Caveat: Unlate

It’s a bit disorienting, but it seems to be the case that in fact I filed my taxes on time this year.

That’s the first time in at least a decade – and perhaps only the 2nd or 3rd time in two decades, where I’ve made the deadline.

It helped that I had already done all the paperwork, because I was unemployed during the second half of the year, and I had simply included the Korean income data for last year with all the previous years, when I’d compiled and sent to my accountant my tax info for all those missed years since my cancer hospitalization.

And it helped that like all those missed years, I had a post-deduction negative income. It’s all just paperwork. I paid my taxes in Korea for the last decade. The US is the only country in the world that requires non-resident citizens working abroad to file US-based taxes.

So happy day-after-tax-day.

Caveat: Lady Burns

In January, 1985, I was studying in Paris.

I had a camera my uncle Arthur had given to me – a fairly high quality Pentax (film-using, of course, in those days), with some nice lenses.

One day in Paris I walked around and over to the Île de la Cité and to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Because it was cold and overcast, there weren’t many crowds, and I climbed one of the towers and took pictures of Paris.

In the picture below, which I took at that time looking out on the Paris cityscape toward Montmartre, the gargoyle in the right foreground is part of the cathedral.

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Today, Notre Dame burned.

Caveat: Tree #101

This tree is the northeast corner of the putative treehouse I might build if I get motivated. Well, it’s not just that. I am holding off because I need to buy more supplies to take the next steps, but I’m limiting my spending because I haven’t got a job yet.

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[daily log: walking, 1km; tromping, 400m]

Caveat: Role Reversal

I’m having a hard day.

I had dropped off my application for a job with the Craig Schools on Monday. But I was told at the time that Friday would be the earliest someone would look at it (though it wasn’t promised for Friday, either).

Anyway, today is Friday. I have a really hard time with “waiting,” where I have zero control and zero chance to know what might happen. Which is what my situation is. Will someone call, or not? Will it be positive or negative in outcome? I don’t even have a way to guesstimate probabilities.

I found myself playing a game on my computer. I don’t actually do that much. Hardly ever.

Meanwhile, I went downstairs and Arthur was being productive. He was sorting out his finances, in the wake of having written a large check to the well-drillers yesterday.

So Arthur, who normally spends hours each day playing solitaire or tetris on his computer, was doing useful things.

Meanwhile, I was killing time with a game on my computer.

I joked with him that we’d undergone a role-reversal.

Caveat: Well

Arthur seems to have bitten the bullet and decided to put a well in. Currently water here is supplied by a bucket on the hillside. Because of the substantial rainfall, this has not been a significant problem in the past, but in the past 6 months we’ve had two “droughts.” Last summer there was an extended dry spell in August/September. And this past February we had an extended cold spell, which froze the precipitation preventing it from getting into the water tank. Both of these might be one-time flukes, or they might be part of a climate-change trend – even Arthur is open-minded with respect to the latter possibility.

Anyway, to address water insecurity even here in the rainforest, he’s decided to pay for a well.

This is a substantial investment.

Here are the trucks of the well-drillers. They are putting the well in on the edge of the new parking pad on the western lot, close to the property line and close to the existing water tank (cistern) infrastructure on the eastern lot.

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They got down to a bit over 200 feet, yesterday, and it’s giving 3 gallons per minute. This is not great, but it’s adequate for a house or two. We’ll let it go a bit further, and see how it goes. Another resident down the road has 8 gallons per minute at 220 feet, while yet another gets only 1 gallon per minute with 370 feet. So the water table under the very hard rock of the island is a bit of a crap-shoot, apparently.

Caveat: stuck inside a machine once again

As I sat, packed into a middle seat on my 5th airplane in 3 days for another seemingly interminable journey, the mp3-player on my phone played a musical track that I’d first downloaded and listened to when I was undergoing radiation treatment for cancer, in the Fall of 2013.

So of course I had some flashbacks to that point in time, as can happen with evocative music associated with specific experiences – and the actual character of the music has little to do with it… otherwise, why do I always think of Ayn Rand when I hear Arlo Guthrie’s “City of of New Orleans”? He’s a commie, and she was a hard-right libertarian type. But that song was on heavy rotation in my “life’s soundtrack” at the point in time when I was reading her book Atlas Shrugged. Thus it goes. Okay, enough of  that digression.

I posted this picture of myself, back during my cancer treatment, which recalls my experience with the radiation treatment concretely. Note the immobilizing rigid (yes, rigid) plastic mesh pinning down my head and upper body).

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Anyway, the thought that struck me so profoundly, as I sat crammed in that airplane seat, was that the radiation machine (a high-powered CT scanner, basically – the radiation therapy was technically called “X-ray computed tomography intensity modulated radiation therapy“) was more comfortable than a typical economy-class airplane seat. Given a free option to spend X number of hours in one or the other, I would definitely choose the radiation gadget.

That’s how I feel about traveling in airplanes.

Of course, there’s no denying that the real negative on the radiation treatment wasn’t the time spent in the machine, but rather the side effects: weight loss, hair loss, nausea, etc. I guess airplane seats don’t have such a long-term impact.

What I’m listening to right now.

Epsilon Minus, “Lost.” I wrote about this particular track once before, on this here blog, noting that the track appeared to be one of the few that doesn’t exist online. Obviously someone has since remedied that problem.

Caveat: Juneau

I am with Arthur in Juneau.

He came here for two medical appointments – we’d decided when planning the trip to my mom’s in Australia that it was logical to just tack on the visit to Juneau to the end of that trip.

This did not work out well. We got to see the specialist this morning, but our delayed arrival due to the problem in departing Cairns meant that the general annual VA appointment was utterly cocked up by our missed day. And there seems to be little we can do about it. Arthur is being indecisive about whether to stay longer in in Juneau to get things taken care of, or to go on home and come back to Juneau later – both involve almost exactly the same level of extra expense, and without that as a guide, it’s hard to make a decision.

Meanwhile, I decided to walk around. I’ve never visited Juneau before, despite repeated visits to Southeast Alaska.

Here are some pictures.

The State Capitol building – one of the few non-purpose-built state capitols in the US (the only one?), it’s just a repurposed old office building.

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The Russian church.

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A neighborhood park called Chicken Yard.

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Manila Square – there are a lot of Philippine people in Southeast Alaska (which I knew – I remember my surprise at hearing Tagalog on the streets of Ketchikan), so there is, apparently, a memorial of this here.

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The Korean Restaurant that is closest to my new home (bearing in mind that that still means more than 500km by boat or plane from my new home).

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A view of Juneau from in front of our motel.

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A little hut in a field.

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Caveat: 한국어영화

Having nothing better to do on the 15 hour transpacific flight, I happened to stumble across the fact that the Air Canada movie selection included quite a few foreign films – including 4 Korean movies.

I decided somewhat arbitrarily that transpacific flights should include Korean movies (such movies have been included, so often, in the past, because my most frequent transpacific carrier has been Korean Airlines).

So I binged on Korean movies. No comment with respect to quality – this is not, nor has it ever been, a movie review blog. You can find summaries and reviews elsewhere, better than anything I could write.

But I enjoyed watching them – a few hours of immersion in Korean culture, absent from my day to day life since last summer.

The movies I watched:

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돌아와요 부산항애 – a violent cops and robbers thriller where the two antagonists (cop and robber) are twin brothers.

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스타박스다방 – a comedy involving a guy starting a coffee shop in a small coastal village in Korea, where many of the characters die at the end.

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선명탐정: 흡혈괴마의 비밀 – an anachronistic comedy adventure involving vampires in Joseon Era Korea (1700s).

Caveat: Tree #90

We were supposed to be flying in the air. That turned out not to happen – we got stuck in a motel in Cairns. A delayed departure for the first flight led to a chain reaction of missed connecting flights all the way to Juneau. Systemic failure. So they postponed everything 24 hours and we try again tomorrow morning, same time, same place.

Malingering around Cairns, I took a very long walk, from our suburban airline comp hotel to the downtown waterfront. I’ll post pictures when I get a better internet connection.

Meanwhile, a banana tree (or two).

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[daily log: walking, 12km]

Caveat: Through pouring rain

We drove over to Kuranda today, to visit some of my mom’s friends.

We saw Pat, whom I’ve met during previous visits. Here is a picture of Ann, Arthur and Pat beside the Buddha in Pat’s driveway.

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We met Kirsten and Emma at their “block” a little farther west. They live in a big shed and have a dam and a small reservoir on their property. And some dogs.

Here is the dog Mickey playing fetch with a ring-shaped toy, looking cute because the ring wraps around the nose.

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Driving back, there was a lot of rain – sheets of rain like falling oceans.

We stopped in Ravenshoe, the closest town to where my mother’s house is, for a late lunch. Here is the Ravenshoe Town Hall.

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Looking the other way, here is the Bottle Shop (Liquor Store) and Motel.

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Caveat: Birds and their brains

I was just reading something that confirmed what many of intuit: birds are quite surprisingly smart relative to their size. Apparently it comes down to neuron count, as opposed to brain size, as such. Thus your average crow has the same number of cortical neurons as your average monkey, and that’s why crows seem as smart as monkeys, despite their much smaller brains. They pack a lot more neurons into that smaller head volume. And it explains why elephants are NOT smarter, too: they have fewer cortical neurons than the crow, despite extremely large brains.

My mother likes the birds that dwell around her house (and make quite a bit of noise, too). Here are some pictures she gave to me of her various neighbors.

A tawny frogmouth.

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A pair of bush thickknees.

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A king parrot.

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Caveat: feast on the verandah

So Arthur and I arrived at my mom’s yesterday, and today Ann invited over a lot of her “Australian” family and we had a feast of barbecued ribs and other things to eat, some of which make me nostalgic like my mom’s bean salad and potato salad. The weather was humid and summery (in my feeling of the word “summery”, despite just passing the fall equinox here). The rain broke and the skies were briefly blue.

Here is everyone (minus me) sitting around some tables set up on the verandah at my mom’s house.

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The picture shows the following people, going clockwise from the man in the foreground: “Hacker”, Karen, Aaron, Arthur, {my chair, which is empty}, Ann, Kirsten, Bonnie, Emma (mostly hidden), Gwen, Len.

It was nice to meet some of these people who until now I only knew from my mother talking about therm. These are the people who are part of my mom’s day-to-day life here. I am thankful for them and the kindness and generosity they have shown to my mother.

Here is a bird (of course my mother would know what kind, but I don’t) on the rail. [UPDATE, by Ann: The bird is a Noisy Minor, a type of honeyeater, native to Australia.]

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The electronic zoom on my camera is quite limited – it’s hard to capture things like birds because you can’t get so close to the birds before they fly away, but far away they are just pixelated specks which when zoom in on end up a bit blurry.

Earlier, we took a walk down to the river (Vine Creek, which flows into Millstream) that runs at the base of my mom’s property. Here is Arthur, beyond the trunk of a big old tree.

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[UPDATE, by Ann: The big old trunk is of a Casuarina cunninghamiana better known as a she-oak, or a river oak.]

Caveat: Tree #79

We arrived at my mom’s house in Ravenshoe, Queensland, without major difficulties. There was a lot of rain falling coming up the range from Cairns Airport, through Kuranda and Mareeba. But it’s a much warmer rain than Southeast Alaskan rain.

Here is a tree over my mom’s driveway.

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[daily log: walking, 2km]

Caveat: timelost

There’s always more time for procrastination!
Except for today. Today doesn’t exist, because we’re flying across the Pacific east to west, so we lose a day.
See you tomorrow.