Something I Noticed While In The Desert

desert birdie

Cousin Michael has decided to become a birder. He was on-the-lookout for birds as we walked in Red Rock. As I mentioned earlier, we found one.

I wanted to come back to this bird (Click the photo to see a larger view) because he/she&#185 received a generous serving of evolutionary help. In real life she is as well camouflaged as any animal I’ve seen. She looks like the rocks she frequents!

We’re not sure what she is. Michael says Canyon Wren. I say Rock Wren. They’re both native to the Southwest. Neither Michael nor I are qualified to make a definitive call. Our opinions are based on web knowledge.

This shot was taken from fifteen feet. It’s cropped, meaning the bird fills more of the frame than she did when the shutter clicked. I didn’t have a long lens with me.

She was hopping from rock-to-rock, sometimes ducking in the little spaces between two. When she flew, it was low and not very far.

Like so much else on the desert, she favors gray.

&#185 – Wikipedia says “There is no sexual dimorphism in the plumage of wrens, and little difference between young birds and adults.” That means you can’t tell the sexes apart by look alone.

Our Second Day In Las Vegas

Seriously, knowing how Vegas works is invaluable because so much is available if you just ask… and you know who to ask… and you know when to ask.

mirage-view-from-our-window.jpgGood afternoon from Fabulous Las Vegas. Gobblepalooza ’09 continues! We’ve been here a little over 24 hours and have had a great time so far.

Helaine and I have been to Las Vegas many times. We know the city pretty well and we know how the system works.

Seriously, knowing how Vegas works is invaluable because so much is available if you just ask… and you know who to ask… and you know when to ask.

venetian-gondoliers.jpgWe went for dinner with my cousins last night. The restaurant, right across from the gondoliers, was Zeffirino.

Not only was it Thanksgiving, it was Helaine and my 26th wedding anniversary. We tried to keep it low key, but when the two strolling musicians came to the table Cousin Melissa let them know!

Normally Zeffirino serves very nice Italian food. Last night it was buffet style and it was very good–especially the desserts. OK–especially the desserts and lamb chops. Yum.

Fun pastime in Las Vegas. We people watch.

An older man was sitting nearby at a large table family style. He was much older than everyone else and the family with him was quite exotic looking. I’d like to pick an ethnicity, but I can’t.

One of the women was probably his wife and the two other adult women her daughters. Our game was “Try and guess what they see in him?”

Money was the consensus choice.

With only three hours bed sleep and another hour and a half on the plane I was bushed. I was in bed before 10:00 PST. Very early for me.

This morning the six of us went to breakfast at “First” a new cafe in the hotel. Helaine had read very good things, but the service was indifferent and slow.

donuts.jpgAt one point a manager came to the table and I told him–nicely. He said he did want to know and I believe him. Vegas is built on service.

As we finished the meal a batch of freshly made donuts with amazing dipping sauces was brought to the table . For the cost of the donuts he turned a bad experience into a much happier one.

Our breakfasts were very good and we’ll probably go back to see if the service improves. This manager gets a save.

Helaine, Stef, Michael, Max and Melissa headed to the Forum Shoppes at Caesar’s. I went to the Venetian Poker Room for the noon tournament. This is a mid level tournament in a very good poker room.

How are poker rooms different? A good room has comfortable chairs and tables, good dealers and attentive waitress service. Bingo!

I lasted around three and a half hours busting out in 36th place of the original 144. Tonight someone will go home with over $4,900. Not me.

I was very happy with my play. My losing move was an all-in with Ace Jack only to run into an Ace King. Oh well.

I walked back through the casino and put a $20 bill in a slot machine. Within ten minutes I’d (mostly) won back my poker entry fee. Go figure?

We’re having dinner at a Mexican restaurant tonight. Hopefully I’ll be able to stay up a little later than last night.

The View From Our Room In Vegas

Our flight got in an hour early. After a short wait for bags we’re here on The Strip.

Our flight got in an hour early. After a short wait for bags we’re here on The Strip.

Everything went more than smoothly because of our SoCal cousins Melissa, Michael and Max. They picked us up at McCarren.

Not quite 5:30p here, but late for us for dinner. I am starved! Can’t imagine Helaine and Stef are any better. Reservations are for 6:30p.

Here’s the view from our room. I wonder if there’s any way to get on the roof… a legitimate way? Anyone know anyone in Las Vegas?

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Making The Most Of The Last Day In Vegas

For the next two weeks the rodeo is in town and Las Vegas is full of boots, hats and oversized belt buckles

Things are winding down. We said goodbye by Michael, Melissa and Max who then set out to drive back to Orange County, CA. We will miss them. Melissa has become Helaine’s sister.

We were stared at on our way down in the elevator. Then, somewhere between 18 and the lobby the man asked if I “was the newsman?” They were visiting from Wolcott and will be on our return flight. This is why I can only vacation with my wife.

IMG_4260.JPGA little poker–with good luck–then dinner with Helaine at California Pizza Kitchen. We’ve had the same guy as our waiter for at least five years and he was back with us today. As usual, I had a Jamaican Jerk Chicken Pizza.

Just across the way at the sports book they’re setting up for some country acts. For the next two weeks the rodeo is in town and Las Vegas is full of boots, hats and oversized belt buckles. Anybody gotta Bud?

It’s quite the eclectic group. The Mirage closes Cirque’s Love for two weeks of vacation while the rodeo’s in. This is not a French/Beatles crowd!

I went up to the room for a little while and on my way down got into the elevator with a guy holding a professional Canon HD camcorder. I asked a few questions and he told me he was shooting construction at the Mirage volcano. It’s currently under construction and officially closed. But, he said, it was going to be tested at 5:00 PM.

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I did go back to Venetian for the 7:00 PM tournament. Early on I had 3-Kings, only to find someone with “7s full.” I think I was first out!

If nothing else, Vegas is visually over-the-top. And, whatever was splashy last year has been trumped by something splashier this year… and brighter… and larger.

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Getting Set To Go

I have burned the candle at both ends. We’ve hit the road a week ago last Friday. I am bushed. Please, let this not be the screaming baby flight from Vegas. I want to need to sleep.

My sister and brother-in-law arrived in Las Vegas yesterday. This is one of those lucky, versus planned, things. They were scheduled to be here for a convention. In fact, when I asked if they wanted to have lunch today, they were busy selling.

At least we had one meal together. Yesterday, my sister, brother-in-law, and three cousins hit the MGM coffee shop. We were seven, not a common number. We waited over and hour for a table, and that was with a line pass!

Last night, I thought it would be fun if we took our young cousin, Max, downtown. Staying on the Strip, downtown’s far away and never seen.

Fremont Street, the main drag downtown, is where all the gaudy signs were in the 40s, 50s and 60s. If you saw Elvis in Vegas, Fremont Street is where he was. It really can’t compete with the Strip anymore, so it has positioned itself a little more downscale and affordable.

Fremont Street is where you an get 99&#162 shrimp cocktails (Golden Gate Hotel – they’re still great) and where $5 blackjack players get rated for comps. The street itself has been closed to traffic, covered with a mesh canopy and loaded with little kiosks and stands.

The atmosphere is comparable to what I’d expect on New Years Eve in Times Square. There are people of every shape, size and color. Families gawk. Pierced, Mohawked wackos gawk. Retirees gawk. They’re all together, and though the area seems tawdry, I never felt unsafe.

Cousin Michael made note of the nearly invisible security. We’re guessing they’re hidden, just seconds away… but that’s a hopeful guess and nothing more.

Once an hour, all the outside casino lights dim and thousands of tiny lights on the overhead canopy turn on to project a multimedia show. It’s called the Fremont Street Experience.

A few years ago the show was brought up-to-date… which ruined it! A more appropriate, though still modern, show is currently featured.

We were back at our hotel before midnight (which here, on a Saturday night, is something like noon anywhere else).

Our room is sad now. Nearly everything is packed and ready to go. Southwest Airlines has already sent me a text message saying our flight should be running on-time. The weather here and in Connecticut should cooperate.

It’s not over until I call the bellman. That’s only minutes away.

We Loved Love

Yes, Las Vegas is gambling and food, but it’s also shows – often great shows. We saw one tonight with Cirque du Soleil’s Love at Mirage, just up the Strip.

Helaine and I went with my Cousin Michael, his wife Melissa and their son Max.

As with all Cirque du Soleil shows, this one is very physical. The most obvious point that sets it apart from the others is the music. It’s all Beatles songs, remixed (and in many cases, reconfigured) by George Martin. As far as I know, this is the first time the Beatles original recordings have been featured in a non-Beatles performance.

If there’s a story to Love that ties in with the music, I didn’t get it.

Love is performed in the same space that once held Seigfreid and Roy. The theater has been rebuilt, putting the stage… or more appropriately stages, in the center, with the audience surrounding them.

As soon as we sat down, I knew we had really great seats. But this is a theater with many, many great seats.

The lights dimmed and the performance began. Almost immediately, I realized there was so much going on at any one time, I’d have to pick and choose what I would follow and understand I’d miss a lot. And then, as I was mulling this entertainment bonanza over, the stage got ten times busier!

I have never seen a more spectacular opening for an on-stage performance. It is truly indescribable!

Helaine and I have seen all the Vegas Cirque shows but one (Zumanity). This was the best of the lot – a show we’d gladly see again.

Some of the shows are very gymnastic, this was more dance oriented. Yes, there were displays of strength and flexibility, but nothing over-the-top.

I especially enjoyed a portion of the show where two roller skating ramps and four excellent skaters appeared as if out of nowhere. As with so much of this show, sets and performers ‘appeared’ from above or below eye level. Stages and ropes were constantly moving up and down.

It was over much too soon.

The Good Story From The Libby Trial

I want to make comment about the Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby trial. This will have nothing to do with the verdict.

I wasn’t there. I don’t have all the facts. The trial was incredibly politicized, These are all things I’ve worked to keep out of my blog.

There was, however, one part of the procedure which struck me when I read an article in Editor and Publisher.

(Juror Denis) Collins, a journalist who has written for The Washington Post and other newspapers — and is author of the 2004 book, “Spying: The Secret History of History”– described the jury’s painstaking deliberations. He said there were several “managerial types” on the jury and they spent many days just assembling post-it notes in some kind or “buildings blocks” fashion. They did not take an immediately straw vote.

If I ever go to court, that’s what I want to hear – the jury was involved and thorough. It’s something I think we often feel isn’t there.

A few years ago, while tuning past C-Span on a boring Sunday night I had audio tapes of Supreme Court proceedings. It was a similar feeling.

I had no idea what the particulars of the case were, but I heard intelligent men and women pondering the facts with well thought questions and comments.

Cousin Michael, who reads the blog and who clerked in the US Circuit Court might write otherwise, but these comments from the Libby trial and my ‘eavesdropping’ on the Supremes, gives me optimism our republic is built on a solid foundation.

Or maybe I’m just naive. I hope not.

Sunday With The Folks

Last night Helaine and I slept on a blow up bed in my parents’ spare bedroom. I’m not complaining. We used to come here to Florida and sleep on a pull out couch.

You can’t spell couch without ouch. It used to kill my back.

My mom had a great breakfast for us. Bagels and lox. Pickled herring.

Hey, we’re not Presbyterians. We are not a Wheat Bran family.

After breakfast we went to visit my cousins, Carol and Howie. Carol is the daughter of my grandmother’s sister. There’s an correct term for our relationship, but in our small family cousin works fine.

One of their sons, Michael, came by. I’m related to him too, though I won’t even venture a guess what the correct title is. Michael’s a physician in the ER of a local hospital.

Yes – one of their sons became a doctor. Mission accomplished!

We went back to my folks condo, looking for something to do. Before we left Connecticut, Helaine told me, no flea markets – no shopping.

You have to understand, for my parents, going to Costco or BJs is entertainment in and of itself. We really wanted no part of that exciting South Florida lifestyle.

Helaine suggested seeing a movie. Luckily, there’s a theater two minutes away where Dreamgirls is playing.

We got there a few minutes before showtime, but waited through the scheduled start when the ticket machine ran out of paper… then jammed after being reloaded.

It’s OK – we missed the commercials and coming attractions but saw 100% of the movie.

I convinced my dad, who wears two hearing aids, to get the headphones many theaters offer. A few minutes into the movie he threw them off. That came a few seconds after he said “Too loud,” very loudly.

I went to adjust the volume, but found the theater had set their input volume so high, anything coming out of the headphones was going to be terribly distorted. There was nothing that could be done at the headphone end to fix it.

What a shame. The theater spent the money to offer this service, but by misaligning the equipment their investment is worthless. I told the young girl at the ticket counter, but I doubt that will do any good.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a movie that was sold out. This one was. Maybe it was the Sunday afternoon price of $5.25? We actually sat in the first row – something I’d never done before.

Now on to Dreamgirls.

Wow! I was pleasantly surprised. This is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.

The true star of the movie is Jennifer Hudson. Again, wow! She can sing. She can act. When she is on the screen, you cannot look away.

I’m not an American Idol viewer, so she was new to me. Now I’m a fan.

Though there is plenty of denial, Dreamgirls is obviously based on the Supremes. Beyonce Knowles is Diana Ross. Jamie Foxx’s character is Berry Gordy.

Dreamgirls is a true musical, with much of the dialog sung (especially through the second half). There’s a lot of Motown influence in the beginning, and I was reminded how much I liked Motown music in the 60s and 70s. Much of the rest of the music is “Broadway” styled. Still, a farewell song was so reminiscent of “Some Day We’ll Be Together,” I started to hum the original at the hooks.

Most of the movie was great and none of the movie was bad. Performances by Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Hudson, Keith Robinson and Danny Glover were superior. That’s a lot of excellent acting. How can you not credit the director for that?

Dreamgirls is stylish. It is compelling. It moves (though I’d have been happier had it been 25 minutes shorter). I really liked it a lot.

Chalk up another good recommendation from Helaine.

The Elegance Of The Weather Map

Photo from my Motorola RAZR cameraphone

27 Oct ’06, 9.02pm EDT

Originally uploaded by Geoff Fox.

Cousin Michael was helping a friend. A little research please (which I tried hard to avoid). What was it like in New York Harbor on the morning of November 10, 1928?

First, the good news. Though New York City’s readings come from Belvedere Castle, on the west side of Central Park, near Tavern on the Green, in the 20s the observatory was The Battery – Manhattan’s most southern point.

The bad news is, most of this old, handwritten weather is squirreled away in difficult to find places. NOAA’s repository is one of the most unfriendly, difficult to use web sites I deal with. No – mark that. The most difficult. And it’s a pay site. What about my taxes? Didn’t I pay already?

Tonight, with a few open minutes, I took a look to see if there was an easier way. There is, with the Daily Weather Maps series. There’s a viewer to download, but it’s mostly nice and easy and the maps go back to 1871.

I downloaded the map Michael wanted, which is posted to the right. It’s really elegant in its simplicity and utility. In that pre-computer, non-Internet era, it’s amazing.

If you close your eyes you can see men with green eye shades and sleeve garters using their French curves to draw the isobars (lines of equal barometric pressure).

I don’t know when the map was actually published. With phone costs as high as they were I would guess observations weren’t being transmitted on an hourly basis. Still, it’s great it’s still here, to archive that one day eighty some odd years ago.

Oh – New York was under high pressure, but it was cloudy with a light northwesterly breeze. The temperature at 8:00 AM was in the mid-30&#176s, where it had been 24 hours earlier.


West Wing – Others Noticed The Logo

Yesterday I wrote about my unease at seeing an NBC News logo on the West Wing “live debate.”

I guess I’m not the only one who noticed.

Cousin Michael just emailed this link to an AP story on that same topic (the writer probably reads my blog).

I wonder if others will object or if another barrier has gone down… much to my chagrin.

Aren’t Vacations For Rest

Helaine and I are home. Wisely, Helaine recommended I take an extra day off before returning to work, which is why I’m currently on the sofa in pajamas.

I feel like I’ve been dragged by my feet, tongue down, through the streets of some third world capitol. My body aches. My eyes are sore. I’m not sure if I’m currently capable of adding a column of numbers.

Vacation was once supposed to be soothing and relaxing. Now, or at least this time, vacation was for doing stuff. We did lots of stuff… lots.

Here’s my plan. I’m not going to go back and write all the entries I couldn’t post because of my Internet troubles in Las Vegas&#185. I think spontaneity would be missing and I’m not sure if I could remember everything that happened. After all, what happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas (does that include calories?).

Instead, I plan on taking some of the more than 2 gigabytes of photos I took and making them into a narrated slide show. I’ve been thinking about how to do this and have some thoughts about interesting effects with Flash.

Right now tying shoelaces is beyond me.

There is one thing I will post from the vacation and it deserves a story. My father’s 80th birthday was Saturday, October 29. To celebrate, my sister and I (along with our spouses and cousins Melissa and Michael) took my folks to the MGM Grand for a spectacular dinner at Pearl and Cirque du Soleil K&#193.

As we walked across the valet parking area we came upon four Vegas showgirls, waiting for a vehicle to pick them up. Each was well over six feet tall and weighed around 12 pounds.

I walked over to them and explained it was dad’s 80th… could I take a photo of him with them.

It is a keepsake photograph and beautifully sums up the celebration that surrounded my dad’s birthday!

&#185 – While in Las Vegas I could only stay connected to the Internet for 20-30 seconds at a time using my wireless modem. I suspect the problem is mine, not the provider’s. My guess is it has to do with the four access points that were available to me. Why this is a problem is anyone’s guess. But, here I am typing this and connected to my home’s AP with no problem.


More On Monday From Las Vegas

Lots to be done as we settled on on our third day here, but the day that had been scheduled to be the first. Max had to go to the airport, and that was the perfect opportunity for me to pick up our rental car, also at the airport.

Melissa was driving. Note to NASCAR: Any teams needing a new driver, Melissa is your girl. I have flown in an F/A-18, but it didn’t have the maneuverability of Melissa’s Toyota Sequoia.

With bumper-to-bumper traffic on Las Vegas Blvd I’ll swear she hit 80 mph… and that was just changing lanes!

With lots of people to shuttle around, we needed to rent a car with room. Helaine (Queen of Deals) had found a Chrysler Minivan from Dollar for about $130 per week. Taxes and fees added an extra $60!

I have a Dollar FASTLANE card. It cost nothing. The program is now named Dollar Express, but the effect is the same.

We walked into the rental office and saw a long line. Next to it was a space for Dollar Express members. I walked up and was taken next! Without the little, free, card, we’d still be in line.

We saved at least an hour – maybe more.

This car is not stylish. In fact, it sort of represents everything this trip is not supposed to be. It will do, because it is what we need.

On the way back from getting the car we stopped to get water and soda to keep in our room. It was interesting to see both the drug store and grocery had small video poker rooms.

I wasn’t done with poker, and when we got back, I sat back down. My luck from the morning hadn’t changed.

Actually, that’s wrong. My play hadn’t changed. I was playing sloppy, like a tourist who wanted hands to play and was willing to play lesser cards. That was a $180 lesson.

I was still up, but now my winnings were marginal… and I was upset, because I knew I could play better.

We all had dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant at the Venetian – Zeffirino. I had a pasta/seafood dish, which was very tasty.

As dinner ended, the waiter, captain and the restaurant’s strolling mandolin (Was it a mandolin… I’m really not sure. It wasn’t a guitar) player came by with a piece of cake and candle to celebrate my dad’s 80th.

The birthday isn’t until later in the week, but that’s what the trip is all about.

Michael and Melissa and my folks stayed at the Venetian. Helaine and I returned to the Mirage. I needed to redeem myself.

Let me stop for a second and explain something. Even when you know how to play poker correctly, it is always possible to be swayed by the siren song mediocre cards. That’s especially true of someone like me who will be here a relatively short amount of time and wants to play, not fold. I have to fight the temptation.

As it turns out, I did stick to my guns and played very nicely… until 2:30 AM PDT. Bottom line was a $40 win.

It would have been more (it would have been a few hundred more), but, with Aces full, I was beaten by an unlikely four of a kind by a player who went in, in the face of betting action, with nothing but a 2-4 and caught just the right cards.

I’m sure I also had a few unlikely wins, but it’s always the ‘beats’ you remember.

My sister and brother-in-law are on a plane now, heading into Vegas. I’m the designated driver, so I’d better get going. More later from Fabulous Las Vegas.

Wish you were here.

My First Action – Poker In Vegas

We were up and at ’em before noon – a major accomplishment considering our cross country trip and fatigue.

My folks spent last night, unhappily, at the MGM Grand. Nothing went right. All that was left were smoking rooms. There was an ironing board and iron in the middle of the room. My mom couldn’t sleep.

They were coming to the Mirage Tuesday, but Helaine managed to get them in today. They are now safely ensconced here, along with my cousins Michael and Melissa and their son Max. My sister and brother-in-law get here Tuesday.

Helaine, Queen of Las Vegas, had arranged for line passes. These are worth their weight in gold. Getting to the head of the line can be very valuable when the line snakes forever! These aren’t comps – we’re paying – but it’s still worthwhile.

We went with Cousin Melissa and had breakfast in the Caribe Cafe. It’s a Vegas coffee shop and everything good that implies.

After breakfast, and moving my folks, I headed to the sports book to watch the Eagles. It was ugly. It was a win.

Michael and I headed out for a walk, but when it was his turn to watch Max, I headed to the poker room for my first tableside action.

I have been playing $10-$20 of late at Foxwoods. None of that here. I signed up for a $6-$12 table, but before I was called a “Sit ‘n Go” tournament opened.

In a “Sit ‘n Go,” 10 players ante up $100 plus $15 for the casino. Each then gets $1,000 in tournament chips (no value off this table). The 10 play until there are two left. First place gets $700, with the remaining $300 for second.

In the beginning I was incredibly nervous. My play was fine, but I was intimidated to be doing something live and in person I usually do at home, on the couch, in pajamas.

I took a quick lead, amassing $3,500 of the tables $10,000. It didn’t last. I stayed up, but was soon in third and probably fourth for a while. I played steady. I measured my bets, studied the pot, figured the odds.

I have been reading Dan Harrington’s poker book and used some of his advice.

The table leader was a man from Alabama who played very loose and had been lucky. I knew he would burn out.

Finally the table was down to three. The player to my right went all in against the player to my left. They were nearly even in chips. That meant there would be two… and one of them would be me!

We continued to play. The player to my right was up by a few thousand chips. With me holding King/Queen off suit, he made a bet. I decided to take a stand and go all in. He asked if I wanted to split the $1,000 cash 50/50?

I was a crap shoot. Who knew. But, right then, half the pot seemed good to me. We shook hands.

I’ve played once and so far, I’m up. I was pleased at my play and pleased at the quality of the others playing. They are beatable.

This doesn’t mean i will leave Las Vegas a winner. It does mean I have a fighting chance. Even if I lose a little or come out even, I will be a winner, because I enjoy the action.

Of course, I could lose a lot. I’ll try and limit that.

Happy Birthday Harold – Hope You Can Join Us

Next week is a milestone for my dad. He will be 80. This is not a number to take lightly.

I’ve asked him in the past to contrast his age with his expectations of what that age was going to be like. He couldn’t. Long ago he passed any age he had expected to see.

This is not to say my father thought he’d be gone by now. It’s just no one thinks of what life will be like at 80… until you’re late into your 79th year.

I think I speak for him when I say, these are the best times of his life. He and my mom live a wonderful life in Florida. Their condo complex is socially active, which suits them fine.

My mom has become more active in governing the condo complex, something I never would have expected. My dad has become a computer maven to his fellow senior citizens who see him as a latter day Bill Gates.

So, what do you do for an 80th birthday? My folks thought it would be fun to take Helaine and me, along with my sister Trudi and brother-in-law Jeff, to Las Vegas for a family oriented celebration. My cousins Michael and Melissa will be joining us.

What says happy birthday more than Las Vegas?

My folks don’t gamble, but they are great explorers. Vegas has so much to explore. We plan on seeing some excellent shows, taking in the sights and eating as if cholesterol hadn’t been discovered. I will also attempt to play poker 23 hours a day or until I can no longer afford Steffie’s college tuition.

My folks are due to leave Florida Tuesday. Well, they are now. I suppose it’s all Hurricane Wilma dependent.

If you look at the tracking maps, the current projections bring Wilma right over their place. It’s not a reassuring outlook. The one saving grace is, Wilma won’t be a particularly strong hurricane by then.

Earlier today I asked if they would call the airline, AirTran, and see if they could move their flight. Lots of other airlines were accommodating passengers in this manner. not AirTran… or at least not in a way that was meaningful.

October 20, 2005, 10:00 am ET

Murray and Max

There is really no story to go with this photo. It’s just a great photo featuring my uncle, Murray, and his grandson, my cousin, Max. It was shot by my cousin, Michael.

Murray lives in Maryland. Max lives in California. Their being together is a treat all by itself. Add in their expressions and… well, it’s just a great photo.