Singapore for Americans

Singapore is a great way to get toes dipped into Asia for Americans. It is a very long flight, but once you arrive, it can be very comforting.

English Everywhere
Since Singapore was established as a British trading post, the common language spoken and in signage has been English. This makes it quite easy to navigate. All the stores and museums have English Language signs, even in Chinatown and Little India.

Retail is still alive and well , where in the US stores are closing. Toys R Us is one example of a store still open and popular, probably because it was not encumbered by leveraged buy out debt!

Singaporeans don’t like to sweat, so they take the bus, they do not walk much. We found that to be the case even for students going from class building to another building. Mass transit is plentiful. You probably would not need to rent a car in Singapore.

The Heat
It does get very warm. Those who come from the U.S. rarely experience the type of heat and humidity that is an everyday thing in Singapore. Those from the upper Midwest may experience maybe one day a summer that comes close to Singapore weather. Drink plenty of liquids!

Even The “National Drink”, the Singapore Sling

Cats with no tails
For reasons known to the Singapore SPCA, Cats in Singapore belong to the bobtailed cat family.  They originated from the Japanese Bobtail cat which interbred with the local feral cats.  They are born without tails.

Hahn/Cock by artist Katharina Fritsch at the Walker Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis

When I traveled to London in 2014, I walked through Trafalgar square. I had not been there since 1998. On the “Fourth Plinth” there was a statue of a blue chicken.

More about the Fourth Plinth

The statue is actually Hahn/Cock, a sculpture of a giant blue cockerel by the German artist Katharina Fritsch.

Note that the Grand Hotel looks pretty good in the photo above. It has been cleaned up.  It looked quite scuzzy in 1998. The pigeons were rampant as well. There was a Greenpeace protest going on that day in May. The protesters were dressed as Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Now I heard that Hahn/Cock was going to be moved to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, home of the famous Cherry on a Spoon, Coosje van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry. However, the article suggests that the Minneapolis Hahn/Cock is “a second in an edition of two by the artist”. The Original is at the National Gallery in Washington. I am going to use that phrase from now on, when I really mean “a copy.”

The Curtlee Mansion from John Lescroart’s Damage

While I was in San Francisco, I stopped at a bookstore on California Street. I asked for a mystery set in San Francisco. The helpful people at Books Inc. pointed me to a mystery called Damage by John Lescroart. The mansion of the rich Curtlee family is described in the beginning of chapter 6 as follows:

“The Curtlee mansion and its grounds took up the last third of Vallejo Street on the uphill side in the last block before it abutted into the abundant greenery of the tamed forest that was the Presidio.”

I stood in the abundant greenery this morning and snapped a picture of what must be the model for the mansion.

vallejo Curtlee Mansion Damage

It’s a nice place. This house at 2460 Lyon street has an estimated worth of $13 million according to Zillow. It’s not even the nicest property in the neighborhood. Even the nearby Russian Consulate General is not even the nicest property. All seem to be renting for somewhere around $50,000 per month from whoever the real owners are, which I am guessing are Illuminati at this point.

Damage was a real page turner by the way, and I enjoyed it immensely. I now am going to start in on The Maltese Falcon.

Here in Texas on Sixth Street

Saw a very interesting cigar shop on Sixth street in Austin called Bobalu. The guy at the desk is hand rolling the cigars. They sell for a premium at the shop.


You can watch him live in action at:

The (A)Murica Mountain

Driving up the Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, I saw a mountain I had to photograph.


This is Mount Cannon (or Cannon Mountain) I believe. The reason in caught my eye is that it reminded me of the ultra-patriotic Eagle Mountain painting.


With a little image editing, presto! The real Murica mountain!



The Joy of Walking in England

I knew that walking is popular in England. Also I knew that the Cotswolds area was a popular recreation spot. That’s why I booked the North Farmcote B&B. It was rated #1 on  The owner, David, lent me his copy of the Ordnance Survey Leisure map, the OL45.

Cotswolds OL 45

I took a snapshot of his map with my camera. I used the computer to draw in red where we walked. He had circled his farm in blue. As you can see, they are very detailed. Also, they show the historical sites like Sudeley Castle and St Kenelm’s Well in a blackletter / fractur / Yonkers font.

Winchcombe Walk 2014

We walked by two old Abbeys. At the Hailes Abbey, we took the tour. I did not even understand about the Winchcombe Abbey until I got back and did some reading.


It was really neat that we could walk through the pastures. Each field had some kind of stile or gate. The cows, sheep, or pigs are right there. There are yellow arrows on the fence to help guide you to the next gate.

Just the idea that there is an ancient place called “St. Kenelm’s Well” out in the middle of nowhere seemed interesting and legendary. And it is.

St. Kenelm was buried at Winchcombe Abbey

which is now part of the town of Winchcombe.

Another article on the Ordnance Survey maps.

I bought two maps in Salisbury, the OL45 and the 130 – Salisbury and Stonehenge. They pronounce it “Sawlzbree”

The Ordnance survey maps have been published for since the 1700s, and I have no doubt must have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to some degree. Just the sheer amount of history laying around in the area we walked in more that you could stack up in my whole home state.



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