I guess you are here because you have discovered one of my books and enjoyed it enough to find out more about the author, me. Either that or you’re a potential employer who is investigating me to see if I would be a good fit for your organization. In which case, surprise, I write books as well as teach. Some might look at that as a bad thing, and if so, please explain to me how.
For whoever finds my site, I want to welcome you, and also allow you the opportunity to follow me on a regular basis. Anybody is welcome as long as you keep your posts appropriate, and respect the other followers to this site. As long as everybody follows those two simple rules, I won’t have to kick anybody off. Let the friendly banter begin.
I am hoping to create an interactive site that everybody can enjoy. Of course, I will keep you up to date on the latest writings coming out of my head, and I will also let you know when and where I will be in the world, so someday you might be able to meet me in person. Most people regret that decision, but who knows, maybe you’ll be in the minority.
I will also tell you about my world-wide travels as this is something I do on a regular basis. I’ll show you pictures from places I have been (this one is from Dubrovnik, better known to fans of The Song of Ice and Fire as King’s Landing), and tell you the exciting stories that happen to me along the way. You are also welcome to ask me any questions you may have about the place I have been, and I will try to answer them in a timely manner.
I know it all sounds amazing, and I can see you wondering why you haven’t been a part of this fantastic experience so far, but let me tell you about the most exciting part of following this site – the interactive part. You were probably wondering when I would get to that part I had promised you earlier. Well, I plan to create a list every month, and I want you to participate in its formation. I do love countdowns, but I am always disappointed in them. So I have decided to take matters into my own hands. You will be able to post your top ten of each monthly list and at the end of each month, I will comprise the total list to give you the countdown for that subject. Look for each new subject on the first day of each month, and the final list of the previous month by the fifteenth.
Otherwise, it is very nice to have you a part of this experience, and I look forward to all of our future posts together.
My wife and I recently moved to Amman, Jordan and took new jobs at one of the international schools in this ancient city. It has been an exciting move, especially after a year of being forced to spend a year in a country and losing one of the aspects of this lifestyle that we enjoy the most, traveling. Though the opening of the world is still moving slowly, the change of scenery has been rejuvenating, and experiencing the change of seasons has been great. I never knew how much I loved this change in my life, and it is wonderful to experience the crisp, cool mornings of autumn again.
Despite all of these advantages, there was one we were really excited about. We had talked with the new school we were moving to, and made sure that they would supply us with a place that we would be able to have a pet in. It meant moving into a smaller apartment than the rest of the people starting with us, but after living the last six years in the big cities of Southeast Asia, we have learned a minimalistic lifestyle and didn’t really want a big place to begin with. It was more important that we ended up in place with a yard, so we could have a dog to share our time with. We were waiting until after we settled in, and our first big break before we talked with the rescue shelters and found the perfect companion for our place, but sometimes life moves quicker than you expect.
Enter into the narrative, a little puppy that was found wandering the streets of Amman as a stray. The city has a few of these running around the empty lots, but from my experience, they are still rare to see. It is not the like the soi dogs that could be found on the streets of Bangkok, but they are still here. Still, it is more common to run into stray cats scurrying throughout the neighborhood rather than a lone puppy looking for a companion.
Anyway, my co-worker had found this puppy running around her neighborhood. She took her in, and her daughter named her Socky for the white paws that she had. Her mom knew that they could not keep her because they already had a dog, and she knew many other people who were looking to adopt a dog. Of course, our name was top of the list. Within five days of them finding Socky, she was at our house running around, pulling shoes out of the closest, and cuddling up to us as we watched television later in the evening.
It was not exactly what I thought would have happened. My thoughts of adopting to a dog went to us finding an older dog that needed to be rescued and giving him or her a great life that they never experienced before. The older dogs are usually a little easier to bring in for the adjustment. You don’t have to house train them, and they don’t take the time that a puppy does. But when a cute little bundle of joy falls into your lap, it is hard to say no to her, so we ended up adopting her.
The first thing we did was change her name to Suji. We couldn’t keep it Socky because too many people thought she was named after the Japanese liquor, and the new name had a nice connection to the neighborhood we lived in Seoul. We also spent time puppy proofing the house, bought a few puppy comforts to make her feel at home, and took her out a regular basis to make sure she understood what it meant to go to the bathroom outside. It was a little bit of work, but it was worth it. She only had one accident in the house, and she was quickly becoming a part of the family. We were experiencing the love that can only come from a brand new puppy.
On the fourth day of being new dogs owners, we came home to find that Suji was exhausted. We did not think about it much because we had hired a dog sitter to come in for an hour a day to let her out and to play with her so she wouldn’t make a mess of the house while we were gone. The main worry we were having was a cough that she was developing and the fact that she wouldn’t eat or drink anything. Once again, we weren’t too worried about it because we had set up a vet appointment the next day so we could take her in to get a quick checkup and talk to them about eventually having her spayed. We could see if it was something serious then.
Well, the next day, we got a text from our dog sitter saying that Suji was running a little bit of a temperature, and she was having trouble walking. She still wasn’t eating or drinking, and our worry grew. This was beginning to look like something more serious than we originally thought. We rushed home after work, and took her to the vet where we were told that she had distemper. This is a disease that many stray dogs contract when they come in contact with wild animals. In older dogs, there is a slim chance of them surviving, but in puppies that chance is reduced significantly, and if they do recover, they will have extreme neurological damage for the rest of their lives. During the last stages of the disease, the brain and the brain stem swell causing loss of motor function, and severe seizures that are extremely painful. After some blood tests, it was shown that Suji was not responding well, and the disease had a great chance of progressing quickly. We had the tough choice to make, and we went with the advice of the vet and let Suji go in the thought that we were helping her overcome what would otherwise be a very painful ordeal that would have ended the same way.
Even though we had just gotten to know this little puppy, it was still an extremely difficult decision to make. It was a painful moment, but I do believe that we had done the right thing, but I don’t want to leave this story making you feel bad. That is not the purpose of this narrative. It is to talk about love, and how sometimes it is a long hug, and at other times it is just a short breath, but either way it is still a powerful emotion and one that I wouldn’t change for any other experience.
Suji’s life was short, and the time that she spent with us was even shorter. I could count the days that she was in our lives on one hand, and though I do not like the way that our relationship ended, I still loved the time we got to spend together. She brought a joy to our house for those five days. The way she smiled and wagged her tail when we got home will never be forgotten. The excitement she showed when I told her she was a good girl for peeing outside made me just as proud of these small accomplishments as she was. The greeting she gave every new person she encountered to spread the love that was inside of her was unforgettable. Those puppy moments where she would love to play and explore followed by those other puppy moments where she just wanted to cuddle were moments I will never forget. She brought love into our house, and I will be forever grateful for her for doing that. She had renewed a part of myself that had been missing for a long time, and I hate the hole she has left behind, but she has let me know that this kind of feeling is still out there waiting to be experienced again.
It might be a little while before we get another dog, but I now know that I need one of these furry friends roaming around my house. I know I will love the next dog just as much as I loved Suji, but I will always be grateful for her to bring this unconditional love back into my life. Even though it was a short love story, any moment that you get to experience love it is important, no matter how little amount of time they may be.
Thank you, Suji, and I hope that you rest in peace.
Very rarely do I talk about the hotels that I stay in while traveling, but that is mainly because, I do not go traveling for the hotel. My main goal while out in the world is to see and experience many different places. I do not believe that this can happen at a hotel because the real adventure is beyond the borders of these places. Of course, this philosophy has been tested during the Covid years. Places that would be out of my price range lowered their prices by quite a bit, and I had a hard time ignoring their attempts for me to stay with them. This was something that happened all the time during my years in Thailand, and I thought I would have to break myself of this habit when I moved to Jordan. I had built up my resolve and was getting ready to face the return to more modest accommodations when the school I have started working for had a raffle and I was the lucky winner of a night’s stay at the Kampinski Hotel at the Dead Sea. I could have run down for a quick night’s stay, but I decided to wait until my first big break, and add a couple of nights to really enjoy the place and what it had to offer. I do have to say that it was worth the extension, and it was nice to get to stay one more night at a resort before I switched over.
The resort is a sprawling complex located on the edge of the Dead Sea with its own little beach at the edge of the water where you can go down to float. There are six different restaurants, five different pools, a gym, a kid’s center, and a spa. The place, like so many other resorts, is designed to cater to your ever need so you will not want to ever leave.
And I will admit that it was hard to defy them in this attempt. The pools are comfortable and there is enough variety among them that you can find the one that is perfect for you, whether you like to hang at the lazy river designed for family fun, a long lap style pool, an infinity pool supplied with its own DJ and party vibe, or one at the bottom of the resort that gives you the best view of the Dead Sea and the land that stretches out on the other side of it.
The food options are also outstanding, but I will admit that, like most resorts, they were a little overpriced. Still the best one was the Lebanese restaurant, Code, that offered authentic Lebanese food. If you do decide to eat here, I do recommend that you make a reservation because it is impossible to get seated otherwise. If you are looking for something a little more affordable, you can find it at the mall a ten minute drive away where they have an English style pub, and an American style sports bar where the drinks and food are not as expensive.
There are also some nice day trips close by as well. There is Wadi Mujib, a biosphere reserve that offers a nice hike, the salt flats with the intricate salt formations, the panorama that offers outstanding views of the whole area, and the baptism sight for Jesus that can add a historic perspective if that is something you might be interested in. If you do decide to leave the resort to go on one of the adventures, I have found the Kampinski Resort is the perfect place to come back to so you can unwind with friendly staff and comfortable accommodations.
There is a certain kind of beauty in Jordan that I did not expect. Once I finally got out of the city and started to explore what the country had to offer, I was shocked to find this vast expanse of desolate isolation that many would consider stark, but it holds something to it that I don’t think you can find anywhere else on earth. I do believe that this is the reason why so many movies make this the location for their filming because it makes the setting a character all its own, and Jordan’s landscape is definitely a character.
The Dead Sea adds so much to this character, and the more I learn about it, the more interesting it becomes. It has been basically retreating over the last century, and it is not near the same levels that it once was at. Much of this is due to the fact that water is taken out of the Jordan River to cultivate agriculture in both Jordan and Israel, and because of this, there is not as much water left for this huge body of water situated so far below sea level. If you look closely, you can see the scars in the rocks that has been left behind because of this retreat which present a new sense of history that I have never considered before.
But on the shore of this location there is another sight that is even more impressive than the scars in the rocks, the collection of the salt on the shores of the sea. The simplest of spices clings to anything that it can find and creates a bizarre grouping of waves that never will move, even if the water laps up against it.
It will take the forgotten branches of trees and turn them into a piece of art that only nature could create. There is a beach on the Dead Sea that is covered with sights like this one, and it makes for one of the most interesting day trips I have ever taken. It was only a fifteen minute drive from the collection of resorts that most people stay at when they come down here, and just a little south past the entrance to Wadi Mujib.
We went down on a Sunday when everybody was back at work, and there were only a couple of other cars there, and only one other couple that we came across while we were exploring the flats. It is easy to miss too, but it was free to go explore, and I am so glad that we did.
Every turn we made gave s a new view of spectacular natural structures that made we want to spend the whole day exploring the beach. I would recommend going down early in the morning because it can get hot during the day, and it does bring out the flies, but it is still fun to explore in this kind of heat.
It just made me fall even more in love with Jordan, and made me realize that this might be one of those hidden gems that not many people know about. I am glad that I have gotten to explore it, and can’t wait to see what other amazing sights I will come across while I am living out here.
For my first trip to explore my new home country, Jordan, I decided on a must do, the Dead Sea. It was not high on my list, and I will be honest with you, I was a little scared about getting in the water. There are numerous stories about people who have dunked their heads under the salty water, or have it squirm its way into somebody’s forgotten cut, and then having to deal with that discomfort for the rest of the day. I have had several mosquito bites that have been healing, and I didn’t not want to literally pour salt into that wound.
But the salty shores are one of those things you have to experience while you are out here, and considering I won a free night at one of the hotels by the Dead Sea through a raffle at my new school, I figured this would be the perfect time to go and check it out.
First, it is quite the descent from the high elevation of Amman. The whole trip down was literally down the mountain from 1000 meters all the way to 400 meters below sea level. My ancient Mitsubishi Lancer did a great job going down, but I am worried if the two cylinder car will be able to make it back up that hill when it is time to go back home. It is something that I can’t worry about right now. Instead, I had to make the most of my time at the lowest point of land on the Earth.
The water has a very high buoyancy level. I have heard about how it is impossible to sink in it because of the level of salt that is found in the water, and there is a lot of truth to that claim. All I had to do was raise my feet off of the floor, and they floated to the top of the water on their own, and I was able to relax as if I was on one of those six feet floaties that people put into pools so they can stay dry and still read their books.
The water wasn’t that bad either. It was really warm, and though my cuts did ache a little bit, it wasn’t the excruciating pain that I thought I would have experienced. There is a little bit of a routine that you are supposed to participate in to make the most out of the experience. First, I hopped into the water to become accustomed to it. When I got out, I quickly rinsed off, and then lathered up with mud that they kept in huge stone vessels on the beach. It is supposed to be good for your skin. Some people covered themselves from head to toe, but I went for a more sparse amount, only covering my limbs and my chest. I then sat down to let the mud dry before getting back in the water and feeling the exfoliating experience that comes with the combination. Though the mud was a little slimy to put on, it was worth the experience because it felt really good when I got back into the water.
It made for a fun day that I won’t soon forget. It is not everyday that you can get slathered up in mud and float in an ocean without any assistance, and feel great out afterwards. I can easily see why it is one of the places that people make sure they visit when they come out to Jordan, and it has gotten me more excited about what adventures I am going be able to encounter.
Freedom can be found along the river. I just need to follow the water north. Across a certain line, they deliver All who may be seeking who have come forth. I know that my man will search for me there, But it is my only form of guidance, And it is within its rushing flow where I can find a road map that gives a chance To a diff’rent life than the one I live. It is a life where I can have a voice, And where all of the options that they give, Allows me the right to make my own choice. It is a journey that may take me years, But it is worth facing all of those fears.
We stand at the edge of our precipice, Shouting our concerns over the canyon. We sit and wait for our message to kiss Ears of those who stand on the other one, But I do not think they are listening Because they are over there making noise About what they believe they are missing, Claiming our ideology destroys. If I could only get my voice louder Maybe they would listen to sound reason, But it looks to make their discourse prouder, Speaking of what can only be treason. I wish they would quit with all their yelling, So they could hear what it is I’m telling.
These are the things I cannot ignore, And even though it is not every day, There comes a time I have to close the door, And battle against the on-coming fray. It will allow me to, one day, emerge, And give you all me remaining time. It is not you I am trying to purge, But rather this piling mountain I climb. Some day, it will also happen to you, And I will try not to create a fuss. It is just something we all have to do. Even though, we hope it may escape us. Welcome to this modern society Where valuable time is what we pay.
Who is telling you that I am a sheep? Do you listen to what he has to say? Does his ideology start to seep Into your “original” thought ev’ryday? Can you tell me that your thoughts are your own When you pick them up from memes on Facebook? Or is your anger just an overblown Reaction to catchy sounding hook? Is it me or his short leash that you fear? How often are the words of your master The repeated ones I actually hear, Claiming I’m the one that is the bastard? You are far from the enlightened people, Just because you repeat the word, sheeple.
How can you look at what is happening, And then run to your alternative facts? You need to wake up from your fake napping, And look at the ways your argument cracks. The heat is not going to disappear Based on what you perceive, wish and hope. There is a right group of people to hear, You left behind to listen to a dope. You may want to crawl out of that pocket, And grow up to be the size of a man; You will see the future and protect it; Instead of grabbing what money you can. Will you continue to live with your greed While watching the land of the nation bleed?
Why do we no longer want to collect When we can find it at our fingertips? Does it allow a level of respect When all we do is scroll through YouTube clips? I prefer to listen to scratchy sound As the needle slips into the small groove, And the motor spins the record around, Providing the room a moment to move. Each song was designed to play to the next, Building up this great epic event. We follow along with liner note text Until the forty-five minutes are spent. This digital age is a bitter pill For us who treasure our stack of vinyl.