Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Annapolis Lit up at Night: Thanksgiving

Scott, Brian, Doug and Tom
In addition to the feast, and a fun indoor flying adventure, we also took my (Rob) brother Doug and his boys to downtown Annapolis at night to see the Christmas lights and get a history lesson.

Governor's Mansion
GOVERNOR'S MANSION -  The Governor's mansion was lit up for the holidays. Sadly, though, our conservative governor doesn't offer tours, cookies, holiday music, etc. like our former democratic governor did. So, you can only walk by and see the lights.
  We have fond memories of getting pictures with former Gov. O'Malley and his wife and touring the beautifully decorated house. Sadly, that tradition is no more.

The State House lit up
DOG FRIENDLY - The old town/downtown Annapolis area is very dog friendly, and restaurants put out water bowls for dogs and allow people to dine outside with their dogs at their tables (in the spring, summer and fall of course).

It's a dog-friendly downtown

Side street in Annapolis lit up
STATE HOUSE LIT UP - The Maryland State House is located in Annapolis and is the oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use, dating to 1772. It houses the Maryland General Assembly and offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

FUN FACT - The capitol has the distinction of being topped by the largest wooden dome in the United States constructed without nails. The current building, which was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960,  is the third statehouse on its site

An Annapolis street all lit up
THURSDAY NIGHT SALES - We just read that Thursday nights, the downtown shops stay open late in December for special holiday shopping.

Midnight Madness Holiday Shopping Dec. 1 and Dec. 8 from 6pm to Midnight

Don't miss Midnight Madness, December 1st and 8th where select stores in downtown Annapolis will remain open until midnight, and the Eleventh Hour on December 15th (stores remaining open until 11 pm) giving bargain-hunters and last-minute shoppers an excuse to get out and shop well into the night. It's also the perfect excuse to catch up with friends and take advantage of special deals in the middle of holiday fun with a Girls' Weekend. So, come enjoy the spirit of Annapolis as the town will be inundated with live music, holiday entertainment and cheer throughout the night.
The City of Annapolis will offer FREE 3-hour valet parking, free Circulator buses and discounted garage parking during the annual event. It will also feature eCruisers throughout downtown, compliments of George Palmer at Urban EvenTours.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Happy Birthdays: Dolly: 12 and Tyler: 6

Today is a Double-birthday celebration day. 
Dolly, our beautiful Weimaraner turns 12 years old and Tyler, our little mischievous black and tan Dachshund turns 6.  
Tyler in March 2013 at 2 yrs old
Rob and Dolly at 3 months old

Dolly was adopted from Wolf Creek Weimaraner Rescue in Knoxville, TN when she was 3 months old in 2005. We took in Tyler as a foster dog in Dec. 2012 from Coast to Coast Dachshund Rescue and adopted him in April 2013 when he had bonded with Dolly. We never knew his birthday (or any information because he came from a kill shelter in NC), so we gave him Dolly' birthday.
   So tonight they get to pick out the treats of their choice at Petco and get extra snuggles and treats. 

Tyler Tuesday Video: The Blanket Stealer!

Tyler the Dachshund loves curling up in blankets and makes it a daily task to pull them down from the back of the couch. Then he burrows in them... and gives us a look of innocence. :)

Monday, November 28, 2016

An iFLY Thanksgiving Adventure

Brian, Tom, Scotty, Doug
Over the Thanksgiving weekend my (Rob) brother Doug and his boys Brian and Scott drove down from New England and visited. So, we tried to find fun things for them to do. Everyone was excited about "indoor skydiving" (except me, of course because of my anxieties with heights), so we took them to a place called "iFly" outside of Baltimore, MD.  Tom, Doug, Brian and Scott all enjoyed 2 flights.  Here are some pictures and video.

Scott and Brian
 WHAT IS IT? - Basically it's a giant plexiglass cylinder about 20 feet in diameter and about 100 feet high. The floor is actually wire mesh, and underneath are giant turbine fans that attain strong speeds to force you to "float." It's basically being in a sideways wind tunnel.

Brian flying high
SUITING UP - Everyone can "fly" except for people over 250-300 pounds. It's just too heavy to lift people and give them a good experience, so you get weighed in at the beginning.  Then, you get a 10 minute "lesson" on how to position yourself when you enter the cylinder to obtain the best "flying experience." Your instructor is always with you.  You also don a "Flight suit," Goggles, ear plugs (because the giant fans are so loud), and a helmet. Then you're ready.

ABOUT iFLY -  iFLY is the experiential entertainment company that created modern indoor skydiving…we make the dream of flight a reality by giving our customers “wings” in a safe and reliable environment. iFLY started in 1998 as SkyVenture, LLC. Once we had developed the
technology to create a stable, wall-to-wall cushion of air in a flight chamber, we knew we could offer an incredibly realistic and safe indoor skydiving experience.

Tom's reaction to his flight suit
HOW DOES IT WORK?  - A unique design with its wall-to-wall air column, along with certified and highly-trained instructors, allows you to safely enjoy your flight session. Your flight instructor is with you through your entire flight experience regardless of your level of experience.
Doug, Brian, Scott, Tom

HIGH FLYING - Most fliers "fly" just above the ground, but you can pay for the instructor to take you way up (70-100 feet) and spin you around. Brian and Scott did that. 





Sunday, November 27, 2016

It's always Something! Kids Health issues

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we've got new health issues for two of our canine kids: Franklin
and Dolly.  Tyler is fortunately healthy.
   FRANKLIN FOOT - Franklin has an infected paw again, something that happens every 6 months or so. He licks between two of his toes and it gets infected, then develops a blood blister. That means cleaning it with hydrogen peroxide twice a day, and applying antibiotic ointment, bandaging it, and putting on his "snow boot" so he won't lick it. I've been doing that for the last five days, and will continue to do it.
Dolly, Tyler and Franklin
  DOLLY'S EYE ISSUE - Tom noticed Saturday morning that Dolly was squinting her left eye, and we noticed it was tearing. So, we called the vet and took her in.   She developed another corneal ulcer on the surface of the eye (as she had this past July). This one is small, and was detected by the vet after putting in colored eye drops. So, Dolly is on antibiotic eye drops, another eye drop and pain medicine. If it doesn't heal, we'll be going to the doggy opthamologist to get treatment (which is medication under a temporary contact lens - as we did in July).

Fortunately, Tyler is healthy and his normal terror self. He came to the vet this morning and barked and barked at the other dog in the waiting room.

Below- This weekend's relevant Mother Goose and Grimm cartoon!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Italy Blog #62: Rome: Navona Square's Secret and 4 Rivers Fountain

Welcome back to the Italy blog. We're picking up in Rome and will uncover the secret below Navona Square in the vicinity of the Vatican (we blogged about it last week) and show you the Fountain of 4 Rivers.

Navona Square
HISTORY OF NAVONA SQUARE - It was created in 1 A.D. Yes, the year ONE. It was shaped like a horse track. There was actually a stadium known as "Agonale" underneath the current square. The surface of the stadium is about 33 feet (10 meters) below the surface. Buildings surround the square where the stadium seats would have been.
Fountain of 4 Rivers

THE FOUNTAIN OF FOUR RIVERSFontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) is a fountain in the Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy. It was designed in 1651 by Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Pope Innocent X whose family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili, faced onto the piazza as did the church of Sant'Agnese in Agoner.

Close up of Fountain of 4 Rivers
The fountain has male River Gods that represent four major rivers: Africa (the Nile); Asia (the Ganges); Europe (the Danube) and South America (the Amazon).   Above the four river gods stands an ancient Egyptian obelisk surmounted with the Pamphili family emblem of a dove with an olive twig.

Another Fountain in Navona Square
Tom and our tour guide Rosanna at the Fountain of 4 Rivers
NEXT: THE PANTHEON: Temple to the Gods

Friday, November 25, 2016

Photo Fun at Thanksgiving and a Double Birthday

Kenny, Brian, Scotty, Doug, Mom, Bob, Tom (Rob took the pic)
It was a great Thanksgiving and there was lots of food! I cooked turkey and baked a lot of pies and cakes,  but the company made the occasion.
 My brother Doug drove down from Massachusetts, with his boys Brian and Scotty. Tom's folks came over and Kenny  came over, too.  We took an after-dinner dog walk, and Brian, Scotty and Doug tossed around a football outside (it was in the 60s).
  Since both Doug's and Tom's birthdays were this week I made them a birthday cake, too. 
  We hope your Thanksgiving was fun, too!
Tom, Kenny and Rob

Doug, Scotty,Rob, Brian and Tom

Doug and Tom's birthday cake blowout

Homemade pumpkin and blueberry pie

Kenny and Rob

Thursday, November 24, 2016

DC comics "Invasion Secret No More" TPB - basis for CW Network's 4 tv show crossover

I just finished reading the 1980s DC Comics Graphic Novel trade paperback called "Invasion, Secret No More." Although a huge DC Comics' superhero fan, I hadn't read it before. I picked it up because the story line is going to be the basis for the upcoming CW Network 4 TV show crossover of my 4 favorite TV shows: The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow and Legends. 
  Honestly, I didn't care for it. This is only the second big "event" comic I didn't care for. The other was "Final Crisis." The latter because it was depressing and everyone died. This one, because it was mostly all about weird aliens and not really superheroes and because the writing and the artwork were not my favorites. 
  For DC Comic book aficionados, the late 80s was a time when the Justice League didn't have any regular members, other than Batman (and he was used really poorly) and the artwork and stories were not appealing to me. It was also the time of "Justice League International" (another not so good time in the history of the group). Usually I don't write up bad reviews, but I had all to do to get through this. 

   On the BRIGHT SIDE- I know that the CW Network 4 TV series superhero crossover event will be much, much better. It all stars Nov. 28th.

CW Network 4 cross-over shows
STORY:  The massive 3-issue event series from 1988 is collected for the first time! In this universe-spanning saga, the deadly but emotionless Dominators have come to Earth to wipe out the threat posed by metahumans. But what is the real reason for their attack? Written by Keith Giffen & Bill Mantlo
Art by Todd McFarlane, Bart Sears, P. Craig Russell
, Joe Rubinstein and others
Cover by McFarlane & Rubinstein


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy birthday Tom!

Tom and Franklin
Happy birthday to the love of my life! We met (on line) this month in 2005, eleven years ago, met in person Dec. 10, 2005, and we've been together ever since. We got married in 2009 and celebrated our 7th anniversary this year. We laugh every day, sing together, do dog rescue, are in a paranormal group together, enjoy eating out or eating at home, walking the dogs and finding simple pleasures.  
  Tom's very detail oriented, is meticulously clean, doesn't like clutter, enjoys simple and plain food (like me), a good margarita, chicken or turkey or pasta, he's an amateur historian on all things from England's Tudor period (and can tell you anything about it) and makes all of the landscaping around the house look great. Being the architect, he designed the 3-window dormer on our house, and the sun porch we built
November 2016
together. He's come up with designs for interior renovations, carpet, flooring, paint colors (which is good because I'm colorblind) and so much more. Everything that has been done to the house is because of Tom and I'm so thankful for that and every day. 

  Tom is also famous for his quote of the week - usually a quote that highlights someone who does something stupid or that we find funny. 

Out fav. Family pic: Tom, Dolly, Franklin, Rob, Tyler

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Darwin Award Winner: Oregon man reportedly dies trying to 'hot pot' in Yellowstone hot spring

The Darwin Awards are given to foolish people who attempt stupid things that wind up getting them killed.
  Sadly, on Nov. 16 the Associated Press reported a 23 year old Oregon man who wanted to "bathe" in the scalding hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. Well, he died.
  Use your head. If there are signs that say "Danger" and "Do not go into the Hot Springs" then don't do it. Sigh.

Oregon man reportedly dies trying to 'hot pot' in Yellowstone hot spring

An Oregon man who died after falling into a scalding Yellowstone National Park hot spring in June was looking for a place to "hot pot," the forbidden practice of soaking in one of the park's thermal features, officials said.
  Sable Scott told investigators that she and her 23-year-old brother, Colin, left a boardwalk near Pork Chop Geyser and walked several hundred feet up a hill in search of "a place that they could potentially get into and soak," Deputy Chief Ranger Lorant Veress told KULR-TV in an interview.
   As Sable Scott took video of her brother with her cellphone on June 7, he reached down to check the water temperature and slipped and fell into a thermal pool about 6 feet long, 4 feet wide and 10 feet deep, according to a National Park Service incident record first reported by KULR.
Park officials did not release the video or a description of it, but the report said it also chronicled Sable Scott's efforts to rescue her brother.
A hot spring
   Search and rescue rangers spotted Colin Scott's body floating in the pool the day of the accident, but a lightning storm prevented recovery, the report said. The next day, workers could not find any remains in the boiling, acidic water.
   "In very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving," Veress said.
The report included images of several signs warning people of the dangers of the park's geothermal features and of traveling off walkways in the area where Colin Scott died.
   A week later, a tourist from China was fined $1,000 for breaking through the fragile crust in the Mammoth Hot Springs area, apparently to collect water for medicinal purposes.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Working at Satellite Launch Viewing: GOES-R

Rob and Tom
Since we work in the same place we had the opportunity to work a special viewing of a satellite launch.
    On Saturday, Nov. 19, NOAA's GOES-R satellite launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.  There was a special viewing for employees in Maryland, so we both helped out with the event, setting up banners, arranging snacks, coordinating the local event and about 80 people showed up.
  There was a kick off talk from a scientist explaining about the satellite.
Launch of GOES-R at 6:42 p.m.EST
   For those of you  who have no idea what GOES-R is, we'll tell you. First, it's a weather satellite. It allows the National Weather Service to monitor weather in the U.S. (it is one of 2 that sit in a fixed orbit over the U.S. and that means that it's "Geostationary."). So when you see clouds and storms moving across the U.S. on TV, those images are from those to "Geostationary" or GOES satellites.

THE LAUNCH - At 6:42 p.m. on Nov. 19th as the day's launch window closed, the nearly 200-foot United Launch Alliance rocket bolted from Launch Complex 41 with more than 2.2 million pounds of thrust from a Russian main engine and four solid rocket boosters.

A packed room of viewers
(for info go to 
1) Scans of the Western Hemisphere from North Pole to South Pole will be collected five times faster — in just five minutes.
2) At the same time, images of local storm events can be refreshed as often as every 30 seconds. That means almost real-time, movie quality views will replace the blurrier time-lapse images available now.
3) he pictures will collect three times more information with four times better resolution, revealing features never seen before.
Rob and Tom at a display
4) Views down into a hurricane’s eye wall will help forecasters gauge if a storm is strengthening or weakening. That should improve tracking, and over time make for more accurate landfall predictions that prompt evacuation orders.
5) The imager will work with a new lightning mapper that will spot developing storms sooner, allowing forecasters to get warnings of tornadoes or flash floods out minutes earlier.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

A New Favorite Mystery: Chihuahua Confidential by Waverly Curtis

I (Rob) love mysteries, and love dogs. As I kid I loved Scooby Doo, so when you combine all three
of those elements in one mystery series with great characters, I'm hooked. "Chihuahua Confidential" by Waverly Curtis is a "Barking Detective Mystery" starring Geri (a PI in training) and her Chihuahua, Pepe, who she can actually understand (in English). Together they solve murder mysteries and this  was the second book in the series I enjoyed.
   In fact, I loved it so much, that I would have to say it's one of my all time favorite mysteries ever. That's saying a lot!  I cannot recommend this book enough. I LOVE the characterization of little Pepe and his pet parent Geri as they work together to solve mysteries. In this book they are contestants in a "Dancing with Dogs" TV show. I couldn't put it down. Bravo to the author team!  I can't wait to read the next in the series.
   - Rob
  Here is the summary of the book: 
When novice P.I. Geri Sullivan first heard her adopted Chihuahua talk, she thought she'd gone barking mad. But it turns out Pepe is a savvy sleuth--and if he has his way, he'll soon be a bone-a-fido celebrity, too, as Pepe and Geri are Hollywood-bound to star in the reality show Dancing With Dogs. So far, so bueno.

Then Nigel St. Nigel, the judge everyone loves to hate, becomes the judge someone wanted dead. Pepe and Geri are hot on a killer's heels but between perfecting the paso doble and protecting Pepe's Pomeranian lady love, both have their paws full. If Pepe's new status as a Beverly Hills Chihuahua goes to his head, it may be the last waltz for Geri's crime-biting compadre. .

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Rob's guest appearance on Podcast "From a Medium's Perspective"

  Enjoy this really insightful 45 minute podcast about pets in spirit. I had a wonderful time as a guest talking with radio show host and Psychic Teacher Reverend Tracey Lockwood on her show “From a Medium’s Perspective”!
 Rob Gutro, author, medium and paranormal investigator talks with Tracey about "Pets and the Afterlife" based on his new book "Pets and the Afterlife 2." (available on  

Friday, November 18, 2016

Dog Arthritis and 2 Helpful Supplements We Use

This past June we found out that our 12 year old Weimaraner, Dolly, has advanced arthritis in her hips.  After talking to the
vet and doing some research we've found 2 supplements that have really made a difference in the past couple of months (in addition to a diet, where Dolly dropped 11 pounds since June to a svelte 63 pounds).
  They are Dasuquin and Extend Joint Care. (I'm just a Dog dad/consumer sharing this info, and I have no affiliation with these manufacturers. I just want to share what I learned to help you help your dog!).

HOW DO YOU KNOW ITS ARTHRITIS?  - There's one sign, which is heavy breathing or panting when your dog starts to walk. That's how I knew something wasn't right. X-rays confirmed arthritis in her hips. Also, if you notice that your dog slows down during walks, does not get up easily, or is reluctant to climb stairs or jump into the car. 

WEIGHT  CHECK -   If your dog has arthritis, make sure he or she isn't overweight. That weight adds pressure to the joints and causes pain.

BIG DIFFERENCE - BOTH of these things have really made a difference in the last 2 months. Since Dolly has lost weight, and has been taking these, she doesn't pant anymore while walking.  We also practice agility training in the house after dinner, and she now runs up and down stairs without issue. 

Dolly standing at attention

Dolly takes this daily for her arthritis:
1)  Dasuquin® Soft Chews for Large Dogs
WHAT IS DASUQUIN? - Dasuquin is a joint health supplement containing the powerful ingredient ASU along with the optimal amount of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate for your pet. ASU works along with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to support your pet’s joints. In fact, cell culture studies have shown that the combination of glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate plus ASU works better than glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate alone. Green tea extract is included for additional wellness support and benefits, making Dasuquin a comprehensive joint health formula.


2)  Extend Joint Care -  
This has really made for great improvement in Dolly!
I sprinkle 1 packet of this on her food at dinner time and mix with a little water to make a tasty gravy on her kibble.

Sprinkle one packet over your dog's food, either dry or mixed with water and poured over food like a gravy, once per day. Allow 4-6 weeks for best results. Continue as needed.

Extend Joint Care™ has been formulated to optimize the benefits of all four ingredients, each of which have been shown to be highly effective in supporting joint health:

Glucosamine HCL is a building block amino sugar for the glycosaminoglycans matrix (GAGs). GAGs give joint cartilage extra firmness while bearing weight. Its beneficial effects have been documented and established in several human and animal. Glucosamine supplements of every form are extracted from shellfish and have been proven to ease the discomfort of arthritis in clinical studies since 1980. It comes in several supplement forms including sulfate and Glucosamine HCL. Studies have also demonstrated Glucosamine’s effectiveness in soothing discomfort associated with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, bursitis, disc degeneration, ankylosing spondylitis, tendinitis, and in reducing inflammatory response. It has also shown to be effective in repairing cartilage, tendons, and ligaments as well as healing wounds in the skin. Its effective application in pets has been demonstrated in assisting dogs with inflamed discs, siatic nerve, and joint inflammation associated with aging.

MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane) is reported to enhance the structural integrity of connective tissue, and help reduce scar tissue by altering cross-linkages which contribute to scar formation. MSM has been shown as having powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reducing properties, blocking the pain perception in certain nerve fibers before the pain impulse reaches the brain.

Type II Chicken Collagen has been shown in studies and trials to help the body repair and rebuild joint cartilage - reducing joint pain, increasing joint mobility and flexibility, and promoting long-term joint health. Taken from the chicken's sternum cartilage, Type II Collagen is an innovative form of undenatured type II collagen that works with the immune system to reduce inflammation and restore cartilage (alongside glucosamine & chondroitin, which are materials involved in the structure of healthy cartilage). Extensive research and clinical studies have shown Type II to be both safe and effective in supporting joint health – and clarify how it helps the body derail a destructive process involved in both types of arthritis.

Ascorbic Acid functions as an antioxidant and free radical scavenger, is used for normal repair of tissue, and is used for collagen synthesis. In fact, it is vital for the synthesis of the connective tissue collagen, which is an integral part of cartilage. In addition, studies show that MSM is more effective when taken with Ascorbic Acid.


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