Monday, April 24, 2017

Washington Union Station

Passenger train travel works really well from New York to Washington DC.  All in from check in to walking into the city center, train travel is generally faster than flying along the east coast corridor - and cheaper - and more comfortable.  DC and Philadelphia are fortunate to have their classic passenger train stations.  Penn Station in New York, is a 60's vintage disaster.  Grand Central Station in New York is spectacular, but it is all local commuter rail, Amtrak uses Penn Station and it is a nasty mess. I have not been in Philly for a few years, I do hope that the city is working on restoring the station there, it is a great classic.  

Washington Union Station was likely saved from the wrecking ball by being redone as a visitors center for the Bicentennial Celebration in 1976.  That remodel also added to the station a Metro Rail Subway station, it is one of the busiest stations in the Metro system.  

In the Mid 70's remodel the main hall had a two story restaurant plunked down in the middle of it, and four large fountain / planters placed around the floor.  The ceiling was damaged a few years ago in an earthquake, and had been under restoration for the past 2- years.  I was in the Station for lunch recently and was amazed, the ceiling restoration is finished, the restaurant and planters have been removed.  The room has been restored to it's original glory.  It is spectacular.  

What is your favorite public space in your town? 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Five - Hairy Questions

1: Getting your hair cut, a pleasure, or just something that has to be done? 
2: Is your hair the same color it was 20 years ago? 
3: Chest hair on men, do you prefer none, a little or a lot? 
4: Would you wear a wig? 
5: How often do you wash your hair? 

My answers:
1: Getting my haircut is usually stressful and something that just has to be done. The stress part is a holdover from my childhood.
2: Largely yes, there is a bit more grey, but not that much
3: Despite being married to a sweet bear, I prefer none. 
4: I never have worn a wig, generally hairpieces on men look silly. 
5: Five or six times a week - probably more than I should.  

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spring Wisdom From My Grandfather

My Grandfather on my father's side was born on a farm, about 60 miles from St Louis on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. He understood nature, the cycle of life, the  rhythm of seasons. By the time I came into the picture, he had worked in the Ford Rouge Plant for three decades, left that to keep bees full time, raise a garden, hunt and fish.  About the time I was born my grandparents started spending winters in Istachatta, Florida.  

When I was in middle school, I was helping out with the gardens.  My grandparents had returned from Florida, and we were talking about planing tomatoes one spring, I was watching the calendar waiting for the first day of spring.  My grandfather told me to ignore the calendar, and look to the oak trees. He taught me, "when the leaves on the oak trees, are as big as a squirrel's ear, we are free of frost for the season and it is safe to plant."  For over 40 years, I have tested his lesson, and every year he has been right.  

I don't know where he learned this lesson, but I know where I did.

What did you learn from a grandparent?   


Friday, April 21, 2017

A Visit From the Board of Directors at Spo-Reflections

Okay, Okay, Okay, I have just had a long visit from the Board of Directors at Spo-Reflections  informing me that I have been posting the most boring postings - posting that fail to draw even hate comments - only yawns.  Hence this posting was going to be: 
What Have I Been Reading 8th Edition 
Apparently no one wants to comment about what I have been reading.  I will leave the book review below, and not write about the latest book I finished today (it was funny and about France.)   

So, what is happening in the world.  

Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News amid sexual harassment claims.  

I have to start with saying that he may have worked on what bills itself as "news" but he was not a news reporter.  He was a partisan political commentator who made his fame by inviting guests onto his talk show and then bullying and belittling them.  He had very little respect or care for the facts, even alternative facts. His style of journalism would make Dan Rather roll over in his grave - if Dan Rather was dead (he isn't - who knew) a simple fact check O'Reilly might well have failed to make.  My father will miss him, Dad believed what this windbag said. 

His fall from grace, was not for his lack of journalistic standards, but a long term habit and pattern of sexual harassment and abuse in the work place.  As someone who was once sexually harassed in work place, I am glad that Fox finally said enough is enough.  I am furious that they have waited this long.  This was nothing new, this was not the first coworker who spoke out. Sexual harassment is not fun, or sexy, or normal, it leaves the object feeling disgusted, powerless, and fearful. Some of his other targets have been paid off to go silent, money can not heal the trauma or restore the self image for his coworkers - I do hope they find peace and realize that HE WAS THE PROBLEM, not them.  No one should be treated the way he treated people.  

I am glad to see him go.  

Who else should go? 

I just finished "Stir: My Broken Brain and The Meals that Brought Me Home" by Jessica Fector.  I mentioned this book on Facebook the other day, how good is it, I was so involved in reading it that I missed a station I needed to change subway trains at. In 8.5 years of riding the metro, that has only happened three times.  I was surprised at how interesting the book was, how well written. 

The author was a 20-something PhD student at Harvard, when she collapsed at a conference in Vermont, with a brain aneurysm. The book is a narrative in which she describes what happened, and the role that cooking and baking played in her two years of recovery. It is an inside look at both the physical and emotional process of serious illness and recovery.  It is not a "cookbook" but because food, baking and cooking play a central role in the narrative, the book is peppered with recipes you will want to try.  For the author, returning the kitchen was returning to normal "healthy" life.  

The story hit a personal note for me.  I am coming up on two years since my little adventure in spinal surgery. I understand the role in returning to normal is in recovery. J will tell you that I was home from the rehab hospital less than an hour, and I was fixing myself lunch and starting a load of laundry (the occupational therapist showed me how to do laundry, how to get things in and out of the refrigerator, how load the dishwasher before I came home - she was really great.)   

So what are you reading? 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What do I need more of in my life?

I live a pretty good life, I like where I live, I am reasonably well paid, I eat what ever I want, and I travel a comfortable amount.  And yet somethings are missing. I got to thinking "what do I need more of in my life?"  Here are a few rambling thoughts. 

I need to listen to people talk about things that I know nothing about.  I have reached the point in life where "been there - done that," covers most things. When I listen to others I am more validating what I think I already know, than I am exploring new ideas.  I need knew ideas, new experiences in my life.  

I need to spend time with people who are different than I am. I find myself with hardening of the attitudes about people who are different, the best solution is getting to know people whose life experience is different than mine. If I understand their point of view, I don't have to agree with it, but it is easier to tolerate difference, when I understand it. 

I need to spend more time thinking and being creative.  I get so busy, that I am doing, not thinking.  

What do you need more of in your life? 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

French Birds

If we could understand the language of birds, what would they tell us? 

Would she tell us what it is like to fly, what the world looks like from above?  
Would she tell us what it is like to forage for food, to find shelter from the weather, refuge from predators?  
Would she talk about the places she has visited, the adventures she has had? 
Would she talk about family, and mates, and relationships with other birds? 
Do birds gossip? 
I wonder if this bird knows he is French? That he is at Mt St Michele? 

What would you ask the bird? 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Long-Long Time Ago

I took this picture of  my paternal Grandmother about 40 years ago at Williamsburg, Virginia.  After my grandfather died in 1976, she and I traveled a fair bit in the eastern part of the United States.  She and my grandfather had spent 25 winters in Florida.  Always driving the most efficient route, and never stopping between point A and point B, except to eat, put gas the car and sleep overnight.  She wanted to take the slow roads, and stop where ever something looked interesting.  So we did.  

This would have been taken with a Cannon F-1, with probably a 50mm f1.4 lens, using a Kodak professional color negative film.  I would have had at least two other lenses with me, a 28mm f2.8 and a 135mm f3.5.  There might have been a 200mm, and a 100 to 200mm zoom in the bag.  Later when I had a chance I added a couple more lenses and a motorized body to the bag.  Oh, yes I was camera crazy.  There are three digital cameras on my desk, some things never change.  

She has been gone about 21 years, she died right around tax day. Nearly to the end her mind stayed sharp, her hearing, eyesight and mobility failed after she was in her 80's.  She voluntarily moved to assisted living about 5 years before she died. She stayed there until the last three weeks.  

She was my grandmother, and my best friend.  I learned a lot from her.  Late in life, she shared with me family secrets and talked about things she had never talked about.  Her family had tickets for the Titanic, her sister got sick and they were advised to wait a few days and take the next ship.  She arrived in New York as the empty lifeboats from Titanic were being unloaded at the pier, that experience haunted her.  Her younger sister had a child out of wedlock and that was left at the hospital for adoption - no one in the family talked about it, her sister died of chronic alcoholism - I have sometimes wondered if the family had talked about it, if Floss might have been able to cope with life without booze. After my grandfather died, my grandmother went out on two dates.  She said it felt good to feel desirable, but she felt like it was cheating on my grandfather and broke it off.   

Tell us about a special relationship you had with a family member or friend.