Fandango’s Flashback Friday (#2): One Year Ago

I am doing two FFF‘s because one was a photography post and one was a writing post. Plus I think it’s relevant to think back to my frame of mind one year ago! I noticed that I did several posts a year ago today, and I also recall taking a day trip to Woodstock, Illinois! Beginniny of the pandemic = lots of time on my hands!

So here is:

https://amoralegria.com/2020/04/02/fpq-what-will-be-our-post-covid-19-world/ .

FPQ: What Will Be Our Post-COVID-19 World?

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Fandango’s Provocative Question #63 is a very relevant one:

WHEN WE FINALLY GET THROUGH THIS COVID-19 PANDEMIC AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE, DO YOU THINK THE WORLD IS GOING TO CHANGE FROM WHAT IS WAS LIKE BEFORE ANYONE EVER HEARD OF CORONAVIRUS? OR WILL THINGS QUICKLY RETURN TO “BUSINESS AS USUAL”?

I am not sure about the world, but I will talk from the perspective of the United States. This is the most serious problem that requires everyone’s cooperation in our history. Both good and bad will result from it.

Like the period after 9/11, the U.S. will experience a shift that may be permanent. After 9/11, people became more fearful, and that permeated all aspects of society. That fear led to increased prejudice, which ultimately culminated in the election of Donald Trump.

What I think the pandemic will do is make it very clear the serious problems our country has – it will lay them bare as they never have been before. The silver lining of the pandemic is that Donald Trump will probably not be reelected. (Of course, I wish he would be deposed in a less destructive way. And I don’t take it for granted that he will lose, so everybody VOTE!!)

But more importantly, the deficiencies in our health care system and our economic inequality will be top priority of whoever takes office next year. We cannot ignore these things anymore. We’ve been discussing the notion of health care for all for decades. Past administrations looked the other way. When Clinton tried to make reforms, there was a backlash. While Obama did manage to pass the ACA (aka Obamacare), it ended up being watered down due to many compromises that had to be made with the Republicans. Since then, the goal of the Republicans is to repeal the ACA without anything to replace it. And that’s where we are now.

But when the crisis of this pandemic is over, ignoring the problems in our health care system will no longer be possible. The fact that we were not ready for the pandemic is partly shortsightedness of the federal government but also due to deficiencies of our health care system. Our hospitals and health care workers are being overworked and they lack basic equipment. Hospitals are filling to capacity while thousands of others aren’t able to get tested for COVID-19. When testing did become available, people were worried about how they would pay for it (and thanks to Katie Porter, it ended up being free). I think we will really have to examine the priority that health care should have over almost anything else.

Leadership and how we choose leaders may be another problem that we will look at more closely, and their readiness to handle any crisis. We generally choose leaders by charisma and showmanship, and part of the problem is that our choices are limited to two parties. And voting rates are low because many people don’t think their votes count – well, who can blame them when one candidate wins a majority of the popular vote by millions of votes, but the other candidate becomes president because of our weird “Electoral College.”  And we end up with old white men instead of energetic, idealistic younger leaders. Whether this pandemic will end up galvanizing voters, I don’t know. I hope so.

Respect for scientists, belief in them – ignoring science has become a hallmark of conservative Republicans. The governors of some southern states refused to issue stay-home orders by mid-March because they had become used to ignoring and even ridiculing science, the facts. They worried more about the effect on the economy than saving lives. As I write this, three southern states (Florida, Georgia and Mississippi) are FINALLY today issuing stay-at-home orders and acting as though they had no idea the pandemic was this severe! Because it’s become the thing to do for “real” Republicans to thumb their noses at the experts.

I read an editorial in our local paper today, in which the author calls this pandemic time the age of “pathological individualism.” Individualism is fine, but people take it to extremes so that it really becomes selfishness. Individuals think they have a right to do whatever they want without regard for others. Perhaps that was what the governors who waited too long to implement “social distancing” in their states, were thinking. How can we just tell people to stay home? Don’t we have freedom of movement? What about their jobs? This is the United States of America!

What about us, as individual Americans? We will have sacrificed for the greater cause. In times of crisis, the majority of Americans set aside their petty differences and do what they can to help others. Why can’t we be that way all the time? And even now, there are some nasty, vindictive people who are harassing Asians as if these individuals in their community are somehow responsible for manufacturing the virus.

Inequality will be the biggest problem we will have to face, and inequality and racism are intertwined. We have always had inequality, but in recent years the divide between the haves and the have-nots has grown increasingly larger. There are greedy corporate CEOs who quibble over every dollar of taxes when they have millions or billions at one end of the population, and people who cannot obey stay-at-home orders because they have no home on the other. When an analysis of the sick and the dead is completed, what will it say about those who have money and good insurance and those that don’t? Will there be more deaths among the poor? These are questions whose answers are yet to be revealed.

My husband believes that our people will become less consumerist – many things will not have the value they’ve had in the past. People will be very well-acquainted with shortages, just as they were emerging from WWI and WWII. Family and friends will become even more precious, and the desire to express our feelings will be more acute.20200402_164833
I hope he is right, but I’m afraid consumerism is hard-wired in us by now. Perhaps at the end of this pandemic, when people have jobs again, they will go on a buying frenzy. They will be exhorted to do so by the government, in order to jump-start the economy. In the meantime, online buying and delivery services are and will continue to be more ubiquitous than ever.

There will be lots of analyses of the pandemic, from scientific articles about the behavior and characteristics of the virus itself to political critiques about the response to the pandemic – was it too little, too late? Was Trump’s lack of leadership a major factor in the out-of-control number of cases and deaths? In fact, Adam Schiff is already talking about setting up a commission, like the 9/11 Commission, to research, evaluate and synthesize the entire crisis once the pandemic is over. A very large tome with small print and thin paper will be released a couple of years from now for anyone in the public who has the time and inclination to actually read it. But its main points will be publicized and talked about.

Will this lead to dialogue to deal with the very serious problems threatening our democracy? Probably, among some people. But I’m sorry to say, I think most people will return to their former lives (if they still have jobs, that is) as much as they are able – the life they knew that was comfortable. Yet, we won’t be the same. What characteristic will linger when we are all free to roam the world again? After 9/11, it was fear. Post-pandemic, it might be pathological individualism. We’ve fought the good fight, we came out of it with a shaky economy but we can get back to where we were. And now we want our individual lives back.

(All photos except the last one were downloaded from Google Images. The last photo is my own – we found hand sanitizer at Walgreens!)

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago, I was still in the glow from a double trip to Egypt (Dec. 2018-Jan. 2019) and Israel (Jan. 2019). For Fandango’s Flashback Friday, here is my post from April 2, 2019: https://amoralegria.com/2019/04/02/fotd-white-flowers-in-israel/

I took this photo in Israel. I don’t know the name of these flowers – perhaps someone out there can enlighten me? Check out Cee’s FOTD 4/3/19 – I guarantee you’ll find some beauties there!

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FFF: Giza Plateau, Egypt

For Fandango’s Flashback Friday, I am reposting this from 2 years ago.

https://amoralegria.com/2019/02/05/journey-to-egypt-part-2-giza-pyramids-an-ancient-boat-camels-the-sphinx/

Posted on  by amoralegria

December 24, 2018

Our first full day in Cairo began with a trip to Giza to see the famous pyramids and the Sphinx. Egyptologists have identified 118-138 pyramids commissioned by ancient pharaohs as burial tombs. The oldest known pyramid is the step pyramid located in Saqqara, which we did not visit.

Egyptian pyramid building was developed over time. The step pyramid was the first pyramid structure, but to develop a smooth, continuous line took several attempts before the geometric measurements were just right. If too wide at the base, the pyramid would cave in for lack of sufficient support. If too narrow, it would become “top-heavy” and collapse under the weight of the stone. There is a pyramid known as the “bent pyramid” (which is not at Giza), that has sides that are somewhat curved.

The pyramids of Giza, including the Great Pyramid, are located in the Giza complex about 13 km (8 miles) from downtown Cairo, on the edge of the Western Desert.

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One of our first views of the Great Pyramid, the sun rising over it.

They were built at the height of pyramid building during times of absolutist rule, about 2580-2560 BCE (Before Common Era – formerly known as BC, Before Christ). The largest and oldest of these, the Great Pyramid, or The Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), was part of a complex consisting of a valley temple (which no longer exists) and the mortuary temple of the pharaoh Khufu (2nd pharaoh of the 4th Dynasty in ancient Egypt’s “Old Kingdom”), of which only the basalt pavement remains. The mortuary temple was connected to the pyramid containing the pharaoh’s tomb. The complex took about 20 years to build and the pyramid was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years.

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Map of Giza complex

Originally the Great Pyramid was covered with a smooth layer of limestone and some of the stones used can be seen around the base.

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The pyramid consists of 2.3 million blocks of stone obtained from nearby quarries. Since building it took 20 years, this means that an average of 12 of the blocks would have to be put into place every hour, 24/7!  The largest granite stones used in the King’s burial chamber, weighing 20 or more tons each, were transported all the way from Aswan, more than 800 km (500 miles) away!

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Looking up the east side of the Great Pyramid

Although the Greeks suggested the pyramids had been built by slave labor, modern discoveries of a work camp associated with Giza indicate that they were probably built by skilled workers, organized into groups according to skill level.

Most of the limestone casing that covered the structure were loosened by a massive earthquake in 1303 CE (Common Era, formerly known as AD). In 1356 AD these were taken away to build fortresses and mosques in Cairo.

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I am 5’6″ – compare my size with just one of the huge stones behind me that were used to build the Great Pyramid!Most of the limestone casing that covered the structure were loosened by a massive earthquake in 1303 CE (Common Era, formerly known as AD). In 1356 AD these were taken away to build fortresses and mosques in Cairo. 

The original entrance to the Great Pyramid is on the north, about 17 meters (56 feet) vertically above ground level. This entrance, although blocked off, can still be seen today.
20181224_095949You can also climb partway up the pyramid under this sealed entrance.

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The red arrow points to Dale and me climbing up the base of the pyramid. 

This diagram shows the entrance, passages and chambers inside the pyramid, but access today is forbidden. In the King’s Chamber, the only object is a rectangular sarcophagus, which was likely lowered into the chamber before the top of the pyramid was added.
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On the east side of the Great Pyramid were three smaller pyramids for King Khufu’s three wives and it is possible to go inside one of these. A cavernous hole in the side of this structure is the entrance. You descend into a lower chamber on a ramp fitted with slats to maintain your footing. I took one look and said, “No, thanks!”

However, Dale and some of the others in our group did go down there. Inside the chamber there is really nothing at all to see. Someone took these photos of Dale and fellow group member Nancy Wheeler inside the empty chamber.

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Around the outside of Khufu’s pyramid are boat pits large enough to hold full-sized boats. The ancient Egyptians believed that boats would be necessary to transport the king and his family to the afterlife.

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These heavy stones were laid on top of the boat pits to preserve and seal in the boats underneath. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

One of the ships sealed inside the pits has been reconstructed and now resides in the Giza Solar Boat Museum.

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Heading toward the Giza Solar Boat Museum
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Model of Khufu’s boat, inside the museum (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
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The Great Pyramid with queens’ pyramids alongside, from the causeway near the Sphinx.

Next we took a camel ride.
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I had never ridden a camel before so my only experience riding an animal was on horses. First the handler has the camel get down into seated position so the rider can mount.  Its front legs bend first, then its back legs. Camels have very flexible knee joints! (I hope they don’t get arthritis!)
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Mounting the camel wasn’t that easy – I had trouble getting my right leg over its back!
Once I was on, the handler motioned for me to hold onto the saddle horns, both front and back, while the camel stood up again, going through the same motions it used to sit down. It was like being on a bucking bronco!

I continued holding onto both saddle horns, even though it was a bit awkward, until the handler told me to hold only the one in front. He also motioned me to sit farther forward, almost until I was practically sitting on the camel’s neck.
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I then gripped the front saddle horn and hung on for dear life. A camel moves very differently from a horse – it’s almost an undulating motion, as if we were at sea…perhaps that is one reason why camels are called the “ships of the desert.” Their bodies, while seemingly gangly, are uniquely suited to the desert environment.

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My experience, however, was not helped by the fact that my camel was a naughty beast! Instead of following the handler’s instructions, who eventually had to hold him on a tighter rein, he would wander in the opposite direction until pulled back, or approached another camel for a little tête-a-tête! Also, he kept bumping up against another camel ridden by a young woman in our group, so that my foot was crushed between two camel bodies! (No harm done, except that my shoes smelled like camel for the rest of the trip!)

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The handler insisted on taking multiple photographs of us on our camels – this is the best of them, in my opinion!

I was greatly relieved when it was time to get off – although it required that “bucking bronco” movement again!

Here are some sketches I made of my camel in my journal later:
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After this memorable experience, we visited the Sphinx and the Valley Temple of Khafre (see map above), but first, we viewed the Giza plateau from the vantage point of a hill where we had gotten off the camels.
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The Sphinx, while it dwarfs in comparison to the pyramids behind it, is the largest sculpture in the world carved from one solid piece of rock: cut from limestone bedrock,  the head has since been restored using layers of blocks.
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The Sphinx was a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a human head. The Great Sphinx of Giza is thought to represent the king Khafre, whose pyramid tomb stands behind it.  Although the head and much of the body has eroded over time, its long front legs and paws are solid rock.DSC_0051

The Great Sphinx faces east and is 73 meters (240 feet) long from paw to tail. At its highest point it is 20.21 m (66.3 ft) tall, and 19 m (62 ft) wide at its rear haunches. It was built during Egypt’s Old Kingdom, during the reign of King Khafre (c. 2558-2532 BCE).
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In between the paws of the Sphinx, there is a stela (an upright stone slab on which is carved some kind of inscription, like gravestones) created during the New Kingdom by Thutmose IV (son of Amenhotep II) describing a dream which justifies his right to rule. A brief description of this dream is in an online article Between the Paws of the Sphinx by Dr. David Livingston:

Thutmosis had been strenuously driving his chariot over the desert. After awhile, he lay down in the shadow of the Sphinx’ head, all that was visible above the sand. While sleeping, the Sphinx came to him in a dream and assured the future Pharaoh that if he cleared the sands away, the Sphinx would, in turn, make Thutmosis the next ruler. Thutmosis did so and, sure enough, he became the next Pharaoh!

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Causeway which originally led to the funerary temple of King Khafre

Although it is possible to look at this stela between the Sphinx’s paws, we did not do this, instead going into the Valley Temple of Khafre which is in front of it.

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Why are we all looking down at the ground?
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Because Mohamed (our trip leader) pointed out that the original granite floor of the temple was still visible here.

Sources for the historical and technical information above were from the following online articles:
Great Pyramid of Giza
Pyramids of Giza
Great Sphinx of Giza

Next: Christmas Eve Dinner and Visit to a MosqueTags:Ancient CivilizationsBoatsCamelsChurches & TemplesEgyptGizaHistoric SitesHistoryMonolithsPhotographyPyramidsRuinsTransportationTravelogueCategories:AfricaAncient Art And Historical SitesEgyptPhotographyTravelTravel JournalWriting