Monday, November 30, 2015

A Hippopotamostus Ending to November and a Warm, Possibly Buffalo-Snow Free December

A ginormous hippo!

I (heart) hippos, especially Flippo and the rest of the plush pod -- bloat -- on my bed, such as it is, under the blankets and quilts.

This is a scanned image of a wonderful birthday card from Andrea and Imara.


It is a drizzly, damp, chilly night with temps. around 45F and nearly saturated air (100 percent relative humidity) even here in the District. If anything, the temps. will tend to trend up a bit tonight. A decent amount of rain is forecasted for tomorrow into tomorrow night (1/2" to 1") for the Baltimore / Washington region.

I should note that the long-term forecast -- covering the first two weeks of December -- is for way above normal temps over much of the northern tier of the eastern half of the U.S. without the slightest hint of winter, a fact that endlessly thrills and delights all the D.C. area suburban bourgeoisie that frequent the comment section of the WaHoPo's Capital Weather Gang site. It is online territory that is (happily) profoundly hostile to any trolls, but it is also mind-numbingly bourgeois in its sensibilities about what constitutes good weather).

I post there as Arcturus24 and clearly have no fan base, but I'm not trying for that.

NWS Climate Prediction Center (CPC) days 8 - 14 temperature outlook for the United States compared to climatology for the period Dec. 7 - 13, 2015.

Of note, the Dec. 8 - 14, 2015 forecast map is already out but it's basically the same thing. The major warm ENSO is strongly affecting the jet stream pattern and the AO/NAO is of no help this year so far.


Let me just say this:

If it is this ridiculously above normal around Christmas with nary a flake of snow even in Buffalo, I may just cancel going there -- although I will still owe Gary the $540. I'm not going to do that two years in a row -- being mocked, as it were, by the weather gods or, alternatively, God Demiurge. Or just frickin' random chance (that's Wall-P's god, along with money and power, but let's not get into that now).

This is map showing image 500-mb geopotential heights and anomalies for North America for the first two weeks of December 2015.

The forecast comes from whatever model or model ensemble was used to create it but the prettied up image is from and posted in the above-linked CWG entry. As I read this map, the anomalies are shaded although not specifically numerically denoted.


OK, that's all for now. I'm going to try to post another entry tonight but whatever I compose has to be short because I need to go to bed no later than 130AM as I have to be in work by 930AM tomorrow and thus cannot blog until 215AM and fall asleep just before 3AM. I also need to make dinner in the meantime -- as I just got back from the gym tonight.

Thus, it's possible I won't post another entry tonight. Tomorrow not is a non-gym night, so I'm not sure if I'll have a chance to post then. (I STILL intend to post the Annapolis and Pittsburgh images!)

Having said that, I am going to update this entry tomorrow, though, with the precipitation tallies and departures for November, the fall season-to-date, and year-to-date for the four usual suspect regional climate stations.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Mongolian Stir Fry -OR- "I Feel For You / I Think I Love You / Let Me Rock You Genghis Khan"

A sweeping vista of steppe land and snow-capped mountains with a river snaking through it somewhere in Mongolia.

The picture's color looks enhanced, but I don't know.


This is just a quick entry as I would like to take a walk this afternoon for maybe two hours. I'm also supposed to meet Andrea at Commissary around quarter to five.

It is an overcast, drizzly, cool day with temps around 48F here in D.C. Rainfall amounts were light in the immediate D.C. area with KDCA recording only 0.17" but the other regional climate stations had more: KBWI recorded 0.32", KIAD received 0.26", and KDMH checked in with 0.43".

Another weather system is forecasted to move into the region by tomorrow night with rain for Monday night through early Wednesday morning. The NWS QPF map has the Baltimore/Washington area in a 1" to 1.25" range. Parts of eastern Tennessee are in a 2 to 5 inch range with a bull's eye maximum of 6.41" near Chattanooga.

NWS 3-day QPF map valid 0Z - 11/30/2015 - 0Z 12/03/2015.


Last night, I met LP at Maxime in Georgetown -- I walked there -- and we had a nice dinner at the bar. The bartender (T.) is a young man from Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar or, if you prefer, Ulan Bator) who went to high school in a city in China (he said that is common for Mongolians to do that) and is in graduate school here in D.C. He speaks fluent English basically with an American accent rather than the more typical British accent for non-native speakers.

The Ukok Plateau near the far western Mongolian - Russian border.


When I was a very young, I was so intrigued by Mongolia. I recall being at my babysitter Mrs. Hill's house on Spruce Avenue in Wanamassa, New Jersey, and she had an old globe that I would often stare at for minutes. Mongolia was this strange "small" country tucked between the behemoths of the then-Soviet Union (USSR) and China. I forgot the color scheme but I think the USSR was a sort of salmon-red.

For some reason, I had an idea that Mongolia and New Jersey were the same size. Not sure why I thought that. This was around 1973-74.

T. showed us a 2-minute video of Mongolia that a friend of his made that could easily be a tourism ad shown in the United States. Parts of it were greener than I thought. I guess I thought the whole thing was the Gobi Desert.

Something like this.


T. was particularly proud of the ginormous Genghis Khan equestrian statue that was erected about six years ago:


Of note, Ulaanbaatar actually has a skyline:

Ulaanbaatar skyline in August 2013.

This is from this August 2013 article in the New York Times. The city has economically benefited greatly from the country's copper, gold, and coal mining.

The large, weird-looking building is called the Blue Sky Tower and it is 344 feet tall (the tallest in Mongolia), or so says the Keeper of All Knowledge. It is a mixed use building with hotel, and it has this website (this is the English version) with some cool opening music.


Oh, and speaking of Mongolia and the Gobi Desert, there is that awesome opening scene in my all-time favoritest movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind:

The Cotopaxi sequence.

Yes, there was an actual ship of that name that was lost at sea.


Anyway, thereafter we went to the usual spot: Larry's Lounge ... However, even that part was fun and then I got home (LP drove the short way) just before 3AM.

Driving along P St from Georgetown into Dupont Circle on a drizzly night, Washington, D.C., 12:13AM Nov. 29, 2015.


OK, I'm going to cut this entry short since I do want to get out of the apartment while it is still daylight.

My work / gym / life schedule is such that I might not post another entry until Tuesday -- and I'm bound-and-determined to post both the Annapolis and the Pittsburgh pictures in upcoming entries.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jukebox Saturday Night for Nov. 28th, 2015: The Still Giving Thanks in 2015 Edition

Let's start with something really nice ...

"Southern Voice" by Kool & Klean from his Kool & Klean Volume 1 release (2010)

You never can go wrong with a Kool & Klean piece. Kool & Klean is the moniker of contemporary jazz saxophonist Konstantin Klashtorni.

Of course, the women featured on his album covers always resemble the posted image of Russian or Ukrainian brides-available-via-the-internet website that results in your computer and bank account ... oh, never mind ... let's keep this entry upbeat.


"I'm Stone in Love With You" by The Stylistics from their album Round 2 (1972)

It's a lovely song made so distinctive by the falsetto singing voice of then-lead singer Russell Allen Thompkins, Jr. While he is no longer the lead singer, he is still active as a singer with his own group called Russell Thompkins, Jr. and the New Stylistics.

As for the word "stone," that's a bit distracting given its usual meaning, but whatever. The song also has some interesting lyrics.


Now let's end with something really Saturday night upbeat -- both as a song and accompanying video ...

"Stand By You" by Rachel Platten from her upcoming debut release Wildfire (2016*)

*I don't have a year for the release since it has not been released yet (although, obviously, this song has). The year for Wildfire is probably going to be 2016.

At first I thought this was a Christian rock song. Oh, and yes, I learned of this song by watching her perform it during a snippet of the Macy's Day Thanksgiving Parade and Al Roker Intricately-Interconnected NBC Infomercial that I happened to catch.


OK, that's all for now. See previous entry for Saturday night update.


Saturday Evening Post for Nov. 28th, 2015: The Rebellion Without a Cause Update

**This entry was posted November 28, 2015.**

A picture of my friend Chris's dog Finn in suburban Atlanta taken on or about Nov. 21, 2015.

I have featured pictures of Finn in this entry.

Speaking of pictures, I have a paucity of them for this entry and do not have the time to find additional ones.


Saturday night update.

I'm home now after a rather good, multi-part gym workout that hopefully made up for the missed day this past week. I was there for 3-1/2 hours and did my jog (I got up to 6.87 miles in 66 minutes on the treadmill that included gradual 6-minute cool down), weight-lifting, a core workout, a brief steam room stint, and a swim.

I met Fred there toward the end of the gym visit -- in the steam room and then the swimming pool.

Of note, there was almost NO music played the entire time (the opposite of how it usually is), so it was actually TOO quiet there at the YMCA Anthony Bowen.

I'm home now but supposed to go out for a belated birthday dinner courtesy LP at Maxime in Georgetown. However, I've not heard from him all day, so I don't know what's up right now. The plan was to go around 9PM.

Finn resting on a small rug, suburban Atlanta, Ga., late November 2015.


Last night was kind of a mess, although nothing bad happened. Following my afternoon in Annapolis with Ray and my mom (I have a related batch of pictures I intend to post), I caught a MARC train from Odenton and was quickly back in D.C. I came home, worked on and balanced my finances (I have almost daily Excel spreadsheets going back several years), and then headed out to meet Fred at No. 9.

We had a few drinks there and then went to Floriana, where I had two Manhattans (probably not the best idea since dark liquors do not agree with me). Dave J. showed up and the three of us talked. Dito was working and it was a fun time with the usual vigorous political conversation.

There were two guys including one who was seated -- a really attractive young man probably about 26 who turned out when he stood up to be 6'4" (that wasn't obvious when he was seated). I was marveling at his intricate skeleton tattoos on his forearms.

He is from San Diego and I recall talking about the freak rainstorm there last summer (during its gay pride event) and how if you increase the SSTs of the eastern Pacific over a large enough area, those kinds of things can happen in the summer time.

He gave me a card and I do intend to email him.

Speaking of Floriana, I intend to take my mom there for dinner on her upcoming overnight visit to D.C. in December. She is coming on a Friday night and going to stay in this little boutique hotel along 16th Street. (She might actually even see for the first time ever where I live -- my dusty broom closet-like efficiency with a bed on the floor and precious little else.)

The bar at Rebellion, Washington, D.C., 12:34AM November 28, 2015.


Thereafter, I made the mistake of walking toward Larry's Lounge -- again, always a bad idea -- with Dave. (Fred went home at that point.) Instead of LL, I went into Rebellion for one drink where the lead image of this entry was taken. I only stayed a few minutes and then walked home to go to bed. I was in a bad mood at that point. I really need to stop doing that "one last drink" that always sours the night.

I'm an idiot. I should just do prescription drugs. They're less messy and you just sleep mostly.

There is also a bit more involving why I stopped at Rebellion, but I'm not going to get into that on this blog. Suffice it to say, it involves another person's situation.

Weather Update ...

It's a very mild, mostly cloudy one here in the District of PotSmokingUmbia, I mean, Columbia. The 7PM air temp at KDCA is 61F with a dew point of 52F and a light northerly wind (indicating a frontal boundary (discussed below) has quietly cross the D.C. area). There is spotty light rain and drizzle.

NWS high-resolution surface weather map for a portion of the United States at 2100Z (4PM EST) November 28, 2015.


A slow-moving frontal system extending back into the Ohio River valley and lower Mississippi River valley is sagging southward across the mid-Atlantic. As the upper level system moves toward the Eastern Seaboard and a disturbance approaches, there should be some light to moderate rain across the Baltimore/Washington corridor tomorrow although QPFs are only 0.25".

Great Lakes Sector NWS composite radar mosaic loop from 2338UTC Nov. 27, 2015 to 0048UTC Nov. 28, 2015 (6:38PM EST to 7:48PM EST Nov. 27, 2015).


This frontal boundary is forecasted to stall just south of the region tonight and slowly push back northward as a high pressure over Quebec shifts eastward. There is light and showery rain in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday as well.

I hope so. Rain is good.

As for winter, well, it's pretty much absent right now across the Lower 48 with no sign of a pattern change.

OK, that's all for now. My jukebox Saturday night entry is to follow almost immediately as I already composed it. I might post an entry tomorrow with my Annapolis pictures. I still need to post the Pittsburgh pictures as well.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

November 26, 2015: Thanksgiving Day and 46th Birthday - Overview and Photo Recap

My mom and Ray at the American Legion Post 175, Severna Park, Md., Thanksgiving, 3:06PM Nov. 26, 2015.


Blog Editor's Notes:

(1) This entry contains the cellphone images that I took today on Thanksgiving -- also my birthday -- while in Anne Arundel County with my mom and stepfather (Ray). It also includes two that Ray took and few weather images -- NWS advisory map and a regional radar mosaic -- from several hours ago as I started this entry around 5PM but got distracted a number of times.

(2) Keep in mind this entry -- like all my entries -- meant to be viewed on a regular computer and formatted primarily for Internet Explorer (secondarily, on occasion, for Chrome).

"Toothless" the dragon float in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City as seen in a photo of the TV as it was being shown on WBAL Channel 11, 11:11AM November 26, 2015.

"Toothless" is from the How to Train Your Dragon animated movie franchise.

As for the parade, or at least the parts I saw, it was colorful, musical, festive, and interesting -- and also one non-stop, intricately interconnected infomercial for which Al Roker was proud to do his part.


Thanksgiving and my 46th birthday have collectively come and are quickly going.

The giant ellipsoidal blue water tower along East West Blvd., Severna Park, Md. 1:50PM November 26, 2015.

I have previously featured pictures of this "spaceship" blue water tower on my blog including this Thanksgiving day-related post from 2013 and Christmas 2011.

Note how the weather conditions are always the same on Thanksgiving and Christmas in our area -- tranquil, mild, and blah.


I'm back in my mom and Ray's place in the Rolpark trailer community in the back (or rather, front) room at the computer. We went to the Thanksgiving dinner in the downstairs all-purpose room at the American Legion Post #175 in Severna Park and sat for a little bit afterward at the upstairs bar. Oh, and we had the same bartender as last year.

Another view of the "blue spaceship" water tower along East West Blvd., Severna Park, Md., 1:50PM Nov. 26, 2015.

There are quite a few water towers that dot the suburban Maryland worldscape, in particular, in the Baltimore area. There are fewer in the D.C. Maryland suburbs.

I attribute that to the fact that the Metro D.C. area gets its water from a major river -- the Potomac -- that is effectively inexhaustible, along with the smaller Patuxent River (and the Triadelphia Reservoir on it) while the Baltimore area relies on two main interconnected reservoirs -- Prettyboy and Loch Raven -- and, on rare occasions as necessary, the Susquehanna River (or so I recall reading that somewhere -- I could be mistaken). This means (if I'm correct) that the Baltimore area has to hold more water in storage, hence the greater number of water towers).


Updated 11:35PM 12/2/2015: Oh, yes, I totally forgot to mention Liberty Reservoir -- the other biggie reservoir that supplies Baltimore and environs. End of update.


I intend to head back to D.C. tomorrow late afternoon or early evening on a MARC train (or, failing that, an Amtrak), although the plan also includes going to Annapolis late tomorrow morning / early afternoon with my mom. We'll walk around a bit and get lunch.

Obviously, I'm taking the day off from work tomorrow. 

Joe's Seafood and adjoining structures along Ritchie Highway, Severna Park, Md., 1:57PM November 26, 2015.

Joe's Seafood has been there, like, forever. I recall it back in the 1980s. Having said that, I've never actually been there.


The weather was sunny and unseasonably mild today with highs in the lower 60s Fahrenheit including 63F at KBWI (presently, the nearest of the four main regional climate stations to me) and at KIAD, 64F at KDCA, and 62F at KDMH (Maryland Science Center).

Java Divas pink coffee truck, Severna Park, Md., 2:01PM November 26, 2015.

This truck has been parked in that spot seemingly forever -- I can't recall when I first saw it, but I recall it having been there years ago. It never seems to move. There is a picture of it in the same Thanksgiving 2013 recap entry.


Tomorrow is forecasted to be even warmer and still sunny with high temps around 65F, perhaps a bit higher, although there might be some fog east of the Blue Ridge along the I-95 corridor due to the light southeasterly flow.

American Legion Post 175 exterior sign, Severna Park, Md., 2:02PM November 26, 2015.

American Legion Post 175 is located off Ritchie Highway along Manhattan Beach Road. My mom is a member there while Ray is a member at the American Legion Post 276 in Severn, Md. They go to both of them on occasion, usually for dinners.


The pattern is really just stuck in a warm and dull one, although a large-scale weather system is organizing in the Great Plains / central U.S. with numerous flash flood watches in effect across parts of Missouri, Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma, and northeastern Texas. These advisories give way to ice storm warnings and winter storm warnings across the Texas panhandle, central and western Oklahoma, New Mexico, and parts of Kansas. There are also widespread winter weather advisories in effect.  

The NWS weather advisories for the United States valid 2205UTC (5:05PM EST) November 26, 2015.

This does not include any legend.


This system is forecasted to bring a few day period of showers / light rain chances starting Sunday, although it will be weakening by the time it reaches the eastern U.S. as the overall positive height anomalies continue. It is very much the start of a major warm ENSO winter -- even if a "Modoki event" type.

Southeastern U.S. radar mosaic loop from 2008 to 2118UTC (3:08PM to 4:18PM EST) November 26, 2015.


There is a strong onshore flow along the Southeastern U.S. coast to the south of a sprawling 1052-mb high pressure centered about 100 miles south of St. Johns, Newfoundland and ridging over 1,000 miles to the south-southwest down the U.S. Eastern Seaboard. As the above regional mosaic composite radar loop from late this afternoon shows, this is bringing numerous scattered showers from near Cape Hatteras all the way down the coast to near Cape Canaveral. This includes where my crazy dad lives in Flagler County, Fla.

American Legion Post 175, Severna Park, Md., 2:02PM November 26, 2015.


There is absolutely no Arctic onslaught of any sort in the offing and snow is highly unlikely for the next few weeks at least. If Gary and I do indeed go to Buffalo again for a Christmas time visit (Dec. 25 - 29), it could very well be the second year in a row of no snow -- something that hasn't happened in many years, which makes it all the more likely that it will happen on my stint there.

If that does happen, I'm unlikely to try for a third year in a row.

The main level bar at American Legion Post 175, Severna Park, Md., 2:05PM November 26, 2015.

That as my mom signing us in (as she is the member). Thanksgiving dinner was $8 this year, up a dollar from last year. The bar drinks are still very inexpensive.


As noted, today is my 46th birthday. I had birthday greetings from some of my friends -- Gary, DD, Andrea, and LP. In LP's case, he left me a voice mail (rather than a text) that included listing out the birthdays of some famous people on Nov. 26th.

Thanksgiving dinner in the all-purpose downstairs room, American Legion Post 175, Severna Park, Md., 3:05PM November 26, 2015.


That roster includes the great Tina Turner, the late crooner Robert Goulet, comedian Rich Little, actor Daniel Davis, Seventh Adventist Church founder Ellen G. White, air conditioner inventor Willis Carrier, the late puppeteer Wayland Flowers, and legendary reporter Eric Sevareid, just to name some Americans to say nothing of other folks in other countries at other times. (LP didn't list all those.)

Back at the main level bar at American Legion Post 175, Severna Park, Md., 3:05PM November 26, 2015.


I'm omitting a part about my father that soured the night. I'm extremely upset with him at what I perceive to be vindictive and purposeful mind games he is playing in trying to reach me -- or else, he's just frickin' nuts, which isn't much better.

I am considering cutting off contact with him. I think it is reaching that point. I'll explain more in a subsequent entry.

Yours truly, Richard Todaro, with my mom, American Legion Post 175, Severna Park, Md., about 330PM, November 26, 2015.


Instead of that, I'll relate that I chatted with my mom about my friend Dave J. even while having a vigorous text exchange with him.

I really need to go to the gym -- and intend to do so on Saturday and thereafter get back into my Mon-Wed-Sat or Tue-Thu-Sat routine.

My mom and Ray, American Legion Post 175, Severna Park, Md., about 330PM, November 26, 2015.


The rest of the entry just contains pictures that I took today and additional random commentary.

2 Evergreen Rd, Severna Park, Md., 3:58PM Nov. 26, 2015.

I am posting this picture and the one directly below -- of 4 Evergreen Road -- because my mom worked for the law firm that is housed now at 2 Evergreen Road but for many years (decades) was housed at 4 Evergreen Road. She worked for that law firm from June 28, 1984 to January 18, 2015 with all but the last two years at the 4 Evergreen Road address. I was 14 when she started there and in 8th grade, living with her and Ray in Glen Burnie.

Yes, this little law firm moved exactly one suburban building structure over.


4 Evergreen Rd, Severna Park, Md., 3:58PM Nov. 26, 2015.

This is the building -- a veterinary clinic -- where my mom worked for about 28 of the 30-1/2 years at that law firm. I'm not going to go into any more details (though I'd love to) except to say I am glad she is retired and rid of that place.

I once calculated how much the world's human population had changed in those 30 years and 6 months. Let's just use the general ballpark figures of 130 million births and 52 million deaths (assume it is constant in that time period -- which probably is not the case, but whatever). Start with a 1984 world population of 4.78 billion.

This means that 130,000,000 births/year x 30.5 years = 3.97 billion births and 52,000,000 deaths/year x 30.5 years = 1.59 billion deaths.

4.78 billion + 3.97 billion = 8.75 billion minus 1.59 billion = 7.16 billion.

The world's population is estimated by the UN as of mid-2015 at about 7.35 billion, so that's fairly close for these purposes. Also, note the absolute shift in the number of people alive now that versus then: 1.59 billion (alive then, dead now) + 3.97 billion (not born then, alive now) = 5.56 billion.

The absolute shift is larger than were the total number of people alive in 1984.


Houses along Benfield Rd, Severna Park, Md., 4:04PM November 26, 2015.


Sunset at Rolpark, Millersville, Md., 4:25 Nov. 26, 2015.


This is a ceramic baby that my late cousin Betty Lu made for my mom and that she has had as far back into my early childhood as I can recall.

Betty Lu was my paternal grandmother's older sister's daughter (one of two, both of whom have passed away). She lived in New Jersey. She made this for my mom when she was married to my dad. The little plate contains info on when I was born (date, weight, and length).


I am actually completing this entry around 12:30AM. I started it hours ago (around 5PM). The timestamp on it will show Nov. 26th because I did a quick initial posting around 1145PM and then reverted it to draft.  

The others are asleep. It is very peaceful and cozy here again in the little trailer in this little carpeted, lamp-lit room. (I'm again sleeping on the floor with a bunch of blankets and pillows.) I can occasionally hear muffled rumbling -- jets taking off or landing a few miles away at BWI Airport. I have a fan here that I'll turn on it a bit.

A close-up of aforementioned ceramic sculpture.


OK that's all for now. I am probably going to skip an entry tomorrow (Nov. 27th) and instead won't post another one until Saturday evening (after the gym). The Pittsburgh pictures will have to wait a couple more days.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Monkey of Mons, Bats in the Belfry, and Getting Back Into SHAPE -OR- On Again Giving Birthday Thanks in Suburban Maryland

The Monkey of Mons, Belgium.

See below for explanation.


So here I am in Millersville somewhere in suburban Maryland (Anne Arundel County) at my mom and Ray's place for Thanksgiving (also coincidentally by birthday) and part of Friday. (I really don't like having a birthday that is always subsumed into the Thanksgiving holiday -- even when it isn't specifically on Thanksgiving, though this year it is.)

For starters, I'm a bit annoyed that I failed to go to the gym last night because my next planned visit won't be until Saturday, owing to the holiday visit here. I was going to go to the gym last night but my Monday night workout was quite good and I was sure that anything I did would be mediocre.

This was taken upstairs at Local 16, Washington, D.C., 10:23PM November 24, 2015.


Alas, instead of a mediocre workout, I had a night of way-too-much drinking excess that included stops at Commissary, No. 9, Local 16 (where I met Dave J.), and then, yes, Larry's Lounge where things just sort of descended into a haze. I do recall Gary driving me the short distance home. (A lot of my going out stories seem to end up that way.)

The upstairs bar at Local 16, Washington, D.C., 10:23PM November 24, 2015.


Now I just feel flabby, or at least like I'm going to put on weight rapidly -- never mind the 30 miles I jogged between Monday, Nov. 16th and Monday, Nov. 23rd in five (5) distinct gym visits (including one during my brief Pittsburgh work trip), along with all the weightlifting, and the core workouts, plus some swimming.

All the gain disappears in a flash, or so it feels, what with my 46th birthday arriving tomorrow, plus the body type that I have. It's a one-way journey this trip through life. (That reminds me -- I have to change my age in the "About Me" section on the right of this blog.)

Oh, and I'm flat broke until Friday when I am supposed to get paid.

Yours truly tonight in the trailer, Millersville, Md., 10:10PM November 25, 2015.


Anyway, my shortened day (we had early work dismissal) was very hung over but I turned in a draft presentation on V2X technologies. I got over to mobbed Union Station and was able to quickly get a MARC train to Odenton. The train was also, predictably, mobbed and I had to stand the whole way, but it is a quick ride.

Hellas Restaurant and Lounge, Millersville, Md., 5:34PM November 25, 2015.


My mom and Ray met me at Odenton and we drove to Millersville, stopping at an unusual place I had not before been on my very intermittent trips to visit them in Anne Arundel County. We went to a place called Hellas Restaurant and Lounge, a combo Greek restaurant and large suburban saloon. We sat on the saloon (bar) side.

An old house along Odenton Road, Odenton, Md., 3:57PM November 25, 2015.


I'm now back at their place in Rolpark ensconced in the back (front) room of the little trailer. The place is quite cozy. They've been here for over a decade now. This over-55 trailer park is located off Veterans Highway in a sort of Anne Arundel County suburban no-man's land and under the flight path to and from nearby BWI Airport. They are in main room watching Christmas movies on Hallmark Channel (a very benign choice compared to what some families watch).

A trailer in Rolpark trailer park, Millersville, Md., 12:26PM November 27, 2014.

I took this picture last Thanksgiving.


My mom and I went through some old photo albums, and I now have an additional 15 photos to scan and post. Several of them are from where she and Ray lived in the old Casteau Homes* just outside the SHAPE NATO headquarters in (or very near to) Mons, Belgium. They lived there from Jan. 1976 to Dec. 1979. I lived there for the first three months before being sent back to New Jersey to my dad and paternal grandparents. (I was six at the time.) I visited in the summers of 1977 and 1979.

*This should not be confused with the village of Casteau.

Google aerial view of Casteau Homes right outside of the SHAPE installation, Belgium.


The reason I mention this is because we were looking at Google aerial and street view images of the U.S. miliSHAPE and of Mons and except for a few spots in Mons -- including the ancient Belfry of Mons, the town square, and (pictured in the lead image) a monkey statue by the City Hall building that everyone rubs for luck -- she didn't remember anything. (SHAPE stands for Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, although the joke back then was "Super Holiday At Public Expense". It is either in the City of Mons or the village of Casteau.)

The Belfrey of Mons, Belgium, in a photo taken April 2014 by PhotoCory.

This site has some lovely images of Mons.

The Belfry was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in late 1999.


However, thanks to what my mom jotted down on the back of one image -- "#164 Casteau Homes Obour CT" -- and a guess on the Google aerial image followed by a street view, plus a fortuitously placed mail box with "164" jotted on it -- we were able to ascertain that the squat, one-story residential structure located at 164 on what is now called Domaine de la Brisée was probably where we lived, although the hedge around part of it was not there in the late 1970s.

164 Domaine de la Brisée, Casteau Homes, Mons, Belgium, Google street view, July 2013.


She also wrote on the back: "THIS IS OUR 'DUMP'" ... "RENT $337.00 D/Mo - All Utilities EXTRA" ... "RENT TO increase Dec 76".


FYI: $337 in 1976 is now $1,408.67 in 2015 dollars, or so says the BLS inflation calculator. Adding in utilities, they were paying probably between $1,500 and $1,550. That wasn't cheap at all for a low-ranking Army solider (already a Vietnam vet) and his wife. Apparently they also had to pay some weird quarterly electronics ("TV") tax for just having a television.


Oh, and I saw on the same street view the house catty-corner to it where we lived and in front of which I was -- during the 3 months I lived there in 1976 and attended school -- was mercilessly bullied by the British school children until one morning my mom saw that and thereafter she rode me to school until I left to return to the States.

The house at the corner of Domaine de la Brisée and 9th Rue, Casteau Homes, Mons, Belgium, July 2013.


As for Mons, she recalled we stayed at a place called the Hotel Raymond (no longer there) and ate at an Italian restaurant nearby -- where I got locked in the bathroom and let out a shrieking scream (that's a story for another time, esp. how the little Italian waiter went flying across the restaurant into the bathroom and yanked open the stall door -- I'll never forget the look on his face).

The central city square of Mons, Belgium, April 2014 in another image by PhotoCory.


I also promptly got diarrhea from the water and had an accident (probably the last one ever since) riding a bus. I remember later being in the hotel room bathtub.

I was 6 years old, OK?

Anyway, I'll post scanned images at a later time.

Central city square, Mons, Belgium (in what is probably a recent photo).


Oh, yes, there was the following exchange in the car (and "Bon" is short for "Bonnie"):

Ray (pointing at Veterans Highway): "Bon, remember when there used to be that building down there. It was supposed to be a whorehouse."

Mom: "Ray, how would I know that?"

1900 block of New Hampshire Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 12:03PM November 25, 2015.

I worked from home in the morning before briefly going into the office.


For tomorrow, it is Thanksgiving dinner at the American Legion Post 175 in Severna Park, and on Friday during the day, I think we are going into Annapolis (at least my mom and I and Ray if his health permits). My plan is to take a MARC or Amtrak back to D.C. on Friday evening.

There is a full Moon tonight -- the Beaver Full Moon. The full Moon technically occurred at 5:44PM EST, so not quite on Nov. 26th (my birthday).

OK, I'm going to try to post my Pittsburgh pictures in a subsequent entry either later tonight or tomorrow.

Just as a concluding thought, it's so pleasant here with my mom just watching / listening to a jazzy Christmas music channel in the other room. I'm composing this entry and doing some nips of stuff I bought (mini-Riesling and two teeny Absolut Citrons).

Happy Thankful Birthday.