Had an interesting observation experience today.

gymnasticsMy son has always been very athletic. He has not participated much in team sports but instead has been into pursuits like trampolining, gymnastics, parcourt, skateboarding, and scootering.

As a small kid, he was always climbing to the very tops of trees. He left his friends in the dust in that regard.

When he had a trampoline, he was on that thing for hours. It was under a tree, and he would jump off of branches onto the trampoline, scaring the neighbors to death and anybody else watching him.

At gymnastics, his favorite concentration was the trampoline, and he was very good. He did flips and twists and somersaults and all kinds of things.

In the last few years he has been very much drawn to parcourt. He is always skating or scootering off of tables and steps and ledges and fences and railings. He also will regularly do backflips off of walls and light poles and palm trees and columns.

He does this stuff randomly, often in public places, and people are always watching. It is pretty impressive. Even though I’ve seen him do a million running backflips off of columns and light posts, it still is impressive to me. People who don’t see that often are usually blown away.

Anyway, today I was watching him at the skate park doing some running backflips off of a palm tree. A friend of his was watching also, and I could tell that he was trying to figure out how to replicate what my son was doing.

As I watched the friend talking through the moves and doing a dry run, I could see that it was going to be a challenge for him to pull off. My son was trying to coach him through the run and the flip, demonstrating how you have to throw your arms back and your head back at strategic points in order to do a successful flip.

The friend was never able to pull it off. Watching him made me realize my son’s skill level and his athletic ability as well as his spacial awareness. I mean, I’ve known for years that he has all that, but I don’t often see him next to another kid who is trying the same thing.

girl-28775_960_720The contrast was pretty stark. My son does the same kinds of flips and twists and somersaults on his scooter. He usually has to execute these at a skate park with concrete ramps and bowls and half pipes and the like.

The air he gets is jaw-dropping. There are always people taking pictures and videos of him. I see him do this stuff all the time, and I do know it requires a lot of skill and practice, but my appreciation is probably slightly dimmed by the fact that I see him do it all the time.

So anyway, seeing what happened this afternoon with the other kid who never even got off the ground was interesting.
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In my last post I talked about my bird-watching trip to Bali, and about the last day that included some down time in the port city that we flew into and out from.

The afternoon in the city was very fun. I got dropped off with a new friend in the bazaar district and we spent the whole afternoon wandering around there. The bazaar seemed endless—like a maze or a warren of little shops, with fronts open and sides made out of either curtains or bamboo screens.

It was hot and noisy and full of activity. The shop/booth vendors were talking to each other and to shoppers and to random children that were running through.

indiana_jones_art_by_chukgertIt reminded me of scenes from Indiana Jones, with slanty light streaming down into the passageways between booths and dark areas towards the back where I half expected some swarthy, toothless man to slide out and brandish a giant silver curved knife.

There were lots of Chinese merchants selling cheap trinket type things and salty plums and cans of warm soda. There were cloth sellers with bolts and bolts of material. There were tailors where you could take the fabric you’d just bought from the cloth vendor and get it made up into some dress or outfit or sarong or whatever.

There were also food vendors selling things I didn’t even recognize, some alive and some dead, some organic, some not, plus spices and herbs and roots and bottles of syrups and liquids and who knows what all.

It was all so colorful and lively and . . . smelly. Yeah, that got to me just a little. It was the smells of the merchandise and the food and old fish and body odor and everything else mixed in. The fact that there wasn’t much air flow didn’t help. All the smells kinda got trapped and then heated up and marinated, so to speak.

I asked one of the tailors how long it would take to make up a dress. He said two hours. When I laughed like he was joking, he frowned and said, “No funny! No funny! Two hour! You see!”

I decided, on a whim, to get a dress made, since that conversation happened in the early part of the afternoon.

grand-bazaar-shops-istanbulI went back to a cloth vendor and picked out a great print plus a solid, got two meters of the print and one of the solid, and took them back to the tailor.

He had a bunch of patterns to pick from so I selected one, and he took a bunch of measurements, and told me to come back in two hours.

Honestly, I could hardly believe that he could whip out a dress in two hours. I went back after three hours, and there was the finished dress, hanging up and ready to go! I was astounded.

So that was the bazaar shopping experience. I came away with the dress plus a bunch of little wood carvings. And the feeling that I’d experienced a genuine part of Bali culture.
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I took the trip of a lifetime a month ago. I found a bird-watching tour that went to Bali for a week, and I signed up for it and went.

bird sanctuaryThe whole thing was an amazing experience. I flew across the country and met up with the group in Los Angeles, and then we all flew together from there. It was an endless trip. Flew first to Hawaii, and then to Japan, and then to Jakarta, and then to Bali.

I lost track of the hours we were traveling. It basically added up to two days, including layovers. The two travel days bookended the week in Bali.

Our first night in Bali was in the main town that all the tourists end up in, and then we took a puddle-jumper to a remote part of the island where we stayed in an eco-resort for three days. After that we went by canoe to some outer islands off the coast of Bali for another three days.

Our lodging during that segment was pretty primitive but fabulous regardless.

Our last day was back in the main town. We visited a bird sanctuary on that day and also had some tourist/shopping time.

The days that we spent away from the main town were the best ones, of course, since we were out in remote locations without people around.

Birds of paradise were the birds that I was most looking forward to seeing because they’re unique to that part of the world and I had never seen or heard anything else like them. I had only ever seen them in documentaries.

bed and breakfastHow we spent the days at the eco resort was that we had breakfast together and then our guide gave us a run-down of what we’d likely see, and the best places we’d see the birds. And then he took us out in a Jeep (several Jeeps, actually, with different drivers) and dropped us off at different places in the jungle.

He left us for several hours, then came back and brought us lunch and cold drinks and took us to a different spot for the next several hours. Then he collected all of us and took us to a location where dinner had been provided, and after we had dinner, then we had a night session.

Obviously for the night session we couldn’t see the birds, but there are some that only call at night, so we just listened for them. It was a different kind of experience because it was all dark and we were just relying on our hearing.

The night sounds in the jungle were surprisingly loud, and it was often hard to tell what all we were hearing, and what was the birds and what was something else.

But it was great, just because it was such a different experience listening to bird calls at night instead of during the day.

During that week in the remote locations, I saw a ton of birds of paradise. I was so excited about that. I also took some pictures.

So that was my trip. Fantastic. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
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I built my house a few years ago and decided to put a birdwatching station on the roof.

I knew I would need a certain kind of roofing company that could get a roofing permit and jump through all the necessary hoops to do my project. Of course I wanted the best roofing company possible, so I Googled Jacksonville beach roofers and found Monahan Roofers.

Of all the roofing companies I found, they seemed to be the best of the contractors around, and they would come out to my home and give me an estimate, explain the costs, tell me all my options, etc. Plus they have experience putting in roofs with specialty glass skylights, which I wanted.

I had them come out before the house was built (obviously). I was acting as my own general contractor. I met with them early on in the house-building process, when the plans were being drawn up.

roofing I knew I wanted a viewing area on top of the roof, and I envisioned a round room completely encircled with glass windows, and with the whole top of the room being skylights. So you could stand in that roof-top room and have a 360-degree view plus a full overhead view too.

I needed a roofer that could pull that off, and when I met with Monahan Roofers, they gave me confidence that they could do what I needed.

It has been several years now since I had the house built, and I’m really happy with how it turned out, especially the bird-watching room on top of the roof.

I spend a lot of time up there. All of the windows that wrap around the room can be opened, and most of the skylight panes open, too. So when all the windows are open, it means I can hear the bird calls outside.

I love that.

Word has gotten out about my roof-top room. It’s not like I was trying to keep it a secret. And anyone who walks past my house can see the room on top of the roof. It’s pretty unique looking—kind of like an observatory plopped on top of your average house.

birdwatchingAnyhow, I’m starting to get calls from people wondering if they can drop by and use the room for birdwatching. Not like giant groups, just the occasional person here and there.

I did get a call from an elementary school teacher, wondering if she could bring her class over and how many could that room hold, by the way? I told her it could comfortably accommodate up to eight people and that her class was welcome to visit in shifts.

So over the course of a week, she came on four days, bringing a group of eight kids per day. I don’t know what she did with the other 21 kids while she was at my house with the eight.

But anyway, it has been fun to share my birdwatching room. I have some avid birdwatchers who come a couple of times a week. It could get a bit annoying, but I’m not letting it become that.

It’s fun to see people with the same passion as I have.

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