Saturday, April 30, 2022

Saturday Morning Post: In lieu of flowers


I read this in an obituary recently: 

In lieu of flowers or cards, 

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

Dear Travel Penguin Blog Readers,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Friday, April 29, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Public Art

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

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Thursday Ramble - End of April Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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



Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Way We Wednesday - Self-Timer Selfies

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


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Travel Tuesdays - Live Demonstrations

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

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

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

Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Sunday Five: Around You

1: Where are you reading / responding to this? 

2: How far are you from a phone? 

3: Is it daylight or dark? 

4: What can you hear? 

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

My Answers,

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

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

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

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

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

Please share your answers in the comments 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 22, 2022

Fabulous - if slightly late- Friday - New York

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

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

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Thursday Ramble - Late April edition

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - Rollo

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

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

Any unusual names in your family history? 

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Travel Tuesday - The Stories

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

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

Sunday, April 17, 2022

The Sunday Five: How Will We Remember - Or Do We Want to Forget

I saw an interview with a New York based Psychologist who estimates that 90% of us will experience post-covid trauma for up to 9 years.  

1: Do you feel a need to remember or a desire to forget? 

2: What artifact of this era will be you memory trigger? 

3: What will be the longest lasting change from the experience? 

4: What can we do to help future generations learn from our experience? 

5: What are you most looking forward to returning to as it was before? 

My Answers: 

1: Do you feel a need to remember or a desire to forget? At my age, this is a part of my life experience that I will never forget. 

2: What artifact of this era will be you memory trigger? Face coverings. 

3: What will be the longest lasting change from the experience? Working from home, I think this flexibility will be retained (I hope so.)  

4: What can we do to help future generations learn from our experience? I am starting to take photos, of what it was like.  Photos that tell a story. 

5: What are you most looking forward to returning to as it was before? Maskless air travel.   

Please share your answers in the comments. 


Saturday, April 16, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - Going to the Edge

Over the last few trips to New York we watched the skyscrapers at Hudson Yard be built.  Hudson Yard was a rail yard, one of the last underdeveloped large areas in Manhattan.  We noticed the cantilevered protrusion, near the top of one of the towers, it is called the edge.  It is on the 100th floor, 1,100 feet above ground level, and open to the public.  (Also available for private parties.) I kind of like this kind of high up observation level, so we booked tickets for the elevator ride.  We tried to get lunch reservations on the 101st floor, they were closed for a private function.  Lunch comes with a free elevator ride, well at those prices not exactly free (about $100 per person for lunch.) The morning of our reservations it was cloudy.  Low clouds, as in about 700 ceiling and we were going up 1,100 feet.  And why not?  We could have tried to rebook, but the weather forecast was not promising (it cleared out the following day.) Most people skipped it, the elevator up we had to ourselves, there was only one person with us on the trip back down.  There is a glass section in the floor, but it was wet and slippery and view was into the clouds.  

How many times do you get to go for a walk in the clouds?  


Friday, April 15, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Food Alchemy

Real men make quiche. Recently I was bored, looked in the fridge, I had a couple of dozen eggs, cream, a lightly smoked very lean bacon, forbidden cheddar, mushrooms, we always have butter in the freezer, the perfect cold day to make quiche. 

The pastry was a variation on Mary Berry's grated frozen butter, flour, salt, a little cold water and an egg.  Americans don't usually put an egg in pastry, it works.  Pastry is really alchemy.  You mix together simple ingredients and make something devine.  

The filling was 7 eggs, a chunk of grated forbidden cheddar, onions, mushrooms and bacon lightly fried, a dash of heavy cream.  

I blind baked the pastry for about 20 minutes at about 400 degrees F, then added the filling and baked at about 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, turned the oven down to 300 F for another 25 minutes. 

It was good, very good.  


Thursday, April 14, 2022

Thursday Ramble - Last Wednesday

Last Wednesday, not yesterday, a week ago yesterday, we met up with Mitchell from Moving with Mitchell for a quick chat and lunch. We met up in his original home town, Brooklyn, New York.  Those who read his blog will know he was in town to see his brother Charles (Chuck.)  We were honored to have a little slice of his time, while Chuck was out bowling. 

We took the subway over from Manhattan, we used the trains quite a bit on this trip, a great way to get around.  The subway goes through a tunnel under the east river.  Possibly one my great grandfather worked on 110 years ago, when my grandmother was a child and they moved to Brooklyn (from London.) I have been to London, I had never been to Brooklyn. 

The weather was a tad inclement.  Temperature in the 40's (F) and raining. When we turned the corner by Brooklyn Borough Hall, WINDY, very windy. The plan to stroll down the waterfront was scuttled, then we discovered that the best taqueria in Brooklyn has closed.  Sadness, but not for long, because if you know where to look there is always great food nearby in that city.  We ended up at a great burger bar. Epic burgers, amazing onion rings and a decent margarita (I was on vacation - and not driving.) When we arrived,  the staff said, we aren't open yet, then noticed were were cold and wet and invited us to wait inside while they finished preparations.  

We talked.  We talked about life, about growing up, about family, about the loves of our lives, about moving, about happiness.  And we talked, and we talked, and the next thing we knew it was 4:00 pm. Siesta time.  

It was great.  We had met once before, three years ago.  And it was like picking up where we left off last week, except it was three years ago.  

Until next time, we will see you on the blog,    

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - Istachatta Florida

 Sometime in the early 1960's my grandparents started snowbirding, going south from Michigan (as Spo describes it the land of perpetual snow and ice) to Florida in the winters.  My grandfather worked for Ford for over 30 years, then left in the late 1950's to move to the farm and keep bees. Bees in Michigan are a seasonal farming operation.  There was no reason for them to stay in the snow in the winter (my parents started doing the same thing when I was in the 8th grade.). 

They bought a newly built one-bedroom house in a fishing village called Istachatta on the Withlacoochee River (Google it, it is a real place.) When I say a one-bedroom, the first year they were there they added on, adding a bathroom and eliminating the out-house that had been build with the house. (Before zoning and building codes.) It was an escape, a second home. They spent winters there together for about 15 years. It was there one winter that my grandmother came to the realization that my grandfather had dementia. After my grandfather died, my grandmother spent one or two winters there alone, then sold and moved across the state to where my parents had bought their retirement home. When she bought the house in Titusville, she remarked that it was the fourth house she had owned, and the first one that had an indoor bathroom when she bought it (two of them.) 

That little house was my first experience in Florida.   

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Travel Tuesday: News from Mt Washington

A few years ago I was asked to speak at a conference at Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.  I went in a day early, so I had time to ride the cog-railway to the top of the mountain, went out of my way to book a coal fired steam train.  It was spectacular.  When we got to the top the mountain was in a heavy fog.  I loved it. 

I read recently that there is a proposal to build guest accommodations, a hotel of some type in the national park at the top.  I might need to go back.  

Monday, April 11, 2022

Sunday, April 10, 2022

The Sunday Five: Parking

Parking in the Washington DC area can be a challenge, there are more cars than parking spaces, so when you find one, dive for it.  Parking garages can be expensive, and can be tight.  My advice, DO NOT DRIVE IN Washington DC. I took this photo, because I had done such a perfect job of parallel parking, first try. 

1: Are you good at parallel parking? 

2: In a parking lot, do you pull in forward, or back in? 

3: Does you car have a back-up camera? 

4: Does your nearest grocery store, have an underground parking garage? 

5: What was the parking part of your driving test like? 

My Answers:

1: Are you good at parallel parking? Most of the time no, then I get it right from time to time. 

2: In a parking lot, do you pull in forward, or back in? Pull in forward. 

3: Does you car have a back-up camera? The VW no, Sweet Bear's car, yes. 

4: Does you nearest grocery store, have an underground parking garage? Yes. 

5: What was the parking part of your driving test like? The examiner pointed to a 100 car parking lot that was virtually empty and said, "get it in there and get it stopped without hitting anything and you passed."

Please share your answers in the comments.  

Saturday, April 09, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - Home

My father would have told you that "home is where I hang my hat, and I don't wear a hat anymore". 

Where am I from is a complicated answer.  I was born in Michigan, north of Detroit out in middle of nowhere.  I lived in Phoenix for a short time as a child.  Then back to Michigan.  I went to half of high school in Michigan, and half of it in Florida, changing schools 10 times in the last five years of my public school education.  I lived in central Florida for almost two decades after high school.  Moved to Lexington Kentucky, went to graduate school in Louisville, living in Kentucky 13 years. I have been in the Washington DC area nearly 14 years. See, that is complicated, and I left some of the details out.  For most people it is a simple question.  I have met people who lived and died within 100 mile radius.  My life has stretched across thousands of miles.   

I like to think that all of those moves when I was in school, prepared me for making home, wherever I am. It takes a little time to develop connections and a routine.  To learn the local values and customs.  To get over saying, "back home we do it differently." Nothing will make the locals hate you faster than telling them that things are better where you came from.  When I was in high school in Florida the mother of a friend of mine simply said, there are northbound lanes on I-95, if it is better there, GO!  She also said there are two kinds of Yankees, Yankees come here and spend money and we kind of like them, and damned Yankees, move here and try to tell us how to live and we hate them.  

Am I done moving? Most likely.  There are only a few places I think I would like to live, and despite being fully invested in an expensive housing market, a couple of them are out of our price range (San Francisco.) We have feathered the nest here.  We are comfortable.  We are Home.   

Friday, April 08, 2022

Fabulous Foodie Friday - New York

Back in March of 2019 we came to New York, I had a meeting to attend.  The weather was ugly, not quite snow, not really rain, just cold and wet, then it snowed.  I succeeded at finding the worst restaurants in town, the first couple of nights, then we turned the corner and found Juniors, New York cheesecake and deli classics. 

Last summer when we came, I found one hit after another, starting with a Kosher French restaurant, and lunch on the 110th floor.  This trip it has been one hit after another.  Back to Juniors for about the third time. then tried Ben's Kosher, and Thursday the Queensyard Grill at Hudson Yard.  These were the starters, a wedge salad and chicken-liver mouse  mousse.  

It ain't cheap, but there is a lot of great food in this town.  

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Thursday Random Ramble - First Week in April

Sometimes I write about what I have done, sometimes I write about what I am going to do, often about what ever flits into my head when I sit down to write.  

If all goes to plan, we are in the city with the tall skyline this week.  Yesterday we should have been in Brooklyn, my grandmother lived there as a child about 110 years ago, and I have never been there.  I will write about lunch with Mitchel next week.  Thursday we have tickets to visit the Edge, an open observation deck near the top of a very-very tall new building.  I am sure there will be photos and a story or two there.  We will do a lot of walking, a little shopping, probably a museum or two.  I had about three work connections who wanted to meet to talk shop, and I declined all of them.  I didn't want to morph a short vacation, into an extended work session.  I really need to plan a working trip to NYC.  

We may have made some progress on the plans for the kitchen replacement.  We spent 2 1/2 hours picking out finishes and fussing over details, in a small space details matter.  Assuming the ball does not get dropped again, it will take 3-5 months to get things ready to go.  Assuming that we hear back, this is major progress on something we have wanted to do since the first day I walked into the kitchen.  

I don't watch the Oscars, and it took me a couple of days to get around to figuring out that one spoiled rich guy, insulted another spoiled rich guys' wife, and was bitch slapped on world wide television for it.  Violence is not the answer, but why can't we make jokes without picking on someone for something they have no control over? I wish his wife well, I imagine the last thing she wanted was to be the middle of a controversy debated on the world stage.   

Work continues to be intense.  But somehow feels less overwhelming.  Annual budgeting season is starting, I think we are in good shape, but I am struggling to get numbers on parts of our portfolio.  I have come to the conclusion that no one has been monitoring cash flow on a part of our budget.  Maybe the best thing to do, is start with a blank sheet and create a plan.  Budgets were never my headache before.  I am presenting four trainings in two weeks in late April, most of the prep for those was due last week.  I was asked to write a short article due in three weeks.  I hesitated, but it was an issue I have written a hundred times in my head and never put on paper.  I finished the first draft while watching TV that evening.  I did an edit, all I need to do is add the footnotes and it is ready to send to the editors.  (If you know the topic, write the article first, then do the research and add the footnotes.) I rode the DC Metro (subway) for the first time since last October.  The system is limping by with about 60% of the rolling stock out of service because the wheels were falling off. The wait time for my connection can be 20 minutes, a pain.  As the city picks up with people returning to offices, I should ride more often.  

Okay, this is the third attempt at this paragraph.  I came to a realization recently of why I don't read most novels.  I won't ramble on, but finally realizing why I don't enjoy them, made it easier for me to be comfortable that I am not missing out on anything that would add value to my life.  If it does not bring you joy, or add value to your day, why waste the time. 


Wednesday, April 06, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday - Honeybees

 My father would have taken this, my grandfather working the bees, barehanded.  A pair of leather gloves would last him two or three seasons, my father would go through two or three pairs a season.  

My grandfather grew up dirt poor, too many kids, too little of everything. He discovered bees nesting in a dead tree, someone showed him how to harvest the honey, a year or two later someone showed him how to move the bees into a modern beehive, and his lifelong passion for the gentle craft of beekeeping started.  He was gentle, slow and caring with the bees.  Yes, he would get stung, and he would tell you that was almost always because he was careless or moved to quickly.  And yes it hurts to get stung.  After a few stings for most people the reaction changes, you don't swell the same way, but believe me it still hurts. (My grandmother was allergic to bee stings, and had a couple of life threatening experiences.) 

At one time, my father and grandfather had about 2,100 colonies of bees.  We shipped honey by the tractor trailer load in 55 gallon barrels, for pennies a pound.  

Tuesday, April 05, 2022


Nice view 

Travel Tuesday : Athens

 We flew to and from Athens on different itineraires.  I was flying on frequent flyer miles, Sweet Bear on a purchased ticket.  We only had one flight that were on the same flight, Athens to New York.  Going over I had much better connections, and arrived in Athens several hours ahead of Sweet Bear.  Coming back, I should have had better connections, but when my connecting flight in New York went to push back from the gate, the pilot forgot to release the brakes and things broke.  I missed another connection, ended up in a Taxi for the last 90 miles of the trip at the airlines expense. 

Greece was warm, inviting, fun, and fascinating.  I would go back any time.  

Monday, April 04, 2022

YouTube Monday : Ralfy How to drink and enjoy whisky

A favorite of Dr Spo, Ralfy does a weekly product review on YouTube.  He has written two books, the first a fun if somewhat rambling biography, yes he was an undertaker for decades, and the second a novel, a mystery set in a whisky distillery. This one is a little long for my Monday posts, but kinda fun. 

Sunday, April 03, 2022

The Sunday Five: Boats

Uncle Dick had a house on a lake, because he had a boat, he had a boat because his mother's neighbor won it on a television game show, she didn't know what to do with it, so he bought it.  Hence boats were a part of my childhood.  That and this photo of the marina guy, inspire this week's Sunday five.

1: Have you ever owned a boat? 

2: Do you feel comfortable on boats? 

3: Do you prefer sail, row, or powerboat?

4: Do you feel comfortable swimming? 

5: Would you let him untie your boat? 

My answers: 

1: Have you ever owned a boat? No, thought about it. 

2: Do you feel comfortable on boats? Yes, as long as the boat seems sound. 

3: Do you prefer sail, row, or powerboat? Powerboat. 

4: Do you feel comfortable swimming? Reasonably, yes. 

5: Would you let him untie your boat? Tie it up, untie it, whatever needs doing.  

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, April 02, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - Pandavagon

My father hated convertibles.  His dislike was always very rational, convertibles are noisy, they leak, they have less backseat and or trunk space, they cost more, they have more moving parts so more maintenance issues. He could go on, those are the highlights. 

I remember the first time I drove one, an MGB. How do I describe who owned it.  A couple I had sold a house to.  The wife took me out to lunch, had me drive her car, she was trying to seduce me.  If Shirley is still alive she is 85 - ah yes the older woman - and I was young and fit.  Their marriage didn't last long, he couldn't keep up with her.  

Back to the MGB, we put the top down and drove down the beach in Daytona, I was in love (with the car at least.) 

Over the years I talked about owning a convertible.  Common sense, or the need for something practical always seemed to get in the way - with my father's laundry list of why it was a bad idea ringing in my head. 

Three years ago in January, I took my practical Mazda 3 hatchback into the dealer for service and the annual inspections.  While waiting, I wandered around the lot and they had a BMW convertible on the used car line.  It was older and had way too many miles on it, but I saw the price and thought, I have that much extra in my checking account.  I could do this.  

I started looking, mostly online.  I visited a couple of dealers, drove a couple of cars. Then I saw this online, it was a few years old (it is a 2008) and had just about 44,000 miles.  I exchanged emails, set a time to see it, drive it, and fell in love with it.  I made them an offer, the salesman said, "oh they would never do that" I said "well ask," he did, I watched the sales manager smile, and approve it. 

I kept the sensible Mazda hatchback.  It was newer, I had owned it since new.  It was extremely practical.  I figured I would drive the convertible for a couple of summers, then sell it.  I even plotted where it would sell for the most money and thought about driving it across country selling it and taking the train back.  A very practical plan. 

Mr. Panda was sitting in a chair just outside my bedroom door, he had been there for a couple of years.  We put him in the back seat and took him for a ride, he liked it, he has been there pretty much ever since.  Just the other day I was driving home from the office, stuck in traffic with the top down, and the woman in the car next to me, shouted, "what's with the panda?"  I replied "he likes it there." He has squishy legs so he actually fits in the back seat.  

Last fall I realized that I had only driven the sensible Mazda about 400 miles in 10 months.  And used car prices are unusually high.  I took it back the dealer I had bought it from, and sold it back to them. They resold it the following week.  It only had about 40,000 miles on it and was nearly 10 years old.   

Friday, April 01, 2022

Fabulous Friday - April 1st edition

I really think Red is the right color for this.  I could get it in black, but I really think red is the best color.  I mean if you are going to buy a car that says LOOK AT ME!, it shouldn't be boring.  I was surprised the dealer had them in stock, ready to drive home. You do have to be careful, first time drivers have an amazingly high rate of losing control in the first few weeks.  The recommendation is to take delivery at a safety driving course, and work with an instructor until you get a feel for it.  Acceleration is painfully abrupt, braking is immediate and violent.  It is a challenge to get in and out of.  

It is a total fantasy car, after years of what I should have, or what is reasonable.  Why not? After all we are not going to live forever and we can't take it with us. 

For years I thought it would be a Rolls Royce, when I was growing up I remember the first time I saw one.  The elegant flowing lines.  The new one's look like a box, big, square, shapeless (well I guess a box is a shape.) The are comfortable inside, but the style leaves a lot to be desired, and unlike the good old days, they will paint them in gaudy colors, instead of stately greys, black, white, cream, and brown (not the best color.) 

Oh, by the way, it is April 1st, known in many parts of the world as April Fools Day, a day for minor practical jokes.  Nope, I didn't, I wouldn't it costs like $15,000 to have the oil changed in that thing at the dealer.  And I can get in, but it takes two people to drag me back out of it and then I land on the ground like a fish fresh off the hook.