Sunday, April 26, 2009

Remembering Bea Arthur (b. May 13, 1922, d. April 25, 2009); Sudden D.C. Spring Heat and Allergies; & Sundry Other Notions

This first half of this entry features my thoughts on Bea Arthur's passing and the second half features sundry items concerning the weather, my allergies, old inns and bars, the Freemasons (!), school, and my job search.

The old brick "garden apartment" style structure at 7404 Columbia Ave., College Park, Md., 12:55PM, April 25, 2009. This is on the farthest most backstreet of College Park near the Metro station and the CSX/MARC Camden line tracks.

The building looked vaguely haunted there in the warm spring sunlight cloaked by the budding trees.


I note with sadness the passing of Bea Arthur of eternal The Golden Girls (Dorothy Zbornak) and Maude (Maude Findlay) TV sitcom fame.

There were two nice obituary articles written about her one by The Associated Press and the other by The New York Times.

The AP link (as it appeared 0n Google news) is here and The New York Times online one is here. Note that her Maude character surname Findlay is misspelled in the AP story as Finley.

I agree with the AP story that the 1974 musical movie remake of Mame starring Lucille Ball in which she played Vera Charles was not a good one. That movie was a remake of the Broadway musical that Bea Arthur starred in with Angela Lansbury.

The earlier version called Auntie Mame in 1958 that starred Rosalind Russell was far, far and away better, but that had nothing to do with Bea Arthur's performance.

All of these plays and movies were based on the gay Patrick Dennis' original 1956 novel Auntie Mame.

I saw Bea Arthur once in one-woman show "And then there's Bea" at the Warner Theatre in 2002.

On a political note, I recall she was very anti Al Gore, if only because of her extreme animal rights stance (I'm not sure what Gore did that upset her -- she was a vegan). However, she made a film clip that -- I have speculated -- may have very well have swayed enough Nader / vegan voter types in Florida for the 2000 election to allow the Bush Crime Cartel to steal the election. Again, that is just speculation on my part.

On a personal note, I have two Bea Arthur related tidbits ...

I recall the show Maude from my VERY early childhood. The show aired from 1972 -- as a spin off All In the Family -- to 1978. I recall it was on Monday nights at 9PM and my mom would let me stay up "late" to watch it.

This was most likely in 1974 - 1975 -- based on the show's air time I found here when I was 4 to 5 years old.

This was in my mom's pre-Belgium period when she was still living in Eatontown, New Jersey

The second one involves the old and now-gone Yenching Palace restaurant on Connecticut Ave., NW, in Cleveland Park.

That was the place I HAD WANTED to go to lunch with Mr. Sirius, but that never worked out. Boo.

Anyway, on the wall in the foyer of that restaurant was a framed picture of the front page of an edition of the old Washington Star.

As I recall, it was from 1973 or 1974 when a "Red" (PRC) Chinese delegation had come to D.C. to meet with Nixon administration folks.

Yenching Palace -- which was in that long ago era a rare Chinese restaurant, this being long before "Yum's" and other Chinese ghetto - garbage fast food -- was a place from which the Chinese delegation ordered take out.

COINCIDENTALLY, there was a story about Bea Arthur in the lower corner of that front page. The occasion was a resolution past by the Maryland state senate honoring "Maryland native" Bea Arthur (she grew up in Cambridge, Md., though she was born in New York City) for her achievements.

The vote was ALMOST unanimous but for ...

... one state senator who voted against the resolution because of that Nov. 1972 (first season) episode where Maude (who was supposed to be in her late 40s) gets pregnant and opts for an abortion. It was immediately pre-Roe v. Wade and VERY controversial at the time.

Goodbye and Godspeed, Dorothy Zbornak. Thank you for being a friend.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist that.)

I will refrain from any speculation on whether or not there had been -- as widely reported -- acrimony between Bea Arthur and one or more of the other Golden Girls, especially Betty White

That aside, I'm rapidly running out of Golden Girls that I can ever hope someday in this life to meet!


Changing subjects ...

I need to note that the weather has rapidly swung in the past week from cool and wet to outright hot and humid with AGONIZING levels of tree pollen for me.

Stock internet photograph of trees in a forest.

My allergies are in overdrive and I've had to take a bunch of Benadryl although I hear Zyrtec is better. Benadryl leaves you in a drowsy torpor, as it did yesterday at the Maryland Day festival on the McKeldin Mall on campus.

Some of pictures in this part of the entry were taken as I walked to the campus and then back, while others were taken Friday night at Phil's place.

It wore off last night as I went to Cobalt with Gary and so I had an allergy attack walking there and then while at the bar. This made me look like I was high on cocaine or something -- and some jerk actually said that and I yelled at him to get away from me. I've seen the guy before and he's kind of nuts. Naturally, that guy was friends with some of the bartenders. It always works out like that to maximize how bad I look.

This is the Carriage House & Tap Grill (I've never been there) in the Rossborough Inn on the UMCP campus, 4:00PM, April 25, 2009.

The Rossborough Inn is the oldest structure on campus, well predating the very existence of the University of Maryland, College Park (although most of the current building probably is not original). It is right along Rt. 1 and its history stretches back to its construction between 1804 and 1812, although the marker on the building from 1939 gives 1798 as the year it was built. Supposedly, it and Morrill Hall on campus are both haunted.


Returning to last night, my bartender friend C/H was on duty upstairs and told some guy repeatedly to move his drinks out of his well.

The crowd wasn't the usual all-gay dance club kind of weekend on as it was some special event whose theme I couldn't determine but it was a mix gay-straight and male-female crowd.

Anyway, the guy threw one of his drinks in Chris's face and then fled. It was Jim Beam and stung. Chris was OK (although he left at that point). The guy fled very quickly but he was sort of stuck out in the event he tries to return. That was basically assault and battery. Naturally, the guy is banned permanently should he be dumb enough to try to come back (which he probably will try).


Back to the weather ... temps are in the lower 90s Fahrenheit again today (boo), even hotter than yesterday.

Yesterday, Dulles (IAD) reached a daily record high of 92F, while BWI reached 90F and DCA (by the cooler Potomac) reached 87F. The IAD record was one degree shy of the all-time April high temp. record of 93F.

Of note, the IAD low temp. the previous day (April 24) was 36F, so this was a 56F temp. swing in less than 48 hours. The low so far at IAD this month is 31F set on April 9th.

Right now (nearly 4PM on Sunday afternoon, April 26, 2009), it is already 92F at DCA (the first 90F reading of the season) and 91F at IAD and 90F at BWI. There is a 20POP for t-storms today. Looking ahead, it is forecasted to be much cooler (around 70F) with a chance of showers by Tuesday - Wednesday.

Of note, the IAD April record of 93F was set April 17, 2002. IAD records only go back to 1963. The BWI and DCA April records are 94F and 95F, respectively, and occurred on multiple occasions.

There were some t-storms in the area last night with a brief, drenching downpour here in D.C. proper, although officially it only amounted to 0.01" at DCA and IAD and "Trace" at BWI.

Storm clouds building as seen from the 1900 block of New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. last night, 8:00PM, April 25, 2009.

We've almost made up our big precip. deficit for the year so far and ended the hydrological drought conditions, at least for now, that were developing.

Speaking of official weather observations for Washington, D.C., Gary has been going on and on about having met (and how nice is) the guy -- Mark Richards -- who has overseen the weather observations at National Airport (DCA) for the past 30 years.

DCA -- pictured here with downtown DC in the distance -- is the official weather recording station for the District of Columbia (even though it is technically in Arlington, Va.) and has been since 1941. (Prior to that, the records were kept at various places in downtown D.C. stretching back to the beginning of official weather record keeping in 1871.)

Richards has done it for so long (since circa 1979) that his own personal stamp, so to speak, is on a full 30-year climate data set for Washington, D.C. Gary even got to see the magical snow ruler and snow board used for measuring ever-more-elusive snow at DCA.

He even showed Gary the OFFICIAL snow measuring stick that goes up to 40" for measuring snowfall in D.C. (DOUBLE what we would ever get in even the most extreme event). Here it is:

Yes, that is THE OFFICIAL WASHINGTON, D.C., SNOW STICK! This is Mark Richards holding it. Gary took this image on Friday, April 24, 2009 when he met him. (I think he takes the stick home with him this time of year.)

Snowfall is measured once an hour on a snowboard (after having been wiped clean from the previous measurement) during a snow event with 10 measurements and an average then taken of those to get the hourly measurement. In many winters of late, this has been almost a non-issue, or rather, non-event.


Speaking of images of other strange Washington, D.C., things, here is a picture I took last week I've been meaning to post ...

It is the inside big Masonic Temple located on 16th St., NW, a few blocks from where I live. I discovered last week the place is actually open during the day and I took a tour inside. The place is officially called the the Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Southern Jurisdiction, Washington D.C.

On that central "altar" were copies of the Bible, the Koran, the Pentateuch, and the Bhagavad Gita. How very "catholic" and ecumenical. The tour guide -- a young GWU student named Patrick -- said there are 2 million Freemasons in the U.S. He said the next "big" event scheduled there is a biennial something-or-other scheduled for this October.


Speaking of Gary, here is a picture of him playing Phil's Wii bowling game, Friday night, 11:25PM, April 24, 2009.

Anyway, back to my allergies, I still have a lingering sinus headache. I'm really hoping this frickin' tree pollen does it thing and gets out of the air quickly. My problem period is typically mid-April to mid-May. It is one of the reasons I prefer a cool, wet spring. I also hate hot weather -- weather "dry" or "humid," I don't particularly care.

As it is, I'm pretty much staying inside this Sunday afternoon in my a/c - cooled, dusty, wee efficiency.

My poor little window a/c -- pictured above, and, yes, I keep it on 60F, although it never really gets below about 68F in my apt. -- gets SO much use, including regularly through the wintertime since my place gets so stuffy and warm so quickly, esp. in the winter when others have the heat on and the warm air filters into my apt. whether I want it or not (I usually don't, not that warm anyway).

A purple-lavender flowered azalea bush at the corner of Dartmouth Ave. and College Ave., College Park, Md., 4:18PM, April 25, 2009


As for my job search, I was unable most of the weekend to get into the careers Web site for a consulting company that has a number of climate and energy related research assistant and associate positions. I applied for two positions last week and the site finally was back up and I applied for a third one. I have three more to go.

As for school, I really need to focus on my ONE class this semester. My other class is really just an easy 1-credit seminar whose only grade is based on attendance, although the noontime Friday meeting time has proven challenging for me because my life is so out of whack these days.

My main class is an energy policy one. I've done essentially zero work for it. I have to write up three summaries (each just 1 page) on the readings (few of which I've done) and then a 15 page paper. My topic is something about cellulosic ethanol (as opposed to corn based ethanol) or other such biofuels.

Memo To All: Switchgrass holds a really big eco-friendly promise of transportation fuel and greenhouse gas emissions reduction salvation.

The trouble is I'm as burnt out on school as I am with office cubicle life, except I never really started my post-academic "career" life in any meaningful way.

I also don't even need this class to graduate -- I graduate in May 2009 no matter what as I have finished all my requirements and electives, and whether I get an "A" or "C" in it (no, that's not my goal), it won't make the slightest difference in my upcoming prospects, and there is zero chance of impressing the professor and having him want me to stay on as a Ph.D. student (he doesn't really like me).

This is masters degree no. 3. Sigh. My GPA now is 3.5/4.0.

Here is a picture of Phil with Oliver taken Friday night at Phil's house, 11:39PM, April 24, 2009.

Stephanie, if you're reading this, Oliver took that raw hide bone treat out of the kitchen cabinet his'self ...


So that's about all for now. My next planned update will be mid-week.



rita said...

Try Zyrtec! I've been taking it about 6 weeks. This time last year my allergies were way worse then they are now. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I might actually enjoy Summer.

Regulus said...

I'm going to try it. I've had a few other folks highly recommend it to me, too.

(We sound like some online version of an ad for Zyrtec.)

Rita said...

Honestly, I've been out walking around smelling flowers, etc... The true test will be during haying season which starts in June.