Saturday, November 29, 2014

Jukebox Saturday Night for Nov. 29th, 2014: Groovin' & Holding On Atmospheric Waves


"Forever and a Day" by Euge Groove from his new release Got 2 Be Groovin (2014)

The video is, I believe, the "official" one accompanying the song. I'm ot sure about the two still images showing what I assume is supposed to be smoke wafting in front of him. Perhaps he's a smoker.

Euge Groove -- whose "Fellowship Hall" is one of my favorite smooth jazz pieces -- is from Hagerstown, Md. His real name is Steven Eugene Grove. He just had a birthday on Nov. 27th (one day after mine), though he was born in 1962 or seven years less one day earlier than me.

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Both of the next two videos are energetic and upbeat although in different ways ...

First up ...


"Holding On" by Classixx from the duo's Hanging Gardens release (2013)

The video accompanying the song starts out in some unidentified building with the pair seated on a sofa but it quickly opens up into a nighttime drive through foggy Los Angeles -- including driving over the Sixth Street Viaduct -- that seemingly ubiquitous feature of countless music videos -- with the Los Angeles skyline visible.

It then segues into a foggy morning, and the drive takes you rapidly on a wide range of urban thoroughfares and busy freeways near familiar landmarks such as the Hollywood sign, and along more remote stretches of highway. Near the end, you are sent quickly to LAX and abruptly find yourself on a runway and taking off sunward and through the still-hazy / foggy morning sky.

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The second piece is from our favorite Mormon House DJ Kaskade ...


"Atmosphere" by Kaskade from his release of the same name (2014)

I've become a big fan of Kaskade since I recently discovered that awesome song "Eyes" featuring Mindy Gledhill as singer. This song, though, actually features Kaskade himself singing and the official video to it (embedded above) showcases a wonderful and diverse set of young people in a club scene.

The video and song reaches its thumping climax where the crowd carries Kaskade -- I think that's called crowd-surfing, something that in the real world is a very bad idea -- across the dance floor. The motif involves a "Club Foto" photo-booth, or at least some futuristic one that can read your hand imprint.


The song lyrics include some noteworthy lines that perhaps -- just perhaps -- reflect his Mormon upbringing (sorry, I'm stuck on that) such as:

"When I was young I could hear the sound / A melody pure and a rhythm loud / Oh the sound took me away / Carried through the vastness of outer space ..." "All my life I've been a star / Holding a light up in the dark / While I try to keep clear / Of all the waves in your atmosphere ..."

Indeed, the refrain is "Of all the waves in your atmosphere" -- which sounds perfectly meteorological in its sensibilities, though the album cover seemingly has a pun on "ATMOS" and "PHERE" as in "fear" (see album cover at left).

OK, that's all for now. I really ought not post any more entries until at least late Monday night.

--Regulus

By the Numbers: An Overview of My Weight Loss in the Last 2-1/2 Years Plus Some Unavoidable Political Commentary (w/ Apologies, As Needed)

*This entry was posted on Nov. 29, 2014. Also, I was a bit lacking in pictures to include with it so I improvised.*


I'm back from the gym on this Saturday early evening. It is already just about dark outside with the earliest sunsets of the year occurring right about now and for the next several weeks.

I had a good work out including 6.5 mile jog on the treadmill; hour of weightlifting (light to moderate); and a swim (which occurs after a brief stint in the steam room) -- all at the nearby Anthony Bowen YMCA.

I weighed myself, and I'm happy to report I maintained my weight through the Thanksgiving season, esp. as I had not been to the gym since last Monday. I weighed in at 142.5 pounds. This is 41.0 pounds below where I was my flabby heaviest when I rejoined the gym 2-1/2 years ago (I started going to the National Capital YMCA and switched to the Anthony Bowen in Oct. 2013).

I weighed 183.5 pounds on my first weigh-in back then after my first workout. In point of fact, I was closer to 185 pounds and a couple weeks earlier -- at this biometric screening event at the office, the results of which prompted me at long last to rejoin the gym, I clocked in at 188 pounds.

I don't count that number, though. I think 185 is more accurate -- which means I have had an average net weight loss of 42.5 pounds from my heaviest. Just FYI, I am only 5'7" with a relatively small frame, so my natural weight really should be in the 140 pound range.

Now I've also put on at least 4 pounds of muscle, so in point of fact, I have lost closer to 46 to 47 pounds of fat, which represents all but the last roughly 10 pounds of the 55 pounds of pure fat I had amassed between my all-time lowest weight in fall 2003 and my heaviest by mid-June 2012.

As an extreme range, I had gone in that period from an all-time low of 128 pounds (a number that was too low) to the 188 pounds or a whopping 60 pounds, but taking a more representative set of numbers, it was from the low of 130 pounds to the high of 185 pounds or 55 pounds. Much of that gain was due to all the sugary juice liquor drinks and hundreds of awful sugary shots I imbibed at Cobalt as a regular customer between 2004 and 2010.

This was also combined with no gym exercise rather than excessive eating.

In my new weight state, there are fluctuations about 4 pounds (roughly 141.0 to 145.0 plus or minus 1/2 pound) though it is typically in a narrow range (following a full work out) of 142.5 to 144.

So let's just say that I lost 45 pounds of fat and have experienced a net weight loss of 40 pounds.

To be clear, I stopped losing weight about 15 months ago and have maintained ever since. (Doesn't that put me in a special group of some sort??) And while I still have that "last 10 pounds" (or for me, perhaps more like At age 45 and given that I drink (even if vodka soda drinks), I am not going to get that last 10 pounds. I'm not even sure I want to at this point.

Having said all of this, I am acutely aware that I can at any point start to "fall off the wagon" (and onto a McDonald's Big Mac or Burger King Double Whopper), so I am not celebrating and instead being vigilant. Putting back on weight and the whole yo-yo weight loss/weight gain is fact of life. There have been some spectacular and painful failures.


The problem isn't just the non-metric tonnage of practically poisonous food that defines far too much American "cuisine" -- a devil's symphony of corn syrup, sugar, fat, grease, processed foods, salt, and meat from hormone-fed "mad cows" and supersized caged chickens served in massive McProportions with the not-so-subtle intention of keeping the populace doped up in an immobile torpor in front of a massive flat screen TV tuned to shrieking, unwatchable but vendible pop cultural effluvia in order to be useful "consuming tools" in the corporate capitalist economy.

It's also that once out of youth -- and age 45 is certainly "out of youth" -- the typical human body just "wants" to be fat because (having evolved over millions of years from earlier primates in vast epochs before civilization existed, much less American-style civilization) it is always has to be ready for fact that food might not be forthcoming that day or the next day.


As many Americans don't "believe" in evolution -- 'cuz God wouldn't "allow" them to come "from monkeys" -- they cannot relate to that particular fact and why it is actually highly relevant for understanding what is the fundamental nature of the problem.


I also wanted to note that my economics pundit guru Paul Krugman -- I'm a bit of a Krugmaniac -- has lost a substantial amount of weight (looking at the before and after pictures, I'd say at least 25 pounds). He talked about it a little in this blog entry. His method is different from mine. His involves "severe caloric restriction two days a week." Mine involves gym three times in a seven day period and as little unnecessary sugar as I can manage.

For instance, I have dramatically limited the amount of soda pop that I drink -- perhaps a single can of ginger ale after the gym -- and instead have substituted the flavored Vintage Seltzer water such as the raspberry or cherry-flavored. Now this isn't to say I don't have any drinks with sugar in them because, obviously, I do (e.g., Inko's or Gatorade). But when I do, I try to make sure I'm choosing the one with 16 grams of sugar rather than, say, 46 grams. (And I don't assume things overloaded with sucralose are any better -- I avoid those, too.)


I also avoid the really hard-core fast foods (much like pornography, you the stuff when you see it) as much as possible and try to eat a decent diet (typically avoiding large breakfasts or heavy lunches when then I have sit in a cubicle for hours afterwards).

Prof. Krugman links to a really good article on Vox.com in which the author Julia Belluz takes her findings from interviews with 20 leading nutrition researchers and puts them into a "10 tricks" list. It is probably one of the better articles ever written on this topic of weight loss, how to do it, and why it is so difficult. The article is here (link embedded): Surprisingly simple tips from 20 experts about how to lose weight and keep it off.

It's worthwhile reading. I will say that in my case, #7 -- namely, "Exercise is surprisingly unhelpful for weight loss" -- has not been the case of me because, I believe, I have managed to avoid self-defeating compensatory behaviors. The tracking part has been spot-on, though. Oh, and for me, it rather helps that I am a gay man living among 20-and-30-something judgmental "sorority girl" gay men in a larger city (Washington, D.C.) filled with young and fitness-obsessed people.

OK, jukebox Saturday night entry to follow.

--Regulus

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thoughts on the Late Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry and His "Old School" Washington World


As a transplanted and now long-time Washingtonian, I would like to take this time to talk about Marion Barry, our most famous, occasionally infamous, and certainly historical figure. Barry died this past Sunday (Nov. 23, 2014).

The "Mayor-for-Life" of Washington, D.C., as he was often called even though he hadn't been Mayor since January 1999, died early last Sunday at United Medical Center in Southeast D.C., after going into cardiac arrest. He was 78.

Then D.C. Delegate Walter Fauntroy holds Marion Barry's hand in the air to celebrate the latter's victory in a D.C. school board election on Nov. 2, 1971. This was Barry's first D.C. office. The woman next to him is Mary M. Treadwell, the second of his four wives.

Fauntroy -- who was succeeded by Eleanor Holmes Norton in 1991 -- is still alive. He's 81.

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Here is the lengthy Washington Post obituary and retrospective (link embedded): Marion Barry dies at 78; 4-term D.C. mayor was the most powerful local politician of his generation.

Blog Editor's Note: Most of the photos in this entry were taken from a photo gallery of 34 images that accompanied the article as a link but that I cannot now find. Thus, I don't have complete captions for all the photos, and I'm also uncertain of the date on at least one photo (noted below).

As for our local "paper of record," The Washington Post, it has had extensive coverage of Marion Barry's life and legacy. Unfortunately that legacy also included so much mismanagement, corruption, and years of venal "old school" D.C. politics.

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Marion Barry recovering in the hospital in March 1977 following gunshot wounds he suffered in the bizarre 1977 Hanafi Siege at what is now known as the John A. Wilson Building (at the time, it was just the District Building).

The Hanafi were a breakaway sect from the Nation of Islam and they stormed the building in what became a 39-hour siege in which 149 hostages were taken and one man killed (a young radio reporter named Maurice Williams). Barry was shot in the chest -- almost in the heart.

That incident and his role in it made it very popular with D.C. residents and made it all the easier for him to win the mayoral race the following year.

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That machine still exists in a somewhat modified form today today -- and, alas, is likely to keep right on buzzing around the well-intentioned but, I fear, clueless new Mayor-Elect Muriel Bowser (pictured left).

To be clear, I am NOT talking about his infamous crack smoking videotaped arrest seen 'round the world or the variety of personal foibles that got him in minor trouble later in life.

Honestly, I don't even care that much about that. I'm talking about the corrupted machine politics and ineffectual and severely dysfunctional local government over which he had total control for decades. The current yuppie boomtown gentrification of the city is happening pretty much independently of whatever the city government has done over the past quarter century.

Marion Barry on the night he was elected for the first time the Mayor of the District of Columbia, Nov. 8, 1978. That is his third wife, Effie Slaughter Barry, next to him. The late Effie is the mother of his only son.

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Yet it was precisely that crack smoking incident that caused The Washington Post editorial page -- with its the oddly morally supercilious and even puritanical streak -- to turn on him. The Post saw his crack-smoking (much like Clinton's Monica dalliance) was unforgiveable but his efforts governing and improving the lot of a then-majority black and poor city -- regardless of how corrupt or suspect the means and no matter the record of failure to achieve success. My main point is that I think it was a sort of white liberal guilt among The Post's senior including the Graham family itself that allowed this happen.

Marion Barry holds his then-newborn son Marion Christopher in a picture dated June 18, 1980. Barry had no other children.

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The Washington Post, in particular its combination editorial and op-ed pages, but also the newspaper overall and how it "framed" the news and world around it, is historically and foundationally the very font of the Washington Consensus's "self-evident" wisdom, values, preferences, and world-view, all of which in the present age can be summed up as Wall Street-friendly, working class-destroying neoliberal economics and neo-conservative imperialistic warmongering.

Yet one of the curious side features of the Washington Consensus -- which as an imperial courtier class has always focused on Big World Events with only passing interest in the local machinations within the imperial capital itself -- is how it has always strongly supported the economic and political enfranchisement of the D.C. area's African American population through muscular government policies and practices (whether Federal, state, and local including the D.C. Government itself) and in ways it long ago stopped supporting for the rest of the country and its working class (as it transitioned away from New Deal liberalism to its current neoliberal economics / neoconservative warmongering hybrid).

Mayor Barry accepts an $80,000 check from President Reagan at a White House event on July 20, 1983. The check was for a city youth program. (Again, I can't find the link to the photo gallery from which I got these pictures and instead I am going on memory.)

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Those policies and practices have indeed been successful over the years. It is no coincidence that today there exists a large black middle and upper middle class -- centered in Prince George's County, Maryland -- that is every bit as affluent as its white counterparts in Montgomery County, Md., or Arlington Co., Va., and that has no real analog elsewhere in the country (or at least of which I am aware).

Yet The Post management and publishing family (now former) owner has always has an odd relationship with the city's poorer black population that has remained within the District of Columbia to this day.

Marion Barry is arrested and perp-walked for crack cocaine possession and other charges, January 19, 1990.

This whole "undercover sting" episode greatly annoys me: The FBI leadership actually believing it could nail Barry in such a spectacular fashion for smoking crack, thereby causing the city's black population to turn on Barry and as a result, "proving" some idiotic point about how racially blind and great is the American criminal justice system. It would do this, in theory, through some stellar "let's-prove-how-color-blind-is-the-system" show-trial of a towering and tragic black figure. Instead, it oh-so-predictably quickly backfires and degenerates into farce. It takes a special kind of stupid to believe this.

This is what happens when the FBI leadership spends too much time in a Washington Consensus dinner party / Washington Post editorial board mindset. All it did was ensure Barry would be elected mayor a fourth time. (Re. this picture, yes, I realize that Meg Greenfield was the editorial page editor in the 1980s and 1990s.)

And, no, I'm not saying Barry should have gone to jail for years and decades for his crack smoking. I'm saying that this particular effort to "get" him was as laughable as it was doomed and showed how tone deaf and clueless was (is) the FBI.

It was the same prosecutorial mindset that gave us the O.J. Simpson travesty way back when (though in that case, it was an effort to hold a "fair trial" using a certain set of jurors chosen precisely for their socioeconomic and racial characteristics).

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Now I have to point out that there have been very influential black Washington Post journalists and pundits (typically they started out as journalists and segued into punditry and opinion writing as columnists) over the years who have been a major part of this dialogue including Colbert King, Eugene Robinson, Courtland Malloy, and Dorothy Gilliam, among others, serving as the direct interface between the mostly white Beltway courtier over-class elites and the city's black population. The Post management / ownership specifically cultivated such a group of journalists starting in the 1960s to have a bond with and connection to the city's black population (and I think that's just fine).

Left: Dorothy Gilliam in 2010. I actually had her as a seminar instructor for a single semester in Fall 2009 when I foolishly was in journalism graduate school -- a $50,000 waste. The course was held every Friday at The WaHoPo Building on 15th Street. It was a good seminar, as far as those things went.

(Now I don't mean to give short-shrift to the Washington City Paper, which I believe was the very source of the moniker "Mayor-for-Life" for Barry and covered him relentlessly and fearlessly. However, I'm focusing on The Post.)

Oh, and let's not forget Jonetta Rose Barras. She's the one whose 1998 book The Last of the Black Emperors explicitly likened Barry in the very title itself to an African despot. His death prompted her to write this amazing piece in The Post in which she wrote:

"So, I have come to bury Barry, not to continue any political packaging. The unvarnished truth is this: He squandered his potential and the public's trust. What's more, for many years it was mostly about him: his determination to dominate all facets of the District's political, civic and business life and to be heralded as the emperor, although in his final days, he was essentially clothesless and powerless."

All of them spent years talking and years about Marion Barry and urging him to do this or that thing their way, often being angry at him, but except for Barras, never forever turning on him. As alluded to above, the Washington City Paper also couldn't get enough of its Barry fix. (It was there that the term "Mayor-for-Life" might have even started. It was certainly prominently used.)


As for The Post, interestingly, D.C.'s black population -- especially its poorer working class ones -- never took much of an interest this "paper of record" and instead switched from the old Washington Star to the cartoonishly rightwing Washington Times since the latter appeared shortly after the former disappeared in the early 1980s.

That Times readership really never made much sense given the paper's flamboyantly rightwing Republican politics in an overwhelmingly Democratic city -- and merely confirmed (to me) that the issue was between The Post and the city's urban black poor. (Nowadays, of course, people don't much read print newspapers.)

However, I'm getting off topic since this entry is supposed to be about Marion Barry, not the Washington Consensus crowd.

Back to the story at hand ...

D.C.'s black population -- having become the overwhelming majority of the total D.C. population following massive white flight in the 1950s and 1960s, in particular to Montgomery Co., Maryland -- assumed self-rule and political power. This was formalized after Congress enacted D.C. home rule in December 1973.

Marion Barry gestures to supporters outside his trial in Washington, D.C., July 3, 1990.

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Barry leveraged his own role in the Civil Rights movement and took an active role in the aftermath of the April 1968 Martin Luther King assassination riots that destroyed significant sections of inner D.C. including along the 14th Street corridor into Columbia Heights. Barry gradually found his way onto the D.C. Council in the wake of home rule and then was elected mayor in November 1978.

It was the 1980s that were Barry's heyday. It was an era of a certain kind of political machine politics in D.C., and much of it quite corrupt and not pretty. Yet Washington, D.C., in the 1980s was also its own unique place (Cool "Disco" Dan, anyone??).

Marion Barry upon release from prison in Johnstown (actually, Loretto), Pa., on April 23, 1992 following a six month sentence for the single guilty verdict -- one count of possession -- among the multiple charges of perjury and possession.

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The crack epidemic that started in the later 1980s really decimated parts of the city and threw things in reverse, and the rumors of drug use swirling around Barry by that time along with general incompetence, mismanagement, and kleptocracy started to take their toll -- although he kept winning reelection and had a certain omnipotence about him.

UPDATED 4:01AM 12/6/2014: OK, I am updating this entry right now with what I think is a highly topically relevant column by a person I otherwise despise: WaHoPo columnist Richard Cohen. The shitty and vapid Cohen has some history with Barry that, I think, is newsworthy and worth posting in this entry. Cohen himself is a piece of shit who has been around for about a million years too long -- but you get that once you have a WaHoPo sinecure. OK, end of update.

Then came the spectacular videotaped crack smoking and arrest on January 18, 1990. It was at the old Vista (now Westin) Hotel by Thomas Circle and featured an FBI sting operation and a woman named Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore.

Marion Barry hugging his son Marion Christopher on May 21, 1998.

The younger Barry had a drug conviction in 2011 and was sentenced to 18 months probation.

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Again, this is when The Post editorial board turned on him -- although his fall from power would be a short-lived one with a mostly botched trial and brief stint in prison that achieved the exact opposite outcome of what the FBI and the white prosecutors wanted, which was the political ruination of Marion Barry. You don't do that in a majority black city suffering a massive drug and crime epidemic and think the outcome is going to be anything but what it was (ditto the O.J. Simpson trial farce).

Marion Barry at Howard University Hospital for a kidney transplant provided by a donor (pictured next to him), Feb. 27, 2009.

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No, I'm not saying that Barry should have gone to jail for years. Rather, I'm saying the way it played out ensured he would return triumphantly to politics -- and in the very year of the 1994 GOP mega-tsunami (though that is more a historical coincidence than anything else).

And so he was elected Mayor for a fourth and final time, except it (predictably) turned out to be a a wildly unsuccessful single term owing to the city's collapsing finances (even as gentrification was already underway). It was in 1997 that Congress and President Clinton stripped him of virtually all power when in it set up the Control Board put on the scene a man who would become his successor: Anthony Williams.

Gone were all of Mayor-for-Life Barry's trappings of power -- the vast fleets of limos, the large security details, the entourage that was somewhere between that of a U.S. president and an African kleptocrat.

David Catania talks directly to Marion Barry at the D.C. Council Meeting on May 6, 2009 on the day it voted to legal same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia. Barry was the sole no vote.

As an aside, the combative and slightly nutty Catania loathed Barry. Oh, and the guy at the far end is Tommy Wells, the ultimate cheese-doodle of an urban do-gooding clueless and ineffectual liberal. He's the counterpoint to the remaining members -- best embodied in Jack Evans (blond older guy at left): Socially liberal but utterly compromised by [fill-in-the-blank-name] Big Developer in whose pocket they reside.

Blog Editor's Note: I'm actually a bit uncertain on the date of this photo as I can't find the original Post link that contained the caption.

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Barry would eventually find his way back to the D.C. Council starting in Jan. 2005 in a strange and unlikely second act, representing Ward 8 until his death -- slowly becoming an increasingly anachronistic figure with occasional legal and ethical troubles in various areas not to mention health problems that included a kidney transplant in 2009 as a result of diabetes.

To the people of Ward 8 including Anacostia, though, he was their guy, representing them in a time of seismic social and demographic change with a frenzy of gentrification in the past decade that fundamentally changed the city's composition (now less than half black and still dropping).

Marion Barry on the day the D.C. Council voted 12-0 to censure him on March 2, 2010 following the release of a Special Counsel report regarding a conflict-of-interest and financial benefit from a contract he awarded to his then-girlfriend Donna Watts-Brighthaupt. Barry was stripped of all his committee assignments and leadership roles.

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Needless to say, Barry in his later years was no friend to the city's gay white population. Indeed, his vote against same sex marriage legalization in 2009 is one of the defining events of his later career.  This was ironic given that back in the 1980s during the height of the national AIDS epidemic, he was a good friend to the gay community.

Marion Barry with supporters outside Martin Luther King Elementary School, Washington, D.C., on the 2012 primary day, April 3, 2012.

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In all these ways, Marion Shepilov Barry, Jr. -- the 3rd of 10 children born in 1936 to a Mississippi sharecropper who rose to such prominence, influence, notoriety, and ultimately legend -- was always and always will be "Old School" D.C. He must always be remembered in that place and time.


Rest in peace, Marion Barry.

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On a personal note, I saw Barry only two times in all my years in D.C. I regret now that I didn't actually go up to him and say hello when I saw him seated by myself in the Chesapeake Room on H Street this past May.

I knew I should have said hello to him at the time. Let that be a lesson to you, Gentle Reader: When you see a legendary historical figure such as Barry was sitting by himself, you go up to her or him and politely introduce yourself, in this case, "Hello, Mr. Mayor, my name is Richard, and I am a longtime resident of the District of Columbia, and I just wanted to introduce myself to you."

Now I'll never have a chance.

--Regulus

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving in Millersville and an Unplanned Train Ride to Baltimore on a Rainy/Snowy Night

The view from outside my mom and Ray's place, Rol Park trailer village, Millersville, Md., 12:26PM November 27, 2014.

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Here I am in Millersville, Md. (not even a CDP in Anne Arundel County) in the little trailer where my mom and Ray live. It's in the Rol-park trailer park for folks 50 and over.

My trek up here yesterday on the MARC Penn Line involved a Metro ride from U Street/Cardozo to New Carrollton via L'Enfant Plaza. I thought I would be clever and avoid the day-before-Thanksgiving mobs at Union Station and catch the MARC train at the New Carrollton station stop (located immediately next to the Metro station).

It was raining and snowing at that point (more on that below). I got on the train and it was quite crowded, so I stood in a semi-convenient spot. Deep gloomy blue dusk was shading into a rainy / sleety night. The ride to BWI Rail Station stop is relatively short -- not quite 25 minutes.

Unfortunately, I managed to pick one of the frickin' MARC Penn Line trains that SKIPS BWI Rail Station. It stops at Seabrook (an odd name for a suburban Maryland location), Bowie State, and Odenton.

The conductor announced the next stop was flippin' Pennsylvania ("Penn") Station in Baltimore. I hoped it was just an oversight on his part but, nope, it wasn't. This initiated a series of text messages to my mom, who was on her way to the train station with Ray to retrieve me.

I got to frickin' Penn Station in the depressing, timeless urban purgatory of frickin' uptown Baltimore in the rain and sleet and late November early darkness. I was last to Penn Station back in March during another ill-fated trip to Baltimore.

Anyway, long story short, the MARC folks were quite used to this mistake and I was able to get the next train back toward Washington that had a BWI Rail Station stop. It would have been nice, though, if the conductor had announced that the first train was skipping a major station stop such as BWI Rail Station.

Java Moon Café at Penn Station in Baltimore, Md., 5:24PM November 26, 2014.

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There was a little combo canteen / snack bar / actual bar in Penn Station called the Java Moon Café and Bar. I was quite irritated at my screw up and at the Universe in general, but a glass of red wine relaxed me. I then caught the next train - which was barely 15 minutes later.

I actually enjoyed the ride back -- seeing the dimly-lit urban wasteland of the section of Baltimore through which the joint Amtrak and MARC Penn Line passes and seeing the eclectic skyline of Baltimore off in the distance under the low, swirling, nighttime overcast.

Look, I have a real fondness for Baltimore and all the year I've been in this region but it's still a bad-ass city in so many ways and nothing like D.C. for yuppie boom-town gentrification with resulting street-level safety improvements.

I was back at BWI Rail Station stop around 6PM. The station was crowded with people and the usual line of vehicles trying to pick up or drop off people. Anyway, I found my mom and Ray (who had in the interim driven back home) and we headed back to their home. We had dinner and I had a couple more glasses of wine, not to mention that little nip of Absolut Citron I bought at the nearby Northway Liquors store.

A blurry picture of me and my mom, Millersville, Md., 7:34PM November 26, 2014.

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I fell asleep in the cozy, carpeted little back room where I stay around 920PM but then woke up two hours later, called and spoke briefly to my dad. He was in a non-crazy and even pleasant mood and wished me happy birthday. I went back to sleep and got up finally at 1030AM, so I had a good and needed 12 hours of sleep.

Giant teddy bear in the backroom, Millersville, Md., 12:33PM November 27, 2014.

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We're going to the American Legion Post 275 today for a ready-made Thanksgiving dinner. This is where we went last year. I'll head back to D.C. tomorrow. It is technically a regular work day but I'm not going to make it into the office. I'll try to work a part-day from home.

Weather-wise, the following rain and snowfall amounts were recorded yesterday (and the whole event was captured in the calendar day of Nov. 26th):

KDCA: 1.06" / Snow: Trace (now there's a non-shock) (For the year, this precip. total pushed KDCA over the 40-inch mark to 40.91" or +4.65" year-to-date.)

KBWI: 1.19" / Snow: 0.3" (For the year, KBWI is at 49.00" precip. exactly or +10.95" year-to-date.)

KIAD: 1.20" / Snow: 1.6" (Daily Record)

KDMH (Maryland Science Center): 1.15" / Snow: Not recorded in climo summary. (For the year precip-wise, KDMH is just 0.48" from reaching the 50-inch mark. It doesn't have a full 30-year base-period normal yet.)

The KIAD snowfall was a daily record, surpassing the 1.1" set in 1978. The KDCA and KBWI records were safe.

Those records were 2.2" and 4.5", respectively, set at the start of the legendary winter season of 1898 - 1899.

Both locations have much longer records stretching back to 1871 and to 1888 and 1883, respectively, for snowfall. They thus include significant pre-airport periods.

OK, that's all for now.

--Regulus

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Just Noting My Half-90th, er, 45th Birthday -OR- Dubber Rucky Duo (UPDATED)

Updated 11:58AM 11/26/2014: See bottom of entry.


Today is my 45th birthday. (Ditto the Bert & Ernie duo. OK, they're more "in November" than a specific date, but still.)

How bizarre and off-the-wall weird is that??

I had a nice night tonight -- after a sort of stressful day at work involving all the Clean Cities stuff (except, as always, Andrea made it infinitely better than it would have been when I spoke to her). LP, Kristof, and I went to Sur La Place (which I think I've been writing incorrectly as "La Sur Place" in recent entries, or at least in emails) here in D.C. (way out in Palisades).

The food was delicious but the service crappy as the waitress / manager crapped out early on and left her tables to the busboy, who became the waiter. She kinda sucked. The part that really sucked is that she was -- I think -- our waitress the last two times that I was there (once in Sept. 2013 and again in Nov. 2013 for my 44th birthday), and she was great both times. Tonight, she wanted to be somewhere else.

Later, Kristof, LP, and I went to Larry's Lounge, where (1) I did NOT get into an argument with anybody but instead had a good time; (2) had a great conversation with Gary and Kristof about meteorology, gravity (not gravitational) waves; and breaking planetary waves (Kristof is a world-renowned expert in that field); and (3) enjoyed a group shot for my birthday that the bartenders gave. (The latter surprised me since I am NOT ANYBODY'S favorite customer there.)


As for my 45th birthday, I tweaked the "About Me" section of the blog to reflect that -- and it was harder than ever to find the damn section.

OK, that's all for now.

Oh, yes, I have to get up early, in a way, because the building maintenance man is coming to fix the wall in my bathroom now that the plumbers have come at 9AM (well, 920AM) for two days in a row to replace my toilet and pipes behind the wall.

I am also going to see my mom in Millersville, Md., in her wee trailer (with Ray). And I need to call my dad (who actually texted me tonight for the first time on his own forever). I intend to update the blog tomorrow night from the trailer, in particular, the two entries I have yet to finish. However,  I'm dreading passing through Union Station tomorrow. I'll be back home in my wee dusty efficiency on Friday.

Oh, and the weather issue about would-be accumulating snowfall in the immediate D.C. area is TOTAL BULLSHIT. It's NOT going to snow at all -- not in the D.C. area. To be clear, 17 of the last 20 Capital Weather Gang entries and approx. 3,150 comments (obviously, not all relevant) have been almost uniformly delusional in anticipating accumulating snow in D.C. rather than what will actually happen: A 0.50 to 1.0-inch light-to-moderate rainfall event with a few flakes of snow about 30 miles N and W of D.C. and Baltimore before it ends. YAY! WE WIN!

UPDATED 11:58AM 11/26/2014:

View from my Hampton Courts apt. with moderate wet snow falling, Washington, D.C., 10:57AM November 26, 2014.

*******

Well, whaddaya know, it actually is snowing moderately even here in D.C., as I can see outside my apt. window. And the radar looks impressive. I guess I was wrong when I said it wouldn't snow at all in the District proper.

SNOW ON MY BIRTHDAY!

The surface air temp is still 40F at KDCA at the 11AM hour. The CWG commenters are goin' wild. Apparently, it has accumulated to a few inches already way out along the Allegheny Front and into western Maryland.

Left: Portion of U.S. composite radar mosaic, 1548UTC (10:48AM EST) 11/26/2014.

I'm home this late morning / early afternoon -- trying to work from home. I'm also doing five loads of laundry -- clothes and my deplorable blankets / quilts (I desperately need new bedding). As it is, hopefully, I can get a dryer but one woman in the laundry room looks like she wants to use every dryer all day.

You know the sort: A young woman who puts three dainty garments each in five dryers and a bathroom mat in the sixth one (oh, and the seventh / final dryer is out of order). Then she leaves them in there for hours so that you're stuck -- and woe unto you if you try to move them. You have the whole Salon.com Feminazi crew down on you as a monster pervert (never mind you're a gay 45 year old man) and responsible for every atrocity this side of World War II.

Changing subjects, there was a fellow here earlier fixing the drywall in my bathroom now that I have a new toilet. I just need the tile guy to finish the wall. It has been a three-day ordeal.

Not looking so good right now.

*******

I have to get over to Millersville later today. I need to take a MARC Penn Line train. I think I'm just going to go to New Carrollton rather than even attempt to navigate Union Station.

OK, that's all for now. Interestingly, the nanosecond picosecond femtosecond that I expressed interest in the falling snow, it stopped.

End of update and entry.

--Regulus

Monday, November 24, 2014

You Might Just Make It After All ...

My good friend and co-worker (not to mention supervisor) Andrea was in Minneapolis this past weekend for a conference and staying in a hotel near Nicollet Mall. I beseeched her to take a picture of herself with the Mary Tyler Moore statue and -- presto! -- she did. This was taken on Nov. 23, 2014.

Actually, she took two pictures but her eyes were a bit closed in the first so I'll post this one.

*******

The immortal scene itself filmed on a cold day in Minneapolis in either late 1969 or early 1970. That confused looking lady in the headscarf is Hazel Frederick -- years later in 1996 she would introduce herself to MTM at (I believe) an event for her book After All. MTM welcomed her as "my co-star." Frederick died in Nov. 1999 at age 91.

As I mentioned before, when I met MTM at the old Dupont Supercrown (a book store was later replaced by the current Books-A-Million as a result of the Haft Family feud) back in November 1995 for the book signing of After All, I asked her what happened to that blue Tam o'Shanter. She said he had it for years until it was stolen.

Boo. You suck, thief. Big time. 

*******

I was last in Minneapolis -- on my one and only visit there -- with my crazy dad back in July 1986 when I was 16 years old. It was at least a week long trip. We drove on a big loop all the way to Sprague, Manitoba and International Falls, Minn. (alas, there are no waterfalls there), over to Split Rock Light and then back to Minneapolis where we stayed for about 3 or 4 days.

--Regulus

Sunday, November 23, 2014

BAROOOSHHH! Two Thematic Entries Today That Weren't and This Themeless One That Was

A still-colorful Japanese maple tree in the yard-let along the alley that runs behind both the row houses in the 2000 block of 15th Street NW and my building along the 2000 block of New Hampshire Avenue, Washington, D.C., 3:12PM November 22, 2014.

*******

So today's blogging efforts are a nice example of why I find it so frustrating to keep a blog...


For starters, I have a lengthy entry on the movie Interstellar -- which I saw last Sunday -- to post except there are a number of pictures I need to insert and to format the whole thing. That takes a few hours. I was going to do it, but then I heard the news of Marion Barry's death earlier today. I wrote an entry featuring my thoughts on him and the "old school" D.C. world he inhabited and defined and its relation to the "Washington Consensus" world of the Washington Post crowd.

Well, I think it's interesting entry.

However, In writing what I thought would be a quick entry, I soon easily spent 3 hours on it -- and still would need another at least another 2 hours to finish it.

The row houses along the 1400 block of W Street NW, Washington, D.C., 3:15PM November 22, 2014. I was walking to the YMCA when I took this.

*******

So in the end, nothing is getting posted today except this interim entry. Furthermore, I'm not even sure when I'm going to have time to complete and post both entries. Both could very well join a long line of entries that never get posted.

To be clear, those entries would get posted if I didn't try to hard to get pictures and formatting.

Oh, and needless to say, I didn't do ANY of the work I had intended to do at home this weekend for work.

The NWS composite radar mosaic for a large portion of the eastern U.S., 2038UTC (3:38PM EST) November 23, 2014.

*******

It is now nearly 5PM on Sunday afternoon and already starting to get dark on this cool, cloudy day. It is supposed to rain tonight -- indeed, the radar mosaic image for the U.S. shows abundant rainfall over the Gulf coast states and Ohio and Tennessee River valleys approaching the East Coast including the mid-Atlantic region.

Oh, and there is a chance of coastal storm / mixed precipitation event for the mid-Atlantic on Wednesday and heading north into New England on Thanksgiving.

Left: Today's 12Z GFS showing MSLP, 850-mb temperatures, and 6-hr precip. valid at hour 78 / 18Z (1PM EST) Nov. 26, 2014. That would a messy weather event on a very high travel day.

At this point, I doubt there will be accumulating snow in D.C. proper but I figured I would mention it. I doubt it not because I've been paying close attention but because that is usually a good guess for how these things turn out. Needless to say, the comment section over at the CWG is going wild.

As for now, I don't know what to do. I would like to get the heck out of this apartment for a few hours. I am ALMOST flat broke until Tuesday, at which point I should be OK. I have exactly $31.59 in cash on me and $2.25 in the bank. That's it.

Ain't that great? You can be happy now -- and you know who you are with off-the-charts unctuousness.


It is going to be quite a truncated week workwise as a result of the Thanksgiving holiday. It is also my birthday on Wednesday. To celebrate that event (I turn 45), I'm supposed to go with Larry and Kristof and perhaps Gary to La Sur Place in Palisades on Tuesday night.

The only chance I have to go to the gym this week will be tomorrow (Monday) night. I'm going to Millersville on Wednesday to see my mom and I think we (she, Ray, and I) are supposed to go to the Severna Park American Legion place for Thanksgiving dinner before I return on Friday. We also went there last year. It's a no-muss, no-fuss kind of affair in its middle Americana well-intentioned and even innocent, Big Ideas-free way.

OK, that's all for now.


I might try to post one of the two aforementioned entries if I can finish the damn composition and formatting. Alternatively, they might have to wait until later this week. Of course, given that I will be at my mother's place in a small trailer in Millersville, Md., for two nights with NOTHING to do, I suppose I will actually have the time.

Oh, yes, I forgot: I had a leak behind my bathroom wall on Thursday and while it has been temporarily been fixed, the pipes are to be replaced tomorrow.

However, the building manager is taking this opportunity to have my toilet replaced. This is the interim one installed right after the cellphone disaster just hours before my Buffalo trip with Gary last January.

It is to be replaced with a tank-mounted one that probably has a weak and wimpy flush rather than the powerful BAROOOSHHH! one I have now.

I'm going to miss that admittedly water wasteful but awesomely powerfully flushing toilet. We had some good times together.

This also means I have to clear out of my apt. by 9AM tomorrow. And again on Tuesday to have the wall closed up.

--Regulus