The intersection of 16th and V St., NW, Washington, D.C., earlier today, Feb. 4, 2009. I live very close to here.
Hm. What to write?
I need to update both this blog and my Mr. Sirius blog and then I have to dedicate a significant amount of time to two projects for my contract job. As a result, I may not have many new entries between now and the end of next week, or rather the entries may be much shorter than my usual sprawling ones.
As for my Mr. Sirius blog, apparently it is a deeply bitter and bitchy one, which wasn't my intention. I also note that it was Groundhog Day on Monday when the most famous groundhog of all, Punxsutawney Phil (pictured here) is pulled out of his hole on Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pa., and held up to the thick press of reporters and glaring Klieg lights for a truly dumb "weather forecast" involving the purported length of "winter" weather.
However, as I was once a meteorologist and thanks to the day's Bill Murray 1993 movie of linked association whereby one repeats something over and over until one learns what is important and what is not, I suppose it is somehow appropriate to note the two together. Yes, I refer to my in my Mr. Sirius fixation, and the fact that I still seem to be coming up short of the movie's moral of changing my priorities.
As for work related stuff, one project involves writing up a report on nuclear power plant safety culture -- and I can do that as I went to an all-day workshop at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, Md., yesterday.
The second project is a more tricky one involving NRC research and development of the next generation of nuclear reactors, although in fact this probably falls under the purview of the Dept. of Energy (DOE).
These two projects are due next week ("COB" Tuesday and Friday, respectively) and are worth a combined $2,000 in income to me. I'm already down to about $9,000 in remaining student loan refund cushion money.
Nuclear Safety Culture & Security Culture Workshop...
As for my NRC visit, I went to what was called the "Public Workshop on Development of a Policy Statement on Safety Culture and Security Culture." I actually got to NRC headquarters (via the Metrorail to White Flint) by 8:00AM. Yes, 8:00AM on the button.
The White Flint Metro platform in Rockville, Md., on a morning with rain and snow mixed, 7:58AM, Feb. 3, 2009 with NRC headquarters looming up just beyond the station.
I'm so not a morning person.
NRC headquarters, 8:00AM, Feb. 3, 2009
By the way, I just discovered that my cellphone pictures that I thought were randomly numbered but consecutively rising are in fact telling the date and time. Thus, this picture was 0203090800 (Feb. 3, 2009, 8:00AM).
NRC Chairman Dale Klein -- pictured here in the ground floor hearing room shortly before he spoke -- gave the opening remarks at the Feb. 3, 2009 workshop.
There was a reactor session after lunch held on the top (18th) floor. The view in the hallway was fabulous, although the view was to the west, so I couldn't see into D.C., including the 10+ mile distant Washington Monument. It was possible to see the front range (they're not called that) of the Blue Ridge about 50 miles to the west.
The NRC Commission members have their offices on the top floor. There are currently four members, including the chair, with one vacancy.
Here is the 18th floor conference hall during the reactor session.
Needless to say, I was so odd man out there in a room filled with middle aged and senior men in suits with long history in the nuclear power industry. I wanted to ask a question at one point but thought better of it lest I come across as dumb as I actually am on these topics. I've never even been to a nuclear power plant. I'm much more comfy in a school setting ...
Academic Culture ...
As for school, well, I have two classes and readings to do (I almost never do readings for my classes as I simply cannot concentrate and/or find the time) but no set assignments just yet. Tomorrow is a campus day -- that is, I go to College Park. I will also go to the campus gym (the Eppley Rec Center) for my third work out. Needless to say, there is no evidence of improvement yet and I'm pretty much feel like a small blob.
Dog Walking and Cat Crouching Culture ...
Earlier today I walked over to Phil and Stephanie's place to walk Oliver, their new dog (see previous entries). I wasn't able to figure out how to put the lease on his collar properly so instead I took him to the fenced in backyard where he did doggy business.
Oliver on the back deck.
The crazy cat, Jasmine, accidentally got outside for a bit because I left the screen door open. While I got Oliver inside, Jasmine crept in (hissing as is her wont) because it was simply too cold for her. I shut the screen door.
Phil's backyard is at the edge of a steep hillside that plunges down to Rock Creek Parkway and the backside of the National Zoo.
Trouble was, I had to briefly lock Oliver back in his crate and while I was gone, Jasmine totally disappeared. I spent the next 20 minutes going up and down the four flights of stairs from basement level to the third floor looking under beds. Naturally, Jasmine ignored my calls. Meanwhile, Oliver, who I let out as he was getting agitated, was constantly underfoot as I was looking for the cat, and he was making that whistling whining noise dogs make sometimes. I wasn't sure if Jasmine in fact had gotten back outside. In the end, I found her -- crouching behind the sofa.
The Northumberland building, 2000 block of New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., Feb. 4, 2009. I live in the building next to it (on the right). The Northumberland is a nice looking building with condos (not rentals). This building has been featured in some movies.
Weather Culture: D.C. Snowless Blues
We actually had a dusting of snow this morning here in D.C. and it flurried a bit today. However -- and at this point I'm actually just benumbed and indifferent -- we missed out again on significant snow.
There was 5+ inch snowfall last night in Philadelphia with the airport getting the most of anywhere at 8.4" This has happened before, such as in the 1996 blizzard when a hard-to-believe 30.7 inches fell there.
I think they have a funny way of measuring snow at PHL. By contrast, DCA has the opposite problem -- always coming in really low.
There was also 3 to 6 inches on average across central and southern New Jersey (my home state) last night, although NYC actually missed out on it.
Finally, there was also snow last night across parts of central Virginia around the Richmond area.
NYC, Philadelphia, and Boston have all had heavy snowfall events this winter. So has frickin' Raleigh, N.C. -- on Inauguration Day when D.C. had just sunshine.
Expanding outward ... this winter has witnessed a significant snowfall in Seattle around Christmas. I once lived in Seattle 1988 at age 18 and have since visited several times and sometimes I wish that I had stayed there.
There was also snow in Las Vegas (pictured here) last month totaling about 2" in the city proper. I once visited Las Vegas in Dec. 1996 and a letter that I sent to the Las Vegas Review-Journal after the trip was published in Jan. 1997. That letter upset hundreds, maybe thousands of people and I even received a piece of hate mail.
There was also snow in both Houston (in the heart of Bush World) and New Orleans. I had real fun there with my friend Brian back in 1997 but now I feel badly about it in the wake of what happened to that city because of Katrina, Bush, and the massive Federal and State failures that destroyed the city ...
Snow falls in New Orleans on Dec. 11, 2008
By the way, my trip to Las Vegas took me through Houston on a cold night in which, yes, there were snow flurries in Houston as the jet was taking off.
Even London just had its heaviest snow in 18 years with 6 to 8 inches falling. Interestingly, I was actually in England the last time it was that snowy in London: in Feb. 1991. I was living about 40 miles away in Oxford in a weird and ultimately useless for me exchange program at something called the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
Even more weirdly, both Madrid and EVEN parts of the United Arab Emirates have had unusual snowfalls this year.
But not here in Washington, D.C., where the last real snowstorm was nearly six years ago on Feb. 16, 2003 ...
... and where we've been below to way below normal ever since, even as the 30-year average is trending sharply downward at the rate (extrapolated outward) of approx. 9" per century.
The current NWS official 30-year average for DCA snowfall is based on the 1971 -2000 period and is 15.2 inches, down about 13 % from the 1961 - 1990 average of about 17.5 inches
As soon as the next update occurs in about 2 years when the 30-year period will shift to 1981 - 2010, that figure will almost certainly drop by at least another inch.
U.S. Political Culture ...
I was going to post a political commentary -- diatribe -- about the neo-Confederate crazies who are blocking Obama's desperately needed stimulus bill.
I was going to write a screed about how Democrats couldn't govern if they had a 99-seat advantage in the Senate and a 434-seat advantage in the House ... and how the rightwing agit-prop machine, the RNC-GOP Death Star, and the usual rightwing think tank circle jerk crowd ...
... in cahoots with a whored out main - stream media ... think the gang on ABC's This
Nor will I mention how the Republicans and the media are intentionally mimicking the way they helped to destroy Pres. Clinton's effort to reform America's bankrupt and immoral health care system in 1993-94 ...
... with the GOP believing this will result in a glorious 2nd Republican Revolution in 2010 just like in 1994, since a theocratic and fascist state run by a corporate oligarchy would be fine with them ...
... one in which the entire edifice of the New Deal, much less the Great Society, was destroyed and replaced human and planet - devouring corporate fascism masquerading as "the free market", all while the populace remains whipped up in an atavistic frenzy over chimerical "threats" such as gay marriage and doped up on low Protestant fundamentalism ...
Bottom line, NEVER, NEVER listen to ANYTHING "the Washington Consensus" crowd tells you to do ... they're all criminals, con artists, and crazies.
I'm so glad Tom "Puff" Daschle quit. He's exactly the wrong kind of person for what America needs at this time of crisis.
As Glenn Greenwald pointed out, Daschle is a whore's whore in the pimped out world of high powered Washington lobbying and influence peddling, not to mention the most ineffectual opposite leader ever during the Bush Reign of T/Error. Not sure what Pres. Obama was thinking in nominating him.
Anyway, the final stimulus bill will be all bullshit ineffectual tax cuts (i.e. TOTALLY wasted money) for the super rich and the plunderers who got us into this mess in the first place, and zero for anything actually Keynesian and therefore effective.
Again, the neo-Confederate, corporate fascist wing of the GOP *wants* a deflationary depression with liquidity trap conditions. That's their GOAL. Remember that.
America is in serious trouble and will probably go into a deep depression and perhaps civil strife in the next few years, say, 2014, by which time I hope to be living in Australia, New Zealand, or Canada.
But I've decided to skip the diatribe, if only for my readers' sakes.
That's all for now. My next entry probably will be over the weekend.