The Best Band you’ve (likely) never heard of

An ode to The Tragically Hip

My previous blog post details my upcoming trip to Las Vegas for what could easily be titled a “Classic Rock’ vacation.  This story starts out with what I was trying to make happen last summer, but was ultimately unsuccessful.  One of my all-time favorite bands is The Tragically Hip.  They are a Canadian Rock band that has been together for nearly 35 years at this point.  I was introduced to them when I made my transition from AOR radio to “Alternative” Rock in the early 1990s.  The alternative station in Detroit was actually in Windsor, ON CA, CIMX-FM, known as “89X”.  As they were a Canadian station, they are bound by Canadian Content laws, which in a great oversimplification stated they had to play a certain percentage of Canadian Artists.  Because of CanCon, I was introduced to many bands I likely would never have heard of, including The Pursuit of Happiness, Sloan, Treble Charger, and of course The Hip.

I remember the first Tragically Hip CD I purchased was Day for Night.  I could only afford one CD at the time, and I remember being in the record store, and just grabbing the first one in the bin.  It was the current release; I recognized the first song, Grace, Too as the current single.  I was hooked immediately, and as finances would allow, purchased the back catalog as fast as I could.  I was hooked.  The Hip are a blues-rock based, guitar driven band.  The songs are textured, and I can always find a way to ride through a song.  Sometimes it’s the vocals, other times it’s the guitars, or bass, you get the idea.  I can still listen to songs I’ve been listening to for 20 years, and hear something different, or something that really stands out.

So the story from last year.  The band started sending out teaser tweets that ended up being bits of lyrics from the first single.  Eventually they announced the release date for the new record.  I think they released the single at that time as well.   Things were looking up…perhaps a tour was forthcoming as well, they have always toured behind records.  I was hoping to see them close to home.  I was fortunate enough to see them play 3 times, the first time at Cobo Arena in Detroit, MI.  That show was recorded, and released as “The Live Between Us”.  My 2nd show was at the House of Blues in Orlando, FL, not too long after moving here.  It was great to see them in a smaller venue.  This would have been 1997 or 1998.  The last show I was able to attend was in Atlanta, while I was living there, around 2011 or so…somewhere in there.  Now comes the bummer news.  It was announced that the lead singer and lyricist for the band, Gord Downie has been under treatment for non-operable brain cancer.  I was devastated.  I don’t know Gord, or anyone in the band, but I have been evangelizing The Hip for so long, listening to the records, it felt like a family member had been diagnosed.  I was in a funk for a few days.  I read all of the news that I could, and just wished I could do something to say Thank you to them.  Now, some good news, if you will.  The band announced a tour of Canada.  They were out for a month from West Coast to East, ending in their home town of Kingston, Ontario.  I was going to go to one of the shows.

I knew tickets were going to be at a premium.  Tickets for a Hip tour would be at a premium generally speaking, but with the added influence that this could be the last tour, and the limited number of dates. This was going to be a tough ticket, not to mention an expensive trip.  The details are a little bit fuzzy, but I believe all of the shows went on sale at the same time.  This meant that I had to decide which date I was going to try to get.  It wasn’t like “…if I don’t get Vancouver, Calgary will go on sale tomorrow…” it was pick your city, and hope.  I was on the Ticketmaster site for the fan club pre-sale, waiting for the site to refresh with a link to buy tickets.  I was neglecting work and waiting and refreshing the page until noon, IIRC, at noon, the page refreshed, and a purchase tickets link appeared, I clicked, and then…the spinning wheel of death, I knew immediately that I was shut out.  It took too long to load, and I knew, just knew they were all gone; the fam club tickets anyway.  Eventually, I was able to get to the shows page, and I tried dutifully from west coast to east coast, and was denied.  I had another opportunity a few days later, when tickets to the general public went on sale.  I had the same result there, and was shut out.  I was, in a word, disappointed.  You can read an article about the ticket sales for the tour here (http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/tickets-bots-tragically-hip-marketplace-1.3811658) if you are so inclined.  It is/was a big deal in Canada.

The Secondary market had plenty of Hip Concert tickets for sale in every venue, but I frankly wasn’t willing to pay their prices in addition to all of the other travel expenses I had to undertake to see the show.   After being shut out for tickets, I messaged the band to ask if they would televise or live stream the concert so that those of us without tickets could see the show.  A few weeks later, CBC announced that they were televising the concert live, and streaming it online.  Needless to say, I had 3 different means of internet connection going that day; just in case one was not working…I was watching that show!

The Kingston, ON show, the final one of the tour was the one that was broadcast.  There were rumors that the show would be available on DVD, but as of yet, I haven’t seen it available.  The band did a 30 song set…30 effin songs.  It just kept on going, it was a phenomenal performance.  I can say with certainty that should it be made available for purchase, that I will own a copy.

I’ll write another post shortly about the band and music.

The Who – or Summer Vacation, No Summertime Blues!

March 18, 2017

Current Status:  Cloud Eight.  Just a little lower than yesterday’s cloud Nine.  I’ll explain.

Earlier this week, Tuesday, I believe, I learned that legendary rock band The Who will be taking up a residence this summer at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.  I’m a fan of the Who.  Big fan.  Love ‘em.  Only saw them perform live once, a couple of years ago.  The started the U.S. portion of “The Who hits 50” tour in Tamps, not terribly far away from where I live.  It also nearly coincided with my 50th birthday, the show was just a couple of days after.  It was my “first” birthday present to myself, you’ve read all about the other, Paul’s big Alaska/Canadian adventure in previous posts.

For various reason, that was my first time seeing them live, even though I’ve been a fan for most of my life.  None of my “crew” ever wanted to go see them with me.  I even didn’t go see them when they played just a few miles from where I live (closer than Tampa) many years ago because I didn’t want to go alone.  So for my 50th, and their 50th, I had to go.  I didn’t spend a lot on the tickets to the show that time, since I was going alone, and sat in the upper reaches of Amalie arena.  I thoroughly enjoyed the show, got to see another Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts open the show.  It was great, but I immediately regretted not spending more money to get better seats for that show though.

Fast forward to earlier this week, and learning of the residency, the shows start at the end of July, and continue into August.  There are 6 for now, and they hint at more.  Tickets went on sale at noon Vegas time yesterday, 3:00 pm here.  I was determined to get tickets.  I was shut out last summer for tickets to see another of my favorite bands, The Tragically Hip, I didn’t want that to happen this time.  I was on the website in the morning, watching the countdown timer until the tickets went on sale.  I stepped away a little after 2:00 to grab some lunch, planning on being back before 3:00 to continue watching the timer, and fight the bots for tickets.  I walked in, and my laptop wasn’t asleep, as it should have been, there was a prompt on the screen, asking if I wanted to get in the waiting room for tickets.  That should have been a safe assumption, as I’d been on the site watching the clock for 5+ hours.  J  I got in line, upset that I had missed my place by an unknown amount of time, but I was one step closer.  After some additional waiting and clock watching, I got into where you could actually buy tickets!  I am the proud owner of a pair of tickets to see The Who in August in Las Vegas!!

Hopefully either my buddy Eric from Michigan, or Erick from Florida will be going with me.  If not,  no worries for me, I’m going, and that’s what I’m really excited about.  I didn’t break the bank again on the tickets, but I will be a more intimate concert experience.  These shows are in the sub 5000 seat Colosseum at Caesar’s palace, I’m sitting in the first balcony.  I’m ridiculously excited.  I get to see the Who, I plan on seeing the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show “Love” as well while I’m there.  It will be a Classic Rick vacation.  There are still numerous details to work out, but the vacation has been decided, and is at least partially locked in.  Rock on!

The last of it – the trip that is…

February 18, 2017

After returning to Vancouver the cruise port we departed from, I had a couple of free days.  This was the 2nd of the kick-ass hotels on this trip, the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.  Situated in the middle of downtown Vancouver, it is the perfect location for everything.  Unfortunately for me, and despite the best efforts of myself, and the crew of the MS Volendam, I was starting to come down with a cold the day I disembarked the ship. The cold would hang with me until I returned home 10 days later.  I mention the crew of the ship because every time you went anywhere near food for the first 2 days of the cruise, there was a crew member there, dispensing purell.  There are purell dispensers all over the ship, and I used them liberally, or so I thought.

The Fairmont staff are fantastic, and they let me check in early that morning.  I think the best way to describe the Hotel Vancouver is classic elegance.  From the hotel website:  Though its name and heritage date back to 1888, the present Hotel Vancouver first opened its doors in 1939, on the eve of the Royal visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

A few posts back (http://pauls-words.com/?p=71) I told the back story of this trip.   We’ve now arrived at the Rocky Mountaineer (RM) portion of the journey.  My travel documents alerted me that I needed to allow at least 45 minutes for the taxi ride from the Fairmont to the Rocky Mountaineer station.  This seemed excessive, especially since I was told I needed to be at the station by 6:30 am.  I asked at the front desk of the hotel and they really didn’t have an answer.  I asked the concierge, and they confirmed I should allow that much time.  So… I was in the lobby by 5:45 and got a taxi to the train station.  Of course, we arrived in less than 20 minutes.  J  Before I could pay the taxi driver, Rocky Mountaineer staffs had unloaded my bags from the trunk, and were waiting for me.  This was a precursor of the level of service on 2 of the 3 legs of my “Circle Tour” of trips I was taking.  This will explain itself as I go along.

Since I was there so early, check in was a breeze, and again the staff of RM are fantastic.  The lobby of the departure station is remarkably comfortable, open, airy with high ceilings.  There was juice and coffee available.  After a few minutes, a gentleman came out and started playing the grand piano that is in the center of the lobby.  It quickly filled up as more guests arrived.  As departure time neared, the piano player stopped, and the station manager greeted us all, and gave us some information about the train.  We soon boarded.  I was in Gold Leaf, their highest class of service I was in a two level coach.  We traveled in the top level and the coach was glass domed, so we were able to see nearly 360 degrees. Think first class domestic airline seats,  The lower level of the coach is where the meals were served.  It seats half the number of folks in the coach so we would be eating in shifts.

We soon departed the station, and we meet the hosts on board our coach.  There were 4 of them taking care of us, 2 on each level.  We met our train manager, he came through each of the coaches, and we had a bon voyage toast.  One of the interesting things about RM is that, well, you are never hungry or thirsty.  They split the coach into 2 groups and the first seating went down to breakfast.  Since you’re not hungry, the hosts on the upper level of the coach served us a snack.  Cinnamon scone with jam, coffee or juice, whatever your choice of beverage is.  I can say, this is the best scone I’ve ever had.  The two groups swap early seating  times on each day of the journey, and I can say that I missed the scone on the 2nd day of the trip.  Rather than walk you through every meal on board, let me summarize it and say that the food is simply amazing.  They make everything in the tiny galley kitchen that is in the front of the dining area on each car, and it is amazing the quality and quantity of the food that they prepare.

As I mentioned in the Alaska portion of this dissertation, or manifesto, whatever it is, that I took a boat load of pictures on the trip.  I didn’t really have camera envy on the cruise.  On RM, oh my goodness, the photographers, and their gear!  My little digital camera was just a toy in comparison.  As we made our way out of the city, there wasn’t a lot of flora and fauna to look at.  I was still excited, the next stage of the adventure was beginning.  I also like trains, and it was fun to see the world from that perspective.  It also afforded an opportunity to get used to taking photos while on the train.  We were soon enough out of the city and suburbia and out into the country.  The scenery gradually changes from sea to farm to plains.  One thing to note, and this was hammered home on the 2nd trip, was the amount of lumber produced in Canada.  By the end of the trip, it was staggering, from raw trees being floated down the river to mills, to the train cars of finished lumber to the pulp mills, It was amazing.

The specific details of the trips have more or less melded together into one memory, of you will, so I can’t really take you through a blow by blow experience like I did for the cruise,  Let me just try to give you some of the “flavor”.  As I mentioned above, RM is all about service.  Since I was in gold leaf service, I didn’t touch my bag while traveling with them.  They took the bags from my taxi, and they were in my hotel room when we arrived at the hotel in Kamloops.  You leave your bag in the room, and they gather them after you leave, and transport them to your next hotel for you.  So for the first journey, we traveled from Vancouver to Banff, AB, spending the night in Kamloops, BC.  I find train travel to be serene, and RM makes it nearly sublime.  I described the meal seating’s above, they server Breakfast and Lunch on the train, as well as free flowing cocktails, and snacks.  They really treat you like royalty.  The scenery is amazing as it passes the windows, and the hosts tell you about some of the things that you are seeing.  On this trip, one of the hosts had lived in the area along the route, and she was able to share personal anecdotes about certain places, that really enhanced the experience.

You travel at a leisurely pace, RM trains rarely exceed 30 mph.  They also don’t own the tracks they travel on, so you will sometimes have to wait on a side track for these immense freight trains to pass.  We were making excellent time on day 1, and were looking like we were going to arrive in Kamloops ahead of schedule.  Then, well, about 90 minutes outside of our destination for the night, we pulled over for a train to pass, then a second one as well.  We were very near Lake Kamloops, and there were a smattering of cottages just to the right of the train.  I was looking around and saw something between 2 of them,  I thought it was a bear, but it could easily have been a dog.  I didn’t want to be the guy that called out a bear sighting when it turned out to be a black lab, so I called one of the hosts over, and pointed the animal out.  She said it was a bear, and announced it to our train car.  Well, I was a star for a few minutes for spotting it, and then was surrounded by everyone on our coach.  Because of where the bear was, between to cottages, only our coach could see the bear.  We had hosts from other coaches coming into ours to see the bear.  Bear sightings are a big deal on RM, and everyone was excited.  The bear helped break up a very long wait to proceed.  We were on track to arrive early, and ended up getting into Kamloops a bit later than scheduled.  We were met at the station by member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which was pretty neat.  We boarded busses and were taken to our hotels for the night.

I had an early wake up call as like on RM is early to start.  We were to be in the lobby by 6:00 0am for a 6:30 departure to Banff.  Many of the folks on the train found this day more exciting than the first as we were making our way into the Rocky Mountains today.  I thoroughly enjoyed both days.  The trip into the higher elevation was exciting though.  Next up was Banff.  I was staying at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel, billed as the “Castle in the Rockies”  It is a glorious hotel, and everyone was nice, but for some reason, my room was in the conference center.  It is on property, across the driveway from the “castle”  I was warned that the Fairmont rooms were small, but that was certainly not the case for me in the convention center.  I had a room that is larger than my apartment.  It had 2 queen beds, 2 couches, a couple of chairs, and a ton of room in the middle.  The bathroom had to be 400 sq. ft.!  I had mountain views out of the window in my room.  Fairmont staff are wonderful.  The hotel is wonderful, I just wish I had stayed in the castle.

Had a half day tour of the Banff area the next day, went to Sulphur mountain, IIRC, and had a ticket to take a gondola ride to the summit.  I was concerned about that, I am a bit claustrophobic. I got all the way to the head of the line, and just couldn’t get in.  I passed on the gondola ride, all of them for the trip, actually.  Next for me was a trip into town for laundry.  I ended up being away from home for nearly 3 weeks, and I had planned out when laundry was going to happen far in advance.  J

After a leisurely morning, I had a transfer from Banff to Lake Louise, and an overnight stay at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.  The Chateau ended up being my favorite hotel on this trip, for lots of reasons.  First, Lake Louise is amazingly, fabulously gorgeous.  Second the Hotel and restaurant staff are 2nd to none.  I had lunch in the Lakeview Lounge, appropriately named, as there is a wall of windows that look out on the lake.  Every photo you’ve ever seen of Lake Louise is either taken from, or shows in the background the Chateau.  It was raining that afternoon, and the mountains that surround that lake kept coming into and out of view,  The sun even came out for a while, and well, most everything is better in the sun.  After lunch, I spent some time walking around lakeside.  It was peaceful, serene, gorgeous.  Can you tell I liked it??  I wish I would have had more time there.  I made my way back to the hotel, made a dinner reservation, and visited the bookshop to purchase a book, and a photo of the Lake.

I had what would be the best meal of the trip that night and it comes with a story.  I had planned out some places that I really wanted to eat on the trip, and the Walliser Steube was one of them.  Had I been travelling with anyone we would have had the fondue that is a specialty of the house.  It’s served for two though.  There were many other tempting items on the menu, but I wasn’t too disappointed.  I had the last seating of the evening, and well, I was the last one in the restaurant that night, which, frankly, I hate being.  My server was an absolute sweetheart about it, and made sure that I wasn’t uncomfortable about it.  We struck up a conversation, and I mentioned that this trip was a birthday present for myself.  After the meal, she brought up some chocolate creations one of which had “Happy Birthday” written in it.  It was so sweet of her to do that.  I was touched.  As I was leaving, she looked out the window, and told me that it had started snowing.  I had seen a few flurries earlier in the day, this was snow showers.  I awoke to a Winter Wonderland. There were accumulations of 4 – 5 inches in the morning.  It was like waking up in a snow globe.

The next day was a full day tour on the Icefields parkway into the Jasper National Park with an overnight at the Jasper Park Lodge.  Among the many stops along the way, the highlight for me was a stop at the Athabasca glacier.  We stopped for lunch at the visitor’s center, then we got a trip on the Icefield Explorer to a plateau on the glacier, and we were able to get out.  I walked on a glacier!  We also stopped at the glacier skywalk, but I didn’t think there was any way I could do that.  I couldn’t walk across some glass block in the CN Tower in Toronto many years before, I didn’t want to get out on the skywalk and freak out.  Better safe than sorry sometimes.

The next morning was another early start as I got ready for my 2nd RM train trip, this one Jasper, AB to Whistler, BC with an overnight in Quesnel, BC.  We crossed the Rockies again, this time going west from Jasper, then turned south travelling through BC.  The crossing into BC meant that we switched from Mountain time back to Pacific time, which made for an extra long day, by the time we got into Quesnel.  Quesnel was an amazing little town, and I was disappointed that we were late getting there.  The mayor of the town was there ot greet the train, and I think he shook everyone’s hand, I know she shook mine, and thanked us for coming.  The local hot rod club met our train, even though we were a couple of hours behind schedule by the time we arrived.  Everyone was so nice, and it seemed a shame not to be able to spend more time there meeting more people.  I really want to go back there some day.

The RM trip from Vancouver to Banff basically parallels the Trans-Canada highway, and this trip from Japer to Whistler doesn’t follow any particular roads.  As such, you end up seeing things that you only get to see if you are on the train.  There were some amazing agricultural sights, as well, again as a tremendous amount of lumber, again in all stages.  This RM crew was as fantastic as the first, and again, a great experience.

We arrived in Whistler, and by then the cold had really taken a toll on me.  We had a free morning, and by and large, I spent in in the hotel.  That afternoon, we had a trip from Whistler back to Vancouver.  This trip is what was considered “Red Leaf” service, basically RM’s economy service.  They have since discontinues this level of service.  It wasn’t a bad experience, the food was fine, the service was acceptable.  You just weren’t doted on, as you were in Gold Leaf.  There was a bit of a hiccup when we arrived back in Vancouver.  The arrival terminal is in a freight yard, rather than the luxury train station we departed from.  Not a problem, just not as nice.  When I made my way to the shuttle bus that was going to take me back to the Fairmont Vancouver, there was a problem.  The bus was full.  The attendant assured me that was not the case, and I asked her to actually look at the bus, all the seats were full, they were standing in the aisles from back to front, and there were a handful of us still standing outside.  They were arranging taxis, and I managed to secure one, and retired to the luxurious Fairmont.  The next stop, was Orlando, then home.

It was an amazing journey.  I told myself at the time “Once in a Lifetime” journey.  As soon as I got home, I know it couldn’t be.  I am bitten by the travel bug, and am looking for the next one.

If you’re interested in seeing photos from the trip, please email me at paul@pauls-words.com.  I’ll send you a link to the online site where they are hosted.

The 2nd half of the Alaska cruise

February 11, 2017

Picking up where I left off last week.  We’re 3 days into the cruise, and the port is Skagway Alaska.  There weren’t many options for excursions for me, but I was excited about what I had chosen, it was a group of experiences that included a gold panning trip, and a chance to see some sled dogs.  Unfortunately, this was cancelled the night before we arrived.  I found out that we were the only ship in port that day, which likely meant that there weren’t enough people confirmed do they cancelled.  The other options were a train trip into the Whitehorse, Yukon Territories, and since I had a big train excursion after the cruise that really didn’t appeal to me (it was also rather expensive).  I opted for a trolley tour of the town.  It lasted 90 minutes or so, and well, it wasn’t that interesting.  I got a couple of nice photos of the cruise ship though.   I enjoyed some quiet time on the ship, and did het some reading done that day.

Next up was an early morning arrival in Glacier Bay.  We arrived  before dawn and a member of the National Parks service boarded the ship to server as a guide.  Since we had a very early start, I was particularly happy to have a verandah, all I had to do was step  outside to take in the sights.  The other great perk I enjoyed that day was room service breakfast.  I believe this was the 2nd time in my life I’d ever had room service, and well, when you want to be outside looking at glaciers, there was nothing more convenient than requesting breakfast at 6:15, and having it arrive at 6:15.  I’m convinced that the steward delivering the food was outside at 6:14, and waiting until precisely 6:15 to knock on my door.  As I mentioned before about staying at the kick-ass hotels, I adapted very quickly.  J

The only time I was ever cold in Alaska was that morning in Glacier Bay.  I was outside at first light, with my camera, and some coffee, dressed as I had been nearly every day.  I was outside for 5 minutes, trying to tough it out, but I couldn’t make it.  I had to go back in the cabin, and re-order the dress for the morning, adding 2 more layers.  Maybe 3.  This was before the sun was up, really, and we were surrounded by ice.  It was cold.  Glacier Bay is stunning.  I knew that Alaska would be beautiful, but it really is better than advertised.  When we left the Tracy Arm fjord a few days earlier, I was convinced I would never see more amazingly beautiful things in my life.  Then I went to Glacier Bay.  There were a couple of local photographers and naturalists on board and they were in one of the lounges on the ship.  Another perk of having a verandah is that they were playing over the loudspeakers outside the ship, so I was able to hear them as I sat outside.  It was tremendous fun as we were navigating the bay, watching the sea ice increase, and watching the rocks and vegetation.  If I peered forward, I could see the glacier in the distance too.  I was all just terribly exciting.

The colors of the rock formations, the minerals left behind by the glaciers contrasting with the turquoise color of the water were spectacular.  There were many waterfalls that were tucked into the mountains as well.  It seemed everywhere you looked there was something amazing.  Here’s a quick aside…I purchased my first camera for this trip.  I knew that there would be things that I wanted to take photos of, but never having owned a camera before, I was telling myself, and others, that I probably wouldn’t take that many photos on this trip.  I had planned to purchase photo books along the way, and leave the photography to the professionals.  Well, I took over 1200 photos on the trip.  🙂  Alaska make photography easy.  Turn your camera on, point it in any direction, and shoot.  There were many many “money shots” that everyone was after on the excursions, and in Glacier Bay too,  but I often found myself, when everyone else was looking right, I was looking left, if they were looking up, I looked down.  You get the idea.  There was amazing sights wherever you looked.  I sometimes felt like some of my fellow travelers missed some things because they didn’t look around.  I took 1200 photos, I looked everywhere!

At some point while in Glacier Bay, the naturalists were selling photo books they had taken in the park.  This was good for me for 2 reasons.  I bought a book, and a USB drive of photos, and it forced me to find my way up the Crow’s Nest lounge on the ship.  It was on the 9th or 10th deck, I can’t recall which, but I hadn’t been able to figure out how to get there yet.  It was at the front of the ship, and my cabin was in the middle of the ship.  You had to walk forward from where I was to get to a elevator to get up there.  The views from there were amazing.  There was an outer deck up there, it’s where the sport courts were, and I spent a lot of time out there as we were sailing out of the bay.  It had warmed up considerably as the sun was up and out.  There was this majestic shot of the glaciers, the mountains, it was an amazing vista.  I spent maybe 30 minute outside marveling at it, and I kept taking photos of it.  It seemed every few minutes it looked more and more amazing as we got farther away.   It was a great way to end an amazing day.

I believe we had a sea day next, and then we visited Ketchikan.  This was our last port of call before we returned to Vancouver.  I hadn’t booked any excursions in Ketchikan; I didn’t really know what to do.  I had been considering an excursion called Misty Fjords, but didn’t book it before the trip like I had the others.  It was particularly expensive, and frankly I’d never heard of Misty Fjords.  The only other excursions were a trip to look at totem poles, which would have been OK, and the lumberjack show, which while interesting, really didn’t fit the feel for this trip.  I decided the night before we arrived to book the Misty Fjords excursion.  It was the best decision I made, after deciding to take the trip.

I keep mentioning how expensive things were on the trip, and I really shouldn’t.  Yes, they were expensive, but the money was really only a number, and I got over it fairly quickly.  The mid-western conservative upbringing would cause me to have initial sticker-shock, and I know if my father had been with me, he would have been aghast, at best at the cost of the trip, and some of the excursions, and such.  This was a (hopefully not) once in a life time trip, and the incremental cost of the excursion was literally nothing.

We arrived in Ketchikan a couple of hours before the tour left.  I took my time getting off the ship, and spent some time walking around a little bit.  This was the only day that I had rain in my entire time in Alaska which was odd, since it is a rainforest.  It wasn’t raining when I left my cabin, and by the time I made it off of the ship it had started to rain.  Finally the rain slicker I bought was coming into play.   I did my only touristy shopping on this part of the trip.  Because of the rain, I bought an Alaska hat, and if you recall my little airport luggage fiasco I mentioned before, Ketchikan Alaska luggage tags were on deep discount, I think I got 4 of them for $5.00.  A benefit of being there at the end of the season, all the merchandise was on sale.

I still had no idea of Misty Fjords as I boarded the Allen Marine boat for this excursion.  Everyone I met as I boarded the boat was extremely friendly, and that was an excellent precursor for the day ahead.  As the boat left the dock I had such a tremendous excitement and joy.  I knew I was off on another adventure.  I didn’t know what to expect, and that just added to the excitement.  I felt like a kid again.  I was ready!

A similar set up as the previous Allen Marine tour to the Sawyer glacier.  The boat was laid out similarly, if not exactly.  It had a designated Naturalist, who was phenomenal, and a crew of friendly and helpful mates.  I was annoying question guy again on this trip, and they answered all of them with aplombFrom Wikipedia: “Misty Fiords National Monument is a national monument and wilderness area administered by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Tongass National Forest”  I could write hundred if not thousands of words about Misty Fjords.  I couldn’t possible begin to describe its beauty.  I’m afraid to try.  It was the most amazingly beautiful collection of sights I have ever seen.  I know I said that about the Tracy Arm Fjord, and about Glacier Bay.  Misty Fjords blew them all out of the water.  I was gob smacked.  Still am frankly.  Two quick anecdotes to hopefully summarize this properly.  If I had taken the rail portion of my trip first, and then gone to Alaska, I may not have come home.  I wanted to stay in Ketchikan, and just visit Misty Fjords every day.  Here’s the second, I was chatting with our naturalist as we traveled around one of the bays, we were having a nice conversation and we came upon this 3000 foot waterfall that was rain fed, so if it hadn’t been raining that day, we wouldn’t have seen it.  She was answering one of my many questions, and I just blurted right over her answer “Son of a Bitch!!”  Not a typical reaction, but I spotted this waterfall before anyone else who was around us.  I was embarrassed, certainly not polite language in any situation, and I typically try to control myself, but it was an honest reaction to the most incredible sight.  We saw so many amazing things that day, from glaciers, to mountains, to wildlife to native Alaskan burial markers.  It was an overwhelming day.  I apologized to the young woman I had cursed in front of.  She graciously accepted, and understood that exclamation for what it was.  I guess this is three anecdotes.  I didn’t take many photos in Misty Fjords.  I was focused on just experiencing it.  It was so visually overwhelming that I just didn’t bother to take pictures.  If you are interested, you can google search for images.  Even better, go visits Alaska before all of the glaciers are gone.

Next up is the Rocky Mountaineer portion of the vacation.

The Trip chronicle, part 1

Let’s write about the vacation (18 months after it happened)

So as I mentioned a few posts ago, the last time I actually wrote an entry, I had an adventure.  I took a cruise through the Inside passage alone British Columbia to Southeastern Alaska.  After that, I took a series of train trips through the Canadian Rockies on the Rocky Mountaineer.   I was scheduled to fly to Vancouver, BC on a Tuesday in September, basically the day before my cruise was to depart.  At the time, there was a tropical storm making its way toward Florida.  I was concerned about whether I would be able to travel, so I managed to change my airline reservation, and I flew out on Sunday, when I arrived in Vancouver, all everyone was talking about was the tropical storm that had hit there the day before.  There were a significant number of people in the area that were without power for the first days I was there.  I tried to escape a storm in Florida, and flew into one in BC.

I had two days in Vancouver before my cruise, so I had a city tour pass as part of my vacation package.  It was interesting to me that I had very little interest in Vancouver.  I was so excited about the Alaska trip that Vancouver just couldn’t compare.  I am an admitted Canada-phile.  The Vancouver Canucks have neem an NHL team I’ve followed.  I did learn that Vancouver is a comparatively young city (approximately 150) and housing costs there are tremendously expensive.  I took 3 tours over the course of 2 days, and one thing that every one of the tour guides mentioned was the explosion in the real estate prices in greater Vancouver.   There really is a lot of TV and film production there.  The reason I took 3 trips when the company only offers 2 is that the first trip I took we ended up “freestyling” if you will because of all of the closed streets for the multiple productions going on, we couldn’t get to many of the regular stops on the tour.   After the two extra days in Vancouver, I was able to start the regularly scheduled portion of my trip.  I had a reservation at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, and was able to check in early.  The Waterfront is appropriately named, as it is across the street from Canada Place, where the cruise terminal is located.  From my room, I was able to watch the float planes take off and land in Vancouver Harbor.

I have to say that being in Vancouver really didn’t intrigue me.  I know the reason though.  The trip was not about cities.  I was so excited an anxious to begin the cruise (a first for me) and get to see Alaska, I was bored.  There was no reason for that other than my head space.  I really need to go back to Vancouver, and give it a fair shot.  By all accounts, it is a tremendous city; great culture, restaurants, nightlife.  For me though, on this particular trip, it was where all of the adventures started and ended, and all I really wanted was the adventures, not the city.  If I had been traveling with someone else, it may have also helped counteract my mindset.  It’s hard for me to go to a great restaurant alone.  My headspace again, I know.

Wednesday morning came, and one of the perks of staying at the Fairmont waterfront is that their bell service will check your bags directly to the cruise lines.  I should back up for a second.  One of the other great things about this adventure, besides the Alaska cruise, and besides the trip on Rocky Mountaineer was the fact that I got to stay in some phenomenal hotels.   I stayed at the Sheraton Wall Centre for the 2 extra days that I was in Vancouver.  It is a fine hotel, split into a couple of different towers in an office park downtown.  It was a perfectly lovely hotel, but barely moved the needle on this trip.  I stayed at 5 different Fairmont hotels for 8 nights on the trip.  I was (and continue to be) spoiled.  It took a little getting used to, having someone else carry my luggage.  Very Little.  I adapted to the exceptional treatment that I received on the trip in no time at all.  Checking in to the cruise was a fairly easy process, except for the fact that I felt like I was on an endurance march.  We traveled the length of the terminal area in Canada place 4 times before we were able to board the ship.  I didn’t realize that you leave Canada and enter the U.S. before you get on a cruise from Vancouver.   It made sense once I thought about it, as all of the ports would be in the U.S., it just never dawned on me beforehand.  I thought I was checking in too early for the cruise, and was prepared to wait in lines, but all of the walking through the terminal really strung out the lines of folks,, and the only real wait, no more than a couple of minutes, was at customs.

By the time I found my way to my cabin, my luggage was waiting for me.  I booked a cabin with a balcony (a verandah in Holland America cruise parlance), dropped off my carry on, met my cabin steward, and set off to explore.  So you don’t have to re-live this in real time (all evidence to the contrary), I was aboard the MS Vollendam one of Holland America’s ships.   You can find a boat load of information (pun intended) about the ship online.  The first afternoon I was sitting on the verandah (see, I can keep the lingo going) and just watching the world float by.  At one point there was a school (or pod, I forget the proper term) of dolphins that were swimming along with the ship, jumping through the wake.  I was seeing them for a few minutes before I could really figure out what they were.  They were these silvery cylinders that kept jumping through and over each other.  The captain made an announcement a moment later and then if you looked along the side of the ship, you could see everyone out peering over the side to see them.  I saw my first whale that afternoon, although I didn’t know it.  There was a sailboat race taking place off in the distance, and I was watching the boats when I saw a big puff of something between the ship and the sailboats.  After seeing a few, I figured out that I was in fact, whale watching.

Thursday was a full day at sea, as we made our way up the Inside Passage towards Juneau.  I took a digital camera class during the day.  Spent some time in the casino and sat on my balcony for a good portion of the afternoon.  For the complete cruise ship experience, I went to the Stage Show that evening, which also included the Captain’s toast.  We were introduced to most of the ships’ officers, and then they had a “Las Vegas style” show that was supposed to be about the Alaskan gold rush.  It was not really my thing.  If I could have made my way out without being conspicuous, I would have.  I enjoyed the champagne though.  😉

The next morning brought my first excursion, and first big adventure, a trip through the Tracy Arm fjord to the Sawyer glacier.  We mustered in the showroom, and then we basically walked a gangplank from the cruise ship to the smaller boat that was going to take us through the fjord.  We got on a 2 level boat.  The 2nd level had an inside area, as well as a large open space for viewing and photos, once we got to the glacier.  I had promised myself that I was going to see this trip through child like eyes.  I wanted to leave my skepticism and pessimism at home.  Well, so far, mission accomplished.  I was positively giddy.  I felt like an explorer.  I guess I was an explorer.  This was someplace I had never been before, and never really planned to.  The boat had a naturalist on board who answered all of my questions.  I was annoying question guy on this trip.  I wanted to know everything about, well…everything.   The boat was operated by Allen Marine; they operated another tour on this trip too.  If you find yourself in Alaska, I recommend them highly.  Everyone I encountered on their excursions was pleasant, helpful, and willing to answer my questions (see comment above.).  Tracy Arm is awe inspiring, just visually stunning.  The mountains, and the rock formations, just amazing.  As you approach the glacier, you start to see small iceberg in the water.  For a moment, it’s reminiscent of sailing through a cocktail, with the little ice pieces getting larger and larger as you approach.  The ice changes color too.  What you first see is usually white, maybe some dirt and rocks mixed in, kind like what Snow looks like in a city after it’s been plowed, but it hasn’t thawed for a while.  There’s dirt and debris in it.  Then, you see some that is the most amazing blue.  Like pure blue…if you closed your eyes and imagined the color blue, this is what color it is.  It is stunning.  We learned that the bluer ice is more recently broken off (calved) from the glacier.  Again, I don’t possess the vocabulary to describe how beautiful it is.  I was just looking at some pictures now…I’d forgotten so much.  There are all of these waterfalls there too.  Just the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen; until you look in another direction, and Wow!  That’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.  Over and over again, all day long.

Finally the glacier came into view, just a giant wall of ice before us.  The captain stopped the boat, and it was still.  Quiet; almost solemn; majestic.  I’ll stop.  Looking out across the front of the ship was a sea of small ice chunks.  The captain said he was looking for a path to get us closer.,  I thought that there was no way to navigate this, but somehow we did.  Then we were there.  It felt like we were right next to the glacier.  I learned that we were no closer than 0.25 miles away.  It felt like we could touch it.  Brilliant Blues whites.  I can’t describe this anymore.  Stunning.

We were (un)fortunate enough to see it calve three times.  Basically, large sections of ice broke off from the glacier into the water.  It is loud.  If you’ve ever listened to ice melt in a glass, well imagine an ice cube the size of a freight train melting.  The last calving we saw, 300 feet of ice, basically the entire height of the glacier there, broke off.  It created such a wave that the captain had to turn the boat to face the wave; otherwise we might have dropped some people over the side.

I had a moment immediately after watching the 3rd and largest calving at the Sawyer glacier.  These three thoughts happened in an instant.  It is taking me exponentially longer to type them than it did to have them.  The first thought I had was to be angry.  I wanted to be mad at someone about global warming. I immediately had the thought that this was for all intents and purposes my 50th birthday present to myself.  I was an adult, a real adult.  I wasn’t a kid.  The next thought was that global warming was me and my generation’s fault.  I’m a real adult now.  There’s no one I can look toward to cast blame.  This is happening on my watch.

On the way back from the glacier, returning to Juneau, we spotted an Orca.  The captain was able to identify it based on its dorsal fin, and the patching. He told us a couple of stories about it.  Typically Orcas are social animals, and travel in groups.  This one is a lone predator.  I never got a good look at this one, all I could see was its fin sticking up.  It was a black triangle from my vantage point.  Still cool to see.  Later on, while back on the Vollendam, I saw 2 Orcas alongside of the ship.  I was eating dinner and staring out at the water, and 2 swam by, I got a good look at those two, it was really exciting.

I’m going to stop for now, and actually post some of this.  I’ll pick up the story from here.

Something to think about

Editor’s Note.  Thi s is an old post I was working on a couple of years ago.  I will likely come back to the Art question.  I re-read this over the weekend, and it seemed to sort of offer a glimpse into my state of mind…maybe, I don’t know, but I figured I would publish it anyway.

 

I have been considering an idea for the last couple of weeks.  “What is art?”  I’ve kind of walked in to it, more or accidentally, but it keeps coming up, or I keep coming back to it.  I really don’t have a great answer to the question.

Merriam-Webster defines art as “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings; works created by artists; paintings, sculptures, etc., that are created to be beautiful or to express important ideas or feelings;  the methods and skills used for painting, sculpting, drawing, etc.

When I started the blog, I had been searching for something for a long time:  an outlet.  I had tried to write many times over the years, but couldn’t seem to turn off the filter, or the editor (those of you who have read these posts may find that hard to believe, J) I bought the notebooks, the good pens (I love a good pen) the whole thing, I was going to write.   I could never seem to get started.  In many respects, nothing is as intimidating as a blank page.  I kept putting it aside.  Now, I have recommitted myself to writing here.  I seem to have found the off position for the filter and the editor.

Immediately after starting the site, I was pretty proud of myself.  I declared that I was going to start the blog; I registered the domain, wrote the first post, and shared it with some friends.  Woo Hoo!!  I was a writer!!  Ready to join the community of great writers I’ve long admired.  That euphoria faded pretty quickly.  My mindset shifted to that which really didn’t consider this any great work.  It was and is important to me.  I get an opportunity to be creative, express my thoughts.  It remains an outlet.

In the recent contemplation about “What is Art?”  I’ve reached a point where I can’t tell you what the difference is between creativity and art.  I have finally decided that this blog is creative.  I really don’t believe it is art, but it is creative.  The words/thoughts/construction/composition are mine; I “created” them, so I think I get to call this a creative endeavor.

When I was a child, art was something that was in museums, and the subject of annual field trips.  We were all big art fans that day because we got an adventure and a day away from the classroom.  It didn’t seem to really have a place in everyday life.  We had art classes, but I don’t think there were any Rembrandt’s or Picasso’s in Robert C. Jones elementary school.  I guess there is a distinction there, between art and ART; or art and “ART”.  We had art classes, but we weren’t making what I would consider then (maybe even now) “Art”.  We were in art class; we weren’t necessarily making “Art”.

In college we were required to take Humanities classes.  For reasons that escape me now, I took classes that really didn’t interest me, Greek Mythology, types of things.  I was in college, I had more interest in beer, playing cards, and meeting girls that I did about school work, but even then, Art was still something that was not really a part of my everyday life, as seen from the perspective of a college age Paul.

It’s really been over the past year, and it’s really been in the forefront of my mind in the last month how important Art is to me.  Yet, I still can’t define it well.  Maybe I’ll defer to Justice Potter Stewart:  “”I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it,..:

As I stated way back in the second blog post, writers have always resonated with me.  Novelists, song writers, newspaper columnists, I have favorites among all of those.  That’s probably why a blog.  I get to write, without the constraints of someone else’s paper or ink.

Welcome Back…

So, I’m back.  I know, what a surprise.  You go on vacation a couple of years ago, and leave us hanging…

I know, I know.   I owe you a vacation story or two.  They are forthcoming.  I just need to get a few things off of my chest.

My relationship with the blog is complicated.  Well, what isn’t, right.  But for some reason I really couldn’t bring myself to do any writing, or reading (other than newspapers) for a very long time.  I am technology addled, and I know it.  I’ve known for a while that technology has really re-wired my brain.  It’s insipid and insidious, I know it, and I make my living in technology (on one form or fashion).  So, one of the things this has caused is that I find it difficult to just sit and do something…read, write, watch a game, whatever.  I need the dopamine hit from constant twitter updates, what’s the latest nonsense from Washington, whatever.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a friend that has written a couple of novels.  It more or less snapped me out of this technology funk.  We discussed writing in general and I bounced a few things off of her.  She recommended a couple of books about writing for me to read.  I did, and well, I read one of those books then moved on to some pleasure reading.  Her novel.  I’ve owned a copy of it for years, and started and stopped it a few times. But like I said, I was out of the fog.  I read the book from (virtual) cover to cover over a weekend.  If you are in need of a great book, I cannot recommend enough “The Arsonists Last Words” by Alison Lockwood.  You can read excerpts here.  It’s available wherever you buy digital books.

I guess what this is is a multiple paragraph thank you to Alison for yanking me out of my malaise.  I mean, here’s a blog post and everything, with a couple more to follow today, I expect.

One other note, I’m trying my hand at fiction.  I’ve had an idea in my head for ever.  It’s a scene, really.  I’ve reworked it a few times, and I really don’t know what it is yet.  But I’m inspired to try and figure it out.  It may end up here, on this site, or on another one I have, or, honestly, it may never see the light of day, other than my laptop screen.  I guess the news is, for me anyway, is that I’m trying to be the writer I would really like to be

Volume 2 Number 3  Post  17

At the end of the Rose Bowl post, 3 entries back, I believe, I hinted about another bucket list type adventure that was in the future for me.  It’s still in the future, but the plans have been made for “Paul’s Big Adventure” or “Planes, Trains, Cruise Ships and Busses”.  (Wasn’t it the Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle show where the episodes always seem to have 2 titles like that?)

Here’s the story.  For more than 20 years, I’ve been something of a Canada fan (Canadaphile??)  I grew up in Michigan, and Ontario is just across the river from Detroit.  I remember the first time I went to Canada as a young adult, and even though I could see Detroit, just a few hundred yards away, it felt different to me.  I was aware that I was away from home, even though I hadn’t really gone anywhere.  The local alternative rock station in Detroit back then was 89X from Windsor, Ontario.  As they were a Canadian station, they were subject to Canadian content laws, and I was exposed to many great Canadian bands that I am a fan of to this day, like the Tragically Hip, The Pursuit of Happiness, Sloan, to name just three.  For a number of years, Toronto was my favorite city, I guess it still is.  I am by no means a world traveler, but I’ve always loved Toronto.  My first trip to Toronto was on Via Rail, Canada’s train system, and it was special.  Back then (20 years now) coach in Via was similar to business class in current domestic airlines.  There’s a lot of information here, and I could write a few thousand words about the circumstances around and also of the trip, but I like Toronto.   I was some media many years ago about the city of Banff, Alberta, and the elk that are free to wander the city.  Banff is a city inside of a national park, and I’ve always wanted to see it.

Many years ago, I was looking for ways to make a trip like this happen, and while on Via rail’s web site, they were offering a trans-Canada rail journey.  I was ready!!  It was certainly beyond my ability to pay for it, but I put a trip together.  Dreaming…  I’ve reassembled that trip many times over the years, and always kept running into a stumbling block.  No matter what upgrades I put together on the trip, the beds in the sleeper cards on the trip are 5’10” long.  No matter what.  That’s a bit of a problem for me as I’m 6’5” tall.

In the summer of 2013, I was looking at vacations again, and still, Via rail didn’t have an option for me.  I was really close to just deciding to do it anyway.  I thought that maybe there was another option, did some Google searching and came across the Rocky Mountaineer.  This is a train that runs through the Canadian Rockies only (not Coast to coast), but you overnight in hotels every night, and spend the days on a train.  Woo-Hoo!!  This is the answer!  I was committed to making this happen in the summer of 2014, I just didn’t know how I was going to pay for it, but it was going to happen.

So, if you’re paying attention, you’re asking yourself “I thought you said this trip is in the future, you said you committed to taking the trip in the summer of 2014??”  You’re correct, and in this case both things can be true at the same time.  Two significant events happened last year: Heart Attack and Rose Bowl.  The Rose Bowl took care of the vacation budget for this year.  The heart attack steeled the resolve to make the trip happen.  Fast forward to early this summer.

I have downloaded all of the brochures, I have visited all of the web sites, I’m ready to leave today (right now!) for the trip, but again, don’t really know how to pay for this.  Here’s the thing, I really don’t want to take this trip on the “budget plan”.  Every image I see from Alberta and British Columbia is more beautiful than the previous.  Every time you see a picture of Lake Louise, it’s taken from the Fairmont Hotel on the shore of the Lake.  I want that experience…that trip.  That trip is brutally expensive.  Dilemma.  Champagne dreams; beer budget.

I inherited some money this summer.  Not life changing money, but yeah, a nice sum.  It is from my Aunt who while she was working always seems to take remarkable trips many summers (she was a teacher).  It seemed so appropriate to me to use this windfall to honor her, and get to take this epic journey of my own.  It’s On!

Now, the next dilemma, actually deciding on what trip to take.  I’ll spare you all of the details, but I found a travel agent, and after a couple of conversations, she presented me with some options.  I chose one of her options, then upsold myself to another experience.  Here’s what the journey will encompass:

I fly to Vancouver, and then embark on a 7 day Alaska Cruise, returning to Vancouver.  After a couple of days to see Vancouver (and do laundry!) I leave on my train adventure.  I travel from Vancouver to Banff, and spend 2 nights in Banff.  Then travel by bus to Lake Louise (1 night) and Jasper (1 night).  I thin take another train trip that ends in Whistler, with a stop along the way in Quesnel.  After an overnight in Whistler, and another train back to Vancouver, then home.

More details as this gets closer, I’m certain.  And I expect the trip to be the source for many more posts.

Volume 2 Number 2 – Post 16

So, I’m back.

“But Paul, it’s only been a week since you last posted.  I didn’t expect to hear from you for another six months…”

Touche.  Well played.  I deserve that.  Historians will look back on this as my ‘prolific’ period.  <sarcasm>

Here’s the thing.  I don’t really have a great topic today, but I’ve re-committed to writing.  So here I am.  I shared in an earlier post that most of the time, for me, I get an idea, and let it percolate in my brain for a few days, and then, the words just sort of spill out through my fingers, to the keys, and to the page here.  I try to guide and shape the prose, but the thoughts and ideas are mostly done.  Right now, not so much.  I’ve got a few competing ideas that may turn themselves into something, but they haven’t yet become fully formed.  I’m seeing a pattern develop around the phrase that it doesn’t matter what, but it matters that…  In this case it matters that I’m writing.  I know I’m not supposed to compose at the keyboard (Call back to American Thought and Language at Michigan State University circa 1983-84) but it’s how I do this.  And also, to confess, the only time I have a pen in hand these days is to sign a credit card slip.  I would like to be able to write in a paper notebook, journal, etc.  they are more portable that this laptop, and more ‘romantic’ if you will.  But, will, in the years since I left college, I’m completely dependent on the keyboard if I want to read my own writing.  There’s another practical consideration too, this blog isn’t scripted, or pre-outlined, other than in my brain.  I just rather sit down, and …well stream of consciousness share my thoughts.  I think that if I wrote in a paper journal in that fashion, one of two things would happen.  1, the words you see here would be less powerful; strong, I’d have another opportunity to edit/filter fix…whatever.  The second is I simply wouldn’t transcribe them (more likely).

So, this is what you get.  Me.  Raw, Unfiltered.  Genuine Draft.  Sorry for the last one, and apologies to Miller/Coors.

I re-read the first post I made here, and was reminded that when I started this, I did not have the intention of making this the story of me, and I am committed to that.  I have an idea for a work of fiction.  I don’t really know how to write fiction, but I am going to give it a go.  We’ll see if it meets my standards of quality, and I can post it here.

More words to follow.

Volume 2 Number 1- Post 15

As I was saying…

 

Yes, I know it’s been awhile.  I’ve not been writing, mostly because I wasn’t.  I’ve found that when you are looking for one, excuses are extremely easy to find.  I’m committing to writing again, we’ll see if it leads somewhere.  To re-introduce you, here’s something from my archives.  It never quite made it to the site.

“What a drag it is getting old…”

I realized a new meaning of that sentiment last week, and it frankly surprised me a little bit.  Not that getting old is a drag (…it sure beats the alternative…) but rather how it was revealed to me.  Through some terrible uninteresting circumstances, I was working not from my home office, but the dining area, and this gave me access to the digital music channels on my cable television system.  I threw on one of the “alternative hits” channels, fairly standard operating procedure for me.  They list the year the songs are released as they play there, and I had an unsettling discovery.  Nearly every song I liked/remembered/whatever was 20+ years old.  Yikes!!  When the hell did I get so uncool?? (I know, I was never truly cool, but it’s my blog…humor me!  J )

And as I am writing this, the point gets hammered home to me again.  Here’s that story.  I’ve taken to writing at a coffee shop/bar and restaurant and I was waiting for some coffee.  There is a craft beer cooler at the counter, and I noticed a seaweed ale.  I mean, I knew about the craft beer movement, it wasn’t lost on me, but yeesh…seaweed ale?  The barista assured me its good, it doesn’t taste like seaweed, but wow, I really am old.  My drinking days are certainly behind me.