not really a blog -- just a few pictures

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Lima, Peru

I was in Lima for a few days at the end of June, as the last leg of my Easter Island + Peru trip.  I spent the time entirely on foot, mostly around the Plaza Mayor, which has the cathedral and presidential residence.

Here’s a shot of the Plaza Mayor with the presidential residence in the background.  I think the fountain is the oldest thing in the square, from 1651. The World Cup was in progress the entire time I was travelling, and the second shot is folks watching the World Cup in the Plaza.

Here’s the main facade outside, and the altar + choir inside, the Cathedral.  I don’t remember ever seeing a church’s altar inside the choir, so that was interesting.

Francisco Pizarro, the Spaniard who conquered the Incas and founded Lima, is inside the cathedral.  The pics are his casket and one of a series of posters giving (I think) the evidence that the body is indeed Pizarro’s.

Street performers on the Jirion de la Union, a pedestrian street leading to the Plaza.

The San Francisco church, which also includes a convent and catacombs with some old skeletons, is a few blocks from the Plaza.  When I arrived the place seemed closed, but they opened it (?) for this little girl banging on the giant iron clanger. The crush inside was around the patron saint of impossible causes.

The Museo de Arte de Lima is a little farther afield - it’s in the Exhibition Palace built for the Lima International Exhibition of 1872.

It had a lot of interesting things I hadn’t seen before, like this depiction of the trinity as three identical characters.

A second art museum, the Museo Central, is in the old Central Reserve
Bank building.  Some of the exhibits were in the old teller stations and
basement vault.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Peru's Inca Heartland

I was in the Inca heartland of Peru for a week in June - Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Piccu.

I visited the town square in Cusco on June 24, by chance they day of a massive festival celebrating the winter solstice.

Tambomachay, an Inca water temple near Cusco.

Moray, thought to be an Inca “crop lab” with concentric terraces that have e.g. very different temperatures.

Ollantaytambo, an Incan royal estate and stronghold in the Sacred Valley.

Last, Machu Piccu is of course the star of the show.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Easter Island

I was on Easter Island (and then Peru) for a few days in June.

Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is just a speck in the Pacific, 14 miles wide, and it’s 2,200 miles from mainland Chile, making it the most remote place on Earth.  The island is volcanic, and the landscape is extinct volcanoes and craters. The population is about 7,800 people, mostly in the island's one town, Hanga Roa.

The island is famous for its hundreds of giant head statues, moai, which represent or contain spiritual power of the Rapa Nui people’s ancestors.  The moai were carved from about 1100 to 1680 AD.

Almost all of the statues are made from soft stone from one quarry on the side of the Rano Raraku crater.  There are still many statues at the quarry, incomplete or never delivered to their final destination. Those quarry heads were my favorites.

Late in the island’s history, a strange “bird man” cult replaced the ancestor religion on the island.  Each year champions (hopu) would compete to “collect the first sooty tern egg of the season from the islet of Motu Nui, swim back to Rapa Nui [the main island] and climb the sea cliff of Rano Kau to the clifftop village of Orongo.”  (Wikipedia.) The sponsor of the winning champion would become the island’s leader for the year. “The race was very dangerous and many hopu were killed by sharks, by drowning, or by falling from cliff faces...”

My pics are Motu Nui, the Rano Kau volcano, the Orongo village, and a bird man petroglyph. To parse the petroglyph, compare it to the diagrams here.

Animals - horses, cows, dogs, cats, chickens - pretty much roam free on the island.  A guide told me it was because the island was so small, there was really no place they could run off to. :)  Here are some horses grazing in Hanga Roa’s colorful cemetery.

Last, some views of the Pacific.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Silicon Valley Comic Con 2018

Pictures from Silicon Valley Comic Con 2018.

The high point for me was seeing the panel discussion with Michael Moorcock (creator of the classic fantasy antihero Elric) and his book signing.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Gen Con 2017, Eclipse

I went to Gen Con again this year with comrades Rob, Karen, Art, Lou, and Terry for Gen Con’s 50th anniversary.  By coincidence, the eclipse this year was the day after the conference, and visible from Rob and Karen’s hometown, and I went home with them to see it.

Here’s the vendors' exhibit hall.  My picture doesn’t show how busy it was - it was a crush most of the time.

My favorite costumes this year were “Not Stan Lee” and this creepy Joker.

We got up at the crack of dawn every morning to play D&D at 8:00 a.m.  Here we’re fighting swashbucklers in a warehouse that we accidentally set on fire. :O

There were retrospective panels for the 50th anniversary.  Here’s one with the D&D 5th edition authors Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford, in the middle.  They graciously signed my Player’s Handbook. :)

The D&D 3rd edition authors also did a panel.  My picture shows (from right to left) Jonathan Tweet, Skip Williams, Monte Cook, and Rich Baker.  The moderator was Peter Adkison, on the far left.  Adkison was Wizards of the Coast CEO when D&D 3.0 and Magic: The Gathering were created, and now owns Gen Con.  The authors also signed my 3.0 Player’s Handbook from the day. :)

It was a good year for schwag.  By continually pestering some Dungeon Masters, with Rob’s Twitter skills, and with some running, we were able to get some rare promo copies of the new “Lost Tales of Myth Drannor” book.  We also found some nice fezzes - here we are playing in our new fezzes with our favorite DM John.

The conference and the hotels sold out early.  Here’s (I guess) a gamer without a room sleeping outside the conference center around 7:00 a.m.

We spied the St. Louis arch driving to Rob and Karen’s.

Here are Rob and Karen watching the eclipse - the second picture shows the darkness during totality. During totality, the sun just appeared as a bluish flame-like corona around the black disk of the moon, which was astounding.