Monday, July 30, 2007

Dog Fighting and Michael Vick

A whole host of stories about Michael Vick and his alleged dog-fighting ring.

A story on his plea.
A story on one of his co-defendants taking a deal.
Vick order to stay out of training camp.
The NAACP asking for fairness.

I could list many more. Nike suspending his shoe line. etc.

First off, I have to say I've never been one to buy into the hype about Vick being one of the best players in the NFL. He is very interesting to watch there is no question about it. His running ability is fantastic but his passing ability leaves a great deal to be desired. Vick has never measured up to the hype.

I was trying to figure out how I feel about all of this media frenzy over the dog fighting. It is interesting that the NAACP asked for fairness where it concerns Vick. I wonder what its position was on the Duke Lacrosse players.

But the cable "news" wasted no time on it. Nancy Grace has show after show after show on it (I don't watch the show but it is hard not to notice what she has on when you are surfing channels). In fact on her show was played an actual dog fight. It was played over and over and over again (I actually did stop and watched this. I could not for the life of me believe that this was being shown but then I remembered whose show it was). All sorts of "experts" were brought in to voice their opinions on what should be done. Ms Grace is once again serving as judge and jury. She has to be one of the biggest wind bags on cable except of course for the biggest: Bill O'Reilly.

So I'm going to hold off on deciding on Mr. Vick and let the legal system takes its course (I know what a concept). If Mr. Vick is guilty, his career is over and it may be over even if he is found not guilty.

The bottom line is that this is just a gross and disgusting thing to do to another living thing.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jennifer Rides for MS

My sister-in-law, Jennifer, is riding the MS 150 bike tour to help fight multiple sclerosis. Here is a link to her MS page. If you can help support her, that would be greatly appreciated. Remember no gift is too small. And every dollar can make a difference. So please help Jennifer reach her goal of $1,000.


Walter Reed and Beyond

Recommendations on how to fix the military health care system came out earlier this week.

This is in the wake of the Walter Reed scandal and a whole host of reports on how badly returning soldiers are being treated. I like this comment from Tony Snow:

White House press secretary Tony Snow initially told reporters yesterday that Bush would not act immediately on the panel’s advice. “He’s not going to be making recommendations; he’s not going to be issuing calls for actions,” Snow said.

Bush later said that he would implement the recommendations as quickly as possible. Bush had a great great phot-op with two soldiers who had lost legs in combat.

I think this sums the whole situation rather nicely:

“First, President Bush shorted the VA by $1 billion, then he allowed the shameful disaster of Walter Reed and now the White House is pledging more inaction in the face of yet another report on the poor standard of care for our veterans. I proudly supported a $6.7 billion boost to the VA, but what this report is really calling for is strong leadership and that has been missing for six years now.” -- Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Pa., an Iraq War veteran.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Simpsons

Yes I have done it again I have gone and seen a "bargain" matinee of the Simpsons. It is very very funny. Here's a look at one of the previews:

And with such great songs like Spider pig:
Spider-pig, spider-pig,
does whatever a spider-pig does.
Can he swing, from a web?
No he can't, he's a pig.

The movie is funny from start to finish. There is one point toward the end where the movie is a little slow but then it shifts into high gear again. Also make sure to stay through all of the credits it is well worth it. And many people did just that when I saw it.

I especially like when Flanders says to Bart and here you can see the four states that border Springfield: Ohio, Nevada, Maine and Kentucky. It is well worth seeing. I laughed so I hard I was crying at the end of the movie.

Early morning

Well not much of a sleep. Took me awhile to drift off after finishing the book and then of course I woke up early.

That is in part due to the fact that Sam really really really really really wants to go outside. And of course he's not supposed to according to the vet for at least another two weeks. I'm down to giving him his medicine once a day now. It is such a fun thing to do. I have to wrap him up in a blanket to prevent him from getting away. Then I have to make him open his mouth. Thankfully, when the syringe gets near the side of his mouth, Sam has a tendency to open his mouth. Then I get to squirt the stuff in his mouth. Sometimes I'm successful and most of the liquid goes in his mouth, and other times well it goes everywhere but in his mouth.

Here's a funny post about reading the Harry Potter book from my friend Tina.

The weather is going to be warm today. I guess I'm going to clean up the house. And then reread parts of the book!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I have just finished the book. I am completely and totally amazed. I was not going to stay up and finish it tonight but just too engrossed in it. What a kick ass way to end the saga. I won't give away any plot twists but it was fantastic.

I think I'm going to need to re-read it. Like starting later today. But for now it's time to go to bed.

Just truly amazing!!

No of course I mean brilliant simply brilliant!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Odds and ends, Political

The Attorney General

This comes from a story in the Post today:

"I am troubled because the allegations regarding the politicization of this historic institution -- an institution that stands for and protects the rights of the citizens of the greatest, most free nation on Earth -- have occurred on my watch," Gonzales said, according to a transcript.
And I wonder why those charges have been made. Could it be because, when people were interviewed for jobs, it was more important that they were Republicans loyal to the president then say oh I don't know competent attorneys? Yeah that seems to be the ticket.

Op-Ed piece
This appeared in the Outlook section of the Post a couple of Sundays ago. It is an article by William Kristol under the title of "Why Bush Will Be A Winner." I have to say I was so ticked off about it that it has taken me this long to calm down about it and write these few words regarding it. To say he is wrong is an understatement. What I do like is the rebuttal which is "Why Bush is a Loser".

The final paragraphs are right on target:

The Bush-Cheney years have been marked by ineptitude, miscalculation, and scandal. A successful presidency? Bush will be lucky if he gets a public elementary school in his adopted hometown of Crawford, Tex., named after him. He has placed this country in a hole. Yet Kristol, with shovel in hand, points to that hole and says, Trust me -- we're about to strike oil!

If it's true that history repeats first as tragedy and then as farce, Kristol has short-circuited the process and gone straight to parody. His Bush boosterism -- an act of self-justification -- would be amusing were it not for all the damage he has helped Bush to cause.

No end in site for the surge
The tentative word is that come September General Petraeus is going to recommend that the surge continue until next spring. At that time it will have to end because the military will not have the man power to continue it unless of course they extend tours of duty. It also seems that the Pentagon is drawing up plans that will have American troops in Iraq until at least the middle of 2009.

So the only slight glimmer of hope of ever getting out of Iraq is when Bush is no longer president. And of course a Democrat is elected president. And even then to get all the equipment and personnel out could take 18 months.

We aren't going to be leaving any time soon which is tragic

Monday, July 23, 2007

Order of the Phoenix

I finished the book and then went and saw the movie on Sunday. This makes four movies in five weeks which I haven't done in ages. It will continue next week when I see the Simpson's movie and the week after that the Bourne movie. I also have to work in seeing Order of the Phoenix again too.

The movie was great. It was totally different from any of the other Harry Potter movies. I'm not sure exactly how to put it. It was more serious and darker than any of the others which was part of the difference, but only part of it. I can't exactly put my finger on what was different which is why I need to see it again.

I saw it at the Uptown which has the largest screen in DC. It's curved, 40-feet high and about 70-feet long so it says in the Post review of it. It is a really great place to see a movie. I will say that I had to sit through 20 minutes of commercials and previews before the movie started. But even with that I really enjoyed the movie.

Afterwards, I walked down to DuPont Circle. It was a gloriously sunny and warm day but not hot. I ended walking down to the Borders near work and picked up the final book.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Back to the Vet

Oh I’m visiting there way too much. Sam got sick again. I won’t go into all the messy details but I will say I’m going to have to get out my carpet shampooer and use it.

Sam is back on his medicine. Two doses for 10 days and then one dose and the instructions don’t say how long that is for. Here’s the problem well one of them at least. The bottle is too big. I’m having problems filling up the syringe with the 1.5 ml of medicine and that was from the very first does that I gave him. I was thinking of pouring it out into a cup but you’re supposed to shack it up each time you use it. I suppose I could still use the cup and just stir it up before giving it to him. The real fun part is giving Sam the medicine. Sometime he get most of it but other times most of it goes flying around the room.

I’m also supposed to put him on a very bland diet. I have special food which cost $50 for a ten pound bag. I supposed to gradually introduce it to him so his tummy won’t get upset. I plan on doing that but if possible will move him back to his regular food just a gradually. Having said that I was given a wet version of this prescription food and some medicine to sprinkle over it.

Now, if the idea is not to have a sudden change in diet, isn’t switching from dry to wet food a major change in diet.

Sam is also not supposed to have any treats. And then the real kicker is he is not supposed to go outside for a month. Needless to say Sam is one pissed off pussy cat about this one. I’m going to try and play with him every night to take his mind off. Also if the weather is nice leave a window open so he can look out.


FEMA is back in the news showing once again that the people it is supposed to help come in last. It seems FEMA:

has suppressed warnings from its own field workers about health problems experienced by hurricane victims living in government-provided trailers with levels of a toxic chemical 75 times the recommended maximum for U.S. workers, congressional lawmakers said yesterday.

How wonderful to have lost just about all your possessions in Hurricane Katrina and then get moved into temporary shelter that ends up endangering your health. The main thing FEMA was worrying about was how not to be held liable for these potential problems:

A FEMA lawyer, Patrick Preston, wrote on June 15: “Do not initiate any testing until we give the OK. . . . Once you get results and should they indicate some problem, the clock is running on our duty to respond to them.”

And then this:

One man in Slidell, La., was found dead in his trailer on June 27, 2006, after complaining about the formaldehyde fumes. In a conference call about the death, 28 officials from six agencies recommended that the circumstances be investigated and trailer air quality be subjected to independent testing. But FEMA lawyers rejected the suggestions, with one, Adrian Sevier, cautioning that further investigation not approved by lawyers “could seriously undermine the Agency’s position” in litigation.

How the hell do these people sleep at night? Oh I forgot they’re lawyers.

FEMA is supposed to be helping people after a disaster not creating another disaster.

One More Day

Tomorrow is the big day for Harry Potter fans. It will be a wonderful and yet at the same time a sad day. The last book. Hopefully it will answer all the questions we have for so many years. Hopefully most people will read the book instead of reading the spoilers that are flying around on the internet. And it seems some of the books were sent out to people early and then reviewed by The New York Times and the Baltimore Sun.

Gee they couldn’t have waited two days. The Times said this:

New York Times book editor Rick Lyman defended the newspaper’s decision to run its review before publication.

“Our feeling is that once a book is offered up for sale at any public, retail outlet, and we purchase a copy legally and openly, we are free to review it,” a spokeswoman said.

“We came across a copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ at a store in New York City and we bought it.

“We took great care not to give away the ending, nor to give away significant details about who lives and who dies, confining our review -- which, incidentally, had extremely high praise for both this final book and the entire series -- to broader-brush assessments of the tone and the writing.”

Again it seems to me they could have waited two days.

Someone at work said they’d call up and cancel their subscription. I tend to agree with that.

My brother asked if he thought people would be reading the books in fifty years. (I don’t think he’s much of a fan). I said I think people will be reading these books in a hundred years or even two hundred years from now. Tomorrow is the end of a literary event that doesn’t happen very often. People will be able to say yes I was around when the last Harry Potter Book came out. Don’t expect to see anything like this anytime soon again. Harry Potter will be the benchmark that other series will be measured against.

Just because the last book comes out does not mean the books will stop selling. There are still two more movies come out. And in a very short time we will be coming up on the tenth anniversary of the first book. Then I figure sometime starting in 2025 or maybe even sooner the kids who grew up reading the books will have kids. Their kids will be just about the age when the they started reading Harry. And so it will continue to grow.

I’m about 200 pages into Order of the Phoenix. I probably won’t start the last one until sometime late next week. Now the thing is to figure out how not to know what happens. Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Odds and ends

Sam on the lam
Yes, Sam went on the lam yesterday morning. We were doing our usual morning outing and Sam decided he wanted to leave the yard. There is a small space where the two halves of the gate come together. If you scroll down in this post, you'll see what I'm talking about.

Once outside of his area he panicked. He ran to the next door neighbor's back door but it was closed. (Sam seems to always need to have the door open when he's outside. If there's enough room for him to sneak by and get inside he's fine.) I came around and he was meowing away at me. He was obviously very upset. He was sizing up jumping the fence when I caught up to him and picked him up. Sam was very relieved when we got back to our yard. He stayed very close to me for the rest of the time we were out.

Panned Pansies
I planted some pansies out in the from yard, some in pots and a few in the hanging baskets. They have now or are in the process of withering away. A couple of the ones in pots I brought into the house but they still have all dried up. I think the direct sun is just too much for them. Or maybe being in pots or the baskets there is not enough moisture for them to survive. Whatever the case may be I will not be planting any next year. The Petunias are doing great and that's what I'll be planting more of next year.

Not in my wallet
The other day I canceled my Capital One credit card. I was trying to see if Sam's vet visit in June was on my statement (it turned out it wasn't) when I noticed a change in the interest rate for the card. Suddenly the rate was at 10.90% up from the 5.99 it had been previously. I had had a hold put on the card in March because of what was supposedly "suspicious activity" when in reality I'd just gone to Philly to see the Tut exhibit.

I called and asked about this. I was told that in my February statement there was information about the increase. The customer service representative said that she'd been with Capital One for three years and the rates hadn't increased at all. In that time the prime lending rate had gone up. I said that didn't justify raising the interest rate 5%. So I canceled.

I did a little research afterwards. If the notice came in the February statement (which I have no reason to doubt, my fault for not looking closely at all that stuff) the rate increase happened with the April statement. If you're going to essential double the interest charged people seems to me there should be a little more time so people can try and pay off their debt.

Now am I cutting off my nose to spite my face? Well sort of. My one lone remaining credit card has a rate 3.25% higher than Capital One. So maybe I won't use my one remaining one as much which is something I'd been planning to do especially if I want to buy a new computer in the fall. Also Capital One knows that it still has the lowest rates and that most people would just take the increase. I wanted to show that that wasn't the case.

I'll see if it was a mistake or not but right now I don't think so.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

To Make You Smile Again

3 movies in 4 weeks

I can't remember when I've seen so many movies in such a small amount of time. Usually 3 movies is about all I see in a year. That might be a slight exaggeration but not by much.

Today it was Transformers (at the bargain matinee price of $8 which is by the way more than the combo meal that I got on Friday at Subway). I liked parts of it and other parts I just thought were silly. What was needed was better editing. I can think of five places that could have been trimmed:
1. The scene where the soldiers in the desert were trying to contact the pentagon and they needed to have a credit card. That could have been edited better.
2. The scene establishing that Shia LaBeouf's is a nerd with the hots for this girl. Too long.
3. The scene where the transformers are at Shia's house. Yes it is funny but again too long.
4. The section seven scene. Too long.
5. The scene where the hackers are under arrest by the FBI and donuts are eaten. Now I love donuts but it really didn't advance the story all that much.

The movie runs 2 hours and 23 minutes. I think with the above edits that would shave about 20 minutes off the film.

I also think there's too much start and stop with the action scenes at the start of the picture. It takes too long to get into the flow of the film.

Some of the transformation of the Transformers are too close. You can't exactly tell what's going on. The scene where the decepticon is a plane then becomes a decepticons and then back into a plane is very cool. I like the depiction of Cybertron too.

So it's not the greatest film ever made but it is a enjoyable escapist summer flick.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The post surge strategy

Or how you keep the surge going by saying you have a strategy for after the surge when you really don’t:

“Look, the president understands the American people are frustrated,” said a senior official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid upstaging Bush. “We’ve been at this a long time. We’ve sacrificed some of our best and brightest. . . . But they want to see that we have a vision for success that will allow us to gradually downsize our role and reduce our footprint. The president needs to and wants to remind everybody that he shares that frustration.”

Here's the link to the story.

How by any reasonable standards could any person think that Bush understands that the American people have had enough of Iraq when every step that he takes only prolongs the conflict.

And then this:

Bush hopes the net result would be a situation stable enough that the next president -- even a Democrat with an antiwar platform -- would feel confident enough to sustain some form of U.S. mission despite domestic pressure to pull out altogether. But Bush aides said they are acutely aware that every forecast they have made for Iraq over the past four years has proved wildly optimistic.

Then maybe what needs to be planned is a worse case scenario and how to deal with that. Instead of these ridiculous pie in the sky scenarios that never come to pass. This is the reason the American public has said enough with Iraq. Nothing the Bush administration says about Iraq about how things are going ever seems to pan out in Iraq.

This just points out what I just said:

Although it initially envisioned a troop increase lasting six to eight months, the administration lately has anticipated keeping the extra troops in place until next spring and then beginning to pull them back, one brigade at a time.

The Bush administration always goes with the rosy scenario. It will be quick. It will be easy. The vast majority of troops will be home by December. The Iraq oil reserves should pay for most of the war. There has never been a real and honest assessment of what we are up against.

This is especially true as the situation in Iraq has spiraled out of control. Even before the surge was underway administration officials said the surge would last only eight months. But also almost immediately as the surge was building was the view that the surge would have to last much longer than that. There just never seems to be a straight answer from this administration.

Yes, we are told over and over again that Bush wants to draw down the troops but only when the time is right. I figure the time will be right January 21, 2009.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Odds and Ends

Hot, hot hot
Yes it is indeed hot here in DC now. But then again it is July so what can you expect. It is interesting to watch the news and have them talk about the heat wave heating DC. Well yes it is a heat wave but by Thursday it should be over. So it is a heat wave that will last about 5 fives and the first couple of days were hot but not all that humid. I can remember summers where we had 10 days in a row where the heat index was at or near 100 degrees. When you would walk out of work at the end of the day and feel like the air was sucked out of your lungs. Where you could actually see the air. So five days is really not all that bad.

Bargain Matinee
Remember this story about the bargain matinee. Well I went back to the same theater to see the new Die Hard movie. The admission price had gone up $0.25 in less than a month. As for the movie I enjoyed it. It was just what a summer movie should be. Although I will say that the scenes that were supposedly taking place in downtown Washington look oddly like they were filmed in Philadelphia. If it is supposed to take place in Washington, then film in Washington.

Walking to work
The other day I was walking to work and viewed a very strange sight. In a yard were a squirrel and a cat bird. The cat bird was dive bombing the squirrel. The squirrel for the most part was ignoring or at least trying to ignore the bird but not very successfully. So very slowly after many dive bombs the bird was able to slowly move the squirrel across the yard. At least twice the squirrel seemed to have enough and jumped up into the air trying to grab hold of the bird. I watched for a few minutes but then had to move on because I was going to be late for work.

Festive Fourth
You can follow this link and see some pictures of the 4th of July fireworks. Or to see some video follow this link. You can also see a cute story on the panda cub who turned two today.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The "Bench Marks" Change

This comes from a story in the Post today.

The Iraqi government is unlikely to meet any of the political and security goals or timelines President Bush set for it in January when he announced a major shift in U.S. policy, according to senior administration officials closely involved in the matter. As they prepare an interim report due next week, officials are marshaling alternative evidence of progress to persuade Congress to continue supporting the war.

and this:

"There are things going on that we never could have foreseen," said one official, who noted that the original benchmarks set by Bush six months ago -- and endorsed by the Maliki government -- are not only unachievable in the short term but also irrelevant to changing the conditions in Iraq.

Ah, yes things are going on that they could not have been "foreseen." This should be the motto of the Bush Administration in Iraq. They essential haven't been able to foresee anything. So the bench marks set earlier in the year will not be met. So now the Bush Administration is coming up with another set of bench marks to point to to show we should stay in Iraq.

What this shows is that the Bush line of not having an "open ended commitment in Iraq" is a lie. If the bench marks continually change, if the goals continually change, if the justification for the invasion continually changes, that means are commitment is completely and totally open ended. And the Iraqis know this which is why they will take their sweet old time to meet any of these bench marks.

The article continues with this very sobering assesment:

Even if U.S. troops and their Iraqi allies are able to hold Baghdad and the surrounding provinces, noted the intelligence official, there is a good chance that security will deteriorate elsewhere because there are not enough U.S. troops to spread around. As U.S. troop numbers decrease, he said, it is possible that by sometime next year "we control the middle, the Kurds control the north, and the Iranians control the south."

One of the things talked about is "drawing down" the troops in Iraq. I've read and heard in a couple of places that this will be done. But what really will be happening is the military will not be able to continue to sustain the level of troops it now has in Iraq. It simply doesn't have them. This will be the Bush Administration "troop reduction." A reduction based on the rotation of troops into Iraq not a real reduction of forces.

It just continues to point out the huge mess that the Bush Administration has gotten us into in Iraq. And that they have few if any ideas on how to get us out of it.

The plant next door

This is the wonderful "plant" that is growing in my front yard. Well actually it is not my front yard but my next door neighbor's front yard. If the thing gets much bigger it will officially be in my part of our shared front yard.

I'm trying to figure out what to do with this thing. Since the woman who lives in the house rarely, if ever, comes out the front door, she won't be noticing it anytime soon. The few times the front yard is mowed it is done by someone else. So I'm thinking it is up to me to get rid of this thing. To give you an idea o how high the "plant" has grown, I'm 5'11" and it comes up to about my chin.

I'm going to give it a little while longer and then well the "plant" may just have to go.

I'm just wild about Harry . . .

Yes I am just wild about Harry Potter. The next movie opens on Wednesday and the final book comes out in a little less than two weeks.

For some reason I never got around to reading the sixth book Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Usually as soon as a book would come out I would start reading it. I'm not sure what happened this time. I though well since the final book is coming out I really should read Half-Blood Prince. But then it occurred to that the thing to do was start at the very beginning and read all of the books.

So since the start of July that is what I've been doing. I'm just to start the Goblet of Fire, which I think is my favorite of the books so far.

The speculation has begun about who will live and who will die. Most of it centers around Harry of course. Here's a story from Friday's USA Today. There was also an good story in Entertainment Weekly by Steven King. It is interesting to think that I've lived through the publishing of a classic piece of literature. I can say in the future oh yes I remember when the books came out and the incredible stir that they caused.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Plethora of Peanuts Posts

Time to Smile

Another call for change in Iraq

Another Republican has joined the ranks of saying it’s time to change the policy in Iraq.

Senator Domenici said he began to question his stance on Iraq late last month, after several conversations with the family members of dead soldiers from his home state, and as it became clear that Iraqi leaders are making little progress toward national reconciliation.

“We cannot continue asking our troops to sacrifice indefinitely while the Iraqi government is not making measurable progress,” Domenici said. “I do not support an immediate withdrawal from Iraq or a reduction in funding for our troops. But I do support a new strategy that will move our troops out of combat operations and on the path to coming home.”

So will this make a difference. I think not. This from White House spokesman Tony Fratto:

You can’t back out of the surge. The surge is in place, and it is going to be in place for some time. What we have to focus on and talk about is what happens sequentially next. And what happens next will be a decision that we have conversations about with Congress and with policy makers here and in Baghdad.

When has the Bush administration given any consideration to what Congress thinks. The more I think about this the more I realize that there is not going to be any change in the way the Iraq War is run until Bush leaves.

Clearly Republicans want the current situation in Iraq to be changed. Not because they think it is wrong. But because they know that if this issue is around next year at this time they’re going to be slaughtered in the November elections. But Bush doesn’t care.

Unless funds are cut off the war will continue until Bush is gone. The likelihood of funds being cut off is very slim. The margins to override a veto are not there. Not there unless there is a fundamental change in the thinking of Republican members of Congress. Right now we are not there; we can only wait and hope.

Boycott China?

Wow some more things imported from China into the US are unsafe. I know this comes as a complete and total shock.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Thursday three recalls, covering jewelry that the agency said could cause lead poisoning. They also covered a magnetic building set and plastic castles with small parts, which it said could choke children.

China is taking action sentencing some people to death (this on the approval of drugs that turned out to be harmful). It will be interesting to see what happens if these recalls and problems with products continue. There may come a time when people will begin to boycott Chinese products. That would be a tall order indeed.

It also brings into question the weakness of our own Food and Drug Administration. It shows they simply do not have enough people to keep track of all the products that come into this country. We’ve been lucky so far. But if some food or drug gets in that causes many injuries, sickness or death watch out.

At least their fireworks (used in most July 4 celebrations) seem to be ok. But then again who knows?

Well it seems I spoke too soon about this. Here's a story from the Post. The upshot is:

Identical boxes of commercial fireworks made in China malfunctioned at six Fourth of July displays in Northern Virginia including an accident in Vienna in which a misdirected shell injured 11 people, two seriously, officials said yesterday.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Capital 4th Rehearsal

I got together last night with some of the people I volunteer with at Food and Friends, One of them is going off to medical school in the not too distant future and we thought we'd get together and have a little party to send her off. Everyone brought stuff to eat. I brought sandwich fixings and some chocolate chip cookies. The container of cookies just kept jumping into my basket at the grocery store

So we went down to the Capital grounds last night and watched the rehearsal for tonight's concert. Now not all the performers were there. The guy from American Idol was a no show which as far as I was concerned was no big loss. Little Richard and showed up earlier to practice just about the time I arrived. The country artist Dierks Bentley was there and he was very good. Bebe Neuwirth was there too. She sang All that Jazz and Cabaret. They both were excellent. There was musical tribute to West Side Story by the National Symphony Orchestra and of course they played the 1812 Overture along with cannon.

It was a very enjoyable night we got to see just about all the performers that will be on tonight but with a lot fewer people in the audience.

Hall and Oates

I saw Hall and Oates on Monday at the Strathmore Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

First something about the concert hall itself. It was just fantastic. It is just beautiful. Just about everything expect the cushion in the seats is made of wood. The sound is incredible. We were in row N dead center. As I said the sound was incredible. I'm looking forward to going back seeing something there very soon.

As to the concert well the guys were great. They added a string section, Two violins, a viola and a cello. It really did add a great deal to the performance. Here's the review of the concert from the Post. I had no idea Daryl Hall was 60. Oh my.

They played for about 2 hours. They sang such hits as One on One, She's Gone, Family Man, Maneater, Say It Isn't So, Do It for Love. Daryl seemed to be especially on that night.

Like last year, when I saw them, I got a recording of the concert. About 20 minutes or so after the concert ended I has my two disc CD of the concert. The track names even showed up on iTunes. It is a wonderful way to remember the night over and over again.

Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles

The military has decided to put a huge emphasis on getting as many MRAPs out to the troops in Iraq as quickly as possible according to a story in USA today.

And what you may ask are MRAPs they are Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. These are to replace the humvee. This from the article:

The Joint Requirement Oversight Council, a group of top Pentagon officers, accepted the Army's recommendation to make a "one for one" swap of MRAPs for armored Humvees in most cases, said Col. Steve Sliwa, chief of the Army's future war-fighting capabilities division.

That recommendation followed a visit to Iraq by a high-level Army team to assess soldiers' needs and which vehicles would best fill them.

"We're going to aggressively pursue maxing out production, definitely for '08," Sliwa said. "We're extensively testing the vehicle to ensure the soldier's very well protected."

The MRAP is the same vehicle that I referred to as the cougar in a post back in March. The question is why it took so long for such a suggestion to be made in the first place.

Those we've lost

Pfc. Cameron K. Payne
Lost June 11, 2007

Cpl. Meresebang Ngiraked
Lost June 10, 2007

Sgt. Cory M. Endlich
Lost June 9, 2007

Staff Sgt. Timothy B. Cole Jr.
Lost June 6, 2007

Tech. Sgt. Ryan A. Balmer
Lost Jun 5, 2007

Staff Sgt. Matthew J. Kuglics
Lost June 5, 2007

The eagle, the dove, the turkey

Ah the wonders of the internet. Here is a less serious take on July 4th from the wonderful musical 1776. Here Adams, Franklin and Jefferson are deciding on the symbol for American.

And Franklin did think the turkey should be the symbol for America.

July 4th Quote

This is one of my favorite quotes about July4th. John Adams was off by a couple of days on the date because the Declaration was dated on July4 not July 2.

The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the Day of Deliverance by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized wit pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other from this time forward forever more.

Is Anybody There?

This is July 4th. I am reminded of one of my favorite songs from the musical 1776. It is sung by John Adams. There is a deadlock at the Continental Congress over independence. And John Adams wonders is anybody there:

Is anybody there?
Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

They want to me to quit;
they say John, give up the fight
Still to England I say
Good night, forever, good night!
For I have crossed the Rubicon
Let the bridge be burned behind me
Come what may, come what may


The croakers all say we'll rue the day
There'll be hell to pay in fiery purgatory
Through all the gloom, through all the gloom
I see the rays of ravishing light and glory!

Is anybody there? Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

I see fireworks! I see the pageant and
Pomp and parade
I hear the bells ringing out
I hear the cannons roar
I see Americans - all Americans
Free forever more

How quiet, how quiet the chamber is
How silent, how silent the chamber is

Is anybody there? Does anybody care?
Does anybody see what I see?

Scooter scoots

The scandal. The outrage. The surprise.

Really?! Is anyone really surprised at this. That Bush helped out Libby. Here’s the link for the story in the Post.

What I was surprised at was that Libby didn't get a full pardon. But he is still paying a heavy price. After all his fine and legal fees will be paid by his right wing supporters. And the same right wing supporters will make sure he gets some high six figure job. His family has suffered.

I think the Post editorial page sums it up very well:
Mr. Libby’s long and distinguished record of public service, and we sympathize with Mr. Bush’s conclusion “that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive.” The probation office, as the president noted, recommended less time -- 15 to 21 months. But Mr. Bush, while claiming to “respect the jury’s verdict,” failed to explain why he moved from “excessive” to zero. It’s true that the felony conviction that remains in place, the $250,000 fine and the reputational damage are far from trivial. But so is lying to a grand jury. To commute the entire prison sentence sends the wrong message about the seriousness of that offense.

But the best take on this come from Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois:

“When it comes to the law, there should not be two sets of rules _ one for President Bush and Vice President Cheney and another for the rest of America. Even Paris Hilton had to go to jail. No one in this administration should be above the law.”

The even Paris Hilton had to go to jail line should be used by the Democrats every single time this case is mentioned. Nothing will drive home to the American how unfair this decision is then that statement.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The garden grows

Pictures from the back garden. This is the one lone gladiola that I planted this year. Well to be exact I found the bulb in the ground when I was planting other things and moved it to this spot. Last year I had about half a dozen gladiolas (or is it gladioli) and I guess because it was so wet they really didn't do very well. This one this year is just great.

Saturday Morning

Again Sam has attracted a visitor. Who know he was so popular. This squirrel shows up Saturday morning while we are both outside. The squirrel sits on the fence (as you can see in the picture) and fusses at Sam. I would say it went on for a good twenty minutes of the squirrel going after him. Even when I came out into the yard the squirrel didn't move. As you can tell by the picture Sam is above it all.