Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy Friday!

It's finally arrived Friday. Here's great way to celebrate. It also looks like the weather might be nice in DC for both days of the weekend.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Donald Trump is a Bigot

I could go into many reasons for why this true. But the actions of Donald Trump in the last few weeks show this is exactly what he is a bigot. Obama produced his birth certificate. But now Trump calls into questions how Obama could have possibly gotten into the colleges that he did. Implying once again that some how Obama is not one of us.

I will not spend any more time talking about this bigot. I will be sending a letter to NBC saying that Trump's how should be canceled.

One final note. If anyone is not one of us, it is Donald Trump.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Elisabeth Sladen Passes

At the end of the new episode of Doctor Who there was a dedication to Elisabeth Sladen. Sladen had died earlier in the week. For long time Doctor Who fans she was Sarah-Jane Smith. She was on the show from 1973 to 1976, opposite both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker.

I have to say she was one of my favorite campanions. I didn’t stumble on to Doctor Who until the mid to late 1980s. The show was run on one of the local public broadcasting stations WHUT which is owned by Howrd University. Each night during the week there would be an episode. So it was important to see each one or you’d miss some of the action. The effects and sets of the show were not exactly first rate but the premise and the acting was first rate.

Doctor Who ran on WHUT for four or five years and then it went off the air. A few years later WETA started running the show on Saturdays. WETA ran each story as one episode. They also ran all the episodes of the show. They started with the first one and went from there. The public television station in Chicago was doing the same thing so I had my parents record some of the shows for me and send them to me. It was such a great show to watch.

Eventually the show ran it’s course and the last show was in December of 1989 with the final Sylvester McCoy. That is of course until 2005 when it was started all again.

And who should show up in some of those epsiodes but Sarah-Jane. The scenes between her and David Tennant, who plays the Doctor, when they meet again after so many years are in my opinion some of the best in the whole series.

Here’s a great article on Elisabeth Sladen

And a wonderful remembrance from Tom Baker.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rhode Island Station

Rhode Island Station continues to take shape. The first couple of pictures are of the first structure that went up. There now putting in windows in and it looks like they are creating the individual apartments in the building. It is fun to watch it go up.

Rhode Island Station Takes Shape

With the weather finally warming up, the development is really taking off. Workers are there six days a week.

Development Along Rhode Island Avenue

The area right along Rhode Island Avenue is the new focus of the project as you can see by these pictures. This has come a long way in a very short time. If they can keep this up, they may have stores open by September.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

What better way to celebrate than with the Easter beagle himself!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Parking Madness

That's what it is like trying to park on the streets in Washington. Madness. Thankfully I only have to drive some place where I need street parking. I have plenty of it around my house. But it's the times I drive to my gym that it is just crazy.

This is especially true now that you have to pay at meters on Saturday. Saturdays used to be free but that all changed about a year ago. It takes $4 to get 2 hours on a meter. That's 7.5 minutes for each quarter. Needless to say I try and avoid parking at a meter when I go to the gym on Saturdays. The other problem is that if I take both classes (TRX and boot camp) that's over two hours.

The goal then is to find parking without meters. That's when the fun begins. The plethora of signs came be confusing. See if you can figure this one out. There is a no standing or parking sign. It says you can't do either of those from 9 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday. You would think on a Saturday you'd be able to park there. But right next to that sign is a no parking sign. So if you can't park there at all why would there be a no standing and parking sign right next to it.

There are also signs that say no parking entrance, Monday through Saturday. These are entrances to office buildings and apartments. I can understand on a Saturday why there would be no parking in front of an apartment building people might be moving in. (But then again you usually aren't able to move in through the front entrance.) Why would there be no parking in front of an office building? And these no parking entrance area take up a huge part of a block. In one block more than half of the street was no parking because of this.

I have found a place about four blocks from the gym where, if I leave early enough, I can find parking. Instead of driving around and looking for a place close to the gym I'm just going to head there first.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Hypocrite Resigns

John Ensign who announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election has now announced that he will resign his Senate seat in early May. He said:

... he could no longer put up with the intense focus of the affair and the ethical issues.

“While I stand behind my firm belief that I have not violated any law, rule, or standard of conduct of the Senate, and I have fought to prove this publicly, I will not continue to subject my family, my constituents, or the Senate to any further rounds of investigation, depositions, drawn out proceedings, or especially public hearings,” he said.

Another Republican with zipper control problems. Another Republican who preached morality. Another "family values" Republican. But as so often happens with these types got caught with his pants down literally. Another Republican caught in this situation who didn't have the decency to resign right away. No only under the treat of a real investigation of what went on does the Senator head for the exit.

Here's the story the woman, Cynthia Hampton, he had the affair with her husband worked for the Senator as an administrative assistant. Also the husband was supposed to be a close personal friend. Oh and the wife was on the Senator’s payroll too.

The husband, Doug Hampton, finds out about the affair.

According to Hampton:

Hampton said Ensign continued the affair for months after Hampton found out about it, and even well after the Ensigns and the Hamptons had confronted the issue together!

Both he and his wife are dismissed from the Senator’s payroll. But then things get interesting. Ensign helps Doug Hampton get a job with a consulting firm run by political advisers and supposedly helped Hampton line up some clients. Now this may seem all very innocent but another way to look at it is a way to give Hampton a job and at the same time keep Hampton's mouth shut about the affair.

Then there is the generous gift from the Senator’s parents to the Hampton family. $96,000 in all which was labeled at gift income. A lawyer for the parents says this was all legal. Gee can you say hush money. I thought you could.

Finally by resigning Ensign essentially ends the ethics committee investigation.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Then again maybe if a door had hit him in the nuts he'd never had had all these problems.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

With Walking Over, Back to the Gym

Walking is not over but the very long 22 miles on a Saturday have come to an end. I still might try and do a walk like that every once and a while. To be honest the weather has been less than pleasant on the weekends.

I do have my new schedule for the gym. Monday is my day off. Tuesday is a session with my personal trainer. Wednesday is spinning. Thursday another session with the trainer. Friday spinning again. Saturday is TRX and boot camp. Then Sunday is boxing.

I've started my second week of this schedule. Actually I haven't done both of the Saturday classes yet that will come this Saturday. So far I think I'm doing pretty well.

I got my Wii Fit for winning the steps contest. I got everything home this past week. I set it up on Saturday and didn't have any problems. I've done something with it every night. There are all sorts of things to do on it. I'm doing some balance games and aerobics and a couple of training exercises.

It is funny to say yes tonight I'm going to go home and play with my Wii. That really just doesn't come out right whether writing it or saying it. One of my co-workers gets a kick out of saying are you going to play with you Wii this weekend. Another co-worker brought me some of your games which I will play with this weekend.

I think I'm gearing up to the new exercises schedule well. I would like to get in a little more walking but the weather has been very crazy the last couple of weeks. The only thing that is not working out as well as it should is my weight. I'm done to around 174-175. I can't seem to get much below that. I was making good progress but then got that terrible cold/sinus thing. I think if the weather settles down some I'll be back on track. The Wii helps with keeping track of my weight too.

So here's to playing with my Wii!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Mid-week

Happy middle of the week. As always a great way to celebrate is to have a Peanuts strip. And like Frieda, I'm worried about foreign policy too. I'm worried about the number of wars the US would get into when Donald Trump is elected president. Because after all the Donald is the most experienced candidate in the field.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Less than Competent

I had two examples of this over the weekend.

The first occurred when I got home on Friday. There was a bill for the medical procedure that I had back at the end of January. The first charge was for the biopsy of the wart. The second charge was for the follow up visit with the doctor which was in March.

The total was $367. My part of the bill was $367. There was a small little problem the bill had not been submitted to the insurance company. Further I’d received a bill a month early with a charge dated for . I don’t understand why the charge from the end of January wasn’t on that bill.

I made a quick call to the medical provider. I was told that bill hadn’t been submitted to the insurance company. My question was why hadn’t that happened. A month earlier I’d gotten a bill which had been sent to my insurance company why hadn’t this one. Well I was told perhaps they didn’t take my insurance information. I can’t say what happened on the first charge but the second charge was for the follow up at the doctor’s. They certainly had my insurance information. Now the doctor’s office obviously doesn’t do the billing. That is done at a central location but the question remains how did they not have this information. So I had to give the representative on the phone my insurance member number. I then had to give her the address of where to send the claim to. I can understand giving the member number but they don’t even have the address to send a claim.

These are the same incredibly competent people that called me the day before the procedure at home to tell me how much I needed to pay for the procedure. They had two other numbers to reach me, my work phone and my cell, and didn’t try either one. These are also the same people that took the name and phone number of the friend who was going to pick me up after the procedure. I ended up having to call him to pick me up because no one in the office had bothered to call him. If they weren’t going to call him why ask for his name and phone number. Also if they weren’t going to call him why didn’t they tell me that.

The medical care is first rate; the administrative end is well less than competent.

The second example of less than competent came from Earthlink. That's my e-mail service provider. I have to say I'm getting a little tired of them. And what happened on Saturday is only reinforcing the feeling.

I received an e-mail message from Earthlink on Sunday morning. In it they stated that The following message(s) from members on your block list were deleted. There were nine messages deleted (a couple were from the same person). The problem was none of them were on my blocked domain list.

I called them and talked to "Susie" who sounded all the world like she was Indian and I mean as from the country of India. Susie said that if there wasn't an IP address associated with the e-mail then it would be blocked. It didn't make any difference if I'd received e-mail from them in the past. The problem I have with that explanation is there were nine messages in all from 7 different people. How could all of them not have IP addresses associated with the e-mail?

I was then told I needed to forward the message to another part of Earthlink. I said I think she could do that. Supposedly in the next day or so to let me know what's going on.

Once again less than competent.

But to show not everyone is like that these days here's another story with a different ending.

I canceled my Freecreditscore account. You can only do this by calling them. I thought great I'll get a hard sales pitch to stay. But nothing like that happened. I got an automated menu. I pressed a number on the phone for billing. I pressed another number to cancel my subscription. Done. A little later in the day I got a confirmation e-mail saying my account had been canceled. It couldn't have been any easier.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Peeps Return

The Washington Post has announced the winners of its 5th annual peeps show. That peeps as in the peeps you buy at Easter time. Here's a link to see the winners and runners up.

Here's a screen shot of this year's winner and a description of it.

WINNER: "Chilean CoPeepapo Mine Rescue"

This year's winning diorama, which depicts the dramatic rescue of 33 mine worker in Copiapo, Chile, last October, is the work of Mary Jo Ondrejka from Reston; Bryn Metzdorf from Fairfax; and Margaret Hartka from Parkton, Md. A Peep version of miner Ariel Ticona meets his newborn daughter for the first time, while Peep Johnny Barrios Rojas is greeted by both his wife and mistress.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2Political Episode 53

2PP053 - 11 April 2011

2Political Podcast Episode 53- is now available. You can listen to it or download it from the podcast site, You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode (you can access the five most recent episodes from the list on the right side of my blog).

We have Special Days, and after that Jason talks about some special posts his brother is posting celebrating The Smithsonian’s Jazz Appreciation Month. Our politics begins with talk abut Glenn Beck’s departure (we’re not exactly sad about it). The budget battle is next, and we take down the Republicans. Arthur says the underlying problem for Democrats is that they don’t challenge on the Republicans’ constant drumbeat about how awful government is—it isn’t and, in fact, does some things very well, indeed. Jason talks about the phony numbers from Representative Ryan. We go onto the philosophical agenda behind Ryan’s budget axe. Arthur has a double-dog dare for Ryan—which he’d too much of a coward to ever do.

Comments are next, and let us comment a bit further about the issues discussed. And finally, Arthur was out of sorts this week (week before was hella bad).

Please leave a comment (anyone's welcome—agree or disagree!), or you can ring the 2Political Comment line on 206-350-3982.

Links for this episode:
Jason’s brother’s blog
Jazz Appreciation Month 2011 at the Smithsonian
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Got My Credit Scores

I’m mulling over whether to refinance since interest rates are rather low. As I said I’m mulling this over. I’ve gotten a couple of rates and I would save some money but not a great deal.

Anyway back to the credit scores. The scores now seem to be the Holy Grail to lenders. Have a good score you get the best deals. If score isn’t so hot well you pay more for just about everything. The thing with the scores is they are much harder to get then a credit report. Once a year you are entitled to a free credit report from the three credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion (I think the question needs to be asked why these three became the end all and be all credit reporting). The scores it seems you don’t get to look at for free.

Well you can look at them for free but you have to go through many more hoops to see them. I googled free credit score. The list of places one can go to is well it’s a bid damn long list. The scores are offered for free. But you have to sign up for a credit monitoring service. Depending on the service you get 7 to 14 to 21 days to try out the service and after that time you’ll be charged for the service on a monthly basis.

I picked FreeScore. There were many hoops to go through to get the scores. You had to set up your initial account with you password. You needed to have at least one number and it was suggested one special character. As you typed in the password its strength was gaged from weak to strong. Then there was your personal information. Confirming your address, e-mail address things like that. They there were four questions you had to answer. This was to test you if for some reason you forgot your password.

So I go through and set all this up. Then there’s a button that says get you scores. Well you don’t get your scores you go to the main menu of the site. There is another button that says get your scores. You then had to provide you password again to prove you were indeed you. Then you had to verify your address and the last four number of your social security number and you date of birth and your sex. Finally up comes the scores.

I did very well. In two I’m in the 84th percentile and in I’m in the 86th percentile. So my credit is pretty damn good.

Then there is a long list of recommendations on how to improve your credit score. I’m not sure how much higher I can get it. But a couple of the recommendations were pretty funny. Here they are:

Not enough revolving debt experience. This is from both Equifax and Experian. This point goes on to say a healthy balance of credit and loan accounts is key to achieving a high credit score. It is important to build a record of responsible credit use over time with different types of accounts. Consider opening a new account to strengthen your credit report. Doing so of course would mean which ever lender you would go to would be accessing your credit report.

A little way down on the page is this advice again from both Equifax and Experian. There are too many inquiries on your credit report. A few inquiries a year is normal, but multiple inquiries within a short time frame may cause a temporary drop in your credit score.

Well guys which one should I be doing. Opening up another account or not.

This just reinforces that just about no matter what you do your credit score will go down. But then again I'm in the 84th percentile so I'm not going to be all that worried.

As for refinancing, there aren't enough benefits. I'll wait and see and interest rates go. And maybe my scores can be even higher!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Friday’s Farce

What happened on Friday night would be laughable if it weren’t so important. Instead it was disgraceful. I liked what David Gergen said on CNN. That Congress should be embarrassed that it came down to this. Gergen further commented that he was at some sort of an international conference (I came in on the middle of what he was saying so didn’t get all the details) but people there came up to him and said what are you guys doing. This has to be a joke.

When you have people chanting “shut it down, shut it down.” It is almost a joke. What you have once again is the Tea Party and the people elected by them acting like 6 year olds. Like a 6-year old, the Tea Party view is always right. They must always get their way. If they don’t they have a fit. Thus the gleeful chanting of shut it down. And, like a 6 year in a tantrum, they can only think of themselves and of no one else. It is impossible for them to see the potential damage that will be done if the government is shut down.

Of course if there had been a shut down the Tea Party members of Congress, in fact all of Congress, would still have been paid. My feeling is if they can’t do their job they shouldn’t get paid. In fact they should loose $1,000 each day that the government is closed. If members of our military, in active war zones, are not considered essential personnel and don’t get paid, then neither should members of Congress. In fact, I would argue that in a shut down members of Congress become superfluous.

The Tea Party excuse is they are standing up for principles. The thing is there is no consequences to them if the government shuts down. Arthur and I discuss this in an upcoming podcast. Essentially my take on this is that many people will be hurt. Many who don’t work directly for the government but depend on them for business. One wonders about the lunch vendor and his cart outside the Department of Commerce and how much business he would loose in a shut down. Or for that matter the corner Subway or McDonalds. Or the people who might be closing on a house with a government loan. You see my point. The shut down goes beyond what the government does.

Also not considered is what this does to out position in the world as a whole. We look foolish. Maybe some investor will think twice about putting his money in American stocks or bonds or treasury bills because of all this non-sense.

The problem is that this is not the end of this. This will not be the last time we will have to go through this. This will be happening again and again and again as long as the 6 year olds are in charge.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Brother Celebrates Jazz

My brother is celebrating jazz this month because the Smithsonian is proclaiming April as Jazz Appreciation Month. So each day he will post about a jazz artist that he likes. This will include a video of the performer as well. Here's the link to his blog.

Here's his first post from the series:

I will participate by sharing the various ways that I appreciate jazz.

In the entire scope of music, jazz represents a tiny niche. Last I noticed, jazz accounted for 3 percent of music sales. Among those 3 percentage points, Kenny G probably represents 1, the Marsalis family another 1, leaving the last 1 for everyone else.

I like the idea of tiny-ness when it comes to jazz—because it is not tiny. Within that 1 percentage point is another world of creativity too massive to hear in just one month of formal observance. The music is filled with people who occupy a niche of this tiny niche yet cultivate a meaningful following.

Today, I recognize guitarist Mary Halvorson for occupying her niche of the niche in a most distinctive way. Her fearless style of slashes, spikes, and squalls is not a new approach—Jimi Hendrix and James Ulmer were doing similar things three and four decades ago—but I have never heard this vocabulary assembled for exactly this dynamic effect. I would describe the dynamic range as discreet to thoroughly impolite, but often with no gradations in between.

The video I have embedded does not show her at her most jarring. If you have a better suggestion for a video to embed, please let me know.

For more gloriously jarring Mary Halvorson, try her recent CD, "Saturn Sings."

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Beck Goes Away

All I can say on this is wow it's about time. Talk about someone who's 15 minutes is so over. Talk about someone who turned into a raving nut on the air. To quote the song so long farewell etc etc.

What I find rather amusing is what was said by Fox's head

Whether advertiser backlash played any role in Beck’s departure from the 5 p.m. slot, Ailes said no, though he conceded the reaction of advertisers was “frustrating,” telling the AP, “advertisers who get weak-kneed because some idiot on a blog site writes to them and says we need to stifle speech, I get a little frustrated by that.”

Well I suppose you could think that. But the problem with that analysis is Fox pulled the plug no one else. If it was so important not to stifle speech then Fox should have kept Beck on. But the show wasn't making any money from advertisers. Because the important main stream advertisers could no longer stomach the bile coming out of Beck's mouth.

The reason Beck was canceled was not because of any so-called boycott (because there wasn't one. Just someone informing advertisers what Beck was saying) but the age old reason on TV the show wasn't making any money and wasn't going to make any money. So Fox pulled the plug. End of story.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

More Baseball Fun from Peanuts

Since most of the news lately hasn't been very good. With all the spoiled, bratty children running around pretending to be politicians and trying to pass a budget, I thought this would be a wonderful break from this. I'm hoping to go to my first Nationals game in the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Graph of My Steps

This is the graph of the steps I took each day in the 10,000 steps a day program. I did 754,181 steps. That works out to 376 miles total. Or an average of 22,854 steps a day or 11.3 miles a day.

My my feet can rest. But this is just the beginning of gearing up to a new fitness program which will help me loose 15 pounds by the beginning of June. I've lost 6 pounds so far. It's slowed down a bit because of my bad cold/sinus condition but that's now on the way out.

Anyway here's the graph

Monday, April 04, 2011

Funny E-mail

This was one of those mass e-mailings that I got. Most of the time I just delete them but this one is very funny:

This is an Incredible story !

In 1986, Peter Davies was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University.

On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air.

The elephant seemed distressed, so Peter approached it very carefully.

He got down on one knee, inspected the elephants foot, and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it.

As carefully and as gently as he could, Peter worked the wood out with his knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments.

Peter stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled.

Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away.

Peter never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.

Twenty years later, Peter was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son.

As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Peter and his son Cameron were standing.

The large bull elephant stared at Peter, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down.

The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Peter could not help wondering if this was the same elephant.

Peter summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing, and made his way into the enclosure.

He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder.

The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Peter's legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant ...

This is for everyone who sends those heart-warming bullshit stories.

Yes, pretty damn funny indeed

Sunday, April 03, 2011

2Political Episode 52

2PP052 - 28 March 2011

2Political Podcast Episode 52- is now available. You can listen to it or download it from the podcast site, You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode (you can access the five most recent episodes from the list on the right side of my blog).

Arthur didn’t get around to editing this episode in a timely manner. No reason or valid excuse, he just didn’t. He apologises profusely.

After extensive Special Days, we talk about what we’ve been up to since our last podcast—including Arthur’s imposed “radio silence”. Jason, who has a cold, shares two stories. In fact, we spend most of the first half of the podcast just catching up.

When we get to politics and such, we begin with talking about the US military action in Libya. The US so often ends up backing despots in pursuit of its goals and objectives. Jason asks, what do you do? Arthur says that the US dependence of foreign oil dictates its foreign policy in support of despots. We both think the number one security issue facing the world is dependence on Middle Eastern oil. This leads to a discussion about some small ways forward.

Please leave a comment (anyone's welcome—agree or disagree!), or you can ring the 2Political Comment line on 206-350-3982.

Links for this episode:
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire – Roger Green’s blog post
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes

Saturday, April 02, 2011

I Got Mentioned in the Post

The on-line version of the Washington Post:

Cherry blossoms + free food? D.C’s blogs
By Lori Aratani

Good afternoon. Despite the cool temperatures, the cherry blossoms are in their full glory and our D.C. -area bloggers have taken note. We couldn’t resist the great photos from Jason’s View In D.C. The folks at We Love DC highlight a special cherry blossom promotion at Capital One banks that involves . . . free food.

Here's the link to the entire entry.

Pretty damn cool.