Boston vs. D.C.

July 27, 2017

or “Sittin’ on the dock of the bay watchin’ the tide roll away.”

This past year we found occasion to vacation in both Boston and DC. Both are on the East Coast but I find the differences and similarities striking:

  • First, Boston is on water while DC is a swamp, at least as far as I’m concerned. This alone gives Boston a huge advantage.
  • If you are into history and museums then you won’t be disappointed with either.
  • Both are expensive destinations. I suspect Boston is more so. However Mrs. Olson is the accountant in our family and therefore I don’t know for sure.
  • Bostonians are much friendlier. Does anyone ever laugh in DC? Full disclosure: I worked in DC from time to time and thus my opinion is highly influenced by those experiences.
  • Parking is non-existent in both cities. Don’t bring an automobile! Mass transit and the bus are definitely the better choice. Like, how could you build the Smithonian on the Mall without parking? Did the horses just graze on the lawn while waiting on their people?
  • The Boston Big Dig and the airport including the rental car facility architect was Franz Kafka. If your my age surely you remember “Charlie and the MTA”. Well, this is the 21st Century’s equivalent. DC is much easier to navigate by auto. You just can’t Park when you arrive at your destination.
  • Both have great restaurants.

In the end I preferred Boston. Why? When I tired of museums, history, great restaurants I could “sit on the dock on the Bay and watch the tide roll away”.


Grand Canyon never gets old

July 4, 2017

Today’s  the 4th of July.  I’m sitting on the patio thinking about where I’d like to be.  First thing that popped into my head was the Grand Canyon.  Walking up to the Canyon’s lip and staring out onto the vast expanse always takes my breath away (Wonder where your breath goes?)

This is my first post from my iPad with a photo – Major breakthrough for me thanks to a Workflow provided by Macstories. 

Sgt Pepper’s 50th Anniversary

June 1, 2017

Sgt Pepper’s 50th Anniversary

Sgt. Pepper: it was 50 years ago today Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beattles was released. It is one of the greatest and most influential albums of all time. I’ve listened to the last track A Day in the Life more than any other song by an order of magnitude. Sgt. Pepper is an album to be listened to not just heard. That is, sit down and pay attention, don’t just play it as background music.

I was a student in Chicago that Summer which became know a The Summer of Love. We were deluged with new groups such as Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Greateful Dead, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience just to name a few. Timothy Leary told us to tune in, turn on, and drop out. The Beattle’s Sgt. Pepper conveyed the spirit of those days perfectly.

A remix of the album has just been released (Called the Anniversary Edition) with several different options including vinyl – who still has a turntable — ME. Giles Martin, son of George Martin who produced the original, produced the remix. I’ve been lucky enough to hear segments and the sound is noticeably enhanced and better. If there ever was an album worth purchasing this is the one. I’m queuing up to purchase my copy.

Woke up,
Got out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head,

Gravity vs. time vs. Age

December 12, 2016

According to Einstien’s theory of General Relativity gravity slows down time. That is, clocks tick faster on GPS satelites than they do on the Earth. Clocks on the surface of the Earth would tick faster than clocks on the Sun because the Sun has more gravity. The greater the gravity the slower the clock ticks

Based on my experience, a data point of one, age makes clocks tick faster. Clocks tick much faster now that I’m 70 than when I was 16.

Why didn’t Einstein include age in the theory of General Relativity?

Desert island Discs

November 14, 2016

nature-fakaravacoconuttree_1024x768Lately, I’ve become addicted to Desert Island Discs, a BBC podcast, in which Kristi Young interviews a well-known or successful person. As part of the discussion the guest names 8 tunes special to them. Near the show’s end they are asked to pick just one if they had to and also one thing they could take to the desert island.

I decided to skip the interview and proceed directly to picking the eight tunes. Now, picking eight seems nearly impossible to me and will change over time but here goes my attempt:

  1. Like a Rolling Stone from Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisted album blew my mind. I grew up in a Lawerence Welk on Saturday night household. The first time I heard Dylan’s lyrics a whole new Universe popped out of the void. It was an angry tune and since I was a teenager I was angy most of the time. Probably about having to milk our three cows before breakfast. 2016-10-13 Late breaking news: Mr. Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. You can’t make this stuff up,
  2. A Day in the Life from the Beattle’s Sgt. Pepper album. The best track on the best album of all time showed me how good music could be. Also, reminds me of my Chicago student days at DeVry Institute on Belmont Avenue and my good friends the Condellos.
  3. Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel. Defining song of my youth and special for Gwen and I. First time I heard this song on WLS I was pulling into the Farm, and left the Pylmouth running until the song finished. Years later Gwen and I were taking the same College class. One of our assignments was to write a paper on the meaning of The Sounds of Silence. As I remember the incident I explained the meaning to here. Her grade was an A. Mine was a C+. And now I think I like Disturbed’s version of Sounds of Silence better
  4. Miss Atomic Bomb by The Killers. This has to be the newest tune on my list. Reminds me of my youth for some reason. Perhaps the allegory to the BOMB and man’s evil nature or am I reading too much into the lyrics?
  5. The Pretender by Jackson Browne – my theme song – I started out so young and strong only to surrender. Growing up in the 60s revolution was thick as fog in the air and we were bound to change the World for the better. Then, I woke up one day some 20 years later to realize I had surrendered to the MAN, got a regular job, got married, and had kids! Wow, What happened to the Revolution?
  6. Both Sides Now (Clouds) by Judy Collins – First time I heard this was in the back parking lot at Generous Dynamics (pun intended) in Fort Worth. I really loved this song. Her voice was absolutely haunting. Then I bought the album and discovered Amazing Grace which was even better. So my sixth pick is Amazing Grace. Actually I’d like to include the whole album but that’s against the rules as near as I can ascertain.
  7. Ninth Symphony by Ludwick Von Beethoven. A 66 minute symphony probably doesn’t qualify as a “tune”, but I’m including it anyway. I’m sure I heard the symphony the first time in my Music Appreciation class at Western Illinois University. Turned on my appreciation for classical music. Over the years I’ve listened to it often. The Ode to Joy – Alle Menschen werden Brüder still gives me goose bumps. (Do geese have bumps?)
  8. Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. First time I heard this tune was of course the first time I watched The Wizard of Oz. However my favorite version is by Israel which I first heard at my youngest daughter’s wedding reception on a beach in Mexico. Every time I hear it I’m reminded, “Hey I’m old, I made it! Got through most of the travails and tribulations of life.

Okay, there’s the eight. I’m sure if I drew this list up tomorrow there would be some changes.

Now, if I could only choose one for my desert island paradise what would it be? After lenghtly deliveration – The 9th Symphony – mostly because its 66 minutes long.

And the One Thing I choose to take to my desert island abode would be the book Godel, Escher, Bach better known as GEB by Douglas Hofstadter. With all the free time I’ll have on the island I’ll be able to re-read it until I understand it.

That’s about it folks. Hope you enjoy the music

On a final unrelated note I wrote the article on my iPad with 1writer and used the Workflow app to publish to WordPress. I haven’t solved including images Yet. I may add an image from my Mac. So if your reading this check back later for the image.

The State Conference – the Agony & the Ecstasy

May 28, 2016


The State Conference – the Agony & the Ecstasy with apologies to Michelangelo and Charlton Heston.

I kept thinking “It’s finally over!” as I drove home last Thursday (May 19). The next day I did absolutely nothing. Our Collin County Master Gardener Association (CCMGA) had just hosted the 2016 Texas State Master Gardener Conference in a barn at Myers Park and Event Center and I was exhausted.

Looking back over the past couple of years I realize I’ve been working with some really talented, hard working, and results driven Master Gardeners. They planned the conference down to the most minute detail and executed it perfectly. And of course things changed every day; this group proved to be exceptionally agile. in summary, I was continually amazed at capabilities of these people and their willingness to jump into the abyss where needed.

We started planning over 2 years ago, maybe 3 – time flies when you are having fun. We secured the location, booked speakers (Amy Stewart & Dr. David Zlesak among others), advertised for attendees, booked sponsors, secured meal caterers, — the list goes on and on and on. We held the State Conference in a barn and therefore had to bring in everything we needed from from chairs & tables, to A/V equipment, to restrooms.


Also, a group of us spend countless hours tending the research and demonstration gardens at Myers Park.

Then came State Conference Week. On Monday we all pitched in and prepared the barns for the Conference (some worked Sunday also). On Tuesday 520 attendees descended on Myers Park and the Conference commenced. On Wednesday the conference continued and reached a crescendo that night I suppose – the Banquet in the barn. They all say the food was outstanding and the program was long. I was so tired I just enjoyed sitting! Thursday was Tour day. Rain had threatened the Conference all week but so far just flirted with us. Our luck ran out on Thursday. I coordinated the Chambersville Tree Farm and Rose Garden Tour. In our case the rain stopped during the tour and started again after the tour was over. So, I guess God was on our side.

The State Conference week was exhausting. However, everything came together as if by magic and the team executed the Conference flawlessly.

In the end the satisfaction of a job well done was worth the effort!



One thing in my life I would change

October 9, 2014



Last Sunday in church the topic was “given the opportunity what is one thing in my life I’d change?” Of course that got me to thinking…. Many things in my life I would like to change:

  • I’d weigh less
  • I’d eat healthier
  • I’d get more sleep
  • I’d volunteer more
  • I’d watch less TV
  • I’d drink less beer and wine
  • etc.

Correspondingly there are things in my life I would not change

  • My family
  • Time and place I live


150px-Wooden_hourglass_3I came to my answer in a roundabout way. I’ve always wished I had more “time“. Queen Elizabeth I once stated “I would give half my kingdom for a moment of time!” – (arcane fact, a “moment” was 1/40 of an hour, something to do with Sundials.) Time is a most precious resource and one that cannot be banked or saved.

What change would give me the most return in terms of time? It seems to me the one thing I could change to yield the maximum payout in terms of time would be to simplify my life. There are other benefits to simplifying not the least of which are:

  • More moneySimplifying means less stuff to buy and maintain. Only buy stuff  you need not what you want. Throw away of sell stuff you don’t need.
  • Less StressSimplifying reduces responsibilities, commitments and stuff that you don’t want


I’ve actually tried to simplify my lifestyle over the last few years. A couple of examples:

  • I sold my travel trailer a few years back because of the time I spent maintaining it.
  • Over the years I collected a fairly large library. One day, realizing I would never read most of them again I tossed 1/4th of them in boxes to sell at Half Price Books. I’ve gone through this process multiple times and collapsed a library of 5 bookcases to 4 selves on one bookcase. As a result I’ve much more space in my home office, it’s less cluttered, and much more pleasant environment.
My bookcase

My bookcase

Going forward I plan to:

  • Continue to divest myself of stuff I don’t need.
  • Even though I’m retired I’ve too many time commitments. I plan to start saying NO to new requests and find a graceful way to bow out of the less important, to me, time commitments.
  • A couple of years before I retired I a few articles that claimed the biggest problem most retirees face is “what to do with all the time you now have”. So I spent some time thinking and created an extensive list of goals. What a mistake! My problem is not enough time not too much time! So, I’m going to prune the goals I am working on to one or two at a time.

There’s much more I could try to simplify my life but I’ve learned my lesson for at least a short while. Don’t try to do too much at once or in this case don’t try to do too much less at once.


Some helpful resources