CRAP CALLS - I now spend a fair amount of time at home, not just doing nothing but doing loads of different things [loving it!]. Of course, since I’m here we do get phone calls thru the day. I don’t mind, so much, human beings calling - whether fundraising or politicking or whatever. I’m willing and able to be kind to them. BUT I hate those machine people calls = the ones for the back braces, car warranties, health insurance, you name it. [I am on the DoNotCall list]. The ones which try to sound like a human, “Hello this is Jennifer”..pause to allow me to say something, then move right along and try to make me think this is a human. BUT I’m having a great time with my call-blocking phone = I’m sure other manufacturers make them, but the one we have is a Panasonic and when one of those machine calls come in [I answer on speakerphone] I hit the Call Block button and even if they’ve spoofed some innocent Iowa area code and number, they are blocked totally. I’ve noticed in the past few days calls have come in and either died on the vine or show “Call Blocked” on the screen and I punch it off. Not having to receive these calls has been great — I just thought I’d report this small success in fighting the machines.
I found one from a trip in 2006 when I spent about a week in Beijing, China [and two in Bhutan] and joined a small tour group bicycling through the hutongs of the old city. I'm going to be having a show in late July at Artisan Gallery 218 with photos of bicycles from that and other trips over the years. Details of the show will be on the website and in its Newsletter or you can contact me for further information.
Sitting here quietly and my iPhone beeped and a text message came in - "841138 is your Amazon security code" --BUT I have not been on the Amazon site for any purpose today or over the past several days. I immediately went there and changed my password then called Amazon customer service. As the lady explained, someone may have obtained my email and password in some fashion [how I don't know and I had an excellent password, I thought] and tried to buy something or get into the account for some purpose. Thus, since I had 2-factor authentication set up, they couldn't enter because the text came to me with the code, not to them. I know I harp constantly about passwords, password managers and security, but this is additional proof of the need to prevent easy access to one's accounts.
Blink Art is featuring some of my images on its website over the next two weeks. Nice to have that recognition.
Travel Creates Tighter Bonds
Whether travelling with a friend, relative or partner, experiencing a new place together can strengthen the relationship. So long as the challenging aspects of travelling are jointly overcome, such as planning the trip or compromising on what to see, you and travel partner will laugh and bond over the entire adventure, forming an enduring cache of memories you can talk about in the years to come.
Tip: Be sure to print out the photos you have taken of the trip and to put them in a scrapbook for you to look at from time to time. In this digital age, many people are guilty of snapping, but not printing, the photos so that they rarely look at them in the years ahead.
In heeding our tips, while learning about the mental benefits of travelling, you’re yielding even more benefits from your upcoming trip. Not going anywhere soon? Then, don’t wait any longer. Book a sitter for your pet, pack your bags, and escape to a relaxing destination today!
The Pre-Trip Happiness is Good for YouThe benefits of travel don’t come to you just during and after your trip. The excitement and anticipation of going on vacation can considerably lift your spirits. According to a University of Surrey study, people are at their happiest when they have already booked a trip. Such people are also more positive about their finances, health, and overall quality of life.
A Cornell University study found that people rate the happiness of anticipating a travel experience over that of purchasing a new acquisition.
Tip: Download a countdown clock app to help stoke your feelings of giddiness and excitement before the trip. The closer you get to the date, the happier you will be.
Travel Relieves Stress
Our day-to-day responsibilities may be time-consuming, and sometimes we totter under the burden of living hectic, busy days on repeat. Travel is a delightful way to escape the commitments and stresses of our daily life, introducing refreshing change and novelty in the form of new sights, experiences and acquaintances. The goal is to relax to the point where both the mind and body reboots, free from the strains of work projects and burdensome relationships, says Margaret King of the Center for Cultural Studies and Analysis.
For many, travel is not about discovering new places as much as escaping from old ones that are adversely affecting our spirits. Vacations sever the feeding channels of stress connected to the activities and places we dwell in for work.
Tip: Sometimes vacations to busy cities like London or New York, while exciting, may overwhelm your nerves a tad. During such big urban adventures, be sure to schedule some down time, like a calm picnic or massage.
You Learn to Be Flexible
When travelling, especially in new countries, you step out of your comfort zone and are forced to adopt to new customs and societal differences. This challenge “opens” your personality more, noted a 2013 paper by Zimmerman and Neyer. New societal adaptation calms your emotional reactions to changes in the day-to-day and boosts emotional stability, their paper concludes. At the same time, you meet new people, expand the size of your existing social network, and fortify your sense of congeniality.
Tip: Charm the locals you meet by learning and expressing, from time to time, typical expressions and idioms of the culture. Punctuating your phrases with a word of curious note will endear you to them.
From time to time I become aware of other's writings on topics relating to travel, both encouraging it and providing helpful suggestions. Catherine Workman of WellnessVoyager has written on this topic. She has a great view of travel: "Catherine believes we should all leave our comfort zones once in awhile. She uses travel to boost her physical and mental health and shares about her experiences on WellnessVoyager.
So, here is one of her discussions and I'll publish others in the near future.
Here are a few reasons why springing for a pleasure trip is a terrific idea, coupled with trip-maximizing tips:
It Sows Creativity
Experts on neuroplasticity (how our brain is connected) say our brains are tremendously influenced by changes in experiences and environments. Studies conducted at Columbia Business School have found that creativity is stoked when cultural immersion is deep. Open-mindedness blossoms when you shift your habits and newly tailor your life to the customs of the country you’re visiting.
Tip: Practice more than one creative outlet – such as journal writing, or craft learning – when traveling, to stir your creative synapses.
I just love this guy's face [and beard!]. He is apparently a magician and he spent alot of his time on the portico of the beer hall in the Plaza Vieja, talking to people and performing his magic.
We spent a fair amount of time in Havana [basically 3 days early on in the western part of the city and 3 days at the end in the eastern part] and walked all over the city. I thought these might be fun photos to share:
There are basically four main Plazas in old Havanna which were within easy walking distance. The one we visited first, Plaza de La Catedral, had, as you might expect, a cathedral at one end and then a number of other museums and interesting buildings and loads of tourists wandering about.
Plaza de La Catedral
In late December I, my husband and our daughter traveled to Cuba and over the next several days I'll hope to provide some descriptions and photographs from the journey. We started to plan back in June before the policy toward Cuba was changed. We bought our flights to Miami and then to Havana and set off a few days after Christmas.
We categorized ourselves as a people-to-people mission, because it was true: My husband is a lawyer and we wanted to learn about the legal system, I am a photographer and wanted to take photographs and as soon as I can get them processed and reviewed hope to have several to show, and our daughter speaks fluent Spanish and frequently translated for us. We did ultimately make arrangements with a tour agency, Cuba Cultural Travel, to handle the details of the various requirements for our visit to Cuba. They did an excellent job of finding a good guide, a safe and good driver, a variety of experiences to enjoy. It is certainly much easier to travel with the help of a tour agency when you are not familiar with the country and need assistance with some of the paperwork and other requirements.
[We lucked out with our first Casa Particular, a 15th floor penthouse apartment with a delightful host. And wonderful views of the Atlantic abutting the northern shore of Havana, Cuba.]
My sister told me about an app on her office's conference room that showed lovely aerial views of wonderful places around the world with or without background music. I found the app which can be downloaded and used on AppleTV. Skytripping
It does cost about $4 a month, but on the other hand if you want something lovely to soothe your soul, it’s a great option.
On the other hand, I have now set up something in my home office - I got an open box Apple TV and using iTunes on my iMac selected a photo folder to use via home sharing, selected music to play on my iTunes, and as I sit here, it’s playing my music and showing my photos from the selected folder….not quite HD Aerial View but really pretty cool anyway = I love the music in my library and now I can see what my images look like on a TV screen.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Another black and white image of a sight in Des Moines. There are some fascinating buildings by well-known architects in Des Moines. This is just one.
More information: Des Moines Art Center Architecture
We visited Milan a few months ago and wandered the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle - this is an image of the ceiling vault and it's a favorite of mine, as it's almost a 3D image. Is the center popping out toward you, or going away?
This is one of the images in a 2018 Calendar for sale at Artisan Gallery 218. It's an image of some tiny model boats which were on display in Montreal during the Tall Ships festival earlier this year.
I had an interesting request from some customers at the gallery, Artisan Gallery 218. They were looking for black and white images of iconic scenes in Des Moines. Thinking about it a bit, I assured them I could locate a few. I did so, they selected several and then I thought I'd share a few here. I enjoyed the project and while I personally love color, some black and white images are special as well.
I wanted to go to Chicago for a long weekend, to attend OpenHouseChicago, which is another story. After pricing airfares [$350+] and asking our daughter about Megabus [$90; she warned me I might not like the bathroom], I researched taking the train.
To take Amtrak from central Iowa to Chicago you have to go to Osceola [an hour south of Des Moines] and get on the California Zephyr. It is the cross-country train between Chicago and Emeryville, California which for the whole route takes a little over two days. The route from Iowa to /from Chicago is about 6 hours, although it can be a little more time coming from the West. That’s because Amtrak travels on freight rails and has to give way to freight train traffic.
But, it cost me $100 to ride round-trip, leaving about 9:30am and arriving about 4:30pm, and returning from 2:00pm to 8:30 pm. That’s $10 more than Megabus, but you have more room, the lounge car is available [as is the dining car], and I’d rather take the train.
Those who complain about the train ‘always’ being late generalize unfairly. After all, even though the flight takes a little over an hour, you have to be there an hour ahead and wait for baggage awhile on arrival and pay three times as much. There certainly are good reasons to fly to Chicago or elsewhere, but if you want to relax, read a book, work on your computer, sleep or play video games, the train beats a plane any day.
I also discovered something new [to me] in Chicago. I arrived at Union Station to leave about 4 hours later. Amtrak has created a Legacy Club for its passengers for $20 for a day pass. That can be money well spent - free wifi, comfortable seating, free coffee and snacks, Clue and other board games, a happy hour twice a day and a place of relevant quiet [it has TVs running which I don’t care for, but that certainly is fine for most people and I can hide in a corner and ignore them].
So, if you have time and want to maximize it and enjoy it, taking the train makes a lot of sense.
When the news of the August eclipse started going around last year, our daughter suggested that we should all meet in Wyoming to view it. Mark didn't want to go, but I was curious and thought it might be a special treat. So, I planned a trip with Kate - to meet in Salt Lake City and drive together the six or so hours to Dubois, Wyoming, a laid-back town of less than 1,000 people.
As you might imagine, there was a pretty good crowd in Dubois for the occasion. We scouted locations from which to view the eclipse and found a perfect one at the Scenic Overlook in the middle of town. There were quite a few people there, but no one got in anyone's way and it really wasn't crowded given the nature of this event.
We arrived there about 9:30 am, as I wanted to set up and make sure all my cameras were working. I took my Canon 6D with its 300mm lens, Canon G3X [which has a 600 mm lens and which took the best shots], and my iPhone 7+. I decided to put my 6D on my tripod and use the G3X as a handheld, every now and then using my iPhone.
To do this without damaging the cameras, I purchased a Mylar sheet 10" x 10" which I cut into pieces to cover the lenses of the cameras. I used rubber bands to attach the sheet to the two large cameras and the iPhone. I did have a set of glasses obtained through the eclipse2017.org site. Frankly, the Mylar worked great for its purpose with the two larger cameras, but not so much with the iPhone.
As we waited, I took a number of pictures of the sun in its full glory, prior to the moon chomping through it. Then, a little after 10 o'clock, the moon started to cross the sun. It seemed to take a long time. But as the moon moved, the sky in the surrounding area got darker and darker and the temperature became cooler and cooler and then finally Totality occurred.
I made sure to get some pictures of the Totality and got a number of them with the full corona using the G3X camera. They're not fancy shots but I'm happy with them. While the moon was covering the sun, for approximately 2 minutes and 34 seconds, it was amazing how cold it got (must've been 10 to 15° below what it had been) and dark. I looked behind me and took a picture of the far west horizon which seemed to show a sunset. That was rather odd, having the sun at almost noon in the sky and yet a sunset at the west horizon.
I'm glad I went, it was a unique experience and it was a lot of fun seeing family and friends there. I am going to collect some of these photos and post them. There are quite a few wonderful pictures by NASA, National Geographic, and many regular people who are much better photographers in these occasions. But I feel privileged to have taken some special shots.
I have posted a selection of some images on my gallery site. I learned it's best to have a telephoto lens long enough [400mm or over] but even with other lenses you can get some good shots. The gallery for the Eclipse images is: http://gallery.journeyzing.com/Galleries/Newer-Work/Eclipse-2017-in-Dubois-Wyoming/
[pricing is special, for family & friends].