Friday, September 28, 2007

Mt. Vernon

A very very interesting trip to Mt. Vernon and the Grist Mill (those are the first few pictures). They have opened a huge new visitor and education center. A must see for anyone who comes to DC.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Charles Town and Haprer's Ferry

Well we went to the slots. We spent $61 and got back $196. Not a bad day. Also had a great lunch and saw a little of Harper's Ferry.

Jack on the street of Harper's Ferry

Jack with our hard earned gains.

The track.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Clean, clean, clean

And clean some more and clean some more. I'm trying to get my house in order for my dad's visit. To that end I'm cleaning and cleaning. The more I clean the more it seems there is to clean.

The front bedroom is finished. I cleaned the rug. I inflated the aero bed. Got the sheets on it. I've laid out towels. I even put hangers in the closet he will be using. Tonight I want to try and finish up the bathroom. My bedroom I'm just going to leave as it is. It has all the stuff that I cleaned out of the from bedroom. The downstairs is in pretty good shape. I want to try and clean the carpets a little and then work on the kitchen floor which is always a pain in the ass.

Then on Wednesday he arrives. We are going to go out and gamble at Charles Town slots in West Virgina on Thursday. I went to AAA today and got maps. Friday we are going down to Mt. Vernon to see the new museum. Saturday during the day is open. But at night we are going to a classical concert at Strathmore. Sunday is pretty open too but I'm sure we'll fill it in.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Attack of the mosquito

It was 3 am Saturday morning, I woke up with my handing itching like crazy. I went into the bathroom to wash it and noticed that I ha four mosquito bites on it. I also saw I had two on my right knee. I turned on all my lights in my bedroom and looked for the the thing but of course could not find it. So I tried to go back to sleep. It was no good. My hand itched too much. So I got up.

I thought I might as well get something useful done. I stripped the bed and then went downstairs and put the sheets in the washer. I then came upstairs and decided I'd wash the dishes as well. I figured that having my hand in water might make the itch go away. It worked a little. I stayed up for another two hours or so doing laundry and cleaning. Then I fell asleep on the sofa for an hour or so. I had to get up and get going around 7.

I'd promised to take a friend shopping for new clothes because he got a new job. We got a very early start and got a great deal accomplished but then we had to wait for places to open. We were looking for dress pants and Target really didn't have any. I got home around noon.

My dad is coming later in the week and I'd wanted to spend time cleaning the house after getting home from shopping. But I was really beat so I didn't get much accomplished in that direction. A couple of small things and that's all.

I decided to get a good nights sleep and start off fresh in the morning. The mosquito had other ideas. I got buzzed and bitten. I kept turning on all the lights in my bedroom looking for the thing but to no luck. Then I decided to just stay in one place and see if it would come to me. Sure enough it did. My first attempt at killing it only wounded it and it fell to the carpet. I think smashed into a pulp. Finally I was able to sleep.

This morning I've shampooed the carpet in my dad's room and will be working on finishing up the laundry.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Capitol sunset

The view outside my back window tonight.

Odds and Ends

Congratulations to Jennifer

Jennifer did her MS ride this past weekend. I understand it was a little chilly and there was some rain. Her original goal was to raise $1,000 then she raised it to $1,200. Jennifer ended up raising $1,507. Fifty percent more than her original goal and almost thirty percent above her revised goal. Way to go. I know how hard this is to do having done 3 AIDS Rides.

Way to go Jennifer!!!!!!!!!

Test your knowledge

Here a story from USA Today about a recent civics test given to college students. There's a link to the actual test in the article. I got 56 out of 60 right. Not to bad if I do say so myself.

Sam goes out again

Actually he got out by accident on Saturday when I was watering and pulling weeds in the back garden. He promptly started eating on grass and of course later puke but at least he puked outside. It's good to know that some things never change

Monday, September 17, 2007

Five years at home

Sunday was the 5th anniversary of moving into my home. I have to say I never thought I would own a home. But my rent just kept going up and up and up. That made it necessary to think of other options. That option was of course to buy a house.

I got my credit situation in order. I canceled the extra credit cards that I had around. I totaled up the amount I could have charged if I had maxed out my cards and it was over $70,000. I got my credit score which was 804. And that is a very very high score.

My realtor said he'd never had a client with such a high score. I also got myself one incredible realtor. It took us six months but I finally found my house.

The contract was accepted on my dad's birthday. There was a contingency which was the owner of the house had to find a place to move before I could move in. That was finalized on my mom and brother's birthday. So this was meant to be my house.

So Happy 5th Anniversary house.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

15th Annual Arts on Foot

Here are some pictures from the Arts on Foot Festival which I went to yesterday. Also some pictures of the new Harman Center of the Arts part of the Shakespeare Theater.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Open ended, unending commitment

At least now we know where President George Bush stands on Iraq. He envisions the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the troops presently serving in Iraq having tours of duty there as well.

Once again there is the two dimensional “thinking” of George Bush on display. His plan leads to victory any other plan leads to defeat. This was immediately parroted by the GOP presidential hopefuls.

Also again and gain about democracy and the incredible things it will bring to Iraq. Well here’s an idea: let’s suppose a democratically elected government of Iraq decides to align itself with Iran. What then Mr. President?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Another Anniversary

So now it is the 6th Anniversary of 9/11. Here are my thoughts from last year.

What's changed?

Are we safer?

More to the point, if this is indeed a conflict the likes of the Second Wold War, why have we not taken more steps to defeat the enemy.

Osama bin Laden is still at large. And it seems using Just for Men to color his beard.

Do we have an energy policy? Our addiction to oil is a national security issue that on one seems interested in addressing.

Are our ports safer?

Is cargo sent by plane screened?

Have the American people been ask to sacrifice anything (other than those in uniform)?

The answer is no.

And that means we really aren't any safer than we were six years ago.

Will next year be any different?

Actual Testimony

Here is the actual exchange between Warner and Petraeus:

WARNER:Are you able to say at this time if we continue what you have laid before the Congress here as a strategy, do you feel that that is making America safer?

PETRAEUS: Sir, I believe that this is indeed the best course of action to achieve our objectives in Iraq.

WARNER: Does that make America safer?

PETRAEUS: Sir, I don't know, actually. I have not sat down and sorted out in my own mind. What I have focused on and been riveted on is how to accomplish the mission of the Multi-National Force-Iraq.

I have not stepped back to look at -- and you've heard, with other committees, in fact, you know, what is the impact on -- I've certainly taken into account the impact on the military. The strain on our ground forces, in particular, has very much been a factor in my recommendations.

But I have tried to focus on doing what I think a commander is supposed to do, which is to determine the best recommendations to achieve the objectives of the policy from which his mission is derived. And that is what I have sought to do, sir.

Making American safer?

This was from Petraeus testimony today in the Senate:

In the Armed Services Committee hearing this afternoon, Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) questioned whether keeping large numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq serves national security interests or limits U.S. options around the world. He asked Petraeus whether his recommended drawdown ultimately would make America safer.

"Sir, I don't know, actually," Petraeus replied. He said he was focused on "accomplishing the mission of the Multi-National Force-Iraq," although the strain on U.S. ground forces from that mission "has very much been a factor in my recommendations."

Actually, Senator Warner asked the question twice. Petraeus didn't answer directly the first time. Senator Warner asked the question again and Petraeus gave the above answer.

I guess the follow up to that is: Then why the hell are we there!!!???

The "Report"

So much to do about this report and it really doesn't seem to matter at all.

Here are a host of links to stories on the General and Ambassador's report to Congress.

Eugene Robinson from the Post.

A couple of important points from his article:

The next six months in Iraq are crucial -- and always will be. That noise you heard yesterday on Capitol Hill was the can being kicked further down the road leading to January 2009, when George W. Bush gets to hand off his Iraq fiasco to somebody else.

It’s clear by now that playing for time is the real White House strategy for Iraq. Everything else is tactical maneuver and rhetorical legerdemain -- nothing up my sleeve -- with which the administration is buying time, roughly in six-month increments.

I could not agree more. The Bush Administration is running out the clock. Because if we are supposed to wait yet another six months to get a progress report on Iraq there won't be time for a significant draw down of troops before Bush leaves office.

Also see the chat he had on the article.

Will also in the Post:

The purpose of the surge, they said, is to buy time -- “breathing space,” the president says -- for Iraqi political reconciliation. Because progress toward that has been negligible, there is no satisfactory answer to this question: What is the U.S. military mission in Iraq?

What “forced” America to go to war in 2003 -- the “gathering danger” of weapons of mass destruction -- was fictitious. That is one reason this war will not be fought, at least not by Americans, to the bitter end. The end of the war will, however, be bitter for Americans, partly because the president’s decision to visit Iraq without visiting its capital confirmed the flimsiness of the fallback rationale for the war -- the creation of a unified, pluralist Iraq.

After more than four years of war, two questions persist: Is there an Iraq? Are there Iraqis?

I guess American troops are just supposed to stay there until there is some sort of political reconciliation. But that could take years not months.

This is from an USA Today editorial:

* Success, if it’s achievable at all, will take years of American commitment, not the shorter time spans that usually are the focus of political debate.

* For the nearer term, that commitment will continue to require a massive U.S. troop presence: 137,000 troops next July, the level that existed before the “surge” of 30,000 more began. How many will be needed a year after that is anyone’s guess.

So Congress is left with a dilemma. Should it view the Iraq glass as half-full and trust Petraeus and Crocker — both credible and savvy — to fill it to the brim? Or should it try to force a pullout now, which would save American lives but also might snatch defeat from the jaws of uncertainty?

At a minimum, it should demand accountability. It’s impossible to believe that Petraeus and Crocker don’t have specific objectives they believe they can achieve over the next several months. If they don’t, they’re not suited to the job. They need to spell them out and recommit to benchmarks already in place.

The main thing to point out is this is indeed essential an open ended commitment which will take years to achieve (if ever) they the Bush Administration owes it to the American people to be honest about it. But honest and Iraq are two things that don't go together in this administration.

Finally see Dan Froomkin piece on the kick the can theory.
One more note maybe the elected representative of the legislative branch could actually ask some tough questions to these guys. Maybe the Senate will do a better job. The House failed in my opinion.

The bottom line: there will be no change in Iraq policy until Bush leaves office.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Stills from the video

Here are a few still images from the video. Not that I'm getting carried away with iMovie in any way shape or form.

Kennedy Center clip

Well I got a small clip to work on YouTube.


I took some video of the open house at the Kennedy Center. I plugged in my camcorder to my computer and was able to easily download the clip into iMovie. The problem is I cannot seem to upload it to the blog. I tried going through Blogger and YouTube but I continue to get error messages. My version of iMovie is old (two years old to be exact) so I'm thinking that that is what the problem is. I will continue to work on this.

Of course the real way to solve the problem would be to buy a new computer but that is not in the cards as of yet. Hopefully next year.

Kennedy Center Open house

Yesterday I went to the Kennedy Center open house. It was a great deal of fun. I got to hear a free concert from the National Symphony Orchestra. There were many many people there. As we would say in my family it was mobbed, mobbed.

The view from the top of the Kennedy Center