Saturday, September 30, 2023

Saturday Morning Post - Saturday Here In the Park

He is good, very good, playing for the love of playing, music for the masses in the park. We are fortunate living here, that there are a lot of great street musicians.  Often they have box for tips, sometimes they have CDs for sale - though that is becoming rare as fewer and fewer people seem to be buying physical recordings.  I still do.  My car is a little older, and has a six-disc in-dash CD player that recently jammed, I am not sure what I will do if it does not become unstuck.   This car does not have bluetooth, I have stopped loading music on my phone.  

I was in the school band for a couple of years, I played the tuba.  I struggled to learn to read music.  I have excuses for that, but perhaps I just didn't have a teacher that knew how to teach music the way my brain works.  Looking back I don't regret dropping band, but I do regret the way I did it.  I was struggling and unhappy, but I let the band down at a challenging time.  

I have wondered at times if I should try again.  I saw an ad recently for a private music school offering adult classes.  I think I would try strings, viola looks like fun and I like the sound.  Maybe this is another idea for after work. 

My taste in music is eclectic. Classical, to jazz, to pop, some rock, folk, some country, very little rap or hip-hop. I like instrumental, if there are vocals I want to be able to hear and mostly understand the lyrics.  I will listen to almost anything.  Some of it moves me. There is almost always music playing when I work.  

Do you play music? If not would you like to learn to play? 

Friday, September 29, 2023

Funny Friday: The Evil Machine

 I have decided that Keurig is evil. First thing in the morning, I all I want is one large slightly cooled cup of coffee.  At home we set it up the evening before, I walk in to the kitchen, press the button, put a couple of ice cubes in the glass, wait 4-5 minutes and the magic elixir of life, the source of essential caffeine is ready to pour. 

In theory coffee from a Keurig should be easy, pour in the water, pop in the pod, snap it closed and magic happens.  In reality, there are six steps that must be followed in the precise order, before you have  coffee.  After coffee following those six precise steps might not be an issue, but before coffee it is cruel and evil to expect anyone to follow the steps - in order.  And heaven forbid you do not do the steps in order, the damned thing won't work. 

If I used one regularly, I would easily learn the steps, in order.  I am very good at such repetitive tasks. But, I only encounter them when I am traveling and some impressionable innkeeper has followed the latest trend, and put them in the room.  I spend an above average number of nights in hotels, but not enough to learn and remember the steps in the proper order.    All I want is caffeine, not a test of my memory before coffee.   

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Thursday Ramble: The Kitchen - One Year Later

It has been about a year since the kitchen remodel was finished.  And I realized I have not updated on this project, I don't know as I have posted more than a photo or two.  

I have to say, not a week goes past when I don't think and say out loud, how much I love the kitchen.  We are limited on space, we couldn't move a wall, we needed to work within the footprint. Moving plumbing is incredibly expensive in a high rise building.   

The original design had the refrigerator were there are now cabinets, and the wall that the refrigerator and cabinets are on, was left blank for an "eat in kitchen." We never used it that way and yearned for a bit more counter space.  So there was a lot of redesign work to do.  We moved the refrigerator, added cabinet, had a matching liner installed in the "pantry" with adjustable shelves.  In the original design the corner was dead space, the lower cabinet now has a "lazy-susan" the upper cabinet doors that open to reveal the entire corner.  The extra wide drawers on the far right, and under the cooktop are amazing.  In the design we were down to moving 2-3 inches from place to place, widening the counter between the cooktop and the oven cabinet by three inches made a huge difference.  The tall narrow cabinet below and to the right of the sink contains cookie sheets and cutting boards.  

The functionality of the kitchen more than doubled.  

We went with a single sink to pick up 4 or 5 inches of counter space.  I went as wide and as deep of a sink as I could, and we love it.  It is much more useful than the standard double stainless sink.  It also cost about three times what the contractor allowed for a sink.  Under it is a 3/4 horsepower garbage disposal, the top of the line from a major manufacturer.  It does the job very well.  

We had a glass cooktop for a couple of years before the remodel, and both hated it.  Gas is not an option in the high rise.  We bought a single countertop induction unit, to see what we thought, I was convinced in about five minutes.  We wanted larger surface units, and struggled to find what we wanted.  We ended up with a Jenn Air, with four large zones, that are mergeable to two jumbo zones. It is fast. It is easy to clean. We continue to be very happy with it. 

I had long dreamed of having two ovens.  We are also use to having a microwave.  We considered a dozen options.  I had fallen in love with the massive stainless steel vent hoods.  Making an over the range microwave a compromise.  One of appliance salesmen said, "you will cringe at the price, but I have the answer."  He was right, the lower oven is a convection oven, the upper oven is a convection oven, and a microwave both in one.  It took a couple of times reading the directions to figure out how it works. It is amazing.  I can bake two things at different temperatures at the same time.  Why wall ovens, I don't bend over very well, lifting things in and out of an oven at knee height is a safety concern for me.  The wall ovens are much more accessible. (I had a spinal fusion back in 2015.) 

The refrigerator is the loudest kitchen appliance.  Not that the refrigerator is noisy, the dishwasher is that quiet.  A standard cycle including drying is 183 minutes, so it is not fast, but it does a great job, and it is so quiet.  

We searched and searched for backsplash tile, really the only permanent color in the kitchen.  What we found is made from recycled glass, and really hits the high note for color.  

One feature that is not shown, to the right of the refrigerator, is a shallow cabinet, floor to ceiling, it is about 8 inches deep with doors on the front.  If holds an amazing about of stuff, spices, baking supplies, it was shockingly expensive, but worth every penny.  

In short we are very happy with the kitchen. 

Are there any regrets?  The installation was hurried and detail is not as fine as it should have been.  The tile next to the hood, is not well lit.  But I am fussy. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

My World of Wonders, aka The Wednesday Ws

What have I been up to?  I spoke last week at a conference in Pennsylvania, it was so nice to have a live in-person audience.  I could make eye contact and see if they laughed at my jokes.  I drove, about 500 miles over four days. Travel penguin was with me (of course he almost always is.) 

What surprised me this week? My sweet bear, pre-ordered a new phone from the big name with a new phone being released, and was able to get a delivery appointment on the first day of sales at 9:15 in the morning.  We expected to have to wait. 

When is the next adventure?  Mid October. 

Who have I talked with? Beyond the usual of my sweet bear and work colleagues, a bunch of people at the Conference, including a couple of old friends, and the first lawyer I ever co-trained with, and after the conference on the way home Mistress Maddie.  He really does exist.  Travel Penguin approved, we talked for five hours. I have met my match in being able to carry on a conversation.  

Who else have I seen? The Penn State football team was staying in the same hotel in Harrisburg. I rode down in the elevator on Saturday morning with six of the players. I asked how many football players can you stuff in an elevator, and one of them said about 10 and then the overweight alarm goes off and the door won't close. They made me feel small. I bet we could stuff in a few more. 

What am I up to this week?  A few office duties that are time critical, need to be done before the end of the month.  

What surprised me this week? That last Thursday's post about what bugs me these days, drew a record or near record number of comments.  

What terrified me this week?  I made elections to start an old pension from years ago. Once I reached a certain age, unless I was still working for them, the amount of the payout does not increase.  Paperwork submitted.  

Who deserves a slap this week? Ms. Garmin for taking me the soulless all expressway route last week, I ignored her part of the way coming home.  1 out of 5 slaps. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Travel Tuesday: Denver Art Museum

I have featured a few works from the collection on Fridays, but here is a major photo dump.  The museum is in two buildings, connected by an overhead walkway.  The entrance is in this spectacular building, the second building looks like a high rise prison from the outside, and has a heart of gold on the inside. 


Monday, September 25, 2023

Moody Monday: Job Description for the Future

I read a book recently that I didn't really like, but there were a couple of take aways - there always seem to be. One concept was if you have spent your entire adult life with a job, a set of responsibilities and expectations, you may lack direction when you don't.  Hence my quest to draft a job description for after January 5th, 2024.  Who am I, what do I need to do, what do I want to do? 

My job will be to become more involved in my community, I will no longer have the excuse of things happen that conflict with my work schedule, and when I am not working I need some downtime.  I want to participate in more community activities, to contribute the greater good of the place I call home. 

I want to shop and cook differently.  We shop the way our mothers did, with one major shopping run once a week (for my mother it was often every other week, with a freezer full of beef.) I want to shop every two or three days, looking for what inspires me and cooking fresh.  I want to be more creative, to practice some of the master arts of the kitchen. 

I want to travel, some purposefully, some randomly.  I will take trips with detailed plans, and plan trips that take form as they are progressing.   

I want to become more involved in the arts.  I need to take a class or two a year, to practice new arts, and to pick-back-up painting, and of course to take lots and lots of photos.  

I will continue to read, maybe even finding my way into my local library, and continue to write.  

When I wake up and can't think of what to do today,  I will come back and reread this post.  

Sunday, September 24, 2023

The Sunday Five: Workplaces

 For many of us, work has changed radically over the past four years.  Covid brought lock-down and remote work, and for those of us whose work does not require a physical presence in the workplace, workplace has been redefined. After three plus years - how do we really feel about it? I was going to write an essay on this, and thought why not see how others feel before I do. 

1: Are you or someone in your household working remotely full or part time? 

2: Do you (or they) find it to be more productive or less productive? 

3: How well do you separate work and personal life? 

4: Do you (or they) miss being in the workplace? 

5: What is the best/worst part of remote work? 

My answers: 

1: Are you or someone in your household working remotely full or part time? I am remote three days a week, in the office two days per week.  The sweet bear is retired. 

2: Do you (or they) find it to be more productive or less productive? I am probably more productive working at home, because the time I would spend commuting, is often spend as extra hours working. 

3: How well do you separate work and personal life? I have always been terrible at it.  I do log off my office computer, but I keep thinking and when you get paid to think, you never really stop working. 

4: Do you (or they) miss being in the workplace? I miss being around other people in the office.  We pack a lot into a couple of days a week in the office, but most of the rest of the office is abandoned. 

5: What is the best/worst part of remote work? The best part is fewer hours of commuting, I miss the hours on the train (great reading time.) The worst part is not seeing anyone beyond a small circle of colleagues.  

Please share your answers in the comments. 

Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Saturday Morning Post: Reading, Writing, Learning

Soda Springs, Idaho 

At college I took an advanced writing class that was taught in a format of reading primary sources, writing about the issue, re-reading the sources, and revising the writing. The theme for the semester was learning theory, and we read a variety of points of view of how people learn, how to teach.  Writing about them, comparing them, agreeing and disagreeing with the concepts.  I learned a bit about teaching and learning and a whole lot more about how to develop thoughts and write.  The topic was a good fit for me, serious non-fiction, more theory than facts.  Here I am decades later still wringing new understanding out of the experience. I have to say, that class changed me. 

I was not an enthusiastic reader growing up.  In my 20's I was working in field offices, with long periods of boredom, and intense periods of profitable work.  I started reading to fill the hours when nothing was happening, but we had to be there for when it did happen.  A couple of books a month probably on average.  I wish I had kept a list of everything I have read.  I started doing so a few years ago.  

I am on pace for more than a book a week this year.  I have already finished 45 books, have two I am reading at the moment and several more on my Kindle waiting to start (and a couple of print books waiting.) Even books that I don't like, usually have something to offer.  

I have known since elementary school that my writing needed improvement.  I worked on it in college, and it was better, but it was still a struggle.  About a dozen years ago, I decided to work on it.  I read a few books (probably more than a few, when I dive into a question, I usually read enough to earn a degree in it.) One recurring idea was that to write better, write more.  Part of the reason I committed to blogging daily, is it forces me to create a few coherent (well mostly so) pages of text each week.  

And my writing, at least from my perspective has become better.  It is easier, faster, and clearer.  Even my spelling has improved.  

Three of us in the office have co-authored a 138 page soon to be released book. Doing an edit and read through, I realized I can tell who wrote what parts of it.  I learned that I am not the only one whose brain writes in particular patterns.  We are melding it together in a single text.  

Three simple take aways,

Read voraciously, 

Write more, the more you write the better and easier it is,

Keep learning, and by reading and writing you will keep learning. 

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Thursday Ramble: What Bugs Me These Days

Misuse of the term "abandoned."  I will admit law school spoiled this one for me. Abandonment requires a surrender of all claims of ownership.  When I park my car out back, and don't move it for a month, I have not abandoned it, unless I no longer claim to own it. 

I hear the term abandoned used for vacant or unused property that someone still owns, m brain screams that is not right. If it was abandoned anyone could just move in, start using it, claim ownership.  Trash tossed in the bin, is abandoned, a building left vacant, or a car parked and unused is not abandoned.  Bugs me, the term has a precise meaning.  

Celebrities.  I occasionally look at, I have no idea who 99% of the people they are reporting on are, and even less idea why anyone would care what they are doing.  

Spam comments.  If you want to advertise on my blog, Google will be glad to sell you space.  All you do is test my ability to report and delete. 

People who stop and block traffic to pick up or drop off passengers.  All to often it is a massive black SUV.  Often there is a parking space a few car lengths away, sometimes they spot and block the parking space they should have pulled into.  At times I wish I could write traffic tickets.  

People who question if I am serious about retiring, or ask, what will I do? 

The following three are a matter of there is an appropriate time and place for everything, and this is not it.

  • People smoking pot on the sidewalk.  If I walked down the street drinking from a bottle of bourbon, society would look down on me.  Legal or not, there are social norms to observe. 
  • People, mostly teenagers, who are loud and disruptive on the subway.  Again there are social norms, to living in a civilized society.  
  • People holding obviously personal conversations, on mobile phones in public. Passersby don't need to, don't want to hear the ugly details of your family life. 
Well I feel better. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

My World of Wonders aka the Wednesday Ws September 20 edition

Where have I been?  The office, to Gentlemen's Quarters for a haircut, picked up shirts from the cleaners, the farmers market, and the Colonial Fair at Mt. Vernon.  

Who have I seen?  Rocco for a great haircut, the gang in the office, my sweet bear.  

What have I been up to? Work, doing preparation for a bunch of upcoming training and presentations, a board meeting, walking on the treadmill in the gym.  Staying busy. 

How have I been sleeping?  Generally very well, 8 hours most nights, a little more once in a while.  

When am I headed out?  This morning.  

What have I been thinking about? Balance in life, staying busy, not letting parts of life, outweigh others.  

What have I been reading?  Oprah's new book on happiness, and a collection of essays by John Muir. 

What do I need to do? Finish signing up for retirement.  The paperwork is sitting here.  

What have I been doing?  Getting away from writing checks by setting up more online options.  

Who deserves a slap this week?  Mt. Vernon, they are allowing Bret Baier from Fox News to speak - I sent them a strongly worded letter. 4 out of 5 slaps. 

Who deserves an atta-boy this week? My team at the office, who made their first board meeting work.  

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Travel Tuesday: Mt. Vernon Colonial Market and Fair

Each fall Mt. Vernon host a colonial market and fair. They invite artists and vendors to set up on a 12 acre field. I have gone probably a dozen times.  I have to say, this year was one of the best, the weather was mild, the field was dry, and there were more vendors than in recent years (though prices were up - no real bargains to be found.) It was a great time out. One of the many joys in our neighborhood.