe Park


All weekend long, the Air Force weathercasters teased us with the notion that Monday would be clear. Since that was my (single) day off this week, we planned to go check out the Hachinohe Park & Children's Land. Of course, come the day itself, it was definitely threatening to rain. But we went anyway.


One of the things about driving using an atlas is that the atlas simply marks where the streets & roads are. It tells you nothing about the character of where you'll be driving -- and the map that I have is decidedly uninformative about the width of the road, too. So we drove through some highly entertaining portions of Hachinohe, including along what appeared to be Hachinohe's main city street. We'll definitely try to go back there before we leave; the street featured several interesting bronze statues of which I'd like to go back and get photos.


We arrived at the Hachinohe Park & Children's Land and, lo, it was closed (closed on Mondays). But we still got a chance to wander around before the rain really started coming down. Not pictured: the extensive small-scale amusement park (complete with ferris wheel, merry-go-round, and other fun stuff for children), the petting zoo, or the botanical gardens. That'll have to wait for a sunnier non-Monday-or-Tuesday-after-National-Holiday.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Photo of the Day - 26 July 09

USAF Museum Tour - View of an Engine 
View of an Engine
This is a photo taken while working on one of my favorite geocaches, "USAF Museum Tour. I am afraid that I forget what in which aircraft (plural) this engine was the prime mover, but the engine itself was absolutely fascinating and beautiful. This geocache is called a "multi-cache" (tho I think it could more properly be called a Mystery cache) and requires you to tour the entire museum, collecting clues, in order to figure out the coordinates to the actual cache. It was one of the best days caching I've ever had!