Monday, February 29, 2016

The Queen Is In

Can we invite the Queen to oversee your government?  I know 240 years ago we rather rudely told her ancestors to go away and leave us alone, we thought we could govern ourselves just fine.  But at the moment I am not so sure we can.  Congress is a dysfunctional mess, I don't think they could agree that the sun rises in the east and sets the west, they would be more likely to appropriate $1,000,000 for someone to study it.

We have a presidential election coming up, if you ever wanted to be President, change your name to None of the Above and get yourself on the ballot.  The choices are bleak, the only good news is that the President can't cause much trouble as long as Congress is screwed up and that mess is likely to continue.

Our government is caught in a huge game of, if it is not my idea, it can't be a good idea.  Maybe the Queen could tell them what is a good idea, and tell them if they expect their New Year's honors, she expects them to do the right thing.  Maybe she can withhold their tea, until they learn to work together.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Travel Truths and Tall Tales

Travel is a great adventure and I love telling tales of my travels.  Here are five, four are absolutely true, one is a tall tale - actually something a friend of mine once did (wish it was me?) Which one is not true?

What do we really know about one another, we read each other's blogs, but there is more to each of us than our blog content.  So this year I am going to try to create a meme, or list of questions of the week. If you like the questions, feel free to copy and paste the questions onto your blog, and please link back to  Let me know in the comments how to find your blog and your answers. 

1: We went to Paris for Christmas one year.  I cashed in a pile of frequent flyer miles for two seats on Air France and booked a hotel near the Eiffel Tower for a week.  We wandered the back streets of Paris, visited museums and had Christmas Dinner at Altitude 95 on the Eiffel Tower.  Dinner was a great victory, I out pouted the maitre'd, and got seated without reservations. 

2: I have been to the south rim of the Grand Canyon four times.  It still amazes me to suddenly come across such a vast hole in the earth. Every time the clouds move over the canyon the view changes. Back in the mid 1960's we were having dinner in the dinning room at the Bright Angel Lodge and astronauts were seated just across the room.  They were studying geology in the canyon in preparation for the moon.  

3: I was in Cuba once.  It is a long story, I was changing planes coming home and my flight was canceled - the next flight was in 24 hours.  The airline had a flight leaving in an hour for Havana and a return the next day a couple of hours before my new flight home.  All cash, no records, don't tell anyone and no one will ever know.  Amazing place, I can't wait to go back.  

4: I once attended a tea party hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. I was attending a conference at Oxford, really just hanging out while Hubby hob-nobbed with his fellow wizards, but because I was staying "in college" I was registered for the conference. The opening reception for the conference was a tea party in the Rose Garden at Christ Church hosted by the Archbishop. 

5: I once spent and afternoon driving a massive four-wheel drive "Stiger" tractor working the soil in a 640 acre wheat field in Colorado.  It was great fun, comfy with air conditioning and a killer sound system.   

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Farm Dreams

I was raised in the country, surrounded by farms.  I love farms.  For a long time I dreamed of moving to a few acres and having pigs and chickens and ducks,  a big garden  - the full Good Neighbors self sufficiency vision.  Funny I never lived that.  My Grandmother raised a nice garden, and did some home canning and pickling, something I am prone to do when I get into a nesting mood.  But the last of the chickens left farm before I was born.  My parents were not much for gardening and my mother never trusted her canning skills.

It is a fun vision, a self sufficient mini farm.  It is also a huge amount of physical work.  I am long past wanting to do that much physical work.  It might be fun if I could employ a couple of "farm-boys" to do the work, while J and I watched and supervised.  I could do that.  Probably cost me $150,000 a year to hire the labor to support the self sufficiency dream.  When pigs sprout wings and fly.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Customer Service

Three fascinating customer service experiences this week.

I went to Starbucks near my office to grab a bottle of water.  I looked in and there was only one customer at the counter and 4 people employed behind the counter. I should be in and out in a minute, or maybe not - this is Starbucks after all, not the most refined service delivery system.  I picked a bottle up and stepped the cash register and waited,  The young man working the register seemed to be frozen in fear, he consulted with all three of his colleagues, and did nothing.  The reason, the customer in front of me had handed him a $100 bill.  He didn't know what to do, and none of his colleagues seemed to understand why he was standing there like a deer in the headlights.  He didn't have enough change in the drawer to give change for the $100 bill.  No one seemed to know what to do, they comped her order and gave her back the $100 bill.  In the mean time I have stood there for five minutes, with no one acknowledging my presence.  I paid for my $2 bottle of water and left.  The issue was they had to many people employed, and no one working.  I wanted to scream, THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN A RETAIL BUSINESS, IS THE PERSON STANDING THERE TRYING TO PAY FOR YOUR PRODUCT.  I would have been rude if I had said it, I can get ugly when I am angry.  Retail is all about service - and that requires putting the person across the counter first.

My home phone rang, yes I still have a landline at home.  It comes in handy for long calls.  Sorry, but my smart phone is really terrible at being a phone.  It is hard to hear, hard to hold.  So I make the mistake of answering my phone.  They are calling on behalf of a home cleaning service.  I ask, "do I have an existing business relationship with the business you are calling for?"  Her answer is "you must have."  I ask her to explain to me who the business is and when I have done business with them, to which she says "you are asking to many questions.  Okay!  I continue, that my number is on the Federal No Call list and if she can't tell me about the existing business relationship she is calling in violation of Federal law.  She does not like that, it gets worse, she tells me I am lying, if my name was on the do not call list she would not be calling.  I demand to know who she is and who she works for and she hangs up.  I am not George Washington, but I don't like being called a lair. I am a lawyer - not a liar.  I should sue!

Some silly study announced this week says that the Washington Metropolitan Transit System is the best in the country.  The story was just below the article about the teenage wanna be thugs shooting someone on a subway platform the day before.  Most likely the victim refused to pay for drugs.  Interestingly on my way home that day the attitude of the train operator seemed to be buoyed news - the news about being the best in the nation, not the news about the shooting.  He was very perky in his announcements and thanked us at the end of the line for riding the Number One Public Transit system in America.  God, I wonder what the worst public transit system is like.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Breaking Through

Saturday and Sunday, I had really good workouts, maybe even a break through.  I turned up the intensity level on the elliptical trainer, on Sunday I broke the best sweat I have have on a workout in years.  I added an extra 15 minutes of low intensity treadmill or stationary bike to my 30 minutes of intense work.  I remember my running days, the feeling that settled in after the first half-mile or so - I was feeling that on Sunday.

I ran for about 10 years, 15 to 25 miles per week.  I was addicted to it.  If I missed a couple of days, I suffered withdrawal.  I had to force myself to take a day off every few days.  I don't know as I want to get back to that level, but it feels good to feel good moving.  I really felt like I am breaking back through the sedentary barrier.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Grumpy Rants

Random Rants:
I read this last week that Delta had a four hour flight diverted because of bad weather - twice - that took 30 hours to reach it's destination.  It is difficult when that happens, but it happens, been there - done that.  One of the passengers was complaining to the newspaper, that the airline had not responded to her demand on TWITTER for compensation.  On TWITTER!!!  What a twit, how stupid can she be, that is not how this works, it just is not how any of this works.

I went all lawyer on an old friend recently.  It is about attitude, life is not something that the outside imposes on you, it is about the reality of what happens in your being, your body, your mind, and how you respond to it. Man-up and take responsibility for your life, it is not something the outside has imposed on you, it is, what it is, and how you have coped with it.

I didn't lose any weight last week. I skipped a couple of treadmill sessions when I was traveling, indulged in tasty foods and late night snacks a few times.  It was all stuff within my control, I have to remind myself why I want to take control of what I do.  I am not fat because of the actions of others, I am because of choices I have made over the past decade, take responsibility - take control.

One of the earliest lessons that I remember learning from my father is that "life is not fair."  Luck does not reward those who need it or deserve it, luck falls to those who take chances and are there.  I am less likely to win the lottery, because I seldom buy lottery tickets (and the odds of winning are very small.) People don't win or lose based on need or being deserving.  You can increase your odds of winning, but luck has nothing to do with worthiness or need.

Jealousy is a wasted emotion.  Others have options and opportunities that are different than mine, good for them.  All I can control is what I have done with what I have to work with.  If I do the best I can with my talents and abilities - I have had a good life.  (There is a rant hidden in there about irritating jealousy - I tire of reading it.)  Poor little me, is not an attractive attitude.

This one relates back to the Power Ball jackpot being $1.5-billion - was a comment I posted and then deleted. The odds of winning the Power Ball are the same for every ticket that is sold (about 150,000,000 to 1.)  Buying more than one ticket does not increase your odds of winning on a single combination of numbers.  If the winning combination could only be sold once, then the odds get better for you with the more combinations you owned, but under the lottery system that allows the same combination to be sold an unlimited times, the odds of winning on any ticket remain the same.  The lottery is really a sucker bet, consider it money spent (or lost) when you buy the ticket.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Tall Tales

I have become boring, maybe it is age, maybe it is working in a conservative professional environment, but I am boring.  I am or at least I use to be a teller of tall tales.  I like to stretch the truth, twist the facts, embellish the details so that fact and faction kind of merge.  And I don't do this anymore.  I kind of miss it, it can be fun.

Maybe for next week's Sunday meme, I will try a list of five things, four of them true and one not so true, and see if you can find the tall tale.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Oh My!

A picture is worth a thousand words.  The gator wasn't talking.  He was hatched in captivity and was one of the "lucky" ones chosen to play with the tourists - I wonder if he thinks he is lucky.

This was taken between 1992 and 1995 - 20+ years and I won't say how many pounds ago.  I bet the gator has gained more weight than I have.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


What do we really know about one another, we read each other's blogs, but there is more to each of us than our blog content.  So this year I am going to try to create a meme, or list of questions of the week. If you like the questions, feel free to copy and paste the questions onto your blog, and please link back to  Let me know in the comments how to find your blog and your answers. 

Five questions about wheels, cars and otherwise.

1) What was the first car you owned? 
          1972 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royal Coupe 

2) How many cars and trucks have you owned?
           15, Oldsmobile 88, Oldsmobile 88, Oldsmobile Cutlas, VW Rabbit Diesel, Renault, Toyota, Toyota, Mazda, Honda Civic, 1990 Honda Accord, 1992 Honda Accord, 1994Honda Accord, Saturn, Cadillac, Mazda. 

3) Have you ever ridden a motorcycle? 
            Yes, around the block a few times.  I liked it. 

4) When was the last time you rode a bicycle? 
            Within the last month.

5) Uni-Cycles - cool or beyond strange? 
             Beyond strange. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Stocking Up

I enjoy a little bourbon, good stuff no rubbish.  Owning a home in Kentucky, where most of the good stuff is made, I grew accustomed to being able to buy rare, hard to find, single barrel and small batch bourbons.  I can buy some of them in the DC area, for twice the price.  Some of them I can't find in DC for any price.  So when I go to Kentucky, I try to stock up.  I was in Kentucky for Valentines / Presidents day weekend and I went shopping / stocking.  I visited 5 distilleries and Liquor Barn.  The yield was 9 bottles of 8 different bourbons, two different bourbon creams, and four bottles of America's best Vodka (Wheatly.)

I was last in Kentucky 16 months ago.  I stocked up the last time I was there.  I was down to my last bottle.This stock up will last for a while.

The 1792 is from Barton in Bardstown. The name is a tribute to the year that Kentucky became a state.  It is a blend of select very old barrels.  Very smooth, It has a noticeable spice, Notes of flowers, vanilla, and a little wood in the after taste.  Very nice.  Very drinkable.  There will be a few more reviews from this haul.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Barrel House Distilling

This just might be the smallest still in use in a licensed distillery in the USA.  It is a very traditional pot still, it holds about 150 gallons, yielding about 15 gallons of usable distillate per run, and is in use at Barrel House Distilling in Lexington, Kentucky.  They produce a high quality vodka, a couple of rums (the oak aged golden is very good), a "moonshine" un-aged corn whiskey and they have just started releasing bourbon in very small quantities.  They were out of Bourbon when I was there last weekend.

The distillery is located in a building that was a major distillery that never really recovered after prohibition. The tour is fun and simple.  The entire operation is in one building, just three rooms.  You can get up close and personal with the process and the people. They offer tasting and sales.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

What Makes Me Look Up

I have a wonderful morning commute, I ride the subway train into DC from the south each morning and out of the city every afternoon.  I read a lot on the ride, but there are a couple of spots that I almost always look up for.  The train moves through Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, I almost always look up to see the planes landing and taking off and to see how many and what kind of private jets are down at the general aviation terminal (south end of hanger row.)  Just south of there where the train crosses "Five Mile Run" I check the tide.  I also look up when the train crosses over the Potomac River, looking north into the city I can see the Capital on the east, the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument to the west.  I also like the view of the river.

Finding a pretty view on my commute is a long term pattern.  When I lived in Lexington, I would drive across through town to get a view of the tall buildings.  When I lived in Orlando I liked working projects in Oviedo, I would go west out of town toward Tuscawilla, the old road was rolling and lined with wonderful trees.  It was out of my way, but very relaxing.

When I look up and look around, it is amazing what I see. What makes you look up in your daily commute?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

$hit My Father Use-to-Say

It took me a long time to figure out why my mother would say "Oh George!", when my father would say, "Never run after a streetcar or a woman, there will be another one along in a minute."  They have been married 67 or 68 years.

"Wish in one hand and shit in the other one, and see which one gets full first."  Glad I never took that bit of advice.

Home is where I hang my hat, and I don't wear a hat anymore. Gee I have never worn a hat.

When traveling, pack half as many clothes and twice as much money. I pack less and less the more I travel.

The hardest part of the gas tank to fill, is the very bottom.  I have never run out of gas, he made it clear he would not rescue me if I did.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Where is Home?

So I spent the weekend in "the other house," I have been in DC for 7 years, but other than my clothes, I never really moved out of the house in Lexington.  I come back, and except for the closet being empty it is like I never left.   J jokes that he wants to keep it like was I was alive.

I have lived in 5 states, owned 5 homes over the past 33 years (and rented a couple of apartments.)  Where is home brings a complicated answer, additionally complicated by having had to homes for the past 7 years.  My father use to joke that home is where he hangs his hat, and he doesn't wear a hat anymore, so he is not sure where home is.  (I have started a list of $hit my father use to say.)

I am easily at home where I am.  It is common for me to visit someplace and think, I could live here.  Not everyplace, I don't think I would be happy in Iowa, or Mississippi.  But much of the country.  It takes a few months for me to settle in, figure out where to shop, what the local specialties are, where the best views are, then I am home.  Happiness is an inside deal, it is something I bring with me, not the result of my surroundings,  Home is where the happiness is, and I can be happy "almost" anyplace.

Monday, February 15, 2016

On the Bourbon Trail

Peter Cottontail might be hopping down the bunny trail, but I was out exploring the Bourbon trail.  Kentucky has finally realized that distilleries  make good tourist attractions, especially if the distilleries are allowed to sample and sell their products onsite.  There has been a huge expansion in the number of distilleries that offer tours.  Many have built new visitors centers and updated production facilities.  The tours are no longer just a peak into an agricultural industrial chemistry workshop,  the tours show the production process with lots of gleaming stainless steel and copper.

We visited Willett's near Bardstown Kentucky.  I like Willett's pot still reserve, it is very smooth and has a mild flavor like a wheated bourbon (it is not, they are aging their first wheated bourbon for release in a few years. ) We arrived in time for the noon tour on a very cold Saturday morning and were told they were sold out, they had one spot available on the last tour at 4:00 PM.  Sorry!  As I explained this to Jay, the women standing next to me said, "we have three people stuck in traffic trying to get here, I can give you two spots on the noon tour."  She handed me the tickets, I paid her for them ($10 a head.)  It is a nice tour, starting with the scale room and mill, then the fermentation room (top picture) and the pot still.  They use a two step distillation process, the first step is in a column still in a confined space that is not part of the tour, then one to three trips through the pot still.  This is a modified pot still with column plates in the riser.  From there you walk across to the barreling room, and then into an aging warehouse.  It is larger than a craft distillery, and smaller than the industrial operations. The aging capacity is about 48,000 barrels, that sounds like a lot, but all of it would fit inside on of the new barrel houses at Heaven Hill across the street. They produce half-a-dozen varieties with differing mash bills (grain mixtures.)  Where ever a barrel is placed in the aging warehouse, is where it sits for it's life, they don't rotated like a lot of larger distilleries do.

The entrance to Willett's is just past Heaven Hill, on the left.  You can't see the buildings from the road, the entrance drive is steep, winding, tree lined and unpaved.  If you think you have made a wrong turn, you are probably on the right road, follow the signs. it is worth it when you get to the top of the hill.

There are two onsite sales exclusives.  A single barrel rye and a jumbo 1.75 liter bottle of the pot still reserve.  I am not a big rye fan, the big bottle will be a little cumbersome to pour from.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Love and Sex on Valentines Day

What do we really know about one another, we read each other's blogs, but there is more to each of us than our blog content.  So this year I am going to try to create a meme, or list of questions of the week. If you like the questions, feel free to copy and paste the questions onto your blog, and please link back to  Let me know in the comments how to find your blog and your answers. 

Five questions about love and sex on Valentines Day 

1) Are you in Love with anyone at the moment? 
            My sweet husband! 
2) Have you ever had sex with someone you were not in love with? 
            Yes, I was young and lust filled once - a long-long-long time ago 
3) Ever bought sexy undies for you beloved? 
             No, odd to, I am the one who says the routine things in life, need not be boring. I like nice underwear. 
4) Ever received a sex toy as a gift? 
             Yes, enough said. 
5) Ever checked into a hotel, just to have sex? 
              No, never cheated either 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Justice Scalia is dead

I am still trying to figure out how I feel about the death of Justice Scalia.  

I met Justice Scalia at a fund raiser for my law school a few years ago.  He had a sharp mind, and sense of humor.  He knew how to write legal opinions that were entertaining and informative. A few year's ago he co-authored a great book on legal writing, I recall publishing a glowing review of the book.  He talked of a deep commitment to original intent in interpreting the Constitution, that he stuck to - when it supported his views. Not always.  

He was always good for interesting questions in oral arguments.  He and Justice Thomas passed notes and whispered to one another during open court.  The Court will not be the same without him. 

I seldom agreed with Scalia's point of view on social issues.  I could agree with him on contract, property and criminal law. My gut reaction when I heard of his death was not polite - not kind.  I will let that pass without being said, and say that the Court will not be the same without him.  May the future move to the middle. 

Wishing I was There, Thankful I am here

It is the dead of winter, time to day dream about the beach.  Fearsome posted a wonderful picture of the beach in sunny Florida, my immediate reaction was to say, Wish I was there. Then he went onto to talk about how much he has to be thankful for.

Being here, staying warm on a cold winter day, I am thankful to be here.  I am relatively well, I am moving well, I am able to live independently, I have a good job, doing work I enjoy, I have a comfortable safe home (or two,)  a reliable car, access to good mass transit, good health insurance and access to good doctors.  I have a lot to be thankful for. Some say, any day above the sod, is a good day.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

February 12 on 12

Underway very early
How early was it?
How cold was it?
Into the mountains with the rising sun

I drove in snow flurries at higher elevations for a couple of hours
West Virginia State Capital

Early check in - Thank You Holiday Inn Express

It is Thursday, I owe myself 30 minutes of treadmill time

I nice afternoon power nap
Waiting for Tim

I should have had another, at $4.95 I really should have

I have known Tim for over 20 years, time flies when you are having fun
Waiting for a call from the sweet bear

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Icelandic Snaps

I saw the description of this on the internet and couldn't resist.  It is a liqueur made in Iceland and flavored with Burch.  Yes, Burch as in in sprouts from a tree.  The base is fermented and distilled in Iceland, it was unclear what starch is used.  Then the herbs from the trees are infused, it is aged and bottled.  It is interesting, herbal, kind of strong, and unique.  If you are passing through the airport at Keflak you can buy it in the duty free shop.  Interesting stuff.  Yes , I would buy it again.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Origin and Destiny

I was having a conversation the other day with two law students about family background and how it impacts what we do in life.  There was an interesting contrast between the two students, Tom is the son of two doctors with successful careers.  Tom went directly from high school, into undergrad, and from there to a top law school and will finish without student loans. Everyone expected Tom to accomplish much in life. Sam described his parents as 'addicts,"he was in and out of his mother's home, landing in foster care before he turned 10.  No expected Sam to finish high school, most predicted he would follow his father's footsteps into petty drugs crimes and prison - it was what happened to kids like him in the neighborhood he grew up in.  Tom & Sam are classmates at the same top law school.

Where we come from shapes our lives.  Our origins shape how we view the world, how we understand people and the conditions of life.  A person who has never known poverty will never have the same understanding of living in poverty, the way a person who has lived it will.  A person who grew up in poverty, will never truly understand the privileges available to those who were born into it.  

But origin is not destiny.  Where we come from shapes our view of the world, but where we go from there is the destiny of our lives.  Both Tom and Sam choose to make the most of the talents they have to work with.  Both have done well academically, both have promising careers ahead.  Sam described his decision to not use his origins as an excuse or crutch for not making the most of what he has to work with.  Both will do well, not because of where they came, but because of what they did with the talents and abilities they have to work with.  But they will always see the human condition a little differently based on where they cam from.

The house I was raised in is still 1.5 miles from the nearest paved road.  My mother finished high school, my father dropped out to work and passed the GED after I finished high school (he is a bright man.) My family origins are farmers and factory workers.  None of grandparents finished school, one grandfathers dropped out to farm after the 4th grade.  My view of the world is shaped by my origin, but origin is not destiny.  I was the first in the family to finish a college degree then I went onto finish law school. I love farms, but I prefer to live in a real city.  I understand farmers, the struggles and joys of farming.  I understand the uncertain economic life of a farmer.  But, I don't choose to live that life.

Throughout life I have asked myself, am I making the most of what I have to work with?

Tuesday, February 09, 2016


It is archive and shred time. Once a year I go through my files, put into storage anything over a few months old and shred things I have no reason to keep. I  keep a few months worth of statements,  but only a few. I don't know why, habit I guess.

This gets me ready to do taxes.  I will work on those soon. Our first joint returns, complicated by earned income in two different states.

This year I also had a huge stack of medical stuff, all ready to be filed. I need to keep some of it for the complex history.   Interesting looking back through it. It was an interesting year. 

Monday, February 08, 2016

Honig Schnapsle

I haven't done a booze review in a while.  I bought this one from a bee keeper at a farmers market in Germany last August.  The honey used in making it was from his bees.  To say it is sweet is an understatement.  It is syrupy, thick and tastes of honey.  Kind of unique.  Glad I bought it, I wouldn't buy it again.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Monuments and Memorials Meme

What do we really know about one another, we read each other's blogs, but there is more to each of us than our blog content.  So this year I am going to try to create a meme, or list of questions of the week. If you like the questions, feel free to copy and paste the questions onto your blog, and please link back to  Let me know in the comments how to find your blog and your answers. 

DC is a city filled with monuments and memorials, tributes to heroes, and leaders and people who simply did their jobs - jobs that hold a place in history.  So this week, we will explore Monuments and Memorials.  

1) Who is your favorite dead political leader and why? 
              Thomas Jefferson, he valued knowledge and experience. 

2) What is your favorite Monument or Memorial in the world and why? 
               Arc De Triomphe in Paris, the placement sets this one apart

3) What Monument or Memorial worldwide have you found most moving? 
               Normandy American Cemetery, in Colleville-sur-Mer, France - it really brings home the gravity of the sacrifice. 

4) Marble, Granite, Limestone, Bronze, what is the best material for a Monument? 
               Marble, I am a traditionalist 

5) When a monument is erected in your honor, what will it say about you? 
                I was an adventurer - but boring most of the time 

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Making Plans - Finishing Plans

Making plans for upcoming travels, a trip to see the Sweet Bear in the other house, a conference in Denver, if anyone ever tells me when I am on the agenda a conference in Chicago.  Oh and I need to start filling in hotels in Italy - soon.

We finally finished the car trade today.  Wait a minute you say, the new arrival came in back in October.  Yes, how true, the issue was the sale of the previous car.  This was kind of a special car, a cute little Mercedes, 12 years old, with fewer than 50,000 miles.  The dealer gave us a trade in offer and said, if you can sell it for more, feel free to do so.  We mentioned it to a few friends and one readily agreed to buy it for more than the dealers' offer. Great for us and a good buy for her.  Only one little issue, she didn't have a drivers license - meaning she couldn't get insurance- meaning we couldn't transfer the car to her.  But she wanted the car, and we needed the cash to complete the purchase of the new car, so last April we drafted a contract and she paid for the car - saying we could keep it and drive it through the summer.  She would get a drivers license over the summer, then she was invited to teach in Asia, and then do research in Italy and summer came and went and she didn't have a drivers license. No problem, we parked the car in her garage on the assurance she would get a license soon.  Well soon, turned into this week.  The car is now hers.  Oh, now someone needs to teach her to drive a manual transmission - neither of us are up for that.

Friday, February 05, 2016


I am so happy, I posted about politics and religion, and I didn't get flamed.  I was wearing my fireproof undies and hanging on for an attack.  Joy - Joy-Joy!


My first doctor was a country doc, sort of a medical missionary in very rural Michigan.  He did a little of everything, a lot of it based on common sense tempered with a solid Medical education.  Most things he did well, some things he didn't.  He didn't have access to the best of diagnostics, and didn't always refer for assessment when he should have.  But he meant well, and for the most part did well.

He was one of the last to give up reusable needles and go to modern disposables.  He had a point on cost and waste, but the new technology had smaller and sharper needles.  I don't think there were any doctors from my high school class, two veterinarians.  If I had known then, what I know now, I think I would have enjoyed Medical school.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Separation of Church and State

US Constitution

Amendment I

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." 

Every election year, religion seems to become a hot topic.  We have a bunch of politicians who think that you to be elected, to be a trusted American, you MUST agree with them on religion. Some claim that the US was founded as a "Christian" nation - an example of one of the failures of our educational system.  
The first European colonists fell into two broad groups, those fleeing religious persecution and those seeking economic opportunity. 
Most countries in Europe had an official state religion.  England had forcibly changed religions from Catholic to a newly created Anglican Church of England (Episcopal) at the whims of the King's failed love life. Changing state religions caused massive social and economic chaos. This carried over the British colonies, being Catholic was illegal in Virginia for many years.  It was easier to practice Judaism in Virginia, than to be Catholic.  
The first Amendment was designed to eliminate this. We don't have, and never should have a connection between religion and government.  The government can't endorse, or favor one religion over another.  Government money can not be spent on religious purposes.  Religious entities can receive government funding for educational or social programs, but they can't require participation in religious activities as a condition of participating the social or educational programs. This is a fine line - a difficult balance.  Faith based organizations educate and help millions of people everyday, to do this with government funding, they must make sure that persons of all faiths and persons with no faith, feel equally welcome.  If they focus on doing good things, helping people, this can be done.  
The free exercise language also assures freedom to not practice a religion.  Very early in colonization, people fleeing religion came the Americas, some because they chose not to practice a religion, others who came merely seeking economic opportunity.  

We are as much a country built on freedom from religion as we are a country built on religion.  

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Being Selfish

I had a long hard week.  Actually two weeks.  As a mentioned my primary funder asked for a concept paper on a rather large project and I have been busy trying to assure that my hat is in the ring on that project (better my hat in the ring than my head on the line.)  We also had a board meeting and I have attended three recruiting events for student interns.  I made a quick - shortened by the snow storm trip to California. I worked at home while the office was closed for the storm, and worked at home though a weekend, something I seldom do (I don't sleep in my office, I don't work at home.) But it needed to be done.  I am physically and emotionally exhausted . . . and it was my day to go to the gym.

I really didn't feel like going to the gym, my ass is dragging and it is time to go do my time on the elliptical or treadmill. My hair needs cutting, my toe nails need trimming, and it is time to go to the gym.  I feel like being selfish.  So I was, I went to the gym and did my 30 minutes on the elliptical machine.  Forget everything that I coulda, woulda, shoulda done, I have committed to myself to do this.  Four times per week, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, plus any extra days I want, I am going to go do what I want and need to do for myself.  The  Thursday I flew home from California, I was up just before 6:00 AM and down to the gym, before breakfast, before heading to the airport.  It need to have my selfish me time, and I did.  I am trying to be more conscious of my diet.  Smaller portions, lower fat options and less cheese.  It appears to be having some effect, I am down 9 pounds since the doctors office in early December.  But really, all this time for myself, I am so selfish - and you thought selfish was always a bad thing.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


Last week I went to California, for 40 hours.  I had intended to be there for a couple of days, but a blizzard delayed my outbound trip.  I was still able to be there for the essential business part of the trip, and the rest of the meetings could be squeezed in at the pool, over breakfast and Taco and Tequila Tuesdays' in the bar (and Whiskey Wednesday.)

There is no secret that winter here in the "cold cold north"* is not my season.  I welcome any obligation to go to work in warmer, sunnier climates at this time of the year.  And so here i am squinting in the later afternoon sun in Newport Beach, California.    I only wish I had been able to stay a little longer.

*-line from a Jimmy Buffet song

Monday, February 01, 2016

If a tree falls in the woods?

So a week ago the DC region was digging out from a blizzard.  We are still melting out, schools in my county start back this morning.  As I have mentioned, I HATE WINTER.  Last Tuesday I went from the top image, to the airport, to the image at the bottom.  Sunshine, palm trees and 72 degrees.  Ten minutes later I was lounging in the sun by the pool with friends.  Ah!  I understand why 10,000,000 people live between LA and San Diego.

But the trip was all work.  I sat by the pool and talked about work, followed by a two hour meeting in the bar talking about work over a Margarita or three.  The next day I was in a conference room, overlooking the pool all day for an Academy board meeting, followed another essential meeting in the bar.  Thursday morning was a breakfast meeting at 7:00 AM, followed by a full day of travel to get back to DC for a Friday board meeting.

It was all work, work in California,  If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?  If work occurs in paradise, is it still work?