The Clean Up Crew - a flock of white egrets chasing the mower as the grass is cut.

A lot of white egrets on a mown lawn with a mixture trees and bushes around. A patch of blue sky with storm clouds brewing.

The Wall that Heals

A wall standing on grass with names on it extends to the distance. Leis are draped over it, flower offerings on the grass and people in the background

A little over two weeks ago The Wall that Heals, a touring replica of the Vietnam Wall Memorial hosted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, arrived in Maui. It was here for five days, and I went to visit it the day before it left. I saw the actual Memorial in Washington DC almost forty years ago, and although then I knew no one connected with the war and indeed little about the war, I found the Wall very moving.

When I heard of this replica’s visit to the island I decided that I wanted to visit. By the time that it had arrived on Maui I had a cold that was depleting my energy. Nevertheless, I did not want to miss the opportunity and one morning drove to the War Memorial Stadium where it was being housed. I was planning to be home within a couple of hours…that didn’t happen.

The Wall tours in a truck. When it arrives at its next destination, the sides of the truck serve as an exhibition relating the history of the war through words, videos and relics. The Wall itself is housed in sections inside the truck, and is taken out and assembled upon arrival at the new destination.

I found the exhibition very informative and moving, and this was a good part of what caused me to be later home than my planned couple of hours. With the Wall situated inside the stadium, noise from outside was muted, providing a quiet, reflective atmosphere for your time at the Wall. I started and one end and slowly made my way to the other. Previous visitors had left flowers and notes in memory of fallen family members. I located some of those soldiers, and it gave for me a greater sense of connection to these names just being ordinary people who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances.

I walked the length of the Wall, past the names of over 58,000 American soldiers who died between 1955 to 1975. The magnitude of the Memorial and accompanying exhibition, along with many conflicting questions and maybe sadness as well, caused me to forget my cold until I was on my way home.

A table outside set for dinner last night, with friends having just arrived from out of State. Although a fire was lit in the fire pit and chairs set around it, a stormy evening dissuaded anyone (apart from myself) from hanging out around it.

A table outside but undercover set for dinner. A fire pit with chairs around it at the end of the table.

Well that was an unintended and interesting experiment today. In getting ready to take our visitors out today I left my phone at home. I realized that I didn’t have it with me on our first stop. For the most part I did not miss it, in fact I noticed that my biggest concern was that it was indeed at home and not dropped and so lost somewhere (I had a leather version of Apple’s Wallet attached to the phone’s back, and so there was an added concern of the cards in the wallet). But at times I did notice a niggle, an itch for my phone. I also notice now the sense of relief and comfort at having it back in my orbit.

I have intentionally left my phone behind before, but I rarely have I forgotten it. In this day an age of awareness around people’s reliance and attachment to their phone, I was interested in just how I reacted to having unintentionally left it behind.

πŸš— We have family visiting for a week and so we’re heading out today to show them some of the island.

This small island is full of microclimates. Overcast and wet here, sun where we are heading.

Well I’m having another break/halt on progress with the Watch to 5K program that I am following. The cause this time is a migraine. I have been getting them for many years, forty five to be exact, though of late their frequency has diminished. Still when I do get them they last for three days and doing something strenuous like running is just too uncomfortable. Hoping to be back out there again soon.

β˜• Trying a third cup of coffee this morning as a remedy against this migraine that I have been nurturing since yesterday.

πŸ˜” I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. It was warm and comfortable. That was as unusual for me, as I am not normally one to lie around in bed. I am feeling a little bleh as well, which surely contributed towards me not wanting to move.

This afternoon’s rainbow, with a second very faint one just above it. 🌈

A rainbow over a hedge with a dark sky. A propane tank is in the middle of the hedge. A lawn in the foreground has the shadow of a roof on it.

Another Watch to 5K run under my belt, ending my second run through (pun not intended) of the second week. I felt a little stiff to start off, and was careful to pace myself better this time. By the end I had not quite run as far as last time, but felt better in myself.

How I'm Capturing the Photographs for the Travel Stories

A dark room with a slide being projected onto a wall. In the foreground are lights from the projector, from where the photo is being taken
A slide being projected onto a wall in a darkened room.

When I set off on my travels in the mid 1980’s, I took a SLR camera with me. From my memory I had two lenses, a 35mm and a zoom lens the size of which I cannot remember. I believe that I also had a couple of filters with me. I did not know a lot about photography, though had been reading a little on the subject, and wanted to take the best photos that I could to remember and give me a flavour of my time away.

I decided to take slide film, though I cannot remember what drove that decision? Based on my reading, the film that I decided to take with me was Kodachrome 64. The price of purchasing the film also included the developing of it by Kodak. When you bought a roll of film, they provided you with an envelope with which to return the exposed film to Kodak for processing. I purchased a number of rolls and they were going to last me for the time that I was away. I had no idea if film would be available where I was travelling to, and so I left home with the understanding that what I took with me had to last the entire trip. So I had to make sure that I had enough film and at the same time did not get carried away snapping shots. I was not travelling with the largest backpack.

Again from my memory, I carried these films around with me for all the time that I was away. In the case of the images that I have shown here to date, that was a year long trip. Once I was back home I mailed them all off to Kodak to be developed, and thankfully they survived the trip in one piece.

A bustling train station in India with passengers walking, standing, and talking; some are seated waiting for trains. Platform shelters and station signage are visible, alongside luggage and a vendor cart. The view is framed by a train on the right edge.
A bustling train station somewhere in India, taken from the door of a train.

Now that I am revisiting those years on the road, I needed some way to get them from slide into my digital world. I believe that there are some services out there that will digitize your analogue images, but this wasn’t going to work for me, at least not right now. My slides are in a mess, there are a lot of them, and so I am working my way through them in a rather hit and miss manner. And I want them now, so that I can write as I come across images. Digitization might come in time, but not yet. So here is plan B.

Plan B

Plan B happened by accident. One evening I set some of my slides in a carousel and loaded them into my projector. In a darkened room my wife, Melissa, and I sat down to look at the images, for me to be reminded of places that I had forgotten about, and for Melissa to see where I travelled to during my earlier years. While we were watching them, Melissa liked some of the images so much that she used her phone to capture what we were looking at.

Bingo!

A small square in Kathmandu surrounded by many buildings. In the middle is an old Buddhist Stupa with prayer wheels around it. A string of old prayer flags hang from its top. In front a group of men sit on the ground, one with an umbrella to shade from the sun. A klutch of bicycles lie against a concrete base of a pole. To the right a man cycles away. In the foreground a porter carries an enormous white load using a hemp rope over his forehead
A small square in Kathmandu. The porters could carry impossible loads.

I now had a way of getting the photos from analogue to digital. I initially did some colour editing of the phone captured images, but did not like the results. So now I just leave them, just editing to straighten the images as they are captured at an angle to the wall projection to avoid shadows creeping onto the images from the projector light. The result might not be as good as a scanned, digitized image, but with the quality of phone cameras these days, I am more than happy with the result; the slightly vintage, aged look lending a mood to the photos.

And perhaps most important for me are the memories that these images invoke. I am returning to them after a period of almost thirty five years.

A female tourist and a policeman consulting a book, possibly a travel book, in the middle of a busy Indian road.
A tourist consulting a book with an Indian policeman.

I headed out on my Watch to 5K program this morning. With me repeating earlier weeks due to my time off from having a cold, I was running easier, I noticed that. Though if there is something that I learnt today, it is to better pace myself. I think that I went off too fast on the earlier runs and felt it, and ran at a slightly slower pace on the later runs.

iA have just updated the iA Writer beta to 7.1. This update includes a major overhaul of Writer’s integration with Apple Shortcuts bringing with it 18 new actions. iA provide some example Shortcuts to demonstrate what can be achieved now.

As my main writing app alongside Drafts, I welcome this addition and exploring how I might use it.

The Story Behind the Photograph: From the Roof of a Bus

A view from the roof of a moving bus. A small paved road in India. On either side is brown dust and trees. Buildings and maybe a temple are visible on the left. Directly behind the bus is donkey drawn buggy with a few people in and good on the roof. Behind that a little ways off is a bus with people and luggage sitting on the roof. The bus is half in the dirt, half on the road. Going in the opposite direction is a bicycle with someone riding on the back. People can be seen in the background. A telegraph pole and wires run down the righthand side of the road
Road from Gaya to Bodhgaya from the roof of a bus

Following my time in Patna, I continued my journey onto Bodhgaya by catching a train to the city of Gaya. I travelled to Gaya by train along with an American, Ray, whom I had met in Patna. I had an omelette for breakfast in my hotel room, settled up with the hotel owner and then caught a rickshaw along with Ray to the railway station. There was a lot of misunderstanding between us and the rickshaw driver, and when we settled up on arrival we weren’t sure if his annoyance was because we’d paid too little, or if it was a show to get some more money? We chose to leave things as they were. I went to buy a newspaper to read on the journey and then went to find our train and carriage. On reaching our second class seats there was still plenty of room on board. However, the train soon filled up and by the time that we were underway seating became tight and squashed even though we thought that the express train that we were on would negate that experience. This was our first Indian train and we were still learning.

Seated, I picked up the newspaper that I had bought earlier. I had a quick flick through it and passed it onto Ray, not engaging much with the stories. Ray quickly passed it back to me, pointing out the article below.

Newspaper clipping from The Times of India on November 14, 1989, announcing the unveiling of a Buddha statue on November 18 at the Daijokyo Buddhist temple in Bodhgaya by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

I couldn’t believe it. Just to say that at that time I didn’t really know who the Dalai Lama was. I was aware of his existence, but that was about it. And this was 1989. He wasn’t the world figure that he is today. Subsequently, people who I met who had been around him for a number of years prior said that 1989 was the year that things changed for His Holiness. That was the year that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and really came to the world’s attention.

All of this aside, I was still excited. I had an unexpected but growing interest in Buddhism, was traveling to Bodhgaya because of this (I did not know of the village’s existence when I left home just over four months earlier), and now I find out that the Dalai Lama would be there at the same time that I was visiting.

We spent a day in Gaya, just exploring the streets making up the city. As in Patna we encountered demonstrations related to the upcoming elections. Nothing to disrupt our day, but another presence in the town. I had read and noted in my journal that Gaya,

is 2nd only to Varanasi in its sanctity.

Here is what I wrote about some of those wanderings.

We headed off through the crowded shopping streets, street vendors selling peanuts, fruits and a few other concoctions. We disappeared down some further backstreets, finding ourselves staired [sic] at a lot. We passed what appeared to be a loading bay for sacks of this and that. Back streets were filthy, really dirty. Stagnant black, scummy water in open drains. Piles of rubbish, there is one across the road from the hotel which the cows make good use of. Muddy streets, black mud, and ponds lying in the middle of the road. Rickshaws go by ringing bells, bicycles go by ringing bells, scouters go by making rasping noises with horns, autorickshaws, later in the day heat & dust.

We found the Vishnupad Mandir on the banks of the Phalgu River on which Gaya itself also sits. Not being Hindus, we were not allowed in the temple, but that did not matter. Gaya was offering us a lot to take in as it was. The river itself was more like a series of smaller rivers right now. There were people down by the river washing clothes, hanging around or making their way across. Dogs and cows joined them.

The Phalgu River in the Indian city of Gaya. The mostly dried up river is now a series of small rivers and puddles. People cross singularly and in groups, some pushing bicycles, some carrying baskets, sacks and other goods. Cows are also in the river, old and young. A couple of people are bathing. Some are washing clothes
The Phalgu River in Gaya

Ray and I found a chai store where we sat down to eat, drink and watch life go by - a favourite occupation of mine.

The next day we travelled south to Bodhgaya. Rickshaw drivers and private vehicle owners tried to tempt us with rides for the 13km journey to Gaya, but we opted for the cheapest option - a Rs1.50 bus journey and the subject matter of the photograph at the top of this piece. We sat on the the roof to enjoy the journey and better see the environment that we were passing through. Leaving Gaya we had to be careful of low hanging power cables, but once out of town that was no longer a bother. Again, I’ll let my journal tell the tale,

…through flat agricultural land, small temples here and there, horse carts, autorickshaws, buses, horns honking. On our left was the dried up River Phalgu.

Arriving in Bodhgaya we had a chai before going off looking for accommodation. I scouted while Ray watched our backpacks. Finally housed in a hotel we went off to take a look around the village and see what Bodhgaya had install for us.

I’ve been experimenting with NetNewsWire’s iCloud service. Thanks to the RSS feed that Micro.blog offers for its Bookmarks feature, I have set myself up with a read it later service in within NetNewsWire. I hope that I don’t over use it as I have a tendency to not read articles later, but all the same, it is nice to have this feature.

Alongside that, I have set up an Apple Shortcut so that if there is a feed elsewhere in NetNewsWire that I want to read later, I can add it to my Micro.blog Bookmarks.

What fun. Now I feel clever!

It has been a week and a half since I last completed a run for the Watch to 5K program that I am following. I’ve had a cold that has lingered, has sapped my strength and made me feel like doing anything but run. Although not quite there in terms of healing, I felt that I was well enough today to run and so put on my running shoes and headed out.

When I last went out I had just finished week 3. However, with the week and a half break behind me I decided to go back to the start of week 2. Maybe the start of week 3 would have been a good place to restart, but I didn’t find that an easy week, and was not comfortable that week 3 would be an easy place to start running again, especially as I am still early on in the program. I want to enjoy this, not make it an endurance test.

So week 2 it was, and I felt that I handled it well. Despite the gusty wind, the running felt easier and stronger than the first time that I went through that week, and so I am going to chalk that up to progress being made. That has given me encouragement, and I now I am looking forward to getting back into my running routine again.

πŸ“… This has been a strange weekend for me. The grandkids were off school on Friday and I kept thinking that it was Saturday.

On Saturday I couldn’t get it out of my head that it was Sunday, and then today I wanted it to be Monday.

With tomorrow being a public holiday here in the US, Presidents Day, I’m wondering what day I will wake up to?!

β˜€οΈ It feels good to see the sun this evening after a couple of days of cloud and rain. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy moody weather, but on this still evening the heat of the sun brings some warmth and rest.

My default search engine for a number of years now has been DuckDuckGo. In the past I have also used their browser and their privacy based (redirect) email service. I have been happy with DuckDuckGo’s service, never questioning the quality of their search results. Now though I am exploring Kagi as a possible replacement. Why? That’s a good question, for which I don’t think that I have a good, clear answer. Praise or at least mention of Kagi’s service passing across my timelines has probably played a part in this decision.

I’m not sure that I am comfortable with paying for my searches after years of them being ‘free’. For now I am on Kagi’s free, 100 search trial. I might keep DuckDuckGo in another browser and run comparative searches to compare the services. I have also read of other features within Kagi that I am not clear about at this stage and must try and remember to explore these.

Privacy is important to me within search, the reason that I stay away for the most part from the big search engines. At this stage though, I don’t know if for me the privacy of Kagi is worth a move away from DuckDuckGo?

🚽 If someone redesigned the humble toilet brush, making it more hygienic, I believe that they would be onto something.