Saturday, November 30, 2019


The top image if the cover of my 2019 yearbook.  I was a yearbook geek in High School, mostly photography, though I did a little layout work.  I like the concept of that end of the year collection and look back at what has happened.  

Both Google and Apple offer me services that create books of highlights of my Adventures.  There are also a couple of online publishing services.  I have used Shutterfly 5 or 6 times to create a year end book, or a book about a special adventure. Last year, and this year, are end of the year collections, looking back over what I have done, where I have been.  Some books I print copies of for family members, last year and this year, just one copy.  Something for me to look back on. 

Have you ever had a book printed of your adventures? 

Disney Christmases Past

In February, my middle brother will mark his 42nd year of working at Walt Disney World.  I have had at least 8 jobs in the same period of time.  

For years Disney would close the Magic Kingdom Theme park early, one Friday in December, shoo all of the tourists out, and open it for a private party for cast members and invited guests.  Supervisors and senior manager would operate the rides, and dip free icecream cones, for an evening of Disney style family fun. Gary invited me as his guest several times.  It was great fun.  The crowd was a few thousand, instead of tens-of-thousands, the attractions were not crowded, very little waiting to get into anything you wanted.  Always a fun place, as a private party the Magic Kingdom became relaxed for the evening.  The rules were a little looser, though still no booze.  

As additional parks opened and the cast grew in size, Disney tried doing more than one evening, then eventually went to giving cast members extra free passes to bring family and friends to the parks.  

I guess I am one of the lucky ones who got the experience the Christmas parties of the past, Mouse style.   

Friday, November 29, 2019

Black Friday

In the management offices of American retailers, the day after Thanksgiving, became as known as black Friday, because for many of them the start of the Christmas shopping season, was the first day of profitability since the back-to-school rush of late summer.  Many retailers make more money in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, than they do over rest of the year.  

I loathe that media discovered and started using the phrase "black-Friday."  It feeds a frenzy that makes shopping rather unpleasant. 

Today marks the beginning of my annual self imposed exile from American retail.  I don't do a lot of Christmas shopping, and most of that is done online (Jay's big box has been wrapped and ready to go for weeks.) I will go back to the stores after the dust settles in January.  

Stay safe, stay sane.  

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

To my international readers, today as an annual day of Thanksgiving in the United States. 

I have much to be Thankful for. A long term loving relationship.  A comfortable home. A career that I find meaningful.  Reasonable economic security. We live in a safe and secure place.  I have few fears.  I am able to move about, for the most part as I wish.  

For too much of my life, Thanksgiving was a festival of gluttony. 

Today I will over indulge in being thankful for what I have, in being kind to others, in remembering the joys of the past year, and planning for the joys of the coming year. I will remember how fortunate we are, we are well educated, comfortable, safe, secure, not fearing an imminent death (in reasonably good health.)  I will cook something good, because I love to cook, and partaking in good food with people you enjoy is an act of love, but I will focus on the people, and the time, and all we have to be thankful for.  

Wishing you and yours a safe, secure and happy Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday - Holidays Past

Based on the pin my grandmother is wearing, this was probably taken at Christmas, in 1975 or 1976.  The family was gathered at my grandparents' winter home in Istachatta, Florida (google it if you want.)  My grandparent's spent about 20 winters there, my grandmother stayed a year or two after my grandfather died (both grandfathers died in the fall of 1976.) 

It was always nice seeing everyone, but the tension was always palpable.  Silly things, differences in cooking style or my mother obsessing over dinner being done on time, and who would be late arriving. I never enjoyed the day.    

As an adult, I have focussed on making holidays, stress free.  Relax and enjoy the holiday season.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

You are Just Fine, Just The Way You Are

I spent an hour drinking with friends on the terrace of the Presidential Suite at the Capital Hilton recently.  I was the only one in the circle who is not a parent, they were talking about the worries of parenthood.  

One has a son, who is tall, and thin.  He is extremely bright, very friendly.  His parent worries about his insecurities.  Maybe reflecting the parent's own insecurities.  

Another has a younger son, like 12 years old, he is very active and a little chubby.  His parent worries about his body image issues. Again maybe reflecting the parents concern about staying active and healthy (the parent succeeds at doing very well.) He is a hormonal youngster, subject to outbursts and mood changes.  His parent worries about his moods, and his insecurities.  

I reflect back on my insecurities at that age.  Based on comments from adults, I thought I was fat, I look back at the photos from the time, and realize that I was not fat. My mother's obsession, became my internalized body image.  I was insecure about my feelings for other people.  

At the same conference another friend of mine, who was not on the terrace drinking prosecco with us, told me that his soon to be 18 year old daughter, just came out as a lesbian.  He said he hugged, her and assured her he loved her (he said, he has been expecting this for some time.) My advice to him, was to be supportive and accepting.  Her greatest fears are likely loss or rejection.  Make sure she does not miss anything, that there are no losses for her.  I told him, I came to terms with myself later in life, that I spent a couple of decades hating myself, and it is hard to be nice to others, when you hate yourself. 

My message to all of these parents is the same.  Make sure your children know that they are just fine, just the way they are.  No one should ever expect you to be perfect.  Make the most of what you have to work with, and love yourself, so that you can love others.  

Monday, November 25, 2019

Mural Monday - Up Down and Sideways

More from the same parking garage in Nashville.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Presidential Suite at the DC Capital Hilton - Sunday Five Suite Life

This is the view from the terrace of the Presidential Suite at the DC Capital Hilton, a dear friend of mine stayed there for four nights recently.  The suite is 1,500 square feet plus a roof terrace.  Every president, except the current one, since Roosevelt has stayed in this suite.  If has a grand foyer, bedroom with a large bath and a separate side entrance (the mistress entrance) a huge living room, a formal dining room that would seat about 12, a butler's' pantry (with a seperate entrance.) It was rather comfy.  

Hence this weeks Sunday Five, hotel rooms.
1: Have you ever been upgraded to a suite? 
2: What is the largest hotel room you have ever stayed in? 
3: Tell us about the worst hotel room you have stayed in? 
4: What one element from staying hotels would you most like to have at home? 
5:  Have you ever taken a "souvenir" from a hotel stay? 

My answers:
1: Have you ever been upgraded to a suite? Several times. 
2: What is the largest hotel room you have ever stayed in? The presidential suite at the Holiday Inn in Louisville Kentucky, about 1,000 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, wet bar, marble floors and wall to wall, floor to ceiling windows.  I was there one night, and I was staying alone on a work trip. 
3: Tell us about the worst hotel room you have stayed in? Microtel in Beckley West Virginia, I killed a bed bug. 
4: What one element from staying hotels would you most like to have at home? Daily maid service. 
5:  Have you ever taken a "souvenir" from a hotel stay? I have a "couple" of "Do Not Disturb Signs." 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Nice View Most Days

This chipmunk has a nice view, a large burrow, likely lots of friends.  Not a lot of foraging options, but things are growing back.  What are the odds Mt St Helens will blow her top again?  I'd nest there and take those odds, would you? 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Bits of Wisdom

Be the best you, you can be.  The only person you have to make happy, is you, pleasing others will not necessarily please you.  

In world of clones, and wanna bees, break the mold, cast your own shadow, walk your own walk, speak your truth.  

Don't be a model, be an original . 

First, be true to thine own self. 

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Is It Art?

This is on display in front of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC.  I love the Hirshhorn, it's avantgarde collection of modern and contemporary art, it's willingness to push the boundaries.  

So a very large rock, with a face painted on it, on a midsize POS car.   Is it art? If art makes you think, evokes emotion, then I think it is art.  And also maybe the highest and best use of a Chrysler Spirit.   

A real story about boulders on cars.  About 20 years ago, a road construction crew was working near I-75 in northern Kentucky and dislodged a huge boulder, that rolled down hill and landed on the a car parked inches away from a house trailer.  The boulder was huge, really really huge, larger than the car.  The homeowner complained that his car had been crushed and initially the construction company refused to pay for the value of the car saying "there is no evidence that the car is under the boulder." They had a point, but the trailer dweller was left without a car and engaged a lawyer.  The engineers determined that it was impractical to break up the rock in search of the car, and doing so would probably damage or destroy the trailer just inches away.  After some gentle legal persuasion, the construction company paid for the car, and compensated the land owner for "loss of use" for the space the car was parked, that could no longer be effectively used as a parking space.  

Add insult to injury, the County billed the car owner for the property tax on the car the following year.  When the owner protested, the county clerk said, "prove the car is not still in your possession?" Round two for the lawyers, was to prove the car was no longer a car, even if it was still in the possession of the owner. It can be hard to prove a negative. 

Still the question, is it art? 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday Warm Summer Days

This was taken after 1972, my father has the Cannon Ftb in his lap.  The man with the white hair was Leonard, a friend of my father.  In the background is a Ford or Dodge station wagon, those nylon web lawn chairs, the print shirts and polyester trousers.  Another hint on the time, my father was not wearing glasses yet.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Best Belgian Restaurant in New York

We were looking for breakfast, a block or two off Times Square, and came across this sign.  The food was amazing, but things were not quite French.  Turns out it is the best Belgian restaurant in New York, maybe in the United States, but people know what to expect in French food, Belgian food leaves them unsure.  

Would you try it? 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Sunday Five - Reading Materials

We are about six weeks away from my end of the year list of every book I have read this year.  Barring unforeseen circumstances,  I will once again exceed the pace of a book a week.  I have an advantage, I have a 60 to 90 minutes on the subway going to and from work, 4 or 5 days a week, my reading time.  

Hence the Sunday five on reading: 
1: What are you reading now? 
2: How fast do you read? 
3: Have you bought any books this year, that you have not read and are unsure you will ever read? 
4: Can a person be well read, if they don't read novels? 
5: Do you keep a list of the books you have read? 

My answers: 
1: What are you reading now? Hauling Checks, by Alex Stone 
2: How fast do you read? 40 to 50 pages an hour, with occasional gusts. 
3: Have you bought any books this year, that you have not read and are unsure you will ever read? Yes, Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward - too depressing.
4: Can a person be well read, if they don't read novels? I hope so. 
5: Do you keep a list of the books you have read? I started 3 years ago, and have been posting on my blog.  I wish I had started a read log 30 years ago.  I have a log of every hotel I have stayed in since 2005.

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Airport Construction

For the first time since the early 1990s there is major construction at Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA.)  If you have flown in or out of DCA on American Airlines (before that US Air) on a flight that was not from a major hub for American, you may have endured the gate 35 X experience.  35X is one gate that uses shuttle buses to take passengers to and from smaller planes parked around the ramp.  The terminal expansion will replace that with 14 new gates.  No more taking a bus, to take a plane.  Stylistically it is being matched to what was built in the 90s.  

Also a new entrance and TSA security entrance is being built between arrivals and the Metro Rail station and parking garages.  When this is finished you will clear security before entering the main concourse, eliminating the 4 separate security entrances.  The layout on this is still unclear to me, but the result will be that you will be able to move from concourse to concourse without dealing with security.  

It will be a nice step forward, for my home airport.  

Friday, November 15, 2019

Strange Facts that may or may not be true

I have been reading again, this time The Female Brain. Two facts stood out:

1: In testing 10% of men who thought they were the father of a child, proved not to be so.  Busting the myth of female fidelity.  

2: If a female sheep does not smell and bond with a newborn lamb withing 5 minutes, she will reject the lamb and keep it from nursing.  

Read any strange facts recently? 

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Government Logic

I was working with a group of Federal employees, good dedicated public servants who have truly devoted their lives to helping others live a better life.  I was coordinating them speaking at a non-government conference.  

The Conference encourages speakers to bring their PowerPoint on a laptop they are familiar with. A series of emails with their fearless leader.  

  1. Our lap tops won't work unless they are logged onto our secure server, and we can't do that on public WiFi. 
    1. Then bring the PowerPoints on a jump drive, and use someone else's computer
  2. Our jump drives are encrypted and won't work except on another encrypted government computer. 
    1. Then email the PowerPoint to your home address and transfer it onto a personal jump drive
  3. We can't do that, it is a violation of security protocol for us to copy the file onto a jump drive that is not issued by the office. 
    1. Hmm, how do you normally do this? We email the file to someone outside of the agency.
  4. So, if they email it to me, it is not a violation of security protocol, (there is nothing confidential on the file) and I can do anything with the file.
    1. The solution, totally lose control of the file, to keep from violating the security rules.  
I wish I was kidding.  So many bright people trying so hard to do the right thing.  I sure am glad that file had nothing in it that is important.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesdays - Hanging Around Airports

My father was born the year Charles Lindbergh's first solo flight across the Atlantic.  From an early age, he fell in love with airplanes and flying.  He wanted to enlist in the Army Aircorp in World War II, his mother refused to consent, and by the time he was drafted late in the war, they were no longer training pilots.  In the early 1950's he quit smoking, and learned to fly.  He figured money wise it was about a wash, and one might be healthier than the other.  

As a consequence I grew up around little airports, and little airplanes.  The image above was from a typical Sunday morning.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Carnivore, Omnivore, Vegetarian

Warning, I am going to say rude things about Vegans, if you are going to be offended by that, come back tomorrow, I promise to be better. 

A couple of weeks ago I hosted my annual national conference, if I get more specific than that, my employer will claim ownership of all of the content on this blog, and demand the $39 a year in advertising revenue that this blog produces (seriously, it took me almost three years to accumulate $100 in advertising revenue, the minimum threshold for Google to pay out, but still, $100 is $100, and I don't actively or passively shill for any of the advertisers (I might if asked to.)  

The conference includes a couple of buffet lunches.  I select the menus from what is offered by the venue. I try to be careful to make sure there are kosher and vegetarian options.  This is not that hard to do, except when the Chef decides to put bacon in the coleslaw (it was good!) Next time I will ask that they put the bacon on the side.  Two of my three kosher colleagues ate it anyway and commented that it was "really good."

Carnivores eat meat, vegetarians eat anything but meat, omnivores eat anything that does not eat them first.  By our nature, human beings are omnivores, if our digestive systems are healthy, we can eat almost anything.  

Then along comes the Vegan.  
At the conference I am the fix it man, the person you go to when you have a problem, and I try to find a solution. The buffet line was moving along smoothly at lunch the second day, and an angry young woman comes up to me and demands, "where is the vegan food!"  I politely direct her to the catering staff, who will take steps necessary to meet her "dietary needs." I also point out, that if she had emailed us ahead of time, as we asked in the registration materials, we would have had a special meal ready and waiting for her.  The only person who did email us ahead of time, never claimed her special meals, but grazed off of the buffet (kosher - vegetarian - no dark green leafy vegetables.) After lunch comes the conversation with the banquet captain (BC.)  

BC, "Vegans, they are always so bitter and angry."
Me, "I think it is hunger, bacon would solve that."  
BC, "Hard to cook,"
Me, "I find it hard to find fresh vegans and I am never sure if we should stew them, or grind them and make burgers." 
BC, nearly falling over laughing, "sometimes I just want to say, PACK A LUNCH!" 
Me, "Or go graze in the park." 

Yes sometimes I talk about people behind their back, don't you? 

Monday, November 11, 2019

Mural Monday - Recovered

Another one, buried underground in Rome of 1,500 years.  Nice faces from the far distant past.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Sunday Five - Being Nice

  1. Do you often remember to say, "please" when asking others to do something? 
  2. Do you expect or demand a "thank you" when you do something? 
  3. When was the last time you performed a "random act of kindness"? 
  4. Do you resist the urge to share or pass along something negative or insulting? 
  5.  Do you say "good morning" to strangers? 

My answers: 

  1. Do you often remember to say, "please" when asking others to do something? Almost always. 
  2. Do you expect or demand a "thank you" when you do something? Nope, the world owes me nothing for doing my part. 
  3. When was the last time you performed a "random act of kindness"?  Yesterday, 
  4. Do you resist the urge to share or pass along something negative or insulting? Often, but not always. 
  5.  Do you say "good morning" to strangers?  Habitually, even in the middle of the afternoon, or early evening.  Some people stare. 
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, November 09, 2019

The Routine Things in Life Need Not Be Boring

I remember discovering "Colours by Alexander Julian" in early 1980's, he put our a line of smartly colored dress socks. I had already discovered that underwear came in colors and styles beyond what my father wore.   Bright colors were a bold choice in the rather button down office I was working in.  Someone commented one day on my socks, and without thinking, my response was, "the routine things in life, need not be boring.  

Make a bold choice today, to not be boring.  

Friday, November 08, 2019

The Supremes - Not on a Monday

It has been a couple of years since I have stopped over to watch the Supreme Court in action.  Understanding how the process of appeals work helps you to understand what it happening.  

Each side has a time limit to explain their side, with questions from the Judges.  When I was in law school I participated in a couple of mock appeals cases. In one the judge asked me something like, "So you want us to rule that the sky if green?"  And my answer was, "well, yea!"  After the round, the judges offered feedback to the students.  He laughed and said, "great answer, but next time make it, Yes Your Honor, I believe the Court should Rule that way because the sun is yellow, and the sky is blue, and yellow and blue make green."  I was embarrassed, the room chuckled, but the lesson was learned, and it stuck.  I finished second in that competition out of almost 100 students.   

Have you ever seen an appeals court hearing cases? 

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Does this Dome Make Me Look Bald?

The last gift that I can remember moving me to tears, is a 10-20mm Nikon lens, it is glorious.  And if I hold the camera just right, well there I am.  

What gift moved you to tears? 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The Way We Were Wednesday Walt Disney World

This was taken just a few months after Walt Disney World opened.  My family visited that first winter it was open.  The haunted mansion was one of my favorites, still is.  

What one element of this picture screams early 1970's to you? 

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

How To Be A Modern Prince(ss)

I buy cute little make the world happy books, I long have, I probably always will.  I recently read, How to be a Modern Princess.  It was focused on Meghan Markle, but many of the ideas apply to living well, and not letting anyone tell you, you can't do that.  Here are a few of my favorites. 

  • Be both interesting and interested. 
  • Expand your horizons; travel to far flung shores. 
  • Get good at giving inspiring speeches. 
  • Start your own blog and name it after your favorite Italian tipple. 
  • Love your food. 
  • Believe in fairytales.
  • Be an advocate for gender equality. 
  • Always be proud of who you are.
The first one is simple, tell your story and ask the other person to tell thiers. I have traveled and will continue to do so as long as I can.  Don't fear telling your story, tell others they can do anything they set their mind to and mean it.  Well, I didn't name my blog after a tipple, but I little birdy.  We are what we eat, if we don't love what we eat, how can we love ourselves.  I found my sweet prince. Why do we treat half of our population as second class citizens? Love yourself, warts and all we are the best us we can be.  

What would you add to the list? 

Monday, November 04, 2019

Mural Monday Ghostly Rome

I love this stuff. A church in the forum in Rome that was buried for 1,500 years.  

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Sunday Five - Telling Our Stories

As bloggers we tell our stories, describe what is important, what amazes us, angers us, makes us happy.  We describe the adventure that is our life.  Thinking about this I came up with this weeks Sunday five. 

1: If you wrote a book, would it be a comedy, love story, adventure, mystery, thriller, science fiction, or other? 
2: Is your life story, more fiction or nonfiction? 
3: Is the sound track of your life, classical, opera, rock and roll, hip-hop, folk, jazz, or other? 
4: Would it be nice to have more poetry or less poetry in your life? 
5: If you wrote a children's book, what would the title be? 

My Answers: 
1: If you wrote a book, would it be a comedy, love story, adventure, mystery, thriller, fiction, science fiction, or other? Mystery, living in this town - a spy story. 
2: Is your life story, more fiction or nonfiction? Non-fiction but no one would believe some the stuff I have done. 
3: Is the sound track of your life, classical, opera, rock and roll, hip-hop, folk, jazz, or other? Folk 
4: Would it be nice to have more poetry or less poetry in your life? More, I just wish it made sense to me. 
5: If you wrote a children's book, what would the title be? You Can Do Anything You Put Your Mind To. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, November 02, 2019

DC Then and Now

Way back in about 1978 my grandmother and I visited Washington DC, for both of us it was our first time.  She had been widowed just a couple of years, and had decided that she wanted to see places she had never seen.  She didn't feel comfortable driving long distances alone, so my middle brother or I would drive her in her car.  

She tired easily, so much of DC was a slow drive in the craziest traffic I had ever seen.  Early one morning I found a parking space near the Lincoln Memorial and we climbed the steps, up and down, she was quiet most of the rest of the day, nodding off in the car, it was a bit much for her.  We walked around Mt. Vernon.  The guard at Arlington Cemetery gave us a parking pass and let us drive around the grounds (I think today you have arrange that in advance - we just drove up.) There was very little security in DC at that time.  

I came back in the summer of 1991.  Drove into the city and stayed at the Holiday Inn near the Air and Space museum.  I walked the city, and saw everything I could.  At that time you could walk in any door in the Capital, and ride the underground subway between the capital and the congressional office buildings, no security, no metal detectors.  Today there are lots of metal detectors, and a lot of the underground passageways are off limits.  You can't wander around the capital at will, guided tours only today. (Unless you are a part of a congressional hearing in the capital, I did that once.)  

In 1991 I stood in line near the White House and picked up tickets for a same day tour.  Today you have to apply weeks in advance, supply information for a background check and hope and pray that you are granted permission for a tour of the White House (not that I would want to tour with the present occupant.) 

All of the museums now have visible security, many require you pass through a metal detector and have your belongings x-rayed.  Security at most federal office buildings makes a visit unpleasant at best, and sometimes simply impossible (if the person who invited you accidentally leaves you name off the list.) 

There are more museums today, virtually all of them free. Parking and traffic are as insane as ever.  Security is the most noticeable change.  

Have you been here? 

Friday, November 01, 2019

Life Before Google

I was raised before computers, when the library card catalog and a good encyclopedia were the source of the answers.  A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to wander around the Library of Congress, they stopped updating card catalog in 1980 (just three years after I finished high school.) It is still there, people were pulling the card for books they had published and having their picture taken with the card.  You can't do that with Google.  

Computer databases have changed research and scholarship.  The answers are faster and in some ways easier to find.  There are times when paging a few cards forward or back, or a few pages forward or back would find the perfect answer, that is hard to do on a computer.  And the answers we get in an online search are limited based on what is popular or highly rated, not always what is best.  I am working on a journal article, so far I have one paper book cited in a footnote, and about two dozen online citations.  My how things have changed in my lifetime. 

Did you go to school before Google?