Sunday, August 31, 2008

News of the Paranoid

It seems that the Russians believe that the recent events in Georgia were done to help one of the presidential candidates (guess which one):

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday that he had reason to think U.S. personnel were in the combat zone during the recent war in Georgia, adding that if confirmed, their presence suggested "someone in the United States" provoked the conflict to help one of the candidates in the American presidential race.

This is from a story in the Post. Putin goes on in the story to say:

"If my conjecture is confirmed, then it raises the suspicion that someone in the United States deliberately created this conflict in order to worsen the situation and create an advantage . . . for one of the candidates for the post of president of the United States," he said. "And if this is a fact, it is nothing other than the use of so-called administrative resources in a domestic political struggle, and in the worst, bloodiest form as well."
You do have to hand it to the Russians in coming up with something so off the wall. It reminds me of those thrilling days of yester-year when the Soviets were completely paranoid about anything the U.S. did. Seems what's old is new again.

What is of concern is is this just a reaction to what Georgia did (which was very foolish) or is this just a first step in recreating the old Soviet Union. Perhaps a better example would be the old Russian Empire with Putin playing Czar.

Not that the US can do much about it. We are spread far too thin. Our rhetoric sounds very tired ans shrill in light of what we've done in Iraq. All we can really do now is watch and wait and hope for the best.

News of the Weird

Here's something you don't happen on everyday. Day-0ld Emu chicks have been added to the list of acceptable poultry that can be mailed.

How exactly does one mail an Emu chick? Why would one want to mail one in the first place? What happens if they get lost in the mail?

As strange as it may sound there are actually regulations from the Post Office on poultry. Here they are:

9.3.2 Day-Old Poultry
Day-old poultry vaccinated with Newcastle disease (live virus) is nonmailable. Live day-old chickens, ducks, geese, partridges, pheasants (pheasants may be mailed only from April through August), guinea fowl, quail, and turkeys are acceptable in the mail only if:

a. They are not more than 24 hours old and are presented for mailing in the original unopened hatchery box from the hatchery of origin.

b. The date and hour of hatching is noted on the box by a representative of the hatchery who has personal knowledge thereof. (For COD shipments made by a hatchery for the account of others, the name or initials and address of the hatchery or the post office box number and address of the hatchery must be prominently shown for this standard.)

c. The box is properly ventilated, of proper construction and strength to bear safe transmission in the mail, and not stacked more than 10 units high.

d. They are mailed early enough in the week to avoid receipt at the office of address, in case of missed connections, on a Sunday, on a national holiday, or on the afternoon before a Sunday or holiday.

e. They can be delivered to the addressee within 72 hours of the time of hatching, whether the addressee resides in town or on a rural route or highway contract route.

f. The shipment bears special handling postage in addition to regular postage, unless sent at the First-Class Mail or Priority Mail rate.

g. When live, day-old poultry is to be transported by aircraft, all provisions of the airline tariffs are met and air carriers have equipment available to safely deliver shipments within the specified time limits, allowing for delays en route in air and ground transportation.

h. Day-old poultry, originally shipped by air express or air cargo and then presented for mailing, must be in First-Class condition and prepared as specified in 9.3.2a. through 9.3.2e.

i. Boxes of day-old poultry of about identical size, securely fastened together to prevent separation in transit, may be accepted for mailing as a single parcel, if such parcel is not more than 100 inches in length and girth combined.

So now you know what to do if you ever get that urge to mail Emu chicks.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

An Historic First

A fantastic speech Thursday night by Barak Obama. Once history in the making. Once again a candidate bringing a grand vision of what America can and should be. Also giving the details of how to achieve that vision.

It showed to me just how the great the differences are between the two candidates running for president. It showed me how very important electing Barack Obama president of the United States.

I thought of quoting the speech but the best thing to do is listen and watch it.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Podcast with Arthur on the State of the Race

My friend Arthur and I had another podcast on the election. We did this on Monday before the Democrats were going full force in their convention. You can listen to it here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Democrats Make HISTORY

Just a little while ago the Democratic Party made history. HISTORY!!!!

They nominated an African-American as a candidate to be President of the United States of America.

I'm very proud of my party and I've very proud of my country.

Here's how it went.

Coverage from the Post and USA Today.

What a speech!

Hillary Clinton gave the speech of her career last night. She talked about her quest for the presidency and all the people she met along the way. How she wanted to help those people. I wondered how she was going to pivot to tell her supporters it was time to help elect Barack Obama president. And then this passage:

I want you -- I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me, or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him?

Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids?

Were you in it for that young boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage?

Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?

We need leaders once again who can tap into that special blend of American confidence and optimism that has enabled generations before us to meet our toughest challenges, leaders who can help us show ourselves and the world that with our ingenuity, creativity, and innovative spirit, there are no limits to what is possible in America.

Wow! Could Clinton have made it any planer about who she was supporting and why. She challenged her supporters. She challenged them on the issues they care about. She challenged them to see if the person was more important than the issues together they’d been fighting for. Clinton answered that very clearly:

And even in the darkest moments, that is what Americans have done. We have found the faith to keep going.

I have seen it. I have seen it in our teachers and our firefighters, our police officers, our nurses, our small-business owners, and our union workers. I’ve seen it in the men and women of our military.

In America, you always keep going. We’re Americans. We’re not big on quitting.

And, remember, before we can keep going, we’ve got to get going by electing Barack Obama the next president of the United States.

I don’t think it could be said any better.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Down To The Mall Today

This is one of the reason I so enjoy living right in Washington, DC. I took the day off from work and headed down to the Mall. My goal was to go and see the exhibit on Afghanistan at the National Gallery. I hadn't planned much beyond that. I headed out around 9:30 so I could get to the gallery when it opened at 10.

It's now the end of summer and the huge crowds of tourists has started to fade. Many schools are back in session or about to be so there were not all that many families with kids. A large percentage of the tourists were foreigners.

The Afghan exhibit was very impressive. It was thought that many of these objects had been lost because of the recent wars and the Taliban. But curators at the National Museum in Kabul stole away many of these objects and they have just recently been re-discovered. They are truly precious.

Native American Museum

After the National Gallery I headed across the Mall to the National Museum of the American Indian. This has some great exhibits. It also has a lot of demonstrations in the main lobby area of the museum. If you are ever in DC you have to make sure you see it.

Walking to the Botanic Gardens

I haven't seem this area since it had been re-done. This was a very pleasant surprise. This is a really great place to see.

Orchids at the Gardens

The orchids at the Botanic Garden are some of the most incredible flowers that you'll see in the whole place.

More From the Botanical Garden

One Planet Ours!

This is a series of exhibits on the grounds of the Botanical Gardens. Lots of interesting stuff. There is also a series of lectures and classes as well. The topics range from Meals Fresh From the Garden to Botany from a Bee's Eye View to Butterfly Gardening. The focus of this exhibit from the Botanic Garden site:

Our much anticipated summer exhibition this year will focus on sustainability - not only how it applies to gardens and the landscape, but also how each of us and our communities can live for tomorrow, as well as for today. 'One Planet - Ours! Sustainability for the 22nd Century' will showcase garden displays on the Conservatory Terrace and interpretive and sculptural displays in the National Garden and Bartholdi Park. The U.S. Botanic Garden has once again invited other organizations from around the country to participate in the exhibition: 'One Planet - Ours!' will feature government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and individuals who are leading efforts toward sustainable lifestyles. Included are the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), U.S. Department of Energy, American Horticultural Society, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Longwood Gardens, National Wildlife Federation, and many more. Tying it all together will be "Cool Globes," an exhibit of more than 40 sculptures of "whole-earth" solutions to the problems of living unsustainably.

You can read more about it at their site.

Grant Memorial

This is the memorial to Ulysses Grant. Not to his presidency but to his service in the Union army. It is right across the street from the Capital.

Weighty Matters Again

I've reached another one of my goals regarding my weight. I'm now below 175. Well I should say I'm below 175 most of the time.

175 had been my floor for several months. It seemed no matter what I did I could never get below that. Now most of the time when I weigh myself I am below 175. The lowest I've been is 172.5 that was on my "official" weigh in day which is Saturday.

I've been reading conflicting arguments on whether you should weigh yourself each day. The argument for it is that you can spot a sudden increase in your weight and immediately take action to stop it. The other side say your weight fluctuates over the course of a day let alone a week. There recommendation is do it once a week. Do it the same time each week and that's a better way to compare how you're doing. I take that approach in that Saturday is my official recording day. I do jump on the scale a couple of time during the week just to see where I am. I usually do it when I haven't eaten all that well the previous day.

One thing would be very nice if you could target where you loose the weight. Unfortunately that's not possible if it was I'd have a flat stomach. But I'm going to start working on my stomach. Results offers a 15 minute ab class every half hour in the morning. I may see if I can get in early enough and take it before I have my training session on Tuesday. If not I'll start on Wednesday.

I had a really good workout yesterday. I woke up rather sore from it today which is a good sign. I take some of the exercises I did with Randy and rework them into my own workout. I have to say I think I did a very good job.

Today I'm going to take it easy. I have the day off so I'm going to go down to the mall and see some exhibits and hopefully have lunch with a friend.

Once again the weather is fantastic for August. It is a little warmer than the past few days and slightly more humid but still a fantastic day. I'm going to enjoy it!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Timetable But Not Really a Timetable

Well it seems there's deal for withdrawing American troops from Iraq by 2011. Interesting what Bush said on the subject in May of 2007:

"It makes no sense to tell the enemy when you plan to start withdrawing," he said last May. "All the terrorists would have to do is mark their calendars and gather their strength -- and begin plotting how to overthrow the government and take control of the country of Iraq. I believe setting a deadline for withdrawal would demoralize the Iraqi people, would encourage killers across the broader Middle East, and send a signal that America will not keep its commitments. Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure -- and that would be irresponsible."

But, from an administration that has become an expert at splitting hairs and seeing the world one way when everyone else sees it the exact opposite, this from Secretary Rice:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said Thursday in Baghdad, "We have agreed that some goals, some aspirational timetables for how that might unfold are well worth having in such an agreement." Her use of the term "aspirational" suggested that the timetables would be linked in some undisclosed way to the attainment of measurable progress in the security, political and perhaps economic fields.

Even it the timetable is aspirational (whatever the hell that means), it is still a timetable. It will be interesting to see what spin the Bush administration applies to convince people it is not a timetable. How exactly are they going to fool the terrorist into not knowing when the timetable says when American troops will be gone.

Dam Froomkin of the Post has a great story on the coverage of this story.

It's also interesting to see how McCain will spin this one. In his "what things would look like at the end of my first term" speech a few months ago McCain envisioned "winning" the war in Iraq. But troops would be out by 2013 which is two years after the Bush agreement calls for.

It looks much like what Obama is currently proposing as he said: 'They are working on a plan that looks, lo and behold, like the plan that I've been advocating. I will encourage the administration to move forward with it.'

Obama's overall draw down would be slightly quicker than the one in the Bush agreement but the agreement would move troops out of combat operations in Iraqi cities by next summer faster than envisioned by Obama.

So why the cave by the administration? Well I guess I should be charitable and say why the change of heart. It seems to me the Bush administration thought it could force down the throats of the Iraqis an agreement the Iraqis found completely intolerable. One has to wonder if this administration was a bit more forward thinking and flexible if such an agreement could not have been concluded much earlier.

It also seems the Prime Minister Maliki was playing to the home crowd when getting tough with America. There are regional elections in Iraq in the not too distant future and Maliki didn't want to appear to be America's stooge. Also the UN mandate allowing American troops to stay in Iraq expires at the end of the year. So time was running out.

Thankfully time is also running out on this administration something we can all be grateful for.

Sam Goes After His Food

This is one of Sam's favorite things to do. Whenever I buy his food I bring it home and leave the bag in the living room. Sam investigates the bad usually by sitting on it. He then proceeds to attack the bag. He'll go so far as to rip holes in it. The pictures show him going at it.

Sam is so strange. No wonder I love him so much.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bush Blames the Democrats

If it wasn't such a serious subject this would make you laugh. The reason for high gas prices according to our illustrious president is because of the Democrats. This from a story in USA Today:

President Bush on Saturday blamed the Democratic-led Congress for the high cost of gasoline and renewed his call for expanded offshore drilling to increase U.S. oil supplies.

"To reduce pressure on prices, we need to increase the supply of oil, especially oil produced here at home," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

Let's see who had majorities in both houses of Congress. Right that would be the Republicans. And that just so happens to be Bush's party. But somehow high gas prices are the fault of the Democrats.

Bush past up a great opportunity after 9-11 to rally this country. To ask for sacrifices. To end our addiction to foreign oil. But Bush passed on those opportunities. The fault is not the Democrats, Mr. President. The fault is yours for doing nothing when you had the chance of doing something.

Obama's Great Choice

Biden for Vice President. Obama made a great choice.

Biden is very much a guy that will speak his mind. He doesn't pull any punches. He will be a great asset to the ticket. This from the story in the Post about Biden's speech:

Biden said McCain--a longtime friend of his--has "yielded to the very Swift Boat politics he once deplored" during the course of the current race. And he made fun of McCain for being unaware of how many homes he owns, saying McCain cannot understand what struggling Americans discuss at their kitchen tables.

"He'll have to worry which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at," Biden said.

In characteristic language, Biden said some people accuse him of speaking too colloquially -- and then proceeded to do it some more.

"There's something about this guy, there's something about Barack Obama, that allows him to bring people together," Biden said. "It's been amazing to watch him, but then again, that's been the story of his whole life."

I think Obama and Biden will make a great team. They have the ability to reinforce each others strengths. While at the same time, the differences they have in style and experience benefit each other.

Most important the ticket is in place. Now it's time to go forward and win in November!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Election Unsettlement

I had the strangest dream last night. John McCain won the election.

So I guess you could say it was a nightmare more than a dream.

And the thing was somehow I was the reason McCain got elected. I cast the deciding vote. I used a voting machine but it didn't record my vote correctly. I kept saying over and over again that I voted for Obama not McCain.

I said this to anyone who would listen that I voted for Obama but the response I got was the machine can't be wrong. Of course in real life that wouldn't happen with an electronic voting machine. Or could it? (This from the Post.)

But in a more serious vein, I have to say I'm a little worried that McCain could indeed win. It seems his campaign feels they can't win on the issues so they'll smear Obama. Same old Rove tactics. I just hope this time around the public is a little smarter. Also that the media does its job and exposes these tactics for what they truly are.

In other news, it seems Obama has made his choice for his VP candidate but won't announce it until Saturday. As for McCain it seems Joe Liberman is a potential for his VP spot. All I can say isn't it time the Democrats run this hypocrite out of town. Maybe when they trounce the Republican in the Senate races in the fall Liberman can be dropped.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Dictator Leaves

As Franklin Roosevelt once said about a dictator: "Yes, but he's our bastard."

Well the US's bastard, Pervez Musharraf, has left Pakistan. Washington is now all in a tizzy about what will come next. Will the current civilian government in Pakistan continue the policies of Musharraf toward terrorism? But what exactly is Musharraf record against terror. This from a story in USA Today:

Critics such as journalist Ahmed Rashid, author of Descent Into Chaos, maintained that Musharraf was playing a double game all along. They said Pakistan's intelligence agencies secretly supported the Taliban or at least looked the other way while Taliban fighters launched attacks from safe havens in Pakistan against U.S. and NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan. And on Musharraf's watch, militants have seized power in tribal lands along the Afghan border and terrorized the nation with suicide attacks, including the one that killed former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December.

So our great big wonderful strongman in Pakistan who we supported with billions upon billions of dollars really wasn't that much of an ally after all.

One wonders when the US will learn from history. Learn that no matter what the short term gains we achieve by supporting a dictator in the long run we come up on the short end of the stick. Seems the Bush administration didn't learn that lesson.

Here's hoping the next administration will.

VP Talk Goes into High Gear

A week from today the Democratic Convention will open in Denver.

The speculation is now on whom Obama will pick as his VP. Part of that speculation has centered around Tim Kaine the governor of Virginia. So needless to say being this close to Virginia this story has gotten some press.

Virginia is one of the red states that the Democrats think they can turn blue. It certainly has been trending that way. The current governor is a Democrat. The previous governor was too. One of the senator's is as well. And in all likelihood come the fall the other senator will be a Democrat too. I still think getting Virginia in the blue column is a big if.

Also I Kaine doesn't have much experience at a national level. Obama needs someone that does. We've seen how McCain is going to go after Obama on this issue. So I don't see how Kaine helps to solve that problem.

The next logical question is who does.

Biden would be a good choice. He has a great deal of foreign policy experience. The draw back on him is he comes from Delaware. But I'm not so sure VP candidates can deliver states anymore. If you really think about it, the only VP candidate in recent history who did that was Johnson bringing Texas over to Kennedy. And that was close to 50 years ago.

So the speculation will continue until there is a winner. I have to assume a week from now we'll all know who it is.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Olympic Ads

I'm sitting here watching the Olympics. I've started noticing some of the ads that are running.

Both McCain and Obama are running ads. You seem to see more ads for McCain than Obama. The McCain ads have improved a little from the most famous person on the planet attack on Obama. The McCain campaign ran a second most famous person in the world earlier in the week. But now they are running ads that actually talk about what McCain is for. They emphasize how McCain is the original maverick and that he is ready to lead.

I think it is very debatable that McCain is the original maverick since he seems to be selling out right and left well mostly right I guess.

Both candidates ads center on energy and how to make the country energy independent. It gives me a little confidence that this time around there might really be a serious discussion on our addiction to foreign oil.

Another one of the ads is from GM. It talks about how you can get good fuel economy from an SUV. It touts one of their cars as getting 24 mile per gallon on the highway. This is supposed to be good gas mileage? Who are they kidding. Makes you hope that some of the ideas on energy from McCain and Obama's ads are introduced as soon as possible.

Of course there are all the ads for the terrible programs that are going to be on NBC this fall. I try to ignore most of them.

It's hard to believe that in a week the Democratic convention starts.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What A RACE!!!!

So I thought the swimming relay would be the most exciting event of the games. But no!

How do you measure one hundredth of a second? I can't even imagine how to figure out how short of amount of time that is. It was such the right way for Michael Phelps to win his seventh gold medal. Here's the coverage from USA Today and the Post.

"I saw so many quotes saying it's impossible to duplicate it, it won't happen, and it just shows you that really anything can happen," Phelps said of tying the record.

Later on NBC's coverage they had both Michael Phelps and Mark Spitz on to. I have to say Spitz was incredibly generous. I think he was genuinely pleased that Phelps broke his record. It was just a fantastic interview. Here are a couple of quotes from Sptiz:

"I wondered what I was going to say at this monumental time when it would happen and who I would say it to, and, of course, I thought I was going to say it to you for some time now. The word comes to mind: epic. What you did tonight was epic.

"I never thought for one moment you were out of that race. You represent such an inspiration to youngsters around the world.''

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tale of the Waistline

I decided to conduct a little experiment this morning. Since it is Friday, it is casual day at my office. I usually wear blue jeans. I wondered if from all my work outs if I'd really lost weight where it seems to matter most. Randy, my trainer, says that I look thinner. But it is hard for me to tell.

I thought I'd see if I could fit into any of my old jeans. I don't throw out clothes that don't fit me because I'm going to take them to Good Will or some other place so they can be used again. That's why I have a big pile of clothes that don't fit because I never get around to taking them anywhere.

The waist on my jeans now is a 36. Not too long ago I just about filled all 36 inches. Now, however, the pants are loose. I went into the wardrobe I have in my front bedroom and dug out some old jeans. I started with the jeans with the 32 inch waist. The waist size I was for years. I got them one but they were too tight. On to the next size 33 inch waist. They were too tight too. The nest size was 34 inch. They fit. But with the two pairs of jeans that were too tight I could button the button and zip up the zipper. At the beginning of this year I couldn't do either with those pair of jeans.

One other objective way of seeing that working out is really paying off.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Another Incredible Day

Another incredible morning in Washington. The high temperature today is supposed to be in the low 80s. Just fantastic weather for August well actually for anytime. Here are a few pictures I took this morning.

These snap dragons have begun to pop up all over the place. I'm not sure exactly how because I certainly did not plant any of them. I first noticed them growing under the back steps. They've also popped up in my flower baskets on the front porch and I noticed this guy yesterday.

In these two pictures Sam is on the hunt for some birds. He is ready to strike at his prey. He is ready to pounce and catch the helpless little bird. His body quivers all over. He is going to strike. The only small problem is there is a fence between him and the bird. So much for the great hunter. After awhile Same just rolls around in the dirt. Oh the life of a cat!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Trip to the Olympics

In 1996 I had the incredible pleasure of going to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta.

One of my friends had relatives that lived there. We talked about going on and off for about a year and finally we decided to go. There was a lottery for tickets. You could pick out the events you wanted to go to and hopefully get tickets. One of the choices was a baseball game and the other was a water polo match. In fact the water polo match was the match to decide the medals. Needless to say we picked the water polo matches.

The results for the bronze medal Italy beat Hungary 20 to 18. It was up to that time the highest scoring game in Olympic history. For the gold medal game Spain beat Croatia 7 to 5. In one of the games, I don't remember which one, one of the coaches was ejected. He then tried to coach the team via cell phone. That didn't last very long.

We got to see the medal ceremony too. Oh yes and Juan Antonio Samaranch, head of the International Olympic Committee, handed out the medals.

One final quick note we went to the Olympics the day after the bombing. I'll add a few more reminiscences over the course of these games

A Pass at Justice

No legal actions are going to be pursued on those wonderful Bush appointees that used political considerations to hire non-political positions. I know that comes as a big surprise. You can read more about it in the Post here.

This is the decision of Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey:

He told delegates to the American Bar Association annual meeting, "Not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime. In this instance, the two joint reports found only violations of the civil service laws."

Gee, only a violation of civil service laws. So nothing is going to happen to Monica Goodling and her partner in civil service violations D. Kyle Sampson. Guess they got a way with one. I do have to say I'm not sure what they could have been charged with. But, there should be some sort of punishment for politicizing career positions at the Justice Department.

At least the Democrats are not letting willing to settle for this:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said Mukasey "seems intent on insulating this administration from accountability."

The Vermont Democrat said Mukasey's remarks "appear premature based on the facts and evidence that congressional investigators and the inspector general have uncovered so far" in the hiring scandal. "We must continue to pursue the truth and facts, and hold any wrongdoers accountable," Leahy said.

I think the question has to be asked if these two bozos were acting on their own or if this was being orchestrated at a higher level. If you decide not to pursue and sort of charges, you loose any leverage you might have on these two to find out anything further.

If there is a silver lining, and it is a very slim one, Mukasey urged those who were not hired to apply for open positions in the Justice Department. Of course that doesn't mean they get those jobs. But at least they will have a level playing field as opposed to the one they had.

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

Oh what a beautiful day!

The weather here in Washington is just amazing for August 12. A quick happy birthday goes out to my brother. It is 66 degrees out right now. Another incredible day is in store for us. Mid 80s and low humidity.

Last night it was actually sort of cold in my house. Usually from about June until the end of August when I got to sleep I sleep on top of the comforter. Even with the air conditioning on I never seem to be cool enough. Well last night I woke up because I was cold and actually had to get under the covers. Wow!

So to start this wonderful Tuesday something to smile about. I guess the weather is something to smile about so this is to make your smile even bigger.

Oh what a beautiful morning . . .

Monday, August 11, 2008

Russia Expands

Russia it seems is on its way to taking over Georgia.

It seems Russia is flexing its muscles and ignoring the international community as Russia takes back something that was once theirs. As a quick aside doesn’t ignoring the international community have a familiar ring. Georgia has the only oil pipeline in that part of the world not controlled by Russia. Hmm finding a pretext for a war when what you’re really after is oil. Wow now there a sense of deja vu all over again.

But seriously folks.

This is something to be concerned about. The questions does have to raised is this the first step by Mr. Putin (the realy power in Russia not Dmitry Medvedev the “president” of Russia) in reassembling the Soviet Union. But of course Mr. Bush has looked into his soul and could trust Putin. Here’s the latest on the Russian offensive.

This is a great quote:
Zbigniew Brzezinski tells Nathan Gardels of “The United States, particularly, shoulders the major burden of mobilizing an collective international response. This invasion of Georgia by Russia is a very sad commentary on eight years of self-delusion in the White House regarding Putin and his regime. Two memorable comments stand out. First, when Bush first met Putin and said he looked into his soul and could trust him. Second, not long ago, Condi Rice claimed that American relations with Russia have never been better in history!”

What can the U.S. do? Not all that much. There’s very little pressure that we can put on Russia. Bush is trying:

“I am deeply concerned by reports that Russian troops have moved beyond the zone of conflict,” Bush said. “It now appears that an effort may be underway to depose Georgia’s duly elected government.”

Bush also said recent actions by the Russian military, including a drive into civilian areas and alleged plans to bomb the airport in Tbilisi, “would be inconsistent with assurances that we have received from Russia that its objectives were limited.’’
But words are about all the Bush can use against Russia. If Russia wants to take Georgia there's very little that can be done to stop them. Bush once promised the people of Georgia:

The path of freedom you have chosen is not easy, but you will not travel it alone. Americans respect your courageous choice for liberty. And as you build a free and democratic Georgia, the American people will stand with you.
I'm sure the people of Georgia are wondering when America will stand with them.

What a Race

What an incredible race last night (I guess I should say Monday morning) in the men's swimming 4 x 100 relay. It brought me to the edge of my seat. It should what the Olympics is all about. And it was great that the Americans won. Here's a story about it from USA Today. This from the Post. Here's a great piece from Sally Jenkins in the Post.

Finally a few photos.

Wonderful Day

Yesterday was just fantastic.

The weather was unbelievable!

And this is August in Washington, DC when you are supposed to be baking.

Looks like today will be another great day (too bad I have to go to work). It also looks like the whole week is going to be like this.


Here are a few more pictures from my trip to the Mall yesterday.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Muppets

I went and saw the Muppet exhibit at the Smithsonian today. It points out one of the joys of living in Washington and the is the access you have to all the museums and the fantastic exhibits that are there. This was one of them.

The exhibit starts with his early career of local television in the Washington area and the hysterical commercials he made for Wilkins Coffee. Here are a couple of examples.

Then there was this funny commercial for La Choy which I have to say I remember.

It was interesting to see the actual story boards for the commercials and then see the actually commercial. There was almost no difference at all.

Henson's early work is probably not as well know as his later. But it is very cutting edge. The Wilkins Coffee commercials are great. They are also very short so a great deal was packed into a short amount of time.

Then of course you come to Sesame Street and the Muppet Show. I loved the Muppet Show. It used to come on on Saturday nights. It was early enough in the evening that we usually watched it while eating dinner. My brother and father really didn't like it very much but my mom and me loved it. Here are a couple of funny clips from the show.

There was also props from the Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. It was a really great exhibit. It was also interesting to see a whole range of people there from the very young to the very old. All of them were laughing. Here's a story about it from the Post.

To close here's Kermit:

Friday, August 08, 2008

0808 Let the Games Begin

The start of the Olympics.

Usually I’d be really excited. I’d be all set to sit down for the next two weeks glued to my TV to watch as much of it as possible. I’d be going through sleep depravation to see all the event live. Staying up until midnight and maybe even beyond. I’d have the DVD recorder all set to record them. I’ve been recording the Olympics since 1984. First on Beta unfortunately not all of the tapes made it over to VHS. Now on DVD.

But this time around I have to say I’m not all that interested.

I’ll watch but not with a great deal of enthusiasm. The main reason is I think it is completely wrong that the International Olympic Committee awarded them to China. To me it is just a bad idea. You can start with the struggle over the air quality. To the relocation of people to build the venues. To, and this is the most important thing, the Chinese record on human rights. Tibet comes to mind. The support of Sudan. The totally ridiculous action of revoking Joey Cheek’s visa by the Chinese government because he is such a threat to China. The American team responded by naming Lopez Lomong, one of the Sudanese “Lost Boys” and a member of the anti-genocide group Team Darfur to be the American flag bearer.

The equally ridiculous contention by the Chinese government that the Olympics is no place for politics when that is exactly what the government is using it for. What they mean to say, but can’t, is that there is no place for politics in the Beijing games if the politics in any way shape or form criticizes China.

So will I watch? Yes I will because I really enjoy the Olympics. Because I had the great pleasure of attending the Olympics in Atlanta and it truly is a spectacle. But I have to say I won't be as enthusiastic this time around.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

What I Don't Have

Two weeks ago I went to the dermatologist to have him look at a mole I had. I'd had it for a while but decided it was time for someone to take a look. I'd gone to my regular doctor and he referred me to the dermatologist.

The dermatologist did an exam from top to bottom of me looking at my moles. I learned some interesting things. He said most people worry about flaps of skin that protrude from their body. He said that those are never skin cancer. Skin cancer occurs in moles that are flat to the skin. Also you either have skin cancer or you don't. There is no in between. Everyone thinks that skin cancer will show up on skin that is exposed to the sun but 40% of skin cancer is in places where the sun don't usually shine.

After the exam he focused on the mole I pointed out. He said it was probably fine but would do a biopsy on the mole. So, after he did the biopsy, I asked what happens if it comes back positive. Do I come back? He said he'd already removed the mole. Shows you how well I was paying attention. He said in all likelihood it was a non-regular mole and I'd have nothing to worry about.

Then he went over things I needed to look out for. A change in size of the mole. A change in color in the mole. That can mean the mole can get darker in color or it can lighten in color (something I never knew). Moles that are irregular in shape.

Finally he said the biopsy results take five to seven days. Also he only calls with bad news. I haven't heard from him so I'm fine just a non-regular mole.

Below is the pamphlet he gave to me. It gives a great deal of very useful information. Click to see the image larger.

One thing I forgot to ask was how often should a doctor do a top to bottom exam of your moles. I'm going to make sure the next time I go to my doctor I ask.

But the important thing is I'm fine.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Working Out, Working Out Some More and . . .

Tuesday was a big day for working out. There's a guy who teaches a spinning class at Results. I used to take a class with him a Bally's like ten years ago. His class is at 6:30 am on Tuesdays. Tuesday is of course one of my personal training days with Randy. This Tuesday my session with Randy was at 8 am. It occurred to me that I could do both in the morning.

The spinning class is 45 minutes long. I'd get out of it at 7:15. I could take a shower change into my work out clothes and have a little over half an hour before the training session. I decided I'd go ahead. I figured the worst that could happen is I'd be totally wiped out by it and never do it again. The one funny thing was the the spinning instructor was out on Tuesday so there was a sub. She was very good.

Randy saw me taking he spinning class. Later he kiddingly said it was sort of a slap in the face that I was taking the spinning class before our training session. He said he would have to make this session a real challenge. As if he'd have to try to do that with any training session we have.

We did upper body and abs. We did the bench press as one of the chest exercises. I never realized that the bar that holds the weights is 45 pounds. It doesn't feel that heavy. Anyway I did much better than the last time I did this. I think I lifted more weight but my form was much much better. I did well on the other exercises too. I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable workouts I've had with Randy. It was dare I say it fun. In fact I'd say I really look forward to the training session. I know they are going to be hard but I know they are really pushing me.

Randy says I'm making very good progress. He asked how much weight I've lost and I said around 10 pounds. He says it looks like I've taken more than that off. I know I fit into more pants than every before and some of them are way too big. I've noticed I have muscles in my arms and I also have much more stamina. Finally my balance has improved too. It still has a way to go but I'm working on that.

So what better way to celebrate my accomplishments but another workout session. Randy taught a TRX class tonight. There are a couple pictures of what it looks like below. Also here's a general description of how the TRX works:

Vector Resistance employs gravity and simple geometry to convert the user’s own body mass into weight experienced as resistance. At the most practical level, this means that the more you lean your body onto the TRX System, the greater the difficulty of each exercise. With the TRX System’s Vector Resistance technology, users can adjust the difficulty of any exercise simply moving the position of their arms, feet or body angle, instead of needing to change the pin or reach for another set of dumbbells.

The class lasted about 50 minutes just like a training session. There were five of us. It was hard. Randy really put us through a tough and very thorough workout. I know I can speak for myself that I was pretty wiped out by the end. There is a nearly limitless number of exercises you can do with the TRX. You can use it for both upper and lower body. With the right trainer you really get a great workout and that's exactly what Randy gave us.

Tomorrow is Thursday and it's right back to Results for another training session. I just hope by the end of tomorrow I'll still be able to put one foot in front of the other.