Sunday, October 31, 2021

The Sunday Five - Wisdom of the ages

 1: Would you sooner be young and dumb or older and wiser? 

2: How do you really feel about graying hair? 

3: How old do you aspire to live to? 

4: Have you ever lied about your age? 

5: Do people think you are younger than you are, older than you are, or do most people think you look about the age you are? 

My answers:

1: Would you sooner be young and dumb or older and wiser?  Older and wiser. 

2: How do you really feel about graying hair? I am glad I still had some hair left to turn gray. 

3: How old do you aspire to live to? About 80.  

4: Have you ever lied about your age? No.

5: Do people think you are younger than you are, older than you are, or do most people think you look about the age you are?  Today, most people think I am younger than I am, when I was a teenager, most people thought I was older than I was.  The new dentist thought I was in my late 40's, I can still remember my late 40's.  

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post: Feeling the Sun

Sometimes I wonder about the future.  I watch folks glued to their screens, held captive to the created world of social media, video and games, their ears filled with a constant sound track of recorded sounds.  

I was out walking recently, I paused and I could hear the leaves on the trees shimmering in the breeze.  Looking up I could see their shuddering, almost shivering in the wind and the sun.  If I had been looking down, I wouldn't have seen it, if I had my ears filled with noise, I would have missed the sound.  There is a joke about reaching the age when you turn down the music in the car when you are searching for a street address so you can see better.  But it is true.  I do it, I see others do it. People devote their life to trying to unravel the workings of our brains, this piece is simple, concentration is enhanced with less distraction.  Why? I have no clue. Maybe we lack bandwidth, or processing power - Apple would simply upgrade.  

I do know that when I am listening to what is happening around me, I see things I don't see when I am distracted.  People who have sensory differences, perceive the world differently.  60 minutes did an amazing report on an architect who lost his eyesight in a one-in-a-million medical event.  His career blossomed after his change, as he learned to perceive the world differently through sound, contact, and even smell.  

I met a man in his late 20's recently who lives with autism.  As a child and young adult he was classified and non-communicative.  With modern school practices he attended classes with his peers, but he had no output, nothing to grade.  When he turned 18 his parents became his guardian, basically being told you have a child for a lifetime.  In his early 20's a new therapist put a keyboard with images on it in front of him and started asking him to press the button for things he saw on the board as she read off a list of possibles.  He scored 100%.  It is a system called rapid prompting.  He has progress to a standard computer keyboard.  As he will tell you, his brain works, he learned to read, write and think along with his peers, but the outside of his body didn't communicate what was in his mind.  His motor control is too weak for handwriting to be legible.  

We know so much, we know so little about how our minds work.  We are all works in progress, keep practicing, keep trying new things.  

Friday, October 29, 2021

Foodie Friday - In defense of Canned Meats

 An old friend of mine was advised to eat more seafood, and she bought fresh Tuna steaks, cooked them, and hated them.  The fresh Tuna didn't taste like Tuna from a can.  Now I happen to like fresh Tuna and canned Tuna and recognize that they are two very different tastes, textures, experiences.  

There are many canned meats, or canned meat products that are almost unrelated to their fresh counterparts.  Corned beef from a can, is very -very different from a freshly cooked corned beef, or even a corned beef sandwich from the deli.  Again, I think all of these are delightful, but they are different.  If you go into one, expecting it to be like the other, you are destined to be disappointed.  

I happen to enjoy Spam.  Now there really is no fresh equivalent for this canned pork product.  Spam is not really a cut of pork, it is lots of bits and pieces processed into Spam, a one of a kind product.  The French do some potted meats that get close to Spam, but they are generally grainier and spreadable.  Spam is a bit salty, but once you get past that, it is just a unique food product.  I know, we really don't like to think about food products, but then what is a sausage, or a hot dog, or a twinky (made sure I add the "y" to that.) I can understand the "it is not like anything else" that is true, sometimes the haters need to overlook their expectations and let the salt, and fat provide joy to their taste buds.   

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Thursday Rambles - Seasons

Having lived in the semi-tropical climate of Florida for two-decades, and having grown to love the subtle change of seasons in the middle latitudes, I have have a different view of seasons than many people. Dare I say, I am an outlier on my views.  Florida has four seasons, and they are not, tourist, hurricane, steam, and citrus.    

Having made the choice to move farther north, I have to admit I struggle a bit with the more drastic changes of season.  At this time of the year, I struggle with it being dark when I leave for the office, and dark when I return home.  This was a little easier when I was earning a living in my bedroom, but still the short hours of daylight impact my mood and alertness. 

I enjoy the colors of the change of seasons.  There are rare areas in central Florida with deciduous hardwood trees, that display the same colors that are common in colder climates.  I also enjoy the soft greens of new growth, something all climates have when you know what to look for.  

Summers are summers, often too warm or humid. 

Winters, for me the beauty and novelty of snow is very short lived.  And I dislike the long cold periods.  Florida has cold snaps, hard frosts, freezes, and even occasional snow flakes.  And Florida is ill prepared for it, with homes built to stay cool, not warm easily.  

Someone told me once that if the earth stopped spinning, we would most likely sink into it, so stopping the seasons is not an option.  Jay has an old friend who lives in Chicago and hates winters, so he has started booking two to three months on cruise ships in warmer climates every winter.  The joys of retirement, a well funded retirement.   

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - More Cars

 This is the second house I built for myself in Florida, really the third one, I built one that I never lived in, between number 1 and number 2. Long story, that is how my ex ended up as my brother's next door neighbor for a couple of years.  I will try to unpack that one someday. 

In the garage are two great little cars.  A mid 1980's charcoal grey Honda Civic LX.  Honda literally sold a million of them, and probably half of them in that color. It was comfortable, easy to drive and reliable.  I bought used, again late one evening, I traded the wife's Corolla on it, a car I had bought used from the Honda dealer 3 or 4 years earlier, and got nearly more for it, than I had paid for it.  For a couple of years we had two white toyota corollas.  The Civic went with the ex, to the house next door to my brother.   

Next to it is a mid 1980's Mazda GLC station wagon. I forget what year the Mazda was, if you look up what years Mazda sold the GLC wagon in the United States, this one is a year newer than that.  It was what was known as a grey market or swimmer.  It had been a rental car on an Island in the caribbean.  A Mazda dealer in Orlando had struck a deal to replace a bunch of rental cars, and taken these in trade.  It only had about 10,000 miles on it, and I got a great price on it.  It was spartan but comfortable enough.  Of all of the cars I have owned, it is the one that I regret parting with.  It was so simple and reliable.  It truly was a Great Little Car (GLC.)    

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Travel Tuesday - Enter Stage Right

Back in March of 2020, we spent a night in London, and met our dear friends Duncan and Stephen for dinner a private club in the theater district.  We took the Tube across town, got terribly lost with Ms. Google giving us directions to walk in the wrong direction, called Stephen who came and rescued us.  On the way back to the club (that sadly has since closed and is not expected to reopen) we passed this stage door.  It had been the entrance to his work, on and off for a few years.  He is a lighting technician, lighting director in London Theaters.  

He announced recently, that he will soon be returning to work.  What joy, the lights in the theaters are coming back on, enter stage right! 

Monday, October 25, 2021

Music Monday: For the Week before Halloween The Addams Family Intro

Why would I be shaking so much when I took this photo?  (F/22 and 1/6th of a second. - trying for depth of field.) 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Sunday Five - Airlines

 Remember traveling by airline, going the airport, checking in, the joys of TSA, being packed in like sardines, airline food, and waiting at baggage claim; the good old days, I can vaguely remember them.  

This weeks Sunday five:

1: Have you flown on Frequent Flyer miles or points? 

2: Have you ever been upgraded to first class without paying for it? 

3: Do you normally check a bag when you fly? 

4: Is there an airline you hope to never fly again? 

5: Do you have any pending travel plans? 

My answers:

1: Have you flown on Frequent Flyer miles or points?  Many, many times, most of my trips to Europe. 

2: Have you ever been upgraded to first class without paying for it?

A few times, the first time I checked in, cleared security and was walking to the gate and an airline employee came up next to me and said, "pardon me, I think you are on the flight to Detroit, would you mind being upgraded to first class, I need to move weight forward in the plane and you look like you will do."   

3: Do you normally check a bag when you fly?  Almost always. I get free checked bags on my two most commonly used airlines. 

4: Is there an airline you hope to never fly again? Not that bad, but United is close to being on my never fly them again list. 

5: Do you have any pending travel plans? Yes, soon, for the first time in 18 months.  

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post: the Man In the Mirror

An unusual closeup, of the man in the mirror.  

I have always been a little insecure about my looks.  Over the years I have been fat, rail thin, and back to pleasingly plump.  At times I have dressed stylishly, and for the better part of a decade I wore suits to the office. I had a closet full of nicely fitted and increasingly expensive suits. Starting in my 20's, my dress shirts go out to be washed, starched and ironed. Over the past 20 years, work attire has become more casual, I have some nice jackets, but no suits in my closet. I am much more comfortable as casual.  I worry less about what others think of what I wear.  Yes, I am the older guy in the dad jeans, I am not trying to look decades younger than I am, I am trying to look comfortable in my skin and in what I am wearing, and for the most part I am. 

I have never had my hair colored or permed.  For several years I was friends with a couple top stylists in central Florida.  I knew Gary and Shawn, before Gary came out, divorced and married Shawn.  Both of them are brilliant, and I found it relaxing to sit in the chair and let them do whatever they wanted - the only stressful part was the bill - not cheap - but worth it. When we left central Florida I bounced around trying and failing to find someone who could do what they did, and do it nearly as well.  I have settled into mediocre cuts.  Today there is not much left on top, it is long on the sides and back, pulled back and tied up. And I really don't care.  A shorter cut would be easier, but I don't feel like spending that much time in contact with a person who spends hours each day in close contact with random strangers.  

I have never fussed with my skin, no moisturizers or cover ups. What you see is what nature gave me.  

The beard started with a no-shave November and a long trip to Florida for Thanksgiving.  I keep it because it is easy, and I can be lazy that way. I run a trimmer over it every two or three weeks.  

Glasses, I wear glasses when I am driving, in meetings, or out to dinner.  I had them on here, because the eyepiece on the camera is corrected for my glasses, and without wearing my glasses the viewfinder is fuzzy. And this lens requires manual focus. Most of the time around the house, and at my desk my glasses are laying on the desk.  I wear cheap single vision glasses to watch TV. 

What is in the image?  It was taken in the mirror over the sink at the end my bedroom. A bit of an unusual layout, the sink and cabinet are at the end of the bedroom, open to the bedroom, the shower and toilet are in the space with the sliding door to the right on this image.  I took most of the photos on the walls, the exception being the black and white print with the flamingo above the hand towel, that one I bought at the Winter Park Art Fair, many years go.  And yes there is a penguin on the counter top wearing two strings of pearls.  One string is real, one fake, only he and I know which is is which.  I found those in the top of the safe, on my last sweep of my parents house before the estate sale people took over.  In other words they were nearly overlooked and lost when we cleaned out the house.  None of us had noticed the drawer in the top of dad's safe.  

This is a 180 degree view, at less than one foot from the mirror.  I am going to have some fun with this toy.  The white lines on the side, are a rectangle. More on that after Christmas, I had to test it make sure it worked, it WORKS JUST FINE!  

Friday, October 22, 2021

Foodie Friday Baked Apple Apple Pie

My mother would occasionally make baked apples,  core the apply, fill it with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and bake for an hour or so at 350-375f. The skin is left on the apple, the center becomes a sweet, tasty, spice heaven.  

It is fall and the apples in the farmers market look amazing, I was think tart tatin, with a caramel sauce made with butter, brown sugar, spices.  

I rolled those two into a baked apple, apple pie. 
The pastry is Mary Berry's basic sweet crust.   I rolled it kind of thick, did a nice crimp around the top, lined with baking paper, pie beans and blind baked it for about 20 minutes at 375f. 
I cut the apples in wedges, coring them, and leaving the skin on.  This took three jumbo size apples.  
For the sauce, I melted butter in a sauce pan, added brown sugar, cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg.  I cooked that until it started to carmelize, forming a sauce.  I was concerned that it was not thick enough, and that the liquids from the apples would make a sloppy pie, so I added about a tablespoon of cornstarch a minute before removing from the heat. 
I arranged the apple wedges in the partially baked pastry, taking care to form a pattern.  Poured the caramel sauce over, and baked at 375f for about 45 minutes. 

So how much butter and sugar?  About 4-5 ounces of butter, and 1/3 of a cup of sugar. I don't really measure such things.   

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Thursday Rambles - Warts and All?

Roundstone Harbor at low tide, Ireland March 2020

Last weekend, Spo the dear one, posted about courage and disclosing warts and all.  We all have insecurities. Disclosure takes courage.  Most of us worry too much about what others might think, and not enough about ourselves and our needs. We all have a public side, and a private side.  

Blogging is a unique media.  Sort of a public diary, yet even here we edit, we craft what we want people to see and think.  There are things we long to talk about and don't.  Some popular blogs appear to be more of an open book, but without getting to know the person behind the blog, do we really know if what we see, is all there is to the person? I have seen a few bloggers go very transparent, then disappear, maybe out of a fear that they had said to much. 

What would be my short of list of things  I don't write about?  Dyslexia, the first grade, feelings about my late mother, regrets about my first marriage, one of my siblings, my impatience, fear of being left out, imposter feelings, growing up as a round peg in a very square hole, never taking a good enough photo, my disinterests, my social awkwardness, or my temper.  

Many of these are issues I have spent decades working on, through, and with.  I have learned a lot of coping skills. I have also learned how to accept myself. I still have warts, I still have insecurities, but for the most part I am happy with who I am. 


Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Third Car in less than two years?

Back to my car history for a couple of weeks, I have owned a lot of cars.  When I built my first little house, affectionately referred to as Taco Bell for the quasi spanish exterior, I was driving the little Yellow Rabbit, then the LeCar, and then a Toyota.  I didn't remember that the Toyota came while we were still there, but here is a photo of it on the stained driveway.  I only owned that house two years (sold it and made $10,000.) 

This was the first time I made a car salesman cry.  It was late, it was raining, I had taken him for a wild ride around the block, then spent an hour debating price and trade in allowance on LeCar.  Finally I pulled out my check book, wrote a check, handed it to him and said, if this does the deal, I will drive it home, if not, I am going home.  With tears in his eyes he said, "my manager told me to not come back asking for anymore!" I said, show him the check. He did, the manager stuck his head out of his office - smiled and said, "done deal, I'll have the paperwork done in five minutes." 

I drove the crap out of this one for two or three years, put a bunch of miles on it, and got more for it in I trade when I bought the first Mazda, than I had paid for it.  

I have wondered, if the salesmen was not cut out for the job, or if he is a great actor who missed his calling.  

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.