Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - Rather Long and Narrow

 We ran across this 1964 Comet convertible on King Street a few weeks ago on a wonderful sunny Sunday afternoon.  I was shocked by how long and narrow it is.  The hood the the trunk are five feet long, almost as long as the car is wide.  It is in amazing condition, cars of that era were not built to last.  The underside of the metal panels were not painted or treated to stop rust and corrosion, the cars often rotted from the inside out.  This one has either been carefully stored, or she has had work done.  Maybe a lot of both.  It is easy to pour far more money into a car like this, than it will ever be worth.  But how fun.  Most likely it someone's grandmother's only driven for a few weeks each summer and carefully garaged the rest of the year.  My grandmother's never owned anything like this.  My mother's parents retired early and lived with very little money.  My father's parents bought a new car every 2 or 3 years from the end of World War II until they stopped driving.  But the cars were always as simple of a full size Ford or Mercury as they could buy.  After my grandfather died, my grandmother splurged on a couple of flashy cars. The first one was some special edition Mercury that she only kept a couple of years. It was a two door and the big long doors become difficult.  It was traded for a huge Buick 4 door that she kept until she stopped driving, about 10 years and only about 40,000 miles.  It was long and wide (and great fun to drive.) 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Travel Tuesday - Athens

 I mentioned recently, that memory is a fickle thing.  We met friends in Athens about 15 years ago.  Kent and Carole had been there on a sabbatical assignment for most of a year.  They were our tour guides for several days in Athens, and out into the Greek countryside.  We had lunch with Kent last month in New York.  He said if he could get away he would go back to Greece for a vacation.  I said what a wonderful time we had there.  He asked "what did you see?"  I reminded him that he had been our tour guide, that he had driven fearlessly through the villages where cars passed centimeters apart.  He seemed to remember.  He has been to Greece dozens of times, he has helped countless people explore the history that Greece holds.  It was understandable, but sadly worrying that he didn't remember us meeting up with him there.     

Monday, May 23, 2022

YouTube Monday : Two and a Half Men | The Best of Berta

Late in her life, as dementia lowered her inhibitions, my mother found sitcoms entertaining, the rauncher and more tasteless the better.  I had never watched "Two and Half Men" until I spent time with her, Thanks Mom, these are funny. (My father cringed, went in the other room, played solitaire on the computer and listened to faux news on TV.) 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Sunday Five : Cars and fuel

  1. How long until we are all driving electric cars?
  2. Have you owned a diesel car?
  3. What is lowest price you remember ever paying for fuel (petrol, gas, diesel)?
  4. Have you ever run out of fuel?
  5. When do you think we will have self driving cars? 
My Answers:

  1. How long until we are all driving electric cars? 20 years
  2. Have you owned a diesel car? A long time ago, once.
  3. What is lowest price you remember ever paying for fuel (petrol, gas, diesel)? I remember the first time I paid over $1 a gallon.
  4. Have you ever run out of fuel? Coasted into a filling station once.
  5. When do you think we will have self-driving cars? 10 years
Please share your answers in the comments. 


Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post : Becoming Familiar in Unfamiliar Surroundings

We try to stick to a two-night minimum hotel stay when we travel, staying in one place at least two nights if at all possible.  One night, is just sleep, two nights and you can start to get a feel, to become familiar with unfamiliar surroundings.  

Traveling to places where I don't speak the local language helps me to explore. Being surrounded by words that have no meaning, yet becoming comfortable in the surroundings.  Iceland makes light of a unique language, spoken by maybe 400,000 or 500,000 people worldwide. I was pleased at the wide array of books in Icelandic.  English is taught as a second language and is common.  We did get far enough off the beaten path to meet people who spoke little English.  A wonderful thing to experience.  Still the familiar we'd like lunch, or a bottle of water are universal and communicated without or with a limited language.  

If I use that experience, I can for a moment understand what it feels like to be an immigrant or foreign visitor in my home country.  A home country that is largely monolingual. Not an easy place to visit.  

The chef/server/bartender in the amazing food court across from the hotel (more on this one day) said people keep saying you should go to New York, or Washington DC, where should he go? So how to answer the question of where or how to visit the USA?  New York, DC, Chicago, LA, SF, are major and massive cities and worth experiencing, just as Reykjavik is the largest city in Iceland, and worth the time to become familiar with. But they are not the United States, just as Iceland changes in an hour or less outside of the city, the USA changes dramatically when you leave the cities.  Seeing Ohio, tells you nothing about New York City, seeing New York City shows you nothing about Colorado.  Spend time and become familiar with the surroundings.   

Friday, May 20, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Simple

 Sometimes the most spectacular is the simplest.  A diamond solitaire,  a single rose, a simple chair and its shadow. Often we fiddle and fuss and try to gild the lily, rather than leaving well enough alone.  

If it works, don't try to fix it. 
Fashion is fleeting at best, dress simply, and be kind. 
We obsess over our looks, when it is really our character that people fall in love with - lust is temporary and more fickle.  

If you took this chair and added a nice fluffy print pillow to it, the pillow would overwhelm, and when someone tried to rest on the chair they would be pushed forward, or tend to totter off if it was below them. The simple form and function of the chair is best left alone.  

I saw this chair, just setting there casting its shadow.  I didn't change a thing, it was just fine the way it is.  Most of us are just fine the way we are. 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Thursday Ramble : So Many Thoughts

 So what is new? 

An email from the appliance guy, the new refrigerator is in the warehouse, still waiting on the ovens and dishwasher.  The new refrigerator won't fit where the old one is at - we are moving things around in the kitchen as part of the remodel.  They will hold it for us for a while. 

The exchange rate for Iceland is hard to get my brain around, about 137 ISK to 1 US dollar. Prices seemed high, and many were.  Getting home and checking the charges after the exchange rate things were not as bad as I thought, dinner out for the two of us averaged about $120, maybe 20-25% more than here in the DC area. It is mostly a cashless country. American Express is not accepted every place.  Have a pin and chip card - most petrol stations are unmanned.  I have two, the one from a major European bank was declined at the pump,  the one issued by Chase for one of the major discount chains in the USA worked on the first try. That retailer had a major security breach about 10 years ago, and is one of the few in the USA that insisted that all of their store cards would be pin and chip (Visa or Mastercard.)   

There are a hundreds of tours available, we really like moving at our own pace.  I rented a car for three days, and we set off, on and off the beaten path.  We drove the Golden Circle one day, another day we set off north west, turning down back roads, through the farms, finding our own way.  We didn't see everything, not even everything that was on my list, but we loved what we saw, and we did it at our pace, stopping when we wanted, moving on when we were ready.  

When renting a car in a foreign country, I always add all of the insurance that is available.  It doubles the cost of the rental, but as the guy the with the rental company in Reykjavik described it, if the car comes back on a tow-truck as a smoldering wreck, you are covered along with anything you hit. (Reminds me of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.") He said 30% of the rental cars are returned with cracked windshields in the spring.  Without the optional glass breakage coverage, that will double the cost of your rental. Once again I returned the rental car in perfect condition, and I didn't cause anyone else to panic and have a bad day (a cryptic reference to my last international rental experience.)  The drivers are patient, kind, considerate, except for the roundabouts at rush hour. 

There are a million things to write about, 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - The Air and the Land

I have mentioned before that I grew up around airports and small airplanes, my father's hobby.  I know this was taken in Michigan, probably in Lapeer County, but I am not sure what town it is.  The wing tip in the bottom right, I was probably in the back seat, a low wing aircraft, most likely a Piper, it might have been a Mooney - the two that were most available at the time and place.  

Michigan was surveyed in straight lines, main road ran north-south, east-west, most often at one-mile intervals.  There are corrections for the curvature of the earth every few miles. Some variation based on trails before the survey, or to skirt around natural obstacles. Each square mile is 640 acres - divided in quarters - then divided in half for 80 acre standard farms. One-half mile, by one-quarter of a mile is 80 acres.  Most the land descriptions start with section, township and range, then quarter, then half quarter.  There are 43,560 sq. ft. in an acre - I learned that for an exam in 1978 and it has stuck with me. 

The farm I was raised on had an anomaly, one border was a creek bed.  A factor that was important when my father sold the last of the farm.  He was paid a premium by the adjoining land owner who feared a fight over the property line. 

My growing up is firmly rooted the land, in the layout of the countryside, and in seeing it from the air.    

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Travel Tuesday : That Moment

I commented in my department meeting a couple of weeks, that I knew I needed to get away, and hoped that I would be less grumpy when I returned.  One of my colleagues had a bit of a breakthrough moment on that comment, it was me being stressed when I was occasionally short with her and others.  I know when I get stressed, I get grumpy. The best solution is a change of scenery. 

A note to Iceland:

Dear Iceland, 

Please don't change, stay wild, and clean, don't cave into McD's or Starbucks (there are none of either in the country,) but please build more scenic pull-offs so people can stop and absorb the wonders around them. 

I pulled into one of the few wide spots to take this photo, opened the door, and I could hear the birds, and a tiny waterfall rushing down the cliff face across the road.  It was one of those magical moments, when I knew I was someplace different, someplace wondrous. 

I was in Reykjavik a couple of days, when I realized I was one of the few people with a mask hanging around my face.  Iceland mastered test and trace early on. The adult vaccination rate is extremely high.  While we were there the minister of health declared that Iceland has reached herd immunity, enough people immune to COVID 19, that the illness would have a hard time getting beyond isolated outbreaks.  The moment, feeling safe in public. I won't say a return to normal, I am not sure that normal was all it was cracked up to be.  But certainly a light at the end of the tunnel.  I splurged on a taxi back to the airport Saturday morning ($133.) The taxi driver was a local, he said the United States Centers for Disease Control called the Iceland health minister and asked how did Iceland do it? His answer was, we did what I was trained to do, when I went to medical school in the United States, follow your training. 

It was 6 days filled with moments. 

Monday, May 16, 2022

My Music Monday : The Hardest Karaoke Song in the World

I listened to this on the plane a week ago, heading into Iceland.  "What could possibly go wrong?" Nothing did, it was a wonderful week, never enough time, and always many more things to see. Relaxing, diverting, different.  Travel feeds your soul, and many of us are in need to nurishment. 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Sunday Five: Cats

 1: Do you prefer cats or dogs? 

2: Do cats like you? 

3: Have you ever been attacked by a cat?

4: When will cats rule the earth? 

5: Did you have a Garfield with suction cups on the feet stuck to a window at one time? 

My answers: 

1: Do you prefer cats or dogs? Cats are quieter, is that answering without answering. 

2: Do cats like you? Yes. 

3: Have you ever been attacked by a cat? I reached down to pet "Princess" while she was eating, and she climbed up my arm, scratched my face and jumped off the top of my head.  I have been told the attack was provoked. 

4: When will cats rule the earth? You mean they don't? 

5: Did you have a Garfield with suction cups on the feet stuck to a window at one time? Yes, in my first Mazda hatchback.  

Please share your answers in the comments.  

Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - Something Different

My Saturday Morning Posts, are usually written about a week ahead of time, something different this one was written in mid-April because of planned travel.  I haven't missed posting every day in over five years, I have no intention of starting to miss days now.  My guess is my blog will stop, about 10 days after I die.  (I do have a draft obituary for someone to post when the time comes -hopefully it needs revising a few times between now and when it needs to be posted.) I doubt that I will be able to schedule that one to post, now that would be something different.  

We are out doing what my parents would have described as spending our children's inheritance. Since we don't have any children, it is our money and we can do with it what we like. And we like taking care of ourselves, traveling, eating well, and feathering our nest. We like doing something different, things that we enjoy, and doing them our way.  

My father loved going out driving around, he called it bumming around, no particular plan, stop for lunch, stop to visit friends, drive around and see what was new, what was old, revisiting places from the past.  It was his something different.  I think my mother would have preferred more of a plan.  She was wound a little to tight sometimes.  

Hopefully you haven't noticed something different, I try hard to create a sense of continuity in my posts.  Regular service will resume. Maybe  I will even try posting the day I write something, that would be different for me. 


Friday, May 13, 2022

Fabulous Friday: It Is Great To Be Alive

I avoid talking about my health, if you want the gory details, complete with MRI images, take a look at May - June of 2015. Once a year, I indulge in an annual update.  May 13th, is the anniversary date of the surgery that preserved my mobility and largely restored the feeling and muscular control in my feet and legs - really everything below the bottom of my ribs.   

So how am I doing? Well.  As I had been told, in time, my body would compensate for changes, and it largely has.  I have fewer - actually few  episodes of pain, and those are generally brief, and I have learned to cope.  I am stronger, more able to move.  I need to be careful not to overstretch or bend in the wrong direction. The feeling in my feet is much the same, about 90%.  My balance is still improving.  I am still not comfortable riding a bike, and I do miss it.  But my walking has gotten better, walking on uneven surfaces much better.  

I am forever thankful that I lived in an area with some of the best doctors in the country, with good insurance, and the ability to pay for what the insurance didn't (about $5,000 in deductibles and copays.) I am grateful that my fun and irreverent local family practitioner realized that what she was seeing when I went to see her, was unusual and insisted that first round of tests be done the same day. Timing was critical, if I had waited a month for tests, it likely would have been a couple of weeks to long. (She insisted that I cancel a work trip I was scheduled to take.)  

Take care of yourself. When something doesn't feel right, or is interfering with life, see a doctor.  It is great to be alive.  To be able to engage in the great adventures. There are no guarantees that we can do what we want for as long as we want.  Things are different than before, but they are good.  Focus on what we can do, and make the most of it. 

So how am I celebrating my lucky day this year? We are finishing up a week in Iceland. 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Bonus Blog on a Thursday Afternoon

I usually write ahead of time and schedule,  I usually don't mention travel until after it has happened.  But I am feeling relaxed and time to share.  

I have been in Iceland for the week.  We flew out Sunday evening,  assuming we test negative for Covid  we go home this weekend.   We have spent a couple of days in the northernmost world capital, and a couple of days with a rental car exploring bays, volcanoes, waterfalls and geysers. The first geyser identified and studied in the world is here, the one next to it erupts every 10 minutes or so.  

The people are wonderful, the food is amazing (fresh fish like you wouldn't believe.) Everything is EXPENSIVE.  This is not a place for a budget traveler.  It is a place for anyone who wants to be treated well, and kindly, and find awe and wonder around every corner.  

I have been stressed, and grumpy, I needed the break, and this has been a good break.    

Thursday Ramble - Things That Piss Me Off

  1. People who borrow books and don't return them.  I just  replaced one of the best books I have read in the past 10 years.  I was provided with an e-book version to do a review, and bought a hardcover edition for my permanent collection because the book was that good.  I loaned it to a friend back in October who has since moved on, without returning it. I give away a lot of books, when I loan one I want it back. To make matters worse the offender was talking about what a great book it was, and how he was going to keep it. 
  2. People who drive aggressively.  Some jerk in a Range Rover came up behind me one morning recently flashing his headlights, I was driving 10 miles per hour over the speed limit and there was NO PLACE for me to go.  I slowed down.  
  3. Businesses that don't answer the questions in my email, and close the email with "let me know if you have any questions." Yes, where can I find a helpful appliance dealer? (And we did find someone else.) 
  4. People who never finish anything before the deadline.
  5. People who when they need something from me it is always urgent and "on deadline," but when I need something from them, there is no response. 
  6. YouTubers who brag about "Vanlife" then complain about how hard it is.  Yes, being homeless is hard, people who live in their cars / vans are homeless, what did they expect. 
  7. Clickbait, on FB, or News Sites, a leading headline and then are pages and pages of advertising without ever talking about what the headline promised. 
  8. People who never seem to look up from their phones.  We survived for eons with being have smartphones glued to our hands. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - Wild West in the Midwest

One of the images in this series appeared on my first postcard job.  In my teens I did photographs for postcards for a couple of years.  This was taken at a campground near the farm in Michigan.  A farmer up the road hated winters, and spent them in the desert southwest.  He also disliked farming, and built a lake, and a campground, and an 18 hole golf course on the family farm.  There was more money to made for less work, providing summer entertainment than there was in farming.  To entertain at the campground, he built a wild-west set, and got a few family members and friends to stage gunfights (with blanks.) 

The owner saw the prints and fell in love with the idea of a postcards.  I found a printer, struggled with color balance, a problem ultimately the printer resolved wonderfully.  As I recall I made about $100 on the job, in 1975.  I have a framed copy of the postcard on my office wall.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Travel Tuesday - I must have seen this

Do I ever look back through the archive, yes, and sometimes I don't remember seeing what I have photos of.  This beach covered with seals was taken near San Diego.  I remember the trip, I remember a friend who lived nearby picking us up in her car and driving us out the beach for brunch.  I remember walking on the rocks, on the beach, I don't remember the seals.  Yet I know I took the photos. 

I have never lived, and have seldom visited where seals are a common sight.  You would think they would stand out.  But they don't.  Memories are fickle at best.  The next time I see seals on the beach I will try to create a more vivid memory.  Maybe this one is crowded out by the parking lot filled with million dollar sports cars at the diner we stopped at for brunch (eggs benedict!) Melissa was driving a sensible Prius.   

Monday, May 09, 2022

YouTube Monday: Al Bundy's Best Insults

Tasteless and far ahead of its time. Married with Children was brilliantly written. And Still good for a much needed laugh. I have seen the episode that Fox refused to air.  Peggy and Al, and Marcie and whoever she was married to at the time, checked into a sleazy motel, for a night of passion. Only to discover that the owner was broadcasting from hidden cameras.  They sued for violation of privacy. Marcie and her hunk won a ton of money, the jury couldn't decide if Al had did anything that would count as sex. It was like 20 years before someone agreed to allow that one to be aired, it was hilarious.  

Sunday, May 08, 2022

The Sunday Five - The Vessel

 These photos are the Vessel at Hudson Yards in New York city.  To put it mildly it is controversial and raises more questions than it answers.  

1: Is it art? 

2: The elevator runs up the inside moving back as each level steps out, have you ridden an elevator like that? 

3: Everything above the ground floor is closed, because of jumpers, aka suicides.  Any idea how it could be made safe? 

4: Would you climb it? 

5: How long do you think it will be there? 

My Answers: 

1: Is it art? Probably, it makes you look and think. 

2: The elevator runs up the inside moving back as each level steps out, have you ridden an elevator like that? Yes, the first one in the world is inside the George Washington Masonic Memorial just down the hill from home.  

3: Everything above the ground floor is closed, because of jumpers, aka suicides.  Any idea how it could be made safe?  Nets? Can it be done without destroying the look? 

4: Would you climb it? I'd take the elevator to the top and walk down. 

5: How long do you think it will be there? My guess is it will take them 20 years to decide to tear it down. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, May 07, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - Forget Getting It All Done

Back in the fast times of the  1980's early 1990's I came the realization one day that I would probably die with a long list of things that needed doing.  Things have changed over the years.  Work has ebbed and flowed, and ebbed again.  Almost always if I stop and think for a minute there is a project I meant to do, that just didn't get done.  Great ideas die for lack of getting started.  At home there is always cleaning, laundry, cooking, reading, painting, photos, and writing to do.  I have been collecting pennies for years.  At one time they were all neatly sorted by year and mint mark, the last time that was current was about 45 years ago.  The box with Jay's slides sits next to my desk at home, a reminder that I want to scan them all and create an archive of the formative years of his academic career.  Much to do, all with the best of intentions of getting it done. 

Yet I know I will never get it all done.  

I try to focus on priorities.  At work that is what is funded, or likely to keep us in the good graces of the powers to be gets done first.  What have I promised others I would do needs doing.  My personal passion projects tend to sink to the bottom of the pile.  At home, what is essential?  I stopped making my bed decades ago. Why bother?  I don't care if it looks neat, it is my space.  

I set aside at least half of every weekend, to do whatever I feel like doing.  Take a long walk, write for the blog, take photos, read, lay on the bed. I have returned to the office 2 or 3 days a week.  Traffic and parking are nuts, so I am back riding the subway.  That give me an hour a day of reading time, my time, on the trains, immersed in whatever I am reading.  I LOVE IT.  I missed it.  

I know when I am reading, I could be reading office emails, or drafting the press release that I am a couple of weeks behind on.  What is important will get done, and forget the rest.  My epitaph should read, "he did what was most important, but he still had things he wanted to do."  

Tom Hopkins was a sales and motivational trainer in the 1980's.  He taught that your should be thinking, "I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment." And "Sometimes the most productive thing to do, is sit on the beach drinking a fruity drink." Why because we all need recharge time.  Time for our brains to shift into neutral, time for our bodies to do something different. At times he struggled for balance in his life, as he was training others to be more productive professionals, he tried to teach us to seek balance.  

Forget about getting it all done, and take time this weekend to do nothing, or do only things you are passionate about.  And be honest, house cleaning and laundry are not really your passions.  


Friday, May 06, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Simply Spectacular

The first time Jay and I went to England we spent a week together at Oxford, he was there for a conference, I was there as his spouse.  We stayed "In College" at St. Edmonds, giving me a pass that granted me entrance to almost everything on campus.  I spent a couple of hours in a fantastic garden - it was August - taking close up  of photos of flowers in bloom. A friend of ours who was an avid gardener was buying her first house, a housewarming gift from us was a framed series of prints from that afternoon.  

It is often worth the time to slow down, focus, fiddle with the lighting, flowers are nature's show offs.  The spectacular display of colors and softness, attract pollinators essential for plant reproduction.  At the risk of being cited by Google for adult content, we are photographing plant $#x in all its glory. Plants at the peak of their reproductive attractiveness.    

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Thursday Ramble: Unlocking the Future

John Gray is working on a list of new experiences for his 60th year, that ship has sailed from this port.  I was talking with the kitchen designer, a man who works way too many hours, and mentioned my hope of getting all of this done so I can retire.  He was serious when he asked what would you do with all of the time if you weren't working.  He really needs to take a day off now and then, once my kitchen is finished.  

So what adventures do I hope to unlock in the future? 

  • Travel on a sleeper train, overnight in a private compartment.  I never have, and I am not sure I will sleep well. But I should try it. 
  • Train trips broken up with overnight stays in nice hotels along the way.  From here to Philly is a nice ride, and there are great hotels there, then onto New York, north from there to Hudson, north Montreal, you get the idea,  Day trips by train between nice hotels.  My idea of roughing it is staying at a Holiday Inn.  
  • Driving cross country.  I have not done it since I was about 6.  Take my time, a week or ten days to cross the country, 200-300 miles a day.  No reason to rush. 
  • An afternoon alone on the water in a boat. 
  • A hot air balloon ride. 
  • Transatlantic on a ship
  • Asia
  • Silver casting and construction
  • Photo Exhibit 
  • Sort through the penny collection 
Well there are few ideas.  If I can find the time. 

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - The Archive

I mentioned in comment on Spo's blog that my photo archive is around 70,000 images. It is growing by about 10,000 a year. Doc asked if I ever went back and looked at them, and the answer is yes.  I draw on the archive for the way we were Wednesdays, and for travel Tuesdays, especially when I haven't been traveling much. When my father died I shipped home all of his slides and scanned them, making them available to my family.  When we sold the second house, I scanned all of my slides.  The box filled with Jay's slides sets next to me as a retirement project. I have scanned a massive box of old-old family photos, those appear from time to time. I have another blog filled with old family photos. 

The image above was taken in the fall of 1976, for my impending high school graduation.  Oh if I had known then, what I know now, I wouldn't have lived this long but it would have been very wild ride.  No regrets, I am where I am at because of the choices I made along the way, and this is a good place.  

I also have a box of old family documents.  My great grandparents wedding licensees, my grandmother's naturalization certificate, the deed to the first house my parents owned, birth and death records stretching back 120 years.  Things that will need to go someplace when I die (or before.) 

All are reminders of where we came from.  Origin is not destiny, but origin makes up a part of who we are.  The way were, contributes to who we are.  


Tuesday, May 03, 2022

Travel Tuesday - So You Want To Write?

Many among us have fantasized about being a writer. Writing works of fiction or fact, essays, poetry, novels, journals, diaries, letters, captions or lyrics.  In a way we are all writers, writing for our blogs, writing in our minds.  

Some dream of being published, but for most of us, it is more about developing thoughts and ideas, into words that flow, that make sense, that communicate in a way that help others feel what we are feeling.  Writing is an expression of who we are, or who we wish to be. 

We had dinner with a young friend living in New York.  A talented musician and writer, making his way in the entertainment world.  He and a friend who is also a writer, get up each morning, log into a Zoom meeting, say good morning, and then write for 90 minutes, checking in to assure that both are there, bouncing ideas off of one another, reading a turn of phrase - helping one another search for the perfect words to communicate a concept, or enlighten the mind of the reader, or listener.  

Tip number one for being a writer, is write.  Set aside time that is dedicated to writing. And write.  Good or bad, put words on the screen or on paper.  For me this is a couple of hours every Saturday, and an hour every Sunday for my personal writing.  An hour or so, usually later afternoon most days for my professional writing. Many carry notebooks and write whenever and wherever they can.  Take the time, make the time, turn off the distractions and put words on paper. 

Tip number two is read, read a lot, read things you enjoy, read things you struggle to understand, read things you hate - those teach us what not to write, or the necessity of expressing the nasty- the ugly - the unpleasant - at the right time and place.  My reading list is eclectic, maybe even eccentric.  I will continue to post it late each year.   

Tip number three, is write in a lot of forms. Many of us need to recognize that our writing takes many forms.  Write for your blog, write essays, reports, book chapters (I just finished editing one,) write postcards, write letters.  The grand library above, part of J.P. Morgan's personal library, contained not just books, but manuscripts and letters.  

Tip number 4, see the world widely.  This starts with seeing your own backyard, the community around you.  Who is there, who was there before you? How do they live, how do they interact, what impact do they have on the world? Travel, get out of your comfort zone, develop new comfort zones.  The recent trip to New York, I developed a new comfort zone with the NYC subway system, feeling somewhat comfortable with a complicated system, that really isn't all that complicated once you understand it, it will take you close to where you want to be, pretty much anyplace in the city.  

My continued commitment to a daily blog post, is in large part my commitment to myself, to improve my writing.  Now reading this drivel you may think I have a long way to go, I agree, but I also know how far I have come. Didn't I read someplace that life is about the journey, not the destination?  

I never know if a student intern can really write, until they do.  I had a student intern for the spring semester. I was a little concerned, English is not his first language (more like 3rd or 4th.) He is not from this part of the globe. He recently sent me an article based on the research he has done this semester. He has a promising future, in multiple languages, he can construct a coherent paragraph, packed with facts that tell me he knows his stuff.  From talking with him, I knew he was bright, this really shines through in his writing.  Great work Daniel.  We will get this published, I have connections.  

Monday, May 02, 2022

Music Monday: Tears For Fears - Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Live) 2022

First the Good News
Blogger has rolled out new spam controls on comments, and it works, I just deleted 10 or so junk comments.  
Now the bad news, it is catching some of my friends comments.  I will try to review and release your comments. 
If you are a blogger user, log into the home page, look at comments, when you scroll down through them and hover over each one, if there is a "check" mark next to it, it has been flagged as spam, click on the check mark to publish or delete, typical Blogger there are no directions.  

Upbeat for a Monday, I have never really paid attention to the words on this one.  Did you spot the bald eagle in the photo? 

Sunday, May 01, 2022

The Sunday Five - Books

 J.P Morgan had a spectacular private library, which raised questions for me, all of the inspriration I need for this weeks Sunday five.

1: Are there books you have multiple copies or editions of? 

2: Have you ever stood in line to buy a first edition on the day it was released? 

3: Do you buy books just to own them, or only to read them? 

4: Have you read 90% or more of the books you own? 

5: Do you have an active library card? 

My Answers:

1: Are there books you have multiple copies or editions of? No longer, I did at one time, but we have downsized. 

2: Have you ever stood in line to buy a first edition on the day it was released? Yes, Harry Potter books. 

3: Do you buy books just to own them, or only to read them? Almost always to read. 

4: Have you read 90% or more of the books you own? Yes. Probably more than 95%. 

5: Do you have an active library card? No, I should do something about that.

Please share your answers in the comments.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Saturday Morning Post: In lieu of flowers


I read this in an obituary recently: 

In lieu of flowers or cards, 

Jim would want you to write a card or letter to someone that is special to you.

Dear Travel Penguin Blog Readers,

I never met Jim, kinda wish I had.  He lived near where I was born and raised, I often check obits there, people around my age are often people I crossed paths with when I was growing up.  Those 20-30 years older are often the parents of people I grew up with. Sadly sometimes the younger ones are the children of my classmates.  

You are special to me.  I know a handful of you. I wake up everyday looking forward to interacting in the comments. The statistics tell me there are many more that read, than I have never seen a comment from.  I write for everyone of you.  My sincere hope is that a photo I have posted, or a phrase I have crafted, makes your day a little better.   

I hope through these photos and words I am able to express that life will be okay.  It has ups and downs, we persevere and focus on the good.  The today is all we have, the future is not guaranteed, the past we can't change.  Find joy today.  A pleasant smell, a silly giggle, an image that makes your mind wander, an oddity that distracts you.   

Most people are good.  Yes, there are evil people in the world. There are also a lot of people who are frightened, or hurt, or abused, that respond in the only way they know. If before we die we can each help just one person have a better life, we will have a life well lived.  Remember the old Chinese proverb, it is better to light a single candle, than to curse the darkness. 

I have had a good week.  Nothing swopped out of the sky and tried to eat me.  30 years ago I was sitting in my office in Florida watching a flock of seagulls in the vacant lot across the street. Out of nowhere an Eagle swooped down, the birds scattered, except for a couple that were not as agile, one of them was the Eagle's lunch.  As long as I am not lunch, I have had a good week. 

And I know someday I will be the Eagle's lunch.  Someday I will follow Jim into the crematorium.  I hope when I do, I have lived each day in search of joy, helped others to have a better life, brought a little ray of sunshine into an otherwise dreary day. I hope that I have few regrets about what I have done, and even fewer about opportunities I have passed on.  I saw a T-shirt recently that said, "If I die broke, rest assured I had a million dollars worth of fun." I hope Jim had his million dollars worth of fun.  

Thanks Jim, I needed that, I hope my readers enjoyed, 



Friday, April 29, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Public Art

The City of Alexandria Virginia, redid the waterfront at the end of King Street (main street - high street.) This was a long involved process including moving the yacht club.  The new space has expanded public access and a larger park, including a public arts space that hosts rotating exhibits.  The current one is fabulous, I Love You, with lots of light and bright.  The previous exhibit was a bunch of knee hight posts, representative of the pilings for piers along the waterfront, it was not as fabulous.  I need to get down there at night, it lights up. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Thursday Ramble - End of April Edition

I am working on a post that will appear in a couple of weeks of things that piss me off.  This week added a couple of things to the list. 

We succeeded at ordering appliances for the kitchen replacement.  With luck the cabinets should be ordered in the next week or so. Appliances are still in short supply, the total sorcery cooktop we wanted is delayed at least 6 months, and the cooktop is an essential to the job.  We found a slightly less magic model in stock, it will be delivered this week.  The appliance dude didn't seem very enthused about what I thought was a rather large order. When we went into pay, there was an invoice laying on the counter, the first item was a refrigerator, I had to look twice, I didn't believe my eyes, the first item was a $10,000 refrigerator, makes my order look insignificant. Still I have bought new cars for less.  

The world here has turned green, the last of the trees are starting to leaf out (the one outside my  bedroom window.) We had a nice drive in the convertible with the top down. I am only driving it about 2,000 miles a year, it has just over 50,000 miles on it, at this rate I will be too old to drive by the time it has 100,000 miles on it.  

I applied to four law schools back in the mid 1990's and three of them said yes.  I have accepted an invitation to speak at a conference hosted by the one law school that turned me down.  Should I make a remark about me accepting them after they rejected me? 

Last Friday and Saturday were 7-8 hours each day of Zoom meetings.  A clear violation of the Constitution and the Geneva Convention.  

I have had a couple of long weeks, at least one more to go, oh I should just be real, my work is going to be overwhelming until I retire.  There are days when I wake up and think, I don't want to adult today. 



Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Way We Wednesday - Self-Timer Selfies

My oldest brother had a low draft lottery number, so he enlisted in the Navy the year he finished high school.  After basic training, he was assigned to the Aircraft Carrier Enterprise (now decommissioned and the last I knew it was being dismantled.) Someplace in southeast Asia he bought a Canon Ftb, a nice 35MM SLR. There was also a tripod, the gray zippered case above their arms is the case for the tripod. Looking at this it was taken with the camera on the tripod, and either a cable release or the self timer,  I suspect the self timer as Dale is almost blurred from having tripped the timer and rushed back to be in the picture.  This would have been taken in one of the crew living areas on the ship.  I think Dale only took a couple of rolls of film on the camera, this roll of slides ended up with dad's meaning it was probably in the camera when Dale came home on leave, and somehow Dad ended up keeping the camera.  Dad gave it to me a few years before he died.  After Dad died, I returned it to Dale. I never did quite understand how dad ended up with it to start with. And Dale didn't really want to explain - bottling things up is a family tradition. I learned a lot using it, it had one of the best lenses I have ever used. I never have liked self timers.  


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Travel Tuesdays - Live Demonstrations

Artisans, craftspersons, farmers, chefs, I love watching them work.  Historic sites sometimes have live demonstrations of how things were done, metalsmiths,  spinners, weavers, broom making, furniture, historic farming making are all fascinating to watch. 

They are also often a financial loss for the venue, the cost of the demonstrations far exceeds the value of what is produced.  The glass blower working in a demonstration shop, produces less at the same cost as a glassblower working in the back room without the distraction of an audience.  So we see fewer of them.  When we lived in Kentucky nearby Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill, had a thriving demonstration program, until a new director mandated that they had to pay their way or go.  The last time I was there one craftsman was working.  Sad that.  

Non-profit does not mean free to operate, or exempt from the economic realities of the world.  That is why there are admission fees, memberships, fundraisers, and why it does really help when you buy that paper weight that was hand made there on site.  Yet it would be 1/3 that price - made in China - sold at the souvenir shop around the corner.  But the difference makes a difference in the artists being able to show their craft and entertain.   

Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Sunday Five: Around You

1: Where are you reading / responding to this? 

2: How far are you from a phone? 

3: Is it daylight or dark? 

4: What can you hear? 

5: If there is anything to drink within reach, what is it? 

My Answers,

1: Where are you reading / responding to this?  At the desk in my bedroom 

2: How far are you from a phone? Both the house phone and my cell on are on the desk. 

3: Is it daylight or dark? daylight, later afternoon. 

4: What can you hear? A freight train about 1.5 miles away.

5: If there is anything to drink within reach, what is it? A glass of water 

Please share your answers in the comments 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post: A strange way to pick a restaurant

 There are thousands of restaurants in New York City. From one-dollar pizza to the some of the worlds most expensive delicacies, if it can be sourced and legally sold, someone in New York has it on the menu.  When we came down from the walk in the clouds, it was time for lunch.  The Shops at Hudson Yards has a dozen options. All most all of them looked interesting.  So how did I pick one, the sheep on the sign.  Anyplace that has a sheep as its logo has potential to be great.  And it was.  Imaginative British inspired, made with the finest ingredients. 

We were seated at the peak of the lunch rush. The actor filling in a waiter, was sweet and friendly.  He did warn us that the kitchen was a little backed up, to which I ordered a drink and told him our next commitment was a nap then dinner at 6.  He assured us we would be back to the hotel in time for a nice nap.  Lunch was leisurely, but not slow by normal standards. I had a nice salad, and very upscale fish and chips. Jay had a pate followed by a pasta.  It was excellent.  

Interestingly there was no lamb on the menu (or mutton.) 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Fabulous - if slightly late- Friday - New York

Did you miss me?  I almost 8 hours late posting today, sorry! 

The Bryant Park Grill in New York has become our "we have to go back there" stop in New York. It is tucked into the back side of the New York Public Library, on the edge of Bryant Park.  The setting is garden elegant, the food is amazing, with service to match.  The domestic cheese tray is amazing.  

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Thursday Ramble - Late April edition

I have made the first purchase for the kitchen replacement, a new faucet, and the next day the kitchen sink.  Both should be here by the time this posts.  The faucet is black and square, there was a TV commercial of a couple walking into an architect, placing a faucet on the desk and saying "design us a house around this."  Yes, that kind of a statement piece.  Appliances remain the major loose end.  

I am in a crazy busy cycle at the work, three major trainings in two days, and another next week.  My first board meeting since becoming director is Friday, I get to shake things up. And it is budgeting season. And we are officially returning to the office.  Glad I am taking a week off in May.  

I am back in a reading frenzy, I bought a stack of books in NYC, and I am almost done with those.  More on the Kindle to read.  It was nice to get into ink and paper bookstores a couple of times.  There is a nice small bookstore in the New York Public Library.  And one down in the garment district that specializes in drama. You have to love a city that can support specialty bookstores.  

On the east coast of the US there are three types of long distance trains.  North East Regionals,  Aceela, and named long distance trains.  I have ridden all of them.  The Acela is supposedly high speed, but not by much, not really worth the extra.  The NE Regionals are older cars, not the nicest, often the cheapest.  The named long distance trains have nicer interiors than the NE Regionals.  On the trip to New York we took a NE Regional going up, and the Sunset Limited that goes to Miami on the way back,  The seats on the Sunset where more comfortable and a little farther apart.  If they are the same price, take the nicer train.  Any train is the best way to travel on the upper east coast.  


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - Rollo

This photo of my mother's parents was probably taken before I was born, definitely before his health forced them to retire.  He looks very robust in this photo. He was born into a large family on a farm. He preferred to farm with horses or mules, resisted using a tractor (and a tractor accident started the cascade of health problems that led to his retirement.)

When I was sorting photos after my parents died, I came across a baby photo of him, and discovered that his middle name was Rollo.  I have no idea where that came from.  The best I can determine his family was primarily German in ancestry. As was my grandmother's. She had an unusual first name, Mina. (Yes like the bird.) 

Any unusual names in your family history? 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Travel Tuesday - The Stories

 Almost every photo triggers and memory, or a story.  When I travel I take lots of photos, I come home and sort them, and some stand out.  But many are just there.  I find as I go back through them weeks, months or years later the memories and the stories are triggered.  This photo was pulled at absolutely at random from a list of over 60,000.  It was taken shortly after the first snow of 2022. It was a heavy wet snow, that brought down a lot of branches and trees.  This one was taken near home, as the eagle flies only a mile away near the river.  This is the entrance to the Dike Marsh trail,  I have walked there hundreds of times in the past couple of years.  My estimate would be that 33% maybe more of the trees along the trail lost major limbs in that storm, a couple of dozen trees were toppled. I walked the trail that day. 

This image triggers that memory, and all of the stories related to my time on that trail.  We should all take more photos, trigger more memories, tell more stories.