Austerity for Whom?

Last fall we spent the long Columbus Day weekend in Baltimore and Washington (see here and here). The purpose of our visit was twofold, to visit our daughter at Goucher College and take our youngest daughter on a couple of college visits. After our visit to Johns Hopkins Saturday morning we met our middle daughter and drove down to the Inner Harbor for the afternoon.

Walking from the garage near Camden Yards to the Inner Harbor we passed the Occupy Baltimore encampment. Just kitty-corner from the Harborplace Mall and the USS Constellation Museum, you could look across and see the marina and the new Ritz-Carlton Residences. As we were walking along I said to our middle daughter, pointing first to the Occupy camp and then the marina, “99 percent, meet 1 percent. 1 percent, meet 99 percent.” Seeing the two so close together really brought home the stark differences between them and a couple of recent columns (1 and 2), along with another installment in my friend Brian’s “Capitalism Destroys Everything” series of posts got me thinking about this again.

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It’s winter. The holidays are over (even Chinese New Year was a few days ago), and now it’s just the long grind until spring. Shoveling, budget, plowing, chipping ice, budget, snow removal, budget, snow removal, budget, rain, budget, etc., etc Spring brings an end – and hopefully a satisfactory conclusion – to all these things. More importantly, it comes with other happy things – grilling, riding, hikingsoftball games, evenings on the porch. Sigh. Doesn’t help that I’ve already been dreaming about these things.

Now why’d I go and do that? There’s still five months to grind out between here and there. Guess I’ll keep working in the budget, then.


Fender benders are a pain. In this case it’s someone else’s fault, though I can say it’s just as much of a pain the other way around. Insurance companies, adjusters, body shops, and time out of your day. All having to deal with the aftermath of someone else’s momentary inattention. As if that inconvenience and aggravation isn’t enough, there’s dealing with the emotional trauma inflicted on a young driver who was just going about her business. A life lesson at relatively little cost, I suppose, but still. Grrr.

On the up side, no one was hurt and the damage is minor, even inconsequential (but for the fact that it’s our car, we’re still paying for it, and we don’t want to drive around like we’re looking for a demolition derby). So we deal with it and move on.

(Really doesn’t look like much, does it? It’s more impressive in person. :-/)

Journals & Blogs

I never wrote in a journal, never kept a diary, not seriously anyway, until 1998. Blogging was still several years away but 1998 was the year of The Ice Storm, the year my mother had a stroke, and the year I turned thirty-five, which I sometimes refer to as the year I was finally old enough to be President but was smart enough to know it would never happen. Those of you who were in Maine at the time know which storm I mean. And, in time, we recovered from the storm as my mother recovered from her stroke. But I didn’t completely recover from journal writing – almost, but not completely.

For about ten years I wrote pretty faithfully, often several times a week. My writing became part of an evening ritual, especially on Sunday nights. I would sit at my desk listening to St. Paul Sunday, Pipedreams, and With Heart and Voice on Maine Public Radio. I enjoyed the act of writing, putting ink on paper. At the time I was much more into fountain pens and writing was as much an aesthetic exercise as anything. And I’ve got both larger bound books, small Moleskine notebooks, spiral bound and other notebooks, some full and others mostly empty because I got them when I didn’t have any of my other journals or notebooks with me to write in.

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Scent of a Man

I’m not one of those, you know those perfumed men? I’m not passing judgment – if you’re one of those, that’s fine – but you have to be careful not to cross the fine line into cologne-dipped jackass-dom. Anyway, though I’m not a regular cologne wearer I do like a nice aftershave lotion and I get tired of the same old thing all the time.

Before I go too far let me just say I am also not the kind of guy to spend a lot of money on things like aftershave. This, I realize, may be part of the problem, but it’s also not likely to change. Perfume for my wife as a special gift, fine, but not for me. If I splurge on me it’ll more likely be motorcycle tires, or a new sauté pan, or something else manly like that.

When I first started shaving I was all about Old Spice or something similar, sometimes from Avon when my mom was into that. I’ve gone through my Skin Bracer phase, my Aqua Velva phase, and a Brut phase. I found something at Bath & Body Works a couple of years ago – Woodland – which, of course, has since been discontinued.

Doing some last minute HBA shopping with our eldest before she returned to school, I came across Pinaud Lilac Vegetal. Cool bottle, not expensive, something different. Yes, different indeed. Too bad they didn’t have a sampler, or that I didn’t read the online reviews on first. Of course I could have listened to my daughter, too, who was skeptical about the whole lilac thing.

Not wanting to be put off I tried it after a nice shave one morning recently. It was like putting lilac-scented eau de first-thing-in-the-morning on my face. Plecch. The rest of it went down the drain in the bathroom sink where I trust it will feel right at home in its final resting place.

But just what is it men want to smell like? I’ve been looking around, and still haven’t come up with an answer, at least not one I’m willing to spend money on. I’ve given Pinaud another chance, this time with its Clubman aftershave. If that doesn’t work out I guess I’ll have to stick with the old faithfuls in the grocery store shaving aisle.


Three o’clock in the morning is really, really early. Not as early as one or two o’clock, but still early enough. I had my alarm set for three o’clock Saturday morning and woke up just before it went off. Friday night we had packed up the car and, but for last minute things (overnight bag, toiletries, MP3 player, MP3 charger, cell phone wall charger, cell phone car charger, book, screwdriver kit, prescriptions, etc., etc., …. – okay, maybe not just last minute things), were all set to head out by four. Because of all the last minute things, things not being where they were supposed to be, general wandering around and not being quite ready to leave we didn’t pull out until 4:39 a.m., meaning we were going to be 39 minutes later than planned all day long.

Allowing for stops for gas, rest stops, food, etc., and the lengths of 16th Street and New Hampshire Avenue, we pulled up at Amsterdam Hall about three in the afternoon. Of course there was plenty of parking available so I pulled up on the curb, turned on the four-ways and we began unloading. This wasn’t just coming back from winter break, since our eldest had spent fall semester abroad in Africa, so it took three trips to transfer everything from the car to her room. Having one of her roommates coming down the street just as we arrived and helping out didn’t hurt.

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