Let’s skate!

I know this will be warmly received by many of you.
I have decided to change my name, eliminating the decidedly lackluster “John”. As in William “John” Wirth.
Indulging my love of French and skating, I will henceforth be known as William “Patinons” Wirth – as in William “Let’s Skate” Wirth.
I know each of you will be impressed by the daring, the audacity, of this move, coming so late in my life!

Just so you know, I labored long on this idea and considered several options:
A close runner up was Spanish as in – William “¡Patine!” Wirth.
A bit ostentatious was the German – William “Lassen Sie uns skaten! ” Wirth
And out of the question was the Japanese William “スケートしよう!” Wirth

*Thanking you for your concern, indeed the quote marks would be eliminated in all cases!

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Busy day. . .

Travel has been a major part of my life. Business travel in particular. Of course, business travel has its downside, one has to work. But “expenses paid” salves some aspects, so all was even.
There are many trips I remember but one popped into my head as I was walking this morning. It happened like this. . .
One Sunday afternoon, I and another guy (who? who knows? my memory isn’t that good) left Denver and flew to Washington Dulles airport. We spent the night there and early Monday morning, we flew to Allentown PA and met with a customer.
That meeting ended successfully, propelling us back to the airport and on to Pittsburgh.
In Pittsburgh (nice city) we met for a couple of hours with a prospective customer.
Then off to the airport and back to Denver.
So we had been on four aircraft, been to three cities, saw two customers and it was only Monday.

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German class

As some know, I am a student of languages. Why I came to be so is the subject of another post.
But, I occasionally take classes. Many years ago, I was involved in a class in intermediate German, taught by a sprightly blond woman.
We were focused on a difficult section, something like “Irregular verbs in the Dative Case.” We struggled, stammered, the teacher reaching for ways to explain the subject.
Then a fellow student’s hand shot up, his voice near a wail, “Why do the Germans say it that way?” A tremor of agreeing heads underscored his plight.
“Because they do,” smiled the teacher’s voice, calming the crowd, and we moved on.

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The long path

The snow crunched as I walked through the park this morning. It was snowing, blowing but not unpleasant. I was on one of my usual paths, paths long since defined for ease of walking and for mileage. There are 5 or 6 of them, varying  from 2 miles to 4 miles. I even have one that goes by the grocery store so I can get something for lunch.

But mostly they offer freedom from decision. I can walk them all blindfolded. Usually, when walking, I study something: listen to a language course, review a favorite trip to some exotic land or perhaps review key points of something I have heard. There was a time when I would go over plans for a project at work, but those days have passed.

But this morning I crunched along, mind blank. I was the first on the path this morning, it is a holiday. No other footprints, no dog tracks, not even squirrel tracks. I turned and could see my tracks following me.

I reached the end of the path, this walk is exactly a mile from the house, turned and followed my own tracks back. My mind went blank again – sometimes it is nice to be able to – go blank. Still in the park, I was nearing the end of the walk when I noticed the smooth surface of the snow, tracks that I made on the outward trek had disappeared. The snow and the wind had filled them in.

What an interesting metaphor for life! At the beginning, one is excited, energetic, full of ambition, plans – the future beckons. One makes tracks on the outbound journey: school, marriage, children, work, travel, you name it – it all leaves tracks in the snow. But, sooner or later, the time comes when the tracks fill in and one ceases to exist.

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Dog job

The best job for a dog is that of a sled dog. A sled dog runs, pulls and barks all day long and still gets paid.

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J’aime l’hiver!

J’aime l’hiver!

Ich liebe Winter

Me encanta el invierno


Anyway I say it – it comes out the same – I love winter.

Now I have been around long enough to know, that outside of snowmobilers, ice fishermen, snowboarders and other curious forms of overachievers, loving winter is distinctly unpopular. Yet I confess – I can’t help myself.

Let me begin by saying – I like change. Change in this context can be stated simply: “I get tired of winter, but I get tired of summer also.” Living in Colorado narrows the options since we only have two seasons: a long, dry, hot summer and a shorter but enthusiastic winter.

I follow by stating Colorado economics. It never rains here. So our summer water for yards, trees, crops, drinking, comes from deep snow drifts in the high mountains. And of course, Colorado is well known for its superior skiing industry – headlined by posh resorts like Aspen and Vail and backed up by a hundred slopes more. Lots of economic benefit flows from these snowy, white paradises and, while I don’t partake, a lot of fun for a lot of people.

“But, this is all interesting but what about your love of winter?” you ask (assuming you’re still awake).

Readily identifiable is my coming to fruition in Montana. Montana is a huge, largely empty land of mountains, lakes, rivers and hardy people. It gets pretty cold there in the winter. I personally have seen it a minus 50°. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the continental US (the lower 48 if you live in Alaska) is minus 69.7° This temperature was recorded about 50 miles from where I grew up and as my father would have said “That’s mighty fresh!”

But does merely living somewhere engender a love of winter? I thought you’d never ask. No – it doesn’t. I have a strong genetic component. My mother’s father, John Carson (né Carlson) was born in Sweden and moved with his family to Minnesota when he was two. My great-grandfather Wirth came from Germany.

But combine need for changing seasons, need for water, profitable business, fun and grandfathers from Sweden and Germany, the picture becomes clear – I was made for winter.

Next – indulging my love for winter.

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A 1000 miles

“New Year’s Resolutions” have never held much interest for me. No, I need problems resolved as much as anyone. It’s just that life has always presented opportunity for improvement without the drama of specific resolve.

That’s why I find myself in a curious position, very late in life, of making a resolution.

Actually it is less resolution and more goal: I am going to walk a 1000 miles this year. Yes, there are three zeroes in the preceding number.

“How are you going to do this Bill?” you ask. Well, at a modest pace, befitting my advanced age, a 1000 miles at 3.5 miles per day.  That means I will walk 3.5 miles/day for 285 days. That means that 78% of the year will see me trudging down the road.

78%? Well that sounds doable, you say. Well, feel free to join me – I would like the company.

Late Breaking:
January 2017 – 122.1 miles

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Traveling/ Places I have visited/lived

US – Lived: Visited all 50 states plus DC
Canada – Multiple
Mexico – Lived

Japan – Lived
Korea 1x
Macau 1x
Hong Kong – Multiple

UK – Multiple
Ireland – 2x
Belgium 1x
Germany – Multiple
France – Multiple
Italy – 4x
Spain – 3x
Switzerland – Multiple
Sweden 1x
Denmark – 4x
Netherlands – Multiple

Austria 3x
Czechoslovakia – 3x
Hungary 1x
Slovenia 1x

Lived: More than 3 months continuous
Multiple: Visited more than 10 times
1x, 2x, etc: number of times visited.

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Loud and slow

The loudest motorcycle is the seldom the fastest.

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“I met a traveler from an antique land. . . “
When I read Shelley’s immortal words years ago, I realized I was, even then, “a traveler.” Perhaps not “from an antique land” but someone who yearns to see what is on the other side of the hill.
And it fit, the description “traveler”, because by the time I heard the word “traveler,” I had traveled many times from the nest in Helena to exotica like Seattle, Canada, even Alaska.

But now  the time has come to further define “traveler.”  As with everything there are flavors. My flavor is “in-between-er.”
I am not opposed to seeing the sites. After all, a trip to London and not seeing Trafalgar Square, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, the National Gallery and a host of others is lunacy. But when on a tour of such sights, walking or on a Hop-On, Hop-Off, I am always interested in what is “in-between” the big sites.

I confess I like seeing how real people live and work in foreign cities.
A road crew patching a street, a police car, the old man ordering in the Fish and Chip shop, matrons streaming into Selfridges,  Euston Underground with suits and briefcases, tweedy book stores with tweedy people, workers on the sidewalk outside the pub sharing their day, small (and large) restaurants not in any guidebook, especially those recommended by a hotel clerk or a cop on the street, and on and on. I love seeing things that real people use every day to prosper, relax and survive.
As many know, I love grocery stores. The unfamiliar labels, delis filled with sausages, meat pies and curious salads, the fresh produce, beer, wine, breads – all have me looking and usually buying.
But the people in the store buying food for supper, a special celebration, a national fete, fascinate me. Harried homemakers; husbands on assignment for a special ingredient – evaluating whether this is what Jane wanted for that special dish; teenage toughs – tattoos and funny hairdos; workers looking a quick lunch; grandma with the grand-kids in tow – all searching, looking for the right food and bargains.
This is real life! This is now real people live. This is life “in-between” the monuments.
So let me out, let me walk, let me enjoy the noise, the smells, the hustle and bustle of a city street in ______________ (fill in the blank)
I’ll see you back at the hotel!

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