Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween

I made a terrible mistake, I scheduled my major national conference for Halloween and the day after this year.  I have caught more grief from adults, adults without children, who don't want to be at a conference on Halloween than I could ever have imagined.  Halloween is kind of a non-event for me.  I really don't pay much attention to it.  I had a job interview once on Halloween, I thought that explained the hat of one of my soon to be colleagues was wearing (little did I know it was her everyday hat.)  For this year, I am supplying about  40 pounds of candy, for the 230 people expected at the conference.  

Do your own thing, observe, celebrate or ignore,  have a fun day.   

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday - Spo-Land

What do cowboy hats and hemorrhoids have in common? Sooner or later every ----hole has one.  I started early.  This was taken on the top of South Mountain in Phoenix, Spo lives someplace in that valley today.  

A friend of my father moved to Phoenix in the early 1960's, we went there twice, the first time for a couple of weeks, and the following winter we wintered in Phoenix, I went to the first grade there.  

I no longer have a cowboy hat, do you? 

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Late dinners and drunks

A very late and long work dinner this evening. Drinks started at 6:30, dinner didn’t come out until 8:30. The board member sitting next to me had a martini and at least 5 glasses of wine. She held my arm to steady herself on the uneven sidewalk on the walk back to the hotel. Glad I abstained tonight. We made it back safely. I hope she feels well in the morning.

A Rich Life

An old friend of mine posted something on Facebook that made me stop and think, and write.  

She has had a long and interesting, but not always easy life. She married the bright young man she met in college, supported him through medical school, started a family.  She lived a rich life, full of material trappings, a huge house, fancy cars, nice furniture, and clothes.  When she was about 50, she came home to an empty house with a for sale sign in the front yard.  The doctor left her for a 20-something, he planned it out so he appeared broke, she got next to nothing.  She moved, went to work as social director in an income based housing community (how I met her) and worked her way through earning a masters degree.  She worked for a few more years, and then found herself approaching 70 and downsized out of a job at the same time she was being treated for lung cancer. Because she hadn't worked for so many years of her adult life, her income is modest.  She is now living a community similar to the one she worked in.  She has grown sons who adore her, a dog that she loves, and fills her days with gardening, reading, writing (she had a book published a couple of years ago) and spending time with her friends.  

The thing that triggered her Facebook posting, was a comment by one of her old friends from her days as a doctor's wife, about being poor in retirement.  She pointed out that she leads a happy and fulfilling life. She may need to say, I can't buy that, or I can't go on that trip, but she leads a rich life.  She is surrounded by things she likes and does things that she finds valuable and rewarding. 

Success in life is not about what we have, it is about what we do.  She does what she finds value in.  More material possessions would not improve her quality of life.  She would sooner have the love of her sons, her dog (not necessarily in that order) and fun with her friends than money in a loveless marriage.  She has a rich life.  

I hope I grow to be more like her as I age. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

Mural Monday- Near San Diego

A few years ago we were in San Diego for a conference and a grad-school friend of Jay's picked us up, drove us north and out along the Pacific to a small town for breakfast.  We passed this on a boarded up beach house.  

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Sunday Five - Explain to me

The museum guide was trying to explain a Jackson Pollock painting.  

1: What is meaning of life? 
2: Why does anyone defend Donald Trump? 
3: When will we know we are old? 
4: Why can't we all just get along? 
5: Does any of this really matter? 

My answers (because I wouldn't ask you do anything I wouldn't do.) 
1: What is meaning of life?  42- according to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  
2: Why does anyone defend Donald Trump? Moral bankruptcy 
3: When will we know we are old?  Some days I know the answer, other days I wonder if I will ever grow up (like being a grown up is a good thing.) 
4: Why can't we all just get along?  Our personal fears, lead us to distrust others who are different than us, and some people are just simply evil. 
5: Does any of this really matter? Only to us dears, only to us.  

Please share your thoughtful or creative answers in the comments. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Mirror Project

One of my first forays into posting online, was submitting images for the Mirror Project Mirror Project ran from 1999 to 2006, and accepted contributions from photographers, showing at least a bit of themselves in a reflective surface. At first I felt constrained to mirrors, the more I looked around the more reflective surfaces I found.  Creating content within the rules of project helped me to see the world in a different way, drove me to see things I had previously overlooked.  

Sadly the project stopped in 2006, when as the website says, "someone dropped the server."  It has been revived in archive form only, no longer accepting submissions.  

Still when I saw my orange shoes reflected in the stainless steel surrounding a fountain at the Hirshorn I couldn't resist. 

What was your first online platform? 

Friday, October 25, 2019

People Watching

We get so busy, so scheduled, so many things we have to do, or want to do, it is easy to rush through and forget to take time to stop and look at the world around us.  A couple of weeks ago, we drove into Washington DC on a Sunday morning (street parking is free in many areas on Sunday, and on a Sunday morning you might actually find a space near where you want to be.) We wandered an art museum, then stopped for a coffee.  While Jay waited for the barista, I sat and marveled at the sights around me.  People watching.  

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Transportation Sharing

In bike-sharing or scooter sharing there is a concept of rebalancing.  Getting the wheels where people want them, not where they left them.  In other words the provider has to move the things around.  Bike share does this primarily in vans.  This is a rebalancing ride, moving four scooters from where they were, to where there are not enough.  

When I was in Nashville last March, the taxi driver that was taking me to the airport was a talker.  He explained how Uber and such had driven a lot of taxi drivers out of business.  We passed a group of ride-share scooters, he said to make ends meet a lot of taxi drivers have contracts with the scooter company.  Late at night they drive around town, picking up the scooters and take them to a charging location, then redistribute them back out on the streets. 

Have you, or would you, ride one of the electric scooters? 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday - Gilda

I met Gilda the second winter my family wintered in Florida.  We were in high school together.  We have stayed in contact over the decades.  Gilda and her mother had moved to Florida from Connecticut.  Her mother worked in the factory for McDonnell Douglas, at the time assembling seats for airliners.  Her mother's family was from Quebec, they spoke French as a second language. Gilda's French was always better than mine.  We dated a little.  I think she sensed that both of us would be happier with someone else.  But we have remained friends.  We differ in our views on religion and politics, but agree that people should be kind to one another, judgement is not ours.  Maybe we believe this for different reasons, but does that matter? 

Her daughter is awesome.  She actively pursues happiness in her life, rejects the haters, loves herself and encourages others to love themselves, be kind to others, and be nice to cats.  Emily gives me hope for the future of our society.  

Tell us about an old school friend you have stayed in contact with. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Obscure Facts that May or May Not Be True

I recently read a book titled, "What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions." 

Two facts stand out:
1: If you fill your bathtub with blood, it will be gross, if you climb in you will float on top, kind of like the Great Salt Lake, then it will congeal, and be even grosser.  

2: The odds are 1 in a billion, that the person next to you in traffic will murder someone in the next 24 hours.  Not bad odds, but don't piss them off.  

Read any obscure facts recently? 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Mural Monday

Sometimes the image is the message, sometimes the message is the message.  

I am working on a journal article on ethics, the words become visual concepts in my mind when I focus on the overlap between them and try to parse out the exceptions.  

Have you had a chance to think deep thoughts recently? 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Sunday Five - Really How Are You Doing?

  1. Are you in Love? 
  2. Did you laugh at least once this past week?
  3. Did you take time to do something you enjoy this past week? 
  4. Do you have dreams or goals in life? 
  5. Tell us what makes you happy? 
My answers:

  1. Are you in Love? Endlessly with my sweet bear 
  2. Did you laugh at least once this past week? Yes, often, with the irony in Washington DC it is easy to find something to laugh about. 
  3. Did you take time to do something you enjoy this past week? I always make time for blogging. 
  4. Do you have dreams or goals in life? 46 months, Ireland in March, a big conference coming up soon. 
  5. Tell us what makes you happy? A comfortable and reasonably secure life, planning and traveling, my sweet bear.  
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

And The Flag Was Still There

The United States national anthem is the words to a poem, written by Francis Scott Key, set the melody of an old Scottish drinking song.  Maybe that explains why it is so hard to sing well, when sober.  The poem describes the battle of Fort McHenry at the mouth of the harbor in Baltimore.  When we visited we took a local passenger ferry from the inner harbor in Baltimore out to Ft. McHenry, a very nice 20 minute ride.  

Francis Scott Key's family owned a tavern in Washington DC, the Key Tavern.  The national park service "lost" the building.  How do you lose a building.  Well, it was disassembled to be moved when the Key Bridge was built, but they hadn't agreed on a location and didn't have money to rebuild it. Parts of it were stored in a warehouse, the bricks were numbered and stored in a maintenance yard.  And in the fullness of time, a couple of decades later the location was decided on, and funds were appropriated.  When the engineers went to look at the pile of bricks, they were gone.  The pile had been scavenged for bricks for Park Service projects, and many had simply been carried away by people who had access to the yard.  Used to build backyard barbecues and such.  Parts of the interior and structure were in the warehouse, but the building itself was gone.  Opps!  The flag was still there, but the building was gone. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

Casting a Shadow

I started to write a deep philosophical entry about the shadows we cast in our lives.  But what this photo really demands is a reflection on great fun.  All of us have unique experiences in life, things that few others get to experience.  For me, one of the highlights was riding on a Zeppelin back in the summer of 2015.  Little more than a dozen people at a time, perhaps 300 people a day get to experience watching the Zeppelin they are riding in cast a shadow on the ground, a unique shape.  

When we were planning the trip to Germany Jay emailed me two flightseeing websites. The one he was sure I would choose was a ride in a 1930's vintage airliner, the other was the Zeppelin.  I was instantly drawn to the Zeppelin, as long as I could afford it, I really didn't care what it cost, a part of the trip was planned around it. 

I am so glad I did this, the Zeppelin cast its shadow on the ground and onto a part of my life's adventure.  

What experience casts a positive shadow on your life? 

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Happy Anniversary

1992, 27 years ago today, we set up housekeeping together, joining our lives.  Four years ago, after society and the law caught up, and recognized that our committed long term relationship is valid and deserves protection, we married.  

We are good for one another.  We comfort one another, we make one another laugh.  We respect each other, and remain faithful to one another.  We balance one another, we share curiosity and intellectual capacity.  We are both responsible, but not overly stingy.  Our intellect and whit are good matches.  

I can't say I love you, enough times a day, knowing that someday I won't have the opportunity to do that again. LOVE YOU! 

Facebook reminded me that 10 years ago this past weekend, I took part in a march on Washington for marriage equality.  In law school, I had had looked at the Constitutional issues and understood the line of reasoning that would win, but honestly, I didn't think society was ready. Five years ago when the cases were being litigated I feared that prejudice would win over legal reasoning.  I am so glad I was wrong.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Cars, the way we were Wednesday

My paternal grandfather loved cars, he worked for Ford for about 30 years, he told amazing stories of Model As, Model Ts, and other early cars.  With a young family in the 1930's he would buy junkers, make them run, fix them along the side of the road, and run them until they wouldn't run any longer.  Just before World War II, he bought his first new Ford.  After the war he bought a new car every two or three years until he quit driving in his late 60's.  He owned a lot of good cars, but he loved telling stories about the early junkers that he somehow made run to get him and his family from place to place.  I miss those stories.  

When my mother and my aunt cleaned out my grandmother's house, they found her file with the bill of sale, for every new car they had ever bought.  My mother said, "what a load of rubbish" and tossed them all out.  If I had been there, I would have kept them, every one of them.  

What is your earliest car story? 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Leather Ball Bags

If you use a black powder rifle that fires round lead balls, you need a leather ball bag, to keep your balls in.  There are so many bad jokes that can be made about this, I am going to leave that up to you all, and your creative minds.  

Back in the 1980's there was a western themed bar and entertainment complex downtown Orlando call Rosie O'Grady's. In the gift shop they sold leather bags made from bulls scrotums. I regret not buying one of those.  

What is your best leather ball bag quip?   

Monday, October 14, 2019

Mural Monday France

Over years I have spent a couple of weeks roaming the back roads of Normandy, someplace there I came across the gem.  

Do you think that is a tomb this is above? 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sheep on the heather, Sunday Five

It all started with one cute little stuffed sheep, picked up one spring near easter.  He was cute and fuzzy and the next thing you know, acrylic or wool, sheep were a regular part of our lives.  A week in Yorkshire fueled the passion.  

1: Have you touched a live sheep? 
 If so: What to you think of the lanolin smell? 
2: If you had time and space, would you keep sheep? 
3: Are there fields of sheep near where you live? 
4: Do you have a stuffed (artificial) sheep in the house? 
5: Do you wear wool clothing? 

My answers: 
1: Have you touched a live sheep? Yes, when they are welcoming they are fun to pet.
 If so: What to you think of the lanolin smell? It makes my nose itch.
2: If you had time and space, would you keep sheep? I don't think I should be responsible for keeping anything alive. 
3: Are there fields of sheep near where you live? There is a flock in the historic farm at Mt Vernon about 8 miles away, not many others in this urban jungle. 
4: Do you have a stuffed (artificial) sheep in the house? Several
5: Do you wear wool clothing? When I can. 

Your answers in the comments please. 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Fancy Colors

Colors do something for me.  As a teenager a Mrs. Miller who lived next door tried to teach me how to paint, she was encouraging, but I could tell she was disappointed.  Her drawing ability far exceeded mine, and she had been practicing for 7 or 8 decades.  Still she told me, if you enjoy it, that is all that matters, who cares what others think.  Mr. Miller described herself as a successful widow, the first husband died and left her a couple-hundred acres of good Florida farm land, she used that to bankroll the second husband into a VW, Audi, Porsche dealership, in the late 1950's when VW and Porsche were just getting a strong foothold in the US market.  When the second husband died, she inherited the lot.   

The greatest thing that I learned from painting with Mrs Miller was how colors blend and shade.  I learned more about color from painting, than from color photography, or any other art class.    

Color excites me, I find pleasure in colors.  I have recently come to the conclusion that having a favorite color is to restricting for me.  I color outside of the lines anyway.  

Do you wish for more or less color in your life?   

Friday, October 11, 2019

Some Days

Some days life is hard, some days I feel like I am being scavenged for parts, some days I feel like I am locked in place - unable to escape.  I had a weird dream one night recently, in the dream I was working intensely in my office, I looked up and someone had taped a note to my computer monitor, that read  in block type on a plain white paper, "Run, you moron!" (Or was it "Run you fool!"?) 

Don't get me wrong, I have a good job, my boss challenges me, but allows me a lot of freedom, I am able to work on issues that I believe in, I do think we are making a difference, but when my time to go arrives, I will be out the door.  

A colleague who retired a couple of years ago and still chairs a couple of committees and was in the office the other day, looking all tanned and relaxed (the relaxed part being new.) When he left I looked at my boss and said, "Bob is proof that there is life after this job."  Then I added, "46 months." The boss looked a little stunned, he said he still enjoys his work and has never really drawn a line in the sand.  I also find my work rewarding, but I have set a target date, August 1, 2023. 

At one time I thought I would work until they found me decomposing at my desk. Over time I have come to understand there are things I want to do, that being tied to the office make it difficult for me to do. The longer I am locked to the job, the more opportunities to go or do that pass by, never to return. I am well paid, it will be hard to walk away from the money (and no I don't have a large guaranteed pension,) but I have also calculated that we will have enough income to live comfortably, and everything we own is paid for.  Happiness or worth in life is not measured by who dies with the most money (or the most toys.) 

My parents should have spent more of their savings.  They lived on the income for 30+ years, but the principle actually grew most of that time. Only in the last couple of years of their lives when they were too sick to really enjoy it, did they dip into savings.  As my father proved you can't take it with you - and a month after he died I cancelled his credit card (a family member was still using it to order things on Amazon- or maybe it was him?) 

Some days, I think I should work until I drop, there is so much to do, but most days I think it is time to turn this over to the next generation.  To build them up, load them with skills, knowledge and a sense of purpose, and quietly fade away.  Some days, I get frustrated with the slowness of progress and wonder if I am part of the solution, or part of the problem.  

What one thing do you want to do in retirement that you can't (or couldn't) do while working?  

Thursday, October 10, 2019


I started my first job with a home building company in the summer of 1980.  It was a small company, 15 or 20 employees, run by a Leon and sweet genius of a man who went on to teach at the University of Florida, and is long since dead.  He still haunts me.  I can recall early on in working there saying something about cement blocks, and him correcting me, that those are concrete blocks.  Cement is what sticks together the aggregate in concrete, a cement block or sidewalk would be all stick and no strength.  When I saw this sign in Philly, I could hear Leon echoing in my head, "Concrete, cement is just what sticks it all together!"  

I was in the grocery store recently, and someone had left open one of the doors on the cheese display in the dairy department. This time it was my mother screaming, "CLOSE THAT DOOR!"echoing in my brain. I did close the door, even though I didn't leave it open.  

Those voices that echo in our heads are how people from our past haunt us.  Nothing sinister or evil about these hauntings (well there are few things from mom that would challenge that statement) but lessons learned and reinforced.  

Who haunts you? 

There is one other Leon story, I have to tell.  The staff went out to lunch once a month.  At lunch one day, someone ordered Scotch (whiskey) on the rocks. Leon grimaced, and said, "I don't know how you can drink that stuff."  I responded that "Scotch is an acquired taste, you get use to it." Leon responded, "If I put my hand on the table and pick up a hammer and start pounding on my hand, after a couple of minutes I will get use to it, it still won't be pleasant, but I will get use to it." I loved working with him.   

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday - way-way back

I was born in late August, this would have been Easter the following spring, I was less than a year old.  Notice my sister's sideways glance at the egg in my hand, my two freckled brothers.  There is a radio on the table, not something you would see in most living rooms today. The table it is setting on was still in my parents home when they died 58 years later.  I remember the china lamp, very post war, I don't think that one was still in the house, but the blue one was - left for the estate sale.  

Hard to believe I had hair like that once.  

Monday, October 07, 2019

Mural Monday

Modern Mosaic in the Jefferson Station in Philadelphia.  

What color should we add to this? 

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Sunday Five - Out to Eat

We were in Philadelphia a month ago (my how time flies) and on the last morning, we checked out of the hotel, checked the bags, and went out for a walk.  We had a 1:00 PM train back to Alexandria, Virginia (the nearest Amtrak station to home.) It was an odd time, like 10:30, a couple of places where closed, a couple of places were transitioning between breakfast and lunch.  I spotted the Ritz Carlton Hotel and knew instantly, they will have a nice breakfast, it won't be cheap, but the food and service will be good.  Hence this weeks Sunday Five.

1: If you go out to breakfast, what is your go-to item to order? 
2: What is most you have ever paid for a cheeseburger and fries? 
3: Have you ever had beer and cold pizza for breakfast? 
4: Is there a restaurant brand you refuse to eat at? 
5: What was the last restaurant you ate out at? 

My Answers:
1: If you go out to breakfast, what is your go-to item to order?  Eggs benedict 
2: What is most you have ever paid for a cheeseburger and fries? $25 at Bobby Van's Steak House in DC, worth every penny. 
3: Have you ever had beer and cold pizza for breakfast? No, on the list of things to do someday, but I don't really drink beer very often. 
4: Is there a restaurant brand you refuse to eat at? Chick-Fil-A,  I try not to support business that support hate groups. 
5: What was the last restaurant you ate out at?  The Haven Pizza, lunch with my sweet bear.  

Please share your answers in the comments.  

Saturday, October 05, 2019

You deserve the best

It is Saturday, shopping and errand day for many of us.  Treat yourself to something good today, the best you can find.  Over the years I have started to focus on fewer and better.  

Let us know what is the best thing you did for yourself today. 

Friday, October 04, 2019

Random Ramblings

IT updated the operating system on my office computer this week from Windows 7 to 10.  The predictable carnage kept me from working for most of a day. At one point we were having an "authentication issue," parts of the network were using one password, parts of it looking for a different password, one hadn't talked to the other one yet, and they were all confused.  I could log onto the network, but I couldn't get into my email - the primary reason I need to be on the network to start with.  

In the middle of this, the IT guy said, "oh your smartphone is trying to log in, and it is confusing the servers, take your office email off of your phone, we will put it back on after all of this is working." Hmm, I am almost 48 hours without my office email on my smartphone, how long should I wait to make sure everything is working before I have my office mail put back on my phone?  I'd say at least a month, but my calendar went away with the email.  Still I had a nice excuse not to attend to office email before going to bed last night.  

I have booked an early spring adventure.  At this point it is just airline tickets, to and from Dublin.  I will fill the rest in over the next few weeks.  We will make a side trip to Wales and London for a couple of days to see John, Duncan and Stephen.  Of course the morning after I booked the non-refundable tickets, someone asked me about a board meeting they had just scheduled for the week I am going to be gone.  I don't know why they can't schedule that meeting 9 months in advance, they have known since June, where it was to be, and roughly when, but nothing firm.  We went through the same thing last year, with it being January before I knew when the meeting would be in March. Last year I kept pushing my plans around and not booking, in the end last year, I didn't take the trip we had wanted to take, by the time I had a date for the board meeting it was too late to book the vacation.  This year I made plans, and I am going, I will miss the meeting this year.  

A dear friend had an MRI for a very large ovarian cyst, she gets the results this week, she is upbeat, but worried.  I hope it goes well for her.  She said, "at least they didn't say bring a family member or friend with you" when she goes in for the results.   

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Stop and Smell The Roses

The lyric went "stop and smell the roses along the way," along with that is noticing the rest of the world as we pass through.  The flowers and trees, the grasses and leaves, the animals and bugs.  Not sure what this is, but I sure am glad I noticed him or her flitting by, and followed as she or he went from flower to flower collecting nectar and spreading pollen.  We get to distracted by our personal distractions, phones, other people, the petty dramas of the world, sometimes we need to go off, chasing butterflies, or chasing rabbits.  

Any idea what kind of a butterfly or moth this is? 

Let yourself be distracted today. 

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesdays - Angus Stamp and Coins

When I was about ten years old I started collecting coins.  My parents gave me a couple of Whitman Coin Albums for Christmas one year, I figured out that older coins were more valuable than shiny new ones, and that coins are wonderful little pieces of sculpture.  

When we started spending winters in Titusville, Florida there was a shopping mall between the High School and the condo.  The mall had a coin shop and a camera shop.  I was in heaven.  The coin shop was owned by an older couple, kind of their retirement project.  Her name was Ann, his was Gus, the shop was Angus Stamp and Coin, combining their names.  I am not very good at remembering names, but this simple mnemonic worked, and 45 years later I remember their names.  

This is a scan of a slide I took, with the first 35mm SLR that I bought at the camera shop in the mall.  I was in heaven.  

Are you good at remembering names? 

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Adults Playing Dress Up

RuPaul has been quoted as saying, "We're All Born Naked and the Rest Is Drag" In my adult life I have dressed up as a student, athlete (yes - 100 pounds ago,) a business man in a suit, an officer worker, and a relaxed slob.  Of all of those I like the casual slob best.  

What would you like to dress up as today?