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Category Archives: Advice

Civil Rights by Flight

First White House of ConfederacyI am finishing up a three day business trip to Montgomery, Alabama, the birthplace of two events that could not be further apart. In 1861, Jefferson Davis, the president of the confederacy lived in this town and his home, featured above, became the first white house of the confederacy. The home smells as if it has not been cleaned since then either but is a fantastic remnant of a time long past in our country we often gloss over. The first white house of the confederacy has 11 rooms and 10 fireplace, no kitchen and no bathroom (no running water in 1861). The house was moved from its original location about 10 blocks away piece by piece in the early part of the 20th century and expertly put back together like a residential puzzle. From this home, the confederate army during the Civil War, or as the Southerners called it, “The war between the states”, was directed. As the battles were primarily in Virginia at that time, Jefferson Davis moved to Richmond for a variety of reasons, one of which was that he and his generals could process the war more effectively, as it was taking too long to relay information from Virginia all the way down to Montgomery, Alabama. Jefferson Davis’ legacy remains heavy in the south especially in Montgomery.

Rosa ParksThe second event, diametrically opposite the southern civil war president’s home, was the instant Rosa Parks decided to sit her ground and refuse to get up from her seat on the bus in the face of an extremely segregated city. In December 1955, Rosa Parks has been credited with igniting the start of the modern civil rights movement. While Rosa Parks lived to a ripe old age, many individuals protesting the treatment of minorities, did not live so long and gave their lives for a cause in which they believed. The Civil Rights Memorial and Museum tells their stories so others will not forget their sacrifices. I highly recommend the Rosa Parks Museum located at the exact site of where Ms. Parks refused to arise from her seat, as told by the historical marker above.

Dexter Avenue ChurchA few blocks from the Rosa Parks Museum is the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, now called the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. This church was the home base of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. While I was unable to go inside and view the church (Do not go on Mondays. It is closed), standing in the shadow of American heroes was a great experience. Learning about their lives, their struggles, their hopes, their letdowns, their fears, their sacrifices, and ultimately, their greatest successes, at the very sites in which they fought their demons, was a significant learning adventure for me.

Today, I fly out on a Delta flight back to the Boston-area but get to feel the sun, heat and humidity on my shoulders in Alabama just a few moments more as my flight is delayed by an hour. You’ve heard of “island time” I am sure, but there is also “southern time” or “Bama time” here, where life is a little slower and nobody is in a great rush to do most anything. This is a good thing. It allows us to stop and look around once in a while, and think about where we stand and where “we” have come from. From the birth of the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, Montgomery showcases it all.

Keep traveling!!

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Advice, Humor, Personal Dissection

 

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Locals vs. Tourists

What’s the difference between a tourist and a local? Not much it seems other than where they sleep at night and where they go to work during the day. Both put their pants on one leg at a time too. But really, that’s about all the similarities I can find or have found over the last three days here in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.

PhillyPhanaticI’ve been to both typical tourist and typical local locations. Both are great for their own reasons. I spent my first night here at a Phillies game and got seats in the third row on the first baseline that would have cost $200+ back home in Boston at Fenway Pahk. Most of the folks sitting around me were locals, cheering on their home team who ended up winning in the 15th inning 2-1 over the near cellar-dwellers Houston Astros. Funny though, the guy sitting immediately to my right was from Boston. Small world. There was a lot of different types of food representational of the locals including Crab fries (I didn’t ask further), big Bavarian-style soft pretzels, and of course Yuengling beer, a favorite brew of Pennsylvanians for decades now. I even saw the Philly Phanatic whose costume has become iconic in the world of sports.

 Tony LukesI ate lunch yesterday at Tony Luke’s whose classic Philly cheesesteaks have made them a legend in the culinary world of street food. I got the cheesesteak with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone. Delicious! It wasn’t the cheesesteak that made my lunch, although it was excellent, it was the knowledge that the other customers were generally, to the best of my knowledge, locals. I saw construction workers, cops, guys in suits and ties, more guys with hard hats on, and mailmen (mail-persons, excuse me). I knew I had the best the local flavor could provide when I went to a place that has been featured on food shows and travel shows worldwide and where the locals continue to return day in and day out. Always trust a local for a food recommendation when you ask him or her where the locals go to get the best (insert your favorite cuisine here).

You may ask about the tourists…don’t trust them unless you’re discussing their home town. Walking through the Independence Hall and Liberty Bell area, all I saw was fannie packs, sun burns, strollers, cameras, backpacks, and I heard many foreign languages. I love that these folks come to see where my great country was founded but wouldn’t trust them as far as I could throw them for any advice about the best of the city in which I stand.

When visiting a city outside of my home territory, I prefer to be a traveler, and not a tourist. If you have to ask the difference, you’re a tourist. If you know already, you can be counted among the travelers. Travel on…

 

 
 

So what is it worth?

moving flightI’m on my way back from Denver this week. Well, not quite Denver but Centennial, Colorado that is located about 30 miles southeast of downtown Denver. It is flat. Relatively dry. And very suburban. No offense to folks in Centennial, but there really isn’t much charm to life in this “city.”

So on to my question, “Is it worth it?”  What is “It” you may ask. “It” is the status many frequent flyers accrue for sitting butts in seats, nights in hotels, dollars spent, cars rented, etc… I think you get the hint.  What does Silver, Gold, Platinum, Pre-Check, Global. Premier, Executive status confer upon us and “What is it worth?” 

Is it worth getting on the plane first? Is it worth getting upgraded to a suite instead of a regular room, even though the traveler will only spend a few hours in the room? Is it worth getting a Dodge Charger muscle car instead of a Kia? Is it worth going through security at the airport and not having to take off your belt in the name of safety and security?  I’ve started to accrue a few of these perks myself and have tried to take advantage of them as much as possible but I always ask myself “Is it worth it?”  My only answer right now is “I don’t know” at least I haven’t figured it out yet.

Which brings me to my next point. Is it OK to say “I don’t know.”  Alas, someone smarter than I can chime in here as I don’t have a good answer except to say “depends.”  Until next trip….

 
 

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Benefits of Travel

It has been a while…over a year since my last post. I am going to rededicate myself to writing posts more often as I travel.

I’m on my third week in a row on the road. The wife isn’t happy about it. It is part of my job however. Traveling is only a part of my work not all of my work.  It has however, taken me away from home three weeks straight now.

My first stop two weeks ago was Seattle, WA. Last week was Anchorage, AK. And this week I’m in Baton Rouge, LA. I will have two weeks off before heading to Denver for three days in early July. I have been home (outside Boston), between each of these trips making my airline miles grow on one or two specific airlines.

What have I learned these past three weeks? Why do I like traveling so much? Why do we all visit places outside of our home towns or cities?  I’ve got some thoughts. We wait in security lines, take our shoes off, store our gear, shove bags in overhead compartments, deal with delays or cancellations, take buses, wake up early, get in late, rent cars, deal with traffic, multiple personalities, and multiple languages or dialects as we travel the nation or globe. Why do we do this?

We want to see how lucky we are compared to others. We want to find out if we are in a better, or worse, situation than others. We want to see how others live, and die. We want to ask ourselves, “could I live here?” “Would I want to live here?”

Some folks have other reasons; to put up with the grind of travel to see other people and places. We want to see our great country and see the unique sights and sounds of historically significant places. Some folks travel to see the people. Some folks travel to see the places. Some folks travel for educational reasons.

What do we find from our travels? People are strange. People are generous. People are distinctive. People are proud. People are stubborn. People are self-centered. In sum, people are different. Generalizations are no good when describing specific cultures, regions or areas of the country or of the world. Everyone is distinct but there are some generalizations to be made about people in general.

My travels have taken me to all four corners of our great country and around the world. I have found that most folks are trying to better their lives as best they can within the boundaries of their current environs. People are mostly helpful, if asked. People are inherently good but often need to be pushed or pulled or coaxed. I don’t know why this is but on my future travels, I will try to figure this out. Maybe we just don’t trust folks we don’t know or don’t feel a need to stick our necks out without expecting something in return. Who knows?

In sum however, cultures may be different and may seem foreign to us, languages may seem like gibberish and we may feel uncomfortable not understanding but jump in…learn the language. Learn the culture. Try the “exotic food.” See the local sites and take in the art, the history, the architecture. One can only enjoy traveling and deal with the hassles of getting there in order to see all of the various distinctions and similarities of people and places around our great country and around the world.

Now go travel somewhere!!

 
 

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Battle Road & America

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I do not want to discuss our most recent election but I can’t help think about this country as I wind my way to work each morning and when I return in the evening.  You see, the marker above is just one of many historical sites/structures I pass along my route.  The below image is of Nathan Meriam’s House in Concord, MA where, on April 19, 1775, the first shots of what would become the American Revolutionary War, were fired.

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What connects this location to the 2012 elections?  While this country had not formally declared its independence yet, on this day in April 1775, we came together as 13 colonies, to fight for what we believed, the right to self-determination and self-governance. While the colonies were rather homogenous at that time in terms of beliefs and relative puritanical views, the southern plantation owner might have had different opinions than the dockworker in Boston Harbor and would not agree 100% on how best to govern our colonies.

What we need today is to come together to work toward a common goal: the betterment of this country in all areas.  Like the inhabitants of the colonies who could not afford to lose their fight, we cannot afford to let partisanship get in the way of fixing this great country and ridding it of the ills we ALL face.

Use the following links to write a quick email to your Congressman or Congresswoman.  Urge your county representatives or local district representatives to put partisanship behind and work together. Send a tweet, text message, email, phone call or snail mail to your reps and let them know how they should be representing us.

http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

http://www.congress.org/congressorg/dbq/officials/

We need strong leaders, surely, but being strong does not mean being stubborn and playing a zero-sum game so that no progress is made.

As an aside, my wife can claim roots to the first skirmish of the Revolutionary War. One of her descendants is captain John Parker, who led the Lexington militia against the British. Over a century ago, he was famously cast as the statue standing proud at the head of Battle Green in Lexington, MA. He is known as the Minute Man Statue or the Lexington Minute Man.

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I am quite certain our founding fathers would be amazed, dumbfounded and dismayed to find out what a stubborn, uncompromising and divided people we have become!

COMPROMISE IS NOT A BAD WORD!!

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Advice

 

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DON'T BE LAZY LIKE THIS TOWN'S PLANNER!

Life would be confusing if we all called our dog “dog” or our cats “cat.”  Should I start calling my wife “wife?” I don’t think that would go over too well. Don’t be lazy! Be more creative! I’m trying to motivate myself too!

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2012 in Advice, Humor

 

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