Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Traditions and Remembrance

The traditions that I have are around Christmas.

The first one is that the day after Thanksgiving until Jan. 1 or around that time all I listen to is Christmas music. The second tradition also deal with music. I play the Charlie Brown Christmas album everyday as I am heading out to work.

Peanuts also plays a part in the final tradition I have around Christmas and that is of course the parade of Peanuts ties. I wear a Peanuts tie to work every work day from the Monday after Thanksgiving until the day I head out for the holidays. This is year that's 17 days. Luckily I can wear a different Peanuts tie for each day and still have a couple to spare.

Here are a couple of pictures of me and my ties.

And now to the remembrance


The remembrance is for my mom. She died eight years ago today.

I went to the National Gallery of Art. Went to the cafeteria which has the waterfall by it. I got some chocolate pudding and sat down and ate it in her honor. When I was growing up there were times when she would make chocolate pudding. She would place wax paper over the top of it so it wouldn't get a film on it. The big treat was to be able to lick the pudding off the wax paper.

After the pudding, I went and saw the Matisse cut outs. I also went by and saw a couple of her favorite paintings by Auguste Renoir.

I thought it was a great way for me to remember her and say I miss you.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sleep Apnea

My brother, Ed, has done a couple of stories for the Springfield News-Leader on sleep apnea.

The first one is called: Sleep apnea could explain fatigue — Condition has far-reaching consequences for daily life, life span

The second is: Truckers scrutinized for sleep apnea — Sleeping disorder is considered a company liability, driver says.

Both articles are very interesting. I never knew how much of a potential health hazard sleep apnea is. From the first story:

People with sleep apnea may have hundreds of these events through the night. After each apnea, their bodies are thrown from a deeper level of sleep to a shallower one, depriving them of the restorative sleep necessary for effective daily functioning.

And this rather startling consequence of the disorder:

Untreated, sleep apnea raises the risk of major health problems, including high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and stroke, Yarnell said. Furthermore, keeping one's airway open at night may extend life span by 10 years, he said, referencing a statement from Stanford University sleep specialist Dr. Nino Marcia.

So if you think you may have sleep apnea get yourself to a doctor so they can start treating it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Muppets

As I said I saw this on Friday at Gallery Place. I was the 3:40 show. I was surprised by the number of people there. The theater was probably 3/4 full. There were around 200 people; there were probably a total of 10 kids in the audience. This is not to say the Muppets is not a kids movie but I think the vast majority of the audience for the movie will be adults remembering just how much fun the Muppets were/are.

Make no mistake about it this is a very funny movie. It is also a loving tribute to the Muppets and the joy and laughter they have brought to so many people. Jason Segel is almost single handily responsible for this. His love of everything Muppet comes through in the screen play he helped to write.

The basic story is that Gary (Jason Segel) Mary (Amy Adams) and Walter set out for a vacation in Los Angeles. One of the highlights is to see the Muppet Studios. The studio has fallen into disrepair. While on the tour, Walter over hears that the Muppet Theater is about to bought up by developer Tex Richman, played by Chris Cooper. There's oil underneath the theater and Richman is going to tear down the theater and drill for it.

Gary, Mary and Walter seek out Kermit to attempt to reunite the Muppets for one last show to raise a million dollars and save the theater. Sort of like an old Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney MGM movie. I mention that because Rooney has a cameo in the movie.

I won't give away the ending. But the journey to it is full of songs and smiles and a great deal of laughter. The movie is very much aware that well it is a movie. There are many asides to the audience. At one point Statler and Waldorf are talking and one says something to the effect of well that sounds like plot exposition for the audience. Another time when Gary, Mary and Walter fail to convince Kermit to find the other Muppets, Mary says this is going to be a short movie.

There is also the hysterical way in which the Muppets travel by map. I won't say anything more about it but it is very funny.

It was great to see the Muppets again on the big screen. What comes through from everyone of the human performers in the movie is the love and respect they have for the Muppets. And the shear joy of being in the movie.

I know I left with a smile on my face. You will too.

The Muppets are Back

I went and saw The Muppets on Saturday afternoon. It was fantastic. I'll have more of a review in a latter post. But it is a must see.

Here's the final scene from the first Muppet movie appropriately called the Muppet Movie from 1979.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Civil War 150 — Three Battles on One Day

October 21, 1861 was a busy day in the Civil War. There were three battles. The one closest to Washington had the greatest impact. But that impact was much more political than military.

Battle of Camp Wildcat, October 21, 1861. It took place in Laurel County, Kentucky which is south of the city of Lexington.

Link to site about the reenactment.

Here’s more information on the battle:

The Battle of Camp Wildcat (also known as Wildcat Mountain and Camp Wild Cat) was one of the early engagements of the American Civil War. It occurred October 21, 1861, in northern Laurel County, Kentucky during the campaign known as the Kentucky Confederate Offensive. The battle is considered one of the very first Union victories, and marked the second engagement of troops in the commonwealth of Kentucky.

Battle of Fredericktown, October 21, 1861. It took place in Madison County, Missouri in the town of Fredericktown. The town is about 90 miles directly south of St. Louis. Another battle fought in Missouri. This again points out how important Missouri was to both sides. It was another Union victory in the state.

Here’s a quick description of what happened:

Col. J.B. Plummer and Col. William P. Carlin, USA
Brig. Gen. M. Jeff Thompson, CSA

A Union brigade-equivalent (2,500-3,500) tangled with a much smaller group of Missouri State Guards.

Union losses are unknown; the Confederates lost a bit over 50.

Two Union columns, one under Col. J.B. Plummer and another under Col. William P. Carlin, advanced on Fredericktown to overtake Brig. Gen. M. Jeff Thompson and his men. On the morning of October 21, Thompson’s force left Fredericktown headed south.

About twelve miles out, Thompson left his supply train in a secure position and returned toward Fredericktown. He then learned that Union forces had occupied Fredericktown, so Thompson spent the morning trying to scout the enemy numbers and disposition. Unable to do so, around noon he attacked anyway. Plummer, with his force and a detachment of Col. William P. Carlin’s troops, met the Rebel forces outside town and a two-hour fight ensued. Overwhelming Union forces took their toll, and Thompson’s men retreated. Union cavalry pursued, chasing the Rebels but inflicting few further casualties.

Battle of Ball’s Bluff which took place on October 21, 1861.

This battle was unique because it had a sitting Senator as one of the commanders: Col. Edward Baker.

Here's what happened.

Baker was a Republican Senator from Oregon with limited military experience from the Mexican War. He commanded one of the three brigades in Stone’s division and is the only sitting U.S. Senator ever to die in battle. Evans commanded the Confederate brigade at Leesburg; Hunton and Featherston served under him, commanding the 8th Virginia and 17th Mississippi respectively. Baker, Hunton, and Featherston commanded on the field as neither Stone nor Evans were present at Ball’s Bluff. Stone remained at Edwards’ Ferry while Evans directed his forces from Fort Evans near Leesburg.

This minor Union defeat at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff had severe political ramifications in Washington. The death of Baker, the only U.S. Senator ever to be killed in battle, was particularly shocking, as was the disparity in casualties. As a result, a concerned Congress established the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, which would lead Union commanders to second-guess their decisions for the rest of the war.

It turned out this would be just one of the many things Congress pried into and caused Lincoln unending headaches during the course of the war.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Eastern Market

On Sunday after my spinning class, I went to Eastern Market. It has been a long time since I've been there. It is always fun to wonder around and see what all the vendors have to offer. Here's a small sampling of what I saw.

More of Eastern Market

Here are some shots in the main building at Eastern Market. This is where just about all of the food is.

Glass Blower at Eastern Market

One of the artists at the flea market across from the main Eastern Market building was a glass blower. I watched him for awhile as he started his work on this piece of glass. It was really impressive to watch him work.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm in the iCloud

At least I think I'm in the iCloud.

I wanted to set iCloud up so I could download the pictures I take on my iPhone to my home computer without having to connect the phone to the computer.

Turns out to do this I had to get the newest operating systems for my iMac. They no longer sell the operating system on a disc. You get to download it from the Apple Apps store.

I did that earlier this evening. It takes a while to download the 3.55 GB file. For awhile I wasn't sure it was even working correctly. Like I said it takes a little while to download the file. It took almost 3 hours to download the file.

Once that was completed it took another hour or so to install the new operating system. I also had to download the most recent version of iTunes. I think just about everything is up to date on my computer and everything should be working correctly.

I activated iCloud on my computer and my iPhone. Now I think if I've done this correctly when I connect to a Wifi network all my pictures and other info will go to the cloud. Now all I have to do is figure out how to access the cloud on my computer. But I'm going to do that tomorrow.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Reminder: Try Not to Ride Metro on the Weekend

Today was a perfect reminder of why to avoid riding Metro on the weekends. This is when it becomes anything but a mass transit system. Every weekend most if not all of the lines have work being done on them. Here’s the work that is going on this weekend:

Metro will advance major track work on sections of the Blue, Yellow, Red and Orange lines this weekend.

Beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, and continuing through system closing on Sunday, Nov. 20, buses will replace Metrorail trains on the Blue and Yellow lines between King Street and Pentagon City stations. Three stations -- Crystal City, National Airport and Braddock Road -- will be closed during this time, as Metro installs new rail ties, insulators, upgrades the surfaces underneath the rails and installs communications cables for improved cell phone service.

In addition to regular shuttle buses between Pentagon City and King Street, Metro will offer special express bus service between Metro Center and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport throughout the weekend for the benefit of airport travelers.

On the Red Line, Metro crews will continue work to stabilize a municipal water main and sewer line within Farragut North Station. The heavy construction effort requires that one Red Line track be taken out of service to create a safe work zone. Red Line trains will single track between Dupont Circle and Judiciary Square, with trains operating every 20 minutes through the affected section.

I set out to go to my gym to go to the 8:30 TRX class. I try and leave at 7:30. I'm running a little late. I try and walk quickly to the Metro. I get to the Metro and I have an 18 minute wait for the next train. I try and figure out how long people have been waiting. I estimate the point in time on the walk to the Metro when I can actually see the platform. I then figure out from that point on how long it takes to get on to the Metro platform. I think about 5 minutes. So at the very least people will wait 23 minutes for a train to arrive. I also figure that that is a conservative estimate. So much for waiting 20 minutes between trains.

Well finally a train arrives. I can still get to my class on time. I go to the first car in the train. I do this so I can be as close to the exit that my gym is near. The train pulls into Farragut North. On weekends one of the three exits from Farragut North is closed. It turns out because of the work on the platform the exit toward the front of the train is closed. The only exit in use is at K Street. This is in the middle of the platform. To top it off there is only one working escalator. Well actually the escalator has been shut off because people have to use it to walk up or down from the platform.

Now you would think that the train operator would have said while pulling into the station that only the K Street exit is open. But well this is Metro after all and we're only passengers so why should we receive any information on what's going on.

I go to the class. Have a good workout. I get ready to head out. I figure I'll walk to Metro Center and avoid all this mess.

Oh was I wrong. Metro Center is even more of a mess. They are single tracking trains at Metro Center. But there is little or no information available on what is going on. I will say there were several Metro people on the platform giving out information but they could only reach a limited number of people.

The electronic signs showed when a train would arrive. The problem was it didn't say which direction it was going in. Also the time continued to change. First a train would be arriving in 10 minutes. Then 13 minutes. Then 16 minutes. Turned out it wasn't that long.

The train arrives. The Metro employees on the platform say the direction the train is going in. That's great except for the fact the only people that can hear them are those directly around them. There is an announcement from the train operator which more people are able to hear. But how about before the train is coming into the station an PA announcement saying the direction the train is going in.

I finally got home. But it brought home to me why not to ride the Metro on the weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Figuring out E-mail with the iPhone

I’d thought that this would be a simple one but it didn’t turn out that way.

At first I couldn’t send any out going e-mails at all. I went down to a Verizon store and one of the people there helped me set up my e-mail.

All set right well not exactly. After a week, all of my in-coming messages were deleted except for the ones that were a week old or less. I had several years worth of messages. And they were all gone.

I looked through all sorts of settings on the iPhone to try and figure out how it might be causing this. I called up Earhlink my e-mail provider. They said I needed to check my iPhone and see that the settings were for incoming e-mail. I looked there. Under advanced settings there is a setting that says delete from server. The options are never, sever days or when removed from inbox. I’m pretty sure this was set to never. But I made sure that is what it was set on. I figure problem solved.

My e-mails continued to disappear. Another call to Earthlink. I was told I needed to check my POP account. And what is a POP account? Well here’s the definition:

A Post Office Protocol (POP) mail server.
A POP mail server (or simply “POP server”) is the most common form of incoming email server. Basically, the POP server is what receives the email and is almost always used with an SMTP server, which is the outgoing server.

The default setting for that was seven days. I can’t imagine why that would be the default but it was. I checked off of that. I think that did the trick because my e-mails are no longer disappearing.

I do have to say it would never have occurred to me that I needed to check in three different places to set my preferences on my in-coming mail.

In other iPhone news, I have a big think book that will tell me everything I need to know about the phone. Now to download endless apps.

As they say so many apps so little time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuesday Treat

Well it is a balmy Tuesday here in DC. It is in the mid 60s and it's 5:30 in the morning. It looks like one more day of this unusual weather and then it will get colder.

So here's a Tuesday Treat to from Peanuts to celebrate.

Monday, November 14, 2011

2Political Episode 65

2PP065 - 10 November 2011

2Political Podcast Episode 65- is now available. You can listen to it or download it from the podcast site, You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode (you can access the five most recent episodes from the list on the right side of my blog).

After being delayed by construction work on Arthur's house, we were finally able to record. Then problems with Arthur's other podcast site and a family wedding kept him from being able to edit this episode. We always get there eventually.

After Special Days, we talk about the results of last week's elections in the US. Arthur says the results were very good for Democrats and centre-left voters. The Republicans have demonstrated how disconnected from voters' wishes they have become. Democrats and Republicans have totally different worldviews, so much so, that one side or the other has to be in control in order to advance their agenda. We round out today's episode with a voicemail comment! No, really! That lets us comment some more.

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

Links for this episode:
National Sandwich Day
And more about Sandwich Day
Pumpkin Chunkin’ Championships – Delaware
Birth of Bahá'u'lláh
More than 50 LGBT candidates win elections across America
This Week in Gay – the podcast Brother Cinaedus mentioned
Check out Brother Cinaedus’ Audioboos!
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Around DC on Saturday

A couple more pictures from the camera on the iPhone.

I spotted these guys when I was walking up to DuPont Circle after my class at the gym. What a fun job to do. At least the sun was out.

The last picture is a very colorful tree near my house. The colors this fall have not been as vibrant as they usually are. But this tree really pops.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rhode Island Row — Progresses

Here are some shots of Rhode Island Row. I took these a couple of days ago when we had fog in the morning. This was also the first real use of the camera on my iPhone. I think they came out pretty well.

It looks they are on the final building phase of the project. The first two pictures show the are closest to Rhode Island Avenue. They've completed the parking part and are now building the residents.

The third pictures show the road leading to the Metro. You might notice that the stop lights are up. They are just flashing now to get people used to the fact that they are there. At least now people are almost stopping when driving in and out.

The fourth picture shows the side walk that they've opened up. So now you can actual walk on a sidewalk. They also added some landscaping too.

The last pictures show what the complex looks like from the Metro. Hopefully sometime by early spring there will be shops and restaurants open.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Envelope of Whiskers

I was doing a podcast with Art last night. While doing it I was looking for something in a filing cabinet. I reached way in back of the top drawer and pulled out a bunch of stuff. Included in that stuff (most of it was junk to be honest) was an envelope full of whiskers. They are of course Sam whiskers. I was very pleased to find this. I had thought I’d lost it.

Now this needs a little explanation. My mom used to say that if you found a whisker from your cat it was good luck. Many a time when I received a letter from her there would be a whisker taped to a piece of paper. I think I even still have some that she sent.

So I picked up the habit too. I think once or twice I sent her a whisker from Sam. After awhile I decided I would just collect them. At first I put them on top of my dresser but as I got more and more of them I needed a better place to put. Thus the reason for the envelope. I started this back when I was living in Foggy Bottom or maybe when I lived on 12th Street. So we are talking about a collection of whiskers that could be more than 10 years old.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about Sam lately. I always said Halloween was his unofficial birthday. This year he would have been 16. I miss having him around the house. But finding the whiskers has certainly brought a smile to my face.

Monday, November 07, 2011

A Trip to Monticello

My friend Stu and I decided to take a trip to Monticello. We signed up for two tours. One was a behind the scenes tour of the house. The second was the actual house tour itself.

We started out early around 6:15 in the morning. We made pretty good time down there. We arrived a little after 9. Our first tour was at 10:30. We went up to the house and took a look around.

This is a very impressive site. We spent around 5 hours there and I think we could have stayed even longer. A great day.

The House

You take a bus up to the main entrance to the house. The first picture gives you a glimpse of the house from the main walk. As you can tell the day started out rainy. It was cold too. Thankfully the worst of the rain took place while we were taking our two tours. Later in the morning it cleared and the sun came out. Turning into a perfect day.

The Grounds of the House

The map gives you an idea of how large the grounds of the house are. The pictures are the gardens off to the side of the house.

Dependency Buildings

This buildings were constructed under and to the side of the house. This way just about everything necessary to run the house was right near the house. There was even a cellar passage so people could go quickly from one side of the house to the other.

Behind the Scenes Tour

Here's the description of the tour:

Have you always wanted to go upstairs at Monticello? These exclusive, daytime tours take you behind the scenes: to bedrooms once occupied by members of the Jefferson family on the second floor; to the iconic Dome Room on the third floor; and to the new, interactive "Crossroads" exhibition under the house. You'll see unique interior architectural features, learn about ongoing historic restoration efforts, and gain insight into what one of Jefferson's granddaughters called "the bustle and hurry" of life at Monticello.

It was indeed very cool. I will say this the stairs were very narrow and very steep. The reason was the Jefferson thought stairs were a waste of space.

One thing that was nice about it was you could take pictures.

Below are some shots of the Dome Room.

This picture gives an idea of just how tight the stairs were.