Thursday, August 30, 2012

End of Summer Season D.C. Dreamscapes

Sunset on the National Mall tonight with the Washington Monument silhouetted about a half mile away, Washington, D.C., 7:22PM, Aug. 30, 2012. I was walking home after staying late at work.

In 3 weeks or so, D.C. will have its own version of a special equinox sunset that maybe we should call "Monumenthenge."


I am in the process of composing the first of two planned blog entries with pictures from my Jersey short trip. I have lots of pictures to post. However, I want to post a preliminary entry that includes items I wrote last night (and was going to post as an "entry-within-an-entry" except I have decided against that and I'm instead posting it in this entry) and tonight.

Sunset view on L'Enfant Promenade by L'Enfant Plaza, Washington, D.C., 7:16PM, Aug. 30, 2012.


I have been having trouble starting this entry because I continue to rather depressed over the usual topic. I am also unhappy that my gym presently is in its annual two-week shutdown and I cannot go until next Tuesday (Sept. 4th). I was doing really well with the gym workout and had lost 10 pounds, and redistributing some additional weight, but now this frickin' YMCA National Capital "annual shutdown" is underway, and I just know I'm going to totally lose all the gain.

I'm going to once again be a dugong-like creature, except I won't graze contently on sea grass in shallow sunlit tropical seas just off the coast of Africa, Arabia, Madagascar, Ceylon/Sri Lanka, the Malay-Indochina peninsula, and the sprawling Indonesia archipelago such as the Banda Sea, not to mention the Andaman and Nicobar Island chain.

Enid Haupt Garden at the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C., 7:20PM, Aug. 30, 2012.


Last night, I thought the TV dinner I ate -- a crappy and old Lean Cuisine -- was going to make me sick because it may have been the one in my bookbag for a full day over a week ago that I intended to throw out after returning to my freezer, but I forgot to do so. It was just a beef and broccoli one that I purchased two weeks or so ago at Harris Teeter. However, I did not get ill as I feared.

Last night, I was home watching TV as I am right now, although tonight I walked home and stopped at No. 9 for the usual two drink special.

Ariel Rios EPA Building at Federal Triangle, Washington, D.C., 7:29PM, Aug. 30, 2012. Ariel Rios is a very ornate building from the 1930s, but its name "Ariel Rios" dates to the 1980s when the structure housed DEA.


Last night, I watched the old sitcom reruns on Antenna TV including Good Times and Sanford & Son, and now the more recent ones on TV Land such as Everybody Loves Raymond and later, The King of Queens. I also saw new episodes of The Exes (quite funny) and The Soul Man that were aired in between as well. As I was last night, I am very tired and need to sleep. Maybe I'll watch a couple episodes of The Golden Girls -- it appears as though it is on.

Children / Familes of the Corn: This is one of those ubiquitous and, yes, captivating ads in the D.C. Metrorail system this summer put up by the Corn Famers Coalition / National Corn Growers Association showing Middle American corn farmers and their families. This particular ad at Metro Center features the McCauley Family of White Cloud, Kansas. Of note, the grown son (far right holding little girl) and the (grand?)father and (great?)grandfather (directly above the "44") are also featured in another such ad. A dozen or so such illuminated ads have filled downtown stations all summer.

I think the idea is to encourage endless subsidies and other favorable treatment for growing, like, quadrillions of acres of corn in an industrial mono-agricultural ecological wasteland (USA #1!), all to ensure an endless supply of high-fructose corn syrup, itself the basis of the very healthy American food chain.


Obviously, I am not watching the GOP / Mitt Cultic Hate Fest '12 this week. It's just the usual walk-out-into-heavy-traffic-but-Jesus-will-save-us GOP yahoos getting whipped up into a cult-like frenzy and in general doing what yahoos do.

And while the GOP Rightwing Death Star blasts its planet-destroying beam of lies, the useless and amoral corporate mainstream media are diligenting trying to get a "balanced" story.

In the case of CNN case, that Fox News Channel hostess-in-the-making Erin Burnett and Wolf-the-Whore are both endlessly and vapidly impressed with the Romneys (both Mitt and Ann) and Paul Ryan, whatever bizarro-world American "savior" he is supposed to be. Let's not even cover what the Fox News animals and zombies are up to.

Ha ha


I do recommend this Matt Taibbi piece in Rolling Stone: Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital.

I also recommend Paul Krugman's blog entry earlier today on the topic of media-whore worship of the fundamentally fraudulent Ryan.

And here is Krugman's Friday Aug. 31st column (already posted on the NYT website) making the point about Ryan and Medicare.


Dream-Time ...

Oh, yes, I had a very weird dream in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. It was another one involving trees, except in this one, I was not high up in the boughs of a winter bare tree with my friend and supervisor A., who was angry at me (in the dream) and because of that, I could not grasp any of the branches. My arms just went right through them. And I could see through other winter bare trees the Washington Monument and Capitol Building.

In the dream Wednesday morning, I was in line with a bunch of people looking at a distant row of summer green trees with one sticking above the rest. We were waiting in line to talk to the Secretary of State -- except rather than Hillary Clinton -- it was a strange Chinese woman who was seated. People were telling her where they were going and she really didn't care. But then I told her that I had some terminal illness (possibly cancer -- no, I don't have that in real life) and she was very concerned.

I've no idea what that means.


As for this morning, I dreamed I was in a warm, sunlit turquoise ocean with over a shallow sandy bottom covering large pipes. I went under water -- but the surface was not there. I started breathing anyway, inhaling the water, but before anything could happen, I woke up.

OK, that's all for now. I should have my full Jersey shore vacation pictures entry up by Saturday, though I may post a brief musical interlude tomorrow night (or not).


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back from the Jersey Shore -- Interim Update

Updated 12:30AM 8/30/2012: I was not able to finish the new entry tonight of Jersey shore pictures. I'll try again tomorrow although, it conceivably may not be until Saturday.

The beach at Wildwood Crest, New Jersey as seen in a strangely "veiled" photograph that I took with my cheap cellphone camera, 1:26PM, Aug. 26, 2012.


Hello, Gentle Reader.

I am back from my Jersey shore trip to Wildwood (well, actually, Wildwood Crest). I actually returned with Gary and Wendy last night around 12:30AM in a fast drive back via 295 and 95 -- we took the Cape May - Lewes ferry on the way there. I will have a lot more to say on this trip in what two planned entries, the first containing my pictures and the second containing the pictures that Wendy took.

Yours truly at the Jersey shore, Wildwood Crest, N.J., 12:01PM, Aug. 26, 2012.


The trip was very nice, except it was too short and my never-ending fixation on You-Know-Who (that would be Mr. Sirius / MH) flared up badly last Tuesday and filled my thoughts to the point of depression. I realize it is a symptom and not a cause, but there you have it.

However, I still had a very good time, and Gary and Wendy are terrific traveling companions. We stayed at the Jolly Roger Motel in Wildwood Crest (a dry town, although neighboring Wildwood is not).

Vintage Jersey shore carnival-like kitsch seen at the Mariner's Landing Pier, one of 3 such piers in Wildwood, New Jersey, 4:48PM, Aug. 26, 2012.


The weather while there was mostly agreeable with sunshine mixed with cloudy and showery spells. The big exception was Saturday evening into Saturday night which featured an amazingly long-lived violent thunderstorm on Saturday night, about which I will have more to say. There must have been 5 inches of rain (there was flooding) and about as much lightning as I have ever seen in a single event. And the small but violent cluster of long-lived storms remained directly over southern Cape May County. Of note, the power flashed several times but did not go out as it would have in the D.C. area.

DOX base reflectivity radar at 0400 UTC (midnight EDT), Aug. 26, 2012 during the height of the storm over Cape May County. (This image was one of a series that is archived for several days on the UCAR weather radar site.)

As Gary noted, the 8-hour loop shows a training "feeder band" right along the coastline with smaller vortices evident within the feeder band. He also noted that anomalously warm sea surface temps (around 78F) combined with frictional convergence of the onshore wind blowing over the sea and then onto the shore fueled these long-lived storms.


Of note, back home here there was heavy rainfall on Sunday around here -- especially in Baltimore and along the Chesapeake Bay. KBWI received 3.37 inches of rain in that two-day event (all but 0.01" of which fell on Sunday, Aug. 26th), exactly equal to what fell at the Maryland Science Center (KDMH), all on Sunday. By contrast, KDCA had only 0.34 inches and KIAD had 0.44 inches. Other areas along the bay had in excess of 5 inches.

The weather in both places was driven by an upper-level low off the Southeast coast with a deep plume of tropical moisture.

The LWX radar for the Sterling CWA showing 4-day precipitation totaals from Aug. 24 - Aug. 27, 2012.


Today I managed to ease back into my routine with just a part-day at work (originally I was going to take off the whole day) and then I went with my supervisor / co-worker / friend to the weekly bar event, tonight at Spider Kelly's in Arlington. Thereafter, I met up with Kristof at Larry's Lounge.

I am home now watching TV -- sitcom reruns on TV Land and Hallmark.

Speaking of the weather, Hurricane Birth Certificate, I mean, Isaac is striking the Louisiana coastline tonight including the New Orleans area. 

The New Orleans/Baton Rouge Weather Forecast Office (LIX) in Slidell, La., showing Hurricane Isaac lurking offshore at 11:39PM CDT Aug. 29, 2012.

As of the 10PM CDT advisory, the tropical cyclone -- subject of a week's worth of Weather Channel hype and hysteria -- is a category 1 storm with top sustained winds of 80mph. The storm is centered 75 miles SSE of New Orleans near the Mouth of the Mississippi (though in the radar image below, it appears to be centered due south of New Orleans).

Meanwhile, over in Tampa -- originally forecasted to be in the storm's path -- is where GOP Cultic Hate Fest '12 is underway. And of historical note, Hurricane Katrina and "War Hero" / "Can Have a Beer With Him" Bush are the objects of non-devotion. As for that Hate Fest, Paul Krugman's piece on Friday about Paul Ryan's Ayn Rand / Atlas Shrugged fetish is really worth a read.

OK, that's all for now. I intend to have a full entry posted late tomorrow (in time for Thursday morning). I may repost some of the Wildwood pictures in this entry along with quite a few more.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Jersey Shore Memories: Tradewinds Beach Club, 1975 - 2002

Aerial view of Tradewinds Beach Club in an old postcard that my grandmother sent me circa 1985. I think the ocean was "colorized" to look more turquoise than it ever actually looked.


Here is the other side of the postcard containing what my grandma wrote to me. I was living at 1801 Little Road in frickin' Glen Burnie, Maryland -- already a highly neurotic and screwed up teenager, and on my way to settling eventually in hateful and deadening Washington, D.C. -- so it must have been about 1985.


The main building of Tradewinds Beach Club as seen from outside with its distinctive shape. Seeing that building approach while on Ocean Avenue coming up from the south in my grandfather's car meant I was starting my summer day.


OK, this is an entry that I have wanted to post for a long time. It contains a series of scanned images of black and white photographs that Jonathan, my childhood best friend from New Jersey, took of the old Tradewinds Beach Club* located in Sea Bright, New Jersey in or around November 2002**. He took them specifically in black and white mode with a camera to create a certain effect that I think works.

*The name was "Tradewinds" rather than "Trade Winds."
**The date on the back of the photos is Nov. 8, 2002.

It also contains scanned images of postcards and one other photo. The scanning quality is kinda poor but I did this whole thing in a hurry.

A view from the north side of the pool deck looking at the main building. Those skylights in the 1970s were the last word in modern "daylighting" design.


I've mentioned Tradewinds a number of times on my blog and in September 2008 I went with my mentally ill father (who came up from Florida to go to his 50th high school reunion at Long Branch High School) to where the beach club used to be.

North side row of cabanas at the old Tradewinds Beach Club, Sea Bright, N.J., Nov. 2002.


I took a series of pictures posted in this entry (yes, that entry includes pictures of my Aunt Babe, my grandmother's younger sister whose 100th birthday is set for January 2013 and I hope to be at the celebration) and especially this entry. Trouble was, it was a foggy, windy day and my cellphone camera at the time was beyond shitty.

The view from the north side row of cabanas where Jonathan's parents and my grandparents had their respective cabanas. That's how Jonathan and I met. We are almost identical ages -- he is about 2 weeks older than I am.


Jonathan took the photos in this entry on a brightly sunny, probably brisk day in November 2002 (or at least Autumn 2002) shortly before the old beach club -- which dated back at least to 1930s -- was razed to make way for some shitty condos. The beach club consisted of an "old" part with an indoor pool and adjoining night club that was thoroughly renovated at some point in the early 1990s with that pool now a sort of weird outdoor fountain.

This was cabana 18 (although later they were renumbered). This was Jonathan's cabana. They were about 10 feet by 15 feet or so (maybe 150 square feet, maybe a bit less) and contained a sink, shower, and mini changing room. You could do a lot with them and people did.


The part featured in these photographs was the "new" part constructed in 1975. It included twin rows of "cabanas" and two sea-facing "lanais" as well as a labyrinth of lockers located beneath the main outdoor pool deck. There were also beach houses.

Cabana 21, Tradewinds Beach Club, Sea Bright, N.J., Nov. 2002 shortly before it was bulldozed into oblivion and memory. This was my grandparents cabana and where I spent so many summers.


Tradewinds was one of a series of such beach clubs along this part of the Jersey shore that actually date back to the late 19th Century and included places such as Monmouth Beach Club, Peninsula House, Ship Ahoy, Driftwood, and Edgewater. At least a few of these are still there, and indeed Aunt Babe's daughter and son-in-law go to Edgewater (or maybe it's Driftwood - I've been there twice but can't recall which is which because it's NOT Tradewinds).

Here was the view from our cabanas looking out across the pool deck.


My grandfather started renting a cabana -- cabana 21 on the upper level north side(facing south) in the summer of 1975. I vaguely recall it cost about $1,000 to rent for the whole summer. By the end run of the place, they were going for ten times that amount. The place was packed in the summers of the 1970s and through the early 1980s. Then it was abandoned for a few summers with almost no guests because it was supposed to be sold / razed even then. But it came back very strong in the 1990s (by which time I was already gone), only to finally succumb to frenzied development in 2002.

The light pole outside cabana 21 with its old-style incandescent bulb. The north side lanais are visible in this image as is the Atlantic Ocean.


The beach club was located right on the Atlantic Ocean and faced onto a beach whose size varied wildly depending on tides and sand flows. This whole stretch of the Jersey shore in Monmouth County from Long Branch to the bottom of the Sandy Hook peninsula (a distance of about 6 miles) featured a fortress-like sea wall.

At certain times, the ocean waves would batter and over-top the sea wall.

The outside stairwell on the east end of the north row of cabanas looking toward the "old" part of Tradewinds long after it had been renovated.


But in 1993 or so, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - New York District undertook the first in a series of  massive beach replenishment ("nourishment") projects that resulted in a 150 foot wide beach that buried the whole series of small jetties -- which are properly called "groins" since a jetty is a very specific kind of structure. This was one of the largest such projects of its sort ever -- stretching eventually the full 21 miles of Monmouth County from Manasquan Inlet (where there are two proper jetties) to the base of Sandy Hook.

Here is the outdoor pool from the deep end -- having mostly been drained for the last time. That's probably mostly just rainwater collected in there. Jonathan wrote on the back of the card, "Half empty pool. I nearly jumped in."

That's Jonathan.


These groins invariably have the effect of "robbing Peter to pay Paul," so to speak, when it comes to sand and the north side of each groin along this part of the Jersey shore had in effect no beach. This is what you see in the lead aerial image above. Back then, we called that small beach (which at low tide was could significantly expand in size) as "Little Hawaii." Not sure why.

The view from the lockers under the pool deck. They formed a seemingly vast labyrinth of wet, dimly lit concrete and cheap wooden doors.


In that replenishment project, the groins were "notched" as well to allow for littoral sand flow. And once all that beach was available, every restaurant and beach club and condo development did the nature thing and started planting palm trees.

True, they (usually) don't survive the winters but that's almost beside the point.

Another expansive view of the old "new" Tradewinds Beach Club, now gone.


I recall being there in the summer of 2000 and seeing way on the northern horizon the Manhattan skyline -- yes, you can easily see it on clear days as on a direct line it is only about 25 miles away. In fact, I saw the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center THROUGH palm fronds located, I believe, at a tiki bar at Donovan's Reef.

The view looking south along the seawall next to the beach club. That row of beach houses on the beach itself was not there back in the 1970s or 1980s.


At night, the lights of Long Island and all the ships entering / leaving the New York Harbor and jets buzzing over Jamaica Bay / Idlewild JFK Airport.

Oh, and you used to be able to clearly see the old Ambrose Light back in its "original" location. It looked like a giant chair located waaaay on the horizon. I wrote about it here.

The view looking north along the seawall.


Tradewinds Beach Club is where I went every summer from 1975 through about 1987, except when I visited my mother in Belgium or Texas, and later on, I would come up from Glen Burnie where I was living with my mother. Tradewinds was my home in those summers. Back in the 1970s, you could actually sleep overnight there before it was prohibited. This was tied in as well to the chaos and fights at the adjoining night club.

Here is a scanned picture I've posted before. This is the view looking north from the lanais to the north beyond the seawall as it looked in August 1987.


I actually went to that nightclub with my friend Joe -- who is also from the same par of New Jersey but is about 6 years younger than I am -- in 2002 on what I understand was the nightclub's final night. I forget who or what we saw there.

In the 1980s, I would live with my grandparents at their senior citizens apartment building in Long Branch about 4 miles south (in Ocean Pointe Towers*) and then go daily to the beach club.

*There is a senior citizens house located at 15th and U Streets NW here in D.C. near where I live looks EXACTLY like that building, and it is a senior citizens home as well.

Looking at the beach and ocean from Tradewinds. You can see all the crappy construction being done even then.

Well, in a hundred years or so, sea level rise will probably mean the ocean reclaims this bit of human real estate.


All the hours and days and months I spent at that beach club, swimming in the ocean, or swimming the outdoor or indoor pool, or spending about $20 of my grandmother's money per day in quarters that I ALWAYS stole from her purse in the stupid pinball and video arcade. And I got in trouble a number of times -- even "banned" a few times from this or that spot at the beach club. And I developed early fixations on the hunky male lifeguards.

Sound familiar?

Now my dad actually got into at least one big physical fight when he threw a drink on his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend at the annual closing party that used to be held. A big fracas erupted -- remember my nutty dad used to be a black belt in karate and he was drunk -- so it was huge melee with the lifeguards-turned-bouncers that evening running in. I was actually in Texas visiting my mother (I think it was late summer 1980) at the time and returned a week or so later.

The most difficult part for me. was that I was there with my paternal grandparents -- I loved my grandma dearly. Trouble was, we were there with her rotten younger brother and his wife Rosemary, and they were horrible. I had hideous fights with that old bastard.


Well, anyway, I just wanted to post these pictures. It is getting late (nearly noon) and I have to get ready and get up to Greenbelt Metro to meet Gary and Wendy and head out on our Jersey shore trip to Wildwood (on the opposite end from Sea Bright).

Before I conclude, though, let me conclude with a scanned image of a postcard that Jonathan sent me in 1998 from Australia (see image directly above).

As context, Jonathan ended up the drummer in a "stoner" rock band called the Monster Magnet. It's so not my kind of music, but the band had some real success and popularity, especially in Europe. He is no longer the drummer but he did this for at least a decade.

This post card was on the occasion of the band going to Australia.

Here is the postcard. I only whited out his last name, which he included in it.


Jonathan still lives in Monmouth County and I keep in touch with him, mostly by text now. He is now in a band called the Ribeye Brothers, but I can't find a website for them. He had no objection to me posting these images and content.

My next planned update won't be until Wednesday or Thursday next week.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Antikythera Hippos and an Oligarchical Taxing Mechanism

You've heard of the Antikythera Mechanism??

Well, here is the Oligarchical Hippopotamus.

Actually, it's the Oligarchical AND the Antikythera Hippopotamuses.


My main worry is that the right people "earned" their $500 in nightly mostly tax-free tips. Yes, I mean Mr. Sirius and his D.C. gay mafia

As I reckon, using a base manager's salary of $35K and a 10% Federal tax rate, but adjusted to an actual real-world income including runaway tips in excess of $100K that totals $150K per year, the amount declared to the IRS for Federal purposes works out to $1.16 per $50 truly earned collected.


Remember that $100K in tips works out to $2,000 per week for 50 weeks per year -- something that has gone on for many years, even if it is not technically true in 2012.

Think that's unreasonable?

Consider if you were given a $30 tip on a $35 bill just on, say, Monday night. And that's just one frickin' bill over 8 hours.

And there you have it.

"LIKE, OH MY GAWHD! Like, I'm so worth it!"

In my view, even if every frickin' high-end bartender, waiter, and gigolo in L.A. and New York / Manhattan does it, it's still just immoral.

Anyway, tonight, I went to Nellie's with Gary and Kristof and had a rather good time. 

I should mention that tomorrow Gary, Wendy, and I are supposed to go to Wildwood, New Jersey.

As it is, I'm planning on ONE MORE entry tomorrow, if possible.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Crown Jewels and Imperial Weights

Not much to say tonight.

Oh, yeah, let me link to this piece in TMZ showing Prince Harry on his trip to Las Vegas this past weekend (caution: nudity). Yes, the photos taken at the VIP suite at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino last Friday are real.

What an idiot.

If only I could hear Queen Elizabeth II say to him -- channeling her great great grandmother, Queen Victoria (and it's beside the point whether or not she ever actually said it) -- "we are not amused."

Here is a photo from August 1994 showing the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles, even then estranged / separated, with Prince Harry and his older brother and heir to the British throne, Prince William.


Tonight, I went to the YMCA National Capital gym where I go -- ahead of the impending nearly 2-week annual shutdown.

Just for the record, I weighed in tonight at 173.5 pounds. This is now down 10 pounds from when I started going two months ago.

This stands in marked contrast to a horrifying weight of 188 pounds recorded the morning of June 15th at work when our health insurance company sent reps to the office to have a "know your numbers." True, the lady took off 3 pounds for clothes and wrote down 185 pounds, but still...

This means I'm down about 12 pounds from my peak. My goal is 160 pounds.

I'll try to update this blog before my planned upcoming Wildwood Jersey shore trip.