Going Outside to Play

Although Indonesia was quite a beautiful place, it was also incredibly poor. Every country has its Hans Rosling (see his amazing TED video here) predictable bell curve of wealth distribution, and Indonesia has so many people in it (almost as many people as the US), that a lot of people end up over on the left-hand side of the curve.

While walking around one of the cities there, I went off-track and ended up in a small settlement underneath a bridge. This family had set up here, found old couches and bits of refuse to build their home. This little girl was outside playing, arranging scraps of trash on the ground in interesting patterns.

I stopped and talked to the family for a short time. They were nice and didn’t mind me taking photos. The mom seemed a little suspicious but then calmed down when she saw I was good with kids. The dad did not speak a lot of English, and I indicated to him that his house looked pretty sturdy compared to some of the others. He pointed to one across the river, which you can see in the upper part of the photo, an, in broken words, said that part of it had recently washed away. The dad was pretty happy with what he had built. He motioned to the little fence and then motioned to his little girl.

Going Outside to Play

Fly Fishing Behind the Ranch

There is a perfect stream here on the edge of Montana that backs onto a ranch where I have stayed a few times. At night, you can hear the stream rushing by while you sleep. Sometimes, in the morning, you can see a bit of steam coming off it as the air adjusts. In the middle of the day, the fish are biting and there isn’t another fisherman for miles.

It looks like it might be easy to cross, but, believe me — it isn’t. There’s a few deep pockets in there that you won’t find until you’re one step too late. I’ll never forget the time my chest waders started filling up with cold river water. Once a little bit starts, it’s a slippery slope!

I also ended up doing a bit of tubing down this river too… which I’m sure was completely confusing to the fish underneath.

The River Behind the Ranch

The Hollywood Tower Hotel

I tried to give this one a very Twilight Zone feel to it. The whole ride at Disney World is filled with Rod Serlingesque treatments, so I thought it would be a fitting adjustment.

This ride is pretty freaky, and I totally recommend it!

The Hollywood Tower Hotel

The Fed Ex Forum Awaiting the New Season

I was lucky enough to get a tour of the Memphis Grizzlies home stadium when there was hardly anyone around. The Fed-Ex Forum is an amazing facility. I think it looks like a great place to go watch games. The surrounding downtown area is also very cool… seems like it would be a great way to spend a night out. I’ve never been in Memphis on game night, but I’ll be sure to make that happen some time!

Also I got to go back in the locker room and meet some of the players. The guys were so nice and affable… I couldn’t get over it. I don’t know what I expected, but they were just all really young nice dudes. And then I saw this little underwater rehab/training facility. It was really wide and had this conveyor belt that ran under water. I asked why it was so wide and was told it was originally used for horse rehab! Crazy…hehe…

Memphis finally got a good pick in the draft… #2! That’s great for those guys… go Grizzlies! :)

The Fed Ex Forum Awaiting the New Season

The Lost Souls of Malacca

This was a totally new way of dealing with death to me.

Malacca is a small seaside town in southern Malaysia. It has many Chinese residents, a majority of whom are still quite poor. When the family members die, there is usually very little money to give them a grave in a graveyard, so there are a multitude of shrines and temples in which families erect these miniature tombstones, stacked deep in rows. There are thousands and thousands of them. A photo is attached to each one, and most waste away with time. A few solitary ones remain behind.

In other news, there was a recent interview by the Homebody Blogger that I have been meaning to post. It has the over-the-top title of “Master of HDR Photography, Trey Ratcliff”. Well I don’t know about all that (!), but here is a link to the interview for you.

Lost Souls of Malacca

Even the Model of Shanghai is Huge

Look at this crazy place I found in Shanghai!

This was inside one of the many government buildings. It was a multi-story complex dedicated to the past, present, and future of Shanghai. It was filled with multimedia presentations on the water systems, photo exhibits of the Bund under British control, and video extrapolations of what the city would become in 2020.

Of all these cool things, the best was this gigantic model of Shanghai. I walked around it about five times, trying to get some kind of sense of how to photograph the dang thing. Then, finally, I decided to grab a shot that included a few tourists to show the scale of this monstrosity.

By the way, thanks so much for all the interest in the Newsletter yesterday! I put a map on that page showing where all the early subscribers are coming from. I was, frankly, surprised how many people signed up! Now the pressure is on to deliver something that is worthwhile!

Even the model of Shanghai is huge (by Stuck in Customs)

A cool waterfall to relax at during the hike, and a new Newsletter!

During the hike through the Andes, I would vacillate between sweating hot and frigid cold. Sometimes, things would be just about perfect and an idyllic waterfall like this one would emerge from the Eden-like trail. It was the perfect place to take a load off in the cool water for a break.

Well, there was enough negative feedback yesterday that I have decided to remove the ads. There were little ads that would appear whenever you “mouse over’ the photo. But some people found them annoying, and I have taken them off. The rates seemed to be better than google adwords and they were projected to bring in several hundred per month. But, alas, it’s not worth making the site ugly or upsetting the readers.

We do have a new Newsletter! I invite you to sign up for it. It’s free and should be something fun for your inbox.

Here is what we are aiming for the newsletter to contain.

  • Any upcoming news, events, or plans about Stuck In Customs, so you can be the FIRST to know!
  • A collection of fun links that I find/post on Twitter, neat finds, and other things to inspire you.
  • Advanced secret links to upcoming reviews so you can be the first to see and provide feedback! !! This is a cool one, eh?
  • A review of the latest, most interesting photos.
  • A nice, compact, beautiful email that you can share with your family and friends. These are just the sort of pretty emails that can make you popular in your email circle o’ friends.

A cool waterfall to relax at during the hike, and a new Newsletter! (by Stuck in Customs)

It’s Summertime for Little Girls, and are the new ads too annoying for ya?

I don’t think I realized a big difference in clothes and seasons for little girls until I had one of my own. Every single outfit choice is as dramatic as the final night of American Idol. The histrionics that ensue is the selection of shoes could be stage play of epic proportions. But, once the outfit is complete, then it’s time for summer.

Now, some of you may notice (and have noticed) that I am experimenting with new ads on the site. I will leave them up for 24 more hours and see what your feedback is like. If you find them very annoying, I’ll take them down. Feel free to give me frank comments down here below. The site gets between 300K and 350K visitors per month, and the only ad hitherto has been the banner on the right for B&H Photo, who sponsor the site. So, anyway, I value your regular readership, and I have no wish to annoy you! Lemme know… thanks!

It's Summertime for Little Girls (by Stuck in Customs)

Up Close and Personal with the Imperial Walker

Imperial Walkers are some of the coolest sci-fi creations ever. I heard Lucas got the idea from looking at those giant seaside cranes in the San Francisco bay. If you ever cross the Oakland Bay Bridge, you can see the huge monstrous ironworks marching into the distance.

I would love to go be on a movie set to take photos. Why hasn’t anyone invited me to do this? I don’t know… But if there is an awesome movie being made somewhere with really interesting visuals, I hope someone enterprising can get me onto the set! I’ll do my best to take some really memorable shots. It’s too late for me to get on the Star Wars set, sadly. Besides, I was only 6 when the first one came out, and I didn’t know that much about cameras… just light sabers.

The Walker (by Stuck in Customs)

Steam Train 52 5448-7

These old trains in Europe are always cool. I can’t imagine how incredibly heavy they are. All that cast iron just looks like it might create its own gravitational force. I like looking at all the machinery and piping and stuff. I’m the first to admit that I don’t know a dang thing about trains, but I do like looking at them.

I visited a train museum also while I was in Dresden. It was really interesting looking at all the tiny inventions that had been deprecated and forgotten over time. They would have extremely specialized tools that would only do one thing for a technology that only lasted a short time. Some of these things must have weighed several tons, and the only task it could perform is maybe a mounting harness for a cast iron part that only fit one sort of train that was only in service for a few years. It was a cool museum. I guess it is kind of a guy thing… it must have been, since I didn’t even see another woman in the whole place!

Steam Train 52 5448-7 (by Stuck in Customs)

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