Magmanamous Meanderings on the Big Island of Hawaii

LAVAMAN, BIG ISLAND OF HAWAII Photo: (c) Russell Johnson

We are walking across the a’a looking for a nene. a’a is Hawaiian for chunky lava.pahoehoe is the smooth swirly stuff. It is almost as if mother nature had stumbled and dropped a giant Bavarian chocolate cake on the big island of Hawaii. The nene is the state bird, kind of a silly goose, supposedly descended from a Canada goose that went far astray. It has claws instead of webbed feet. The nene lives on the slopes of the Kiluhaea volcano. There are signs warning us not to feed them. But I can’t even find one. If you feed them they wander the roads begging for food and consequently become flattened by passing cars.

The nene is an endangered species.perhaps because it isn’t too bright.


New Zealand is NOT Middle Earth


New Zealand is NOT Middle Earth. Yes, I know, the film “The Hobbit” has spurred a  zealous round of tourism promotion, but  Middle Earth is a dark, dicey place full of Orcs, Spiders, fairies with ulterior motives and more good and evil than Mel Gibson could summon in a lifetime. New Zealand, not so much.  I know because I have visited both Middle Earth and New Zealand. As a grad student way back in “The First Age”, I dissected Tolkien’s Middle Earth in a semiology class. Semiology, along with racing hamsters, is one of the world’s most useless pursuits. It attempts to analyze everything from Shakespearean sonnets to roast chickens by examining every couplet and giblet through the twisty prisms of Freud, Jung and the Marx Brothers (Karl and Groucho). I came to the conclusion that Middle Earth, though green and seductive, was pure infidel-roasting hell.

New Zealand? Hey, I could live there.


Sydney on the Rocks

The Entertainment at the Hero of Waterloo

It is Sunday afternoon on The Rocks, in Sydney, Australia. Pretty tame at the Hero of Waterloo a saloon that , depending on who you talk to, is either the oldest or second oldest in Sydney. It was built by convicts in 1843. There is a tunnel under it that was used to smuggle goods in and drunken sailors out.those unlucky sots who were shanghaied to the clippers lining the docks. There are still iron shackles decorating the walls.


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