Monday, March 25, 2013

Road Ramblings, Part 2

A continuation of some random observations away from home.....

6.  My #1 Rule.  Is that there is always money for travel, which I realize on the front end is a rule only enforceable, perhaps, as a middle class or upper middle class notion, but I believe that when travel goes up against other voluntary expenditures, travel must win out. At least for me.  A friend debating whether to take his boys to Ireland this summer and I has this discussion yesterday.  The only issue there is whether the younger boys will remember the trip.  That is indeed a consideration.  But when I look back on a trip to Italy in 2009 that I'm still paying, I say without hesitation that I'd do it again in a heartbeat.  Totally worth.  I have another friend who will go into the hole for travel without hesitation.  I don't know what that does to his retirement, but I can confirm what it does for his current life!  I can't think of anywhere that I have been lucky enough to travel to that wasn't worth it. 

7.  Racing in the streets.  I don't know if seeing a Grand Prix race should be on someone's "Bucket List," but it is pretty damn cool.  The idea that you can walk into the heart of a city like St. Petersburg, Florida and watch Formula One racing is astounding.  To be that close to the cars, the noise, the speed on streets that are normally driven at sane speeds can boggle the mind.  The event itself is half-cool, half-redneck, but that's the kind of thing I like sometimes, sharing space with people whom I normally wouldn't when there is a common, positive goal at stake.  In this case, the pursuit of speed.  Whether or not we want to go that fast, there is no doubt that we want to see people go that fast.

8.  If I'm going to keep reading thrillers, I'm going to have to embrace the conservative mindset.  The reality is straightforward: if someone is writing books where people are challenging the government and the status quo, where the embrace of guns is crucial to the plot, where a lone hero will figure out things that government agencies cannot, then there's an excellent chance that the writer in question takes a conservative stance on things.  Case in point, I, Sniper by Stephen Hunter, one of my Spring Break reads.   But really any of them.  The hero has to do things outside the law and he often has to do those things with a gun, and so, he ain't no liberal.  In the book in question, a Jane Fonda clone is murdered on the first page, and a Ted Turner clone and The New York Times are both major impediments to the situation.  Or worse.  A person who enjoys these kinds of books, like me, is going to have to acknowledge the reality of the situation, that intelligent inkers and writers and book's heroes are not going to see the world the way a Liberal does.  I'm willing to acknowledge that.  The change is that I'd never really thought about it until now, and I've been reading these books for decades.

9.  One of life's great pleasures.  Admittedly, this is not a joy for everyone.  But if you play guitar, what greater pleasure is there than a new set of strings freshly installed and stretched out enough and retuned enough that they are in tune and ready to play?  OK, now up the ante.  Make that guitar a 12-string and those strings for a very limited amount of time sound like a church, a chorus, God Walking on this earth, at least a lot more than what 12 strings should be able to do. You sit in an empty room, strum chords or pick individual (doubled) notes and it is as if you get the smallest glimpse of heaven. Will it work in a band?  I don't know.  Will it translate to another setting? Equally unsure.  But when you have those moments where it is just you and those twelve strings, you can't help but feel like you have connected to something beyond.  Now, here's the odd thing:  at some point, those string will no longer sound new, but there is no way to predict when that will happen.  In the middle of a song? At some moment when you have left the guitar alone for a couple of days?  No way to know, but when it's gone, it's gone.

10.  The City That Sleeps.  I spent Winter Break in the city that never sleeps; now I'm in the city that does.  It is very disconcerting.  When a city does not sleep, everything is available to you.  When that city sleeps, you have to plan.  For example, here in Venice, Florida, no local restaurant stays open past 9 o'clock.  Maybe not a big deal, but when I'm down here on a limited time budget, I try to maximize everything, and if I'm on a bike ride or at the beach and not really hungry after a sleep in and a late lunch, then sometimes 9 o'clock is pushing it.  But if I don't order before then, then I am at the mercy of the national restaurant chains, and, lets be candid (I hope), no one come to Florida to eat at Chili's, do they?  I don't. The  reality is that in a city of old people, no one wants to eat as late as I do sometimes.  I understand that.  But it is difficult to factor in that reality when you are coming from a city that never sleeps.

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