Saturday, February 29, 2020

Happy Leap Day

The orbit around the sun is about 365 days - just a smidge over.  So every 4th year we get an extra day, to keep pace with our place in the solar orbit in the right place.  Enjoy your extra day this year.  Find your place in the sun.  

Friday, February 28, 2020

The Fine Line Between Casual and Lazy

For 15 years, I had jobs that required starched shirts and ties, every day, even when I was walking land, or doing quality checks on construction sites.  At one point I owned a closet full of tailored suits. My first job out of law school was much more casual, the dress code was please don't offend anyone, look like a lawyer when you need to, and beyond that we don't care.  My current job, is officially business casual, we tend to the casual side.  I can't get away with wearing the funny shirt, but I almost never wear a tie. 

Give the choice I would sooner be a slob, than wear a suit. 

And you? 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Phoenix - Scottsdale

A few weeks ago, Dr. Spo, lamented what to do on a weekend, and I suggested a drive out to South Mountain, to marvel in the views of the Valley of the Sun - Phoenix and Scottsdale.  When my family spent a winter in Phoenix in the mid 1960's, that was my father's favorite local get away.  Close by, easy to get to.  

I co-chair the education committee of a national professional organization, we just voted to go to Phoenix - Scottsdale for our 2022 annual conference.  I look forward to dinner with Spo and Someone, and to driving out the mountain to take in the views.  

Have you been there? 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The Way We Were Wednesday

This one goes back a long way, my Aunt Edith's wedding, I was the ring bearer in the wedding, I think I was 6 or 7 years old.  On the left is my paternal grandfather, he died when I was 18. To his right is his brother, by great-uncle Bud, near side on the right is his wife Marie - we found out late in her life she never had legal status in the US. In the background, in the blue dress is my paternal grandmother, seated at the table with the crisp white shirt and dark tie, with the nice tan, is my grandmother's brother, my great uncle John.  He as always a sharp dresser.  One or two people in this picture are still alive.  

I was very young, but I still remember shopping for the suit for the wedding, the church, and snippets of the reception.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

It's a Look

The year between moving to Kentucky and starting law school, I needed to something, I needed to work and pay taxes in the state so I would qualify for in-state tuition at a state university.  I applied for a couple of jobs, and the first one that asked me if I could start with was a big department store, and I was assigned to the ladies shoe department.  I spent 9 months selling ladies shoes.  One of the first things I notice is footwear.  

The rubber sandals, are a look I never quite understood, with socks even less so.  

It is a look, but is it a good look? 
Would you wear this? 

Monday, February 24, 2020

Music Monday - Young Man!

The things you see in Chicago, I think he is a professional . . . 

Who is your favorite? 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sunday Five - Retirement Plans

Sometime last year, I quietly marked the date on my office calendar with a note to not schedule any work after that date, a few months later I told my boss of my plans, then at our last board meeting I mentioned a new five year project and turned to a colleague and said, "you will need to finish that one out." That prompted a discussion about retirement - my office has four "professionals" three of the four will be retired in less than four years. And we really have no succession plan.  

Hence this weeks Sunday Five - retirement 

  1. Did you or are you planning for retirement? 
  2. Did or does you work have a plan for who would carry on the work after you? 
  3. Do you, or are you worried that you will miss work? 
  4. Do you, or do you plan to work part time after retirement? 
  5. Given the free time of retirement, what one thing do you want to do more of? 
My Answers: 

  1. Did you or are you planning for retirement? August 1, 2023, I have been saving since 1988. 
  2. Did or does your work have a plan for who would carry on the work after you? Not a clue.
  3. Do you, or are you worried that you will miss work? The closer I get, the less I think about this, there will be some adjustments, but I think I will find things to fill my time. 
  4. Do you, or do you plan to work part time after retirement? There are a few things I would like to do.  
  5. Given the free time of retirement, what one thing do you want to do more of? Travel. 
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Lincoln Memorial

There is an old joke, who is buried in Grants Tomb? Grant and his wife. Well no one is buried in the Lincoln Memorial, after a long train ride, his remains ended up in Springfield Illinois.  This photo is the side and back of the Lincoln Memorial. It is an impressive greek revival manse.  You can walk all the way around inside of the colonnade.  I understand that parts of the crypt are being opened to the public, something that was always intended, but never funded.  I need to go have a closer look see.  

I remember the first time I visited the Lincoln Memorial.  For a few years after my grandfather died, I drove my grandmother back and forth between Florida and Michigan.  She wanted to see places she had never seen, so we went to Washington DC one fall on our way south.  Early one morning I found a parking space near the Lincoln Memorial, we walked up the front steps, and back to the car.  The walk exhausted her, she was quiet for hours.  

Have you been there? 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Memorial Bridge

This photo is Memorial Bridge, as seen from the terrace at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Art.  The Bridge connects Arlington National Cemetery, to Washington DC coming in just behind the Lincoln Memorial.  The Bridge is nearing 100 years of age.  It is undergoing massive rebuilding, while remaining open to traffic nearly all of the time.  When the bridge was built there was significant boat traffic on the River, so the middle of it was a drawbridge.  The Metrorail bridge, built in the 1970's ended large boat traffic on this part of the river.  Still when plans were being made to rebuild this bridge there was a lengthy debate about restoring the lifting mechanism, as a part of the historic fabric of the bridge.  Despite the fact that it will never open for ship traffic again.  As I recall the compromise was that parts of the lift mechanism would be left in place, but not restored to working order.  

New sections of the bridge are being assembled on barges, floated into place, and installed.  

The long low rise building in the background, is the Pentagon.  Yes it is that large.

Thursday, February 20, 2020


I remember the first music classes in elementary school, probably 4th or 5th grade.  The teacher opened up the case of an upright piano and plucked the strings, to show what a Harpsichord might sound like, she played records of instruments country kids were unlikely to ever see or hear.  I was captivated by the sound of the Harpsichord.  Over the years I have seen a handful of them, heard one played a couple of times for just a minute or two.  

Mt. Vernon has purchased a recreation of the one that George Washington bought for his family.  It is on a concert tour here in the DC area.  We recently had tickets for 90 minutes of amazing music.  

Have you heard one played live? 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Way We Were Wednesday

My sister Karen, appearing to not be happy with my father, who had a look of non-reaction - as he always did.  This was in the kitchen of the old farm house.  I remember when my grandparents fought over hanging that wallpaper - to an extent that my grandmother exiled my grandfather while she finished the job alone.  I wonder what my sister was wound up about? 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Tips for Less Exhausting Air Travel

By special request, here are my tips for making air travel less exhausting.  

  • Avoid early morning flights.  The challenge of an 8:00 AM flight, is needing to be at the airport at 6:00 AM, which means being up at 4:00 or 5:00 AM, which means a sleepless night the night before, meaning you start out the trip being exhausted.  
  • Avoid overnight flights, and if you take one, don't plan on sleeping on the plane unless you normally sleep sitting up in the living room with the television playing and a marching band going in and out of the room all night. My boss actually gave me this tip, take a book, plan to read most of the night,  when you arrive in the morning, don't plan anything except taking a long nap.  
  • Late evening flights sometimes work, sometimes don't.  I only schedule them if they are non-stop, maybe an hour in length, and when I get to the other end I am headed to bed.  The last flight of the night - where the plane will spend the night and fly out the next morning - is likely to fly - even if delayed.  
  • I prefer middle of the morning flights.  After the early morning rush, where I can sleep until a normal time and still be at the airport on time.  
  • Get to the airport early, two hours on domestic and longer on international.
  • Check a bag, hauling bags through the airport is a pain. 
  • Sign up for TSA pre-check, this speeds up security, and reduces the stress a little. 
  • Be prepared for security.  Put everything, keys, wallets, phones, change, in your carry on (my daily messenger bag.) If you are not in Pre-Check, be prepared to take off your shoes and coat.  I even take off my watch and belt and stuff them in my bag, so all I need to do is run the bag through the X-ray machine.  
  • If you set off the alarms, for having something in your pocket on the body scanner, or the metal detector in Pre-Check, the process is more invasive, more stressful. Avoid this by knowing the rules and being careful.  
  • Don't panic if you are selected for additional screening, or they want to look in your bag.  It only take a couple of minutes and if you are at the airport two hours before flight time, you have time.   
  • Seat selection matters, I am right handed, I want to be on the right side if I am in a window seat, or the left side of the aisle in an aisle seat, so that my dominant arm is not bumping into the person next to me. Avoid middle seats if possible.  
  • Surrender control.  Once you are at the airport, most of what happens is beyond your control, go with the flow.  Fighting for control will exhaust you. 
  • Be nice to the airline staff, I have been spontaneously upgraded, a few times.  
  • If something goes wrong, be nice.  The people trying to help you, wish just as much as you do, that things were on time.  Ask politely, what are my options? Is there anything we can do to get me there? 
  • Once seated, settle in, read or watch videos.  I find that daylight helps, I try to get a window shade open so I can watch the world pass by.  
What is your tip for easier travel? 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Music Monday - Be Proud

Always believe in yourself, in what you can do, in how you can make the world a better place. 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday Five - Bones

There is a bone museum on the tourist strip in Orlando, I visited the gift shop and skipped the museum.  

  1. Have you ever broken a bone? 
  2. If you could would you be taller, shorter, or stay just the way you are? 
  3. Have you ever collected animal bones? 
  4. Do bones creep you out? 
  5. Have you ever seen a great bone collection in an anthropology or natural history museum? 
My Answers: 

  1. Have you ever broken a bone? No
  2. If you could would you be taller, shorter, or stay just the way you are? It would be nice to be 2 inches taller.  
  3. Have you ever collected animal bones? I had a deer skull when I was a kid. My father had a friend with a deer hunting lodge in northern Michigan, I spotted it hanging on a tree, and Bob retrieved it and gave it to me.  I kept it in a shoe box for years, I have no idea what happened to it.  
  4. Do bones creep you out? Not really. 
  5. Have you ever seen a great bone collection in an anthropology or natural history museum? The natural history Museum at Oxford is amazing. 

Please share your answers in the comments.  

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Airport Hotels

I am always afraid I am going to be late to the airport, and miss a flight.  When I get in after a long day of travel, late at night, the only thing I want to do is go to sleep.  About 20 years ago, we had an early morning flight from Gatwick and Jay made reservations for a hotel attached to the terminal for the night before.  It was so much less stressful than staying in the city and trying to get to the airport for a 8 AM check in for a 10 AM flight.  I started doing the same.  

The hotel above is not much to look at from the outside, but it is 3 minutes from the terminal at Heathrow.  On the trip we stayed there, we took a daytime flight from DC to London, leaving at 9 AM and arriving at 9 PM (21:00.) I booked this hotel for the first night and then we went on into London the next morning.  On the way back, we stayed at the same hotel the night before our flight home.  (A Holiday Inn.) 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Valentines Day

Something like 28 years ago, we met, at an off campus party hosted by another professor.  Jay was there with someone else, I was alone, just peaking out of of the closet door.  A few months later we bumped into one another on campus and traded business cards.  I called a day or so later and asked him out to dinner (Olive Garden.) 

What can I say, the rest is history.  We still like one another, enjoy spending time with one another.  We laugh at one another jokes.  We are kind to one another. We understand one another's weaknesses and don't exploit them.  We are still in love.  

I hope you are in love, or that you find love, a relationship that makes two people happy.  

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Still Life

I am always amazed at what can be made simply from glass.  Amazing material, spectrum of colors, seemingly unending shapes.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Way We Were Wedneday

It took a minute to figure out what is happening here, not the four of us playing Monopoly, that is easy, the odd reflection. This is an accidental double exposure.  The panelled walls in the background were in the house at the farm, the window blinds are from Edith and Dicks house on the lake.  I suspect that the first image was the living room at the farm, there is a Christmas tree in there, and then a second exposure of the living room at Eddie and Dick's lays over that.  

You can't see my face, I am standing at the opposite side of the table.  I still have the watch I was wearing.  My first Timex.  It no longer works (I think the mainspring is broken.) It was my first watch.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

East Coasting

Since moving to DC, I have become an east coaster.  I pop up and down the east coast from Boston to Florida.  Very much an Atlantic thing.  I was born and lived much of my life in the middle of the country, away from the two coasts, hours away.  

I would love to see more of the Pacific, but it is a long journey to get there.  As a friend once pointed out, it only take a couple of hours more to fly to London, than it does to San Francisco from here.  

What coast do you identify with? 

Monday, February 10, 2020

Music Monday - Happy Monday

Do something everyday that scares the crap out of you, or that others say can't be done.  

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Sunday Five - Pets

So many things going on in this picture, the dog print, the rainbow ribbon, 2 daddies, the reflection of my orange shoes (I bought a pair in fluorescent yellow for next spring.) Let's talk about pets. 

1: What kind, if any pets do you currently keep? 
2: If forced to chose, cats or dogs? 
3: Do you trust other people's dogs? 
4: Ever had a cat climb up your arm in terror? 
5: How do you feel about Daddies? 

My answers: 
1: What kind, if any pets do you currently keep? Inanimate ones only. 
2: If forced to chose, cats or dogs? Jay is allergic to cats, but I really like their independence. 
3: Do you trust other people's dogs? I have learned to, very slowly let the dog come to me. 
4: Ever had a cat climb up your arm in terror? Yes, never pet a cat while it is eating. 
5: How do you feel about Daddies? Never my thing, and I have reached the age of being more of a grandpa figure. 

Please share your answers in the comments.  

Saturday, February 08, 2020

Passenger Trains in Virginia

The state recently announce a multi year, multi billion dollar investment in passenger rail in Virginia.  There are two major parts to this.  One is buying rights of way, for two dedicated passenger tracks, running north and south across the state.  The right of way is there, much of it controlled by freight rail.  On parts of it, the tracks exist, some needing updating. On other parts the tracks need to be built. This will give passenger service priority over freight on those tracks, reducing delays.  The other major part is building a new rail bridge across the Potomac River from Virginia to DC. The existing bridge is over 100 years old, and two tracks wide.  It is shared with freight rail, limiting the number of passenger trains that can pass that way.  A new two track bridge will be built parallel to it, providing capacity and redundancy.   

One of the outcomes of this will be the ability to increase capacity on the VRE commuter trains.  There is a VRE station, about a mile from the Condo.  VRE really helped bridge the gap for me last summer while the subway lines were down for major rebuilding.  

Friday, February 07, 2020

Couldn't resist reposting this.

Please, let us not. Literally I will vote for any mentally stable adult.  

Thursday, February 06, 2020


Bars, Music, T-Shirt and Junk Stores, welcome to downtown Nashville.   It is fun in the kitchy touristy kind of way, not unlike International Drive in Orlando, Bourbon Street in New Orleans, or Las Vegas Avenue. I find it fun for a short time.  I have little desire for the mass produce junk that most of the shops sell.  There are a few too many drunks on the sidewalk, and the music while sometimes fun, is generally to loud, and often to heterocentric for me to find it entertaining.  I know there are gay men in Nashville, my ex's first ex lives there.  

Glad I went - not in a hurry to go back. 

What places leave you feeling that way?   

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

The Way We Were Wednesday

I have no idea where this was taken.  This is my mother and my oldest brother - his red hair bright and clear.  He appears to be newly walking.  The hills don't look like Michigan, they made a trip to New York when he was very young, I thought older than this.  I suspect this was in Pennsylvania on that trip. At the end of World War II my father was posted to Army bases in New York and New Jersey, he had friends in that area that they went to visit a few times.  

Hard to believe my brother is about 70.  

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Are Your Signals Favorable

From 1987 through late 1990, I worked for a huge land developer, and building company in central Florida.  The division I worked for covered three counties in central Florida and our gross sales were regularly in excess of $100-million-dollars a year - in 1990 dollars. 

One year we were working a very large land deal, about $10-million for the raw land - a commitment of an equal amount to develop it - a $200- $300 million dollar build out over 2-5 years, likely $30-40 million in profit.  Smaller deals seldom go smoothly, large ones almost never go smoothly.  After months of chasing details the deal was set to close, the day before the seller decided it had to close in their office in Miami, not our office in Orlando.  Paperwork was rerouted, airline tickets and rental cars booked.  

The next morning the division manager responsible for the deal, overslept, had a flat tire on his car, arrived at the airport barely in time to make his flight.  He looked down and realized he had on one brown shoe and one black shoe.  He made the call. To many things had already gone bad that day, it was not going to happen. He rescheduled for the following week, when people had time to plan and be ready.  The deal closed smoothly the following week. 

Shortly after the deal closed, a tech company announced plans to build a plant 2 minutes away to make microchips for the defense industry, hiring a couple thousand engineers and technicians. Prices and values went up 25% overnight.  I left before the project closed out - but I understand it was sweet all the way to the end.  

The division manager told that story, and impressed on us, that if the signals are not good, it is okay to stop, regroup and try again another day.  

Monday, February 03, 2020

Music Monday - What A Wonderful World

Second and third years of law school, I rented a small efficiency apartment near the campus. The University was 82 miles from home, renting the apartment saved me 12 hours a week of driving.  The apartment was intentionally spartan, I could cook, take a shower, study and sleep, and that was about it.  No TV, no internet, no telephone.  I had a cell phone, but reception was spotty at best.  I had a CD player and two radios.  In the mornings I would click on an anthology CD of upbeat music, when Louis Armstrong sang What a Wonderful World, it was about time for me to head to class.  

Do you use music to help maintain your mood? 

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Sunday Five - Public Transit old and new

One of the reasons I want to live in the DC area, was to have access to a mass transit system, so I would not have to cuss in traffic every day.  I love it, the last time I drove to the office was May 4th, 2015, not that I am counting or anything.  

1: The top picture is one of the older Metrorail cars with carpeting, the bottom picture is a newer car with hard surface flooring. Should they have kept the carpet?
2: Facing forward or facing backwards, does it matter to you?
3: If you had (or have) access to a rail system, would you continue to drive or take the trains? 
4: Do you like the old color scheme or the new color scheme? 
5: How is the traffic where you live? 

My answers:
1: The top picture is one of the older Metrorail cars with carpeting, the bottom picture is a newer car with hard surface flooring. Should they have kept the carpet? I was a fan of the carpet, but I have to admit the hard surface floor are cleaner. 
2: Facing forward or facing backwards, does it matter to you? Either way these days. 
3: If you had (or have) access to a rail system, would you continue to drive or take the trains?  I take the train if it is going near where I need to be.
4: Do you like the old color scheme or the new color scheme? I liked the warmer colors.  
5: How is the traffic where you live? Terrible. 

Please leave your answer in the comments. 

Random Things on my Desk

A stack of journals, I had an article published in that issue. A calculator - yes I still use one.  A mug of pens and markers, one with plastic forks and spoons - I usually eat lunch at my desk while working, the dreaded phone with a headset - 20 years of using a phone headset I don't feel comfortable without it.  Lady Justice has a clock in the base, I found that in a catalog about the time I was setting my first post law school office.  Beyond that, you can see the edge of a micrometer.  A precision measuring device, both of our fathers used them in their work, that one was from Jay's father's tool box.  Beyond that you can just see the ends of the jaws of an alligator head.  A real one - a reminder of 20 years living in the swamps of Florida.  The Yellow sign says "Gone For The Day"it is always on my desk.  I see the corners of a couple of awards bestowed on me over the years, and hanging on the lamp a greek evil eye catcher.  Many of these things tell a story, mostly I am the only one who knows the story. 

What's in your work space?