Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Odds and Ends

Workout Success
The success with the workouts continues. In both training sessions last week, I did things six months ago I would not have been able to do.

With Shawn, I’m noticing that I’m able to lift more weight and do more reps at a higher weight. The same if true with my sessions with Ed. I was also able to do 10 chin ups in a row without stopping. Also doing much better on the hand stands. Ed also said that in general I move much better than I’ve ever done. I have a much better sense of balance. I also notice that if I just do an exercise instead of thinking about I end up doing it much better completing it.

So training continues to go well.

How late are you open?
That sounds like a fairly easy question to answer. When I got the call from the vet to bring in Sam as soon as possible, I left work early and went home. I got home around 3:30. I was concerned that the vet might close at 5. Finding a parking place around DuPont Circle can be a challenge especially around rush hour. I decided to find out when they closed.

So I gave them a call. This should have been a quick conversation but well it wasn’t. The guy who answered asked if I was coming in to buy something or for an appointment. I said I was dropping off my cat as I was told to do by the vet. Oh and what was I dropping the cat off for. I couldn’t come up with “hydration” quickly enough. The guy puts me on hold. I believe he talked to the vet.

He comes back on the phone and says the sooner I can get Sam in the better. I’m thinking that would be accomplished much quicker if you could answer my question. So again I ask how later they are open. He says well the vet is in until late; their last appointment is around 7:20. Finally, I stop this guys babbling and say I just need to know if you guys close at 5 or are open until 8. I think at this point he finally go the point of what I was asking. He gave a little laugh and said at 8. I said thanks and I’d be right over. I wanted to say too bad you couldn’t have told me this like 10 minutes earlier because I could have been over that much quicker.

Open Houses
I still like to go to open houses on Sundays. It's a great way to get out of the house and to go for a nice walk. It's also fun to see what houses are going for.

This past Sunday I went and saw two houses. One was $369,000 the other was $325,000.

The more expensive one is described as charming 3 bedroom, 2 bath and hardwood floors. Charming? No there was nothing charming about this house at all. It was a complete and total dump. The second bath was in the basement. When I say basement I mean the old fashioned sense of the word. Completely unfinished. It was one large room. And the bathroom. Well in the one large room was a toilet, a sink, and a shower stall. That was the second bathroom. Kitchen was not very big with little or no counter space at all. The bedrooms were small. It had an attic as well. It had window unit air conditioners. Easily you'd have to spend another 50 grand to get thing into shape.

The less expensive one was fantastic. Now it is a little further away from the center of Brookland which is something to take into consideration. I'm not sure how easy it would be to walk to the Metro but you could take a bus. Now it only had two bedrooms and one bath. In the kitchen band new appliances. It was a little small. Central air. A nice unfinished basement that pretty easily could be converted into another room. Two very nice bedrooms. It has a fairly large yard with space in back to park two cars. Very nice place.

This just proves the age old real estate adage of location location location. But here's my adage a dump is still a dump no matter where it is.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sam is Ailing

Sam stopped eating sometime last week. It took me a couple of days to notice. He wasn't touching his dry food at all. In a trip to the vet last fall, I was told several of Sam's teeth needed to be taken out. At the time, I wasn't all that keen on the idea. He was 14 years old then. He was in good health. Why put him through all that.

Well it seemed now the time had come to do the work. I took Sam to the vet on Sunday. The vet said asked if Sam would walk up to his food dish and then sort of wince. I said yes. The vet said it was time for the teeth to come out. They took some blood and urine to do tests on and then forward them to the oral surgeon. I was given a pain killer which would help the lessen the pain and allow him to eat more. Let me say the medicine smell was terrible. I can only imagine what it tasted like. I gave Sam some and he tried very hard to get it out of his mouth. He ended up literally foaming at the mouth. But he did seem able to eat more food.

This morning I called the oral surgeon. One of the surgeons actually answered the phone. We set up an appointment for Friday at 9am. They do an initial consultation and then the surgery. All I had to wait for was the results of the blood work.

That came back this afternoon. It was not good news. Essentially, Sam's kidneys are not working correctly. They are not filtering out the bad stuff and then letting Sam pee it out. I had to take Sam back to the vet. They are going to hydrate him and see what happens. Most likely there won't be any surgery. Some of the anesthesia used can put a strain on the kidneys which is the last thing you'd want to do. Also Sam has a heart murmur which adds to the problem. Sam will probably be at the vet for at least two days.

I'm not sure what the next steps are going to be. The vet talked about a lot of potential scenarios. One would be to some how "get around" the teeth issue and not do the surgery. It might also involve doing home hydration a couple of times a week. This is where I would put an IV in him and hydrate him. I was told it is sort of like dialysis. The thing is I'm one person I'm not sure how easy it would be for me to do this. Like I said lot so scenarios and lots to think about.

I'm hoping I can go and visit Sam tomorrow.

Here are a series of pictures of Sam I took using the sport mode on my digital camera. He's doing one of the things he loves the most: sitting in the sun in HIS chair in the room off my bedroom.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Smile

The Beauty of Brookland

This was a Sunday that was supposed to be full of all sorts of rain. The morning was overcast but around noon or so the sky started to clear. I went out for a walk to look at some open houses something I still like to do. Along the way I took these pictures.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

2Political Episode 28

2Political Podcast Episode 28 is now available. You can listen to it on the widget on the right side of my blog, or you can go the podcast site, 2political.com. You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode.

We had a lot of things come up that kept us from podcasting sooner. It happens. After a basketful of Special Days, we talk about the teabagger and gun-nut rallies in and near Washington, DC. That leads to a general discussion of the intellectual bankruptcy of the teabagger right and the Republican Party in particular, including their “chickens for checkups” candidate. We also talk a bit about presidential appointments, with a Supreme Court nominee to be announced soon. A phone comment and written comment let us expand on topics a bit more.

Please leave a comment (anyone's welcome—agree or disagree!), or you can ring the 2Political Comment line on 206-350-3982.

Link for this episode:
Militia movement will be packing heat at gun rally on the Potomac.
When education is missing – Arthur’s blog post that he mentioned, on the New Left Media video on teabaggers.
Cow Chip Festival.
Jason’s Blog
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Metro Musings

It’s hard not to do that when you’re on the subway twice a day at least five days a week.

I had another problem in the commute home the other day. Monday, I ran a quick errand after work and then went to Metro Center, my usual stop. There was some train that had gone out of service. And so although trains were running it took some time for them to get to Metro Center. This of course meant that the first couple of trains were packed with people. I just took a seat on a bench and read my book. I let a couple more trains go by before I decided to make an attempt to get on one. I let another pass (way too many people) and got on the next one. I was about half an hour late getting home.

Tuesday I went to the library before going home. It was a little later in the day when I was coming home so there were more people on the train. The first train in had one car that didn’t have any people in it. There was obviously something wrong with the car. I let that one pass. Got on the next one without any problem. We stopped in the tunnel before Union Station. The operator informed us that the train in front of us had to off load. Took us a few minutes to get to Union Station. Once there everyone on the platform decided that this train was the one they had to get on. It was very obvious that not everyone was going to be able to fit on the train. But that didn’t stop people from trying. The car got very packed very fast. Thankfully I only had two more stops to go.

Three times a week I head out to the gym early in the morning. I’m usually at the Rhode Island stop right around 6am. I’ve noticed that timing between cars is different they if I leave at my normal time of 8am. What Metro does early in the morning is run two cars fairly close together. Around 4-5 minutes apart. Then the next train is at least 10 minutes or more. That’s not the spacing at 8. Then you usually have a 5-6 minute wait between each train. Sometimes it’s even a little less. I don’t understand why there are two versions so to speak of the morning rush hour schedule.

One final thing to note. On one of my early mornings there was an announcement that started first time riding Metro. I think to myself this seems a little early 6am to running that type of announcement.

And those are my Metro musings.

Gratuitous Pictures of Sam

I thought it was time to post some gratuitous pictures of Sam. The last one of him seems to sum up what he thought of the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Crazier Than the Tea Partiers

Hard to believe that there is a group of people even further to the right and even more crazy than the Tea Party but there is.

The Tea Party showed up last week here in DC to protest tax day. It's funny how these people didn't seem to have any problem with this when George Bush was president.

Well now we have a group rally to "push back" against those people who according to one of these groups:

Each time these revolutionists of gradualism against the Founders' Republic took another bite out of the Constitution and shoved us back from the natural exercise of our God-given and inalienable rights, we have backed up, grumbling. We have not shoved back."

Check them out here.

So some of these groups rallied on the Mall others went to a National Park in Virginia where they carried loaded weapons. This was to exercise their rights of carrying weapons on National Park land. This was recently passed into law.

Some of the groups included Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership and Oath Keepers. More on the Oath Keepers in an upcoming post. I will just say that I learned about the Oath Keepers because a guy at my gym had a t-shirt from the organization on.

They picked yesterday because it is the anniversary of Lexington and Concord. They were not celebrating the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

But a little more on the above quote. The local media interviewed a guy at the Mall demonstration. He said just about the same thing. A couple things he sited as erosions of our rights over the last 70 years was Social Security and Medicare. How exactly is Social Security an erosion of anyone's rights? For some people Social Security is their income for retirement. Someone needs to explain to me how that is a bad thing.

I will say that Oath Keepers pulled out of the protests saying:

"There are people out there willing to do anything to create chaos in an uncontrolled situation, and [the event] is wide open for disaster."

And another stated:

Organizers of another April 19 rally, the Second Amendment March at the Washington Monument, want it known that they have nothing to do with the Restore the Constitution muster. "We are a peaceful, law-abiding group that will follow all local and federal laws," the march organizers' Web site says. "That group is a separate entity entirely and is not at all associated ..."

So maybe there are some saner people out there. But again the rehtoric coming from these rallies is about "taking back America" "pushing back" against people. "Restoring the Constitution and democracy." How exactly do they intend to do that? Is it through the electoral process? If they don't get the result they want this fall, what will they do then?

Tuesday Treat

So we all got through Monday. That's something to smile about and so is this.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Remember the stimulus

You remember that. The legislation passed in what now seems like a decade ago but was really just a little over a year ago. Haven’t heard hardly anything about it. I saw this interesting article about it.

It’s about the the stimulus helped out an area in South Carolina

“I am convinced it’s what kept Aiken’s economy stronger than most communities during these poor economic times,” said David Jamison, president of the chamber of commerce in that solidly Republican city just north of the nuclear facility. “I think it has worked exactly like the way Washington had in mind. ... I see it every single day.”

Yet the Republicans in the state could not say out right this was a good thing.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who didn’t support the stimulus and has called the effort a failure, said he’s worried the massive influx of cash won’t be properly managed. He also has warned of looming higher taxes that he says could shutter the businesses the package was supposed to help.

At least he was able to admit:

“The fact that the stimulus created some economic activity in that area is a good thing,” Graham said.

I don’t have any problem with questioning where things are going to go once the stimulus money has run its course. But it seems to me a little more enthusiasm is warranted. As the guy from the chamber said it is doing exactly what the Obama administration said it would do.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Nuclear Summit

It certainly turned DC on its head. This was true when it came to the re-routing of traffic especially around where I worked.

Besides bringing in heads of states from all over the world, what did it accomplish. It was interesting that in my spinning class on Wednesday we talked about the traffic and what, if anything, was gotten of it. Several people said it was just a bunch of words and people would go back to their respective countries and just forget about everything.

I don’t think that that is a fair assessment. Some very positive things did come out it:

The first tangible results of the summit came as Obama held a series of meetings with foreign leaders, including Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who announced Ukraine would get rid of its stockpile of highly enriched uranium by 2012.

The move by Kiev is designed to make it harder for terrorists to get hold of nuclear material. Ukraine will also convert its civil nuclear program to operate on low-enriched uranium, Yanukovich said.

Any nuclear material that can come under lock and key as in away from the bad guys is a move in the right direction.

As for security, well it was impressive. I work a couple of blocks from the White House. There were fences placed along New York Avenue from the White House to the Convention Center where the summit was held. There were National Guard trucks on every corner usually at least two sometimes three. There were also National Guard troops on every corner. Police cars and police like you wouldn't believe. There were even two in the lobby of my gym on Monday and Tuesday. I haven't seen security this tight since 9/11. The interesting thing was that by Wednesday morning everything was gone. Almost like it never happened.

I think in the end it was a good attempt by the Obama administration.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Kalb Report: Rupert Murdoch

The final Kalb Report was last week. And they pulled out all the stops by landing Rupert Murdoch. Actually Murdoch was supposed to be in a program in February but all the snow delayed it to April.

It was a very interesting program. It was interesting to see his take on where he thinks newspapers will go. He thought the iPad might save newspapers (he even had one with him). He thought this will make delivery of content to people much easier. He also talked about how at some point papers will have to start charging people for content. He implied that maybe some things will be free while you might have to pay for other things. Murdoch was using the Wall Street Journal as an example. (Kalb at one point asked if he wanted to see the New York Times destroyed. Murdoch posed and then said no. More on that later.) He also said that places like Google and Yahoo news which had stories from the Journal are going to have to pay for content. Or have just the headline and then a link to the Journal story.

There’ve been several stories in the news lately that the Journal is going to be taking on the New York Times. In a couple of weeks the Journal will start covering local news in New York. This lead to a series of questions about Murdoch’s views on the New York Times. He said the Times definitely has a point of view. He added you can see that by reading the front page of the paper. He said the Times is a pretty liberal paper and the Journal was going to try and balance that out.

This of course lead to a discussion about Fox News. There were a couple of questions about it in the Q&A after the show. He thought Fox was fairly balanced. That it had Democrats on as commentators. Although he couldn’t name any. But to be fair, he’s not running Fox News on a day to day basis so why should he know that. But he didn’t really acknowledge that Fox tilts to the right. Some would even say to the far right.

Murdoch told a very interesting story about his father, Keith Murdoch. Keith Murdoch was a war correspondent and covered the Gallipoli campaign in the First World War. He reported on the command structure and just how bad things were going there. This started a process of calling for the withdrawal of forces and an investigation to the invasion.
This was part of a discussion on if it is a good idea to have journalist embedded with troops. Can the journalist keep their objectivity. Murdoch said he thought people could. Murdoch said there was a great deal of censorship of war correspondents but that all changed with Viet Nam.

Murdoch was very interesting. And made some very interesting points on where the future of news and especially the direction print media specifically newspapers were going. It was a great ending to this season of the Kalb Report.

Here’s a little about his appearance on the Kalb Report from a article from Vanity Fair.

Here’s something from the Daily Colonial

One final story from Guardian from England

Also there were several people that sat behind me that had lap tops and were typing every word Murdoch was saying.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Video from Ed and Jennifer's Trip to Florida

Here is some video that my brother, Ed, shot on the recent trip Jennifer and he took to Florida. Some very neat stuff.

Sunday Smile

It is just a wonderful sunny Sunday. Absolutely amazing. Not as hot as it was on Thursday when it got close to 90 degrees. This is just a great day. A little bit of a breeze. Perfect.

And here's something also that's perfect a Sunday smile from Peanuts. Here Linus gets his first library card. Click on the image for a better view.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Incredible progress with training sessions

This really hit home with the session today. First off the times been changed to 6:30 so Ed can work in another client at 7:30. It means I really have to have my act together Friday morning to get there on time. It was actually no problem.

I started out with hand stands. I haven’t done these in a while but was able to get off one very good set. Next it was fun with the Bosu Ball which you can see.

I stood on it and then took a weight bar placing it at waist level. I then proceeded to do a squat. I then stood up and pushed the bar up over my head. While I held the bar over my head, I rotated to one side and then did another squat. I did 20 of these in each of two sets. The main thing is that I was able to maintain my balance through most of it. If I done these six months ago, I’d been falling off the ball after ever try. I was very surprised I was able to do it. The second set I did even better.

The next thing was pull ups. I’ve never been very good at these. But today I was able to do ten in a row. I did each one individually. Jump up, grab the bar, pull myself up and then drop back down. Then repeat.

Training on Wednesday is progressing as well. Shawn is increasing the weight I’m using on workouts. We’re also not following as set a pattern of the body parts worked. This is for greater muscle confusion. Also I find I actually survive spinning on Wednesday morning and the training session Wednesday afternoon. Thursday I’m a little worn out but find I’m in fine shape by Friday for another training session.

As for my weight, I wish I was in a little better place with that but very slowly I’m losing some. I’m getting close to 175. I hope to be close to 170 by my birthday in June. Now, that the weather is better and I’m not sick all the time, I’m taking walks after dinner. One final thing I may add is going to the gym on Tuesday. Another idea is if the weather is good riding my bike to work. But I’m still working on some of the logistics with that.

All in all things are progressing very nicely. I now have noticeable muscle in my arms. Very cool.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Let’s Celebrate Confederate History Month

Well then again maybe not exactly.

The latest misstep from the “moderate” Republican governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell. On Friday the governor’s office issued a seven paragraph declaration that called for Virginia’s to “understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War.” (More on that in a moment.)

In this document there absolutely no mention of slavery at all. McDonnell said Tuesday that he included issues that he thought were the most “significant” to Virginia. The idea behind the proclamation was to promote tourism as we near the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

Now a little history on this proclamation. From the Post:

McDonnell had quietly made the proclamation Friday by placing it on his Web site, but it did not attract attention in the state capital until Tuesday. April also honors child abuse prevention, organ donations, financial literacy and crime victims.

It seems to me the idea was to try and sneak this past everyone. Post it on a Friday. Post it on a Friday that just happens to be Good Friday. Post it so it will attract as little attention as possible. I have to assume it didn’t attract any attention until Tuesday is because many people took a long weekend for Easter. I also assume that this is exactly what the McConnel administration had in mind. To make sure people didn’t notice but that didn’t happen.

And since the shit has hit the fan, the proclamation has been amended to include slavery. McDonnell admitting “a major omission.” Yeah you can say that one again.

Here are a couple of points from a column by Robert McCartney in the Post:

It said they “fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth.” It urged reflection on their “sacrifices.” It implied it was too bad they were “ultimately overwhelmed” by the North’s “insurmountable” resources.

Nowhere did the original statement condemn or even acknowledge the fact that the South was fighting primarily to defend a society based on slavery, as the Confederacy’s own leaders said at the time. It neglected to mention that the state joined the Lost Cause without consulting the one-fourth of Virginians in bondage because of their race.

This brings me back to trying to “understand the sacrifices of the Confederate leaders, soldiers and citizens during the period of the Civil War.” These people rebelled against their country. The leaders were well, no two ways about it, traitors to this country. And that's a sacrifice I'm not interesting in understanding.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Odds and Ends of the Funny Kind

Several odds and ends to share of the very funny and amusing kind.


The first is a link to the Washington Post and their annual Peeps Diorama contest. Hopefully these will show up at Artomatic like they did last year. Here are a couple from last year.

Star Wars

Next comes a test of your knowledge of the sounds of the Star Wars movies. Follow this link to take the test. I got 8 out of 10.

Words from the Internet

The internet is indeed a great and wonderful thing.

I found the words to the Rabbit of Seville one of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons. And they are:

How do??
Welcome to my shop, let me cut your mop, let me shave your crop
Daintily, daintily
Hey you!!
Don't look so perplexed, why must you be vexed, can't you see you're next
Yes you're next, you're so next
How about a nice close shave
Teach your whiskers to behave
Lots of lather lots of soap
Please hold still don't be a dope
Now we're ready for the scraping
There's no use to try escaping
Yell & scream & rant & rave
It's no use you need a shave
(oh ouch ouch oh ouch oh oh ouch)
There, you're nice and clean
Although you're face looks like it might have gone through a machine
Oh, wait until I get that rabbit
What would you want with a rabbit
Can't you see that I'm much sweeter
I'm your little senorita
You're my type of guy
Let me straighten your tie
And I shall dance for you

And for the Monty Python fan, the words of the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch:

...And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, "O Lord, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy." And the Lord did grin and the people did feast upon the lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans and breakfast cereals, and fruit bats and large chu... [At this point, the friar is urged by Brother Maynard to "skip a bit, brother"]... And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin, then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it." Amen.

And that's all folks.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Blossoms in All Their Glory

It was an absolutely perfect day to go and see the cherry blossoms on Sunday. Bright and sunny and very warm. They were amazing. I went with my friend Stuart. We met up around 10am by my gym and took it from there. Nothing says spring more in Washington then when the cherry blossoms come out. It is something that I never tire of seeing. The following pictures show why. Enjoy!

Cherry Blossoms

Walking Around the Tidal Basin

It always amazes me that you see on the trunks of some of the trees a few flowers that stick out like in the first picture here. They really are incredible.