Tuesday, May 30, 2023


I’ve been in Noumea, New Caledonia since Monday night, and it not nearly as exciting as being on the rim of Mt. Yasur in Vanuatu! But I could use a little down time.

Monday, May 29, 2023

To Tanna

Volcano Day was amazing. I left my bag at hotel reception and took just a few things for overnight. Air Taxi picked me up, then we fetched two Kiwi dairy farmers living on a boat (having sold their dairy farm in Chile), then we picked up two French IT guys from Bangkok who were working at a local bank in a contract. A local grandpa joined us at the airport, and off we went in a 10-seater plane to Tanna Island.

We stopped by the lodge to drop off our stuff before a driver took us (not the grandpa, he was just hitching a ride home) to the volcano. The road was nuts, muddy potholes you could lose a Toyota in. Our driver was young, jolly, dreadlocked, and unable to speak English, French, or Spanish so the events all felt random. We never knew what was going to happen next, like travel before the internet. But he drove well and planted us just under the volcano rim. We hiked about five minutes up the ash to stand on the rim and gaze into the literal abyss.

It was terrifying, dangerous, and awesome. It took me about 20 minutes to work through my fear of standing close to the edge, but the view was worth it.

We watched the lava past sunset, then hiked back down to our driver. We were all covered in ash, and the lodge had lovely and welcome showers, plus dinner.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Quick Pivot

Vanu-what? Vanuatu! That’s where I am.

I came to see Naghol land diving (Saturday), and a volcano (Sunday). But Air Vanuatu’s big plane broke, so I was supposed to be stranded in Sydney until Sunday. Yes, even after the call center agent had promised me the delayed plane would get out on Friday night.

When I got back to the Sydney airport after my visit to Taronga Zoo, the Air Vanuatu agent was handing out hotel vouchers...for TWO nights. Folks heading out for a week's vacation were quite upset. "We drove two hours to get here! Where did you come from?"

"Los Angeles." They looked horrified...and continued to wait for their hotel vouchers. Not me. I raced to the shuttle bus to the domestic airport. Maybe there was a way.

While on the bus, I bought a one-way ticket to Brisbane. I got to the bag check two minutes before cut-off. Then at the gate, used the airport wifi to buy a discount ticket from Brisbane to New Caledonia off one of those sketchy sites, then bought a ticket for Saturday morning from New Caledonia to Vanuatu. 

An hour later at Brisbane, I raced from the domestic terminal to the international terminal. I got to the gate six minutes before they shut the door—I was improving. While sitting on the plane waiting for takeoff, I was able to google and ascertain that I couldn't sleep in the Noumea airport, and there were no hotels at the airport. So I booked a shuttle and a hotel room. A few hours later, I was on a shuttle to a hotel in Lemon Bay. I didn't see a lot of Lemon Bay since the return shuttle was due in at 5:25 a.m, but I'd be back to Noumea later in the week.

After all that, I got to Vanuatu two hours after the Naghol Air Taxi left for the land diving. Curses.

I’m sorting out how to go to Naghol on 3 June instead (it’s complicated), but in the meantime, today is volcano day!

Friday, May 26, 2023

Long Way Around

That might be the broken plane I was supposed to arrive on yesterday. I improvised and flew from Sydney to Brisbane to New Caledonia to Vanuatu, but missed the Saturday-only land diving. Maybe I can improvise my way back in a week.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Zoo Day

An unexpected day in Sydney, what to do?

I thought about getting a day room at the airport hotel and sleeping off my jet lag. (Don't judge me, remember I lived on and off in Australia for two years, Sydney isn't new to me.)

I went to the airport information desk.

"What would you do if you had a day in Sydney?"

The volunteer cheerfully said "I'd go to the Taronga Zoo!" That was fair. I'd meant to go there plenty of times as it reputedly had a great view, but I'd just never prioritized it.

Okay. I'd go to the zoo. I caught the train from the airport to Circular Quay, where the ferry leaves for the zoo. I had a grand afternoon looking at wallabies and koalas, then headed back to the airport for check-in.

Delayed in Sydney Airport

My phone gets free T-Mobile data on United flights, so I'd gotten a message from Air Vanuatu that my 11:15 am SYD-Vanuatu flight had been delayed to 7:20 pm. I was alarmed—my land diving excursion in Vanuatu was scheduled for 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, and only occurs on Saturdays in May and June.

I used Skype to call Air Vanuatu as soon as I was on the ground, because while on the plane, I'd looked up a backup plan but I'd have to race to the domestic terminal to get to Brisbane for a Virgin Australia flight.

The Air Vanuatu rep assured me the plane would leave tonight. I figured it was hit-or-miss. We're talking Air Vanuatu here, not Qantas, but I decided to believe the earnest man who reassured me. Especially because I'd demanded the late plane go to Vanuatu tonight. 

"Are you sure?" 

"Yes, I am sure." 

"Are you sure-sure? Because I'm a tourist and I want to go to Vanuatu!" 

"Yes, I am sure." 

This is living, folks!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Living the High Life

I'd been careful to get an upgradeable ticket, and then used a heap of points to get myself upgraded to Polaris class for the 15+ hour flight from LAX to Sydney, where I planned to connect to Vanuatu for my holiday. I was excited to go into the Polaris lounge at LAX, but to be honest it wasn't that exceptional in comparison to the regular United lounge, which is quite nice here in Los Angeles. 

 And then, on the flight, the flight attendant gave me pajamas and slippers. I couldn't see myself cramming into the tiny loo to change into and out of the pajamas, so I stayed in my street clothes in my little Polaris compartment.*

This is all a far cry from a neck pillow in Economy!

*to be regretted in a subsequent entry.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

I Miss Thorntree

I tried hunting for info on airport taxis in Vanuatu. You know, the kind of thing I'd once look up in my Lonely Planet, or after that, quickly hunt down an online personal account of someone who'd just done it and shared the price and if there had been a queue, or maybe just a link to a thread somewhere stating taxis are as easy as a shared shuttle.

I did eventually find (on a forum) that yes, there are plenty of fixed-rate taxis and I won't have a problem, but to get there I had to wade through SO MUCH CRAP. It really is astonishing just how worthless AI and content-mill articles are. Are there taxis? Why, yes. There will be taxis. The airport features taxis, a male toilet as well as a female toilet, and a baggage conveyor belt. The male toilet is located in a convenient location near the female toilet. The taxis are in a line near the location where baggage is available.

Thanks. How useful.

Reading these poorly written passages makes me laugh about the threat of AI. And then I write about AI, and then AI has more material to sample, so it can get better.

What could possibly go wrong, she says, hitting "Post."

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Why Is Everyone So Tall?

Yesterday was legendary editor Mike Carlin's last day at DC. Here he is with several of us current DC editors. 

 I couldn't find this photo on my phone, which was driving me crazy because I knew we'd taken it, and then Art Director Steve Cook sent it to me! He took it on his phone, not mine. Which is better as Steve is an actual photographer. 

All our best to Mike and Janice as Mike adjusts to life without a daily job focusing on Superman, Batman, and assorted others. (He lives about two miles away so this is not an actual goodbye, exactly, just congratulating him on a job well-done, and all the influence he had on comics, Superman, and us editors.) 

Also, I know many tall people.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Some Finished Pieces

Here's a couple pottery pieces I experimented with. I'm pretty pleased with how they came out.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Daniel Photo Book Panel

Here I am telling a story at the Daniel Johnston photo book event a few weeks ago. 

All the best to Jung Kim on her book IS ALWAYS. Thank you to Mike Lee for taking photos, and to Larry Hama and Jermaine McLaughlin for stopping by. And of course to Louis Black for inviting me to share his spotlight.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

New to Me

I am going to Vanuatu in 10 days, with short stopovers in New Caledonia and Sydney. 

And because I'm paranoid about the debt ceiling talks, I just got foreign currency ahead of time, for the first time since maybe 1992...

Happy Mother's Day

Here's my mom and her new kid, outside her (relatively) new house, where she has a new car too. 

Charlie here managed to send multiple cards this year. He's pretty clever for a dog. 

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, your moms, those of you with kids or cats or beagles, and all who celebrate! And I suppose to me too even though I'm not a mom, because today random strangers will say "Happy Mothers Day" to me and I'll look at them, confused...

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Kinda Look Like An Underwater Volcano


Making a slightly late birthday Bundt for Steve B.

Saturday, May 06, 2023

Friday, May 05, 2023

Looks Tasty

9 days ago? Missed opportunity, science! 

Please time future Bundt-related press releases for November.

Wednesday, May 03, 2023


There are always helicopters in Los Angeles.