The Puerto Rico Problem Ends Now

Hurricane Maria isn't the cause, but it is the impetus for me writing this.  The time has come to deal with the problem with Puerto Rico.  I don't mean President Thin Skin getting federal aid to the desperate, hungry, and thirsty AMERICAN CITIZENS.

No, that problem is short-termed and more an organizational issue than anything, and needs the leaders to get out of the way and let the professionals do what needs to be done.

No, the real problem is Puerto Rico, for some reason, isn't a state.  And it needs to be.

Let's do a simple comparison between #50 and my choice for #51

                                      HAWAII PUERTO RICO
Became US Territory 1898 1898
Area 10,931 sq mi 3,515 sq mi
Population 1,428,557 3,411,307
Language English, Hawaiian  Spanish, English 
Climate Tropical Tropical
Flight distance to US 2,500 mi 1,000 mi

After the island normalizes after this current tragedy, I propose that they hold the binding referendum on statehood, and then get Congress and the President to sign off on the paperwork.  And I don't want to hear any crap about  how they'll all vote Democrat, so the current Republican party shouldn't do this.  It's the right thing to do, so do the right thing.

I've seen some designs for a 51 star flag.  [LINK]  Some are too crazy.  One is boring and terribly asymmetrical.  But that's okay.  I spent a good 5 minutes figuring out the proper design.  (Probably not original, but I haven't seen one like it.)  The the best part about it is that if additional states (not Washington DC, that goes back to Maryland) are added someday, they can easily be added to the center without having to go through a major redesign.


And unlike some of those in the link, any school child can draw it.  Or even an IT guy using Excel.


Tech Tuesday - Me and My FatButt


"What Gets Measured Gets Done"

FatButt / FitBit / WhatEver.

Cora and I had been thinking about joining the FitBit bandwagon for a while, and on the 4th of July, we bought a set of FitBit Charge HR's at BestBuy.  I also got a new camera, but that's a story for another post.

The FitBits sat on our table for a few days before we finally broke them out last weekend.  Sadly, we did not instantly lose the 10% of our body weight that I'm certain we were promised.

The set up is actually pretty easy.  It will Bluetooth with your phone, and has a dongle for connecting with your computer.  There is also a small USB cord for connecting to the PC / charging the device.  It's a proprietary connection, not the standard micro-USB  Sad smile.  And it connects on the back of the device, so you have to take it off to charge.  It holds a charge for a couple of days, but I don't buy the 4 – 5 days they claim.  3 –4 maybe.  Connection with your phone is over Bluetooth.  This could be an issue if your phone is often battery challenged.  I've been just turning Bluetooth on/off as needed.

I've had it now for about 2 months, and a few things that I've come to realize:

  • My normal "average" steps are in the 6,500 – 7,500 range.  I have to push just a little to hit the 10,000 daily steps.  Winter is going to be rough.  It's going to be harder to get 2,000 steps at lunch like I have been doing.
  • Weekends my "average" steps are in the 4,000 range.  Getting 10,000 steps on a weekend requires dedication.
  • Cora destroys me on steps ALL the time.  Usually 2+ times.
    I have beaten her once.  ONCE!
  • I get cheated out of steps like a sucker inside.  I walk pretty softly and glide a bit on the hardwood floors.  I will get up in the morning, go to the bathroom, go get a bowl of cereal, walk that to my desk, eat it, take the bowl back to the kitchen, and get credit for 17 steps.

Does the FitBit work?

I'm not sure I've lost any weight on it.  Our scale's batteries were dead when we got the FitBits, so I'm not sure where I started, but I'm certainly not down any from where I've recently been.  Sad smile

But, I will say that it has certainly has motivated me.  Without it, I certainly wouldn't be going out for a walk at 9:30 in the evening after dinner, because I "need my steps".  And I'm certainly taking the stairs more that I have been.

"Should I get one like you?" – NO!

Wait, what?  "NO!"?

FitBit is releasing a new set of updated trackers.  The Charge 2 has been announced.  It's going to have a much bigger screen (full watch face vs. the single line of the Charge+HR), it will also have replaceable bands, which the current charges lack.  It also does some new oxygen tracking based of heart rate or some such super-athlete voodoo.

It will also, when paired with your phone, alter you to who is calling or texting.

They are also releasing a new Flex, but unless you MUST have a waterproof tracker for swimming, or want to wear it like a necklace, why get the Flex?  If you need one that slim, get the Alta.  Neither have heart rate, and how can you track fitness without heart rate tracking?

Disclaimer – This is an unpaid, unsolicited, etc. review.  No one really wants my opinion.


MARVELing At–Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.–Part 2

Besides all the stuff that was teased in the 6 month time jump, I've got some ideas as to what next season can hold.  There are some things Marvel can use "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." for to lay the groundwork for in the movies.  And things that they need to do for themselves.

"FIGHT AN EXTERNAL THREAT" - This is a must.  Hydra.  Hive.  In-Humans.  Enough navel gazing.  With the show clearly tracking down Daisy, and Dr. Radcliffe's L.M.D. storyline, they decidedly need an outside threat that ties in, but isn't Grant Ward's brain matrix implanted into an L.M.D.

Three threats that I think would work well with the ground work already prepared:

"A.I.M." - Advanced Ideas Mechanics.  Introduced in "Iron Man III" with the Extremis formula, which is also the basis for Deathlok's non-mechanical powers.  They have a long history in the comics of tangling with S.H.I.E.L.D. and are a Hydra subsidiary, so there are plenty of ways this could play out.  Especially if they are a government tech contractor.

"THE SECRET EMPIRE / COUNCIL OF NINE" – This could tie in with the most recent season of "Agent Carter" with the Zero Matter / Darkforce potentially being part of the mystic approach of "Dr. Strange" that is coming out in November.  And S.H.I.E.L.D. has already had a taste of Darkforce this last season, so there's that.  If they use it, I hope that they include some Hayley Atwell and skip a "corruption within the government" story line.

"POWER BROKER, INC." – Everyone who's not an Inhuman, Super Soldier, or Tech Billionaire in a fancy suit is going to want to be powering up, and Power Broker, Inc. is a good way to explore that.  The drugs used to enhance the people had a 50/50 chance of killing or deforming the subject.  The other half came through addicted to the drugs, and forced into criminal activities to pay for them.  It also is a way to bring in a such characters (discussed more below) of the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation, Super Patriot / US Agent, and Demolition Man.

"US AGENT" - After the events in "Captain America: Civil Wars", Captain America is definitely on the outs with the US government, and he's even left his shield behind.  While Cap's in Wakanda and they can make him another.  Replacing him in the Avengers is not so easy.  But once again, there's precedence in the comics.

Johnny Walker – US Agent.  He replaced Captain America in the late 80's in the comic books.  He's a different kind of Cap, more aggressive, more vicious.  After briefly serving as Captain America, he takes on the mantle of US Agent and joins the West Coast Avengers.

With only the "Black Panther" movie in 2018 as a natural film for Cap to be in before the "Infinity Wars" start later in 2018, Marvel may want to use Johnny Walker/US Agent to help them move some chess pieces around the board regarding Steve Rogers without having to actually use Chris Evans.  As a Captain America replacement, US Agent would not be popular with Coulson.  But, he's also class-10 strength (able to lift 10 tons), which can be toned down a little for TV, but still have him strong enough to help with the enhanced threats that they will be facing.

Also, they have a choice of shields, Cap's old one, or the plasma one Coulson briefly showed in Season 3.  Why even bother showing that and then never develop it?

"TITANIA" – Crusher Creel, aka "The Absorbing Man" is already part of the show.  He has a girlfriend named, Mary MacPherran, "Titania".  While originally, her powers are given her by Dr. Doom during "Secret Wars", since Marvel doesn't have Dr. Doom rights, they could adjust this out to "Power Brokers, Inc." and Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation.  And she could be what leads him back to crime and puts "Law-Enforcement" back in S.H.I.E.L.D.

"DEMOLITION MAN" – Dennis Dunphy is another Power Brokers, Inc. client, and professional wrestler.  He kicked the drugs, and became friends/sidekick with Captain America.  He got his @$$ kicked by Titania, and totally developed a complex about it.

"JENNIFER WALTERS" - With all that Daisy / Quake is up to, she's going to need a good lawyer.  Sure, Matt Murdock is running around New York, but "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." could use the comic levity that comes with the the She-Hulk.  She doesn't need to join the team or go on any adventures to be a fabulous addition to the team.  Plus, she and Titania have a feud.

"BOBBIE & HUNTER" – The spin off wasn't picked up.  Bring them back.  Now.

There are also other characters that would / should get introduced into the MCU, and Agents is a great place to do it.

"PINK KREE" - All the Kree we have seen so far have been the "Blue Kree".  And, basically, have been the space boogeymen.  However, there is actually a pink skinned variety of Kree, also.  And they are more populous.

The original Captain Marvel (Captain Mar-Vell) was a pink skinned Kree who came to Earth to monitor us.  With Marvel having announced a Carol Danvers / Ms. Marvel movie in 2019, it might be time for laying some pink Kree groundwork.  Carol Danvers gets her powers from the pink skinned Kree Mar-Vell, so unless they want that movie to have to cover a lot of backstory, they better start getting the pink Kree out there, and make them not the inter-galactic boogeymen they have been so far.

"SKRULLS" - Also, you can't keep having the Kree running around without eventually getting around to their archenemy, the Skrulls.  As I understand it, Marvel does have some movie rights access to the generic "Skrulls", they can't use the "Super Skrull".  He is a Fantastic Four villain, and with Fox.

"ORIGINAL HUMAN TORCH" – Back at the Stark Expo in "Captain America, First Avenger", there's a sight gag of a man in an air-tight tube.

That is actually an android, the Original Human Torch, also known as "Jim Hammond".  Not to be confused with the Fantastic 4's Johnny Storm.  As Marvel's first self aware android, if you are bringing in an LMD element/threat to this season, the Original Human Torch would be an obvious resource to tap.  And they could definitely use the fact that he's in the NYPD (not NYFD, I know?)

This is a no no-brainer.

"CRYSTAL" – While I'm not sure of the rights here, she is a member of the Inhuman Royal family.  Since that movie has been pushed back again, I think she'd be okay to introduce in AoS to continue the Inhuman storyline.  Also, she has the ability to control the four "classic elements" – air, fire, water, and earth (metal).  Of the royal family, her's would actually be the easiest to handle on the small screen.

Plus, she's been romantically linked with Ronan the Accuser from the "Guardian's" movie.

But people I don't want to see"

"GHOST RIDER" – I guess Marvel just got this character back, and there are some rumors, but AoS is not where he belongs.  Netflix is getting a lot of the characters from the "Defender" team.  They tended to fight the more mystic foes.  He would fit well over there.

"MOON KNIGHT" – Marvel's whacked out version of Batman.  This train wreck of a character should never, ever see screen time.  Not even in the back ground of some major battle where he is a glorified extra.

Just no.

"STARFOX" – His real name is Eros.  He's a member of the race called "The Eternals".  The Eternals were created by the Celestials from early humans.  Later, the Eternals alerted the Kree to Earth, which eventually led to the Kree creating the Inhumans from early Humans.  Does that make your brain hurt?

Eros has the power to stimulate the pleasure centers in people's minds (among other powers like flight & super strength.).  That's correct, he's the Roofie, Date Rape Avenger.  Yes.  He's an Avenger.

And guess what?  You know Thanos, "The Mad Titan"?  Not also is he also an Eternal.  In fact, they're brothers.  Please don't let this be the reason to bring this mess to the MCU.  Do not use Eros as a way to provide background on Thanos, even he is the "Big Bad" of the whole MCU plot line so far.



"BRETT DALTON" – Grant Ward / Hive – Do not bring him back as an L.M.D., even though you may have his brain waves stored somewhere.


MARVELing At–Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D.–Part 1

Sheild-01I know that no one is reading this besides my wife, but I want to get a few ideas about Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. that I want to get out in the Universe.


In the 6 month leap into the future at the end of the final episode, Coulson and Mac refer to "the Director".  Both of them have BEEN the Director of S.H.E.I.L.D. (Mac temporarily), so who is this "Directory"?

As I see it, it has to be someone we already know.  I don't see them pulling someone new out of the air, and having that person be called "the Directory", and not "Director ________" by these two S.H.E.I.L.D. lifers.  As I see it, the options include:

Nick Fury – In comic book land, this is the most obvious choice.  However, no way Samuel L. Jackson does more than a cameo or two a season, like in season 1.

Agent Melinda May – She's Coulson's ex-partner and his work wife.  I don't see her taking the position of his boss.  But Ming-Na Wen could really put some spice into the role.

Maria Hill – This one I think has pretty decent odds of happening.  Colbie Smulders has done a few movies, but isn't too over booked that she couldn't fit in routine guest appearances on the show.  And in the comics, she has been a Director or S.H.E.I.L.D.  And she's been working for Stark since the fall of S.H.E.I.L.D., and now with Stark being the red and golden boy of the UN, getting her to take over S.H.E.I.L.D. isn't a stretch.

General Talbot – As demonstrated this season, he's not much into the spy game, but he's a show regular guest star.  And it's not like Adrian Pasdar has a lot going on, either.  But, technically, he reports to Coulson now, would they flip that relationship (why not)?  But would Coulson call him "The Director" so easily?  He still calls Daisy "Skye", so why would he not call him "Director Talbot" or "Gen – Directory Talbot"?

Tony Stark – As with Nick Fury, this would fit the current MCU storyline, and he has been a director in the comics.  But no way Robert Downey Jr. does TV.

Steve Rogers – Another former Director from the comics, but doesn't fit with the current MCU narrative of Cap being on the run, and maybe being a bit of a NOMAD.  And like the other big hitters on the list, Chris Evans is priced out of the role.

Dum Dum Dugan – Former Director from the comics.  They could use the "Infinity Formula" from the comics to bring him from WWII to the current.  Unfortunately actor Neal McDonough is tied up doing DC's "Arrow" and "Legends of Tomorrow".

Sharon Carter – Another Former Directory from the comics.  In the current MCU, she's in the CIA and smooching Cap.  Probably too young to ascend to the position.  Emily VanCamp has primarily done TV series work, so that would work in her favor.

Peggy Carter – Well, she's dead.  And Hayley Atwell has another commitment to an ABC show, "Conviction".  Not much of a chance here, but this is Marvel, so Peggy could use "Zero Matter" to time travel to the current?  As a founder of S.H.E.I.L.D. she has the chops and would have instant respect and credibility with Mac & Coulson.  If not for "Conviction", I would actually give this a decent chance of happening.

Daisy Johnson – Another former Director in the comics.  But too young, too inexperienced, and given that they were tracking her down, nope.

Norman Osbourn – Yes, the Green Goblin was once a Director of S.H.E.I.L.D.   While Marvel & Sony have some sharing agreement on Spider-Man, no way Marvel is getting its hands on the character.  And, I'm not sure they need that kind of mess in the show.

Clay Quartermain – Never a Director, but still a high ranking agent within S.H.I.E.L.D., Clay Quartermain was apparently killed by a LMD, and replaced by an LMD.  With LMDs being teased in the 6 month fast forward, Clay does make sense for season 4.

Other Former Directors You've Never Heard of: G.W. Bridge, Colonel Rick Stoner, & Capt. Jacob "Ski" Strzeszewski – Who?

My guess is Talbot, but I really don't think just flipping the roles of him and Coulson is very compelling for the story.  Kind of lazy writing.  I really am hoping for Maria (Colbie Smulders) Hill.  I think there are much better story arcs to be found by putting Hill in the Director's chair.


Urban Pie–Going Green

The other night, Cora and I were out getting groceries, and it was late.  Getting toward 9:00, and we haven't eaten yet.  Nothing in the deli looked good.  I didn't want to swing by Popeye's after what had happened 2 weeks earlier.  (Ask Cora.)

We wanted to get a "take & bake" pizza, but they didn't seem to have any, so we went back to the pizza section and were looking around for something a little nicer than the Jack's/Tombstone we usually get.

And we wanted to get something not too spicy.  It was getting late, after all.

We decided to take a leap and bought an Urban Pie Pizza.  We got the pesto & fresh mozzarella pizza with the cherry tomato slices.

Little Italy Pizza Slice

Wow.  Cooked up crisp.  Basically, a pizza margherita, but with pesto instead of basil leaves.  And it's a good call.  The garlic in the pesto adds a level of depth that I always look for but often miss when eating a margherita.  It could have used a little more mozzarella, but that's a little bit of a quibble for a $7 frozen pizza.

Cora liked it too.  Said it was hard to believe that this was a frozen pizza.  It reminded me of a flatbread appetizer you would find out at a decent restaurant.

We will definitely be adding this to our occasional purchase list.  Next time we may add some of those Tyson frozen pre-cooked chicken to it.

And I think we will be trying their chicken sausage and yellow pepper pie, too.


Travel Tech Update - 2016

Firing up the old blog again. I recently went on a roughly 3 week trip to Europe, my first in 10 years, and somethings sure have changed.  Others haven't.


Data plans – My cell phone company (AT&T) didn't offer free coverage in Europe. so I bought their plan for 300 MB.  I then went through all my apps (except work email) and set them to wi-fi.  Made it with flying colors.

And with the plan, I got unlimited texting, which was great for keeping in touch with Cora.

Google Maps – Without data, wasn't I lost?  No.  Turns out, you can pre-download maps for your destination onto your phone.  (Here's how.)With the maps stored on the phone, it just needed GPS to tell me where I was.  As a bonus, since I have a GMail account, when logged into Google on my laptop, I could * and save locations I wanted to visit, and they would transfer to my phone over wi-fi.

But, if, hypothetically, you leave the apartment the first day and forget your phone on the charger, if you don't have a good sense of direction, it might not hurt to have a paper map in your bag.

Battery – Using the phone for navigation does really kill the battery.  You may want to carry one of those some external battery packs that gives your phone another charge or two.

WI-FI – Look for free wi-fi where ever you can.  And leave Facebook alone until you get back to the hotel for the evening or find a good wi-fi signal.


Don't worry about the price of a phone call home.  Use Skype.  I would text with Cora, and set up a time for the Skype.  Love the wifi at the apartment/hotel.  It made the distance feel less distant.


Don't be a goof and just use the one on your cell phone.  That's not a camera.  If these are your memories, make them real, and use a real camera.  I took the wife's DSLR and snapped about 2,000 pictures.  I took about 20 with my cell phone.  And about another 20 with my point-n-shoot.

The DSLR was awesome.  Got some great photos.  It was a little heavy at times, and not as weather forgiving (which is why some shots were with the other cameras).  I tried not to rely on the neck strap, but carried it in my messenger bag when not shooting.

This also saved my phone battery, not relying on it as my camera, too.  One co-worker I was with, who only had his phone, and the battery died while we were out.  Luckily I was there to shoot for him.

I'm not saying you need to drop $500 on a camera for your trip, but maybe dust off that point-n-shoot that's in the drawer.


This was a fail.  I bought it for the trip, and at $49.99, I'm going to get my money's worth: just not on the trip.  I loaded it up with season 2 of 24, and it worked fine.  But it's region specific, so I couldn't download any more episodes while I was there.  And, unlike my phone, I couldn't download a mobile version of Google Maps for even a bigger screen map on the go.  And notice, it wasn't even listed in the camera list.


One thing you need when traveling overseas is a plug converter or two.  All my devices are multi-voltage, so that was handled by the converters already in the devices.  But, you still need to plug them into the wall.  At the first place I stayed, they loaned me a pair of converters for £5 each.  That worked well.  The second place sold me one for €15.  It may make sense to buy a pair in advance.

And I NEVER travel without at least one 1-to-3 outlet "T" plugs.  That allowed me to maximize my plug converters.  And I took a few extra USB cords and plugs.

Speaking of plugs, in London, all the wall outlets had a switch right on the outlet that could turn the individual outlet on/off.  The first night, I plugged my cell phone into the outlet next to the bed.  Woke up with the phone at 15%.  The outlet was turned off!  But they did have something cool: right next to the front door was a master switch.  Hit it, and all the ceiling lights that were switched on went of/off.  When you left, no reason to run around turning off lights.  One switch: All off.  Return home, one switch: All on.  Wish I had that at the condo.


Since I was going to be in London for 2 weeks, before leaving, I want to the bank and got $200 worth of pounds.  It was nice to have some folding money, but I did come home with £20.  My other destinations were supposed to be 2 or 3 days in Brussels (euros) and 2 or 3 days in Geneva (Swiss francs).  So, I figured I would try and just use cards there.  I ended up not going to Geneva, so glad I didn't get those francs.  My bank doesn't have any ATMs where I was going, and I hate paying ATM fees.  The bank suggested doing that deal where you buy something something with the debit card and get cash back.  Didn't end up touching a euro.  And while I made it, I will admit, having a little paper money would have been nice.

But at least I didn't have to hassle with traveler's checks.

As for the credit card, make sure you have a at least a "chip and signature" card.  If you don't have the chip, you're screwed.  They are all chip and pin.  Most places can deal with the signature part without too much hassle, but keep a pen with you to sign the receipts.


In Europe, don't be a putz, use public transportation or cabs.  As a CTA rider, I enjoyed the Tube.  I suppose you can Uber, but you're braver than I.  Between London & Brussels, I took the Eurostar train.  I didn't even realize we were in the Chunnel until they said, "Welcome to France".


He Hustles to Brussels–Part II

My last full day in Brussels.  My last full day of the trip.  By London based co-workers took off mid-afternoon for the train back home.  My flight back home was Friday around noon.  I was hoping to duck out a little early, too.

That didn't happen.

I got out about 6:00, and made a break for it.  I'm going to start loosing my light soon!

Welcome to Belgium: Need social security benefits. But there were signs that either the Avengers or Anarchists are in town.
This funky van was parked in front of the royal palace. Which I glanced over the fence.
But it was protected by lions.

King Leopold, watching out over the palace, too.

I was walking down this street by the palace, and got yelled at by police/ soldiers with automatic weapons.

Because I was literally walking down the street.  Right down the middle. They wanted me over on the sidewalk, I guess.

Whatever, there was no traffic on the road.  Maybe, just maybe, they should be less concerned about me, and more about people vandalizing the mail box they where standing in from of.
Godfrey of Bouillon – The inventor of the bouillon cube.
Musée Modern Museum – Museum of Fine Arts There's scaffolding around the Palace of Justice.  So, the Palace of Justice is behind bars.
I have no idea what is going on with these trees… SERIOUSLY, no idea.
I turned the corner to find a crowd gathered to gawk at a little boy peeing.

Manneken-Pis is the mascot of the city.  You find his image everywhere, from shirts

To larger than life sized chocolate statues

Here's the original Manneken-Pis

I knew that going to Brussels, I would need to get Cora something Smurfy.  After passing on the lunch box earlier, I found this Smurf shop right by



I mean, she dressed as a Smurf for Halloween when she was younger.

This is one time I wish I had some folding money on me.  But I had my charge card, she got some Smurfs.

I made my way back to the Grand Place…
To get some shots before the sun set.
Le Roy?  Is that you, Le Roy?  I didn't recognize you in the daylight.
And then I started wandering the side streets… just to see what I could see.
And to find more neon… and more neon…
and neon with the red filter… and terrifying hostage taking rabbits.
And this is Manneken-Pis's sister, Jeanneke Pis.  She's peeing in jail. But she seems happy about it.
She's actually located down this little alley Delirium Alley
Beer Planet.  Not Beer Asteroid.  Not Beer Moon.  Beer Planet. I found this cat highly disturbing…
And a little exciting. I have no idea what they show at this cinema.  Probably naked cowboys sitting around eating pudding.
"A La Mort Subite" – "A Sudden Death".  Like the beer from the night before.  Named after the last round of a dice game some patrons used to play on their lunch hour. Back at the Cathedral.  I a walking is circles around the Grand Place area.  Snapping as many pictures as I can before I lose my light.
Mooo!  Mooo!
As always, a few flowers for Cora And a few more for me.
Back in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert.  Le Pain Quotidien.  Appears that there's one in my old neighborhood now.

Now that's an Easter egg.  Hopefully not a Cadbury Creme Egg.  Imagine all that goo. 

Easter bread with rabbits baked into the crust. Belgian Waffles.  In Belgium.  They did not have Brussels Sprouts shops.
A nice jazz band grooving in Agora Square. Touching the mustache of Charles Buls, former mayor of Brussels.
I remember this place.  When I last visited about 25 years ago, the I was staying with my ex-girlfriend and her now ex-fiancée worked at that hotel at the time. There were some emotions here.  Echoes of the old jealousy/hurt, but mostly relief.  Cora was worth the wait.
That's some name. Some beautiful stained glass in a store window.
A guy playing the accordion on the far corner has a guy on the near corner dancing. I assume this means that it is okay to let your dog poop on the street.
So, I had lost my light and was getting hungry, so I decided after wandering around for a while that Falstaff looked like a good place to eat.

Until I noticed the sign that said "Only cash today!  Sorry"

Not having any cash, I kept walking, but not before taking a shot through the window.  And the guy sitting there was well aware that his picture was being taken.  And he was not happy about it.
Out in front of the Brussels Stock Exchange, looking up at the lions. It sits on the Place de la Bourse.  If this looks familiar, it was where Brussels gathered after the bombing.  Freaked me out a little when I saw it on the Today show and I realized I WAS RIGHT THERE!
These guys tried to sell me some "homemade" trinkets to help pay for their mission. I gave them a $1 (once again, no local currency).  Still need to email them this picture. Ended up eating at Raphael's Restaurant.  It was filled with these old religious statues.  I could not find restaurants for Donatello, Leonardo, or Michelangelo.
More inside on Raphael's. The staircase to the upper floor where the bathrooms were wound around and past this chandelier.
I think the book says, "Bathrooms that way". And a nice light (bot not "light") beer.
More neon.  I told you.  I fell in love with neon this trip. Maybe they have "Dogs Playing Polo"?
I'm not certain this guy makes me want to try your frites.

Mont des Arts – Clock says you better bet back to the hotel and get packing.

I think these kids are mocking me. Looking down the Mont des Arts toward the Grand Place.  Even though I needed to get back, I lingered for a few minutes.
Maybe that means something different in French or Flemish? I told the native French co-worker Lalie that this sign said, "Cheese Ball".
And now I feel like I'm in any mall USA.  But no Conan [LINK to blogpost] And one last blast of neon.

And with that, I called it a night.  Packed, Skyped with Cora, and prepared to have one of the longer days of my life as I chased the sun across the Atlantic.

This part of the trip involved passing through the Brussels Airport.  This is about 10 days before the bombing.  I remember as I was walking through the airport, I think I went through 4 different security checks, how safe I felt.  I didn't take many pictures inside.  There were a lot of serious people with their fingers not far from triggers.  I didn't want to draw any undo attention.  But, as best as I can tell, I walked within a few feet of where the explosions happened.  [Chills]

Back at Luxembourg Square, looking at the European Parliament. This old train station is actually the EU Parliament Information Office.
The fuschia squirrel was a little freaky. The statue of John Cockerill, a prominent British-Belgian 19th century industrialist in the center of the square.
Look who is creeping around behind the trees!  It's CORA!  It's a SIGN! And I'm at the airport, about ready for my flight home.
The "B" is supposed to look like a heart.  Their motto is "The Heart of Europe".  Luckily this play area was well aware of where the bombs went off.

It was a long flight back, but I entertained myself by watching Star Wars: Phantom Menace (fell asleep during it), Ant Man, Man of Steel (it turned me off from wanting to see Batman V Superman), Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  But even with that and all the ice cream sundae cart, I couldn't wait for the flight to get over.


Im Home

Cora was waiting for me.