Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Old Complaints on the Eve of a New Year, 2009

2008 Ends. Finally. Thankfully. Mercifully.

A picture I got off the internet of sunset last New Years Eve, Dec. 31, 2007, from Key West, Fla.

Actually, 2008 wasn't nearly as bad a year for me as 2004 or 2007. That means I'm doomed in 2009, the year I turn 40. Boo. And related to the top picture -- why it just might be appropriate for me -- if everything goes really badly, I could end up in Key West by next New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, 2009, as I've before related.

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As it is, 2008 is ending with a bit of a dramatic weather flare this morning here in the Washington, D.C. and suburban Maryland as a powerful cold front blasts across the area.

Turbulent skies over Bethesda, Md., this VERY windy, blustery, bracing day, Dec. 31, 2008, as seen from the building where I work along East-West Highway.

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More about the weather shortly, but first, concerning the arrival of 2009 ...

The above picture and the two that follow were from the as-always stunning fireworks display off the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia for New Year's Eve 2009. I got these pictures from a series of images from the online Sydney Morning Herald, link here.

This is very near where my dear blogger friend Fifi lives. It's next year where she is now!

How come Sydney and other places in the world always put on such great shows while D.C. manages to do nothing of the sort??

I won't even mention the travesty that was the New Year's Eve 2000 "millennial" celebration in D.C., when -- speaking of small pee-pee's -- the fireworks launched from the then-scaffolding encased Washington Monument went "pop ... pop ... pop ... "

And that's what rang in the 3rd Millennium in the Capital of the Empire.

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As for 2008, I'm not going to do any general retrospective. We all know what happened.

But it is worth stating that the GOP era in many ways ended with the final Bush economic and financial catastrophe that marked an appropriate and predictable coda on Dear Leader's Reign of T/Error.

Now I've no doubt that the Repug minority will continue to make mischief and block needed progressive reforms in 2009 and beyond under Pres. Obama. Think Mitch McConnell and James Inhofe in the Senate and that loathsome crook Boehner in the House as they try to stop any macro-economic Keynesian stimulus ...

... including needed infrastructure repair and improvement, not to mention major changes in our energy and transportation sectors to make them far more "green" and less dirty fossil fuel dependent.


About that GOP power, is it me or do the Repugs have an endless and infinite capacity, no matter how small their numbers, to block EVERYTHING while Dems NEVER have a corresponding power to slap them down and push through desperately needed changes?

When/where can we draw up the papers to let the South, Texas, and the near-empty Great Plains states FINALLY leave the Union?? It can be an amicable split.

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I'm not sure if the U.S. stock market will rally a few percentage points today, thus trimming slightly the year's huge losses -- and allowing parts of the American religio - booboisie and mainstream whoremedia to "credit Bush" with this "powerful gain" so that they can both affirm, "Bush really wasn't so bad after all ..."

Still, it was a staggering year of losses as bubble after bubble imploded and corporate Ponzi scheme after corporate Ponzi scheme collapsed.

(Updated after 12/31 close): The S&P 500 ends down 39.5 percent or the biggest percent fall since 1937 and the Dow Industrials down 33.8 percent, the steepest decline since 1931.

Something called the World Federation of Exchanges of 55 stock exchanges* around the world estimates a loss of $30 trillion through late November, representing a loss of 50 percent from the $61 trillion value in Dec. 2007. The source for this is here -- see second to last bullet point in letter on p.7.

*That's how many are listed in this report (p. 2). NASDAQ and Chicago Board Options Exchange are included but not the NYSE directly, only NYSE Euronext, although NYSE Euronext apparently includes NYSE. I'm not really sure.

Here is a news article about it. This article lists 53 developed and emerging economies rather than by number of stock exchanges. In the US, the loss in market value is put at $7 trillion.

As it is, world capital markets were far, far too inflated with all these worthless financial instruments that were, again, little more than exotic Ponzi schemes -- and the billionaire bandits who ran them all did just fine, thank you, and are still living in the style to which they are fully accustomed.

These schemes were ALL designed to move still MORE money to the top and help the corporate thugs who run the world, which, by the way, is where Bush and his gang enter the picture.

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Anyway, back to today's weather in Washington, D.C., suburban Maryland, and Northern Virginia ...

As I said above, a powerful cold front has blasted across the region with winds in excess of 50MPH, short-lived, fast moving rain and snow squalls, and turbulent skies with rapidly moving clouds, not to mention sharply colder temps. that ended the recent warm spell.

Above: another blurry image from my cellphone camera trying to capture an image of an approaching snow squall that more ore less marked the actual cold frontal passage. This is the view from my 11th floor office looking to the southwest toward the western edge of D.C. and (on the horizon) Arlington.

The power flashed a few times earlier in the gusty winds.

Here is the surface weather map for the mid-Atlantic and South Atlantic regions of the eastern U.S. for 12Z (7AM EST) today, Dec. 31, 2008.

There is a low over north central Pennsylvania and a complex frontal system that includes an occlusion and a triple point near Winchester, Va., as well as another low over southern New Jersey with the main cold front extending across the Blue Ridge toward the southwest into western North Carolina.

Below was the NE CONUS composite radar image at 1528UTC (1028AM EST) 31 Dec. 2008 when the 5-minute snow squall was blowing across the area. It looked impressive from 11 stories up but my cellphone camera couldn't get a good picture.

Here you can see the snow squalls across Pennsylvania and New York State wrapping around the low. One small band probably associated with the front itself was moving through parts of the District of Columbia and the northern D.C. suburbs itself, as noted by the arrow on the map.

The forecast calls for a cold and blustery night with lows between 20F and 25F for area New Year's Eve revelers. Beyond that, the cold air will again be "wasted" with no snow forthcoming -- and it warming up, as ever, in time for the next system so that it will be mostly, if not entirely, rain here.

As shown above in a screen capture image of the Sterling (Baltimore / Washington) National Weather Service Office's Web site graphical display of the morning advisories in its county warning area (CFA), you can see there is an actual storm warning on the upper Chesapeake Bay.

A storm warning is a notch above gale warnings when winds of 55 to 73MPH are expected and not associated with a tropical cyclone.

I don't recall seeing storm warnings on the upper bay except in tropical storm situations, and in that case the NWS posts a more broadly defined tropical storm warning on the upper bay a hurricane warning on the lower bay.

Wait, she's not the weather lady, is she??

The CFA display map above also shows there is a high wind warning in effect for the Baltimore area (that's winds of 40+MPH for an hour or more or winds of 58+ MPH for any duration). The immediate D.C. area is under a wind advisory.

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As for the Chesapeake Bay itself, there is rarely any "weather" on it. Usually, the Chesapeake Bay just sits there and quietly fester in its own pollution thanks to all the crap that pours into it unchecked.

I'm actually surprised the bay -- with its lack of ANY wave action, its turgid waters overloaded with runoff and agricultural nutrients, its mucky bottom, its long and slow ecological decline with diseased rockfish and crashing blue crab populations -- doesn't just die outright, or maybe even catch on fire around the Baltimore area.

The 25 years of blather about saving the bay stretching back (as I personally recall) to 1984 has all been pure bullshit. Nothing has changed, and in even gotten worse.

I'm from the Jersey Atlantic seashore, and to me the heavily polluted, vapid, ecologically slowly collapsing Chesapeake Bay is a sad excuse for a body of water, even if it did ultimately form for a spectacular reason long ago, and as a drowned river valley of the Susquehanna River is today the largest estuary in the United States.

If the Delmarva did not exist, Maryland would have a proper seashore and D.C. would be nearer to the ocean.

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Returning to New Year's Eve, I really don't have any set plans. I thought that Chris T. and David were having people over tonight to their place and then I'd go with Gary to Cobalt, but it's uncertain.

Speaking of Cobalt, this past Sunday there was the usual scaraoke karaoke -- which is moving to Wednesday -- and someone sang the song "Fever"made famous by Peggy Lee in 1958. The main refrain is, "You give me fever ... fever all through the night..."

Unfortunately, Gary and I were joking around and now I have this parody version, "You give me dengue fever ... dengue fever all through the night..."

Maybe that will be my parody version for you know who.

Speaking of dengue fever, while I'm pretty sure I don't have it, I must say that I have NOT been feeling well lately. I've been extremely fatigued and worn out with a headache. I hope nothing is amiss with my health. I will soon -- in proud American style -- be losing my health insurance because my regular job ends on Friday.

However, this is something that I wanted ahead of next semester, and if it goes as I hope (and so far, it seems to be on track), I will be working part time on a project basis as a contractor with far more flexibility. I can work from home or campus and not sit for 40 to 45 hours a week under these headache inducing fluorescent lights in my cubicle "station" area.

Oh, yes, I'm posting this entry from work, but my boss is out again today and I'm mostly caught up with stuff with one exception. In case you're wondering, computer activity is simply not monitored at this office, which is unusual in the paranoid, money-obsessed, surveillance-crazed work world of America these days.

Well, time for lunch. The firm bought lunch today. It's Chinese -- but it's light, none of that drowning heavy sauce that lingers around for days.

Anyway, Happy New Year 2009 to my, like, three readers!

Bonne et heureuse année 2009!


--Regulus

Monday, December 29, 2008

More Doggone Christmas and Post-Christmas Photos

This entry contains the other pictures from the past several days I intended to post...

Light and telephone utility pole silhouetted, sort of, on a cirrus-fleeced blue sky at the corner of Hopkins Ave. and Knox Rd. in College Park, Md., Dec. 27, 2008.

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Two days earlier ...

Here is another picture of Bernice at Quill's parents' house in Silver Spring, Md., Christmas Day, 2008. As I wrote in my entry earlier this week, Bernice is now over 13 years old and her health is beginning to decline.

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Here is another picture of Nicholas ("Nicky"), Quill's brother and sister-in-law's dog. Nicky is a Greyhound who was essentially abused by having to be involved in that frickin' Florida dog-racing industry before being "retired" and fortunately rescued. Apparently, Florida law allows this breed of dog to be treated as "livestock."

I wonder if Florida's closeted homosexual Republican governor (Charlie Crist, that is), who is now ensconced in his sham hetero marriage, will take a stand against dog racing.

I rather doubt it.

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Speaking of Florida (where I'm going next week to visit my dad for a week) and dogs, I'm going to take a doggy detour here ... I'm home right now watching an episode of "Dogs 101" on Animal Planet.

The pictures accompanying this section are ones I got off the internet, except the one of me, of course, with my dad and our dog from nearly 32 years ago in another place and time and life.

The pooches featured: French bulldog, poodle, Airedale terrier, Chihuahua, and Labrador retriever.

Of these, I think I love Labs for quintessential "dogness" and sheer dog love-ability and French bulldogs for doggy cuteness. The Labrador was bred from the bigger, shaggier Newfoundland.

Above is a picture of a black Lab puppy I found on the internet. Awwww ...

Chihuahuas have an uncertain lineage that may date back to the pre-Columbian era in the Americas, and some speculate the breed may not be entirely linked to the wolf but a type of fox. However, that's speculative.

Interestingly, the American Kennel Club insists that a "true" Chihuahua weigh 6 pounds or less. Also, apparently you shouldn't leave your small Chihuahua in a yard lest a particular large raptor decide the dog is lunch.

The poodle is clearly the most varied and one of the older breeds in existence. It is also ranked second in intelligence among breeds (however that is determined). A poodle can apparently convert in its mind a big printed out word ("SIT") into a command, but its a visual, not a "comprehension" thing as we know it.

FYI: border collies come in first on intelligence. The list (from a seemingly reputable site) is here.

My dad once had an Airedale "Ginger" but not for long. The Bull Mastiff he had "Borky" was my baby when I was a little boy in New Jersey.

Here is a picture of my dad, our dog "Borky" (I didn't name her), and myself as the young age of about 7 years old in my paternal grandparents' house in Long Branch, N.J., sometime in 1977. My goodness, could she drool and slobber when you ate in front of her.

He also had a St. Bernard "Wencel" who turned vicious -- tried to bite him, at least that's the story I was always told -- and he had him put down. That was when I was but a baby. He was still with my mom at the time and they lived in Middle Brook Apartments in Ocean, New Jersey. My mother remembers Wencel in the apt. and never felt completely comfortable around him. Ever-so-briefly it was my mom, dad, me as a baby and a very big St. Bernard.

My mom was always a cat person. Indeed, she is getting a new cat, "Sophie", this week. Her beloved "Sammie" died earlier this month.

Years later on his peripatetic wanderings from New Jersey across various Southern mostly beach towns from the NC OBX to the Myrtle Beach, S.C., to the Florida "Space Coast", my dad would segue from a dog person to a complete cat person. I wrote about when his last cat, Pyewackett, a.k.a. "My Guy Pye", died in June.

By the way, for your enjoyment, here is a map* showing the general locations and sequential ordering of his moves starting in N.J. in Jan. 1993 and ending in Flagler Beach at the start of 2009.

In reality, there were multiple moves around the Orlando and Ocala areas in the mid-1990s and at least three in his current Flagler Beach, Fla., abode, so that the total number is, as near as I can figure, actually closer to 19.

*Oh, yes, in making it, I inadvertently put #10 (his N. Myrtle Beach residence) over Charleston at first, and to correct this, I had to cut a small piece out from another JPEG image of a Google map screen capture and I didn't get the fit just right, ergo the coast of southern South Carolina is slightly askew.

Key West, Fla., may be next in 2009. Also, his New Jersey location was actually a bit farther north, but it would've covered the "r" in New Jersey.

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Returning to those random pictures from Christmas Day (Thursday) and this weekend (Saturday) I promised to post ...

As Gary and I were driving to the Honey Bee Diner to meet my mom ...

Driving past what I call "High Low Glen Burnie": the Friendly's establishment that has been their in its greasy nastiness since, well, forever -- certainly since I arrived there in 1982 at the age of 12 -- along B&A Blvd., Dec. 25, 2008.

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The "center point" of Glen Burnie, Md., address grid where Baltimore & Annapolis (B&A) Blvd. meets Central Ave. going west and the oddly named 40 Post Rd. going east. This was Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2008.

Old Glen Burnie is actually divided like the District of Columbia into four quad - rants: NW, NE, SE, and SW.

However, this is just "old" Glen Burnie where the unelected Glen Burnie Improvement Association (GBIA) -- whose annual carnivals I used to participate in in the main kitchen area each summer with some high school classmates -- holds sway.

Furthermore, along Ritchie Highway and some other roads, the street addresses are actually numbered out of Baltimore.

Glen Burnie itself is just an unincorporated area in Anne Arundel County, formed mostly by the combo of the 21061 and 21060 postal "ZIP" codes. Only Annapolis (the state capital) and Highland Beach are incorporated towns in "Ana Runnel Kenny."

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Back at the Honey Bee Diner with Gary and my mom, Christmas Day, 2008, Glen Burnie, Md.

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After lunch, Gary and I started on our circuitous drive back to the D.C. area to Silver Spring ...

Behold the house at 268 Oakwood Village Court in Glen Burnie, Md., where between the ages of 16 and 23 I lived with my mom and Ray (step-dad) from April 1986 through June 1993, not continuously as I was also away at college part of the time.

The worst part of my Glen Burnie teenage years occurred in this house. Some very bad things happened in that house but no sense going into that now.

I used to have the upstairs room toward the right rear (hidden by the tree). The view looks over Rt. 100 toward the south and southwest. At night with an overcast at suitable altitude (8,000 to 15,000 feet), you could see the glow of the 25-mile distant Washington, D.C. area on the clouds.

Of course, D.C. is where I would end up -- with some of my own unhappy incidents under that very same night time city glow, such as the Mr. Sirius one.


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Gary and I stopped at the Giant in Glen Burnie, Md., before heading to Silver Spring, Md., so we wouldn't show up empty handed at the Christmas dinner. That's Gary in the floral department.

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A house in the 9100 block of Sligo Creek Parkway, Silver Spring, Md., Dec. 25, 2008

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Dusk on Christmas Day, 2008, as seen from Quill's parents' backyard, Silver Spring, Maryland

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Here Bernice eats her Christmas dinner, Silver Spring, Md., Dec. 25, 2008

Yes, I put the Coke can there.

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On Saturday (see previous entry), I went up to College Park, Md., and was able to get $78 for a $130 text book I had to purchase (but basically never used) in my state and local government budgeting class. The University Bookstore wasn't buying it back, but BookHolders was.

Here is Yours Truly, Regulus, at the College Park - U of Md Metro station on my way back into D.C.

The University campus is nearly totally deserted from about Dec. 23rd through about Jan. 4th each year.

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Dusk falling over Washington, D.C. in the 1700 block of 13th St., NW, Dec. 27, 2008. I got off at the U St - Cardozo Metro and took a rather roundabout way back home via Logan Circle and the 17th St. Safeway.

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A streetlight silhouetted at sunset, corner of 13th and R St., NW, Washington, D.C., Dec. 27, 2008.

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An ornate late 19th Century building (I'm guessing it's from that period), 1500 block of 13th St., NW, Washington, D.C., Dec. 27, 2008. This is right next to Logan Circle.

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Logan Circle in Washington, D.C., with the silhouetted figure of Sen. and Civil War era (Union) Gen. John A. Logan astride his horse.

As an aside, Boston's Logan International Airport is named for Major Gen. Edward L. Logan, who was in the Spanish American War and World War I and who headed the old 26th Infantry Division.

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Last image ...

Looking south down 13th St., NW, from Logan Circle, Washington, D.C., at dusk, Dec. 27, 2008. Thereafter, I headed back to Dupont Circle (after taking the picture at Thomas Circle that was my top image in the previous entry).

That's all for now. I will end this entry. I'll try to have one more entry before New Years Eve.

--Regulus

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Way I Look and Feel Tonight ...

Luther Place Memorial Church on Vermont Ave., NW, at Thomas Circle, here in Washington, D.C., at dusk earlier this evening.

I took a circuitous walk home from a Metro station after going up to College Park, where I was able to get $78 for my text book from the BookHolders place.

The weather was mild and mostly sunny today, highs around 57F, with NO SIGN whatsoever of any winter weather coming any time in the next two weeks.

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Earlier today, I heard a rendition of the smooth ballad "The Way You Look Tonight" by Canadian Big Band-style crooner Michael Steven Bublé (boo-BLAY, it is pronounced, I believe).

It was played on one of those music channels I get that are now in the 800s (channel 879 "Smooth Jazz"). I don't actually get anywhere near that many channels -- more like 120 channels. It was just part of RCN's clusterfuck rearrangement of ALL the channels on its cable because of something having to with the switch to digital TV on Feb. 17, 2009.

Here is a YouTube version of it with photo stills of Mr. Bublé, who is six years younger than I am (just to point out the total failure that is my life):


But that it would be too creepy, I would dedicate it to Mr. Sirius, who is totally, totally gone from me but who I am unwilling to get over due to some deep psychological problem I apparently have. Instead, I dedicate it nobody.


As for the song, Frank Sinatra sang it, as did Tony Bennett, Andy Williams, and Rod Stewart, among others.

It was originally sung by Fred Astaire in the 1936 movie Swing Time. He sang it in his character as John "Lucky" Garnett while playing the piano while Ginger Rogers, playing Penelope "Penny" Carrol was washing her hair. The song was written by Jerome Kern with lyrics by Dorothy Fields.

Anyway, I'm going to dinner with Chris T. in a bit. Actually, he's taking me to dinner. Then we are supposed to meet up with Gary.

Tying this back into Mr. Sirius, I wish they wouldn't go to his bar well on their Friday evening jaunts there, but whatever. That's my problem, not theirs.

--Regulus

Friday, December 26, 2008

Two Nice, Familial, Suburban Maryland Christmases, 2008 (Part I)


A lone Father Christmas figure this bright, sunny Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2008, at the corner of New York Ave., NE, and Penn St., NE, in a ghetto-slummy, boom-boxed section of Washington, D.C., as Gary and I headed out of the city into Maryland to go to Glen Burnie, Md., to meet my mom.

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Gee, I had a nice Christmas 2008, even if there was no snow and no "weather" in general of which to speak here D.C., and environs. It was 45F to 50F and sunny today.

And also it was nice even if
Mr. Sirius no longer knows, nor cares where my blog is and hasn't read it in, like, forever, not that he ever, ever, ever, ever cared.
Apparently, he is EITHER going to join the SWAT team OR go back to skool. One or the other. Whatever. Either way, it must be gr8-2b-him.

Additionally, virtually no one else will read this entry, judging by my StatCounter that is nowadays constantly at ZERO alllll the time. Fine.

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It's now 1:04AM Dec. 26, 2008, "Boxing Day" in other parts of the world ... and I'm watching a Golden Girls rerun. I had a really, nice Christmas Eve and a really nice Christmas Day.

Left: The Xmas Tree at Quill's parents' house in Silver Spring, Md., Xmas Night, 2008.

My Xmas Eve included going with Gary and LP to the Parkway Deli in Silver Spring, and later to Cobalt. Thereafter, we went to the last half of Christmas Eve midnight mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral.


Here is a (blurry) cellphone camera image from the interior of St. Matthew's Cathedral here in D.C., during midnight mass last night, Christmas Eve, 2008.

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As for today, I went with Gary to Glen Burnie, Md., to meet my mom for lunch at the Honey Bee Diner, and then later on we drove back to the D.C. area to go to Quill's parents' house in Silver Spring, Md., for Xmas dinner.

Here is a picture of two transmission towers along I-97 near Annapolis, Md., Dec. 25, 2008 as Gary and I drove to Glen Burnie, Md.

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Here is a picture of the Honey Bee Diner interior in Glen Burnie, Md., (with just a sliver of me visible), Dec. 25, 2008.

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Here is my mom at the Honey Bee diner, Glen Burnie, Md., at the end of a nice lunch, Dec. 25, 2008.

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Gary leaving the Honey Bee Diner, Glen Burnie, Md., Dec. 25, 2008

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Gary and I drove on a circuitous route through Annie Runnel Kenny (that's Anne Arundel County in Baltimore-speak) into Prince George's County, Md., back to the DC area and over to Quill's parents' house in Silver Spring, Md., for Xmas dinner.

Once there, I got to see my doggy, Bernice, and Quill's brother's dog, Nicholas.

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BERNICE!

On a serious note, though, Bernice is getting old and her health is beginning to decline.

I asked Quill's parents to please let me know if possible if anything happens to Bernice or sudden decisions have to be made. I want to be able to say goodbye to her if and when that situation arises.


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Yours Truly, Regulus, and Nicholas, a Greyhound formerly involved in / rescued from the ugliness of dog racing in Florida. Nicky is a very good dog. He belongs to Quill's brother and sister-in-law and lives in Fairfax Co., Va. This was at Quill's parents' place in Silver Spring, Md., Dec. 25, 2008.

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Later tonight, Gary and I went to Omega, where I had one of my higher scoring games on the sped-up version of Ms. Pac-Man. I scored 155,210 on the first game.

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Behold: The Apotheosis of 5,000 Centuries of Human Existence ...

... the Glen Burnie, Md., Moose Lodge, Dec. 25, 2008.

Bingo night was always a lot of laughs there, as I recall from when I mom would go there. Bingo.

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I technically have to work tomorrow (Friday AND the day after Christmas) at my soon-to-end job (Jan. 2nd), but my boss isn't in.

Anyway, I need to go to bed. I will have a bigger entry Xmas holiday-themed entry posted in the next day or two, perhaps repeating some of the above pictures.

--Regulus