Sunday, January 31, 2010

Renovation Update!


The bathroom renovation is nearing completion. On Friday, the tiles on the floor and walls were grouted, and the sink and toilet were reinstalled! They work, too. In the first photo, you can see the inside of the shower in the reflection of the mirror. The shower is not complete yet, but at this point after 3 months with one bathroom, we're happy to have a working sink and toilet!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

SNOW...


Today, we're under another Winter Storm Warning. The snowstorm that was supposed to stay mostly to our south has moved a little more north, so we're now expecting between 3 and 7 inches of snow.
After a fun breakfast with Steve and Jane at Panera, we made it home by 10am just as the roads were getting snow covered. The high temp reached 19 degrees Fahrenheit today... and was still there at 3 p.m. ET. Here's photographic proof- our back porch with the thermometer in the top left corner of the photo. So far, we've got about 2-3" of snow... and the Warning is effective until 4am Sunday morning.

My First Book Signing: Feb 21 at Barnes and Noble!


You're invited to my first book signing!
I'll be joining a number of other local authors there, so there will be plenty of new books to check out.
WHERE: It's going to take place at the BARNES AND NOBLE in Annapolis, Maryland.
WHEN: Sunday, February 21, from 2-4 p.m. ET
ADDRESS: 2516 Solomon's Island Rd., Annapolis, MD 21401, Tel. 410-573-1115
Come out and say hello! After all, you never know who may also be there that you can't see. :)
DIRECTIONS: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=2516+Solomon%27s+Island+Rd.+Annapolis,+MD+21401&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=2516+Solomons+Island+Rd,+Edgewater,+MD+21037&gl=us&ei=AVtkS6epEtCklAfW_K2UCg&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CAsQ8gEwAA

Friday, January 29, 2010

Huge Progress on the Renovated Bathroom

Our small first floor bathroom is still being renovated, but since we fired the contractor and hired the subcontractors directly, there's been a HUGE amount of progress. Today, they finished laying the floor tile, and grouted the floor and the wall tiles! In addition, the glass partition we ordered to provide light into the bathroom from the kitchen arrived and was installed. Here are photos of the grouted floor, and the glass partition looking at it from the bathroom side and from the kitchen side (orange wall). We're getting very excited. Of course, the shower isn't done, and there's no sink or toilet in it, but it's alot closer to being done!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lump found on Dolly - updated

UPDATE -POST-VET VISIT: I just returned from the vet, and she confirmed that it's a fatty deposit.
She told me to watch it for "quick growth" over the next couple of weeks...So, my mind is eased. Thanks so much for your emails, facebook notes, etc. It's such a blessing to have such great friends.

PREVIOUS POST:
I was playing with our 5 year old Weimaraner, Dolly, this morning and noticed a quarter-sized fatty lump at the bottom of Dolly's chest area. It's not bleeding or oozing, so that's a good sign, however, I'm trying not to get panicked over it. Dolly already had major surgery a couple of years ago for urinary tract issues (which the surgery has fixed).
Our friends Todd and Erica's Weimaraner, Beamer recently had the same thing and it was a fatty deposit. They had it safely removed from the vet.
I don't know if Weims tend to get fatty deposits especially in that area, but it seems odd. Also, Beamer is also around the same age.
I'm hoping it's a fatty deposit, because I tend to panic. I also think it would be best to have it removed ASAP, before it can grow or become something worse. However, I'll do whatever is best for Dolly. We now have a 4pm appt. at the Vet today.
IMPORTANT NOTE FROM CATHY IN PA: All three of my previous weimaraners had fatty deposit lumps. Only one had to be removed. My vet said that most dogs get them when they get older and because of the weims short hair you see them more than in dogs with longer fur. Hope all goes well at the vets.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bathroom Renovation Progress!

Since we hired the subcontractor and his brother, we've seen tremendous progress in our bathroom (now on Week #10). Today, they laid tile on a couple of the walls, installed the switch plates, installed the brand new bathroom door, and the tile on the shower floor! We're very excited to see it finally starting to come together.


So.Carolina Dachshund Saves Neighbor's Life!

What a great story from South Carolina! -
It was one in the morning on January 10th when the red smooth dachshund hero named 'Peanut' started pacing at the back door of his Columbia, South Carolina home. His human certainly didn't know that the neighbor's house was on fire, and neither did Sandra Harrell, the sleeping neighbor, as an electrical shortage had disabled her smoke alarms. VIDEO:

Article: Divorce Rates Higher in States with Gay Marriage Bans

Here's a fascinating article (thanks to Jason for sending it to us) from "FiveThirtyEight-Politics Done Right":
ARTICLE: Divorce Rates Higher in States with Gay Marriage Bans Over the past decade or so, divorce has gradually become more uncommon in the United States. Since 2003, however, the decline in divorce rates has been largely confined to states which have not passed a state constitutional ban on gay marriage. These states saw their divorce rates decrease by an average of 8 percent between 2003 and 2008. States which had passed a same-sex marriage ban as of January 1, 2008, however, saw their divorce rates rise by about 1 percent over the same period.
The table below details the divorce rates for the 43 states that reported their divorce statistics to the CDC in both 2003 and 2008. It is calculated by taking the total number of divorces in the state that year, and dividing it by the number of married persons, as reported by the Census Bureau. The result is then multiplied by two, since each divorce involves two people. This is different than how the divorce rate is sometimes calculated, which may be as a share of the overall population rather than the number of married persons; I prefer my approach because it will not penalize a state for having a lot of marriages (and therefore more opportunities for divorce). However, there are also more complicated versions of the divorce rate calculation that account for the age of the married couples, and so forth; these are probably superior, but mine is intended to be a simple approach. The table also lists the percentage change in the divorce rate between 2003 and 2008, and the current status of gay marriage and domestic partnerships within each state.


FULL ARTICLE: Divorce Rates Higher in States with Gay Marriage Bans

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Residual Haunting at Pres. Lincoln's Summer Home


LINCOLN'S SUMMER HOME IN WASHINGTON, DC -
A couple of weekends ago, Tom and I went to visit "Lincoln's Summer Home, in Washington, D.C. It was a summer home originally built by George Washington Riggs, born 1813. Riggs had the home built north of Washington, DC to get away from the downtown area (at the time). Now the city has swallowed the area around it. Riggs was a co-founder of Riggs Bank, member of the board of aldermen of the District of Columbia, and a board member of the Corcoran Gallery. When William Wilson Corcoran retired in 1854 and Riggs bought his interest and, under the firm name of Riggs & Company (since 1896 Riggs Bank), directed the business until his death in 1881.
Riggs was the original owner of a 34 room cottage on a hilltop overlooking downtown Washington, D.C. The Gothic-Revival style cottage was built for Mr. Riggs in 1842 on a large estate that served as his "country seat." In 1851, the U.S. government purchased the property to establish quarters for disabled war veterans (a purpose the property serves to this day).

Now known as "President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home," it is a National Trust Historic Site, and a private, non-profit organization. The Cottage is the most significant historic site directly associated with Lincoln’s presidency aside from the White House. During the Civil War, Lincoln resided seasonally at the Soldiers’ Home, just over three miles north of the Capitol. He lived at the Soldiers’ Home for a quarter of his presidency. Here he thought through the course of the war, re-election, and emancipation. We learned a lot about how President Lincoln used the home to get away from the union soldiers who were lined up and drilling outside the White House. Lincoln and his family enjoyed summers at this home.

While we were touring the house, I got a dull headache in the back of my head, indicating that there was a ghost or spirit there. When we went into the lefthand living room (where there is a fireplace) I immediately got stomach pains, indicating that there was a ghost there that was conveying to me how they passed. I couldn't tell if it was male or female. When I left that room, I didn't feel the stomach pains anymore. I didn't feel the ghost anywhere else in the house but sensed that it was residual energy of a person that passed there from stomach problems. It was not an intelligent haunting.
At the end of the tour, I asked the docent about anyone passing while living in the house. She mentioned that one of George Riggs' daughter's had passed in the home, but couldn't tell me what she died from. I think it may have been one of the wounded civil war soldiers that were living in the adjacent soldier's home. I'm waiting to hear back from the docent to find out who may have died from stomach-related issues.
For the President Lincoln’s Cottage official website, go to http://www.lincolncottage.org/

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Contractor Woes

Have you ever hired a contractor only to experience that they:
1) Don't meet the deadline
2) Don't buy the supplies
3) Spend all your cash way ahead of time
4) Don't pay the people they employ
Well - that's our experience with trying to remodel our first floor bathroom (and paint the kitchen).
The contractor who built our really cool 3-window dormer did a great job and was on-time and on budget. Not the case for remodeling our small 1st floor bathroom. He's apparently dealing with an ill elderly mother, who needs 24 hour care and can't get it, so it's fallen on his family. However, he hasn't responded to many calls until last Monday, when Tom got ahold of him and fired him from the job. Why? Because his sub-contractor (the only 1 working) were:
1) Told by the contractor not to come back
2) Not paid for 10 days work.
The subcontractor came to us last weekend and said his attorney instructed him to place a mechanic's lien on our house (you can do that in this state) - where someone does work in your house, and the contractor that hires them doesn't pay them (even though we paid the contractor).
How fair is that to the homeowner? Well, it's not, but when the contractor (who has our cash) won't pay his worker, and won't answer his phone, we have no choice but to double pay.
So, we've fired the contractor, hired the subcontractor, and are paying almost double for the small bathroom...all to replace the tub with a shower and tile the bathroom. All the new fixtures that the contractor was also paid to buy, he didn't - so we had to buy those, too. We've also been buying the building supplies, paint, etc. for the subcontractor.
It was promised for completion by Dec. 18, when our friend Darold moved in (from Florida). He accepted a job in DC, and is moving into his own place next month -meanwhile all three of us share our guest bathroom.
The bottom line: this little bathroom is months behind in completion and it has been an expensive nightmare.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Great Photos of What Dogs around the world are doing today

Reuters News Wire always has a series of photos around the world every day, and today, most of them were about dogs and dog-related things. I especially love the photo from Austria, with the snow falling and the beautiful building in the backdrop. Click on the links to see them, and have a "Doggone great day!"

TODAY'S ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS PICTURES:
AUSTRIA: A Woman With A Dog Walks Over Heldenplatz Square In Front Of The Historic Hofburg Palace During Snowfall In Vienna
http://planetark.org/wen/56455


SWITZERLAND: Unda, A Rescue Dog, Digs Into A Hiding Place During An Avalanche Search And Rescue Drill In Nendaz
http://planetark.org/wen/56454

UK: A Sled Dog Waits In The Snow Before This Weekend's Sled Dog Rally In Aviemore, Scotland
http://planetark.org/wen/56458

UK: A Competitor Practices On His Sled Before This Weekend's Sled Dog Rally In Aviemore, Scotland
http://planetark.org/wen/56456

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Reiki is Great for Dogs

I know a Reiki therapist here in Maryland named Faye - who does wonders with dogs and cats. There was an article in a newspaper about how Reiki is used to calm dogs who get anxious over things like getting their nails trimmed, ears cleaned, or even thunderstorm fears. Thought I'd share part of it.

When Susan Czemmel lights the lavender incense and soy candles, turns on soothing New Age music, dims the lights and spreads a mat on the floor, her black Labrador retriever comes over and lies down. NestlĂ© knows it’s time for bliss – 20 minutes of Reiki. Czemmel, the owner of a shop in Massachusetts introduces pets and pet owners to this ancient Japanese technique, which promotes relaxation and healing.
Reiki uses 12 basic hand positions and the setting of intentions to channel energy in the universe to the recipient – man or beast. It involves a light placement of the hands, not a massage-like workout. “Today, everyone is under stress, including our pets,” Czemmel said.
“Bringing them relaxation can reduce all kinds of emotional and physical ailments and increase the bond between pet and guardian. Reiki doesn’t take the place of conventional medicine, it complements it.”
After leg surgery in May, one dog recovered faster and without pain medication because of daily Reiki energy healing, Czemmel said. Reiki’s calming effect also helped her chocolate Labrador retriever, Henry, tolerate ear exams and cleaning. And through Reiki, Czemmel formed stronger bonds with her shy cats, former strays, who now “jump up on my lap when I start doing Reiki on them,” she said. FULL ARTICLE: http://www.patriotledger.com/features/x1530318831/Reiki-for-Rover

Finding the Best Forecasts On-Line

If you're wondering about good weather forecast websites, here are a couple:
Two of the Best Forecast Web Sites - these are two of the best:
1)The National Weather Service: http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?CityName=Washington&state=DC&site=LWX&textField1=38.895&textField2=-77.0373&e=1
2) Intellicast (by WSI): http://www.intellicast.com/
I personally bookmark the local National Weather Service forecast office page on my computer and have it as my "home page."

IF YOU WANT FORECASTS EMAILED TO YOU -
1) The Weather Channel (*I recommend them): https://registration.weather.com/ursa/alerts/step1
2) There's also Accuweather, but - In my opinion as a forecaster they're not as accurate.
http://www.accuweather.com/alerts/index.asp

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Inspirational Dolly Parton!


Happy Birthday Dolly Parton!
Today, Dolly Parton celebrates her 64th birthday. Why is that important to me(Rob)?
She's been an amazing and powerful influence on my attitude, personality and outlook on life. Dolly is the greatest. She's not only one of the most talented people in the world, but a perfect role model, too. When I first saw her in 9 to 5 and listened to her talk about being optimistic and loving everyone (until they screw it up), I knew I could have that same outlook, and it's helped me thoroughly enjoy life. Every time I hear Dolly talk or sing, it makes me smile and feel good. I love the way she makes fun of herself, loves others, makes people feel comfortable, welcomes people of all lifestyles and walks of life and enjoys life. If only everyone would learn that, the world would be a better place.

In fact, that's why our Weimaraner is named Dolly!
For Dolly's web page: www.dollyon-line.com/
Happy Birthday, Dolly!
Here's a video of Dolly singing "Here You Come Again" from her recent "Live in London" tour. Enjoy!

Monday, January 18, 2010

If it's supposed to feel like a day off, it doesn't...

If it's supposed to feel like a day off, it doesn't. I've been running around all day.
It was dry outside today, so I walked the dogs this morning about 1 mile. Then, our subcontractors, now contractors (THAT story will be written in the next couple of days- what a mess!) arrived to work on the bathroom and paint the kitchen.
Because of the contractor/subcontractor mess, we now have to buy the supplies - so while Tom had to go to work, I went to Home Depot and bought 3 gallons of paint. I also went to order the interior door for the bathroom, but they couldn't order it, despite what the manufacturer's website indicated. So, after 25 minutes with the Home Depot employee, we figured that out. I called Tom and he then wound up ordering it over the phone to be delivered to a nearby lumber company.
I returned home and made lunch for Darold (who is also off today), dropped off the paint, walked the dogs for another Mile, then went to Lowes and bought crown molding and a roll of plastic for the contractors to use when painting/smoothing out the walls to paint.
I can't prepare dinner because Pete smoothed out the drywall patch (or whatever it's called) in the kitchen, so there's dust all over the kitchen. When the contractors are done, I'll be vacuuming, dusting, mopping, etc. This is quite the "day off!" :) At least it's one of a lot of progress!

Watching the Book in Sales Rankings / A Great Review!

I'm learning a lot about the world of publishing, like if you self-publish in a "print-on-demand" manner, as it is with my book "Ghosts and Spirits: Insights from a Medium," if you do book signings, you either have to buy them from the publisher and sell them in a store on consignment, or have the store buy them, and you buy up the unsold copies.
Meanwhile, the publisher's website (Virtualbookworm.com) is selling the book (I HIGHLY recommend them!); as is BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com among many others.
I checked the sales rank on the book (although I won't know how well the book is financially selling until 90 days after a given month) on Barnes and Noble.com and Amazon.com. Here are those standings today:
1) BarnesandNoble.com Sales Rank: 92,581 (out of how many, I don't know)
http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?box=9781602645134%20&pos=-1&EAN=9781602645134
2) Amazon.com Sales Rank: #68,890 in Books (See Bestsellers in Books) ***WHAT IS INTERESTING? Yesterday, it ranked somewhere like 386,400 on Amazon!***
Popular in this category: Books > Religion & Spirituality > Occult > Supernatural, it ranks #30!! (THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE TO ME!)
http://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Spirits-Insights-Rob-Gutro/dp/1602645132/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1262792014&sr=8-1

A GREAT REVIEW! - If you buy a book on Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com, you can write a review. The first (and only) review on Amazon so far choked me up!
Here it is:
By Samantha Realynn Deshong "wolf maiden" (Pennsylvania)
Amazon Verified Purchase
I've read plenty of books dealing with spirits, ghosts and the like while experimenting and exploring my own gifts. I have to say that none of them ever really delved into the detail and personal level that this books does. It offers a more distinctual look at the supernatural elements around us and how they work. The scientific aspect of it was insightful and answered a lot of questions that I had that other books could not. I give this one 5 stars! A must-read for budding mediums and other psychics, or even if you just want a good source of info about the supernatural!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Wacky Night of Drag Bingo

Saturday night we did something we've never done - we went to a "Drag Bingo" fundraiser. No, we don't ever, will never, have never dressed in drag. We don't do that- but the host/hostesses of the event did. It was quite an adventure.
We were joined by Tom's parents!! (yes, they came and had never been before); and our friends Jeff, Darold, Mark, Garth and Michael. I (Rob) won a $20 game, and so did Tom's stepdad, Bob. In between the three Bingo sessions 3 different drag queens lip synched songs (that weren't known to Tom and I, but Jeff and Darold knew them).
Of course, sometimes the drag queens were pretty "over the top" and I was totally embarrassed, although the other guys just laughed a lot.

(PHOTO: Tom and Rob with a bingo card)

(PHOTO: This is our drag queen hostess. She was a hoot.)

(PHOTO: Now here's a photo we'd never thought we'd see. Tom's mom with a drag queen standing nearby. Tom's mom was a hoot - she even gave the drag queen a dollar after her lip synch. We laughed a lot over that one!).

(PHOTO: Darold and Jeff enjoying watching one of the drag queens dance past our table)

(PHOTO: Mark and Garth enjoying the games and wacky drag queens)

(PHOTO: Jeff gave the very limber African-American drag queen a dollar as she sang a song by "Lady Gaga")

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ed's Spirit Joins us for Lunch

Tom's late partner Ed joined us for lunch today in Washington, DC. Ed passed 12 years ago, and he and Tom were together for many years. Today, Robert L., a friend that Tom knew when Ed was alive, came to Washington, DC for an event, and we met him for lunch.
Robert relayed several stories of Ed's spirit visiting him in his house in central Virginia over the last 12 years, and today was the first time that Robert and Tom were physically in the same room since Ed's services 12 years ago.

(PHOTO: L to R: Robert L., Rob (me), Tom)
After picking Robert up at the hotel where he was staying, we went to lunch at a Ruby Tuesdays restaurant. After ordering, Robert and Tom started talking about Ed. Then I started getting my tell-tale headache in the back left part of my head- which indicates a ghost or spirit is around. It was Ed and he let me know. Ed's spirit suddenly filled me with feelings of his love and friendship for Tom and Robert. Although I couldn't see him, I sensed him sitting in the chair right next to Robert (Tom and I were sitting on the other side of the table facing Robert and the empty chair that now had Ed's spirit in it).
Ed conveyed a couple of messages to me. He said that he "screwed up," and did something that led to his passing in his 30s. He also said to tell Robert and Tom to stop talking about the funeral and wake and talk about the "funny things" they used to do together. Ed filled me with so much emotion while I was sitting there, that I teared up.
As Robert conveyed some of the stories about Ed, I sensed him sitting in the chair, sometimes I had to "check with him" to make sure he was still there - he was. As we were served lunch, Ed said "Tell them I love 'em" and then he told me to ask them about a "small silver car." I had no idea what that meant.
When I mentioned it, Tom recalled that Ed had a small silver car that he used to put his landscaping tools and even a lawnmower in! That silver car was Ed's way of proving to all of us that he was indeed sitting with us over lunch today.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Breaking News: Court Victory for Marriage Victory in DC

Finally! Somebody actually gets Equal Rights! YAY! YAY! YAY!
Breaking News: Court Victory for Marriage Victory in DC
The Superior Court of the District of Columbia today found in favor of the DC Board of Elections and Ethics which refused to put an anti-gay initiative on the ballot. D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith N. Macaluso said the board's action was justified because the initiative, which sought to define marriage in the District as between one man and one woman, violated the city’s 1977 Human Rights Act, which prohibits such discrimination:
[I]t is clear that a community cannot by initiative authorize discrimination as a matter of government policy. -- Judge Maculuso's decision reads, quoting from a DC committee report.
The District of Columbia City Council passed a bill last month that would allow same-sex couples marry. The law, which is pending a period of review by Congress, will take effect 30 legislative days from Monday, January 11, 2010.
To view the Court's ruling, in its entirety, please use the following link:
http://lgbtbar.org/documents/JacksonvDCBoardofElectionsandEthics.pdf

China paper splashes nation's 'first gay marriage'

THIS is a very big surprise to us- that CHINA is allowing gay marriage (despite it not having a legal basis yet)- and the Chinese newspapers are reporting it in a place where it used to be taboo! Tom and I say: Once again, instead of being a world leader, the U.S. will lag behind on social issues. This is pretty shocking that a communist country sanctions Gay marriage before the U.S. Eventually the U.S. will be shamed into it. After the Supreme Court decision earlier this week, we're not holding out much hope that even the U.S. Supreme Court will do what's right.

China paper splashes nation's 'first gay marriage'
State press splashed a front-page photo of China's first publicly "married" gay couple on Wednesday -- the latest sign of new openness about homosexuality in a country where it has long been taboo.
The page-one story in the English-language China Daily featured a photograph of the "newlyweds" arm-in-arm during a January 3 ceremony. Zeng Anquan, 45, and Pan Wenjie, 27, tied the knot at a gay bar in the southwestern city of Chengdu, the paper said, calling it "the first such public event in the country".
Homosexuality remains a sensitive issue in China. It was officially considered a form of mental illness as recently as 2001. Same-sex marriages or civil unions have no legal basis. "We are no longer hiding any more. The wedding is our happiest and most precious moment," Zeng, a divorced architect, told the paper. "Thousands of gays and lesbians get married in France, Finland, the UK. Why couldn't we?" FULL STORY: http://www.terradaily.com/reports/China_paper_splashes_nations_first_gay_marriage_999.html

Thursday, January 14, 2010

MD Delegate Burns - Trying to Burn Gay Marriage

How did I spend 36 minutes of lunchtime today? Talking to Maryland State Delegate Emmett Burns, Jr. (D-Baltimore County) on the phone. He has introduced legislation (House Bill 90) to invalidate marriages between same-sex couples validly entered into in another state (like the one we have) or in a foreign country, declaring that "marriages between individuals of the same sex are against the public policy of the State." The bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee.
Burns' bill basically means that even though there is longstanding legal precedent in Maryland that couples who have been legally married in another state should be treated as fully married, LGBT couples would continue to be an exception, thereby creating yet another area of law in which we are discriminated against.
I had a civil conversation with Delegate Burns who kept telling me that I have issues with Maryland's current law against permitting gay marriage (of course I do). I told him we're fighting for equal rights under the law.
Although he told he has "a few gay friends" I find that rather hard to believe. I likened the equal rights for gay people to African Americans, of which he said that there is "no similarity." His argument was that "gay people can hide but black men can't hide their blackness." That made no sense to me. Further, he tossed out "Sodom and Gomorrah" from the Bible, which was in fact, a sin of inhospitality (read your Bible). I told him this is not a religious issue, but a civil one.
He did pause when I told him that growing up in the 1960s, 70s and 80s gay people had to hide who they were, because they were fired from jobs, beaten or even killed (It's all still happening today). He didn't know that. I told him I worked for a company in New England where 3 hateful women kept trying to "out" me and get me fired, although it was none of their business (and I didn't even date then!).
He ended the conversation by asking, "So, who makes all the decisions in the house? Who is in the man's role?" I told him in our relationship we make decisions together. He said "Someone MUST say "No!" and I told him if one person is uncomfortable with anything, then we skip it. He didn't seem to get that mutual respect thing, as he said that he is the man of his house. It's the "old school" Bible train of thought. Sigh.
He also brought up "what's next... legalizing marriage to my sister, or how about a horse? Should that be legal?" I told him royalty already tried the inbreeding thing and it caused a lot of health issues. Marrying an animal is just ridiculous, but that's the mind set of anti-gay marriage proponents.
He brought up the "between man and woman" and God issue. I told him marriage is a civil right, and straight people do it outside of churches, just as gay people should. That didn't move him either.
At the end of the conversation, I told him that gay people don't "choose" to be gay. He thought gay people chose to be gay. I told him when I was a kid I knew it, and I prayed and prayed not to be- but we are who we are. I'm proud of who I am become today. I left him with a suggestion that he look up what the American Psychological Society says about gay people, that it is NOT a choice. I asked him "would you choose to endure being hated and discriminated against when you have a choice?" His answer was, "I was discriminated against." So, I guess if he had to endure it, so should others.
He said, "So, it's all about getting the benefits, then?" Yes it is. The same benefits that he and his wife get. We all deserve the same equal treatment.
You can send him a note here, he was pretty civil, although we totally disagree:
http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/06hse/html/msa12194.html

The Stupidity Keeps Coming: Pat Robertson

Here's yet another reason why these Evangelical preachers need to keep quiet. The stupidity of these comments is unbelievable. Other religious people even think Robertson needs to go.
Pat Robertson Haiti Comments Spark Uproar - CBS NEWS: On his Christian Broadcasting Network show yesterday, Rev. Pat Robertson said that the nation of Haiti has been devastated by a large earthquake because its people "made a pact with the devil." "Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," Robertson said. "They were under the heel of the French ... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.'" "True story," he continued. "And the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another."
Robertson is infamous for such inflammatory statements. And not surprisingly, the reaction to the controversial pastor's comments has been harsh. David Waters, editor of the Washington Post's "On Faith" online column, said the time has come for Roberston to stop. Rev. Paul Raushenbush, the religion editor for the Huffington Post, gave Robertson a harsher directive: "Go to Hell, Pat Robertson -- and the sooner the better," he wrote. "Your 'theological' nonsense is revolting. Don't speak for Haiti, and don't speak for God. Haiti is suffering a catastrophe and you offer silliness at best, and racism at the worst."
FULL STORY: http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2010/01/14/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry6096806.shtml?tag=stack

VIDEO: A sanctuary for special disabled dogs in Maryland

This story from NBC News highlights a couple that our friend Sarah works with here in Maryland. The couple takes in disabled dogs and runs a "camp" or home for them, with volunteer contributions. (Time: 3:46).
Joyce Darrell and her husband Michael Dickerson have devoted their lives to dogs, but not just any dogs. Tucked away on a farm in Maryland lies a loving sanctuary they created for special-needs animals. When I say "special," I mean every dog here is either crippled or blind. Their nonprofit organization is called Pets With Disabilities and since their mission of the heart began 10 years ago, they have saved and assisted in helping hundreds of dogs.
TO ADOPT, DONATE OR VOLUNTEER, go to: http://www.petswithdisabilities.org/index.html

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Renovation Update / Franklin's Chair / Comic Book Day!


BATHROOM RENOVATION - Big progress has been made on our 1st floor bathroom this week- drywall went up and the walls have now been painted with primer! So, at least there are no open walls anymore. We're a ways from the tiling, and the shower door hasn't even been ordered yet. We're now on Week #9. What's interesting is that we just saw an HGTV show one guy did 4 bathrooms in 5 days (The show "Holmes on Homes").
We hope the bathroom will be done by mid-February - that will be 3 months.

WHOSE CHAIR IS THAT? - In our TV room, there are 2 chairs. Neither one of them is for Tom or me. Franklin the Dachshund and Dolly the Weimaraner love to lay claim on them, so we watch TV from the floor. We know whose chairs they are.

COMIC BOOK DAY! - Wednesdays mean new comic books arrive, and it really helps me get through the week. Two of my favorite characters are Superboy and Krypto the superdog, and they're in an issue of Adventure Comics this week! YAY! The Story: Ever since Superboy returned from the grave, he has been obsessed with Lex Luthor, believing that there must be some good in the master villain somewhere. So for Luthor, it's time to put up or shut up. With Superman off planet, it's time to do some good for the planet earth. Superboy is willing to do what it takes to make Lex's dreams come true, but what Superboy will discover is that one man's dreams, are another man's nightmares.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Combating a Doggone Cold Winter


Our dogs Dolly the Weimaraner and Franklin the Dachshund hate the cold as much as we do. Here in Maryland, it seems like we've been in a deep freeze since November (although that's not exactly true), but the last 30 days have brought us colder than normal temperatures. It's supposed to warm to about 43F on average every day. We've been seeing highs in the 30s for more than a week, although we may hit 40F Thursday for an hour. Oooohhh! Anyway, to keep our "kids" warm, we dress 'em. Dolly fits comfortably in my (Rob's) sweatshirts, so I trimmed one for her. Franklin gets a doggy sweater (okay, he's took big to wear a sock with holes!).
Even walking them during the daytime over the last couple of weeks, when wind chills are in the 20s (the windchill today at 2pm ET was 21F), the dogs don't want to stay out. Do you blame them?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Spirit of a Dachshund Says Hello


Last evening Tom and I picked up a couple of things in the supermarket for a friend of ours who lives nearby, because he's dealing with some health issues. We drove over to his house and went inside for a couple of minutes to check out the renovations he had done in his home.
Last month, his 14 year old dachshund companion, "Rusty" had passed away.
When Tom and I were standing in our friend's hallway and peering into the renovated bathroom, I was startled by a rustling sound right down the hall from where we were standing. It was little Rusty's spirit who came back to check in on his dad, and Rusty was playing with a toy or some paper (like a newspaper). I couldn't see Rusty, but I certainly heard him and immediately sensed him (I got my tell-tale headache in the back of my head). The noise he was making on the floor was about 10 feet from where I was standing!
It's a common occurrence for our pets to come back and keep us company from time to time once they've crossed over.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pet deaths prompt the EPA to issue high-priority alert for flea, tick items

ATTN: DOG OWNERS: here's a story that's a cause for concern- the U.S. EPA is looking into this...
Pet deaths prompt the EPA to issue high-priority alert for flea, tick items
More dogs and cats are becoming ill - and in some cases even dying - from flea and tick control products, prompting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consider the possible ban of some insecticide treatments commonly used on pets and to require revisions to labeling to help pet owners use the products properly.
Spot-on pesticide products, generally sold in tubes or vials and applied in between a pet's shoulders or in a stripe along the back, have been the focus of "high-priority" monitoring by the EPA after some pets developed skin irritations, had seizures or have died. FULL STORY: http://mysettersam.blogspot.com/

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Saturday Tasks / Book Progress!

A TIRED FRIDAY NIGHT -Friday night was one of crashing. Work during the week was very busy for both Tom and I. So, I made us and our friend/roommate eggs,homefries, sausage and bagels for dinner. It's nice to have breakfast for dinner sometimes! Darold and I watched "Ghost Whisperer" on CBS while Tom went to bed!
(PHOTOS: These are today's photos of the drywall up where the sink goes, and drywall around the shower.)
SATURDAY CRAZY DAY /BATHROOM RENOVATION PROGRESS - After an early breakfast at Panera, Tom, Darold and I unloaded a lot of the construction debris at the dump, drove to Annapolis and dropped off stuff at Goodwill, then went to a cabinet maker for a custom cabinet for the remodeled bathroom. Of course, the bathroom contractor arrived at the house just as we went into the cabinet maker, and he didn't have the right key to get in- so I dropped the guys off and I drove 45 min. round trip to let him in! After he finished sanding, etc. the bathroom drywall -the first floor was covered in dust!! So, all three of us spent HOURS vaccuming, dusting, mopping, doing lots of laundry, washing windows, changing the beds and giving the dogs a bath!
GHOST AND SPIRITS BOOK DEVELOPMENTS! - I wrote a press release for local media so I can advertise my "Ghosts and Spirits" book, and I'm going to issue it next week when I get some of the books from the publisher (they haven't arrived yet).
BIG NEWS! Now that I can see how the book is doing, I noticed that out of ALL the books on paranormal the Amazon.com sells, my book moved up from #71 to #30! I can't believe I have the 30th best-selling Paranormal book today on Amazon.com. WOW. Of course, out of ALL the books Amazon.com sells, it's number 69,490! Anyway, I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good!

"A Story From Jerusalem"

Friday, January 8, 2010

A List of Paranormal TV Shows

Here are the paranormal TV shows preceded by the Channels they're on:
SyFy: Ghost Hunters, GHI and Ghost Hunters Academy,
A&E:Paranormal State, Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal, Extreme Paranormal. Debuting at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 19, Paranormal Cops.
Discovery Channel: Ghost Lab, A Haunting
Travel Channel: Ghost Adventures, Most Haunted
Animal Planet: The Haunted
Biography: Celebrity Ghost Stories, Ghostly Encounters, Haunted History, Psychic Investigators

Watching my Book Ranked on Amazon.com

The world of publishing is very interesting. Our friend Robert L. in Virginia pointed out to me that books get ranked on Amazon.com. He noted that when the book was released it was listed as 84,757 on Amazon. As of today, January 8, Robert told me it's #61,615 this morning so it went up 23,000 already! People must be pre-ordering! WOW. That is really cool. Thanks all!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blog site for my Ghosts Book

Now that my book "Ghosts and Spirits: Insights from a Medium" has been published and available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com, here's the link to the blog I created specifically to complement the book!
http://ghostsandspiritsinsights.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

MY BOOK HAS BEEN PUBLISHED!!! -and its available on-line!


WOW - I just got an email that my book "GHOSTS AND SPIRITS: INSIGHT FROM A MEDIUM" has been published and is now "print ready" and available at many places across the web. Below are several places the book can be purchased, and the publisher, Virtualbookworm.com, told me that many more places carrying it will be added over the coming weeks.

SUMMARY:

ISBN 978-1-60264-513-4, $12.95, 164 pages. Pre-order now for mid-January delivery!
If you’re interested in the ghost hunting programs on television and want to know the who, what, where, when and whys of ghosts and spirits and how to understand them, this book will provide some insight and answers. There’s much more to life than just the time people and animals spend on Earth. Rob Gutro is a medium who is still growing in his abilities to communicate with Earth-bound ghosts and spirits who have passed. In this book, you’ll learn the difference between those entities and the ways they attempt to communicate with the living. Learn what they are and how to recognize signs they give us.


BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT THE FOLLOWING PLACES:

The book can be found at our store at
http://www.virtualbookworm.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=bookstore&Product_Code=Ghosts_and_Spirits&Category_Code=

The ebook can be found in our store at
http://www.virtualbookworm.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=bookstore&Product_Code=Ghosts_and_Spirits_EBOOK&Category_Code=

The book is listed on Barnes and Noble at

http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbninquiry.asp?box=9781602645134%20&pos=-1&EAN=9781602645134

and at Amazon at

http://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Spirits-Insights-Rob-Gutro/dp/1602645132/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1262792014&sr=8-1

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Foster Dog Update / Eye Healing / Bathroom Renovation

EYE SAY! - That was a bad pun, but I love to be punny. Last night we went to the gym and it looked like I was socked in the eye. This morning, the swelling went down and the eye is healing, thankfully. This morning it still ached from the puncture in it, and it was dry and irritated. By afternoon, it stopped throbbing, so "eye" am healing.
BATHROOM RENOVATION - We're still trying to get our bathroom finished. This is week #8. The contractor is dealing with a very, very ill elderly mother, who just got put in a nursing home - so he's told his employees the wrong things to do... they do it, and it has to be torn down and re-done. Oh, well. .. maybe be February it'll be finished.
(PHOTO: Lincoln/Bandit-in a blanket)
FOSTER DOG UPDATE -
1) LINCOLN (we called him "Bandit)- Is comfortably in his new home in New Jersey. Melissa from the rescue tells us that he never responded to "Lincoln" so the new foster parents renamed him "Max." That little one deserves a lot of love, and a LOT of food. When we got him we could see his ribs, so we made him and the other dog fresh chicken.
1) MADDIE (We called her Smokey) the female blue wire haired dachshund made it safely to Connecticut and her new foster home. Pat, her new foster mom is obviously taking great care of her.
Maddie is wearing a sweater since she has hardly any hair! Her foster mom in Connecticut took her to the vet already, to take care of getting her spayed, and testing her for thyroid issues. Poor thing lost her fur. (PHOTO: Maddie in her new sweater)

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Splinter in the Eye - Surgically Removed- OUCH


Remember that saying from the Bible: "Why do you look at the splinter in someone else's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Well, I WAS dealing with splinter in MY eye last night and this morning and it hurt!! Last night, when I let the dogs outside we had winds gusting to 50 mph (after the passage of a cold front) and although I was wearing my glasses, somehow the wind managed to lodge a splinter in my eye. OUCH. Yes, it was a painful as it sounds. Oddly, I couldn't see it and neither could Tom. I tried washing it out, blowing it out with a hairdryer, etc. Nothing worked. I went to the eye doc this morning, and he numbed the eye and used his magnifiers to find it. It was "shot directly into the eye" so it appeared as a microscopic speck. The doctor used tiny tweezers to remove it. Eeesh. So, next time winds are gusting and you're protecting your eyes - it may not be enough. Those tropical-storm-force wind gusts can really make some trouble, especially for your eyes.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I Encountered 3 Real Ghosts During "The Christmas Carol" at Ford's Theatre


As I mentioned in my earlier blog, Tom and I went to Ford's Theatre today to see the performance of "A Christmas Carol." As I've mentioned, I'm a "developing" medium, and am still refining my abilities, but I've had quite a number of experiences with earth-bound ghosts and spirits (who have crossed over).
I encountered John Wilkes Booth's ghost when I was in the gift shop today. I reached for a "map of Booth's Escape Trail" and a chill raced through my body. I "heard" him confirm who he was, and that he still returns to the theatre from time to time.
During the performance I attended, I heard a female tell me her name was "Marcia" or Marsha, Marcy, something with an "M." She showed me the backstage dressing room area where she was sitting at a mirror. She had long, brown curly hair, and was dressed in an off-white lacy dress, with a high frilly collar. She also showed me that she watched as President Lincoln's body was driven through the city of Washington, DC on a horse-drawn dark carriage, with a flag or cloth draped over his coffin. Obviously, she must've been at the theatre performing when Lincoln was killed. Either she's an actress, or it was Mary Todd Lincoln, showing me part of the play she was watching. I'm unsure.
Finally, a male form (I didn't get a name or description) kept coming to me in the 2nd floor balcony where we were sitting. I asked him to leave me alone (I kept getting chills) and after I did, he didn't return. I'm unsure who he was.
Yes, Ford's Theatre is definitely haunted.

HERE ARE WHAT OTHER PARANORMAL WEBSITES SAID OF THE GHOSTS OF FORD'S THEATRE:
Paranormalknowledge.com says: The ghost of Abraham Lincoln has been seen here, along with other apparitions. Its almost as if the last moments of Lincoln’s life are performed daily, in an alternate reality where time stands still. John Wilkes Booth was a well known actor at the theatre, and on the night of April 14th, he walked behind the president and shot him in the back of the head at point-blank range. There have been reports of numerous voices and laughter from all areas when no one is there. People have heard the footsteps of John Wilkes Booth running to the presidential box, followed by the sound of a gun shot. The ghost of Mrs. Lincoln has also been seen leaning over the balcony pointing at Booth saying that he has killed the president. Apparitions appear at center stage, lights turn on and off, and cold spots are often felt in certain areas.
The Cabinet.com says: John Wilkes Booth is also believed to haunt the stage itself. According to several actors who have been involved in productions since, if they attempt to deliver their lines at a particular spot on left-center stage, they are overwhelmed with an icy sensation. Some even report becoming overly nauseous or begin shaking uncontrollably, often flubbing their lines in the process. At times, some even report seeing the ghost of Booth running across the stage in escape as he did so many years ago.
(PHOTO: John Wilkes Booth)
HISTORY OF THE FORD THEATRE (from AbovetheNorm-blogspot.com): The building was built in 1833 and was originally a house of worship. In 1861, John T. Ford bought the place and had it renovated into a theater which was originally called Ford’s Athenaeum. Then in 1862 a fire destroyed the place, it was rebuilt, and then opened a year later, and was called Ford’s New Theatre. On April 14, 1865, just three days after General Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House; President Lincoln was shot and killed while enjoying a performance with his wife Mary Todd Lincoln.

Saw "A Christmas Carol" Performed at Ford's Theatre!

Ford’s Theatre has a new production of A Christmas Carol that reinvigorates this timeless tale! Our friends Hil and Richard treated Tom and I today (Sunday) as our Christmas present, and it was wonderful!
The ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future led the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation and redemption. Signature Theatre’s Michael Baron directs a new staging that captures the magic and joy of Dickens’ classic. Acclaimed Washington stage actor Edward Gero (Shakespeare Theatre Company’s King Lear, Round House’s Nixon’s Nixon) will play Scrooge. It was wonderful!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Movie Trailer Released for IRON MAN 2!

"Iron Man 2" hits theaters May 7, 2010.
Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as billionaire industrialist Tony Stark, aka the super hero Iron Man in this sequel to the 2008 blockbuster. RDJ, Paltrow, Cheadle and Rockwell are joined by Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and Mickey Rourke as Whiplash. Jon Favreau once again takes up the directorial reins for Marvel's armored avenger.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year! / 4 Men and 4 Dogs

(Photo: Tom gets a kiss from Franklin)
New Year's Eve was really nice. The 2 temporary rescue dogs that we called "Smokey" and the "Bandit" (and Rob learned their real names were Maddie and Lincoln) settled down and got used to treats and being held for the first time in their lives. Both of them are 3 1/2 YEARS old and have never seen grass (they came from breeders and grew up in cages) - what horrible lives they've had. Thanks to our friends Susan and Cary, they let us borrow a cage to put the rescue dogs in (because they're not housebroken, of course). At least they were crate-trained, so that ended the accidents in the house.
(PHOTO: Rob gives Dolly a big hug)
Darold is rooming with us and our friend Jeff came over early and made us a great barbecue pork dinner! So, there were 4 men and 4 dogs! (Our dogs: Dolly and Franklin and the rescues: Lincoln and Maddie).
(PHOTO: Jeff holds Maddie the "blue" wirehaired dachshund from the rescue, who lost most of her hair due to a thyroid condition)

After dinner, our friends Susan, Cary and Ed came over for desserts and a really fun, wacky game of Uno. We had a wonderful time, and all four dogs behaved very well. We took a break in the game to get desserts, and then I (Rob) had to carry out each of the rescue dogs in the backyard (it was raining/sleeting/freezing raining) to do their business. The dogs are afraid to go out in the backyard, so they needed to be carried outside, and I had to walk around with them and give them treats to do what they needed to do, to train them.
(PHOTO: Darold holding Lincoln, the red, smooth-haired male dachshund, who was bare-bones thin, timid, and loved being held).
Our Uno game and appetite were waning by 11pm, and several of us (who got up at 4:30am for work) were fading. Fortunately, Cary won a round of Uno around 11:25pm, and we called it quits. Everyone left or were home in bed by midnight. Yeah, we're old! :)
(PHOTO: This is little Lincoln. He was such a precious boy, I wouldn't have minded if we adopted him).

A FULL NEW YEAR'S DAY - Tom and I got up at 5am and fed all 4 dogs, and went outside with them (the rescues one at a time). We met Melissa of Coast-to-Coast Dachshund rescue over an hour north of our house at 7 a.m. to give her Lincoln and Maddie- both of whom already have foster homes (Lincoln in NJ, Maddie in CT). It was sad to give them to Melissa and say goodbye to them, and I think I squeezed and kissed little Lincoln (my favorite) about 5 times. In fact, when Melissa was pulling out of the parking lot with the dogs in the backseat of her car, Lincoln stood up and looked out the window at us leaving. That choked me up.
We returned home and had breakfast with Jeff (who stayed over) and Darold. We cleaned house and went shopping at Kohls, Lowes, Macys and Bed Bath and Beyond, then returned home for lunch. Afterward, we watched a movie called "Crank 2" with one of Tom's favorite hunky actors, Jason Stratham.

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