Flying Flags — God Bless America

July 5th, 2017 · 10:29 am  →  Blog Culture

Flying Flags

Yesterday was the 4th of July.  America’s 241st birthday.  I’m old enough to vividly remember the Bicentennial and all the hoopla and buildup that went into that.  I was a teenager then, so if that was really 41 years ago, I guess that means that I’m really old now.  Even though these “normal” birthdays for America aren’t as hyped as the “major” ones like the upcoming Sestercentennial in 2026, I still love the 4th of July.  It’s a simple feel good, family fun holiday with patriotic undertones and psychedelic fireworks.

For the last 3 years I’ve lived in Houston, Texas.  Most people know that Houston is the 4th largest city in the US, but many don’t realize that it’s also the most culturally diverse city in the US.  In addition to it’s warm weather, vibrant economy and consistent winds, its diversity is one of the things I love most about Houston.

As I’m known to do on many weekends (and reportedly sometimes during the week after work), I went kiteboarding yesterday.  On the weekends I normally go the the Texas City Levee or the Dike.  The Texas City Dike is literally a 5 mile long Road to Nowhere which juts out into Galveston Bay.  It’s a very popular destination for fishing, boating,  beach going, picnicking and for some of us, kiteboarding.  The fact that you can drive out onto the hard packed beach allows a pretty high usage density among the locals.  It’s always pretty crowded on the weekends, but on major holidays like Memorial Day, Labor Day, or yesterday’s American birthday party, it truly becomes a Human Zoo.  I’m guessing there were somewhere around 30 thousand people and at least 10 thousand barbeque grills out on the Dike yesterday, cars tightly parked in several rows along the entire shore line.  

I’m not even going to speculate on the reasons, but the Dike always seems to serve as a cultural sieve.  The cultural demographics on the tip of the Dike just don’t match the aggregate demographics of Houston . Walking up and down the beach yesterday, my informal spoken dialogue survey indicated probably 80% Spanish, 10% Vietnamese, 5% Chinese and 5% English speakers.  As I kited on my foilboard back and forth 100m off shore, the delicious aromas of carnitas, pollo asada, fried fish and Vietnamese crawfish wafted past me, and beats mixing Hip-hop and Latin pop boomed from the many competing sound systems. It is always a super festive multi-cultural atmosphere on the Dike.  Flags were flying everywhere along the length of the shore, mostly American, but with plenty of Texan, a few Mexican flags and I even spotted a few Italian, Chilean and Nicaraguan banners. 

Because the beach was so crowded, I had to use a certain beach cabana with 3 flags on a tall pole as my landmark for where to come back ashore after kiting.  This tall pole had an American flag, a Houston Astros flag and a hybrid Rockets/Texans/Astros flag.  It served as the perfect patriotic Houston hometown pride re-entry marker.  The multi-generational family of 9 under the awning eating corn and chicken were all speaking Spanish and I asked one of the young teenage boys where they were from.  Paco told me he was 13 and that his family was from El Salvador.  He was born in Houston but his parents and grandma (seated, smiling and eating) all immigrated from El Salvador.  They really didn’t seem to be rapists, murders or drug lords.  They seemed like flag flying Americans to me, enjoying their freedom to chill on the beach.

Recently, under our current administration, I’m not always 100% proud to be an American, but I’m always 100% glad to be an American.  Fly your flag.  God Bless America.

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2009 In One Word

January 4th, 2010 · 10:04 am  →  Culture

What one word did over 5000 Facebook and Twitter users use to sum up 2009? This Tag Cloud From Wordle lays out the largest clusters of sentiment. Which major feelings would you have that aren’t represented here?

Posted via web from jeffreyjdavis’s posterous

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The World According to Americans

December 13th, 2009 · 10:23 am  →  Culture

Although hopefully an overstated generalization, this cartoon map sums up many of the flawed and uneducated perspectives of (at least some) Americans.   Put together, they do not create a very attractive picture of our country of our people, do they?   If you are American, please do your part, especially when dealing with those from other cultures, not to act like a jackass.   It reflects poorly on the rest of us.

Posted via web from jeffreyjdavis’s posterous

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Left vs Right : Two Sides Of The Idealogic Coin, From Every Angle

October 21st, 2009 · 9:21 am  →  Blog Culture

This interesting infographic compares Left-leaning views with Right-leaning views from almost every dimension. Obviously, some simplifications, generalizations and stereotypes must be made to do such a comparison, but on the whole, most of the assessments are pretty valid, and it does not appear that there was any overarching bias one way or the other.   An interesting look, if I do say so myself.

Posted via web from jeffreyjdavis’s posterous

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An Amazing Sand Painting Rendition Of Germany’s WWII Ukraine Invasion

September 20th, 2009 · 2:10 pm  →  Culture

Kseniya Simonova is a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine’s version of “America’s Got Talent.” She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and “sand painting” skills to interpret Germany’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII. Her technique and rapid fire impressionism are impressive, and you can see the emotional impact her art had on the audience members.

Posted via web from jeffreyjdavis’s posterous

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The Longest Way 1.0 – one year / 4646km time lapse walk through China

September 8th, 2009 · 11:13 am  →  Culture Travel

This guy’s story is amazing, and his time lapse video does a great job of cataloging his journey and facial hair development. Please visit Chris Rehage’s site thelongestway.com.

Very inspiring.

Posted via web from jeffreyjdavis’s posterous

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Keeping It Real In ShiPu

September 7th, 2009 · 10:02 am  →  Culture Travel
WalnutShellIN A NUTSHELL: A day’s walk through the ancient coastal fishing village of ShiPu impressed me with the simple lifestyle and generous, friendly personalities of the local people.

I spent last weekend sightseeing with a friend in Shipu, an old fishing village in Xiangshan county.  This was less of a tourist destination sightseeing day, but more of a just “wander around and talk to the locals” style of day, which I found refreshing.  This city revolves around the sea and the fish and sea life which grace the local tables, hence it’s moniker “Ancient Fishing Village”.

We started by climbing to the rooftop garden of a seven story apartment, where we had great views of the harbor.

Yú​chì​guā​ vines overlooking ShiPu harbor

Sīguā vines (Loofah) overlooking ShiPu harbor

Rainwater Capture Urns

Rainwater Capture Urns

Further up the slope, we noted a row of small houses and it appeared that one had been involved in some kind of fire.  We went back down to street level, then climbed up steep stairs and a very steep dirt slope to get a closer look.

The Burned Out Home

The Burned Out Home

Stairs Up From Street Level

Stairs Up From Street Level

After making it up to their level, we met a man and his wife rummaging through the hopelessly charred remains of what used to be their kitchen.  Apparently this fire had happened several weeks earlier, and in a very animated discussion, the woman explained how they believed it was started as an arson, due to their non support of a local building project further up the hill (more on that later).  I felt sorry for the terrible state of their home and wondered how long it would take them to rebuild.

Fire Victim Wife

Fire Victim Wife

Fire Victim Husband

Fire Victim Husband

Picking Through The Ashes

Picking Through The Ashes

Searching Through The Ashes

Searching Through The Ashes

We continued to climb up a loose gravel trail to the top of the hill, where the construction project was going on.  A large temple project was being built, with activity everywhere, and the power of cheap manual labor apparent.

Temple Construction

Temple Construction

We browsed around, but by this time, we were extremely hot, tired and thirsty, as the day was extremely warm and sunny and we had just  climbed several hundred meters from street level.  Unfortunately we had forgot to bring water, and set out to see if we  could bum some off of the workers.  We met a lady who was one of the cookers for the work crews and she kindly invited us into her kitchen and poured us some water from her urn.  She was quite shy to have her picture taken, but I snagged a few anyway.  She explained that the workers were mostly from Anhui and Fujian, and she was there as the chef for the workers from Fujian.  She complained that Ningbo cuisine was good, but just “different” from Fujian, so the workers were more happy and productive if they could eat food from their hometown.  She was in the middle of cooking lunch, dish by dish, and had everything stored under a large plywood cover to keep the flies away.  She kindly offered to have us stay and eat lunch with them, but we decided to move on.

Fujian Cooker

Fujian Cooker

Fujian Cooker 2

Fujian Cooker 2

We made our way further up into the town, and came upon a group of ladies just relaxing in their courtyard on a warm Saturday morning.  We played with their dog, DengDeng, whom they promptly tried to sell to me for 5000 kwai.  One lady knitted a sweater automagically the entire time we spoke with her.

DengDeng

DengDeng

Saturday Chillin, Shipu Style

Saturday Chillin, Shipu Style

The Knitter

The Knitter

Walking on, I met a kid snacking on dried fish cake who was happy to pose for a pic and hope for world peace.

Peace, Man

Peace, Man

We watched a man and his wife make custom made cotton and down comforters for a customer.  I learned that the price is 25 kwai, and I found the manufacturing process pretty interesting.  When asked why the customer was buying heavy blankets in the middle of summer, she knowingly explained that lead times in winter can be several weeks, while if she bought in off season, she could have it made while she waited.  Even though man and wife were working hard, they seemed happy to have a customer and pretty willing to have their picture taken.

Comforter Factory

Comforter Factory

DSC01906

We made our way back down toward “Seafood Street” along the harbor for a quick lunch.  The setup here is a little different, the tables are along the harbor, and the fish tanks and kitchen are  on the other side of a busy street.  The marketing department aggressively flags down cars as you pull through the street.  We went over, picked out our live sea creatures, and then sat down and waited about 10 minutes for our freshly prepared lunch.  Along with some ice cold local Daliangshan beer, it was a nice end to an enjoyable day.

Dinner Before

Dinner - Before

Dinner - After

Dinner - After

Waiter Heading Back To The Kitchen

Waiter Heading Back To The Kitchen

Chef Napping Between Customers

Chef Napping Between Customers

If you make it to China, wander around, get off the beaten patch, don’t be afraid to talk to the local people.  Chinese are almost all very friendly and you will learn a lot about the normal daily life.  See all of my pictures from Shipu here and my coastal beach pictures of nearby beautiful Songlanshan here.

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Nerd Venn Diagram

September 7th, 2009 · 8:23 am  →  Culture

This tells me a lot about myself, more so than Myers Briggs. I guess that I’m a Geek.

Posted via web from jeffreyjdavis’s posterous

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The King Is Dead But The Moonwalk Lives Eternally

July 11th, 2009 · 9:53 am  →  Culture

I have a confession, I’ve never been a fan of Michael Jackson.  Although I liked “Rockin’ Robin” as a kid, his music was never really my thing, and MJ just seemed to have a little too much weird baggage in his life.  But even I have to admit, the Moonwalk was pretty cool, and Michael Jackson was a hell of a dancer.

Recently a new site out of Studio Brussel in Belgium has popped up called “The Eternal Moonwalk“.  Its great, and I love it.  Simple, crowd sourced video mashup set to an 4 beat loop of “Billy Jean”.  Great fun way to get a snapshot into the global creativity, lifestyles, living rooms and relative dancing skills of internet users.  It keeps getting better and better as more user moonwalks are submitted.  I challenge you not to spend at least 15 minutes watching it.

The Moonwalk Lives Forever

The Moonwalk Lives Forever

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