Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Woop - woop- woop- woop

 I have traveled in a helicopter a couple of times, it is a near magical experience.  Yes they are noisy, and they vibrate a bit, but they just sort of levitate. It is a very different experience.  When you get the chance, spend the couple-hundred dollars and take the ride.  

I saw a new story recently of a passenger carrying electric drone, that is nearing being ready to go to market.  Would I ride in one?  Yes, I think I might. Would you? 


Monday, October 18, 2021

My Music Monday: The best Piano performance ever! -Victor Borge

A year or so before she got married the first time, back in 1977, my sister moved into an apartment that was at the top of a long stairway with a couple of sharp turns.  My memory is that it was sort of an open two or three story foyer in the building and she was at the top of a stairway that snaked around the space.  Her then boy-toy, much later to be her ex-husband helped her move.  When it was over he remarked, "thank god she didn't own a grand piano." It is the most remarkable thing I ever recall hearing him say.  

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Sunday Five - Well I Wonder

Happy Anniversary to my sweet bear.  29 years and he still makes me happy, makes me laugh, helps me love.  

Five off the wall questions this week:

I saw a t-shirt recently that read "Cryogenics are Cool." That got me to thinking you don't hear about people wanting to freeze their bodies or heads anymore for reanimation later. 

1: If you could, would you freeze your parts after death, and if so what parts? 

2: Have you made your holiday fruitcakes yet? And if not, why not? 

3: What would you like Santa to bring you for being a good little girl or boy? 

4: Have you started your end of the year holiday shopping yet? Anyone finished? 

5: Do you still have music from your teens, in your active collection of music? 

My Answers: 

1: If you could, would you freeze your things after death, and if so what parts?  No, one life is enough. 

2: Have you made your holiday fruitcakes yet? And if not, why not? The are aging in booze (no-rubbish) in the refrigerator. 

3: What would you like Santa to bring you for being a good little girl or boy?  Opportunities to be a bad boy next year. 

4: Have you started your end of the year holiday shopping yet? Anyone finished? Groan, no, but I should. 

5: Do you still have music from your teens, in your active collection of music? As I was listening to this, Chicago was playing, an album I owned in the 70's when it was new music.  

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, October 16, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - The Routine Things in Life

Prior to the industrial revolution, things like bottles and jugs to hold liquids, such as good Bourbon - no rubbish, were produced by local artisans and craftsmen.  Most were routine, simple, utilitarian.  But not all.  Some were different, expressing whimsy, or artistic flair.  The same for clothes, why should socks be simple solid colors, why should underwear be white? The routine things in life need not be boring.  

The jug above is a reproduction of a storage container from the Colonial period in the USA.  These are variously called, whimsey, or uglies, or character jugs.  All of these describe what was basically a routine utilitarian item, made to look interesting, exciting, entertaining, or maybe a warning, drink the contents and this is what you will end up looking like.  I like this.  A comment on words, in United States English, a jug is a storage container with a tight fitting lid or stopper, in British english a jug is a container you store and pour a liquid from, often open on top with no intentional closure, in the USA we most commonly refer to that as a pitcher.   

When I was growing up and bottling honey on the farm we had a choice of simple round mass produced glass, or specialty glass, made for honey.  The classic "queenline" jars made by Owens Corning cost a couple pennys more, but the shape like the thorax of a queen bee, I felt it evoked thoughts of sweet goodness.  Given the choice, I always preferred the  queenline jars. They came in a variety of sizes from 8 ounce, to three pounds. I think there may have been a five pound that we never used.  While not a quirky as the Ugly Jug above, they did have character.  They were not routine and boring.  

Life is too short for the routine things in life to be boring. 

Friday I woke up early, started work early, slipped away for an hour in the afternoon, I am now fully vaccinated and boosted. My office is imposing a vaccine mandate.  90% are already fully vaccinated, the rest have a few weeks to either ask for and have approved a waiver, or get vaccinated, or leave.  I agree with it, it is time to get serious,  

Friday, October 15, 2021

Foodie Friday - Real Maple Syrup

One of the things European settlers learned from the native peoples of north America, people who had thrived for eons before "discovery" was that the sap of a maple tree, when boiled down and condensed yields a delightful natural sweetener.  Real maple syrup or maple sugar is very labor intensive, and the yield is very unpredictable, the flow of sap at the right time of the year is highly dependent on the weather being just right.  You have to have the right trees, at the right time of the year, with just the right combination of cold nights and warm days, to produce.  Then there is a lot of work in gathering and hours spent boiling down.  

Hence it is expensive.  At my local farmers market $14 for a 12 fluid ounce bottle.  I can buy it at Trader Joes for less, and TJs is good, very good.  But the seller at the local market is a small family producer, semi local (within 100 miles.) And he offers a variety of grades, I like the dark amber, it has a deeper almost burned taste that I have always liked.  And the color is kind of pretty in the morning sun.  I have an extra bottle in the pantry, to tide me through the winter.  

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Thursday Rambles : What is on My Mind

Oh my, it is mid October all ready!  Locally we are just starting to pick up a little fall color in the trees, a few leaves starting to slowly fall.  It looks like the complete leaf drop will be late, there have been years when it was late November, this might be one of them.  

The condo I live in is in one of four high rise towers, on top of a hill. There was a small kitchen fire on the 15th floor of the building across from us one evening recently. No one was hurt and damage was described as minimal.  The fire department response was described as "overwhelming."  At one point there were no less than 15 emergency vehicles between the two buildings, plus whatever was behind that building.  There were at least three ladder/snorkel trucks capable of reaching the rooftop.  Fires on high floors are the greatest challenge, the greatest threat.  I would much sooner see an over response than an under response.  Yes, my property taxes are high, but we get what we pay for.  

I am under consideration for promotion to replace my boss who is retiring early next year.  There are those who think it is a done deal.  I am taking a very careful approach.  I trust those who are making the decision to make the choice that is best for the organization. I would, will be, honored to serve, and I will give it my all, but if the best interest of the project is someone else, I will be fine with that.  

I received a wonderful complement, from someone who probably had no idea I would ever read the comment.  I worked with another state to draft a grant proposal, and my office was included as a subcontractor for a nice amount of money.  It was a competitive bid process, with outside reviewers scoring the proposals.  I have served as a reviewer on those a few times, it is a real evaluative process. The proposal was selected for funding (good news this will keep me well funded for the next year.) 

The reviewers comments, good and bad, were sent to the grantee, who shared them with us.  One comment described the issue as complex with a real need for change, and then went on to say that the proposed work plan included three of the best researchers and thinkers in the field, my name was included as one of those three names.  It is on a topic and an issue that I have spent thousands of hours reading, listening and thinking about, and someone thinks I am headed in the right direction.  It is a topic that my understanding, and recommendations on have changed dramatically over the past 10 years. Someone noticed.  I hope I can live up to their confidence. (And I just deleted a paragraph expressing my "imposter syndrome" fears.) 

We have a major project to finish in the office, one that is a few months behind schedule, so my normally quiet after mid-October through the end of the year office life, is going to be replaced with laboring away until New Years this year.  The delay was an unexpected twist, that forced us to pause for a couple of months at a critical time to wait for an outside research approval.  But still we committed to being done, and one way or another we will.  

Like the leaf suspended in mid air?  It was caught on spider silk, suspended in mid air.  I have walked trails hundreds of times in the last 18 months, and this is the best, most dramatic suspended in mid air I have seen.  I am glad I was looking up, saw it, and stopped to take pictures.   

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Pateley Bridge in Yorkshire

For decades, Jay took part in a conference every four years at Oxford University.  A world wide gathering of scholars, and a great reason to go to England at least once every four years. The second time I went with him, we added a week, rented a house in Pateley Bridge in Yorkshire, and were joined by two dear friends who live in north London.  Stephen grew up in Yorkshire.  His parents were still alive and living in the home he grew up when we were there.  We visited with them, and went out to dinner with them.  (Sweet and delightful people.) Duncan and Stephen rented a car and drove, we got off into the back roads in heather and moors of Yorkshire. 

That trip was the start of sheep being a recurring theme in my life.  They are so peaceful and fluffy! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Public Transit

 One of the major reasons Washington DC was on my list of acceptable places to live, is it has a good public transit system, specifically a subway system.  The DC system has a few flaws, they have no schedule,  if you ask about a schedule they will tell you their target time for frequency of trains, but they have no schedule and no real idea when any train will arrive or depart any station in the system!  It is two track system, with no real bypasses, so if something stops the flow of traffic on a rail line, things go all kinds of wrong.  Some of the staff are surely, some angry, uncaring, - enough of them to staff to give the staff a bad image.  Actually many of them are delightful, caring, kind, I have had them hold the train and re-open the doors as I was emerging from an escalator onto the platform at the airport late at night. 

When I travel, if there is a subway or train system, I try to use it.  The photos above are from New York City in August.  NYC has an old system, most of it is shallow created with cut and cover. There are some deep sections, my great grandfather work on building some of those.  Many of the stations are dirty and grim.  They are not just old, they are ugly.  Because of the age and the shallowness much of the system has only stairs to access the platforms, and if you enter on the wrong side, you likely have to go back to street level, cross the street and reenter the system to get to the other platform (in all of the DC stations you can change directions or platforms without exiting the station.) The interior of the cars in New York are designed to hold the maximum number of people, in the minimum level of comfort. Hard plastic seating down both sides, lots of standing space.  The DC system has a lot more seating and the seating is much more comfortable.  The original DC cars had deeply padded leather seating and carpeted floors. 

The Photos below are of the DC system.  Come visit, I have an extra metro card you can borrow.  


Monday, October 11, 2021

Music Monday - Sometimes we need to break the rules

Watching this I had to think, that is not how this is done, that is not how people are taught to play the guitar, how wonderful that he breaks from the norm, breaks the rules 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

The Sunday Five - Caution

 Have fun with this one:

1: Do you stop and look both ways before crossing the street? 

2: Do you read the instructions for new appliances before using them? 

3: Do you read the terms and conditions before clicking accept? 

4: Have you ever bought "trip insurance?" 

5: Do you set the parking brake / hand brake on your car? 

My answers: 

1: Do you stop and look both ways before crossing the street? A close call in London, and yes, like this deer, I stop and look in both directions before safely crossing the street (yes the deer made it across.) 

2: Do you read the instructions for new appliances before using them? They come with instructions? 

3: Do you read the terms and conditions before clicking accept? Seldom.

4: Have you ever bought "trip insurance?" Only a couple of times in my life.  

5: Do you set the parking brake / hand brake on your car? No, they must work the cars pass an annual safety inspection that requires that brake to work.  

Please share your answers in the comments.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - Practice - Practice- Practice

There is an old joke about a young man with a cello case walking up to a stranger in Times Square carrying a violin case and asking, "how do you get to Carnegie Hall?"  And the stranger answers, "practice! practice! practice!" 

I am reading a book by a professor of photography titled "Zen Camera"his opening chapter says two interesting things.  Please take at least 10-12 weeks to read this book, read the segments, and go practice what is explained, then come back and read the next section.  He acknowledges that many will read the entire book through, he urges his readers to come back after that, read a section and spend a week or two practicing what is talked about, and then pick another section.  In his first lessons, he urges his readers to go out and capture at least 200 images a week.  At first don't be critical, don't edit, photograph whatever catches your eye. Become at one with your camera, and it does not matter what that camera is, your phone, or a Hasselblad you should use it so much that it feels like a part of your being.  In simple words, practice! practice! practice! 

I am reading a book about improving your writing titled "If You Want To Write." (Yes I have more than one book going at the same time.) This book is an oldy, but still very valid. How old is the book, minimum wage for women was 50-cents an hour when it was published.  She says, if you want to write, you have to write.  She urges her readers to write everyday.  Even if it is bad, put words on paper.  Even if it is riddled with errors, commit it to paper and edit later.  Her guidance is to avoid perfectionism, the time spent perfecting a sentence or a paragraph, is time that could have generated the sentence of a lifetime that needed no editing.  She would contend that you are not serious about being a writer, unless you practice! practice! practice! at least a little everyday.  Getting started is harder than keeping going.  

Over the past 18 months I have revived my love of photography, I am probably close to that 200 a week average, a little below.  I am reading books on technique, watching YouTube videos on technique and philosophy of photography as a form of artistic expression.  It takes work, it takes practice, lots of practice.  

I recently updated my resume, and realized that my list of published professional articles from the past three years, was two pages long.  Some of them are short, a couple of them are solo efforts published in peer reviewed professional journals (major pains in the brain.) Some of the 1,500 word items have gotten read by people we would love to influence. A couple of weeks ago I had an email from a staff person for a rather infamous Senator, that said "Senator ____ read your article titled ______ and found it immensely helpful." She asked for a half hour of my time to allow me to expand on the things I had said (on the need for reform of adult guardianship in the USA.)  A few years ago I was reading a bill that had been filed in Congress, and a sentence seemed familiar.  I copied and searched a couple of things I had published, and found that sentence copied and pasted word for word, into proposed legislation. That is exactly what I had hoped when I wrote it. The bill didn't pass, but it was filed.  

So what does that have to do with this blog and today's theme of practice, practice, practice?  Writing for this blog is part of my practice to improve my writing.  The commitment that I made to myself to publish everyday, was part of an effort to improve my writing, to make myself more comfortable with writing. I had read, if you want to be a better writer, write everyday, practice! practice! practice!  

And when you see the young musician in Times Square, capture that photo, you never know when it is going to the perfect image.    

Friday, October 08, 2021

Foodie Friday - Fried Corn

This starts as most good cooking does, with peel and chop an onion.  For this the onion can be roughly chopped or minced or anything in between.  Chop up a sweet pepper if your digestion will tolerate it. Saute the onion in butter.  Add the pepper and chopped or sliced mushrooms.  How many, a nice bunch.  Take two or three or four ears of fresh corn, (frozen would work) cut the corn off the cob.  To do that, peel the husk off, remove the silks, stand the ear on its end, and slice down the side, turning the cob, it takes half a dozen or so cuts per ear. Fresh will always give the best flavor.  

Add the cut corn to the onion, peppers and mushrooms, turn the heat to medium, add more butter if needed, and fry until the corn is done, preferably until it starts to pick up some dark color (caramelization of the sugars in the corn add flavor.)  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot as a delightful side dish, it can also be used as an ingredient in Mexican inspired dishes.  

My mother never did anything like this. Vegetables were boiled, always boiled.  Roasting, frying, even steaming changes the flavor profile so it is not just the same old same old.  

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Thursday Ramble - Busy Little Bee

My but I seem to be staying busy lately.  I had a couple of long days, starting early and running late.  I am not a night person.  I often go stretch out on my big fluffy bed at 9:00 PM, and I am usually asleep within moments of turning off the distractions.  I am lucky there, Jay often struggles with getting to sleep.  And he is not a morning person, it is rare for him to be up before daylight, or before me.  

I am awake at 6:00 most mornings.  It is rare for me to sleep until 7:00 AM. One morning recently I decided not to get out of bed, I opened up the bedside computer and read blogs, bringing a gentle rapping on my door about 8:30 asking if I was awake and okay.  Bedside computer, I keep my chromebook, on the side of the bed, for checking email and web-surfing. It is perfect.  

The battery is failing in my IPad, my living room computer.  In the past it would hold a charge for 3 or 4 days, now it is about two days, and when doing intense work it drops like a rock. My first tablet was an early Kindle Fire (pre-ordered, delivered a couple of days before the official release date,) then an android; the IPad outperforms all of them.  I will probably buy another one.  I just need to make time to run by the Apple store.  I also need to replace my phone, I need to find an hour to run to the Verizon store, then get with the office IT guy and make sure it has everything I need to remote into the office.  Time will come. 

It is fall, the tomatoes at the farmers market have lost that ripe summer flavor, a sign that it is getting colder at night.  We are still probably a month from the first frost.  

A couple more busy weeks, then I have a conference scheduled.  And a few days of vacation time.  Then back to the grind until the end of the year holidays.  I will be a busy little bee most of the rest of the year.  




Wednesday, October 06, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Space Shuttle

 When I was in high school, my parents bought a house in a small city across the river from the Kennedy Space Center.  I was living there as the space shuttle project was being developed.  By the time of the first launch I was working in Orlando, but I could drive to my parents house on the coast in less than an hour, and I often went over and spent the night, especially when they were out of town in the summer.  

I was there standing on the banks of the river for the first shuttle launch.  I actually went twice for it, the first time the count was down to mere seconds and shut down.  On the second try, it went.  You see it, before you hear it, you hear it before you feel it.  And Yes, you feel it, from 10 miles away you feel the vibration, the pulse of the immense power.  As the program progressed, you could get passes to get close, out on the barrier island, within 5 miles or so of the launch site.  The most spectacular were night launches.  

I was working in Orlando when the Challenger exploded.  The window in my office faced the wrong direction, I was talking with a client on the phone whose office faced east.  He simply said, "something is not right, I will call you back and hung up."  I stepped outside looked east and could see the vapor trails crossed in ways they had never crossed before, and ending, just sort of stopping in the sky rather than extending over the horizon.  This was before the internet, we didn't have television in the offices, I was glued to the radio.  It was several days before work resumed, before we picked up that phone call where it left off.  

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Business trip add ons

I have been fortunate to have done business travel to over 40 states, and Canada, and to have accompanied J on business travel to England, Italy and Greece.  Not everyplace I have gone was a place I wanted to go, a couple of them I will gladly never go back to (though the host and audience in Fayetteville North Carolina were warm, welcoming, wonderful, the location had few redeeming qualities.) 

I was asked to do an hour in New Hampshire one fall.  I hadn't been there.  I immediately said yes, you buy the airline ticket and pay the hotel bill and I will be there.  When I started planning, I added a couple of days to the trip, renting a car at my own expense, adding hotels for my pleasure.  I drove into Vermont and spent the night, then another day to drive through Vermont and New Hampshire, rode the cog-railway to the top of Mt Washington.  I was on the agenda early in the day, with a late afternoon flight home.  I had time to drive to Maine for lunch on my way.  

That trip took me places, to see and do things I had never done before.  I fulfilled the work mission, and added on a little to widen my life's experience. 

I know an academic, who teaches here in the USA. Every couple of years there is a conference in Rome.  He brags about teaching on Thursday, taking an overnight flight to Rome, attending the conference all day on Friday and Saturday and flying back to the USA on Sunday, so he can teach his Monday classes.  Honestly, he is crazy in more ways than one.  

When you get a chance to travel for work, add to it.  I had a consulting contract with a national aging organization for a few years.  The last couple of years they decided that business travel couldn't be combined with personal travel, no adding a day on, you need to fly in at the last minute and take the first flight out when the work was done.  I didn't really enjoy that last season.   

Monday, October 04, 2021

My Music Monday - Chariots of Fire - Vangelis

The photos above are Henry Ford's fiddle, when you have that kind of money you can fiddle around with a Stradivarius.  I dare say the music he made with that instrument would surprise many.  The video today, the theme from Chariots of Fire. I don't think I have ever seen the entire movie. If this music didn't stir my heart, I would consult a physician. 

Sunday, October 03, 2021

The Sunday Five - the last quarter of 2021

It is the beginning of the 4th quarter of 2021, my management training says it is time to double check on progress. How are we doing on what we planned to do this year.  Hence this weeks Sunday five. 

1: How many books have you read this year and how does that compare to what you had planned? 

2: How are you doing on staying active this year? 

3: Have you learned anything new this year? 

4: Are you staying in touch with family and friends as you had hoped this year? 

5: How are you doing on blogging, writing, reading or commenting? 

My answers: 

1: How many books have you read this year and how does that compare to what you had planned? My goal was 24 books, I have finished 48 so far.  

2: How are you doing on staying active this year? I did really well, until I returned to the office.  Office days I find it harder to make time, and the gym is still scary, I need to work on that.  

3: Have you learned anything new this year? Yes, a few new birds, and plants, a lot about people. 

4: Are you staying in touch with family and friends as you had hoped this year? My goal was at least one per week, I am probably a little below that, but I have made a better effort than years gone by.  

5: How are you doing on blogging, writing, reading or commenting? I haven't missed a day of posting, I have added some new daily reads, lost a couple of daily reads, if I read, I likely comment at least once a week.  

Please share your answers in the comments. 


Saturday, October 02, 2021

Saturday Morning Post - Any News?

As I recall there is an old curse that says something like "may you live in interesting times."  Isn't safe, stable, secure really what most of us want out of life.  To get through with the minimum of stress and disruption.  

So any news in my life?  My boss has officially set a retirement date, given notice.  I have real mixed feelings about it, I hate to see him go, he is a joy to work with, I also wish him great joys, he is a few years older than I and this will free him up to spend time with his kids and grandkids, to do the things that he wants to do and say - without worrying about complying with policy. 

This also opens the possibility of me moving into his position.  That would/will add responsibilities, most of them administrative and reporting.  I am the logical choice. And yes, I will ask for the promotion.  The burden with that is a bunch of extra training, becoming responsible for budgets, personnel supervision but that is fairly easy with a good and experienced department staff.   

I am in the midst of a very intense work period.  I produce a major conference, that is next week - virtual again this year.  And we have a large research project that will fill a lot of hours between now and the end of the year.  I am also doing a good job of balance.  Not turning my office email on when I am not working, not spending time at work looking at FB, my phone, or my blog.  

Oh, and we got word this week that a huge new project has been funded, one that will fill all of my spare working hours for the next 12 months or more. It is a two year project.  

So there could be huge changes for me in the first quarter of 2022.   

Friday, October 01, 2021

Foodie Friday - Sausage Fantasies

I live in a highrise condo, a flat or apartment in a 15 story building, I own the apartment, a fraction of the overall building. Space is somewhat limited, the kitchen needs replacing, but we will be limited by the space within the four walls, and it will always be a tight space.  It just is.  Because of local fire code, we can't cook, or have a grill or smoker on the terrace, it is simply not allowed.  

So what does all of that have to do with sausages? I can and a few times have experimented with sausage making, but I am limited to fresh sausages, I don't have space for drying, or the ability to smoke meats.  In my fantasy world, I would be able to start with half a pig, break it down into the tasty bits, make sausage and cure hams.  I don't have the heart to dispatch the animal, I would leave that to others, but taking the primary cuts, a quarter or half and working from there fascinates me.  

I have thought about doing a semester at a culinary school, just to get the training in the basics.  I have an ex-brother-in-law who was a CIA graduate (Culinary Institute of America) who went to work for Disney. He spent the first two years at Disney cutting steaks and making burgers. Once he had proven himself he moved on and the last I knew he was head chef in one of Disney's most expensive restaurants.  

I mentioned recently on my Thursday Ramble, the Fermented Pig, a local artisanal sausage and bacon maker.  There is a specialty butcher shop not far away, that I should overcome my fear of the lack of parking and visit more often.  

If I won the lottery (and I won't because I don't buy tickets) I would enjoy having a place in the country, with a space the indulge in some of my fantasies sausages being one of them.    

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Thursday Ramble: Exhausting at Times

 Almost every day, I make a decision at least once, of how much I disclose, what are the risks, is this a safe place.  I specifically mentioned Jay in an email to a person at work that I interact with a couple of times a month.  He replied that he finally understood that Jay is my husband.  I knew that he had one, I had apparently been ambiguous to the point that he had never understood. 

When talking about the love of my life, do I say my husband, do I say my spouse, do I say something even more ambiguous.  

What pronoun do I use when describing my spouse.  Is it safe to say he is my husband, or is this person going to judge me, or treat me differently because I am who I am, and I love the person I love.  

I was closeted as a teenager, I figured it out in my early teens, I was making progress in self acceptance with help from a skilled counselor at school, then she left and the mother of one of my classmates, one of the biggest bigots and gossips in town, the wife of a school board member was hired. That door slammed shut.  Fear set in about what might be in my file.

I was closeted as a young adult.  I hid in one of the ultimate closets, getting married.  It didn't work.  It didn't change me.  It didn't make either of us happy.  It was a mistake, and I knew it was a mistake when I did it.  I ate and drank heavily for a few years, then went in the opposite direction with an extreme diet and exercise routine. 

Finally in my late 20's, I decided that happiness was more important than acceptance. I told her she wasn't happy, and I wasn't happy and we both deserved happiness, split things close to down the middle.  Ending even an unhappy relationship is not easy, but it was worth it in long run. 

I met Jay a few months later, a few months after that we joined our lives.  20 odd years later we married.  He makes me happy, I hope I make him happy.  As all relationships are, ours is a little weird in it's own way. That is how and why we work. 

And yet, every time I encounter a stranger, I my mind runs through the mental calculus of disclosure.  It is exhausting at times.   

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Gratitude

 Back in 2015, way back, but not way-way back, I had a bad health year.  In May of that year I had some major spinal surgery, and a little over three months later flew to Germany for a couple of weeks.  

A few days before surgery the neurosurgeon spent 45 minutes explaining in detail what he recommended doing and why, and what the possible outcomes were.  He asked me what my "goal of care was" not the first time I had been asked and I had an answer.  I said, "90 days from now I want to go to Germany and fly on a Zeppelin."  An interesting answer.  The next afternoon he stopped by to check on me and said "you weren't kidding, I googled it, you can fly on a Zeppelin!" I knew that, I had booked the seats before I got to the point that I was falling down and couldn't get up.  

A month or so after returning I had a follow up visit, I added a special thank you to him and his staff, printed it out, and asked his staff to post it in the break room.  I am still grateful to all of the people that made this and so much more possible.   

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Stop and Smell The Roses Along The Way

I remember taking this photo. I was in south Florida in March of 2018 for a board meeting, I had a couple of hours to drive back to the airport, I drove north along the beach, I found a spot to park and thought I would take a few shots of the water.  As I was making my way from the parking area to the beach, I passed this most amazing foliage.  It was not what I was there to see, it was not the photo I was thinking of taking, but it was too wonderful to pass by and not capture a few images.  

When we travel it is easy to have an agenda of things to see, things to photograph, meals to eat, things we need to do.  It is important in our planning to allow ourselves to just drift, to stop for the unexpected, to stop and smell the roses along the way.  

Someday I am going to drive across the USA, with no plan, no agenda, no time plan.  Just wandering, taking where the wind carries me, seeing what is to be seen, photographing the wonders great and small along the way.  I better do that while I still have tommorows and not just yesterdays.  

Monday, September 27, 2021

YouTube Monday - Night Court - Vow of Silence

It is dated, and it is corny, but Night Court was brilliant situation comedy.  It probably stayed on the air a little too long after the ideas started to run thin, but then we hated to see it go.  I always remember how Harry Stone became a judge, he was the only person to answer the phone as the time limit for the governor to appoint a judge was running out.  Sometimes it pays to stay home, listen to Mel Tormey and answer the phone.  

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Sunday Five - Cars

On King Street one morning recently. Nice, very Nice. 

A couple of weeks ago, Andrew in Australia, pointed out that most of my early cars were kind of ugly, and he was right.  That got me to thinking about the cars I have owned, and why I bought them, and what I didn't really think about when I bought them, hence this weeks Sunday five. 

1: Have you ever bought a car or truck, just because you liked the way it looked from the outside? 

2: Have you ever gone out specifically to buy a particular model of car or truck? 

3: Have you ever bought a car just because of the color? 

4: Is there a particular feature on a car or truck that you always want to have? 

5: Have you ever bought a car or truck as an impulse buy, you were not really shopping you just saw it and had to have it? 

My answers: 

1: Have you ever bought a car or truck, just because you liked the way it looked from the outside? Not really, I have owned a couple of nice looking cars, but that is not my primary concern. 

2: Have you ever gone out specifically to buy a particular model of car or truck? No, not really. 

3: Have you ever bought a car just because of the color? No.  My Ex did, when the salesman asked what are you looking for the answer was "a blue car." Any car as long as it was blue. 

4: Is there a particular feature on a car or truck that you always want to have? I love my sunroof.  Given a choice I will never own a car again without one.  

5: Have you ever bought a car or truck as an impulse buy, you were not really shopping you just saw it and had to have it? Yes, the second of the three new Honda Accords. 

Please share your answers in the comments.  

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - Light at the End of the Tunnel

So I sit here debating with myself, do I want to write about the Pandemic, not really.  We have, we are, we will, live through it. It has changed us, it will never not be a part of our lives. At this point I am ready to move towards the light at the end of that tunnel. 

I continue to enjoy walks.  I have learned to force myself if needed, to get out and move.  I enjoyed the year of walks in the swamp, now I am mixing up where I walk, parks, in THE city, along the water, in the tourist zone across the river, in new areas, in historic areas, in very urban landscapes, and in the country.  The important thing is moving. At my age if you sit still too long they start to measure you for a coffin. I need to keep moving towards the light at the end of the tunnel.  

Travel plans. It has been decades since I have gone this long without being on a airliner going someplace.  The train to New York was fun, and the city was amazing.  We have flight reservations for late October. And the forest fire was turned away so South Lake Tahoe should still be there when we get there.  A bright light at the end of a long dark tunnel.  

A few years ago, I rode a bike though a long railroad tunnel. Originally the tunnel had tracks in both directions, as part of the rails to trails movement, the trains now have one track, with a wide paved pedestrian and bike trail on the other side. The signs warned riders to walk their bikes through the tunnel.  I ignored the warnings and I learned first hand what tunnel vision really means.  In the middle of the tunnel, with very dim lights, I lost all perception of movement.  I could see the dot of daylight, but barely see the ground, or the wall of the tunnel.  It was one of the most amazing and disorienting feelings I have ever experienced. I stayed steady, knowing if I was peddling I was moving forward, steered a course toward the point of light, I could feel that I was staying on the pavement, but I can't tell you if I was moving 5 miles per hour, or 20 miles per hour.  I can see how if someone panicked they would crash.  This is not a time to panic, stay the course, focus on moving forward, focus on the point of light at the end of the tunnel.    


Friday, September 24, 2021

Foodie Friday - Allotments / Community Gardens

 I stumbled across the concept of an allotment watching old British sitcoms.  The city allows private gardens on public land, most often unused, unbuildable strips of land.  Each gardener is allowed a small 10 by 10 or 10 by 20 foot plot to grown what ever they want (as long as it is legal.) Mostly vegetables, flowers, and a few compact soft fruits. The actor who played Mr. Lucas on Are You Being Served died of a heart attack, tending his beloved allotment.  

Here in Northern Virginia there are a few places with allotments or public gardens.  With so much of the population in high density housing, low rise, mid rise and high rise buildings where no one has a dedicated yard, it allows space for a little gardening.  The gardens are generally fenced to keep the deer and veggie thieves out. Some of the gardeners do an amazing amount in a limited amount of space.  

This one is in Old Town Alexandria, along the right of way for the  Woodrow Wilson Bridge, between the proximity to 10 lanes of traffic, and the kind of boggy location, there is little land could be used for, but it makes a wonderful garden.  I understand the wait list to get a square, is several years long.  

Gardening puts people back in touch with where real good food comes from.  Do I want to do it, not really, I don't bend down very well anymore. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Thursday Rambles: What is Rattling Around in my Brain Recently

I received word recently that the contract that funds about half of my job, has been renewed for a new up to five year term.  This likely means that I will remain gainfully employed until my intended retirement date, and someone will have relatively secure funding for a decent amount of time after I leave.  This is good.  

I learned recently that the father of a friend of mine died.  He was in his 80's, had been living with progressive dementia for several years.  He died in his sleep, at home, cared for by family.  The family is rather devastated by the loss.  He was apparently the kind of person you hope will live forever, that you just can't imagine not surviving. (He lived far across the country and I never met him.) It takes time, it takes work to understand, and process the death of a loved one.  I hope my friend makes it through.  He will, but he will be changed by this. 

Pickling season is over, the pickling cucumbers and fresh dill are both absent from the market this week.  I made five or six batches this year, about a kilo each.  I will finish the last of them soon.  (I keep them fresh, unprocessed, not canned, so they need to be eaten within a month or so.) Until next year.  

I have discovered a local artisanal butcher who makes the most amazing bacon and sausages.  The Fermented Pig is at my local farmers market on Saturday mornings.  The bacon is some of the best I have ever had.  

I don't get it.  If I do an online search for bacon, for the next few days I get advertising for pig products online, in social media, on my blog.  Something very specific.  Yet retailers that I have a long term relationship with, continue to send me advertising for things I will never buy.  Macy's sends me a dozen emails a week, most of them featuring womens clothing.  What don't they get? I have bought furniture and mens clothing from Macys, I have a Macys account so they know exactly what I have ever bought from them. NEVER womens clothing.  In this day and age of tracking my every click online, they should know what I am interested in, and what I am not interested in.  Sending me advertising for things I will never buy is a frustrating waste of time and money. Oh well, that is what the delete key is for.  But if Macy's wants to avoid being deleted from the American landscape, they really need to figure out how to target marketing to consumers that result in impulse buys.  Impulse buys are the where the incremental margin is at in retail.  Amazon is better at targeted marketing, based on browsing and buying history. And Uncle Jeff (oh I wish!) has more money than some countries. 

I spent the better part of an hour talking with a guy who is operating colleges inside prisons.  He said it is not just about learning, college changes the person.  Many discover that they are much more capable than they ever thought. They learn how to think, how to understand, how to question and look for answers, what sources are reliable and what are leading them down the wrong path.  His life story is long and complicated, what he has done for others is life changing. He has taken bad circumstances and made a difference in the lives of others. An hour I won't forget.  Never overlook the capacity for good in others.  

At Showtime
30 Minutes Past Show Time 

Lastly, and I know this is a long ramble this week, 

Getting it wrong and Making it Right
We went to opening night for the National Symphony Orchestra, at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts last Saturday.  After cancelling most of the 2020 season, the Center announced a few months ago that they would reopen this fall, requiring patrons to be fully vaccinated and to wear face masks at all times inside the building.  We showing up, were asked by an usher if we were Covid Verified, drawing a confused look, he asked if we had been through the line and gotten our purple wristband.  We hadn't.  We were lucky, it only took us about 15 minutes to get to the front of the line, show our vaccination cards, photo ID, and be handed a wrist band, so we could then go stand in line to get into the concert hall.  By the time we made it to the front of the line, the line had tripled in length.  The Center only had about 5 people to check in about 2,000 ticket holders.  At curtain time, only about 20% of the seats were filled.  Without announcement, the start of the show was delayed 30 minutes while the check in line was processed.  I was upset because I was in my seat for 45 minutes before the show started with no announcements.  I am old school, the show always starts on time. The Center had really messed this up with poor direction and far too little staff.  The following day, before we finished composing our letter of disappointment, an email arrived. It wasn't an apology, but an admission that the Center had messed up on their first big night back, and promising vouchers for an extra performance without charge.  It was good to see them take the lead. They messed up, and are doing their best to make it right.  Bravo! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Understanding Our Parents

This is the first house my parents owned in the suburbs of Detroit.  It was sold 4 or 5 years before I was born.  They had friends a couple of blocks away, but never wanted to drive by and see the house.  My first couple of homes in Orlando, I go back and drive by, even stop to take a quick shot of Taco Bell, and the custom colonial.  The house we owned in Kentucky I have no desire to drive by and see.  I wish the house and the owner well, the property treated us well, it was very comfortable, we made money on it, but there is no urge to see how it is doing.  Maybe I understand - maybe I don't.   

My parents sold the farm and retired to Florida in 1982.  Within a year they both went back to work for a few more years, then retired for good in the mid 60's.  They had a summer escape from the Florida heat and humidity, at first a motor home, and later a park model travel trailer that they spent 3 or 4 months in each summer in a cooler climate.  I remember getting frustrated because they would go weeks, sometimes months with no contact.  Maybe I would get one phone call, and post card or two over an entire summer.  When they were in Florida, we talked on the phone and I visited once a week, sometimes more often.  They were about 30 miles away.  I couldn't understand how we could go from weekly contact 8 or 9 months out of the year, to nearly no contact for 3 or 4 months.  

Now I kinda understand.  I turn my cell phone on three or four times a week.  A friend sent me a couple of text messages and I didn't see them for five days.  Few people have my phone numbers (I have three of them) and that is fine.  I find my time out of touch relaxing, like those long lazy summers my parents enjoyed for several years.  Even after they had a cell phone, they seldom called, and when they did from the trailer the service was so bad that the call would be dropped within five minutes. I think they liked it that way.  I understand how they felt. 

During those long summers if I really needed to reach my parents, I would call my sister. That worked, unless Dad had a wild hair and they were in San Francisco for lunch (my parents drove to SF one summer, had lunch and left.) The only time my father was ever in SF.  That I don't totally understand.  He had an explanation, and I still don't get it.  

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Museums

 Sometime in the middle 1970's a distant cousin of my grandmother's from England was in the USA doing work on a script for a Clint Eastwood film, and he came to the farm in Michigan for a week.  His mother was my great-grandmother's sister - she had visited a few years before - shortly before her death.  Donald was a successful writer for television and film.  He and his brother Derick co-wrote several films.  His brother was somewhat infamous for making X-rated sexual comedies.  

We took Donald to see the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.  I remember three things from that day.  Donald looking at machinery in the museum and remarking, "we are still using this stuff, it is modern by our standards." We were in one of the restored colonial houses in the village, and the docent started making comments about the British and the American Revolution, and Donald opening the door and stepping out saying "before I say something and start another revolution."  I remember buying a loaf of bread hot from the oven in the village bakery, getting home and sitting around the table cutting off chunks to enjoy with butter and cheese and listening to him talk about the places he had been and the things he had done.  

The museum, a collection of whatever Henry fancied, holds a world of wonders and curiosities, and revisiting it brings back a flood of memories.   

Donald died a few years after that visit.  

Monday, September 20, 2021

My Music Monday - Rod Stewart - Maggie May

When this song first came out, I had didn't think it was very good, I appreciate the magic of Rod Stewart's voice.  I got the lyrics.  Fortunately his voice has grown on me over the decades. May he outlive us all.  

Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Sunday Five - Scary Places Facing our Fears

This is the opening of a pedestrian tunnel, not far from where I live.  Would you go down those stairs and walk into the yellow light?  Kind of looks like a place monsters lurk.*  

So this week's Sunday five, facing our fears 

1: What is the greatest threat to your safety? 

2: Do you fear the dark? 

3: What is the greatest threat to your health?

4: Would you visit a place where you didn't speak a word of the native language? 

5: When you were a child, where did the monsters lurk? 

My answers: 

1: What is the greatest threat to your safety? Republican nut cases. 

2: Do you fear the dark? No, maybe it should fear me. 

3: What is the greatest threat to your health? Old age - it kills more people than anything else. 

4: Would you visit a place where you didn't speak a word of the native language? Yes, I have a couple of times and I would again. 

5: When you were a child, where did the monsters lurk? In basement of the barn.  

Please share your answers in the comments, feel free to be silly or frivolously.  We need more silly in our lives. 

* This is a redo of a post that was so negative that I didn't publish it, left it in draft for several weeks.  The photo, and the first paragraph are all that remain from the depressing dirge.     


Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - Hygge

When I was and packing my daily messenger bag for the trip to New York, I ran across a card with the entry code for the Hygge recline lounge from the ferry crossings between Ireland and Wales back in March of 2020.  

The card describes Hygge as "slowing down, enjoying the moment, feeling content."  The concept is such a contrast to our rush-rush try to do everything, hummingbird lives. 

Take a moment, sit still, listen, watch, breath, smell, relax and enjoy just being.  

The Hygge lounge was kind of first class on the ferry.  A secluded comfortable space that people paid a little extra for. The room was filled with wonderfully comfy reclining seats. On one of the boats the lounge had huge front facing windows (into the rising sun) on the other newer boat on the return trip the lounge was inside with large TVs you could plug in a headset to hear, quiet and darker.  Both were a joy.  I also enjoyed walking around the boat.  

Stumbling across the card, and leaving it on my cluttered desk, reminded me of those moments of hygge.  Ahh!  

Create for yourself a hygge moment this weekend.  

I have a couple of new Photo Geek posts at the Adventure Continues 


Friday, September 17, 2021

Foodie Friday - New York adventures

 Okay, I will admit it, I have a history of finding some of the worst restaurants in New York city.  Bad food, miserable service, and yet J lets me lead the way.  On the August trip we also found a couple of real gems.  

This one was the Bryant Park Grill, literally on the back side of the New York Public Library.  We opted for indoor seating, it was hot and humid and air conditioning was desirable.  The restaurant was following current policy in New York city and asking for proof of vaccination for inside seating.   

The cheese tray was amazing, with three very flavorful cheeses,  two soft cheese and a firm spanish cheese.  I wish I knew where they found the tiny grapes, they were sweet as candy.  I had a mushroom tortellini that wonderfully made.  All in all it was a delightful meal, with excellent service.  It almost made up for the so-so kosher french restaurant the night before.  Nothing will ever make up for the world's worst Korean BBQ back in March of 2019.  Those are stories for another day. 

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Thursday Rambles - Aging - Retirement

A friend posted on Facebook about her grandson starting school for the first time, he will graduate high school in the class of 2034, University in 2038, if he goes to Medical School he will finish his training and specialization when statistically I am dead.  

Sweet fellow blogger Spo posted recently on the topic of sometimes wanting to run away from it all. I posted a comment about a co-worker who very dramatically quit a job one day - pissing all over the conference table on his way out the door - kind of the ultimate running away - or setting fire to a public building.  Not really the exit most of us want, not the way we want to be remembered - though he will never be forgotten by those who were in the office that morning.  Yet we probably all have those moments of frustration when we dream about a dramatic exit. 

I had a couple of those moments this week, with wonky computer issues, and stupid responses from technical support.  I am fairly open about my plans to retire, and my intended timing.  One of the advantages of leaving when I want, the way I want, will be to avoid standing up one day and shouting, "I AM TOO OLD FOR THIS SHIT, AND I AM NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!" 

Months of working at home, were good practice for retirement.  Getting out for walks, doing the shopping, taking photos, blogging, reading and writing are all things that will fill my time.  I look forward to being able to travel without time constraints.  The last trip we did to Europe was in March, really off season, hotels were cheap(er,) airline seats easy to get, places were not crowded.  When J was teaching off season travel was only an option when he was on sabbatical or leave every 7 years or so, and we did a couple of those winter trips.  The constraint now is only being away for a couple of weeks at a time. I look forward to planning a trip and not having an end date before I start planning.   

I just need to stay healthy enough and live long enough to enjoy some of this.  Getting old is not easy. 



Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Civilization

 I took these photos in Athens.  The inscription at the top, is 2,500 years old, and describes settling of a dispute.  Sometimes I read the news, and the authors seem to think that this is the first time in the history of civilization that people disagreed with one another.  This is proof that disagreements, compromise, settlement of disputes has been going on as long as there has been civilization.  

An anthropologist was asked what the earliest signs of civilization were?  Her answer was not fire, or shelter, or farming, it was an adult male skeleton with a healed broken leg.  She explained that in the wild as a hunter gatherer a person with a broken leg would be unable to move about to gather food and water and would certainly die before it healed, unless others gathered around to help, with food and water and basic care, to allow time for the leg to heal.  A process that takes weeks, maybe months without what we consider to be medical care.  

Civilization is about banding together, helping one another.  It is not about the rugged individualist, people who live in isolation from other human beings, die from circumstances that people living together in civil societies don't die from.  

At times we fail as a civilized society.  When one of us dies of hunger, dies of exposure to extreme weather, dies for want of the help of their fellow man.  At times we fail when we don't take basic steps to help others, like accepting medical science - getting a vaccine, or wearing a face mask.  

Travel and thinking about the world, and the history of civilization, has helped me understand that civilization is not a new concept, and we have to work together to maintain it. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Travel Tuesday - New Mexico

 I have a new collaborator on a work project who lives in New Mexico. I have been to New Mexico a few times as a child, once as an adult.  I did a some training in Albuquerque a decade ago.  I added a couple of days to that trip and did a little touring.  I started to spend the day in Santa Fe, it was massively crowded, parking was impossible, and it was raining, so I got out of town.  I drove north, looked at the GPS and realized I was near Las Alamos.  Los Alamos was home the Manhattan project, the super secret project to develop nuclear bombs during World War II.  Why not?  

There is a nice small museum there, the photo above are replicas of the two original devices, Little Boy and Fat Man. The gravity of what happened there is overwhelming.  I drove through the National Laboratory grounds,  a weird experience that requires permission from the guard and instructions to not stop unless and until the police pull up behind you.  There is a national park with remains of cliff dwellings on the other side that I went to see. 

I would like to go back to New Mexico, I think I will avoid Las Alamos the next trip.  Too weird in ways that are hard to explain.   

Monday, September 13, 2021

YouTube Monday - Monty Python Airplane Pilots

Blogger is giving me a hard time loading photos this morning, so this image is entirely random.  Plucked out of 60,000+ files with no idea what it was.  It is landscaping outside the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC.  A neat museum.  

Pilots have a sense of humor, in their professional work they are restrained, when they are in a less professional setting they can be very funny.  My father was a licensed commercial pilot, who never flew commercially.  Getting that rating required hours and hours of time flying with instructors.  I was sitting in the back seat one Sunday afternoon.  The instructor, said "Opps! - WHAT DO WE DO NOW" and turned around and asked me to hand him the owner's manual that was tucked in behind the seat. Then looked at me, smiled and said "just wanted to see if you were still awake."