Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cloning a Dog Doesn't Bring Its Spirit Back

(Photo: My beloved late pup, Buzz Wyatt from 2004)

FLORIDA COUPLE CLONES BELOVED DOG FOR $155,000
FULL STORY: http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/01/29/cloned.dog/index.html
I just read this headline on CNN, and people just don't understand how life, spirits and personalities work. I wish I could tell them.
Although I understand the grief after witnessing my first puppy (Buzz Wyatt) being killed by a car in front of me when the leash opened, when a dog's spirit moves on, just like a humans, it doesn't come back. Another spirit takes over.
Cloning pets and expecting the same personality and behavior is like cloning people. They'll never be the same person. Further, it's each individual's life experience and environments that help shape their behavior. The people who spent all this money to clone their late dog doesn't understand that they won't be able to duplicate everything they did with the original dog. Dogs all have individual spirits and personalities, just like people. These folks don't understand that this dog will not behave exactly like their late dog.
They should' have given the $155K to a shelter and adopted a dog that's been living without love.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Colder than Normal in Eastern U.S. - Record Heatwave in Australia

If you're in the eastern half of the U.S., you've been locked under a dome of colder than normal air since November 1st... making for a colder-than-normal winter, all due to La Nina's changing of the jet streams. If you want to feel warmer, look no further than Australia. Right now, that continent is experiencing a severe heat wave. Below is a story from Jan. 30, from World Environment News:

SYDNEY - A heatwave scorching southern Australia,
causing transport chaos by buckling rail lines and leaving more than 140,000 homes without power, is a sign of climate change, the government said on Thursday. The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting a total of six days of 40-plus Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) temperatures for southern Australia, which would equal the worst heatwave in 100 years.
Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said the heatwave, which started on Wednesday, was the sort of weather scientists had been warning about. "Eleven of the hottest years in history have been in the last 12, and we also note, particularly in the southern part of Australia, we're seeing less rainfall," Wong told reporters. "All of this is consistent with climate change, and all of this is consistent with what scientists told us would happen."
The maximum temperature in southern Australia on Thursday was 46 degrees Celsius (114.8 Fahrenheit) in four towns. While uncomfortable for residents in towns and some of Australia's biggest cities, the heatwave was seen as having little effect on Australia's commodities-driven economy, with the worst of the weather away from the nation's grain belt.
Health officials in South Australia and Victoria states have advised people to stay indoors, use air conditioners and keep up fluid intake. More than 140,000 homes were without power in southern Australia as the heat took its toll on the power grid.
In Melbourne, which recorded its hottest day in 70 years at 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) on Thursday, rail lines buckled and trains were canceled, stranding thousands of hot and angry commuters.

The Digital TV Conversion is Coming- Check This Funny Video

On February 17th television signals will go from Analog to Digital. Ready or not. The Nielsen Co. estimates more than 6.5 million U.S. households that rely on analog television sets to pick up over-the-air broadcast signals could see their TV sets go dark next month if the transition is not postponed.
Here's a tragically funny video about the struggle some will have trying to cope with it (Thanks, Jeff F!): http://www.hulu.com/watch/36608/talkshow-with-spike-feresten-cable-psa#s-p1-st-i1

How to Figure "Partly Sunny" vs. "Mostly Cloudy"

Our friend Micky in Massachusetts recently asked for the difference between "Partly Sunny," and "Mostly Cloudy." The National Weather Service bases these terms on sixths of sky cover.
Here's the breakdown:
1) Sunny/Clear - no clouds, 0/6 clouds
2) Mostly Sunny - 1/6 clouds
3) Partly Cloudy - 2/6 clouds
4) Variably Cloudy - 3/6 clouds (Which is what this photo shows)
5) Partly Sunny - 4/6 clouds
6) Mostly Cloudy - 5/6 clouds
7) Overcast - 6/6 clouds

Thursday, January 29, 2009

In the News: 50% of Americans Want to Move

From CNN today... I wonder if this is because people want a change of scenery due to the bad economy or just don't like living where they are. As for us, we agree that this is the best place to live.
It's odd how more men prefer Las Vegas -could the attraction be the gambling and legal prostitution?- that would be a sad commentary on men. Meanwhile right now, the real estate market in Las Vegas has crashed, and condo and home prices have drastically fallen, due to some of the highest foreclosure rates in the U.S. (so I've read). They also have water shortages out there to contend with, so I feel for the folks that do live there.
Meanwhile, if you're not happy about where you live, make a plan and do something about it. You don't HAVE to stay anywhere unless you're jobless, then just start looking for a job via Internet in the city you want to live. I did it. That's how I moved to Tennessee/Kentucky in 1995 to go back to school. With faith and determination, you can do anything.
Otherwise, FIND good things and reasons why living where you live! Life is short. Appreciate the time you have, wherever it may be. - Rob

(CNN) -- Nearly half of Americans would like to live someplace else, according to a national survey.
* Denver, Colorado, top choice among people surveyed by the Pew Research Center
* Researchers polled 2,260 adults during telephone interviews
* More men than women prefer Las Vegas, Nevada, according to the surveyhttp://www.cnn.com/2009/US/01/29/liveable.cities/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

Comic Book Review: Final Crisis various series

For those of you who aren't comic book fans, you can skip this blog entry!
I just finished reading the last of DC Comic's "Final Crisis" issues (#7). When I read Final Crisis #6 and saw the introduction of that "wish machine" or whatever the hell it was, I knew that Superman would be the one to "put everything back to normal." - Besides him, in "Final Crisis Revelations" #5 (I think it's called that) the Spectre erases all of the bad things. To sum these storylines up, here's this horrible crisis where the world is chaos, and Oh, at the end of the world and multiverse, we'll come up with some machine that fixes everything. Stupid... and sending Batman back into prehistory or wherever the heck he is, was another stupid thing. If Superman could make things "right" then he could have resurrected Batman in present day. It's non-sensical and frustrating. Now I'm sorry I even bothered with Final Crisis. The Superman in 3-D was also horrible and not worth $4.50 per issue. The only saving graces: The Spectre (IMAGE FROM THE COVER- Credit: DC Comics) storyline was good, and so IS the Legion of Three worlds storyline (which is still going on), both of which really have nothing to do with the "Final Crisis" and Darkseid. Meanwhile, the storyline in Green Lantern, "Rage of the Red Lanterns" that started as a Final Crisis one-shot special and went into GL's own book, is a great storyline. That's it from Rob's comicbook corner!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

First Winter Storm of 2009 in Washington DC

Here are two pictures from the first snowfall of the Washington, DC (Bowie, Md.) area from our backyard on Jan. 27th. Yesterday, Jan. 27: 2-3" of snow fell, then changed to snow and sleet after midnight, then finally freezing rain. Ice accumulation was around a 0.1 of an inch on top of the additional nighttime snow and sleet accumulation of 1 to 2 inches. Wednesday morning was a treacherous, icy mess. Wednesday: Freezing rain mixing with rain by noon, then rain after noon. High 37. New ice accumulation of less than a 0.1 of an inch. At Night: Rain changing back to scattered snow showers before midnight. Low 25. Breezy, with a west wind 20 to 23 mph decreasing to between 9 and 12 mph.

Some Funny Architectural Errors

Tom found these photos of actual architectural quality control "misses." I think one or two of them are from Europe. The video camera behind the sign, the balcony over a railroad track, and the mysterious balcony without a way to get out on it, and the way a builder worked the streetlight into a couple of balconies. Clever! Eeeesh!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Keeping the Yard Safe from Squirrels

Monday, January 26th was a busy day for Dolly and Franklin- making sure that evil squirrel didn't eat the bird seed out of the feeder in the backyard. Here's a couple of action shots where they were even trying to climb a tree or two!



Interesting Stories in the News Today...

1) Obama orders more fuel-efficient cars by 2011 WHY does the President Need to ORDER automakers to build more fuel-efficient cars? WHY didn't they just do it? Obviously the technology is there (various car makers have been using it for years). At first I thought bailing out the auto industry was great to help people keep jobs, but I reconsidered, because these Automakers shouldn't be FORCED to do the right thing with fuel-efficiency. They should've just DONE IT. So, like poorly run retail stores, I say let them go bankrupt. Maybe they, too, will learn. I just feel bad for the employees who were not involved in that poor-decisionmaking.
2) 4 More Months for "Rabbit Ears" - The U.S. Senate has approved legislation to delay the conversion to digital TV from Feb. 17 to June 12, enabling 4 more months to buy a TV converter box, or subscribe to cable or satellite TV. The Commerce Department also would have time to issue additional $40 coupons to offset the cost of converter boxes. The program RAN OUT OF MONEY/COUPONS earlier this month, prompting a waiting list.President Obama endorses the delay.
3) One Household to Avoid for 4 Years: A woman in Southern California has given birth to six girls and two boys, the world's second octuplets born alive. The babies, delivered in about five minutes, weighed between 1.8 pounds and 3.4 pounds.
4) Black Jobs Monday - This is frightening- and we know a number of friends looking for work now, too. Foreclosures are up everywhere, and we see some in our neighborhood. (NY TIMES:) Home Depot, Caterpillar, Sprint Nextel and at least eight other companies announced on Monday they would cut more than 75,000 jobs in the U.S. and around the world. Caterpillar, the maker of heavy equipment, is slashing its payrolls by 16 percent. Texas Instruments said late in the day that it would eliminate 3,400 jobs, or 12 percent of its work force.
JOB TIP - The U.S. Census is NOW hiring part-time workers around the country, to prep for the 2010 census. Check it out...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ready for the First real snowfall of the winter for Wash, DC/Annapolis, Md.?


We're ready?? The First real snowfall of the winter in the Baltimore/Washington area is upon us (The ½" we received 2 weeks ago near Baltimore and western Montgomery and Frederick Ctys didn't make it to Wash, DC and Annapolis). This isn't going to be a big snowfall event for Baltimore/Washington, but it will likely make for ICY travel later on Tuesday and in the morning on Wednesday.
BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON - **WINTER STORM WATCH TUES EVENING THRU WED. From Cumberland, Maryland (Far west) to Washington, DC south to Front Royal, VA, and east to Annapolis.
In short: A WINTRY MIX OF PRECIPITATION IS EXPECTED TUESDAY INTO WEDNESDAY
Snow will begin developing early Tomorrow (Tuesday). The low pressure will
Track through the Tennessee valley Tomorrow night...and into West Virginia on Wed. Snow and sleet will mix with freezing rain and rain Tuesday evening. A transition to rain is expected from south to north on Wednesday. A winter storm watch means that there is a potential for
Significant snow...sleet...or ice accumulations that may impact travel.

Tonight: Cloudy, flurries with a low around 25.
Tuesday: (LIKELY OKAY FOR MORNING COMMUTE) Cloudy with occasional snow. High near 30. 1 to 2 inches possible (less toward Annapolis and coastal areas)
Tuesday Night (Dangerous travel AT NIGHT ): Snow and sleet before midnight, then freezing rain and sleet. Low around 30. A tenth and quarter of an inch possible (likely icing).
Wednesday: ICY in the morning with temps very slowly creeping just over freezing.
Rain or freezing rain, becoming all rain after noon. High near 34. Ending by midnight as a mix of rain/sleet/snow. Low 23
Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 36.
LIVE RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=LWX&product=NCR&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Busy Weekend!

(PHOTO: Dolly inspects the great paint job Tom did on the stairs).
This weekend was packed! It's finally Sunday evening and we're now sitting back.
Saturday, Tom painted the staircase and cleaned it up nicely with an oil-based paint. It took more than a day to dry, but it looks fantastic. At the same time, Rob drove to Baltimore and visited his 86 year old friend Beverlee in a nursing home for awhile. In the afternoon, we went to a 'farewell afternoon tea' for our friend Randall, who is moving back to Wyoming after working in DC during a government appointment. Our friend Linda and her daughter hosted the great event, filled with teas, sandwiches, desserts and coffee. It was lots of fun! We also worked in a dinner with our friend Tom, too. Sunday was a busy day, too. It was 15F outside, so we stayed in for breakfast and skipped our weekend breakfast at Panera Bread, which made our dogs Dolly and Franklin happy! Lunches with friends are a great way to spend a weekend afternoon, and this was one of them. We got to lunch with Jeff and Gary, and Chris and Mike (whom we haven't seen in a long time). Dinner with Tom's folks made for a great end to the weekend - and tomorrow it's back to work...

Friday, January 23, 2009

2 Real Hero Stories in the News!

Superheroes don't just exist in comic books- they're everywhere in society today. From caretakers to Police and Firemen and women, folks in the military, teachers, animal shelter and rescue workers and so many more. Those people are all heroes to me. In today's news, there are stories of two other real-life heroes, that I thought you'd like to read. One story from Washington, DC, the other from Boston, Mass.
** There are a lot of people out there who need a hero - and even a smile or a hug can make you a hero. Here's What I Mean: I remember being in St. Edward's Catholic church in Nashville in 1996, sitting by myself, when an elderly woman came in alone and sat next to me. During the "sign of peace" I asked her if she would like a hug, and she said, "Yes, please." I gave her one. She thanked me several times, and I'll never forget her smile. So, a simple hug can make YOU a hero to someone who really needs to know that someone cares.
HERE ARE THE STORIES IN THE NEWS:
DAY AFTER SAVING WOMAN, TRANSIT HERO HELPS SAVE FIRE VICTIMS
Less than 24 hours after saving a woman who fell in front of a Washington subway train, a Houston, Texas, transit cop was at it again.
FULL STORY: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/01/22/metro.hero/index.html

A Fire Department dispatcher chased and captured a mugger at an Orange Line MBTA Subway station in Boston. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/01/23/t_rider_tells_of_nabbing_suspect/

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Another Home Renovation Project


Another weekend meant another home renovation project. This time, we tackled the living room stairs that go up to our tv room/office and spare bedroom. It had light-colored carpeting on it, that once covered the living room floor. Of course, with 2 doggies, it got pretty dirty, pretty quickly.
So, we removed the carpeting and padding, to find rubber stair mats stapled underneath, and adhered on with some kind of double-sided sticky, nasty tape. It required peeling the tape off carefully, and then scrubbing the adhesive with turpentine, then soap and water (after yanking out the nails and hundreds of staples!). Next was filling out those hundreds of tiny holes with wood fill and smoothing them out. We're going to paint next, and then cover with a carpet runner (ordered). Hopefully, we'll get the carpet in and finish it over this coming weekend!

Spiderman Really DID Appear at the Inauguration!


Comic Books aren't just made up stories. Here's photographic proof. During the frosty morning of January 20th in Washington, D.C., our friend and Ace photographer Steve Cole snapped this photo of Spiderman shooting webbing to the top of the Washington Monument, seconds before swinging away! Steve's picture should have been on the front page of the Washington Post!
If you want to read the whole story about why Spidey was there, pick up Spiderman #583 (as I previously mentioned on our blog at: http://rob-tom-dolly-franklin.blogspot.com/2009/01/spiderman-and-obama-impossible-to-find.html

Another "Final Crisis" Disappointment

Anyone that doesn't read comic books likely doesn't know that there's a current "revamping" of all the superheroes in the DC Comics' universe. It's called "Final Crisis." It's supposed to be a huge change, and has 4 different storylines (and 4 different related series) going on. One was this 3D Superman Beyond. It's drawn in 3D, and 3D glasses are included. For $4.50 (normal comic is $2.99), the 2 issue series was, like "Final Crisis" the main series, not worth it. Like the main series, it was disjointed and characters were pulled from nowhere without explanation. New characters were supposedly the epitomy of evil, but didn't have origins. I'm sorry I wasted $9.00 on these two issues. I'm so disappointed. (image: DC Comics) Their description below sounds good...but it's not.
FINAL CRISIS: SUPERMAN BEYOND 3D
DC Comic's Description: The epic voyage beyond reality concludes in this heart-stopping finale as the multiverse-spanning quest for the elixir of the supergods reaches its end on the shores of a battlefield beyond imagination! But first, the Supermen of five worlds must lay bare the darkest secret of the multiverse, expose the shocking origin of the Monitors and come face to face with a seemingly unstoppable evil fuelled by the power of 52 living universes!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration Day View from the Ground


Our friend Jeff went to Inauguration Day and stood on the mall for the swearing in and other events. These are two photos that he took- showing us his point of view.
Of course with 1.8 million people on the Washington Mall, he was quite far from the Capitol, where the swearing in happened. He did get some good crowd shots, though!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

PetSmart Voluntarily Recalls Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits

Check your cabinets for these dog biscuits from Petsmart (the Petsmart brand is "Grreat Choice") - they're being recalled. Luckily, we don't have any with these UPC codes on them. PetSmart is voluntarily recalling seven of its Grreat Choice® Dog Biscuit products that contain peanut paste made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). PCA is the focus of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into potential salmonella contamination of peanut butter and paste made at its Blakely, Georgia facility.
Although PetSmart is not aware of any reported cases of illness related to these products, it has removed these products from its store shelves and website and is conducting the recall as a precautionary measure.
The recalled products include only the following types of Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits sold between Aug. 21, 2008 and Jan. 19, 2009:
Small Assorted 32 oz., UPC 73725702900
Small/Medium Assorted 4 lb., UPC 73725700601
Small/Medium Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700605
Small/Medium Assorted 10 lb., UPC 73725702755
Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700638
Extra Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700779
Peanut Butter 4 lb., UPC 73725700766

Dog DNA can help tell breed and temperament of your dog!


Our friend Lynn and her family recently adopted a dog from the Howard County Animal Adoption Center, Md. and he was listed as a Boston Terrier mix. She explained that she had the dog's DNA tested to learn more about him (it gives clues on behavior, temperament, etc.). Lynn said, "You first send in a swab taken from your dog's cheek that has cheek cells on it and they run DNA tests to determine breed. If your dog is multiple breeds (aka a mutt) they have obviously different amounts of each breed in them depending on lineage. Just like us. So the DNA test tells you not only the breeds they have in them, but how much of each they possess:
Level 1 is 75% or more of particular breed
Level 2 is 37 to 74%; Level 3 is 20 to 36%; Level 4 is 10 to 19%; Level 5 is less than 10%
Her dog "Eddie" ended up being Level 2 Boston Terrier, Level 3 Chow Chow and Level 5 for Afghan Hound and Bichon Frise (she doesn't see either of those in him at all , but then it could be 1% for each). So he's mostly Boston and either a fifth to a third Chow Chow which could be the reason he doesn't have the bulging eyes of a Boston or the short snout. But the coloring, the ears, the temperament, and size are all Boston, she said.
As for his personality, Lynn said "He is a TOTAL STITCH and he's got a good sense of humor. He is very bouncy and he loves to go through culverts and is not afraid of ANYTHING. He is terrier through and through. He's a brat, but a good hearted one. He is my boy." Congratulations, Lynn and family!

Obama Sworn in as 44th President of U.S.!!

We watched Barack Obama's inauguration on Television at home today, opting not to brave the closed roads into Washington, DC, the overstuffed subways, and the 15 degree wind chills, and we had a great view. I got choked up many times during the swearing in, and Obama's speech. It truly is a new day for the U.S. - one where hope replaces the fears we've been living under for 8 years. This is a day for every American, and I'm really excited. Here are some photos and words from the Washington Post right after the swearing in ceremony on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
(Washington Post- photos and text) Barack Obama takes the oath of office, pledges to "begin again the work of remaking America" and recognizes the multiple crises now afflicting the nation. Obama took the stage and was sworn in by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. at 12:05 p.m. Holding the Lincoln Bible was Obama's wife, Michelle Obama.

In Address, Obama Calls for 'A New Era of Responsibility' Some 2 Million Visitors Packed the Washington Mall for Today's Celebration! Areas around Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial are near capacity. Aretha Franklin sang "My Country Tis of Thee." There were 20 jumbotron screens throughout the Washington Mall for everyone to see the activities on the Capitol steps.
What's interesting is the amazing contrast today's events were to George W. Bush's re-election inauguration in 2004. There was a fraction of the crowd, lots of protesters, no large screen televisions, a pretty empty Washington Mall, no road closures, very little security, and NO excitement (understandably so). I can only imagine how now former President Bush feels with all of this excitement today. I think it's appropriate, because Barack and GW both got the recognition and the love they deserved. I'm very excited about the next 4 years.

Monday, January 19, 2009

FOUND! Spiderman and Obama: A Tough Comic to Find

UPDATE: Jan. 21, 2009 - Today, my local comic book shop, Alliance Comics of Bowie, Md. had a few issues left of the 2nd printing of this comic book (left for the loyal customers only) so I managed to buy one! Looking forward to reading it!
I couldn't get a copy, and neither could a lot of my friends who are also comic book collectors:
PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. comic book retailers said a Spider-Man comic featuring President-elect Barack Obama on the cover flew from shelves faster than you can sling a web.
Excalibur Books & Comics in Portland, Ore., said copies of "Amazing Spider-Man #583" sold out "before the door opened" Wednesday and hundreds of people lined up outside of Midtown Comics in New York's Manhattan borough in the hopes of snagging a copy, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Thursday. Excalibur ordered 70 copies of the issue for regular subscribers and four additional copies stocked by the store were quickly claimed by callers.
The plot is that Spider-Man's enemy The Chameleon plans to impersonate Obama at his inauguration and take over the country. The super hero and the politician team up to foil the plot. "Honestly," Obama says in the comic after the villain's plot is foiled, "I'm more upset by the Chameleon's shockingly deficient understanding of the electoral process."

Busy Weekend/ Simple Pleasures

(PHOTO: "Jessica Fletcher" in Murder She Wrote -TV series on DVD - one of our favorites)
The weekend has come and gone, and despite the fact that today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day, and a holiday for me, Tom is working. Tom ALSO had to work all day Saturday, in order to have inauguration day off tomorrow (because the traffic/metro into Washington DC will be of record proportions).
While Tom worked Saturday, I took care of Dolly and Franklin, and did all of the household chores and a couple of quick errands for the house. When Tom returned at 6pm I had just started dinner. We were BOTH tired!
Sunday found us breakfasting at Panera Bread (as usual), and we met friends Steve and Jane for lunch, and Steve's sister was in from New Mexico. That was fun. My younger brother flew in to BWI Airport for the Inauguration (from New England) with a friend, and Tom and I picked them up and drove them to the Metro immediately so they could get to their hotels before the first event started. They've got events all through the next three days! WE are not going to DC for the inauguration, although we'd love to. Too crowded, and way too cold (in the mid-20s all day).
OUR WEEKEND TV VIEWING: DVDs of the Television shows "Hetty Wainthropp Investigates" (BBC show); and "Murder She Wrote" with George Clooney as a guest star, and he was only 22 in the episode. Do WE feel old!
Sunday night Tom's parents made us dinner! We love that! A nice way to end a weekend.

Friday, January 16, 2009

OVERSCAM.COM

As anyone that regularly reads this blog already knows, we love our dogs to pieces. They are part of the family and as such they have become somewhat privileged. When Rob & I converted the unused master bedroom upstairs into a multi-purpose/TV/office area, we looked for two matching side chairs for the TV area. As anyone that owns dogs should know, don't buy white chairs. There's a reason for this. Soon after we finished the room and bought the chairs, Rob & I assumed our now usual place on the floor, while each of the "kids" assumed their respective places in the chairs. Well, it didn't take too long for those nice white chairs to start changing color. Fortunately, the slip covers are easily removed and can be washed. Growing tired of doing this about every other week, I decided to start looking for slip covers that were not WHITE. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to find slip covers for IKEA furniture. I finally found something that I thought would work on Overstock.com. Within a few days, a heavy box arrived which I hastily took upstairs. I carefully sliced through the packing tape on the box and removed the two new slip covers - walnut colored and each individually wrapped in their plastic wrap. I opened one of the packages and read the instructions. After wrestling with the unruly fabric, slipping in on this way and that, taking it off again and slipping on another way, stopping to re-read the instructions again, it didn't take long to realize that this slip cover was made for one of those over-stuffed chairs on steroids; our chairs look like they've been on a steady diet of bread and water for six months. So, resigned that I was going to have to return the slip covers, I carefully re-packaged the one that I had opened - mind you, it had only been out of the package for 15 minutes. I walked over to the computer and logged onto Overstock.com to find out their return policy. I called the toll free number listed on the website and was immediately sent a return address label by email which I downloaded, printed, and taped to the top of the box. Rob & I drove to the nearest UPS drop off and I began the waiting game to see how much of a refund I would receive. The return policy for Overstock.com says that there would be a modest fee for the cost of return shipping. To make a long story short (because Rob says I'm taking up too much space), Overstock.com kept 55% percent of the original purchase price making up phony charges in addition to the shipping cost like restocking fees AND claiming that the slip cover I had opened and carefully repackaged was FADED. Now, I don't know who actually reads these electronic diaries, but it sure feels good to vent once in awhile. I wish to warn our friendly readers to beware of Overstock.com - because they're a rip-off - and should be dubbed OVERSCAM.com.

Review of "Final Crisis #6"


I just finished reading DC Comics' "FINAL CRISIS" #6 (out of 7), and I'm no more pleased with this issue than I was of the last one. First, the story is miserable. Secondly, it's totally disjointed. We're seeing snapshots of the Japanese child characters that appeared #1, and no one knows who they are and why we should care about them. Third, what they did to Batman (I won't give it away). I'm really fed up with this. It was supposed to be a great series. It's far from it. The only good Final Crisis issues are the "Legion of 3 worlds" series; and the one-shot of the villain's (Libra) origin. I'm very disappointed.

Drinking coffee reduces risk of Alzheimer's


As a result of growing up in New England, specifically Quincy, Mass - I became a coffee fanatic at a young age. That's because Dunkin' Donuts was founded in that city back in 1950 (I'm younger than that)- but the coffee is the BEST in the world. As an adult, I can't do without it. Today, I even drink between 3-8 cups a day (even more sometimes) all day or night. I love it- and studies like this make me feel good about it! -Drink up! Rob
STOCKHOLM (AFP) – Middle-aged people who drink moderate amounts of coffee significantly reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, a study by Finnish and Swedish researchers showed Thursday.
"Middle-aged people who drank between three and five cups of coffee a day lowered their risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease by between 60 and 65 percent later in life," said lead researcher on the project, Miia Kivipelto, a professor at the University of Kuopio in Finland and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
The study, which was also conducted in cooperation with the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki and which was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease this month, was based on repeated interviews with 1,409 people in Finland over more than two decades. They were first asked about their coffee-drinking habits when they were in their 50s and their memory functions were tested again in 1998, when they were between 65 and 79 years of age. Some studies have also shown that coffee helps protects the nerve system, which can also protect against dementia. FULL STORY:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090115/hl_afp/swedenfinlandhealthcoffeealzheimersresearch

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Inauguration: If You're Daring Enough to Go: Q&A


(PHOTO: Tom and Rob at the Capitol in November)
Tom and I will NOT be going to the Inauguration next Tuesday, even though I'd really like to be there. WHY? Because so many roads into Washington, DC are closed, and there's even a limitation now on the Beltway on the Maryland side of DC. All bridges from Northern VA are closed to civilian traffic, too. For ALL the road, bridge and street closures go to: http://www.wtop.com/?nid=780&sid=1574187. You really MUST take the Metro (if you can get to one, AND find parking). The following metro stops are recommended for general public guests:
-Red Line: Farragut North and Metro Center
-Blue and Orange Lines: Farragut West, Federal Center and Smithsonian
-Yellow and Green lines: L'Enfant Plaza and Archives
On Inauguration Day, for the parade, you WILL be searched. There are a LOT of restrictions about what you can bring (see the links below). No ticket is required (except for the bleachers). Access to the ceremony will begin at 8 a.m. SHARP. No camping out, no waiting earlier. PERIOD.
5 PAGES OF GENERAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERShttp://www.wtop.com/?sid=1566460&nid=25
For the District of Columbia’s 2009 Presidential Inauguration website.
www.inauguration.dc.gov/

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

With Spirits, There is NO Such Thing as "Coincidence"


One of the things that I've learned about dealing with spirits and earth-bound ghosts is that there is no such thing as coincidence. You may think something happened that coincides with what you're doing or thinking (like a song coming over the radio right after you think about it), but it was suggested. In that case, a spirit can suggest a song to you and then it will come on the radio. Take that as a signal.
One such event happened last night, Jan. 13th, but to explain it I need to go back to the night of January 12th. On the 12th, when we were getting ready to turn in, I asked Tom if he'd like to get confirmation from his late partner Ed, that Ed is still watching out for him. Of course, Tom said "yes." So, I asked Ed aloud (spirits need to hear you communicate, they don't read minds) if he could let us know he's around.
I made the same request of my Dad on Dec. 23rd, and Dec. 24th he came to me and proved it (see old blog about Christmas Eve).
Well, last night, Jan. 13th, without even realizing it, Ed had made himself known. I was writing notes on our "newsletter" that we send out quarterly to friends around the U.S. and came across Ed's father's name. When I went to ask Tom if he wanted to write a note, I unconsciously said aloud, "Do you want to write a note to Ed George?"
Tom looked at me. I stopped and realized that despite Ed's father's name written in front of me, I said "Ed's" name aloud. Now, granted that sounds simple, but Tom said immediately afterward, that's funny that you said Ed's name because I was just downstairs and opened a drawer and there were old photos of Ed that I had forgotten were in there.
So, although it seems like a coincidence, it's not. If you know spirits, its subtle things like that they use to communicate their presence.

Wind = Exhaustion

I've said this before: If you have a dog and you don't consider your dog a part of the family, you're missing out on your best friend's potential. That means treating your dog like a child, especially when they're sick, scared or in need. If you ignored your child, you'd be arrested for child abuse, right?
Well, last night a strong Alberta Clipper system came through the Md./DC/Virginia region and brought VERY gusty winds overnight. Our weimaraner,Dolly, tends to get startled, even frightened when the winds gust madly outside. She did last night, too. After going to bed at 10am, Dolly awoke at 11am when the winds picked up and kept slapping the flag wildly in the front of our house.I got up and let Dolly out back, not realizing it was the wind. Back to bed, 30 mins. later, from her bed (next to ours) she reached up and put her paw near my head, waking me again. I realized it was the wind, and went outside (Wind Chill near 15) and took the flag down. She went back to bed for 1 hour more and Pawed me again when the screen door on our unfinished back porch slammed back and forth- so I went outside and secured it.
I decided with the wind howling, she'd only wake me again, so I put 2 blankets on the floor and she and Franklin came and curled up underneath them with me. We slept about 2-3 hours last night, if that. Dolly kept getting up, and was shaking from fear when the wind would howl. SO, I'll have to work with her on getting over that. Meanwhile, I treated her like she was a human daughter, and let her know she was safe. THAT's what love is all about. That's how my parents treated me and raised me. Dogs should be treated no less.

New England has Come a Long Way in 20 Years

Wow. I read the following article on CNN today about a bill proposing gay marriage in Maine and thought- It's amazing how people in New England seem to be so much more understanding, accepting and caring of EVERYONE. This is totally opposite of how I felt when I moved from there 20 years ago, when I thought a lot of people were unfriendly. Now, MA and CT have gay marriages. Vermont has civil unions. For a state like Maine to consider gay marriage is tremendous. It's nice to see that the "Down home friendliness" of Maine really DOES extend to every human being there.
BILL WOULD ALLOW SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN MAINE - A Maine lawmaker introduced a bill on Tuesday that would allow same-sex marriages in the state. FULL STORY: http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/14/maine.same.sex.marriage/index.html

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just Wondering... if will apply to humans


I saw this article in the news today and am wondering, if this applies to humans there are a number of states that may be devoid of population in the future...(that's mean!)
Extinct Tasmanian "tiger" DNA has clues to demise
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - DNA taken from the hair of two extinct Tasmanian "tigers" suggests the Australian marsupials last seen 70 years ago may have become too inbred to survive as a species, researchers reported on Monday. http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSTRE50B72T20090112?feedType=nl&feedName=usmorningdigest

Doggy Exercise on a Frigid Day

It's been a cold winter here in Maryland (like everywhere else), so I've developed an alternative to walking Dolly (the weimaraner) and Franklin (the dachshund)if it's below 30F outside (because the wind chill is usually in the 20s or teens). We toss a ball around, or a play rope toy inside! Dolly is much more playful than Franklin, however. PICTURE: Dolly enjoying gnawing on her rope toy waiting for another toss.




PICTURE: What Franklin does after fetching a ball for 5 minutes... under the covers and gives us "the butt."




PICTURE: Rob posing with Dolly during a break in the 30 minutes of playtime.




PICTURE BELOW: Rob posing with the snoring Franklin. 5 minutes of play just wore him out!

Monday, January 12, 2009

West Side Story at the National Theatre

On Sunday, our friends Hil and Richard treated us to the production "West Side Story" at the National Theatre. I was at a disadvantage, because I hadn't seen the production before, and several of the songs and some dialogue was in Spanish, to be more true to the Puerto Rican characters. The people who have seen it before could follow along. Fortunately, I still remember a little spanish, enough to keep me interested in the story- but I think other newcombers to it were lost.
The dancing and singing was wonderful! I read a couple of reviews from sour people who saw it and said that there was no chemistry between the leads "Tony" and "Maria." I totally disagree. They were very believable (with the exception of a passionate kiss on their first meeting).
The story: WEST SIDE STORY transports Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to the turbulent streets of the Upper West Side in 1950’s New York City. Two star-crossed lovers, Tony and Maria, find themselves caught between the rival street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds, the “Jets” and the “Sharks.” Their struggle is to exist together in a world of violence, hate and prejudice.(Pictured: Matt Cavenaugh, who plays "Tony") Anyone that knows me well, knows that I want to see a happy ending... so why people like Romeo and Juliet or the ending to this story is beyond me. I wanted to see them have a great life! It was a very good show, and I wouldn't pay attention to any bad reviews. There was a LOT of great talent on that stage. (It just needs to be all in English).

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Movie Theatre Dampens My "Spirit"

I've been looking forward to seeing the superhero film "The Spirit" since I heard about the movie in September 2008! It was released Christmas day, and yesterday we finally got to the theatre to see it! So, last night (Saturday) I was so excited, as it's been a long time since we've been to the movies. Anyway, we checked the listings on-line and in the newspaper, and there was a 5:20pm show. We drove to Annapolis Mall and when we got to the ticket window, management had REMOVED the showing and ALL showings except the 10:30pm show (who in the hell goes to the movies at 10:30pm???). I was livid.
The employee told me some DUMB movie about "bride wars" was going to be shown in the theatre slated for the "Spirit" from now on. He said "Bride Wars" is sold out. Yes, a movie about 2 women in a cat fight over weddings. I just don't understand the mentality. An adventure movie with a plot, great photography, handsome and famous actors and actresses, intrigue, mystery and suspense is THROWN OUT of a theatre in place of stupid, slapstick cat fights? I'm exasperated. I guess I'm going to just have to keep watching the movie trailer on-line until it comes out in DVD. SIGH.
The Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDeOkaCUUI8&feature=related
After that, we decided we'd just go to dinner, which we did. We then went home and watched on DVD an episode of the BBC's "Hetty Wainthrop Investigates" followed by an episode of "Murder She Wrote." Both of which are WAY better than some stupid movie about a cat fight. Hell, we see those in real life every day! (Can you tell I'm bitter about it?!) :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

DC Comics' Jonah Hex Coming to the Big Screen

I've loved the old west since I was a kid. I'm fascinated with Wyatt Earp, and have read every book about him. I've even traveled to many of the towns he lived in, and investigated his history. The movie "Tombstone" is one of my all-time favorites.
Combining the love of the old west with comic books, is a DC Comics character, "Jonah Hex." He's a bounty hunter with a disfigured face, that was once a confederate soldier. I've collected and enjoyed all the comic books about him. NOW, DC Comics is making a movie about him, and I'm excited about it! See below.

Source:The Hollywood Reporter January 6, 2009
Jimmy Hayward, who directed the animated Horton Hears a Who! will make his live-action debut with Jonah Hex, the Warner Bros. western based on the DC Comics character.
Josh Brolin is attached to star in the film, which previously had Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Crank) on board as directors. The duo, who also wrote the script, bowed out over creative differences in November. The studio hopes to put the movie into production in March or April. The character of Hex, known for having the right side of his face disfigured and wearing a Confederate army uniform, was a rough-and-tumble gunslinger and part-time bounty hunter whose adventures always ended in blood. One incarnation of his comic book series saw the Western genre combined with supernatural elements, and it's this aspect that was featured in Neveldine and Taylor's script. Andrew Lazar's Mad Chance and Akiva Goldsman's Weed Road are producing.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Caring for a Sick Dog - Dolly has a Tough Night


Whoever says that a dog is "just a dog and not a member of the family" obviously doesn't know dogs. Last night, our Weimaraner Dolly woke up at 11pm and nuzzled me (I sleep on the edge of the bed, and the dogs sleep on their bed, which is on my side). I thought she got scared by the wind, as she did during the day yesterday. She went back to sleep and woke me again at midnight. I felt her ears and they were cold. I knew she was sick and she wanted to go out, so I let her out in the backyard. Something she ate apparently didn't agree with her. She came back in in 5 minutes, and went back to her bed. At 1am she woke me up again, and I let her out. Again, she needed to go. After coming back in that time, I grabbed some extra blankets and tossed them on the floor with my pillow. Dolly immediately curled up next to me. I heard her tummy gurgling, but she finally slept peacefully with me holding her. We awoke to Tom's alarm clock at 3:45am as usual (so he could get ready for work).
I let Dolly and Franklin out again, and both came back in quickly (it was 27F outside) and hungry. I felt Dolly's ears, and they were warm as they should be. She had purged whatever was troubling her, and actually ate breakfast. I was so happy to see she was feeling better after a tough night.
I tell you this, because my mom and dad treated me this way when I was young. When I was sick, they would stay with me, no matter what ungodly hour of the morning. THAT is how a dog should be loved. Dolly and Franklin are our children, and they deserve no less.

Untie-ing the Tongue Mystery / Captain America

TONGUE UNTIED - On Thursday, I went to see an ear, nose and throat specialist because it's been cumbersome to swallow, the underside of my tongue hurt, and last week part of my tongue was weak. I also found it odd to have the same (left) side of my throat hurt from what is a neck prob the chiropractor is fixing... Anyway, it turns out I have a muscle strain (with multiple muscle spasms) going on in my throat. Last week, I was eating a sandwich and had to open my mouth wide. That caused a painful muscle spasm underneath my chin (in my tongue). It caused a lasting ache that will fade. The spasms also enable me to swallow food fine, but not saliva so easily. Interesting.
The doctor looked into my mouth, examined my tongue, ears, and put a camera scope up my nose. Yeah, it wasn't too much fun, but it cleared any thoughts of other health issues. So, in time, the tongue, neck and all the other irritating things should heal.
CAPTAIN AMERICA- Back in the 1970s when I first started reading comic books, I always liked Captain America. Over time, however, the Steve Rogers character became stale. There wasn't any new direction to take him. Last year, Marvel Comics took a big risk and killed Steve Rogers, replacing him with his former sidekick "Bucky" (also wound up in suspended animation from the 1940s and 50s). Since then, the "new" Captain America is interesting, mysterious and the character has a lot of history to brood over. I've been buying Cap ever since Bucky replaced Steve Rogers, and it's an OUTSTANDING series for the first time in decades. Now, I can't wait for the movie! (See below)
CAPTAIN AMERICA MOVIE "THE FIRST AVENGER" is currently being scripted for a 2001 release. "Based on the Marvel Comics character from the second World War, a mild-mannered young soldier named Steve Rogers volunteers for a special Super Soldier program for the US Army. Donning the colors of Old Glory, Captain America leapt into the hearts and souls of every American bringing hope and justice to a war-weary nation." (source Imdb.com)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Great Video! Uncle Jay Explains: Year-end! 12-22-08

Here's the year 2008 in review, by a talented and funny guy named "Uncle Jay." It was sent to us, and you, too, will enjoy it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWiXy55OHyY

QUICK! - Register your Cell Phone # on "Do Not Call" list

Here in the U.S. all Cell Phone numbers went public yesterday, Wednesday, January 7, 2009 - To avoid getting telemarketer calls that get charged to YOUR minutes, call the Federal Gov't's "Do Not Call" number today from your phone. (This reminder came via email from one of our city councilors!)
REMINDER... all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies this week and you will start to receive sales calls.
..... YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS

To prevent this, call the following number from your cell phone: 888-382-1222. It is the National DO NOT CALL list. It will only take a minute of your time. It blocks your number for five (5) years. You must call from the cell phone number you want to have blocked. You cannot call from a different phone number.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Tongue Trouble Continues

On occasion (since last week), the center part under of my tongue feels odd, like its almost cramping...or curling the front of my tongue underneath toward the back of my mouth. I can't explain it.
Back in 2004, I had a sudafed-caused half-paralysis. I could always take Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) before that without issue. However, one day it paralyzed my right side and put me in the hospital for 4 hours until it wore off. Very scary. Even one side of my tongue was paralyzed. (Pic from the Internet of a weimaraner with a fake tongue) Over the last week, it's been odd moving my tongue from time to time (or at least it feels like it). I've researched it, and found things referencing "Disorders of the 12th cranial nerve (hypoglossal nerve)" cause weakness of the tongue on the affected side. This nerve moves the tongue. INTERESTING. I've gone on to read that it needs an operation to correct (which I'm hoping isn't my case), however, I have to wait until Feb. 5th for an appt. with a neurologist.
What's even more interesting is that the nerve is on the left side of the neck- where I've been experiencing pain lately, too. I think they're connected. I've been going to a chiropractor, because he's noted 4 vertebrae in my neck that aren't as curved as they should be, so I'm undergoing treatment. The pain has been fading in the neck, thanks to the chiropractor, sleeping on a firmer pillow, and muscle pain gel. I'm wondering if the neck strain has affected the hypoglossal nerve. Hopefully, my tongue will work correctly all the time as my neck muscles/vertebrae go back to normal.

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