Kaddee’s Cairo Chronicles


June 29, 2008

New Technology

Filed under: Learning Curve — Kaddee @ 8:53 pm

So I have a new version of the blogging software, with all kinds of cool, whizzzz-bangy features. I’m learning how to use them, so watch out!

One of the features is that embedded video is “easier” (for some value of easier). So I’ve been going thru all my old, short, point-and-shoot videos.

First point – my camera shoots in *.avi mode. “So what”, you say. Well, I’ve discovered that a 15 second video in *.avi is about 26MB, but if I change the format to *.wmv it is about 2MB!!! So I am in the process of editing and resaving my videos as *.wmv format, SO THAT I CAN POST THEM!!!

Second point – people (namely, myself) take video of some of the STUPIDEST things on the planet. This new technology is bringing that point home for me. I’ve been surreptitiously viewing and hastily DELETING a number of videos that are unfit for even my viewing. Be thankful.

Third (and last) point – videos shot with p&s cameras are, typically, CRAP. I know this, and yet will still be subjecting the vast blog-o-sphere to some of my masterpieces of crap. Thanks for understanding. :)

Video #1 – from Qatar: March 2007
We went 4-wheeling with some people from Pole Position on the dunes in Qatar/Oman. It was a lot of fun. This was shot by Jack as we drove/slid/nearly rolled down the slipface of a VERY TALL DUNE.

Video #2 – the Dead Sea, Jordan side: April 2007
This video is “not fit for prime time”. Everyone does it, but few put it online for others to see. I am embarrassed, and yet…..here it is.

Actually this was added to the original Dead Sea post, so some of you may have already seen it. In which case, do not feel obligated to push play.

June 28, 2008

The Wedding-Anniversary-Vacation Trip: Rome

Filed under: How it works,Travel — Kaddee @ 11:06 am

After 2 weeks of relaxation in Barcelona, we flew to Rome for 4 days of being REAL tourists. I had not been in Rome for over 20 years (OMG – how is that possible??), and this was Jack’s first visit, so we had things to do.

Rome was MUCH hotter than Barcelona (although cooler in temperature than Cairo, it was much more uncomfortable due to the humidity). We made a valiant attempt to see as much as we could in four days. Unfortunately, both Jack and I were “out-of-shape” for the tourist blitzkrieg. The heat, humidity and hills took their toll on us!

The day we arrived, we met TV&KC near the Spanish Steps for a glass of wine and a nosh. The four of us had a beautiful postprandial stroll to the Trevi Fountain before heading off on our separate ways.

This is one of the cool perks of this job and location. How often does anyone get the chance to say, “We flew to Rome and met XYZ for a drink and a stroll….”? I know I am incredibly lucky to be able to do it – and it makes me giggle to see it in “print”. :)

Day 2 in Rome was scheduled for a FULL itinerary of tourist stuff: Colliseum, Forum, Pantheon. We got a very late start, and only managed the Colliseum, due to the heat.

Day 3 was mellow, in that we used one of the Hop-on-Hop-off busses to get around the city. We stopped at the “Bocca de la Verite”, Plaza Venezia, Plaza Navona, Plaza de Popolo. Again it was hot, so we would stop for a few pictures, something to drink and a short walk around each area before getting back on the bus. We drove by the Circo Maximus and the Forum, and the Vatican, but did not have the energy to explore either place. In the evening, we went back to Plaza de Popolo for an outdoor “show”. It was similar to the one we saw in Lisbon 9 years ago. There was scaffolding and guy wires around the fountain on which acrobats performed “dances” in mid-air. There was also a stage around the fountain, where dancers performed short choreographed pieces in shallow pools of water! Very odd, surreal and fun!

Day 4 (our last day) we went to the Vatican museums. I *had* to see the Raphael “The School of Athens” fresco. It is one of my all-time, Renaissance favorites. I was nearly in tears (really!) to see it in person!

And, of course, we were both excited to see the Sistine Chapel. I cannot express my awe at the frescos of the Chapel, and my horror at the general behavior of the masses of people in the Chapel. There are signs everywhere, and guards “reminding” everyone that this is a religious place – BE QUIET and no pictures or video are allowed. I think Jack and I were the ONLY TWO PEOPLE who DID NOT take any photos in the Sistine Chapel. EVEN THE NUNS WERE TAKING FLASH PHOTOS. I was horrified and offended by people’s behavior, and I am not Catholic, or even religious!

After the Vatican, we went to another religious structure – the Pantheon. This was a bit more in line with my ideas. It has survived for over 2000 years by serving as a site of worship for “all gods”. The interior is still beautifully covered in marble and inlays, and there is nothing quite as captivating as the “Oculus” in the ceiling, allowing a single beam of natural light to illuminate the interior.

More Rome photos HERE.

June 27, 2008

The Wedding-Anniversary-Vacation Trip: Barcelona

Filed under: Travel — Kaddee @ 8:05 am

We just got back from nearly 3 weeks of PURE vacation. This is very rare for Jack and me, since he has a “real job” and does not get the buckets of vacation that academics are afforded. THIS was a REAL vacation – neither of us did a single iota of work. It was incredible. And needed.

Thanks to my family (THANK YOU EVERYONE), we rented a studio apartment in the Gothic district (Barri Gòtic) of Barcelona for 2 weeks. We were 3 blocks off the Ramblas (right at a Metro stop – Liceu) and about 7 minutes from Port Vell and the Passeig de Colom.

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The “reason” for picking Barcelona (other than the OBVIOUS – charm, beauty and amazing food, wine and people) was MotoGP (pics are HERE). Yes, we went to ANOTHER GP event!! It was WONDERFUL. The weather was spotty, but the practices, qualifiers and races were excellent. Unfortunately Lorenzo was badly hurt in practice, and did not participate in the race.

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(Both of these photos are from Friday, before free practice. We had paddock passes and were hanging out near the residence RV’s as the GP guys headed for the pits for practice!! LUCKYLUCKYLUCKY!)

After race weekend, we spent the remainder of the time on vacation. **I had to be reminded of that, on occasion, when I would hyperventilate and have small fits over Jack sleeping in. I eventually loosened up.**

We were in Barcelona for the first time in the summer of 1999. A lot has changed, not the least being the ECONOMY. The Euro has made all of Europe VERY expensive and much harder to live in. The days of certain countries being cheap (Spain on the peseta) are over! Given that, we still LOVE Barcelona, and Spain, and would move in an instant, given the opportunity!

Having been there 9 years ago also meant that we had already done/seen a lot of the standard tourist attractions. So this trip we could just relax into and enjoy the city without the strain and rushed chaos of trying to “do all the sights”.

We did some touristy things (the Picasso museum, Parc Guell, the Dali museum in Figueres), but for the most part, we wandered, ate, drank and relaxed. A short smattering of pictures are HERE.

June 26, 2008

Jazz Masters @ Giza

Filed under: BONUS!,NSTIW — Kaddee @ 10:14 am

15 February 2008

Along the lines of “I can’t believe it!” NSTIW- sitting at my desk at AUC, when an e-mail pops up (GOD I hate Outlook) saying that one of the Uni offices has FREE tickets to see the Smithsonian Jazz Masters playing an outdoor concert IN FRONT OF THE SPHINX in Giza! Yeah – REALLY!

So I texted Jack, did not bother to wait for his response, and headed over to the office to get tickets. The were “First come, first served” so I went quickly! When I got there, they had a HUGE stack of tickets, but only allowed one person to get 4 tickets – so I got 4. (I had contacted AJ on the way over, and she asked for tickets, if I could get ‘em).

I got tix for all of us! (Unfortunately, a significant number of our friends did not manage to get tix – Sorry Guys. Apparently “important” people were allowed to PHONE IN ticket orders, even though the e-mail said you had to go in person.) The concert was the day after Valentines. It was a mixed day, weather wise, with breaks of bright, hot sun and clouds threatening imminent rain. Luckily for us, the rain never came.

The concert was OUTSTANDING. A marvelous collection of classics (Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald etc.) as well as more “modern” classics (Quincy Jones).

I managed a couple of pics with the point-and-shoot, and a quick video of the piccolo piece which many of you may recognize. Sorry for the quality :)

Pictures:

Sorry for the head in the way

PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF THE VIDEO WORKS!!! This is my first attempt at video on the blog, and…..I’m not convinced it will actually work!

June 25, 2008

More Knitting

Filed under: Friends — Kaddee @ 9:19 am

So, here I am in Egypt, virtually unable to knit/crochet for lack of materials. I know I bemoaned this fact already in another post (October 2007). However, not to be kept down, I’ve been making the best of my situation.

TV brought me some lovely yarn from Germany just after my blog-hissy-fit about yarn and knitting!
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The German, superwash sock yarn has successfully turned into a gorgeous, lightweight crocheted scarf for Jack (or…maybe…ME!)

The “Yucky” yarn (posted about earlier) was (grudgingly) turned into some of the most HIDEOUS house sock/slippers one could ever imagine. Unfortunately there was not enough wool content in the fiber mix to felt them for truly horrendous footwear.

In January, my cousin showed up with 5 (YES FIVE) skeins of various colors of worsted weight wools stuffed into her backpack!

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As you can see in the photo – one skein is already a scrolled scarf, and another is substantially depleted – becoming a post-dive beanie.

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Yet another friend (who understands the addiction of yarn/craft-type things) brought me a “kit” for a spectacular shawl. The kit included the yarn – a silk and “Seacell” (spun kelp fiber) mix, the needles and the instructions! I’ve been working on this little-by-little since April. The end of the semester really cut into my knitting time! (And, I have to admit, I finished a crocheted summer sweater/shrug in the interim).
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I appreciate all the support for my addiction to yarn and knitting. I am looking forward to working through the yarn and projects that I have in mind. I searched for more, but was denied more yarn on our recent trip to Barcelona and Rome!

June 24, 2008

“Off the beaten path” tombs at Sakkara

Filed under: BONUS! — Kaddee @ 12:43 pm

16 February 2008

Another BONUS was a recent trip to Sakkara, where we DID NOT go to the Step Pyramid of Zoser. Dr Alain Zivie, an archaeologist and visiting professor at AUC, has been working on the “Lesser-Known Tombs” of Sakkara. His discoveries have included the (potential) tomb of Maia – the wet-nurse and governess of King Tut, and the “cat tombs”, a series of tombs that were re-used in New Kingdom times and after for the burial of mummified cats.

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We began the trip with a stop in the Sakkara museum of Amenhotep. Although we have been to Sakkara a number of times, this was the first trip to the museum. Unlike the Egyptian Museum, this is a wonderfully planned and executed museum!

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It was a very cool trip – and not the kind of thing that one can do on one’s own.

Dr Alain also brought us to the site of the Dutch Mission, who were finishing up the season on several 18th Dynasty (Akhenaten-era, Amarna-style art) royal tombs.

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These guys figure out which pieces of alabaster go together and reassemble ancient jars and vessels!

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The buckets of bones were my favorite, but I’m sure, no-one is surprised by that!

We wound up the trip with a stop in Memphis – the ancient capital of Egypt. Not much is left there, but there are some spectacular statues – including a limestone colossus of Ramses II lying on its back inside a visitors shelter.

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