Saturday, April 30, 2011

Patience Quote

I saw this on a Facebook friend's page today.  I don't know the original source of this quote but it is timely for me and I'm posting it to share and also so I read it over and over again.  I might eventually believe it..

Art is a patience. Patience is an art.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Study Results Randomness

I am on several email lists from publishing companies who think I might want to interview their authors for one of my radio shows. I don’t. The shows are specifically related to local community issues and most of these interview ops relate to hyping a book or a study.

However, I do keep the interesting press releases for my own amusement … and for yours in this post.

- Between the sheets. Got one today about a book citing 10 tips for staying young. One of their tips for better health: have plenty of sex. One of the authors, a doctor, points out that “middle-aged men who have sex five times a week can lower the risk for prostate cancer by 33 percent, compared to those that have sex only five times a month.” I wonder if I can get him to write me a prescription. The other nine tips? Who cares?

- Relationships.  There is a new book citing misconceptions about men and women in today’s dating. The author points out that conventional wisdom leads women to believe “the only way to catch and keep a man is to manipulate him into new ways of thinking.” It’s hard to believe that any woman still believe this, but I know some that do; I’ve married a couple of them. One of the myths she addresses … “failures at love are failures in life.” I totally agree that is a myth.

- Move over burgers-and-fries … coffee is coming! A new study/survey/list shows that the top three chain restaurants in the USA now, for the first time, include two that do not sell burgers and fries. Burger King and Wendy’s have been replaced in the top three by Subway and (drum roll please) Starbucks! Of course, McDonald’s is still #1.

OK, that’s all for this round. If you see a pattern in my choices for this post, maybe you can write a book about it. Maybe I’ll get the press release from your agent and I’ll mention you in my blog.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Let’s Get Serious, People

Trump is a joke. He is arguably one of the most successful and knowledgeable business people of the past 30 years and could be positioning himself as a strong leader/manager with business experience that can get us through this economic mess. Yet he is wasting his time and ours trying to challenge President Obama’s birth certificate.

Yesterday Obama trumped bullshit with the truth and released a copy of the full certificate. Yet Trump continues to make noise about its authenticity. Get over it Donald! If you are serious about running for the most powerful elected office on the planet then get serious about issues. Otherwise you’re just Palin with a brain.

As a life-long Democrat, one part of me enjoys watching the Republicans finally taking their turn as the floundering party trying to figure out how to win a national election. But another side of me wants to see some serious contenders in the race. I think Obama is doing a decent job working with the hand he was dealt, but his job performance will always be better with serious opponents who express intelligent opposing viewpoints. And maybe there is someone in that party who could do better. But how the hell will we know if they spend all their time on non-essential crap?

Anyone who already writes off Obama as a one-term President should remember that a few years ago most people didn’t think he could win to begin with. Yes, he is vulnerable when it comes to re-election, but so were Reagan and Clinton.

It’s time to get serious. Otherwise our next Presidential election will play out like another season of American Idol, only with the fate of our country as the top prize.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Totally Random 5.5

The N.O. Jazzfest starts this weekend. I am not there but some of my local Maryland friends will be and I’m sure some of my New Orleans friends and family will also. I will find a way to be there next year.

A picture is worth a thousand words. How many curse words are in this shot from this afternoon?

Back to Jazzfest for a second … here are some of the performers we’re missing this year: Local legends (Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Trombone Shorty), unexpected from other genres ( Bon Jovi, Jimmy Buffett, Arcade Fire, John Mellencamp, Robert Plant, John Legend, Jason Mraz, Maze, Fantasia, , Better Than Ezra, Kid Rock), blues artists and some from other genres who now play blues (Jeff Beck, Cyndi Lauper, Gregg Allman Blues Band), jazz artists (Sonny Rollins) and unique hard-to-define artists (Decemberists, Robert Randolph, Lucinda Williams). I know I could write a whole post about this; maybe later.

I’ve got some personal crap I’d like to share with you but I can’t. Let me just say that every time I think I’ve reached the valley and the climb out has begun, I sink a little deeper. I see the path up but there is still plenty of mud on it. Hand me that shop vac, will ya? Maybe a shovel too – pretty deep in here.

I have several great friends, but all of them live more than 50 miles away, some are several hundred, even thousand miles away. But I am grateful I have them.

One of those friends, by the way, lives near London. I will email her tonight to see if she is interested in the Royal Wedding. Bet she is. Two female friends who live much closer (LS and JC) are interested in the wedding. My guy friends don’t particularly care. I’m with them on this one.

Pretty good weather here this week, with highs in the 70s and low 80s. Those horrible storms in Texas, Arkansas, Kentucky, etc. seem to skip just north or just south of me. Wonder how long that luck holds out.

Enough for tonight. Thanks for visiting.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Few Artsy Asheville Shots


The moon was full on my last night.  I only had my pocket camera with me at that moment, but you get the idea...





Saturday, April 23, 2011

More Asheville Randomness

I'm not sure what I like better about Asheville, the mountain air, the funky variety of people, the Frank Lloyd Wright-ish art deco designs or the balance of old-new-city-country.  I definitely like the opportunities for photography.






Visit Photo Bernie for a few more.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Biltmore Randomness

The mansion has four acres of floor space including more than 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and 65 fireplaces. There is an underground swimming pool, gym and bowling alley. It took six years to build and was finished around 1895.




The property is 8,000 acres, filled with gardens, statues, fountains, trails, farm land (originally) and a winery. There are spectacular views in every direction. The landscaper was the same guy who designed New York City’s Central Park.

It’s in or adjacent to Asheville NC, a town of 80,000 people, but when you’re on the grounds you never see any indication that a town is anywhere near the place.

There is a modern 200-room hotel on the property now. It is built to fit in with the aura of the estate and, as you would expect, it is wallet-challenging. If you want to stay there Friday, May 6th, it’ll cost you $334 for that night, in a room with two double beds. That’s about what I paid for three nights at a fairly nice hotel east of downtown Asheville.

This is a view from the hotel veranda. I won’t tell you what we spent on ONE drink each. I will say it was worth it for the relaxing view.




I spent six hours on the grounds and didn’t see everything, although I did see the important stuff: the mansion, the gardens and the wine-tasting room at the winery.

You have to see it yourself to even begin to understand the scale, power and opulence of the mansion. Eliz and I said the word “awesome” dozens of times, but that is a baby word compared with other adjectives that could paint the picture.




Vanderbilt was probably the Trump of his era but I doubt even The Donald’s properties could compare with the sheer over-the-topness of Biltmore (how’s that for an adjective?).

Check my Photo Bernie blog for a few more of the 200 pictures I took.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Asheville

It's a busy week at work.  In fact, today was, honestly, kind of crappy.  I wish I was still in Asheville.  Meanwhile, here is a photo.  More commentary later. This fountain is in Pack Square in the heart of town.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Awesome Funky Pattern-Breaking Randomness

I needed to shake things up a little, change my patterns, and spend a few days breaking my usual routines. So I went to Asheville, North Carolina, my favorite funky little town in the mountains. If you’ve been reading me lately you know my choices for my own sort of ‘spring break’ were either ocean or mountains. I picked mountains. Here are a few random notes from my little adventure:


- I have amazing good luck. The very day I was driving to western NC, tornadoes were devastating parts of central and eastern NC. I did drive through the worst driving rain storm I’ve ever driven through for part of that day, but the sun came out later.

- There is music in the street in Asheville. I’m not sure I realized that till this visit.



- My delicious food-related pattern-breaking included: Carolina BBQ, spinach-and-brie omelette, Indian (specifically a curry chicken dish), sweet potato fries, meatloaf. No, that was not all in the same meal.

- Mountains can be therapeutic. There is a peace and majesty about them. Asheville sits in a bit of a valley, with a view of mountains in every direction.


- This was my 5th visit to Asheville but my first to the famous Biltmore Estate. Biltmore was the Vanderbilt’s 255-room ‘summer cottage,’ built at the end of the 1800s on an 8000+ acre property. It is in Asheville, but when you are on the grounds, there is no visible evidence that a city is anywhere near there.


- There is so much to say about Biltmore that I think I’ll save the rest for a Biltmore Randomness post.

- My friend Eliz in Asheville is as unique as her town. Seeing the town through her eyes enhances the experience.


- Asheville is poetic, funky, musical, southern, hippie (in a modern way), casual, artistic and random … just like me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sunset In the Mountains

This sunset is another reason I love the mountains.  More comentary and photography coming. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

In the Mountains

I am drawn to North Carolina for many reasons: ocean, cities, mountains.  I have friends in all 3 parts of the state (Nags Head, Raleigh, Asheville). This week I am exercising an awesome option for stress relief: a visit to the mountain part of NC.  This is just a grab shot taken while driving into Asheville from the east on I-40, but it says a lot to me.


It is peaceful here but definitely not boring.

More pictures and commentary coming soon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Karma Balance

You've read about the recent death of a family friend because of cancer. Things like that are always sad, partly because they bring up a complex balance of faith-shaking questions and learning opportunities.

Somewhere in the cosmic karma of the universe, however, news of a cancer-related death can sometimes be balanced by news of survival. A co-worker gave me a 15-second version of that news as we passed each other in the hallway today. She had breast cancer a few years ago, survived it, then had to deal with a relapse. I knew she was back at work but I haven't seen her much in the past few months. During our quick conversation today she told the whole story in a way she knew I'd understand, using only three words: "I'm all clear."

That bit of karma balance made my whole day. And I think it is a learning op too.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Going Up!

I took this picture while filling up Wednesday night.  I wonder if it went up some more since then.  I'm taking a short road trip soon; wonder what'll be then.


This is what I was driving last time gas prices were this high. 



I miss it, but I don't miss 18 mpg highway. My current ride gets 30 on the highway.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Aging Quotes

Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
- Will Rogers


Age is just a number - play offense with your life.
- Sidney Harman


We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.
- George Bernard Shaw

I’m old enough to know better, but I’m still too young to care.
- Wade Hayes

Those who love deeply never grow old. They may die of old age but they die young.
- Benjamin Franklin

Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone.
-- Jim Fiebig

If the Tune Fitz …

Motown/soul/R&B funk was the first music I fell in love with as a kid and that sound still gets my attention. Slick, danceable, bass-and-drum groove, a kickin’ horn section. Hall & Oates kept the sound alive through the 80s and now in the 2000s there is a “new” band fusing that sound with their own. Let me share this with you.

The group is Fitz and the Tantrums, named for their lead singer/producer Michael Fitzpatrick. They loved this style of music and were inspired by, among others, Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates. Long story short, they got together with him last year on Hall’s web site “Live from Daryl’s House” and recorded some of their songs with Daryl singing along and vice versa.

Click Here to see the show!

I don’t know if they have any radio play yet, but they are all over TV: Criminal Minds, Desperate Housewives, VH-1 and last week they were on Leno.

Here is a Fitz & the Tantrum song “MoneyGrabber”. Enjoy. Dance.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gray Area

Why do politicians who claim to want smaller government and state’s rights think they have the right to tell the city of Washington DC how to govern themselves?

A little political science refresher, in case you’re not aware of these things: There are 100 Senators, two for each of the 50 states, meaning that each state, from the smallest geographic size (Rhode Island) to the largest (Alaska) has equal representation. There are 435 members of the House or Representatives; the amount from each state varies based on population, so that more populous states like New York or California have a bigger voice than less populous states like Wyoming. The combination of those two bodies forms a balanced means for governing our country based on the wishes of our citizens.

Did you notice what’s missing? Washington DC. It is not a state, but it IS a city in our United States with 600,000 residents. Yet there is no elected Senator from the District and the one elected Representative can only speak during sessions but cannot actually vote in Congress. So more than a half-million citizens do not have a say in how their government is run. At least they do vote in Presidential elections.

Washington DC is a city and does have a Mayor and City Council, elected by registered voters who live in the city limits. But Congress can accept and reject things like the city budget and how that money is spent. The budget compromise that was reached last Friday night just in time to pass the bill that avoided a government shutdown included a rider telling DC they could not spend funds on certain family planning and drug program matters and they have to return to certain school voucher programs that the city rejected in the past. Who are they to tell the city of Washington what they can or cannot do with their own taxpayers’ money?! Senators and Representatives who are from the 50 states and who are not legal residents or registered voters in the District decided how DC’s is to be governed and not the leaders elected by the voters of the city. This is like Congress telling California or North Carolina what they can do in their state or telling Dallas or Phoenix they can or can’t spend money in a certain way in those cities, regardless of what residents of those cities or states decided.

So today, Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray and several City Council members decided to make their case in a time-honored American manner … they staged a protest on the streets outside the Capital.

And they were arrested! The Mayor of a major American city taken away in handcuffs for protesting Congressional action telling his city what it can or cannot do; not things that are illegal, by the way, just things some of the Congress people do not like.




Huge kudos to Gray and the Council members for doing what they did. To be fair, they were arrested for blocking traffic, not for the actual protest, but how did we even get to the point that this kind of situation was even necessary?

There is NO reason why the citizens of Washington DC should not have voting representation in the Federal government … 600,000 people who represent every race, creed and socioeconomic category of Americans, many of whom fought for their country in wars approved by Congress and whose relatives died for our freedoms in those wars and others.

Actually there IS a reason … some members of Congress recognize that 85% or more of DC voters are Democrat. Do the math and draw your own conclusion as to why it keeps getting blocked.


The exact form of representation is definitely murky. Does DC become the 51st state, changing the balance of political power? Does it become part of adjacent Maryland (typically Democratic) or Virginia (typically Republican)? Does it get divided into the parts that are Federal versus residential? All of those plans have been discussed over the decades. One thing is clear, to me anyway: the residents of Washington DC should have voting representation in Congress. The method might be a gray area but I applaud Mayor Gray for standing up on behalf of his citizens.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring Spring

I love photography in the spring. OK, I love it all year, but spring is a great time for emerging color. This is ten feet from my back door.


Visit my Middletown Daily Photo and Photo Bernie sites for a few more.

I'm planning a short photo adventure soon. Check these sites for the pictures.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Real Health Advice

Here is part of something a friend sent this week. It is laughable yet it might actually be all true. Enjoy.

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO-HOO, what a ride!!"

AND.....

For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans..

5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

CONCLUSION:

Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Present

If you’ve been following along for the past two years you know about my ongoing self-discovery journey. One of my challenges and goals is to live more in the present and I believe I continue to make progress narrowing the gap between past and future.

Two “past” elements that remain are my story-telling and my list of regrets. The stories won’t change; it is part of who I am. Sometimes it makes me interesting. Sadly the regrets list has grown from one or two to half dozen or more. I can’t change those things I regret and my next challenge is to get them off the list. The past is a great opportunity for learning and sometimes is a fun place to visit. That balance works for me. I do not want to live there.

My “future” thinking is shrinking a bit. I used to spend lots of time there but my definition of future, the sum of many present moments, helps me focus more on now and less on later. I like to think I can shape my future and I believe more strongly about that than before, which means I should concentrate more on those present moments.

Actually I should stop over-thinking some of this … another goal.

So, one narrow definition of “present” is the two or three hours on either side of this moment. Here is tonight’s present: the gym, pork chops, pasta and peas for dinner, my nightly argument, two glasses of delicious petite sirah wine, a U2 CD playing in the background, writing this post, checking my email, blogs and facebook, reading a few more pages in a classic sci-fi novel and setting the alarm for my impossibly early wake-up. Each of those moments relates in some way to the future, some more positively than others. Overall tonight is a decent “present.” I’ll stop with that thought.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Who Needs It Anyway?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Federal Government might shut down Friday. Who needs it anyway? Between 200,000 and 400,000 people out of work? So what? The Tea Party and other loudmouthed blowhards who are more interested in making a name for themselves than actually fixing the economy and out-of-control deficit don’t care. The extreme liberal side who want to cut spending a dollar or two at a time don’t care. Why should either side care? If the Fed shuts down, Congress members and the President still get paid!

Republicans always talk about making government smaller, so I guess if you shut it down, it definitely gets smaller. Hell, why start it up again? I wonder how much they’d save if those couple hundred thousand jobs just evaporated.

Democrats want to save program after program after program. That sounds good to me on one level but we all know there is an incredible amount of waste in those programs, meaning that even the well-intentioned social programs cost way more than they should to accomplish their goals.

Actually a government shutdown could be kind of nice for those of us who live near Washington. There would be a whole lot less traffic and Metro would be less crowded. True, the entire Smithsonian Institute’s sixteen museums and the National Zoo would be closed, but who needs all those tourists visiting the most incredible FREE display of history and heritage on the planet? The local economy would suffer without those visitors but Congress and the President don’t care … they’re still getting paid.

Just a little food for thought.

Two More "Life" Quotes

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
- Mark Twain


Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.
- Karen Kaiser Clark

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Crazy Train

Have you ever been on the DC Metro? If so, you know it can be crowded, especially during weekday commute times and after a concert or Nats game. Even during off-peak times you will rarely find yourself on a Metro car alone? I have been riding Metro for more than 20 years and only once did I ever find myself in an empty car and I was tired that day and the most creative reaction I had was to snap a solitary picture with my cell phone camera.

This guy, however, took full advantage of the "creative" opportunity. Enjoy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

And the Award Goes To …

Did y’all see the ACM (Academy of Country Music) Awards show Sunday night? I know at least one of my regular readers likes country music (in Wisconsin, that hotbed of twang), so I’ll assume the rest did not. Let me just say you missed a great show and three hours of evidence that the genre is hot and growing.

The two big country music awards shows are the ACMs (usually in the spring) and the CMAs (usually in the fall). Purists seem to look at the CMAs (Country Music Association) as the ‘big one’ but I’m starting to change my mind about that. The CMAs are so full of long, drawn out acceptance speeches in which the winners thank everybody they ever knew in their whole lives. Oh, and there is a little music too. The ACM awards show Sunday was mostly about entertainment and music. In fact no award was given out till a full hour into the show.

I’ve said before that country music is hot right now (all genres run in cycles) and one indicator Sunday night was the variety of artists from other genres who made guest appearances. Among them were Steven Tyler from Aerosmith singing with Carrie Underwood, James Taylor in a duet with Zac Brown and Rhiana performing a duet with Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles.

Another indicator is the number of pop hits by artists who are first and foremost country, including Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum.

The show this week showcased many hot newcomers likeThe Band Perry, Eric Church and Jason Aldean as well as a few established stars like Reba McEntire (who also co-hosted), Ronnie Dunn of the now defunct Brooks & Dunn and Alabama, who played along with Brad Paisley during his new song that relates to Alabama’s hits.

By the way, country music is not always about hot girls and pickup trucks, but, well, some of it is. Here’s one. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Good Reads

I love to share discoveries and to connect people. These are among the blogs I read regularly, some for their observations and some for the insight they provide into the lives of the writers. Some haven’t been updated in awhile, but they are still good reads. I encourage you to visit them.

In person blogger friends, who also happen to be among my best real life friends:
Still Learning About Me
An Unconventional Life


Virtual blogger friends, who I have exchanged comments and emails with but have never met in person:
When the Muse Strikes
A Mom and Her Crazy Ideas
The Boomer Chronicles
Give Me Cupcakes
And So I Write

This guy has a wicked sense of humor. I don’t know him but I know someone who does:
Inside the Mind of Anthony


Some of my other blogs, in case you haven’t visited lately. I just updated the poetry blog today.
Photo Bernie
Middletown Daily Photo
Poetican