Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The view from my hotel room

There is a largish mountain on the horizon.  Portland is interesting.  Lots of very unique individuals.  Birds of a feather and all that. 

Almost Full Flight

Almost a six hour flight, and almost every seat on the plane was full.  Everyone wanted to go to Portland tonight.  Almost every seat was full, except for the middle seat in the row I was in.  I should go buy a lottery ticket today.  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Flying Penguins

The first of several airports this month.  I speaking in Portland Oregon Wednesday and Thursday. 

There are a couple of post everyday in May challenges.  I may try.  It has been years since I have done 30 posts in 30 days. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

I have seen a Saint

A dozen years ago, J and I spent a week in Rome.  We were there on a Sunday morning, and the Pope was in town, so we walked around the corner from our hotel to St Peters Square and attended Pope John Paul II’s appearance and blessing of the crowd.  It was great of fun, He was very frail and they sort of propped him up in the window and held the microphone for him.  I took a couple of pictures, one of which is framed in my bedroom. While there we took the tour of St Peters, including climbing to the top of the dome.  By some miracle J survived the climb to the top.  On the way back down, we passed through a gift shop on the roof of St Peter’s run by nuns, and I bought a Pope John Paul II bottle opener. I thought it was delightfully tacky. I still have it, never used, in the original packaging.  I’m not Catholic, so I have two questions.  Now that he is a Saint, is the bottle opener a holy relic?  Now that he is a Saint, is it worth anything?  The memory is priceless, and how many people can say they saw a Saint speak one Sunday (actually several million, he was a prolific traveler as Pope.)  

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Town Branch Bourbon

Local brew from Lexington, Kentucky, this one is unlikely to be on anyone’s try to find list.  The is made by Alltech’s Lexington Distilling Company.  Alltech started out as a micro brewery and has expanded into distilling with the growth of craft distilling and the Bourbon Trail.  It is a very good quality blend.  It is smooth and mild. Most of the stream that town branch is named after was buried underground 75 years ago and flows under a street in downtown Lexington. There have been discussions of uncovering at least part of it in recent years. While distribution is growing, this one is hard to find outside of Kentucky.  It is moderately priced and well worth the try when you find it.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Angels Envy

This is an incredibly smooth bourbon.  Distilled in Kentucky by Lincoln Henderson at Louisville Spirits Group in Bardstown, Angels Envy is aged like all bourbon in charred new oak barrels, and then finished with a further six months in Port Wine casts.  The second aging, or double-barrelling adds a smoothness and light sweetness to this extraordinary bourbon.  Drink it straight. Limited production, labeled by batch number and bottle number.   

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Moving Around

One of the things that attracted me to DC area was access to great transit.  I have options.  I can drive to the office, it is about 10 miles each way, in what can be terrible traffic, I seldom drive. How seldom, 3-4 times in 5 1/2 years.  I ride metro rail, the subway most of the time.  It is about a 12 minutes walk from my condo to the station, tag into the system and sit back and relax.  Metro has it's moments when it does not work, but it works well 95% of the time.  There are buses that run from the station, or the main road on the other side of the condo complex (US-1.)  I seldom use the buses, I have never commuted to work by bus, but I could.  A mile an a half from home, I can take a passenger train into the city.  Amtrak, or Virginia Railway Express both stop at King Street in Alexandria.  VRE stops at a station in the south side of DC, I can take Bike-Share from there. About 100 days last year, I rode my bike to the office.  I have rode a few times this spring, and look forward to more stable weather so I can get back into riding 2-3 days a week. The DC area has a great bike sharing system know as Capital Bikeshare.  I use bikeshare for local trips in town. The river is an underutilized transit option. There is a river taxi from Old Town Alexandria to National Harbor, just across the river in Maryland.  In the summer there has long been a river taxi from Old Town Alexandria to Georgetown. Starting this spring there is river taxi service to West Potomac Park, near the FDR memorial and the bookends.  I need to try this route, it would connect me to bikeshare, back to a metro station and home. I have my hair cut more often then I need to fill my car with gas.   

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Stuff

Bourbon made in New York? 
Yes, and it is quite good.  It has a nice full flavor, is nicely smooth, slightly sweet.  It is a bit expensive, but aren't you worth it?  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stressful Week

It has been a stressful week, it feels like I have been juggling chainsaws.  
A few observations:  
  • It does no good to try to hold someone accountable for things that they have no control over. 
  • When all else fails, threaten. 
  • I shouldn't respond to emails late in the day when I am tired and grumpy, I SHOUT WHEN I DO. 
  • To the lady trying to reason with the six year old, it doesn't work.
  • When you say, "in all honesty" it makes wonder if everything else you have said is a lie. 
  • Work expands to fill the time available. 
  • I need a vacation.  Soon! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lycra Bike Short Season

Spring bike riding season is here, well at least until it is 31 degrees tomorrow night.  I have ridden about 60 miles since Friday afternoon.  A great opportunity to see my fellow riders emerging from a long cold winter - many a little pudgy from the long cold winter.  Lycra bike shorts are the best invention for comfort on a bike.  A missive to my fellow bike riders, to be effective bike short must be worn like a kilt, with nothing under them.  Wearing cotton underwear under lycra bike shorts is a sure fire way to be assure that you will be sore in places you don’t want to be sore.  Lycra bike shorts have flat seams, padding that wicks away moisture and provides scientifically designed resilience where you need it the most.  Adding a layer of tighty-whities or cotton boxer briefs creates an irritation layer between you and the comfort you paid for. Get over the fact that someone might figure out your gender while wearing lycra shorts, the facial hair and tattoos are usually a give away. So far as the ick factor of wearing bike shorts commando, own more than one pair and do your laundry.    

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cherry Blossom Season

The cherry Blossoms are late this year, the bloom is at the peak this weekend.  Nice bike ride around the festival this morning. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

12 on 12

This is my third 12 on 12. I picked up the idea from Eric at . Sort of a day in the life, 12 pictures on the 12th of the month. 
This is the first time for me that the 12th, has fallen on a weekend.  No subway pictures this month.

Out to run my Saturday errands. 

Grocery shopping was first on the list, Fresh Market opened near me recently. I like the store, they have a smaller selection, with a focus on quality. 

I have started baking bread almost every weekend. It takes a while, but I enjoy it and I can control what is in it. 

Pretty spring day, with pretty spring things. 

Out for a bike ride along the river.

Low tide on the river

Spring is in bloom

A spring plant sale, if I had a back yard, or front yard, or sunny terrace.

Restocking complete

A new phone battery, my battery life has nosedived this past couple of weeks.

No rubbish, a bottle of the good stuff

Bottled nearby, too bad it is not made nearby

Monday, April 07, 2014

Telemarketer Hell

Shortly after I arrived home today, the phone rang.  I punched the speaker phone button on my desk.  “This is the credit card service center calling to remind you of the final opportunity to lower the interest rate on your outstanding credit card balance, please consider this your final notice.” Oh yea, really, I don’t have any credit card balances.  I pressed one to speak to a representative.  First I was caller 19, then 13, then 9 and then a woman picked up and demanded “is your outstanding credit card balance $2,000 or more?”  I responded, “what bank of mine do you represent?” She shot back, “do you owe $2,000 or more on your credit cards.”  I responded, I am going to ask the questions, which credit card issuer of MINE to you represent, if you can’t answer that question you are in violation of the Federal Do Not Call law, my friends at the FTC would love to fine you. Silence, then a dial tone. I hope I ruined her day, I just hope she doesn’t recognize my voice the next time her call center is tracking one of my lost bags for an airline.

I have mentioned my mother before. She has been largely immobile for the past year. She has difficulty remembering details, confuses things frequently, is delusional and still likes answering the phone.  I was visiting last spring and the phone rang and she answered.  I am listening to one end of the conversation, but it was obvious it was someone calling offering to to refinance the house.
Her side of the call:
  • We don’t have a mortgage, you are 30 years too late
  • Well, a million dollars would come in handy - I could pay off the kids houses and grand kids student loans
  • It is worth a couple-hundred thousand
  • No that wouldn't be worth it, if you can’t get me a million I’m not interested
  • Hey it was your idea, you called me, I didn't call you.
Yes, she barely knows who she is, she can’t tell you what she did yesterday and has delightful delusions, but she still knows how to ruin the day of a telemarketer.    

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Who knows what

When we blog, we put our thoughts and pictures out for the world to see.  And someone looks, people you know and people you don't.  Take a look at the stats for your bog, how many people do you know in Russia or China?  No big surprise, someone there is looking at every word and every picture, but who?  Undoubtedly some of it is governments. Following the news, it becomes clear that our government tracks everything that it public and more, why shouldn't we think that others are doing the same.  When I turn on my GPS enabled phone, my phone company knows within 50 feet or so, where my phone is on the face of the earth.  I like doing searches and getting results for Starbucks, directing me to the nearest store and not store one in Seattle (unless I happen to be in the Pikes Place Market.)  Who else knows where my phone is? Anyone who can figure out how to access the phone data, and I don't expect that it is as protected as my tax data.  Even if you turn the GPS off on your phone, the phone company at a minimum knows what tower(s) you are closest to, that is how cell phone work.  I like apps on my phone and I know that some apps capture things like location and transmit them to the app creator.  I know that my office keeps copies off all of my work emails for 5 years, even the one that says, "I am running late, LOVE YOU!" The warning on my office computer each morning, says that someone may be monitoring what I look at on my office computer. Once in five years, I have heard of someone being fired for improper use of the office network.  For my personal email I use Gmail, Google acknowledges that they use scanning software to target advertising based on content transmitted through their system.  Hey I get a lot of service from them, they have to pay for it somehow, and they pay for it by watching what I do and targeting advertising based on it.  I'd sooner see advertising for cruises, then family vacations, so scan and target.  It has come out that NSA has the capacity to record and store 30 days of phone conversations in some countries,  no big surprise.  How many of us knew that the NSA existed until they hit the news. The joke is that NSA stands for No Such Agency.  Few people admit to working there.  And there are even more obscure agencies, one that has 200 workers who show up each day at a 2,000 square foot warehouse supposedly filled with used office furniture.  Who is listening, governments and business, what are they watching and listening to, everything they can get their eyes or ears on. 

Friday, April 04, 2014


There has been a lot of discussion of selfies recently.  My phone has a reversible camera, makes it easy. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The Easiest Part of the Day

The trip to the Dentist was the easiest part of the day.  Scrape and polish went well and nothing major needs to be done.  The last of the old amalgam fillings is still solid as a rock, the only thing that could be done does not need to be done.  And the obligatory offer to "fix my bite."  I am able to bite anything I try and orthodontia is not my idea of fun. How old do I have to be before they quit offering?  Next time I think I will say, stick you finger in my mouth, when she does I will bite her and ask if there is anything wrong.  

The Dentist pointed out a genetic anomaly, my teeth calcify between a repair the the nerve gets smaller. He said only a small fraction of the population do this.  

I am chairing a national conference.  We just finished the review of workshop proposals, I created the schedule and emailed all of the lucky speakers.  Three sessions need to be moved to different time slots. Not bad for the volume of proposals and sessions that I have handled.  If one person will cooperate, I will get the time slots swaps done tomorrow.  I am in software training all day Thursday, there is about an hour of it that applies to what I do, the other 7 hours will teach me more then I ever needed or wanted to know (kind of like asking me a question.)  The office is replacing an early 90's database program with something a little more modern.  It should make my life a little easier.  

I have three major projects going on, and a couple of new ones due any minute,  May will be fun, 11,000 air miles and 11 nights in hotels.