Friday, May 22, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/21/15: Letterman and Hanks, The Liars Club, Beer Stop on the Train

1.  Since we don't have a television, I'm grateful that I could go online and see segments of the last couple of nights of David Letterman's late night program.  I especially enjoyed Tom Hanks' appearance and so I dove into the YouTube archives and watched more of his appearances over the years.  Maybe some one else did, but I am unaware of any one who freed up Tom Hanks and inspired him to be hilarious the David Letterman did.  It was a blast to watch as much of their many times on the show together as I did.

2.  In all of the stuff I read over the last couple of days about David Letterman's career, there was one omission:  his participation in the short-lived (and stupid) television game show, The Liars Club.  I occasionally watched The Liars Club back around 1976-77 or so. It was when I first saw David Letterman and he was the one panelist who was unforgettable to me.  Well, lo and behold, I found at least one, maybe two, videos of David Letterman appearances on the Liars Club and those early days of seeing him on t.v. all came back to me.  I really wish more of a record existed of his morning show on NBC.  It had a short run, but in the summer of 1980, I had mornings when I couldn't stop laughing at stuff he and his supporting cast did.  I especially remember getting a kick out of Rich Hall and Edie McClurg.

3.  Yeah, it's probably about an hour long ride to get there, and another hour back, but it excited me today when I figured out that the Twinbrook Metro Station on the Red Line is a mere seven minute walk from my favorite, so far, taproom in the MD suburbs of D. C., Gilly's Craft Beer and Wine Shop in Rockville.  I really like knowing that I can take the train to Gilly's, have a sandwich, try out a beer or two, maybe buy a few bottles, and not concern myself with driving home.  It's a win-win-win-win.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/20/15: Buckling Down, Another Fitness Day, Eggplant Stretcher

1.  I strapped myself into a chair at the desk, buckled down, and scanned documents so I'd have electronic records of blood draw directives, the Deke's PERS statement, and other things.

2.  I picked up the Deke at her school and we went straight to the Fitness Center and we have another day of success as we try to get a routine underway.

3.  The recipe for the Szechuan eggplant we enjoy calls for two eggplants.  We only had one -- so, the Szechuan eggplant dish became Szechuan eggplant and tofu with ramen noodles.  At our apartment home, we like to think of tofu as eggplant stretcher.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/19/15: Fresh Squeezed on P Street, Whitworth Gathering Awakens Me, Whitworth Orchestra Moves Me

1.  I began my day of travel by getting off the Metro at Dupont Circle and sauntering down P Street to Whole Foods. I wanted to check out this store and the traffic on P Street because it's on a fairly direct route into D. C. from our apartment home.  My visit was worth the effort for two reasons.  I enjoy the VA and DC Whole Foods stores that serve beer at their coffee bars (this can't be done in MD) and it was very satisfying to enjoy a slow pint of Brau Pilsener from the local brewery DC Brau.  In addition, as I scanned the bottled and canned beer inventory, for the first time since moving out here, I laid eyes on one of my favorite beers ever:  Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA.  Today was not the day to be carrying a six pack around, but I'll get back there and, hopefully, the Fresh Squeezed IPA will still be in stock.  (The thrill of seeing Fresh Squeezed IPA in DC could be topped in only one way -- how about if Hop Valley decided to distribute Citrus Mistress IPA [or 541 Lager!] out here?  I doubt that would ever happen, but it would be awesome.)

2.  I jumped back on the Metro and sped up to the Tenleytown station.  From there, after sitting in the public library for about ten minutes to cool down, I strolled to the National Presbyterian Church for a Whitworth College (now University) alumni reception.  I wanted to talk with both of them longer, but the highlight of the reception was seeing Fred Bruner (his wife Signe Schilperoort couldn't make it) and Kathy Pecka.  It got some of my now often dormant Whitworth liberal arts education juices flowing to listen to alums around the table talk about their jobs and how their Whitworth liberal arts education had prepared them for what they were doing.  I thought about all I owed to Whitworth for my success as an instructor -- every day at LCC, I tried to teach, in a secular way, as if I were still teaching at Whitworth.  First as a student, and then as a temporary faculty member, it was at Whitworth where the intellectual and spiritual foundation of my teaching career was formed.  Students often responded positively to the spirit I brought to the classroom and the formation of my teaching spirit happened at Whitworth.  My spirit was nourished by my fellow teachers at LCC, but the great inspiration happened at Whitworth.

3.  After the reception, we made our way to the National Presbyterian Church sanctuary for a concert given by the Whitworth University Symphony Orchestra.  It was a delightful program featuring the Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor, Dvorak's Slavonic Dances, and Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 in D.  I'm not a learned listener of symphonic music.  I don't listen critically.  I just respond and this performance moved my hands and arms and made my head bob and left me feeling emotionally whole. It was a great evening.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/18/15: Rise of the Robots, Work Out, My Friend Flickr

1.  It was muggy outside, at times rainy, and I decided to stay inside and cook meals to last the next few days and listen to WAMU.  I learned about Jeffrey Brown's poetry, mixed use architecture and planning in the D. C. area -- where it's succeeded and where it's been less successful -- and then I learned about how robots and Artificial Intelligence are taking over many, many tasks once done by humans, and, in turn, making even more and more human labor obsolete -- and not just physical labor, but jobs that have traditionally relied on human thinking, analysis, and judgment.  The radio interview with Martin Ford, author of Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future discussed what's happening and what kinds of white collar and blue collar jobs are being replaced by robots, but didn't discuss what to do about the loss of these jobs and how people will make money if human labor is becoming increasingly obsolete as more jobs disappear.  I sure don't know.

2.  I picked up the Deke from work and we went straight to the Greenbelt Fitness Center and enjoyed exercising and plan to make this a part of our daily routine.

3.  In the past, I've always had to carve out a good chunk of time to upload pictures to my Flickr page. But something happened over at Flickr -- my pictures uploaded really fast and I was able to add to some of my albums and create some new ones in almost no time at all.  Flickr also has some new features I like, but I need to do some more poking around over there to see if some of the features I used to enjoy at Flickr are still available -- especially search functions.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

Nyack Beach State Park: A Walk Along the Hudson River

While walking along the Hudson River on Saturday, May 16th, when taking pictures, I did my best to follow the suggestions Bobby Baker outlined in this article about keeping pictures simple with minimal subject matter in the frame.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

Sibling Assignment #163: Buoy and Sailboat on the Hudson River

Here's what I assigned for Carol, Christy, and me to do:

Since Carol is taking an online photography class, let's do an exercise together.

1.  Read this article.

2.  Make yourself pause, look, and see and create a well-composed picture following the instruction of Bobby Baker.  In other words, keep the picture simple.

3.  Write a paragraph about your experience doing this.

Carol combined my assignment with an assignment from her class and presented a picture of upside down solar lights, here, and Christy focused on a door in the Annie room in her Martins Creek home, here.

I was struck the most in reading Bobby Baker's article by his emphasis on minimalism.  I liked his idea that pictures can be beautiful when there is very little in the frame.  I have been working pretty consistently with negative space in pictures for a few years now and the way it calms the mind, gives the mind a rest, and provides space within a picture's frame for contemplation and rest.  

When the Deke and I met up with Adrienne and Alex Friday night at Growlers and Gill, it excited me when they told me about a path along the Hudson River not from Adrienne's apartment at Nyack Beach State Park.  I immediately thought that since the Hudson is such a wide river as it flows by Nyack, that I'd be able to take pictures focused on a single image with the river providing plenty of negative space.

I was right.  I took quite a few pictures, here, but for this assignment, I'll post this one:

As you can see, it was a hazy day along the trail of Nyack Beach State Park.  It gives this picture a dreamy quality.  I tried to give this picture plenty of empty space and the river provides that.  To me, there's a contrast at work between the fixed solidness of the buoy and the light mobility of the sailboat and I like how they sit in proximity to each other.  I also like the three different textures of the background as the near shore blends into the hills behind it which blend into the gray sky.  It's all gray, but different shades of gray, making this nearly empty scene dreamy and calming to look upon.

Hmmm....I decided to see what this picture would look like with some of the water in the foreground cropped.  See what you think:

Three Beautiful Things 05/17/15: Milestones, Dinners, Popcorn Party

1.  Somehow, it makes the drive from Nyack to Greenbelt seem shorter and faster now that I've identified milestones or turning points along the way.  The first one comes when we leave the Garden State Turnpike and enter the New Jersey Turnpike; the second is when the New Jersey Turnpike goes from being six lanes, with three of them dedicated to cars only, back to being a freeway of cars, trucks, and buses mixed together; the third is the Delaware Memorial Bridge; the last milestone is the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel.  As we pass under the claustrophobic confines of this tunnel, we can say, "All right! We are almost home! (Unless 1-95 becomes a congested mess!)"

2.  We had a safe drive home with only a few congestion delays and I headed straight to the Co-op to stock the pantry and start thinking about meals for the upcoming week.

3.  The Deke and I celebrated the end of a great three day weekend trip to see Jack and Adrienne with a buttery, salty, crunchy popcorn party.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/16/15: Folks Who Live on the Hill, Walking the Hudson, Hide and Seek with Jack

1.  I often forget wealthy people live in the world.  Oh, I read about them in the news, but I rarely encounter the wealthy or lay eyes on their houses.  Today, I took a very short drive to Upper Nyack on my way to Nyack Beach State Park and there they were:  the wealthy.  Upper Nyack features several old houses with stone walls, tons of rooms, and smartly manicured lawns, a handful of them perched above the Hudson River with what I imagine are spectacular views.  On the rare occasion that I see houses like this, I always think the same thing -- what a headache.

2.  Nyack Beach State Park features a wide path along the Hudson River.  I enjoyed walking this path, taking pictures, which I'll look when I return to Greenbelt, and nodding to other people walking the same path, along with bicyclists and a handful of people fishing from the bank.

3.  The Deke left to run some errands and to pick up Adrienne, leaving me to have solo time with Jack.  We spent some time watching YouTubes of Thomas the Train transforming into Opthomas Prime, and then we played, the highlight being hide and seek.  When Jack plays hide and seek, he tells me where he's going to hide (under Mommy's bed), I act like I don't know where he is, and when he gets impatient with me looking for him under tables, in closets, behind the couch, and in drawers, he calls out to me, "Bop! I'm under Mommy's bed!" and he laughed and laughed when I said, "I can't find Jack.  This is making me so tired, I'm going to take a nap."  I lay down on the bed Jack was under and when he popped out, I acted like I'd just seen a ghost and Jack laughed and laughed.  He's a tireless lad at four years old, with a lot on his mind and an active imagination.  He's a challenge to keep up with -- and I don't think I quite meet that challenge!  

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/15/15: On the Road to Nyack, Shorties and Snacks at Growler and Gill, Quiet and NINKASI!

1.  The Deke and I got our weekend bags packed and piled into the Subaru and it was off to Nyack, NY.  All the landmarks are becoming familiar:  the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, the Delaware Memorial Bridge, the service area on the New Jersey Turnpike named after New Jersey luminaries (e.g. James Fenimore Cooper, Clara Barton, Woodrow Wilson -- Tony Soprano hasn't made the cut yet), the sometime bewildering Toll Plazas on both the New Jersey and the Garden State Parkway, and exit #11 off I-87 that signals we are almost to Adrienne's.

2.  I wore my t-shirt representing my favorite tap room west of the Mississippi (16 Tons in Eugene) to visit my favorite tap room east of the Mississippi (Growler and Grill in Nanuet) and Growler and Gill was all I'd hoped for and more.  Being served in shorties, I drank a couple of New York IPAs, another from Wisconsin, and closed out with a Helles Lager from Germany.  The beers were terrific and the meat and cheese plate, order of spinach spread/dip with chips and seasoned bread, order of Polish pierogis, and cheese pizza hit the spot.  It was fun meeting up with Adrienne and her pal Alex, and, in good time, the Deke drove to the day care center so Jack could join us.  This was a great party.

3.  I was puzzled at Growler and Grill.  The last couple of times I've been there on a Friday afternoon, the place got really crowded and then noisy and it was difficult to talk -- but, tonight, it stayed quiet and it was easy to talk at our table.  Then, being the crafty sleuth I am, I discovered that the Growler and Gill has outside seating in the back.  It was a warm evening and a pretty good crowd was seated out there.  I was happy to be indoors with good short glasses of beer, excellent snacks, and unbeatable company.  (Oh!  By the way, Growler and Gill had Ninkasi's Oatis on tap and had 12 oz bottles of both Ninkasi's Tricerahops Double IPA and Oatis on the shelf.  I haven't seen a Ninkasi bottle or tap handle anywhere east of the Mississippi River -- seeing them startled me with delight and I brought a couple Tricerahops home to Adrienne's.  They will bring me some Saturday bliss.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/14/15: Road Trip Confirmed, Spicy Soup, Change for the Better?

1.  The Deke and I confirmed with each other this morning that we will be hitting the road Friday morning to go see Adrienne and Jack in good ole Nyack.  This means a road trip for Charly and Maggie, not always their favorite thing to do.

2.  Molly and David and Olivia would be paying us a late afternoon visit, so I decided to make us grown ups a pot of cauliflower soup (to which I also add broccoli) and so I sauteed a couple of onions with red pepper (my addition), spiced them up with bay leaf and Chinese five spice powder and red pepper flakes, added five cloves of crushed garlic, let that cook a bit and then made about 4 and 1/2 cups of vegetable/chicken broth, added the cauliflower and broccoli, boiled the vegetables until tender, transferred it into the blender, blended it until velvety, put the velvety mixture back in the pot, added vinegar and a can of coconut milk and, PRESTO! -- the soup was ready.  I had a good amount of leftover cooked rice on hand and this spicy soup is particularly tasty served over brown rice.

3.  The Deke and I had a good talk about her work. The fact that a particular student was transferred out of her home room might help her end the school year better -- and it's an action that could make the student and the student's mother more pleased -- but, then again, who knows?  For the Deke and me, it'll be nice to have a three day weekend and a trip to New York to get away from such things.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/13/15: Doc Says I'm Fine, Black Beans and Rice, Parkland and Shindig

1.  I drove out to the Johns Hopkins clinic near Laurel and my doctor asked me about the incident Saturday when I blacked out and then he listened to my heart and poked around a bit, liked what he heard and felt -- and liked my answers to his questions, and sent me home.  "I think you're just fine. It was probably a one time thing."  I celebrated this good news by letting it rip with a cup of coffee and a cranberry orange scone at Starbucks at the Laurel Town Center.

2.  By sauteing onion with green and red pepper, adding garlic to it, and then adding black beans, hot sauce, red wine, red wine vinegar, cumin, oregano, and brown sugar, and pouring this tasty mixture over brown rice and topping it with shredded cheese and some Tostitos Hint of Lime corn chips, I fixed the Deke and me a very tasty dinner.  Oh! By the way, if you try this at home, I'm told sour cream (or yogurt) also is a good topping for this dish.

3.  I had started this movie a couple of nights ago and this evening I finished Parkland.  It tells the stories of the medical staff at the Parkland Hospital, the Dallas F.B.I. and Secret Service agents, Abraham Zapruder, and Lee Harvey Oswald's brother, Robert in the hours leading up to the JFK assassination and the few days immediately following.  Here's what I liked about this movie:  it was not a thesis movie.  It didn't work out any arguments about who killed Kennedy.  Rather, through rapid cross cutting between its four stories, successfully captured the chaos of those manic few days, taking us, I thought, into the things happening one or two degrees removed from the killing itself.  It's not a tidy movie.  It comes to no conclusions.  Its sympathies for certain characters are clear -- and I enjoyed that -- but mostly I enjoyed that this movie let those days be the chaotic mess that they were.

Then I watched a retrospective of the television show Shindig on YouTube.  I had forgotten how full of energy and great music Shindig was -- I was especially riveted by a Tina Turner/Marvin Gaye duet and medley.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Three Beautiful Things 05/12/15: Appt. on Wednesday, Back Up, First Solo Flight

1.  Both of my doctors have web-based messaging services and yesterday, after a nudge from several Facebook friends, I let both my doctors know I had blacked out on Saturday.  My primary doctor asked me if I wanted to come in ASAP.  I couldn't come in right away, but made an appointment for first thing Wednesday morning and so I'll be driving to Laurel to talk things over with Dr. Cullen -- and, peering into my crystal ball, I see blood work in my immediate future.

2.  Most of my files and folders were already backed up, but I'd neglected a few of them and I had some housecleaning to do with stuff on my desktop.  I got it almost all done.  My "holding hands" and "come have a sit' folders might need some attention.

3.  Molly and Hiram closed the deal this afternoon on the purchase of their house and I watched Olivia and David solo for the first time, solo.  We did pretty well.  I tried to set up situations where they weren't competing for who gets what physical object and to keep a running dialogue going where I asked questions about Batman or Bird Town or Monkey Lunch and that kept them, for the most part, getting along and us having fun.  We all survived Grandpa's first solo flight really well.