Images from historic churches and monasteries in Bucovina and Moldova

In August of 2*** (regular readers will know the year 😁), we took a tour of the historic churches and monasteries in the provinces of Moldova and Bucovina (within the territory of Romania).

A clarification is in order here. When people hear Moldova they automatically think about the Republic of Moldova, which used to be part of the Romanian province of Moldova but was taken by the Russians in 1940. That whole region has a fairly tumultuous history which you can read here. Just keep in mind these photographs were taken within the current-day borders of Romania and yes, there are two provinces called Bucovina and Moldova in Romania. I’ve lost track of how many times people have tried to correct me on this, all of them foreigners…


I could have published individual posts of each place but that would have been tedious for me (and for you too). I know it was tedious for me when we visited these places, one after another, day after day, dealing with heat, huge crowds and the hospitality industry (you know, the three Hs of travel; they add together to form a fourth H which is a four-letter word)… but we had made a plan and we stuck to it. Romanians in general tend to make trips to these places yearly for religious reasons. We visited these places because of their historical and architectural value, so while we were there we saw as many as we could in the time we had allotted ourselves.

In this gallery of photographs (there are 134 of them), you will see images from the following places:

  • The wooden church in Șurdești (Maramureș), a UNESCO monument and also the highest wooden church in the world
  • Moldovița Monastery
  • Sucevița Monastery
  • Chilia lui Daniil Sihastrul
  • Putna Monastery
  • “Dragoș Vodă” wooden church
  • Voroneț Monastery, famous for the blue used in its exterior murals, called Voroneț Blue
  • Humorul Monastery
  • Arbore Church
  • Dragomirna Monastery
  • Agapia Monastery
  • Văratec Monastery
  • Neamț Monastery
  • Secu Monastery
  • Sihăstria Monastery

Since I arranged the photos in chronological order, you’ll see them just as they’re listed above. You’ll probably want to know which was my favorite place. Dragomirna Monastery, definitely! Enjoy the gallery and thanks for being a subscriber!

I kept things simple in terms of photo gear for this trip, because there were four of us in the car and I knew I’d have to deal with the 3Hs of travel I mentioned above. I shot mainly with my Canon EOS 5D and the EF 24-105mm f/4L lens. My backup camera was the Canon PowerShot G10.

Canon EOS 5D (front)

Canon EOS 5D

Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens

Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens

Canon PowerShot G10

Canon PowerShot G10


East meets West and troubles ensue

There’s a lot of talk and controversy in the news about the migrant issue nowadays. Some are calling it Europe’s biggest political issue in decades, and they’re partly right. It’s certainly a big issue, but it’s not as big now as it may get in the coming years, if it’s not addressed correctly.

Here’s what I think: it’s not about race, it’s not about color, it’s not about war or the economy; it’s about religious fanaticism vs. tolerance. That’s the subject that should be discussed openly here, without mincing words.

I’m not going to name any particular religion. I don’t need to. The question to ask is: how tolerant are the religions practiced by these migrants? I ask this question seriously, given the problems we have encountered in Europe just in the last decade, in France, in the UK and in other European countries, all caused (directly or indirectly) by religious fanaticism.

Given the problems caused by intolerant religions in Europe, do we really want to introduce more of those same problems into the mix? If you look at photos of the migrants, or even better, go and inspect the situation for yourselves, you will see an overwhelming abundance of young males. Let’s do some simple math: add impressionable young males, plus religions which espouse intolerance, and what does that equal? It equals more of what you can see in the UK or in France, in certain well-known places where normal people don’t dare venture for fear of being attacked or killed, simply because they’re not of the same religion or have a different skin color.

In today’s civilized world, where science is widespread and superstition is all but absent, there are certain religions that still cling to medieval practices, and those religions have no place whatsoever where civilized society lives. Not unless you want serious problems.

The real litmus test is this: go ahead and wear a t-shirt with a controversial message in Eastern countries where an intolerant religion thrives and see what happens to you. Then, should you live to tell the tale, wear a similarly controversial t-shirt (or even more so) in Western countries and see what happens there.

I’m not of any religion, because I prefer to think for myself instead of regurgitating what religious books teach me. But I certainly appreciate tolerance among those who are religious, because it is a sign of higher thinking, of “using one’s noggin”, to put it into American vernacular. It’s a clear sign that a particular religion has managed to pull itself out of medieval practices of torture and killing and has come out into the light of the modern, enlightened world. Sadly, some religions are still stuck in the past, hundreds of years behind the times and show no sign of wanting to progress. Those religions and their believers have no place in the civilized world. 

That’s what we should be talking about, because if this situation is dealt with correctly now, we’ll avoid a whole slew of problems later on down the line, such as the de-stabilization of European society and the safety of its citizens, and the regression of our Western civilization down to the levels we can now see in Eastern countries, which is unthinkable.


Barack Obama for the win

Barack Obama ‘08I felt compelled to post this after watching Barack Obama’s “Call to Renewal” speech, given on 6/28/06 in Washington, DC. I’ve supported Sen. Obama for the last few months, and after watching this, I know I want to see him as president.

Obama is the kind of man that appeals to my heart and mind. He is a highly intelligent person who takes the time to think through issues that matter. He wants to find the common ground between the various faiths that exist in this country, and to unite us under common moral and ethical goals instead of using the popular (and disgusting) method of “divide and conquer”, employed by most politicians nowadays.

There is nothing moral or ethical in polarizing people’s points of views and creating large gaps in beliefs, which discourages plurality and discussion toward the common good. Yet most preachers and Republicans do it. It’s a filthy practice which has people voting for certain questionable candidates simply because their churches or local leaders endorse them.

I’m going to ask you to handle this election differently. I want each of you reading this to make up your own minds about who you’ll vote for. Speaking as a Christian, that’s the way God would have it. That’s why He gave us the privilege of free choice.

If you’re concerned about faith and how Barack Obama handles his, then please watch this video. He talks in no uncertain terms about religion and politics, about his own faith in God (yes, he’s a Christian), and about the many hot-button issues tied to religion (like abortion) that are at the forefront nowadays.

I would love to see Sen. Obama be our next president. There is such a precedent-shattering contrast between him and our current administration…

Obama can express himself, he can think, and he is a logical, rational person who makes me confident that he will be able to handle difficult situations and make the right choice. Plainly put, Obama is a leader.

Please, take the time to watch his Call to Renewal video. It’s 40 minutes long, but you will not regret a single minute of that time after you’ve watched it. You can also find it on his website in the Speeches section (browse for Call to Renewal). And please, tell your friends about it. It’s worth spreading the word about this!


Condensed knowledge for 2007-05-14

Today’s calorie-free serving:

  • Clive Thompson from the NYT has a detailed write-up of what’s involved if small bands want to get their name out there these days. The almost-requisite MySpace page is a given… But while the web makes it easy for them to get their names out there, keeping up with the fans becomes a full-time computer job — just what they were trying to avoid when they became musicians. And at some point, the relationship reaches a plateau. A single human being can only keep up with a limited number of fans before they are overwhelmed. But the fans don’t care, they each want personal interaction. Sounds like a very non-fun experience for the musician.
  • Mandy Sellars in England suffers from a very rare condition called Proteus Syndrome. She will likely lose her legs. The article talks about her desire to experience life, and daily struggles.
  • This is good reading for us IT geeks: Top 7 things system administrators forget to do.
  • The NYT has a great profile of Walt Mossberg. The article not only talks about his career, but also about where things are going in terms of journalism when you factor in this “new media” we keep hearing about…
  • Mental_floss talks about the world’s most wanted (and expensive) poo. It’s ambergris. Yuck.
  • Look At This has posted a full-length movie called “When the Wind Blows“. It’s about an elderly couple who build a bomb shelter. When nuclear war breaks out, they survive, but unfortunately succumb to the fallout radiation while waiting for the government to help them. Here’s a direct link to the video.
  • According to this article, Bill O’Reilly uses old propaganda techniques to bias his listeners toward those he doesn’t agree with. Interesting stuff.
  • A pair of falcons has made their nest in the building of the San Jose City Hall, and they’ve installed a falcon cam for us web visitors. Neat!
  • Some charlatan who claims he’s Jesus Christ incarnate is fooling plenty of people down in Orlando. Don’t these people bother to read the Bible?
  • A brave little terrier saved 5 New Zealand kids from being torn up by violent pit bulls. Unfortunately it ended up so injured they needed to put him to sleep, but the children weren’t hurt.
  • Apparently ceiling height can affect how people think and act. A taller ceiling can make you more creative and artistic. Very interesting stuff!
  • Weirdomatic has a post with examples of old, creepy ads. I don’t know, Max Factor’s beauty micrometer seems reasonable enough, given the need to look fairly perfect on screen. Have a look and decide for yourselves.

Meet LaserMonk in Chief

You wouldn’t think a monastery deep in the western woods of Wisconsin would be involved with re-manufactured laser printer cartridges, but there they are, a multimillion dollar business, up to their necks in profits… See, the monastery was in dire financial straits, and Father Bernard McCoy, now the Chief Operating Monk, struggled to keep it afloat. One day it struck him as he searched for a way to save on toner cartridges. Why not tell others about the great deal he got? And why not act as the middle man and purchase these cartridges for them?

The monastery’s initial investment of $2,000 turned into $2.3 million in sales in 2005, and is expected to double this year. The monastery is out of the pits, and can now afford a private plane and a horse stable, among other perks. How do they manage the profits? The monks are all volunteers working for the monastery, and take no salary. LaserMonks is a non-profit. To top it off, Father Bernard has high plans. He wants to take over the toner market. With this sort of a business model, they’re a real threat to their competitors. I have to wonder about the scalability and sustainability of their business, but only time will tell.


Personal beliefs can pit healthcare workers against patients and colleagues has an article which details the pitfalls that await patients and healthcare workers when personal beliefs intersect with medical care. Some state laws are widening this intersection as well. The article offers potential solutions to the problem.