Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi for her birthday

“I don’t care about making photography an art. I want to make good photographs. I’d like to know who first got it into his head that dreaminess and mist is an art. Take things as they are; take good photographs and the art will take care of itself.” (1923) 

– EDWARD STEICHEN, Photographer and curator, b. 1879, Luxembourg, Germany, d. 1973, West Redding, Connecticut

The good news is that I am no longer in constant pain and don’t need pain meds. However, six months post-op, I am still weak! Okay, I’m not a push over, per se… but I can’t take a chance of overdoing things. I have to be careful and not take unnecessary chances. Nonetheless, I’m making significant strides and improvements. Benchmarks include the ability to take off a pullover shirt, reaching higher up into the middle of my back, arm extensions with a 6 lb weight, and connecting with a right hook on a 60-pound dog that wanted to play nasty.

I’ve been using this time to make adjustments. The last time I spoke on this, I mentioned how the US had changed and the culture shock I experienced when I returned last September. In response, I have been reviewing and considering different approaches to this lifestyle I’ve chosen. I’ve chosen this walk and I’ve essentially done it alone. I’ve had people in my life along the way who have been there for me… the right people, the right place, and the right time. I am grateful to God for them and I pray His favor continues. 

I’ve been on this journey for five and a half years with currently no end in sight. The goal is a mix between Caine in “Kung Fu” and “Star Trek”. I am destined to walk the earth, to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where many people have already gone, but I need to see it for myself.

I was in the US from September 2022 until May 2023. I did not know I had a complete tear in my rotator cuff. Surgery wasn’t until March. During all that time, I realized I had to make some changes. My banking needs had to be adjusted. My cellular plan no longer fit me. The way I spent money put me at a disadvantage. Also in this time-frame, I jumped ship from PC to Mac with the new 16″ MacBook Pro M2. I got my first new iPhone since the iPhone X Pro Max. I bought a 14 Pro Max and then I CHANGED CARRIERS! Now I don’t have to deactivate my phone number when I am outside the country. I have unlimited data for text and internet here in Vietnam, but calls still cost me .20 cents/min. 

Coincidentally, I had lunch with a good British friend of mine at our favorite restaurant, Puku, here in Hanoi. Speaking on all these changes, I told him I wouldn’t be opposed to changing camera systems, but Fujifilm is the only one I’d consider. I like their GFX system, but it hadn’t been updated in a while. The VERY NEXT DAY, Fujifilm announced the new 102 megapixel, GFX1000 II. It’s $1500 more than the previous version at $7500, but I’m giving this some serious thought. For me, I’d also have to get 2 or 3 lenses to go with it. I’ve got time to weigh this as I am not 100% healthy yet (6 more months to go!) and I’m sure I’d wait until I was stateside again to get it.

The main point here is, sometimes it’s good to shake things up. Instead of always going right, venture left. I didn’t NEED to switch from PC to Mac. I wanted a new computer. So why not switch things up a little? AT&T didn’t necessarily need my business. Bank of America and Wells Fargo didn’t incentivize me to stay with them. I never go into the branches. Why pay all those fees? You know what… I’m going to get into that in another blog post later. Stay tuned. 

Las Vegas surprised me the biggest. Costs were way up since I was there pre-Covid. Hotel and Uber prices/fees threw me for a loop! I’m used to paying for a Grab here in Vietnam and I’ve never paid more than $5 to get anywhere in the city, or $20 to get to the airport. And the resort fees? Damn, Vegas! I didn’t intend to return to the US for so long, but you gotta do what you have to do. Prior to surgery, I split time between my family in TX, the kids in TN & NE, plus 50 days in Costa Rica. When I had surgery, I recovered for a month at my parents and foolishly thought I could travel! Getting back to Hanoi was the hardest physical thing I’ve done since Ranger school in the Army. I’m serious. It was the exhaustive. I was beat. Many, MANY thanks to the lady working at the Al Maha Lounge in Doja, Qatar. Talk about the Lord having someone in the right place for me. If not for her, I think I’d have just given up, loaded up on Oxycodone and Valium, went to sleep in a corner, and let my plane fly on without me. 

More to come on all this. I just wanted to get this rant out of my system.