Itinerary as of 22 Sept 2006

Conakry, Guinea-Kendia-Mamou-Dalaba-Labé-Télimélé (and return)-Mali(ville)-Koundara-Salémata, Senegal-Bandafassi-Kédougou-Saraya-Koundamé, Mali—Kéniéba—Bafoulabé—Kita—Bamako. Itinerary uncertain in Mali because we don’t know when the Diafarabé cattle crossing will occur and the schedule won’t be set until sometime in November as near as we can find out. In addition to the cattle crossing: Ségou, Mopti, Timbuctu (Tombouctou), and the Dogon on the Bandiagara escarpment. Also the crossing place into Mali will be determined by the water level on the Falémé River.

Narrowing the locations

Louisa and I sat down last week and narrowed the number countries we might visit. Top choice for Louisa is Mali based on her love of their art and music. We decided since there was too much to visit, we may as well eliminate the recently troubled countries. We then used our reading of Lonely Planet and Rough Guide to gauge the time needed for each country. Niger is high on our list. To visit Naimey, Agadez, Aït somehting, and the Ténéré desert is about five weeks. Mail up to eight weeks. Guinea for us could be three weeks. Ghana is somewhere we’d like to visit and Burkina Faso is in the neighborhood and we might have to fly in to Senegal. Next week we need to refine the choices. West Africa Map


Yesterday, the Fourth of July, I purchased a bike for the trip. I was reluctant to take my current mountain bike for two main reason—not wanting to set it up for touring (and back again when I get home) and fear of losing it somewhere on the trip. I’ve been watching Craig’s list for six months or so. My goal was to find a good, but old mountain bike. Old for price, but not so old that it would be hard to get parts for. I think I found it—a Trek 8000 vintage 1992. Seven-speed (which should be less fussy than current 9-speed), 1-⅛-in. steerer tube (can put a suspension fork later), and it looks and is reported by the owner to be lightly used. The previous (second?) owner had 23mm tires on it, so it was little used off road.

The fun thing about the bike is the paint job, and hence the bikes nick name (I don’t usually name my inantimate possesions). But the splatter paint job called for a name. Hence Jackson Pollock Bike (JPB). Pictures at 11 (Can I link photos in WordPress? There must be a way).

The bike is quick steering, but seems stable enough. I won’t know until I put fatter tires on in.

About 26 pounds with the 23mm tires.

Site changes

Most page are PmWiki. First page is hand built, but maybe not worth the trouble. See if I can bring it into PmWiki
Blog is WordPress. Most Gallery pages (except the index) are via iView MediaPro web building tool.
-Need to get the menu in the PmWiki pages
-Need to tailor for not logged in.
-Center and otherwise clean up first page.
-WordPress color scheme to match the rest of the site.

Ashes and Snow

We went to see Ashes and Snow by Gregory Colbert last week at the Santa Monica Pier. When I saw the initial promotions I wasn’t much interested. The images seemed too fake and new agey. Posed images of people and animals. But everyone we knew who went liked it, even after I voiced my reservations. Louisa’s mom came to town and it seemed like an interesting thing to do, so I agreed to go.

The installation in a stacked shipping containers is interested. The pictures are hanging on long wires from structures connnecting the containers. Music and small river rocks add to the ambience. The images are technically well done and many of them make interesting designs. And seeing sequences of images make them a little less fake as one got the idea how they were achieved. An amazing amount of work I imagine and patience. Waiting for the right light and weather, and even though the animals must have been relatively tame in most cases, many set-ups and tries must have been made. The promotional literature says they were “unscripted.” Unscripted maybe, but the actors knew what they were supposed to try to do. They didn’t all accidentally have their eyes closed. All the images were sepia toned and some were tinted. The literature said they were not “digitally maninpulated,” but they are listed as “mixed media.” So maybe not digitally manipulated, but manipuated.

The combination of closed eyes and sepia tones gave an overall deadly feel to the show. No expression, no happiness. Felt like waiting for death.

Our friends said don’t worry too much about the still images, the movie(s) make it worthwhile. One 60-minute movie and two shorter ones. The 60-minute movie did give a better idea of how it was all put together, but I still didn’t get the point. Although tigers and cheetahs were laying on people and people were curled up next to elephants, they were still lifeless. And somewhat creepy—maybe the Timothy Treadwell effect—he thought he was bonding with the bears, but they ate him nonetheless.

All in all, interesting images from a design (shape, forms, and shadows), but still cold and new agey.

Why did I write this? I guess I’m trying to understand popular culture (or why I don’t get or embrace it) and thought discussing it and writing it might bring clarification. I don’t think it did.