Friday, October 31, 2008

Checked that box...

According to the Associated Press:
RAVENNA, Mich. - A Michigan man who bowled his first perfect game immediately collapsed in the bowling alley and died.

Don Doane belonged to the same team at a bowling alley for 45 years.

On Oct. 16 at Ravenna Bowl, he scored a perfect 300.

As he was being congratulated by his teammates, local television reports said Doane collapsed on the floor.

The 62-year-old was taken to a local hospital but could not be saved. A medical examiner later determined that a heart attack killed Doane.

Now I don't want to jump to conclusions, but perhaps, just maybe, Doane might have thought of doing something other than spending the last 45 years in a bowling ally? Although, those 10 Xs will look mighty good on the headstone.

At least his final resting place won't be the "Tomb of the Unknown Bowler."

I Fought the Law...

Just so everyone's on the same page, there's a little thing called Moore's Law stating computer processing power doubles roughly every two years. That is to say, chip companies can now jam twice as many transistors into a specific space than they could two years ago.

While Moore's Law usually applies to processing power, I had my own little experience with it this week in terms of storage capacity. This happened when I realized a Word document I'd been thinking about was actually stored on Opus, my older, but incredibly faithful Macintosh Power PC 7500. (He's named after the penguin in Bloom County. There's a pretty good likeness of Opus here if you're interested.) This was my first computer and, when I bought him in December 1995, he was the most kick-ass computer on the ninth floor of Morrison Hall. I was kicking all kinds of ass at Marathon and Marathon II.

Anyway, to get to the point, as I was strolling down a digital memory lane and digging around on that old 1G drive, I discovered there was a lot more stuff there than I actually remembered. Letters and emails and journals and notes I'd taken covering this story and that. Now that I knew it was there, I wanted to save them all like a PETA member protecting baby harp seals.

Here's where Moore enters and the problem arises (again, Moore's applies to processing, not storage, but who really cares?) The venerable old Mac has, as I said, a 1G drive. Sitting at the other end of my desk, next to Opus' illegitimate Gateway son, Evil Opus, is Milo Bloom, a 250 gig external drive (named after another Bloom County character), and the ultimate destination of all the digital crap I'm unwilling to part with like some folks and their shoes. Figuring seven doublings during the 13 years since I bought it (I'm rounding up), that 1G becomes 128G, just one doubling short of actual reality.

Now, you may not think a 1G drive is very big, to tell you the truth, my iPod Shuffle (Little Opus) has the same capacity. But here's where I ran into my fight with technology. There were no CD burners built into computers in 1995 and, following a horrific and tragic crash about eight years ago, old Opus lost some of his marbles and no longer has a program to interact with the Interwebs.

So, without a burner in the drive bay, I was left with nothing but 3.5-inch disks (in case you forgot what they look like) to move everything from one computer to the other.

Do you have any idea how long it takes to move a couple hundred text documents and photos 1.4 megabytes at a time?

Gotta love that technology.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

10 or .10?

Is perfect? Or just a tenth of a percent of perfection?

NASA announced some good news today, the Hubble Space Telescope is back in action and sending cool pictures back to Earth again.

The above pic, which they're calling "a perfect 10" was the first released after engineers convinced the orbiting spyglass to switch to its back-up data transmission channel last week.

The reason for the name? Well, if you look closely, the galaxy on the left looks kinda like a "1" and the galaxy on the right looks a "0." Put them together and you've got a 10.

But I'm thinking if you take the really bright star or galaxy on the far left into account, the image is just a .10.

Don't get me wrong, it's a cool picture and I'm rooting for the guys heading there early next year for a delayed repair job (they're bringing up parts to fix the problem that shut it down in September). Once everything is shipshape, the Hubble is expected to keep working and sending us beautiful pictures for another five or so years until 2013 or even longer.

It's funny how something that was once a joke is now one of the most valuable scientific instruments ever conceived by man. Me? I think they should keep fixing it for as long as possible.

Not as Good as Dancing With Matt, but...

We all remember the video of Matt Harding, who's in Singapore according to his Web site, dancing his ass off all around the world. It was sweet, hopeful and basically cheered your heart. The music is pretty cool as well.

This
link to the Atlantic does almost the same thing. It'll make your day a little bit brighter.

The video, posted on Andrew Sullivan's "
The Daily Dish," is titled, "My Dogs greeting me after returning from 14 months in Iraq." As Sullivan writes, "God bless and save all of those defending us abroad. And their dogs waiting for them patiently at home."

For those of you who are dog owners, you know the joy this guy and his two friends are feeling. If you don't own a dog, like me, well it's still pretty clear.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Thousand Words

A friend of mine passed this along to me and it's so funny I just had to share it with y'all. For those of you unfamiliar with the many and varied camouflage utility uniforms of the American military, the guy on the left is a Marine captain.

Now, I'm not saying there aren't Marines who fit the wide profile of the soldier in the picture. In fact, I had a company commander considerably larger than that guy, but he had a heart condition and was eventually medically retired.

I'm thinking if you're a guy and your work-out T-shirt says "ArmY" because you've grown a pair of man boobs like Meatloaf in "Fight Club," you might want to think about spending a little more time in the gym and a little less in the chow hall.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Time to Pay Up

I was amused by the bottom grafs of a Bloomberg story on the conviction of Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska. It pointed out the irony of how even though they're not represented in the Senate, 12 District voters may have just decided if the Democrats will have the 60-seat filibuster-proof majority in that chamber the party so desperately desires.

Stevens, 84, like other long-serving senators, was wildly popular in his home state. During his 40 years in the Senate (he's the longest serving R in the Senate), he brought home the bacon and made sure his tiny home state (population-wise) got every penny it could, whether it needed it or not.

Like any powerful person who's been corrupted, he apparently felt he was above the law. The hubris of his excuses is laughable.

"I paid every bill I was sent," Stevens said, trying to justify the pittance he paid for the massive renovations done to his house. "It was a loan," was his way of describing the presence of the vibrating chair he received.

Does he really think we're that stupid?

Today (yesterday, actually) is a great day for the District. Should Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich defeat Stevens next Tuesday, not only will he represent the 683,478 residents of Alaska, he'll definitely owe those 12 District residents and, by extension, their 588,280 neighbors, for getting him elected.

Not that he'll come through, of course. Begich, like Stevens before him, is first and foremost a politician and politicians have no loyalty.

Monday, October 27, 2008

More than the sum of its parts

While I try not to go back and revisit topics, I'm going to make an exception here. Every time I read an article in the paper or see one on TV about California's Proposition 8 my blood pressure goes up a point or 40.

With hopefully eight of the shortest days ever recorded in the history of mankind to go before the election next Tuesday, the bullshit in the Golden State is getting deep.

Like I said last week, I don't have a vote on this issue and I only have a few friends who do, and I'm pretty sure all of them are voting "no." But if you know anyone who does vote in California, I'd urge you to give 'em a call and a nudge in the right direction.

Or, rather, not the right direction, but the correct direction.

Here's a little sample of the rhetoric being used in support of an amendment to another state's constitution to codify discrimination:

“It’s more important than the presidential election. We’ve picked bad presidents before, and we’ve survived as a nation. But we will not survive if we lose the institution of marriage,”

This quote in the NYT's story is from Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobby based here in Washington. Gay marriage will bring down America, eh? I'm pretty sure if we survived the Soviet threat during the 40+ years of the Cold War, and Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan during World War II, we'll learn to adapt.

The scary part of the NYT article is how the proponents of Prop 8 are casting the fight in terms of freedom of religion and hate speech. Supporters claim if they fail, churches and pastors across the state will be forced to perform gay marriages. To back this up they've brought in Ake Green, a preacher from Sweden, who spent a month in jail after running afoul of his country's hate speech laws when he gave a sermon denouncing homosexuality.

Now, if for a moment I thought the failure of Prop 8 would in any way trample on someone's freedom or religion or speech, I would be in the vanguard of those fighting against it. But it doesn't and won't. As the article stated Catholic churches haven't been forced to marry divorcees and rabbis don't have to do interfaith weddings if they don't want to. Prop 8 won't create a protected class, all it will do is allow people who love one another to claim the same government-sponsored benefits everyone else is eligible for in California .

Unlike some European countries, we don't have laws in this country against hate speech. There are hate crime laws (which I'm a little iffy on, personally), but you have to combine thoughts and speech with criminal action for them to apply.

Just like the Illinois Nazis were allowed to march in Skokie, in America you're free to to out and stand on whatever soapbox you like and announce to the whole wide world you hate fags and kikes and niggers and spics and pollacks and micks and wops and chinks and wogs and crackers and Yankees and papists and towel heads and whoever the Hell else annoys you. All you risk is the same thing the suburban Chicago Nazis risked: an ass kicking of cosmic proportions that takes place in front of a cheering audience and, perhaps, temporarily indifferent police officers.

For those of you whose jaws are still hanging open, yeah, I really did use all those nasty words. Why? Because there are people out there who do use them to hurt, many of them are the same ones who were sure that letting blacks go to the same schools and vote was sure to be the end of this country. And we all know how that worked out so far.

The quickest and surest way to bring down this country is not gay marriage. The quickest and surest way is when one segment of the population is allowed to use the democratic process to take rights away from another segment.

America is the strongest country in the world because of our differences, not in spite of them. Our differences are, in fact, what give We The People our power.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Psssst...Inside Info

Yesterday, after a discussion about the election, my co-worker Kim (Sistah Girl to my Lance the Intern, so to speak) sent me this. She got it from her cousin's wife, apparently it's quietly being passed from email-to-email to get the word out.*

It is, I have to say, one of the funnier things I've seen throughout the entire election season.

Good Morning My People –

After watching the final debate the other night, it dawned on me that Obama could actually win this thing. If that happens, there will be a lot of people (some of our co-workers included) who will be afraid that an Obama presidency will usher in the End of Days. They’ll be watching us on November 5 (the day after the election) for signs of the end times.

To keep the peace and keep a lot of folks from getting nervous, I think we should develop a list of acceptable celebrations and behaviors we should probably avoid – at least for the first few days:

1. No crying, hugging or shouting “Thank you Lord” – at least not in public.

2. No high-fives – at least not unless the area is clear and there are no witnesses.

3. No laughing at the McCain/Palin supporters.

4. No calling in sick on November 5th. They’ll get nervous if too many of us don’t show up.

5. We’re allowed to give each other knowing winks or nods in passing. Just try to keep from grinning too hard.

6. No singing loudly, "We’ve Come this Far by Faith" (it will be acceptable to hum softly, however).

7. No bringing barbeque ribs or fried chicken for lunch in the company lunchroom for at least a week (no chittlins at all) (this may make us seem too ethnic).

8. No leaving Kool-Aid packages at the water fountain (this might be a sign that poor folks might be getting a break through).

9. No Cupid Shuffle during breaks (this could indicate a little too much excitement).

10. Please no "Moving on Up" music (we are going to try to remain humble).

11. No doing the George Jefferson dance (unless you're in your office with the door closed).

12. Please try not to yell – BOOOO YAH!

13. Just in case you're wondering, doing the Running Man, cabbage patch or a backhand spring on the highway is 100 percent okay.

So, for the white folks or, as we're sometimes known, The Man, what suggestions do you have for Nov. 5 to make the day pass more pleasently?

*Although I shouldn't need to point it out, this material is presented in the spirit of fun and there is no, I repeat, NO malicious intent. So get off my ass.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

They Came in Peace

I still remember walking out of church 25 years ago today and hearing the news that someone had driven a truck loaded with explosives into a Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. I was young then, still in middle school in fact, but the memory sticks with me to this day. The attack made a powerful impression on a young boy.
.

A few short years later, I found myself stationed at Camp Lejeune, home of Battalion Landing Team 1/8 (a.k.a. 1st Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment), and the memories of the attack on that unit were still vivid for my fellow Marines.

Still raw.

I spent almost six years at Lejeune between the Marine Corps and working as a reporter there after college. It wasn't a bad place if you had to be stuck somewhere in (or near) the military, and the 14 or so miles of beach put it way ahead of the alternative just up the road, Fort Bragg.

Through all of that time one of my most favorite places was the Beirut Memorial. Actually, there are three memorials to the 241 Marines, sailors and soldiers killed Oct. 23, 1983. The wall, a plaque and a living memorial of 241 Bradford pear trees.

According to the Camp Lejeune Web site: “At the Northwoods Park Middle School, a group of classes, taught by Mrs. Martha Warren, initiated a support project to write the families of the men who had lost their lives. These students also helped to raise funds for the memorial trees and became a focal point in this effort. A ninth-grader auctioned her Cabbage Patch doll and raised $1,500 for the project. One tree was planted for each lost serviceman along Lejeune Boulevard and the completed tree project was dedicated on March 24, 1984.”

The gray granite wall of the memorial resembles those the Marines saw every day on patrol throughout Beirut: broken and jagged. Set in the middle of the wall is a statue of a single Marine. Rifle in hand, dog tags hanging out he stares out into a distant horizon.

The wall beside him bears the simple phrase, carved deep into the Georgia stone: They Came In Peace.


It's a quiet place, the memorial is, tucked under a towering cathedral roof of Carolina pines and animated only by the wind whispering through the trees and the distant rush of Highway 24. But no matter what time of year you visit the memorial, there are always little tributes placed at the base of the wall. Flags, Teddy bears, a bottle of Jack or a six of Pabst with one or two of the tops popped.

Ten years ago, I visited the memorial about a week after the 15th anniversary of the attack. Tucked between the slabs was a letter. A letter a 16 or 17-year-old girl wrote to her father telling him how her life had been going since she last saw him when she was just 1 or 2. It also told him how much she still missed him every day.

So, if you have a free moment today in amongst the hustle and bustle of your life, perhaps you could spend it thinking about these young men who never had the chance to become old.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Couple Things

As I am slammed by work today, this is going to be short.

First, as I went into the Post Office yesterday afternoon I noticed it is now open until 7 p.m. That's pretty kick ass.

Just as I was leaving I heard an ad on the radio for Mark Warner's Senate campaign and was reminded, like getting slapped with a cold, wet fish to the face, there actually is a Senate race going on here in Virginia. Then I had to struggle to come up with Jim Gilmore's name who's running on the GOP ticket. Yeah, 13 days out voters should not be scratching their heads and straining to come up with your name if you're running for a statewide office.

Do we really care if McCain's campaign spent $150k+ on Sarah Palin's work clothes? Seriously, total double standard considering how much men's suits cost. Despite this, even though they could just change the tie and no one would notice they're wearing the same suit, I'm guessing John, Barrack and Joe each have a closet full of blue and gray suits. Although...I don't know too many "regular" moms who can afford to drop that kind of coin at Nieman's and Saks. Well, except for this one.

Isn't that a funny picture? I Googled "wet fish" hoping for something to go with my "slapped in the face" comment and that came up. Seriously, how perfect is that?

I'm thinking about cutting down my TV. There are some shows I think could definitely be cut out of the schedule and everything else could be DVR'd and watched in one night. I hate to say it, but I think two of my favorites, Bones and House, may be at the top of the list.

Shows that'll stay: How I Met Your Mother, Sarah Conor Chronicles, Fringe (Walter rocks!) The Ex Factor (a new fav), Numb3rs and Life. Although, some of these may even get cut as soon as college basketball starts.

The reason for my possible sacrifice of Seeley, Tempe and Greg? Well, there's some professional development I want to do and it has to be done on my time. I can either cut into TV or sleep, and I already sleep less than most people I know.

That's it for today. Back to PowerPoint land.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Neverending Story

When I looked at my calender today I realized it was my brother's birthday, so Happy Birthday brother.

But that's not the reason we're here. I also noticed (how could it be missed?) there's only two weeks left until the 2012 presidential campaign begins in earnest. Fourteen more glorious days where we can sit back, relax, enjoy the peace and quiet and not be hounded by never ending campaign ads...

Anyone else remember when this thing started? I don't. I had to look it up.

Here's the question: Who was the first person to announce he or she was running for president in 2008? Was it

A. John McCain
B. John Edwards
C. Rudy Giuliani
D. Hillary Clinton
E. Mitt Romney
F. Barrack Obama
G. None of the above

The answers are:
A. McCain announced he was forming an exploratory committee Nov. 10, 2006 (711 days ago).
B. Edwards announced he was running Dec. 28, 2006, in New Orleans (the same week the tsunami hit the Indian Ocean) (673 days ago).
C. Giuliani announced he was forming an exploratory committee the same day McCain did (711 days ago).
D. Clinton announced she was forming an exploratory committee Jan. 20, 2007 650 days ago).
E. Romney set up his exploratory committee Jan. 3, 2007 (657 days ago).
F. Obama announced he was forming an exploratory committee Jan. 16, 2007 (654 days ago).
As staggering as these numbers are, and as relentless as the assault on our minds and sanity have been the answer is, I can't believe it, G. None of the above. None of these candidates was the first member of their party (according to Wikipedia) to announce their candidacies.

Sigh. I feel like the guy in the picture up there.

The first member of the GOP to publicly say he was running for president was...California Rep. Duncan Hunter. He announced the formation of his exploratory committee Oct. 30, 2006 (723 days ago).

But Dunc has nothing on our first and second place finishers, both Democrats.

Former Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska), and failed 1972 vice presidential candidate (he actually asked for the job, but didn't get it) told the National Press Club on April 17, 2006 (918 days ago when he was 76 years old) he intended to run. Funny, didn't hear much out of this candidate during the campaign.

By a slim margin over the two-term Alaska senator, though, is the man currently running for VP on the Democratic ticket, six-term Delaware Sen. Joe Biden. On March 21, 2006, 945 days ago, Biden told the world he was running for president.

Seriously, this campaign started almost 1,000 days ago. Let it roll off your tongue: 1,000 days. One THOUSAND DAYS!!

Choosing the leader of our country is an important task, but does it really have to take this long and cost this much money? How can we make the system better and more efficient? I'm asking you...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Not that anyone asked me, but...

Caught a tidbit on the news this morning about California and the battle there over Proposition 8 which, if passed, would take away the rights of gays and lesbians in the state to marry. And, since I'm feeling a bit frisky today, I figured I'd write about something that matters.

Here is the text California voters will see on their ballots in 15 days:

"ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact on state and local governments."
Now, I don't know about you, but this kinda sticks in my craw. Even though I can't vote on it, there are many reasons I'm against Prop 8, the biggest one is it's just plain wrong. So, for my little section of the blogosphere, I found this for my virtual front lawn:

As I was searching around for this sign, I came across this...I think it's a blog, but there isn't much there except a picture of very boring looking family and the commentary below, which I'm reproducing verbatim:

"Help Protect our families and marrige between a man and a women


We here in California are in for a big fight that we cant let satin win and thats the value of the family, they are trying to pass a law that will legalize gay marriages. As a member of the church I feel very strongly about the family unit and that marriage is only to be between a man and women, we are in for a fight but we are pressing forward with the direction of the presidency of the church to go door to door and stand for what is true and right."

Let's critique, shall we?

The first problem I see is whoever wrote this should learn how to spell marriage before they go out fighting to protect it. Proof positive that while you need to take a test to drive a car or own a handgun (in most jurisdictions), any idiot can get married.

Second, I don't really think satin poses that much of a danger to the American way of life. Of course, there was that time back in '92 when my friend Pip came back to Gitmo after a week's leave with a giant knot on his forehead. It was the tragic result of an unwise combination of silk boxers and a high-speed dive onto a bed covered with satin sheets.

And, finally, while the author is obviously against gay marriage, he apparently has nothing against plural marriage. He said it not once, but twice: a man and women. Seems a little unfair to me. He gets to marry more than one woman, but Bob down the street can't marry Jerry? Bigot.

Most of all, my problem with Prop 8 is government has no business fucking around with marriage in the first place. Marriage is first, last and always a religious ceremony and, if memory serves me, the 1st Amendment prohibits the government from messing around or supporting any religion.

But, for the sake of argument (and you know I love a good argument) there are several Episcopal churches currently marrying gays and lesbians. How can the government recognize the validity of the vows taken by a man and a woman at, say, 11 a.m. on a particular Saturday, but not those of two women taken in the same church three hours later?

Marriage is none of the governments' business and governments need to get the hell out of peoples' lives when it comes to matters of the heart.

Three States in Five Hours

After a few wrong turns on our way to Harpers Ferry Saturday morning our intrepid band of adventurers eventually reached the trailhead and set off on their way. It was an epic journey, sure to go down in history alongside those of Odysseus, Nellie Bly and Andrew Summers Rowan.

Anyway, if anyone is looking for a fun way to fill a Saturday a walk around Harpers Ferry, and I do mean around Harpers Ferry, would not be a waste of your time. Our third president, Thomas Jefferson, described it far better than I when he wrote this in Notes on the State of Virginia, in 1785.

For those of you who aren't going to take the time to read the whole thing, here's the short version:

"The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature...This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic."

I'd say if it was worth crossing an ocean using the wind for power in the 18th century, it's probably still worth a drive from the District, NoVa or Maryland. To tempt you even further, here are a couple pictures I took during our little walk.


The confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah at Harpers Ferry.
Except for the bridges and some of the buildings, it probably looks
a lot
like it did when T.J. first saw it.
This caught my eye was we passed it by.

Shadows, light, headstones and blue skies. If I have to die,
this cemetery is probably not a bad place to spend eternity.

One of the views from Jefferson's Rock. I was hoping for a bit more
color in the leaves on the hills, but I was happy with what I got.

A blast of color in front of the ruins of the Episcopal Church.

The last picture I took after crossing the last bridge,
from Maryland back into Virginia. I wonder if the guy
in the bottom left caught anything?

Our heroes hiked about seven miles, through three states, crossed three bridges over two rivers (we crossed the Potomac twice) and ended the day here with burgers, fries and shakes (at least I had a shake, and it was gooooood). I recommend it if you ever get to Frederick.

I don't know where next year's off-road adventure will take me and my friends, but I do know this: If I can't think of somewhere interesting I wouldn't mind going back to Harpers Ferry.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Ummmmm, the Sagarmatha* of Meat...

This one goes out to my pal Lemmonex, who's always on the lookout for a good burger.

As I was reading the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this morning I came across this article that goes along with the Associated Press picture to the right. And no, the guy is not sitting far, far away from that burger, it really is bigger than his head.

According to the AP, Brad Sciullo, 21, of Uniontown, Pa., took 4 hours and 39 minutes to finish what it described as "a marathon. A meat marathon, that is."
"About three hours into it, things got tough," the AP reported he said. I should hope so.

Sciullo-an average size guy at 5'11" and 180 pounds- is the first person to finish the Beer Barrel Belly Bruiser. The Everest of burgers comes from Denny's Beer Barrel Pub, about 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in Clearfield. The Bruiser's burger alone weighs in at a respectable 15 pounds, with the bun and toppings adding another 5.2 pounds.

Ummygod. I just threw up a little in my mouth writing that description.

FIFTEEN POUNDS. Of ground beef. Going through his colon. An avalanche of meat rolling through his digestive track.

I'd think with that amount of meat it would be like the description I saw on the Discovery Channel about a giant asteroid hitting the earth: With five miles of the 25-mile wide rock burrowed into the earth, the tail end of the asteroid was still outside most of the atmosphere 100,000 feet above.

About 10 pounds in wouldn't he already be shitting the first bites out while still eating his way through the last 10? Do they have a specially built chair that allows this to happen?

Since he ate the burger in less than five hours, Sciullo won $400, three T-shirts and a certificate trumpeting his gastrointestinal triumph. Wouldn't a gift certificate for a colonic have been more useful?

Why'd he do it? "I wanted to see if I could," was the answer.

Not a good enough reason in my opinion. Now, if it were a 20-pound taco...

* The Nepali name for Mount Everest

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Carry on my wayward son...

I'm headed out to the hills and wilds of Maryland, Virginy and West "By God" Virginia this weekend with some friends to get a look at what I hope will be some decent color in the trees.

We're headed up to Harpers Ferry, site of John Brown's famous, but ultimately unsuccessful raid. Brown and his men, 20 including himself, attacked the federal arsenal (which was guarded by one guy) at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers hoping to liberate some of the 100,000 rifles and muskets there. The weapons were intended to arm slaves during the coming insurrection.

As I was reading a copy of the Express I found in the bathroom, I noticed the "Today in History" column. Turns out, today is the 149th anniversary of the failed raid. (As is our wont here in America, I'm guessing there's going to be some kind of party or ceremony in Harpers Ferry a year from today.)

Happy Anniversary Mr. Brown.

The raiders were eventually surrounded and routed by U.S. Marines led by U.S. Army Col. Robert E. Lee and Lieutenant J.E.B. Stuart. Turns out, also according to Wikipedia, John Wilkes Booth borrowed a uniform less than two months later to attend Brown's hanging in Charles Town (which was then in Virginia).

Isn't it interesting how the same names come up again and again? Lee was there at what was one of the very first explosions that would become the Civil War (aka The War of Northern Aggression or "the Recent Unpleasantness") as a Union colonel. A few years later, as general-in-chief of the the Confederate Army, he rode his faithful Traveller to a meeting with Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House to end the war. (Incidentally, this meeting took place in Wilbur McLean's parlor. The First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) was fought in July 1861 on McLean's farm.)

Booth, who would interrupt the president's night out at the theatre, would later be shot to death by Union troops down-abouts Port Royal five and a half years after watching Brown swing.

Well, I could go on making conspiracy theorist-like connections all day long, but I'll stop now. All that said, I'm looking forward to seeing Harpers Ferry and the leaves this weekend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Joe's friends

It seems Senator McCain has been spending way too much time around Governor Palin, he's now almost too painful to listen to.

I'd gotten used to hearing "My friends this" and "My friends that." I'd even learned to tune it out.

But if I hear about Joe the Plumber one more friggin' time my ear's are going to start bleeding. Do not simplify things Senator. You're insulting my intelligence and the intelligence of most of America.

It's going into the 11th round and Senator Obama is up on my score card. He hasn't said anything earth-shattering, but he's counter-punched well. Also, he hasn't annoyed me nearly as much as McCain.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

News Flash: I Was Wrong

Apparently, when I made this statement, "Now I'm thinking it could have been the Park Service because this is right next to the Lincoln Memorial, but c'mon folks, put down the pipe and get it right" in the post below earlier today I was, *gasp* apparently completely and totally wrong.

When I showed the pictures of the Yield signs to a friend and coworker who lives in Glover Park she said, "DC probably got them on the cheap...didn't want to pay extra for "district law" to be put on the sign! There's a few of those signs up in my neck of the woods too."

I too am saddened by this turn of events. Here I was, giving someone in the District's bureaucracy credit and all I was doing was setting myself up for the big fall. Never again.

To atone for my mistake, I will hunt these signs down and photograph them for your amusement.

So let it be written. So let it be done. (And for my next trick, I'll part the Potomac.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

My Lazy Daze

I felt very arty on Monday. With a little snark thrown in for good measure. In the spirit of the season, I vote for the snark first.

It was a beautiful day, and I'm definitely glad I took the opportunity for a ride downtown. I took the long way around by the Lincoln Memorial because they're still working on the GW between the 14th Street bridge and the Pentagon. If they'd hurry up and finish that work I'd be ever so grateful. 

But that little detour gave us the first picture of the day:

What's so special about this sign? Nothing really, until you zoom out a bit:

Yeah, that's the Washington Monument in the background. Seriously? It's a state law to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks? In the District? Who the hell put these signs up? Now I'm thinking it could have been the Park Service because this is right next to the Lincoln Memorial, but c'mon folks, put down the pipe and get it right. 

Anyway, just to illustrate how nice a day it was, I give you a nice shot of a bendy Washington Monument. I really like my new little digital, but it does have a habit of curving straight lines. Still, it was a great day for a ride.


On to the National Gallery. I started off with the old masters, but didn't take any pictures 'cause I didn't want the docent's to put a boot in my ass. I headed over to the East Wing where they had a exhibition of some more modern art.  

A Jackson Pollock. I know I've said, "Hell, I could do that." 
Of course I could, but Pollock did it first and did it best. 
 
Sol Lewitt's "Objectivity." I kinda liked this piece. 
Colors, lines, depth, it has it all. 

This one I could have done. This is not art. This is spilling a gallon of 
beige paint on a canvas. I didn't bother getting the artist's name.

Jasper Johns' "Dancers on a Plane." This is pretty cool. 
Especially up close. Really close. (Also not the bent frame, not the fault 
of the Gallery, my camera again. Doh!)

Gerhard Richter's "Abstract Painting 780-1." I liked this 
one too. It would look great in my living room. 

Elizabeth Murray's "Careless Love." Infer what you want. 
I know what I think it looks like. 

This is a view of Sol Lewitt's "Wall Drawing #65. Lines not short, not straight, crossing and touching, drawn at random using four colors, uniformly dispersed with maximum density, covering the entire surface of the wall." Yeah, that's the whole title. It's a pretty cool piece covering a wall about 20 feet tall by 30 feet long. Here's a close-up:

The picture below is one of the last ones I took. The light was dim, making the image very soft and when I cropped it a bit it kind of reminded me of an Edward Hopper. A solitary person who's identity is unknown. The figure, colors and white walls just kinda work. 

Well, that's the end of my day off. It's back to work today, but as Thomas Crown said "I just like my haystacks." 

Not so manic

A lot of people I know like having Fridays off. Not me. 

Given a choice I'll take a free Monday every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Especially on Sunday.

If you get a Friday off, you still have to work Monday through Thursday. But, if you're off on Monday, Friday's a whole day closer. Makes the whole week that much more tolerable. 

Of course, as I look back over the past month, because of the places I've gone and the weddings I've attended, I've only worked a full week once in the past five. How cool is that. 

Anyway, since I'm off today I think I'm going to take a little bike ride down to the Mall and maybe walk around the National Gallery. The image above is by Sol LeWitt. Don't know who he is, but I'm headed out to get some art. 

See ya.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Journey of discovery

I got into a discussion yesterday with Nora, who blogs at extra! extra! from Dublin, Ireland. She has a very interesting point of view on happenings in the U.S., especially when it comes to the looming election. As a former reporter I'm always intrigued by opinions from folks who see the same things I do, but see them differently. It's a big part of the job, in fact.

Our discussion, and my subsequent journey of discovery, dealt with this article from Alternet about a recent change the Army made in its assignment of a unit, the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division. The 1st BCT is stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., near Savannah.

The Alternet article is interesting, along with being totally misleading from the get go with the headline "Thousands of Troops Are Deployed on U.S. Streets Ready to Carry Out 'Crowd Control.'"

First of all, not a single soldier from the 1st BCT has been deployed on an American street. How do I know this you ask? Well, as I said on here before I used to make my living as a reporter. More specifically, I covered the military: Fort Hood, Texas, (Army) and Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Marines), so I feel I've got a certain understanding of how these things work. I'm also pretty confident that the former me analog (Pamela E. Walck, the Savannah Morning News reporter who covers all things Fort Stewart) would have written an article about the deployment of a brigade combat team.

She hasn't, I checked.

I knew exactly where every major unit at Hood and Lejeune were on a daily basis, and if any of them changed I got busy taking notes and writing the story.

"How did you know when soldiers were going places Foggy?" Well, the answer to that is very simple: Soldiers like to bitch, and reporters like to listen. The Army also likes their soldiers to be married (don't ask me why, but that's a topic for another post), and wives (they are mainly wives) hate it when their soldiers get sent places. When this happens the wives tended to call the paper and bitch about how lonely they are and how mean the Army is for sending their husbands far, far away to, like, California (this was back in the days before consecutive Iraq and Afghanistan tours).

Also, it takes a hell of a lot of effort to move a brigade of troops. Days and days of ass-kicking hard work loading tanks, Brads and Hummers onto rail cars, which then leave the post and are easily visible.

Finally, the Alternet article references this article from Democracy Now. This slightly-less-alarmist article about "Sea Smurfs" (one of the best verbalizations of an acronym I've ever heard) references yet another article from Army Times by Gina Cavallaro.

Ahhh, now we're getting somewhere. I knew Gina professionally in my former life and she is one of the best military reporters I've ever met. She is a reporter who really cares about the soldiers she covers. Check out this article for evidence of that statement. I cried when I read it.

Cavallaro's "Brigade Homeland Tours Start Oct. 1" spells out what the 1st BCT is going to be doing while it is assigned to the Northern Command. It will serve as "an on-call federal response force for natural or man made emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks."

"They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack" Cavallaro goes on a little further down.

It'd be a stretch to define the word "emergency" as "we don't like how you voted, so we're going to call out the Army" don'cha think?

Amazingly, this little article has led to an explosion of conspiracy theories raging across the 'net and blogosphere about how the president is going to suspend posse comitatus and we're all going to be living under the iron thumb of a repressive christian republican government led by George W. Bush forever. OK, maybe not that raging, but close. Bush did issue a signing statement earlier this year saying he doesn't agree with Congress taking away some of the powers it gave the president in 2006 that would allow him to use troops domestically.

What I'm wondering is this: Do any any of these folks really understand what an Army Brigade is and, if they do, do they really think the Americans who make up that brigade would really trample their rights?

To answer the first question, a brigade combat team in the 3rd ID has about 3,000 to 3,500 soldiers, perhaps 40 or so M1A2 Abrams tanks, perhaps 80 to 90 M2A3 Bradley fighting vehicles, some artillery and various and sundry other units attached. Seems like a lot of power, and it is but, and here's the but, it's capabilities are severely limited. This well-armed and powerful force would be unable to secure Arlington County, the smallest county in the U.S. Let's not even talk about it being able to do anything to the District or NYC (which has a 25,000-officer police force, six to eight times larger larger than a BCT).

One of the comments from the Alternet expert "retired U.S. Air Force Colonel and patriot David Antoon" involve the brigade sending tanks into the District to fire at the Post's offices if the president didn't like what it wrote about him. Folks, this didn't work in Russia (remember Yeltsin climbing on the tank?) what makes them think it would work in D.C.

As to the second question, I've known and interviewed perhaps two dozen brigade and regimental commanders through the years and not a single one of them would obey an illegal order to "pacify" a group of Americans. They would, if the situation called for it such as after another terrorist attack or Hurricane Rita, go into an area to establish order and make sure the folks living there were safe. That's their job: to protect Americans.

As a member, observer and student of our military for more than 20 years, I'm pretty confident nothing would horrify and repulse the leaders and soldiers who've sworn to uphold the Constitution, not a political party, than an order to march against their fellow citizens.

And, if I'm wrong about this, well, the people screaming about the possibility will learn why the Founders made sure to include the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights. (Hint, it's to protect We The People from the government.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yes! I'm Rich!

I got this yesterday in my email. Totally stoked about the cashola coming my way and the fact the Secretary General of the United Nations cares enough to contact me personally. That was really nice of him.

It's about time the UN cracked down on those 419 scams and repaid the good, hardworking folks who, through no fault of their own, have fallen victim to these unscrupulous con men.

This is an exact copy of the email...minus a few details in the mailto links. The spacing, spelling and stylization are exactly the way they are in the email I received. Now, just because I'm sharing this with you, that doesn't mean I trust you not to jump my claim and grab my BANKDRAFT Cheque by trying to pass yourself off as me. That's why the mailto links have been slightly modified.*

From: Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon donnaldsmith@collinsedwardchambers.com

Reply to: bankixxxmoon@yahoo.com.hk

ATTENTION:BENEFICIARY, How are you today? Hope all is well with you and family?, You maynot understand why this mail came to you.We have been having a meeting forthe passed 7 months which ended 2 days ago with the then secretary to theUNITED NATIONS. This email is to all the people that have been scammed inany part ofthe world, the UNITED NATIONS have agreed to compensate them with thesum of

((US$ 450,000 FOUR HUNDREND AND FIFTYTHOUSAND DOLLARS)) Thisincludes every foreign contractors that may have not received

their contract sum, and people that have had an unfinished transactionorinternational businesses that failed due to Government problems etc.Wefound your name in our list and that is why we are contacting you,thishave been agreed upon and have been signed.You are advised to contact MrJim Ovia of our paying center in Africa,as he is our representative inNigeria, contact him immediately for your Cheque/International Bank Draftof ((US$450,000 FOUR HUNDREND AND FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS)) This funds arein a Bank Draft for security purpose ok? so hewill send it to you and youcan clear it in any bank of your choice.

Therefore, you should send him your full Name and telephone numberyourcorrect mailing address where you want him to send the Draft to you.

Contact Mr. Jim Ovia immediately for yourCheque: Person to Contact: Mr Jim Ovia

Email: jimoviaxxx@yahoo.com.hk

YOU ARE ADVISED TO FURNISH HIM WITH THIS BELOW INFORMATION:

1. YOUR FULL NAME.

2. SHIPPING ADDRESS.

3. TELEPHONE NUMBER(CELL PHONE IF ANY)

4. AGE AND MARITAL STATUS.

5. OCCUPATION.

6. A COPY OF YOUR ID Thanks and God blessyou and your family.

Hoping to hear from you as soon as you cash your BankDraft.

Making the world a better place. Regards,

Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

http://www.un.org/sg/

Well, I'm off to send my personal information to the UN's paying center in Nigeria. The first round's on me once I get my BANKDRAFT.**

*They've also been modified just in case some stupid motherfucker reads this, doesn't get the joke and tries to claim the money. You can never predict the ability of stupid people in large numbers to do dumb things...and then sue me for their own lack of brains.

**Seriously, I will buy a round for everyone once I get my money from the UN's Nigerian paying center. Would I lie?

Hey, buddy, line forms back here

I got caught up a little short yesterday while I as in the Ballston Teeter. I'd run in to grab some milk so my Cocoa Pebbles would have some company this morning, and ended up getting the milk and some strawberries that were on sale.

On the drive from my office to the store I'd become extraordinarily annoyed at...well, just about every action of my fellow men and the inability of the universe to bend them to my will.

The exceedingly long stop light outside my parking garage? Annoyed with it every day.
Pedestrians crossing against the lights? Get the hell back on the corner.
Drivers not letting pedestrians cross with the light? Morons.
The complete idiot I watched spend two minutes trying to get the cart to stay on the embankment in front of his car (and mine too, by the way) when he could have just walked it into the store in half the time? Well, I can't really publish what I thought of him. (Jackass.)

Anyway, after a quick swing through produce and dairy, I headed to the self-check out lanes and, to my astonishment, there was one open. So, with complete tunnel vision, I walked right up to it to do my shopping business. Sweet!

I was just about to swipe my VIC card when, from behind me, I heard a voice say, "Uh, sir, the line's back here." I turned to see four guys, all with nothing much more exciting than my strawberries and milk, staring at me like a barbarian Hun headed toward Rome.

Oppps. Yeah, my bad.

I usually do my shopping on weekends and stock up for the week so I have limited experience with the self-serve lanes at my local Teeter.

As I hung my head in shame and slunk to the end of the line (which grew by one as I was slinking), I was reminded of my previous grievances against humanity.

All were forgiven at that point...except the idiot with the shopping cart. In the spirit of the season, it's the wicker man for him.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Good Read

If you haven't cruised the Post today, I highly recommend this post from Anne Applebaum. If you live in the D.C.-area, and more specifically in the District itself, it is most definitely worth five or so minutes of your time.

Post-game Commentary

During the past two weekends I've attended two weddings, one in Colorado for a good friend from college and this past weekend in North Carolina for one of the best friends a guy could ever have.

After traveling hither and yon over the past two weeks, catching a cold from a co-worker and massive doses of OTC meds to take care of the cold the night before my buddy's wedding I can truthfully say my sleep patterns are well and truly wrecked. That'd be why I'm writing this at 1 a.m.

I don't expect to be attending too many more weddings until my friends who're already married start getting divorced and remarried, but that's a couple of years down the road.

But for those of you yet to walk the Green Mile to wedded bliss here's a few insights I've gained from the weddings I've attended:

1. Guys, we all know for the girls it's all about the dress. They literally spend months searching for that perfect dress so we'll go weak at the knees the first time we see them at the end of the aisle. Do them a favor and return the compliment: buying your own tux. Trust me, it's the best $500 or so you'll spend between age 25 and 35. The wedding coordinator's assistant this weekend looked at me and said, "You look good in that tux, like it was tailored to you." Ah, yeah, thanks, it was. Bonus, unlike the dress, a tux pays itself off with multiple wearings.

B. Rain on a picnic is one thing, rain on a wedding is a whole 'nother ball game. Do you really want to risk it? Two weeks ago we were all watching massive thunder heads rolling across the mountains of western Colorado wondering "Is it? Or isn't it?" Turns out it didn't, and the backdrop was glorious, but I'm guessing my friend, the bride, had an anxious moment or two. Or 50.

III. If you ignore the advice above and go ahead with an outdoor wedding, during the summer in a downtown area please, please, please check the performing arts schedule for a 1-mile radius. You never know when someone is going to start a rock concert four blocks away. True story, it happened during a wedding I was in two years ago in Raleigh. The bridal party could barely hear the preacher, let alone the guests.

Lastly, and this is the one that's going to get me in trouble with some folks (sorry buddy), I like kids. I love the little buggers in fact. Unfortunately, they really have no place in a wedding. Not as guests under the age of 10, and definitely not as part of the ceremony. Weddings are grown up time. Resist the pressure from your brothers and sisters to include your nieces and nephews because "They'd be so darn cute in a little tux or dress." Kids are just too unpredictable. Two weeks ago I watched the groom's 5-year-old son spend the ceremony trying to find out what the aspen leaves on the ground tasted like, and spent the latter part of the reception dodging karate blows from the bride's 10-year-old nephew. My advice: If people insist on bringing their kids hire a baby sitter to watch them all, buy some Disney dvds for them to watch and stuff them full of pizza, candy and soda.

Two more things I just thought of: Have the bachelor/bachelorette party a minimum of three weeks before and do the rehearsal two days before. Trust me on that last one, you'll be glad for the extra day.

Well, that's my take as this wedding season draws to a close. Are there any other wedding rules the commentariat has I've missed? Or am I totally off base? Let's throw 'em out there and see what sticks to the wall.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Toasted

This weekend I'm going to be the best man at my best friend's wedding. After looking up the best man's responsibilities I'm pretty sure I've got them all nailed.

The bachelor party was three weeks ago in Vegas, so the antibiotics have run their course. All the groomsmen own their own tuxes, so I don't have to worry about that. (The groom, ironically, is the only one renting.) The wedding coordinator has the rings, which I will take possession of when I get to North Carolina.

Done and done.

[Should any of you reading this be going to the same wedding I am this weekend, stop. NOW. Especially if you're the bride or groom. Seriously. I'm. Not. Kidding. You'll ruin it if you do.]

My biggest responsibility, is the best man's toast. I've written the toast out, but it never hurts to get a second (or third or infinite) opinion. So, in the spirit of my friends' wedded bliss, I present to you my wedding toast for comment:

About eight years ago Bert and I spent three days in our friends Dave and Cassie’s back yard building a picnic table and two benches as a wedding present for our friends. The amazing thing about this process was – during three days under the July sun in suburban D.C. – I don’t really recall talking to him that much.

We’d bought the wood, studied the plans, figured out what we needed to do and got to work. Anything beyond “Pass me the saw” or “How long is that suppose to be?” just wasn’t necessary. We’d been friends long enough by that point, almost 20 years, Bert and I really didn’t need to talk to communicate.

Although that picnic table wasn’t the first thing we’d built together, it was probably the first that looked like something someone would actually pay money for. There have been many projects since, as we worked together through the past decade in North Carolina, Texas, D.C. and again in North Carolina. Bert and I have built exactly what we wanted and had the pleasure of doing it ourselves.

There is one funny thing I noticed along the way: every time we tried to include another person over the years it just hasn’t worked out. To be truthful, the most help we ever got from a third person was the time we sent a certain individual to KFC to get us dinner, just to get him out of the shop.

But last summer, while Bert helped me build a lovely rip-off of a Pottery Barn double chaise lounge to fulfill a promise to a friend, there was someone else there. And this time we didn’t kick her out.

This time it just seemed to work.

Bert and I, and our friend Dave here, like to joke with each other about how long we’ve been friends. I did a little figuring and found if you count the years I’ve been friends with Bert and Dave, the years Dave’s been friends with Bert and me, and the years Bert’s been friends with me and Dave, well, added together that’s 150 years of friendship right there. True story.

I met them both in 1983 and we have been friends ever since. I was there on the KC-135 for the infamous “popping the parachute while still in the plane” incident. We were together when we graduated from high school, and later celebrated our 21st birthdays together. And Bert was there the day the two of us – ill-advisedly, I should add – decided to try roller blading. Through the brick courtyards at N.C. State. On a personal note, I’d like to point out that helmets and elbow, wrist and knee pads do nothing to protect you if you fall and land on your butt. Three times.

A few years later, it was Bert who probably had the biggest influence on my choice of Chapel Hill when it came time for me to choose a college. And for this I will forever be thankful to him for his guidance. Well, for that and for teaching me to weld, which was pretty cool of him.

Then last year, right around the time we brought a tape measure into Pottery Barn to, you know, make sure their double chaise would fit on the patio, Bert was busy building something even more important and impressive, his relationship with Stephanie.

And now the mushy part.

Stephanie and Bert’s love is stronger than any I’ve seen built in the past. Like all love affairs this one started small, but it has since grown in depth and breath to encompass two lives until they’ve now become one.

It’s been my greatest pleasure to watch Stephanie and Bert forge these bonds that brought us here today to witness this joyful event as they joined their two lives into one.

And now, I would ask you to join me in raising a glass to toast the bride and groom with an old Irish wedding blessing. Stephanie and Bert:

May God be with you and bless you.

May you see your children's children.
May you be poor in misfortunes and rich in blessings.
May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

There you have it. All comments accepted, they just may not be acted upon.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Somebody's going to emergency...

Ever since my mom got me hooked on the show I've been a fan of ER. Can't explain it, I just am. While it's had a down year or two, the show's been on for 14 years and is now entering it's 15th and final season.

Last night I finally got around to watching this season's premier, which started off with a bang (an ambulance exploded killing a mob snitch or some such). In the process it also injured two main characters: Drs. Abby Lockhart (187 episodes) and Greg Pratt (135 episodes). One of them ended the show as an organ donor, thus bringing me halfway to my point.

There have been 310 episodes of er, throughout which countless people have died. Bound to happen, it is a show about life in a big-city emergency room. During these 310 episodes, 728 actors have walked the halls of County General, with 110 of them showing up in at least 10 episodes. Of these, 40* have portrayed doctors, with six - like Mekhi Phifer's Dr. Pratt - being killed off by the fickle pens of the show's writers.

Those six deaths are:
  • Dr. Pratt
  • Dr. Michael Gallant (Sharif Atkins) in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq
  • Dr. Mark Green (Anthony Edwards) brain cancer, after refusing treatment and heading to Hawaii to expire on the beach
  • Dr. Robert Romano (Paul McCrane**) had a helicopter fall on him...after having a helicopter chop off his arm the previous season
  • Lucy Knight* (Kellie Martin) a med student, stabbed to death by a knife wielding psycho (the psycho was played by David Krumholtz who is now playing mathematician Charlie Epps on Numb3rs)
  • Dr. Dennis Gant (Omar Epps) who jumped in front of an El train prior to what he believed was going to be a bad performance review (it was, apparently a WitSec thing since he's now Dr. Eric Foreman, a neurologist at Princeton Plainsboro Hospital working for Dr. Greg House)
Ahh, now we get to the point: Being a black doctor at County General, it seems, is an extremely dangerous occupation. All told, during the past 15 years, there have been six black doctors in er's ER. Three of them have died, quite violently I should add.

If you're a black man and a doctor at County, it's even worse: you've got a 75 percent chance of dying before you're old enough to collect retirement. Of the four black male doctors on the show, only Dr. Peter Benton (Eric La Salle) survived to tell stories of his time in Chicago.
So, even though it's heading into its last season, if you're a black actor looking for work, I'd advise you to stay far, far away from County General's ER. If you do, keep your head on a swivel and watch your back if you want to make it to the wrap party.

*Lucy Knight was a medical student, not a doctor, but was included in the total. There have been 39 actors playing doctors in 10 or more episodes of er.

**According to Wikipedia: "McCrane has been known to take roles where his characters experience horrible pain and injury or violent death:
  • Emil Antonowsky in RoboCop was horribly disfigured by toxic waste before being run over by a car
  • In the 1988 remake of The Blob, his character (Deputy Briggs) is dissolved by the infamous creature
  • The aforementioned Dr. Robert Romano
  • Leonard Betts from The X-Files was decapitated in an ambulance crash, only to regrow his head and soon get blown up in a car later in the episode. He was finally killed by Agent Scully when she shocked him on his head by a defibrillator
  • In the 5th episode of 24 Day 6, after his character is reunited with his brother (federal agent Jack Bauer), Jack suddenly punches him, binds his hands, and proceeds to place a plastic bag over his head. After Jack interrogates him by torturing him with a neurological inflammatory, he confesses to being behind the deaths of David Palmer, Tony Almeda, and Michelle Dessler and admits that this wasn't the first time he tried to kill Jack. The episode ends with their father secretly injecting a fatal air embolism into McCrane's character.