Crimson ProjeKct Warehouse Live July 8, 2012

I almost missed this show entirely. Horribly under-promoted and under-attended. Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, Pat Mastelotto representing King Crimson rounded out with Tobias Ralph, Julie Slick and Markus Reuter.

The “project” has been touring as the opener for Dream Theater but since Dream Theater didn’t get booked in Houston we were treated to three hours of fantastic music, including an all King Crimson encore.

The first band was Stickmen featuring Tony Levin, Tobias Ralph and Markus Reuter. The second band was Adrian Belew with Pat Mastelotto and Julie Slick. The encore was all 6 of them.

Stickmen + Belew Trio

Tony Levin

Adrian Belew

Take A Bow

Tony Levin

More photos here
Houston Press review here

Sun Halo – May 4, 2011

Spotted a halo around the sun on May 4th. I’ve seen them around a full moon before, but not around the sun. By obscuring the sun with my hand or my index finger I was able to shoot some reasonably good photos of the phenomenon.

22° halo is a halo, one type of optical phenomenon, forming a circle 22° around the sun, or occasionally the moon. It forms as sunlight is refracted in hexagonal ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere. As the light beam passes through two sides of the prism forming a 60° angle, the angle of minimum deviation is almost 22° (namely, 21.84° on average; 21.54° for red and 22.37° for blue). This wavelength-dependent variation in refraction causes the inner edge of the circle to be reddish while the outer edge is bluish.

Sun Halo 3

Sun Halo

Sun Halo 4

Backyard Birding Report – April 20th, 2011

We’ve not spotted a single hummingbird so far this spring. BUT, we’ve spotted two kinds of birds not previously seen in our yard. We’ve seen a few Indigo Buntings, but I’ve not managed to get any photos. We’ve also seen a few of these:

Carolina Chickadee - 3

Carolina Chickadee - 2

I knew it was a Chickadee the minute I spotted it. Cynthia said it can’t be a Black-capped Chickadee (though it looks EXACTLY like one to me) because they don’t come to Texas. We looked up the Black-capped Chickadee and sure enough, they’re indigenous to the norther regions of the U.S. and they don’t migrate. A little research and we determined them to be Carolina Chickadees.

Also, one of the birdhouses we have hanging on the side of the house looks to have been attacked by something with sharp claws. It has not, however, stopped a pair of sparrows from raising three babies in it

Baby Sparrows

And, although not spotted in my yard, this guy strikes me as interesting. A very ragged vulture that rides the drafts between my office building and the one next to us.

Ragged Vulture

Barcelona – Our Last Day

Our last day in Barcelona. We’re pretty wiped out. We managed to master the mass transit, but we still logged some miles on our aging tootsies. Cynthia and I both have blisters on our feet. Cynthia has managed to walk through the soles of her primary pair of shoes. Our favorite thing to say is “My dogs are woofin” referring to our feet.

Me personally, I’m looking forward to not hefting a camera bag everywhere I go and worrying about some crafty pickpocket or confidence man scheming to separate me from my valuables.

Not that I’m complaining. This has been an awesome trip and we have enjoyed almost every moment of it.

For our last day we decided to visit Casa Milà. I figured we could get there early and hopefully beat the crowds, which we did.

Inside Casa Milà

I really love the Gaudi architecture. So interesting, especially considering the time-frame he was working in. From the top of Casa Milà you can get a pretty amazing view of another of Gaudi’s works, one that is still in the process of being built, La Sagrada Familia.

Sagrada Familia From Casa Mila

And the roof of Casa Milà is just plain cool.

Sentries Atop Casa Milà

Sentries Atop Casa Milà

After we finished up with Casa Milà we made our way back up the side of Montjuïc via the funicular to go to the Miro Museum. Sadly, no photography allowed inside the museum. And I had to check my camera bag by locking it in a locker. That was a little stressful, but it seemed safe enough. I just didn’t want to lose the camera on the last day.

From there it was back to the hotel room to rest up and then off the Bari Gotic area to see if we could find a nice restaurant for our last meal of the trip.

Spanish wine with lunch in Spain. Does it get any better than this?

We happened upon an Italian restaurant called Gravin and it was fantastic! We had a vry nice meal, a bottle of Rioja and a cafe and desert. It was a fine finish to an excellent trip.

Now it was back to the hotel to pack and get some sleep before getting up at 3:30 to check out and catch our 6:00 am flight back to America. This trip, like all of our previous vacations, is over in a flash. We’ll be happy to be home, but will miss the adventure.

Barcelona – Tibidabo And Park Guell

Tibidabo

It’s a little on the cold side, but the sun was out when we woke up with some clouds here and there. We decided to make our way to Tibidabo, the tallest point overlooking the city of Barcelona. The trip involved catching a short train ride to the outskirts of town, then catching the Tram Blau up the hill a ways to the funicular and then on up to the park.

We caught the train OK but found that the Tram Blau only ran on Fridays and Saturdays so we were left taking a bus up to get to the funicular. No problem, it only took us a bit to sort it out.

Funnicular To Tibidabo

When we got to Tibidabo the clouds started gathering and there was a brief rain shower. We took shelter in Temple del Sagrat Cor and grabbed some photos.

Temple del Sagrat Cor

Cross Inside Temple del Sagrat Cor

Mary Inside Temple del Sagrat Cor

Once the rains passed we walked around and took in the view, which is pretty amazing.

Jesus Atop Temple del Sagrat Cor

You can see all of Barcelona and on to the port and the ocean beyond.

Once we had our fill, we headed back down the mountain the way we came and all was going swimmingly until we got on the subway train to go back to the hotel. Without warning the train just stopped dead in the middle of a dark tunnel. All the power was just gone. Now keep in mind that Cynthia HATES being underground. She deals with it, but she simply doesn’t like it. To have the train just stop dead in a tunnel deep underground is one of her worst nightmares.

Fortunately, the power outage only lasted about 30 second or so and we were back on our way. I think Cynthia would have cracked if it had lasted too long.

Once we got back to the hotel and regrouped we decided to head out to Park Guell, a park designed by Antoni Guadi.

One of the things Cynthia really likes about Barcelona is the wild Quaker Parrot population. There are everywhere, but really show up in large numbers at Park Guell. And since Cynthia has a tradition of dropping one of the feathers she has collected from her dear departed Mr. Zippers she thought Park Guell would be a good place to do it.

Releasing The Zippy Feather

Getting to the park was not so easy. The subway drops you off nearby and you have to hike up a very steep, San Francisco like street to get to some escalators which then take you to another climb up the back of the park. All in all it was pretty exhausting on our already travel weary feet.

Park Guell

After we dropped the feather we walked around the park a bit before heading back down the hill and to the hotel.

Park Guell

At this point we’ve been on the vacation awhile and we had home the day after tomorrow. That’s one full day left. We’re pretty tired so we were in for the evening. Tomorrow we’ll give Barcelona a last “hurrah” and pack up to come home.

Barcelona – Montserrat

Happy And Amazed!

For our second day back in Barcelona we decided to head off to Santa Maria de Montserrat which is only about an hour outside the city by train.

Santa Maria de Montserrat is a Benedictine abbey located in the Montserrat mountain.

To get there we took the subway to the Espanya rail station and then purchased tickets for the train and the cable car that take you up to the monastery itself.

Cable Car

When the train drops you off at the Arie cable car station you walk up a some steps and are greeted by the site of the cable cars heading up and down the mountain that the monastery wayyyy up on the cliff face, It is just a little intimidating.

Cable Cars

Cable Car

It’s only a 5 minute ride and for me it was no big deal. Others (like Cynthia) found it to be somewhat nerve wracking.

The views riding were amazing and the view from the top was just spectacular.

View

We wandered around the complex and we wanted to continue on up to St. Jerome but the funicular train as closed for repairs and we didn’t have the energy to make the hike up the side of the mountain.

We did get to see and hear the Montserrat’s Boys’ Choir in the basilica

Quoir

We also climbed up to touch la Moreneta (“The little dark-skinned one”) one of the black Madonnas of Europe

La Moreneta.

This also gave us a nice view of the basilica

Basilica

We spent the better part of the day just walking around taking pictures

Cross

Votives

m1

Eventually we wound up at restaurant in the Hotel Abat Cisneros. This place was incredible! The restaurant looks like one that you would need a coat and tie to eat in. But they gladly seated the bedraggled tourists and treated us to one of the best meals I have had in my life.

After we had eaten our meal we made our way back to the hotel with a quick stop at the El Corte Ingles for some supplies (water, chips, etc.) and called it a day. We watched some TV and I even downloaded some English programs to watch on the laptop just to give us a chance to wind down and get away from the news of Libya an Japan that has been a constant backdrop to this magnificent vacation.

We have two more full days here before coming home. We’re hopeful for more good weather. But for now, sleep.

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