Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Solo Travel

A couple of my fellow bloggers have written recently about traveling alone.  Because of work travel, I travel solo more often than I do with the sweet-hubby-bear.  We love one another's families (well at least most of the members of them) but we often travel alone to visit family.  We get away a couple of times a year together, but of the dozen trips I will make this year, 8 of them will be solo.

The adventure of travel is really two parts, transportation, and being there.

I actually prefer to fly alone.  The only person I have to keep track of is me, I can be as pleasant or not as I want when I am flying solo and not have to concern myself with another person.  The farthest that I have flown solo, is Athens.  I flew on frequent flyer miles and J couldn't match my outgoing travel, I arrived 8 or 9 hours ahead of him.  It was one of the easiest trans-Atlantic flights I have ever had - I slept for 4 or 5 hours between New York and Athens. I found my way to the hotel, checked in, took a nap, went out for lunch, wandered through the central market, and was back a the hotel for a second nap when he arrived.  I have also spent a week solo in France while J was at a conference at Oxford.  In 2015 I flew to Germany and J flew in a day later to meet me.

Driving long distances alone can be deadly boring.  I do a couple of 400-800 miles each way car trips a year alone.  I wish I had someone to talk with, to help spot the sights and adventures along the way.

Being there, IE, staying in hotels and eating is the second part.  I get a bit fuzzier here.  I don't mind staying in hotel rooms alone.  I settle in, get comfortable and relax.  When I am alone I don't have to share the bathroom, and I can come and go when I am ready.  I have come to be uncomfortable eating out alone.  The lone single dinner in a restaurant is not always treated well,  I really miss someone to talk to when I am waiting for service.  Being an American of mid-west origin, I (we) stop talking once the food has arrived - with the exception of commenting on the food.  As I travel I learn that other's are not like this, they talk while the food gets cold. A new habit I have developed when traveling solo, is to buy take-out-food and eat alone in the hotel room, I have had some memorable sushi overlooking the Pacific in California and Hawaii doing this.  I find this harder to do when I am traveling with J,  he has a harder time deciding what he wants and worries that he has made a bad choice (that something better was available.)  

So how do you feel about traveling solo?
What is the longest trip you have made solo?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A night out with the Supreme's

Justice Louis D Brandeis was cremated after his death and his remains interred under the portico at the Law School at the University of Louisville.  He had lived in Louisville, and was a loyal patron of the law school, he literally helped keep the lights on at the school during the depression of the 1920's.  October 19th was the 100th anniversary of his nomination for a seat on the Supreme Court.  I was invited to a lecture and reception in commemoration of this.  

I have attended open Court, and visited the building as a tourist, but this was my first after hours and into non-public area of the Court visit. Justice Kagan was our host for the evening, and Justice Ginsberg also attended.  It was fun to see them off duty.  The Court building is interesting, a masterpiece of Greek revival architecture.  The lecture was held in the Court room, yes I sneaked one forbidden photograph in the court room.  

The reception was held in the East and West Conference rooms on the main floor, just north of the Court Room.  Rarely seen the rooms are elegant and detailed. They open onto two interior courtyards, spaces few people outside of the Court staff ever see.  The weather was glorious for mid October and the courtyards were open.  In the top picture, the windows behind me, are the north wall of the Court room.    

It was worth staying out past my bedtime. 
What was the last thing you stayed out for past your bedtime? 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Autumn Leaves

This picture is from a few years ago, the leaves are just starting to color here.  Seeing the first color reminded me of a story a friend told me a few years ago.

When he was growing up his father planted a Japanese Maple tree in the front yard of the family home.  Dad loved that tree, every summer he carefully pruned it, watered it, checked it for pests, replaced the mulch around it.  He spent so much time working on it that the family kidded him that he was going to kill the tree by fussing over it. In the fall, when it was at it's peak of color, he would haul out a lawn chair and sit for hours on a saturday looking at it.  It was the setting for numerous family photographs.  His father died one July, and was cremated.  The family gathered around the tree and scattered his ashes around the tree.  Two days later, all of the leaves fell off the tree, and it never came back.  The family has had an ongoing debate for 20 years.  You see he was a very difficult man with an angry and sour disposition.  Some say his ashes must have as angry and bitter he was and that is what killed the tree.  Others say the tree died in a show of solidarity with the person who had tended it.

When my time comes I hope my tree dies in sympathy.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Five Questions About Footwear

These are probably the oldest shoes I have ever seen, found in a tomb from ancient Egypt, and on display in the Metropolitan Museum in New York city.  I recently wrote about leaving the office in a hurry and finding myself in the back seat of a limousine wearing my everyday running shoes.  This gets me to thinking about footwear.  I have long liked shoes, one time I went to the office wearing a different pair of shoes everyday for a month, just to prove that I could.  I own fewer pairs of shoes today, but still likely more than average.  Age and weight have made comfort a priority over style most of the time.

We all wear footwear of some kind, let's learn about one another.

1: How many pairs of shoes, boots, and sandals do you own (we will wait while you go count)?

2: When you are hanging out around the house, do you prefer to wear footwear, or go barefoot?

3: Have you ever driven a car or truck barefoot? (Doing so is legal in some states.)

4: Describe the most expensive pair of shoes or boots you have ever bought?

5: When buying shoes, which is more important style or comfort?

My answers:

1: How many pairs of shoes, boots, and sandals do you own (we will wait while you go count)?  - 33

2: When you are hanging out around the house, do you prefer to wear footwear, or go barefoot? - barefoot - I have been known to run around the office barefoot.

3: Have you ever driven a car or truck barefoot? (Doing so is legal in some states.)  Yes, it is legal is Florida

4: Describe the most expensive pair of shoes or boots you have ever bought? - Bruno Magli alligator loafers. I bought them in an outlet store for a really great price - but still more than I should have spent. They fulfilled a fantasy.  I bought them in the peak of my running days, when I picked up a little weight my feet spread half a size and I had to donate them.

5: When buying shoes, which is more important style or comfort? - Comfort comes first, I have owned to quote OJ, "some ugly ass shoes" but they were comfortable.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

An empty bottle of Blantons

An empty bottle of Blanton's is enough to make a grown man cry, well not me, I have a nice stash of high quality - some of them rare, single barrel bourbons.  

Blanton's claims to be the first single barrel.  The history is that the distillery had changed ownership, the inventory system of the previous owner left a bit to be desired and tucked away in the aging warehouses were barrels that had been there much longer than normal.  About the same time, the Japanese were going gaga for single malt Scotch whiskey.  Someone decided to try bottling the bourbon equivalent of a single malt - and Blanton's was born.  Originally only as an export product - shipped to Asia, primarily Japan.  Americans, Kentuckians, were buying it and bringing it back from Japan.  

For a long time I resisted buying Blanton's, it is rather expensive.  Last spring I stopped at Buffalo Trace to buy the best vodka made in America (Wheatley - it is only available at the distillery and in California) and while I was there I picked up a bottle of Blanton's - I was stocking up on single barrels that trip. Oh my, it was worth it.  It is very smooth, with a sweet flavor profile.  Very easy to drink.  

Not all single barrel bourbons are good.  Some are rushed, some are to heavy on the rye (spice.)  Look for ones that are well aged, not rushed.        

Friday, October 21, 2016

Blacksmith, Whitesmith, Silversmith, Goldsmith

I was out at Mt Vernon one day watching work in the Blacksmith shop.  There was a school group visiting that day, with a page of questions they needed to answer as an assignment.  One of the students asked "why is a blacksmith called a blacksmith?"  

The answer was that the crafts-person works with iron and other black metals. A whitesmith works with tin and other white metals, a silversmith works with silver and a goldsmith works with gold.  I have photographed tinsmiths at work, but never knew that they might be called a whitesmith.  I took a class in silversmithing in college (lost wax casting, wire work and hollow construction.)  

I never know what I am going to learn in the great adventure of travel.  

What surprising thing have you learned while traveling? 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Is it really work?

The summer between my first and second year of law school I was doing a mandatory volunteer stint in a legal aid office.  I had been there about a week, when one of the staff attorneys was called away on some emergency and asked me to cover her time on the intake desk that afternoon.  She said, it is easy, listen to their story, fill out the form, and for gawds-sake don't promise them we can do anything to help them, tell them someone will call them next week to let them know if we can help.  

I answered the first call, and the caller said, "you have got to help me, they are trying to take away my lion!"  I should have known then and there that I had found my calling in life. I spent a decade after law school managing a legal aid program focused on seniors. Not what I expected to do when I went to law school.  This is a second career for me, I had worked for land developers and home builders for 15 years before going onto graduate school.  I went to law school expecting to do planning, zoning, and construction defects litigation for the rest of my life.  But I fell in love with public interest legal work, and I have never seriously looked back. 

Both careers have been all consuming, at times the hours are obsessively unhealthy.   Both have been stressful at times.  I recall telling a boss one time, "I am mad as hell, and you know what that is a good thing, because it shows that I still care about this work." When you reach the point that you don't care enough to get mad, it is time to move onto the next job, or maybe the next career.  

Despite the hours and the stress, I truly love what I am doing.  It is a passion, a calling.  I look forward to doing it (well most of it.) Find something you love doing for a living, it will consume your life, but is it really work?