Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lost in the District of Columbia -OR- Happy Hippo Land


The house and yard at 4914 Glenbrook Rd., NW, here in Washington, D.C., in the Spring Valley section of the city, which is basically the wealthiest area along with Georgetown and Foxhall. This was taken last Thursday, 4:53PM, May 21, 2009.

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I'm out of ideas as to what to write about. I should get up and go outside and at least take a walk. It is a sunny, pleasant day with low humidity and temps around 76F, following abundant rains recently, so the world is lush and pretty -- not the usual D.C. gunk shit.

I feel fat as a hippo.

Speaking of hippos -- and if I may indulge what bartender Chris H. once called my "hippo fetish" (though it is more a plush hippo love) -- I found on YouTube a funny clip from Sky News about Jessica the Hippo in South Africa (embedded below).

Jessica is a 7-year old hippo that lives with Tonie and Shirley Joubert -- quite literally in their house. Tonie is a retired game warden and he found Jessica when she was an abandoned or orphaned newborn hippo. Jessica certainly seems quite happy, not to mention incredibly domesticated. It's actually a bit jarring. The bedtime massage and her facial expression say it all.


Here is a screen shot from the YouTube clip that I think is really funny. It shows Tonie feeding and petting Jessica, who for her part apparently has never showed the slightest bit of hippo territorial aggression.

Of course, I wouldn't want to put that to the test. Also, I hope no robber ever breaks in their house -- for the robber's sake. CHOMP.

Anyway, here is the YouTube clip (the sound volume is a bit low on it):



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My apt. is a dusty death trap wherein all I want to do is sleep under the covers, window A/C turned on and box fan whirling away.

I actually did a lot of work for my contractual job this past week, yet I am still unemployed. I am also still supposed to go to Florida to Ft. Lauderdale with Gary and Chris T. next Saturday (a week from today) for 5 days.

This is not the Florida shore but rather a picture I got off the internets of my native (New) Jersey shore at sunrise.

My life in D.C. went so off the rails and I don't know how to fix it.

--Regulus

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Visions of Many Things

The Kalorama building, Columbia Rd., NW, Washington, D.C., 4:21PM, Saturday, May 23, 2009

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I'm tired and not feeling much like updating this blog.

I had a complicated day. I still remain basically unemployed but I finished an assignment for my contracting job even as I finally managed to have that long-delayed meeting with a former head of INPO. For someone such as me, that's kind of a big deal.

The teleconference was actually in a room at the City Club of Washington in the ornate Columbia Square building next to the Warner Theatre. It was there for a complicated reason -- and it did not off that smoothly with a full 20 minutes wasted because of technical problems that had nothing but nothing to do with me. Nevertheless, it made me look really stupid and inept.

Here is a chandelier in the room where we were sitting during the call.

My main "former" boss was there, as was one of the two company heads. That other person really likes me and has been throwing work my way while my main "former" boss -- I refer to her this way since I'm not working there anymore but rather only on a contractual basis -- really doesn't seem to want to have much to do with me. Perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise.

It was weird to go from totally unemployed back to formally attired in a posh setting only for an hour, just to go right back the other way.

Oh, yes, thank you Chris T. for making those copies of the questions for me.

I walked home -- during which I took some pictures with my crummy cellphone camera such as the one directly above by Logan Circle -- and discovered that I had an email from a recruiter working for a major consulting company for which I would really like to work. I answered her questions by email. We'll see what happens next.

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As for this blog, my readership has fallen just to near zero.

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Ha ha. I'd like to get the t-shirt version of this shirt.

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California Supreme Whores Punt, Fail 6-1 on Basic Human Rights Issue

As for the 6-1 California Supreme Court decision upholding Proposition 8 even while upholding the 18,000 marriages that occurred before its passage ...

I realize that some of the legal cognoscenti think the ruling is just fine* since it totally sidesteps the issue -- leaving it to plebiscite while reaffirming the right of Californians to "amend" (rather than to "revise") their state Constitution in a sort of easily abused hyper-democracy.

*This also applies to those fearful libs who are glad this happened -- just like they're glad when Dems lose elections -- because it means things will go all the better next time, or in the defeat, our side won't suffer the wrath of the other mobilized other side.

The Court's reasoning seems quite problematic since this robbing people of a basic civil right -- which is how I view it -- seems quite a revision indeed. Specifically, the basic civil rights of citizens ... humans ... any sentient life form, for that matter ... is decided by frickin' plebiscite with the decision left up to the dumb, duped, and ignorant electorate ...

... in this particular case, poor urban blacks from South central L.A., such as the Watts Ghetto Zion AME Baptist Church of the Tabernacle, and super-rich, super-white, super-wacky Utah Mormons.

That would be the same Church of Latter Day Nonsense that didn't even think African - raced people could be redeemed until 1978.


I was going to make some jokes about golden plates, the "prophet" Moroni, and sacred underpants, but I don't even feel like it now. What's the point. Any anti - Mormon jokes will just encourage their ultra annoying martyrdom complex that is characteristic of ultra religious people everywhere.

For a more reasoned critique, this HuffPo column is good.

More generally, I think California's hyper-democracy has been badly abused by the forces of reactionary intrigue. I wonder how many propositions will be on the ballot next time around in California? 543? 544? The State is incapable of governing itself for a variety of reasons, as Paul Krugman pointed out in his most recent NY Times column.

As for the U.S. Supreme Court and Pres. Obama's pick of Federal Appeals Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor to replace retiring Justice David Souter, well, the Deranged GOP Deathstar and Shrieking Media Whore Machine have both kicked into high gear. Already Rush the Pigboy is bouncing up and down about "failure" and anal something or other.

This could very well be dreadful -- with Obama and the Dems caving and collapsing no matter how much power they actually have.

If this goes badly for Obama, expect that ubiquitous TV bitch Anderson Cooper to blather 24/7 about why Repubs "have found their issue" or something like that.

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Phil's sister's dog, Esau, May 23, 2009; Esau, you baby doll, you're so good -- and there you are with that big winter coat on a very warm, humid May afternoon.

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Rainfall update ...


We had a deluge of rain last night around the D.C. area with 1.5 to 3.5+ inches falling. All three airports had daily rainfall records:

1.65" at DCA
2.29" at BWI
3.59" at IAD

The following month to date and year to date figures were updated through midnight Wednesday (i.e. 1159PM Tuesday, May 26, 2009):

DCA
Month to date: 6.95" +3.73" (normal 3.22")
Year to date: 16.17" +0.74" (normal 15.43")

BWI
Month to date: 7.10" +3.84" (normal 3.26")
Year to date: 17.96" +1.28" (normal 16.68")

IAD

Month to date: 8.35" +4.58" (normal 3.52")
Year to date: 17.86" +1.75" (normal 16.11")

All three regional airports are now in surplus for the year, although they are each below to well below last year at this point (-1.82" at BWI, -3.58" at IAD, and -6.30" at DCA).

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Noteworthy Info on Dulles Precipitation:


Dulles (IAD) received 3.59", the most since a 5.11" deluge on Sept. 6, 2008. It was also the third most stretching back to May 11, 2008, when 3.73" fell.

Prior to that while there were a couple of 2" daily precip. events, to find another calendar day with 3 or more inches of rain, you have to go all the day back to June 25, 2006 when 5.94" fell. Thus, the 3.59" was the 4th most rainfall in a single day in basically the last 3 years.

This is actually more a testament to how "dry" Dulles Airport has been for the past three years compared to normal and compared to DCA and BWI.

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I know I haven't really written about my graduation last Friday. It was OK. Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska was the commencement speaker for the policy school.

Here is a picture of Sen. Hagel and the Policy School's dean of students Bill Powers. This was in the dance hall next to the theatre where the ceremony was held in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at Maryland on the UMCP campus. It was taken at 3:26PM, Friday, May 22, 2009.

Cirrus sky over College Park, 5:07PM, Friday, May 22, 2009

As soon as I get my actual degree -- sometime next month -- I'll update my blog "About Me" bio.

Also, I need to go to College Park to campus before Friday to clean out my gym locker. Now I can just go back on my merry way to being fat. I feel fat.

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That's all for now. My four day vacation to Fort Lauderdale, or rather, Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton, for June 6 - 10 with Gary and Chris T. is still on.

--Regulus

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The American Dream

The pictures in this entry were taken on Thursday, May 21, 2009 with my shitty cellphone camera on a walk with my friend C.T. through some of the wealthiest neighborhoods (e.g. Spring Valley) here in Washington, D.C.

4343 Cathedral Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 5:16PM, May 21, 2009

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GODDAMN IT, I have to update this blog ...

... it was a long and tricky but overall good day (May 22/23) that included my graduation (for my 3rd masters degree) and a big, sprawling happy hour with my friends here in D.C.

It also included my receiving a letter from some law firm concerning an "additional" $2200 in debt I owe.


I am facing the prospect of a second possible legal judgment for the combined $5000 in credit card defaults from 2007 that has now doubled to almost $10,000 from two years ago even as I remain mostly unemployed and UTTERLY broke with only $2300 to my name ... Oh, and then there's the $240,000+ in non-dischargeable student loan debt that will be coming due within 6 months (though the student loan reform bill actually helps a great deal).

I am about to clear out my measly checking account and let both bastards sue me. They'll get SQUAT. I CAN'T WAIT. (No, I don't sit around talking about how much cash I can take out from my non-existent 401-K.)

As it is, even if I had the lawyers fees, I can't do a chapter 7 bankruptcy until next spring (as one needs to wait 8 years).

Fuck every thing. I'm a bad mood right now.

Oh, yes, I may be able to get an actual research analyst job in two months thanks to a friend, although there is a tricky wrinkle. However, I can't and won't write any more about it.

Anyway, I need to write a big, proper entry that has nothing to do with that stuff.

By the way, today was also the 5th anniversary of my Mr. Sirius nightmare. I won't link to my Mr. Sirius blog at this time.

As it is, that blog is pure neurosis and obsession on my part, plus a big helping of redundancy. Boo.

--Regulus

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

An Empty Chili Bowl -OR- The Sound of One Hand Clapping

The turgid Rock Creek Park here in Washington, D.C., flowing in upper Northwest along Beach Drive from a stock internet photo (although it looks like that this week with all the rain we've had).

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OK, I'm finally getting around to my planned Sunday / Monday entry, except it is quarter after one in the morning on Tuesday. And before I post them (in the next entry), I first want to take a detour and embed a video I found online of an old Saturday Night Live "Mr. Bill" skit.

For those of you who don't know, Mr. Bill was a brightly colored Play-Doh doll and the macabre skits featured him; his dog, Spot; and sometimes his companion, Miss Sally.

Mr. Bill was always placed in the most violent and ghastly situations by the serene voiced but truly sadistic "Mr. Hand" (played by an actual human hand), ostensibly at the behest of the evil Mr. Sluggo, another Play-Doh figure.

Invariably, Mr. Bill (who speaks in a sort of high-pitched squeal), after starting out so happy, ends up splattered, mutilated, or otherwise violently maimed (but never quite dying).

Each time something hideous happens to him, and over which he has no control, he screams his signature "OH, NOOOO!"

I think there is some DEEP symbolism in there about "the Hand of Fate" -- or maybe a GOD at once sadistic and indifferent -- and how such an entity screws with (some) humans. It is best not to have such a theology ...

Anyway, I saw the skit "Mr. Bill Builds a House" last night and found it online:


The direct URL is here.

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Speaking of the strange and fickle Hand of Fate, this past Saturday I went -- wholly against my initial will -- to the annual DC101 2009 Chili Cook-Off. My attendance was requested, nay, demanded by my friend Joe S. He also paid for the tickets and much of the beer.

The pictures that follow were mostly taken by me with my crummy cellphone camera but several were taken by Joe. I think it's pretty obvious which ones he took, but I'll still point them out.

The annual DC101 Chili Cook-out is an annual high cultural event -- held again classy style in the trashy parking lot of old RFK Stadium out there in a ghetto-y section of D.C. near the SE/NE boundary.

The crowd there -- as pictured above near one of the beer lines at 4:21PM -- was something else. It was hard to believe those are all my fellow countrymen or that there are THAT MANY white trashy folks within, say, a 75-mile radius of D.C.

Sure, there was a little of this among the guys present:

But mostly they looked like this:

And there were places like this:

The chili sampling section featured a whole range of businesses and charities (such as the National Kidney Foundation) that demanded a $1 donation for a tiny paper cup of chili. About that, there were very few fellow gay guys there, at least ones that I recognized.

Above is a picture of Yours Truly, Regulus, sampling a bit of chili. I look so frickin' old lately and my hair is going gray/white like crazy.

Oh, yes, NASA had a presence, too, or at least NASA Federal Credit Union (I don't think they've been Federally bailed out no-questions-asked yet).

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Here was the "PHC" stand:

I think PHC stood for "pretty hot chili." Don't ask what was under those kilts.

This is one of Joe's pictures with its far better clarity.

It was very hot all afternoon. While the shade air temp probably peaked around 82F (at DCA), there on the parking lot it was easily 95F in the hot sunlight and humid. The bottom line is that it was sweltering and I got a mild sunburn.

The crowd was beer-swilled and sated on chili in the hot sunlight by about four PM.

I think these two people knew I was taking a picture. I don't like when that happens. I try to be discreet with photographs (esp. since I don't want to piss anyone off when taking a picture).

Joe and I left around 5PM as a thunderstorm was approaching and we headed two Metro stops over to Eastern Market where we went to Mr. Henry's.

Here is Mr. Henry's, a mostly gay bar and restaurant located at the corner of 6th St., SE, and Pennsylvania Ave, SE, in the Capitol Hill section of D.C. I rarely make it to Capitol Hill. It's like a whole different city there.

About the weather, we ended up with drenching showers on Saturday night into Sunday morning with approx. 1/2" of rain at DCA and IAD and 1/4" at BWI. This rainfall actually put DCA into the year to date surplus column for the first time this calendar year.

This is noteworthy since Jan, Feb, and March collectively among the driest such 3-month period on record at DCA (I believe it was 4th driest, and the driest at IAD with its record length stretching back only to 1963) and as recently as early April we were 50 percent below normal at DCA.

Anyway, as of midnight May 19, we are at 14.50" at DCA (+0.10") 15.35" at BWI (-0.29"), and 14.02" at IAD (-0.97").

The interior of Mr. Henry's looking at the downstairs bar.

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On Sunday, I went to Phil and Stephanie's house for a small dinner party for one of their friends who is back from Dubai. It's a complicated story that I can't explain right now.

LP and I went to Phil's together but before that, we drove over to Peirce Mill, a historical relic of a 19th Century grist mill that is the last surviving one in the District of Columbia.

Peirce Mill is located at a narrow neck of Rock Creek Park -- which otherwise forms a great green gash and a significant physical barrier between two different parts of upper Northwest Washington -- in between the Mount Pleasant from Cleveland Park.

The place is named for the Peirce family who had a plantation there in the 19th Century. The ADC Metro D.C. Map actually "corrects" the spelling to "Pierce."

Here the Rock Creek -- which gives Rockville, Maryland its name, I believe -- tumbles over a roughly 10 foot high dam that creates a sills. The dam was built circa 1904 and is actually the most recent in a long series of man-made obstacles that were originally constructed to create a spillway to turn the old mill's water wheel.

For some reason, the (rather dirty) water was incredibly frothy at the bottom of the sills. I don't know if its all due to pollution (nitrogen and other fertilizers) or some natural foam, or some combination.

Here the foam gathers in a huge "sudsy" mass a the "entrance way" to what is the ONLY Denil Fishway here in the District of Columbia. Constructed in 2006, it supposedly allows Rock Creek fish -- specifically, alewives and blueback herring -- to swim around the approx. 12 foot high barrier. The WaHoPo had an interesting and informative article about it from March 2007.

Here LP surveys all the invasive plant species that grow in the wilds of Rock Creek Park and pretty much around our whole area (although the kudzu problem is not nearly as bad as it is in the Deep South).

Here LP does what he does best -- tackling invasive plant species.

We then drove to the Van Ness Giant along Connecticut Ave., NW, to buy some food for the dinner party.

I think it was graduation time at the Van Ness campus of UDC or American University.

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I didn't take any pictures of the dinner party but I got a picture of Canes Venatici ...

This is Phil and Stephanie's dog Oliver and Phil's sister's dog, Esau. That would be the shaggy Akita. They are watching him while Phil's sister is out of town.

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OK, I think that's all for now. Just a few more pictures:

The leafy walkway to the house at the corner of Hopkins Ave. and Knox Rd., College Park, Md., May 18, 2009.

I went to College Park earlier today where I got zilch for my returned books at Terp Note / Bookholders.com -- just a scam "promissory" note in case the books are actually sold I could theoretically get up to $70 for the three they took. I actually dropped off seven books, thinking they'd be worth something (based on the Web site and ISBN number I entered), but I failed to take into account "cash now" versus a theoretical value if they are used again (which is what the Web site gives).

Disgusting and depressed, I had lunch in the shadow of the UM Memorial Chapel Steeple on this fine, breezy, cool, lovely spring day.

The world is so vibrant and lush green right now thanks to all the rain. Temps. were only around 62F for a high. The summer heat, humidity, and shit has yet to take firmly hold.

Graduation is Friday and I am going -- but to help out rather than participate in my own ceremony. I'll talk more about that in my next entry along with my job searching and all of that.

Here I am looking old and tired eating my BLT outside earlier this Monday. I made it to the gym, though that is running out.

My next planned entry will probably be around Thursday.

--Regulus

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Interim Sunday Update


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I plan to have a new entry up either later tonight or tomorrow. I just haven't gotten around to writing it yet. Topics of note I will cover (not necessarily in this order):

My continuing and likely long term unemployment-tude and its possible impending implications ... my unlikely visit to the mobbed DC101 Chili Cook-Off in trashy parking lot of RFK Stadium yesterday with friend Joe; it was sweltering and I got some sunburn on my face and arms ...

... last night's drenching rains that brought DCA officially into surplus precipitation category for the first time this year (after a near record dry Jan - Feb - March) ... and any stuff I manage to do today. It's 3PM and I am only beginning to stir for the day (after sleeping for most of the last 11 hours -- boo).

I'm supposed to go to Phil and Stephanie's tonight for a house party tonight.

LP and I may try to go to the Hirshhorn Museum before that if both he and I can get into gear and get there by 5PM. LP correctly notes that I seldom go to museums (and nearly never to the cinema, though most popular big movies are simply sensory - assaulting nightmares and that's been true for some time; I think LP is referring more to alternative kinds of movies with deeper cultural themes).

--Regulus

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Systemic Failure -OR- Lost at Sea

This is my midweek Regulus blog update, except I really don't have anything positive to say.

The University of Maryland, College Park campus grounds looking toward the UM Memorial Chapel (taken with my crummy cell phone camera), 5:03PM, May 12, 2009

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The remainder of the pictures in this entry are a few random ones from my old Arcturus blog that I (should not have) deleted.

I'm having an extra crummy week thanks to the fact that I have been rejected on 9 of the 11 jobs for which I have submitted applications, and it's only a matter of time with the other two.

The rejections include two at Booz Allen and five research positions at ICF International -- probably because of being "over qualified").

There is another sure-to-be rejected job I want to apply for by Friday. GOD, am I sick of writing stupid cover letters and giving writing samples.

I am of the opinion that not only does this say something about failing me ...

... but this also provides for an interesting observ- ation about "the business world" of the United States:

In a place where everyone supposedly has boundless opportunities, where everyone can do anything, yet where every institutional arrangement is so complex, convoluted, and constraining, the result is that most people will never succeed simply because too many others and the System itself are in the way.

The result is that ANYTHING can work against you, both actively (for me it would be so many masters degrees and so little professional achievement at nearly 40) and passively (such as lacking certain desirable traits, or in the case of low to mid level Federal Government work, not being a veteran, a minority, or disabled).

A picture of my mom and me taken in front of Notre Dame Cathedral on a rainy day in Paris, Aug. 18, 1979

And it should be obvious that the only person who excels either has an established network arrangement (which I most certainly do not) or is somehow the perfect candidate who effectively did the exact job being advertised for the previous ten years.

A meteorology grad school former friend of mine was hired on as a GS-15 at NASA as soon as he completed his Ph.D. This is a person whose path was made smooth from the very beginning through a variety of means. Of course, it helped that he had a much more stable personality than I and actually had a Ph.D. and was smart in the field. He no longer talks to me.

Me and the North Cornerstone of the District of Columbia, July 15, 2007

As for my immediate course of action, I'm going to take an incomplete in my PUAF699Z class (which I am assuming the professor will give me) since it does not matter if I finish the class and I've been so depressed and just not at all motivated to finish that course, which I don't even need.

The intermittent consulting job is more of a joke than anything else. I've yet to make that connection through NEI with a former head of INPO for an interview as part of a $300 assignment. And my boss is absolutely no help whatsoever. You either get it done or you don't and she just expects the result, end of story. I still don't regret leaving that place as a full-time worker, although the promised 20 to 25 hours a week of work never materialized.

I know have to make my own way in this world, but I simply don't know how to do it. I've no idea where to begin. It might all be a lie, anyway, or maybe all my assumptions are wrong. I realize I'm not the center of the Universe.

This would be a good time to link to the late David Foster Wallace's stunning 2005 Kenyon College commencement address -- a speech made all the more powerful by the fact he killed himself in Sept. 2008. Not many commencement speeches include a mention of suicide, as his did.

Cobalt bartender Chris emailed me it earlier this week. I was previously unaware of it.

I believe this speech, which has become quite popular on the internet passing from one site to another, is now simply known as "This is Water" because of the allegory he gives at the start of it.

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I guess that's about all now. I have been invited along to celebrate C/T's birthday, which was yesterday (May 12) at Daily Grill on Connecticut Ave. Gerry is supposed to go, too. Today (May 13) is his birthday. Needless to say, I can't afford a Daily Grill dinner but Phil offered to pay for me.

:-%

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Oh, by the way, below is the image that I wanted to post in my April 26, 2009 "Remembering Bea Arthur" blog entry.

It is a very blurry cell phone image of a Jan. 1973 framed edition of old (long defunct) Washington Star newspaper that I took at some point 18 months to 2 years ago. This framed front page hung in the foyer of the old (now gone) Yenching Palace Chinese restaurant here in D.C., not because of the Bea Arthur article but rather because the restaurant itself happened to be mentioned in an unrelated article about a visiting Chinese delegation back then.

If you're interested, please read the relevant portion of that entry as it would take too long to explain now.


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Lastly, just because I always loved this ocean sailing picture ...

It is from a photo I got off the internet a few years ago and that I have posted a few times.

--Regulus