Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Travel Your Own Way

I will be honest, I think recumbent bicycles are silly looking things, but the people who ride them, seem to love them. And it is their ride, their way of traveling, not mine. 

I love to fly, there is still a moment of magic for me when the plane gains speed and lifts off, and when coming over the perimeter fence on landing. Sometimes flights are uncomfortable, sometimes those sitting around me are annoying, but I still love the experience.  It is my thing, it makes me happy.  If it is not your thing, that is fine. Go your own way. 

I have a dear friend who has been known to drive from the midwest to Portland, Oregon and back in a week.  Driving is his thing, he enjoys it, he is really good at it.  He has been driving since he was about 14 - that is okay he was flying airplanes unsupervised when he was 15. I tolerate driving in short spurts. Two or three hours, and I am ready to check into a Hilton and start again tomorrow. I like my little car, Jay's Mercedes is certainly comfy and elegant, and we can drive 800 miles in a 12 hour day, but I prefer not to.  It is not my thing. 

A dozen years ago, my boss and I were going to a conference in Boston, I rode the train up, and flew back.  He couldn't understand why I would take a 10 hour train ride, when I could fly it in little more than an hour.  It was one of the most memorable train rides of my life, north of New York City, along the coast the train moved through a coastal fog for two or three hours. It was pure magic.  The only reason I flew home was I couldn't get a train out of Boston to return home, late enough in the day.  

A Sunday five a few months ago, made it clear that most of my commenters are not interested in a cruise ship.  I understand. It has been 15 years since my last cruise, I rather enjoyed them, we will see how the next one goes. 

I am in a digital detox, without access to the internet for a couple of weeks.  Please comment, but I won't read or reply to comments until about May 12th.   

Monday, April 29, 2024

A Digital Life

I was 8 years old, when we had a phone installed in the house for the first time.  One phone, wired to the wall in the dining room, rotary dial, and a party line.  About 8 years later, when my parents bought a house to retire to in Florida, I had a phone in my bedroom, plugged into the wall. I remember phone service in my first house in Orlando in 1982, a private line and the bill including tax was $7.77 a month. That was technology, before a digital life.  

I started law school in August of 1996, and my first email address came with that.  To check mail, I had to be on campus, and go to a terminal, log in, check messages, send messages.  Shortly after that I opened my first web-mail account, a free service of a major software company.  I could check that account from anyplace that had an internet connection, and lots of patience.  Later that fall, I bought my first home computer, then a few weeks later my first cellular or mobile phone.  I was paying $30 a month, for 30 minutes of calls only, in a limited geographic service area.  Additional minutes were about 50-cents per minute, long distance was over $1 per minute.  I was traveling 164 miles a day to and from classes, having a phone in the car made me feel safer. 

A few years later we upgraded at home to a cable modem, and faster and faster computers. My first flip-phone had a basic camera, I think the file size was less than one megapixel, and it was impossible to get the photos off of the phone.  

We were planning a trip to England a couple of years later and I wanted a phone that would allow international calls.  The answer was a Blackberry, it had email, maps, a basic web search, and multi band phone service, actually good and fairly priced international phone and data service. 

My first web postings were on Virtual Tourist, and the Mirror Project.  Then I guest blogged for Stephen one summer and started blogging. Facebook came as a favor to a blogger, who was recruiting people to play Farmville. And slowly a digital life was built.  Reading blogs, posting on my blog, checking email, text messages, news, YouTube, and FB are a constant from the first thing in the morning, until I am in bed at night.  I have a bed computer, a small laptop that lives in the side of my bed, always within reach.  

It is time for a digital detox.  A couple of weeks without reading, and commenting, a couple of weeks without looking at digital content.  I know I can do it.  I have planned for it.  There are blog posts scheduled to post, please comment, but I won't read and respond to comments for a couple of weeks.  

Part of the digital detox is to prove that I can do it (I hope) and part of it is necessity, I will be offline, because I will be traveling and not have access for several days. The ship has internet service available for a sizable fee and a warning that it will remind you of AoL dial-up in 1995.  

I should be back online around the 12th of May.   

So where am I going? 


A transAtlantic Cruise

Port calls in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa

Port calls in Spain, (hopefully lunch with Mitchell) 

A couple of days in Barcelona, 

Southeastern France - taking time to explore without a forced march,

Train to Paris, 

Fly Paris to London, and London to Washington Dulles in an A-380 (I have never been in one.)

Special thanks to Susan and Ana for house sitting for us while we are away.  

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Take her to sea, Mr Mudock

The Sunday Five: Quiet Times in Grand Spaces

The next time I am in a grand space, I need to pause, put down the camera, have a seat, and absorb the wonders of the place.  The thought that went into designing the space. The dedicated craftsmen who brought the architects design to life. The details in the finish, the art within the space.  And the way people pass through it.  Do they notice any of it? Do they notice me noticing them. 

1: When was the last time you sat on a bench for five minutes in a grand space and just absorbed what was around you? 
2: Do you check your phone when you pause for a few minutes? 
3: Do you take walks without a phone or camera? 
4: Has your phone rang in a quiet space? 
5: Do you find this space pleasing? 

My Answers: 
1: When was the last time you sat on a bench for five minutes in a grand space and just absorbed what was around you? Probably a month ago when I took this photo. 
2: Do you check your phone when you pause for a few minutes?  All too often yes. 
3: Do you take walks without a phone or camera? I have a couple of times recently, it is hard to leave the phone behind. 
4: Has your phone rang in a quiet space? My most embarrassing was my phone started ringing on final approach on an airline flight, I had forgotten to put it on airplane mode. 
5: Do you find this space pleasing? Yes, very relaxing. 

Please share your answers in the comments. 
I will be taking a break from the Sunday Five in May, it will return in June if not before. 

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Where is the art

 This was taken a few weeks ago, when the trees were blooming.  I was looking at the art in the gallery, and then I noticed the view out the window.  Is the prettier picture inside or outside. 

I will depart from my regularly scheduled posts for a month or so, to make way for a grand adventure.  There are posts, but not on the usual themes.  The wifi at the first stop on this adventure stinks. My digital detox is starting ahead of schedule by a couple of days. 

Friday, April 26, 2024

100 Ways to Slightly Improve Your Travel Experience: #3 Speeding Through Check in and Security

Recently three of us were dropped off at the Cincinnati airport at the same time.  We agreed that we would meet up just after the security checkpoint, and go to lunch together, we had a couple of hours before flight time. In other words we were on time for our flights.  

K. had checked in online and was carrying baggage on board only, B had not checked in needed to check a bag, and I had checked in online and was checking a bag.  I was the only one of the three with TSA Pre-Check. I was the first one through security.  K was about 15 minutes behind me, and was pulled for secondary inspection because of a bottle of water in her bag.  It took B about 20 minutes to check in, check a bag, and wait in the security line.  None of us are inexperienced travelers, K has flown around the world. 

So what are the tips?

1: Check in online, if you can PRINT your boarding pass before you get to the airport. 

2: If you are checking bags, use the automated machines to print the bag tag (and boarding pass if needed.) 

3: Enroll in TSA Pre-check or what ever express lane option is available in your country.  I pay for Global Entry, (in other countries this system goes by other names) giving me the express lane at customs and immigration and the express lane for airport security. Yes I pay for that, about $20 a year, but the screening is easier and the wait much shorter.  

4: Be prepared for security screening.  Before I enter security I empty my pockets into my messenger bag, keys, wallets, phone.  If I am wearing a belt that will set off security it goes in.  With Pre-Check I can keep my shoes on unless the shoes have a lot of metal in them (and I won't wear something like a heavy pair of boots to travel in for that reason, the hiking boots or waterproof shoes go into the checked bag.) Toss the oversized liquids before you get there.  If I am wearing the larger mechanical watch it has to go in the bag (it will set off the metal detector.)  


Thursday, April 25, 2024

The Thursday Ramble: I Can't Paint, But I Do Paint

I have long struggled to get the image in my brain, through my hands and onto paper or canvass.  My drawings and doodles don't end up looking anything like the image in my mind.  This mystified my father who seemed to have an innate talent for drawing and the couple of times he tried painting his work was amazing (he didn't stay at it because he didn't know what to do with the paintings and it cost money.) 

I do enjoy playing with paints and colors.  I find it very relaxing, very zen.  So I paint, despite the fact that my painting of an apple looks more like a moldy pumpkin in January.  

I love the mid-century modern color blocks, and liniar art.  Some of mine turn out better then others.  This one is the colors of spring leaves, the one below the mauves and pinks of the spring bloom. 

 So there is what I have been painting recently.  These are all the same size, 10 by 20 inches.  I like working in this size.  I have several more canvases in this size waiting for me. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

My World of Wonders, aka the Wednesday Ws April 24, 2024

Where have I been? Not far from home, Old Town Alexandria a couple of times, Dyke Marsh, and Huntley Meadows.  

Who have I reached out to?  Hillary, Omar, Erica (people I have worked with), Ruth a dear neighbor, Professor Powell from law school and discovered that he is retiring from U of L to take a post at a Law School here in DC.  

Who have a talked with?  Susan a dear neighbor, random strangers as I am known to do. 

What have I been reading?  Zorba the Greek, a reread. 

What have I been watching?  The riggers and crane operator just outside our windows last Friday.  The hunky rigger was rather athletic. 

What am I listening to?  Simon and Garfunkel as I write this. 

What am I going to miss this year? Most likely the Indianapolis 500, I will be away from home on race day. 

When is the next adventure?  Soon, very soon. 

Who deserves a big THANK YOU this week? Bobbi for connecting me with a nice little consulting project.  

What made me very happy this week?  I found Travel Penguin,  he had been missing for several weeks, and I feared the worst.  He has been with me for over 20 years. I was afraid that he had gotten tossed with a bag that broke on the trip to New Haven in February.  He was in a seldom used pocket in my messenger bag, he is now in a private compartment. 

What am I doing next?  Posts will follow daily, I am going to take a little digital detox starting on Sunday for a couple of weeks. Off on a grand and much desired adventure.  Carry on!


Monday, April 22, 2024

Moody Monday: Feeling Springy

Spring is the season of new beginnings, rebuilding, refreshing.  I had a delightful walk in Huntley Meadows the other day, the dogwoods were blooming with all of the new leaf growth.  If feels very springy here.  

The Condo is also undergoing a bit of refreshing.  The lobbies and hallways are heated and cooled by massive industrial units on the roof of the towers.  A dozen of them in all.  The units are original to the buildings - so they are about 35 years old.  Plans have been underway to replace and update them for a couple of years.  And last week the old units were lowered to the ground, and new units lifted into place. We had a ringside seat, the photo above was taken from the sliding glass doors of our balcony with a 10mm super wide angle lens.  The crew worked for about 4 hours, about 50 feet from our backdoor.  

Feeling refreshed and renewed and ready for adventure. 


Sunday, April 21, 2024

The Sunday Five: When You Grow Up

1: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

2: When you finished high school, what did you expect to be when you grew up? 

3: Did you end up doing what you expected to do when you went on for further education? 

4: Have you had any mid-life changes of career?

5: Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? 

My Answers:

1: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Rich - beyond that no clue. 

2: When you finished high school, what did you expect to be when you grew up? A professional Photographer. 

3: Did you end up doing what you expected to do when you went on for further education? No, I went to law school at mid life expecting to do construction defects litigation and never did a single case in that area of the law. 

4: Have you had any mid-life changes of career? A couple of them. 

5: Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? I guess this is it, a happy man of quasi lesure.  I really thought a million dollars would be worth a whole lot more than it is today.

Please share your answers in the comments.  

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Saturday Morning Post: Taking Care of Yourself

 How do we take care of ourselves? 

  • Get enough sleep, you will be more productive working fewer hours and sleeping more.  How many hours, smash your alarm with a hammer and let your body tell you 
  • Eat well.  Eat things you enjoy, eat slowly, eat a variety of foods.  
  • Move regularly.  Walk, run, swim, ride a bike, do chair yoga, move the best way you can.  A body in motion, tends to remain in motion.  
  • Spend time alone.
  • Read, read lots, read things that interest you, read about things you know nothing about, read things you disagree with. Read and comment on blogs. 
  • Maintain social contact, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and strangers. 
  • Spend time doing things you enjoy.  
  • Find balance in your life. 
  • Write, tell your story, write fiction, write poetry, write for yourself, write for others. 
  • Listen to music, make music, listen to the rhythms of the forest and the street. 
  • Find an artistic outlet, and indulge yourself. 
  • Laugh, if you can't remember the last time you laughed, it has been too long. 
  • Love yourself, 
  • Love others, 

Friday, April 19, 2024

100 Ways to Slightly Improve Your Travel Experience: #2 Check a Bag When Flying

Carry on only saves you a few minutes at baggage claim, but costs you schlepping bags through security, onto the plane, stuffing them in an overhead bin, if there is space, often being force to gate check the bag, and limits what you can take with you. 

Checking a bag frees you from acting as porter and baggage loader/unloader and allows you to take a full size tube of toothpaste with you without fear of being selected for secondary screening and having it confiscated at the airport.  With a checked bag, I can move up a size on the bag, and toss in a second pair of shoes, and an extra shirt or two. I always have space to bring home something special that I find when I am traveling.   

I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have traveled without checking a bag.  It happens on a very rare one night trip, maybe when time was tight on the other end to get to where I needed to be after the plane arrived, or the time I went to office and learned that I needed to be in Florida the next morning at 9:00 AM to sign paperwork selling Dad's house, bought a plane ticket, booked a rental car and hotel, and went to the airport without returning home (I was carrying a change of underwear and a fresh shirt in my messenger bag because travel was unpredictable at that time.) 

I get free checked bags on the two airlines I fly most often as an airline credit card perk.  I pay an annual fee on those cards of about $100 a year, if I fly three or four times a year, I save that back in checked baggage fees what the cards cost me. I get earlier boarding zones as a perk, making it more likely that there is room in the overhead for my messenger bag (that I never leave home without.) And the airline miles add up from using those cards to pay day to day expenses.  Again this spring we will be flying transAtlantic on seats paid for with airline miles that were mostly earned buying groceries.  

Unburden your travel, check a bag.  

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Thursday Ramble: Changing a light bulb

A true tale.  I moved to the Space Coast of Florida a few years after black-Friday. When the Apollo project finished NASA terminated 10,000 employees one Friday - locally known as black-Friday.  The surrounding communities of 20,000- 30,000 residents took years to recover.  There were Phd physicists teaching in the public schools so they didn't have to move away from a place they had grown to call home.  

I went to work in a local real estate office, and one of my office mates was an electrician, who had worked on the launch systems for the moon rockets.  He was selling real estate, doing a little electrical work on the side, and hoping he could return to full time electrical work.  There were only a handful of full time industrial electrician positions on the Space Coast.  

He had done some thrilling things like connect the power to the external ignitors under the Saturn V that assure that those main engines fire when the fuel starts flowing.  He got to talking one day, and said, "How many people does it take to change a light bulb on launch pad 39B?" 

First someone fills out a form reporting a light out of service. 

Then an electrician verifies that the light bulb is burned out, and it is not an electrical supply or switch problem.  

Then the access crew is dispatched to set up a ladder. 

Then the electrician returns to disassemble the light fixture, laying the parts out on a soft pad on the a flat surface. 

Then a supervisor sends out janitorial, to clean
the fixture. 

Then the electrician is sent out to replace the burned out bulb and reinstall the fixture. 

Then the access crew goes back and removes the ladder, 

Then janitorial goes back and cleans the area. 

And a supervisor inspects and verifies that the work has been completed properly. 

So three workmen, plus supervisors, at least 9 steps, more if there are any questions or concerns along the way, such as a crack in the glass on the fixture, and he said, "you don't want to know how many pages of paperwork!" 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

My World of Wonders aka The Wednesday W's Tax Week Edition

Who have I seen this week?  Emily, the adult daughter of one of my best friends from high school.  She and her boyfriend were here in DC for a few days and we met them for lunch. 

Where am I at with tax returns this year? Done a month ago. (Tax returns were due Monday in the USA.) 

Where have I been this week? Out for daily walks, Old Town Alexandria, Huntley Meadows, National Harbor, Mt. Vernon; the weather has been nice for walking outside. The Farmers Market on Saturday morning, Whole Foods, into DC one day. 

What have I been reading?  I finished a Hemingway novel, I am working on two other books. My Kindle is loaded and ready for an adventure. 

What am I listening to? 70s soft rock at the moment.

What made me think, I remember when?  O.J. Simpson died. I was working in a department store when the verdict came in, the store came to a quiet halt, and the broadcast was played over the store public address system.  I was not surprised, the prosecution had way over tried their case, and the defense was brilliant.  If it doesn't fit, you must acquit. I started law school a few months later.  If you can't explain your case to the jury in a week, you don't understand the core of your case or you don't have one.

Who deserves a big THANK YOU this week?  The service manager, who came up with a 10% discount on a rather expensive service and car repair. I have bought cars for less. 

What was I thinking the other day? All of the cars I have owned, 3 Oldsmobiles, 2 VWs (decades apart,) 2 Toyotas (at the same time), 4 Hondas (three new Accords in a four year period,) 2 Mazadas (years apart,) 1 Renault (fun but I couldn't get it repaired,) 1 Saturn, (a cheap reliable car until law school was paid for,) 1 Cadillac - by far the nicest car I have owned.  Several of these put smiles on my face, only one real lemon in the bunch, 5 of them bought new.  The two Toyotas I got more for when I sold them than I had paid for them.   

What made me laugh this week? Two things at lunch with Emily the other day.  She is a hair stylist, I told her what I had been paying for a haircut and she said, "to cut what? you don't have much left to cut!" True.  Her mother died a couple of years ago, and her father, who is about my age is starting to date, using dating apps. She was warning him about the dangers of meeting strangers, and I said will at least Aileen Wuornos is not still on the loose in central Florida. Aileen was a serial killer of men.  Not listed in her bio, is the man she bonked in the head with an orr and pushed overboard in alligator infested waters about a mile from the office I was working in at the time, he lived. Dark humor, but humor.  



Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Travel Tuesday : Artomatic

I mentioned Artomatic a couple of weeks ago. This is the third one that I have toured.  It is run by a non-profit group. Every few years they fill an empty building, often a vacant office building that is slated to be torn down, with Art.  This year is in an office building, slated to be converted to residential space. It is partially gutted. 
Artomatic welcomes a full spectrum of artists, professional or amateur, in a wide array of media.  It is very grassroots.  Much of the art is very good, some of it excellent, some of it very personal - a kind way of saying not very good.  
I am back painting again, maybe the next time Artomatic is held, I should toss my hat in the ring.  


Monday, April 15, 2024

Moody Monday: Ten Things To Be Grateful For This Week

  1.  I continue to have great walks, about an hour a day, with the spring weather most often outside in a variety of surroundings. 
  2. My sweet bear, 30-odd years and we still find new things to talk about and laugh about. (Some of the years are odder than others.) 
  3. A reasonable degree of security in life. 
  4. Each day, there are no guarantees, another one of my high school classmates died, his family posted photos on Facebook, I haven't aged all that bad 
  5. Easy access to great public transit, we went into the city for lunch the other day, and it was so nice to sit back and ride. 
  6. My blogging friends, you are my daily wake-up ritual. 
  7. Good health insurance, I had prescriptions renewed the other day and my out of pocket cost was $12 for a three month supply. (The first time since my insurance coverage changed this year.) 
  8. Time, my time is my own.  
  9. Being free of the bureaucracy, it is budgeting season at my former employer - I am so glad I never face that process again. 
  10. Being me.  I am who I am, shaped by my life experiences, flawed, a work in progress, moving forward everyday.
So how is my mood?  Good, very good.  And still adjusting to my new normal.  

Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Sunday Five: Would You?

 1: Would you live in this cabin in the woods? 

2: Would you spend a quiet afternoon here reading or writing? 

3: Have you read the book Walden, by Henry David Thoreau? 

4: Do you live a simple life? 

5: Would you hike 30 minutes to get to this cabin? 

My answers:

1: Would you live in this cabin in the woods? No. my idea of roughing it is staying at a three star hotel. 

2: Would you spend a quiet afternoon here reading or writing? Yes, I may go back next summer. 

3: Have you read the book Walden, by Henry David Thoreau? Multiple times, this cabin reminded me of Walden. 

4: Do you live a simple life? In a modern sort of a way, yes. 

5: Would you hike 30 minutes to get to this cabin? Apparently I would, it is around on the back side of a lake.  

Please share your answers in the comments.