Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Le Voyage dans la Larry's Lounge -OR- Crêpe Chautauqua (UPDATED)

Updated 1130PM 1/31/2012: Please see bottom of entry.

Iconic image from the 1902 movie "Le Voyage dans la lune" ("A Trip to the Moon").

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Tonight sorta got all topsy-turvey, but mostly in a good way. 

I originally intended to stay home and watch the Monday night lineup of of reruns of The Golden Girls on We TV and Frasier on Hallmark Channel ... but then I went to Larry's Lounge to meet Kristof and a new friend (John) for two drinks, and that naturally ended 3+ hours with a festive crowd of regulars. And I learned (from G's French cookbook) what are Crêpe Suzette ...

I then walked home around 11:30PM -- and I think I dodged a mugging involving a car with new tags and young thugs sort of waiting at the corner of Florida Ave. and U Street, NW. Now I could have been totally wrong but I wasn't going to test that hypothesis ... nor have a Chautauqua about diversity and cultural expectations.

Oct. 23, 2010 APOD image of the constellation Orion (here flipped "upright").

Changing subjects, I am now home watching a rerun of The Golden Girls, specifically, Journey to the Center of Attention in which Dorothy sings one of my favorite songs, "What'll I Do?"

Here is the YouTube link.

By the way, the late Margaret Gillespie (Meg) Wyllie was in at least three episodes of The Golden Girls.

Screenshot of Meg Wyllie in The Golden Girls episode "Mother Lode."

She was also in the ORIGINAL PILOT EPISODE of Star Trek: The Original Series as one of the Talosians. I find that amazing. 


However, she never actually spoke (and this episode was never shown in its full and distinct form on televsion until 1988.)  This was a pre-Captain Kirk episode.

Wyllie was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on Feb. 15, 1917 and died Jan. 1, 2002 in Glendale, Calif.

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Changing topics ...

Alas, I did not go back and re-post missing (red X) images -- see previous blog entry for explanation.

Earlier, my work day was quite busy as I am doing two tasks for the Federal client.

Random image: Tropical rainforest on Fatu-Hiva in the Southern Marquesas of the South Pacific.

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OK, that's all for now.

G'night, hippo.

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Updated 11:30PM 1/31/2012:

So tonight I went back through my blog entries tonight all the way to late Aug. 2009 and there was only one missing image I needed to update.

It may be the case that the Blogger 3.bp image directory was simply "off line" for a while and is now back. The first truly missing image I have is in my Aug. 25, 2009 entry and that I one I simply do not have any longer.

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"Oh, the Merry-Go-Round broke down / And it made the darndest sound!"

Alas, Crazy Newt was soundly beaten by Willard Mitt Romney (46.4% to 31.9%) in an election marked by a noticeably lower turnout than in 2008. And mega - multi-millionaire Mitt now apparently believes he is already President-Elect. Jackass. But as Steve Kornacki points out in a his column tonight, Newt's chances will rise and fall on that billionaire casino mogul's money and what the Confederacy masses vote in their GOP primaries in early March.

Of note, some recent polls -- including the notoriously Republican-tilted Rasmussen -- show Obama pulling ahead of Romney in a match up even while his approval has clicked over 50%. As ever, the actual outcome is going to depend heavily on perceptions of how the economy is doing in the 3 to 6 months before the election.

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A couple of Pearls Before Swine strips ...

Jan. 25, 2012 strip -- click for larger version.

Jan. 31, 2012 strip -- click for larger version.

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Weather-wise, it reached 66F at DCA and IAD and 63F at BWI. The IAD number was a daily record high. The January 2012 average temperature at DCA was +4.7F (updated) while BWI and IAD were +5.4F and +4.5F, respectively.

OK, that ends the update. I'm going to try to update the blog tomorrow.  

--Regulus

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On Disappearance and Expiration -OR- The Red X Doesn't Mark the Spot

The molecular cloud of hydrogen gas and dust known as Barnard 68 located about 500 light years away blots out all the stars behind it, creating the impression of a "hole" in space.

This is not only today's APOD but it also is kinda relevant to the topic of this entry.

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I had intended to post a full entry but that is going to have to wait until at least tomorrow (Monday) night. In the meantime, I've discovered a really vexing problem with Blogger: a significant fraction of the images I've posted on this blog stretching back to my first entry are missing, replaced by a black square (outlined in white) with that infernal small red "X" on white background in the upper left corner.

Sorta like this -- NO, in THIS CASE this is not a missing image.

I was going to make this the lead image but then I figured that would be confusing and misunderstood as an actual missing image.

It is particularly acute in some entries and seems to be function of whether the images were uploaded into the 3.bp.blogspot.com image directory. There are at least four such image directories or caches (I'm not sure the proper terminology). These include 1.bp, 2.bp, 3.bp, and 4.bp.


When posting and entry and uploading images, a given image is seemingly randomly assigned to those different directories, so you have no control over the process.

At this point, I've re-uploaded the missing images in entries back to late November and other random ones including an entry from last September of which I am particularly proud because (I believe) so few others have ever remarked upon the topic ...

...namely, the geographical corners of New York City. The entry in question is entitled To the Corners of the Big Apple -OR- New York In Geographical Extremes.

That entry was in particularly bad shape in terms of missing images because so many of them were uploaded to that 3.bp directory.

Re-uploading these images will take some time but I should be able to do this for all of 2011 as I have numerous image directories arranged both chronologically and topically. Earlier then Jan. 2011, though, it starts to get difficult for me to find the originals because I had two different computers and not all the images made it to my current computer. This is especially true for the 2008 - 2009 period.

Late night in my apartment with my faux Tiffany lamp, Washington, D.C., 3:12AM, Jan. 28, 2012.

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I've not really culled through those entries yet to see how bad this problem is although a tentative look shows that there are quite a few missing images. Furthermore, the large missing space is replaced by a much smaller one with a central red X.


Also, I had an especially shitty cellphone camera back then -- the images are almost embarrassingly bad such as this one above of the tiny yard of a row house at 17th and S Streets, NW, Washington, D.C., on a wet evening, April 21, 2008.

This was taken less than a week after I started this blog. Of note, my first entry on this blog was April 15, 2008 -- nearly four years ago!

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As it is, there is a certain inevitability to this process of decaying / disappearing images and there is no guarantee that other directories won't likewise suddenly develop problems.

Indeed, given enough time, all the images on this blog are likely to vanish, although I suspect the blog itself will persist for many years -- long after I have stopped updating it (unless, of course, it is deleted, though I have no intention of doing that with this one).

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Speaking of things disappearing and expiring ... 


My passport expired yesterday 10 years (less 1 day) after it became valid (Jan. 29, 2002), and as I've not started the process to get it renewed, I presently join the mass of Americans -- concentrated in Red States -- who have no passport and therefore cannot legally leave the United States.

A map purporting to show the percentage of residents who are U.S. passport holders by state. This map appeared in March 2011.

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The expiration of this passport marks the end of any connection, so to speak, with my pre-2004 life. As it is, I have 5 years in which I can send in this expired one with new photos and an application plus $110 and get it renewed.

Here is the old Indian Head Test Pattern shown during the sign-off of old broadcast TV back in the 1940s - 1970s.

And with that, I will sign off this entry.

--Regulus

Friday, January 27, 2012

"So what am I to do to keep the sky so blue?" -OR- Prairie Home TV Companion

A blue sky fleeced with turbulent post-frontal clouds as seen above the central fountain at Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., on an unseasonably warm mid-winter morning, 10:27AM, Jan. 27, 2012.

I was walking to the dentist (he's on 19th Street just south of Dupont Circle). As you will note, the sky was exceptionally rain-washed blue in the picture I took this morning. It was also unseasonably mild (around 60F -- see below). I was singing to myself that song Who Will Buy? from the 1968 movie musical Oliver! based on the Dickens' novel Oliver Twist.

The two-lamp lamp post with signs on the south side of Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C., 10:29AM, Jan. 27, 2012.

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I'm exhausted. 

I've been terribly worn out all week and I'm concerned something might be wrong with my health. I'm physically worn out with headaches and just exhausted. Of course, I still went out last night to Larry's Lounge with Damon after a nice dinner at Thai Regent.

This morning I went to the dentist for a six month cleaning and everything was fine from a dental perspective.

The S Street dog park and buildings along 17 Street, NW, directly into the heart of the D.C. gayborhood, Washington, D.C., 10:19AM, Jan. 27, 2012. This was just after the heavy morning rainfall.

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I'm not sure if I'm just tired or if there is a more serious health issue. It may just be that I am not eating properly, even though I'm pudgy (though that is probably from being so sedentary as an office working and drinking too much). I had a banana, tuna fish, and carrots a short while ago -- two food items that have decent nutritional value.

A view of the Swann House bed-and-breakfast place at the corner of New Hampshire Avenue and Swann Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 10:19AM, Jan. 27, 2012.

I remember Wall-P once rattling off in rapid-fire, monosyllabic style how he was going to put his parents up there for a visit.

That's a good son.

And when you earn a HALF GOOGOL (no, not Google) dollars a year, you can do stuff like that. But honestly, I didn't think Wall-P actually had parents. I thought he was just assembled in a factory in Qingdao by one of those people who work 21 hours a day.

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It is a Friday night -- the last one this January -- on a windy but not at all cold night here in D.C. with temps presently around 45F. This followed a brief, drenching, lightning and thundery downpour this morning as a cold front passed through but it is very mild with high temperatures spiking to 62F, 63F, and 64F at DCA, BWI, and IAD, respectively. 

DCA actually had 0.63" of rainfall today, pushing its monthly total to over 2" (2.19" to be exact) but still a tad below (-0.24") the normal of 2.43". BWI had 0.89" and brought its monthly total to 2.54" (-0.10"). IAD only had 0.19" and has a monthly total of 1.85" (-0.45").

The blue sky seen through the winter bare branches of the trees along the 1700 block of New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 10:21AM, Jan. 27, 2012.

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Temperature-wise, DCA was running +3.8F above normal for the month as of yesterday and after today it will probably be at least +4F. BWI was running +4.3F and IAD was +3.6F for the month as of yesterday.

The blue sky seen through the winter bare branches of the trees along the 1800 block of New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 10:21AM, Jan. 27, 2012.

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Snow-wise, we've had about 2" of snowfall this month (1.7" at DCA, at 1.3" BWI, and at 1.7" IAD). For the season, all three climate stations are well below normal (-5.8", -7.8", and -7.8"). Of note, IAD's seasonal total is 2.3".

Long story short, there is no real winter weather going on here or across most of the United States and I don't expect much this year given the upper level pattern (with more than a dash thrown in of the steady progression of climate change).

This is also a "typical" winter of the past 30 years or so.

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Anyway, tonight I am doing my laundry (in the basement laundry room) while watching TV in my wee little apartment.


I'm watching TV -- presently, a particularly annoying episode of Little House on the Prairie. It's a two-part episode "Gold Country" where the Ingalls and that weird guy Isaiah Edwards and his wife, Grace, played by Bonnie Bartlett, leave Walnut Grove (in Minnesota) due to flooding rains and head west to the Dakota Territory to join a gold rush -- with predictable results.

Let me just go off on a brief tangent:

Fuck gold.

I hate all it represents from 15th Century Spanish conquistador New World genocide to 19th Century American-style boom/bust deflationary economics, rapaciousness, and violence, to the fiscal straitjacket its monetary "standard" embodies.

Needless to say, all of this benefits the corporate oligarchical / rentier overclass. And naturally, this is why today's GOP overclass loves gold and the gold standard (and its equivalent, Federal balanced budget requirements). And this is why it whips its fundie base into a frenzy with all that "DOLLAR TO COLLAPSE! BUY GOLD NOW!" bullshit advertised so much on rightwing cable TV and AM hate radio.

Speaking of Little House on the Prairie, about two weeks ago I was trying to find the exact location of the biggest of the three trees in the opening title shot of Little House on the Prairie TV series, and to figure out if that tree still exists.

Screenshot from the YouTube clip mentioned discussed below. 

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During the course of my search, I found two YouTube clips of a visit on April 14, 2010 to the Big Sky Ranch near Simi Valley, specifically, to the site where the TV show was predominately filmed during its 1974 - 1982 run. The tour guide for the trip was none other than Alison Arngrim, who played the unforgettable Nellie Oleson. She took the guy filming the visit and four other friends there that day.

Of note, Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder, the woman who actually wrote the Little House book series that decades later became the basis for the show, had a daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, who helped her mother write the series.

Here is a screen shot from part 1 of the YouTube clip showing "The Hill" in the opening as it appears today, except the opening title scene superimposed over it.

Needless to say, it should be pointed out that Walnut Grove was supposed to be in western Minnesota but the Big Sky Ranch is located in a much drier climate and a hillier / rugged terrain of the Santa Susana Mountain range of Southern California with chaparral scrub and oak trees.

As for Lane, she was was a hard-core libertarian who in the 1940s with the Head She-Libertarian Devil Herself Alisa Rosenbaum Ayn Rand helped "to found" that movement, which itself is a grotesque distortion of actual freedom based on absurd, unworkable, silly, and ultimately fascist precepts ("I'M ÜBERMENSCH! EVERYONE ELSE IS A PARASITE!")

Lane obsessed about the evils of Social Security back in the 1940s. Silly bitch.

Anyway, here are the clips of that "Back to Walnut Grove" YouTube visit.

Part 1: Back to Walnut Grove

Part 2: Back to Walnut Grove

Two other items:

Apparently the person "Lindsay Sidney Greenbush" -- the name listed in the opening credits as the person who played the youngest daughter Carrie Ingalls -- was actually TWO people, the twin sisters Rachel Lindsay AND Robin Sidney and their last name is really Bush, not Greenbush.

Jonathan Gilbert, who was in every season of the show's 8 year run from 1974 - 1982, is the adopted brother of Melissa Gilbert, the star of the show, and both were adopted by the same parents. I tried to find what Jonathan Gilbert looks like today but could not.

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Brief Political Detour ...

One political item:

Alas, it looks like the wheels are again coming off the Newt Gingrich Crazy Train and the GOP Death Star is getting its fundie "base" to back Willard Mitt Romney, a living caricature of the parasitic, rentier 1% Overclass.

Crazy Newt is probably going to do badly in the Florida GOP primary, and that's a shame. As Paul Krugman noted, it was fun while it lasted.


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OK, that's all for now.

I'm still home right now (it's about quarter after ten PM as I write this) and don't really fell like going anywhere tonight, although I suppose I'll go out for a bit. Right now on Planet Green is the interesting show Inside the Bermuda Triangle. But I'll refrain from starting a post about THAT topic.

I plan to update this blog over the weekend.


--Regulus

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Green, Yellow, Red and Pink Lights in the City Night

Updated 11:45PM 1/25/2012: See bottom of entry.

A semi-blurry bevy of green traffic lights at the confusing intersection of Q St., 18th St., and New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., on a drizzly - damp "soft city" early night, 7:20PM, Jan. 23, 2012.

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I had intended a big update tonight but I got bogged down doing some work-related assignments (editing reports) and then I was distracted by watching Obama's State of the Union address. Overall, I thought it was a forceful speech of the sort he should have given three years ago, but better late than never unchallenged and unchecked GOP crazy.

I had intended to post those Patrick Smith pieces I have mentioned in my recent entries.However, at this point it is almost 10:30PM as I begin this entry and therefore it is must too late.

I've been quite busy at work the past two days.

Another even blurrier image of the same intersection, the traffic signals at red, yellow, and green, Washington, D.C., 7:21PM, Jan. 23, 2012.

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Just one tidbit ...

I saw one of the key members of the 17th Street gay mafia on Sunday night at Nellie's ...

No, not Oooza the Unloved Crow Creature.

Rather, the turkey vulture with the voice of a shrieking peacock was there and had the goddamn nerve to say hello me me.

Here he is, the gay turkey vulture, or in similar manner to "Son of Sam," "Son of Oooza," a.k.a. "Little P'Oooza."

Go away, you vicious gay turkey vulture. Fly back to your 17th Street gay rookery with your crow and duck business associates, the Capo(regime) and the Consigliere, respectively.

"Quere quare my quips?? Quack! Quack!"

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Looking up into the night sky ... 

The night sky centered on Orion (the Hunter) and its nearby constellations including Canis Major (Big Dog), Canis Minor (Little Dog), Monoceros (the Unicorn), Gemini (the Twins), (two-headed) Hydra (Sea Serpent), Cancer (the Crab), and Leo (the Lion), as seen over Teide National Park on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. This was the Jan. 23, 2012 APOD (scroll cursor over the image for labels).

Click for a larger, legible version. You can see these constellations sketched in and some of the larger stars -- Betelgeuse, Rigel, Sirius, Procyon, Castor, Pollux, and, yes, Regulus -- labeled. 

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OK, that's all for now. I am going to try to update this blog tomorrow night.

Updated 11:45PM 1/25/2012: I had planned to post a new entry tonight, but I simply didn't get a chance. 

I've been watching some very funny Frasier episode reruns on TV Land tonight. The show's 1996 season was its sustained best. Kristof and I were texting each other about it through multiple episodes, especially "The Impossible Dream."

OK, that really is all for now. 

My next planned update will be on Friday night or Saturday as I am not planning on bringing my lap top home tomorrow night but have other after work plans.

--Regulus

Saturday, January 21, 2012

On Twin Peaks, Ghost Towns, and Cities of White, Gold, and Green

A lone cylindrical (water?) tower with a whimsical message painted on its side stands sentinel outside the ghost town of Montgomery City, California near the Nevada border in a rugged and rain shadowed land. I found this image on Flickr.

Montgomery City is located near the far more famous and well-preserved California 19th gold mining era ghost town of Bodie. It is also located just west of Boundary Peak (pictured at left), the 13,140 foot* mountain that is the highest point in the State of Nevada and that also straddles the California border.

*This is an approximate height. I have found numbers ranging from 13,141' to 13,147' elevation. Also, Boundary Peak is probably a sub-peak off of somewhat higher Montgomery Peak located in California.

Indeed, here is a picture of Boundary and Montgomery Peaks -- I'm not sure which is which -- but they are essentially the same mountain with Boundary Peak a sub-peak off of Montgomery Peak.

About 100 miles to the southwest in the rugged, arid wastes of the Nevada high desert is the semi-ghost town of Scotty's Junction. It is located at the western edge of the sprawling Nellis Air Force Base with its Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR) -- formerly the Nellis Air Force Range and home to the UFO-enthusiasts' fabled "Area 51" (Groom Lake).

Abandoned ruins around Scotty's Junction, Nevada.

Scotty's Junction really doesn't have much of a population. It is located about 16 miles south of the actual town of Beatty, Nevada, which has a population of approximately 1,000.

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Never Ending Blog Entry ...

I started this entry yesterday evening and worked on it in the wee hours of this morning (3AM - 5AM) after I got home from a Friday night Nellie's trip, but I was too tired and I'm trying to finish it now. I have not, not, not forgotten my planned entry of excerpts of Salon writer Patrick Smith's recent pieces -- indeed, I am planning to add another literary quality third one (despite the title):Who needs UFOs?.

However, I need to relate some other items in this entry ...

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In Memoriam

My friend LP's mom (B.) passed away early Friday (yesterday) morning at a hospital in suburban Maryland after years of prolonged bouts of illness and poor health.

She was 83 years old.

B. was born and raised in England and was there during World War II before coming to America in the 1940s with LP's dad, who was a World War II vet and who is originally from the D.C. area.

A picture from a visit that LP and I took to the Glenwood Cemetery here in Washington, D.C., last summer on July 10, 2011.

I never met her -- indeed, I've never met any of LP's family in the 10 years or so I've known him, but this is not the time or place to go into it. As it is, the funeral will likely just be for the family.

I actually need to call LP -- understandably his phone was off yesterday but I've not made enough of an effort to reach him.

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In Memoriam (Part II)

In addition, Etta James died yesterday. She was 73. Here is her obituary.

Here she is about five years ago singing her signature song At Last. This YouTube clip occasionally stalls.

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Washington & Washington Weather

Last night there was a semi-significant winter weather event here in the D.C. area with a mixed bag of precipitation starting with a period of moderate snow followed by sleet and freezing rain.

Here is a map from the Sterling LWX NWS web page showing the advisories as of about 9PM EST last night.

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This was the 10PM Jan. 20, 2012 automated snow forecast for the region that more or less verified.

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There was on average 0.5" to 2 inches of slushy snow area-wide even as surface temps flirted with the freezing mark, so the ground was quite slushy with puddles. This was followed by some freezing rain that coated things, esp. metal surfaces, in a light sheen of granular-feeling ice.

Here are some views from earlier tonight while walking east on U Street, NW, from 16th to 9th (i.e., from my place to Nellie's).

Snowy night in the city of electric dreams, 14th and U Streets, NW, Washington, D.C., 11:32PM, Jan. 20, 2012.

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Snowy night on the U Street Corridor,, 13th and U Streets, NW, Washington, D.C., 11:35PM, Jan. 20, 2012.

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Snowy night, 12th and U Streets, NW, Washington, D.C., 11:37PM, Jan. 20, 2012.

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The view from the eastern edge of the upstairs deck at Nellie's on a snowy night looking east at Florida Avenue, NW, as it runs "diagonal" off of U Street (which sort of dead ends here for a period), Washington, D.C., 1:10PM, Jan. 21, 2012.

The "Ananda Corporation" sign that I mentioned in my Jan. 15th entry is visible just above the green traffic light, the "I" in "Corporation" still blown out.

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As for snowfall amounts, as I said, there on average 0.5" to 2.0" -- REGARDLESS of what is the "official" Washington, D.C., measurement at Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), location of a snow board that doubles as Satan's hot plate.

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Speaking of snow, it did just that in Seattle, Washington this past week ...

... the heaviest snowstorm since November 1985 (at least as measured at Sea-Tac International Airport) hit the Seattle / Puget Sound area this past week. Officially at Sea-Tac, 9.6" fell between Jan. 15th and 19th, 2012 while Olympia received 14.2" of snow.

The rare sight of shovel-able snow on the ground outside the Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle, Jan. 18, 2012.

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Having lived in Seattle one rainy winter, and more generally having paid attention to the weather for many years, I can tell you that MASSIVE amounts of snow (as in dozens of feet of snow) fall in the Cascades and even the Olympic Mountains.

Aerial view of snow-blanketed mighty Mount Rainier at sunset.

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The Paradise Ranger Station on the southern flank of Mount Rainier at about 5,400 feet gets on average 641 inches -- that's 53.4 FEET / 16.3 meters -- of snow a year and in one year recorded what was for a while the PLANET EARTH-WIDE RECORD at 1,122 inches (93.5 feet / 28.5 meters / 9 stories) of snow (1971 - 1972).

But it is rare for the snow level to drop to sea level (1,500' to 2,000' elevation is the usual lower limit) simply because the air off the Pacific is too warm at that latitude. In fact, Sea-Tac Airport gets on average 5.9" of snow per year (based on the 1981 - 2010 30-year average).

Things are now back to normal with temps above freezing and winter time rain, rain, rain in the forecast ...

The NWS forecast panel for the grid-point forecast of downtown Seattle issued last night and valid for Jan. 20 - Jan. 24, 2012. 

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Political Update ...

Today is the South Carolina Crazy House GOP primary and I am really hoping that the suddenly resurgent megalomaniac Newt Gingrich wins over the corporate sociopath multi-millionaire Willard Mitt Romney.


I loved Gingrich's John King smack down at the debate last night -- even if it is from Gingrich, the man who invented post-modern era slash-and-burn politics of personal destruction. King is a useless media sort (the TV version of The Washington Post editorial board and the other "pearl clutchers"). Doofus King gave Gingrich such an opening -- may have helped him to win South Carolina, especially since no one does chimerical liberal media victimization / grievance better than the rightwing fundie base of the Southern neo-Confederate GOP.


As for Willard Mitt Romney -- Mr. "Carried Interest" Multi-Millionaire -- I'm not sure if he's more of a clueless dope, someone's dark parody of "The Man," or just a fraudulent shell encasing a sociopath.


Building on what others wrote, Ed Schultz had a funny satirical segment on his show last night about Romney's claim to be "someone who has lived in the real streets of America" --asking the street in front of which multi-million dollar beach side mansion, alpine resort, or secluded woodsy villa that would be??

This is the same Mitt the Idiot who variously has declared during these times of chronic high unemployment, economic anxiety, and general distress, "Corporations are people" ... "$10,000 bet?" ... "I like being able to fire people."


Unlike his dad, this Romney probably can't release his tax returns, or at least not multiple years' worth -- otherwise everyone across the political spectrum would be hit over the head with the fact that Romney likely doesn't even pay at the 15% capital gains tax rate but probably closer to ZERO thanks to his Cayman Island / offshore tax dodging games.

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Notes from the Department of I-Hate-Mark-Wahlberg

Delusional Mark Wahlberg Fantasizes About Being 9/11 Action Movie Hero


Mark Wahlberg managed to out jackass even himself by his vulgar and silly comments about how the 9/11 attacks would have been (partially) avoided because he would have single-handedly taken down the hijackers and then safely landed the jet. This outburst during an interview prompted because Wahlberg was supposed to be on one of the flights that crashed into the World Trade Center but was not.


Wahlberg, a 4'2" tall combo action figure doll, made the comments to Men's Health for its February 2012 edition, and has since wisely apologized (for career purposes), although he is also now blaming the reporter.


Mr. "Say Hello to Your Mother For Me" reminds me a bit of Wall-P in that he has to stand on a highchair to see over a lectern yet manages to exude a searing arrogance and whose erect posture reminds me of one of those big male kangaroos in Australia -- such as this male Eastern Grey Kangaroo pictured at left -- chest all puffed out.

And even if the reporter "set him up," it doesn't matter -- Markie Mark Wahlberg is just fun to hate on.

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From the Department of Let the American Eagle Soar

I received in the mail yesterday my W-2 form for 2011 income and I earned ... drum roll ... $59,632.87 in 2011 as listed in box 1 (wages), or alternatively, $60,050.35 in 2011 as listed on box 3 (Social Security taxable wages). The difference has to do with a medical flexible spending account we have. 

Either way, this is actually the most I've ever earned and compares as follows to recent years:

2011: $60,050 (rounded)
2010: $43,093 (tax return AGI, rounded)
2009: $12,430
2008: $28,874
2007: $49 (yes, $49)
2006: $10,348
2005: $14,062
2004: $12,531
2003: $45,911
2002: $40,110
2001: $12,314
2000: $6,244

1999: $5,729
1998: $22,076

1997: $6,836
1996: $1,088
1995: $944
1994: $1,111
1993: $1,131
1992: $708
1991: $2,069
1990: $209
1989: $1,771
1988: $270
1987: $386
1986: $1,823


1986 - 2011 Income Total: $332,167

Figures for 1986 - 2009 are from my annual Social Security earnings statement.


Of note, 2011 is the first year since 2008 that it does not include ANY nightmare 1099 "independent contractor" income from the Tokyo turkey farm in Bethesda, an intellectual sweat shop engaged in a sort of low-rent, cheap corporate espionage where I worked as a regular job in 2008 and then switched to an independent contractor in 2009 and finally ended there in 2010 when I got my present job.

Looking at my income, well may you ask how did I live for the 2000s and 1990s?

Yes, you may ask.

For starters, his is why I have $224,000 in student loan debt -- having been profoundly stupidly, if not outright mentally retarded-wise, in school for THREE masters degree program -- plus $40,000 in discharged credit card debt in 2002 and another $10,000 or so in credit card debt (on which I have settled wholly or in part on four of the five debts and is down to about $6,200 including one unresolved amount of $3,100) plus a final $4,000 I owe to LP.

Adding it all together comes to about $278,000 on top of the combined $332,167 or $613,167. In addition, I was not actually living on my own until about 1992, so you can subtract out those years.

And there you have it. Oh, and for you vicious, self-righteous, libertarian types, I've been totally supporting myself with just my income and no additional debt for the past 3 years.

Yeah, yeah, I know -- frickin' Wall-P earns this ENTIRE amount in one year, and You-Know-Who was given that much in tips in about five years' time, maybe less.

Actually, one of the reasons I have such Wall-P antipathy was his vicious reaction to my turkey farm job situation back in 2008 / 2009. I worked every bit as hard as his corporate legal yes-men self and earned one-tenth the amount, and at a dinner once all he could do was spew in that rapid-fire monosyllabic, know - it - all way about why I needed to stay.

#######

Rent Control

Lastly, my new 2012 rent figure -- for the period March 2012 - February 2013 -- arrived today (on the same day as my W-2 form), and it increased by $40 corresponding to a 2.2% CPI for the rent control period May 1, 2011 - April 30, 2012 plus the extra 2.0% or 4.2%.

This brings my rent from the current $1,014 to $1,054 -- not that bad. 

Plus it covers all utilities, and I am fairly centrally located within a half mile of Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.

OK, that really is all. My next planned update will be on Monday or Tuesday.

--Regulus