Thursday, April 30, 2015

Return of the Shocking Squirrel/ It's important to have a sense of humor

Tom making a funny face
One of the things we learned is that it's important to have a sense of humor in every situation. No matter how serious things are, try and find something to make you laugh. We do that all the time. If one of us is grumpy for some reason, the other will smile a goofy grin and stare at the grumpy one until we both crack up. 

This morning, as I was about to head out the door to walk the dogs at 7:15am, I heard a loud "POP" from outside. As happened just 1 month ago, a SQUIRREL climbed onto the transformer outside... and he was electrocuted, shorting out all the power to our house and the surrounding houses. 
   Needless to say, after walking the dogs, I returned to a house without electricity so I couldn't telework. That meant running around the house, getting dressed (again) for work, getting the dogs situated and heading into the office. SIGH. 
   When I got there, I let Tom know about it, and he said "Well, at least the squirrel won't be bothering the bird feeder anymore."

Even people running for serious positions (whether you support it or not) can be funny!  This article was in the Huffington Post. Humor is the key to a better world. 

Hillary Clinton's 404 Error Page Is Perfection
If the idea of a punning president makes you uncomfortable, then we've got some bad news for you. Hillary Clinton stands a pretty good chance of becoming president, and her new website shows she's not afraid to bring the puns.
Check out the site's 404 page, which appears when you try to navigate to a page that doesn't exist:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fun Video: "Weird Al" Yankovic - Perform This Way (Parody of "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga)

Here's another Fun Video for you from "Weird Al" Yankovic. He does "Perform This Way" which is a  parody of "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga.
 The lyrics are told from the point of view of Gaga and describe her performance style and fashion sense. The song is the sixth single from Yankovic's 2011 album Alpocalypse, and all the proceeds were donated to the Human Rights Campaign charity. Gaga herself has praised the work and has additionally described herself as a "Weird Al" fan.[4] The song entered and peaked at number six on the Comedy Digital Tracks chart of Billboard, remaining for a total of eight weeks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Some things you may not know about Animal Rescuers

The things that Animal rescuers do may surprise you. Tom and I work with dachshund and weimaraner rescues, as well as any others that need assistance. Our friend Dianne Frasier and her husband One Eagle who live in Florida, work with dog and cat rescues every day. They are also FOUNDERs and Dianne is a PSYCHIC MEDIUM at Spiritlight  
   Dianne recently put together some things you may not know about Animal Rescuers:
Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue
1. Most of us work full time and have families to care for including pets of our own.
2. We spend a lot of time at the vet every week getting pets spayed/neutered and meds we give around the clock.
3. We spend a lot of time at shelters trying to decide which of the desperate pets we can save, afford to care for, and agonize over the ones we can't take.
4. We receive an average of 200 network emails a day and half as many phone calls pleading for help, 7 days a week.
5. We have to make adoption appointments or events around our jobs, asking lots of questions of potential adopters and praying a lot for our foster babies.
6. It is very hard for us to go on vacation because of the special care our pets need, most if not all are rescued and special needs pets including seniors.
7. We spend lots of time on our phones even when we are not home, networking for pets out of time at shelters or in desperate situations belonging to people we have never met, who may be hospitalized, losing their home or moving.
8. We don't sleep well after seeing abused animals pix in our emails with pleas for help for funds for vetting or petitions to sign against the abusers.
9. We spend most of our money on pet stuff and most of our time volunteering.
10. There is nothing better than saving a helpless pet, nursing them back to health, then seeing them go home with a great family. The happy pix they send us gets us through steps 1-9.

We know so many people in animal rescue that it's impossible to name them all. 
What can you do?  DONATE to rescues. They pay for vet bills, provide food, shelter, transportation from one end of the country to another, and more. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Video Short; Tyler the Dachshund is a "Rock Star" at Class!

Tyler looking at that orange tunnel
Last week (April 22, 2015) marked the Tyler the (5 year old) Dachshund's first class in his new pre-agility semester. Last week, we told you that Tyler seemed to not like the orange-colored tunnel.

CONQUERING TUNNEL TREPIDATION -  Well, when we arrived at class last week, I followed our friend Rebecca's instructions and crept into the opening of the tunnel with Tyler. I was armed with tasty chicken treats. Everytime I crawled inside and he followed I gave him a treat. Once inside, I told him "GO TUNNEL" and he ran through and met me for more chicken treats!  We did that 10 times, and he got it! He beat his aversion!
The course we ran correctly the FIRST TIME!

SUCCESS AT THE BIG TEST!! - Lee, our instructor, told us that this is the day of the big course test. We walked through it first. There were 3 jumps, then running through a YELLOW TUNNEL. Then another jump. Then the ORANGE TUNNEL. Then jumping up and staying on a raised platform for a count of 3. Then another jump, and run up and down an "A Frame" (what I call "upstairs" and "downstairs") and finally over a last jump. 
  It was astounding. We did it correctly the FIRST TIME!!! I was so proud of Tyler that it brought a tear to my eyes. 
Wow. This is how it feels to be super proud of your child. 

TYLER'S SHORT INTERVIEW VIDEO - After passing the big test, I sat down with Tyler and interviewed him about it. Here's what he said:

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Real-life Kermit the Frog Found!

The Huffington Post  reporter Casey Chan wrote on 4/21 that a scientist has found "Kermit the Frog" in real life and it’s a species of glassfrog just
recently discovered called Hyalinobatrachium dianae in Costa Rica. It’s bright green just like Kermit, has big white adorable eyeballs just like Kermit and the males have a very unique mating call.
The resemblance is uncanny.
Recently discovered by Brian Kubicki of Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center.
  For the facebook link to the center:

Here's the posting from the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center: We would like to share the exciting news about a newly discovered and described species of glassfrog, Hyalinobatrachium dianae, from the Caribbean slopes of Costa Rica. This new species is named in honor of the senior author’s mother Janet Diane Kubicki. With the addition of this newly described species, Costa Rica is known to have 14 glassfrogs inhabiting its tiny national territory! To access the abstract of this new species description you can go to the following link.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Fun Music Video: "Weird Al" Yankovic - Foil

The latest in Weird Al Yankovic’s eight-videos-in-eight-days Mandatory Fun rollout plan is “Foil,” his parody of Lorde’s “Royals.” What begins as a celebration of preserving leftover food spirals into a conspiracy theory anthem — tin foil hats, see? Patton Oswalt guests as a video director with a secret and The State/Reno 911! guys Tom Lennon and Ben Garant have cameos as shadow government operatives.
Music video by "Weird Al" Yankovic performing Foil. (C) 2014 RCA Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment

Friday, April 24, 2015

PART 3: "Lincoln the Final Journey" Exhibit: Model Trains, Dinnerware

Thomas the Train and Tom
a model of Baltimore's Bromoseltzer tower
This is part three of our visit to the B&O Railroad museum in Baltimore for the Lincoln the Final Journey" Exhibit.

After the Lincoln exhibit, we toured other areas of the museum and checked out the model trains that were actually active! 

AMAZING MODEL TRAIN DISPLAYS- There were several model train displays, one indoors and one outside.   
  There was a huge display outside with several trains, that ran on tracks over 100 feet from end to end, through various terrain, model cities, and in and out of tunnels. It was really cool.   We took a short video of some of them. (See below).

The indoor model train display actually had many buildings from Baltimore as it is today, including the Bromo Seltzer Tower and Oriole Park, Camden Yards!

Tom outside at the model train exhibit

Camden Yards in the model train exhibit
a model railroad bridge
a model of Point of Rocks, MD  Train Station
WHERE IS THE MUSEUM? - The B&O Railroad Museum is a museum exhibiting historic railroad equipment in Baltimore, Maryland, originally named the Baltimore & Ohio Transportation Museum when it opened on July 4, 1953. It's located at 901 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21223, Tel.
(410) 752-2490

DINING IN STYLE ON A B & O RAILROAD TRAIN -  Passengers who dined on the Baltimore and Ohio during the heyday of American railroading received five-star service: white tablecloths, china, and silver; food cooked from scratch; and the undivided attention of skilled waiters. The B&O's cuisine won wide acclaim as the finest railway food in the country. Passengers enjoyed it as the slightly swaying dining car clicked along over the rails. This is a summary of a book available about the dining experiences from days gone by - and the book is available on Amazon for anyone interested. Just click here.

 Click here to see the B&O Railroad Dining book

Banner from the exhibit hall
serving dish
Sign about the Lincoln Train
     The Museum had some of that fine china on display, so we took a couple of pictures of it for you. Today, you'll likely get plastic. :)
display of how dining on the train USED TO look!
Rob poses at a sign

Model trains!

dishes used on dining cars



Thursday, April 23, 2015

PART 2: "Lincoln the Final Journey" Exhibit: The Train, Journey

Replica of the train the transported Lincoln
This is part 2 of the "Lincoln the Final Journey" Exhibit at the B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore. This blog focuses on the train that carried his body.

The interesting history of this train and it's long journey were originally published by the HISTORY CHANNEL and  posted below.

Replica of the train that transported Lincoln's body
THE JOURNEY BY TRAIN -  On April 21, 1865, a Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad train carrying the coffin of assassinated President Abraham Lincoln left Washington, D.C. for a destination of Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln would be buried there on May 4, 1865.
  The train carrying Lincoln’s body traveled through 180 cities and seven states on its way to Lincoln’s home state of Illinois. Scheduled stops for the special funeral train were published in newspapers.
Tom talks with a field Surgeon of the civil war

THE STOPS ALONG THE WAY -  At each stop, Lincoln’s coffin was taken off the train, placed on an elaborately decorated horse-drawn hearse and led by solemn processions to a public building for viewing. In cities as large as Columbus, Ohio, and as small as Herkimer, New York, thousands of mourners flocked to pay tribute to the slain president. In Philadelphia, Lincoln’s body lay in state on in the east wing of Independence Hall, the same site where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Newspapers reported that people had to wait more than five hours to pass by the president’s coffin in some cities.

Re-enactors and the Union band playing
 THE TRAIN WAS NAMED THE "LINCOLN SPECIAL" - The President's portrait was even attached to the front of the engine above the cattle guard, as it was in the photos from the B&O Railroad Museum.

   HOW MANY WENT ON THE TRAIN RIDE? - According to the History Channel, about 300 people accompanied Lincoln’s body on the 1,654-mile journey, including his eldest son Robert.

Jeff and Tom walking through the exhibits
    LINCOLN'S LATE SON'S BODY ALSO ON-BOARD -  Also on the train was a coffin containing the body of Lincoln’s son Willie, who had died in 1862 at the age of 11 of typhoid fever during Lincoln’s second year in office. Willie’s body had been disinterred from a plot in Washington, D.C. after Lincoln’s death so he could be buried alongside his father at the family plot in Springfield.
Rob and Jeff
The surgeon's cabinet
  WHAT HAPPENED TO THE ORIGINAL TRAIN?  - The train in the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore is an amazing Replica. As for the original, the History Channel noted that  in 1911, a prairie fire near Minneapolis, Minnesota, destroyed the train car that had so famously carried Lincoln’s body to its final resting place.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

PART 1: "Lincoln the Final Journey" Exhibit : Casket, Band

On Sat. April  18 we visited the "Lincoln the Final Journey" Exhibit at Baltimore's B&O Railroad museum. 
This is part one of our Museum tour and the event.  

Rob, Jeff and Tom

A Union Troop band played at the service

Trains lined the rotunda

President Lincoln's casket with Confederate and Union Soliders guarding

We were jointed by our friend Jeff and saw the re-enactment of the funeral of President Lincoln (whose body was transported by train from Washington, DC to his home state of Illinois).

The "War Came By Train" exhibit, which marked the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's death. The production featured re-enactments of Lincoln's funeral cortege, a
A likeness of Lincoln in state

A likeness of Lincoln in state
replica casket, Civil War soldier re-enactors and funeral music played by the Federal City Brass Band. 

THE CASKET- Tom overheard that the museum had the replica casket made to look exactly like the one that President Lincoln was buried in. Lincoln's casket was made of walnut with lead lining, covered with white satin and framed with silver plates. There was also a life-like mannequin of the President in the casket and people walked by to pay their respects.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Idiots in the News! Man burned while trying to kill bedbugs in car

It's been awhile since we ran a segment of "idiots in the news" and this one certainly qualifies. From April 14, Newsday reported: 

Man burned while trying to kill bedbugs in car, cops say

A man was burned inside his rental car after he tried to kill the bedbugs populating it with alcohol, then lit a cigarette, setting the vehicle ablaze Tuesday afternoon outside an Eastport supermarket, police said.

Credit: WABC-TV, New York
Scott Kemery, 44, of Bridgehampton, was airlifted from the King Kullen shopping center, on Eastport Manor Road, to Stony Brook University Hospital with first- and second-degree burns, police said.

"He said he had bedbugs in the car, and someone told him if he saturated them with alcohol, it would kill them," said arson Det. Sgt. Edward Fitzgerald.

So he went and bought some alcohol, he poured it all in there and he sat in his car and lit a cigarette.."
The intense heat from the fire heavily damaged two other cars, police said.
Kemery was able to escape his burning car on his own, police said.

He remained in the emergency room Tuesday night, but was expected to be admitted, police said.
He told detectives that it was a rental car from Florida, police said, but the vehicle was so burned that the license plates are gone. Detectives want to get the VIN, or vehicle identification number, to confirm Kemery's full story, police said.
Everything's burned up," Fitzgerald said, "so we're going to wait until the vehicle theft section gets us a confidential VIN number. Then we'll know for sure."

Fitzgerald said the fire does not appear to be criminal in nature at this point, but for now, the cause will be marked "undetermined" until all the evidence from Kemery and detectives is in.
So far, he said, "those facts seem to line up."

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mini-video: Tyler the dachshund gloats after agility jumps

Tyler says this about tunnels!
Tyler resting after jumping

In this 10 second video from last week, our black and tan 5 year old Dachshund,  Tyler appears to be gloating on 4-15-15 after jumping three agility jumps correctly. (Just look at his little lip in the video!) However, he still refuses to go through the ORANGE colored tunnel for some reason. He goes through the yellow one... But after weeks of trying to get him through the Orange one, he won't go. "Orange just isn't my color," Tyler told me.




Sunday, April 19, 2015

Baltimore Sun (we were quoted): Onlookers moved by re-enactment of Lincoln funeral train

Yesterday, our friend Jeff joined us for a visit to Baltimore's B&O Railroad museum where they were doing a commemoration and re-enactment of the funeral of President Lincoln (whose body was transported by train from Washington, DC to his home state of Illinois). While there, a reporter from the Baltimore Sun interviewed us! Here's the article!   Rob and Tom
 Onlookers moved by re-enactment of Lincoln funeral train

BALTIMORE SUN, SUNDAY, APRIL 19, 2015  By Joe Burris

It was a funeral re-enactment, but the tears that glistened on Cindy King's cheeks were real. The woman from Littlestown, Pa., took part in the retelling of Abraham Lincoln's funeral rites on Saturday at the B&O Railroad Museum, embodying a civilian overcome with emotion at the sight of the assassinated president's remains. And she scarcely wept alone.

Many museum patrons were moved by the "War Came By Train" exhibit, which marked the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's death. The production featured re-enactments of Lincoln's funeral cortege, a replica casket, Civil War soldier re-enactors and funeral music played by the Federal City Brass Band.
As with the War of 1812 events re-enacted through last year, Saturday's exhibit illustrated Baltimore's involvement in events that shaped the nation's history.

"To embody the role you have to a grasp of the history," said King, 67. "The death of Abraham Lincoln, I'm convinced, changed our entire American history."
The funeral cortege lasted about 15 minutes and featured the placing of the coffin at the center of the museum's landmark roundhouse. Inside the coffin was a mannequin that bore a striking resemblance to the president, who was assassinated by one-time Baltimore resident John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater in Washington.
After the re-enactors circled the coffin, hundreds of spectators followed.

Guest curator and exhibit designer Daniel Carroll Toomey, who also narrated the event, told the crowd that in 1861 Lincoln had traveled through the northern states en route to his inauguration. Following his death, his remains were sent back to his home state of Illinois along a similar route.

"To plan this elaborate event," Toomey explained, "Secretary of War Edwin Stanton called on his trusted friend John Work Garrett, president of the B&O Railroad, and Governor John Brough of Ohio. The funeral train would travel 1,600 miles over 25 different states and take 13 days to complete its mournful journey." Toomey said that the first stop for public viewing came in Baltimore, an event held on April 21 at the Merchants' Exchange Building on Market Street.

Although the building was just nine blocks from Camden Station, which was used by the B&O Railroad, the procession took three hours to pass through the city, he said. Lincoln's casket was made of walnut with lead lining, covered with white satin and framed with silver plates, he added. "Over 7 million people saw Lincoln's funeral train between Washington and Springfield," Toomey said. "Probably a million people viewed Lincoln's casket in procession.

"I believe Lincoln's funeral is the most extensive presidential funeral in the history of the ... United States. A lot of people say, 'What about Kennedy?' Those people watched on television. These 7 million people that watched Lincoln's funeral train go by stood in the rain and stood in the dark."

Those who stood in the viewing procession on Saturday lauded the event.

"The procession by the casket, I thought that was a really good re-enactment," said Tom Williams, 52, of Bowie, who said he also attended the event because of a fascination with trains. "I wanted to learn more about the role that trains played in the transport of troops and arms during the war," he said. "And the significance of the funeral procession — I wanted to see what that would have been like."

Rob Gutro, 52, of Bowie said he attended the event "to honor the memory of President Lincoln and all the achievements that he made."

Other artifacts on display at the museum included a reproduction of the overcoat Lincoln wore on the night of his assassination and a 2-cent copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper dated April 17, 1865.
Before the event, museum executive director Courtney Wilson said visitors would be able to understand "the first great American tragedy."

"As I looked around the roundhouse, people were in tears," Wilson, 61, said afterward. "They were visibly moved by being in this experience that was replicating something ... so important here in Baltimore 150 years ago."


Classic DC Comic collection: Crisis on Multiple Earths - VOL 1

I'm a huge fan of DC Comic's Justice League of America (which includes Batman Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash,
Green Lantern, Aquaman and many others. In 1963 writer Gardner Fox came up with a way to resurrect the super team from the 1940s known as the Justice Society of America. He made them residents of another Earth, vibrating at a different speed than the superheroes of the present day, the Justice League. Then he introduced a cross-over that would become a staple in the Justice League comics every year through the 1980s. I LOVED those team ups with all of those heroes. 
  Now, the first Four (two-part) stories of those team ups are collected in this full-color collection, and it brought back a lot of great memories. Of course I recommend it. It will always be in my comics library!  - Rob

ABOUT:  Crisis on Multiple Earths - VOL 1 Paperback 

Written by Gardner Fox; art by Mike Sekowsky, Bernard Sachs and Sid Greene; painted cover by Alex Ross. The CRISIS begins here! The much-demanded early "Crisis Crossover" stories are finally collected, featuring the Justice League of America (Earth-One) meeting their Golden Age predecessors, the Justice Society of America (Earth-Two)! This volume collects the first four 2-part "Crisis Crossover" adventures, reprinting JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #21-22, 29-30, 37-38, and 46-47. Our heroes battle the Injustice Society, the Crime Syndicate of Earth-Three, the evil Johnny Thunder, and the Anti-Matter Man!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Smart Thing to do to Your Bank Account: "Payable on Death" Assignment

Throughout the week, we've addressed some documents that everyone should have, and here's one more thing that I (Rob) was recently made aware of. You can assign a beneficiary to your bank accounts (doesn't cost anything!), should something happen to you. WHY DO THAT? - To keep the bank accounts out of probate. (which ties things up for many months).

With a payable on death account or paid on death account, you name a beneficiary who gets the account when you die—no probate, no hassle. The person you name has no rights to the money until you die, so you can spend it all or change the beneficiary. When you die, the beneficiary simply needs to show the financial institution your death certificate and his or her identification, and the money is theirs. This works for bank accounts, certificates of deposit and even sizeable brokerage accounts. SOURCE: FORBES
Pros and Cons of Making Your bank account "POD" to someone

For instance, if you're married, you would name your spouse. If you're single you would name the person you would like to handle your estate (always good to name the person you picked as Executor to your estate to prevent problems). 

WHAT ABOUT COMPLICATIONS? - Forbes says that if the POD order on bank accounts goes against the will, then it can cause problems.

BIG BENEFIT -  A small payable on death account (your checking account, for example) can help make sure funds are available immediately for your executor or personal representative to pay for funeral expenses or other immediate cash needs during the estate administration period.

IF YOU HAVE AN ELDERLY PARENT- You should ask them to consider doing what my mom did.
In the case of my mom who passed in December 2013, as my mom aged, my younger brother's name was actually added on the account instead of POD. That made it easier for him as the appointed Executor of her estate to use her checking account to pay the funeral expenses, remaining utility bills, etc.
On a POD bank account you retain full ownership of the account until you die, and the Federal Reserve recognizes POD accounts as revocable trusts because you can add or remove beneficiaries at any time.

Read more :
On a POD bank account you retain full ownership of the account until you die, and the Federal Reserve recognizes POD accounts as revocable trusts because you can add or remove beneficiaries at any time.

Read more :

Friday, April 17, 2015

In the News: NASA Heat-Converting Material Patents Licensed

NASA helps create some pretty amazing technology, and things we all use daily from fax machines to clothing and cell phone cameras. Last week, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California put out a release about an amazing new technology that may change a LOT of things. Here's their press release:

NASA Heat-Converting Material Patents Licensed

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, has licensed patents on high-temperature thermoelectric materials to Evident Technologies, Troy, New York, which provides these kinds of materials and related power systems.
Thermoelectric materials convert heat into electricity. For example, by using this technology, waste-heat from a car could potentially be fed back into the vehicle and used to generate electricity. This would increase efficiency and deliver low-cost solutions for harvesting waste heat.
This thermoelectric material called skutterudite can be used for power generation. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
"The licensed technology could be applied to convert heat into electricity in a number of waste heat recovery applications, including automobile exhaust and high-temperature industrial processes such as ceramic and glass processing plants," said Thierry Caillat, task leader for the thermoelectrics team at JPL.
       JPL has a long history of high-temperature thermoelectric development driven by the need for space mission power in the absence of sunlight. Many space probes that leave Earth's orbit use thermoelectrics as their electrical power source.
NASA's Voyager 1 (the first spacecraft to enter interstellar space) and Voyager 2 are still traveling away from the sun using thermoelectric power systems, more than 35 years after their launches. Both of these spacecraft use radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), systems that convert heat from a radioactive decay process into electricity. NASA's Mars Curiosity rover, the largest vehicle to ever land and operate on Mars, also relies on a similar system for power.
      On Earth, Evident Technologies will use technological advances from JPL in this area to develop commercial, high-temperature thermoelectric modules for terrestrial applications.
      "We feel that there is an unmet need for customers who want to convert high-temperature heat into electricity" said Clint Ballinger, CEO of Evident Technologies, "We are excited to capitalize on these NASA advances and plan to launch commercial products very soon."
      Currently there are no commercially available products that use this NASA-developed technology. Evident plans to launch product based on this technology within the next three months.
     Evident Thermoelectrics provides thermoelectric solutions for power generation. JPL is managed by the California Institute of Technology for NASA.
Media Contact
Elizabeth Landau
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Why Is a Will Important? - Our point of view

   Earlier this week we talked about 2 important documents that all couples should have,  A durable Power of Attorney (for finances) and one for Health Care.   This time, we want to talk about the importance of a Will.  
    It doesn't matter how young or old you are. Just think about it. If you travel a lot or just drive to work a short distance, anything can happen. Not saying it will, but it's good to be prepared. When my parents passed, they had a will. They put the house in a trust (more on that another time). They had some annuities to ensure that the other was taken care of if the other passed first. 
  We learned a LOT from seeing how organized my (Rob) dad was in planning and it made it much easier. The article below was written by, and provide you with good information. 
  DON'T PUT IT OFF- Wills can be between $500 and $1000 or more. Of course, you can always go on-line and try and figure it out, but we felt much more comfortable going with our attorney friend Stefanie. 
   PROVISIONS FOR PETS - In the will, or in another document, you can make provisions for pets that survive you. We are making a stipulation that allows for any funds to take care of the dogs, and who takes them. Of course, we cleared it first with them. It's really important to think about. 
    BTW- If you missed the previous blog,a durable power of attorney gives you and your partner the authority to manage each other’s finances if one of you becomes incapacitated. A power of attorney for health care, sometimes referred to as a health care proxy, gives you the right to make medical decisions on your partner’s behalf if he or she is unable to do so. 
   Below is the article about why a Will is important.  - Rob and Tom
Why Is a Will Important?

If you own property and assets, you may want to have a will. That way you, rather than your state government, can decide who gets your property and assets when you die. In most cases, wills are written legal documents, but some states do recognize other types of wills. The legal requirements of each state can vary, so it’s essential that your will is drafted and executed properly.

A Will Must Meet All Legal Requirements

Most wills are formal documents that instruct how money and property should be distributed to each person named as an heir. For a will to be valid, you usually need to have one or two people witness you signing the will and then sign it themselves. In some states, however, wills that are handwritten or simply spoken can be legally enforceable, too. Video wills are increasing in popularity but, given that this is a relatively new development, your state’s law may not recognize a video as a legal will.

Your Will Does More than Name Heirs

The main reason for having a will is to allocate your property to heirs in any way you like. But there are other things you can include such as funeral arrangements, legal guardians for your minor children, and who should serve as executor of your will or trustee of any trusts you create.

A Will Prevents Intestate Succession

When you die without a will, state laws known as “intestate succession laws” will decide which family members will inherit your estate and in what proportion. In most states, your spouse and children take priority under intestate succession. If you want other people to inherit some of your property, or if you want to leave everything to your spouse and children, but in different proportions than your state’s law provides for, a will is one of the best ways to ensure that the state won’t make that decision for you.

A Will May Eliminate Family Conflict

The division of an estate after death comes with many emotions. The slightest differences can result in hurt feeling and recriminations. As divorce becomes more complex and blended families more common, dividing assets has become even more complicated. A typical situation is when you’re in a second marriage and have children from your first marriage. In this case, allocating your property purposefully between your second spouse and your children can give you peace of mind and prevent your family from fighting over your possessions.

A Trusts and Estates Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding creation of a will is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a trusts and estates lawyer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Know your Gov't: 4 min. Video: What the USDA did last week!

     Many of us don't know all of the things that Federal Government agencies do, and several agencies, like the U.S. Department of Agriculture put out a weekly video to highlght things done over the previous week. They're SHORT (less than 5 minutes) and have interesting and helpful information. 
    Here in Washington, D.C. right now, the famous "Tidal Basin" cherry blossoms are in full bloom. If you enjoy them as everyone else does, you'll find one of these research stories very interesting. There's also a great new USDA App about food spoilage. Just take a quick glance and learn how our government is doing some great things.  - Rob and Tom

USDA's Week in Review

A weekly look at some of the events and activities at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In this edition of USDA Week In Review, better cherry blossoms, an app to fight food waste, and fishing for energy savings
Each week the USDA shares a rundown of some of the key announcements, activities, and current events related to our work at USDA, giving you the highlights.
This week's highlights are:

  • Studying ways to extend bloom times for Cherry Blossoms
  • FoodKeeper - An app to fight food waste
  • Fishing for energy savings with Rural Development funding
To see these videos weekly, visit:
Published on Apr 13, 2015 VIDEO LINK TO SHARE:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

2 Important Documents Every Couple Needs

Recently, we've been checking into wills, powers of attorney (POA) and other things needed to protect us should something happen to either or both of us. Not only for our protection, but also for our children's (our three dogs who would need to be cared for) sake, too. We recently met with our friend Stefanie, who is an attorney and does wills, POA, health proxies or powers of attorney. 

NEEDED FOR PROTECTION - We learned that domestic partners have virtually NO protection from an outside family member, even if estranged. An estranged family member can come into a situation where their sibling dies (and if a house is in the deceased sibliing's name only), the house can be taken away from the partner - who gets tossed on the street. (It's happened).   We know that places of business, even a hospital we went to, discriminate and although we are married, refused one of us to give health insurance for the other - that's why these documents are important! 

 Following is an article that appeared today in the Baltimore Sun, and Kiplinger Magazine, which explains at least 2 VERY important documents you'll need. We'll address some other things in the next couple of blogs. - Rob and Tom

2 Important Documents Every Couple Needs

By Sandra Block, From Kiplinger's Personal Finance, April 2015

It's especially important for unmarried couples to be prepared, but married couples (especially married gay couples) should also have 2 important documents.  All couples should have durable powers of attorney for finances and health care, but these documents are even more important if you and your partner aren’t married. 

WHAT IS A DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY? - A durable power of attorney gives you and your partner the authority to manage each other’s finances if one of you becomes incapacitated.  
WHAT IS A POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE? - A power of attorney for health care, sometimes referred to as a health care proxy, gives you the right to make medical decisions on your partner’s behalf if he or she is unable to do so (see 3 Simple Steps to Pick a Health Care Proxy).

Without these documents, you could be prohibited from making decisions on behalf of your partner, even if you’ve been together for years. A court may grant a family member authority to make decisions about your partner’s finances. “If you’re not married, you have no standing under the law,” says Lili Vasileff, a certified  financial planner and president emeritus of the Association of Divorce Financial Planners.

An estate-planning lawyer can help you draw up power-of-attorney documents for your state. Some banks and brokerage firms won’t honor power-of-attorney documents unless they meet certain conditions, so make sure the form you use will be accepted by your financial institutions. Both the power of attorney for finances and the health care proxy should be easily accessible in an emergency.


It's a Doggy Sleepover!

Franklin and Tyler
Happy rainy Tuesday. Our kids enjoyed a doggy sleepover last night with their friend Mopar (joining us for several days). Hope you enjoy your day whatever the weather!
Dolly enjoying a nap


Monday, April 13, 2015

Jim's Dad's Spirit Sends a Message on Moving Day

Spirits can give messages that they're around us in many ways. One of the most common ways is through coins. The
Penny from Jim's Dad's Spirit
year on the coin is the best way to identify which spirit is paying you a visit.
  On Saturday, April 11, I received an email from my good friend Jim, who was moving out of the house that he lived in for the last 7 years. He had recently experienced a divorce, and was dealing with being on his own again. There was one spirit who apparently knew that he needed to know he really wasn't alone.

I remember you saying that our dear departed will leave coins for us...well I found a penny today while moving. Year was 1994...year my dad passed...

That's awesome. So he's there helping you move, and assuring you that it's the right thing to do.

To learn more about signs that spirits send us, check out my book "Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead."
* Lessons Learned from Talking to the Dead for $8.99 paperback and $2.99 E-book on AMAZON: to Purchase from the CreateSpace eStore:
Follow Rob on a treasure-hunt-style journey in Virginia as he and others try to explain what appear to be random and obscure words, signs and symbols from a spirit, that all wind up being intensely personal to the spirit.Explore the science behind how they communicate. Learn how to receive their messages, where they appear, and important messages in how to live your life. Rob takes you into cemeteries, battlefields, and historic places. You’ll see what happens to victims of suicide and murders, and how infants and animals pass messages to the living. Featuring: Inspired Ghost Tracking and mediums Barb Mallon, Troy Cline and Ruth Larkin.

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