Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve 2000 and 2015 in the Imperial Capital: The Washington Consensus Then & Now

Fireworks ring in 2015 over the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, January 1, 2015.

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As usual, Sydney isn't just one of the first major cities to ring in the New Year, it also puts on put on one of the best New Year's Eve shows on Planet Earth.

More fireworks over the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge to ring in 2015.

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Sydney does so every year along with some of those other cities in the Far East such as Hong Kong with their 23rd Century-like skylines ...

New Year's Eve 2015, Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong.

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Yes, yes, I know, I know ... New York City has what is the "canonical" ball-dropping event at Times Square.

Among the lamest of New Year's Eve celebrations for a major world city in terms of anything inspirational on the scale of Sydney, Hong Kong, New York, or London is right here in Washington, D.C. Indeed, there usually are no "official" celebrations and instead it's just another any other raucous, drunken Friday night in Adams Morgan or along the U Street Corridor (or, for another part of the city I seldom visit but is worth noting), H Street NE.

In short, Washington, D.C., doesn't really "do" New Year's Eve. It's big event is, of course, July 4th plus Memorial Day and Veterans Day military-themed holidays. And on a personal note, I'm just not that into New Year's Eve because it means a new frickin' year is starting and to have to get through.

Furthermore, I have NEVER gotten over -- and, indeed, never will get over -- the Great Disappointment of New Year's Eve 2000 when the city and the Feds put on THE lamest, THE most pathetic, THE most worthless celebration and fireworks display with the latter shot off the then-scaffolding covered Washington Monument. If the purpose was to inspire anyone, then it was criminally negligent.

This was all the more galling and unforgiveable given D.C.'s status at the time as Seat of Human Empire at the precise Dawn of the Third Millennium.*


*Please spare me the "it was really 2001" thing; I know, I know -- there was no frickin' year Zero, except with the Khmer Rouge. They kept time with skulls.

Whether it was the National Park Service or some combination of Federal and D.C. local government committees, it was pathetic and awful and a pox on whatever "Very Serious Persons" put it together.

January 1, 2000 was still in the pre-9/11 world of the ever-metastasizing military-surveillance-torture state had yet to come into existence in their full grotesqueries.

It was just months away from the media-facilitated 2000 election travesty that ended with the "Scalia 5" Supreme Court coup and the world-rending historical tragedy of George W. Bush. It's hard to ponder all the people who needlessly died in Iraq and all the trillions looted ultimately because of that brilliant legal mind nasty and hateful little troll.

It was also at the tail end of the heights (depths) of the "Washington Consensus" bullshit period.

Fred Hiatt then, as now, was ringmaster of all the "Gang of 500" awfulness, but the members and their emphases were somewhat different.For instance, James "Dow 36 Billion" Glassman was still taken seriously. And neo-conservative warmongering had not reached full heights of Dick Cheney malevolency and calamity.

Back then, it was the period when Benji Wittes and Sebastian Mallaby were two of the half dozen or so "Apologist Voices" of the WaHoPo editorial board and its corporate oligarchical paradigm.

Today, except for Fred Hiatt and his sidekick Jackson Diehl, the board members are all different and include Jo-Ann "Cat Woman" Armao and Lee Hockstader. Wittes and Mallaby are both ensconced in suitable think tanks.

In Wittes' case, he is the yapping lap dog of the military - industrial -surveillance state, singing morally dreadful praises to "droning" anyone deemed an "enemy combatant" and outright bizarre ones to the Guantanamo Bay detention complex as a "model facility."

Back then, we were still on the Monica's Dress high thanks to Bill Clinton's hyper-sexual appetites and the moral unctuousness of Sally Quinn and Cokie Roberts. (For his part, Benji Wittes was huge on Monica's Dress and supportive of the GOP impeachment farce.)

In short, many of these characters of the Washington Consensus Imperial Court are still around in 1,500 15 years later but with slightly different "branding" -- except in the odd case of Glassman.


OK, that's all for now. I thought I was in a better mood than I am.

I'm working from home today but going to head out around 5PM to take the Metro to Rockville to meet DD and his wife and two young children for dinner. I'll head back into the city in time for midnight, but New Year's Eve just never really does it for me.


I'm not going to be able to get to the gym probably until Saturday, which kind of sucks. I'm not doing anyone a favor and becoming a doughy pudgy ball of gelatinous-osity.

I still need to post -- and will post -- the second half of my Buffalo trip pictures.

--Regulus

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Out With the 40-Something Aged and In With "Reagan's" (Possible) New Year's 2015 Layoff ...

Interior of St. Dominic Catholic Church in the "forgotten" Southwest quadrant of Washington, D.C. 2:11PM December 30, 2014.

This is near where I work. The whooshing sound of I-395 right next to the church makes it quite evocative.

*******

OK, I'm in a bad mood right now and a little drunk. However, I am posting this entry because I am going back out to Larry's Lounge, and when I get back, I'll probably just need to go to sleep.

As for tomorrow, I am hoping to work from home, although I'll go into the office if need be. I'm just waiting for an OK on that.

Concerning work, for very complicated reasons I daren't go into but that don't involve me and over which I have no control, things have blown up and I suddenly run the risk of being laid off -- even if temporarily -- in January.

At this point, I really just need to find a new job rather than have this keep happening -- and I say that even though I really and truly like the job I have and the people with whom I work, and acknowledging the fact that there is a real effort by others to keep me working in a way that isn't a cost liability to the contracting company.


Now PLEASE ... to the Unctuous Amongst Us, please don't view what I just wrote as a warmly-chuckling "good thing" because it shows in how "HE" allegedly runs the Universe. I find that morally offensive and ethically ugly no matter what ones thinks I "deserve" or how much "GOD is awesome." I HATE that brand of evangelical American Christianity. It's offensive and if anyone spouts it at me, any relationship is over.

The view from the corner of 13th Street and Massachusetts Ave. NW looking south (along 13th Street), Washington, D.C., 6:27PM December 30, 2014.

I love cold winter nights in D.C. when I can walk around all bundled up.

*******

I left work and went No. 9 via Metro Center, where I got off the Metro in order to go to the Bank of America ATM. However, I first stopped at a Thai and sushi restaurant on 14th Street near Thomas Circle (not to mention right next to the absurdly anachronistic and ridiculous Crew Club) called Teak Wood.

It is a dark and evocative and broody place -- everything I like. It also had an incredible $3 to $6 food and drink happy hour up to and including decent-sized portions and Cosmo-tini drinks and Brut champagne. I'm going to be going there again.

I then went to No. 9, where there was a crowd of young people in their 20s and 30s. I managed to stand in the midst of a particularly large group of Millennials including two girls who were not familiar with No. 9. One of the two hadn't been there before.

She was a lovely blond girl about 23 in a Polka dot dress who initially talked about a trip to Saudi Arabia and sleeping in a room with nine people including two others on an air mattress (not sure if THAT was in Saudi Arabia). Then she said her name was "Reagan" and she lived in Capitol Hill.

How D.C. is that??

(OK, perhaps she spells it "Regan".)

Her young gay male friend said something about "40 being middle aged" and, a few minutes later, she said of someone (with emphasis on the "ED" part), "He's aged, like 47..."

I then said to them, "Wow. I'm glad to know I only have two years to go until I'm AGED."

She smiled in an embarrassed way and moved a few feet farther way. Eventually, that group left to do whatever it is that groups such as that do.

There was another big, tall, young guy named John N. -- he was about 6'5" and just expansive, though not fat -- and I spoke to him briefly as he was waiting for a drink from bartender Eric. He said he could see how Eric is an ER nurse in his regular job based on the attention to detail he pays and how he is unhappy when he doesn't get something right.

In his delivery of other observations of people, though, John was kind of a comedian.


Finally, I spoke to another tall, slender guy named Jacob who came up to order a drink. Long story short, after we swapped recent trip stories, and he said he was recently in Iceland and deeply disappointed that in five days, he didn't see the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) even once. To that, I replied, "Well, substitute 'snow' for 'Northern Lights' and 'Buffalo' for 'Iceland' and you know how I felt on my trip."

That made him laugh.

OK, that's all for now. This may very well be my last entry of 2014. Tomorrow night, I am meeting DD and his wonderful wife and two wonderful young children for dinner in Rockville (the town center area). I will then come back into D.C. via the Metro and perhaps go to Larry's Lounge.

And if I'm really lucky, I can look forward to not being laid off in early 2015.

GO BUSH! GO WASHINGTON CONSENSUS! USA #1!

Oh, yes, I still need to post those Buffalo trip pictures (second part). I am going to try to do that on New Year's Day.

However, if it never in fact happens, well, now you know.

--Regulus

Monday, December 29, 2014

Back Home in Snowless D.C. and More Larry's Lounge La Cage Aux Argumentative Folles

I'm back from my totally snowless Buffalo Christmas time vacation with Gary.* I intend to post the pictures in my next entry that I shall attempt to compose tonight.

*I am EXCLUDING the snow flurries that were falling while we were on the jet still on the tarmac at the airport as we were leaving.

That was just God being humorous. Or ironic.

As a brief update, I arrived at National Airport early by 12:30PM (a full half hour early). Gary and I had lunch at Sam & Harry's at the airport and then we rode the Metro to our respective destinations.

Overcast day view of the Potomac River and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge -- not to mention the little Jones Point Lighthouse where is the South Cornerstone of the original District of Columbia -- on final descendent into National Airport, 12:24PM December 29, 2014. Naturally, it was the upriver approach.

*******

I was home by about 2:20PM and thankfully the water was one (it was scheduled to be out for another toilet replacement in my "stack"). After doing some financials with my daily Excel spreadsheet files -- made it to the gym onto the treadmill by 3:27PM.

I then had a full gym workout including a 6.33 mile jog (plus cool-down that bumped it up to 6.55 miles), an hour of light-to-moderate weight-lifting, and a 15 minute swim. I came home, made dinner, and then went to Larry's Lounge, where I met Kristof.

However, it was bartender Dominik's 30th birthday and he arrived with a full entourage plus all the people waiting for him, so the place became quite crowded. I was not included in the bar-round of shots (although I really didn't make my presence known) and instead talked to Dave J.

Dave is one of those people -- like my friends Chester and Nick -- who make me happy whenever I see them even if his plans and stories never quite seem to fruition. I also spoke to this guy Dan who is friends with Dominik who was in the Navy.

View of Old Town Alexandria on final approach into Reagan Washington National Airport, 12:25PM December 29, 2014. Again, alas, it was the upriver approach.

*******

For the remainder of this entry, I would like to recount a Larry's Lounge episode tonight with a guy -- whose name I can never remember, even though I have known him as an acquaintance for years and who seems to like me in some way (he is also a devoted caregiver to an elderly man) -- who decided to challenge, pooh-pooh, interrupt, and in general try to know-it-all dismiss me when I explained why I went to Buffalo to see snow, specifically, why we don't get that much "winter wonderland" of snow here in Washington, D.C., and immediate environs.

Headline of The Washington Post on the blizzard-induced Knickerbocker Theatre roof collapse on January 29, 1922. This storm stands -- and will likely forever stand -- as the greatest single snowfall event (28.0 inches) in D.C. (This "Knickerbocker Storm" is in the pre-National Airport weather record period for Washington, D.C.)

*******

The D.C. snow discussion followed my attempt to explain the details of typical major lake effect snow events in the Buffalo area and the massive snow gradients that can and do there such as last month.

It was immediately obvious he doesn't like snow. But then he tried to dismiss what I was saying.

It ended thusly:

Me: "Typically, when it snows here, it is slushy and near freezing."

Annoying Man: "You're just wrong. It snows here at 15F and stays cold."
 
Me: "If it is that cold, almost invariably it warms up within a couple days."

Annoying Man: "No, you're wrong. It stays cold here. I've seen it."

Me: "I've lived in D.C. for 22 years. I know the weather here."

Annoying Man: "I've lived here for 55 years."

Me: "And I have a frickin' Masters degree in meteorology, and I know the weather here. And this conversion is over."

Annoying Man: "Why are you getting so upset?"

Me: "Because this conversation is annoying."

What I should have said more specifically is as follows:

"First, because you started talking to me when I didn't really want to talk to you. You specifically asked me how I was. I then tried to engage you in a conversation on something of current interest to me. However, it turns out that you are one of those people who, rather than just listening politely to what someone is saying on an innocuous topic about which you clearly do not know much and, heaven forfend, perhaps learning a little bit, try to tear apart in pointillistic fashion every FRICKIN' idea that someone raises. And you did it in a know-it-all fashion on a topic that, well, actually I DO know  FAR more than you. In short, your style of discussion is to be a belittling jackass -- true, a low key one and not a hothead -- but a jackass nonetheless, and I'm not going to waste my time and energy with you on this topic."

I guess it wouldn't be a night at Larry's Lounge without something annoying.

Since I'm talking about snow ...

... here is the current, very unusual-looking San Diego NWS Forecast Office (SGX) home page showing advisories in effect as of 7:09PM PST December 29, 2014 in response to a forecasted cold-core low pressure system expected to bring coastal and valley rains and accumulating snows to southern California Tuesday into Wednesday.

*******

Oh, yes, Dominik's birthday was a shit-ton better than my 30th birthday way back in November 1999.

OK, now I'm going to try to post those remaining Buffalo pictures. However, it is rather late and I am tired, and tomorrow is a regular work day. (It will be nice to be back in my own bed with my fan whirling away.) OTOH, I know if I don't get it done immediately, I will never post them.  

--Regulus

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Snowless But Otherwise So Far Enjoyable Time in Buffalo: My Photo-Essay Recap

My Buffalo "white Christmas" ...

Yours truly atop an old, dirty pile of snow (with a fortuitously placed parking lot fee sign) right near the Hyatt Regency, Buffalo, N.Y., 2:33PM December 25, 2014.

*******


OK, as a "follow-up" to my last entry, I made it to Buffalo with Gary, and even though it is totally snowless here with mostly sunny skies today and temps around 43F, we are still having a nice time.

I am posting this entry from one of the two computers in the "Business Center" of the Hyatt Regency Buffalo / Hotel and Conference Center where we are staying. I had intended to post these when I returned in a full entry but this particular "briefest of updates" sort of metastasized -- as my entries always do -- into nearly that complete entry.

Downtown Buffalo with its light rail "Buffalo Metro Rail" line running along a deserted Main Street on Christmas day, 1:27PM December 25, 2014.

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As a recap, I got to National Airport quickly on the Metro and somehow -- because I was so late -- I managed to cut in line in front of dozens of people courtesy the TSA guy. I felt quite awkward about that. (To be clear, I thought the flight was 10:48AM but it was actually 10:30AM, although in fact it would not take off until nearly 11:20AM.)

Going through security was a pain the ass because, once again, TSA selected me and went through my green duffle bag and nabbed my shaving cream. However, the heavy set black woman did not take my $12 little tube of American Crew pomade, which would have really sucked. I had to get on a standing-room-only shuttle to be ferried out to a spot on the tarmac where the small jet was parked. Then we had to wait 10 minutes because the crew wasn't there. Finally, the jet took off at least 40 minutes late.

A view of Arlington seconds after takeoff from Reagan Washington National Airport, 11:16AM December 25, 2014.

******

The US Airways jet did the upriver takeoff but I was scrunched into a little seat on that small jet on the left side, so all I saw was the frickin' Virginia side.

Screw Virginia.

The flight was fast, which was good because there was a young Indian couple directly behind me with a 2-year intermittently crying and frequently kicking my seat. OF COURSE.

"Up, up, and away, my beautiful ...": The view from the jet shortly after takeoff from National Airport and already above the broken stratocumulus cloud deck, 11:23AM December 25, 2014.

*******

We arrived in cloudy, windy Buffalo with temps around 39F. We took a local bus from the airport along Genesee Street so I got to see the less-than-picturesque side of Buffalo. However, the bus driver was very helpful -- even after he asked us where we were going and Gary told him the Hyatt Regency.

The snow-free view south of Buffalo during the final descent into Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, 12:04PM December 25, 2014.

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We checked into the hotel, checked out a few things including the gym and 11th floor pool, and then walked to nearby Allentown. We walked for about an hour and long story short, EVERYTHING was TOTALLY CLOSED on Christmas Day.

Yours truly at a bus stop at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, in Buffalo, or actually, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 12:31PM December 25, 2014.

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The sprawling Mount Calvary Cemetery seen from along Genesee Street, Cheektowaga, N.Y., on a very NOT snowy Christmas day, 1:06PM December 25, 2014.

This cemetery is one of five in the "Mount Calvary Cemetery Group" that occupies a significant stretch of land on the east-northeast side of Buffalo between Genesee Street and Kensington Avenue.

*******

Absolutely NO restaurant or bar was opened (except for this one really scuzzy dive whose name I can't recall called, at least informally, "The Pink"). We ended up back at the Hyatt and went to the Atrium Bar in the lobby / atrium that connects to another restaurant (not the big E.B. Green's Steakhouse). There ensued a nearly 4 hour stint there talking to the following people ...

First, there was the bartender Angela, who is from Canada but has dual citizenship and quite the diverse educational background and interests. She also is a big fan of Washington, D.C., she said.

View from the #24 bus riding along Genesee Street, Buffalo, N.Y., 1:23PM December 25, 2014.
 
This is a kind of vapid and run-down section of Buffalo of the sort the city does not lack. I am unsure of the cross street in this picture. 

*******

Secondly, there was interesting woman (named Diania) with feathered white hair and wearing a pastel green shirt and white slacks. Gary started talking to her. She had come into the city from nearby Amherst and told us about her two sons (one of whom is Iranian because his father was) and her other family including her mom, who she said has been married a Mickey Rooney / Larry King-level 8 times).

The 102-year old General Electric Tower in downtown Buffalo, N.Y., 1:26PM December 25, 2014. The Guardian of All Knowledge, Wikipedia, tells me it is in the Beaux-Arts Classical Revival style.

Updated 4:30PM 12/27/2014: So the story is that construction on the tower began a number of years earlier -- the Electric Tower was already standing, in part, in 1901, based upon a picture in one of the elevators here in the hotel -- but it was not finished and formally opened until 1912.

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Thirdly, a guy named Sean who worked for seven months on a "mega-yacht" (or "super-yacht") called the Double Haven (apparently jokingly called by its crew the "Slave Haven") on a trip from Mexico to Tahiti and how it was not like the reality TV show Below Deck. Sean and I seemed to hit it off. I really liked the videos of his pit bull terrier dog "Jenny" (pronounced "Jen-NAY"). Gary and I might meet up with him again tonight or tomorrow night.

This sycamore tree growing near 400 Franklin Street has a small plaque affixed to it stating that it is believed this is the oldest tree in Buffalo with an approximate age of 250 years. However, that plaque was put there in 1960, which would make the tree now over 300 years old. It certainly had an enormous trunk.

*******

Alas, Diania really did not like Sean for reasons too intricate to explain here and now in this short entry.

Of note, Diania and I have the same birthday although not the same year. Oh, yes, also while at the bar, I watched the 1983 movie A Christmas Story. Both TBS and TNT had a simultaneous 24-hour marathon showing of it.

The theatre district along Main Street in Buffalo, N.Y., on a totally abandoned Christmas afternoon, 3:29PM December 25, 2014.

*******

We got drunk at the bar, of course. I had the equivalent of four big shots of Jameson on top of three glasses of wine. Later, in the hotel room, I did a lot of drunk texting. Three people answered including Jamie, who said he was in "rainy Tucson." He went there with Jenny as her family lives in that part of Arizona.

The hotel bed is OK, but the room doesn't have any internal climate control -- only heat this time of year and a fan mode. Furthermore, the fan is not very white-noise somniferous, so I had a hard time sleeping and all kinds of weird dreams including one about trying to get back into the U.S. but I had to pay the passport agency $50 (!) except there was no way to pay anybody and they wanted me to do it online and I thought I would get in trouble for that.

Yours truly in bed at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, N.Y., 9:07PM December 25, 2014.

*******

This morning, I got up by 10AM and got ready and went into the small-to-medium-sized fitness center here in the hotel. I managed to jog a total of 6.5 miles in two main parts plus an initially botched 4-minute stint. This happened because I once inadvertently pulled out the emergency stop button and then I hit another stop button after at the 30 minute mark during the first of the two main parts. Anyway, I got in an hour jog and some weight-lifting, and felt far better for having done so.

The lobby of the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, N.Y., 7:29PM December 25, 2014.

I have to get a picture of the giant glass globe in the lobby with its detailed images of the continents and even ocean basins. It's kind of awesome -- except it doesn't have Antarctica on it.

Updated 6:04PM 12/27/2014: CORRECTION: The globe does indeed have Antarctica on it. You just have to get way down on the floor to see it. My apologies to the Hyatt Hotels Corporation.

*******

I then went up to the 11th floor small pool. It is in a glass-like atrium and has a wonderful view of the city with its mid-20th Century-style yet picturesque skyline and nearby Lake Erie and the more hilly terrain south of Buffalo. Lake Erie was shimmering in the low-angled, bright sunlight. Of note, I never actually saw it on my last trip here because it was so snowy and the lake was basically frozen over at that point and just a sea of white (kinda like Antarctica). 

The 11th floor pool at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo, N.Y., 1:28PM December 26, 2014.

The pool is small but pleasant with a smooth metal bottom. The water is vaguely salty rather than the typical smell of chlorine, at least it seemed that way to me. Also the view in that picture reminds me of that old Chanel No. 5 commercial, or maybe two of them blended together.

*******

I'm going to try to do one more gym workout while I am here (either tomorrow or Sunday). I am scheduled to be back in D.C. early Monday afternoon. I'm not going to work that day but I will try to get to the gym. Thereafter, I should have a solid block of 5 hours to post an entry with any additional Buffalo pictures I take between now and then. (As I've learned from other trips, I don't post them within a few days of getting home, I never will.)

Another image of the 11th floor pool, Hyatt Regency, Buffalo, N.Y., 1:28PM December 26, 2014.

*******

Also while here, I really want to complete a report that I did not finish on Wednesday so that I can get it to Andrea by Monday morning even though I won't be back in the office until Tuesday. My Wednesday was rather shortened -- and included an early happy hour with a co-worker at Old Ebbitt Grill. (The co-worker, 25 years old, is Jewish Iranian American, which I find intriguing.) He also once biked across the United States.

OK, that's all for now. Gary and I are meeting up soon to start our Friday night. (He and I did our own things today.) I'm trying to get this entry posted before the hotel computer times out. You can "EXTEND" it (for free) but even that times out after a while and have to log off just to log back on. This will be my last entry (at least planned one) until at least late Monday night when I'm back.

--Regulus

Thursday, December 25, 2014

This Snowless Christmas Morning ...

Christmas tree in the lobby of the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, Washington, D.C., 2:54PM December 24, 2014.

*******

Christmas morning.

It so doesn't feel like Christmas what with the way it "snuck up" on me and, related to that, my work and life schedule.

The weather sucks -- now just clearing after the rainy spell with rather mild temperatures reaching 55F today.

The following is thinking out loud:

But more importantly for this entry, I am not sure I'm going to go to Buffalo with Gary for the four day trip. At this point, I just want to stay here. The lack of any snowfall there for Christmas has removed a key reason to go. Yes, I get the fact that it is a city in its own right with things to do (read: the Allentown neighborhood) and folks who are, by and large, more friendly than here in D.C.

But the idea of schlepping to National Airport with my old duffle bag on Christmas morning -- that walk down U Street, the Metro ride, going through airport security -- just to put myself on a jet to travel to a place to which I have no connection, the entire trip centered on eating and, maybe even more centrally, drinking, just doesn't appeal to me.

Gary and I travel well together, but in this instance, I think it best if he just go on his own. Besides, he never wants for friends and would have a great time with or without me. In addition, I'll give him the remaining money that I owe him.

Trouble is, I have to send that text message stating that I have changed my mind about going, and I can't quite do that. So that leaves me in a real conundrum. I don't know what to do.

I just want to fall back asleep and get up at noon.

--Regulus

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Daytime Musings on a Rainy, Mild Christmas Eve -OR- Under the Yuletide Umbrella Sky

The District of Columbia and American flags in the 1200 block of E Street NW, Washington, D.C., 9:28PM December 23, 2014.

It was a foggy, damp night with rain soon to arrive.

*******

Once again, my apologies for the lack of updates last night.

This Christmas week is simply not a good one for posting blog entries and -- assuming that I actually go to Buffalo tomorrow -- I really won't be posting anything until next week, unless I find a computer and a block of time in the hotel.

It's a rainy, mild day with temperatures around 49F this late morning here in D.C. itself. There has been about 1 inch of rain in the Metro D.C. / Baltimore areas. Specifically, through 11AM on the obs., I tally 1.03" at KDCA , 0.96" at KBWI , 1.08"at KIAD , and 0.97"at KDMH through the 11AM reporting hour.

This rainfall pushes the yearly totals at all four climate stations further into surplus for 2014. (More on that in an entry at the start of the new year.)

NWS composite radar mosaic for the eastern United States at 1548UTC (10:48AM EST) December 24, 2014.

*******

A vigorous, wet, complex low pressure / frontal system with a tropical moisture feed is moving across the Eastern U.S. As for Buffalo, it's not even going to snow there -- it's just going to be a rainy with perhaps a random wet snowflake tomorrow -- followed by just mostly dry conditions.

NWS high-resolution surface weather map analysis for a portion of the eastern United States at 12Z (7AM EST) December 24, 2014. Click on image for larger version.

*******

So the "white Christmas" in Buffalo that I had planned to see is a total and complete bust.


It's a big, huge, magnificent victory for all the usual suspects.

You know who: Neo-confederate Republicans, Wall Street "Robert Rubin" Democrats, Fred Hiatt and his Washington Consensus including Benji Wittes and Sebastian Mallaby, Cokie Roberts and the larger "Gang of 500," that anthropomorphic Republican-voting God of ChristianMingle.com fantasies, assorted awful libertarians, the Sue Palka-Cabra creature, D.C.'s gay mafia, Wall-P and his "Staff," and the military / industrial / surveillance complex of the American Oligarchical Corporate Capitalist entertainment and financial bubble machine.

Got it?

A Christmas tree in the strange lobby of 1101 K Street NW, Washington, D.C., 9:43PM December 23, 2014.

This is about the only "snow" you're going to see in D.C. this Christmas. Also, of note, 1101 K Street is actually at the corner of K and 12th Street. Right near my favorite, still-abandoned "Zion Building."

*******

I went to Harry's Pub last night (downtown D.C.) with Andrea & Imara and then stopped briefly at No. 9. However, the Indian lunch I had yesterday at L'Enfant Plaza in the food court -- courtesy a very nice co-worker who paid for it -- didn't sit too well, so I headed the short way home.

On the walk from Harry's Pub to No. 9, I went up 12th Street NW past that Horizon House on 12th Street and ended up talking to a resident there named "Robert" -- a tall African American man, missing some front teeth, probably about 50-ish, living a seemingly marginal existence and of uncertain motives but not threatening in any way (he appeared to be following me and I stopped and he caught up to meet and just started asking me how I was).


We talked for about 3 minutes as I walked toward 13th Street. He knew about the New Horizons space probe to Pluto and the earlier Voyager and Pioneer ones. I gave him a $5 bill and a bunch of ones, about $10 in all.

Foggy night in the city looking up 12th Street from the National Mall, Washington, D.C., 6:33PM December 23, 2014. Andrea took this picture while we were walking from the office to Harry's Pub.

*******

A few other items: I slept quite a bit last night. I'm heading into the office shortly for a somewhat shortened day. I have a report I want to finish before I leave. As for tonight, I really can't do too much because my flight from KDCA to KBUF is at 1030AM-ish tomorrow. I don't even want to go at this point. My paycheck and Christmas bonus arrived, so I can buy a new pair of gloves and shoes.

A really foggy night with only the bottom of the vaguely-illuminated Washington Monument visible, Washington, D.C., 6:31PM December 23, 2014. Andrea also took this picture.

*******

Oh, yes, I now have a 10AM teleconference on Jan. 7th to talk to the assistant state attorney down there in Florida (7th judicial circuit, Bunnell office) to discuss the case against Shannon involving my dad. She is charged with battery against an elderly person (again), but I want to put it more in a domestic violence context (reverse from the usual, but still the same).

This is what it really is even if neither define their "relationship" as a "relationship" My sought-after goal to try to arrange it so that she doesn't not live there anymore and to end that sick and insane living arrangement once and for all. My fear is that if the charges are reduced or dropped, it just allows the whole damn situation to restart. (I'm not telling him that I am so getting involved.)

As for my mom, everything is fine there, Ray's grumpiness notwithstanding. Ray is my stepfather. Their 40th anniversary is actually this Sunday. That's rather hard to believe.

OK, that's all for now.

Merry Rainy Christmas. And Ho Ho Ho.


--Regulus

P.S. Please check out this New Yorker piece by Mallory Ortberg (link is embedded): Ayn Rand Reviews Children's Movies. It's hilarious.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Brief and Mostly Image-less Synopsis of the Entries I Intended to Post (But Just Haven't Had the Time and/or Wherewithal to Do So)

Stairs and Christmas tree decoration at Thunder Grill, Union Station, Washington, D.C., 1:22PM December 20, 2014.

I really like that Thunder Grill.

*******

Apologies for lack of updates. Oh, and for the lack of any additional pictures in this entry.

To be clear, it's not like there aren't many things I want to post. However, it just takes so long to write these blog entries and the need for pictures and to format around them make it difficult and so time consuming. I started an entry but just couldn't finish it given that it was already quarter after one in the morning and there was no end in sight.
wherewithal
I got in two full gym workouts -- Sunday and Monday night -- but now, now, owing to the Happy Holidays holiday season, I likely will not go again until NEXT Monday and thereafter, not get back onto a regular schedule until Saturday, Jan. 3rd.

I also did my laundry and made dinner -- my usual, although it came out kind of good -- last night. I opened that bottle of cheap two-buck-chuck wine - well, actually, it was a $5 bottle of La Finca for the white elephant" exchange gift party on the 13th -- and it was surprisingly not bad.

About that bottle, it was supposed to be my gift but in my drunken state, I absconded home with it at the end, a fact that has caused some issues that I'm not going to get into except to say it is time for me to step back from that group as a whole.

It amazes me that I can drink so much and yet still instantly feel it when I have one drink.

I had posted this whole discourse here about how it isn't going to snow this Christmas -- no, not here in D.C., that's a frickin' given, but rather in Buffalo. BUFFALO. That's where Gary and I are going Christmas day (Thursday) and returning Monday. (I don't even want to go now.) I had a whole riff on the GFS operational weather model and its little NAM companion, why I hate both of them, and why I suspect the Palka-Cabra is responsible for the lack of snow.

But, again, I couldn't finish the entry.

Other things I wanted to write about:

I wanted to post pictures of the White House tour I took on Saturday morning and relate the disagreement I had with Matt while looking at George W. Bush's sneering visage in his portrait. I just don't think President Al Gore would have also invaded Iraq.

I was also going to write a bit about my Thursday night with the OLD meteorology group and post a few pictures.

Whether or not awful little Wall-P's money is earning him even more money at this Yuletide season.

Finally, I wanted to post a humorous aside, a little side story about hearing Christmas carol music (as in Bing Crosby type) while in the swimming pool at the YMCA last night, specifically, to note the fact that this young African American lifeguard usually plays R&B / hip hop stuff on her radio she places on the pool deck and that she has, on more than one occasion, rushed to change a song when the lyrics are all ... well, you know, the usual. With that, I pretend not to notice, and besides, you can't hear even loud music underwater, although Bing Crosby's voice carried for a surprising number of inches below the surface. The point it, it was quite an unexpected change.

But I can't post any meaningful entry right now, so I'm going to end this one right now with the intention of trying to post one tonight.

--Regulus

Monday, December 22, 2014

Brief Recap of a Very Good Mom's Weekend Visit and a Message to Firefly Restaurant Management

Alas, this was the only (low-resolution and poor-quality) picture I got of my mom (right) and Sharon during our wonderful time at Larry's Lounge on Saturday night. They were talking to Kristof (left). Washington, D.C., 9:42PM December 20, 2014.

Yes, I'm going to get a better phone -- a flippin' Smart one -- at some point in 2015 and give up my little flip open. I'm probably going to have to dump Verizon as my carrier to do it though.

*******

This is a just a brief update before I go to bed. I really don't have any pictures for this entry, and I'm not even going to try.

So it turned out to be a wonderful weekend with my mom's visit. Last night with me and my mom and Gary and his mom (Sharon) was just all-around awesome including our brief drive-about of the city's monumental core at night and dinner at Logan Tavern. (I really like Logan Tavern.)

And the visit to Larry's Lounge was just tremendous.

My mom and Gary's mom got to meet quite a cast of characters including ones they had both previously met -- Kristof -- and those only Sharon had met -- Larry P. -- and those regulars that neither had met -- Jamie B., John L., Mark D., Dave J., Gunther, Bill S., and even Ani (visiting the U.S. from Madras Chennai for two weeks).

It was like that final episode of The Colbert Report in terms of the diversity of folks.

(Of note, hadn't seen Ani since May 2012, and he immediately noticed my weight loss. He and my mom really hit it off). Oh, and my friend Nick also showed up. (I was on the White House tour with him earlier in the morning.)

Only Brett and Chris H. were missing, although I neglected to text Brett to see if she were free. Oh, and Wendy was busy, but she has previously met my mom. (I saw Chris tonight at Larry's Lounge after dinner with Wendy at Bangkok Thai Dining on P Street. This was our second time at that enjoyable little subterranean Thai restaurant with its old décor.)

Dinner at Logan Tavern was also really nice. Andrea and Imara joined the four of us.

Prior to that, the four of us -- having about 25 minutes until our reservation -- stopped into No. 9. It was there that I introduced my mom to the bartender Jose, who was working upstairs, and he was very pleasant to her.

The downstairs bartender was also nice enough to let me use the happy hour two-for-one ticket immediately to buy two glasses of wine. And compare that to what I describe below.

The ONLY part that wasn't good was what happened a bit earlier at Firefly.

By way of explanation, my mom stayed at the Hotel Madera on New Hampshire Avenue just south of Dupont Circle. Upon my return to her hotel room, we went downstairs to wait for Gary and his mom because Gary had to drive out to Fairfax County to get her. We opted to go to Firefly, a restaurant that is part of the hotel and to which I have gone two others times -- once for an overpriced dinner and once for a group happy hour that had too many people in such a small space.

We ordered two drinks that with the tip came to $30. Gary and Sharon showed up and they also got two drinks that cost about the same. So that's $60 for four drinks, which is outrageous. However, that's not the issue. In libertarian garbage-speak, we "freely chose" to go there and with our "infinite information," we entered a "contractual arrangement" -- or whatever anti-life nonsense they spew.

But what happened next prompted me to call on Sunday afternoon to lodge a complaint with one of the restaurant supervisors ("Casey" -- unsure of spelling). I didn't actually witness the event or I would have complained right there. (And if there is one thing I do well, it's complain.)

The bar at Firefly is quite small. And on the counter are drink condiments that include bowls of grapes, olives, and orange wedges located just inches from customers.

Sharon, who was hungry, reached for a grape only to have this female bartender pull it from her and throw a napkin over the grapes. This startled Sharon and she didn't know what to say.

Message to Firefly management:

That is an outrageous way for your staff to treat anybody (much less an older lady ) who is shelling out an inordinately large amount of money at your overpriced establishment.

At a minimum, please do not put drink condiments -- that is, PEOPLE FOOD -- in dishes and bowls inches from your customers and expect them not to eat it. I don't care what your damn rules are or how you "think" people should behave because that's not how the world actually works -- even in the Emerald City Oz that is Washington, D.C.

It was a shitty thing for your bartender to do, Firefly, and you've given me a solid reason never again to patronize your establishment.

To her credit, Casey said it was an "inexcusable" thing to do and would talk to the bar staff. Oh, and to be clear, the other bartender was fine: He diligently and with no attitude made the two drinks for my mom and me (an amaretto sour and what they call a "Sub Rosa").

OK, that's all for now. I intend to update this blog tomorrow after the gym with either the Thursday night Woodley Café meteorology gang reunion photos or the Saturday morning White House tour photos.

My Buffalo trip with Gary is set for Christmas Day. It's still not really looking promising for much snow, although the lake effect machine might turn on, at least a little bit, over the weekend. The GFS model just sucks all around -- is basically worthless beyond day 5. The NAM just sucks for rainfall amounts and predicting snow here.

But let's leave that topic for another entry.

Good night.

--Regulus