Friday, August 31, 2018

A Lesson From My Grandfather

My paternal grandfather was born to privileged parents who had fallen on hard times, fallen very hard.  My paternal great grandfather was the grandson of a very successful ship captain and Mississippi river merchant.  When my great grandparents were married they moved into a fine hotel in St. Louis and started a family.  He had been raised with money, he had been educated by private tutors.  He never learned to work, or manage money.  A few years into his marriage the lawyers told him, he had spent nearly all of it, there was a modest farm left, the family moved to the farm about 60 miles from St Louis on the Illinois side.  My grandfather was born a couple of years later - long after the money and privilege was gone.  From a young age, he worked on the family farm, and on other farms to earn money to support the family.  He learned to hunt, and was a good shot, ammunition cost money, and money was hard earned. When my grandfather was a teenager, Ford was advertising $5 a day, the family sold the farm and moved to Detroit.  My grandfather worked for Ford from the late 1920's to the mid 1950's.  Leaving just a couple of years before the pension plan came in.  

My grandparents lived on the farm when I was a kid. The farm house, had a long narrow back porch, probably 8 feet by 30 feet.  In the late 1950's my grandparents enclosed the porch  with sliding windows - creating a sun porch.  They had an orange vinyl Herman Miller "daybed" sort of a couch with removable back cushions on the sun porch (very mid-century modern.) 

I was about 12, I was visiting my grandparents late one afternoon.  We lived around the corner on the same farm, I visited often.  My grandfather was out on the daybed trimming his finger nails.  It is the only time I ever remember him doing that.  I was sitting next to him, talking. 12-year olds are hard to shut up, some never outgrow that.  

I don't remember what it was, but I said "I wish" for whatever it was I wished we had.  His response sticks with me 48 years later, "wish in one hand, and shit in the other and see which one gets full first."  "Decide what you want, and go do what it takes to get it."  

What he had in his life, he had because he had done what it took to get it.  My father said, "that sounds like dad" my mother was not so thrilled with my new story to tell.  Dad tried to get me to make it less graphic.  But I remember it the way he said it.  And it stuck. 

It was about 10 years later, when I figure out that I could do just about anything, if I put my mind to it and worked hard.  He had figured that out as a child, and made his way in the world.  

What lessons do you remember from childhood? 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sometimes I Can't Get It Right

I plan a national conference as part of my work.  This is my 5th year.  Sometimes, no matter what I do, I can't get everything right.  

Three years ago, I had a speaker with limited mobility show up, I had never met her before, and she was in the only room (of five) that had a raised stage, and NO RAMP!  She tore my head off for not knowing.  

Last year I had an attendee who uses a wheelchair, who made reservations for an accessible room.  When she arrived at the hotel the hotel didn't have an accessible room.  They put her in a room she couldn't get into the bathroom in and told her she could go down to the public toilets on the ballroom level.  I was screamed at, I screamed at the hotel, they moved her to an accessible room, and refunded her money. 

This year I was working on reservations for some VIPs, one of whom is hearing impaired.  On my email to the hotel, with a copy to the guest, I mentioned that she was hearing impaired.  I got back an email saying "NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!" and going on that the person should self advocate and that this usually results in her getting the worst room in the hotel.  

I tried to be proactive and ended up getting screamed at again.  

What do I do, keep trying to make the hotel accessible to everyone.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Yes, I call this work

I spend a fair amount of the time in the front of the room, teaching, training, facilitating, sharing the work that we do.  It is a part of what I do that I enjoy.  Once or twice a year, I get to go to a conference and be entirely on the other side, there to listen and learn.  Especially if it on issues I know I lack knowledge or expertise on, I usually enjoy it.  Recently I went to a conference on aging issues in native American populations.  I learn so much about culture, values, beliefs and practices from this group.  

When was the last time you went to a conference on something you are not an expert on? 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Overheard While Traveling

Travel is a great time for people watching.  I often travel solo.  With no one to talk to, I hear what others around me are saying.  

Landing in Chicago, the young man in the row behind me was thrilled by the big planes, a 777 taxied by and he pointed and asked his companion to look.  Then a 747 - still one of the sexiest things to ever take flight, went by and he was rapturous.  The an A380 - he had never seen one.  The only full double decker is a thrilling sight.  I wished it would have been polite to openly share his enthusiasm, I have seen them all, flown on most of them, and I still get giddy when I see the giants of the sky.  

There were two people traveling together on business at the table next to me at dinner in Chicago, the tables were about 10 inches apart, making is easy to see and hear everything.  The young man was on his phone for 2-3 minutes.  After the call he started to talk.  His colleague said, I know you are stressed with the wedding coming up and all.  He said, the wedding is not bothering me, it will happen and I will just show up.  He proceeded to describe fights over who was invited, and mom insisting that he invite people he didn't know, he said he and his intended get along fine except for two things, his desire for personal downtime and money.  I wanted to say, if you can't agree on those two things, save yourself the cost of the wedding and the divorce lawyers.  Time and money, what is there left - sex?  

I watched a young mother argue with her five year old.  The five year old wanted his mother to buy him gummy vitamins.  She said, no the other vitamins are better for you.  He whined, but these are so good.  I wanted to say, buy your kid candy, he is craving sweets, unless there is a special health concern, candy never killed anyone, and kids naturally crave sweets. 

What do you notice when you travel?  

Monday, August 27, 2018

Happy Birthday to Lyndon Johnson, Michael Jackson, Elmer Godfrey (my grandfather)

I was born on my grandfather's birthday, many many many years ago.  I am out relaxing someplace today.   Another year older, another year wiser.  Time flies, we might as well enjoy it while we are here.  

Sunday, August 26, 2018

How Old? Sunday Five

You might be close to my age if? 

1: Have you ever used a rotary dial phone? 
2: What year did you buy your first cell phone? 
3: Have you ever driven a car built before seatbelts were standard equipment? 
4: Did you wear "bellbottom pants?"
5: Do you remember when every item in the grocery store had a price stamped on it? 

My Answers? 
1: Have you ever used a rotary dial phone? Grew up with them, I was 8 when we first had a phone installed in the house. 
2: What year did you buy your first cell phone? 1996 - I still have the same number. 
3: Have you ever driven a car built before seatbelts were standard equipment? When I got my license at 16, my father tossed me the keys to a 1965 Ford F-100 pickup truck and said, "I trust you, please be careful!" 
4: Did you wear "bellbottom pants?" Yes, I remember the low-rise jeans of the mid 1970's - the good old days.   
5: Do you remember when every item in the grocery store had a price stamped on it? Yes, and the first experimental scanners in the late 60's early 70's.  

Your answers in the comments, 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

The Early Bird

I am a morning person.  Please don't hold it against me.  Non-morning people don't always understand morning people.  I understand, the way a normal person feels at 6:00 AM, grumpy and wanting to be left alone to hibernate, I feel like that at about 8:30 most evenings.  

I am awake and starting my day by 6:00 - 6:15 most mornings.  And I have not regularly used an alarm clock or clock radio in nearly 10 years.  I discovered, by accident, that even without setting an alarm, I am up on time about 99 days out of 100.  And it is so much nicer to not be jolted out of dreamland.  

There are advantages to being early the trains are a lot less full at 7:30 than they are at 8:30.  And baggage claim at the airport, was empty, mine all mine at 4:20 AM - thank you American Airlines for helping me learn that lesson - or maybe not. 

Do you set an alarm? 

Friday, August 24, 2018

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Warm Nuts!

I was upgraded to first class on two legs of my latest trip.  As a middle aged man, I do like the larger seat, space to stretch out a little.  When I first started getting occasional upgrades last year I felt a little out of place.  I have gotten over that.  I am on my best behavior (mom might be watching) but I feel that I have earned my place there.  And I have have, I have taken about 25 trips on American Airlines in the past 20 months.  I have already earned "Gold" status on American Airlines for 2019.  I won't make it to Platinum unless something unexpected comes up and I have 5 or 6 more trips this year that I don't have scheduled.  

In first class, the airlines still serve food.  Real food, and drinks.  I am not a big drinker, and I was renting a car in Texas so I skipped the booze on the outbound flight.  But I did have a Coke Zero and warm nuts.  There is something about the warmed nuts that is special.  I should have warm nuts more often.  

Have you had warm nuts recently? 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Way We Were Wednesday

This is one of the earliest photos of me.  It was taken on my sister's birthday in March of the year following my birth.  It is hard to believe I was ever less than 7 pounds, and 4:30 AM - what was I thinking?  How many years ago?  Many-many-many! 

Has my hairline changed all that much? 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Only in Texas

Is it right turn only, or straight through Only?  

Interesting trip to Texas.  The trip there was easy.  DC to Chicago, and Chicago to Houston (in first class.) Houston has insane traffic.  I was headed 70 miles south to Galveston.  Galveston is on the Gulf of Mexico.  My official duties were brief remarks (5-minutes) at a board meeting at 11:00 AM, and a short before dinner speech at 6:00 PM.  Making it a two night trip, with travel time.  The group was warm and welcoming.  I kept it short.  

The hotel was about a mile from the Gulf on the other side of the island, I had a view of Galveston Bay.  I drove down along the water the first night for dinner, I had delightful fried shrimp in the lightest of batters.  

My trip home, I wrote about earlier - long delayed.  

Monday, August 20, 2018


I fly a fair bit and often get asked about airlines.  My top tips:
1: Fly the airline with the most flights from your preferred home airport. 
2: Join everyone's frequent flyer program.
3: Book early, at least 60 days before your travel dates. If you wait until the last couple of weeks, you will pay more and have fewer options.  
4: Decide what seats you like, and always try to select your seats. 
5: Get an airline credit card that gives you free checked bags.  If you fly a couple of times a year, the checked bag fees will offset the annual fee.  And most cards get you into an earlier boarding zone. 
6: Check a bag!  Don't try to carry it all on. Trying to find overhead space is a struggle, and if you are limited to one 20-inch bag, you are going to look like a homeless person before you get home.  Check a bag! 
7: Pee before you board.  
8: Don't be afraid of connections, changing planes, but allow an hour at most airports.  The barely legal 30 minute connection, will result in rushing and worrying about missing your flight. 
9: When something goes wrong, don't blame it on or take it out on the airline staff.  Being rude, won't get you anything that being nice won't get you.  I stood in line one morning, listening to person after person rage at the counter agent about missed connections.  When it was my turn I simply said, "I know if you could waive a magic wand you would, what can we do to get me home today?"  I got the next flight and a seat in first class.  

Sunday, August 19, 2018

World War II connections - Sunday Five

US Pacific Coast, North of San Francisco 
Normandy, France 

Normandy, France 

I was surprised when we were in San Francisco to see the remains of gun emplacements under the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge (sorry, I didn't get a good picture) and on the cliffs north of SF, I had seen the remains of the emplacements in Normandy (a couple of times.) WWII impacted many people, in similar and different ways. Hence this weeks Sunday 5. 

1: Did any members of your family serve in the military in WW II? 
2: Have you visited a WWII battle field? 
3: Did your families tell stories of life during the war?
4: Did you have any family members who immigrated because of the war? 
5: Do we remember the message from that war? 

My answers:
1: Did any members of your family serve in the military in WW II? My father was drafted into the army near the end of the war.
2: Have you visited a WWII battle field? I have been to Normandy twice, every member of government should visit there, walk the beach, visit the cemeteries.  
3: Did your families tell stories of life during the war? My grandfather talked about Ford stopping car production and shifting to military trucks, in less than a week, my grandmother worked in an office and served on the ration board.
4: Did you have any family members who immigrated because of the way? My grandmother had two nieces that came from England, and lived here the rest of their lives. 
5: Do we remember the message from that war? Some do, many don't.  If we don't learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it. 

Your answers in the comments.  

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Coastal Fog

Back in late June when we were in San Francisco, J's cousin Joan who lives in the north bay picked us up on a Saturday morning for a slow drive north along the Pacific Coast, north of San Francisco.  It is an area I had seen little of, I had been to Muir Woods once, but not driven out to the coast.  What a great opportunity to explore the coast. 

We stopped several times, at this overlook the fog started to roll in, and in less than ten minutes the fog enveloped the area.  A mile up the road, we were back in sunshine.  What an amazing coastline, what a perfect climate.  

Do you like the fog? 

Friday, August 17, 2018

North Carolina Museum of Art

We added a couple of extra days to the trip to Duke making a long weekend getaway out of it.  So what to do, what to see?  Jay recalled going to the North Carolina Museum of Art sometime back in the late 80's early 90's and said it was nice, and all inside on a very hot day.  So, Ms Garmin led the way. 

A lot has changed in the past 30 years.  The museum Jay visited is still there, and sitting next to it, is a stunning new modern building.  Oh My! The building alone is worth the trip.  It is light, modern, airly, very comfortable to move about in. The collection is a little bit of everything from ancient Egypt to modern pop culture.  It is a survey course in world art, a little of everything, but not a lot of anything.  The space is modern and amazing.  

What a nice surprise in Raleigh NC.  

What nice surprise have you stumbled across? 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Duke Gardens

We braved the heat and took a nice walk in the botanical garden at Duke.  Very nice.  There are three areas, and asian garden, a more formal garden and native trees and plants.  The dancers were exploring the garden, I narrowly missed them all rolling down a gentle grassy slope. 

I miss living near Leu Gardens.  When I lived in Orlando I walked the gardens a couple of times a month.

Any nice gardens near you? 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Way We Were Wednesday

I have written about the family funny farm, honey farm.  It was a large scale farm.  We shipped honey out in 55-gallon barrels, by the tractor-trailer load.  This picture was take some time in the mid-60's, the largest crop we ever had.  The oversized two car garage was full and we stored full barrels outside, the packing company couldn't haul them away fast enough. As I recall my parents netted something like $21,000 that year, about twice what they had paid for a house a five years earlier.  The following year, we had a crop failure, barely filling half of the garage with barrels.  That is farming.  

Did you spend time on a farm as a child? 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


Sometime in the past 2 or 3 years I did a post about or two about my love of the much maligned fruitcake.  I grew up eating them, the wonderful concoctions of dried and candied fruits and nuts, with just enough spice cake to hold it all together.  Not the light cakey cake most people think of, when they think of cake, but something special.  Rating a fruitcake with the standard of a birthday cake, is like rating a hamburger by the standards for a steak. 

Dave over at Blogography read my postings on fruit cakes and sent me the lovely "Fruit Bread" pictured above from Liberty Orchards in his home town in Washington State.  It is wonderful, light, a nice spice, fresher fruits, good nuts.  Check out his blog, sci-fi, technology, adventure travel and Cat-erday (his cats are cool.) 

Should I bake fruitcakes this fall?   

Monday, August 13, 2018

Mitchell in Person

Mitchell from over at Mitchell is Moving, was in Washington DC for a few days visiting family and seeing the sights.  We met for coffee and cake one afternoon.  

He is every bit as genuine, friendly, and fun in person, as he is on his blog.  I asked how they ended up in Spain, and the answer was surprisingly simple, they wanted to live someplace different, made a choice and moved.  They left behind the rat race.  

It was great fun spending an hour talking, getting to know the person I felt I already knew from reading his blog.  

Let me know if you are going to be in the DC area.  I have met half a dozen bloggers, all well over four feet, and all really nice people. 

Have you ever dreamed of moving to another country? 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Sunday Five

1: Have you ever worn glasses or contacts? 
2: What is your favorite televised sporting event? 
3: How many bicycles do you own?
4: How many phone numbers do you have? 
5: Have you ever worn cowboy boots?

My Answers 
1: Have you ever worn glasses or contacts? Yes, see above
2: What is your favorite televised sporting event? Tour de France
3: How many bicycles do you own? 4
4: How many phone numbers do you have? 3 
5: Have you ever worn cowboy boots? no

Your answers in the comments 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saturday Morning Post

Chicago - Very late Thursday night or very early Friday morning

I'm late, I'm late!  My Saturday morning post is late. I usually prepare and schedule posts ahead of time, sometimes a couple of weeks ahead of time.  Somehow this morning slipped by without a scheduled post.  Sorry!  

It is not the only thing that was late this week, my flight home on Thursday was a cascade of late.  I was in Galveston Texas for a couple of nights,  I had 17 minutes on the agenda on Wednesday.  I arrived at the airport in Houston at about noon for my flight home, and my 4:15 PM flight was already showing delayed, making my connection time in Chicago a bit tight.  There was a 1:05 PM flight to Chicago, I asked, and as a "gold" level frequent flyer, they put me on the standby list.  Amazingly I snagged the last seat on the plane, and then it was delayed.  Delayed about an hour.  We arrived in Chicago, pulled up to the gate, the ground crew unloaded the luggage, and fueled the plane, and we waited for the jetbridge.  The ground crew loaded the luggage for the next flight, and we waited and waited for the jetbridge to move.  It didn't move, it was broken.  They towed the plane to another gate, and we got off - over half an hour after arriving at the first gate.  No problem for me, my next flight was nearly three hours away. 

Then my 8:15 PM flight was delayed, until 10:00 PM, then 10:30PM, then 11:30 PM, then 1:00AM.  Then the flight crew was out of "legal hours."  They woke up a couple of pilots who rattled in about 12:30 AM, then they were missing flight attendants.  The passengers started joking that we could fill in, we all know the routine, how to buckle a seat belt, just show me the switch to turn off the lights and how to close the doors and I can do the rest.  Finally about 1:00 AM a flight landed at the gate next to us, and three supervisors went on the plane and kidnapped the flight attendants (broke the news to them, that they had one more flight to do) brought them over and pushed them down the jetbridge to our plane.  We started boarding at 1:11 AM, left about 1:30.  The pilot said, "good news, at this hour of the night there are no air traffic control delays, and control has given me permission to ignore fuel conservation - our flying time will be a very short 91 minutes (the scheduled flight time is 2 hours and 32 minutes.) 

We arrived just after 4:00 AM (there is a one hour change of time zone,) I learned something new, that is the time the airport opens.  We were either very very late, or very very early.  

Still, it is not the longest delay I have ever had.  

Was I late, or early?  

Friday, August 10, 2018

Be Brave

Be brave, get out and go.  Find your way, take chances, don't fear falling, if you fall, pick yourself up and keep going.  Make the world a better place, one place at a time.  Don't fear imperfection, the pearl forms around the irritation.  The pearl survives long after the oyster that formed it has been consumed. 

Keep growing, keep learning.  Stay curious, expand your horizons.  Try something new for lunch, take a different route, read a different book, listen to different music.   

Find comfort in routine, while looking for novelty in the familiar.  

Life is too short for the routine things to be boring.  

Remember, you will regret most what you had the opportunity to do, and didn't do. Be brave, be bold, embrace the adventure.  

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Feel Your Body Move

The American Dance Festival was holding classes and workshops at Duke when we were there in July.  Young, thin, talented - things I am not, or never have been.  I love dance, but I have all of the grace of a camel trying to stand on a waterbed. Not a pretty sight, but a joy.  I like to watch, but I love to move.  

Are we our bodies, or are merely temporary occupants in a body?  Deep questions - no clear answer.  But while we are here, we might as well dance.  Find your rhythm,  move in ways that feel good to you. Dance to your drummer. Don't worry about what it looks like, only how it feels to move in the world.  

When was the last time you danced?      

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

The Way We Were Wednesday - Way Back Edition

A high school classmate just posted a picture of her granddaughter watching "kids shows" on an I-Pad in the back seat of a car.  My first thought was, I sure am glad I grew up before that.  I grew up watching the countryside stream by, undoubtedly bored out of my mind at times, but I saw what was happening around me.  I learned to enjoy the journey.  

I like my phone, I spent more time checking email than I should.  I like my I-pad, and my Kindle, I hope I am not missing the world around me staring at my little world.  I grew up unplugged,  I like being connected, but all good things in moderation.  

Should children and babies be entertained with phones and tablet computers?   

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

The Duke Boys

The first time I saw tombs like these was on the north side of Paris in a church filled with dead French Royalty. Here are the three Duke brothers, obviously inspired by the Grand Tour of Europe.  Funny, Daisy Duke was no place to be found (American cultural reference, if you grew up in the 70's you might get it.)   

I wonder if they posed for the sculptures? 

Monday, August 06, 2018

Duke University

Duke University is one of a handful of American universities that were privately founded by families with lots of money, who wanted to make a difference and leave a lasting legacy.  Legacy is how you are remembered, in Duke's case the family is remembered as being committed to world class higher education - not the source of the money - tobacco.

The centerpiece of the campus, and symbol along with the Blue Devil is the chapel.  Though it looks much older, construction started in 1930 and it was completed in 1932.  It is a lot of stone to cut and set in two years.  

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Fountain of Knowledge

There is so much to see, and do and learn about in our world.  Never stop drinking from the fountain of knowledge.  Hence, today's Sunday Five. 

1: If you could go back to school, money and time being no object, what would you pursue? 
2: What is your all time favorite class? 
3: Learning is a lifetime activity, how many books have you read in 2018? 
4: What year did you last graduate? 
5: Where was the above photo taken?

My Answers: 
1: If you could go back to school, money and time being no object, what would you pursue? Medical school, there is so much to learn. 
2: What is your all time favorite class? Legal and Ethical Issues of Death and Dying with Marvin Newman at Rollins College. 
3: Learning is a lifetime activity, how many books have you read in 2018? 52 so far this year.
4: What year did you last graduate?  1999
5: Where was the above photo taken? If I told you that, everyone would know the answer, 

Your answers in the comments,