Friday, August 29, 2008

Hazardous Place For Nesting


Viking Cave on Thailand's Phi Phi Island is home to thousands upon thousands of nests of the cave swift, a bird whose nest is actually edible. It's the main ingredient in Bird's Nest Soup, a dish that inspires shockwaves of gustatory delight all across Asia, and is one of the more expensive delicacies on the planet.

That's why the bird's nests of Viking Cave are under 24-hour watch from local security guards, some of whom are believed to be packing heat. It's an odd juxtaposition to consider in such a peaceful, visually beautiful place, where the loudest sound one hears in the lapping of the waves against the limestone cliffs.

If it weren't for the waves, one might be able to hear the tinny shrieks of 300,000 cave swifts asking "Who the F--- stole my nest again?"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pluto Is Still Pretty Upset


Pluto -- the celestial body, not the cartoon dog -- is still pretty upset about losing its planetary status a couple of years ago. If you didn't hear about this, Pluto, which since its discovery in 1930 had been considered the smallest and most distant planet in our solar system, in 2006 was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet', a new category that includes similarly-sized bodies like Eris and Ceres.

Not surprisingly, being relegated was pretty upsetting to Pluto, as well as to Charon, its moon, both of which had grown accustomed to their planetary status, mainly because it gave them access to the best parties. And to be frank, Pluto and Charon's melancholy still hasn't subsided, although the heavy drinking and compensatory late night carousing have tapered off.

To help forget the pain, Pluto and Charon are actually planning on taking a pottery class, and they've even been entertaining the idea of doing a little traveling -- perhaps to Earth, in order to exact some revenge on the astronomers responsible for the demotion.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Searching For Meaning


This is a face that has never not known a world of instant communication, that has never not known email, or the Worldwide Web, or an existence that doesn't include being able to pick up the phone and have a pizza delivered to your place in less than 15 minutes.

But the thing about kids is that they're always inquisitive, and long before the Internet arrived, they were making the best out of their situations, finding intrigue in the most mundane things.

For proof of this, you really don't have to look any further that the phenomenon that happens when a kid gets a gift, plays with it for 15 minutes, and ultimately ends up spending more time playing with the box, or whatever packaging comes with it. This is insight into the human mind, and a wonderful window into our tendency to always -- always -- look for meaning in the most ordinary things.

I Have Something To Tell You...


Hey, I bet you're wondering why I've asked you to meet me way out here in the middle of nowhere. Well, it's because I have to tell you something, and I didn't want to say it in front of everyone else.

I'm going to leave the village and start a new life in the city. I know, I know, it sounds like a rash decision, one that I might later regret. But frankly, I'm kind of bored up here, there just isn't enough going on to satisfy me. And there's a whole big world out there that I'd like to catch a glimpse of.

What's that? I've been watching too many Hollywood movies? OK, fair enough, you may be right. But it's more than that, it's about me wanting to learn more about myself, and while it's peaceful up here in the Himalaya, I want to challenge myself more, and the city sounds like just the place to make that happen. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Landing At LAX


Runway 24R and 24L at Los Angeles International Airport are actually two of the most frequently filmed airport runways in the world. This is due to fact that there's a public park less than a football field away from where the runways begin, which allows people to stand and gawk as giant aircraft go screaming overhead. So next time you're watching a movie or TV show which includes a landing scene, it was probably filmed right in this little park.

It's a pretty humbling experience when you see a 747 materialize in the distance, growing slowly larger and larger as it approached the runway, until it eventually fills your entire field of vision, not to mention your ears. After the WOOSH of its passing, the next sound you hear is the squeal of the dozen tires that a 747 needs to cushion its 100 ton bulk.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Dreaming Of The Grandkids


Meet Mei Ling, a 57 year old seller of notebooks and other stationary items. She's been playing her wares on the streets of Shanghai for the past 17 years, and has made a pretty decent living from her toils. The job isn't exactly exciting, but Mei Ling does enjoy watching people, and there are no shortage of those in the teeming markets of China's most commercially crazy city.

Right now, though, Mei Ling is taking a little sidewalk siesta. She's actually recoveing from what ended up being a pretty late night. Her daughter is in town from Shanxi province, and brought the 2 year old grandkids for a visit. Those little devils crawled all over Mei Ling's house, and she found herself continually running after them to avoid different disasters, particularly ones involving her treasured China collection.

That's tiring work, and is a big reason why Mei Ling is snoozing. But she does adore her grandkids, and hopes her daughter stays in town a while.

Friday, August 1, 2008

You Want A Piece Of Me?


Wait, am I understanding you correctly? You want to fight me? You want a piece of this?

You CANNOT be serious. I beg you to reconsider. You have absolutely no idea how badly you would get beaten in such a scenario. All's I know is that you are asking for trouble, and if you really want it, I will be happy to oblige.

What would happen, you ask? First I would peck you with my razor sharp beak. I actually file it every night before I go to sleep. Then I would stomp the hell out of you with my scaly claws. These puppies are pretty rough, like sandpaper! Sharp, too.

Anyway, are you sure you want this? If so, let's do this! I'm so down for it. Right now!