Radar dome on top of Madeira
This is the nearly highest point on Madeira. It sports a radar dome.

Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.

You could teleport here from a street in Lisbon and not notice any change. Lisbon on an island. But we spent almost no time at Funchal, the main city and the main port, and instead, we boarded a bus for our package tour, “Scenic Madeira”. After a 45-minute harrowing bus ride over very narrow, very curvy mountain roads, we arrived at Pico do Arieiro, the highest point you can reach by car. The view was exquisitely scenic, but the wind was fierce and icy and more than I could bear — I stayed inside the coffee shop.

On the way back, we stopped at a wine shop to sample some Madeira. Very sweet.

Smallwine glasses

Endless Sea

In April 2022 we took a cruise, a highly privileged cruise. A mental health cruise. Ten choppy days, mostly island hopping, leaving from Lisbon. Then Madeira, three Canary Islands — La Palma, Tenerife, and Lanzarote — Gibraltar, Cadiz (Seville), and finishing at Barcelona.

Endless Sea out my Window
Endless Sea out my window

This is what I see out my window as I type this. The night before last we were in Lisbon, jet-lagged and exhausted.  Now we are roughly halfway to Madeira, and far from land. I slept ’til noon, and woke up groggy. Now, with three cups of coffee, I feel much better.

The internet access on the ship is fair — they block streaming video, but text and stills load OK. Sufficient to work on this blog, at least. I brought a couple of ebooks on WordPress, and I’ve been skimming them. I’ve learned that I’m doing it all wrong. I should pick a topic and stick to it instead of just rambling on with whatever interests me at the moment. That advice rings true — it describes the kind of blogs I follow, anyway. So I guess this blog is doomed to obscurity.

The ship is the venerable RSS Voyager — our fifth cruise on the Voyager. It’s our second cruise since the pandemic. Masks are required unless you are in your stateroom or eating or drinking. Most of what we do outside the stateroom is eating and drinking, so not a burden. Unlike in the yahoo areas in the States, compliance is near 100%, and it was nearly 100% in Lisbon. At lunch, somebody complained that they asked for a glass of water, and it took forever to arrive. White privilege vented at an Asian waitress, a jarring note.

There is a soft slow creaking sound as the ship rocks in the following swell. An almost unnoticed sound of waves and wind, and a quiet hum from the motors. It’s very quiet. Leaning forward with my elbows on the desk and my chin in my hands, I think I should take a nap.

Pacific Rim

Gold and red swirley photo
Happy accident.

Was this deliberate? I don’t remember. Something was moving, and something wasn’t.

Yosemite Valley Dreams

Yosemite Valley Floor
Yosemite Valley Floor

The grain in this grayscale image is an accidental discovery, and it reminds me of pictures shot with Tri-X many years ago.

I used to push Tri-X to ISO 800 or 1600 in my little Olympus OM-1. I liked the grain, and more, I enjoyed the freedom of taking pictures in dim light.

I took this picture a couple of weeks ago — my first visit to the Valley since before the pandemic. It’s winter, and it is a little threadbare and worn. But there are still climbers on El Cap:

Climbers on El Cap

Snow by the Merced:

Snow on the banks of the Merced River
Snow on the banks of the Merced River
Partially frozen lakelet
Running water
Reflections in Mirror Lake
Reflections in Mirror Lake

My wife says sometimes that she would like to be reincarnated as a rock. I’m not sure about the mechanics of that, but here is a nice rock:

Rock in a stream

One could let the fever dreams of twisted humanity flow by; in a few hundred thousand years they will resolve.

Snob Photography

Sometimes I look through the viewfinder, and I am overwhelmed with pure aesthetics. I follow the light where it takes me.  This mood is relatively rare, and the results in retrospect are not always great. In fact, frequently the results are just trite.

But sometimes they aren’t.

I have never understood the contempt some photographers have for digital. I save almost all the photos I’ve ever taken.  Pre-digital photos sit in boxes, slowly fading, but the digital photos look just the same as when I first took them. It is quite possible they could look the same ten thousand years from now.

But honestly, much of the time I take pictures as memos.  Pictures out bus windows, just to remember what I saw.  Pictures of something on an ad, pictures of the wifi password at a hotel. These pictures are useful, rather than beautiful or interesting.

Here’s a picture of the almost dry Li River in China.  A memory:

Li River