Month: December 2010

Sol Invictus 2010 Post

Sol Invictus == Saturnalia == Christmas, you get the idea here. Many names:

Here’s the log so far:

Day 1: 12/23/2010

The holiday trip to North Carolina went well. Only took about 12 hours to drive it which in my book is a highly doable trip.

When I picked the car up I did the old sweep of the FM dial and stopped at 91.3FM, WDOM. That’s the station I did three years at during the 1980’s.  A very fun time in my life, even though I was making next to squat at the time. It was the people I worked with, and the friends I hung out with. Anyhow they were running a rather funny comedian. His language was pretty raw.  It isn’t that I’m a prude but pissed because we could never say “Shit” or “Fuck” on the radio when I was there but this guy could.

We got all the way to Delaware without issue. Little Miss Navigator kept us true, avoided the George Washington bridge this time, even avoided the tour through NYC. Instead we got a brief tour through Baltimore around the U-MD Medical center. Very impressive, reminds me of the Lifespan group in Providence. The other tour was a slightly longer one through the less visitor friendly area of Washington, DC.

You’ll recall from above I said we got through without issue all the way to Delaware. But going through the DelMarVa area, once we got a little bit deeper into  VA or Virginia, we hit a close to 25  mile long traffic jam whose cause when we finally crept the 25 miles in over 2 hours, closer to 2 hours and 23 minutes was determined to be a rather crumpled vehicle being loaded onto a flatbed.

If you’re the mathematical type, it calculates out to 5.72 minutes to the mile or 10MPH on average.  The posted speed limit 65MPH signs were a cruel joke.

Speaking of speed limits I note parts of North Carolina route 17 are now posted at 70MPH! TO make up time I was doing about 85MPH. But the annoying thing is the communities around Hertford where they drop the limit down to 45MPH or so. No reason really, just because they can, and because it drives up ticket revenue.

Tolls were very reasonable, $9 in NJ, $3 and $4 and $2, so all total $18 coming down. I set Miss Navigator to avoid most tolls but it can’t avoid all.

The car was a 2009 Hyundai Sonata. Decent enough vehicle but rattled quite a bit.  For a car about a year old and with 38K on the odometer I’d have expected better. It rattles in a peculiar way. And the Auxilliary port is hidden under the arm-rest. That one threw me, I saw the AUX button on the radio but couldn’t find the input. Something told me to open the arm-rest and sure enough in there I find a 12V port, a USB charing port, and the auxilliary input. One thing I will give Hyundai, they include satellite radio.

And on a mileage note, I burned a tank and a half of gas on the way down so it got 30MPG. I liked the Chevy Cobalt better, it got 37MPG but they’re phasing those out of the rental market.

We note the major development in the area seems to be the addition of a new prison and the current construction of a new Federal court house.

Prisons and justice seem to be the biggest growth industry in the United States right now, a statistic that really concerns me greatly. We’re already becoming enough of a police state that I have to worry about what I say sometimes.

But then the Italian side takes over and I’m going to say it anyway.

Day 2: 12/24/2010

In a way I kind of like this brief hiatus from the city. But I could not, I repeat, NOT live here on a full time basis. It’s a pretty area. Lots of open land, pretty pine trees, and it’s got that southern vibe to it. But I do not want to live here. It’s just nice to visit.

The biggest withdrawal is the lack of a net connectivity. Even my phone loses all 3G services like web, email, navigation, etc. It’s just voice and text down here. But it isn’t a complete lack; at least my brother and sister in law have a wifi net in their place.

That is how I’m posting this, on a borrowed net connection. And a little secret, I pre-composed this in a text editor. That way I can add all the details and then just copy/paste to post.

As to how I’m dealing with the net withdrawal, I preloaded my laptop with a number of E-Books from Cory Doctorow and all the episodes of “An Idiot Abroad” and “Great British Menu”

Christmas Eve was cool! It was myself, Keyron, my MIL, BIL, and SIL and the kids of the latter. My little nephew is a little over two and he’s a really sweet kid. When he sees me he puts his arms up and I picked him up. He is so adorable.

And I have admit, my nephew Kamorre is fascinated by me. Maybe it’s because I play with him, or I’ve been told he has a fascination with facial hair. But he’s cute as all hell and he has an infectious laugh. I hope he keeps that ability to laugh as he gets older.

And the night of Christmas day, the kids and the family returned to open gifts. Kamorre was captivated by the Mega Blocks we’d gotten for him, that is until he opened up the laughing monkey.

The laughing monkey is a cool toy. It laughs and rolls around on the floor at the slightest provocation.  In reality the provocation is when it’s light sensor is interrupted.

The girls like the nail polish sets we got them but the books seem to have fallen flat. That’s ok, just having them might inspire them to read.

Day 3: 12/25/2010

Kamorre is a natural clown. He can amuse himself with a rubber bouncy ball that’s nearly as big as he is.

Snow is predicted. Snow! What the hell, I leave the northeast to avoid snow and have to contend with it here!

Day 4: 12/26/2010

Yeah, there’s snow on the ground, about 8 inches of the crap. We’re all bunked here because in North Carolina they don’t have a plethora of plows to go around and clear EVERYTHING. I’ll never complain about snow removal in my city again. Yeah right.

Got everyone here,  Cory and Michelle (BIL/SIL) and their three kids Janiya, Janarria, and Kamorre.  Then there’s my MIL and FIL.

Day 5: 12/27/2010

A little dash through the snow to get to the supermarket. It isn’t bad, US 17 is clear down to pavement. But I’ll say one thing, everybody is doing 10MPH. They just don’t know to handle snow.

Happy Holidays

Be it Christmas, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, etc. I want to wish all of you a safe and happy holiday season.

This is a post I scheduled because where I’ll be there isn’t easy net access. Oh sure I could pay for one of those little Virgin access points, but really I can do without for a week.

So don’t get upset if your comments don’t get approved for a week or so.

I should also note that this marks five years since my paternal grandmother passed away. Way to go grandma, die on a day where nobody can forget because it’s also one of the biggest holidays in the United States!

What a week!

And it’s only the Wednesday before the Sol Invictus celebration you all probably know as Christmas.

DADT passed the U.S. House and Senate and was signed by President Obama today.

We’re seeing action on covering the first responders of the 9/11/01 event on coverage of their medical expenses.

We’re seeing passage of the arms treaty.

This is an historic lame duck session for Congress. My only question is why couldn’t they have shown those cojones over the past two years?

So now we’ll be treated to two years of utter governmental gridlock brought to you by the Party of No (Republicans new moniker) before people come to their senses again.

Degrees of Separation

So I’m watching “The Universe of Keith Haring” on Netflix. And I realize I’m only one degree separated from him through two friends, both of whom have now passed away, one from AIDS complications, the other from an aggressive throat cancer.

Which means I’m only 2 degrees from the whole 80’s group of artists. Isn’t that interesting?

Streetcars – Can they save America’s Cities

The entire article is here.

As to the naysayers, they didn’t get rid of streetcars in the 1950’s and 1960’s due to lack of ridership. They did it because of a cartel called National City Lines or variants thereof.

National City Lines was a front group for General Motors, Goodyear and Standard Oil. Their mission to dismantle electrically propelled streetcar systems and replace them with diesel buses. They touted the flexibility of the bus in being able to go anywhere but they neglected to mention what is killing transit agencies these days, fuel costs.

I’ve previously posted my sample letter for getting 80% or higher funding for streetcar projects. If I may be so bold, I might go a step further and require General Motors to provide say 7%, Goodyear 7% and the successor of Standard Oil 7% to make up the rest.

And anyone I’ve spoken to has said the same thing about buses. Buses are viewed as lowest common denominator transportation. Fixed rail systems aren’t viewed that way. Hell, I can tell you just my few months of riding the MBTA commuter from Providence to Boston, and then the Red Line down to Braintree, that you see a different class of people of all walks on rail than you do on buses.

The other gripe I hear about buses all the time is the necessity of transfers. For me to get to work requires two buses.  Instead I walk to the bus hub and get the bus from there. But I can understand the bewilderment about Kennedy Plaza.

I’m exceedingly tempted to do a little project just to prove RIPTA wrong. I want to go out and survey residents and business owners along Broadway and on to Manton Ave. Enlist them in my army to get a streetcar line that goes where we NEED one, not one that in my opinion benefits one or two entities almost EXCLUSIVELY. Yes, I’m talking about the current Core Connector study that links Brown University to the Lifespan hospital complex on the southern side of the city.

It’s ludicrous, ridiculous, and just plain wrong to build the line there.

Instead look at truly distressed areas of the city. One could say that the south side isn’t’ NEARLY as distressed as the Olneyville section of the city. And in RIPTA’s own documentation they show the Pearl District streetcars in Portland, Oregon. The before picture is of a downtrodden, gray landscape. The after of course is bright, with lots of foliage and s streetcar running down it.

The folks at RIPTA completely miss the point of images in their own brochure!


Why the MSM is going to crater

The reason I’m such a web head is because you get more information that way than from any of the other mainstream media outlets.

Case in point, the anti-war protest in D.C. with 135 people arrested. They were protesting over the war in Afghanistan. And they’re right, by the time we draw down it’ll be over a decade and we still haven’t learned what the Russians learned in the 1980’s.

The Russians knew that unless they put troops on every corner in every province they’d never take Afghanistan.

And the reason we’re in Afghanistan hasn’t got much to do with either the Taliban or Al Qaeda but almost  everything to do with a certain natural gas pipeline in the northern part of the country in addition to oil and gas interests there.

Yes boys and girls, we’re running out of oil. It’s the reason we’ve got troops in two key countries in the mid-east.

About damned time that DADT was repealed

So the U.S. Senate finally agreed on repealing the stupid policy of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell. It is a policy where 13,000+ U.S. soldiers were discharged for being gay.

The McCain Repugs are understandably  foaming at the mouth about this. It’s their mantra as the Party of No along with  their emotional, orange house leader John Boehner. And yeah, I pronounce it like BONER because you just know the ‘ay’ sound of the OE is sure not hot it should be prononced.

But it’s too damned bad. The Lame Duck Democrats have done we LGBT people a solid here. They finally repealed a policy based on ignorance and animus toward gay people.

Now we’ve got to get the sign offs from the chiefs but I don’t see that being too big an issue. After all other militaries around the world let openly gay people serve. It shows the idiocy of our current military leadership.