kshandra: (Wedding)
Istanbul at sunset, as seen from the water, with Galata Tower in the distance

A generous benefactor has made up the last not-quite-$300 to get us to our $12,500 goal (the $8,500 you see on the site, plus the $4,000 contribution from my employer).

Our flight leaves in 81 days.

This is really happening, and I will NEVER have the words to thank you all.
kshandra: (Wedding)
Folks, this is it. The last time we're going to bug you about our trip to Istanbul. We've decided to make December 31st the day we stop pimping the trip, and start focusing on going.

Thanks to your amazing generosity, and with the boost from EarthBaby, we've raised a stunning $11,640. We're just $860 from reaching a goal that frankly scared the hell out of us when we started this thing. Because of you, we have already purchased:

In the coming weeks, we'll be booking tours and dinner cruise reservations, getting our visas, and doing the eight million last-second things that this trip requires. [personal profile] gridlore is actually upset that 2016 is a leap year, because it means waiting one more day.

But we want to end this year's fundraising with a bang. If everyone reading this gives just a little - ten bucks, five, even a dollar - we can meet the goal and be secure in the knowledge that we are paid for.

So ring that bell a few more times before we ring in the new year.

Thanks again to all of you for making this happen. Doug is getting to see a place he's dreamed of since childhood, we're both getting an amazing 25th anniversary trip, and you will get a ton of photos.
kshandra: jointed teddy bear, standing upright, wearing a faux-leather flying helmet and jacket, goggles, and "silk" scarf (Aviator)
The Süleymaniye Mosque (as featured in our cover photo) has been near the top of our to-see list for as long as we've been planning this trip. But while this may have been the final resting place of Suleiman the Magnificent, it was not his only resting place. Though his body was returned to Constantinople, historians believe that his heart and other internal organs were buried at the site of the battle where he was killed, in a tomb erected on the site where his tent had stood.

And now, there is evidence that the lost tomb of Suleiman has been found. (No, we will not be planning a second trip to Hungary, much to [personal profile] gridlore's disappointment.)

kshandra: Rich Uncle Pennybags, pockets turned out and palms upturned, over a background of Monopoly money (Broke)
back-dated, as I apparently failed to crosspost this originally

So Douglas and I spent our Giving Tuesday giving several hundred dollars to AAA, paying for our travel insurance. (That rush of air you feel is my mother-in-law heaving a sigh of relief.) Our three biggest expenses are now paid in full...with five months left to go before our trip. There aren't words to express what a relief that is.

We would love to be able to close out 2015 knowing that we have reached our goal. If 35 people give just $25 each between now and the end of the year, we can do that.

kshandra: jointed teddy bear, standing upright, wearing a faux-leather flying helmet and jacket, goggles, and "silk" scarf (Aviator)
Things have been a little quiet on the fundraiser front lately, due to the accident and associated hassles getting in the way of making regular updates. But while we may have the two biggest hurdles cleared, we still haven't quite reached our goal. It's absolutely within our reach, though. [personal profile] gridlore just did the math, and if we can clear just $70 a week in donations between now and the end of March, we're there. And our average contribution has actually gone up since the last time I checked - from $93 to $98.

So let's talk a little about what the rest of that money covers. Those of you who follow Doug on Facebook may have seen his post about The Big Bus, a hop-on, hop-off double decker tour bus operating two different routes in Istanbul. The Red Route crosses the Bosphorus Bridge connecting Europe and Asia (did you know that Istanbul spans two continents?) and takes us past such sites as Galata Tower, Dolmabahçe Palace, Taksim Square and Beylerbeyi Palace; the Blue Route takes us around the top of the Golden Horn, passing Miniatürk, the Dolphinarium, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the cast-iron Church of St Stephen of the Bulgars. Both routes begin and end in Sultanahmet, just a quick tram ride away from our hotel. And a 48-hour pass, allowing us to do the Red Route one day and the Blue Route on the next, is €40 per person - less if we book them online.

All aboard!

banner from the Big Bus Tours Istanbul site, featuring several of the landmarks seen from the tour
kshandra: Rich Uncle Pennybags, pockets turned out and palms upturned, over a background of Monopoly money (Broke)
...when your bank's fraud-protection unit works TOO well...

The charge for the hotel room was blocked. I got an email notification, and I logged in immediately to say "Yes, this IS a valid purchase," but the transaction still got reversed. I called the bank, who said that they'll accept the transaction if the vendor resubmits, but they can't call it back once it's been reversed; I called Hilton HHonors, who actually called the front desk at the Doubletree Istanbul Old Town for me. As they're 10 hours ahead, the reservations department has quite sensibly already gone home for the night, but should be back tomorrow "until noon" (though the Honors rep wasn't too certain of whether that was noon their time, her time, or my time). For once, my nocturnal nature is a point in my favor, as I'll be able to call before I go to bed tonight and see if we can fix this.

Yes, this is one more hassle in a week that has been nothing but for me, but as I said to [personal profile] gridlore, imagine if I hadn't tried to make an $1100 purchase and the bank let it through without question.
kshandra: jointed teddy bear, standing upright, wearing a faux-leather flying helmet and jacket, goggles, and "silk" scarf (Aviator)

Featured wrap: Bon Voyage

As some of you are already aware, I was introduced to Jamberry Nails earlier this year by a dear friend. I'd always been a fan of my awesome friends' awesome manicures, but I gave up trying to maintain my own years ago - I'd spend all the money on having them professionally done, and I'd screw it up before I even got home from the salon (seriously, I dinged two nails beyond recognition once just getting back into my car). But after doing Jamberry's 7-day challenge this spring, I was a convert.

My consultant, GlitterGirl, has generously offered to run a virtual Jamberry party for me on Facebook as a fundraiser for the trip - instead of earning hostess gifts, a portion of the sales from the party will go directly towards the cost of our incidentals while we're abroad. And with holiday shopping just around the corner (how did THAT happen?!), this is a great opportunity to pick up some stocking stuffers or a gift certificate for that hard-to-shop-for friend while raising money for a great cause.

At least, we think it's a great cause. ;-)

The party starts next Monday, and if you're interested, send me a message on Facebook and I'll send you an invitation to the party and a link to a form to fill out for free samples to start your own 7-day challenge. If you're not on FB, but you'd still like to check out what's available, I can get you instructions on how to place your order so I still get the credit for it. And if nail wraps don't interest you at all, the original fundraiser is still open. ;-)
kshandra: jointed teddy bear, standing upright, wearing a faux-leather flying helmet and jacket, goggles, and "silk" scarf (Aviator)
We really did it.

After a couple of phone calls with my bosses earlier today, I just finished booking the plane tickets. (I'd been hoping to wait until mid-week, as prices tend to be slightly lower, but our orignally-planned return date is already sold out, so I figured I better jump.) Once the funds transfer from our savings account to checking, I can book the hotel room next week, and those are the two biggest expenditures out of the way.

We're going to Istanbul.

Thank you all, so very, very much.


These last couple of posts have been pretty light on eye candy, so here. (Warning, autoplay audio)

kshandra: Rich Uncle Pennybags, pockets turned out and palms upturned, over a background of Monopoly money (Broke)
My boss checked his frequent-flyer mileage balance, and discovered that the lion's share of his miles expired at the end of 2014 after he didn't renew the credit card they were linked to. So I started looking at other flights, operating on the premise that we would have to go fully out of pocket for the cost of the tickets. I found a flight on a different airline, with only one stop of a reasonable duration, for less than $3000/ticket, and sent the info back to my boss (who is currently out of state himself with limited online access).

36 hours later, I still hadn't heard back from him...and the new flight I had found was now $80/ticket MORE than the non-stop flight on Turkish Air that we'd been looking at in the first place.


We're so close to getting everything booked I can practically hear the seagulls over the Bosphorus Strait. Which makes a delay like this all the more frustrating, especially with the price tag it looks like it may carry with it, as well.

kshandra: jointed teddy bear, standing upright, wearing a faux-leather flying helmet and jacket, goggles, and "silk" scarf (Aviator)
Today's eye candy has been [personal profile] gridlore's touchstone throughout the campaign: The Hagia Sophia.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
(Photo by Esther Lee)

From its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as a Greek Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from May 1453 until 1931, then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.

That's what Wikipedia has to say. But simple facts can't express how much Doug needs to go there.

I first read about the Hagia Sophia when I was 13 or so. It immediately caught my imagination. The more I studied the Byzantine Empire (and now the Ottoman Empire) the more I came to see how this one building seemed to be at the center of so many pivotal events. It has been witness to coronations grand and pathetic, murders and heroic stands, clerics both noble and scheming. My favorite tale of the building is the legend that when Mehet's troops broke through the doors, the priests who had been saying prayers for the city's salvation around the clock picked up the holy relics on the altar and walked into the walls. They'll stay there until a Christian Emperor takes back the city.

When we get there, we'll see if we can't convince them to come out.

Thanks again to everyone who has contributed so far. Just 18 more people donating $100 each gets us to our goal. (Our average contribution has been $97.87, so that's entirely possible.) And remember: we are offering a PDF collection of Doug's better journal posts collected by Hugo Award winner Chris Garcia for any donation of $50 or more, and Doug is still offering places in his NaNoWriMo project.
kshandra: jointed teddy bear, standing upright, wearing a faux-leather flying helmet and jacket, goggles, and "silk" scarf (Aviator)
[Originally posted to our campaign page on Sunday. Generosity (formerly Indiegogo Life) are still working out the last few bugs with the FB crossposter; between that and yesterday's to-do, it's taken me longer than I would have liked to finish sharing this around.]

Today's eye candy (and history lesson) is the Blue Mosque.

Inside Blue Mosque 3.jpg
"Inside Blue Mosque 3" by Christian Perez - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Sultan Ahmet I was both politically and strategically incompetent. Under his rule, the Empire lost huge areas on both the eastern and western frontiers. At home, his attempts to enforce rigid religious orthodoxy infuriated the bulk of Constantinople's Muslim population and caused near riots among non-Muslims out of fear of forced conversion. His death in 1617 led to years of ineffective government as palace factions fought for control.

So why is there an entire district of Istanbul's Old City called Sultanahmet? Because the one thing Ahmet did right was order the destruction of the old Byzantine palace ruins and the construction of a mosque in its place. Here, too, he made enemies, though. He emptied the imperial treasury to build it, which got the religious courts furious with him. Then he decided that it had to be far more impressive than the neighboring Ayasafya, coming to the conclusion that putting up six minarets would be just the thing. This set the traditionalists off, as the Grand Mosque in Mecca was the only mosque in the world with six minarets. (To make up for this gaffe, Ahmet funded a seventh minaret for Mecca.)

With the matching funds from EarthBaby, we are just $1,895 from reaching our goal. If just 40 people can find $50 to donate, we can close the books well ahead of our original timeline.

Thank you all, so much.
kshandra: jointed teddy bear, standing upright, wearing a faux-leather flying helmet and jacket, goggles, and "silk" scarf (Aviator)
I keep staring at the numbers, and they don't get any smaller.


We're halfway there. Further than that, because we've maxed out the matching grant from my employers. We were going to deduct that $4K from the total to reflect the offline contribution, but that doesn't appear to be an option. (It's easier than asking my boss to make the donation, only to hand the funds right back to him to purchase the plane tickets, since he's the one with the frequent flyer miles.)

There will never be enough words to thank you all for this.
kshandra: jointed teddy bear, standing upright, wearing a faux-leather flying helmet and jacket, goggles, and "silk" scarf (Aviator)
We are just $400 away from hitting the ceiling on the dollar-for-dollar donation match offer from my wonderful bosses at EarthBaby. With those matching funds, we go over ten grand. That means this becomes real. Because then we can start blocking out dates, making flight and hotel reservations, starting the visa process.

We're still working to hit our total goal, but this hurdle is the big one. Let's knock it out of the park!


Remember, any donation of $50 or more gets the collection of some of [personal profile] gridlore's best blog posts as compiled by two-time Hugo Award winner Christopher J Garcia. And there are still chances to become a character in Doug's NaNoWriMo project in exchange for a donation. "An excellent holiday gift," Doug notes, "and far more legit than those star registry scams!" Details here.

Thanks to everyone for your generosity and kindness. Y'all are amazing.
kshandra: a stack of hardback books, spines facing away (Books)
[personal profile] gridlore has an offer for you today:

I'm working on a novel for NaNoWriMo. Working title is The Prophet Principle and it's a SF thriller/caper novel. I will finish this and publish it through Createspace. I'll be honest; this book is unlikely to win a Hugo, or sell more than a few dozen copies. But I think it will be fun and I am determined to be published.

But here's the thing. . .

I suck at names. I tend to use name generators, which are fine, but I would prefer to both do something fun and raise some money for the trip. So I'm selling naming rights.

I have about ten characters who will be in most of the book. About half will die along the way. Here's the deal.

For a $250 donation to the fund, I'll name my protagonist after you, or whoever you want. I'll take your description or photo, any mannerisms or quirks, and write them in. Note the character is a confidence artist and thief.

For a $100 donation to the fund, you get to name one of the supporting characters. Some of these characters have roles established, so we might have to find a good fit.

For $50, your name gets mentioned. Somewhere. Random bartender, Krazy [name]'s Used Starships, mook who gets killed and his mate goes nuts screaming "They killed [name]!" As above, but details will be limited.

When the book is published, I'll autograph a copy and mail to all the people who became part of it.

For those of you who have already contributed, if you're interested in being in one of Doug's other stories, drop us a line.

kshandra: jointed teddy bear, standing upright, wearing a faux-leather flying helmet and jacket, goggles, and "silk" scarf (Aviator)
[personal profile] gridlore and I just got an amazing offer from my employer.

Between now and Thanksgiving, EarthBaby has committed to matching, dollar-for-dollar, every contribution we receive, up to a total of $4,000.00. This gets us to the $10K mark, at which point we can seriously begin booking flights and making reservations.

In addition, some time in the next week or two, we will be able to offer a great perk to everyone who contributes $50 or more. Details to follow.

You can see the wide range of contributions we've gotten so far - everything from $1 to $500. Every one of these contributions gets us closer to our goal, and for the next two months, every one of these contributions gets us twice as far.

Teşekkür ederiz, once again, to everyone who has contributed so far; if you haven't yet, and have been thinking about doing so, please consider doing it during this matching period. And whether you can contribute or not, please, PLEASE boost the signal. It's every bit as important that we get our campaign in front of as many fresh eyeballs as possible.

kshandra: (Wedding)
I remain humbled and grateful, and will find the time to respond to all of you individually at some point.

As those of you who follow us on social media have already seen, [personal profile] gridlore and I spent yesterday afternoon/evening in the ER, after a drop in his potassium levels left him with one foot that wasn't responding to his commands as we were walking through the mall. Fortunately, we were less than 5 minutes from the hospital, and were in and out in less than 5 hours, but it only serves to underline the importance of making this trip happen sooner, rather than later.

I want these updates to be focusing on the positive aspects of our fundraiser, though, so here is today's eye candy. Istanbul Sirkeci Terminal was built in 1890 as the eastern terminus of the legendary Orient Express. Today, it houses the Istanbul Railway Museum. Doug wants a trench coat and a fedora before we go to visit, and it's not hard to see why.

Sirkeci-station Orient Express.JPG
"Sirkeci-station Orient Express". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


Again, thank you all for your support, in whatever form it takes.
kshandra: jointed teddy bear, standing upright, wearing a faux-leather flying helmet and jacket, goggles, and "silk" scarf (Aviator)
I still can't quite believe it. "Thank you" isn't strong enough, but it's what I've got.

kshandra: (Wedding)
This is without question the biggest thing either of us has ever asked for, and that makes it damn scary. No doubt there are some of you who will call it irresponsible; that's your right, and I'm not going to try and change your minds. But [personal profile] gridlore asked, and there were friends of his who said they would be willing to help us if we put the word out. And so we have.

Click here to see our Indiegogo Life campaign
kshandra: Rich Uncle Pennybags, pockets turned out and palms upturned, over a background of Monopoly money (Broke)
The funds are back in my WePay account as I type this; hopefully, Chris will make good on their word and expedite the transfer into the correct account. Once again, kudos to them for handling my error with aplomb and empathy.
kshandra: Butterfly-shaped pewter paperweight, engraved with the Serenity Prayer (Serenity)
I'm so glad you didn't ask...

Seriously, it's fucking rough. I'm almost three months into the process, and my hunger/fullness cues STILL aren't responding to the levels of nutrition I'm taking in. (I've had some particularly triggery thoughts on that score lately that I won't repeat here...but I'll be sharing them with my treatment team.) And after close to 35 years of being inundated with diet culture, it's almost impossible for me not to be results-oriented in the process.

GoFundMe keeps sending occasional reminders to me to post more updates, to keep my fundraiser in the "public" eye. But it's hard to talk about it when there's nothing I feel like I can point to and say "See? Progress!" Everyone who has contributed so far has, by doing so, said they believe in me...and I'm desperately afraid of letting all of you down.


kshandra: The Burning Man effigy, lit in blue neon, arms by his sides; an orange half-moon is visible over his shoulder. (Default)kshandra

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