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Archive for July, 2011

White hot summer

The eastern USA is in a heat wave right now, and I can tell you what is reported on the news is true.  I went to take the trash out yesterday.  I walked down one flight of stairs, walked 30-feet to my car, drove the car to the trash dump, and then drove back and came in the house.  My clothes were drenched with sweat from this little journey.

The air is muggy and you skin feels like its choking as you step out of your front door.  The sun beats on you with relentless power, just doing its best to break you down.  The buzzards have started to hang around, perhaps an omen of what is to come if you stay outside for too long?

It’s a white hot summer, a white hot Venusian heat.  Life is impossible without a tall glass of ice cold tea.  Iced beer helps too.  Just lay under the fan, don’t move except to sip your drink.  If this is not familiar to you, I recommend you read George Orwell’s Burmese Days to get a better description of what the heat is like.

I am surviving…eight more weeks and then it should at least subdue a bit.  Every year, usually in January, I start to look forward to the warm evening air.  And like an idiot, I forget that to enjoy warm evenings, you suffer in much worse ways.  The gods are punishing me, and will never let me escape from humidity.  If only I could get to Vancouver…or Stockholm…

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Leaving from work these Canadian Geese and their chicks blindly crossed the road without looking for cars. The geese are getting as bad as the yuppies these days! The chicks were cute though trying to waddle over the road…

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My wife snapped this one at Magnolia Gardens over in West Ashely.  Even the alligators do not sunbathe long in this heat.

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The heat may be killing me, but the vegetation and gardens are loving the heat and humidity.  My basil is going strong again this summer…some of it died out during the intense heat and drought in June, but I still have a few stalks growing tall.  I’ll make a beautiful paste sauce with this at the end of the summer.

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I am attempting jalapeno peppers this year…they are actually doing the best with the summer heat. My cilantro, once again, did not survive long.  I am not sure the peppers will make it though…they’re supposed to get to almost a meter in height, but no in late June they are still just a few inches tall.  I don’t know if they can grow in this type of pot actually…

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Sunsets are also nice in Charleston, they’re pink almost every night in the warm seasons

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My wife got an even better shot…looking at it you could almost forget you’re in Charleston…like somewhere in Thailand or Malaysia

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An Orlando trip

My wife’s best friend since secondary school visited us in mid-June. We decided to do a short trip to Orlando, FL to visit Animal Kingdom in Disney World. While I do not have much of an interest in theme parks, I decided that this road-trip could be litmus for the possibility of making a road-trip to Miami–where I could enjoy little Cuba of course–and perhaps even make an excursion out to the Florida Keys.

The drive from Charleston takes one along the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Northern Florida, before turning inland towards Orlando at Daytona Beach.  It is a long drive with very little scenery and takes around eight hours with lunch and bathroom stops included.  From Charleston to Daytona Beach, the drive is seven hours, and Miami is a further five or six hours.  I realized quickly that the idea of driving to Miami was not such a good one.  The railroad can get you to Orlando, but then you’d have to jump a bus or rental car to get to Miami…also five hours.  So there are two things we can draw from this:

  1. Florida is a REALLY long state
  2. Fly to Miami, don’t drive

We reached our destination though.  The only memorable things were the red skies over southeast Georgia due to the forest fires, and the natural palm trees every in Florida.  Unlike South Carolina, where the palm trees are planted by man, pruned for their appearance, and laid out in symmetrical patterns, the palm trees in Florida grow tall and grow wild–the way they should.  They even can keep their own in the pine forests!

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Disney World is huge — four them parks, a shopping mall, golf courses, various resort hotels and condominiums, and an extremely efficient highway system — all contained within the bounds of Disney World.  And if that is not enough, Sea World and Universal Studios are just down the road.

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Animal Kingdom is split into continent-themed areas.  This is a snapshot of the South-Asian/Indian Subcontinental section.  The Yak & Yeti Restaurant serves….hamburgers and fries.  What, did you really think they’d have curries and other subcontinental dishes?  I’d rather be in the real Nepal…

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I think this was supposed to be the Lion King tree, there are all sorts of animals carved into the tree, and the insides are actually an IMAX 3D theater.  Overall Disney did a great job hiding traditional human structures and blending them into their Animal Park theme.

IMG_0460Unlike the stupid humans walking around in the intense Florida sun and humidity, this gorilla had the right idea–a light brunch in the shade

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Where the monkeys roam and play

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This guy was a real showman.  He was just relaxing on the ledge when a crowd starting to form

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“Alright people, you want to get your admission ticket’s worth?  Just look at me!”  This monkey began to swing all over the apparatus showing off his speed and agility.

IMG_8111“I can even do pull-ups with my triceps and deltoids!”

Sorry for all of the monkey photos, I am endlessly fascinated by monkeys.  Just as my wife and niece about the time we all went to the Takao-san Monkey Park (高尾山 サル園)…

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We stayed in a time-share unknowingly.  Apparently the owners can rent out there time if they won’t be using it.  Since we stayed in Disney World, we could take the free shuttle buses rather than paying the $10/day parking at the theme park.

The heat in Florida was intense.  The humidity is not that different from Charleston, but the sun is much stronger and more intense.  I sweat more in Florida than I ever did in Taipei, and I was constantly having to hydrate myself.  The next day I had a horrible fever, no appetite, and little patience for anything…and I had to drive back to Charleston.  I have never experienced anything like it.  STAY AWAY FROM FLORIDA IN THE SUMMER!!!

On Disney World

I have always been of the opinion that there is not much of a reason for international tourists to visit the USA.  If you can tolerate our customs and immigration services and their draconian policies that actually detract tourism, you next have to deal with the fact that outside of a few cities, there is no public transportation and you’ll spend a fortune on rental cars, rental car insurance, and gasoline.  Why on earth would you visit the USA to see the cities with little-to-no history (outside of some on the east coast) or see natural sites that are hours away from any civilization with little to no services?

Well, after visiting Florida, I learned that you do not visit the USA for those reasons.  Only Americans and Canadians do this.  Instead, you go to Disney World and other Orlando area theme parks.  With the exception of Times Square in NYC, I’ve never see so many international tourists in one place in the USA.  “America…fine purveyors of Disney since…”

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