Vin Crosbie's Personal Blog

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The Aftermath

The ‘White’ or ‘Bent’ Pyramid. Dashur, Giza Governate, Egypt

Motivation + Strength = Success

So many times during life, you find yourself doing something in which you think, “Why am I doing this? Am I getting anyplace? Am I crazy? I don’t seem to be advancing? Should I keep this up or quit?” You march on and nothing seems to change. Each arduous step is just another that seems to be among never-ending thousands more to come!

Those were my thoughts, roped, handling an ice axe, and clad in mountaineering boots with spikes (i.e., crampons), during March of 1998 while climbing El Pico de Orizaba (5,636 metres / 18,491 feet), the third highest mountain in North America. Indeed, when we four, sucking air, pulled ourselves onto the summit rim, we saw that we still had another 30 stories of snow to climb to the actual summit.

I was age 43 when we summitted and the other guys were age 28, 27, and 21. I was sure that I was slowing them down. Yet when we reached the true summit, they thanked me, saying they had wanted to quit and turn back; that they would have never reached the summit had I not been goading and cheering them on (“Come on, guys! Just a little bit more!”) Although I had thought I was slowing them down, they had been climbing because they too had thought they couldn’t do it but were more embarrassed to fail in my company. So many things in life can be that way. Although they had the strength I didn’t, I had the motivation they lacked, so we combined our efforts. Was this all worth it? Ultimately, yes! As long as you are not foolhardy, any notable accomplishment in your life will be like this. Don’t doubt yourself. And don’t let them doubt themselves. Do it!

Sunset on the Nile upriver from Cairo

Sunset on the Nile upriver from Cairo

Where you could hear multiple muezzins’ calls to prayer echoing across the great river. June 13, 2022.

Why Online versus Printed Books

Amazon Kindle (2008)

I don’t know how many printed books I’ve read so far (22 years) this century, but I do recollect that I have read only one printed book during the past five years. That is because there was no online version of that obscure book about specific episode in the colonial history of eastern Connecticut. It was a book published during the early 1970s and which I inherited. I remember thinking how inconvenient reading a printed is: I could read it only during the daytime or where after the sunset I had sufficient electric lighting (certainly not in bed lest I wake my wife).

Meanwhile, I read 552 books online since 2008. Although I’ve owned a RCA eBook reader since 2001 (when I was invited to RCA’s research laboratory to consult briefly about the devices applicability for reading periodicals), 2008 was when I purchase my first Amazon Kindle eBook reader. It was the first generation of that device, which used electronic ink, rather than a LED screen, to display type (no photos, no graphics, no color, only black & white), and, like a printed book it could be read only where there was daylight or electric lighting; but its direct free wireless (via mobile telephone circuits) connection to Amazon’s book store, as well as its ability to run for weeks on a charge, forever changed my reading habits. About ten years ago, I stopped using electric book reading devices and switched to using the Amazon Kindle app on my desktops, laptops, and smartphones.

On those devices, particularly the smartphones, I don’t have to worry about daytime or electric lighting when reading (indeed, I can easily adjust my smartphone’s Kindle app to display white type on a black background, just bright enough to read in the dark of a bedroom so not to wake my wife). Moreover, all my devices that have the Kindle app synchronize with each other so that, for example, this morning my desktop computer goes automatically to where I left off in a book last night. An each of the 552 books I’ve read online since 2008 are not only instantly accessible wherever I am with my smartphone or the other devices, but I can electronically search through any one or all of them. Which book noted that “conservativism really does speak to and for people who have lost something.” Oh, yeah, that was on page 58 of Corey Robin’s The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin. Or it might show such reference across multiple online books I have purchased (such if I ask it to find me a specific topic in books about software or camera manuals. I can do none of these things with physical bookcases or bookshelves. I can’t imagine living without such convenience!

My such heavy use of ebooks alarms some of my older friends. “But what about the physical sensation of holding a printed book, of feeling its pages, even the scent of printed pages?” Well, yes, I do like the feel or leather jackets, too, but such clothing isn’t convenient in in all conditions (nor have I had a paper cut in ten years). I believe the future of printed books is like the future of compact discs (CDs) and digital versatile discs (DVDs): perhaps you will own in those physical formats a copy of your favorite book, musical album, or movie, but you will likely use only streaming or downloadable versions of most books, music, and movies. Indeed, this conversion is already happening worldwide. By the way, although I’ve digitized all my music, I still own a music record player and a few vinyl long-playing (LP) music discs. But as a character played by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie Men in Black remarked about extraterrestrial technology, “Just another new for a copy of the Beatles’ White Album“)

Squall at Mont-Saint-Michel

©Vin Crosbie, All Rights Reserved

Thanks to some of the new ‘neural filter’ settings in Abobe Photoshop, I’ve been reprinting some of my previous years’ photos to increase their dynamic range. Both of these photos were taken within in 25 kilometers of each other on the same blustery April day. The second photo (below) is the town of Saint-Malo take from Fort National at low tide.

Returned to Eastern Connecticut


NEARLY FOUR DECADES AFTER I LEFT, I have returned to my native land. A region the U.S. National Park Service has designated ‘The Last Green Valley’. It is a roughly 20-mile (32 km) swath of forests that extend from the Atlantic salt waters of Long Island Sound, north through eastern Connecticut, and into parts of central Massachusetts. In nighttime satellite photos of the 250-mile (400 km) wide American megalopolis stretching from Washington, D.C., to Boston, this regional appears dark because it is the only undeveloped region amid that 50-million person megalopolis. It is the watershed of Connecticut’s Thames River and it consists of 1,100 square miles, 77 percent of which is simply forest.

I was born in Willimantic (population 15,000), the fourth-largest of the region’s 35 towns. I left this region in 1983 for a larger world, but last week moved from that world into tiny Taftville (pop. 7,000), a half hour downriver from my birthplace. There my wife and I have a three-bedroom duplex in a converted mill overlooking a lake and very wide waterfall. When this mill was built in 1866,, it was the largest (430,000-square-feet/40,000 m2) thread mill in the world for several years. My Irish great-grandparents each emigrated here during the 1880s, met and married. She worked in the mill; he on the railroad that serviced it. I now live in that mill.

My wife and I live part of each in the United States and the other part of the year in her native city (population: 380,000) in Spain’s Canary Islands. A three-bedroom duplex in a converted mill overlooking rural Shetucket Falls here in eastern Connecticut costs less than a studio apartment would have in the New York City suburb of Stamford, Connecticut, where my wife and I were living. Moreover, our new place lacks the four-figure monthly commons/homeowners charge that we have been paying where we had been living at what before February had been known as Trump Parc Stamford.

Our view of Shetucket Falls
Our Brick Village was built during the 1870s and features its own hydro-electric power generating system.