All posts for the month June, 2017
I have experienced the good fortune to visit all fifty of our states. Some were great, some not, some in between. But here is something memorable from each one, just off the top of my head.
Alaska-the Aurora borealis, of course!
Arizona-Antelope Canyon, Sedona, Spring Training, Los Sombreros, Elote Café’, and the Grand Canyon
California-Napa Valley, Carmel, San Diego, Tahoe, Pebble Beach, Disneyland, the beach, the wine, Yosemite, home
Colorado-Aspen, Red Rocks, Continental Divide, Boulder, ski trips, Coors Field
DC-Newseum, Ten Penh, cherry blossoms, National Gallery, Capitol Fourth, National Symphony
Florida-Everglades, Key West, Little Havana, stone crabs, cigars
Georgia-the Masters, Merri Macs Tea Room, the Varsity
Hawaii-Loco moco, dear friends, golf, Sam Sato’s, Kintaro, Hamura Saimin, Kapalua, shave ice, Aloha Stadium Flea Market, KC Drive In, Libby’s,
Illinois-the Cubs, Mag Mile, Eataly, museums, Wicker Park, Marshall Fields, Ravinia
Indiana-the Indy 500, Izzy’s, Lucas Oil Stadium
Kansas-barbecue, Negro Baseball Museum, Arthur Bryant’s
Kentucky-The Derby, Marker’s Mark Bourbon, Ali, Louisville Slugger, big hats
Louisiana-Nawlins, beignets, Hurricanes, Bananas Foster, Super Bowl 47, Acme Oyster House, Johnny’s.
Maine-lobster, LL Bean, Acadia, Bar Harbor, Bush 41,
Maryland-Naval Academy, Dirty Pat, crab cakes, Camden Yard
Massachusetts-JFK, the parquet floor, Salem, Boston Pops, lobster roll, Beacon Hill, Fenway, Union Oyster House
Michigan-Cheerios, Henry Ford, The Big House, Motown
Minnesota-Andrew Zimmern, Mayo Clinic
Mississippi-the river, Elvis, Delta blues,
Missouri-Forest Park, The Hill, The Arch, canoeing
Montana-Big Fork, Glacier, buffalo steak, dear friends, huckleberries,
Nebraska-Warren Buffett, College World Series,
Nevada-golf, dear friends, factory outlets, Fremont Street, TPC Summerlin,
New Hampshire-Dartmouth, J.D. Salinger, granite
New Jersey-ESPN, The Boss
New Mexico-Santa Fe, Goler Shoes, Café Pasqual, Georgia O’Keefe, Ghost Ranch, hot air balloons
New York-Yankee Stadium, Times Square, Carnegie Hall, Broadway, Empire State Building, Century 21, Madison Square Garden, US Open
North Carolina-Pinehurst, UNC, barbecue, Research Triangle, golf, post grad studies
North Dakota-oil, Dokies
Ohio-Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Shawshank, the Wilkins, Pro Football HOF, cousin Walt
Oklahoma-the song, Okies
Oregon-Bandon Dunes, Lexi, Willamette Valley wines, Crater Lake, Sunriver, golf, Powell’s Books
Pennsylvania-cheese steaks, American Bandstand, Miss Pennsylvania
Rhode Island-Newport, gaggers, johnnycakes
South Carolina-Charleston, Hilton Head, Gershwin, golf
South Dakota-Sturgis, Crazy Horse, Custer, Deadwood, Rushmore
Tennessee-Beale Street, Graceland, Stax Records, Jack Daniels, Grand Ole Opry, Peabody Hotel
Texas-Salt Lick, San Antonio, Final Four,
Utah-Arches, Canyonlands, St. George, Moab, fresh powder, Bonneville Salt Flats
Vermont-maple syrup, Ben and Jerry’s, Bennington chair
Virginia-dear friends, Smithfield ham, Santa
Washington-Seattle, Prosser Farms, Experience Music Project, Uwajimaya, Triple Door, Pike Market, dear friends
West Virginia-Harper’s Ferry, The Greenbrier, Hokies
Wisconsin-Whistling Straits, Friday night fish fry, Kohler faucets, cheese curds, Cheeseheads, Allen-Edmonds Shoes
Wyoming-Grand Teton, Jackson Hole, Frontier Days, really wide neckties
Feel free to give me your version!
Though we have been to Seattle many times, actually over fifty, it remains one of our favorite cities in the entire world. We have been visiting this fine city since our honeymoon in 1995. We now visit just once a year, at our Anniversary, though for many years, we visited three times a year, adding our birthdays in October and February.
So, we are always on the search for places, events, people, and things to explore or visit. Most of the time, we find some a concert, museum exhibit, farm dinner, or party to attend. Other times, we get together with old friends or relatives for a meal or party. This time, we are going back to Jazz Alley for a concert by four time Grammy nominee, Jeffrey Osborne on Sunday eve. In the past, we have seen performers like Paul Simon, the Seattle Symphony, Chicago, Average White Band, Tower of Power, the Kingsmen (Louie, Louie), Janis Ian, Sting, Hall and Oats, Judy Collins, Motown (the musical), and several plays.
But during the day, what else could we do. For one, I may head out to see the Mariners at Safeco Field. They actually have a decent team this year! But the crazy Toronto Blue Jays fàhave taken over this city. I have been out there a few times, including the old Kingdome that was blown up a few years ago. Who knows, we may be back when our Fresno State Bulldogs play the U Dub Huskies this Fall.
And please do not mention the famous Gum Wall at Pike Market. Gross! They have actually cleaned it several times, and have now declared it a Superfund Site!!!
But burlesque is alive and well in this city. Many nice restaurants and bars have events suitable for both sexes! The Triple Door, where we often go for concerts, got its start as a vaudeville show, later a house of prostitution, then a parking lot, before returning to its musical roots.
We heard former POTUS Obama loved Fran’s Chocolates, especially the salted caramels. But a 20 piece box runs $28, a little pricey for retirees. You nostalgia fans might consider visiting the gravesites of two famous people, either Jimi Hendrix, a Seattle native at Greenwood Memorial Park in Renton, and Bruce Lee in Lakeview Cemetery.
Famous Dick’s Drive In is THE place for a burger in Seattle. Only $2 for a cheese filled, non-organic, gluten filled burger. If that doesn’t get your attention, maybe a SLUT will. When I say slut, we are actually referring to the South Lake Union Trolley, but it is a fun ride nonetheless.
Needless to say, we have lots of options, including shopping at some of our favorite venues, meals with friends, and walking the city. What a great place to spend our Anniversary!
This is a perfect discussion while we are in Seattle, the world’s most famous city for coffee drinkers. Seattle consumes more coffee than any other American city. There are 35 coffee shops (which is TEN times more than the U.S. overall) per 100,000 residents. The average person in Seattle spends $36 a month for coffee. Starbucks (currently 424 stores here) was founded here in 1971. In addition, there are 694 independent coffee places. If you have ever been to the famous Café’ Nervosa you will know what I am referring to.
How did the phrase, “cup of Joe” originate?
Was it a barista named Joe? Or Jose?
Was it named by coffee importers in Johannesburg, SA (often called Jo’burg by locals) when they specialized in Arabica beans?
Was it named after the witch hunt by Senator Joseph (don’t call me Joe) McCarthy?
Was it where have gone Mrs. Robinson, Joltin‘ Joe has gone away?
Was it named for the greatest QB ever, Joe Montana after he won his first Super Bowl?
No!!! The answer is below, though it is not very romantic.
Joe refers to Josephus Daniels, former secretary of the US Navy under president Woodrow Wilson. During the World War I era, Daniels tried to reform the Navy morally. He increased the number of chaplains, discouraged prostitution at naval bases, and, most controversially, banned the consumption of wine and alcohol, suggesting that soldiers would be better off drinking coffee instead. For soldiers, a “cup of joe” became a frequent part of daily life.
Well, enjoy your cup of joe on Sunday morning like I do!!! We will have ours with croissants from the best French bakery in the world, Le Panier, near Pike Market. We also found out one of our favorite Seattleites got engaged! Congrats to dear young lady Ms. M.
I did not write much about the famous Moscow Metro. I rode it several times when I visited Moscow in 2014. Here is more information about it, if you are interested. One thing for sure, Russian engineering is outstanding, as you will read.
Moscow’s metro is one of the busiest and most visually stunning underground systems in the world. Created as a showcase for the Soviet Union, its elaborate, spacious stations are adorned with mosaics, marble statues and stained glass that tell the story of the communist state. When it opened in 1935, the metro had just 11 stations and attracted 285,000 curious riders on the first day. Today there are 206 stations and up to nine million passengers a day.
The stations were designed by various architects, reflecting different styles, going from art deco to faux Italian. They used tons of marble, mosaics, sculptures, and even chandeliers. They were meant to give workers a meaningful cultural experience, normally available only for the wealthy or government officials.
A few things I noticed, most obvious, no advertising. It feels like a time warp travel back in time. But what I liked most, aside from the long, deep stations that required a little fortitude on my part, was the natural air conditioning of each station, engineered into the design of each station. Coming from a warm and muggy outdoor, it is a most refreshing respite from the rigors of sightseeing and touristing. Imagine how the factory workers feel?
And I did not know this: A station manager controls trains coming and leaving the platform as she sits in a booth at Zhulebino metro station. Another visible change is the controversial replacement of many of the elderly women who used to sit in a booth at the bottom of the seemingly endless escalators, who were famous for telling passengers off if they sat down on the escalator steps. One attendant known by locals as Auntie Lyuda was famous for telling jokes on Mondays, reading poems and telling passengers to imagine they were in England – if passengers want to walk up and down the steps of the escalator, they should do so on the left. Now the attendants are mainly young men, and have yet to show any skill in bantering with passengers.
The Moscow metro’s immaculate stations are a mix of old and new. Get off at Ploshchad Revolutsii (Revolution Square) and you will see passengers going up to a statue of a border guard and rubbing his dog’s nose for luck. There are four such statues in the station, and all the dogs have shiny noses from the constant rubbing. Yes, I rubbed his nose, hoping for a safe and uneventful exit from Russia in the coming week!
A mosaic depicting Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin is located at Kievskaya metro station. The metro was originally named after Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, and the Bolshevik leader’s image was and still is found in stations throughout the metro: in statues, mosaics and a giant bust of Lenin on the wall in Ploshchad Ilyich (Ilyich Square) metro station. One station, Komsomolskaya is quite extravagant, and designed by the same architect as Lenin’s tomb. It has eight large ceiling mosaics made of semiprecious stones, including lapis lazuli and jasper. Other stations have opulent designs with gold, semiprecious stones, mosaics, and up to fourteen different varieties of marble!
One of my favorite stations is Novoslobodskaya, with 32 stained glass panels with political themes, quite common as you can imagine. They were meant to provide a message, to bring residents up to speed ideologically, as they rode through the metro. Needless to say, we are fortunate that dreary old BART, the “L”, and the New York subway tend to leave us alone in our thoughts.
Speaking of Vlad, Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin is also seen at Dobryninskaya metro station. The image of his successor Josef Stalin was also seen on the metro until Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced him in 1956, prompting the dismantling of statues of him all over the Soviet Union (and throughout Siberia). At Dobryninskaya metro station, a mosaic shows a happy crowd holding up a photo of a cosmonaut. The photo previously depicted Stalin and the cosmonaut was parachuted in to hide the disgraced leader. Interestingly, Stalin wanted to “jump start” his new Russia with the metro.
And for you millennials: The metro now has free Wi-Fi and announcements in English are gradually being introduced across the numerous lines. In the more tourist-friendly stations, “selfie spots” have been designated on the floor to help passengers get the best photo with a metro architectural highlight in view. But there are great photo ops at almost every station, compared to our sterile stations in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco (BART).
For a bit of history about the Moscow Metro:
A station manager controls trains coming and leaving the platform as she sits in a booth at each metro station. Another visible change is the controversial replacement of many of the elderly women who used to sit in a booth at the bottom of the seemingly endless escalators, who were famous for telling passengers off if they sat down on the escalator steps. One attendant known by locals as Auntie Lyuda was famous for telling jokes on Mondays, reading poems and telling passengers to imagine they were in England – if passengers want to walk up and down the steps of the escalator, they should do so on the left. Now the attendants are mainly young men, and have yet to show any skill in bantering with passengers. Sadly, I was not able to meet Lyuda, or any of her platform performers.
How about a souvenir? The metro finally seems to have realized how iconic it is, and has introduced tourist stands with metro-related gifts. The souvenirs include an 8-cm model of the guard and the dog (rub the nose at home to your heart’s content for 2,900 rubles or $51.54) or coasters with famous metro mosaics on them, including one of Lenin. I thought $50 was a little pricey for a dust collector.
Why airplane food taste so bad
Airplane food has a bad reputation, but the food itself isn’t entirely to blame—the real fault lies with the plane. A 2015 Cornell University study, reported by Time, found that the environment inside an airplane actually alters the way food and drink tastes—sweet items tasted less sweet, while salty flavors were heightened. The dry recycled air inside the plane cabin doesn’t help either as low humidity can further dull taste and smell making everything in a plane seem bland. According to a 2010 study from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics in Germany, it’s about 30 percent more difficult to detect sweet and salty tastes when you’re up in the air. Next time you fly, skip the meal, and maybe try a glass of tomato juice instead.
The BBC says: Although planes routinely cruise at altitudes of around 40,000 feet, the pressure of the cabin is brought back down to more comfortable altitudes of between six and nine thousand feet above sea level. Even those lowered altitudes, though, are still enough to slow down cook times considerably.
“It’s actually very hard to cook at those altitudes,” explains John Hansman, who directs the International Center for Air Transportation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “They generally are just doing reheating.”
It’s not just the difficulties of cooking, though. Even the food service encourages heat-and-serve style meals. The preference in hot airline meals is for precut, reheated meats, usually swimming in sauce, like boeuf bourguignon. In part, the sauce works to counteract the dryness of the pressurized air cabin. But both the sauce and the slow reheat time also suit today’s blunt-edged airline cutlery sets, which have either no knife or an unsharpened one.
There are a few tricks to getting a decent meal, even in coach. First, check if the airline offers “special meals” in coach, like kosher, low salt, vegetarian, low cholesterol or Asian. These generally require better preparation methods, and are served cold. Second, many airlines are now offering upgraded meals, ordered ahead of time, and provided at a reasonable cost. Third, you always have the option to buy food before boarding or even getting to the airport. We always buy food at our favorite French bakery in Seattle for our flight home.
Thanks to the Samurai School of Discount Travel, you now know the secrets of the veteran traveler and survivor.
**mystery meat=the first time I heard this term was back in 1964, when I was a freshman at UC Berkeley. The guys in my dorm called anything that either tasted bad or we could not adequately identify, by the now ubiquitous term, mystery meat!
After the Army decommissioned the Presidio, I was quite excited about playing golf there. It was billed as “the poor man’s” Olympic Club, with similar small greens, tall trees, and cool misty air permeating the fairways. But the Presidio, with its Western Defense Command, also played a big role in incarcerating the Japanese during World War 2.
The Presidio was the source of 108 civilian exclusion orders and other military directives that enacted President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. These actions forced my Mom’s and Dad’s families, along with all people of Japanese ancestry, citizens or not, from the west coast. It incarcerated them in concentration camps for the duration of the war.
“The Presidio of San Francisco played a pivotal role in the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II,” explains Presidio Trust Curator Liz Melicker. “This exhibition encourages reflection and invites visitors to investigate the issues and decisions that led to this dark chapter in American history. How did leaders arrive at the decision to incarcerate Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens? How did Japanese Americans and others respond to the violation of their civil liberties? And what, as a nation, have we learned that can help us address present-day issues such as mass incarceration, immigration reform, and racial profiling?”
It has been 75 years since the Western Defense Commander Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt signed those 108 orders in Building 35. It led to the removal of 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast, primarily California. The exhibit, Exclusion: The Presidio’s Role in World War II Japanese American Incarceration will run for a year in the Presidio Officer’s Club.
From the website: “The Presidio Trust staff worked with collaborators from the Fred T. Korematsu Institute and the National Japanese American Historical Society (NJAHS), both tenants at the Presidio. The Korematsu Institute and NJAHS provided input from concept development through script review, contributed objects and images to the exhibition, and are collaborating on public programming at the Presidio Officers’ Club’s Moraga Hall and school program development throughout the duration of the exhibition.”
“Exclusion explicitly invites visitors to contemplate what can be learned from this shocking time in our history to help us contend with present-day issues—namely racial profiling, anti-immigrant sentiment, mass incarceration, and civil rights discrimination, as well as questions regarding the Constitutionality of Executive Order 9066,” said Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu
Two-thirds of those imprisoned were American citizens by birth; the others were non-citizens unable to obtain naturalized citizenship by federal law. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor and under the pretext of “military necessity,” these civilians were removed from their homes and detained without due process. Nearly 40 years later, the federal government unequivocally stated that “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership” had motivated this mass incarceration during World War II—not “military necessity.”
“Now more than ever, we need to teach the lessons to be learned about the injustices of Executive Order 9066 and the World War II forced removal and mass incarceration of Japanese Americans,” explained Rosalyn Tonai, Executive Officer of the National Japanese American Historical Society. “This is a significant event in our collective American history and we are sure the Presidio’s exhibition will be the starting point for much meaningful dialogue.”
As you can probably figure out, I have been spending a great deal of time learning more about Relocation, and Executive Order 9066. I have asked many friends and relatives about it as well. And yes, I will probably put it in a book that I am writing about Sansei, the third generation Japanese Americans, of which I am a part.
Yes, it always makes me sad, even brings tears to my eyes. But what I think about most is that such illegal incarceration can happen again. And to then draft the young Japanese American men (Nisei) into the service, I often wonder what my Grandfather must have thought about his wonderful new country and land of opportunity. My Uncle was drafted and served in the Military Intelligence Service for the duration of the war, and in Occupied Japan.
Anytime a single race, religion, or group is singled out as “dangerous” or “the enemy”, this saddest chapter in American freedom is replayed in my mind. Yes, it could be African-Americans, or Latinos, or Muslims, or perhaps even you!
PS: It was a relatively small display, well done, and focused on the role of the Presidio in EO 9066.
I have written numerous emails about airlines, hotels, and loyalty programs. This one just makes me breathless, flabbergasted, incredulous, discombobulated! According to the latest consumer surveys, these are the top US airlines and hotel chains:
3. Alaska Airlines
4. American and Delta (tie)
5. Allegiant (I am in shock!!!!!)
2. Hyatt and Marriott (tie)
5. Best Western
This must be a joke! Any list that has Allegiant near the top, must be an April Fool’s joke!! They are the worst airline I have ever flown (in the U.S.)! And Best Western, mentioned in the same breath with Marriott, Starwood, and Inter-Continental? Almost as surprising as Allegiant, and holding up the rear is, as always, the despicable, depressing, and dispiriting, Spirit. Some Best Westerns, in places like Salt Lake, and Disneyland can be fairly good.
In the air, JetBlue has their fair share of problems. They have deviated from their original budget minded charter, and gone totally bonkers with a “refreshing” first class called Mint. This service offers first class seats, early boarding, first bag to carousel, entertainment, and food. Best of all, JetBlue remains one of the few airlines that does not overbook! I flew them numerous times to and from Oakland and Long Beach. Invariably, it was always late!
Overall, when it comes to airlines, this year consumers say they were happier with on-time arrivals, were generally satisfied with how easy it is to book air travel (and how user-friendly airline websites are today) as well as the check in process. In general, they were also happy with the helpfulness of cabin crew, except for the latest episodes of bad service.
“Airlines have made strides to improve on-time arrivals and in-flight meals, plus lost baggage is down,” the report says.
Among the low cost carriers, I thought Aer Lingus was above average. I flew coach from SFO to Dublin, and Business Class on the way back. The coach trip was “acceptable” neither good nor bad. And the Business Class was comparable to most U.S. based airlines’ business class.
I used EasyJet to fly from Amsterdam to Berlin and back. Despite hearing horror stories, the flights, though late in departing, were more than acceptable. The tardy flight over to Berlin was countered with free food and drink vouchers from the staff at EasyJet. No reason was given, other than the plane was enroute, and running behind schedule. But no other airlines offered me even a cup of coffee!
And for loyalty programs:
For the best airlines in accumulating and using frequent flier miles, along with perks, Hudson recommends Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, JetBlue TrueBlue, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Delta SkyMiles, and Virgin America Elevate – all of whom rated highly in a recent travel rewards survey by U.S. News.
“They were rated as the top five frequent flier programs in the business,” Hudson notes. “They all rate highly in partnerships, accommodations, extra travel perks and more. Alaska is a great option for west coast residents while TrueBlue is the go-to program for East Coasters. Southwest is known for being the ideal for budget-minded travelers and Delta’s miles don’t expire.”