Be the Spark

Scanning the floor of the Tacoma Dome after the lights went down Friday night, I looked for opportunities to improve my seating situation with my unnamed Englishman and new partner in crime.  A decade ago, I’d be sneaking forward for a better view of Ozzy on stage.  In my early 30’s however, it was Desmond Tutu who had inspired seat pirating with a complete stranger. A stone’s throw away from the Governor at the end of our escapade, I felt perfectly poised and ready for whatever Archbishop Desmond Tutu had to say. 
I love getting older.
“Be the Spark” was an event put on by the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation.  In addition to Desmond Tutu, world-renowned human rights activist, it included various performers and speakers such as Craig Kielburger, who at the age of 12 (yes, 12!!) founded the organization Free the Children.   His organization has helped to build over 650 schools worldwide. 
Desmond Tutu walked on stage to a standing ovation, and he delivered a short, yet deeply personal message.  “Do your little of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the word.”   Those daily news articles of child labor, famine, and war aren’t distressing pieces of information to gloss over and discard.  They’re “God’s checklist”.  They’re opportunities for us to be the “spark” that ignites change.
Englishman lost to the masses, I walked through the Dome after Tutu left the stage, ushered out to the voice of Crystal Aiken, deep in thought. 
Let’s spark some change…
Did I get pictures, some of you are wondering?  Well, apparently my D90 is considered “professional” camera gear and was banned from inside the Dome.  So, the answer to that is a big, fat NO.   However, I did spend some time in Seattle yesterday afternoon, so I made the most of it.  As you will see, my fascination of street artists and performers continues.  
Point of View


Native American wood carver




Painted in SilverSilver at Pike Place Market


Silver at Pike Place Market
I can't hula-hoop anyway...forget adding a guitar and harmonica!


I can't do this either...this girl had an amazing voice!


Interesting back alley busker


My favorite pic from yesterday


I'll save you from that pigeon! This way!


A splash of color

Viking Invasion of Ireland – Day 1

I had been concerned that my Irish luck had run out (given the changes of plans with a certain boy and all of the added expenses), but I’ve been pleasently surpised so far.

To start, the flight from Seatac to Amsterdam had been overbooked, and I got a boarding pass without a ticket number.  I was instructed to see the attendant at the gate for my seat assignment, who later told me to wait until my name was called.  After hearing a dozen other names called to the desk for their real tickets, I began to worry.  But, a man who had been on the shuttle from Bellingham assured me that they were simply upgrading other passengers and that I’d eventually get a seat.   And he was right.  I actually ended up with one of the best seats on the plane outside of first class. I was in the exit row right behind first class, right next to the flight attendent station.  WIth plenty of leg room and easy access to some friendly attendants who knew how to pour a glass of wine, it was a great flight!  Not only that, but the man sitting next to me, who was going to Spain for three weeks, has a daughter teaching photography to kids in India.  Well, if you know me, you know that sparked my interest.  He gave me her contact information so I could ask her about her work there.

After deboarding the plane, I spoke with the man from Bellingham a little more.  It turns out, although he’s going to Italy to teach a class on counter terrorism (there’s a good chance I’m making that part up) for a week, we may actually have the same return flight out of Amsterdam next Wednesday!  We both thought that was a big coincidence, so we also exchanged contact information.   I lost both of my new friends, however, when we separated at the different security checkpoints at Amsterdam to our respective gates. 

The second flight into Cork wasn’t nearly as interesting, and since I was still upset about the whole situation I kept thinking “fecking Cork” the whole way there. 

I was scheduled to take the train from Cork to Dublin, but managed to get lost despite receiving very clear directions.  Luckily, I stopped a little old man to ask where I was, and he was so incredibly sweet – even walking me to the train station.  He told me that Dublin was just a big city and that I should come back to Cork to visit, because it’s a “town” and there are plenty of good pubs at which to meet people. 

I managed to actually get a train an hour earlier than the one I’d scheduled and arrived in Dublin early.  Exhausted, I managed to walk right past The Clarence and get lost again, kind of.  I stopped to ask a Leprechaun where it was (I’m being serious), and he took off his spritely head, pointed at his mouth, shaking his real head and said, “Croatian”.   A Croatian Leprechaun who doesn’t know where The Clarence is?   Interesting.  Well, needless to say I found it.

Dublin fits like a glove.  Despite being a big city, it’s been comfortable and welcoming.  After hanging out with Paul’s buddies, I ended up meeting two new girlfriends last night who are going to take me out to some traditional pubs for my birthday this evening. I’m really excited about that, but before that happens, I’m going to see the Steve McCurry exhibit and hit the Guinness Brewery.   More tomorrow!  Here are some pictures from my first night back in Dublin…

The Croatian Leprechaun
I LOVE street musicians.
The O'Connell Monument...with bird


Daffodil in St. Stephen's Green


Another street musician in Temple Bar


Outside the "Temple Bar" in Temple Bar