The Veteran Neophyte

The beat goes on

Posted in Turkey by Dave on March 6, 2015

With one week left here in Turkey, the work is accelerating, and nostalgia is beginning to kick in.

Work-wise, the gallery full of refurbished exhibits is nearly done, and is starting to look like the science museum it is intended to be:

IMG_3758 (Large)

The workshop is busy, mostly with building new exhibits, which is not technically part of our contract, but we’re helping as much as we can while still getting our work done:IMG_3759 (Large) IMG_3761 (Large) IMG_3762 (Large) IMG_3764 (Large) IMG_3763 (Large) IMG_1507 (Large)

Tiny Dave helps out where he can. Here he’s supervising a milling operation.IMG_3768 (Large)

Around the museum, work on the grounds has accelerated remarkably, with the impending museum opening, and especially the news that the Turkish President will be attending.

Here’s something I’ve never seen elsewhere: the abandoned buildings that surround the site are ALL being shrouded with a sort of printed scrim. The amount of labor involved is mind-boggling, and of course someone else had to draw the cartoony buildings and get this stuff printed.IMG_3753 (Large) IMG_3755 (Large)

New cobbles are going in nearby, here’s a pile ready for the (very skilled) installersIMG_1505 (Large)

This curved cobble pattern is ubiquitous all over the parts of Turkey I’ve seen. No wonder there are so few skateboarders.IMG_1485 (Large)

Tiny Dave digs the cobblestones, too.IMG_3766 (Large)

And now for some random photos. This is the big atrium at the main entrance to the museum, just crying out for…something.

IMG_1480 (Large)

These are dried eggplant skins, hanging outside every spice shop, used for making stuffed eggplant.IMG_3749 (Large)

While I’m on the topic of food, this is lahmacun (la-ma-joon), a kind of very thin pizza, you put a little salad and lemon inside, roll it up, and…yum.IMG_1501 (Large)

Profiteroles with chocolate pudding. Not sure it’s really Turkish, but who cares?IMG_1496 (Large)

These local army guys are cleaning up a ledge over the road, presumably as part of the general sprucing-up for the President’s imminent arrival.IMG_1500 (Large)

Dog resting behind a sign advertising tavuk döner (chicken kebap sliced off a vertically rotating spit)IMG_1506 (Large)

And a local dog we call Scaredy Mom, the mother (we think) of the 4 pups who are around all the time. She wouldn’t come anywhere near me for a while, but after feeding her some meat cutoffs, now she likes me fine, and comes running  for a nice head scratch.IMG_3667 (Large)

And our local guy George, again, in a very nice bed made from dead plants.IMG_3645 (Large)

I’m guessing this will be the last post while I’m here, though I suspect once I get back to the states and organize my photos, there may be one more sort of summary.



And then some other stuff happened

Posted in Turkey by Dave on February 22, 2015

AND THEN, after a summer-like break in the weather (sunny, in the 60s), the snow returned with a vengeance. Here are the local hounds braving the weather.IMG_3647 (Large)

AND THEN last week a documentary film crew from the Exploratorium came, to make a short film about the project. Of course it was great to have visitors from home.

IMG_3668 (Large)IMG_3669 (Large)IMG_3674 (Large)

As Billy said one night after we all rode back from dinner in the van, “I haven’t heard so much English spoken in a long time…it’s doing something strange to my brain.”

AND THEN this weekend Schuyler and I went to Istanbul for a little shopping, and to explore Kadıköy, on the Anatolian side of the Bosphorus. I have one Turkish Facebook friend, an artist and a fellow member of the Automata/Automaton group, Eda Taşlı, who lives there and she graciously hosted us for the afternoon, showing us around her neighborhood there and taking us to her sculpture studio to see her fantastical work.

IMG_3721 (Large) IMG_3712 (Large) IMG_3707 (Large) IMG_3702 (Large) IMG_3700 (Large) IMG_3714 (Large)

AND THEN we (and I’m including Tiny Dave in that “we”) ended up staying the night at a nice hostel in Kadıköy

IMG_3723 (Large)

The view from the window of our room:IMG_3725 (Large)

AND THEN the following morning we had a nice wander around the neighborhood, ending up (again) at Ciya Sofrası, a most wonderful restaurant. Here are a bunch of images from our mini-adventure, in no particular order:

IMG_3684 (Large) IMG_3729 (Large)

I call this one “Interesting Wall with Cat”IMG_3726 (Large) IMG_3732 (Large) IMG_3737 (Large)

Bariş Manço is a famous Turkish musician, his house is a museum in the neighborhood. Schuyler is a fan.

IMG_3717 (Large) IMG_3680 (Large) IMG_3739 (Large) IMG_3733 (Large)

This very nice flute maker took us into his workshop for some Turkish coffee and a nice talk about, oh, many things…IMG_3741 (Large) .

Tiny Dave made a new friend, a frog, while the rest of us had coffee at the seaside and watched the sunset.IMG_3719 (Large) IMG_3722 (Large) IMG_3743 (Large)

IMG_3688 (Large)

Finally, and apropos of nothing whatsoever, we found this thing in the workshop, and, well, of course we had to use it.IMG_3665 (Large)

A Sunday out, a Sunday in

Posted in Turkey by Dave on February 8, 2015

Last Sunday we hopped in the van and took a drive with some of the people from the museum up to the Black Sea, to get out and about and see something different. Tiny Dave came along too.

IMG_3580 (Large)

Merve organized the outing, and took us to some really beautiful volcanic rock formations that we could clamber around on.IMG_3583 (Large)

IMG_3593 (Large) IMG_3595 (Large) IMG_3594 (Large)IMG_3591 (Large)IMG_3597 (Large)

There was an abandoned fish farm there, and the rock had also been quarried in places.

IMG_3599 (Large)IMG_3584 (Large)IMG_3598 (Large)

Here’s the gang: Merve on the left in red (Kua is hidden behind her), then Schuyler, Fahti, Billy, Alihan, and Alihan’s sister Sevde.

IMG_3603 (Large)

On the way back we toured an organic farm/education center/corporate retreat up in the hills, run by a very friendly couple who graciously showed us all around, treated us to turkish coffee and housemade liqueurs, and generally made us feel very welcome.

IMG_3617 (Large) IMG_3606 (Large) IMG_3622 (Large) IMG_3610 (Large)

They keep an extensive seed bankIMG_3621 (Large)IMG_3620 (Large)

Today (another Sunday) the museum crowd came to our house and made us a fantastic Turkish breakfast, the full spread: egg with vegetables, eggs with sucuk (sausage), pastries, tomatoes and cucumbers, and more!

IMG_3633 (Large)IMG_3639 (Large)

The pile of shoes outside the door is a sure sign there’s a party going onIMG_3629 (Large)\

Speaking of shoes, Billy has some truly excellent lion slippers.IMG_3627 (Large)

Although I’m slightly ashamed to admit it, this is the first time that the house samovar was put fully to use (though we use the top half often). In fact, we didn’t even have any “normal” black Turkish çay in the house, nor did we have any sugar. Horrors! A quick trip to the market solved that problem.
IMG_3628 (Large)

Afterward we all settled in for a lazy afternoon movie, with lots more çay and a pile of sunflower seeds.

IMG_3643 (Large)

A fun, delicious, and relaxing day. Teşekkür ederiz!

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)

IMG_3318 (Large)

IMG_3534 (Large)

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

IMG_1337 (Large) IMG_3573 (Large)

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).

IMG_1378 (Large)

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.

IMG_1379 (Large) IMG_1374 (Large)

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.

IMG_3515 (Large)

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)

IMG_3482 (Large) IMG_3487 (Large) IMG_3498 (Large) IMG_3496 (Large) IMG_3490 (Large) IMG_3486 (Large)

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?

IMG_3381 (Large)

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

IMG_1338 (Large)

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:

IzmitPano (Large)

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.)

IMG_3389 (Large)

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

IMG_3390 (Large)

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!)

IMG_3305 (Large)

IMG_3313 (Large)

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:

IMG_3276 (Large)

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.

IMG_3251 (Large)

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.

IMG_3281 (Large)IMG_3286 (Large) IMG_3289 (Large)

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

IMG_3272 (Large) IMG_3269 (Large) IMG_3284 (Large)

IMG_3257 (Large)IMG_3268 (Large)IMG_3263 (Large)

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.

The Food Issue

Posted in Turkey by Dave on December 8, 2014

Food, glorious food…IMG_3195IMG_3196










Some of those are repeats, I know, but I couldn’t help myself.