Showing posts from October, 2009


Halloween has become a holiday for adults as much as for children.

Kids still dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating like when I was a kid, but adults often dress up in scary costumes and go drinking. The drinking part doesn’t bother me so much, but the resulting drinking and driving bothers the hell out of me; so I usually stay home or if I go out, I appoint myself the designated driver.

I don’t remember Halloween parties I went to in college or the few years afterwards. I was in a fraternity and drank a lot then. Memory is a little faded and jaded.

But there are two later Halloweens I do remember vividly.

One, in the early 1990s, was at a nudist club facility. Really. I was the DJ. I’ll leave this to your imagination, other than to say that the woman dressed as Lady Godiva was quite memorable. Her blond hair really was that long and she wore gold body paint and a smile. That’s all.

The other involved my own costume. I dressed as Ronald Reagan, sort of. He was still Presi…

Like A Magnet

I am drawn to the ocean like a nail to a magnet.

An off-season beach is the perfect setting for reflection and contemplation. The vista view draws me in with endless possibilities. The rhythmic ebb and flow of the waves is consistent yet no two waves are alike; the ocean is both predictable and random, just like me.

Sunrise is my favorite time on the shore; an awakening of new possibilities.

Photographers and other keen observers know that sunset offers the biggest surprise. Actually, it is the post-sunset afterglow, with one set of expected color schemes melting rapidly into another and another and another that catches nature newbies off-guard, resulting in oohhs, ahhhs and smiles.

Forty-three hours alone in Ocean City is just what I needed this week.

See more pictures on my Photo Bernie blog.

Ocean City Off-Season Randomness

No crowds, no waiting for anything, no noisy parties, no guests in the rooms on either side of me.

Not much is open. It was more difficult to find a restaurant for breakfast than I anticipated. I almost stopped at McDonalds but found a local, non-franchise place just in time.

I like to travel alone but I also like to share. So I’ve shared by way of cell phone pix, emailed photos and posting pictures on this blog. Check my photo blog soon for more shots.

Stress-relief and picture-taking were my only goals for this short trip and I’ve hit my goals.

This place is just over three hours from home. I must come here more often!

Alone At the Beach

The most crowded, raucous place in Maryland in July is the most quiet, desolate spot in the fall. Ocean City oozes solitude in late October and that is why I’m here for a couple of days this week.

I’m here alone, away from home, away from work, away from stress … just me, my camera, my laptop and my thoughts. I was hoping for sunshine but I’m not disappointed by the clouds and rain; they match my mood. Mist, humidity and an empty beach are inspirational for photography and poetry. I’ll engage in plenty of the former and some of the latter.

My hotel room is an ‘efficiency’ with a balcony overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. These were my exact requirements and this particular place had a half-price sale on the already low-priced room rate. It has a stove and a microwave, which I probably won’t use, and a refrigerator, which I am already using to chill a bottle of Pinot Grigio.

More later. Cheers!

Where Did It Go?

What happened to those two little words that used to be the common and expected end to a retail financial transaction?

During my four hours at Lowes yesterday, at least seven different young employees greeted me with, “Hi, how are you?” All of them were pleasant and each seemed sincere. I chose the human checkout over the self-serve option and after ringing up my $125 purchase, the friendly, chatty, twenty-something cashier said, “Here ya go; have a nice day.”

Sure, that was pleasant, but what happened to ‘thank you?’ I just spend over a hundred dollars. Shouldn’t she be thanking me?

Today I spent five times that much on new glasses and the pleasant twenty-something person who handled the transaction finished with a smile and the words, ‘have a nice day.’ I’d have a nicer day if she had said ‘thank you.’

I spent $5 at McDonalds for lunch today. The counter person said ‘thank you.’ She was a little grumpy and didn’t seem to want to be there, but she did say ‘thank you.’ I’m pretty …

Still Losing - Update

Down to 191. Two pounds a week since the last post two weeks ago - right on target.

I CAN Go For That

I saw Hall and Oates a few nights ago. Yes, they are still around and in my opinion, better than ever.

They played at the 930 Club in Washington DC, a warehouse-looking place more known for alternative and rap acts. The place was packed (1000 people? – not sure – maybe more). They could play a lot of music but they played their crowd-pleasing hits. Some of the arrangements are updated. The band is tight!!!!

And Daryl Hall and John Oates seem to be everywhere these days … maybe because they’re promoting a box set CD collection. This morning I saw them on A&E’s Private Sessions. A new version of their song Sara Smile is climbing the country music charts thanks to singer Jimmy Wayne; Daryl and John back him up on the recording and John sang it with him live on stage in Baltimore on Thursday.

Daryl Hall has an interesting project online called Live at Daryl’s House, featuring performances and conversations with various musicians from various genres, including Smokey Robinson, Todd…

Distracted Flying

Packed plane lands on wrong runway in Atlanta! Another packed plane overshoots its destination (Minneapolis) by 150 miles after an hour of no radio contact with air traffic controllers!

Both of these incidents actually happened ... today!

There is speculation that the overshoot incident was caused by either pilot distraction or pilot fatigue. I don’t like either possibility.

And you wonder why my minor fear of flying is on the verge of becoming major. Sure, the per capita possibility of dying in a car crash is far greater than in an airplane crash, but the illusion of control I have while driving is very comforting.

I used to fly a lot. For example, I probably flew twenty or thirty times in an eighteen month period in 1983 and 1984 (work conventions, job interview, long-distance relationship). But I’ve only flown ten times (five round-trips) in the eight years since September 11, 2001.

Sure, I’ll book a flight again one day; but I’m in no hurry.

Here is info on today’s incide…

Breaking the Law of Averages

I see plenty of law-breaking during my 42-miles-each-way daily commute: speeding, weaving, texting while driving and others. I break a few laws myself.

Tonight I watched a serious, high-speed crash happen just three or four cars in front of me. Cars bump like in NASCAR, spin out away from each other across multiple lanes, one car sliding off the road down an incline, the other nearly hitting an embankment. A few months ago I watched a similar accident happen … different stretch of the same highway, more cars, more lanes, just three or four cars in front of me.

If I was a superstitious man, I’d say fate slowed me down just enough as to not be four car-lengths further ahead than I was. I’d also say it’s only a matter of time before I’m the one spinning around.

I’m not superstitious. But I do understand the law of averages. It is one law I intend to break.

Sell ‘Em

I went to a Washington Redskins game today for only the second time in the 25 years I’ve lived near DC. The seats were great; got them from my boss. Traffic was no problem, thanks to an alternate route suggested by the guy who went with me to the game.

But we lost to the previously winless Kansas City Chiefs! And check out this math: the final score was 14-6 but neither team scored a touchdown. Washington scored two field goals! Kansas City scored four field goals and a safety!! Have you ever seen a safety in an NFL game? Geez

I did enjoy the day, however. The boss’s seats were on the Club level, which means the concession area is enclosed. Good thing – it was cloudy, windy and in the 40s. And we avoided the post-game traffic nightmare by taking advantage of restaurant choices on Club level – we chose Hooters.

A few other observations:

We were surrounded by a sea of burgundy and gold … not fans dressed in team colors but lots of empty burgundy and gold seats. A lot of fans stayed home and…

Love Story

I will seek and find you.
I shall take you to bed and have my way with you.
I will make you ache, shake & sweat until you moan & groan.
I will make you beg for mercy, beg for me to stop.
I will exhaust you to the point that you will be relieved when I'm finished with you.
And, when I am finished, you will be weak for days.
All my love,
The Flu
Now get your mind out of the gutter and go get your flu shot!

Me In 50 Years ...


We’re Number 2! We’re Number 2!

The Washington DC region has the second-worst traffic congestion in the country. C’mon! We’re not trying hard enough! Don’t we want to be #1?!

My ridiculously long commute takes fifty minutes when there is no traffic. This morning it took me twice that long to get to work. My top speed for more than half the ride was 15 miles per hour, shown below in this blurry cell phone picture.

If you look hard, you’ll see that Honda thinks this car could cruise at 160. I think it would go airborne at that speed, but I can verify that it is a solid ride at 90. At this morning’s pace, my commute would have been faster on a bicycle.

Boomers, our parents are partly to blame for this mess. Back in their day, as late as the 1950s, busses, trolleys and trains were the commuter norm in urban areas. Families often had only one car, the ‘family car,’ and sometimes it sat idle for much of the week because no one needed it.

Auto manufacturers did an effective job lobbying national, state and local gover…

Live Like A Dog

My sister sent this to me. I don’t know the origin, but I live with three dogs so I totally believe this advice:

Live like a dog ...
Live simply.
Love generously.
Care deeply.
Speak kindly.
Remember, if a dog was the teacher you would learn things like:
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Be loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.


Losing It, Again

Each of the past three years began with my resolution to lose twenty pounds. Each year I let something get in the way of achieving that goal. I did lose five pounds one year and gained it back a few months later.

This year might be different. I have lost five pounds in the past four weeks. I’m hitting my exercise goals and have a pretty good handle on dietary balance and portion control. I’m not an especially big guy, but I do weigh about 20 pounds more than I should for my height.

I hesitate to put the numbers out here because that strategy didn’t work last time (and the time before and …), but here they are: consistent weight for the last three years: 200. Ideal weight for my height: 175-180. This week: 195. Goal: 180 by New Year’s Day. That means losing about one to two pounds a week, which I believe is realistic.

I’ll keep you posted. If I don’t, then remind me.

Fall: Endings and Beginnings

Fall is a time of contrasts in the cycles of life. We see the most beautiful colors of the year during fall, but those very colors exist because things are dying off. Leaves fall, trees go dormant; days get shorter and colder. As kids we trade the lively freedom of summer for the dead bleak confinement of school.

Those of us who sometimes face Seasonal Affective Disorder see fall as prelude to the dreaded joyous and often depressing holidays. How ironic is it that SAD and Happy Holidays run concurrently?

Fall is a powerful season in my own life. My first great love began with a fall date. My first move away from the emotional safety and security of my hometown occurred at the end of fall one year. Fall is my favorite season to pursue my favorite hobby, photography.

Fall 2001 is probably the most significant fall in my life, and the most depressing: the terrorist attacks in September, moving Dad and Mom into a nursing home in October, Dad’s death in November. I checked out emotion…

A Couple More Random Life Quotes

Life can only be understood backwards, but must be lived forwards.
- Soren Kierkegaard

Dogs don’t trouble themselves with minutes or hours. Time is either “NOW” or “RIGHT NOW!”
- Arthur Yorinks

The Geography of Friendships

I was thinking about my closest friends today during the ride home from work. These are the friends who appreciate me as much as I appreciate them, the friends who think about me, keep in touch with me and are here to support me when I really need a friend.

In this context, however, ‘here’ is relative. My five closest friends, for example, the five I know I can count on, the ones who know some of my deepest secrets, the ones who have known me forever and have survived my many changes as well as the newer ones who are just remarkably open to knowing about me and helping me when they can, are scattered across the entire planet. None of them live in Maryland, where I live, or in any adjoining states.

This mobility phenomenon is relatively new in the history of the United States: Boomer generation and newer. Both of my parents, for example, can trace their ancestry to other countries with immigration as recent as their own grandparents. But in their generation, they stayed put. My Mom and h…

Community Service

Community service is required in most public schools in Maryland. Students have to do some amount of volunteer work to graduate. I wish that was the case when I was in high school. Getting into the habit of volunteering early increases the chance it will become a life-long habit.

I used to feel guilty that I don’t do more volunteering until someone pointed out that I work with causes and non-profit organizations as part of my job. I interview representatives of these groups for a weekly radio program that plays on Sunday mornings in Washington DC and sometimes in Baltimore MD. Although I don’t do very much direct work with them, I do give them an outlet to get their message to people. I feel good about that. At some point, however, I plan to get more directly involved.

Here is just a small sample of groups I’ve spoken with:

St Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Multiple Sclerosis Society
American Cancer Society
American Stroke Association
WRAP (Washington Regional Alcohol Program)
American Red…


Today is my 18th anniversary with my current employer. That is certainly a personal record – my previous best was four years and my norm was two – and it is highly unusual in the media world for someone to work at the same place for that long.

In that eighteen years, I’ve seen five ownership changes, five immediate supervisor changes and four top boss changes. The next longest tenure in my department is just four years, after that is just under three years (my immediate supervisor) and the rest are two years or less.

I started at this radio station as a part time DJ, then became a full time DJ. My Sunday morning public service interview shows were added along the way. Eleven years ago, I was promoted to my primary current job, but still also do most of the previous jobs in one form or another. That’s life in corporate America these days.

Working at one job for years or decades was the norm for older boomers and boomer parents. Gen X and younger can expect to change jobs every few years a…