May 2014

Field House

Houses on Inle Lake range from the multistoried fixtures of the main waterway to modest little field houses like this one, set in the middle of the aquaculture beds. I’d love to learn how they sink the piosts and maintain the structures.


We lost a fantastic voice yesterday with the death of Maya Angelou, but we are much richer for having had her with us through some of our most momentous times. In Japan, there’s a national tradition of making designating those people who contribute greatly to the arts and culture of their nation “living national treasures.” Britain does something similar with its knighthoods (like Sir Terry Pratchett, knighted for “services to literature”), and the Navajo have the less formal designation of Valuable Person. Maya Angelou was all those rolled into one lovely juggernaut.

I was pleased to see that, the same day she passed away, another literary figure of my generation’s childhood stood up to bring some of that American spirit back into our mainstream. If you haven’t already heard about LaVar Burton’s kickstarter to restore Reading Rainbow, you’re missing out!You aren’t behind the times, though; the campaign was funded within a day. Now, every dollar goes towards bringing the program to more kids and schools.

Everyone in my family is backing the project, since the original program was such a part of our lives and we want everyone to have the opportunity to learn and love reading…and perhaps a little bit because we couldn’t agree to share the book.



Frankly, today I’m somewhat jealous. It’s summer now and housing has yet to turn on AC, so I’ve been sleeping with the windows open. Unlike at home, where that ensures a lovely fresh breeze, cricket chirps, frogs, and birdsong, in the Bronx it works out to 6-8 nightly awakenings and a coarse patina of dust. No wonder everyone in the city seems to have anthracosis.

orchid sellers

Orchids have many uses in both medicine and cooking (used any vanilla lately?), so live orchids are a hot commodity at the market in Aung Ban. I’ve mentioned the deforestation problems previously, along with Kandawgyi national botanical gardens’ conservation efforts. People like these orchid peddlers would probably be the most productive collaborators, since they have a real stake in the biodiversity. Teach them how to grow and propagate the species, and you’ve got a pretty solid start to a conservation/repopulation scheme.

Mandalay Hill

Make that a party

Mandalay Hill Monks

…but it’s always better with a friend.

Mandalay Hill Reflection

A nice evening for some solitary reflection.

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