Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Hold My Tongue

I learned how to be sarcastic from my father. He was a master of the art form of disguising an insult as a complement.  My mother was not as good at restraining her thoughts, if she thought it, you might just have heard it.  My sensible grandmother, who was also a master of sarcasm, tried to teach me to hold my tongue.  It isn't easy some days.  

There are a couple of high school classmates that I have connected with on Facebook, guys I haven't seen or talked to in over 40 years, that test my restraint.  

One of them is an anti-vaxer, who just this morning posted this bit of nonsense as news:

CDC admits measles outbreak is caused by people from other countries who enter the United States and spread the disease

It is all I can do to keep from saying, "Are you really that STUPID, measles is spread to people who are not vaccinated." The fact that diseases have not been eradicated from the face of the earth, is the reason we need so vaccinate so people don't die. 

Another one, is a huge Trump fan, and goes on benders of posting conspiracy theories about the overthrow. This morning it was:
They said the Deep State would take down President Trump. Remember the serial Government check casher Chuckie Schumer when he said that it’s not too smart to mess with the Deep State? That giant sucking sound you hear is President Trump is draining the swamp.

It was all I could do to keep posting, "ARE YOU THAT DRUNK?"  I know he is smarter than that, but his only news source is Fox, and he believes all of the shit they say.  As someone who lives on a hill overlooking the swamp, let me assure you, the slimy creatures that slid into town with this administration have deepened the swamp, and sent most of the committed public servants into bunker mode, keeping their heads down and hoping to ride this one out.  Only those who "drank the cool aid" want to be associated with this administration, there are some stinks that never wash off. 

Should I say what I think?  

Monday, April 29, 2019

Strange, Frustrating, and Unusual

While I was out of the office, a minor crisis came up.  When I returned to the office and looked at it, I drafted an email with what I think is a simple and elegant solution.  Someone responded to the email saying he would get to this soon, I emailed asking if he was in the office could he call me.  He called, I asked if my suggestion would work and he said, "oh I haven't read your email."  WHY RESPOND TO AN EMAIL, YOU HAVEN'T READ?  

Before I left for New Orleans I booked a round trip airport ride with Super Shuttle, the big blue van people.  It is easy, my office likes it when I book and prepay online so there is a nice clear receipt.  I arrived, and there is no blue van.  The nice lady at the ground transportation desk called them, and there was additional confusion.  About that time, a limo driver, you know the nice older man in a black suit, starched shirt and tie walks up with a sign with my name on it.  He is my ride.  Super Shuttle contracts with a limo company in New Orleans to provide van service.  I was the only person arriving at that time, the driver with a new Lincoln Continental was at the airport and his next pick up was near the hotel I was staying at downtown, so they had him drive me into town.  For the $25 shared van price, I got the $125 private luxury car ride.  

When it was time for my return to the airport, not so good.  I got a text message with a link to a GPS tracker for the van that was to pick me up.  He was on the way to the airport.  Another van from the same service came to the hotel, but I was not on the drivers list, she called and was told "his ride will be there in just a minute."  15 minutes later I called dispatch, and was told, "he is still at the airport, he will be there later."  The dispatcher asked what time my flight is, and I tell her "that is immaterial, I scheduled a pick up for between 2:30 and 2:45 and you are now telling me the pick up won't be before 3:15, 45 minutes late."  After a long pause, she said I guess I can refund the pre-pay and you can take a taxi.  I did, the taxi driver was terrifying, he drove 80 miles per hour.  The car vibrated like either a tire was getting ready to blow or a wheel was getting ready to fall off.  I buckled my seatbelt.  

Is it just me, or is the world a little weird right now? 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sunday Five - Retirement Plans?

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, the time when I won't need to work, unless I want to.  I am not quite there yet, but I am getting closer.  So what are my plans? What are your plans? This weeks Sunday Five. 

1: Do you want to just walk away from work, or taper down working part time for a while? 
2: If given the opportunity without cost, to return to school at retirement, what would you study? 
3: Will you move at retirement time? 
4: What would your ideal part time job be in retirement? 
5: What hobby do you want to spend more time on when you retire? 

My answers: 
1: Do you want to just walk away from work, or taper down working part time for a while? Taper down. 
2: If given the opportunity without cost, to return to school at retirement, what would you study? Medical school or art. 
3: Will you move at retirement time? Probably not. 
4: What would your ideal part time job be in retirement? Tour guide. 
5: What hobby do you want to spend more time on when you retire? Photography. 

Your answers in the comments, please. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Everything that goes in your mouth

A lawyer that I know, recently retired from 30 years work in Utah and moved to New Orleans.  Her husband is from there - it was going home for him - a totally new adventure for his New York native wife.  I had coffee with her last week.  

She said it has been an adjustment.  Everything is about your mouth, the food, the drink, the music, if it goes in or out of your mouth New Orleans has it.  She said, "beyond that, nothing works, no one does what you expect, or they should do, time is a vague concept." But the food, the drink, the music and the fun make it all worthwhile.  

There is lots of good food, and great food in New Orleans.  This trip I returned to an old favorite and tried something old that was new to me. I had not been to Arnauds', just off Bourbon Street in the French Quarter.  The food was classic Louisiana creole, service was impeccable.  The drink was sweet and strong, and there was a jazz trio playing softly in the corner of the room.  It has been there 101 years for a reason.  

Friday, April 26, 2019

New Orleans Rebirth

I couldn't find the video on You Tube of these windows in the Hyatt Regency New Orleans during hurricane Katrina.  Looking at the windows I vividly remember the wall of glass flexing in and out in the wind, until it gave way and blew apart.  The wind coming through the atrium, blew the windows out of rooms that had doors open.  The hotel was abandoned for three years, then spent 5 years and $275,000,000 being rebuilt.  It is spectacular, a gem of modern architecture updated.  The structure on the windows was reengineered, they won't blow out again.  

There are a few scars left in New Orleans, a handful of buildings still being worked on.  Some buildings have mostly parking on the ground floor, with the offices and apartments above, just in case the water rises.  Flying in and out, you can see neighborhoods that have a lot of vacant lots, the homes that remain are loved and lived in again.  

All in all, the city is looking very good.  

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Return of the Stationwagon?

I am the youngest of four kids, my parents often debated buying a station wagon (estate car for those in my ancestral homelands.) For one reason or another they didn't buy one.  With the rise of SUVs station wagons disappeared from US manufacturers line-ups.  

This a 2019 Buick.  Actually it is an Opel, GM owns Opel, and they are manufacturing some of their domestic offerings in Europe.  Will it sell?  It should.  

I have owned several hatchbacks, including one now.  I had one proper wagon, a Mazda GLC.  A wagon is longer and roomier than the five door hatch.  It is the only car I regret having parted with.  My parents did own one station wagon, a VW diesel, that they bought after all of the kids left home as a tow-car when they had a motorhome.  

Will it sell?     

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday

This was taken in the mid 1970's the big 19 inch color TV, no remote control, this was the first place we lived with cable TV (a condominium in Florida.) It weighed about 40 pounds.  How far we have come in 40 years.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Waiting for, the US Trade Representative

At one time, long long ago, I thought I wanted to be a news photographer.  But I tend to run away from danger and disaster instead of into it, and I get bored waiting.  I was recently walking near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and saw this group gathered waiting.  I asked how long, they said, "he was scheduled to leave 2 1/2 hours ago." 

Would you wait? 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter Bunny - the day after

The quarterback might be going to Disney World after the big win, but the Easter Bunny is headed to New Orleans to let off some steam at the end of the season. I wonder if they have that in my size? 

If they had it in your size would you wear it? 

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sunday Five - Buildings

This wonderful old building is next to the White House.  It was originally called the Executive Office Building.  When Eisenhower was Vice President he expressed his dislike for the old building and announced plans that when we was President he would have it torn down and replaced by an efficient modern building. Congress, being congress, renamed the building the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, and spent a considerable sum on modernizing it.  Eisenhower didn't feel he could tear down the building named in his honor, saving it from the wrecking ball.  I have never been invited in, maybe someday.  

Sunday Five - your ideas on how to get things done. 
1: What building in the place you currently live, should never be torn down? 
2: What should be built in your town? 
3: Is the High School you attended still standing? 
4: Would you be upset if the house you lived in as a child were torn down? 
5: If invited to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House, would you? 

My answers:
1: What building in the place you currently live, should never be torn down? The FBI building on Pennsylvania Avenue.  It a masterpiece and disaster of modern brutalist architecture.  It is functional incompatible with modern office.  There have been discussions of trading it to a developer in exchange for a nice modern building.  It should be renovated and repaired (it tends to drop shards of concrete like leaves from a maple tree in fall) and preserved.  It can be reused. 
2: What should be built in your town? A large mental health hospital, I am in Washington DC, it needs to be very large. 
3: Is the High School you attended still standing? The one in Michigan, Yes, I believe it is currently a middle school. The one in Florida was torn down and replaced - much needed - much delayed. 
4: Would you be upset if the house you lived in as a child were torn down? Nope, the one in Michigan should have gone years ago. 
5: If invited to spend the night in the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House, would you? Not under the current regime.  

Your answers in the comments.  

Saturday, April 20, 2019

How Will We Be Remembered?

I read an online obituary for one of my high school math teachers, really he was a track and cross country coach that had a degree in math,  my first thought was, “ he couldn’t teach math to save his soul.  Hmm, not the appropriate time to say that is it? 

Friday, April 19, 2019


It has been a couple of grinding weeks, an insane workload, working with others - who don't always plan and organize the way I do - and with others who overthink every detail.  I have done a lot of good work, with a bunch of amazing people, but it has taken a toll.  

A week ago I completed assembling the agenda for a national conference I produce, in a staff meeting our new staff writer asked me what exciting things were on the agenda, and out my mouth tumbled, "after six years of producing this thing, it is all boring" she probed with, "well are there any famous speakers on the agenda?" to which I responded "a few of them are legends in their own mind!" The next day the boss send me links to dealing with burnout in the profession.  

That was a little over a week ago, then I went to New Orleans to do 6 conference workshop presentations and broadcast a live national webinar, in three days.  

Kind of quiet blog posts this week, nice pictures but not a lot of words. 

Today I am back in the office cleaning up from being out for most of the week.  

I think my calendar eases up in November.  

Is it time for my cookie now? 


The fleeting couple of days, when the trees bloom, the early morning hour before the crowds descend, the stillness of the water.  This city continues to be surprise and enchant me. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday - 3-2-1

A satellite launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the mid 1970's, it was fun living there.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Who are we protecting from what?

It happens in life, locked for your protection, no you can't do that, it might be dangerous.  Take time and think about who we are protecting from what?  Often the person saying "NO, you can't do that," is trying to protect themself from inconvenience, embarrassment, or the slight risk that they might have to rescue our silly behinds.  

The adventure of life requires a few risks, take them and enjoy the ride. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

A Moment of Silence and Sadness

I am sitting in a hotel in New Orleans, watching news coverage of the tragic fire at  Notre Dame in Paris.  I have traveled a lot, there are only a handful of places that stopped me in my in my tracks and took my breath away.  Notre Dame is one of them.  This is a tragedy, an incalculable loss for the world.

Happy Tax Day

April 15th, settlement day for individual US income taxes - the day the paperwork is due, the day the balance due is owed - if you have a balance due. 

Not that I don't sometimes think that we could spend more on some things, and less on others, but I pay my share without complaint.  

Taxes are the price we pay to live in a civil society.  I travel enough to see the differences between places that collect taxes, and those that don't.  I prefer the places that do, to those that don't.  I like to feel safe, and secure, to have roads and airports, safe food and medicine, a stable banking system, and a safetynet that does something (even if not enough) to help those who are unable to help themselves.  As bad as it is, we have fewer people dying on the streets than we would without the efforts of government funded programs.  

Smile, make sure your return is filed on time.  I hope you paid a nice large tax bill this year, if you did it means you earned a decent living this year.  

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Tests of Strength, the Sunday Five

At the DC Auto Show Jeep was driving up and down a flight of stairs, Land Rover was driving over hills that had wheels off the ground on every bump. I found the latter more impressive. Hence this weeks Sunday Five, tests of strength. 

1: Which takes more strength, saying what you really think, or being tactful and instructive? 
2: Do you spend first and think about it later, or think before you spend? 
3: Given a choice between the Jeep and the Land Rover which would you choose? 
4: Which is harder, being a sick or going to see a doctor? 
5: Which weighs more a good idea that no one likes, or a bad idea that everyone like? 

My answers: 
1: Which takes more strength, saying what you really think, or being tactful and instructive? Being tactful.  
2: Do you spend first and think about it later, or think before you spend? Think first. 
3: Given a choice between the Jeep and the Land Rover which would you choose? Land Rover. 
4: Which is harder, being a sick or going to see a doctor? Going to see the doctor. 
5: Which weighs more a good idea that no one likes, or a bad idea that everyone like? A good idea. 

Your ideas in the comments: 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Logic or Just Wrong

The logic of the worlds greatest premium luxury car maker is, that a person who owns a Rolls Royce is likely going to own an SUV, why shouldn't the SUV be a Rolls Royce? 

Logical or is it? 

Is building a truck - that is what an SUV really is, a modified truck, really the image that a premium luxury car maker wants to cultivate?  When people think of Rolls Royce do you want them to think of a huge boxy truckster?  I think it is just wrong.  

It is chasing the add on sale, on the highest margin of vehicles, at the expense image. Image and reputation is what has kept Rolls at the top of the list for luxury cars, this is not what you want people to think of when they hear Rolls. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Am I The Only One

Lexus has a new model out, they are very proud of it.  It is the all new UX.  This is the logo for it, inlaid in the floor at their display at the DC Auto Show.  

Am I the only one that reads this as Lexus-sucks? 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Cherry Blossom Season

I woke up early last Thursday morning, thinking about work, needing time to think, to be creative, to let my mind wander.  I headed in a little early, got off the Metro at the first stop in the city and took a long walk.  Down around the tidal basin, in the peak of Cherry Blossom Season.  It wasn't crowded yet, the weather was mild, I had a nice walk.  It is a wonderful time of the year, and a nice time of the day.  On the walk, my mind wandered, far from work and the office, focused on the place, the bloom, the people.  I walked for over an hour and half. When I arrived at the office I was ready to compose an important email.  

Sometimes I need to get away from the office, and stop thinking about work, to give my mind a chance to work, then the work will flow.  

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesdays - Who Are These People

On the left, closest to the truck, is my middle brother.  He lives in Orlando and works for Disney. Next around, the white jacket with the striking grey hair, is Cousin Bill's second wife, I think her name was Marie, but I am not sure.  They were married for a few years, it was a colorful divorce. Next is my maternal grandmother, Mina.  Yes, her name was Mina, a little bird.  In the pink pants, is my father.  With his foot up on the bumper of the pick-up truck is my maternal grandfather, Dale.  This had to have been taken in 1973-1975.  I am pretty sure it was taken in Florida.  The pickup truck belonged to my grandparents.  A family gathering, lots of crossed arms, lots of stress.  

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Athens, London and Nashville

Athens, London and Nashville, three cities with the temple of Athena in Common.  The original temple is in Athens, you need to see the massive stones in person to really understand the scale, the marbles from the freeze are in the British Museum in London, I went there specifically to see them.  The thing that is missing, is the statue of Athena, the goddess.  The only full scale replica I know of is in Nashville.  The reproduction temple in Nashville is to scale, made out of concrete.  A material the Romans worked with, but it really does not have the same look and feel as stone.  The statue of Athena, makes the trip worthwhile.  

Have you traveled to three places to see all of the parts of one thing? 

Monday, April 08, 2019

I Can Be Like That Sometimes

A high school classmate shared something on Facebook recently, that I found offensive, and I reported it - resulting in the content being removed from Facebook as hate speech.  I can be like that sometimes.  I have been disrespected in my life, I take it personally at times.  

The offensive posting made demeaning comments about a hijab.  I won't repeat what it said, it questioned the content of the brains of a person who would wear the garment.   The person who shared this is a loudly self confessed born again christian, I doubt very much that he would think or say the same thing if he encountered a Nun wearing a traditional wimple (there were three Nuns on the Metro the other morning in full traditional habit.) I don't think he would say or think the same thing if he encountered an Amish or Mennonite woman with her hair covered.  It was hate speech from a narrow mind.  

Covering hair is a sign of modesty and religious obedience for women in several religious traditions. Respect for any religion, should include respect for other religious beliefs. Covering the hair harms no one.  If it makes the person feel good, what business is it of mine? Expressing disrespect for one religion, is disrespecting all. It is hate speech, based on difference.  

Are you like me sometimes?  

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Sunday Five High School

High School, the end of basic education in the United States.  None of my grandparents finished high school (one grandmother was close, but never went back to finish) my mother graduated from high school, my father didn't.  He insisted that all of his children would, and we did. The system varies in other parts of the world but what I am referring to is the basic education system that starts as a child and ends in our teens.  

Five questions about High School:
1: What year did you finish or leave? 
2: Do you have a class ring or pin? 
3: What were you driving when you finished school? 
4: Did you know the person closest to you today when you finished school? 
5: School colors? 

My answers: 
1: What year did you finish or leave? 1977 
2: Do you have a class ring or pin? yes, both.
3: What were you driving when you finished school? A Chrysler Newport, or a Dodge pickup truck.
4: Did you know the person closest to you today when you finished school? No, only in my dreams 
5: School colors? Dark Blue and White 

Your answers in the comments: 

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Beach Weather

No trip to Florida is complete without a stop at a beach, in this case the beach at Patrick Air Force base, just south of Cocoa Beach. It was about 70 degrees (F) and overcast.  No swimmers and only a couple of people surfing.  There were a few people stretched out on the sand, enjoying the clouds.  I took a short walk, then on my way, I was meeting a cousin for lunch.  

So what is good beach weather?  If I am going in the water, I want it the water warm, 80 degrees is a nice Florida surf temperature.  I'd actually prefer the air to not be any warmer than that.  If I am not going in the water, 70's with little breeze is wonderful.  I can walk and not get overheated.  

What is your idea of beach weather? 

Friday, April 05, 2019

Up-Up and Away!

What I can read from the instruments, we are climbing at about 600 feet per minutes, our altitude is about 450 feet above ground level and we are moving at just under 90 either miles per hour, or nautical miles per hour. 
I had booked a hot air balloon flight while I was in Florida. It was cancelled due to weather, twice I had a back-up date.  I will try again, a hot air balloon is about the only thing that I haven't flown on (well no fighter jets.) A balloon is on the bucket list.  

I did get a chance to see the area from the air.  The magic of helicopter flight.  It is a bit pricey, but oh so fun.   Come away with me, and go up-up and away! 

Have you, would you? 

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Song and Dance

Over the years I have met, Donald, Goofy, and a Prince or two.  A couple of high school classmates worked as dancers at Disney, there were a couple more in the Orlando Frontrunners Group.  I never kept track of any of them, I wonder what they are doing 40 years later?  I doubt that they are still dancing, but they might be. 

A few times I got a peak backstage at Disney.  I accompanied a choir as a photographer once. The rehearsal area was behind Pirates of the Caribbean,  John Williams was conducting.  I have been through the infamous tunnel that runs under Main Street from behind the castle to the train station.  It is lined with offices, storage and utilities.  Really nothing special, it was an efficient way to get from backstage to the bank that at one time was near the train station.  

Have you met Mickey Mouse? 

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday - Middle school music

I played in the band for a couple of years in middle school. Between my anatomy, and my parents reluctance to invest in more instruments, I was assigned the Tuba to play.  Not the most musical instrument in the band.  I struggled with learning to read music, my brain does not process visual space the way most people do, and the music teachers didn't know what to do - besides let me struggle with marking up the music.  I have been told since that there are effective alternatives, there are many talented musicians who can't read music.  

I struggled for a couple of years, and called it quits one day.  The circumstances of that decision involved complex family dynamics and bad choices.  I have long regretted how it happened.  Someplace in among the coins and medals of my childhood, is my one lone music medal.  

Did you play in the band? 

Tuesday, April 02, 2019


I have been reading a lot recently about trauma, and forgiveness.  Trauma is a bad thing that overwhelms our ability to cope, and it tends to lock people into behaviours that interfere with life and enjoyment.  I know the stoics and Nietzsche thought that life was all about suffering, but I find Joy much more fun.  Identifying trauma, talking about it, owning it, and moving past it unlocks us from it's grip.  Forgiving frees us from the burden of hurt.  

We all have things, large or small that hold parts of us hostage.  If we work to identify them, own them, forgive them, and move on, we unlock ourselves from our pasts.  

Have you made a list of what is holding you hostage?  

Monday, April 01, 2019

Running Away

I bet most of us have dreamed about it, winning the lottery and leaving it all behind.  Will I stay in hotels the rest of my life?  imagine the joy of waking up to this view every morning.  

I need to be careful, people will want to take advantage of me.  If I make everyone else's dreams come true, I won't be able to make mine come through.  They tell us most lottery winners end up broke, and I have never been like most, and now is not a good time to start.  

I don't want a big house.  Cleaning house and dealing with repairs is not my thing, and I don't want employees.  If I had wanted to be an employer I'd have owned a business and been in this position earlier in life.  I have joked that the first move would be a red Ferrari California, but I am just as happy driving my less pretentious VW convertible.  I think I will just travel.  

I need a home base, and the condo will serve just fine. It is big enough, and easy to take care of.  With all of the repairs and security covered in my monthly fee, it is a perfect place to hide out, a permanent mailing address.  

I know I am one lucky person.  I have done work I enjoyed.  As long as we are reasonable, we are financially stable.  We have no debt.  Barring a disaster, we have income for life (and probably beyond.) We are in reasonable health.  We are semi free to do whatever we want to do.  Did I win the lottery? Yes, the lottery of life, being born in the right place at the right time, working hard, making the most of what we have to work with, we are very very lucky on this April 1st.    

Are you a lottery winner on April Fools Day?