Wednesday, April 30, 2014

People Need to Pay a Little More Attention

The other day I was walking down the escalator at a Metro stop. There was a man ahead of me looking at his phone. When he got to the bottom of the escalator, he took a step off of it and stopped. He continued to look at his phone. I assumed he would move out of the way. I was wrong. I had to make a very nimble move around him. If I hadn’t done that, there was the possibility of running into him. I brushed up against him and he finally looked up from his phone with an annoyed look at me. I came very close to saying how about moving out of the way.

This emphasizes once again the inability of people realize exactly where they are and that their actions or lack of actions have consequences. I could have easily run into this guy and my momentum from walking off the escalator could have caused one or both of us to perhaps fall and get hurt.

It also shows the lack of common sense this guy had. It’s all fine and well to be looking at your phone but you need to be cognizant about where you are. In this case the guy should have know once he was off the escalator he needed to get out of the way of the other people coming down.

Another example of not being aware of where you are happened when I was down at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade a few weeks back. There were a group of people (I’m pretty sure a family) were walking down the sidewalk. There spaced in just such a way that they took up just about the entire width of the sidewalk. They took up so much space that people coming in the opposite direction had to form a single file line to get by. This lasted a good block before they found a spot to watch the parade from. I’m going to give them a small benefit of the doubt and say they looked like tourist. But again they seemed completely unaware of the consequences of their action on other people trying to around that day.

Then on the way home from work last night another person looking a their phone and not paying attention to what they were doing. She was walking down the stairs to the platform level of the Metro. A train was just pulling in. She was almost in the exact middle of the stair case slowly walking down the stairs while looking at her phone. I was behind her. The train pulling in was the train I was going to take to get home. Again I had to manuever around her. I almost bumped into someone coming up the stairs. During all of this the woman was completely oblivious as to what was going around her.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

One of Those Mornings

It seems lately I’ve had more than my fair share of these. I like to try and get things in fairly good shape the night before so the next morning runs smoothly. Unfortunately that hasn’t been happening and today was a good example of it.

I’ll start off by saying part of the reason for this is I haven’t been getting to bed at a reasonable hour. That means I wake tired which is never a fun thing. My sleep is also being interrupted by Charlie. He likes to like my face to wake me up. He usually decides to do this around 4 in the morning. He will continue the licking attack for about ten minutes and stop. But he’s back in half an hour or so going at it again. Not the funest way to wake from a sound sleep.

This morning Charlie was at it again. When the alarm finally went off at 5, I was just not ready to get up. I hit snooze more than a couple of times. Finally I got my butt out of bed. I of course was behind. I tried to make up for the lost time but the faster I tried to do things the further behind I got.

There were the usual fun things to get right. Like finding two socks that matched. This is of course my fault. I have a couple weeks of clean laundry that I need to sort through and I have failed to do so. It means most of the socks in the sock draw are not matched. A great way to waste a whole lot of time.

With socks matched, I continued trying to get ready this morning. I needed to pay a couple of bills which I was going to do the night before but forgot. I sorted through the ones were close to being due and paid those. It of course took a little time to find the check book because I can never seem to leave it in the same place. Or more accurately remember where the hell I put it.

I stopped to do a couple of “quick” things on the computer which of course were anything but quick. I’d bought a couple of new albums and wanted to put them on my iPod. At any other time the iPod is updated in no time at all. But of course not this morning. For some reason (one that I have yet to figure out) the iPod just hung there. Says it was updating but wasn’t doing anything. More time wasted. Finally it updates.

I’m now very close to the end of my window for leaving the house and getting to work on time. I manage to just make it out in time. But I forget my iPod. I have to go back into the house and quickly grab it before the alarm becomes fully activated. The front door locks which have worked fine the last few days become finicky this morning. I’m going to chalk it up to the weather. I’m able get in and out of the house before the alarm is armed. (This has become a reoccurring theme in my mornings forgetting something. Sometimes I remember it right after I get out of the house and am able to dash back in and get it. Other times I’m a block or so away. Have to get back into the house. Deactivate the alarm. Find what I forgot and then reactivate the alarm.)

And I’m off to the Metro. I figure once I get there everything will start running smoothly. I only have to wait a couple of minutes for a train. I get on figuring I’m all set. Not exactly. At the next six or seven stops the train is held for a schedule adjustment.

I decide I'll stop off and get a chocolate muffin at a place right by the Bethesda Metro. They have really good muffins. I figure it's a nice way to make all the morning stuff wash away.

I get to the place and there is a sign on the front door. It says this location is now closed.

Like I said one of those mornings.

Tuesday Treat Peanuts — Snoopy Gets His Rabies Shot

It's a gloomy Tuesday in more ways than one here in DC. Three days of heavy rain is coming our way. Bryce Harper is going to be out of the Nats line up for at least two months. And that moron Cliven Bundy is still in the news.

So to spread a little cheer amongst the gloom, here is a very funny series from Peanuts about Snoopy going to the vet.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Some Funny Things Happened on the Way and at the Game

The rather empty row I was in for the game.

The first funny thing for the day happened on the way to the game. But there needs to be a little set up to my day so you get a sense of the mood that I was in.

So it was bobblehead day. I wanted to there a little early to make sure I would get my bobble. It was also a really really nice warm sunny day and I thought it would be more than fine with me to wonder around the park for a couple of hours before the game. I wanted to leave sometime between 10:30 and 11.

I thought it would be a good idea to take a bag so I could put the bobble in it. I headed out around 10:40. I got a block or so from my house and realized that I forgot the bag. I went back and this is when the fun began. I didn’t properly turn off the alarm. Somehow I hit the panic button. I didn’t realize it at first but when I tried to arm the alarm to go (after making sure I had the bag this time) it wouldn’t let me do anything.

I receive a call from the alarm company asking me if everything is fine. I say yes. This was my fault I pressed the wrong buttons. But now I need someone to help me reset the alarm. I’m transferred to tech support. We go through a few things and then suddenly I’m disconnected. Not only am I disconnected but the phone is suddenly dead too. In a few minutes the phone starts working again. I call the alarm company back in a short order everything is fine.

I’m running a little behind and double time it to the subway. There is always work on the weekends (not that cherry blossom season is over). If you don’t hit things right you can add a good 40 minutes on to your trip. I got lucky. I didn’t have to wait very long at Rhode Island Ave or Gallery Place.

The fun started when I got L’Enfant Plaza. Four guys got on. Two of them had an open can of beer in their hands. It was clear they’d all had more than one beer. They were pretty trashed. As I said there were four of them. Three of them about my height and around my weight. The fourth guy a good 4 to 5 inches taller than I was and at least 50 or more pounds heavy.

One of the guys says hey hang on as the train starts heading to the next stop. I thinking one of these guys is not going to hold on and is going to fall right in to me. Sure enough it did and guess which one it was. Yep the big guy. He apologized. Thankfully I sort of had my hands up ready for him so nothing happened to me. His friends thought it was funny. Really funny one of them had a loud laugh which another one of them called the drinking laugh. Once they started they all took turns trying to imitate the laugh. They got really loud. But since there were so many people in the car, it turned out they weren’t all that loud. I will say I was glad there was only two stops until the stop for Nats’s Park.

The second thing happened in the park toward the end of the game. It was of course bobblehead day. Some people left early they were in the row in front of me. By the way I had an isle seat and for a large part of the game I was the only person in the entire. Much later in the game people showed up (it was two dads with their sons) but I don't think they actually had seats in the row.

Anyway a guy the row in front of me all the way at the other side went looking for his bobbleheads. All of a sudden he says someone has taken two of his. Interesting that that just so happens to be the same number left behind by the couple. So lost bobblehead boy asks one of the dads where the two bobbleheads left in the row came from. I guess bobblehead boy thinks these people took them. How that would be possible is beyond me especially since I saw those people bring in the bobbleheads.

This goes back and forth for awhile. Then one of the dads gets up grabs the errant bobbleheads and heads into the concourse. I don't know what he did with them because I was focused on the game. But bobblehead boy had a minor melt down about them. For the rest of the game he kept galncing back to where the dads were sitting and giving venomous looks. Never did find out what the dad did with the bobblehead. He didn't say anything about them when he got back.

But thankfully at the end of the game as everyone was leaving bobblehead boy happened upon two left bobbleheads. Hopefully he left the game happy.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

You Can't Win Them All But I Got My Bobblehead — Baseball at Nats' Park

What a glorious day for baseball. A bright sunny and warm day (I did bring my jacket which I needed where I was sitting got in the shade). But alas the Nationals could not pull off the win.

Starting picture Taylor Jordan did well allowing only one run. But he did not strike out a single batter. The Nats displayed stellar defense. An amazing catch by Adam LaRoche and another by Ian Desmond brought the crowd to their feet.

The story from the Post says that Jordan was not feeling well:

In the Washington Nationals’ 4-2 loss to the Padres at Nationals Park, Jordan allowed one run over four innings as he pitched through a fever and a persistent headache that sapped his strength. Once Manager Matt Williams decided Jordan couldn’t continue through the illness, relievers Ross Detwiler and Aaron Barrett quickly turned a tie game into a defeat.

The root of their latest loss, which finalized their homestand record at 5-6, surfaced early Sunday morning. Jordan arrived at Nationals Park on almost no sleep, running a fever with a splitting headache. He felt chills and hot flashes. Nationals trainers administered an IV.

But once Jordan left the wheels came off. And the wheels were in the relief pitching (not that the offense was doing a bang up job either). Runs were given up by both relievers, Ross Detwiler and Aaron Barrett, that were brought in immediately after Jordan. What was really bad was Barrett walking not one but two batters with the bases loaded. Two very costly runs.

Going into the eighth, the Nationals were behind 4-1. They got a run closer with Nate McLouth's home run. Jayson Werth had a lead off single in the ninth. So I thought maybe this could be like that improbably come back from a few days back. But the Nats were unable to do anything.

The team is not exactly struggling but it is not getting into a good rhythm. It's fits and starts. Unfortunately it reminds me of the way they played last year. As of now they are in third place, 4 games behind Atlanta. Again not a reason to panic but a reason to dig deep and get things going.

 In other news, I got the Jordan Zimmermann bobblehead. And a find bobblehead it is. There are going to be five more this season. I'm hoping I can get them all.

Nat McLouth crossing home plate.

Thinking about the Music on my iPod

I was sitting in DuPont Circle last night waiting to meet up with friends for dinner. I was listening to my iPod and watching people head home from work. I’m not sure how I started thinking about this well I have some idea my thought was about how important music is in life.

How amazing to have my iPod with almost 13,000 songs on it. How wonderful it is to have my music in this little device and being able to listen to it anytime I want to (as long as I remember to keep it charged).

I started thinking it didn’t use to be that way. There was the portable CD player. You could play a CD of music at a time. Your access to music was limited by how many CD you could carry. Then there was the Walkman. More flexibility in that you could make you own tapes of the songs you wanted. Sort of your own personal version of the shuffle button. But you have to make the tapes yourself either from CDs or records. Remember all the different grades of tapes you could buy. I remember the huge space at Tower Records devoted to tapes. I think chrome was the most expensive one. I have to say I’m not sure you could tell all that much difference in the sound quality unless you bought a really really cheap tape.

But then I thought back to before even the Walkman. There was the boom box. Before that the transistor radio. The radio was about it. And with that you had to wait for the station to play the songs you liked. It was also the time of listening to records on your stereo. If you were lucky one you were able to buy and put in your own room.

It got me thinking about the first album I bought for myself. Not a 45 or something you got off a cereal box (remember those!). But a real actual album which probably cost all of $5 bucks. The first album I bought was Close to You by the Carpenters. I’d seen them on TV (I think it might have been the Carol Burnett Show) and really like the song Close to You. I bought the album at Lakehurst Shopping Center. It was the only mall around. There wasn’t a record store in the mall so I bought it at department store. I’m not sure which one. Maybe it was Montgomery Wards. I do very distinctly remember taking the album out of the rack and walking to the cash register to buy it.

I believe somewhere in my house is that album. When I moved into my house I got rid of almost all of my albums. It just didn’t make sense to move them. I saved a few. I have to say I regret throwing out a couple. Because some things you still cannot get from Amazon (either as a digital download or a CD) or from iTunes.

My point to all of this is just how wonderful it is to have this device with the music you love on it that you can hear at anytime. Listening can pick you up if you are having a bad day or make a good day even better.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Nats Fall Short

I was hoping the rainbow was a positive sign for the not but alas it was not to be

But damn it was pretty

I will say it was fun to be part of history last night. But it was history at the expense of the Nationals.

As a story in the Post put it:

The ball scorched off Albert Pujols’s bat, and the Washington Nationals’ varied problems ceded briefly to history. Their slipshod defense, their propensity for early deficits, a suddenly slumping offense and a rotation that may be in flux faded as Pujols’s teammates streamed from the Nationals Park visitors’ dugout and marched to the plate. As Pujols stepped on home plate, he pointed both index fingers to the sky.

After his first home run, number 499, in the first inning(which put the Nats in a 4-0 hole), Pujols came up to bat again in the 5th inning. I thought to myself it would be kind of neat to see him hit number 500. (As I found out later only 26 players have ever reached this achievement.) Once he hit the ball I knew it was something amazing to see. I’m very glad I was there. I’m also very pleased with the way the Nationals’ fan handled the situation. As the Angels bench emptied to congratulate Pujols the crowd at the park rose for a standing ovation. They kept clapping until Pujols came out for a curtain call. That was one very classy thing to do.

That’s about all that was classy about this game. I think it can be best summed up by a couple of examples. The game ends with Bryce Harper striking out. There are not one but two errors. The Nats have more errors than the total number of games they’ve played so far. Also the highest number of errors in all of baseball right now. The bases were loaded no outs. Jayson Werth hits into a double play. One run does score but well they should have gotten more.

That is what the season has been like so far. As a friend at the gym said to me when I told him I was going to the game I wonder which Nationals’ team will show up. Unfortunately it was the error prone, give up too many runs too early, unable to score version of the team.

It is still early in the season. As everyone says there is plenty of time. But plenty of time can run out rather quickly and morph into too little too late. The problems, especially the number of errors, must be solved now.

But again I was glad to be there when history was made.

Albert Pujols heading for home with home run number 500.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Another Nats Game

The Nats are playing the Angels tonight. Hoping a better result than last night. Last night another bases loaded situation but only one run. 

Hoping for a better results tonight. 

The Beauty of Spring

On Sunday I was walking around found these trees at full bloom. They were just beautiful. A reminder that winter is finally over.

Washington at Night

I went to an event at Arena Stage Saturday night and decided that instead of getting on the subway at Waterfront I would get on at Union Station. It was a little bit of a walk but it was a nice night.

Washington at night especially around the Mall is always so spectacular.

Here are a couple of pictures.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Thoughts on the Nationals

They were able to split the four game series with the Cardinals which was a very good thing. But the Nats record against the two teams that are their presumed major obstacles to the post season (the Braves and Cardinals) is a dismal 3-7 this year.

They won’t play the Cardinals again in the regular season. The Braves are another matter entirely. The Nats will play the Braves 13 more times this season. The next time won’t be for a little while, June. June 19 to be exact. It will be at home. It will be a four game series. And the Nats are going to have to take at least three of those games. The reason is that so far against the Braves the Nats are an anemic 1-5. That follows last year’s dismal record of 6-13. If there is going to be any sort of run at winning the division, the Nats are going to have to solve the problem of the Braves. The one good thing is there is two months for the Nats to try and figure out how to do that.

Next thing that needs to get better is the team’s ERA. Through Sunday the Nat’s ERA average is 3.66. That puts them 14th in the league. Essentially right in the middle. The average for the National League is 3.64. So the Nats are just a hair above that. The team at number 1 just so happens to be the Braves (ugh can we ever get away from these guys) at 2.40. There have been way too many games lately where by the third inning three, four, five or sometimes as many as 6 runs have been scored by the other team. Way to get in a big whole in a big hurry really early in the game. This has got to get better.

Hitting is in better shape. The Nats are seventh overall in the league with a .255 average. The main thing is not to get behind early. And please, please, please when you have bases loaded get at least one run in. This happened on Sunday with bases loaded and one out and the result no runs. They had better luck in the bottom of the 9th when Denard Span came up and a sacrifice fly into left field winning the game.

So what to take from just about 20 games into the season. The Nats pitching needs to get better. Hopefully when Doug Fister has recovered from his injury the Nats will have their full rotation in and things will get better. Just a little improvement could make a big difference by not getting behind early. The flip side of that is the Nats need to start scoring runs earlier in the game. How about loading the bases in the third or fourth inning and scoring a couple of runs.

It is early in the season. But last year there was too much of wait they will get on track. Just wait until May or June or July or August. The problem was they ran out of time. At the end of the season they were the hottest team in baseball. But they just started a little too late to make the playoffs.

My suggestion start getting red hot as soon as possible and start the momentum for a 100 win season or as close to it as possible.

Whatever the results, I’ll be out there tomorrow night saying: Let’s go Nats.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

2014 Peeps Contest Winners

Yes, it is that time of year again. It's time for the Washington Post's annual peeps diorama contest.

As always these are such incredible fun to look at.

Here's the link to the Post and you can see all about them.

Here are a couple of screen shots. But to get the full effect you need to go to the Post site.

They are soooo fantastic.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Kalb Report with Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

What a way for the Kalb Report to end its 20th season. Having not one but two justices from the Supreme Court. Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Not going to do a whole narrative on the night but just list some of the points made by the two justices.

Scalia said lots of constitutions have a bill of rights and say they have freedom of the press. But it’s all lip service. What makes the Bill of Rights work in America is the overall structure surrounding it. The Constitution itself.

Here's a little more of what he said:

Scalia: [The Bill of Rights] should not be painted as the foundation of the American democracy… Don’t forget the Bill of Rights was an afterthought. It was not what they debated about in Philadelphia in 1787… What they thought would preserve a free society was the structure of government — that’s what they debated about in 1787. And if you think that’s false, just look around the world. Every tin-horn dictator in the world today has a bill of rights. It isn’t a bill of rights that produces freedom. It is the structure of government that prevents anybody from seizing all the power.

The link above gives you some more direct quotes from the discussion.

Funny banter back and forth between the two about their different views on the constitution. Ginsburg talked about getting a sneak peak at an opinion from Scalia and after reading it how it ruined her whole weekend.
Kalb asked if they ever felt like picking up the phone and calling the White House to get information on something. They both vehmently said no they could not do that. They could not go out and get opinions about a case they had to judge it on the information that’s given to them.

Both talked about how they have to wait for cases to come to them. They can’t go out and get cases or start an investigation. Scalia talked about the Indian Supreme Court. He said if one of their members read something in the Bombay Times (Ginsburg corrected him saying it was Mumbai. Scalia shot back that he was going to call it Bombay that was perfectly good English word to call the city) about the way a police chief treated people the court could go and start an investigation. The Supreme Court in this country cannot do that.

Interesting exchange on the NSA. Here’s some of it from the associated press story:

“I don’t think we have a choice” about dealing with the surveillance issue, Ginsburg said. “We can’t run away” from grappling with whether the government has overstepped its constitutional bounds.

The Supreme Court is the institution that is going to decide these “highly significant questions,” Scalia said. “We know nothing about the degree of risk. The executive knows, Congress knows.”

They hedge a little on the NSA not wanting to give away too much. So Kalb tried to ask the question another way. Scalia said you're going to get the same answer.

Scalia is a very charming, very smart, very funny guy. Some self deprecating  humor. But boy oh boy are his decisions wrong.

But what is clear is the respect that Scalia and Ginsburg have for each other. Ginsburg even calling Scalia by his nick name Nino. And in this time of hyper partisanship, it was nice to see two people with such divergent views on the law get along. As Scalia put it: If you cannot disagree with your colleagues on the law without taking it personally, you ought to get another day job.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Thinking Thoughts of Spring

Even with this minor set back, I will continue to think thoughts of spring. What better way to think those thoughts then to post some cherry blossom pictures.

A kite eating tree

Winter Strikes Back

It was a balmy 70 degrees this morning. Twelve hours later the temperature is moving toward the freezing mark. It has been rainy and windy all day. Sometimes the rain was just pouring down. Now it is actually, and I hate to say this, there is snow coming down.

Will this winter ever end! This had better be the last of this.

This might look like rain but it's snow showers. Ugh!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

More People than Petals?!

That's certainly the way it felt when I ventured down to the Tidal Basin on Saturday. I only got to the very fringe of it but everywhere you looked were people. People walking bikes. People with dogs, People with strollers. People. People. People.

I decided to only go down to where the paddle boats are and then tuned to walk back to the Mall. To give you an idea of just how many people were down there, I had to cross Maine Avenue to head back north. It took three lights for me to get cross the street. Three.

Walking up to the Mall all there was wave after wave of people. This was before noon. I can only imagine what the rest of the day had in store.

Trying to get close to the Tidal Basin

People watching the parade.

Near the cross walk at Maine Avenue

This is the cross walk at Maine Avenue

More of the cross walk