Recap from my Trip to India (Random Pics and Words)

Just got home from India and I am very “thankful” to be home.  I had a rough trip home that lasted almost 40 hours with delayed airplanes and missed connections.   All of this reminding me how much I missed my family.   I will share some very random pictures… Some interesting, many weird and one or two touching.  (At least they were touching to me)

I want to start with two weird pictures from Paris.

WPD Paris 02

The photo is for “Brow Powder”. (What exactly is “brow powder”?… and does this mean that animals tested it on humans?)   I am wondering does it make your eyebrow look like the eyebrow on the left or right of this girl?  My guess is the one on the left since this is what I imagine a gorilla wanting the eyebrow to look like.

WPD Paris 01

This window display with the oddly cool/sexy sheep (wow do I feel wrong saying that) caught my attention.   Regardless of how you feel about a red headed sheep… please just “Say no to uncool wool”.

Now it is time to share pictures from India…

First some pictures that represent my personal glimpses into the fascinating world of India.  Scenes that made me smile and others that broke my heart… Scenes that made me grateful for what I have and others that touched my soul changing the way I look at the world.   (wow… that last part was a bit dramatic… I am going to leave off “words” and let you perceive them in your own way)

India November 1

India November 17

India November 15

India November 2

India November 26

India November 25

India November 4

India November 18

Now… for my typical tourist pictures!

India November 19

On my drive to Pune I love looking at all of the trucks which are usually fantastically decorated.   This truck had “wait for side” written on the back… I waited expecting something… and well nothing.   I have no idea what “wait for side” means.

India November 21

Here is another back of a truck message that I just don’t understand… “MILK NOT FOR SALE”…. I saw this on many trucks.   Why are they saying that the milk is not for sale… what is the milk for? (can’t be for “rent”)

India November 20

I have driven this toll road from Mumbai to Pune at least 8 times this year and have never noticed this sign… “Caution!  Accidental Prone zone”.   Wonder how many others have missed this sign

India November 22

Obviously this truck didn’t see the sign…   The cab was completely burnt.  I hope the driver was ok.  (Must have been “Accidental”… you know… the zone is prone to that kind of stuff)

India November 8

At the local grocery store I noticed this “free water dispenser”.  I am always very careful with respect to drinking water in India.  I am even more careful when I notice that everyone shares one metal cup to take that drink.

India November 11

I bought this at the grocery store and had it eaten in about 30 minutes… then I noticed it was a “FAMILY PACK”.   I feel like a pig… Is this really considered a family pack in India?

India November 10

Speaking of food… CUSTARD APPLE?   I have never had one of these… I wanted to buy them but had no idea how they must be prepared.   Anyone out there… are they good?  How do you eat them?

India November 9

Let me just say one thing… I need this sign for my home bathroom with a switch that lights it up and the bathroom ventilator at the same time.  (I also like the “WATER LEAK SYSTEM HOOTER”… )

India November 12

“Not all addictions are harmful”… my new personal mantra…  although the sign does draw the line at smoking.

India November 13

Last sign… and yes “SIZE also matters”.   My co-workers pointed this out and said this one is directed at me… and that I needed to take this picture for my blog.  I said that I didn’t find it funny… (nor did I appreciate their innuendo)

Thanks India for another fascinating trip and thank you everyone who has taken time to stop and view this post!


Which way should they be going?

While in India as I travel to and from work I wonder how anyone is able to drive here.   I simple don’t dare drive a car and in fact I even have a difficult time sitting in the front seat.  Honestly everyday I believe we are going to get into a serious crash or worse kill someone.  Look at the cute family in the feature picture (4 on a scooter)… imagine heading strait for them.  (I have been in three accidents here… fortunately nothing more than small taps… the last of which upset my driver so much he got out of the car and ran down the road chasing the scooter… leaving me alone in the taxi with cars honking.)

I mentioned in a previous post that I had an idea for a coffee book.   (One of my life’s ambitions is to create a coffee table book)  This book would be called “Which way should they be going”.  It is based upon a game I play with Ben (my 8 year old) while showing him my pictures of India.   The only way I can get him to even pretend interest in my travel pictures is by showing him pictures of traffic and asking him “which way should the cars be going”.   Even with the game Ben finds it difficult to sit through all of the pictures. Honestly I can empathize with Ben’s struggle since I remember well from my own youth that travel pictures are a subtle form of torture.  I still force him to sit with me and suffer the pain inflected by my “work trip” picture…  it is now my turn to torment with travel photos.. you know… circle of life.

I want to share with you some “candidates” for the coffee table book.   As you look at the picture play my game and try to decided which way the cars should be going.

which way 01

which way 03

which way 06

which way 04

which way 02

which way 05


I feel like I just tortured all of you… (queue circle of life music)

Weekend in Paris

I am off to India again for this coming week. (the feature picture is not India… I don’t want to confuse anyone)

Instead of having a stinky marathon travel fest… yes after 20+ hours I usually am quit stinky… I decided to break up the trip into two segments with a half day and night in Paris.  I was accompanied by three coworkers two of which were Paris virgins.   (that reads a bit weird… virgin meaning never been to Paris… again don’t want to confuse anyone.)  They asked if we could go site seeing and I said half a day is more than enough time to see all the major sites in Paris.  (It is not lying if you are very vague with respect to your interpretation of the “major sites of Paris”)

I have been playing with my camera settings (pretending to be a photographer… see I am not a stalker… promise) and most of my Paris pictures are very bad. I finally notice that I had messed up a setting and fixed it quit late in the evening.

Here are some pictures of our afternoon in Paris. I will be adding words… but they are not mandatory reading.

Here we go!

Paris November 01

We dropped off our bags at IBIS (Cheap but not horrible hotel at terminal 3, Charles de Gaulle airport) and caught the RER to Paris.  My coworkers wanted to take a taxi but how can you see Paris without using the Metro.   We got off at the stop you see above… (Saint Michel… I love the Art Nouveau styled metro stops.  You can see the awesome sign with the two lamp posts shaped as lily of the valleys)

I may have mentioned this before but this stop is in the Latin quarter and back in the 80s I used to buy gyros packed with fries just a half a block to the left of this picture.  After buying them, I would walk another block and cross the Seine and eat the gyro and fries in front of Notre Dame.

No matter how hard I “vocally reminisced” about this my co-workers were not interested in eating.  “We are not hungry yet” was all they said.  I still held hope and had a secret weapon.  I walked them down the street and showed them this sign!

Paris November 02

Who can resist a “SUPER ASS GYRO”?  (they did… darn them…)

Fortunately we did walk to Notre Dame (they had not choice I was the guide) unfortunately our hands were empty.   (Just not as awesome without the gyro)

Paris November 05

This is the picture that I noticed that my camera was messed up. I knew that I had a setting that was off so as we walked I tried to fix my camera.  I hope you are able to forgive me for the poor quality.  After a quick peak at the cathedral I suggested that we walk across the other side of the Seine and visit the Louvre.

I imagined us just walking up to the entrance and then off to our next “major site”.   One of my co-workers wanted to visit the museum and they all decided that 1 hour should be enough time to see the Louvre.   Who was I to argue plus nowadays nobody actually looks directly at the art.   They all have their backs to the art with their phones pointed at the art and themselves to capture selfies.    I find it funny that many people spend more time looking at the amazing works on their phone screens instead of directly at them.  If you don’t believe me here is some proof.   The first is me taking a picture of people at the Mona Lisa.  (They should all be looking to the left… the direction of the painting)

Paris November 03

Here is another example. (venus de milo)

Paris November 04

It is almost crazy how many people have their backs to the art… (Am I creepy for taking a picture of a couple taking a selfie… hmmm is it still a selfie if you are taking it with a work of art?)

I just realized that I am criticizing everyone for turning their backs to the art and I actually spent most of my time looking at people… not the art… hmmm…  I just went through my pictures and they are all of people taking pictures of themselves.   I might have to get therapy.

Let me continue with our day in Paris.

After a crazy run through a very small portion of the Louvre.  We  decided to have lunch.  I thought they would complain about not really getting to spend much time at the Louvre but they all agreed that even a tiny bit of time there was an amazing experience.

We ate lunch at Cocorico…  (random café next to the musee d’orsay).

Paris November 13

I had to steal these pictures from a co-worker… (let’s call him Nate… my pictures at this time were all bad… I was still messing with settings.)  We ordered a “plateau de charcuterie” and “fromage”.. (meat and cheese…  you can’t go wrong… see Nate’s picture below)   Food is an important part of any French tour regardless of how much time you have.

Paris November 12

After eating we were off to the Eiffel Tower.  (the picture below is mine… I almost have the setting fixed by now)

Paris November 06

We waited in the security check line for 20 minutes.  We ran over to the pillar that was open for walking up the stairs (usually the shorter line) and as soon as we arrived they announced that it just closed.  I tried shedding tears and mentioned that it was our first and only day in Paris.  The city employee was not moved by my emotional plea.  With some bit of Parisian smugness, she told us go to the other pillar and wait for the elevator.

We looked at the elevator line and it was over two hours.   I promised that we would return later (I can’t be trusted) and said it would be a good idea to take a boat tour of the Seine.

Paris November 14

I stole this picture on the boat from Nate (messed my camera up again… gesh).  The boat tour is always incredible but it was really chilly this night.  Towards the end of the tour we were some of the only ones left on top of the boat.   It was either the cold wind that chased everyone down inside the boat or it was the overly romantic couple who were trying to heat the top deck in their own special way.  I think Nate was the one who said since they invited us to be a part of their special romantic moment… we should at least have a say in naming the baby.  I would have taken a picture of the couple but I wanted to keep my blog family friendly.

After the boat tour ended we stopped back at the Tour d’Eiffel and I feinted a surprise when we saw that there was still a long line.  I suggest we visit the arc de triomphe.  (Here is the last stolen picture from Nate)

Paris November 15

It was suggested that we should climb to the top.  I have been here many times but have never visited the top.  I was kind of “giddy” to experience something new.  I let them decide but made sure I offered a subtle hint by adding the sneaky line “This might be your only chance to get a good view of the city since there is such a long line at the Eiffel tower”.

I am ashamed that I had not bothered to do this years ago.  The view was amazing! and so are the spiral stair cases going up and down.   (I sat down and fixed my camera before I started the ascent).

Arc de triumph

This is looking up…

Paris November 09This statue is just before you go up on top of the arc.  (This reminds me of Isabelle when she realizes I have just done something really stupid)

Here is on top… imagine the 360º view you have of the city.

Paris November 16

Arc de triumph 2

Finally the way down.   You can get dizzy walking down these stairs.  I actually fell.  I wasn’t hurt at least physically. I had two young French ladies run over and ask me if I was ok.   How embarrassing… I hope they thought I was drunk and not some old guy struggling to make my way down.  (Still sensitive from the Halloween old guy costume)

As you can see from the pictures our day was almost gone so I said we had one last thing to do before our tour was over.   We located a Monop’ (grocery store) near the Arc and bought my favorite chocolate (only found in France during Christmas time)

Paris November 10

This chocolate is the only thing I really wanted to visit anyway…. much better than the top of the Eiffel tour.  (This was not just a way to make everyone feel better about missing the climb to the top… but I can earnestly say that it is better… at least in my opinion)   If you have not had this I believe it is the best tasting chocolate in the world.

Paris November 11

I also bought some tomme de savoie… love this cheese! and it is right now in my hotel fridge here in India.   (I brought my food again…  I know shame shame)

Stay tuned for stuff from India… and at the end of the trip I will be sharing my weird pictures!

I am not a stalker… promise

I did some more dyeing and fiber fun stuff but that is not what this post is going to be about… I want to be profound this week… (stop laughing… I am being serious)

Before I “pontificate” I will share a picture!


The above picture was a gift from Claire…   More alpaca fiber and a beautiful color!!!  Thanks to Claire I spent several hours this weekend lovingly pulling vegetation and poop out of these fibers.  She also sent me a card with a picture of the nearby beach.   Do you notice that the sand matches the fiber?   Coincidence?  I think not… (I know that didn’t make sense… I am folding under all this try to write something profound pressure)

I added this picture as proof of the incredible kindness of those of you who I have come to know through my blogging experiment.  Many of you have shared such amazing posts.  Posts that have made me laugh, become emotional (umm… no tears… I am too manly), and most of all think… and think beyond my typical what the heck did they write thoughts… but thinking that made me question my preconceived view of the world.

All of this thinking because I started a blog almost twenty months ago. During this time I have met fantastic people and I honestly feel like I share a true friendship with many of you.  I find myself curious about your projects, your day to day lives, and most importantly your inner thoughts.   I can’t wait to see what many of you will share next.

Wow… just re-read that and it makes me sound like a crazy stalker.

For those of you who are quickly moving their mouse to the “unfollow” button…. I don’t think I am a stalker… as least not a dangerous one.  (hmm I am going to have that going through my mind every time I click “follow” on a new blog..)  I just looked up the definition… and well I do show an obsessive attention but hopefully I am not harassing or persecuting anyone.

OK… let me get to the point.   In the past months I have really appreciated some of your words and I felt like I am taking and taking.  As a child I learned that if you take and take and take… the other ends up a “stump”.   Only good for being sat upon…   (for those who are worried I am high because you are not aware of what I am referring to below is the source of my stump story…  Should be called the “enabling tree”).

This is one of the saddest stories I have ever read.   One abuse after another… and worse at the end the tree is happy… talk about codependency.

umm back to the topic…  I think some of you know who I am talking about but I have been touched by both your comments as well as what you have written and I want to give back.  I really want to give back… I don’t want any of you to become stumps.

I have been working all week on something “profound” to make all of you think thoughts beyond… “what the heck is he writing”.

Well… it has been a struggle and I almost gave into plagiarizing someone else.  I decided to take a break and google photography.  (the good kind not what you are thinking).  I found a site called GuruShots.   It is like a social networking site for photographers which includes contests.  You post photos following a theme and others vote for the best pictures.

I love photography and contests and I decided to join.   I entered myself into the black and white flower contest.   (I am not a photographer… but I have a camera… so how hard could black and white flowers be?)

Here is the first flower I posted… (had to “Photoshop” the flower to make it black and white)

GuruShots 2

This is my favorite flower picture…  I posted it here already stating that it reminds me of a Dr. Seuss tree.   After impatiently waiting (they wont let you vote for your own) I just didn’t get the votes that I felt I deserved. hmmmm… maybe the contest is rigged.

I went and looked at the top 100 black and white flower pictures.  I immediately recognized a formulaic pattern.  I first noticed that the flowers all were bright white and had drops of dew on the petals.  I wondered if I could get more votes if I put in a flower that followed this pattern.

I found the sunflower picture that I used for this post’s feature picture.  I notice some dew drops… so I converted it to black and white. (see below)  I am not sure that I like it but it “fit in” with the other winning pictures.

GuruShots 1

I could not believe the difference in voting.   My first received 32 votes and this picture received 469 votes. (plus 9 loves… can you believe 0 loves for the Dr. Seuss photo)  The competitive side of me went back to seeing what else I could do to make a picture in the top 10.   I noticed that the top pictures had just the flower… no background… hmmm what if I did some more “Photoshop”?

GuruShots 5

I stopped and realized that I was no longer submitting photography that I liked.  These photos were not me… they were just “VOTE BAIT”… I might just as well have been submitting copies of the top photographs.  (That probably would have gotten me disqualified… and caused a scandal… hmmm maybe I will do it just for fun.)

I thought about this and looked at my life. I wonder if I studied popular people… could I copy charisma or find the patterns for charm?   Could I fake my way into incredible popularity and success?  Could I actually be considered SEXY and COOL?  (sexy might be pushing things)

I spent considerable time pondering all of this… especially the sexy part.  After several days since entering the contest I realized something deep.  (I didn’t copy the winning one and submit it… as fun as that would have been) I just voted some more (still can’t vote for my own pictures) I also revisited the top 100 black and white flowers and found myself incredibly bored.  I am even bored with my “popular” flower….

Bored in general with black and white flowers except one… yes I still love my Dr. Seuss flower.   There is a lesson in this somewhere… I am quit sure.  (if you were waiting for something profound… well that is the best I can do)





Happy Halloween

I was not able to post this weekend so I am catching up on a Tuesday.   I have learned something very important this Halloween and I want to share it with all of you.

I am too old to dress up as an “old man” for Halloween….

I put white gel in my hair and on my beard, put on suspenders, an old cardigan, a bow tie, old glasses, and an “old man’s” hat.   When others in the office saw me they asked… “Who are you dressed as”?

I probably would have looked past this but when I explained that I was “disguised” as an old person many just said “I don’t get it”.  I tried to explain my costume by talking about my “old people clothes” and one very very… insensitive co-worker went as far as saying… “This is how I picture you dressing on the weekends.”

I THINK IT IS TIME TO LOOK FOR A NEW JOB… (unacceptable hostile working environment… for those of you who don’t know me well…   I love my co-workers and my job…  just not sure about Halloween anymore. )

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  (be safe… )


End of Fall Dyeing with Gardenia Fruit

This week I am going to share with you some more experimentation with natural dyeing.  (Wonder if there is such a thing as unnatural dyeing) I ordered gardenia fruit from Etsy after reading that it was used as a traditional yellow dye in both Japan and China.  The fruit is also used in traditional Chinese medicine as an agent that calms, clears and cools (not sure what is meant by cool).    While being calm, clear and cool sounds nice I will not be eating it this weekend.  (I assumed you eat it… maybe I should sneak this into my wife’s plate… just to see if it works)

Before I share with all of you my gardenia fruit dyeing I want to share some of the last pictures of fall.   The colors are almost gone and I promised myself several weeks ago I would appreciate the fall colors before it was too late (see Weekend and Fall Colors )

Here are a couple of pictures from a small family walk:

Midway October 05

Midway October 01

Midway October 04

Midway October 02

Now back to the dyeing!

The gardenia fruit came with instructions for dyeing cotton and silk cloth.   Once you see the color you will realize as I did how beautiful this would have been on silk.   It is just an “ok” color for wool according to my family… who also mentioned that is very “bright”… too bright for their scarfs.  (Yes I have to make everyone a scarf now… and I can’t just use random colors.. they are draining the joy away one rejected color at a time )

Sorry for the rant… back to dyeing (again).  I had to kind of improvise a process by borrowing steps from either the cotton or the silk sets of instructions ( I made the choices based upon which steps were easier).  I had to leave out steps like vigorously stirring… since stirring the wool fibers in hot water would result in a yellow blob of felt.


(if someone has better instructions or steps please feel welcome to share them)

Step 1

I wrapped the fruit (about 30 grams) up in cheese cloth (easier than straining it out later…  This is my addition… clever huh!)  I put the bundle into 6 cups of water and simmered for 20 minutes.

Gardenia Fruit 00


Gardenia Fruit 01

Step 2:

I poured the initial bath into a container, crushed up the fruit, and then put it into 6 additional cups of water and simmered this second bath for 20 minutes.

Gardenia Fruit 02

Gardenia Fruit 03

Step 3:

I separated enough wool to be covered by the 12 cups of water… (this was by eye… I know I should be weighing it…  sometimes you have to “wing it” … umm at least my lazy side believes that )  I placed the wool for 1 hour in a alum (11 grams), tartaric acid (8 grams) and water(didn’t measure but it was near 12 cups) mordant.  The mordant must be hot.  I drained the wool but this time I didn’t rinse it out.

Gardenia Fruit 04

Step 4:

I put both baths of dye back together and brought it up to about 120 degrees (F) .  I added in the wool (damp) and let sit for 20 minutes.   In the cotton and silk instructions they did multiple dips… but I liked how it looked after 20 minutes and I was too lazy to add multiple rinse and dye steps.

Gardenia Fruit 05

Step 5:

I rinsed wool and let  it dry (be careful not to introduce extreme temperature changes with your rinse or you will get felt)

Gardenia Fruit 06

I actually find the color to be spectacular very rich and very beautiful. (despite what my family thinks… perfect for any scarf)

I decided to spin the wool and you can see that spinning in “action” in the picture below.  I am not sure you can tell but I am wearing my “Japanese” pants in honor of this dye. (I  actually use these as pajamas and lounging around the house pants… this was just a coincidence.)

I also noticed in the picture how relaxed my feat looked while I treadle the spinning wheel… that kind of surprised me (you can’t tell but my feet are are moving up and down)

Gardenia Fruit 07

Below are two pictures one is the final two ply yarn and another is the mix I made because my wife requested a mix (white and yellow)  I was hoping she would allow this to be used for a scarf… but even with the mix it is still a no.    I couldn’t even talk my youngest son into the yellow.   (What am I going to do with this yellow?)

Well… that is all…. next color will either be indigo or orange.   (Ben wants orange… not yellow for his scarf.   Not sure what I will use for orange… any advice?)

Gardenia Fruit 08

Gardenia Fruit 10

India Trip in October

I am already back from India… and it only took me 30 plus hours of travel (the “only” was to be read with a sarcastic tone).   I am disappointed in the fact that I couldn’t stay for Diwali but at the same time it is very nice to be home with my family.   This trip was a very quick trip and all of my time was spent working.   I still want to share several pictures of my trip… (even if many of them are taken from taxi rides)

These pictures are going to be somewhat random… and if you are not familiar with me… they may seem somewhat odd.   I wished I had better pictures but again I was very short for time.


Below is a picture I took to send to Isabelle and I didn’t even have time to send it.   This picture was originally just meant for her but now I will share it with all of you.

India Trip 01.jpg

“I donut know what I’d do without you”… and I mean that sincerely. (maybe a bit more sincerely with respect to Isabelle… hmm I wonder if she will see this? and I wonder even more if she will still appreciate it after seeing that I shared it with everyone)

I always like taking picture of signs especially advertisements.   I find the cultural differences to be fascinating.   The sign below I thought was incredibly “scary” (could be advertising a haunted house) but after consulting a couple of co-workers it was explained to be “good” luck to place this on your home. (in my obviously cultural biased opinion I believe you are still asking for you home to be “possessed” by Nazi vampires)

India Trip 02.jpg

India Trip 03

This sign was above the highway and it made me smile… I doubt I am sleeping with my enemy… but I wondered if I could be sleeping with someone else’s enemy.  In pondering this question for the next several miles I could not come up with someone who would consider Isabelle their enemy… nor could I figure out what this sign was about.

India Trip 26

I thought a lot about this sign in my office  stating that it is illegal to refuse participation.   Do you think you could spend jail time?   “Hey what are you in for”… “Um well I refused to participate in a fire drill.”   (I bet they have to put these types of criminals in isolated confinement to protect the rest of the general prison population)

Often advertisers use “subliminal” messages in their campaigns.   They are often too difficult to discern especially when you don’t share the same cultural context.   With that said I had no problem seeing the very subtle “adult” innuendo in this advertisement

India Trip 04.jpg

I am going to stop with the “signs” and show some of the beautiful country side.  (Like this post’s feature picture)  I have only been in India in December and January and it is definitely not as “green” as it is in October.   I want to again apologize for my poor pictures.   They were taken from the car and it was raining.

India Trip 05

India Trip 06

India Trip 07

India Trip 08

India Trip 09

hmm… they all look the same.   It definitely was much better in person… plus I saw monkeys on the side of the road and was not quick enough to get a picture.

India Trip 10

Two posts before this one I shared a rangoli that was done at my office.  Here is another one and these were done by professionals.  The office had an internal contest where teams created the same thing in our break room.   Here are my co-workers versions.   Leave a comment with your vote for “favorite”.

India Trip 11

India trip 12

India Trip 13

India Trip 14

India Trip 15

India Trip 16

India Trip 18

India Trip 17

And… for those wondering… I had nothing to do with the cigarette smoking the man. (Although this is definitely my kind of rangoli… and obviously my favorite..although I would have changed the words to say something different… like maybe “smoking humans has been shown not to cause lung cancer in “lab cigarettes”).  All of this was done as part of the Diwali celebrations…  very very cool.

I had best put in some random tourist pictures (they can’t be worse than the earlier green mountain pictures)

India Trip 19

India Trip 20

India Trip 21

The last one is not very “touristy”.  I noticed the guy on the motorcycle had the brightest work boots I have every seen…  Here is a close up

India Trip 22

While showing my pictures to the kids we evented a game.  The game is called “which way should the cars actually be driving”.   Here are some of those pictures.

India Trip 23

India Trip 24

Can you tell which way is the proper direction?  The last one is really hard to see but I had to get the face of my driver as a huge tuck on his right came within inches of his door….

HMM another coffee table book idea…  (Which way should I be driving?)

Last picture… promise.

This trip I didn’t get sick and I can’t tell you what a relief that was.   I did take precautions like lots of hand sanitizer and… well this is kind of embarrassing to admit… I packed all of my own food.   Here is what I ate every day for the week that I was in India.

India Trip 25

Peace out… (I lied.. and broke a promise…  oh the deceit…) 

India Trip 27

This coin is actually the last picture… I think it is celebrating the bikini… (you might have to think about that for a while)