All posts by Jon

The best way home from Chipotle

Where Quarry Rd departs from Euclid Ave, you can take a little adventure and believe you’re somewhere else. Or sometime else. Or both. It’s only for about 1/4 mile, but it’s still worth it.

It reminds me a little of my Dad, who used to always explore interesting ways to get from place to place that were off the beaten path. He didn’t like to take the same road all the time. I can feel the twinkle in his eye as I drive around the sharp corners and come up the steep little hill that ends at the edge of the railroad tracks. There is an old fashioned signal at the top. Early and late in the day you’d better be prepared to stop since there are lots of VRE trains and also the occasional AMTRAK. Dad would have liked this route.

Rachel is a convert now to this little road and if I ever forget to take it on our way home Friday evenings from Chipotle I hear about it. She usually makes me turn around and correct my mistake.

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Positive Thinking in Plain View

I’ve had two great business trips to the San Francisco Bay area lately…I grew up nearby but hadn’t been back more than a couple of times in the previous 3 decades before this.

Was staying down in San Jose and spotted these street banners on the way back from the restaurant.

Great attitude.

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Nepali Embassy Visa

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it turned out to be convenient to drop by the nepal embassy in DC to get my visa before the trek.  it’s in a neat old building near many other embassies just off connecticut ave. the visa room looked like an old style living room or home library from the early 1900s and a quiet man sat at a small table. he took my $40. and said the visa would be ready on friday afternoon which just happened to be the day/time I was going to be driving near dc again. seemed like good karma. on friday, the visa was complete, and my passport was in a little cubbyhole arranged by surname/alphabet. that’s all there was to it. i wandered around inside the embassy for a little while but it was very small and there wasn’t much to see. extremely relaxed atmosphere in there. so now i have my visa. i could have waded through the mass of humanity in the kathmandu airport and bought it there (in probably less overall time) but this was more interesting. here’s a picture of the building.

IBM Personal Computer Software

2012-10-30_12-19-52_204This is a new low in boring titles. But in 1985 a personal computer was a thing of wonder for an engineer. I paid somewhere close to $4,000 back then for a system with no hard drive. I got the extra option of a color graphics monitor. I thought it wasn’t a computer if you couldn’t do graphs on it.

Software included PE (personal editor), Lotus 123 (which Microsoft later ripped off to turn into Excel and drove Lotus out of business), and BASIC (a computer language).  And I’d love to tell you about Prodigy!! (look it up)

I loved that computer. I used it to chart Rachel’s contractions with Sara (half joking, half serious. Yeah, probably more than half serious).

I eventually added a whopping 20MB hard drive, more memory, and some other things. Asteroids was the greatest on the PC.

These manuals and software disks are all that remain. I advertised the PC and the software for free on Ebay and Craigslist and got no takers. I sadly took it to the hazardous waste disposal day in Manassas. But it was part of freeing me from ‘stuff’.  I eventually put these manuals and disks in the trash can at the curb. Sad, but true.

Time to move on.

 

 

It’s hard to be simple

That sounded like ‘it’s hard to be humble’. This has nothing to do with that classic song.

I think one of my most important tasks is to simplify everything. More accurately, the goal is to divest in large measures.

It’s something I am really excited about. It’s only through a lifetime of well-developed reflexes that this does not come naturally.  A good example is the garden, which continued to grow (NPI).  So I planted more. I made sure there was always something in bloom during the year and in the winter, there was interesting ‘structure’.  The plants grew closer together. The weeds became more intertwined with the plants. It took more time to keep from becoming one tangled mass. (This is starting to sound like a scene from an all-time favorite movie, “Being There” with Peter Sellers. But it’s true.)  All it took was neglecting it for a few weekends and the cost to reclaim it was huge. While the neglect is linear, the effort to repair grows exponentially. So I’m taking things out. I’m creating space between the plants and bushes that can be mulched and the weeds dispatched with Roundup or with a few simple instructions to a Honduran gardener. The same concept applies to life.

I’m running into lots of other people who have come to the same conclusion. I don’t remember getting this idea from anyone else, though. I certainly didn’t get it from TV, the internet or any of the advertising that permeates our lives. They are all about buying more and having more. It’s a habit we’ve grown up with. But at the core of many faiths, including genuine Christianity, is the idea that things aren’t important. People and ideas are important.

While it involves swimming upstream, it will take me to the source.

 

Sanibel Stubbings

 

From June 2011. Sara and John invited us to their place on Sanibel.  Gorgeous sand and water and a great weekend getaway.

I can’t decide which pic I like better….so I chose both. One is the classic Gilligan’s island view of a palm tree with its drooping frond.  The other is Rachel and John.

Hello iPhone

afters much deliberation i’ve gone to the iPhone. it’s fantastic! with bluetooth on, the phone starts streaming audio when i turn on the car and it stops when i turn off the car. then it starts the next time at the right spot. siri takes me places and shows me things. it is all very well put together.

that means a transfer from the droid. it served me well. yesterday i moved all its pics to the pc. there were many i intended to add to this blog. i’ve found that my most expressive pictures seem to come from my cellphone. they can be grainy, poorly exposed, and have no depth of field. but they have depth of expression. the droid was always there, in the moment. it caught the feeling. people are not as intimidated staring into the barrel of a cell phone as the are staring into the barrel of a DSLR. i would not trade my carefully crafted, gigapixel landscape shots from around the world for anything but they serve different purposes. in the case of my droid, the message of the media is: always there.  and, ‘this is what i was feeling’.

i’m going to post a series of after-the-fact pictures as i cull through the old shots. it’s surprising how vivid the memories are.

and as for the iPhone 5, i hope the camera is not too good.

I didn’t know

I didn’t know I was part of a trend. I’ve just wanted to have less stuff, and for what I have to be high quality so it lasts. Got that from my parents. I’ve wanted to trade things for art.  Going to Nepal reinforced that somehow.

So I was looking through my latest college alumni magazine and found a link to classmates with blogs. Following one led me here and to this Patagonia Black Friday ad (link at bottom of this post). OK so it’s a little self serving since Patagonia makes great stuff but the message is catching on. People are buying quality used clothes for themselves on Ebay. Awesome. I can afford to buy new, but I don’t always like to. I don’t like buying new books when I can find great used ones online for a dollar. The shipping usually costs more than the book. Why not extend the idea. My own favorite clothing is used.

I don’t know what this means for the economy. There’s probably a view that we will sink into more recession if stupid shoppers ever give up going deep into credit card debt buying more cheap crap that they don’t need (and breaks anyway). Somehow I think it will be a very long time, if ever, before this gets into the broader American mindset and has any noticeable effect. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a great thing to do and there is a growing opportunity so that’s a good thing. And it’s good to have company.

Patagonia ad