Monday, October 31, 2016

Random Rants

I think Facebook has changed the face of the election politics.  In the past you had to look for a button or bumper sticker to learn about a persons political views.  Now it is out there on display everyday.  

I have learned that a couple of people in my life, are intolerant of differing political views.  One deleted my comments offering a differing view to hers, one has posted rude comments on posting I shared on Facebook. One I have known since high school - her view that Hillary - OUR NEXT PRESIDENT is the agent of the devil, has worn thin.  If she wants to live in a country where religious values control political life, I would suggest she move to Iran, Iraq, or Saudi Arabia - but I am too polite to post that as a comment on the political postings she shares on Facebook from her "Pastors."  The IRS really needs to take away the tax exempt status of any religious organization that engages in trying to sway elections.   

Email servers. I bet John Podesta wishes he had used a private exchange server in his basement instead of g-mail.  And nothing in the emails has really been a surprise.  If you think the leadership of the parties don't have political favorites, you don't understand  politics.  Give me a break.  

I will be very glad when the election is over.  

I am getting ready for the Holidays, my 100-proof fruit cake is aging in the refrigerator.  If you think you don't like fruitcake, you have never had my mother's 100-proof fruit cake.  A couple of slices of this and you forget that you didn't like fruitcake.  

I am once again working on overcoming my fear of pastry.  It is a trauma from childhood.  Fifty years of working to overcome it. I am actually getting pretty good at a basic butter crust.   

Windows 10, apparently the Windows 10 operating system update was about 8-gigabytes in size.  When it did a major update it replaced that much of itself, but kept the old file.  It waited several days to ask if I wanted to erase the out of date duplicate part of the operating system.  Not an issue on my 1-terabyte desktop.  A major pain on my 32-gigabyte super lite weight travel laptop.   

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Where Have You Not Been?

Hard Rock Cafe, Venice Italy 
Dr Spo recently spent time in San Antonio Texas, apparently his first conscious visit to the lone star state.  This brings of the question of where have we not been, and were do we want to go in this great adventure we call travel. 

1: How many US states have you not been to? 
2: What National Park have you not been to, that you would most like to visit? 
3: What Museum have you not seen, that you would most like to spend an afternoon visiting? 
4: What place have you not been to, that you would least like to visit? 
5: What place have you walked by, and had no interest in visiting that others would be quite excited to see? 

My Answers: 
1: How many US states have you not been to? 
               Two- Idaho and Wyoming 

2: What National Park have you not been to, that you would most like to visit? 

3: What Museum have you not seen, that you would most like to spend an afternoon visiting? 
              The Hermitage in St Petersburg.  I have little interest in traveling to Russia, but this museum would be an exception. 

4: What place have you not been to, that you would least like to visit? 
                India - 

5: What place have you walked by, and had no interest in visiting that others would be quite excited to see? 

               How about the Hard Rock Cafe in Venice, Italy 

Saturday, October 29, 2016


If I won the Power-Ball Jackpot what would I do? 

Now I don't buy tickets, so I am unlikely to win.  The odds are 140 times greater that I will be struck by lightening this year, than they are that I will win the Power-Ball jackpot if I buy a ticket.  I don't obsess over being struck by lightening, why should I waste my money worrying about a lottery prize?

But if I did suddenly come into a large amount of money what would I do with it?  

  1. I'd buy a boat - I have always wanted one.
  2. I'd go someplace warm and sunny in winter.
  3. I'd buy a farm, call it Black-Sheep Ranch, and collect a flock of all black sheep.  I'd have to hire a staff, my back and legs are not up to the manual labor needed. I would have a large garden, and spend a few warm summer days and cool autumn weekends on the ranch.  
What would you do with a sudden Billion dollars? 

Friday, October 28, 2016


I first experienced the format at a legal-technology conference in Jacksonville Florida a few years ago, it is called Rapid-Fire and it is 10 speakers, in a one hour plenary, each with a strictly enforced 5-minute time limit, charged with "Wowing" the audience.  At the technology conference the power points were automatically set to advance to the next slide every 20 seconds, if the speaker didn't move the slides faster than that.  The speakers talked on an eclectic range of topics,  at least roughly connected to the subject of the conference.  Some of them were brilliant, some were funny, none of them were boring, they didn't have time to be boring in just five minutes, with the moderator standing up and saying 'TIME IS UP" at the end of the allotted time.  Some of the topics inspired me to want to know or do more, some reinforced my belief that not all ideas are good ideas - I was very glad I had not committed to listening to 75 minutes on this second kind of topic.  

At 8:30 AM Eastern time, I will begin the Rapid-Fire Plenary at the National Aging and Law Conference.  I am talking about preliminary results of a study of how health care decisions are made in critical care settings.  Glad I only have minutes, I can't bore them in five minutes - can I? 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Get Lost In Nature

Last weekend I decided I wanted to get out for a walk, I have a couple of six day work weeks coming up, and the weather was wonderful.  I drove out to Mt Vernon on Sunday morning, drove around the parking lots three times looking for a open space, or someone walking toward a car that might be leaving, and gave up.  I drove back up the George Washington Parkway toward Washington DC, and just south of Alexandria, I pulled into Belle Haven Park, on the shore of the Potomac River.  This is just south of the Wilson Bridge, not more than 6 miles as the Eagle flies from the Capitol building, and took the trail out in to Dike Marsh.  

The trail into the marsh is an old mining road, the marsh was a source of sand and gravel from the 1700- into the 1940's.  George Washington described it in his survey as a "fine improvable marsh."  His idea of improving it was to mine it, dredge it, fill it.  It was slow digging and when the National Park Service took over and starting looking at preserving and restoring the wetlands some wetlands still remained.  If you wander off the trail and look at the waters edge you can see remnants of docks and remains of long sunken shipping.  But you can, easily get lost in nature in the marsh.  You are never far from civilization, but you are surrounded by nature.  

If it was not government land, it would have long ago been filled, dredged, built full of million dollar condos with semi-views of the water.  We are lucky to have this natural space, so close to the city.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Solo Travel

A couple of my fellow bloggers have written recently about traveling alone.  Because of work travel, I travel solo more often than I do with the sweet-hubby-bear.  We love one another's families (well at least most of the members of them) but we often travel alone to visit family.  We get away a couple of times a year together, but of the dozen trips I will make this year, 8 of them will be solo.

The adventure of travel is really two parts, transportation, and being there.

I actually prefer to fly alone.  The only person I have to keep track of is me, I can be as pleasant or not as I want when I am flying solo and not have to concern myself with another person.  The farthest that I have flown solo, is Athens.  I flew on frequent flyer miles and J couldn't match my outgoing travel, I arrived 8 or 9 hours ahead of him.  It was one of the easiest trans-Atlantic flights I have ever had - I slept for 4 or 5 hours between New York and Athens. I found my way to the hotel, checked in, took a nap, went out for lunch, wandered through the central market, and was back a the hotel for a second nap when he arrived.  I have also spent a week solo in France while J was at a conference at Oxford.  In 2015 I flew to Germany and J flew in a day later to meet me.

Driving long distances alone can be deadly boring.  I do a couple of 400-800 miles each way car trips a year alone.  I wish I had someone to talk with, to help spot the sights and adventures along the way.

Being there, IE, staying in hotels and eating is the second part.  I get a bit fuzzier here.  I don't mind staying in hotel rooms alone.  I settle in, get comfortable and relax.  When I am alone I don't have to share the bathroom, and I can come and go when I am ready.  I have come to be uncomfortable eating out alone.  The lone single dinner in a restaurant is not always treated well,  I really miss someone to talk to when I am waiting for service.  Being an American of mid-west origin, I (we) stop talking once the food has arrived - with the exception of commenting on the food.  As I travel I learn that other's are not like this, they talk while the food gets cold. A new habit I have developed when traveling solo, is to buy take-out-food and eat alone in the hotel room, I have had some memorable sushi overlooking the Pacific in California and Hawaii doing this.  I find this harder to do when I am traveling with J,  he has a harder time deciding what he wants and worries that he has made a bad choice (that something better was available.)  

So how do you feel about traveling solo?
What is the longest trip you have made solo?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A night out with the Supreme's

Justice Louis D Brandeis was cremated after his death and his remains interred under the portico at the Law School at the University of Louisville.  He had lived in Louisville, and was a loyal patron of the law school, he literally helped keep the lights on at the school during the depression of the 1920's.  October 19th was the 100th anniversary of his nomination for a seat on the Supreme Court.  I was invited to a lecture and reception in commemoration of this.  

I have attended open Court, and visited the building as a tourist, but this was my first after hours and into non-public area of the Court visit. Justice Kagan was our host for the evening, and Justice Ginsberg also attended.  It was fun to see them off duty.  The Court building is interesting, a masterpiece of Greek revival architecture.  The lecture was held in the Court room, yes I sneaked one forbidden photograph in the court room.  

The reception was held in the East and West Conference rooms on the main floor, just north of the Court Room.  Rarely seen the rooms are elegant and detailed. They open onto two interior courtyards, spaces few people outside of the Court staff ever see.  The weather was glorious for mid October and the courtyards were open.  In the top picture, the windows behind me, are the north wall of the Court room.    

It was worth staying out past my bedtime. 
What was the last thing you stayed out for past your bedtime? 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Autumn Leaves

This picture is from a few years ago, the leaves are just starting to color here.  Seeing the first color reminded me of a story a friend told me a few years ago.

When he was growing up his father planted a Japanese Maple tree in the front yard of the family home.  Dad loved that tree, every summer he carefully pruned it, watered it, checked it for pests, replaced the mulch around it.  He spent so much time working on it that the family kidded him that he was going to kill the tree by fussing over it. In the fall, when it was at it's peak of color, he would haul out a lawn chair and sit for hours on a saturday looking at it.  It was the setting for numerous family photographs.  His father died one July, and was cremated.  The family gathered around the tree and scattered his ashes around the tree.  Two days later, all of the leaves fell off the tree, and it never came back.  The family has had an ongoing debate for 20 years.  You see he was a very difficult man with an angry and sour disposition.  Some say his ashes must have as angry and bitter he was and that is what killed the tree.  Others say the tree died in a show of solidarity with the person who had tended it.

When my time comes I hope my tree dies in sympathy.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Five Questions About Footwear

These are probably the oldest shoes I have ever seen, found in a tomb from ancient Egypt, and on display in the Metropolitan Museum in New York city.  I recently wrote about leaving the office in a hurry and finding myself in the back seat of a limousine wearing my everyday running shoes.  This gets me to thinking about footwear.  I have long liked shoes, one time I went to the office wearing a different pair of shoes everyday for a month, just to prove that I could.  I own fewer pairs of shoes today, but still likely more than average.  Age and weight have made comfort a priority over style most of the time.

We all wear footwear of some kind, let's learn about one another.

1: How many pairs of shoes, boots, and sandals do you own (we will wait while you go count)?

2: When you are hanging out around the house, do you prefer to wear footwear, or go barefoot?

3: Have you ever driven a car or truck barefoot? (Doing so is legal in some states.)

4: Describe the most expensive pair of shoes or boots you have ever bought?

5: When buying shoes, which is more important style or comfort?

My answers:

1: How many pairs of shoes, boots, and sandals do you own (we will wait while you go count)?  - 33

2: When you are hanging out around the house, do you prefer to wear footwear, or go barefoot? - barefoot - I have been known to run around the office barefoot.

3: Have you ever driven a car or truck barefoot? (Doing so is legal in some states.)  Yes, it is legal is Florida

4: Describe the most expensive pair of shoes or boots you have ever bought? - Bruno Magli alligator loafers. I bought them in an outlet store for a really great price - but still more than I should have spent. They fulfilled a fantasy.  I bought them in the peak of my running days, when I picked up a little weight my feet spread half a size and I had to donate them.

5: When buying shoes, which is more important style or comfort? - Comfort comes first, I have owned to quote OJ, "some ugly ass shoes" but they were comfortable.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

An empty bottle of Blantons

An empty bottle of Blanton's is enough to make a grown man cry, well not me, I have a nice stash of high quality - some of them rare, single barrel bourbons.  

Blanton's claims to be the first single barrel.  The history is that the distillery had changed ownership, the inventory system of the previous owner left a bit to be desired and tucked away in the aging warehouses were barrels that had been there much longer than normal.  About the same time, the Japanese were going gaga for single malt Scotch whiskey.  Someone decided to try bottling the bourbon equivalent of a single malt - and Blanton's was born.  Originally only as an export product - shipped to Asia, primarily Japan.  Americans, Kentuckians, were buying it and bringing it back from Japan.  

For a long time I resisted buying Blanton's, it is rather expensive.  Last spring I stopped at Buffalo Trace to buy the best vodka made in America (Wheatley - it is only available at the distillery and in California) and while I was there I picked up a bottle of Blanton's - I was stocking up on single barrels that trip. Oh my, it was worth it.  It is very smooth, with a sweet flavor profile.  Very easy to drink.  

Not all single barrel bourbons are good.  Some are rushed, some are to heavy on the rye (spice.)  Look for ones that are well aged, not rushed.        

Friday, October 21, 2016

Blacksmith, Whitesmith, Silversmith, Goldsmith

I was out at Mt Vernon one day watching work in the Blacksmith shop.  There was a school group visiting that day, with a page of questions they needed to answer as an assignment.  One of the students asked "why is a blacksmith called a blacksmith?"  

The answer was that the crafts-person works with iron and other black metals. A whitesmith works with tin and other white metals, a silversmith works with silver and a goldsmith works with gold.  I have photographed tinsmiths at work, but never knew that they might be called a whitesmith.  I took a class in silversmithing in college (lost wax casting, wire work and hollow construction.)  

I never know what I am going to learn in the great adventure of travel.  

What surprising thing have you learned while traveling? 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Is it really work?

The summer between my first and second year of law school I was doing a mandatory volunteer stint in a legal aid office.  I had been there about a week, when one of the staff attorneys was called away on some emergency and asked me to cover her time on the intake desk that afternoon.  She said, it is easy, listen to their story, fill out the form, and for gawds-sake don't promise them we can do anything to help them, tell them someone will call them next week to let them know if we can help.  

I answered the first call, and the caller said, "you have got to help me, they are trying to take away my lion!"  I should have known then and there that I had found my calling in life. I spent a decade after law school managing a legal aid program focused on seniors. Not what I expected to do when I went to law school.  This is a second career for me, I had worked for land developers and home builders for 15 years before going onto graduate school.  I went to law school expecting to do planning, zoning, and construction defects litigation for the rest of my life.  But I fell in love with public interest legal work, and I have never seriously looked back. 

Both careers have been all consuming, at times the hours are obsessively unhealthy.   Both have been stressful at times.  I recall telling a boss one time, "I am mad as hell, and you know what that is a good thing, because it shows that I still care about this work." When you reach the point that you don't care enough to get mad, it is time to move onto the next job, or maybe the next career.  

Despite the hours and the stress, I truly love what I am doing.  It is a passion, a calling.  I look forward to doing it (well most of it.) Find something you love doing for a living, it will consume your life, but is it really work?   

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

An Afternoon with George

If I could spend an afternoon with George Washington, what would we talk about?  I live about 8 miles north of George Washington's Mt Vernon Estate, on a hilltop that was once owned by George Washington.  The longer I live here and the more time I spend at Mt Vernon the better I seem to understand the man who was our first President.  It would be a real adventure to spend an afternoon with him.  

I think I asked him about the American Revolution.  He was born and raised as an Englishmen, and he led an army in a revolution against the Crown.  We kind of understand why, but I wonder did he do it for political, or economic reasons?  Did they do think the distance from England would make it easy?  How big of an influence was the French Revolution?  Did he worry that if the Revolution failed, he would be hanged as a traitor?  If he had it to do over again, would he? 

History tells us that he dismissed the idea of being King, and that the decision on the form of governance was not an easy one.  Why not become the first King?  The vote was only given to white landowning men, why?  Did everyone agree on that, or was it a compromise?  The most recent history display at Mt Vernon tells that slavery was a compromise to form a national government.  GW freed his slaves at his wife's death in his will. How did he feel about the people who were slaves?  Did he ever imagine that former slaves would gain full equality in American society?  Did he worry that educating slaves would empower them to want freedom? 

In light of the current political climate in the USA, what was his vision for political organization? Did he envision political parties?  If so how many?  How can we shift political power from the parties back to politicians? 

Mt Vernon was a scientific model of a self sufficient farm.  What did he want to do at Mt Vernon that he didn't get to do?  What was his proudest achievement as a farmer and business man? 

So who from history would you like to spend an afternoon with?  What would you talk about?   

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What Do You Want to See?

Sometimes a trip is planned around an adventure I have decided I must experience, sometimes the trip is planned and then I look for the adventures to fit into the trip.  

Back in 2008 I was watching one the great train rides of the world shows, probably on a public television fund raiser, and saw the White Pass and Yukon Railway and I was hooked. I had to go and experience the ride.  

Skagway, Alaska is not an easy place to get to, in fact the easiest way to get there is by cruise ship.  When I searched for an inside passage cruise, the one requirement was that the itinerary had to offer a good opportunity to ride the train.  

On the other hand, we decided to go to Germany, and then went looking for things to do while we were there.  That was when I found the Zeppelin rides.  I was so glad that I was able to fit the ride into the trip, it was too late to fit the trip around the ride.  

What adventure have you planned a trip around? 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Happy Anniversary

24 years ago, J and I formed a home together, 1 year ago we were married.  Over the near quarter-century we have been together I have come to understand, love, commitment, belief, what it is like to have someone who is there for me, and what it means to be there for someone else.  We have empowered and enabled one another in this great adventure.  We are an integral part of one another's lives.  Neither of us would be where we are today, without the other.  

My greatest hope is that every person finds someone to love, the way we love one another.  

Love you Sweet Bear! 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Me time - my Sunday Five Questions

Thanks for Anne Marie for suggesting this weeks topic for five questions, how do we spend "me time."  Me time, is time alone to do what you want to do, and to enjoy the things you like.  As time goes on, I set aside more and more time for me.  So here are five questions about me time.

1: When you are alone, do you prefer silence, music, or the TV in the background? 

2: What is you personal indulgence food when you are alone? 

3: Fiction or non-fiction when you indulge in personal reading? 

4: When you have a weekend home alone, do you take a shower or bath? 

5: If you have a choice of talking on the phone, or watching You Tube videos, which is it? 

My answers: 
1: When you are alone, do you prefer silence, music, or the TV in the background?  -  Silence or music.  

2: What is you personal indulgence food when you are alone? -
Cheese, good extra sharp cheddar 

3: Fiction or non-fiction when you indulge in personal reading? 
I am a non-fiction reader, there are enough made up stories and drama in my life, without reading it.  

4: When you have a weekend home alone, do you take a shower or bath?  - I will admit that I will skip my daily shower for a day or two, until I start to smell funky - sometimes I like smelling funky.  

5: If you have a choice of talking on the phone, or watching You Tube videos, which is it?  - You Tube wins, hands down.  After a decade of making a living working on the phones, I avoid phone calls if I can.  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Yes, it is as good as it looks

I saw this on America's Test Kitchen a couple of weeks ago and had to give it a try, it is an apricot glazed french apple tart.  

You need, a deep tart pan - I didn't own a deep one, I am glad Sur Le Table is close by. 

8- ounces of cold butter
2 1/2 + cups of all purpose flour 
Pinch of kosher salt
Sprinkle of sugar
4-5 tablespoons of ice cold water

Put the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor and mix.  Add the  butter and blend until it forms a fine meal, add the water and blend until it starts to clump or form a ball.  Don't over blend, this only take a few seconds to blend in a food processor.  Pop the mix in the freezer for a couple of minutes. 

I roll it out on Parchment Paper, use extra flour under it and on top.  When the mix comes out of the food processor it will be loose and crumbly, that is fine, knead it slightly and it will form a ball. I line the bottom of the tart pan with baking parchment.  Roll out the pastry and line the tart pan.  Dock it with a fork or knife and blind bake it in a 400 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes.  You may have extra pastry depending on the size of the tart pan, wrap it tightly and refrigerate for you next project.  

For the filling:
2 to 2 1/2 pounds of apples  
3/4 cup of sugar - or to taste
2 tablespoons corn starch 
1 cup +/- of Apricot preserves (about 3/4 of a standard jar) 

The apples in the tart end up in two layers, a top layer of wedges as you can see above, and bottom layer that is a chunky apple sauce. Quarter and core the apples. Slice into wedges.  I left the peels on.  Put the apples in water and bring to a boil.  You want them to cook just to the point that they start to soften.  Remove about half of the apples and place on a towel on a sheet pan to cool - these make the top layer of the tart.  Drain remaining water to just enough to cook the remaining apples and return to the heat, adding the sugar, corn starch and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Cook until the apples have softened, mash the apples to make a chunky apple sauce.   While the apples are cooking, warm the apricot preserves in a pan, when they start to bubble, force through a course sieve to separate the solids from the liquids.  Add the solids to the apple mix,  keep the liquid warm to glaze the top of the tart.    

When the tart shell starts to brown, remove from the oven.  Layer the chunky apple sauce in tart shell.  Arrange the remaining apples in concentric circles on top of the apple sauce, starting at the outside and working your way into the middle.  Glaze with the apricot liquids.

Return the pie to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, until it starts to brown nicely. 

Yes, it tastes as good as it looks.     

Friday, October 14, 2016


I have a new bear shirt, silly, but I think it is funny.  I find these when I am traveling.

I have another one from Montana that says, "Bears Like People, They Taste Just Like Chicken.

I saw one in Alaska that I couldn't find in my size,  it read, To Avoid Bear Attacks, wear bells on your clothing, carry pepper spray and be on the look out for fresh bear shit.  Bear shit is easy to identify, it smells like pepper and has the little silver bells in it.  I liked that one.

I have seen a few bears in the wild, generally they don't hang around for long.  In civilization bears are usually the sweetest fuzzy things on the sidewalk.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Well I didn't expect to see that

Downtown Philly from an inbound Amtrak Train
Wednesday morning I had a meeting near the Capital in Washington DC.  I took the Red line on the subway to Union Station and exited onto the sidewalk on the west side of the station, crossed the street and started up the incline.  A couple of hundred feet ahead of me, there was a man, who appeared to have his pants down around his ankles.  Now my distance vision is not what it was 30 years ago, so I wasn't sure until I got closer, but yes his pants and underwear were down around his ankles and he was leaning back at an angle, almost but not quite squatting, and yes he was defecating and urinating over the curb.  I have to admire his balance, he didn't fall over, he was missing his pants, and drop - drop- squirt - squirt there he was going.  I have never observed this behavior in a human.  The government printing office police (oh yes, the government printing office has a police department - your tax dollars at work - they protect passports between the government printing office a few blocks away and the post office) were coming down the sidewalk in the other direction shouting at him to stop and pull his pants up.  About 150 feet past him I turned to see what was happening, and he had pulled his pants up and was trying to walk away from the police, they were calling for local police back up.  

Life in the big city, but I honestly never thought I would see that. Today's picture is totally unrelated to the story. I didn't dig my phone out and take a picture of his personal moment in a public place.  The train station just across the street has public toilets that are free and open all the time - I didn't stop to ask WHY here?  

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in public this week? 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How Do We Relax - Or Not

Life and work keep us in perpetual motion.  Get up, get dressed and ready, commute, work, rush home, eat, sleep, repeat.  Most days I grab lunch and take it back to my desk and work while I eat.  A bad habit I picked up 30+ years ago and find hard to break.  

When I am traveling, I tend to fill every waking hour with something to do, something that seems to need to be done.  I don't take time to sit in the sun, soak in the water - and if I do I usually have a preset time allotted to do so.  Is it even possible for me to relax, without a preset plan to do so?  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Celebrate National Coming Out Day

Today is October 11th, National Coming Out Day, and while it is no big surprise to my readers, but let me say it, I am Gay.  

I have lived in and out of the closet, out is a much more pleasant way to live.  I realized that I was attracted to men, in middle school, soon after puberty, and I was absolutely terrified.  I had no role models, no knowledge to help me understand what I was feeling, a feeling that is a fundamental part of who I am.  So I went into deep denial, then hiding.  I tied to fit in.  I tried to be the person others thought I should be, instead of the person I am.  I was miserable.  

I got married - the ultimate closet for closeted gay men.  I ate to much, I drank to much, I worked insane hours. At the same time I was looking at gay porn and hiding deeper and deeper in the closet.  I even voted for Republican candidates that said vile things about gay men, reinforcing my self hatred. At a near crisis point I took control of my eating and drinking and became a self described gym rat, and then it happened - I was in the best shape of my life and other men started to notice me.  And I liked it. I stumbled across an LGBT group at Rollins College and went to their gatherings. I started to accept myself as who I am.  And I became happier - saner.  The marriage had long been two people living parallel lives. I was jealous, she had a boyfriend and I didn't and we split - as I described it neither of us was happy, and we both deserved happiness. 

I started dating men, and still being honest about who I am was not easy.  I never had the big coming out scene with friends and family.  Within a year I met J, we fell in love, he moved in - at my urging.  I never told my parents "I am gay,"  I simply brought the same man home for the holidays 2 or 3 years in a row and figured they would figure it out - and they did - there was never a big moment or ugly scene.  It was funny, when my sister told my middle brother that she was coming to Virginia for our wedding last fall, he said "you mean David is gay?"  Well yea duh, they have lived together for 23 years.  

Some of the early years were not easy.  I was outed by a coworker to a boss and fired from a good job (I forgive you Fred, I'd still like to talk with Bill about it.) I straddled the partly in and partly out of the closet world for a few years. When we first moved to Lexington we had two phone numbers at the house for a couple of years.  Eventually I decided no employer would ever fire me for being gay again, so I make it clear up front in the interview that I am gay.  I don't know if doing so slammed any doors for me,  I do know it made it much easier for me to work and be happy.  I was entirely out in Law School, including forming an LGBT law student group. I have had the pleasure of speaking on LBGT aging issues at the Lavender Law Conference three or four times and published two (now out of date) book chapters on legal challenges for same sex couples.  LGBT issues are not the focus of my professional work, but I am kind of the staff expert for some reason.   

Life in the closet is life in denial.  I know how close I came to eating, drinking and working myself to death.  I would not wish the closet on anyone.  With coming out, I dropped from my life people who never really liked the true me, it is hard to be rejected, but they never really liked me to start with - they liked the fake that I tried to be.  Some of them I suspect, couldn't accept me because they struggle with self acceptance issues.  

National Coming Out Day is an opportunity to share our stories and offer hope and support to others who may be struggling with denial, self acceptance or coming out. There is hope, happiness and love out of the closet in the big bold adventure I call life.   

Monday, October 10, 2016

My Annual Columbus Day Rant

It is Columbus Day, my office is closed, the United States Federal Government and most government offices are closed, and frankly I am not sure why.  Saying that Columbus "discovered" north America is like saying that I "discovered" women. North America was here, and others had been here before him - native people lived here and had highly organized societies,  long before 1492. 

European scholars of of the 1400s, had calculated the circumference of the earth with amazing accuracy.  As a navigator, Columbus had to know that he had not traveled far enough to be in India, he know how far India was by the land route east from Spain, he was hoping to travel to it by going west across the Ocean.  If he calculated the distance east, and the distance he had traveled west, he knew he was not in India, and yet he said he was in India - he was lost or lying. He dubbed the natives he encountered as Indians - a mistake that has stuck for centuries. His disdain for the native people was deplorable.  He described them as savages, barely bright enough to be suitable as slaves.  

Bottom line, Columbus was either lost, or lying to the world, his sponsors and his crew about where he was going, where he went, and what he found.  He was an incredible bigot, who didn't discover anything.  And yet we shut down the country for a day, some places still hold parades in his honor.  

There is a native american movement to eliminate Columbus Day, bravo!   

If we want to honor great Italian achievement, there are a boatload of scholars, and artists we can honor.  

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Five Morning Questions

Some of us are morning people, some of us aren't.  What are your mornings like? 

1: Do you set an alarm clock? 
2: What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed in the morning? 
3: Caffeine or no caffeine first thing in the morning - if yes, what is your caffeine delivery device of choice? 
4: What is the first thing you read in the morning? 
5: Are your mornings leisurely or rushed to get out the door?   

My answers: 
1: Do you set an alarm clock?  - Rarely, only if I have an early flight or meeting. 

2: What is the first thing you do when you get out of bed in the morning? Turn on my computer - then head to the bathroom. 

3: Caffeine or no caffeine fist thing in the morning - if yes, what is your caffeine delivery device of choice?  Yes, Coke Zero or Iced Coffee. 

4: What is the first thing you read in the morning? Blogs, starting with Ken at Living the Life:  I don't know why, but he is first on the list and has been for years.  

5: Are your mornings leisurely or rushed to get out the door?    Normally quite leisurely.  On average it is 2-hours between my feet hitting the floor, and my leaving for the office.  I recently realized that this is one of my most precious "me-times."  

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Give Me The Real Deal

Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas 
Venice Italy, the real deal 
I can remember being awed by the World Showcase at EPCOT, then I started traveling to Europe and realized that the Disney version was an idealized, sanitized - well really a fake.  A few years ago I was in Las Vegas and I had dinner at Mario Batali's restaurant in the Venetian hotel (great imaginative food.)  I saw the gondolas on the simulated grand canal, really an elongated swimming pool. Then this last year I had the opportunity to see Venice, to see the real deal.  Water you wouldn't want to swim in, crowds, history, smells and sounds.  

The American fakes, are far to perfect, to contrived, to controlled. EPCOT is kind of like a plastic pizza, you really wouldn't know what a pizza is from looking at a plastic model of one. To know a pizza, you have to smell the yeastiness of the freshly baked dough and the anchovies, you have to burn yourself on the melted cheese. To know Paris, or an English Village or Venice, you need to see, hear, smell the real deal.  Get out and go - there is a big world out there to see and only a finite number of years to see it.   

Friday, October 07, 2016

Traveling in Discomfort and Style

One of the projects I am responsible for at work is organizing a national conference.  Managing the conference is frustrating at time, but I love doing it.  This year is a smashing success, we have sold out the venue and had to turn people away.  So I have started the process of finding a venue (hotel) for next year.  The hotel contract also locks in the dates.  

I am working with a "meetings and travel" professional, who worked with me to put together a bid package that was sent out to probably 100 hotels in the DC metro area.  Three bids came in last week, two more today.  Of the three that came in last week, one caught my eye, and another one was workable.  So we set up site visits for me to see two hotels.  One is a mid-price national chain, the hotel is three blocks from a metrorail station and they gave me directions on how to walk to the hotel from the subway.   

The other is a "luxury chain"  and email message said, "we will send a car to pick you up at your office and drive you to the hotel, the driver has been instructed to wait for your return to the office so you won't be delayed."  My immediate reaction was my mother's voice screaming at me, "behave and know your place."  I don't know about you, but I don't normally ride around town in a chauffeur driven Cadillac CT6, but I did today.   

It started with a text message the evening before, saying that the car would pick me up at 10:30 AM at my office.  About 10:15, my phone chimed, I looked at it about 10:20 and it was a message from the driver that he was out front.  I grabbed my phone and glasses and headed for the elevator, texting the driver that I would be there in five minutes.  Damn, someone who is even earlier than I am.  I stepped out front and the driver jumped out, ran around and opened the rear passenger side door before I could get across the sidewalk.  He recognized me, someone must have found my picture online and sent it to him (the hotel sales guy had read my resume online and knew where I went to school at.) Off we go, at a snails pace in DC traffic to the Ritz.  

Now it is a nice way to travel.  There is a certain style about it, but I somehow felt oddly uncomfortable, a little out of place.  I looked down and I was wearing the running shoes I wear on the metro, I had intended to change into dress shoes before I left the office, but with the driver being early and rushing to leave, the basic black Asics Cumulus 17s were still on my feet.  At least my black shoes matched the car, black, with black leather interior. The chauffeur, he gave me his card and that is his title, was wearing a black suit, white shirt and tie.  Thank-gwad, he wasn't wearing a funny hat. 

The ride out took about 30 minutes, including driving past the Metrorail station that is 4-minutes and 48 seconds walking time from the hotel - at the pace the assistant sales manager walks.  The hotel was nice, and is a viable option.  I have one more to see, plus look at the late bids that came in. For the next one I take the subway and walk, that will not have the style, and be more in my comfort zone.  

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Gotta- go- gotta rush - place to go

I grew up in a family where if you were not 15 minutes early, you were late.  My mother always said, plan to be early, then if something happens you will at least be on time.  We rushed from place to place like the world would come to an end if we arrived behind schedule.  That is an efficient (and safe) way to run a railroad, but it leads to a life that rushes past life.  

I have spent the past 20 years trying to overcome my upbringing on this issue. It is not easy.  

This behavior pattern shaped the way I learned to travel.  Map out the most efficient route, drive long hard days, and don't stop to dally along the way.  My parents and grandparents had traveled this way. My grandmother commented that she had driven past the entrance to Mammoth Caves National Park 30 times, always wanted to see the park, but had given up asking my grandfather to stop.  After he died, I drove her to and from Florida a few times, and we stopped. 

When I was in Nevada a couple of weeks ago, I flew into Reno and drove across a small mountain range to Incline Village at Lake Tahoe.  I forced myself to stop a couple of times as I was crossing the mountain to enjoy the scenery and take a few pictures.  Remember to stop and smell the roses along the way.  

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

In the Shadow Of

I was very fortunate to be able to attend law school in my late 30's.  I knew at the time how lucky I was, to be free from making a living for three years, given the opportunity to engage in a purely academic pursuit with the brightest bunch of people I have ever had the pleasure of spending time with.  One of the great wins of my life.  

So I spent the better part of three years in Louisville, Kentucky.  Louisville is an old river town on the Ohio River, it is a mid-western rust belt city.  I very much enjoyed my time there. 

The University is south of downtown in the shadow of an old industrial area.  Part of the campus was once an assembly line for Ford Model Ts.  Vendome is just past the parking lot, north Americas leading manufacturer of distillery equipment. If you drink a distilled spirit made in America, odds are it passed through equipment made in Louisville.  Next to that is a large cooperage, a factory that makes oak barrels for aging bourbon, in the winter you could see the fire and smell the smoke from finishing barrels.  

An interesting piece of bourbon trivia.  Bourbon must be aged in new charred american oak barrels to be called Bourbon (it's the law.) How did charring the barrels get started?  A distiller in Bourbon County Kentucky was shipping whiskey to New Orleans.  He was having trouble finding new barrels, and found used barrels that had been used for salted fish, and pickles.   He washed them, and charred the inside.  Filled them, shipped them down the Ohio River to the Mississippi River, and by the time the whiskey from Bourbon County arrived in New Orleans, it had taken on a wonderful color and mellow flavor.  A much better color than whiskey shipped in new barrels.  The call went out for more of that wonderful whiskey from Bourbon County, and aging in charred oak barrels became the standard.  

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Flying and Wading Waterfowl.

Give me a chance, and I will help you find true Florida Natives.  Alligators, turtles, and Roseate Spoonbills are true Florida natives. 

The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is just north of the Kennedy Space Center.  It is on land that was bought when the space center was being built.  The road out through it goes to the beach.  This picture was take in early September at one of the observation areas on the road to the beach.  

Monday, October 03, 2016

Taxing Rant

When it is possible for people who claim to be worth BILLIONS, and have income of millions to not pay any federal income tax, even to claim that doing so makes them "smart" it is time to revise the tax code.  Anyone who makes millions, should contribute to the cost of running the Country that makes it possible to run a business that makes enables them to make millions.  

I was disturbed by the fact that my father who pays no taxes and makes about the same amount as my middle brother who is a truck driver and my brother pays a fair amount in federal income tax (I prepared his returns for a decade.) The difference is not in ability to pay, it is in the source of the income.  We need to fix this. 

We have two good incomes, we pay more in taxes today, than either of us made 25 years ago when we met.  And I am okay with that.  We can afford it, and it takes a lot of money to run good government - and despite it's foibles we have good government.  If you don't think so, look at Kenya, or Somalia and any of a hundred other hell-holes around the world with corrupt governments that are incapable of providing even the most basic services.  We also under-fund our governments.  We see the failings of crumbling infrastructure caused by chronic under-funding while demanding new - instead of maintaining the existing.  

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Sunday Five - home work space

I have posted pictures of my desk at home in the past, so here is an update.  I recently started using a new desktop computer, a 24 inch, HP all-in-one.  I moved from Windows 7 to Windows 10.  I am still getting use to the new operating system. My laptop is Windows 10, so I was somewhat familiar with it.  In the process I completely cleaned off the top of my desk at home.  I don't think this had been done in 6 or 7 years.  I was surprised by a couple of things I found, and by what stayed.  Hence five questions about what is on your desk.  

1: What is the oldest thing on your desk? 
2: What is the newest thing on your desk? 
3: Do you have stamps on your desk? 
4: How many ink-pens are on your desk? 
5: What is the prettiest thing on your desk? 

My answers: 
1: What is the oldest thing on your desk?  - a little wood tray, that was in the center drawer of J's mother's desk.  
2: What is the newest thing on your desk? The Computer - though by the time this posts there will be a couple of new peripherals.  
3: Do you have stamps on your desk? Yes, in the blue-and white china box, I still write and mail checks to pay bills (how old fashioned!) 
4: How many ink-pens are on your desk? 14, I was surprised, there were more than I thought.  
5: What is the prettiest thing on your desk? A little burl wood box from France, my back-up wedding ring is in it.  

Saturday, October 01, 2016

He's Back!

All of us have someone who started us on blogging, for me it is Mr Bert (not his real name.)  I guest blogged for him for a couple of weeks 11 years ago last summer, while he was on holiday in France (before the days of easy mobile blogging.)  Shortly after he returned from Holiday, I went public with Travel Penguin.  His original Blog went off line a few years ago, and he has been sorely missed.  

Well, HE IS BACK - with a new blog and a new commitment to sharing his story and opinions at  

His 'about me' section on his blog, is kind of short so let me give you a little overview.  He is a Yorkshirman, who lives in the greater London area.  We have known him for about 20 years, his partner  for  a decade or so longer.  In the year's I have known Bert, he has been a theater box office manager, a bookstore manager, an elementary school teacher and a lighting designer.  He has a couple of college degrees.  He is a voracious reader, loves the theater - including the avauntgarde, music and art .  He is a writer at heart. We spent a week with Bert and his Mr Someone in Yorkshire a dozen year's ago. His mother Peggy showed me how to cook lamb stew that is to die for.   

He talks about the art, literature, music, people, and the odd and obscure.  

I welcome him back, take a look and consider following his blog.  

The picture above, was taken a few years ago when we were in London. "Bert" and his Mr Someone, treated us to a heavenly high tea in a small posh hotel.  Everyone should partake of high tea at least once.