Archive for April, 2013|Monthly archive page

Discuss Gays in Sports

While thrilled about Jason Collins’ announcement, I saw a problem arise that bugged me. A large number of people shouted down Miami Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace because of his tweets. The man asked why is Collins attracted to men. He threw in no curses, accused no one of sin, let alone going to hell. Yet, the media, the Dolphins public relations, and others called him ignorant and basically said, Sit down and shut up!

I’m not for a totalitarian system, whether liberal or not. Gay males announcing that they play big-time professional sports is a new phenomenon. We need to create an environment that promotes discussion, no matter how basic. Start with Freud, and his basic-object choice. Explain chemistry flowing inside a body that sees someone who they find attractive. Liken the feeling to his own feeling when he spots a particular type of woman. Explain other similarities.

We have a chance to talk and show who we are. This can only happen when you talk to people.

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Gay Big Man, Big Deal in Basketball and Sports

Jason Collins is now the first active male team sports player to announce his sexuality. For members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community this is a big deal because sports has been a pillar in the maintenance of the sanctity of heterosexuality for men in this country. His declaration helps disrupt the image of the American male athlete as the heroic individual who wants and gets the girl.

As importantly, Collins’ declaration offers a big difference to the wish fulfillment fantasy that has long been part of the view of sports. How many boys and girls have looked at the successful athlete and thought, “I want to be them.” Now, a gay boy and teen can own that feeling to a much greater extent. Here is one guy who plays ball and has said that he is like me. The gay male adult can fantasize about having a relationship with a male athlete now.

http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/Jason-Collins-is-first-major-American-pro-sports-athlete-to-come-out-gay-reaction-042913

A quick look at the comments shows how far the country has come and how far it needs to go. The usual suspects and stars like Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade, have announced their support. Also thrilled that former teams, including the Washington Wizards, expressed their congratulations to him, as did current Wizard players such as Bradley Beal and Jan Vesely and Trevor Ariza.

Members of the Fox Sports online readership have not! The first usual argument is that the announcement is not a big deal. Then they malign his playing ability, as if simply being a NBA player for 12 years is an easy task. Next is to attack the announcement as more personal information that they don’t want to know. One wonders if they feel the same about knowing who Tom Brady had a baby with, or whom Derek Jeter is dating.

Finally, there is the crew that impinges on Collins’ manhood and calls being gay a choice or sick. Many of these people are the usual Christians who exhibit their usual tolerance for someone who does not think or act like them, yet they consider their selves good Christians. Here’s one example: People may congratulate and agree with gays coming out, but what really matters is what God says. The Bible says homosexuality is a sin against God, just like stealing, lying, and pride. It doesn’t make someone worse than a liar, but it does make them a sinner. And that sin un-paid for by Christ’s sacrifice will lead to eternal punishment in hell.

what I’m learning is NBA players are exponentially more tolerant than NBA fans… Awesome.

Galapagos Vacation Cruise Two

Since we were continuing our cruise aboard the Coral I, the ship dropped us off on the island to see the Highlands and the tortoise sanctuary on a private farm. We were with two lesbians from Australia whose company we enjoyed. When we arrived, the people from the cruise who were flying out that afternoon stood at the entrance to the farm. We exchanged hugs and fist bumps with them before they boarded their bus for the airport.

at the private farm

The ship took off on a long route to the southern portion of the Galapagos for Espanola. Before breakfast sea creatures came by the boat. We watched a pack of dolphins jump in the water. Manta and black rays appeared off the bow.

Manta rays in formationThe lone black ray seemed comfortable on his/her own.

black ray

Monday began with Floreana offered us Cormorant Point and a colony of pink flamingos in lagoons.

.pink flamingos

The “Green Beach” is named so due to its green color, which comes from a high percentage of olivine crystals in the sand, and the “Four Sand Beach” is composed of white coral. Instead of staying on the beach I decided to join in the snorkeling activity.

Cormorant Point had craters that house reefs provide one of the best places for swimming and snorkeling at Devil’s Crown. The devil did me in. The water was deep and we had a long swim so I was often trailing behind the group and missing some of the great sea creatures.

We moved in the afternoon to the Post Office Bay. Yes, the name is literal. Vacationers put post cards that they receive on board the ship into the box as sailors once did hundreds of years ago. The hope is that a visitor would mail the card if they lived near the area. Seemed like a silly exercise to me and I did not partake. Instead we made our way to the beach.

My favorite part was the old soccer field. Here’s a look through the net on one end.

looking through the soccer net

There’s always sea lions on the beach; often putting on a show, intentionally or not.

sea lion formation

Even the iguanas struck a pose.

what are they looking at?

Our voyage moved back toward the eastern section of the islands. On Espanola, we started with Suarez Point, a dry landing but supposedly one of the more difficult ones that we would encounter. The island had many birds and a giant blowhole.

Suarez Point

In the afternoon Gardner Bay hosted us with its turquoise water and the white coralline sand beach that reaches around the point a kilometer away. We passed a herd of sea lions all lined up basking in the sun along the beach to find mysterious prints in the sand.

Gardener Bay beach

The iguanas get more active up in the cliffs. They manage their territory and look for mates, sparking the occasional fight. The cliffs housed the waved albatross colony that spends three-quarters of the year in the islands or nearby in Peru and Ecuador. The remaining time, they fly as far as parts of Asia.

in the cliffs

The birds are remarkable in flight with a wing span of over 7 feet.

albatross in the air

There’s always time for another beach excursion where shining lizards capture the eye. One is copper and another red.

shiny copper iguana100_0751

After returning to the enticements of the big capital city of Quito, we arranged for a taxi to drive us into the Andes to visit Park De Condor. We saw a bird show featuring raptors of all sorts.

bird demonstration

While the condors weren’t taken out, we walked over to their cage. This bird has the largest wing span in the world. While Ira thought it humorous that we drove 2.5 hours to see such an ugly buzzard, I’d read books with pictures of condors in them since the late 1960s. The smaller California species is making a comeback in the US. but its larger cousin is struggling in the wild.

condors

The park had an impressive array of raptors, including a great bald eagle.

bald eagle

or this beauty with a sharp gaze on something tasty:

another raptor

this one wouldn’t hear of being in a photograph

seemingly distracted

Day of the Book

This Sunday I spent the day at the Kensington, MD Day of the Book. The community event drew nearly a hundred authors, musicians, artists, and others showing their wares at tables spread out all over the antique road of Howard Avenue.

table at Day of the Book

 

One great comment from a co-worker: I had a few people come up and tell me everything they know about the topic of my book.

Cutest moment: an 8-year-old boy hovers around my book. The Wizards are his favorite team. His parents tell me that their son wants to be a part-time ballplayer and a few other jobs as well.

Galapagos Islands Cruise One

We started our first cruise in the middle of the week. We stepped on the ship and saw our small cabin. Home for the next five days and four nights.

Inside our cabin

We pushed our single beds together to give us the kind of sleeping quarters we wanted. The suitcases went under the bed, out of the way.

The tour began with a discussion of the rules, including stay on the paths and touch nothing!!! Fortunately, the other 30 or so people on the boat seemed as enthusiastic and were as young or younger than us. They also seemed to understand the special nature of where they were and would obey the rules. We then took off in our first of many dingy rides with fifteen others for a raft ride. We took a bus to the Cerro Colorado – Tortoise Reserve n San Cristobal. Since giant tortoises are where the islands got their name, this seemed an appropriate beginning.

Giant Tortoise

The tour started in Sa Cristobal for the first two days, moved up to the some of the northern islands of Bartolome, Rabida and San Salvador, with the last day spent on Santa Cruz. Each days itinerary would be announced the night before and then available for reading during the day in the lounge/bar room.

First day gets you into the pattern. A 6:30 or 7 am wake-up call, breakfast for an hour, half hour to get ready, and into the dingy boat  to your first event at 8:30 am. We started with birding on a large rockcropping.

Rock cropping near Santa Cristobal

The site gave us one particular visage that accompanied us throughout the trip. The pseudo-barren rock is one type of location that appears often in the Galapagos. It serves as an arresting contrast to another popular land form, the long beach, which we saw often as well. Birds, particularly frigates and Nunca Boobies made nests in the rocks or thin vegetation.

In the afternoon, the ship moved around the island and we walked through the water to get onto Point Pitt. The moderately long beach had a greenish tinge that came from olivine. We walked up to the top of a volcanic tuff and looked out over the island. Some wild vegetation appeared on the way.

wild bush

Cactus are on the Galapagos islands in many forms.

cactus tree

Next day, we moved on toward Mosquera Islet, which is located between North Seymour and Baltra Islands. A large colony of sea lions lay about, along with a group of marine iguanas. The faces on the iguana looked ghostly.

marine iguana

But most shocking, the carcasses of sea lions and iguanas appeared along our stroll down the beach.

bones

In the afternoon we had two sets of activities on Bartolome island. We made a wet landing and had an hour to snorkle, then we got in the boat and took off to walk up a long series of steps to the top of the island’s volcano.

Before reaching the beach, the dingy zoomed over to the rocks to show us the most tropical of penguins.Galapagos penguins

Not all of the fascinating species were only visible underwater. I had fun chatting with our travelers, like a crew from Australia.

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view from Bartolome Island
The impressive views from the top of the 365 stairs to the top of Bartolome Island gave you the chance to see the apparent lifeless surroundings on the island but a great view of the neighboring area. The climb is not as difficult as we may have believed.

101_0297Whether the starkness of this landscape, or simply my interest in things that are different, I could not wait until next morning when we would visit an island with red sand.

Actually, I could wait. After playing cards during the afternoon siesta break, I started a game of Risk with the Canadian family, there because their son had always wanted to visit the Galapagos.

absorbed in the game

We made the excursion to Rabida Island the next morning. The sand’s red hue comes from the iron that the volcano carried when it erupted to create the island and its beach. Rabida's red sand beach

The island had another of the Galapagos’s iconic birds, the blue-footed booby. Their distinctive bright blue feet are a sexually selected trait. Males display their feet in an elaborate mating ritual by lifting one and then the other up, while strutting before the female. Both males and females prefer mates with brighter feet and adjust their parental investment based on the attractiveness of their mate.

Blue Footed Boobies

Occasionally, these beasts with their remarkable traits come to you. This frigate bird stopped for a show on our boat before we left for the island. The red waddle also helps the males attract females of their species.

Male Frigate bird in full display

As if this wasn’t remarkable enough, the frigate lacks the ability to swim and cannot walk well. Most importantly, they cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week, landing only to roost or breed on trees or cliffs. Their food comes from catching fish and turtles on the surface of the water as they remain aloft.

In the afternoon, we followed in Charles Darwin’s footprints and had a wet landing on Egas Port of Santiago Island. We saw a black sand beach and a very rocky coast line filled with sea lions and marine iguanas.

sea lions lounging among the rocks

 

Like many other animals they are more fun when they engage us. Here’s a sea lion who wanted to swim with the snorkeling humans.

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While not as interested in the people, some of the marine iguanas put on their own display. They are quite efficient swimmers.

marine iguana swimming

Galapagos Vacation

Back from spending two weeks in Ecuador.  Spent months looking over all the travel books, Travel Advisor, and blogs and other sites finding out everything I could about the country and the islands. While there are a few islands that no one can visit, there are still 14 that you can see but you need two weeks.

Galapagos Islands

We started with an itinerary that featured a week with most of the time focused on the western islands, Fernandina and Isabela, because they are large and had many animals and birds on them. However, just before we left, our itinerary got changed from these islands to the oldest and northern islands. While there are many animals on these islands we did not think we would see the variety that we had hoped to see.

Travelers can see the Galapagos by traveling by boat or staying on land in hotels and move from site to site. We opted to stay on a ship, making that our home for an entire week, or two tours. We opted to stay on a ship with 30 other passengers. You can stay on a ship with a total of 16 travelers or 100 travelers. We decided that 30 people gave us more of a variety of people to spend time with than the smaller number yet not too many as the larger number of passengers. The larger ships also have less flexibility in approaching certain islands as do smaller vessels.

Next, we had to figure what length of time to cruise on the ship. Choices range from 3 days to 14 days. We decided to put two trips together, which made 8 days and got us to nearly half the islands.

Tourists land at one of two airports. We landed on San Cristobal and needed to wait until the guides organized all of us to get on one of two buses. We reached the harbor and caught this sight.

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You know that you are in for some unusual sights and activities. We boarded our boat and got this night sky.

Sunset in Galapagos