Monday, January 31, 2022

You Tube Monday: Gordon Goose: Promotion day!

Today is the start of my new role at work. A new title. 


No toasting with champagne, we have an alcohol and drug free workplace (one of my duties will be to certify that for some funding sources.) I have been working for over 50 years, (I filed my first tax return at 12!)  I have made it to the top of the field, in a strange little specialty area. I have high hopes for the next couple, maybe three years.  I am experiencing a modest case of imposter syndrome.   And a modest but rather nice increase in salary.   

Sunday, January 30, 2022

The Sunday Five - Reading

1: Do you prefer Print or E-books? 

2: When was the last time you were in a physical book store? 

3: Are you running out of bookshelf space?

4: How many books are you reading right now? 

5: What book have you read the most times? 

My Answers

1: Do you prefer Print or E-books? E-books for most things

2: When was the last time you were in a physical book store? Today, there is a new independent local book store near me. 

3: Are you running out of bookshelf space? Yes, I have a donate pile

4: How many books are you reading right now? 3

5: What book have you read the most times? Walden 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, January 29, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - Oh I Can't Say That

 On the YouTube Channel Foxes Afloat Shaun is forever telling Colin "you can't say that!"  They even sell T-shirts with that quote on them.  I was sitting here thinking of my Saturday chat and I had some great ideas, the challenges of neurodiverse professionals, the importance of seeing the negative side of well meaning interventions, issues that are related to my work and the simple answer is I can't say that.  If I talk directly about my work, my employer owns the content. And I don't want that to happen, so I talk around it.  

I suggested the other day that we take a position supporting a social service effort, and the reply was multiple reports of that effort either being ineffective or even leaving people worse off than if no one had done anything.  It is not that it isn't well intended, but that the execution is often a disaster.  A friend texted me (we trade snarky texts during meetings) concerned that I was frustrated by my idea being shot down.  And initially I was surprised by the opposition, and kinda wished after the first three or four, people would quit piling on with me toos.  But, I needed to hear, I needed to listen and pay attention to the concerns. My next article on that issue needs to be what does not work and what might be done to fix it.  

All too often we blindly support good intentions, without seeing, or listening to the negative.  I thanked the group for the input and described it that I needed to take the temperature of the advisors before stepping forward, and in this issue stepping into the middle of a mess.  All too often I hear advocates saying, but for most people this really works, when the real challenge is for those that it does not work.  

Without me saying what we were talking about, maybe there is a model here that will remind us to always listen before we leap.  

Friday, January 28, 2022

Fun Friday - Things People Sometimes Want to Say

I know this was done as a window display in a furniture specialty shop, but I wonder how many people have asked to buy this stack of books?  I was tempted. 

I have a couple of funny signs in my office.  

One says "Trust me I am a Lawyer." Yea, I know, I know, I have heard and met most the lawyer jokes.  

Another one says "I Can Explain It To You, But I Can't Understand It For You." On the limits of understanding, I always reach back the concept of a "reverse triangular merger."  I had to describe how those work in an exam once, but I couldn't tell you today.  When I ask a room (Zoom) full of lawyers if they can explain that concept, they understand, that not everyone understands the things that they think are simple and common knowledge.  Sometimes we have to remind people that not everyone sees the world as they do. 

Sometimes humor is a great way of triggering understanding. 

How do you think a reverse triangular merger works? 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Thursday Ramble - Two Years

 Two years ago this weekend, I had my hair cut. Trimmed up around my ears, scissors only, Jose knew how to make it look good.  A month later, as we were getting ready to go to Ireland I decided another haircut could wait a couple of weeks until after we returned, two years later, it has not been cut yet.  

Shortly after we returned home, the shops were closed for a while, and when the shops reopened, I questioned if being in hands on contact with a person who is hands on with lots of people every day was worth the risk.  I decided it was not.  

Most of the time I keep it pulled back and tied up, if I really work at it I can get a "top knot" to work.  But once in a while, especially on weekends I let my freak flag fly, and let my hair down.  When it is wet it hangs down between my shoulder blades in the back.  It has NEVER in my life been this long.  My hair is naturally wavy - curly - a mess.  I have often kept it cut shorter than I like to avoid the texture issue. The longer it gets the easier it is, the more it fluffs out.  There is not much left in front, and over the top. It is thin, really not much bulk to it.  I'd like to think I am carrying off the aging eccentric look, but it is probably more like the mad scientist look. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - Oh Deer

The area I grew up in Michigan, was pretty well hunted out of deer from the 1950's into the later 1980's.  The area was overhunted, the local farmers thought the deer destroyed crops, and there were diseases transmittable between deer a cows that the farmers wanted to avoid.  Hence there was probably some out of season population control.  I never saw deer on the 80 acres that was home, rarely saw them in the surrounding area.  

On rare occasions we visited northern Michigan, very rural area north of Saginaw Bay,  and there were always deer to be seen.  Sometimes only a few, sometimes large herds.  The area had more woodlands, and fewer farmers, and was far enough away from the population centers to have a much more dense deer population.  

Hunting declined in the late 80's early 90's and when I visited the farm I would often see one or two deer.  In some areas the population exploded to the point of being a nuisance.  

Where I live here in the DC suburbs, we are on a 35 acre hilltop with 4 high rise towers surrounded by heavily wooded ravines.  We have deer inside our fence most summers.  

Seeing Deer still makes me stop, and marvel.   


Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Travel Tuesday - Glass

Sharon over at Phoenix Daily Photo has done several postings about the Chulluli Glass exhibit as Desert Botanical Gardens.  I love colorful glass, wish I was headed to Phoenix sometime soon.  There was a massive Chulbuli exhibit in Seattle three years ago when we were there.  Amazing colors.  A little expensive to tour, but worth every penny. I am glad I saw it when I was there.   

Monday, January 24, 2022

YouTube Monday: Jeremy Clarkson Enjoys A Pint Of His Lager At The Pub [FUNNY]

I know he did something despicable a few years ago and BBC sent him packing, he can be politically incorrect, even offensive, but he is very funny and he can write.  He is a silly oaf, but he knows how to put together a coherent English sentence - even whole paragraphs of them.  About the time Covid hit, the man who was leasing his 1,000 acre farm near Oxford, retired, he said, "how hard can it be?"  The Amazon Prime show about him farming is hilarious, and shows how hard it can be, and without subsidies (and Uncle Jeff's Prime money,) he would have made about 50-pence a day. He grew barley, that was used to make beer, here he is sampling the product.  I hope the producer drove him home. 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

The Sunday Five- Frogs and other creatures

1: How do you feel about holding a frog in your hand? 

2: Would you keep a snake as a pet? 

3: How near to your house is a place frogs can live a happy froggy life? 

4: Did you dissect frogs in school? 

5: Do you think either of these would turn into a prince? 

My Answers: 

1: How do you feel about holding a frog in your hand? Repulsed 

2: Would you keep a snake as a pet? NOOOOOOO! 

3: How near to your house is a place frogs can live a happy froggy life? About half a mile, there are wetlands 

4: Did you dissect frogs in school? 8th grade science 

5: Do you think either of these would turn into a prince? I already found my prince, but unlikely. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - Balance

 I am back earning a living in my bedroom again.  I can go into the office, but it feels less safe than it did, and when I get there, there is no one around. A lot of people are in this position, or should be.  The challenge for me with work from home (WFH - it has become such a part of our culture that we even have an acronym for it) is balancing.  For me this is harder at this time of the year when it is cold, and often wet, and getting out for a walk seems less attractive. If I am not careful I find myself working 10+ hours a day.  I recently went five days without leaving the apartment.  Far too long to be healthy. 

I am pretty good about turning off my office computer on the weekends and leaving it off.  But Monday through Friday it is my constant companion, and there are more things that need doing, than will ever be done.  Just reading the tone of this message, I can tell that this is weighing on my psyche.  

The more out of balance I am, the harder it is for me to focus and be at my most productive.  I need to work on this.  Sometimes the first step, is acknowledging the need for a second step.  

Friday, January 21, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Coming in Hot

When I think of Fabulous I think of Prada, Gucci, Chanel, and others, but nature also has fabulousness.  There is an old ditty about favorite things, that includes birds on the wing, and a flight of geese can be spectacular.  Come visit one winter, we can go down to Huntley Meadows early in the day and see hundreds of them. The sound is amazing when 50 or 100 geese take flight, zoom by, then with everything extended, land in the water with a splash.  


Thursday, January 20, 2022

Thursday Ramble - Working

A couple of weeks ago it was cold and I needed to get out of the house. I wanted / needed to take a nice walk.  I drove across The River, to the MGM Casino in Maryland, it has a lot of walkable indoor space and is smoke free as all casinos should be. This sign was in front of a closed Starbucks.  The casino was surprisingly busy, it was a cold day, people looking for something to do indoors, had stopped in for a walk and to spend a little money on the video games, or a lot of money thinking they can outsmart the table games.  (I left $6 behind, about what I would have paid to park someplace else to park so I could walk indoors, the casino has free parking in a land of $5 an hour parking garages.) 

It was a day when Starbucks, or any coffee shop, should have been open, should have been doing a brisk business. Starbucks has a decent reputation as an employer.  Few people are going to earn a generous living working there, but they have a reputation of paying higher wages and making better benefits available - health insurance - college tuition reimbursement than other "fast food" outlets.  

My rambling thoughts, there are several factors at work. 

COVID and working being exposed to the public, really face to face with the public on a daily basis, who wants to be face to face with an anti vaxer with their nose hanging over the top of their mask, for any money, let alone $10-15 and hour? 

A lot of employers consider people, human resources, to be the flexible, fungible part of their business, and when things shut down, they simply cut hours to zero. Many of the staff found other things to do, or realized they hated what they were doing.  It is hard to get them back on the farm, after they have discovered life. 

When I studied business management, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the goal of a business was for an employee to generate enough revenue to cover the cost of employing the person, plus a 10-20% margin for the employer (the margin in my office is lower than that.) Today the system seems to be to pay as little as possible on the supply side, while charging as much as possible on the demand side, to create the greatest possible margin in the middle.  Few businesses show the real numbers, but the margins are phenomenal, we have a lot of companies paying $10 an hour for front line staff, while the owners and executives earn millions.  Business has gotten greedy, and the events of the last couple of years have created an environment where employees can object by walking away - and they are.

A lot of food service jobs have been staffed, either on the front lines, or in the back rooms by recent immigrants.  If you read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential and you know this is nothing new, the best French chefs in New York, are Mexican and Central Americans.  The past few years have not been friendly in this country for immigrants, legal or otherwise.  We cut off temporary work visas, then brought them back but the process time is interminable, and the underground economy of people without paperwork, has ground to a halt.  

Sadly our immigration system has been a mess for so long, parts of our economy had become dependent on illegally employing people who lacked paperwork, or how shall I say this, had paperwork that was not entirely legal. 

This is an old problem, several years ago I was reviewing my Social Security Earning and Benefits statement, and it showed more in wages one year than I knew I had earned, like $20,000 more. I called an insider who looked at the record and simply said, someone used that Social Security number to report earnings, paid the tax on it, probably someone without a legal number. The name didn't match, but the number did and that is what we use. It happens all the time.  

The system is still a mess. A guy I know, who is a US citizen, whose two children are US citizens, born here, is 5,000 miles away from his wife and kids.  His wife is waiting approval of a visa, she is not a US citizen.  They were married and living here when the kids were born, but because she went home to visit family and her visa expired, she has been waiting almost two years for permission to rejoin her family. This is not a green card marriage, the system is broken if it is keeping families like his apart. (He spends about 4 months a year with his wife and kids in Africa, and telecommutes to his job in DC.) He is incredibly talented, we need him, if this drags on, he can get permanent residence where his wife and kids are in one day, one visit, they want and need people with his skills (and so do we.) 

If we want to solve the labor shortage, we need to fix our immigration system.  I have my grandmother's naturalization certificate, I think I am going to frame it and hang it in my office as a reminder that we are all immigrants.  



Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - The Tour of Kentucky

 The last year I was in Kentucky I did two grand tours.  The Bar Association did a road show - a series of two day continuing education programs at various locations across the state.  The promise was that no member would have to drive more than 100 miles to attend the program.  I wrote a section of the program, and normally I would recruit volunteers around the state to present at a location near them.  In 2008, I booked myself for the far flung corners of the state, I think I did 6 of the 8 locations, skipping the one in my own backyard, and in Louisville.  Later that fall the state health insurance information assistance program (SHIP) did a road show, three locations, one near home, one way out in the western part of the state, and one down in south central closer to Tennessee than civilization.  I was doing a couple of hours on the agenda and I was assigned to drive one of the most experienced volunteers around the state.  

This image was taken down south.  For that location I stayed in a log cabin with a wood burning fireplace, a part of the hotel complex.  While I was at this location I had a voice mail, about a possible interview for a job in Washington DC.  I went and parked the car between two tall trees, on top of a hill to return the call, the best cell reception in the county, and made arrangements for the interview that led me to being here.  Little did I know when I started that tour, that it would be my last tour of Kentucky.   

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Travel Tuesday - Always looking for wisdom

 Travel changes me. The more I experience, the more I seem to understand the human condition.  I have a student intern coming in for the spring semester and one of the things that set him apart from others, was he has been around the world, lived in a variety of very diverse places, his insight into life is shaped by the experience.  His wisdom is beyond his years.  

I am always looking for seeds of wisdom, insight into understanding the adventure.  

Fresh Bread 

A second part to today's entry.  I have made bread a couple of times recently.  I had gotten into the habit of buying from a local baker at the Saturday farmers market. The last couple of Saturdays it has been cold, like 10 degrees colder than freezing (23F about -6C) and I didn't go to the market.  As it has been for the past 250 years, the market is outside.  

Bread is not hard to make.  It is nothing to be afraid of.  When I first made it I kneaded it by hand, I was younger and fitter then.  I use a Kitchen Aid Stand mixer with a dough hook. 

Here is how. 

About 3/4 of a cup of warm water, 110 F, or maybe a degree or so less.  Mix into that a tablespoon of sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons of rapid rise dry active yeast.  I buy yeast in 1 pound bags, and store it in the freezer in a tightly lidded mason jar.  You can order it on Amazon, I have 2 or 3 pounds in the freezer (if you are close by, I have more than I will use, I'd be glad to give away a couple of pounds, long story my order ended up being duplicated the last time around.) 

Put 3 cups of bread flour into the mixing bowl. I use King Arthur or Bobs Red Mill.  They are a little better quality. Bread flour has a higher protein or glutton content. Add about 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.  Melt 3 or 4 tablespoons of butter (I use Kerrygold salted.) Mix the salt and butter in with the flour with a spoon.

By now the yeast mixture should be bubbly and frothy.  If not the either the water was too hot (I use always temp it) or the yeast is dead.  If the yeast is dead, you need fresh.  It stores well in the freezer, but not so well at room temp.  

Pour the yeast mix into the flour mix, and stir until it starts to come together as a stiff clumpy mix.  Put the bowl on the mixer, with the dough hook, lock the head down or the bowl up (depending on the model) and start on slightly above slow speed.  In a minute or so, the dough should start to form a ball around the hook. If it does not, add a little more warm water, a tablespoon or two will usually do the trick.  Start a timer for five minutes to time the kneading. 

Optional step:

Grate, 4 or 5 ounces of cheese.  Sharp cheddar, odds and ends of what you have on hand.  About half way through the kneading stop the mixer and add the cheese, and resume kneading.  The cheese will all but disappear into the bread dough.     

When the five minutes are up, turn off the mixer, knead by hand for a few moments to form an elastic ball.  Drizzle the mixer bowl lightly with olive oil, turn the dough in the oil, cover with a towel and let set to rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes. (I put mine six inches under a halogen under counter light.) 

Spray a loaf pan with non-stick baking spray (I use Pam.) 

When about doubled (or more) in bulk,  punch down and knead into a ball and form a loaf shape.  The dough will change in texture very quickly.  Place in the loaf pan, cover with the towel, return to a warm place and let rise for about an hour. 

About 20 minutes before the second rise is finished preheat the oven to about 375 degrees.  

Bake 60 minutes at about 375 degrees.  The loaf should turn out of pan easily, thump the bottom, it should sound hollow when done.  Baking time will vary from oven to oven, and by altitude, and by weather. 

Allow to cool for 2-hours or more on a cooling rack before slicing.  A lot of great bread is ruined by trying to slice to soon.  


Monday, January 17, 2022

You Tube Monday - Martin Luther King Jr. 'I have a dream' speech

If you post anything on social media today, make it a simple statement, 
Congress Must Pass Legislation to Expand and Protect Voting Rights Now!

Today the United States pauses to honor Dr. Martin Luther King. Almost 60 years after this speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, we are still struggling to fulfill the dream.  Racists don't realize that the issue is caused by them, not by the people they hate.  The racists are the ones who must change.  A racist is not a Patriot.  

We need to work to develop understanding that difference is strength. No one should live in fear because of who they are. That all people are created equal, all should be welcome the table of Democracy.  

All people who are different in anyway, age, gender, disability, origin, need to band together.  Our struggles are different, but connect.  

None of us are truly free, until all of us are free. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Sunday Five: Tell Me About Yourself

 1: Do you prefer your given name, or something else? 

2: Have you ever lied about your age?

3: Can you read your own handwriting? 

4: If you went back to school, what would you study? 

5: What family member had the greatest influence on you? 

My answers:

1: Do you prefer your given name, or something else?  Given name, 

2: Have you ever lied about your age? No 

3: Can you read your own handwriting? Sometimes 

4: If you went back to school, what would you study? For years I would have answered medicine, I should have gone to medical school, at this age, Art. 

5: What family member had the greatest influence on you? My paternal grandmother. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - A couple of weeks in, a couple of weeks out

We are a couple of weeks into the year already.  As they say, time flies when we are having fun.  The older we get the faster time seems to spin, my boss describes time as we age as being like the toilet paper roll spinning faster as it approaches the end of the roll. 

I have been busy.  We are wrapping up a major year long research project in the office, trying to make sense of 40 plus interviews and over 300 survey responses (68 pages, single-spaced of survey narrative answers.) I am doing a reader report on the manuscript for a book - well written and needed. I am finishing up a book review.  

We have a board meeting coming up.  My boss's last board meeting. We are a couple of weeks into the year, and a couple of weeks out from me taking over.  My workload has gone up, my email volume has gone up.  We are scrambling with introductions, I am shadowing him on as many calls and meetings as I can.  His immediate boss, soon to be my immediate boss is already starting to ask what I think.  I answered one of those recently with I don't know, I need to find out, but I don't feel comfortable doing that until after my boss retires.  I have referred to the time after the first of February as AC short for After Charlie. 

A week after I move into the managers chair, we have a new person joining our staff (my replacement.) I have been coordinating getting her set up to start, computers, phones and such.  The last time someone started, the IT department met her at the door, opened the door just wide enough for the box to fit through and handed her a computer and told her to call when she got it working.  We need to do better. I made sure the work order to IT included everything we can supply. 

Life is good at home.  With COVID working its way through the Greek alphabet, we have been mostly staying home, or walking where there are not many people. 

I have another camera new lens I look forward to learning use.  For Christmas I went very wide 180 degrees plus, this one is less than 5 degrees angle of view, the longest I have ever used. And totally manual.  I know how to do that, but it has been a while.  

I had new eyeglasses made over the holidays.  I had medical flexible spending money that I needed to spend before the end of December or lose it.  I had my head examined (well my eyes are in my head.) New progressive bifocals in Polo frames, distance only television watching glasses in Prada frames, and progressive sunglasses with mirrored lenses made.  Yes, three pairs of new eyeglasses.  

I had insurance benefits and a lot of flex dollars I needed to spend or forfeit (I had budgeted for an MRI on my spine last year, that still has not been scheduled and set aside extra for the out of pocket cost on that - typically about $800.)   

The optician started to describe various lens options and costs, and I said "the one's I have are varilux and I have been really happy with those." He said those are the best, but they are more expensive. He showed me the price, and I said, okay, now we need to spend more, let's do another pair (hence the TV watching glasses in the Prada frames.) I think he was a little surprised by someone wanting to spend more, not less. It was kind of fun to go shopping and not worry about the prices, what it would be like to be rich. 

A part of me is offended by a system that encourages spending more than is needed, because it is use it or lose it money.  But that is how Congress and the tax code set that up.     



Friday, January 14, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Snow Day!

 I grew up on a farm in rural Michigan, well with one exception,* until I was in the 8th grade, we had winters, and every winter we would eagerly anticipate schools being closed and SNOW DAYS.  Extra random weather related days off, days at home. Then I started spending winters in Florida where it is not suppose to snow.**  A weather related closure in Florida, is usually a hurricane and in 20 years of living there I only had two or three days when my office was closed because of a hurricane (I was lucky, the weather was worse after I moved away.) The first winter after I moved "back north" I experienced a few snow days, the first one I tried to ignore, I got stuck in the middle of the street at the end of the driveway.  I have learned not to ignore them, but to revel in them.  

Living in DC, my office follows OPM, the office of personnel management directives on the office being open or closed.  With enhanced telework, the feds close less, but we had enough on Monday the 3rd, the office was officially closed, but then we were already closed adding an extra paid day off to the New Years holiday we were closed already.  Still it was a great day to relax at home. 

I am not a winter weather lover,  every January and February I question the sanity of anyone living this far north, let alone moving here after 20 years in the semi-tropics.  But a snow day, and pretty, random day off is fabulous. 

*I went to the first grade one winter in Phoenix - a long story. 

** In 20 years in central Florida, Orlando and the east coast near there, I saw snow flurries twice. Just a flurry and flit.  

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Thursday Ramble - People Sometimes Disappoint Me

YouTube has largely replaced broadcast and cable TV for me.  There are some really talented content producers.  There is a whole cluster of English Narrow Boat channels I look forward to my Friday evening with Foxes Afloat, a couple of times a month I go flying with Max, once a week or so I go hiking and taking photos with Thomas, and there are a bunch of others.  With YouTube there is a greater feeling of connection between the creator and the audience.  Even those with 100-200-thousand subscribers often respond to comments, and you get a glimpse into their lives that hollywood never gives.  YouTube is a more personal experience. 

One of the challenges with this is people will sometimes disappoint.  For sometime I have been watching a young blogger from Toronto.  He is fun, and nice to look at, and not afraid to say or show much of anything (within the limits of what YouTube will allow, he basically makes a living from the advertising revenue and needs to not get banned by YT.) 

He recently announced that he tested positive for Covid.  Then he went onto say that he wasn't going to get vaccinated, but he wanted to fly to visit a lover in Sweden, and had to be vaccinated to enter Sweden, so he was and he got sick anyway.  Then he tries to say he is not anti-vax, and only had the vaccination because he was forced to.  I watched this one late in the day.  The more I thought about the illogic of what he said, the more disappointed I was, the more angry I was.  You can't say you were not going to get vaccinated, and say you are not anti-vax.  His logic is tragically flawed.  

I did the only thing I really could do, I unsubscribed.  I will miss his offbeat sexy humor, and his killer abs, but I can't put pennies in the pocket of someone who sees nothing wrong with not following science, only following it when he feels forced to do so, and then not really because he wants to protect his health and the health of others, but to satisfy his sexual appetite. 

Disappoint me, and I know where the delete key is. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - Moments frozen in time

The essence of photography is capturing a fraction of a second, for later viewing.  This moment, probably 1/60 of a second was taken in the other house - the house in Lexington Kentucky probably 15-20 years ago.  At the top of the stairs with an open railing overlooking the great room, was our shared office.  On the plans there was a option to enclose it as a bedroom, the house was essentially finished when we bought it and the office/loft worked wonderfully for us.  The top rail, is visible just to the left of the box of Kleenex over my shoulder. There is a stack of training manuals on the top shelf, this is where I prepared probably 100 training programs.  The plastic tub with a green label, is some kind of foot cream, my feet dry out terribly in the winter, nothing seems to really help other than a pedicure and letting them sand my feet with the cheese grater.  The plastic storage bin, is filled with computer bits and pieces and probably a camera, it is on the shelf in my second closet today.  I really should sort it out again.  I was younger, a little more hair on top, a lot less grey on the chin. The framed prints on the wall behind, we left to the estate sale people when we cleaned out the house.  There is so much there, so much meaning in a moment frozen in time.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Travel Tuesday - Love Hate Relationship with Cars and Driving

A few months ago I did a series on some of the cars I have owned, lots of cars.  Most were utilitarian, a handful were spectacular. I love cars, I enjoy the design, the style, to comfort, the performance.  In the right moment, I like pushing car near its limits going through a tight corner.  But at the same time, I drive because I need to, not because I especially enjoy it.  Truth be told at times I hate driving.  Driving is better in a comfortable car, putting the top down on the little car on a pretty day, always lightens my mood.  If I won the PowerBall, there are a few fantasy cars I would try - a Rolls, a Ferrari, but even then I probably wouldn't draw great pleasure from driving.  I am weird that way.  

The photo above?  We live in an area with a lot of nice cars, a lot of people with a lot of disposable income and good credit. The kind of a place where a teenager learns to drive in a Porsche. A fun place to live, I am not from here, I started driving in a 1965 Ford pickup truck.   


Monday, January 10, 2022

You Tube Monday : Opening Doors to Opportunity

Opportunity, it looks a lot like the unknown, like risk, like something to be avoided.  And often we avoid it.  Or we try to force our way in, only to find we are unable to get that door open.  When we accept opportunity on it's own terms, the door magically swings wide.  Lots of symbolism, lots of life lessons in this series.  Nice short video with a big message. 

Sunday, January 09, 2022

The Sunday Five: A little Renovation

 We are still trying to make plans for a kitchen replacement. The joys   

1: Have you ever moved into a new house? 

2: Have you lived through a major renovation? 

3: If you could change one thing about your current home, what would it be? 

4: If money was unlimited, how large of a home would you buy? 

5: Any great family stories of homes in past? 

My answers: 

1: Have you ever moved into a new house? Three times, I worked in the business I built two of them. 

2: Have you lived through a major renovation? Both bathrooms in the condo

3: If you could change one thing about your current home, what would it be?  Well there is that kitchen 

4: If money was unlimited, how large of a home would you buy?  Maybe 2,000 sq. ft., having offices would be nice. Anything larger is just more to clean and maintain.  

5: Any great family stories of homes in past? In 1977 my grandmother moved to a home on the east coast of Florida, and remarked that it was the forth home she had owned, and the first one with an indoor toilet when she bought it. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, January 08, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - Pondering

Between Christmas and New Year's,  my sweet bear had a bit of a funny health scare.  He was watching a YouTube video got to laughing so hard he couldn't catch his breath, passed out and hit his head falling off his perch.  Calls to both his doctors office and the local doc-in-a-box recommended that he be checked at the Emergency Room (A&E in some parts of the world.) A thorough going over and few thousand dollars in tests found nothing unexpected. Passing out from being over excited is a known condition, a defined diagnosis.  Spo helped us translate radiologist and cardiologist speak into common English, and the answers were not to unexpected for an older person - the worst of it was a scrape on his head and being diagnosed as aging. 

Current public health limitations prohibit "visitors" in the ER, the sign instructed me to wait in the car.  And I did.  The battery in his phone was running down, so we limited communications. I took my Kindle and a book to read (that didn't get added to my reading list for 2021.) It was a long three hours.  The last gap between communications was over an hour.  Long enough for me to start to ponder the worst. What would I do? How would I move forward?  I am a planner, and my brain ponders when faced with uncertainty or change.  

Last weekend, with New Years, there was a lot of pondering going on about 2022.  What will happen, will things change, will we return to normal?  I don't know? My crystal balls are broken.  

What happens in 2022 will happen, good, bad, wanted, unwanted, the stuff of dreams and nightmares, returning to the old normal, or developing the new normal.  I can't change most of it, I can't stop it from coming at me without falling off my perch permanently. 

2022 will be what I make of it.  

And this sets my brain to pondering - ways that I can enjoy whatever 2022 throws at me.  

Friday, January 07, 2022

Fun Friday! - Top Down Driving

Is it genetic that I love a convertible(cabriolet,) a car with the top down?  This is my great grandparents on my mother's side. Cruising with the top down.  My father hated convertibles, and was not shy about his reasons why.  My mother was always strangely quiet on the subject.  I think the only car she ever really liked, was a VW diesel station wagon (estate car) they owned as a tow car during the motorhome episode.  

If it is even moderately warm, and the sun is out, the top goes down.  Now maybe I know where I get that from.  

Find a sunny day, and let your hair blow in the breeze.  

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Thursday Ramble: I am tired of the complaining

 I am tired of hearing people complain about 2020 and 2021.  If you are still alive to complain, the years were not that bad.  The years may not have been the party I wanted, but while I was here I decided I might as well dance.  

Yes, there were things we wanted to do, that we couldn't do. That freed up time to do things I wouldn't have otherwise done. I have walked more, taken more photos, and found time to paint.  

Yes, we had to change our behaviours.  Maybe we learned new ways to reduce our risk of getting sick, washing our hands, wearing a mask in crowded conditions and we will be healthier. 

Yes, we spent more time at home.  Feather your nest, love where you are.  

Yes, shopping has changed. I have learned to click, rather than fight the crowd, and curse waiting to check out. 

Yes, we have eaten out less. My cooking has become more creative, and learned to make cakes from scratch. And when I do eat out, I treasure it more. 

Yes, we were not able to spend time with people.  I have found new ways to communicate with family and friends.  And maybe I have avoided a few stressful people. 

Yes, it was an ugly election, and an attempted coup. But we have a new President and Vice-President.   

Yes, it has been two years of change, of difference.  But it was not all bad.  If we are still alive, it could have been worse.  Seize the things that we have gained. 

When all else fails, put on a silly hat that makes you smile. 


Wednesday, January 05, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - Some Things Are Worth Waiting For

Back in the late 1960's early 1970's I started seeing images in print, from "Fish Eye" lenses.  Lenses with a 180 degree or greater field of view.  So wide that the corners start to round over, many of the lenses produced a round image. If I use this one on my full frame film camera the corners will be rounded off. The difference between a super wide angle 18 mm, and the 10.5mm fish eye is the difference between these two images just above.  

When I started getting serious about cameras, in my teens, I dreamed of owning one.  Dave Snoffer the the graphic arts teacher at the high school in Michigan had one for his Minolta SRT101.  In the second semester of the introduction to graphic arts he would let the students use it.  I was so looking forward to that.  Before I had a chance the lens was stolen along with other lenses that were his personal property, stolen from the classroom.  Because the lenses were his, the school would not replace them. He was deeply hurt, and understandably angry.  I could go on about that, but the bottom line is someone's greed denied several years of students the opportunity to work with this exotic piece of kit.  

The desire to use a fish eye lens never really went away.  It is not something anyone will use everyday.  It is a specialty item. For the right image the effect is very profound.  

A couple of months ago I discovered that Nikon had made a fish eye lens for the camera series that I use.  Why, I have no idea. They made the lens for a short time, it is no longer in production.  There are new one's available, new old stock, mostly available in Japan.  You can order one from Uncle Jeff, but most likely it will ship from a camera shop in Japan. There are a few of them in the used lens market in the USA. I saw one on the website of a reliable used camera dealer ( in Atlanta,) and I decided it was my chance to own something that I have lusted over for about 50 years.  So I clicked add to cart.  Handed it off to Santa. And here it is.  

Some things are worth waiting for.  Never let the dream fade away. 

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Travel Tuesday - Weather

 Thinking back, I have only had a couple of times when weather changed my travel plans.  A few years ago I was scheduled to fly to California one January, and the weather looked a lot like this that morning, the airline rescheduled me for the next day, and I missed a night in a hotel on the beach.  One fall I was flying to Florida, and a hurricane was  coming up the east coast, it had passed Florida, and was headed north.  I called the airline and asked if I could get out before the storm arrived here. The initial answer was no, then I reasoned with the reservations desk, if I wait 12 hours, the flight from here will be cancelled because of the weather, if you can get me out now, you get the revenue.  "Let me check with a supervisor!" A minute later the answer was yes, along with a "thank you we just changed the policy on changes, and by the way, I moved you into business class for the flight out." Sometimes it pays to ask nicely.  

This is what Monday looked like.  The first snow of the season.  The most snow we have had in a couple of years. It has been a while since we have seen 5 or 6 inches around here. I had another Travel Tuesday post planned, you will see it in a few weeks.    

Monday, January 03, 2022

My Music Monday - The Beatles - Here Comes The Sun

For those of us on the northern half of the world, there are a few more minutes of sunlight each day.  The darkest, but likely not the coldest days of the winter have passed.   

Sunday, January 02, 2022

The Sunday Five - Flying

I love airplanes, I love flying.  This weeks Sunday five is about things that fly.
1: Have you ever flown in a the Queen of the Sky, a 747? 
2: Have you ever flown in a single engine airplane? 
3: Would you know the difference between a piston engine airplane and a turbo-prop? 
4: Have you ever flown in a helicopter? 
5: Have you ever flown in a lighter than air aircraft? 

My Answers:
1: Have you ever flown in a the Queen of the Sky, a 747? Three times
2: Have you ever flown in a single engine airplane? Grew up in them
3: Would you know the difference between a piston engine airplane and a turbo-prop? Yup
4: Have you ever flown in a helicopter? Twice
5: Have you ever flown in a lighter than aircraft? A Zeppelin 

Please share your answers in the comments.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Happy New Year! 2022

 Happy New Year To All 
May the New Year bring
Good Health, 
Great Blog Postings! 

2022 will be what we make of it
It will bring opportunities, challenges, obstacles, good times and sad times, we can't change that, we can only change how we respond to what happens,
Remember, always, the best is yet to come!
May our adventure continue!