Saving Photos

My cellphone is old, and I regularly get messages telling me I’m up to storage capacity on things like phone messages and photos, and it’s time to start deleting.  The phone messages aren’t hard to get rid of — the fact that I haven’t deleted them already is just due to inattention, really — but the photos are a much harder call.

Sure, I could dump every photo that I’ve ever taken onto my home computer or store them in the cloud, but that’s not really a true solution — you just end up with a huge array of photos that are creating storage capacity issues somewhere else.  And if you’ve ever tried to find that one photo you are thinking of in an indiscriminate mass, you know it can be a frustrating and time-consuming task.  It’s similar to the problem that many of our parents and grandparents had — they’d have boxes  and boxes of unorganized Kodak and Polaroid photos from family trips, reunions, and other events, and one of their long-lasting resolutions was to actually identify who was in the curled up and browned-out photos from the past and put them into some kind of meaningful order in photo albums.  In many families, like mine, that just never got done successfully.

In my view, the key is to suck it up and engage in careful editing on the cellphone itself, respecting the device’s storage issues and limiting your library to those really worthwhile photos that you think you actually might look at in the future.  Where are you most likely to look at photos, anyway?  These days, it’s on your cellphone, when you are with friends or waiting at an airport gate for a plane and want to remember a good time from the past without going through some elaborate storage retrieval process.

So, how do you make the call on what to keep and what to delete?  It’s easy enough to delete the out-of-focus shots, of course, and there are always some photos that, when you look at them later, you wonder why you took them in the first place.  But once you’ve discarded the chaff, it’s a lot harder.  How many photos of beautiful sunrises or sunsets do you want?  Which photos of family and friends should you keep indefinitely?  When I look at the older photos on my cellphone, I see that there’s a pattern:  I have kept photos of special people, and places and times that I want to remember.  There’s a photo of Mom and the rest of the Webner clan at her last family birthday party, for example, and photos of me and Kish on vacation, and the photo with this post that was taken on Lake Louise in Canada on a perfect June day when the color of the water and the backdrop of mountains was just dazzling and we walked along the edge of the lake just reveling in the scenery.

My test is simple:  what do I want to remember, and what really makes me smile?

 

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Tea Time

I’ve started drinking hot tea some evenings. Hot tea seems to go well with cold weather. I especially like the Twinings natural peppermint herbal tea. After you’ve steeped it for four minutes– which is what the packet commands — the room is thick with a minty fragrance. Add some milk, and you’ve got a tasty, warming libation the fortifies you against the winter chill.

Drinking hot tea reminds me of my childhood, when Grandma Neal would watch us grandkids and have us drink tea with her in the afternoon. The tea kettle would shriek, the hot water would be poured into the teapot, and as the tea steeped Grandma Neal would set out a small container of milk, honey, a sugar bowl, and a plate of shortbread. We’d make our tea and sit carefully drinking out of china cups on saucers, dunking the shortbread into our cups of milky tea and trying to eat the result without making too much of a mess.

It all seemed very elegant. It was only years later that I realized that Grandma probably used “tea time” to get a rest. If the grandkids were sitting drinking hot tea and eating cookies, that meant they weren’t tearing around her house causing havoc.

Reasonably Achievable Resolutions

Did you make a New Year’s resolution?  If so, how’s it going?  According to a social network called Strava, which somehow conducted some research into the topic, most people who make New Year’s resolutions end up breaking them by January 12.  So hang in there: you apparently only have to suffer through a few more days of compliance before you can go back to those old habits.

The Strava research seems to have focused on exercise and dietary resolutions, which are probably the most challenging resolutions of all.  People buy that health club membership and start eating leafy green vegetables for dinner with the best of intentions, but are felled by unrealistic expectations of what will happen.  When those unrealistic expectations aren’t met, they fall off the wagon.  And then, after they fall off the wagon, they figure it’s hopeless to try to change and totally give up.

I think making resolutions makes some sense, and the start of a new year is as good a time as any for some self-reflection and consideration of how a beneficial behavioral change might be in order.  There’s nothing wrong with trying to get more exercise and be more healthy, but why stake your New Year’s resolutions entirely upon goals that experience teaches are incredibly difficult to reach?  Maybe we should start small, and think about little, reasonably achievable resolutions that might just make you a better person and improve your life at the same time.  Consider, for example, this list of 58 New Year’s resolutions that don’t involve dieting or exercise.  It’s not exhaustive and right for everyone, of course, but it may give you ideas for the kind of resolutions that are suitable for you.

This year, I’m going small with my resolutions.  I’m going to clean out my closet and give the clothes that aren’t being used to a charitable organization.  I want to go through what we’ve got stored in the basement and the pantry, figure out whether we’re using it, and donate what’s unneeded to the Goodwill.  I’m going to tackle my emailboxes and iPhone photos, delete what I don’t want to store forever, be happy about the reduced clutter, and see whether that improves my phone battery life.  And while I’ve done a better job of leisure reading this past year, in 2019 I’m going to up the ante by identifying and then reading through to the end at least one really mentally challenging book.

Making goals is a good thing, but reaching those goals is even better.

 

A Trip To The BVI Aboard The Bad Kitty

On Sunday we hauled out our passports and took an excursion to the British Virgin Islands aboard the Bad Kitty. It’s a nice little boat with a friendly three-person crew that took us and about two dozen other passengers on a three-stop tour.

The tour started with a long leg across relatively calm seas to the Baths, a popular destination for cruise ship excursions. Along the way, the crew gave us water, juice, fruit, and bread, then checked us in with the British authorities. The Bad Kitty then anchored close to the beach by the Baths, and the passengers and two of the crew members swam over. Because I didn’t have a waterproof carrier and didn’t want to wreck my phone, I didn’t get any photos of the Baths. They’re interesting rock formations right on the beach and pictured in countless swimsuit photo shoots. Be advised — there is some bending, climbing, and physical exertion in visiting the Baths, as you scale rocks and squeeze through crevices; an older guy in our group found it to be a struggle. And speaking of exertion: after the visit to the Baths we swam back through the surf to the Bad Kitty, which was about 100 yards offshore. My exposed cellphone would never have survived it.

Once all of the members of the group were present and accounted for we sailed past a number of the small islands in the BVI — many of which are apparently privately owned — to Norman Island for snorkeling. Along the way we saw lots of sailboats and other craft out on the water. It was a perfect day weather wise, and people were enjoying it to the hilt.

At Norman Island, we plunged into the water again to explore some good snorkeling territory, with lots of colorful tropical fish, like schools of yellowfin tuna, and a cave to explore. We were given flotation vests because U.S. law requires it, but the water is so salty floating is easy.

Then it was back into the boat for the last leg of the trip, to Jost Van Dyke. With the strenuous work done, the crew supplied us with a flow of “painkillers” — a popular local drink featuring rum, fruit juices, and a sprinkling of nutmeg on top to give it a nice holiday touch. We also were given Bad Kitty temporary tattoos, and the ready availability of the painkillers made for some creative tattoo placement on the part of some passengers. I went for the traditional upper arm placement.

Our final stop at Jost Van Dyke let us wade ashore onto what is supposedly one of the world’s premier party beaches. (We were told 15,000 people were expected on the beach for New Year’s Eve, which would be incredible if true.). Dozens of boats were anchored in the bay, and the alcohol flowed freely for the visitors. We stopped and had lunch, flaunted our tattoos, and enjoyed our trip to the BVI.

Hiking The Reef Bay Trail

About two-thirds of the island of St. John is national parkland. As is the case with most national park properties, that means you’ll find ample hiking trails that allow you to get some exercise and feed your adventurous spirit at the same time.

Earlier this week we decided to tackle the Reef Bay trail, which begins at mile marker 5 on the Centerline Road, up in the hills that form the twisted spine of the island, and then heads through dense forest down to the beach far below. The hike has a deceptively bucolic beginning, with a tiny parking area that is filled with beautiful butterflies, but immediately takes you down a rugged path into the jungle. As you descend, following a winding path with a steep downward grade, you’ll see lots of trees and insects and tropical plants, along with national park information signs — many of which have been rendered largely illegible by the ravages of tropical heat, humidity and rain.

More than halfway down, there’s a spur to the trail that takes you to a double waterfall and some petroglyphs left by the indigenous people who lived here in the pre-Columbian, pre-colonial era, when the pools of fresh water were an important resource. You can reach the upper waterfall, shown in the first picture in this post, by following a crude trail that heads straight uphill and requires you to limbo under several fallen trees. Don’t flirt with the pooled water, though — it looks to be filled with leeches.

Many of the petroglyphs have been worn away by the tropical climate, but some are still distinct. The experts believe they were created by the Carib or Arawak people. What’s pictured here? I’m not sure, but some might see an ancient astronaut and his spacecraft. I was just grateful to find some remaining legacy of the people who lived happily in this part of the world before European invaders brought greed, slavery, and disease that decimated their civilization.

And speaking of colonialism, the trail then winds past the remains of a colonial sugar plantation, with its long-abandoned stone buildings now inhabited solely by hundreds of hermit crabs and a colossal insect nest, and then on down to Reef Bay, a pretty little beach on the south side of the island that looks out over the turquoise Caribbean Sea beyond. We rested here for a bit, drank our water, and enjoyed the scenery — which for one member of our party included a sighting of a shark swimming lazily through the shallow water near the beach. In the back of our minds we all knew, however, that while gravity was our friend on the way down the trail, the forces of nature would not be so kind on the uphill trudge.