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Secret #28


Sometimes being alone is the worst feeling in the world. and the summer is no help. maybe once every 2 weeks i'll actually do something with someone. mostly on the weekends when i hang out with my one friend from high school that lives in PGH. but sometimes i get lucky and then it always seems that i have too many plans.

it all kinda started when my best friend transferred out of Cal. we did everything together but because of a job offer he moved back home.

this is all kinda hard to put into words...

im sure some of you might understand.

sometimes i just want someone.

310/365 Work with textures


I took the original image on October 31st/2009 @ Palm Beach Zoo

West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.

Nikon D5000


It was fun to see that decadent image and you find inside the most clean and confortable restroom.




Reflections: Bathroom etiquette

by EJ Young


Ms. Manners may not have written the official version of urinal etiquette, but the need for such a publication exists. It is an excellent idea to stay informed on the latest trends in proper procedures regarding all types of toilet use. Whether in the workplace, in a public restroom and or at a friend's home, there will be times when a person must make hard decisions about acceptable etiquette practices. The gender of the toilet user also matters when establishing such rules of conduct.


Urinal Etiquette Rule #1 (applies to the function of going #1 or #2) in a multiple unit facility


1. No talking rule.


No talking once a person is inside the door of the stall. Absolutely no talking once the occupant has taken a seat. Talking at this delicate time tends to feel awkward and may impede the primary objective.


There is no flexibility of this rule for males. Males should efficiently stroll into the facility, continue to the urinal or stall (depending on type of elimination planned) complete the task, flush, wash hands and leave. Quickly. Attempts at conversations tend to make some males suspicious of others or paranoid as to the intent. A slight nod of the head or a type of a grunt/one-syllable unrecognizable greeting is okay (no eye contact allowed).


For females, however, it is acceptable to carry on superficial girl talk at the sink area when one is washing hands, primping hair and/or reapplying make-up. In the case of etiquette and equity regarding toilet rules, the rules are different due to the fact that males and females perform toilet functions in different ways. Therefore, a double standard does not exist.


Extra tip: The no talking rule also applies to cell phone use. It is considered in extremely poor taste for a person to talk on a cell phone while on the toilet. Texting, of course, is okay. The user is then presented with other potential problems.


2. Leave no trace.


In the event the toilet bowl becomes too full or the odiferous impact is above the norm, a courtesy flush is considered good manners. If a person's release of fluids travels beyond the the bowl, that person is responsible for maintenance. Each user should return the toilet to the same stage of cleanliness as it was prior to usage. When a fan is nonexistent, multiple flushes serve as a partial solution. One might also consider carrying a travel size deodorizer. Some brands of such sprays add the bonus of an anti-bacterial feature which is convenient if clean-up requires considerable scrubbing.


Regarding excessive noise levels, once again, the multi-flush will aid in muffling some sounds. Rolling the paper dispenser, coughing loudly, fake sneezing, blowing one's nose or such cover-ups may prove effective. Of course, a more direct approach of simply stating, "Excuse me," or "Sorry about that," or "I'll never drink hot sauce again," or even a simple warning of "Get out of the room if you have a weak stomach," if stated in a factual tone, would be preferred to the alternative of raised eyebrows, watery eyes or the occasional vomit.


Lastly, if one cannot get the contents of the commode to flush, that person is responsible for reporting malfunction to the proper authorities. That same person also needs to supply an "out of order" sign to post on the door of the non-flushing unit. It is considered common courtesy to leave a note of brief explanation of the entry to the restroom area as well. Then, one may choose whether he/she must opt to contend with the given circumstances or if it is possible to find another facility or wait until one gets home.


3. General Toilet Etiquette regarding a private home


Guests should make sure to use the fan as well as spray provided by the host. One should always wash hands thoroughly with soap. Caution: Peruse the area prior to use. Is there a towel laid out for guests? Under no circumstances is it considered proper to take part in hand-me-down towel use. If the host or hostess has apparently initiated a towel (smell, feel, look) it is not your choice to rub or pat your wet hands on that towel. If there is not a towel available, you will need to choose between toilet paper or a dispensable article of your own apparel. Maybe your outfit would be more stylish with a no socks look with those loafers. Maybe the party isn't formal and no one would notice if your tie went missing.


Guests should also know exactly what personal hygiene items are available for guest use and what products are exclusively for use by the owners. For example, you may notice your favorite shampoo brand or bubble bath with a thick towel folded beside the soaking tub. That is not necessarily a personal invitation for you to bathe while using the powder room at your boss' office party. If a perfume brand you've been longing to try stares back at you from inside the medicine cabinet, it probably belongs to the hostess.


Important tip: It is not okay to 'borrow' prescription drugs even if you've had a doctor's order for a similar drug. You should always ask the host permission before borrowing any item.


Obviously, this advice only skims the proverbial surface of etiquette in excreting human waste. Future articles will examine these complex questions: Should you tell a woman her skirt is tucked into her underwear or is she doing it on purpose? Should your boss wait in line for the next available toilet like everyone else or does he/she have toilet privileges? In addition, never before released facts about the ever-curious phenomenon of group toileting for females. The world will finally know the reason why females cannot travel to the lavoratory without a female companion.



Textures with my gratitude to SkeletalMess: Bore2Death Thank you very much Jerry!!


all the way back here where did the time go

Saw my mentor today, for at least a few minutes and went over photoshop shananigans with the office manager and that about sums it up and the rain has been fabulous.

I'm planning on doing selfies at my neighbors sometime this weekend, because it is like vintage heaven.


On an unexpected trip to Jackson and West Tennessee, I was able to stop by and take a few photos around town. This is the NC & StL/Jackson, TN Train Depot and Railroad Museum located on South Royal Street.


The Tennessee Midland Railroad Depot open its doors for the east to west trackage in Jackson on June 1888. The Tennessee Midland Railroad was purchased by the L & N Railroad in 1898. The L & N also gained controlling interest of the N.C. & St.L. Railway through a stock buy out. They combined the two railroads and released it back to the N.C. & St.L.Railway for 99 years and operated it as a separate company. The Tennessee Midland depot was used until 1906 when it was moved 200 yards east of its location, to be used as a general freight office. The present depot was built across the street by the N.C. & St.L. Railway in 1906-07, with the freight office and warehouse on the east side of the new depot. Mayor Hu Anderson welcomed dignitaries to the new structure with a grand opening. In the late 1800'S and early 1900's depots were like community centers, people set around and socialize. The depot had many surrounding attractions including Landcaster Park which its waters was famous for its “healing powers”. Other interest were a zoo, ballpark, swimming hole, lakes and Johnny's popcorn. Two circuses, Ringling Brothers, Haggenback and Wallace, and a carnival, the Royal American show unloaded here and presented their show. The depot was just a fun place to hang out to see who came in and left on the many trains each day. The other railroads in town went north to south, while the N.C. & St.L. went east and west from Memphis to Nashville, Chattanooga, Atlanta. From Atlanta the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad would take you to your Florida vacation. The N.C.& St.L. Railway played a big part in the nations railroads. This was the only railroad that made money during the depression. They had a passenger train named after the the city of Jackson called the Jackson Bell. It ran from Jackson to Memphis in 3 hours and 15 minutes. In the 1940's they put on a train called the City of Memphis that made the round trip from Memphis to Nashville in record time, it averaged 47mph. Most of the men from this area leaving for WWII hopped the train from this depot. 100's of folks came down to send them off with big celebration.


In the 1950's the N.C. & St.L Railway was the first in the nation to have total centralized block system control. This along with declining passenger service and the need for tighter control of finances forced the L.&N. Railroad to consolidate the two roads in 1957. In 1958, the N.C. & St.L.Railway (name) stopped in Jackson for the last time. The L.&N. Railroad continued to run the route until 1967 although the last few years it was just a night train. The N.C. & St.L.. Depot was used as a Trails Ways Bus terminal until the Mid 70's and then the doors closed. Due to the efforts of a few rail fans in Jackson, the City of Jackson purchased the depot in 1994. It is the only depot left in Jackson, a town who's heritage is deep rooted with the railroad industry. Today the depot remains in close to original

condition and houses a museum of local railroad history.


Three bracketed photos were taken and combined with Photomatix to create this HDR image. Additional adjustments were made in Photoshop CS5.


"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11

Needing to get out of the office for a little break, I grabbed my camera and took a little drive around town looking for something to photograph. I decided to head to a section of Dixie Avenue in Cookeville where there are several great old homes that have been well taken care of or renovated. Driving along, this one caught my eye with all the trees decked out in fall colors and leaves all over the front yard. The house is in excellent condition and just looks like it was meant to photographed in this situation.


Three bracketed photos were taken and combined with Photomatix to create this HDR image. Additional adjustments were made in Photoshop CS5.


"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11

I feel like i have a million things on my plate this week! it starts to make me paranoid and OCD about everything I do. I had a package in the mail for me that I was excited to get, but they were holding it hostage! I had to go to the office and get it. Bad news is I have to go back in tomorrow to mail something, one of my pieces on etsy sold from my exhibiton! And then something for dad. Hope you all have plans to get something good for daddy! I miss mine. I'm also so thankful I'm going home in two weeks. Time to relax from 365 (halllllllelujah) and go on vacation!


i lit 50 tea lights total.


Have a great week :]

June 13 165/366


I had to squeeze in my other planned picture that included these glasses before I have to return them to their owner... they are classically Milton Waddams.


I know the title isn't a line from Milton, but you get the point ;) Maybe.

My roommate moved out today.


It was almost a disaster from the beginning; he had promised to help out with things and do some chores around the house, but within two weeks he stopped doing ANYTHING. He berated me for not cleaning stuff but then he never cleaned anything, either, often leaving me to clean up the kitchen after him. He criticized how I had the house set up, and he had Big Plans to work on the backyard and did NOTHING.


He had shown affection for Pepita and even walked her a couple of times before he moved in; afterward he forced her off of chairs with glares and intimidation when he wanted to sit down, and she began to be afraid of him and would come over to me whenever he came home- and of course he never offered to walk her again.


Practically the first night he moved in he invited a new boyfriend for dinner, and started entertaining without really even asking my permission. He did not want to pay for the utilities to use the family room or the cable (he wanted to only pay a percentage for the square footage of the space he actually occupied i.e. the bathroom and the bedroom), but he and this boyfriend (and then another one after him) ended up watching MY DVDs in my family room. I did not really care, but I would have liked to be asked or at least informed when these things were going to happen.


But the worst was: he barely spoke. Not a “good morning” or a “hi” when he saw me. Not a word as to where he might be going or when he might be expected back. The only time he spoke was to berate or criticize or be condescending. Even today, as he moved out, he did not tell me when he was leaving for good. He just left the keys in the entry hall and left without a word, though I was seated at my desk not five feet away. I still cannot understand that rudeness, because I am not a mean or hard person to deal with.


The final straw came when I got home from my New Year’s trip and the kitchen sink was backed up. No apology and he had to be forced to go get some cleaner to work on the drain. He was sure it was MY fault and a “pre-existing condition.” Nothing was ever his fault or caused by him. I had had it by then, and told him to leave ASAP. The sink stoppage wasn’t “pre-existing” but there was another clog in the sewer line (and it was “pre-existing,” but with lesser use in his bathroom it hadn’t mattered before) that ran from his part of the house to the main line; it cost me $1200 to put in an outlet so that that line could be rootered. Nearly half of the rental money he had given me went to repairs!!


I should have known when he demanded that I move my office into the guest room I had intended as the tenant’s room, since it was adjacent to the bathroom. He wanted my office room, and I dutifully moved everything out in October and stored all of my books in the garage. What a mistake!!


But now it’s mine again, the pall has been lifted around here, and he is gone from my life for good. What an obnoxious, immature man. Sigh.. Well, I can start over with someone else but on MY terms, with a list of rules and expectations!!!!! YAY!!!!

42/ 365Wicked


Wicked A** View


I thought of this concept while at the office this morning. Twas a do or die kind of photo, coz if it didn't work out I don't have a backup plan.. haha.. glad it did! This was taken by my girlfriend, took us just three shots, just to adjust the light and pose. :)


Thanks so much friends!!


Strobist Info:

SB800 with snoot @ camera right


Props: Pink plastic knife and small rusty neon green scissors.

can't get any more wicked than that!


*find out what happens next in the following days! :)


YEEESSSSS!! I have made it through the first month and am still up-to-date on my 365 Project!! At lunch today (mainly to just get out of the office), I went out driving and found this nice stretch of railroad tracks with a beautiful blue sky in the background. I just love these kind of shots with the tracks fading into the distance...


Three bracketed photos were taken and combined with Photomatix to create this HDR image. Additional adjustments were made in Photoshop CS5


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11.

These are two images which didn't make my 365 this week. I sat down to watch a YouTube tutorial on double exposure creation, then remembered I knew how to do it- easy!

It's so cold and wet out, I was planning to go to the park, but might just stay home instead.


The Hotel Arts Barcelona


Powered by the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company


- Height // architectural: 154 m


- Floors // above ground: 44


- Construction type: skyscraper


- Structural material: steel


- Facade material: aluminium, steel


- Facade system: curtain wall, exposed structure


- Facade color: blue, white


- Architectural style: structural expressionism


- Main usage: Luxury Hotel, often voted one of the best in the world


- Side usage: Fine Dinning Restaurants, Casino, Bars, shops, Spa, Fitness Center




- The building seems to appears from the under the ground level, where there is a pool.


- There are 482 rooms with panoramic views of the sea and the city.


- There are 365 bedrooms with king or twin beds,44 Executive Suites,32 Deluxe rooms 12 Executive Suites on The Club, 27 duplex luxury Apartments with one, two or three bedrooms.


- All guest rooms have marble bathrooms, compact disc player, mini-bar and fax/pc connections, satellite television and video.


- The Apartments are between 34 and 44 level.


- The Royal Bedroom has an area of 350 m².


- There is a Club in the 33rd floor with special concierge team.


- The new Ford Fiesta ad was set in the building reception.


- The building was built as part of the urban transformation plan to create a modern village for the 1992 Olympic Games, and a new skyline for the waterfront district of Barcelona.


- The architect from the office Skidmore, Owings And Merrill LLP who designed the building was Bruce Graham.


- Proclamed as the third Best Hotel in the world by the tourism and holiday magazine Condé Nast Traveler in October, 2003.


- The facade maintenance cabin run between the white skeleton structure and the building facade.


- A camera of TV3, the Catalan official television station, is located on top.


- Floors are made of a composite structure of steel and concrete, 18.5 cm. thick.


- Construction delays prevented the hotel from opening for the Olympic Games. Some of the foundation was placed incorrectly.


- Architect: Bruce Graham of Skidmore, Owings And Merrill LLP, Robert Brufau y Asociados


- Hotel Ownership: Host Hotels and Resorts which is controlled by Marriott, The Hotel is managed by Ritz-Carlton, a brand which is 100% owned by Marriott International. Hotel Valued at over 400 million Euros.


Club King Deluxe Room with Ritz-Carlton "El Club" Access


Leica D-Lux 5


With My Own Eyes


16h seven-state drive complete, woohoo! and it is still twice as warm in NY as it was in MN. jacket and mittens? no, thank you!


it was, good people of flickr, horrifically tiring. we listened to all 6 discs of some book on CD about this murder mystery in virginia, a woman who used to work at the city post office and her three pets who always come to the rescue. basically, the only thing keeping me awake was my need to point out plot-holes, repetitive character information, unnecessary character information and sub-par dialogue. waving your arms in frustration while driving 70mph does wonders for the levels of oxygen in your system.


wanted to do a diptych as it's been a while, but almost didn't because there was some nice negative space by my head. these frost crystals are also most of what i saw of any snow. there was close to NOTHING the whole way. seven states, completely dry. there was apparently a mini-blizard in new york saturday afternoon, but we missed that by a day.


i shared aqua libra's idea with my mother of starting her own 365. she laughed when i hinted i'd trick her into it. she shouldn't underestimate me. or fall asleep before i do and when my camera battery is at full charge :3


here's to the interesting week ahead, mom ;)



Now when you choose a law career

The moment you embark

There is that joke you're bound hear

A lawyer is a shark


Ignore that, it's simplistic and it's dumb

Only some of you will turn out sharks, just some

The rest are chum


Our topic is blood in the water

Kids, it's time you faced

Law school is a waste

Oh yes, unless you acquire a taste for


Blood in the water

Dark and red and raw

You're nothing until the thrill of the kill

Becomes your only law

- Legally Blonde the Musical, Blood in the Water




I get a lot of people responding in surprise and disbelief when I tell them I'm a lawyer. Someone who will remain nameless even flickr mailed me and accused me of lying. His proof? He's never seen me wearing lawyerly clothes. Well, here you go. I had to be in court this morning, so I snapped this in my office afterwards. Dull, boring lawyer clothes. Black suit, camel-colored turtleneck. Zzzzzzz. Now you see why I never take pictures in work clothes.


I hope everybody has some fantastic stuff planned for their Thanksgiving weekend. I'm doing a 5k tomorrow morning with my dad, then chowing down on turkey with my family (including grandparents) here at my parents' house. Friday we head out to the lake where, barring any complications, a handful of awesome flickr friends will be meeting us to hang out, take ridiculous pictures, and drink copious amounts of alcohol. Or at least that's what I'll be doing. :)


365 Days (self portraits): Day 239

23/ 365 "With my sunglasses on, I'm Jack Nicholson. Without them I'm fat and 60"-Jack Nicholson


And bokehistan lights is on again!!! This photo was actually plan B. Was suppose to shoot outside our office but I left my CF card at home... :( blah...


I'm really happy how this one turned out!


It's sooo hot! A/C is broken!!! Hahaha...




Strobist Info:

SB800 @ 1/125 subject left bounced at curtains.

For ages




Tomorrow is day 100 woooo!!!!!


Anyway, today me and Brittany took a road trip up North to go see her lawyer about stuff. I brought a bunch of stuff expecting to shoot near the lawyers office because its in a cute town. Well we went to a parking lot but its all metered parking and both of us literally had like a dollar and some change combined so we decide to go drive along the coast to find a location. In the process of this Brittany said she knew a guy that takes pics of his car in front of an abandoned building around there. Now, by us theres like nothing abandoned that your allowed to be in or anything so we call him for directions like 5000 times because we kept getting lost. Finally we found the location and had to drive down like a 20 minute road along the coast...most beautiful place ever!! We get to the end and theres like coast guard signs everywhere and abandoned Im talking everywhere you look theres something cool. So we go driving around, call the guy again and hes trying to explain which one he uses but we honestly just got confused and found this place. Then as were turning onto a road (there were so many back there, like a little development of abandoned buildings) we hear gun shots and were like oh holy fuck. So being the dumbasses we are we continued scouting for somewhere and found this like building over grown into the side of a hill with tons of stairs, jail cells, etc. As were walking out the gun shots are going off all over and I can safely say its been one of the most nerve wrecking shoots haha. We come up the stairs and theres a sign that says "Hazardous Conditions, No Trespassing" so we talk over a game plan and dash in there amidst the gun shots going off in the background haha and shoot pretty quickly and run out. By the time we get to the car I couldn't find my phone and I had set it on silent at the lawyers office so calling it did no good. I retraced my steps and found it laying in the dirt. After that we took off and came home but we defiantly want to go back soon.


So for a recap, today we had "a photo shoot while under seige" lmao


Model: Brittany

Happy New Year Cliche-Saturday-Gang :)

Thought I would start with an easy one for the Scavenger Hunt.

I'm starting a 365 today too (although annoyingly my new DSLR is sitting in the closed post office, grrr).


Here's to 2011, when I shall be taking lots and lots of photos!


I had planned to start my 365 with a simple self-portrait but as I am still suffering from a cold and look gastly, I have gone with my cliche shot instead. Hopefully by the time I can get my camera away from the evil elves in the Post Office, I will feel up to showing my face fully :)


Looking out my window at work, there is a large tower for power lines across the field behind the office. 'On a cloudless, beautiful day', I thought, 'a photograph directly under the tower looking straight up would be cool.' So, I did it!! You can see the power lines way up above everything else. Everything else in the shot is the structure of the tower. (Also intriguing to a Structural Engineer!!)


Three bracketed photos were taken and combined with Photomatix to create this HDR image. Additional adjustments were made in Photoshop CS5.


"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11

An image of the CAD drawing storage area in our Ottawa branch. Seeing the grid with the drawings sticking out like that I knew that I wanted to use my 14mm ultrawide to capture this one!

Peter Duesberg is a "scientist" who is widely recognised as being one of the foremost idiots who thinks that HIV does not cause AIDS. He thinks that everyone gets it from taking ARVs and doing too much poppers and too many recreational drugs. Celia "Thats why they put blood on my face" Farber has spent an awful long time defending this lunatic "faith".


A new Harvard study has claimed that the deaths of around 330,000 South Africans occured as a direct result of Mbeki's HIV denial.


Peter Duesberg was on Mbeki's AIDS panel, so advised him in his murderous denial.


Of course I am not pointing the finger directly at Duesberg as the buck stopped with Mbeki and his health minister Dr Beetroot, and the policies they enacted.


However it would be wrong to completely ignore the role that Duesberg and others played in the deaths of all of these people.


Duesberg is currently employed by the University of California Berkeley. Maybe in light of this new evidence they should seriously consider his position within their (ANY!) teaching institution.


Mbeki Aids policy 'led to 330,000 deaths'

Sarah Boseley Thursday November 27 2008 00.01 GMT


The Aids policies of former president Thabo Mbeki's government were directly responsible for the avoidable deaths of a third of a million people in South Africa, according to research from Harvard University.


South Africa has one of the most severe HIV/Aids epidemics in the world. About 5.5 million people, or 18.8% of the adult population, have HIV, according to the UN. In 2005 there were 900 deaths a day.


But from the late 90s Mbeki turned his back on the scientific consensus that Aids was caused by a viral infection which could be combated, though not cured, by sophisticated and expensive drugs. He came under the influence of maverick scientists known as Aids-denialists, most prominent among whom was Peter Duesberg from Berkeley, California.


In 2000 Mbeki called a round-table of experts, including Duesberg and his supporters but also their opponents, to discuss the cause of Aids. Later that year, at the international Aids conference in Durban, he publicly rejected the accepted wisdom. Aids, he said, was indeed brought about by the collapse of the immune system - but not because of a virus. The cause, he said, was poverty, bad nourishment and general ill-health. The solution was not expensive western medicine but the alleviation of poverty in Africa.


In a new paper Harvard researchers have quantified the death toll resulting from Mbeki's stance, which caused him to reject offers of free drugs and grants and led to foot-dragging over a treatment programme, even after Mbeki had taken a vow of silence on the issue.


"We contend that the South African government acted as a major obstacle in the provision of medication to patients with Aids," write Pride Chigwedere and colleagues from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.


They have made their calculations by comparing the scale-up of treatment programmes in neighbouring Botswana and Namibia with the limited availability of drugs in South Africa from 2000-2005.


Expensive antiretrovirals came down in price dramatically as a result of activists' campaigning and public pressure. In July 2000 the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim offered to donate its drug nevirapine, which could prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child during labour. But South Africa restricted the availability of nevirapine to two pilot sites a province until December 2002.


Eventually, under international pressure, South Africa did launch a national programme for the prevention of mother to child transmission in August 2003 and a national adult treatment programme in 2004. But by 2005, the paper's authors estimate, there was still only 23% drug coverage and less than 30% prevention of mother to child transmission.


By comparison, Botswana achieved 85% treatment coverage and Namibia 71% by 2005, and both had 70% mother to child transmission programmes coverage.


The authors estimate that more than 330,000 people died unnecessarily in South Africa over the period and that 35,000 HIV-infected babies were born who could have been protected from the virus but would now probably have a limited life.


Their calculations will withstand scrutiny, they say. "The analysis is robust," said Dr Chigwedere. "We used a transparent and accessible calculation, publicly available data, and, where we made assumptions, we explained their basis. We purposely chose very conservative assumptions and performed sensitivity analyses to test whether the results would qualitatively change if a different assumption were used."


The authors conclude: "Access to appropriate public health practice is often determined by a small number of political leaders. In the case of South Africa, many lives were lost because of a failure to accept the use of available ARVs to prevent and treat HIV/Aids in a timely manner."


Since Mbeki's ousting from the leadership of the African National Congress in September South Africa has urgently pursued new policies to get treatment to as many people as possible under a new health minister, Barbara Hogan.


November 26, 2008

Study Cites Toll of AIDS Policy in South Africa


JOHANNESBURG — A new study by Harvard researchers estimates that the South African government would have prevented the premature deaths of 365,000 people earlier this decade if it had provided antiretroviral drugs to AIDS patients and widely administered drugs to help prevent pregnant women from infecting their babies.


The Harvard study concluded that the policies grew out of President Thabo Mbeki’s denial of the well-established scientific consensus about the viral cause of AIDS and the essential role of antiretroviral drugs in treating it.


Coming in the wake of Mr. Mbeki’s ouster in September after a power struggle in his party, the African National Congress, the report has reignited questions about why Mr. Mbeki, a man of great acumen, was so influenced by AIDS denialists.


And it has again caused soul-searching about why his colleagues in the party did not act earlier to challenge his resistance to broadly accepted methods of treating and preventing AIDS.


Reckoning with a legacy of such policies, Mr. Mbeki’s’s successor, Kgalema Motlanthe, acted on the first day of his presidency two months ago to remove the health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, a polarizing figure who had proposed garlic, lemon juice and beetroot as AIDS remedies.


He replaced her with Barbara Hogan, who has brought South Africa — the most powerful country in a region at the epicenter of the world’s AIDS pandemic — back into the mainstream.


“I feel ashamed that we have to own up to what Harvard is saying,” Ms. Hogan, an A.N.C. stalwart who was imprisoned for a decade during the anti-apartheid struggle, said in a recent interview. “The era of denialism is over completely in South Africa.”


For years, the South African government did not provide antiretroviral medicines, even as Botswana and Namibia, neighboring countries with epidemics of similar scale, took action, the Harvard study reported.


The Harvard researchers quantified the human cost of that inaction by comparing the number of people who got antiretrovirals in South Africa from 2000 to 2005 with the number the government could have reached had it put in place a workable treatment and prevention program.


They estimated that by 2005, South Africa could have been helping half those in need but had reached only 23 percent. By comparison, Botswana was already providing treatment to 85 percent of those in need, and Namibia to 71 percent.


The 330,000 South Africans who died for lack of treatment and the 35,000 babies who perished because they were infected with H.I.V. together lost at least 3.8 million years of life, the study concluded.


Epidemiologists and biostatisticians who reviewed the study for The New York Times said the researchers had based their estimates on conservative assumptions and used a sound methodology.


“They have truly used conservative estimates for their calculations, and I would consider their numbers quite reasonable,” James Chin, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, said in an e-mail message.


The report was posted online last month and will be published on Monday in the peer-reviewed Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.


Max Essex, the virologist who has led the Harvard School of Public Health’s AIDS research program for the past 20 years and who oversaw the study, called South Africa’s response to AIDS under Mr. Mbeki “a case of bad, or even evil, public health.”


Mr. Mbeki has maintained a silence on his AIDS legacy since his forced resignation. His spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, said Mr. Mbeki would not discuss his thinking on H.I.V. and AIDS, explaining that policy decisions were made collectively by the cabinet and so questions should be addressed to the government.


The new government is now trying to hasten the expansion of antiretroviral treatments. The task is urgent. South Africa today is home to 5.7 million people who are H.I.V.-positive — more than any other nation, almost one in five adults. More than 900 people a day die here as a result of AIDS, the United Nations estimates.


Since the party forced Mr. Mbeki from office and some of his loyalists split off to start a new party, rivalries have flared and stories about what happened inside the A.N.C. have begun to tumble out, offering unsettling glimpses of how South Africa’s AIDS policies went so wrong.


From the first year of his presidency in 1999, Mr. Mbeki became consumed with the thinking of a small group of dissident scientists who argued that H.I.V. was not the cause of AIDS, his biographers say.


As president he wielded enormous power, and those who disagreed with him said they feared they would be sidelined if they spoke out. Even Nelson Mandela, the revered former president, was not immune from opprobrium.


In a column in The Sunday Times of Johannesburg on Oct. 19, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, a senior party member now running the party’s 2009 election campaign, recounted how Mr. Mandela, known affectionately as Madiba, was humiliated during a 2002 A.N.C. meeting after he made a rare appearance to question the party’s stance on AIDS.


Mr. Ramatlhodi described speakers competing to show greater loyalty to Mr. Mbeki by verbally attacking Mr. Mandela as Mr. Mbeki looked on silently. “After his vicious mauling, Madiba looked twice his age, old and ashen,” Mr. Ramatlhodi wrote.


Mr. Ramatlhodi himself acknowledged in a recent interview that in 2001 he sent a 22-page letter, drafted by Mr. Mbeki’s office, to another of Mr. Mbeki’s most credible critics, Prof. Malegapuru Makgoba, an immunologist who was one of South Africa’s leading scientists. The letter accused Professor Makgoba of defending Western science and its racist ideas about Africans at the expense of Mr. Mbeki.


In 2000 Mr. Mbeki had provided Professor Makgoba with two bound volumes containing 1,500 pages of documents written by AIDS denialists. After reading them, Professor Makgoba said in an interview that he wrote back to warn Mr. Mbeki that if he adopted the denialists’ ideas, South Africa would “become the laughingstock, if not the pariah, of the world again.”


But Mr. Mbeki indicated last year to one of his biographers, Mark Gevisser, that his views on AIDS were essentially unchanged, pointing the writer to a document that, he said, was drafted by A.N.C. leaders and accurately reflected his position.


The document’s authors conceded that H.I.V. might be one cause of AIDS but contended that there were many others, like other diseases and malnutrition.


The document maintained that antiretrovirals were toxic. And it suggested that powerful vested interests — drug companies, governments, scientists — pushed the consensus view of AIDS in a quest for money and power, while peddling centuries-old white racist beliefs that depicted Africans as sexually rapacious.


“Yes, we are sex crazy!” the document’s authors bitterly exclaimed. “Yes, we are diseased! Yes, we spread the deadly H.I. virus through our uncontrolled heterosexual sex!”


In 2002, after a prolonged outcry over Mr. Mbeki’s comments about AIDS and the government’s policies, Mr. Mbeki agreed to requests from within his party to withdraw from the public debate. That same year, the Constitutional Court ruled that the government had to provide antiretroviral drugs to prevent the infection of newborns. And in 2003, the cabinet announced plans to go forward with an antiretroviral treatment program.


“We did an enormous amount of good in the early days in South Africa, not because of the Health Ministry, but in spite of the Health Ministry,” said Randall L. Tobias, who was appointed by President Bush in 2003 to lead the United States’ $15 billion global AIDS undertaking.


In the same years, former President Clinton and his foundation were also deeply involved in helping South Africa get a treatment program going. Mr. Clinton attended Mr. Mandela’s 85th birthday celebration in Johannesburg in 2003. During the dinner, he and Mr. Mbeki slipped away to talk about AIDS, Mr. Clinton recalled in a recent interview.


Mr. Clinton said he told Mr. Mbeki how antiretroviral treatment had reduced the AIDS mortality rate in the United States and reminded him, “I’m your friend and I haven’t joined in the public condemnation.” That evening, when Mr. Clinton offered to send in a team of experts to help the country put together a national treatment plan, Mr. Mbeki took him up on it.


The Clinton Foundation helped devise a plan and mobilized 20 people to travel to South Africa in 2004 to help carry it out. But the South African government never invited them, Mr. Clinton said. So the foundation, which had projects all over Africa, was to have none in South Africa.


Changes since Mr. Mbeki’s fall from power have prompted many to hope for forceful South African political leadership on AIDS. Mr. Mbeki’s rival and successor as head of the party, Jacob Zuma, who is expected to become president after next year’s election, himself made a famously questionable remark about AIDS.


In his 2006 rape trial, in which he was acquitted of sexually assaulting a family friend, he testified that he sought to reduce his chances of being infected with H.I.V. by taking a shower after sex. Nonetheless, he seems to have more conventional views on the pandemic.


“Who would have thought Jacob Zuma would be better than Mbeki, but he is,” said Richard C. Holbrooke, the former ambassador to the United Nations in the Clinton administration who heads a coalition of businesses fighting AIDS. “The tragedy of Thabo Mbeki is that he’s a smart man who could have been an international statesman on this issue. To this day, you wonder what got into him.”


For South Africans who watched the dying and were powerless to stop it, the grief is still raw. Zackie Achmat, the country’s most prominent advocate for people with AIDS, became sick during the almost five years he refused to take antiretrovirals until they were made widely available. He cast Mr. Mbeki as the leading man in this African tragedy.


“He is like Macbeth,” Mr. Achmat said. “It’s easier to walk through the blood than to turn back and admit you made a mistake.”


Mbeki's opposition to ARVs cost 330,000 lives, shows study

Michael Carter, Thursday, November 27, 2008


The refusal of the Mbeki government to roll-out antiretroviral therapy and treatment to prevent mother-to child transmission in South Africa resulted in 330,000 needlessly premature HIV-related deaths and 35,000 avoidable case of mother-to-child HIV transmission according to estimates published in the December 1st edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.


South Africa is one of the countries hardest hit by HIV. UNAIDS estimates that 19% of the adult population is HIV-positive, some 5.5 million individuals. In 2005, an estimated 320,000 individuals died because of HIV.


President Thabo Mbeki’s government consistently resisted the provision of antiretroviral therapy. The first important evidence of this was in 1999 when, under pressure to provide AZT monotherapy to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, President Mbeki announced that the drug was dangerous and that it would therefore not be provided by his government. This was followed by Mbeki publicly questioning that HIV caused AIDS and the efficacy of antiretroviral therapy. The Mbeki administration then resisted the use of nevirapine to prevent mother-to-child transmission and obstructed the acquisition of grants from the Global Fund.


US investigators estimated the lost benefits resulting from the Mbeki government’s opposition to provision of antiretroviral therapy and treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission. To do this, they compared the actual number of people who received HIV treatment or therapy to prevent mother-to-child transmission between 2000 and 2005 and compared this to the number that could feasibly have been treated during this period. This difference was multiplied by the average efficacy of antiretroviral treatment and treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission to give the lost benefits consequent upon the South African government’s decision to prevent access to anti-HIV drugs.


“Our overriding values in choosing methods were transparency and minimization of assumptions and we were purposely conservative”, write the investigators.


When estimating the number of people who could reasonably have been provided with antiretroviral therapy or treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission, the investigators noted that HIV treatment became significantly more accessible between 2000-2005. This was because:


* The price of anti-HIV drugs fell significantly in this period.


* More money was available for donor organisations, such as the Global Fund and PEPFAR, to purchase antiretroviral drugs.


Nevertheless, the South African government still maintained opposition to the provision of HIV drugs.


To estimate the number of people who should have been eligible to receive antiretroviral therapy, the investigators obtained from UNAIDS the number of HIV-related deaths in South Africa between 2000-2005. Patients who died of HIV without receiving anti-HIV drugs lost the entire potential benefits of antiretroviral therapy.


Next, the investigators obtained figures showing how many individuals received antiretroviral therapy in the same period. Their sources were UNAIDS and the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) “3 x 5” antiretroviral treatment access programme. These figures showed that fewer than 3% of patients received antiretroviral treatment in 2000, increasing to approximately 10% in 2003 and 23% in 2005.


The researchers considered it reasonable that South Africa could have treated no more than 5% of eligible patients with HIV in 2000. However, because drugs became less expensive and more international funding became available, “ramping up” access to treatment was feasible, meaning that by 2005, 50% of HIV-positive patients in South Africa should have been receiving antiretroviral therapy. They note that the maximum of 50% treatment coverage is significantly lower than the 71% achieved by Namibia and the 85% achieved by Botswana.


Finally they estimated the number of life years that would be gained per patient due to antiretroviral therapy. They used the most conservative estimate of 6.7 years.


Their calculations showed that 330,000 lives and 2.2 million person years were lost because the Mbeki government resisted the implementation of a reasonable antiretroviral treatment programme.


They tested their model using a number of other assumptions. For example, if they reduced the number of patients who could reasonably be expected to receive antiretroviral therapy in 2005 to 40%, then the number of lives lost fell to 226,800 or 1.5 million person years.


Consequences of opposition to treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission


The researchers' model to test the impact of the Mbeki administration’s opposition to treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission also included a number of conservative assumptions.


First, they calculated the number of children infected with HIV vertically. They looked at a number of sources and selected the lowest estimate of 68,000 per year and revised this down to 60,000 to take into account the high adult HIV population and marginal increase in population growth in South Africa during this period.


A number of sources suggested that in 2005, coverage of treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission was 30%, having increased from below 3% before 2000.


To estimate the proportion of women who could have received treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission, they considered that treatment would have been free during this period, that it is easy to administer and that 84% of pregnant women in South Africa receive antenatal care.


Based on these assumptions, the investigators calculated that no more than 5% of women would have received treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission in 2000, but that this could have increased to 55% by 2005.


Next the investigators estimated the efficacy of such therapy, taking as their benchmark the HIVNET 012 study which showed that single-dose nevirapine reduced the risk of transmission by 47% compared to short-course AZT amongst women who breastfeed.


Finally, they assumed an average life-expectancy at birth of 48 years, and subtracted from this the average three year life-expectancy of infants infected with HIV at birth.


The investigators therefore estimated that 35,000 cases of mother-to-child transmission (or 1.6 million life years) were the result of the Mbeki administration’s policies.


One again, the investigators tested their results using other assumptions. If they accepted 40% coverage of treatment as acceptable, then the excess number of babies infected because of government policies was 18,000, a loss of 800,00 life years. However, had there been 70% coverage (still below what was achieved in Namibia and Botswana), then HIV infections in 44,000 babies (or 2 million life years), would have been avoided.


When the investigators combined their two estimates – years of life lost because of opposition to antiretroviral treatment, and life years lost because of the failure to provide treatment to prevent vertical transmission – they found that some 3.8 million life years were lost because of the Mbeki administration’s policies.


They conclude, “in the case of South Africa, many lives were lost because of failure to accept the use of available antiretrovirals to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS in a timely manner.”




Chigwedere, P. et al. Estimating the lost benefits of antiretroviral drug use in South Africa. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 49: 410-15, 2008.


all week i have wanted to take this photo in the evening because the NEON color really stands out. i was planning it for my 52 week project of the "bubbly" theme as well as my daily photo. and then....i realized... those aren't really bubbles on the bottle.


but i still like the neon color...and the peek in the window.


i love looking into windows. does that make me a peeping tom?

20/365 - 5/100


Really didnt get much time to plan any shots over the weekend, so had to resort to our IT office again. These are thumbscrews - not the medieval torture device- but screwdriverless screws that make building (and repairing) PC's much easier for us lowly technicians.


I tried to be a bit creative with bokeh of out of focus thumbscrews, but think a wider aperture might have helped.


Day 192 of 365, Tuesday, November 20, 2012 ---------------------


This fountain display is just off Interstate 80 within the city limits of Vallejo. This is the attractive entrance to a housing development which is oddly located on the other side of the hills from the rest of the city. It is surrounded by farms and open space. In spite of the name - and the fountain - I don’t think there is a brook. I’ve been curious as to how this “planned community” came to be, as there is nothing there except a golf course surrounded by somewhat expensive houses. It is a bit of a drive to the nearest store, church, medical office, school, or commercial establishment of any kind. I don’t know what arrangements were made for fire, police, and other city services, but it seems like a losing proposition for the city and the rest of the city’s residents. Well, obviously I am not an expert in urban planning and it’s a good thing I am never consulted on such matters.




Returning to my childhood home for the summer has been much more confusing than I thought it would be. I haven't been home for an extended period of time since I moved out two summers ago, and now that I've been here for almost three months, it's starting to feel like living instead of visiting.


But in some ways, I feel like I don't belong here anymore. My friends aren't here, and my parents and brother have a life outside of me now. I'm suspended for a time, my freedom relinquished, a child once again in my parents' house, but I know what it's like to have no clothing and no way to get somewhere and no food in the house and no one to blame it on.


And I know what it's like to feel like there's no place for you, nowhere you belong, because your parents are throwing the things in your office away and turning it into a leisure room and planning vacations and holidays and not inviting you.


Now I'm just a picture on the wall, a memory of when I was young. And when I protest, they say, "But you're gone." And I want to say, "I still need somewhere to belong."



"To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting." E.E. Cummings




Ninja post-it's? I couldn't resist!


Well, it's finally my Friday! Thankfully, I was done with this week by noon today and the afternoon just seemed to drag on and on. It was one of those weeks where I questioned the intelligence of the majority of the people I came into contact with. I'm glad it's over and hopefully by next week people have found their sensibility and the world can tilt back to sanity.


No big plans for the upcoming weekend, and I'm glad for it. I could use some time hiding in the house and relaxing. I have many of books that need reading and if I manage to get through the chore list tomorrow I should be able to spend the majority of Saturday and Sunday lounging on the couch with a few books. I think my sanity needs a break and books should do that. If I could, I'd probably take a week off to hangout in the house with a pile of books and of course, my camera. Too bad I have to be a responsible adult and that's not an option, at least not for a while. So, I guess I'll just do what I can to make the most of the three days away from the office.


Hope everyone has had a good Friday Thursday!


Click "L" to view on a darker background.


This was taken in the ENORMOUS bathroom at my therapist's office. I only ever used the one on the bottom floor which is small and dark, but I walked into this one (on the top floor) and knew I had to get photos in it! It's huge, like I said, and bright and lit with this weird sterile-yellow hue (which seems oxymoronic, as yellow doesn't typically feel sterile) but... It does there. I enhanced the yellowness in this photo, but it's yellow on its own.

This is pretty much the opposite of what I had planned for today. In fact, I went to the park and tried to get the shots I wanted but... REALLY not good. Another time. I really need to get myself a tripod!


So these were actually taken in the reverse order they are here. New camera lets me take three photos at a time rather than two! Very exciting.


And although these are nothing like what I planned, I'm actually really satisfied with this. My favorite is the one on the far right... Though I really think I like them as a set.


Had a heck of a time with the song, but I scrolled backwards through my itunes and when I hit "Metallica" it clicked immediately! Has to be viewed larger to read it.

This is the Metallica song I like. The only Metallica song I really like. I think it's about Locked-In Syndrome, kind of... It's interesting. Whatever it's about, it's much worse than depression, but that's what I've got so work with me!



by Metallica

I can't remember anything

Can't tell if this is true or dream

Deep down inside I feel to scream

This terrible silence stops me


Now that the war is through with me

I'm waking up I cannot see

That there is not much left of me

Nothing is real but pain now


Hold my breath as I wish for death

Oh please God, wake me


Back in the womb it's much too real

In pumps life that I must feel

But can't look forward to reveal

Look to the time when I'll live


Fed through the tube that sticks in me

Just like a wartime novelty

Tied to machines that make me be

Cut this life off from me


Hold my breath as I wish for death

Oh please God, wake me

Now the world is gone, I'm just one

Oh God, help me hold my breath as I wish for death

Oh please God, help me


Darkness imprisoning me

All that I see

Absolute horror

I cannot live

I cannot die

Trapped in myself

Body my holding cell


Land mine has taken my sight

Taken my speech

Taken my hearing

Taken my arms

Taken my legs

Taken my soul

Left me with life in hell

Day 227/365 (Thanks, Catriona!)


Took this one at office, shortly before heading to Biggi where I spent the evening, compiling that photo album for Hannah at whose birthday party we had been taking pictures and interviews of the guests. Came home fairly late, just to find out that the Internet as well as the landline aren't working. We've been having issues with that provider on and off, it's a cable modem with attached DSL WiFi router. First it was the WiFi router that was having issues, now it's the modem that's not working, no upstream connection, and the landline is dead as well. This is why I am currently connected via my mobile phone (Modem via GPRS, my computer connected to the cell via Infrared interface). Which is horribly slow. Which in turn is the reason why there won't be any other pictures tonight except my selfie for which I haven't missed a single day yet - nor am I planning to.


I hope they will fix this. I can't do without Internet for more than a couple hours, let alone days or weeks... and the weekend is approaching with grim steps... Keep your fingers crossed.

So I woke up feeling like hell. I started watching TV, Ben was on the computer getting ready to write. He got an email and the expression on his face changed. He got an email from his senators office, who are helping us track progress on my fiancé visa. They forwarded us the letter they received from the California service centre. The visa that is suppose to take 4-6 months and be the quickest easiest way to get married and get a visa has already taken over 18 months. This letter stated that it could take years and years. Ben lived in Egypt for 2 years when the war broke out…so things like this are a bitch. So Ben was frustrated and I was calm. We talked about it and it sucks. At least we are both more than committed to this and will have no problem sticking it out in China or wherever until this thing goes through. But it sucks. We went out for lunch and I became more upset as Ben calmed down. Frustrated. I’m still frustrated.


We went to school early because the preschool classes were having a Christmas concert. Ben had to be Santa. It was adorable. A ton of fun! I finally feel like it will be Christmas in a couple of days. I felt ill (because I’m sick or because of this letter is yet to be decided…) but got all my planning done. Then had to teach. I got 2 new boys in one class. Sweet kids…though one’s grandmother needs to seriously chill out or there will be a problem with her and I.


Came home. Slept. Ben brought dinner and goodies from a foreign import store. Our dvd players are both done so we had to watch a movie on the computer. I fell asleep and slept the sleep of the dead. And now I’m here. It’s Saturday morning and I have to go and get ready for my first of 4 Christmas parties with my kiddo’s. I’m still frustrated and it still sucks. We are going to be here for a long time. Which is fine…we have a good job and Beijing is great. But the part that really gets me is that we have to wait until someone decides that they are ready and have looked into enough things that they can stamp “Approved” on our application. So here we will be…waiting…for a long, long time…


VIsited a historic jail today located on the top floor of the LA City Attorney's Office which is where my mum works. I visited her after I finished working with a client in the area. I had only planned to take photos of the outside of the building, but my mum suggested she take me up to the old historic jail. it was eerie. She said it's meant to be haunted too.




I didn't even want to step inside one of the cells.


Day .309.

Thinking about my next photo for the Project 365 as I was driving to work this morning, I was trying to think of what I would like to do next. Then...I pulled into the parking lot at work and saw that the solar panels that are behind my office were completely frosted over from the night before. Given the time of year it is, this seemed like an appropriate photo for the day (it was 23° this morning when I left the house!). And it's just a cool photo as well...


Technical Information:

Camera - Nikon D5000

Lens – Nikkor 18-300mm Zoom

ISO – 200

Aperture – f/5.6

Exposure – 1/125 second

Focal Length – 72mm


Final adjustments were made with PS.


“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

I arrived in Kamikochi this morning at 6am on the night bus. My plan of getting a good nights sleep didn't really pan out as I forgot I am not Japanese and therefore can't sleep in any position at any given time of the day.Man they are good sleepers.

I went to the mountain rescue office in Kamikochi to fill out a form which detailed my proposed hike. While I was there a Japanese guy started talking to me. It turns out he was doing the exact same route as me so we decided to walk together for the first day. His name was Minouru and it was nice to have some company.

It was pretty easy going to first but after a few hours we started the big slog up towards Yarigatake (Japan's 5th highest mountain at 3180 metres). At around 5 PM we got to a mountain hut about 1 hour from the peak of Yarigatake. Minouru said he was going to stay here but I wanted to catch sunset on the peak so I continued to the next mountain hut. I arrived at the hut around 6pm and set up my tent. I couldn't have asked for a better evening to watch the sun setting so I decided to climb to the somewhat precarious summit of Yarigatake to take some shots. Yari is one of the most recognizable peaks in Japan due to its spear like summit but this makes for a few scary moments climbing some ladders to get there. One slip and it would probably be curtains so I decided to go nice and slow. I finally got to the summit at 6.30 (not bad timing as the sun was due to set at 6.41. There were about 5 others on the summit. The view was mesmerizing. This shot is a Panoramic view from the summit of Yarigatake.

If I remember rightly I used both my Lee 0.6ND Grad and my 0.9ND grad. As the sun disappeared for yet another day, I decided it was time to get back down to my tent. All the other people had already gone back down to the mountain hut. I was the last man down that night. Climbing back down in the dark made for a few interesting moments but I eventually got back down in one piece. What a day.



Not feeling all that creative, or motivated today. I tried a variety of shots but in the end, I've selected a shot I took while bored in the office today.


My paperclips.


How exciting right?


Meh, it's Friday! I'm now taking a leave of absence from reality to embrace weekend time. I have plans tonight, but otherwise, the plan is to sit at home and just catch up on rest... now let's see if I can actually do that...


Hope you're all enjoying the start to your weekend!


Click "L" to view on black.

Charlotte Square is a city square in Edinburgh, Scotland, part of the New Town, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The square is located at the west end of George Street, intended to mirror St. Andrew Square in the east.


Initially named St. George's Square in James Craig's original plan, it was renamed before completion after King George III's Queen and first daughter, to avoid confusion with George Square, in the south of the city. Charlotte Square was the last part of the initial phase of the New Town to be completed in 1820. Much of it was to the 1791 design of Robert Adam, who died in 1792, just as building began.


In 1939 a very sizable air-raid shelter was created under the south side of the gardens, accessed from the street to the south.


In 2013 the south side was redeveloped in an award-winning scheme, creating major new office floorspace behind a restored series of townhouses


Gardens: The garden was originally laid out as a level circular form by William Weir in 1808.


In 1861 a plan was drawn up by Robert Matheson, Clerk of Works for Scotland for a larger, more square garden, centred upon a memorial to the recently deceased Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria.


The commission for the sculpture was granted in 1865 to Sir John Steell. The main statue features an equestrian statue of the prince, in field marshal's uniform, dwarfing the four figures around the base. It was unveiled by Queen Victoria herself in 1876.[The stone plinth was designed by the architect David Bryce and the four corner figures are by David Watson Stevenson (Science and Learning/Labour), Clark Stanton (Army and Navy) and William Brodie (Nobility).


This remodelling featured major new tree-planting which took many years to re-establish.


The central open space is a private garden, available to owners of the surrounding properties. For the last three weeks in August each year Charlotte Square gardens are the site of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.


The railings around the gardens were removed in 1940 as part of the war effort. The current railings date from 1947

Buildings: On the north side, No. 5 was the home of John Crichton-Stuart, 4th Marquess of Bute (1881–1947), who bought it in 1903 and gave it to the National Trust for Scotland on his death. It was the Trust headquarters from 1949 to 2000. Bute did much to promote the preservation of the Square.


Nos. 6 and 7 are also owned by the National Trust for Scotland. No.6, Bute House is the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland. In 1806 it was home to Sir John Sinclair creator of the first Statistical Account of Scotland. No. 7 was internally restored by the Trust in 1975 to its original state, and is open to the public as The Georgian House. The upper floor was formerly the official residence of the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The building includes one fireplace brought from Hill of Tarvit in Fife in 1975.


West Register House, formerly St. George's Church, forms the centre of the west side. It was designed by the architect Robert Reid in 1811, broadly to Adam's plan. The church opened in 1814 and was converted to its current use in 1964. It is one of the main buildings of the National Records of Scotland


Residents: James Syme, the surgeon, lived at No.9 and his son-in-law Joseph Lister, lived there from 1870-1877. No. 13 was home to Sir William Fettes and No. 14 the house of Whig lawyer, historian and conservationist Lord Cockburn. Viscount Haldane was born at No.17 and another soldier, Field Marshal Earl Haig, was born at No. 24. Robert Reid designed No. 44 as his own home. Pioneer of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, was born in nearby South Charlotte Street. [Wikipedia ]

Early in the morning and on my way to the office, I passed by this line of electrical transmission towers with the sun just rising over the tree line and casting sun rays across the sky just behind the clouds. I actually had to turn around and drive directly under one of the towers to take this photograph out the window of my truck. These are the mornings (among all the other times of the day where I wish I could just do this all the time!!) that makes going to work difficult...


Three bracketed photos were taken and combined with Photomatix to create this HDR image. Additional adjustments were made in Photoshop CS5.


"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~Jeremiah 29:11

The importance is whether or not we find it again.



I guess yesterdays post made Front Page oh so briefly....I missed it.... (figures). Hm.

Oh well, right?

Done early today...heh.

I guess I just wanted it over with. :) That and I'm off work today, so what else to

I'm planning on cleaning my office out today, actually. It needs it...horribly.

Exciting day ahead for just.K. ;-)

Happy Monday all.....*muah*


(explore #84)



"When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future." - Bernard Meltzer




I have a weakness for Mini Eggs, I could eat way too many of them. I have to fight to keep the snacking under control when these are in the house and now I have a big jar of them. This could end with a stomach ache... I don't think I planned this sweet Sunday out very well.


Well, I brought my company to the airport this morning and the house seems so quiet now. I've had visitors staying with me for over a week now and it's strange to be alone in the house again. Although, Fyero seems happy about having me all to herself again. She's been a gigantic cuddle monster all day... although I think she's cuddly right now because she'd like some dinner.


One more day away from the office and then back to reality, the 11 days away from the office has gone by much too quickly. It always does, doesn't it? Oh well, until the next break!


Hope you've all had a great Easter Sunday.


Click "L" to view on darker background.

98:365 sorry its a day late - big plans waylaid by having LEFT my Mac at the office (but taken yesterday)

This will probably be my only entry for this week's theme Contronym - which will now become the word that will not be named.


3. Left can mean either remaining or departed.


Please ignore the hipster, seemingly stoned guitar player and smirking exiter - decent models are SO hard to find!


Stockholm City Hall (Swedish: Stockholms stadshus or Stadshuset locally) is the building of the Municipal Council for the City of Stockholm in Sweden. It stands on the eastern tip of Kungsholmen island, next to Riddarfjärden's northern shore and facing the islands of Riddarholmen and Södermalm. It houses offices and conference rooms as well as ceremonial halls, and the luxury restaurant Stadshuskällaren. It is the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet and one of Stockholm's major tourist attractions.

In 1907 the city council decided to build a new city hall at the former site of Eldkvarn. An architectural contest was held which in a first stage resulted in the selection of drafts by Ragnar Östberg, Carl Westman, Ivar Tengbom jointly with Ernst Torulf, and Carl Bergsten. After a further competition between Westman and Östberg the latter was assigned to the construction of the City Hall, while the former was asked to construct Stockholm Court House. Östberg modified his original draft using elements of Westman's project, including the tower. During the construction period, Östberg constantly reworked his plans, resulting e.g. in the addition of the lantern on top of the tower, and the abandonment of the blue glazed tiles for the Blue Hall.


Oskar Asker was employed as construction leader and Paul Toll, of construction company Kreuger & Toll, designed the foundations. The construction took twelve years, from 1911 to 1923. Nearly eight million red bricks were used. The dark red bricks, called "munktegel" (monks's brick) because of their traditional use in the construction of monasteries and churches, were provided by Lina brick factory near Södertälje. Construction was carried out by craftsmen using traditional techniques.


The building was inaugurated on 23 June 1923, exactly 400 years after Gustav Vasa's arrival in Stockholm. Verner von Heidenstam and Hjalmar Branting held the inaugurational speeches.

The site, adjacent to Stadshusbron, being bordered by the streets of Hantverkargatan and Norr Mälarstrand to the north and west, and the shore of Riddarfjärden to the south and east, allowed for a spacious layout. The building follows a roughly rectangular ground plan. It is built around two open spaces, a piazza called Borgargården on the eastern side, and the Blue Hall (Blå hallen) to the west.


The Blue Hall, with its straight walls and arcades, incorporates elements of a representative courtyard.[1] Its walls are in fact without blue decorations, but it has kept its name after Östberg's original design. It is known as the dining hall used for the banquet held after the annual Nobel Prize award ceremony. The organ in the Blue Hall is with its 10,270 pipes the largest in Scandinavia. Above the Blue Hall lies the Golden Hall (Gyllene Salen), named after the decorative mosaics made of more than 18 million tiles. The mosaics make use of motifs from Swedish history. They were executed by the Berlin, Germany, firm of Puhl & Wagner Gottfried Heinersdorff, after nine years of negotiations by Gottfried Heinersdorff (1883-1941) for the commission.


The southeast corner of the building, immediately adjacent to the shore, is marked by a monumental tower crowned by the Three Crowns, an old national symbol for Sweden. The tower is 106 metres high and is accessible by an elevator or by a stair of 365 steps. The eastern side of its base is decorated with a faux tomb and gold-plated sarcophagus of Birger Jarl.


Stadshuset is considered one of Sweden's foremost examples of national romanticism in architecture. The unique site, overlooking Riddarfjärden, inspired a central motif of the construction, namely the juxtaposition of city architecture and water that also represents a central feature of Stockholm's cityscape as a whole. The architectural style is one of refined eclecticism, blending massive, austere, North European brick construction and playful elements reminiscent of oriental and venetian architecture, such as turrets adorned with golden starlets, decorated balconies, wooden masts, and statues.


Стокгольмская ратуша (швед. Stockholms stadshus) — одна из главных туристических достопримечательностей Стокгольма, символ шведской столицы.

Здание было построено на стрелке острова Кунгсхольм в 1911—1923 годах по проекту Рагнара Эстберга (швед. Ragnar Östberg). В ратуше проходят заседания городских властей, проводятся важные политические переговоры, а в Золотом и Синем залах ратуши ежегодно в декабре король Швеции вручает Нобелевские премии и проходит банкет по этому случаю. Золотой зал украшает мозаика из более чем 18 млн позолоченных плиток, изображающая сцены из истории Швеции. Двор ратуши открыт для посетителей, а экскурсии по залам ратуши возможны только с экскурсоводом. Экскурсии на шведском и английском языках проводятся ежедневно, возможен также заказ экскурсий на русском языке. Со смотровой площадки 106-метровой башни ратуши открывается великолепная панорама Стокгольма.

These seem to be absolutely ubiquitous and after being a sceptic myself, now I have had one for a few weeks know why. The tie in to itunes and the appstore is a killer idea. You would have thought that Microsoft would have worked that out after the rise of the ipod and the concept of buying music by that channel.


Now, Windows mobile 7 is planned to cover the sames bases with the addition of a 'Bing' button (WTF?), but two years too late. While Apple look like your creative younger art school sister, Microsoft might be your older richer fuddy duddy sibling, set in his old ways.


The iPhone was originally released in 2007. An iPhone functions as a rather useful camera phone with the usual texting etc. It has its own portable media player, Safari a great pinch and stretch browser with Wi-Fi connectivity etc.


There are well over 200,000 apps each of which must approved by Apple. Presumably Apple take a few pennies from all those downloads. They tend to be the funky consumer apps, not really ones for business however. I am still looking for one that will allow me to find where there is not a Tesco store.


Some of the apps I have been playing with on mine include Lomo (a toy camera app), Autostitch (panorama software), Shazam (for identifying that obscure music track) and Met Office (to see when the rain will be arriving).


More iPhones than Blackberry's seem to be flying off the shelves with approching 40 million sold across the world. Also, these covers which are necessary to protect your iPhone. Of course you can get the gold and diamond covers, but beware, all that glitters may not be gold(!)


NB: Like all the images on this stream, full size prints up to 30x20inches are available, Check my profile for how to contact me.


Checkout more Cheshire images from my photostream.


Keep in touch, add me as a contact so I can follow all your new uploads.


(c) Hotpix / HotpixUK Tony Smith - WDCC

today is my father's 83rd birthday and i had every intention of getting a shot of him. but again, best laid plans!!! i'm just so glad i got a good shot of him last week!! glad and thankful!!! he seemed pleased by the attention today and that all his grandkids called him up! they all call him "papa" which we all love. when my first nephew was born there was a big discussion about what the grandparents would be called. but when Billy first addressed his grandfather, my dad, he called him papa and that was it!!!!


so as i said in the tags, i was finishing up a roll of film and i couldn't stop myself from taking more photos of the girls and so here is oona again!!! sitting on the printer, as she usually does when i am in the "office." they are around me now as i type, oona on the printer and annie on the guest bed. life is good. and carl is making us a roast dinner. i am blessed.

Welcome to Red Canyon in Wonderful Wyoming. The view here is from Highway 28 a few miles out of Lander, Wyoming and just before you enter South Pass.


My first encounter with Red Canyon was when my family moved from Wyoming to Utah in 1962. I was twelve years old.


I have always admired the colors of this canyon and have, over the years, taken many photographs. But, it is a hard canyon to photograph if you just take a snapshot. To capture the real beauty, it takes work, imagination, and planning. You cannot simply stick your camera out the window as you go by at 75 mph.


There are a lot of bad photographs of this canyon. My goal is to do better.







Nikon D200, 180mm, 1/40sec, f/14, WB: Auto, ISO 100, 5 exposures, 5 stops. HDR in Photomatix Pro 32. Adjustments in Adobe Photoshop Elements 8, which include:


a. Various dodge and burn operations to bring out subject detail and to suppress superfluous information. In other words, I doctored the camera image up until it looks like I remember it in my mind and my heart.

b. Clone stamp to remove tracks of the Wyoming Jackalope. This animal is numerous in this area and can be annoying, especially, if you hit one on the road while doing 75 mph.




Make something out of yourself.



Apologies this is late but still in time! :)

I've had a mental day... We had to get to Newport to renew my other half's passport. Originally planned to catch a train but a landslide meant the line was down. So my mum kindly said she'll drive us. Then just before we joined the motorway we heard on the radio the M4 had been closed due to an accident. And furthermore both Severn bridges had been closed!! So we had to do double the original journey length travelling north through Gloucester and round the river! Finally got there and the road the office is on was being dug up! Seemed everything was trying to stop him getting his passport!

But once there we did have a lovely day shopping etc :D

Sorry for the essay!

So this is a light painting image today, bringing the darkness to life!


Hope everyone's day has been simpler than mine ;)


As you may know i collect tons of props i have Mr Dress Up buckets stacked in my office and book shelf's filled with random lamps bubble wrap i even have some weird wrapped up portable fence? It was a rare find and only 2 dollars so in the pile it goes. I have all these plans for them and it just seems to add up to a photo like this. I got this pair of glasses from a-lan-a (you may know her from photos) and she gave me these one day when we meet up for some photos, so again i stashed them in the bin for future use. Skip ahead 1 year and here they are taking part in 366 day 167. I just knew that they would be great for a fun shot and how the springs move and bend i knew that if i was to shake my head as the camera was about to take a photo then i could get one of the eyes moving in air as i held the other one stretched out. It was a funny shoot and there is a few outtakes that were almost winners and a couple where the eye flew back and slapped me in the face but in the end this was the pic of the day...


Specs and Strobist

Sb-800 1/4th power camera left (24x24 soft box) and fired via nikon cls on self timer and as the photo was about to be take i swung my head sideways to get the movement in the glasses


Check out the reflection of the TV in this shot...haha That's what all that purple is there. Thought it looked cool anyway...


It really was a long day. Longer one planned for tomorrow. Hopefully I'll post a shot that isn't taken in my office here in a bit...haha


Canon 5D Mark II | Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

50 years young today!


Not the grand final photo I planned, had a VERY busy day!


So, that's it. 365 has been a great learning experience and a record of my 49th year!


I've had to look at my everyday life in a new and interesting way - I've learnt a lot - taken quite a mixed bag of photos.


Will be great to have the daily pressure taken away and now I intend to concentrate on quality rather than quantity. More landscapes hopefully and get to grips with photoshop.


THANK YOU to everyone for your comments and encouragement. Had a busy few days. will check out all your photos soon!

Planning out my wardrobe to go into the office tomorrow… it’s funny to me that when you lose weight you eventually have to get a whole new wardrobe. However now that I am working from home 99% of the time my wardrobe consists of shorts and comfortable t-shirts. When I do go into the office, I like to dress nice and buying a new suit or shirt & tie combo once a month is a piece of cake.

With the amount of money I save on gas, toll fees, vehicle wear, plus everything else that goes with it- it’s a very minimal expense!


Theme: Weight For Me

Year Eight Of My 365 Project

New hope in 2009


"Barack" and "Obama" redirect here. For other uses, see Barack (disambiguation) and Obama (disambiguation).

Barack Obama




44th President of the United States


Assumed office

January 20, 2009

Vice President Joe Biden

Preceded by George W. Bush




United States Senator

from Illinois

In office

January 3, 2005 – November 16, 2008

Preceded by Peter Fitzgerald

Succeeded by Roland Burris




Member of the Illinois Senate

from the 13th district

In office

January 8, 1997 – November 4, 2004

Preceded by Alice Palmer

Succeeded by Kwame Raoul




Born August 4, 1961 (1961-08-04) (age 47)[1]

Honolulu, Hawaii, United States[2]

Birth name Barack Hussein Obama II[2]

Nationality American

Political party Democratic

Spouse Michelle Obama (m. 1992)

Children Malia Ann (b. 1998)

Natasha (a.k.a. Sasha) (b. 2001)

Residence Chicago, Illinois (private)

White House, Washington, D.C. (official)

Alma mater Occidental College

Columbia University (B.A.)

Harvard Law School (J.D.)

Profession Community organizer





Religion Protestant Christian[3]



This article is part of a series about

Barack Obama

Background · Illinois Senate · U.S. Senate

Political positions · Public image · Family

2008 primaries · Obama–Biden campaign

Transition · Inauguration · US Presidency


Barack Hussein Obama II (pronounced /bəˈrɑːk hʊˈseɪn oʊˈbɑːmə/; born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama was the junior United States Senator from Illinois from 2005 until he resigned following his 2008 election to the presidency. He was inaugurated as President on January 20, 2009.


Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was the first African American president of the Harvard Law Review. He worked as a community organizer, and practiced as a civil rights attorney in Chicago before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He also taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, Obama was elected to the Senate in November 2004. Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004.


As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, Obama helped create legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of federal funds. He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. During the 110th Congress, he helped create legislation regarding lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for U.S. military personnel returning from combat assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan

Early life and career

Main article: Early life and career of Barack Obama

Barack Obama was born at the Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu, Hawaii,[4][5] to Stanley Ann Dunham,[6] a White American from Wichita, Kansas,[7][8][9] and Barack Obama, Sr., a Luo from Nyang’oma Kogelo, Nyanza Province, Kenya. Obama's parents met in 1960 in a Russian language class at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where his father was a foreign student on scholarship.[10][11] The couple married on February 2, 1961.[12] Obama's parents separated when Obama was two years old, and they divorced in 1964.[11] Obama's father returned to Kenya and saw his son only once more before dying in an automobile accident in 1982.[13]


After her divorce, Dunham married Indonesian student Lolo Soetoro, who was attending college in Hawaii. When Soeharto, a military leader in Soetoro's home country, came to power in 1967, all students studying abroad were recalled and the family moved to Indonesia.[14] There Obama attended local schools in Jakarta, such as Besuki Public School and St. Francis of Assisi School, until he was ten years old.


He then returned to Honolulu to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Armour Dunham, while attending Punahou School from the fifth grade in 1971 until his graduation from high school in 1979.[15] Obama's mother returned to Hawaii in 1972 for five years, and then in 1977 went back to Indonesia, where she worked as an anthropological field worker. She stayed there most of the rest of her life, returning to Hawaii in 1994. She died of ovarian cancer in 1995.[16]


Right-to-left: Barack Obama and half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, with their mother Ann Dunham and grandfather Stanley Dunham, in Hawaii (early 1970s).Of his early childhood, Obama has recalled, "That my father looked nothing like the people around me — that he was black as pitch, my mother white as milk — barely registered in my mind."[17] In his 1995 memoir, he described his struggles as a young adult to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage.[18] He wrote that he used alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during his teenage years to "push questions of who I was out of my mind."[19] At the 2008 Civil Forum on the Presidency, Obama identified his high-school drug use as his "greatest moral failure."[20]


Some of his fellow students at Punahou School later told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that Obama was mature for his age, and that he sometimes attended college parties and other events in order to associate with African American students and military service people. Reflecting later on his formative years in Honolulu, Obama wrote: "The opportunity that Hawaii offered — to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect — became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear."[21]


Following high school, Obama moved to Los Angeles, where he studied at Occidental College for two years.[22] He then transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations.[23] Obama graduated with a B.A. from Columbia in 1983. He worked for a year at the Business International Corporation[24][25] and then at the New York Public Interest Research Group.[26][27]


After four years in New York City, Obama moved to Chicago, where he was hired as director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP), a church-based community organization originally comprising eight Catholic parishes in Greater Roseland (Roseland, West Pullman and Riverdale) on Chicago's far South Side. He worked there for three years from June 1985 to May 1988.[26][28] During his three years as the DCP's director, its staff grew from one to thirteen and its annual budget grew from $70,000 to $400,000. His achievements included helping set up a job training program, a college preparatory tutoring program, and a tenants' rights organization in Altgeld Gardens.[29] Obama also worked as a consultant and instructor for the Gamaliel Foundation, a community organizing institute.[30] In mid-1988, he traveled for the first time to Europe for three weeks and then for five weeks in Kenya, where he met many of his paternal relatives for the first time.[31]


Obama entered Harvard Law School in late 1988. He was selected as an editor of the Harvard Law Review at the end of his first year,[32] and president of the journal in his second year.[33] During his summers, he returned to Chicago where he worked as a summer associate at the law firms of Sidley & Austin in 1989 and Hopkins & Sutter in 1990.[34] After graduating with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) magna cum laude[35][36] from Harvard in 1991, he returned to Chicago.[32]


Obama's election as the first black president of the Harvard Law Review gained national media attention[33] and led to a publishing contract and advance for a book about race relations.[37] In an effort to recruit him to their faculty, the University of Chicago Law School provided Obama with a fellowship and an office to work on his book.[37] He originally planned to finish the book in one year, but it took much longer as the book evolved into a personal memoir. In order to work without interruptions, Obama and his wife, Michelle, traveled to Bali where he wrote for several months. The manuscript was finally published in mid-1995 as Dreams from My Father.[37]


From April to October 1992, Obama directed Illinois's Project Vote, a voter registration drive with a staff of ten and seven hundred volunteers; it achieved its goal of registering 150,000 of 400,000 unregistered African Americans in the state, and led to Crain's Chicago Business naming Obama to its 1993 list of "40 under Forty" powers to be.[38][39]


For twelve years, Obama served as a professor at the University of Chicago Law School teaching Constitutional Law. He was first classified as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996 and then as a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004.[40] He also joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a twelve-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development, where he was an associate for three years from 1993 to 1996, then of counsel from 1996 to 2004, with his law license becoming inactive in 2002.[26][41][42]


Obama was a founding member of the board of directors of Public Allies in 1992, resigning before his wife, Michelle, became the founding executive director of Public Allies Chicago in early 1993.[26][43] He served from 1994 to 2002 on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which in 1985 had been the first foundation to fund the Developing Communities Project, and also from 1994 to 2002 on the board of directors of the Joyce Foundation.[26] Obama served on the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge from 1995 to 2002, as founding president and chairman of the board of directors from 1995 to 1999.[26] He also served on the board of directors of the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, and the Lugenia Burns Hope Center.[26]


Political career


State legislator: 1997–2004

Main article: Illinois Senate career of Barack Obama

Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1996, succeeding State Senator Alice Palmer as Senator from Illinois's 13th District, which then spanned Chicago South Side neighborhoods from Hyde Park-Kenwood south to South Shore and west to Chicago Lawn.[44] Once elected, Obama gained bipartisan support for legislation reforming ethics and health care laws.[45] He sponsored a law increasing tax credits for low-income workers, negotiated welfare reform, and promoted increased subsidies for childcare.[46] In 2001, as co-chairman of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, Obama supported Republican Governor Ryan's payday loan regulations and predatory mortgage lending regulations aimed at averting home foreclosures.[47]


Obama was reelected to the Illinois Senate in 1998, defeating Republican Yesse Yehudah in the General Election, and reelected again in 2002.[48] In 2000, he lost a Democratic primary run for the U.S. House of Representatives to four-term incumbent Bobby Rush by a margin of two to one.[49][50]


In January 2003, Obama became chairman of the Illinois Senate's Health and Human Services Committee when Democrats, after a decade in the minority, regained a majority.[51] He sponsored and led unanimous, bipartisan passage of legislation to monitor racial profiling by requiring police to record the race of drivers they detained and legislation making Illinois the first state to mandate videotaping of homicide interrogations.[46][52] During his 2004 general election campaign for U.S. Senate, police representatives credited Obama for his active engagement with police organizations in enacting death penalty reforms.[53] Obama resigned from the Illinois Senate in November 2004 following his election to the U.S. Senate.[54]


2004 U.S. Senate campaign

See also: United States Senate election in Illinois, 2004

In mid-2002, Obama began considering a run for the U.S. Senate; he enlisted political strategist David Axelrod that fall and formally announced his candidacy in January 2003.[55] Decisions by Republican incumbent Peter Fitzgerald and his Democratic predecessor Carol Moseley Braun not to contest the race launched wide-open Democratic and Republican primary contests involving fifteen candidates.[56] Obama's candidacy was boosted by Axelrod's advertising campaign featuring images of the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington and an endorsement by the daughter of the late Paul Simon, former U.S. Senator for Illinois.[57] He received over 52% of the vote in the March 2004 primary, emerging 29% ahead of his nearest Democratic rival.[58]


In July 2004, Obama wrote and delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts.[59] After describing his maternal grandfather's experiences as a World War II veteran and a beneficiary of the New Deal's FHA and G.I. Bill programs, Obama spoke about changing the U.S. government's economic and social priorities. He questioned the Bush administration's management of the Iraq War and highlighted America's obligations to its soldiers. Drawing examples from U.S. history, he criticized heavily partisan views of the electorate and asked Americans to find unity in diversity, saying, "There is not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America."[60] Though it was not televised by the three major broadcast news networks, a combined 9.1 million viewers watching on PBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and C-SPAN saw Obama's speech, which was a highlight of the convention and confirmed his status as the Democratic Party's brightest new star.[61]


Obama's expected opponent in the general election, Republican primary winner Jack Ryan, withdrew from the race in June 2004.[62] Two months later and less than three months before Election Day, Alan Keyes accepted the Illinois Republican Party's nomination to replace Ryan.[63] A long-time resident of Maryland, Keyes established legal residency in Illinois with the nomination.[64] In the November 2004 general election, Obama received 70% of the vote to Keyes's 27%, the largest victory margin for a statewide race in Illinois history.[65]


U.S. Senator: 2005–2008

Main article: United States Senate career of Barack Obama

Obama was sworn in as a senator on January 4, 2005.[66] Obama was the fifth African-American Senator in U.S. history, and the third to have been popularly elected.[67] He was the only Senate member of the Congressional Black Caucus.[68] CQ Weekly, a nonpartisan publication, characterized him as a "loyal Democrat" based on analysis of all Senate votes in 2005–2007. The National Journal ranked him as the "most liberal" senator based on an assessment of selected votes during 2007; in 2005 he was ranked sixteenth most liberal, and in 2006 he was ranked tenth.[69][70] In 2008, ranked him as the eleventh most powerful Senator.[71] Obama announced on November 13, 2008 that he would resign his senate seat on November 16, 2008, before the start of the lame-duck session, to focus on his transition period for the presidency.[72][73] This enabled him to avoid the conflict of dual roles as President-elect and Senator in the lame duck session of Congress, which no sitting member of Congress had faced since Warren Harding.[74]



See also: List of bills sponsored by Barack Obama in the United States Senate


Senate bill sponsors Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Obama discussing the Coburn–Obama Transparency Act.[75]Obama voted in favor of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and cosponsored the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act.[76] In September 2006, Obama supported a related bill, the Secure Fence Act.[77] Obama introduced two initiatives bearing his name: Lugar–Obama, which expanded the Nunn–Lugar cooperative threat reduction concept to conventional weapons,[78] and the Coburn–Obama Transparency Act, which authorized the establishment of, a web search engine on federal spending.[79] On June 3, 2008, Senator Obama, along with Senators Thomas R. Carper, Tom Coburn, and John McCain, introduced follow-up legislation: Strengthening Transparency and Accountability in Federal Spending Act of 2008.[80]


Obama sponsored legislation that would have required nuclear plant owners to notify state and local authorities of radioactive leaks, but the bill failed to pass in the full Senate after being heavily modified in committee.[81] Obama is not hostile to Tort reform and voted for the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 which grants immunity from civil liability to telecommunications companies complicit with NSA warrantless wiretapping operations.[82]


In December 2006, President Bush signed into law the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act, marking the first federal legislation to be enacted with Obama as its primary sponsor.[83] In January 2007, Obama and Senator Feingold introduced a corporate jet provision to the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, which was signed into law in September 2007.[84] Obama also introduced Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, a bill to criminalize deceptive practices in federal elections[85] and the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007,[86] neither of which have been signed into law.


Obama and U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) visit a Russian mobile launch missile dismantling facility in August 2005.[87]Later in 2007, Obama sponsored an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act adding safeguards for personality disorder military discharges.[88] This amendment passed the full Senate in the spring of 2008.[89] He sponsored the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act supporting divestment of state pension funds from Iran's oil and gas industry, which has not passed committee, and co-sponsored legislation to reduce risks of nuclear terrorism.[90][91] Obama also sponsored a Senate amendment to the State Children's Health Insurance Program providing one year of job protection for family members caring for soldiers with combat-related injuries.[92]



Obama held assignments on the Senate Committees for Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works and Veterans' Affairs through December 2006.[93] In January 2007, he left the Environment and Public Works committee and took additional assignments with Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.[94] He also became Chairman of the Senate's subcommittee on European Affairs.[95] As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Obama made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. He met with Mahmoud Abbas before he became President of the Palestinian Authority, and gave a speech at the University of Nairobi condemning corruption in the Kenyan government.[96][97][98][99]


2008 Presidential campaign

Main articles: Barack Obama presidential primary campaign, 2008 and Barack Obama presidential campaign, 2008

Wikinews has related news: Barack Obama elected 44th President of the United States

On February 10, 2007, Obama announced his candidacy for President of the United States in front of the Old State Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois.[100][101] The choice of the announcement site was symbolic because it was also where Abraham Lincoln delivered his historic "House Divided" speech in 1858.[102] Throughout the campaign, Obama emphasized the issues of rapidly ending the Iraq War, increasing energy independence, and providing universal health care.[103]


Obama stands on stage with his wife and two daughters just before announcing his presidential candidacy in Springfield, Illinois, Feb. 10, 2007.During both the primary process and the general election, Obama's campaign set numerous fundraising records, particularly in the quantity of small donations.[104][105][106] On June 19, Obama became the first major-party presidential candidate to turn down public financing in the general election since the system was created in 1976.[107]


A large number of candidates initially entered the Democratic Party presidential primaries. After a few initial contests, the field narrowed to a contest between Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton, with each winning some states and the race remaining close throughout the primary process.[108][109][110][111] On May 31, the Democratic National Committee agreed to seat all of the disputed Michigan and Florida delegates at the national convention, each with a half-vote, narrowing Obama's delegate lead.[112] On June 3, with all states counted, Obama passed the threshold to become the presumptive nominee.[113][114] On that day, he gave a victory speech in St. Paul, Minnesota. Clinton suspended her campaign and endorsed him on June 7.[115] From that point on, he campaigned for the general election race against Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee.


On August 23, 2008, Obama announced that he had selected Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate.[116]


Obama delivers his presidential election victory speech.At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, Obama's former rival Hillary Clinton gave a speech in support of Obama's candidacy and later called for Obama to be nominated by acclamation as the Democratic presidential candidate.[117][118] On August 28, Obama delivered a speech to 84,000 supporters in Denver. During the speech, which was viewed by over 38 million people worldwide, he accepted his party's nomination and presented his policy goals.[119][120]


After McCain was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate, there were three presidential debates between Obama and McCain in September and October 2008.[121][122] In November, Obama won the presidency with 53% of the popular vote and a wide electoral college margin. His election sparked street celebrations in numerous cities in the United States[123] and abroad.


Election victory

Main article: Presidential transition of Barack Obama


President-elect Obama meets with President George W. Bush in the Oval Office, November 10, 2008.On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama defeated John McCain in the general election with 365 electoral votes to McCain's 173[124] and became the first African American to be elected President of the United States.[125][126][127][128] In his victory speech, delivered before a crowd of hundreds of thousands of his supporters in Chicago's Grant Park, Obama proclaimed that "change has come to America".[129]


On January 8, 2009, the joint session of the U.S. Congress met to certify the votes of the Electoral College for the 2008 presidential election. Based on the results of the electoral vote count, Barack Obama was declared to have been elected President of the United States and Joseph Biden was declared to have been elected Vice President of the United States.[130]



Main article: Presidency of Barack Obama

The inauguration of Barack Obama as the forty-fourth President, and Joe Biden as Vice President, took place on January 20, 2009. The theme of the inauguration was "A New Birth of Freedom," commemorating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln.[131]


In his first few days in office, Obama issued executive orders and presidential memoranda reversing President Bush's ban on federal funding to foreign establishments that allow abortions (known as the Global Gag Rule),[132] and changed procedures to promote disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act,[133] directing the U.S. military to develop plans to withdraw troops from Iraq,[134] and reducing the secrecy given to presidential records,[135] and closing Guantanamo Bay detention camp "as soon as practicable and no later than" January 2010, and "Immediate Review of All Guantánamo Detentions".


Political positions

Main article: Political positions of Barack Obama

A method that some political scientists use for gauging ideology is to compare the annual ratings by the Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) with the ratings by the American Conservative Union (ACU).[136] Based on his years in Congress, Obama has a lifetime average conservative rating of 7.67% from the ACU,[137] and a lifetime average liberal rating of 90% from the ADA.[138]


Obama campaigning in Abington, Pennsylvania, October 2008.Obama was an early opponent of the Bush administration's policies on Iraq.[139] On October 2, 2002, the day President George W. Bush and Congress agreed on the joint resolution authorizing the Iraq War,[140] Obama addressed the first high-profile Chicago anti-Iraq War rally in Federal Plaza,[141] speaking out against the war.[142][143] On March 16, 2003, the day Bush issued his 48-hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq before the U.S. invasion of Iraq,[144] Obama addressed the largest Chicago anti-Iraq War rally to date in Daley Plaza and told the crowd that "it's not too late" to stop the war.[145] Although Obama had previously said he wanted all the U.S. troops out of Iraq within 16 months of becoming President, after he won the primary, he said he might "refine" that promise.[146]


Obama stated that if elected he would enact budget cuts in the range of tens of billions of dollars, stop investing in "unproven" missile defense systems, not "weaponize" space, "slow development of Future Combat Systems," and work towards eliminating all nuclear weapons. Obama favors ending development of new nuclear weapons, reducing the current U.S. nuclear stockpile, enacting a global ban on production of fissile material, and seeking negotiations with Russia in order to take ICBMs off high alert status.[147]


In November 2006, Obama called for a "phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq" and an opening of diplomatic dialogue with Syria and Iran.[148] In a March 2007 speech to AIPAC, a pro-Israel lobby, he said that the primary way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is through talks and diplomacy, although he did not rule out military action.[149] Obama has indicated that he would engage in "direct presidential diplomacy" with Iran without preconditions.[150][151][152] Detailing his strategy for fighting global terrorism in August 2007, Obama said "it was a terrible mistake to fail to act" against a 2005 meeting of al-Qaeda leaders that U.S. intelligence had confirmed to be taking place in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. He said that as president he would not miss a similar opportunity, even without the support of the Pakistani government.[153]


In a December 2005, Washington Post opinion column, and at the Save Darfur rally in April 2006, Obama called for more assertive action to oppose genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.[154] He has divested $180,000 in personal holdings of Sudan-related stock, and has urged divestment from companies doing business in Iran.[155] In the July–August 2007 issue of Foreign Affairs, Obama called for an outward looking post-Iraq War foreign policy and the renewal of American military, diplomatic, and moral leadership in the world. Saying that "we can neither retreat from the world nor try to bully it into submission," he called on Americans to "lead the world, by deed and by example."[156]


Obama speaking at a rally at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.In economic affairs, in April 2005, he defended the New Deal social welfare policies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and opposed Republican proposals to establish private accounts for Social Security.[157] In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Obama spoke out against government indifference to growing economic class divisions, calling on both political parties to take action to restore the social safety net for the poor.[158] Shortly before announcing his presidential campaign, Obama said he supports universal health care in the United States.[159] Obama proposes to reward teachers for performance from traditional merit pay systems, assuring unions that changes would be pursued through the collective bargaining process.[160]


In September 2007, he blamed special interests for distorting the U.S. tax code.[161] His plan would eliminate taxes for senior citizens with incomes of less than $50,000 a year, repeal income tax cuts for those making over $250,000 as well as the capital gains and dividends tax cut,[162] close corporate tax loopholes, lift the income cap on Social Security taxes, restrict offshore tax havens, and simplify filing of income tax returns by pre-filling wage and bank information already collected by the IRS.[163] Announcing his presidential campaign's energy plan in October 2007, Obama proposed a cap and trade auction system to restrict carbon emissions and a ten year program of investments in new energy sources to reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil.[164] Obama proposed that all pollution credits must be auctioned, with no grandfathering of credits for oil and gas companies, and the spending of the revenue obtained on energy development and economic transition costs.[165]


Obama has encouraged Democrats to reach out to evangelicals and other religious groups.[166] In December 2006, he joined Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) at the "Global Summit on AIDS and the Church" organized by church leaders Kay and Rick Warren.[167] Together with Warren and Brownback, Obama took an HIV test, as he had done in Kenya less than four months earlier.[168] He encouraged "others in public life to do the same" and not be ashamed of it.[169] Addressing over 8,000 United Church of Christ members in June 2007, Obama challenged "so-called leaders of the Christian Right" for being "all too eager to exploit what divides us."[170]


Family and personal life

Main articles: Early life and career of Barack Obama and Family of Barack Obama


Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama.In June 1989, Obama met Michelle Robinson, who later became his wife, when he was employed as a summer associate at the Chicago law firm of Sidley Austin.[171] Assigned for three months as Obama's adviser at the firm, Robinson joined him at group social functions, but declined his initial requests to date.[172] They began dating later that summer, became engaged in 1991, and were married on October 3, 1992.[173] The couple's first daughter, Malia Ann, was born in 1998,[174] followed by a second daughter, Natasha ("Sasha"), in 2001.[175] Because of Michelle Obama's employment with the University of Chicago, the Obama daughters attended the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. When they moved to Washington, D.C., in January 2009, the girls started at the private Sidwell Friends School.[176]


Obama was known as "Barry" in his youth, but asked to be addressed with his given name during his college years.[177]


Applying the proceeds of a book deal, in 2005 the family moved from a Hyde Park, Chicago condominium to their current $1.6 million house in neighboring Kenwood.[178] The purchase of an adjacent lot and sale of part of it to Obama by the wife of developer and friend Tony Rezko attracted media attention because of Rezko's indictment and subsequent conviction on political corruption charges that were unrelated to Obama.[179][180]


In December 2007, Money magazine estimated the Obama family's net worth at $1.3 million.[181] Their 2007 tax return showed a household income of $4.2 million—up from about $1 million in 2006 and $1.6 million in 2005—mostly from sales of his books.[182]


Obama playing basketball with U.S. military at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti in 2006.[183]In a 2006 interview, Obama highlighted the diversity of his extended family. "Michelle will tell you that when we get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving, it's like a little mini-United Nations." he said. "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher."[184] Obama has seven half-siblings from his Kenyan father's family, six of them living, and a half-sister with whom he was raised, Maya Soetoro-Ng, the daughter of his mother and her Indonesian second husband.[185] Obama's mother was survived by her Kansas-born mother, Madelyn Dunham[186] until her death on November 2, 2008, just before the presidential election.[187] In Dreams from My Father, Obama ties his mother's family history to possible Native American ancestors and distant relatives of Jefferson Davis, president of the southern Confederacy during the American Civil War.[188] Obama's maternal and paternal grandfathers fought in World War II. Obama's great-uncle served in the 89th Division that overran Ohrdruf,[189] the first Nazi camp liberated by U.S. troops.[190]


Obama plays basketball, a sport he participated in as a member of his high school's varsity team.[191] He is an avid sports fan. Obama follows the Chicago Bears, Chicago White Sox, Chicago Bulls and West Ham United F.C.[192][193][194][195] While he has never been a heavy smoker, Obama has tried to quit smoking several times, including a well-publicized and ongoing effort which he began before launching his presidential campaign.[196] Obama has said he will not smoke in the White House.[197]


Obama is a Protestant Christian whose religious views have evolved in his adult life. In The Audacity of Hope, Obama writes that he "was not raised in a religious household." He describes his mother, raised by non-religious parents (whom Obama has specified elsewhere as "non-practicing Methodists and Baptists") to be detached from religion, yet "in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I have ever known." He describes his father as "raised a Muslim," but a "confirmed atheist" by the time his parents met, and his stepfather as "a man who saw religion as not particularly useful." In the book, Obama explains how, through working with black churches as a community organizer while in his twenties, he came to understand "the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change."[198][199] He was baptized at the Trinity United Church of Christ in 1988 and was an active member there for two decades.[200][201]


Besides his native English, Obama speaks Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia), at least on a colloquial level, which he learned during his four childhood years in Jakarta.[202] After the APEC summit in November 2008, Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono related a telephone conversation with Obama in Indonesian to Indonesian media. Obama had told Yudhoyono that he missed Indonesian food like Nasi Goreng, Bakso or Rambutan.[203]


Cultural and political image

Main article: Public image of Barack Obama

With his black Kenyan father and white American mother, his upbringing in Honolulu and Jakarta, and his Ivy League education, Obama's early life experiences differ markedly from those of African-American politicians who launched their careers in the 1960s through participation in the civil rights movement.[204] Expressing puzzlement over questions about whether he is "black enough", Obama told an August 2007 meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists that the debate is not about his physical appearance or his record on issues of concern to black voters. Obama said that "we're still locked in this notion that if you appeal to white folks then there must be something wrong."[205]


Echoing the inaugural address of John F. Kennedy, Obama acknowledged his youthful image in an October 2007 campaign speech, saying: "I wouldn't be here if, time and again, the torch had not been passed to a new generation."[206] A popular catch phrase distilled the concept: "Rosa sat so Martin could walk; Martin walked so Obama could run; Obama is running so our children can fly."[207]


From left: Presidents George H. W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter meet in the Oval Office on January 7, 2009.Obama has been praised as a master of oratory on par with other renowned speakers in the past such as Martin Luther King, Jr.[208][209] His "Yes We Can" speech, which artists independently set to music in a video produced by, was viewed by 10 million people on YouTube in the first month,[210] and received an Emmy Award.[211] University of Virginia professor Jonathan Haidt researched the effectiveness of Obama's public speaking and concluded that part of his excellence is because the politician is adept at inspiring the emotion of elevation, the desire to act morally and do good for others.[212] Obama used these communication skills in a series of weekly internet video addresses during his pre-inauguration transition period;[213] he has suggested he will make a series of broadcast and internet addresses similar to Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous fireside chats throughout his term as president to explain his policies and actions.[214]


Many commentators mentioned Obama's international appeal as a defining factor for his public image.[215] Not only did several polls show strong support for him in other countries,[216] but Obama also established close relationships with prominent foreign politicians and elected officials even before his presidential candidacy, notably with then incumbent British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whom he met in London in 2005,[217] with Italy's Democratic Party leader and then Mayor of Rome Walter Veltroni, who visited Obama's Senate office in 2005,[218] and with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who also visited him in Washington in 2006.[219]


Obama won Best Spoken Word Album Grammy Awards for abridged audiobook versions of both of his books; for Dreams from My Father in February 2006 and for The Audacity of Hope in February 2008.[220]


In December 2008, Time magazine named Barack Obama as its Person of the Year for his historic candidacy and election, which it described as "the steady march of seemingly impossible accomplishments."[221]



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On eid we did Makra trek in 3 days (Mon-wed). This was our route


Shogran-sari-paye-Makra-Dhari/Kholian/Sanghar wali galli-tehthri-Ziarat-Danna peak-Makri-jhamara-ghena-rajpian-pind-batal-bishash-ghori


To be exact we wanted to go to bheri but our guide mistakenly took here. We did trek to point called pind. Jeep are available on point Jhamara but due to eid none was running, So we had to trek for 3 hours to reach to rajpian, a jeep was standing there but was asking two way fare (rs2000) so we trek further to point pind; luckily one jeep came and we boarded on it (@rs 75 per head).

if someone want to attempt it from muzaffarabad then one can easily reach to Rajpian through bus from muzaffarabad at 80 rs only or through jeep from ghouri at around 100rs (its actually less than 100rs) per head. One can take jeep to Jhamara from rajpian and then its trek possibly with one camp to top of Makra. Water is present at places called makri & tethri Its very steep trek from jhamara onward to Makra but as we were descended so it was comfortable enough.


Only danger is a good 1 hour piece of trek just near makra top. It’s a narrow ridge with over 100m fall on each side, covered with boulders, locals called it as dhari.


Long Version (Its incomplete and has lot grammatical erros, I dont plan to complete it in near future)


In this longer version I will try to make you feel as you would be travelling with us


Thursday 16th August

Ali called our mutual friend and they will be going to Kalam valley on Eid holidays, Ali will be getting booking done.


Friday 17th August 2:55 pm

I received a message from my brother Ali that he has discussed with our mutual friend and they have cancelled their plan to kalam and now if Eid will be on Sunday then they will be going to Makra otherwise to Bairan Galli.


Friday 17th August Evening

Ali asked me to join them I refused as I already had my leaves approved for neelum valley and was not in mood to destroy my Eid holidays.


Saturday 18th August Evening

Moon was not sighted, Eid will be on Monday.

So as per Ali message he will be going to Bheeran Galli to where I was least interested to go so Ali decides to go to Makra. I said I can only join it if you end up in Kashmir side as I have already attempted it twice and has failed both the time to reach summit of Makra so if I go there then I want to finish the whole trek. So I requested our family to let us sacrifice our eid. The immediate answer we got was that people spent lot of money to reach home on eid and you are asking to leave on eid. Then the politician in me aroused and I replied that for guy’s eid remain till the eid prayer after it what else we have to do other then to sleep, sleep & sleep and if we are going that far atleast we should spend proper time otherwise its like race not enjoyment. Any ways our parent agreed to let us go on Chand raat. We immediately messaged to our mutual friend about plan but due to some reason he pulled out. Now the issue was serious as I never had planned a trek outside Lahore of my own. So being the more experienced in trekking as of my brother the responsibility of all the planning came on me. We immediately called Niazi, Rahber, Abdullah travels for booking to manshera but none of them picked our phone. Ali was in favor that we would go to Naizi adda on chand raat and we will find some thing.


After few tries we got connected with skyways and we got our booking done for 11 pm Sunday night but we need to reach till 10 pm to get booking confirmed. Booking with skyways was a blessing in disguise; why so? I will explain it shortly.


After getting booking done I called my friend Nadir Khan in Manshera. I first met Nadir in April 2011 when we joined together to the Paya trek in full snow and later we did Musa ka Musalla.


Nadir these days run a tour operating company (Travel Green Guide & Tours) specializes in trekking. If any body is interested in managing tour to any where in north then he can be reached at


Any ways my contact with Nadir was as my friend not the owner of Travel Green Guide & Tours. We asked him about the availability of transport & porters on Eid day. And from his contacts he quickly arranged it.


Sunday 19th August, 2012 - 30th Ramdan

I called few of my friends for joining us but all of them refused.

7:30 PM we planned to wear our Eid clothes but they were not ready yet. Some how we got them till 8 pm and left home at sharp 8:30 PM

On way to skyways terminal we stopped at adventure shop to buy a pair of gaiters. Here I called Nadir that we have left home for Manshera and that was the last call on that date as almost all mobile networks were shutdown over some security issues.


We reached Skyways terminal at 9:40 pm. The booking clerk surprising asked for ID card. It was new thing for us that all buses leaving on Motor way must list down the ID cards of each & every passenger as that sheet need to be handed over to motorway police at movie point. If you are travelling in a group then listing the ID card of atleast one member was mandatory.


In waiting room we met a guy from Karachi who works in finance department of PSO. He left Karachi a day before at 10 pm. He told us that with great difficulty and by changing 3-4 vehicles he reached Lahore. His booking was in Rahber but they cancelled their “flight” due to shortage of passengers and then he bought ticket of Niazi and they also cancelled their “flight” due to shortage of passengers and now he has ticket of skyways and passengers seems to be on low on it too. He must want to reach to Abbott abad to celebrate eid with his in-laws. Readers of this blog must be wondering that why I am mentioning about this person. Actually this was the first time I met a person who was injured in a terrorist attack. I do have met person who have lost their dear ones in attacks but this was the first time I met a person who narrowly escaped death with few injuries. He was in the rally of Benazir Bhutto in Karachi on October 18, 2007 when some bomb exploded and 150+ people lost their lives. He mentioned that his arm was injured in that attack. And he could even feel the voice of that blast even after two years. He mentioned that attack and the behavior of the victims have made him fearless. He now a days travel to Quetta for job related activities without any fear. He mentioned of a guy who lost his leg in the blast but he stood on one leg and tried to help the victims in whatever way he could.


Every body was leaving for their home to celebrate eid and it felt me really bad to miss the very first eid not with family.


10:30 pm we asked skyways authorities to load our luggage but they refused and said it will be only done 15 minutes before the departure time.


10:45 pm our ruck sack was loaded.

11:00 pm we boarded on bus ad bus was suppose to leave Lahore at 11:00 pm

11:30 pm still no sign of bus being moving. Bus was around 80 % filled at 11:00 pm and I thought might be they are waiting for it to be get 100 % filled but even when it was 100 % filled it was not leaving. Our Karachi mate was worried the most as he must want to reach to abbotabad. Few passengers went to booking office and told us shocking thing that driver is not available. He went to his home in Lahore but as mobile phones have stopped working so he can’t be contacted.


Booking office told us that two guys have gone to his home on taxi to wake him up and bring him to bus stand. But after few minutes they arrived with empty hands.


They send another guy to his home. Who also came back empty handed. The story which they told us that his room is at third floor the guy climbed up to his room but was not able to wake him up.


Monday 20th august 12:10 am

I was simply intolerable to me. I asked for location of complaint office to lodge my protest and it resulted only in a laugh from co passengers.

I went to the booking office that cancel our ticket and refund our money we will celebrate Eid with our family as it’s no way that you are letting us wait for more than hour and there is no sign that whether driver will come or not. They initially ensured me that driver has arrived and sitting in waiting room that simply fuelled me up and broke that news among passengers which also fuelled them up and most of them moved me to booking office to treat them harshly. They referred me to contact their manager. I simply asked him to cancel our ticket and refund our money as this is high un professional way for such a big name. Manger mentioned that driver is still not here. Here the manager told me a secret that skyways have agreement with individual owners of busses. The bus owners hare name of skyways and share profit with skyways. And that bus whose number was probably 5411 was also having its driver as its owner who according to the manager is a very responsible person but he was unable to explain why he is not coming. He said he don’t have any spare driver and he is trying every thing that you could celebrate Eid with your families. I was already feeling a little guilty of not celebrating Eid at home and his statement added more to it. Any ways I asked him that we cant wait here all the night to wait for the driver to come back and you must define a cut off time after which you will take the tickets back. He said a third team has gone to wake him up so give him 15 minutes. In the meantime few passengers went to other bus stands but no bus was leaving for manshera. Only option was to leave for Islamabad. Some passengers went further to book a private van but I was not interested in that and had already started to think that how happy our family will be to know that we have returned back to celebrate Eid with them.


The Karachi guy said to us that we say bad about MQM but if any bus would have done that in Karachi then they would have surely have burned the bus to ashes till now. According to him they are extremely good in that. I avoid any sort of political discussion on travel so I ignored his statement with a smile & nod of head in agreeing to him.


12:35 am Driver arrived and bus started.


We were about to enter to motorway when a guy in police uniform asked to board on but driver assistant refuse to board him saying that we don’t take passengers who drop on way. Just after 20meters we were stopped by police at check post, who were apparently angry for not giving lift to police man. They asked to open the bus they will check each and every thing. Driver assistant simply refused to do so and said bus is already checked at bus stand and he will not open the bus to be checked again. On it police got fuelled up and closed check post and said ok then they won’t let us go and forced to stand the bus on side of the road.


Driver assistant was forced to stop the bus and open it for checking. If police would have tried to check it thoroughly it could easily have taken an hour. Police gave an argument that on bus pass it was written that departure time is 11 pm then why the bus is leaving at 12:45 am.


All the passengers who were already quite angry got down from bus and a clash was expected between police & the passengers. On seeing passengers getting down, police cleared the bus with in 2 minutes. And we crossed check post.


Before we could enter the motor way the driver stopped the bus to fill diesel. Complete 123 liters was filled in the bus and we entered motorway at around 1 am.


At movie point we again stopped for movie and to handover sheet of id card number of passengers. Now a day it’s extremely important for all of us to carry their NIC on travelling outside Lahore. As some passenger didn’t showed their ID card at time of booking so it took further 10 minutes to fill the list.


Journey finally started. The limit on motorway for bus is 110kph but our driver was driving at 135 kph to cover up the time. And considering that he was forced to wake up from sleep it could have turned to be fatal but Alhamdulillah no damage done.


Just after few minutes we left movie point the passengers started shouting “ooye TV la ooye”. I uttered lightly for God sake let us sleep but naqar khanay main 'totti' ki awaz kaun sunay ga.


So a movie was played. Movie name was Badal and cast included booby deol and rani mukher jee. The movie was made in 2000 and its print quality was also showing that it too old. Surprisingly that movie have has remarkable resemblance to our situation in Waziristan & Baluchistan, where people are killed either by government support or by government silence which has led a rebellion to arise among our own people whose family member were killed in drone attacks or kidnapped by unknown people. Any ways Allah Allah ker k movie ended at around 4:30 am. I do tried to sleep during the movie but as I mentioned that movie has very old print and was played on VCR so after certain time the irritating high volume voice start appearing from it. These voices were so annoying that it was impossible for any human to remain sleep. Bus stopped at hasan abdal for fajar prayer. Driver told us that he has covered a lot of time by moving fast.

As the bus started I smelled some one smoking. Thankfully driver assistant was vigilant and asked the passengers to throw away the cigarette but passenger simply refused by saying k “mainy yeh muft nahi liya”. It was probably not a normal cigarette. Any ways on protest of other passengers he throwed it away and I was finally able to take a nap. I awaked up after an hour when we have crossed abottabad. I quickly messaged nadir that we are near.


7:10 am we reached Manshera. Niazi has created a bus stand, skyways busses also stands there. We were supposed to offer Eid prayer with Nadir but we got late to reach manshera. I called nadir he was already in masjid for Eid. So we have to find some masjid on our own for Eid prayer but issue was that we were carrying ruck sacks, gas cylinders with us. With them we can’t offer a prayer or with them police would not have allowed us to enter any masjid. Skyways offered us that we could place our stuff in waiting room but we were not confident that it will be safe or not. In short it was getting obvious that we won’t be able to offer Eid prayer. I chalked out a plan that one of us should stay with the luggage and other person should offer Eid. In this way atleast one of us will get that opportunity of Eid prayer which has lot of blessings according various ahadees Sharifs.


The driver of our bus who belongs to Lahore changed his cloths to Eid dress which he carried all the way. He was going to offer Eid prayer. We requested him to please place our luggage in the bus and lock it, which he happily did and we moved with him for Eid prayer.


On ablution area a lot of Lotas were present. For a person living in Lahore that’s kindly a strange & uncomfortable way of doing ablution but every area has its own ways.


8:00 am Eid namaz was offered.

8:15 am Imam sb started post namaz dua and that was such a long dua that we literally started praying k ya allahi yeh dua khatam kerwa dey. Imam sb was repeating every dua with all past, present & future tense. Any ways after 17 minutes the longest dua of my life time ended and we were freed to greet Eid.


That greeting started in a strange fashion as in Lahore we use to hug three times and make the chest meet but in manshera they hug for only once and that hug only include touching of shoulders mainly. Now we were trying to take three hugs but people were going away with one. That was looking so much funny but we quickly understand their custom so started to ‘do at Rome as the Romans do’ but we were not enjoying much until we met the bus driver and then we hugged in lahori style to really feel like meeting Eid.


Nevertheless it was the most rememberable Eid for us, as we moved to masjid where no body knows us. To whom ever we met & greeted it was probably our first and last greetings with them and we may never be able meet them. It does help us realize the global nature of Islam.


8:45 am we reached back to bus stand and got connected with Nadir.

9:20 am Nadir arrived, It was good to know that his office is present in front of that stand. It was indeed very kind of him that he came to us on Eid day. He invited us for tea, breakfast at his home but we were already late. Heavy rain also arrived there.


Nadir arranged a taxi for us for rs 2000 till shogran. On normal days they take around 1500 rs but on Eid day that was the best we could bargain.


Our driver Haji nazeer took us to tire workshop he said his reserve tires are punctured. He took around 30 mins to get tired punctured. We took gourmet pizza with us. We started eating it but it was gone bad. So have to through it away.


Our driver haji nazeer

A man in his early forties, small beard, applied colored on beard to look black, lean face, height around 5 feet 7 inch, wheetish color, head covered with a cap, runs a green alto with bigger tires and I wish to never ever meet him again.

He talks & talks & talks as he was born only to talk & talk. To be exact he had a map of northern areas of Pakistan. And whether he know the way or not, it’s was like mandatory for him to tell us about it. We were not willing to stop on the way as were already late but he has to stop to force us to take pictures at exact same spot where we have taken pics on almost every trip. Secondly he was of “big heart” so he need to stop to help his fellow taxi driver whose cars were stopped in heavy rain regardless of considering that we were getting late.

He mentioned that it was all water on road due to heavy rain and a Suzuki cabin car went into river due hay rain and a person ahs lost his live. We do believe him on this as damage on road was quite obvious.


We wanted to take some items from the balakot but on reaching balakot not a single shop were open due to Eid. So we carried on. He was also a great fan of Lahore hotel in shogran and it was his utmost desire to let us stay there and he was not ready to listen that we are here for camping and trekking. In past I have seen Lahore hotel. It’s a small descent hotel with affordable price but we were not going there for hotelling. To our bad luck that our host Mustaq didn’t picked our phone and some mist also came over. It haji sb another point weather is very bad, you wont find you way, you will get yourself killed, I am elder, you must respect opinion of elder. So stay in Lahore hotel today, go for hike tomorrow. We refused and he was like Lahore hotel, Lahore hotel, and Lahore hotel. It was like he will get us a cheap room for good sake stay for one night at Lahore hotel.

We stopped at kawai. I asked a hotel to cook 15 roti for us which we would pack and carry with us for our camping ahead. Thankfully we got connected to Mustaq and he said porter is waiting for us at hotel Pine Park. Despite of telling all that to haji sb he was again on the same tune of Lahore hotel.


Those who know me know that very well that I use to remain quite most of the time but that man ahhhhhhh!


1:00 pm

As soon as we were dropped at shogran we gave him his 2000 rs and ran away.


Regardless of his talkative nature and his strong desire to force us to stay at Lahore hotel, I must admit that he was a super excellent driver who know about each and every pit on the road. And his car was better then many.



Our porter was safi ud din. Our first look was a very bad one as his one hand was broken and was heavily strapped so he could only use one hand. His hand was broken in some fight. As we have already have booked him in advance and were extremely late and he was waiting for us for atleast 1 hour so we were in no position to refuse him.


We quickly changed our clothes and decided to use hotel pine park washrooms but they were extremely dirty so we just went without using toilet or washrooms.



We met Richard at shogran, He hails from UK and had recently done the shimshal pass and was now willing to do darkhot pass but his flight to chitral was cancelled due to bad weather and as a plan b he came to shogran. Unfortunately he didn’t know any thing about that area and when we asked him that what he will be looking in that area he mentioned he will go to near by villages and will see the life of villagers. Despite of the fact we were getting late we do gave him a short summary of the area and the main things to visit in shogran & naran region. We invited him to do Makra with us and descend on to Kashmir side but as he was on car parked at shogran, so we atleast invited him to Makra. He was staying at pine park hotel. We mentioned him that we will be on trek by sun rise so he should reach to Paya at that time on jeep. As a precaution that he may not be able to catch us, we explained his guide that to take him to Makra next day.


We started our trek. I intend to do camping at Paya. Ali decided to carry his own ruck sack whereas I gave me rucksack to the safi. Some local kids met us. They also showed willingness to join us to makra tomorrow.


Within 20 minutes after body start complaining about the lack of exercise. We went straight after Ramadan and doing trek quickly after the Ramadan was expected to create issues. After nearly 45 minutes into the trek; the body reduced complaining. I always believe that treks are done more with mental fitness than physical fitness so that’s why we went on it without any exercise. In normal days whenever we plan a trek we do start a gentle walk few days before start of trek but this time we were not able to do so. Any ways the local kids who met us showed gesture to carry our water bottles to some midway point on sari. Here we did two mistakes.

1- Our daypacks + dates were in the ruck sack which was with the porter and he was going through the shortcuts and was so much far away that even our full voice can’t be heard by him.

2- Our water bottles were with the local kids and they were also fond of shortcuts so they also left us. Now they also left us.

In my previous visits to sari, there use to be 2-3 water sources on way up but at this time of the year their was not a single “chasma” as they were all dried up.


Although the guy with the water bottles went far ahead but a few of his colleagues were moving with us. One of them rushed ahead and shouted his colleague to stop to stop water bottles on the jeep trek on which we were moving. What we later learned was that the village of those kids was near and they handed water bottles to our potter and went away. We took one turn & another turn but still the porter was far away from us. Thirst was getting like that as we haven’t drunk any thing for days. For me water and dates are like fuel of the body. It was getting difficult for us to move forward without water. Our feet were slightly dangling & head was whirling. We were wearing water proof clothes but these clothes are water proof from outside, it has as inner lining of probably cotton and that lining was all wet due to sweating. Good thing was that we could now hear our porter from behind the trees but we were not sure how far he was. As I was without any ruck sack so Ali sat down I went to fetch water from potter, I would have hardly taken 20 steps when I saw our porter (safi) coming back with a bottle of water. Bottle was only 30% filled but it does help us to return back to our senses. These were the bottles we bought from the filling station which around 30 minutes before balakot and it turned out to be a good decision as no shop was open in shogran, kiwai or balakot having mineral water bottles. Any ways while coming back to us our porter did a mistake.


He left our ruck sack which was containing the most important items like, food, camp on the road. He was around 5 minutes away from the point from where he could see the ruck sack. Due to Eid there were a very few people on the trek. Also we were so much engulfed with the thirst that at that moment we didn’t thought about that someone could take away the bag but on return we do met a group who suffered from almost the same type of loss. I will explain that particular incident later on the travel log.


Any ways the bottle which safi bought was only 30 % filled so as asked him that to drop another water bottle on way so as when we move up we can pick it up. It resolved our water problem till sari.


We met three guys from Karachi they were coming back from sari. One was having a guitar, we would have loved to listen to him playing guitar but unfortunately the string of it was broken. They mentioned they are coming back from makra top but considering the timings they were mentioning I was pretty sure they went to the Makra which 95 % mistake as to be Makra. Actual Makra is far behind the real makra. They were having sleeping bags only and were willing to do more trekking. Ali suggested them to do the Mahandri to Ansoo Lake and then through saran pass reach batakundi. We referred them to our friend Nadir and later in the trek we do learned that they successfully did Ansoo lake trek from mahandri but they did not went on to saran pass to reach batakundi & instead returned back through saif ul malook.


I been to sari twice before, once I went on jeep and other time I went in good 3-4 feet snow on ROAD. You might be wondering that why I wrote the ROAD in caps. The reason is that I was in search of point where we did a shortcut on our return to sari in snow. One of member got his foot strangled in the bush. He fell into soft snow. On digging for about 4-5 feet’s we learned that his foot was actually engulfed in a tree top which was fully covered in snow. So at that time on road there was only 3-4 feet of snow but on mountain slides it was good 12-15 feet of snow. The sides of mountain where sun does not directly reach do melt a little late so that why when we went there in April 2011 we encountered so much snow. That point was basically the half way mark to sari. Throughout my way to sari was trying to find only two point one that I just mentioned and other was a 60 degree straight height but issue was that in snow and after snow melts it’s very difficult to recognize the same points.


Almost on every turn I get that feeling that just one more turn and we will that gradual ascend but it was not coming. Even then since I started trekking this thing do work that by saying to yourself that only 15 minutes more. That’s a separate thing that most of the time that 15 minute more saying is repeated almost 15 times. We heard a jeep coming up. For an instance we do thought to get the lift from him and when it came near it was with the people whom we met at pine park hotel. They were probably fro Peshawar side. We offered a lift to sit on the bonnet of the jeep as rest of the jeep was packed. It was indeed a very attractive option and our body was also creating problems but we came here for trekking not for a jeep safari and when they offered the lift it was life grabbing the heart in the fist and signaling the head with no. We have heard that shogran to sari trek is only of 150 minutes. Although in snow it took us good 5 hours but in that season that should be only 2.5 hours long and as we were already into the trek since two hours so why to take lift when hardly 30 minutes more was left. Although we do have say that just 30 minute more for two times atleast.


On our way up we met few more local school kids. It was sad to see them doing smoking at such a young age and it was something annoying for us so we do gave them a small lecture on side effects of smoking. I am not sure how much that lecture would have affected them but they do said that it an Eid day and they are not regular smokers & they gave the same old excuse that they don’t inhale it to lungs. Here for the first time in this trek we initiated the stories relating to Bhuttay. If you don’t know that who are bhuttay then I will explain it shortly but just to get a bird eye view you can consider them like the current day political leaders who claims to be following policies of ZA Bhutto. If you know who are bhuttay & have respect for current ruling party then my above comments might have gone a little harsh on you but I am here to write the things exactly how I felt.


Any ways we do had 10 minutes break and again started our trek. Those kids do told us that sari is just 10 minutes away. But …


Another jeep passed by us and by just a wave of hand to say Salam/ hi it went away. Two jeeps were descending from paye and I was still in search of that gradual steep area which in snow we did it in around 45 minutes. We do receive the call of Mustaq (our host at sari) mentioning that our porter is at sari waiting for us. At the same time we do received the call of our mutual friend whose plan was dropped a day before we left. With his well wishes we dropped the call and continued our trek. Now the mist arrived and we could hardly see anything beyond 15-20feet. It was not a first time mist arrived in our trek so we were a little use to it. We were doing two things in those misty conditions.

1- To only maintain that must distance between two of us that we could easily see each other.

2- To stay on jeep trek and avoid any shortcuts.


From a distance we saw another gradual height gain. It was cruel to us as we were already exhausted but as soon as I turned towards my left and saw down I was filled full joy & energy because we were standing on the exact same steep area just before sari which I was trying to find in my whole trek. And I knew that sari is just there. We took another right and we could see the first house of sari village. So nearly after 3 hours of trek we reached to sari. 6-8 hours of trekking is just a normal thing for me but these 3 hours was purely a killer. Our body was not in shape, we were out of exercise. We were physically not ready for the trekking but just went on with because as I said earlier that mental fitness is more important than physical fitness


We rushed to Mustaq small hotel at sari. I do know mustaq by face but not by name since we did winter survival to paya in April 2011. We quickly opened our bag with dates and took a heavy dose of like 10 dates each. We already had the food packed so as rotis but when we asked mustaq that what he has he mentioned that he had daal mash. Which happens to be my favorite? Price was nominal (Considering that its away far away from main city) 100rs per head for daal mash & sabzi whereas chicken karahi was of 900rs per kg (per hen). I was also more in favor of eating from hotel as it would be fresh and our target for today was paya so it would save a lot of time. It was almost 4:30 pm when we reached sari and we do had at least 140 minutes of sun light. But even when we were thinking we saw mist/clouds rising up from shogran and within few minutes we were in position that we could hardly see beyond 15 feet.


Any ways Ali asked for sabzi and I asked for daal mash. Both were in ready to cook position. Ali went on with Mustaq to do some experimenting with that aaloo anda which only resulted in destroying it and he was not even able to finish even half a plate. Whereas I ate more than 2 rotis. We asked for tea and it was also quickly made. The moment of making the tea was extremely beautiful we could see a small rainbow of colors near the tandoor. It was a mystic feeling in which one feel that he is hallucinating. In that dark shop the burning of wood, blue & red flames the white smoke and clouds outside the window. The warmth of the tandoor, the hospitality of the mustaq, the dancing flames, the curling smoke, it was just like that we are in a paradise and some “Hoor ” will come in that hut with some sweet drink to kill the thirst forever. But instead of some hoor a local man with beard came in. It was nice meeting with him as his inlaws live on the other side of Makra and he has completed that trek few times to meet his inlaws. I was wondering what a journey that would be that to meet inlaws one has to walk for 10-12 hours (two ways). He could have easily refused the visit claiming that it’s too far. Lucky Man! Those who know me well know that I use Google earth a lot for before going to trek especially the escape routes. And before leaving for trek I do calculated out that there are three possible ridges, two of which descend towards Kashmir side and one to Chappar on naran road. That guy mentioned that if our face would be towards Kashmir than we need to descend towards the left most ridge (South east). He was perfectly correctly. That ridge towards southeast leads to bhairi and it’s the safest path.


Any ways after short meeting with him we went for a gentle walk. Ali went to sari lake to take some pics. I was not much interested in going to it as it would have required me to do ascend of good 10 minutes and I was not in that mood. For me it’s not a lake and I call it a pond. The reason for that logic is that for me a lake should must have proper inlet and outlet whereas sari pond/lake lacks any of such things. Sari pond is good 25-30 below the Mustaq hotel and when I came in winter I walked over it as that 25 feet was all filled with snow.


Mustaq has a big tent installed along with his hotel. He said if we want to spend night in that camp then we are most welcome. We were already carrying camp with us but when we saw soft mattress in the Mustaq camp then we decided to stay in that. That was quite a big camp and around 15 people can easily sleep in it at one time. He has also applied a sort of insulated sheet in it which does help to maintain the temperature inside. Moreover structure of that camp is supported by steel pipes so it can stand even the wildest weather. It outer is covered by a thick water proof sheet.


It was clean enough and we were the only tourist at sari on that night so we had the whole camp with us. It gives us advantage as we can openly spread our stuff in the camp without any risk of security.


I got off my trekking shoes took the camping sandal. I was in need to pee and saw a temporary built toilet. I took a water bottle and went in it. It was a bad decision as it was not clean and I would have came out more cleanly if I would have gone in the jungle. Readers might be wondering that why I am mentioning such a disgusting thing here but one purpose of this article is also to educate the readers about the environment.

We took our sleeping bags and went for a nap. It started to rain like cats & dogs. Mustaq camp was good hide to prevent us from that rain but unfortunately wind was so harsh that it blew one joint of water proof sheet near the corner where I was sleeping. Although that opening was with that angle that rain could not come in but still the wind was coming in. It was such a heavy rain that we can’t even dares to go out to fix it. Any ways soon we went into the valley of sleep. Although it was still time before sun could have gone down but clouds and mist made the night well before the sunset.


From bottom of my heart I was quite happier over rain as rain normally blew off the mist and that would be a blessing in disguise as we could get better views.


I was with a goose down sleeping bag and despite the fact it was extremely cold outside I was sweating due to goose down so I opened up the zip and slept for some time without sleeping bag. Mustaq was running outside with a ladder to his home nearby, probably to prevent seepage of water through the roof.


Those who into trekking knows this thing very well that camping nights are too long and mostly sleep come in patches of like 2-3 hours. We were half awaked when Mustaq & Safi came to our camp. Rain seems to have halted at that time and clock was probably ticking 8 pm. We are also having gotten reasonably fresh due to a good 2 hour nap. We haven’t finalized the rates with our porter and before start of trek when we do asked him for the rates then he asked that we should do it with Mustaq. As Mustaq is colleague of our mutual friend Nadir so we were ok with that. Moreover we also had some idea about the rates. They basically came to finalize the rates. Safi started the discussion with the same stories (One such accident do happened) that people have got killed in such weather we should not attempt Makra. Or we should go only till where weather allows it. Basically I believe safi was trying to convince us in such a manner that we would leave our bags at sari, do makra and camp back again sari and whole purpose of him was that he should not carry my rucksack and would only act as a guide. Although weather was tough but I was confident that it will clear in the morning. Safi was so much convincing that I do give his idea to return to sari after makra a serious thought. Mustaq was neutral and mediating between us. Safi was not agreeing to carry us to kashmir. We mentioned that we will give him the amount to reach back to sari from Muzaffarabad just accompany us. Discussion was getting nowhere; safi was not seemingly ready to go to Kashmir. We fired an arrow that if we need to get back to SARI then why we would even needs the guide/porter. I do have my working for makra and I could have gone for the summit without him if we have to come back to sari. Mustaq mentioned that we are his guest and our safety is a great concern for him. So we should not risk our lives. Safi again fired a shell that some looting incident has happened on top of makra so we should not carry our valuable with us and should leave the rucksack at sari. That all discussion was happening between Mustaq, Safi and Ali and I was more of a silent spectator. Safi when saw that we are not getting convinced he mentioned to us that its tough dangerous not everyone can do it. I mentioned that I have done twice the “Musa Ka Musalla”. And my friends who have done both MKM & Makra have rated makra slightly less tough. Ali added that he has done jungle trek from paya to manna meadow. And when he mentioned the things like water fall and other things he saw in trek Mustaq was quickly convinced that if we are insisting then we should descend towards Kashmir. Actually the reason that mustaq quickly agreed with us was because he know how dangerous that trek of paya to manna meadow trek is. Its highly unlikely that somebody attempts that trek and he doesn’t encounter any wild animal. Almost no one attempt it and 24 * 365 that jungle has lions, leopards and bear. After Mustaq got convinced we assured safi that we are not going to do a suicide we will go for Makra and if we found out at some place that it’s not wise to go forward then we will return back. Anyways half heartedly he agreed to move with us. Now the next hurdle was rates, I was sure that it won’t be tough thing to settle down but I was wrong. Safi demanded Rs 3000 per day plus we have to give him the cost from muzaffarabad to sari. That was a shocker for us as that high rate is nowhere in Pakistan and on first day and last day it only had 2-3 hours of planned trekking, Although the second day had the almost 10 hours of planned trekking. We mentioned to him that was too much. We decided to break the porter expense in two parts.

1- Actual portage price.

2- Price to reach from muzaffarabad to sari.

Safi mentioned around 1000 rs for part 2. After mentioning him some facts we lowered him to 500 rs for part 2.


Safi was not ready to reduce the price for part 1 and we were not ready to give him what he was demanding. To be very true we only had 16000 rs in cash in total. If we give him 9k then we would have ended on short side. We asked Mustaq to mediate between us and he asked us that how much we give. We mentioned that we will give him 5000 rs in total. If he is ok then we are moving ahead if he is not then please arrange some other porter for us and whatever his nominal amount is for from shogran to sari we give him now and Allah hafiz. After some discussion Safi agreed for 5000 rs in total.


It was around 8:30 pm and Safi & mustaq left the camp and we again went on to sleep. We decided to leave sari with sunrise.




"To those who can hear me, I say - do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed - the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish." - Charlie Chaplin (From the Great Dictator, if you haven't heard the entire speech, it's well worth a listen)




I hadn't set out to shoot this memorial again, I know I shoot it too much. But the clouds overhead really caught my eye. Since I originally intended to try my hand at another panorama today, I kept that in mind while shooting.


I'm glad that I pass by this so early in the morning, no one was around and I was able to get this photo without timing everything perfectly to not have tourists in the shot.


Monday was a mix of good and bad. I received my evaluation from my French course and did better than I had expected, class was let out early so I returned to the office... and the bad begun.


Luckily, I have tomorrow off so I get a day away to clear my mind of the madness of the office. When a Monday starts out as frustrating as this one turned out to be, it sort of makes you want to hide for the rest of the work week. Sadly though, I have to be a grown up and go to work, except for those previously planned vacation days. Curse you responsibility! 9 working days left until I have a week and bit off! Can't wait!


Hope you've all had a better start to your work week!


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