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The Elements of Typographic Style

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Minding the Earth, Mending the Word: Zen and the Art of Planetary Crisis

North Face Base Camp Duffel (Medium)




Entries in Myanmar (139)


Field Shoes

Most of the time villagers don't have the right footwear for running transects through spiny rattan thickets. Flip-flops are usually the only shoe option. To get around this, we usually bring a large assortment of Chinese canvas field boots for people to use. Real cheap, they offer some traction, and they will keep a spine from going into your foot. As is shown above, trying on the field shoes is a much anticipated activity. [NOTE: You get to keep the boots after the fieldwork is finished]. 

[NOTE: I just added a new header. Shows me (a bit blurry) taking a photo of the skeleton of a ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) at the California Academy of Sciences].


More Pressing Plants 

So, here we are, sitting in the little patio space under one of the houses (on stilts) at Nam Sabi with plant specimens scattered all over the orange tarp laying little clippings of plants on a sheet of newspaper and pressing them. Some of us are working harder than others. Clockwise, starting with Yinhtan Syan Bay (in yellow t-shirt; selecting which cuttings to press), villager (watching), U Saw Htun (dozing?), two villagers (watching), Kate Armstrong (arranging a specimen on the newspaper), Myint Thein (reading the newspaper), and Kyaw Zin Aung (helping Kate arrange the specimen). That's my yellow duffel at the bottom left of the image. I had just gotten up from laying against it while taking a short nap when I took this picture. Go here for another look at plant pressing in northern Myanmar.


Another Transect

So here we are running another transect. This time at N25.32859° and E95.36510°, about an hour's walk from our basecamp south of the village of NamSaBi in Sagaing Region. To put this in context:

the Google Earth screenshot above shows the location of the transect. The border of the Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary is off to the right, close to the edge of the image; our basecamp was located near the ricefields at the top left. I am pretty sure we were the first people to count and measure trees here. 


The Piano Tuner

Have just finished reading Daniel Mason's debut novel, The Piano Tuner. The premise: "In 1886 a shy, middle-aged piano tuner named Edgar Drake receives an unusual commission from the British War Office: to travel to the remote jungles of northeast Burma and there repair a rare piano belonging to an eccentric army surgeon who has proven mysteriously indispensable to the imperial design". Beautiful writing, captivating descriptions of forest landscapes and rural life in colonial Shan State. Highly recommended, especially for readers who have just returned from three weeks of fieldwork in Northern Myanmar. [NOTE: Daniel Mason was 26 years old, and a student in med school, when he wrote The Piano Tuner].  



The Shwe-Kyaung-pyi, or Shwenandaw, monastery is one of the most significant and beautiful of Mandalay's historic buildings. Originally part of the Royal Palace, in 1878 King Thibaw had the structured dismantled and moved outside as he feared that the spirits of his deceased father (King Mindon) were haunting it. The Royal Palace was completely destroyed by allied bombing at the end of World War II, King Thibaw's superstitions effectively saving the only representative of original 19th century Burmese teak architecture. 

Image above shows the main altar in the monastery. The wood carving is exquisite, and everything, including the massive teak pillars, is gilded with gold leaf. This is an amazing place.  


More Shwedagon

Another image from Sunday's visit to Shwedagon Pagoda. The gold stupas had already started to glow in the evening sun. I am currently in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital city, for meetings with the Forestry Department.


Namyun Kids

An image from 2005 of two kids in Namyun (see Investigate Mountains Thoroughly) near the Indian border. They were up early for the morning market. As was I. [NOTE: Love the dog in the background. Also up early. Probably hoping for some breakfast].


Holding Wires

A lovely Nat statue outside of a restaurant in Homalin, Sagaing Division, does double duty: as an object of veneration (see Nat Worship) and a useful place to store a bunch of excess electrical wire. [NOTE: The empty beer bottle on the table in the restaurant adds even another dimension to the image].    



U Myint Thein from the Htamanthi Wildlife Sanctuary examines the stump of a large thitwa (Neonauclea griffithii Hook f. Merr) tree near the site of our first inventory transect in the forests outside of Tikon (see Tikon). [NOTE: I was standing precariously on a piece of log when I took the photo. The red color of the wood was even more spectacular than shown in the image].


Aung San and Suu Kyi

Warm and dry coffee shop at Mile 25 camp after walking 10 miles in the rain from the village of Tikon (see Faces of Tikon). Hot tea and cookies were delicious. I gave my rain pants to the policeman (U Htee Zard) who had steadied me down all of the slippery clay slopes along the way in this coffee shop. I was particularly pleased to see the nice portrait of Bogyoke Aung San and daughter Suu Kyi displayed in such a prominent position.