Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Helping Out in Joplin

This past weekend my brother and sister-in-law volunteered to help in Joplin. They spent Saturday there. You can read more about it on my brother's blog here.

I talked to both of them on the phone on Sunday. They said pictures or video really do not give the real sense of what has happened. It has a very surreal look to it. They said where they went to sign in was a school which was out of the tornado's path. It looked fine. They took a bus to the site. As they got closer to the site, the destruction became more and more noticeable until you could look around and that's all you could see: destruction.

This is part of what they were told before starting their work:

The young Americorps leaders told us to move debris from front yards and heap it into separate piles at the curb: lumber, timber and metal. To assure the integrity of insurance assessments, they told us not to disturb any debris that was touching a dwelling or a slab. A FEMA-certified volunteer told me that one reason for the yard-clearing work was to keep debris from being thrown into the air again “if we had another blow.” Another reason offered by an Americorps person was to clear the way for bulldozers that would be coming in next. So, the operation was proceeding in little increments over many stages.

They said the people they ran into from Joplin itself were extremely grateful for the help they offered. But there is so much more to do they added.

I'm just very proud that they decided to help out. Slowly Joplin will come back as long as they get some help like Ed and Jennifer gave this past Saturday.

Monday, May 30, 2011

2Political Episode 56

2PP056 - 30 May 2011

2Political Podcast Episode 56- is now available. You can listen to it or download it from the podcast site, 2political.com. 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).

Today we start out talking a bit about what is one of today’s Special Days, US Memorial Day (another Special Day is June 5). Our discussion of Memorial Day leads to talking about the lack of support for military personnel. Are they merely political and commercial props? The lack of acknowledgement annoys Jason, and Arthur thinks it’s indicative of differences between the parties.

Jason wonders what the mentality that sacrifice is unnecessary would have meant in the past: What if the leaders of World War II wouldn’t sacrifice? Or the leaders of the Civil War? The founding fathers? That leads on to talk of our shared responsibility to pay our taxes to pay for the things that benefit us all, and our moral responsibility to look after those who cannot look after themselves. Jason then argues for a new, more sophisticated approach to policy making, including having contingency plans for what happens if plans don’t work.

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

Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Disaster in Joplin

The pictures from Joplin have been nothing short of incredible and I don't mean that in a good way.

Joplin isn't all that far from Springfield. So Ed and I were concerned last Sunday that the storm in Joplin might actually hit Springfield. We heard from both my dad and sister-in-law, Jennifer, that night that they were getting ready to seek shelter if necessary. It turned out that didn't happen. Springfield just got some very very heavy rain.

The hospital that was hit in Joplin, St. John's, just so happens to be the the hospital that Jennifer works for in Springfield. Below are some pictures that a colleague of her's set to her. Pay close attention to the last picture.

This picture is not on its side. This is a picture of a wall at the hospital. The force of the tornado embedded the chair and every thing else you see in the picture into the side of the wall. And get this the wall is concrete.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ed's Slideshow of the Courtyard Marriott Washington Capitol Hill / Navy Yard

Monday afternoon Ed and I headed out to where he was going to stay for the next couple of days. He was in town to do an interview with someone from the Department of Homeland Security for the journal he works for. The pictures show the area where he stayed.

Here's his commentary on the pictures he took:

I spent a few days at the Courtyard by Marriott Washington Capitol Hill / Navy Yard and was intrigued by the bizarre landscape of office and condo cubes rising 10-15 stories from scorched earth. The remnants of what used to be there slink in the shadows of the spotty presences of the steel and glass tumors in various stages of growth. [By the way, I edited out of the presentation a photo of Onyx Apartments with its huge banner proclaiming units for rent. I understand that the rent is rather high.] Weird that the Capitol and the Washington Monument are readily visible from certain spots. The baseball stadium, with its mural of vigorous athletes, also pops into view here and there. Furthermore, underneath the New Jersey Avenue overpass above some huge highway, there's a stable that supports a white horse and friends.

To say that it is an are in transition would be an understatement. This is the area where the new baseball stadium was built. Some government office were already there before the baseball stadium. But the stadium was supposed to bring in all sorts of development. Then the economy tanked and the development was stalled or slowed down. In some cases it has come to a complete halt. Some of the development projects are now back on track.

So the area is very hit and miss. Some very nice and impressive buildings. Some vacant lots. Some lots under construction. Some lots still have the buildings from before any development started. There are some impressive apartment buildings going up. One is the Onyx Apartments. Here's a link to their site. Take a look at the floor plans and the cost of rent.

The horses Ed mentions in his narrative are for the Capitol Hill police.

It was promised by the proponents of the baseball stadium that this area would be one of the go to places in Washington. As of yet, as Ed's pictures show, it has yet to measure up to that promise.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What Ed and I did on Monday

Since we discovered the problem with Ed's iPhone on Sunday, we decided to take a trip to the Georgetown Apple store.

We got up and had breakfast and watched some of the coverage of the horrible tornado that went through Joplin. Springfield is not all that far away. In fact on Sunday night we'd talked with both our dad and Jennifer about what was going on in Springfield. Thankfully all they got was wind and rain.

Headed out for the Metro around 9. Got into Georgetown a little before 10. Went to the Apple store. They confirmed that indeed the iPhone was toast. What was great is that they replaced the phone right there. We were in and out of the store in just about 20 minutes.

We decided to go to the National Building Museum and see the Lego exhibit that was there. Then we'd do lunch and head back to my place.

National Building Museum

From the outside it looks like an ordinary brick building but on the inside The National Building Museum looks very different.

The Lego Exhibit at the National Building Museum

After the tour of the museum, we went and saw the Lego exhibit. All of these models of famous buildings from around the world are all made out of Lego.

Ed Creates His Lego Building

After you saw all the Lego famous landmarks, you came to a room where you got to build your own Logo building. Here's Ed constructing his.

Ed's Finished Lego Masterpiece

The Rapture, Once More With Feeling

Ed and I stumbled upon this in the Judiciary Square Metro stop.

And in case you missed it Harold Camping and set yet another date for the end of the world:

Radio evangelist Harold Camping said in a special broadcast Monday night on his radio program Open Forum that his predicted May 21, 2011 Rapture was “an invisible judgment day“ that he has come to understand as a spiritual, rather than physical event.

“It wont be spiritual on October 21st,” Camping said, adding, “the world is going to be destroyed all together, but it will be very quick.”

As I always say it's nice to have a hobby.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Air and Space Museum

Another wonderful bright and sunny day. At least that's the way Sunday started. Ed went off to lunch with a friend. I went off and got pancakes from Stoney's up by Logan Circle. They were fantastic.

Stopped off at a friend's gallery. He was participating in the Open Studios that Mid-City Artists has. Talked to him for a while. Then I went and sat in Logan Circle. It clouded up a little and there were a few rain drops.

Met up with Ed in the Chinatown area. Ed stopped off at an AT&T store to have someone look at his new iPhone. Seems there was a problem with it. The guy at the store suggested going to an Apple store to see if they could solve the problem.

We decided to do that on Monday. We headed off for the Air and Space Museum. It is always filled with so many interesting things to see. One of the very cool things about it is that there are so many exhibits that are the real thing. As the pictures below show.

Planes of World War II

Very interesting exhibit on the planes of World War II. There were of course the planes themselves as you can see below. But they also showed what type and caliber of bullets fired. The types ranged from armor piercing to incendiary. There were also models of all the major planes flow by the major powers involved in the war.

Inside the Botanic Gardens

From Air and Space it was a short walk to the Botanic Gardens. They have one of the most incredible and spectacular displays of orchids you will ever see. Here's a small sample.

On the Grounds of the Botanic Gardens

As spectacular as the orchids are in side, the roses are just as spectacular outside. They are a little past their prime in the pictures below but you can still get a sense of how incredible they are.

The National Gallery

After the American Indian Museum, we wen to the National Gallery. We saw an incredible exhibit called Venice: Canaletto and His Rivals. Here's a description of it from the National Gallery:

Venice inspired a school of competitive view painters whose achievements are among the most brilliant in 18th-century art. The exhibition celebrates the rich variety of these Venetian views, known as vedute, through some 20 masterworks by Canaletto and more than 30 by his rivals, including Michele Marieschi, Francesco Guardi, and Bernardo Bellotto. Responding to an art market fueled largely by the Grand Tour, these gifted painters depicted the famous monuments and vistas of Venice in different moods and seasons.

It was fantastic. Right outside the entrance was an ornate gondola.