The Veteran Neophyte

Animals. And food. And a palace. And tools. And some other stuff.

Posted in Turkey by Dave on January 31, 2015

Just behind the workshop at the museum is an outdoor set for a Turkish TV show, apparently an Ottoman-era soap opera of some sort. Along with a gigantic green screen, many props, and some fake buildings, there is a small menagerie consisting of a couple goats, a couple horses, and a donkey that like to eat leeks.IMG_3322 (Large)

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Continuing the animal theme, little plaster ones seem to be a fairly popular decorative touch.

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And this handsome fella (a pup) has been showing up in the mornings sometimes at the apartment, tagging along with George and Jarvis. We call him JP (for Junior Parv).

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And now food. A favorite lunch lately, since the weather has been more like summer than winter, is balik ekmek (fish sandwich), served on the water right nearby. As with so much Turkish food, it is rustically simple: grilled fish, lettuce, and onion on bread. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.

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Speaking of food, we went back to Istanbul again last weekend to see Topkapı Palace (the last major tourist stop on my list) and afterward went to Kadıköy, on the Anatolian side, to wander about a little and to go to a restaurant we had heard about from a New Yorker article. Oh my, but it was delicious.

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Here’s a fig and milk puddingIMG_3520 (Large)

Künefe, my latest favorite dessert, it’s a baked cheese-filled pastry soaked in syrup: IMG_3519 (Large)

Tiny Dave enjoyed the meal too.IMG_3516 (Large)

Here are a couple shots from the palace, though as usual it’s impossible to convey the totality of the place (and photography is not allowed in a lot of it)

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On another topic entirely, here’s a tool I wish we could get in the states. It’s a chop saw, with a little table saw on top. Perfect for the small home shop! (Wickedly dangerous, sure, but so useful!)IMG_1350 (Large)

Look at this lovely shovel in the shop, just sitting in the corner. How come shovels in the US don’t have little stars punched out of the blade? It makes it so much classier, doesn’t it?

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Is this a simple misspelling, or a statement about people who love their machines too much? You decide.

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OK, now the barely held-together themes are unraveling completely, and I’m going Full Random…

This gentleman slept right through his ferry ride across the BosphorusIMG_3478 (Large)

Here’s a graveyard at the top of one of the Izmit hills. Many of the birth dates are in the Rumi calendar, used in Turkey until 1926 (it’s based on the Julian calendar like ours but starting with the year of Muhammad’s emigration in 622 AD).IMG_3564 (Large)

Here’s Tiny Dave enjoying the sun outside the workshopIMG_3561 (Large)

And taking a ride in Billy’s earIMG_3443 (Large)

Another shot from a dusty, abandoned part of the factoryIMG_3380 (Large)

And finally, let me leave you with this: outside of eczanes (pharmacies) and other medical shops, there is often a mannequin sporting every type of brace and bandage available inside. The effect, to my Western eyes, is decidedly creepy.IMG_3449 (Large)



Posted in Turkey by Dave on January 11, 2015

Today, Sunday, was gorgeous, sunny and warm, so I went out walking around Izmit with Kua on a bit of a photo safari. Izmit, where we are living and working, isn’t in any of the tourist books: it’s just a working city of about 350,000 people, a port and factory town on the far eastern edge of the Sea of Marmara:


As I mentioned earlier, Izmit is a city of hills, descending to the water. Here’s a panorama from up high on one of the hills:

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Most everyone lives in apartments or condos, including us. Here’s our home-away-from-home. (We’re on the top floor in the building on the left, #11, if you’re here looking for me.)

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And here are a bunch of pictures from today’s excursion:

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Some nice tile work on a mosque:IMG_3393 (Large) IMG_3395 (Large) IMG_3398 (Large) IMG_3401 (Large)

Here’s a nice fixer-upper, should I decide to live here permanently:IMG_3403 (Large)

Happy dog on a roof in the sun:IMG_3405 (Large) IMG_3417 (Large) IMG_3424 (Large)

There are steep staircases crisscrossing all the hills…Izmitians probably have excellent cardiovascular health, overall:IMG_3426 (Large)

“Seviyorum” means “I like it.” I’m not sure what this person likes…IMG_3427 (Large) IMG_3428 (Large)

One of the very few dwellings I saw that looks like an actual house:IMG_3430 (Large)

A very typical street:IMG_3432 (Large)

And finally, on the bus home with tired feet.IMG_3437 (Large)

Tiny Dave

Posted in Turkey by Dave on January 8, 2015

I’ve been carrying around a tiny 3D printed replica of, well, me.IMG_3297 (Large)

(I got myself scanned many months ago at the Exploratorium store by some guys who were starting a business scanning folks and selling little colored, 3D printed replicas. Although I didn’t buy one, I talked them into sending me the files, and printed a few out myself.)

Well, this Tiny Dave has been getting around…here he is outside the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul,IMG_3279 (Large)

making friends with the strange collection of dolls in my bedroom,IMG_3227

enjoying a little sucuk ekmek,IMG_3302 (Large)

playing in the snow,IMG_3367 (Large)

visiting rainbowland,IMG_3235

eating some Adana kebap,IMG_3237

contemplating some pişmanye,IMG_3241 (Large)

helping refinish a giant chair,IMG_3226

and visiting the science factory. What a busy guy!IMG_0144 (Large)

Just across the way

Posted in Turkey by Dave on January 8, 2015

This morning I went on a little photo safari with Schuyler to the old abandoned factory behind the museum. It’s a stark contrast between the spiffy new building that houses the Bilim Merkezi (Science Center) and the “other” part of the old paper factory just behind it, separated only by a sort of alley about 25 feet wide.IMG_3365 (Large)

I’ll mostly let the pictures give you the story…IMG_3317 (Large)IMG_3316 (Large)IMG_3321 (Large)IMG_3328 (Large)IMG_3329 (Large)IMG_3333 (Large)IMG_3325 (Large)IMG_3341 (Large)IMG_3319 (Large)IMG_3348 (Large)IMG_3355 (Large)IMG_3351 (Large)IMG_3357 (Large)IMG_3358 (Large)IMG_3364 (Large)IMG_3323 (Large)IMG_3359 (Large)IMG_3344 (Large)IMG_3327 (Large)IMG_3331 (Large)IMG_3356 (Large)

The views from the upper windows were great: Izmit is a little like San Francisco or Seattle, hills covered with houses (and in this case, mosques) going down to the water: IMG_3334 (Large) IMG_3335 (Large)IMG_3345 (Large) IMG_3350 (Large)

A fine way to spend the morning while the bitterly cold office heats up.IMG_3361 (Large)

Winter is coming

Posted in Turkey by Dave on January 8, 2015

Well, no, it’s here. Rather suddenly. Cold and snowy. And kinda beautiful.

This is the view from our deck:IMG_3310 (Large)

And near the museum:IMG_3315 (Large)IMG_3309 (Large)

The local museum street dogs gathered together today, for reasons unfathomable to mere humans.IMG_3370 (Large)

And it’s perfect icicle weather, hovering near freezing, usually melting in the day and freezing at night. (More icicle photos coming soon!)

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There and back again

Posted in Turkey by Dave on January 8, 2015

For the holidays I flew to Massachusetts to visit with my brother and his family for a couple weeks, and spent a couple lazy days in Istanbul before leaving. The weather in Istanbul was lovely, sunny and cool, and I spent my time lazily wandering around, mostly just walking and soaking it up. I stayed near Galata tower:


Here it is from across the water:

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As is obvious, the views from the top were stunning:IMG_3249 (Large) IMG_3248 (Large)

The stairs down were steep and narrow and lots more fun than the elevator.

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The only real tourist thing I did aside from wander was to visit the Blue Mosque, yet another architectural wonder, and still very much an active mosque (visitors only allowed between prayer times, etc.). At the entrance is this sign:


My favorite bit is “Don’t be loud.” Here’s a couple shots, though I can’t possibly do it justice.

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As I said, I mostly wandered around Istanbul, soaking it up…

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I love the way these pigeons barely cling to the sloping shelf on this mosque:IMG_3267 (Large)

These are the local crows:IMG_3264 (Large)

The Grand Bazaar:IMG_3260 (Large)IMG_3259 (Large)

And a carpet merchant (they are legion) who wouldn’t leave me alone until I took his picture and promised to post it on Facebook. Sorry, man, this is all you get.IMG_3262 (Large)

Then it was off to the states for a VERY relaxing couple weeks in MA. It was largely uneventful, aside from an emergency root canal on Christmas Eve morning that I eagerly paid for out of pocket just to stop the pain. Fun!

I got to see all the kids, a rare treat, and just chill out. We lounged, we read books, we ate food, we watched movies, we napped, we went to Sears and bought a couple tools, and I got my dog fix from Ben and Gerry, who were kind enough to snuggle me often.


(I also got the chance to play all the way through a FANTASTIC post-apocalyptic video game — “The Last of Us” for those who care — on Doug’s stunning big-screen projection system. This time I really mean it: Fun!)

Alas, all things must end, and I flew back to Turkey on Jan. 3/4 to go back to work…I’m now about halfway through this adventure.