Sunday, March 26, 2017

Where I've Been and Where I Probably Will Never Go

Create Your Own Visited States Map

The map above shows all the states I've visited for one reason or another. Most of the reasons involved healthcare conferences I attended or exhibited at.

In those states I had my favorite cities...
  • San Francisco
  • Chicago
  • Charlotte
  • Portland
  • Seattle
  • Louisville
  • Alexandria
  • Boston
  • Breckenridge
  • New Orleans
...and my not so favorite cities:
  • Nashville
  • Las Vegas
  • Dallas
  • Nashville
  • San Antonio
  • Orlando
  • Phoenix
  • Did I say Nashville?
Of the states I haven't visited yet, there aren't any I think I'll someday visit, except for Wyoming, Hawaii and possibly -- possibly -- Montana. I'd love to visit the national parks in Wyoming, who wouldn't like to visit Hawaii, and I've heard from too many people how beautiful Montana is, though a visit there remains a rather long shot.

Of the rest -- Alaska, Idaho, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama -- I have absolutely no desire to visit. None. Nada. Zip. Zed.

Well, maybe Alaska. If I'm forced.

Reasons for not wanting to visit those states:
  • Idaho: Seriously?
  • North or South Dakota: Not enough draw, I guess
  • Nebraska and Kansas: Too much corn. Too flat.
  • Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama: Way too conservative and racist for me, especially Mississippi, which needs to bring itself up to, at least, the 1980s.
Gaylord Opreyland Resort in Nashville.
Or as I call it, Hell on Earth.
I'm sure all of those states are beautiful in their own way, and obviously not everyone who lives in Mississippi, et al, is racist or conservative. It's just that my overall impression of them doesn't make me say, I would really like to visit there. No.

Honestly, if I never visit any of those states in my lifetime, it will be just fine with me.

What will most assuredly NOT be fine with me is if I am forced to go to Nashville again. No, that will NOT BE OKAY!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

My Best Little Poop Watcher

Our littlest doggie, Georgie, has a detestable little habit of defecating in the dining room. She was a rescue that had been picked off the streets of Philadelphia, which is what we blame this particular nuisance on. IT'S NOT OUR FAULT!

Anyway, the dining room is where she poops. Luckily the, um, released elements tend to be well-formed little marbles all in a neat little pile. We pick them up, dispose of them, and that's that until the next day.

Lately, though, those little piles have disappeared. There are now little brown marbles all over the dining room floor, on account of how our newish puppy, a 5-month-old, 36-pound golden retriever named Lola, likes to play with them.

Enter our little granddaughter, age 2½, who calls me Pepe, an homage to my own grandfather. This little girl loves to help. Her latest assistance has been coming in the form of letting me know when there are little marbles on the floor.

"Pepe, I see POOOP!"

That's my cue to grab a couple paper towels, head into the dining room, and let her guide me to said poops.

"Thank you, sweetie, you're the best Poop Watcher ever!"

"Hhh-yuhhh!" she says, as if, you know, of course she is.

I'm not sure she'll brag about this little gift she has, the ability to spot little poopies, when she gets older, but she sure is proud of it now. And I just love her for it.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The 5th Street Stairs: A Sweet Story

There's a town along the Monongahela River, just north of the bright yellow Stan "The Man" Musial Bridge, called Donora. The old mill town is famous for being the "Home of Champions," most prominently the aforementioned baseball legend, plus Ken Griffey, Sr. and his son, Ken Griffey, Jr, who was born in Donora but moved with his parents to Cincinnati when he was six.

Original 5th Street stairs, of which
there are 163. I counted.
The Musial and Griffey homes are located uphill from the main drag, McKean Avenue, which runs along the flood plain next to the Mon, as locals call the Monongahela. When I say uphill, I mean it. Pretty much all the roads emanating from McKean upward are rather steep, particularly 5th Street, part of which was closed off years ago because it proved too dangerous for car travel.

On 5th Street now, between Prospect and Murray Avenues, there is a street-wide swath of grass with a set of stairs on either side. The stairs on the right, looking upward, are replacement stairs installed a number of years ago. The stairs on the left, however, are original and tell an interesting story.

Each riser, from the very bottom to the very top, is but 4 inches tall. Most stairs today have risers about 8 inches tall. So why do the 5th Street stairs, and many other staircases in Donora, have risers half that height?

It turns out that Rose Marie Iiams' grandfather-in-law was the engineer who designed the stairs. Mrs. Iiams, 90, was a long-time pharmacist in Donora and worked all day, every day during the 1948 smog event. The story she tells may be apocryphal but it's adorable nonetheless.

Hobble skirt, 1910
"Women were wearing hobble skirts then," she says.

I didn't know what a hobble skirt was, so she kindly explained. "The skirts were sort of tight, so you couldn't raise your legs very far..

Go on.

"Well, his wife was a little woman, and his daughter was a big woman. And he measured the distance that each could raise her legs, and he made the steps halfway between."

Then she laughed and said, "Isn't that a marvelous story?"

It is indeed, Mrs. Iiams, it is indeed.