Thursday, November 30, 2017

Delightful Tourist Traps

Quirky, offbeat, out of the way, insane, and genuine.  All words that easily come to mind when you visit the only bar and restaurant in Tortilla Flat Arizona.  To get there you go about 25 miles south east of Phoenix, then north into the Superstition Mountains in Tonto National Forest.  Follow the winding mountain road, past the lake, and you can't miss it.  It is only about 20 miles from Apache Junction, but you better plan on at least an hour to drive it, more if like me, you want to pull off the side of the road every mile to take pictures.  

The bar stools are topped with saddles, the walls are papered with dollar bills inscribed with greetings from past visitors. If you feel a little hesitation about eating there, that is normal. The food was good (chicken enchiladas,) the service was fast, and the experience was priceless.  This is easily the tourist trap of the year for me. 

Tell us about a fun tourist trap you have been to?  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

DC at it's Best

I am in the process of setting up a large meeting in late March of 2018, maybe, just maybe, the city will look like this.  

Have you been to DC when the cherry trees were in bloom? 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Walk This Way

No automatic alt text available.

I see them all of the time, people walking along the sidewalk, or the subway platform, gently swaying from side to side, staggering slightly like a person who has had a little too much to drink.  They are totally clueless to their surroundings, they are engrossed in their phone.  It can be text messages, or talking on the phone, the impact is about the same.  They speed up and slow down, they weave from side to side, they are incapable of walking in a straight line.  

Sadly they miss the world around them.  A few times in the middle of a major world Capital I have been tempted to shout, LOOK UP, YOU ARE MISSING THE WORLD.  But that would be rude, I try not to me rude.  

Do you walk and text?  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Post Thanksgiving Thoughts

The old tradition of going home to Mom and Dad's house for Thanksgiving is a tradition of the past. The house is sold, a new family celebrated their first holiday in the place my parents had called home for the past 41 years (46% of their lives.)  

I hosted this year, my sister and brother-in-law, Blitz the wonder dog and one of my nephews came for the day.  I did it my way, no schedule, dinner was served when it was done, no preset deadline.  A bottle or two of wine was opened (my father was not comfortable with wine being served.)  The bourbon collection was open for exploration by those who were interested (my nephew is still developing an appreciation for something better than Maker's Mark.) My goal was as little stress as possible.  The menu was my choice (the question of "what no mashed potatoes?" was answered with "who among us needs two starches?")  

I need to get better about inviting people.  When we merge the two houses into one next year, the larger dinning room table will be here - making it easier to host a larger party.  

So what is Thanksgiving all about.  It is an end of the season harvest feast, showing thanks.  I try to make it a celebration of the bounty in our lives, not a festival of gluttony.  It is a time to gather with people you like, to be thankful for having survived the year, and wishing for good health, peace and prosperity in the coming year.  It marks the beginning of the end of the year holiday season.  

This year it was the beginning of new traditions, with great thanks for the good times past. 

What did you do on Thanksgiving?  


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sunday Five, tell us about yourself

1. Favorite smell? 
2. Last time I cried? 
3. Favorite pizza? 
4. Favorite flowers? 
5. Favorite dog breed? 
6. Untie your shoes when taking them off? 
7. Roller coaster? 
8. Favorite ice cream? 
9. Favorite Pastime? 
10. Shorts or jeans? 
11. What are you listening to? 
12. Color of your hair? 
13. The color of eyes? 
14. Favorite food? 
15. Favorite holiday? 
16. Night owl or morning? 
17. Favorite day of the week? 
18. Do you have a nickname? 
19. Favorite music? 
20. Tattoos? 

My Answers:
1. Favorite smell?  Bread baking
2. Last time I cried? Yesterday 
3. Favorite pizza? Homemade 
4. Favorite flowers? Roses
5. Favorite dog breed? Anything quiet and mellow 
6. Untie your shoes when taking them off? Always 
7. Roller coaster? No
8. Favorite ice cream? Salted Caramel Gellato Fiasco 
9. Favorite Pastime? Traveling 
10. Shorts or jeans? Either 
11. What are you listening to? The sound of silence 
12. Color of your hair? brown 
13. The color of eyes? brown
14. Favorite food? Cheese 
15. Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving 
16. Night owl or morning? Morning person 
17. Favorite day of the week? Monday 
18. Do you have a nickname? Poopsie
19. Favorite music? Jimmy Buffet 
20. Tattoos? None 

Your answers: 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thick Shelled

Adventurers need to be a little like a turtle tortoise.  It helps to have a thick shell, the going gets tough sometimes.  It helps to be able to withdraw into yourself and ignore the craziness around you.  It helps to move slowly and deliberately.  It helps to be able to thrive in a sometimes hostile world.  It helps be able to bring a little bit of home along for the ride.   

Friday, November 24, 2017

Sail Away!

If you could get on that boat and sail away to anyplace on the oceans, where would you want to go? Hawaii was amazing, I have never been to the Orient, both places on my to do list. There is a guy who works in my office, who sailed away.  When he as about 40 and in the process of changing careers, and he bought a large sail boat and roamed the seas for about three years - with his wife, three kids, two cats and a dog.  He has absolutely no regrets about doing it.  What is it that ties us to one place, afraid to go beyond the sight of land? 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

If you dig deep enough into the my family tree, there are a couple of Mayflower connections, my ancestors were at the first Thanksgiving in the new world.  Giving thanks for having survived the year, for a harvest that was sufficient to see them through the winter, for peace with their neighbors.  

So here we are today.  Few of us have struggled to bring in a harvest, but I am thankful for the farmers who do.  Having grown up on a funny farm I know what it takes, the risks and rewards of agriculture and I am thankful for year without famine.  

I don't feel a threat to my safety from my neighbors, there are threats in our world, more so than there should be, if we could all learn to let others live their lives without trying to impose our standards on the world.  

I have much to be thankful for. I have traveled a lot, 48 states, and over a dozen countries. I have had opportunities to get an education that leaves me with more formal education than 99.3% of the worlds' population. Education has opened doors for me to help improve the lives of other, and allowed me to earn a decent living. I have a comfortable home.  I have a little money in the bank, and money set aside for retirement (I worry that it is not enough, but it surprises me when I add up what we have.)  I have a job that pays me comfortably, and provides good health insurance.  I am loved and I love others.  

This has been a challenging year, I knew it would be.  I am thankful that my mother's suffering came to an end, and thankful that my father's suffering was short - as he wished it would be.  I am thankful that they were well cared for and able to live out their lives at home - as they wished.  I am thankful that they had the resources to live out life as they wished, I hope I am as wise with my resources as they were with thiers.  

I am thankful that I am spending this day, with family. 

Have a wonderful day of Thanksgiving.  

What are you thankful for? 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

They Told Me This Day Would Come

I am starting to think about retirement.  It is at least 6 years in the future, but I am starting to get comfortable with the idea of working less, or not at all.  One of my colleagues has cut back to three days a week - maybe I will do that at 65 and hang on a few more years.  For a long time, I didn't think that retirement was something I could do.  My work is a major part of my life.  But I am starting to think that there are enough other things to keep me busy.  

What do I see in retirement? 

I want to never wear a tie again.  I seldom wear them, I would like to toss them all in the trash.  

I want to never wear a starched shirt again.  30 years ago I discovered the joys of having sending my dress shirts out to be washed and ironed - executive shirt service. I look forward to not needing to do that any longer.  I want to wear jeans and comfortable shirts everyday for the rest of my life.  

I want to travel in and out of the city off peak rush hour.  On the rare day that I board metro at 9:00 AM instead of 8:00 AM, the ride is so much less crowded.  It is also cheaper if I enter the system after 9:00.  

I want to fix lunch at home, or go out in the middle of the day and not be worried about getting back to duties.  

I want to be able to stay up past 10:00 at night, without being concerned about getting enough sleep.  

I am reaching the point that retirement may be an option.  They told me this day would come.  

Should I look forward to retirement? 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Return of the Sun

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, Happy Winter Solstice, the day of the year with the shortest amount of sunlight in the northern half of the earth. A lot of people call it the shortest day of the year,  - today has 24 hours like every other day in our measured days.  What is different is the amount of time the sun is above the horizon. 

I am doing better this year, than I have in the past, but I really don't like this time of the year.  I don't like leaving the house for the office in the dark, and returning home from work in the dark.  Honestly, I spend fewer hours in the office in the dead of winter, if I can. 

Starting today, we will gain a few minutes of sunlight each day, until about six-months from now we will have the day with the longest time for the sun to be above the horizon.  I look forward to that day. 

Are you a winter or a summer person?

A Day With No Plans

I had dinner with Dr. Spo and David (aka Someone) in Scottsdale on a recent trip.  It was great fun.  We had a nice salad and a New York style Pizza.  People who are happy are fun to spend time with.  

Dinner was on Sunday evening. I was leaving town on Tuesday morning.  They asked about my plans for Monday and I honestly answered that I didn't know, I didn't have any plans.  There was a subtle hint that Someone might be available to play tour guide, but I was simply looking forward to a day on my own with no plans.  I had no idea if I wanted to explore the city, go north, go south, or east, or west.  The weather was delightful with lows of about 60 and highs in the 70's. It has been a long time since I had enjoyed an unscripted day. 

On the way back into the hotel that evening I picked up some tourist brochures.  Based on those I decided a day out in the old west would be fun.  I did a search for ghost towns near Phoenix, and decided on Apache Junction for a direction, east of the city - into the mountains and dessert. I went to Goldtown, and found it to be well a ghost town.  Despite the website saying it opened at 9:00 AM, nothing was opening until 10:00.  I wandered around, took a few pictures and went back down the hill to the Lost Dutchman Museum, and wandered around for a while.  I decided to try going up the road a couple of miles, then discovered I was entering the Tonto National Forest.  I decided to drive on a little farther, and I found the landscape of my childhood time in Arizona.  I was in love with the terrain. I drove on to Tortilla Flat for lunch. Then made my way back down.  

At one of the photo stops, I looked at my phone and had an email with paperwork for the sale of Dad's house that needed to be printed, signed and sent back.  I set the GPS unit for the nearest Office Max store, and away I went. I knew the paperwork was coming, but didn't know when, I had decided that I was not going to sit and wait for the paperwork, when the email arrived I would deal with it and I did.  

All in all, it was a delightful and relaxing day.  I had no plan, I did what ever I felt like doing.  It was wonderful.

When was the last time you had a day, with no plans? 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Recent Travels in a few phone pictures

I started with an insanely short trip from DC to Orlando and back, less than 18 hours on the goround in Florida. I made it back from Orlando for an important staff meeting the next morning. 

The next evening I went to Detroit for a memorial service on Saturday afternoon. 
I had never seen the Renascence Center from the ground, it was built after I left Michigan.  Impressive, in fact lower Woodward Avenue is very alive and very nice.  

The following morning at 7:25 AM I was on my way to Arizona (in First Class.) 
Downtown Old Scottsdale Arizona, lots of fun overpriced shops. 

I had dinner with Dr Spo and Someone in Scottsdale, it was great fun. When you are passing through Phoenix you should buy Spo dinner.  

Dinner was in a nice neighborhood, I passed this on the way back to my rented Nissan.  
I got away for a day in the dessert and mountains.  I love the landscape.  

The last night in Scottsdale I had a delightful dinner at a place that has the finest selection of high quality bourbons, outside of my house.  

From Phoenix I went onto a conference in Newport Beach California.  The local garden club or something like that was having a luncheon at the hotel - that is two Bentleys, two Range Rovers and a Fisker Revero - an all electric car (the base price is something like $130,000.)  Nice neighborhood.
Lastly, I changed planes in Chicago on my way home, one of the most iconic works of airport architecture in the United States.

What is the most back-to-back traveling you have done? 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sunday Five: Potent Potables

1: Beer or Wine? 
2: Bourbon or Scotch? 
3: Coffee or Tea? 
4: Ice or no-Ice? 
5: Vodka or Water? 

My Answers: 
1: Beer or Wine? - Usually wine - red
2: Bourbon or Scotch? Bourbon - if it is the good stuff 
3: Coffee or Tea? Coffee - cold 
4: Ice or no-Ice? Ice
5: Vodka or Water? Water 

Your answers? 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Ghost Town

Following up on yesterdays posting about my grandparent's graves, they are buried in the Cemetery at North Star Michigan.  I had never been there.  How best to describe it, it is a ghost town.  The hardware store is closed, the bar is closed.  You know a town is dead, when the bar closes.  

How far out of the way do you have roots? 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Being Remembered

I have read that 100 years after we dead, no one will remember the vast majority of us.  We fade out of existence and memory.

My mother's parents were concerned about being remembered.  The first plan was that they would be in the family plot down the street from the house I grew up in.  The lots were there, the stone was set, and they got to worrying that none of their family was around, so they bought lots in a cemetery near where they had grown up and moved the stone.  My grandfather died 1976, my grandmother in 1991.  Being in an isolated location, I didn't attend either burial.  In fact I had never been to the cemetery until last month.  It was a couple of hours drive from where I grew up.  The cemetery was larger than I expected, I was surprised at how fast we found the graves.  

I was surprised at the lichen growth, a sign that they are fading into being forgotten.  There may be family around, but most of them are decomposing, not visiting.  

I am glad I made the pilgrimage to see their graves,  I doubt that I will travel that road again.  

How long after you are gone, will you be forgotten? 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Times Square at Night

There are a handful of places that need to be seen at night to get the total experience, the Las Vegas Strip, the Eiffel Tower, Tokyo (not been there yet) Piccadilly Circus, - Times Square in New York. 

Where do I need to go at night next? 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


If I knew then, what I know now, what would I have done differently? 

  • I would have spent less time worrying about making others happy - happiness is an inside deal. 
  • I would have been faster to forgive others - forgiving others frees me from the burden of feeling bad about others actions. 
  • I would have been faster to accept myself - I spent to many years hiding and suppressing parts of my being - it takes so much effort.
  • I would have been faster to move outside of my comfort zone - to take risks - without risk there is less reward. 
  • I would have loosened up those laces - some say I am still wound a little too tightly.  
What would you have done then, if you had known then what you know now? 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Spider on the 22nd floor

How does a spider end up on the outside of the window on the 22nd floor?  I wouldn't want to be on the outside of that window at that height, and there he / she was.  One lucky spider, if she/he had been on the inside I would have smashed it.  Being on the outside all it had to worry about was falling.  I wonder if spiders worry? 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Should it be in Color?

In the ancient world, sculptures were frequently painted in brilliant colors.  This church in Munich was all in white inside - should it be painted in brilliant colors? 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sunday Five -

How do you travel

1:  Getting to the airport - drive - taxi - public transit? 
2:  Booking a hotel - online - by phone - use an agent? 
3:  Booking a rental car - consolidator (Orbitz) - rental car company website - by phone? 
4:  Do you check a bag -almost always - almost never? 
5:  Food on the plane or train - buy it - skip it - carry it on with you? 

My answers:
1:  Getting to the airport - drive - taxi - public transit? - almost always public transit from home. 
2:  Booking a hotel - online - by phone - use an agent? Online 90% of the time. 
3:  Booking a rental car - consolidator (Orbitz) - rental car company website - by phone? Consolidator 
4:  Do you check a bag -almost always - almost never? Almost always. 

5:  Food on the plane or train - buy it - skip it - carry it on with you? Skip it or buy it.  

Your answers? 

Saturday, November 11, 2017


I enjoyed Venice, I am glad we went, I would go back, I wouldn't want to live there.  That being said, Venice is crowded, dirty, and expensive.  At the same time Venice is unique, charming, elegant, a real one of a kind experience.  

We stayed in Padua, why Padua?  Hotels were a fraction of the price of Venice, it was cleaner, less crowded and only about a 20 minute train ride from Venice.  The trains run every 15-20 minutes, and are relatively inexpensive.  Padua itself is a neat city - worth taking time to look around.  

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald

Today is the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  

Having spent a good part of the first third of my life in Michigan, this song has always struck a cord with me. I remember the thrill as a child of seeing a big lake freighter on our rare visits to see Lake Huron.  I have experienced a few great lakes storms - nothing to be taken lightly.  My father bought a large part of the keeping farm, from a freighter captain - beekeeping and lake shipping peak in the same seasons, and shipping paid better. 

I would have been in Florida by November 10th 1975. This song is a part of the soundtrack of my life.  

What song is in the sound track of your life? 

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Still There

About a month ago I wrote about a boat on the side of US-1 in Florida, guess what, it is still there.  It is somewhat on a trailer, I fear the boat may have major structural damage and may not be movable.  The solution might be, well remember the scene in Animal House after the horse died in Dean Wormers' office?     


Last Sunday terror was unleashed in a small country church in Texas.  There is so much that can be said: 

Trump says this was a massive failure of mental health, it was.  The gunman had been treated - and escaped.  He had threatened to hurt others in the past and treated in a mental hospital and walked away, and as a society we didn't assure that he received help.  He was angry and violent.  We knew this, and as a society we failed to assure that he received help that might have helped.  

The gunman had been convicted of domestic violence and battery.  Convictions that should have resulted in him being unable to purchase guns through a licensed gun dealer.  The military failed to forward information about his conviction to the database. Someone failed to do their job. 

The failure is not surprising.  We still don't consider domestic violence as a serious crime.  In this case, escalating domestic violence is likely what led to this tragedy.  The gunman's estranged wife and mother in law frequently attended the church he attacked.  Domestic violence is a serious crime.    

Trump said, extreme vetting of gun buyers wouldn't have prevented this tragedy.  Arguably, he is right, the gunman could have bought guns from a private seller, or used guns owned by a family member or friend, but simply complying with the laws that exist, would have prevented the gunman from buying the guns through retailers, as he did. It would have made it harder, maybe hard enough for him to not do what he did. 

Society failed, we knew this person was angry and violent, we didn't assure that he received help, we didn't following existing laws that would have made it more difficult for him to buy guns.  As a result, 26 people are dead, another 20 are injured. The survivors will never be the same, the community will never be the same, the country will never be the same.  

It is well past time that as a society we accept that some people should not have access to guns.  We need to help persons in need of mental health treatment, get access to it.   

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Wisdom from the Ages

Back in the 80's my parents bought a Commodore 64 home computer, followed by an early IBM Windows machine, then more modern computers.  They mostly played solitaire, but they did do some things online.  Eventually my father checked his accounts and traded stocks online.  My mother was the one that did email.  I remember my last email from her 5 or 6 years ago, it read, "Your father said I should send you an email. Love Mom."  

As her dementia progressed, mom would sit for hours tearing paper into tiny pieces.  It kept her hands busy and made her happy.  She tore up mail, books, her bible, and her address book.  Not having her address book caused a bit of a panic when we were trying to reach out to family members.  Eventually we found a couple of address books, she kept a second one in the car for when they traveled - it was a treasure trove of contact information.  

Recently I was sorting through a box of paperwork that I shipped to my home when I was cleaning out my parents home.  In it were the three address books we found.  One was mom's email address book.  A physical book, she would print emails out, cut off the address header and tape them in the book.  Apparently the concept of an online email address book didn't quite make her comfortable.  

Near the bottom of one page was a small clipping from a newspaper, it reads: 
               "God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked, 
                The good fortune to run into the ones I do,
                 And the eyesight to tell the difference."  

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Lunch in Lille

On one adventure we took the EuroStar from London to Lille, stayed overnight and picked up a rental car the next day.  I have a few vivid memories of Lille, a pretty Cathedral, getting lost in the wrong parking garage at the train station, being able to ask in French if a shop had something in a larger size, and lunch.  I don't recall what we had for lunch, we sat in a booth at the back of the restaurant and watched the owners dog, mooching up and down the aisle.  It was charming.  Very relaxing and very French.  

What is your favorite non-food memory of lunch? 

Monday, November 06, 2017

Love it or hate it?

I snapped this from an Amtrak train passing through a station on my way someplace.  I like this image, I think it says a lot.  Others hate it, find it dark and depressing.  

Love or or Hate it? 

Sunday, November 05, 2017

19* Random Facts about you

19 random FACTS about yourself that may surprise people.
1. Do you make your bed everyday?  - No 
2. What's your favorite​ number? - 14
3. What is your dream job? - music producer
4. If you could, would you go back to school? Yes
5. Can you parallel park? Yes, well it depends on who you ask. 
6. A job you had which people would be shocked that you had? Credit Analyst 
7. Do you think aliens are real? No
8. Can you drive a stick shift? Yes
9. Guilty pleasure?  Smoked salmon 
10. Tattoos? No
12. Things people do that makes you mad? being mean 
13. Fear? Very little
14. Favorite childhood game? Monopoly  
15. Do you talk to yourself? Yes 
16. Do you like doing puzzles? Yes
17. Favorite music? Jimmy Buffet 
18. Tea or Coffee? Iced Coffee
19. First thing you remember you wanted to be when you grew up? Architect