Monday, April 30, 2007

Odds and Ends

Sunday paper
I went through the front section of the Sunday Post yesterday in about 10 minutes. Not much news well of course there was news but not much of interest. Nothing of earth shattering importance that was necessary to read. There was an interesting story on Hurricane Katrina. It was about aid offered by foreign governments:

Allies offered $854 million in cash and in oil that was to be sold for cash. But only $40 million has been used so far for disaster victims or reconstruction, according to U.S. officials and contractors. Most of the aid went uncollected, including $400 million worth of oil. Some offers were withdrawn or redirected to private groups such as the Red Cross. The rest has been delayed by red tape and bureaucratic limits on how it can be spent.

Good to know how well the Bush administration is working. The upshot as an official said “we will draw on the lessons learned from this experience to ensure that we make the best use of any possible foreign assistance that might be offered.” Seems to be a running theme with these guys.

Wait. No weight

I reached my goal for April. That was to be under 180 pounds. I would have been a little further along but I had a bad week last week. I didn't exercise very much and ate too much junk. But I am progressing. The goal for May is to be at or below 175. I’m back in exercise mode. I went to the gym on Saturday and today. I’m going to take a walk tonight. I was going to ride the stationary bike but I started doing squats and my legs really hurt so I’m going to rest them today. I’m going to start riding the bike tomorrow. And if the weather is good, this coming weekend, I’m going to get on the bike that you can really ride some place. I think I’m going to ride it to the gym. I’m going to start out slow and build up. I might even try and ride it one afternoon after I get home from work.

I have 7,880 songs on my iPod. I have started going to the Apple site on Tuesdays and downloading the free song for the week. So far three out of the four songs I really like. The fourth one is ok. I’m thinking of these in terms of getting the entire album by that artist. The fourth song I’m not sure I’d want an entire album. I have to figure out if I’m going to buy them from iTunes or Amazon. One of them looks like it has extra stuff (the full version won’t be out until tomorrow). I’m wondering if iTunes offers the extra stuff too.

Garden and stuff
I had an amazing Saturday morning. I got up went to the gym. Then on my way home I stopped off at Home Depot and got flowers for the garden. Along with some garden soil. I was back home before ten. I then planted most of the flowers.

I'm trying to get rid of my lawn. There's not much to it but I still have to take care of it. I'd much rather have flowers. I expanded the plot for flowers from last year. Half way through I realized that I needed more garden soil. I thought I'd do a quick run to Home Depot. Got there and there were no carts and long long long lines. I turned around and went home. Finished planting the flowers. I went back that night when there was practically no one there and got the garden soil. I'm going to add it to the plot as the flowers grow. Now I have to figure out what to do with the rest of the front.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Those we've lost

3,328 have been killed in Iraq. Click on their name or picture to learn more about them.

Here are a few we've lost:

Cmdr. Philip A. Murphy-Sweet

Spec. James J. Coon

Chief Petty Officer Gregory J. Billiter

Sgt. William W. Bushnell

Each one of these guys is a hero to me.

At least once a week I go to the Post site called Faces of the Fallen.

I look at the profile and pictures of those brave men who we've lost. I think by and large they are being ignored by the public. I see many signs saying support our troops. I don't see much genuine action in that area. Once a week on every news show there should be a portrait about one of these amazing people. But somehow coverage of Anna Nicole Smith and now her baby get more coverage than these guys. There is something very very very wrong with that. So, as I said before, from time to time, probably twice a month, I'll be posting some pictures. What we hear on the news are numbers who died; these are faces to go with those numbers.

More on the war

It would be so very nice some day in the not too distant future to longer have this as a topic of conversation. But it will be a topic until Bush is no longer president and even probably beyond that.

There's a great article by E.J. Dionne in the Post yesterday.

A couple of quotes from the article:

The president needs to convince Americans that a decent result in Iraq is still possible. Above all, he needs to answer the essential question: If we shouldn't have timetables now, how long does he think we'll need to keep combat forces in Iraq? Two years? Five years? More? And to what end?

This has been one of the many problems I've had with the way this war has been run. It is not an open ended commitment so we are told. Yet there no attempts at all by the administration to say when the commitment will end or what conditions need to happen for the commitment to end. So in other words the commitment IS open ended.

And this:

Instead, the burden of proof should be on those who have offered years of bravado and false optimism. Why are Americans supposed to believe Bush's current claims? Why shouldn't Congress continue to pressure the president to bring our combat troops home on a reasonable schedule? And why doesn't the president start talking seriously to Congress instead of just shouting at Democrats?

The main problem with the war is this administration was never straight with the public about it. When it was obvious things were not going as planned we got "oh the insurgents are one their last legs" "we're winning the war in Iraq." No, by George, we are a long long way off from even being close to saying that.

I caulk, you caulk, he, she it caulks

Oh my goodness. I actually did a do it yourself home improvement project. I think I did it correctly and hopefully it will turn out ok. When it comes to home improvement projects I'm definitely all thumbs. Not only am I all thumbs but there not even opposable thumbs.

Anyway, the caulk around my bath tub looked horrible (I believe the correct description is black and gross) so I decided I needed to redo it. Having a Home Depot at the end of the street certainly helps. Thursday night after work I go in there to find some caulk. I know there is usually some in the paint department so I started there first. There I found: liquid nails, silicone adhesive, glue for tile and finally some caulk. It came with its own nozzle so I wouldn't need to use a caulk gun.

Last night I pulled all of the old stuff off the tube. Except for one little area which I could not get to come off. I followed the directions on the tube and presto caulked tub.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

More spring pictures

These pictures are from the grounds of the Franciscan Monastery that's near my house.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Coriolanus at the Kennedy Center

I'm not one to usually go and see Shakespeare. But this got such great reviews I had to see it. You can see the whole review in the Post here.

From the review:

The "Coriolanus" at the Kennedy Center turns out to be the most electric night of Shakespeare the festival has presented. The surprise is not that it's brought to you by the Royal Shakespeare Company, but that the production is the best thing the RSC has imported to Washington in its five-year Kennedy Center residency.

It was amazing. It took me a little while to get used to the language. Even after getting used to it, I probably lost about 20% of what was being said. I was all the way to the left in the second row. There were actors running on to the stage off to my side so I had to be careful where I put my feet. The lead actor (pictured below and yes he was that bloody) was incredible. The choreographed fight scenes were first rate. And there was more than one and it was sword upon shield and axe upon shield and then drawn swords. The entire cast was just first rate and very much on for the performance. I walked out at the end and said aloud wow that was amazing. The person next to me heartily agreed.

I've decided I'm going to try and attend an event at the Kennedy Center at least once a month. That might be pushing it and it might be a little expensive. Maybe a better goal is to go to one cultural event each month. That's not counting going to a museum. This would be a play or concert or maybe an author's reading. I once saw Jack Germond at the Barnes and Noble in Georgetown.

Thinking about last night, I have to say it again WOW!!!!

Click on the picture for a larger view. You can really see the intensity that William Houston brings to his role as Coriolanus.

Spring pictures

Pat Tillman

How do you define a hero?

Last night on the Tonight Show I heard an excellent description from Bill Maher. He was talking about what happened at Virginia Tech. He said that those people were victims. They were put in harms way. He went on to say that those people who decide to put themselves in harms way are heroes. He added why aren't the pictures of soldiers killed in Iraq displayed on TV like those from Virginia Tech. A very good question.

Which leads me to Pat Tillman. He is a hero. There are no other words with which to describe him. He gave up a very lucrative career in the NFL to join the army after 9/11. He joined the military with his brother to fight against terrorism. He went to Afghanistan where he was killed. Killed not by the enemy but by friendly fire. A terrible awful tragedy. And what did the army do. It was covered up what happened. Tillman died in the mist of the Abu Ghraib scandal. So I guess they decided the army didn’t need more bad news. The family was lied to. The public was lied to. The people who covered up what happened can only be called one thing cowards.

This from Tillman’s brother:

"The least this country can do for him in return is to uncover who was responsible for his death, who lied and covered it up, and who instigated those lies and benefited from them; then ensure that justice is meted out to the culpable,” Kevin Tillman said, adding: “Anything less than the truth is a betrayal of those values that all soldiers who have fought for this nation have sought to uphold.”

Here’s a link to the story.

Click on the video to hear some of Kevin Tillman’s testimony. It is heart wrenching. Here’s also a story from USA Today.

The USA Today story states:

Last month, the military concluded that nine high-ranking Army officers, including four generals, made critical errors in reporting Tillman’s death but that there was no cover-up of the facts.

What a load of crap. I hope the committee continues to investigate into what happened. People need to be held accountable for what happened. When a soldier pays the ultimate sacrifice for this country his or her family deserves to be told the complete and total truth about how they died. No they don't deserve to be told; they have the right to know.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Virginia Tech at weeks end

Many stories in the Post about this weeks events especially in the Outlook section. This one in particular is good. It is written by a current student.

I find this very poignant:

I will always be proud to say I'm a Virginia Tech alumnus, that I was in Blacksburg during our darkest hour and that we all came together for something much greater than just cheering our football team. I'll be proud to recall the way the football field overflowed for the convocation last Tuesday, with students and faculty tearfully staring up at the live feed from Cassell Coliseum. Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said it best in his speech that day -- we showed the world our fortitude, our community and who we are as people.

I'm ready to leave, but only as a graduate. And a part of me will always remain at Virginia Tech, with a university that has offered me far more than I could ever hope to give back.

In fact the entire week I was very very impressed by the students at Virginia Tech. If any ounce of good can come from this horrible tragedy it was shown by those students. It gives just a little bit of hope.

There of course continues to be the second guessing. The campus should have been put on lock down. Like locking down a area that size happens with a snap of one's fingers. There was even some silly security "expert" on NBC that said the National Guard should have been called out. No one called her on this one. I think it would have taken a couple of days for the guard to arrive. This is not one building. This is hundreds of buildings. It's also thousands of people that have to secured somehow. This from the Post:

"Trying to lock down a college campus with over 25,000 people in over a dozen buildings spread across acres and acres presents monumental challenges. It is like trying to lock down an entire city," said Kenneth S. Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, a consulting firm.

Then there was this reaction from a mental health professional on Larry King. I don't remember the guys name or his exact title. His suggestion was that these types of incidents should be handled by Homeland Security. His idea that people like Seung Hui Cho should be on a government list. It was unclear exactly how bad your mental health would have to be in order to be added to the list. The people on the list would be tracked by Homeland Security and essentially every move they make would be monitored. The doctor thought that in this way when Cho had tried to buy a weapon he would have been denied it.

I have to say my jaw literally dropped open. I don't even know where to start with how many things are wrong with this idea. I would think the idea would be to have people seek out a mental health professional if they though they needed help. To me this idea guarantees that people will avoid seeking help at any cost. It also makes mental health professional an arm of homeland security. This is just a very bad idea. Hopefully this one goes away quickly.

What I hope for is people pause and reflect on what happened. As I said in an earlier post we need to think about:

What in the society so alienates or angers these guys? What conditioning in society makes it so that the only way these guys know how to express or solve the pain they have is through anger, rage and violence.

I hope the families can heal. I know that that will be a very hard task. They will be in my thoughts and prayers.

I'm not sure how to end this post. But what comes to mind is the spontaneous chant that went up at then end of the memorial service:

Let's Go Hokies!

The joys of driving

This is what I ran into well perhaps that's a bad choice of words. This is what I saw happen when I was out driving the past two days.

The first thing I should say is that I do not drive very much. The car I have I got used from CarMax and have put maybe 8,000 miles on it in two years. Around 2,000 miles I put on it when I went out and visited my dad, brother and sister-in-law in Springfield. It was a surprise.

So here's what I run into in a days time.

The light has turned green the car in front of me goes through the light and then stops. The car then proceeds to make a left turn. No turn signal. I guess turns signals were part of an option package they didn't get.

I come to a stop at a light. I'm in the left hand land. There are about half a dozen cars in the lane to my right. There is a no turn on red sign. The first car makes a right on red. The others do the same. Some don't even bother to slow down. They just run the red light.

I'm stopped at a light. The light turns green. I go through. The car to the right of me is in a right turn only lane. It has its own signal. The signal is still red, but the guy turns anyway.

The light is red. The car in front of me runs it. Goes to the next light which also happens to be red but stops at this one. My light turns green. I end up right behind the guy who blew through the light. We sit at this new red light for another good 30 seconds.

These events happened in the two times I went out in the car this weekend. Total driving time less than an hour.

Here are a couple of pictures the day I got my car. It is by the way the first car that I have ever owned.

Oh to be a cat

I decided to post some pictures of Sam because the rest of the posts for today won't be as much fun.

In the evenings Sam has taken to coming downstairs. He will seat himself close to me and meow. Or he will get up on the sofa. This is my cue to pick him up (which he protests some after all he is a cat). I lie down on the couch. I then put a blanket over my legs and place Sam in my lap. He will then situate himself on my legs. I usually read or watch TV while he rests. He can get rather cranky when I need to get up.

Also now that the weather has finally warmed up, Sam takes to sleeping in his chair in the room off of my bedroom.

This is the I do not wish to be disturbed don't even think of sitting down here look.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Adobe Creative Suite

I went to a great seminar on Wednesday about Adobe Creative Suite 3. It was amazing. There are all sorts of new and cool things that have been incorporated into this version of the update. I mostly use InDesign so I was most interested in what was new for it.

And some of the fun things are:

The search function has been really upgraded. You can now even search for color in a document. It's such a pain to delete what you think are extra colors in a document only to find out that it exists in the document somewhere. Word loves to bring in all sorts of loopy extra colors.

You can now put styles in folders in the style pallet which will make it so much easier to find styles. No more scrolling through the style list to find the one you want.

Much more robust controls for bullets whether just regular old bullets or numbered bullets.

You can import master pages just like you can styles from other documents.

The pallets are no longer called pallets and they are all arranged on the right hand side of the screen with symbols for each of them. You then click on the symbol and the menu pops out. This will make it much easier to use.

Anyway those are some of the highlights. It was a very interesting day. We probably won't get at work until the fall. Let all the bugs get worked out by someone else.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A need to smile

I know there is a great deal of very bad, sad and disturbing news this past few days. Sometimes in all the gloom, it's necessary to look at something to make you smile. I hope this will help. It doesn't make what happened go away, but for a few moments, just a few, you forget what's happened.

More bad news

An incredible bloody day in Iraq.

It was one of the deadliest days of the four-year-old Iraq war, and some news agencies suggested the death toll may be higher. Reuters, quoting local officials, said almost 200 people were killed Wednesday. The Associated Press put the number at 183.

This puts a huge dent in the notion that the surge is working. That things are better and improving as Senator McCain stated recently on his return from Iraq. Yes for a short while with overwhelming force an area can be secured. But what happens when the troops leave? That is the question that should be asked of the Bush Administration. When does the surge end? What are the criteria for ending the surge?

The surge will only work if after the troops are gone there is security. I feel today's events show what to look forward to.

What happens next

What happens next. What to do to make sure there is not another Viriginia Tech (didn't we say that after Columbine too).

There will be many questions about the way Cho Seung Hui was able to get the guns he used. (Here's a link to the story about the very strange package that he sent to NBC news. He mailed it between shootings) The unfortunate thing is that it is extremely unlikely that the Virginia legislature will do anything to restrict access to guns. If anything, the agrument will be advanced that if more people had guns they'd have been able to protect themselves against this guy.

The much tougher issue to look at is why people feel compelled to do such things. Ever notice that just about all of these major shootings are done by males. (In fact I can’t think of one that hasn’t been done by a man. )

Why is that?

What in the society so alienates or angers these guys? What conditioning in society makes it so that the only way these guys know how to express or solve the pain they have is through anger, rage and violence. That’s a much harder problem to solve than passing real gun control (and that ain't going to be easy either). It will take lots of thinking and a very radical shift within American society (or any society for that matter). In other words, it will be really hard.

The accessibility of guns makes the ability to do something like this, killing so many people, much easier. But there are much harder questions that also need to be answered to solve this problem. Until we do something about both of these, events like this will continue to happen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Virginia Tech

A very very sad day. There's a great deal that needs to be settled. Many questions to ask. I'm not going to do that. I'm just going to say how very sad I am that this has happened. My thoughts and prays go out to those who have lost loved ones.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cat playing the piano and other things

Here's a funny link for those musically inclined. It is a cat playing the piano. Ah the hours one can waste will surfing YouTube.

I thought today I'd take a break from getting angry about the way the war is being conducted. But then all I have to do is ready the paper. This just came out about how Secretary Gates is extending the tour of all arny troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by three months. This will allow troops that have rotated back to the states to home for a full year. The idea is to make it more fair. How about figuring out a way to get people home for good. After all we don't have an open ended commitment as this administration has said over and over again.

And it seems the Duke lacrosse team members have had all charges dropped against them.
The North Carolina authorities said:
"We believe that these cases were the result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations," he said.

Now there's an understatement if I ever heard one.

But you have to wonder who got the bright idea to invite strippers to a party. I mean isn't that just plain dumb.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Time to smile

Time to take a break from the serious things in life (like who's the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby) and smile. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Peanuts. And this is just one funny strip.

The army is wearing out

This week Time has a very disturbing cover story on what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are doing to the integrity and preparedness of the army.

Bush warned that if Democrats in Congress did not pass a bill to fund the war on his terms, "the price of that failure will be paid by our troops and their loved ones." But they are already paying a price for decisions he has made, and the larger costs are likely to be borne for at least a generation.

The article continues:

So it is no small irony that today's U.S. Army finds itself under the greatest strain in a generation. The Pentagon made that clear April 2 when it announced that two Army units will soon return to Iraq without even a year at home, compared with the two years units have traditionally enjoyed. One is headed back after 47 days short of a year, the other 81. "This is the first time we’ve had a voluntary Army on an extended deployment," says Andrew Krepinevich, a retired Army officer who advises his old service. "A lot of canaries are dropping dead in the mine."

The main consequences of a tightly stretched Army is that men and women are being sent into combat with less training, shorter breaks and disintegrating equipment. When those stories get out, they make it harder to retain soldiers and recruit them in the first place. "For us, it’s just another series of never-ending deployments, and for many, including me, there is only one answer to that — show me the door out," wrote an officer in a private e-mail to Congressman Steve Rothman of New Jersey.

And I think this really sums up what this administration has done to the army:

Nearly 5,000 soldiers and their supporters met recently in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at a gathering of the Association of the U.S. Army, a pro-Army group. A retired general spoke privately of a disconcerting change in recent months in the wounded soldiers he visits at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. "Ever since the war started, they’d be saying all they wanted to do was to get back to their buddies in Iraq to keep on fighting," he said. "Now it’s more about getting out and wondering about civilian jobs. There’s very little chatter about rejoining the unit.

I don't see how the Democrats and, more importantly the media, is letting the Bush administration get away with this. Whenever Bush says anything about the Democrats holding up money can harm the troops there should be question after question about the strain his policies have put on the armed forces particularly the army. And the failure to adequately take care of those soldiers who have been wounded.

Once again this points up the total lack of any sort of planning on the part of this administration. They believed what Cheney said that the vast majority of troops would be home by December. As I've said before the VP forgot to say what year that December would fall in. Post war planning consisted of a big sign on an aircraft carrier saying Mission Accomplished.

The lack of proper planning means people are being wounded and killed. Now you can’t plan for every contingency but then again this is the military and they should have. The problem was and is the failure to recognize something new has to be tried. More troops were needed years ago. If that had been done maybe, maybe things would be different in Iraq. But we will never know.

My feelings on the Bush administration are mirrored by Joel Klein as he said in his column this week in Time:

When Bush came to office--installed by the Supreme Court after receiving fewer votes than Al Gore--I speculated that the new President would have to govern in a bipartisan manner to be successful. He chose the opposite path, and his hyper-partisanship has proved to be a travesty of governance and a comprehensive failure. I've tried to be respectful of the man and the office, but the three defining sins of the Bush Administration--arrogance, incompetence, cynicism--are congenital: they’re part of his personality. They're not likely to change. And it is increasingly difficult to imagine yet another two years of slow bleed with a leader so clearly unfit to lead.

I couldn't agree more.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Walter Reed Again

Just when you think you won't hear any more horror stories coming out of Walter Reed comes this story from the Post. I guess I can't really be surprised but one would think after the stories in the Post that there would have been some attempt to at least seem helpful. But that is far from the case.

It seems to me that, as a soldier is recovering from his wounds, he shouldn't have to always be on guard against the people who are they to supposedly "help" him. To prove me point:
I could never let down my guard. If I had signed one particular form that my outprocessing manager insisted I had to sign, I could have lost my health insurance.

In this case, what exactly is the role of the process manager to have the government pay as little as possible to this soldier? The role should be making sure each wounded returning soldier is entitled to the best care possible.

The final paragraph is particularly poignant:
I finally got my orders. I expect to leave for home next week and return to civilian life. I hope I never have to return to Walter Reed.

I certainly hope so. Thank you for your service and sacrifice Sergeant David Yancy. All the best to you. And here's hoping only good and wonderful things happen to you in the future.


That seems to be the new injury for this was. This happens when a soldier is exposed to an improvised explosive devices or IEDs. The soldier may get traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and not even no he has it. There may be no outside physical injuries in which to diagnose this problem. And a problem it is. There are 1,800 soldiers so far suffering from this. But it is thought that as much as 30% of the forces serving in Iraq may suffer from this. This is the article about that appeared in the Washington Post on Sunday. There was also a follow up on-line discussion today.

As the article points out:
Iraq has brought back one of the worst afflictions of World War I trench warfare: shell shock. The brain of a soldier exposed to a roadside bomb is shocked, truly.

And this point:
"TBIs from Iraq are different," said P. Steven Macedo, a neurologist and former doctor at the Veterans Administration. Concussions from motorcycle accidents injure the brain by stretching or tearing it, he noted. But in Iraq, something else is going on. "When the sound wave moves through the brain, it seems to cause little gas bubbles to form," he said. "When they pop, it leaves a cavity. So you are littering people's brains with these little holes."

And the medical system for soldiers mostly the Verteran's Administration is woefully unprepared for this. Another off-shoot of the poor planning of this administation in regards to the war.

I hope that this gets the attention it deserves and action is taken to make sure anyone who needs treatment gets it.


For most of the day this song has been running threw my head.

It is the song to the fluffer nutter jingle.

The reason for this is that I have a jar of marshmallow topping in my office. It is in there because every once in a while we have sundaes as an afternoon treat. So with out further ado:
Oh you need fluff, fluff, fluff to make a fluffer nutter,
Marshmallow fluff and lots of peanut butter.
First you spread, spread, spread your bread with peanut butter,
Add marshmallow fluff and have a fluffernutter.
When you enjoy, joy, joy your fluff and peanut butter,
You're glad you have enough for another fluffernutter.

And now go out and make your fluffernutter.

I'm not going to I'm just going to have ceral for dinner.

Oh you need fluff, fluff, . . .

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Loosing weight

That age old bug-a-boo loosing weight. I've been trying on and off for the past few years to loose some weight. But about the only thing I've been able to do is gain it. I came back from visiting my family at Christmas time and weighed in at 193 pounds. That is the most I have ever weighed. I decided it was time to really get serious and get at it. This Saturday I was at 178. I hope to loose about 8 to 10 more pounds.

I've taken a good long hard look at what I eat and have made some changes. I don’t make sandwiches and bring them to work for lunch anymore. I still go out and have a sandwich but almost always from Subway. My lunches now are salads. I have lettuce (the good stuff not iceberg) along with part of a chicken breast along with tomatoes and some veggies. For dinner a couple times of week I have cereal. The other days I’ll have rice and frozen vegetables and sometimes just vegetables.

I also bought a diet book called: You on a Diet. And someday I might actually read it but I've heard good things about it. The big thing about this book is not so much how much you weigh but how big your waist line is. The thing to try not to have in your food in high fructose corn syrup. This is supposed to be very bad for you. The fat it produces goes straight to your gut. And high fructose corn syrup is in just about everything. Apple sauce, salad dressing, cookies, pasta sauce and bread. Yes even bread. And of course Coke.

So I’m trying to avoid high fructose corn syrup to the best of my ability. I’m cutting down on the numbers of Cokes that I have. What I’m trying to do is this: I have a Coke one day and then not have one the day after. Then have a Coke and wait two days for the next one. The idea is to add a day between each Coke that I have.

I’m also doing more exercising. I’m going to the gym, or at least trying to go, three times a week. I’m also doing walks two to three times a week. I ridemy stationary bike three to four times a week. My goal is to ride for 40 minutes each day. What I do is eat around 6 pm. I then watch the first 20 minutes of ABC World News. At 10 to 7 pm, I go upstairs and start riding the bike. Then at 7 pm I either watch the NBC news or the Simpsons. I've found that watching TV makes the time fly. My goal is ride for an hour three days a week.

And that’s my update on my waist line which I hope will continue to get smaller along with the number on the scale.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Gas prices

It's not even close to being summer and gas prices are on the way up. Somehow the detention of the British sailors in Iran helped increase prices.

I still don't understand how an event like this leads to the immediate increase in the price of gasoline. I understand why it would raise prices for crude oil but how does the price of gasoline (which has already been refined, processed and is in the pipe line) increase because of this crisis. I just don't get it.

As to prices here's a tale of two gas stations. One is a BP. One is a Hess. They are about two blocks apart from each other on Rhode Island Avenue. At BP the price for regular is $2.95 a gallon. At Hess the price for regular is $2.73. That's a difference of 22 cents a gallon. Who in their right mind would be buying gas at the BP station.

I have to assume that this is the precursor to $3 a gallon gas for the upcoming summer.

April Fools' Day a week late

Sunday was April Fools' Day but it seems it didn't happen until last night. DC has had a cold snap and last night we got snow. Snow in April. Yes that is indeed an April Fool.

If you want to learn more about April Fools' Day click here.

Here are some pictures of the dusting of snow we got.

Friday, April 06, 2007

For those who have fallen

At a street corner near where I work is this very sobering reminder about those who have sacrificed for this war.

And here is a face to go with one of those numbers. Click on his picture to learn a little more about this very brave man.

I think at this very important religious time it is crucial to pause and reflect on those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this country. No matter how I feel about this war; these brave men and women are heroes to me.

The Washington Post has a section called faces of the fallen.

From time to time I will be taking pictures of the signs and featuring one of these fine soldiers who are fighting and dying in Iraq.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Winter Returns

Brrrrrr. It's going to get cold here. The next four nights it will be below freezing. Just when you thought spring had finally arrived. I've taken in as many of my plants as possible. Unfortunately the hyacinths are going to get frosted. I can't think of a way to cover them because the wind is too strong. Some are also past their prime. So instead of letting them die I cut some and brought them inside. Now the whole house smells of hyacinths. It is wonderful. And they look great too.

Supposedly by the beginning of next week things should be returning to normal. I have to remember to bring a sweater to work tomorrow because the heat didn't seem to be on at all today. I'm thinking of staying in and reading a good book this weekend.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Global warming

The fight over global warming continues. You see more and more news reports about its impact on the planet. There was a report on World News about Kiribati which is a island nation in the Pacific. It is literally disappearing.

Right now, the children of Kiribati, who have a literacy rate of 90 percent, spend their free time playing along the shore. But their playground could be eliminated if expected global warming trends progress, and the surrounding ocean water becomes warmer, pushing the seas higher as waves strengthen.

The president of the country believes that in 50 years most of his country will be underwater.

There are still some people who say it is not happening. When Al Gore testified on Capitol Hill there were the usual Republicans that opposed what he was saying most notably Senator Inhofe. But not all the Republicans think that way:

Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) admitted he paid to see “An Inconvenient Truth.” Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), implicitly rebuking flat-Earth colleagues, said: “It’s possible to be a conservative without appearing to be an idiot.” Barton flashed a grin of annoyance.

I understand the aspect of wondering if the scientific evidence points to this being a normal event or an event that man is helping to accelerate. What I don’t understand is the reluctance to take any action on this at all.

This is about reducing CO2 admissions. In layman terms reducing the amount of pollution that is produced. And the reason we would not want to do this is what. There hasto be a first step. There has to be some direction given to people on what theycan do to help. Because people are concerned about this issue. They just need someguidance on what they can do to help solve the problem. Time magazine this week has a cover on global warming. They have a list of some 50 things that can be done to help reducing the consumption of CO2. One is changing you light bulbs which I’m doing. Another one is buying an insulated blanket to put over your water heater which is something I will be looking into.

The thing is there is a great deal that people can do. Now taking individually many of these things don’t add up to a whole lot. But taken together they can make a huge difference. What’s needed now is some leadership from the political side. Unfortunately that won’t be happening until the Bush Administration is no longer around.

After all no less than John McCain said that global warming is a fact and the case is closed. What remains open is what steps will be taken to address the problem. Steps that we all need to take sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

His Royal Highness

Yes, he is the master of the house.

He enjoys going outside and rolling around in the sun.

He loves to sit in the livingroom window and watch the world go by.

Taking the stairs one at a time and then running up and down them so fast all you see is a flash of gray.

Demanding to be let out in the mornings so he can go and eat grass.

He enjoys watching HDTV especially sporting events (I think he likes basketball the best).

Here he is taking up residence in the back yard.

So here's an homage to Sam the Cat.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Flowers in the back yard

Hyacinths are probably just about my favorite spring flower. They smell so wonderful. This are from my back yard.

Friday at the TIdal Basin

This is one of the reason I love living in Washington. There is something very special to be able to walk around the Tidal Basin and see all the blossoms in bloom. It is something I look forward to every year. I also got to see cherry blossoms when I was in New Zealand six months ago.