Saturday, August 31, 2019


I was in a card shop on King Street in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia recently and they had a photographer as an artist in residence.  One of the images she had was of a collection of old cameras.  I recognized a few of them, I have used a couple of cameras like them over the years.  I grew up with film.  Simple cameras at first, some antiques and later top of the line professional film cameras.  My father had a simple dark-room set up in the corner of the garage (the garage was heated, had running water, and hardwood floors - that is a long story.) I added equipment to the darkroom and even did some color processing and printing (a real pain in a home set up.) 

About 20 years ago, I bought my first good digital camera.  The image above was one of the first that I captured with that first camera, I printed it on an ink-jet printer and I was sold.  I had figured that the digital would be a novelty, that I would continue to shoot film while digitals got better, I had a 2-3 year old Nikon 35mm SLR at the time (I still have it.) I never went back to shooting film. The quality on the digital, the ease, the very low cost of shooting left little reason to go back.  

I have a few thousand negatives, mostly black and white, I started tossing color negatives a few years ago (regretfully.) I have a digital film scanner that will convert those to digital.  I still own a few working film cameras.  But, I can't remember the last time I used one.  

When was the last time you shot film? 

Friday, August 30, 2019


I took a year of French in high school, the teacher was impossible, the teaching methods very focused on grammar. I hated the class, but loved the language.  I like the sounds, the flow, the logic of the language.  Several times in my adult life I have refreshed my knowledge of basic French, still never getting past the proficiency of a three year old.  Yet, I could order in a restaurant, give someone my name, or explain that I don't really speak French, sorry! A couple of my greatest triumphs were buying subway tickets in Paris and explaining to a hotel manager that I had been delayed, and would be there very late - mostly in French.  I also have had a lot of failures to communicate, but at least I tried.  

Over the years I have become very critical of the way we teach languages.  The focus on grammar and proper word usage, works for some people, for the way their brains acquire language, but not for all.  My brain acquires language by vocabulary and usage, hearing and using the language in an interactive way.  My brain learns the rules of usage by hearing others use the language correctly - not by learning rules and applying them as my brain is processing the words.  For the most part, this is how I learned my first language, there are only a handful of "rules" that I have to work through for English to flow for me.  Teaching a second language as a set of rules, does not work for me.  

I enjoy hearing French, I enjoy reading French words mixed into a text in English.  

Do you have a second language? 

Thursday, August 29, 2019


Steve had a headstone in his backyard.  When I asked about it, he said, "no one is buried here, it is there to remind me that life is short."  He went on to explain that he decided he wanted a reminder of our imminent mortality and went in search of a gravestone.  The stonecutters offered to make his stone, for a hefty price, but that was not what he wanted, he just wanted a reminder.  He said, "the next time you make a mistake you can't fix, call me and I will buy the stone you are going to throw away."  A month or so later the phone rang and the next afternoon Steve lugged home a marker with a misspelled name. 

He said every time I pass it I am reminded that someday this life will end.  When I am fussed (and Steve really knew how to throw a queen of the universe hissy fit) he would look out the back window and be reminded, this too shall pass.  Life is too short to waste time and energy being upset.   

About 15 years ago, Steve started having difficulty swallowing, the diagnosis was advanced cancer in his tongue and throat.  He died quickly, and reportedly with no regrets, saying he had enjoyed the ride, and had a ton of fun along the way.   

Steve, thanks for the reminder. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday - A Message I Wish I Had Read 45 years ago as I went back to school

It is back to school season. Middle school and high school were not the best times of my life, in honesty they were some of the most trying.  Being a teenager is not easy, it is even harder if you don't fit in.  This is my back-to-school advice for the gay kids out there returning to high school.   

You are just fine the way you are.  Don't hide it, let your freak flag fly.  If you live your life trying to make others happy, you will make yourself miserable, hurt people, and not please the people you are trying to please. The people who want you to change who you are, will never be happy, no matter what you do. Don't try to change who you are, don't try to be everything for everyone. Be the best you, you can be.  

You are handsome/beautiful just the way you are.  Don't waste your energy trying to gain weight or lose weight to look a certain way. Your goal should be to be healthy, be able to move, to feel the rhythm of life.  Find a healthy balance in food, and exercise.  Your nose is just the right size for your face, your ears are fine. Enjoy your hair the way it is, for many of you hair is a temporary condition. Your skin will settle when you relax and enjoy life.  You don't have to change the way you look, someone out there is humming "you are so beautiful, to me!"  Don't change who you are, find the person who finds you attractive for who you are. 

You will find love.  Often in unexpected places, when you least expect it.  Love is kind of like a lost phone, you find it, when you stop looking for it. Look for love, sex in momentary - love endures.  

It is normal to feel alone, isolated, or rejected.  It isn't easy, but it is part of life. Do things you enjoy, when you enjoy life, others will enjoy time with you. Your worth is not based on the number of people around you.  

Balance safety, with standing up for yourself and saying what you need to say.  Most negative things that people will say, don't deserve a response.  The energy you put into trying to defend yourself against a hater, is energy better spent building an amazing life. The best revenge, is a life well lived. 

It is easier today to find information, to find an ally, to find support or to find a role model.  Read, look online. Not every school is supportive, but more are than were before.  If your community does not have a supportive place, be the change, build the system.  You are not alone, there are others in your community that are experiencing the same thing, find one another and support one another.  Start looking at colleges that have open and supportive communities.  (A college group was a key to my self acceptance.) 

I had real fears about coming out and most of them were groundless.  The few people that rejected me, were people I didn't really need in my life.  I was surprised by the people who accepted me, for being me, and were glad that I was happy and comfortable.  Everyone deserves happiness in life, and happiness starts with you.  Happiness is an inside job.  

High school is not life, do well, learn everything you can. Origin is not destiny.   

What do you wish you had known when you started high school? 


Tuesday, August 27, 2019


Well, I have survived another trip around the sun, another tick on the calendar, another fun and exciting year. I was born in the middle of a thunderstorm, on my paternal grandfather's birthday, a good number of years ago today. 

I have long ago passed the point of there being more yesterdays, than tomorrows, and that is okay.  I have had a lot of grand adventures, a few frights, a scare or two.  I have made a few mistakes, but I have done more good than bad.  I have had more joys than sorrows.  And I have learned from all of this.  It has formed me into the person I am today, wrinkles and all. 

I arrive on this day, happy, relatively healthy, about the same size I was last year, a little bit better off.  In the past year, we have sold the other house, consolidated two homes into one, fallen into a comfortable rhythm. I am starting to enjoy some of the perks of young old age.  

What will I be doing today?  Working, the office needed to schedule an important meeting, and this was the first date in August that all of the critical people could be there.  So I will be there.   

What will the next year bring?  A trip or two that are yet to be planned.  We talked recently and are leaning in the direction of someplace we have not been, rather than revisiting past destinations.  In the office, change is on the wind, and no one is sure what direction the wind is blowing.  I want to work a few more years, though doing so is becoming less and less critical. One way or another that will work itself out.  Refinement at home, one remodeling project is schedule and materials are arriving (there was a toilet in the hallway when I returned home one afternoon.)  Another year, will put me a year closer to the end, I will do my best to fill it with goodness, happiness and adventures.   

Monday, August 26, 2019

PT Cruiser and Parking

About 20 years ago Chrysler came out with the PT Cruiser, it was one of the first "retro design" cars, with styling cues from the late 30's early 40's.  It had an innovative interior with flexible seating and the boxy design created a ton of interior space.  Unfortunately, the driving experience and ergonomics really let the car down.  It was not updated and design moved forward around it, and it has been discontinued.  In the last couple of years it was built, in an effort to sell a few more, they chopped the top off and created one of the ugliest convertibles in the history of world car design (the convertible is on a top 25 list of the biggest automotive mistakes world wide.)  My sister owned to PTs. The second one was a convertible she bought for a song while living in Florida helping out my parents.  

Above is the best use for a PT cruiser.  Crushed by a tank, just to show what a tank can do, driving over a line of parked cars.  There are times when it would be fun to own a tank. 

Ever wished you had a tank?   

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Fishy - the Sunday Five

I like fish, they are pretty and they are tasty. Hence this weeks' fishy Sunday Five.

1: Have you ever caught a fish?
2: Have you ever cleaned a fish? 
3: Have you ever been served a whole fish (head and all?) 
4: When ordering fish in a restaurant, fried, broiled, or baked? 
5: Do you often cook fish at home? 

My Answers:
1: Have you ever caught a fish?  When I was a kid, a long - long time ago. 
2: Have you ever cleaned a fish? The policy was, you catch it, you clean it, someone showed me how to do the first one and I was on my own from there.  
3: Have you ever been served a whole fish (head and all?) Yes, I can filet that out in about two minutes. 
4: When ordering fish in a restaurant, fried, broiled, or baked?  Yes, any of the above.  Mostly broiled, baked or steamed anymore. 
5: Do you often cook fish at home? I try to do fish once or twice a month.  

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Yes, I am still on FB, still responding to idiots

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  • David Godfrey What we really don't need is the BS that flows out of Trump. Despite our lack of a functional system to pay for health care (ask the nearly 10% of Americans who have no health insurance) we were a great country long before twitter head started insulting our intelligence. If Denmark offered to buy Florida, I am sure Trump would have said, you must be kidding. Cancelling the trip like a petulant child, illustrates how unhinged he is.


I love flowers.  The colors, the shapes, the smells (have you noticed most ornamental flowers have less scent than they did in the past?) 

My mother liked flowers, my father thought they were expensive and died anyway.  I loathed the plastic and later silk flowers that my mother and grandmother had around. When my mother died, there were no flowers.  The first time I went grocery shopping after mom died, I picked up fresh cut flowers.  I have kept fresh flowers in the house pretty much all the time since then. I like them, why shouldn't I?  Yes they fade away and wilt, but so do people. 

Stop and smell the roses today. 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Funny Shirts!

I enjoy funny T-shirts.  A few that I wear:

  • Bears Like People, they taste just like chicken
  • I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong
  • 44>45
  • To Avoid A Bear Attack, always be able to outrun at least one other person in your group. 
  • Stupidity Kills, but not often enough
One I wish I had:
  • Vegetarian: Old Eskimo word for bad hunter 
I didn't buy the one above, or below, but I thought about it.

What does your favorite T-Shirt say? 

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Coastal Defenses

I remember the first time I saw remains of World War II coastal defenses, in Normandy.  A big part of why I had gone there (that and Mt St Michelle.) I was surprised to see them on the Pacific Coast of the United States.  I imagine there were fortifications or gun emplacements along the Atlantic coast of the US, but I have never seen them.  This was along the strait that separates the US and British Columbia,  on a little sand hill across from the beach.  Rusting away into a distant memory.  Further west we saw a massive concrete bunker, made to last, I will post more pictures of that one day.  

Notice the odd little dark spot just above the dune line near the right hand side of the image?  I picked up a bit of fluff on the image sensor censor in my camera.  It took me a while to track it down, and figure out how to lock the mirror up so I could carefully clean the sensor.  A first for everything.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday

This is a modern picture, taken at Payne Field last month, but this is the era of airplane I grew up around.  My father owned a couple of planes in the mid 60's, but for the most part he rented.  There is an old saying, if it floats, flies or fornicates it is better to rent than own.  

When I was growing up the local airport operator, was also dealer for three of four airplane manufacturers.  The rental fleet was often nearly new.  There was a simple formula for figuring out the hourly rent, if the plane sold for $25,000, they would rent it for $25 an hour.  That included fuel, and they are not very fuel efficient.  

I remember one day, a new really nice plane had been added to the fleet.  It was sleek and fast, and dad looked forward to flying it.  For the insurance to cover it, he had to go out with a flight instructor for an hour to confirm that he knew how to fly it.  It had retractable landing gear.  On the insurance companies check list, was demonstrating how to put the landing gear down if the power system failed.  I was in the back seat, watching the clouds float by as my father and the flight instructor tried to do this.  Neither one of them could figure out how to do it, they couldn't find the crank for the manual system.  The flight instructor had me dig out the owners manual, so he could look up how to do it.  I found it funny, maybe why almost nothing in flying bothers me.  

Was it funny that the flight instructor didn't know how to do what he was teaching someone else to do? 

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Other Wordly

I was able to check something off my bucket list on the trip to Washington State, seeing an active volcano.  I don't know why, but volcanos fascinate me.  Above Mt St Helens is venting steam at the lower lip of the crater.  

At the viewing center, there was a man with a spotting scope on a tripod.  He invited passersby to take a look.  Through the scope was a herd of antelope on a ridge, one of the sandy looking ridges near the bottom of this second image.  You can clearly see them in the top image, two groupings on two ridges.  He said they were about 4 miles away.  I had left my longer lens in the car, but even with that they would have been impossible to see.  The top image was taken with my cell phone, shot through the spotting scope.  Another person showed me how to do it.  


Monday, August 19, 2019


I was raised in Michigan, where you couldn't put a shovel in the ground without hitting a rock or ten.  Mostly conglomerates of granite, limestone, slate and quartz left by glaciers after the last ice-age.  From there I moved to Florida, where there are no rocks, a few limestone formations but they are in odd out of the way places, most of the state is a gigantic sandbar waiting to be washed back into the sea.  

Last month we visited the Washington Coast, I am always taken by rocks and ocean.  The rocks washed and ground flat and smooth by econs of ocean action.  Yes, I brought home a small bag of rocks.  

What are the rocks like where you live?      

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday Random Five

No Theme This Week, five random questions I might ask if we sat down to talk:

1: What is the largest number of time zones you have spanned in one trip? 
2: Do you care who the Kardashians are or what they are doing? 
3: What is your earliest travel memory? 
4: What does the image above bring to mind? 
5: Been anyplace interesting this year? 

My Answers: 
1: What is the largest number of time zones you have spanned in one trip? Six, I have done it going east and west, one year east and west in the same year. 
2: Do you care who the Kardashians are or what they are doing? Nope, can't understand why anyone does care to keep up. 
3: What is your earliest travel memory? Peering over the edge of the Grand Canyon when I was 5. 
4: What does the image above bring to mind? Snakes.  
5: Been anyplace interesting this year? Ft. Worth, Washington State a few more. 

Please share your answers in the comments, 

Saturday, August 17, 2019

How I Feel When Reading Facebook

I am about to give up on FB, but the psychological manipulation keeps me coming back.  

Another old friend posted a comment recently, I easily dismantled her ill-logic in a reply, she simply deleted the comment. I hate doing that to an old friend, but there is only so much willful ignorance that I can tolerate.  Her issue is not a lack of ability, but a lack of bothering to look at facts, to think outside of the narrow views that people tell her.  She can do better, she generally chooses not to do better as doing so would undermine a belief system she finds security in.  

Should I fight back against willful ignorance or give up? 

Friday, August 16, 2019

I Sat Next To A Lady on a Plane

I have a million stories that start with, I sat next to a person on a plane once, and almost as many stories that start with, "I had this client once."  

On the way back from Seattle I sat next to a woman who had been in Washington state for an off road marathon. 26.2 miles on national park or forest service trails, through the woods, up and down mountain sides.  I am a former runner, when I stopped running the fat man caught up with me.  

She got to talking about it, and said for the first time in her life she had seen a bear in the wild.  She was running along at about the 20-mile point and someone yelled "BEAR!"  Then they yelled, "BEHIND YOU!" She said she looked over her shoulder and there was a Mama-bear and cub, crossing the trail, she had run past seconds before the bear crossed the trail.  It was thrilling and terrifying at the same time.  Mother bears can be very protective, never get between a mother bear and her cubs.  She will have a running story to tell for years to come.  

Have you seen a bear in the wild? 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Frame That One

If you ever visit my bedroom, you will find a lot of framed photos of the adventures of my life. Not the lovers from my past, but pictures that remind of places I have been, and things I have done.  Some are tiny, some are larger (though I limit the size so more will fit.) There is also a wall in the dining room covered in framed photos.  I have to be selective, space is limited and frames don't grow on trees.  I captured the image above at the the Lake Quinault Lodge in the western edge of the Olympic National Forest, in Washington state.  It recently joined the collection, along with one of the whale photos. 

What do you have photos of in your personal space?  

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday - Honey Prices

As I have mentioned I was raised on a Funny Farm, make that a Honey Farm.  In about 1974 there was a world honey shortage and the wholesale price of honey went up from 10-15-cents per pound, to 21-cents per pound.  Beekeepers thought they were getting rich, even my normally conservative father splurged a little that year.  About that time my grandfather retired and my mother and I took over running the processing plant.  We decided to offer retail sales - something my grandfather had resisted as it distracted him from his work.  As I recall we set a retail price in your containers of 50-cents a pound.  When comb honey came in I priced it $1 per section and my father protested that it would never sell at that price.  It did- we sold out.  The next year it was $1.50, then $2.50.  In the Pike Place Market in Seattle, I came across a display of nice cut comb, those are 12 to 16 ounce sections, and the price is $25.00.  I have produced that stuff, it is a lot of work, it is a good product.  That is a lot of money.  I can only imagine my father's reaction, if he was still alive I would print this picture out to show him. He'd probably say, nice looking stuff, I hope you didn't bring me any at that price. 

Have you ever produced an agricultural product? 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A Three-Hour Tour

We spent a couple of night in Port Angeles Washington.  It is on the strait that separates Washington State from British Columbia.  The initial idea, was that we might take the ferry across to Victoria for a few hours.  When we were getting close I picked up the ubiquitous tourist map of things to do in _____.  And there on the cover were whale watching tours.  I had done this once before, in Hawaii, Jay had not, and he had missed the one fluke we saw in seven days on our Alaska Cruise.  Jay was more excited about whale watching than the Capital of British Columbia (and dealing with currency and cell phone service for a couple of hours) so the Three Hour Tour it was.  

The morning tour left at 9:30, with boarding and instructions starting at 9:00 AM.  I recommended leaving the hotel room by 8:30 so we could grab something to eat along the way. Jay is not a morning person, and he had trouble sleeping the night before.  About 8 AM I whispered into his ear, want to let this slip to the 3:00 tour? I'll go have breakfast and let you sleep.  He responded with, "really, you won't be upset?"  Really we were on vacation, this was the unscheduled week.  I went in search of eggs benedict - he went back to sleep for a couple of hours.  

The 85 foot boat left right on time for the afternoon cruise, the trip out was not to bad.  We found a whale, chased him/her for half and hour, then started back towards Port Angeles.  And "the weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed." People around me starting turning funny colors, and hanging on for dear life, and hanging over the rail.  I went to the snack bar and came back with chilli and hot chocolate and chowed down, watching the fellow passengers and the 4 to 6 foot seas and 20 knot winds.  Thanks to "the courage of the fearless crew" we made it back to port in time for a late dinner.  

Am I the only one humming an old TV theme song?   

Monday, August 12, 2019

Paula Wanted to Know

Paula, Jay's oldest brother's wife, wanted to know what the convertible looked like with the top up.  I have several pictures of the car with the top down, but none with the top up, so I asked Jay to take a short video of me putting the top down.  It are a lot of moving parts, I have had more than one kid scream "Transformer" at me when I was opening or closing the top in a parking lot.  

I am very much enjoying it.  I like driving it with the top down, it is a small car that is fun to drive and has great visibility. 

It finally has a permanent parking sticker for the condo, I unknowingly broke one of the parking rules by having more cars than drivers in the condo.  My appeal to the board was unsuccessful.  The best they would agree to was a temporary reprieve, with instructions on a loophole in the rules (I have read the rules and I can't find this loophole, but they tell me it must be there, they have always done it this way.) If I bought or leased a garage parking space, I could have a third sticker.  Enter a neighbor in poor health who was having "difficulties" getting her car in and out of the garage - difficulties like backing into other cars, scraping on the walls, parking in the wrong space, and a space came available for lease.  Now she still has her car, she is parking out back in the open lot, where the spaces are wider and no one is parked behind her, and no one cares what space she is in. 

Do you prefer coupe or topless?  

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sunday Five - Oysters - what else

One of the joys of travel is local foods.  There some things like oysters that are best when fresh and local.  Some things travel well, others never make it far from home.  

1: Do you like raw oysters? 
2: How about fried oysters? 
3: Would you order raw oysters in Kansas City? 
4: What should I do with the string of pearls I found in mom and dad's safe? 
5: Why don't men wear pearls? 

My Answers: 
1: Do you like raw oysters? Yes, I think Pacific coast oysters have more flavor and the colder water is safer. 
2: How about fried oysters? Yes, if they are freshly shucked before cooking.  
3: Would you order raw oysters in Kansas City? No, not unless I was on the same plane directly from San Francisco with the oysters on ice for the trip. 
4: What should I do with the string of pearls I found in mom and dad's safe? I loaned them to one of the penguins in my bathroom, he seems bored with them.  
5: Why don't men wear pearls? Some do my dears, some do, more should.  

Your answers in the comments please, 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Vision of the Future from 1962

Seattle built a monorail for the 1962 World's Fair, it was touted as the future of mass transit.  It rides quietly on a rail, above the street, moving easily from Macy's to the Space Needle.  Plans included extending the line to the airport and beyond.  Sadly the system never grew beyond the original rail, in fact one of the stations was modified making it much less practical.  

Disney uses a monorail at both us Parks and I understand there is one at a University that was built with federal dollars as a demonstration project.  

Why no more monorails? 

Friday, August 09, 2019

Don't Leave Home Without It!

I was thinking of my top five list of things that I take with me when I travel, things that add comfort and convenience to life on the road. 

1: 10 foot long charging cords for my phone and tablet. Increasingly there are outlets where you need them, but not always, go online and order extra long cables, carry more than one charger.  

2: Travel toiletries kit, I keep this seperate and packed all of the time. I use full size things like tubes of toothpaste and keep duplicates so the kit always packed and ready to go.  I keep a mini kit, in the messenger bag that I carry all of the time, all I have to do it top off a couple of medications in that mini-kit and I am ready to roll. 

3: Passport, and backup ID.  One rainy night in Atlanta after  I missed the last flight home, I misplaced my driver license in the bottom of my briefcase. Having my passport as a back-up allowed me to get home the next morning.  I found my divers license the next day when I dumped my briefcase out. 

4: Extra cash and a back-up credit card.  I keep a travel wallet with cash and a credit card in it. The first time I was in London my ex- had a pocket picked.  I discovered the next day that the London Zoo does not take American Express, fortunately I had a back-up card.  (I keep Euros on hand, ready to travel at a moments notice.) 

5: My Kindle and a tablet (I-Pad.) I read when I am flying, it passess the time and enriches the mind.  With my Kindle I can take a dozen books in the space of less than one paperback.  My I-Pad has become indispensable when I travel, I have a keyboard case so it doubles as a travel computer.  

In addition if I am renting a car, I take a GPS unit, you can try to use your phone, but a dedicated GPS unit is much more useful. 

What do you not leave home without? 

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Seattle - Towers and Glass

Nothing screams Seattle like the Space Needle, built for the 1962 Worlds Fair, the space needle continues to draw crowds.  In the shadow of the space needle is Chihuly Glass Garden, an massive installation both indoors and out, of modern American art glass.  I was unsure I would have time, and admission was $32, but we had a couple of free hours. It was worth every penny and every minute.  

Would you ride to the top of the Space Needle? 

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday - the first time I met the CIA

The year after I finished high school, I took the classes and passed the test and earned a real estate license in Florida.  I started out in the office, of a friend of the family.  I shared a large office with a view of the water with John. John was old enough to be my grandfather.  Over a few weeks I got to know him.  He was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, his parents were German Jews who had immigrated between World War I and World War II.  He grew up speaking German at home, and English at school and in the community.  

He was in the Army Air-Corp in World War II.  When the war ended and he was getting close to discharge, he was asked to have dinner one evening.  Dinner was with a table full of Generals.  They wanted to know if he would take on a special assignment, leveraging his fluency in German. For the next decade he lived in Germany and traded in the underground economy, the black market, with Uncle Sam's money.  

After the war his employer shifted, and in the early 1960's he found himself working out of CIA headquarters in Langley.  His specialty was advance work for Presidential security.  His first visits to the Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach, were advance surveillance for President Kennedys' visits.  No one, not even his wife and kids knew who his employer was.  One day in the mid-70s, he arrived at the office, scanned his building access card and the gate didn't open.  He walked over to security and had the guard scan the card.  The guard said, "Congratulations John, the President accepted your retirement last night."  His response was, what!  To which the guard said, "someone will be out with a box with your personal effects, your pension started today."  

Finally he could tell his wife who he had worked for.  He never knew what he did or didn't do, to be suddenly "retired."  When I shared an office with him, he still had not told his kids what he had done for a living.  

Later that year, John's wife had a health problem, and they decided to move back to northern Virginia, where he thought the medical care was better.  

He is not the only CIA officer I have met over the years, but he was the first.  I bet they have a file on me.  

Do they have a file on you? 

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Pecker Patrol

My one and only first cousin, worked for a contractor on the Space Shuttle project.  For the first couple of years he was assigned to security, later moving onto access control as the "count man."(I had to make sure I spelled that right.) 

When he was on security, if they had a shuttle on the launch pad, like the one above (great photo - I took this from the approach to the beach at Playalinda) he would be sent out to the launch pad for "pecker patrol."  The big red fuel tank was covered in spray foam, and woodpeckers, birds that peck into trees for bugs, would peck into the foam.  Foam falling off led to a disaster, and the engineers were aware of this weakness long before the disaster.  The woodpeckers were a protected species, and besides you don't want to be shooting guns near the spacecraft. So security would be stationed on the launch tower around the shuttle, with airhorns and binoculars and charged with scaring the birds away, pecker patrol. 

Later he was the count-man.  When technicians work on a spacecraft, before they enter the area, they count everything the person has with them, tools, supplies, even keys and change.  When you come back out, they count everything again.  Any differences must be accounted for.  This prevents things being left behind, or souvenirs being taken (NASA closely controls space hardware, they will get a court order and seize anything, especially flown hardware, that was taken without permission.)  Early on, there were issues with tools being left behind, or souvenirs being left in the spacecraft to be retrieved after the flight.  Astronauts were allowed a limited quantity of personal baggage, flags and coins flown in space by astronauts are sought after collectables.   

Would you list "pecker patrol" on as the profession on your tax return? 

Monday, August 05, 2019

Warning- Political Post

I recently posted this on Facebook:
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From a former co-worker I received the following two comments:
Do you know why I will vote for him ... because he is not a SOCIALIST, and our economy is booming, and we have some of the lowest unemployment numbers on record - no matter what race you are!

In other words, she is willing to trade ethics and standards for a few dollars, she is morally bankrupt. 

And ... David ... if you investigated all the Democrats who want to be President and who have been President ... I assure you will find major character flaws and more then likely CRIMES!

Interesting technique, it worked for Hitler, when backed in a corner accuse the other guy of even worse.  

Maybe it is time to see if the WWII bunkers are still dry inside.  

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Sunday Five - Random Questions

No theme this week, random questions;

1: Your favorite wild animal? 
2: Your favorite farm animal? 
3: Have you ever watched a chicken hatch? 
4: Do you wear a watch on a daily basis? 
5: Where in world was I, when I took the selfie above? 

My answers: 
1: Your favorite wild animal?  Bears! 
2: Your favorite farm animal? Sheep 
3: Have you ever watched a chicken hatch? Yes 
4: Do you wear a watch on a daily basis? Yes 
5: Where in world was I, when I took the selfie above? If I told you that, you'd all know - hint it was taken in 2017. 

Your answers in the comments please, 

Saturday, August 03, 2019

Have You Missed Me?

I hope you didn't notice, I have been away for a couple of weeks.  I thought about posting that I was taking a couple of weeks off from posting, but I am in my 4th year of posting at least once per-day.  I didn't want to break the streak.  I had a four day weekend for independence day and I wrote and scheduled all the way through the end of the month. At one point I was scheduled 27 days in advance. I can reschedule if something interesting comes up, but I knew at least one posting a day was set and ready to go on autopilot.   

Where have I been?  Seattle for work, then the Boeing Factory tour, then west into the Olympic peninsula, west to the Pacific, a slow drive down the coast, then east to Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainer, east across the mountain, back west across the mountains to Seattle, then home.  Ten different hotels, 1350 miles in a rented SUV, lots of adventure to get lost in.  I will start writing about it soon.  

Did you notice I was gone? 

Friday, August 02, 2019


One nice thing about taking lots of photos, is I can bring up the photo file on my computer, scroll randomly back and relive the adventures of the past.  I have had a good life, been lots of places, seen lots of good things, met lots of interesting places, smelled the smells, heard the sounds, felt the sun and rain in a lot of places, tasted the cuisine of places new and old.  And scrolling back through the pictures brings it back to me in a flash. 

Athens was amazing.  Looking back at 2,000-3,000 years of human history.  Greece was intimidating, the language is impenetrable,  but Athens was easy.  There is a great train line from the airport into the city center.  The city center is very walkable.  Language was seldom an issue, most of the people speak multiple languages - at least enough to get by.  Athens has been hosting foreigners since the beginning of time,  they know how to do it.  I'd go back in a heartbeat.  

Where would you go back to in a heartbeat? 

Thursday, August 01, 2019

What happened to Supersonic Travel

I remember the promise of supersonic flight.  When Boeing designed the 747, they put the flight deck on an upper level so that that the nose could be hinged open to load freight.  The expectation was that supersonic airliners would replace the 747 on long haul flights within a few years, and the 747 would live out it's lifespan as a freighter.  The Concord proved to be expensive to operate, too few were built to recover the engineering costs.  Boeing's request that Congress underwrite engineering costs on an American SST, was denied, the mock up was sold off for scrap and lived out it's life in a hanger in Kissimmee Florida. The Russian SST, had engineering issues, and the same high operating costs and was taken out of service after a few short years.  

Demand on long haul flights was for cheaper seats.  And that is what we have.  Smaller planes, with two engines because they cost less to build and maintain, smaller seats, but lower prices.  

There are periodic reports of people trying to design a supersonic business jet, something that could morph into a small supersonic airliner.  But none has made past prototype and testing.  

What killed supersonic travel?  A lack of development funding and a demand for cheaper seats on longer flight.  We could do it, but it would be expensive.  

If you could go from New York to Paris in 3 hours, would you?