Saturday, October 08, 2022

World Heritage: Belem Tower

 Last month, I visited my 55th World Heritage Site, Belem Tower in Lisbon, Portugal.


Above is not a picture of Belem Tower; it's what the Stable Diffusion AI drew when I gave it the prompt "Belem Tower".



Here's what Belem Tower actually looks like. It was built in the Lisbon Harbor both as a defensive fortification and to commemorate all the voyages of the Age of Discovery.

It was neat to climb the stairs and enjoy the views of the harbor.


The other part of the World Heritage Site is a monastery. I did not visit it, but here I am holding some pastries in front of it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

World Heritage Update

Since I'm re-invigorating the blog, I thought I would update some of my more interesting fixations. One of those is seeing how many World Heritage Sites I can visit.

Since my last update, more sites have been inscribed (though none I've visited), bringing the total to 1154.

I have visited one site in that time: Cahokia Mounds.

It's in Illinois, just a little bit east of St. Louis. It consists of a number of prehistoric earthworks. It is unusual in that it is a state park.

Honestly, that last fact was constantly on my mind. Illinois' senators have tried to get it named a national park. I could only imagine how much of a better job the NPS could do, both in terms of visitor experience and preservation. Still, neat to visit.

This brings my total sites visited to 64. My percentage of the total visited drops ever so slightly lower to 5.55%. I have plans to visit another in September -- stay tuned!


Saturday, July 09, 2022

Nebula Update

I've been away from blogging for a while (yikes, only 5 posts last year...and pretty boring ones, frankly). I started this blog during a difficult time in my life. Twenty-two years later, I find myself in a surprisingly similar one, so it seemed appropriate to return to the blog to express myself.

At least for now, I'm going to talk about more cheerful things. 

In 2004, I declared a goal of reading all the books to win the Nebula Award for Best Novel.

My most recent update was in 2019. I only had 5 books left. Well, three more years have added three more novels to read. I have, however, read all three.

The 2019 winner was Song for a New Day. I mostly listened to it on my drive cross-country last year to visit my mother in Arizona. It largely concerns people not wanting to live their houses because of a pandemic. Eerie. I gave it 4 stars.

The 2020 winner was Network Effect, book 5 in the Murderbot series. I gave it five stars; I have really enjoyed the whole series.

The 2021 winner was A Master of Djinn, another 5-star book. It is a mystery set in an alternate-history, steampunk 1910 Cairo. With lots of magic. It's great, and I hope to see more books in the series.

So it's back to 5 left. The good news is that I am back to flying again, and I do some of my best reading in the skies.


Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Geocaching: Fall 2021

After not geocaching in August and September, I found 12 caches in October and 24 in November, for a pretty busy fall.

On October 3, I found a single challenge cache. On the 8th, I found my first Adventure Lab (and a bonus cache) along with 6 challenge caches. I had avoided adventure labs for a while because they count as a "find" but not a "cache," which is confusing. But I might want to do one with the boys at some point, so I thought I'd see what was going on. Two of the challenge caches were new difficulty terrain combos (D/T #47 and #48). Another challenge cache was the first cache I found placed in October 2018 (Month 224).

On the 11th, I decided to push towards my long-standing goal of finding caches in all 24 Maryland counties. I headed for the lower Eastern Shore and found one cache in each of the counties there (Counties 159-162). Two of them were from new months, May 2005 and July 2009 (Months 225 and 226). That left three Maryland counties.

View from Dorchester County cache
In early November, an excursion to Delaware allowed me to get the 22nd Maryland County, Dorchester (County 163), as well as New Castle County (County 164) in Delaware. I now have 2 out of 3 Delaware counties, which makes me regret the hole the missing one forms in my map. It's about 90 minutes each way from work to fill that in.

On the 7th, I headed out in Northern Virginia specifically looking for unfound months. I found six of them (Months 227-232) and a challenge cache.

I found one more cache on the 12th, and then on the 13th, I headed for West Virginia, mostly with the aim of finishing the 77 Degrees West challenge (I have now found one starting W77 00, one starting W77 01, etc.). That day, I also found my first cache in Berkeley County (County 165).

On the 20th and 21st, I went caching in Pennsylvania. Somehow, I was right near an unfound cache, so I grabbed FTF #25, and my first in Pennsylvania. All in all, I found caches in five new counties (Counties 166-170). The FTF was actually placed on October 31, so I got October 2021 as Month 233.

Finally, I found four caches on Thanksgiving, including one placed in September 2021 (Month 234).