Monday, December 10, 2012

Road Trip!

I took a brief road trip over the weekend, to Nashville. The weather was cool, grey and rainy. Not that I cared much, really. I went to Two Rivers Park and wandered around for a bit. The weather kept many away, I am sure, but there were a few other stalwarts out, some walking, some jogging, some playing golf, both the kind with clubs and the kind with Frisbees.

Judging by the amount of traffic near the shopping areas I passed, a lot of folks were doing their damnedest to prop up the economy through rampant consumerism. I didn't really buy anything this weekend, apart from gas for the car, a couple of Redbox DVD rentals, snacks and a couple of meals out.

One meal was noteworthy, at a place called The Silly Goose.The atmosphere was good. My friend and I went at peak dinner time on Saturday night, but didn't have to wait long at all. We sampled some local cheeses and then enjoyed our meals. I opted for fish and she went for a vegetarian plate; we shared liberally. They had a decent wine list, but as I was already a little tired, it was raining, and I was pretty much a stranger to the area I decided not to add another level of complexity to my driving.

The last time I went to Nashville I had dined in the same neighborhood. It was interesting how, even in the dark and rain, I started to remember the area from a visit some time ago.

I do enjoy getting out on these short trips, and Nashville has a lot yet for me to explore.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Long Distance Call

I had an interesting phone call over the weekend. I spoke with someone that I have known through various virtual media for some time but had never held a real conversation.

I was a little nervous. At times in the past I have made comments/expressed opinions that really annoyed this person. And this person pulled no punches once and really blasted me. That's okay. At times I think we try to be too nice for the sake of not rocking the boat and the expense of dialogue and honesty.

I enjoyed the call. It helped me fill in some gaps of knowledge, erase some assumptions, and confirm others. I had the chance top get some of my questions answered. It made my night. I wonder what this person, who I do claim as a friend, got from the call? I suppose it is not for me to know, ultimately.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Book Review (Brief)

The last time I was in the local library I saw this book on one of those shelves were books are displayed covers out rather than neatly organized in the stacks. I am glad that librarians go this effort. If they did not, I and I imagine many others would miss out on a number of good reads, this one included.

Karen Fisher-Alaniz's father, Murray, served in the USN in WWII. He was, ostensibly, a radio operator in Hawaii for the duration of the war. At least that was his story, if asked. But one day Karen was given a stack of letters that her grandmother had saved, the correspondence her father had written home during his time away from home.

What unfolds is a daughter's discovery of her father's real contribution to the war effort as well as an old man's battles with PTSD. I found it to be heartwarming and quite the page turner.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Political Hangover

I am a bit of a political junkie. Early in my post-college career I was offered a post with some friends to help manage and run a political campaign with a number of college friends for a contender for a seat in the House. It was a tempting thought. The fellows who were forming this team were incredibly bright and we had spent countless hours in college in class together arguing and even more outside of class doing the same, discussing both political theory and practice.

I had been very active in campus politics for my four years at university.And yet I declined the offer. I had a job of sorts and didn't want to take the risk. My friends went on to win the campaign, and two of the five are still very much involved in politics One is major wheel in local politics in our college town, the other is a smaller fish in the D.C. pond but has found his niche and has built a couple of nice companies and is what one might call "financially secure."

These days I follow politics, but my interest waxes and wains, depending on the season, the politicians and the issues. Neither of the major party candidates excited me, but the issues of the day certainly do. It seems that as a nation we are becoming increasingly polarized on issues and that our leaders are unwilling to compromise and broker deals.

That's a shame.

Politics does have winners and losers, but it is not a zero sum game. If we constantly bully  and push the 'other' around then what kind of system are we building? I had hoped (in vain) that the Libertarian party would break the 5% threshold this year and become a national voice and a viable option to the two parties in power. I have looked at some of the parliamentary systems with their multiple, fractious parties and see some value to those systems, although they are not without their flaws. But it does seem that in those systems the brokering of deals among groups becomes more important for getting things done.

On a side note, how different might presidential politics be if more states opted for proportional representation in  the electoral college rather than a "winner takes all" approach? Only two states don't use this approach but it might certainly get the nation a step closer to the notion of the a truly popular vote to elect the president, if that is what one wants.

Enough of politics for now. I still do have a bit of a news hangover.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jud's Movie Reviews of the Week

I have a DVD player and occasionally watch a movie on long car trips. This weekend I took just such a trip and had the occasion to watch three films.

The Avengers - big budget, Josh Whedon super-hero movie. It was a nice, if long, romp.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - a fun, if somewhat predictable comedy. The story follows a diverse group of British pensioners that move to a retirement community in India. An amazing cast, a decent script and a delightful setting make this a fun film.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - another romantic 'comedy'. Follows the hair-brained scheme to bring salmon fishing to the high desert in the Yemen. Delightful fun. Oh, and Kristin Scott Thomas had a nice role and she makes my heart go pitter-patter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

No, I am Just Driving Through

I have lived in an around this grand metropolis since 1996. And, apart from major thoroughfares and my oft-traveled routes, I know remarkably little about where certain roads lead. This occasionally causes problems for me, especially as I do not possess a GPS.

(This not an image of my location, but I think is a decent representation of my perception of life as a commuter.)

I like to drive around and explore, and this has helped me expand my knowledge of the city. Recently, though, Little One and I moved from one end of town to the other. We even moved from one county to another. I haven't learned all of the little short cuts and back ways of our new environs yet.

Tuesday morning at rush hour may not be the best time to try to remember a back way to get across town to the office. And yet that is exactly what I did. After dropping Little One of at school, I took a different tack to get to the interstate. As I neared the on ramp and the long queue of cars I recalled driving straight through a couple of lights and then going through a neighborhood, taking a left, and  then being back to a spot where I can get to the office.

So I turned my back on the interstate and the slow-pace of traffic that I knew would await and pushed ahead. All was fine until I can to a 4-way intersection and I couldn't recall which way to go. I had to choose a lane, so I opted for straight.

It was the wrong choice. As it turns out, I was in the line of cars of people dropping of their kiddos at an elementary school. There was no way to turn around. The train of vehicles was routed, ever so slowly, around the teachers' parking lot, and then up the hill to the school. I looked for a way out. There was none.

And, yes, there were teachers opening car doors for parents to expedite the process of getting the kids out of the cars. But I had no child. So when my turn came, I rolled down the window and smiled stating "I took a wrong turn and now I am here." The teacher came me a bit of a concerned smile, and I felt quite uncomfortable, as if I was now going to be flagged as some sort of creepy dude cruising the elementary school.

As I neared the main intersection again, I managed to take yet another bad turn that took me not in the direction that I had sought. It did lead me back to a major road and avoided the siren's song of the back road.

I guess the old adage rings true that "Short cuts make for long delays."

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dealing with the Collapse

A close friend of mine has had a very rough year. First and foremost, she lost her husband in April. That has been quite a change for her and her two young children. Devastating.

Added to that is that the company for which she worked fell into fiscal ruin last year. In a very public way. In the papers. The kind of way that might give future employers reason to pause when they see your name on your resume.

It is the 1-anniversary of the wave the crashed into the company's fortunes and broken them apart. My friend and her co-workers, senior managers with the firm, are still dealing with the fallout. Reporters still call. lawsuits are still a threat. Stock options are worthless. Employment can be hard to come by.

I was once out of work for about 6 months. It was my own choosing, in a way. I left at a position with which I was miserable but didn't have another job in hand. It was a slog to find meaningful employment. It was difficult to stay motivated after a while. I can only imagine how much harder it must be when one day you have a job - a career - and the next you have nothing, and you are being accused of all manner of sins.And then in a few short months, you lose your spouse.

And now, she is dealing with the anniversary of the collapse of the business, more news reports, more calls from reporters, more meetings with attorneys. Add to this the advent of the holiday season with the kids. At least she has moved back to her hometown, where she has the benefit of her family and longtime friends.

Hang in there, C. I cannot say it will get any easier any time soon, but let's hope that it does.

Friday, October 26, 2012


This holiday, beloved of children and many adults, will soon be upon us. Little One has decided on separate costumes, one for a party at the ice rink and a second for general trick or treating.

The first costume is an inside joke for folks at the rink - she plans to dress like the skate school director. It really just involves wearing guys black skates, black pants, a jacket and carrying around a clipboard and a travel mug of coffee.

The second costume is more commercial. She plans to mimic the attire of the protagonist of "The Hunger Games", Katniss. We have purchased a jacket and a mockingjay pin. We may still acquire some boots and also some cargo pants, both of which could be incorporated into her wardrobe, even if they might be worn infrequently.

Little One and I had plans to attend a party in a town not too far away. A lady of my acquaintance is hosting the event. As I spent some time getting to know her I began to realize that she is bat shit crazy. I am getting better at detecting the signs.

Having reined in our plans a bit, it should still be a pleasant holiday, with too much unhealthy candy and assorted junk and fun with carving gourds.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Preparing to Drop the NQ from the EW!

So, I went to court this week for the big D. It had all the makings of an ugly, drawn out fight, with lots of mud slinging and hearsay.

As it happens, though, I was able to the settle with the NQ-EW (note the hyphen). I think I made a good deal, and Little One and are poised for bright futures, I think.

Thanks to all who have supported me through this terribly long process.

Monday, September 3, 2012

It's Official - Fall is (almost) Here

There are several seasonal points that I can use to make my argument:
1) Little One has returned to school.
2) Football dominates the idiot box and the water cooler talk, and all of the yahoos at Wal-mart are wearing their team colors, even though many have never matriculated at the university they support.
3) Little One has brought home a slew of new germs and viruses that are having a hey-day with our innards.

Let me focus on #3 for now. I have a fall (later summer) cold. It is annoying. I have been congested, tired and achy. It would be one thing if my minor illness and lack of energy only impacted me, but it doesn't. Little One, who has been under the weather to a lesser degree, has been bored over this holiday weekend. I haven't had the energy to keep her entertained, even to the normal level of activity that we have.

The state fair is in town and Little One wants to attend. We had thought that the NQEW would take her next weekend, but we have learned that plan will not come into action. Little One really wanted to go yesterday, but I lacked the will and the energy to go. Today, will I still don't have the will, I might have the energy. I am grateful that it is raining and my resolve will not be tested.

Our state fair is not a "great state fair" famed in song and story. It is more a collection of carnival rides and vendors of unhealthy foods gathered together in the parking lot of an outdoor music venue. I have been to state fairs in places where there are animals on display, contests for baked goods and such, and big name musical acts.

From the web site, it appears that one day there will be sheep at the state fair, but I think that these critters may be there to keep the lustful urges of the carnies sated. There are 3 musical acts scheduled, but we don't even rate big name has beens or almost weres. These are some no name folks. Well, hopefully they are being paid in cash and not in game tickets and ride passes.

There is also a safety concern with the transportable rides. My state is one of roughly a dozen in the US with no regulations of amusement rides and no safety inspection staff. That is probably just as well, as our state government has a long and colorful history of bribery and corrupt public officials so at least we don't sleep under the blanket of a false sense of security.
This looks exciting!

And now, I have hauled myself and LO into the office. We needed to get out of the house for a bit and I am a sucker for bad office coffee and hanging out with temp workers with H1B visas who don't celebrate US holiday.LO has thus far drawn pictures on copy paper, made a long chain of paper clips, eaten a snack, fetched me some coffee, and has now withdrawn to a conference room to play with markers and a white board.

Enough for now....enjoy your holiday.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Preparing for Labor Day

I am reminded on an old BC comic by Johnny Hart on the subject of this holiday:
Labor Day, Labor Day, what a dumb day.
You hire some jerk, then send him away
To celebrate work by playing all day.

Little One and I haven't made any plans, yet. We are trying to finish getting settled into the new place. We need to purchase some new dishes. We had our old plates for 3 years, and they had taken a beating. We have thus far been using the fine china (and are both growing weary of the hand washing) and paper plates. 

So we will be doing some shopping. Little One needs a few more outfits for school, and as the saying goes, "Daddy needs a new pair of shoes." A trip to the library is also in order, and there is always ice skating.

i hope you enjoy the holiday weekend.

Monday, July 9, 2012

They call it a dry "heat"

My mother called that "roasting." The thermometer in the rental car displayed 115 as it greeted me at 1647 as I left one meeting and headed to another. The official temperature in PHX may not have been that same number, but I am pretty sure it was close. It was hot. As I gingerly held the steering wheel, I chastised myself for not remembering to cover it with a hand towel from the hotel. Rush hour traffic wasn't too bad, I was early and my drive was only a few miles. I logged back into the network as my coworkers drifted out of the office and headed home. I had to review a few documents, look at some customer account information (which I prefer not to do from the hotel, even with VPN security), and send some emails. Now, I am sitting at the bar of the hotel restaurant, sipping a glass of the McCallan and waiting on my tuna steak to be kissed by the grill and brought to me. There are some benefits to business travel.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Yeah, working late!

Banker's hours. That's what people often speak of when referencing cushy white collar work. I am sure that this is true for some bankers. For me, though, it is 0134 Sunday morning, And I am at work, babysitting systems and waiting for the mainframe to come back online so validations of converted data can continue.

I am also hopping a flight for a business trip to the desert Southwest in a few hours. Wheels up time is slated for 0625. I should be at the hotel by 1200 local time, and then I will log back into the computer and get back to work. And it will be hot. I know that a good part of the US of A is sweltering this summer, but I am not looking forward to being there, especially when the rest of the county may be getting a respite from the heat.

I should be home in ten days or so, "Lord willing and the creek don't rise." Until then, I hope you are finding ways to enjoy your summer.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Another 4th of July

Another 4th of July has come and past. I went to see Mom O' Jud who lives about 90 miles away. Little One was with me, and away we went.

A lot of the extended Hoosier family was in town. Apparently some 3rd or 4th cousin who has been in college here in town where I live is getting married. I wasn't aware she was studying here, and I wouldn't have known her if she served me coffee at the Waffle Hut.

It was nice to see them, though, in a surreal way. While they are family, often they seem like acquaintances, some even like strangers. But we chatted, ate, and generally let the time slip by as we watched the next generation play on the floor.

I excused myself in the early evening and headed home. I made it back just before the local fireworks were to start and the gawkers were jamming up traffic as I tried to make my way back to Casa del Jud. When I arrived home, I settled in with the iPad and looked up sailboats on the web. Not a bad way to spend a mid-week off day I suppose.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I had been on the road for about ten days and made it home yesterday. Most of the plants faired poorly, as it had been hot and relatively dry in the Deep South. The jasmine seemed to fair well, and some of the herbs may bounce back, but the flowers Little One planted are quite brown and withered. The domicile was a bit untidy when I left, and since my return I have had little will to spring into action and to get everything ship shape. I need to find the energy. Little One and I are moving across town on the 25th of this month, and we need to pack. But not just pack, but to evaluate the flotsam and jetsam of our life and hopefully cull any number of never or seldom used items and sell or donate them. But tonight I am tired. The work project that has consumed my professional life these last three years is finally in pilot. We have to convert the rest of the enterprise in three successive ways, in July, August and September. For me it will get busier before it gets calmer. For me this means another summer without much of a holiday. Little one will spend a lot of time with Mom o' Jud, and has been there for the past two weeks. It will be another week before Little One comes home, and then she is headed to the ex-laws for some time with them. I am excited that she is staying busy and enjoying her time out of school connecting with family. My personality is such that with prodding of a job or significant other to prod me into social interaction I am largely content to isolate myself from society most of the time. I fear I am rambling. Time to seek some rest.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


So I took the plunge Saturday. I opened up my wallet and purchased the least expensive new iPad I could find, a 16 GB, Wifi only, iPad 2.

I love the dang thing. I don't think it is perfect by any means, and there are a number of things I don't like about it. But for now I am really enjoying it and some of the apps, like iTunes U and the free courses I have downloaded and been enjoying.

I need to play with it now, because I know that when I am done with this road trip and home again with Little One that I will rarely see the device when she is awake.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Home and Garden TV. Not a channel I watch too often, especially since I became an apartment dweller. While on this roadtrip, though, I have had occasion to watch a few shows over the past few days. One that caught my eye showed couples who were looking to purchase or rent homes in some exotic locales - Maui, Nicaragua, the Bahamas and Key West. The budgets some of these folks seemed rather large, especially for some of the younger couples. One couple who looked to be in their late 20s had a monthly housing budget of  $3,600.

I must say I was impressed. I know that there are many people in the world that have more money than I do, but I suppose I am also always interested in learning how people make their money and became/are becoming/continue to be successful. It was one thing I really enjoyed about my time as a commercial loan officer, learning about different businesses and their models for success.

So I will live vicariously through these folks as they decide between these lovely seaside homes, with spacious floor plans and refreshing ocean breezes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I must admit that I don't know a lot about investing. I have always felt that with my luck, if i bought shares of a pumpkin farm that Halloween would be cancelled.

I don't have a lot of money saved, sadly. Life with the NQEW meant that I cashed in everything years ago to try and pay the creditors. I have been diligently squirreling money away in the last three years, and feel confident that I will meet my retirement goals.

My 401k and retirement plans are "safely" entrusted to a variety of mutual funds, with risk and rewards spread across the market. But I don't feel terribly connected to the market without some single entity stocks to track progress on a regular basis.

So I have been purchasing some stocks every couple of weeks to feel more connected to the financial markets. I have been looking for cheaper stocks (generally) in companies that I somewhat familiar. Some of these are European bank stocks. They are probably very risky in the short to medium run given the turmoil in the EU, but I think that in the long run that they are undervalued. And you can pick up a share for @ $6 or so. 

Please note that I am not a financial advisor, not licensed, and am not offering any financial advice. If anything, my life has been lived more of as an object lesson for folks of how not to live their lives. You have been warmed.

So I have purchased shares in some Spanish banks - BBVA, Santander, and some other players, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale. I bought some Ford stock, some Siemens, and, at the request of Little One, some Disney (one of the more expensive stocks in my portfolio). I am thinking about adding some Italian bank stocks as well. 

I only have small dollars at play, but over time I continue to put whatever extra dollars I have into the market while we are in a down period in the hopes that the markets will recover and ultimately I may make a modest return. Currently I am down a fair bit overall in these stocks. Again, don't do what I do.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Watching Cars go By

I am sitting at a desk on the 29th floor of a commercial building in downtown Denver at near noon on Memorial  Day, a bank and business holiday. From my window, I can see the interstate (which I don't know) and other fairly major thoroughfares. Traffic is brisk. Not rush hour level, but it seems to be fairly heavy.

It may be cliche to wonder where all of these folks are headed - to BBQs, memorial services, shopping, or perhaps to see the Rockies play some baseball (I think there is a doubleheader today) - but wonder I do.

I am trying to get caught up on work that is behind schedule and also get ahead on some other work. I chose not to rent a car this business trip, since I was able to find a hotel a block away from my work site. Denver has a good public transportation system and there are many things to see and do within walking distance of the hotel.

I must get back to work now, as the cars whiz by, and, oh, now we have a small plane pulling a banner past downtown, I suppose largely to attract the attention of those at the ball park.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bob's Burgers

I just came across this animated show on Hulu. Apparently it is broadcast on Fox. I have it playing on a second PC monitor as I work and surf the net on this Sunday afternoon. Bob and his family own a burger shop. There was a line in the episode "Food Trucks", espoused by Bob's son that made me chuckle "It's not a lie if you lie to a vegetarian. Dad taught us that."

Today's Travels

I woke early after little sleep and drove to the airport. I had hoped that by taking an early morning flight I would avoid some of the crush of holiday travel - my hopes were dashed. The apart was awash with bleary eyed travelers.

Of late I have become a bit of a travel snob in that I have little patience for those who don't know how to travel. Those that slow down the line at security, that have luggage that will never be carry-on but try anyway, and those that think they will starve on a hour flight unless they have a picnic lunch. I tried to smile and stay calm, and I did. I was thinking that this commuter flight from my mid-sized city to Atlanta would be a smaller craft, one with a single seat on the left and two seats on the right, and about 25 rows deep. I was surprised that it was a larger jet, with a small first class section. The Fates were kind to me and I made the upgrade list on the full flight.

Soon after the cabin door closed, we were notified that it would another 45 minutes before we went "wheels up". This was problematic because I had a tight layover in Atlanta, and it seems that I never fly into the terminal where I will meet my connection. Weather was with us, though, and we had a decent tail wind and made it into Atlanta on time. I caught the tram and made my way to the correct terminal and joined my fellow flyers boarding the plane.

Denver's airport was bustling, and after a brief rest stop I made my way to collect my luggage and hit the cab stand. The first cab in line was "Freedom Cab", a mini-van painted white and lilac. Lovely. The driver was quiet and full of smiles, but no conversation. I listened to the mutterings of the dispatcher over the CB radio as we drove in from the airport to downtown. It was a cross between an episode of "taxi" and the class lecture from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" as the dispatcher sought to pair callers with cabs.

This dispatcher had a somewhat thick accent, whether from an African nation or somewhere in the Middle East, I don't know. He sought drivers to pick up a blond lady at the corner of Colorado and some cross street. The one that struck me as comical was a fare waiting outside the mosque. "When you get there, ask for Mohammed." I almost laughed aloud.

After checking into the hotel, I headed out for a later afternoon walk. At one point as I was heading back to Champa the wind really kicked up, and my Leinenkugel's baseball cap went flying off my head and into traffic. I turned for a moment, and almost chased it, but then recalled the line from Miller's Crossing, "there's nothing more foolish than a man chasing his hat."

So I let it go. I am almost hoping that over the next two weeks that I am in town that I see a homeless person putting the cap to good use.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Another weekend passed...

This weekend seems to have been long. Not too long, but long. Little One had a fever for 4 days last week and then went to the NQ ex-laws for the weekend. I caught her bug late in the week. My fever broke late Friday, but I have still been woefully lethargic and under the weather.

And as I await the dawn and the beginning of another new week, I still don't feel well. But to work I will go. Pupps 2.0 has kept me company this weekend. She sleeps near my right knee, slightly annoyed that I have slept restlessly and caused her to change locations in bed multiple times.

Time for some more juice.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Nashville on a Rainy Day

I needed to get out of town to ponder a personal issue. Little One and Pupps 2.0 were with the Mom o' Jud, so I headed north to Nashville.

I rented a budget motel suite (using mostly points from business travel) and settled in to do some reading and studying. I had a nice lunch at the Wild Cow, a vegetarian restaurant in a fun little part of town. My server was very pregnant, but polite. I enjoyed a little spot of pinto beans, some grilled vegetables with a ginger miso sauce, and some fruit.

Dinner was a quite affair at the room. The heat only worked in the bedroom part, and not the office side. The front desk said that they couldn't fix it, but could move me. I was too tired to pack up and trudge to another room, so I bundled up and stayed put. It wasn't that cold, but it was cool.

When it came time to retire for the evening, the bed was very cozy, soft and warm, and the pillows were fluffy and not the stiff cheapos I had expected from this value hotel.

The morning broke gray, cold and drizzly. My thoughts of a morning walking in parks and along the river in the cool sunny air were dashed. I ate a muffin from the hotel breakfast while I read the morning news and checked email. I made plans to meet a friend near a restaurant by the Vanderbilt Medical School, the Pancake Pantry, a local favorite for the last half century.

The parking was horrid, and the line for the restaurant wrapped around the building. Neither of us had thought to bring an umbrella, nor had we any desire to stand in the drizzle when a coffee shop, Provence Breads & Cafe,  beckoned from across the street.

We dashed across the busy street, trying to run between the raindrops. As we opened the door, we were greeted by the smell of freshly baked breads and pastries and the unmistakable sounds of lively coffee-shop conversations. It was like being welcomed home. I ordered a breakfast panini, which was two slices of sourdough bread with scrambled eggs, local bacon, local organic tomatoes and a local chevre. My companion ordered a ham/bean cassoulet. We also ordered a warm bread basket and coffee.

Our brunch came swiftly, and we enjoyed it at a leisurely pace as we enjoyed the buzz and liveliness of the cafe. Soon our meal was over, and we parted. I purchased a few rounds of bread to enjoy later in the week.

I headed up the street to visit a local bookstore, but my time was running short. I did visit centennial park and the Parthenon, but I must come pack on a sunny day in the spring or summer to enjoy the town more fully.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Look across the Pond

I have been dreaming of late about taking a holiday to the British Isles. I have dreamt of such a trip at various times throughout my life, but rarely have I felt like I was in a position to act upon my desires. This year may just be the year for Jud to make the trek.

Unfortunately for my plans, but thankfully for the economy of the UK, the summer Olympics will be in London. I would think that this might have a ripple effect, as people coming from the games may venture out into the countryside and then the local inhabitants may leave the city to avoid the larger than normal crowds.

For many years I read and studied Roman Britain, "from Vectis to the Wall" if you will pardon me for borrowing a line from Kipling. I read Caesar's accounts, struggled with Tacitus and the minor historians, and then devoured the writings of Peter Salway, Theodor Mommsen, Rostovetzeff and Syme (thank you Professor Gerberding for pushing me all those years!). I know that one could spend lifetimes wandering across the UK and seeing the ruins, studying and not seeing it all.

So I asked an internet friend, the wonderful Welsh author Clare Dudman, for some suggestions about touring Wales, and she provided copious suggestions for me to ponder. I think that if I can manage the time away from work, and the funds are sufficient, that I will visit Wales in the fall.

There are the Roman ruins at Usk and Caerleon to visit, and then a trip to Cardiff is surely in order. I hope to find a small cottage to rent, or perhaps a converted barn or mill, something small, in a village not too far from the sites I want to see. I want to roam the hills, smell the air, and walk in a land that for too many years I have only read about it books and seen in pictures.

Well, I will close for now. I will spent some time tonight in John Davies' A History of Wales and then dive back into Tacitus (a translation for now - sorry, Professor Gerberding).