Monday, June 29, 2009

Weekend Doings, Late June 2009


A tree growing along the Mount Vernon hiker-biker trail between the Potomac River and the George Washington Parkway, about 1.5 miles south of National Airport, 3:46PM EDT, June 28, 2009

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I'm home after a good weekend spent in social activities with my friends (described below) and even meeting a blogger friend of mine, except now I am feeling absolutely terrible with a prolonged Sunday night panic attack. I feel as though I am having an actual nervous breakdown. I need help. I'm also in a pretty deep depression.

Not only am I running out of money but more than that, I am having a mental breakdown. Even a good weekend with friends did not help and I am in a terrible Sunday night panic attack.

Black-eyed Susan flowers growing in a cluster on the UMCP campus, June 26, 2009

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I'm watching TV right now, flipping between a series of funny Married, With Children episodes on TV Land and the Discovery Channel, which is airing a nature documentary called Prehistoric New York that recreates with lots of computer graphics different geological epochs starting 12,000 years ago ...

... when Arctodus simus, the giant short-faced bear -- reconstructed here and shown to size comparison with a 5'11" adult human male -- and Castoroides ohioensis, the giant beaver, dominated the boreal forests of the mid-Atlantic region late ice age period.

It runs back to one billion years ago (long before any land life) when 30,000 foot mountains are believed to have existed as a result of the formation (called the Grenville orogeny) of the world's first super-continent, Rodinia ...

... pictured here as it may have looked. Bits of these mountains -- what may have been the world's tallest ever -- survive in what is known as the Hudson Highlands, although what is broadly referred to as the Appalachians formed later (220 to 480 million years ago) in multiple orogenies (no, not orgasms).

The program seeks to show the various extinct animals and eco-systems that existed where New York City is today going back as far as can be reconstructed.

Returning to Married With Children ...

It's the episode where Al and Steve are fearing hair loss and are using, among other products, Doctor Fur, a bogus hair tonic.

Steve: "Bad news, Al. Doctor Fur has been recalled. They determined it to be 100 percent dog food."

Screen shot of Married, With Children episode "The Bald and the Beautiful".

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Anyway, I had a nice weekend that included a big happy hour at Buffalo Billiards at Dupont Circle Friday night (and a t-storm rolled across D.C. that included some some pea to marble sized hail -- which, was also recorded at DCA officially, the third time hail has been recorded this month there).

On Saturday night there was a big dinner party at Phil and Stephanie's place in Adams Morgan.

Here are some pictures from the outdoor dinner party. There was a group of about 13 people there, including Phil, Stephanie, Gerry, LP, John D., Lacey, Aimee, Amie (that would be Quill), Gary, and David, who did the cooking. David's culinary abilities are second to nobody I know. I love when he cooks.

Gerry and LP are pictured here.

Today (Sunday) included a nice lunch with my one-time blogger friend, Hotlipz (not her real name, of course) in Old Town Alexandria. She contacted me on Saturday by text message as she was visiting friends in Fairfax. She lives near Richmond. We met at the Union Street Public House near the Potomac waterfront.

This is Hotlipz's blog avatar. She was doing a Greta Garbo imitation, I think.

I met Hotlipz originally on Mr. Sirius's old blog but then she became a regular reader of my original Arcturus blog (which no longer exists). She used to blog regularly but stopped a few years ago. Anyway, it was very nice meeting her and I really enjoyed it.

It also made me regret that I never met my late blogger buddy Bryan Haberstick. I hope some day to meet my blogger friend Rita in Oregon. I doubt I'll ever meet my Australian blogger buddy, Fifi.

Hotlipz knew all about the Mr. Sirius situation and which I write about on my blog about/to him.

As luck would have it, after lunch and while walking with her by the river, I met up with Chris T., who was biking the Mt. Vernon trail. After Hotlipz left, Chris and I walked up the trail -- or rather, he rode his bike in circles as I walked. We stopped at the Daingerfield Island marina just south of National Airport. I actually caught the Metro from National Airport. Tonight I met up with Gary and Chris T. again.

Me on a bed at Phil and Stephanie's house in Adams Morgan, around 1130PM, June 27, 2009. I drank too much, of course. Actually, everyone drank a lot (except Quill, who does not liquor at all).

Here Oliver sleeps next to Phil on the living room floor, 3:35AM EDT, June 28, 2009

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Changing topics ...

The now-concluded June 28, 2009 was the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City that started the modern gay liberation movement on June 28, 1969, although as I found out recently, the Compton Cafeteria riot in Aug. 1966 in San Francisco's Tenderloin District actually predated it by nearly 3 years -- and that involved transsexuals. The Wikipedia write up on the Stonewall riots is comprehensive.

This is a picture of the Stonewall Inn as it appeared in Sept. 1969 (just two months before I was born).

I still like the idea that gay icon Judy Garland's several death days earlier (June 22, 1969) contributed to the riot when the police raided the place one too many times (as was the custom back then), but it's probably just an gay urban myth.

I think that's all for now. I'm not going to be able to finish a 15 to 20 page report for that crummy contracting job I have, at least not by tomorrow. I am going to ask for a two day extension through Thur. morning.

A friendly cat on the sidewalk of Columbia Ave., College Park, Md., June 26, 2009

Oh, yes, I should mention that my laptop keyboard is falling apart -- the letter "T" and the numbers 4, 5, and 0 have come off, as did the F9 key, although I can still use the keyboard fully. I need a new one.

My next planned update will be around Wednesday or Thursday.

--Regulus

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Sanford and Sin", Another WaHoPo Failure, and the Passing of Farrah Fawcett -- (UPDATED) and Michael Jackson

**UPDATED: Pop singer superstar Michael Jackson has died (see below).**

OK, this "Sanford and Sin" graphic that appeared on Rachel Maddow's show last night concerning the Gov. Mark Sanford story was hysterical.

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Just a quick entry ...

This has been pointed out by Josh Marshall on Talking Points Memo but the degree to which the mainstream whore-media bought the flimsy "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" excuses and lies from the office of loopy, love-struck, holier-than-though philandering Southern GOP politician South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford while he was missing for five days on his secret trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina this past weekend is truly incredible.

Actually, in this post-Bush Age, it really isn't all that surprising.

The Gold -- no, the PLATINUM -- Medal goes to WaHoPo Style section writer Wil Haygood, whose article entitled "For the Gov, a Little 'Me Time'" that appeared in yesterday's print edition should go into the Media Whore Hall of Shame.

He even compared Sanford to Henry David Thoreau and his 19th Century wilderness jaunts. And all based on the shifting, flimsy lies from the "Gov's" press office. I had to do better than that when I was in journalism grad school.

Phew.

Naturally, the good Mr. Haygood, so ingrained in The WaHoPo's culture of sucking up to GOP power, will probably not even be phased by how stupid and compromised he looks. Idiot.

Naturally, as well, the Graham Family will view him as an invaluable asset. Once again, PLEASE Journalistic God(s), let The WaHoPo go bankrupt.

As for the bad Harlequin Romance novel-like emails that Gov. Sanford sent to his Argentine (Argentinian?) paramour Maria, it's remarkable he can't even spell "lightning":

"Three and finally, while all the things above are all too true — at the same time we are in a hopelessly — or as you put it impossible — or how about combine and simply say hopelessly impossible situation of love. How in the world this lightening strike snuck up on us I am still not quite sure."

I think I wrote this to Kristof -- or was it to Mr. Sirius once?? -- when I was drunk. (I think Mr. Sirius spells lightening like that, too.)

The emails -- which The (South Carolina) State had possession of since December 2008 but didn't verify and only published yesterday -- are available here.

Oh, yes, I'm not sure he'll actually resign -- huge hypocrite though that makes him in so many ways, plus the fact he is obviously a deeply troubled person a bit off his rocker. As it is, I'm sure the Protestant fundies who make up so much of the electorate in South Carolina will forgive him.

Lastly, as a gay man, I want to apologize that my existence and quest for basic civil rights, including marriage equality, caused the break-up of the good governor's marriage.

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On another topic, I note with sadness the passing away of television star and actress Farrah Fawcett at age 62 after a battle with cancer. The iconic 1970s-era blond sex symbol Ms. Fawcett is best remembered for her looks, The Poster (see below), and her role on the campy but enduring show Charlie's Angels.

This New York Times appraisal is a nice summary of Ms. Fawcett's efforts over the years.

Excerpt:

"Though, of course, it was her early work that kept her famous. Nobody in recent memory comes close to the giddy heights Farrah Fawcett reached in the mid-’70s with one season on 'Charlie’s Angels' and That Poster. The pinup of Ms. Fawcett in a red one-piece bathing suit, tanned, head tossed, body lithe yet curvy, was a revelation. She looked delicious but also a little carnivorous, her gleaming white teeth frozen in a friendly but slightly feral smile. That poster ended up on every teenage boy’s bedroom wall and in the annals of pop culture — Farrah was the face, body and hair of the 1970s."

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UPDATED...

Michael Jackson Dead

Michael Jackson -- the global mega-super-pop star man-child of the 1980s - 1990s who, I think surpassed even Madonna in celebrity status, and thus is on par with Elvis Presley and the Beatles in their days, and who was as controversial and strange as he was talented -- has died. The cause of death appears to have been a heart attack or some kind of heart failure. He had been strenuously preparing for a "final" British concert comeback tour.

Here is the Los Angeles Times online version screen shot at the moment his death was announced. How weirdly ironic that Farrah Fawcett would die on the same day as Michael Jackson. (By the way, how sad is this, but I actually caught by reloading the page the moment that his Wikipedia article was updated after the L.A. Times confirmed he had died.)

I guess I always had a feeling Jackson would die relatively young, but it's still a real shocker. It seemed like he was doing better lately, the bulk of the weirdness behind him. Jackson was 50 years old.

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Lastly, unrelated, but since I have been getting so many hits the past two days (by "so many" I mean 31 yesterday and 40 so far today) from Google searches for the latest Matt Taibbi Rolling Stone articles "The Great American Bubble Machine" that is appearing in the July 9, 2009 print edition and is not yet freely available online.

Instead those folks (who aren't even coming to the front page) are instead getting the one entitled "The Big Takeover" from the March 19, 2009 that I posted on this blog on March 23, 2009 Regulus entry. I will post the whole article once I can find it online. (Rolling Stone refuses to make its content available online.)

Anyway, the new Taibbi article is available on the Zero Hedge blog here as a (scrollable) scanned file. Taibbi savages Goldman Sachs in a way only he can -- and that could cause The Washington Post to crap its dainty pants: "The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity ..." and being at every financial bubble and crash since the Great Depression. He ends by saying we live in a "gangster state, running on gangster economics ..."

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That's all for now. I plan to update this blog over the weekend or early next week.

--Regulus

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

D.C. Train-and-Weather-Spotting

*Sigh*

Cumulus congestus clouds over the Washington, D.C., area, the 6PM - 7PM hour, June 22, 2009, as seen from the 1600 block of New Hampshire Ave., NW, looking toward the southwest (clouds over Fairfax Co., Va, about 15 miles away).

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I'm watching reruns of I Love Lucy on Hallmark Channel.

There have been some tremendous tropical-like cloud formations in the sky lately thanks to a cut-0ff upper level low off the Canadian Maritime provinces, although I think the rainy period is over. Boo.

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How are you doing, Kristof, baby doll?

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I'm not going to mention the horrific accident on the D.C. Metrorail Red Line the other day with 9 dead and 80 injured when a southbound train (#112) -- probably as a result of a computer failure-induced brake failure in one of the original 1000-series cars -- crashed into a stationary one (#214) (cars in the 3000 and 5000-series). The crumpled one on top in the photo may be car #1079, which I have undoubtedly been in numerous times in the past 16 years. Source here.

The accident was on the above-ground portion of the Red Line between Takoma Park and Ft. Totten stations. I have been on that line INNUMERABLE times. It was the worst accident in Metro's 33 year history and only the third one involving fatalities. The previous ones were in Jan. 1982 (3 dead) and Jan. 1996 (1 dead, the train operator).

Of note, those two previous ones occurred in a snowstorm -- and the 1982 one was directly related to the Air Florida crash. The weather was (first full day of summer) summery warm and fine on Monday.

Among the dead was a long - time train operator named Jeanice McMillan, 42, of Springfield, Va., who (understandably not expecting such a failure) did not pull the emergency brake fast enuf. (I'm sure I heard her voice over the years since there really aren't more than about 50 regular Metrorail train operators.)

Here is a quintessentially Washington Post kind of article after a "big" event that is all about the personalities involved, including Major General David F. Wherley, Jr., who was the head of the DC National Guard, and his wife.

Among the others killed was Ana Fernandez, a mother of six who worked as a cleaning lady (pictured here on the left).

It's not your typical WaHoPo Bush/GOP/neocon worship and warmongering.

I will say I was hoping a few more of my erstwhile Blogger Buddies (and readers) would make inquiries about my well-being, but, alas, it was not meant to be. Boo.

True, my mom -- pictured here long ago in Glen Burnie, Md., summer 1985 -- texted me (after no word for 3 months) in a "frantic" way asking me to contact her, but only because she watched too much TV, not because she really cared. I texted her back: "I'm not dead. Thanks for the concern." I have not since heard back from her. Oh, well.

UPDATED (for 6/24/2009): Yes, I did hear back from her and we talked Thur. afternoon for about 15 min. on the phone. in a pleasant enough conversation.

Did I ever mention her face (esp. from the nose up) reminds me of the Roseanne Arnold / Barr (circa 1988)?


And with that, Sweet Pea, I have to go to bed. G'night.

More interesting (but ultimately precipitation-less) cloud formations over Washington, D.C., 7:05PM EDT, June 22, 2009

--Regulus

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Screaming Riot and Oppression Then, Quiet Desperation and Neglect Now ...


Yours Truly, Regulus, outside the Washington National Cathedral on a very pleasant early evening at 7:11PM EDT, June 21, 2009 -- the first day of summer 2009.

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This entry -- a bit altered -- was written on my Mr. Sirius entry. It features a variety of pictures, including those took on walk today through Washington, D.C.'s nicer neighborhoods and two taken by Joe S. at the East Potomac Park golf course on Saturday. We had some heavy t-storms on Saturday that added to the surplus rainfall totals of the wet April - May - June we have been having.

The Washington National Cathedral, west side facing Wisconsin Ave., NW, 7:08PM EDT, June 21, 2009

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It was a solo walk since Gary was away and Chris T. was with a friend seeing the play Looped! here in D.C. starring Valeria Harper as the legendary Ms. Tallulah Bankhead. He and I met up later for dinner. And, of course, Kristof is away for the long term -- now in London at Imperial College.

This is a slightly different picture than the top one featuring me almost silhouetted on the sunny western side of the Washington National Cathedral, 7:11PM EDT, June 21, 2009

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My walk started in Friendship Heights, where I stopped for lunch I bought at the Giant and then talked to my dad to my dad and wished him a Happy Father's Day while seated in the Chevy Chase pavilion next to a fountain waterfall.

I then walked on a route into Spring Valley -- the above picture was taken at the corner of University Ave. and Quebec St., NW, at 6:03PM EDT, June 21, 2009 -- past those stunning houses in the 4800-4900 block of Glenbrook Rd., NW, I've talked about before. I did not take any pictures this time, though. Instead of walking through Battery Kemble park, though, I headed east to the National Cathedral and then south into Woodley Park and toward Dupont Circle, where I met Chris after his play was over and we had dinner.

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Before starting my regularly planned entry, let me say that I'm home on this Sunday night watching WETA, which is actually taking a break from the semi-permanent pledge drives that are now a characteristic of our American Public Broadcasting System (PBS) television. Instead it is showing the 2005 documentary Screaming Queens: The Riot.

It's about a riot in August 1966 at a place (long gone) in San Francisco's Tenderloin district called Gene Compton's Cafeteria. The show is about a protest of transgendered prostitutes in San Francisco in that long ago era fighting police harassment. Thereafter, the situation for them began to change, in part due to the unlikely help of a San Francisco Police Dept. Sergeant Elliott Blackstone, who is interviewed in this program (he died in Oct. 2006).

The Compton riot was the first known act of "collective" queer resistance to legal harassment in the United States, and it was actually three full years before the Stonewall riots of June 28, 1969 in New York City's Greenwich Village, a much better known defining event in the gay rights movement. The Wikipedia write up on the Stonewall riots is quite comprehensive and worth linking to.

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My regularly scheduled blog entry follows ...

A wonderfully symmetric anvil-head top to a distant thunderstorm (cumulonimbus cloud) ...

... as seen from East Potomac Park, Washington, D.C., around 3PM, June 20, 2009. This storm was about 60 miles south of D.C., somewhat south of Fredericksburg, Va. Joe sent me this picture (and one more below) that he took while playing golf in East Potomac Park.

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If nothing changes and I do not find meaningful work (by which I mean financially self-sustaining employment) in the next 60 days, then the following set of circumstances applies ...

*I have about $1,600 left to my name with another $640 basically guaranteed from work I already completed and another up to $850 that could come by mid July. Anyway, this money would carry me through to the end of August on rent. I am currently paid up until the end of July. As for daily expenses, I am currently good only until early August.

*I am on the verge of having up to four judgments from collection agencies taken against me for a combined $10,400, and that figure will rise on court costs and so forth. This debt came from what originally was $5,000 or so in purchases in 2005 and 2006, although those "purchases" were food and paying rent. The doubling is because of assorted fees, finance charges, middle men, and the general degenerate corporate whoredom that is America today.

This giant cumulonimbus cloud looks like a rotating supercell. It was probably located just east of the Chesapeake Bay over Talbot County about 50 miles away. This was also taken in East Potomac Park, Washington, D.C., around 3PM, June 20, 2009.

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*I have another $2400 in Macy's debt that I have defaulted on initially as a short term protest but now because I am running out of money. It started in May when, following years of being a loyal customer to them and, prior to that, to Hecht's (which Macy's bought out), back to 1994. I didn't even include Hecht's as a creditor in my 2002 bankruptcy. Anyway, I was always in good standing, paying the $50 in finance charges tacked onto the bill every month. But last month Macy's summarily decreased my credit limit to my balance. They did so as a result of a credit check that had nothing to do with them and when I asked they said too fucking bad. Well, fuck them. Macy's can stand in line with the rest of my creditors. By the time they get around to a judgment, I'll be able to do a bankruptcy.

A "secluded" bird bath with two stone sculptures of seated dogs among the flowers (and in-laid marble with names on it surrounding it, not visible in this image), 3600 block of Fordham Rd., NW, Washington, D.C., in the heart of Spring Valley.

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*I have no assets whatsoever except the above mentioned checking account, which could face a lien on it, so I have moved some of the money into an account in my dad's name. More generally, I have so little that there really isn't much the collection agencies can "get" from me. There is no regular wage to garnish. I actually have been very upfront and matter of fact with two of the collection agencies (and have not spoken to the other two yet). Whether it helps or not is beside the point but they know what they can realistically expect to get. In my case, I think this strategy of being cooperative actually works since there is so little for me to lose.

The houses at 3908 (right) and 3912 (left) Macomb St., NW, Washington, D.C., June 21, 2009

*I cannot do a chapter 7 bankruptcy until Aug. 2010 because I have to wait 8 years from my previous one.

*Any judgment or wage garnishment would look really bad for one of the jobs I am trying to get and it would probably nix any security clearance, at least above a certain level. As it is, I am probably not really clearable owing to a few issues in my past (no, nothing criminal, but still couple of dicey things).

Yours truly, Regulus, and Esau, who looks like a big, fluffy stuffed animal dog but he's a very real Akita. He belongs to one of Phil's sisters and lives in Glen Burnie (near where I used to live back in the early 1990s with my mother and Ray). Phil and Stephanie were watching Esau last month. This picture was taken by my friend LP at their place on Adams Mill Rd., NW, here in D.C.

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*I have approx. $200,000 in student loan debt that will also be coming due, and this is non-dischargeable in chapter 7, but the new law governing payments limits how much one has to pay (I believe it is 15 percent of gross monthly income, but I'm not sure on that).


The house at 4301 45th St., NW, Washington, D.C., June 21, 2009

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*A chapter 7 bankruptcy next year should take care of the judgments and any checking account liens and/or wage garnishments (assuming I have a wage to garnish).

*About my job search, I have had zero luck even as I have completed my third masters degree, owing to a combination of a bad economy and -- even more so -- my incredible LACK of any social networking connections to get me "in" anywhere. Additionally, things that should be strong points -- a white male with lots of education -- in fact are not helping me at all, esp. in the search for Federal work. The multiple masters degrees on my resume also look kind of weird.

*Applying for work my way -- sending in resumes and applications into the Giant Black Hole that is the internet -- is absurd and guaranteed failure. No one reads online applications. Ever. The game is all rigged.

*America is more often than not a nightmare country.

Mad Dogs or Canes Venatici (Hunting Dogs)??

Actually, just Esau and Oliver (left). Oliver is Phil and Stephanie's dog. This picture was taken by my friend LP in May 2009 but I'm not sure the day.

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*The reason I was able to do that South Florida vacation is because it was basically free: Spirit Airlines travel is ridiculously inexpensive if you are in their club (as my friend Gary is) and we stayed at his landlord's condo in Boca Raton. It just so happened in both trips there (the one in Feb. and the one this month), we had a friend who traveled with us and stayed in a hotel in Deerfield Beach, which served as a base of operations. As it is, I still haven't paid Gary the $100 I owe him for the airfare and part of the car rental. I am planning on giving him $120 in July.

Chris T. and myself taken in my wee efficiency here in D.C., May 2009 (not sure the date).

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*I cannot realistically live with my dad, even in Key West, even if I run out of money and have to give up my apt. in D.C. I do not know what I will do.

*I am exhausted and tired of how my life has turned out. I am almost debilitatingly depressed. I do not know what is going to happen in the next 3 to 6 months. I may just disappear from D.C. It really wouldn't matter. I cannot find a way here. While I have a few friends who might temporarily help me financially, in the long run, I am failing here and my situation is unsustainable. I am completely lost these days and I cannot find my way home.

The south side view of the Washington National Cathedral with the central Gloria In Excelsis Deo tower (I think that's what it is called) as seen outside Bishop's Garden, 7:32PM EDT, June 21, 2009.

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That's all for now. I guess my next entry will be in a few days. As for this week, I have two or three work assignments for my contracting job (one of which I did not finish last week). However, on Friday I reached a senior level NRC staffer who provided me an interview that I needed for one of the assignments.

Picture of a blue bird that LP sent me.

--Regulus

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thoughts of Mt. Damavand and one of my old-style political rants

**Revised 1/22/2011**

Mount Damavand, the highest point in Iran, and one of the world's most prominent stratovolcanoes ...

... Mount Damavand is the highest peak in Iran and is located about 40 miles northeast of downtown Tehran. Mt. Damavand is 5,610 meters or 18,406 feet, the highest point in Iran and the 12th ranked globally in terms of 'prominence.' It is also physically a very beautiful mountain.

The arid climate of Iran actually changes rather abruptly heading north from there to the southern shores of the Caspian Sea.

Here is a Google terrain image of northern Iran with Mt. Damavand circled and Tehran in the lower left corner and the Caspian Sea at the top of the image. Note how much greener the terrain turns near the Caspian Sea.

My Russian friend Mike G. grew up in Baku, Azerbaijan, which is located on a strange kink in the Caspian Sea about 350 miles directly north-northwest of Tehran.

Here is an image of the very tip top of Mt. Damavand in Iran that I got off an interesting Web site called "Damavand Iran" linked here.

Yes, the current unrest in Tehran (but unrelated to it) also has me interested in some of the geographic and topographic features of Iran.

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TURNING to the political -- 'cuz I'm in a bitchy mood as I write this -- below is a YouTube clip worth watching. It features a journalist-commentator with OpenLeft.com gives some shitty Fox News troll "reporter" named Griff Jenkins, who likes to "ambush" people in that Fox Nazi News way -- a taste of his own medicine. Jenkins was waiting to ambush people in at ACORN meeting. It's brilliant.



Interestingly, this was filmed on 16th St., right near Scott Circle, which is located about midway (at M Street, NW) between the White House (which spans the area between E and H Streets, NW) and where I live by 16th and U St., NW. I wish I had known this was going on!

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Some additional political commentary ...

Our piece of crap local "newspaper of record,"
The Washington "Whore" Post, has decided to fire its only liberal blogger from its WashPost.com site, Dan Froomkin.

If any paper deserves to go bankrupt, it is the WaHoPo, which now only exists to be a house organ for the forces of reactionary, Bush-loving intrigue, neocon warmongering, corporate whoredom, enslavement of the working class population (which, in America, is only too happy to be enslaved), and all-around-destruction of all life on this planet.

Its current publisher, Katharine Weymouth, niece of Washington Post Company Chairman (and former WaHoPo publisher) Don Graham, looks like she belongs in a trashy Daytona Beach, Fla., bar singing karaoke, not running the erstwhile "newspaper of record."

As usual, Glenn Greenwald gets it right and right again and right a third time.

Also, read here as Pres. Obama and wussy Senate Democrats cave in on ANY meaningful health care reform again. Expect the mainstream media -- think Cokie Roberts and David Gregory -- to be "impressed by this."

This whole health care "reform" effort is going to end up as some multi-billion-dollar corporate tax giveaway that does NOTHING and is the EXACT OPPOSITE of what is so desperately needed.

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And if you want to see why former Sen. Tom "Puff" Daschle is such a pimped out corporate whore, read here and here.

Matt Taibbi's quote about him is so spot on: "In Washington there are whores and there are whores, and then there is Tom Daschle."

"Hey, that's not fair! My wife's a corporate whore, too!"

But at least Pres. Obama will give a good, but ultimately meaningless, speech. It's all so depressing. Oh, well. I personally never thought he was going to be a Christ like Savior.

--Regulus

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Capital Pride 2009; Masters Degree No. 3; and South Florida Vacation Photo-Finale

**I posted this around 4AM EDT, Monday, June 15, 2009**

Here is a picture of my friend Chris T., taken at 4:49PM EDT, June 14, 2009 at Dupont Circle here in Washington, D.C.. I have not actually posted a picture of him in a few months. Gary and I went to South Florida with Chris last week.

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Unless something noteworthy happens, this entry will probably be my last one until next Monday (June 22nd) or so because I have FOUR assignments -- with a value of $1050 -- due for my contracting job that are between this coming Tuesday and the morning of June 22nd, including a report of nearly 20 pages (for which I am to receive $600).

The trees in the 2000 block of Belmont Rd., NW, Washington, D.C., 6:39PM EDT, June 14, 2009

I know I'm underpaid, but these assignments should carry me financially into September, including August rent. I still need to find regular work.

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Dupont Circle fountain, Washington, D.C., 6:13PM EDT, June 14, 2009

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This entry will also discuss some other stuff, such as the fact that I have now received my actual degree for my Master of Public Policy. This would be my third masters degree I have completed, along with my undergraduate degree -- all from the Univ. of Maryland, College Park in what was a nearly 17-year, on-again, off-again sojourn. It also includes a tad of political commentary (from Bill Maher) and an old TV commercial jingle I've never forgotten.

This entry will also feature the bulk of my South Florida vacation pictures such as these coconut palms along the beach in Deerfield Beach, Fla., June 8, 2009.

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Capital Pride 2009 ...

First, though, I will talk a little bit about the Capital Pride 2009 event, which following the annual parade yesterday, culminated earlier today with the big street festival down on Pennsylvania Ave. The headliner performer is drag queen singer, actor, and all around impresario RuPaul. I never did make it down there.

Here is the view outside Cobalt yesterday evening (June 13, 2009) shortly before the parade began.

I have decided to refrain from any political commentary on the gay pride event or D.C.'s gay community.

A cute 20-something year old guy at Cobalt (no, he didn't know I was taking his picture, so I guess that makes me nearly 40 years old and creepy, not to mention fat).

Ironically, the other bar I go to -- Cobalt -- is the sister bar to his establishment with the same owner and management company. Yesterday, I drifted over to Cobalt around 630PM -- not planning to stay but before a $10 cover charge kicked in -- and ended up there for quite a number of hours. By late night, the place was in a sweaty, drunken frenzy with quite a diverse crowd of gay men, lesbians, straight girls, and who (and what) ever else was out at the 130AM hour.

As it was, I saw from an inside window -- see above picture -- part of what turned out to be a ridiculously long 2 hour parade that actually lasted into nightfall. Cobalt is at 17th and R Streets, NW, where the parade route made a sharp right turn south onto 17th St., NW.

I was there first with Gerry and Vincent, and then Chris T. I went home for about an hour to eat something and rest up and then went back out to Cobalt and later to Omega for a little while. I never did see LP this weekend. Boo.


As for going to the street fair event, I did not make it down there, partly because -- as weird as this sounds -- the weather was just too sunny, too bright, and way too warm to walk around there on the pavement of Pennsylvania Ave., NW, in full sunlight.

It has never been showery cloudy and cool, nor even thunder-stormy on the day of the event.


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Graduation Completion: Master's No. 3

So I have finished skool school with the completion of my Master of Public Policy and -- symbolically -- receiving the actual degree itself.

Here is a picture of the degree itself -- my THIRD and most very likely FINAL masters degree -- as I picked it up in the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) Diploma Office in the Mitchell Building on Friday, June 12, 2009.

I went to College Park on Friday, not thinking it would actually be ready but rather just wanting to check with the Registrar's Office that my graduation was in fact cleared. My degree was in a big pile of them that the lady working there retrieved. The two ladies and the assistant registrar in the office chatting -- things are slow on campus in the summertime -- thought this funny.

"Why not get a Ph.D.??", one asked while the other said as I left, "SEE YOU IN TWO YEARS OR SO!"

Here is a picture of the degree placed on the pedestal on which sits the 2000 pound bronze sculpture of the UMCP mascot "Testudo," a diamondback terrapin. This is one of several such Testudo sculptures located at various "important" points around campus. This is arguably the most prominent one, located outside the McKeldin Library.

Here they are: my FOUR degrees from UMCP, as placed on my little table with Flippo and my Sunshine Buddies holding down the undergraduate one because it had been curled up in a cardboard cylindrical tube since I got it in 1994. The four degrees starting upper left and running clockwise: my B.S. in physical science (awarded June 1994); my M.S. in meteorology (awarded Aug. 1997); my M.A. in journalism (awarded Aug. 2001); and my M.P.P. in public policy (awarded in May 2009). The shield or logo changed between the M.S. and the M.A. to the one presently used.

Yes, my cellphone camera sucks. I know that.

It is too bad my that blogger friend Fifi has disappeared from my blog -- she would certainly have had something insightful and poetic to say about all those degrees.

Alas, I think I wrote one too many negative entries (when did I ever pretend NOT to be that kind of person??) and she has disappeared.

Maybe it had something to do with our blogger buddy Bryan's death and what seems like my trivial and self-indulgent complaining.

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Anyway, thus ends -- probably for good -- what ended up a nearly 17-year long sojourn at the University of Maryland, College Park through an undergraduate and THREE masters programs resulting in four degrees, an unpayable amount of student loan debt (in excess of $240,000 and rising on interest), and still totally lost in this world.

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Political commentary ...

Here is Bill Maher's wonderfully insightful and funny criticism of Pres. Obama's political timidity and excessive concern with "being loved" and celebrity status. This is from his Friday, June 12, 2009 HBO show.



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Old, Silly 1980s TV Commercial Jingles ...

Before moving on to my South Florida pictures, I wanted to mention that the other day I had this silly TV commercial jingle for Coco Goya Piña Colada drink mix stuck in my head. It is a jingle I heard maaaaany years ago ... back in the early to mid-1980s in New Jersey in my teenage Jersey shore summer years.

The commercial for this Goya product that I am thinking of featured an old, sort of frumpy woman in a flowery dress who (if I'm remembering correctly) looked like (but probably was not) the late actress Hermione Baddeley, pictured to the left, who died in1 1986 and who in the 1970s played one of Maude Findlay's housekeepers on Maude.

She sings the jingle with a group of Muppet-like puppet characters in front of her joining in:

"Coco Goya (Piña) Colada is a lotta colada! / It's the cream of the cream of coconut/ Nothing but the cream of the cream of coconut!"

The lady then embraces the puppets and says to the camera, "THEY'RE ADOPTED!"

I couldn't find it on YouTube or elsewhere on the internets.

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South Florida vacation photo-finale!

The remainder of these pictures are from my South Florida trip to the Ft. Lauderdale area with Gary and Chris T., mostly, to Deerfield Beach, though there was a side trip (as in February when Gary and I did this same trip with LP).

June 6, 2009

Heading to the Spirit Airlines gate in faraway terminal A of Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) to catch my flight to Ft. Lauderdale ...

... 3:44PM, EDT, June 6, 2009. This corridor is just part of the half mile long walkway between terminals A and B.

More inter-terminal passage ways at National Airport, 3:46PM EDT, June 6, 2009. This is a little used part of the airport. Along the walls on the right side are aerial pictures showing the history of National Airport back to its construction in the early 1940s.

Entering terminal A at DCA after having passed through security, June 6, 2009.

Take off from DCA: I had a right side window seat (an "F" seat) and we did an upriver takeoff, 5:46PM EDT, June 6, 2009. That's the Capitol building in the middle about 2 miles away. (Returning, we did a downriver landing, and I was seated on the left side in an "A" window seat, so I got a beautiful nighttime view of downtown D.C. Thus, I lucked out all four times since it is possible depending on the wind to do a downriver takeoff and upriver landing, in which case you don't get a view of downtown Washington.)

Seconds later, the view of the Washington Monument, Tidal Basin, the Jefferson Memorial, and one of the spans of the 14th Street Bridge, while ascending out of DCA. I live about 1.3 miles due north of the Washington Monument, which from the perspective of this picture would be in the middle far left.

Tropopause pause ...

Another stealth cellphone picture ... This one was taken 50 to 100 miles off the South Carolina coast heading south, 6:55PM EDT, June 6, 2009, at an altitude of about 36,000 feet (at this latitude and time of year near the tropopause -- that would mark the transition between where Earth's atmosphere goes from convective-radiative equilibrium (the troposphere) to radiative equilibrium (the stratosphere) ).

We arrived at what was a stormy South Florida dusk that required the pilot to navigate the jet well to the east over the Bahamas and then head due west to the airport (since there were t-storms up and down the immediate coastline and just offshore). Gary, Chris, and I were treated to a spectacular lightning display to the east as we drove the rental car, first to Deerfield Beach to Chris's hotel and then to Boca Raton to Marvin's cono, where Gary and I stayed at night.

After a prolonged drought, much of the Florida peninsula has been in a wet period lately.

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June 7, 2009

The following three images show the view from Chris's hotel room (#615) in the Deerfield Beach Howard Johnson Plaza Resort the next day, June 7, 2009, at 12:05PM EDT.

Looking east over the open Atlantic Ocean

Looking southeast beyond the coconut palm-lined road along the beach, which is actually awkwardly named NE 21st Ave., though farther south it becomes South Ocean Way. (I already posted this image in my previous entry.)

The view looking to the northeast over NE 21st Ave., Deerfield Beach, Fla., and out over the open ocean.

Lifeguard stand #2, Deerfield Beach, Fla., 12:45PM EDT, June 7, 2009

The hotel's pool deck with some more coconut palm trees in the background. It was Sunday and there was a Caribbean guy playing the steel drums and singing assorted tunes.

A thatched tiki bar under the coconut palms at the place next door.

Me in the hotel room, June 7, 2009.

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June 8, 2009

Same lifeguard stand #2, except the next day...

The same east view from Rm. 615 of the Deerfield Beach Howard Johnson Plaza Resort, except 4:31PM EDT, June 8, 2009

The view to the west from the hotel's pool deck as a thunderstorm approached, 5:41PM EDT, June 8, 2009

Stormy skies ... the gust front had already moved east over the ocean as the thunderstorm moved in from the west, 5:54PM EDT, June 8, 2009. Yes, that is a nearby bird caught in wing mid-flap in the sky just "above" the horizon.

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June 9, 2009

The ocean off Deerfield Beach, Fla., was very calm for all of our stay there ...

... here is the view looking out to sea at 12:51PM EDT June 9, 2009. Those clouds on the horizon were the anvil head tops of distant thunderstorms over the Bahamas about 80 miles to the east.

Meanwhile, looking inland to the west ...

... the sky was filled with cumulus congestus and cumulonimbus clouds. This was the view as seen from about 10 feet into the very calm surf in a warm ocean (temp. near the shore 75F to 80F), 12:52PM EDT, June 9, 2009.

Same as above, except looking at the Deerfield Beach Howard Johnson hotel where Chris stayed.

Yours Truly, Regulus, under a towel on the beach in Deerfield Beach, Fla., 1:04PM EDT, June 9, 2009. The Sun was so intense that I needed to use suntan lotion with a high SPF (that Neutrogena Ultra Sheer, SPF #55, which, interestingly, was the same stuff I bought on my last trip there in late February from the same store and which remained in the bathroom in Gary's landlord Marvin's condo in Boca Raton).

Here is a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter whizzes by a few hundred feet offshore and no more than 100 feet above the ocean, 1:08PM EDT, June 9, 2009. The same distant thunderstorms are visible -- I estimated they were over Grand Bahama Island, or maybe even Abaco Island. I wasn't near a radar so I couldn't tell for sure.

Thereafter, Gary, Chris and I took a drive to Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Fla. Gary and I did this with LP back in February, so I am not going to repeat those images, esp. since I find the "reality" of Worth Avenue with its jewelry, sculpture, and other art shops selling $25,000 this, $50,000 that, and $75,000 the other thing to be something so beyond my own perception of what is real that it's rather tiresome and pointless to do so.

However, here is a picture of Gary and Chris T. along Worth Avenue, Palm Beach, Fla., 4:19PM EDT, June 9, 2009. It turns out that June (and the summer in general) is the off season for Palm Beach, and many of these shops were closed with "by appointment only" signs in the window.

We drove in our PT Cruiser rental car back south along A1A, which changes names several times. Here is a house with the address 1800 South Ocean Blvd., in what I believe is still Palm Beach, Fla., June 9, 2009.

I'm sure Mr. Sirius will have a home such as this as one of his summer cottages at some point in the next ten years or so.

Meanwhile ...

... this trailer park along the beach in a place called Briny Breezes, Fla., June 9, 2009, is more my dad's (and mom's) speed.

Here we were (Gary driving and Chris in the front seat while I sat in the back) driving along A1A in Delray Beach, Fla., 5:21PM EDT, June 9, 2009.

The Meridia, Deerfield Beach, Fla., 5:40PM EDT, June 9, 2009. I think I haven't posted enough pictures of pastel-colored South Florida condominium high rises in this entry.

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June 10, 2009

We left the night of June 10th (Wednesday), so we had some time to go to the beach in the early afternoon.

Here is another picture of me, this one taken at the Patio Bar and Grille in the Patio Bar & Grille, Howard Johnson Resort Plaza, Deerfield Beach, Fla., 1:33PM EDT, June 10, 2009

We then went to Marvin's condo, where we did laundry and got ready to leave in time for our evening flight.

Here is a picture of an old couple seated and having lunch in the same Patio Bar & Grille restaurant, 1:57PM EDT, June 10, 2009. Such retirement must be good.

Minutes after take-off from Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport (FLL), 8:25PM EDT, June 10, 2009, at about 15,000 feet altitude, approximately 10 miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, looking west. There were some big thunderstorms over extreme southwest Florida while the cumulonimbus clouds in this picture were over the Everglades. The lightning from the t-storm cells was quite impressive -- and I could see it from as far as 150+ miles away.

National Airport, Terminal B, 11:24PM EDT, June 10, 2009, as Gary and I -- arriving late after storms over the Washington, D.C., area delayed our flight by a half hour, but at least we didn't divert to Philadelphia, as was threatened -- were hurrying to the Metro to catch the second-to-last Yellow Line train. The flight through those storms -- after we circled over a cloud-shrouded Richmond for 35 minutes -- was briefly very jarring.

Chris took a cab home from the airport.

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Goodbye, South Florida ...

... still more coconut palms in Deerfield Beach, June 10, 2009

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That's about all for now.

Again, my next entry will probably not be for about a week or so.

I am not going to write about one particularly bad thing that happened earlier this Sunday and why I called 911 because of it. I'll leave that for some other time. Suffice it to say, I'm home safe and at least semi-sound now.

--Regulus