Thursday, December 31, 2009

On Beginnings and Endings: Reflections on a Lost Decade

OK, let's get this final posting of 2009 out of the way. I may update this entry over the weekend with more pictures.

The grounds of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, Bethesda, Md., 12:48PM, Jan. 29, 2009

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I'm still without a computer, and I am a little bit skeptical that my mom will follow through on actually buying me a new PC outright on Saturday. That is a $300 to $400 cost and although I told her I would contribute a third to a half, I also told her that would have to be "later" since I'm, as usual, quite broke.

However, I have been able go to into my old office this week (Tue., Weds., and today) because there has been a free desk / computer that will cease to be available to me after today. I will have to go to UMCP to the computer lab. I still have to finish three items in order to be able to pay my January rent by the 20th of the month ...

This is my life.

Regulus -- my blog namesake star -- and the Leo I Dwarf Galaxy, about 75 and 800,000 light years away, respectively.

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I wanted to post a retrospective on this lousy decade of "the '00's" (the naughts? the aughts? the zeros?) that is now ending -- and spare me any crap about how the decade really ends Dec. 31, 2010 because it didn't get going until Jan. 1, 2001, because I don't give a damn. The symbolism is in the '00's.

However, such a retrospective will be (see below) intensely caustic and bitter both about how my stupid D.C. life is unfolding and the degeneracy and farce that is this late stage American Empire.

For starters, and naturally, the Empire's mediawhore machine is in full-bore tilt, bleating 24/7, ever since the would-be "underwear bomber" tried to do his thing.

That's about right.

As Glenn Greenwald correctly points out, the usual cast of media pundit-whores are desperate for their immediate post-9/11 ("9/12") terror-induced high with calls for the hapless President Obama to "hotfoot it" back from Hawaii in a state of code red double-lock down panic so that he can play daddy for them and make them feel "safe" -- and presumably to change their diapers, metaphorically speaking.


Oh, yes, speaking of Hawaiian vacations, get well soon, Butt Rush. We want you back at the microphone helm of rightwing hate radio, the titular head of the GOP.

I suppose the outcome of this latest TERROR! will be to require people to board jets naked with electrodes hooked up to their privates two hours before flights. Only then will the usual "terror analyst" talking heads that corrupt the airwaves be satisfied -- except they really won't because nothing can ever satisfy them or our System such as it is configured. It is an insatiable beast into whose black hole-like maw everything disappears, never to reemerge in any recognizable form.

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The decade of the '00's was the decade when the corporate oligarchical elites who run America essentially completed their takeover of everything. The 9/11/01 attacks were a catastrophe, but in ways far more insidious than anything our Muslim enemies planned.

I include in this internal corporate coup every multi-tentacled hydra from Big Pharma and Big Insurance to Big Oil to the entire Military-Industrial-Oedipal Complex (not my term) to Big Media/Entertainment to Big Banks and the mega-trillion dollar casino of the Wall Street charlatans.

The only caveat to this, ironically, is that some aspects of them -- in particular the credit card industry, which acts as a kind of Ebola virus in the American body politic, basically killing the host before it can successfully propagate -- are so vicious that it essentially precludes the other monsters from getting all that they want.

It was the decade that the Republican Party turned into a bizarre religio-crazed cult while the Democrat(ic) Party gave up an pretense of being anything other than a corporate appendage of Wall Street. We can thank President Obama -- the "Great Mocha Hope" -- for that one.

Squirrel-ly squirrel, oak tree, 1600 block, New Hampshire Avenue, Washington, D.C., 2:09PM, Dec. 30, 2009

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Lacking a computer as I do -- thanks to that virus and worthless anti-viral software -- I have suddenly all this free time when I'm in my dusty, chaotic apartment, from which I will probably have to move, if not be evicted by early March. I have restarted watching TV, or rather, exploring the full range of channels I have rather than watching the usual ones (e.g. Hallmark, TV Land, WeTV for reruns of The Golden Girls, the smooth jazz and easy listening music channels, and occasionally The History Channel). While I discovered I can actually watch reruns of The Honeymooners and St. Elsewhere, I also "rediscovered" in this particularly bad week just how bad all American news now is -- local or national, makes no difference any more.

AUNT ESTER!

The TV screen is filled with multiple rows of electronic graffiti flying by, screaming out "TERROR! TERROR! TERROR!" along with the local temperature and forecast and the latest Dow Jones gyrations (mostly up in the past 9 months as the Government rigged it so that the House always wins). There is also the usual plastic mini-blond mannequins bleating something in between assorted talking heads calling for the U.S. to drop freedom bombs on the latest evil-doing country.

This was a very funny Sanford & Son episode.

It was a decade in which the American economy proved it cannot work any longer as every indicator turned bad except for the oligarchical elites who run the world for their benefit.

I could go on and on but you get the message.

Booeymonger's, Bethesda, Md., 2:51PM, Dec. 30, 2009

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As for me, it was purely a wasted decade. My life is turning out to be a grand-glorious failure. I earned two of my three masters degrees in the '00's, amassing at least $150,000 in debt in the process that brought my overall student loan debt to $206,000. I declared bankruptcy once on about $20,000 in credit card debt and I desperately need to do it again on another $14,000 but cannot do so until August. I lost three, no, four jobs, although I hated three of them, and now I seem unable to find any work at all -- but that is as much a function of the collapse of America's economic system as it is with my failures.

My income this decade was never higher than $46,000 in one year -- or one-tenth that of some people I know -- and mostly it was under $25,000 per year. Well under. For 2009, it was about $14,000.


Everything in reverse.

The Brittany (I think that's the right spelling) across the street from my building, Washington, D.C., 9:19AM, Tuesday morning, Dec. 29, 2009

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2009 was a bad year for my relationships: I lost Kristof for at least a year and maybe two as he went back to Europe; my blogger friend Bryan died too young; my friendship with Phil ended, though it was a long time coming as he and I grew ridiculously far apart in every way; most of my other blogger friends from my 2006 - 2008 blogging heyday sort of disappeared, most disappointingly, Fifi La Australia.

In the 2000s overall, I managed to keep Mike G as a close friend and I think things are coming back with Chester after a four year hiatus.

My dear friend Amie / Quill is still my dear friend even though I don't tell her that enough.

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So I enter the '10's with few prospects and things looking very bleak. My D.C. life may soon be over. Washington, D.C., is a place I really should never have come. I guess I should have just stayed in New Jersey, but that was not an option for me in the 1990s.

Perhaps the most defining, long-running, and intractable event for me in the '00's was the whole Mr. Sirius situation, which I let become part and parcel of my identity. This was particularly ridiculous given I mean nothing to him and he lives in his own world that is in a different Universe, reality, from mine.

I'm not even sure what I feel for him anymore, except I wonder if any of it was ever real. I guess it was all just an internal illusion.That is, in the end, I was just in love with a beautiful illusion.

It is true that I was really crazy about him when I first saw him way back in 2000 and the period after May 2004 -- I refer specifically to the slapping / scuffle incident on May 22/23, 2004, which I still insist was not ENTIRELY my fault -- through about late 2006 was one of extreme mental anguish over him.

Arcturus, my other blog's namesake star.

There was such an emotional and psychic energy "investment" in him (I hate that word but I'm not sure what else to say since "commitment" doesn't really seem to fit) that I really have been reluctant ever since to just give up on him if only because it leaves me with nothing.

Except it was always nothing from the start, so there was nothing to lose. In the end, though, for all my mistakes, he could have been a little frickin' nicer to me. It wouldn't have killed him to be nicer, except that's not how these things play out.

Again, I was just in love with a beautiful illusion that represented something I felt lacking and in no way could it ever fill such a void.

Dorothy: "Rose, if you're worried about voids, start with the one in your head."

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And on that note, I think I will end this entry. I don't have any set plans for tonight, New Year's Eve, except I think I'm going to be with Gary, Chris T., and Gerry and be in or around the Dupont gayborhood. I'm supposed to go over Joe's tomorrow evening for dinner. I'm glad this New Year's Eve is falling on a Thursday rather than a Sunday.

New Years Eve 2010 at the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia. Why do the Aussies always do this so well? It is always a stunning pyrotechnical display from this bridge. More importantly, why doesn't D.C. do anything for NYE? The NYE display 2000 one was the most pathetic ever. Ever.

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My next planned update may not be until the middle of next week (around Jan. 5th).

Oh, yes, I have changed the settings so that folks with Google accounts can post comments. I think that opens it back up to at least two of my regular readers but I'm not sure. I am a bit reluctant to go back to any registered user at this point -- and I will not go back to anonymous comments as that was part of the problem of what lead to the virus attack that destroyed my computer.

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And so the Earth spins restlessly and relentlessly on its axis and the artificial human designation of a calendar year -- based on an arbitrary beginning and ending points of the planet's effectively never-ending nearly circular journey around the Sun -- ends and another begins and I don't know how human affairs, in particular my own, will play out in the next cycle.

Beginnings and endings. Endings and beginnings.

I've no idea.

I'm still as lost as I ever was, but I think so are many people. Ideologies, ideas, systems, gods and GOD Himself ... everything has failed us. We have failed ourselves but I'm not sure how we could have ever succeeded because existence is nonsensical.

As I write this, I am thinking of Robbie Williams' wonderful song Millennium with its poignant and evocative lyrics.

But we keep going on until our each of our allotted times on this planet is over because that is the only free will we have. And, I guess, we still need each other and all the other lifeforms with which we share this planet because in the end that's what we humans require to survive.

The corner of Pearl Street and East-West Highway, Bethesda, Md., 12:47PM, Dec. 29, 2009

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Just some thoughts to keep in mind while looking out across the miles on a bright, cold winter's day at the start of 2010. Forward the millennium.

--Regulus

Monday, December 28, 2009

Cat's Eye -OR- Season of My Discontent Continues

Sun and shadow interplay on a mailbox and holly bush on a back street (Columbia Road) near the College Park Metro station, College Park, Md., 3:38PM, Dec. 27, 2009

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Just a quick update ...

Yesterday, I was able to get into the policy school computer lab and retrieve from my flash drive nearly all of my work files. There was a virus even on the flash drive but I was able to get rid of it.

Last night, I went to Quill's parents' house in their Silver Spring suburban sanctuary to have dinner, but, alas, Quill was not there -- boo -- and it was not the same.

As for today, I'm at Gary's place today working on one of my biweekly climate change news compendiums that I need to have done by tomorrow. As for tomorrow (Tuesday), I am actually going into the office in Bethesda by 1030AM. My sleep schedule is so out of whack that it will be difficult getting up "that" early but I will go to bed "early" by 130AM -- rather than 7AM. I need to have four assignments in all finished by early next week, and then I will have enough money to pay my January rent between the 15th and 20th. There is then another larger project that should wrap up in mid to late January that should cover most of my February rent.

So all in all, the trapeze act continues ...

Thereafter, if I do not find other employment, I will have to move into a cheaper place.

The Angolan embassy, 2100 block of 16th Street, NW, Washington, D.C., near where I live, 2:06PM, Dec. 28, 2009; I was waiting at the bus stop for a bus to Gary's place farther up 16th Street.

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I'm still hoping to have a new lap top this coming Saturday, but that is partly contingent on my mom actually paying for it since I simply do not have the money.

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Nearly all the 16 to 22+ inches of snow that fell area wide on Dec. 19th is gone. The heavy rain a few days ago basically melted / washed it all away in a way that a million snowplows could not. Such is nature.

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Oh, yes, I HIGHLY recommend this brilliant Paul Krugman op-ed piece "The Big Zero" about our concluding dreadful, awful decade of "the '00's" -- and, no, we don't give a damn about the '01 technicality. The decade can't end fast enough.

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**Oh, yes, I had to change the commenting permissions on this blog to make it more restrictive.**

The virus attack that destroyed my computer involved at least indirectly images for this Regulus blog, specifically, ones I found online rather than my cellphone and/or digital camera ones. Though it may not be directly related, I was getting far too many anonymous "bot" comments that were seeking to embed links to commercial sites, including explicit ones that are surely infected six ways to Sunday.**

The Cat's Eye Nebula (NGC 6543) located approx. 3,000 light years away with its complex patterns of ejected gas from a central dying star as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. This is obviously a false color image.

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That's all for now. I have the TV on in the background, an HGTV show. I simply can't watch the news anymore. I used to be such an avid watcher.

I will try to have an update before New Year's Eve if possible. It looks like I will be with Chris T. and Gary. At least two of us have expressly not been invited to a certain party I hear is happening at a certain person's urban mansion. That friendship is fairly well over.

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KRISTOF! Hello! How are you?? Email me if you can't post a comment.

--Regulus

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Christmas Carol or Mr. Smith Still in Washington

Rainy Christmas night, 2009, New Hampshire Avenue, NW, looking toward Dupont Circle, 6:14PM, December 25, 2009

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OK, my computer is dead. It was hit by a virus most pernicious and vicious. I then compounded the problem last night. The computer is dead.

That's the bad news because my computer is my livelihood.

The good news is my mom has agreed to help me buy a new one next Saturday (a week from tomorrow) and my dad is contributing. This is a lifesaver because I simply do not have enough to spend $400 to $600 on a new computer.

I am going to get a much better anti-viral software. Trend Micro was not at all good for me.

Mr. Smith's in Georgetown in Washington, D.C., on an uncharacteristically slow Friday night -- slow because it was Christmas night, 8:45PM, Dec. 25, 2009

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Currently, I am at Gary's place posting this entry. I'm here with Gary and ChrisT. Earlier, we were at Mr. Smith's in Georgetown, where I had not been in at least four years. Prior to that, I was home all day in my computer-less apartment. I was so stressed out and sick. I have had a bit of a respiratory infection lately. I was supposed to go to Glen Burnie with Gary and ChrisT. to see my mom but was too ill to do that. I felt better by the time I got up and ready as night fell.

It is a mild, rainy night with intermittent heavy downpours of rain with temps in the 40s Fahrenheit. The snow from last week is melting like crazy in the mild rain, but it was officially a white Christmas in Washington with at least an inch of snow on the ground at DCA.

It is supposed to get very cold again next week with the possibility of wintry weather by week's end, although I want next Saturday to be good weather so I can meet my mom in College Park and get a new computer.

Another Mr. Smith's interior shot, Georgetown, Washington, D.C.,. 9:18PM, Dec. 25, 2009

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As for next week, I need to find a computer where I can do my work for my contracting job. I don't know if I can go to UMCP to campus because I'm not sure if I still have access to the public policy building (Van Munching Hall) and computer lab.

As for this blog, I will not be updating it until later next week -- possibly not for a week or so. There is nothing I can do about it.

You'll live.

Oh, yes, in case I don't update this before 2010: A BIG, HEARTY, FUCK YOU to 2009 and the '00's decade as it ends.

--Regulus

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009: A Crippling and Possibly Irreparable Computer Virus

My computer has been crippled by a pernicious virus -- Merry Frickin' Christmas -- probably one of those from Russia, With Love, fuck you -- and I don't know that I am going to be able to fix this problem.


I REALLY need my friend Gerry's help but he is away in West Virginia for Xmas.

I KNEW this was coming ... it was just a matter of time. And I don't think the Trend Micro technicians are going to be able to help me, or at least they want $87 to do so. I would pay it except the computer keeps crashing while in any kind of safe mode so that I cannot remove these files. Nor can I even open my anti-virus software (Trend Micro and Malware Bytes). This is a particularly vicious virus.

Tonight is Christmas Eve. Wonderful. I'm supposed to meet up with Gary, Chris T. and LP. We're going to Parkway Deli in Silver Spring and then heading back into D.C. The idea is to go to Cobalt or Windows for some drinks and then to midnight mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral. I'd love to be able to go to JRs, but that's the Mr. Sirius No Go Zone for now and evermore.

Tomorrow, I am supposed to go to with Gary and Chris T. to Glen Burnie to see my mom. We are meeting at the Honey Bee restaurant, a Glen Burnie institution, to the extent that Glen Burnie can have a cultural "institution."

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My computer is so royally screwed up and there is nothing I can do about it. If I need a new one outright, I am in real trouble because I simply do not have the extra $400 to $700 it costs to get one.

That should please the robot if he finds out about it since this "proves" something about Universe. Eh eh eh.

Yes, I can log on and do stuff -- including posting this blog entry -- but the computer is going haywire with all kinds of bullshit pop ups and alerts that are the virus itself. Doing this to someone should really be a form of felony assault and battery, if not intellectual terrorism.

Oh, yes, I have temporarily removed my previous entry. I think posting that caused some bad mojo in the Universe. I think rooting around looking for pictures of it may have caused this virus attack because I went to some infected site.

Anyway, I'm not sure when my next entry will be.

That's all for now. Merry Christmas.

Ho ho ho.

--Regulus

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Little Drummer Boy -OR- Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum ...

MODIS image from NASA's Aqua satellite taken Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009 showing the Middle Atlantic States after the Saturday snowstorm blanketed the region.

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I plan to have a new entry posted tomorrow (Wednesday) on the Eve of Christmas Eve with a bunch of new images, including pictures I took. And I'll be wishing everyone at that point a Happy Merry Christmahannukwanzaa Winter Solstice and Bank Holiday.

Ha ha

I took a test today for a 2010 Census temporary job and I did reasonably well (26/28 questions correct) but I won't know if I get any position for at least a month.

I have had two odd Xmas presents this week: two of the three collection agencies / law firms with which I settled (of potentially five) until I can do my next chapter 7 bankruptcy (starting in Aug. 2010) are no longer handling my accounts. This includes the $85/mo one I was no longer able to do and the $45/mo one that was the first of the two I arranged at small claims court (the other being the $25/mo one).

Late night "gayborhood" Washington, D.C.: A bunch of drunken gay guys at the intersection of 17th and R Streets, NW, helping to push/redirect a car that was going the wrong way (17th Street has southbound traffic only and this car was heading northbound), 2:02AM, Dec. 21, 2009

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The $85/mo arrangement is one I unilaterally I agreed to last April. I retrospect, I should not have done so but for some reason the law firm -- Margolis, Pritzker, et al. -- decided to sell the debt and now another Maryland law firm will handle it for Collect America, but I gain at least two free months (even though more fees will be piled onto it, negating all the $550 or so in payments I made).

That was always the highest one, nearly $4700 last April -- almost at the $5,000 cut off between small claims court and civil court.

It's now about $4200** but with new attorneys fees could push it over $5,000). As for the $45/mo one, apparently Mann Bracken declared bankruptcy and isn't handling Arrow Financial Services' accounts any more.

** The amount I have paid monthly since April and the current balance don't add up, of course, but the numbers never do when you are part of the American poor.

Yet rather than upsetting the people who are taken advantage of by this system, they are sometimes the loudest to defend their "right" to be socked with 79.9 percent usurious APR credit cards because it embodies "freedom" and "What America is all about." Actually, I agree with the latter.

Merry IsWhatItIsmas.

Looking toward 16th Street and the upthrust of Meridian Hill Park from the 1600 block of Belmont Avenue (which over in Adams Morgan / Kalorama becomes Belmont Rd -- two syllable "B" name), 1:52PM, Dec. 22, 2009. The snow is now starting to melt quickly but we should still have at least one inch on the ground at DCA on Friday so that it may be considered a "White Christmas."

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Bottom line, though, all this confusion basically means instead of $155/mo in payments, I only have to make $25/mo for the next two to three months -- which gets me closer to the magic Aug. 1, 2010 filing date.

Happy New Year.

As for the remaining ones, there will out there, eventually will result in another visit to small claims court.

This is a particularly large and prominently located oak tree (center directly behind the concrete post) that grows on the grounds of the Meridian Hill Center (where nighttime strange party events and semi-public art exhibits are always occurring) between Belmont St., Crescent Place, and 17th and 16th Streets, NW, Washington, D.C. It is on private property and walled off, so you can't get near the tree ordinarily. However, it is prominently visible from 17th Street south of Florida Avenue and from 18th Street owing to the high spot (atop the fall line escarpment) where it grows.

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That's all for now. This entry ended up a lot longer than I planned, as they usually do. I will have at least one and probably two more entries posted by Christmas.

--Regulus

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Blizzard of December '09 (Part II) -OR- Temporarily Snow-bound, Permanently Debt-bound

The pictures in this entry are from my cellphone and digital cameras.

The scene during yesterday's snowstorm looking west on Vernon Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 4:25PM, Dec. 19, 2009

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The blizzard of December 2009 is now over and it officially enters the record books as tied for the sixth largest snowstorm in the historical period for Washington, D.C., with 16.4 inches at Reagan National Airport (DCA). This is exactly the same amount that fell in the Feb. 2003 snowstorm at DCA.

BWI Airport (BWI) had 21.0 inches of snow, which also ranks it 6th in the top 10 storms for Baltimore, Md. This is about what my mom reported in Millersville and what my other friends Kevin and Eric reported in the Montgomery County suburbs of suburban Maryland.

Dulles (IAD) had 18.0 inches of snow, which ranks it 4th. The IAD record only goes back to 1963 versus 1871 for both Washington and Baltimore, although for snow record-keeping, it is 1888 and 1883, respectively.


D.C. (DCA) and Baltimore (BWI) weather records include the pre-airport periods when the official observation stations were taken elsewhere. DCA has been the official D.C. spot since 1941 and BWI has been the official Baltimore spot since circa 1950.

The intersection of 16th and U Streets, NW, Washington, D.C., 4:12PM, Dec. 19,2009 during the snowstorm. Riding a bicycle in heavy snow is a strange experience -- I've done it.

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The two biggest D.C. storms -- the 1922 Knickerbocker Storm when 28" fell (and so named for the fact the heavy, wet snow collapsed the roof of the crowded Knickerbocker Theatre, killing 98 and injuring 133) and the 1899 when 20" fell will probably never be broken, or at least not in my lifetime.

The 1700 block of U Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 4:16PM, Dec. 19, 2009. This pic was taken a bit before the top one while I was walking to Chris T's place.

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The link to the top 10 snowstorms for the LWX area is here -- but please note that the "average annual amounts" given are incorrect. The correct average snowfall based on the 1971 - 2000 period for DCA is 15.2", for BWI is 18.2" and for IAD is 21.2."

When the next update comes out in 2011 with the new average period being 1981 - 2010, these figures are likely to fall noticeably again (as they did when they were last updated over the 1961 - 1990 period) even with a snowy 2009-2010 winter.

Here Flippo peers out of the kitchen window at the snowstorm swirling around outside, Washington, D.C., 3:09PM, Dec. 19, 2009. What a good little hippo. He and the other plush babies were all snuggly warm.

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Speaking of the airports, they are all now reopened but the travel backlog is huge and my friends LP and Joe remain stuck out west, LP in Las Vegas -- although he rented a car and drove to St. George, Utah to a resort there -- and Joe in San Francisco.

19th Street near Belmont Road in the Kalorama section of Washington, D.C., as I was walking over to Chris T's apt., 4:36PM, Dec. 19, 2009

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While I enjoyed the snow -- as much as I enjoy anything these days of my deep life discontent -- there are a few problems, two related to the weather and one far bigger and unrelated but to which the snowstorm speaks as a metaphor.

First, I do not have any galoshes / boots / Wellies but instead just ordinary footwear that gets snowy and then soaked walking outside in what is already at major intersections a deep, sloppy mess of wet snow and water.

Secondly, I am guessing that the 17th Street Safeway where I shop will soon run out of everything and the big truck won't be making any deliveries until at least Tuesday.

Thirdly, I remain severely depressed and all around in bad life shape mentally, financially, career-wise, etc., and I don't think I will even be in D.C. 6 to 12 months hence, and this snowstorm -- however lovely to look at -- basically is a kind of metaphor for how trapped I am.

Snow-covered stoops and steps along the north side of the 1700 block of U Street, NW, Washington, D.C.., 4:17PM, Dec. 19, 2009

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I have a lot of contracting work to do but in the end, I'm still flat broke. I only just paid my December rent two days ago. I'm also drowning in debt and probably going to have multiple judgments against me within a few months -- well before I can file bankruptcy starting in Aug. 2010. I already have had two such cases, both of which I settled before trial / judgment for a combined $70 per month.

A few months earlier, there was a third that involved a company / law firm with which I settled before it even went to D.C. small claims court for $85/mo. However, I cannot keep up those payments, so I'm not sure how that will work out when it gets to small claims court. I should have let it go to court since you can get a better deal in small claims court. At least that has been my experience twice so far.

People sledding down the steep embankment of Kalorama Park in yesterday's snowstorm, 4:36PM, Washington, D.C., Dec. 19, 2009

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I'm pretty sure I can get it reduced, and if there is a garnishment, I'll simply stop my contracting work since I'm not going to work to earn $1,000 that $130 of which is stolen by some horseshit law firm. I'll go down to Florida for a while with my dad. The laws are far more favorable there anyway. Then there are two more that could go to an initial hearing for a total of 6 in all totaling $14,000. This is what I will be discharging in my 2010 bankruptcy.

The temporarily snow-buried, always-confusing maze-like intersection of Ashmead Place, Belmont Road and 20th Street, NW, in the Kalorama section of Washington, D.C., 10:20PM, Dec. 19, 2009.

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As for today, I guess I will walk over to Buffalo Billiards to meet Gary, who has stayed at my place the past two nights, and we may take a walk down to the National Mall.

Anyway, the Dow will reopen tomorrow and pussy and compromised Dems will go back to caving in on everything while giving corporate interests billions in taxpayer money and Obama will give another really great, empty speech, while the GOP cult gets even wackier and the eagle will soar and Colombia will remain gem of the ocean blue and everything will be just glorious in these blessed United States of America.

Digging out ... the scene from my 5th floor apt kitchen window looking down onto the 2000 block of New Hampshire Avenue, NW, as folks dug out their cars, 2:37PM, Dec. 20, 2009

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Well, this entry ended up having more pictures than I planned.

My next planned update will be in a few days. Christmas is rapidly approaching. I think I've come down with a mild flu.

--Regulus

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Blizzard of December '09 (Part I)

View from my apt. window looking southwest at the intersection of 16th Street, U Street, and New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., on a snow-stormy morning, Dec. 19, 2009.

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We are under a blizzard warning in the Washington / Baltimore area ... That's not a sentence I will probably get to write again for many years, if ever.

Advisories in place for the Sterling (LWX) County Warning Area (CFA) and some of the surrounding CFAs as of 9:12AM EST, Dec. 19, 2009

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This snowstorm ranks up there with the biggies in my life both here in the Washington / Baltimore area and earlier in New Jersey. I'm talking about 1996, 1983, and 1978.

DCA is certainly going to break its Dec. snowstorm record of 12.0" set in 1932 (a pre-DCA Washington, D.C. record). Likewise BWI at 14.1" in 1960 and 12.1" in 1969.

As for the all-time biggest snowstorms, this one will rank up there, too, but I'll post the top 10 list once this storm winds down.

The low is bombing out in classical nor'eatser fashion with the center near Kitty Hawk, N.C. -- right in the North Carolina OBX "slot" where you want it to be. It will move up the Delmarva and Jersey coastline by later this afternoon.

The view from my apartment looking north toward Meridian Hill Park, Washington, D.C., on during a historic snowstorm, Dec. 19, 2009

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That's all for now. I have Gary over. I sort of need to go back to sleep for a bit. Despite the excitement over the storm, I do not feel well.

--Regulus

Friday, December 18, 2009

Great Snowy Expectations: Awaiting the D.C. Blizzard of Dec. 2009 ...

The forecast panels and text for Washington, D.C., valid Dec. 18 - Dec. 25, 2009. I have not seen this before -- a total for downtown Washington of 14 to 22 inches of snow.

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OK, just a weather update even though it is the 6PM hour on a Friday night and I need to meet Gary and Chris T. later. This entry includes a number of weather-related images relevant to the developing situation.

Histogram of cumulative precipitation at DCA from 12Z GFS 18 Dec. 2009 model run. Again, using a 10-to-1 snow-to-liquid ratio, this 1.305" as all snow corresponds to 13.1" of snow. My friend Chester said a higher ratio should be used, perhaps 12 to 1. Also, the GFS is forecasting a wet -- rather than a white -- Xmas Day.

The same DCA cumulative histogram based on the NAM model's 12Z 18 Dec 2009 run. This model's time domain is much shorter than the GFS model (84 hours instead of 180 hours). It shows 2.504 inches of precipitation -- or 25" of snow at DCA proper, which would make this basically tied for the greatest D.C. snowstorm of all time.

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We are still on track for a snowstorm potentially of historic proportions, by which I mean 15 to 20+ inches even in D.C. proper. This situation is quite similar to the Jan. 1996 blizzard -- although in that one, some sleet mixed in along the Potomac River that really cut down on the accumulations at DCA.

I've never seen such a huge area under winter storm warnings -- virtually all of Maryland except the extreme southeastern Delmarva, where it is a winter storm watch, all of Delaware, all of New Jersey, and an unusually large swath of Virginia. As for New York, Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island are under a blizzard warning.

The Sterling (LWX) CFA (county warning area) and parts of the surrounding CFA's (i.e. Philadelphia / Mount Holly, Wakefield, Blacksburg, and State College), as of 6:22PM EST, Dec. 18, 2009

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Here is the Philadelphia / Mount Holly (PHI) and New York (OKX) CFA's. This shows the blizzard warnings up for Long Island.

Here is the NCEP / HPC 24-hour forecast map valid for 12Z (7AM EST), Saturday, Dec. 19, 2009. This basically shows a classic nor'easter snowstorm.

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My friend Joe is stuck in San Francisco where he was attending a NASA meeting this week. He was supposed to fly back into Dulles early tomorrow morning. He is disappointed he will be missing a D.C. snowstorm -- although living in Boston for many years, he has certainly seen his share of blockbuster snowfalls. Just not in D.C.

By contrast, my D.C. area native friend LP who has been in Las Vegas this past week and was supposed to return early Sunday, does not mind that he is missing it. As it is, his scheduled return is doubtful and but that is doubtful. However, he has decided to extend his vacation -- having rented a car and driving to Utah.

The above plot is an interesting one: the RTMA 22 UTC (5PM EST) 18 Dec. 2009 analysis of 10 meter level winds as measured by an array of ground stations and offshore buoys in the coastal Southeastern U.S. The yellows, browns, oranges, and sienna hues show winds in excess of 36, 40, 44, and 48 knots, respectively.

The center of the surface circulation is about 50 miles west of Savannah, Georgia. The surface (and 850mb) winds show the all important low-level jet inflow into the storm. This is occurring along the South Carolina coast, rather than off the North Carolina coast or Virginia capes. This bodes "well" for the nor'easter to effect the D.C. area.

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I'll post in a subsequent entry info about the top ten biggest Baltimore/Washington snowstorms. Here is a link to them.

--Regulus

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Senate Health Care Travesty and a Possible Weekend Snowstorm

Updated 2PM 12/17/2009 (see below) ...

I think I finally figured out how to work my digital camera that was given to me as a birthday present.

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My D.C. life is slowly falling apart and I don't know what I'm going to do.

I still haven't been paid for that fucking contracting work but I think I should be by early next week. Not getting paid means I haven't paid my rent or any of my other bills. That should make some robots happy (to the extent they can feel emotions at all) since it confirms the "moral order" of their binary robot Universe.

It is, of course, a disaster for me.


However, that is not the topic of this entry. Instead, this is a political-themed one, even though I did NOT want to post such an entry. I've been infuriated all night at the Senate health care catastrophe in the making.

I'm completely on the side of Howard Dean and those who say this health care "reform" bill that would force millions of working poor Americans into buying a shit product under penalty of law (fines or maybe jail time?) with no cost containment, no competition, but instead billions and billions of dollars in taxpayer money to a criminal racket of the Big Insurance criminals.

As for the U.S. Senate, it is a -- as Michael Lind said -- mostly a "dully complacent millionaires club". Far worse, though, it is also is a house of whores and thieves for every degenerate corporate interest that runs this Empire and the world.

Meanwhile, most of the anger in this country is deflected through "organic" and carefully cultivated religio-insanity by the forces of reactionary corporate intrigue into the kind of teabagging, quasi-libertarian nonsense that enables Big Business to impose a happy-faced fascist dictatorship unimpeded.

Is every empire like this?

I am embedding Keith Olbermann's "special comment" from Countdown earlier tonight (Dec. 16, 2009) that I found on YouTube. It is in two parts. I realize the copyright police at YouTube could disable the embedding at any second.





The following excerpt from Glenn Greenwald's Dec. 16th Salon column on the current perverted version of health care "reform" being developed by Democratic Senators with the full culpability of President Obama, (source here):

"In essence, this reinforces all of the worst dynamics of Washington. The insurance industry gets the biggest bonanza imaginable in the form of tens of millions of coerced new customers without any competition or other price controls. Progressive opinion-makers, as always, signaled that they can and should be ignored (don't worry about us -- we're announcing in advance that we'll support whatever you feed us no matter how little it contains of what we want and will never exercise raw political power to get what we want; make sure those other people are happy but ignore us). Most of this was negotiated and effectuated in complete secrecy, in the sleazy sewers populated by lobbyists, industry insiders, and their wholly-owned pawns in the Congress. And highly unpopular, industry-serving legislation is passed off as 'centrist,' the noblest Beltway value."

That about sums it up. As for the GOP, they're just in some bizarro parallel Universe of religio-insanity.

America has turned into a sort of concentration camp for everyone not in the corporate Overclass. In the end, we might have been better off with an economic depression because it would have enabled desperately needed reforms.

What happened instead just postpones it by 5 to 10 years, and that crash will be all the worse.

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This isn't fully representative of America in her Star-Spangled glory because if it were, there would be guns out the wazoo all over the place.

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Speaking of Europeans ...

... not to mention another political disaster in the making, namely, the gigantic United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen -- "COP15" -- that has fallen into internal bitter acrimony even while degenerating outside the Bella Center into sprawling, overcrowded sideshow with suitable street theatre.

Here is a link to a nice philosophical entry on the Climate Progress blog by Thomas Hilde who is in Copenhagen for the event. Dr. Hilde was my international environmental agreements class professor in public policy school about two years ago.

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Turning from long-term global climate to the more immediate weather ...

Weekend Snowstorm?

The most recent main weather models, including the GFS and NAM weather models, show a significant snow event here for Saturday. In the case of the GFS, it's a full scale snowstorm. I'm sure it will be a complete bust, as usual.


Here is the 0Z 17 Dec 2009 GFS run translated into a cumulative precipitation histogram chart for Washington, D.C. (DCA). The model indicates all snow -- no rain or mixed precipitation -- and using a basic 10-to-1 ratio of snow-to-liquid, the 1.129 translates into 11.3 inches of snow. For Dover, Delaware, it is even higher -- nearly 18 inches.

I'll believe that when I actually see it.

UPDATED 2PM 12/17/2009 ...

Here we go ...

Winter storm watches are already up for the area.

Here is the 12Z NAM run showing the same cumulative precipitation histogram chart for KDCA that I made into a JPEG image. This would equal 22.9 inches of snow under the same 10-to-1 ratio. That is NOT going to happen. We do not live in that kind of climate realty here. However, it is rare to see these plots with such high snow numbers.

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This was a picture taken last week (Friday, Dec. 11th, I believe) by Gary from the 6th floor of the Howard Johnson Plaza Resort in Deerfield Beach, Florida on a stormy day. Chris T. stayed in this hotel while Gary used the Boca Raton "hotel" to stay overnight. This is the same hotel Chris stayed the last time we were all there. I could not go on this last trip.

That's about all for now. It's nearly 4AM and I'm up -- as I usually am these days -- watching late night television. This includes The Golden Girls and Cheers on Hallmark and then The Cosby Show and Three's Company (and if I'm up all night, MASH) on TV Land. However, tonight I'm not actually researching / writing any reports.

My next planned update will be over the weekend.

--Regulus