Thursday, April 30, 2009

Interesting News Today

Here are a couple of interesting things in the news today.
1) From Tom: HOW NOT TO GET "SWINE FLU:"
2) Chrysler to File for Bankruptcy Protection as Credit Talks Crumble Overnight [9:47 a.m. ET]. Well, they should've done that BEFORE!!!
3) Vern Gosdin, great classic country music singer (that I enjoy), died Tuesday night at a Nashville hospital at age 74. He's known for huge hits like "I'm Still Crazy," "Set 'Em Up Joe," and "Chiseled in Stone."
4) SUPERMAN'S HOME - METROPOLIS, ILLINOIS. Worth the Visit! (I've been there).
Superman Celebration is June 11-14, 2009. Justin Hartley and Phil Morris of TV's Smallvile and Noel Neil (Lois Lane from 1950s TV show) to Appear! Metropolis, Illinois is located at the southernmost tip of the state. Metropolis is the official Home of Superman and proudly honors its favorite son with a 15-foot bronze statue of America’s Super Hero right in the middle of Superman Square (where Barrack Obama stopped on his campaign). There's also a Superman Museum, Fort Massac State Park, breathtaking views of the Ohio River and the Shawnee National Forrest.
MORE INFO: http://www.metropolistourism.com/

Q&A on Swine Flu from U.S. Govt Ctr for Disease Control

I received these questions and answers today, and thought I'd share them about Swine Flu from the Center For Disease Control:
What is swine flu?
Swine Influenza (swine flu) is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses that causes regular outbreaks in pigs. People do not normally get swine flu, but human infections can and do happen. Swine flu viruses have been reported to spread from person-to-person, but in the past, this transmission was limited and not sustained beyond three people.
Are there human infections with swine flu in the U.S.? Yes, NY, Ohio, Kansas, Texas, Delaware, Mass., California, possibly Maryland and others (IMAGE: Infection Map- not updated). UPDATE ON INFECTIONS at CDC's WEBSITE: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm

Is this swine flu virus contagious?
CDC has determined that this swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it not known how easily the virus spreads between people.
What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.
What should I do if I get sick?
Stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible.
What should I do to keep from getting the flu? There are everyday actions people can take to stay healthy.
* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough, sneeze, before eating or after touching objects that other people have touched. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
* Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
* Avoid public places or crowds if announced that swine flu is in your area. Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
What should I do to keep from spreading flu to others?
* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
* If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.


What is the best technique for washing my hands to avoid getting the flu?

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. Wash with soap and water. or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner. We recommend that when you wash your hands -- with soap and warm water -- that you wash for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn't need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.
More information can be found at the Center for Disease Control at: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/investigation.htm

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Whatever happened to "Shorts" for the Summer?

We just had a 3 day heatwave here in the Washington/Baltimore area, and Tom and I went out looking for shorts. What we found made me cringe. When the hell did shorts become "Half-Pants"??
First, the Men's Dept.waist sizes start at 34 inches. I take a 30 inch waist, so I had to go to the BOYS' Department.
Second, when I got there, the "shorts" were half pants that went down below my knees. How in the hell is that supposed to keep someone cool in the summertime?
I'd rather just wear jeans and suffer. This is the most stupid fashion I've seen. Summer clothing is supposed to be designed to keep you very cool. Half-pants don't keep you cool. They still make you sweat through your underwear.

If you look at these photos of Matthew McConaughey (who may be cast to play Magnum PI in a movie) from today, side-by-side with the hunky Tom Selleck as Magnum PI from the 1980s, Matthew is wearing those Stupid "Half-Pants." Meanwhile, Tom is wearing what really should be "Shorts." I hope these dumb designers bring back shorts that are comfortable and sensible like those Tom Selleck used to wear. At least they keep you cool when its 90F outside. I'm unsure where those stupid-half pants came from, but they need to disappear forever.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Movie Review: The Spirit on DVD

We just watched "The Spirit" on DVD and it was B- for me. This is a movie about a 1930s comic book superhero, formerly a police officer, that died in action. He was resurrected by an experiment and can't be killed again. He took on the superhero identity of the Spirit.
The director used black and white cinematography to create a dark, mysterious city. Only the Spirit's tie was red (it made for interesting visuals).
The thing that saved it was the actor's muscular hairy chest, which was visible only twice, for a total of 1 minute, sadly. He needed to be shirtless for an hour, and THEN I would've given the movie an "A." I thought it was a little too artistic, and there wasn't enough of a storyline in it until we got more than halfway through the movie to the Spirit's Origin. Still worth watching - just be patient.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The SPCA "Hot"-Dog Walk in Annapolis

We took Franklin and Dolly to the Anne Arundel County SPCA fundraising dog walk yesterday in Annapolis' Quiet Waters Park. These events always seem to find themselves scheduled during severe weather, either thunderstorms, heat waves, or frigid temperatures. Yesterday was Day 2 of a heatwave and temperatures soared into the low 90s (after only being in the mid-50s four days before). We did enjoy walking 1 mile with the "kids" and meeting other Dachshunds like Franklin, and Weimaraners like Dolly. Here are some pictures from the event:



CBS' 60 Minutes Interview with Dolly Parton - fun!

We saw this fun 60 Minutes interview of Dolly Parton on April 5th, and now it's available on-line, so we're posting it. It's 13 minutes long, but funny and very entertaining as Dolly is. It also spotlights her "9 to 5" Broadway musical. Enjoy!

Watch CBS Videos Online

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Happy Pet Parent's Day - April 26


(PHOTO: Franklin the dachshund and Dolly the Weimaraner on our front lawn)
HAPPY PET PARENTS DAY!
Veterinary Pet Insurance has designated the last Sunday in April as Pet Parent's Day. We have VPI Pet insurance for Dolly and Franklin, and it's worth it.
Anyway, their second annual "holiday" celebrates pet caregivers. National Pet Parent's Day recognizes and honors those who lovingly consider their pets part of their close-knit family (Just like WE do!). (PHOTO: Jeff and Gary's "Summer Kitty")

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Part 3: How Dogs Think - book: More Interesting Facts


As I continue to thoroughly enjoy reading "How Dogs think" by Stanley Coren (I recommend it), here are some other things that struck me as very interesting:
1) A DOG'S PAWS ARE SENSITIVE - in the space between the pads on their feet are sensitive nerve endings. That's why dogs don't like getting their feet wiped.
2) DOG'S BIG WHISKERS "VIBRISSAE" - play important parts- Don't cut them! They are very sensitive and register air currents; helps dogs sense near objects (like walls or chairs because of air movement). Very helpful for dogs with bad vision.
3) PERSONALITY DIFFERENCES Male vs. Female: Male dogs were more likely to show dominance over owner; were more playful; more active; territorial; and more likely to snap at children. Females: Easier to housebreak; better at obedience; demand more affection.
4) BREEDS AND LEARNING: A fascinating study with 56 breeds and 199 judges ranked top 3 Most Trainable: Border Collie, Poodle and German Shepherd. Least Trainable: Dandie Dinmont Terrier; Petit Basset Griffon and Vendeen. (I never heard of any of these 3!)
(PHOTO: Franklin and Dolly in a Time-Out!)
5) TIME OUTS WORK: If your dog mis-behaves, put them in a room alone and don't let them out until they stop. If barking say "NO!" and when quiet for 30 seconds, then let out. Dogs WANT to be around people or animals. They don't like being alone.
6) DOGS TRAIN DOGS - If you have an older dog and get a younger dog, the pup will learn from the older dog. It's a fact.
7) DOG INTELLIGENCE - Estimated between a 2 and 4 year old child.
These are highlights, so BUY the book "How Dogs Think" by Stanley Coren. It's great!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Science Has Finally Caught Up with Spiderman

It looks like scientists have finally caught up with Spiderman, and have learned how to create a tough spiderweb, stronger and lighter than steel. Really! In the comics, Peter Parker developed his spiderweb formula and shooters in the 1960s. Who would have thought that almost 40 years later it becomes a reality. The Reuters news story about the new science is below:

(REUTERS) LONDON - Spider silk is already tougher and lighter than steel, and now scientists have made it three times stronger by adding small amounts of metal.
The technique may be useful for manufacturing super-tough textiles and high-tech medical materials, including artificial bones and tendons. "It could make very strong thread for surgical operations," researcher Seung-Mo Lee of the Max Planck Institute of Microstructure Physics in Halle, Germany, said in a telephone interview.
Lee and colleagues, who published their findings in the journal Science, found that adding zinc, titanium or aluminum to a length of spider silk made it more resistant to breaking or deforming. They used a process called atomic layer deposition, which not only coated spider dragline silks with metal but also caused some metal ions to penetrate the fibers and react with their protein structure.
Spider silk has long fascinated scientists but producing it in commercial quantities is difficult because spiders kept in captivity tend to eat each other.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is This National Colonscopy Week?

Am I missing something? Three friends are having colonoscopies this week. Either there's a sale on them, it's National Colonoscopy Week, or my friends and I are all getting to mid-life! Either way, I wish them all well and won't make them the butt of any jokes (ouch!). Seriously, it's a great thing to do and a lifesaver.
On the lighter side of life, and related to that, is a joke Mom F. from Maine sent about a women's butt study. I thought it was funny... but the straight married men may not think so...
(PHOTO: How a bull gives a colonoscopy...not the way to do it!)
Women's Ass Size Study
There is a new study about women and how they feel about their asses; the results were pretty interesting:
30% of women think their ass is too fat............
10% of women think their ass is too skinny.......
PUNCHLINE:
The remaining 60% say they don't care, they love him, he's a good man and they wouldn't trade him for the world.

A Need for Tornado Sirens

PHOTO: Aerial view of the tornado damage in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The tornado cut a 10 mile path through the city. April 10, 2009 (photo GEORGE WALKER IV / THE TENNESSEAN)
Having lived in Tennessee and Kentucky, I was especially horrified by the April 10th tornado in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (south of Nashville on I-24). The tornado damaged or destroyed many homes, took lives, and went on a 23 mile track of destruction.
National Weather Service forecasters issued warnings, but the problem is, as it is here in southern Maryland (that seems to be tornado-prone), that not everyone pays attention to the weather. SO, a network of tornado sirens are needed. People pay attention to those. When I was in school in Kentucky, the sirens went off and people took cover when a tornado was in the area. Otherwise thousands of students would have been open to injury or death.
Unfortunately, for the people in the county where Murfreesboro is, there is one siren in the entire county. That doesn't work. County leaders say they may revisit an idea nearly enacted eight years ago: building a network of sirens to let people know when a tornado warning has been issued. I think they need to work faster and get them up NOW. Other counties that experience tornadoes need them, too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

FDA Confirms Probe of NUTRO Pet Food Deaths, Illnesses


Amber from Wolf Creek Weimaraner Rescue (where Dolly was adopted from) emailed this story to me today. We DO feed Dolly and Franklin Nutro, and last week, Franklin DID throw up several times (as the article mentions...)
FDA Confirms Probe of NUTRO Pet Food Deaths, Illnesses
By Lisa Wade McCormick ConsumerAffairs.com
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed that the agency is investigating NUTRO pet food, following a series of unexplained illnesses and deaths. Consumers have been complaining for more than two years that their pets have become ill after eating NUTRO products; many have recovered when they were switched to other foods. The company has steadfastly denied that its food is to blame.
ConsumerAffairs.com continues to receive complaints about NUTRO from dog and cat owners nationwide. In the past year, we’ve received nearly 500 complaints from pet owners who say their dogs or cats suddenly became ill after eat NUTRO. The problems these pets have experienced are similar: vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive issues.
Most of the complaints mirror one received last week from Linda P. of New Baltimore, Michigan. “For three years, I have been feeding my dog NUTRO Natural Choice Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Small Bites Dry Dog Food,” she said. “The last bag I bought, I notice the food color was lighter than in the past. Me being who I am, I believed there was a changed in formula for the better. My Dachshund/Lab became ill, vomiting food chunks and yellow bile as well. FULL ARTICLE:http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2009/04/nutro_foia.html

Captain America Week / Traffic Today...


TRAFFIC- Today was a banner day for traffic here in the Baltimore/Washington area. Despite just a little shower or two, it took me almost 2 hours to get to work (instead of 1). Wednesdays I drive the dogs to daycare (about 25 mins. north of us, and away from work - which I did. Coming back to work, there was a massive accident that shut down the main highway I take to work, so after bumper to bumper for 30 minutes, I was able to turn around and go a different route, that was also loaded with traffic, but it moved. What is it about rainy days and foolish drivers?
(Image: Captain America Credit: Marvel Comics) CAPTAIN AMERICA SUMMER BEGINS
Captain America has become my favorite Marvel comics superhero, since Steve Rogers, the original Capt. America was killed and his sidekick, Bucky (now all grown up) has become the new Cap. Marvel.com celebrates a star-spangled summer with art, interviews and more centered on Captain America at http://www.marvel.com/ May 20 marks the release of CAPTAIN AMERICA #50, in which the current Cap, Bucky Barnes, marks his birthday by taking a trip down memory lane and reliving his brightest and darkest moments from World War II. THEN - CAPTAIN AMERICA #600 on June 17, set out to answer the question: "Where Were You When Captain America Was Assassinated?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Funny stuff/ Dog contest finale/ Observations

- Well, the "Marley and Me" cutest dog photo contest in the Baltimore Sun is over, and Dolly and Franklin ranked number 8. That wasn't enough for any kind of prize, but it was nice. Thanks to all for voting for our kids!
- I realize that the daily routine of getting up at 4:30am and making Tom and the dogs breakfast, letting them out, packing Tom's lunch and sending him to work- then getting back in bed for 20 mins. with the dogs on the bed, are some of the simple pleasures of life. Heck, at least we can all still get OUT of bed! :)
- Below are some funny snippets of conversation from a man to a woman, sent to us from Mom F. in Maine. She finds the funniest stuff. I especially love the last one.
1) He said to me . . . I don't know why you wear a bra; you've got nothing to put in it I said to him . . . You wear pants don't you?
2) He said to me . . ..... Shall we try swapping positions tonight?
I said . That's a good idea - you stand by the ironing board while I sit on the sofa and fart!
3) He said to me. ... What have you been doing with all the grocery money I gave you?
I said to him . .....Turn sideways and look in the mirror!
4) He said...What do you call a woman who knows where her husband is every night?
I said. . . A widow.
5) He said to me . .. . Why are married women heavier than single women?
I said to him . . . Single women come home, see what's in the fridge and go to bed. Married women come home, see what's in bed and go to the fridge.
6) He said to me. . Why is it difficult to find men who are sensitive, caring and Good- looking? I said to him . . . They already have boyfriends.

Monday, April 20, 2009

White House Garden Tour!

Our friend Lynn B. has connections to the White House, and treated Tom and I and our friend Jeff to a special White House garden tour on Sunday! The White House garden tour happens twice a year, spring and fall. It requires tickets or special invitations (such as we were privilidged to, thanks to Lynn B).





Although many of the flowers weren't blooming yet, because of our colder-than-normal springtime, the tulips were!


(PHOTO: Lynn B., Tom and Rob up close!)
(PHOTO: This is an "Eastern Redbud tree that was grafted with a white tree of the same variety. Yes, it has red/pink and white blossoms from the same tree).








(PHOTO: Here's another picture of some flowers that we thought were really beautiful). Because most of the other flowers (like Azaleas and roses) weren't blooming, the tour wound up being more like a walking tour of trees planted by various presidents. It was interesting. There were two by the elder Bushes, two by the Clintons (dogwoods and a Linden Tree), one by Eisenhower, Hoover, Jackson and John Quincy Adams.

White House Garden Tour Part 2

Here's part 2 of photos from our "White House Garden Tour" yesterday! (PHOTO: This was a nice sitting area just outside the White House and another outside the Oval office)

(PHOTO: These are two dogwoods that the Clintons planted in 1992. Nope, I didn't take photos of the trees the Bush's planted. I simply didn't care!).

(PHOTO: Jeff and Rob waaaay too close up. Quick! Where's the wrinkle cream!?!)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This Weekend's Home Project: The Garage

Tom is the ultimate neat-freak, and that's a great thing. I've never seen a garage so clean and organized in my life as we have (Thanks to Tom). But, it needed drywall repair, cement floor repair, new paint on the walls, and more. So, because it would take us months of weekends, we hired a great contractor to do it. We'll give you his name if you live in Maryland. He's awesome. Above is the "BEFORE" of the garage. Below is the "IN PROGRESS." It's far from over, but it looks great already. Dolly was inspecting it in the photo. The garage is going to look so clean, I told Tom it will look like a show room!
Because the weekend weather was FINALLY nice, we took a 4 hour round trip drive to Tom's grandma's cemetery in Virginia, and brought his mom. We also took the dogs with us, and stopped for breakfast at Panera Bread, sitting outside with the doggies, who enjoyed the attention of many passers by.

Friday, April 17, 2009

PART 2: Dog Senses of Hearing and Smell

(PHOTO: Franklin thinking, "I Wish Daddy Tom would stop running that vacuum cleaner!")
As I continue to thoroughly enjoy reading "How Dogs think" by Stanley Coren (I recommend it), here are some other things that struck me as very interesting:
A DOG'S HEARING - They can hear what people hear, in addition to sounds at higher pitches.
* HIGH PITCHES HURT - Vacuum cleaners emit high pitched sounds that hurt a dog's ears, so they're not afraid of the vacuum cleaner, it annoys their ears!
* LOUD NOISES HURT - Loud Noises hurt a dog's hearing - hunting dogs suffer from hearing loss quickly because their ears go unprotected, while the hunter has ear protection on (when firing his gun). Don't blast your car stereo with your dog inside, either!
* SPOTTED DOGS AND HEARING LOSS - Piebald or spotted dogs have a higher percentage of hearing loss. A large percentage of Dalmations with blue eyes tend to have hearing loss in at least one ear by maturity. Other dogs also have spotted skin and are also piebald, like dachshunds.
* PERSONAL LESSON - Dogs want to chase after loud trucks (like our dachshund Franklin wants to) because the noise bothers them and they want it to stop.
(PHOTO: Dolly the "Snooter!")
A DOG'S SENSE OF SMELL - you know it's much greater than a human's sense of smell.
* YOU SMELL - Every person has their own "smell" usually generated from under their arms or crotch area. That's why dogs go there first. They need to "get to know you by your scent."
* SNIFFING OUT MANY THINGS - Dogs have been trained to smell for cadavers, termites, flammable liquids, natural gas, even cancerous growths!
* BREEDS HAVE DIFFERENT LEVELS OF SNIFFING - Different breeds of dogs have different levels of ability in detecting scents. Dachshunds (like Franklin) have 125 million smell receptor cells, Bloodhounds have 300 million.
* HOW MUCH BETTER THAN HUMANS? - Dogs can identify smells between 1,000 to 10,000 times better than you and me.

Reading: How Dogs Think / I learned how dogs See!

I just bought the book "How Dogs Think" by bestselling author, psychologist, and world-renowned expert on dog behavior and training, Dr. Stanley Coren. It gives an interesting look at the way dogs interpret their world and their owners, how they solve problems, learn, and take in new information. Dr. Coren lets you see through a dog's eyes, hear through his ears, and even sense the world through a dog's nose and more.
I'm only on Chapter 3, but here's what I learned about a Dog's Vision. Take Note!
* Dogs typically have 20/75 vision. (It means people see something clearly at 75 feet, dogs only at 20 feet).
* Dogs sense motion better than people (i.e. spotting a squirrel a great distance)
* Dogs see better than people in dim lighting, due to larger pupils
* Dogs have better peripheral vision than people, 'cause their eyes are more toward the side of their heads... so they see the world in a Panoramic View
* Dogs see Colors! Mostly Blues and Yellows.
* Dogs can't see Red. They see it as Dark Grey.
* Dogs can't see the color difference between electric orange and green (so bright orange balls aren't easy for dogs to find in grass).
HOW PEOPLE SEE RAINBOW COLORS: Violet, Blue, Blue Green, Green, Yellow, Orange, Red
HOW DOGS SEE RAINBOW COLORS: Dark Blue, Light Blue, Grey, Light Yellow, Dark Yellow, Dark Grey.
WHY? People have 3 "cones" in their eyes that enable them to see Blues, Greens and Oranges. (color-blind people like me are missing one cone. I'm missing the green one). Dogs have 2 "cones" in their eyes for Blue and Yellow. (PHOTO: Dolly's pretty green eye)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dolly and Franklin NEED YOUR VOTE...please!

The Baltimore Sun is hosting a MARLEY AND ME "Cute Dog Contest" (in honor of the movie coming out on DVD this month. We submitted Dolly and Franklin's birthday photo, and it currently ranks #5... WE NEED YOUR VOTE PLEASE! - If you give them "5 Paws" that's "top dog" ranking. TO VOTE, CLICK HERE: http://www.gadzoo.com/BaltimoreSun/Contest/ContestRatePhoto.aspx?ContestID=207&ContestEntryID=21402 Thank you!
CAPTION: A Barking Birthday Bash! Our Weimaraner Dolly and our Dachshund Franklin love celebrating birthdays, as they did here for Franklin's 3rd. Always with toys, treats, walks, and a trip to Petsmart or Petco!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Amazing Singer Stuns "Britain's Got Talent" Show-

WOW. This video of the British version of "American Idol" was sent to me today from Tom and our friend Jeff. It will bring tears to your eyes as it did to mine. This is a woman who doesn't appear to be anyone out of the ordinary, but I assume you, she's extraordinary. WATCH HER PERFORMANCE HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY Susan Boyle, described as a "frumpy, unemployed, 47 year old woman" wowed the judges with her performance in the auditions for Britain's Got Talent, singing I dreamed a dream from Les Miserables. A Wonderful Song Sung by Susan Boyle... The Audience was laughing before starting the song... after the song the audience were silent, with smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes and a standing ovation. Of course the judges gave her 3 Yes votes.

Update on Cooper - from his new parents

(PHOTO: Cooper, left and Lucy, right)
Our foster dog Cooper is doing great in his permanent home! We're very happy to hear that, and I was touched by reading Bob and Arlene's (his new dad and mom) update: Everything is going great, Lucy (their blind 9 year old wirehaired dachshund) and Cooper are getting closer and closer. Lucy panics if she loses him - she starts frantically walking around the room, presumably using her nose to locate him. Cooper
watches the whole thing, as if to say, "gee - I hope she finds what she is looking for." When she finds him, she inspects him with her nose, which Cooper is fine with.
Cooper went to our vet on Saturday and of course he charmed the entire staff. On Tuesday, April 14th this photo was taken and the dogs didn't even have to be put together for it!

More Home Improvements - and 2 Company's Customer Service

Since Sunday, we've had two more home improvement projects done. What's interesting is the Customer Service between the two of them. The first project was getting all of the flower beds around the house mulched. Last year it took us a month of weekends, so Tom and I decided to hire someone. He encountered a gentleman named Francesco at the Metro (subway) handing out a flyer for his landscaping company. Francesco made an appointment with us, arrived on time last Friday, walked around the house and gave an estimate. Tom accepted it, and Francesco arrived Sunday evening with 3 of his sons and started laying down the mulch. They did an excellent and meticulous job, but didn't finish before the sun went down. Tom paid them in total anyway, and true to their word, they returned Monday during the day and finished. All of the flower beds, and there are a LOT because Tom loves gardening, look fantastic. Francesco and his sons did a fantastic job. He just reinforced the incredible determined work ethic of Hispanic people. Francesco and his crew worked very hard, and were very detailed, and kept their promises. Here are some photos of just 2 of the flower beds. The second project was working with Atlantic Remodeling to get a matching window installed in our front bedroom, to match the three we had installed in the front living room area back in January. Tom met with the salesman over a month ago at the house. The salesman wrote everything down and measured, assuring Tom we'd get the same window. Today, the installer arrived and the window was perfect. In fact, we requested the same installer (he's from Australia and moved here years ago) because he's also detail-oriented and wonderful.
What I didn't notice was that Atlantic gave us only a half-screen. It should've been a full screen to match the others. Now, we have to chase them to get the full screen. Last time after the other windows were installed it took weeks to get a reply by phone. Hopefully it won't take that long this time. (PHOTO: The new window)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Went to the Maureen McGovern Concert -An Artsy, Political Presentation

Back in the late 1970s, Maureen McGovern became famous for pop music hits like "(There's Got to Be) A Morning After" from the Poseidon Adventure, and "Can You Read My Mind" the love theme from 1978's first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve. For TV watchers, she also had a hit with the love theme from the TV show Angie (from 1980) called "Different Worlds." She came to Washington, DC, and Tom bought us tickets to see her on Easter Sunday. Below is Tom's review, then mine! - Rob
(PHOTO: Maureen McGovern in the 1980s)
(TOM'S CONCERT REVIEW): Sunday afternoon, Rob & I went to see Maureen McGovern in concert. She is on tour with her one woman show entitled “Maureen McGovern: A Long and Winding Road.” This was not really a concert per se, but rather bordered on being performance art.
It is my humble opinion that audiences are either uncomfortable or ill-informed when it comes to viewing performance art; so they misunderstand the appropriateness of applause – when it is necessary and when it is not. Moments of silence intended to be times of reflection on what had just been presented are marred by the nervous and awkward clapping of the uneducated. Ms. McGovern’s carefully scripted monologue was intermittently interrupted by song – mostly covers of songs that were popular in the day – set against a photo montage of old family photos and 8 mm home movie clips.
The first half of the performance was filled with nostalgia and easy to relate to and there were bits of comedic repartee here and there. But the second half became moody, somber, and bordered on being the diatribe of a bitter and wronged woman. Ms. McGovern related the personal tragedies of a failed marriage, not being able to find a new and lasting romantic interest, a ruptured blood vessel on her vocal cords that almost cost her her career, and greedy managers and sundry other producers robbing her blind through trickery and small print in contracts. But through it all, she has retained her beautiful four-octave voice and a sensitivity and phrasing that only comes through maturity and a 37-year music career. (PHOTO: Maureen McGovern in 2009) Her rendition of “Let it Be” while juxtaposed over the sorrow of losing her best friend in the shooting at Kent State was, for me, a truly moving experience. While remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the images from that summer day when he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech were flashed up on the scrim. Since there was not a black person in attendance, it seemed odd to me that she would include this in her repertoire or who the intended audience might be. But more importantly, for me, it really emphasized that there was a time in this country’s not so distant past that blacks, and whites, and people of all colors came together for a moment of solidarity to achieve a common goal – to purge society’s injustice and to give the down trodden a fair shake at the American dream. What has really crushed my spirits, and saddens me beyond words, is how much that dream has been squelched and squandered by an ungrateful segment of our population with an unwarranted sense of entitlement and a “here’s my thumb in your eye” attitude. I don’t believe that I was the only one in attendance that withheld nervous applause during this segment. Ms. McGovern’s closing number was a cover of John Lennon’s beautifully worded “Imagine” while images of President Obama’s inaugural were flashed behind her. In the final words of the performance, Ms. McGovern said, “Miracles do happen.” While some people may believe President Obama’s election to have been a miracle, I personally believe that, rather than being an act of Providence that caused these events into being, it was more likely due to hard work, perseverance, and the fact that this was the right time.
ROB'S REVIEW:
If you're going to hear Ms. McGovern's hits, "The Morning After" and "Can You Read My Mind" you'll be disappointed (like I was). If you go, don't go expecting a concert, but carefully constructed work of art. I personally thought she was personable, humorous and reflective, bitter over romance, and artsy. I still think she could've worked in her two big hits during her 80s segment to please dumber people like me!

Happy Birthday Loretta Lynn!

Today, April 14th, Loretta Lynn celebrates her 74th birthday! Every time someone has a birthday, we try to remember to play her song "Happy Birthday(, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year)." Of course, it's about a woman leaving her lying, cheating boyfriend, but it's the only Happy Birthday song she sang! :)
She's still kicking out the songs. Here's the latest from Nashville (and Jeff F. who adores Loretta -we've seen her together in concert about 4 times):
Elvis Costello will release a new, roots-oriented album titled 'Secret, Profane & Sugarcane' on June 2 on Hear Music. Emmylou Harris offers harmony on one track, and Loretta Lynn co-wrote one of the songs, "I Felt the Chill," with Costello. The album was produced by T Bone Burnett and recorded in three days in Nashville.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Nothing Like Dog Hug and Kiss Now and Then

There is nothing like being loved, and the unconditional a dog shows is a wonderful gift. Here are a couple of our favorite pictures from recently and the past!

(PHOTO: When Daddy Rob drove to Tennessee to adopt Dolly, his friend Jeff accompanied him on the 10 hour journey. Here's a photo of Dolly's first hug and kiss with her uncle Jeff back in March 2005. Dolly was only 3 1/2 months old here.)








(PHOTO: Franklin gives Daddy Tom a kiss)





(PHOTO: Dolly loves to hug. She knew how to do that as a pup. Here she gives Daddy Tom a big hug and a kiss in the kitchen)

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