Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Use the Good Stuff

Dallas, Texas 

I broke one of my Norataki china dinner plates this week. My mother would be aghast if I told her.  It was a freak accident, it was on the counter and I put a pair of spring tongs down next to it, the lock on the tongs slipped, the tongs expanded and knocked the plate off on the floor. It is an old pattern, long out of production I am sure.  It is part of a set I bought at an estate auction about 10 years ago. It is a nice set, including several serving pieces.  My guess is new it cost well over $1,000.  It had been the proud possession of a local retired school teacher, whose kids called in an auction company to dispose of what they didn't want. At the auction I looked in the box, the top three plates had been unwrapped, undoubtedly used for a special occasion - Thanksgiving dinner I imagine - then carefully re-wrapped.  The rest of the set was still in the original factory wrapping, with seals on the paper from the factory or the store that sold it new.  As I recall, I paid less than $30 for the entire set.  

When I set up house in DC, I pulled the good stuff out and said, it is time to use it. The good stuff became the everyday stuff.  Why not use it and enjoy it?  It is pleasant to look at, an example of high quality workmanship, and when I am dead and the auctioneers come in what will it sell for?  Pennies on the dollar of what it originally cost.  

I woke up today, still alive, able to get out of bed on my own. Any day you can do that is a special occasion. You are a special person who should enjoy the best you have to offer. Enjoy it, use the good stuff.  You can't take it with you, we kid my father that he spent years looking for hearse with a luggage rack and they don't exist (they do in some European countries where they pile the flowers on the roof of the hearse to take them to the cemetery -  Mom and Dad went to Europe once, he is not going back for a funeral.)  And who knows if anyone will value the good stuff when you are gone, or toss it to the fate of the auctioneers.    

Monday, March 30, 2015

Who Says Penguins Can't Fly!

I just booked a Zeppelin Flight,
No hydrogen, no lead
The biggest hangar in Southern Germany before you, beside you the dream of flight: the Zeppelin NT. Above you the clear blue sky… and a desire to climb...

Not my Usual

Vodka is not my usual tipple, and this is not your typical vodka.  It is a specialty product from the Buffalo Trace distillery in Frankfort Kentucky.  To me most vodkas are harsh, have little flavor and too much burn.  This is mild and smooth.  You can make vodka from almost any fermentation.  Distill almost all of the flavor components out of the mash and you have a vodka.  Almost all, but not quite all of the flavor components.  Most cheap vodka is made from the cheapest grain available (corn.)  This is 100% wheat.  Like a wheated bourbon, it is smooth and maybe a little sweet.  It is distilled 10 times in a combination of column and pot stills and the  care that goes into making it shows. The ten times distillation is a sign that it is distilled with narrow cuts, taking away just a little of the undesirable flavor compounds each time.

It is limited in availability, in fact you may need to make a trip to Frankfort to find it in the retail store at the distillery.  Drink it straight or mix a great martini, it is worth the trip.  Ralfy needs to find a bottle of this.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Headed to First Class

What Was I Thinking

Great Shoes On This Guy, Why Not?

Over a few decades I have learned to practice active visualization.  Sounds fancy, it isn't.  When my mind is idle like when I am falling asleep, I think about things in the past that I find pleasant, or where I want to be in the future.  Past experiences are fun, I can approach the edge of the Grand Canyon, or board a Paris Metro train in my mind.  The memories are vivid and the pleasure is real.  Future visualization is a chance to dream about where I want to be in the future.  In doing this, I direct where my mind goes.  If my mind starts to go to dark or scary places, I can direct it to things I want to think about.  

I use this technique when I fall asleep, often like 4 or 5 nights a week.  I also use it when I need to be quiet.  Time flies when I am relaxing and focusing my thoughts on pleasant memories. I can make an hour fly by on an airline flight, or ten minutes waiting in the dentist chair.  I have to think into the distant future, if I think of tomorrow or next week, my mind is too active.  If I think of something months or years away, it works in the subconscious.  

Thirty years ago the boss sent the sales and marketing department out for a seminar, that turned out to be run by a stoner from Hawaii.  He was the first person to introduce me to relaxation and visualization.  If I could find him, I would buy him a drink. His material on controlling the mind, has meant more to me then his dribble about understanding the psychology of the buyer.  

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Quality Control

Quality is easy.  Set the standard, and get it right.  It is giving people what they expect, what they pay for.  I had the dented fender on my car fixed this week and the quality control people must have been on vacation.

Let me see, I dropped the car off on Monday for a job that was expected to take 3-4 days.  Picked up a stinky rental car.  On Wednesday I get a phone message that the car is in paint and will be ready on Friday or at the latest Monday.  WTF? I didn't call them but simmered.  On Thursday morning at 9:15 I get a call that the car is ready asking if I can come pick it up right away.  I can't I have meetings.  I agree that I will be there before they close.

I arrived about 4:00.  I owe them for the work (the insurance company had sent me a check.)  They look at the file and say $346 please.  I am stunned because that is not the right amount, I owe them $846 unless the insurance company was able to collect from the parking people, who say it didn't happen while they had the car (a whole different issue.)  I question the amount, and the immediate reaction is "well that is what the file says!" At my urging he opens the file and reads it, and quickly agrees that I owe $846 (less a $50 frequent denter card discount - I was rear ended a year ago and used the same repair shop.)  I pay and they bring the car around.

I look at it and the edge of the door they painted does not match the edge of the other four doors on the car.  Where the hell are there quality control people?  They take it back and buff it differently.  I give up and drive it home.  I am still not sure that it is right, and I am rather hyper sensitive because they tried to pawn off second quality work on me the first time.  The customer should never be the person pointing out that something is not right.  Two strikes in less then an hour.

I drive out into the setting sun and can hardly see out of the windshield.  Looking at it they had sprayed some kind of a cleaner, like Armor All  on the dash to remove the dust, and gotten over spray on the inside of the windshield, and not cleaned it off.  Strike three.

They sent me an online customer satisfaction survey today and called when they got the results and I was less then pleased.  Pleasing me is easy, get it right the first time.  

Friday, March 27, 2015

Blending In

Sometimes we stand out, sometimes we blend in.  We have some control over this, how much contrast do we present to our background, how much do we try to look and sound and act like our background.  There are times when we want to stand out, when we are trying to sell ourselves, for a job, a team, a club, standing out from the crowd is important.  Other times we don't want to stand out, when we are afraid of being noticed.  Sometimes I am the cat in the window on the right, sometimes I am the cat in the left window. 

As a gay man, there are times when I want to fly my flag proudly and be noticed, and other times when I don't.  I can pass if I try, at least I think I can.  The older I get, the less I care what other's think of me, the more I don't mind standing out from the crowd.  Self acceptance takes a lot of work.  It took me years to accept myself, , I am happy with myself and have less need for the acceptance or approval of others.  

If we obsess about what others think of us, it distracts from our ability to be ourselves.  I can't live the life of another, why should I let them impact how I live my life.  If I blend what others think into the background, it allows me to focus on myself.  There are a couple of billion people on the earth, why should I let a few stand out from the background and influence how I live?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Throw Back Thursday - San Diego

About a dozen year's ago, I went to San Diego for the first time. If you have never flown into San Diego you need to.  About a mile from the water's edge, there is a steep hillside, some would call it a cliff.  If the wind is in the right direction the landing approach brings you in between the water and the cliff, at one point the houses on the side of the cliff are higher then the airplane.  It is a wonderful view.

The first time we were there was in early January, we were staying in once of the hotel towers in front of Travel's beak across the bay from where this picture was taken on the 20-something floor, with a balcony and view over the water.  The weather was heavenly, highs in the high 70's , lows in the high 60's, we had the sliding doors open to the balcony for most of the time we were there.

While there we took the street car down to the boarder and walked across into Mexico.  The streets of San Diego are not paved with gold bricks, but with the prices you might think they should be. San Diego is a very plush.  Less then an hour away, as you enter Mexico, you see neighborhoods of corrugated metal houses on dirt streets stretching up the hillsides.  I suddenly understood why people risk there lives in the desert to sneak into the United States and work illegally.  The income from a minimum wage job, would buy better living conditions.

It was easy to get into Mexico, just walk past the police standing there with machine guns.  Getting back into the Unite States took a little longer, showing my passport and opening the bags to show them what I had bought.  Much easier for me, with a US passport, then for those without.  

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pause to Look Up

Union Station in Chicago, May 2014

Tourist season is starting in DC, time to bump into bored teenagers wondering around looking down at their"smart phones" and hand held video games. If you are not carefully they will literally bump into you, as they don't look up to see what is around them. A few times on the National Mall , not the one with Macy;s and Nordstom's, the one with the Capital on one end, the Memorials on the other end and the museums of the Smithsonian on both sides, I have said out loud, what I was thinking, LOOK UP AND SEE WHAT IS AROUND YOU!  Most don't hear, they are so engrossed in the latest text message or twitter exchange, some have attitude - who am I to say something to them, a few look up and go Wow! 

Our lives are like that, we get so engrossed in the details of what we are doing, that we don't often pause to look up, and see the wonders that are around us.  Let me add that to my list of things to do today.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lighting Candles

National Cathedral Washington DC 

“It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt1

Candles are symbolic, they bring light to a dark space, the smoke of a candle rises taking with it the essence of the room, pausing to light a candle gives one time to think good thoughts.  I am not a practitioner, or for that matter a real believer in any organized religion - but I like pausing in churches to light a candle. The symbolism of stopping to think of something positive, and too bring a flicker of light into a sea of darkness, makes a difference for me.  The first time I lit a candle in a church was in Paris.  The first "Gulf War" had started just as I was leaving on that trip. I was in Notre Dame, I lit a candle with a wish that the war would be short and merciful. 

Jay jokes, that he is the Catholic, but I am the candle lighter, maybe I am channeling his mother.  I do it because it makes me feel good.  I always make a nice donation, I hope that the funds are put to good use, and not used to spread fear or hate.  

Some of the churches have done to electric lights instead of candles.  Electric is cleaner and less of a fire hazard, but for me it is not the same.  There is something essential about the physical act of lighting a candle and watching it flicker and burn, and watching the candles exhaust the wax and flicker out that electric will never replace.  

1. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/419141-it-is-better-to-light-a-single-candle-than-to

Monday, March 23, 2015

From Fearsome Beard https://fearsomebeard.wordpress.com/2015/03/22/starting-fresh/comment-page-1/#comment-2034

It’s a new day. What will you do with it?

Memory Triggers

Ozone reminds me of cold winter mornings in Phoenix, walking down the sidewalk on the busy main road toward the elementary school where I went to the first grade one winter. The smell of roses take me back to sitting on the dark wood staircase in the funeral home, when my grandfather died. I stepped in the elevator at the condo the other day, and memories of my grandmother's bedroom in the 100 year old farmhouse in Michigan flooded my brain, someone had been wearing a scent that she use to wear. Scent triggers strong memories for me.  Not all scents, but certain distinct scents trigger strong and deep memories.

There is a particular scent of coffee and tobacco smoke that reminds me of breakfast in road side diners when my family drove cross country in the mid 1960's. That scent has become hard to find.

Some memories I can trigger intentionally, by seeking out the scent, others just hit me.  Most are pleasant memories.

We all have memory triggers, smells, sounds, textures.  If we can find the ones that bring us pleasant feelings and surround ourselves with them, we can influence our feelings.    

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spring Thaw

I remember the spring thaw on the farm in Michigan as a child.  the house was set 100 feet back from the road, and the road was higher then the house, so the melt ran down the drive into the yard.  I would follow the melt from the top, down, watching it get larger and larger. Drops from a snow pile join together to form a rivulet, those join in to a flow, into a run, into a stream.  I use to spend hours, following the flow, watching the stream grow ever stronger as more and more drops joined in.  There was a drainage ditch that ran along the side of the yard, the water would flow in it steadily enough some springs that fish would swim in it, I played with dam building in the ditch, much to my father's dismay.  By late spring and into the summer it would dry up, but for a few weeks in the spring we had a mini water way near the house.   

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Oxford University Museum Natural History and The Pitt Rivers Collection

A dozen years ago, I spent a week at Oxford University. Every four years Oxford hosts an international conference on religious history.  Dr. J attends that conference.  We stayed "in College" meaning we stayed in on campus housing (St. Edmund's) with full room and board - three meals a day in the college dinning room.  The meals were interesting, some very good food, interesting service, the first place I ever encountered a "fish knife."

We arrived in Oxford by train, bumped into the Archbishop of Canterbury getting off the train, he took the taxi ahead of us.  The next afternoon was the opening reception, a tea party in the rose garden at Christ Church College, hosted by none other then the Archbishop.  Someplace, I have a picture of him and several pictures of the party.  

I had access to the University by virtue of attending the conference.  I was able to get into places that tourists are normally not allowed.  I think I was only turned away a couple of places that I tried to enter.  I enjoyed the University and the town.  I was walking, Oxford is a very walking able city, it better be there is no parking in the city.  I found the pub where Bill Clinton claims he didn't inhale - ah-huh!  I attended a Gershwin concert one evening.  I wandered through some great museums.

The Oxford Museum of Natural History is spectacular.  The skeleton collection is the best in the world.  They have the remains of the last Dodo, sadly severely damaged in a fire.  The Pitt Rivers Collection is an anthropology and archaeology collection connected to the Natural History museum.  The thing that struck me in the Pitt Rivers museum was the drawers full of artifacts, that you are free to open and explore.  I was amazed at the museum items that were open to be touched.  It is a living collection.

It was a neat experience.  Four years later Jay went to Oxford and I went to France, then four years ago we both went to France and when he went to Oxford I came home.  This year he is going ahead to Oxford and he will catch up with me in Germany.  I should go back to Oxford one day before he retires.  Maybe the Archbishop will invite us for tea again.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Joys of Spring

The long cold winter is coming to an end, time for the Joys of spring.  Soon the Dandelions will be blooming, a sure fire sign of spring.  I was raised on a honeybee farm, sort of a funny farm.  Dandelions were one of the first spring flowers to produce a nectar flow that would sustain the colonies. In fact until people started waging war on the beautiful little spring flowers, the dandelion honey flow would sustain the bees into the summer bloom.  I still like them, a like that is not always shared by J-Bear.  The first spring we were in Kentucky he decided he would eradicate the little yellow flowers from the yard with Round-Up.  He sprayed and a couple of hours later the dandelions were still happily shining their yellow blossoms in the sun, so he poured on the Round-up, went back to Lowe's for more.  Three days later the dead spots appeared in the lawn.  It was two years before anything would grow in a couple of those spots.  

The first warm days and arms start to bloom, glaring white knees start to show.  What a glorious time of the year.   

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Throw Back Thursday

 This was taken in January 1991 on the Eiffel Tower in Paris.  Paris was a long time dream of mine.  I have a soft spot for all things French.  People thought I was crazy for making this trip, Bush bombed Baghdad on a Wednesday night, I left for Europe on Friday night. this was the first Gulf War. Airlines were cancelling flights left and right, at the last moment, KLM cancelled our flight from Orlando to Amsterdam, flew us to Atlanta on Delta and put us on a flight from  Atlanta to Amsterdam.  It was a memorable evening in airline history, Eastern Airlines ceased operations that evening, the airport in Atlanta was chaos.  KLM issued everyone new boarding passes, and 24 passengers and 12 crew members boarded a nearly new 747 for the flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam. They had over 100 no-shows for the flight.  They moved all of coach into business class and turned off the lights in the back of the bus. The plane taxied out on schedule, and then the pilot announced that due to all of the Eastern Airlines flights being ordered out of the sky, we would have over an hour wait on a taxi-way and they would be serving dinner before we took off.  The food was good, about 90 minutes after we took off, they served dinner a second time, they had food on board for the 100 people that didn't show up for the flight.  It was a good trip - 2-3 nights in Amsterdam, then flew onto Paris for 5 or 6 nights.  In Paris was the first time I saw government buildings (the US Embassy) guarded with machine guns.  We had a nice visit, the flight home was packed with US embassy staff from Europe and the middle east who had all been ordered home and had been instructed to fly in European flagged airlines (normally they only fly on US carriers.)  I have been back to Paris since then, and would go back again in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


We spend 8 months of the year, working 400 miles apart, and e-communication makes a real difference in maintaining our relationship.  We email, video chat, exchange text messages, follow one another on Facebook and talk on the phone.  We are in contact several times a day.  I spend a couple of weeks a year in the other house, and the Sweet-Bear spends the summers, winter break and spring break here in the condo.

So how do we communicate when we are sitting three feet apart, emails and Facebook. I have been known to use video chat if he is in the other room.  We also talk, take long drives, go shopping, cook and enjoy meals together.  But e-life continues to be a part of life.  It is hard to imagine life before email and yet it has only been a little over 20 years.  Blogging has been in my life almost 10 years, Facebook came after that.

I can remember when a radio that fit in my pocket was a big deal, now we have computers that fit in our pockets.  I read the other day that in 1991, the computing power of last year's I-phone, cost over $3.5-million dollars.  Our smart phones have more computing power and memory then NASA had available when they landed men on the moon and brought them safely back to earth.  That happened in my lifetime.

My parents were born the year that Lindbergh flew the Atlantic, what will happen within the lifetime of a person born today?  How will the E-life change their life?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Soaring Architecture

I like great churches,  I am not a practitioner of any organized religion. I find some of the principles of most religions problematic, I think there are sufficient reasons to be a good person, do good work, be nice to others without having to worry about what happens after this life, I don't need to be told that I am capable of evil, I know, I also know the consequences in this lifetime for being evil and chose not to do that.  But I love the architecture that we lavish on churches.   

There was a era in America when banks built great buildings, building that demonstrated long term commitment and strength.  Periodically government buildings are examples of solid timeless and durable design.  The great train stations of 100 years ago where built as temples to reliability - a handful of great examples endure. But anymore banks are low cost, modern and temporary, most government buildings are built to be low maintenance, and train stations - well they simply are no longer temples of transit.  But churches are probably the greatest examples of timeless and enduring architecture. These are buildings designed to inspire and awe and to last for eons, without regard to the cost.  They soar with stone and light.  

The picture above is the National Cathedral in Washington DC. A wonderful space.  It is a little hard to get to, a mile up hill from the nearest metro station.  It now has a nice underground parking garage.  It is lighter and more open then St. Pauls', or Notre Dame de Paris. Of course smaller than St Peters.  It is worth the visit when you are in DC. 

Monday, March 16, 2015


I can remember the first time rode public transit, I was about 10, we were at the Detroit Auto Show and my parents took us on a circulator bus to the Hudson's department store. The big main Hudson's store was a wondrous place. I remember the elevators with operators, I bought my first transistor radio there, a big thing in 1968.  Sadly the store is long gone, one of the saddest videos on You-Tube is the destruction of this once great building (and I generally like controlled demolition videos.)

It was 20 years after that before I rode my first subway, the DC Metro system.  I was quickly hooked.  I like the simplicity of public transit. I use it when ever I can, when I visit new places I am always looking for transit options.  I prefer trains to buses.  I have transit cards for London, Atlanta, Chicago, New York and DC in my travel case, ready to hit the ground running (I also keep Euros and Pounds on hand - ready to land and go without looking for an ATM.)

The train above only runs about 1-mile.  It is inside the new main terminal at the Detroit Airport.  It shuttles people around the very-very long concourse. As I recall it is a cable car, the cable moves and the train grabs onto it and is pulled along.  The underground train the Cincinnati airport runs on the same system.   By the way if you have changed planes in Cincinnati, you actually changed planes in Kentucky, the airport is on the south side of the Ohio River.  A lot of people are surprised to hear that they have once set foot in Kentucky and didn't know it.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Express Yourself!

The routine things in life need not be boring.  Have fun with what you wear. Shoes have become more functional for me as my feet have gotten older then the rest of me, but I own a lot of fun shoes.  I started buying fun shoes in the mid-1980's, then I discovered Colours by Alexander Julian who made the most wonderful patterned and textured socks. I still wear the most outrageous socks.

When we moved to Kentucky in 1995, I had a year to fill before I started law school, after a few days I grew bored with being around the house and took the first job that was offered, selling ladies shoes in a department store.  It was an interesting experience.  I learned to judge a person by the shoes they wear.  Boring shoes = afraid of life, utilitarian shoes = needs comfort, tiger striped patent leather with spikes on the heels = not afraid to express him-self.  It took me several years to get to the point that I could meet someone without immediately looking at their shoes. I was occasionally mistaken for an actuary or statistician. You can tell the difference between in introverted actuary and extroverted actuary.  The extroverted actuary looks down at your shoes when they talk to you.  Either that or the person sold shoes for 9 months 20 years ago and is still trying to recover from the experience. It was a fun job, the most mindless job I have ever had.  The department manager told me one day that if she wanted me to think, she would pay me more (I didn't stay too long after that.)

Have some fun, wear something that reflects your personality.  This summer I have declared Spo-Shirt or Hawaiian shirt Fridays.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Wisdon from the Short Bus

A 2-car train - Metro does not run 2-car trains - it was 6 when it came in

A kid who rides the short bus, is a metaphor for a school child who has special needs, when I was growing up they were referred to as retarded or just not quite right in the head. I have a family member who fell into this category - was labeled as a child and it has haunted him through out his life. He was largely abandoned by the school system, adding extra hurdles to his living up to his potential.  We all have different strengths and weaknesses.  I have to disagree with those that say that anyone can do anything.  Despite years of heavy training, my best ever time for the mile was just under 7 minutes, I will never run a four minute mile.  But I have other strengths.  

I was working with a client who had a third grade education. Someone had signed one of those pre-approved credit card applications that came in the mail in her name and requested an extra card for her nephew.  Someone had run the card to the limit and never paid the bill.  She said it was not her and I believed her.  Everyone assumed it had to be the nephew.  The credit card company offered to leave her alone, if she would file a police report against the nephew.  It sounded like a logical thing to do, then came the wisdom from the girl who rode the short bus.  She said, I have no proof that he signed it, he says he didn't, if I accuse him of it without proof, I'd be lying and all my life I have been told not to lie. I was surprisingly stunned, her simple logic and honesty made more sense then all of the attorneys in the room.  It took me a couple of times to explain her reasoning and logic to opposing counsel. A couple of decades of education, does not always trump, the wisdom of pure logic and honesty.  


Friday, March 13, 2015

Going Places

I am in the lull between trips.  Time to recharge, plan and plot where to next.  The end of January, first of February was a marathon of airline flights and hotels.  My next venture is in a couple of months and starts with a conference in Austin, Texas.  I hope I have a better experience in Austin this trip then I did the first time.  The first trip was plagued by unreliable service at the hotel, trouble with the electronic lock on the hotel room door that required twice daily trips to the front desk, inedible and overpriced food (except for the hole in the wall BBQ place) and really the only things around were noisy bars full of music that was not to my taste.  From there I go to Orlando for a conference and a few days visit with my family.  Sometime over the summer we need to make a trip to Cleveland to see the brother's in law.  Then later in the summer we are going to Europe for a couple of weeks.  I am flying to Frankfort, via Detroit (Delta Frequent Flyer Miles.)  From there I will take a train to Stuttgart and meet Jay, who will have been in England for the week before for a conference.  We are planning a couple of weeks in southern Germany with brief forays into Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg and Lichtenstein. We fly back from Munich, with a 25 hour stop over in Iceland.  I am home about a week and I will be off to Portland, Oregon for a few days for a meeting.  That will be out on a Wednesday and back on Saturday or Sunday (likely an overnight return.)  By the time I am done this year I will have been the solar equivalent of half way around the world, I will have been in 12 time zones. Sometime in the fall, we will likely make a driving trip to Florida to see my family again.

Lots of places to go, lots of things to do.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

12 on 12

I try to remember to do 12 on 12, 12 images, all captured on the 12th of the month, sort of a glimpse into  a day in the life of me.
An early start this morning, and I had been up for a while when I took this first picture

The cutter on my desk at home, I know where everything is as long as it is in that pile.

Sunrise on the Metro on my way into the city.

A quick glimpse of the office.

Ice tea with my lunch

From looking at the boots, I knew he was headed to the airport, he is not from around here. 

How long should I keep the beard?

Crossing from DC into Virginia 

Some nice days, the only snow left from a week ago is were it was stacked up

Home with days mail, a couple of bills and some watch batteries 

I realized a couple of months ago that I had half a dozen watches that I liked and didn't use because the batteries were dead, I decided to try replacing them myself.  This is the last one. 

A memento from the cruise to Alaska 6 years ago, the entire trip was planned around riding he Yukon and White Pass Railway - it was worth it. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How Far Is Too Far

News is out this afternoon that BBC has suspended Jeremy Clarkson one of the three presenters on the BBC hit show Top Gear.  Clarkson is outrageous, and frequently hilarious. There are no sacred cows for him, few things are off limits of his sarcastic humor.  His remarks can be offensive women, minorities, gays, politicians, old people, persons with disabilities, persons who drive slow, people who live in the country, people who live in cities, cyclists, motorcyclists, car designers, anyone not British, people who are British, people with red hair, people with no hair, you get the idea - kind of anyone.

Part of the attraction of the show was to see what outrageous thing he would say.  If you don't want to hear the outrage, don't tune in.  He was warned last year that he would be fired if he said anything racist again, ever.  A standard he described as being hard for a saint to meet.  I would be outraged if he was fired for saying the outrageous things that we know he is going to say.

He is under investigation for trying to take a swing at a producer.  No one is saying he hit anyone, but that he tried. Has he crossed the line.

As frustrating as work can be, violence is never the answer.

The show would not be the same without him.  There have been spin off versions of the show in other countries, including one the USA, and it is just not the same.  He is a creative genius. If he did what he is accused of, what is the appropriate action?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

My Ex

This was making the rounds on Facebook, and I was not surprised by the words many people used to describe their Ex, gross, insane, devil, tyrant, stupid, and catastrophe among others. 

My one word was "happy."  

I took a stab at marrying a women once.  It was not a good experience for either of us.  We tried for a couple of years to make one another happy, then spent several years occupying parallel space, neither of us having the guts to say this does not work.  And it didn't work.  In the end it was jealousy that ended it, she had a boyfriend and I didn't.  I knew she was seeking happiness elsewhere, because she was not happy with the relationship and I called it quits. At first she was upset, but under it I could see the sense of relief.  I kept assuring her that we both deserved happiness, and we were not finding it together.  She feared change and the loss of security, but she really needed happiness.  
I occasionally see her postings on Facebook.  She appears to be happy.  She is still living with man she was seeing at the end of the marriage.  Good for her, maybe she finally found a companion in life that makes her happy every day.  I did. 

I waited several years after the divorce to come-out to her.  I didn't want her to think that was the reason I called it quits.  I called it quits because neither of us was happy and that was an unhealthy relationship for both of us.  

Breaking up is hard to do, even if you know it is the right thing to do for all involved.. I am still capable of being angry at things that happened, or didn't happen.  I was surprised several years after the split when I walked past the National Archives here in DC and became angry, I was angry at her for not being interested in in going in to see the documents that are the foundation of our country, she wanted to go back the hotel and watch TV. Odd, what hidden triggers lie beneath the surface of our brains.  Looking at it through the lens of happiness, she was not happy with my sightseeing style and I was not happy with hers, we were really not happy with one another. We all deserve happiness. 
I hope she finds the same kind of happiness that I have in life.  

Monday, March 09, 2015


That is a metro bridge, a bridge that subway trains run across. While significant parts of the DC subway system are underground, parts of the system are above ground.  It is easy to tell the above ground sections from the below ground sections, if the section is sometimes in daylight, it is above ground. The underground sections lack daylight. Believe it or not a train operator explained that to a train full of Friday afternoon commuters recently.   This bridge is little used, it is a bypass to allow trains to change lines.  So, what are the buckets doing on the bridge?  It is a strange place for buckets.  It is someplace where few people will walk, meaning it is unlikely that anyone will kick the bucket there.

I am here, in  part because of subways.  No my parent's didn't meet on a subway train, I wasn't conceived on a subway train (far to exciting for my parents.) My great grandfather on my paternal grandmother's side, was a tunnel digger.  An English coal miner, who moved to North America to dig underground tunnels, including subway tunnels.  If he hadn't come to this country to dig tunnels, my grandmother would have grown up in west London, married a local bloke, and my father wouldn't have existed.  Hence I wouldn't be writing this.

When I was growing up, my father use to say, "never run after a streetcar or a woman."  It took me a long time to understand why my mother was upset when he said that.  She is wound kind of tight, so it never took much to set my mother off.  My father grew up in the burbs of Detroit, when Detroit had streetcars,  For years I though that she was upset by references to Detroit's lost streetcars (thank you GM - GM struck a deal to remove the tracks and repave the streets if Detroit would replace steet cars with modern buses.) Eventually I connected the dots, if the next street car is just the same, so is the next woman, maybe mom was not one-in-a-million.  Streetcars may be fungible, but life partners are not.  They are one-in-a-million.  My parents are coming up on 67 years, no one has kicked the bucket, maybe one was worth chasing after. I know I have found a sweet bear who was worth chasing and being chased by.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Typical Metro Weekend Service

Service Status

Red Line statusRed LineRed Line: On Sat & Sun 9a-9p, add'l trains provide service every 10 min btwn Friendship Heights & Silver Spring.

Red Line: Trains run every 16 min btwn Shady Grove and Glenmont due to rebuilding through closing Sunday. Check schedules at wmata.com.
Orange Line statusOrange LineOrange/Silver/Blue Line: Expect delays in both directions due to a switch problem outside Stadium-Armory.Delay
Silver Line statusSilver LineOrange/Silver/Blue Line: Expect delays in both directions due to a switch problem outside Stadium-Armory.Delay
Blue Line statusBlue LineOrange/Silver/Blue Line: Expect delays in both directions due to a switch problem outside Stadium-Armory.Delay
Yellow Line statusYellow LineGreen/Yellow Line: Trains run every 15 min due to rebuilding through closing Sunday. Check schedules at wmata.com.Alert
Green Line statusGreen LineGreen/Yellow Line: Trains run every 15 min due to rebuilding through closing Sunday. Check schedules at wmata.com.Alert

Not a single line is working properly today