General Blog

General Blog

March 1, 2014

The new car

I‘m out of Orlando, driving over to Palm Bay for a fun model railroad ops session. Nobody else could go – the invite list is tight and my buddy has a cold and backed out. So it’s just me. And that’s fine. I’m finally getting a chance to get my new Mini Cooper out of the city, to let it loose on the wide open road. I’ve got the windows down, the sunroof open, and its a balmy 74 degrees. The sun’s just overhead, so sliding the shade forward screens me. The car’s flying along at 80+mph, sipping gas in […]
February 19, 2014


I’m getting rid of my little yellow bug. I loved that car. Got it back in 2000, back when they were new and different. When we drove up through Georgia, people came out of the service station to gawk at it. I was the coolest uncle ever. On the road it handled well, and after all these years the controls feel as comfortable to me as the hilt of a samurai’s sword. My fingers know where everything is. No fumbling. Second nature. But over the recent years the relationship soured. There was the fact that even though that car spends […]
October 7, 2013

Rhine – Day Twelve – Homeward Bound and Travel Thoughts

I think it was the dread of traveling again via air that kept me awake most the night. After all, I’m dealing with all the crap, along with a wife with a broken wing. In preparation, we repacked everything down and condensed it into our two checkins and one carry bag. One very heavy carry bag. And I’m the bag who carries it. The driver was on time – thank goodness – but dropped us at the wrong terminal. Yes, we were flying UNITED AIRLINES but it was actually Lufthansa. This mean a good hike to our checkin gate. I […]
October 6, 2013

Rhine – Day Eleven – Lemonade

You gotta be kidding me. The phone did not ring. TRAVEL INSURED INTL denied the claim and the special flight out. Why? How could they leave a woman in a foreign country with a broken arm? It turns out their non-English-speaking doctor did not fill out the O2 entry in the documentation he was supposed to provide (he only had a simple satchel with him, with no means of measuring it anyway). And I even had included (with the eight pages of documentation the insurance company wanted) his own form with the FIT TO FLY box checked, AND the hospital’s […]
October 5, 2013

Rhine – Day Ten – Broke her crown

The morning of debarkation. We’ve put the suitcases out in the hall with ribbons to show our transfer to the hotel. I’m walking down the hall, toting my carryon, calling out to an Aussie I knew. And JB, somewhere behind me and following, trips on some sheets left in the halls by the cleaners and faceplants. Crash! At first I was pretty angry – how embarrassing. Everyone’s standing around cooing and she can’t seem to tell where she hurts. I thought she was just shaken. But no, she can’t move her left arm. I’ll give them this – Avalon (the […]
October 4, 2013

Rhine – Day Nine – Black hearts and round wheels

After a night bumping into locks, today we ended up on Amsterdam. Interesting city, of course, with all the bikes. No, I mean ALL THE BIKES. Unless you’ve been here, you have no idea how many bikes are here. Racks and racks of bikes. Every street has a bike lane. Bikes rule the city. While this might seem like Nirvana for me given my interest in bicycling, it didn’t come across as a particularly friendly city. Pedestrians are threatened by cars and bikes. People toss the finger and curse each other with great abandon. So, no, I don’t think I […]
October 3, 2013

Rhine – Day Eight – How big is your bomb hole?

Started the day docked at Cologne. Interesting place – I’m actually sitting on the upper deck of the ship, writing this while looking over the riverfront. Anyway, we only had a half day here, so we got the usual walk through tour. The funny thing I’m noticing is that each of the guides tell us how pulverized the city center was in World War Two. That’s apparently a common theme here. And yes, I feel bad about the destruction and war is hell, but then again, I’ve seen bomb damage in London. “If you don’t want to lose your Ritz, […]
October 2, 2013

Rhine – Interlude

Sometimes so much happens that you need to put in a side chapter to explain other details of the tour. A good writer shouldn’t have to do that, and can carry it in a sentence or two. So here’s my interlude. Thursday night was interesting. After a long dinner created by a local chef (I had some sort of beef patty things that I ended up literally licking the plate over), we retired to the lounge. There, a local trio of musicians (two guitarists and a violinist) played tunes classical and otherwise for us. I’ll say they were good, since […]
October 1, 2013

Rhine – Day Seven – Shooting the Gorge

Pulled back the blinds and looked out the next morning. First pleasant surprise: the tour boat locked to our side (with neighbors as close as a Brooklyn tenement) was gone. Second pleasant surprise: the clouds were gone too. We went up on deck as the crew cast off, the ship pivoting neatly in the channel and easing into the current. It was cold and windy (i.e. even more cold) with a wet spitty rain lashing at us. But we were all excited – the weather was better than yesterday (i.e. we could see the Rudesheim Mountains) and we were looking […]
September 30, 2013

Rhine – Day Six – Wet Ink and Player Pianos

Woke up in Mainz this morning with more water above the boat than below it – gray skies and driving rain. Still. JB and I went out and joined the walking tour of the old city. Saw all sorts of old, wet buildings and got the idea that this city has been pummeled by everyone from the Visigoths to the American Air Force. It’s an odd collection of the medieval, the renaissance, all the way up to post-modern. I’d like to see the city and its hills sometime when it’s not sleeting down rain. Then we visited the Gutenberg museum […]