Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday Five Questions on Trump's first 100 Days in Office

Traditionally the first 100 Days a new President is in office is called the honeymoon.  The new administration is getting into place, learning their way around, the new Congress (with many of the same faces) is getting settled in and at times they have been nice to one another. In theory this should really be an easy time when the same political party is in charge of the Executive branch and Congress.  But, not always.  Not when there is deep division within the party, or when the new administration lacks a real plan.  

So Trump's first 100 days are over, what do you think? 

1: Trump promised to "drain the swamp in DC," do you think it is dryer or wetter in DC? 

2: Were you surprised when Trump didn't really have a plan fix the health care system in the United States and assure that EVERY American had better coverage for lower prices?  

3: One "success" in the first 100 days, and yes I know the Senate broke changed it's own rules to confirm him, was Judge Neil Gorsuch joining the Supreme Court.  Do you have hope that Gorsuch will be impartial? 

4: Who is your least favorite Presidential adviser? 

5: Do you think will last through his first term in office? 

My Answers: 
1: Trump promised to "drain the swamp in DC," do you think it is dryer or wetter in DC? 

I am astounded at the lack of understanding of conflict of interest, the ethics of this administration are bizarre, the Senate fucked with the rules to get the outcome they wanted on Judge Gorsuch, after nearly a year of refusing to even grant a hearing on a Supreme Court nominee.  The swamp is very much worse.  I am deeply disappointed, there was an opportunity for real change, but I am not surprised.  

2: Were you surprised when Trump didn't really have a plan fix the health care system in the United States and assure that EVERY American had better coverage for lower prices?  

I knew he didn't have the political capital to deliver what he promised, and I don' think he really had a clue how complex the issues are.  

3: One "success" in the first 100 days, and yes I know the Senate broke changed it's own rules to confirm him, was Judge Neil Gorsuch joining the Supreme Court.  Do you have hope that Gorsuch will be impartial? 

I listened to a couple of hours of the confirmation hearings and I am optimistic. His personal views are more conservative than I would like, but I truly think he will be a good judge.  

4: Who is your least favorite Presidential adviser? 

Without a doubt, Kelly Anne Conway - simply put she is the queen of alternative facts, she overtly promoted the President's daughter business on national television and failed to see that she did anything wrong. She is a bright and well educated woman, her acts are not stupidity, the acts are evil and self interest.   

5: Do you think will last through his first term in office? 

I don't think that he will.  He loves to win, and this is the toughest game he has ever played, and one he is ill prepared for, it would not surprise me if he went back to New York and said, send me what needs to be signed - I am done.  Maybe he stopped coloring his hair and tanning after winning, but he looks worse than he did when he was elected.  I think the demands of the job are taking a toll on his health (despite spending ever other weekend on the golf course in Florida.)  He has surrounded himself with people who don't understand the concept of ethics - he needs to be careful or they will take him down with them - and frankly we really don't need the distraction of an impeachment (or do we?) 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Beauty in the Details

So what is this a photograph of, I hear you ask.  It is a cast iron downspout on a Chateau in Normandy.  Why the downspout is cast iron, instead of something cheaper or easier I don' know.  Why is was cast in a swirl, rather than a simple round pipe, I don't know. Why someone took the time to incorporate a leaf emblem in the casting, I don't know.  What I do know is that these details add enduring beauty. The routine things in life, a simple pipe to carry rain water away from the roof, becomes a thing of beauty because someone made it out of a durable material, added a twist and a flourish.  I need to remember to add a twist and flourish to the routine things in my life.  

What have you seen recently that was wonderfully decorative when it didn't need to be? 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Commute - Metro Moments

Metro Rail, the DC Subway system is my daily ride to and from the office.  The most recent time I drove to the office was May 4th, 2015 - almost two years ago.  Yes, I remember the date.  

Metro just finished a month of major track rebuilding on my line. During the four weeks of work, trains ran once every 24 minutes, instead of the usual once every 6 to 12 minutes.  To avoid the sardine like riding conditions at Rush-Hour I was going in early, boarding the train at the time I usually get out of bed in the morning, and coming home early.  I liked the getting home early part, the going in two hours early was a real bitch.  Made me more of a bitch than usual.  I am glad it is over. 

I didn't realize how great the service was, until Metro made it much worse for a month.  Maybe that is the hidden agenda, make the service intolerably terrible, so when it returns to just terrible, people will think it is great. 

The ride is a little better, there are only a couple of spots along the route where it feels like they buried a dead burro under the rails.  The goal is to make the trains less likely to fall over - it is embarrassing when that happens. And hopefully to keep the tracks and electrical supply from catching fire - though they had another track fire this week - and kept driving trains over it until a passenger called the fire department.  

I was waiting on the lower platform at Gallery Place one afternoon recently and a commotion took place near me.  A young woman screamed, I looked and she was in the arms of a young man.  The man standing in front of me was laughing.  When he caught his breath, he explained.  The young lady was headed up the stairs, and a mouse was coming down the stairs.  She saw the mouse, screamed, jumped into the arms of the nearest guy wearing tight blue jeans.  The mouse turned tail and went to the upper platform - the Red Line, at afternoon Rush Hour - the poor mouse is likely still trying to get to her destination.  

Some days, the views on Metro make it all worth while.    

How is your daily commute? 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Is It Too Late?

Is it too late for me to take up american Football, or Rugby, or Hockey?  I never played any of those sports.  The reasons are complicated, very much like my middle and high school years.  I might have enjoyed it, I certainly would have enjoyed the views.  Is it just me or does Rugby have the best player uniform of any sport?  Just enough of it, in all the right places, without there being too much of it.  

Those distracting thoughts are getting me off the point.  

As you know I ride the Metro Rail subway system on a daily basis.  Unlike the lovely picture above, at rush hours - the platforms are generally packed with people.  Many of whom are more interested in their phone than in were they are going.  Others weave back and forth like drunks, the worst being people wearing lethal high heels - kind of like drunks walking on stilts.  I am very much a point A to point B person.  These people get in my way. 

If I learned to body block, and tackle, getting through the stations at rush hour would be so much easier.  The drunks on stilts can't be that hard to "bump" out of the way.  

Would you play rugby at your age? 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Well, Shallow Thoughts on Deep Subjects

When I was a kid, and I would answer a question with a contemplative, "well", my father would respond, that is a deep subject.  Many things in life turn out to be deep subjects.  As much as we like clear simple, right or wrong, yes or no, answers, many issues do not have binary answers. 

Some current thoughts:

Is there anything duct tape won't fix? 

Is it better to speak up and be thought a fool, or to remain silent and have people wonder if you are a fool? 

Can an outsider, be an outsider, if he is surrounded by insiders? 

What do I want to be, when I grow up? 

Why haven't I ever owned a boat? 

If the average american man lives to age 78, am I really that close to dead? 

What was Achilles name when he lived among the women? 

What questions leave you searching for answers? 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Where is Home, It's complicated

I was strolling through the photo archives and I came across this.  It was taken near where I presented a training on health care decision making in south central Kentucky back in 2008.  It was part of a traveling road show, we did three programs, in three remote locations in one week. Most of us stayed in hotels along the way, one of the trainers insisted on driving herself home each night and back to the training location each day.  Her average day was over 300 miles of driving.  She insisted that she wanted to go "home" each night if she could.  

If you ask me where home is it is complicated.  I was born in rural Michigan.  I went to the first grade in Phoenix Arizona.  I went to half of high school in Michigan and half of high school in Florida.  I lived in central Florida for 18 years.  I lived in Kentucky for 15 years, I still own a home there and go back a couple of times a year (husbear teaches there.)  I own a condo in Alexandria Virginia and work in Washington DC.  I have no desire to live in Michigan, the place of my birth ceased being home soon after I moved away.  I like Florida, but I am not sure I would want to live there again. Kentucky was a place of opportunity - not a place we ever planned to live for a long term.  Virginia is okay, but I have little connection to the place.  I own two homes, but I am not terribly attached to either of them - neither feels like home.  Like I say, it is complicated. 

Where is home for you? 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Washington Union Station

Passenger train travel works really well from New York to Washington DC.  All in from check in to walking into the city center, train travel is generally faster than flying along the east coast corridor - and cheaper - and more comfortable.  DC and Philadelphia are fortunate to have their classic passenger train stations.  Penn Station in New York, is a 60's vintage disaster.  Grand Central Station in New York is spectacular, but it is all local commuter rail, Amtrak uses Penn Station and it is a nasty mess. I have not been in Philly for a few years, I do hope that the city is working on restoring the station there, it is a great classic.  

Washington Union Station was likely saved from the wrecking ball by being redone as a visitors center for the Bicentennial Celebration in 1976.  That remodel also added to the station a Metro Rail Subway station, it is one of the busiest stations in the Metro system.  

In the Mid 70's remodel the main hall had a two story restaurant plunked down in the middle of it, and four large fountain / planters placed around the floor.  The ceiling was damaged a few years ago in an earthquake, and had been under restoration for the past 2- years.  I was in the Station for lunch recently and was amazed, the ceiling restoration is finished, the restaurant and planters have been removed.  The room has been restored to it's original glory.  It is spectacular.  

What is your favorite public space in your town? 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Five - Hairy Questions

1: Getting your hair cut, a pleasure, or just something that has to be done? 
2: Is your hair the same color it was 20 years ago? 
3: Chest hair on men, do you prefer none, a little or a lot? 
4: Would you wear a wig? 
5: How often do you wash your hair? 

My answers:
1: Getting my haircut is usually stressful and something that just has to be done. The stress part is a holdover from my childhood.
2: Largely yes, there is a bit more grey, but not that much
3: Despite being married to a sweet bear, I prefer none. 
4: I never have worn a wig, generally hairpieces on men look silly. 
5: Five or six times a week - probably more than I should.  

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spring Wisdom From My Grandfather

My Grandfather on my father's side was born on a farm, about 60 miles from St Louis on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. He understood nature, the cycle of life, the  rhythm of seasons. By the time I came into the picture, he had worked in the Ford Rouge Plant for three decades, left that to keep bees full time, raise a garden, hunt and fish.  About the time I was born my grandparents started spending winters in Istachatta, Florida.  

When I was in middle school, I was helping out with the gardens.  My grandparents had returned from Florida, and we were talking about planing tomatoes one spring, I was watching the calendar waiting for the first day of spring.  My grandfather told me to ignore the calendar, and look to the oak trees. He taught me, "when the leaves on the oak trees, are as big as a squirrel's ear, we are free of frost for the season and it is safe to plant."  For over 40 years, I have tested his lesson, and every year he has been right.  

I don't know where he learned this lesson, but I know where I did.

What did you learn from a grandparent?   


Friday, April 21, 2017

A Visit From the Board of Directors at Spo-Reflections

Okay, Okay, Okay, I have just had a long visit from the Board of Directors at Spo-Reflections  informing me that I have been posting the most boring postings - posting that fail to draw even hate comments - only yawns.  Hence this posting was going to be: 
What Have I Been Reading 8th Edition 
Apparently no one wants to comment about what I have been reading.  I will leave the book review below, and not write about the latest book I finished today (it was funny and about France.)   

So, what is happening in the world.  

Bill O’Reilly is out at Fox News amid sexual harassment claims.  

I have to start with saying that he may have worked on what bills itself as "news" but he was not a news reporter.  He was a partisan political commentator who made his fame by inviting guests onto his talk show and then bullying and belittling them.  He had very little respect or care for the facts, even alternative facts. His style of journalism would make Dan Rather roll over in his grave - if Dan Rather was dead (he isn't - who knew) a simple fact check O'Reilly might well have failed to make.  My father will miss him, Dad believed what this windbag said. 

His fall from grace, was not for his lack of journalistic standards, but a long term habit and pattern of sexual harassment and abuse in the work place.  As someone who was once sexually harassed in work place, I am glad that Fox finally said enough is enough.  I am furious that they have waited this long.  This was nothing new, this was not the first coworker who spoke out. Sexual harassment is not fun, or sexy, or normal, it leaves the object feeling disgusted, powerless, and fearful. Some of his other targets have been paid off to go silent, money can not heal the trauma or restore the self image for his coworkers - I do hope they find peace and realize that HE WAS THE PROBLEM, not them.  No one should be treated the way he treated people.  

I am glad to see him go.  

Who else should go? 

I just finished "Stir: My Broken Brain and The Meals that Brought Me Home" by Jessica Fector.  I mentioned this book on Facebook the other day, how good is it, I was so involved in reading it that I missed a station I needed to change subway trains at. In 8.5 years of riding the metro, that has only happened three times.  I was surprised at how interesting the book was, how well written. 

The author was a 20-something PhD student at Harvard, when she collapsed at a conference in Vermont, with a brain aneurysm. The book is a narrative in which she describes what happened, and the role that cooking and baking played in her two years of recovery. It is an inside look at both the physical and emotional process of serious illness and recovery.  It is not a "cookbook" but because food, baking and cooking play a central role in the narrative, the book is peppered with recipes you will want to try.  For the author, returning the kitchen was returning to normal "healthy" life.  

The story hit a personal note for me.  I am coming up on two years since my little adventure in spinal surgery. I understand the role in returning to normal is in recovery. J will tell you that I was home from the rehab hospital less than an hour, and I was fixing myself lunch and starting a load of laundry (the occupational therapist showed me how to do laundry, how to get things in and out of the refrigerator, how load the dishwasher before I came home - she was really great.)   

So what are you reading? 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What do I need more of in my life?

I live a pretty good life, I like where I live, I am reasonably well paid, I eat what ever I want, and I travel a comfortable amount.  And yet somethings are missing. I got to thinking "what do I need more of in my life?"  Here are a few rambling thoughts. 

I need to listen to people talk about things that I know nothing about.  I have reached the point in life where "been there - done that," covers most things. When I listen to others I am more validating what I think I already know, than I am exploring new ideas.  I need knew ideas, new experiences in my life.  

I need to spend time with people who are different than I am. I find myself with hardening of the attitudes about people who are different, the best solution is getting to know people whose life experience is different than mine. If I understand their point of view, I don't have to agree with it, but it is easier to tolerate difference, when I understand it. 

I need to spend more time thinking and being creative.  I get so busy, that I am doing, not thinking.  

What do you need more of in your life? 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

French Birds

If we could understand the language of birds, what would they tell us? 

Would she tell us what it is like to fly, what the world looks like from above?  
Would she tell us what it is like to forage for food, to find shelter from the weather, refuge from predators?  
Would she talk about the places she has visited, the adventures she has had? 
Would she talk about family, and mates, and relationships with other birds? 
Do birds gossip? 
I wonder if this bird knows he is French? That he is at Mt St Michele? 

What would you ask the bird? 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Long-Long Time Ago

I took this picture of  my paternal Grandmother about 40 years ago at Williamsburg, Virginia.  After my grandfather died in 1976, she and I traveled a fair bit in the eastern part of the United States.  She and my grandfather had spent 25 winters in Florida.  Always driving the most efficient route, and never stopping between point A and point B, except to eat, put gas the car and sleep overnight.  She wanted to take the slow roads, and stop where ever something looked interesting.  So we did.  

This would have been taken with a Cannon F-1, with probably a 50mm f1.4 lens, using a Kodak professional color negative film.  I would have had at least two other lenses with me, a 28mm f2.8 and a 135mm f3.5.  There might have been a 200mm, and a 100 to 200mm zoom in the bag.  Later when I had a chance I added a couple more lenses and a motorized body to the bag.  Oh, yes I was camera crazy.  There are three digital cameras on my desk, some things never change.  

She has been gone about 21 years, she died right around tax day. Nearly to the end her mind stayed sharp, her hearing, eyesight and mobility failed after she was in her 80's.  She voluntarily moved to assisted living about 5 years before she died. She stayed there until the last three weeks.  

She was my grandmother, and my best friend.  I learned a lot from her.  Late in life, she shared with me family secrets and talked about things she had never talked about.  Her family had tickets for the Titanic, her sister got sick and they were advised to wait a few days and take the next ship.  She arrived in New York as the empty lifeboats from Titanic were being unloaded at the pier, that experience haunted her.  Her younger sister had a child out of wedlock and that was left at the hospital for adoption - no one in the family talked about it, her sister died of chronic alcoholism - I have sometimes wondered if the family had talked about it, if Floss might have been able to cope with life without booze. After my grandfather died, my grandmother went out on two dates.  She said it felt good to feel desirable, but she felt like it was cheating on my grandfather and broke it off.   

Tell us about a special relationship you had with a family member or friend. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

What Have I Been Reading 7th Edition

"How To Say It ® To Seniors: Closing the Communications Gap with Our Elders by David Solie, M.S., P.A. 

If you work with older adults, or have older family members, or are getting older yourself, you need to read this book.  I work on aging issues, my background is in communications theory, I read a lot of books on aging, advance planning, end of life issues and effective communication, and this is simply the best book I have read in a couple of years.  The book explores the "developmental agenda" of older adults, and offers advice on breaking down the barriers to communication with adults near the end of life. The ideas in this book, will make you more effective as a professional and as a family member.   

Libraries are filled with developmental psychology for children, adolescents and young adults.  It might be easy to assume that emotional development is complete when we are independent adults, but research shows that it is not.  Two major factors emerge late in life, a need to remain in control as our health and social system around us are changing, and a need to review and redefine our lives events to develop our legacy, how we will, or how we want to be remembered.  Other scholars describe this process as re-indexing of memories.  These psychological drivers impact the communication interactions with older adults.  Understanding these factors and how to leverage these factors to enhance rather than inhibit communication with older adults is what this book is about.  The author explains how to explain options and allow older adults make choices that are right for the individual.  How to understand that the persons choice may be different than what others think is in "their best interest."   

When talking with older adults it is common for the conversation to take wild turns (not only with older adults, I do this also.)  The text explains this as a non-linear conversation. For example you ask about cleaning out the junk drawer in the kitchen, and you get an answer about the person's mother replacing the glass in a kitchen window.  David Solie explains why it is important to let the conversation go with the flow.  Frequently these changes in topic are associated with revealing something the person highly values, or has never revealed.  By listening to the person, we learn more about what is important to the person, than we do by trying to stay on message and on point.  

A good deal of the book talks about legacy development and organic legacy.  The author explains that this is not just about money, it is about examining and redefining life's events, to create or define how the person will or wants to be remembered.  For persons with wealth, this may be deciding how their estate will be planned, but it also includes non-economic legacy of values and memories.  
The book explains how these processes drive the agenda of the Person. By understanding and facilitating the process we can help move the process forward and enhance communication.  Failing to do this, can result in disagreement and conflict instead of communication.   

Simply put, I urge you read this book. The book is available on Amazon in print or Kindle edition.   

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday Five - This or That this Week

If you have a choice, do you prefer: 
1:  The Ocean or the Desert? 
2:  Big Surf or a Glassy Bay?
3:  Planes or Trains?
4:  Power boats or Sail Boats 
5:  Sunrise or Sunset

My answers: 
1:  The Desert, there is something magical about it 
2:  Glassy Bay - I love the reflections in calm waters 
3:  Trains - I fly a lot and I love to fly, but trains are so comfortable
4:  Power boats - it is a control issue
5:  Sunrise - I am more of a morning person 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Morning Air on My Face

John Gray over at Going Gently mentioned recently leaving work after an especially difficult night, and the Doctor who had been in charge overnight saying, " I will be so grateful to feel the sun on my face in the morning."   For me it is often the morning air, I frequently leave for the office before sunrise.  It was a great reminder how wonderful it is to have another day to enjoy. 

We all face challenges in our lives.  We will all die someday.  But while we are here, we have the joy of each day.  To make the most of it, I have to remind myself from time to time. 

Each day is a new opportunity, 

  • The ghosts of the past only control today, if I let them.
  • The fears of the future, are fears of things that most likely will not happen. 
  • I can plan for the future, but I can not control it. 
  • Every dawn, is a chance to start anew. 
  • About 6,800 people died in the USA yesterday, I was not one of them, I am one of the lucky ones. 
  • Everyday I can be happy, have fun and brighten the day of another person. 
  • Happiness is a choice, an attitude I can chose to have. 
  • I am fortunate to have the resources and opportunities that I have. 
  • I could live a good and meaningful life with less than I have.
  • Life is short, use the good stuff today, you can't take it with you. 
  • Forgiving is something we do for ourselves, helping the other person is incidental and beyond my control.  
  • I can give respect, but receiving respect is beyond my control. 

What are you grateful for today? 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Adding the colorful paper lanterns, transforms this kind of dark alley of a walkway between two buildings from a place that is kind of scary, into a place that you want to walk into and explore. There are some really nice shops along the way.  

A little color or brightness can make a big difference.  

When I started my current job, I remarked to the boss, that I would bring in all of the diplomas and licenses and put up the "Wall of Credibility" in my office.  Doing this is expected in professional offices. His response was, "do that, if it is what you want to do, or put up in your office things that make you feel good about being here, things that brighten your day, and make you feel good." I don't see clients in my office, it is my private work space. I thought about it and I put the wall of credibility up in my bedroom at home, and filled my office with art and travel mementos. The wall of credibility reminds me when I get up in the morning, that I have come a long way in life.  The art in my office brings color and the travel mementos remind me that work balances adventure, I can't have adventures without work. I try to fill my surroundings with things that make me happy and feel good. 

What's on your walls? 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Don't Be Alarmed - But I am going to say something radical

A Facebook friend recently posted that his cat, has found the button to turn off his alarm clock and did so three mornings in a row this week - turning the alarm off just before it went off.  

My radical suggestion was to stop setting an alarm clock.  I stopped setting my alarm clock about 8 years ago.  I did it by accident, I simply forgot to press the button, and I found that I woke up and went on my way, pretty much on time, without being jolted out of sleep by the clock.  The vast majority of days, I am on time, without an alarm.  If I have an unusually early meeting or airline flight I will set the alarm on my phone, maybe 5 or 6 times a year.  The rest of the year, I sleep without an alarm.  I think I sleep better.  I am conscious of needing to go to sleep earlier, if I need to be up earlier. My sleep is not disturbed in mid dream by an arbitrary alarm.  This last year I bought a new bedside clock-radio - I have never learned how to set the alarm on it.  It has one, I have never tried to use it.  

Try going alarmless, you might find that you like it.  

Do you set a daily alarm clock? 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Crime and a Civil Society

As I recall I found this on the wall of an airport bathroom.  A friend of mine came to DC as a senior staffer for Senator Larry Craig. Needless to say my friend was in need of a new job.

 I was in a conference the other day and a victims' advocate, suggested that in an adult guardianship case, if you are unhappy with the way things are going in the courts, just take the person to another state and start the legal process over again. In legal terms, kidnap an adult with a mental disability, and start the process over again in another state.  Most of the room was appalled by his suggestion to commit a felony if you are losing in the courts, but he was steadfast in his resolve.  (I bet he voted for Trump!) 

There was a story on NPR (National Public Radio) this morning about the shortage of drugs for lethal injection executions. One state is in a pinch, the supply of drugs they have on hand are expiring and they are unable to find a supplier willing to sell them new drugs.  So the state has scheduled 8 executions in a four day period.  In a state that has not done an execution in a decade.  

Now I will admit that when I lived in Florida there were a couple of executions that I felt were people who really deserved to die (Ted Bundy for one.)  

But no matter how despicable the criminal, we are asking another human being to intentionally end the life of a human being.  In essence society is allowing a person to commit a murder to avenge a murder.  Overlooking the potential for the criminal to change and play a positive role in human society, we are asking state employees to commit the crime we sentence people to death for, intentionally ending the life of another person.  It is logically inconsistent that one person kills for a living persons who killed. One committed a crime, and the other is doing his or her job.  Anything that normalizes murder, is bad for society. 

It is time to end capital punishment.  Allowing one person to kill others who have killed, is so contrary to living in a civil society.  

What to you think about execution and it's impact on society?  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pardon the Interruption - United Airlines has my attention

On Sunday, United Airlines dragged - literally dragged - a man off of a plane in Chicago, because he refused to give up his seat to an airline employee commuting for work the next day.  

Airlines are allowed to "deny boarding" for any reason - including wanting to  put someone else in the seat.  The passenger had already boarded. (Can you deny boarding to someone who has already boarded?) 

Federal regulations require passengers to follow all instructions from crew.  I get this, it is aimed at assuring that the flight is safe.  They can order you to sit down, buckle your seat-belt, to quit talking and listen to the instructions on how to buckle your seat belt (I was screamed at for telling jokes with the person next to me one day) or not start a fire in the isle to cook lunch (don't laugh, there was a plane crash caused by this once.)  If you are drunk, or stoned, or angry, or belligerent, or sick - physically or mentally and the crew fears that you might endanger the safety of the flight, they can order you off the airplane. I understand. 

United Airlines picked a fight with this man, and now they are in essence claiming self defense. This man was only angry, because he didn't want to surrender his seat.  He was seated, seat belt buckled, ready to go home.  He was no threat to the safety of the airplane flight.  He simply wanted to go home.  

United Airlines response that the incident was "This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. "I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers." This morning there is a leaked memo to staff, saying airline personnel did nothing wrong.  The CEOs comments are focused on the company and the staff, completely overlooking the paying customer. They need to hire me to teach them the essential elements of an apology, (acknowledge you were wrong, take ownership of the issue, say you are sorry, offer assurances that you are taking steps to prevent this from happening again.)  

United Airlines does not get it, they don't understand the outrage that the battery on this paying customer has precipitated. If staff were following procedures and policies, the policies and procedures need to be reexamined. 

The airlines argue that they overbook flights because an empty seat is lost revenue - in this day and age this is a flawed argument. The VAST majority of airline passengers are traveling on non-refundable tickets.  Meaning that if I miss the flight, or chose not to fly, the airline has been paid for that seat.  If they resell it to another paying customer, they get paid for it twice, if the seat flies empty - but PAID for- the airline makes an extra couple of dollars by burning less fuel as the plane will be lighter and weight equals fuel burn.  If I miss the flight because the airline failed to get me to my connection on-time - it is the airlines loss - in addition to my loss of time - that I am not compensated for. It is time for Congress to tell the airlines to stop overselling seats - or to be forced to refund the airfare to paying customers who cancel a trip and the airline sells the seat to another customer (in the Uniform Commercial Code this is known as the sellers obligation to cover the lost sale.)   

Over the past decade, the number of seats available has shrunk, fewer planes are flying, smaller planes are flying, planes are full - most of the time.  So when something happens, there is very little elasticity in supply, there is very little surplus supply.  When United needed to get four crew members to Louisville to fly out the next day - they didn't have a seat to put them in.  The same issue the four "re-accommodated" passengers would face, of no more seats today, likely few open seats tomorrow.  It took Delta a week to recover from bad storms cancelling all flights in and out their Atlanta hub for several hours last week. In all Delta cancelled over 3,000 flights, that is about half-a-million passengers looking for open seats on flights that are already full, if not oversold.  A disaster if you really need to get someplace.  

Would you buy a ticket on United Airlines this morning? 

His name is Pork-chop

A friend on Facebook shared a video of two vegans ranting on about 10 things omnivores get all wrong.  They kept using the example, "well a cow is like your your dog!"  The thought process was that no one would ever eat a dog.  

I am an omnivore, I will eat almost anything.  I am an adventurous eater. I love to travel, and occasionally travel presents options to sample forbidden foods.  I have tried horse in France, and whale in Iceland (both quite good by the way.)   

I recently had goat tacos, I had never had goat before.  I was raised in a culture that never considered goat to be food.  It was not bad, a little tough. When I see pigs as house pets, I think of the pigs on the farm across the street when I was growing up, I think of bacon, ham, and the wonderful things I can do with port tenderloin.  

About 30 years ago National Geographic published an article on travel in Asia.  In one photo was a basket full of puppies.  Buried deep in a paragraph of 6 point type was the caption for that photograph, "the puppies in the basket next to the wood fired cook-stove were the special of the day." A couple of months later, there was a letter to the editor, commenting on the photo.  The editors response was that they knew the caption would be proactive, what truly surprised the editors was that they only received one complaint.  

If I was there, and that special was on the menu would I try it?  Would you?  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bringing home flowers

My mother loved fresh flowers in the house, but she rarely brought them home.  She was never a gardener, I think it brought back to many painful memories of struggling on her family farm as a child. Her reasoning for not buying herself flowers was simple, flowers cost money and they didn't last long.  She denied herself the enjoyment of fresh flowers to save a few dollars. In the end, the money outlasted her. A couple of days after I returned from her funeral I was in the market and saw fresh cut flowers.  I bought a bunch - I have every weekend since then.  You can't take money with you, you can't enjoy the flowers at your funeral.  Buy them now, enjoy them while you can.    

What do you deny yourself because it costs money, that you could enjoy if you wanted to?      

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Easter Sunday Five Questions

Happy Easter - to those so inclined.  Welcome to spring. 

1: Did your family go to church on Easter Sunday when you were a child? 
2: Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate? 
3: Eggs, large, extra large or jumbo? 
4: Ham or roast lamb? 
5: Bunnies or Chicks? 

My answers: 
1: Did your family go to church on Easter Sunday when you were a child?  - No 
2: Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate? - both 
3: Eggs, large, extra large or jumbo? Jumbo 
4: Ham or roast lamb? Ham
5: Bunnies or Chicks? Bunnies 

Sunday Five - Memories

I walked into the courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery recently and was struck by a very subtle smell, it reminded me of spring in the front house of the on the farm in Michigan.  I looked around and it occurred to me that what I was smelling was Tulips blooming.  Tulips are not grown for their fragrance, and yet there it was a scent from my early childhood, flooding back memories of sunny spring days, when the ground is still cool underfoot.  

Hence a few questions about early memories: 

1: What is your earliest memory? 

2: What is your most vivid early memory of travel?

3: Do smells bring back memories for you? 

4: What music brings back early memories? 

5: Describe a poem from childhood, that you remember? 

My answers: 

1: What is your earliest memory? 
     When I was three or four, we "built" a new house - I remember the foundation going in. 

2: What is your most vivid early memory of travel?
     Peering over the edge of the Grand Canyon on my sister's birthday when I was 5 years old.  March 18th, the air was crisp and cold, and the spectacular chasm, the vivid gold and purple colors of the rock in the late winter sun. 

3: Do smells bring back memories for you? 
     This is an early memory, I was about 4 years old, and the trigger is the smell of lacquer thinner.  It is my father and a friend of his recovering the wings of an airplane in the garage of the house on the farm.  

4: What music brings back early memories? 
     This would have to be classic rock of the 1960's, there was a great AM station out of Windsor Ontario that rocked the thumb area of Michigan.  

5: Describe a poem from childhood, that you remember? 
    Way down south where the grasshoppers roam, 
     A grasshopper on an elephants' toe, 
     The elephant said with tears in it's eye, 
     Pick on someone your own size. 

Saturday, April 08, 2017

The Crap We Learned in School

So, George Washington didn't confess to chopping down a Cherry Tree, saying the infamous "I can not tell a lie." Here I am in the cherry blossoms at Mt Vernon (not GWs childhood home.)  

The normal temperature of the human body falls into a range, not the exact 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit that we all had answer on a biology exam in school.  My normal temperature is about 97.4.  

When I was in the 4th grade, the science book said that we would run out of oil, by the time I was 20.  How could the science book be wrong? 

What did you learn in school, that has since been proven to not be true? 

Friday, April 07, 2017

What have I been reading 6th edition

I recently finished,  Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, by Soujung-Kim Pang.   The book is  well written, well researched, fun and easy to read.  The author makes the case for taking naps, taking sabbaticals, taking vacations, and generally promoting a health work life balance.  The text offers lots of anecdotal evidence, and a handful of solid scientific research, to make the case that people who are more productive, find a way to balance rest and work, personal and professional life.  Every manager should read this book. 

I have a personal interest in this issue, I have burned out in flames a couple of times in my work.  I know what it is like to work so much, that you can't get much done.  I have done my share of 60-70 hour work weeks - those were not my most productive days.  I needed this book 30 years ago - I am glad I read it now.   

So, how is your work - life balance?  Do you take naps?  Have you ever taken a sabbatical?  What are you reading now? 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Political Art

There is a non-profit in the DC area that runs an open gallery program called Artomatic.  About once a year, they get space donated in empty commercial space, frequently an empty office building that is slated for a major remodel before the next tenant moves in and invite artists to display their art.  There is no jury or selection process for artists, space is open to all, until it is all filled.  There is a modest fee for artists displaying, and the artists are obligated to volunteer in the space a few days over the 30-60 days the program is open.  Artomatic draws professionals and very amateur artists.  The current installation opened in late March in an office building in Crystal City (one subway stop from National Airport) spread out over 6 floors of an office building.  

This is the second Artomatic I have attended.  I like the eclectic mix of talents, media and points of view.  It is open to the public for free, I had a nice wander around on a recent Sunday afternoon.  

One thing I noticed this time was an overwhelming theme of political art.  I liked the one at the top (it had already been sold,) the one in the middle is disturbing with the swastika (it was still for sale - not a bad price,) the one at the bottom was a presidential throne - with a very large spike coming up through the seat.  A rather political statement.  

Will these be collectibles 50 years from now? 

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Someday I Will Wear Purple?

There is a classic poem by Jenny Joseph about growing older and wearing purple, eating, drinking and doing what you want.  What can be the male version of this? 

I look forward to growing older and wearing outrageous Hawaiian print shirts, and baggy shorts - or comfortable jeans.  I will wear my Italian old man's hat.  I will have a beer with lunch if the fancy strikes me, and pie for breakfast. 

I will sleep when I feel like it, get up when when I wish.  I will lounge around the house in my underwear - you don't want to be the stranger who rings my doorbell unexpectedly.  I'll ride my bike, shop in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week.  I will sit for hours and watch the boats on the river, and the river flow by.  

I will have one last fling, with the car of my dreams - I better do that while I can still drive over 55.  

I will go to conferences, and slip out and leave if the speaker is boring - or stupid. I will do what makes me happy and comfortable and not worry about what others think.  

Life is uncertain, why wait until I am old to be happy? 

What will you do when you are old?  Why aren't you doing it now? 

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Hotel Room of the Year?

The Langham hotel in Chicago, may rate as my hotel room of the year, at the very least it set a very high standard for others to meet.  I was in Chicago recently for a medical conference on death - a nice perky topic.  The medical association picked the hotel, a bit more than I would normally pay, but being that I was arriving at 11:00 at night with meetings starting at 7:30 the next morning and going all day, then back to the airport to return home, I stayed at the conference hotel.  

I walked into the room and my first thought was, "can I just live here for the rest of my life?"  These pictures do not do the room justice, it was a short trip and I didn't take a real camera with me, just my phone (sorry to tell some of you this, your phone has a very limited camera on it.)  

The hotel bathroom is one of the top five in my all time list.  The wet-room, had a shower and tub.  The shower had a rainfall shower head on the ceiling, and a wall mounted hand shower.  The tub was nice (not jetted.)  There was a window between the tub and the bed area, if you don't like the view, press a button on the wall and the glass becomes opaque.  

Most hotel rooms have boring ceilings, not this one with a nice tray effect.  The furnishings were modern and comfortable. The colors very warm and soothing (nice on a cold Chicago night.)  The view, well the view was of Dump Tower - you can't win them all. 

I am only 13 nights into what will likely be 30 hotel night this year (44 last year.)  This one sets a high standard for hotel of the year.  

What is your favorite hotel and why?