Searching for contentment

Contemplating: One Breath Around The World

Still shot from One Breath Around The World by Guillaume Néry

I'm at a loss for words except to say this is one of the most beautiful videos I've ever experienced. Featuring Guillaume Néry. Filmed by Julie Gautier (on breath hold!). Use headphones or good speakers so you can hear the subtle sounds.

YouTube: One Breath Around The World
Wikipedia: Guillaume Néry

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Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar, The Map of Salt and Stars

The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab JoukhadarExquisitely read by Lara Sawalha

I'm so grateful to have come across this book.

"Like the old tales you like," she says, smiling with the good times in her eyes, the times when we had Baba. "You have to weave two stories together to tell them both right." She presses her palms together, then opens them. "Like two hands."

Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar is a tremendously talented storyteller. In her wondrous book, she vividly reveals the story of a modern-day Syrian family from the point of view of Nour, the youngest daughter, woven together with the story of Rawiya, a girl who lived 800 years previously. Both girls have recently lost their fathers.

Nour, along with her mother and her two sisters, leave New York City, where Nour was born and raised, to travel to their old home in Homs, Syria. Shortly after they arrive, war breaks out, their home is destroyed, and they are forced to become refugees. The story follows their perilous journey across an often war torn region as they attempt to make their way to Nour's uncle, who lives in Ceuta.

Rawiya leaves her impoverished mother and home, disguises herself as a boy named Rami, and strikes out on her own to find her way in the world. She finds a place as a mapmaker's apprentice, and they set out on an equally perilous journey across the region in order to map it for the first time.

In their unique ways, both girls are gifted and discover within themselves deep wells of strength and courage as they deal with the multitude of challenges they encounter during their travels.

The stories reveal the tremendous beauty of the region, and at the same time, the horrendous ways refugees are treated, as well as the gifts we stand to gain if we open our hearts enough to view them as unique individuals who deserve, at the very least, to be treated with the dignity of fellow human beings.

"There was a time others came to claim our country," Itto says. "We couldn't speak our language or name our children what we wanted. But we held to what our mothers loved. Our heritage. Our stories. They call us Berber, from 'barbarian.' But Amazigh means 'free man.' Did you know this? No one can take our freedom from us. No one can take our land or our names from our hearts."

Shortly after I began this book, I realized I was listening to something special. As I often do in cases like this, I picked up the written book as well, so I could see how names are spelled, and fully savor some of the exquisite passages I came across. I'm really glad I did because I discovered something delightful that I otherwise would've missed: each part of the book takes place in different countries or places, and those parts are introduced with a lyrical passage in the shape of those countries or places. A beautiful touch.

Introduction to Part 1 of The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar

Simon & Schuster Audio, 2018

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Woodworking: Windtraveler lamp

The Windtraveler shoji lamp

Dedicated to my good friend Thomas Hey'l
who has inspired me to look at design more deeply
and to take even more care about precision.

More about this project >
More woodworking >

Living in the Rockies

Most years, our Thanksgiving tradition is to take a walk up in the nearby mountains and enjoy lunch while feasting our eyes gratefully on the beauty surrounding us. This was the view from our dining room this year, from a lookout point just a short walk from Lily Lake.

We're looking northwest across Rocky Mountain National Park toward the Mummy Range (from left to right: Mount Chapin, Mount Chiquita, Ypsilon Mountain, Fairchild Mountain, Hagues Peak, and Mummy Mountain). In the middle of the photo to the right is Bighorn Mountain (it's a bit shorter than the other peaks, so not yet snow capped). At the foot of Bighorn, just to the left, you can see an open area, Moraine Park, which is a favorite destination of ours. Not only do we often see herds of elk grazing there, it's also where Cub Lake and Fern Lake Trailheads are located, which are a couple of our favorite hiking trails.

The Mummy Range in Rocky Mountain National Park

Higher res version of this photo >
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Ham radio: Reflections of an amateur amateur⩘ 

My HT: Kenwood TH-D74A

Although I'm still relatively new to the universe of amateur radio, I've already enjoyed enough interesting learning experiences as well as stubbed my toes enough times to have gained a few insights. I'm a non-technical user figuring things out as I go along, and I also don't have a great memory, so I'm writing these articles as my way to keep track of what I'm learning (and also just for fun, as I love writing as much as learning). Basically, this is info I wish I had found online when I was browsing for insights:⩘ .

Playing with Pi-Star⩘ 
More amateur radio⩘ 


Sharks kill an average of 10 people per year. People kill around 100,000,000 sharks per year 1. (And people kill approximately 425,000 people per year, topped only by mosquitoes, which kill about 725,000 people per year 2.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Light travels at about 186,000 miles per second in a vacuum),
so it would take about 0.13 seconds to travel around the Earth
(a bit longer, actually, since it wouldn't be in a vacuum), 1.3 seconds to travel the 238,900 miles from the Earth to the moon,
and 8.3 minutes to travel the 93,000,000 miles from the sun to the Earth.

There are almost 526,000 light minutes in a light year.
That's just short of 6,000,000,000,000 miles.
The Milky Way has a diameter between 150,000 and 200,000 light-years,
and contains between 100,000,000,000 - 400,000,000,000 stars.
The observable universe is estimated to contain somewhere between 200,000,000,000 - 2,000,000,000,000 galaxies.

At the scale of the solar system, the Earth is a spec of dust.
1,300,000 Earths could fit within our sun.
Our sun is an insignificant twinkle of light in a suburb of the Milky Way galaxy.
Our galaxy is an infinitesimally small blip in our universe.

And we worry about stuff?

Inspiration for this perspective: "New 3D map of the Milky Way shows we live in a warped galaxy," NBC News, Feb 5, 2019.
A related video: The Exhilarating Peace of Freediving by Guillaume Néry