Sunday, July 31, 2022

Sunday Five: What Do We Have Here

 This is a sculpture based on a Norman Rockwell painting:

1: Is it a:

            A:  Scientist

            B: Bartender

            C: Pharmacist

            D: Chemist

 2: Why is it on the sidewalk in Alexandria? (have fun and be creative)

3: Have you met a mad scientist? 

4: Should we have more public art?

5: When they do a sculpture of you, what will be in your hands? 

My Answers: 

1: Is it a: I know the answer, if I answered it would spoil it for you.

 2: Why is it on the sidewalk in Alexandria? (have fun and be creative) Someone had money to burn

3: Have you met a mad scientist? A couple of them, only one of them was suspected of poisining the neighbor. 

4: Should we have more public art? Yes

5: When they do a sculpture of you, what will be in your hands? A Camera 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, July 30, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post: If It Was Easy

 I don't write about my work, because if I do, my employment contract says my employer owns it, and I don't want them to claim ownership of Travel Penguin.  This is my flightless waterfowl.  

It has been a challenging time.  I have been dealing with some difficult and delicate budget and personnel issues, and we are reorganizing our workspace, moving people around.  One challenge was a pure surprise - something I thought I had resolved for this year- and things changed that were beyond my influence or control. One is a personal issue for a colleague that I can't do what would be best for the person and comply with "policy," and while I am flexible I keep being reminded that I need to comply with policy. One is a long term issue that has been put off for years, that I thought I was going to be able to pass off to my replacement when I retire, but the "surprise" is forcing painful decisions. There will be tears. 

I thought about retiring early, walking away and making it someone else's problem.  Or deciding now is the time to claim my health is to fragile to handle this.  

I agreed to take on this responsibility, leadership trusted me to do the job, it is time suck it up and do it. The tough parts of the job, come along with the rewarding parts of the job. There are few jobs that only bring the pleasure and rewarding parts, without the hard parts. I can't think of one. The only jobs I have ever had that had no hard parts, also had no rewarding parts unless you count $9 an hour as a reward.  If it was only about the money, I'd stop tomorrow.   

I have been working for others for something over 40 years.  I don't remember when, or for sure who it was that told me this, I was moaning about how difficult something was, and my boss simply said, 

"If it was easy, I could hire anyone to do it. 

It isn't, and that is why I hired you."  

They trusted me to be able to do this, it is time to honor that trust. 

Friday, July 29, 2022

Fabulous Friday : No One Around

About five miles south of where I lived as a child is a state game preserve 3,300 or so acres, with five lakes on it, that was bought by the state from the family that started Vernor's Ginger Ale, a regional favorite.  There are a few roads - such as they are, that cut across it, giving access to a couple of the lakes.  You get out in the middle of it, and you can easily be a mile from the nearest human being.  I saw more turkeys than people in a 30 minute drive.

Growing up we drove through the edge of the "state land" on the only paved road that passes through it.  But never ventured into it.  I never understood why, never questioned it.  On my recent trip I decided to take a drive.  On a Friday. And it was Fabulous.  

The rental car I ended up with was not what I had reserved.  I really didn't care.  I ended up in a butch-mobile, and Toyota Four Runner off road edition. If I knew how to drive all of the four wheel drive, and locking this and thats, it would be nearly unstoppable.  For me it was ideal for rough unpaved roads.  It was a great camera platform, sitting so high that it had a step on the side to help me in and out.  Oh, and it got about 21 miles to gallon of gas.    

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Thursday Ramble: If Only

I saw this and thought, if only we could teach dogs to read.  

That leads my brain into the following conversation with myself.  I wonder if all dogs speak the same language? Does language structure the thought process? (probably not.) What if we could codify dog, create a system of notation, and publish books in dog?  Could we read to dogs? Could we teach dogs to read? Maybe we should teach dogs to record their thoughts, so they could be played to other dogs. Imagine a world where dogs have phone conversations with other dogs. Certainly dogs have great stories to tell, maybe they can tell each other where the great smells are at, who has the best treats.  Scientists have tried to decode bees communicating by "dance" or movement to other bees what direction and how far to good sources of nectar.  Certainly dogs must be able to help one another find pleasure or avoid danger. Dogs seem to know who loves them, who to trust, and who to avoid. Maybe dogs are a better judge of character than humans.  

Eons of companionship with canines and we don't have a clue.  Maybe dogs understand us and are baffled that we don't understand them.  Poodles undoubtedly think we are the clueless, and that they are superior us. 

Yes, sometimes that is what happens in my brain.  So many questions to explore the answers to. 

In many ways I am like an old dog, I will respond to almost anything said in a kind tone of voice.  Treats are always appreciated.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday : The Front Door

When the house I grew up in, was being finished in the early 1960's, someone lost the keys to the front door.  We always came and went through the kitchen door, that was on the side of the house.  My parents owned that house about 20 years, before selling/giving it to my sister, and they never had keys for the front door.  It was rare, very rare for anyone to enter through the front door, the car insurance salesman.  The police the night my middle brother totaled a car a couple of miles up the road (and walked away, got a ticket for leaving the scene of an accident.) 

We never really thought much about it.  There was a back and forth with the builder and the people who did the final finish, but when that yielded no key, nothing was ever done.  

The house was locked when we were away, we had keys to the kitchen door, but a copy of that key was hidden in a vent pipe in the garage wall. Friends knew where the key was.  That is just way it was.  The garage was seldom locked.  

Was there a door to your childhood home that no one had a key to? Did you come and go through the front door? 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Travel Tuesday : Meaning

I recently spent an hour exploring the remains of Fort Hunt, along the Potomac River between home and Mt Vernon.  The bunkers are generally locked, open only for special tours, but someone had broken off the lock on one section and the door was propped open.  I didn't spend a lot of time, it was dark and damp, and smelled funny. This was in a room with no light in it, I turned the flash on and took a shot in the dark.  

I wonder, what does this represent? Is it a real person? Or someone's desired person, or feared person?  Is it a space alien, or a hallucination from good or bad dreams?  

I wonder what does it mean to the person who painted it?  Is it an expression of fear, or love, or longing?  Is it merely a way of leaving a trace that the person who created it was in a forgiven place? 

Was it planned, or did it just flow out of the brain of the person who painted it.  

Does it appear the way the person hoped it would? 

A guy standing near me on the subway recently had an interesting tattoo, it got me to thinking, what does it represent? What does it mean to him? What message does he hope others find in it? These are all complicated layers of meaning.  Meaning is not one dimensional. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

You Tube Monday: E*TRADE Commercial – Astronaut

Nice and short, with a deep message, not my favorite company, but a great commercial.  

I am on a countdown to retirement.  30 years ago, when J was settling into his first teaching job, he committed to retirement savings, about 35 years ago I started putting aside a little here and there.  He was better at it than I was, he had stronger employer matches than I did.  I have an modest old fashioned pension that will start in 17 months. Yes, if I worked another 2-3-4-5 years we would have more at retirement, but we think there is enough - and no one lives forever.  I want to stop working while people are saying, we hate to see you go, rather than them thinking, finally!  

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Sunday Five : Restaurants

Sam's Coney Island was my parents favorite place to go out to eat when they were spending summers at the farm after retirement.  It kind of surprised me, I knew my mother loved dinners, but my father thought of them as the places he went for cheap thrills as a teenager. In old age he mellowed.  I went to Sam's for dinner on my recent trip, in part to connect with that happy time in my parents later years.  

Something immediately struck me and that was the prices. The DC area is expensive, a quick lunch at the Deli in the building my office is in can easily cost $20.  I know where you can get a really great cheeseburger for $30, fries are extra.  Hence this weeks Sunday five. 

1: Do you consider it to be expensive to eat out where you live? 

2: Is price important in deciding where to eat? 

3: How often do you eat out? 

4: What percentage do you tip (if at all?) 

5: Is there a place your parents went to, that you would like to revisit? 

My Answers: 

1: Do you consider it to be expensive to eat out where you live?  Yes, it really is. 

2: Is price important in deciding where to eat? We tend to do what we want to do and not be guided by price.

3: How often do you eat out? Probably three times a week, I go out to lunch when I am in the office, and we order takeaway or delivery about once a week (we have room service where we live.) 

4: What percentage do you tip (if at all?) 20% has become my norm, when dinner was $10.59, more like 50%, 

5: Is there a place your parents went to, that you would like to revisit? The troll restaurant in Titusville Florida (that is not it's name, but it is literally under the bridge,) most of the others in Michigan from my childhood are gone. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 


Saturday, July 23, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post - Trains

It sometimes surprises me the things that will trigger memories.  I was cutting around back streets on my way back the hotel I was staying in one afternoon and I stumbled across the passenger rail station in Lapeer Michigan.  It brought forward a couple of very distant memories. 

When I was kindergarden or the first grade, the school made arrangements for the entire class to ride the passenger train from Lapeer to the next stop east Imlay City.  Probably 10-12 miles. I don't recall if we went to the train by bus, or parents driving.  I do remember that my mother put me on the train, and left, meeting me at the other end of the ride. I don't remember anything of the ride, other than getting on and being picked up at the other end.  It was 20+ years later the next time I rode a passenger train, from Winter Park Florida to Tampa and back, because you could.  We went shopping and had lunch in Tampa. 

My other memory of the train station in Lapeer involves live bees.  By federal law at that time the post office had to transport live honey bees.  The bees were in cages, with screen mesh sides, and are rather terrifying.  Back in the 1960 there was still postal rail express. If more than a crate was coming in, they usually came in by train. For some reason my mother went to meet the train in Lapeer and pick up the shipment one time and I remember going with her.  The bees make a frightening noise. The train crew was happy to offload them, and proud that they had arrived alive and well.  I understand the postal service still delivers live chicks.  

Only two trains a day, but there is still passenger rail service in Lapeer.  I should ride it one day - just because I can.  I will need to remember to be fast getting on or off.  

Friday, July 22, 2022

Fabulous Friday : Hair

Every once in awhile I catch myself in a webcam, at the right or should it be wrong angle, and notice how little hair I have left on top. I have had a long term love hate relationship with my hair.  I have never colored mine.  A few years ago when I was in Florida I stopped to visit an old friend in her office, and a guy I had worked with was working with her, his hair had been bleached blond, it was memorable, but maybe not in a good way.  

I often snap photos of fabulous hair.   I have enjoyed the trend of "top knots" on mens hair.  Many people thought they looked funny, I thought if you have it, why not.  Most men settle for terrible haircuts. Work with what you have, and have fun and be fabulous.  There was shop on King Street that would fit me with hair like hers, I wonder if they are still in business?  

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Thursday Ramble : Going Back To There

How did I end up growing up surrounded by farms?  During World War II, my grandfather was carpooling to work a Ford, one morning one of the guys he was riding with said, "Red, I am settling an estate and I have a farm to sell, you should buy it."  My grandfather was being ticketed by the city for too many bees, and my great grandmother insisting on keeping chickens running loose in the backyard, so he bought the farm. He moved the bees out to the farm, moved his parents and the chickens out to the farmhouse. After my great grandparents died, in the middle 1950's my father was unemployed one winter, he sold his house in the city and moved out to the farm.  When things picked up, he built a second house on the farm, shortly after that my grandparents moved to the farm. And that was it.  

Farming has changed.  50 years ago every section* had at least one dairy herd, in my recent visit I saw one dairy farm in the entire township.  Farmers are growing more beans - mostly soy.  I was pleased to see a fair amount of wheat.  Corn is the dominant crop.  There are few beef herds around.  Many of the old farmhouses are gone, or have undergone massive renovations.  There are more and much more modern grain elevators around.  The railroad tracks are gone, the station is gone. 

There are still a lot of vegetable gardens, some of them massive.  That was always a summer joy when I was growing up. Goodies fresh from the gardens. 

There are a few more paved road, though the house I grew up is still a mile and half from the nearest paved road.  The house I grew up in has long had new owners, who have made some changes, but also allowed the forest to engulf the property.  Where I spent summers digging out the underbrush in the ditch line across the front, they have let it grow to the point that you almost can't see the house from the road.  

The old farmhouse that my grandparents lived in, has been remodeled and a second story added.  A couple of new barns have been added.  And again nature has reclaimed the front lawn, obscuring the house from the road.  My grandfather would not be pleased.  

The Bar and Grill moved down the street a few doors, to much larger and much nicer space.  And the menu has expanded from hot dogs and burgers, to a wide variety of very good food.  There are only a couple of restaurants in town, my sister assures me it is the best. 

So what took me back there?  My sister is living there.  Her husband has terminal cancer.  I had not been there for a couple of years.  His condition is much worse.  They needed someone to talk with, someone to listen.  It was a hard trip, I am glad I made it.  

Everytime we say goodbye to someone, there is a risk it may be the last time.  At times that risk is greater, and harder to take.   

* A section is one mile, by one mile. There are 640 acres in a section, divided into quarters and the quarters divided into half, an 80 acre farm is 1/8th of a section, if it is square it is 1/4 mile by 1/2 miles.  There are 43,560 sq. ft. in an acre.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday : What's in your wallet?

There is a credit card advertisement that asks "what's in your wallet?"  Robert Fulghum who wrote the book "All I need to know, I learned in Kindergarten" wrote in one of his books about doing a staff retreat with a bunch of Pentagon types and having difficulty getting them to open up and talk about themselves beyond, name, rank, and serial number.  He finally asked them to take out their wallets and empty them out on the table, and talk about what was in them and what those contents meant to them.  

In my father's wallet there were two photos for decades.  The one above was his favorite picture of his four kids.  The original was a Kodachrome slide* (thankfully the colors are still very true.) He had an early dye transfer print** made and carried it the rest of his life.  The other photo was of the last airplane he owned in the mid-1960's.  He and a friend bought a basket case, stripped it down to the metal frame and rebuilt it from the wheels up.  One of my earliest memories as a child are the wings being recovered in our garage.  That dog eared black and white wallet size print, is now in a silver frame in my case of memories.  

I don't carry any photos in my wallet.  

* Kodachrome - the dyes for the color were added in processing and were very stable and long lasting.  The processing required complicated and expensive machines. Later color transparency or slide films, the dyes were in the film,  and didn't have the same resilience.  ** In dye transfer printing, each layer of color is created and applied to the paper in the printing process, unlike later photographic papers where the color layers were embedded in the emulsion layer on the paper from the factory. Dye transfer printing is technically much more complex.  When I was using film in the 1970's there were still a few labs that did dye transfer printing, but the cost was ten times what a standard print would be. But the prints last 100 times longer.  Modern ink jet printing, if the dyes are stable, is more like dye transfer printing.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Travel Tuesday : In Sharp Focus

Some of my early memories include ripe wheat fields.  The five acre field outside my childhood bedroom window was often planted in hard red winter wheat.  The kind milled to make the flour that pasta is made from.  I was disappointed as a child to hear that our wheat was used to make macaroni, and not bread.  Looking at is now, in sharper focus, what we were raising is a premium grain, used to make some of the most wonderful foods of modern cuisine.  

A ripe wheat field is a difficult thing to photograph using a camera with autofocus.   There are so many sharp edges, that the focus is on a linear band, leaving the foreground and distance in a blur. I like this.  Even if it was an accident.  There is a YouTuber that urges photographers to not delete the mistakes, there is gold in them sometimes.  

From a sensory perspective there is the field before harvest, something you should never walk in, trampled wheat is lost wheat, then there is the fresh cut stubble field.  The stalks are left 6-10 inches high, they snap when you walk over them.  The smell stays with you for a lifetime.  The last time I saw a fresh stubble field, was in Normandy one summer.  Probably 100 acres, freshly harvested, the combine was still in the corner of the field.  It was after dinner, but still daylight in mid summer.  And over dinner I had encountered my first bottle of Norman Cider.  I went for a walk in the field, crunch, crunch, crunch, then collapsed in bed for the sleep of delightfully drunk.  The experience stays in sharp focus, the joys of travel.  

Monday, July 18, 2022

Music Monday: More Train Songs Homeward Bound SIMON & GARFUNKEL

The question where is home, often draws the answer from me of "its complicated."  I was born in rural Michigan, and long ago determined that I never want to live there again.  I went to the first grade in Phoenix, my father's wild hair idea.  I went with family to Florida while in school, and moved there after public school, largely because it was the easy move, and I wanted out of rural Michigan.  From the Space Coast to Orlando, was a result of apartment sitting for my brother and finding a job while there. Lexington was a move for Jay's career that opened the door for me to go to graduate school, but neither of us ever wanted to live in Kentucky. I don't know if I count the efficiency apartment in Louisville during law school as a move.  I liked Louisville better than Lexington.  The move to DC was the only move that I have ever made that was my choice.  I liked the area, and spent several years softly looking for a job here.  I moved here for the job, but I found the job because I wanted to live here.  Is home where fate places us, or where we choose? I like my choice.  

Sunday, July 17, 2022

The Sunday Five: Your Life

This Titan Media is run by the local public schools, I wonder if they google searched that name?  (There is a porn producer with Titan in the name.) They were interviewing passers by on the street in Old Town Alexandria recently.  

  1. If you went back to school, would you study political science or medicine?  
  2. If you could discover a cure for blindness or deafness, which would you choose?   
  3. As a gift would you sooner receive a puppy or a pony? 
  4. For your birthday, do you prefer to plan a party, or be surprised? 
  5. If you had to choose between a new Bentley or a new Boat, which would you take? 
My Answers:

  1. If you went back to school, would you study political science or medicine?  Medicine 
  2. If you could discover a cure for blindness or deafness, which would you choose?  blindness 
  3. As a gift would you sooner receive a puppy or a pony? A puppy, the pooper scooper is smaller 
  4. For your birthday, do you prefer to plan a party, or be surprised? I need to be part of the plan, 
  5. If you had to choose between a new Bentley or a new Boat, which would you take? I enjoy my little car, I have always wanted a boat. 
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, July 16, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post : Woke

I was reading some of the political lunacy that has come out recently.  One described being "Woke" as feeling bad about what your ancestors did, or didn't do. Being aware or concerned about the wrongs of the past. 

My first thought is those fail to learn from history, are destined to repeat the mistakes and sins of the past.  And some of the history is well within my parents or grandparents lifetimes, things that I heard about first hand, like the Holocaust, internment camps for Americans of Japanese ancestry, the inhumane medical experiments at Tuskegee. I was talking with one of our student interns recently, and she asked why do state guardianship laws require specific permission from the Court for amputations unless there is a life threatening emergency.  The reason is simple, until the law changed state guardians would sometimes decide that a person who couldn't walk would be easier to care for without their legs, people who couldn't feed themselves would be better off without hands or arms that didn't function in the usual way. She was horrified, as she should be. (She is a sensitive soul, with a strong sense of outage.) 

Tragedies that mankind is destined to repeat if we don't learn from the mistakes of those who came before us who allowed evil to happen, and those who committed acts of evil. It is also important to learn about the brave people who spoke out, or stood up against it.  

As a nation we are still deeply flawed. Isms, racism, sexism, ableism, the list goes on are still flourishing - and there are those who wish to enable behaviour that makes these acceptable. Because addressing them makes someone feel uncomfortable. I weep for the country when I learn of this.  

In the past couple of years I have learned that parts of my family history from the first half of the 1800's were altered, concealed, or  overlooked to make a scoundel look like a hero. I am horrified to think of the actions of those who came before me.  Pirates, privateers, ship captains in the early 1800's*, people who did business with criminals knowing they were doing so, and made a lot of money, are not heroes, they are an embarrassment. I am glad that the sons and grandsons of the scoundrel were a couple of generations of lazy drunks who squandered the ill gotten gain, that by time of grandfather's generation they started off penniless.  I don't know if they never knew the truth, or if they covered it up, but the version I was told, was not the whole truth.  Even the captain acknowledged late in his life, that nothing he could do or say, would make up for the sins of his early years. 

Being woke, knowing, reinforces my drive to be a better human being.  It does not injure me, it makes me stronger. I am truly sorry for the actions of my ancestors, please help me be a  better person, so we can build a better future for all.  Let's not repeat the tragedies of the past.    

* Thank you to Lloyds of London for keeping detailed ship wreck histories. 

** The photo at the top, was taken by my father in the early 1950's. 

Friday, July 15, 2022

Fabulous Friday : National Symphony Orchestra

Having been a little odd from a very young age, I fell in love with classical music as a child.  I can remember when I was about 10 hearing the Detroit Symphony play at the Michigan State Fair, my parents had to drag me away - kicking and screaming as I recall.  

Three or four years ago, the son of one of Jay's college classmates had an opera premiere at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of a young artists series.  We went, and I think we will be forever in favor with the artist and his parents for having done so. (We have met him in New York for dinner a couple of times since then.)  The show was good, the one after his with the dog stole the show (never work with children or animals.) 

After that Jay started buying tickets for the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center.  Six to eight shows a season.  He looks at what they are playing, and any guest artists or conductors and carefully selects.  I really don't care, I enjoy the show, and for the most part I don't care who is playing what.  When we first returned after Covid shut them down for a year, my thought was what a fabulous noise.  

Our favorite seats are up a couple of balconies, and right over the end of the stage. You can see, you can hear. It is simply fab.   

Well that was weird, I responded to a comment that was posted, then blogger removed the comment as spam, and I retrieved it out of comment jail.  I do check comments a couple of times a day.  If your comment disappears I will try to get it back (unless you are a spammer, and we know where they can all go.) 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Thursday Ramble: A glimpse inside my day

Most of the time I sleep well, I go to bed a little after 9:00, usually turn off the distractions by 10:00* and wake around 6:00 AM.  I don't set an alarm, I haven't for years.  The first stop is the call of nature, most nights I sleep through without attending to the necessities. Then wash my hands, take my daily pills, and go turn the coffee maker on.  While magic elixir of life is brewing, I put three ice cubes in a glass, and fix a little breakfast. Toast most mornings.  I like to catch the first drip on the coffee, it is stronger, and it goes over ice, hot liquids have always burned my mouth.  Then I settle into the chair at the desk in my bedroom, and take a quick look at personal email, make sure no one was reported dead on Facebook (at my age it happens.) Then I work through my blog reading list.  On some I leave a daily comments, on others only if something strikes me. I respond to early comments on my blog, most likely from late the night before, my posts generally go up at midnight.  I usually take a quick look at the home page of the Washington Post, though I limit myself on what I read these days.  Then shower, brush my teeth and pull some clothes on.  If I am working at home, I am usually logged on before 8:00 AM, if I am going to the office I try to catch the shuttle bus to the station by 7:32.  My ride in takes about an hour, and I read on the train.  I love reading on the subway.  Work always starts with email.  Some mornings that only takes 10 minutes, some days it takes a couple of hours to go through what is there.  I try to touch it once, if I can I reply to it before moving on.  Some answers require time to think and edit.  Some don't.  I have a lot of video meetings, and no later than 9:45 my electronic calendar will start reminding me where I need to be in 15 minutes.  If I can find time there is a dash the bathroom mid-morning, checking the mailroom on the way. If not, that gets attended to at lunch.  When I am home I make lunch and work and eat at my desk.  In the office I run downstairs to the deli and order a ham and swiss on whole wheat, not toasted with mayo and pickles - almost always the same thing, and most days eat at my desk while continuing to work.  More meetings after lunch, documents to draft or edit, or review.  I try to finish by 4:00, more often it is 5:00.  If I am in the office it takes me an hour to get home.  When I get home, I say hello to my sweetie bear, then take off most of my clothes and check personal email, return blog comments, and check the web.  If I work at home, I generally cook, if I work in the office Jay generally cooks.  The one who didn't cook, cleans up the kitchen and sets up the coffee for the next day.  We watch a couple of hours of television, often with me reading or playing games on my IPad, then I am off to bed a little after 9:00.  On the weekends, on Saturday I make a run to the farmers market for goodies and pastries first thing in the morning, return home and work on blogs for 2-3 hours (these things don't write themself.) I try to get out for an hours walk on Saturdays and Sundays. On Sunday I take an early walk, watch the CBS Sunday Morning Show, then veg.  I try to catch up on my YouTube viewing and reading. Sunday evening I watch 60 Minutes, then an hour of British television in the living room with Jay, recently Mary Berry, for along time it was Escape to the Country.  

It is a predictable routine, but I don't think of it as boring. More like settled, serene.  I read a lot, I almost always have music playing in the background. I find joy the daily cycle.  

*I have a 60 inch Television in my bedroom, and a bed computer, a laptop that 99% of the time is used only when I am in bed.   

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday : Walt Disney World The Early Years

 I took this one in January or February of 1972, the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida had opened in late October of 1971.  To quote Rose in Titanic, you could still smell the fresh paint.  

This was taken with a Kodak Instamatic, the square format from the 126 film cartridge is the telltale sign of that.  I had received an Instamatic as a Christmas gift that year or the year before.  For a couple of years I carried two of them, often with color film in one and black and white in the other.  We had a makeshift darkroom in the garage and I could process and print the black and white at home.  

I remember the ticket books, with different values for different rides, you had to decide what you wanted to see.  But just walking in this world of wonders was amazing for a farm boy from nowhere.  

My middle brother worked for Disney for 43 years.  I visited the parks many-many times.  I had a couple of opportunities to get behind the scenes, I have been down the length of the tunnel under Main Street.  The last few years I lived in Orlando, I was buying annual passes. It was fun to run out and have lunch, or just ride the train around the outside and go home.  I read that the train recently went back in service, it had been closed for several years for construction around Space Mountain.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Travel Tuesday : Soloing

This was taken, hanging off the outside of a cable car in San Francisco, based on the photos in the file, it was a solo trip.  I was there to speak at a conference, work travel.  Most of my work travel has been alone.  I have done a fair amount of solo travel to see family. My parents lived out the last of their lives in Florida, and I would fly or drive down for holidays or just to spend time.  I still have two brothers in Florida (at least I did the last time I checked Facebook.)

It was really work travel that got me into the mode of traveling alone.  And over the past 20 years I have done a lot of it.  It was weird at first, being alone, being in charge, no one to blame or help when things go awry, and they will.  But I came to enjoy it.  There were a few times, when being alone away from home got to me, times when I wanted my sweet bear to be there.  

Leisure travel, we almost always do together.  We have accompanied one another on a lot of work trips, the best conference to attend is your traveling companions' conference.  They are tied up in meetings, you get to go explore.  We both enjoy doing that.  

A few times when Sweetie bear had work travel to Europe, we have traveled there separately either because of differences in schedule, or because I was traveling on frequent flyer mile free seats, and he was traveling on seats someone paid for. Often I had better connections than he did.  Then there was the latest trip to Rome, I went from DC, to Detroit, Detroit to Philly, met him in Philly and flew to Rome.  He went from DC to Philly and Philly to Rome. I couldn't get that connection on free seats. And my bag missed the connection in Detroit.  

Last week I did a family obligation trip. My first solo travel since before the pandemic.  It was nice, and also a little alone.  

Monday, July 11, 2022

My Music Monday: “Yesterday When I Was Young” by Willie Nelson

For a lot of reasons, friends and family that are, facing challenges, I have been thinking more than usual about the adventure of life.  The journey we are all on, the uncertainty of how long, or how far.  I love this song.  And I think an older artist like Willie, really nails it. 

Sunday, July 10, 2022

The Sunday Five: How are We Feeling?

  1. When was the last time you laughed out loud? 
  2. What brings you great hope?
  3. Who do you talk with, or turn to in troubling times?
  4. Have you tried turning down the negative feed in your life? 
  5. Do you have enough propps holding you up? 
My answers: 

  1. When was the last time you laughed out loud? I can't remember, meaning it has been too long. 
  2. What brings you great hope? Retirement is 18 months. 
  3. Who do you talk with, or turn to in troubling times? My sweet bear, a few blog friends. Finding someone to listen is often the greatest challenge, let me know if you need an ear. 
  4. Have you tried turning down the negative feed in your life? Less news, less Facebook, not none - but less. 
  5. Do you have enough propps holding you up? I think so, some days I feel like the walkway above.  
Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, July 09, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post : Some things Need a Little Explaining

What is going on in this image. It isn't a very steep staircase into a ceiling.  

My office was asked for input recently on an ethics question.  I circulated the question and got two opposing views, one said the rule is far to liberal and a danger to all who go near, and one it is far to restrictive and a danger to all who go near.  And both are valid points of view.  I can explain both.  

I am sorting out my office, getting ready for a new office sharing arrangement.  I am bringing home some personal items I have accumulated over the years, one was a little sign that reads, "I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you." Kind of rude, but I like it.  

Many of the things we see in life, that we hear in life, that don't make sense, might with a little explanation.  We can explain, understanding is an inside job, like happiness.  

So what is happening above.  It is a stone and concrete staircase from the underside.  What looks like a ceiling at the top, is where the top of stairs join the floor above. You would climb up the other side of what you are seeing. The windows, are a skylight.  This was taken in an aboveground metro rail (subway) station, looking straight up.  Does it make more sense now? 

Friday, July 08, 2022

Fabulous Friday : Flying

Well Actually the fabulous took place on Thursday, I flew from DC to Detroit.  I have flown a couple of times since returning from Dublin on the eve of the Pandemic shutdown.  This was kind of like a return to the past. 

The plane boarded early, left on time, and arrived early.  My bag was on the conveyor by the time I got to baggage claim.  

Having grown up around airplanes, turning onto the active runway is when I know it is go time.  I know the flight crew is calling off the check list, take off power set and achieved, airspeed live, speed markers, take off speed, rotate, positive rate of climb, gear up.  I sat there in row 28 of 29, calling those off in my mind.  

This is my first solo trip in probably three years.  That might be part of it.  It is nice traveling with someone, when I am out alone it is just me.  I have to find the way, figure things out, and solve any problems.  I also don't have to watch out or keep track of anyone. I miss having someone to rely on. I like both, I probably need both.  It has been too long since I was traveling frequently, even longer since I was traveling solo.   

I am staying near the little airport that was home during my early years and teens.  I drove out there.  It is sad.  The old terminal is now offices for a fasciner company.  The new terminal, has some kind of business in it, but it really looked abandoned.  No longer a dealer for Piper or Cessna, or Beech, or Mooney.  No little airplanes parked out back ready to fly.    As they say you can go back, but you really can't go home.  

Well this is less perky than it should be.  But it was fantastic to be flying again.  I can only hope that this is the start of doing this more often.  Of deciding I need to be there, and going.  That is fantastic, that feels so normal.  I return home on Sunday.  In the mean time I am going to try to cheer up my dear sister, and have brunch with a former board member.  

Thursday, July 07, 2022

Thursday Random Rambles : Interesting People

I was lured into Facebook, to help friends play Farmville.  Remember that pain in the ass game that had no end, no way to win?  One of the few good things about FB has been connecting with a few people from decades ago.  A few of them I have unfollowed or unfriended for their hate, but many I get updates from.  

Recently someone I went to high school with, messaged my on FB that she was here in town for "sightseeing and protesting" and asked if I wanted to meet for coffee.  She was staying in the hotel literally above a subway station a couple of blocks from my office (I exited through the station that morning.)   We met at the french bakery next to my office. It was fun.  She is a school psychologist, and has had a good life.  She said growing up her mother was a registered nurse for a local doctor.  Before Roe, her mother would drive patients to New York and stay with them for treatment.  She said, sadly "I may need to follow in her footsteps."  

I am mentoring a bright college student doing an independent research project this summer.  He is doing really great work.  He is from Chicago and went home for the summer, then his parents sold the house and moved, moving him to an apartment in DC, his parents and his dog to a slightly smaller house in Chicago.  I took him to lunch the other day, it was the only time we have met face to face.  We got on the subject of voting, and he said when he went to vote in the recent primary his "dead name" was on the registration list, along with his name.  He said "I am trans." I hope I responded appropriately, I said, "thank you for sharing, and if you hadn't mentioned it I never would have known." Thinking about it, isn't that the way it should be, no one noticed.  He is thin, and kind of shy, just inching past the teenage years. And I see a lot of young students like that.  He is the face of the future.  If I had been brave at that age, as I was a decade later, I could have saved a decade of ugly.  People just want to be who they are. 

This leads me to a commentary on virtual vs. in-person communication.  The level of comfort that brings that level of disclosure, is so much easier face to face when we are reading all of the channels of communication.  I am finding this to be true with the staff members who joined us during remote work.  Being able to spend some time in the same room has lead to greater disclosure, deeper understanding.  

Speaking of post-covid.  I had my first haircut in 30 months last weekend.  My hair, well what is left of it, hung down to my shoulders.  I kept it tied up in a top knot most of the time.  It had never been that long.  Honestly it looked gastly.  I wouldn't have minded aging eccentric look, but it looked more like an unmedicated mad scientist.  

People are interesting, and complex.  

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

The Way We Were Wednesday : My How They Grow Up

Early on in blogging, we made several friends, who have largely stopped blogging through the years.  Stephen in London got me started, one of his commentors was a woman from Iowa, who is now in Alabama (and whose blog I stopped reading when she was touting he who must not be named for President), one of her comentors was Woodchuck who last posted nearly a year ago, he connected us to Secret Squirrel, the two of them worked together.  Woodchuck was at convention about 80 miles from where we were living in 2007, and we met at the Maker's Mark Restaurant in Louisville for dinner.  Much to our mutual relief, none of us were axe murderers.  In 2008 - how can that be 14 years ago, we were in Seattle for a couple of days before and after a cruise to the Alaska, and Woodchuck, Kell (Mrs-Chuck) and their two daughter drove up from Oregon to have lunch with is (and we also met Squirrel, the then Mrs Squirrel, and kids.)  The fine young woman above was about 12 at the time, my how we have changed.  

She was in DC recently for work related meetings, aka, lobbying congress on important issues.  We met her for lunch at a Jose Andres restaurant near Gallery Place.  All of this started with a guest blog post back in 2005.  My how we have grown since then.  

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Travel Tuesday : Boats

 The 5th of July is a great time for me to talk about boats.  From the time I was about 5 years old, when my Aunt Edith married Richard (better known as Dick) the 4th of July Independence Day Holiday was most often spent at their house on the lake.  They owned the house on the lake, because Dick owned a boat, the boat before the house.  It was there that my love of boats developed.  

A leisurely ride around the lake in the afternoon sun, taking the boat out to see the fireworks at night, was always one of the highlights of being there.  

The general theme of bloggers yesterday was grim, lots of feelings of diminished freedoms.  Lots of people thinking the same way.  I see that as a strength, let's remember that and vote.  Back in 2016 I called out a blogger who voted for a third party candidate and really wanted an "outsider" as President.  The long term impact of that one election is the Supreme Court decisions of June 2022.  That is why every election is critical, not just for the short term, but for the longer term impact.  VOTE people, Vote, Vote, Vote! We are all in this same boat together, we must row together, or we will sink together.  

When I was a teenager, K-Mart had aluminum row boats on sale on weekend for $99 adding a second boat to the dock.  Dick shouted directions and I learned to row, and I was free to take the row boat out.  By the time I started to drive the big boat, I was near finishing school and moving south.  They followed a couple of years later, and despite having moved the boat to Florida, it never went in the water again.  The last I knew it was still mildewing away in the far corner of my cousin's yard.  The row boat I believe was included on the sale of the house on the lake, and the buyers offered to pay more if they would take it with them.  

I like boats that move at a slow pace, gently gliding.  I seldom turn down an opportunity to take a ride.  When I was going in for surgery the anesthesiologist asked what I was thinking about, and I said, "how big of a boat I should buy if this goes well." He repeated the old joke that "if it floats, flies or fucks, it is cheaper to rent then own."  Then he told me about the airplane we owned.  

The scene above.  The old Washington Post newsprint warehouse* on the waterfront in old town Alexandria, Virginia has been replaced with million dollar condos, and two nice restaurants along the water.  One of the restaurants has a bar and tables out on a new pier on the water.  The state funded public moorings attached to the pier to encourage people to come in by boat to eat, drink and shop in old town.  I was delighted to see that people are traveling by boat.  

* When the newspaper was printed here in town, paper came in by barge, and was stored along the waterfront.  

Monday, July 04, 2022

Music Monday: Green Green Grass Of Home

I have to admit, it has been hard finding music, to express my feeling on Independence Day here in the United States this year.  Politics have been painful made worse by a politically packed Supreme Court.  I thought about posting God Save the Queen.  May we have more to feel good about this time next year. 

Sunday, July 03, 2022

The Sunday Five : Your Tools

One day recently we spent an hour exploring the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Old Town Alexandria.  And yes, it was a factory that made torpedos for many years.  The space is filled with studios for working for artists.  Really neat.  I was struck by the tools of creativity of some of the artists.  Hence this weeks Sunday five. 

  1. What tools do you use as an artist? 
  2. What tools do you use to write? 
  3. What is your favorite tool in the kitchen? 
  4. Do you have a tool that has been passed down through the generations? 
  5. Where is your favorite place to shop for tools that inspire you?
My answers: 

  1. What tools do you use as an artist? Cameras, lenses, paintbrushes 
  2. What tools do you use to write? Spellcheck and Google
  3. What is your favorite tool in the kitchen? Chef's knives and my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
  4. Do you have a tool that has been passed down through the generations? My maternal grandfather's red level.
  5. Where is your favorite place to shop for tools that inspire you? I love art supply stores. 

Please share your answers in the comments.

Saturday, July 02, 2022

The Saturday Morning Post: Growing Older Happens - Growing Up is Optional

Unashamedly the young boy pulled his pet dinosaur out at the restaurant, and placed it on the table as his family ordered lunch. He politely asked the server to bring a bowl of water for his friend. The innocence of a child, when and why did we lose that, or did we? Can we get it back. 

A few years ago Jay and I were checking into a nice hotel with a view of Niagara Falls, Canada. I grabbed Rodney, our stuffed animal Wombat out of the back seat, and tucked him under my arm as we walked in.  The doorman did a double take and said, "this is Canada we have lots of Beavers."  I turned Rodney around and said, "no tail, he is a Wombat," and we both laughed.  Every time I look at Rodney I think, no tail, Wombat not Beaver. 

Back in 1999 I took and passed the one and only bar exam I will ever take.  I won't revisit the trauma, but sufficient to say it is something most sane people only want to do once. The exam was 90 miles from home.  After ten weeks of studying 10 hours a day, 70 days in a row, I tried to rest.  I packed and drove over the night before to stay in the hotel the exam was being given in.  The most valuable thing I can do at a time like that is be comfortable and rest. When I unzipped my bag in the hotel room Bob was in there.  Bob is one of our oldest and most loyal penguins.  He is medium in build, the perfect size to comfort you.  I hadn't packed him, either he figured out how to unzip and zip the bag, or he had a little help from a sweet little hamster.  He was a great comfort.  (Little Bob, went to Paris with us for Christmas one year, he is about half the size of Bob.) 

Just because the years have passed, doesn't mean I can't enjoy being a little silly along the way.  There is a saying, we don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old when we stop playing.  

Have some fun, play a little this weekend, be unashamed, be silly, be young at heart.   

Friday, July 01, 2022

Fabulous Friday - Movement

 I was a runner for about a decade, I started in my late 20's.  I did a sprint series triathlon (my first) at Sea World in Orlando, on my 30th Birthday - a fabulous way to remember that day.  I still sometimes have dreams where I am running, gliding from step to step, it is a magic feeling. 

Decades and a few traumas later,  and I move slower, but I still love the feeling of movement.  There are few bad walks, and many of them are pure pleasure.  

Back in 2015 I had a short period of being on wheels, rolling the chair under my own power gave me that same fabulous feeling of movement, the same joy.  

I was never a dancer. I talked to a dance professor at Rollins, and he was horrified by the idea of trying to teach a dance class to people who didn't have the right build and natural talent.  I really wish he had. 

When I was in undergrad, during my running days, one of my classmates talked one of the crew (aka rowing) coaches into taking on a couple of boats of older students and teaching us to row crew boats.  It was fabulous, in rhythm you glide across the surface of the water. 

Get out and move, just for the fabulous feeling of movement.