Thursday, June 28, 2007

Phantom of the Opera

Last night at the Kennedy I saw Phantom of the Opera. I tried to do a quick calculation of the number of times I’ve seen he show. I think it is 11. I will be seeing it one more time before it leaves Washington.

The first time I saw it was in London. I debating with myself about whether I should see the show or not. I finally decided I had to see it. I bought an expensive seat from some ticket broker and sat way way up high. Michael Crawford was about 5 inches tall from my vantage point (ok probably more than that). I just thought it was great (thus the reason I’ve seen it so many times). I later learned the Crawford had left the show due to a hiatal hernia. However, the guy that replaced him fell through a trap door and got hurt. I think he broke a knee cap or something. All I can say to that is ouch. So I was lucky to be able to see him.

When it came to New York, I saw him there. He was much taller. Of all the phantoms I’ve seen, Crawford’s been the best which is after all to be expected since he originated the role. But the reason is he had the most expressive hands of all the actors to play the role. If you’ve seen the show you’ll understand what I mean for those who haven’t there’s a long scene in the second act where he has a hood over his head and the only way he can emote is through his hands.

Last night’s phantom was very good too. In fact I thought the entire cast did a good job. There were a couple of technical glitches in the opening scene when the opera house in all its glory is revealed. Some of the fabric covering the sets got stuck and it took a few good hard tugs to get it free.

I still got a chill up my spine when the auctioneer says:

Lot 666, then: a chandelier in pieces. Some of you may recall the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera: a mystery never fully explained. We are told ladies and gentlemen, that this is the very chandelier which figures in the famous disaster. Our workshops have restored it and fitted up parts of it with wiring for the new electric light, so that we may get a hint of what it may look like when re-assembled. Perhaps we may frighten away the ghost of so many years ago with a little illumination, gentlemen?

And the music swells and the chandelier starts it ascent to the ceiling

The last half of the second act has me on the edge of my seat. I know what’s going to happen, but I still get drawn into the action.

I had a wonderful evening. Here's a link to a story about John Cudia being transformed into the Phantom.

Odds and Ends

Cleaning out cabinets
I was cleaning out the cabinet and drawers of the bathroom sink. Oh my what a great deal of stuff. I have so many little packages of toothpaste and dental floss from my dentist visits. I don’t think I’ll ever use it all up. I combined all the sinus and head cold medication into one box. Again way too many of those packages. Then I learned something I never knew. Baby powder has an expiration date on it. My baby powder expired November of last year. I can’t imagine how baby powder can go bad.

Sam’s friend returns
I was in the basement this morning and Sam was outside when there came this yowl. Sam’s friend had return. He is a nice tan stripped cat who just want to make friends with Sam. Sam will have none of it. He puffs up and hisses and yowls. The other cat stays around for a little while and then runs away. He seems a little confused as to why Sam doesn’t want to be his friend.

Sam for lack of a better expression is pissed. It ruined his morning and we had to go inside. He later recovered enough to go outside and roll around in the dirt. Cats are so resilient.

One more item on Sam. Because of Ed and Jennifer’s visit, I’d moved the litter box into my room. I was brushing my teeth the other day and saw Sam walk past the door toward the front bedroom. Then he paused and turned around and went to my bedroom to use his box. You could almost see the look of disgust on his face. Last night he went into the front bedroom again looking for his box. There were words of protest to the effect that the box should be moved back into the front bedroom. I complied with his request.

Cell phones and PDAs
It’s intermission at Phantom of the Opera and what does everyone pull out. The lights are barely up and just about everywhere you look people are on their phones or PDA. It’s amazing that people can’t be out of touch for even a couple of hours. It reminds me of news story that ran on one of the local stations. This woman said even when she went to a movie she had to have her cell phone on in case the baby sitter needed to contact her. My reaction was then don’t go to the movie.

To think in the not so distant past people went places and there was no way to contact them at all. How did we survive?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Dad

I just want to send a big shout out to my Dad to have the best possible birthday which I'm sure he will. See this link for pictures.

So I'd just like to say:


Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I've made my first podcast well actually I was part of a podcast. Thanks to Art for having me on his show.

Follow the link to hear the podcast. I'm on episode 20.

Republican change on Iraq?

Senator Richard Luger gave a speech on the Senate floor yesterday in it he stated:

“In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved,” Lugar, R-Ind., said in a Senate floor speech. “Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term.”

The article goes on to speculate that this might give cover to Republicans that want a change in course in Iraq. But does it really do that. Luger isn't talking about cutting off funds or for the withdrawal or setting a timetable for getting US troops out of there. But it is a step in the right direction.

Of course the reaction from the White House is to ask yet again for more time. One would think four plus years would be more than enough time but no.

This from the White House:

White House spokesman Tony Snow said Lugar was a thoughtful man and that his remarks came as no surprise.

“We've known that he’s had reservations about the policy for some time,” Snow said Tuesday.

But the spokesman later added: “We hope that members of the House and Senate will give the Baghdad security plan a chance to unfold.”

As I've said before, to me the only way to tell if the surge has worked will be when the troops that made up that surge are gone. Does the level of violence return to what it was before the surge or are areas free of that violence. Only time will tell and I’m not sure how much more time the American people are willing to give on this.

Pants Suit

If this doesn't show America as a litigious society nothing will. This would be funny (well actually it is) if it weren't so just plain stupid. Here the link to the story.

The local press refers to it as the pants suit. A guy sued a dry cleaner for $54 million yes that’s $54 million for loosing his pair of pants. Here’s a little from the story:

It was the case that people couldn't stop talking about, and yesterday, the judge who heard it, Judith Bartnoff, finally had her say, rejecting Pearson’s claim that he was defrauded by the Chungs and their “Satisfaction Guaranteed” sign.

“A reasonable consumer would not interpret ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer’s unreasonable demands or to accede to demands that the merchant has reasonable grounds to dispute,” Bartnoff wrote in a 23-page ruling, adding that Pearson “is not entitled to any relief whatsoever.”

Here’s a column from Marc Fisher of the Post. Read some of the comments. They are just great.

The big question is whether this guy will appeal. One would hope that the ridicule he’s gotten would make him wise up and just pay the Chungs court costs and go home and hid in a darkened room. But don’t count on it.

Back to Iraq again

While I was on vacation I sort of kept up with the news. One day seven soldiers were killed and it sounds like over the weekend at least 14 were killed and who know how many Iraq civilians.

There was also a story in USA Today of the strain all the wounded are putting on the medical facilities of the military:

"If we left Iraq tomorrow, we would have the legacy of all these people for many years to come," said Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and an adviser to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "The military simply wasn't prepared for its own success" at keeping severely wounded soldiers alive, he said.

And there continue to be stories, even after the events at Walter Reed, of soldiers having to do battle with the bureaucrats in the military and from the Veterans Administration to get the benefits they deserve. These soldiers are still at war only this time they are at war with their own government. Something is very very wrong with that.

Also in the news is the continue drum beat of September being the month to see how the surge is going. This is when the military will report to Congress. At first I thought this would make a difference that finally Congress most notably the Republicans will see the light that we need to get out of Iraq. Now I'm not so sure. I don't see how you can access the effectiveness of the surge until it is over. It seems to me you aren't going to be able to really tell if conditions have improved until the number of troops is reduced to the level of before the surge.

Then there also needs to the realization that if for some reason there is a decision to leave it will not happen over night. I've heard and read that it could take up to a year to get the troops and equipment out of Iraq. And that could be one long and bloody year.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Well it actually was as easy as they said it would be.

I'd downloaded Skype a couple of weeks ago. I didn't set it up until I had a headset. It was double click on the icon and then follow the instructions. Simple easy straight forward instructions. I gave myself a nickname and then entered some basic account information and I was all set.

Installing the headset/microphone was just at easy. I plugged in to a USB port. Then went to sound under control panels and selected the Logitect 350. You have to set the volume for both input and output.

So early Sunday evening Art called me on my land line. He walked me through a couple of the things needed to finalize the set up and we were all ready to go. So we hung up and he called me back on Skype.

It was great. The one strange thing about it is it sort of sounds the person is talking in your head. That's because you have the headphones on and don't have the usual outside noise you get with a regular phone call. We talked for about 2 hours which is about how long our conversations usually go. And we also recorded a Pod cast. I think it should be posted in the next day or so. I'll put in a link to it once it is up on his site.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Odds and Ends

I think I ran the dishwasher more times when Ed and Jennifer were here than I have during the entire year so far. I have nothing against using the dishwasher; it's just easier to wash the dishes as I go along. I might use a total of two plates, a bowl and a spoon and a fork in the course of a day. It makes no sense to save up the dishes and do them in the dishwashers. However, when you have three people in the house you have got to use the dishwasher.

I bought new towels for Ed and Jennifer's visit. I was going to buy the same color and style for both of them but then thought better of it. I bought the same style but not the same color. Once set was blue and the other was red. Well the red towels (bath towel, hand towel and wash cloth) left little red tufts all over the place. On the floor, on the sink, in the tub even on Ed's fact. While the blue set didn't leave anything anywhere. I thought that was a little odd.

Yesterday afternoon my friend Mark and I were out doing some shopping. He has a thermometer in his car. It said 77 and this was around 1 in the afternoon. It was just so wonderful out and so unlike the end of June. Today is a little warmer but not by much. I'm going to go for a walk after dinner. It seems that tomorrow will be the start of our warming trend. Tuesday and Wednesday look like really warm days: upper 90s. But by Thursday it supposed to be in the upper 80s again. It has been a long time (knock on wood) where we've had day after day after day of temperatures in the 90s. I'm hoping this summer with continue that trend.

I'm entering the wonderful world of Skype. I've downloaded the program and have a head set. The idea is that I'll be doing a podcast with Art in the not too distant future. It was pretty amazing that both downloading and setting up Skype and getting the headset/microphone to work was easy. That is something that really doesn't happen all that often. I'm hoping this will carry over to when I want to upload my movies to my computer.

New computer
Speaking of computers. I'm eagerly awaiting the next upgrade to the iMacs. The rumor mill has it that sometime in late July or early August (which probably means early September) new iMacs will appear. I have an eMac that's four plus years old and it is starting to show its age. Also with the new version of the Creative Suite out if I want to use it I'll have to upgrade the machine. I'm hoping to get the 24 inch version. I thought the 20 inch one would be more than enough but then I made the mistake of going into an Apple store and seeing the 24 inch.

Regular posts
I'll be returning to more timely subjects starting tomorrow. Since I'm on vacation I get to ignore all the other things going around in the world. To that end I'm listening to the soundtrack of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Open House

I love to go to open houses. Sunday is the big day for them. It serves a twofold purpose. The first is that I get out and walk. In fact if I go to two or three I usually end up covering at least 2 miles or more. The second is I like to see what people have done to their houses and how much they are charging for them. The third purpose. Ok it serves a threefold purpose. The third is it gives me ideas about how I might fix up the rest of my house. Specifically how to develop the basement.

I also like to be able to say (so I guess that would be the fourth purpose sounds like the Spanish Inquisition to me) my house is much better than this and they want how much for this thing.

Anyway today I didn't do much walking. I stopped off at a new development on my way back from Target. This is call the Arts District of Hyattsville. It is about a ten minute drive from my house. It is going to be a large development. It will be on both sides of the road. It will be around 400 homes and about 200 condos give or take. It is developing an area that had consisted mainly of car dealerships. It is really beginning to take shape.

There were three models available to look at: Adams, Blake and Calder. The Calder was by far the largest in terms of square footage. All three homes were just really well done. Nothing looked cheap and space was used very wisely. In the Calder and Blake there's a half bath that's in a small landing area between the entry and main level. It is just a really great use of space.

In my opinion there is one draw back to the Calder. The optional loft which would be the fourth floor has a terrace which is 17 x 10. Part of the terrace is taken up with not one but two central air condition units. I think you loose about 5 feet of the terrace. I have to assume that if the units were on it would be rather loud out there. Of course most of the time air condition would be one you probably would not be out on the terrace but there might be occasions where you would be. Also it just takes up way too much space.

That aside, this was a really great development. There have a rec center that's going to have a gym. In fact they'd just installed the equipment. In the second phase of the project there going to add a pool. It will be interesting to check back and see how the place develops. I'm looking forward to seeing the condos and what the houses will look like in phase two.

Odds and Ends

Fitted Sheets
Who the hell came up with this idea? I was washing the sheets I used on Ed and Jennifer's bed and came to the fitted sheet. How is one exactly supposed to fold this thing? I always end up with an unfoldable mess. I also enjoy trying to fit the sheet on the bed. Inevitably I have to rotate one of the end because I can never figure out how it is supposed to "fit" the first try.

Sam's friend
The other morning I was looking out the dinning room window to check on Sam and in the yard was another cat. Oh Sam was not a happy cat at all. He was all hisses and yowls. He chased the other cat out of the yard. He then continued with the hisses. I tried to pet him to calm him down but he would have absolutely none of that. He was grumpy all the way into the house. It was actually very funny but don't tell him that.

Quiet House

The house is very quiet now that Ed and Jennifer have left. Even Sam noticed it. He walked into the front bedroom and did a double take; he expected there to be a lot of stuff and maybe a couple of people in there.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Trip Roundup

I have to say it was a very successful visit. We went to several new places for everyone including me. I'd never been to Blues Alley or Hillwood. The weather cooperated. The one day we were out walking along the Mall it was very nice sunny but not hot.

So a good time was had by all.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Last Full day

A very fun, productive, interesting and sobering last day to Ed and Jennifer's visit.

We had tickets to the Holocaust Museum for noon. There was no rush to get out the door. So as talked about previously we all went for a walk.

When we got back home we had omelets. Jennifer chopped up all the things we added: cheese, tomatoes and green pepper. Ed cooked. I got to sit back and do nothing. Breakfast was very good.

Then we headed out to the Mall. I decided it would be easier to take the subway then drive. We arrived just in time to get our tickets and enter the Holocaust Museum permanent exhibit. It is a most impressive and sobering museum. It just so happens that there was a First Person talk form one of the survivors. Manya Friedman (Moszkowicz) told her story. It was very gripping and horrifying and eye opening. We then saw the rest of the permanent exhibit. This museum is a sobering reminder of the great evil man can go against his fellow man.

Because of our late start, we didn't have lunch. I brought along a banana for each of us so we had that. Ed wanted to see the National Museum of the American Indian. Along the way we stopped for some ice cream and we stopped off at the Hirshhorn sculpture garden where Ed discovered several Henry Moore works.

Finally at the National Museum of the American Indian, Ed took pictures of the outside of the building. It is a very imposing and beautiful structure and rather difficult to get the entire building in one frame.

Next on the agenda was dinner. My plan was to walk to Gallery Place and find a place to eat and then go to the National Portrait Gallery. As it turned out the gallery closed earlier than I thought it did so we did the gallery and then had dinner.

We saw the portraits of the presidents and then paintings on loan for the National Gallery of England. Then it was off to dinner at Legal Sea Food. Yum yum.

On the way home we stopped off at the store and picked up some ice cream. We enjoyed that while watching the movies that I'd taken of the trip.

It was a really great last full day.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Post 300 — Guest Post from Ed

This is post 300 in honor of that event I have a guest blogger my brother Ed who's going to tell about his visit to DC:

The most important thing about the Holocaust Museum is not how well it documents death, but how full of life it is. Photos covering a half-century of people in a single Latvian town. People playing chamber music in the ghettos. Countless stories of how people struggled to survive. And a survivor in the flesh, telling her story. I'm not trying to minimize the horror. I'm just saying I went in prepared for horror, got plenty of that, and also got an unexpected dose of affirmative stuff. And everyone know how those stories ended. The Latvian town had been a Jewish settlement for nearly a millennium, but now no Jews have lived there for more than half a century. The museum is active in sounding alarms about contemporary genocides; Darfur has a place there. The grim message is that we must be on guard at all times. Sickeningly, genocide is happening, somewhere, all the time.

I'm blown away by the architecture of the American Indian Museum. I've never circled a building tracing all its curves and swoops. It seems truly part of nature. It belongs on a bluff in New Mexico.

Jen and I have been following Chicago-based jazz singer Kurt Elling for nearly a decade. We've heard him several times at the Green Mill in a crummy north-side neighborhood where Al Capone used to hang out. We've also seen him at respectable places such as Ravinia Park in the north suburbs. Elling has progressed from a maverick who loved to yell into what must be his classic period now. We saw him Sunday at Blues Alley. His repertoire hasn't changed much, but his presentation is more polished. And the quartet behind him has never sounded better. Pianist Laurence Hobgood arranges each tune so that it is distinct and special. One one tune, Elling sings against only the bass riffs by Rob Amster. Another tune, "My Foolish Love," rises, dies back, and swells again like chamber music — complete with an interlude of poetry from St. John of the Cross among the Tin Pan Alley lyrics. On the most expansive piece, "Body and Soul," Elling sings original lyrics to the music of a transcribed solo by saxophonist Dexter Gordon, for an intense, driving effect. A great night at Blues Alley. If you go, try the jambalaya!

We had a great time. The Brookland neighborhood is wonderfully green and inviting. Our feet hurt!

— Ed

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Kreeger Grounds

Hillwood Grounds

The visit continues

What a great day yesterday was. It was hot but besides that a very productive day.

We went to the Kreeger Museum and the Hillwood Museum. It is hard to imagine a greater contrast in styles to collecting art.

The Kreeger has a very modern collection. Follow this link to get an idea of one of the exhibits we saw. There were two early works by Mondrian that are completely different from his later abstract work. There were sculptures by Henry Moore. There was a room of Monets as well as a room of Picasos. There was a total of ten people on the tour of the house.

We grabbed a quick lunch on the way to Hillwood.

Hillwood is full of decorative arts. Glassware, plates, Faberge eggs (which were fantastic). A great deal of the art come from Russia. She was the wife to the ambassador to Russia in the 30s. At the time Russia was in debt so they were selling royal artifacts off to raise money. Ms Post got things at bargain basement prices.

If you look at the two web sites you can really see the incredible differences in styles.

We ended up back at my house around 4 or so. We rested for a little while and then made dinner.

Around 6:30 we headed out to see Hamlet at the Shakespeare Theater. It was very well done. The actor who played Hamlet recently had been on All My Children so there was a great deal of interest on Jennifer's part to see how he would perform. She reported back to my dad on how the performance went.

Today it is a littler overcast but supposedly it is going to clear later. All three of us went for a walk this morning. We went to the grounds of the Franciscan Monastery. There was some unfortunate guy whose horn on his car to stop honking. It appeared somehow to be connected to the alarm system on the car. Eventually he was able to turn it off or maybe he just drove the car away.

Today we are hitting the mall.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Annapolis Pictures I

Annapolis Pictures II

To Annapolis

Jennifer and I went out for a walk early this morning. We went almost 1.25 miles.

Then we headed out to Annapolis. We walked around the town and then met Jennifer's niece Sage for lunch. We had it right on the water front. Very nice. It was a little warm. Ok actually it was hot.

After lunch we went on a harbor cruise. It was very interesting. We walked around a little more and then headed back to DC.

For dinner we went to Colonel Brook's Tavern which is just up the street from my house.

Now we are relaxing and watching some TV.

Sunday at Blue's Alley

Ed and Jennifer arrived on time yesterday. We came back to my house and had lunch. They both were a little tired so they took naps.

Ed and I watched a couple episodes of the Simpson.

We got ready and headed out to Georgetown. We found a parking place on one of the side streets about three blocks from the club. I hate to say this but I've lived in DC almost 30 years and this is the first time I've ever been to Blue's Alley. But then again I'm not a huge jazz fan so I have a little bit of an excuse.

The first place we were seated was right next to the stage. After further consideration we moved back a table. The food was excellent. Around 8 the show started. Kurt Elling was the performer. He was great. For a look at his site go here. After the set was over, he was outside Blue's Alley shaking each person's hand as they left.

We walked around Georgetown after that and stopped in at Barnes and Noble where Ed and Jennifer got a mocha coffee.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bargain Matinee

I went to see Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. I thought it was pretty good. The critics savaged it. I sometimes wonder if they are watching the same movie I am. Then again these are the same people that thought the first two Spiderman movies were the greatest thing since sliced bread. I liked them, but didn't think they were that great.

But that's not my main point. The "bargain matinee" was $7.75. Yes that's right the bargain matinee was $7.75. The full price I think was at least $9.50 or something like that. I also got some candy. So my movie going experience was a total of $11. How can a family afford to go and see a movie. It must cost at least $50 for a family of four to go. And that would be to the baring matinee.

I remember when they really were a bargain. I'll date myself but I remember when they were $2. Now I don't expect to pay that little today but $7.75. That's like going out and getting lunch during the week. No wonder I don't go to as many movies as I used to. They cost too much. Before it was just a couple of bucks but now well . . . it's $7.75.

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to the best dad around.

Ed and Jennifer arrive

Ed and Jennifer arrived today. I've been cleaning like a madman. Vacuuming, washing, cleaning the bathroom. I shampooed the carpets. Walking on them is really great. It seems the more I clean the more there is to clean.

We have a very full schedule. We'll be having a blast.

Hopefully I'll be able to post during their visit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

On the Road Again II

A friend sent this to me. This is a recent law passed in Utah:

41-6a-704. Overtaking and passing vehicles proceeding in same direction.
(2) On a highway having more than one lane in the same direction, the operator of a vehicle traveling in the left general purpose lane:
(a) shall, upon being overtaken by another vehicle in the same lane, yield to the overtaking vehicle by moving safely to a lane to the right; and
(b) may not impede the movement or free flow of traffic in the left general purpose lane.
(3) An operator of a vehicle traveling in the left general purpose lane that has a vehicle following directly behind the operator's vehicle at a distance so that less than two seconds elapse before reaching the location of the operator's vehicle when space is available for the operator to yield to the overtaking vehicle by traveling in the right-hand lane is prima facie evidence that the operator is violating Subsection (2).
(4) The provisions of Subsection (2) do not apply to an operator of a vehicle traveling in the left general purpose lane when:
(a) overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction in accordance with Subsection (1)(a);
(b) preparing to turn left or taking a different highway or an exit on the left;
(c) responding to emergency conditions;
(d) avoiding actual or potential traffic moving onto the highway from an acceleration or merging lane; or
(e) following the direction of a traffic-control device that directs the use of a designated lane.

In essence all this legal mumbo jumbo means that, if you are in the left hand land doing the speed limit and someone comes up behind you, you have to move to the right lane. You have to move over to the right hand lane even if the car behind you is speeding. If you don't you can be stopped for blocking traffic and receive a ticket. To me there seems to be something very wrong with this.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Iraq the Next South Korea?

Evidence continues to mount that when America pulls out of Iraq it will be leaving sizable forces there for the foreseeable future. This from an article in the Washington Post today.

One of the guiding principles, according to two officials here, is that the is the United States should leave Iraq more intelligently than it entered.

If this wasn't such a serious subject, the above statement would be laughable. Yes, maybe it's time to actually have a real honest to goodness realistic plan on what to do in Iraq. But then again this is the Bush administration and how likely is that.

This from the article I find very disturbing:

Even as they focus on the realities in Iraq, officials here are also keeping an eye on Washington politics. Despite the talk in the U.S. capital that Petraeus has only until September to stabilize the situation in Iraq, some officers here are quietly suggesting that they really may have until Jan. 20, 2009 -- when President Bush eaves office -- to put the smaller, revised force in place. They doubt that Bush will pull the plug on the war or that Congress will ultimately force his hand.

It looks like the idea is to set up commitments that would bind the next administration to this new set up. The new set up would involve upwards of 40,000 US troops taking up residence in Iraq like US troops are in South Korea.

I don't think this is what the American people envision the "withdrawal" from Iraq being: essentially leaving almost 1/3 of the troops there. If this is indeed the plan, then the American people have a right to know about this sooner rather than later.

I have huge problems with this. The most basic being that the Bush administration and the military have yet to come up with a plan that has worked in Iraq. That should be worrisome to everyone.

On the Road Again

There's a very insightful article in the Post today about driving habits in the DC area. this driver was stopped for a school bus and tt seems someone decided to pass on the right . The article goes on to say:

The Virginia Driver's Manual clearly states, "You must stop your vehicle, when approaching from any direction on a public or private road, a stopped school bus with flashing red lights and an extended stop sign" [emphasis added]. The only exception is if one is on the opposite side of a divided highway that is "separated by a physical barrier or unpaved median." You can be fined $250, get six points on your license and be convicted for reckless driving if you break that law.

Seems rather straight forward and something I remember being told about repeatedly when I was taking driver's ed. The only thing I disagree with is that you don't have to stop if there is a divided highway. Like kids wouldn't dart across the road.

I have two example to give that occurred on my trip to Target this morning. I'm talking about a round trip of around 20 minutes.

I'm waiting to make a left turn onto Rhode Island Avenue. I have two lanes going in my direction and I'm turning on to a street that also has two lanes going in both directions. Several cars going in the opposite direction of me are also trying to make a left hand turn. This means one of the lanes coming in the opposite direction is not moving. A car approaches in the other lane. I'm not going to make my turn because I assume of course he is going to go straight. Instead he turns right. Now if he'd had his signal on I wouldn't have had to wait for him to make his turn. I could have made mine and gone into one lane while the guy turned into the other.

The next case is even worse. I'm on my way back from Target on Rhode Island Ave. I'm in the left hand lane. There's a guy behind me. I guess I'm not going fast enough so he passes me on the right. The car in the right lane isn't going fast enough for him either so again he passes. He weaves in and out of traffic like this for the next few miles. He of course never uses a turn signal. At the same time he never really get ahead either. Every stop light I stop at he's already stopped at. In fact all I have to do is slow down slightly because the light turns green and I can go through it. I'm hitting the cycle of the lights because I'm going the speed limit (or fairly close to it). He's hitting all the lights red because he's going too fast.

Must be great to be first at the light but you're still stopped at the light.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Parking Ticket

When I took Sam to the vet finding parking was a total bitch. A find many spaces but couldn't park in them because there was street cleaning on that day. I left my house later than I had planned in part because Sam had wedged himself underneath the bed.

Finally with like 5 minutes to spare I found one. The street went along and there was an alley and right before the entrance to the alley was a spot. I carefully looked at the signs. There was a no parking sign indicating not to park to close to the entrance to the alley. There was then a parking sign. It said what parking zone sticker to have so you could park there all you wanted and how long you could park if you didn't have a sticker (two hours). I has just enough space to fit the car because there were cars parked behind me.

When I returned to the vet, I had a ticket on my car. I got a $30 fine for parking on the street when there was street cleaning going on. The ticket said sign clearly marked. If I'd been about 10 minutes earlier I would have gotten away.

Now here's the thing. The sign directly in front of where I parked had no mention of the street cleaning. In fact as far as I could tell it was the only pole without the street cleaning sign. The actually street cleaning sign was four car lengths back if you include my car. Why exactly would I walk four car lengths to look at a parking sign if one was right in front of me. All the other cars behind me had tickets too. But the cars on the other side of the alley on the same side of the street as mine had no tickets. If you're going to clean the street you clean one whole side of the street. You don't stop in mid-block. That would make no sense.

For a very very brief second I thought about fighting the ticket but decided it was not worth the bother. I have to remember to make a copy of the ticket and the check before I send it off to the D.C. Treasurer. It is good to know that at least one thing in DC works so well, efficiently and brings in money.

Sam's on the mend

Well the test results came back from the vet and they are all fine. I'm still going to give Sam all his medicine which I have to say is once again turning out to be just soooo much fun. The thing is Sam probably won't be getting many more treats since they seem to be the reason for his problem.

He usually get treats when we come in from being outside. Maybe I'll buy him some turkey and give that to him.

Those we've lost

In light of the latest media frenzy, I thought it was important to pause for a moment and remember . . .

Spec. Francis M. Trussel Jr.
Lost May 26, 2007

Spec. Mathew P. LaForest
Lost May 25, 2007

Staff Sgt. Russell K. Shoemaker
Lost May 24, 2007

Cpl. Jonathan D. Winterbottom

Lost May 23, 2007

Cpl. Julian M. Woodall

Lost May 22, 2007.

The War Czar

The "War Czar" testified on the Hill a couple of days ago. I'm not sure what this guy brings to the equation. I reminded of the last time there was a "Czar" that was the drug czar and that didn't work out all that well.

However, what this general had to say was interesting:

He told senators at a confirmation hearing that Iraqi factions "have shown so far very little progress" toward the reconciliation necessary to stem the bloodshed. If that does not change, he said, "we're not likely to see much difference in the security situation" a year from now.

The article goes on to say that in four key areas (revisiting the Iraqi constitution, distribution of Iraq's oil wealth, agreement on provincial elections and a de-Baathification law) there has been almost no progress.

It seems unlikely that there will be any major progress on these issues by September. September which has become the golden month the make or break month. This is when General Petraeus gives his report to Bush and Congress on the surge.

It seems to help boost the next step after the surge which is in the planning stages, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is to step down. Part of the reason giving by Secretary Gates was:

Gates said that his decision was rooted in political considerations and that he took guidance from members of Congress who warned that Pace could face a maelstrom on Capitol Hill where lawmakers would dissect the military's failures in Iraq.

And that would be such a terrible thing. But it make sense if you want to try and sell a next step.

It seems the next step is set up permanent bases in Iraq. Over the past few weeks there has been a concerted effort to use a different analogy on Iraq not comparing it to Viet Nam but to Korea. If you follow that analogy to its logical conclusion, it points to keeping a large American presence in Iraq for decades to come. I cannot image that the American people will allow such a thing to happen. But the wishes of the American people are the last thing this administration has on its mind. It seems the Bush administration wants to have this new plan set up and in effect so that whomever is in the Oval Office next will have to go along with it.

However there just might be a fly in the ointment on this one. In a recent column by Howard Kurtz is this interesting mention:

"This week, the Iraqi parliament 'passed a binding resolution that will guarantee lawmakers an opportunity to block the extension of the U.N. mandate under which coalition troops now remain in Iraq when it comes up for renewal in December.' But if you didn't read that in an exclusive story by Raed Jarrar and Joshua Holland, or if you didn't get an email from a friend (as I did) saying, Didja see this?, you might not know that a majority of Iraqi lawmakers has now fashioned a two-by-four to thump President Bush on the head and end our occupation.

Of course the regular media was interested in more important things like Paris Hilton.

So Bush's plans may be for naught. Clearly the Iraqis don't like the idea of being the next Korea. It will be interesting to see if the Iraqis ask us to leave but the administration doesn't feel that it is time to go what exactly happens.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Lincoln Letter Found

Here's a link to a story in the Post about a find at the National Archives. It is a letter from Lincoln to General Halleck to go after Lee's retreating army. What a find. What an amazing job to have and what an amazing discovery to stumble upon. It makes you wonder what else is waiting to be found at the Archives.

It reminds me of when I was at GW. I went to do research at the Library of Congress. I was doing a paper on the War of 1812 and I got to read a book that was printed in the 1820s. I actually got to sit at a desk and read this book. Wow. Another time I was allowed up into the stacks to look at issues of a magazine that were just too large to move into the reading room. I did my research and then curiosity got the better of me and I looked around to see what other books were there. I found a book in what I think was Portuguese that was printed in the early 1700s.

I can't think of many places where you get to do that.

Oh and by the way the Union army was too battered and tired after Gettysburg to pursue the Confederates. It is one of the many what ifs of the Civil War. Lincoln was disappointed that Meade, who was in charge at Gettysburg, did not pursue Lee.

Sam returns to the Vet

Another fun visit to the vet for Sam. He was on to me this time. He hid underneath my bed to try and avoid going. I was able to get him out from under the bed. I gabbed hold of his back legs and got him into his carrier. Sam was not a happy kitty at all. However, once in the car, he calmed down. That’s the usual way he reacts. Once in the carrier and car, he seems resigned to his fate.

The drive over to DuPont Circle was so much fun. I cannot believe the way people drive sometimes. But then again I really shouldn’t be surprised. It was a very tight fit time wise getting to the appointment on time. After the putzes on the road, I had to find a parking place. It was not as easy as last time. It was street cleaning so there were many spaces but only until 9:30 when they needed to be vacated. I finally found a spot. (I got a ticket because it was an area to be street cleaned. The ticket said sign clearly visible. Well it wasn’t but there’s no sense in fighting the ticket. More on that later.)

I was not in a very good mood. But we made it just about on time. I get in and say I have a 9:20 appointment and they don’t have me down for one. There were able to get me in. They even got me in to see the same doctor I’d seen two weeks ago.

Sam was weighed and his temperature taken. He was the same weight and his temperature was fine. They did a little more to him this time. They took some blood. They got urine. They gave me a de-worming pill. Actually it was a pill and a half. I get to give him the same thing in three weeks. The vet did it really well. She said you do it the same way in three weeks. Yes because it is always that simple when the animal is at home. I think she could have grabbed Sam by the tail him and swung him around the room and he wouldn’t have protested about it. Ok slight exaggeration but only slight.

He is probably all right. In fact his crap is close to normal. I’m still going to give him the medicine I gave him last time. I get to squirt it in his mouth. What fun. I should know about the test results tomorrow. There checking his thyroid function. The vet outlined some of the possibilities but she seemed to agree with me that this was food relater. Now I have to stop all those neighbor of mine from coming into the house when I’m gone and giving Sam treats.

She said he is close to 12 and that this sometimes happens to cats; there stomachs get more sensitive to changes in their diet. All the treats were different from the ones he normally got. I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

What were they thinking

I don't get why there are all the windows in what should have been one big window. Can you open any of them? This is a tear down. There was another home on this site which was a complete and total dump. They bought the house for the land. The old house was torn down and this one is being put in its place. It is a little large in comparison to the other houses around it. But it is not as bad as some tear downs that I've seen. It would be interesting to get into this place and see what it's like when finished.

What's with the columns and the door to no where on the second floor. Granted they might be adding a porch on the second floor but it really doesn't look like it. Also they've been building it since last fall.

This house is for sale. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath. Full basement (It is an unfinished basement) hardwood floors. garage and off street parking in rear. Generous attic space. The list price is $365,000. Granted I don't have the land associated with this place but my house is much bigger than this.

Morning in Washington