Many years ago I had the opportunity to join a company working for a part of the company based in Detroit. My first manager was an amazing person. His name was Don; I won’t go further than Don however in fairness to him. He was my boss for about the first year I was with the company. I struggled to convert from being an IT person to being a consultant and Don helped me. Later I would transfer to a Cincinnati Ohio based manager who was awful, then worked for another three-letter name person in Columbus Ohio Ron, and then back to a horrible manager that both Don and I worked for in Cincinnati. Don and Ron, however, were both great managers, and I am proud to call friends now.
Don, his wife Nancy and their twins came to visit us in Greenwood. They moved from Detroit to Cincinnati and then moved back to Don’s home state of Alaska. They are still in the great northern expanse of Alaska today! But this was a few years ago, and they came on their vacation stopping by to see us and let our twins meet their twins. Don’s twins were a couple of years old than our twins, but it was a blast to hang out with all of them. We ended up having perfect outdoor weather that day. There is something about getting to hang out with people you enjoy that makes a day even better than it would have been otherwise. You get to be with people that make you happy!
There are a couple of pictures of the adults sitting near the play yard that was in the elevated part of our backyard. One of the regrets I had was the fact that the mulch from that play yard was just one rainstorm away from being all over the rest of the yard. We had added a drain to resolve some of the neighborhood drainage issues (the drain was later the only reason our basement didn’t flood three years after we added it). Sadly the rain did a good job for the most part, but if there was 2-3 inch rapid rain, we would have a full drain area, the water from the entire neighborhood drained into our yard, so it became an overflow situation. The overflow took the mulch towards the pond. Given time, and more engineering support, I probably would have had them do the drain differently. Hindsight being 20-20 and all.
wandering memory lane
We went out to dinner last night at one of our favorite places near us. We have a lot of favorite places that are within a 20 or so minute drive of the house. We went early (in the DC area it feels like dinner for most people starts at 7 pm). The restaurant was fairly empty but started to fill up as we were finishing our always delightful meal (there is a reason we love Zane’s, first it is close to our house. Secondly, they serve just amazing Japanese food. You can find my Yelp review of the restaurant here. The reason for this story, however, is that as we were walking out, I noticed a young couple dressed to the nine’s. Realizing that May is prom season I wondered if this was a first date or Prom night.
That got me thinking about our first Prom experience, my daughter going while we still lived in Greenwood. She is the only one of our kids that graduated from Center Grove High School. The twins graduated from Northwest High School in Maryland. My daughter’s prom experience was interesting. Mostly because she went, not with a boyfriend but with one of the coolest people she knows her good friend. He is someone that I would honestly say is a part of the family. Someone that I am proud to know. He is a Facebook friend of mine. My daughter’s boyfriend, before prom was a bozo. I don’t and won’t mention his name ever again, nor would I want to resume my acquaintance of him.
He was a bozo. I cannot think of better word to describe him. They broke up before prom her junior year. In stepped her good friend. Again, a wonderful young man. He laughed at my jokes which in my world makes him a very smart person. My jokes are the best jokes, if you don’t believe me, ask me and I will happily tell you that my command of the dad joke world is second to none! Anyway, the first two pictures are of my office in the basement of our house in Greenwood, the rest are of prom prep. I included the office pictures because, well they demonstrate that my office remains just as messy even after moving two times from the time of this picture!
One night in the cold and damp London winter, we choose to take a cab to see the city. We were literally in meetings from 8 in the morning until six at night. Two of the nights we went out to dinner with the customer, one of the nights we all decided to hop in a London Cab and see the city at night. I have to admit that what follows below are some of the worst pictures I’ve ever shared. They are poorly framed, bad light effects and shaky because of motion. Our cabbie was a hoot, sharing the history of London as we drove around. I suspect I would have been better off recording him rather than trying to take pictures out of a moving cab, but hindsight remains 2020.
I traveled before 9/11, and after 9/11 and honestly other than tighter security, I never went to a place (well I did once) that I didn’t feel safe. I did go places where I was so exhausted I had to drag myself out to see things in the evenings. But never did I feel unsafe. I try to walk every single day so, I would often land and explore. I seldom arrived in another country where I landed and had to rush to a meeting (the first trip I made to Ireland was like that. Land, rush and meet with the team). For the most part, people respected the concept of travel days. Let you unwind from being cooped up all night in an airplane. I would land and get to my hotel via whatever method was easiest.
Sometimes I took a cab; sometimes they sent a limo. Sometimes, like London, I would tide the metro. Once I got to the hotel, I would head out for a stroll. In Prague just around the corner from where I stayed was the bar where Franz Kafka wrote Metamorphosis. In Ireland, I stopped by the pub where James Joyce often sat and wrote. In Brussels, we wandered to the comic book museum to see some of the original works by the creator of the TinTin comics. All of the places are but moments in time. I much prefer traveling with my family than I did doing all this business travel. But, it was fun to hop in a cab and see London at night. The sad reality is most of the captured images of that ride, are, well not that good.
As I said over the years, I was fortunate enough to visit London several times for work. I got to work with some UK based companies, and with a lot of folks in the company that lived there. Over that time I found that London is a place you can have a relaxing time. Yes, I was always on the run, always trying to get things done, but there are a wonder and a majesty in the city itself. I loved, for example, standing next to the remains of the Roman wall that surrounded the London that Rome protected nearly 2000 years ago. Walls are interesting now, but then were imposing battlements meant to keep the barbarians on the other side of the gate. To keep them out of the city that was to be London.
Another lesson I learned was the London Cabs are a hoot. Vastly different than the yellow cabs of the US. Plus the Cabbie normally was willing to talk, to share to explain as you drove into the city. I didn’t often take cabs other than coming from and going to the airport. I didn’t get a rental car in London ever. I have memories of my first experience with someone reversing the side of the road they usually drove on. My father, many years ago, after we landed in Ireland, ended up sideswiping a car. I drove once in Malaysia, but that was as bad as driving in NYC. I did drive once as well in Holland, but not in Amsterdam, I drove in the Dutch countryside and had a blast.
I also took to heart the fact that London is not much different from Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and other major European Cities. Very much different than many US cities, but more because there are so many more buildings that have historical significance. Wandering through Westminster Cathedral brought a smile to my face, to see the places where great people rested, but also because of the old song. I love walking along the Thames. One of my customers had an office building right on the river. As we made our lunch the first day, we took it out on the veranda or porch and sat watching the boats go up and down the Thames. A day I will never forget. London is a magical city!
There was a time when I kept a suitcase packed. Having the duplicate items always needed ready to go. I had two hair brushes, razors, and everything ready to go. I would never know if that week I was in Omaha or Minneapolis. The trips to Europe I knew about, but there were a few surprises over the years. Today’s pictures are of the tail end of Christmas, in particular, a great picture of my Mother-in-law and my wife and Gwen. Gwen often talked about what was bothering her. She was, and to this day remains the most verbal dog we ever owned. Gwen and my wife had a special relationship, Gwen talked back to my wife all the time. The second picture is of just such a talking to going on!
The night pictures are another trip to London. It was a last minute get there in 12 hours kind of deal. Those were the hardest trips because I couldn’t prep the family for me being gone. I had two of those ever to Europe. One to Amsterdam on less than two days notice. The other, the one starting with night time pictures to London. I am, a little, complaining about those emergency trips. I suspect now, later in my career I would be better able to understand the reality of an emergency truly. A failure, as my father always used to say, to plan on your part is not an emergency on mine. It is your problem. I think now, I understand that, and am better prepared for the reality of someone else’s emergency!
(I wish to state for the public record that I am not allowed to post this picture and therefore it wasn’t me, Phoebe did it)!
I will end with the picture of the UK phone booth. I used to watch the show Dr. Who, 20 years ago. I liked it but never got deeply hooked. My kids were deeply hooked for a couple of years. That is a phase I think many kids go through. They, like me, are on the other side now. But I still love the English Phone Booths. They are unique in both how they appear and what they represent. The reality of phone booths, do they even make them anymore? The Red Iconic booths of London and the UK, or the smaller US style glass phone booths. Made famous in pictures with 20 people stuffed inside the phone booth. Or ironically brought to earth by George Carlin’s character in the movie “Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure.” Do they still make phone booths?
Wandering Londontown. Had a blast the week we were there. We had the Sunday before we had to work and the Saturday after to enjoy London. I can, having been many times say that London is one of my all-time favorite cities. I ranked them before in various blogs of the past (sadly it was on Niume, so the blog is longer available online). Quickly my all-time favorite cities are:
The list changes all the time of course, but I can honestly say the first four have pretty much been on my list for years. I love visiting those cities. Dublin is one of the experiences that you have in life, that you remember. London is a city to see, a place to wander. Let us not forget Bangkok and of course Copenhagen. Each of the cities on my list is a place I been to, enjoyed and wandered. Bangkok and Copenhagen are the only two cities so far on my top five list that I have taken my family, and that I visited with my parents. My wife and I have also been to Paris and Paris is a city that my parents and I stopped on our way to Bangkok. But Paris doesn’t make my list. It is a beautiful city, but far too often I’ve felt like a tourist in the city. In London and Dublin, I always felt like I was just home. Bangkok was home for a time, so that is a natural extension, but I still love the city now, even as it has changed radically from the Bangkok of my memories. Copenhagen is the one place I go to, that is always perfect.
The next five cities on my list, if I were to expand it out to ten are:
- Washington DC
Chicago is a city that I love; it moves up and down the list frequently. Mostly because I don’t go as often and forget the things about Chicago that I love. The others are cities that I have spent considerable time in, and places that are wonderful to visit! There you have my top 10 cities I love list. It is slightly different than the one I published two years ago. IT will be different in two years again! The cities in bold are the ones I’ve visited with both my parents (well at least my mother) and my wife and kids. The rest I’ve visited on my own, except for Amsterdam where I got the chance to take my wife and kids but never visited with my parents.
The world is a small place, filled with wonder and we must share that wonder!
Family historian and list keeper
My third trip to London was as part of the project I was doing in NYC. We ended up spending a week in London at a wonderful hotel. We were able to arrive on Saturday late (my friend got there a few hours earlier than I did). We spent the daytime hours in the Financial district of London near the last of the old London Wall. Also, as an aside near the London School for Girls. Not that we wandered to that school, just that we were near it. We got to hang out with a great crew of people in the London office of the company we were working with. They were the early team for the project and had a lot of very detailed questions. I spent four days getting grilled by technical folks and solving really hard problems.
My good friend (he is in a couple of the pictures) loved to watch me squirm. So him seeing me try to answer the really hard technical questions that were being posted. I did, with a little help from some other folks, manage to fix the issues. Which in the end was good, as mentioned this was the early adopter group for our project, and they are critical to our success. They were also the most vocal group and getting them to our side was a key goal of our in-person visit. We did, but it took some time that week. The first couple of days were long, grinding focused whiteboard days. Lunch was usually wandered to a nearby café or small restaurant and grabbed something to eat.
(the Roman wall of London, well what is left of it).
Dinner was a great experience. We wandered to a number of the area pubs to try a variety of the London experience. We also spent a night wandering London’s Theater District. The Theater district lies just on the other side of Trafalgar Square, and near the museum district. It was also really close to a church I had learned about many years before on NPR. The church has a famous choir, and they often share their music with the US audience via NPR> St. Martins in the field is the name of the church. It is cool to wander places that you’ve heard about, read about and dreamed about overall. I think the best part of going to the theater district at night was enjoying a dinner watching people rush to a show (they were late)!