Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christmas walk

Here's the situation: You're done with Christmas dinner at your brothers but, because his nights end a bit earlier than yours do due to his kids (who were adorable, I should add), what do you do? Going out drinking on Christmas night could be interesting, but that just seems a bit ... not right.

Wait a minute, you've been taking pictures of your family all night, so you've got the camera in the car. And you know, I bet the usual nighttime crowds at the monuments will be pretty light on Christmas night.

So I went for a walk around the Lincoln end of the Mall. Which wasn't quite as deserted as I thought it would be, but it wasn't too, too bad. (All the pictures are clickable for a bigger version.)

First up, a look back across the Potomac toward Rosslyn. It looks pretty good at night.

The traditional view down the Mall. I shot a bunch more from the Lincoln but, apparently, I'll be seeing an optometrist come 2012. They were a touch out of focus. Of course it was dark...

There's a lot of different light going on inside the Lincoln Memorial. It took me a couple of tries to get it, well, if not right, than OK.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was very peaceful and quiet. The only thing missing was snow in the air.

I noticed this reflection while I had the memorial all to myself. Probably the first time I've ever had that happen.
Merry Christmas...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy 236th Birthday!!

Two hundred and thirty-sixy years ago, on Nov. 10, 1775, at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia, Capt. Samuel Nichols, the first commandant of the Marine Corps, began recruiting the first two battalions of Continental Marines.

For those of us who've claimed the title of United States Marine, it's a special day. A day we reach out to our brothers and sisters we've served with, remember the years we spent together, how we were young once and say a little prayer for today's Marines - in whatever clime and place they may be.

One special tradition on the Marine Corps Birthday is the reading of General John A. Lejeune's 1921 birthday message. Even after 90 years it - especially the last paragraph - says exactly what it means to be a Marine.
Today is particularly special for me because not only was I a Marine, but so were both of my brothers. So, if you will excuse me, I've got a couple of phone calls to make.

Semper Fidelis.

Monday, November 7, 2011

So, it's been a while...

I was a little taken aback when I looked at the date of the last post. It's been more than a month and half since I last posted and, well, I feel a bit bad about that. But not so bad that I'm going to beg forgiveness.

There are still many things I want to write about - elections anyone? - and just like a fine writer in my neighborhood, I'm just going to have to make the time.

How's this for a topic: Social media has made us less social. I say this not in the way everyone thinks - that Facebook and Twitter and such allow people to cut themselves off from actual human interaction - but in that it forces us to restrain ourselves and our opinions.

I succumbed to Facebook's Siren song a little more than a month ago, probably right about the time I should have been updating The Foggy Dew. I've reached out and reconnected with people I haven't seen or heard from in years and, truthfully, I got some friend requests I had to think long and hard about. What is the social media definition of a "friend"? Does this person sending me a "friend" request really count as a friend anymore? Why hasn't that person responded to my "friend" request? Oh, God, Why!

Except for a very small number of people I work with - who I actually count as real-world friends - I haven't sent, and received only one (from my boss, which I ignored) "friend" request from co-workers.Strangely, I do have two "friends" I've never actually met, but with whom I've corresponded electronically over the past year or so (both of you read this, so you know who you are). I find this almost old fashion. Long ago people would correspond with people they didn't know through these things called "letters" which they sent through the "mail." I'm speaking of people like Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. They had correspondence with a wide array of people, shared their thoughts, ideas and dreams, and built a network of friends that spanned the Atlantic.

The hard one's to decide about are the college and high school friends. Except for the two guys I count as my best friends, I've not accepted any of the three friend requests from people I knew in high school. If I'd wanted to stay in touch, I'da done it before now. College friends? Do I need to be Facebook friends with the girl who broke my heart, but who I (now) have nothing but fond memories about? (FYI, I did.) Also, my how some of them have changed.

The world of social media is a minefield my friends. A single misstep can have lasting consequences. I've seen it, you've seen it. A misconstrued comment or status update can cause drama that continues long after the real-world friendship gasps its last.

[On a completely unrelated note, I just realized the clock in my office was still on Daylight Savings Time and lunch is still an hour a way. Doh!]

To avoid those kinds of situations, I've adopted the "Primum non nocere" Facebook doctrine. First, do no harm. I will do my best to avoid mean snark (as opposed to the funny kind), ridicule and passive aggression in any status update or comment. The effort involved in being nasty is just not worth the calories burned. But, also, because I know that many of my posts are only important to me and someone, somewhere is annoyed to see them pop up in their feed. Yeah, sorry 'bout that.

Finally, for those of you who like irony, did you see the videos I posted on Facebook last night? If not, here's a link to my Flickr page where they're posted. My first attempts at time-lapse photography. Sorry for the jerkiness. They'll get better.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm proud to claim the title...

…of United States Marine.

Sgt. Dakota Meyer, somehow just saying Semper Fi doesn’t seem like enough. How do you say thank you to a man credited with saving three dozen fellow soldiers (13 Americans and 23 Afghans)?

That there is the picture of a hard, hard man.

For those of you not familiar with Sergeant Meyer's story, he received the Medal of Honor from President Obama today, becoming the first living Marine to be so honored in almost four decades. He got it for willingly running back into a withering enemy fire not just once, not twice, but five times to rescue his fellow warriors during a battle in Afghanistan on Sept. 8, 2009. The last time he went back, he went to recover the bodies of three Marines and a Navy Corpsman who’d been killed in the ambush.

That is what being a Marine is.

If you want to read more about Sergeant Meyer,
go here.

With a humility that's difficult for any Marine to summon, but is easy today, "Thank you."

Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By The United States Marines.

– Marines’ Hymn, Third Verse

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Memorial at night

Living as close as I used to to the Pentagon, I thought it was strange I'd never been to the 9/11 Memorial. I'd ridden past it countless times, but I'd never stopped to take it in. So Friday night I changed that.

It's pretty moving.

One hundred and eighty-four benches and reflecting pools dedicated to the men, women and children who died there. It's an amazingly peaceful place considering what happened.

The memorial is filled with symbols representing those lives. The wall surrounding it begins at 3 inches eventually rising to a height of 71 inches, the ages of the youngest and oldest people to die: Dana Falkenberg, 3, and John Yamnicky, Sr., 71. The benches are arranged so if you're reading the name of someone who was aboard Flight 77 you look up into the sky, and if they were in the Pentagon, you look at the building's south facade.

As I said, it is a powerful place. Here, let me show you.

As you walk in, the first bench you come to is dedicated to Dana Falkenberg, age 3, who was aboard Flight 77. Because they're arranged by age, Dana's bench sits by itself.

As you move deeper into the memorial, the benches become more numerous.

As the 10th anniversary approached, many had small tokens placed on them.

One thing about the memorial, the 184 reflecting pools - combined with the week of rain beforehand - made for some condensation on my lens. I kept clearing it off but, in the case of this picture, it made for an interesting effect. I particularly like this shot.

Another example of the moisture on my lens working with the light to create an otherworldly effect.
Looking back across the memorial toward Pentagon City.

This one took me a couple of tries to get right. Trying to focus on something a good quarter-mile away, in the dark, isn't the easiest thing in the world.

For some more pictures, check out my Flickr page. The link's at the right.

It's been a week of remembrance in D.C., New York, across the country and around the world. I was in Texas getting ready to go to work covering the Army on one of the biggest bases in the country. Little did I know how interesting, exciting and, yes, tragic that job would become.

How do you remember that day 10 years ago?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ummmm, salty

According to Time: "Today Ben & Jerry's announced their newest ice cream flavor—which might not immediately sound appealing. Schweddy Balls, an homage to Saturday Night Live, is vanilla ice cream with a hint of rum and a huge scoop of cheekiness."

Yep, Schweddy Balls...balls of malt and rum covered in fudge.

I can't say it any better than the folks at Time already have.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Definitely not like tears in the rain…

As anyone who’s ever read this little corner of the interwebs knows, I’m a sucker for just about anything that has to do with human spaceflight. The video below comes to us courtesy of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and shows some interesting pictures of the moon’s surface. Specifically three of the Apollo landing sites – take that moon landing conspiracy theorists!

According to NASA’s website, LRO carries
six instruments, one of them being the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. This camera, “…[R]etrieves high resolution black and white images of the lunar surface, capturing images of the lunar poles with resolutions down to 1 meter, and imaging the lunar surface in color and ultraviolet. These images provide knowledge of polar illumination conditions, identify potential resources & hazards, and enable safe landing site selection.”

Just another way of saying some pretty cool pictures.
Like this one, of the sunrise over Tycho.

With that thought in mind, let’s go to the video. These shots are of the
Apollo 12, Ocean of Storms (one of my favorite place names on the moon), Apollo 14, Fra Mauro, and Apollo 17, Taurus-Littrow, landing sites.

For a non-chopped off version of the video, go here.

I know why it is, no wind or weather, but isn’t it amazing that 42-plus years on you can still see the tracks the astronauts left in the regolith?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stuck the landing…finally

Back in March I set goal, a goal I came tantalizingly close to during both June and July only to watch it slip through my fingers like quicksilver. Failure almost reared its head again in August, but I knuckled down and last night, somewhere across from Terminal B at National on the Potomac Trail, the trip odometer on my handlebars rolled to 25.00 miles.

Doesn’t seem like much, but the 25th mile of the ride was my 200th in August (ftr – the ride ended up being 27.25 miles). When I set the goal, I had no idea how hard 200 miles in a month would be. Actually, looking at my ride-tracking app stats, there was a period between mid-June and mid-August where I’d done 400 miles in 60 days, but it wasn’t quite the same.

It was like the Tiger-slam of goal fulfillment.

But August was different…and a bit the same. I kicked ass the first half of the month riding a total of 136 miles on the 4th, 9th, 11th, 13th and 16th. Then I took a week off because of weather, alcohol and just not giving a shit and had to get 64 miles in during the last eight days. For some 64 miles isn't a big deal. For me it's three medium rides or two long rides. Or one really, long ride and a couple of laps around Haynes Point.

I did it, but let me tell you it as a Herculean task making myself hit the road last night. Once I got out there I was fine, it was the gettin’ that was tough. You wouldn’t think it’s hard to ride eight times in 31 days, but it is. I think my biggest stumbling block is that I most often ride alone. Most of the people I know who ride, ride a lot faster and longer than I do. When I ride with them it kicks my ass and I don't have fun. When I ride along I ride at my own pace (about 16-17 mph), but I get bored after about 90 minutes.

I don’t know if – OK, who am I kidding – I’m pretty sure I won’t be hitting the 200-mile barrier in September. What I think I’d like to do is get to 1,500 for the year (I’m at 973 right now), which I think is pretty doable averaging about 150 miles a month till the end of the year.

Who knows, now that it’s cooled down a bit, might be able to go even longer. Yeah, no.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Follow in my wake…

As I went to bed Saturday night/Sunday morning (about 1:30 a.m.) the rain from Irene was still coming down. Despite my concerns about losing power, it was my house’s Achilles heel – no power, no power to the sump pumps in my basement – there was one thought rolling through my head.

“Is this all there is?”

I’ve been through a hurricane or two (or 13). The names of some of the storms are familiar to anyone living in hurricane territory: Hugo, Fran, Floyd, Katrina and Rita. These are the big ones. Storms that made the news for days – or weeks or months or years – on end.

Anyway, in my experience Irene was a little storm. According to the news, the first hurricane to hit the U.S. in three years. Probably why the news went way nutso as it arrived. Could also be because Irene aimed herself at the most densely populated part of the country – more than 50 million people live in Irene’s path. And, except for the folks in North Carolina – go Tar Heels! (sorry, had to) – none of them have any idea what the hell to do when a hurricane comes knockin’.

The only experience they have with hurricane’s is what they’ve seen on the news, and that news always focuses on the destruction of the historic storms: Hugo, Andrew, Gloria, Ivan, Katrina. Sadly, they never seem to mention Rita, one of the five most powerful storms to ever hit the U.S.

So a little overreaction is expected. In fact, in my opinion, it’s not a bad thing. Better safe than sorry when there’s a sixth of the country’s population in the path of a tropical cyclone, I say.

Yeah, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, the Weather Channel, the WaPo and all the local channels went way over the top, but let me tell you the one thing that’s really annoying me and the whole point of this post.

I was reading through the reader comments on the WaPo and, it seems, the whole situation is the President’s fault. Be it the overreaction (true) or the lack of preparedness (false, never seen a storm better prepared for) or how it’s going to be used for political gain (like this has never happened) or how it caused an increase in the July jobless rate (what the fuck?).

How is it that we’ve become so divided as a country? I’m really tired of this crap. Democrats demonizing Republicans and Tea Partiers; Tea Partiers and the GOP blaming all the ills facing us today on the Democrats and the president. The problems we face today are a direct result of the base animosity among us.

I know this isn’t a blinding revelation.

One thing I learned from all the hurricanes I’ve lived through and covered (especially in Texas after Rita): Once the storm’s passed it doesn’t matter what color your skin is or what ticket you punch on election day, if you don’t work together it takes 10 times longer to clean up, rebuild and get back to the business of life.

We’re facing serious problems here in the United States today and if we don’t work together it’ll be a miracle to find the light at the end of the tunnel. People need to shut their mouths, roll up their sleeves and reach out a hand to their neighbor. Calling someone in another political party stupid or un-American or a traitor is exactly that – stupid and un-American.

I don’t know how we can sway people to this point of view, I think the hatred is too deep-seated. But I think if those of us of good intentions try, we can maybe drown out the chatter.

“The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it” – P.J. O’Rourke.

Note: I started this blog back in the closing days of the last presidential election – relatively speaking – and there was lots and lots to write about. I’ve been remiss of late and not posted anywhere near as much as I want. More times than I can count in the last couple of months I’ve said, “That’ll make a great post,” and done nothing about it. Hell, it took a hurricane for me to write something. I’m thinking that with the election getting into full swing – god help up, the election is 14 months away – I won’t be lacking in subject matter.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Things that make you go WTF?!?!?...

As I was driving home from work yesterday along the tree-lined streets of my hood, this car in front of me caught my eye.

While a Prius is not by any means a terribly unusual sight in Alexandria - Hell, there's three or four on my block alone - this one was different. Oh so very, very different.

What? You can't see it in this picture? Let me blow it up for you...(it's clickable if you want a really good view)

Do you see what I see? Yeah, that's a Prius with a Palin bumper sticker. Isn't that like matter and anti-matter? Good and evil? Intelligence and American Idol? Chocolate and peanut butter? (Oh, wait, strike that last one, I got carried away).

Shouldn't this combination cause some kind of massive conflagration as one obliterates the other? A microscopic supernova (femtonova??) in Del Ray?

Seriously? As crunchy as owning a hybrid is, and as smug and pretentious as their owners can be (some, not all), it's still a good choice for a car when it comes to lowering the carbon footprint. But then you go and ruin all that good karma by supporting a deluded, vacuous demagogue like Sarah Palin?

I weep for the future.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Look! Up in the sky...

Hope everyone's recovering from America's big birthday party yesterday. Two hundred and thirty-five years old and we barely look a day over 200. Especially when you look at some of the roads around here.


Anyway, instead of battling the traffic or the barbarian hoards on Metro yesterday, I decided to risk Mother Nature's fickle mood and ride my bike downtown for the firework on the Mall. Although I didn't go to the Mall, I'm sure it would have worked just as well. All told, about an hour of commuting (30 minutes up and 30 or so back).

Except for the idiots around Gravely Point who thought it was a great idea to let their little kids play on the path, it was relatively painless. I'm thinking the bike is the way to go for all things outdoors, in the evenings in D.C. (basically, Screen on the Green or jazz in the sculpture garden).

And, for the moment you've all been waiting for, the pictures. Unlike previous years when I shot from the Mall, this year I went to the other side of the display and made my pictures from the Virginia side of the Potomac down by the Lincoln Memorial. I have to say, the crowds were a lot less and you're a lot, a lot, closer to the fireworks. You can feel them explode and don't have to worry about the sweaty stranger next to you getting in your space. For those who are wondering about the technical aspects of the pictures, they were all shot at 100 ISO equivalent, an f/8 apeture and, generally speaking, 1.6 second shutter speed.


This picture shows one of the main reasons I decided to forgo the Mall - you get very few reflections off a mass of sweaty humanity.

I really, really liked these ground-bursting shells. Very cool effect.

More ground-bursts.

And, finally, I got a whole bunch of shots where this guy in the kayak slowly drifted through the frame. I kinda like it.

If you want more from the fireworks display, they're posted on my Flickr page.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Mobeus Family Tree

I found this poem in a clan newsletter. If I might make a suggestion, it sounds best if you hear it in your head spoken in an Irish accent.

I am my own grandpa!

Many, many years ago when I was twenty-three,
I got married to a widow who was pretty as could be.
This widow had a grown-up daughter who had hair of red.
My father fell in love with her, and soon the two were wed.
This made my dad my son-in-law and changed my very life.
My daughter was my mother, for she was my father's wife.
To complicate the matters worse, although it brought me joy,
I soon became the father of a bouncing baby boy.
My little baby then became a brother-in-law to dad and so became my Uncle,
Though it made me very sad.
For if he was my uncle, then that also made him brother
To the widow's grown-up daughter who, of course, was my step-mother.
Father's wife then had a son, who kept them on the run.
And he became my grandson, for he was my daughter's son.
My wife is now my mother's mother and it makes me blue.
Because, although she is my wife, she's my grandmother too.
If my wife is my grandmother, then I am her grandchild.
And every time I think of it, it simply drives me wild.
For now I have become the strangest case you ever saw.
As the husband of my grandmother, I am my own grandpa.

As I'm off tomorrow, stretching a long weekend even longer, I'd like to wish y'all a Happy 235th Birthday. Enjoy the burgers and brats and a Happy Fourth of July to everyone!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oh, there's just one other thing...

Do you hear that, Fezzik? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound when the six-fingered man killed my father. The Man in Black makes it now.
- Inigo Montoya

As anyone who’s ever wandered by here knows I’m a total sucker for a good Princess Bride quote or reference. And while I’m not making the sound of ultimate suffering, there’s a bit of … melancholy to this post.

Peter Fault, known best as “Grandpa” in the Princess Bride to anyone born after, oh, 1975, and before that as Lt. Columbo,
died today at age 83.

Grandpa in the Princess Bride seemed like the kind of grandfather we all might want. He’d come to visit us when we were sick and bring us presents we didn’t know we want.

The Grandson: A book?

Grandpa: That's right. When I was your age, television was called books. And this is a special book. It was the book my father used to read to me when I was sick, and I used to read it to your father. And today I'm gonna read it to you.

The Grandson: Has it got any sports in it?

Grandpa: Are you kidding? Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles...

The Grandson: Doesn't sound too bad. I'll try to stay awake.

Grandpa: Oh, well, thank you very much, very nice of you. Your vote of confidence is overwhelming.

I think I know what may be on my playlist sometime this weekend…

The Grandson: Grandpa, maybe you could come over and read it again to me tomorrow.

Grandpa: As you wish.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Things that make you go "Hmmm"

I was headed downtown on Saturday evening to enjoy the High Life with some friends at 18th Amendment. Since the city has become somewhat (OK, totally) Draconian in its parking regulations and enforcement duirng the past year, I chose Metro. (Seriously, who enforces parking meters until 10 p.m. on a Saturday? Yeah, D.C., that's who.)

It seems Metro must have recently gotten some of those new Matter Displacement Trains allowing them to speed up their operations by having two trains on the platform at the same time. I can only assume this because this is what the info board read at Braddock Road...

As they say on Mythbusters, "Well, there's your problem..."

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lost and found

Some good news here. Someone found my lost saddle bag and phone on Sunday and, apparently, I must have lost it a lot earlier in my ride than I thought.

You see, I know this because whoever found my phone began trying to find me at 9:38 a.m. when they made their first call. They obviously didn’t find me since a) I didn’t have my phone, b) I was riding until almost noon and c) most important, I actually wasn’t in El Salvador where they were tyring to reach me. I was in Bethesda. An easy mistake, people make it all the time.

I understand this confusion. You find something that obviously fell off a bike, c’mon, the spare inner tube, multi-tool and inflator are a dead giveaway, but the phone, the phone could throw anyone for a loop. “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” And in the confusion it’s totally understandable someone could confuse Alexandria and El Salvador - they both have an "L" as the second letter, and "A" near the middle and a "D" near the end. (There was also $30 in emergency Gatorade/Snickers cash in there, but I consider this a finder’s fee for the effort to find me.)

And they tried hard to find me for the next five and a half hours until I was rude enough to brick the phone. So, to the person I inadvertently cut off in the middle of your valiant attempt to locate me and get my phone back to me, I apologize.

This Good Samaritan’s efforts to find me in El Salvador were revealed to me yesterday when my shiny new iPhone beeped with a text from AT&T telling me, “You have exceeded $200 in voice usage charges. Manage your account @ to find the plan that’s right for you and minimize a costly bill.”

Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply grateful for the effort someone went to find me. I don’t know if I’d have spent five and a half hours of my Sunday accidentally calling another country trying to find someone so I could return their 5-year-old Motorola Razr, but it’s the thought that counts. Right?

Now here are some words you’ve probably not heard before:

I <3 AT&T

Yes folks, it’s true. Not only did an actually human (a very nice lady whose name, sadly, I didn’t get) answer my call on the second ring, she spent the next 15 minutes chatting with me as I promised her this was all a misunderstanding and that while I was glad someone was trying to find me, I really wasn’t in El Salvador. She understood completely and within minutes the more than $200 in charges between 9:38 a.m. and 3:16 p.m. were removed from my bill.

I’ll say it again – I <3 AT&T! They rock and they’ve earned a customer for a very long time.

One final thought. To anyone who says this is a victimless crime, I call bullshit. There was a victim here, multiple victims in fact – AT&T and everyone else who pays higher fees because a corporation writes off these losses. Theft like this is no different than someone trying to steal from Wal-Mart or Target.

And it’s only because AT&T was kind and understanding enough to write off more than $200 in charges for services stolen from me, that I’m not digging myself out of a hole.

So, to AT&T, thank you very much.

And to the douchbag asshole who used my phone to steal from me: Fuck You!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Round and round...and round

Wheels keep on turning and turning and turning
and nothings disturbing the way they go around.
Wheels keep on turning and turning and turning
and nothings disturbing the way it goes around.
-The Wheel by Edie Brickell and New Bohemians

Who here doesn’t know there personal record for solo miles driven in a single day? Be it either a midnight-to-midnight period or a continuous 24-hour period. Hmmm? (And yes, I know the song lyrics above have nothing to do with driving, more the wheel of life, but we’ll get to that).

I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours…

My personal best came on a drive from Pittsburgh to Beaumont, Texas. As insane as I may seem sometimes, I knew I couldn’t make that in one hop. But I did make it in one really long hop and another that was considerably shorter. The first day, the record day if you will, started around 6 a.m. north of Pittsburgh and ended 17 hours later at 10 p.m. just south of Jackson, Miss.

“Wait, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. is only 16 hours, so you’re lying already!”

Under normal circumstances I might be stretching the truth a bit, but I'm not. In this case I had the benefit of crossing from the Eastern to Central time zone, thereby gaining an extra hour of driving time.

In the end, when I dragged my ass into a motel in Jackson, I looked at my trip odometer and it read “10.” As in 1,010 miles. I’d rolled it in a day.

You get past 900 and something in your head is like, “No way I’m not getting to a thousand.”

That’s kinda how I felt this past weekend. I had an odometer at 973 miles and there was no way the weekend was ending without hitting a thousand. About halfway down Ohio Drive SW, 27 miles into a 33 mile ride, and at a 17 or so mile per hour pace, the odometer on my bike rolled from 999.9 to 1,000.0.

It was a very moving moment for all involved. Cymbals crashed, fireworks exploded and the band played on.

Or that could have just been the sounds of traffic around me. I like my way better.

Overall, it took me a little more than a year to reach this mark. Truth be told, I probably hit a thousand miles sometime in May, but since I got my bike in April 2010, but didn’t get my computer until the end of May, there are some lost miles. Probably about 100.

Now I know, from a hardcore cyclist point of view, 1,000 miles in a 13 months is not a whole lot. My brother, who bought a new bike about a week before me last year, put 2,000 miles on it before 2010 turned to 2011. But 635 of those came during an eight-day ride from San Francisco to San Diego in October. Still, that kicks a lot of ass in my opinion.

But I’m pretty happy with my accomplishment and, while I don’t think I’ll roll to 2k this year, I’m pretty sure I’ll actually put at least a thousand on the bike before the year ends…unless I keep up my current pace which would see me rolling from 9s to 0s sometime in October.

We’ll see.

One sour note to my triumphal ride: If someone happens to find a small saddle bag with a spare innertube, tire spoons and inflator (not to mention a Motorola Razor) on the Capital Crescent trail between G-town and Bethesda, drop me a line, I’d like the tire-changing gear back. I already bricked the phone and replaced it with an iPhone, so that’s really all good. More on my new toy in the future.

And, finally, we’ll end this 1,000-mile post with some pictures of other people riding bikes. These are from last weekend’s Clarendon Cup. The race was 100k on a 1k circuit in Clarendon. These guys did 60 miles in about two hours twisting and turning their way through the streets of Arlington.

For more pics of the race, go to my
Flickr stream (or click the cool box to the right).

On your marks...get set...GO!

This is like, two laps in and these two guys already put some distance on the field.

Yes, I laid down on the street to get this picture.

I tried to crop this picture and the next two as close as possible to the same ratio since they all took place in about six-tenths of a second. Click...

If you want to take a 100-degree turn at 30 mph, this is how you and your friends have to do it.

This was a snap shot. I was sitting and enjoying a beer at the Wood Grill and I looked across the street and saw this, I assume, father and son. I yanked the camera out of the bag and let the motor drive run as the peloton sped by.
Imagine, if you will, being in a pack of cyclists going 30+ mph around a 100-degree turn. Allatonce. It might be enough to make you want to slam on

Stay on target.

Not a completely bad motto to live by.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A picture's worth...

Everyone ready for the crushing heat that's coming our way? The number I heard for today contained a 9 and a 3, and for tomorrow the 3 is replaced by a 7. Get ready to sweat D.C.

Changing topics, I came across a couple of pictures in the last day or so I feel like sharing.

First, this amazing view of Saturn taken by the Cassini space probe in September 2006:

Here's part of the description of the photo from NASA (for more, go here):

"This marvelous panoramic view was created by combining a total of 165 images taken by the Cassini wide-angle camera over nearly three hours on Sept. 15, 2006. The full mosaic consists of three rows of nine wide-angle camera footprints; only a portion of the full mosaic is shown here. Color in the view was created by digitally compositing ultraviolet, infrared and clear filter images and was then adjusted to resemble natural color.

"During this period of observation Cassini detected two new faint rings: one coincident with the shared orbit of the moons Janus and Epimetheus, and another coincident with Pallene's orbit."

Now, anyone who's wasted a moment or two reading The Foggy Dew in the past knows I'm an unashamed proponent of man's exploration of space. There is much to be learned on the other side of our atmosphere and I believe mankind's destiny is in space.

But there is another reason and (sadly) I'm going to use a bit of a quote from a TV show (From the Earth to the Moon) to express it properly. We need to continue into space for the same reason Apollo 15 commander Dave Scott chose (in the show) to land at Hadley rille, "Grandeur. And I believe there's something to be said for... exploring beautiful places... It's good for the spirit."

Who among us wouldn't want to watch in awe as Saturn eclipsed the sun?

OK, now onto the funny part. Got this picture from a coworker. Don't know if it's true or not, but I get the feeling it is.

See, the way I always heard the way to tell them apart was to kick them in the balls and then run and climb a tree. If the bear climbs the tree and eats you, it's a black bear. If it pushes the tree over and eats you, it's a grizzly.

Happy Tuesday. Try to stay cool.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Garden of Stone

I'm often amazed by what I find when I look at the world through the lens of my camera. I took a walk today, braving what was an exceedingly hot Memorial Day here in the D.C. area. All along I was wishing CamelBak made a camera bag so I might carry both my camera and a supply of cool water.

But that's not the point of this post. Opening your eyes is.

My walk took me to Arlington National Cemetery. I've been there before, often when it snowed and around Christmas, but I think this was the first time I went on Memorial Day.

Coming into the cemetery there are memorials to many of the U.S. military's units. In front of the memorial for the 101st Airborne Division, there were probably 20 or so floral arrangements, but this one caught my eye ...
.Maj. Richard Winters, who the world came to know through the book and mini-series Band of Brothers, died earlier this year on Jan. 2. He was 92 years old. In the mini-series, Winters quoted a fellow soldier, saying, "I cherish the memories of a question my grandson asked me the other day when he said, 'Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?' Grandpa said 'No… but I served in a company of heroes.' "

Indeed he did.

As I entered Arlington I bent around to the right. If you've never been to Arlington, the headstones are, for the most part, as uniform as anything you'll ever see. Aligned in staggered ranks, the Marines, soldiers, sailors, airmen and Coast Guardsmen are in formation as if they were awaiting inspection.

There are few things that make one of the stones stand out, but the pile of rocks atop the one below drew my attention. I saw it from behind and I wondered who it might be that would draw such attention. As soon as I read the name, it was easy to understand the respect he is paid ...

Medgar Evers served in the Army in France during World War II and was buried with full military honors after he was murdered, shot down in his driveway for believing that all men are indeed created equal.

My original intent was to try to get the quintessential Arlington picture - endless rows of white marble stones and fluttering flags. I don't think I quite succeeded, but that was mainly because I was in the more rolling part of the cemetery. This picture, however, came the closest ...

And, finally, the words on this balloon pretty much say it all ...

When I got home and got a closer look at this picture I saw that HMC John David Wilson was a Navy chief hospitalman serving with the Fleet Marine Force. He was a corpsman serving with the Marines. Navy corpsmen hold a special place in Marines' hearts because we know that no matter what, no matter how badly we're hit and how bad the enemy fire is, a corpsman will crawl through the very gates of Hell to pull a wounded Marine to safety.

Thanks to you and all your brothers and sisters for keeping us safe and free. Semper fi Chief.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I got my eye on you

Looks like we're going to have some decent weather here in the D.C. area for the Memorial Day weekend. It's been a long haul since our last three-day weekend (Presidents' Day) so I'd say this is some well deserved time off.

While you're out grilling and barbecuing and enjoying the start of summer with your friends, all I ask is that you take a moment to remember the reason for the season. For anyone who's a little foggy (hehehe) on the concept, Memorial Day is the day we here in the U.S. are supposed to honor our Marines, sailors, soldiers, airmen and Coast Guardsmen who've died in service to our country.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and, to kick it off I leave you with some humor and some trivia. Enjoy!

The 6th grade science teacher, Mrs. Parks, asked her class, "Which human body part increases to ten times its size when stimulated?"

No one answered until little Mary stood up and said, "You should not be asking sixth-graders a question like that! I'm going to tell my parents, and they will go and tell the principal, who will then fire you!"

Mrs. Parks ignored her and asked the question again, "Which body part increases to 10 times its size when stimulated?"

Little Mary's mouth fell open. Then she said to those around her, "Boy, is she going to get in big trouble!"

The teacher continued to ignore her and said to the class, “Anybody?"

Finally, Billy stood up, looked around nervously, and said, "The body part that increases 10 times its size when stimulated is the pupil of the eye."

Mrs. Parks said, "Very good, Billy," then turned to Mary and continued. "As for you, young lady, I have three things to say:

"One, you have a dirty mind."

"Two, you didn't read your homework."

"And three, one day you are going to be "very, very disappointed."

Yes, yes she will.

And now, some trivia questions:

Can anyone name for me the two sets of homophones in the English language that have no common letters?

And, finally, can you name for me the only word that goes from verb to noun by capitalizing one letter?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bravo Zulu*

For some reason, a song keeps running through my head this morning ...



America, FUCK YEAH!
Coming again, to save the mother fucking day yeah,
America, FUCK YEAH!
Freedom is the only way yeah,
Terrorist your game is through cause now you have to answer too,
America, FUCK YEAH!
So lick my butt, and suck on my balls,
America, FUCK YEAH!
What you going to do when we come for you now,
it’s the dream that we all share; it’s the hope for tomorrow


McDonalds, FUCK YEAH!
Wal-Mart, FUCK YEAH!
Baseball, FUCK YEAH!
Rock and roll, FUCK YEAH!
The Internet, FUCK YEAH!
Slavery, FUCK YEAH!


Starbucks, FUCK YEAH!
Disney world, FUCK YEAH!
Valium, FUCK YEAH!
Reeboks, FUCK YEAH!
Fake Tits, FUCK YEAH!
Taco Bell, FUCK YEAH!
Rodeos, FUCK YEAH!
Bed bath and beyond (Fuck yeah, Fuck yeah)

Liberty, FUCK YEAH!
White Slips, FUCK YEAH!
The Alamo, FUCK YEAH!
Band-aids, FUCK YEAH!
Las Vegas, FUCK YEAH!
Christmas, FUCK YEAH!
Immigrants, FUCK YEAH!
Popeye, FUCK YEAH!
Democrats, FUCK YEAH!
Republicans (republicans)
(fuck yeah, fuck yeah)

Here’s to the SeALs and the CIA and everyone else who made yesterday's events possible. Although, as a friend of mine who’s involved in the world of black ops just texted me, “Unfortunately, don’t think this makes a tactical difference.”

Sadly, he’s probably correct.

But, on the brighter side, we now have one less asshole to kill.

*Since it was reported the folks involved were Navy SeALs who did the take-down, I thought I'd go with the traditional naval congratulations this morning. "B" and "Z" were the signal flags hoisted by ships to signal "well done."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Lent may be over, but I’m giving something new up…

Hmmm, been a while since I’ve been around here. Suffice it to say, I’ve been a bit busy the past month or so. You know, the normal things: planning a 500th anniversary, a murder, a frame-up … oh, wait, I’ve already used that one. A couple of times. So sue me for being unoriginal. (Whoop! Whoop! Foreshadowing alert! Foreshadowing alert! Whoop! Whoop!)

OK, so, new house eats up a good chunk of time – it’s been a little more than half an hour (two months) and things are still getting arranged and rearranged. I’ve been riding my bike more – I set a goal of 200 miles in April. Didn’t reach it, but I did pretty well (almost 150). And then there’s work. Lots and lots of work.

So there’re my reasons for not being around here as much as I’d like. That doesn’t mean I don’t have things to say. Not by a long shot. For instance, I’ve decided to give up pizza. OK, not all pizza, just one type in particular.

Seriously, do you think I could give this up?

Pictures courtesy of Titania

This was my lovely dinner (the one with the piece missing is mine. I couldn’t wait for the picture, I’d had a long ride that day and was starving) last Sunday at Red Rocks in Columbia Heights. Give this up? All this meaty, saucy, cheesy goodness? Not a chance of that in this reality or any other you could imagine in the deepest, darkest recesses of your minds.

Special bonus pic: These were the appetizers, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus (near) and bruschetta drizzled with olive oil with sliced prosciutto and salami. Ummm, sliced meat.

What I am giving up is Papa John’s pizza (please try not to judge me). It’s nothing close to Red Rocks, but it’s generally serviceable and good when you’re in a pinch and want to order some delivery. Most of the time when I order a pizza it all comes down to whichever one of the big three has the best special. In the future, that line up will not include Papa John’s.

Why is this you ask? Well today – and probably in the past to tell you the truth – I got one of PJ’s emails telling me about its special for Thursday and Friday. This special celebrates the start of the NFL draft. And, while I’m not too pleased with the NFL – both owners and players – that’s now what’s causing my ire.

It was the subject line of the ad: “From the Official Pizza of the Washington R******s – Papa John’s!”

Yep, because PJ’s reminded me it’s the “Official Pizza of the Washington R******s” I shall not patronize it’s products in the future.

Chief among the reasons for this decision, no pun intended – OK, maybe a little pun – is the name. I have friends who have native American blood in their veins who are offended by the team’s name, so who am I to argue? It is an offensive name and anyone who denies this – I’m looking at you Mr. S####r* – is lying to themselves and the world.

The second reason is because the team, plain and simple, sucks. Inept play has become a hallmark of D.C.’s beloved R******s. This is a direct result of the poor management of the above named Mr. S####r. Team owners, like children, should be seen and not heard.

Finally, and this the big reason for boycott of PJ’s is this lawsuit: Daniel M. Snyder v. Creative Loafing Inc., CL Washington, Inc. (d/b/a Washington City Paper), and Dave McKenna

As a former journalist, I take a dim view of anyone who tries to silence a reporter or newspaper through the threat of legal action. In case you haven’t heard, Mr. S####r is suing The City Paper and columnist Dave McKenna for the article "The Cranky R******s Fan’s Guide to Dan S####r: From A to Z (for Zorn), an encyclopedia of the owner's many failings."


I read the article and, while I can understand why Mr. S####r might be a little annoyed by the it, it looked to me like McKenna sourced all of his allegations pretty well. The problem with suing someone for libel is that, generally speaking, the truth is an absolute defense. As I was taught in J-school, it doesn’t matter how much someone doesn't like something, as long as it’s true, you can’t sue. (In honor of the late Johnny Cochran.) Actually, you can sue, but you’ll never win.

Also, does Mr. S####r think he’s actually going to find 12 jurors in the District (where he moved his action) who actually like him to find in his favor? If they’re R******s fans, they’re going to hate him for his inept management. If they don’t like his allegedly “professional” sports franchise, well, you’re gonna get the same result: a verdict in favor of the defendants.

This is going to be fun to watch. Even without pizza.

* I’m just being safe here, so the “n” “y” “d” and “e” have been replaced to protect the innocent – namely me – from vicious and groundless lawsuits.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Grab your torches and pitchforks

Anyone up for a walk down to the Hill tomorrow night? I'm wondering if looking out their windows and seeing something like this:

might inspire our elected representatives to put aside their petty differences and actually do the People's business. Seriously, do you think we'd get our point across if we surrounded Capitol Hill with people carrying torches and pitchforks? And just stared.

Really hard.

The people we need to get through to are the ones in the middle - no matter how small it is these days. There should be just enough of them to balance out the idiots on the fringes of the left and right to actually get together and actually Pass. The fucking. Budget!

This situation is ridiculous. We are the laughingstock of the world right now. A hard look does need to be taken at the entire budget, but not this one - this year is already shot, just pay the fucking bills and move on. And probably not the next one either - not enough time left to get that done. Now the 2013 budget that's a whole 'nother question. It needs to be looked at now. All of it: Defense, entitlements, social programs, pork. Especially the pork. Get out the knives and start cutting. When we - as a country - owe the world more than $14 trillion we can't even think about a tax cut. I don't care if you believe with all your heart that it will stimulate business. As my dad reminded me and my brothers growing up when we asked for something expensive "We can't afford it."

The 535 "representatives of the People" need to pull their heads out and remember that while they represent the 500k or so people in their individual districts, they work for all of us. And all of us are a bit pissed right now.

And they can be replaced. All of them. And they probably should be.

Here endeth the rant.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Big Moon Rising

Saturday night I and just about – it seemed – every other person in the D.C. area with anything from an iPhone to a cost-more-than-your-house camera decided to head to the hill by the Netherland’s Carillion. Why is this, you ask?

Well, turns out, for the photographically inclined, this little hill has one of the best views of D.C. Either straight down the Mall – from the Marine Corps War Memorial a short walk away – or slightly offset to the right from the Carillion. The view from the Carillion also doesn’t have all the trees and road signs you get from the MCWM.

Anyway, the reason we were all out there (my estimate is more than 500 shooters) is because of the risin’ of the Super Moon. The big bad moon was at perigee and, as it turns out, was at its closest point of approach in about 18 years (according to NASA).

It made for a pretty good picture. For example:

And this:

And these too:

I hung around a little longer than most people but, as I found out, the higher the moon got, the brighter it got, but the darker the sky got. This led to longer and longer exposures to get the monuments lit correctly, but it also eliminated the possibility of getting any features on the moon. Just as well, the higher it got, the smaller it looked. Kinda like Alice.

If you were out there I hope your shots turned out just as nice. If not, well, the moon is at perigee every month so better luck next time (although it won’t be as close for a while).

*Technical stuff - All of these were shot at an ISO (film speed) equivalent of 100. The first two are 5-second exposures at f/14; the next is a 2-second exposure at f/9; and the last is 4 seconds at f/7.1. Just in case you were wondering.