Thursday, March 31, 2016

Travel in Uncertain Times

This is not a post card, I took this picture from the dome of St Peters in Rome, the last time I was there.  I am not planning to climb the dome again, but the view is fantastic.

In light of the terrorist activities in Paris and Brussels I have been asked, are you still planning to go to Europe this year?  The answer is a simple yes.  If I change my plans and don't go, the terrorists have won, and I am not going to let them win.  Short of tanks in the streets of Rome and Venice (that would be fun - bring you tanks to Venice - I'll still see the city while you try to swim) I am going.

Way back in January of 1991, Bush senior bombed Baghdad on a Wednesday night, and I flew to Europe on Friday night.  I didn't let the increased security risk stop me then, I am not going to let it stop me now.  Now back in 1991, it did dampen a lot of travelers enthusiasm, as I recall there were about 30 passengers on the 747 going out of Atlanta that night.  They seated us all in Business class and turned off the lights in the back of the bus. It was an infamous night in aviation, Eastern Airlines ceased operations that evening.

I will be careful, not spend time loitering in train stations and public areas of airports. It is a great excuse to avoid crowds, something I generally try to do anyway.  I am not staying in hotels likely to be used by American businesses or the government.

And yes I am going.  You should also.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Lower Gardens at Mt Vernon

As you approach the Mansion at Mt Vernon, the lower gardens are on the right, the upper gardens are on the left.  All records and archaeology indicate that the lower gardens were always "kitchen" gardens for the Mansion.  A mixture of fruits and vegetables, with two open pit wells for watering.  The lower garden also had cold frames for starting seeds.  The garden is surrounded by a brick fence. There are espaliered fruit trees along the wall and along the walkways making use of every square foot of space.

The records and archeology of the upper gardens is not as clear.  The green house or orangery was in the upper garden.  Over the past 100 years the upper garden was planted as a fussy English formal garden of flowers and ornamental plants, until the past few years.  Archeological excavations revealed that while laid out as a formal English Garden, in Washington's day it was a mix of flowers, ornamentals and kitchen garden.  There are indications of fruit and nut trees as well.  It has been replanted in a manner more consistent with what it would have been in the late 1700's.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spring at Mt Vernon

Mt Vernon, George Washington's home is not far from where I live, in fact the land the condo is on was part of the Washington Estate 200+ years ago.  Some legends have it that Washington himself named this hill Mt Eagle. Because it is so close, I buy an annual membership and go often, my goal this year is to go at least once per month - the walk around the grounds is good exercise and every time I am out there I learn a little more about the first President and historic farming.  I am also very pleased with my improved ability to walk the grounds and climb the hill back from the lower farm, I can really feel the difference over the past five months.  

It is some what of a miracle that estate exists.  The estate passed through the Washington family for nearly 100 year's after his death, with much of the outlying farms being sold off.  The "Mansion" was is deep disrepair in middle 1800's and was bought by the Mt Vernon Ladies Association.  The Association owns and operates the estate.

In the Washington's time the estate operated as a fine estate, growing much of what they needed, and generating crops and other harvests for sale.  The farm raised cattle, hogs, fowl and of course sheep.  The historic farming operation has a wonderful flock of sheep, a handful of pigs, and a few cattle.  From time to time they have chickens, and the estate has been the final home of a few "Presidential Turkeys," the turkey growers give the current President a couple of very overgrown birds at the holiday time and most President's "pardon" the birds and send them off to die of a heart attack on a farm or in a zoo.  Most of them don't last long, they have been fattened to the point it is a wonder the stress from the cameras don't make them stroke out at the White House.

It is spring, so it is lambing season, a whole hilltop of fluffiness.

Monday, March 28, 2016


I know I have written about Willett distillery before, it is one of my favorites.  The top picture is the outside of the distillery building, it sets atop a hill just south of Bardstown.  The second picture is a bubbling mash tank fermenting away.  Distilleries have a lot of grain, being an old farm boy, I know that when you have grain, you have mice.  Someone mentioned the cat to our guide, she said the cats keep the mice under control.  The still is a modern hybrid pot still with a column top.  Aging is done a a cluster of rick houses.  Unique to Willett's the barrels spend their entire life where they are placed.  Bottling takes place in another building that was not open the day we were there.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Walk on the Wild Side

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: Do you now, or have you ever owned and worn an article of leather clothing other than a coat or shoes?  
Yes, and they don't fit any more! 

2: Have you ever been in an "adult toy store?" 

3: Have you ever been "tied up" like the nice young man above - just for the fun of it? 
No, never quite understood that one. 

4: Ever woken up in the morning and didn't know the name of the person you had slept with? 
I was young and crazy once, a very-very long time ago.  

5: Ever picked up a bear in a bar? 
Yes, and he called back and we lived happily ever after.  

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fun Week in the Big City

So it was a fun week in the big city.  There was a big conference in my field here in town this week.  I spoke on Monday - a good panel, we ended up with about 30 people in the audience.

I attended a plenary session on poverty and seniors.  It was astounding, 4 people with doctoral degrees to tell and audience of 2,000 people and the message was, poverty is bad, a lot of older people live in poverty, we should do something about that.  Well duhh, tell me something I don't know.

I was in a session on end of life health care - one of my favorite topics.  One of the speakers said we are really bad at predicting death, doctors only get it right about 10% of the time - forecasting death within 12 months.  She said after 35 years of studying it she has come to the conclusion that "breathing is an old habit and most people find it hard to break."  I love a speaker that can make us laugh about death.

It is tourist season in DC, the cherry trees are in bloom, the school trips are in season and Easter is this weekend.  And DC being DC, it may be tourist season but they don't issue hunting licenses.  Tourists on the subway at rush hour are the worst.  School ground are even worse, a group of 50 students all think that they need to get on and off through the same door.  I heard a train operator lecturing them that all of the doors go onto the same train and all of the train is going to the same place, at relatively the same time, spread out and use all of the doors.  Only once in the past year has a train split in half while traveling - opps - that is not suppose to happen.

Friday, March 25, 2016


I spent a delightful couple of days in Brussels about a decade ago.  I came and went by train, so I was not in the airport that was the scene devastation this week.  But I did ride the subway.  It is an easy system to use, in many ways the best way to get around the city.  The picture in the news this week of the subway car split open was shocking.

Brussels is a lovely old city.  The people were warm and welcoming, and incredibly peaceful.  I look forward to going back.

Terrorism is not religion.  It is evil and hatred, hatred of people who are different, hatred of outsider meddling.  Someone posted on Facebook, there are 1-billion Muslims in the world, if they wanted us dead - we would be.  The terrorists no more represent a religion,  than the Westboro nutters represent a religion.

I will keep traveling, keep the adventure alive, I have plans for this year, and I will make plans into the future.  If I stopped the terrorists have won.  I won't stop.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Really Good Stuff

About $350 per bottle

About $250

The Bourbon industry was dominated from the early 1960's through the turn of the century by low cost, low quality, barely drinkable mass produced junk.  Junk still dominates bar sales, with Jim Beam being a standard, Maker's Mark being a premium, Woodford Reserve being a super premium brand in the typical bar.  Beam and Maker's I won't use for cooking.  No wonder people say they don't like Bourbon, if these are the best they have had. Care in the mash bill, fermentation, distillation and especially aging produces super premiums that are smooth, complex and wonderfully drinkable.

Sometime in the 1990's the bourbon industry started to notice that super premium, single malt scotch was selling for supper premium prices in Asia.  A couple of master bourbon distillers dug around in their warehouses for old, very high quality barrels, created single barrel bottlings and offered them to distributors for the Asia market.  The success drove the industry to look at quality as a key to profit and good bourbon was created - likely saving the industry from it's self destructive focus on competing on price only.

Above are two super-premiums from Heaven Hill.  Now HH produces their fare share of cheap stuff, but they also produce super premiums.  Some are single barrels or small batch destined for the premium line from the start, others are selected barrels set aside for longer aging or special finishing.

Just up the road from Willets in Bardstown Kentucky Heaven Hill operates the Bourbon Heritage Center.   The center has a nice display on the history of bourbon making, tours and tasting. They also have retail sales.  Go online and make reservations, the tours and tastings sell out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Here comes the sun!

It is the time of the year, in the frozen tundra of the mid Atlantic region, when the occasional warm afternoon brings hope of summer's return.  The clouds thin and the sun peaks through, bringing back memories of elk burgers and fries on an outside terrace table overlooking a lake said to have some of the best fishing in Montana.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Personal Ramble

I need to ramble for a minute.  

I have mentioned over the past couple of years that my mother is a mess.  She has Parkinson's, and dementia.  A couple of years ago she fell and broke her leg, and was unable to relearn how to walk. The dementia made physical therapy impossible; therapy hurt and she couldn't understand why people were trying to hurt her. She is unable to transfer.  She lives in her own little world, increasingly unable to communicate. Beyond that she is comfortable and happy most of the time.  My sister and brother in law moved in and provide 24-hour a day in home care for my parents.  Bless them!  

My father had been sort of the rock, though he has grown increasingly frail over the past couple of years.  A couple of months ago he caught a cold, when the cough didn't go away after a couple of weeks, my sister forced him to see a doctor, two weeks later and still coughing they took him back and the doctor took X-rays.  The X-rays had some shadows and were sent off to a specialist and more tests. The diagnoses is a developing aortic aneurysm.  The only "treatment" is surgery and the surgery is brutal.  He declined.  The cough was worse last last week and my sister took him to the emergency room, they did a CT scan, and found a mass in his right lung.  He was referred to another specialist, who yesterday delivered a diagnosis of late stage lung cancer.  The doctor reviewed the diagnostic and treatment options and said, if I were you, I'd say no to all of it.  The best we can hope for with aggressive treatment is to ad a month or two to your life expectancy, and those would not be quality months.  My father says, no invasive diagnostics, no surgery, no chemo, no radiation. They are going to do another scan to get a better look and treat for quality of life.  It is going to be a challenging 6 to 12 months.  

My parents are 88, they have been married 67 years this month.  

Sorry, I needed to ramble.  


The magic of Ansel Adams black and white photos was the range of contrast, from the darkest black to the brightest white in the same image.  He called it the zone system, published books on the theory and taught workshops.  Adams also worked in color - even in Polaroid.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

Dream Ride

Way back in the 1960's there was a stupid sitcom where the next door neighbor was an older man who had one a Nobel Prize for something, and used the prize money to buy a Roll Royce.  I fell in love, still an unrequited love, I have yet to ride in a Rolls or Bentley.

I'd have to have a silly amount of money to own one, they are expensive to buy and very expensive to maintain.  You can buy and old one for an affordable price, but parts and labor are outrageous - a man who owned one spent an hour describing the $5,000 brake job. (That is not a typo, the brake pads were $2,000 - and his needed work on the pump system.)  He traded it on a Jeep when the brakes were stopping again.

But I would love to ride in one.  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

How Does Your's Work?

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. 

So How Does Your's Work:

1: Are you better solo or with a partner? 

2: Do you respond most to sight, sound, smell, taste, or touch? 

3: Do you want to hear about others? 

4: Which do you find more interesting fantasy or reality? 

5: Are you self motivated or do you do better with a little inspiration? 

My answers:
Get your mind out of the gutters people, how does your brain work. 
1: I am a soloist, I like to work alone.  Yes, you can let you mind back into the gutter there. 

2:  I am very visual, I do better if I see it, read it and hear it.  Adding the visual element makes a real difference for me.  Yeah, in that to - leave the lights on. 

3: I like hearing about others, tell me about your most interesting travel - and show me your travel pictures.  Tell me how much fun you had with whom - oh there I go back into the gutter again. 

4: I am into reality, I generally don't read fiction, or fantasy.  Reality is wild enough for me, especially if you know the right places to look. 

5:  I can go either way on this one.  I have planned and carried out some pretty wild escapades all on my own, I have also gone off to follow in the footsteps of inspiration.  I can go either way. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Foreign Travel Tips

I am comfortable getting outside of my comfort zone.  I look forward to exploring beyond the dollar, beyond the English speaking world, even beyond food and drink that I am familiar with.  Here are a few tips.

A few words in the local language will help drop barriers.   Being able to say Hi, please, thank you, I'd like, where is - will get you a long way.  Always carry a pen and small note pad, ask for directions, prices and such to written down.  Hand someone a pen and paper and they usually know what you want.

The dollar, is not readily accepted outside of the USA (or the Pound outside of Great Britain or the Euro outside of the Euro-zone - Switzerland for example as hubby discovered last summer - it was just across the lake and they didn't  take euros for a bottle of water.)  It helps to leave home with enough currency for your destination to get from the airport to the hotel and have lunch.  Nearly every bank can order foreign currency for you. Even paying the fee at your local bank, it is likely cheaper than exchanging at the airport or train station.  Don't forget local currency issues for any countries you are passing through - though credit cards will easily get you through a connection in Reykjavik or Moscow.  The best way to get local currency in most places is an ATM card.  Call your card issuer before you leave home and ask them to put a travel alert on your account.  Sometimes there is a fixed fee for an out of network withdrawal of $2-$3.  Because this is a flat fee you will save on fees if withdraw larger amounts few times.  Your bank can raise you daily withdrawal limit so you can draw the equivalent of $400 or $500 at a time. I usually only need to draw cash from an ATM about once per week when traveling. The cheapest way to buy foreign currency, is to buy it from a friend who has returned with currency for a country they don't expect to go back to anytime soon.
Avoid the street side currency exchange shops if at all possible, you will be overcharged no matter how many signs they have claiming the best rates or no commission. No one uses traveler's checks anymore.  No one.

Be careful about saying things in English, under the assumption that the local that just told you they don't speak English won't understand.  If you think the locals are rude, insult them and their national pride and you will learn a new level of rude.  There is a difference between understanding a language and feeling comfortable speaking it.  When I was Athens I went into a small religious article shop and asked to see something.  The lady replied that she didn't speak English, and she suggested German, Italian, Spanish, or French.  I switched to my terrible French, to which she replied, "oh crap, my English is better than you French", and we proceeded to work in English from there on. Looking back, she was not comfortable with her English, but when she realized I wanted to communicate, even in an imperfect use of a language, she would try and we did well. I still treasure an Icon I bought from her.  In most of western Europe, it is safe to assume that anyone under the age of 40, studied English in school, they may not speak it, but they will understand at least a little of it.

Try the local food and drink.  I have had snails in France, and whale in Iceland, Ouzo in Greece (don't like it,) and Grappa in Italy (good for the digestion - oh my the next morning I learned what the Italians mean by that.) I discovered Bretton Whiskey in France (and usually have a bottle on hand.) It is okay to pop into McDonald's once during the trip, but for the most part look for something good and local.  In major cities go 2-3 blocks off the beaten path to the places the locals go - the prices will be cheaper and often the food even better.  Splurge once in a while on something really special - I will never forget Christmas Dinner on the Eiffel Tower.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Any Place With Three Seasons?

It is no secret that I dislike winter.  For twenty years I lived in Florida with really just two seasons, hot and hotter. Every winter I question the sanity of moving back north, but we will do a lot for love and money, or love of money.

I have to admit I do like spring, the spring bloom, the return of warmth.  It is a rather nice time of the year.  I love summers, the long sunny warm days.  I like the autumn, the cooling of the days, the color of the trees.  Winter is the fly in the ointment for me.

All of this raises the question, is there anyplace with three seasons?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

I still miss it

I started running seriously in my late 20's, I finished my first race on my 30'th birthday, a sprint series triathlon at Sea World in Orlando.  Running became an addiction, if I missed more than a couple of days, I missed it.  I liked the feeling of moving, the peace (this was before I-pods and MP3 players, I ran with the thoughts in my mind, the music in my soul.) I loved the feeling 4-5 minutes into each run when my lungs cleared and a feeling of well being settled in. When I finished I would be exhausted and rested.  It is hard to explain how you can be both at the same time - it is a runners thing.

I was never going to finish first, I never had the biomechanics to be a runner, but over time I improved.  I moved from merely finishing to being solidly in the top 1/3rd in my age class.  I dropped a lot of weight, I was also obsessive about my diet, to the point that I could be unpleasant to go out to dinner with (sorry!)

I eventually stopped, the demands of moving, living a new place with a lack of friendly places to run, wet and winter weather, work and graduate school broke the habit the obsession.   But I still miss the feeling.  A couple of year's ago my oldest brother quit smoking.  He remarked at Thanksgiving that the smell brought on cravings - my father spoke up, he had quit smoking before I was born and said, "hell, after 55 years the smell still brought on cravings."  I know how they feel, I still miss running.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


A couple of summers ago we took a leisurely drive down the Shenandoah Ridge and the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was summer, the weather was pretty and we took our time, with really no agenda.  We were on the road for the most part of a week, with only a couple of hotel reservations before we started.  We stopped where and when we wanted.

We pulled into one spot and there was a sign for waterfall about a 1/4 mile hike away.  I had been struggling a bit with walking but I was feeling good and the trail looked gentle, wide and well maintained.  As we got closer the falls the trail got narrower, muddy, rocky and steep.  I pushed though and made it to the falls.  Not Niagra, but worth the walk.

Coming back out I made it through the narrow, steep, muddy rocky part of the trail and back to the wide, gentle well groomed part of the trail.  And that is when I encountered the next fall, my right foot rolled under me and I went down in the gravel in a heap.  The first of a series of falls.

I am doing so much better now.    

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


I could hear it before I could see it.  Most art works on one sense, music is heard, paintings are seen, sculpture can be seen, or felt, but this one could be heard.  The slightest movement in the room, the mere breeze from someone walking through the room made it tingle like cymbal.  So is it sculpture or a musical instrument.

Monday, March 14, 2016

How Did We End Up Here?

I woke up one morning in Paducah, Kentucky, it is part river town, part farm town, with a gaseous diffusion plant.  Gaseous diffusion is used to refine radioactive metals, it works kind of like this, take a metal, bring it to a boil, run the steam from it through unbelievably strong  magnetic fields that causes differing metals to separate in the steam, cool and repeat.  The result is a town that is part farmer, part redneck, part physicist, part industrial.  I was glad to leave alive and not glowing in the dark. I did wonder, kind of the like the guy above, how did I end up here today?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Foursome Meme

Dr Spo gave me inspiration for a meme entry….
Four names I go by:  David, Poopsie (you better be married to me if you try that one,) Bun, DG

Four tunes I adore: Fours Seasons, Last Mango in Paris, Paris without you, Evergreen. 
Four things I hate: Cold weather, Trump, Cruize, Rubio
Four places I have worked: Godfrey Honey Farm, Centex Homes, McAplins department home, Access to Justice Foundation. 
Four things I love to watch: Top Gear, airplanes taking off, the ocean, sun-sets 
Four places I have visited: Hawaii, Greece, Alaska, Puerto Rico (farthest west, east, north, south.) 
Four things I love to eat: Cheese, Scallops, Cashews, Filet Mignon, 
Four favorite drinks: Bourbon (no rubbish), Single Malt (no rubbish,) Coke-Zero (rubbish,) Water
Four shows/plays: South Pacific, ?, ?, ?, sorry not my category.  
Four things I am happily anticipating:  Italy this summer, NALC 2016, Dropping another 25 pounds, being debt free.  
Four things I am dreading: Retirement, the next dentist appointment (all of them,)  the Presidential election, a phone call from my sister in Florida. 
Four items on my bucket list:  Ballon Ride, long distance train trip, visiting the last two states, crossing the Atlantic by ship. 
Four people I think will respond: Ron, John Gray, Anne Marie, Fearsome

I am the little one

Now it is your turn.  Copy and paste the meme and put in your own answers.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

No Rubbish

The last time we were in London, Duncan and Stephen took us out for a proper afternoon high tea, no rubbish.  They had called ahead and made reservations at a tony boutique hotel.  They were ready for us, with a table surrounded by comfy chairs in a small conservatory overlooking the inner garden.

I was surprised by the selection of teas, there was a full page menu of choices.  No problem, each of us could order something different.  There were finger sandwiches, tiny pastries, and delightful cakes.  If you remarked that something was good, another tray of it arrived a couple of minutes later.  The tea, food and service were perfect.  It was pricy, but no rubbish, very very pleasant.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Smelly Little Fish

I believe it was Dr Spo who recently wrote about the joys of a can of sardines.  I thought I had a picture someplace.  Here is a store that sold nothing but sardines of every imaginable variety and origin.  It was in St-Malo on the coast of Brittany, not far from Mt St Michelle.

I was surprised by the ability of small shops focussing on just one thing, and doing it very well, to stay in business. I wonder if it is still there. We should move in across the street and open a shop that sells nothing by crackers.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Beauty in Imperfection

Would anyone know where this was, if they had fixed the tower?  Over the centuries there have been attempts, in fact the builder started to correct for a lean before the tower was finished.  But time and unsuitable subsoil conditions prevailed and the leaning tower of Pisa is known around the world.  The biggest fear now is that in another 500 years it will fall over,  The locals don't want to straighten it, but they would like to keep it from toppling.

A lot of communities would have torn the tower down, who wants to be known for an engineering defect?  It stands in part because it was a part of the Church and people are reluctant to demolish religious structures, and it was in an impoverished parish, parts of the adjoining church were never given the final layer of finished stone - revealing the recycled Roman stones used to build the structure underneath.  I have to fear that a couple of wealthy benefactors 200 years ago and that crooked bell tower would have been torn down and rebuilt, and the world would have lost forever a thing of beauty.

I was talking with a dear friend recently and she was talking about wanting plastic surgery for her birthday.  Why, she has wrinkles around her eyes and a little sag where she has lost an extra 30 pounds around the middle.  I told her she was beautiful and shouldn't mess with her body.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

A Moving Experience

I like to travel, and for the most part, I like airport terminals.  Now having grown up with a father who knew how to fly, I long ago understood the difference between an airport and an airport terminal.  The airport is the runways, taxi ways and the things that planes use to come and go, the terminal is the buildings that people use.  I get upset when people say that a city is building a "new airport" when in fact what the city is building is a new terminal at the same old airport.  You can put all of the new buildings you want at Midway in Chicago and it will still be the same old crappy blocked in and barely large enough for modern jets airport.

Detroit was the first place I flew out of on an airline.  The old terminal at Detroit was built in the late 50's early 60's, when I flew out of there in the late 70's it looked like hadn't been cleaned in a decade.  A dozen year's ago Detroit built a new terminal for Northwest Airlines, and NW promptly merged with Delta.  The main concourse in the new terminal is over a mile long, and has a people mover, actually a modern cable car to shuttle passengers from one end to the other.  It is light bright and inspiring.

I was there last summer on my way to Germany, I get to go back this year on my way to Rome.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Presidential Clown Car

Trump, Teddy-boy, Marco, Bernie and Hillary, really this is the best we can come up with to run for President of the United States.

Trump is our version of Putin, loud, uncontrolled, brash and a bit of an international embarrassment.  He may say what other's think and don't have the balls to say, but there is a reason some thoughts are best left unsaid.

Teddy is scary, he has done his best to obstruct the work of the federal government - I don't understand people who hate our government, wanting to lead it.

Marco always looks like he is about ready to break into tears, and I have read the reports about misuse of his official credit cards for personal spending when he was in Tallahassee - not someone I want the treasury secretary reporting to.  He endorsed a proposal, to stop collecting Social Security payroll tax from persons who had started to draw Social Security retirement benefits, and continued to work, he somehow thought that not collecting this tax while paying benefits would strengthen the solvency of the system (pay out the same benefits while collecting less revenue?)

Bernie, he was elected as a Socialist party candidate at least once, he was elected to the Senate as an independent because he thought the Democrats were to conservative.  He is a champion for aging issues, but a little to far out there to be electable.

Hillary, the only one of the bunch I have met.  She is brilliant, Bill once remarked that we elected the wrong Clinton if we wanted the brightest one. But she has so much baggage - she will be a punching bag for gridlocked government.

Can we run one of the guys off the mountain?

Mt Rushmore, near Rapid City South Dakota.  I flew into Rapid City on work, rented a car and drove out to Mt Rushmore on the way to the hotel.  It is really amazing.  It is kind of in the middle of no-where.  Worth the diversion.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Nancy Reagan

Nancy Reagan is dead, I feel for her family and wish her eternal peace.  She was elegant, graceful and fiercely protective of her husband.  She is in the background of campaign photos I took way back in 1976 - that was an exciting year as an 18 year old I got to photograph a couple of presidential campaign stops.

I will admit, I voted for Ronald a couple of times.  The closet and self hatred make for strange politics. I truly wish I felt good about her legacy.  But what others are declaring her lasting legacy leaves me shaking my head thinking what a simpleton.   "Just say no."

Politicos saw substance abuse and addiction as a personal weakness, told us that millions of dollars were being wasted on therapy and treatment of people who just needed to learn to behave and quit sitting around in a circle talking about their struggles.  The decision to slash federal funding for treatment was made, and when asked what people were to do, she uttered, "just say no!"  I am embarrassed to admit that at the time, I thought she has a good idea. But it is a simple answer, that overlooks the fundamentals of science and psychology that cause addiction and abuse.

So we cut millions in treatments budgets, and went on and wasted billions of dollars in a law enforcement and military war on drugs, a war we have lost because we went after the supply side instead of the demand side.  It was a terrible mistake. It has cost of billions of dollars and wasted millions of lives.  Not a legacy anyone should be proud of.

Can't we just remember Nancy as a sweet and graceful first lady?

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Bucket List Meme

Sorry this one is much longer than my five questions every Sunday, sorry! It came from a friend and is easy to do.  Copy and Paste into your blog and tell us what you have done.  

Bucket List - please play along. You would be surprised at the responses. Whether you've done this before or not, be a good sport. Do it again (and take a brain break from your job for a minute)!! Bucket List...copy and paste to your status place an x by all the things you've done, remove the x from the ones you have not.
This is in your life:
( x) Shot a gun 
(X)Gone on a blind date 
() Skipped school 
() Watched someone die 
(X)Visited Canada 
(x) Visited Hawaii 
() Visited Cuba 
(X)Visited Europe 
() Visited South America 
(X)Visited Las Vegas 
() Visited Central America 
()Visited Asia 
() Visited Africa 
(X) Visited Florida 
(x) Visited Mexico 
(X) Seen the Grand Canyon in person 
(X) Flown in a plane 
(X ) Served on a jury 
(X) Been lost 
(X)Traveled to the opposite side of the country 
(X)Visited Washington, DC 
(X)Swam in the Ocean 
(X) Cried yourself to sleep 
(X) Played cops and robbers 
(X) Played cowboys and Indians 
( ) Recently colored with crayons 
( ) Sang karaoke 
( )Sang a solo or duet in church 
(x) Paid for a meal with coins only 
() Made prank phone calls 
( ) Laughed until some beverage came out of your nose 
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( )Had children 
(x) Had a pet 
(x )Been skinny-dipping 
(X) Been fishing 
(X) Been boating 
()Been downhill skiing 
()Been water skiing 
(X) Been camping in a trailer/RV 
( ) Been camping in a tent 
(x)Driven a motorcycle 
() Been bungee-jumping (ripcord jumping) 
() Been Sky Diving 
(X) Gone to a drive-in movie 
(X) Done something that could have killed you… 
(X) Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life 
()Rode an elephant 
( ) Rode a camel 
(X)Eaten just cookies or cake for dinner or ice cream 
(x) Been on TV 
() Stolen any traffic signs 
(X) Been in a car accident 
(x)Been in the Hospital in past 24 months
()Donated blood 
()Gotten a (speeding) or any other type of ticket in the past 12 months 
( )Gotten a piercing 
( )Gotten a Tattoo 
(X) Driven a four door vehicle 
() Ever owned your dream car 
(x) Been Married 
()Been divorced 
(x) Fell in love 
(X)Fell out of love 
() Paid for a strangers meal 
(x) Driven over 100 mph 
()Been scuba diving 
()Written a published book/story (poem) (song) 
(x) Eaten snails. 
()Broken a bone
Write a comment...Share your own...Let's have fun!

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Italian Light and Colors

We went to Italy in February of 2000.  The millennium bug hadn't brought the world to it's knees, and the Euro had only been out for a few weeks.

The thing that I found most striking about Italy was the warm soft light and the colors.  Rome is a pallet of rich warm colors.  I was enchanted.  Rome is also crowded, noisy, dirty and exhausting.  A week there and I was glad to move on. I can't wait to go back.

And we are headed back.  A week in Rome, then north to Padua - Venice and Modena.  Paudua is a 30 minute train ride from Venice, and significantly less crowded and expensive.  Modena is home to balsamic vinegar, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani and Pavarotti - have I ever mentioned that I hate opera?  

Friday, March 04, 2016

Taking Sides

The FBI can't figure out how to unlock the I-phone of a terrorist, and they have asked and now publicly demanded that Apple help them.  Apple says it does not have the software to break through the security on the phone and Apple has refused to create it.  I'd love for the Feds to be able to access what is on the phone.  They have, or certainly would be able to get a search warrant for it, and the right to privacy is overridden by a search warrant (we can debate if warrants are too easy for law enforcement to get at another time.)  If it contains one clue to why the nutters did what they did, or one clue as to who might be plotting the next . . . knowing would be really helpful.

And yet, I support Apple's refusal to create software to break the security of the phone.  Apple sells a secure product, one that is not riddled with security weaknesses and unlocked back doors left behind by the designers (unlike a major competitors product that has to be patched and protected to keep from leaking private information like a sieve.)  Once opened it is to hard to close those back doors.

I am also surprised that the Federal Government has not figured out how to break the security on an I-phone.  This is not an isolated incident, reportedly the Feds are trying  open about a dozen others.  The FBI director admitted that they "messed up when they changed the phone ID," contrary to the advice that Apple had provided.  But seriously, with all of the money the Feds spend on intelligence and national security they can look inside my underwear at the airport, while I am wearing it, but they can't look at the contents of one of the most common smart phones in the world.  I want my money back for DHS.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

My Odd Collection

It started innocently enough, I was leaving a hotel in western Kentucky, the housekeepers had banged on the door before 8:30 AM and I had hung out the do-not-disturb sign.  I was leaving the room, just on time for my program that morning, the door closer was  pushing against me, almost stronger than me, I was outside the room, with the door slammed shut behind me, and there was the do-not-disturb sign.  I grabbed it, stuck it in the outside pocket of my suitcase and headed for the car.  The first of a large collection of such signs.

Everyone should collect something that triggers memories and connects them with the great adventures in their life.  I have a collection of odd artifacts, well probably more than one collection, but one that is unusual is do-not-disturb signs.

I spend a lot of time in hotels, over 40 nights last year.  Increasingly hotels are nearly indistinguishable from one another.  But some stand out, the perfect location, a unique space, outstanding service.  Most of the brand names use stock signs that are the same in Boston and San Francisco.  But some are unique.

The Steignberger in Stuttgart  last summer had several signs to chose from, including the one above to warn the housekeeper that your dog was in the room.  I have never seen that one before. I like the ones that ask housekeeping to clean the room - though they don't seem to work at home.  Some are for special events.  I only grab them if they are different from what I have.  I won't say how many I have, but it is enough to be a collection.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Choices at the End of Life

Something is not right with my father's health.  He has been sick for a month, a chest x-ray showed an unexplained shadow and was sent off to an expert.  The report is a possible aneurysm, something that would normally result in heading to the nearest emergency room for further tests.  His response was, schedule the CT scan for next week, it really does not matter because at 89 and not in good health to start with, he says no surgery.  He fully understands that if it is an aneurysm, and it starts to leak, he will be dead in a few minutes.  His younger sister died in surgery for a brain aneurism 20 years ago this spring.  He also understands the kind of surgery it would be, open the chest, cut the ribs, spread them open, heart lung bypass machine, replace the plumbing.  The surgery is brutal, the recovery long and painful.  The risk of oxygen deprivation aggravating changes in memory and cognition very real.  His choice is to know that the diagnosis is. He says he would like to know, but, more to learn if it is a false warning, than if it is a real risk.  The test outcomes are unlikely to change his choice.

I understand and support his choice.  At his age and health, every day is a treat, a bonus.  If he were the type to let his guard down, splurge and party a little, now would be the time to do it.  I wonder what he has always wanted to do, and could never convince himself to do?  Now is the time.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016


It is a little one, but it is a Moose.  I was headed into Glacier National Park in Montana in early May of 2007 and the calf crossed my path.  I got out and took pictures.  Amazing, I have seen some interesting wildlife, this was my first and only Moose.

The next day I was showing the pictures to a local and they were agast that I got out of the car to take pictures.  A young calf, means MOMMA is likely nearby, and likely very protective of her little one.  Gee I didn't think about that, will I think about it the next time?