Planning for Summer 2023

Though I claim to dislike Europe, my way-too-early current plan for next year is mostly Europe.

I’m scheduled to head back to Bermuda sometime January / February.

“Summer” starts March 2023 in Utah. Hiking. Cycling.

Utah

I might try to get to the Gymnastics Jr. World Championships in Antalya, Turkey March 26 – April 3rd.

Turkey

May in Nepal? Why not! I’ve never been there in the Spring.

Nepal

For years I’ve been trying to get to the Tuscany Trail, the world’s largest bikepacking event.

That starts June 1-2 out of Pisa, Italy. With my personal bicycle.

Italy

From Italy I’d want to make my way very north to Tromso, Norway.

Cycle south along Norway’s west coast to Denmark.

Ferry over to the Faroe Islands. And on to Iceland in August.

That was my plan from summer 2022 … that never happened when Scandinavian Airlines lost my bike.

Norway ➙ Denmark ➙ Faroe Islands ➙ Iceland

Will any of this happen?

I’d wager a 50% chance of any of those destinations actually coming to fruition. 😀

Old Yiddish proverb:

“Man Plans, and God Laughs.” 

Dumb Witness by Agatha Christie

Dumb Witness is Christie’s 1937 book.

It is the last book to feature the character of Hastings until the final Poirot novel, 1975’s Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case, which he also narrates. …

In the New York Times, this novel was not considered Mrs Christie’s best, but “she has produced a much-better-than-average thriller nevertheless”…

I’d agree.

It’s standard Christie. But not quite as neatly solved as most of her other books.

In this one, a wealthy spinster dies — before Poirot could get there.

Despite having no paying client, the Belgian sleuth suspects the death by natural causes is actually murder. And stays to solve the crime anyway.

Visiting Córdoba, Spain

There’s no beach.

But tourists still like to wander the narrow cobblestone streets of Córdoba, Andalusia.

Much Moorish and Roman architecture to admire. Córdoba has more World Heritage Sites than anywhere in the world, with four.

The centre of ancient Roman cities became the walled medina.

Interesting doorways and gates everywhere.

Of course there is no shortage of Catholic Churches.

And in this ideal climate, there are many parks. The Moors liked the smell of orange blossoms, so those trees are everywhere.

Tourists tend to spend most of their time in the old town. But I did end up walking some of the modern city, as well.

Me? I hung out mostly along the Guadalquivir river. There are many unsigned and unvisited historical buildings.

Best of all was the Roman Bridge at dusk.

I’ll remember Cordoba for the rest of my life.

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, Spain

The main reason for a tourist to travel to Córdoba is to see the massive Mosque-Cathedral.

Locally, it’s called the Mezquita.

Under the Moors, Córdoba became the most important city in Europe, a centre of education and learning.

The feeling inside for me is mostly Islamic. Yet all around Christian elements were installed and built starting 1523 after the Moors were expelled.

It’s a nice balance. Did I mention it’s HUGE.

856 columns. And Christians had many more removed.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Fox Creek by William Kent Krueger

Fox Creek is the 2022 book in the Cork O’Connor series set in Minnesota.

I’ve read them all — and now have to wait at least a year for the next to arrive.

My favourite character is Henry Meloux, the Ojibwe healer who is well over 100-years-old.

Each book, we fear might be his last.

Fox Creek follows Henry non-stop for the first half of the book — so is excellent.

The second half tries to wind-up the mystery. And is less good.

Too convoluted. Too many characters.

Krueger:

“It’s really Henry’s book, although he is not the one speaking,” Krueger said in a recent interview.

… The last contemporary novel in 2019 left Henry in a precarious situation. Both he and Stephen had envisioned his death. I had to think about what I would do with that.”

Krueger said this book needed to focus on Henry, but he had never told a story from Henry’s perspective. To do that, Krueger uses other characters to unfold the mystery and describe their connections to Henry. …

19 books into Cork series, and author says he’s still growing

meh 🤔 – Contemporary Art

I visited the Museu Coleção Berardo in Lisbon, one of the best collections of modern and contemporary art in the world.

As my brother said, anything that he could recreate given the materials, is NOT ART.

For example, Voice of Fire by Barnett Newman.

It’s 2 cans of paint, 2 rollers, canvas, and less than an hour.

Not art.

Here’s the instillation at the Berardo that appealed to me most.

It’s called Nespresso.

There are a couple of artists with potential, however.

Picasso
Warhol

Picasso was a great artist

Looking at some of his later work, you might guess Pablo Picasso was a over-rated bum. Drunk. Or mentally ill.

Fact is, he was a childhood prodigy. Brilliant from the start at age-13.

Here’s Science and Charity, oil on canvas, 1897. Picasso was age-15.

His abstract work came much later.

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.

He’s best known for co-founding the Cubist movement.

He shocked the artistic world with Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, five nude female prostitutes in a brothel on Carrer d’Avinyó, a street in Barcelona.

The shocking part was the angular and disjointed body shapes. The slightly menacing aspect.

This was new.

His best work, for me, is his anti-war painting exhibited in the Museo Reina Sofía in Madrid.

Guernica (1937).

Picasso opened his morning newspaper on April 27th to find images of the destruction of Guernica. It had been bombed by the Nazis at the request of Francisco Franco.


All that said. Much of Picasso’s hundreds of pieces of sculpture, ceramics, drawings and paintings hold no appeal for me. He worked fast. Had fun. Loved to be contrary. And many of those experiments didn’t work.

I saw many of those failed experiments in the Picasso museum in his hometown Málaga, Spain.

Here’s one that did work. Bull’s Head.

One day, in a pile of objects all jumbled up together, I found an old bicycle seat right next to a rusty set of handlebars. In a flash, they joined together in my head. The idea of the Bull’s Head came to me before I had a chance to think. All I did was weld them together… 

Don’t be fooled. This man was one of the great artists.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Visiting Málaga, Spain

I came to Málaga mainly as it’s the jumping off point for the nearby Caminito del Rey hike.

It’s just another city on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) attracting tourists from everywhere with worse weather. Everywhere. 😀

I was surprised to find it’s another city in Andalusia well worth visiting — though Granada is best of the best.

The Cathedral — the one-armed lady — is very impressive, especially the interior.

FREE —for tipsCity Tour here is excellent, as they all are in Andalusia.

I did take a speed walk through the Museum of Malaga.

I like Pablo Picasso and learned a lot about him at the Picasso Museum. Very prolific. Very experimental. A super talented painter, a childhood prodigy. He was born in Málaga.

The Phoenicians originally came here to mine salt. And found it easy to defend from the Gibralfaro, a 130 m (427 ft) high foothill, from which the Gibralfaro Castle [es] and the Alcazaba fortress overlook the city.

It’s a great spot to watch sunset.

Here’s the Alcazaba, down below.

When the Romans got here, they built in an amphitheatre.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I stayed at two excellent hostels in Málaga. Hostels are terrific all over Andalusia.

One night we had all you can eat tapas at Jungle Hostel, Málaga. 10€.

Here are a few more random photos.

P.S. I did make a side trip tour to Gibraltar. A fail. I wished I’d not bothered.

Ink Black Heart by … Robert Galbraith

Meh.

The Ink Black Heart is a crime fiction novel by the English author J. K. Rowling, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. 

It is the 6th novel in the Cormoran Strike series. …

Of the six, for me this was worst. Too long. Too slow paced. And WAY too much hateful back-and-forth text messaging.

Skip it — and hope for better with #7.

As a Kirkus reviews put it, by the time you get to page 1462 you no longer care who murdered who.

I made it about half way through before giving up.

Foolishly, the billionaire author engaged in online debate on the topic of transgender people and related civil rights. These have been criticised as transphobic by LGBT rights organisations and some feminists, but have received support from other feminists and individuals.

As a person of wealth and power, Rowling’s inevitably punching down when she engages with critics.

Rowling does a lot of charity work. Is a good person. And should simply stay quiet online — like MacKenzie Scott.

As a big fan of Rowling’s books, this one wastes too much time describing the good and bad of online fandom. Not enough on the painful but entertaining relationship between lovely Robin Ellacott and gruff, unlovable Cormoran Strike.

My best guess is that her mind was not on Robin & Cormoran while writing — but on personal grievance.

And after all this — I still don’t understand her position on those few individuals (0.1% to 0.6% of the population) born with gender identity or gender expression that does not correspond with their sex assigned at birth.

Personally, I don’t care if you are trans, from Transylvania, or choose to medically transition to another sex.

Everyone should have equal opportunity.

OF COURSE when it comes to what sport to play there should be rules. And each sport should set those to be as fair as possible to all participants.

The TV series Strike has 4 seasons as I post. It’s quite good.