Friday, June 16, 2017

Valcour Island Revisited

 South Burlington, VT

We just returned from three glorious days on Valcour Island.  I hate to repeat myself on this blog, but the natural beauties of Valcour inspire me to do so, at least photographically.

What do we do all day while camping?  Watch the video.

The bright orange is lichen.

See the ripples in the water separated by a band of still water.  This band of no wind was over 12 miles long.  Hard to imagine the science of that.

The battle between the cedar trees and the rocks is epic.  Eventually thr tree wins and it breaks up the rock. But then the tree dies, so did it really wijn?

The edge on this rock is so straight that it looks like a diamond saw cut.  But it's natura.

This rock shows why these sedementary rocks break in straight lines.  How many millions of years to lay down all those layers of limestone?

Even flowers find a way to survive in the rocks.

These rocks are fossil rich.  Close examination of this one shows an amalgum of tiny bones.  They are probably fish bones, but they look like bird bones.
Note the ruler straight vein of marble.  The limestone morphed into marble along the lines of a crack.   The rocks here have lots of marble veins like this one.

In Sweden, these are called "devil's bowls"  They are formed when a round boulder gets spun around under the glaciers and it drills a hole into the base rock.  This bowl is nearly two feet in diameter and a nearly perfect hemisphere.

The sky was so pretty on our ride back to the main land.  So wan't Libby.

A few miles south of the Peru boat launch, is Ausable Chasm.  Man oh man, what a lovely place.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Begin The Summer Routine

South Burlington, VT

We arrived here in Vermont one week ago.   The first few days were winter-like, cold and miserable.  But Jen and Pete gave a warm welcome, so all was good.

Here is my "office" for summer use.  It is the Burlington Airport, only a block away from Jen's house.   There is a 6-storey staircase to the top of the parking garage that I can use for my daily workout. Here is the view from the top of that garage.  Pretty spectacular huh?

Below is the view from my "office".   I've learned that even 12 years into retirement, I'm still an office person.  That's where I feel most comfortable.  So there is a booth on the second floor of the airport where I can sit, use my computer and where I have the view below.   When I'm done checking the news on my computer, I sit in those rocking chairs to enjoy my coffee and the view. I arrive there at 5:20 AM, so I usually have the whole place to myself.   I see the airplanes come and go in the foreground, the valley behind that and the Green Mountains on the skyline. Never before have I had a real office as nice as this.

Also, other than the bald summits of some mountains, there is no other place in Vermont with such nice views. Even billionaire's homes don't have a view this nice.

On the day I took those pictures, it was still winter-like.  The fog was so thick that I couldn't see the ground.  But as I sat there, the fog burned off thus staging a theatric quality revealing of this view.  It was great.  Look carefully in the picture and you still see fog following the Winooski River.  Wow oh wow what a nice place.

Tomorrow, Libby and I depart to go to Valcour Island for the first time this year.  That excites us.  Regular blog readers know how much we love that place. We'll stay 3 days and 2 nights.

During the summer, we hope to do side trips to Syracuse/Rome/West Chalrton/Mechanicville/Guilderland NY.  Also to Melrose MA, Vinahaven/Ilesboro/Eastport ME.  Prince Edward Island, Quebec, then Ontario/Wisconsin/Minnesota/North Dakota/Montana/Idaho/Oregon climaxing with a view of the ellipse on August 21.   None of those trips are planed in detail yet.   Whew, it makes me tired and ready for a nap just thinking about all that.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Old Habits Die Hard

Zebulon, NC

We leave tomorrow after 10 days visiting with Dave and Cathy.  That twice per year visit is one of our best highlights.

We'll head for the Blue Ridge Parkway, with camping gear in the car.   How does that differ from cruising?

  1. Our preference is to hit almost every campground along the parkway, doing as little as 50 miles per day progress.  Probably a different campground every day.  That is very cruiser-like.
  2. Our plans are weather sensitive.  Blog readers remember lots of times when we waited for a weather window.  In this case, it looks sunny tomorrow, but it might rain the next 3 days.  Bummer.  We don't put out to sea in storms, and we don't do tent camping on really rainy days.   The difference is that if tent camping is interrupted, we'll move on many more miles and maybe use motels.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Speech #10: The Playboy Startup

[Toastmaster Competent Communicator project #10: Inspire.  

Objectives: inspire the audience. Appeal to the audiences needs and emotions.  Avoid using notes.

This project really brought me out of my shell.  Instead of me speaking to the people in front of me, I had to invent an imaginary occasion, an imaginary speaker, and an imaginary audience.  It was like a stage play where I was author, and actor, and the audience were extras.]
Toastmaster's Script

The next speaker is TM Dick Mills. The title of his speech is The Playboy Startup

--- Dick shakes hands with the toastmaster.

While Dick is getting costumed, let me set the scene.

This is a bit of historical fiction. The scene is February 1954, Chicago Illinois. Hugh Hefner is meeting with his new team of 6 men and one woman their first day on the job at Playboy Magazine.

Dick will play the part of Hugh Hefner. The audience plays the part of the Playboy staff.

First iteration at costume.  Rejected because it made me look like Obe Wan Kenobe instead of Hugh Hefner.

Final costume.

---Toastmaster sits and Dick speaks

Welcome and congratulations. I say welcome because for some of you this is your first day on the job. I say congratulations because you all are in on the ground floor of Playboy Enterprises, where I plan to make every one of you rich and famous. But even if I fail, you're going to have the time of your life.


Eldon, Art and I put the first two editions together on my kitchen table. The first one was the most famous. Two lucky breaks helped to make that happen.

First, with less than a week to go, we got a letter from some lawyers saying that the name of our magazine, Stag Party, was already used.
We needed a new name, and Eldon brilliantly suggested Playboy. It is the perfect name. Thank you Eldon. Then Art suggested a bunny to replace the stag theme in our art. I said OK, and only four minutes later, Art came up with this logo. It is sheer genius. Thank you Art.

Second, I am a detail man. I'm also a perfectionist as you'll all soon learn. Art collected lots of pictures of naked girls, but I told him that I didn't want a girl, I wanted the girl. So I went out in search of the most valuable photograph on the whole damn planet.

Marilyn Monroe is the most famous and
most desired woman in the world. For years there have been rumors that a naked calendar picture of Marilyn existed, but nobody had ever seen it. I found that picture and I bought the publishing rights for only $600.

So with Marilyn on the cover
and Marilyn inside, we printed 70000 copies, and sent them out to the newsstands. They sold out in two weeks!

[I had a magazine with the cover taped on, the logo on the back, and a centerfold with Marilyn.  I showed the cover, then opened the centerfold and mouthed WOW, but I did not let the audience see it.  Hee hee a bit of a tease.]

The money from that first issue allowed us to pay off all our debt, with enough left over for me to replace my old chevy with a brand new Studebaker sports car. The second issue outsold the first. The money from that issue was enough for me to hire the rest of you and to rent these offices for us to work out of.


So. Here we are. What the hell do we do now?

Other men's magazines talk about hunting, fishing sport, we're not going to do any of that we talk about jazz, cocktails, Picasso, we talk about culture, but we also focus on sex. We will incorporate sex as one normal and logical and healthy part of a total package that appeals to a male audience. After all, what interests young men more than sex?

We started at the top with Marilyn, but that won't last. We need fresh ideas.


First the girls. My thought is to forget the glamour girls. I want the girl next door, the girl that is right in front of our eyes. But I'm not going to call her the girl next door, I'll call her the Playboy Playmate of the Month.

But what I want even more is to turn this magazine into a guide for becoming a playboy.

What's a playboy? He is a bachelor. Suave. Sophisticated. Intelligent. And urbane.


Every time someone picks up a copy of Playboy, I don't want him to just imagine himself as the kind of guy who gets the girl. I want to teach him how. How to buy the right suit. How to select the right bottle of wine or mix the perfect cocktail. How to orchestrate the perfect date. The Playboy is going to move to a major city, and pursue the urbane female.

The playboy is cosmopolitan. He appreciates people from all cultures, and all races. Interracial socializing and interracial sex will be prominent in Playboy. He is intellectual, and ready to debate any topic, especially those touching on his sexual freedom. Contraception, abortion, you name it. He can be religious but he must be willing to debate his religion with those of other belifs.

The women. The women a Playboy desires will themselves be suave, sophisticated, urbane, progressive in their politics, and intellectually superior. They will be connoisseurs of music, art, wine and life. Most of all they will be connoisseurs of worthy men; with the emphasis on worthy.


Advertizers. Advertisers must meet our artwork standards and their ads must be pitched to our market. The advertisers will pay a premium price to reach this premium market. Indeed, their lavish advertising budgets will themselves become part of their image, their allure.


But the how-to advice that we give has to be based on real life experience. I've arranged for my friend Vince to help. Vince is a real life Playboy who lives here in Chicago. Vince will arrange for us to be invited to all the best parties in Chicago. Before long, Marilyn Monroe, John Cheever, Lenny Bruce, and Jack Kennedy will come to know each of you on a first name basis. We will live the Playboy life. We will learn and then we'll teach.


[I picked a woman in the audience to be Charlene.  I walked over to her, leaned on the table, put my face right in hers, and locked eyes while reading the next paragraph.  She looked like a deer in the headlights.] 
Charlene, you are the only female member of our team. I need you to live the Playboy lifestyle too. You are a beautiful woman. You are the girl in front of our eyes. We don't need to scour the world for the Playmate of the Month. I want you to pose. I don't want anyone else. I want you. Please consider it.

I too will be in it up to my eyeballs. I'm married and I have a child, but I will be living the bachelor life. Does that violate traditional values? Yes! That's what we need, We all need to break with traditional American values, so that we can figure out what tomorrow's American values will be.

I don't want to follow trends. I want to create them. I want you to create them with me.


You six are the ones who are going to make it all happen. I want every article, every picture, every ad, every cover, every page to be specifically tailored to promote this one singular vision. The Playboy Lifestyle.


Now, lets' get to work.

-–Dick steps out of costume.

America has changed much since 1954.  Hugh Hefner and his staff deserve a generous share of the credit.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Can This be a Yucca Plant?

Zebulon, NC

We found several of these beautiful plants growing in our camp site on top of  Cheaha Mountain in Alabama.  The flowers were just blooming the 2 days we were there.

They sure look like yucca plants.  At least the flowerers do, but the base leaves don't.  

But yucca is supposed to be a desert plant.  Can they be on the top of a moutain in the Smokies?

Here's the view from the camp site.  Unfortunately, the air was hazy that day.