Saturday, June 30, 2018

Where to Next?

My insane travel schedule, is slowing down.  11 trips in the first six months of this year.  So far I only have four in the second half of the year.  My next trip is Texas.

Where are you off to next?

Friday, June 29, 2018

Love the one you are with


In many ways I was an early adopter, I bought my first home computer in the early 80's, my first cell phone in 1996, my first blackberry in 2005, a smart phone in 2010.  I have owned more Windows machines than I can count, there are four windows laptops taking up space under my desk at home.  I am on my second Chromebook, I have not been as happy with this one as the first one.  I pre-ordered the first Kindle Fire, and I have been almost exclusively a Kindle reader for a decade.  

In January my 14 month old Windows desk top ate it's hard drive.  In a moment of frustration, I went out and bought the biggest desktop Apple makes.  It has taken some time to figure out, there are still things that are frustrating about it, and seemingly unchangeable.  I love the huge size (27inches.) A month ago I bought an I-Pad with a keyboard case to be my travel computer.  I have made a couple of trips with it.  There are a few things it won't do, it does not play well with Blogger, I have not tried to print from it.  But I like it. It is the best portable I have ever worked with, fast, easy to work with.  It weighs next to nothing, the combination of touch screen and keyboard work well (despite Apple recently saying that computer users don't interact well with touch screens.) It holds a charge well.  

Are you Windows, Apple, or something else? 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Slow Down

Slow down, we eat to fast, we drive to fast, we drink to fast, we communicate to fast.  We are rushing through life.  Stop and smell the roses, slow down and see the world anew.  

I can remember the first time I ordered Tapas, I was upset because it didn't come out fast enough, or in the order I ordered it.  Tapas, is slow food, it arrives when it is ready, in the order it happens to come out.  Tapas is from a different culture, a culture that moves at a different pace.  I have learned to enjoy it, I fixed dinner that way recently.  

Am I learning something?  Can you teach an old dog new tricks? 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Way We Were Wednesday

This was taken in the school newspaper office at Titusville High School in Titusville, Florida in probably 1975.  I am looking at this and thinking of the things that would need to be explained to anyone under the age of 25.  The machine with the keyboard, is an IBM Selectronic Typewriter - it was state of the art. It had no memory, no spell check and produced just one printed copy.  The bottle to the left was White-Out, you used that to cover mistakes on the printed page, so you could type over them.  The box to his right is a radio.  The bold pattern behind his back, is the teachers pants - very stylish (the teacher Jack McCoy died suddenly last year - he was in his early 70's, I miss his Facebook posts.) Yes that is a massive leather watch band, with a watch that had to be manually wound each day. Oh, and the hair, if you were cool you had lots and lots of hair.  And the shirt collar, you had to live in the 70's to understand. 

What would you need to explain from your high school pictures? 

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Couple of Hours or All Day

Back in late March I added a couple of days onto a trip to the west coast and rented a car to explore the coast.  I kept asking people about travel along the coast, things like how long will it take to drive from San Francisco to Pebble Beach.  I kept getting answers about the fastest way, 90 minutes by expressway if the traffic is moving (it is about 100 miles.) I kept trying to explain that I wanted to take the slow road along the coast, I just wanted to be sure that I would have plenty of time for a leisurely drive.  I found no one who had taken all day, to drive what can be done in a couple of hours or less.  I did, stopping along the way every time I wanted to.  I am so glad I did, I saw so much.  

We rush through life, taking the most efficient route, because we can.  Sometimes we need to take the least efficient route, because we can.  

When was the last time you took the slow route? (If you can't remember, it has been too long.) 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Gay Pride Month - the Sunday Five

Castro Street in San Francisco, one of the most famous gayborhoods in the United States.  June is Gay Pride month.  So let's try five questions:

1: When was the first time you met someone you knew was LGBT?
2: Have you been to a same-sex marriage? 
3: Do you own a rainbow flag? 
4: Have you had the opportunity to vote for an LGBT candidate? 
5: Have you ever taken part in a gay pride parade or protest?

My answers: 
 1: When was the first time you met someone you knew was LGBT? In high school, Phil he is an attorney in the Detroit area now. I was so far in the closet I never said anything, but I was okay hanging out with him. 
2: Have you been to a same-sex marriage?  I don't get invited to many weddings, but I guess mine counts. 
3: Do you own a rainbow flag? A couple of them.
4: Have you had the opportunity to vote for an LGBT candidate?  Yes, a friend in Kentucky - he was in the state Senate and is now a judge. 
5: Have you ever taken part in a gay pride parade or protest? The first was a pride parade or two in Orlando, about 7 years ago I was part of a marriage equality protest march here in DC. 

Your answers in the comments please, 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Sitting Around

Three years ago, we bought two big leather "power" recliners for the living room.  I referred to them as the electric chairs, the mechanism for titling forward and back was electrified. We are not that lazy, the chairs were the most comfortable we could find, and comfort is important at our age.  

Before you get swept up in power recliners, let me tell you about a couple of drawbacks.  The chairs move at their speed, when Fed-Ex is ringing the doorbell with a package that requires a signature and you are trying to get out of the chair to get to the door in time before the driver disappears taking the long awaited delivery with her, you have no control over how fast the chair moves.  Then there is the issue of the mechanical system, when it fails, you either can't get it up, or can't get it down -the foot rest that is.  One of them failed recently, up.  The new chairs were delivered on Wednesday, no more electric chairs for me.  

Friday, June 22, 2018

Behind the Scenes

There are two sides to many things, the facade and behind the scenes.  People are like that, we seldom know what is happening beneath the surface. A few times I got a glimpse behind the magic at Disney - seeing what keeps the place ticking.  As complicated as the surface may be, oft times things are much more complicated below the surface.  

We have all seen pictures of Tower Bridge in London, a symbol of the city.  Many of us have crossed it, maybe watched it open for boats to pass.  The picture above was taken behind the scenes in the massive machine rooms that operate the mechanism to raise and lower the bridge.  If only it was that easy to see behind the scenes of people.  

Are you more complicated behind the scenes? 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Going Back Again

Many places I travel to once, for some - once is enough.  Other places keep repeating, some draw me back time and time again.  San Francisco is a city I enjoy revisiting, I am headed back there again soon (I'll tell you about it when I get back.) I don't often have a choice of where I am going, but I jump at the opportunity to repeat some places. 

What draws me back? 

  • Natural beauty, I remember waking up one morning in deepest Appalachia,  I had arrived after dark the night before for an early morning presentation.  I looked out my hotel room window to the most spectacular view of Elkhorn Lake.  San Francisco has a lot of those views. 
  • Great architecture,  buildings that are fun to look at, and exciting to explore.  
  • Interesting and intelligent people. 
  • Diverse people, we live in an increasingly global world, I like that. 
  • Great food.  If I want to eat at the top 10 national chains, I can do that in my neighborhood, I like to find something different. 
What do you look for in a place that draws you back? 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Way We Were Wednesday

Wonderful eyes, expressive, glancing back at me.  Tight pants, this would have been in the mid-70's.  There is a camera case on the table, most likely yearbook, graphics arts or journalism class. The image is a little flat on contrast, the whites are not white enough, but who cares, the Eyes have it.  

Do you think he aged well?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


I had a great time in Toronto.  The weather was delightful, highs in the 70's lows around 60.  The airport is large, and very international, but easy to navigate. There is an express train from the airport to the city center - it makes two stops, makes the run in a predictable 25 minutes and runs every 15 minutes.  The Sheraton hotel was nice, the room nice and fluffy.  The food was good, the service polite.  Above is the view from my room.  

The place felt foreign, and everyone spoke English.  The money was different, at the current exchange rate the prices are not bad.  

The only thing that surprised, me was the number of men literally sleeping on the sidewalk.  

It was only my second visit to Toronto, I would like to go back. 

Have you been to Toronto? 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Not a Wombat!

About 15 years ago, J and I went to Canada.  Traveling with us was Rodney our Wombat.  He is a very good traveling companion, quiet and well behaved, perpetually curious.  I had him tucked under my arm as we walked in a Hilton Hotel, the doorman made a remark, that it was Canada I didn't need to bring a Beaver with me, they have plenty of them.  I pointed out, that Rodney didn't have buck teeth and a flat tail, Wombat not Beaver.  I was very tempted to buy the beaver above, in case I need to point out the obvious differences in anatomy between a wombat and a beaver.

So, am I crazy or just fun?

Sunday, June 17, 2018


I read a book a couple of years ago that explained that evolution or human history, predisposes us to crave, fat, sugar, and salt.  Any food that provides these, most of us have a natural liking for.  My forbidden foods posting the other day drew some never me comments (I expected that.) I should create a list of forbidden foods I want to try before I die.  For today, the Sunday five, some simpler food questions. 

1: Eggs, firm or runny yolks? 
2: French fried potatoes, tomato catchup, mayonnaise, or vinegar and salt? (above, poutine eggs Benedict - yum!) 
3: Steak, rare, medium or well done?
4: Shrimp, grilled or fried? 
5: A martini, vodka or gin? 

My answers:
1: Poached eggs, firm or runny yolks? Runny - barely warm.
2: French fried potatoes, tomato catchup, mayonnaise, or vinegar and salt? (above, poutine eggs Benedict - yum!) Any of the above or just salt. 
3: Steak, rare, medium or well done?  Rare - I only learned to enjoy this the last few years - I was raised on over cooked
4: Shrimp, grilled or fried? either 
5: A martini, vodka or gin? Yes please 

Your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Why Do I Let The Crazies in My Life?

There are a few people in my life, that are very difficult to be around.  Some of them have a negative outlook on life, a few believe every conspiracy theory, a couple have vastly different political views from mine.  Way back in college I took a class in persuasion theory,  the take away from that class, was don't engage the crazies, you will seldom change their point of view. 

It is easy enough in this day and age to simply block the crazies.  With the click click or two I can delete the bookmark, or unfriend.  And I have done that from time to time, but I let the crazies back in.  

Why?  It is not like I need help keeping my blood pressure up.  I let them in, because to fully understand the issues, I need to hear all sides.   If I never understand the other side, I will never be able to counter it.  The craziest of the crazies, only know one side of an issue, if I block the opposite side, I would be just as crazy as the people I think are crazy.   

How do I live with them?  I don't engage them.  I read or listen and seldom if ever comment.  

Do you let the crazies in?

Friday, June 15, 2018


Heavy is the head that wears the crown.  Travel penguin has always been a bit of a diva, the queen of the traveling penguins.  

Who is your favorite queen? 

Thursday, June 14, 2018


For most of us, our first encounter with the police, is a traffic ticket.  My first one was for passing some old fart going about 10 miles per hour, in a no-passing zone, not noticing that the motorcycle behind me had blue lights in the faring. I deserved it, I paid it, I vowed to be more patient. Living in DC, and driving very little, I have become much more patient.  Or maybe it is just the mellowing of approaching old age.  

Back in my days working for home builders, I was frequently the one that discovered and reported construction site theft.  I recall being rattled the first time.  There was the time the alarm system in the office went off in the middle of the night, I lived nearby and heard it.  I pulled some pants on, called the police and drove the quarter mile to the office.  When I pulled up the police were standing inside looking out.  I said the most logical thing, if I am going to find someone here at 2:00 in the morning, you are the person I want to find.  I proceeded to get read the riot act, one of my colleagues had left the door unlocked, the police were checking the building, grabbed a door handle, the door opened and set off the alarm.  He was not happy!  

Another time when that alarm went off, I went back there and staggering around in then briefest of brief underwear was a neighbor of mine, a local radio personality, so drunk he could barely stand up.  I drove him to his house, getting him out of sight before the police arrived.  He said he was trying to get into the office to see if we had beer in the refrigerator.  I saved him from an arrest for drunk and disorderly.  When I filed the police report, I didn't tell the officers that I had found a drunk celebrity trying to get in before they got there.  The doors were locked, nothing disturbed, just a false alarm.  I don't think I have ever told anyone about that, it happened in 1983 - I only owned that house about 16 months.  

What is your police story? 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Way We Were Wednesday

My father was a licensed pilot.  It was his hobby.  Photography was my hobby.  I took some pictures from a plane one day, people saw them and started asking us to take a picture of their farm. I discovered a way to make money.  I paid for the air time, Dad flew, I took the pictures, the profits paid for several thousand dollars in professional camera equipment in just a couple of years.  

The two shots above are from 1975.  The airplane was a mid size twin, at the local airport.  It was owned by a musician with a group called Grand Funk Railroad, his mother lived near the airport and he would drop in from time to time.  The lower image is North Branch, Michigan.  The track was at the old school complex, the school buses are parked just right of center all in neat rows.  The Food-Locker building was still standing (it burned to the ground in the mid 70's.) I was raised about three miles southwest of there, a mile and a half from the nearest paved road. 

Did you have a profitable teenage hobby? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Line of the Week

I recently finished a book about a train wreck in Thaxton, Virginia in 1889.  In a massive storm, the tracks washed out from under the train, sending it plunging into a creek. There were an unknown number of fatalities that night, the records of who was on the train were consumed in the fire that followed the disaster. There were survivors of the tragedy, some trapped in the wreckage. Several women were struggling to get out of the remains of a Pullman car, W.J. Barksdale was the first to reach them.  The ladies pleaded to not be left behind, he responded, "I will not leave, ladies until I see all safe, I am a Virginian."  

The code of honor, helping others, assuring that others are safe - human values.  We need more people like this.  I wonder if he was related to my law school classmate Ian Barksdale?  

Monday, June 11, 2018

Would you?

Would you? 
Cook live shellfish - lobster, crabs? 
Eat oysters?
Eat Horse? (Italy and France)
Eat Whale?  (Japan and Iceland) 
Eat Seal? (Canada) 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Travel Fun - Sunday Five

If all went to plan, they let me back in the country again.  I was in Toronto for a couple of days.  The Sunday five on travel. 

1:  When did you get your first passport? 
2:  Have you ever had your luggage opened and searched? 
3:  Have you been frisked by TSA? 
4:  Have you ever talked your way onto an earlier plane or train?
5:  What is the longest travel delay you have experienced? 

My answers:
1:  When did you get your first passport? 1990. 
2:  Have you ever had your luggage opened and searched? A couple of times, once when leaving London, and the last time in some podunk town in the Carolina, the baggage scanner was out of order. 
3:  Have you been frisked by TSA? A few times.  The last time was a couple of months ago, J was at the other house.  I said go right ahead, and stood there saying to myself, it is okay to think it but not say it, "this is the most physical contact I have had with another human being in weeks."  
4:  Have you ever talked your way onto an earlier plane or train? Yes, easier with trains than planes, but I have done both.  I am almost always early for my departure. 
5:  What is the longest travel delay you have experienced? 14 hour, in Denver - the sent us to a hotel 10 miles from the airport at midnight.  

Your answers in the comments! 

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Hey Tony, we loved you

The world of travel and food lost a giant on Friday, with Tony Bourdain’s apparent sucicde.  Tony was an incredibly talented writer and story teller.  His writing inspires me to get   outside of my comfort zone and try new things.  His story was one of remarkable resilience, and new beginnings.  He had been to rock bottom and found a way to move on.  The world is stunned trying to understand why he would choose to go this way, at this time.  I wish he had called the millions of people who read his every word, who knew who he was and that the story he was telling was worth putting the world on hold to listen to just from the sound of his voice.  We would have told him, we love you, we need you.

He inspired me to try forbidden foods, on Friday I kept a reservation for dinner, at KuKum, a “First Nations Restaurant” in Toronto, an opportunity to try seal, at one of the few places that is brave enough to offer it.  I thought of Tony, his life story, his travels, his writing, his voice and tried to honor him - by eating well - getting way outside my normal world.

As our Dear Spo would say, Tony took a permanent solution to a temporary problem. He has left a huge void in travel and food writing, a void that will be hard to fill.

You are Being Watched

There are at least three security cameras on this street corner in San Francisco. If I have my phone with me, Google knows exactly where I have been.  Once a month Google sends me a link to where I have been in the past month.  It is incredibly detailed. How detailed, last November I presented a workshop in a hotel ballroom in Huntington Beach, California.  I tend to walk around the room when I teach, Google tracked me pacing back and forth in the room. For months Google sent me traffic alerts for my daily commute, only one problem I last drove to the office May 4, 2015.  A couple of months ago, my phone asked me if I would like updates on public transit, and did I prefer busses or trains.  I selected trains.  Now I get updates on delayed trains.  

I am not bothered by this. I do little that I would be embarrassed by others knowing about, nothing that the police state really cares about.  If I don't want to be tracked, I need to leave my phone off, and stay away from the cameras.  

Do you care if Google or Apple knows where you are?  

Friday, June 08, 2018

Three Months

As I write this, I look out my window into a canopy of vibrant green.  Less than 90 days ago, the trees were bare and covered in wet gloppy snow.  What a difference a short time can make.  

Thursday, June 07, 2018


Style, color, life and the routine things in life, need not be boring. 

Is it time for my orange shoes? 

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

The Way We Were Wednesday

In sorting through things, getting the other house ready to sell, we found my three-ring-binder stuffed full to overflowing with negatives from the 1970's.  The collection starts in 1975, with a few thousand shots a year, most in black and white.  I was buying film in 100-foot rolls, loading my own 35mm canisters, developing and printing at home and at school.  In sorting out Dad's slides last year, I bought a film scanner, I can scan negatives or positives, color or black and white, in a variety of film sizes (not 120/220 and there are 120/220 films in the binder.) . 

The picture above was taken with my camera, in high school, it would have been in the fall or spring, this was the school in Michigan.  More specifically one of the four new classrooms that were added on to the building in about 1973.  I can't believe how thin I was - my mother convinced me I was fat.  I had a wonderfully geeky pair of Rayban aviator sunglasses, with the huge case on my belt.  I am wearing a ring on my right hand, that would be a silver one with a stone top, I still have it.  

I will try to hold memory lane down to one day a week, should it be "The Way We Were Wednesday" or "Time Travel Thursday"?

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Added Days

I committed to adding a couple of days to a couple of work trips this year.  Often, like my most recent trip to New Orleans, the trip is all work.  If I don't plan ahead, it is get there, work, work, work, get home.  If I add a couple of extra nights at my own expense, I get to see things like the coast at Pebble Beach above.  The extra couple of days, are days well spent.  

How often do you add an extra day or two to a trip? 

Monday, June 04, 2018

Guardianship: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Picking an Airline

On a good day, any airline will get you there and back, when things go wrong selecting the right airline can make the difference between getting where you are going within a few hours of your scheduled time, or a few days, or not at all.  After 20 years of a lot of travel, I have a few tips. 

1: Pick the airline that has the most daily flights in and our of your home airport.  When things go awry, and flights are delayed or cancelled, the airline with the most flights will get you on your way faster.  
If a flight is cancelled, on a plane with say 100 passengers, and the average flight is 80% full, it will take five outbound flights to reaccomodate the 100 passengers. The more flights the airline has from that airport, the faster you will get out. I have NEVER had an airline put me on a flight on another airline - that practice is nearly non-existent. 
2: Pick one Airline and stick with them.  
3: Join the airlines frequent flyer programs.  At a minimum you want to build up points, of my last 16 Atlantic crossings, I had frequent flyer seats on 11 of those flights.  Some programs also offer discounts on things like checked bags (Hawaiian.) When things go wrong, phone calls from members of the frequent flyer programs get helped before non-members, and frequently by more experienced and empowered staff. Occasionally schedule, price, or a destination that my primary airlines do not service, will prompt me to fly another airline, and I always sign up for their frequent flyer program before I book the seat.   
4: Get an airline credit card for your primary airline.  For less than $100 per year, most of them get you free checked bags, and earlier boarding.  If you fly twice a year and check bags, the money saved on checked bag fees will offset the annual fee. Being able to board earlier, makes it easier to find overhead space. You earn frequent flyer points for everything you run through the card - I use mine for everything - and pay the bill in full when the bill comes in (I haven't paid interest on a credit card in 30 years.)  

Now I will admit, I have two primary Airlines.  American Airlines is the dominate carrier at my home airport, and Delta is the dominate carrier in both Lexington and Orlando.  With mom and dad gone, and plans to sell the house in Lexington later this year, I may drop Delta.  But not before I enjoy the miles I have built up, enough for a free trans-Atlantic flight, with early boarding and free checked bags. I wish Delta was the dominate carrier at DCA. 

How do you pick an airline?  

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Silly Sunday Five

I was working on a morose and boring Sunday five, it was to depressing to finish - and will sit in drafts for a while.  I looked for a random image for inspiration.  Here we are. 

1: This is Wicked Hamster, he is a former blogger, a travel companion of Travel Penguin.  Do you travel with anything silly? 
2: The cartoon Wallace and Grommet has a running joke about Wensleydale Cheese, the joke saved the place from near bankruptcy.  Have you tried Wensleydale cheese? (We visited the creamery a few years ago.) 
3: Have you seen Wallace and Grommet? (There is a YouTube channel.) 
4: What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon? 
5: What would the Coyote have done of he had caught the Road-Runner? 

My Answers: 
1: The One and Only Travel Penguin is still, in my bag (he has a stunt double someplace around here.) 
2: Yes, some of it is good, the fruit filled ones are an acquired taste. 
3: Yes, see also Shaun the Sheep
4: Buggs Bunny! 
5: Frozen and not known what to do, it was all about the chase.  

Your answers in the comments! 

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Around and Around and Around it Goes

It was crowded, and my feet hurt so I didn't stand a wait for a seat, but this bar goes around, and around, and around.  Very slowly.  A friend of mine who gets motion sick and tends to over enjoy, did try it.  I have not heard a report, leading me to believe it did not end well.  

Would you work here? 

Friday, June 01, 2018


It is Friday, and I am home again, two weeks in a row.  Amazing, time seems to be speeding past.  I am trying to remember to stop and smell the roses along the way.  Time flies when we are having fun.  

How is your year going?