Wednesday, May 29, 2013

An Evening at the Newseum — MacNeil/Lehrer on the Kennedy Assassination

I got there around 6 to see the exhibit 3 days which chronicles the events of those fateful 3 days. They have the actual camera that Zapruder used to film the presidential motorcade. There was a video that showed a time line of the afternoon by showing what was on TV. What shows were interrupted and the slow roll of out of information on the assassination. Probably the most famous moment was Walter Cronkite’s famous announcement that the president was dead.

Then it was on to hear the recollections of Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer on that day in Dallas. Lehrer worked for the afternoon paper in Dallas and had been assigned to cover the presidential arrival and departure at Love Field. MacNeil was with NBC and traveling with the president.

They both talked about the nasty incidents that had taken place in Dallas. Adlai Stevenson being hit in the head with a sign and Lady Bird Johnson being spit on. Both said that the Dallas police were afraid there would be some sort of incident like that when the president was there. Of course the thought of assassination wasn’t in anyone’s mind at the time.

MacNeil detailed how he was in the first seat of the press bus behind the motorcade. He was looking at the president’s speech that was going to be given that day. MacNeil was trying to decide the best quote to use in his story. When he heard what he thought was a back fire. But then there were two more sounds which he recognized as shots. He got let off the bus and started frantically to look for a telephone. He ran into the school book depository. He asked a man coming out of the building where there was a phone. The guy pointed to someone else and said ask him. In all likelihood the man MacNeil asked was Lee Harvey Oswald. MacNeil said it really didn’t good look at the guy because his focus was on finding a phone.

Lehrer detailed how he covered the arrival of the president and then had lunch. A waitress came in and screamed that the president had been shot. Lehrer was told to head over to Parkland Hospital and find out what was going on.

They then talked about how this event changed how America looked at things and the security around the president. They both said there really wasn’t any security to speak of. The motorcade route had been published in the newspaper which is of course something that wouldn’t happen today. Lehrer said that a secret service agent on the advance had gotten clearance to have the route published. The idea was to have as many people along the route as possible.

In any discussion about the Kennedy assassination, there was talk about a conspiracy to kill the president. Both men thought Oswald acted alone. Lehrer his paper handed him the lead on the story and he tracked down ever story possible. But he personally thought Oswald acted alone and was simply crazy.

Toward the end Judy Woodwruff brought up the event that brought the two of then together 10 years after the assassination and that was the Watergate Hearings. There was some discussion about that and then questions from the audience.

A very interesting and informative evening.

Pictures from the Kennedy Exhibit

Early edition of the Baltimore Evening Sun

The flash report from UPI about shots being fired

Zapruder's Camera

Johnson being sworn in.

Arriving at Love Field

Wednesday Treat

A very funny couple of strips about Snoopy and rabbits.

Happy hump day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Putting Up the Gazebo

The gazebo all put together.
My friend Christian had his gazebo ruined last year in one of the many storms that we had. It wasn’t the big derecho we had at the end of June. This happened in September. Essentially the wind picked up the gazebo and smashed it against the fence. Not much left of it.

So it needed to be replaced. Christian got another one. He asked for help in putting it together and in return he supply lunch and we’d get to swim in his pool. I volunteered and said I’d bring chocolate chip cookies as an added incentive.

Saturday dawned nice and sunny but in the 50s and rather windy. The idea of swimming in the pool fell by the wayside but putting the gazebo together did not.

I arrived around 10 and Christian and I started on assembly the gazebo. Our other volunteer, Diane, arrived about a half hour later. Then we started assembling in earnest.

I wish I’d taken a picture of all the parts there were to this thing. I will say that there were 97 of one screw which was labeled Z1. What was a little strange is the parts ran the gamut of the alphabet in labeling. Once they ran out of letters, instead of using double letters like AA they used letters and numbers. So there were parts labeled Z1 through Z10.

We started working on the patio (where over time we got some sun) by the pool but then had to move the gazebo to where it was going to be long tern. This of course took us out of the sun and it seemed that the wind decided to come up then. But we persevered.

We only came across a couple of things that we couldn’t figure out. One was a light that is solar powered. The light fits into the ceiling of the gazebo. But the cord from the light to the cord to the solar panel were both male plugs and wouldn’t fit into each other. In fact it looked like the solar panel was not the right one for this gazebo. The other was a flap that was supposed to connect to the top of the gazebo. A medal rod went down each side of the flap. There were three places to put in screws to attach it to the gazebo. The thing is no matter how hard we tried we couldn’t get all the screw holes to match up. So we ditched the metal rods and just screwed in the fabric. I don’t think it will make all that much difference.

Once we gotten the roof completed we had to lift it up on its legs. Thankfully there were a couple of guys working on putting in windows in a house nearby. Christian got them to came over and help lift it up and we screwed the roof to the legs or is it the legs into the roof. I’m not sure.

There were a couple of more things to do but we broke for lunch. By that time it had warmed up and was very nice out. After lunch we finished up.

In all we did a really good job in putting the thing together. It didn’t take all that long either. I had fun doing it. And it turned out great as you can tell by the pictures.

Diane putting it together

Christian working on the last major step to the Gazebo

The final product

Monday, May 27, 2013

Battle of the Beltways

It's the Battle of the Beltways for the next four games. Washington vs Baltimore. 

Cheering on the Nats

Sunday, May 26, 2013

2Political Episode 87


2Political Podcast Episode 87 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).

This episode was recorded nearly three weeks ago, but Arthur was too busy to edit it. Then, he had Internet problems that prevented us from recording a new episode. So, we decided to go ahead and post this one, anyway, just in case the Internet gods keep us from recording.

We begin this episode with a Special Rant. Actually, Jason’s story is kind of a case study in some of what’s still wrong with the USA’s healthcare system. That leads to a compare/contrast discussion of bill paying in the US and New Zealand. And banking. And bill paying. We’re wide-ranging.

When we turn to politics, we talk about the US’ rightwing religious nutjobs, inspired by the coming out of Jason Collins. We dismiss the far right’s claim of being “oppressed” or “victims”. It ended up being a wide-ranging discussion about the Republican right, which leads on to immigration reform and gun law reform. We mention the Internet several times, too.

You can 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 Rifle Association Bans Bleeding “Obama” Target, Others Remain – BuzzFeed Politics
At Ft. McHenry – Jason’s blog post on the flag raising ceremony at Ft. McHenry.
More than Just Fish at the Baltimore Aquarium
Jason’s Blog
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Nationals Beat the Phillies 5-2, Zimmermann Get Win 8

Here's how the Post described the win:

Against division rival Philadelphia at Nationals Park on Friday, the Nationals’ offense finally found its footing in a four-run fifth inning, their highest single-inning output in a month. The explosion propelled Washington to a 5-2 victory. The Nationals not only put runners on against Phillies right-handed starter Kyle Kendrick, they also drove them in. Their offensive efforts supported a strong outing by Jordan Zimmermann, who battled a stiff neck on a cold night to become the first National League pitcher to reach eight wins.

And it was a cold night. Lower 50s by the time the game ended and a fairly brisk wind. I'm thankful I thought through what I was going to wear so I had enough layers to stay warm.

Zimmermann had a couple of hiccups along the way which allowed two runs to score. But he then settled down and because of that down went the Phillies.

I was surprised that weren't more people at the park. The row I sat in was essentially empty.

There was some additional drama in the 4th inning when Tyler Moore was waved home. He smashed into catcher Erik Kratz and sent him flying but Moore was still out. I have to say this made the crowd a little nervous but in the next inning Nationals' bats exploded and they scored 4 runs. Still there were other opportunities that the Nats squandered. Most notably in the 8th when they had bases loaded and couldn't bring in any runs. This is a problem when the Nats are bad have. They get runners in scoring position but have two outs and don't get anything for the effort.

The other surprise, a very nice one at that, was Steve Lombardozzi who was playing for the injured Danny Espinosa. Lombardozzi was named player of the game. As Nats Insider commented:

Lombardozzi couldn't have picked a better night to get hot at the plate. With Danny Espinosa now sidelined with a fracture in his right wrist, Lombardozzi knows he's going to get at least a couple consecutive starts at second base. If he keeps doing what he did tonight, he could get more than that. He singled in the second, singled in the fourth and then delivered a two-out, two-run double in the fifth for his third hit in as many at-bats. The Nationals have been waiting for Lombardozzi (and others on their bench) to heat up. Perhaps this was the start of a nice run for the backup second baseman.

In all a great night.

A rather gloomy night at Nats' Park

Jordan winds up for the pitch

And there it goes

Ian Desmond reacts to a called third strike

Friday, May 24, 2013

Jordan Zimmermann Wins Number 8

That's all that needs to be said. 

Cheering on the Nationals

Another game at Nats Park. Cheering Jordan Zimmermann on to win number 8. 

And of course the presidents are here too. 

A Few Little Pet Peeves

Everyone one of us has them our pet peeves that seem to get to us. Most of the time they are small little things that have a larger impact on us then they probably should. So here are a couple of mine.

The morning weather forecast

Three to four days of the work week I go to the gym in the morning. I would like to say I’m extremely organized when I get up each morning and that I always get up when I should. But that doesn’t always happen. Needless to say some mornings I’m running around trying to get out the door and not be late. I like to listen to the morning weather to know what the weather for the day is going to be like (I know really obvious one there).

I get up and turn on channel 4 to the weather. And here’s what I get. I’ll get the morning forecast. Here’s what the weather will be like by 8 am and then what it will be like around noon. If I want the rest of the day I need to come back in then minutes. Or I might get the forecast for the day but if I want the extended forecast again I have to come back in ten minutes. Guess what I don’t have ten minutes to wait around for the weather. I’m moving around the house to get ready to leave. I can leave the TV on and hope I end up by the TV when the next forecast comes along. Most of the time I’m upstairs getting my clothes on or washing my breakfast dish and I miss the thing.

I decided one morning when I didn’t go to the gym to see what other stations did. And they all do something similar to what channel 4 does. They never seem to give the entire forecast at one time. Come back in a few minutes and we’ll give you that information. I realize this is done so people will stay watching the station but come on. How about at the hour and half hour an full day full extended forecast. How hard could that possibly be.

The inability to respond

In this day and age with Twitter, Facebook, texting, e-mail how hard can it be for people to respond when asked. I can not tell you the number times I’ve ended a text or e-mail with please let me know, is this OK, does this work for you, please get back in touch about this or some variation on the above.

The response I get this the great electronic, internet void. It’s like my email or text has been sucked into a black hole. How hard is it to respond along the lines of I don’t know this really hard phrase: yes that’s fine or it works for me or just plain old simple yes. Really really really really hard to do.

The excuses I get oh sorry I forgot to get back to you (which I think is a cover for it never occurred to me that I needed to respond at all). This isn’t like you have to write a letter, address the envelope, find a stamp and then mail your response. All you have to do his hit reply on whatever device is in front of you type in three or four words and hit send. The ironic part of this is the majority of the people that pull this are the people who get all bent out of shape when you don’t respond immediately to them.

People in the way

I’m not sure that’s exactly the right way to describe this one. Here’s an example. I’m coming up the escalator at Metro Center the other day. The person in front of me has a piece of luggage on wheels. They get off the escalator and are just about in the center of the walk way. Now this walk way widens out but it takes a while to do that. By being in the center or the walk way the luggage is off to the left. Essentially preventing anyone from getting by them.

Another example, also on the Metro, is people going through their bag, purse or wallet looking for their smart card while standing in front of one of the turnstiles. It should not be a surprise that you need your card while leaving the Metro. Have it ready before you leave or get out of the way while you are looking for it.

Here’s another one. People who stop at the top or the bottom of an escalator. Very simple advice move out of the way. Stopping is a great way to get someone hurt.

These things seem to happen a lot in Washington especially during tourist season and are most obvious on the Metro. The thing people have to realize is where they are in the flow of people and make sure they are not in the way.

And that’s the end of my pet peeves, at least for today.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Funny Story of a Snake and Bunny

Stumbled on this one when I was going through some old e-mails.

Once upon a time, in a nice little forest, there lived a blind little bunny and a blind little snake. One day, the bunny was hopping through the forest, and the snake was slithering through the forest, when the bunny tripped over the snake and fell down. This, of course, knocked the snake about quite a bit.

"Oh, my," said the bunny, "I'm terribly sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you. I've been blind since birth, so, I can't see where I'm going. In fact, I don't even know what I am." "It's quite okay," replied the snake.

"Actually, my story is much the same as yours. I, too, have been blind since birth. Tell you what, maybe I could kinda slither over you, and figure out what you are, so at least you'll have that going for you."

"Oh, that would be wonderful," replied the bunny. So the snake slithered all over the bunny, and said, "Well, you're covered with soft fur; you have really long ears; your nose twitches; and you have a soft cottony tail. I'd say that you must be a bunny."

"Oh, thank you! Thank you," cried the bunny in obvious excitement. Then the bunny suggested to the snake, "Maybe I could feel you with my paw, and help you the same way you've helped me."

So the bunny felt the snake all over, and remarked, "Well, you're scaly and smooth, and you have a forked tongue, no backbone and no balls. I'd say you must be either a politician, an attorney, a banker or possibly someone in upper management...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Seeing the Summer Blockbusters

I’ve seen both Iron Man 3 and Star Trek Into Darkness on their opening weekends. I saw them at the Regal Cinemas at Gallery Place. I’ll talk more about each movie but first a little about getting into the place.

Both times I saw the films I picked the first show of the day on Sunday. I thought there would be fewer people and for Iron Man I had to meet someone for brunch. Both times I get to the theater about half an hour early. Both times the doors are locked. Now the way the theater is set up it is a very small mall. The box office for the theater in the lobby of the mall. The theater itself is on the third floor.

I don’t understand why the doors were locked. Sunday morning some of the theaters are rented out for church services. When I saw Iron Man I was let in by someone from the church. I then went over to the other side of the building and let someone in. We had looked at each other across the lobby earlier and had both shrugged our shoulders as to why the doors were locked. I think we were both thinking why can’t we get in. The second time I was let in by the security guard. Now sometime after being let in all the doors were unlocked. But again you think half an hour before the movies starts the doors should be open.

One more quick comment. For both movies I saw between 7 and 10 previews lasting close to 20 minutes. First thing how do you remember that many previews. Ask someone the previews they saw and very few people remember one let alone 10.

Now on to the movies.

Iron Man 3
I enjoyed the film. It was fun. Robert Downey has the wise-cracking Tony Stark down. There are some very funny exchanges with a kid, Harley, (Harley tries to ask all sorts of questions the worm hole Stark went through in the Avengers which causes Stark to have a panic attack and well there are a few couple of scenes with this theme) about in Tennessee where Stark has gone to trace down a lead about the evil villain the Mandarin. Turns out the Mandarin is not all that he seems or actually more than he seems. I won’t give away this very interesting twist but will say that Ben Kingsley is very menacing and well funny at the same time.

The final climatic battle scene in the ship yards is nothing sort of spectacular. Make sure you stay until the very end of the movie. Yes that means after all the credits role for another very funny scene. That’s all I’ll say on it. Stay until the end.

I saw the movie in 3-D. It did add to some of the battle scenes but I’m not sure it is totally necessary to see the movie in 3-D.

Star Trek into Darkness
First off I think 3-D really added to the film. Especially when Kirk and Khan are shot from the Enterprise to attempt to board the Vengeance. Very very effective film making here.

It’s not all that easy to tell who the good guys are from the bad guys. Or maybe how bad the bad guys are. There seems to be two levels here.

There is a very funny scene where Kirk, Spock and Uhura are descending to Kronos. Uhura makes a snide remark toward Spock (it seems they’ve been fighting). Says she doesn’t want to talk about and then proceeds to talk about it. She brings Kirk into the discussion as well. What adds to the humor is they have their backs to each other as they man their posts on the ship.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays the evil Khan. Or at least we think he is the evil villain until we find out a little more on what is going on and how he’s been used. Kirk ends up being played by both Star Fleet and Khan.

There is homage to the Wrath of Khan which I will only mention but it is very well done.

In all a really good movie. All the actors are very good. The building of friendship and trust between the characters is wonderful to watch. This is especially true of Kirk and Spock. Highly recommend this one.

I think I’m going to have to see it again.

Monday, May 20, 2013

More Peanuts and Baseball

I can under stand how Charlie Brown feels.

I have a bad feeling about the way the Nationals have been playing lately.

Updates to the Hospital Bill and Metro

Here's an update on those two posts.

Medical Bill

I called the collection agency a couple of days after I did the post. I essentially did all of the talking.

I explained the series of events regarding payments. My inability to get a bill that accurately reflected the amount of money I owed. I said I didn't think it unreasonable to get that. I said it was ridiculous that not once but twice it took a month for the hospital to cash my check. And that fact made it impossible for me to determine the actual balance owed. I said I wasn't going to over pay the bill because then it would take months to get that money back.

The guy on the other end agreed with just about everything I said. In fact he barely got in a word edgewise with that I had to say. He agreed that overpaying was not the way to go because it would take a while to get that money back. That it was not out of the question to get an itemized statement showing the actual amount owed.

He said he could send one out but that it would be quicker if I called the hospital and asked for one. He gave me the number to call. I called. I left a message for someone to contact me about getting a bill. No response. A couple of days later I called and left another message. No response. I called last week. Have yet to receive an answer.

I did receive an itemized statement last week. One small problem it did not include the payment I made at the start of the month. A big surprise. What was a big surprise is that it only two a few days to cash my check this time instead of a month. I'm going to be sending small random payments each week. This way the hospital can't say they haven't been receiving any payments from me.

And I'll continue to call to see if I can get anyone to call me back about getting an itemized statement. I won't be holding my breath on that one.


It would have been hard to top the weekend experience I had with Metro but last Tuesday did. I can usually leave my house and get to my office in around half an our give or take a few minutes one way or the other. Last Tuesday I left my house at 8:05 and didn't reach the office until 9:25. It was just a complete and total mess.

It seems there were two problems on the Red Line which of course had an impact on trains going in both directions. While I was waiting on the platform at Rhode Island Ave. in a span of about 10 minutes I say no less than six trains were going in the direction of Glenmont which of course was not the direction I needed to go. In that time frame no trains were going in the direction of Shady Grove the direction I needed to go.

When a train finally pulled in going to Shady Grove it was completely packed. In fact people practically fell out of the train when the doors were opened. I think well maybe when the next one comes along. The next train sign showed the next train in 10 minutes. It was packed. In fact most trains were packed because of the gap in time between them.

I decided I would go up to Fort Totten and then transfer to the Green Line and get to down town that way. But one small catch, by the time I decided to do that, the next train going in that direction wouldn't be arriving for another ten minutes.

Finally, finally trains started running in the direction I needed. One was finally not completely packed and I was able to get on. But we had to stop before each station because there was a train servicing the platform. So Metro went from not enough trains to too many.

What I don't understand is, why one of those six trains going to Glenmont that went by in that 10 minute period, wasn't taken out of service and sent back in the other. this would have been a completely empty train and could have helped ease the congestion. But then again that would be taking into consideration what passengers were going through and what could help them. And that's something Metro rarely seems to do.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Blossoms in the Front Yard

The two roses bushed in my front yard are finally blowing. The red ones will only last a week or so but the yellow ones should be blooming until the weather gets colds. Sometimes that's as late as December! Oh and there are some lilacs too.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Little More of Winter

This are two really cool pictures that my dad took of the snow Springfield had back in April.

Both pictures are of his back yard. What I think makes them so amazing is they almost look like they are in black and white.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Farce of Metro’s Weekend Service

Farce is defined as:
1: a savory stuffing : forcemeat
2: a light dramatic composition marked by broadly satirical comedy and improbable plot
3: the broad humor characteristic of farce
4: an empty or patently ridiculous act, proceeding, or situation

synonyms: caricature, cartoon, mockery, joke, parody, sham, travesty

Related Words
burlesque, comedy; lampoon, takeoff; counterfeit, fake, feigning, forgery, hoax, humbug, knockoff, phony (also phoney), pretense (or pretence), sham, simulation

I’ll take definition 4 to define Metro’s service over the past weekend. And each of the related words could apply to the level of service just as well.

I’ll start off with Friday. I come home from work and notice that there are printed signs on the platform like the one in the picture. I think that’s a good idea. Put up signs telling people work is being done over the weekend and which side of the platform the trains will be running on. Like I said good idea.

Saturday I head out early (a little after 7:30) because I know there is track work to get to the TRX class my gym has which starts at 8:30. I get to the platform and a train comes in. It’s going in the direction of Glenmont. Remember the sign that said all trains were boarding on one side. Well the train to Glenmont pulls it on the other side. So in fact trains are running on both tracks. People were a little confused at first about what was going on but I think most people going in the direction of Glenmont got on this train.

I wish that was the direction I needed to go but it wasn’t. So I got to wait. The next train sign at first said there would be a train in 8 minutes. Then all of a sudden it changed to 20 minutes. The woman near me on the platform asked if that had just changed to 20 minutes. I said it had. She was less than pleased about that. She said she was going to be late. She quickly pulled out here phone and called someone telling them she would be late. Finally the train showed up. Even leaving early I barely made it to my class on time.

After the class, I got my hair cut and ran a couple more errands and then headed back home. Another fun ride on the Metro. I got on at the DuPont Circle stop. The next train signs showed two trains coming. Both of which would stop at the New York Avenue stop. I of course needed a train that would go beyond that point. What I don’t understand is why the train going the direction of Glenmont (the train I needed to be on) couldn’t be listed as well. Why not let people going beyond New York Avenue know how long they would have to wait for a train? I got off at Union Station and waited. In all my commute from DuPont to Rhode Island Ave took over 45 minutes. Normally it should be less than half that time.

On to Sunday. I’m going to the Nats’ game (unfortunately they lost but Teddy did win the president’s race) and again I decided I needed to leave early. In part because of Metro but also because I was getting tickets for the game I’m going to in June with my fellow volunteers from Food and Friends (it worked out really well too because I’m a season ticket holder and  I got $4 off each ticket).

Once more on to the platform at Rhode Island Ave. Here’s what I see on the next train sign. As you can see it is really really helpful. All you know is that a train is coming and it will arrive in 2 minutes. Well not exactly. There is finally information posted as to the number of cars (turns out it is 8) where it is going (Shady Grove) and when it will arrive. But is not 2 minutes it is 8 minutes. Here’s a quick question why post the first information when it is wrong.

My next stop was at Gallery Place to transfer to the Green Line to get to Nats’ Park. I get down on the platform and along comes a train. It says special on it. There’s a picture of it below. The little problem with that is it doesn’t say if is this a Green Line or Yellow Line train. I’m glad it’s special but special to which line would be helpful. The next train sign doesn’t help with this; it doesn't say. The doors open and people get on.

Only once people have boarded the train does the train operator come on and say this is a Yellow Line train. It is “special” because it isn’t going to the end of the line (track work on the Yellow Line closed stations this weekend). About half of the people who’ve just gotten on the train get off. They assumed it was a “special” going to the ball park. Wouldn’t it have been simpler as the doors were opening or even before the doors open for the train operator to announce it was a Yellow Line train. Or maybe even a station manager to announce over the loud speaker the special train now on the track is a Yellow Line train.

I was lucky that the friend I went with to the game gave me a ride home or there would be tales from the Metro to relate.

Where to start.

How about just getting the correct information out to people on what’s going on in the Metro system? Great that you posted signs saying which side of the tracks ALL trains would be running. But why put up the sign when that’s not what’s happening. Why post times on the next train sign when that information is incorrect? Why posts time for when the next train is going to be in a station when it’s not going to be there in that time? How can there be a training arriving in 2 minutes, then it’s 8 minutes, then it’s 20 minutes? Why not just leave the next train sign blank until you actually know when a train is going to arrive? I realize that track work needs to be done. That regular Metro riders will have to face this for 4 or more years to come.

But why can’t Metro get the basic information right. Which track the trains are running on and when they will be in the station. This most basic and fundamental information Metro just can’t get right.

And that is the farce of Metro service on the weekend.

Sunday, May 12, 2013