Monday, February 28, 2022
Sunday, February 27, 2022
An old friend got me started on blogging by asking me to fill in for him for a couple of weeks one summer while he went on holiday (he is English.) Through blogging I have met some wonderful friends. Some only virtual, others in Person. I have mourned a few losses. Celebrated a few accomplishments. Hence this weeks Sunday Five:
1: Have you met any bloggers in person?
2: Do you almost always leave a comment?
3: Are there blogs you read that you would never leave a comment on?
4: Has anyone ever tracked you down from your blog?
5: What blogger do you hope to meet in person someday?
1: Have you met any bloggers in person? About 10 of them.
2: Do you almost always leave a comment? There is a core group that I try to leave a comment, even if it just a couple of words to let you know I was there, and a few I rarely comment on.
3: Are there blogs you read that you would never leave a comment on? A few. There are a couple I stopped commenting on because the response made it clear my comments were unwelcome.
4: Has anyone ever tracked you down from your blog? Someone posted a photo in a comment of me taking a photo that appeared on my blog. No further contact, that was memorable.
5: What blogger do you hope to meet in person someday There are several, Ken and Walt in France, Sharon in Phoenix, Angus and Sophie in France, Deedles who doesn't blog but posts great comments, there are others.
Please share your answers in the comments
Saturday, February 26, 2022
I have a couple of cameras (well more than a couple.) I have a great bag full of lenses, this was taken with a 10.5mm Nikkor fisheye lens. An amazing wide view of the world.
Life is not always easy, or fun. I am fortunate to be able to choose how I respond to the trials of daily life. Usually with getting stressed, then realizing that it is all a part of the journey. It may not be the party I hoped for, but while we are here I might as well dance.
I grump about the weather, and the traffic, and the cost, but I am very fortunate to live in a wonderful area. As a major world capital, there is money, power, influence, and with that comes shopping, food and drink, museums, and arts. It isn't perfect, it can be cold in the winter, and steamy in the summer, there are times when you simply have to give up on traffic and go home. From the first time I visited here, I dreamed of living here. This is really the first place in my life that I have lived in because it was someplace I wanted to be. I am lucky, most people live where they live because of fate or chance or necessity. It is an interesting place to view the world stage from.
Politics are weird right now. Frightening at times. Politics have been like this before, and we have survived. The late 50's into the 60's was a very difficult time, and yet big things were done. There is still a lot of progress left to be made. But I can see it happening. In the long run. Brave people standing up for what is fair and equitable.
There are innovators in the private sphere working on amazing things. Access to space flight, higher speed mass transit, cleaner energy, more efficient food production, medicine. Government funding took us to the moon, but a bicycle shop demonstrated controlled flight. Electric lighting, and telecommunications came out of private workshops. In my view we are in a period of amazing innovation. 100 years ago only dreamers flew over oceans. What will our generations equivalent be to that? And there will be one.
So I have an optimistic view. If I take a pessimistic view, I am pretty certain that I will be dead before life or civilization as we know it end.
Friday, February 25, 2022
I am enjoying my second set of Prada eyeglass frames, I keep getting compliments on how good they look. How much Prada actually worked on the design, I don't know. I do know they didn't cost much more to make, than the no-brand one's from my favorite discounter. But they have that brand.
Now I am stingy. I seldom pay full price, and true to form the Prada's were half off on the purchase of a second pair of glasses. Making them not much more than the no-brand frames from the discounter.
When I lived in Orlando, there was a Calvin Klein factory outlet store just off International Drive, back in the days when factory outlets were actually owned and operated by the manufacturer. It allowed me to indulge in some good stuff, without suffering anxiety over spending that much to look fabulous.
I have no idea how much the Dior sunglasses are, if you want to try them on, you have to give them your ID and credit card to hold, while you try on the glasses (cuts down on runners). Fabulous is seldom free for the taking. There was a news report in the Washington Post recently about a rash of smash and grab robberies of designer eyewear.
Thursday, February 24, 2022
I have mentioned before that one of the early blogs I contributed to was the "Mirror Project" that posted photos from contributors showing reflections of the world that in someway reflected the photographer. It was a fun project, it kept me looking for shiny objects. It ended when literally someone dropped it, dropped the server all of the postings were saved on. The last time I checked parts of it had been restored from bits and pieces, but the down time kind of ended that one for me. Still I find myself stopping to take a photo of a reflection.
I saw the good doctor recently, I was pleasantly surprised that I had only gained 3 pounds in the past year, I was sure I was up 10 or 20 pounds. We talked, she is nice and fun and understanding of what I want, of what I feel is important. I commented that I have largely my dream job, she said her nephew asked her recently about becoming a doctor, she said "I had to think about that, but yes, I am right where I dreamed I would be." A small, local general practice.
Many of us work to much, worry to much, don't take as good of care of ourselves as we should. I thought I gained more weight, because I have neglected to make time for walking, for eating better, for stepping away to refresh. We all need that. We think these challenges go away when we retire, but as dear departed cousin Bill put it, "the biggest problem with retirement, is you never get a day off." We get a day off because we allow ourselves to take one. A day off is a change of pace, a change of environment. For those of us who have been working from home, the scene does not change unless we move. I always dreamed I would someday live walking distance from the office, but I really thought it would be more than 10 feet. I can see my office from my bed, and my bed from my office, and it makes it harder to seperate the two.
If we don't take care of ourselves, we won't be here to care for others, or save the world (at least our little corner of it.)
When I look in the mirror what do I see? Someone who needs to step away for a couple of days, someone who needs to care for himself.
What reflection do you see?
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
It has been about 23 months since we returned from Ireland, to a vastly changed world, with no idea how long the changes would last. My most traveled year, I boarded a little over 30 airline flights, 4 last year. A couple of times I have gone to Europe twice in a 12 month period, it has been a couple of years since the last trip, and I am longing for the good old days.
I am maxed out on accrued vacation and paid personal days at the office, and struggling to find reasons to take a day here and there to minimize the loss of paid time off that I will never get. In the past this was never a real issue, only when I was distracted or careless did I run afoul of the rules. But without travel, both business and personal, I find it hard to take the time I have earned. I often add a few days to work travel, staying over at my own expense to see people or places. I have had one work trip in 28 months. And nothing seems to be coming up.
I recently had a thought, oh get on with life, I should just book tickets and go. The response was, is it time? Is it safe? Be careful.
We are going to New York in April, train up and back, and a hotel. NYC long ago instituted needing proof of full vaccination for indoor anything, and masks. It makes it a bit safer. I look forward to it.
I long to hop the pond, I long to see familiar places and faces, and to explore places and experience adventures unknown. Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are all on the bucket list. I read the online news in Iceland, an island nation that has done well at isolation in the pandemic, yet 1,400 positive tests and one death of a young person in the week before my latest read. Maybe this is a longing I need to experience just a little longer.
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
I had something else written and then realized this is 2/22/22, or across the pond, 22/2/22. A date sequence like that will not happen again in my lifetime. We should do something special. People talk about once in a lifetime trips, well this is truly a once in a lifetime date. I think the only once in a lifetime trips I have had, are to places I don't care to ever go back to. And there are a few, I won't name names to protect those stranded in those places, and unable to escape. There are far more I would go back to, than I hope to avoid.
Monday, February 21, 2022
Sunday, February 20, 2022
If you laughed at the title, you are an experienced adult, or you are simply old. I recently replaced my cell/mobile phone. I don't recall if I bought in 2015 or 2016, I think 2015, so it was likely 7 years old. It still worked, but the memory was full. The resident memory that holds the operating system and all apps, was full to the point I couldn't update or add anything, without taking something off. And I am not a big app user. So after putting it off for months, I decided it was time, and off the phone store. Probably the easiest sale they had all day. I told the guy what I wanted and needed, he said this one is best, he had it in stock, done deal. It works, does a few things the old one didn't, does more than I want or need.
1: Do you carry a "smartphone?"
2: Apple, Android, or other?
3: How long ago did you buy a new one?
4: Do you always have yours on?
5: Do you prefer phone, email or text?
1: Do you carry a "smartphone?" I started with Blackberry, before the I-Phone existed.
2: Apple, Android, or other? Android
3: How long ago did you buy a new one? Late January
4: Do you always have yours on? Nope. I know people who sleep with their phone.
5: Do you prefer phone, email or text? Email
Please share your answers in the comments.
Saturday, February 19, 2022
When I first moved in Washington DC, my office was so close to the White House, that I signed a release for my information to be shared with White House security. We were inside the exclusion zone for inaugurations, as in the Secret Service locked our building and told us when we could return after the inauguration. The office moved a few blocks away a few years ago.
Friday, February 18, 2022
I have been thrown out of a few retail stores over the years for taking photos. And I am shy about asking permission. It is usually obvious that I am taking photos, I generally use a relatively large serious looking camera and lens. I am sometimes a little nervous about it.
I ran across this shoe store filled with fabulous displays. There were no customers in the store, one person behind the register. I took a couple of photos, said thank you and turned to leave. The clerk said, before you leave - my heart sank - she continued "You have to take a photo of this shelf, they are my favorites and I want the world to see them!"
So here they are, being shown to my little corner of the world. Aren't they fabulous! And how nice to be encouraged instead of thrown out of the store. Share your fabulousness with the world.
Thursday, February 17, 2022
I often like weird art, modern art, representational art, color studies and color blocks, found object sculpture. I like most art, the unusual modern stuff leaves a lot of people asking is it art, or saying what a pile of trash, but I often like it.
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
I had a flashback moment recently. The CBS Sunday Morning Show did a feature on the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco. I have seen the club, watched people swimming in the bay. They do open water swimming in San Francisco Bay. So part of the flashback was I have seen Aquatic Park, and that club, but deeper, the real flash back for me was 32 years ago, at the peak of my fitness, I did open water swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, along the coast of Florida.
I would go out probably 100 yards from shore, and swim parallel to the shore. I was swimming a lot, 2-3 hours a week of laps in a pool. I learned to stay afloat as a child, I seriously learned to swim so I could compete in two seasons of Sprint Series TriAthlons, with swims up to half a mile. I recall swimming as much as half a mile, parallel to the coast in open water. It is peaceful, powerful, relaxing. It is surprisingly fast. Wonderful memories.
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
Train travel in the USA can be a challenge, the trains tend to be slow, the equipment is often old. There are limited routes; away from the upper east coast and California, service is very limited.
The people are nice and the price can be very attractive.
I recently booked tickets to go to New York later this spring, made hotel reservations, went to email someone special that we had made plans and realized I had train tickets to go up on a Monday, and hotel reservations starting on Tuesday. I didn't want to add a hotel night, so I endeavoured to change the train tickets.
I should be able to do it online, but the reservations computer was running so slow that I kept getting kicked out. I called, argued with the automated system that couldn't understand the difference between my saying "D" and "E", finally I was sent onto a human being.
And She was SO NICE and HELPFUL. She encountered the same slow reservations system, but she could stay on until she was able to make the change. She kept coming on and saying I am making progress, please hang on, I am sorry the system is running slow for some reason. In the end the Tuesday train was the same price as the Monday train, no charge for the change (try that with airlines.) And round trip was $88 per person. If I drove to New York, I couldn't park my car for four days for that, it might cost that much per day to park.* On this end the train station is a mile from home. In New York, you arrive in the heart of Manhattan. The airports in NY are an hour from where you want to be.
*The first time I was in San Francisco, I scored a deal on a nice hotel for like $99 for one night, and paid $60 to park a rental car three blocks away. I have never driven in SF again.
Monday, February 14, 2022
Sunday, February 13, 2022
I recently needed to meet with a colleague, it could have been a simple hand off, I could have left a package with the front desk at the building she lives in, instead we met across the street for coffee, and cake. It was good to have face time - and not that app on some device, seeing someone face to face.
1: Coffee - hot or cold?
2: Carrot cake or chocolate cake?
3: In person or virtual?
4: New and local coffee shop, or big chain?
5: When was the last time you met someone face-to-face?
1: Coffee - hot or cold? Cold
2: Carrot cake or chocolate? Carrot
3: In person or virtual? either, but in person was nice
4: New and local coffee shop, or big chain? New local
5: When was the last time you met someone face-to-face? Last Tuesday
Please share your answers in the comments.
Saturday, February 12, 2022
Five or so decades ago, when I was a child, I heard (I read only duress as a child) that the future promised flying cars and personal jet packs. Hmm, we are still working on those. If you have ever been in a major traffic jam, can you imagine all of those cars replaced by flying cars? Sky jams. Jetpacks still prove hard to control, though computer controlled vectored aircraft have become a reality. Think of the $100 rechargeable drone (I had an early one that ate a tree) there has been amazing progress in just the past five years.)
Above is a Bell (yes Bell Aircraft a real manufacturer of helicopters) vectored thrust vertical take off and landing aircraft. The next generation of helicopter? And this is not a mock up, it is the real thing, that has flown. It is more stable and more controllable than the helicopters of the past 70 years.
A personal drone is being tested, it would fit into the light sport aircraft category.
Let me think back, in third grade the science book said the world's oil reserves would be exhausted in 20 years. It should have read the "known" oil reserves. "Get Smart" led us to think that we would need to take our shoe off to make a phone call without a cable connected. But here we are with phone in our pocket. Oh and it has about a million times the computing power that the lunar lander had in 1969 (likely an understatement - it might be a billion times more power.)
I remember the first time I saw an HD television, something we take for granted, but 32 years ago it was a lab experiment. The Smithsonian had one set up, next to a CRT television, playing the same video loop, the difference in quality brought tears to your eyes.
What will the next 30 years bring? I am optimistic.
I know politics are weird right now, but so where they in the 1960's and 1970's, and we passed the Civil Rights Act, and Medicare, went to the Moon, and ran Tricky Dick out of the White House. Innovation is happening at a pace I can only imagine.
Friday, February 11, 2022
Okay, I have a thing for shoes. I have owned and worn some spectacular shoes over the years. In my midlife crisis, I spent a year working in a large department store, selling shoes in the ladies shoe department. The experience left its mark on me, the second thing I notice about a person after their eyes, is the shoes they are wearing or not wearing.
I have never worn womens shoes, they would look silly on my large feet and I have no idea how anyone walks on those heels, pressing your toes into that pointed end will do cripling damage. (My mother had a couple of toes amputated from damage from shoes she had worn for years.)
Anymore I wear shoes for comfort, but that does not mean the shoes can't have style. I like strong colors, bright colors, unique designs. If I see a nice stable running shoe in a sparkly finish like the one above, I would probably buy it.
Thursday, February 10, 2022
I have maxed out on the number of vacation and sick leave I can have with my employer, meaning I don't accrue any until I use some. So I took last Friday off, except that I well I didn't. My time sheet says I was out sick. But I woke up very early, like 5 AM, and couldn't get back to sleep, so I spent an hour in bed checking blogs, then got up, turned on the coffee and sat at my desk.
One of the reasons I couldn't get back to sleep was my brain was focused on a writing project. Eight years ago I had written a chapter for a book. The editor emailed recently and asked me if I would be willing to update the chapter for a second edition. It is a short chapter, about 2,000 words, it was out of date, but within my scope to update without too much research. I agreed. My brain was engaged thinking about that commitment (that is not due for 12 weeks.)
I logged onto my office computer and send the first email at 6:29 AM, then dove into the chapter. I stuck with it, and it was finished in 5 hours. Parts of it needed to be entirely rewritten, parts of it didn't. I added two new paragraphs. It will be sent in 11 weeks early. (I am happy with the update, there was a monumental change in the law the year after it was published, that made about one-third of the 2,005 words out of date.)
I recently put my office email back on my phone. I found myself laying on the bed Friday afternoon, sorting out details with finance on a project extension and an invoice that took 12 months to finally arrive that we need to pay (After a year of others being polite, now that it is my responsibility I simply emailed someone and said, send us the paperwork in 10 days, or WE WON'T PAY YOU!) The paperwork was sorted out in two days.
But there I am working on my "day off." The office pays me a phone allowance of $40 a month, they can have it, I want my phone back to being my phone, I want my afternoon back on my day off. What has waited 10 months, can wait until Monday. A failure to act on behalf of others, should not be a crisis on my day off for me.
I will be back to counting down the months until I can retire. 17 if I want to push it, 22 most likely.
Wednesday, February 09, 2022
I have been taking photos since I was a child, I started to get serious about it in high school. This was my first commissioned cover shoot, as I recall I was paid a whopping $15 for this. I really needed a wide angle lens, something I didn't buy until the fall of 1976, after this had gone to print.
Suncrest was a local skilled nursing home. My grandmother was on the auxiliary, the volunteer group. She asked me to do this, she probably paid for it. The cookbook was a fundraiser. It was printed by a friend of - the village undertaker who ran a print shop as a sideline.
My grandfather died in this nursing home late in the fall of 1976. He had dementia, my grandmother and I cared for him at home until late summer of that year. He had a health crisis, was in the hospital, then home for a day or two, then a couple of different nursing homes. He died quietly of a heart attack while having lunch one day. The nurse described it as "he went face down in the mashed potatoes."
Tuesday, February 08, 2022
I am not paranoid, I am being tracked and here is the evidence. This starts in about 2013 or 2014, and is shockingly accurate. If I zoom into the details, it sometimes knows what room I am in, in some buildings.
Monday, February 07, 2022
Sunday, February 06, 2022
What did you do this week that -______?
1: Made you happy?
2: You were surprised you could do?
3: That pleased someone else?
4: Made you realize you are lucky?
5: That was fun?
1: Made you happy? Had coffee and carrot cake with a colleague at a new bakery / coffee shop.
2: You were surprised you could do? Finished reading a couple of books.
3: That pleased someone else? Reached out to an old friend I hadn't heard from for a while.
4: Made you realize you are lucky? Slept really well.
5: That was fun? Cooked, I do enjoy it.
Please share your answers in the comments, feel free to be silly, or frivolous.
Saturday, February 05, 2022
A couple of Sundays ago, the CBS Sunday Morning Show (one of the most intelligent programs on American network television) did a feature on the Futures exhibit in the Arts and Industries building of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. It was a cold Sunday, and I needed to get out for a walk, so I drove into the city and spent some time walking a couple of the Smithsonian museums. For those not familiar, the Smithsonian is not one museum, it is a bunch of them. Arts in Industries is one of the oldest buildings, and it had been closed for 19 years for structural repairs.
One of the items on display was a hyperloop car/capsule. The concept of a hyperloop is basically an enclosed tube, kind of like a pneumatic tube, transport pods would move inside of the tube at very high speeds, just under the speed of sound. The working model, uses linear induction electric motors, that have no moving parts, and magnetic levitation to minimize ground contact and friction. The enclosed tube minimizes friction, and actually the air can be pumped in the direction of travel creating even less drag. The current test circuits are relatively small. Large scale they are talking about Washington DC, to New York City in 25 minutes, a trip that currently take 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours by train, or 45 minute by air, but when you land in New York, you are an hour from the city center where most people want to be.
The current test vehicles seats two people. In relative comfort, but the trips would be short, the east coast corridor in less than an hour, east coast to Chicago in about an hour (with the time zone change you would arrive in Chicago from the east coast, before you left.) Cross country in about three hours.
Will it work? It works. Is it practical, time will tell. It is less than 100 years since humans first flew across the Atlantic, and there were those that questioned if air travel would ever be practical. I marvel to think of the travel adventures of the next 100 years.
Friday, February 04, 2022
Starting this made me think back to when shoes became a thing for me, I was a teenager (really I was, I know it was decades go, but I can still remember when) and there were two things I saw that made me go weak at the knees, a pair of dress boots - not work boot - not cowboy boots - but spectacular dressy - I had to have them. And Adidas tennis shoes, in light blue swede with three white stripes down the side - they were sexy!
Over the years the obsession has taken various forms. Cole Hahn driving mocs, I had almost every variety of those they made at one point, exotic leathers, I had a wonderful pair of crocodile shoes - that were terribly uncomfortable but looked amazing.
Anymore it is comfort or not at all, and I have a huge pile of athletic shoes in my closet. Different colors, different styles, different manufactures. The one thing they have in common is comfort. But color and style will motivate me to buy.
The shoes above (not a good photo) are black leather covered in what I can only describe as bubble wrap. Unique, but not for me.
Thursday, February 03, 2022
I had a couple of encounters recently with uglies, not just the jug above, but the human incarnation.
One person forwarded a link to an article describing terribly unsafe living conditions for renters. The article concluded with a couple of paragraphs of racist commentary on the people who owned and managed the buildings. The post drew some very appropriate criticism. I reached out to the person who posted it saying that there were serious issues. That the expressed racism was offensive and undermined the credibility of everything in the article. The person who posted it, strongly disagreed and made excuses for why the reader should overlook the racist comments and just pay attention to the terrible living condition. I can't help but think maybe the entire article was tainted by the authors racism. I am in a position to cut the poster off from the formun, something I rarely do, but I did.
The other ugly last week was a conversation with someone involved in "public health and nutrition programing." The person described an effort to improve the diet of older adults by convincing them that they can no longer eat traditional comfort foods. I asked why? The response was "so they can live longer and healthier in their old age!" Forcing a change in the diet of a 70 or 80 year old is not going to have that big of a difference. So what if it adds a few days, weeks, or months to the life of the person, if everyone of those days, weeks or months is spent missing the happy foods of their life? This is money and time wasted, it is paternalism.
There is malnutrition among older adults, mostly due to either a loss of appetite, an inability to eat, or a lack of access to a food or a variety of foods. We need to spend the senior nutrition dollars on enticing appetites, medical and dental care, and assuring access to foods that people want to eat, the comfort foods of their lifetime, and not on trying to convince them to eat more Kale - unless it is simmered for hours with lots of fatty sausage and ham and that is what they associate with the best of mom's cooking.
There is joke that circulates from time to time, that research shows that people who carry an extra 15 or 20 pounds, live much longer than the spouses that point it out to them.
End of rant, I feel less ugly now.
Wednesday, February 02, 2022
We became a couple in the fall of 1992. J was teaching at Rollins College in Florida, on a year to year contract, and looking for a permanent job. This would have been in January of 1994, our first airline trip together, from Orlando to Washington DC, for a conference where he had a laundry list of unproductive interviews. The flight was suppose to pause in Cleveland and go onto DC, someplace between Orlando and Cleveland, Continental decided the flight was not going from Cleveland to DC, and we had an unexpected layover and a late flight onto DC. My one and only trip on Continental.
In Cleveland we stepped outside for a minute, this was long before TSA, and the security was easy. I hadn't seen snow in about 14 years. I remember grabbing a handful and being surprised at how cold it was. I think I still have that Calvin Klein turtleneck. The leather jacket I outgrew.