Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Its Name is Earl ... (UPDATED)

UPDATED at 11:18PM 31 Aug 2010: This useless and worthless 'hurricane' is going to make a HARD RIGHT angle turn out to sea and the crew at NHC and LWX are 'happy' so NO WEATHER here. End of story.

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Just a quick update ...

The San Juan, Puerto Rico radar in base reflectivity mode at 0351UTC (11:51PM Atlantic Standard Time), Aug. 31, 2010 (August 30, 2010) showing Hurricane Earl with its eye located about 105 miles north of San Juan. Earl is currently a category 4 hurricane with top sustained winds of 135MPH and a central pressure of 938mb (27.70") as of 11PM AST.

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OK, the bottom line for Hurricane Earl is that it will probably just graze the mid-Atlantic coastline as it rounds a giant subtropical ridge but it kicked out to sea by a shortwave moving out of the Great Lakes to the East Coast.

The D.C. area will be in the outer subsidence zone with sunny, breezy, hot conditions, making it as crappy as it has been the past few days and much of this summer.


The 18UTC 30 August 2010 model run output of the GFS valid for hour 90 (Noon UTC or 8AM EDT), Sept. 3, 2010 showing mean sea level pressure (MSLP), 6-hour cumulative precip, and 850mb temperatures. This is as close as "Earl" gets to us -- and if it came to pass, we'd be in the outer subsidence zone, meaning sunny, breezy, and hot as it has been this summer. Boo.

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Speaking of this summer ...

This will go down as the hottest climatological summer on record at DCA with an average high of 90.0F, surpassing the 89.2F set in the summer of 1980.

There have been 56 days of 90F or higher at DCA stretching back to April. The record (also from 1980) is 67. Not sure if we'll reach that. BWI is currently at 51 days -- and needs only to reach 54 days (set in 1988). IAD is at 48 days -- but needs to reach 55 days (set in 1980).

I just want it to rain and be cooler, not a devastating hurricane.

--Regulus

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Despite Everything, Still Remembering to "Keep Looking Up!"

Havasu Falls near the Grand Canyon on the lands of the Havasupai Native American tribe. Source here.

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So I have some very good news, but first I would like to talk a little bit more about the Summer Triangle that I mentioned in my previous entry, and I also need to get some bad stuff out of the way.

Again, here is a labeled image of the Summer Triangle with its three vertex stars of Vega, Deneb, and Altair.

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Vega -- the star that figures into the wonderful movie Contact -- is about 25 light years away in the constellation Lyra. It is a blue-white main sequence star is about 2.5x the radius and twice the mass of the Sun. It will again be the North Star in about 11,000 years.

Vega, Arcturus, and Sirius are among the most luminous stars in the Sun's neighborhood.

Deneb -- pictured above in Cygnus the Swan in a portion of a mosaic image that was the Sept. 20, 2007 APOD -- is a star simply beyond comprehension: a bluish-white supergiant that is about 100x the diameter of the Sun (nearly half way to Earth) and thus about 1 million times the Sun's volume, not to mention about 54,000 times as luminous.

Deneb is located a staggering 1400 to 1500 light years away, or nearly 60 times the distance to Vega. If it were located from Earth at a distance of Vega, it would be 15x as luminous as Venus or about as bright as a crescent Moon (concentrated into a near-point of light). And if it were at the distance of Sirius (7.5 light years), it would far outshine the full Moon -- a sort of quasi-second Sun in terms of brightness.

Deneb is RAPIDLY rushing through its stellar life cycle. It will die in a spectacular supernova "soon" -- within a few tens of millions of years.

Altair in Aquila the Eagle is a blue giant star located about 17 light years away and is about twice the Sun's radius. It rotates every 10 hours, so it is highly oblate.

Altair is moving very rapidly relative to the Sun -- transiting a full degree of night sky every 5,000 years or so.


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OK, as for how things are going for me ...

Despite the fact no rain is in the forecast for at least the next 7 to 10 days, and temps are forecasted to reach 95F or so all next week (and forget all about "Earl" or whatever stupid tropical activity is out in the Atlantic) ...

... and so the egomaniacal LWX weather crew and the nutty local weathercasters with their "CAN IT GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS??" obscene declarations are both happy.

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Despite the fact the yowling Teabaggers led by an ex-coke addict shock jock turned half-crazy Napoleon-complexed TV personality descended en masse on D.C. today in a sort of perverse "reverse March on Washington" on the 47th anniversary of said event ...


This was not taken from today's perverted rally held on the National Mall at the Lincoln Memorial but from some other garden variety tea-bagging event where the crypto-racist Teabaggers tea-bagged for their "right" to poisoned food, air, and water, and to be worked to death in their "right to work" state, and in general to be exterminated by a corporate fascist police state that is the fruition of their Alice-in-Wonderland libertarian notions of "freedom" and "the free market."

How did I end up in the same country with such nut jobs?

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Despite the fact the Dems are
likely to suffer big losses in November as a portion of the American electorate responds to its economic crisis by bringing back in an even more toxic form of those who caused the problem ...

... thanks to stress, fear, anger, libertarian nonsense, and a kind of simple-minded idiocy that the forces of corporate reactionary intrigue are astutely exploding in a massive "Astro-turfing" operation organized under FreedomWorks, not to mention the nightmare billionaire Koch Brothers, and aided and abetted by a whore media with its nihilistic narratives, while Obama sorta kinda just compounds the problem ...

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Breathe.

A tranquil Jawjah Georgia sunrise I gots off the internets.

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ALL THAT ASIDE ...


It was a good day as I found out I am to be hired on full-time as a regular salaried employee with benefits at my current job, and at an income far higher than I have ever earned ... and so I am very happy.

This means I can slowly start to reclaim (if I ever had one) a 'normal' life, maybe.

Image from Aug. 14,2010 APOD.

OK, that's all for now. I am supposed to meet up with G. and K. later this afternoon at my usual 17th St. spot and then go to Phil and S's place for the second half of a gay wedding reception. My next planned update will be early next work week. I'm supposed to go to Florida to visit my dad over the Labor Day weekend.

--Regulus

Friday, August 27, 2010

Farewell Star Gazer or "Keep Looking Up!"

The galaxy NGC 1365 located about 60 million light years away in the direction of the constellation Fornax. This was the Astronomy Picture of the Day for Aug. 20, 2010 (see below for significance).

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Jack Horkheimer, long time PBS "Star Gazer" and prior to that moniker, "Star Hustler", has died. He died on Aug. 20, 2010 at age 72 after a respiratory illness, source here. I first found out from Aaron.

Horkheimer, executive director of the Space Transit Planetarium at the Miami Science Museum, hosted the 5-minute astronomy show snippet on WPBT, the PBS station in Miami, for 34 years since its inception in 1976. It first was shown nationally on PBS stations in 1985, which is right about when I started watching it.

The show used to be aired as PBS was signing off, so for me (back when I watched a lot of PBS, before it became a sort of 24/7 empty infomercial).

Star Hustler / Star Gazer was thus enjoyable late night fare, esp. when I was living in Glen Burnie during my teenage years and early to mid College Park period. The mustachioed Horkheimer was forever the bubbly, enthusiastic, always-cheerful astronomy teacher whose infectious love for the wonders of the heavens made the little program a joy to watch. And, of course, I always had a natural love for the topic.

In many ways, Horkheimer was a figure from another time since today it is all ego, bombast, belligerence, empty entertainment and vacuous reality shows.

It is estimated there have been well over 1,500 episodes of Star Gazer / Star Hustler (the name change occurred in 1997).

The music was an electronic adaptation of Claude Debussy's Arabesque No. 1.

He always ended each show with a sort of salute and declare: "... remember to KEEP LOOKING UP!"


Here is the YouTube clip of his last recorded Star Gazer episode. He was giddy over the fact the Summer Triangle of Altair, Vega, and Deneb is directly overhead during the late summertime Labor Day time of year. The show is dated "for Aug. 30th - Sept. 5th, 2010."

May he now be looking out across the heavens and looking down on this little speck of Earth and experiencing the Cosmos in a way humans just dream. Maybe he is now star voyager ...

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The Summer Triangle (labeled).

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Turning to me ...

I do not feel well at all ... I'm physically fatigued and exhausted. I ended up going out every night this week -- Monday to meet Jamie, Tuesday to a baseball game and then to Cobalt for a bit, Wednesday to meet Kristof (see previous entry) and others, and last night (Thursday), again to Cobalt to meet Kristof and Jamie.

I managed to get to bed by 1230AM most nights (130AM on Tuesday) and on no night was I really drunk. I also managed to get up on time at about 715AM, but that's still not enough sleep for me.

My work day yesterday ended up crappy for a complicated reason involving me trying to do too much, but I don't feel like going into it. However, I don't think it jeopardizes my position there.

I got a badly needed haircut today. I think it's OK.

--Regulus (not the actual star)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kristof Returns and God Does Battle

Updated 7/31/2013: I changed the title of this entry, although the URL is unchanged. I've always hated the title I originally chose. Many things have changed since I posted this entry nearly 3 years ago.

Kristof and Gary at Cobalt, Washington, D.C., 9:43PM, Aug. 25, 2010.

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OK, this is just a very quick update as it is nearly 11:40PM and I'm somewhat imbibed after what is now the fifth night in a row of drinking, although tonight was for a very good reason -- my sweetie Kristof is back from his nearly 18 month sojourn in Europe, primarily in London.

In fact, it was a very good night with my friends Kristof, Gary, Gloria, and Jamie.

That's all for now. I plan to update this blog tomorrow evening, but I probably won't have a longer, proper update until this weekend.

A complicated multi-series composite image taken on an exceptionally dark and clear night at Port Campbell National Park at Lord Ard Gorge in the Victoria state of Australia showing the inner portions of the Milky Way Galaxy and its dust clouds, and the "glow" it can actually create.

Source APOD Aug. 23, 2010

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Oh, yes, the weather here is PURE CRAP with ENDLESS frickin' warm-to-hot Republican Desert War God Sunshine in the forecast for worthless Washington, D.C., for the next QUADRILLION days or so. I hate D.C. weather. The anti-weather LWX crowd and local TV weather-casters are happy of course ("CAN IT GET ANY BETTER??" was a weather teaser I caught glimpse of on channel 4).

--Regulus

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Burj Meteorologica - OR - Trippin' Through LEGOLAND

The 17-1/2 foot tall LEGO model of the Burj Khalifa with a nearby roughly 8-1/2 foot tall LEGO model of World Trade Center 2 (the South Tower) of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center (destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks) on display at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., 3:44PM, Aug. 22, 2010.

The Burj Khalifa is currently the world's tallest man-made structure at a ridiculous 2,717 feet (828 meters) height in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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This has been a shitty weekend. Yes, the Friday night going-away dinner /party for David was nice, but the rest of the weekend has been crappy including going out last night to my usual place on 17th Street. And I've spent so much money lately, too.

Plus I was not very -- hardly at all -- productive last week at work, and I still don't know if the job is going to be extended beyond mid-October or not.

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Cumulus cloud with gauzy edge in an otherwise blue sky as seen over 1707 S Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 4:53PM, Aug. 22, 2010.

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Anyway, today I spent the day by myself. I went to the National Building Museum to see the exhibit LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition. It featured a series of LEGO models of the world's tallest and most iconographic skyscrapers and structures that were made by Adam Reed Tucker. I took a bunch of cellphone pictures that I'm posting in this entry -- after the requisite complaining about weather and politics. If you just want to see the LEGO images, please skip over the following section.

I didn't see any signs that said I couldn't take pictures.

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The Weather ...

It is another frickin' sunny, warm day with temps well into the upper 80s Fahrenheit. There were apparently some t-storms earlier, but I didn't see / experience them. This damn summer can't end fast enough.

The Northeastern "CONUS" radar mosaic at 2118 UTC (518PM EDT), August 22, 2010.

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Compounding this are the insufferable meteorologists at Sterling LWX. For the meteorologically uninitiated, "Sterling LWX" refers to the Baltimore / Washington National Weather Service Forecast Office, so named because it is located in Sterling, Virginia near Dulles Airport. LWX is its three letter identifier.

The U.S. is divided up into (I believe) 122 such local forecast offices ("WFOs") plus the regional and national centers. Here is a description of the NWS organizational structure.

Here is the map from that page showing the "WFOs".

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The LWX crew continue to insert their opinions into their discussions when, which technically the NWS doesn't allow. The discussions always describe precipitation as a "THREAT" and the clearer / warmer (hotter) / drier, the better. And they're always so proud of themselves and their incredible forecasting skills.

This summer they've written endless paragraphs in that clipped abbreviations -- an anachronistic relic, I guess, of the time of telegraph communications, but now the equivalent of an insider's "specialized" language that makes meteorologists feel important -- explaining why since it won't feel like 105F in the shade at DCA, a heat advisory isn't needed.

And when it comes to snow, just forget it.

Their ideal situation at all times is when DCA "officially" gets zero precipitation. This year has been especially good for DCA coming in below the rest of the area, so presumably they're happy.

At least two of the Sterling crew actually have their own weird musical band called "Strangewax" that they formed and they go around singing about how bad "bad weather" is. The name, presumably, is a bad pun on the terms "weather" (denoted "wx" in meteorology-speak), "wax" (as in "wax cylinders" for their recordings), and "strange" for the fact that they have such a band.

There is supposed to be an anomalous (i.e., out of season) cut-off low situation that retrogrades back INTO the mid-Atlantic coastline and overhead, but even if this happens, it is doubtful we'll get any rain. And the forecast is NEVER wrong when they predict little or no rain. It's only wrong when a lot of rain is forecasted.

The 24-hour precipitation forecast valid 0Z 23 Aug 2010 - 0Z 24 August 2010.

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The ideal climate and conditions for the Sterling crew, not to mention Sue Palka, the long time weather-lady on our local channel 5 TV station, and Doug Hill on our local channel 7.

Channel 7 WJLA is owned and operated by Allbritton Communications Co., which was started by Joseph L. Allbritton -- hence the station's call letters "WJLA". Allbritton is a Southern rightwing media and banking billionaire who also runs Riggs Bank and was the publisher of the long-defunct Washington Star.

He also is the publisher of the worthless daily political rag POLITICO -- a toxically Inside-the-Beltway, head-up-your-butt D.C. punditocratic group-grope publication that achieved the near-impossible feat of capturing the nihilistic essence of The Washington Post's political reporting thanks to the "values" brought by the two ex-Postie reporters, the arrogant, smug, but very thin-skinned egomaniacs of Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris, who started it.

Here is a list of VandeHei's "most recent stories":

It's always the same fare: "Republican operatives confident ... GOP base 'energized' ... Dems in disarray ... Tea Party surging ... Obama support collapsing ... global warming: Democratic 'hoax'?"

In true American mainstream media style, there is no right or wrong, truth versus lies. Rather, it's an endless nihilistic political ping-pong game between Repubs and the Robert Rubin wing of the Democratic Party (since actual liberals have no place in this "debate").

POLITICO's avatar should be the late Tim Russert.

Returning to channel 7 and the local weather, it truly baffles me why the ONLY good local TV weatherman, Bob Ryan, who was a veritable institution on channel 4 WRC for nearly 30 years, went over to channel 7 last year to play second fiddle to Doug Hill.

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OK, returning to the LEGO exhibit. It was called LEGO Architecture: Towering Ambition and it featured -- as I mentioned above -- a series of 15 LEGO models of the world's tallest and most iconographic skyscrapers and structures that were made by some artist guy named Adam Reed Tucker.

The Web page to the exhibit is here, but it probably won't work after about Sept. 5th when the exhibit ends.

World Trade Center 2 -- South Tower, LEGO model, with accompanying wall picture of World Trade Center 1 -- North Tower, National Building Museum, Washington, D.C., 3:42PM, Aug. 22, 2010.

This LEGO model was about 8-1/2 feet tall (I can't recall the exact number), with a consistent scale used throughout (roughly 1 foot equaling 155 feet). The models were in the 7 to 11 foot range, although the model Transamerica Pyramid Building and St. Louis Arch were smaller (about 3 feet high) and the Burj Khalifa was 17 feet 6 inches tall.

I also don't recall the number of LEGO pieces used, but the Hancock Tower had on the order of 1,000 to 2,000 while the Burj Khalifa had about 40,000 pieces.

The Empire State Building and John Hancock Tower with "WTC 2" and its accompanying picture of "WTC 1" nearby. This was at the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C., 3:43PM, Aug. 22, 2010.

LEGO models of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the Transamerica Pyramid Building in San Francisco, Calf., as displayed at the National Building Museum, 3:45PM, Aug. 22, 2010.

I've seen this building in person and up-close -- I think this model is a bit wider at the base than is the actual building.

LEGO models of Chicago skyscrapers real and never-constructed including the Sears -- now Willis Tower, the never-constructed 7 South Dearborn Tower, and (on a nearby table) the Trump International Hotel and Tower, as exhibited at the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C., 3:46PM, Aug. 22, 2010.

A bunch of little monsters children and their parents in the "hands on" section of the LEGO exhibit at the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C., 3:49PM, Aug. 22, 2010.

I had to buy a ticket for this exhibit -- which I got from my friend K. -- to attend what turned out to be the 3PM showing. I didn't get there until 340PM, but that actually worked out in my favor since all these families and their little children were already at the LEGO tables and not looking at the exhibits.

I had quite a few LEGO sets when I was a child in the 1970s in New Jersey, but they were of houses, not skyscrapers. The most elaborate one I ever had was of the Apollo lunar landing -- except my bull mastiff dog Borky destroyed it one night.

Looking down from 2nd floor of the National Building Museum, Washington, D.C., 3:58PM, Aug. 22, 2010.

Presidential inaugural balls are held in this space, but today it was all little kids and families seeing the LEGO exhibit.

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The leafy crown of an elm tree (not sure the exact type of elm tree), 1600 block, New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., 4:58PM, Aug. 22, 2010.

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Lastly, Kristof is scheduled to return to the U.S. on Tuesday night. He is flying into Dulles Airport from London. I may try to go to the airport, but I'm not sure I can get there. If not, I'll see him on Wednesday. He has been gone since March 3, 2009.

Kristof at Dulles Airport, March 3, 2009.

Baby's comin' home. Finally.

--Regulus

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Group Dinner -OR- Eclipsed Entry

The big group goodbye dinner for David at Otello last night, Washington, D.C., 7:52PM, Aug. 20, 2010.

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This is a socially busy weekend (does that sound pretentious?). This included a big festive group goodbye dinner for David at Otello -- A Taste of Italy restaurant last night -- he is moving to San Francisco as part of a nice job promotion. The dim pictures in this entry were taken at that event.

There were about 20 people there and it was as rowdy as any of our group dinners over the years, meaning thrown drinks by the end of the night and wrestling matches (no, not me). I spent $50.

Here is a REALLY dim and blurry picture of same dinner, 10:27PM, Aug. 20, 2010. Guess it would help if I practiced flash photography.

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Had we collectively not dropped well over a thousand dollars, I think the management would have kicked us out even from the back room where we were. It continued at Phil and S.'s place, where I ended up spending the night.

Karen gives Oliver the dog a hug and kiss. This was later at Phil and S's place.

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I'm home now but I need to trek up to Rockville for a birthday dinner for my office mate D. I plan to update this blog more fully on Sunday evening.

Updated 4:21PM 8/21/2010: Here is a picture of yours truly at the Grosvenor - Strathmore Metro station heading up to Rockville. The first Red Line train ended at Grosvenor, so I had to wait for a Shady Grove-bound one.

Lunch at Gordon Biersch with D and his friends and family was nice. And I think I behaved well -- I didn't manage to get into any dumb political arguments over stupid bullshit. I feel so odd going to big family-themed events such as that, a lost fish out of my gayborhood water.

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By the way, seven years from today is the great solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 that cuts directly across a broad swath of the United States.

Here is a map of that eclipse's path. Assuming I'm still around and functioning in 7 years, I had planned to be at the point of longest duration totality in central Kentucky (near Hopkinsville), but now I'm thinking I may go to the South Carolina coast to watch it.

--Regulus

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Non-Update Update

I had intended to update this blog with my New Jersey seashore pictures but I didn't have a chance to do so tonight.

Here is a picture that Chris T. took of Rock Creek almost in flood stage as seen from the Connecticut Avenue Taft Bridge around 8AM this morning, Aug. 18, 2010.

There was 0.52" of rain at National Airport today.

DCA is STILL 3.59" below normal year to date at 21.21", though it is a bit above for month and season.


BWI is above normal YTD at 27.86" or +1.11" after 0.88" rainfall today, and Dulles (IAD) is almost EXACTLY normal at 26.58" or -0.01" after 1.39" rainfall today, a daily record.

These figures are all through 5PM today.

Anyway, the rain is now over and it's supposed to be frickin' near 95F and humid on Friday. Thereafter, there is a chance of t-storms over the weekend. This effing summer refuses to end.

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Pearls Before Swine, Aug. 17, 2010 (Click on image for larger version)

Pearls Before Swine, Aug. 18, 2010 (Click on image for larger version)


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Another trip image ...

Yours truly on the M.V. Twin Capes ferry heading across the Delaware Bay to New Jersey at dusk, 8:18PM, Aug. 14, 2010.

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OK, I'll try to update this blog tomorrow night.

--Regulus

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back from the Jersey Shore: Interim Update

The gurgling summer surf, Wildwood Crest, N.J., 1:56PM, Aug. 16, 2010.

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I'm back from my beach trip to the Jersey shore in Wildwood Crest and seaside environs.

It was a complicated one that was too short and is now over. Traveling with others, esp. when sharing a motel with them and spending a lot of time together, can be a challenge even with the best of intentions all around.

Yours truly on the beach after swimming in the surf, Wildwood Crest, N.J., 11:34AM, Aug. 15, 2010.

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I have approximately 80 images to post -- although not all of them came out well, so it's more like 65 or so images. I will probably break those up into two separate images.

A couple walking in the surf, Wildwood Crest, N.J., 11:00AM, Aug. 15, 2010.

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I actually got back several hours ago but I updated my Arcturus blog -- and I've reopened it for anybody to visit, at least for now.

Gary at an entrance to the beach (near lifeguard stand no. 9), Wildwood Crest, N.J., 10:42AM, Aug. 16, 2010.

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Right now, though, I'm quite tired and need to get to bed as tomorrow is a regular work day. I'm not particularly happy to be back in shitty D.C., a spiritual black hole if ever there was one. It is supposed to rain tomorrow -- following yet more ongoing 90+F heat and humidity. There is actually a flood watch in effect for the immediate Washington / Baltimore area.

Just one week until Kristof is scheduled to return.

--Regulus