Thursday, April 30, 2015

Indulging in a Bit of Narcissism as the Night Cap of a Good Day -OR- An End-of-April Coda

"Narcissus" by Caravaggio c. 1598


**This entry doesn't feature many pictures. I may try to post more later.**

If I may do something unusual (for me), I would like to indulge in a bit of narcissism ...

... and I do so despite the fact that I'm a 45-year old man of small stature with once dark-brown hair still full but now semi-ashen gray, an appearance that while not ugly is certainly slightly odd and that you might want as your good luck charm in certain situations but that is in no way a turn on to anybody except the bewildered, the nutty, the desperate or neurotically introverted, the scheming, the weekend late night very drunk, the self-loathing, and the you've-already-lost-in-this-life-so-why-not ...

At the outset, though, let me say that I'm feeling much better after what felt like a near-death experience on Tuesday night with my sinus infection (now under control with an antibiotic and two other over-the-counter treatments.

I went to the gym tonight and had a great workout including a 6.61 mile jog over 60 minutes plus 5 minute cool down (although I set the treadmill course incline at 2% average rather than 4% average, a huge difference, except at the very end when I raised it to 4% on the hardest of the New Zealand South Island course segments, Skippers Canyon Road).

More importantly, I had a solid 75 minutes of decent weightlifting including some free-weights (60-lb barbell and 30-pound dumbbells). It also included about 15 minutes in the small side studio with mirrored walls and soft lighting (albeit confusing lighting controls with different switches that may or may not work on different nights for three different sets of lights). I did a "core" workout with sundry moves including a couple that Milan showed me last night.

The fact it was so strenuous was good, although I can't do those for more than 10 to 20 seconds at a stretch. I really need to build up my strength and stamina there. It also serves my goal of getting at least some of what I estimate to be about 15 pounds of remaining mid-section middle-aged man flab to tighten up and/or go away.

I was alone in that little studio and just pondering my various reflections that on the far wall stretched off into infinity in a sort of mirrored tesseract as I lie on my back on an unfurled matt, I mean, mat in this quiet side room, no music playing from the outside main area (the music has not been a problem in recent months), and the gently whirling fan overhead.

Perhaps it was just the subdued lighting, but in my bright blue gym shorts, work out shirt (a dark t-shirt tonight), and white socks (having removed my sneakers since they weigh me down doing those mid-section exercises), and with my hair its current length, and a BORDERLINE upper body physique, I thought, "Gee, I don't look THAT BAD."

Of course, I am 45, not 25, and not dumb, so I won't be showing anything off.

Anyway, I finished up in that little side room, changed into my bathing trunks and went first to the steam room, then a quick shower, and then into the swimming pool, where I had a short but refreshing swim, another shower, and got dressed and left. Fred was there and we left at the same time.

So that was my gym visit. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention: I weighed myself: 144 pounds, not far from where I've been since late 2013 / early 2014, but perhaps reapportioned better a bit.


My earlier day was also fine.

The Center Café in the grand hall of Union Station from a picture I found online here.


As planned, my mom took a MARC train into D.C. to Union Station and we had lunch there. Andrea also joined us. We were supposed to meet at Thunder Grill but mom arrived at 10AM rather than the agreed upon 1130AM -- 90 minutes early, which is a lot even for her -- and I had to quickly head over from the office where I had arrived a short time earlier to meet her.

Because it was so early, Thunder Grill wasn't open. Instead, we went to the Center Café in the main vaulted hall. It was quite nice and very pleasant. As for the rest of Union Station, it's just big, frenetically crowded, and (depending on where you are) a touch sketchy.

As she used to see me off at airports when I was a little boy, so I saw her off on a MARC commuter train back toward the Baltimore area, or rather, suburban Maryland / Anne Arundel County where she lives, and I headed back to work.

OK, that's all for now. I was going to try to post another entry tonight but at this point, that's probably not going to happen. If I do not, I will not post one until Saturday. I'm skipping any blogging tomorrow (Friday) night.

There are still entries I want to post on regional and world happenings last week with political commentary, but those will have to wait (if I ever get around to posting them).


My Wednesday Rebound: An Overview (that I posted early Thursday morning)

**This entry was posted on April 30, 2015.**

Trees and buildings backdropped by a cirrus-fleeced blue sky, 1600 block of New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 5:08PM April 29, 2015.


I'm feeling significantly better than I was when I posted my previous entry this morning and nothing like last night's scary bad.

After only a few hours at work, I departed the office at 2PM and headed on the Metro to Friendship Heights to see my doctor at the MedStar facility on Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase. She agreed that I probably have a sinus infection.

To be clear, while the doctor really didn't do anything except a cursory ears, nose, and throat inspection and listened to my symptoms, she said that definitive proof of such an infection would likely require a CAT scan or a deep sinus probe and analysis.

Yes, my current doctor (they rotate about yearly there) is female and this picture is of an old white male doctor. Somebody call Joan Walsh.

Anyway, my idea of taking the Augmentin was the right one -- she gave me a prescription for exactly that hybrid blend of amoxicillin and clavulanate potassium acid and in the precise dosage (875mg and 125mg, blended) that I had started taking the previous day (although in a new batch rather then one that is 18 months old). She also prescribed a nasal spray, fluticasone propionate and suggested a generic Sudafed (the generic being pseudoephedrine hydrochloride).

In the case of the latter in the U.S., while it doesn't require a prescription, nevertheless it isn't on the store shelves and instead is "behind the counter" and you have to ask for it and show a valid ID. It is considered a "Schedule List Chemicals" drug.

Almost all* the medications and whatnot that I have purchased for my allergies and subsequent sinus infection laid out on my table in my apartment, Washington, D.C., 5:25PM April 29, 2015.

*I inadvertently omitted one from this group photo.


My vital signs were all good although my blood pressure was characteristically at the upper end of high normal / borderline mild hypertension at 138 / 90. In this case, I had walked slowly, not being in any rush and feeling kind of in a torpor). My temperature was normal at 98.1F (98.2F being normal for an under-the-tongue measurement).

Blood pressure chart


Oh, yes, I weighed myself on the scale in the small waiting room while waiting. I removed everything from my pockets and took off my shoes and belt. I was 146.9 pounds, which translates following a typical gym workout and in bathing trunks to about 144 pounds.

Anyway, it was a short, uneventful visit. The only wild card is how much this will cost me -- with my new UHC "high deductible HSA account plan," it could be $500. It won't be known until whatever UHC decides how much it will or will not pay MedStar of the agreed upon rate.

Oh, yes, I had to update my emergency contact relationship. While I have my mom down as my emergency contact, she was listed as "friend" on the form. I said, "That's my mother. Please change that."

Cheesecake Factory bar area, Friendship Heights, Washington, D.C., 3:50PM April 29, 2015.


I left the office and went to the nearby Cheesecake Factory, where again I had one of the until-5PM lunch specials (salmon, mashed potatoes and broccoli in lieu of asparagus). I received an automated phone call while seated at the bar saying my prescriptions were ready at the Dupont Circle CVS.

While there, I heard a song that I intend to post in this Saturday's planned jukebox Saturday night series entry. It is by the British singer who I am chagrined to admit I was unaware: Clare Teal.

I went back on the Metro to Dupont Circle to the CVS. This was the second day in a row I have been there. Of note, there is now an up and a down escalator right near the main entrance to take you to the second floor where the medicines and pharmacy is located. Previously (since the second floor opened), you had to go via the back steps.

I got home around 520PM and decided that, yes, I could go to the gym, or at least try. I did not do my usual jog but instead used the one of the elliptical machines. I did roughly my usual weightlifting and then -- unexpectedly with Milan, a former lifeguard who still goes to the gym frequently -- some mid-section workouts. 

Milan knows quite a bit about that sort of stuff. Actually, Milan was a doctor back in his native Serbia. It's a big ordeal to get any of those credentials accepted in the U.S. where the walls are intentionally very high in order to protect this particular medical cartel.

I skipped the pool owing to my sinus infection.

I chatted with Calvin at the front desk before I left and then walked home. Unexpectedly, I bumped into Fred as I neared the Northumberland. He and Doug has gotten back from a dinner party and Doug was parking the car in whatever spot he could find. Fred and I waited in the opulent lobby of the Northumberland and talked. Finally, I got home in my next door, far less opulent building, made dinner, and posted this entry. Now I am going to bed.

As for tomorrow, my mom is making a brief MARC train-facilitated visit into D.C., actually, just to Union Station for lunch with me at Thunder Grill. We like that place, at least when it's not crowded.

This picture appeared in this CWG entry. You can read about it over there or download the file and review the name I gave it to get more information.


As ever, there are many things I want to post but I never really seem to get to them, or at least never break out of the mold of posting certain kinds of entries.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Waylaid -OR- Out Sick with Suspected Serious Sinus Infection

It is 9AM and I just got about 10 hours of sleep. However, it was a VERY rough sleep because my illness that I am fairly certain is a bad sinus infection came roaring back around 5PM yesterday in a very strange way: I leaned over at the office to do something and a massive, sustained pain flooded my entire head as if a migraine. However, I am fairly certain it was just fluids in my sinus cavities rearranging themselves and triggering what has become a more or less continuous 15 hour SEVERE headache.

That headache was bad as any migraine I've ever had but with no real relief because it's not a typical or even migraine "headache" but mala-portioned fluids up there doing God-knows-what.

To be clear, I believe the headache is mimicking a migraine but it is quite likely a sinus infection.

I stopped at the Dupont Circle CVS and bought some Cold-Eeze, Zicam, and Alleve. Much more importantly, I started taking the (lots of) left over amoxicillin (or rather, Augmentin) I have from my last bout of dental issues in Sept / Oct. 2013. It is two months past expiration but I don't think that matters.

The alternative -- steadily worsening head / sinus infection that gets in the blood stream and leads to all kinds of terrible things up to and including blindness and even death -- is sort of worse.

I went to the Medics USA facility at R and 17th St. NW as a walk-in for an urgent care need. However, it was already 840PM and the doctor had left for the day. I made the appt. for 11AM this morning. The good news is that I called my regular MedStar physicians office in Chevy Chase / Friendship Heights and was able to get a 3PM appt. today, so I can cancel the former. There shouldn't be a charge since it is within 24 hours (that's what the lady at the desk said).

Now my new HSA-based high-deductible health insurance plan with UnitedHeathcare is such that I am responsible for EVERYTHING up to the first $1,500 (in-network) and then 20% thereafter up to a global annual cap of $4,000. My HSA card only had about $320 on it.

But with the new 26 pay checks per year cycle -- rather than the old 24 per year -- I effectively get two "extra" checks that don't have to go to rent. The first "extra" check is next month (May) but it doesn't operationally show up (as in, not needing to pay rent) until July, so I'll use that to pay for whatever bill is left over. I suspect it is going to be high because I'm going to need a couple more doctor visits including a specialist.

When I called UHC -- God, do I hate that automated system female voice the company uses, a voice that only the shrieking Hysterical One could take seriously -- the "on duty nurse" (some gay guy with a fucking cloying attitude) -- just wanted to talk business while I was in agony. Then he thought he was doing me a favor telling me where there were in-network urgent care centers "within 10 miles") and that if I could go "online," I could get more info.

After more cloying fakery, I ended it with, "I really don't like how you're talking to me," which shut him up for a few seconds, and then after I got the number I needed, I just hung up. This is just a symptom of how everything is so frickin' annoying today not to mention a money-and-personality-driven hoax from what is real and genuine (or is it authentic?).

While I'm feeling a touch better this morning, I simply cannot go to the gym this week. That really sucks. I hate that fact. But going there would almost certainly cause more harm than good.

So that's where things stand.

One last point -- while almost no one will actually read this entry, much less care -- if there is any ONE in particular who wants to chime in with their lovingly intended advice and well-wishes with hugs, cooing, and oh-so-loving TLC maternal (or whatever), I have one request: Please don't.


Monday, April 27, 2015

The Monday Night Blog Entry of Many Excerpts -OR- You Only Live Once (But Life Goes On)

Sunrise and a tree at Belward Farm near Gaithersburg, Md., April 25, 2015 (Xavier Ascanio via Flickr).

Blog Editor's Note on Entry Images: Four of the images in this entry are taken from this CWG entry. I've also included the captions (sometimes adapted slightly) and links in this entry.


I'm home tonight.

Not only am I home, but it is quite early as I start this blog entry (8:39PM) because I didn't go to the gym because I continue to feel quite lousy with this quasi-flu or whatever it is I have that goes beyond "just allergies."

Tulip fields filled with visitors at Burnside Farms, Haymarket, Va., April 25, 2015 (Erin Kelly via Flickr).


I actually (unwisely) started a non-gym night post-work "going out" stint -- namely, taking the Metro just to McPherson Square and walking to the 1400 block of P Street NW -- but I realized the foolishness of that given how I felt.

Instead I stopped at Stoney's because Howie was working (bartending) and had some dinner (salmon and broccoli dinner and iced tea -- you can get that kind of food in most bars in D.C.). I ordered a glass of wine but could barely touch it. I also stopped at next door No. 9 for about 15 minutes and only had half a ginger ale and no liquor, and then walked home.

A fly on a yellow flower at Great Falls, Potomac River (Maryland side), April 26, 2015 (Angela N. via Flickr).


When I got home around 745PM, I even toyed with going to the gym for a low-key workout, but I also decided against that, if only because the sky had briefly clouded up and looking terribly ominous at dusk as some gusty, brief showers passed through the District and immediate environs.

It was forlorn, chilly (for April), and starting to rain, and so I opted to stay home and write this entry. As I finish this entry, it is a breezy, brisk, and moonlit. I had intended to post a series of entries -- except that never actually happens -- because there are so many things I wanted to relate. These are instead excerpted below ...

* Paul Krugman and Jonathan Chait columns, some of which of late have been awesome must-read ones (even if nothing actually changes).


* News about the devastating earthquake in Nepal on Saturday, April 25th, 2015 that has claimed at least 4,000 lives (and possibly significantly higher) with widespread destruction.

Wreckage in Bhaktapur following an earthquake of magnitude 7.8 or 7.9 on the Richter Scale (both numbers are being quoted) on April 25th, 2015.

A man holds s small child as they wait at the Kathmandu airport following the April 25th earthquake.


BTW, I'm getting tired of all these damn ultra-rich tourists (usually but not only Westerners) doing their holidays up and down Mount Everest, leaving all their waste behind (literally), occasionally having mass casualties when things go wrong. That many people just don't need to climb it -- just because they can pay for it.


Closer to Home: Baltimore Erupts in Race Riot, Looting

Baltimore: "All Our Yesterdays" -OR- Urban Ghetto, Anytime, Anywhere, U.S.A.

* News about today's riots / looting in nearby Baltimore after the funeral of a black man (Freddie Gray) killed by the police. Mayhem ensued. Maryland Republican Gov. Larry Hogan called in the National Guard and a city-wide curfew going into effect. Whatever you do, don't read the comments section, which in a situation like this I think should be closed because of the highly malevolent and deleterious quality of them.

Baltimore tourism postcard: "Now you're cookin' with gas."

Baltimore: "Reaching for the Stars (and the Riot Gear)"

But if you do read the comments section, please keep in mind that Maryland (my sort of adopted home state after my actual home state of New Jersey) voted for George Wallace -- in the Democratic primary, no less! (true, the national political configuration was very different back in 1972) -- and even after he had been nearly killed.

Tonight's mayhem just added a few more percentage points into the GOP electoral "pot" -- even in 2016 with Hillary, although I would be surprised if she outright lost the state. Ooohh, and I'll bet there all hunkered down in Glen Burnie. Oh, and Channel 13 must be goin' wild. I just hope Marty Bass can get that "money" live shot while doing the weather.

Baltimore: "Y.O.L.O."

Oh, Baltimore of memory: I do love you.


* The unlikelihood that we'll see an out-of-season nor'easter later this week as even the operational GFS is crapping out).

* Reposting of some lovely spring flowering images from another CWG entry (where I have an admittedly odd-to-others Arcturus24 comment, although it's gotten 3 "thumbs up (something)").

Update (before posting): OK, I actually am reposting a number of those images in this entry (as noted in the captions).

NY Times caption: The shrinking of Mercury has caused fractures in the surface, producing cliffs. The red areas are higher than those in blue. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington


* The little MESSENGER probe's scheduled kamikaze mission into the planet Mercury on Thursday after four years of orbiting -- and three prior years of fly-bys -- of this genuinely mysterious world and providing an amazing amount of information.

Oh, Mercury, you odd little world, you.

At the "opposite end" of the Solar System, our brave, intrepid, and all-around awesome little New Horizons probe is just 77 days from its historic rendezvous with (dwarf planet) Pluto and its (dwarf planet) moons.

We're watching you closely, little one. We see what you see. We're with you.

* Other stuff / various.

However, I also need to take some medicine to knock myself out (maybe some of that years-out-of-date Benadryl or Vick's Dayquil (or is it Nyquil?), or alternatively, my also-well-past-its-expiration-date Theraflu. That worked well last night, and I even got up earlier than normal (in part because the scheduled hot water outage in the building).

A field of what might be winter crest (also called yellow rocket-cress) in Shenandoah County, Va., April 26, 2015 (Brian Howell via Flickr).

I thought it might be goldenrod but apparently it's the wrong time of year (i.e., not late summer).


I'll try to go to the gym tomorrow night and Wednesday night, although both are likely to be low-key workouts -- certainly the one tomorrow night not involving the usual 6.5 mile/hour-long jog followed by an hour of weightlifting and then a swim.

As of right now (Monday night), I am doubtful that I'm going to be able to go to that Saturday morning Casey Trees tree planting event at Fort Dupont Park in Southeast D.C. It's a work charity event that starts at the weekend morning-unheard-of 9AM hour.

It's not that, though, but rather the tree pollen and my own bad allergies mixed with whatever quasi-flu I also have. I'm not going to kill myself, or knock my recovery back a week just to do that.

OK, that's all for now.

As you can tell, I ended up posting a much more detailed entry than I intended. My next planned update is either tomorrow or Wednesday night.


A Difficult and Vexing Weekend Ends on a Sunny Sunday Note -OR- Still the Same Capital View

**This entry was posted on April 27, 2015.**

View of the Francis Scott Key Bridge and Potomac River as well as parts of Washington, D.C., as seen from the Key Bridge Marriott, Arlington, Va., 3:49PM April 26, 2015.

It was kind of wild watching the shadow of the jets on the (this day) upriver take off from National Airport sweep so rapidly across the Potomac. It gave a much clearer sense of how fast the jets are actually moving with respect to the ground


I'm still not feeling well, although I managed to get out of the dust-trap apartment and go with Gary to Arlington to meet his mom, where we had a late lunch at Il Radicchio and then go grocery shopping at the Giant along Lee Highway.

An undated exterior picture of Il Radicchio that I found online on Google maps / street images.


Actually, Gary bought lunch including the two glasses of chianti I had (which I'm sure weren't good for my head cold and sore throat). That was very nice of him. The pizza we had there was delicious. The restaurant itself -- at least at that early hour -- was empty and a bit strangely laid out. The staff also seemed a bit put out by the fact we were even there, although the waiter in the end was reasonably attention. Overall it was a very nice experience and I would go back.

A short time earlier, and because we had about 20 minutes to wait, we went to the Key Bridge Marriott, where we sauntered into the lobby and went to the top 14 floor with its "Capital View Ballroom" reception hall containing large windows that afford a great view of D.C. (both downtown and Georgetown as well as the more distant larger structures including transmission towers) and the Potomac River itself.

A water-marked image of the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Va., that I found online here.


To the west, there is a view toward the steeper terrain of Arlington with its clutter of office buildings in different locations. (The skyline of Rosslyn itself is "behind" (south of) the hotel so not visible from this top-floor hall since that side just has a regular wall.)

Gary and I were there once nearly five years ago -- on May 31, 2010 to be exact -- as discussed in this entry. There were some large plants and a weird sculpture that were basically blocking one corner that faces downriver toward D.C.

A backstreet at the edge of Rosslyn, Arlington, Va., 3:34PM April 26, 2015.

I think this might be N. Rhodes Street as it intersections Rt. 50 / Arlington Blvd., but I'm not quite sure.


After lunch, we headed back into D.C. and went to Larry's Lounge, where the place was mobbed. While the volume was muted and it was just music playing, one of the two large flat-screen TVs was tuned to a horrifically hyper-violent movie (I'm not going to say which one but it wouldn't frickin' end). The other one was tuned to the really weird 1966 movie Fantastic Voyage.

It would be so goddamn nice if fewer places simply didn't have televisions that force you to watch whatever vendible pop cultural garbage happens to be on at that moment or is the whim of someone else.

Yours truly in the back seat of Gary's car riding around Arlington, Va., 5:38PM April 26, 2015.


As noted, I'm still sick. My tree pollen-induced bad allergies are being compounded by some head cold or possible throat infection. I can't really tell what's what. Having said that, I am planning on going to work tomorrow unless I take a really bad turn overnight.

Family-sized boxes of Lucky Charms cereal at the Lee Highway Giant, Arlington, Va., 5:45PM April 26, 2015.


There are two good reasons why I really need to go into the office tomorrow: First, our whole office is upgrading to Cloud-based Office 365, and I do not presently have access to my email; Secondly, the hot water is supposed to be off in the building all day tomorrow for some plumbing repairs.

A box of Froot Loops cereal at the Lee Highway Giant, Arlington, Va., 6:01PM April 26, 2015.


I am having some hot tea right now. More importantly to my malady (whatever it is), I am also having some Theraflu in hot water. That should knock me out by 1AM-ish, and I can sleep until almost 8AM. (The hot water outage is set to begin at 9AM and run until about 330PM.)

As for tomorrow night, I might go to the gym, although given how I feel, it isn't a certainty. This might not be the best week for great gym workouts.

The row houses in the 1700 block of T Street NW, Washington, D.C., 6:51PM April 26, 2015.

The clouds seemed painted on the sky as if in an old movie set.


Changing topics ...

As you may know, I've not had cable TV since last November and my TV it sitting dark and idle, at least until I can figure out how to work the digital antenna that is in a dusty box.

Having said that, I just discovered that TV Land's website has a whole section devoted to The Golden Girls including a series of full episode videos. It looks as though 5 videos are available (after watching obligatory commercial) for part of the upcoming week with an "expiration date" of April 29, 2015, when presumably a new set of 5 will be available. To be clear, the episodes are still truncated with lots of funny lines cut out from the original to compress them down into the approx. 20 minute format.

Anyway, the link is here. If you click on it, you will be directed to one of the episodes. I'm actually watching an appropriate one for how I feel now: The Flu.

Screenshot from "The Flu" episode of The Golden Girls.


Weather-wise ...

The weather this week looks to be a tad below normal temp wise (highs between 60F and 68F through Friday) with only a minor chance of rain on Tuesday night and again on Thursday. The 18Z operational GFS actually spins up what looks like an East Coast nor'easter but Sterling LWX is downplaying that as of now, of course.

OK, that's all for now.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Things Fall Apart -OR- On Coming and Going: A Lifelong Continuing Series*

The Manassas National Battlefield Park located about 33 miles west southwest of Washington, D.C.

Every time I see that image, I recall my own "visit" there when my friendship with Dan ended abruptly -- in a fight in the car on the way to Charlottesville on a lovely, cool, breezy, cloudy April day in 2002 or 2003 (can't recall). He dropped me off (per my request) and drove off, never looking back. That ended the relationship. Phil rescued me that day. He and I would later fall forever afoul of each other.

*Blog title post: Nod to Chinua Achebe's famous novel and to my one-time blogger buddy Fifi in this memorable post upon the death of our other blogger buddy, Bryan.


This wasn't the entry I intended to post, but I should probably note these things.

I am going to make this a short entry since I really need to get out of the dust-trap of an apartment, all the more so because it is a lovely late April Sunday spring day.

The theme of this entry are collapsing / collapsed relationships. Now to be clear, I don't have any "relationships" of the romantic sort. Never had and never will. At this point, my personality not only doesn't allow it (that's always been true) but doesn't want it.

I'm talking about friends including long time ones and family.

Before I get into that, though, I should note that my tree pollen-triggered bad allergies this past week morphed suddenly last night (probably also because I was upset at the issues below) into a full-fledged head cold. The rest of my body wasn't achy or anything. I had a migraine headache, I could only swallow with pain (it's somewhat better now), and I couldn't sleep. I had night sweats, fevers, chills and then overheated. My electric fan was a real savior.

Of course, there is so much dust in my apartment that it's not helping matters.

Anyway, last night trying to sleep wasn't pretty, but I eventually fell asleep and actually got up earlier than I normally would.

Of note, I had earlier been at Trio where I had dinner with Fred and then we went to Floriana where we watched President Obama speak at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Quite astonishing and hilarious.

So the issue of relationships and how they change of which I speak is tricky. The one I cannot write realistically write about here because this person is my one religiously regular reader, and I'm just not going to get into it here.

Suffice it to say, please just take care of yourself and get healthier, more secure, and out of the barrio, and stop fretting about meeting me. And I don't know why the emoticons on the earnestly written emails, letters, and texts bug me so much but they just do. It is a sign of love and affection, so why does it bother me?

I've no doubt the malady from which I am presently suffering is GOD-DOES-BATTLE's "punishment" on me for feeling this way and, much worse, having actually said that to this person. (I got that term from a long-ago sci-fi book I saw on a bookstore shelf in Glen Burnie. I've no idea the book. I just like the term, though.)

As for my situation with my dad, it's just ugly.

He has morphed into a miserable, eccentric, tantrum-throwing 74-year old alcoholic down there in that Flagler-by-the-Sea trailer setting. He is DEMANDING I go down there -- as ever, with the intention of tricking me into meeting the Crazy One (who is still banned from that trailer park, itself quite an achievement).

The temper tantrum is designed to force me to continue to be a 12-year old adolescent son-as-appendage while he screams and yowls, maybe even doing the occasional [controlled substance abuse reference].

He wants me to stay in the frickin' trailer by the sea -- after picking me up at Daytona Beach Int'l Airport, itself following some prolonged nightmare commute through the Atlanta Hartsfield aerodrome megalopolis -- for ONE NIGHT (he emphasizes that) and then we're supposed to do some glorious screaming pick up truck ride to Tallahassee / the Florida panhandle to meet an acquaintance of his. To be clear, why the fuck would I want to go to frickin' Tallahassee, Florida??

That's his dream. He wants this precisely because I don't want to do it and have refused for months. It is of paramount importance for him to get his way. And keep in mind that there will be trickery to have me hang around Shannon. That's the second part of his plan, and it represents his "victory" that, goddammit, he's going to have.

This young man is certainly no more than 16 years old, maybe even just 13. It's hard to tell. The stunning contrast of ocean and beautiful beach with the lawlessness of his world is just amazing.


When he realized, yet again, that this wouldn't work, he said I was a liar for having agreed to come down there and then reneged -- never mind this debacle -- and what a "cold" and "hateful" person I had become, and that he know longer has a son, whereupon he just hung up the phone and resumed drinking liquor at 1115AM. Oh, yes, he said I had "totally sided" with my mother "a thousand times" over him despite the fact that as a child / teenager, she didn't want me around at all.

Following this oh-so-predictably disastrous call, I reached out to three different people to discuss it including my mom (no answer), a mutual party down in the Orlando area (no answer), and someone else (reception problems that manifested itself as a sort of hang up).

This is Pointe de la Grande Vigie on the northern tip of the island of Guadeloupe in the French West Indies. My dad and I went there in 1993 and then five years later because a total solar eclipse just so happened to take place in this spot in Feb. 1998.

We climbed down the rocks on the 1993 trip to the heaving turquoise sea -- the meeting place of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea -- and it was one of the most sublime moments of my life (and it occured in the context of a shitty walk on a hot, empty road to no where). Sea spray, sunlight, terrace upon terrace of rocks revealed as the ocean withdrew only to rush back in with a roar.


So that being the case, I'll just write about it here ...

I was actually relieved that he hung up because I didn't have to ensure an hour long monologue from him on bullshit. Honestly, I don't even want him in my life anymore. Perhaps in this way he is right.

Gary sent me this picture of Rock Creek Park just off 16th Street NW with the Hughes Memorial "Eiffel" Tower in the distance that he took a short while ago.

Apparently, the DC Gay Flag Football League team was playing in this picture. That's a lot of sorority boy gay men.


Having said that, it's hard to explain, Dear Reader, just how wildly, radically different things are between us than when I was a child (growing up in the second half of the 1970s in Long Branch, N.J., with him and my paternal grandparents while my mom and Ray were overseas in Belgium) and as a teenager when I was already living in Glen Burnie, Md., with my mother and Ray.

I loved him and was so in awe of him.

And all the travels that we took -- all kinds of car trips up and down the East Coast, and even longer trips by jet to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, Mexico, and the Caribbean. (My mother used to say angrily that he was always "dangling trips in front of (me)" and that's why I liked him so much.

But things started to deteriorate by the time I was 19, especially with the drug use, and eventually after his early retirement from the State of New Jersey, he ended up in sundry Southern state places, often near the beach (Port Orange, Fla.; the Outer Banks, N.C.; N. Myrtle Beach, S.C.), though once inland (outside Ocala, Fla.), and eventually the area he is now -- Flagler Beach, Fla., and the seaside no-man's land just north of it.

My dad and I and our bull mastiff dog "Borky" back in Long Branch, N.J., circa 1977. I was 7 years old.

He had injured his hand in a karate tournament, as I recall.


I also lost him as a person in my life in any meaningful way, although there was never a straight line collapse. It just gradually happened until we ended up where we are now.

I may never see him again. One last point to keep in mind: His brain is fried from years of substance abuse including crack and heroin and lots of prescription pills all the way back to before I was born. He is also a narcissist. He's actually depressed now precisely because the Crazy One isn't allowed to live with him, so he's just bored -- and that's when life starts weighing on him.

Anyway, that's all I had to say now.

View from my apartment.


I'm going to get the hell out of this apartment and take a walk through my D.C. world, probably over to Georgetown. I don't want to do a bike ride as I'm still feeling a bit woozy and don't want to risk falling off it.

Were I badly injured, I really would find myself up the proverbial creek without a paddle because I have nobody but me to take care of me.

I really need to get to New Zealand before I die.


My next planned update will be Monday night. Actually, I might skip the gym tomorrow night as well if I still feel this way. It's not like I haven't gone a bazillion times lately. Indeed, my body is still sore from all that jogging and weightlifting.

Actually, at this point, I'm starting to not feel well again (headache returning). I'm just so worn out.

Update (before posting this entry): I discovered I had an email from a former co-worker who had moved to San Francisco about six months ago to start a brand new, very promising career. It turns out it has been an unmitigated disaster and she is very upset. I'm not really sure what to say to her.

I do know what I can say there, though: My complaints and laments aside, it can always be worse.  Sometimes I forget that.

Peace Out.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Jukebox Saturday Night Entry for April 25th, 2015: The Soft Rain, H&O, and Escapade Edition

"Soft Rain" by Paul Hardcastle on his The Jazzmasters VII release (2014)

This is a vintage Paul Hardcastle on The Jazzmasters series, and it suites the chilly, rainy weather tonight here in the city. The image stills that accompany it are wonderful, as well.


"Say It Isn't So" by Hall and Oates from the duo's album Rock 'n Soul Part 1 (1983)

This isn't the best quality video of what is the original music video -- esp. since that original itself featured lots of blurry and disjointed camera action -- but the sound quality is fine. Furthermore, the beat is wonderful and lyrics are great.

"Say it isn't so painful / To tell me that you're dissatisfied / Last time I asked you / I really got a lame excuse / I know that you lied / Now wicked things can happen / You see 'em goin' down in war / But when you play in a quiet way / That bites it even more ..."


And now for something both smooth and Saturday night upbeat in a way that only Janet Jackson could do with beat, lyrics, spectacular choreography, and all ...

"Escapade" by Janet Jackson from her album Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989)

The singing talent quotient between her and her late brother, Michael, is simply off the charts.


I had a decent gym workout and I just finished my laundry. I'm meeting Fred at Trio for dinner (the little inside bar that I like) and then going to Floriana for a drink and perhaps No. 9. In other words, a standard weekend night. I might meet up with Gary at some point later tonight.

As noted above, it a chilly, gloomy, rainy night here in D.C. despite the late April calendar date. That's fine with me. The air temp. is only around 46F. I'll dress accordingly.

I'll try to update the blog tomorrow early afternoon.


My Planned Friday Night Update Posted on Saturday Afternoon (with a Paucity of Pictures)

**This entry was posted on April 25, 2015.**

An old boat -- in place of the usual yacht$$$ -- at Washington Harbour on the Potomac River, Georgetown, Washington, D.C., 6:49PM April 19, 2015.

OK, I composed this entry on Friday night but simply ran out of time to post it -- it was getting too late if I wanted to go out. It is right now Saturday early (and soon-to-be-mid) afternoon, and I need to go to the gym. I'll try to post this as I wrote it with only an update at the end.

Also, I just don't have many pictures for this entry. The ones I have for it were were taken at various times including on my bike ride last Sunday that included a stop at the windy, rainy Washington Harbour in Georgetown at Sequoia's outdoor bar.


Friday night.

I left work early today because my allergies were so bad that I felt like a zombie. In addition, I wasn't that busy today. I went to the Dupont Circle CVS and purchased Zyrtec. This was to replace the Claritin I bought at the same spot about two weeks ago that clearly has not been working for me this year.

Of note, this long-time CVS (and, long before that, Peoples Drug) recently expanded to the second floor even as a major renovation of the whole space takes place. Maybe the old 1940s-era lunch counters that I understand it once had back in its Peoples Drug era can be returned??

Cemetery at Our Lady Queen of Poland / St. Maximilian Kolbe Church near Forest Glen Metro, Silver Spring, Md., 3:41PM April 19, 2015.

There's nothing quite like a Polish Catholic Church with adjoining cemetery filled with Virgin Mary stone statuary to get one in that "special mood" of all-is-lost despair.


The Zyrtec was $29.99 because America is great, but again I was able to put it on my HSA card, which has really come in handy. I've probably spent about $62 on that card so far but the amount added to it each paycheck puts the total well above that (probably around $300 even with these expenditures).

In yet another way, Obamacare is working. Therefore, the GOP must destroy it.

Anyway, I walked home and then quickly went back out to the gym, where I had a decent workout. I did my 6.5 mile jog, about an hour of moderate to even borderline strenuous weightlifting that included about 10 minutes trying to work on midsection, still, and a quick swim in the pool (itself preceded by 5 minutes in the steam room and quick shower and then followed by another shower).

What follows below are some observations about my physique / body / weight -- and I'll spare everyone pictures.

Blurry picture of Rosslyn and Theodore Roosevelt Island across the Potomac River from the Washington Harbour, Georgetown, Washington, D.C., 6:30PM April 19, 2015.

It was windy, overcast, chilly, and showery at that point. Also, "harbour" is spelled the British way there.


First, as for my midsection, it remains too flabby by about 10 to 15 pounds of middle aged male fat. However, it is really not noticeable unless I only wear a t-shirt (as I tend to do with my gym shorts when I am at the gym).

A shrimp cocktail (obviously) and a glass of wine (surprise) at the outdoor bar at Sequoia's, Washington Harbour, Washington, D.C., 6:31PM April 19, 2015.


Secondly, I've never been more muscular in my arms in my life. However, that's not saying much, esp. since I've always had this unimpressive onetime very thin but now just sort of non-descript, short-statured, Italian-Polish peasant's body. Nevertheless, it is quite noticeable for me. I've also, as my regular reader(s) know, lost 40+ pounds from my heaviest weight in June 2012 with all the loss taking place by late 2013.

I probably lost more like 45 pounds of fat -- going from about 184 pounds to about 142 at my minimum as I put on some muscle mass.

These are approximations.

A dogwood tree in bloom (white flower variety) at the corner of 15th and U Streets NW, Washington, D.C., 11:08AM April 21, 2015.

This is a block from my apartment.


Lately, I sense that my body "wants" to put on more weight -- I've probably gained a net of 4 to 6 pounds from my minimum. Even the extended jogs aren't helping with this. Indeed, my "natural" weight given my diet -- which is mostly good food-wise and not too bad with sugar intake, except for the major failure of drinking too much, even if it is mostly flavored vodka and soda (water) sort of drinks -- is probably about 155 pounds, and it's only jogging that keeps that off.

I also probably need to invest in a better pair of jogging sneakers rather than the first thing I see at Payless in Columbia Heights.

One odd thing: My shoe size had definitely increased from what had always been 9-1/2 to 10 and, in fact, probably closer to 10-1/2. I suppose it's just getting older and feet flattening out / expanding.

A dogwood tree in bloom (pinkish flower variety) at the triangular point New Hampshire Avenue meets 15th Street on the grounds of the Wakefield Hall, Washington, D.C., 7:14PM April 21, 2015.

Wakefield Hall is another William C. Smith property like my Hampton Courts building a block away.


As for today's gym visit, I really wanted to go to the gym because I skipped last night along with Wednesday night (although I went Monday and Tuesday nights). Instead, I rode my bike to work and then biked home last night -- it was a chilly evening following such a cool, pleasant day -- but via Georgetown.

I stopped at two places in Georgetown I had not previously been: Gypsy Sally's and Paper Moon Italian restaurant.

Gypsy Sally's -- which was not my destination, but rather the place next to it called (Malmaison), that place was closed for a private event -- is a strange second floor music hall with a bar located waaaaay at the far end of Georgetown under the Whitehurst Freeway, almost under the Key Bridge in a sort of no man's land close to Jack's Boathouse and the start (or rather, end) of the Capital Crescent Trail. The "Potemkin Village" skyline of Rosslyn loomed large right across the Potomac River in the dusky evening.

I was told I couldn't stay in the main music "venue" room without paying for the live music that was about to start. However, the hostess walked me to the hidden back bar (the Vinyl Lounge?). However, that kind of sucked, both because the hatted bartender seemed to be in some sort of catatonic trance, and because that's just not my sort of scene. At all. I had quick beer and left.

I'm glad I visited it, though, just to say I was there.

I had far more luck at the second place: Paper Moon. I sat at the corner of the front bar in the main dining area -- whose dimly lit décor had a touch of New Orleans mixed with an old Catholic Church even as the overall feel was festive -- and I had a nice dinner with chianti. I was quite hungry actually. The bartender -- a fiery Muslim / Arab guy named "Red" -- was very friendly to me, and the whole experience was enjoyable. I will go back there.

I then biked on the back streets of Georgetown back to Dupont Circle (via Q Street) and stopped at Larry's Lounge, where I unexpectedly met Gary and also had a good conversation with Bill. I got home around 1140PM and had a whole phone call interaction with my dad down in Florida that I'm not going to get into now. That's a separate entry. Everything is fine except, as ever, I am not visiting him down there as long as the present situation with crazy Shannon remains.

I'm home now making dinner. I had a half hour (rare) phone call with my mom a few minutes ago. The good news is that Ray (my stepfather) qualifies for some VA benefits for health issues he incurred as a young man all those many decades ago in Vietnam. I looked up the Veterans Compensation Benefits Rate Tables and this is good news indeed based on the percentage.

I was also quite happy to hear that my mom in her retirement is keeping quite busy doing all kinds of stuff around northern Anne Arundel County and even in Laurel (Howard County).

OK, that's about all for now. My plan is to go to No. 9 tonight, although I might stop by Floriana, although Jamie is away this weekend. Tomorrow is another gym day visit and then repeat tomorrow night. For Sunday, I'd like to take a bike ride.

I intend to post a jukebox Saturday night entry along with one additional entry before that one tomorrow.


The stunningly beautiful Kwanzan cherry blossoms on a tree at 1735 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 4:48PM April 24, 2015.

These blossoms were quite old and starting to fall off. I must say that all the fuss in D.C. is over the Yoshino "Japanese" blossoms and these Kwanzan -- which I think are prettier -- get short shrift, esp. on the CWG site during the blooming season.


Saturday afternoon.

As noted at the outset, it is now Saturday afternoon. I didn't have enough time to post this entry last night -- it would have been (well) after 11PM by the time I did so.

Last night, I went first to [D's] bar at Floriana where I met Brian C. and watched the last minutes of Diane Sawyer's interview with Bruce Jenner, who is becoming a woman. It's a long and convoluted story, and not something I really want to get into on this blog. I also watched a few minutes of the movie Ghost. My flip-open cell phone and my pair of gloves (it was chilly last night) both caused amusement.

Later, I went to crowded No. 9, where I had an non-noteworthy time and came home.

Now I need to get ready to go to the gym. I intend a jukebox Saturday night entry as well as (perhaps tomorrow) a political-themed one, or at least one with some links to articles I read this past week that I liked.