Saturday, January 27, 2007
photo by Jameson
As Keats wrote, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever." Such is the Pantheon, such the sculptures of Antinous and of Hadrian. See Hadrian's Eye below.
Today Dar goes from the Pantheon to the Villa Borghese.
Dar's abode: Hotel Pantheon.
Top 100 Photographs of Egypt and Rome:
Monday, January 22, 2007
Andy Roddick, Serving.
His first tournament win.
Photo by Jameson
For his quarter-final match, Andy Roddick easily beat old roommate Mardy Fish but lost to the tennis Master and ultimate slam winner-- Roger Federer in 3 sets. Nadal lost to Gonzalez who beat Haas for a place in the final. This weekend raised quite a racket.
Check it all out at the
Australian Open Webpage.
Serve an ace.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Quindlen: Write for Your Life
Jan. 22, 2007 issue - The new movie "Freedom Writers" isn't entirely about the themes the trailers suggest. It isn't only about gang warfare and racial tensions and tolerance. It isn't only about the difference one good teacher can make in the life of one messed-up kid. "Freedom Writers" is about the power of writing in the lives of ordinary people. That's a lesson everyone needs. The movie, and the book from which it was taken, track the education of a young teacher named Erin Gruwell, who shows up shiny-new to face a class of what are called, in pedagogical jargon, "at risk" students. It's a mixed bag of Latino, Asian and black teenagers with one feckless white kid thrown in. They ignore, belittle and dismiss her as she proffers lesson plans and reading materials seriously out of step with the homelessness, drug use and violence that are the stuff of their precarious existences.
And then one day, she gives them all marbled composition books and the assignment to write their lives, ungraded, unjudged, and the world breaks open.
"My probation officer thinks he's slick; he swears he's an expert on gangs."
"Sorry, diary, I was going to try not to do it tonight, but the little baggy of white powder is calling my name."
"If you pull up my shirtsleeves and look at my arms, you will see black and blue marks."
"The words 'Eviction Notice' stopped me dead in my tracks."
"When I was younger, they would lock me up in the closet because they wanted to get high and beat up on each other."
Ms. G, as the kids called her, embraced a concept that has been lost in modern life: writing can make pain tolerable, confusion clearer and the self stronger.
How is it, at a time when clarity and strength go begging, that we have moved so far from everyday prose? Social critics might trace this back to the demise of letter writing. The details of housekeeping and child rearing, the rigors of war and work, advice to friends and family: none was slated for publication. They were communications that gave shape to life by describing it for others.
But as the letter fell out of favor and education became professionalized, with its goal less the expansion of the mind than the acquisition of a job, writing began to be seen largely as the purview of writers. Writing at work also became so stylistically removed from the story of our lives that the two seemed to have nothing in common. Corporate prose conformed to an equation: information x polysyllabic words + tortured syntax = aren't you impressed?
And in the age of the telephone most communication became evanescent, gone into thin air no matter how important or heartfelt. Think of all those people inside the World Trade Center saying goodbye by phone. If only, in the blizzard of paper that followed the collapse of the buildings, a letter had fallen from the sky for every family member and friend, something to hold on to, something to read and reread. Something real. Words on paper confer a kind of immortality. Wouldn't all of us love to have a journal, a memoir, a letter, from those we have loved and lost? Shouldn't all of us leave a bit of that behind?
The age of technology has both revived the use of writing and provided ever more reasons for its spiritual solace. E-mails are letters, after all, more lasting than phone calls, even if many of them r 2 cursory 4 u. And the physical isolation they and other arms-length cyber-advances create makes talking to yourself more important than ever. That's also what writing is: not just a legacy, but therapy. As the novelist Don DeLillo once said, "Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals."
That's exactly what Gruwell was after when she got the kids in her class writing, in a program that's since been duplicated at other schools. Salvation and survival for teenagers whose chances of either seemed negligible. "Growing up, I always assumed I would either drop out of school or get pregnant," one student wrote. "So when Ms. G started talking about college, it was like a foreign language to me." Maybe that's the moment when that Latina girl began to speak that foreign language, when she wrote those words down. Today she has a college degree.
One of the texts Erin Gruwell assigned was "The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank. A student who balked at reading a book about someone so different, so remote, went on to write: "At the end of the book, I was so mad that Anne died, because as she was dying, a part of me was dying with her." Of course Anne never dreamed her diary would be published, much less read by millions of people after her death at the hands of the Nazis. She wrote it for the same reason the kids who called themselves Freedom Writers wrote in those composition books: to make sense of themselves. That's not just for writers. That's for people.
Darryl has gone via Italy to Egypt. Here is his path along the Nile:
Discovering Ancient Egypt I
January 16 – 26 , 2007
Join us on this customized tour of Egypt that is the result of research and experience on the part of our tour leader, Dr. Peter Lacovara.
Tuesday, January 16
Arrive Cairo airport, where you will be met by our representative who will help you with your immigration and customs formalities. Later you will be transferred to your hotel.
Marriot Palace Hotel
Wednesday, January 17
Buffet breakfast at hotel, we begin our visit to the famous Egyptian Museum, where you can see the world's greatest collection of Pharaonic art, including masterpieces from the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms and the Greco-Roman periods. An in-depth visit of the famous Tutankhamon treasures is featured on this tour. After lunch at the Nile Hilton Hotel, we proceed to the Gayer Anderson Museum, known as Bayt Al-Keretliya. The Gayer-Anderson Museum was the residence of a British Major, John Gayer Anderson, between 1930 and 1943. Anderson was an art lover and a great admirer of Islamic Cairo. His house is loaded with Islamic artifacts, paintings (both European and Egyptian), sculptures and many private belongings of him and his wife. The house is very well preserved with interiors and furniture intact. It consists of two houses, one of the 16th century, the other of the 17th, each comfortable by the standards of their time, and have been delightfully joined together. Then, on to the narrow streets and alleys that form the Khalili bazaars where you can enjoy watching skilled craftsmen working with gold, silver, and brass. Here you can buy hand made souvenirs at bargain prices.
Return to hotel.
Marriot Palace Hotel (B/L)
Thursday, January 18
Buffet breakfast at hotel. Depart our hotel to visit the Pyramids of Giza, the tombs of the kings, Cheops, Chephren and Mykerinus. Continue to The Sphinx, the largest single sculpture of all time where you will visit the funerary Valley Temple of Chephren and, beside it, the temple to which the Sphinx stands guardian. The Sphinx was carved from one solid piece of limestone and measures 50 meters (164 Feet) in length and 22 meters (72 Feet) in height. Then on to the Boat Museum. The Ancient Egyptians carved chambers in the rock, near the Pyramids to hold the boats that were part of the funeral procession of the King. One of these boats was discovered disassembled in 1954 and has been painstakingly reconstructed. The boat was 43.5 meters long, the prow and stern were 5 meters and 7 meters high respectively.
From there we drive through the Egyptian countryside to the site of Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt in Pharaonic times and the chosen city of the God Ptah. Although little remains of the ruins of this once mighty city, you will see the marvelous Alabaster Sphinx and the Collossus of Ramses II. Proceed to Sakkara, the necropolis or "city of the dead" near Memphis. Here you will visit the famous Step Pyramid of Zoser, which is considered the first stone building, as well as the first pyramid known to mankind! You will also visit its adjoining, fully restored, temples and the court for the ritual of the Heb Sed. Continue to visit the enormous Serapium, an underground tomb for Sacred Bulls, spreading for almost two acres under the ground. Finally a visit will be made to the Mastaba of Ti, a tomb with beautiful and well preserved scenes depicting ancient Egyptian daily life. We will also visit the brand new Imhotep Museum. Finally we will transfer to our hotel for check in.
Mena House Oberoi (B)
Friday, January 19
Buffet breakfast at hotel, start our day by visiting the Pyramid Of Meydum, which may have been the first Egyptian attempt at building a true pyramid. The pyramid was originally built as a step-pyramid, with over eight steps which were then to be filled in and covered by an outside layer. It was once thought that this outside layer, however, collapsed not long after it was built as a result of some errors in design, but now it is believed to have never been finished and the debris around the base are the remains of the original construction ramps. It is thought that the pyramid was built by King Huni or his son Sneferu, the 4th dynasty Pharaoh.
After Lunch we proceed to visit Dahshur, South of Saqqara and an extension of the necropolis. Here we discover the first true Pyramids in the history of Egypt, built during the reign of Snerferu, who was the father of Cheops, who built the Great Pyramid of Giza. Both pyramids date from the 4th dynasty. Both pyramids seem to have been built for the king, the imposing Red Pyramid, with its tint of reddish limestone blocks and the Bent Pyramid, which is probably the best example of the transition from step to straight pyramid.
Mena House Oberoi (B/L)
Saturday, January 20
Buffet breakfast at hotel. We will have the opportunity to observe the Delta landscape as we travel to Bubastis and Tanis, Zoan of the Bible and capital of Egypt during Dynasties XXI-XXII. Pharaohs of the period brought decorated stones and monumental sculptures from all over the Delta to embellish their temples. Today the site is an impressive outdoor museum. Lunch box will be provided between the visits. Back to Cairo.
Mena House Oberoi (B/L)
Sunday, January 21
Buffet breakfast at hotel, transfer to Cairo airport for your flight to Luxor. Arrive Luxor Airport. We will visit the Karnak Temple and the Open Air Museum enroute to our hotel for check in. Afternoon tea and tour of Chicago House, the headquarters of the University of Chicago's expedition to record and preserve the monuments of Luxor.
Optional: Sound & Light Show at Karnak Temple
Leave the hotel and drive to Karnak where you will attend the spectacular Sound & Light production. This 75-minute spectacle first takes you around the temple grounds, and finally the last act is played while you are seated along the Great Sacred Lake. The performance takes you through the temple and tells its history.
Old Winter Palace (B)
Monday, January 22
Buffet breakfast at hotel, cross the Nile to visit the Necropolis of Ancient Thebes, the city of the dead. Where the wealth of antiquities is outstanding. Explore the Valley of the Kings lying protected by the high Gurna Hills surrounding it. Here you will visit the tombs of Egypt’s splended Pharaohs. Deep-cut into the rocky mountainsides are the magnificent tombs of spellbinding construction and decoration. Visit the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, where the story of her Divine Birth is carved on the Walls of her temple, originally dedicated to the godess Hathor, deity of love and Beauty. The temple's 37 meter (121 Foot) - wide causeway leads us to three huge terraced courts; the Temple of Hatshepsut is as intriguing as the Pharaoh-queen herself.
Then we proceed to visit Tombs of the Nobles, these are the private tombs of dignitaries and priests during the New Kingdom and are remarkable for their colorful scenes of everyday life. Medinet Habu, the site is dominated by the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III (1194 – 1163 B.C.), the largest on the west bank and one of the best preserved. There are many fine paintings and reliefs bearing scenes of the King’s military exploits, including a unique portrayal of a sea battle.
Ramesseum Temple, the Mortuary Temple of Ramses II, although half in ruin, still has a romantic appeal due to the remains of a colossal statues of the king lying shattered in the first court. Reputed as the inspiration for Shelley’s well-known poem “ Ozymandias ”, it is as much a tribute to the superb work of the sculptors as to the king himself.
Then to the two Singing Statues of King Amenophis the Third, known as the Colossi of Memnon, facing the Nile. Box lunch will be provided today between the visits.
This evening we will visit the Luxor Temple and the Mummification Museum.
Old Winter Palace (B/L)
Tuesday, January 23
Buffet breakfast at hotel, we drive south by the Nile towards Aswan, and en-route will visit the Temple of falcon-headed, Horus – one of the finest examples of Ptolemaic art in Egypt.
70 km south of Edfu and 40 km north of Aswan is the Temple of Kom Ombo, also known as the dual temple of Sobek and Haroeris. Everything is doubled in this perfectly symmetrical temple: twin entrances, twin halls, twin colonnades, etc. This Greco-Roman temple is directly on the banks of the Nile.
Arrive Aswan, transfer to your hotel for check in.
Evening visit to the Nubian Museum, (the Nubian Museum is one of the most beautiful museums in Egypt and is the first museum to explore the rich Nubian culture). The museum features Nubian artifacts, weapons, pottery, utensils, paintings, and sculptures. Furthermore, it offers a show of Nubian dance and music.
Old Cataract Hotel (B)
Wednesday, January 24
Buffet breakfast at hotel, we start our day to the docks on Lake Nasser for a short boat ride to the island of Philae where you will visit the beautiful Temple of Isis. From there we proceed to visit Tombs of the Nobles in the west bank of the Nile. Finally we visit Elephantine and Sahel Islands. Group dinner at the hotel.
Old Cataract Hotel (B/D)
Thursday, January 25
Buffet breakfast at hotel, then we will transfer to the Aswan airport. On the way to the airport we will stop for a short visit to the unfinished obelisk, which was commissioned by Queen Hatshepsut, but abandoned after discovering a crack that rendered it unworthy for a queen's monument. We continue to Aswan airport for your flight to Cairo. Upon arrival at Cairo airport, we will transfer to your hotel for check in.
Le Meridien Heliopolis (B)
Friday, January 26
Buffet Breakfast at hotel, then you will be met by our representative and transferred to Cairo airport, where you will be helped with your check-in and immigration formalities for your flight back home. [Optional Lake Nasser Cruise January 25 – 30, 2007]
From Cairo, Dar will go to Rome for three days, staying next to the Pantheon.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
illustration from The Nation
Congress should do everything in its power to halt the march of Bush's misguided, guilt-infested ego, to end the occupation of Iraq.
My letter published Friday, Jan. 12 in the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Head off latest rush into disaster
Instead of trying to mandate democracy in Iraq by sending in more U.S. soldiers, President Bush should try to restore democracy at home by heeding the recent election and the clear will of the American people.
Sending even more troops into the Iraq civil war will only heighten the resentment of the Iraqi people, make the present government more dependent on us and sacrifice more lives to the stubborn "stay the course" policy.
Congress should do everything in its power to stop this foolhardy rush into disaster.
JACK MILLER, Atlanta
Read the Nation's response:
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
What better way to enjoy January than at the beach?
photo by Jameson
Let go-- as the waves let go of the sand. Ebb and flow to Miami, to South Beach and the Art Deco world.
The ego slips away into the warmth of the beach.
Miami awareness. Wherever we go, there we are.
Make a splash.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Photographs of the trip (click)
2006 ended with numerous deaths. Friend Joe Roman gave up his life for death's solace earlier this year. So many precious friends are hid now in "death's dateless night," to quote Shakespeare. The novel I am currently reading, Murakami's Norwegian Wood is the story of the effects of a suicide.
(Read the review "Rubber Souls" from the N.Y. Times.)
This year I begin my seventh decade, not with the wisdom I would like. Hence my wish: higher consciousness.
Form in the Redwoods
An astrological forecast in Connections, Savannah read: "2006 was the year of being asleep in the garden; 2007 is the year of being awake in the garden."
Today, I came across this heartening bit of insight:
ROBERT R. PROVINE
Psychologist and Neuroscientist, University of Maryland; Author, Laughter
Things Could Always Be Worse
Things could always be worse. Is this a cause for optimism? And if so, is this a form of optimism worth having — a wimpy, agnostic, non-committal, damn-with-faint-praise kind of optimism? Quite the contrary. It’s a rough-and-ready, rustic kind of optimism. This optimism is suited for everyday life and doesn’t fold under pressure. We have all heard of the "grass is greener" syndrome. This is its "grass is browner" counterpart, the achievable anecdote for broken dreams, and bolster of the status quo.
Psychophysics — the study of the psychological impact of physical events — indicates that more is not always better, and that greener grass, once acquired, quickly starts to yellow. We keep order in our lives because two inches always seem twice as long as one inch, but unlike length, other sensations do not grow in a linear manner. A tone, for example, must be much more than twice as powerful as a standard to sound twice as loud. As with tones, the quirks of our brain doom a path to happiness based on the accumulation of stuff. The second million dollars, like the second Ferrari, does not equal the satisfaction provided by the first, and a second Nobel is pretty much out of the question, a dilemma of past laureates. Goals once obtained become the new standard, to which we adapt, before continuing our race up the escalating, slippery slope of acquisitiveness and fame. Philosophers and scientists from antiquity to the present generally agree that life is a marathon, not a sprint, and the formula for happiness and well-being is the journey — not achievement of the goal — and the comfort of friends and family.This brings me back to my proposal, "things could always be worse." It finesses our biologically determined law of diminishing returns and the impossibility of keeping up with the Joneses. Lacking the understated nobility of "we have nothing to fear, but fear itself," my slogan would not lift the spirits of a depression-era nation, serve a candidate seeking political office, nor provide a philosophy of life, but it does help me to slog on. Best of all, my modest proposal is unconditionally true for anyone healthy enough to understand it. When things take a nasty turn, as they often do, celebrate the present and recite my slogan —"things could always be worse."
Call this realization a key step in the Tao.