Monday, October 24, 2016

Part 2: Where do the Presidential Candidates Stand on Issues: Taxes, Minimum wage, guns, economy, global warming, Iraq

In order for people to make an EDUCATED decision this November about the Presidential Race, we're posting positions here. 
    Now, YOU can compare their positions yourself over the next 2 days and make an educated decision.

The Source is About the website: "This is an unbiased comparison of the political positions and policies of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, candidates for president from the Democratic and Republican parties respectively."


Comparison chart


                                                 Donald Trump                         Hillary Clinton

Tax Policies

New federal income tax brackets: 0% (< $25K individual/$50K couple), 10%, 20%, 25%; eliminate AMT; Lower corporate tax rate to 15%; Trump's tax plan would cost the federal government $9.5 trillion. Increase taxes on high-income earners. New tax bracket of 43.6% for incomes >$5mn. Clinton's tax plan is estimated to get $200 - $500 million in higher revenue for the federal government.
Economic Policies Declare China a currency manipulator. A one-time repatriation of corporate cash held overseas at 10% tax rate, followed by an end to the deferral of taxes on corporate income earned abroad. Higher minimum wage. Encourage corporate profit-sharing via a tax credit for 2 years.
Position on Minimum Wage Comments all over the map. In Republican debate said wages are "too high", but later said $7.25 an hour is too low. "I think people should get more". Wants to let states set the minimum. Clinton proposes to increase the minimum wage to $12 nationwide.
Position on Government Regulation "Cut" the EPA. "We can leave a little bit" [of the agency in place rather than abolishing entirely] More stringent regulation on environmental issues like fracking and drinking water.
Position on Iraq Trump claims he opposed Iraq war before the invasion. However, is on record for hesitatingly supporting it in Sep '12. Expressed early concerns about the cost and direction of the war a few months after it started. Clinton voted to authorize military force in Iraq; later opposed troop increases and pushed for withdrawal.
Position on Global Warming Trump has tweeted "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive." He has said he would renegotiate America’s role and obligations under the U.N. global climate accord. Supports a mandatory cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Has called for more regulations on fracking but not outright bans. Expressed doubts on drilling for oil in the Arctic but not called for stopping.
Position on the Keystone XL Pipeline Initially Trump said he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline "immediately". His new position is that he would reject the pipeline unless TransCanada Corp. gave the U.S. a “big, big chunk of the profits, or even ownership rights.”  Her position now is "I don't think we need to have a pipeline bringing very dirty oil, exploiting the tar sands in western Canada, across our border."
Position on Gun Rights Supports 2nd amendment rights; opposes new gun-control laws; "Enforce existing laws"; "fix our broken mental health system"; "defend rights of law-abiding gun owners";"allow military personnel to carry weapons on military bases & recruitment centers" Supports a stricter assault weapons ban, and background checks being required for a greater number of gun sales.  Wants more legislation for gun safety.
Position on Marijuana Legalization Has said: "[marijuana for] medical purposes for medicinal purposes it’s absolutely fine." Donald Trump is on record claiming (in 1990) US drug enforcement is ‘a joke’ and all drugs should be legalized to ‘take the profit away from these drug Reclassify marijuana to be a less restricted drug than it is right now, but do not legalize it. ‘Wait and See’ approach to recreational marijuana. Medical marijuana should be available, but only in ‘extreme conditions’.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Just re-read: Crisis on Infinite Earths (DC Comics Novels) by Marv Wolfman

In 1985 there was a 12 issue comic book series from DC Comics that brought together every single
superhero and many villains that have ever appeared in the line of comics since the 1930s. All of them were brought together to fight an evil that threatened to destroy the multiverse (that is multiple realities / multiple Earths, planets and other galaxies vibrating at a different speed and co-existing).
   The graphic novel was awesome and my all time favorite.
 -In 2000 it was made into a paperback novel (no illustrations) called "Crisis on Infinite Earths (DC Comics Novels)" by Marv Wolfman and told from the point of the Flash. I re-read it last week and although I enjoyed it, I much prefer the illustrated version (graphic novel).
  If you want to read the story - get the graphic novel -and it's now 31 years old!!  - Rob

About this novel: Trapped in a timeless limbo, Barry Allen, the Flash, can only watch in silent and helpless horror as, one by one, countless universes fade from existance in order to feed the insatiable need for power of the Anti-Monitor, a being from the anti-matter universe of Qward. Under the guidance of the Monitor, his benevolent opposite, the super-heroes and villains of all realities are brought together for a last, desperate stand against the forces that promise the literal end of all existance.

Part 1: Where do Presidential Candidates Stand on Issues? Immigration, Health Care, Gay Marriage, Women's Rights

Be an informed voter
In order for people to make an EDUCATED decision this November about the Presidential Race, we're posting positions here. 
    Now, YOU can compare their positions yourself over the next 2 days and make an educated decision.

 The Source is About the website: "This is an unbiased comparison of the political positions and policies of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump."

During the 3rd Debate- We were Horrified personally to hear Trump say he will appoint Supreme Court Judges to "repeal Roe V. Wade" and "repeal gay marriage" among other things. 


Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton comparison chart

Donald TrumpHillary Clinton

Political Party Republican Democratic
Alma Mater Fordham University, University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School Wellesley College, Yale University
Date of Birth June 19, 1946 October 26,1947
Place of Birth Queens, New York City Chicago, Illinois
Current Position Businessperson - The Trump Organization 67th Secretary of State, former (1/21/2009- 2/1/2013)
Position on Immigration Build wall on Mexican border, make Mexico pay for it; allow legal immigration; triple number of ICE officers; deport all "criminal" aliens; defund sanctuary cities; end birthright citizenship; increase prevailing wage for H1-B visas Supports the DREAM act and a path to legalization for illegal immigrants that includes learning English and paying fines; toughen penalties for hiring illegal immigrants; voted for fence along Mexican border. Supports Obama's executive action.
Position on Healthcare Get rid of Obamacare; Let insurance be sold across state lines. Premiums should be tax deductible. Allow HSAs for individuals. Block grants to states for Medicaid instead of cost sharing. Expand Obamacare. 3 sick visits free before deductible. Tax credits for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses over 8.5% and 5% of income respectively. Expand Medicaid via 100% matching funds to states for 3 years & more funding for enrollment programs.
Position on Women's Rights and Abortion Changed stance. Now in favor of outlawing abortions, except in cases of rape, incest, or life of mother; supportive of non-abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood. *Supports punishment for women who get abortions.  Strongly supports Roe v. Wade; does not oppose restrictions on late-pregnancy abortions (with exceptions for health of mother); judges should protect women's rights; rated 100% by NARAL. Vehemently opposes defunding Planned Parenthood


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Beware - A New "Mortgage Scheme"

We know that some people are desperate to buy a house, but don't have the down payment. Well, we
urge those people to wait or they may fall prey to the latest scheme.
  In the Baltimore Sun on Sunday, Oct. 16, we read about it and one of the mortgage companies that are doing it.
HOW IT WORKS: They provide the down payment in exchange for a "Stake" in the sale of the ENTIRE home price.
WHEN SELLING THE HOUSE: The lender gets the amount of downpayment they contributed plus 40% of the equity. This in addition to the 4% interest on the mortgage if the homebuyer elects to secure the loan through him.
WHY PEOPLE DO IT-  To live in 
Buyer Beware!!
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU PAY OFF THE HOUSE - YOU STILL OWE! -Once you pay off the mortgage you'll still owe the Lender 40% of the value off the house to finally own in.
BOTTOM LINE-- If you can't afford the down payment, you shouldn't buy a house. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Laureen's Visit Part 3: Reconstructing George Washington's Boyhood Home

In this last blog about our friend Laureen's visit, we're going to take you to the site of George
Washington's boyhood home and how it's being reconstructed. We visited Fredericksburg, Virginia and came upon George Washington's Ferry Farm.

WHAT IS GEORGE WASHINGTON'S FERRY FARM? - located at 268 Kings Hwy, Fredericksburg, VA and the property overlooks the  Rappahannock River. 

WHAT'S THE RECONSTRUCTION ABOUT?  - We learned that the original home, barn, and buildings were all destroyed. The original site was lost over time and after the original building was razed, it disappeared after being overgrown with grasses and covered in dirt.
  Another building was built on the property and owned by a religious group. It stood for decades.

The house is still being framed in Oct. 2016
In 2006 it was purchased by the George Washington Foundation who brought archaeologists to hunt for the foundation. They found it - about a 10 minute walk from the newer building.

REBUILDING STILL HAPPENING IN 2016 - Once the foundation was uncovered, and a blueprint of the original house was found, the reconstruction started and was happening when we were visiting. They're building a replica of Washington house on its archaeological footprint, reconstructing the kitchen and outbuildings, and recreating the period landscape. 
 CAN YOU HELP?  Yes. You can Donate  to give as part of the Campaign to restore the home.

Looking up at the house from the Rappahanock River
HISTORY - George Washington was 6 years old in 1738 when his family moved to a farm in Stafford County, Virginia. The Washingtons called this place the Home Farm but it later became known as Ferry Farm because people crossed the Rappahannock River on a ferry from the farm to the town of Fredericksburg. The Washingtons did not own or operate the ferry but used it frequently to get to and from town.

Archaeological dig still happening
A COOL IPAD TOUR - Explore Ferry Farm with the iPad tour, Uncovering George Washington’s Youth—updated for Phase 1 construction. 
  The ipad has about 14 locations you can walk to that have significance in the archaeological dig and where buildings stood during Washington's time. 
   Back in the Visitor's center you can view the archaeology laboratory and “The Science of History at Ferry Farm.”

BOTTOM LINE - It's really interesting to see how this site is being "Brought back from the ashes." Well worth visiting. 


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Laureen's Visit Part 2: Fredericksburg, Virginia: Kenmore and Chatham Houses

Rob, Laureen and Tom
In Part 2 of our friend Laureen's visit, we'll take you to two historic places in  Fredericksburg,
Virginia:The  Kenmore and  Chatham House.

THE KENMORE HOUSE EXPERIENCE - Well, we never got the tour. After driving 90 minutes to get there, we were met with the choice of waiting over  45 minutes for the first 30 minute tour or nothing. We could not even walk the grounds. So, we left.

Kenmore House that we didn't get into
WHAT IS THE KENMORE HOUSE?  Kenmore, also known as Kenmore Plantation, is a plantation house at 1201 Washington Avenue in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Built by George Washington's sister, Betty Washington Lewis, and her husband, Fielding Lewis, this beautiful, Georgian-style, brick mansion reflects the pre-Revolutionary-War wealth and status of the Fredericksburg merchant.

VISITING THE COOL CHATHAM HOUSE -This was a really nice and much better experience. This house is managed by the National Park Service
and well-run. It had 2 NPS employees on hand to greet us and both were friendly, very knowledgeable and accommodating. There was also no fee to visit this property. This was a totally opposite experience from the Kenmore House (so go here instead).

About the Chatham
 WHAT IS THE CHATHAM HOUSE? -Chatham Manor is the Georgian-style home completed in 1771 by farmer and statesman William Fitzhugh, after about 3 years of construction, on the Rappahannock River in Stafford County, Virginia, opposite Fredericksburg.  Today Chatham is part of Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.
Front Entrance to Chatham

HISTORY - Built between the years 1768 and 1771 by William Fitzhugh. In addition to the main house were dozens of supporting structures: a dairy, ice house, barns, stables. Down on the river was a fish hatchery, while elsewhere on the 1,280 acre estate were an orchard, mill, and a race track!

FAMOUS VISITORS - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, Abraham Lincoln and President-elect William Henry Harrison. 

Tom and Laureen in the Gardens (created in the 1920s)
SECOND OWNER-  After Fitzhugh, the Chatham was owned during the Civil War by James Horace Lacy, a former schoolteacher who had married Churchill Jones's niece. As a plantation owner and slaveholder, Lacy sympathized with the South, and at the age of 37 he left Chatham to serve the Confederacy as a staff officer. His slaves left after the war and his fortune went from $180,000 to $2,000. (Served him right for having slaves in the first place). 
More gardens

CIVIL WAR HEADQUARTERS - Northern officers initially utilized the building as a headquarters. In April 1862, General Irvin McDowell brought 30,000 men to Fredericksburg.

Exterior of the house shows where the portico was removed
A UNION HOSPITAL - Fredericksburg was a disastrous Union defeat. Burnside suffered 12,600 casualties in the battle, many of whom were brought back to Chatham. The place was really gutted inside by soldiers using the wood paneling for fire fuel, and writing graffiti all over the walls.

GHOSTLY ENERGY - In one room on the far north side of the house, we watched a 12 minute film of the history of the house and property. We both felt VERY uncomfortable in that room and learned that it was where the "Surgery" was located. We were told that the room was covered with blood and many died there, while others lost limbs. 

Nice view of Fredericksburg in the distance
FINAL OWNER, MANY RENOVATIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS - Chatham's last owner, industrialist John Lee Pratt. Mr. Pratt purchased Chatham from the Devores in 1931. He refinished it, added extensive gardens, the famous music note railing in the back of the house, and a gazebo with the god Pan in it.

WHO IS PAN? - Pan is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature of mountain wilds and rustic music, and companion of the nymphs.
A musical railing in the backyard of the Chatham

In 1975 he willed it to the National Park Service.


Laureen and Tom looking at Fredericksburg
Gazebo with Pan the flute player

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Laureen's Visit Pt1: Ellicott City, La Cakerie

La Cakerie's cupcakes!
Our friend Laureen visited us for 4 days over the last weekend and since she's visited several times before we tried to find different things to do, out of the ordinary. Two of her requests were to explore IKEA and revisit Old Ellicott City, so we did that on Day 1. I also took Laureen to a very special and awesome bakery in Towson, owned by our friend Jason Hisley

Jason, La Cakerie Owner and Master chef
LA CAKERIE- - La Cakerie is an artisan bakery offering a wide variety of seasonal products and the most elaborate cakes you'll ever 11 W Allegheny Ave Towson, MD 
We decided to enjoy a  gourmet cupcake and a drink! These are the best-ever cupcakes, cakes and pastries!!
Many shops still boarded up on Main Street

Laureen outside the Railroad museum- still closed
Dumpsters still stand as renovations continue
ELLICOTT CITY - Old Ellicott City, Maryland suffered from an historic flood during the early part of the summer of 2016 when strong thunderstorms basically sat over the 1700s historic town for hours, dropping 6.5 inches of rain. That historic rainfall upended sidewalks and created rushing 3-4 foot raging rivers in the main street (it's in a valley and there are a LOT of hills and streets that feed into it). The flash flood washed away cars and destroyed most of the shops on Main Street. Now, 3 months later, they're mostly still under reconstruction, and just one shop was open. 

NEXT: Fredericksburg, Virginia: Kenmore and
Chatham Houses  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Italy Blog #61: Hadrian: a Great and First Openly Gay Emperor

In this Italy blog, we'll look at a special figure in Ancient Italian history who was a great leader and he was openly gay. His name is Hadrian, and his statues were in the Vatican Museum along with a statue of his lover.
 In fact, Hadrian suffered intense grief after his lover died and virtually saw him as a god. In 2008 the U.K. Independent published a great article about Hadrian, which we're sharing here).

Hadrian the gay emperor

WHO WAS HADRIAN?   Publius Aelius Traianus Hadrianus was not only a peacemaker who pulled his soldiers out of modern-day Iraq. He was also the first leader of Rome to make it clear that he was gay.  Born: January 24, 76 AD, Baetica;    Died: July 10, 138 AD, Baiae, Italy
THE EMPEROR: After being made emperor AD117, he inherited a Roman Empire in its prime, which had thrived on a policy of endless expansion and conquest.

Antoinous, Hadrian's lover
His first move, within hours of coronation, was to withdraw his troops from Mesopotamia, now Iraq, and fortify the empire's boundaries by building his eponymous wall in northern England and others in the Danube and the Rhine valleys, ushering in a new era of peace. The reign that followed can be traced through 200 ancient treasures (which were on display in Britain in 2008).

WHAT WAS HADRIAN FAMOUS FOR? - Aside from being openly gay, Hadrian was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. Hadrian is known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Britannia. He also rebuilt the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma.
WHO WAS HADRIAN'S LOVER?  - Hadrian's male consort, Antinous, accompanied him on his travels around the empire. Several items about Antinous were found including a poem written on papyrus, featuring the two men hunting together, and memorials to the dead lover at Hadrian's villa in Tivoli. Although it was not uncommon for his predecessors to have taken gay lovers alongside a female spouse, Hadrian was unique in making his love "official" in a way that no other emperor had before him.
WHAT HAPPENED TO ANTINOUS? - When Antinous drowned in mysterious circumstances, Hadrian was so distraught that he chose to commemorate the young Greek by naming an Egyptian city in his honor. What was unusual is that he had a lot of flings, and then after his lover drowned in the Nile AD130 he made him a god.

A CITY NAMED FOR HADRIAN'S LOVER - Hadrian was clearly bereaved and he had lots of images put up. When a city was founded close to the spot where Antinous drowned on the east bank of the Nile in Egypy, he named it Antinopolis. 

Full Article:


Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

Great Books by our friends

Great Books by our friends
Check out these great books (yeah, Rob's are in there, too)

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next

Podcast of Rob's 50 min. interview on Paranormal Filler Radio 7/13/14