Some Like It Cold

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Some Like It Cold

The name of my story is a play on the title of the 1959 movie “Some Like It Hot” with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon (it was recently re-run on public television). You are probably reading this story on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and after consuming enormous amounts of turkey on the previous night. Some enjoy eating cold turkey leftovers the following day, which has led to a number of expressions. For instance, “cold turkey” means a sudden withdrawal from drugs such as alcohol and opioids. There is also Norman Lears 1971 film by the same title, “Cold Turkey” and John Lennon’s song, “Cold Turkey” (1969) about giving up heroin. But why do we quit cold turkey? Here is what I found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Making cold leftover bits of bird into a meal requires very little preparation, which led to the introduction of the phrase “Talk Turkey”, which means to speak blankly with little preparation. There is also the question how the bird eaten on Thanksgiving got the same name as the country — Turkey? You can read online how this happened.

There are other confusing things connected with the Thanksgiving tradition of eating turkey. It became a federal holiday during the American Civil War, when in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our Beneficent Father who dwelth in the Heavens.” Actually, the first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated during the autumn of 1621 by the Pilgrims of Plymouth, who probably did not have turkey in their meal, since Pilgrims came from England and their recipes called for the “wild fowl”, which was more likely meat of ducks and geese. Meanwhile, the holiday is no longer religious, and there are so many things in our lives to express our gratitude As far as food is concerned, online I found many websites that offered vegan and vegetarian alternatives for this holiday. One of them is called “Tofurkey”.

In the October/November 2017 issue of AARP Magazine, I found out that the punk pioneer John Joseph McGowan offers his own way of celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday. He hasn’t eaten meat since 1981, and has competed in nine Ironman Triathlons. The article said that after he goes out with others in New York and feeds the homeless providing up to 1000 meals to those in need, he has his friends gather in his house where he makes citrus stir-fry along with sweet potatoes, broccoli, salad and bread. It’s a meal to celebrate the holidays in a healthy and compassionate way.

P.S. At the time I was writing this story I had only one image of the wild turkeys I photographed in The Sea Ranch to share with you. To get three more images, I had to go out “in the field”. Next to our office is “Sprouts Farmers Market”. There I found an advertising offering “Pick-up your bird” and the rest is gravy!” Do you see any resemblance between the bird called wild turkey and the packaged one (where are the wings)? When I was leaving the store, I picked up another advertisement for the deals of the month. There was an image of a “turkey” with the offer “Satisfaction GUARANTEED. If you don’t like it, bring it back”. It turns out, some might not like cold turkey. To get the missing fourth image I decided to visit Costco. There in a refrigerated container I found of huge white bags selling for 99 cents per pound. Next to them I encountered many new “Pilgrims” – immigrants from different countries who came to the stores of America to have a uniquely American experience – a slice of cold turkey.

I am using this opportunity to express my gratitude to you.

Enjoy Thanksgiving weekend with the turkey or without it. And share it with a friend.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

Where Do Norwegians Come From?

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Where Do Norwegians Come From?

My trips to other countries are not only about visits to tourist attraction sites, but they are also about exploring the country and understanding its people and history. Visiting Oslo, the capital of Norway, was the last leg of our Scandinavian journey. The history of the city goes back to 1040. For almost one thousand years, Oslo was part of Denmark, and was called Christiania (or Kristiania). Then, it was a part of Sweden until 1905. Today, thanks partially to the oil riches, Oslo was ranked number one in quality of life among European large cities. It has a population of about 660,000 and according to some surveys; it is the second most expensive city in the world for living expenses after Tokyo. At the same time, in 2015 the EU report found that Oslo is a city that for many years has topped the heroin overdose ranking. Online I learned that statistically, Norway’s immigrant population makes up to 16.8% of the country’s total population and is growing faster than native Norwegians. The five largest immigrant groups in Norway are Polish, Lithuanian, Swedish, Somali and Pakistani. The rest are Iraqi, Sri Lankan, Moroccan and others. An American friend of mine who currently lives and works in Norway and whose skin is dark in color (his mother was from the Maasai tribe in Kenya), told me that Norwegians are polite but can be xenophobic. Having researched the origin of Norwegians, it turns out that like most of the Scandinavians, they are descendants of the Northern European people called Vikings, who were pirates. During the 8th and 11th centuries these Norse seafarers raided and traded from what is now Scandinavia, and established states and settlements in England, Scotland, Iceland, Wales, the Foral Islands, Finland, Iceland, Russia, Greenland, France, Belgium, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Germany, Poland, Southern Italy and even Canada.

I suspect that a genetic test will show that we are all cousins and are somehow related to each other. We do not speak the Norse language, but today regardless of where we came from, many speak in English, which was a West German language that was first spoken in early medieval England and is now a global lingua franca.

Throughout human history, people were constantly on the move. Settling in new lands, intermarrying with the local population, improving the genetic pool and creating new customs and beliefs.

P.S. One of the latest concerns in many European countries is the growth of the number of refugees from Muslim countries.

I believe that what today is perceived as an Islamic threat, will end after a few generations, and definitely after one thousand years; meanwhile, here are four images showing Muslim women I encountered in Oslo with head covering of different styles and colors.

Enjoy and share with a friend.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

How Long to Stay in Bergen

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How Long to Stay in Bergen

The last stop on our cruise along the Norwegian Fjords was to the second largest city in Norway – Bergen. We decided to stay there for three days, after the cruise. It is a picturesque city with a population of about 280,000 people. Our hotel, a converted stock exchange building, was located in the heart of the city. From one window we saw the harbor and the fish market, from another, was the square with a bronze statue of Ludwig Holberg wearing a wide hat (how many people today know who he was?), which serves as the resting place for the local seagulls (I think Bergen has more of them than pigeons).

Bergen is an old port town, where trading started as early as 1020. Today the main trade comes from tourists from all over the world, primarily from Germany and England. For the Americans to feel not too far from home, there is a 7-Eleven on the Main Square with a McDonald’s and Starbucks around the corner. I will not bore you with the details of Bergen’s 1000 years of history. Instead, I will share with you why we stayed here for three days. While in Norway every employee has five (5!) weeks of paid vacation, it is a luxury for many of Americans, who when traveling abroad, try to visit as many places as transportation will take them on a shorter trip. When I travel, I prefer to explore the area leisurely, connect with the locals, visit streets away from the tourist traps, to visit museums and book stores.

Bergen is surrounded by water, and there is also a beautiful lake and a huge park at the top of a mountain, which tourists can reach by walking or taking a funicular. From Bergen you can also take a boat to see the Fjords. We were lucky with the weather, it was similar to summer weather in San Francisco; while in June (before our arrival) it rained nonstop in Bergen for twenty days. It seemed that everyone there spoke English. We felt that a three-day stay was enough for us. The next and final destination of our trip was Stockholm. You will read about it next week.

P.S. After taking photos with my two cameras on our visit to Bergen, I had difficulty to choose four images to share with you. I decided to focus on some of the encounters we had along the way. While we strive to go abroad for “special” encounters, you can have many of them at home, here in San Francisco. You can see many of my encounters in my book,“42 Encounters in San Francisco”. This book can serve as an excellent gift for anyone you want to thank on this Thanksgiving holiday or even by sharing it during your family holiday gathering.

Enjoy and Share.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

Why People Like to Travel Abroad

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Why People Like to Travel Abroad

The question why people are willing to subject themselves to the rigors of foreign travel, came to me during a very brisk walk to see a famous cathedral in one of the cities we visited, whose name I do not even remember, on our journey through the Norwegian fjords. Our ship stopped in this town for two hours, during which we had to fulfill every tourist’s duty: to find a local attraction, to take an obligatory picture and to run to another “very important point of interest”. From there we would rush back, since my wife heard a story about a woman who was late and her ship sailed without her. Though I had very limited time to take yet another picture, I managed to photograph a column with a statue of some important dude on top of it. I snapped a closer photo of the statue, so I could later look back to see that the statue was of Olav Trygverson. In Wikipedia I learned that Mr. Trygvason (a slightly different spelling) was king of Norway from 995 to 1000, and according to later sagas, the great grandson of Harold Fairhair, the first king of Norway. In the image background you can see the spire of the famous cathedral, but what you do not see in the photo (but I have images as a proof), is a McDonald’s restaurant on the left, a Burger King on the right, and a 7-Eleven on the other corner.

Why do we travel so many miles, spend a lot of money, do not sleep on the plane, suffer from jet lag for days, sleep in a tiny cabin, suffer from muscle pain from a lot of walking, and eat too much food? Just to take too many photos of yet another sunset or someone’s statue? Of course each travel experience is different. My wife talked about taking another trip to Norway where we could explore the islands and drive leisurely using a ferry from one picturesque fishing village to another (Many Norwegians do not have to catch fish any more to make a living and have converted their cottages into B & B’s). On the board of our ship we met tourists from Poland, France, Sweden, Tasmania (Australia), Italy, Wales and many from Germany. Personally, I found it slightly ironic that Germans would visit and spend their money in Norway, after their parents and grandparents were occupying forces, which along with the Soviet Army created a huge amount of damage to this beautiful country. When I told my new friend from Wales that I am going to write a story about this and asked him rhetorically, “Why do people travel?” His response was, “To meet interesting people” and then immediately added; “I did not have you in mind.” Oh well. At least he agreed to be part of one of my next photo-story projects “42 Encounters with 50+ couples”.

Stay tuned.

P.S. I decided to include mixed images for this story. The statue of Olav is located in the center of Trondheim (I encourage you to read the fascinating story of his life and the interplay in geography and politics). Over one thousand years ago, Nidaros Cathedral, which was built over the burial site of Saint Olav from 1070 to 1300, and has a remarkable history. The man I met on the street of the same city called himself a pilgrim who walked to Trondheim from Oslo (somehow he had to cross water). And the last two images are of a nice fellow traveler. Perhaps there are good reasons to travel, after all; to meet interesting people, to photograph them and to share their images with you.

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature

What is the Arctic Circle?

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What is the Arctic Circle?

This is a third story about our journey through the Norway Fijords. If you’ve never heard about the Arctic Circle, you are not alone, as neither had I. Our ship just passed the latitude 66°32’ N, known as the Arctic Circle, which is an imaginary line drawn around the northern part of the world. This is the point at which the Sun appears above the level of the horizon on the winter solstice. The Antarctic Circle which has the altitude 66°32’ S and the Arctic Circle both create the Polar Circle. Crossing the line took maybe a minute, but there are traditions connected with this momentous event, which take much longer. In one of them, a person dresses in a God of Neptune costume, and pours ice-cold water on someone’s back (we were told that this was done on the trip in the opposite direction).

Our experience was not so dramatic. On the upper deck, the Captain and the first officer poured out a bottled drink called Moller’s Tran into a special spoon, which we could keep as a souvenir. Tasting the drink brought me back to my childhood memories, when my mom forced me to drink fish oil (this is what Moller’s Tran is). It is not pleasant in taste, but is supposed to be very good for your health (nowadays I take four capsules of Cod Oil a day, instead). The oil came from salmon, which Norway is known for. We were told that the Norwegian salmon you buy in the store is farm raised. Three years after the hatching it is ready to be shipped on ice to Poland or Latvia, where it is processed. Turns out, this is a cheaper and more effective way to get fish to other countries. After the Pope endorsed Norwegian salmon for the Friday Night Dinner it became a huge demand for the famous brand in Italy.

During the cruise, we tried different kinds of local fish with our meals. Food was plentiful and everything was very delicious. I had dessert three times a day (In San Francisco I rarely have any). Sitting in the dining-room looking around, listening to people who speak various languages and live in many different countries, I wondered what it takes to connect and bridge the gap between people. One answer could be – good food. There is only one problem with this idea. After having too much of good food, buffet style, I could not close my pants. My resolution is to bring my weight back to 175lb. Will keep you posted.

P.S. As crossers of the Arctic Circle, we received an official certificate, which I can frame next to my other diplomas. Besides, I have at least three witnesses, who for some reason made funny faces when it happened (perhaps the taste of the Moller’s Tran was to blame for that).

Enjoy and Share

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Cheers,

Manny<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Signature