Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Tom and Arlene

 A flashback to the mid 1970's here.  My family spent a couple of winters in a condominium on the east coast of Florida, before my parents bought the house they would live the rest of their lives in. Tom and Arlene owned a condo in the same community.  They were from Michigan, so there was some connection.  Tom was a very talented bricklayer and a prince of guy. Arlene was, well there is no easier way to put it, a little bit nuts.  

They would come to Florida in the winter when construction was slow in Michigan.  

One winter a tire on their car went flat, it was defective in manufacturer.  She was so angry at the tire dealer that she had bought it from that she put the spare on, drove to Orlando, checked the tire as baggage, flew to Michigan, so she could go scream at the tire dealer about it.  He agreed it was defective, asked where the car was so he could replace it.  When she said, Florida, he said, let me arrange a replacement, take it to the dealer just up the street from your condo, they will replace it for free. She flew back to Florida the same day. 

Tom and their two kids showed up at my parents house one afternoon, Arlene was mad, so she had changed the locks and wouldn't let him in.  The next day, she was calling wanting to know if he was ever going to come home. 

She was convinced her father was hiding cash in his house.  When he died she busted up the walls in his house looking for it.  All she found was an empty whiskey bottle and a couple of dead mice.  

Like I say, she was a little crazy. We all need a little nuts in our lives.  


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Get High in Chicago

 Somehow the Sears Tower became the Willis Tower in Chicago.  One of the tallest buildings in the world (17th according to the internet.) Near the very top, high above Chicago, is an observation level, with glass boxes suspended out the side of the building.  Standing in line waiting your turn in the box, you will think, is this a good idea? Do I really trust the engineers? If you are in Chicago, do it, just go for it, the views are amazing. 

I haven't been there for a few years.  I had a run of a decade or so or one or more visits to Chicago each year.  I should go back. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

My Music Monday - RuPaul - It's Raining Men HQ

How would I describe RuPaul to most straight men? More woman than you will ever have, more man than you will ever be.  Dance if the spirit moves you. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

The Sunday Five - A Harry Potter Quiz

  1. How was Harry Potter's invitation to attend Hogwarts delivered? 
  2. What were the standardized tests at Hogwarts called?
  3. What was the name of Harry's Owl? 
  4. What was the name of a nasty message from home known as? 
  5. Did you read all of the books? 
I can only answer one of these without spoiling the answers. I read all of the books. 

Please share your answers in the comments.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - A Second Shot

I had another post finished, and scheduled, and reread it, and it was depressing, so let me take a second shot at this Saturday Morning Post. 

Last Saturday I started off with a nice visit to the Alexandria Farmers Market, down on Market Square, in front of city hall.  Some local sweet cherries, some beets, a couple of huge carrots that will feature in a foodie friday post in a couple of weeks.  It was nice to get out and walk about. 

On the way back, I stopped at Jones Point Park, also known as the Troll Park, because a major part of it is under a massive highway bridge over the Potomac River. You know what lives under a bridge? 

The park has a lighthouse dating back to the 1850's, that is where we were married in 2015.  The park is run by the National Park Service, we applied for a permit to get married in the Park, basically saying we could ask people to stay away from the area for half-an-hour.  The person issuing the permit was excited, we were her first same sex couple applying for a permit.  

The area was a shipyard building ships for WWI and WWII.  There are remnants of the history.  It was the historical southern corner of the District of Columbia, before the retrocession of land back to Virginia.  There is a corner that lies in the historic corner of Maryland. You can stand in two states. 

I walked from there up to Ford's landing, an upscale condo/townhouse development built on the location of a Ford assembly plant. What was once an industrial wasteland, is now some of the most desirable residential areas in the county. 

It was a nice walk, a change of pace.  A second shot, reset on my weekend.    

Friday, June 25, 2021

Foodie Friday - The Farmers Market Experience is Back

I got frustrated last summer and gave up on the local farmers markets.  They had one way in, one way out, and if you were not standing the exact right place, a place I couldn't find, the vendors would ignore you while waiting from someone to find X marks the spot, to be served.  It was silly.  

A couple of times recently, I have ventured back the local farmers markets and the experience is back.  I am still wearing a mask, one that says Fully Vaccinated on it, though the signs say I don't have to wear one if fully vaccinated.  All of the entrances and exits are open, no tape arrows, no silly rules about standing in the right spot to be helped. 

Most of the vendors are back, along with a few new ones. It has been a good early season here. The selection of fresh and relatively local produce is amazing.  The egg man appears to have given up.  He always had a bad chicken joke of the week.  

Simple Yellow Summer Squash 

1 onion, sliced, saute in butter and olive oil

Add 1/2 pound yellow summer squash sliced into 1/4 inch rounds 

One medium tomato cut into cubes 

salt and pepper, 

cover and cook for 15-20 minutes on low to medium heat stirring periodically.  

This is simple, and develops a much more complex flavor than the same squash steamed, boiled or grilled.  

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Thursday Rambles - What Have I Been Thinking About

I have been reading a book by a retired chef in England, who claims to have made Gordon Ramsey crack, Devil in the Kitchen by Marco White.  An autobiography of a chef in search of Michelin stars.  An interesting read, also a reminder of the driven 1990's, lots of people working 70 hour plus weeks in pursuit of perfection and money, a lot of people cracking under the pressure. It happened in a lot of workplaces, I sure am glad I survived and found a better balance in life.  

I was reminded recently that we don't stop having fun because we get old, we get old when we stop having fun.  Keep having fun.  

The latest lens acquisition is a 35mm fixed focal length.  All of the other lenses I own, most of the lenses made today, are variable focal length, or zoom lenses.  I bought it because it was fast, it is also incredibly sharp.  I recently watched a YouTube video about the discipline of  using fixed focal length or prime lenses.  I put it on last Saturday for my trip to the farmers market and walk and I immediately realized how lazy I have become.  With a fixed focal length I am forced to think about composition, framing, camera placement. Maybe it is time to return the basics.  One of my strengths in the past was finding the best angle, and that was all based on moving the camera to where it would get the best shot. With a zoom lens, I stand where I am fiddle with the lens rather than moving my butt.

John over at Going Gently,  asked about role models.  I had to think for a few minutes.  My answer was an author whose books came into my life at turning point.  I am going reread a couple of those books.  

I am moving along on travel plans for New York in August - all I really need to do there is pick restaurants for a couple of lunches, and plans for a week in Nevada in October.  Rental cars are in short supply and the prices are about double what they were two years ago.  I have a couple of days work to do at the beginning of that week, then a few days to explore, Reno, Lake Tahoe, Carson City.  

I have a large format, photo printer. It will print up to 11 by 17 inches.  I have been having fun with it. I have had it for several years, and recently when my primary printer failed, I dusted it off, moved the stuff out of the way and fired it up.  I have some amazing prints of owls and googly eyed cicadas. When I asked for it (it was a gift) I had a vision of being artistic with it, I am finally doing what it was intended for. For all to long it has sat here gathering dust. Remember to have fun, or well you know what happens.  

So there is my themeless ramble for the week.  


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Self Portraiture - Self Image

This was taken sometime in the mid 1970's,  you don't see the cable release in my hand, it was an early attempt at self portraiture an exercise in self image. The lighting is flat, the camera too low. But I was not all that bad looking.  How we view ourselves, our self image is complex.  I had a long, downer of a post on this, reflecting my struggle with self image over the years.  

Today I am rounder, balder, my hair is longer, and I am much happier with who I am.  My self image my self portrait is better.  I started the other day thinking about what to say in my retirement article in two years and a month. Yes, I sometimes think and plan that far in advance.  I am happy with what I have done.  

Love yourself.  It is hard to ask others to love you, if you don't love yourself.  You are in good shape, round is a valid shape.  


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Hollywood

Another random spin of the memory files, I spoke at the National LBGT Bar Association Lavender Law Conference in Hollywood one summer.  Oddly I only have about 40 photos from that trip. The one of the famous sign, appears to be the only one of the sign.  I didn't allow enough free time on that trip.  

I met a transgender judge at the conference.  She was from Texas, elected to the bench as he, transitioned to she, and reelected in a landslide.  

While I was there, I walked Hollywood Boulevard to the corner of Hollywood and Vine, saw Grauman's Chinese Theater, took the subway across town to Union Station and went to the home of the French Dip Sandwich.  So I did a few things, but I didn't take enough photos.  I should go back.     

Monday, June 21, 2021

My Music Monday ; Big Spender" - Broadway Backwards 2019

I remember hearing this song, with a slightly different cast, when I was but a young thing, singing along, if I knew then, what I know now. I remember a music director, saying you can't really make music about love, until you have been in love.  It took me a while to get ready to make music about love. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Sunday Five - Uninhibited

The photo, I took in High School in the 1970's, I have no idea who it is.  I do hope that he is wild and crazy today, as he was then.

1: Have you ever taken a nude photograph? 

2: Do you sing Karaoke? 

3: What is the largest audience you have ever spoke to? 

4: Have you ever acted in a play? 

5: Would you do five minutes of stand up comedy for a large financial reward ? 

My answers: 

1: Have you ever taken a nude photograph? A long - long time ago, a friend of mine brought home a stripper, she didn't like wearing clothes. 

2: Do you sing Karaoke? Nope, never have, never will. 

3: What is the largest audience you have ever spoke to? In person, about 1,400, online, 3,650 one day this past year. 

4: Have you ever acted in a play? Not since elementary school. 

5: Would you do five minutes of stand up comedy for a large financial reward? I would agonize over it, and yes, I would. 

Please share your uninhibited answers in the comments. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - A Photographer's Lament

Reduce by one, the number of working camera I own.  The shutter in the 2 1/4 twin lens has stopped working.  This was the last photo taken with it, a few months ago of the only real snow of last winter.  The camera is a Chinese copy of a Japanese copy, of a German design from the 1930's.  I bought it new, in San Francisco 15 years ago.  I have only put 3 or 4 rolls of film through it.  It was cheaply made (not necessarily cheap to buy) at the time it was the only thing like it being made in the world. 

I periodically get the urge to return to my photographic roots, film, black and white.  The old cameras force me to slow down, compose, focus, set exposure.  The cost of film and processing, encourages me to shoot one or two good shots, instead of 100 quick shots knowing that one or two will be good. 

Back when I was in High School (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) I bought a Yashica Mat 124G,  probably the best mass market 2 1/4 twin lens cameras available. As I recall I paid about $200 for it new.  At the time a used Rolleiflex was $300-$400 and was likely 20-30 years old and most looked like they had been through a war.  I used it for a couple of years.  Then I bought a Pentax 6x7, a 2 1/4 by 2 3/4 inch format. The Pentax 6x7 was a single lens reflex, with interchangeable lenses.  It was a massive piece of professional grade equipment. A couple of years later, someone offered to buy the Yashica, and I think I sold it for $100 or $150.  A sale I have long regretted.  After I gave up on making a living as a photographer, the Pentax was sold, for more than what I had paid for it new. It is worth even more today. 

If you have a 120/220 roll film camera stuffed in the back of a closet you would like to get rid of, let me know. 

In recent years, film photography has experienced a  renaissance. It has become hipster cool. All of the major manufacturers have stopped making film cameras.  The used camera market is hot.  The only Yashica Mat 124 G I can find online is $400 and the light meter does not work. A working Rolleiflex will fetch $1,500- $2,000 and there are waiting lists to buy one from reputable dealers (dealers who will test it to make sure it works.)  These are cameras you couldn't sell of $50 ten years ago.  Probably the only "bargains" right now are Hasselblad, you can buy a good working one, for under $2,000, a little less than what they sold for new, 40 years ago.  More than twice what they were selling for five years ago.  

Over the years I have said thanks, but no thanks, to people who wanted to give me old film cameras.  Opps! 

I am going to get really camera geeky here for a couple of minutes, if you are into cameras enjoy, if you could care less, leave a comment and check back tomorrow for the Sunday Five. 

Last weekend I explored one of only a couple of real camera shops left in the DC area.  I hadn't been in one for several years.  I would like to add a second camera body, and a longer lens.  Lenses are in short supply right now.  Cameras are in stock. I looked at the step up from what I am using, a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR,) and at a mirrorless in the same category - a couple of them. In a Single Lens Reflex or SLR, you view through the lens that takes the photo, this is done with a mirror that flips out of the way when the shutter is fired.  In a mirrorless camera, there is no mirror.  For the eye-level viewer, there is an LCD screen that displays what the image sensor is receiving through the lens.  The camera on your smartphone is in essence a mirrorless system, but without the eye-level viewer.  The challenge of a camera without an eye-level viewer is seeing the image in bright sunlight, and in the fine details.  I have been using SLRs since the early 1970's.  Overtime you learn how to analyze and assess what you see in the viewfinder, and how that will render in the final image.  It is not what you see is what you get, but you learn to tell what will likely result based on what you see. I found the mirrorless system displays artificially bright.  What I am seeing there didn't match the light conditions around me.  All of the major manufacturers are moving in the direction of mirrorless.  If mirrorless is what you start learning with, I can see how it would feel right.  But for someone with decades of experience with SLRs, it felt misleadingly artificial.  Mirrorless has an advantage, in that the same view shoots video and still, but I record very little video.  Do I want to relearn, or do I want to stick with what I know and hope the technology works as long as I am taking photos?  The salesman was saying about the mirrorless, "oh you will love the autofocus" but he is saying this to someone who at times wishes there was an easy way to turn off the autofocus on the lenses I have (there isn't.) I remember old guys in camera stores 45 years ago saying the same thing about cameras with built in light meters. Oh, yes, I am getting old.  

Friday, June 18, 2021

Foodie Friday - Soup

 A couple of weeks ago, I was in a mood for a nice soup.  The weather was cool, one of the last cool snaps of the season.  There are wonderfully complex soup recipes, I wanted something quick and simple.  

1 Onion, chopped fine 
    Saute in butter and olive oil until soft
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
a handful of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds 
Two boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 3/4 inch cubes
    Saute for 5 - 10 minutes
Add 2 - 3 cups chicken stock
Handful of green beans sliced into 1/2 to 3/4 inch chunks
1/2 cup fresh peas (frozen would work fine)
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. 
Salt and Pepper to taste. 

Serve with crusty bread. 

This is a basic chicken vegetable soup.  Ready in 45 minutes or so. 
You could add rice, or noodles while it simmers.  Rice takes about 20 minutes to cook and absorbs a lot of liquid.  Noodles cook a bit faster, and absorb less liquid.  You will want to add chicken stock as needed.  
Adjust the volume of chicken stock to reach the ratio of liquids to solids you want.  I prefer a denser soup - less liquid.  

A pantry staple for me, is boxed chicken stock.  Find one you like, keep a couple of boxes on hand.  I have made my own, and yes it is often richer and more dense, but the commercial stock works well. 

Chicken Stock
Onion, roughly chopped, saute in olive oil and butter. 
4 or 5 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
3 or 4 carrots peeled, and roughly chopped
Chicken bones - fresh, or roasted, or frozen. 
Add water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, simmer 1-4 hours.  The longer the more flavor.  It is done when the connective tissue on the ends of the bones breaks down.  Strain, filter, cool, store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze. Stock freezes well. 
The veggies are flavorless, when it is done, they have given their all to the stock, toss them.  You can add other various veggies. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Thursday - Breaking News!

 Breaking News! My office is reopening, effective hours before the memo came out on Monday afternoon.  I haven't commuted there for work, since February of 2020.  I have been there three times in 15 1/2 months, for 2 or 3 hours to pick and drop off things. We were expecting a gradual,  capacity limited return with lots of new rules reopening, and there are new rules, 14 pages of them. What we got was, if you are fully vaccinated, carry on as you were. But, take your computer home each night just in case we go back into lock-down. 

I will go in one day this week, I need a day to clean up the desk, make sure the technology is working, then next week I will start back probably three days a week.  I have been struggling a bit with work life balance, it is all too easy to work early, all day, and then check in with the office before going to bed, when the office and the bedroom are the same space. I am looking forward to going back - but I noticed I didn't run to the office the first day it was possible.  I think the ideal balance for me will be two days a week telecommuting,  three days in the office. Writing and editing is easier to do at home,  producing online training is easier to do in the office.  

And we are free to resume business travel.  For the first time in 15 months I have pending airline reservations.  I have been trying to get permission to book travel for a conference in October for weeks. Suddenly it is on for real.  

So the report, I went to the office on Wednesday.  I woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep, so I went down to the swamp for my daily walk, came home, showered, dressed - in a starched shirt and real pants (trousers.) I walked to the station, missed the train and had to wait 12 minutes.  Arrived at the office in little over an hour.  There were a few IT issues, mostly resolved, and I had a long and productive day.  There are about 250 people in the DC office, there were 6 or 7 of us there today.  It felt somewhat normal.  The day before I was having second thoughts, and then I read the news report of the Delta airlines pilot who left a note in a plane parked in storage back in March of 2020 that read, if you are reading this we must be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I needed to go for the light.  It was good. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Uncle Ben

There was a string of Ben's in the family, stretching back to the late 1700's.  At least in the parts of the family that I know about, my great Uncle Ben was the last.  This picture was taken at Aunt Edith's wedding.  This is his second wife Alma.  I never knew what happened to his first wife until after my father died, and I dug through the family archive. She had appendicitis, in the 1930's, and died of a post-op infection.  He and Alma never had any children.  My father was kind of a surrogate son for him.  Ben spent his life working for Dodge. He was frugal, and conservative.  He was a dedicated church goer, who lived his faith.  He was kind, loving, peaceful. 

When he bought a new car, about once every decade, he kept the old one.  If it was raining, or there was snow on the ground, the new car, stayed in the garage, and he drove the old one.  Alma never learned to drive.  When my oldest brother learned to drive, Ben decided keeping two cars was not sensible, and the old Dodge was sold to my father for my brother to drive.  A couple of years later, Ben died of an intestinal blockage, and Alma sold the newer Dodge to my father.  That is the car my middle brother rolled end over end landing in the flower bed in front of a neighbors house - he walked home - got a ticket for leaving the scene of an accident.  The car was totaled.  How do you go end over end, you get going about 90 miles an hour, slide, hit a steel post that catapults the car into the air.   

My grandfather was one of many sons.  During prohibition the family was living in a second story flat near Tiger Stadium in Detroit (my grandfather was a lifelong baseball fan.) Ben was holding bible study in the living room, while his mischievous brothers were running a speakeasy and poker table in the kitchen. The house next door was raided by the police, and the "working girls" were climbing out a window, and across into the kitchen window where the game was going on.  They hid the cards, and the booze, the girls joined Ben in the Bible study, the police looked around and left. In a pinch, always  look respectable.      


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Travel Tuesday - June 2011 Dallas Texas

 For most of the last 21 years, the majority of my work has been outside funded, by grants and contracts for research and training. The projects tend to be cyclical, at the moment I have proposals pending for a 2 year project, a 3 year project and a 5 year project. If all of them are funded, my job is stable past my retirement date and I can start planning a kitchen replacement.   

When I started my current job, a new 3 year funding cycle just getting started. Three year later we were bidding on another three years.  This is where I was standing when I got the email informing me that I was funded for another three years.  It is an art museum in Dallas.  I was there training at a conference a couple of blocks away.  I had written every word, was responsible for every typo in the proposal.  It was a large amount of money.  I was so pleased, I may have shed a tear or three. This photo reminds me of a major milestone in my career.   

Monday, June 14, 2021

Music Monday: Dancing Queen I Boston Gay Men's Chorus

Anne Marie is going to haunt me for this, at least it is not Abba performing it.  I saw this and I loved it.  The music is good, but even better, not all of the performers on the front row, are 120 pound twinks that look like they just left a porn shoot.  They are real people, in all shapes and sizes, and they have overcome their fears of being seen as who they are.  Accept who you are, enjoy it, it is you.  For many in the LGBTQ community, the last closet to come out of, is hatred of one's own body image. Relax, you are the best you there will EVER BE, we don't need you to change a thing, thin, geeky, average, hunky, chubby, chunky, bearish, you are all perfect.  

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Sunday Five - Cars

  1. Have you ever owned more than one car at the same time?
  2. Is there a car you parted with, that you wish you had back?
  3. Are there bumper stickers, or decals on your car? 
  4. Can you imagine living without a car?
  5. Have you ever had to have a car towed because of a mechanical breakdown? 
My Answers: 

  1. Have you ever owned more than one car at the same time? In the dying moments of my first marriage, both cars were in my name, and I now own two. 
  2. Is there a car you parted with, that you wish you had back? I owned a mid 1980's Mazda station wagon (estate car) it was simple, reliable, I have often wished I had kept it. 
  3. Are there bumper stickers, or decals on your car? No. Seldom if ever 
  4. Can you imagine living without a car? It would be possible but not convenient where we live now.  
  5. Have you ever had to have a car towed because of a mechanical breakdown? Twice, a broken fan belt, and a battery so dead the car wouldn't stay running when started.  
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Saturday Morning Post - The Train

John over at Going Gently spent last weekend in London visiting friends.  He usually takes the train from near his home to London, that reminded me of a story I have not told.  When we visited John, just as Covid was taking hold in March of 2020, we took the train from Llandudno Junction to London.  

It is a delightful ride across the English countryside, with stops in various places.  We boarded, settled into our seats, and four women sat opposite us, in seats facing one another with a table between them.  A delightful arrangement for four people traveling together, a strange arrangement if you are seated with three strangers, no two of the four of whom speak the same language (been there, done that, in Germany.) 

Two of the women were a little past middle age, now my concept of middle age is the middle of life, so think 40, not 50.  Two were a little younger, probably early 30's.  All were trying hard to look like they were in there mid 20's and ready to party, not ready for an afternoon nap. It was a morning train,  like 9 AM, and the four of them were drinking champagne when we settled into our seats.  It became obvious they were headed into London for a "Girls Weekend Out!" They were trying to party like it was 1999.  The conversation ranged from dumping useless boyfriends, to trying to find better jobs, to what bars to hit up first, and what a cute ass the guy pushing the catering trolly on the train had.  One of them would pull a discrete bottle from her bag and top up everyone's drink.  On an airliner they stewards would have cut them off, but they kept ordering, kept drinking, by the time we got to London they just sort of flowed off the train and into the city. 

While we were there, London was starting to go into lock-down.  Warnings were up to keep your distance, the couple of times we rode the tube, people were standing away from one another. Within a week the theater, bars and restaurants were all closed. 

Little did they know, little did I know, that their party weekend in London, was likely the last one for a long while.  I hope they enjoyed it.  I hope they survived it.  I hope they remembered it.  Maybe sometime soon the four of them can get back on the train, pinch the trolly man on the behind and go misbehave again.  In some way, isn't that what we all want to do?  

Friday, June 11, 2021

Foodie Fridays - Local Foreign Food Markets

 Local foreign food markets, sounds like a contradiction in terms, how can it be local and be foreign?  Living in Lexington Kentucky, a city of 250,000 people in the middle of nowhere, I discovered an amazing Asian market, primarily Japanese.  Why was there a Japanese market in the middle of nowhere?  Toyota has a major manufacturing plant nearby, and brings in staff for training and cross training, assigning them for anyplace from a few weeks, to a few years to the Camry assembly plant.  That is where I discovered that the Japanese have delightful fluffy filled pastries, hot and cold canned coffee drinks, and that sticky rice, aka, sushi rice, makes a delightful risotto at a fraction of the price of Italian Arborio rice. 

Across the from the subway station, 10-12 minutes walk from the condo, is a Balkan market, featuring eastern and central European foods.  That is where I discovered relatively inexpensive fresh salmon caviar, if half pint jars for about $20.  In the same strip-shopping center is a small Mexican market - a larger one is down the hill half-a-mile away.  On the north side of old Town Alexandria, is a Russian market.  

Now I know I am lucky living in a major metro area, with a lot of international residents, and embassies, there are a lot of options here.  But there are more and more hispanic markets in smaller towns.  Anyplace that there is a concentration of immigrants, there will be local shops that stock foods that remind them of home.  These are not places that will replace your everyday shopping, but places where we can discover specialty items that add variety to our tables.  

The last stop at the Russian market, yielded cookies and caviar. 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Thursday Ramble - What I Have Been Thinking About

 Last Sunday, the CBS Sunday Morning Show  - one of the most intelligent shows on American broadcast television, featured police conduct, - obviously the murders, but also the good things they do. A few thoughts from that. 

As a society we have defunded community services, poverty, recreation, homelessness, and mental health treatment. As one police chief put, the police become the catch all, when the programs that should help people are not there.  People act up in public, and the police are called in.  Prepared or not.  He estimated that 1/3 of the calls his department responds to are mental health calls.  San Francisco has dedicated funding to mental health crisis response, emergency operators send the mental health experts, rather then the police to non--violent calls for help, and the unit accompanies the police when mental health is an issue and the person is violent.  The result is better care, fewer dead people.  

I will get political for a moment.  During the Reagan administration mental health was deemed a personal weakness, and not as a real illness. Over the years I have learned that I don't truly understand the struggles of a person with mental health challenges.  I have never been where taking control, being strong, making better choices wouldn't get me out of the hole.  People with mental illness need help to do that.  Their illness is real, and while some might feel better with time, many need real help, help that they wait weeks for outside of an emergency room that is going to medicate and move them back out the door, and most struggle to pay for the care they need.  When I started at Rollins College in the mid 1980's, the most successful graduate program was a masters in mental health counseling with a focus on substance use and addiction, along came Reagan, federal funding for treatment was slashed, and treatment programs closed one after another. 

At the same time we militarized the police.  The model of a police officer with a six shot revolver, was replaced with semi-automatic pistols that hold a dozen rounds and can be reloaded in about 5 seconds (I have shot them in competition - yes, that fast,) and assault weapons. Funding for Special Weapons and Tactics, and armoured assault vehicles (civilian tanks) is easier to get, than funding for community mental health.  And we built prisons, lots and lots of prisons. 

The end result, is undertrained, overarmed, police responding to mental health, and people keep dying.  

The show also featured police officers who have adopted abused children, an officer who took a week's vacation to drive a 90+ year old cross country to visit family, because he insisted he was going to drive it alone.  Not all are bad.  But it is time to lower the blue wall of silence, the good officers, need to speak up, the bad officers need to fill some of those prison cells we have built.  

I had something else planned for today, but this was bubbling in my brain, and needed to be said. 

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Flying the Fairchild 24W

I have written about this before, my father and a friend of his, rebuilt a Fairchild 24 in the early 1960's.  One of my earliest memories was of the wings being recovered in our garage, scooting under them and getting lacquer paint in my hair. He carried this photo of it in his wallet, the rest of his life.  When he died, I framed it, it is in the glass fronted bookcases in my bedroom.  

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across the video below.  This led to several other videos of Fairchild 24's.  It was a design built from the 1930's into the post war era. The instrument panel in this one, was the instrument panel in the one my father had.  The engine was a different manufacturer on dad's.  But beyond that this is the plane.  The memory triggers are amazing.  

Tuesday, June 08, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Randomness lands me in

 New Orleans.  I had no idea where to go with this one, so I called up the unsorted photo file, spun the mouse, and landed in New Orleans one February, just at the start of the Mardi Gras season, a slightly blurry random street scene in the French Quarter.  I have been to New Orleans several times, the first time in the 1980's when it hosted a World's Fair. I drove there in an almost new Renault LeCar.  Renault had bought an interest in American Motors, and tried selling Euro cars in the US for a few years.  It was great fun to drive, the first car I had with a sunroof, a booming stereo, and the coldest air conditioning of any car I have ever owned.  Ice would form on the vents on the dash.  

I have been back to New Orleans several times for conferences or meetings.  A city of great food, strong drinks, and a love of life.  It is also a city that struggles with poverty, and racism.  Even after all of these years.  

To some extent, New Orleans being a party town is responsible for Bourbon developing as a unique style of whisky.  The demand for whisky in New Orleans outstripped the supply, and corn whisky from Bourbon county Kentucky was sealed in barrels and shipped down the Kentucky River, to the Ohio River, then west to the Mississippi river, then floated south to New Orleans.  By the time it arrived in New Orleans it had mellowed, taking on color and flavor from the charred oak barrels. The barrels were charred because they had previously been used to store salted fish, and pickled vegetables.  The melow brown whisky from Bourbon county was a hit, and orders for more flowed back up stream.  The rest is drinking history.   

Monday, June 07, 2021

YouTube Monday: June is Pride Month - Good Is Gold: Tom Daley

I never really had a conversation with my parents about being gay.  They figured it out, Jay and I moved in together, he came with me for holidays and visits, then the two of us moved 800 miles away and bought a house together. Once my parents tried to start a conversation, and I changed the subject. Self acceptance can be complicated with lots of deep seated fears. I told my father when we were getting married, but he and my mother were both in very poor health and I  didn't expect them to try to travel. My parents closest comment, was that they always wanted me to be happy, underlined by them worrying that my being gay would make my life difficult.  At times it has, but no nearly as difficult as denial - I have been down that road. 

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Sunday Five - Photos

 I bought another lens, I haven't told anyone, it was not expensive, it is very fast. I still have lens envy, shopping for a birding lens is on the list.   Obviously taking photos is a big part of my fun, hence this weeks Sunday Five. 

1: When was the last time you took a photo? 
2: What camera do you use? 
3: When was the last time you used film? 
4: How many working cameras do you own? 
5: Have you ever taken a trip, without a camera? 

My answers:  
1: When was the last time you took a photo? This morning on my walk.
2: What camera do you use? Mostly a Nikon D5500, sometimes my phone, sometimes the camera in my I-pad for things around the house. 
3: When was the last time you used film? I started a roll of 120 film in a 2 1/4 twin lens a couple of months ago, and I sent it off for processing this week. 
4: How many working cameras do you own? 6, plus phone, I-pad. 
5: Have you ever taken a trip, without a camera? Yes, before phones with cameras, before rediscovering the joy of photography, I had a few years when I just didn't have it in me.  

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, June 05, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - May Mornings in Dyke Marsh

 I continue my nearly daily, morning walks in the National Wildlife Refuge at Dyke Marsh on the shores of the Potomac River just south of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. In another month, this will have been my morning routine for a year.  I have over 10,000 photos. This month everything turned green, filled in, flowered, and the birds fledged. A family of Owls dominated interest the last couple of weeks of the month, with three "chicks" and the two adults hanging out in the trees near the entrance, drawing lots of attention.  The 17 year cicadas are here, making noise and love in the trees.  Providing a feast for the birds.  Here is my monthly indulgence with far too many photos.  

An immature eagle taking flight.  This year's hatchlings started flying this month, leaving the nest often empty.