Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Specter Shift

Sounds like a summer sci-fi movie. Coming this June the Specter Shift.

No it's the switching of parties by Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. Specter said in part:

As the Republican Party has moved farther and farther to the right, I have found myself increasingly at odds with the Republican philosophy and more in line with the philosophy of the Democratic Party, Specter said in announcing his decision Tuesday.

There's a big to do over the fact this brings the Democrats one seat closer to the 60 super majority. That assumes that the Democrats can always vote as a block which I mean come after all they are Democrats. How often is that really going to happen?

The reaction from the Republicans:

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele ripped Specter, calling him a Republican in name only who was out of step with the rest of the party because of his "left-wing voting record."

Weighing in on one side yesterday was Rush Limbaugh. "He's not a moderate," Limbaugh said of Specter. "He is a liberal Republican, and this is a natural winnowing process that is taking place. . . . Within the Republican Party, people who are not really Republicans are now leaving. People who are not really conservatives are now really leaving. So it's going to be not much smaller, but it's going to be a little bit more focused a party and a base."

These statements speak volumes about where the Republican Party is going. At some point when they the only people remain in the party are "real Republicans" there aren't going to be that many people. Because it seems that only real Republicans are conservatives it seems even moderates are no longer welcome.

It's interesting to see a party self-destruct before you eyes. Of course a great deal can happen before the next election. But I don't see how they recover in New England. There grip on the Midwest continues to slip. The same for out west. California hasn't voted for a Republican since 1988. I can't see that changing in the future. In fact the Democrats are adding states out west.

Where does this leave the Republicans? A very white, very southern party. The demographics they represent are not expanding; they are only contracting.

So in some ways it is a summer movie. A comedy to some; a horror movie to others.

But no doubt a Specter Shift.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bonehead Idea of the Day

How's this for an idea. Let's take a 747 trailed by a fighter plane and fly at a low altitude over Lower Manhattan. To top it off let's not tell anyone about. They we'll act surprised when people panic.

Well that was the brilliant idea of Louis Caldera of the White House military office. Guess it never occurred to him, or anyone else for that matter, that this might cause a panic. That this might in some slight way remind people of say 9/11. Oh yes one more thing this was on a need to know basis the media and public were not to be informed about it. That way you could guarantee some sort of panic.

The Mayor of New York was pissed:

"Why the Defense Department wanted to do a photo op right around the site of the World Trade Center catastrophe defies the imagination," Bloomberg said. "Poor judgment would be a nice way to phrase it. ... Had I known about it, I would have called them right away and asked them not to."

You could make a great many jokes on military intelligence but I'm not going to go there. The real question didn't anyone think this might not be the best of ideas especially the part about not letting anyone know about it.

There's a perfect contrast to what happened in DC. A TV show was being filmed. They were going to set up some sort of stunt near Key Bridge that would involve some sort of an explosion. Well it was on the TV news as well as in the newspapers. Turns out they decided not to go ahead with it but at least people knew about it.

I just had to shake my head on this one.

Swine Flu

Well I knew I would get around to this issue sooner or later.

The first thing when CNN talked about will be hearing from WHO soon. I thought is this an Abbott and Costello skit or something out of Dr. Seuss.

But it is no longer a laughing matter with all the deaths in Mexico. Follow the coverage here at the Post.

From that article today a representative from WHO said:

Keiji Fukuda, the WHO’s assistant director general for health security and environment.

“At this time, containment is not a feasible option,” Fukuda said. “This virus has already spread quite far.”

“With the virus being widespread,” he said, “closing borders or restricting travel really has very little effect in stopping the movement of this virus.”

I’m sorry but I don’t get saying that at all.

How did infected people get to Scotland and Spain and Israel and New Zealand.

Did they walk there? No.

Did they drive there? No.

Did they take the train there? No.

But they did take a plane.

Everyone single one of the cases outside of Mexico so far have been related to people traveling in and out of Mexico City by plane. Why not stop all flights in and out of Mexico City?

Would it completely stop the virus from spreading? No.

But it seems to me this would reduced the ability of the disease to spread to other countries especially where there are no cases currently.

Setting up the Garden

I decided this year not to buy a whole lot of flowers. I started adding up the cost and thought I could use the money in a better way say paying off my Bank of America credit card.

I did buy a couple of geraniums for one of the front flower boxes and will probably buy two more for another one of the boxes. I planted some zinnias in another of the boxes. In the last one it looks like one of the snap dragons survived from last year. I'm letting it grow and I'll see what happens.

Back to the seeds idea. I probably should have started this like a month ago but with all the cold weather we had I never thought all that much about it. I also hadn't definitively decided that I was going to plant seeds. I got some jiffy pots and seeds. Snap dragons, petunias and something else. Can't remember what it is. Last night I get ready to plant them. I open up the packages of seeds and all three of them the seeds are tiny. I mean like tiny tiny; like grains of sands tiny. Maybe not even that big. I plant five jiffy pots of each type of the seed. I still have a lot of seeds left over. It occurred to me that once the first batch get going I could plant some more.

They probably won't be ready to plant outside for at least a month if not longer. In the mean time I'll get the space where they are going to go ready. Means I'll have to dig up a space or at least clear out the area where I planted from last year. That of course means less area for grass to grow which is always a good thing in my book.

So I've taken my first tentative steps to getting the garden going.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Piccadilly Circus at Night

Here's the final video from my London trip of a year ago.

This is the always vibrant and lively Piccadilly Circus.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Smile

This is a very rare event in Peanuts. Charlie Brown's baseball team wins a game.

If Charlie Brown's team can do it, maybe the Nationals can too.

Thoughts on the Bike

First off a great ride this morning. I was up and out of the house by 6:35 am. I went all the way to Mt. Vernon and a little beyond. In all 46.13 miles. This was almost the total I did for all of last weekend. It took just a little over 4 hours to complete.

The weather has been very warm the past few days. In fact the low this morning is usually the average high 67 degrees. It was supposed to get close to 90 today.

I had a couple of obstacles today. The first was streets closed off near the World Bank. This was because of the meeting going on there. This was easy to get around. I just needed to get down to the Mall a few blocks further away.

The next one was larger. There was a 10k that started at Mt. Vernon and went to the water front at Alexandria. I had to change the route I normally take in Alexandria. Once past Alexandria things to interesting. South of Belle Haven Route 1, which goes to Mt. Vernon, was closed to traffic. I decided to use that. I was on the road for about 20 minutes when I decided it was time to get back on the bike path.

I did that just in time because all of a sudden the runners were on the road. I'd say there were several thousand of them. I continued on the bike path until I reached Mt. Vernon. I then got back on to the road. I rode a little past Mt. Vernon and then made a pit shop. I decided then to turn around. I stayed on the road until I ran into the end of the runners. Then it was back on the path. Once I reached Alexandria I had to do some maneuvering around the runners but then it was a clear shot to home.

So when you're on your bike for 4 hours, it gives you some time to think about things and observe what's going on around you. It would be nice if someone could invent something that would write down what you were thinking. I had some really good insights on the ride down. But of course I've forgotten most of them. It's like when you are drifting off to sleep and you think of something. You say to yourself I need to remember this, but you rarely do when morning comes along.

One thing I did see on the way to Mt. Vernon was the end of a party. There were several groups of people coming up the street in my direction. They were all in their early 20s. Usually the people you see out at this time on a Sunday are a little older. Most likely on their way to church. I finally passed the house where the part was and there were quite a few people coming out the door. It was interesting that they were finishing up their day while I was just starting mine.

Usually during these rides at some point I start thinking about the news of the day. I thought about the passing of Bea Arthur. It made me think how much TV has changed. Sitcoms at one point really had a huge impact on our society. All in the Family, Mary Tyler Moore, the Jeffersons, Maude. I can't image any sitcom on today that has such an impact that any one of those did.

I rode past a drug store and thought about the swine flu out break. I wonder if we'll have a pandemic as the World Health Organization says we might have. The operative word here is might have. Of course that's all you hear when you turn on the TV. I started to wonder what actions the government would take if it really did turn into a pandemic. But that might be getting just a little ahead of things. I leave that up for the news people to speculate endless on the disaster scenarios.

Somewhere in Alexandria I rode past a car with a McCain/Palin sticker on it. I had to shake my head on that one. I also was so very thankful that McCain did not win and how happy I am Obama is president. And with that I put on a burst towards my goal of Mt. Vernon.

A Golden Woman

I’m talking of course about Bea Arthur. And what a golden woman she was. Most people remember her the most for being Dorothy on the Golden Girls. But I remember her first television role of Maude Findlay. And what a role it was.

Maude started out as a guest star on the All in the Family. She was very much Archie’s equal and the sparring between these two was priceless. Then Maude was spun off into it’s own series. It is hard to imagine today just how ground breaking All in the Family was and then Maude.

A scene from All in the Family:

Maude was truly a portrait of a new woman, every inch a feminist and every inch a liberal. She reminded me very much of my mother. My mother was much shorter and had a somewhat higher voice than Maude’s but she was just as liberal. And since I grew up in a very conservative suburb of Chicago, it was great to see on television a liberal point of view. The issues covered were ground breaking. Probably no more so than the abortion episode. Many stations refused to run it at all. It is ironic that just a few days ago the Food and Drug Administration authorized the morning after pill for women aged 17. My how things have changed.

A scene from Maude:

As much as I enjoyed Maude, the Golden Girls well I still watch reruns of it today. I still laugh out loud even though I know most of jokes. It was just soooo well written and the acting well the acting was just incredible. Bea Arthur, Estelle Getty, Rue McClanahan and Betty White what more do you need to say. The shows are simply hysterical and poignant at the same time.

Picture it . . . four older women to headline a sitcom (actually it was only three Estelle Getty’s character was only supposed to have a limited number of appearances but the audience went nuts over her and she was written into the show) on NBC against a Robert Wagner drama on ABC. How could they possible beat Robert Wagner. Bet you can’t name the show on ABC. Golden Girls went on to clean up on Saturday nights in the ratings and was nominated for 65 Emmys.

Here's the final scene from the show:

A couple more clips:

A blooper reel:

This is the theme song that Dorothy and Rose wrote for Miami:

Bea did you have style!

Spring Is Busting Out All Over

Finally it has arrived in Washington. Although today feels more like summer than Spring but I believe our last cold weather is gone until the fall. About damn time too!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Credit Cards

Bank of America spokeswoman Betty Riess says the bank looks at factors including "an individual's performance with us as well as external credit risk indicators" in deciding whether to raise rates. Consumers could see higher rates if they pay late or go over their credit limit twice in 12 months, she notes.

That's a statement from Bank of America on why your interest rate might be raised on your credit card. Small problem is that on the two accounts I have with Bank of America I've never been later EVER.

This comment about legislation under consideration in the House:

The American Bankers Association trade group, which represents the biggest credit card issuers, said it is concerned the House bill could reduce the availability of consumer credit and make it more expensive.

Let see raising rates by 50 to 100 percent or more isn't going to make things more expensive for consumers. You can read more about this from the Washington Post and USA Today. But of course it's not that they're raising rates across the board they use the wonderful euphemism of "reassess credit card risk." If that were indeed the case, then in some cases wouldn't people's rates be going down. But you don't hear about that at all.

The rates consumers pay on credit cards are tied to their risk, issuers say. If issuers can't raise rates on the consumers who become riskier, they'll have to pass along the costs to everyone, they say.

Adam Levitin, a law professor at Georgetown University, believes these arguments are "pure scare tactics."

"If bank rates go up after these regulations, it will not be because of the regulations, but because the banks see it as an opportunity to raise prices," Levitin says.

As far as I can see, they are passing the rates on to everyone. There is no reason to believe that all of a sudden this many people are at risk. The Banks see this as an opportunity to recoup their losses from all the bad loans they made.

The legislation going through Congress is way over due.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Covent Garden - Juggler

This is video from one of the performers at Covent Garden. This is juggler who ends his act by juggling with a chain saw. I might also add that it was a little rainy the day I saw him.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jazz at Bath

This was a great group of guys I saw on the streets in Bath playing some jazz. They were good.

A Mouse in the House

I was roused out of bed very early this morning by Sam leaping off the bed and running after something. Well at the time I didn't realize he was running after something. I thought there was something wrong.

It turned out there was a mouse in the house.

Sam had captured it. Now what to do. He seemed to play with it a little. Letting it go and then running after it. I thought if I could get the two of them into the front bedroom I'd have a much better chance of getting the mouse away from Sam. In the front bedroom there are fewer places for a mouse or for that matter for a cat to hide where a person can't get to them.

I went into the front bedroom and closed the closet doors. The next step was to figure out how to get the two of them in there. Sam decided to drop the mouse and they lost the mouse. I'm thinking I'm counting on you cat to keep the mouse contained until I get rid of it.

Thankfully Sam found it again. Sam then went into the front bedroom. I had taken the garbage can from the bathroom and was going to use it to trap the mouse. This actually worked as planned. Now the dilemma was to figure out what to put under the can so I could flip it over and then take it and the mouse outside. I finally used a manila folder. It took a little doing. I got it underneath one end of the can very easily. Didn't have any problems until I got to the other end of the can. Then the folder didn't want to budge. Finally got the damn thing underneath. I then slid of piece of newspaper under that. I then flipped the can.

I then proceeded downstairs and out the front door. I left the thing go on the front steps. In retrospect, I probably should have gone across the street but I was a little out of it for having been woken up at 3 in the morning.

I'm now washing everything that was on the bed. Maybe I'll go back to sleep but I'm not sure it's worth the effort.

Happy Thursday everybody.

Even after the mouse had left the house, Sam is still trying to find out where it went.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Olympic Torch Relay

Here's video from my trip last year of the Olympic Torch Relay and the protests over it.

2political, Episode 5

2PP005 – 22 April 2009

Episode 5 Today’s special days are a little more sobering than usual, but that changes when we go on to our next subject: Teabagging! Once we stop giggling, we talk about what we think is behind it all. It’s not all a liberal rant. That leads on to the Texas governor suggesting secession. We talk about the right’s pandering to the far right and the right’s sudden rediscovery of the First Amendment. After that, it’s a concrete example of a bailed-out bank doing a number on its customers. Comments on a variety of topics—including a voicemail message! The written comments let us expand on those subjects and discuss others—including one on which we disagree. Back in 2 weeks!

Feel free to visit our new website: or call our US-based comment line, 206-426-0527. You can also send an email to arthur[at) or jason{at] 2Political episodes will continue to be available through AmeriNZ Podcast for quite awhile, but you can subscribe directly through iTunes (see the link below). You can also subscribe directly:

Arthur's personal journal podcast AmeriNZ Podcast

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

London Eye at Night

Here's some more footage of my trip to London from last year. Here you see the London Eye at night. Also a street view of Big Ben. Listen towards the end when it strikes that half hour.

Tuesday Treat

I got this Peanuts calendar for Christmas.

It just shows the drawings of the characters. It is very cute.

I removed the dates so they wouldn't detract from the art work.

Click on them for a larger image.

Odds and Ends

Keeping up with posts
I have to say I’ve not been doing very well with this. The review of the photos of Washington book is a perfect example. I’m trying to come up with a better routine for posts. I’m thinking of putting aside Tuesday nights to work on posts like the review.

The other really bad example is how long it’s taken to post video from my trip to England. I’ve had the new computer since last fall and it’s taken me this long to get video up of the trip. I hope to have three or four more up about the trip. Including a great jazz band that performed in Bath.

I’m also digging out my list of places I haven’t been to in DC. I think I’m going to try and do a video journal of visiting them.

Speed Humps
Several Fridays ago I took the day off. When I was doing some work around the house there was all of a sudden the sound of a jack hammer. I looked out the window and saw that the street was blocked off and some sort of road work was going on. I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to what they were doing I was more concerned about when the street would open up because I was going to go and have lunch with someone. later that weekend I noticed what they’d been up to. Here’s an example of the humps that have been installed on my street.

Mowing the Grass

I have to say I hate doing this. I don’t have very much and it doesn’t take all that long but it’s just long enough to be a pain. This last weekend I was finally able to get to it. I’m going to have to do it again because it was so long. I have a push mower which only works ok. I’ve used a weed whacker but I have a problem with getting the cord right. In the end it’s just easier to use the mower even if it doesn’t work all that well.

One other point about mowing. I live in a row house. So I share a small front yard with another person. The problem is that this person rarely does anything to the front lawn. They go in and out of their house through the back where they park their car. Maybe three times a year, usually around the holidays, does this person do anything to the front lawn. All the other times I take care of it. And when I say I take care of it I mean I take care of both of our halves. When this person does the front they only do their half. So this year I’m not going to do their half. I’m going to do like two-thirds of it and leave the rest for them to do. The area right by the house I’ll do all of. One year I left their half of this and this huge weed sprung up. By the time they finally did something about it, it must have been like six feet tall and a real eye sore.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bank of America Ad

Last Thursday in the Post, Bank of America had a full page ad on the back of the front section. The headline said:

How do we intend to lead the lending industry? By example. The ad was directed toward the housing market. It said in part:

following responsible home lending practices to the forefront on four industry. To help customers make clear and informed decisions, so they can choose the home loan that’s right for them. In addition, through the U.S. Treasury Department’s Making Home Affordable, we’re actively working to bring relief to homeowners who’ve lost equity in their homes, are unable to refinance because of decreasing home values, or are having difficulty making their mortgages payments.

The price for this is the reassessing of the interest rates (that’s the term Bank of America uses “reassessing”) they are charging credit card holders. I still maintain one of the reasons for this “reassessing” what normal people call raising the interest rate is to be ahead of any Congressional regulation on the subject. It’s also a nice way to make a whole lot of money.

You notice there was no full page add saying to credit card customers if you are a customer in good standing, have always paid you bill on time and never gone over your limit our reward to you is to increase your rate by at least 50%. In a couple of reports I saw on the news the rate increase was even higher than that. There should be some sort of protection for consumers from this especially in difficult economic times. There is no logical reason except to make money that Bank of America would raise rates like this. Hopefully there will be hearing in Congress on this and some much needed daylight will be shed on this practice.

I for one don’t plan to stop talking about it anytime soon.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Smile

Here are a few cartoons from Peanuts to bring a smile to your face. A great way to start the new week.

Back on the Bike

I am officially back on the bike. Finally the weather cooperated and we actually had two spring like days in a row. The few times there's been half way decent weather I was always doing something on those days. But this weekend was different.

I wasn't as completely prepared as I'd hope to have been yesterday morning. I got off 15 minutes later than I wanted to. But it was a nice bright and very sunny day. You can get an idea of what it was like by looking at the pictures below.

I like going out as early possible on the weekend. It is very very beautiful when you get out that early with the sun coming up over the city. Also there are hardly any people on the path which is always a plus.

I got just into Alexandria and turned back. I had to get to my spinning class which started at 9:15. I did about a total of 23 miles on Saturday.

Today was not as nice. It was a little cloudy. It seemed, at least at the start of the ride, warmer than yesterday. I got as a far as Belle Haven which is a little south of Alexandria. I was thinking of going as far as Mt. Vernon but thought better of it. I'd put in a great deal of time on the bike for the past two days and throwing in the spinning class, I decided to play it safe. Also I'm going to a spinning class tomorrow morning. Today I did 30 miles.

I think 53 miles for the first weekend of riding is pretty good.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sun Rise Over the Potomac

Here are some pictures of my morning bike ride down the Potomac towards Alexandria.

Gone to the Great Click Wheel in the Sky

Jason's iPod October 15, 2005-April 17, 2009

To paraphrase a famous song:

As Coroner I must aver, I thoroughly examined it.
And it’s not only merely dead, it’s really most sincerely dead.

It was working fine Thursday night. Then it started doing strange things. It would play a song for awhile and then skip to the next one. Sometimes it would skip several songs. I decided I would hook it up with iTunes on my computer and see what happened. At first things seem to be going well. The iPod did syne with iTunes. The iTunes play list showed the songs I’d played for the day. But then things began to become problematic.

Suddenly there were no songs on the iPod at all. iTunes said it was necessary to restore the iPod. This would erase all the content on it. I tried to reset the iPod and see if I could somehow bring it back. To no avail. So it was decided to resort to the restore function. With much trepidation, I clicked the restore button. It restored the settings.

iTunes started to copy my songs on to the iPod. There was a moment of hope that this would some how restore my iPod. But that hope began to fade. I got an error message saying iTunes could no longer transfer songs because there was a problem with the iPod. I tried again but again the same message. The odd thing was that when I tried moving the songs over this time the total number transferring over from the iPod from iTunes was actually fewer than the total number of songs I actually have. This valiant effort produced the same results. So I tried on final time to revive the patient. No such luck.

Time of death 12:20 am on Friday, April 17, 2009.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Whither my iPod

My iPod is slowly but surely fading away.

It has a mind of its own these days. It will skip songs without being asked to. It will stop playing whenever it wants to. Suddenly all the songs on it will completely disappear. Sometimes it is no longer recognized by iTunes.

Yesterday I took to the Apple Store. They said it was on it's last legs. It could last a few more months or maybe . . .

So the dilemma is what to do. The guy said that I could recycle my old iPod and get a 10% discount off the new one. I most likely will do that but I'd like to wait a few more months and then humanely have my iPod put out to pasture.

In other Apple news last week the new pricing scheme on iTunes went into effect. Songs are now $1.29, $.99 or $.69. I have to say I haven't seen any songs for $1.29 but I've also haven't seen any for $.69. Maybe it's going to take some time for the prices to be lowered.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Treat

It's another rather gloomy day here in Washington. It's cold and rainy. I will say we need the rain but it would be nice not to have to leave for work with your winter coat on. Supposedly later in the week it will actually get warm! I'm hoping on Sunday to get in the first ride on my bike.

Until then enjoy this one from Peanuts.

The London Eye

More footage from last year this time of the London Eye. Going up in it, you get some of the most incredible views of the city.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Real Reason My Rate Went Up

The real reason the rate on my credit cards went up so much was not because of the economy but because of legislation that is before Congress. At the end of March a Senate Committee passed:

By a 12-11 vote, the Senate Banking Committee narrowly approved a bill aimed at cleaning up unfair and deceptive practices by credit card companies criticized for surprising customers with fees and unilaterally changing terms.

Unilaterally changing terms. That sounds familiar some how doesn't it.

Here's a excerpt from a column by Allan Sloan in the Post:

Fix credit card rules. Some banks can change the interest rate on credit card balances for pretty much any reason, including if a borrower misses one payment, even if it's for something like a utility bill. So instead of being on the hook for, say, 12 percent interest (which is bad enough), borrowers may suddenly find themselves paying an obscene 29.9 percent. Regulators are trying to deal with aspects of this problem, but Congress could eliminate it overnight through legislation.

The banks' policies are disclosed in the all-but-unreadable notices they send their credit card customers. That makes it legal. But it's wrong. It's especially wrong now, when so many people are struggling to pay their bills and are likely to fall into the missed-payment, higher-rate trap that would make their lives even more difficult.

The "reason" from Bank of America for raising the rate was the economy. Well raising the rate is not going to improve things for people; it will only make it worse. But then again hiking the rate of the credit card and introducing all sorts of fees is a great way for a bank to make up let's say bad investments.

But the banks are going to get some extra time to implement the new policies. Read about it here.

From this article comes one of the more ridiculous things said about this issue:

The American Bankers Association trade group, which represents the biggest credit card companies, have warned that more rules could make it more difficult to price a customer's risk level and therefore reduce the availability of credit.

"We still believe it is an open question whether any further legislation is necessary," said Ken Clayton, senior vice president for card policy at the ABA.

Wow there's a surprise the lobbying group for banks opposing legislation to regulate their industry. I think the legislation proposed by Congress is more than reasonable. It's about time banks begin to realize they don't get to call all the shots.

The Dr Who Exihibit

This was a really cool exhibit that I went to when I was in London last year. It was the Dr Who exhibit. It had props and costumes and other things from the show. I thought it rather interesting that lots of dads were there with their sons. In some cases it seemed to me that bringing the kid to the exhibit was an excuse for the father to get in and see it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Covent Garden, Classical Music

This is a classical group that played in Covent Garden. They set up in an area where there were tables and chairs and people would sit and eat their food. The group was very good and also had a great deal of fun with the auidence.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Covent Garden

Here's a sample of some of the great street artists that you can find at Covent Garden. This guy was very good. Give a listen to the blues London style.

Thursday Treat

Here's a very funny picture I found on the web with the following caption:

How Bad is the Economy ?
It is definitely getting very bad

(Cats are SO dramatic)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Bank of America Stupidity

I got one of those periodic statements from my credit card company. You know the ones that say there's been a change in the condition of the account. As it said at the bottom of the envelope:

Important Customer Notices and Other Changes to Your Bank of America Credit Card Account

I have to say I don't always read these things as closely as I should. But I did open this one. Actually I have two because I have two accounts with Bank of America. Inside it said that they were raising my interest rate. They were raising it 50%. That's right 50%.

I think to myself we've given this Bank billions of dollars. We've been screwed by them once and now their customers are getting screwed again.

The one account I won't cancel because the credit limit is incredibly high and I've also have it since 1994. Two very good reason not to cancel the account.

The other one I have through AAA. It was canceled as fast as I could get through to an operator. So I ask why exactly the rate is being raised. Oh it's the economy. I said back that seems to be rather counter intuitive to me. Let's make it harder for people to pay back they money they owe.

I had sizable tax returns. I was going to divide them up between the two accounts. But now it's going to the AAA account. The goal is to pay it off as quickly as possible. I also think I'm going to be writing to Bank of America (I don't expect any sort of response but it will make me feel better). But I'll also be writing to AAA saying they should partner with another bank in issuing a credit card in its name.

I must say I have to scratch my head at this one. How does this help Bank of America? Just another example of how banks are totally out of touch with what is going on.

2Political Episode Four

2PP004 – April 8, 2009

Episode 4 continues our regular schedule of podcasting every other week (the next episode will be the week of April 20). After special news, we talk about President Obama’s trip to Europe. That leads to a wide-ranging discussion of international relations before we move on to talk about the auto industry. That leads to a concrete example of why it’s so important to the world that the US fixes its economy and gets credit flowing again. Comments on a variety of topics round out this episode. Back in 2 weeks!

Feel free to visit our new website: or call our US-based comment line, 206-426-0527. You can also send an email to arthur[at) or jason{at]

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Hysterical Story

This is one of the funniest stories that I've read in a very long time.

The headline says it all:

Military used pigs in blasts to test armor

You can read the whole thing here.

Here's a short excerpt:

Military researchers have dressed live pigs in body armor and strapped them into Humvee simulators that were then blown up with explosives to study the link between roadside bomb blasts and brain injury.

For an 11-month period that ended in December, researchers subjected pigs and rats to about 200 blasts, according to Pentagon documents and interviews. The explosions have ranged in intensity, wounding some of the pigs and killing others. Roadside bombs are the top killer of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now it seems to me that the body armor would have to be rather small to fit on a rat. I guess I have a few questions: Did the pigs have helmets? Was the body armor special ordered to fit a pig? Who was the lucky person who got to put the armor on the pig?

Here's a little more form the story:

The Pentagon complied with policies that ensure that a minimal number of animals were used in the testing and that they were treated humanely at all times, Walker said.

They were treated humanely up until the time they were blown up. Isn't there some sort of a contradiction there?

Finally, I can see years from now some young child asking his father what he did in the army and his reply will be I dressed pigs in body armor and then blew them up.

Cherry Blossoms Video

Here's some video of the walk around the Tidal Basin. Listen for the wind and that will give yo an idea of just how windy it really was. It was crowded but well worth it as you'll see.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Sunday, April 05, 2009

More Cherry Blossoms

In the over thirty years that I've lived here, I've probably taken more pictures of the Washington Monument and the cherry blossoms than anything else. So here they are combined. It was a very spectacular day.

The Cherry Blossoms Are Here

Cherry blossoms nothing says spring more than that. It was a rather windy day but as always the blossoms were spectacular.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

One Rep, Two Reps


Training continues. I have a rather ambitious agenda for the next week.

I had a personal training session yesterday. Today, Saturday, I'm taking a spinning class. Sunday I'm working out at the gym. Monday is spinning. Tuesday a personal training session. Wednesday another spinning class. Thursday a training session. On Friday I'm going to collapse.

The actual training is going very well. My trainer says I'm moving much better than when I started. I know I'm getting a good workout each time because I'm completely covered in sweat by the time I finish. I've also adjusted to the 7 am time. I try to get to the gym early so I can warm up on one of the treadmills. I like to use the one that give inclines from 3% to like 30%. That gets to be really difficult to do.

As for the actual workouts, they are a whole body routine. We don't just target one set of muscles. We use very few machines. Lots of squats or squat like exercises combined with moves that work your upper body. I've found that if you work the muscles only above your waist you really don't work up much of a sweat. Also you don't elevate your heart rate as much. But once you incorporate moves that involve your legs everything changes. You work up a lot more sweat. As I said I'm soaked by the end of w workout and you heart rate is much more elevated.

I need to get going and get ready for my spinning class. After that it's a walk around the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Sad Passing

Andy Hallett who was on Angel as Lorne died from congestive heart disease as age 33.

Here are a couple clips.

This is from a science fiction fan club appearance in Australia:

He was always such a funny character and really added a great deal to the show. Here's a link to a story in USA Today.

Here's a tribute to him on YouTube:

And here are a couple of scenes from the show:

Hampton Court

Here's a talk by Lady Anne Herbert (or at least someone portraying her) about how she came to Hampton Court and a little of the history of the place. She was very good as were all the characters at Hampton Court.