Wednesday, August 27, 2008
As mentioned in the Part 1 post, the nights of June 3 and June 4 will be spent at Migunga Forest camp outside the village of Mto wa Mbu. Mto wa Mbu literally translates as "River of Mosquitos". The local chamber of commerce might want to consider a name change. After a morning game drive in Lake Manyara National Park on the morning of June 5, we depart Migunga Forest Camp for our second destination, Ngorongoro Crater. The world's largest intact volcanic caldera, Ngorongoro Crater is a highlight of our itinerary that we visit on two separate occasions. Our lodging for the first two night visit to this location will be Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, located on the eastern rim of the caldera with a virtually private road for accessing the caldera floor. It definitely appears to be a step up from Migunga Forest Camp, with full suites, restaurant, solarium, and pool. The nights of June 5 and 6 will be spent at Ngorongoro Sopa, with a full day game drive on the crater floor on June 6.
On the caldera floor we may encounter some of Africa's densest populations of large mammals, including the endangered black rhinoceros. Somewhere between 10 and 20 black rhinos inhabit Ngorongoro, and this likely represents are best chance to encounter one.
The crater is home to roughly 25,000 large mammals, including 7000 wildebeast, 4000 zebra, 4000 African buffalo, 3000 Grant's and Thomson's gazelles, and lesser numbers of eland, mountain reedbuck, elephants, lions, and hippos. The larger Ngorongoro Conservation Area is also home to Olduvai Gorge, one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world.
Vitelline Masked Weaver
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Then to top off the weekend, I had to go car shopping today, which resulted in a new 2009 Mazda 3s hatchback in the driveway. My old Nissan, which I've owned for over 10 years, was still running fine, but at 181,000 miles was reaching the point where things were starting to fail. The air conditioning went out a month ago, it needed tires to pass inspection, I broke a wheel stud while rotating tires, it was about ready for brakes, etc. Since the registration was expiring at the end of August, I decided it was time for a new car. It sucks to have a car payment for the first time in six years, but I guess I really can't complain too much. I'm almost 42 years old and this is only the third car I've had to buy! If this one lasts as long as the last one, I'll be in the market for another new one somewhere around 2020.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I purchased an airline ticket today for my vacation next year - a 17 day safari through Tanzania arranged by my undergraduate mentor, Dr. Vin Lawrence. To ease the pain of shelling out that much money (the airfare had gone up almost $600 since I last checked a month and a half ago!), I thought I'd write about the trip to get me excited again. So, this is the first of a series of posts previewing the various spots we will be visiting on Safari. I leave Washington Dulles aboard Northwest Airlines at 5:35 pm on June 1, arriving in Amsterdam at 7:20 am on June 2. After meeting up with the rest of the group, we depart Amsterdam aboard KLM airlines at 10:30 am, arriving in Kilamanjaro, Tanzania at 7:55 pm. A total of sixteen and a half hours flying time, with a 3 hour layover. Upon arrival we transfer to the Klub Afriko Hotel (actually a series of 7 bungalows) outside the town of Arusha. On our first full day, we travel to Lake Manyara National Park for two nights at the "rustic" Migunga Forest Camp. Lake Manyara lies at the base of the Rift Valley Escarpment in Northern Tanzania. Smallish in size, Lake Manyara NP covers only 127 square miles, about two-thirds of which are the lake itself. The rest of the park is comprised of ground water forest, acacia woodlands, open grassland, and lake shore habitats. The name Manyara comes from the Maasai word for the plant Euphorbia tirucalli, which is used by the Maasai to construct living fences for livestock enclosures. Lake Manyara NP is best known for its baboon troops, and as one of only two places in the world with a population of "tree climbing lions". The lions of Manyara are well know for their ability to climb and slumber in the acacia trees around the lake.
Tree Climbing Lions in Lake Manyara NP.
The park is also home to hippos, elephants, buffalo, impala, warthogs, and giraffes, and over 380 species of birds have been recorded within the park.
Hippos in Lake Manyara
Woodland Kingfisher, Lake Manyara
Southern Ground Hornbill, Lake Manyara NP
Giraffes, Lake Manyara NP
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Last night the women's beach volleyball team of Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh claimed their second consecutive Olympic gold medal. They dominated their opponents and never lost a set throughout the tournament. I'm sure my salute to Misty in this space a couple of weeks ago provided the final bit of inspiration they needed to capture the gold. I mean, this blog has had forty hits, I'm sure one of those must have been Misty or Kerri, right? Anyway, congratulations Misty and Kerri for once again standing up and showing the rest of the world that, without a doubt, our tall hot chicks are better than their tall hot chicks.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Sarah Bareilles and Counting Crows singer Adam Duritz at Nissan Pavilion
If you had asked me to name a Maroon 5 song prior to the show, I would not have been able to. I was sure I had heard songs of theirs, but I never paid attention to them. Probably still won't pay attention to them, but I did recognize about four of the songs they played. Maroon 5 is the type of band that teenage girls graduate to when they've outgrown Miley Cyrus and the boy-band du jour. And there were many screaming females in the audience, singing along to every song. Some thoughts on M5:
1) They are most listenable when they're adopting a kind of 70's funk groove, such as on the songs "Harder to Breathe" and "Wake-up Call"
2) Lead singer Adam Levine looked disturblingly like actor Seth Green onstage
3) On some songs (e.g. Sunday Morning), I thought I was listening to 90's British singer Jamiroquai
Maroon 5 at Nissan Pavilion, 8/16/08
Counting Crows took the stage and opened with "Rain King", but halfway through the song singer Adam Duritz wandered into the middle of "Mr. Jones", prompting the lady sitting next to me to wonder just how stoned he was. We finally concluded the excursion was planned, as he eventually made his way back to "Rain King" and finished the song. The first few songs suffered from sound problems that made it difficult to hear the vocals, which was not helped by the fact that Duritz's vocal range falls squarely into the sonic range of the guitars. Those issues seemed to be worked out, though, and he was in fine vocal form the rest of the night. He also showed no signs of the ankle injury he suffered on stage a few weeks ago, which caused the band to play semi-acoustic versions of their set at several recent shows. The crows were joined onstage at one point by Sarah Bareilles and a bunch of kids for the song "Hangin' Around". I didn't keep track of a set list, but since this is a co-headline tour, sets were a bit shorter than you expect with a single headline act.
Counting Crows Singer Adam Duritz, Nissan Pavilion, 8/16/08
Counting Crows performing "Long December", Nissan Pavilion, 8/16/08
Friday, August 15, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Writer Joss Whedon's story of a high-school cheerleader who battles the undead suffers a lackluster debut as a movie, but resurfaces as a hit TV series. Includes interviews with Whedon and star Sarah Michelle Gellar, who came to the show as a 17-year-old soap-opera actress.
The cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer at a March 2008 reunion.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Below you can check out K's Choice in the video for "Mr. Freeze" off their 1995 album Paradise In Me, and Sarah doing an acoustic version of "The Soldier Song" off her 2007 release Shine. Learn more at http://www.sarahbettens.net/
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Anyway, to the issue at hand - Kiva is trying to win an award of $1.5 million from the American Express Members Project, which awards money to deserving organizations as selected by American Express Cardmembers. But you do not have to be a cardmember to participate here! Just go to: www.membersproject.com/project/view/P6KQEI
If you have an online account with AMEX, just login, if not you can login through the guest login button. You should be on the KIVA Loans That Change Lives page, if not you can get there by typing Kiva in the keyword search box. Once on the Kiva page, just hit the "Nominate This Project" button. At the end of September AMEX will award 2.5 million dollars to the top 5 projects, with the #1 project getting 1.5 million of the money.
And so, without further ado, the totally randomly selected athlete is.....beach vollyball player Misty May-Treanor! I salute you Misty for representing our country against the best beach volleyball players those damn foreigners can come up with. I salute you for the intensive training you endure, and your dedication to a vocation where you must wear swimsuits every day. As part of my support, I promise to follow your progress in Beijing very closely. I will salute you by watching every match, perhaps even TIVOing them so I can salute you over and over again. I may even salute your partner, Kerri Walsh, once or twice.
So thank you Misty May-Treanor. You make me proud to be an American.
Misty May-Treanor - American Patriot
Friday, August 8, 2008
First the ballad: "Almost Lover" by A Fine Frenzy. With a name like A Fine Frenzy, you'd think you might be listening to an indie rock quartet, maybe even an Emo band. But no, A Fine Frenzy is actually 22 year old Alison Sudol. Her debut album One Cell in the Sea has been out for just over a year, but I had never come across her until last week. Piano-driven melodic melancholia is an apt description for some of her songs, including "Almost Lover". But even the majority of the sad songs I find to be strangely uplifting at the same time. Melancholy lyrics set to an upbeat piano melody. Listening to songs on the album such as "Think of You", "Ashes and Wine", and "Almost Lover", you can't help but think that there is someone out there who has done this girl some serious wrong in her life. One commenter on "Almost Lover" had the following to say:
Yep, I think I agree with that. Here is Alison performing "Almost Lover" on VH1 .
"One day I will find the man who inspired her to write this song.
Shake his hand for introducing such a fine piece of musical art into this world.
And then kick the living shit out of him for breaking her heart."
The second song is "Cowboys" by Counting Crows, which for my money is the best song Counting Crows have released in years. When I first heard the song, I assumed it was expressing the frustrations of a man whose life had not turned out the way he planned "This is a list of things I should have been but I'm not; This is a list of things I should have seen but I'm not seeing". On repeated listenings I realized that it is definitely darker than that - it is a man on the verge of acting out on the perceived wrongs he has suffered; who feels insignificant and beaten down, and unnoticed by everyone- especially the woman he is obsessed with.
"The look in your eyes
As his fingertips slid down your neck and made you shiver
I'm just turning away from where I should have been
Because I am not anything, oh, anything, oh"
"You look at me, so please won't you look at me?
'Cause I'm not seeing you look at me
Oh, I will make you look at me
Or I am not anything, oh, anything, no, no, no, no"
Still a rocking song though!
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
"I am dumber for having watched this steaming pile for even five minutes. Please tell me no one actually got paid to create this dung heap"
"This is genius. ... I feel so sorry for people who won't "get it" due to inferior comedy genes within their bodies ("get'r dun")"Judge for yourself.
Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show
2 Hot Girls in the Shower