Monday, November 20, 2017

Recent Travels in a few phone pictures

I started with an insanely short trip from DC to Orlando and back, less than 18 hours on the goround in Florida. I made it back from Orlando for an important staff meeting the next morning. 

The next evening I went to Detroit for a memorial service on Saturday afternoon. 
I had never seen the Renascence Center from the ground, it was built after I left Michigan.  Impressive, in fact lower Woodward Avenue is very alive and very nice.  

The following morning at 7:25 AM I was on my way to Arizona (in First Class.) 
Downtown Old Scottsdale Arizona, lots of fun overpriced shops. 

I had dinner with Dr Spo and Someone in Scottsdale, it was great fun. When you are passing through Phoenix you should buy Spo dinner.  

Dinner was in a nice neighborhood, I passed this on the way back to my rented Nissan.  
I got away for a day in the dessert and mountains.  I love the landscape.  

The last night in Scottsdale I had a delightful dinner at a place that has the finest selection of high quality bourbons, outside of my house.  

From Phoenix I went onto a conference in Newport Beach California.  The local garden club or something like that was having a luncheon at the hotel - that is two Bentleys, two Range Rovers and a Fisker Revero - an all electric car (the base price is something like $130,000.)  Nice neighborhood.
Lastly, I changed planes in Chicago on my way home, one of the most iconic works of airport architecture in the United States.

What is the most back-to-back traveling you have done? 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Five: Potent Potables

1: Beer or Wine? 
2: Bourbon or Scotch? 
3: Coffee or Tea? 
4: Ice or no-Ice? 
5: Vodka or Water? 

My Answers: 
1: Beer or Wine? - Usually wine - red
2: Bourbon or Scotch? Bourbon - if it is the good stuff 
3: Coffee or Tea? Coffee - cold 
4: Ice or no-Ice? Ice
5: Vodka or Water? Water 

Your answers? 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ghost Town

Following up on yesterdays posting about my grandparent's graves, they are buried in the Cemetery at North Star Michigan.  I had never been there.  How best to describe it, it is a ghost town.  The hardware store is closed, the bar is closed.  You know a town is dead, when the bar closes.  

How far out of the way do you have roots? 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Being Remembered

I have read that 100 years after we dead, no one will remember the vast majority of us.  We fade out of existence and memory.

My mother's parents were concerned about being remembered.  The first plan was that they would be in the family plot down the street from the house I grew up in.  The lots were there, the stone was set, and they got to worrying that none of their family was around, so they bought lots in a cemetery near where they had grown up and moved the stone.  My grandfather died 1976, my grandmother in 1991.  Being in an isolated location, I didn't attend either burial.  In fact I had never been to the cemetery until last month.  It was a couple of hours drive from where I grew up.  The cemetery was larger than I expected, I was surprised at how fast we found the graves.  

I was surprised at the lichen growth, a sign that they are fading into being forgotten.  There may be family around, but most of them are decomposing, not visiting.  

I am glad I made the pilgrimage to see their graves,  I doubt that I will travel that road again.  

How long after you are gone, will you be forgotten? 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Times Square at Night

There are a handful of places that need to be seen at night to get the total experience, the Las Vegas Strip, the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo (not been there yet) Piccadilly Circus, - Times Square in New York. 

Where do I need to go at night next? 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


If I knew then, what I know now, what would I have done differently? 

  • I would have spent less time worrying about making others happy - happiness is an inside deal. 
  • I would have been faster to forgive others - forgiving others frees me from the burden of feeling bad about others actions. 
  • I would have been faster to accept myself - I spent to many years hiding and suppressing parts of my being - it takes so much effort.
  • I would have been faster to move outside of my comfort zone - to take risks - without risk there is less reward. 
  • I would have loosened up those laces - some say I am still wound a little too tightly.  
What would you have done then, if you had known then what you know now? 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Spider on the 22nd floor

How does a spider end up on the outside of the window on the 22nd floor?  I wouldn't want to be on the outside of that window at that height, and there he / she was.  One lucky spider, if she/he had been on the inside I would have smashed it.  Being on the outside all it had to worry about was falling.  I wonder if spiders worry? 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Should it be in Color?

In the ancient world, sculptures were frequently painted in brilliant colors.  This church in Munich was all in white inside - should it be painted in brilliant colors? 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Five -

How do you travel

1:  Getting to the airport - drive - taxi - public transit? 
2:  Booking a hotel - online - by phone - use an agent? 
3:  Booking a rental car - consolidator (Orbitz) - rental car company website - by phone? 
4:  Do you check a bag -almost always - almost never? 
5:  Food on the plane or train - buy it - skip it - carry it on with you? 

My answers:
1:  Getting to the airport - drive - taxi - public transit? - almost always public transit from home. 
2:  Booking a hotel - online - by phone - use an agent? Online 90% of the time. 
3:  Booking a rental car - consolidator (Orbitz) - rental car company website - by phone? Consolidator 
4:  Do you check a bag -almost always - almost never? Almost always. 

5:  Food on the plane or train - buy it - skip it - carry it on with you? Skip it or buy it.  

Your answers? 

Saturday, November 11, 2017


I enjoyed Venice, I am glad we went, I would go back, I wouldn't want to live there.  That being said, Venice is crowded, dirty, and expensive.  At the same time Venice is unique, charming, elegant, a real one of a kind experience.  

We stayed in Padua, why Padua?  Hotels were a fraction of the price of Venice, it was cleaner, less crowded and only about a 20 minute train ride from Venice.  The trains run every 15-20 minutes, and are relatively inexpensive.  Padua itself is a neat city - worth taking time to look around.  

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

Today is the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  

Having spent a good part of the first third of my life in Michigan, this song has always struck a cord with me. I remember the thrill as a child of seeing a big lake freighter on our rare visits to see Lake Huron.  I have experienced a few great lakes storms - nothing to be taken lightly.  My father bought a large part of the keeping farm, from a freighter captain - beekeeping and lake shipping peak in the same seasons, and shipping paid better. 

I would have been in Florida by November 10th 1975. This song is a part of the soundtrack of my life.  

What song is in the sound track of your life? 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Still There

About a month ago I wrote about a boat on the side of US-1 in Florida, guess what, it is still there.  It is somewhat on a trailer, I fear the boat may have major structural damage and may not be movable.  The solution might be, well remember the scene in Animal House after the horse died in Dean Wormers' office?     


Last Sunday terror was unleashed in a small country church in Texas.  There is so much that can be said: 

Trump says this was a massive failure of mental health, it was.  The gunman had been treated - and escaped.  He had threatened to hurt others in the past and treated in a mental hospital and walked away, and as a society we didn't assure that he received help.  He was angry and violent.  We knew this, and as a society we failed to assure that he received help that might have helped.  

The gunman had been convicted of domestic violence and battery.  Convictions that should have resulted in him being unable to purchase guns through a licensed gun dealer.  The military failed to forward information about his conviction to the database. Someone failed to do their job. 

The failure is not surprising.  We still don't consider domestic violence as a serious crime.  In this case, escalating domestic violence is likely what led to this tragedy.  The gunman's estranged wife and mother in law frequently attended the church he attacked.  Domestic violence is a serious crime.    

Trump said, extreme vetting of gun buyers wouldn't have prevented this tragedy.  Arguably, he is right, the gunman could have bought guns from a private seller, or used guns owned by a family member or friend, but simply complying with the laws that exist, would have prevented the gunman from buying the guns through retailers, as he did. It would have made it harder, maybe hard enough for him to not do what he did. 

Society failed, we knew this person was angry and violent, we didn't assure that he received help, we didn't following existing laws that would have made it more difficult for him to buy guns.  As a result, 26 people are dead, another 20 are injured. The survivors will never be the same, the community will never be the same, the country will never be the same.  

It is well past time that as a society we accept that some people should not have access to guns.  We need to help persons in need of mental health treatment, get access to it.   

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Wisdom from the Ages

Back in the 80's my parents bought a Commodore 64 home computer, followed by an early IBM Windows machine, then more modern computers.  They mostly played solitaire, but they did do some things online.  Eventually my father checked his accounts and traded stocks online.  My mother was the one that did email.  I remember my last email from her 5 or 6 years ago, it read, "Your father said I should send you an email. Love Mom."  

As her dementia progressed, mom would sit for hours tearing paper into tiny pieces.  It kept her hands busy and made her happy.  She tore up mail, books, her bible, and her address book.  Not having her address book caused a bit of a panic when we were trying to reach out to family members.  Eventually we found a couple of address books, she kept a second one in the car for when they traveled - it was a treasure trove of contact information.  

Recently I was sorting through a box of paperwork that I shipped to my home when I was cleaning out my parents home.  In it were the three address books we found.  One was mom's email address book.  A physical book, she would print emails out, cut off the address header and tape them in the book.  Apparently the concept of an online email address book didn't quite make her comfortable.  

Near the bottom of one page was a small clipping from a newspaper, it reads: 
               "God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked, 
                The good fortune to run into the ones I do,
                 And the eyesight to tell the difference."  

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Lunch in Lille

On one adventure we took the EuroStar from London to Lille, stayed overnight and picked up a rental car the next day.  I have a few vivid memories of Lille, a pretty Cathedral, getting lost in the wrong parking garage at the train station, being able to ask in French if a shop had something in a larger size, and lunch.  I don't recall what we had for lunch, we sat in a booth at the back of the restaurant and watched the owners dog, mooching up and down the aisle.  It was charming.  Very relaxing and very French.  

What is your favorite non-food memory of lunch? 

Monday, November 06, 2017

Love it or hate it?

I snapped this from an Amtrak train passing through a station on my way someplace.  I like this image, I think it says a lot.  Others hate it, find it dark and depressing.  

Love or or Hate it? 

Sunday, November 05, 2017

19* Random Facts about you

19 random FACTS about yourself that may surprise people.
1. Do you make your bed everyday?  - No 
2. What's your favorite​ number? - 14
3. What is your dream job? - music producer
4. If you could, would you go back to school? Yes
5. Can you parallel park? Yes, well it depends on who you ask. 
6. A job you had which people would be shocked that you had? Credit Analyst 
7. Do you think aliens are real? No
8. Can you drive a stick shift? Yes
9. Guilty pleasure?  Smoked salmon 
10. Tattoos? No
12. Things people do that makes you mad? being mean 
13. Fear? Very little
14. Favorite childhood game? Monopoly  
15. Do you talk to yourself? Yes 
16. Do you like doing puzzles? Yes
17. Favorite music? Jimmy Buffet 
18. Tea or Coffee? Iced Coffee
19. First thing you remember you wanted to be when you grew up? Architect 

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Great Falls

These were taken a couple of years ago at the Great Falls of the Potomac.  Really a set of really nasty rapids, just upstream from Washington DC.  Niagara it isn't, but it is fun to see.  There were people working their way through in kayaks.  

Would you kayak through that?  

Friday, November 03, 2017

Take Me Back There

I clicked something on my desktop computer at home (Windows 10) and when the machine is not used, it starts to randomly play through the picture files on the computer.  There are about 40,000 image files on the computer, and growing, a little over 100-gigabytes - 50 times the size of the hard-drive on my first computer.  As the images scroll by, they take me back to places I have been. 

I took this picture in St-Malo, about 10 years ago.  Seeing it takes me back to the fortified old city, wandering the back streets, smelling the sea.  It was a wonderful day.  

What takes you back? 

Thursday, November 02, 2017

From my Phone Over the past Six Months

A few favorites; somewhat random pictures from my phone over the past six months. 

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

I sure am glad

I sure am glad, that I am not the only one who makes silly typos.  A former boss of mine holds the record for the most embarrassing typo, she sent out a message urging the entire state legislature to "support funding for legal aid for poop people." Spellcheck did't catch "Poop" when it should have been "Poor".

What is the most embarrassing typo you have seen? 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Well That Worked

I don't talk about my work on my blog, if I do, my employer technically owns the blog content  - so I will skip specifics.  I spend about 1/3 of my work life organizing and producing a national conference on aging.  It was last week.  And, well, it seemed to work well.  The agenda stretches over three days and includes 30 workshops, 4 plenary sessions, and a full day in-depth pre-conference.  Attendance was between 250 and 260 people.  Not huge, but enough to work.  

As always there were a few challenges - a couple of elevators broke down, one persons hotel reservations were terribly messed up, but more things went well than went wrong.  The audio visual service was wonderful, the AV technician was the best I have ever worked with.  The food was good, plentiful and on time.  The speakers started and ended on time - for the most part.  At one point I did find myself in the front row, holding up a time-is-up sign, to a Cabinet Secretary - as in one of the people who has the President's cell phone number on speed dial.  He was nice about it and wrapped up within a couple of minutes of his scheduled finish time. 

I have a history with this conference.  About 15 years ago when another organization was planning it, I tried to join the planning committee.  The planner thought that was a good idea, but the planning committee rejected the idea of an outsider joining the planning committee. A few years later I changed jobs, going to work for one of the organizations that rejected change, and ended up with a seat at the table. Seven years ago the organization that hosted the conference for over a decade dropped it.  I orchestrated a deal for another host, a deal that fell apart after 3 years, and I somehow convinced my boss to let me take on the project.  I was given a budget of $0, and told if I could make it pay for itself, I could do it.  I now chair the planning committee that rejected me. And much to my the disdain of several people, I have a big tent policy, if you want to join my planning committee, just ask.  I still have no dedicated funding, but I have turned the conference from a money looser, to one that pays for itself, and pays for a chunk of my time to produce it.  There is no reason why conferences should loose money.  

I heard once that the best revenge is living well, in this case, revenge was making a success of the project, by doing it my way.      

Monday, October 30, 2017

On the Beaten Path

I enjoy getting off the beaten path, seeing things that are not swarmed with tourists.  But, sometimes, the beaten path is worth the crowds.  

What sight is most worth the crowd in your town? 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Your Tips for Living a Better Life - the Sunday Five

I attended a good briefing on dementia and brain health the other day, presented by an international expert and a dear friend.  In the end they offered a few suggestions for preserving cognitive function - inspiration for this weeks Sunday five. 

1: What is your advice for eating healthier? 
2: How often do you go for a nice walk? 
3: How much sleep do you get on an average night?
4: How do you blow off steam and reduce stress? 
5: Do you feel obligated to partake in social engagements with people you don't like? 

My answers: 
1: What is your advice for eating healthier?  All things in moderation, my biggest challenge is not what I eat, but how much. 
2: How often do you go for a nice walk? I make it to the gym 5 or 6 times a week for 30 minutes of movement. 
3: How much sleep do you get on an average night?  About 7.5 hours, after I had my spine rebuilt, I had trouble sleeping through the night, I recently slept for 9.5 hours without chemical assistance or interruption - it was bliss.  
4: How do you blow off steam and reduce stress? Hmm, I am not very good at this, I have been known to pound my head against the wall.  
5: Do you feel obligated to partake in social engagements with people you don't like?  I try to avoid this, sometimes it is business or family, but frequently I'd sooner spend time alone.  Time spent with myself, is time spent with someone I like, someone who understands me.  

Your answers: 

Saturday, October 28, 2017


Last weekend I took a little break and did a little sightseeing on King Street.

Did you take a moment to notice the joys of nature around you this week?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Breaking the Rules

I started laughing when I read this sign in a hotel fitness center.  Now I know I am a rather large guy, (aka a fat man) but I do 30 minutes on an elliptical trainer or treadmill five or six times a week.  My doctor was not as concerned about my weight, as she was happy about my being active.  

Discontinue use at the first signs of stress.  Isn't putting yourself under a little bit of stress an essential of getting enough exercise to do improve? 

Do not use alone - that explains why a lot of gym members never go.  

I have no doubt the lawyers wrote this sign.  

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Front the Airbus

I have very-very rarely ridden up front, business or first class.  At times some airlines offer the option to buy and upgrade at the gate, and I have done that a couple of times, and I think twice I was moved to first class to solve a seating or balance issue for the airline.  I should ride up more often in 2018.  I have flown enough on one airline to earn "Status" in their frequent flyer program.  This brings earlier boarding, and free or low cost first class upgrades on a space available basis.  On my most recent trip, I was moved to first class on the first leg.  And the seat next to me was empty.  

I have to admit I felt a little out of place, unsure how to respond to the polite offers of service and attention.  I think I can get use to it.  

Once you make status, it is easier to keep it, I only need to fly 60% as much next year, as I did this year, to stay in the front of the bus for 2019.  

I do like the larger seats.  

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Dear Santa

Let Me Explain Adult

Dear Santa:
It has been a rough year, I have tried to be nice, I really have. 

Yes, I have told a couple of people that they were screwing up big time, but they were. 

Yes, I played hardball with one of my brothers when he tried to force us to sell him Dad's house out of the estate for  60% of what it was worth - it was hard being rude to him - but he was trying to steal from the other three of us. 

Yes, I have been disrespectful to Donny at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but, I don't know as that one requires an explanation.  Be kind to him, he had no idea what he was getting himself into. 

Yes, I have been grumpy from time to time this year.  Sorry, it has been a stress filled year.  I will try to be better in the future.

Yes, I have had impolite thoughts about Metro Rail, I may even have voiced them.  At times it would be handy to have 8 tiny flying reindeer. 

Yes, I have written 3 letters complaining about poor service, including one to my late father's cable company complaining about them wishing him happiness in his new home after he died. One of the three appears to have made a difference.

Yes, I gave up on the bank that I have been with for 24 years.  I morn the loss of bankers who knew what they were doing, and who admitted when they didn't know something. 

I promise to do better next year, one day at a time, one moment at a time.  Next year has to be better, I am running out of older family members. 


Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Style, long sweeping lines, timeless beauty.  What is being built today, that will look this wonderful 50 years from now?