Sunday, February 26, 2017

Snow Sculptures at Fur Rondy

Photo by Bill Roth /  Anchorage Daily News
Fur Rondy (short for rendezvous) is the annual winter festival in Anchorage, where residents fight cabin fever with activities like the snowshow softball, the running of the reindeer, and outhouse races. There are other activities too, like hockey, sled dog races, and a poker tournament.

My favorite event in Fur Rondy as always been the snow sculptures. The frozen equivalent of sand castles, snow sculptures are, by their very nature, temporary. Beautiful, whimsical, or just funny, they’re created solely for the enjoyment of the artists and passersby. To bring a smile.

Like the bloom of a daylily or a rainbow, their short life is part of their charm. It's easy to put off going to the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty. They'll always be there, after all. But come spring, that snow sculpture will be gone forever, so we'd better enjoy while we can. They encourage us to live for today.

What temporary pleasures have you experienced lately?

Update: 2017 Snow Sculptures from GCI on Facebook: Love the T-Rex and the Mouse

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Voice of Experience

"Momma always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

Note to Forest Gump: Check under the lid.

Experience may be the best teacher, but sometimes she's a hard one. Fortunately, we don't have to make every mistake ourselves. Thank God for parents, teachers, writers, preachers, colleagues, friends, and mentors who share their knowledge and experience so that the rest of us don't have to get second degree burns to find out the stove is hot.

Of course, sometimes we're too stubborn to listen to the wisdom of those who have gone before. We've just gotta touch that stove. And once in a while, we discover the stove isn't so hot after all. In fact, it's quite managable if we take certain precautions. Just because someone gives us a piece of advice doesn't mean it's right, or right for us. That's how we gather the experience to pass down to the next generation.

Here's a piece of information I've shared younger relatives when they're ready to make their own way into the world. Suppose Earlybird invested $3000 a year in an index fund from age 25 to 35, and then stopped. Latebloomer waited until age 35 to start investing $3000 a year and continues until age 65. Guess who had the most money at age 65? Yep. Even though Earlybird only invested $30,000 and Latebloomer invested $120,000, Earlybird had more, due to the magic of compounding.* 

Now my father was a Depression baby. He didn't trust the stock market. Would his grandchildren be better off investing in CDs like he did, or taking my advice and putting their money into an S&P index fund? Time will tell. 

I guess the takeaway is to listen, learn, and weigh the advice carefully. We each have to make up our own minds about whether the stove is worth touching. But there's no reason nut haters should have to bite into a cashew chew by accident when there's a map right there on the candy box lid.

Do you have a piece of advice you've either found valuable or are glad you ignored? 

*I'd love to credit the book where I first read this but alas, its title is lost in the mists of time. It's probably still on a library shelf somewhere.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Road Tripping Dreams

Have you ever gone to a favorite restaurant and been torn between ordering your favorite item on the menu and trying something new? That's how I feel when it's time to plan vacations. Spend more time in those places we loved or see someplace new?

These are the states I've visited.

It looks like I've seen a lot of the United States, but  the map is deceptive; I've spent my life in the big states. Other than Disney World in Florida and Washington, DC, I've never seen the East Coast and somehow never made it to California. I have changed planes in Minnesota, New Jersey, and Oregon, but airports don't count. (Although Portland airport included an excellent meal and the view of sailboats, so it's almost a visit). And I suppose I was technically in Virginia during that trip to DC. So officially, I've touched land in half the states.

I've seen the wide-open spaces of Big Bend in Texas, the stalactites and stalagmites in Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and incredible rock formations in Sedona, Arizona and Bryce Canyon in Utah. We honeymooned in Yellowstone, hiked in Montana, snorkeled in Hawaii, and raised a family in Alaska. I love spending time in all these places.

But, I've never seen the autumn leaves in New England. I've never been to Gettysburg, or Williamsburg, or Charleston. I've never visited the San Diego Zoo, or the La Brea Tar Pits, or the redwoods. Then there's Hoover Dam, and the City of Roses, and New Orleans. And that's just off the top of my head.

And there's a whole world out there. I've only visited five countries outside the United States, and there are at least a dozen more I'd like to see. In fact, it won't be long before travel isn't limited to this world. Space tourism is coming.

So if I'm going to fit all those amazing trips into one lifetime, I'd better start planning some trips. How about you? Where are you planning to travel this year?