Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tom's Observations of Construction Around the DC Monuments

Washington Monument under construction
Tom wrote the blog today, focusing on the construction and monuments that we saw this weekend. 
This past weekend, Mary Ann, a close friend of ours was in town and stayed with us for the weekend. Typical for those of us that live in the DC area, we often revert to the role of tour guide on such occasions. I was actually looking forward to our friend’s visit because there were several things that I actually wanted to see. In particular: the recently completed renovations to the Reflecting Pool between the Lincoln and the WWII Memorials.
This $34 million project was to be a total tear out and replacement of the 90 year old original which was leaking and sinking. Well, to say I was disappointed in the results is an understatement. The border of the pond is constructed of granite blocks that are about 18 inches wide by 4 feet long. As we walked along the pool's southern perimeter, I stopped counting how many of the new granite blocks are broken, chipped, or had chunks missing out of the finished surface.
Mary Ann saw the monument under construction last time, too!
The completed project is supposed to be equipped with a new filtration system which is supposed to keep the water circulating, and refresh the water with water from the Tidal Basin rather than from the city’s municipal water system. The reason for this new filtration system was to reduce the amount of algae growth. Again, failure. I was dismayed to see the amount of brown gunk collecting on the bottom of the pool and a fresh crop of new algae was just beginning to grow in the warm late spring sunshine.

Equally disappointing was to see the amount of construction taking place at the WWII Memorial. The memorial opened to the public in April 2004; that’s just 8 years ago. And to see the fountains drained and so much of the memorial under construction again is quite a disappointment and eyesore.
Flowers outside the Smithsonian Castle

Are there any other DC residents out there that know the scoop on what's going on with our memorials and why they're in such bad condition?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Photo of the Week: Tom and the Dogs -Like Lucy!

Tyler, Tom, Franklin and Dolly
Lucy, Ethel, Ricky and Fred
Awhile ago I took this great picture of Tom and three of the dogs sitting in our pickup truck as I was about to get in.The picture reminds both of us of an episode from "I Love Lucy" with the expressions on everyone's faces!  In fact, I pasted a photo of Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel below for comparison. :) 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

In the News: NEVADA: State Senator Comes Out As Marriage Ban Repeal Advances

From the blog: http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2013/04/david-barton-same-sex-marriage-is.html

This week, the Nevada Senate became the very first state legislative body to overturn a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The finish line, however, is more than three years away. Chris Geidner reports at Buzzfeed:

After a little more than an hour of debate in which one senator publicly declared that he was gay for the first time, the Nevada Senate voted 12-9 to repeal the state's 2002 amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman and replace it with language requiring the recognition of all marriages between two people, "regardless of gender." In addition to out LGBT Sens. David Parks and Pat Spearman, Sen. Kelvin Atkinson declared on the floor during the debate, "I am a black, gay male."
With Akinson's coming out, Nevada now has three openly gay state Senators. The repeal bill now goes to the state Assembly. If it passes there, both chambers must again approve the repeal during the 2015 session before the issue can be placed before the voters in 2016.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

FUNNY VIDEO: Voice recognition lift- eleven

Here's a very funny video from a BBC TV show in 2011. It's about voice recognition technology in an elevator that doesn't recognize a Scottish accent.
Official site for the guys: http://www.connellandflorence.com

Friday, April 26, 2013

VIDEO TRAILER: The Man of Steel! (New Superman film opening in June!)

The new Superman movie "The Man of Steel" comes out this June and here's the official movie trailer. It gave me chills, but I'm a huge Superman fan. I think you'll like it too - Go see it when it comes out!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tips to Get in Touch During Emergencies

WIRED magazine put this article together after the Boston Marathon tragedy last week, so people can have a good idea of the best way to contact loved ones during an emergency. TEXTING and Social Media are better than calling.  Here's the article:

Cell signals and land lines can be jammed with the massive amount of calls flowing in and out of an area- but TEXTING can get through. And in the case of the Boston Marathon tragedy, some cell service was shut down altogether
  • Don’t call. Leave the lines open for first responders.
  • Text. AT&T recommends using text messages rather than voice calls to avoid getting stymied by network congestion–the smaller data packets can often sneak through while the larger voice files get stuck.
  • Use Apps. While cell networks and phone lines are generally limited to one communication protocol, apps like GroupMe, Twitter, or Facebook Messenger can reach out and touch in several different ways.

    If You’re the loved one we’re trying to reach:

  • Get to a hardwired data connection. If you’re in an affected area, a cable internet connection might be your best bet–these fatter pipes are made to handle larger surges of traffic, and have a decent track record of withstanding worst case scenarios.
  • You tell us! Email your mom, update your Facebook status, tweet your condition and whereabouts. Whether you’re totally fine or in desperate need of help, let the viral nature of the internet work for you. You’d be surprised how many people are worried.
  • **VERY SMART**Update your voicemail message. If you can make only one call, make it to your voicemail. Change your outgoing message, so when folks try to reach you and the call goes straight to voicemail, they still get updated on your status.
SOURCE: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/04/loved-ones-contact-during-disaster/

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rob's Appearance at the Kensington Book Festival / Car Trouble!

Rob's table at the book festival
On Sunday, April 21, I (Rob) took part in the Kensington Book Festival in Maryland. I paid for a space and set up my table to meet people, sell and sign my books. As with every event, there's much more than just signing books... there are stories and encounters from others who want to share their stories or ask for help.
  Tom drove me over and dropped me off, so I didn't have to deal with parking, and I was so grateful. It was crazy enough trying to find the place to set up and get organized. What a great hubby, I have. :)
Diane brings Rob smiles on that cold day
    The day was unseasonably cold with temperatures in the upper 30s in the morning and only in the low-mid 50s for a couple of hours in the afternoon, despite the sunshine. The wind chill made it feel like it was in the 40s most of the day. Although chilly it was sunny and I got a good sunburn on my face and neck.
  Our friend Diane brought her husband Mark to the event, so I was finally able to meet him (after knowing her a couple of years!). We know Diane through Inspired Ghost Tracking, the group we belong to that investigates historic places and private homes. Diane is so sweet - she heard a college student talking to me about her experiences and came over to me and bought a book for the student (who didn't seem to have the money for it). What an amazing gesture of kindness.  It was great to meet Mark, too, who doesn't come to the ghost group meetings - he's warm, funny, and like a big ole teddy bear. He's from Scotland, too, so he has that great scottish accent. :) They made my day.
Mark and Rob
  People that came to my table had encounters with Earth-bound ghosts, or spirits of loved ones they lost and received signs from. Three teenage girls told me they used a ouija board, and then things started to happen in their home- which I told them is no surprise. It opens a doorway and anything can come in. I gave them a card for Inspired Ghost Tracking, and have a feeling that I'll be visiting their house with the group to clear it. Don't ever use Ouija boards!  - Another person told me that weird things are going on in their business and causing some employees to quit. Still others mentioned that spirits of their loved ones have visited. It was fascinating to talk with everyone. That's the best part.
  Some wanted to get messages from their loved ones from learned mediums so I gave them business cards of my friends and great mediums Barb Mallon and Ruth Larkin. 
View from Rob's Table
  As for book sales, well, in 6 1/2 hours, I made just enough to pay for the space I rented at the festival - all of the authors had a similar experience. Perhaps it was the cold.. Regardless, the bottom line is that it's about educating the public that there's more than just this life - and if I can give people hope then I've done what I needed to do.

Tom loaded up all four of our dogs in the pick up truck's cab and drove to the festival to pick me up. He parked in a lot near the festival and turned off the truck. When I arrived and loaded the truck, it wouldn't turn over!
Testing the battery
Tom and the mechanic
That's always been one of my biggest fears- having all of the dogs and a car or truck that wouldn't start. I called AAA (I can't recommend a membership enough) and explained the problem. The rep on the phone said it sounded like a bad battery, so she requested a battery mechanic. In about 20 minutes the  mechanic arrived and tested the battery. It had a very low charge, and was fading. Fortunately, he had a replacement, and installed it, checked it, and we were on our way. BTW- It's always nice to tip these guys. This guy came out on a Sunday evening at 5:30pm. I'm so thankful for AAA!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

MUST WATCH: Maurice Williamson, New Zealand MP, Delivers Incredible Gay Marriage Speech

A MUST WATCH: New Zealand just made gay marriage a law.  This short video footage of a New Zealand lawmaker's jovial, though nonetheless poignant, gay marriage speech is making the blogosphere rounds. OUR LEGISLATORS NEED TO WATCH THIS AND LEARN FROM IT.
Maurice Williamson left other Parliament members in stitches with his speech, which was delivered just before New Zealand became the first Asia-Pacific nation (and the 13th in the world) to legalize same-sex marriage marriage.

"I've had a reverend in my local electorate say, 'The gay onslaught will start the day this law is passed.' Well, we are struggling to know what the gay onslaught will look like," Williamson, who has three adopted children of his own, joked. "I also had a leader telling me I would burn in the fires of hell for eternity, and that was a bad mistake, because I've got a degree in physics."
After Williamson poked more fun at his opponents, his speech took a more serious turn. "All we are doing with this bill is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognized by way of marriage," he said. "We are not declaring nuclear war on a foreign state; we are not bringing a virus in that could wipe out our agriculture sector forever."
Williamson also took to Twitter to drive his point home, pointing to a rainbow which appeared over his electorate:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy 75th Anniversary on the Creation of Superman!

On April 18, 1938 two boys from Ohio created the character of Superman. That means that Superman has been around 75 years! Superman  made his debut in Action Comics No. 1.
 - As a huge Superman fan, I'm (Rob) excited about this milestone. I still collect and read Superman comics every month.

Rob and Dolly as Supes and Krypto

Superman and Krypto in Baltimore 2009
 The city of Cleveland—where Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster grew up—had some low-key festivities  for him. The A.P. reports  Cleveland celebrated by lighting its city hall with Superman’s patriotic colors and “giving out birthday cake at the airport’s Superman display.” The mayor has proclaimed the date “Superman day.”

Did you know that there's a Superman exhibit, located on the baggage claim level near carousel 10 in Cleveland's airport? I didn't, and it makes me curious.

The best birthday recognition will come this June when the movie "the Man of Steel" comes out in theaters. It stars hunky, muscular, handsome Henry Cavill of Tudors fame. Can't wait.

LISTEN TO AN NPR STORY ABOUT THE ANNIVERSARY: http://www.npr.org/2013/04/18/177641592/cleveland-celebrates-superman-its-hometown-hero?sc=emaf

Panels from Action Comics No. 1, the first Superman comic, adorn the site of illustrator Joe Shuster's former apartment building, long since demolished.

Though dated June, Action Comics No. 1 was published on April 18, 1938. Art by Joe Shuster, who co-created the character with writer Jerry Siegel.

USA TODAY PHOTO GALLERY OF SUPERMAN COMIC BOOK COVERS AND ACTORS WHO PORTRAYED THE MAN OF STEEL: http://www.today.com/books/its-bird-its-plane-its-super-septuagenarian-1C9504707

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Encounter: A Fool Goes for Coffee

Here's a true and short story of a fool that's just too priceless not to share. 
Yesterday I (Rob) stopped in Panera Bread to get bagels for the week. While waiting for them a woman about 50ish got coffee to go and a bagel in a bag. After she paid for them she walked back over to the counter where I was standing and called the manager over. She asked if the manager had any individual cream containers because she was buying the coffee for someone else and she didn't know how they took their coffee. Fair enough.
   Here's where the FOOL part comes in. The manager said "Sure, we have small containers of cream. How many would you like?"
  The customer gazed at the manager like the manager had three heads. The customer said "How should I know? I'm buying it for someone else?" The manager patiently asked again, after explaining the cream was in a small container. The customer again said, "I have no idea." DUH.  She simply could've said two or three. Instead she stood there like an idiot.
   The manager then said, "well, how many cups of coffee did you buy?"
   The customer replied, "Just one."
   So the manager went and got about 4 cream containers and put them in a bag and handed them to the dumb customer.
  GEEZ. These people vote, drive and have children!!! 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Tom the Gardening Wonder Boy / Rob's new word

Tom loves to garden. He couldn't wait for springtime so he could get outside in the backyard, and this past weekend proved it.
TOM'S GARDENING: After stopping at a nursery where Tom bought 12 shrubs, and about 24 lower ground plants,  I (Rob) went grocery shopping and Tom went planting in the backyard!
  Here are some of the pics of his work, although the photos don't do his work justice. We have a great backyard thanks to his efforts and planning.

Dolly inspecting Tom's line of shrubs

Is Dolly going to help daddy Rob demonstrate his new word?

   My contribution to the backyard is "Pooperation."
  Here's the definition: Pooperation: : The convenience of picking up after your dog when there's a trash barrel around (fortunately we have one near the backyard).
  It DID get sunny enough one day this weekend to make our "Solar powered fountain" work for a day, but clouds moved in Sunday, Monday...etc....

Friday, April 19, 2013

FOOL OF THE WEEK: Email this Story Iowa lawmaker says gay relationships threaten health of his family

Here's a story about another right-wing fool of the week: 
  Iowa lawmaker says gay relationships threaten health of his family
  • KCCI-TV, Iowa:   DES MOINES, Iowa —A Republican senator from northern Iowa said homosexual lifestyles pose a health risk to him and his family in comments that drew a sharp rebuke from an openly gay Democratic senator.

    To see the fool - NEWS VIDEO: http://www.kcci.com/news/politics/Senator-makes-controversial-comments-on-gay-lifestyle/-/9356970/19786994/-/lr1b9yz/-/index.html
    "This is something I campaigned on. It's a part of why I'm here as a senator today," Sen. Dennis Guth said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
    Guth, of Klemme, said the media has "bamboozled" the public into a growing acceptance of gay relationships and argues his family faces "health risks" because of sexually transmitted infections he said are associated with a gay lifestyle.
    "The media, for the most part, has bamboozled us into thinking that having a relationship outside of the boundaries of monogamous, heterosexual marriage is positive, happy and fulfilling," he said. Guth then compared the choice of smoking to what he said was the choice of being gay.
  • "There are health risks that my family incurs because of the increase of sexually transmitted infections that this lifestyle invites. For example, there are more and more medical tests required before giving blood, or giving birth," he said.
    Guth's comments were quickly condemned by Sen. Matt McCoy, of Des Moines, who said Guth was using "warmed-over rhetoric that has been invented by the Christian-right extremist groups." McCoy said being gay isn't a choice, but "you certainly can choose to be ignorant."
    "What I heard today was ignorant," McCoy said.
    McCoy told KCCI that he was surprised by the comments.


Tired of the smiley and frowning emoticons?  Mom F. in Maine introduced us to new emoticons called:  E-MOONING.

  Well, how about some 'ASSICONS?'
Here goes:
(_!_) a regular ass
(__!__) a fat ass
(!) a tight ass
(_*_) an ass  hole
{_!_} a swishy ass
(_o_) an ass that's been around
(_x_) kiss my ass
(_X_) leave my ass alone
(_zzz_) a tired ass
(_E=mc2_) a smart ass
(_$_) Money coming out of his ass
(_?_) Dumb Ass

MUST WATCH: Video: Obama condemns a 'shameful day for Washington'

 We join the President in his anger and disgust with Republican politicians (and 4 Democrats) who refused to protect citizens by simply getting more background checks despite what the majority of U.S. citizens want. That means checks on convicted felons,  people who commit domestic violence, and with severe mental illness. 90% of Republicans voted AGAINST smarter background checks because they fear not being re-elected, or retaliation by the NRA who would put millions against electing them in their next elections. Obviously, the GOP cares more about re-election than what the American people want.  
**This law would SIMPLY extend the same rules to guns purchased by a dealer to guns purchased at gun shows or over the Internet. HOW IS THIS BAD?*   - The NRA lied about the bill claiming it created a gun registry, but the bill did not.  
  **If you're reading this and you agree that background checks are a bad thing, educate yourself. When you lose a child to a gun, then perhaps you'll have a different perspective. Sadly, that would be too late.

WATCH the President's Speech:
 Obama condemns a ’shameful day for Washington’\
A visibly angry President Obama spoke from the White House this afternoon, following the successful Republican filibuster that derailed a bipartisan background-check compromise. For all the punditry in recent years about the president being a Spock-like professor, too reserved to show his emotions, I think this 13-minute speech should end that meme -- permanently.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Obama described today as a "pretty shameful day for Washington," though he vowed to keep the fight alive. "I want to make it clear to the American people that we can still bring about meaningful changes that reduce gun violence."
The president added, in no uncertain terms, "Instead of supporting this compromise, the gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill."
I've seen Obama animated, but I don't think I've ever seen the president so obviously disgusted. Watch the clip; you'll be glad you did.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

*POSTPONED* - Tech Problems / Rob and Inspired Ghost Tracking being Interviewed on Internet Radio

9:05pm EDT UPDATE***Technical Difficulties- Blogtalk Radio is down for the show. It has been cancelled tonight and will be  rescheduled. ***

Tune in TONIGHT on Internet Radio- I join fellow Inspired Ghost Tracking members for radio interview. Inspired Ghost Tracking will be on the radio with PMZ Ladies Night on tonight, April 18 at 9:00 PM. Come over and listen to the show. Meet members: Anthony Holmes, Craig Allen, Ronda Dixon, Rob Gutro, and Margaret Perry Ehrlich.


Wow- A Young Woman's Response to Someone About Equality

On March 26 people who supported marriage equality made this their FB photo
  On March 26, a good number of people who supported marriage equality posted a red square with an Equal sign in it as their "photo" on Facebook. Recently, facebook issued a map showing the number of the population on FB who did in a map of the U.S. The darker the shade, the more red Facbeook symbols.  Look at the graph below of the U.S. - the U.S. South appears very pale (i.e., not much equality going on there).
  I (Rob) happened to come across a GREAT response from a young woman who is apparently very knowledgeable about Christianity, and used that in her response from someone who claimed to be a Christian and was against gay marriage. The response from this young woman is so incredible I had to share it.

  • 5,519 people like this.
  • Bob Tilden Someone posted a comment on my daughters FB page stating their belief that God doesn't support Gay lifestyles. Here's my daughter's response...
    "First of all, the reason I support gay marriage has nothing to do with religion. Absolutely nothing. In fac
    t, I am not a religious person at all. I am a person who values the idea of equal rights for ALL people regardless of religion, race, gender, and sexuality.
    Second, since you repeatedly insist on forcing your Christian beliefs on those around you, I would be more that happy to share a religious Christian-based perspective on the subject of gay marriage. After all, I’ve studied Christianity in school, and I’ve read the Bible cover-to-cover. As a Christian, you are a person who adheres to Christianity, a religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament.
    Please point me to the passage where Jesus rules on homosexuality – a quote from Jesus, not a quote from the Old Testament, the letters of his disciples, or the rest of the canon. As far as I remember, he’s rather tight-lipped on the subject. I’d say that means it wasn’t exactly a priority. The Old Testament is full of “laws” which no Christian would endorse today, and many of which Jesus explicitly breaks (the blind man of Bethsaida and the Sabbath). I asked for one passage from a Gospel, attributable to Jesus himself, in which he explicitly condemns homosexuality. You wont find one.

    What you will find is Jesus, time and time again, EXPLICITLY – not in some vague, shrouded metaphor or heavily interpreted quote – condemning hate, bigotry, judgementalism, and those who are so naïve or full of hubris as to seriously believe they know God’s will beyond a shadow of a doubt. Jesus’s priority is clear – don’t be assholes. It’s clearly not “oh, by the way, do whatever the hell you can to stop gays from getting married.”

    Funny how you can’t imagine being wrong.
    The church has been wrong on many fronts in the past, and will be wrong in the future. It is a human institution, and will always be fallible. We should never stop thinking, never stop praying, and never stop asking ourselves if what we’re doing is as Christ would do – even when the church says otherwise.
    Jesus loved the blind, he loved the poor, he loved the lepers, and showed tolerance of all groups that contemporary religious leaders overlooked. In fact, the people who bore the brunt of his condemnation were THOSE WHO JUDGED OTHERS – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, the elders. He was, if you will, an anti-institution activist. He was for the common man, and preached a message of getting back to basics - those basics being love, peace, tolerance, prayer, and generally not being a dick to other people.
    That’s why I’d imagine the big man upstairs would be far more insulted by the hatred, bigotry, and lack of tolerance we’re displaying toward our fellow men than by the “sin” they’re exercising. He said do not judge lest we be judged ourselves, and that’s exactly what you and like-minded individuals are doing. You clearly believe homosexuality is a sin. But do you also believe choosing to be hateful or bigoted is sinful? I sure to – especially considering how unapologetic such sinners tend to be. Once again, Jesus’ message above all, was unquestionably LOVE and TOLERANCE. That is the one line summary of the man and his Gospel. And if that’s something the church can’t get behind, it’s high time it stopped calling itself a Christian church.

    So let the gays, lesbians, transsexuals, and the like choose as they like, do as they like, love as they like, and receive EQUAL government benefits and protections under the law as they like.
    NOBODY’S TRYING TO MAKE THE CHURCH RECOGNIZE GAY MARRIAGE – we’re just trying to protect them EQUALLY under civil law.

    LOVE, Hannah

    And if you insist on taking all of the bible seriously, I suggest you re-read Timothy 2:11 “I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent.”
    I really think he’s speaking to you with that one ☺

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Great Book: "For Bea" - about a former lab dog who was rescued!

I really enjoyed reading the book "For Bea"
about a special beagle named Bea. Its a story about a beagle that the author and her husband found- the dog had escaped somehow from a lab that was using beagles for testing. The story has a great ending though, and is filled with history of the breed and other fun facts. The writer wrote it an an entertaining way. I highly recommend this book for all dog lovers. It will also make you aware of how dogs were (and in some cases still are) used for testing, and the author provides ways you can do something about it at the end. This is a wonderful book!

To find it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/For-Bea-Kristen-Von-Kreisler/dp/1585423688

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

RNC Passes Unanimous Resolution Affirming GOP Is Still Against Gay Marriage

Well, it's official. The GOP platform continues to refuse to acknowledge gay people as equals or humans for that matter. I honestly don't understand a party that wants to exclude ANY citizens of the U.S.   The article below appeared in the Huffington Post last week and just goes to show that the GOP is out of touch and are truly bigoted. New polls indicate 63% of  Americans support gay marriage, but the GOP still stands against it firmly... AND they're nasty about it. One idiot likened gay people to those "dying of alcoholism" and called them "filthy."I'm so tired of this old, outdated, hate-filled, love-only-the rich, preach Jesus-and-act-the-opposite- party.  Sure, so it's okay for GOP people like the former SC governor to Commit Adultery and use 74K of the state's money (steal) to see his mistress in South America, but gay marriage is a heinous thing?  I don't think so. That hypocritical thief is NOW the front runner for a U.S. House seat!!  Can you believe it?  If anyone says this man is a "Christian" or say they are "Christians" and vote for the face of adultery, thievery, coveting, etc. - they're hypocrites.  (article: http://news.yahoo.com/scs-ex-gov-sanford-clears-hurdle-comeback-bid-023619843--election.html)

IN THE NEWS: RNC Passes Unanimous Resolution Affirming GOP Is Still Against Gay Marriage  (No surprise here)

RNC committee members gathered at their annual spring conference in Los Angeles voted unanimously on Friday to approve a number of resolutions, including one to reaffirm that the GOP still opposes gay marriage, Time's Zeke J. Miller reported.
"[T]he Republican National Committee affirms its support for marriage as the union of one man and one woman, and as the optimum environment in which to raise healthy children for the future of America; and be it further resolved, the Republican National Committee implores the U. S. Supreme Court to uphold the sanctity of marriage in its rulings on California’s Proposition 8 and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act," the resolution, first obtained by Chris Moody of Yahoo News, read.
Miller reports that the resolution was submitted by RNC committeeman Dave Agema, a Michigan Republican who has drawn criticism for calling gays and lesbians "filthy" and comparing them to people who were "dying of alcoholism."
While such an anti-gay plank already existed in the party's official platform, confirmed last summer at the Republican National Convention, the latest vote comes after a week of public consternation among social conservatives concerned that the party's aversion to marriage equality was beginning to wither in the name of expanding its outreach.

Monday, April 15, 2013

It's Official: We're Adopting Tyler!

Dolly and Tyler cuddling
Well - We've made the big decision - We're officially adopting Tyler, our foster dog- the black and tan, mini dachshund!  We sent a letter to Melissa of Coast-to-Coast dachshund rescue on April 11, 2013 and confirmed it. We're very excited! . We love little Tyler and he has really become a part of our family. Tyler eats, sleeps and plays with Dolly. In fact, Tyler never leaves Dolly's side!
Dolly and Tyler- inseperable!
  Tyler has really brightened up Dolly's life as well as ours! We love his energy, his affection and his playful personality.
  Like all of our "kids" Tyler has a nickname. He loves to jump up and down a LOT, so we called him "bean" for "jumping bean." Of course, that also becomes "beaner," or "beanimus"- and we think he's just "Beantastic!" 
 We are really excited about officially making Tyler a part of our "Canine kids" family!  

playtime with Dolly and Tyler!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

In the News: Cohabitation first is new norm for unmarrieds with kids

I found this article about straight couples very interesting -since gay people really WANT to get married, and it appears that straight couples prefer not getting married and  living together, even having children together out of wedlock.  Given these facts (which have been about the same for a decade or two), conservatives should RUSH to endorse gay marriage where two people in love want to make a legal, loving, monogamous commitment to each other. Fascinating. 

Cohabitation first is new norm for unmarrieds with kids

New report gives a fuller picture of cohabitation in the USA.

   Unmarried [Straight]  couples who live together are staying together longer than in the past — and more of them are having children, according to the first federal data out Thursday that details just how cohabitation is transforming families across the USA.
   For almost half of women ages 15-44, their "first union" was cohabitation rather than marriage, says the report from the National Center for Health Statistics. For less than one-quarter, the first union was marriage. The report was based on in-person interviews conducted between 2006 and 2010 with 12,279 women ages 15-44.
"Instead of marriage, people are moving into cohabitation as a first union," says demographer Casey Copen, the report's lead author. "It's kind of a ubiquitous phenomenon now."
Although cohabitation and fertility have been reviewed previously, Copen says this report is the first analyzing the relationship between the two, and the first from the federal government to give detailed data on how long cohabiting relationships last. Among the findings:
-- As a first union, 48% of women cohabited with their male partner, up from 43% in 2002 and 34% in 1995.
-- 23% of first unions were marriages, down from 30% in 2002 and 39% in 1995. The percentage of women who cohabited as a first union increased for all races and ethnic groups, except Asian women. Among Hispanics, the percentage increased 57%; for whites, 43%; for blacks, 39%.
-- 22 months is the median duration of first cohabitation, up from 20 months in 2002 and 13 months in 1995.
-- 19% of women became pregnant and gave birth in the first year of a first premarital cohabitation.
-- Within three years of cohabiting, 40% of women had transitioned to marriage; 32% remained living together; 27% had broken up.
"The United States has long had the shortest cohabiting relationships of any wealthy nation and now these relationships are lengthening," says sociologist Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
Demographers say education plays a huge role in how these romantic relationships play out.
The new data show 70% of women without a high school diploma cohabited as a first union, compared with 47% of those with a bachelor's degree or higher. Among women ages 22-44 with higher education, their cohabitations were more likely to transition to marriage by within years (53%), compared with 30% for those who didn't graduate high school.
"What we're seeing here is the emergence of children within cohabiting unions among the working class and the poor," Cherlin says. "They have high standards for marriage and they don't think they can meet them for now, but increasingly, it's not stopping them from having a child. Having children within cohabiting unions is much more common among everybody but the college educated."
"Cohabitation is a common part of family formation in the United States, and serves both as a step toward marriage and as an alternative to marriage," the report says.
Mark Mather, a demographer at the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit research organization, says education is the "main determining factor of whether this is a transition to marriage or maybe a short-term union."
"Those with less education are much more likely to break up," he says. "They may enter a second or third cohabiting union. There tends to be a lot more instability."
Sociologist Sarah Hayford of Arizona State University in Tempe, who studies cohabiting relationships, says they are complicated.
"It seems like cohabiting unions are playing different roles for different people," she says.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

IN THE NEWS: Some Pampered U.K. Dogs Have their Own Stairlift

So, you think we spoil our "kids"? Check out this article from the U.K. that our friend Paul sent us from Windsor, England. This is a pretty costly chair lift! - We just carry our 16 year old senior Dachshund up and down stairs... it's a lot more affordable!!  :)
It's amazing what people spend money on. They could just carry the dogs upstairs - and I'm sure the couple could use the exercise.  :) Rob

Meet the pampered dogs who have their own stairlift

Published on 09/04/2013 09:03
They are the trio of pampered pooches who don’t have to lift a paw to get to the top of the stairs.
For doting dog owners Sheila and Harry Lee have installed a £1,500 stairlift for their three dachshunds at their dormer bungalow in Ossett near Wakefield.
Mrs Lee and husband Harry, a retired Leeds Tetley Brewery worker, invested in the contraption after becoming concerned the pooches were straining themselves while climbing the stairs.
Eldest dog Pippa, six, has previously suffered with back problems and had to undergo a £5,000 operation on her spine.
RIDING IN STYLE: Sheila Lee watches as dachshunds Pippa, Heidi and Millie ride the stairs in her Ossett home. PIC: Ross Parry
Mrs Lee believes her luxury chairlift will hopefully save Pippa from more pain and she and fellow canines Millie, seven, and Heidi, six, are enjoying their regular rides.
Mrs Lee said: “We saw an advertisement for the stairlift and thought ‘Why not?’.
“But when the company we bought it from rang up a few weeks ago to see how we were getting on with it, they were flabbergasted when I told them it was for the dogs.
“I bet they thought that I’d lost my marbles.
“But dachshunds often develop back problems and they were struggling to get up the steep steps into our bedroom, which is where they’ve always slept.
“Pippa got through her complex operation but we obviously wanted to avoid her struggling with the stairs and causing further damage, and the health of the other two was also a concern.”
She added: “Our prime concern was Pippa due to her operation, but the other dogs now use the stairlift too and it’s lovely to watch.”

Friday, April 12, 2013

Head-Shaking "Ask Amy" Column

We recently read this letter in the "Ask Amy"section of the newspaper and wonder why people don't think they don't deserve better in their relationships. Apparently, the woman that wrote this letter doesn't think much of herself, but she really needs to move on. 
 **If you're feeling down about yourself or don't think you deserve good things, think again. You are as wonderful as the next person. *Having more money or less money than someone else doesn't define what's inside. What's inside your heart and soul is what makes you special.   
  Now, read this letter and see what you think.
Ask Amy: Hot-tubbing at the house tests relationship 
DEAR AMY: My live-in boyfriend of five years has recently rekindled a friendship with a girl he knew in grade school. Twice in the last week he has invited her to our home to play pool, have a lot of drinks and soak in our hot tub. He hasn't shared his plans to have her over until the last minute as I was leaving work; at that point he then extended the invite for me to join them.
I feel as if I'm in second place to him hanging out with another female in our home. I speak my mind about how it makes me feel, and the situation gets spun as if I'm crazy. He then won't speak to me for the rest of the night. Sometimes he spins some negativity back on me so that he can be upset with me on something that is off topic.
As they spend hours hanging out, laughing, drinking, playing pool, soaking in our hot tub until past midnight, I'm sitting in my room boiling under the surface. I'm upset and sad that he doesn't comfort me as they're having a blast. She has a boyfriend, and my boyfriend reassures me they would never cross the line and become intimate. I trust that.
I try to speak to him, but most of the time he has had a few drinks, or he is drinking with his friends and insults me, or he shuts me down and dismisses my feelings. Should I give him space to be with her? Am I an idiot? I cannot speak to him rationally about this because he loses his composure and it escalates. I feel alone. — Lonely Girlfriend

Our answer is: Get the heck OUT of that ridiculous relationship, girl. If you do stay in it, yes, you are an idiot. You deserve better. - Rob 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Come Hear Ghost Stories and Share Yours;FREE -tomorrow in Jessup, Md.

Tomorrow night, Friday, April 12, 2013 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM EDT, come "Share Your Paranormal Story" night at Inspired Ghost Tracking, Jessup, Md.!

The event is free and open to the public. No reservation required, but you can register (free) by emailing:inspiredghst@aol.com (to get a head count as seating is limited). 

 Rob will talk about living in a Kentucky Haunted House (featured in his book "Ghosts and Spirits") and other members of Inspired Ghost Tracking and the general public will share their experiences. Directions: http://www.inspiredeventsofmd.com/upcomingEvents.html

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Home Project: Spring Yard Fix-up!

Sod being trucked in!
We've been struggling for years to make grass grow in the backyard. Recently we had to have a huge, old pine tree taken down because it was rotting. We just had the stump removed and the backyard filled with good soil, thanks to our friend Shayne Ryan of Taproots Lawn and Garden. He did an amazing job. The dark, rich soil he brought in was also laden with manure, so when the dogs came inside, they had to have "foot baths"!
 - Shayne suggested that the best way to overcome the grass problem was laying sod- strips of healthy grass, on top of the newly laid rich soil, so we agreed. He had it trucked in, and carefully laid it out in the backyard. It looks great and we're watering it diligently. Here's hoping for a green backyard!

The line of new sod and the former grass-less lawn.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tom's Architecture Pick of the Month: The Providence Chapel in Wiltshire

Tom is an architect and has a great appreciation for great designs inside and out. He picked this one as a favorite this month. 

TOM SAID: "How cool is this?  In Wiltshire, England, a chapel re-purposed to be a private residence. Tastefully done and well executed. The bathroom and home office are located in an addition off the back. Really nice how the architect chose to pain...t out the addition, all in black, to make it recede and not take the viewer's attention away from the simple proportions and elegance of the original stone structure."

Divine Intervention: The Providence Chapel in Wiltshire

More photos: http://remodelista.com/posts/divine-intervention-the-providence-chapel-in-wiltshire
One of our favorite houses ever? London theater designer Niki Turner's Providence Chapel conversion in the picturesque village of Colerne near Bath. Niki just emailed us to let us know that she and her family are making a move to Stroud, and the house is on the market. “It’s a wonderful family home," says Niki, "and great for entertaining—it’s a wrench to have to leave." Read on to learn more about the project:
"Jonathan is a pioneer of sustainable architecture," Niki says. "He chose to clad the addition in stained larch and embrace the walled garden on all sides with generous windows and sliding doors."
"We converted Providence Chapel, which was a semi-derelict, Grade II-listed 1867 structure when we bought it, into a home ten years ago, working with architect Jonathan Tuckey," Niki says. “When we first walked into the main space, we immediately fell in love with its stillness, warmth and calm, and wanted to retain that. Jonathan added an award-winning extension to accommodate our three children and an au pair. He describes the extension as 'complementing, not competing with, the scale and status of the chapel itself.' "
To see the property listing, go to Knight Frank.
Photos by James Brittain and Dirk Lindner.

Above: "Jonathan is a pioneer of sustainable architecture," Niki says. "He chose to clad the addition in stained larch and embrace the walled garden on all sides with generous windows and sliding doors."
The chapel's facade; the addition is not visible from the street.

A glass-walled connecting hallway serves as a study and play area; Alf Coles, a philosophy teacher and Niki's partner, uses a former schoolroom as an office.

Monday, April 8, 2013

In the News: Cheating Former SC Governor Against Gay Marriage

The things that come out of the "Red states" continue to shock and disgust me. Remember Mark Sanford (R) - the former SC governor who disappeared from the country to hang out with his female lover in Argentina while cheating on his wife? 
Well he is back trying to re-enter politics and now he is engaged to his new girlfriend. Mr. Sanford is against marriage equality & against the legalization of same-sex marriage. 
So it was okay for him to cheat on his wife and then seek a second marriage, but he's against gay marriage? 
AND Guess what?  The SC people have put this lying, cheating man as a front runner for the latest political race - SO, If they're such "devout" followers of the Bible, why aren't they stoning him and his girlfriend after he cheated on his wife?  How does THAT work?  
2009: Mark Sanford disappearance and extramarital affair 
For six days in June 2009, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's whereabouts were unknown and there was media coverage of what was described as his disappearance. Subsequently the Governor reappeared and reported that he had been in Buenos Aires, Argentina with a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair. He stated that in 2001 he met and became friends with this woman and that they started having a sexual relationship in 2008. His wife became aware of the relationship in January 2009, and it was later revealed that two weeks prior to June 24 Sanford and his wife had begun a trial separation. The woman was later identified as Maria Belén Chapur, an Argentine journalist.  During the six days of absence, one of the excuses offered by Sanford's spokesperson was that Sanford was hiking the Appalachian Trail.   
 The new  article is below. *******************************
Former SC Cheating Governor Mark Sanford Against Marriage Equality
As marriage equality has emerged as one of the Beltway's topics du jour, inquiries as to when lawmakers intend to "evolve" on the issue have been in abundance. But whither former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford?
Sanford, famously, has made his feelings about traditional marriage quite clear. As his history of mistress-having and telling-constituents-lies-about-the-mistress-having demonstrates, he's clearly not too terribly impressed with the "sanctity" of the institution. "This was a whole lot more than a simple affair," said Sanford in June 2009. "This was a love story. A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day."
So, newly minted as his party's nominee for the South Carolina 1st Congressional District seat in the House of Representatives, Sanford made an appearance this afternoon on CNN's new show "The Lead," and host Jake Tapper threw the high, hard stuff at him on marriage equality: “Who are you to deny love between two men or two women, when you are somebody who talks about following his heart, regardless of the laws and traditions of the state of South Carolina? Why are you sitting in judgment of same-sex couples, when you have had the life you have had?”
A good question, which Sanford immediately opted to address in bloodless, philosophical terms rather than through the prism of his personal life:
SANFORD: Well, I think that it's important not to redefine my view, which to an extent, what you just described, is. What I've said is, I indeed back in 1996, voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, I was a member of Congress, you know, just as President Clinton signed the bill into law, and just as President Clinton, and just as President Obama up until about a year ago allegedly believed and prescribed that same law.
Sure enough. But times change, people "evolve," and now the Obama White House isn't even making an effort to defend DOMA. Clinton, who like Sanford, was hardly an exemplar of husbandry circa 1996, has disowned DOMA as well. (And, fun fact: during Sanford's last stint in the House, he cast a vote to impeach Clinton over the president's famous infidelities ... a stance from which he has since "evolved.") So what of it? Sanford continued:
SANFORD: What I have said is I think the current debate has little to do with same-sex marriage and a whole lot to do with democratic traditions in this country, and a whole lot to do with the courts. I think that if you’re a conservative, you believe in this notion of federalism, that one size does not fit all and that we shouldn’t have prescriptive answers coming out of Washington, D.C., for any of the different things ultimately that we have got to resolve as a family of Americans. And so to have an unelected set of judges decide what is or is not for all 50 states to me does not make sense.
Sanford didn't go on to express any criticism or condemnation of the states that have created the space for marriage equality through the legislative process. But as to Tapper's point -- how does Sanford's own experience breaking with the sanctity of marriage inform his opinion on the subject -- well ... he'd rather not get into it.
Interestingly enough, as Michael B. Keegan, People For The American Way president, pointed out on these pages, Sanford doesn't always shy away from talking about what he's learned from his mistakes. And in a 2011 interview with Piers Morgan, Sanford offered the following insight:
SANFORD: I think we all need grace and we all need love. There's plenty of judgment to go around and there's certainly a role by folks in the media and others to be played in getting things uncovered and wrongs right, but I think that there is abiding need for human grace and love. I got it that day on the street and I've gotten many times since then with people across my state.

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.

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