Monday, November 29, 2010

Anyone for a pat down by TSA?

I’ve been thinking about this for little while. What brought about all the to-do on this? I know TSA came up with new regulations. But what made this reach critical mass that just about every night for the past couple of weeks there’s been a story about it on the news.

There was of course the famous or infamous don’t touch my junk video. But, from what I’ve read, this was far from a spur of the moment event but something planned out by the guy being frisked. Was this something that the public was really thinking about? Or was it brought about by bloggers and the news media looking for a story since the election was over. Or maybe it was a combination of all three.

I think the pat downs are necessary if you’re not going to go through the scanner. There are issues with the scanner to be sure. People don’t like the idea of the virtual strip search done by these machines. Granted the person looking at you is in another room and never sees you. And your junk isn’t all that easy to see. TSA has says the images are not recorded and disappear when the next person steps into the scanner.

The important thing here is that TSA has disabled the ability of the scanner to record images. So the scanner has the capability to retain images. I think TSA needs to be a little more clear in the manner in which that feature has been disabled. One other thought suppose someone decides to start recording people’s images what happens then. Because you know at some point in time this will happen.

Now on to the pat down. The molestation as some people are calling it. All those perverts at TSA. First and foremost people get a grip. OK maybe not the best choice of words. But if you say no to the scanner you now know what to expect.

I can’t imagine that the run of the mill TSA employee is having a great deal of fun with this. There are of course the usual horror stories. The guy with bladder cancer that has a urostomy bag to catch urine and the urine was spilled all over him. Then there’s this reaction from a story in the Washington Post:

“It’s more than just patting you down. It’s very intrusive and very insane. I wouldn’t let anyone touch my daughter like that,” said Marc Moniz of Poway, Calif., who is planning to accompany his daughter’s eighth-grade class from San Diego to Washington in April. “We’re not common criminals.”

Having said all that TSA certainly was nearly clueless in their response. TSA chief John Pistole made all the rounds of the morning shows and more or less said yeah well this is what's going to happen get used to it. It took a few days of all the horror stories to come out and Obama commenting on the searches before TSA got a clue. They Pistole was on the morning shows again sounding very different. It always amazes me when the government is amazed at people's reactions.

One thing I have noticed, that since the opt-out protest on Thanksgiving was a complete and total bust, suddenly it's not on the news anymore.

Here are a couple of potential bumper stickers a friend sent to me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Afternoon at the National Gallery of Art

I got off from work early on Wednesday and decided to go down to the National Gallery of Art. I'm always amazed at the art works that are housed in the gallery. I spent a little over an hour there. It is such a wonderful place to go to.

Some of the Works at the National Gallery

Around the Galleries

The first two paintings are by J. M. W. Turner. One of the great landscape painters of all time. He did some incredible scenes of Venice. The National Gallery has some great pieces by him.

The last painting is called the Natural Arch at Capri by William Stanley Haseltine

The Voyage of Life at the National Gallery

One of my favorite series of paintings at the National Gallery is the Voyage of Life by Thomas Cole. Here's a brief description of the series; also a link to more information on the paintings:

The national Gallery on the Washington mall holds four paintings by Thomas Cole; they are called “The Voyage of Life.” This series of paintings illustrates the four stages of life: childhood, youth, manhood, and old age. The first painting portrays a baby in a boat that is being steered by an angel; the landscape is of a beautiful valley, however not all of it can be seen because of the mountains blocking it. The painting of youth shows the same man in the boat as a teenager. The boat is in a stream that is going through a lush valley and heading towards a palace in the sky; the angel has no backed away from the boat and onto the shore. In the third painting the man is now alone in the boat while the angel is in the sky watching. The skies have turned dark and the water has become rough as the boat heads out into the ocean. In the last painting the man is old and the angel has come down to guide him to heaven.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

GW Women's Basketball vs. North Texas

GW women hosted North Texas on Sunday. It was the first time I'd been in the remodeled Smith Center. It is still very much a work in progress.

I like the additional space in the lobby area. Also the ticket area is so much better. It is still a work in progress. There's nothing up on most of the walls so far.

The new score board is very state of the art.

GW Women's Basketball vs. North Texas, Part II

GW took a big lead in the second half but then allowed North Texas back into the game. North Texas go to within 6 points. They had several chances to get within 4. GW finally put there foot down and won the game.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Trip to Fredericksburg

A friend and I headed down to Fredericksburg on Saturday. It was a bright, warm sunny day. Our plan was to tour some of the battlefield, have lunch in town and head back to DC. We ended up stumbling onto something very interesting. The Brompton House and gorunds which is normally closed to the public was open on Saturday. Not only that there were park rangers to give talks about the house. There were:

... featured talks on the Battle of Marye's Heights, the use of the historic home as a hospital for Union troops and war damage done there, visitors said they came away with a whole new appreciation for history.

Like I said we just stumble on to this. Well actually, a park ranger asked, when we started the Sunken Road walking tour, if we were here for the Brompton tour we said no. He then told us about the tour and how Brompton House was normally closed to the public. We quickly got instructions on where to go for the tour.

This was one of the park rangers. He talked about how the grounds of the house was used as a hospital.

Above is the map of the Sunken Road Walking Trail. Below shows part of the stone wall part of the Confederate position during the battle.

The Brompton House

The white looking pock marks are actually damage from the battle. There are still actual bullet holes from the battle. If you look at the last picture you'll see how the house looked not long after the war.

Color Around Fredericksburg

Not all of the trees had lost their leaves. Here are a couple of examples of some of the incredible colors that were still around to see.

The Brompton Oak

Here are a few pictures of the Brompton oak tree. The last couple of pictures were taken of the wounded around the same oak tree in 1864. That was 164 years ago. And in the pictures from 1864 the tree doesn't exactly look small. My guess is that is somewhere around 200 years old.

When the battles of the Wilderness and Chancellorsville were fought the grounds of the house were used as a hospital. The wounded were brought here and treated and then waited to be transported to Washington.

Fredericksburg National Cemetery

This is the grounds of the National Cemetery at Fredericksburg. There are some 15,000 soldiers buried there. The identities of around 3,000 are known.

Squirrel in a Tree

This guy was busy having a snack as we walked around.