Cape May Journal

Tuesday, July 17 I’m always up by 7. This morning, on my jaunt for coffee and newspapers, I was accompanied as usual by the sounds of hundreds of purple martins (lavendarius deanus). They live in four-story-high houses erected on the property, and not a mosquito or other biting insect is to be seen. The only downside is a degree of gregariousness usually reserved for class reunions. There is an early morning parade on the four or five miles of elevated …


Cape May Journal

Monday, July 16 I’m up early watching the fog burn off. Two pelicans circle, unusual visitors here. The dolphins are active already. The birds no doubt figure that if there are dolphins congregating, there are fish. Whale and dolphin-watching boats soon arrive to hover around the mammals. Ineluctably, the boats annoy the dolphins (and I’m sure scare away the fish on which they are feeding) so, guess what, the dolphins leave and the boats depart to follow the dolphins (or …


Observations of My Mentor

Famous lines from the lovely Maria: 1. To a woman flirting with me at a convention, while Maria was standing next to me: “Save your breath, Alan prefers women with less facial hair than he has.” 2. To a woman protesting my gag introduction that I’m afraid to go to North Dakota, on the basis that it is derogatory to her, as a North Dakotan: “Then why don’t you leave and give your seat to someone else in this standing-room-only …


Cape May Journal

Sunday July 15, 2007 Maria was wondering if we’d see the dolphins which hang around off the shore, since we’re a mile farther south than prior years. “Do you think they look up, spot Decatur Avenue, and say, ‘Oh, oh, time to turn around!’?” I asked. She was not amused. But they did show up in force, feeding on small fish which threw themselves into the air attempting to escape the threat. The dolphins slide rhythmically to the surface and …


Cape May Journal

Saturday, July 14 Like great white herons migrating to ancestral homes in Patagonia, Maria and I are making our annual pilgrimage to the Jersey Shore (other states have beaches, Jersey has a shore). The Bentley easily breaks our prior record through New Haven as it shoots south through four states, passing the stomping grounds of the Sopranos, the alleged burial site of Jimmy Hoffa, and the casinos of Atlantic City. We keep the top up, since it’s 90 degrees, until …


Poolside

I have a huge robot that cleans our 75,000-square-foot outdoor pool. It is so sophisticated that it memorizes its path, works for six hours at a time, climbs the walls to scrub up to deck level, and can shoot down low-flying birds. I love it, and it’s in my will. However, it can’t negotiate a series of steps to get into the pool, and it’s not appropriate to launch it for spot cleaning jobs. So I was overjoyed to purchase …


Fernando (And Why Being Is Not Becoming)

I’m at the National Speakers Association convention in San Diego. After arriving four hours late last night, I decided I’d better be there this morning for the opening general session. As the lights dimmed, we were greeted by a woman who intoned long off-pitch chants, looking as though she were enduring a painful dentist’s visit. She did this for ten minutes, asking the audience to stand and join in the intonations, which, being speakers, nearly everyone dutifully did. She informed …


The Anti-Consultant

One day I’m sitting in a large manufacturing organization—Fortune 100—waiting to see a colleague about some work we’re doing for a non-profit board. I was sitting in an area of open cubicles, where you could readily see what was going on from one human burrow to the next. Two people next to me (I overheard) were awaiting a consultant who was going to “pitch” to them a new team building “package.” This, I thought, was better than reading the week-old …


The Sorry State of the Airlines

I’m flying to San Diego, first class, on USAir. Except it’s not USAir, it’s a United airplane, because they are “code sharing.” That means that two airlines are working to fill one plane to the brim, which they have. (It also means that neither airline’s web sites will allow you to print a boarding pass in advance. Brilliant AND customer-friendly.) On time to Chicago, the San Diego connecting flight is listed as “delayed” with no gate or other information. I …


Wildlife

Our pond here is about two acres, fed by a small river, with an outlet over a waterfall that leads to the bay a half-mile away. Today, alone, aside from the usual geese and ducks, we had a double-breasted cormorant, two river otters, and an eagle. I wonder what I’m missing when I’m not looking!