Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Smile

A hot and humid Sunday in DC.

In the next couple of days (most likely sometime on Monday) a front will come through and cool everything off.

Just in time for my string of baseball games. I'm going on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Also this week is the Kalb Report on Monday so it will be a very busy week. And my birthday is on Friday too. Per my tradition I will be going to a baseball game on it.

The Nationals have run into a small loosing streak. They've lost three in a row. Hopefully they will come back home ready to get back to winning. I'm hoping to get above .500 in games I've attended with this string of games.

So here's my Sunday smile from Peanuts of course. It is Charlie Brown's battle with the kite eating tress. A battle he never seems to win.

My Information Was Hacked

In the mail on Friday I received a letter from a company I do business with that informed me that their site had:
experienced a sophisticated cyberattack that potentially allowed attackers to gain access to a limited portion of your personal information. This letter describes what happened, what we are doing about it and what we thing you should do.
Now in this day and age, with cyberattacks happening essentially on a daily basis, this came as no real surprise. In fact, I would say that not having a cyberattack on some site or company you do business with on the internet would be the exception these days. For awhile there was an announcement about every week of such an attack Target, Home Depot even the IRS.

What has me a little puzzled and concerned is just how long it took this company to find out about the attack. In the letter sent to me (more on that later), it states that in April of this year they dis and "extensive scan" and that unauthorized access took place in June of 2014. So it took almost an entire year for them to discover this. Wow. Why so long?

It means for almost 10 months the hackers had this information and could have been doing all kinds of things with it. And no one knew about it.

The letter goes on to state that the reason it took almost a month to inform people was to perform a comprehensive review of the systems and what was affected. I'm sorry no that's not what should have happened.

What should have happened was people were informed immediately of the hack. That additional steps were being taken to determine the exact nature of the breach. As soon as that was determined, people would be informed about the next steps being taken by this company. That way people could have taken steps on their own to start monitoring their own information.

I also take issue that people were informed about the hack. The only way I received this information was in the letter I got. (It was covered in the media but knowing the company was hacked and knowing your specific account were hacked are two entirely different things.) Now the letter didn't look like it was very important. You could have even taken it as a piece of junk mail and tossed it. In the letter they outlined additional steps I needed to take with the account. I went to the site and made those changes. Was there any message to my account detailing what had happened? No. The letter did provide a web address to go to for frequently asked questions.

They are going to provide for free two years of credit protection. How generous of them. The question on that is that a long enough time. Could not this information be kept somewhere and say used in three or four years? Where's are protection then?

Things like this happen. As I said they are to be expected these days. But of great concern is how long it took this company to discover what happened. And then taking nearly another month to let people know what happened. That is not acceptable.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

2Political Podcast Episode 105


2Political Podcast Episode 106 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).

CrazyMapThe episode was recorded a couple weeks ago, but as soon as we were done recording, Arthur hurt his hand, which caused a gout attack. That meant he couldn’t use a computer mouse, and that meant he couldn’t edit this episode. Since then, we’ve recorded another, which is coming soon.

We begin with Jason’s car stories—well, they’re not really about that, are they? Actually, that leads to a wider discussion of when government works.

Jade Helm 15 is up next. Even among conspiracy theories, this one is nuts! “When a sentence begins, ‘even Rick Perry…’”. Eventually, we get on to the Republican Clown Bus.

Everyone’s welcome to leave a comment (agree or disagree!).

Links for this episode:
“Getting rid of crackpotism in the GOP” By Jennifer Rubin May 11
“Ben Carson: I would not go to war with Russia over Ukraine” By Jose A. DelReal May 10
Three more clowns in the car – Arthur’s blog post in which he talks about Ben, among others
Allen West confronted with imaginary ‘Sharia law’
My Trip to Get My Car Inspected – Jason’s blog post after this episode was recorded
Arthur’s blog, podcasts and videos can be accessed here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Midweek Smile

Let's celebrate that fact that we've got through half of the week. Especially a week following a holiday which some how always seems to be longer than a regular week.

I have an idea of why that is. It's because with a Monday holiday you come back from your day off and it's the same number of days until Friday as if you'd worked on Monday. But with a Friday holiday the weekend "starts" early.

What better way to celebrate then a Peanuts cartoon.

Happy midweek.

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Less Than Spectacular Saturday at Nats' Park

The weather was certainly spectacular. Bright, sunny and just a wonderful temperature to enjoy a baseball game. The Nats didn't cooperate with that.

As the saying goes you can't win them all.

But this was not a very good way to loose. A return to the error prone ways of April. Four errors in all. Stephen Strasburg continued to have his problems. He was gone in 3 innings. He allowed six runs for the Phillies.  In the end the Nats lost 8-1.

From the Post:
Strasburg started strong Saturday but faltered again. He allowed the Phillies six runs, five earned, on seven hits and has failed to make it out of the fourth inning in three of his past four starts.

“It’s definitely something that I’ve never experienced before. I think it’s a test,” Strasburg said. “It’s a test for me, and I’m going to look at it that way and I’m not going to quit. I’m going to keep going.”

Two of the blows that doomed Strasburg, a third-inning double by shortstop Cesar Hernandez and a two-run home run by third baseman Maikel Franco a few batters later, came on 0-2 pitches. Four of the seven hits he allowed came with two strikes.
Errors in the 4th inning allowed another run. In fact the errors allowed a Phillies player to advance from first to third.

The Nats were just off. The Phillies picture was Cole Hamels one of the best pictures in the league. So the defense has to be just about perfect to beat this guy. And they weren't

The comparison of the two pictures: Hamels ERA this season is 2.98. Strasburg's is now 6.50.

I'm not sure what is wrong with Strasburg. He's seemed off the other time that I saw him. Hopefully, what ever the problem is, it can be worked on and fixed. He's too important to the team to continue in this sort of a slump.

At least on Sunday the Nats came back and beat the Phillies. Winning their eighth series in a row. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

My Rose Bush in All Its Glory

The big rose bush in my front yard is just about at full bloom power. It only has blossoms once. But they are really impressive. Here are a few pictures of them. It is a bright and sunny day in DC. Just right to get outside and take advantage of all the beautiful things in bloom.

The Racing Presidents

This time it's not just pictures of the Racing Presidents but moving pictures. Moving pictures what a concept!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Wednesday was Jordan Zimmermann's Night

There was that little something in the bottom of the third but otherwise I really do think it was Jordan Zimmermann's night.

I think Zimmermann is my favorite Nats' pitcher. He never seems to get rattled no matter what happens when he is on the mound. His motion seems effortless.

He did give up two runs to the Yankees in the first inning. When the inning was over he seemed to have a big exhale when he walked to the dug out.

After that problem, it was smooth sailing for him. From the Post:
Zimmermann pitches bluntly, attacking so hitters must swing. He battered the first three Yankees hitters with nothing but mid-90s fastballs. Two of them got hits and eventually scored, but Zimmermann continued his barrage. No Yankees scored in the rest of his seven innings. Only one more runner reached second base.
He also ended up being the player of the game. 

Here's Zimmermann in motion.

Nats Wednesday's Win Over the Yankees 3-2

Tom waves hi

It certainly was a good game. It certainly had its share of controversy. In the end the Nats pulled out a win. I'm going to be putting up some pictures from the game in the next couple of posts. Also reaction to the game.

I had a really good seat behind the Nats dugout. I had a good view of the dust up that occurred in the bottom of the 3rd inning. I didn't see manager Matt Williams part until he stepped out of the dugout. I only saw that after I got home and caught it on ESPN.

I think everyone is to blame but more rests on the shoulder of the ump. His strike zone seemed to be all over the place for the entire night. If it was low then it should have been consistently low (the strike on Harper was what started this all and I don't believe the umps explanation that Harper and Williams were tossed for arguing balls and strikes). In other words Alex Rodriguez's called third strike should have been a ball. That's my two cents on what happened. I have a little more in later posts.

Here are some pictures from the game.

The presidents emerge.

Teddy, Tom and Bill

Tom greets some fans.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

What a Game Last Night — Nats Win 3-2

Just a quick post about the game. Wow it was amazing. Two solo shots from Desmond and Moore. Then all sorts of fireworks at home plate in the bottom of the third. Bryce Harper and Manager Matt Williams were ejected from the game.

Here's what Harper had to say about it afterwards:
“I don’t think 40,000 people came to watch him ump tonight,” added Harper, after his fifth career ejection. “Plain and simple. Especially when we’re playing the Yankees. The Yankees are a good team, we’re a good team and we’re rolling. I don’t want to get tossed. There’s no reason for me to get tossed in that situation. I don’t think I did anything bad to get tossed. Maybe he just had a bad morning or he didn’t get his coffee.”

This is one of a few times I've been to a game where a player and a manager were ejected. And this seems rather suspect. I don't think the home plate umpire was calling strikes all that well. I saw the replay when I got home and it sure did look like a ball to me. But the expanded strike zone did, I think at least, helped the Nats win the game.

More on that and pictures to come.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Back to Nats Park

It's been almost a month since I've seen a game. Thank goodness I can get my fix tonight. They play the Yankees. 

They are a much different club than the one I saw a month ago. The team is doing very well. On track to being the team everyone tonight they would be. There are still a few hiccups now and then but the team seems to be able to over come them. And Bryce Harper is on fire. 

Tonight's line up. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Another Wonderful Morning Commute on Metro

Another day another track fire on Metro. Another day another hellish commute. Another day another single tracking situation. Another day another fail from Metro. Once again the complete inability of letting people know what is going on. Once again the complete inability of Metro to direct people on where they should go. Once again contradictory information on what is going on. Once again the inability to provide basic information to allow people to make a decision on what to do to be able to get to work.

Here’s the back ground of what happened this morning:

Trains on the Red Line are sharing a track Tuesday morning because of a reported problem on the tracks near the Friendship Heights stop. Riders should expect delays. Trains are bypassing the Bethesda stop.

The single-tracking of trains is between the Friendship Heights and Medical Center stops.

Fire crews were said to be responding to the Friendship Heights stop for a report of a fire on the tracks. No further details were immediately available. Metro Transit Police said in a Twitter message that units were on the scene and that the fire was between the two stations.

This was originally reported at 6:48 am. This was just a little after I got on a train at Rhode Island Avenue. The starting and stopping began at Farragut North. One of the big problems about finding out what was going on was the way the train operator made his announcements. Just about every time he started talking over the intercom there was some sort of announcement from Metro central control. So you ended up hearing both of these over the intercom and thus not hearing what either was saying. As I said this happened just about very time the operator made an announcement.

At each stop, we held on the platform for awhile. There was an announcement that the Bethesda station was open. We moved a few more stops and were told again the Bethesda station was open. But, and this was a big but, trains going north would not be stopping at the station. It sounded like shuttle buses would be available at Friendship Heights. Again really hard to hear what the guy was saying

Finally got to Friendship Heights. Was told again that the train would not be stopping at Bethesda. That shuttle buses were available at this Friendship Heights and the shuttle would take you to the Bethesda station. So I got off the train.

Here’s where the real fun began finding where to go to catch the shuttle bus. Metro provided absolutely no help with this at all. There was no announcement as to where to get the shuttle bus in the Friendship Heights station. There was no one on the platform telling riders where to go to get the shuttle bus. Seeing that there was no one to ask where to go, I went up the escalator to the level with the fair gates. Again no one actively letting people know where to get the shuttle bus. There was a Metro employee standing by the fare gates. If people came up to him he would answer their questions but only if someone came up to him. Rather than saying loudly people looking for shuttle buses need to go in this direction.

I went through the fare gate and up to the next level. It’s sort of the mezzanine. On this level there are four possible exits. One goes into hotel. One goes to the mall that's there. Then two actually end up going up to the street. Not a single person from Metro there to tell you where to go. Not a single sign telling you where to go. Nothing. There was a homeless person. He knew where people needed to go to catch the shuttle bus. I should have given him a dollar for that.

Up to the street level. No one right at the escalator entrance to tell people where to go to get the bus. They were a little further out. I have no idea why. Seems to me the thing to do would be to place a couple of Metro people right at the top the escalator to let people immediately known where to go to catch the shuttle bus. I said to one of them you might want to put someone the next level down to let people know which exit to use. I could tell by the expression on his face he had absolutely no interest in hearing what I had to say. None. And I’m sure he wasn’t going to tell anyone about it. He did at least point out where to get the shuttle bus.

A short walk to the shuttle bus. I again said to one of the Metro employees that they might think of putting someone down on the mezzanine level to let people know where to get the shuttle bus. Again I doubt anything was done. After all having someone down there showing people where to get the shuttle bus would actually help people. Why would Metro want to do that?

Once again a muffed response. Once again a farce. Once again a fail on the part of Metro. I realize things can happen. A disable train, a sick passenger, smoke or fire in a tunnel. But each time something happens Metro reacts to it as if it’s the first time something like that ever has happened. They are still unable to let riders known in a timely manner what is going. What steps have been taken to get people to their destinations. How hard would it have been to point out to people where the shuttle buses are?

To me the bottom line on this is pretty simple. It’s not that Metro can’t or is unable to let riders know what is going on, Metro simple doesn’t want to let riders know what is going on. They just don’t care period.

Snoopy's Reunion — Part I

Another very funny series from Peanuts. Here Snoopy decides it would be a great idea to have a reunion of the other dogs from the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm. Enjoy

Snoopy's Reunion — Part II

I understand how Snoopy feels. Sometimes you anticipate something so much that the actually event is a let down.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Major Plumbing Problem — Not Mine Thankfully

First off I'm glad this didn't happen with my house.

My brother and sister-in-law had a major plumbing problem at their house. One of the main lines needed to be replaced. This it the line that goes out to the sewer.

What was strange about it was the line didn't go from the house to the street. It went from the back of the house to a major pipe by their back property line.

This of course meant more pipe and more digging and thus more money. What was remarkable about it was they were able to replace the pipe and get things back up and running in one day. Once it was inspected the trench, where the old pipe was dug up, was covered over and all finished up the next day.

Here are a few photos from the dig.

Here's the start of the trench at the back of the house. That's the pipe that goes into the house

The back hoe.

More of the trench that was dug

The piping that was pulled up. It really had seen better days.

A Major Plumbing Problem — Part II

A better idea of just where the back hoe was.

My dad and I went over to see how things were progressing in the early afternoon. The guys were obviously at lunch.

Two of my brother's grape vines had to be dug up in order to fix the pipe. One of them seems to be doing OK. The other one sounds like it might not make it.

The unfortunate grape vines.

More of the vines

I was surprised just how much dirt was dug up.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Cats in the Window

One of the many things Charlie and Linus love to do is sit in by and window and look out to see the world outside.

When birds are present, there is the chatter that comes from their mouths. As if saying if it wasn't for this screen you would be mine pretty birdy.

Charlie gets especially worked up if I'm working out side. He sounds off rather loudly that he should be out there too. Linus just likes to watch.

Charlie scolding me for not letting him come out and play

Even the neighbor's cat caught some window time.