Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Wear Long Pants, Avoid Overhead Bins and other Hard Earned Travel Tips

I just finished Science of Ultra's Travel tips podcast. While much of the advice was pretty standard, I'm sure I picked up a new tip or two. The podcast certainly got me thinking: what are my top travel tips to share with others?

In that spirit, here they are. After reading my suggestions, be sure to check out Science of Ultra's Travel Resource Page.

  • If possible, sign up for TSA Pre. With Pre-check you can nearly neutralize one of travel's most annoying steps: the security line.
  • Consider purchasing a 6-in-1 USB Wall Charger Thingy. This turns the one outlet you can find in your hotel room into an easy to access charging station for all your USB powered goodies.
  • Buy a reputable travel guide and use it as a planning aid before and during your trip. No doubt there was a time when travel info was scarce and a travel guide was a critical source of on-the-ground information. Now we have the opposite problem: there's so much information available it's often hard to see the signal through the noise. A Frommers Guide or the like cuts through this and gives you a coherent picture of a destination.
  • On the day of travel, don't just pack snacks, pack meals. One common piece of travel wisdom is to not rely on airplane or airport food while traveling. Bring snacks, they say. Go one step further and bring complete 'meals.' Yes, meals, plural. Travel always seems to cut across multiple mealtimes. Note, a meal isn't a fancy affair--it's just a group of foods that meet whatever caloric and nutritional needs you're striving for. Last trip this involved bringing a Clif Builder Bar, a Pro Bar, Powdered Oatmeal and a ziplock baggie of pretzels. That covered my calories, carbs and protein for both second breakfast and first lunch.
  • Live your travel essentials. Rather than keeping travel gear boxed up and only deployed for trips, get as much use out of it as possible during 'regular life.' There's nothing worse than busting out a battery backup only to find that the battery no longer holds a charge. Or reaching for your headphones only to realize they're not in your bag. I keep these essentials in my Man Bag and they come in handy on a regular basis. When I find myself depending on them, I've got confidence they'll deliver.
  • Blog your trip. This is probably the most important and the hardest advice to follow. Publishing an edited record of your travels has two key benefits. First, no matter how moved you are by a destination, the memories quickly fade. By forcing yourself to create a written record of the trip you'll help stem that memory loss. The second advantage is linked to an observation I made years ago while reading Bill Bryson's travel books. Bryson's books are among the funniest I've ever read. We're talking laugh-out-loud uncontrollably funny. I realized that while Bryson was a sort of professional traveler, his adventures were far from flawless. In fact, it was often the flaws that made for the best parts of the story. I realized he was on to something: I could be frustrated when things don't go right while traveling, or like Bryson, I could use those mishaps as fuel for stories. Blogging about your travels lets you literally follow this advice, elevating your mishaps to something greater. In the past I've blogged my trip during the trip itself. But I've found that: (a) I'm usually too exhausted to do this, and (b) my time is better spent being in the moment and savoring the trip, rather than worrying about documenting it. Instead, I take copious amounts of photos and whenever I get a few minutes scribble notes in my pocket notebook. When I return from the trip, I recreate a narrative from these two sources.
  • Travel in long pants, t-shirt and something long-sleeved. It doesn't matter if it's 95°F at both the departure and arrival cities; it's almost certainly going to be frigid on the plane or in the terminal. My favorite travel outfit includes Unionbay Pants, Hanes Cooldri T-shirt and a Columbia long sleeve button down shirt with extra large breast pockets. And as per the advice above, I wear these clothes when I'm not traveling, too.
  • Bring the digital essentials. This includes movies, audio books, maps and other digital content that's weightless yet invaluable. See my Digital Packing List for more information.

And finally, here are two pieces of travel wisdom I've learned from Shira:

  • Avoid using overhead bin space. Luggage should either be non-essential and checked, or crammed under the seat in front of you. The overhead bin is a trap: you have to stress about getting access to one. And if you do manage to get a much coveted spot, you lose easy access to your belongings. Pro tip: don't be 6' tall and require leg room.
  • Optimize what you pack for happiness, not weight. There's a philosophy that says the less you bring the happier you'll be. Shira's not buying it and slowly but surely, she's winning me over. When you travel you should pack what's going to make you happy, not to win some arbitrary packing contest. Take our last trip: we stayed in a suite with a full kitchen and wanted to eat healthy meals between splurging on fun restaurants. The result was that we brought our Airbnb kitchen setup, which contains things like a full sized frying pan and pot. Was it heavy? Heck yeah. However, the benefit of being able to easily cook high quality meals for a week outweighed the hassle of dragging a heavy bag to and from an Uber for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Las Vegas Adventure - Day 4

[Composed 11/29/2019]

Today the weather finally cleared enough that we could tackle a fun outdoor activity: visiting the Hoover Dam. As I'd hoped, the Dam and surrounding area provided amazing views and a history lesson to match.

While the staff wasn't running tours of the dam the day we visited, they were offering visitors a chance to hear from a docent during a slide presentation. Many folks opted to skip this, and even I admit hearing the phrase 'slide show' conjured up images of a tedious display. However, I'm glad we opted in. The presentation was quite interesting and our guide quite knowledgeable.

I came away from the Hoover Dam with a sense that it was a massive Government project Done Right. It was finished two years ahead of schedule and thanks to the hydroelectric energy it generated, paid for itself. Sure, worker conditions were dangerous and miserable, but it provided a source of employment at a time when the country desperately needed it. While the dam was only made possible through clever innovations, like building a massive refrigerator into the concrete structure, at the end of the day it is basic architecture and physics scaled up. The gravity based arch design was no doubt inspired by the Romans.

All of this work was done with the intention of giving the dam a 10,000 year lifespan. I compare that to the near by Arlington Memorial Bridge, clearly an important link between DC and Virginia, which was built with a paltry 75 year lifespan (it's getting revamped now, a mere 12 years after its expiration date).

After visiting the dam, we made our way to the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which overlooks the dam and provides even more staggering views.

After visiting the dam and nearby bridge, I thought we'd squeeze in a hike. While the weather was clear, the wind was gusting at 28 miles per hour. After about 7 minutes of hiking we retreated back to our car and got lunch at a nearby Thai restaurant. During lunch I noticed Shira avoiding some of the greens in her dish. When I asked what was up, she explained that her dish smelled like elephant. I explained that surely she was exaggerating, at which point she picked up a leaf dusted by some spice and told me to take a whiff. I breathed deeply and couldn't help myself: my gosh, it smelled like elephant! Specifically, like the elephant enclosure at the zoo! It was like I was 8 years old again and traipsing through the Rochester City Zoo!

In all the years of eating Thai food, we've never consumed anything like this.

In the evening we did more cruising of the Strip to see the sights, do some gambling and most memorably, people watch. Previous days we'd headed North, so tonight we headed South on the strip and went as far as Mandalay Bay. There's a tram from Excalibur to Mandalay Bay that takes about 8 minutes. During this ride, you're in a small cabin with a handful of strangers. On our way back to the Excalibur we found ourselves in an enclosed space with 4 very drunk 'kids' which seemed to be pulled directly from central casting. It was like watching an improv troop pretend to be drunk; but these guys were the real deal. It was all so Vegas.

Back at our hotel room I did a bit more research into the Hoover Dam. Surely there was more to the story than what we'd learned at the site today. Yet, for the most part, the Hoover Dam project has aged well. It really was a massive project that's had a largely positive impact on the area. One takeaway from my research I didn't expect was a new found appreciation for the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. While not quite on the same scale as the Dam, this bridge is a concrete technological marvel and it was built on time and under budget. It seems to answer the question: are our best days of engineering behind us? Heck no.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Las Vegas Adventure - Day 3

[Composed 11/28/2019]

Our little corner of Vegas (specifically, the MGM Signature and MGM Grand hotels) is pretty much the Land that Forgot Thanksgiving. About the only clue that it's Thanksgiving is the mention of turkey on various restaurant menus. Other than that, it's business as usual.

We started our day by hitting the gym where Shira reminded me that all the running I've been doing has done nothing to beef up my arms and core. The result: the push presses and sit-ups she had me do has left my upper body pretty much broken. I got her back though by "making her" walk the 32 flights of stairs up to our hotel room.

After cleaning up we made our way down to the CBS Research Studio, where Shira and I watched a yet to be released TV show and weighed in with our opinion. We watched a comedy with a dial in hand that we could twist from 0 to 100 depending on how happy we were with the show's content. Naturally Shira hated the show and I liked it. It was a quirky experience to take part in, and in a town where every offer seems to good to be true, this was fun, free and delivered what it promised.

After a very tasty lunch at the vegan Chinese place Veggie House, we made our way to a nearby theater to watch the new Mr. Rogers movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. We had seen the recent'ish documentary on Mr. Rogers, so I was a bit worried that it would cover the same ground. Fortunately, it did not. With that said, I'm not entirely sure I liked A Beautiful Day. It was cleverly done and filled with the wholesome goodness of Mr. Rogers, but I'm not sure I'm satisfied by those points alone.

What made the movie vastly more meaningful was to read both the original article the movie is based on, and a follow-up article that was published after the movie was produced. These serve as a sort of prologue and epilogue and give essential context to the movie.

After the movie we walked around the casino a bit and did the gambling thing. We keep ending up at New York, New York--the closest by casino that offers lower-limit tables. They also make a fine hot chocolate, which has become my drink of choice during our evening gambling sessions. You just have to imagine me talking to the cocktail waitress in my sexiest Jame Bond voice: Chocolate. Hot. With whipped cream. Yeah, I'm sure she's impressed.

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to finally clear up a bit and we'll get our first adventure away from the Strip. I'm so psyched!

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Las Vegas Adventure - Day 2

[Composed 11/27/2019]

Today we logged about 12 miles of walking, nearly all of it spent exploring the Vegas Strip. We visited the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the canals of Venice and the ruins of Rome. Of course, none of this is real, but that's Vegas for you. Some of the sites on the strip really do measure up: the gardens at the Bellagio were impressive, and many of the hotel facades are cleverly done.

But then you've got sites like the animatronic Atlantis show which in its heyday must have been something special, but is now pretty tired. As if to emphasize the point, part way through the show the power to the characters was cut and the whole thing froze. Still, the aquarium that the show is mounted on was filled with interesting fish, so that's something.

Other highlights from the day included: the impressive Air Jordan display in the back of the Nike Store. It covers the evolution of a single shoe from 1984 to today. Shira was impressed that I managed to find a museum in a Nike store. I also enjoyed the gondola display at the Venetian hotel, which let's you learn about a historic gondola. Shira had more fun with craps at the Venetian, but to each their own.

While browsing through a gift shop Shira found what I thought was an especially clever souvenir: the casinos trim the corners off the decks of cards they use and then you can buy them for like $2.00 each. I'm always looking for high value, affordable, portable, functional and unique things to bring home from a destination, and these decks of cards checked all the boxes. So if you do make it Vegas, this may be an easy gift worth searching out.

What a luxury it is to have a day to just wander!

Las Vegas Adventure - Day 1

[Composed 11/26/2019]

Man that flight approach in to Las Vegas is sweet. At first there's nothing but desert. It's like another planet. And then bam! you're over Lake Mead with its beyond perfect blue waters. Then before you know it, you've landed in Sin City. It's all so dramatic.

After getting our luggage and checking into our hotel room we hit up Burnt Offerings, a tasty Kosher restaurant with a menu that can't help but make you chuckle. All the food was good, but it was Shira's burger that was the yummiest part of the meal. And she had it cooked well done no less. Yet, it still beat out any burger in my recent memory. From there, we hit up a specific Smith's Grocery Store that has a Kosher Experience at the front of the store. That gave us access to all sorts of Kosher foodstuffs, which given that we had access to a full kitchen in our suite, was a nice bonus.

Between the restaurant and the supermarket we hit up Springs Preserve, which is a combination museum, gardens and trails. I didn't have high expectations for the Nevada State Museum, but apparently I should have. The museum was quite solid, providing info about the geology, wildlife and history of Nevada. One highlight was a cabinet full of gaming 'cheats' that were previously employed to beat the house. People sure are clever! The fossils on display were also quite epic.

The trails offered at the springs were less impressive. The weather was cold and windy, so that didn't help. But still, there wasn't a whole lot to see on said trails and we could have safely skipped that experience. The cactus garden at the botanic gardens, however, was well done. I'm a sucker for cacti, so seeing such an impressive variety is always going to win me over.

I could see how the Springs would be a great activity for kids, especially those not ready for a full blown trail experience.

The other highlight from our day was grabbing some pics of the Strip at night. The Galaxy S9's night mode vastly simplified this task. In fact, I had to smile at myself for being able to walk up to a scene, snap a photo, and walk away, all while a fellow photographer worked on capturing the same pic using his tripod and DSLR. His pic may be better, but mine certainly got the job done. Truthfully, by then the chilly afternoon had turned into a cold night, so I was glad to be able to snap and run.

The next couple days promise more cold and wet weather. Who comes to Vegas and expects winter conditions?

Monday, November 25, 2019

WP Plugin Hacking: Adding a [learn-more] tag to Simple Calendar's Event Template Tags

I'm helping a team of folks revamp our Shul's website and one area we're focusing on is the events/calendar section. Like most organizations, we've got to balance sharing information with the need to minimize maintenance. Simply put, having to keep event data manually in sync in multiple locations is a recipe for disaster.

The Simple Calendar WordPress plugin solves most of this challenge. It lets the office staff maintain a master Google Calendar and the website's event page renders using this data.

The ability to use the plugin's Event Template Tags means that the web team can customize how events appear and can publish them in the clearest way possible.

The challenge comes, however, when we consider the amount of information tracked in a Google Calendar entry. The essentials are there: title, when, where and a description but extra information that we'd like published on the website is missing. Is there a fee for this event? Is it kid friendly? What's the dress code? And so on.

We could cram this information into the description of a Google Calendar entry, but that will be both painful to manage and throw off other apps using the master calendar feed.

Our solution is to create a WordPress post for each event that contains all the event details. This is easy enough to do, but leaves us with the new challenge of how we link these posts from within an event template. I'd hoped I could write a bit of code to do this, but the Simple Calendar plugin docs don't mention any hooks or filters that I could tie into.

Fortunately, looking through the plugin source code I realized that such hooks do exist, mainly: simcal_event_tags_add_custom and simcal_event_tags_do_custom.

Below is the code for a trivial plugin that lets you auto-link a 'Learn More' post to a calendar entry. Once the plugin is enabled, you can use the [learn-more] tag to link to the relevant post within an event template:

Posts are associated with a calendar by setting a custom field to the relevant calendar entry ID:

Calendar entry IDs are shown to admin users when they visit the events page. So using them requires a bit of copying and pasting, but it isn't hard to do.

This scheme should provide us the best of both worlds: a centralized calendar for easy management, and support for detailed information on the website that is auto-linked to the calendar.

Here's the plugin code that makes this all work:

<?php
/*
Plugin Name: Simple Calendar Learn More
Description: A plugin to add a [learn-more] link to the simple calendar Event Tags.
Version: 1.0.0
Author: Ben Simon
*/


add_filter('simcal_event_tags_add_custom', function($tags) {
  $tags[] = 'learn-more';

  return $tags;
});

add_filter('simcal_event_tags_do_custom', function($body, $tag, $partial, $attr, $event) {
  if($tag == 'learn-more') {
    $id = str_replace('@google.com', '', $event->ical_id);
    $attrs = shortcode_atts([
      'newwindow' => 'yes',
      'label'     => "Learn More"
    ], shortcode_parse_atts($attr));

    $posts = get_posts([
      'meta_key' => 'calendar-id',
      'meta_value' => $id
    ]);

    $html = '';

    if($posts) {
      $label = $attrs['label'];
      $target = $attrs['newwindow'] == 'yes' ? 'target="_blank"' : '';
      $url    = get_permalink($posts[0]);
      $html = "<a href='$url' $target>$label</a>";
    }

    if(current_user_can('edit_posts')) {
      $html .= "<p style='text-align: right'><small>calendar-id is <i>$id</i></small></p>";
    }
    return $html;

  } else {
    return $body;
  }
}, 10, 5);


?>

Friday, November 22, 2019

One Route to a Route Planning Spreadsheet

Ever live by a sage piece of advice, only to go back and find that such advice was never actually given? That's how I'm feeling about the topic I'm writing about today.

In my mind's eye, I can recall learning an important lesson from DIY Endurance Athlete Matt Kirk: step one in crafting a self-designed adventure is to create a spreadsheet outlining the plan. Back in 2015, I can see evidence of Matt's advice in action with his Cross Florida Run. Here is the planning spreadsheet that made such a big impact on me. I haven't looked at this spreadsheet or his trip report in years and yet I still find both move me!

But here's the thing: I can find no evidence that his Cross Florida Run or any other adventure was planned initially in spreadsheet form. Either I can't find the post where he offered up this advice, or more likely, I just assumed it. For all I know, Matt Kirk hates spreadsheets and thinks trip planning using them is a waste.

Either way, I took his never-dispensed advice on my last big run. You can find the planning spreadsheet here. Matt's planning doc covers nearly 150 miles. In comparison, mine covers a paltry 22. I created mine mainly to field test the idea for longer adventures, and yet, I found the document to be surprisingly useful. Using it I had a solid sense of both timing and caloric needs and it let me relax and enjoy the run knowing I was prepared for the ordeal.

So while Matt Kirk never said (or said it, and I've lost the source) a planning spreadsheet is key for your next Big Adventure, I'll say it is. And I'll go further, I'll give you my algorithm for creating such a document.


Step 1. Plan a general route by dropping waypoints into a Google 'My Map'.

I have mixed feelings about Google's My Map tool. On one hand, it lets you easily notate key points on a map. On the other, I find the tools generally clunky and frustrating to use. The distance tool, for example, is always tripping me up. Regardless, I know of no better way to generally outline your plan than waypoints on a My Map.

Step 2. Export your My Map as a KML file and convert the KML file to text using GPS Visualizer.

GPS Visualizer is your map-data Swiss Army Knife; learn it and love it. Google My Maps deals with KML files, my Garmin InReach likes GPX files and Google Sheets likes delimited text. GPS Visualizer will let you convert to and from these formats with ease.

Step 3. Import the CSV file into a Google Sheet.

Importing from a Google My Map insures you're not copying and pasting lat/long values which are easily mucked up.

Step 4. Use the imported waypoints to construct a detailed set of checkpoints.

In this case I'm doing an out-and-back route so the second half of the checkpoints are a mirror of the first half.

Step 5. Add terrain, distance and calculate estimated duration per checkpoint.

I've had success estimating distance using Google's My Map measuring tool as well using Google Map's built in distance measuring tool. I find the Google Maps tool to be far easier to use than the My Maps version.

After noting the distance to the checkpoint, I'll consider the terrain I'll be encountering while getting myself to that checkpoint. Each terrain is assigned a minutes per mile pace in a lookup table:

Finally, a bit of basic spreadsheet math is used to calculate the amount of time needed to make it to the checkpoint:

  =(vlookup(D2,Pacing,2,false) * C2)/1440

The vlookup() pull the minutes per mile value, and the division by 1440 (the number of minutes in a day) converts the value to a Google Sheets time value. Once the time value is calculated, you can adjust the format to 'duration' to see a properly formatted time.

Step 6. Create a route summary including a calorie needs estimate.

The route summary consists of basic spreadsheet math. The distance and estimated time sum up the relevant columns from the Checkpoint sheet. The caloric estimate is calculated by assuming I'll eat a certain number of calories every X minutes. For a long run, I plan to consume 100 calories every 30 minutes. But of course this is a spreadsheet, so those values are easily tweaked.

Step 7. Add in calorie source details.

There's nothing special about the caloric detail. It's simply a sum of all the calories I'll bring with me on the adventure. Having this in spreadsheet form is useful because I can substitute foods the day of and know that I'm still nutritionally covered.

Using the planned nutrition data I can trivially calculate how much of a buffer of food I'm planning to bring:

Step 8. Create a GPX file for import into Backcountry Navigator and the Garmin In-Reach

Back to GPS Visualizer we go! The goal will be to convert our textual data from the Checkpoints tab to a GPX file that most navigational programs and devices understand. To simplify this, you can create a formula that generates the data GPS Visualizer expects:

="C" & text(A2,"00") & ": " & B2 & "," & F2 & "," & G2

And your done! You've now got a document that serves a number of important uses. It lets you think about a large adventure in small chunks, plan a reasonable amount of time for said adventure and insure you've got a nutrition plan in mind. You also have a document you can share with family and friends so they know your route and plan.

You can find the sample document I worked through above here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Escape! Midway! Oorah!

This past weekend we hosted my Mother-in-Law and her boyfriend. We did a number of enjoyable activities, each of which left me with quite the impression.

Escape!

First off, with the help of my Brother and Sister-in-Law, the six of us busted out of Escape Room Arlington. This was Shira and my third Escape Room, and our first one solved without hints! This particular Escape Room is located up the street from us, so Shira and I were excited to try it out, if only to support a hyper-local business. We were all impressed the experience. The challenge, entitled Secret in the Attic sounded scary, but as promised was wholesome family fun.

The room employed a number of tricks we'd seen in our past Escape Rooms, as well as some game-changing new ones. The room was complex enough that we could all be busy working on different puzzles, yet it was easy enough that we kept making forward progress. If you're new to the Escape Room concept and looking for a good first challenge, Escape Arlington's Secret in the Attic is ideal.

Midway!

Saturday night we took in the movie Midway, which takes you through the Battle of Midway during World War II. I'm still processing this movie and I haven't determined whether I liked it or not. On one hand, the story arc seems long to the point of being excessive. I get that to appreciate Midway as a turning point you have to understand just how much of an underdog the US Navy was. But my gosh, that made for a long run-up to the action. Of course, had the film skimped on backstory, I'd probably be griping about how the film needed more context.

And then there are the cliche characters. Perhaps these really were made-for-movie personalities, but everyone from the geeky code breaker to cowboy-fighter-pilot seemed to fit the exact stereotype you'd have for that role. I'm not buying it.

On the plus side, the attack scenes are done well and give you a sense of how seemingly impossible the task of taking out a Japanese aircraft carrier would be.

I was surprised when I glanced over at the IMDB reviews at just how many folks liked the movie. The consensus from the top reviewers was that the movie gets the historic facts right with a minimum of distractions. So maybe the movie deserves more credit then I'm prepared to give it.

Oorah!

We finished our weekend with a visit to the National Museum of Marine Corps. Shira and I have been to the museum a number of times, but it still ranks as one of the best in the area. While I enjoyed my stroll through the various exhibits, it occurred to me after the fact that I really should have mixed things up. At minimum, I should have walked the museum in reverse. Even better, I should plopped myself down in one spot and done some sketching or writing. The exhibits are quite immersive and this would have been a chance to do some battlefield sketching without getting shot at.

As with past visits to the museum, I picked up a number of fresh insights and learned about a number of new personalities. One of which was Kerr Eby who's credited with the following drawing:

Eby's involvement in WWII was unexpected to say the least:

When the United States declared war in 1941, Eby tried to enlist, but was turned down because of his age. He instead received his opportunity to participate when Abbott Laboratories developed its combat artist program. Between October 1943 and January 1944, he traveled with Marines in the South Pacific and witnessed some of the fiercest fighting of the war, landing with the invasion force at Tarawa and living three weeks in a foxhole on Bougainville.

Wait, Combat Artist Program? Yes, Combat Art was a thing:

In January 1943, George Biddle, a mural artist and the brother of the U.S. Secretary General, was invited by the assistant Secretary of War to form a War Department Art Advisory committee and serve as chair. The army, inspired by the success of a small war artist program in WWI, had been considering sending artists into battle since early 1942. Biddle's committee, which would be responsible for selecting the artists, included the noted artist Henry Varnum Poor, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Francis Henry Taylor, and the writer John Steinbeck. Steinbeck was an active supporter of the war art program, and wrote to Biddle: "It seems to me that a total war would require the use not only of all of the material resources of the nation but also the spiritual and psychological participation of the whole people. And the only psychic communication we have is through the arts."

What's remarkable was the mission given to these artists:

...Any subject is in order, if as artists you feel that it is part of War; battle scenes and the front line battle landscapes; the dying and the dead; prisoners of war; field hospitals and base hospitals; wrecked habitations and bombing scenes; character sketches of our own troops, of prisoners, of the natives of the countries you visit;- never official portraits; the tactical implements of war; embarkation and debarkation scenes; the nobility, courage, cowardice, cruelty, boredom of war; all this should form part of a well-rounded picture. Try to omit nothing; duplicate to your heart's content. Express if you can, realistically or symbolically, the essence and spirit of war. You may be guided by Blake's mysticism, by Goya's cynicism and savagery, by Delacroix's romanticism, by Daumier's humanity and tenderness; or better still follow your own inevitable star. We believe that our Army Command is giving you an opportunity to bring back a record of great value to our country. Our committee wants to assist you to that end.

Here's a gallery of art produced by the Abbott Labs project that Eby was involved in. The army, for their part, is still collecting art from its soldiers.

I love this notion of using art as a tool to capture what photography, film or prose may fail to grasp.

What a fun and thought provoking weekend!

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