Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

A year ago, I posted these resolutions for 2018, how have I done?  
  • Continue my gym time - mission accomplished 
  • Add a couple of personal days, to at least one of my work trips - did this three times. 
  • Continue to explore what I want to do when I grow up - I am grown up, whatever it is, I am it. 
  • Read 25 books - 70 finished 
  • Create a top 10 list for post retirement - I have four items.  
  • Get the house in Lexington ready to sell and start consolidating the house into the Condo - House sold, stuff in transit. 
  • Plan a real vacation - missed this one.  
  • Reach out to reconnect with family - did this twice this year.   

So For 2019 What Are My Resolutions? 
  • Keep moving, going to the gym 5 times per week. 
  • Plan a two week trip to the Pacific Northwest. (I have a 2 day meeting in Seattle.) 
  • Read 50 books 
  • Start on the condo updates
  • Explore the neighborhood - go out to dinner once a month 
  • Work on the top 10 list for post retirement
  • Daily Blog 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sunday Five - Blogging and Bloggers

For the last Sunday five of 2018 - let's blog about blogging? 

1: How many blogs do you visit, when you have time to visit blogs? 
2: How many bloggers did you meet in person in 2018?
3: How often do you post?
4: How often do you comment on other's posts?
5: Are there blogs you read, and seldom or never post comments on? 

My Answers:
1: How many blogs do you visit, when you have time to visit blogs? My minimum daily list is 11, about 20 on Saturday or Sunday when I have extra time. 
2: How many bloggers did you meet in person in 2018?  Two, plus their spouses. 
3: How often do you post?  About 370 times this year, in the past three years I have missed one day of posting daily. 
4: How often do you comment on other's posts?  There are half a dozen blogs that almost always draw a comment (I have been having difficulty posting comments on some Wordpress blogs the past few weeks.) 
5: Are there blogs you read, and seldom or never post comments on?  Yes, there are three or four on my daily list that I comment on seldom or not at all. Only one left on my occasional reading list, that does not allow comments.  

Your answers in the comments?

Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Time For Looking Back and Looking Forward

By my nature I am a score keeper, and this time of the year I tend to look back over the year and see what have I done.  I have learned to set goals, to make plans for the future.  This time of the year, I tend to evaluate the year, and plan for the coming year.  
So how have I done? It was a good year. 

  • I traveled a lot, the highlight was the slow drive down the California coast.  
  • I took lots of pictures, 
  • I made good progress on scanning in old images. 
  • I have maintained my personal goal of at least one blog post per day.
  • I read a ton of books, some were entertaining, most were educational.  Several have inspired me to try to find funding for a project that everyone recognizes as an issue, and no one has attempted to offer an answer.   
  • I connected with family and friends, something I tend to forget to do.  
  • We hit a couple of lifetime financial goals, passed a milestone net worth mark, and for the first time in adulthood, I am debt free.  
  • I had an interesting year in the office.  We made significant progress on research, I finished writing a journal article that was a real struggle, it will be published in spring. I made commitments to write two more.  I will learn to say "no" someday.  We had a major funding cut, that we need to work around in the next couple of years, or major changes will need to happen.  Major changes are going to happen, two of my five key colleagues will retire in the next two years, and two more of us within five years.  
  • There is more and more diverse music in my life. It feeds my being. 
  • Hubby is now here in the condo permanently.  The other house is history.  

The future? 

  • I will likely travel a bit less in 2019.  
  • I need to fund a couple of new projects in the office, or make plans for moving on. 
  • We will settle into a new normal at home. 
  • We will take at least one long vacation this year, maybe more, I have something silly like five weeks of vacation time on the books again.  I can't take it with me. 
  • I want to take more pictures, I want to start work on book project. 
How was your year?  What will your new year bring? 

Friday, December 28, 2018

What have I read this year part 2?

In addition the 52 books I had read by July 31, 2018, I finished these 18 for a total of 70 books this year.  I have two partially read, I will finish one of them, and may finish or toss the other one.  I have a couple that I loaded on the Kindle and have not had the heart to read. 
  1. Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts, Jaron Lanier
  2. Atlas Obscura, Joshua Foer et al
  3. Between Dusk and Dawn, Jon Varga
  4. The Pickled Pantry, Andrea Chesman
  5. Grape, Olive, Pig, Matt Goulding
  6. Omelette and a Glass of Wine, Elizabeth David
  7. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
  8. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman
  9. New French Table, Emily and Giselle Roux 
  10. Soul of the Heel, by Scott Bergstein
  11. Driving Miss Norma, Tim Baurerschmidt and Ramie Liddle 
  12. Dear Fucking Lunatic: 101 Obscenely Rude Letters to Trump, Aldous Pennyfarthing
  13. Don't let Dementia Steal Everything, Kerry Peck and Rick Law (friends of mine.) 
  14. GQ How to Win at Life, Charlie Burton. 
  15. Mastering the Art of French Eating, Ann Mah
  16. 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos, Jordan Peterson
  17. But What If We are Wrong? Chuck Flosterman
  18. The Science of Self Learning, Peter Hollins.  

Thursday, December 27, 2018

56 in 2018

2018 was a busy travel year.  I just added up the number of airline flights boarded = 56, the number of hotel nights = 56.  That is just to freaky.  I flew 40,224 miles on American Airlines, and another 1,000 or so on Delta.  I didn't have any long distance train trips this year.  Only left the country once.  

Planning is underway for 2019, where will you go next? 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Way We Were Wednesday

This picture was taken about 15 years ago in Yorkshire.  Stephen on the left, got me started in blogging, I filled in for him one summer for a couple of weeks while he was on Holiday in France.  His old blog is long gone, his latest blog is at He and Duncan live in London.  His parents live in Harrogate, his mother is not well.  

My sweet bear (on the right) was deciding what to order.  He settled on roast beef, yorkshire pudding and mushy peas.  Mushy peas are a very English dish made with peas.  He remarked the peas retained their essential peaness - say that outloud and you may know why we all had a good laugh.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas - The Queen's Speech Edition

There is a fine British tradition of the Queen's Speech, a public address at Christmas.  In homage to my English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish ancestors, here I go. 

Greetings to all, wishing you and yours a Merry Happy Christmas and Joyous Holiday season.  This time of year leaves us reflecting on the year past and planning for the year to come.  The past year has been filled with joys and challenges.  I have traveled far and wide across this great country.  No missed connections, only one major delay, and only one delayed bag.  Not bad for the level of adventure.  I have seen a lot of wonders, and unfortunately seen a couple of dear blogger's face life's great challenges.  I wish them strength to hang on for the coming dawn, for as the sun rises each morning we are given the opportunity to start afresh.  

Here at home, a most joyous experience, we are once again back living in just one house year around, with Sweet Bear's retirement from teaching.  The bliss will settle in over the coming months.  

Despite the stumbles in the market late this year, we have had a relatively prosperous year, and we have positioned ourselves well for the coming year. 😌  The queen is pleased! 

Plans for the coming year, call for a little less travel, though New York, Orlando, Cleveland, Nashville, Ft. Worth, Seattle and New Orleans are already on the agenda.  Here at home, we will be feathering our nest with plans afoot for replacing the kitchen and updating the baths sometime soon.

With the new Congress taking office in January, little will happen, sadly that means nothing really good, balanced by nothing really stupid. The political tone in DC is caustic, draining down from the mango menace in the Kremlin Annex.  I really wish Santa would deliver a dose of kindness and civility to little-Donny (intelligence is too much to ask for - he is Santa not a miracle worker.)   

Wishing all our friends in Blog Land a very Happy New Year!  Please keep blogging and sharing, we look forward to reading your random rambles, and seeing glimpses into your world.  

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Almost Christmas

My mother loved Christmas Eve, she could control everyone, under a hollow threat, my father hated getting up early on Christmas day, so once we were all beyond the Santa Claus era, Christmas eve become the gift giving time.  

Mom would insist that everyone take a shower before gifts (purely control, it is not like any of us were unwashed.) But it was her thing.  (We all have one.) Dad was happy as long as no one was going to roust him out of bed on Christmas morning.  

All of that is now past, I have been in control of my holidays for a good number of years now.  I enjoy Christmas morning.  Jay is fine, as long as the coffee is good, and early.  

Wishing you all a happy holiday, remember it is about time with people you love (that could be spending time alone.) It is about the spirit of giving, not about what you receive, or who got what.  Try to avoid the drama lamas.  Don't let them get under your skin.  

Ho-ho-ho, Merry Christmas! 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sunday Five - Christmas

This picture was taken 12 years ago, it was the first time in several years that my parents and all of the kids were together, the next time was late in Mom's life.  I bought the T-shirts - Mom got the joke.  

Hence this weeks Sunday five:
1:  Will you be with your parents or siblings this holiday season?
2:  Do you send cards or gifts to your siblings?
3:  What is your favorite "holiday only" food?
4:  Where is home?
5:  Has your whole family ever worn matching shirts?

My Answers:
1:  Will you be with your parents or siblings this holiday season? No
2:  Do you send cards or gifts to your siblings? Yes, both are done
3:  What is your favorite "holiday only" food?  An orange cranberry sauce. 
4:  Where is home?  This is complicated, I have lived in five states.  Michigan was my original home, but I left there in 1977.  This picture was taken in my parents home in Florida. 
5:  Has your whole family ever worn matching shirts? See above.

Your answers in the comments: 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Random Flashback

One advantage of having traveled and taken lots and lots of photographs, is the ability to open the photo file on my computer and get an instant flashback.  

This photo was taken in Greece.  We met up with Carole and Kent in Athens.  Kent was finishing a year as a scholar in residence, they had been there nearly the full year.  They were bored with Athens, so Kent rented a car and took us out into the Greek countryside for two or three days.  He is a fearless driver, you need nerves of steel, and F-1 driving skills to maneuver the back roads of Greece in a Fiat Punto.  He was able to take us places way off the beaten tourist path.  It was wonderful.  

We stopped for lunch overlooking the remains of a Temple overlooking the water.  This was the path down the back of the Temple along the top of the cliffs. A place I never would have seen if not for Kent's sense of adventure.  I saw him twice last year, he is living in Oakland, Carole died of cancer a few years after they retired, far to young.  

Grab the adventures when you can.  

Friday, December 21, 2018

Remodeling Ideas

Jay wants to update the condo, put our personal stamp on it.  Is this too much, or just right? 

Thursday, December 20, 2018

If you have seen one, you have not seen them all.

When I was a teenager, I spent a week on a 2,000 acre ranch in Colorado one summer.  I called home, to see if I could stay on an extra week and discovered that my parents had taken advantage of the kids being out of town, to take a vacation.  They had flown a private airplane to Niagara Falls with Cousin Bill and his "Wife of the Year."  He had several of them, you needed a score card to keep track.  I returned home, and then heard the story of the "Wife" and Niagara Falls.  They landed on the New York side, looked a the view, then started to take a taxi to the Canadian side to see the other side. Said Wife is forever quoted as saying, "can't we just go shopping, if you have seen one falls, you have seen them all!"  

The top picture is the Pacific Coast in California, the bottom picture is the Atlantic coast in Florida.  So different, I have so many more oceans to see.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Way We Were Wednesday

This was one of the first christmases in the house in Kentucky, 1996 maybe 1997.  It is the only two story house I have ever lived in and the only one with a fireplace.  Many fond memories.  If all goes to plan, it will become someone else's home today.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Government Programs

I have reached a comfortable place in life.  I want and need to work for a few more years, but all in all, I am in a good place. To some extent I am where I am, because of government programs.  

I bought my first home, using a special state program for low to moderate income first time homebuyers.  The special rate was 13.5%, but market rates were about 15% back in 1982.  The loan was paid off, when I sold that house a couple of years later, and the money was rolled into my next home, that was financed with a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA.) I owned that home almost a decade, and rolled most of the proceeds of the sale of that home (I paid off my car also) into the house in Lexington that we will close on the sale of soon.  I used an FHA insured loan when I bought the condo in the DC area.  Most of our cash was tied up in the house in Lexington.  Five years later, I was far enough ahead on paying the mortgage balance down, that FHA waived the insurance requirement.  We will pay off the condo soon. All of this started, with getting a break on buying that first house. 

I started my higher education in a state community college.  Books cost more than tuition, the state supported the college.  When I transfered from there to a private college to move beyond the two year degree, the state awarded me a modest scholarship for a couple of semesters, on the theory that it was cheaper for the state to subsidize students at high quality private colleges than to expand the state university system. It was not a huge amount of money, but the couple-of-thousand dollars helped.  

I went to a state university for Law School.  My tuition was below the cost of the school.  I borrowed on Federally guaranteed and some Federally subsidized student loans.  On the subsidized loans the Federal government paid the interest until I started repayment 6-months after graduation.  The guaranteed loans accrued interest while I was in school.  I owed about $45,000 when I went into repayment.  More than I paid for my first house - almost as much as our mortgage payment at the time.  I took a job out of law school providing free legal assistance to low income seniors, a public interest job, for $28,000 a year.  Six months later I started making $740 a month student loan payments.  Not being a believer in debt, I paid ahead as I could, but those first few years the budget was tight.  Seven years later the state came up with a student loan repayment program for persons working in public interest programs (teachers, nurses, legal aid attorneys.) The program was very difficult to qualify for,  I applied and hoped for the best.  I was awarded $10,000 and a year's interest in loan repayment. I paid off the balance out of savings the next month.  Then paid $2,000 in income tax on the loan forgiveness. I stayed on that job for almost 10 years, helping over 12,000 low income seniors. Then moved onto a support program that helps legal aid lawyers, be better lawyers. I am coming up on 20 years in pubic interest and non-profit work. 

Without government programs, I wouldn't have been able to buy that first house, or this condo, I would not have been able to afford an education that has enabled me to do good work, and to earn a good living (the last decade have been good to me.) 

When people talk about government being bad, I wish they would look at the way that government programs help ordinary people.  

Monday, December 17, 2018

Love Yourself

Love yourself! 
We all have flaws. 
Beating yourself up about them, will not change them. 
We generally know what we would need to do to change the things we can change.  Be conscious in your choice to do that, or NOT do what you need to do to change.  If you choose to not do what is needed to change, then be happy with who you are, love yourself as you are. 
If you don't love yourself, it is hard for you to truly love others, and for others to truly love you.  

Be accepting of who you are, your strengths, and weaknesses make you who you are, and they are all an important part of you. 

I spent a large part of the first 30 years of my life, rejecting parts of who I am.  When I finally broke through to self acceptance, I started to find happiness and true love.  

The second 30 years have been a lot more fun.  

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sunday Five - First Time

Everything we do started someplace and time.  This week's theme, first times. 

  1. How old were you when you got your first passport? 
  2. In what place did you first clear Customs and Immigration or border control? 
  3. What was the first airport you boarded an airline flight at? 
  4. Where was the first place you went over 100 miles per hour in a car?
  5. Where was the first place you saw a live concert? 
My answers: 

  1. How old were you when you got your first passport? 32 
  2. In what place did you first clear Customs and Immigration or border control? Sarnia, Ontario - as a kid when it was simple - very few questions asked and no ID needed (good thing my grandmother was undocumented at the time.) 
  3. What was the first airport you boarded an airline flight at?  Detroit, DTW the old terminal - Eastern Airlines.  
  4. Where was the first place you went over 100 miles per hour in a car? M-90 in North Branch Michigan in a 1965 Plymouth with my oldest brother driving - he could really drive . 
  5. Where was the first place you saw a live concert? Jacksonville Florida, KISS. 
Your answers in the comments! 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

10 Years and new leaps of faith

Ten years ago today, I took a giant leap of faith, and started my job in Washington DC.  I left behind a job with a couple of years of funding lined up, a home and city that I knew, a community that I where I was "a big fish in a small pond" to move to a place where few people knew me, and the big fish had been here for decades.  I split our family life in two, with two jobs, in two states, two homes, and lots of going back and forth.  

We soon discovered Google Hangouts, aka, Google Video Chat, a free service that we use to see talk with one another nearly everyday, 30+ weeks out of the year, for the last decade as we have lived and worked apart.  We have treasured the summers together, and the extended academic holidays that my sweet bear's job afford.  

Ten years ago, I needed a change, this was a chance to "dance on the national stage."  It was a big risk.  I figured if it didn't work, I'd return to Kentucky, assuming that J would let me back in. 

It worked.  I liked the job, my boss is a saint to work for.  I have done some good work, I have gotten noticed, I have made a difference.  I have learned, and pushed my field to look at issues differently. I have been fairly paid (though I could have made more by changing jobs a couple of times.)  

Jay has taught his last class, he is grading his last final exams.  I am headed to Lexington today, for the move out and closing on the other house.  I find the timing of my trip back to Lexington to be ironic, ten years to the day from when I started the job in DC.  

We are looking forward to being under the same roof year around - new beginnings and new leaps of faith.   

Friday, December 14, 2018


Earlier this year, the teenage son of a friend of mine hid in a classroom in his high school, desperately texting his father, while an angry young man with guns murdered classmates, teammates and friends in his school. School officials and local police knew the shooter, knew he was unstable, yet the guns were purchased legally though a licensed firearms dealer. Sadly, that was just one of several such occurrences this year. And nothing has been done to keep guns out of the hands of unstable people in this country.  

I am a gun owner.  My grandfather gave me my first rifle when I was a teenager.  I have fired thousands and thousands of rounds from rifles, shotguns, revolvers, and pistols.  I own at least one of each. (And I know the difference between them, and how to handle them safely.) My guns have never hurt anyone or any animal.  There is no risk in me owning guns as long as the two of us remain mentally well and stable, and I reasonably control access to them by angry or mentally unstable people. I live in a state with relatively simple gun laws.  My guns do not have to registered or licensed.  Only if I want to carry a concealed weapon would I need a state license.  In my state you can open carry (carry a weapon - including a firearm in public as long as it is readily visible), I don't, it is rare to see.  

We have laws in this country requiring a background check for "most" firearms purchases.  Not all sales, private sales and gifts are difficult to track, and even in places where they try, criminals sell guns outside of the system. Short of amending the Constitution, it will be difficult or impossible to regulate private sales, or gifts. 

Persons banned from buying guns through licensed dealers include persons convicted of serious crimes, persons who have committed domestic violence, and persons who are mentally unfit.  

The system breaks down, in a failure to report persons who shouldn't have guns.  Persons with serious unresolved anger issues, persons who are delusional, or paranoid.  All too often after a mass shooting, we hear that the person had an encounter with law enforcement, or mental health before the shooting and the professionals were concerned, but the person didn't meet the state criteria for reporting, or the system to report simply didn't work.  Many states require that a person be involuntarily hospitalized or found to be a person in need of protection by a court in a mental health proceeding before the name can be included in a database. Those are extreme measures, last resorts, that are invoked for a fraction of persons with serious mental challenges. For domestic violence the name does not go on the list in most states unless the victim goes to court and gets a restraining order - many victims remain with their abuser and try to work things out.  Those violent perpetrators don't end up in the no-sale database. 

We need to fix the system to expand reporting.  In doing so we need to provide due-process to challenge being on the no-sale list. 

All too often a professional saw the warning signs that a person was likely to become violent, and didn't or couldn't report.  

We need to improve access to mental health care.  Mental health needs to be on parity with physical health, and those without insurance need to have access to free or very low cost counseling.  

I am not advocating taking all the guns away.  I am just saying, keep guns out of the hands of people we all agree are a risk to the public if they have access to guns. The extremists on both side of this issue, need to come to the middle.  If we can't agree that a person who is paranoid and angry shouldn't have guns, what can we agree on? 

Thursday, December 13, 2018


I have a conference coming up next spring in Ft. Worth, Texas.  Should I buy the hat and boots?  I own a couple of pairs of boots, but I have never owned a pair of cowboy boots.  I have had a few hats - but not a good western hat.  Should I or shouldn't I. 

The picture above was in my mother's collection, apparently someone in the family history had a sense of style. 

Did that gene skip a few generations?

A rude joke: 
What do cowboy hats and hemorrhoids have in common?  
Answer - sooner or later every asshole has one.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Way We Were Wednesday - The Mirror Project

This was taken in Toronto about 14 years ago, in Toronto, with my first real digital camera.  I will have that one around here someplace.  It was taken to be submitted to "The Mirror Project."  The Mirror Project was a website that posted photos of reflections of the photographer.  Any reflective surface would work, the more interesting the setting, the more popular the image would be.  As I recall submissions were limited to one per week, per person.  The editors selected the images for posting.  It was run by volunteers, never monetized and stopped taking submissions after a few short years.  It was one of my first forays in web-publishing - along building a page on Virtual Tourist - now also closed.  

How far we have come in just a few years, how far will we go in the next 15 years? 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Random Notes

I read recently that researchers have determined that prozac makes lobsters happier.  When exposed to antidepressants, the serotonin level improves in lobsters - the lobsters exhibit more confidence and happy lobster behaviour.  Among other things the lobsters stand up taller, waive their claws in a confident and ready to take on all challengers way, and are less likely to hide under a rock. The book argues that as thinking beings, we can change brain chemistry by our actions, act confident, and your brain chemistry will follow - or change the brain chemistry and your physical actions will change.  The author argues that to some limited extent, brain chemistry and physical manifestation of happiness are a two way street.  

Stand tall, shoulders back, smile, fake till you make it. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Don't Stop Believing

I sent a memo to a boss one time, telling him how angry I was. The memo started out, "I am mad as hell and that is a good thing, because it means I still care."  Over the years I have mellowed, I seldom get mad, when I do I try to take time to put it all in perspective and usually come up with a better solution.  

When I resigned from my first real job, I simply said to the boss, "I lost the faith, I don't believe in company any more." I had stuck with that first company through thick and thin, but changes in management and ultimately in ownership and I felt the company had lost its way.  I moved onto one of the best jobs I ever had, working for a self professed manipulator.  

I was hauling books to donate to the library in Lexington, and I came across a paperback book that I read at the right time (during that first real job) called the power of purpose.  The message of the book was simple, find something to do with your life that has meaning for you - and there is meaning to be found in any job.  Most of the jobs I have had have allowed me to do work that I found intrinsically valuable. I found purpose, even something as mundane as selling womens shoes. I took time to help customers who were hard to fit. I set a land speed record finding the perfect pair of white shoes for a bride in her wedding dress who was late for her wedding (she had stepped in something and ruined her shoes on the way to the church.) I made a difference, most of the time.  

Everyone has value, 
Everything we do matters, 
If you don't care when things are messed up, either find purpose in what you are doing, to move on.  The sad truth is I quit that first job, weeks before I left that first job.  If you don't believe, rethink, or move on.  

Is the song stuck in your brain?   

Sunday, December 09, 2018

Sunday Five - Whimsical Art

1:  Are you more interested in where the penguin has been, or where he is going? 
2:  Should the penguin be blue or gold? 
3:  Do penguins dream?
4:  If you had this gallery space, what would you place in it? 
5:  If the penguin could answer, what would you want to ask him?

My answers: 
1:  Are you more interested in where the penguin has been, or where he is going?  Share with me, where you have been, and I will understand where you are going. 
2:  Should the penguin be blue or gold?  Blue. 
3:  Do penguins dream? Yes, vividly. 
4:  If you had this gallery space, what would you place in it?  It is perfect. 
5:  If the penguin could answer, what would you want to ask him?  What is it like to fly underwater? 

Your answers in the comments below. 

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Just the Tip

I had a conference at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago the week before Thanksgiving.  Nice hotel, nice space, this was part of the view from my room. Nice, except for the big prick, just the tip, of Trump Tower.  Maybe I should have asked for another room.  

Friday, December 07, 2018

Lexington, Kentucky

At long last the old Fayette County Court House in Lexington Kentucky has reopened.  The building was built in the 1890's at a cost of $250,000 as a replacement for a previous stone court house on the same site, that burned down when it was less than a decade old.  It operated as the Circuit court house until about 2001, when new District and Circuit Court buildings opened a couple of blocks away.  I had a couple of motion hearings in the building, I tried my first cases in the old district court building a few block away. 

When the new buildings opened, a back room deal was cut to sell the old district court building to a church - it was torn down so the church could expand.  A lease on the old circuit court building was thrown in on the deal.  The church used some office space and the first floor hosted a small museum for a few years.   The building proved difficult to repurpose.  It needed major repairs, and suffered from a 1960's remodel that filled the central core and rotunda with mechanical systems.  In the end the city took the building back, and over the past couple of years invested $35,000,000 in restoration and renovation.   

The first floor houses the new Lexington Visitor Center, and two restaurants.  The second floor contains the offices for the Breeders Cup horse racing series.  The third floor is an event space, open to the rotunda.  If is a great reuse of the building.  The city is lucky the building didn't get torn down, of converted into apartments.  

Was it worth $35-million to save this building? 

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Just a Sniff

In the new Lexington Kentucky visitors center, is a display about Bourbon - 95% of all Bourbon is made in Kentucky.  They don't offer samples (there is a bar across the corridor) but they do offer a sniff.  Squeeze the bulb, and a stiff comes up into the glass funnel.  They have five different Bourbons to sniff.  Kind of fun. 

Would you try just a sniff? 

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

The Way We Were Wednesday - Jack's Story

I found this is my father's slides, from the early 1960s.  His name was Jack, I don't remember his last name.  He was a childhood friend of my father in Clausen and Royal Oak, Michigan.  In the 1950's he moved to Arizona, married and had a houseful of kids.  We visited them the first time we went to Arizona, we were only there a week that trip.  When we went back the next winter Jack was gone.  

Jack liked to drink, it is unclear if he was an alcoholic, but he made a terrible mistake one night.  He had a few too many drinks, and caused a traffic accident on the way home.  Someone died in the accident.  He pled guilty to DUI and went to jail.  Leaving his wife and family struggling in his absence.  Being the 1960's the sentence was short, he was released in 2-3 years.  He divorced his wife, without returning home.  He signed on with a shipping company and went to sea.  Sometime in the 1970's my father heard that Jack was living with his mother in the Detroit area and went to try to visit.  Jack declined the visit.  He was terminally ill and didn't want to talk to anyone.  He died shortly after that.  

I recall the hurt and confusion my father went through.  Dad believed in second chances, forgiveness, that good people make mistakes - and are still good people.  He didn't understand how a good man, could reject his family and friends.  

We learn values, by observing.  

Tuesday, December 04, 2018


I was having breakfast at a Holiday Inn Express recently.  You know the people with the annoying commercials about being smart, very smart.  I was trying to decide which juice to have, and I had a grand ah-ha moment.  One of those moments that open your perspective on the world. 

A person walked up next to me, I looked over and I was not sure what gender the person was.  The person was kind of butch looking, with tattoos and a plaid shirt, but the face, and jewelry didn't register as male, being a little overweight, the body shape was indeterminate.  And it hit me, "why does it matter?"  

Our brains attach a set of social roles and expectations based on that momentary assessment of gender (or race, or sexual orientation, or ability.)  This is a mixed bag of desirable and undesirable.  Men and women have different expectations.  It helps my brain assign the correct pronouns.  But it also results in me treating a person based on a momentary assessment based purely on appearance.  Much about a person is not readily apparent, sexual orientation, and many differences in ability.  

Sometimes I wish sexual orientation was more obvious, then people wouldn't ask me about my wife.  At that point I either correct them, or ignore it and talk about my spouse.  My brain rushes through a through process. Does it matter? If I correct will the person still like me? Is it safe to talk about my husband?  Will I ever meet this person again?  Is this a teachable moment about cultural assumptions? I haven't kept track, my guess is about half of the time I let it slide, about have of the time I correct the gender.  

That moment of uncertainty, forced my brain to think through and articulate deep thoughts.  

Have you stayed at a Holiday Inn Express? 

Monday, December 03, 2018

Legal Definition of Bourbon

In the Federal Regulations, is a legal definition of what can be called bourbon.  It must be made in the United States, it must be at least 51% corn, it must be aged in a new charred oak barrel, it can't be distilled to more than 160 proof, and can't go in the barrel at more than 125 proof, can't be bottled at less than 80 proof.  Yes, leave it to the lawyers to define everything.  

You can't make good whiskey from a poor quality distillate,  the secret to a good bourbon whiskey is a good product, aged to perfection.  The art is in the aging.  And like people, age matters. Most of the really good bourbons have aged for 10 to 15 years, some longer.  When a popular brand brags about aging for four long years, I laugh, I wouldn't clean a bird cage with a Jim Beam. Now there are ways to quicken the aging process, Jefferson has started aging a sea, loading the barrels into shipping containers and sending them on around the world voyages.  Aging - as in improvements in flavor - stops when the bourbon goes in the bottle.  

Aging away, in the windows above is the Blantons or Van Winkle of the future.  

Have you tried a 15 year old Bourbon?  

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Sunday Five - Tell Santa What You Want?

It has been many - many - many years since I have sat on Santa's lap and told him what I wanted. All the same, we all have a wish list.  Tell us yours.

1:  What place would you like to visit in the new year?  
2:  If you could have lunch with a blogger, who would it be?
3: What toy from your childhood, would you like to have back? 
4:  What superpower would you like to have? 
5:  Puppy, kitten, pony, sheep, or penguin? 

My answers: 
1:  What place would you like to visit in the new year?  The two states I have not been to. 
2:  If you could have lunch with a blogger, who would it be? John Gray at Going Gently He has had a rough go and I'd love to spend time assuring him that it will all be okay.  
3: What toy from your childhood, would you like to have back?  The remote control truck from when I was about 10. 
4:  What superpower would you like to have? The ability to make everyone happy. 
5:  Puppy, kitten, pony, sheep, penguin?  I plea the 5th amendment, the last thing we need is a war between the flightless waterfowl and the fluffy wonders.  

Your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, December 01, 2018


I have to start off by saying, I don't understand children.  There is little evidence that I was ever a child.  I have never been around children, I was the youngest child, in a rural setting, my one and only cousin is 14 years younger than I, I was living 1,000 miles away when my sister spawned.  I have no experience with children, and they sometimes frighten me.  

Two things this week set me on a bit of a rant. 

First is a "news" story about a gate-agent for an airline mocking and making fun of the name of a young girl.  A rude thing to do, people are outraged at the airline.  Now the child's name is Abcde - pronounced according to her mother as Ab-city, or Absidy.  Where is the outrage at the parents?  This dear child is going to be the but of the joke until she changes her name.  Her parents should be charged with child abuse.  

Moving on to my second one.  I had lunch with a former law clerk. The week he graduated from law school, his wife gave birth to a delightful little boy.  She had a really great job, so he stayed home with the baby for the first year of his son's life.  A couple of employers have criticized his choice to stay home with his son for a year.  

I had two comments for him, the employer who does not understand a man taking the opportunity to spend a year with his newborn son, is an employer who does not understand work life balance, an employer you really don't want to work for.  And second, 30 years from now, he will have no regrets.  That time with his baby, will be one of the highlights of his life.   

Anyone have a job for a caring law school graduate?  

Friday, November 30, 2018

Is It Art?

Is it art or vandalism?  Can it be both? Should it be illegal? 

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Way We Were Wednesday 1988

In 1988 I competed in the National Championship Sprint Triathlon.  I was fit and healthy, I was making really good money at a job that I didn't hate -yet.  The water was cold, resulting in one of my fastest swim times ever.  I passed one of the super elite runners on the bike leg.  The run was flat and fast.  I finished in the top half of the field.  Not bad for a 30 year old who had been 75 pounds over weight two years before.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

If I am on Schedule

If I am on schedule, I am just outside of Boston, in Worcester Massachusetts speaking at a conference at the College of Holy Cross and I will be home later today.  

It has been an intense month of travel, four trips, in three weeks.  Three trips back-to-back, with barely time to repack in between. Two of the trips have been work, Chicago and Boston, in between I was at the other house for Thanksgiving.  I don't blog about being out of town, saving it for when I get back.  When I am going to be gone like this I write and schedule ahead of time.  

The Chicago project was part of an ongoing effort to train lawyers to be better presenters.  We are making progress, we are seeing improvement.  The Boston project is a cutting edge ethics project that has allowed me to examine issues from an entirely new perspective.  Preparing it forced me to think in new ways, I can only hope that the audience sees old challenges in new ways when I am done.   

One more trip before the end of the year.  

Monday, November 26, 2018

Favorite Places

I could spend the afternoon at Eaterly in Chicago. I enjoy cheese, I love the incredible selection and staff that know the product and are enthusiastic about it. The cured meat selection is simply amazing.  Again people know their stuff and are eager to share.  

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Sunday Five - a little about you?

  1. Number of siblings?
  2. How many years of education?
  3. How many places you have lived?
  4. Longest you have held a job?
  5. Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, what is your season? 
My answers?

  1. Number of siblings? Three, all older 
  2. How many years of education? 20 
  3. How many places you have lived?  14
  4. Longest you have held a job? Coming up on 10 years 
  5. Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, what is your season?  Spring.  
Your answers in the Comments, 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Bargin Hunter?

John over at Going Gently did a posting a couple of weeks ago about the scramble for discounts in the grocery store. The posting got me to thinking if I was a bargain hunter or not, or someplace in between.  I have to say someplace in between.  I don't live and die based on the price I pay for things.  I would never fight someone for a bargain.   

I really don't pay a lot of attention to food prices, I buy what I want, I buy the best quality I can.  That being said, I don't buy steak at Balduchi's and generally wait for it to be on sale.  When I buy steak, I buy the best, I'd sooner pay $20 a pound for a nice tender filet, than $10 a pound for a tough strip steak.  If I find something I like, marked down, I am likely to stock up, or even splurge.  I found ducks on sale after Christmas, marked down from $5 a pound to 49-cents a pound.  I had never cooked a duck before, it was fun and tasty (I think I still have duck fat in the freezer!) 

The year before I started law school, I needed a job.  Any job, I needed an income money and health insurance.  I filled in a few applications and the first offer was from a department store.  I spent 9 months selling ladies shoes for about $9 an hour.  An experience that will forever shape how I buy clothing.  I almost never pay retail for clothes, everything goes on sale sooner or later.  Even better is clearance on sale. As I have gotten harder to fit, I buy more and more online, on sale at a deep discount.  When I see it, if it is a good value, I buy it.  

For many money is a scorecard of success.  For me it is security.  I am always reminded that I can't take it with me, even if dad did place an order on Amazon a week after he died.  I watched the accounts, he only did that once.   

Friday, November 23, 2018

Christmas Shopping Season

Today marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, 5 weeks when US retailers make as much as half of their profit for the year.  I will be driving today, not shopping.  My shopping is nearly done, I have an Amazon order to place - they can ship to my siblings.  I will get that done in the next week.  I tend to gather gifts through the course of the year.  

Are you shopping today? 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving From a Cockeyed Optimist

Most of the time, I have a weirdly optimistic view of the world, I have my father to thank for that.  When I was a kid and I would complain about what I had, or wanted, or my lot in life, he would remind me, often in a colorful way that others would be grateful to have what I had, to have the place in life that I had. And he was right, I have so much to be thankful for.  

  • I have love in my life, my sweet bear. 
  • I have a home, that while modest in size, is comfortable, and I feel safe in. 
  • I have a job, that I find rewarding, that allows my strange mind to do things that I find fulfilling and to make a difference in the lives of others. 
  • I have an education that leverages my abilities and helps me understand the weird world out there.  
  • I have a good work life balance. 
  • I have decent health, able to move about on my own, not contemplating imminent death. 
  • I am able to travel, not everyplace I ever wanted to go, but a lot more than most. 
  • I have friends, and few enemies. 
  • I have a forum for sharing my photos and thoughts. 
  • I have a good life, and I know it. 
Be thankful for what you have, be kind, be generous with your love and time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The Way We Were Wednesday

This was taken in 1992 or 93. When I was at my most anorexic.  I was running 30 miles a week, swimming three mornings a week, and riding a very fast bike 50 miles a week - and not eating.  I have a complicated relationship with food, this was the extreme in one direction.  

Over the years I have mellowed, I am much happier with who I am and much easier to be around.