Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Sunday Five : Who, What, When, Where, How and Why

 1: Where are you as you read this? 

2: Where have you been this week? 

3: What have you been up to? 

4: Who have you seen? 

5: Why did you do what you did this week? 

My Answers: 

1: Where are you as you read this? If all has gone to plan, home, in the building behind me when I took this photo. 

2: Where have you been this week?  Southeast Iceland. 

3: What have you been up to?  Time off from work, exploring

4: Who have you seen? My sweet bear, and a ton of strangers 

5: Why did you do what you did this week?  For the adventure 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, April 29, 2023

The Saturday Morning Post: My Saturday Mornings

I am awake by 7:00 most Saturday mornings, maybe a little later if I am up late.  I start the coffee, make toast, settle in and read and comment on blogs.  By about 8:30, I pull some clothes on, and head to the farmers market.  There has been a market on the market square on King Street in Alexandria Virginia since colonial times.  On Saturday mornings there is free parking in the garage underneath the square.  

My first stop is usually Maribeth's Bakery, for my weekly loaf of their asiago cheese bread. I make the rounds, three of the vendors, including Spring Valley shown above grow everything they sell.  I buy what looks good.  I really don't have a plan, beyond the bread of what I am going to buy. In the summer I usually pick up a couple of pastries from the Hollin Hills bakery, also known as pastry boy.  Pastry boy is headed off to college in the fall, it will be interesting to see if the family carries on at the market when he is away at school. 

On the morning this photo was taken, I picked up pickling cucumbers, tomatoes, white turnips, fennel, and a baguette.  

When I get home from the market, I work on my blog.  Most of my posts are written on Saturdays, most of them in the morning, then edited up until they post.  

What does your Saturday morning look like.  

Friday, April 28, 2023

Fabulous Friday: My Life Has Been A Tapestry

One of the first albums I owned was Tapestry, by Carole King.  Our lives are complicated, and our current is shaped by all of the adventures and experiences of our past.  Messages like that connect to my psyche.  This tapestry is on display in the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in DC. It is massive, the photo really does not reflect the scale, my guess is it is 15 feet tall and probably 60 feet long.  It has depth and texture.  If is fabulous.  

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Thursday Ramble: Membership Has Its Benefits


My first membership, was at Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida.  The gardens were a gift to the city from the Harry Leu, a successful local business person who traveled the world, collected plants, and created elaborate gardens and native natural gardens on 50 acres on a small lake on the border between Orlando and Winter Park.  I grew to love an hour walk in the gardens, and the annual membership easily paid for itself.  

The last few years that I live in Orlando, I started buying annual passes to Disney parks.  As I recall it was around $200 year, and included unlimited admission to all of the parks and parking.  My middle brother worked at Disney, and he could get take me as his guest (and did many times) but this was different.  I could go alone. Anytime the mood struck me.  I went out several times, had lunch, watched the crowd, rode the train around the Magic Kingdom and went home.  By the time we left Orlando, I was rather burned out, escaping to Disney for a couple of hours was a way of recharging on a day off.  

When we lived in Kentucky, we maintained a membership at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill.  It was a 30-40 minute drive out there, so we probably went 6 times a year.  The membership was a nice way of supporting the preservation efforts, and a good value for anyone who attended more than a couple of times a year. 

Since I moved here to the DC area, I have maintained a membership at Mt. Vernon.  Mt. Vernon was George Washington's estate.  It is about 8 miles south of where we live.  I enjoy a nice walk in the gardens there.  I can take a friend, let me know if you are in the area. 

Do you maintain memberships in local attractions? 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

My World of Wonders - aka Wednesday Ws, April 26 edition

Where in the World am I? If All has gone to plan, Iceland. 

What have I been up to?  I finished up budgeting (well I am finished, a message from the office and it has gone fubar with changes to how things are to be done in the middle of doing them, if I were there I would be melting down - today it is someone else's problem,) and a board meeting, a data breach at the office, then flew off to escape. I didn't bring my office computer with me, meaning I can't really work. I described this as a week off-grid.  

What have we seen?  The volcanic south east corner of Iceland, sheep, harbors, fishing boats, cliffs, chuches, lighthouses, a ferry to a volcanic Island, a hotel room with a volcano view, one very fast Puffin, and today we check into the hotel Geysir.  

Who have I talked to? My sweet bear, and lots of people I don't know and who don't know me. 

What have I been eating? Fish, fish soup, great bread, a nice salad, and reindeer burger. 

What about my phone and office email? My sweet bear said he would break my fingers if I was replying to office email on the trip.  

Where are we headed? The black sand beaches of Vik. 

What am I reading? I finished Leslie Jordan's bio on the plane on the way here, next up is "Sorry I am late, I didn't want to be here."

Why am I doing this?  I needed this, I planned this, I needed to use up a week of paid time off.  

What was the flight like? A much more comfortable level of pain.  I hate overnight flights, I find them painful.  I spent a little extra and booked Saga Premium  aka Business Class- the food was great, the service was great, the seats were larger and still hard to sit in for 6 non-stop hours. We slept a little and arrived in better shape than usual.  

What is next?  Shudder,  my attitude has improved since getting away.  We have a few more days of exploring, then back.  I have some speaking events on the calendar in May and June, and September and October.  A work trip to Denver in August.  A few more months of fighting the good fight, and not letting the little stuff get to me. 

What else? It is snowing this morning.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Travel Tuesday: West Side Market Cleveland

My oldest Nephew (I have two) is a regional manager for a company that provides cleaning and transportation services to hospitals. He travels a few days a month, to visit the sites they provide services at, or to bid on new contracts.  Recently his wife posted a couple of photos on Facebook, it was spring break and she had gone with him on site visits (she is a school teacher.)  With one photo, I new where they were, Cleveland, and the iconic West Side Market.  I could live across the street from this with a nice kitchen and never be bored.  If you are ever in the jewel by the lake, head out to visit this one. 


Monday, April 24, 2023

Moody Monday: 5 Reasons to Retire as Soon as You Can

I was watching YouTube one rainy afternoon, and this popped up in my feed.  Time is limited. The job is not contributing to your well being.  Time with friends and family.  The best years are limited.  You are financially able. The points hit home for me, and I hope they will hit for others.  He mentions the words overwhelmed and burned out to describe how you feel about your work, is he reading my mind. 

Remember the goal in life is not to see who dies with the most money. 

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Sunday Five: Rental Cars

1: When booking a rental car, do you go for the least expensive or look for what you are most comfortable with? 

2: Do you take all of the extra insurance? 

3: Have you ever returned a rental car without filling the gas tank? 

4: Have you ever refused the car that the rental company handed you the keys to? 

5: Have you ever had a rental car that was new? 

My answers:

1: When booking a rental car, do you go for the least expensive or look for what you are most comfortable with?  Most often I book something nicer than the cheapest. 

2: Do you take all of the extra insurance? No, I have a special policy that covers rentals for a flat fee.  

3: Have you ever returned a rental car without filling the gas tank? Once, in Hawaii, the charge was not nearly as bad as I expected and traffic was impossible. 

4: Have you ever refused the car that the rental company handed you the keys to?  A couple of times, in Detroit, cars that were damaged. 

5: Have you ever had a rental car that was new? In Detroit, a new Ford with 37 miles on it. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, April 22, 2023

The Saturday Morning Post: Tunnels

There may be tunnels in my DNA.  The father of my father's mother, (Paternal-Maternal great grandfather) was a sandhog.  A tunnel digger. He started working  in coal mines in England, moved onto Tube tunnels in London, then to New York. If he hadn't done that work, and had not moved to North America to work, I wouldn't be here.  

His specialty was working in "soft soils" sand or mud. Things like tunneling under rivers or lakes.  Often they would build a wall, and pump in air, raising the air pressure to slow the water seeping in.  If this wasn't done carefully, the workmen suffered from decompression sickness.  A practice that probably shortened his life.  

Most of the New York subway system was built, the way the Wilkes Street Tunnel pictured above was built, a process called cut and cover.  In cut and cover they dig a trench, put the infrastructure in place, build the tunnel and fill back in over it.  Most cut and cover segments are relatively shallow. It is messy on the surface, but fast and much less expensive than digging deep tunnels.  

My great grandfather's work was long before modern tunnel boring machines, the work was done with drills, explosives, shovels, and rail cars to haul out the rock and dirt.  

There are two family legends from his work.  

In Chicago he built a water inlet tunnel under Lake Michigan.  They went a couple of miles off-shore,  lowered a large pipe from the surface to the bottom of the lake, lined it with brick and concrete to make it waterproof, then used that to start tunneling down under the lake floor, turning west and tunneling inland, while another crew started inland and tunneled toward the lake.  Part of how Chicago has fresh water from far enough off shore to not be impacted from contamination from the shore.  Part of the project that reverse to flow of the Chicago River from into Lake Michigan, to away from Lake Michigan so it didn't carry the contamination of the river into the water supply.  

In Detroit he worked on the road tunnel under the river to Canada.  It is shallow, only a few feet below the river bottom.  They were working in compressed air, and had a blow-out.  The compressed air blew the crew up through the bottom of the river.  Most of them came up swimming.  Not all returned to work, he did, finishing the job.  He went on to do a couple of water inlet tunnels out under Lake Huron.

I kind of enjoy tunnels.  The one above you can walk or ride a bike through. If you are in the area I can help you find it.   

Friday, April 21, 2023

Funny Friday: Pay and Display

 One of my old favorites is a British sitcom, "To the Manner Born."  I am not sure what character I most closely resemble, probably the Vicar or Ms. Frobisher. Our robot vacuum cleaner is named Brabinger in honor of the long serving butler.  

In one of the episodes Audrey Forbes-Hamilton is shopping with a horse and pony-trap and parks in front of Ms. Beechams shop.  She comes out and the police are trying to write her a parking ticket because she has failed to pay and display.  A whitty exchange takes place, while the Vicar toots his horn hoping she will vacate the parking space so he can park.  Audrey explains that being that it is a horse and not a car, she has no place to display. I wonder how you park a dog.  Obviously this neighbor has a sense of humor, I hope their point is well taken.  

Are you more like Richard or Audrey?   

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Thursday Ramble: The Slow Road

 We spent a day on the slow road, the old road, stopping, wandering, seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling the north coast of Ohio, or southern shore of Lake Erie.  60 miles in 6 hours slow.  It was bliss.  

What did we experience on this little adventure?  A rocky coast, my limited experience of the great lakes didn't include rocky cliffs.  Water birds, herons, geese, gulls, ducks - I am always surprised by sea gulls, on the lakes. Birds that live near water, not just salt water.  Boats, Lake Erie is a major boaters paradise.  It is early in the summer season. People fishing, a city run fish cleaning station - I should have taken photos.  Fresh Lake Erie fish for lunch, with a view of the lake.  An decommissioned power plant, a looming giant gone silent and being cut up. Water front homes, from modest to massive, homes on the lakes and on canals off the lake.  Several boat ramps.  

Each other.  There is something about a quiet day, just the two of us, wandering, and talking, and randomly stopping to see.  

And being that it is still Pride Month, We Were Seen.  Seen as two people who love one another, living a happy normal life.  We are not roommates, or brothers, we are husband and husband.  We are kind, and generous, and easy to be around.  Parts of where we were are deep red, defend and elect he who must not be named territory, and they saw us being pretty normal. We need to be out and Proud everyday.  

Thursday Ramble: A Different Perspective

A few times a year we go to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to watch and hear the National Symphony Orchestra.  This photo was taken as they were getting set up, the stage and audience were packed a few minutes later.  

We have developed a habit of booking "Our Seats" with that being top and center on this image, front row, close to the stage.  The view is amazing, the sound is good, we are comfortable there.  

For last Saturday night we booked different seats, a box on the side overlooking the stage. We were in the mirror of the box above the piano and harps in this image, front row, the two seats closest to the entrance stairs.  I don't recall the reason we booked different seats, it might be that we needed to reschedule and the seats we normally buy were sold, or maybe it was just the program and wanting to be closer.  But we decided to try something different.  A different perspective.  

Settling in, I was amazed at the view, the closeness to the musicians. With my cheap pocket binoculars I could read the music on the stands in front of me - 4/4 time. Then the heavy brass started tuning up, I looked over the rail to see that there was a tuba just below my right knee.  I always knew there was one, but this was different, I could look right down the bell, I could here the flutter of his lips.  The tuba player is a graying daddy bear with a buzz cut and beard, who looks like he operates a bulldozer when he is not playing with world class orchestras. 

When the pre-show announcements started, we strained to hear, we were behind and below the speakers directing that sound to the audience. Normally we are feet away from them and in front of them.  The different perspective sounded different. 

Then the orchestra started to play.  Smiling from ear to ear, I had to wipe my eyes at what my ears were hearing.  The difference in sound was amazing, it took me back to being in the center of the band in middle school (I played the tuba for a couple of years).  I could feel the sound in a way that you don't from out front and above. A slightly different perspective, and entirely different experience.  

The stage box seats were more expensive than the seats we normally buy.  Will we do it again? Probably.  Would I do it all of the time? I don't know, I think moving around and seeing and hearing from differing perspectives might help me to understand more about the experience.  

A live performance, should be as much about the experience, as the music.  I can sit here at my desk and hear all of the music I want, the recording catalogs of the world are at our fingertips, all from the same perspective.  Seeing a live perspective, I see the space, the concert hall or other venue.  I see the individual musicians, we have our favorites (Oboe Man was back last weekend.) I can hear, see, feel, and yes even smell the music.  Instruments have a smell after they have been played for a while, a smell I had not experience in decades. For brass instruments is a combination of oil and moisture, mixed by the flutter of the lips of the musicians. String instruments are wood, and varnish and age. Saturday night we were close enough to smell the music.  A perspective you seldom experience, and one no recording can reproduce.  

And such is life.  Move around and experience the familiar from different perspectives to expand your understanding. 

Well this is a big improvement.  I had a boring, kinda negative post created, one that I was unhappy with, but I must put out.  The night out, inspired me, hopefully for something better.   


Wednesday, April 19, 2023

My World of Wonders - aka the Wednesday W's for April 19

Well that was a stressful week. 

What have I been up to? Work, work, work.  I had three sets of training materials due, and a surprise of another set due in a rush for something I agreed to do a few weeks ago, and the follow up was delayed.  Budgeting has been complicated, and illogical.  I am glad this will be the last time I have that nightmare to deal with.  I offered to throw myself under the bus to balance the budget if needed (retire at the beginning of the new budget year.) My boss tried again to discourage me from retiring.   

Where have I been? The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts - Symphony Hall Saturday evening for a National Symphony Orchestra performance.  The office, and out for a few walks. The car repair place, the power windows on the convertible needed to be re-programmed, I didn't know that was a thing.   

Who have I talked to? My sweet bear, my colleagues at work,  a couple of delightful neighbors, one of whom is retiring from George Washington University in June, one who works at the Pentagon and never really describes what he does.  I run into them on my morning commute to the office a couple of days a week.  

What am I reading? I hope to finish Founding Gardners this week, and there are a couple of new books loaded on my Kindle.  

What have I been watching? Deadliest Catch is starting a new season,  Battlebots,  and the new season of Parkers Trail, and my YouTube faves.  

Who did I reach out to?  There was an email from the law school I attended that one of my professors is finishing her 35th year of teaching.  I remember her class.  I emailed her congratulating her on making a difference, the things I learned in her class empowered me to make a real difference for two clients, and to be a part of a major research and policy project.  She made a huge difference for me.  In her reply she thanked me, and said it is time to step away, she has decided to retire.  
Two stories from her class.  When handing out an exam, her instruction was if you are not sure of the answer, write something relevant.  She continued that the direction was something "relevant," she used to say write something - anything, and one student gave her all of the words to the Gilligan's Island theme song (original and revised lyrics.) 


I stopped by her office one day, and she asked me wait for a second while she closed a document on her computer.  She was writing exam questions.  A couple of years before she left a draft exam open on her computer and left her office for a few minutes.  She came back and edited the question, taking out one of the parties.  When she graded exams, three students had answered that question discussing the party she had editing out.  One of them had printed the draft question from her office computer while she was away, and shared it with two friends, who also failed for cheating on the exam. 

Who Deserves an Atta-Boy?  Grace for being a memorable law professor.  

Who Deserves a slap? Kentucky for passing liberal gun laws, on the same day of a mass shooting with an AR15 in Louisville.  There are not enough slaps to go around on this one.  

What is being planned?  A training in Pennsylvania near Maddie,  and one in Nebraska in the fall.





Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Travel Tuesday: Things that make me smile

 Putting the top down on the car, on a mild spring day. 

Knowing that the next adventure awaits. 

Spring lambs.

Riding the subway. 

Monday, April 17, 2023

Moody Monday: Two Roads

 Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --- 

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference. 

Robert Frost

I didn't start out to be different, to take the road less traveled, to color outside the lines, to march to the beat of a distant drummer.  But I largely have.  

At times I have tried really hard to fit myself into the normal boxes of life.  In many ways life would be easier, if I were more "normal" whatever "normal" would be.  But I am - who I am. 

In high school everyone thought I would become a professional photographer.  And I eked out a living for a year or so, with my perfection driving me nuts that people were actually paying for my imperfect work. Returning to photography as a hobby, I am still obsessed with it, and if I produce something you want, just let me know you are stealing using it. I am delighted to see it used, but don't really want to be paid.  

I passed the test for a real estate broker, flailed around for a couple of years in traditional brokerage offices, then went on to selling homes for builders.  A narrow limited, not very traditional role for someone with license I had.  Kind of at the peak of that work, I called the boss one day and said, I need some serious time off, like three or four months.  I walked away from a high pressure, high profit job.  With no regrets, the job was killing me. 

I went to law school at mid-life.  I turned 40 the week I started my last year of law school.  I really expected that becoming a lawyer would land me back in the building industry, I know what my former employers get away with, I could make a living suing them.  Then I went off into public interest, non-profit work.  My father never really understood why.  I did it because I found work that fed my soul.  I made a difference in the lives of people who needed someone to make a difference.  I have spent the past 14 years, helping lawyers understand complex issues, making them better lawyers, so they can make a difference in the lives of their clients.  

And rather than work until they find me decomposing at my desk, I am going to retire.  Two people have tried to talk me out of retiring in the past week.  Most people doing what I do, work a few more years. Many of them die with their boots on. I will likely go barefoot into the great beyond.   

The photo above is not a yellow wood, but it is the tracks of the Yellow Metro Rail line, at the station near my home.   

Sunday, April 16, 2023

The Sunday Five: Driving Forces

 1: How old were you when you learned to drive? 

2: If you didn't have to drive, would you stop driving? 

3: Can you drive a manual transmission? 

4: Have you driven an electric or hybrid car? 

5: How many cars have you owned over the years? 

My Answers:

 1: How old were you when you learned to drive? 16

2: If you didn't have to drive, would you stop driving? Probably. 

3: Can you drive a manual transmission? Yes, it has been a few years. 

4: Have you driven an electric or hybrid car? No

5: How many cars have you owned over the years?  I had to pause and count, 16 of them. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, April 15, 2023

The Saturday Morning Post: Step Out There

 So many of us, spend so much of our lives, afraid to do things.  

I urge you to stop outside of your comfort zone.  

Mitchell posted recently about trying to get friends to try fried anchovies with lemon, the one who did liked them. 

Jay organized, and we have started hosting an LGBTQ residents group here at the Condo.  There is alway that unease of will anyone show up. who will show up, will they like us, will we like them. It pushes us outside of our comfort zone.  April's gathering was six delightful neighbors, a small gathering, we drank, ate and talked for four hours, getting to know others, expanding our comfort zone. And after most of a bottle of Cabernet, I slept for 9.5 hours. 

Travel to new places, places that you have not been, places where you don't know anyone, or don't know the language.  

Do things that frighten you.  The photo above is me standing in one of the glass boxes on the top floor of the Sears Tower in Chicago.  1,000 feet above the ground, stepping out onto a glass floor.  It took a little self talk to do it, and I am so glad I did. 

Friday, April 14, 2023

Fabulous Friday: Flashback Moment

 I love the desert landscape, and looking at this I had a flashback to that day.  I was visiting friends in Phoenix, and drove out east of the city, and up into the mountains so explore the landscape.  Places I had not been since the winter my family had spent in Phoenix when I was in the first grade.  Shortly after this photo was taken my phone binged, and I had a message that the final closing on Dad's house was taking place in Florida.  They needed one more form signed by me.  I drove into Apache Junction, Arizona, stopped at an office supply superstore, got the form printed, scanned and sent back to the lawyers in Florida.  At the next traffic light I had a message that the buyers had the key and the check was on its way to me.  

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Thursday Ramble: Neurodiversity

A dear friend of mine is changing jobs, in part due to a lack of understanding and accomodation by her firm. The response to a request for software to manage distractions, to help accommodate ADHD, was met with, "try harder." If she is going to pay for the software, she is going to pay for it in her own office. A real disappointment in that this makes it clear the organization does not recognize how to accommodate valuable talented colleagues, or the clients they serve.  The H part of her brain, makes her incredibly productive, capable of doing things others can't.  And a scream to visit a museum with, she may be faster than I am in the been there seen that category. 

We have a couple of neighbors who are high functioning autistic.  I think both of them are talented mathematicians, there is something about the way their brain works, that makes them especially talented in complex mathematical relationships. They see things differently than 99% of the people and that enables them to do things the rest of us can't do.  They just shy away from crowds and strangers.  

Some Pacific Islander cultures see dementia in later life as the person entering a higher level of consciousness.  The person is no longer distracted by the past, no longer haunted by memories, and sometimes no longer constrained by societal expectations.  The Person has entered into a state of being able to concentrate on being, a talent few of us develop.  

Collin, of the YouTube channel Foxes Afloat has posted a couple of times about his life with Autism and ADHD.  His openness and honesty about his life experience are enlightening.  He has learned to recognize the triggers that cause him to melt down.  He has been slower to acknowledge what an incredibly talented content creator he is.  He writes most of the content, does much of the filming and editing.  The way his brain works, empowers him to do things many people can't do. 

The older I get the more I understand how different people, think and process information differently. What works for others, does not work for me, because of the quirky way my brain is wired.  What works for others, does not always work for me.  And that is okay, I try to leverage what I am best at, and work on trying to expand the spectrum of my ability. 

I try hard to not impose on others, my way of processing information, I try to learn from how they see the world in ways that are different than mine.  


Wednesday, April 12, 2023

My World of Wonders - Ws, Mid April edition

What have I accomplished this week?  I took Friday off from work, had the oil changed in my car, had my hair cut, and bought supplies for a little party.  I worked on some funding stuff in the office.  

Who have I seen this week?  Last Friday was our monthly LBGTQ condo resident gathering.  Half a dozen people showed up, and we talked and nibbled on goodies for four hours. 

Where have I been? Close to home.  I was in the office three days, because I forgot to bring my office computer home with me when I was scheduled to work at home the next day, and needed it to access a writing project I needed to finish up.  Local walks and errands.  

What have I been reading?  Founding Gardeners, a book about the farming and gardening of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Franklin - nicely written.  And Ari Shapiro's bio. It is good, but not what I was expecting.  I am working both of those at once.  

When am I expecting change?  We have an adventure coming up soon, that I may or may not write about before it is over. I should know by early May if my retirement date will be the end of August, or the end of December.  I am fine with either, and there are merits to both, it is a matter of what works best on the office budget.  

Who have I been in communication with?  Doc Spo, and the adult daughter of a high school friend.  

HoW have I been feeling?  Better. 

Who deserves a slap? The Tennessee legislature, five out of five. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2023