Thursday, March 31, 2022

Thursday Ramble: Current Events

I watched Judge Brown, soon to be Justice Brown, exhibit amazing grace, and control while being barraged with irrelevant, racist, and insulting questions during her Senate confirmation hearing.  I had never heard of her before, after listening to 30 minutes of the hearing, she is amazing.  I wouldn't have made it through the process.  I would have told a couple of them what @$$holes they are. There are reasons I will never enter politics.  

Ukraine, the world stands by while a despot bombs the country into "smoldering ruins!" We offered the President an escape route, he said "send bullets!" The world saw it coming, and stood by and waited.  Thousands of people have died, millions of lives torn apart, and the world watched.  A dark time in world history.  

We recently watched the Jeopardy College Tournament, and were shocked at the sheer lack of knowledge of events that happened in the 1960's - 1990.  It was before they were born, and not long ago enough to be in the history books.  I remember my parents being shocked when I was in school in the 60's and 70's at the lack of information about World War II, and Korea.  I didn't really learn about the holocaust until I was in college in the late 1980's, and then really only because of one professor who felt we needed to know so we wouldn't stand by and watch a repeat of the past. 

Oh My, this is depressing.  What Good is happening. 

I had lunch with a new colleague recently.  I was trying to explain what we really do.  We are paid (relatively well) to study complex issues, think deep thoughts, help others understand the issues. We can spend time seeking deeper understanding of issues we are passionate about.  All of us came at some point from the front lines, with a single view on the issues, the solutions and how they work. Starting to look at the issues from multiple points of view, finding the interconnectedness of it all, I find inspiring. The longer I do this, the more I realize how little I knew, and how much there is left for me to learn. It is what has kept me here for 13 years, it is what drives me through the long weeks.  

The spring bloom is at its peak here in the DC area.  Lots of blooming trees, the trees are starting to leaf, the grass has that bright spring green.  Still the occasional cold wind. 


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - My First Checking Account

The building on the left, was my hometown bank. Now long gone, bought, sold, merged.  There are few small town state chartered banks left. There was a dime-store next door on the right when I was a child, complete with a candy counter.  

I had had a savings account in a larger bank in a nearby city, the fall I turned 15 I asked for a checking account.  The local bank said, yes if your parents approve we can do that.  They did. I remember there was a 3-cent charge for each check - forget that and your statement wouldn't balance.  

I remember the first check I wrote, to the G.B. Dupont company to rent an airplane, that my father flew, so we could go take photos of farms from the air.  I was making a few hundred dollars a year on aerial photos, and I stepped up to paying for the airtime with that first check. I should have kept that check.  

The account for the first year or so did not have an account number.  The check clearing house finally forced the bank to issue account numbers, or they wouldn't clear checks.  I remember the letter from the bank, apologizing and assuring us that we would never be a number to them, always a customer, a neighbor, a friend, a family member.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Travel Tuesday - Froggy

 I keep finding out that I live in a place people travel to see.  Of course there are all those pretty stone monuments and buildings downtown, but out here in the burbs, people travel from far and wide to see and hear the birds, turtles, and frogs. Really the frogs?  I had no idea, the parking lot was dotted with out of state license plates, apparently there is a network of frog spotters and listeners, who share where the cacophony and spotting is best this week, and off they go for the weekend.  

I have to think what would I travel to see, a meadow of sheep, a flock of majestic flightless waterfowl,  wolves, bears (two or four footed,) the sea crashing on the rocks, ships, airplanes, desert, dessert, Not frogs. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

My Music Monday: The Rolling Stones - Angie

The Rolling Stones played in Orlando sometime in the 1980's, while I was living there.  The band stayed in one of the hotels at Walt Disney World, and caused a bit of a stir.  Late at night, after the show, they chartered one of the sternwheel boats that normally run from the ticket and transportation center, aka the parking lot, across the lake to the entrance to the Magic Kingdom, to cruise around the lakes for a few hours.  There was food and drink and relaxation for the band, crew and a few invited guests.  The highlight of the night was Keith Richards with a bottle of champagne in one hand and the other on a railing, hanging off of the front of the boat signing into the wind around the lake.  I wasn't there, but I knew people who were.  

Sunday, March 27, 2022

The Sunday Five: Inquiring Minds

 1: Do you use reusable shopping bags? 

2: When was the last time you used paper-money? 

3: Are you answering this on a computer, tablet or phone? 

4: Is your community recycling glass? 

5: Do you still write checks? 

My answers:

1: Do you use reusable shopping bags? Yes, Virginia now has a 5 cent tax on disposable shopping bags and I HATE plastic shopping bags. 

2: When was the last time you used paper-money? At the farmers market The Pastry Dude was not accepting cards. 

3: Are you answering this on a computer, tablet or phone? desktop computer - I am old fashioned like that. 

4: Is your community recycling glass? No, the service at the condo stopped accepting glass, and actually charges us extra for glass that ends up in the recycling bins. 

5: Do you still write checks?  A few, I should stop doing that. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post: Spring Cleaning

For those of us on the top side of the earth, it is spring. Time for a little spring cleaning.  My parents grew up with wood or coal fired heat in the winter and spring cleaning was a major need, in my mother's family they rolled up the carpets for the summer.  I am not much of a housekeeper, and Brabinger the rumba does a good job on the floors, and Sweet Bear dusts more often I would. So it is not the house, but my mind that needs a spring clean. 

I moved into a supervisory position over the winter, and a new colleague started a week later.  I need to clear out the doubt about doing well. I have noticed that my concern about doing well, shows as a shadow over the joy.  

I need to dust away the past.  I was the one who said, just because it is the way we always did things, does not mean that is the way we should do them today.  And I find myself looking to the ways of the past. 

It has been a shut in winter of long days of working, days when I never step outside the door.  I need to get out more, feel the sunshine on my balding head.  Put the top down on the Pandavagon* and drive slowly in the fresh air, let the fresh air blow the winter out of my mind.  

I need to walk more.  Walking more is on my list of goals for the year. I need to do it, not because I am failing to do it, but because it is good for my mental and physical being.  

I need to dust off the luggage, pack up and get out of town.  We are going to New York in a couple of weeks, I am very much looking forward to seeing friends, and museums, and the city.  Unless the world falls apart we are going to Iceland in May for a week.  Even if the world falls apart, we should go as long as we can go.  It will do me good to get out of the country for a few days.  

I need to clean off my desks, both at home and in the office that I am only in a day or two now and then, the detritus of work is stacking up.  If only I could hand someone the keys and have my desks cleaned as efficiently as my car.  

* Getting a spring clean above is my little VW convertible, a hardtop convertible.  Shortly after I bought a five foot tall panda took up permanent residence in the back seat, hence it is known as the Pandavagon.  

Friday, March 25, 2022

Fabulous Friday - The Spring Bloom

 Locally known as redbuds, these are some of the earliest bloomers here in Northern Virginia.  This was taken earlier in March, before the last snow of the year.  Crocuses and daffodils are about the only thing earlier than these beauties.  We have a few magical weeks of spring bloom, lots of plant reproduction going on out there. 

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Thursday Ramble: Biography inspired by Spo

A week or so, Spo, the dear, posted that his employer asked about an updated bio for the office website. He offered answers that he would have enjoyed providing, not the official answers he felt obligated to provide for the dignity of the profession.  Inspired by that, here is what I sometimes wish my office bio included. 

Name: David, but I am really like and older dog, I will respond to anything if it is said in a kind tone of voice (old dogs are the sweetest.) 

How long in this profession? I am on my third profession, and I am still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up, I will probably be dead by the time I figure that out. 

How long [where you work]? 13 years, seems like I started just yesterday, at times it feels like 500 years. 

Where did you go to school?  This is complicated, elementary school in Michigan, except for the wild hare move to and from Phoenix one year, middle school in Michigan and Florida, I changed schools 8 times in four years of high school. College, I took ten years to finish a four year degree, with the first few classes at a community college that no longer exists, then a country club private liberal arts college where I took a couple of classes a semester, while working 50 to 70 hours a week, law school at the best place that would let me in, then I overcompensated worked super hard and finished well.  

What are your areas of specialized interest, experiences, and/or training? Photography, blogging, travel, flightless waterfowl, sheep, sweet bears (two and four footed,) the mysteries of our strangely wired brains, happiness.  

What led you to those interest areas? Living an adventure filled life with my sweet bear. 

What do you love about [where you work]/what keeps you here? Getting paid to think profound thoughts that few people pay attention to. 

What are you most proud of in your career? (ok - a real answer I would like to have listed) Getting a guardianship case dismissed against a self described "grumpy old son of a bitch" who was living life the way he wanted, even if his kids didn't like it. We need to do more good deeds in our lives.  

What are you doing when you’re not working? In the past few weeks, think, fuss and rant about work.  

Tell us something about you we probably don’t know. Oh, if I told you I'd half to kill you. (That is a DC inside joke based on the number of people who can't really tell you what they do for a living, I wouldn't kill anyone, but there are things I won't talk about.) I was born north of Canada.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - Flossy

This is my grandmother's youngest sister Florence, or as she was known Flossy.  The only one of the four siblings who was born in the United States, most likely New York.  She was married to an executive with US Rubber Company, better known as Uniroyal.  Richard, or Dick as he was known was a nice guy, kind of high strung and a hopeless alcoholic.  At one point the doctors recommended a change of scene hoping that he would stay dried out.  After consultation with his bosses at Uniroyal, they sent him on a two year assignment in Scotland, a change of scene, and a change from beer (and lots of it) to Scotch Whiskey, and endless thirst for the good stuff.  A couple of years after he returned from that assignment, the company arranged for him to start drawing a pension and changed the locks on his office door.  The doctors gave up on a detox plan, and he agreed to a drinking schedule, kind of a medication plan (this was in the late 1960's early 1970's) that he was able to stick with most of the time. Flossy was his drinking partner, she was able to detox and stay sober for the last decade of her life, but she had a lot of challenges. The two of them died around 1980, younger and far sicker than would be expected.   

My grandmother and I grew rather close in her later years, she confided in me.  She told me a deep family secret one day - one my father had never heard.  When Flossy was a teenager, she was off at school, came home at break with a baby, her baby.  Her father threw her out of the house with the words "don't ever bring that bastard into our home again."  Flossy returned a few days later, and there was never a mention of the baby.  That helped me understand some of the obvious emotional problems Flossy experienced.  

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Travel Tuesday: So What Do You Take Pictures Of

I stopped recently to have my car washed and the windows done inside and out.  I had a camera with me, and didn't want to leave it in the car so I carried it with me when I went inside to pay.  The runner who drove cars from the end of the wash tunnel to where they wipe them down and clean the windows asked "are you a photographer, what do you take pictures of."  Before I finished my answer he had to say "that is great, but I have to run."  

Landscapes, when I travel I try to take photos of changing landscape.  I have a student this spring who is not from this side of the earth, I was trying to explain to him how the terrain changes in just 100 miles from where he is going to college.  He has flown in and out, he does not drive.  His home country is less than 100 miles across.  

Cityscapes.  There is a genre called street photography, and I probably don't fit in that.  But cities are such unique spaces.  

Wildlife, birds, trees, flowers, insects.  And when I travel and they are different that are especially interesting.  Aspens in California last October, in full autumn yellows and golds.  I may never be there at the right time again to see those.  

Dogs, I find most dogs love having their picture taken.  

I could go on, but you probably need to run,  

Monday, March 21, 2022

My Music Monday: Barbra Streisand - Evergreen (Love Theme from "A Star Is Born")

Maybe it was the original movie with Barbra and Kris, there seemed to be chemistry, certainly some of her best work (if you haven't seen it, do so when you can) or maybe it is the voice and lyrics.  This song makes it onto my top ten list.  We are starting to advise people to make lists of the music they would want to listen to, or the movies they would want to watch if they become unable to say what they want.  This one belongs on my list.  Actually almost anything by Barbara. 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Sunday Five: Warning Signs

I don't know why, but I have started photographing signs, stickers, notices. I kind of enjoy it. It would be helpful sometimes if people came with warning stickers, hence this weeks Sunday five:

What would your warning sticker say about these:

1: Caution if you ask about ____ be prepared for a long answer. 

2: Caution, this person has an inappropriate sense of humor when it comes to ______. 

3: I won't understand references to _______. 

4: Please don't ask me for advice on ______.

5: A mention of ____ will invoke anger. 

My answers: 

1: Caution if you ask about _Cameras_ be prepared for a long answer. 

2: Caution, this person has an inappropriate sense of humor when it comes to _sex_____. 

3: I won't understand references to _novels___. 

4: Please don't ask me for advice on _the law_____.

5: A mention of _he-who-must-not-be-named___ will invoke anger.  

Please share your answers in the comments.  

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - In the light

Reading blogs one morning recently I was reminded of several things, a nice ramble. 

One night about 13 years ago, I forgot to set my alarm clock.  I had used a clock radio since my parents bought me one as a christmas gift when I was about 10 years old.  I awoke the next morning with a start, concerned that I was not alarmed to start the day. Then I realized that I was not late, just shocked by the change.  The next day, I didn't have anything early on my calendar, so I didn't set the alarm, and found that I woke up in plenty of time, and more relaxed, better rested.  Over the years I have heard motivational speakers talk about it being an "opportunity clock" trying to convince us that being unnaturally jolted awake is somehow a good way to start the day.  It isn't.  It is how we are conditioned to live.  And You can undo that.  Only rarely, maybe a couple of times a year do I set an alarm, usually because I have an unreasonably early airline flight.  13 years, I have been late to work maybe twice because I overslept.  And I wake up naturally, often with the rising sun.  Try it, maybe you will like it. 

Another blog (one of my favorites but it might be impolite to show favoritism) asked about acts of kindness.  I had a recent example, of overlooking anger and focussing on solving the core issue.  Sometimes we need to turn the other cheek and search for common ground.  This was not a random act of kindness, it was intentional to defuse a tense situation, and get the two of us back headed toward the light of day.  

Another blog posted about bird feeders. Living in a high rise, a bird feeder is against the rules as the detritus drops on the neighbors below.  But over the past two years I have become much more aware of birds.  When I walk, even in the tree outside my bedroom window.  I have overcome my unnatural fear of flighted fowl. No idea where that fear came from, probably watching "The Birds" late at night as a child. As I sit here watching the rising sun, the doves are in the tree, doing what birds do.  

One recent Mural Monday there was a post of a painting of a watch that has no hands and simply says "Now." It is a line from a Jimmy Buffett song, "I bought a watch from the crazy man, it has no hands, it just says now, and it is always right." The past is past, and can't be changed, I make plans for the future, but I see too many people make plans for a future that will never happen, when what we really need to do is live in the now. If the sun rises for you today, that is when you have to live. 

Another of my favorite daily reads posted a series this week about a wonderful house and garden, a couple of acres of garden, a large comfortable house.  It is the kind of house and garden that I couldn't take care of alone, if I lived there I would need a few of the mistresses houseboys and a couple of farmhands.  I don't usually buy lottery tickets, but it can be fun to think what would I do if I suddenly had all of the money in the world.  I usually sleep easily, if I don't it is usually because I need to divert my mind from the day to day decisions.  One way of doing that for me is to think about what would I do if I won the lottery.  Over the years I have come the conclusion, that I don't want the big house, the big boat, the farm. They are too much work, and employing the people to operate and maintain them would take much of the joy out of life.  I want to be able to watch the sun rise without worrying if Bob is going to show up for work to trim the trees today. Maybe this is a sign that I am largely content with what I have, and were I am in life.  And that is a good thing. 

We went out to Mt Vernon last week for a nice walk. The photo above was taken there.  Great light. 

Friday, March 18, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Happy Birthday to my Sister

March the 18th, two landmarks on this date, my sister's birthday, she is almost two years older than I am - welcome to Medicare.  And second as a family we twice arrived at the Grand Canyon on the the 18th of March, back in the early 1960's.  

I think this is a great early family photo.  It is a little underexposed, not one that was printed or framed.  My sister is squirming a little.  It wasn't favored, but it is the earliest photo of the entire family that I have found.  

Have a fabulous Friday. 

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Thursday Ramble: Adventures I have experienced

Commenting on blogs and reading you comments has reminded me of some of the adventures I have experienced.  I have been fortunate, I have traveled a lot, spent a lot of time with many very bright people, seen and done a couple of lifetimes of adventures, with a few good years left to go. Here are a few unique highlights. 

Attended a tea party hosted by the archbishop of Canterbury in the rose garden at Christ Church College, Oxford. 

A private after hours party in the Gateway Arch in St Louis.

A construction tour of EPCOT, and a pre-opening day at EPCOT. 

A private after hours party in the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom.

Flew on a Zeppelin. 

Seen two Popes in St Peters Square. 

Ridden in multiple steam trains. 

Had a conversation with the First Lady (when Biden was Vice President.) 

Driven on the Autobahn - at over 100 miles per hour legally 

Been passed while driving 100 miles per hour, legally  

And in the words of the bard, "Jimmy there is still so much to be done."


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - Two Years

Two years ago today, I went to the office, picked up a laptop and copied of a couple of folders and came home for what I thought would be a couple of weeks of work from home isolation.  Not in my wildest imagination did I think that we would still be primarily working at home, two years later.  That I would still be in my box.  

A lot has happened at the office, someone died, someone left, someone retired, two new people have joined us, I have been promoted, all without being there in person.  The way we were, the way we worked, may never be the same. 

But I do hope I get more time outside of the box. 

I have no idea what the story of the guy in the box above is.  I was walking near the King Street station in Alexandria one day and he is in a front yard, with a spotlight. I knew this image would come in handy someday.  

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Travel Tuesday - Ireland Two Years Ago

We returned from Ireland two years ago today.  Right at the start of work from home, lock down, and all of this fun. 
There were a ton of posts two years ago about Ireland.  With time to reflect, it was a great trip in a weird time.  Dublin is a neat city, it is a very modern city, very welcoming.  Trinity college, St Patricks, walking along the river.  We were only in Galway a short time, the drive north from there into the countryside was spectacular.  Neat hotels, great service, nice space (traveling off season prices were low, I booked a suite in one hotel and it was wonderful to have the extra space.) 

The time down south in Kilkenny and Waterford was amazing.  We stayed at a golf resort, operated by Marriott.  The room was nice, the bathroom had a heated floor, I was in love with that.  We drove along the coast for a couple of hours, with a gale blowing in and heavy surf.  It was amazing.  

By the end of it, places were closing, restrictions were starting.  But we still saw and did a lot.  For us it was a wonderful time of the year to travel, no snow or ice, but not hot, not crowded.  If we had been a couple of weeks later going, we would have not been.  Grab the opportunity when you can.  No regrets (well except for driving, I didn't have an accident, others didn't do so well.)  

Details will follow, most likely after the trip, I almost never talk about being gone, before I am gone, I just booked an adventure for later this spring. A return to someplace I have been once and my only regret was that we didn't stay long enough.  Five nights this time.  I needed a passport to book it. 

Monday, March 14, 2022

Music Monday - Rod Stewart ft. Ron Wood - Maggie May /

There is something about this song, when it first came out I made fun of it, I thought it lacked elegance and beauty, "find myself a rock and roll band, that needs a helping hand" - I would mock "like the one you are in." But overtime, over decades it has grown on me.  It is a song about love.  And Rod Stewart, what an amazing long lasting talent.  

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Sunday Five - A Connected Life

 While walking at the mall, being tracked by my phone, I stumbled across this refrigerator with an error code in it's internet connection.  I don't know as I want my refrigerator to know that much.  We looked at appliances for the kitchen the sales guy had to demonstrate a matched set that you entered the inventory of what was on hand and it would plan your menus and give you step by step directions.  I was horrified. 

1: Do you have a voice activated smart device in the house? 

2: What is your success level on voice activated devices? 

3: Do you let technology automatically reorder or refill for you? 

4: Have you ever done an online search, then been inundated with ads? 

5: Do you go into incognito mode before doing searches or visiting some webpages? 

My Answers:

1: Do you have a voice activated smart device in the house? There is a video Alexa box in the kitchen, and Amazon is forever suggesting cook books.  

2: What is your success level on voice activated devices? I have never made the voice option work on the GPS in the Benz.  NEVER or me, it only responds the master's voice.  

3: Do you let technology automatically reorder or refill for you? No, I don't need that much organization in my life. I ordered packing tape on Amazon and it asked if I wanted to put that on automatic refill mode, who uses that much packing tape?

4: Have you ever done an online search, then been inundated with ads?  Who hasn't? 

5: Do you do into incognito mode before doing searches or visiting some webpages? From time to time 

Please share your answers in the comments! 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - Getting Policial

Russia has passed a law, making it a crime to speak out, or report on anything in opposition to Putin waging WAR on Ukraine.  If you refer to it as anything other than a "special military operation" you can go to prison in Russia for 20 years.  It is a WAR, started by one side, Russia, it is beyond a human tragedy. I guess  I will never visit Russia, I just violated their "fake news law."  

The USA suffered for four plus years under he who must not be named, screaming that anything he didn't like was fake news. If he had the power, and if not for the Constitution, I am sure he would have passed a law making speaking ill of him and his actions a crime.  His rants against a free press, should be seen as an act of war on the freedoms that we hold dear.  I don't always agree with the press, but criminalizing the truth, and cutting off outside information in the name of power and control is wrong. 

Larry in PEI, posted a couple of weeks ago about the politics in Canada, and how freedom is conditional. His thoughts were much more eloquent than mine, it is worth finding and reading. 

The classic American example of a limit on freedom of speech is "you can't shout fire in a crowded theater."  Doing so endangers the health and safety of others as the rush for the exits will likely result in injury, not to mention the stress caused by the prank.  I laughed at the "Jackass" movies, but the stunts they pulled, often crossed the line from funny to a danger to others.  Looking back, encouraging them was a bad idea.  

Really the limit on personal freedom is when it presents a danger to others.  Getting vaccinated, and wearing a face covering is really as much about protecting others, as it is about protecting myself.  I have a professional license in Florida, I have had for 40+ years.  A few days ago I received an email from the department of business and professional regulation that I am now prohibited in Florida from requiring face masks in a business in Florida.  The CDC article they linked to was from 2020, and looked at research on the protection for the person wearing the mask, not the protection of others. DeSantis thinks we are stupid enough to read one-side, and not realize there is another side. Oh, and then there is Florida's don't say gay in the schools law - that should bring some interesting litigation. 

As a civilized society we accept a lot of limitations on our freedoms.  I can't drive off in my neighbors car, or hold a party in their living room, because doing so violates their personal property rights.  Thou shall not steal, is part of the implicit agreement of people living together in a society, if I respect your rights, and you respect mine, then I don't need to be prepared to shoot to defend myself and my property. In the era of "Values Education" we have focussed too much an abstinence and not enough on limit what you do so you don't hurt others. 

Sorry for the rare political rant.  There are others that do a better and more consistent job of this than I.  Sometimes, things just need to be said.   


Friday, March 11, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Shoes #5

 The routine things in life need not be boring.  Add some color, texture, scent.  I was disappointed recently when I was in the mall, at how much plain white boring mens' underwear was in stock. I assume it is stock because it is what people are buying.  Why?  How repressed, how boring.  

Why should shoes be only brown or black?  Come on guys, shoes can have color and style.  

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Thursday Ramble - What am I up to?

I am working too much.  9 and 10 hour days, meaning even if I take a day off I end up working a 40 hour week, in four days.  I am worrying more that I did before, I have a staff of five including myself to keep employed.  

I am maxed out on vacation and paid personal days, I need to take about three days a month off, or lose time. We are meeting a friend in Baltimore this month and I added a day to that weekend to make it a long weekend. We are going to New York for a few days in early April.  

I scheduled a week off in May. Plans for that week?  We thought about obligation trips to see family and friends, and decided what we really want, what I really need is a few days with no obligations.  We are thinking about exploring places in the northeast we have never been.  I know I could lose my membership card for this, I have never been to Provincetown. I have a couple of Mayflower ancestors (along with an estimated 35-million other Americans) and I have never been to Plymouth, Massachusetts.  It will be early spring in that part of the country, after spring break, and before summer break.  Our kind of shoulder season travel.  

My office has announced once again (this is the third or fourth time) an official return to office date, in late April.  I am okay with that, I  do hope that the subway system starts to fix and return to service the 60% of the fleet that was having problems with wheels falling off.  

I participated in an exercise recently looking the future of work and offices.  The assumption is that we have proven that most jobs can be done, and done well, without going into our office.  There is some value in in-person meetings and collaboration, but requiring people to be there, just because it is something we have always done, is unproductive. That cheese has been moved and it isn't going back.  And office space is rather expensive in Washington DC.  The assumption is I would go in 2 or 3 days a week.  Either there would be an assigned desk that I used on my days in, and someone else used when I was not there, or no one has a permanently assigned space unless the job required them to be in the office full time, and when I checked in each day, I would be given the keys to an open space, kind of like checking into a hotel room.  It eliminates the accumulation of personal stuff in a workspace.  Nearly all of our files are already paperless, I can make the rest paperless. Anyplace I can access the file server, is my office.  The rest is personal junk.  Having not been in a "coffee shop" work culture, it would / will be a change in mindset for me.  Whatever I need to do my job, needs to be portable.  

When I took the job in DC, I left nearly all of my books behind in the other house.  I realized a couple of years later, that if I hadn't needed them in two years, I probably didn't need to keep most of them.  And I parted with them.  This shift in office will require that kind of shedding of personal stuff.  But then we have done the job for two years without all of it, why do we need any of it.  (I have one colleague who has not been in the office since March of 2020, another has been in twice.) When would we make a change? When we can get out of the lease on the space, that could be a few years, but now is the time to think about it. 

Things I would not want to own, shopping malls, and large office buildings.  They are going to be the same.  

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - the Blue Dodge

There weren't a lot of them, because they were utilitarian, used until they were no longer useable, but there were always pick-up trucks around when I was growing up. There was an early 1950's Ford, traded in 1965 on a red Ford, the early one I have no real memory of.  A yellow Chevy, bought used from a utility company. And the Blue Dodge.  It was the last one.  My father bought around the time my grandfather retired, my grandfather kept the red Ford, it was around for me to learn to drive in.  

The Blue Dodge was fun.  It had a massive V-8, it might have been a 440. My father bought it used, no one wanted it because it had a massive engine and got lousy gas mileage. He only drove it a few thousand miles a year and didn't care about the miles per gallon.  It was a handful on the gravel and unpaved roads, if you put your foot down you needed to be prepared to correct for the slide.  About a mile and a half north of the farm, I would turn right onto a paved road, put my foot to the floor and and rocket from a standstill to 60 miles per hour before the rear wheels quit spinning.  For decades I kept that my guilty little secret.  Late in my father's life someone mentioned the blue Dodge and I said how fun it was to drive. In his best deadpan, my father looked at me and said "I know, I could hear you on a clear afternoon, from a mile and half away - it was fun wasn't it?" 

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Travel Tuesday - City Icons

The Washington Monument, the Empire State Building, the Capital Records Building, you see the structure, and you know the city.  Seattle has two, the Space Needle, but increasingly people see this sign, and they think of Seattle.  And it is a really nice market.  Yes it is packed with tourists, but it is also full of real vendors provisioning the kitchens of the city, and boxes of fresh fruit for the tourists (if the cherries are in season, buy them!) I have been there a few times.  It is one of those places I would like to rent an apartment within walking distance of, and spend a month cooking my way through the market.  

Monday, March 07, 2022

Music Monday - Barbra Streisand - Rainbow Connection

I have eclectic taste in music, I like a little of almost everything.  I try not to take any of it too seriously, if it soothes or excites me, I probably like it.  Like strong instrumentals, strong vocals that don't sound like tortured cats, solos, and orchestras.  These are difficult times for musicians, venues have been closed or restricted.  Streaming makes music cheap and accessible, but pays very little to the people who create it.  If you enjoy the street musician, drop in their case what you can afford, this guy was really good.  Babara has missing recording the past couple of years, so she dug through the previously unreleased recordings including this duet that was done for a television show, that finally made it onto the album released a few month ago.  I bought it on CD.  

Sunday, March 06, 2022

The Sunday Five - Adult Toys

If you want a laugh, this post was flagged for a violation of standards, for _$_ exu@l content.  Obviously the computer didn't read the post, only the title. 

I have some great camera equipment, nice lenses, specialty items (I have an underwater digital camera.) Most of it is bought after agonizing over spending the money, and reminding myself that the thing that sets adults apart from children, is the price of the toys (not as poetic, but less sexist than "the men and boys".) 

Once in a while I will see something and it will fall into my tolerance for an impulse buy, that is how I ended up the underwater camera, and how I ended up with the lens this image was taken with.  A Vivitar Series One, 500mm, about $100 at your favorite online retailers. 40 years ago, Vivitar was a respected name, like many the name was sold in bankruptcy and lives on, but without the legacy.  I wanted a longer lens, and Nikon does not make one for my camera, so on an impulse one day I clicked on this and bought it.  It is fully manual, so it is a little bit more work, but I have to say, this image is proof that a cheap lens can take a good image.   

1: What is your tolerance for an impulse buy? 

2: Do you have a toy allowance or budget? 

3: Does more money always equal better? 

4: Do you consider yourself wise with money, or stingy? 

5: What toy didn't you get as a child, that you would still like to get? 

My answers:

1: What is your tolerance for an impulse buy? About $100. 

2: Do you have a toy allowance or budget? I try to set a limit each year on spending on new toys. 

3: Does more money always equal better? The bird speaks for itself, the equivalent lens for the series up from my camera from Nikon, is about $4,000, and is manual only on my camera- the same as the cheap lens. 

4: Do you consider yourself wise with money, or stingy? I often say stingy. 

5: What toy didn't you get as a child, that you would still like to get? Another recent impulse buy, Legos. 

Please share your answers in the comments! 

Saturday, March 05, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - Who Moved My Cheese

One of my favorite "business books" is a little volume titled "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Spencer Johnson.  It is a book about change.  And those who refuse to accept change, who insist what the world can't change, wither and die a bitter death.  I keep a stack of the book in my office, and share it with anyone who wants to read it. I reread the book every few years.  Infamously, Jay and I were trapped in Lexington in an ice storm about 15 years ago, the power was off, we were huddled around the gas fireplace in the living room and I read the book aloud one evening.  

My office is undergoing change.  A new director, who has some new ideas and who is trying to free others to think new ideas.  We are largely reliant on project funding, and I use the message in the book, that if you keep going to the same sources of work that you have always gone to, and that source changes, and you don't keep looking for new sources, you will die.  Our cheese gets moved or runs out, we need to constantly be on the search for new cheese.  

Being inside the DC bubble, we hear the appeals for things to stay the same from the oil industry.  That moving away from oil to new sources of energy will destroy the world.  Guess what, it is too late, that ship has sailed, people are plugging their Audis and Fords into recharge rather than pulling up the pump.  They are still using the cheese, but it is new cheese, from new sources.  Build windmills, harness the currents and tides, capture energy from new sources. Don't fear the change.  

I was in a workshop recently and the trainer pointed out that all change results in loss for someone, we need to guide that person through the loss and grief or they will fight the change.  

The pharmaceutical industry is fighting back against change, saying it will kill innovation.  The dirty little secret they don't want you to know, is nearly all of research and innovation is federally funded, what change will change is the obscene profits in the first decade a new drug is being flogged in the US market.  Drug prices are unregulated in the USA, we are one of the few places in the world that allows this. Massive profits are made, on drugs developed and tested largely on the public dime, then once the drug passes into generic formulary, prices plummet to the point some pharmacies give the drug away to draw you in the door.  The insurance and health care industry, have a louder voice than consumers, we need to turn that on its head.  We need to move the cheese. The rest of the world has.   

Oh, and if you are looking for cheese in my refrigerator, look in the big bin on the door.  If it is not there, look in the pull out drawer, or next to it on the shelf, or on the top shelf behind the jar of pickles, there has to be new cheese in their someplace. 

I Went Shopping At My Local Russian Market On Friday

There are a couple of local markets, small specialty shops that feature eastern and central European foods, and a few restaurants in the area. The businesses are run by economic or political refugees who are most likely as appalled and horrified by what is happening in Ukraine as you and I. They left behind the people, the country and the language of their birth. That is not easy to do, things must be pretty terrible to leave behind everything you have ever known.  

The local market is run by a sweet lady of a certain age (my guess is that she is 70.) She uses the skills and talents she has in food, and culture to run a small business, a shop that is 400 or 500 sq. ft. that supports her family.   The products she sells are sourced from around the world, but to fill the tastes of a large expat community, and anyone who has an interest in amazing fish, pickles, preserves, sweets, bakery, and deli items.  Some of the candies are out of this world.  

I thought about shopping there. Yes, part of the money I spent went to businesses in Russia.  What I bought today was shipped and paid for months ago.  The suppliers in Russia will suffer when she can’t restock, to the extent she can she will find alternate suppliers, hopefully the suppliers in Russia will put pressure on the government. 

I do hope that people don’t take out on these local businesses their anger at the country the owners left.  The thank you has never been warmer or more sincere for shopping there.  

Friday, March 04, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Shoes #4

These are part of an art installation in the Smithsonian Futures exhibition.  I would buy the gold one's from the top image, and the blue one's from the bottom image.  Aren't they fabulous? 

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Thursday Rambles : Changes

 The Community Center here at the Condo (for those readers not familiar, a condominium, or condo, is an apartment that a person owns, the buildings and amenities are managed by an association that the unit owners pay a fee to - in some cases a LARGE fee) is undergoing a massive renovation.  The budget was $7,000,000 and I suspect we have gone over budget.  The community center sits in a natural ravine, meaning as a result the outdoor swimming pool is at street level, the rooftop tennis courts slightly above street level and the main floor of the building is slightly below street level, hence the new ramps and steps down to the west entrance.  

The interior was gutted in the remodel.  The indoor pool remained, but the ceiling over it and surrounding glass walls removed, replaced.  The bowling alley was gutted and replaced with all new equipment.  Most of the rest of the interior was reconfigured.  The convenience store was reduced in size, the restaurant and bar expanded.  Offices were moved, new meeting rooms created, the billiards and games room relocated.  A new elevator and staircase was installed to a lower level that has always been there, but was largely wasted space as the only access was a narrow spiral stairway.  The locker rooms and fitness center were new 3 or 4 years ago, and remained unchanged. 

It was needed, it was about 35 years old, poorly designed and had all of the charm of a hospital inside.  The original designer left a lot to be desired.  When we first came here during the house hunt, the lobbies in the residential towers looked the interiors of a funeral home from the 1970's.  Those were redone a couple of years after I moved in.  

It should be nice.  The current plan calls for opening around the first of May, about 4 months behind schedule.  I look forward to it.  

All in all, I like living in the condo.  The monthly fee is large (over $700.) But the buildings are well maintained, the common areas are clean, the landscaping is well taken care of, the snow removed without me lifting a finger.  Water including hot water is included, as is drainage and trash removal (just drop it down the chute across the call.) We have 24 hour security, with a secured front gate, and controlled access to the buildings.  Call ahead or you won't make it past the front gate.  The community center has nice amenities, I look forward to the gym reopening, I enjoy floating around in the outdoor pool in the summer.  We enjoy the restaurant, especially their delivery services - also known as room service.  During COVID and the renovation the association has waived the rent for the restaurant to keep the service here, I think we should keep doing that, the lower cost is reflected in good prices for the area.

Someday, I should try the bowling alley.  The last I knew were were the only condo in the DC area, with a private bowling alley.  There is one with an indoor ice skating rink, built by the same developer.    

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - Mt. Vernon

My first adventure in Washington DC was in the fall of 1977 or 1978.  My grandmother had never been to DC, and after my grandfather died I would drive her back and forth between the farm in Michigan and her winter home in Florida. They had bought a tiny house in a small town in Florida in about 1960 to get away from the winters in Michigan.  She wanted to see places she had never been, and we went as far east as Washington DC, and as far west as St. Louis.  It was great fun.  She was a delightful traveling companion.  

We went to Mt Vernon while we were in the DC area.  Little did I know that I would someday live about half way between DC and Mt Vernon, on a hilltop surveys by the General, he had dinner with the Fairfax family a week before he died, just west of where my car is parked on this hilltop.  

The house at Mt Vernon was about the same in the 1970's as it is today, the nearby outbuildings are the same, with the exception of a reconstruction of the blacksmith's workshop a few years ago.  The entrance to Mt Vernon was simpler then, there is a newish visitors center and museum that was but a dream in the 70's.  Archeology has changed the layout of the gardens, the nature of the plantings, and there is a much larger recognition of slavery at Mt Vernon, a shame filled shadow over the founding history of the United States.  

I am glad I was here then, it brings me joy that I was able to help my grandmother see things she wanted to see, to tick a few items off the bucket list.  I am glad I am here, now, and able to see the same places.  


Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Travel Tuesday - What have I learned about travel from staying close to home

Over the last two years I have learned, or rediscovered a few things. Let me share:

There are things to do and places to see in our own backyard, that it is easy to overlook in the hustle to travel and see the world.  Being near home I have discovered and rediscovered the wonders near me. 

To really see a place, you need to spend time seeing it.  I made a point of walking the same walk, five or more times a week, for a year.  I got to know it rather well, and was still surprised after months of walking the same steps, that there were things I had not seen, some had been there, some were changes.  When we travel and spend a few days in a place, more often just a day or two, all we really see is a very limited glimpse of the place.  This renews my desire to go stay in one place for a month or two.  Rent an apartment, live among the locals, walk the same sidewalks for a month or more.  22 more moths and I can start doing that.  

I have enjoyed armchair travel.  Reading, blogs and YouTube.  I have traveled the canals of England, had glimpses into life around the world.  There are a couple of great bloggers English bloggers in Japan, the more I see the more I want to visit there.  One of them is constantly being asked to host guided tours for English speaking visitors.  Recently he posted a short video, I suspect after a little too much to drink, about why a tour with Chris would be the worst tour in the history of guided tours. He is funny, creative, and has helped me explore and understand a place I have never been.  A couple of the cruise ships that work the Pacific Coast in the summer season, spend the winters in Asia, I want to take a repositioning cruise from Seattle to Tokyo.  

I have enjoyed a couple of flying channels on YouTube. Going flying with Citation Max reminds me so of flying with my father as a kid.  Now granted Max's daddy bought a much nicer airplane, but flying it is still work - and Max is very professional. I still need to take a private jet flight.  Have I told you I passed on the opportunity once.  I was at the local airport near my parents in Florida and a Learjet pulled up, refueled and loaded a couple of boxes in the back.  I got to talking with pilot, the plane belonged to a boat manufacturer.  They were flying a box of critical parts to Arizona and coming back the same night. He offered me a seat, and I chickened out and didn't say yes.  Assuming that was a box of boat parts and not something else that would have been flying in and out of Florida at the time, it would have been a fun ride.  Might have been a fun ride anyway, as long as it didn't end with gunfire or blue flashing lights. (Florida was a major drug running center at the time.) 

If I hadn't been home, would I have found time, taken time for all of these, probably not.