Thursday, October 31, 2013

Andrew Sullivan on Michael Oakeshott on George Santayana: Reflections on Conservatism and the Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy

"Valley of the Yosemite" by Albert Bierstadt, 1864


I was going to post this with my next entry, but I've decided to post it separately as a stand-alone entry.

It is a link to and discussion of Andrew Sullivan's Dish blog post "Can American Conservatism Be Saved?"

It is a post in which Sullivan links to and discusses a paper entitled "The Voice of Michael Oakeshott in the Conversation of Conservatism" that Wilfred M. McClay of the University of Oklahoma presented at biennial meeting of the Michael Oakeshott Association at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo., that was held this past September 28, 2013.

Within this piece -- which both Sullivan and McClay quote -- is a lecture given in 1911 by the 20th Century philosopher George Santayana entitled "The Genteel Tradition in American Philosophy." Santayana was awestruck by the awesome and powerful landscapes of America and how that could alter one's perspective -- NOT in a gung-go "American exceptionalism" sort of way but rather something (and here I am re-re-quoting the passage):

"... very different from what those systems are which the European genteel tradition has handed down since Socrates; for these systems are egotistical; directly or indirectly they are anthropocentric, and inspired by the conceited notion that man, or human reason, or the human distinction between good and evil, is the centre and pivot of the universe. That is what the mountains and the woods should make you at last ashamed to assert ...

"It is the yoke of this genteel tradition itself that these primeval solitudes lift from your shoulders. They suspend your forced sense of your own importance not merely as individuals, but even as men. They allow you, in one happy moment, at once to play and to worship, to take yourselves simply, humbly, for what you are, and to salute the wild, indifferent, non-censorious infinity of nature.

"You are admonished that what you can do avails little materially, and in the end nothing. At the same time, through wonder and pleasure, you are taught speculation. You learn what you are really fitted to do, and where lie your natural dignity and joy, namely, in representing many things, without being them, and in letting your imagination, through sympathy, celebrate and echo their life."

McClay (and Sullivan) bring this back to the notion of shaping a meaningful American conservatism -- not the media-entertainment complex-fanned neo-Confederate freak show and morally obscene pseudo-intellectual libertarian side show that exist today.

Sullivan then continues in his entry:

"[C]onservatism in its best sense is about the constant situating of the individual within a cultural and historical context. Indeed, the very idea of the individual, an Oakeshottian would insist, is a contingent and unlikely achievement of the modern European and American mind, forged first by Augustine from the moral kindling of Christianity, and elaborated ever since. Individualism can never therefore be an ideology. "I built that" is an excrescent simplification, a form of contempt for tradition and society."

Excrescent ... What a great word.

FYI: I've met and talked to Sullivan a number of times over the years at Nellie's in recent years and St. Matthew's Cathedral back in the 1990s, and who recognizes me by sight but not by name.

Good stuff.

Speaking of intrinsically conservative but thoughtfully intellectually and engaging gay writers, I'm really starting to like Josh Barro, pictured at left.

For some reason, though, when he is interviewed, he reminds me of this guy...

... and I'm really not sure why...

Isn't this the Denham's Dandy Dentifrice guy??

Well, whatever the case, let me post this entry now before the clock ticks over to midnight since I don't to have two entries on the same bleepin' day.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Colors of Fall Trees and Taxis in D.C., Some Good Reads, and a Ubiquitous Voice Lead -OR- It's Magic Halloween

A type of maple tree at fall color peak at the corner of 15th and U Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 10:12AM Oct. 30, 2013.


This is just a quick update before I head home tonight. I've decided not to take the computer home tonight as I may not get home until about 11PM (I'm going to stop at No. 9 and / or Larry's Lounge first, not to mention get some dinner). Also, I have a dental appointment in the morning, and the computer / blogging would just be a distraction to late hours.

My dental appt. is tomorrow at 1020AM (yes, on Halloween -- just like the extraction was on Sept. 11th) and is for a few minor fillings ... But given all the dental issues I've had in the past six months and, well, the past 14 years, nothing is dental is minor for me.

The view from my Hampton Courts apartment this morning looking onto the 2000 block of New Hampshire Avenue, the adjacent building The Brittany, and the oak tree and the elm tree (actually, there are two elms) that are starting to show fall colors, Washington, D.C., 10:07AM Oct. 30, 2013. We had some light rain (about 0.06" worth at KDCA) this morning.


Just a few items ...

As mentioned in my previous entry, I cannot go to StatCounter, and I'm sort in a StatCounter withdrawal. Or rather, I cannot go to it with my work computer even from home. I will have to find other ways to check it -- and that will occur necessarily much less frequently.

Secondly, as I also mentioned, my gym is closed until Monday for its belated and this-year-greatly-truncated annual shutdown, though the pool is closed until Nov. 9th. I may try to go to the Anthony Bowen YMCA tomorrow night or at least the JCC on Saturday (Gary has passes for me).

One of the taxis in D.C. with the obligatory new red and gray colors scheme, P and 15th Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 8:12PM Oct. 29, 2013.

Apparently, all taxi cabs in the District are to have this color scheme at some point -- and thus they will match the new Metrobus fleet and Circulator fleet colors. I find it hard to believe every taxi cab will switch to this color, at least right away. (These new ones are all hybrid fuel as well.)

I was walking to No. 9, where the place was completely empty -- until about 10 minutes after the 17th Street high heel race event that I avoided and then within a 10 minutes, it was line-out-the-door mobbed. That is, No. 9 was empty at 9:01PM and mobbed with a line waiting to get in by 920PM. Quite remarkable.


Some worthwhile reads ...

Jonathan Chait's piece from today - Republican Health-Care Plan: Repeal and Cackle - is worth reading.


Every iteration of an alternative conservative health-care proposal would impose far more disruption on the status quo than would Obamacare. Most conservative plans involve drastically curtailing the tax deduction for employer-based insurance. That would create cancellation notices for many times the number of people currently seeing them. Even the more modest plans to scale back Obama's regulation of the individual market would run the GOP into a political minefield. Which regulations do they want to strip away? Discrimination against people with preexisting conditions? Discrimination against potentially pregnant women? Mental-health parity? Every single one of those changes creates millions of angry potential victims.

Peg informs Al that he must give his mother-in-law a Sitz bath.


As for the website roll out "debacle" -- not to mention "not knowing" about the NSA spying on everyone and everything that moves, including heads of state of our close allies such as Germany -- there is the undeniable issue of the extent to which Obama is just too disengaged from things he needs to be closely involved in. He can't help himself with the professorial and distant air, wanting only to be praised than deal in the rough-and-tumble of politics.

Also, I would like to link -- although it is not related to economics -- to this terrific Paul Krugman blog entry from yesterday "Poetry and Blogging" in which he gives an enthusiastic recommendation for a book he is reading, Tom Standage's Writing on the Wall: Social Media -- The First 2,000 Years.

Two paragraphs worth quoting:

Standage's argument is that the essential aspects of social media -- exchange of information that runs horizontally, among people who are affiliated in some way, rather than top-down from centralized sources -- have been pervasive through history, with the industrial age’s news media only a temporary episode of disruption.

As he shows, Cicero didn’t get his news from Rome Today or Rupertus Murdochus — he got it through constant exchanges of letters with people he knew, letters that were often both passed on to multiple readers and copied, much like tweets being retweeted.

Even more interesting is his discussion of the Tudor court, where a lot of the communication among insiders took place through the exchange of … poetry, which allowed people both to discuss sensitive topics elliptically and to demonstrate their cleverness. You could even build a career through poetry, not by selling it, but by using your poems to build a reputation, which could translate into royal favor and high office -- sort of the way some people use their blogs to build influence that eventually leads to paying gigs of one kind or another.

Oh, and here is a very good economic-themed one from today: "Rentiers, Entitlement, and Monetary Policy".


Pearls Before Swine 

Pearls Before Swine, Oct. 28, 2013

Pearls Before Swine, Oct. 29, 2013. Click on images for larger versions.

This is part of Stephan Pastis's whole penguin series. The penguins are about to be adopted -- that is, eaten -- by the dumb fraternity boy crocs.


The Voice Heard the World Over

I also wanted to note this article that I found about the ubiquitous voice (as in airports worldwide including at Reagan National Airport and the New York City subway system) of the airport / transit system PA systems. Her name is Carolyn Hopkins and here is a picture of her. (No, this isn't Amtrak's "Julie" virtual assistant voice.) You know Ms. Hopkins's voice the second you hear it. The story linked above about how a Kentucky company called IED (Innovative Electronic Designs) got into the PA announcement control systems business is very interesting.

Here is a picture of Carolyn Hopkins in a screenshot from a Nov. 2011 CBS News segment about her that you may watch on YouTube here.


OK, that's all for now. This ended up a longer entry than I anticipated.  I may update this blog late Thursday night, but more likely, not until Friday evening.

Happy Halloween!

(I wish I could play for you what I think is the best song my dad -- yes, my dad -- ever wrote: Magic Halloween.) No, I won't be dressing up. I can't wear most costumes with any degree of sincerity, so I never try.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Spooky Halloween Items: Malware-Haunted StatCounter; Malfunctioning Window A/C; and the Possibly Scary Face of Obamacare Success

The Halloween decorations in the rectory yard of the Church of the Holy City in the 1600 block of 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C., 5:05PM Oct. 27, 2013. This yard always is filled with decorations for various holidays. Oh, and those two Raggedy Andy dolls are supposed to be gay (and were festooned with HRC flag stickers).


A number of the pictures in this entry (such as the one above) were taken last night at Larry's Lounge where it was one of those really festive, drunken late nights. (Earlier, I had had dinner with Wendy next door at "Mum Mum.") Larry's Lounge is such an unusual place -- the corner pub that is also a sort of speakeasy (and opium den). It's all mixed -- gay, straight, male, female -- although later at nights it tends to gay up. And then people stop by with their dogs (the place is very dog friendly), including couldn't-you-just-eat-them-up adorable puppies (like this one named "Owen," a 7-week old sleepy beagle).

Well, at this point, it looks like StatCounter and I have to part company after about 6 or 7 years through all my blogs. Either the site is hopelessly infected (a possibility given the nature of its commercial tracking of who goes to what website) or my anti-viral software just freaks out at this website (along with some other web traffic ones). My anti-viral software would not even let me view StatCounter tonight. It has been like this for about five days but got really bad tonight.

As it is, Blogger has a bevy of statistics available for free on its site -- all kinds of stuff such as browsers, key words, entries viewed, etc. The only thing it does not have are specific IP addresses of those who visit the blog.

Well, anyway, I guess that's it for me and StatCounter.

I just can't trust the site, especially on my work laptop. I'm probably just going to remove the StatCounter widget from the template.

This is going to be hard as I've been addicted to StatCounter for years, at times checking it dozens of times a day and going into withdrawal when I couldn't check it.

Updated 1012AM 10/29/2013: There is a chance that I might be able to use old StatCounter -- that's the earlier version of the site before it's last big upgrade about two years ago. It worked twice without incident this morning. The site has less commercial clutter / ad banners on it, so it may have less issues.

Updated 2 at 600PM 10/29/2013: OK, the IT "suggestion" was that I do not go to the offending site again with this work computer, so that rules out StatCounter, old or new, for the time being, full stop.

Another Larry's Lounge photo from Sunday night (or rather, shortly after midnight Monday morning).


Also, my air conditioner is not working. It just blows regular air rather than chilled air. It is a problem because in my small apartment I have an old radiator that hisses to life on occasion and over which I have no control. I called up Frigidaire and the lady I spoke to said that I could get a replacement for free, but I have to bring it to a service location to be decided.

Yours truly in my apartment on Sunday afternoon -- with the air conditioner in question behind me, 4:38PM Oct. 27, 2013.


This also means I need to have the building maintenance fellow remove the current one and put in the replacement one. There is a $20 charge for that although last time, I just gave him $20 and it never showed up on my rent. As it is, my old LG air conditioner is still sitting on the floor next to my refrigerator by the door.

So basically, nothing is working.

Another view of yours truly in my apartment on Sunday.


I went to the gym tonight and had a good workout all around. However, the gym is undergoing its long-delayed annual shutdown starting on Wednesday. It only runs for four days and reopens on Monday, Nov. 4th. Typically, the shutdowns are for two weeks and occur in late August. The pool, though, will be closed for nearly an extra week until Nov. 9th owing to the need to re-tile and re-grout the bottom. Anyway, I'm pretty much taking off the week from the gym, though Gary has a free pass for me to the JCC that I'll use on Saturday. I may try to go to the Anthony Bowen YMCA at some point.

Luis the bartender at Larry's Lounge, 11:11PM Oct. 27, 2013.


As for tomorrow, I'm meeting a former co-worker, Jeremy, for drinks either at No. 9 or (if DD comes along) Whiskey House on 19th Street.

I'll be carefully avoiding the stupid annual high heel race. I hate that event more than any other gay event on 17th Street run by the D.C. Gay Mafia and its Axis of Gayvil that spans the Observable D.C. Gay Universe bookended by JR's and Cobalt.

Furthermore, this event brings out hoards of the young straights all excited to be on a boozy gay safari.

The historic "O House" at 1519 Street NW, Washington, D.C., 5:59PM Oct. 27, 2013. This intriguing little house is set behind a wooden fence.


OK, that's all for now. My blog entries this week may be a bit light. In the absence of the gym, I plan to bike to and from work, and also not take the computer home in my backpack.

Oh, yes, I do want to call attention to this Michael Lind piece in Salon in which he writes that the SUCCESS of Obamacare -- a means-tested program involving complicated sets of subsidies in order to maintain the health insurance industry that achieves a goal similar to a single-payer system -- could mean the eventual end of Medicare and Social Security. The reason as explained in this extended excerpt is as follows:

If Obamacare -- built on means-testing, privatizing and decentralization to the states -- is treated by progressives as the greatest liberal public policy success in the last half-century, then how will progressives be able to argue against proposals by conservative Republicans and center-right neoliberal Democrats to means-test, privatize and decentralize Social Security and Medicare in the years ahead?

A decorative Halloween skull atop the beer taps that occasionally lights up wit colorful LEDs on the bar at Larry's Lounge, Washington, D.C., 9:49PM Oct. 27, 2013. I decorated it with an available little American flag and a cigarette from this fellow Ryan. I asked for a teabag, too, but nobody had one.


I predict that it is only a matter of time before conservatives and Wall Street-backed "New Democrats" begin to argue that, with Obamacare in place, it makes no sense to have two separate healthcare systems for the middle class -- Obamacare for working-age Americans, Medicare for retired Americans. They will suggest, in a great bipartisan chorus: Let's get rid of Medicare, in favor of Lifelong Obamacare! Let’s require the elderly to keep purchasing private insurance until they die!

I'm sure a number of token "centrist" Democrats will be found, in due time, to support the replacement of Medicare by Lifelong Obamacare. And with neoliberal Democratic supporters of the proposal as cover, the overclass centrists of the corporate media will begin pushing for Lifelong Obamacare as the sober, responsible, "adult" policy in one unsigned editorial after another.

He's talking about Uncle Fred Hiatt, of course (pictured above), Mr. "Serious and Sober" himself fixated on whatever are the interests, fads, or whims of The Washington Consensus Overclass.


At some point in the future, the right will introduce a plan to replace Social Security with a system of individual mandates and fines to compel working-age Americans to invest in for-profit Wall Street mutual funds during one's working years, and to compel them to buy annuities from for-profit money managers at retirement (which with the help of centrist Democrats will be postponed to 70 or beyond). The genuine progressives will respond with a defense of Social Security. Whereupon the faux-progressives, the neoliberal heirs of Carter, Clinton and Obama, will reject the option of preserving Social Security -- why, that's crazy left-wing radical talk! -- but insist that the subsidies for the poorest of the elderly be slightly increased, as the price for their adoption of the conservative plan to destroy Social Security. Throughout the process, the right-wing Republicans and neoliberal Democrats will ask, "How can progressives object to means-testing, privatization and 50 state programs, when those are the very features of the Obamacare system that our friends on the left celebrate as a great achievement?"

Another image of that skull and flag and cigarette at the bar.


Think about it, progressives. The real "suicide caucus" may consist of those on the center-left who, by passionately defending the Affordable Care Act rather than holding their noses, are unwittingly reinforcing the legitimacy of the right’s long-term strategy of repealing the greatest achievements of American liberalism.

Lind mentions the concept of a "kludgeocracy" -- the needless complication of public policy. This is interesting because this was precisely Paul Krugman's topic in his regular Monday New York Times column. However, Krugman is far more optimistic about what Obamacare will achieve. And, as you may know reader, Paul Krugman is my hero.

A blurry picture of the skull illuminated, it's mouth going back and forth.


Lind raises the fascinating issue that Republicans, by hoping for the failure of Obamacare, in theory are unintentionally making the case for a "Medicare for All" / single-payer kind of system, since it would (or should) be obvious that such a system is the only workable one.

Lind's pieces are really lost not just on many Salon readers but its editors -- the headline and sub-headlines simply do not match up to the actual content of the article.

OK, that really is all for now.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Star Trek Viewin', Henry Street Remembrin', and California Dreamin' -OR- A Saturday Night Blog Entry Posted Sunday Afternoon

The Sun sinks toward the horizon over the Pacific Ocean as seen from Will Rogers State Beach. This is along the stretch of Pacific Coast beach (relevant to part of this blog entry) that is either in the northwestern-most part of the of the City of Los Angeles or next door Pacific Palisades. Picture taken April 7, 2010 by AllyUnion.


This entry is being completed and posted Sunday afternoon even though I started it and intended to post it on Saturday night. The updated content in places and some of the images reflect this.

Saturday night.

I'm home after a good gym work out -- 5.6 mile jog and 36 minutes in the pool doing 41 lengths of the pool (i.e., 20-1/2 laps), though not much weightlifting (although I never really do much of that). I just got there too late to do the full three-part routine.

16th and R Street, Washington, D.C., 9:52PM Oct. 25, 2013.


I stopped at Dupont Italian Kitchen (D-I-K) bar because Chris H. was working upstairs, but I only stayed for two beers before grocery shopping. I'm home now doing two loads of laundry and deciding whether to make dinner or eat out. I really spent too much yesterday / last night, including dinner at Anne's (where I haven't been in years). Actually, I had a crummy, abbreviated time (the atmosphere wasn't good and the bartender was jerk) at the upstairs bar, though the steak dinner with broccoli and carrots was excellent. I actually brought half the dinner home.

View outside my apartment building in the 2000 block of New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 4:03PM Oct. 26, 2013.


I think tonight I'll just make dinner at home and then go out -- "LaLo", No. 9, and / or Nellie's. I'll just skip my Saturday night sojourn to Old Ebbitt Grill.

Larry's Lounge, Washington, D.C., 12:33AM Oct. 27, 2013. The guy in the white shirt (I think he was visiting from Australia) at one point ended up on the floor -- still dancing with the Asian guys dressed up for Halloween as Asian sex kittens. (That was a common theme last night out and about: Folks in Halloween costumes.)

It was quite festive in there last night with upbeat music and folks dressed in various Halloween costumes. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Larry's Lounge may look like a friendly corner pub, and it is, but the place is really more of a speakeasy.


Money wise, I've been splurging a bit lately owing to the 401k loan. But I'm quickly reaching a point where I won't be able to return the full $3,000 all at once -- which is my only option aside from the regular paycheck deductions scheduled to start in early December and run for 4 years (yes, 4 years, but the monthly deductions are quite low).

I'm not concerned about the time frame but rather the possibility of needing a loan in an emergency that I could not take as long as this one is outstanding, and the rule in our plan is that you can only pay back the remaining balance all at once or under the regular paycheck deductions.

Another view from outside my apartment building but looking to the southwest along New Hampshire Avenue toward the intersection of U and 16th Streets, Washington, D.C., 4:03PM Oct. 26, 2013.


"Star Trek: TOS" Viewing ...

I'm home watching an old Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) rerun on Me TV. (And next up, the Svengoolie-hosted monster movie.) This Star Trek TOS episode is "Mirror, Mirror" -- quite an amazing one. Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura end up in a "savage, parallel universe" episode.

I think the "parallel Universe Spock" is the most fascinating one of all because of his essentially unchanged morality and ethics.

I've noticed on these original series episodes have somewhat altered special effects -- most notably on how the (invariably Earth-like) planets above which the Enterprise is orbiting look much more "real" in terms of continents, oceans, and whorls of clouds.

That is NOT how they used to look when I watched this show all those decades ago (in the 1970s) at my maternal grandmother's house on Henry Street in South Amboy, N.J., with my uncle (who still lives in that house) on my weekend trips from my dad and paternal grandparents' house in Long Branch, N.J. (My mom and Ray were living at SHAPE, Belgium at the time, where he was stationed in the U.S. Army.)

Ah, Henry Street.

516 Henry Street, South Amboy, New Jersey, as seen in a Google street map view (which incorrectly identifies it as 539 Henry Street).

This is the house in which both my mother and her younger brother grew up with their mother but no father. It is the same color as back in the 1970s. My maternal grandparents had a violent marriage that ended many years before I was born. My maternal grandfather died in 1970 or thereabouts. He was the one grandparent I never knew, and my grandmother simply never talked about him. There are other family stories and secrets here but I'll refrain from posting those.

As for the house, my paternal (Italian ) grandmother -- who visited from Long Branch and was in this house at least once -- complained about how it was like "going up to heaven" climbing all the stairs to the top floor living area.


The part that is the most warped, so to speak, is that there is NO relationship whatsoever with this uncle (Rob) and we (my mom and I) are not even allowed to go to this house on Henry Street. As it is, I can't even imagine what it's like inside, what decades of splendid, neurotic Polish isolation (he never married) and Old World-style misery have turned it into.

Anyway, all of that is immaterial. My point here is that my uncle as an adolescent with no father figure in this life and watching this show when it was first on in 1966 and 1967 idolized both Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock.

To reiterate the earlier point: There has definitely been some improvements to the special effects of TOS episodes.

One other Star Trek related item: I was watching an episode of The Next Generation ones on BBC America while on the treadmill at the gym earlier today. It was the episode


A Dreamtime Visit to the City of Angels...

On Saturday morning, I had this prolonged and very involved dream in which my dad and I were somehow in Los Angeles (a place I've never been). Somehow we ended up staying there on these strange streets (relatively suburban looking). I remember thinking it would not rain because, well, it doesn't rain much in the L.A. basin. But then skies darkened (coming in from the east) and a thunderstorm started with a drenching rain.

A Bing map birds eye view of a portion of the Pacific Coast Highway where is located the northwestern-most geographic boundary of the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County as that boundary meets the Pacific Ocean. I believe that boundary is somewhere inside the yellow circle I drew. Why this is relevant is explained further below.

In the upper left is a large structure with a red tiled roof and narrow rectangular pool that is The Getty Villa (with an access road to it with the same name shown). There is a close-up picture of The Getty Villa below.


Eventually, we were in some auto mechanic / hardware store near the Pacific Ocean, and I was trying to buy something from this lady, except I can't recall what it was. It involved something on the ceiling.

This is the Google aerial map version with the same yellow circle that I drew showing the area in which is located the "northwestern" boundary of Los Angeles City / County boundary where that boundary meets the Pacific Ocean (along Santa Monica Bay)


In the dream, there was then a strange sort of gridded road atlas overhead that told me where I was, and it turned out I was near the Pacific Ocean on the northwestern side of Los Angeles -- near the geographical city limits with Los Angeles County where that boundary intersects the beach and the ocean.

Here is a map I found showing the city limits of Los Angeles, although it is not very detailed in terms of labeled streets. Map source here.


Such a location in fact is just beyond Santa Monica, which is a separate city and sort of cuts a "notch" in the geographic continuity of the City of Los Angeles. It is at the border of Pacific Palisades and a few miles before (east given the contour of the coastline) Malibu. There is a place called Will Rogers Beach. Not only that, but the direction of the coastline there runs due east-west, and the boundary appears to run along a NW-SE diagonal, which makes the boundary I saw in the dream (a line running NE-SW intersecting a coastline running NW-SE) not realistic.

A picture of the houses on the hillside in Pacific Palisades just off the Pacific Coast Highway along the Pacific Ocean to the northwest of Los Angeles. As to why I am posting a picture of a place to which I've never been and that has nothing to do with my life, well, this part of the entry is relevant. The link in Panoramio for this picture is here.

I find Southern California just too alien for me.


Anyway, in the dream, it was a tranquil evening, except the Sun was setting in the wrong part of the sky (i.e., over land as it would on the East Coast along the Atlantic). It was also flatter and not as arid as it is in real life.

This is a picture of The Getty Villa, which is located just outside the Los Angeles city limits in Pacific Palisades. The place appears to be some sort of museum of Greco-Roman art. Image source here.


I asked my dad if he take a drive by the ocean and he agreed to do that. I was pleasantly surprised since the whole thrust of this dream (and others I've had) is that he is irredeemably beyond any ability to do anything that I want, and it is very disturbing.

Will Rogers State Beach at the northwestern-most end of the City of Los Angeles very close to the boundary of Pacific Palisades as seen as sunset. Image source here.

This image -- admittedly a strange one with the "ghostly" apparitions of the couple seated on the beach -- sort of captures the tranquility in the dream. I would have made it the lead image except the proportions of it aren't good and I don't like the apparition quality.


I'm unsure whether to try to take a bike ride tomorrow today (the one I intended to take last Sunday). The issue is that my gym (the YMCA National Capital) is closing for its very delayed and shortened annual shutdown. It normally occurs the last two weeks of August but it was delayed (owing to the renovation on the Anthony Bowen YMCA facility). The closure is from Oct. 30 - Nov. 3rd, but the pool is shut down for an extra week owing to the need for extensive re-tiling and re-grouting of the bottom.

Anyway, next weekend there is no gym option (well, I guess I could go to the Anthony Bowen one), so maybe I should take a bike ride then.

I also need to buy some new clothes, and I never seem to have enough time to do anything.

**Updated 7:30PM 10/10/2015: Content removed**


A few other items ...

So re. the potential computer malware issue I mentioned in my last entry, at this point what I think is actually happening is the anti-viral software (and remember I use my work laptop at home, so this is the IT department's anti-viral software) is blocking some cookie sort of thing from StatCounter that seeks to track. I'm considering getting rid of StatCounter (I've had it for at least 6 years through all my blogs) and use another site meter. I may have no choice in the matter.

Late night scene along U Street by Vermont Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 2:47AM Oct. 27, 2013. I was walking home from Nellie's, where I went after going to Larry's Lounge (Gary had driven me to Nellie's).

In the picture, a young black girl is walking with the young white guy in a costume -- one that allowed him to be nearly shirtless (and it was a bit chilly last night for that). He was attractive. I mention this because a few seconds earlier, the girl had some sort of verbal altercation with these other black girls that she may or may not have known. All I caught was one of the other girls yelling something about someone (the guy?) getting "a rope" for her, to which she replied something that ended with, "Go back to your slum!"

Ha ha


One other item: My new air conditioner does not work as an air conditioner when the outside temp is lower than the indoor temp. This means that when the old steam radiator hisses to overheated life, my apartment soon becomes too warm and the only thing I can do to cool the place off is put the fan in the window. I'm very unhappy with this sh!ty new air conditioner. It also leaks water. I let someone else make the actual purchase for me -- and I paid him the cash -- and this is what I got.

Lastly, actress Marcia Wallace has died. She is probably best known as the voice of Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons, though as an actual actress, she is certainly best known for her role as the receptionist Carol Kester on The Bob Newhart Show. Wallace was 70.

Upstairs late night at Nellie's, Washington, D.C., 2:17AM Oct. 27, 2013. Oooh, the costumes that people were wearing.


OK, that's all for now. My next planned update may not be until Monday night, i.e., early Tuesday.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Night Farrago: The Late Lillian Culver on "Dennis ... " and a Possible Computer Menace (Plus Weather Update)

The U.S. Capitol dome as seen from about 3/4 mile away on the L'Enfant Promenade overpass of the Amtrak / VRE / CSX train tracks, Washington, D.C., 5:16PM Oct. 25, 2013. Those are the shadows of myself, ACP, and DD.


Friday night...

I'm home now watching a rerun of Dennis the Menace ("GOLLY, MR. WILSON!") on Antenna TV.

The episode is "Dennis, the Rainmaker" from 1963 in which Dennis and his friends try to an Indian (Native American! -- no, they didn't use that term) rain dance to make it rain while Mr. Wilson schemes to buy on the cheap a jar or vase that he believes is a centuries old pot worth a lot of money from a lady named Mrs. Schooner.

I mention this because the actress who plays Mrs. Schooner is Lillian Culver. I could not find a Wikipedia article for her but according to her IMDb page, she lived to 103 years old -- born March 23, 1896 and died September 23, 1999 (alas, she didn't quite make the year 2000).

Quoting her biography (embedded link) and with accompanying picture (the only one I could find):

Lillian (Roberts) Culver was born in Loveland, Colorado, the daughter of William Porter Roberts and Clara Ellen Lackey. Her ancestors included Brig. Gen. Isaac Roberts of the War of 1812 and Anne (Robertson)(Johnston) Cockrill, heroine of the Revolutionary War and sister of James Robertson, "the father of Tennessee." She was an aspiring actress in silent movies when she met Harry H. Culver in 1915; they were married a short while later. She gave up her acting career until her husband's death 17 August 1946, whereupon she played small speaking roles in movies and guested on several television shows.


Harry Hazel Culver (11 June 1916 - 1946) (his death) 1 child


Distant cousin (3rd cousin twice removed) of Brad Pitt.

Husband, Harry Hazel Culver, was the founder of Culver City, California

Lillian and Harry Culver had one child, a daughter Patricia, born in August, 1917. Patricia Culver Battle died in December, 2001 - just four years after her mother.


I think there is something wrong with this computer (as in a mal/spy ware issue) but I keep trying to find it with sweeps using the anti-viral software we have but it is not finding anything. However, the same software has on several occasions today popped up to say it is blocking something. I told the IT dept. and was told that I could have a full scan done on Tuesday.

I tried to write down the address it gave but I didn't have a flippin' pen in front of me, and by the time I did, the message was gone.

As it is, I have a sense of dread and doom. But then again, I often do.

If there is a problem, I think it came from the StatCounter site.


My work day was OK and then ACP and DD and I went to Elephant & Castle on Pennsylvania Ave. where we walked from work to get a quick drink. The place was crowded but there three seats at the far end of the bar. This big, fat, middle-aged guy drinking a beer would not move but managed to get around him and his group.

The scaffolding-covered, scrim-fringed Washington Monument silhouetted near dazzling sunset, Washington, D.C., 5:24PM Oct. 25, 2013.


Turning to the weather ...

It is very tranquil with no "sensible" weather of note except that it is rather chilly. In fact, there is a widespread freeze warning in effect for the D.C. and Baltimore areas and points south and east all the way down to the lower Chesapeake Bay. Lows even at KDCA are forecasted to bottom out around freezing. It reached 29F at KIAD this morning, the first freezing or lower reading of the season while KBWI and KDCA were 36F and 38F, respectively. Highs were in the 54F to 57F range under sunny skies.

If it reaches 32F or lower at KDCA tonight, that will be noteworthy in that it means the first KIAD and KDCA freezes of the season -- which can be a month or more apart -- will have occurred within a day of each other. This is precisely why it won't happen an the KDCA low will be 34F or 33F.

Regional advisories as shown on the Sterling (LWX) homepage as of 849PM Oct. 25, 2013. The bright light blue (cyan?) are freeze warnings and the darker blue are frost advisories. There are no warnings in the Blue Ridge or Shenandoah because the growing season is already over (having gone sub-freezing already).


OK, that's about all for now. I'm going to dinner tonight somewhere, but I'm not sure where. Then I'll probably go to the usual places (No. 9 and/or Nellie's or, since Chris is working there, D-I-K). My weekend plans are what they often are: gym tomorrow ... dinner tomorrow night (though this time perhaps with Wendy) ... and a bike ride on Sunday (which I didn't take last Sunday). We'll see how it all pans out.