We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, February 4. 2015
Thursday, January 1. 2015
It's time for 2015 travel planning if we have not done that yet (most have done so already, I suspect, but some people are last-minute "planners").
I have a new case of a fellow who has developed a travel phobia. To be accurate, he has not really developed it, it has just been exposed by his frustrated family.
Many people with fears of all sorts never have them exposed because they find ways and excuses to avoid the things that make them uncomfortable. Typical excuses: "I hate cocktail parties," "I hate going to sports stadiums," "I don't want to go to that stupid place," "It's dangerous," "I hate cities," "Airplanes suck," "It's too expensive," "I don't need any new friends," etc etc.
Phobias are more often identified by avoidances than by real episodes of fear or discomfort. How does one tell what is a phobic avoidance from a plain dislike? Well, a little ruthless dose of self-scrutiny can answer most of your questions about your own fears and insecurities.
Like agoraphobics, travel phobics dart from place of safety to place of safety and familiarity no matter how often over-visited, never enjoy the trip or the adventures of life, and constrict their experiences and the richness of their lives in the process. Carpe diem. Life is short and shorter with each new day and each new year.
Men are particularly reluctant to admit flaws and weaknesses. Pride and shame prevent people from owning up to the personal weaknesses of their fears and frailties. I give blogger Ann Althouse, for example, credit for acknowledging her travel phobia (she feels that a driving trip from Madison to Austin is a daunting adventure). Properly naming one's fears, instead of making excuses, is the first step towards addressing them and conquering them.
What we term "simple phobias" are among the easiest things we shrinks have to deal with. In my experience, people with travel phobias and adventure phobias, once mastered, want to go everywhere and do everything.
Sunday, December 28. 2014
We loved this family-friendly hotel in the Dolomites - southern Alps - now part of Italy but Austrian in culture and food. People speak German and at least some Italian, and also Ladin. Mostly Ladin at home, because nobody else in the world speaks it.
This hotel is in the Val Gardena. You get a rental car in Malpensa airport, and drive north almost to the Brenner Pass.
Hiking the Dolomites is on lots of folks' bucket lists. It can range from easy and relaxed to very challenging hiking. You do not have to climb those peaks, although we have a neighbor who climbed each one of them. A good thing is that there are refugios with coffee, beer, snacks, and frische buttermilch every few miles. There are trail maps to sort-of help you from getting too lost, but getting a little lost is part of the fun.
Thursday, December 4. 2014
He then took each to the side for a personal word.
Perhaps not as meaningful as his farewell speech to the troops, but the depth of his relationships which grew from the war followed him for years to come. Many continued to visit him at Mount Vernon. For obvious reasons, he will remain the only US President elected unanimously by the Electoral College.
Monday, November 17. 2014
Relaxed and enjoyed the sound of waves, played dominoes with the in-laws, ate fish every day, did some surf-casting (caught plenty, but nothing big enough), read my book (The War That Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan), and today I'm going kayaking or paddle-boarding. If I can, paddle-boarding, it's better for your core. But either is a good workout.
I had blackened lane snapper last night at a restaurant that didn't appear to be more than a hole in the wall, probably the best I've had. Sometimes it's best not to judge based on the superficial appearance. We had breaded hogfish the night before, at the in-laws'.
Flight home tomorrow in the early morning. This is the second year I took a mid-November vacation. It's a good time to go south. Not only do you stay warm when the rest of the country is chilling, but you get two shortened workweeks heading into Thanksgiving. Then you roll right into the Christmas holiday season.
Wednesday, November 12. 2014
A few more pics below the fold -
Continue reading "NYC's Trinity Church"
Monday, October 20. 2014
Exploring southern Manhattan on foot, as if a tourist: A photo report from the First Annual Maggie's Urban Hike
We began our jolly urban hike on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, Battery Park, where the ferries depart to Staten Island, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty.
What is fatiguing is not the hiking itself - it's the overstimulation. So much going on, so much to look at.
Below the fold, a photo summary of our hike, with relevant links -
Continue reading "Exploring southern Manhattan on foot, as if a tourist: A photo report from the First Annual Maggie's Urban Hike"
Saturday, October 18. 2014
All in all, the trip was a success. We stuck to the agenda, with a few extra stops baked in, up through to Chinatown. After that, minor adjustments were made to accommodate individual needs and schedules. But we made great time and managed to take in a good portion of the city's major sites and neighborhoods.
I hope everyone had a great time, I know Mrs. Bulldog and myself did. We enjoyed the company immensely. It was great to meet so many people and enjoy one of the world's great cities on such a personal level. From Fraunces Tavern to Cooper Union and McSorley's (where one member of the group was proud to announce he'd celebrated his 21st birthday recently - lucky young man!), we managed to soak in the flavors of New York. I think the one thing that surprised me most was that Stanford White designed the arch in Washington Square Park. In addition, one of the statues on the arch was designed by Alexander Calder's father.
I'd like to personally thank BD and Mrs. BD for introducing us to the Campbell Apartment in Grand Central. One of the coolest drinking establishments in NYC that I've ever been in. I will return with friends and family...and maybe even a few clients.
Saturday, October 11. 2014
Thursday, October 9. 2014
My pal who returned from a couple of weeks in Zambia is quite the wildlife photographer.
Wish he had included photos of the people, town life, etc., but these are wonderful.
More pics below the fold -
Continue reading "More Zambia wildlife"
Tuesday, October 7. 2014
A street fair on Lex
They are cooking that corn the right way. The city is always a blast to walk around in, everywhere.
More pics below the fold -
Continue reading "Strolling around midtown Manhattan, a week or so ago"
Sunday, October 5. 2014
I do not mind looking like an American tourist. In fact, I often try to, just for fun.
Northern Italy, 2013, #2: Breakfast time on Lake Garda
Saturday, September 20. 2014
Wednesday, September 17. 2014
No, not if you ask me. The more people are able to get out of their comfort zones, the better. Furthermore, the only brake I know to slow the rapid passage of time in life is new experiences, new places, new stimulation, new people, and new ideas. Otherwise, it can all just be a blur of same, same and, next thing you know, seven years have passed.
Tuesday, September 16. 2014
Some people seem stingy to the point of sadism, cruelty. Envelopes in Marriott hotels invite tips for maids
Marriott is right to do that. Like restaurant servers, these people live on their tips. Leave the $ on the table each morning and, if you stay a few days in a place, you will get better attention and a grateful attitude.
Always tip generously. It's an easy way to make the world a more pleasant and cheerful place for all. In the US, roughly 20% in restaurants. In European restaurants, they usually include the gratuity in the bill but I always add a bit to it especially if the service is attentive. They do know that I am American, after all.
Addendum: Man, did that get some debate. Really, except at Dunkin Donuts, better not to tip at all rather than to leave a one dollar tip. It's insulting. A good rule of thumb: Always tip helpers to show gratitude. Including barbers.
Sunday, September 7. 2014
Friday, August 29. 2014
High tide, inner harbor, 5:15 am with dog and fresh Cumbie coffee
There is far more to do up there than one could do in a month - or a summer. Very pleasant not to own a place - no real work. The locals grow the local veggies for us. Cheap and good. We had 9 of us just in our (large) place alone including my vigorous in-laws (and not counting the rambunctious 2 year-old), and my relatives were all local too for a week or two. One bought a place up there, but I prefer the freedom of renting: ownership is just work, worry, and expense. With the $ from a second home one could explore the world for the rest of one's life. Why bother, unless a billionaire with servants and property managers? What's the point of ownership? We are brief sojourners here on earth, and all is on lease from God if not from a bank or a landlord.
August is an annual family tradition up there on the Cape. A fine thing indeed, but still a little strange with my parents gone even tho my fun sibs (5 of us) and their kids pop in daily for coffee or free beer, or a harbor swim with our pup.
- Two stage theaters and ye olde South Wellfleet Drive In - no time for that this year
- Body-surfing on the ocean at low tide - 2 times - not enuf. It's the supreme activity, IMO, along with skiing and sex. Is it cold? You betcha. Glacial. The gals use boogie boards to minimize the fun of boobs popping out; I just use my youthful body the way my Dad taught me to.
- Pond swimming to de-salt after ocean - only twice. My bro introduced me to Dyer Pond though - you hike through the woods to find it. It's another kettle pond way off the roads. Post-glacial.
- Long swims in the harbor with the pup, in our back yard - daily at higher tides
- Breakfast at The Lighthouse with all - once. Waffles or pancakes with eggs and bacon.
- Lobster supper buffet for BD and Mrs. BD's birthdays for 22 people - family and friends - at our place - only once! Twenty-two 1 1/2 lb. lobsters (thanks, Pops) plus wine, beer, potato salad, green salad, grilled corn on the cob, and birthday cake.
- Swims at Duck Harbor - twice and nother time to play with the rugrat.
- Great Island 7-mile hike - once
- 5 am walk in the harbor over Uncle Tim's bridge for the pup to sniff around and poo - daily
- Dinners out: Once at Pearl, only once at Mac's, once at Moby's. Mac's is perhaps best, but I just like the Moby's family place. I had the gluten-free chocolate cake at Mac's for dessert, but I had to ask for extra gluten because of my gluten-deficiency disorder.
- Dog woods hike - once. Lots of poison ivy but lots of ripe wild blackberries
- Marsh kayaking and pond kayaking - no time on this trip
- Fishing - not enuf time
- Whaler rental to zoom all around - a pupette did that with her friend. Great fun of course. Dramatic arrival to our birthday party
- Lunch at The Beachcomber - no time
- Biking - the lad did quite a bit with the rugrat in the bike trailer. The Cape seems designed for biking.
- Harbor Freeze for after-dinner ice cream - only twice. The gals like peppermint with sprinkles and chocolate sauce. Sheesh.
- Time lazing on some beach like a lazy lump - zero, as usual. Our family is terribly lacking in the decadent talent of "relaxing". Relax when dead.
- All the galleries - we always stroll through many of them. John Grillo still alive and working at 92.
- Shakespeare in the Park - no time for it
- Tennis at the club - only once
- Shopping? Only for seafood and produce. Lots of it. Oh - some wine and beer too.
- Yoga? The gals were too busy.
- Golf? Our golfer was home with a new little bitty one but there is a lovely links-style course there
- Daily morning 5-10 mile run concluding with a one-mile pond swim? My sibs do that, often with their kids. I provide coffee or water for them. Lunatics. I usta do that, but it no longer charms me.
- TV and/or movies? Zero
- Surfing internets? Zero
- Clamming ? - no time to even get the license. Tons of them, tho, in the mudflats.
Carpe diem, friends.
Monday, August 25. 2014
Sunday, August 24. 2014
Wellfleet is for swimming.
My niece is an ocean lifeguard out there. Cool job.
Lots of seals swimming off that stretch of beach. Harbor Seals or Grey Seals? I could not tell. Happy seals, anyway.
Thursday, August 14. 2014
AVI reminded us that the Cape Cod National Seashore turned 50 this week. That Sponge-headed Science Man loves the Cape as much as we do. The Farm is wonderful, but being inland has always made me feel a little claustrophobic. I like access to sea and sky.
Pic above of a stretch of South Beach, with our group of intrepid birders. We hopped down from Wellfleet to Chatham last week to catch a Mass. Audubon birding trip out to Monomoy Island (about which we posted recently). Monomoy is designated a National Wilderness. The size and shape of Monomoy is constantly in flux, as is its intermittent connection with Chatham's South Beach (which is an extension of Nauset Beach - the Cape's southern barrier island group which now reaches down towards Nantucket.
We ended up boating down to lower South Beach instead of Monomoy proper, due to tidal water depth. Our guide du jour, Ellison, an expert birder, led us on an arduous 4 mile barefoot (watch for sharp shells) hike through mud flats, soft sand, and sharp-edged marsh cordgrass - and non-stop biting marsh bugs - to check out the early migrants and the breeding shorebirds. Ya gotta be tough to be a birder.
Bird list and more pics below the fold -
Continue reading "Monomoy bird list, plus Chatham MA, reposted"
Saturday, August 9. 2014
Recommendation from a friend who just returned from a vacation trip: Crillon Le Brave.
Looks pleasant enough to me. I'd prefer to rent a villa with a cook and housemaid, though, get a few rental cars and bikes, and invite everybody to visit.
Wednesday, July 23. 2014
NYC offers countless sights and countless sensory delights - many of them free (someday I may make a list of our favorites for those readers with vehement New York-ophobia - they just never did NYC right), but we have come to make strolls on the High Line an annual pleasure. This July, the perennial beds were wonderful to see. Why can't we make gardens this interesting at the farm?
Well, I thought the idea of making the High Line trail out of the old elevated railroad which was built to bring animals from the Hudson ferries to the slaughterhouses and meatpacking factories (the now-popular and fashionable Meatpacking District) was foolish was stupid (from the West 30s to Gansevoort St.), but I have been wrong a few times in the past. Only a few times.
More pics below the fold -
Continue reading "A July stroll on the High Line"
Sunday, July 13. 2014
Wednesday, July 9. 2014
A very cool company, Intrepid Travel. Not expensive either, and they go everywhere.
Mrs. BD wanted to schedule their trip to Jordan, but they are sold out for this fall. Friends told us that Petra was one of the most interesting places they had been to, and they have been everywhere. We rarely opt for organized tours, but for Jordan we thought it might be OK with us even though it's not exactly an exotic place. Mrs. BD wants to see all of the TE Lawrence places. 7 Pillars is a fine read.
Maybe I am a jaded traveller, but I have seen enough Greek, Roman, and Phoenician rockpiles to last a lifetime, and I've read it all, too. Jordan would be something different, with maybe a side trip to Israel.
Monday, June 16. 2014
Pic above is Eaton's Ranch in Wyoming, a place my Mom loved.
Lots of places to explore on this planet, but we do love dude ranches. What is a dude? - How the strange history of the ‘dude’ helps throw a light on why the West still feels like the real America
Dude ranches might be a bit phony compared to real ones, but if you don't have a friend with a real ranch in Wyoming or somewhere, they are great fun. We recommend dude ranch holidays in the American West. It sure beats DisneyWorld.
Yes, at least one wrangler always has a rifle. Horrors!