Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Brief Update and Off to the Jersey Shore ...

OK, I don't have much time to write an entry as I am running at least an hour late of where I wanted to be in getting ready to head out with Gary and LP on our annual Jersey shore summer vacation.

We are heading to "The Wildwoods" and Cape May, specifically, staying in Wildwood Crest at the Adventurer Oceanfront Inn. We are going there via the Eastern Shore to Rehoboth Beach to pick up Gloria and then take an evening ferry from Lewes to Cape May.

My understanding is that tonight's Full Moon should be rising right about as we are on the boat. It's the full "Sturgeon" Moon and also one of the occasional "super Moons" when the Moon is at perigee.

I'm borderline badly hung over from last night excessive drinking. I intended a low key night as I first went to the Floriana downstairs grotto bar, better known as Dito's bar for the well-known and well-liked fellow who runs it.

Dito -- who always has the most interesting things on the television behind the bar -- was showing the unparalleled opening spectacular of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It was almost superhuman in its production value.

The place had about half a dozen gay men (the A-list sort of our little community plus me). The general commentary was hilarious. I can't begin do it justice now.

We then watched a Donald Trump clip of him doing his Charlie Chan Chinese imitation yesterday at a campaign speech. "We want deal." Astonishing.

I settled up and headed across the street to Fox & Hound where I met Jamie and Jenny. The three of us plus Ian went to Larry's Lounge, where I got way drunk. I even had two opportunities with fellows (that never happens). I talked to Bob and Aris and some of them and then stumbled home.

OK, that's all for now. I probably won't be updating this blog until at least late Wednesday next week, maybe Thursday.

I'm off. And that's the truth.

The Jersey Shore.


Friday, August 28, 2015

A Friday Night Musical Interlude (In Lieu of a Jukebox Saturday Night Entry) for Aug. 28th 2015: Jersey Shore Edition

"Tinsel Town" by Ronny Jordan from his album The Quiet Revolution (1993)

Such a relaxing piece. Alas, Ronny Jordan passed away in early 2014 at the age of 51, but this video features lots of nice still images of him doing what he did so well.

This is, yes, a Friday Night Musical Interlude entry -- of the sort I did starting in about August 2012 and running through June 2013, whereupon I replaced it with my Jukebox Saturday Night feature -- that I am posting because I will be away tomorrow on my Jersey shore summer vacation.


"The Game of Love" by Santana ft. Michelle Branch from Santana's album Shaman (2002)

This is a really nice song. All the kissing is very annoying and distracting to the music, but I still like the song and the sepia-toned video.


And now let's end with something weekend night upbeat and energetic ...

"Bulletproof" by La Roux from the duo's eponymously named album (2009)

I really like the lines:

"Burning bridges shore to shore, / I'll break away from something more, / I'm not turned on to love until it's cheap. /Been there, done that, messed around / I'm having fun, don't put me down. / I'll never let you sweep me off my feet ..."


A brief update (with no damn pictures since I don't have the time or inclination for that) ...

I'm not even going to try to post an update tonight. I'm in a bad mood, or rather, a highly stressed one, as I have been all week, and I just want to go out by myself (all plans fell through, didn't work out, or were bogus with which to begin) for a couple drinks. I need to keep expenditures very low (so, obviously, that means going to No. 9 for its $5 vodka deals).

I want to be in bed by 1AM in order to have a few hours tomorrow morning to get ready for (as mentioned above) my impending late summer annual trip to the Jersey shore (Wildwood Crest / Wildwood) via the Cape May - Lewes ferry with Gary and LP and (in lieu of Wendy), Gloria.

It was actually a good day at work and, in retrospect, the week turned out better by the end as I did bona fide work (both client related and a press release with a big announcement that goes out Monday; my original text was used almost verbatim, which is nice considering the complicated topic).

OK, that's all for now. I'll try to post an entry tomorrow morning (that's my intention), in particular since I likely won't post any until at least late Wednesday, perhaps Thursday.

Updated (before posting): My dad called -- I answered and he was actually there -- and we've been talking for an hour while I have been composing this entry. He is trying to find the number of his old, long ago friend Mikey in New Jersey, whose wife passed away 2 years ago, and I am doing a bit of internet sleuthing. He and another friend who died -- Kenny -- were drunk at Mikey's wedding back circa 1975 and got into a veritable food fight. The bride (wife) was not happy with them for years. Ha ha.


Just Another Disjointed Late Night Update In Lieu Of My Planned Entry -OR- Anchor Babies Aweigh!

The U.S. Navy flag waves against the cloud-fleeced morning blue sky at the United States Navy Memorial along Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., 10:21AM August 26, 2015.


OK, I started an entry but it quickly became too lengthy. It's on the topic of my Wednesday dental visit and put in the large context of my many dental problems that I've had as an adult (and that I've written about on this blog including here and here).

It was an indeterminate visit in terms of finding out if something is really wrong with #13, but I have to go back for a procedure on another tooth on Sept. 10th.

However, I just don't have the time or energy tonight to complete that entry and post it, esp. as it is now 12:45AM, and I'm very tired.

This entry is just a brief update with only the lead image.

I had a decent gym workout tonight (the usual three parts) and got in three workouts -- that's one extra than usual -- this week ahead of my upcoming Jersey shore visit to Wildwood and Cape May when I won't be going to the gym. (I probably won't go until either next Wednesday or Thursday.)

I'm going to try to update this blog tomorrow (i.e., later today) after work and post a quick Saturday morning entry ahead of my departure with Gary. About that trip, Wendy isn't coming (grrr ...) but I get LP for five days. Count 'em: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. In Wendy's place, Gloria is going with us. I haven't had much dealings with her since this episode.

The weather is pleasant tonight with temps even here in the city around 70F and dew points around 57F, which is quite nice for August (or anytime in the summer months) in D.C. No rain is in the forecast for the next several days (we could use some). There is a tremendous amount of uncertainty with respect to a forecasted hurricane next week -- Erika -- that could brush / strike the Florida coastline.

The GFS runs are wildly inconsistent with the center of circulation doing odd to completely unrealistic things such as moving northwestward all the way to Chicago (last night's 0Z run), moving east-southeast for days back out over the Atlantic hundreds of miles north of the Greater Antilles (6Z run), lingering off the Southeast coast for days before almost executing a loop and striking Nova Scotia at hour 384 (the end of the run) (12Z), and moving west to Memphis (the 18Z run).

The latest run (12Z Aug. 28th) takes a diffuse circulation (not an actual tropical cyclone) and runs it ashore over Florida where it tries to enter the Gulf of Mexico near Tampa but instead just sort of peters out into nothing with showers and t-storms.

With the ginormous warm ENSO event underway, and possibly that warm phase PDO (that's more speculative), the Atlantic hurricane season is mostly a non-starter. (We are really starting to see manifestations of climate change. Humans and human civilization have pushed the climate system and ecosphere too far, and America's Know Nothing political and economic bullshit philosophies returning us to 19th Century Oligarchy and, eventually, medieval Feudalism can't do squat about it. All they can do is try to inflate some more financial bubbles for the oligarchical overclass in a time of worldwide deflationary economics and massive global excess everything.)

Speaking of hurricanes, we're at the 10th anniversary of the catastrophe and shameful national tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in terms of what was allowed to happen to New Orleans, and [refraining from political commentary, though it pains me to do so].

In lieu of that, please read this Jonathan Chait piece (the headline doesn't do it justice) (link embedded): Donald Trump Is Going to Lose Because He Is Crazy.

I'm still lovin' it -- and, unlike McDonald's crap, this is actually good for the Democratic Party and sanity.

OK, I'm signing off for now. Good night, Dear Reader.


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Digby, Marshall, and Krugman on the Perpetual Media Motion Clinton Scandal Machine, E-mail Edition; A Brief Personal Update

The pathway through the Smithsonian Butterfly Habitat Garden located on the east side of the National Museum of Natural History at 9th St NW between Constitution Ave and the National Mall, Washington, D.C., 10:45AM August 25, 2015.

This is one garden in a series of Smithsonian gardens around the National Mall (which, for its part, remains extensively fenced off and severely torn up as it undergoes massive "reconstruction").


The political-themed content below was originally part of my previous entry, but it was already late and I wanted to stay focused. Thus, I am posting it below. Some of the pieces are already a few days old already but that doesn't change the reality of it.

I have a brief personal update at the bottom of this entry.


So I want to note a good piece by blogger Heather Digby Parton ("Digby") that just appeared in Salon and is linked below. (Yes, I have mentioned that I find it very difficult navigating and reading that site given its cartoonish style and self-parodying political correctness that -- taken together -- basically demands the eradication of the male gender.) This piece is on the phony Clinton email scandal that the Beltway political-media class are fixated upon, and thus useful tools of the GOP Agit-Prop machine (link embedded):

I love her reference to "Cokie's Law" (as in a Beltway pundit class axiom attributed to Cokie Roberts). It is stated below.

Cokie's Law: The press can pass judgment about anything once it's "out there" regardless of whether or not what's "out there" is true.

As Digby alludes, Cokie's Law is equally valid as beauty parlor gossip or New York Times political reporting, in particular on the Clintons.

Digby's analysis of Chuck Todd's Meet the Whore roundtable group grope, er, discussion this past Sunday on the email "scandal" is also very good -- and infuriating to read what comes out of Todd's mouth and the mouths of his guests, ostensibly "solid reporters" whenever the topic involves the Clintons.

This excerpt summarizes Digby's thesis quite nicely:

"One of the major effects of the patented "Clinton Scandal" that's become a fixture of political conversation over the past two decades is the helplessness in engenders in Democrats who feel like they are swimming in quicksand trying to make sense of the whole thing. They know it's not a real scandal, and yet the press is blatantly aroused by the opportunity to speculate wildly about "what it all means" while the Republicans smugly repeat their talking points with robotic military precision. But again, that's the point. It's even got a name: "Clinton Fatigue" ..."

Josh Marshall of TPM has his own take on it (link embedded): A View From the Clinton Scandal Nonsense Mill. He takes apart a Reuters "exclusive" that posits a scandal because Clinton "should have known" what should have been classified, but was not, in the emails and then throws this out there ("Reuters' findings may add to questions ...")

Best summary lines (although I don't think the blame is spread equally as he implies):

"The Clintons may not go looking for trouble but they always find it. They have a tortured but ultimately symbiotic, codependent and deeply toxic relationship with their pursuers, which is simply, after a couple decades, exhausting. You just don't get this with Obama."

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman had a nice turn of phrase in this blog entry:

"By normal human standards this [story] is a big nothing; but Clinton Rules apply, under which malign behavior is the default assumption and where there's smoke there must be fire even if everyone knows that the usual suspects are operating big smoke machines. How many people still think that there really was a Whitewater scandal, or for that matter that Hillary is the subject of a criminal investigation?"

Ah, Whitewater, the apotheosis of bogus Bill Clinton presidency-era "Clinton Scandals" ...

... relentlessly pushed by the conservative entertainment complex (as it existed in its 1990s form, chiefly as talk radio) and the Washington Consensus crowd, then in its heyday and as embodied in Fred Hiatt's Washington Post editorial and op-ed pages "stable" of opinion writers and columnists. It's worth noting that the members of the print-side op-ed portion aren't that different today than they were back in the 1990s.*

*Hiatt joined the editorial board in 1996 and became editorial page editor in 2000 after Meg Greenfield died.

That's because if Fred Hiatt likes what you say, no matter the amount of bullshit or wankery, but with a specialty in neoliberal economics and/or neoconservative foreign policy, and you say it consistently, his columnist positions are lifetime tenured ones. But this is far too long a topic to delver into now, so I'll just drop it.

Suffice it to say, this is a limitless topic.

Before concluding this political-themed entry, I would like to note this new poll of Republican primary voters in New Hampshire that shows Donald Trump with 30% support -- triple his closest rival in that Alice-in-Wonderland field. The good news is that support for all the other GOP clown car candidates have (at least for now) collapsed including JEB!, and the "Deep Bench" looks like a side show as it tries -- and axiomatically fails -- to out-Trump Trump.

Hillary is having trouble in New Hampshire but is well ahead in other Democratic primary contests. If she loses New Hampshire, expect to hear how her campaign is "in free fall," "doomed," "imploding," "ending," etc., but that's all media circle-jerkery from the New York Times and network and cable news on down to the uglier corners of the rightwing business press and the Beltway pundit class. I'm not even mentioning the conservative entertainment complex of Fox News and talk radio.


A cloud-to-ground lightning bolt is caught with a Civil War cannon artillery piece on the Manassas Battlefield in the foreground around sunset, August 24, 2015.

This picture was taken by Jen Johnson and reposted from her twitter account to this CWG entry.


OK, as a very brief personal update ...

I have a dental appointment scheduled for tomorrow (later today) at 10:50AM for what I believe is a cavity.

I am suddenly in a possibly deeply uncertain job situation owing to a lack of work, and as much as I don't want to, if things don't change, I would have to begin looking for other employment as a lifeline if I am laid off. I really like this job, but the situation has to change so that I get busy (and useful) again.

I went to the gym tonight (second night in a row) and then came home, did a few loads of laundry, and made dinner.

For tomorrow, I'm just going to do a post-work happy hour or whatever it is.

My Jersey shore trip with Gary and LP but, unfortunately, not Wendy is just a few days away.

OK, that's all for now. I probably won't update the blog tomorrow night.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Four Blog Update Items: A Clarification, D.C. (and Hawaii) Rainfall Overview, Another New Dental Issue, and Belated DG Congratulations

Yours truly in St. Dominic Catholic Church, SW Washington, D.C., 1:44PM August 21, 2015.

It's amazing this church survived the construction of I-395, and it only did because of heavy intervention by Congress.

I was on a lunch break and walked over to the church before going to the Subway on School Street (which I rarely do) and sitting in the lobby of the building where I worked back in 2002 (at 400 Virginia Avenue SW). There is a lovely fountain in the lower lobby.


Fountain in the lobby of 400 Virginia Ave SW, Washington, D.C., 2:03PM August 21, 2015.

I worked in here for a time at the U.S. CLIVAR office, which was co-located with the old USGCRP. (Both then moved to 1717 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and I would walk to work.) I know that one shouldn't talk badly about past jobs, but that one (a two-man operation) was so badly ill-suited for me. I could probably make it work better now but still, it would be difficult.


I'm home tonight after a post-work gym workout that was OK, I guess, but nothing great. I got in the usual multiple parts (hour jog, hour light-to-moderate weightlifting, a bit of core stuff, and a brief swim). I came home and made dinner and now I'm trying to post this blog entry.

There are four main points I want to address in this entry ...

First, as a follow-up to the ending of my my previous post, namely, a general request to the Universe that it rain, well, I'm happy to say it was answered ...

Sterling (LWX) NWS radar in enhanced composite mode zoomed in on the D.C. area, 11:52PM EDT August 24, 2015


There were showers and thunderstorms that crossed the Baltimore/Washington region tonight associated with an August cold frontal passage that dropped more rainfall than I had hoped for in a number of places including the following amounts (based upon the hourly observations).

KDCA: 0.41"
KIAD: 0.10"
KBWI: 0.52"
KDMH: 1.04"

Here in the District, it rained heavily for perhaps 15 to 20 minutes, so about 1/4 to 1/2 inch fell.

It is still mostly cloudy right now as I write this, the radar shows there is a stray developing rain shower crossing from Arlington into Georgetown -- and, indeed, I just looked out the window from my 5th floor apartment and wanly illuminated in the soft darkness off to the west southwest is a large cloud bank that is likely dropping rainfall (no lightning).

High resolution surface weather map for a portion of the eastern U.S., 0Z (8PM EDT) Aug. 25 (24th), 2015.


And, whaddaya know, it's starting to rain outside. SCIENCE!

Indeed, it briefly was deluging outside (Dupont Circle and Shaw) for a bit as I wrote this entry. Looking at the (composite mode) radar, I think KDCA has missed out out on this, so the 0.41" will probably be its tally.

This rain is good and now the more pleasant weather to follow for the rest of the week can be better enjoyed.

Of weather note, this Monday featured quite a bit of rain across the Hawaiian Islands thanks to a deep plume of tropical moisture indirectly associated with two tropical disturbances in that general part of the Pacific ...

Hawaii radar mosaic at 1525UTC (5:25AM HST) yesterday, August 24, 2015.

Honolulu Int'l Airport (PHNL) has had 3.77 inches of rain since 6PM HST Aug. 23rd. The August average is only about 0.50" and this appears to be a new August monthly record. (Unlike parts of the Big Island or Kauai, Honolulu is surprisingly dry.)


Secondly, related to that previous post, I do need to clarify a two points. I've already made the corrections to the text, but it's probably better that I specifically mention them in this entry.

First, I meant to say "12th Street NE" not "12th Street NW" -- obviously, the former is in the Brookland section of D.C., not the latter. Secondly, I added to my description of Upshur Street in Mount Rainier, Md., to state the following:

Back then, Upshur Street in Mt. Rainier had these old-style mercury vapor lamps except for ONE hybrid mercury-and-sodium vapor lamp that created this pool of iridescent orange light that was partially engulfed by a leafy tree. And I once had a minor bike mishap, falling off the bike (except that was about a couple blocks to the east in Brentwood). A car went by and honked its horn. (I think it was Upshur Street. It could have been another alphabet one -- perhaps I'm remembering it wrong.)


Thirdly, I think I need to go to the dentist quickly. It has been a long time, anyway, but this particular issue involves a possible cavity in #4 #13. I may just go to the office tomorrow morning and see if I can make an appointment for this week.

What happens when you call is you are told by a confused person -- who may or may not be the receptionist -- that there are no available appointments until the end of time, whereupon you press her and suddenly, there are a lot of available appointments.

As you may know, Dear Reader, I am cursed with many dental woes.


Lastly, I have been remiss in not noting that my friend Damon's wife had a second child, a baby girl. They already have a young son. Congratulations to them. Damon's blog is here. He still is numbering the entries consecutively even though the original motivation for the blog -- and the whole "Crocodile DG" name -- was for a stint in Australia that ended at least three years ago.

I'm going to end this entry here since it is far too late for me to post the UMCP/College Park I took on Sunday in a dedicated entry.


Monday, August 24, 2015

The Mount RAIN-yer Upshur Street Lowered Expectation Downs -OR- Good Morning (and Good Night) from the Seat of Empire

The sidewalk along Queens Chapel Road as seen from 44th Avenue, University Park, Md., 4:44PM August 23, 2015.

University Park is such an awesome and beautiful little enclave in an unlikely location.


It's about 5AM right now -- and, mercifully, still dark in my wee air-conditioned, fan-whirled apartment lost somewhere in the wilds of Washington, D.C., a.k.a., the Seat of Empire, early 3rd millennium (please don't make me source that phrase right now).

I'm deep in can't-sleep-now thought over things including and especially Matthew H., although I don't know why. I am also remembering this bogus group blog that he and his Tidewater / Richmond area friends used to keep -- mocking and trolling me -- called "Lowering My Expectations."

I don't know if Shakepeare actually said this or it's some internet horseshit.

That blog doesn't exist anymore (as nears as I can tells) but the whole point was that I was a fat troll who should be looking for some 220 pound, smelly blob with no job and no life prospects, and in total agonizing misery.

Screw them. Oh, and I may be many things, but stupid is not one of them.

Now that was 40 pounds -- actually, more like 45 pounds if I count some muscle mass gain -- ago. I am in the best shape that I have ever been in for many years (and certainly the most muscular), except I AM 45 years old, not 25 years old, and that sort of makes a difference. That is, I'm an in-shape middle aged man, not a young man who can do whatever. Nevertheless, I have tried mightily and I don't need to be told to lower my expectations. Screw them.

But why did it all have to be such a disaster?

There is no answer. But I do know that the GOD of this reality is "yea, verily, well pleased."

The Memorial Chapel on the grounds of the University of Maryland, College Park, Md., 4:15PM August 23, 2015. I hate you, too.


I took a weird bike ride from College Park / UMCP (whence I took the Metro from Columbia Heights) back to D.C. I am glad I did it, but I won't be doing that route again for a long time. The route included "CHE" (College Heights Estates), University Park, Hyattsville, Brentwood, and Mount Rainier ("RAIN-yer" as the locals say, not "RAY-nyeer," as it should be said).

Looking west, Upshur Street, Mount Rainier, Md., 5:06PM August 23, 2015.

The deal with Upshur Street is complicated -- and doesn't all involve Matthew. (He lived about 4 miles west of there anyway on a different stretch of the street in D.C.) Rather, in my freaky late-stage College Park in 1999 and 2000, on occasion, for maybe a year and a half on weekend nights, I used to BIKE in the wee hours (after going out at JR's back then) from Brookland Metro (where I had a bike locker and would have to get via a cab or, later, when the its hours were extended on weekend nights (initially to 1AM and then to 3AM, by Metrorail) back to College Park.

Looking east, Upshur Street, Mount Rainer, Md., 5:08PM August 23, 2015.

Back then, Upshur Street in Mt. Rainier had these old-style mercury vapor lamps except for ONE hybrid mercury-and-sodium vapor lamp that created this pool of iridescent orange light that was partially engulfed by a leafy tree. And I once had a minor bike mishap, falling off the bike (except that was about a couple blocks to the east in Brentwood). A car went by and honked its horn. (I think it was Upshur Street. It could have been another alphabet one -- perhaps I'm remembering it wrong.)


The real Mount Rainier.


I must say that I was amazed at the fact that D.C. is fairly gentrified from Brookland (around 12th Street NE, where you start seeing gay men) and points southwestward, but I had a dicey experience around Otis and 18th Streets NE near the "Taft Recreation Center."

Mercifully, I smelled pot (as you often do these days in the District of Drive-By-Umbia), which meant all those young guys were "mellow" in that way and LESS LIKELY to kill me. Also, I was biking by -- this weird ashen gray leprechaun -- quite quickly.

Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Contraception Conception, Washington, D.C., 5:30PM August 23, 2015.


Oh, and I made it up that frickin' hill on Monroe Street between about 17th and 13th Streets NE (YOU try it sometime, especially on a hot day).

Bottom line: D.C. has changed enormously in many places, but it's still a bad-ass city in certain places. The Mayor is very happy.

I went to No. 9, and then next door to Stoney's (where I met Gary and Gloria*), and then over to Larry's Lounge. I got home safe and sound with all my possessions. Trouble is, I spent less today than I should have and I need to ask the Milwaukee Rabbi -- who was at LL -- if he covered my tab. Otherwise, I need to talk to Ron.

*I tried to get Gloria to join Gary, LP, and me on our Jersey shore trip this coming weekend.

I am rather upset that Miss Wendy can't come but, to quote Wall-P, a.k.a., Pitty Shil, "Eh. Eh. Eheheheheh. Is what it is. Dow up. Money made. Client call. Eheheheh."

Tomorrow night (sorry, I mean tonight) is a gym night.

I have two dozen pictures -- primarily taken on the UMCP campus of totally failed and crummy memory -- that I'll try to post in my next entry, although I can't promise that I will. As it is, I already posted five in this entry.

Ahh, shit, dawn is breaking. I need to go back to sleep. Good morning. And good night.

Please rain.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Four Degrees of Separation: My Failed UMCP Experience -OR- I Do Take These Paths

Aerial view of the Univ. of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) campus including McKeldin Mall in an undated photo.

With some exceptions, I am not identifying by caption the pictures in this entry. If you wish to see what they are, click on and download the pictures.


Well, I was going to post a longer entry except I honestly really don't have much to say.

Last night was interesting as far as it went: Going to College Park with Gary in a sort of reverse weekend night from the ones that he and I did so often back in the late 1990s when we would drive into D.C.

The campus was still on summer break so there weren't many people out (except at an inexplicably mobbed R.J. Bentleys, or at least there was the illusion of a mob with a long line outside). Gary and I went first to Terrapin's Turf ("TT") -- the old Santa Fe -- and then to the Cornerstone Grill & Loft (the old 'Vous, itself once the Rendezvous).

UMCP with its Memorial Chapel and campus grounds, 1:48PM February 27, 2011.

I was in that top cupola once. The view is astonishing -- you can see the entire D.C. area including the Washington Monument and Capitol Building and into the Northern Virginia suburbs (to include the whole Skyline towers complex on Leesburg Pike about 20 miles away).


Honestly, I have almost no good memories from my UMCP days. I carry four frickin' degrees from that University including three Masters degrees, the first of which was problematic (meteorology), the second of which was a total and utter waste (journalism), and only the third of which (public policy) has been helpful.

My four UMCP degrees arrayed on the floor of my tiny apartment with Harvey and Flippo checking them out, 1:01PM August 23, 2015.


My undergraduate degree was a sort of useless "physical science" B.S. -- half math and the remaining "half" consisting of physics and meteorology, though in truth I learned zero meteorology in those undergrad courses that I took.

I carry a massive and forever unpayable student loan debt now in excess of $270,000 and growing. It's growing because always in forbearances and will remain so until, if I figured this out correctly, mid-2017 when I am hopeful I can get into an expanded PAYE option.

Like most of the present-day "higher education" system in America, UMCP is just running a multi-trillion dollar taxpayer-financed racket for the sake of big banks with students as 19th Century-style indentured servants to an out-of-control late-stage corporate capitalist system that will by the mid-21st Century have simply reverted back to a "Back to the Future" version of feudalism and oligarchy. I won't be part of that system by then.

Without getting into all of that, let me just say that for as much as I regret most aspects of my D.C. life, my College Park life was even worse. True, I made three friends there -- from the meteorology gang, namely, Gary, Chester, and Mike G. -- but everything else there was a forgettable waste.

This is amazing given the literally tens of thousands of students I was around and exposed to between September 1992 (when I first arrived in chaotic fashion) and May 2009 (when I got my MPP degree). No, I wasn't there continuously that time but I certainly was there long enough to take 100+ courses. (It vaguely bothers me that I lived by all the fraternity houses for so many years and never even made a casual friendship with any "Greek guy.)

The above picture notwithstanding, the campus is not very pretty in terms of its layout and its buildings -- and in the past decade has undergone a veritable steroidal injection of frenzied new buildings, in particular the north-side of the campus along the vapid and deeply depressing Rt. 1 corridor to the north. The bottom line is that College Park is an ugly town with little to offer that is set in an even uglier broader context of inner Prince George's County on the northeast side of the D.C. area.

My MPP degree next to Testudo by the McKeldin Library, June 12, 2009.


Oh, and the corporatization of the whole college sports hydra with its biggest twin heads of men's basketball and men's football embodies much that is wrong with the scam of higher education these days. (I actually tutored briefly in the "sports department" and it was as ridiculous as you can image.)

On a personal note, the programs through which I passed had aspects of them that were good -- especially the public policy one -- but my experience on balance was the opposite of any "mentoring" and all the hyper-PC thought-police bullshit that characterizes the modern day American "academy" was there, although perhaps not in as Kafkaesque of a form as it now exists.

Yes, I had some good professors, but others were indifferent and some were truly dreadful through either complete and almost hateful disdain or (in the case of the old meteorology program, now called this), those professors whose goal was to make a complex but interesting topic as impossible and removed from my genuine understanding as possible. (The "service" offered was so bad that it actually amounts to a type of consumer fraud on its very own terms.)

These professors lived and breathed the tenure system that is slowly mostly disintegrating as universities become more overt corporate capitalist machines. This would be bad except the tenure system itself was such a racket.

The old meteorology department (now called the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science) in the pre-9/11 days was basically staffed only by Chinese graduate students who had zero knowledge of or interest in meteorology. It was glorified computer science / IT. After 9/11 and, as I understand it, a crackdown on TOEFL cheating, that little source of low-wage, high-intellect workers was shut off.

Anyway, I could go on for a while but do not want to.

My plan is to take a bike ride. I'm not sure where to go today but -- my above comments notwithstanding -- I was actually thinking of taking the bicycle on the Metro up to College Park and riding back on a certain route that goes through old Hyattsville, Mount Rainier (Upshur Street!), and into D.C. way up by Bunker Hill Rd.

Morrill Hall, UMCP, College Park, June 2, 2010. This is from a Wikipedia image.


If I do this bike ride, I will also stop at a few spots on the UMCP campus that I like: the "hilltop" by Morrill Hall (the oldest building on campus and from the top of which you can see the tip of the Washington Monument*) and the passageway under the main front steps of Francis Scott Key Hall where there is the big ventilation fan and some penciled graffiti from January 1969. (That graffiti involves at least two people, Bill and Julia, signing their names and saying something about vowing to "take these paths" -- it's almost illegible now; in fact, it might now be gone).)

*The 8-mile distant Washington Monument pokes above the tree-cloaked rise of University Park and College Height Estates where live some of the wealthier tenured professors.

OK, that's all for now. My next planned update will be late Monday / early Tuesday.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Jukebox Saturday Night for Aug. 22nd, 2015: The Catalina Kissing and Careless Whispering Edition

Let's get things off on a nice note ...

"Catalina Kiss" by Acoustic Alchemy from the group's Blue Chip release (1987)

I've featured four different songs by Acoustic Alchemy in my Jukebox Saturday Night and the earlier Friday Night Musical Interlude feature including "Angel of the South", "The Crossing", "Last Summer Song", and "The Panama Cat". (As of the posting of this entry, all four videos were still active.)

The long-time group Acoustic Alchemy seldom disappoints.


"Careless Whisper" by Wham! from the duo's Make It Big album (1984)

I remember being somewhat perturbed by this song back when it came out in 1984 -- as opposed one of the other big hits on this trans-Atlantic chart-topping album, namely "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" -- because of the lyrics even more so the video.

Not sure why.

"Careless Whisper" video screenshot: George Michael, then just 21 years old.


Maybe it was George Michael himself -- at the time so young (well, not necessarily to a 14 year old) and wearing earrings like that suggestive of being gay -- while pretending in the video to be this rich straight playboy of a guy living a high life in Miami who is caught banging a pretty chick not his girlfriend when the girlfriend walks in on them -- back when I was just a weird, deeply neurotic, closeted gay teenager living in Glen Burnie, Md.

"Careless Whisper" video screenshot: Girlfriend catching George Michael in the act with another woman.

Yeah, right.


"Careless Whisper" video screenshot: George Michael on the top floor of Miami's Grove Towers.

Grove Towers still exist. Care to buy a condo there?

Oh, and Andrew Ridgeley, the other half of Wham! really doesn't appear in the video.


And let's end with something upbeat in a way that only Katy Perry can do ...

"Hot N Cold" by Katy Perry from her One of the Boys release (2008)

It's a vintage Katy Perry video spectacle.


OK, that's all for now. I'm in a bit of a hurry as Gary and I are going to do something a bit unusual this Saturday night and go up to College Park for a bit -- probably to the Cornerstone Grill. It's kind of a reverse Saturday night trip of the sort into D.C. that we did in the late 1990s when we lived in College Park (actually, he lived in Berwyn Height) and we would drive into D.C.

At least that's the plan -- always subject to change.

I had a very good gym workout this afternoon, so I feel happy about that.

I intend to post a short entry tomorrow early afternoon. Oh, yes, I should also mention that next weekend I will be away at the Jersey shore, so no jukebox Saturday night feature. However, I might try to post an old school Friday Night Musical Interlude in its place since I leave Saturday late morning.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Thunder Grill Pictures; Local Weather & Global Climate Warming Update; and Total Solar Eclipses Past & Future -OR- Is It All So In Vain?

Yours truly, Richard Todaro, and my mom, Thunder Grill, Union Station, Washington, D.C., 1:48PM August 19, 2015.


This entry includes the Thunder Grill lunch pictures from Wednesday that I wanted to post among other images. Here is another one similar to the above one (slightly different pose):

Again, yours truly, Richard Todaro, and my mom, Thunder Grill, Union Station, Washington, D.C., 1:48PM August 19, 2015.
My mom smiles more in photographs these days. Gone is that refugee-who-just-barely-escaped-Nazi-occupied-Poland (but some of the family didn't) look.


I'm home on this Friday night, although I'll go out later to one or more of my usual places. I made dinner, and it actually came out well: A boneless rib eye steak (I was sort of craving a steak), slightly runny mashed potatoes (right combo of milk, butter, and flakes -- no, not that kind of flakes), and steamed broccoli and carrots (with the broccoli fresh enough so that cooking it didn't stink up the apartment as happened the other night).

I would love to be a vegetarian but I'm just not.

The bar at Thunder Grill, Union Station, Washington, D.C., 12:36PM August 19, 2015.


It's a pleasant enough evening as far as that goes -- temps. around 77F and the dew point about 56F so that the night should be sorta OK.

However, the weather -- as I wrote in my previous -- is going to the kind I really dislike: Wall-to-wall sunshine, too warm (mid-to-high 80s Fahrenheit), and basically zero chance of rain for 7 to 10 days. Furthermore, the lack of higher humidity -- with dew points in the 50s Fahrenheit -- represents no favor since it just makes the intense light and heat of the Sun at these temperatures all the more annoying. (Oh, and the LWX area forecast discussion earlier today used the weird and annoying phrase about a lack the next few days of "quality moisture" several times. Is that the new buzz term??)

True, at night it is more pleasant without the humidity. However, my solution is just to stay in an air conditioned space.

A summer evening that is more to my liking (provided it's not as warm and humid as a rainforest).


It is also true that I am hoping for (mostly) sunny, summery warm, and humid weather for my upcoming annual Jersey shore visit, but in the meantime, apparently being stuck for life here in D.C., it's just profoundly annoying and bothersome. It's just too damn bright, warm, and sunny.

I'm still annoyed at how screwed we were out of frickin' rain yesterday and now it's going to be wall-to-wall sunshine for, maybe, weeks. Oh, yes, CWG had another entry featuring some of the lovely cloud images from sunset yesterday as the t-storms mostly missed the D.C. area but created dramatic sky vistas.

Land - ocean temperature departures versus 1981 - 2010 base period for July 2015.


By the way, NOAA reports that July 2015 was the warmest July (and thus the warmest month of any month) on record since records have been kept. Here is the Capital Weather Gang entry on it (link embedded): July was the hottest month in Earth’s hottest year on record so far.

The story got picked up by a number of news media outlets. The AP story I read actually did NOT reflectively fall back on the usual (and, as ever, I'm channeling Paul Krugman) "views differ on shape of planet" false equivalency balance masquerading as journalistic objectivity to discuss a fact as self-evident as anthropogenic climate change (i.e., global warming.

July 2015 global average temperature versus the 20th Century average for all Julys between 1900 and 2015.


Here is the actual NOAA report: Summary and Global Analysis.

This NOAA State of the Climate website should be required reading, if not for the Fox & Friends viewing set then at least you, Dear Reader.

The NOAA summary also explains that the first seven months of 2015 have been the warmest on record. Many climate scientists expect 2015 to be the warmest year on record thanks to a climate change and the major warm ENSO event underway.

Land - ocean temperature percentiles for July 2015 versus the full 136-year record stretching back to 1880.

To be clear, I think these are percentiles for the full 136-year period. It gets a bit tricky because NOAA uses the current 1981 - 2010 base period and the 20th Century average as well as the full 136-year period depending on what is being shown.

Oh, and the colder-than-normal spot southeast of Greenland in the North Atlantic Ocean has been a persistent, intriguing feature that might be linked to a negative AO/NAO or even the melting of Greenland itself pumping fresh, cold water into the Gulf Stream.

Maybe its a new Younger Dryas getting going ...


Yes, Tea Birthers, we know that Antarctic sea ice coverage was near an austral winter high, but this is probably associated with overall warming.

OK, enough of that.

Another view of Thunder Grill at Union Station, Washington, D.C., 12:28PM August 19, 2015.


As for my weekend, I cannot spend too much money because I need to have enough for the 4+ days in Wildwood Crest / Wildwood / Cape May, and because next pay period looks to be a difficult one because I have to pay my rent, too.

For tonight, I guess I'll go to Larry's Lounge. As it is, I need to give Gary a check for $400 representing all but $100 of my part of the shore trip. Then I'll go perhaps to No. 9. (Oh, yes, my steak dinner I described above cost "just" $19.38 at the Safeway including some other groceries.)

One last picture of the main level of Thunder Grill at Union Station, Washington, D.C., 12:36PM August 19, 2015.

I was waiting for my mom and Ray to arrive.


For tomorrow during the day, it's a gym visit. Of note, I had a good gym workout last night including 6.5 mile jog, weightlifting, and swim. Tomorrow night, I'll try to post my usual jukebox Saturday night entry (I have several songs I'd like to feature). Finally, on Sunday, I'm going to try to take my first bike ride since before I hurt my right wrist (or rather, ulna).

The Center Cafe Union Station main hall, Washington, D.C., 12:25PM August 19, 2015.


I've been reluctant to ride that old piece of junk bike because it is such a piece of junk, and I was worried any (ready made) issue with it (such as bollixed up gears) could make it difficult for me to ride and have exacerbated whatever internal bruise there was (and that now seems to have fully healed). Maybe I'll do a W&OD ride from the end of the Silver Line. I'll see.

Total Solar Eclipses, Past and Upcoming ...

The diamond ring effect of the total solar eclipse near Cairns, Australia on Nov. 14, 2012.


One last item, not only is today my good friend DD's birthday, but it is just two years to the day until the great total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. I fully and totally intend to see that eclipse -- with Gary and DD and perhaps others -- on the coast of South Carolina in the path of totality.

Path August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse. Image by Fred Espenak, the Ur-Daddy of eclipsology.


While I've already seen an eclipse -- in particular, this one on February 26, 1998 on the island of Guadeloupe in the French West Indies, and what an intense experience it was -- the August 21, 2017 eclipse is the one for which I've quite literally been waiting since that long ago day in 1979 when -- as a 9-year old living with my paternal grandparents and dad* in Long Branch, New Jersey, I was lying on my makeshift bed* and reading a National Geographic magazine that I received in the mail every month.

*My mom and Ray were in Belgium where he was stationed at SHAPE.

**I slept on a mattress on the floor that I shared (for years) with my father. Yes, I know that sounds odd. (Today, I don't even have a mattress, just quilts, blankets, and pillows. And stuffed animals.)

Path of the total solar eclipse of Feb. 26, 1998. Image by Fred Espenak.


On that long ago day in 1979, I was reading an article about the total solar eclipse of February 26, 1979 that had recently happened, and I came across a sentence in the article stating that the next total solar eclipse in the Lower 48 would not be until the year 2017. I remember figured out that my age would be 47 in 2017, a number I could not conceive of.

Path of the total solar eclipse of Feb. 26, 1979. Image by Fred Espenak.


That was such an impossibly far away date -- August 21, 2017 -- to a 9 year old, and yet it has always stayed with me as this very distant mile marker that now just 2 years away. I'm not sure how I'm going to feel when it actually arrives.

One last item about the 2017 eclipse: It will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the Southeastern U.S. since the total solar eclipse of March 7, 1970. I was a 3-1/2 month old baby and being cared for that day by my grandparents in Long Branch, N.J., while my mom and dad -- then actually still married -- went to see that total solar eclipse somewhere on or near Wallops Island, Virginia.

Path of the total solar eclipse of March 7, 1970. Image by Fred Espenak.


To be clear, the path of totality just missed New Jersey, as well as the District of Columbia.*

*D.C. itself will not have a total solar eclipse for many centuries -- possibly a millennia or more (assuming it even exists then). I've checked Fred Espenak's solar eclipse catalogue and I cannot find anything. The nearest one -- which misses the District proper by just a few miles (crossing suburban Maryland), although Baltimore is in the path of totality is on April 14, 2200:

Path of total solar eclipse of April 14, 2200 along with Saros cycle. Image from Fred Espenak's Five Millennium Catalog of Solar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000. He has a lunar eclipse one, too.

Such a strange thought: An eclipse right here in the D.C. area but 205 years from now in what will be a totally different world, and I and every human alive on this planet right now will be long dead and mostly forgotten -- even a newborn today who lives to be a super-centenarian will have been dead for about 75 years.


As for the 1970 one, my mom remembers my dad driving down from New Jersey and around the Delmarva near Assateague like a lunatic to get into the path of totality, which they did just in time.

That eclipse with its highly elongated north-south path MIGHT -- just HAS to -- be the one Carly Simon is referencing as taking place in Nova Scotia to which the unidentified vain person is flying in his Learjet to see in her wonderful song "You're So Vain."

So let's end with that song (you can pick out the relevant part):


OK, that's all for now. My next planned update will be tomorrow evening.