Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Random Tourist Watching 3rd Edition

Someplace over the Atlantic, Cumberland Maryland, Brussels , Athens. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

I Can't Let Them In Anymore

Watching and listening to the negativity, dread, anger and disgust (we can come up with a longer list of words) I can't do it, I can't let those thoughts occupy my brain.  It is not that I don't care, but if I let those thoughts fill my being, I won't be able to focus on the things I can do, the way I can make the world a better place.  

A therapist had his patient meet him in a park one day, and he gave her rubber gloves, and garbage bags and had her pick up trash in the park.  As she did they talked, they talked about all of the people who had left trash in her life, all of the negative thoughts that cluttered her mind.  After an hour or so, it hit her, that she was letting other people's trash fill her life - it was a breakthrough moment for her.  If we let others fill our lives with trash, our lives will be filled with garbage. 

A couple had twin boys.  When the boys were about 10 years old one of them was always sad and glum, and one of them was always happy and enthusiastic.  They took the twins to a renown therapist to see if they could even out their outlooks on the world.  The shrink put the first kid, the glum one, in a room with a pony and left him there for an hour. When they came back, the kid was sitting on the floor crying, the pony was the wrong color, the pony didn't like him, he wanted a boy pony and this was a girl pony, he had stepped in piles of horse shit and if he went near the pony it would probably try to bite or kick him.  Gee that didn't work.  The shrink removed the pony from the room, and sent in the happy child and closed the door. When he came back an hour later the kid was running around the room, throwing straw in the air, looking behind bales of hay and having a great time.  When he asked him why he was so happy, he replied, with all of this horse shit there has to be a pony in here someplace.  I choose to look for the pony.   

Are you letting others fill your life with trash?  Are you looking for the Pony? 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Our Favorite Junk Food - 5 - Questions

1: Pretzels or peanuts? 
2: Red wine or white wine? 
3: Potato chips or nacho chips? 
4: McDonald's, Burger King, or Wendy's? 
5: Starbucks or Duncan Doughnuts for coffee? 

My Answers: 
1: Pretzels or peanuts? Peanuts
2: Red wine or white wine? Red
3: Potato chips or nacho chips? Nacho 
4: McDonald's, Burger King, or Wendy's? Wendy's  
5: Starbucks or Duncan Doughnuts for coffee? Starbucks 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Creative Outlets

What is the purpose of art?   Why do we create it, why do we look at it?  Can the audience be a part of art? 

I enjoy museums, now if you visit one with me, be prepared, I move through at a steady pace, pausing occasionally.  If the guidebooks say allow 4 hours for a museum, I will be done and out in 2 hours or less.  I have only met one person faster than me - I had a hard time keeping pace with dear Jen. 

Art can tell a story.  One theory is that early art was a way of communicating in a pre-literate or illiterate society.  Art can transmit emotions, sadness, happiness, loss, triumph, concentration, devotion, distraction or loss.  Art can reflect reality, or be a total flight of fantasy.  Art can be representational.  Art can be nothing that anyone has ever seen, heard or felt. Art can be tiny, or massive. 

I have taken photographs since I was about 10.  I have painted on and off since my late teens - a neighbor Ester Miller taught me to paint.  She was such fun, she described herself as a successful widow, she had burred two husbands, the first one left her a massive farm, the second one a VW, Porsche, Audi dealership.  She had more money than god, and she lived very normally in a modest condo and drove a VW, usually Karmann Ghia.  I took a silver jewelry casting and construction class at Rollins College, I keep promising myself I will go back to working in metals.  

What is your art form? 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Thoughts From an Airline Flight

I am fortunate enough to get to fly several times each year.  I have a few work trips each year and a few personal trips - mostly to see family - repeat trips to the same places.  I know the Orlando airport as well as my home airport, and the American Airlines gate agent in Orlando recognized me this trip.  It is easy to become complacent about yet another trip. 

I can remember when a trip to Florida was something people planned for months, saved up for and got excited about.  Not so for me anymore.  And yet there is an adventure in each trip.  On the most recent trip I saw a bald eagle, a feral pig, a stork, and enough tropical birds to stock a small zoo. I visited dear friends and family - some maybe for the last time (my boss asked about my trip and then asked if I visited anyone who was well on the trip - I did, Blitz the Wonder dog has lost a little weight and is doing very well.)  I enjoyed the change in winter weather. When I dropped off the rental car I had driven 710 miles in four days, I don't drive that much in my car in four months.    

I sometimes wonder where the plane has been.  I have been a lot of places, but there are still places for me to explore.  I wonder if the plane has been to the two states I have not been to. What islands in the Caribbean has it been to that I have yet to explore? I wonder who has sat in this seat, first time flyers excited about going to Florida, someone on the way to meet a new love, someone going home for a funeral, or traveling for the last time - as their personal adventure is coming to an end. Filling those seats is what keeps the airlines flying.  

Sometimes the person sitting next to me has a story to tell and is eager for a willing ear, sometimes not.  I always ask, if they are headed out or headed home. Everyone has an answer for that.  One time the guy sitting next to me on a cross country flight, grunted, took a pill and sent a text message that read "I took the second Xanax, I will wake up over California" and promptly went to sleep for five hours. One person spent the next half hour telling me that she was headed to her childhood home to clean it out for the last time - another explained that she was returning to have her furniture packed and shipped to her new home in the middle east.  I sat next to a guy one time who was a consultant who fired people for a living - he joked you never want to see me coming into your office unless you have hired me.  

I feel very secure flying. Airliners are masterpieces of engineering, even after an emergency landing a few years ago, I eagerly took my seat on the next flight.  Rough weather can make it difficult to hold my Coke Zero, but really is no danger to the plane.  The guys and gals up front, are planning to make it home safe, I am just along for the ride.  

What do you think about when you fly? 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Random Thoughts from a Recent Trip

We need to live the life we have, not the life we want, or think we deserve. Life is cruel, nasty things happen to good people and throw off the neat plans we have for what we are going to have, how we are going to live, what we are going to do, and sometimes you can't change it.  Just like a card game, you have to play the hand you are dealt, not the one you were hoping for.  

About 40 years ago, my grandmother and I went to the funeral of one of my great uncles.  It was the first and only paupers funeral I have ever attended.  Herman, or Dutch as he was known, had led a colorful life, and died penniless.  I remember being shocked my the meager coffin and modest surroundings.  The young Salvation Army Chaplin spoke with me, asking how I knew or was related to Dutch. I commented about the modest casket. He said something I had not really thought of for the past 40 years, when you are dead, earthly wealth ceases.  So my advice to my contemporaries today, you are saving for your last 10 years of life, not for beyond your life, use and enjoy what you have while you can, for when you are dead, money is of no value. The purpose of life is not to die with the highest net worth.   

Any day that you wake up, can wiggle your toes, roll out of bed and move under your own power, is a WONDERFUL day.  Enjoy it. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Rant from an Old School Friend

Interesting shoe laces 

This appeared on Facebook recently posted by a High School Classmate that I have not seen in nearly 40 years.  Facebook has connected us in fun ways. 

"OMG. Why do so many people chose to stew in their own poison? I get so tired of the nasty negative attitudes of those who chose to be hateful and spew their mean spirited views. Life does not go our way all the time. It never has. Many have had a lot of things not go the way they want; no you can't make lemonade with all the lemons that life hands you. Some times you just have to eat a shit sandwich and get through it. The one truism is that you and only you can control how you will handle the situations in you life. You chose whether you will be angry and miserable or if you will chose to make changes when and where you can to be the best you can be and not live a miserable life. NO, we cannot all be "Polly Anna's" and smile all the time; YES we can get sad or angry or negative - but for short periods of time - just to work through the issue and get it out of our systems - then we need to turn our backs on the negative attitudes and work at improving our lives so that we do not forget to see the beauty and good things because we are so busy hating on things we cannot change."

Well said Mary - well said! I moved from where I graduated from high school four months after finishing.  I have not seen very many of my class in nearly 40 years.  There are a few I wish I had stayed in contact with.  

Have you stayed in contact with old school classmates? 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Notable Quotes

"In life, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. Sean Stephenson - in "Get Off Your "But" 

"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that might as well not have lived at all- in which case, you fail by default."  J.K. Rowling's commencement speech at Harvard. 

What can I add to those, sometimes life is hard.  Such is life.  I pick myself up, dust myself off, and move on.  

Monday, January 23, 2017

Inventory Time

Chapel at Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida 
I recently returned from a trip to Florida, visiting family and friends.  I say this often, because I am going there often.  This trip I spent time with several family members or friends who are experiencing serious illnesses - it was interesting to hear how they are reacting to the changes, in some cases very profound changes in their lives. Some are focused entirely on the loss and on what they can't do, others are focused on what they can do, options for the future and on having a little fun along the way.  

It reminded me that it is time to take inventory.  An inventory of what I have. 
1: Health - I am able to move, walk, climb a few flights of stairs, ride a bike. I can still get stronger.  Life is terminal, but nothing appears to be imminently fatal.  I am sleeping better than I have in a couple of years. 

2: Mind - my mind is intact, I can think, I can read, I can still find connections between seemingly unconnected bits of information, I can understand complex concepts, I can find logical connections and logical failures.  I am still able to learn. 

3: Relationships - My sweet bear is the light of my life, I have a small family that seems to get along.  I have a small collection of friends.  I should put more work into social connections - I am starting to understand my social interaction patterns - understanding should lead to improving.  

4: Mobility - I am able to travel. I am able to fly, or take the train.  I am able to drive and I have a comfortable, reliable car (that is paid for.)  I am building up frequent flyer miles for 2018. 

5: Work - I have work that I enjoy, find value in, and that allows me a great deal of freedom.  

6: Creative outlets - I love taking pictures, and blogging.  I occasionally paint (I should do more painting.)  I enjoy writing, and the more I write the easier it is, and I think the better my writing is.    
There are things I could do in the past, that I can't do today.  Things change, my triathlon days are behind me, I travel a little slower than I once did, and I take a little longer to recover. I am no longer trying to be the fiercest in the office.  My photography is much less technical than it once was, I can't get the angles that I once did, my days of crouching in front of the crowd are in the past. I have permanent nerve damage, and my spine hurts everyday in one way or another.  

I can focus on the changes (losses) or on the inventory of what I can do.  I think it better to focus on what I can do.  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Bloom Where You Are Planted - 5 Questions

As I write this (a couple of weeks ahead of it's posting date) I am watching it gently snow outside my window - the first snow of the season is always kind of pretty and magical - then the novelty wears off and I realize that I prefer warmer weather.  I lived in Florida for about 20 years of my life, every January or February I question the choice to live this far north.  Then I remind myself that I am here for LOVE and opportunities.  We all make choices about where we live.  Many times, outside factors beyond the place shape where we are.  No matter where we are, we can find happiness - we just need to settle down and bloom where we are planted.  

1: What was the primary factor that led to you living where you live? 
2: What is your favorite thing about living where you live? 
3: If you could change the place you live, what would you change about it? 
4: What is the most important factor that keeps you in the place you are living? 
5: How many places have you lived in your adult life? 

My answers: 
1: What was the primary factor that led to you living where you live?  - I am in the Washington DC area because I wanted to live in a real city.  I found the job - so I could live here. 

2: What is your favorite thing about living where you live? - Living in a real city - with the subway within a 10 minute walk of my front door. 

3: If you could change the place you live, what would you change about it? I'd love to have more shopping within walking distance. 

4: What is the most important factor that keeps you in the place you are living? My sweet hubby wants to live here when he retires.  

5: How many places have you lived in your adult life? North Branch, Michigan; Titusville, Florida, Orlando, Florida - 5 places there; Lexington, Kentucky; Arlington, Virginia; Alexandria, Virginia - 6 cities - 9 homes or apartments.  

Saturday, January 21, 2017


I have a conference in Boston in late April, I recently booked travel ($152 round trip for air from DC to Boston - a great price.)  I have only been in Boston once before.  I am looking forward to going back.  I am looking forward to finding a lobster, maybe not quite as big as the one above, but definitely worth the work.  When I was a teenager my grandmother took the family out to dinner for my birthday (also her anniversary and my grandfather's birthday.) I ordered a lobster and as I was setting there cracking the shells and sucking out the meat, my father remarked, "at least they butchered my steak before they brought it to me!"  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day

It is Inauguration Day, the peaceful transfer of power.  One of the benchmarks of our democratic system of government.  The new Congress convened a couple of weeks ago, and are off trying to set the wheels in motion.  The disagreement is already welling over. 

It is going to be an interesting four years.  When it is over I have a feeling there is going to be a mess to clean up.  

How long do you think it will take to clean up the mess?  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Random Tourist Watching Third edition

Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart 

Las Vegas, no she didn't want to touch his snake 

Superman may have buns of steel, but the Gladiator . . . . .
What a way to make a living. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Original Disney Park

I started living at least part of the year in Florida in 1972, Walt Disney World had opened near Orlando just a couple of years earlier.  I lived in Orlando from 1980 to 1995.  My middle brother has worked for Disney since 1978.  The last couple of years I lived in Orlando I bought an "Annual Resident Admission" allowing me to go to all of the Florida Disney properties as many times as I wanted for one fixed price.  Needless to say, I have been to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and the Studios many - many - many times.  The Magic Kingdom over 100 times.  That is a lot of Disney.  

I have been to Disneyland, just once. It is the genius of it all.  You can clearly see the roots of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in the layout of the original Disneyland.  Some of the rides were duplicated, some were changed.  The California property is more compact.  

The Magic Kingdom I still enjoy, it is timeless and classic.  The last time I was EPCOT I felt like I was in a time warp - it seriously needed updating, having traveled a lot, the World Showcase felt very fake.  I have not been to the Studios in 20 years, I have been to Animal Kingdom once - and kind of liked it.  

Have you been to Disney? 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Old Queen Street

So is there is a New Queen Street, or was this street named after the old Queen - long may she live. 

My Grandmother was proud to have become an American, and had very little memory of England - but she always had a quiet respect for the British Monarchy. I wonder what she would think of the current state of American Politics - I don't think she would be proud of it.

I am way past due for a visit to London.  It has been 5 or 6 years.  So long in fact that the pound coins that I have will be demonetized this year. London is wonderful and crazy.  It is huge, while being compact, it is diverse, while being British, it is a maze, with an amazing public transit system.  I remember the last visit there, it felt like a second home.  Perhaps I was meant to live on Old Queen Street.  

Where were you meant to live? 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Oh I know just how he feels

Weight, I have been struggling with it since I was a teenager.  It is complicated to need to eat to live, when it is so easy to live to eat.  I have established a new habit, I am doing 30+ minutes on the treadmill or elliptical trainer six days per week.  I have been doing this since mid November.  I have dropped a couple of pounds - though I admit I am not a scale watcher.  The first thing I have noticed is that my fingers are thinner.  Of all the places to lose weight first, it is my fingers. My father always had long bony fingers, I know where I get them from.  They are a proud badge of my heritage. 

There are things I would like to improve about my shape.  I have been prettier in my life.  But more important I want to be able to move freely.  Now think about it, the HUGE seal above, swims and moves about freely, he/she has propelled them self up onto that rock.  You don't have to have a 30 inch waist to move well.  

On this count I am winning.  I can walk for loner periods of time without pain.  I can climb a couple of flights of stairs without being winded.  I still fatigue, by back tells me when I need to take a break and relax.  But I am stronger than I was last year, and last year was better than the year before.  I can recall in the darkest days, telling a doctor that I would be happy to maintain what I had and not lose anymore.  I have gone beyond that I regained a lot.  Little by little, an hour a day, I will continue to gain as long as I can. 

What have your done this week - to gain something that is important to you? 

Sunday, January 15, 2017

36 Odd things about me

Yes, I know it is more than 5 questions, this one came in via Facebook.

36 ODD Things about you! Learn 36 things about your friends, and let them learn 36 things about you! Just copy and change my answers.
1. Do you like Blue cheese dressing? Yes
2. Have you ever smoked cigarettes?Yes
3. Do you own a gun? Several 
4. What flavor Kool-Aid was your favorite? Cherry with extra sugar 
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Yes
6. What do you think of hot dogs? Mystery meat
7. Favorite Christmas movie? Holiday Inn
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coke Zero
9. Can you do push-ups? Not any longer
10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? Don't wear any
11. Favorite hobbies? blogging,. travel, adventure
12. Do you have A.D.D.?  I have never sit still long enough for anyone to evaluate me
13. Do you wear glasses? Yes
14. Who was your childhood idol? Ansel Adams
15. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment. Will he ever be ready; should I start dinner, I am fat
16. Name 2 or 3 drinks you regularly drink? Water, Coke Zero, V-8
17. Current worries? Follow up MRI results
18. Currently hate anyone? Hate is such a strong word
19. Favorite place to be? On an adventure
21. Where would you like to go? London
22. Name three people who will complete this.  Anne Marie, Spo, Anonymous
23. Do you own slippers? No
24. What color shirt are you wearing? gray
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? No
26. Can you whistle? Yes
27. Where are you now? Bedroom
28. Would you be a pirate? Yes
29. What songs do you sing in the shower?  What ever I feel like
30. Favorite Girl's Name? Emily
31. Favorite boy's name? J
32. What's in your pocket right now? Nothing
33. Last thing that made you laugh? The Grand Tour
34. What vehicle do you drive? 2012 Mazda 3 hatch
35. Worst injury you ever had? sprained both ankles
36. How many TVs do you have in your house? 3

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Steam Train Trivia

On most steam locomotives the pistons moved back and forth horizontally and directly drove the wheels.  On a Shay locomotive the pistons moved vertically and drove a drive shaft that drove the wheels through gears.  The horizontal design was capable of much greater speeds, in excess of 100 miles per hour, had fewer moving parts and was easier to build and maintain.  The Shay design was capable of carrying heavier loads up steeper grades.  In fact most Shay locomotives were used in industrial applications like logging and steel mills.  

The Cass Valley Scenic Railway in West Virginia, is an old logging line.  Cass runs sightseeing trains using steam powered Shay locomotives.  It is a wonderful ride in the woods up the side of a mountain.  

Have you ever seen a Shay locomotive in operation?  
Have you ever ridden a steam train? 

Friday, January 13, 2017


You can barely make out the outline of my building in the fog (center just behind the evergreen.)  The walk from my condo to the nearest subway station crosses a large open park.  Last spring someone paved a new path along the edge of the park, making the walk relatively easy and level.  I am still working on rebuilding my strength and endurance, when I can I walk to the subway (the condo runs a shuttle bus, and I can also drive and park at the station.)  

I love a foggy morning, assuming I don't have to try to drive through it.  It reminds me of early winter mornings in Florida when I was in middle and high school.  School started early, I have vivid memories of riding a bike in the fog up US-1.  

All in all, I like condo living.  I didn't enjoy lawn work or gardening.  I don't have to deal with any exterior maintenance. I walk across the hall and drop trash down the magic cute and it is taken care of from there.  I have access to nice amenities, (I have been using the gym 6 times a week since mid November.)  The compact space is forcing me to think, do I really want or need that in my life, in this space, it is in my life, not out of sight in the other end of the house.  The only thing that would make it better would be more shopping that I could easily walk to.  If only they would build a Whole Foods in the park. A developer that owns property between here and the Metro station has talked to Metro about rebuilding the wobbly parking garage at the station, in exchange for being allowed to build retail space above the garage - in my dreams.  

Tell us about where you live?   

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Tourist Watching Second Edition

Las Vegas, waiting for the Bellagio Fountains 

Grant Park in Chicago 

Titusville, Florida 

Newport Aquarium, Kentucky

People seemed to enjoy my tourist watching photos, so here is another set.  

See anything that looks like fun? 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pushing Through the Tough Days

Ugg! It was a challenging day.  My collaborators on a couple of major projects are not collaborating.  The office bureaucracy is making it impossible to do anything the easy way.  A coworker who is doing the work of three people, is slamming projects through without thinking about others.  It was cold and humid outside - not my kind of weather.  

I was on the second endless conference calls this afternoon and was mindlessly web surfing while trying to pay attention, and I opened the link for the pictures of the last summer's trip to Italy.  Someplace about Venice, I felt the stress start to melt away.  Ah! How do I push through the tough days, by remembering the adventures that all of this makes possible.  http://picturesoftheadventure.blogspot.com/?view=classic 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Easily Distracted by Bright Shiny Objects

Fun to look at, but would I seriously want to own one?  No. 
I prefer something lower in maintenance. I like my car, but I don't obsess over keeping is clean and shiny.  It is there when I need it, but it is not the center of my life. I don't worry that someone might touch it, or scratch it, (it has been hit twice in 5 years.)   I have owned a lot of cars (like 15 of them in 40 years.)  Some were junk, some very nice.  In the end, my middle of the line, easy to drive, no need to be obsessed over it car does everything I need.  

Still I like pretty cars, I like fast cars, like classic luxury cars.  I am easily distracted by them. But I don't need to own one.  I do have a soft spot for a soft top - I should own a convertible while I can still enjoy it.  

What are you easily distracted by? 

Monday, January 09, 2017

Health Update Good News and Sad News

First the good news, my spine and all of the related hardware is right where we left it the last time, and nothing appears to be growing where it shouldn't be. The strength and control in my legs was normal, my reflexes are weird - probably always will be. My next follow up is set for 12 months (up from 6 months.) For anyone wondering what this is about, look back at May-July of 2015 for my adventures with a spinal tumor. 

The sad news, my neurosurgeon is leaving.  I like him, I like his attitude, his personal style, and I believe my ability to roll out of bed, wiggle my toes, feel my toes and walk - is largely a result of his talent and dedication to details.  He is a young Doctor, I would say probably mid 40's.  He is not happy with the direction "corporate medicine" is headed. Between the insurance companies and trying to make his corporate employer happy it is not worth it for him. He works crazy hours. He is going to do research and teaching, maybe cover emergency rooms one weekend a month.  His talents are a real loss to the community.  

Traveling Solo

I am frequently a solo traveler.  Nearly all of my work trips are done alone, on the very rare occasion that one of my colleagues is attending the same meeting or conference, we almost always travel independently.  Jay and I travel together for leisure, though sometimes we end up on different flights, we have met up in Stuttgart, Athens, and London, having left home on different days and traveled entirely different routes. Because we work in two different cities, we travel back and forth solo to see one another.  I have family in Florida, and travel to see them every year - often solo.  

There are things I like about traveling solo - and there are things I don't. 

I like: 
  •  Being in control of the schedule and agenda
  • Not needing to wait for anyone
  • Only needing to check one person in for a flight and check luggage for one person
  • Only needing to keep track of myself and my luggage 
  • Being able to sit alone on planes or trains 
  • Being alone in hotel rooms 
I don't like: 
  • Eating dinner out alone  
  • Doing all of the problem solving solo 
  • Not having anyone to watch the bags for a few minutes while I take a walk in the airport or shop in the shops 
  • Not having anyone to share the adventure or wonders with 
What do you like about traveling solo? 

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Back to the Sunday Five Questions

I had questioned, if I would continue the Sunday Five Questions, it is not always easy coming up with questions, and then this popped up on my Facebook feed.  Five simple questions - the alternate format is fun and kind of easy.  I will try this for a while longer.  

1: Cats or Dogs - probably Cats, though Blitz the wonder dog is working hard on opening my mind 

2: Tea or Coffee - Coffee - dark and strong. 

3: Sports or Music - Music 

4: Books or Movies - Books 

5: Sun or Rain -  Sun by a narrow margin 

And yours? 

Saturday, January 07, 2017

San Juan Memories

I did a project in San Juan, Puerto Rico, late March, early April about 9 years ago.  I left the frozen mid-west, with the trees weeks away from having leaves, and arrived in San Juan a few hours later to 75 degrees, and windy.  Very windy, a steady wind blew in off the water all of the time I was there.  My room at the Hilton had sliding glass doors onto a small balcony, I opened the door and the wind nearly blew me over.  I slept to the sound of the wind whistling in the windows. Yet it was warm.  

PR was an easy place for an American to travel to.  First, no passport, immigration or customs issues for US citizens, we forget that PR is part of the USA. I don't speak Spanish and found that little difficulty in communicating. The people were wonderful, the taxi drivers were kind and welcoming.  The food was tropical and tasty.  The local host for the program was the AARP state director.  They did an incredible job of planning and organizing.  The audience was warm and welcoming.  My only regret was that the trip was short, just two nights, and mostly work.  I would go back on a moments notice.  

What island would you like to wake up on tomorrow? 

Friday, January 06, 2017

My that is a Big One!

There are tall cities and short cities.  I work in Washington DC, a wonderful short city.  Not the only great world capital that is short, so is Paris, Rome, Athens, until the last 20 years London.  DC and Paris are short cities, as in cities filled with short buildings, by choice.  DC passed building limitations limiting the height of the building based on the width of the street right of way, as a way to preventing tall building from blocking the view of Washington Monument.  Paris had done something similar.  

Yet, I truly love big ones, tall buildings, cities with towering skylines - like New York, Philly, Chicago, and San Francisco.  

I read that if you want to draw a lot of page views, writing an enticing headline - I'll tell you in a few days if this one worked. 

So do you prefer tall cities or short cities?

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Go Do It!

Where do you want to go?  What do you want to do?  What is standing in your way?  What is holding you back?  

Time - a lot of us think time is standing in our way.  Guess what we all have the same amount of time.  The demands on our time, always exceed the time that is available.  Everyday, we let things slip, so that other things get done.  The difference between those who go and do what they want to do, and those who don't, is making different decisions about what you are not going to do, or are going to spend less time doing today.  Many of us fear that if we work fewer hours, either our work will not get done, or our employers will decide they don't need us.  Through my medical adventures back in May - July of 2015, I learned that the office didn't stop getting work done when I was not there, and at the end they were very glad to have me back - they kept saying things like, I didn't really understand what you did, until I tried to do it.  

Money - I tend to travel cheap - travel is a priority for me - I drive a lesser car - I fly more and stay in nicer hotels - I am a bargain shopper on clothes - I find fun adventures along the way.  I leverage frequent traveler programs for free or reduced cost air travel, free and reduced price hotel rooms.  I focus nearly all of my travel on two airlines, and two hotel groups.  I use credit cards that earn me extra frequent flyer or hotel points.    

What is standing in the way of you next adventure?  What choices can you make to make the adventure happen? 

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Forward Into the Fog

We like to see where we are going, we like to think that we are in control of our destiny, and to some extent we are.  But in other ways we are not.  When faced with a fog, you can stand still and not move, or you can moved boldly forward into the fog.  If you stand still, don't be disappointing when you later find yourself in the same place you were before. Only by moving forward into fog, will you find yourself moved in the direction you want to move.  Now I am not advocating wildly running forth, but, if like this train, you have some direction, even if you can't clearly see what is ahead, move forward on that track.  There will be surprises, some bad, but most of them good.  Only by moving forward, will you move from where you are.  A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step.  

What direction are you moving today? 

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Tourists in Venice

I kind of enjoy people watching.  In my mind I am creating the story for the people I see.  I do it when I travel, I do it when I am on the subway train to and from work.  

Are the two guys in the top picture traveling together?  Do you think guy in the black shirt knows that he looks wonderful in those shorts?  In the bottom picture, is the young girl in the T-shirt and leggings seriously window shopping, or just marveling at the sights?  If the woman in the purple t-shirt comfortable?  Is she hoping there is someplace ahead to sit down?  

What do you think about when you sit and watch people? 

Monday, January 02, 2017

Leap and the Net Will Appear

I have read a couple of places recently about the walls that contain our creativity, are the walls we build around ourselves.  Over the decades I have set limitations, or let my fears of the unknown, or of change, of venturing outside of my comfort zone, hold me hostage.  We all do it.  And there have been times when I have taken the leap, going outside my comfort zone and I am glad to report that it has pretty much always turned out just fine.  

I recently offered a friend the suggestion that if he is seeking adventure in his life, he should do the thing that scares the shit out of him or the thing that brings a tear to his eye, or makes his voice crack when he talks about it.  We need to do the things that take us outside of our comfort zones.  

Sometimes these a big bold moves, sometimes they are little things, close to home, but outside our usual routine.  I still get goose bumps when I think about riding on a Zeppelin, but I also get the same feeling when I think about the first time I went to the Union Market in NE DC.  It is in an area of town, I had never been to, it was venturing into a different world, and yet it was close to home and easy to get to.  Going to law school was a big leap, even a bigger leap was taking the job in DC 8 years ago.  

There are a few leaps yet to come.  I want to ride in a hot air balloon.  I want to drive an Indy Car.  I have two states left to set foot in so I will have been to all of them (plus DC and Puerto Rice.) I want to live in another country for 2 or 3 months, long enough to immerse myself in the culture.  I want to see a volcano.  There are other simpler ones close to home.  A couple of rails to trails ride near home I want to experience.  There is a new MGM Casino just across the rive from home that I want to see.  I want to snag an invitation to the White House.  I want to join the Bar of the Supreme Court ($200 and a little paperwork.)  

The bridges above.  The modern bridge is one of the few "S" shaped bridges in the world.  The steel railroad bridge, is no longer used by trains.  It is owned by a bungee jumping company.  Talking about taking a leap.  

What do you want to do that is outside your comfort zone?  

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Keep on Rolling

Riding a bike is an amazing way to get to know a place.  When you walk you see the people, the traffic, and the sidewalks (pavement to the Brits) at a pedestrian pace.  When you drive or ride in a car, you see traffic and building from the window line up at a faster pace.  Riding a bike is a mix of the two, it is faster than walking, more exposed than driving.  On a bike you feel the texture of the place.  You smell the essence of the landscape.  On a bike you know where the hills are - both going up and coming down.  

I am so glad I learned to ride as a child, and that I have rediscovered the joys of riding as an adult.  

I only travel with a bike, when I am driving, and then only when I am traveling solo - I don't a car large enough for a bike, two people and luggage.  I have rented bikes when I travel.  More and more cities have "Bike Sharing" systems.  I have used bike shares in Boston, Chicago, New York, and DC (I am an annual member in DC.)  I have rented bikes in San Francisco a couple of times.  Don't be afraid to rent a bike.  The good rental services will have a bike in your size, in good repair.  They provide a lock, and most provide loaner helmets.  

The Bike Sharing services provide daily or short term memberships.  Pretty much all of them work the same way.  You use a credit card, it charges the rental fee to your card, and places a security hold on your card (usually $200.)  You ride the bike, dock it at the next station, and when you are ready for your next ride within the period of you have paid for, you use the same credit card, it verifies your number and does not charge you as long as you are within the time frame you paid for.  You can use a dozen bikes in the same day, without an extra charge.  The Bike Sharing systems have a time limit on each ride, generally 30 minutes.  To avoid an extra charge, you need to return - or dock the bike within 30 minutes of starting checking it out. But you can turn around and check the bike back out again - immediately.  If you are a casual rider, 30 minutes is a long ride, most time you will be glad to return the bike, take a break and then check out another bike and move on.  The key to a longer ride with a bike share bike, is to break the ride into short, less than 30 minute segments.  If you planning a ride longer than 30 minutes (4-5 miles) don't use a Bike Sharing system - rent a bike from a service.  

Does your town have Bike Sharing or a good bike rental service? 

New Years Goals

 Happy New Years! 

A year go I posted the following for my goals for 2016. How did I do? 
  • I need to rebuild my strength and stamina.  I will keep walking and riding the bike, and I will get back in the gym this year. 
    • I did okay on this, I am stronger, still not ready to climb a mountain, or ride a bike across the country, but much stronger than I was.  
  • Eat more carefully - allow an indulgence - but balance it with care  
    • I did good on this one.  Quality over quantity.  
  • Continue to write in an array of ways.  A page a day in the office would finish a book in a couple of years.  
    • Not so good, rather than make excuses, I'll simply say, I dropped the ball on this.  I could have done better. 
  • Blog everyday 
    • Mission accomplished. 
  • Balance work and personal time 
    • I did really good.  I have recently started limiting checking office email when I am not working.  A day off, needs to be a day off.  I don't sleep in my office, I try not to work in my bedroom. 
  • Add a personal day to work trips whenever possible 
    • Fail.  I had planned this for California last January and a snow storm delayed my outbound flight, I didn't do this on the rest of the year.  I need to work on this.  
  • Seek out variety in everyday life - the routine things in life need not be boring 
    • This is a work in progress,  I am a creature of habit and variety requires variation from habit.  I did a hybrid rail and bike commute for a week when Metro was doing track work, Why didn't I do that after that?  
  • See some of my virtual friends in the flesh 
    • Fail.  Sorry Anne Marie, John Gray and Dr. Spo - can we make it happen in 2017? 

            Goals for 2017
  •  *  Give myself six hours per week, to go to the gym, walk on the treadmill, the elliptical, swim, ride a bike, take a hike, or take an unnecessary walk. 
  • *  Continue to seek organization in my life, the other closet and the bookcase in my bedroom need to be sorted through this year.  I will feel better for having done that. 
  • *  Set aside $20 a week out of my "spending money" to buy myself indulgences.  
  • *  Deliver a surprise, a random act of kindness to someone, at least once per month. 
  • *  To be humble and give others credit. 
  • *  To think seriously about what I want to do with the last quarter of my career. It is not so much about legacy, as it is about doing work that I find rewarding in the here and now.
  • *  Add a personal day, into at least one of the three work trips I have planned for this year.
  • *  Blog every day.
  • *  Check at least one item off of the list of things I'd like to do before I die. 
  • *  Have more music in my life.  

  • So, what are your goals, or New Year's resolutions?