Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - Mid-Summer Edition

Who am I thinking about? My boss, who says he is going to retire in January.  He has been a great person to work with, a mentor,  and teacher.   

What have I been doing? Work mostly, long walks - even when I am in the office I get off the subway a station or two before my office and walk.  

When am I going to take time off, later this coming week.  J's oldest brother will be in town for a few days.  

Where am I going next?  New York later in August, Nevada in October - I hope - if we are not back in lock down by then. 

Why this format? It seems to work for Spo on Wednesdays, and everything else I write is scary and depressing. Seriously I have left in draft two posts that are too ugly to post.  

How am I doing.  I think okay.  How are you doing? 

Friday, July 30, 2021

Foodie Friday- Pastry Update


I have a long and tortured relationship with pastry, I have written about this before, no reason to bore you with it. Having overcome my irrational fear of pastry, I am learning and exploring.  It is so much more fun when we leave our irrational fears behind.  

I am using Mary Berry's basic sweet pastry as a base and working from there.  Being from the American mid-west, putting an egg in pastry seemed strange, but it does add texture without making the pastry tough.  

All of the pastry gods, say to keep the butter cold, chilled.  Be careful to minimize the melting of the fat in handling.  I ran across a tip recently, freeze the butter, and grate it.  This way the butter is cold, and it is broken into smaller bits before you start blitzing in the flour. It works wonderfully.  

I store extra butter in the freezer.  Using this method, I don't have to remember to take the butter out of the freezer to thaw, but not get warm before I start.  The mix is faster, the result is very good.  

Try different butters.  For daily use we buy mostly Kerrygold Irish Butter.  We find it has a wonderful and consistent flavor.  During COVID it was sometimes in short supply, at times out of stock, and the price went up to reflect that.  I was forced to buy other butters (first world problems here.)  I found a domestic, danish style cultured butter that makes great pastry.  It lacks the flavor depth for table use, or cooking, but it makes a flakier pastry.  So my advice, experiment.  

The photo above, a Blueberry tart.  Pre-bake the tart shell. The filling is a pound of fresh blueberries, half a cup of sugar, a couple of heaping tablespoons of corn starch (corn flour), and about 3/4 cup of brandy.  Cook the filling over medium to medium high heat until the liquid forms a gel. Fill the par-baked tart shell, and bake in a 350-375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Heavenly, and fruity. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Thursday Rambles - What am I up to recently?

 I am still going into the office three days a week.  I really wish the subway system would enforce the mask mandate on public transit.  I try to ride off the peak of the peak of rush, and generally can get away from the crowds.  

I had three writing projects to complete for the office.  A set of materials for an ethics training, an article on a relatively new federal dataset, and a book review.  I was able to express my anger in the ethics materials at some of the senselessness I see, a better society starts with each person doing the right thing.  The defense of "I was only following orders" didn't win at Nuremberg, it doesn't fly today.  The dataset is little known, and has incredible value.  The book was well written, understandable by a person who is not an expert.  

A new staff person, in another project at work, asked me what I liked best about my job (I have been there a dozen years.) I was surprised by my first thought.  I get paid to explore ideas and think deep thoughts.  I have a lot of freedom to develop ideas, to learn, and to share that with others.  I can retire from this job and know that I did something of value. At times over the years I have wondered if I should have become a house painter.  At the end of the day a painter can look at what they have done and clearly see what difference they have made. That is harder to do with what I do, I seldom know if anyone listens or reads, and if they do, does it change anything. Once in a while I get feedback.  I bumped into a member of senior management recently, who told me how what I have written has helped their family with a difficult issue.   

I produce and present a lot of online training.  I was a pioneer in the field of online training 16-17 years ago.  The organization that I was consulting for had a contract with Microsoft for a webinar platform, that allowed up to 50 people online at a time, as I recall they were paying $1,500 a month for that (it might have been more.) My how things have changed, we have a contract for video calls, that includes a webinar platform with up to 500 seats, for $25 a month.  

Presenting a webinar, is talking into the void.  On most of the webinar platforms the presenter can't see the audience. Feedback is limited to polls and questions.  The speaker can't feed off the energy of the audience, the speaker must push the energy from within.  I do a lot of solo shows, presenting alone takes the most work.  I did two this month with a co-presenter, it is easier.  I hope it is better.  I look forward to in-person training again.  

Having finished my year of walking in the swamp, and having started back to the office, I have changed my walking and photography.  Fewer birds, more street scenes.  I am also carrying a compact camera in my office bag, and using it.  I worry that I am walking less, I went to the gym and walked on the treadmill one hot afternoon recently. 

The community center at the condo is in the middle of a total remodel.  The interior was entirely removed, holes cut in the floor (installing an elevator and proper stairway to a lower level that was only accessible down a spiral staircase, or via a back service door.) The restaurant and bar are being expanded, the market right sized, the meeting space made more user friendly, and offices and meeting rooms consolidated. The enclosure around it, and ceiling over the indoor pool are being replaced. The work was much needed.  The building had all of the charm of a mental hospital from the 1970's.  It should reopen early in 2022.  Oh, and the bowling alley was replaced, we have a private bowling alley. 

Stay cool, till next time, 

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesdays - The Harvest Season

Honey bees were the reason my grandfather bought a farm.  He was keeping bees in the city, extracting honey in a former school building in the suburbs of Detroit and the neighbors were unhappy.  Even before the farmhouse was modernized, he built a new concrete block building to set up a "Honey House" and extracting room.  These photos are the original set up, a single steam heated vibrating uncapping knife, a rotating resting rack, and a 50 frame woodman extractor.  There were a couple of generations of wax melters in this set up.  When we moved from shipping in 5-gallon cans to 55 gallon barrels a larger holding tank was installed.  

After my grandfather retired, we remodeled, installing an automated uncapping machine, and a second larger extractor.  Then a couple of years before I finished school and left home, a major remodel with a new floor, a"warming room" added on behind, an improved layout, shifted from steam to hot water, and a massive wax melter.  

I worked in that space for half-a-dozen summers.  Late July, early August were the usual start to our harvest season.  Sometimes earlier in July, if the honey flow was strong or if cash flow was needed.  I learned a lot about work in that space, working through pain and fatigue to get done, what needs to be done.  As farmers, our income for the year was generated in two short months.  We couldn't start much earlier, we needed to finish before the weather started to get colder (the warming room helped, we could leave the hive-boxes sit in 90(f) degree heat for a day or two when things got cold outside.) 

I can't find photos of the later years, after the update, or remodel.  I think it had just become a place of work, at the most intensely busy time of the year, and we didn't document it.  That is a shame.  I was working between those two windows, when I heard that Elvis was dead.  

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Roseate Spoonbill at Home

 Three weeks ago, I ran a photo of a Roseate Spoonbill that is visiting here in northern Virginia. Here is one in his native habitat.  This was taken in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida.  Based on where this photo was in my massive unsorted file, it was taken when I was in Florida waiting for my mother to die.  While I was there, I took some long drives into the backwoods of native Florida.  The north end of the MINWR, has three great drives.  If it hasn't rained a lot recently, the driving trail through the south east on the river side is an amazing place for bird spotting.  Blackwater Drive is more developed, better drained, but also more heavily traveled.  Biolab Road, from the road to the beach back north, is the best place to see alligators in the wild.  On a sunny winter day, you will sometimes see dozens of them warming themselves on the banks of the swamp and streams that run through the area.  

Monday, July 26, 2021

My Music Monday : Good Vibrations the Lost Studio Footage

I don't know why, but I find something magic about watching music being recorded in the studio.  There is an alchemy of instruments and music, the musicians are less concerned about appearances than when on stage, and allow their passion for the music consume them. One of the father's of the Beach Boys was a stage father, strict, controlling, demanding, but also a promoter.  I believe he shot this, likely with a 16mm Bolex - I own one of those - I have never used it.  He was their manager, until they fired him - so they could let their passion rule their music. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Sunday Five - Urges

 I get urges, you know that rising desire.  Urges that become an obsession, that fill my thoughts and dreams. Hence this weeks Sunday five, urges. 

1: If you could fly anyplace in the world today, where would you go? 

2: Do you have an urge for long distance train travel? 

3: Have you ever dreamed of crossing an ocean in a boat? 

4: Do you have an urge to ride in a submarine? 

5: Do you have an urge to ride into near space? 

My answers: 

1: If you could fly anyplace in the world today, where would you go? My random thought is Tokyo, I'd like to see Japan. (Not a good time today, the Olympics are starting and Japan is a bit of a mess.) 

2: Do you have an urge for long distance train travel? Yes, but I want a really comfortable room, then take me across continents. 

3: Have you ever dreamed of crossing an ocean in a boat? Yes, cruiseliner, cargo ship, freighter, or very large private boat, I'd love to. 

4: Do you have an urge to ride in a submarine? It would need to be one of the lucite bubble one's with a great view, in warm waters.  

5: Do you have an urge to ride into near space? Not really, Sir Richard Branson can all he wants.  I would like to fly supersonic, but the stresses and risks of space are beyond my urges.  

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - I am worried about us

I am worried about us, about how we interact with one another. Especially after 17 months of being apart, many of us are craving being together and at the same time we need to work on our togetherness skills.  Let's face it, it has not been an easy 17 months, it is not like we were all on a dream vacation, a slow luxury cruise around the world.  We were home, trying to stay safe, and healthy, and employed, and sane. Trying to find toilet paper, and flour, and yeast (I always have yeast in the freezer.) We had to learn new survival skills, how to wash our hands, how to not get too close to others, how to sign up for a waiting list for vaccines, how to work remotely, how to navigate Zoom, and Teams, and other mysterious platforms.  Some of us might need some time to return to socialization.  Time for kindergarten or preschool for all of us.  

The subway has decided now, just as we are starting to return to the office, it is time to fix a 40 year old ventilation problem on the line that runs under my office, so they will be single tracking for 6 weeks.  To avoid the chaos, I am riding an alternate line to station 10 minutes walk from my desk.  I need to get exercise so in the morning I am getting off one station farther away and walking.  It is a nice 15-20 minute walk, a good start on my 30-60 minutes each day. That is a long way around to get to someone I am seeing often. There is a man at the corner of 15th Street Northwest and K-Street Northwest, right in the heart of lobbyist land, who comes out every morning, sits on a folding chair on the corner in front of a coffee shop and wishes everyone a "GOOD MORNING!"  He shouts, he blows a whistle to get people's attention so he can shout at them. People avoid him like the plague, I can just imagine the lawyers in the office tower trying to find a way to move him from that sidewalk. Maybe he is homeless, maybe is mentally challenged, or mentally ill, maybe he is lottery winner who has devoted his life to wishing the world a good morning.  I don't know but people are avoiding him, and that worries me. 

The first morning I kept my distance, he looks - well not entirely normal - whatever normal would look like.  But then he is sitting on a busy street corner in the heart of a major world capital bellowing out GOOD MORNING to passers by, what can I expect him to look like.  The second morning, I went closer, close enough to make eye contact and I said, "GOOD MORNING TO YOU, You have a great day!" And he said, "thank you, you too." 

I am worried about us, worried that we would avoid a dear soul who only wants to wish us a Good Morning, a good day!  Maybe I will join him when I retire, wishing the world a GOOD MORNING!  Everyone needs something to do, some purpose in life, his is to wish the world a good morning.  

At the end of our department meeting, the boss asked if anyone had done anything interesting, or heard a good joke. A colleague said she could certainly use a good laugh. Then the Zoom call ended.  I thought about it for a minute, and went to YouTube and looked at clips from some of my favorite feeds.  Everyone of them was potentially offensive to some sensitive person.  I thought about the mandatory training on workplace harassment, and hostile workplace and couldn't find a roll on the floor laughing clip that wasn't potentially offensive to someone.  

I am worried that we have lost our sense of humor in the workplace.  Too many things offend someone.  I recently was asked to take the word "vulnerable" as in "vulnerable adult" out of a PowerPoint because someone was offended by the term (it is used in many state adult abuse statutes to describe a person covered under the statute.) To quote a line from a Jimmy Buffet song, "if we can't all laugh, we  all go insane."  Oh sorry, that might offend someone.  Laughter is great medicine.  Certainly the ethnic and blond jokes of the past are no longer appropriate, but there has to something funnier than Seinfeld that we can share. I never understood the humor in Seinfeld. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Foodie Friday - Flashback Chilli Sauce

 The experts tell us that a normal impact of aging is a change in taste, often resulting in desiring for or tolerating more spice.  When I was in high school my grandparents started looking to spice up their lives, their food at least, and my grandmother decided to make chilli sauce a couple of summers.  

Chilli sauce has lots of tomatoes, onions, and peppers in it.  She used mostly bell peppers so not to much spice, but there were a few hot peppers included.  Those were the summers when I was helping her care for my grandfather who had dementia, so I was around a lot, and I was recruited to help making the chilli sauce.  We started by prepping the veggies, washing, trimming, and cutting them into chunks.  Then the whole lot went through a grinder set up for a coarse grind.  The grinder was a classic cast metal contraption that clamped to the counter top.  I turned the wood handle for an hour, feeding through the chopped veggies, spewing out into plastic dish tubs.  She must have made two or three gallons.  She cooked it down on the stove top, we packed it in pint jars and she ran it through a pressure canner.  She would can 50-100 quarts of green beans every summer, and 50 or so pints of applesauce. 

I keep commercial chilli sauce on hand.  The other night I was making a classic Cleveland Salad, Iceberg lettuce, tomato, a little onion, and  thousand island dressing.  Except, I didn't have thousand island dressing on hand.  No problem, a couple of heaping spoons full of mayonaise, a spoon of sweet pickle relish, and a generous couple of spoons of chili sauce, stir it up, adjust to taste, and there you have it. 

Once in a while, I get the nesting urge, to follow in my grandmother's footsteps and start canning.  A long nap often helps ease those urges.   

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Thursday Rambles - Mid Summer Edition

The Tour de France finished in Paris last Sunday.  Finishing three wonderful weeks of watching the beautiful French countryside. My ex worked for a road construction company, that was bought by a French company. The first time I was in Paris, in the dying year of that relationship, we went to visit the company headquarters in Paris.  

The Olympics, delayed a year, will be starting in Japan this week.  Lots of things to see and enjoy.  Japan is still on the list of places I want to visit.  

I ran across the Simon Says above in a toy shop.  When I was in my teens, someone - I think it was my sister - bought me one of those for Christmas one year.  As I recall the lights and beeps vary in pattern, and the goal is to repeat the pattern, sort of a test of short term memory.  It is interesting the toys that persist or are brought back into production.  

I have been going to the pool often.  I started during my week off earlier this month.  I limit myself to 30-45 minutes, some swimming, some just floating mindlessly.  I was laying there recently watching the clouds roll by, and realized it has been decades since I have laid back and watched the clouds roll by on a warm summer afternoon.  We should do that more often.  My father use to love flying through the edges and tops of the clouds.  He called it poking holes in the sky.

I am settling into going to the office three days a week, working from home two days a week.  I have become spoiled working at home, and having two computers running side by side.  One for the video call, the second one to take notes, or edit documents, or do a quick search for resources.  I am seriously thinking about buying a second computer for my office (the office won't issue two computers, I have asked.) 

The person who won some kind of a bidding war, to get a seat next to Jeff Bazos on the Origin Blue flight into near space, had to cancel because of a schedule conflict.  What kind of a scheduled conflict would justify cancelling the opportunity to travel to 330,000 feet at several times the speed of sound? The seat was snapped up for an 18 year old from the Netherlands, whose father reportedly paid the bill. It must have been some really hard to get doctors appointment for me to cancel an adventure like that.   

Time flies, how can it be late July already?

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Wisdom of Age

I read this one on Facebook, edited it a little tiny bit, and felt the need to share.  No reason to wait until we are older to learn these simple lessons. 

I asked a friend who has crossed 70 & is heading towards 80 what

sort of changes he is feeling in himself?  He sent me the following:

1.  After loving my parents, my siblings, my spouse, my children

and my friends, I have now started loving myself.

2.  I have realized that I am not “Atlas”. The world does not rest

on my shoulders.

3.  I have stopped bargaining with vegetable & fruit vendors. A few

pennies more is not going to break me, but it might help the

fellow save for his daughter’s school fees.

4.  I leave my waitress a big tip. The extra money might bring a

smile to her face. She is toiling much harder for a living than I am.

5.  I stopped telling the older person that they've already told me

that story many times. The story makes them walk down

memory lane & relive their past.

6.  I have learned not to correct people even when I know they are

wrong. The onus of making everyone perfect is not on me. Peace

is more precious than perfection.

7.  I give compliments freely & generously. Compliments are a

mood enhancer not only for the recipient, but also for me.  And a

small tip for the recipient of a compliment, never, NEVER turn it

down, just say "Thank You.”

8.  I have learned not to bother about a crease or a spot on my

shirt. Personality speaks louder than appearances.

9.  I walk away from people who don't value me. They might not

know my worth, but I do.

10.  I remain cool when someone plays dirty to outrun me in the

rat race. I am not a rat & I am not in a race.

11.  I am learning not to be embarrassed by my emotions. It’s my

emotions that make me human.

12.  I have learned that it's better to drop the ego than to break

a relationship. My ego will keep me aloof, whereas with relationships,

I will never be alone.

13.  I have learned to live each day as if it's the last. After all, it might

be the last.

14.  I am doing what makes me happy. I am responsible for my

happiness, and I owe it to myself. Happiness is a choice.

You can be happy at any time, just choose to be!


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Old San Juan

Until we start traveling again, I will fall back on random photos from past travels.  Before moving to DC, I had a consulting contract with a national membership organization for retired persons, to do training for them.  Yes, that organization, membership starts at 50, and they have dropped retired from their official name.  

Over 7 years, I did about 30 programs for them, most of them in routine places, a few places I am glad I went to, but hope I never have to go back to.  But there were a few really spectacular venues.  Alaska, California, Montana, and Old San Juan Puerto Rico.  

The training in San Juan was held at the Hilton on the water.  My room had a view of the waves crashing on the rocks.  The hosts were warm and welcoming.  The audience were bilingual,  I am not, so the program was in English.  We used simultaneous translation for question and answer time (an amazing experience.) 

I was only there a couple of nights.  I barely left the hotel. But everything I saw, and everyone I met, makes me want to go back.   

Monday, July 19, 2021

My Music Monday : The Doors Light My Fire Ed Sullivan Show 1967

This one got stuck in my head recently, I just needed to share it.  The Video stops moving a minute or so in, it is not your computer, but the sound continues. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

The Sunday Five - Dog Days of Summer

 I wrote a couple of deep thinking Sunday posts, too much thinking for the hot dog days of summer. So I will move one on down the calendar.  And try something easier today. 

1: Do you have a dog? 

2: Did you grow up with dogs?

3: Have you ever been bitten by a dog? 

4: Given the choice of a large dog or a tiny dog, which for you? 

5: Are there bad dogs, or just untrained owners? 

My answers:

1: Do you have a dog? No, I can't see either of us following a dog around with a plastic bag on our hand. 

2: Did you grow up with dogs?  Outdoor hunting dogs. 

3: Have you ever been bitten by a dog? No. 

4: Given the choice of a large dog or a tiny dog, which for you? Tiny, something older and mello. 

5: Are there bad dogs, or just untrained owners? I think the owners are usually the problem for ill behaved dogs. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - Keep Rowing Your Boat

There are several college and High School rowing programs that practice on the Potomac River.  Young, fit, rowers.  I recently saw this boat, take a closer look, the crew are older, the guy in the front (in the red shirt - the crew faces the stern of the boat) is kinda round.  I was so pleased to see a boat full of adults, rowing and having fun.  

I was a non-traditional undergrad student, I worked full time, went to school half time, I spent the better part of 10 years earning and paying for my four year college degree.  I was easily 10 years older than the average undergrad student.  A group of us were sitting around talking one evening before class, and someone suggested that we put together a crew team of older students.  This was at my peak gym bunny days, I was on that idea in a flash.  It took a few calls around town, the college coaches declined our idea, but sent us to an independent coach across town.  We ranged in age from 25 to about 50, in weight from about 100 pounds, to one woman who was slightly over 200 pounds - there was a 200 pound limit on the boat - we fudged a little on her weight, she so wanted to be there. (I was about 170 at the time.) We practiced a couple of mornings a week, at sunrise, on a small lake.  It was great fun.  I learned the technique.  I learned about working together as a team.  I loved gliding across the water as the sunrose.  

We stopped after three months, the coach who turned out to be a bit of a jerk, wanted us to get rid of one of the rowers, but he wouldn't tell us who he thought the problem was, or really what the problem was.  He didn't like someone and thought that person was holding us all back.  Our thought was let's identify what we can work on to do better, but he was - well he was too much of a jerk who didn't understand a group of adults who were getting more out of being together gliding across the water than being the fastest boat on the water. In a stalemate of him demanding that we cut the weakness, and the crew saying no we are having fun, we parted ways. Without the coach, we didn't have access to the boats. 

I am glad I did it, my only regret is that it didn't continue.  I wonder if the coach ever figured out that he was being a jerk. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

Foodie Friday - Last Friday Fussy Foods in Georgetown

As I mentioned last Saturday, I took last week off.  I didn't look at my office email for a week, I did take two calls, one scheduled, one unscheduled.  The scheduled call was the only time available in the calendar of a highly placed government official, the unscheduled call - well I never should have given a couple of people my home number.  

Sweetie bear suggested that while I was off we should do something different, he suggested a boat ride on the Potomac River.  There are several boats that start or stop at the end of King Street in the nearby old town Alexandria.  We picked one that went to and from Georgetown.  When he showed me the schedule, I picked one that left here at 11:30, arrived in Georgetown before 12:30, with a 2:15-2:30 return.  Just enough time for a nice lunch. And oh what a lunch it was. 

The restaurant had a three course pre-fix lunch menu available. The smoke in the second photo is liquid nitrogen freeze drying the herbs for the appetizer course. Somehow I missed taking pictures of the first course, I had a salad, Jay had a cheese and fruit plate topped with the freeze dried herbs.  It was tasty, in addition to being a bit of tableside theater. For the mains Jay had a fish dish, I had papadeli in a heavenly bolognese sauce.  Dessert, I had the chocolate tiramisu,  he had freshly made doughnut balls, with a strawberry cream sauce that was to die for. The food was great, nice fussy, creative.  The service was relaxed, entertaining, and knowledgeable.  It was not cheap, I may have set a new personal record on spending for lunch, but very worth every penny. Not something I would do everyday, but when you have a chance why not?  

When was the last time you had fussy foods? 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Thursday - Random Rambles Again

I love the photo.  I try not to publish photos of people I don't know, if you can identify who the person is.  No idea who the kid is, and you really can't tell from the photo.  That is the Lincoln Memorial in the distance he is looking at.

On my way home from the farmer's market last Saturday, I was thinking, a year from now, I will only have a year to go until retirement.  Having taken a week off, I have to say I am about ready.  There are a few things I need to write, and say, in my last couple of years on the national stage, then I want to encourage new ideas and new voices.  A few years ago I volunteered to continue a national conference, and being in charge I have tried to bring new voices to the stage each year, sometimes over the objection of experienced voices. 

Several times recently I have overheard bits of conversations that remind me that I am surrounded by people who think about radiation exposure and nerve gas. I went by a building the other day that had an anti-aircraft missile battery along the side, no idea what is in that building, but someone wants to keep it secure.  Lots of people doing interesting things, that they can't really tell you about. 

The Tour de France will finish in Paris this weekend.  I have so enjoyed watching again this year.  Someday I will be there.  Our current board chair is in Paris, she and 11 friends bought an apartment in Paris, she owns July.  They agreed no rentals, no guests other than family.  Maybe she will watch the finale for me on Sunday.  

I have been in the pool several times recently.  It had been 2 or 3 years since I last went to the pool.  The condo has indoor and outdoor pools.  The indoor pool I have only used a couple of times.  The outdoor pool is only open for three months in the summer.  It is large, nice, fun.  I should use it more.  The indoor pool will be closed until after New Years, the community center in undergoing a total renovation.  It needed it, it had all of the charm of a 1980's nursing home inside.  

I was reading and missed my change of trains on the subway coming home on Monday afternoon.  Logically, I knew where to go to backtrack, but instinctively I found myself disoriented.  On my regular route, I know the feel of what direction to go, what is north, south, east and west, all while being underground.  I followed the logic, only by overcoming the urge urge to go up to street level to reorient myself.  Strange feeling that. 


Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - The First Dance

 I was the little ring bearer at Edith and Dick's wedding, I have very few memories of it.  The tradition of the first dance.  Immortalized in one of my father's slides. I was walking in old town Alexandria, and there was a young couple practicing in the park for their first dance.  As Anne Marie reminded us, Dance Like No One is Watching! 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Travel Photos

A few years ago a colleague and her husband went to Argentina one summer on a ski trip.  We had a group lunch shortly after she returned and she was passing around her Ipad with the photos from the trip.  Every photo, was either her, or him, or the two of them.  There were no photos of the place they had been, all photos of the two of them.

Travel photos should document something about where you have been, what you have seen.  I love sweeping landscapes or close ups of wildlife, birds, bugs, critters, and flowers.  In urban areas streetscapes, grand buildings, details of buildings, shop windows, and people.  Museums offer a plethora of photo ops.  I have to remind myself to include the occasional selfie, photo of my sweet bear, and pictures of the two of us to document where we have been, what we have seen, what we have done.  Jay has a wonderful collection of photos of me walking away, I have longer legs and move faster, he slows to study the details and I don't realize he is behind until I hear the camera.  

There is a balance here.  

Travel photos can be taken with any camera. The only camera I took to Hawaii was a Samsung Galaxy phone (the night before leaving I discovered I had broken my Lumix camera with a Leica lens.) Today I take one DLSR, and at least two lenses, giving me a range from wide angle to moderate telephoto.  For grand landscapes I will add a super wide angle lens to the bag.  All of that weighs less than the 35mm SLRs I carried in the past.  

I have been watching YouTube videos from photographers. There is a wide array of young photographers who have rediscovered film cameras.  I do have one comment for them - well two. Clean your gear, in the photos of their cameras the cameras are of filthy, dusty, nasty.  Dust is the enemy of photographer, a grain of sand in the wrong place will dominate an image.  The only defense is to clean your gear.  Second, put a clear or UV filter on your lenses to protect them.  One of the YouTubers comments that a filter would somehow change the image quality of a lens, BS, a good filter is optically neutral.  What a filter does is protect the front element of your lens from dust, dirt, and spray. A filter gives you a smooth clean surface to clean, and if it gets messed up, you screw it off and replace it.  If the front element of your lenses gets scratched, you buy another lens.  This ties into keeping your gear clean, a filter makes it easier to clean.  And because you are dealing with $10 worth of glass on the front, you can be a lot more careless in cleaning.  

An old joke, Why did children's portrait photographers always carry a bottle of vodka their camera bags.  The Paul Lynde answer, "have you met the kids?" Real answer, alcohol makes a good lens cleaning solvent, and dries quickly.  

Monday, July 12, 2021

Music Monday : Hyundai x Boston Dynamics | Welcome to the Family with BTS

I love Spot, the robot dog from Boston Dynamics, not  big fan of K-Pop or BTS, but I thought it was cute.  Could you imaging the dude above, with two Spots, he would have to lose the crocks, I don't think Spot hangs out with guys wearing crocks. 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Sunday Five : Panic - Am I Losing You

My Sunday Five post has been up for 12 hours, and only three responses, and two of those were clear expressions that I went to deep - asked questions that were to weird.  

Sorry, I don't want to lose you. 

Simpler Five:

1: Is the image above better in color or black & white?

2: Are you are gardener? 

3: Do you know anyone who is colorblind? 

4: Are there any plants that sort of freak you out if you touch them, or is that only me? 

5: What was the last thing you took a photo of? 

The Sunday Five - What Will You Do This Week

  1. What will you do this week to create beauty in the world?
  2. What will you do this week to learn something new? 
  3. What will you do this week to be reach out to another person? 
  4. What will you do this week to help another person?
  5. What will you do this week to add value to the world? 
My answers:
  1. What will you do this week to create beauty in the world? Capture photos to share online.
  2. What will you do this week to learn something new?  Read. 
  3. What will you do this week to be reach out to another person? I will write a letter to someone. 
  4. What will you do this week to help another person? Be randomly kind to people.
  5. What will you do this week to add value to the world? Write something for work, that helps others understand the issues and challenges of older adults, and the role we all play in creating change. 
Please share your answers in the comments.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - What Have I Been Up To?

 I took a week off, actually 10 days in a row off.  The motivation is complicated.  My office is changing the policy on accumulating vacation time, reducing the number of hours I can accumulate, and changing from a carry over cap to an accrual cap. Meaning I not only needed to use up hours to get below the lowered limited before the end of the accounting year, I need to take enough time off to stay below the limit, or I don't earn additional hours until I have used hours to get below the limit.  I need to schedule a couple of days off in September and October or I will stop accruing time.  

What did I do?  I bought another camera.  There are still a few things I would like to have.  You can never have too many. I have been diving deeper into the menus and settings on the cameras.  They really are computers that capture images, and can do amazing things.  I am continuing to play with the large format photo printer.  I am thinking about covering a wall in my office with 11 by 17 inch photo prints from the 15 months away from the office.   

I have finished a year of morning walks in the Dyke Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.  I started fourth of July weekend of 2020.  It has become a habit, something I feel incomplete if I don't do it.  My pre-covid office clothes fit, it has to be the 45 minutes to an hour of walking almost every day that explains why the clothes still fit.  I have a ton of photos, and about 20 pages of text written for a personal book about a year of mornings in the marsh.  Now that I have completed the year, I may mix it up with walks at Huntley Meadows, and long walks in the District when I am coming and going from the office.  The longer I have lived here, the less I see of the city that I love.  I can change that.  

I have been cooking, I love to cook, and being off gives me time.  I just need to find inspiration.  I have been sleeping, long nights, and afternoon naps.  I have been watching the Tour de France.  The live coverage is on early morning here. When I am in the office, if I am lucky I catch parts of the replay later in the day.  Being off, has allowed me to watch live.  Something to look forward in retirement is three weeks each summer of watching the live coverage of the Tour. Someday, I am going to France to watch the peloton thunder by.  

I have finished travel plans for Nevada in October.  I am speaking at a conference in Reno, then we are staying at the south end of Lake Tahoe for a few days - just across the state line in California.  

We did a little shopping, took a run to the electronics recycling place  to get rid of a couple of old printers.  

I have been reading, I will likely have finished book number 31 for 2021 by the time this posts on Saturday.  I had finally figured out how to fit reading into my daily routine, and bringing back my subway commute adds at least an hour of reading time to each day I go to the office. My plan is to return to the office three days a week starting next week.  

Well that is kind of the most of it.  What have you been up to? 

Friday, July 09, 2021

Foodie Friday - Carrot Gazpacho


In keeping with cool summer soups, how about cold carrot gazpacho? I was at the farmers market recently and saw these amazing carrots and fresh ginger, I thought of cold carrot soup. 

2 - oversized carrots about 1 pound

1 small Onion

2 stalks of celery 

1 medium tomato 

cucumber - about 1 cup chopped

Fresh Ginger - about 1 inch chunk 

splash of white wine vinegar 

splash of maple syrup 

salt and pepper 

dash of hot sauce 

1/2 cup water

Peel and chunk the carrots, and steam until tender, about 20-minutes.  Chill. 

Chop veggies into medium chunks, liquify with a stick blender, blender of food processor.  Adjust spice to taste.  Chill, serve cold.  It is a little sweet, the hot sauce added some depth of flavor. My first attempt turned out a bit thick, you can thin with water to a more soup like consistency.  Again, filled with flavor and fresh veggies, and cool on a hot summer day. 

Thursday, July 08, 2021

Thursday Rambles - Perspective

How we see or understand things, so changes what we see or understand.  

A couple of recent news items.  

Bill Cosby was released from prison.  The prosecutor, broke an agreement, resulting in the admission of evidence in the criminal trial, that the prosecutors office had previously agreed they would not use.  The outcome is painful, but I think the judge did the right thing. The conviction was the result of using evidence that should not have been used by the state. It is hard to say if that evidence made a difference, but the state has to stand by it's word, or face the consequences.  I still wouldn't let my loved one's party with him in a hotel room.  

A high rise condo in Florida collapsed, killing what will likely be 100 people by the time they are finished searching through the rubble.  I live in a reinforced concrete high rise.  There are tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of building like this around the world, and collapses are rare, but they can happen.  Usually a result of defective construction, and or lack of maintenance.  The lack of maintenance was obvious in Florida. The board had been fighting for several years over the need to repair deterioration of the structure, no one wants to pay, but high rise buildings are expensive to maintain or repair.  When I was condo shopping here in Northern Virginia, I looked at a couple of places that had much lower monthly maintenance fees - and it showed.  I stepped out on the the terrace on one, and felt that it was going to fall off, I looked over and the brick was seperating from the wall ten stories up.  My condo fee is high, higher than the mortgage payment on my first house - but the buildings are meticulously maintained.  As I see it, you get what you pay for.  If you don't pay for it, it falls down.  

I bought another camera.  I had been thinking for sometime now that I wanted a second one, at times it will be handy to be able to change lenses without changing lenses, just grab the second camera, and I wanted a back up, in event of a mechanical failure.  Cameras are pretty reliable, but they are machines and they can break.  A few weeks ago I looked and the salesmen kept showing me the latest and greatest, trying to convince me that I would be happier with the newest.  What I really wanted was a second one of what I have.  I went back last Friday, and was helped by a different salesmen, who understood what I have, what I wanted and why.  He had taken in trade a slightly updated version of the Nikon D5500 DSLR I have been using. I can tell that it has been out of the box, but it looks like new. It works like new, and less than half the price of new.  And it came with a updated version of one of the lenses I already owned.  Again a little back up against future failure, the auto focus mechanism is in the lens, and those will fail in time. Oh, and I can't help myself when looking at a used anything, I simply asked "what is your best price on that?" and he took 6% off the price marked on the box. 

The four images above, are the same scene.  With different effect filters.  Really changes the perspective, depending on how you look at it.     

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Early Memories

 My family visited the south rim of the Grand Canyon in March of 1964, we stayed at the Bright Angel Lodge, one of the grand old National Park Lodges. It is still there. We were there on my sisters birthday, March 18th.  I remember arriving, standing at the railing, and looking in awe at the Canyon.  I have very vague memories of the hotel room, a big roll top bathtub.  I have vague memories of the dinning room, astronauts were staying at the hotel, training with geologists for the moon missions that were being planned,  they were at the table next to us at breakfast one morning. Is that an original memory, or one formed from being told the story?  I was just a wee lad.