Friday, July 31, 2015

My Priorities for Metro Rail

So I write about the DC Metro Rail system, aka, the DC subway system,  a lot.  It is a major part of my life, like 90 minutes a day plus getting to and from the stations.  That is 90 minutes when the system is running on time, which it doesn't do a couple of days a week.  Delays add anyplace from a couple of minutes to an hour each way.  There are perpetual problems, the doors break if they get blocked too many times.  That is oldest issue in the system, dating back to the first day of service.  Until this year all of the rolling stock entering service had the same door design that has been giving trouble for decades, they have never retrofitted the cars with a more reliable design.  When doors won't close or won't indicate an all closed to the operator, the train goes out of service, either waiting for that car to be emptied and locked out by service personnel, or more commonly offloaded and taken back the yard for repairs.  There are lesser problems with rails, switches, and brakes that lead to reliability issues.

Metro talks constantly about rebuilding to enhance safety, and safety is important, but what about reliability.  Given a trade off of reliability or safety, I have reached the point of saying fix the reliability issues first.  Here is why, I have been here almost 7 years, 10 people have died in active Metro train operations in 7 years (9 passengers and 1 train operator.) These were tragic and unnecessary deaths, but when you look at the millions and millions of passengers moved over 7 years, it is also a pretty safe system.  It is safer then driving, it might even be safer then the stations - I think there have been that many murders in the stations in 7 years.  I will take my odds on safety, what I want is a reliable system.

The trains also have to be comfortable, and for the most part they are, until the peak of summer when it is in the mid 90's with humidity to match and the air conditioning does not work in probably 5% of the cars.  Ranking safety, comfort and reliability, I have to say for me number 1 is reliability, number 2 is comfort and number 3 is safety.  No government agency screams about reliability or comfort, they scream about safety, but the system is relatively safe.  If Metro wants to attract and keep fare paying riders, it needs to work on reliability and comfort.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Short Attention Span Theater

I don't know what it is today, but I can focus for about 10 minutes, then - I am off again.  Looking at the web, thinking of the next great adventure, fussing about the latest idiot to cross my path.  Usually I can focus for longer, but today - well I am already losing interest in writing this posting.  It would be a good afternoon for a long meeting, one where I can drift in and out, but instead I trying to write a project summary report, a summary of four years of work.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015


I like to be in control, I prefer to drive, to navigate, to call the shots. A lot of us are like this.  It makes travel a challenge because there are a lot of things in travel that we have no control over.  I can remember pitching a hissy-fit at an airline employee more then once, that there were planes out there, find one that works and get us in the air (it works that way when you are flying privately) or that the weather was not that bad - I have flown in worse.  It didn't do any good, and only ruined the day of someone else.

Finally I made peace, I control what I can.  I can control checking in early, being at the airport early, checking my bag before the cut off time, clearing security early, and being at the gate.  Beyond that, I have no control.  They won't let me schedule the flights, pick the planes, schedule the crew, fly the plane, load or unload the luggage.  Once I have done my part, I turn the controls over to others, and sit back and roll with what ever happens.

I was in Charlotte one morning, the morning that the plane I was on backed into another plane, twice.  Then the re-book flight cancelled.  I had been traveling over 24 hours at that point.  I stood in line with 50 other people waiting for two agents to re-route us.  Ten people in front of ripped the agents a new one, I walked up and said, do the best you can, you and I don't control what has happened, I know if you could change it you would, but we can't, what can you do to get me home today?   Both of us smiled, and I was on the next flight to the airport nearest to home that they could get me to that morning with a van ride booked from there to home.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Embracing the moment

I was headed up into the mountains of New Mexico, I left Albuquerque in the bright sunshine and headed north, as I started to climb, suddenly I was in the fog.  The views and vistas I had come to see, were shrouded in the mist.  I pulled over at a scenic overlook, and this is what I saw. Amazingly beautiful isn't it?  I can curse the fog, or see the beauty in it.  I choose to see the beauty.  A couple of miles, and a few hundred feet difference in elevation and as quickly as I had driven into the fog, I drove back into the brilliant sunshine.  Somehow I missed the fog.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Life in the rear view mirror

I have a complex relationship with the past.  I like remembering the grand adventures, but try to avoid woulda, coulda, and shoulda - aka regrets for what I might have done differently.  I do believe that when we make the final accounting of our lives we regret more what we didn't do or say, than we do what we have done and said. Why do we dwell on regrets?  The past is gone, once the moment ticks by I can't relive it.  I might be able to change it tomorrow, go back and see the museum that I missed, or drive the road again and take the other side of the fork in the road. For the most part, the time is better spent reveling in what I have done and what I am going to do.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Hearty English Food

Scotch Egg Rolls

Until John Gray at Going Gently, Scotch Eggs had never entered my consciousness.  I think I had one in the fake English Pub at EPCOT once, but it was likely as fake as Ye Olde English Pub.  A little research shows that this delicacy has been around for nearly 200 years.  A hard boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, breaded and cooked.  Someone posted a traditional recipe a few weeks ago and I tried that.  A few days ago I came across a recipe for the egg roll and decided to give it a try.  

7 eggs - hard boil 6 of them
1 pound bulk Italian sausage (I used hot) 
4 -6 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese - shredded 
1 package frozen puff pastry. 

Start by hard boiling 6 eggs, I prefer mine done, so 8-10 minutes at a nice boil, cover and let cool. Peel the hard boiled eggs. Thaw the puff pastry per the package directions. Beat the 7th egg in a bowl and have a basting or pastry brush handy. The pastry package I was working with had two sheets.  I worked with them one at a time.  Unfold the puff pastry on parchment or waxed paper. Flatten a thin layer of the sausage on about 2/3rd of the sheet of puff pastry.  Place the eggs in the middle, sprinkle with about half of the shredded cheese, roll up - the paper layer will keep the pastry from sticking to the board and make this easier. Seal the edge with beaten egg.  Transfer to a non-stick baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.  Brush the top with beaten egg.  Bake at 400 degrees F, for 30-35 minutes.  Cool and slice.  Can be served cold making it a great make ahead dish.   

My office's summer gathering is Sunday night, I will post in the comments what people thought of this dish.    

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Stand Clear -Doors Closing

When you ride subway trains, even more ubiquitous than "Mind the Gap" is the announcement to "Stand Clear - Doors Closing."  Every one who rides the trains on a regular basis  has at least once leapt through the closing doors, unsure how they made it. Or even worse gotten caught in the closing doors.  On Tuesday afternoon, here in DC a father traveling with two young children, the oldest being a 5 year old boy, tempted fate with the doors, daddy and the girl made it on, the doors closed leaving the 5 year old boy hysterically pounding on the door as the train moved away.   Someone pulled the emergency stop, daddy pulled the emergency door release and went running down the platform, carrying his daughter to be reunited with his son, and introduced to the transit police.

The police investigation took a while, meanwhile two very busy lines were blocked and later single tracking. The police declined to write an official report (why do we have transit police) and daddy was not charged.  But 20 to 30 minute delays stretched well into the evening rush on two lines, inconveniencing thousands of commuters, I know, I was stuck in it standing on a platform waiting for a train that then moved at about half speed.  It takes a while for metro to get things back in sync.

My father use to say, "never run after a streetcar or a woman, there will be another one along in a minute." My mother eventually cured him of saying this.  But, why risk the safety of yourself, or your children, to try to jump onto a train after the warning to "stand clear - doors closing?"  I posted a comment that the father bears at least some responsibility for this incidence on a story on Facebook.  The comment received numerous likes and one comment, a mother who said "you must be a complete idiot."  If there is a god, please watch out for her children, they need all the help they can get.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Familiar Things

I live a cluttered life filled with familiar things.  For me a jumble of objects is fine, for Jay it has to be organized, he calls it tablescaping.  Some of the items remind me of adventures, people and places, other's help me stay organized.  They are a glimpse into my life.

So what is in the picture above?  I have to start with the base, the table.  It has that wonderful book-matched veneer on the top.  I bought it in a junk shop 25 years ago, it was painted brown and I figured I would strip it down and repaint it - the distressed look was "in."  When the paint came off and the beautiful wood came into view, I couldn't paint it.  Sometimes people are like that, you have to get below the layers to see the real beauty.  The little gold book, it a collection of tiny printed photographs of a trip to Greece.  The white object is a remote control dimmer for all of the lights in the living room in the house in Lexington (refereed to as the other house.)  The stoneware box, holds postage stamps, it is on my desk in the condo now, the base of a lamp I bought in about 1982, in a furniture store at the corner of SR 50 and SR 436 in Orlando - a store long out of business.  The end of a desk phone and the corner of a book - back before Kindle when books had to be printed on paper.  All familiar, comfortable, known.  We need comfort in life balanced with adventure.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Those who are connected with me on Facebook will know that I folded up the cane Monday night and stuffed it in my bag. I am walking without it.  It is there if I need it. So far it has only come out once and that was to snag a handicap seat on an overcrowded metro train. I  folded it up after I had a seat. I  may never leave home without it.
I sent the neurosurgeon an email update this morning,  saying thank you again for restoring my ability to walk. I know docs are paid well, but money cannot express my gratitude for the hours he put into helping me.

EPCOT - about 20 years ago

20-years ago this summer we moved from Orlando, to Lexington, Kentucky.  From a place that only needs one name for most people in the western world to know where you are talking about, to a place people have to look up on a map, the number of times people have said, which is on top, Kentucky or Tennessee? Tennessee is the bottom.

When we were leaving Orlando I was being secretive with my employer, they had a reputation of screwing over employees.  Someone, and I know who, told my boss I was moving, and two weeks before when I was planning to leave, the company quit paying me - and I took a couple of weeks off rather then working up until we left.  I never did get paid for the last two weeks that I had worked - the boss's answer to my demand to be paid was "sue me, I know you are leaving town in a couple of weeks, kind of hard to sue from 1,000 miles away."  He was right.

So we had a couple of weeks of free time before we left Orlando.  To break up the monotony of packing boxes, we indulged with visits to our favorite places every-other-day or so for a couple of weeks.  The picture above was taken at EPCOT, far back corner of the World Showcase.  The Pooh suit makes my sweet bear look four times the size he was.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Oh My!

Jay is home in the other house for a few days to sort out some paperwork and pick up a few things.  In May he left there in a bit of a hurry when I called to tell him I was headed to the hospital.  Among other things he left his passport behind, we are kind of going to need that later this year.  So he arrived on Sunday afternoon, Sunday evening he noticed mildew in the laundry room then that the floor was squishy. 

That led to discovering that the water heater was leaking. There goes a $1,000. 

And drying things out led to this. And removal of the wood laminate floor in the kitchen and laundry room.  The damage is covered by insurance.  But, what a mess - he is doing much better today.  He is becoming the champion of coping.  

You can see through into the laundry room on the left and the kitchen directly ahead. 
This may delay his delay his return to DC by a few days.  I am so sorry he has to work through this alone, wish I was there.  But he is so good at coping.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

San Francisco

I have spent a few great days in San Francisco over the years.  It is a great conference city, it has nice large hotels, wonderful food, a large airport and good public transit.  I can honestly say, I have never had a bad day in San Francisco.  The first time I went there I had been in Sacramento for work and rented  car and drove over and spent one night.  Driving in San Francisco it a bit like driving in any crowded city, you get to see things, but you spend a lot of time stuck in traffic and hunting for parking.  As I recall parking the car overnight, cost almost as much as the hotel room.

My second trip to San Francisco, almost didn't happen.  I had been scheduled for a couple of days work in Napa, and just a few days before the start date, the program cancelled.  I had added a few days in San Francisco onto the business trip and had pre-paid non-refundable hotel reservations.  I thought about it for a minute, and cashed in frequent flyer miles and went anyway.  It was a great visit, with lots of wonderful exploring in the city.

Then even more excitement on the way home. I was flying from SFO to Atlanta, for the first time ever I had paid to watch the movie, someplace over Texas, suddenly the movie stopped, the cabin lights went out and things went silent in the airplane cabin.  Less then a minute later the flight crew came on over the intercom to tell us that the cabin lights had gone out, and we would be landing in Dallas.  We went from 38,000 feet to on the ground in Dallas in less then 10 minutes.  The electrical system on the plane had failed, one of the generators had failed, and the surge had caused the other two generators to fail, we landed on battery power.  When we came to a stop at the gate, there was smoke coming out of the engine cowling on the right hand side.  How exciting!  The airline re-booked us, I made it as far as Atlanta that night, spent the night in a very nice hotel and flew on home the next morning.

Monday, July 20, 2015


I give up on baggage, I have been through so many suitcases in the past 15 years that I have lost track.  Luggage gets busted up in travel, fabric gets torn, zippers snapped, wheels break off.

I keep three basic sizes, a 20 inch "carry on" good for a one or two night trip - if I am not carrying a lot of extras.  A 24-26 inch bag, for trips of 2-5 nights.  This is my general purpose utility bag, if the trip is purely leisure, in warm weather, I can get a week or more out of this size.  Even full, I am able to keep these under 40 pounds and easy to haul.  I also keep at least one large bag, 28-29 inches.  I have to watch these or they run overweight.  I use them for longer trips, or road trips giving me the freedom to pack carelessly.  Sometimes I carry two bags, the mid sized and the carry on.  I have done this on longer trips to Europe, carrying the small bag on board and checking the larger one.  I also do it when I drive to Florida and spend a week with family, I pack the smaller bag with what I am going to wear coming and going and carry it into the hotels between here and there, and the larger bag I pack with what I am going to wear while I am in Florida.

It is time for a new mid-size bag, the current one suffered a puncture
on the trip to Hawaii.  Shopping I go.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hey Tony!

I was wondering the side streets of lower Manhattan, headed into the financial disctrict when I stumbled across LesHalles.  One of many old school French restaurants in New York City.  What sets this one apart is a former chef.  Tony lead the kitchen for a decade, dealing with his personal demons, writing a couple of crime novels and then a book about life in a restaurant kitchen, "Kitchen Confidential."  That book launched Anthony Bourdain as a celebrity.  First is was interviews about the book, and life in the back of the house, then TV came calling.  A Cooks Tour was quickly followed by No Reservations, and now Parts Unknown. I love his writing style, a mix of exploring the local culture and politics through the lens of local food and drink.  I had already had lunch when I came across LesHalles, I will have to go back again.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Well that was unexpected

In nearly 7 years in the DC area I have seen a lot of things, but coming across a roach on the floor of the men's room was unexpected.  They say roaches have been here longer then humans, and will likely be here long after we have gone extinct.  The "scientists" that rant about the impact of humans on the earth and sound so concerned about the long term existence of the earth and the environment, generally bug me.  The earth will survive, the environment is remarkably resilient.  Look at Chernobyl, 30 years after people and nature is slowly taking back the place that mankind has most severely messed up.  Roaches have succeed at outlasting civilizations despite our efforts to have them all leg side up on the floor.  Mankind may go extinct, when we do, the earth will heal, the environment will find balance, and the roaches will live on. Well this roach won't, I made sure he was truly dead before I left the room, it takes a lot to stop the antennae from moving.

Friday, July 17, 2015


I have kept a log of hotels that I stay in for over a decade.  Frankly, they all run together after a while, few of them stand out.  This is the atrium of the Marriott in Covington, Kentucky. The hotel is on the river, overlooking downtown Cincinnati. Beyond that, it is just another nice Marriott.  It is rare for a hotel to stand out. Occasionally the view is spectacular, a great view of a great city, an airport, or a nice water view.  In January I had a nice suite in southern California for a couple of nights.  Not a spectacular view, but  nice living room and separate bedroom. Rarely does the decor stand out, when it does sometimes it is because it is hideous - I remember one near Stanford that was overdone in a frilly colonial.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


 Born Mary Louise Broadhurst in Swansea, Wales in about 1890, this is my paternal, maternal, great grandmother.  My father's mother's mother.  She lived to about 90.  As a teenager she married an English miner, turned tunnel builder.  She had two children while living in London, then on the eve of World War I, my great grandfather landed a job digging tunnels in New York City and they moved. They had a third child after moving to the USA. The nature my great grandfather's work involved moving every 2-3 years as a project was finished.  They lived in New York, Memphis, Toledo, Chicago, and Detroit.

She was widowed around the time I was born, and lived in a second floor apartment in her youngest daughter's home for a decade. That ended when the daughter's alcoholism made that no longer safe. She then moved in with my Grandparent's on the farm, literally around the corner from my parents home.  By that time in life, she was legally blind with a lot of health issues.  She walked almost everyday up and down the sun porch on the back of the house and spent hours listening to the radio.  I can remember her speaking in Welsh, once or twice, as a child it frightened me.  When I was a teenager, she got sick one summer, she was in the hospital for a while, then admitted to a nursing home.  She spent the rest of her life between a couple of nursing homes, surviving a broken hip.  Her mind remained strong, but her spirit was broken by illness and isolation in the nursing home.  She died during the summer of 1977, my last summer on the farm.    

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Computers - Making Our Lives Better - Sometimes

So I was having this weird problem with Microsoft Word.  If I had a document opened from one drive, and went to open a document from another drive, Word would crash, and have to shut down and start over.  It was not allowing me to have two thoughts from different sources at the same time, well it would, when it got over it's "spell" both documents would be open.  A couple of minutes of lost time, but then I could do what I wanted to do.  So I emailed "customer care" and asked the IT people to fix it.

I know, I know, never call in the IT guys unless it is truly broken.  To fix this they decided they needed to reload Word, it is easier to reinstall Office, then it is to just reinstall Word - oh my!  When they finished, not only did I have the same issue with Word, but Outlook wouldn't allow me to log into the server, meaning no email and no calendar.  I tried, and failed.  The network administrator tried, and tried, and tried and I went to lunch, and he tossed the machine and replaced it.  So when I came back from lunch lots of things were missing. I have spent the afternoon getting software reinstalled, email syncing to my phone and recovering my calendar.  It does appear that we fixed the issue with Word - after about four hours and simply replacing the machine.  It is s good thing I am not being compulsive about being productive today.  Sometimes I understand why the windows in the office building don't open, if they opened we would either throw windows machines out the windows, or jump.

Updated: 7/15/2015
Now I can't print.  Well I can, my print requests are going to someone's desktop printer in Chicago.  I am in DC.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Start of Another Day of Fun!

What can I say, that the rising sun does not say?  Each day we get a fresh start, a new chance to go forth and make our way in the world.  Any day that we wake up, not decomposing, is a day with potential.  What will I make of this day?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Bear Festival

One of my doctors suggested that I try swimming to work on the muscles in my back.  At one time I swam 100+ miles per year, now that was 25 years ago, but as they say you never really forget how.  The condo has two pools.  An indoor pool that is open year around and a large outdoor pool that is open in the summer.  I have lived here about 6 years and had never used the pools.  I decide to start using what I am paying for.  Pleasantly, within 10 minutes or so I remembered how to swim.  It feels good to move, my endurance is steadily increasing.

I came home Friday afternoon a couple of hours early, the weather was bright and sunny with a temperature in the high 80's, so I headed off to the pool for a nice swim.  I finished my laps (15 minutes) and was lounging in the water.  I looked around and realized that I was surrounded by a crowd of large, fuzzy, hairy older people.  It looked like a geriatric bear festival.  In the Gay community bears are large, kind of round and hairy.  Bears are a subset of the community, people who are not afraid proud of their body image and people who like being around them.  Jay and I have grown into being bears (if we like it or not.) He has always been my sweet bear, and there is more of him to love then there was when we met 23 years ago.  There is a whole lot more of me then their use to be. When we met I was still swimming a couple of miles a week, and running 15-20 miles per week, and riding my bike 100 miles per week, working 50 hours per week, taking college classes two nights a week, sleep was optional, I didn't own a television.  As I slacked off, I rounded out and I very much fit the body of a bear.  Now if I can only become comfortable with this body (hey it is the only one I have.)

I have never been to a bear festival, but I have seen the pictures and there I am Friday afternoon in the middle of a crowd that would fit in well in the middle of any Palm Springs Bear Bust.  Well not exactly, they were all sober, and the average age was just shy of decomposing.

Then the bear crowd started to grow, as the men started to arrive and join in.

Sunday, July 12, 2015


Classic, old school, grungy, all words to describe the platforms at Newark,  If you fly into Newark, you take a shuttle train, the commuter train, take that into the Newark train station and then change to the subway.  I am not sure if this is the subway platform or the commuter rail platform, but one of the two.  My father would likely know, this is largely unchanged from when we was there during World War II.  If you dig around you might even find a cigarette but he dropped in 1945.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

From John at 

Well I Never

25  fascinating facts about me
  1. I have been to 48  US states, and 11 countries 
  2. I am well into my second career
  3. In 1989 I took part in the US National Sprint Triathlon Championship 
  4. I kissed a girl in the first grade 
  5. I have earned two college degrees with honors (BA and JD)
  6. I failed the first grade 
  7. I married a woman once - it didn't work well for either of us 
  8. I have been to the Disney Parks in Florida over 100 times 
  9. I toured EPCOT when it was under construction and was a guest at a pre-opening party
  10. I once had tea with the Archbishop of Canterbury 
  11. I tried to learn how to fly as a teenager - never mastered the landings
  12. I have touched the Liberty Bell 
  13. I photographed Ronald Reagan 
  14. I have been a licensed Real Estate Broker since 1980
  15. I sold three houses on New Year's Eve in 1988
  16. I am mildly dyslectic 
  17. I learned to read without learning how to spell (16 and 17 are related.) 
  18. I recently had a huge Schwannoma removed from my spine 
  19. I have owned 15 cars (I only regret parting with one of them.) 
  20. I am moved to tears by the recording of the first manned landing on the moon, I remember where I was when it happened 
  21. I was just across the river from the Space Center for the first Space Shuttle launch 
  22. I am ill prepared for retirement 
  23. I regret most,the opportunities I passed on, not the risks I have taken 
  24. I am going to ride a Zeppelin later this year 
  25. I have touched a moon rock 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building is a standout landmark building, a real symbol of New York City.  It is easy to pick it out of the crowded skyline, the first time I saw it was from 38,000 feet headed to London.  This is the ground floor elevator lobby, ornate and detailed, a masterpiece of art-deco, I did go to the top, I forget how long the wait was, but it was longer then I wanted to stand.  I will go back.  

Thursday, July 09, 2015


I have long wanted to own something like this.  A car that moves in elegance, and comfort, that makes a statement.  But alas most of what we own, is transportation.  I am amazed when I look at the collector car market at the outrageous prices people are paying for common cars built in the 60's and 70's, while the market for true classics is languishing.  You can buy this Bentley for less then the price of a 1960's Chevelle, the Bentley was built to endure as elegant transportation.  Lets face it the American cars of the 1960's and 70's were throw away cars, designed and built to start falling apart as soon as the warranty expired.  I am a throw back to the past, I like my elegant luxury.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

I am ready for my closeup!

A couple of times a year I get an opportunity to indulge in my agrarian roots.  I like farms, and farm animals.  I grew up in the middle of farm land, now we were not real farmers, bees are kind of hard to herd, but there were herds of cows, and pigs and flocks of chickens, ducks and turkeys around. Occasionally neighboring farmers would plant wheat or corn in the couple of tillable fields on the farm, for a decade there was five acres of alfalfa in the  back corner of the biggest field.  I like the look of crops growing, all the neat rows, the maturing, the abundance of grain.

I have driven a tractor a few times, kind of fun, the first time was a monster four wheel drive machine, capable of tilling 100 acres in a day.  There was a time when I thought I wanted 10 acres in the country with room for pigs and chickens, but farming is hard manual labor.  I don't do manual labor.  But I can admire a nice farm, when I travel I am always on the lookout for a farm, or country fair.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, I have been there twice, the first time was 15 minutes on the US side only, the second time we stayed on the Canadian side overnight.  I remember two things on the hotel, the doorman mistook my wombat for a beaver (a stuffed wombat who was traveling with us that summer) and the hotel had "free wired internet access" but the free didn't include the cable.  They wanted to charge $15 to "rent" a cable overnight.  Silly.

Travel Penguin was rather taken by all of the wonderful water, fortunately he didn't dive in.  I have fished him out of the Mediterranean, and a gator infested swamps in Florida, but I don't think I could get him out of this, he'd wash up in Niagara by the Lake, sipping Ice Wine no doubt.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Back to the World of the Living

We met friends for lunch Sunday afternoon in Old Town Alexandria.  It was nice to be out among the crowd.  Monday morning I am headed back to the office for the first time in two months.  I am looking forward to getting my bearings, figuring out my calendar and sorting through email.  Two graduate student interns that I recruited started in May, I get to see them at work, one of them I interviewed over the phone and have never met (I understand she likes to talk more than I do.) Then I will start looking at my projects and figuring out what has happened to them over the past two months and what needs to be done next.  I have a conference call to reschedule - a key person is on vacation and he didn't want to reschedule it before he left (sent me a text message asking me to.)  I need to verify that HR and the extended medical leave insurance company know that I an still alive and coming back to work.

For a couple of weeks I expect that my health will be the center of a lot of conversations, I am looking forward to that not being so. I am slowly returning to the world of the living.

What have I learned:
1) You never know when you won't be back tomorrow.
2) Don't assume that you know what is happening in your body
3) Most of the people in healthcare are there for you
4) Healing sometimes hurts
5) To move forward, sometimes you have to push
6) Some things take time

Sunday, July 05, 2015

South Pacific

When I was a child, my mother had a couple of LPs of show tunes, Oklahoma and South Pacific.  As a tween and teen I listened to them endlessly.  I can still remember the lyrics of many of the songs.  We lived out in the middle of no-where, I never dreamed that I would see any of the shows.  So after the "Wind Comes Sweeping Across the Plains," my brain goes to Happy Talk.  I have see the movie version of South Pacific a few times and saw it live in "dinner theater" once in Florida  The most memorable line in "stingy bastard - stingy bastard."  My X used that line to describe me for weeks after that evening.  I kind of liked it.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Back Into the City

The dome of the capital is shrouded in scaffolding, repairing the cast iron for the first time in well over 100 years.  It is getting a newly extended life, I know the feeling, I was back in the City this week.  I am newly repaired, still coming back up to strength.  I attended a large meeting, with representatives of lots of organizations that work in the field.  I really felt it was important that I be there.  The rumor mill has been talking about me, how repairable was I, would I ever be back, could my priorities and points of view be discounted?  Guess what, I am back and getting stronger everyday.  Like the dome of the Capital, I am am better then before and ready for many years to come.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

TBT - The Castro

This was taken sometime in the past 15 years, before digital - so between 10 and 15 years ago, on Castro Street in San Francisco.  For a gay man, going the Castro is a bit of a pilgrimage. There are interesting shops, restaurants, and bars. I am not much for bars and I have never gone to the Castro at night.  From Union Square you can hop a street car out Market Street to the end of the line less then a block from Castro Street.  A great way to visit.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Back to Meeting Land

I am about to dive back into the land of endless meetings, emails and phone calls.  I have been doing a few conference calls from home, frankly I am better organizing calls from at from home, then some people are at their offices.  Wednesday I am headed into the City to attend a meeting.  It is an important one, and will be the first official work function since early May. Meeting with an assistant cabinet Secretary about the future of the project that funds most of my work. If she does not have the Presidents phone number, her boss does.

I once watched a training video titled, "Meetings, More Bloody Meetings," produced by John Cleese.  After Faulty Towers, he went on to produce office training videos for a few years.  They were rather interesting. My office email disappeared from my phone a week ago. It was suppose to go in May when I went on extended paid medical leave, but somehow, they didn't kill my phone access.  As a result I have stayed in contact with what was happening, until last week.  The only ugly part of that is my calendar was also wiped off my phone, I only keep one calendar, and it is gone. The first week I was in the hospital, I billed 30 hours of work, all done on my cell phone.  I have joined meetings by conference calls from the car, the beach, mom's house, not a bad way to make a living. I have responded to office email from interesting locations, a cruise ship off the coast of Alaska, I think my all time favorite response to an office email started out as follows, "I am having lunch in Brussels and have a moment to respond."  That is dedication - or insanity.  There is a fine line between the two.