Monday, June 30, 2014

A Tum-Tum Agitated Monday; An Unexpected New Computer Arrival, and What's Not Going On (For A While, Anyway)


I came home early from work today after a dispiriting and worrying day that also included a rather upset stomach. I really want to go to the gym this evening, but I also don't really feel that well -- fatigued and still somewhat roiled. I also would like to post at least three different blog entries, though I doubt that will happen.

I should note that I am supposed to get a new computer at work tomorrow to replace the one I've had for about two years -- and that I regularly (almost daily) take home with me. The IT person called me out of the blue and said I would be getting a new one. He also assured me that it would also have the same portability as this one, but there is a chance that something might not be compatible in terms of wires and connections.

I am considering taking off Thursday since Friday is the July 4th Independence Day holiday. If I had a normal, functioning family I would take that four day opportunity to do something like, oh, I dunno, visit my dad down in Florida.

But it's such a screaming low-rent sh!t show train wreck there in the trailer-by-the-sea in unincorporated Flagler County that this is not an option. As for mom in Maryland, well, I could fall across the event horizon of the nearest black hole and she wouldn't notice.

Of course, if I weren't so dead-ass broke all the time, not to mention quasi-mentally and vehicle-wise logistically incapacitated when it comes (as they say in New Zealand) to trekking and tramping about, I could take a little side trip

I actually stopped at the Dupont Circle CVS and purchased (as planned) a considerable amount of toiletries plus a new Lasko box fan that I then had to tote all the way up New Hampshire Avenue to U Street to my apartment. (The toiletries were in my book bag along with my computer.)

My TV remains on the fritz, and I have no idea when I'll be able to get a new one. As I recently mentioned, I am considering instead cancelling my cable.

Yeah, yeah, I know -- it's the Wall-P / techno-glibertarian response:

"Eh. Eh. Ehehe. Do this online. Do that online. Shop online. Play online. Watch online. Get rich online. Fall in love online. Get off online. Get trapped in an FBI sting online."

Most importantly, ESAD online.

The internet sucks.

But at least Hobby Lobby doesn't to pay the contraception for its wage slaves employees. Maybe Hobby Lobby can arrange a special day off for them to go to that taxpayer-financed "Creation Museum" in Kentucky and ride the dinosaurs that Noah failed to take with him on the Ark when it rained enough to cover Mount Everest about 4,400 years ago. And they can get their pictures taken with cardboard cutouts of the Scalia 5 outside the Waffle House. But Benji "Special Legal Needs" Wittes is probably duly impressed, as ever.

I'm truly beyond words on this one.

No wonder she's laughing.

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"What's Going On??" Indeed.

So for the rest of this entry, I just want to note that dinner at Marvin on Saturday night with my dear friend Wendy was dreadful because the waitress we had was truly awful.

Honestly, I can't even clearly describe what was wrong with her. Our waitress had an attitude that was once arrogant and utterly indifferent attitude (the last time to leap for the tip, which was crappy, I can tell you). (On this point of bad service industry attitudes, while I "get" the basis of the D.C. 17th Street gay cabal, and even bartender attitudes in general in trendy and/or upscale urban areas, I just don't understand the waiter / waitress bad attitude phenomenon, in particular when they aren't harried and clearly frustrated, but rather just bored, arrogant, and oozing self-entitlement.)

When I ordered and requested if I could substitute frickin' asparagus with Brussels sprouts on the salmon dinner, she copped some smarmy attitude, talking down to me as if I were a 4th grader. She burbled some bullsh!t about how the chef has specially "nutritionally balanced" the entries.

Please.

Any restaurant can do a substitution. And knock off the attitude -- you're two steps above Jack-in-the-Box.

Anyway, the substitution I got was some awful inedible lettuce. And the salmon was way too salty. Totally unenjoyable and not worth the $25 price.

The wine was (big surprise) overpriced and mediocre. (Honestly, though, I rarely have success with wine. The only thing I really like is the house chianti at Dupont Italian Kitchen.)

The busboys were far more attentive than she was -- and this includes getting a requested dessert menus.

The final straw was when she came by to take AWAY the dessert menus without even asking if we were going to order. I wouldn't move my elbow and then just glared at her. She just frickin' infuriated me. (As it is, Wendy and I had an impromptu dessert at that new Yamas where the old Subway used to be on New Hampshire Avenue and then we went to Larry's Lounge to meet Gary.)

As for the atmosphere: Mob, raucously noisy, blaring music, more nightclub than quiet little Belgian bistro that somehow is paying homage to the memory of the late, great Marvin Gaye. The place is far too crowded (admittedly, going there on a Saturday summer night at 9PM wasn't the best idea). Upstairs IS an actual nightclub (er, "lounge").


The bottom line is you just can't have a quiet, nice place at the corner of 14th and U Streets where traditional African American urban ghetto meetings glass-domed Emerald City yuppie boomtown. (Oh, and the hulking, decrepit, quasi-homeless shelter of the Frank D. Reeves / Marion Barry Center can't be torn down fast enough to make way for more yuppiminiums, overpriced restaurants, and blaring nightclubs.

I probably would have had better luck at the contrived speakeasy next door (The Gibson), provided I was let in.

All in all, a $78 dinner (less a minimal tip) that was so not worth it.

Needless to say, "what's going on" is that I won't be going back to Marvin for a while.

OK, let's see if I can get to the gym.

--Regulus

A Strange Sort of Virginia Sunday Summer Afternoon Walkabout: Prelude Entry

**This entry was posted on June 30th, 2014.**

The actual South Cornerstone of the original District of Columbia at Jones Point, Alexandria, Va., 4:12PM June 29, 2014.

This was the very first of the 40 boundary stones of the Federal Territory that was lain (on a cold and story day in April 1791), or rather, if this website is to be believed, a replacement from 1794.

Yes, I have prominently featured the North Cornerstone of the Territory / District of Columbia on this blog. And, yes, this site contains my -- poorly written -- WaHoPo piece from June 1998 about the corner stones of the District of Columbia. (It wasn't called "L'Enfant's Diamond" and it was Andrew -- not Samuel -- Ellicott.

*******

This Sunday -- now concluded, and indeed, it is already 2+ hours into Monday -- was a strange, eventful, and ultimately good day.

Under the "new" Woodrow Wilson Bridge on the Virginia side a short distance before the Potomac River itself, Alexandria, Va., 4:00PM June 29, 2014.

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I walked at least 9 miles (maybe more like 10 miles) including an unusual walk through parts of Northern Virginia -- from Huntington Metro to National Airport via "New Alexandria," 5 miles along the Mount Vernon bike trail, and a late lunch stop at Virtue in Old Town Alexandria. (That is a story in and of itself including a Naval intelligence officer and his bald d!ck of a friend who wouldn't shake my proffered hand.)

I then I stopped -- while walking from Metro Center to Dupont Circle because the flippin' redline was closed this weekend and the shuttles would take forever -- at Beacon where Chris H. was working (unexpectedly downstairs) and had a nice time; and then I went to Larry's Lounge (after detouring home) where I met back up with Chris and my dearest little Brady.

All in all, a very good day.

The yacht "Usher" -- formerly "Mr. Terrible" -- docked in Old Town Alexandria on the Potomac River, Virginia, 4:00PM June 29, 2014.

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The weather this now-concluded Sunday was very sunny and warm (around 87F for a high) with cirrus and cirrostratus clouds in a deep blue sky and a persistent southeasterly flow (but no high humidity, dew points around 52F but creeping up at this 2AM hour).

I have about 30 pictures to post, three of which I have posted in this entry, and the totality of which I shall try to do in the next few days.

--Regulus

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jukebox Saturday Night for June 28th, 2014: "Lost and Found in the Night Rhythm" Edition

I'm pressed for time so I am limiting this week's jukebox Saturday night installment to just two pieces.

First up, here is a new and wonderful smooth jazz piece ...


"Lost and Found" by Cindy Bradley from her brand new release Bliss (2014)

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And second, here is something truly 1990s Old School "Euro-dance / House" ...


"The Rhythm of the Night" by Corona on the group's eponymously named release (1993).

That is the Brazilian singer and dancer Olga Maria de Souza.

I quite like this song. I posted it just over 3 years ago in a very different context (in an entry that is among those that I have since edited out certain content). Amazingly, the YouTube link still works. I guess Wall-P hasn't been around this way. Yet.

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OK, that's all for now. I might update the blog tomorrow though more likely Monday night.

--Regulus

Saturday Evening Post for June 28th, 2014: A Short Update on a Long Evening

**This entry was posted June 28, 2014.**

Yours truly with Wendy's dog Tacoma under the table gnawing on a plastic jar of peanut butter trying to get the last bits of it. This was at Wendy's place in Columbia Heights here in Washington, D.C., around 830PM last night, June 27, 2014.

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A quick update ...

I had a good and complete gym workout this afternoon -- 6 miles on treadmill, weightlifting, and swimming.

While at the gym, I caught bits of the 2014 FIFA matchup between Colombia and Uruguay -- alas, Uruguay lost 2 to 0 and was knocked out of the running. Perhaps if Luis Suárez had been there to play ... But Suárez has been banned for four months (not to mention fined) after biting an Italian player last week in what was the third such biting incident in his career in recent years).

The U.S. plays Belgium on Tuesday in a must-win game. The U.S. lost to Germany 0 to 1 the other day but it is still in the running for now.

Anyway, last night, I went to No. 9 to meet Gary and then we went to Larry's Lounge, where I actually had an uncharacteristically good time. I walked home around 3AM and fiddled around on the computer until approximately 5AM, by which point it was getting daylight.

Speaking of which ...

We are now 1 week past the Northern Hemisphere summer solstice, but the actual latest sunsets -- 838PM EDT in Washington, D.C. -- are occurring right now in the period of June 26th through June 29th.

A portion of the table showing the sunrise / sunset time and length of daylight times for Washington, D.C., June 15 - 30, 2014. This is from the timeanddate.com site -- linked above -- that also contains information on astronomical, nautical, and civil twilight times and the time of solar noon and the distance of the Earth from the Sun on each day. It has this for cities all over the world.

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By June 30th, both sunrise and sunset times start moving in tandem to shorten the length of daylight. The opposite happens at the winter solstice (i.e., earliest sunsets are before the solstice itself and latest sunrise times follow it; it's just that the net length of daylight is longest / shortest, respectively, on the summer / winter, solstices, respectively). This has to do with the slight eccentricity of Earth's orbit and the resulting differences in orbital velocity (Kepler's Law!) versus a more or less constant rotation rate of the Earth itself on its axis.

I'm going to try to post a very quick jukebox Saturday night entry. However, it really has to be quick because Wendy and I have a 830PM dinner reservation at Marvin. (Maybe we can try to go to The Gibson next door, but I kinda doubt I'd be let in ...)

--Regulus

Friday, June 27, 2014

Getting a Handle on Pablo Escobar's Hippos & Stopping Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Jumpers

A cloud-to-ground lightning bolt splits the stormy night sky behind the Washington Monument as seen across the Tidal Basin from the Jefferson Memorial at 9:36PM June 25, 2014.

This picture by Kevin Ambrose comes from this Capital Weather Gang entry posted on June 26th and showing the thunderstorm with lightning display the previous night.

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Here is a rather fascinating article on the BBC News website (link embedded) :



As the article headline suggests, it is about the growing problem posed by the steadily-multiplying hippos that were once part of the late, notorious, hyper-violent, billionaire drug kingpin Pablo Escobar's private zoo at his one-time sprawling compound Hacienda Napoles located in a remote, mountainous, and jungle-covered part of Colombia called Department of Antioquia.

The original four hippos have multiplied to an uncertain number -- estimates are between 50 and 60 but no one really knows, and the females continue to give birth to new calves each year -- and this is causing a growing problem both to human safety (the locals don't realize how dangerous hippos can be) and to the local (probably already stressed) ecology.

Carlos Valderrame checks a hippo's teeth. This picture is from the BBC News article in question. I'm unsure if this is one of the hippos in question in the article. The article doesn't specify.

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As noted, the four hippos were originally introduced by Escobar to Colombia at the private zoo he built (smuggling in all kinds of exotic , of course). When the zoo was confiscated, the animals there were sent to zoos around Colombia -- except for the hippos -- who, for their part thrived as the place became overgrown (and they quickly got outside the compound into the wild and the nearby Magdalena River).

The Jardin Plaza in an unidentified town in the Antioquia Department of Colombia.

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As it is, the climate and ecosystem of that part of Colombia are quite ideal for hippos, probably not that different than their native African one.

One male hippo in particular -- El Viejo, possibly pictured at left (the article didn't make it clear) -- has led the upriver migration.

Talk about an invasive species.

As for what to do with the hippos, in particular the adult ones, there really are no options. They can't really suitable for zoos (if any would take them) and they can't be returned to Africa for fear of diseases or parasites they may carry. On the other hand, it would be awful to kill them (and there appears to be no real local support for that extreme action at this time). Halting their reproduction, somehow, is the only way, I suppose.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Now I have my own pod, or bloat, of hippos on my bed -- they are pictured above, having emerged from under the covers -- but those are plush ones with no invasive qualities at all.

*******

On a totally different note, please read this article (link embedded):


Excerpts:

The North Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge rises above the ground fog rolling in from the Pacific with the incredibly retro-looking Sutro Tower visible in the distance.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- At moments, it glows like a pathway to heaven, floating almost dreamlike through the thick layer of fog that frequently blankets the city. Even on sunny days, the Golden Gate Bridge is a wonder, its graceful art deco towers gleaming a deep orange-red against the shimmering turquoise water of the San Francisco Bay.

But when John Moylan looked at the bridge, he also saw a darker side to its majestic beauty. In the 27 years since he was first appointed to the 19-member board that oversees the Golden Gate, Moylan had also come to see the tragedy of the bridge. It came in the form of countless stories he’d heard from grieving families whose loved ones had leapt to their deaths from the iconic span.


Moylan didn't blame the bridge. But he did understand the anguish. He had lost a grandnephew to suicide. And the memory of that pain alone had convinced him that if something could be done to save lives, it should be done. So as the numbers of the dead ticked higher and higher -- a record 46 suicides in 2013 -- Moylan pursued the often lonely fight of trying to convince his colleagues and the public of the need for a suicide barrier on the bridge. Friday's passing of a $76 million bill to build such a barrier marks a bittersweet victory for Moylan...

"Suicide is everyone's problem, and we have to do something about it," Moylan said at a board meeting last November. "My family has been touched by it, and I'll tell you what, it tears a family apart."

Moylan's words would turn out to be hauntingly prophetic. On June 5, less than two weeks after Moylan issued another public plea for a suicide barrier, a young man walked toward the center of the bridge on what was a sunny Thursday afternoon.

Around 4:20 p.m., according to witnesses, he crawled over the bridge's four-foot barrier and jumped to his death. His body was recovered by the Coast Guard and taken to the Marin County morgue. The man’s name would have gone unpublicized by the Bay Area media, which stopped daily coverage of the suicides long ago, had it not been for his recognizable last name.

He was Sean Moylan, the 27-year-old grandson of John Moylan, who had grown up literally in the shadow of his grandfather as he rose to become an increasingly influential guardian of the bridge...

For Dietrich Stroeh, a longtime bridge official who once was an outspoken opponent of a barrier, it was tragedy that changed his mind. One of his closest friends, who was terminally ill, jumped from the bridge and killed himself about five years ago. Stroeh was stunned by what his friend had done and the effect it had on the man’s family -- and on him. At the funeral, Stroeh recalled that they began to play "Danny Boy," an old Irish song about death, and he began to sob and had to leave the service.


"I couldn’t handle it," Stroeh said. "I didn't know how emotional it was to lose someone like that in that way until that moment. ... I guess that's what really changed my mind."

All I have to say is that it's about frickin' time: 1,600 or so deaths and counting is enough.

Oh, and to anybody reading this who is even considering it: Don't do it. Too much yet to see and too many people to get even with. Seriously, though, just don't it.

*******

The bright summer sky filled with fair weather puffy cumulus clouds as seen from the corner of 13th and U Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 12:00PM June 27, 2014.

I went into work at 12:30PM today after staying out too long last night -- first at The Laughing Man Tavern and then at the Old Bar at Old Ebbitt Grill with a co-worker.

*******

Home on this Friday night but I'm going out soon to No. 9 to meet Gary. Earlier, he and I took Wendy grocery shopping at Trader Joe's on 14th Street (my maiden voyage there). Of note, Wendy's sprained ankle is slowly healing and she can walk slowly. Thereafter, I stopped at her place for a bit before walked home in the breezy, balmy, clear night of Washington, D.C., this summer.

OK, that's all for now. Oh, yes, I got an extension of two work weeks plus a couple days on my compliance work (all in Texas). As for tomorrow, it's just a gym day and then dinner tomorrow night with Wendy. On Sunday, I intend to take a walk.

I'll try to update this blog tomorrow evening with the usual jukebox Saturday night entry.

--Regulus

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Regulus the Brilliant Multiple Star System and the Tired, Solo Human Blogger


For this entry, I just don't have that many pictures, and I'm not even going to try to find additional ones tonight. I might update this entry with additional ones I have the time and find some suitable images.

To be clear, it's quite immaterial to me whether anybody reads this entry, much less will only do so because it has pictures, pretty or otherwise, to break up the text.

If that's somebody's criteria for reading this blog (or anything), then I can't help them.

As it is, I'm feeling very chagrined over and tired with this blog. I've kept it for over 6 years now including the 4 years during which I've had my now-shaky Federal contracting job; the 3-1/2 years since that Cobalt incident that was really the farcical coda to the pointless "tragedy" of a seminal but ultimately meaningless event now over 10 years ago; and the 2 years since I rejoined the gym and lost the 42 pounds.

My blog namesake star, Regulus, and the Leo I Dwarf Galaxy (below in this image). Leo I Dwarf is a member of the Local Group and possibly one of the outlying satellite galaxies of the Milky Way Galaxy. Regulus ("Alpha Leonis") is actually a multiple (four) star system about 79 light years from Earth in the constellation Leo with Regulus A consisting of the really bright one -- a RAPIDLY spinning and hence very elongated blue-white giant -- and a nearbly invisible white dwarf plus a more distant quite dim binary pair called Regulus B and Regulus C.

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In that time, I posted a seemingly endless parade of vitriolic and ridiculously long and convoluted blog entries that have centered on the twin idiocies of America's brain-dead Manichean media-entertainment complex-inflamed politics and my own neuroses.

Among those neuroses have included aforementioned dumbass fixation; the period when I was a doughy marshmallow; and whenever the weather in the Washington, D.C., area was not to my liking, which is pretty much three-quarters of the time.

Above: A size and shape comparison of Regulus A to the Sun. The rapid spin of Regulus A causes the massive oblate-shaped distortion, not to mention gravity darkening in the equatorial region because the photosphere is cooler there than at the star's poles.  If Regulus A rotated about 16 percent faster, its centripetal acceleration would tear it apart.

*******

All of this was not just a massive waste of time, but it is now taking me an interminably time trying to "undo" by removed content.

Yes, I'm noting in those entries the removed and/or altered content. However, I'm no where near done, although I got the worst of the overheated and hateful late spring and summer of 2011 entries "edited" (i.e., May, June, July), but with so many more to go.

Aurora borealis display over Great Slave Lake as seen from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, Oct. 2008. Photo by Matt Kawei, source here.

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As for the politics, trying to follow and comment on that is a soul-draining experience because America is fundamentally a ridiculous and low-information, high-fructose corn-syrup entertainment, hysterical nation presently splitting into two reality camps (with a bunch of even lower-information "swing" voters in between) that probably presages some early-to-mid 21st Century version of another Civil War (almost certainly far less bloody and barbaric than the 19th Century version but potentially more enduring in terms of enduring regional breakups and confederations since America itself just doesn't make much sense as a coherent country by the late 21st / early 22nd Centuries, though I could be wrong).

The skyline of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada, June 2, 2005. Picture by Trevor MacInnis.

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To be clear, I don't see "both sides" as equally blameworthy -- I'm NOT of a Fred Hiatt / Ron Fournier / Washington Consensus Mindset, or as Paul Krugman so brilliantly put it, the "views differ on shape of Earth" mainstream corporate media narrative for even basic factual and/or morally right-versus-wrong questions -- and instead clearly see a tremendous imbalance tilted toward the demographically challenged and racially and culturally panicked but overly powerful right.

Anyway, putting that aside, the point is that I don't like having such an extensive online written record of miserable and vitriolic ramblings that serve no point -- and in fact could prove adverse in certain ways.

This blog has become the equivalent of the obsessive written journal I kept for nearly 15 years before it abruptly stopped. Eventually, I thrashed all but two large folders (binders) of what at one time had been scores of them. (I recall my father screaming -- shrieking -- at me when I was writing in it crazily on a car trip:

"WRITTEN IN WIND!! WRITTEN IN WIND!!"

It wasn't that he was wrong -- he was, in fact, correct. Rather, it's the fact that he was then and is now such a screaming lunatic -- in between living as a wanton hedonist who has always done whatever he wants whenever. (My mom wouldn't have screamed that -- just thrown it out when I wasn't around.)

Oh, yes, I also had numerous folders that contained a weird "fictitious stock market" that I meticulously kept for years. I trashed that as well.

A glass of wine at the bar at the Lincoln restaurant, Washington, D.C., 6:42PM June 22, 2014.

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I went to the gym earlier tonight and while I got in a full 6-mile / hour-long treadmill jog, my weightlifting was not nearly as good as on Monday night. I also skipped the pool outright. On Monday, I only had about 10 minutes in the pool because I had to meet Jim, who has since returned to Milwaukee. Naturally, failed to communicate in a meaningful way about where to meet -- I said at the Anthony Bowen YMCA and THEN we'd go somewhere, but he went to Marvin by the corner of 14th and U Streets NW for a few drinks, which Jim bought (I was flat broke until Wednesday). I only knew that because I happened to ask the front desk guy at the gym, who recognized the description I gave of gym.

I won't see Jim now for quite some time -- either the end of August or not until December.

It was at Marvin that this fellow I met there last time told me about the two quasi-speakeasies that I mentioned in my previous entry.

My favorite (and spooky) "Zion Building" -- still basically abandoned after all these years -- at 1017 12th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 6:46PM June 24, 2014.

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Oh, yes, on Tuesday evening, I walked from L'Enfant Plaza back toward home (since I didn't want to spend my last few dollars until I got paid on Metro fare). (The picture directly above was taken on that walk.) I walked past my place (well, a few blocks over) and up the hill of 13th Street to Wendy's place in Columbia Heights. I did so in order to walk Tacoma, since Wendy still cannot really do it.

Wendy and I then had a nice conservation even as she made some light dinner and I had two beers before I walked home. Of note, her sprained ankle appears to be slowly mending but it's still going to be 3 to 5 days, I guestimate, before she can really start to get around and go back to work (she's been allowed to telework during this time). I think Gary and I are taking her grocery shopping over the weekend -- at least that's the plan. Gary looked in on her and Tacoma tonight; she has a friend doing it tomorrow night; and I'll do it Friday evening.

Returning to tonight, I should have went into the pool but once again my stomach / nether regions were a bit perturbed and I wanted to get home. So I walked the short way home in a showery semi-downpour as a line of thunderstorms quickly swept through the D.C. area.

NWS radar mosaic for the northeastern quadrant of the U.S., 0218UTC June 26, 2014.

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The line actually extended up toward Baltimore and then in a wider band across eastern Pennsylvania, northwestern New Jersey, and southern New York into New England (see above radar mosaic image). It was basically just a warm, showery spell with some vivid cloud-to-cloud lightning and reverberating thunder. I can't imagine more than 0.1 inch fell in most places (and the usual 0.01" or perhaps the signature "Trace" officially was recorded at KDCA).

Updated 9:36AM 6/26/2014: So it turns out KDCA had 0.45" of rain and KBWI had 0.79" while KIAD had Trace; KDMH had 0.52" of rain. End of update.

I'm home now, having had a late dinner and "watching" -- or rather, listening -- to The Golden Girls reruns on Hallmark Channel. As I've mentioned, my TV is on the fritz. I got paid today but I will not buy a new frickin' TV when I have the very real prospect of being laid off / rendered "hourly, as needed" in the next few weeks.

I am even considering just getting rid of cable TV -- it's a flippin' waste of money considering I watch all of four channels, at least one of which (Me-TV) is digital over-the-air (and perhaps the second one, too, Antenna TV). I'd keep just my internet through RCN.

As for Thursday, well, there is an after work offsite company meeting at a bar -- Laughing Man Tavern -- by Metro Center.

Lastly, but probably most importantly, I want to discuss my work situation. At this point, nothing has been decided and no real resolution is forthcoming. Though I have done a fair amount of client-requested work, my own billability issues are dire this pay period owing to lack of sufficient work and, for the work I have, no permission to charge anything (the person who would do that is, NATURALLY, out all this week).

I also realize that even if this is "resolved," there really is no larger resolution for the longer haul -- just a series of maybes that never come to fruition, which is basically life, at least mine. The point is, I'm on my own, and if I am rendered "hourly, as needed," the only one who could or would help me is me. I'm just alone in this world.

But to do this, I would need to get a different job, even though that is something I don't want to do because I like my current one, including the work I do, my coworkers, and the office environment itself.

I would also need to do it in a hurry, but the configuration of the job market and larger American economy in the 2010s makes a mockery of that possibility.

This isn't 1975.

Oh, and hitting the "send" button on emailed job applications sends those emails and their contents across an event horizon into a black hole. In the case of USA Jobs, it's a supermassive black hole with an impressively expansive event horizon.

(This is the point that crappy, little robot Wall-P, who has NO CLUE what it's like to NOT have some six-figure salary as a legal tool of the corporate oligarchical elite, would start in with that monotonic rapid fire, "Dude. Dude. Eh. Eh. Ehehehe. Ya gotta' keep looking. It's all failure until it's success. Is what it is. Eh. Eh. Ehehe.")

I kinda hate it when someone with easy millions and a total lack of real human empathy or understanding on, well, anything beyond just money and power -- having spent his entire life in service to the ultra-rich (i.e., the 0.01% and/or corporate oligarchical paymasters) -- and whose spiritual depth consists of Friday night Miller Lites and depraved human cocking UFC fighting, deigns in their arrogance to pontificate about how I should live my life and should react to situations. It's kind of a jackass thing to do.

Truly in the middle of nowhere: The short of Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories.

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Now I am fairly confident that I could be a writer with some success, but getting to that point in one's adult life has always been a very hard slog -- and in our bogus techno-glibertarian future-present, it is well nigh impossible.

Anyway, if and when my job does end, it will be passed down quickly from on high because of a lack of billable work (I'll just be a company liability), and it will last an interminable time or -- based on how things turn out for the company in the next 6 months -- potentially permanently.

Yours truly by the Spanish Steps at the dead-end of 22nd Street NW by S Street NW, Washington, D.C., 4:55PM June 22, 2014.

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As for my familial and financial support, well, there is none.

For the latter, I have a paltry 401k that would not be available for months (and who knows how much would be taken in middle men-skimming "fees" before I saw the "funds" touch my account.

For the former, well, let's be honest: I could die and my mother would be upset at having to take the time off from work, not to mention deeply worried at potentially having to incur funeral expenses; meanwhile, my father is so far into his own altered reality; that the fact of my death wouldn't even penetrate. That is the reality of a 70-something lunatic living in a trailer by the sea in unincorporated Flagler County, Florida with his even more girlfriend in a life that consists of nighttime drunken karaoke, daytime knock-off Oxycontin, and anytime episodic 911 calls.

Neither have the slightest clue or -- from different angles -- interest in what I do or how I live my life. Oh, and there is no one else -- no wife or "significant other" -- and never will be.

That's my world.

And no one is going to help me. No friends, no nobody. I'm on my own. I finally realize that.

Looking south down 14th Street NW from W Street NW on a showery, warm night, Washington, D.C., 10:06PM June 25, 2014.

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OK, I think that's all for now.

I was going to write more including the first of my planned "Wall-P and Me" installments (including introducing the cast of characters, each one worse than the previous one). However, all of the proposed short stories are dark and weird -- indeed, too weird in the context of this entry. So instead I'll just say "Life sucks" as a conclusion to this entry.

Wall-P marries enters a legally-binding contract with The Staff.

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My next planned update will be either Friday night or, more likely, Saturday. I'm exhausted now and need to sleep.

--Regulus

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On Semi-Hidden D.C. Speakeasys and Quasi-Fabled Places -OR- "Are you from England??" "NO!! BUT YOU'RE FROM TIMBUKTU!"

I'm not exactly sure where this picture was taken but it is somewhere in Mali. I don't think this terrain is part of Mount Hombori, the highest mountain in Mali (see below). Image source here.

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This is an entry that I started last Wednesday but never got around to posting. I have updated the entry, as necessary, to reflect that. I also posted three pictures that I took on Sunday in a shortened walk. (It should be clear which are those three.)

The house with its surrounding dense shrubbery at 1743 22nd Street NW, Washington, D.C., 4:50PM June 22, 2014.

This house is at the corner of S and 22nd Streets NW at the top of the "Spanish Steps" -- D.C.'s mini/backstreet version of the famed Spanish Steps in Rome.

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When I wrote this entry on Wednesday night, I was having a turbulent stomach episode. Indeed, this cut my gym visit short that night. Nevertheless, I managed to get in the hour / 6 mile jog on the treadmill (New Zealand courses) and a half hour of light weightlifting, though I skipped the pool outright. Tonight (Monday night -- it's now Tuesday after midnight) I did another 6 mile jog (Trinity - Shasta course run); 50 minutes of moderate weightlifting; and 10 minutes in the pool.

Yours truly at the Spanish Steps, Washington, D.C., 4:52PM June 22, 2014.

The fountain was on and gurgling and the little basin had been cleaned. It was lovely.

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I would have stayed longer except I had to meet Jim before he headed back to Milwaukee. We went to the downstairs bar at Marvin on U Street. The upstairs place was quite crowded.

I also found out about a speakeasy -- yes, they exist in 2014, in a manner of speaking -- located next to Marvin called The Gibson, the "hidden" entrance to which is shown at left (you must ring a buzzer and be granted access).

I'd like to try to go there -- except I'm not sure I'd be allowed in. This falls in the category of the old Groucho Marx adage about never belonging to a club that would have me a member.

Oh, and apparently, there is ANOTHER quasi-speakeasy below the Doi Moi place (where I've never been) on 14th Street called 2 Birds, 1 Stone.

Honestly, though, if these places have websites, they can't really be true speakeasies. You want to see a speakeasy, I have one for you ... It's called "LaLo," and it's in plain sight.

Anyway, as for that Wednesday night turbulence ...

... it was in the region of equatorial Africa, namely, in the vicinity of the Bight of Bonny / Bight of Biafra and Equatorial Guinea, so to speak.

And speaking of Equatorial Guinea and Africa in general, I have my old 1994 - 1995 Rand McNally New Universal World Atlas with me while in the bathroom. (Sometimes I have my 2004 Michelin North America Road Atlas and other times my badly frayed 2004 District of Columbia ADC Atlas.) I find staring at maps then therapeutic (or is it prophylactic??).

Snow-blanketed Mount Toubkal, which at a given height of 13,671 feet is the highest peak in the Atlas Mountains.

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Anyway, I was actually looking at a map of northwestern Africa including Morocco, Western Sahara (about which I wrote a little bit in this entry), and Algeria and the adjoining Mediterranean. One of the smaller ranges within the Atlas Mountains are the Anti-Atlas range -- which are actually the same range as the Appalachians dating back to when Pangaea was together, both raised together in the Alleghanian Orogeny before the Atlantic Ocean opened up and they were rifted apart. (Other portions of the larger Atlas Range such as the Moyen (Middle) and Haut (High) Atlas have undergone additional uplift in subsequent orogenies.)

As for Mali, it has its own mountains -- and some of them are distinctly strange looking, to wit, see the lead image of this entry and the one directly below.

Mount Hombori (Hombori Tondo), the highest point in Mali, at 3,789 feet.

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This map sectional also contains the northern part of Mali and has shown the name Tombouctou. It is referring to the Tombouctou Region, one of Mali's administrative regions. This is the French spelling of Timbuktu. As for the region's capital, that is, of course, the legendary city of Timbuktu. However, it's too far south to be on this map sectional.

The Sankoré Madrasah in Timbuktu.

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Every time I see the name Timbuktu -- a famed city along a legendary desert trade route with a name that is synonymous with far away, fabled, and/or impossible-to-reach destinations -- I recall what I said as a bratty, shrill little 11-year old in Texas when I was living there (newly arrived from New Jersey and having a terrible transition time). It was early 1981 and I was in the 5th grade and at Peebles Elementary School in Killeen near Fort Hood (where my stepfather was stationed at the time).

I *think* this is the full view of the Sankoré Madrasah, a UNESCO World Heritage site, though I can't tell for sure since there are at least two other historic sites. Islamic militants sacked the site in January 2013 as part of an ongoing civil war with an uncertain number of invaluable manuscripts destroyed.

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So to continue with the story, I was prattling away a mile a minute to whoever ("motor mouth" was the nasty name given to me in New Jersey by a semi-friend named Roger). This young girl (who may have been ethnic Indian, as in India Indian) then earnestly asked me in a slight accent of her own, "Are you from England?" I instantly replied in a shrill little bark, "NO!! BUT YOU'RE FROM TIMBUKTU!"

I remember it because another student heard it and thought it was hilarious, so much so that he would periodically recite it to me (which caused me to always recall the incident).

A crowd outside the same Timbuktu mosque and/or library shown above.

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What a sh!tty little brat and (as they say in England) prat I was.


Oh, yes, and I also recall that back in New Jersey a few years earlier in the late 1970s, while on one of my regular weekend visits to see my maternal (Polish) grandmother in South Amboy* in her house on Henry Street**, that I wanted to watch TV but she wanted to watch what she thought was the colorful musical Timbuktu! (This was a 1978 Broadway musical and there were many commercials for it on local New York City television stations.)

A Mali solider clashes with protestors in Timbuktu, January 2013. It was a very chaotic situation -- I'm still not entirely clear what happened or who was fighting whom.

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In point of fact, it was the 1959 black-and-white movie Timbuktu starring Victor Mature and Yvonne De Carlo (yes, that would be "Lily" from The Munsters) rather than the musical (which wouldn't have been televised at that time anyway). Grandma was disappointed while I proceeded to go on and on as though I "knew" it was the movie.

In point of fact, I had never even heard of the movie even as I got to watch what I wanted to (something stupid, no doubt).

Again, I was a sh!tty little brat and prat.

*I lived at the time in Long Branch with my dad and paternal grandparents.

**This is where my mom grew up and lived from 1948 - 1967, and where my deeply reclusive uncle still lives even in 2014.

The southwestern most corner of the U.S. State Department at 23rd and C Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 5:56PM June 22, 2014.

This is a strange no-man's land, especially on the weekend. And that corner of the State Department has always intrigued me.

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OK, that's all for now. Work is still deeply and worryingly uncertain. I'll try to update the blog tomorrow night, though it might not be until late Wednesday.

--Regulus