Posted on May 19, 2019
The circular-shaped church at the village of Mosta in Malta has an interesting history. Its design was/is based on the Pantheon in Rome, and the church was built over an existing older parish church which was later demolished. The Church is also referred to as The Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady or The Rotunda of Mosta or The Mosta Dome.
The most famous incident in the church’s history, a miracle according to the Maltese, happened on 09 April 1942. Read More
Posted on November 15, 2019
Been a while since MB wrote about anything other than cheery weekend thoughts and photo challenges. Day-1 of the Middle East weekend is now upon MB and he is sipping coffee in a Doha coffee shop, having just wolfed back a warm chocolate tart. All, generally speaking, is good with the world. A short trip to the UK is imminent (of which more anon), and two weeks back home for Christmas break is eagerly awaited.
MB has been following the US Democratic Party primaries in recent weeks, watching lots of it on YouTube, and actually mentioned one of the candidates in a HX blog post of mid-September, related to Artificial Intelligence. As MB followers of old would expect, same candidate went from zero to hero in the following weeks and managed to raise USD 10M in a month. In the last week alone he has raised over USD 1M. So it seems that when MB gives a should-out, miracles are possible!
MB just watched a YouTube video of the same candidate, which is approx 1 hour long, but extremely engrossing. If there is a smarter guy running for the White House who understands the issues of the day, and how they might be solved, MB is unaware. MB will go a step further, and state – there is not (unless MB enters the race!). This guy is the real deal, and MB (again) wishes him well.
Back in the Middle East, there is much bubble, bubble, toil & trouble. MB has many Lebanese friends who are stressed out to a man and a woman at present. Past political mistakes have allowed rampant corruption and now chickens are coming home to roost. The people, regardless of their religious affiliations, which in the past might have kept them in check, are protesting at their poverty, lack of opportunity, and more recently at the failure of banks to allow full access to people’s own funds and to introduce ‘rationing’ of cash. The corrupt politicians are making matters worse every time they open their corrupt mouths and are pouring fuel on the fire. Recent days have seen matters regress further and most are fearful for their futures.
A similar story is unfolding in Iraq with the population protesting violently for the same reasons. However, the Iraqi army are far more trigger-happy than the Lebanese, and hundreds of protesters are dead.
Related to the above stories, and never written of previously by MB he thinks, is a very prevalent theory amongst Arab nationals. When things are going badly, one will hear many of one’s Arab friends blame “outside forces” who “control” their region (USA, Israel, the West generally). This ‘theory’ is obviously the easy option, so it’s grabbed with both hands by the locals. When you ‘know’ that ‘outside forces’ are in ‘control’ then you never have to look in the mirror and ask yourself any serious questions. In no other location that MB has ever traveled to has he heard locals so vocally blame others for their own troubles and mistakes. The coincidence of people’s protests in Iraq and Lebanon at corruption and poor governance in recent weeks was evidenced by an Arab friend to MB last week as yet further proof of “outside forces” pulling the strings and “controlling” the region. Strooth!
So dear followers have a good weekend.
Regards from MB.
Posted on November 10, 2019
Posted on November 8, 2019
Climb a tree!
In August 2014 MB found himself in Sudan, compliments of a wedding invitation he received from a young Sudani friend. MB took the opportunity to do a bit of exploring. Sudani friends organised for MB to visit an area called Soba with his camera, just outside the capital city, Khartoum.
It was the middle of the day when MB arrived with his Sudani friends. Most of the Soba male inhabitants were missing, having travelled to the city in early-morning to sell vegetables or bottled water in markets and street corners.
By Westerns (or many other) standards, Soba is extremely poor, with the inhabitants living a subsistence-level lifestyle. The houses people live in are not far removed from the houses their sheep and goats live in. But regardless of the relative poverty, most inhabitants that MB encountered had a smile on their faces, especially the children.
MB caught the kids in his below pic at their favourite tree.
So this weekend, MB suggests that you go climb a tree, if you can.
And be damn grateful for the hand of cards that life has dealt you.
Posted on November 1, 2019
But who’s watching who?
Posted on October 27, 2019
Thanks to Tina for this week’s Double challenge.
MB caught these two doing steward duty at the Redbull Soapbox Race he recently attended in Amman, Jordan. Wonder what they are seeing?!
Posted on October 23, 2019
Thanks to Amy for this week’s layered challenge.
MB’s It’s the Weekend post of a few days back featured a shot of an old train that MB took some years back in Sri Lanka; 2013 to be exact. MB was on an overnight train journey from capital city Colombo to a hilltop village called Haputale in search of Lipton’s Seat; the seat that owner and founder Sir Thomas Lipton had installed at the top of the highest peak on his Lipton’s Tea Plantation, where he would come of an evening to relax and reflect on life and tea-growing. MB managed to find the seat and sat in it and gazed for a long time out over the hills and tea plants that stretched as far as the eye could see one beautiful Sri Lankan August evening. The icing-on-the-cake was drinking top quality Orange Pekoe black Sri Lankan tea from the little tea hut that lies close to the seat, for the benefit of travelers who make the journey. MB wrote a post about that trip to Haputale entitled Time for Tea if followers care to read.
MB had paid some extra shekels for a sleeper carriage on the overnight trip to Haputale, the journey being some ten hours or more. However, the term ‘sleeper carriage’ seems to have a different meaning in Sri Lanka than elsewhere; a wafer-thin foam mattress of no more than 3 or 4cm not affording much sleeper softness from the bone-hard plywood underneath. So upon sight of some sunlight in the very early morning hours, a very tired MB alighted from his bed-coffin, not having had a wink of sleep since boarding the train many hours previously, and meandered out to the train corridor to view the surrounding countryside from the corridor window.
And what a multi-layered early-morning sight to behold:
Time for Tea – next to Lipton’s Seat some 30 to 40 minutes drive by Tuktuk from Haputale:
Posted on October 19, 2019
Take a train ride!
Posted on October 10, 2019
Get those bicycles out!
Posted on October 6, 2019
Thanks to Patti for this week’s Filling the Frame challenge.
You may have thought that there is no alcohol production in the Middle East. But if you did, you’re wrong!
MB was in Jordan a few weeks back, primarily to attend the wedding of a work colleague. Whilst the wedding was a ‘dry’ wedding, involving as it did two Muslim families, beer and alcohol generally are freely available in Jordan. On the day after the wedding, MB killed some time with a local friend visiting two great pubs. Both sold a Jordanian brewed craft beer called Carakale, after the local brewery that makes it.
And a damned fine tipple it is.
To check out the Carkale brewery, click HERE.
Posted on October 3, 2019
How about a dance?
Posted on October 1, 2019
MB opines that being Cuban is about as close as it gets to being Irish! Read More
Posted on September 27, 2019
On the day after the Amman wedding (the subject of MBs previous post), MB met up with a young Jordanian friend who also happened to live in Amman. As good fortune would have it, MB’s young friend and some pals were taking part in a Red Bull-sponsored Soapbox Cart Race on a sloping street in a supurb of the city not too far from MBs hotel. Read More
Posted on September 24, 2019
Jordan’s more correct name, since 1946, is ‘The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan’. It is so-called because of the ruling Hashemite family, who have governed the country since 1921. The Hashemites trace their ancestry back to the founding of Islam and are called after Hashim, the great grandfather of the Prophet Mohammed. Read More
Posted on September 15, 2019
“I love the smell of books in the morning” – MB
“Apocalypse (Greek: Ἀποκάλυψις, apokalypsis, literally: the lifting of the veil) is a term applied to the disclosure to certain privileged persons of something hidden from the mass of humankind. In English, the word apocalypse now commonly refers to the end of the world.”
Algorithm – “a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.” Read More