Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Why Amature

I am going to break with one of my rules of not engaging with commentators I don't know to try to explain my description of my father as an amature pilot.  

My father earned commercial and instrument flight ratings in single engine land aircraft.  He worked very hard to earn those ratings with written and flying exams. If I describe him as a private pilot, I am failing to recognize his accomplishment. If I describe him as a commercial pilot, people want to know who he flew for. He never flew for money. 

He flew for the pure love of flying.  He refused to accept payment for flying.  I was at the airport with him one Sunday afternoon and a guy came in who had lost a radio controlled model airplane airplane, on like the second time he had flown it.  He had spent all winter building it, and within a couple of hours he had lost it in the trees.  None of the flight instructors was available to take him out to find it from the air, and the FBO manager, said - George why don't you take him out.  Within 15 minutes they had located the model airplane from the air, safely in a ditch. When they came back to the airport my father steadfastly refused to accept $20 for his time.  He did let the model owner pay for the airplane rental, but not the pilot time.  He said, I fly because I think it is the most magical thing you can do, I hope you fall in love with it and come back and learn to fly.  

So he was a commercial pilot, who preferred to remain as a hobbyist, doing it purely for the love of flying. I know a couple time he flew freight, in one case a corpse that needed to be delivered in time for a funeral, again refusing payment for his time.  
His unfulfilled dream was to spend his retirement as a flight instructor.  He let his insecurities get in the way, and failed the flight check - twice - and gave up.  I am sure if he had more self confidence, if he had tried again he would have passed.  You can do what you believe you can do, success is measured not by the number of times you try and fail, but by the one time you succeed.  

He learned to fly in the 50's, in aircraft that required the pilot to truly master the skills of flying. He was an amazing pilot. He flew a wide array of single engine aircraft.  He logged a couple thousand hours of flight time over about 20 years.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


I have mentioned that my father was an amature pilot, I grew up around little airplanes and little airports in Michigan and Florida.  I also mentioned that I was an uber camera nerd as a teenager.  I bought a lot of camera equipment, with money I earned.  Some of it I earned working on the family farm, but even more I made taking aerial photos of farms and businesses. 

If I am at all familiar with the geography, I am very good at finding things on the ground from the air.  If I know your neighborhood, I can find your house from the air.  

So here I am, taking a picture of my house from an Airbus A-320.  Not your typical aircraft for taking aerial pictures.  Above the wingtip, there are four (it may look like three) buildings that are kind of crescent shaped.  I own a condo in one of them.  The house in the DC burbs. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

When your time comes, make the best of it.

Actor Gene Wilder died today.  News reports say he had dementia, and had been in poor health for sometime.  He died at home surrounded by family listening to his favorite music - Somewhere Over the Rainbow.  When you time has come, what a wonderful way to go.

Random Observations From The Office

The deli in the lower lobby of my building was training a new person on the sandwich line last week, my turkey and swiss on whole wheat with mayo and pickles, was missing the swiss.  The manager really needs to hire staff with a firm grasp of English or working hearing aids.  

One of my dear co-workers came into my office and closed the door and uttered those most dreaded of words, "I wanted to tell you personally" - my first thought was oh-my-god-we-are-losing-her.  Instead she told me she has decided to spawn again, that explains why she has looked a little "green-around-the-gills" for the past three months.  We will lose her for 2-3 months early next year.  I still don't understand children, why does anyone do that?  I am pretty sure she knows what causes it.  Oh well, if it makes her happy.  

My project budget is in the process of being renegotiated with the funder.  The funding has been cut, and cut and cut and the final indignity - they zeroed out my travel budget.  I can sell my time to other projects, but losing my travel budget - it is a good thing I am not close to retirement age that might have been the last straw.  


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Technology Questions

How about a picture of a place that has not changed much in 100 years, to lead off my Sunday Five, with five questions on technology. 

1: A recent study found that if forced to give up something to keep  a smart phone, 38% said they would rather give up sex than their smart phone.  So - your phone or your sex life? 
2: You know how Facebook has added new "reaction" buttons, now it is not just like, but, love, laugh, angry, crying, shocked.  Still no really negative ones, if you could add one of the following which would it be: a) dislike b)You Idiot or c)You need help?
3: Desktop or laptop, which do you prefer to use? 
4: Do you use electronic boarding passes, or print them out? 
5: GPS or printed maps? 

My answers: 
1: So - your phone or your sex life?  - I'd give up my phone  - it just annoys me most of the time. 
2:  Facebook would you add  a) dislike b)You Idiot or c)You need help? B=You Idiot 
3: Desktop or laptop, which do you prefer to use? Desktop 
4: Do you use electronic boarding passes, or print them out? Paper - I am forever bumping the wrong spot on the screen at the wrong time.  
5: GPS or printed maps? GPS most of the time. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Birthdays Past

As Bill Clinton put it, I have more yesterdays, than tomorrows - with luck I have a few more good years to go.  I have lost track of birthdays, they just keep happening, at this point having birthdays beats the alternative.  Nearly 50 years ago, the Schwinn above was a birthday present from my parents.  Funny, I was try to remember birthday presents past.  There is a sweater my sweet bear gave me about 25 years ago, and the funny sign from Germany from last year, and the bike (I still have those three.)  I can't remember any others.  All of the fuss that goes into finding just the right gift or at least finding something, and can we remember the gift even a year later? 

What is your most memorable birthday gift?    

Friday, August 26, 2016

Where was I last Year?

I interrupt this regularly scheduled posting, to announce that this blog has recently passed the 100,000 page view mark.  Thank you to my readers and viewers, I couldn't do that without you! I now return you to the regularly scheduled posting! 

I mentioned recently that I was copying my photo archive to a cloud server.  The data transfer took several days, there were nearly 100-gigabytes of images.  My first Windows desktop computer - just 20 years ago, had a whopping 1-gigabyte drive.  I am wondering if 1-terabyte is big enough on my next desktop.  

A couple of people commented on the cloud, kind of wondering what it is.  It is space on a server someplace that you can copy and store files on.  I can access those files from any web connection.  Can my files be stolen, yes, but it is just photographs and do I really care if someone uses one of them?  Can they be lost, yes, but I have lost files here at home to a hard drive failure.  My primary computer and my back-up server sit side by side, if the building collapses, I would lose both.  The offsite cloud back-up is the back-up to my back-up.  I went with a cloud server as part of a service I am likely to keep for a long time - if I quit paying - the files would go.  

So what does all of this have to do with where was I last year?  I get a daily pop-up on my phone with images taken on this date, going back as far as the digital files go.  Every day, I can see where I was last year,  the year before, the year before, I had one today from 11 years ago (I was a legal aid conference in the middle of no-where Kentucky- I miss the people - but I don't miss that venue.) 

So where were you last year?    

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Slow motion adventures

I live just off US-1, the original road connecting Maine to Key West.  I had lived just off of US-1 as a teenager and into my early 20's, my parents live a mile from US-1, about 850 miles south of here.  I have periodically thought about going out the front gate, turning right and meandering down the old road, all the way to my parent's home in Florida.  It would turn the 12-14 hour drive, into a 24-36 hour drive.  I usually stop part way and break the trip over two days, taking the old road I would need at least 3 days each way.  Maybe I will get to the point that I have the patience to do that.  Not yet, but maybe some day. 

Last Saturday I decided that a little jaunt in the northern Virginia countryside would be fun.  I have been saying that I wanted to go to Fredericksburg, about 50 miles from here for the longest time.  From what I have seen the old downtown area is quaint, and there is the largest most successful distillery in the state there.  So off I went, leaving about 9:15 in the morning.  It took me 2.5 hours to drive 52 miles, over an hour to go less then 14 miles.  There are a couple of little towns between here and there that have installed traffic lights that let 7 or 8 cars pass through every two minutes.  The result is traffic backed up half way to the moon on the weekends.  Small towns that should be bulldozed.  I am sure they are saying we they are trying to preserve the quality of life in their community, what they have created is traffic that is a living hell for anyone trying to move through there - with the possible exception of the middle of the night.  

On Saturday I just kept reminding myself that I was not in a hurry, and the journey - even if it was in slow motion, was part of the adventure.  I took the expressway home, it only 1.5 hours to cover the same 52 miles.  

One time my ex-in-laws drove from Florida to visit family here in the DC area.  They got as far as the stretch of expressway that took me 1.5 hours to go 52 miles, and turned around and went back to Florida.  

Do you every give up on traffic and turn around and go home? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Wonder Dog

The picture is in my parent's home in Florida, the dog is my sister's dog, Blitz the wonder dog.  

I didn't grow up with dogs in the house.  My father and grandfather had hunting dogs, dogs that never crossed the threshold of the house.  I was tasked with feeding them, without them escaping from the run.  It was not easy, one was escape artist, the other was a nasty little thing that would try to bite the hand that fed him.  Over the years I feared or loathed most of the dogs I met.  

Then along comes Blitz, aka The Wonder Dog.  He is sweet, well behaved and I kind of fell in love with him the first time we met.  For a young dog, he is only 3 years old, I amazed at how mellow he is - I wonder what my brother in law mixes in that dog food! 

Soon, I will go visit The Wonder Dog, and the rest of the people who live in that house.  My sister is fun, but you really should meet her dog.     

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Riding the New York Subway 
I have a couple of professional licenses, one of which I need to maintain as active for my current employment, and one that I have not used since June of 1995 - but keep renewing.  

I have had a real estate license in Florida since 1978, I have had a brokers license in Florida since 1980.  I made a living with it doing sales and marketing for home builders for 15 years, 3 or 4 of those years I made an exceptionally good living. 

I keep renewing that license.  It costs me less than $100 every other year to do the continuing education and pay the fee. If I wanted to, I could activate the license online and in minutes be legally able to receive a fee. If I fail to renew it, or ask them to cancel it, and ever want to have it back, I have to start the entire licensing process over again repeating the course work, exams, background checks, and post licensure education, for the brokers license there is a minimum experience requirement between the associates license and brokers licence. It would be costly and time consuming.  So on the off chance that an opportunity to fast easy money might come along, or I might somehow find myself in Florida trying to figure out how to fill my time, I keep renewing it. 

Yet, I know there is little if any chance that I will ever return to Florida.  I have fond memories of Florida, but I would find it a difficult adjustment after 21 years living back north. In many ways the 10 years I spent getting a BA in Florida were some of the most fun years of my life.  The license is kind of a part of me, a part of my old identity.   

So the conundrum, how long do I keep renewing? I have two more years to think about it, I just renewed through the end of September 2018.     

Monday, August 22, 2016

I used to think

Spo recently posted a list of things he once thought were true, that he no longer believes are true followed by Ron in Delaware.  Here is a list of ten things I once thought were true, that I no longer believe. 

  1. Working for psychopaths was worth it, as long as they paid me well.  
  2. That I had to live my life to satisfy others.    
  3. That I had to be thin, to be happy.  
  4. Money was the source of happiness.  
  5. That great leaders were perfect.
  6. That if I worked hard enough, I would always be successful. 
  7. That Richard Nixon was just misunderstood. 
  8. That all doctors were quacks. 
  9. That I was a simple person. 
  10. That if I quit running, I would get fat - well maybe I was right on that one. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

If granted five wishes, what would you ask for?

John Gray recently posted a list of ten-things he would want, nothing extravagant.  Now there have been times in the recent past when what I would have asked for on the spur of the moment, was a certain co-worker's head on a platter, but I am really not that kind of a person (unless I am provoked.) Because it is Sunday, it is five, so here are my five questions about what would you ask for if granted five simple wishes.

1: Would you ask for more vacation time time or more money?  You can only have one of the two.
2: Where would you go, if you had to leave today and come back in a week?
3: What space in your home would you like someone to clean for you and why?
4: What item, under $50 (or pounds or euros) would you buy for yourself?
5: Who would you wish to win the lottery and why?

My answers:
1: Would you ask for more vacation time time or more money?  You can only have one of the two.
I am running short of paid vacation and leave time.  I would like to spend more time with my parents and with J in the other house. So for me vacation time.

2: Where would you go, if you had to leave today and come back in a week?
London, with a side trip to Wales to meet John in person. It has been too long, I really miss my ancestral homeland.

3: What space in your home would you like someone to clean for you and why?
My closet needs cleaning and organizing.  Being a little bit stingy it is the hardest space for me to clear out, and I know there are things in there I will never wear again.

4: What frivolously item, under $50 (or pounds or euros) would you buy for yourself?
I'd like another drone, the last one ended up stuck in a tree.

5: Who would you wish to win the lottery and why?
My father, it would mean so much to him, and at nearly 89 and in bad health, he wouldn't spend it all.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Tough Old Birds

One of the things that I have learned about myself over the past 30 years is that I am a tough old bird.  I've been through a lot of adventures, some good, some not, and I have made it through.  You don't really know what you are made from, until you have challenged yourself and life has challenged you.  

I come by being tough honestly, my grandmother's lived long complicated lives, my grandfathers spent their lives doing back breaking work, my parents have endured into their late 80's.  I have a lot to live up to.  No two of us have faced the same path, but all have experienced great adventures in life.  

Friday, August 19, 2016

Peaking under the surrface

Grand Staircase in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York 

Underside of the stairs 
When we were in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York last week, J pointed out the grand staircase, saying it was a landmark within the landmark.  We walked past it and into a small gallery, a gallery tucked into the space under the stairs.  I looked up and realized that I was looking at the underside of the granite stairs. While the top side of the stairs is all smooth and polished, the underside is rough, raw natural stone.  

When you get a chance look under the surface, you see what things are made of.  A lot of buildings and a lot of people are smooth and polished on the one side and rough, raw and natural on the other side.  

Which side do you show to the public most days?  Do you ever let your "underside" show? 

Thursday, August 18, 2016


The lines, the curves, the sexy it evokes, the details that entice, titillate, engage your interest, fill you with desire, appeals to your animal urges, and fill you with lust. Great automotive design has all of the same qualities porn.  

Unless daddy wins the lottery, I will never own a Ferrari, but I lust over the deigns.  The trip to Modena and Maranello to see the museums was fantastic.     

So if you won the big one, what car would you buy? 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Like an Egyptian

Nope, I still don't dance, like an Egyptian or otherwise. While we were in New York one of the short list of things we wanted to do was visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Egyptian collection.  I have been fascinated by ancient Egypt since 8th grade world history class.    

The collection at the Metropolitan is amazing,  I would say easily the best I have seen.  The Museum sits in Central Park at 82nd  Street.  The nearest subway station is about a 15 minute walk away (we should have taken a taxi, it was hot and we are getting old.)  The suggested admission donation is $25 per person.  The museum is huge, you could spend days there.  We explored the ground floor, for me the highlights were the Egyptian, Greek/Roman collections, and a series of rooms from grand houses of the past.  

It was well worth the visit, worth going back to.  

What is your favorite museum?  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Yeah, in my dreams!

In case you wondered what DG's office looked like. A little much, a little over the top?  Yes, well only in my dreams.  The reality is 100-square-feet (that is a 10-foot by 10-foot space) with modern furniture.  

What would your dream work space look like? 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Photo Geek Pilgrimage

I grew up as a camera geek.  When I was about 10 my father set up a simple darkroom in the corner of the garage - one of his flying buddies had a darkroom.  That year for Christmas I got my first Instamatic camera and I was hooked.  I think I was 15 when I bought my first 35mm single lens reflex camera.  By the time I finished high school I had two top of the line Cannon 35mm bodies and a bag full of lenses and two professional large format cameras.  In my late 20's when I was making really good money for a couple of years, I added more lenses and a motor driven body.  Over the years I have sold or traded almost all of it, I still have a 35mm Nikon, and a 120 twin lens reflex, oh and my father's first Cannon 35mm SLR.  I have not shot film in nearly a decade, there are two very good digital cameras on my desk, an ultra compact Samsung, and a Fuji fixed lens SLR. 

Needless to say, once a camera geek, always a camera geek.  I actually know what all of this means, and how most of it works.  I made a living doing commercial photography for a year or so one time.  

Back in the 1970's the cheapest place to buy camera equipment was New York city, and if you were not in the city, you could order from the big dealers there.  The back 1/3rd of Popular Photography and Modern Photography magazines were packed with advertising from the big discount camera dealers.  I would check the mail every day waiting the for the latest issues to arrive and then spent hours searching the ads for what I wanted to own next.  And I discovered that if I had the number and expiration date for my father's credit card, I could call the toll free number, order stuff and have it delivered to the farm.  I'd slip my mother the cash and she would pay the bill when it came in.  I don't think my father figured out that I was doing this for a couple of year (and I was spending a thousand dollars a year on cameras and lenses.)  

So when we were in New York recently and I looked down the block and saw B&H, I had to stop.  I had spent many hours drooling over their ads, and had ordered from them several times (the first time they sent me the wrong lens a 35mm instead of 135mm.)  I had to go in, it is photo geek heaven. 

The equipment has changed from the days of fine German and Japanese brass and glass, but the place is absolutely amazing.  If I ever win the lottery, I could drop a couple-hundred-grand in there in an hour.  Who knew that the new top of the line Hasselblad was over $45,000 - then you need to add lenses. 

So what is your geek trigger?  

Sunday, August 14, 2016

So How Are You?

My Sunday Five Questions for this week are about how are you?

1: When you ask how am I doing, do you want to hear only the positive, or the full answer?
2: So, how are you doing?
3: What is your greatest health fear?
4: How do you really feel about getting older?
5: Do you always tell the full story about how you are doing?

My Answers:

1: When you ask how am I doing, do you want to hear only the positive, or the full answer?

I want to hear what you are comfortable talking about.  We all need someone to listen to the full story, but we don't always want to share it.  When you start to tell the full answer, I will always try hard to listen. I want to hear as much as you want to tell.

2: So, how are you doing?

The question is often asked, so are you back to normal?  The real answer is, I am about as good as I am going to get, this is the new normal.  I will never have the body I had before.  I am okay with that, my recovery far exceeded expectations, but, there is permanent nerve damage.  When I move or sit there is pinching and pressure along my spine,  I feel my ribs in ways that are not normal, and always will.  Most nights I wake a couple of times and have to reposition to get comfortable.  For at least a few minutes everyday it hurts when I breath.  That is my new normal, I can live with it.  I am so fortunate, I was very close to losing movement in my legs permanently.  I manage without pain pills, because I choose to, I don't like the feelings of the pills.  It would help if I would lose more weight.  I will get back to working on that.

3: What is your greatest health fear?

Living too long.  I am looking for life in my years, not years in the life.  Seriously, I worry that the fix on my spine will cause expanding complications over time. Every new pain, or change in sensation makes me question how long the fix will last.

4: How do you really feel about getting older?

I rather like it, I am maturing, ripening like an apple in the October sun.  I know that aging brings with it changes.  I am determined to age with dignity and not fight or fake being anything other than an adult who has experienced a lot of adventure.

5: Do you always tell the full story about how you are doing?

No, I am usually polite, and say great, or "I am Feeling Much Better Now."

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Green Acres

So today, Jay heads back to Hooterville to teach for the semester.  Both of us feel the same way about our little slice of Green Acres, we went there for the opportunity it offered, and for that we are grateful, but to quote Lisa, "New York is Where I'd Rather Stay!"  

So this past week we did a little get away, to one of the great American Cities.  
Kind of stumbled across this looking for a subway station 

Went up by train 

Times Square 

Seldom seen, but still traveling after all these years. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

I Love to Fly!

Fast planes, slow planes, big planes, small planes, with and without wings, I love to fly.  I continue to be amazed by mechanical controlled flight.  I grew up around little airplanes, in and out of tiny airports in Michigan and Florida.  I was probably flying before I was born.  

I am fascinated by aircraft of all kinds.  One of the finest collections of flying machines is at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport, near Washington, DC. It is a little hard to get to, but it holds an amazing collection.  

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Venetian Police Station

The last day we were in Venice we took the water bus back to the train station.  We ended up on the long route, but we were not in a hurry.  We went out across the lagoon, through the cruise terminal and back into the city, going past the city police station.  I wonder if there are other cities that use police boats instead of police cars?  I have often suggested that the DC Metro Transit Police get rid of most of their cars and put the officers in the stations and on the trains.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Head in the Clouds

I try not to walk around with my head in the clouds.  I need to stay grounded to keep all of the cats moving forward.  But I have started to move all of my music and pictures to the cloud.  I get cloud drive space from three or four different sources - a benefit of services I am already paying for.  I have resisted moving to the cloud, and will, at least for the time being keep a copy of everything here at home. The advantages of moving to cloud storage, is having everything in one place, all 39,000 digital photographs, all 3,000 songs, all in one place, and accessible from anyplace.  I didn't realize how much content I had, about 100-gigabytes - and that does not include the 3,500 word documents - they are not going skyward. This also creates an offsite back-up, I have redundant drives at home, but if home were wiped out, that redundancy would just be a redundancy of loss.  My phone backs up to the cloud anytime I have a WiFi connection, my digital camera can be set to do the same. I had a memory card go bad in a phone one time, just after returning from two weeks in Europe, I lost pictures that can not be replaced.  Having online back ups while traveling would have prevented that.  

So I will let you know how this works. It is taking a lot longer to upload than I thought it would, I about 50 hours into the upload and still have about 20-gigs left to move.  It is a brave new world.  Technology has come so far in the past 20 years. 
Are you storing in the cloud?    

Tuesday, August 09, 2016


Habits, we all have them.  Some are healthy, others are not.  They are a part of who we are, a part we can change, but change is not always easy.  The picture is my brother-in-law Pete.  He is a really nice guy, even if he is likely to vote for tRump.  And yes he smokes.  It is his habit, it is something he does.  It does not make him more or less of a person, it is just something he does.  

I chose not to smoke.  I have to admit, I like the smell, I even like the taste.  But smoking is dirty and expensive.  I have always been a little stingy and I think the money part was an important factor in my choice.  That and my car and my space is dirty enough without ash and debri.  The closest I get is second hand smoke, and for the most part I don't let it bother me, at times I even enjoy it.  My father quit smoking about 4 years before I was born.  A few years ago, my oldest brother quit.  At Thanksgiving that year my brother remarked that he still found the smell attractive, my normally quiet father spoke up and said, "hell it had been over 50 years and cigarettes still smell good" to him.  A very difficult habit to break.  

Oh and smoking is not healthy, well I do lots of things that are not healthy.  My choices are my choices.  I choose my vices, Pete chooses his.  

Monday, August 08, 2016

Crossing the Pond

I have crossed the pond, the Atlantic 10 times.  It is a rather long trip. The first time was probably the worst, the flight from Orlando to London was scheduled to leave at about 9:00 at night, the plane was late arriving, then it needed to have a hydraulic pump replaced.  We left at about 2:00 AM.  Then I tried to sleep on the packed 747.  It was a very uncomfortable flight. Over the years I have learned how to make the flight more comfortable.   

Most flights from the USA to Europe, are overnights. Unless you are unusually talented at sleeping sitting up on a crowded plane, the overnight flight going over is the worst part of the experience. In ten trips, I have had one that I slept more than 3-4 hours on. Some tips: Leaving earlier in the evening is better than late.  If you have a choice of a 6:00 PM departure or a 9:00 PM departure, take the earlier one. If you leave the east coast of the USA at 6:00 PM, and you have a 7 hour flight you get into London at 1:00 AM east coast time (6:00 AM local time in London with the time change.) If you take the 9:00 PM flight, you arrive in Europe at 4:00 AM east coast time. I can stay up until 1:00 AM a lot easier than 4:00 AM.  Don't plan on sleeping on the plane.  Take a book or kindle, your favorite music, play the electronic games.  Take a pillow or two and grab one of the airline pillows and blankets.  Nest in and get comfortable. I wear ear plugs when I am not listening to music or watching the inflight movies.  If you drift off to sleep great, if not, treat the flight lake a late night out, when you get to your destination check into a hotel and take a 2-3 hour nap.  When you make reservations for the first night, insist on an early (ie: morning check in time.)  Even if you have to pay extra, it is worth it. 

Now from the upper east coast of the USA, you can get day flight to London, or Paris. These go out of Washington DC, New York or Boston.  From DC to London, is a 7 hour flight with a five hour time change, so you leave at 9:00 AM and get into London at 9:00 PM the same day.  If you can do one of these, it is just like a long day at the office.  I have only made that work once.  It was bliss.   

The trip from europe to the USA is always easier for me, because they are all day flights.  It is a long flight - but really no worse than a 10 hour day in the office.  Ideally take at least one extra day off after you get home to recover from the trip.  

It is possible to cross the Atlantic by water.  Cunard has weekly transAtlantic service, sometimes the one-way fares for an inside cabin are under $1,000.  Another option for a one way, is a repositioning cruise, the cruise lines move ships from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean or Scandinavia in the late spring.  I have seen 7 night cruises from the east coast to Europe for $700 per person.  If you have the time, this has to be a wonderful way to cross the Pond.  Much more comfortable than what my grandmother did in 1912.   

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Five Questions About Being Bold and Going Places

This weeks theme is five questions about being bold and going places.  Give us more than simple yes, no answers, details, we want to hear the details.

1: Have you ever crashed a party?
2: Have you ever been backstage?
3: Have you ever crossed an international border, by accident?
4: Have you ever been turned away at the door of a restaurant because you were not "properly dressed?"
5: Have you ever out-pouted a French  maître d'hôtel ?

1: Crashed a party?  Shortly after I finished law school I went to an annual lecture held by the school at the Brown Hotel in downtown Louisville. Justice Scalia was the speaker that year.  I bumped into one of my former professors in lobby and we talked for a minute.  He said we are headed into the Brandies Society Reception, a private reception with the guest speaker for big dollar donors to the school, people who had donated $10,000 or more in the last year.  I said, oh, I don't have an invitation to that.  He said, just follow me and act like you belong there, no one will say anything.  He was right, very good champagne, and Scalia was rather funny.

2: Been backstage?  Does being in the tunnels under "Main Street USA" at Walt Disney World count?  I can't say how I gained entry, the person responsible still works for Disney and I think it is a firing offense. We went all the way from the employees entrance in the back lot to the fire station across from the train station. Even rode on one of the electric carts along the way.  We only had to hide behind a door a couple of times.

3: Crossed  an international border by accident?  Yep, I missed a turn when we were in Germany and ended up in France, for two minutes.

4: Been turned away by a restaurant based on what you were wearing?  Only once.  I was in Paris in January 1991 - just after the start of the first Gulf War.  It was a Friday, I was wearing jeans, a navy blue wool sweater (I still own it and wear it), a leather jacket, and hiking boots.  We were meeting an acquaintance for lunch.  Part of my dream of Paris was lunch at Maxim's.  The taxi pulled up out front, I opened the door to the taxi, and the doorman closed it.  I opened it again and he said, nooo! I stepped out and he proceeded to tell me, in his best snooty french style, that I couldn't enter the restaurant because I was not properly dressed.  I proceeded to tell him in my best arrogant American style, I would spend my money elsewhere.  And I did, we went around the corner, down a narrow street, and into a tiny restaurant and had one of the nicest and most expensive lunches I have ever had.

5: Out pouted?  Now I have to start by saying the French people are generally not snooty, or rude, they are welcoming, warm and inviting (at least by DC standards.)  But they do have their moments. About a dozen years ago, I got a wild hair, and we went to Paris for Christmas.  I was pissed at something my mother had said, and decided we would go do what I wanted to do one year without family.  So on Christmas Day, we were visiting the Eiffel Tower.  There is a restaurant on the first level, at the time it was called Altitude 95, being 95 meters above sea level (it is actually 57 or 58 meters above the ground and has changed names.)   I decided to see if we could get in for mid-day dinner.  The Maitre'd asked if we had reservations, and we didn't.  He stood there and silently pouted, and I stood there and silently pouted back - for about five minutes. He didn't tell me no, he was expecting me to turn tail and leave.  I didn't.  I could see they had open tables.  Finally one of the young ladies who was showing people to tables looked at me and said, deux? I replied "weee" and we were seated with a spectacular view. It was a wonderful adventure!

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Bah Bah!

When I win the lottery, I will buy a farm someplace close by, hire a farm-boy - or two or three (I am not doing manual labor, but I will supervise and watch) and keep a nice flock of sheep.  I want to call it Black-Sheep Farm, and have a nice large flock of black sheep.  I'd like a huge garden, flowers, vegetables, fruit.A nice place to escape to for a day or two when I have had enough of the city.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Looking at the World

The older I get, and boy am I getting old, the more I come to understand that happiness is found in how I look at the world.

I see a world filled with diverse people.  Many of them have figured out how to do something better than I have, if I can find and learn that, my life is better.  

I hear a world of diverse sounds.  The rhythm  and beat of music, traffic and daily life differs as I explore this great adventure of life. I am loving online streaming music, I can mix something old and something new every day, hearing the world in new ways.  

I see differences in light, color, art, architecture and landscape. When a travel I take pictures, lots and lots of pictures.  When I look back through the archive of images, I see the awe and wonder of the adventure of the world, I catch a glimpse into the lives of the people of the world.   

My perception of the world is colored by my experiences.  My perception is my reality.  The deeper and more diverse my adventure, the more I see the good and happiness in the world.  


Thursday, August 04, 2016

A top 10-World Must See

The Grand Canyon is on most every must see list of world attractions.  I have been there four times, twice as a child - one of my earliest vivid childhood memories, and twice as an adult.  It is an amazing whole in the ground.  The depths, the shapes, the colors.

Have you been there?

Olympian Challenge

How about a picture of an ancient Greek temple to start off a discussion of the massive challenge of hosting the modern Olympic games?

The opening of the Rio Olympics will be Friday of this week, hopefully plumbing works and most of the paint is dry.  Building the venue, the facilities for the Olympic games is a HUUGE project, with multiple and specialized arenas and stadiums, housing for thousands of participants, hotels for hundreds of thousands of of spectators, transportation infrastructure, security, food service, health care.  Maybe they should put the Donald in charge, he claims to be the best at HUUGE projects.

Moving the games around the world sounds like a wonderful idea, but the reality is that the only places that have most of the needed facilities in place, are places that have recently hosted the games.  Every host city struggles to build and pay for the specialized facilities, let's be honest there is not that much call for a "Velodrome," no city can afford to have housing for 10,000 participants set empty between games - every city builds the athletes village with a plan to convert it to housing for locals as soon as the games are over.  Even with the best of planning, host cities are left with specialized facilities and the astronomical cost of developing them.  It is likely impossible to recover the costs of non-reuseable facilities from revenue from the games.

Is it time, to move to a permanent host site.  I would suggest one of the recent host cities.  Beijing has air quality issues, London might be an option, my suggestion would be Athens.  The weather is wonderful, the people are welcoming and have a long history of catering to tourists, the venues are there.  Over a couple of cycles, the city could finish building out public transit and add some new hotels.  Every four years, the city would add a few thousand new housing units.  Greece is the historic home of the games.  I'd go. And we could send the Donald over there permanently to be in charge of this HUUGE project.  Double score!

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Political Posting

I don't get it, I know five people who are planning to vote for Donald Trump, one is retired and the other four are unemployed and three of them do not have health insurance.  All of them are benefiting more from government programs and services than they are contributing.  All of them would be worse off with smaller government - none would benefit from lower taxes - because none of them earn enough money to owe any taxes.

All of them rant about the evils of Obama care.  The bottom line is they are disappointed that health care reform didn't result in them having health insurance coverage.  They want to repeal the affordable care act - doing so won't result in them gaining health insurance coverage.  What they really wanted, was free health coverage, universal health care, a national health care program.  Two of the three have significant health issues, they really need coverage. If they have a life threatening illness - they get treated and billed for care, bills they will likely never pay .  If an illness is not life threatening, they only get the care they can pay for out of pocket.

One is constantly being told by her doctor that if she will pay for $5,000 in tests, he can likely treat her more effectively, her illness is not life threatening, and she can't pay, so she gets narcotics instead of diagnosis and treatment.  Her lack of insurance is resulting in bad-medical care for a chronic and painful condition that no one is really sure of the cause of.  She is so fucked up from the pain pills that she can't hold a job long enough to get insurance and a proper diagnosis.  And she is one of the most vocal in her opposition to evils of Obama care, and Hilary.  Maybe the drugs have clouded her mind so much that she can't realize that she is voting against her own best interest.  All of them need to look at, and think about the hate and bigotry they intend to vote in favor of.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Like a Panda

Panda's continue to be a huge draw around the world.  People flock to zoos to see them in the fur. If you want your zoo to be a success, rent a Panda. So what is it about Pandas that people find so loveable?  How can we be more like a Panda?

  • They are slow 
  • They are cute and cuddly 
  • They are fuzzy
  • They are entertaining 
  • They are unusual and exotic  
  • They ignore people
  • They are not obsessed with sex 
  • The eat to live and live to eat 
Maybe I am part Panda? 

Monday, August 01, 2016


Have you noticed the grin on Bill Clinton's face, he must be thinking how wonderful it will be to oversee the White House Interns program when Hillary is elected.  One of the things I get to do at my office is recruit our college interns and externs.  Most of our students are second or third year law students (in the USA, law is a three year graduate degree.)  They are generally very bright, but once in awhile one or in the case of this summer two of them really stand out and give me great hope and optimism for the future.

This summer's students just finished.  T is a law student from the middle of the country, actually she is doing a joint JD/MSW program.  She was one of the brightest students I have worked with.  Her research skills are top notch, she is fast and efficient, she asks the right questions, and was fun to be around.  I am sure her dream of being a social entrepreneur - making a difference in the lives of older adults will be a reality.  She can do anything she puts her mind to.  P is a law student from the middle Atlantic, attending a prestigious law school at a major University in  the middle of no-where north of here.  When he was starting High School, he was only interested in sports and girls, his parents found a really good private boarding school - sacrificed to pay for it and changed his life. He is a great student and a real gentlemen.  He is interested in career in public service and politics.  I asked him to invite me to the Convention when he runs for President - a good reason for me to want to live for another 25 years so I can be there and vote for him.  He'd be good, really very good, nobody can do good like he can, trust him, you'll see (sorry I have heard too much (t)Rump.) Maybe he will invite me to run the White House interns program someday.

Seriously, if these two are any representative of the graduate students who are working through the system, our future is in good hands.