Saturday, September 30, 2017


It is late, and I am a little tired, probably not the best time to blog.  I am also angry at the incompetence that I keep encountering.  

When Dad died I called the plan for his one tiny ($110 a month) pension to inform them of his death.  It was the right thing to do.  The person explained that it was too late to stop the deposit of the next month's pension payment, and that the money would be taken back out of the account.  And in fact it was, deposited on the 1st of the month, and taken back out on the 21st.  Then I get a letter dated three weeks after the payment was taken out of his account, a rather nasty letter, from the pension plan demanding repayment.   There is no excuse for this kind of incompetence.  

I continue to get marketing mail for my dead father wishing him "well in his new home" and trying to sell him phone and internet service.  I sent a nice flame-mail to the cable company - I wonder if I will ever hear back from them. 

His health insurance company, sent him a letter dated three weeks after he died suggesting a change in breathing medication.  I sent it back to them saying I didn't think a change in medication would help, his breathing problems stopped when he stopped breathing.  I sent that letter two weeks ago, still no response.  

I sent a letter to the CEO of my bank on August 19th, starting off with a question of "does the bank want my business?" Apparently not, it has been over a month and I have yet to hear from them.  

There must be a lot of gummy brains out there. 

Does any business really care about customer service anymore? 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Unsolicited Advice to Today's Job Seekers

I have been interviewing graduate students for summer jobs.  I have been doing this for several years, I try to find six students per year, two per semester.  I enjoy it, it gives me a chance to talk with bright young students, the future of my profession, the future of our world.   

I have a few items of unsolicited advice. 

  • Bring extra copies of your resume.  
  • When I ask for a short writing sample, don't send me 27 pages.  Brief is 2-5 pages that show me that you can write.  
  • If you are doing an interview by phone, use a real phone.  Every interview I have done with the student on a cell phone, has been disconnected at least once.  The placement office at your school should be able to set you up with an interview room with a real phone. 
  • I attended a networking event at Georgetown, 30 employers at tables around the outside of the room.  The students in the middle.  The students largely stood around talking to their friends, there were only a few employers they all wanted to talk to (the ones rumored to have $100,000 + starting salaries.) My tip for the students, your classmates are not going to hire you, and most likely don't know someone who will.  I might, come tell me what you are interested in and see if I know anyone who might be interested in you. 
  • The students who were best at networking, were international students - learn from them.  
  • Men, don't forget the socks.  The $800 suit and $200 pair of dress shoes, look silly with the no show athletic socks. Attention to the little details matter. 
  • Know what the employer does, and be prepared to connect your life experience, work experience and education to what the employer does.  
  • You are the generation that grew up with computers, learn how to use video calls. I am old enough to be your grandfather and I use video chat nearly everyday.  
What advice do you have for a person looking for a job today? 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Fortune Telling

Let me save you some time, money and trouble. 

In your future you will experience some good things, some bad things, some comedy and some tragedy. You will prosper and you will experience unexpected loss. You will love, and be loved, you will be betrayed.  Yep I see it in the cards, your hands, your eyes, your face, the tea leaves, and my crystal balls.  I guarantee all of this will happen. 

You can't change what will happen, but you can change how you respond to it.  Shrug off the bad, live through it, accept it and move on. If you dwell on the bad, it will possess your soul.  You can't ignore that it happens, but you can limit how long you let it occupy your soul. Make the most of the good, be kind to others, surround yourself with good people, and you will have more kindness love and laughter in your life.  Avoid negative people and you will have less tragedy, drama and betrayal.  Decide what you want, seek it out, and be happy with it when you find it. 

What is in my future? 

Oh, and I predict that a certain blogger will make a comment about my "crystal balls."

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


I was in the Metro recently, waiting for a train on the lower platform at Gallery Place.  On the south end of the lower platform, there are granite stairs next to a single escalator.  I noticed movement on the stairs, and realized it was a mouse.  Running up and down and back and forth on the stairs.  It was having a grand time, scavenging in the trash on the stairs.  A train pulled in, and kids came running down the stairs, the mouse ran between their clueless feet and disappeared into a crack.  

I don't want mice around, but they don't scare me.  Rats, I really don't like rats. But then parts of my grandmother's family lived in London, maybe a dislike of rats has been around since the plague.  

When was the last time you saw a mouse or a rat in a public place? 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sheeps' Breath

I was out at Mt Vernon recently and I stopped to visit with the sheep, a pen full of rams.  I was standing there taking pictures over the top of the rail fence and I felt something warm on my leg.  I looked down and one the sheep had stuck his nose through the fence, I was feeling his warm moist breath on my leg.  

Later I was thinking, that back in early 2015, I wouldn't have felt that.  I had lost most of the feeling in my feet and legs.  The feeling has largely returned - thanks to the success of the surgery on my spine back in 2015.  Little things like this remind me how fortunate I am and how close I came to living an drastically different life.  

What reminded you how fortunate you are this week? 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Spo- Questions

Spo, the dear, and his Board of Directors, came up with a great list of questions.  So here we are.
·         What was the most brilliant idea you had last week.  – If you can’t raise the bridge, lower the river.
·         Who did you fight last and what damage did you do them.  – I have been fighting ignorance – so far I have lost my sanity and lot of hair.
·         Who was the kindest person. – the anonymous voice on the speaker phone at the Charles Schwab transfer desk who focused on solutions instead of problems. 
·         What made you laugh. – Jay, my sweet bear.  
·         In the past week which public building have you torched. – None, that would be unkind (not to mention illegal.)
·         What made you angry.  – Voice mail hell.
·         What inn did you last pillage.  – I was pillaged by the hotel in Florida that charged me one-night room and tax when I cancelled and then they cancelled me the next day without refunding it.
·         What made you want to cry. – thinking I can’t wait to tell dad about this, and then realizing he is not there to tell anymore. 
·         Where did you see attend the last blood eagle.  – There is something circling above the White House – is that what it is?  
·         Where are you/where do you want to be. – I am home at my desk, I would prefer to be on the beach in Hawaii 

Saturday, September 23, 2017


I work in aging.  I occasionally get asked for my opinion on stopping older drivers from driving.  I am vehemently opposed to ageism.  It is not age, but ability that matters.  Being a good driver, or a bad driver, a safe driver or a dangerous driver, is not a matter of age, but a matter of ability and ability is not tied to age once we reach maturity.  

I remember the day my grandfather stopped driving.  I was helping my grandmother in the kitchen. My grandfather went out to put the car in the garage. He bumped into the wall on one side, backed up, pulled forward and bumped the wall on the other side.  He backed up onto the driveway, shut the car off and came into the kitchen and dropped the keys on the counter and said, "if I can't get it in the garage, I shouldn't drive it anymore."  We had all thought for a year that he should stop driving, we had done all we could to make sure he didn't need to drive, but none of us had insisted that he stop.  It was his decision.  

A year ago I was talking with my father on the phone.  He had received some grave news from his doctors that week.  I was urging him to enjoy life, I said "if you always wanted to buy a red Ferrari convertible and cruise around town, now is the time to do it."  My point was do what ever you want to do, spend money on your enjoyment and comfort, you can't take it with you.  His response, was that he hadn't driven in a couple of months, and would probably let his drivers license expire that fall.  It was his decision.  We had debated telling him that he should stop, and I had urged leaving it up to him to decide.  

Do it while you can, enjoy it while you can, and when you know it is time to stop, you call the shot and stop.  

Would you buy the red Ferrari?  

Friday, September 22, 2017

Hidden Gems

This massive statue of Einstein is just across the street, north of the National Mall, near the Lincoln Memorial.  It is both easy to find and easy to overlook, it is a hidden gem.  DC is filled with them, simple easily overlooked monuments and works of art.  I need to remember to stop, slow down and take a look.  

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Corporate Good

I have taken a couple of cruises, and I want to take a few more.  Once you are on the floating resort, everything is there, taken care of and catered to.  Cruises can take you into remote and difficult locations with great ease.  

Of the two cruise lines we have tried, I enjoyed Norwegian  best (NCL.)  I liked the relaxed style and various dining options.  

During the recent hurricane in Florida NCL cut several cruises short, rerouted some ships, and sent their ships out to sea to avoid the storm.  In Miami they moved anyone who couldn't get home, onto one of their largest ships and sent them out of harms way on a cruise with a destination being avoid the storm.  They were in port in Mexico for a couple of days and returned to Miami when it was safe.  

I just read that after the storm one of the diverted ships was sent to the Virgin Islands to carry in needed supplies and evacuate people trying to get off the island.  The ship, loaded with people - and pets arrived safely in Miami this last Friday.  

Wow, the corporate response to people in crisis was how fast can we safely get there, the ship will return to commercial service when this is over.  

I liked NCL before, I love them now. 

Where would you like your next cruise to be to? 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Free Speech and Trolls

I enjoy the forum of open minds and ideas.  I learn from it.  I have limits on what I will listen to, but even then I try not to shout down another's point of view.  From time to time, I am offended by something another blogger posts or think another blogger is wrong.  For the most part I stay quiet.  During the election cycle I offended two people, one blogger and one friend on Facebook.  I am sorry, I should have let them say what they believe.  I have taken another blogger to task over the years about seeing things through the eyes of a loving spouse, I hope the blogger was not deeply hurt by what I said, I do believe the blogger and spouse are deeply in love.  If I did hurt your feeling, I apologize, now hug that dear one - he adores you and will for the rest of his life.  

I don't restrict comments on my blog.  I occasionally get insulted in the comments.  Once in a rare while by a regular reader - we are all entitled to our moments.  More often by an unidentified person - a troll.  I have a policy, I don't feed the trolls.  Trolls feed on being argued with, or pushed back against.  If I do it, it only makes them stronger and bolder.  I do appreciate it when other come to my defense. I have considered blocking anonymous comments. The anonymous insults are frequently the deepest cuts.  

Some people need to be negative, to find fault, to belittle others. It makes them happy. When I encounter those people, I ignore them. Trolls have a right to free speech, I don't have to listen or respond, to trolls and I choose not to.   

How do you deal with trolls? 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

George Washington's other house

Mt. Vernon with it's classic house, is the home that most people recognize as George Washington's home.  He also had a second home, a town house in Alexandria about 10 miles north of Mt Vernon.  10 miles was a three+ hour walk, probably a couple of hours by horse, so Washington maintained a small home in "town."  The original house was lost to history, but recreated as shown above.  It is just around the corner from the center of Old Town Alexandria.  It is a private residence today - with tour buses slowing to a stop out front a couple of times per day. 

Would you live there? 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Almost Enough to Drive Me To Drink

A short list of things that are almost enough to drive me to drink.
  • People who have elaborate email signatures, that include the company logo and slogan and their name in a fancy script, but don't include their email address or a phone number. 
  • Corporate operators who can't connect you to the employee you are calling (AARP)
  • Company websites that don't include a complete address, or phone number, or a real working email address. (Charter Communications) 
  • Business websites with a contact us here link, that no one monitors and responds to. 
  • Someone switching back and forth between text messages and emails, with part of the message in one, and part in the other. 
  • Letters of complaint to corporate CEOs that no one responds to (it has been four weeks PNC.)
  • Being unable to call a business without going through Voice Mail hell, am I the only person who answers my phone?  
What is driving you to drink this week? 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Five - Tell me a little about yourself

1: Decade you were born in?
2: How many places have you lived? 
3: How many siblings? 
4: How many years of education? 
5: Ever experienced a hurricane?

My answers: 
1: Decade you were born in?1950's 
2: How many places have you lived? 14 addresses in five states
3: How many siblings? Three, I am the youngest of four 
4: How many years of education? 19
5: Ever experienced a hurricane? Yes, back in the late 70's. 

Your answers? 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Light at the end of the tunnel

At times in our adventure, we peer down a dark passage, wondering if we should enter.  Often wonderful things are at the other end.  I recall entering a passageway in Amsterdam, really not sure if I should.  It was dark, there were druggies around, but the map indicated it was the way to get to the main square, and it was.  A minute later I was in the main square, safe a sound.  I was so glad I didn't let fear of the darkness stop me from entering.  

Friday, September 15, 2017

Plans are made, plans are changed

I was scheduled to be in Florida last weekend, flying down on Friday evening and back on Tuesday.  I made the plans a month ago, I was just billed for the hotel room.  My Friday evening flight flew, I didn't.  In light of the weather forecast, I decided that going was not a good idea.  I could have gotten there, likely would have had trouble getting back.  I was going to the east coast in the center of the state. I talked to someone who said it was the worst storm in the space center area since 1961. 

I was going down to check on the end of the estate sale. The sale ended up being a wash out, and rescheduled for this week.  

I rebooked for later this month.  Sometimes the best plans, are the plans you change.  

Have you ever cancelled a trip because of weather?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thoughts on inclusion, diversity,

I spent some time with an old friend recently.  She was talking about trying to go see the Ark Encounter. I responded that I wouldn't, that it used special tax breaks, but discriminates in hiring, in violation of the conditions on special tax breaks. There are other issues, this is the easiest one to explain.  The tax breaks were a bad idea, and the owners discriminate in the name of religion.  The separation of church and state should have prevented this.  

She said, "oh you mean that they wouldn't hire you because of your chosen lifestyle." I responded, "no they wouldn't hire me, because I am married to another man."  She said, and marriage is a lifestyle choice.  I was stunned by the illogic, of her logic and let the issue drop.  Later I thought about it, and the issue is not that they wouldn't hire someone like me because I am married, it because they wouldn't hire me because of who I am married to. Marriage may be a lifestyle choice, but my marriage should be equal to every other marriage.  

I really feel for her, her lack of understanding of the world, of the human condition, of her own life, of members of her family.  


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Doorway to History

Gadsby's Tavern, has been in business for 250 years, on the same corner, a couple of blocks down the street from George Washington's city house in Alexandria, Virginia.  Over the years the fortunes of Gadsby's have gone up and down, and back up again.  If you are in the neighborhood, stop in for lunch or dinner, or just a drink standing in the place of the founding fathers, and history ever since.  

Back in the first half of the last century, the tavern was used primarily as a VFW post, and money was tight.  So tight that the colonial era front door, one of the finest examples of it's kind, was sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  The removal of this architectural detail drew the attention of some locals, locals who became historic preservationists.  Historic preservation become a local priority, after all how many places can document that General Washington drank here.  Eventually the front door was returned and reinstalled.  You can pass through it today.  

We had the lunch for our wedding at Gadsby's, the tavern is still witness to history.  

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

It all Balances Out in the End

I have long believed that everything balances out at some point.  If I am good and nice, good and nice things will eventually come back to me.  If I am nasty - and I am very capable of being an asshole, it will come back to me at some point.  

There are others that I encounter, that certainly should have a lot of misery coming at some point in time.  But then I have have no control over the behavior of others, only how I chose to respond to their behavior.  

How are you responding to other's today? 

Monday, September 11, 2017


I spent an hour one night recently trading text messages with a dear friend and former co-worker.  I had last talked with her in depth in February.  Our exchanges over the past six months were just a few words here and there.  She is in bad health, her initial response to my "how are you doing?" was "I don't want to talk about me."  But she did.  She has six serious health conditions, two of which are potentially life threatening. Over the past three or four years her health has drastically changed her life.  

She explained that she has had two bad falls in the last six months resulting in broken bones.  My first instinct was to tell her to wrap herself in bubble wrap and sit quietly.  I am glad I didn't.  As the exchange went on, it became clear that she is exhausted, not just by her illnesses, but by the changes in her life as a result.  She wants needs to do things she wants to do, even if doing so results in risk.  As she put it, she might die, she would sooner do it having fun than wallowing in self pity.  She wants to do fun things, not wait to heal or die. She talked about getting well enough to travel to the Netherlands or Peru. I will encourage her to work towards that goal.  

She needs a little adventure in her life, planning for that adventure will help her enjoy each day.  

Thanks for letting me ramble, help a friend seek a little adventure this week.   

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sunday Five - Beauty in the back yard

While not exactly in my back yard, Biltmore is less than a day's drive from home, and it is a world class Chateau and gardens.  It was designed to look like a European castle - and built as a vacation home by one of the Vanderbilts. As much as I enjoy the adventure of traveling far and wide, what beauty is virtually in my backyard? 

1: What is the nearest historic, famous, or grand home to where you live? 
2: What historical site is nearest to where you live? 
3: Where is the nearest art museum? 
4: When was the last time you visited a national park? 
5: Do you stop to smell the roses along the way? 

My Answers: 
1: What is the nearest historic, famous, or grand home to where you live?  - there are a bunch of minor sites in Alexandria, but Mt Vernon, George Washington's estate is just a few minutes down the road, probably the nearest and most widely recognized.  
2: What historical site is nearest to where you live? A 10 minute walk away, next to the Metro station is the site of a Civil War fort.  There is not much left on the site, but it has a historical marker. Lincoln visited.  
3: Where is the nearest art museum? One of the things that attracted me to DC was the museums, the National Gallery and Hirshorn are my favorites. 
4: When was the last time you visited a national park?  I pass through one on my daily commute, when I was in Florida the end of August I paid the admission fee to visit the Canaveral National Seashore. 
5: Do you stop to smell the roses along the way? Not often enough, I need to remember to do this more often. 

Your answers? 

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Coat of Arms

I took these pictures in a chapel in Normandy, these are family coats of arms.  A fine tradition long lost.  

If we were creating a family crest or coat of arms (I am sure there is a difference, but I will be sloppy and use the two terms interchangeably) what would I want it to contain? 

For me, bees, airplanes, scales of justice, an academic hat, a penguin, a sheep, and a rainbow flag. 

What would need to be on yours? 

Friday, September 08, 2017

Back Seat Bear

No I don't have children, I don't like children, but backseat bear has been in my cars for about 25 years now.  He was a surprise gift from my Sweet Bear, on our first get away weekend (to Savannah, Georgia.)  He has been a loyal and faithful companion. He has been there when I needed a little bear hug to get me through the day.  

What's in your back seat? 

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Wet and Wild

Way back in the 1970's I was intrigued by the early underwater cameras.  Nikon made a really good one, most of the others were bulky plastic boxes that kind of fit around a 35mm film camera.  I wanted one, but never bought one.  Sometime earlier this year, my daily deal from Amazon popped up with a small Nikon underwater digital camera as the featured item of the day.  The price was good, and I was feeling flush, do I ordered one.  It sat here on my desk for months.  I took it to the pool once this summer.  I took it with me on my last trip to Florida - the only real camera I took with my on that trip.  

I took it swimming in the Atlantic.  What great fun.  The surf was brutal with a monster current dragging me north along the beach.  I didn't last long, but I did have fun and captured some wet and wild and kind of novel images.  

When I returned to the hotel, I didn't something that just simply felt wrong.  Following the directions on the camera, that start every time you turn it on (you can then cancel them); I put the camera in the sink and turned the water on.  The directions are to rinse and soak the camera in fresh water for 10 minutes after use.  It felt so wrong, but it worked so well.  I need to find someplace warm, placid and tropical to use this fine little toy.  I feel a cruise coming up sometime this year.  

Good Thing I Inherited My Father's Sense of Humor

My father had a deep, rich, sarcastic sense of humor.  He could find humor in the obscurities of life.  I am glad I inherited that from him.  

When I was last in Florida I went into the office of Spectrum his local cable TV, Internet and Phone provider and returned all of the hardware and had the service turned off.  I told the nice person at the desk why, reminiscing that my parents had that phone number since 1976 - longer than she has been alive - and the rest of their lives.  She said the refund check would come to dad, because there is no place in their computer system for a reason service is terminated.  She entered my address in Virginia in the system, so the refund check will come here. 

About a week later there was a letter from Spectrum, I assumed it was the refund check.  Imagine my surprise when it was a letter "wishing dad well in his new home" and offering him a discount on internet service at his new address.  You know even if I had internet service connected to the Greenwood Cemetery (he has not moved in yet, that is happening in another month) I just don't think he would get much use out of it.  Although according to his credit card statement he did make a purchase on Amazon ten days after he died - so one never knows.  Maybe I should have internet service connected to his grave and see if he keeps ordering.  We always kidded him, that if he couldn't take it with him, he wasn't going.  

I was tempted to send Spectrum a letter, but that is difficult as their website does not have an address for a national headquarters.  Maybe they are operating out of the Greenwood Cemetery - the post office does not deliver there you know.  

Should I have sent the letter? 

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

But it is a moist heat

I am getting ready for my 7th or 8th trip to Florida in less than a year.  It is hard to keep track.  The gate agents at Orlando International Airport know me, they ask when will we see you next?  Being in the south, also known as the swamp, it is a bit humid in Florida at this time of the year, well really any time of the year, but especially this time of the year.  The most recent trip it rained every-day, sometimes more than once.  It is a good thing I am well over four feet tall, or I might have needed a scuba tank.  

So I get on the plane to come home, it is about 5:00 in the afternoon, the rains have passed, it is about 90 degrees and about 99% humidity out.  The warm moist air is being drawn into the plane, passing through the cold air conditioning system.  As a result there is fog billowing out of the overhead vents.  At least I hope it was fog.  The plane did just fine so it must have been fog and not something more sinister or disastrous.  

So have you experienced the swamp in summer? 

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Fresh Flowers

I have started keeping fresh flowers in the house.  It is simple to do, the grocery store and the farmers market sell cut flowers, Trader Joe's often has a great value.  I like them, I might as well enjoy them while I can.  Don't send flowers to my funeral, enjoy them with me while we can. 

Do you keep fresh flowers in the house? 

(Note these are now coming up on two weeks old, this picture was taken over a week ago, I need to run the vacuum cleaner.)