Southern Tech Bathtub Racing

Most bathtub racing is either on water, which makes sense because they’re usually associated with water, or turned into modified wheel barrows and pushed for the race.  Southern Tech, in Marietta, Georgia, had a different take on bathtub racing, turning the tubs into little rockets.

Bathtub racing at Southern Tech began in the late 1960s and continued into the early 1980s before taking a 20 year hiatus.  Racing did return to Southern Tech during the early 2000s but seems to have once more stopped when Southern Tech was consolidated into nearby Kennesaw State University.

I attended the races, I think, in 1981.  I was surprised at the speed these things could achieve.  The bodies were bathtubs but the rest was pure racing machines.  You can see from the photo that speeds were considerable and the racers took this sport seriously.

Bathtub Race Sensia 100

Trams, Lisbon

A popular mode of transportation in Lisbon, particularly with visitors, are the trams.  Four of the five tram routes are serviced by the historic “remodelado” trams.  These trams date from the 1930s and were upgraded in the 1990s, with new brakes, engines and electronics.  Because of Lisbon’s steep hills and narrow streets, modern trams are too large and cannot make the tight turns needed to navigate the city.  Only Route E15 uses the newer “articulado” trams.

The most famous of the remodelado trams is Tram 28.  Because it’s the longest route and circles through much of the tourist areas, it’s almost always standing room only.  Be prepared to wait to board the tram as well.  It took us over an hour before we were able to work our way through the queue and board the tram.

We rode Tram 28 because tourist guidebooks all tout it as an inexpensive way to see the sights.  I would advise against it and recommend, instead, any of the other trams, which are less crowded and more relaxed than Tram 28. We rode Trams 18 and 25 and had much more enjoyable rides.

Lisbon Trams


Red Boathouse

This photo was taken many years ago, with a film camera, at a small lake in North Georgia.  I was lucky enough to be the only person visiting that particular spot that day and was able to enjoy the quiet peace and beauty of the lake and woods.  I was taken by the way the man made object looked so at home in the natural setting.  I also like the faded red of the boathouse is complemented by the reddish tint in some of the foliage.

Red Boathouse

Me and My (Cancerous) Shadow

There comes a time when we begin to realize we’re not immortal. For me, that was when I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

Multiple Myeloma is a cancer of the blood where a certain protein becomes cancerous and then clones itself over and over, eventually forming tumors in the bone marrow. There have been several new drugs and treatments introduced over the last few years which have extended the life expectancy of patients, but there is no cure.

I had known for years that I could eventually develop the disease. I’d had smouldering myeloma, it’s precursor, for a decade. There’s about a fifty percent chance that the cancer would progress from the smouldering phase to the active phase within the first ten years, so I was right on schedule. I was still shocked by the diagnosis, though. After ten years of nothing I figured I was in the clear.

The average life expectancy of someone with multiple myeloma is three to five years, although with recent advances many people are now expected to live many years longer. I’m nearing six and my protein levels are still pretty low, although lately they’ve begun to climb again. I consider that pretty good.

I’ve been lucky. As the disease progresses, tumors develop in your bones and spontaneous fractures can occur. So far the disease has not damaged my bones.

I underwent a stem cell transplant in 2013.  Sometimes the stem cell transplant doesn’t work. Mine did, and I was home two weeks after my stem cell transplant. There were a couple guys who’s first stem cell transplant didn’t take and were into their second transplant.  I was out of work for six weeks, post-transplant, the minimum required, then returned to work full time. A work acquaintance who had the same disease, underwent a stem cell transplant one week before me and even had the same oncologist returned to work part time and then retired a year later. So, yes, I’ve been lucky.

There have been some positives. I’ve lost a little weight, so I’m right where I should be as far as BMI. My wife and I eat a lot better than before, with a lot of vegetables and organic foods. I’ve cut out sodas and most processed sugars. We’re working on staying healthy.

Don’t get me wrong.  Having cancer sucks.  I’m always tired. I can’t spend a lot of time in the sun because skin cancer is a real possibility. The chemotherapy drugs have some pretty maddening side effects, and that’s always a concern.

Then there are the costs associated with monitoring the disease. So far, I’ve had three bone marrow biopsies, a stem cell transplant and I’ve been on chemotherapy of one sort or another for six years. The chemo drugs are around $200,000 per year.  Doctor’s appointments and full blood panels have to be done every three months, and they aren’t cheap, either.  I blew past the million dollar lifetime insurance cap that existed before Obamacare within four years of my transplant.

These days depression is an issue.  Multiple myeloma is never cured; the best you can hope for is a reduction in the protein levels to keep the disease at bay.  You live in constant fear that the disease will suddenly start growing again, that the chemotherapy drugs will stop working or that the treatment will become too expensive.

For years I worried about insurance because I now had a pre-existing condition.  After Obamacare I had to worry that the GOP would repeal the law. Now I worry that they’ll simply roll back the lifetime cap or the pre-existing condition protection and I’ll have no insurance.  There’s plenty to be depressed about.  ABMT Clinic 2

Because my protein levels are once again climbing, I had an appointment with my oncologist to discuss future treatment.  There are several new drug therapies that we can use, but before we can decide on which one to go with I have to undergo another bone marrow biopsy.  I’m not looking forward to it.  I’ve had three already and I can honestly say it’s probably the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.  But it is what it is.

So for now, I’m kind of up in the air, waiting to see what the future holds for me.

Alaska Wilderness

Sometimes I’m left with the feeling of awe at the beauty of nature.  Alaska’s wilderness left me feeling that way over and over.  Even now, two years later, the places that left the deepest impressions were not the tourist locations, but the natural places we saw in passing.

I don’t know exactly where this mountain and valley are located in Alaska.  I can only tell you that I took the photo as we passed by on our Alaska Railroad journey from Denali to Anchorage.  It leaves me with an appreciation of the power and majesty of nature.

Alaska Landscape

Canada Place, Vancouver

Canada Place is one of the prominent landmarks in Vancouver.  Opened in 1986 during the World Fair, Expo 86, it’s a convention center and the main cruise ship terminal in western Canada.  The fabric roof is designed to resemble ship’s sails.

Our experience with Canada Place was as the starting point for our Alaska cruise.  I took this photo during a walk after a wonderful breakfast at Skoozis.  I like the way the bright colors of the taxis, the traffic light and the street sign contrast with the white roof and the gray skies.

Canada Centre HDR Deep 1

Garden Wall, Tryon Palace

Tryon Palace, in New Bern, was the official residence of the British Governors of North Carolina from 1770 until 1775.  Eventually, to be more central in the newly formed state, the capital was moved to Raleigh in 1792.  Some time shortly after that, the original palace was destroyed by a fire.

The palace was recreated, according to the original plans, in the 1950s.  It’s an interesting part of North Carolina’s early history.

My favorite places at Tryon Palace are the formal gardens.  While the plans for the original palace included garden plans, the original gardens were never implemented.  The current gardens were designed by Morley Williams, who had assisted in the restoration of the gardens at Mount Vernon and Stratford Hall.

This walk along the garden wall is one of my favorite spots in the gardens.  It’s a peaceful place where you can sit quietly and enjoy the beauty of the gardens.  I also like that it’s just a little shaggy, not as well manicured as other parts of the garden.  It just feels warmer to me.

Garden Wall

Capela de São Bentinho, Braga

There are churches everywhere you look in Portugal.  Many are tourist destinations, like the monasteries of Jeronimos, Batalha and Alocbaça, the Sanctuary of Fatima and Bom Jesus do Monte in Braga.

The tiny São Bentinho Chapel in Braga is not on most tourist itineraries.  We stumbled upon it while exploring areas near the Braga Cathedral.  It’s a beautiful little shrine to Saint Benedict, located on a narrow lane that gets its name from the chapel.

Inside the eighteenth century chapel is a lovely painting depicting Saint Benedict, Saint Bernard and Our Lady of Light.  Capela de São Bentinho provides an intimate setting to practice your faith.

Capela de Sao Bentinho

Emerald Lake, Yukon

We visited Canada’s Yukon Territory in May of 2016.  The Yukon is the least populous of Canada’s provinces or territories, with just under 36,000 residents.  We were part of a cruise ship excursion up the Klondike Highway, from Skagway, Alaska, to Carcross, Yukon.

What struck me about the Yukon was the natural beauty of the territory.  I expected a cold, barren place and, instead, found wildflowers, greenery, and huge snow-capped mountains.

An example of the beauty of the Yukon is Emerald Lake, just up the highway from Carcross.  The lake gets its name, obviously, from the bright green color of the water.  The color comes from sunlight reflecting off white deposits of marl, a mixture of clay and calcium carbonate, which was deposited here by glaciers many thousands of years ago.

It’s a stunning sight, and well worth the trip.

Emerald Lake HDR Outdoor 1

Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

We had the opportunity to spend a couple days exploring New York City a few years ago.  I had the best tour guide ever; my wife is from Long Island and worked for a while in Manhattan, so she knew exactly where to take me.

One of our stops was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I love museums and the Met is probably the best museum I’ve ever visited.  We could have spent days there but we only had a few hours.  If we make it back to New York City, another trip to the Met is a must.

This photo is the Charles Engelhard Court in the North Wing.  I love how the shadows from the modern glass enclosure fall across the classical facade of the entrance.  I also like that they brought a little nature into the museum with the grass and shrubbery and natural light.  You can sit in what amounts to a tiny park inside the museum and enjoy the beautiful artwork.

Art Museum