Jul 17

Today we went global

I sat in a chair for about an hour and moved three faders up and down at the appropriate time and listened to three ladies talk about their time in town, in the state, in the country. It was a multinational show, you see. The ladies are from Zimbabwe, Mali and Mozambique. They are here, 25 in all, from 20 African nations, young leaders in a six-week academic and leadership institute called the Mandela Washington Fellowship. It is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative.

They did two shows today and we recorded one last week. They are really passionate, thoughtful people. I’m just moving faders and listening closely. They have a lot to say. I have a lot to learn.

Here they are now, in the production booth:

The composition was a deliberate choice. I didn’t say anything, it seemed right.

I think we’re in week three of their visit. I hope I get to see them a few more times while they are in town.

Meanwhile, on the site we are returning to a dormant section of the site. We’re back to checking out historicals markers. I haven’t uploaded anything there in a little over year. The original premise of that subsection of the site was, and remains, that I would ride my bike to all of the historical markers in the county. Now, of course, I have an entire new county to explore. So here we are. You can find out all about why this building is important right here:

To see the complete list, go here. There will be more as the weeks progressed. Watch, as they say, this space.

Elsewhere, check me out on Twitter and over on Instagram, too.

Jul 17

She is the original multitasker

What does this image have to do with anything? I’m so glad you asked, because there is an answer and you will find that answer, and be intrigued by the premise behind it, just below this now ancient comic strip cell:

I’m returning to the dabbles of a long-ignored section of the site, Aubra’s Books. It started with a Bible, and then five other books. And now I have all of my grandfather’s textbooks and magazines and things. So I have a few boxes of great mid-20th century illustrations and advertisements to check out. Some of them I’ll scan and upload, of course. Today I’m sharing a few pages out of a couple of notebooks. And you can find them, including that comic, here. I also have a few images from an old English and science text here.

I haven’t touched this section of the site in years, so now I’m wondering if I should redesign the site. I had to re-work a few things tonight, so I hope not. But, style being such as it is …

To distract us from that, there’s this. On campus right now there is a group called the Mandela Fellows. They are 25 of Africa’s young leaders from about 20 countries, taking on a six-week academic and leadership program. I’d met a few of them last week.

Today, however, I had the chance to sit down with four ladies who are taking part in the fellowship. They are recording a few podcast-ish shows about their experiences and today I did a little board op work for them.

It’s an easy thing, it involves two buttons and a few mixers on a board. You could do it blindfolded, and they made it easy. But the ease of it let me hear some of their stories, and listen to them talk about their work back home, which they are all very passionate about. There’s a dean and a journalist and some activists that you might say are similar to our social workers.

To hear them talk about their work, and what they see here, and what they want for their communities, is moving. I hope they’ll show me where they post the conversation, so I can share it with you here.

Tonight, dinner with an old friend from out of town. He has some family here and he makes a visit every summer and his aunt and uncle are nice enough to share him with us for a few hours. It wasn’t nearly enough time to catch up completely, but plenty of time to consider our next two or three meetings.

Between one of those, and a bicycling trip we recently dreamed up, our next two vacations may be spoken for.

May 17

We are now experienced canyoneers

This morning we left our bed and breakfast in Kingussie and drove about 15 minutes north. There, in a small, humble little building hidden by highway construction, we met our guides for the day. We changed clothes.

They gave us wet suits. There were plenty of sizes to try. And they gave us shoes. And then we all loaded up into two vans, this merry band of adventurers who were small clumps of families in a larger group of 16 strangers. We traveled for, oh lets say two hours. Full wetsuits, feeling nice and cozy.

We were going canyoneering. Now, there are a few things you have to know here. Canyoneering is what it is called in the U.S. In Scotland it is canyoning. In the U.S. it is more about climbing and being in dry canyons. Here, there is plenty of water involved.

Here are some more things you need to know. That water is cold. Also, I am not as young as I once was. Oh, I’m still pretty much fearless, but what little agility I have left was obscured by wearing a 10 millimeter wetsuit and a giant life vest. Also, I don’t do well in cold water. And I’m nursing a sore ankle while walking and climbing around on slippery rocks.

It was so much fun.


There goes The Yankee, sliding down a little waterfall.


And it is funny how the river here can trick you, and then remind you in a flash, this water is impressively cold.


Here’s my own example. One of our two guides — who were patient and fun and knew exactly what they were doing — took all of these pictures:


Next you slide down this large rock, like you so often do.


Sliding through a narrow little channel in the rocks:


We’re having a great time …


… and after a few seconds you can forget how cold it is, because the wet suits were doing their job. Until you put your hands in the water. So a lot of the time was spent floating around like you’d just scrubbed in for a surgery:


There were two jumps. I’ve been off larger rocks. But this was a fairly shallow little pool, so it was about the right height.


Now there was one lady who got up to the top of the first jump and she froze. And then she tried again and froze. She tried a third time, but no jump. Each time she was getting closer and closer, though. She’d been the last one and we were all waiting for her below and on the fourth time she finally let herself fly. We had a great cheer for her bravery. I hope her pictures turned out, she certainly earned it. She did not go off the second jump. She’d already proven herself.


The rest of us, however, jumped again:


This was taken just before the most embarrassing part of my day:


We actually roped our way down this waterfall to conclude the adventure. It wasn’t actually rappelling, but it was close enough. And somehow I managed to be at the back of the group for this test. And somehow I managed to do something our guides said they’d never seen before. I managed to get sideways in the harness and then, somehow, upside down. Not supine, but feet up in the air, head nearest the rocks and the water. This isn’t a challenging descent. We, after, all were doing it with at least 45 seconds of being told how to use the rope and harness. And yet, there I was, having previously just narrowly avoided one disaster above this waterfall (I almost went over and, look at that photo, you don’t want to go over) and now I’m upside down and hoping I can get righted before someone up above dropped me on my noggin. It was not my best athletic display.

But it was such a great trip.


Now if they’d just turn on the warm water faucet upstream … Photos via G2 on Facebook.

May 17

Northwest, to the coast of Scotland

Our first stop today was a diversion along the way, the Rogie Falls, a walk in the woods, a place to stand on a suspension bridge just in front of them, and a place where, in the late summer, you can watch the salmon jump upstream. I shot a video:

Here’s a place where we walked out on the rocks just above the falls:


I believed she’s taking this rock as her own personal territory.


And here we are on the suspension bridge, which sways only a tiny bit:


Our drive today took us from Inverness to Applecross and then to nearby Shieldaig. This is in the northwestern quadrant of the countryside. Here are some of the views we enjoyed on today’s road trip.

A beach scene we saw along the way:


And the classic Highland cow:


On the way to Applecross, we went over the high pass of Bealach na Bà. Below is a Hyperlapse video of a single track road, built like you’re in the Alps, lots of switchbacks. It goes from sea level to 2,054 feet. The views are spectacular — or they are cloudy and treacherous. This is the uphill side, about 45 minutes of riding, squeezing past others and waiting. It was mildly scary. It was terrific.

Bealach na Ba is Gaelic for Pass of the Cattle. Traditionally, this has been a drover’s road. Today, there are cars and motorcycles and I would like to try to ride a bike up it. Apparently there are two local races that use the mountain as part of their course.

I don’t know how to tell you about where we had dinner tonight. It was probably 40 miles from our bed and breakfast in Shieldaig, which is, itself, a lovely, small little village. The restaurant sits in a remote village called Diabaig. The trip there is rocky, rugged, and predicated by the many coastal inlets. It is an inspiring landscape.

Previously, what is now the restaurant was a small school building, a school put there simply to satisfy Scottish mileage laws. Now, Gille Brighde sits down on the water and a Dutchman and his Scottish wife make food brought to them by local farmers and fishermen. The mailman had to tell us which way to go to get there. We were probably there for two hours and four other people were there. I had a lemon hake. The Yankee had locally hand-dived scallops, which she pronounced as the best scallops she has ever enjoyed. It was a lovely meal.

Just outside the school turned restaurant is the local pier, which gets rave reviews :


That’s down in Lower Diabaig. These selfies are in Upper Diabaig. You can see the pier just on the left margin.



May 17

Petal to the metal

Let’s just get it over with. To the puns ‘n’ roses!

Listen, bud, though some might say we haven’t rose to the occasion, we’re going to have to stem the jokes, bouquet?

Those are on the a bush on the side of our house. The ones I put here yesterday are in a bed on the front of the house. Good soil, I suppose. But I was working around the back of the house this evening. I had to install three sets of blinds.

The instructions suggested this would take 30 minutes per set. This would be possible, perhaps, if all of the parts were there. Or if the instructions were any good. But hey, in one box there were two sets of instructions. But, hey, I got to use my circular saw on something. Measure twice, keep your fingers out of the way, cut once and all of that.

I was done in two hours. Even still, the project isn’t truly finished, but there are blinds in windows instead of in boxes.

When you hang blinds, I think, you see the value of curtains.