Thursday, June 30, 2022

Thursday Random Rambles : Going Places

Temperature and pressure remaining constant I have some travel coming up.  For a decade I seldom went without pending airline and hotel reservations, then well along came the past 2 years.  

I have a trip coming up very soon to where I was born and raised, the land of perpetual gloom, Michigan.  My sister messaged me recently that my brother in-laws health has "taken a turn for the worst."  He has been battling cancer for several years, he was in remission, and it is back with a vengeance.  I have not seen them since 2019 (or was it 2018?)  I think my sister needs some family time.  I will fly into Detroit, rent a car, and drive out to the middle of nowhere, I am staying in the best hotel in the county - in other words I will be roughing it for a few days. Having a car, and staying in a hotel, gives the the ability to manage my stress.  

In September I am speaking at a conference in Kentucky.  We are planning to drive, stopping to visit family and friends on the way back.  I can also make a stop at Justin's for a little specialty shopping. 

A professional friend is organizing a conference in Boston in October, and actually dropped planning the substantive agenda on me.  I am recruiting speakers, and will make sure I am included in the mix. I have been to Boston twice.  The first time I had 3 hours to explore. The second time I planned to have most of a day to explore, and it was just above freezing and pissing down rain. Outside is was like a drag queen ugly crying, but colder. I didn't go outside that trip.  I am hoping for better weather this trip.  I have this thing for Harvard, I was recently quoted by a Harvard Law Professor - I swooned; a couple of years ago I interviewed a Harvard Medical School Professor as part of a research project we were doing.  I need to go get a selfie in Harvard Square.  

I booked airline tickets to go to Spain in December.  So far that is all that is planned for that trip.  We fly in and out of Madrid.  We need to decide how much time in Madrid, and how much time down south near Mitchell and San Geraldo. I would like to go to Gibraltar for lunch, just so I can say I have been there. Our travels tend to be very unstructured, we will book hotels, and probably buy train tickets before we leave, then let things happen as they may from there. The best made plans of hamsters and penguins often go astray.  

There is a laundry list of places I want to go, bloggers I want to visit, things I want to see.  I am hoping that things are starting to be doable again.  I have decided I need to do at least one major trip every six months until I retire to fight back against being a grumpy bunny.  


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday : Literacy and Books

 My mother was born in 1927, and my guess is this was taken before she was born. The tall man on the right is her father.  With horses in full harness.  He prefered horses to machines, he farmed with horses and mules until after World War II. He had a about 4 years of formal education, but was a reader.  The few books that were in my childhood home, were mostly boxes of books that came from my grandparents home when the sold the farm the in the early 1960's.  There were novels, and books of facts.  

Space was limited when I was growing up, and buying and keeping books was discourage. My parents raised 4 kids in under 900 sq. ft.  And books were expensive - and being farmers were parents were always careful with money.  When I was in middle school my parents started spending winters in Florida, when I was in the 9th grade I discovered a bookstore near home that had a bargain and clearance section.  Despite my father's protest that books were bulky and heavy, I started buying books.  A habit that continues to this day.  

When I finished high school the senior english teachers final lecture to the graduating class was that we would "read more as adults than we ever had." I think I laughed at that idea.  He was so - so right.  From connecting with high school classmates on FB, for many he was very wrong, but for some of us he was so right.  I have read more books this year, than I did in four years of high school, and I am behind in my reading.  

Once again in my life, living space is at a premium.  I have learned to part with books I am unlikely to read again.  I read a lot of Kindle books, actually I like them, I love being able to carry around a dozen books on less than 8 ounces of plastic.  The building I live in has a bookcase in the lobby, some see it as a library, I see it as a book exchange.  I pick up books from there that I want, I drop off books that I have read and know I am unlikely to ever reread.  Most of them find a new home.  I need to sort out my professional books, there are some I will never open again, some I will never part with.  I should do some posts about the place we live.   

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Travel Tuesday: Subway Trains

There are days, when I just want to ride around town on the subway trains and watch the people.  

People can be interesting. There was the person who rode to and from my home station who had a some health issues.  She would start arguing with no one. She got off the train one afternoon at the Pentagon Station and stood on the platform baying, like a wolf at the moon.  The doors closed and the train pulled out and she was not done, she must have waited for the next train, for the moment to pass. 

There was the time the train stopped, I was sitting in the front car.  The operator opened the door, grabbed a fire extinguisher, rushed ahead about 100 feet and put out a trash fire on the tracks.  Five minutes later we were on the way to our next station.  

There was the morning we pulled into L'Enfant Plaza station, with a short hold for single tracking through the station.  I looked over and there was a dead passenger covered in a sheet on the train parked in the station, surrounded by police and medics.  I later read that he died on the train, probably of a Monday morning heart attack.  Metro put in a policy that the operator must walk the entire train when the train is going out of service, aka being parked for the day, after someone died of a rush hour heart attack in the morning, the train was parked in the sun all day, and the remains were found when the train pulled into the first station for the afternoon rush.  Clean up in car 6.  

I read a lot on the train, I love my reading time on the trains, it was one thing I really miss when working remotely.  But there are a few spots along the way that always make me look up.  The train passes National Airport, I look up to see the planes, especially the private aviation terminal at the end.  The train crosses a bridge over the Potomac River, I look up going in I look up to see the silhouette of the city, coming home the view is of the River and the airport.  

Why No Passengers on the train above.  Metro is doing safety testing trying to get the 7000 series trains back in service, they have been off the rails since October of 2021.  The train wheels are pressed onto the axles, and there is a somewhat rare, but potentially disastrous defect that allows the wheels to move out on the axle. It happens slowly, and if caught can be repaired or replaced before it is dangerous.  They have installed sensors in the tracks to measure for this, and they need to drive the trains back and forth over the sensors to prove that they will detect the problem when it happens.   The 7000 series is 60% of metros rolling stock.  Service is at about half capacity.  

Update, testing has been completed on 64 cars and they have returned to service.  Welcome back my old friends! 


Monday, June 27, 2022

Music Monday : Another Train Song Johnny Cash - "Wabash Cannonball"

Steam engines almost come alive, the sounds they make are deep and mysterious.  The external moving parts are fascinating to watch, the engineering that makes them work is amazing.  They are a balance between control, and explosion, harnessing immense power. My father talked about going the station when he was a child, and the engineer climbing down and carefully placing pennies on the tracks, and then flattening them in a spin of the drive wheels and then handing them still hot from the pressure to the kids who gathered to watch.  

Sunday, June 26, 2022

The Sunday FIve: Would You?

1: Would you travel to Russia? 

2: Would you fly across the Atlantic in a single engine aircraft? 

3: Would you visit a country where you don't speak the language? 

4: Have lunch with Donald Trump? 

5: Drive across the country? 

My answers:

1: Would you travel to Russia?  No, not at this time

2: Would you fly across the Atlantic in a single engine aircraft?  Probably not, I would have at one time. 

3: Would you visit a country where you don't speak the language? Have done and will do.

4: Have lunch with Donald Trump? I better not. 

5: Drive across the country? I would like to. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post : Live Life Like A Dog

Some of the happiest people I have met are dogs.  
  • They live each day as if it were a party.  
  • They eat with gusto, even of others think what they are eating is gross.  The Brits have a saying that something is a "dogs dinner" as in a mess, dogs don't get this, who cares what it looks like if it smells good and tastes good.  
  • Dogs will always enjoy a snack or treat, none of this a moment on the lips a lifetime on the hips crap, enjoy it in the here in and now. 
  • Dogs watch over their pack, or tend their flock.  Sophie in France offers a good example of watching out for her flock, of searching for anyone who has gone astray - always being on the lookout for C-A-T-S. 
  • Given the opportunity dogs will run and play like someone left the gate open. You know what people, we can open that gate for ourselves, but we seldom do. 
  • Dogs are seemingly instant judges of character, one sniff of another dogs, and they know if it friend or foe.  Why they sniff one another's behinds I haven't quite figured out.  If only I could suss out those that will be unkind to me just by sniffing their behind.  
  • Dogs never pass on an opportunity to nap, probably only C-A-T-S do this more.  We need to take more naps, get more rest.  
  • Dogs are free to speak up and say what is on their minds.  Especially the neurotic little thing down the hall from us. Humans bottle it up until we pop our corks. 
  • Dogs have incredible focus, dogged determination - well until SQUIRREL!   Or RABBIT!
  • Dogs are always eager for a nice scratch, to have their backs rubbed, or their bellies tickled. When was the last time you rolled over so a stranger could tickle your belly? (Looking forward to one bloggers comment on this one.) 
  • Dogs lick where ever it feels good, you would too if you could. 
  • Mistreat a dog, and they will never trust you again. Wise dogs. 
So my goal for this week, is to live more like a dog.  

Friday, June 24, 2022

Fabulous Fridays : I should learn to sew

Our Go-To Hampton Inn in New York, is a little south and a little west of Times Square, and a couple of blocks north of the garment district. The numbered streets just south of the hotel are home to big names like DKNY, and Calvin Klein, and dozens of little specialty shops.  There are entire stores that feature bright prints, geometrics, sparkly fabrics, lace, bead work, spandex, your name the fabric - there is a shop that has every variety they can find.  From staples, to specialty items that you can only find in a few places.  There are stores that specialize in buttons, or zippers, or other specialty items.  I love walking that neighborhood, sticking my head into see what they have.  Most welcome the odd photo, some ask that you not.  If I knew how to sew, I would need to take an extra suitcase with me to go shopping.  Most of them also ship.  

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Thursday Random Rambles : Under Construction

The experts posit that one of the manifestations of neurocognitive decline, aka dementia, more commonly known as Alzheimer's is a measurable decline in the ability to learn.* I am safe on this measure, as every week I seem to learn something new.  In many ways I am still a work in progress; I am under construction.  

Some of this is discovering entirely new things, some of it is learning that what I thought I knew was incomplete, or even worse wrong.  Yes, sometimes our teachers, sometimes the experts we relied on were simply wrong.**  Human understanding is constantly evolving.  Even if you "know it all today," you won't tomorrow, and part of what you know, is simply wrong.  Our knowledge base is under constant construction and rebuilding.  

In law school they taught us to be careful of absolute statements.  Never say "No One" or "Everyone", say things like we have been unable to identify a person who has done X, or an exhaustive search yielded no one who has done X, or the vast majority or nearly everyone.  Even as I write this I realize that citing contrary examples in the sentence above makes it harder to offer examples and probably confuses some readers.  There is a better way to construct that sentence. 

Some experts in cognitive ability, say that our brains reindex or reorganize information as we get older. I have read a couple of sources that say this is most intense in our late 50's and 60's.*** Some cultures talk about the wisdom of age, this may well be what they are talking about, a deeper understand of what we know, based on our brains sorting and organizing.****  I have felt some of this as I pass through that age range.  I am more likely to see the flaws in my past logic, to question my dogma.  I am still learning why I have two ears and one mouth, so I can listen twice as much as I talk.  I am still under construction.  Then again, may the experts I have relied on for this are quacks.  

I asked a question in a department meeting recently, went around the group gathering input.  I got to the last person, and before they spoke they said, "well what do you think about this?" My answer was I know what I think, what I need to know is what you think, so I can evaluate my understanding, maybe I am wrong. ***** I can only build, by learning from others.  

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.  I try to construct entries that make me think to write them, that allow my readers to think, together we are constructing this sweet little blog world.  

*My professional work includes research into dementia and decision making. 
** In the 1930's my grandmother's doctor advised her to take up smoking to strengthen her lungs. 
*** I enjoy reading this stuff both for work and for pleasure, my pleasure reading is often fact seeking. 
**** There are also cultures that see dementia as reaching a higher level of consciousness or personal development.   
***** And even if I am, it is a change we have no real control over, it is going to happen no matter what we think. All we can change is how we adapt to it. Well I guess we could all quit.   

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday : Mom and her Father and the HAIR!

 This is one of my favorites of the photos that we found after my mother died, it is her as a baby, with her father, and that HAIR of his.  I understand his hair was dark red when he was young, it was snow white in my memory, alway snow white.  He did keep his hair (unlike my father's side of the family.) He had a full head of white hair, thick and curly when he died.  

I look at the way his hair is cut, and think of some of the styles of the past 20 years, and think the more things change, the more they stay the same.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Travel Tuesdays : The Routine Differences

I sat next to a woman at a meeting the recently who lives in New Brunswick, in the Canadian Maritimes.  She started a list of words that are pronounced differently in Canada and the United States, and words that are spelled differently.  Words like tire/tyre.  She said when she first started traveling to the USA for meetings, the pronunciation differences really threw her off.  

One of the joys of travel, is learning how common things are different.  Sometimes it is differences in a shared language.  Sometimes it is common objects, electrical current,  electrical connections.  My travel bag has adaptors and power cords for things that work on universal power (110-120-220-230.) I often have to get out the jewelers loupe (magnifier) to read the fine print on a computer power supply to see if it works on multiple power levels (most do.) 

I was surprised by the shape of the fire hydrants in Reykjavik. Not that they are all the same around the world, but these seemed skinny, probably made to fit a particular set of engineering needs.  

Routine things, that are different 

Monday, June 20, 2022

Music Monday: Train Songs City of New Orleans, Arlo Guthrie

I love train travel.  The gentle pace, seeing the landscape, the back yards, and fields.  

Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Sunday Five : Home

 1: How many homes have you lived in? 

2: Have you ever lived in a house with a basement? 

3: Have you ever built a new home? 

4: Does your home have more than one floor? 

5: Would you move into the red house for the summer? 

My Answers:

1: How many homes have you lived in? 11 

2: Have you ever lived in a house with a basement? No

3: Have you ever built a new home? 2 for myself, 1 as a rental, and I lost track of how many for others. 

4: Does your home have more than one floor? I am in a highrise, but we are all on one floor. 

5: Would you move into the red house for the summer? In a heartbeat. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post: Change and the Office

Most people hate change, they resist it, they resent it, they want it to go away, they yearn for the "good old days." I have been chasized over the years for suggesting that people need to adjust to the new normal.  But we need to.  

My office is looking at options.  I lead one department of 5 people in an office with a couple of dozen departments and 250 desks.  After paying for empty space for 25 months, we have started to return to the office.  People were asked how many days a week they wanted to be in the office, and how many days they wished to work remotely.  The average in office is two days a week.  Only a handful of people have elected to be in 4 or 5 days a week.  (We have a core of 4 people who cover the front desk, mail, and operations who have to be in 4 days a week - they worked through the pandemic.) Fridays are a ghost town, typically less than 10% of the staff are in. 

In a managers meeting recently we were asked how many people wanted to return to the office full time, and not one hand in the meeting went up.  This was followed by a request for a careful analysis of how much office space we need to meet the new normal of office use.  

In my little department we are paying for 20 desk days per week, (we have fewer desks than people, one of my staffers was hired as a full time remote) and we are using 9 desk days per week.  Simple math - we are paying for more than twice as much office space as we are using.    

Efficiency requires a major change.  Sharing desks, sharing offices.  One model is my department pays for and uses five desks on Monday and Tuesday, another department pays for them and uses them on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday - we both pay for and anyone who wants to use them probably can, 90% of our office space is empty on Friday, if you want the big corner office with the sofas, it is probably empty on Friday. Please don't raid the bar.  

When I think about it, my office is wherever my office laptop computer is. Our current phone system allows me to forward my extension to any phone on the system, we are buying a new phone system that will tie our phones to our laptops.  Eliminating that box on the desk we think of as a phone.  I am looking forward to hearing the screams when the desk phones are removed later this year.  

I have been working in offices since 1979.  Traditional offices and desks, my office is filled with my stuff.  So this will require a change.  Working cleaner, making the personal stuff more portable. (I have a neat scales of justice clock in my office I will need to find a new home for.) 

I am very open to the change.  My colleagues are a little mixed, mostly a fear of change, a loss of identity in their space.  There are a couple of departments that are massively opposed. They are not saying they want to be in 5 days a week, but they don't want to desk share, they want "THEIR DESK" to be empty when they are not there. 

My desk, my 106 sq. ft. office (a little less than 10 sq. metres) costs us about $30,000 per year for rent, utilities, common space, and cleaning. And I am using half of that. Multiply that by five staff people, and we are spending a lot of money, on space we are not using and have no intent of using.  

Embrace the change.  It is going happen.  

Friday, June 17, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Kites

Growing up on the farm, we had acres of fields to fly kites in.  I remember when Green Giant canned veggies offered a giant kite, I had a couple of those they were about 5 feet tall, made of plastic and easy to fly.  Strangely it is illegal to fly kites on the national Mall in Washington DC.  The law is suspended one weekend a year for an annual kite festival, but the rest of the year the park police will fine you and seize your kite.  

I saw these over at the MGM resort at National Harbor in Maryland (just across the river from home) and thought Fabulous Friday.  What great colors, even if these would never fly. 

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Thursday Ramble : What have I been up to

A new supermarket opened near us in May.  A Wegmans.  I had been in a couple of their suburban stores, they have a cult following, and found them interesting, but not worth traveling 10 miles out of my way for.  The new one is a mile from home as the Eagle flies.  I have been a couple of times.  They have a lot of specialty items, not things you would buy every week, but things I might want for a special occasion.  A nice cheese department, but no beaver cheese.

Work remains busy - it always will be - after I retire I will be able to write about what I do.  I did have a swoon moment recently when an NPR reporter registered for a program I was producing (National Public Radio.) If I am quoted by NPR, I can die knowing my work was noticed by people who think.   

The USA is lifting the requirement of a negative Covid test to board a plane for the United States.  One of my colleagues was in Scotland for a conference, boarding a plane for the return flight about 12 hours before the change took place.  Oh well.  The pre-departure tests in Iceland cost me $53 each.  If this change sticks, maybe I will start to think about more adventure.  Spain and Portugal are high on my list of need to sees.

Google cloud stores a backup of my photo archive (I use a redundant system with two clouds and two physical drives.)  A couple of weeks ago there was an message that their computer had put together a draft book of photos from my recent trip, and if I wanted I could edit, and even order a printed version.  It was good, I think I only made one change and I ordered a printed copy.  A couple of days later there was a message that it had shipped.  It was handed over to FedEx and took 8 days to travel here from North Carolina.  If there was an easy way to comment to them I would say, "If they had handed it to a drunk monkey riding a bicycle, it would have gotten here faster." I hate FedEx.  

When we returned home I ordered a high quality printed book from Zuno of the Iceland highlights. I have printed a couple of photo album books with them, they do really high quality work. What their website didn't say when I ordered it was that their printing is done in China, and China shut down the city the printing facility is in for 2-months. It had been closed for over a month when I placed the order and there was no clear communication that the order would be delayed indefinitely.  They processed payment promptly. I am still waiting. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday : Tin Can Tourists

My mother's parents were some of the original trailer tourists, or they were sometimes called tin can tourists.  They bought some of the earliest travel trailers. This photo was taken in the 1940's, that was not their first travel trailer.  I think my grandfather would have been happy camping in a tent, but my grandmother wanted a bed, and a kitchen - tiny and basic as they could be.  

My mother finished high school during World War II, and around that time, her parents shuttered the farm one winter and spent a couple of months touring the US, they went to California, as far south as Mexico (the only time my mother was ever in Mexico.) That experience shaped my mother's life.  She understood the diversity and grandeur of the people and landscape. She had a respect for immigrants based on people she met who were oh so different from the people she was surrounded by as a child.  She stood on the corner of Hollywood and Vine hoping to be discovered.  


Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Travel Tuesday : Firsts

Dr Spo, the sweetie, posted over the weekend about last times. The last time we see someone, visit someplace, see something, experience something. Last time happen, they are a part of life.  In thinking about his post, and writing a comment, I reflected on some the last times in my life.  I have had three major geographic moves as an adult, and let me assure you can return but you can't go back.  The place will have changed.  I have buried my share of family.  People I saw and spoke with for the last time, sometimes knowing it was likely to be the last time, sometimes not.  It is part of life.  

I also got to thinking about first times that I have to look forward to.  

I look forward to the first day, week, and month, when my time is shaped by my whims and not by the demands of my work, and the need to earn a living.  

I look forward to turning 65 and Medicare kicking in, for the first time in my adult life not being obligated to work or pay for health insurance.  I have been uninsured a couple of times as an adult - it is terrifying.  I had a year with nearly $400,000 in medical bills - not having to jump through hoops for health insurance will be wonderful. 

I look forward to the first Social Security and Pension checks. I have been filing tax returns for 50 years, paying into Social Security for that long.  I am vested in an old fashioned pension, it is a tiny one, $518 a month for life, but I earned that with several years of 50 and 60 hour weeks in public interest work.  

I look forward to being able to plan a trip away from home - really away from the office,  that is longer than 13 days.  I have an administrative duty that I have to do every two weeks, that is nearly impossible to delegate.  One of my fantasies is to rent an apartment in a foreign city and live like a local for a month.  We are getting close. 

I look forward to having dinner with Mitchell and San Geraldo in Spain for the first time, to meeting Sharon in Phoenix while visiting Spo and Someone again, I look forward to seeing the Canadian Maritimes for the first time and meeting Lawrence.  I look forward to having time to organize a gathering of bloggers, and somehow encouraging many to fly in and enjoy.  It has been done, it is time to do it again.   

I look forward to the first time traveling long distance by train, in a private compartment with the backyards of America passing by my window.   

I look forward to having time to cross the Atlantic on an ocean liner. 

Yes there will be losses and changes along the way, but for every last time, there is a first time.  I look forward to those.  

Monday, June 13, 2022

YouTube Monday : The Queen and a Sweet Bear

I LOVE this video, the slightly bumbling bear, the tolerance of the Queen, the fun secrets of the little black handbag, the beat near the end.  One of them kinda reminds me of someone.  

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The Sunday Five: This Week and Beyond?

1: What did you do this week just for fun? 
2: What did you do this week to improve your mind? 
3: What brought you great pleasure this week? 
4: What was the best thing you ate this week? 
5: What are you most looking forward to this summer? 

My answers: 
1: What did you do this week just for fun?  Caught up on my YouTube favorites
2: What did you do this week to improve your mind? Read, thought, wrote.
3: What brought you great pleasure this week? Surprising a friend with a gift. 
4: What was the best thing you ate this week? A home made chicken soup. 
5: What are you most looking forward to this summer?  Floating in the pool. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post: Happy LGBTQ+ Pride Month

I am proud of who I am, every day, of every month, of every year.  I try to set a good example, to treat others with care and respect. I try to be kind to the earth. 

A part of who I am is being a gay man, a man with a husband.  A variation from the usual.  

My journey has been a circutitus one.  In the early years I experienced a lot of fear, self loathing, denial.  I have an ex-wife.  I tried to make a choice, and being gay is not a choice, it is a part of my core being, not something I can change, or something I would want to change. It has not always been easy, I have lost jobs, friends, alienated family members who think being gay is wrong, or is something I could change.  

There have also been a lot of positives, loving family, friends, the love of my life.  J and I are coming up on 30 years together this fall, and we still make one another happy, still make one another smile, still find interesting things to talk about and adventures to share.  

I try to frame my understanding of the experience of others, through the lens of my experience.  I know what it feels like to be an outsider, to be an other. My experience is based on my life, but I know that others have a similar experience of being the other, the different, the outsider.  Just as I have wished for open doors and open arms, I try to open my doors and arms to others who are perceived as "different." 

Deep down underneath it all, what we really want is security and happiness.  

We are not much for crowds, so we will avoid the parades, and celebrate in our own way.  

Be Extra Proud of Who You Are This Month! 

Friday, June 10, 2022

Fabulous Friday : Goodies

Don't these look wonderful?  Delightful to look at. Wonderful to try.  The world needs more good bakeries.  In the US small independent bakeries had become rare. The work is very labor intensive, the ingredients, if you are using the best can be expensive or simply hard to find. Because we like fresh baked goods early in the day, the bakers often work in the dark of night. The market is dominated by factory produced products, that are inherently cheaper.  Mass produced - full of preservatives.  Most restaurant baked goods, are really frozen from a handful of mega factories.  Slowly the independent local bakeries are coming back.  Celebrate them, by spending money, enjoying the good stuff.  

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Thursday Ramble: I Always Seem to be Busy

I had an email a few days ago asking me to speak at the opening keynote plenary at a national conference last Monday.  The scheduled speaker was sick, and it was only 10-15 minutes. They asked if I could come up with something and fill in.  I agreed, and set to work trying to figure out what to say.  15 minutes is harder to prepare for than an hour.  Edit, edit, edit.  I mentioned this to one of my staff attorneys, and she said, "they asked her, but she was going to be out of town." (She is speaking at a conference in Scotland this week.) So apparently I was at best their third choice.  

My recently retired boss had all kinds of committee and commission assignments.  He arranged for me to replace him on a few of them.  Some are really good, some are an excuse for someone to pay travel expenses for meetings out of town (that I am hoping resume before I retire - this week was here in town.) So Wednesday was spent in a room full of lawyers on an issue I know a little bit about. A couple of dear friends are on the commission, it was nice to see people face to face.  

I realized last weekend I had not taken any photos since returning from Iceland. Time to grab the camera and go for a couple of long walks.  I probably have a few cell phone snaps, but I need to work with the real camera often.  Last year I bought several lenses for the Nikons.  A couple of specialty items, a super fast prime lens, a fisheye lens, a super telephoto, and a really nice 18-200mm lens.  That one has become my new go to standard lens.  The range is super wide angle to moderate telephoto.  It is hand holdable (the super telephoto requires a tripod and lots of fiddling.) The 18-200 is the only lens I took to Iceland. I need to stay busy with the camera.  

I am back in the office at least two days per week.  I was riding the subway in one morning, and realizing how much I enjoy commuting by subway train.  Sitting there reading, listening to the sound of the train moving along, looking up as we pass the new station that will open this fall, as we pass the airport, and when we cross the river into the District.  Two years of not doing that, need to be made up for.  When I am work at home, I work more hours.  And the work expands to fill the time available.  It always has, it always will. The move to director brought 10% more money, and 20-30% more work.  I am still learning to delegate work to others.  

Lots to do, lots to keep me busy,  

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday : Chicago 2008

 Ah, 2008, it was a busy year.  This was taken in August in Chicago at a national conference on abuse of adults (we are opposed to it.) In early September we took a cruise to Alaska, my first cruise.  Later that fall I did a speaking tour in Kentucky, and in the middle of that got a call for a job interview in Washington DC.  The interview was on Halloween, we voted for President a few days later, the job offer came a couple of week later.  At Thanksgiving we drove to DC and leased an apartment, then from there to Florida, took a cruise to the Bahamas, spent the holiday with my family.  In early December I flew to DC for a conference, and the middle of the month I started the new job in DC.  And that was just the last 6 months of the year.  The Obamas moved into a hotel a block from my office window a week after I started the job, it was an exciting time to be in DC. 

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Travel Tuesday - Eating and Drinking Local

 Old Iceland had the most amazing fresh local fish.  I had the fish soup, followed by fresh grilled salmon, and a local Vitking beer.  A couple of nights later we went to Harry's bar just down the street.  I ordered a deep  fried scallop first course, then grilled lamb tenderloin with roasted vegetables, and a chocolate cake for dessert. Oh My That was good.  How good was it, we went back the next night so we could have it again.  

I had never seen lamb tenderloin on a menu or in a meat counter in the USA before.  The server said there is so little of it, that it is seldom exported from Iceland.  A new supermarket was opening near us, a Wegmans.  I commented to Jay that if they had lamb tenderloin I they would probably become my new go to grocery store.  They did and it was amazing.  

I was listening to someone complaining about the food in Iceland, they don't like fish or lamb, and beef is expensive.  I have to say, get over it and taste the local.  Most people who don't like fish had one encounter with something that was overly breaded, deep fried and not carefully filleted resulting in bones.  Good fish is fresh, properly prepared it is not littered with bones.  Most people who don't like lamb have never had good lamb well prepared.  First most lamb sold in the United States is really mutton.  Older is stronger.  It can be prepared to be very pleasant, but that is not grilled or roasted, it needs to be slow cooked for hours to chase away that muttony flavor.  I know lambs are cute, so a piglets and cows - I am an omnivore I will eat anything that does not eat me first.  

Oh my the local food was good. Fresh, artfully prepared.  I am so glad I will try anything.  Though we did skip the grilled Puffin and Whale pepper steak.  

Sunday, June 05, 2022

Sunday Five: Life on Other Planets

1: Do you think there is life on other planets? 
2: Why haven't we found life on other planets? 
3: Do you think humans can live on other planets? 
4: Would you go to another planet if the trip was comfortable and only took three hours? 
5: What would life from other planets think of life on earth? 

My Answers: 
1: Do you think there is life on other planets? Yes
2: Why haven't we found life on other planets? Because we only look through an earth bound lens. 
3: Do you think humans can live on other planets? Someplace, probably. 
4: Would you go to another planet if the trip was comfortable and only took three hours? Three hours, easier than going to Dallas. 
5: What would life from other planets think of life on earth? Where did they go wrong. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, June 04, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post: Harpa

 Harpa is the concert hall, convention center on the waterfront in Iceland.  It is all glass on the outside, and all amazing on the inside.  The real estate brokers of Iceland were holding a meeting when I was there, I still have a real estate brokers license, haven't used it in nearly 30 years.  Maybe I should have crashed their party, just for fun. 

Some see Harpa as a symbol of the collapse of the Iceland economy in the 2008-2009. Apparently it was built during the boom years, and the bill came due just as the world economy crashed. Iceland was especially hard hit, the banks had become a major financier of the north Atlantic lobster trade, and discovered that lobster does not make very good collateral when no one is buying it.  It is not like you can hold onto it, lease it out for five years until the market recovers (like office and apartment buildings, or ships and planes.) 

Iceland did end up with a world class spectacular landmark space.  One of a couple in Reykjavik, when you see this or the church I featured recently, you just know where in the world it is.  And a place for spectacular performance.  You can have great music anyplace, but a stage like this makes it all the more grand. 

A walk from the hotel, down to the waterfront, and along the waterfront to this was on my dream list when I booked the trip.  J was exhausted by the painful overnight flight wedged into a 737 Max, and elected to rest while I went out to explore.  I was tired, but wanted to do this, and I am so glad I did. A couple of hours of walking, taking photos and absorbing the place.  

Friday, June 03, 2022

Weird Friday : Been There Seen That

Shortly before we left for Iceland a dear friend emailed with a short list of things to see or do.  On the list was a visit to a unique museum.  Not wanting to get flagged as an adult post, I will let you read the sign, and the images are carefully selected.  

This was a private collection.  A sign showed a photo of it in the collectors living room. Apparently his spouse said "either the collection moves or I do" and the collection was moved into a public space. It is mostly certain body parts floating in preserving liquids, some taxidermy, some photos or illustrations. A few things I have seen before, a few I had not. The museum is a few minutes walk from the concert hall on the waterfront.  It is in the basement below a high end clothing store.  There is a modest admission fee (like $5 or something.) There is a cute gift shop, filled with novelties.  I don't have anyplace to wear most of the T-shirts. 

The shades on the light fixtures are made from the tanned scrotums of large farm animals. And sadly I had already bought a new light fixture for the kitchen remodel. 

It is unique, it is one of a kind, I am glad I went to see it, I can say "been there seen that."  Should you include it on your tour, up to you, but other than Congress or an NRA meeting, where can you see so many dicks in one place?  

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Thursday Ramble : Stickers

When we travel, I need to remember to put a couple of stickers in my wallet.  In Dublin the hotel had a sticker wall, and I had cleaned out my card case just before we left taking out two "I Voted" stickers with American flags on them.  In Reykjavik any metal box that was on the street, post boxes, electrical junction boxes were plastered with stickers.  And once again I had nothing the leave behind to say "I have have been here." Oh well, leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs and memories (oh and leave money behind, tourism is one of the top industries in Iceland.) 

I recently went through my calendar and blocked a week off, every three or four months.  I accrue about six weeks of paid time off each year and I have reached the use it or lose it point.  I work too hard to earn it, to forfeit it.  I had tried taking three day weekends to use up the days, but it is not the same as setting the email to gone away and not working for a week.  Getting away did me a world of good, I need that message to stick in my brain.  

American politics, what an ugly dysfunctional mess.  Mass murder goes unchecked, police standby and wait for the mayhem to end to protect their lives, so much for the good guy with a gun theory of safety. Schools shouldn't need to be fortresses, angry young men shouldn't have access to weapons of mass destruction.  The NRA is a terrorist organization. Some rights are protected, others trounced.  I admire those who had the strength to move.  I am probably stuck here for the duration.  (Sorry I usually avoid politics, but some things just stick in my brain.) 

June will be busy month in the office, probably most months will be.  The work will always expand to fill the time available, at times it will overwhelm the time that is available. I need to remember to make time for myself. 

Well that is kind of random collection of what is sticking in my brain at the moment.  It will all be okay, in the long run we will all be fine.  

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday : The First Visit

Not exactly ancient history, but back in 2015 we visited Iceland for the first time.  2015 was a complicated year.  It started out with me working for a week in Hawaii in early February, then having my spine repaired in May, Going to Chicago for a conference in early August, and then going to Germany later in August, with the stop over in Iceland on the way back.  Jay had a conference at Oxford, so he flew out and spoke at the conference.  Then I flew to Frankfurt Germany, spent the night, then took the train to Stuttgart. He flew to Stuttgart and we met up there. We spent a couple of nights in Stuttgart, then picked up a car at the Mercedes factory, drove it in Germany, and Austria (and France for two minutes,  I missed a turn) dropped it off in Munich and flew home on IcelandAir with a 26-hour stopover in Iceland.  We rented a car, stayed in a nice suburban hotel near Reykjavik,  did a little driving around, and flew home, thinking that was amazing we need to go back and spend more time.  And we did. And we still need to go back and spend more time.