Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Parade of Peanuts Ties and other holiday traditions

I’ve started my annual tradition at work of wearing a Peanuts tie to work each day until I leave for Christmas. I started this three or four years ago. I count 14 work days before I head out to Missouri. I have more than enough ties to cover that time frame. I even have three ties that are holiday themed.

I’m also listening only to Christmas music on my iPod. That’s another tradition I have. I only listen to Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving until a little after the first of the year. Lat year I bought a whole bunch of new Christmas CDs. I think at least six. I try to buy at least one new CD each year. It doesn’t have to be a CD that’s just been released but just something new to add to my collection. So far this year I really haven’t seen anything interesting. I think I’ll stop at a Borders when I’m off on Friday.

I have to plan my outside light display. I also have to start putting it up. On Sunday I bough a wreath for outside. I put it on the front porch. I keep forgetting to put it up. I’m hoping no one has swiped it. I put my lights up in stages. I’ll do the left side of the porch first because I can usually do that after I get home from work. I might try and start that on Friday. It seems a little early to be putting up lights since it is still November. But sooner than you know it; it will be time for the holidays.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Searching for a new cell phone

I’ve been looking for a new cell phone for the past six months or so. I guess you could say that I’ve been browsing for a new cell phone. The problem with my current one is that the # doesn’t always work. And lately it doesn’t stay open all the way when I’m talking on it. So I’ve been searching for a new one.

I went to the Verizon store on Friday when I was out shopping. I really didn’t like much of what I saw. I don’t want the cell phone to do the dishes and folder the laundry (although those would be two very nice features). I want it be just a plane ordinary phone. I’m not interested in taking pictures or video or surfing the web or even getting text messages. I just want to have a nice simple phone. I’d like to have a speaker phone on it. I also want a display I can read fairly easy and a key pad that isn’t microscopic.

So I looked in the store. I found one phone I really liked. Speaker phone. Good key pad. Problem was the key pad was in very metallic silver. I’m thinking if you are out in the sun it would blind you. That one’s out. I found two other phones that had the speaker phone option. One was cheap and I use that word in all of its derogatory glory. The other one was $250. And that would be the price after I got my credit for upgrading phones. I’m sorry I’m not paying $250 for a phone.

Then it occurred to me today to try the Verizon store on-line. What a difference. All sorts of phones that have the speaker phone option. I also got more of a monetary credit to devote to the new phone. I getting the Motorola RAZR V3m in Silver. The key pad is black. It should be sent my way in 2-5 business days. Problem solved. Although the last time I tried this on-line I got a message that the phone was back ordered and never heard from Verizon again.

Hopefully I'll have better luck this time.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

New Camera

I was going out on Thanksgiving to take pictures with my digital camera. I got the low battery signal which essential means the batteries are about to die.

I went back into my house and changed the batteries. I turned the camera back on and the LCD screen was black. The icons for operating the camera were there but there was no picture on the screen. I got out the manual and looked through it but there's nothing on a blank screen. I went to the Canon website. I found some information on what to do. I should reset the display. If that doesn't work then I might need to send the camera in for service.

I decide on Friday I'll go to a camera store and see if they can help me. I don't hold out much hope. I figure if it has to be sent in I might as well buy a new camera. Friday I go to the camera store and the sales woman looks at the camera. She checks to make sure the battery connections are ok and then says it needs to go into the shop. I add that it makes more sense to buy a new camera. She agrees.

I'm not yet ready to buy one. I want to talk to my brother and sister-in-law because they just bought a Canon digital camera. Also I have to get new shoes. I end up spending $130 on the new shoes. I then meet my friend Tom for lunch. We have a really great lunch at Zorba's which is right above DuPont Circle.

Saturday I head back to the camera store. I decide on getting the Canon Powershot A560. It is not the same as my brother and sister-in-law got. They got the step higher but I figure this one will do just fine. I get another memory card because the one that came with the camera was way too small. All total it is around $200. I said the to the sales woman that the memory card costs at much as a camera used to. She agreed. She said that's what happens with technology.

If you bought the camera it came with a freebie of a new winter coat. Yes, that's the incentive to come and buy the camera a new coat. It is actually very nice. It is also very warm. I wore it when I went out and took pictures yesterday.

I like the new camera. The view finder is larger than my last one. Also downloading pictures to my computer is much faster than the old one. I'm looking forward to exploring all the features that it has.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Autumn Leaves

All of these images come from my new camera.

The Garden is still going

The garden in back continues to grow and grow as you can tell from the pictures. The weather, however, has now turned rather cold. I don't think they flowers will last much longer. I'm going to let the flowers in back go until the cold weather does them in. The ones in front are going to have to be uprooted next weekend so I can't plant my bulbs.

Can you find the cat?

Somewhere a cat is lurking.

Can you find Sam?

Thanksgiving Smile

Happy Thanksgiving

I got so caught up in shopping at kmart that I forgot to do a Happy Thanksgiving post. Actually I was going to do one after I'd gone for a walk on Thanksgiving. I was going to take some pictures but my digital camera died. More on that later.

So anyone here's wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

And what better way to celebrate then a clip from a Charlie Brown special. The Thanksgiving special is not as good the Halloween or Christmas ones. It does however have the debut of the song Little Birdie and the wonderful ending of Snoopy and Woodstock sharing pumpkin pie together.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


It is a bright, sunny and warm Thanksgiving morning. It's 61 degrees. I look out my front door and see the paper on my porch. Now I'm surprised at this because I only get the Sunday paper. Then I realize it really isn't the paper it's all ads. That's the reason I'm getting it today.

The ads are about three times the size of the paper. All those wonderful inserts promising all those wonderful sales.

Let's see Kohl's and JC Penny are opening at 4 am tomorrow. Sears, Circuity City, and Best Buy are opening at 5 am. Those wimps at Macy's and Target are opening at 6 am. I just have to say 6 am guys that is just sooooo last year. You two need to get with the program.

I've also heard ads on the radio for an outlet mall that will open at midnight tonight. But I don't know where it is. I know that is so very sad.

But Kmart takes the cake. They are open today, Thanksgiving Day, from 7am to 9 pm. I'm not sure when they open tomorrow but that doesn't really matter because they are open today!

Wait a sec. It's almost 9. What bargains and specials have I missed!!

Why the hell am I writing on my blog when Kmart is open NOW.

Bye gotta go.

Soldiers at home

Here's a very sobering story from Men's Health about the care or lack of care soldiers receive when they get back to the U.S.

The story follows three men from the same Marine company in Iraq. It tells their story of their combat experiences. They all fought in Fallujah. It then recounts how well they've been doing at home. You can sum up the article by saying one of the guys is lost, one is probably going to be ok and one is doing "fine". I'm not entirely sure I you can define fine after reading what these guys have been through.

Paul Rieckhoff is agitated. I've just recounted Lambert's story, and as a U.S. Army veteran and founder of the nonprofit Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Rieckhoff has heard and seen it all before.

"Stories like that just piss me off," says Rieckhoff, a former first lieutenant who led an infantry platoon on more than 1,000 combat patrols in Baghdad. "The reality is that mental-health issues are probably one of the greatest threats facing Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. But our country is not ready to care for them. Contrary to what our president keeps telling us, we're not a country at war. Less than 1 percent of this country is at war. Our military is at war. Our military families are at war. Everyone else is shopping or watching American Idol."

I think the above paragraph really sums up one of the many problems with this "war" or I guess I should say these "wars" if you remember to include Afghanistan. To me this is the one problem, the way soldiers either in Iraq and Afghanistan or here at home are treated, that pisses me off more than anything.

This article gives a good look at the lack of care for our soldiers. It's nice to run around and say we support our troops and put little decals on our cars saying the same. But when it comes right down to it that's just lip service. The article concludes this way:

George Orwell said, "We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm."

Fred Lambert, Chris Sipe, and Ricky Mayer are such men. So what do we owe them in return?

And on this Thanksgiving, I think that is a very important question to think about as we sit down and have dinner.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Physical Therapy

I’m having physical therapy on my left ankle/foot. I’ve been having pain in it on and off for the past few months. It is not extremely painful but is a nuisance. Walking down stairs is a bitch; it really hurts then.

Today at 7:30 am I had my first appointment. I had to get there early fill out all the paper work and there was a lot of paper work. I went through when I did an didn’t have pain. My regular doctor and I decided that nothing was broken because I’d be in much more pain. Also when you touch the ankle I don’t feel any pain until you really press down on it. At that point I think you’d feel discomfort whether you had any problems or not. So here’s the info on when it hurts and when my ankle doesn’t hurt. I can go for a long walk or workout. Sometimes it will hurt after doing those two things and sometimes it won’t hurt at all. I also tried to keep track of the type of weather that was happening when my ankle hurt. There wasn’t any sort of a pattern with that. Sometimes when it was cold and damp out it would hurt more. But then again there was a bright sunny day when every time I moved there was discomfort.

I learned that your big toe has one muscle going to it. Then you next two toes have one muscle and your final two toes have one muscle too. That’s your anatomy lesson for today.

So the muscle going to my big toe is stretched and that’s part of the reason I’m having problems with my ankle. Also it was determined that my hip is tight and that is contributing to the ankle situation too. So I need to loosen up these areas and the pain in my ankle should get better. I was put through several exercises and given more exercises to do on my own. I’m supposed to do them twice a day.

I have to say after the first session my ankle feels so much better. I hope it continues to improve.

Monday, November 19, 2007

An Icon Passes

Dick Wilson died today at age 91.

Don't know who Dick Wilson is?

Well how about I call him by the name he went by in over 500 commercials. Mr. Whipple.

Remember him now?

If you were around from the mid 60s to the mid 80s and were watching TV you could not miss the Mr. Whipple commercials for Charmin bath tissue. And the slogan of Mr. Whipple, please don't squeeze the Charmin.

My brother and I adopted that slogan and used it often for several years while we were growing up. Of course we changed the tone of the Mr. Whipple line. Giving it a high screeching tone. One of us would say Mr. Whipple and the other would respond with Please don't squeeze the Charmin.

I can remember very vividly a warm summer night. We'd been called in to go to bed. I was still outside while my bother had already gone inside. From the second story window of our home came Mr. Whipple from my brother. I finished the line please don't squeeze the Charmin! It is needless to say a timeless memory which points out the carefree days of my youth.

So Mr. Wilson thanks for a priceless memory for oh so many years.

Here are a couple of the Charmin commercials.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Directions from the internet

Have you eve gotten directions from the internet? Do you use Mapquest? Or do you prefer Google Maps?

Well I actually used both for a shopping trip the other day.

I need to replace my rugby shirts that I have. They are really getting old and are starting to show it. So I thought I would go to Target and they would carry them. Last Sunday I got up really early and went to the Target close to my house. Turns out Target didn't carry them. Later in the week I stopped off at Macy's (there's a story on my way home from work). They had some. The shirt cost $90. Good to know I have such good taste but I'm not spending that much money on a shirt.

So I was stumped. Where else to go? Someone at work had been at a Kohl's and said they had a whole bunch of rugby shirts. But where's the closest Kohl's to me.

Thus came in the internet. I went to Kohl's site. I checked to make sure they indeed did have rugby shirts. Which they did. Then did the store locater and came up with one not too far away from me in Maryland. So I used both Mapquest and Google maps.

They both came up with the same basic route. I used the one from Google maps because the print out was in larger type. I will say there is nothing harder for me to do when driving then read directions and drive at the same time. I'm driving and driving. 13th Street in Washington becomes Sargent Road in Maryland. You turn on Riggs Road which runs into another road (which by the by is not mentioned in the directions). I finally pull over and take out my map and get a sense of where the hell I am. (Yes I should have done that before I left the house but it was 7 am.)

I finally get there. Find the shirts and they cost like $18 and look very nice. I look at my map again now that I know where I am and I figure out a much easier way to back to my house. I really don't understand why my route wasn't the route I got from either of the internet map places.

I have problems before with the internet maps. One time I was directed down a road which would get me to my destination once is was finished but that wasn't gong to be for awhile. I've also gotten directions that are just wrong. So the moral of the story look at you own damn map before you leave home. I sure wish I had.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Keeping the skies safe?

The newest lapses in airport security were revealed in testimony before Congress.
From the Washington Post
From USA Today

This is from the Post article:
TSA Administrator Kip Hawley minimized the threat posed by the GAO’s homemade bombs, which were developed with a national laboratory and a Washington area law enforcement agency and videotaped blowing open a car trunk and door in a test. He said the TSA is oriented toward defeating attacks powerful enough to down airliners.

“We can’t be squeamish and say, ‘Oh, my goodness, they brought some firecrackers through and put it in the trunk of a car.’ We need to stop all things, but we have to focus on what truly does us harm,” Hawley said. “I mean, my pen can do ‘severe damage,’ “ he added.

What a charmingly flip answer from the head of TSA. The small exception here is that they weren’t firecrackers. It was an explosive device powerful enough to blow open the trunk of a car. I have to assume that that would do some major damage to a plane.

Now do I expect them to catch everything? Of course not that would be silly. But TSA, it seems to me, has been slow in upgrading security at airports especially in the area of new technology. It just seems to me they always seem to be playing catch up.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ocean Mystery

My mysterious ocean visitor has returned.

Click on the picture to see that this map from Stat Counter shows a hit on my blog from someone in the middle of the ocean. I wrote about this before back in August.

I didn't check to see which post was visited at that time. This time around it was my post on IED training. I'll keep watching the map to see if the pin shows up again.

Blackwater Blues

Suddenly lots of news about Blackwater and none of it very good.

It seems that the State Department’s Inspector General Howard J. Krongard brother is on the Blackwater board. As it turned out the Inspector General did not know about this. Further, the Inspector General found out about this when he was informed of it in a Congressional hearing. He denied it at first but during a recess actually called his brother and found out the truth. Once he found this out he said he would no longer participate in any investigations about Blackwater.

Here’s part of the story from columnist Dana Milbank of the Post:

At the end of his own opening statement, Krongard responded to Waxman with an off-the-cuff complaint. “One thing just came up that really does bother me, and that was an allegation concerning my brother,” Cookie protested. “I specifically asked him. I do not believe it is true that he is a member of the advisory board.”

[Rep. Elijah] Cummings distributed two documents that the committee had uncovered: a July 26 letter from Blackwater founder Erik Prince inviting Buzzy “to become a member of the Blackwater Worldwide Advisory Board,” and a Sept. 5 e-mail to “thank you for accepting the invitation to be a member.”

“Sir, I dispute that,” Cookie replied with indignation. He argued that “there is nothing in here that suggests that my brother accepted this July 26 invitation.”

Evidently, Cookie overlooked the “thank you for accepting” part.

I laughed out loud over this story. It sounds from the testimony that the IG is a real jerk. I also find it hard to believe that the brother on the Blackwater board would not call up his brother the IG and tell him oh by the way I’m on the Blackwater board.

Now in a couple of news stories there’s a report that indeed the IG’s brother told the IG about being on the board. The Post story ends with this: A family acquaintance, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Krongard brothers for many years have had a tense relationship. Talk about putting the dys in dysfunctional family.

For the straight news story on it from the Post.
And this link to the story in USA Today

Here some additional information on the IG’s actions dealing with Blackwater:

In the case of Blackwater, the Justice Department told the committee that Krongard had resisted helping with a probe of possible gun smuggling by Blackwater into Iraq and had taken steps that had “certainly impacted the investigation.”

The second story deals more directly with Blackwater (I put the story about the IG first because well it is just so funny). The headline from the Post reads: Contractors’ Actions Labeled Unjustified; FBI Probe Continues in Blackwater Case

Now this is preliminary report but it concludes that 14 out of the 17 deaths were unjustified. The story states:

The investigators discovered that some of those who died were attempting to flee and found no evidence supporting Blackwater’s contention that the contractors were fired on and shot back in self-defense. The incident occurred as the guards tried to stop traffic at Baghdad’s Nisoor Square to allow an expected U.S. diplomatic convoy to pass.

This is what America gets when it hires mercenaries. More to the point hires mercenaries who have little or no supervision. Who are told they cannot be prosecuted for their actions in Iraq. I’m not saying that these private security firms are not necessary to protect diplomats. This is especially true if the American military is stretch so thin.

But once again little or no thought was taken in how these groups would interact with the Iraqi government and people. Also it seems little thought was taken when events like this happen. Also little thought on how to investigate them.

It seems Blackwater has a history of some extremely questionable actions in Iraq. It also seems that these were not thoroughly investigated when they happened. It seems to me that these events, whether justified or not (and I sure some of them were justified), have the potential of undermining our long term goals in Iraq. These events open up the American military to possible reprisals. After all the Blackwater people leave the scene as quickly as possible and leave it to the ordinary soldier to clean up the mess. And that is just wrong.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another Podcast with Arthur in New Zealand

Yes, I've done another Podcast with my friend Art in New Zealand. Ah the wonders of Skype.

Click this link and you'll reach the home page for the episode we did.

It's very wide ranging discussion. We start by talking about why I started the Those We've Lost posts and then get into politics in general and then more specifically on the presidential race. It was very fun to do. Hopefully we'll be talking about politics on a somewhat regular basis.

Hope you enjoy it!

Back to Iraq

I haven't written much on Iraq lately. It has sort of dropped down in the headlines and the TV news.

There was however a very interesting article in the Post Outlook section on Sunday. It's by a former soldier, William Quinn, who was in Iraq for about a year. He is now a student at Georgetown University. He has some very interesting perspectives on the war and how the war effects people in this country. Here are a couple of quotes from the article:

The war didn't just seem to be taking place in another country; it seemed to be taking place in another universe. There I was, in desert camouflage, wondering how all the intensity, the violence, the tears and the killing of Iraq could really be happening at the same time that all these people were hurrying to catch their flights to Las Vegas or Los Angeles or wherever.

and this:

Six years later, 9/11 doesn't seem to have had much of an effect on most people's lives. But it has had an enormous effect on mine.
He ends the article by saying this:

I'm proud to be a student at Georgetown. Though I find some aspects of campus culture discouraging, I have a lot of respect for my professors and peers. But there are still days when I think about what it must be like back in Baghdad -- and wonder whether that's where I should be.
This points out the huge disconnect between those people fighting the war and everyone else in the country. When you get right down to it, the only people feeling the effects of this "war" are the soldiers in the military, their family and friends. Otherwise I cannot for the life of me figure out how the average American is impacted by this conflict at all.

Maybe, and this is a big maybe, the instability in Iraq has contributed in a very small way to the increase in gas prices. But that's a really big maybe.

As I've said on many occasions, if you are fighting a war then the whole country needs to be involved in it. The Bush administration has asked for no sacrifice by the American people. And for that matter neither has any Republican or Democratic politician. It is in short a disgrace.

Imagine Franklin Roosevelt saying during World War II oh don't worry folks we'll defeat the Japs and Germans without any sacrifice on your part what so ever. We won't retool industry to make modern weapons; we will just use the stuff from the last war. No you cannot imagine that at all.

There is of course a huge disagreement in this country on the war. It has been so badly managed on ever level possible. But my point is that if you go to war the whole country has to go to war. And unfortunately that's not the case. And the men and women fighting the war deserve better.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Deadly toys

Seems there’s been yet another toy recall. This time the toy called Aqua Dots in the US. It seems that part of the toy which kids might swallow (and in a couple of cases have swallowed) contain GHB or more commonly know as the date rape drug. And where are these toys manufactured? I bet you can’t possible guess. Why China. I know I was shocked to the core when I found that out.

Here's the story from the Post and another from USA today.

The important point from the story:

The toys were supposed to use 1,5-pentanediol, a nontoxic compound found in glue, but instead contained the harmful 1,4-butanediol, which is widely used in cleaners and plastics.

It’s not clear why 1,4-butanediol was substituted. However, there is a significant difference in price between the two chemicals. The Chinese online trading platform ChemNet China lists the price of 1,4 butanediol at between about $1,350-$2,800 per metric ton, while the price for 1,5-pentanediol is about $9,700 per metric ton.

It seems rather obvious from the above why there was a switch in chemicals: the price. Good old fashion capitalism. This once again reinforces to me that the United States needs to take a good long hard look at the products that are imported from China.

I’m not saying that we boycott Chinese products (although that might not be a bad idea) but greater care has to to be taken in the huge number of products that we import from China.

It makes you wonder what’s gotten past Consumer Product Safety Commission. Not through any fault of theirs but just because the to sheer number of products coming from China. At some point in time, we won’t be so lucky and some product will end up killing people. Then there may indeed be a call to boycott China.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Metro woes

I have to admit that I’m pretty spoiled when it comes to mass transit. My house is located five blocks from the Rhode Island Ave Metro stop. And up until two weeks ago, my office was half a block from Farragut North. I could usually leave my house at 8am and get to the office by 8:30.

Things have changed since my office moved. Although I get off at Metro Center, one stop before Farragut North, there is a longer walk. I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how long it takes to work but have not had much luck. The problem is there’s been a problem on the Red Line most mornings when I go to work. One day it’s smoke in a station another a sick passenger. It means having to deal with large crowds on the platform at Rhode Island Avenue. It means trains pulling into the station with no room for any additional passengers. The couple of times I’ve really left early to avoid being late there of course has been no delay at all. I just sail straight into work.

This is of course not really all that much of a problem compared to some of the really problems Metro has caused. The best example is when the New York Avenue Metro stop was added. What was done was add a station between the Union Station stop and Rhode Island Avenue stop. The delays of service on weekends were terrible. The best one was that one Labor Day weekend the Rhode Island stop was going to be closed all three days. Signs were posted informing riders of this the Thursday before the Labor Day weekend. Talk about giving people advanced notice.

So I guess the thing to do is leave a little earlier than normal and hope things get better. One can hope.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Those We've Lost

In honor of the brave men who have given their lives for this country in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Heroes all.

Sgt. Kevin A. Gilbertson
Lost August 31, 2007

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel E. Scheibner
Lost August 30, 2007

Staff Sgt. Andrew P. Nelson
Lost August 29, 2007

Sgt. Cory L. Clark
Lost August 28, 2007 in Afghanistan

Maj. Henry S. Ofeciar
Lost August 27, 2007 in Afghanistan

Sgt. Joshua L. Morley
Lost August 26, 2007

Lance Cpl. Matthew S. Medlicott
August 25, 2007

Sgt. 1st Class David A. Heringes
Lost August 24, 2007

Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Tully
Lost August 23, 2007

Spec. Tyler R. Seideman
Lost August 22, 2007

Pfc. Donovan D. Witham
Lost August 21, 2007

1, 2, 3 red light again

I did a similar post a few months back. I’m reminded once again of a couple of incidents that occurred to me that stop signs and stop lights are just stopping suggestions to some people.

The first one is not about people running red lights but the lack of working lights all together. This happened on Sunday when the power went out on my street. About two blocks from my house is a major east/west street. The lights were not working there. Now the majority of people slowed down and used some caution while going through the intersection. Others couldn’t be bothered to slow down at all let alone look to see if there was any cross traffic. Now granted it was very early on a Sunday morning but even so there still was some traffic and you’d think people would show some caution.

The other example happened when I was walking to catch the subway to get to work. I’m about 5 blocks from the Metro. I have to cross a major road to get to the Metro. I’m waiting for the light to change so I can cross the street. The light changes. Now I rarely step into the cross walk right after the light has changed. I don’t because I can’t count the number of times cars have run red lights. Well once again that was the case. And in this particular case if I had stepped into the cross walk there is no question I would have been hit. I guessing by the speed the car was traveling (it appeared to speed up when the light turned yellow) I would have been seriously hurt if not killed outright. The only saving grace is the fact there is a red light camera at this intersection so the drive can look forward to receiving a ticket in the not too distant future.

One more point to add about this right at this intersection is a school so you’d think drivers might slow down and obey the signals. Obviously that’s not the case. I’d say several times a week someone runs that light while I’m attempting to cross the street. At some point in time, someone is not going to pause when the light changes foolishly thinking they have right of way and they will be hit. One wonders what the driver of that car will feel then or if they’ll feel anything at all.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Democracy in Pakistan?

Our great democratic ally Pakistan. Seems not so democratic after all. This is a comment by President Bush when President Musharraf visited Washington last fall:

Bush explained: “We talked about democracy. The last time I was with the President, he assured me, and assured the people that were listening to the news conference, that there would be free and fair elections in Pakistan in 2007. He renewed that commitment, because he understands that the best way to defeat radicalism and extremism is to give people a chance to participate in the political process of a nation.”

and this from July:

“Musharraf is a strong ally in the war against these extremists. I like him and I appreciate him. I’m, of course, constantly working with him to make sure that democracy continues to advance in Pakistan. He’s been a valuable ally in rejecting extremists. And that’s important, to cultivate those allies.”

Here’s what our great ally did on Saturday:

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Saturday declared emergency rule, suspended the constitution and fired the country’s chief justice, extraordinary steps that gave him almost absolute power in a country that he described as spinning out of control.

Here’s the full story from the Post.

Once again the Bush administration is caught with its pants down. They seem not to know what to do (I know that comes as a huge surprise) and want to wait and see what happens. Maybe they hope martial law will only be declared for a few days. (And once again instead of having a policy dealing with the country they have a policy dealing with the man in power similar to the way they are handling Russia.) So much for creating a beacon of democracy to shine in the Middle East.

Just imagine if Musharraf is overthrown and a government "unfriendly" to the Unites States takes power. If that happens, we won’t have to wait for Iran to get a nuclear bomb; Pakistan already has several.

Odds and Ends

Daylight savings time fades

Spring ahead; fall back. Well yesterday we fell back. There are a couple of things I’d like to say about that.

The first is the notion that you get an extra hour of sleep. My dad puts it very well when he says you only get the extra hour if you can sleep the extra hour which I usually can never do. I woke up at my normal time of 6 am but of course it was really 5 am. I stayed in bed for about another hour. I was hoping against hope that I’d be able to fall back to sleep but to no avail. I got up and received a very dirty look from Sam. He then curled back up and went to right back to sleep. Cats!!

The other thing I’d like to mention is how people bemoan the fact that with the change in time it gets dark so early. I actually kind of enjoy it getting that dark that early. It means that fall has arrived and winter and the holidays are not too far behind. Now I will saw that toward the end of January I’m getting a little sick of it getting dark so early but by then daylight is beginning to return.

Up early

So as I said I was up early on Sunday. I thought I could get some things done. When I refer to things I of course mean cleaning. I went around and changed all of the clocks. I decided before I would start I’d send out some e-mails and do a post ot the blog about the MidCity Artists gallery open house on Saturday and Sunday. One of my friends was in it.(more about that later). I’m in the middle of sending an e-mail to Art about the time we’ll talk later in the day on Skype when the screen goes blank. The power had gone off.

I checked to see if the power was off in the whole house which it was. I went down into the basement to see if maybe I’d blown a fuse. No blown fuses. I then went outside. I looked down the street and the stop light a block away was out. So it was the whole street that had gone down. I go back into the house and call the power company. I call the 24-hour outage line. I get a recording stating that the outage had already been reported and that power should be restored sometime around 9 am.

I figure I could still clean. But that was a little easier said then done. I ended up throwing some magazines away and doing a little dusting. I also did the dished and cleaned the kitchen counter and the stove. But when you don’t have power it sort of limits the way you can go about cleaning your house. I ended up going outside and cutting back some bushes that I’d been meaning to do for many weeks.

MidCity Artists

This was what my post was going to be about. MidCity Artists:

are a diverse and talented group of nearly 40 professional artists who have come together for the purpose of promoting their art, and the Dupont/Logan neighborhoods they call home. It is an opportunity to integrate their art with the fast growing retail and commercial concerns that are located in this area. They are here to let you know that “there is more than a real-estate boom in Mid City - there is a group of extraordinarily talented artists who have quietly made a name for themselves by offering great art at affordable prices to the insiders who know them. The local Community has discovered this treasure, and you can discover it, too.

My friend Tom Drymon was one of the artists. I stopped by a couple of places on the way over to his apartment. I was going to stay for a little while and the go on and see some of the other artists. But several people that I hadn’t seen for awhile stopped by Tom’s placed and we ended up talking until around 6:30. It was a great deal of fun. Also about 50 people came through to look at his work and I found about the same number on Sunday. So all in all a very good weekend.