Saturday, December 16, 2017

Scenes from Tonga

Photo by Patrick Jones. Tonga, 5 Dec 2017.
Earlier in the month I was in the Kingdom of Tonga for technical conference and discussions with community participants. The photos on this post were from that trip. Above is a sand and rock pier that juts out into the ocean in front of the hotel where we were staying. Families and children used this as a swimming point at high tide, even though nearby signs said "danger, no swimming."
Photo by Patrick Jones. On the International Dateline. 4 Dec 2017.

Photo by Patrick Jones. Map of Tonga. 3 Dec 2017.
Tonga sits to the east of Fiji, in the South Pacific, straddling the International Dateline. The main island in the group, Tongatapu, is fairly flat and has about 100,000 people. Our conference was in the capital, Nuku'alofa.

Photo by Patrick Jones. Ha'amonga 'a Maui monument.
The stones above were constructed in 1200 CE by the 11th King of Tonga. The stones weigh about 30-40 tons each. Surveyors have determined that the stones match up with the rising sun on the longest and shortest days of the year.
Photo by Patrick Jones. A rare 3-headed palm tree.

Monday, December 11, 2017

In action

Photo by Patrick Jones. Georgetown Basketball, 9 Dec 2017.
On Saturday we had great seats at the Georgetown v North Carolina A&T college basketball game, sitting a few rows up from the baseline behind the basket. I was able to get a cool action shot of star player Jesse Govan shooting a free throw (with ball in mid-air, and he made the shot). The photo also captures new Coach Patrick Ewing on the sideline.

Georgetown is now 8-0 to start the season. They also have not yet faced a challenging foe, but next week's game against rival Syracuse will provide that test. This was our 3rd game of the season to see live, and we'll probably catch another over winter break. The games are fun, and tickets are cheap compared to other sporting events in DC. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Not a movie, very real and dangerous

Original via Twitter, 405 on 6 Dec 2017.
Continuing from my earlier post on LA, the photo above captures the horrific drive along the 405 from Wednesday, showing the Skirball Fire as it spread. The LA Times has a current view of the fires in Southern California. My thoughts go out to all those impacted in the area, and I hope for a quick end to these fires. The United Way of Southern California has a Southern California Wildfire Fund, and Ready Ventura County has set up a process to collect donations for people impacted by the Thomas Fire.
Source: LA Times on Twitter. 8 Dec 2017.

Turning a chapter

Photo by Patrick Jones. Sunset at Santa Monica, 6 December 2017.
On Wednesday I arrived back in Los Angeles after flying across the International Dateline from Tonga and Fiji. I landed to the scenes of multiple brushfires in the hills surrounding LA, with some of the worst air quality I can remember in the city. It was a sad sight. Photos of the fires in the Sepulveda Pass near the Getty Museum & along the 405 looked to be straight out of a movie. Earlier in the week I had planned on visiting the Getty after my arrival, but those plans were changed and the museum was closed, along with other mandatory evacuations in the area. The smoke and haze can be seen in my photo below from Wednesday.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Smoke & haze from the Thomas Fire.
Prior to my trip to the Pacific, we had closed on the sale of our condo in Santa Monica. This meant the end of a chapter in our life as property owners in California. We had needed to sell the place for years, but with good tenants living there we held onto the condo. While this development is mostly a very good thing, it is still a little sad to see our immediate ties to the state end. California has become an adopted home, my West Coast home. The sale of the condo does not end these feelings, and I will continue to travel back to LA for work on a regular basis.

In many ways, this change is not much different from others in my family history who have lived in California temporarily, from my 5th-great-grandfather Francisco Suastegui in 1835 to my parents in the late 1960s. California will always feel like home.
Photo by Patrick Jones. Above LA, 7 Dec 2017.
Now that I am back, I will catch up on blog posts missed during travels in November.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

In the South Pacific

I am currently in the Kingdom of Tonga, speaking at a technical conference starting on Monday. The country effectively shuts down on Sunday so we arrived Saturday afternoon from Fiji. Below is a photo taken from the schooner Whales Tale on Thursday, sailing to a small island in the Mamanucas off Fiji's western coast.
Photo by Patrick L. Jones. Sailing to a small island off Fiji. 30 Nov 2017.
Blogging has been really slow in November and so far in December. Between work and the sale of our place in LA, this outlet has taken a backseat lately. Things move much slower here in the islands but it has been an excellent experience so far. The people in Fiji are wonderful and I can't recommend the country enough. I'll be enjoying Tongan culture today.

I plan to catch up on the blogging and family history research once I'm back in the US. It looks like winter will be greeting my return, so I will enjoy the Pacific while I am here.