Travel Questions from Sunday Stealing

It’s ALWAYS been the train

travelogueThis version of Sunday Stealing, Travel Questions starts with a couple of bits that we answered LAST week. But it evolves from there.

To which countries have you been?

USA (where I live), Canada, Mexico, and Barbados.

Which countries would you love to visit one day?

Many. France and Ireland may be at the top of the list.

Have been on a trip this year, or have one planned for later?

Most of our trips are of short distances and brief duration. Some of this is based on a resurgence of COVID but also wanting to see local venues within an hour or two.

What kinds of transport do you prefer to travel by? (train, car, plane…)

It’s the train. It’s ALWAYS been the train. The last time I took a plane was to see my sister Leslie in San Diego in 2018. She was 2832 miles away. And as I had previously surmised, it was a flying bus, only worse, especially the Newark to San Diego segment. Middle seat, no legroom.

Do you get yourself a souvenir to take home? If yes, what do you like to buy?

WAY back in the 1900s, my late mother collected porcelain bells. I’d buy one for her. Then she quit collecting them and decided to eliminate her collection as dust gatherers. Thanks a lot, mom, for screwing up my gift-giving opportunity.

For myself, I liked to buy shot glasses. I still have a few, including some that folks have brought me when THEY went on trips.


Do you like to try local food? Can you recommend anything or advise not to try something?

When I was recently in my hometown of Binghamton, NY, my MIL and I talked with a young woman from the Midwest. I recommended the spiedies from Lupo’s or other local establishments. Conversely, I railed at what passed for spiedies at the 2019 New York State Fair in Syracuse. It tasted like boiled (not grilled) unmarinated chicken.

I was in Montreal in 1991 and 1992. I tried poutine but never warmed up to it.

Do you book your travel online or classical in a travel agency?

I used to use a travel agent, but haven’t in a very long time.

Name three things you can not go anywhere without and have in your suitcase.

Dental floss, cough drops, and clean underwear.

Tell about a funny travel experience you had.

I took a train to NYC and saw a guy I’ve known since kindergarten. Oh, here’s a train story.

Tell about a bad travel experience you had.

When my wife and I flew from Barbados to JFK in NYC, we had to go through customs. The queue was in a figure-eight, and our part of the line didn’t progress for a long time.

What accommodation do you usually stay in when you go on trips?

Motel or with friends or family.

All By Myself

Have you ever traveled alone by yourself? Did you like it? If not, would you want to try it?

Before we were married, my then ex-girlfriend seemed to think I couldn’t or wouldn’t travel alone. That was absurd, as I said at the time. I traveled by myself many times before I ever knew her.

Still, in 1998, I took a train from Albany to Detroit to Cleveland to Albany, which I described here.

What is the first thing you do when you arrive at your destination?

If I’m staying more than one night, I hang up my clothes. But I’ll live out of the suitcase if it’s just one night.

What kinds of activities do you like to do when you are traveling?

Museums, baseball stadiums, and non-chain restaurants.

How do you like to spend your vacation? (on a cruise, backpacking, etc)

Mostly in cities, so tour buses or riding around on local transit. I’ve never been on a cruise.

Do you like to travel in your own country? If yes, can you recommend a place?

I LOVE to go to Washington, DC. Beyond that, I like a place with good local transit. San Diego used to be a drive-only place, but the light rail system is tremendous. I know people hate the NYC subway system, but I find it very useful, WAY better than driving in the city.

April rambling #3: 100 days (seems longer)

The niece’s new album: Planet Cole Porter. This is a collection of songs sung by Rebecca Jade with Peter Sprague’s amazing arrangements.

Deliver us from Scripture-citers

Pastorized for your protection

What’s Our Story? How do we defend Western values if we no longer believe the story that used to justify them?

‘They Starve You. They Shock You’: Inside the Anti-Gay Pogrom in Chechnya

Racism, Hot and Cold

Women Don’t Need to Apologize Less — Men Need to Learn How to Apologize

Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Catcalling Someone

Why Traveling is More Important Now than Ever

Gisele Lagace, Canadian comic book artist, refused entrance at the US border

Rapp On This: Raging scum (bull v girl)

For 18 years, I thought she was stealing my identity – Until I found her

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has Fairbanks Disease, which causes stunted bone growth. He’s 4’11”. So he was bullied mercilessly in school until somebody stood up for him. An older kid who he didn’t even know began to beat the crap out of anybody who bothered him. It was the foundational experience of his life.
The older kid was Mickey Schwerner. A few years later, Schwerner joined Andrew Goodman and James Chaney and went door-to-door in Mississippi, trying to register Black voters. You know what happened.

This Lawsuit Goes to 11

Harry Potter and The Problem With The Pensieve Memories

Now I Know: The Rise and Fall of the Flivverboobs and An Astronaut’s Most Important Fan and The Time Travel Trap

Weed can play a significant role in your romantic relationships

The 8 Personalities You’ll Meet When Dating in the U.S.

Space Sex is Serious Business

The picture on the top of the page is of actress Gloria DeHaven. Yet it shows up often on the Internet as being a young Frances Bavier, the woman who would eventually play Aunt Bee on the Andy Griffith Show in the 1960s.

Illustrated Guide To Playing Sports As An Adult!

Five Questions for Rick Geary by Alan David Doane

I did not realize this until recently, but I think I’m becoming a devotee of the British way of punctuation. “British usage omits the apostrophe in the plural form of dates (e.g., 1980s)”. Also, “British style (more sensibly) places unquoted periods and commas outside the quotation marks.”

100 days

New York Times: White House Reporters Recall Their Most Vivid Moments

Fourteen per cent of US Christians left their churches after the election

Here Are The National Monuments At Risk

Massive Corporate Tax Cut Literally Cannot Pass Congress

Seth Meyers: ‘For every action, there’s an equal and opposite clip’

Anti-immigrant hotline bombarded with reports of space aliens

‘I thought it would be easier’

Ivanka & Jared: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver


UNABASHED PLUG for the niece’s new album: Planet Cole Porter. This is a collection sung by Rebecca Jade, with Peter Sprague’s amazing arrangements.

Cuba Gooding, Sr., RIP

Pentatonix’s Acapella Spin of Queen’s All-Time Classic

Simon, Garfunkel, Sound of Silence, live

Kermit sings Once In a Lifetime (featuring The Electric Mayhem)

Flapper pie

K-Chuck Radio: The Arthur Baker Groove System and Saturday morning rock and roll!

Not me: Dinner with Roger Green (Formerly of The Czars), Sun, May 28, 2017, 6:00 pm (event ends at 10:00 pm) in Denver
No Cover!

Dinosaurs, candy, kissing, travel

It was this red shoestring licorice we bought about two blocks from the school

T-Rex-The-SliderGot a bunch of questions, great questions. Gracias. I’ve been thinking about them, some of them A LOT, but some are going to require longer answers than others, and I’ll have more time in the next week or two (I hope).

In the meanwhilst, here’s a few from New York Erratic:

Were you ever into fossils or dinosaurs? What is your favorite dinosaur?

Not in any kind of systematic way. I mean they were collectively cool, but I didn’t study them very thoroughly. I got frustrated that several of the ones I knew as a child have totally different names, and theories as to their origins are different. Some are now birds that were thought to have been reptiles, etc. Rather like the planets of our solar system, where I once knew how many moons each planet had, but no longer. I’ll pick T-Rex; always liked Bang A Gong [LISTEN].

Have you ever had your IQ tested? When? What was your IQ?

Yeah, at least a couple of times, but they never told us. Once in fifth or sixth grade, some of my classmates discovered our scores but no names were attached. Someone was in the 140s, and we all figured it was friend Carol (not my wife Carol). There were three or four in the 130s, which we surmised were friends Karen, Bill, and me. But we really had no idea.

Did you ice skate as a kid?

I don’t believe so. I have no recollection of it. And not as an adult except once, and it involved wooing Carol (my now-wife).

How do you memorize skits for plays? (This one is fairly urgent… 😛 )

Repetition, optimally with another person, or persons, reading the other parts. But I HATE doing long speeches, soliloquies because I have a hard time memorizing them. Unless they’re poetic, and I can make a song out of them.
SamuraiFrog wants to know:

At what age did you feel like you became an adult?

62. (Not entirely false.)

I suppose it was when I bought a house, and I was 47. Not sure I like this growing-up stuff.
Jaquandor, who is in the midst of answering MY questions to him, wants to know:

You’re given enough money for a road trip someplace in the US…not enough to fly anywhere in the world, but enough that you can pay for gas, food, and lodging someplace in this country. Where do you go?

I’d do a bunch of baseball parks by train. But if we’re talking a single location, I’ll pick Juneau, Alaska, because it’s the farthest state capital one can get to by land. If I’m limited to the continental US, then Seattle, WA, or Portland, OR, because I’ve never been to either of them, and they are in states as far from me as possible.

Tom the Mayor, my FantaCo colleague, asked:

What was the first comic you remember reading? And the first book?

The first comic I have no idea. It may have been Archie, or Richie Rich, or some other Harvey Comic. The first superhero comic was almost certainly DC, Legion, or maybe Justice League.

I had these Golden Books, but I don’t quite remember them individually. I also had the Golden Book Encyclopedias, and those I remember reading voraciously.

What was the first movie your parents took you to?

Not sure. Can’t remember seeing any movies with my father except for the drive-in. Maybe it was the 1960’s version of State Fair; or did I go without my mother? 101 Dalmatians? Early on, it was West Side Story.

What was your favorite candy as a kid?

It was this red shoestring licorice we bought about two blocks from the school, right across the street from friend Bill’s house.

Do you Kiss your wife and daughter in public? Did your parents kiss you in public?

Yes, and The Daughter still lets me! Not that I can recall, and I don’t know if they kissed my sisters either.
You can still Ask Roger Anything.

It’s a big world, after all

I got to go to eight states directly as a result of work. But I also missed out on the farthest state away for the same reason.

Arthur@AmeriNZ said: Okay, I haven’t participated in awhile, so: If you could pick one thing to do that you haven’t yet done in your life, what would it be and why? It could be a single event (bungy jumping in Skippers Canyon), or it could be a project or process. I’m interested in what you haven’t done that you’d like to do/wish you could do.


Next question.

OK, maybe I should expand on this.

Here’s a map I made in 2008, right after I visited Illinois, and your former city of Chicago, for the first time. It showed that I had visited 30 of the 50 states. Now, four years later, I have visited 30 of the 50 states. My desire is to visit all 50, and I’ve made zero progress.

Related: my wife made my daughter a promise that she would visit all 50 states by the time she’s 18; she’s almost nine and she’s only been to 11, all between Vermont and North Carolina.

Now that the house is paid off, we need to save money to go west and see the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park. My wife has seen Mount Rushmore, but she’d go to South Dakota and see it again with The Daughter and me.

Also related: as I explained to Scott: “I want to go to every Major League Baseball park in the same year.” I might end up breaking it up in chunks, but my thought then was to fly to Seattle (check off Washington), take the train south (stop somewhere in Oregon – check) to the 5 California teams, then to Arizona (check), Colorado, Texas, Florida, Georgia, followed by the Midwest, starting with Missouri (check), through Iowa (check), catching Minnesota (my father-in-law’s favorite team – check) and ending in the east.

I noted that I got to go to eight states directly as a result of work. But I also missed out on the farthest state away for the same reason.

Back when Carol, then my girlfriend, was working in the insurance industry, she studied to get a series of designations. She completed her coursework and was rewarded with a trip for two to Hawaii! Who wouldn’t want to go to paradise with his Significant Other?

Unfortunately, that trip coincided with a trip to New Orleans of the Association of Small Business Development Centers. As the person who was the liaison to the other SBDC programs in the country for our library, I should have been going on that trip. But my new boss said no, that she and her chosen favorite – she was very much like that – would be going, and that we could not afford to have more than two of the six or seven librarians out of the office at the same time for three or four days.

Carol wanted me to ask if she’d let me go to Hawaii with her. My thought process was if my boss said no to New Orleans because that would leave us short-staffed, then she’d say no to Hawaii for the same reason, and that I’d lose ANY chance of going to New Orleans as well. Despite my attempts to explain, I don’t think Carol truly understood my office dynamics at the time.

As it turned out, Carol went to Hawaii with my parents, and I ended up going to New Orleans, not because of the reasons I suggested, but because the two women who were going would be hauling a lot of heavy equipment with them, and they needed someone to help schlep it.

Another place I regretted not going to was Puerto Rico. My sister, her husband at the time, and her daughter lived there for six or seven years. I should have invited myself down.

Beyond the US, I’ve been to two Canadian provinces, albeit the most populated ones, Mexico, and Barbados. That’s it! I’d love to go to Paris, Rome, London, and Tokyo. Now that it’s not at war, I’d be interested in visiting Liberia, which was populated by ex-slaves from the US.

Conversely, in the past decade, my friend Karen has been to India, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Turkey, and is currently in Burma.

Arthur, you said on a recent podcast, and I’m paraphrasing here: “In 1994, if you told me I’d be moving halfway around the world a couple of years later, I would have told you that you were crazy.” Yet you packed up and moved to New Zealand, eventually getting married and doing that dual citizenship thing. I still find that remarkable.

E is for Esso

Esso stations, unusual in franchising to African Americans, were a popular place to pick up a Green Book.


When I was growing up, as often as not, we got our gas from the Esso station. Esso (“S-O”) “is derived from the initials of the pre-1911 Standard Oil.” I didn’t remember this, but I read that it became the focus of so “much litigation and regulatory restriction in the United States [that in] 1972, it was largely replaced in the U.S. by the Exxon brand… while Esso remained widely used elsewhere.” Ironic, since the Exxon brand name has been forever tainted by the Exxon Valdez oil spill, not to mention purposefully manufacturing uncertainty on climate change.

Whereas Esso had quite a positive image, at least with many people of my father’s generation. For there was a time in the United States when many African-American travelers were uncertain where “they could comfortably eat, sleep, buy gas, find a tailor or beauty parlor…or go out at night…without [experiencing] humiliation or violence where discrimination continued to hold strong. These were facts of life not only in the Jim Crow South but in all parts of the country, where black travelers never knew where they would be welcome.”

In 1936, a “Harlem postal employee and civic leader named Victor H. Green” [no relation] developed “The Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Travel Guide …abbreviated, simply, as the ‘Green Book.’ Those who needed to know about it knew about it. To much of the rest of America, it was invisible, and by 1964 [when the Civil Rights Act was passed], when the last edition was published, it slipped through the cracks into history…

“The 15,000 copies Green eventually printed each year were sold as a marketing tool not just to black-owned businesses but to the white marketplace, implying that it made good economic sense to take advantage of the growing affluence and mobility of African Americans. Esso stations, unusual in franchising to African Americans, were a popular place to pick one up.”

So I have a soft spot in my heart for Esso; not so much for its successor, ExxonMobil.

Classic commercials, likely from the 1950s:
Esso extra commercial
Esso Happy Motoring commercial ….Aye Right!! – targeting the UK

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

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