Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Beautiful Sunset from a Good Friend


I received a great photo today from our friend Tom H. in North Carolina. He said he saw this and thought of me- what a tribute! It's so beautiful I had to share it with all of you, too. This is a good reminder to always look up, because if you don't you could be missing something special. Thanks, Tom H.!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Visited "Fonthill" Modern Castle of Concrete!



To celebrate our anniversary on June 26, we took a trip to visit "Fonthill" - a Modern Castle made entirely of concrete and rebar (metal poles that hold it together) by the founder of Moravia Tile Works (which is next door) that we also visited. This castle is not only unique, but bizarre. Mercer used all of the tiles in his home that his tile works created! Here's the summary from the Fonthill Web page:
Fonthill
Built between 1908-1912, Fonthill was the home of Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). Archaeologist, anthropologist, ceramist, scholar and antiquarian, Mercer built Fonthill both as his home and as a showplace for his collection of tiles and prints. The first of three Mercer buildings in Doylestown, Fonthill served as a showplace for Mercer's famed Moravian tiles that were produced during the American Arts & Crafts Movement. Designed by Mercer, the building is an eclectic mix of Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles, and is significant as an early example of poured reinforced concrete.


Tom and I entered the house in a very dark entry way. Outside we had noticed that the windows were all different sizes and inside there were openings in the house through walls also of all different sizes. Windows and openings were just placed wherever Mr. Mercer thought one should be. Tom described it as "an architect's nightmare" because nothing was square. Regardless, we were both totally fascinated with the building.
It took about 1 hour to go through on an abbreviated tour. The upstairs floors were too hot to tour in the summertime, because there was no air conditioning of course! It's really hard to describe this "house." It really felt more like a castle, but the tiles all over every wall, ceiling and floor in each room were bizarre.
I didn't sense a ghost in the house, just a residual energy of sadness, particularly in the large "library" area. We learned that Mr. Mercer was never married, didn't care for the company of women, was very artistic, loved to travel (he traveled the world doing excavations for his hobby in archeology and collected (and displayed) artifacts from as far back as 3,000 BC), and loved his dogs. (it doesn't take much guesswork to figure out that he was gay, does it?).
He had Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, and the tour guide told us there were about 20 dogs in all! Clearly, Mercer's favorite was his dog Rollo (who is buried on the property). In the house, there are Rollo's pawprints in various concrete stairways, and one is actually labeled (in tiled letters) "Rollo's Stairway." The devotion and love to his dogs was really moving to us as dog lovers. In fact, the day Rollo passed away, Mercer wrote a really touching tribute on paper (that was displayed in the house) saying he looks forward to seeing his best friend Rollo in the afterlife.
Enjoy these photos of this wonderful, bizarre, and interesting place!


These are photos of the Moravian Tile Works. We also took a tour of the tile works and the entire process of making the tiles was explained as we walked through it. Of course, it was 94F, so it was hot in there- and we could only imagine how much hotter it was when the ovens were going and tiles were being produced. We learned that all of the clay used to make the tiles are from local sources.
The tile company became famous when the Pennsylvania State House commissioned Mr. Mercer to completely tile that building. Mercer also tiled many other landmark buildings.
Like Mercer's house "Fonthill," the building of the tileworks was built entirely out of concrete, and was designed in "Mission Style" like buildings in the American Southwest. Combined with Fonthill, the tileworks makes for a great trip!
Bucks County Tourism Summary: The Moravian Pottery and Tile Works, a National Historic Landmark, is maintained as a "working history" museum by Pennsylvania's County of Bucks, Department of Parks and Recreation. Handmade tiles are still produced in a manner similar to that developed by the pottery's founder and builder, Henry Chapman Mercer (1856-1930). Mercer was a major proponent of the Arts & Crafts Movement in America. He directed the work at the pottery from 1898 until his death in 1930. You may still purchase handmade reissues of tiles and mosaics made in the American Arts & Crafts tradition from us.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Good Book - Haunted Nantucket Island


I just finished reading a good book about 22 different haunted places on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. The book is called "Nantucket Haunted Hike Presents: the Haunted Nantucket Island: Twenty-two True Nantucket Ghost Stories" by W.B. Alexander, a man who lives there and runs the ghost tours of the island. The book is extremely well-written, captivating, and has some really great stories in it that will make you want to visit Nantucket!
ISBN-10: 1413488935. I highly recommended it!

Dread and Anxiety Drives Us from Haunted New Hope, PA

Tom and I visited New Hope, Pennsylvania this past Saturday and as soon as we crossed into the town line I started feeling anxious, nervous and miserable. It was like I walked into a thick blanket of negative energy. It didn't help that the bed and breakfast that we were going to stay at (but we didn't) was full of negative energy either, which is why we drove home that evening.
First, however, we walked through the town for about 2 hours. The first hint that things were screwy was a restaurant we went into. I sat while Tom went to the restroom for a minute. During that time (which was about 3 minutes) a waitress and her husband (they owned the place) walked up to me and asked for the order. Not knowing what Tom wanted the man said "you come to the cash register when you know." Um... so when Tom returned to the table I had to order at the cash register. Weird.
New Hope, Pennsylvania runs along the west side of the Delaware River (yes, the one that George Washington crossed on December 25, 1776, and he did so just south of New Hope). As I've mentioned many times before running water near a town adds to ghostly activity. This was off the charts for me and I couldn't block it out. The tell-tale headache I get that signals ghosts or spirits are around hit me when we came into town. The negativity, the sadness, the fear, anxiety, nervousness I felt were making me really, really uncomfortable.
In terms of the haunts, here is what Unsolved Mysteries.com says about New Hope, PA: "The New Hope area has been rumored to be haunted by a number of ghosts. So many, in fact, that it has been named “America’s Most Haunted Town.” Most [haunts] originate in “downtown” New Hope surrounding Bridge Street and the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge." (That's especially where I felt miserable and where we decided to leave the town that night and return home!
Unsolved Mysteries.com goes on to say that many places have ghost stories: the Inn at Phillips Mill, the Pickett House, the Logan Inn, Odette’s Restaurant, and the Van Sant Bridge. Each place has its own specific legend and the witnesses to back it up.

"The Inn at Phillips Mill is known for having a couple of ghosts spending their time inside its walls. There is rumored to be a woman who wears a long dress with a high collar roaming about around the staircase and the upstairs hall of the building. A rocking chair in one corner of the Inn is also claimed to have a spiritual presence about it."

"The Logan Inn also has a reputation for being haunted; in fact, so much so that the place has four ghosts. If you stay in room six, watch out for a man’s reflection in the mirror which disappears when you look around. Two children are also said to stay in this room sometimes. A Revolutionary War soldier also wanders about the Inn, taking refuge in different rooms including the bar, the basement, and the dining room. A portrait of a woman who enjoyed wearing lavender perfume hangs in a hallway, and many claim that they can still smell the scent when they pass by it. For men who wish to use the restroom, be wary if the steps leading to the one in the basement: it is believed that a man in knee breeches waits on them. And in the parking lot, a little girl who was known to have drowned some time ago lurks in the shadows."

"Joseph Pickett is a deceased artist who hauntes what once was his bedroom in the house he owned on Mechanic Street. He also, like many residents of New Hope, enjoys strolling along the towpath. Joseph likes to visit a house on Mechanic Street once owned by his cousin. Odette’s, which used to be called the River House and used to serve boatmen in the late eighteenth century, has occurrences of a ghostly woman who was rumored to be murdered during the time when the restaurant was called the River House. There are also moments of chills and voices in the restaurant, accompanied by a strong smell of perfume, much like in the Logan Inn."

"The Van Sant Bridge is also haunted by an unmarried young woman with an infant, who was thrown out of her house by her parents. She jumped to her death off the Van Sant Bridge, with her baby in her arms. The legend says that to this day, when you stand on the bridge, you can hear the baby crying. Horse thieves also used to be hanged from this bridge, and people can often still see one of them hanging there."


So, it's no surprise to me that it was especially walking over that bridge that I felt the most negative energy and we decided to leave the town. Between the suicide and the hangings from that location, there was way too much negative energy for me to block out.

Information from: http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com/usm464955.html

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Today is Our 1st Wedding Anniversary!


(PHOTO: Rob (left) and Tom (right) listening as Mike B (center) marries them)
On June 26, 2009 we drove to Bridgeport, Connecticut to legally marry. Our friend Jeff accompanied us as our best man, and our friend Mike married us, with his fiancee Amy and several other friends and family joining us. It's amazing to think that a year has gone by already!

Great Book: Consent to Kill - by Vince Flynn


Just finished an OUTSTANDING (thriller) book!!! - "CONSENT TO KILL" by Vince Flynn. I Highly recommend it!
Synopsis: CIA assassin Mitch Rapp battles a Saudi billionaire bent on revenge, an ex–East German Stasi spy and a deadly husband-and-wife team of assassins. There’s a $20-million contract out on Mitch’s head, and to add injury to insult, he hurts his leg during a morning run. After a knee operation and an even more serious mishap, Mitch is out of the hospital and hot on the trail of the evildoers. Besides terrorists and assassins, Mitch has to battle the new national director of intelligence, a craven, hypocritical, inside-the-Beltway operator. Looks like they're making it into a movie!!! Should be great (I just wish my Dad were alive to see it -Vince Flynn was one of his favorite authors): http://www.themovieinsider.com/m6849/consent-to-kill/

Friday, June 25, 2010

Tony Communicates with me at his Wake

Last night, Tom and I attended a wake for one of his former high school teachers. I haven't been to a funeral home since my dad passed in August, 2008. As soon as we walked in the door, I got my tell-tale headache that there was a ghost or spirit present. In fact, I know there were at least two there (there were two wakes going on). One wake was for an older woman and the other was for Tony, Tom's former teacher. Tony passed from a brain tumor and had 5 sons.
We were standing in line to sign the guest book and I kept hearing "Maura, or Mara, or a female "M" name. I don't know who that is, and checked that Tony's widow's name is Pam and his sisters' names don't begin with "M." I got the sense that the name belonged to an older woman that was being waked down the hall in another room.
Once we entered the crowded and noisy room full of people talking, laughing and carrying on, I stood in the back. I didn't know anyone and Tom knew many people (former classmates, teachers, and people that belonged to that church school). I was standing with my back to the wall talking with my father-in-law and I felt a finger poke me in the back so I turned around. No one was there. It poked me again, I knew that it was "Tony" playing around to let me know he was there. My father-in-law noticed someone else he knew came in, so he walked over to talk with the man.
I wound up standing alone at the back of the room and sensed that Tony's spirit was poking his head into small groups of people talking, and turning his head as if he were trying to hear what they were saying about him. It was pretty amusing to watch. He really seemed to be enjoying the crowd of people there to honor him. When I later told Tom about this behavior, he said "That's exactly the kind of thing that Tony would do! He was a prankster in life. He loved to joke around."
The other thing was that whenever various younger men walked by me (there were a lot of younger men from 20 up there), Tony "told" me which of them were his sons. I knew that there four sons, but Tony pointed out three. One was a taller man wearing tan slacks and a checkered button down shirt. He then showed me another of his sons that was wearing a dark suit that walked by me. The third son was standing in the hallway wearing a black shirt, tie and pants.
Tony kept nudging me to tell that son dressed all in black that he was still here and actually enjoying seeing who came to honor him. I was reluctant to do that, however, because of the religious beliefs of the family (which is very sad). The family's religion thinks that mediums "talk to the devil." It's really frustrating to me, because I could've provided some comfort to the family. I heard and "saw" Tony, and know that he was grateful for the show of love and support during his wake.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

UPDATED***Scorching/Violent Mid-Atlantic Weather and a Summertime Dog Walk Caution


(PHOTO: Our thermometer inside the backyard porch. It was 98F at 11 a.m. - we passed the 100 mark! In fact: Today is the first triple-digit June day in Baltimore in over 16 years!!)
Summer is already in high gear, with late July temperatures in mid-late June. The mid-Atlantic is roasting under high pressure and high humidity.
DOG WALKS AND EXTREME HEAT- I walk the dogs in the early mornings (yes, the 6 am hour) because temperatures are in the 70s and asphalt is cool from the overnight hours. ***NOTE: ASPHALT in the heat of the day will BURN the skin on their paws.** DON'T WALK YOUR DOG ON PAVEMENT DURING THE DAY - Think about how YOU would feel barefoot!! Below is the weather


EAST COAST WEATHER SUMMARY: A cold front will pass through this evening. High pressure will build overhead friday before shifting off the coast during the weekend allowing for more hot and humid conditions.


BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON/FREDERICK, MD/ SO. CENTRAL PA FORECAST
**HEAT INDEX OVER 100** SEVERE T-STORMS THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING**
...HEAT INDEX VALUES UP TO 103 DEGREES THIS AFTERNOON...
Hot and humid conditions today will generate heat index values as warm as 104 degrees during the afternoon. **Concern for sensitive groups such as Infants and the elderly.
*Drink plenty of Fluids (not alcohol) * Take breaks in shade *Seek A/C
***WARNING- the interior of your car heats up quickly. Do not leave children or pets in an enclosed car for any period of time...not even with the windows cracked.**
***SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING.
SOME THUNDERSTORMS MAY BE SEVERE...WITH DAMAGING WINDS THE MAIN
THREAT.**
**CODE ORANGE AIR QUALITY ALERT MEANS THAT AIR POLLUTION CONCENTRATIONS WITHIN THE REGION MAY BECOME UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS.**
Today: A chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon (ending by 10pm). Some of the storms could be severe. Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 97. Heat index values as high as 103. Low 69
Friday: Sunny,Hot, but less humid with a high near 89. Low 69
Saturday: Mostly sunny,HOT, isolated evening t-storm, with a high near 92. Low 71
Sunday: Sunshine, high clouds, HOT, Scattered PM showers and thunderstorms 94. Low 72
LIVE RADAR: http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=LWX&product=NCR&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happiness is a New Coffeemaker


(Photo of our new coffeemaker)
Since our coffeemaker burnt out yesterday (yes, I'm sure it was from overuse) I couldn't wait until dinnertime was over so we could go out and buy a new one. We drove to the closest store (Kmart) and bought another coffeemaker with a timer. I like setting up the coffee at night, so that it brews just as we're waking up. Ahhhhh!!
Today is going to be a good day.

A Great Joke About a Classmate...

This joke was sent from Mom F. in Maine- who comes up with some really funny ones! Enjoy! Rob
*****************************
My Name Is Alice , And I Was Sitting In The Waiting Room For my first appointment With A New Dentist. I Noticed His DDS Diploma On The Wall, Which Bore His Full Name. Suddenly, I Remembered A Tall, Handsome, Dark-Haired Boy With The Same Name Had Been In My High School Class Some 40-Odd Years Ago.
Could He Be The Same Guy That I Had A Secret Crush On, Way Back Then?
Upon Seeing Him, However, I Quickly Discarded Any Such Thought. This Balding, Gray-Haired Man With The Deeply Lined Face Was Way Too Old To Have Been My Classmate.
After He Examined My Teeth, I Asked Him If He Had Attended Thomas Jefferson
High School. 'Yes. Yes, I Did. I'm A Mustang,' He Gleamed With Pride.
When Did You Graduate?' I Asked. He Answered, 'In 1956 Why Do You Ask?' You Were In My Class!', I Exclaimed.
He Looked At Me Closely. Then, That ugly, old, bald, wrinkled faced, fat, gray-haired, trollish, decrepit SOB asked, 'What Did You Teach???

Monday, June 21, 2010

You Know it's Monday When...

I know it's Monday when:
1) During the morning walk with the dogs: the weird, socially disturbed neighbor walks by with his two weird dogs and our dogs go nuts.
2) The coffee maker burns out. (I'm DEVASTATED!!)
3) The computer crashes 3 times and takes 45 minutes to boot up
Yup, it's Monday.

Tudors Ends Well/Jonah Hex Movie Not Doing Well

The Tudors TV Series Finale - Last night we enjoyed the finale of the Tudors. It has been running on Showtime for 4 seasons, and last night the series ended with King Henry VIII on the verge of death. This episode (in Rob's opinion) was the best of all of them. It had Henry VIII coming to an understanding of his life's actions, and wrongful execution of several of his wives. It was well done. We now recommend watching the movies "Elizabeth" and "Elizabeth the Golden Age" to follow the story.
(BTW-The woman who played "Bloody Mary" in the Tudors was convincing. I despised her nasty character. Glad to hear she only ruled England a short time. She was nasty!)

Warner Bros.' "Jonah Hex" big-screen adaptation of the DC Comics series starring Josh Brolin and Megan Fox is apparently not tracking well with audiences, much to my (Rob's) disappointment. I thought the movie was good and entertaining. The movie made $5 million this weekend, but cost $47 million to produce. "Jonah Hex" is a western about a bounty hunter who believes in justice. Granted the weapon he's trying to stop is unrealistic for post-civil war times, but it's a movie!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dog Days of Summer (before Summer Starts!)

June is going down in the weather record books as the HOTTEST June in the Baltimore/Washington, DC area since weather records began in 1889. In addition to being super steamy with highs mostly in the 90s, it has been extremely dry. What's sad is that summer doesn't officially start until tomorrow, June 21st.

Dolly and Franklin don't like it either. They go out for short periods of time and run right back inside. Here are photos of them doing their favorite thing- inside, in the air conditioning!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saw the Jonah Hex Movie

Today, Tom and I were joined by our friend Jeff and went to see the new DC Comics movie "Jonah Hex." I've loved the character since 1979 when I read the first comic books about him. I thought the movie was GOOD!! I just could've done without the dream sequences and three flashbacks to his origin. Tom and Jeff didn't care for the movie. I don't know why. Tom said it was too violent, but that makes me laugh because he loves the TUDORS on Showtime, to draw and quarter, stab, slice, dice, hang and mutilated people during Henry the VIII's time. Oh, well. I LIKE JONAH HEX!!

Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) is a scarred drifter and bounty hunter of last resort, a tough and stoic gunslinger who can track down anyone...and anything. He fought for the Confederacy until he learned they fought to keep slavery- then he left the army. He believed that all deserve the same rights, and also believed strongly in ethical treatment of animals. Having survived death, Jonah’s violent history is steeped in myth and legend, and has left him with one foot in the natural world and one on the “other side.” His only human connection is with Lilah (Megan Fox), whose life in a brothel has left her with scars of her own.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Visiting a Friend's Dog!


Two of our friends have gone on vacation, and left their beautiful, big, 120 pound Mastiff at the Cozy Canine Camp in Millersville, Md. *We recommend them!*
So, last night when I picked up our dogs, I checked on Gracie. She was very quiet...until I came over!
It was about 5:30pm and she had been brought in and out throughout the day (the folks at daycare won't keep dogs out too long in the heat). Myla (who works there) told me that she and the others have been working with Gracie, to try and get her used to other dogs, and feeling comfortable. (They're really attentive).
- When I did see Gracie, I called her by her name, and she looked up. Then I sang to her as our friend instructed (although I was afraid the other dogs there would Howl). She got up from laying down, started wagging her tail, and SMILING! I opened the door to her big room, and took this photo. I also scratched the back of her neck and sang the little song to her. She was very happy. I also left 2 biscuits for her, too. It means a lot when a dog sees someone familiar. So, If you know a friend or neighbor whose dog is being boarded while they're away take 30 minutes and say hello to the dog. It means a lot. Think of how you would feel... dogs are no different.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Horses See Spirits


I gave a talk and did a book signing on Saturday at the Largo-Kettering Library in Maryland and it was well-received. There were a lot of folks who had their own experiences and they shared them with me. One gentleman who had moved from the African Continent to the U.S. told me that in his homeland it is widely known that horses can see Earth-bound ghosts and spirits (who have crossed).
I firmly believe that horses, like dogs and cats have that ability. Dogs, cats and horses, moreso than any other domesticated animal hear at higher decibel ranges (that digital recorders pick up, but humans don't hear at that level). Each of those types of animal also have the intelligence of a 4-5 year old human child (read Dr. Stanley Coren's "The Intelligence of Dogs" (cats and horses). Further, they have different cones and rods in their eyes than humans, that enable them to better sense motion.
The gentlemen proceeded to tell me more about the African belief. He said that it's known that when a horse sees a ghost or spirit, you can look directly in their eyes and see the ghost that they are looking at. Fascinating! I was so glad he shared that story with me.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Metropolis unveils statue of Superman's Lois Lane!


(PHOTO CAPTION: Noel Neill poses for fans seeking following the unveiling of a bronze statue portraying her as reporter Lois Lane from the ‘Superman’ TV series of the 1950s in Metropolis, Ill., on Friday. Also shown are as Superman (portrayed by Josh Boultinghouse of Los Angeles), statue artist Gary Ernest Smith and Kevin Maag of Metal Arts Foundry in Lehi, Utah. Paducah Sun Newspaper)

METROPOLIS, Ill. -- The southern Illinois city that calls itself the "official home of Superman" has unveiled a statue of the superhero's lady love, Lois Lane. Metropolis leaders unveiled the statue on Friday. The city already has a 15-foot bronze statue of Superman in Superman Square. The Lois Lane statue is modeled on actress Noel Neill, who played playing the female reporter with a crush on Superman in movies and on television in the 1940s and 1950s.
Artist Gary Ernest Smith created the statue and says making the piece was a dream come true because he grew up watching Superman. Neill says she was honored to memorialized with the statue. Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel says the statue will be a source of pride for the city for years to come.

Jesus Sends a Message via Lightning


Here's an interesting story and I wonder what this church congregation is thinking is the message here. My take on it is that the church should've spent the $250,000 to help people instead of buying a statue. Think of how much a QUARTER OF A MILLION DOLLARS would do for charities! Homeless people, animal shelters, soup kitchens... I think THAT is the message.
Lightning Destroys 6-story-tall Ohio Jesus Statue MONROE, Ohio - A six-story-tall statue of Jesus Christ with his arms raised along a highway was struck by lightning in a thunderstorm Monday night and burned to the ground, police said. It was 62 feet high and weighs 16,000 pounds.
The "King of Kings" statue, one of southwest Ohio's most familiar landmarks, had stood since 2004 at the evangelical Solid Rock Church along Interstate 75 in Monroe, just north of Cincinnati.
The 4,000-member, nondenominational church was founded by former horse trader Lawrence Bishop and his wife. Bishop said in 2004 he was trying to help people, not impress them, with the statue. He said his wife proposed the Jesus figure as a beacon of hope and salvation and they spent about $250,000 to finance it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Times are Tight - Fed Gov't Making Cutbacks

I read this morning that the Obama administration now wants to make cuts and eliminate excess properties held by the government. It's nice to see an administration finally looking at Federal agencies and eliminating waste (why wasn't this done over the last 40 years?). I applaud these efforts to cut back on paying for empty buildings and property! *Full article below*
- Speaking of cutbacks, Congress is trying to freeze raises for Federal employees this year. I have NO problem with not getting a raise this year. There are so many people unemployed, a raise would increase the deficit, and I'm grateful that I have a job. I don't mind a pay freeze. I think we all need to do our part to help out. We can't expect the government to fix everything without our help. After all, it takes people to make a nation. - Rob

ARTICLE: Pay Freeze? We Need To Talk
Last month the House and Senate, by very narrow margins, defeated a plan to freeze federal pay at current levels until at least January, 2012. Many pro-fed lobbyists think Congress will try it again before the November elections.
FULL STORY: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/?nid=20&sid=1978247

Obama orders cuts in federal building costs
In an effort to curb government spending, President Obama issued a two-page memo Thursday morning directing federal agencies to identify and eliminate at least $3 billion in excess real estate by the end of fiscal 2012.
The memo states the administration's "[commitment] to eliminating all forms of government waste and to leading by example as our nation transitions to a clean energy economy." It also calls surplus properties too expensive and bad for the environment.
Agencies are expected to begin selling off property and canceling leases. More savings may also come from eliminating the operating and maintenance costs of unnecessary buildings. This will accompany the Defense Department's expected saving of about $9.8 billion between 2010 and 2012 created by its Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) efforts.
The President says previous efforts to reduce spending on properties produced only minor savings. He says there is a need to "[make] more efficient use of existing assets" through "innovative approaches to space management and alternative workplace arrangements, such as telework."
The administration estimates agencies own more than 200,000 properties, and more than 65,000 more are considered under used.
Obama identified data centers, office buildings, warehouses, and laboratories as common types of excess properties. Full article: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/index.php?nid=376&sid=1977363

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer Heat and an Ice Age ?


This is the second day in the Washington, DC area where high temps are near 95F, and it's sweltering. With a stationary front to our north, we've got all that southern heat and humidity (and end of July-like temperatures in the middle of June).
After yesterday's book event we took the dogs on an hour-long walk, made dinner and decided we'd rent something "Cool" and wound up with "Ice Age 3: The Dinosaurs" animated movie. It was pretty good, although we were still sweltering!

On Sunday, because it was again near 95F, we did shopping in the morning (you know-Home Depot, etc.) and did gardening and played with the dogs outside (until they were exhausted...which was quick).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Really Enjoyed Ghost Trackers of Odenton


On Friday night June 11th I gave a talk and had a book signing with the Inspired Ghost Tracking Group of Odenton, Md. http://www.meetup.com/inspiredghosttracking/

(PHOTO: Troy shares his experiences)
Our friend Troy joined us and shared some of his experiences (he's also a "developing Medium."). There were about 25 people in the audience, and they were wonderful. They made me feel so at ease, and we laughed about a lot of things.
Our family/friends Jill, Kelli, Kenny and Allen also came and showed support. Thank you SO much!
When I mentioned a "dark entity" being evil and non-human, someone brought up their mother-in-law. That was a priceless moment. :) Tom and I have joined the Ghost Trackers Group and look forward to going out on field investigation with them sometime.
Here's some of the reactions from the group about the event:
Craig -I thought it was GREAT!!! I learned some things, and enjoyed the laughs. Thanks Rob ...
Linda - Being a medium myself I LOVE the energy that Rob sent out to us. I enjoyed his stories, and the little tips that her gave everyone. It was nice and refreshing to meet a medium that is NOT stuck on themselves....
Margaret - Rob was very interesting and at times funny. He kept us all laughing with him and feeling some of his pain from his stories. Great job Rob and glad I got your book to read more on your stories. The group really enjoyed him.
Ronda -I can't wait for Rob and his friends to come back...great time tonight.


(PHOTO: Tom helps while Rob signs books)

A Residual Haunt in President Adams' Home in Mass.


When my partner and I went to Quincy, Mass. this weekend for a book event, we toured two of the four Adams houses. The 2 we toured were the birthplaces of John Adams (2nd U.S. President) and John Quincy Adams (5th U.S. President). The houses are side-by-side and still exist pretty much as they were when built in the late 1600s (by two families that owned them before the Adams Family did).
Adams National Historical Park is managed by the U.S. National Park Service. The park consists of the homes of two American presidents and subsequent generations of their descendants from 1720 to 1927. The family's experience represented, shaped, and mirrored significant events in the social, cultural, political, and intellectual history of the nation. The purpose of the park is to preserve and protect the grounds, homes, and personal property of four generations of the Adams family and to use these resources to interpret the history they represent and to educate and inspire current and future generations.
During the tour of the older home, I didn't sense any intelligent haunts (that is, interactive ghosts), but I did feel residual energy in one room that turned out to be Abigail Adams' favorite room. It was like I could sense her energy there that this was "her favorite place."

Friday, June 11, 2010

Free Talk/Book Signing Event Tonight

Tonight I'm giving a talk and book signing in Odenton, MD. to a group of GHOST HUNTERS!
It's open to the public and FREE as well.
Call 443-396-1282 to register with Inspired Events (just for a head count)
WHEN Fri, June 11, 7:00pm – 9:30pm
WHERE 1350 Blair Drive, Suite E, Odenton, MD, Anne Arundel County.
MAP: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=&q=1350+Blair+Drive,+Suite+E,+Odenton,+MD&rlz=1B3MOZA_enUS367US367&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hq=&hnear=1350+Blair+Dr,+Odenton,+MD+21113&gl=us&ei=SYIOTPP_FMLflgeQhdBu&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CBUQ8gEwAA
- It's on ROUTE 175, east of where 175 crosses Route 32.
- It's east of Fort Meade.
- It's near the intersection of 175 and 170 (which goes north/south and goes into Odenton).

THE GROUP: This is a ghost tracking group that gets together to discuss like-minded topics, share experiences, and do some investigation work. Due to the nature of this group you must be at least 18 years old or accompanied by an adult. The Ghost Tracking Meetup group meets monthly at Inspired Events of Maryland. For more information, visit their website at www.meetup.com/inpiredghosttracking

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Important Medicare News for Seniors from Whitehouse.gov

Hi all - I received this from the White House's listserv, and thought it important enough to post for Seniors. Rob
From Whitehouse.gov: Good news for America's seniors -- those of you who have been hitting the gap in Medicare Part D prescription coverage will be receiving a $250 check in the mail starting this week. This is part of our promise to protect Medicare, help seniors manage health care costs and, ultimately, eliminate this gap (known as the “donut hole”) in prescription drug coverage.
Here's how it works. The one-time, tax-free $250 checks to help cover prescription costs go out in the mail today. Only seniors who have hit the coverage gap will receive them, and if you hit it in the future, you should get a check about a month later. If you don't already know if you are in the coverage gap, check the Medicare Explanation of Benefits notice mailed each month.
Even if you're not getting a check, the Affordable Care Act provides a number of Medicare benefits you should be aware of like free preventive care, community health teams to make it easier to deal with multiple doctors, and improvements to Medicare Advantage that save seniors money.
Earlier this week, President Obama answered questions from seniors across the country and took on the bogus rumors that folks are going to lose their guaranteed benefits. You can watch the full video of the event here:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/seniors-town-hall
In case you don't have time to watch the entire video, here are a few important points seniors should know about Medicare and the Affordable Care Act:
* Guaranteed Medicare Benefits

It's important that seniors know that their guaranteed Medicare benefits are protected -- regardless of whether they are in Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage -- and seniors who have Medicare Advantage can choose to continue to be enrolled in the plan. The biggest difference is that now Medicare Advantage plans will have to compete on a level playing field with Original Medicare and put more of their premium dollars into health care costs, instead of profits or administrative costs.
* Free Preventive Care - Under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare beneficiaries will be eligible for free preventive care services like colorectal cancer screening and mammograms as well as a free annual wellness visit.
* Patient-Centered Care - Community health teams will provide patient-centered care so seniors won't have to see multiple doctors who don't work together. The new law also helps seniors who are hospitalized return home successfully -- and avoid going back -- by helping to coordinate care and ensure they have access to support in their community.
* Cracking Down on Fraud - The Affordable Care Act has important new tools to help crack down on criminals seeking to scam seniors and steal taxpayer dollars. Reductions in fraud, waste, and abuse will help extend the life of the Medicare Trust Funds by 12 years and provide seniors with cost savings.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fiancee Killed by Lightning During Surprise Wedding Proposal

**Just a reminder to everyone during this season - Summer Thunderstorm Season: Lightning kills about 58 U.S. residents a year and injures many more. Lightning is HOTTER than the surface of the Sun (really). SO, when you hear thunder or see lightning RUN inside. Don't do what this unfortunate couple did. Take it from me, I'm a meteorologist.
*****************************************************************
Fiancee Killed by Lightning During Surprise Wedding Proposal
Richard Butler was about to ask Bethany Lott to marry him last weekend when the cruelest hand of nature interrupted. They were at the top of North Carolina's Max Patch Bald , a 4,600-foot mountain on the Tennessee border.
Before the ring was out of his hand, the couple was struck by lightning. Lott, 25, was instantly killed and Butler, 30, was knocked down.
"She was probably five feet in front of me, so given the incline, she was a good bit higher than me, but it jumped to me," Butler told the Ashville, North Carolina, Citizen-Times. "I was spun 180 degrees and thrown several feet back. My legs turned to Jello, my shoes were smoking and the bottom of my feet felt like they were on fire."
Butler and his would-be fiancee braved the stormy skies and intermittent rain to take the hike she had wanted to take since they first dated. Her last words were reportedly, "'God, baby, look how beautiful it is." Lightning is beautiful, but deadly.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A New TV Show That Looks Good! The Cape


Our friend Jack sent us a heads up about a new TV show coming to NBC this fall. It looks well done, with action, drama and humor!
"The Cape" is a one-hour drama series starring David Lyons ("ER") as Vince Faraday, an honest cop on a corrupt police force, who finds himself framed for a series of murders and presumed dead. He is forced into hiding, leaving behind his wife, Dana (Jennifer Ferrin, "Life on Mars") and son, Trip (Ryan Wynott, "Flash Forward"). Fueled by a desire to reunite with his family and to battle the criminal forces that have overtaken Palm City, Faraday becomes "The Cape" his son's favorite comic book superhero -- and takes the law into his own hands. TO SEE A TRAILER FOR THE SHOW:
The Cape

GREAT READ: Murder She Wrote : Provence to Die for


Here's another GREAT READ in the Murder, She Wrote series of paperback mysteries!
This Murder, She Wrote novel brings Jessica Fletcher to the small French town of Province for a vacation. Jessica takes a cooking class from chef Emil Bertrand who is found murdered. Despite the French authorities not wanting her assistance in solving the crime with so many suspects, she is the only one that can put it all together. It gets really interesting in the last 100 pages as secrets unfold. Highly recommended!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Adventures at the Federal Hill Jazz Fest!

Ghosts and vampires DID make an appearance at Baltimore's Federal Hill annual Jazz & Blues Fest Sunday, June 6. At least, I (Rob) did with our friend Lynn J, whose husband Steve wrote a great parody of the book/movie "Twilight" called "Twilite: A Parody." Lynn was selling Steve's autographed books, and I was selling my book on "Ghosts and Spirits." To order "Twilite: A Parody" visit: www.twilightparody.com
We arrived at 10:10 a.m. for the 11am-7pm festival. We were armed with a table and chairs (borrowed), tent (borrowed), tablecloth, our books, bowls of candy and great signs that Lynn made for us!
Karma always plays into things and Karma didn't appear to be cooperating for the first 2 hours! One of the other vendors took our space, so we wound up set up next to a chicken and pork BBQ tent. It smelled good, but the smoke blew on us most of the time, so we both smelled like BBQ pig. :) Nope, it wasn't a new cologne.

(PHOTO: Rob at the Federal Hill Jazz Fest)
Unfortunately, the tent we borrowed was BROKEN on one side, so it kept collapsing. In the morning a cold front was approaching so the winds kicked gusts up to 20 mph, so Lynn and I wound up holding the tent most of the first hour until we could figure out how to secure it. I did run to the truck and got bungee cords that we used to hold it together. After an hour we were able to sit down!

(PHOTO: Lynn at our book table at Federal Hill's Jazz Festival)
We talked with a number of folks, and several told me of their ghost-experiences. Some asked about the differences between ghosts and spirits. Others are also developing mediums. In the end, we actually only sold one book each, which was very disappointing, but people don't go there to buy books. Oh, well. We enjoyed each other's company.
We were happily surprised when Lynn's hubby Steve arrived at the festival. The festival was in full-swing and packed with people,good food and music. Our friend Jim from Las Vegas was in town and came by to say hello, and our friends Jim and Craig came by, too! Between their visits and spending the afternoon with Lynn, it was fun. Tom (who was sick at home with a summer cold) called me at 3pm and warned us of strong thunderstorms, so we packed up quickly and left. Four hours in the heat was enough. Besides, Lynn and I both smelled like BBQ pig!

Book Event at Federal Hill's Jazz and Blues Fest Today!

Ghosts and vampires are going to make Baltimore's Federal Hill annual Jazz & Blues Fest their favorite "haunt" on Sunday, June 6. Two Maryland authors who wrote about real-life ghosts and a vampire parody of a famous novel will be at the festival talking with humans and signing their books.
Author and developing medium Rob Gutro just published a book called "Ghosts and Spirits: Insights from a Medium," about his abilities, experiences and how entities communicate with the living. Author Stephen Jenner recently published "Twilite: A Parody," a hysterical look at the characters created by Stephanie Meyers' famous novel turned-movie.
(IMAGE: This is a promotional poster that our friend Lynn J. made for the event!)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

WHAT would you do? - An Odd Help Request

Yesterday morning I received an email asking for help from a guy I've known since 2003. I haven't seen him since 2003 or 2004. I think he became involved with someone and we lost contact. Maybe once in those 6-7 years did we send an email.
In fact, he's not even on my local forecast list I send out weekly.
So, yesterday's email was a desperate plea for assistance. He's in the UK and he and his parents were apparently robbed and beaten. All of their cash, credit cards and phones were stolen. Fortunately, their passports were still in their hotel room. The incident happened outside the small hotel. The hotel manager will NOT release them until they pay (apparently in the U.K. this small hotel doesn't take a credit card up front for some odd reason). With no money, they can't pay!
So, "D" said in his email that he and his family checked with the U.S. Embassy and other places and no one would help them. Their plane departed yesterday and they're still being held at the hotel (How foolish is that to have them take up rooms where people could pay now?). "D" emailed and asked if I (and whoever else was BCC'd on his email) could give a credit card to the hotel to cover it, and he'd pay me (and whomever) back. I reluctantly agreed but after much back and forth the hotel manager (who speaks some weird mix of French and British English) said that his "credit card machine is broken" and he requested a Western Union money transfer.
For those who have used Western Union you know that they ONLY TAKE CASH, not credit cards. I learned about it. I told "D" I couldn't send him the $1800.00 to cover the bill, but could send a fraction of that to help cover some costs and get he and his family on the plane. He accepted and emailed back (he was using a library computer).
The whole thing sounds weird. A hotel that doesn't understand people were robbed. A hotel that refuses to let people fly home even with a promise to pay after a terrible incident. A U.S. Embassy that refuses to help. An old acquaintance that I haven't heard from in 6-7 years that suddenly needs urgent help and $1800 overseas. (I know he lives and works in DC). I'm just wondering where his true friends are, his boyfriend is, or his relatives are and why they're not helping him. I know he's shy, so perhaps he doesn't know many people. I just find it really strange, but I'm always willing to help someone out.
This morning I wired some money to him from Western Union (yes, in cash). I don't expect to ever see it again (I watch Judge Judy...who says, "don't lend money to people if you expect to get it back. You won't).
I hope he and his family are able to negotiate with what I sent, and get home. Meanwhile, if you travel, ALWAYS leave money and a credit card back at the hotel with your passport. We do. This is a lesson to all.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Some Federal Benefits Extended to Gay Partners... (Not all)

This announcement of the extension of SOME Federal benefits to same-sex domestic partners/married couples came yesterday. It's a step in the right direction. However, we STILL CAN'T include each other on Health Insurance or Retirement benefits. That foolish "DOMA" law needs to be struck down. Here's the article:
President Barack Obama has extended new benefits to same-sex domestic partners of federal employees, including those within the Defense Department.
Obama issued a presidential memorandum Wednesday that directs federal agencies to move immediately to make changes needed to extend to same-sex partners the same benefits afforded opposite-sex spouses, wherever permitted by law.
Federal agencies must report their findings to the Office of Personnel Management within 90 days. WHAT DOES IT INCLUDE? These benefits would include access to day care for children of employees’ domestic partners, travel and relocation allowances and access to employee assistance programs. Additional benefits could include gym and credit union memberships, access to career and other counseling and assistance services and government medical facilities and lodging allowances, according to implementing guidance the Office of Personnel Management issued to federal agencies.
The new policy does not extend health insurance benefits under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program or retirement benefits to same-sex partners. That would require legislative changes, such as those being proposed in the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act, which Obama supports.
Obama stipulated in signing the memorandum that as federal agencies extend new benefits, they provide same-sex partners the same coverage provided to opposite-sex spouses, to the extent the law permits.
“This is another major step forward for gay and lesbian federal employees,” said OPM Director John Berry. “But it’s also a good business practice. This will help us retain valuable employees and better compete with other employers for top talent.”

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Free Dunkin' Donut Day- Friday June 4th- Go Get it!

Git it! Git it! Git it! It's FREE DONUT DAY at Dunkin' Donuts on Friday, June 4th! You get a free donut when you purchase a drink. Save a double-chocolate donut for me!

Nashville Flood Dolly Parton gives $250,000 toward flood relief

This article from the Nashville Tennessean Newspaper highlights why Dolly Parton is such a great inspiration to me on how people should live. She's always helping people!

Wednesday morning, Dolly Parton gave $250,000 to the United Way’s Middle Tennessee flood relief fund, and simultaneously conjured an old John Prine lyric.
“She said, ‘Carl, take all the money.’ She called everybody ‘Carl,’” Prine once sang. On Wednesday, Parton made numerous jokes about the fact that her husband of 44 years is named Carl Dean, and Nashville’s mayor — who was on hand to thank Parton for the donation — is named Karl Dean.
“Everybody’s been calling from all over the United States saying what a wonderful job my husband has been doing,” Parton said.
The Country Music Hall of Famer’s donation came from admission proceeds from her Dollywood and Dixie Stampede properties and from fan contributions to www.dollyparton.com. She chose the United Way’s Restore the Dream Fund as the donation recipient because she is impressed by the on-the-ground work that the United Way has been doing. “They’re actually going out into these areas where people have lost everything and trying to get them back into their homes,” Parton said.
The singer’s gift adds to the millions of dollars that have been raised by musicians for flood relief. “The music community has been sensational,” said mayor Dean, who blushed a bit after Parton sent some fawning words his way. He also attempted to clear up the Karl Dean/Carl Dean situation. “I don’t get to be Ms. Parton’s husband, only the mayor of Nashville,” Dean said. “I’ll work harder in the next life.”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Owners Stop Paying Mortgage and Leech from Those Who Do

We understand that people lose their houses due to the economy, but to PURPOSELY not pay a mortgage and then spend money frivolously on dinners, boating excursions, etc. and expect those people (like us) that DO pay their mortgage to cover their bad behavior is outrageous.
Tom Says: This story says that a bunch of idiots that got in over their heads, refuse to pay their mortgage, and are daring the banks to kick them out of the house! Meanwhile, they go out to eat all the time, take their boat out, etc. Jerks! Meanwhile, those of us that pay their mortgage faithfully get stuck. The jerk in this article says that when the bank comes back to the bargaining table, they’re going to talk about refinancing at what the house is worth today – NOT WHAT THEY BORROWED. Which means all the money they stole will have to be “forgiven”. What about people like you and me? I’d like to have half of the mortgage “forgiven.” UGH!

Here's the story:
Owners Stop Paying Mortgage ... And Stop Fretting About It
NY Times 6/1/10
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For Alex Pemberton and Susan Reboyras, foreclosure is becoming a way of life — something they did not want but are in no hurry to get out of.
Foreclosure has allowed them to stabilize the family business. Go to Outback occasionally for a steak. Take their gas-guzzling airboat out for the weekend. Visit the Hard Rock Casino.
“Instead of the house dragging us down, it’s become a life raft,” said Mr. Pemberton, who stopped paying the mortgage on their house here last summer. “It’s really been a blessing.”
A growing number of the people whose homes are in foreclosure are refusing to slink away in shame. They are fashioning a sort of homemade mortgage modification, one that brings their payments all the way down to zero. They use the money they save to get back on their feet or just get by.
This type of modification does not beg for a lender’s permission but is delivered as an ultimatum: Force me out if you can. Any moral qualms are overshadowed by a conviction that the banks created the crisis by snookering homeowners with loans that got them in over their heads.
“I tried to explain my situation to the lender, but they wouldn’t help,” said Mr. Pemberton’s mother, Wendy Pemberton, herself in foreclosure on a small house a few blocks away from her son’s. She stopped paying her mortgage two years ago after a bout with lung cancer. “They’re all crooks.”
Foreclosure procedures have been initiated against 1.7 million of the nation’s households. The pace of resolving these problem loans is slow and getting slower because of legal challenges, foreclosure moratoriums, government pressure to offer modifications and the inability of the lenders to cope with so many souring mortgages.
The average borrower in foreclosure has been delinquent for 438 days before actually being evicted, up from 251 days in January 2008, according to LPS Applied Analytics.

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