Faith Alone

“Symbolism is uniquely human. We use symbols to represent intangible things like our beliefs and emotions, and to convert the abstract into something understandable. This week, share a symbol with us.”

I am drawn to architecture, symbols and trappings of human religion when I travel. They represent so much of the culture to which they are tied, and reveal much of what comprises the elements of the communities surrounding them.


Too Late to Be Early

“6:00AM: the best hour of the day, or too close to your 3:00AM bedtime?”

Six in the morning is good, but five in the morning is far better. That’s when you can start to see the sun rise. The world is just beginning to wake up, but I’ve already been up for an hour or so. You’ve heard it from me many times before, so I’ll stop now.

3:00AM will never be my bedtime as long as I have any control over it.

The picture above was taken at just after 6:00AM. I love morning flights.

This post is a response to the Daily Prompt of June 25, 2015.


Learning Out of the Box

As a kid that was really good at academics, I enjoyed school a lot. When I graduated and started working, I longed for those summer months where I had no responsibilities. That time was filled with reading books, playing games, watching television and listening to music. School was also easy, at least when it came to the “work”. I had little trouble with most subjects, perhaps excepting Calculus. I blame the teacher, because he blew me off when I asked the most important question. “Please explain what the practical, everyday use of Calculus is?” I didn’t fail the subject but I had very little interest in imaginary numbers.

These days, I have occasional dreams of eventually being an educator. Not a professor or teacher, though I could see myself doing that. (I’m already a sometime instructor in my current career.) I’m interested in being an educator. Build a school. Design educational frameworks. And the way I would do it isn’t like anything in the world today. (The Finns appear to be at the forefront of education reform.)

I’d do away with “specialist” subjects that are core to many of today’s educational frameworks (bye, Calculus and Trigonometry). I’d revise the way certain subjects are taught (really, local and world history can be interesting if properly presented). I’d add in life skills to core “curriculum” topics, like cooking and accounting and writing and dancing and listening to people and music and at least two languages that aren’t your native ones. (Most kids these days appear to be bilingual by reason of parentage, geography and/or affinity.) And I’d make sure that kids aren’t stuck in school buildings all the time. There somehow, someway has to be travel to foreign places as part of education. It’s necessary. Appreciation and understanding of world history and cultures and situations is essential to a true education. We would teach religion,

I don’t know how to do a competitive grading environment in this theoretical education regime. I personally feel that competition is essential to education. It drives kids to excel. It’s also a true reflection of the world. When the kids grow up they can opt in or out of the rat race if they so choose, but it’s important that they see and experience it in an environment where they can’t get permanently hurt.

So yeah. I would want to return to school in the future. This would be my agenda.

This post is a response to the Daily Prompt of June 19, 2015.

“If you’re in school, are you enjoying your classes? If you’re out of school, what do you miss about it — or are you glad those days are over?”


Muscat by Dawn

Waking up to meet the dawn in a new country is something I never miss doing. Sometimes it’s a dud, especially when I’m staying in the middle of a city built vertically with steel, glass and concrete. I can get some interesting visuals, but that’s not very common. Some days, when I’m in the right place at the right time, I can get a surprising image. I’m a total duffer with a real camera, and I’m using a camera phone. On this one occasion, waking up in the city of Muscat, I got the image above. Capturing the bird in flight was pure luck. I didn’t even see it. Don’t tell anyone I know though, I’m claiming to be an undiscovered Annie Leibovitz.

“The theme for this week’s photo challenge is “Vivid.” Perhaps it’s your favorite flower in full bloom, a beautiful sunset or the color of your ice cream. Vivid is limited only by your imagination. Have fun with the challenge!”


Through the Desert

I don’t get to visit the deserts of the Middle East that often. I already wilt in 40 degree (Celsius) weather. Temperatures in excess of 50 degrees are incomprehensible to me. It’s a very different way of life out here in the GCC. I avoided experiencing a massive cyclone/sandstorm by a day. This region of the world will always seem to be off-season to me.

“This week, we challenge you to show us what off-season means to you. It could be the shuttered ice-cream stand in the Southern Hemisphere where winter is drawing near. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere it might your snowmobile peeking out from beneath its tarp, or your Christmas decorations arranged neatly in the attic. Feel free to interpret this theme loosely — consider objects at rest and unmoved, places that are stagnant or abandoned.”


The Need for Speed… Boats

“This week, share your photographs that have captured motion, and tell us the stories behind the images.”

The throng of houses-on-stilts in the background is Kampong Ayer, the Water Village of Negara Brunei Darussalam. The only way to get there is by taking one of the little speedboats that crisscross the banks of the Brunei River. I didn’t have the time or motivation to get into one of the water taxis to reach the village, at least on this visit. Maybe next time.