It's official

I am going to India January 7 - 16 with Dana and his dancers. It better be official or I went through a lot of trauma for nothing at the doctor's office last week.


Baking Latvian food

Lyla, Austin, I and guest cook Shelly made Latvian bacon rolls (piragi) and cheese (Jani siers) for Christmas last weekend. We had Latvian cookbooks and various Latvian recipe resources from the internet. It took all day but I think everything turned out well. We'll know next weekend when family and friends stop by for the Holiday Party/Family Christmas Contest Judging.

Take a look at the pictures

Speaking of the Christmas contest I worked on it for several obsessive hours this weekend. I think I should be done on time! No Tardiness Award for me.

Don't stop believin'

We don't have cable so we don't get to watch what few videos are still shown on MTV or VH1. For a while we had a network video channel call The Tube and I used to watch a few videos in the morning as my coffee was brewing. One morning I saw a concert video of Don't Stop Believin' by Journey and although I didn't really pay attention to it when it came out in the early 80's that morning the song spoke to me.

I did not tell Joe that I was newly fascinated with an 1980s power ballad until later that week when I read about a compilation CD by "indie" artists called Guilt By Association. I went to the myspace page set up for the album and the first song I heard was Petra Hayden singing an a capella version of Don't Stop Believin'. Over the next couple of months I would hearcd Si the song and wonder if it was coincidence or if I really never paid attention before.

I eventually downloaded it because I obviously had to have it. And when I was setting up my iPhone ringtones I had to use it as a ring for somebody.

Well I think the culmination of all things Don't Stop Believin' happened last week when we watched the Sopranos. In the weird final scene of the final episode Tony selects Don't Stop Believin' on the jukebox as the show ends for all eternity.

Here is a slightly edited version (mp3 file) for your edification/guilty pleasure:



Sad Passing

Sadly Zita's cat Baikal had to be put to sleep this weekend. Baikal was a sweet companion to Zita and a great older brother to rascals Cyril and Methodius.


Thanksgiving 2007

I am not thankful for the cold/flu that I have. After 6 days you'd think I'd be feeling better but no, I am still whining.

Thanksgiving day was pretty good except for the death of my car's battery that prevented me from visiting Austin and his guests before they ate dinner. But my dinner was simple but delicious - Green bean casserole, Cheesy Monkey bread and Apple cake. I believe it met the minimum Thanksgiving requirement for starch that Sandy and I discussed in a conversation earlier this week.


Here' s picture of a funny little car that parks near my office. It is a government car but I am not sure of its exact purpose.


More Beer reviews
Lagunitas India Pale Ale: Now that I know that India Pale Ales have an extra hoppy taste I want to try them all. The Lagunitas web site says their IPA is a "special homicidally hoppy ale" and while I found it to be quite good with a nice smooth taste I did not find it to have a strong hoppy taste..


Some more movie/DVD reviews

3 Iron
A curious Korean movie about a young man who moves into people's homes when they are away. He eats their food but also does their laundry and other cleaning. He manages to leave before the occupants return. At one house that he thinks is empty he finds a woman who has been abused by her husband. She leaves with him and joins him in his little home invasions. They are eventually caught and she returns to her husband but they still remain together in a way that may not be real. There are some elements of horror towards the end that were kind of confusing to me. It is a nice looking film and I am glad I saw it but it is just odd. The director also directed Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring,

Animated kid's movie about a young robot who has dreams of being an inventor. He goes to the big city where he makes friends but his dreams look impossible to achieve. The animation is very inventive but the story is nothing special. The ending scene involving a robot dog singing like James Brown, a marching band and lots of robots dancing makes up for the overly long scene involving flatulence.

Luck of the Irish/German

I received an early Christmas gift today. Joe won an iPhone in a contest and he gave it to me!!! The contest was in one of the local newspapers that are handed out at at the Metro station. Joe gets this particular newspaper because of the Suduko and when he picked it up one day last week he noticed a little announcement about a free-iPhone-a day-for-a-week contest. He entered and was very surprised that he won it on the first day. He has to pay tax on it but other than that it is free.

I am truly excited. I played with it all last night and most of today. I did put it away during my yoga class (after showing it to the instructor who was also excited to play with it). I connected it to the wireless network at Schlotsky's while we were eating sandwiches and checked my email. I have added music, quicktime movies and photos, set different ringtones for everybody in my "Favorites" phone list, synced addresses, looked at the McDonald Family and Dana's homepage, and checked out some youtube videos. Life as we know it has changed.


More Beer reviews
Dogfish Head 60 minute IPA is in a tie with the Blanche de Chambly. It has a wonderfully refreshing hoppy taste that I really like. IPA stands for India Pale Ale and when Lynda asked if the beer was from India I went straight to wikipedia. There I found out that the Brits needed to better preserve the beer they were sending to India for civilians and military in the 1700s and they discovered that increasing the alcohol and hop content reduced spoilage. There you have it.


My Trip to New York City

I took a quick trip to NYC with Dana and his company this past Tuesday through Thursday for their performance at NYU. It was a great trip. I had been to NYC with the company a couple of years ago and we stayed in Upper Manhattan. This time we stayed further south in West Village.

After a nice train ride Dana, three of his dancers and I checked in to the hotel and walked to the NYU theater near Washington Square and then to Soho to go to the Apple Store. I had forgotten the power adapter to my Powerbook (not the first time) and had to buy a new one. We stopped by a Tibetan store where I bought a cool jacket. Later Dana, Kelly and I ate huge hamburgers and tons of french fries at a restaurant called Rare. Eventually all the dancers arrived at our spare but certainly adequate hotel which was actually the first floor of a NYU residence hall.

Here's a fuzzy little movie of our digs:

The next morning we all walked to the Skirball Center for Performing Arts and spent most of the day waiting for something to happen. The technical setup took a very long time. The dancers usually have a technical run through to set lights and then a dress rehearsal but this day they only had a short technical walk through with costume changes. But the performance went well and my projections looked great with the state-of-the-art projection equipment.

During the day I took a walk to the East Village to make a pilgrimage to the Giant Robot store and art gallery. The art exhibit that is currently up is nice but there really wasn't much going on there but I had to go. I would have bought a T-shirt but nothing really spoke to me. Their on-line selection is much more expansive. But I got some fresh air and was able to see what the East Village was like.


Ben came by at around 6:30 and we ate at a great Chinese restaurant before the performance. I suspected it would be good when I saw the tech crew there on their dinner break. As always it was great to spend time with Ben.

After the performance we had drinks at a nice cozy hotel bar and then I had "second dinner" at a 24 hour diner with the dancers who were starving. I got to bed about 2:30AM. It's been a long time since I've stayed up that late.


The next morning I went with Dana and Kelly to Greenwich Village where we shopped and stopped at a coffee/pastry shop.


I then left them and walked 25 blocks uptown with my suitcase to the train station. I treated myself to a ride on the Acela train which is about an hour quicker and more modern. I have to say it was not worth the extra money. I missed the clickety-clack of the older trains and it was hard to find a seat and a place for my suitcase. The overhead compartments were like those in an airplane not open like the older trains. And the light came more from the indoor florescent lighting rather that natural light. I will probably never take the Acela again but I had to try it out.

When I got to Union Station I checked out the Latvian costume exhibit in the West Hall. Mom had read about it last week in the Latvian paper. I talked to two Latvian women there, one of which was the curator. I was too tired to conjure up any of my Latvian language skills but was able to tell the curator in Latvian that the costumes were pretty.


Here is a full slideshow of my trip. If you put your cursor on the images you should see captions.

More Child Art

It's been a while since the little girl on the 3rd floor and Zoe the little girl along Joe's route to work have put any of their art work on display. But luckily they have been inspired recently. I was thrilled to see some Halloween art appear on the 3rd floor door that I pass on the way to the garage. And Joe took a picture of Zoe's sidewalk chalk work. It's been a good week.

thirdfloorart_t zoe_bunny_t

More Beer reviews

Redbach by Rodenbach brewery: I found this in the back of the fridge. It is a cherry flavored Belgium ale . The bottle says it's "kissed by cherries" but the cherry flavor is up front and not subtle. I bought it a while ago and wasn't thrilled with it so I am saving it for a rainy day. Or maybe I will cook with it. I just checked out their website and saw that there are recipes, including a Breast of duck with cherries and Redbach!


Beer blogging

Zita sent me a great article from the Baltimore Sun about beer. As I read it and made a mental note to try one of the heavy hopped beers recommended I also realized that I should record my beer tastings so I can remember which ones I like. The little liquor store around the corner has lots of indie brewery and foreign beers and I seem to have trouble keeping them straight. Last fall I tried three pumpkin beers and can't really remember which one I liked. And where better to record this information than my blog (at least until I get an iPhone).

First entry: Blanche de Chambly made by Unibroue Brewery (funny name) in Quebec, Canada. It is an excellent white beer (5% alc/vol).


Video/TV Update

I have been busy working on a very short graphic for Dana's dance performance - lots of hours for 15 seconds of video but that's how these things work. It's a process. Here's the shortened version:

A recent video chat shot:

Video Snapshot of Lynda Rock 6

I have been mostly underwhelmed by the new Fall TV shoes. Let's go through them:

* Pushing Daisies - This had a lot going for it. The creator of Wonderfalls and Dead Like Me worked on this but it seems like the network was not interested in "edgy", only "whimsy". And the narrator spoon feeds the plot points. He does not allow you to really analyze what's going on for yourself.

* Big Shots - Just more men behaving badly and not very well.

*** Dirty Sexy Money - A nice guy replaces his father as the lawyer for a very rich family. He takes the job because he suspects someone in this large dysfunctional family knows something about his father's suspicious death. Somewhat interesting but I am not sure if it's interesting enough.

** Chuck - It's not bad but there was way too much hype for something that's not so original

** Bionic Woman -ditto.

** Journeyman - It's OK.

* Moonlight - It's OK.

** Cane - It's OK. Powerful Hispanic family in the sugar cane industry battling a non-Hispanic family in the sugar cane industry. It is nice to see Nestor Carbonell who played Bat Manuel on the Tick get good work but I don't think I'll be tuning in regularly.

*** The Reaper - A 21 year old kid finds out his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born and now he has to do the devil's work, which involves sending escapees from hell back to hell. I like it!

**** Aliens In America - A family takes in an exchange student because the mom thinks a young Scandinavian teenager will help her son be popular at school. But instead of a boy from Norway they get a devout but funny Pakistani boy. We've seen only one episode but it looks promising.

*** Life - A cop spends time in jail for a crime he did not commit. He gets out of jail, gets a hefty settlement and gets his job back. The show is nothing new but is a bit fun and quirky.

Comical characters

This week I dreamt about Sacha Baron Cohen of "Borat" fame , Bjork and Jack White of the White Stripes. Jack White might have been my brother in the dream. In the Bjork dream I talked to her for about an hour and had a picture taken with but her hair was in her face so I had no proof. I don't remember whether Sacha was his "Borat" character or his "Talladega Nights" character. I expect the latter since we saw that movie last weekend (Thanks for the DVD, Tommy!)

Five or so years ago Joe and I were in a comic book store and saw a T-shirt with a quirky Goth-y little girl character on it and big letters that spelled "LENORE". We asked and were told it was a comic book. We were going to buy it for Lenore but since the store did not have a copy we were afraid it might represent something that we couldn't get behind. We eventually found a copy of Lenore and it turns out to be the adventures of a cute dead girl and her quirky dead friends. I was hooked. You may recall I like cute but creepy.

So I bought the 13th issue at a comic book store last weekend. Here's a sample. Lenore and her friend Ragamuffin are about to meet a friend of a friend - note the name tag.


After picking up issue 13 and Joe's issue of Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve we browsed around a bit and found another quirky comic called "Me Write Book, It Bigfoot Memoir". After reading a couple of pages we decided it was another have-to-have. Here is a sample. Here Bigfoot complains that "certain element of woodland society want keep Bigfoot down. They run slander campaign". Note the megaphone.



Unboxing is a geek activity. It used to be only photos but these days it can involve video. I still prefer photos, mainly because the quality of most youtube videos sucks. Most unboxings I have seen involve Apple products but there is no limit to what can be unboxed. Case in point:


New Fall 2007 TV shows

Here's what I plan to check out:
Chuck - geeks and spies
Journeyman - time travel
Reaper - could be Buffy-like
Bionic Woman - a old idea but seem ass-kickin'
Dirty Sexy Money - Dynasty meets Wall Street,
Life - another police drama but seems a bit different
Big Shots - Good looking men with money, seems to be a theme this season.
Moonlight - another vampire detective. I am there!


It was definitely a vintage wool bike jersey morning. 12 miles in 58 degree coolness.

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Annapolis. Lyla, Zita and I met up with Lynda at the Wye Island Regatta. Lynda and her teammates - Edie, Tara, Patty, Louise and Joy, raced their 6 man outrigger canoe to victory. We hung out after the race next to the kayak, eating hamburgers on bagels made by firemen and drinking champagne. Some ate watermelon. There are pictures, of course.

wye_tiki_t wye_watermelon_t

Databases and bike rides

I am helping Dana set up a database for mailings and to track donations. I sat on my butt most of Saturday entering the data and designing reports. Most of my work for Dana is creative (web site, video work, etc) so this was more left brain (nerdy) work. It's good to keep both sides in good shape.

So I exercised my brain Saturday and the rest of me on Sunday. We took a 33 mile bike ride on the Four Mile Run and W&OD bike trails in Virginia. The weather was perfect . The prettiest part was actually near the water treatment plant where the late summer wild flowers are at their peak. The most unusual part was the guy riding a low-riding recumbent bike pimped out with an aerodynamic shield and red and black zebra print spandex. Joe has seen him an number of times over the last couple of years. It used to be Captain America-themed This was the sort of bike he was riding. Picture the black and white part as red and black zebra print spandex:


And as a reward for reading my blog here is an advance copy of the Christmas Contest announcement.

Hindi Talky

When we first started watching Bollywood movies there weren't a lot of places to buy movies and CDs. Amazon certainly did not have them. I wanted to buy a CD for Joe from the movie "Sarfarosh" so I stopped by an Indian grocery store near work recommended by the Indian women I work with. I managed to find the CD and when I indicated that I wanted to buy it the older Indian gentleman shook his head in the way older Indian gentlemen do and warned me "Hindi talky". I assured him that I knew what I was doing.

Since there is a small chance that I may go to India at the end of the year I decided I might want to learn some Hindi. I have learned a handful of words from Bollywood movies

dil - heart
diwana - crazy
tum - you
zindagi - life
sunam - sweetheart

So I decided to make a conscious effort to translate movie and song names. That was somewhat effective. I retained another handful of Hindi words. I sort of gave up on that method but did not have anything to replace it. That is until I took an internet trip to the iTunes store to subscribe to This American Life. I did some sort of search to find the podcast and among the search results was a spanish language education podcast. I wondered if there was any sort of Hindi podcast and sure enough I found two -- Namaste Dosti - The Learn Hindi Podcast and Learn Hindi from Bollywood Movies. India style.

Namaste Dosti - The Learn Hindi Podcast is a good basic learning tool and I will learn the most from it. Learn Hindi from Bollywood Movies. India style. is less a series of lessons and more a series of stand-up comic routines about life lessons and maybe some grammar that can be learned from mostly old (70s, 80s) Bollywood films. I find them to be quite humorous. The podcaster is a writer who lives in NYC. Here a less than 3 minute taste:


Horror on the 15th Floor

I was watering flowers on my balcony Friday evening when I sensed something buzzing towards me. At first I thought it was a bumblebee which did not scare me but then I realized it was bigger than a bumblebee could ever be. I immediately knew it was a cicada and from experience I knew he was looking for something to land on. Luckily I headed for the sliding glass door and not over the balcony rail. It sat on the window box for a while and I was brave enough to go back out and take a picture of it.

Some more movie/DVD reviews
Dead Like Me This series about a young 20 something who dies and is then given the job of escorting other people to their death is well done and well written but I just can't get past the ugliness of it. There are some moments of humor but overall it is depressing and filled with unpleasant people. I think the side plot of the grieving sister and mother is brilliant. I appreciate it but it is just not for me.

The Aviator Way too long and I just was not interested enough but Cate Blanchett is great as Katherine Hepburn and the scene where Howard Hughes crashes his plane is fantastic.

Im Juli. A charming German film about a shy school teacher who is told by a street vendor who has a crush on him that he is destined to be with a woman associated with the sun. She of course plans to be that woman but things go differently and he meets a turkish woman and follows her to Turkey. The plot is predictable but there is lots of fun along the way.

The Ladykillers The Coen Brothers remake of the 1950s Alec Guinness film. Tom Hanks, his accent and his dialogue are brilliant. And visually the movie is stunning. I could not wait for another character to die so I could see the body go off the bridge on to the garbage barge

Car talk

Today Joe and I were doing our Rockville shopping run - bike shop, container store, frame store, grocery shopping. We get in and out of the car a lot on these trips. In one parking lot I chatted for over ten minutes with a nice Chinese woman about my car. I gave her the usual information - price, MPG, and showed her the trunk. She is a journalist for a newspaper published for the DC Chinese community. Before we said goodbye she gave us some tips on getting discounts at local Chinese restaurants. She says she really wants a Mini but her husband is very skeptical.

Shah Rukh Khan appeared on the front page of the Washington Post Arts section in a bathtub. Apparently there is an unauthorized biography out about SRK. I am there.

My uncle Austin sent me an drawing for my birthday. I am honored.

newlyframed_t austin_inktree_t

When I was on vacation on Edisto my parents' car was hit by a flying tire that flew off a truck that passed them. My parents missed their party and they will be without their "good car" for a while but other than that everything turned out OK.

Here are two pictures. The fireman that was directing traffic reminded me of Vito of the Sopranos.
tiredamage_t carontruck_t

And we've been doing 4-way video chatting on Sunday nights. It's not perfect - there are echos and audio sync issues - but as you can see it is still fun.

Edisto Beach 2007


  • Kayaking in the marsh - this year we rented a double and a single
  • Our walk to Jeremy's Inlet to find adventure and fossils
  • Big boiled shrimp
  • Not losing at Scrabble
  • Hearing that Andrea made it to Instanbul
  • Updating the Lust List over Buck's pizza- Lynda joined the club this year
  • Our annual film festival, which included Susan and Lane's dance works
  • Seeing Diane for the first time in 8 years

Here are the pictures

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise and Then Some

So I stopped by Lyla's Friday night and no one answered the door so I let myself in. There sat Lenore, Paula and my parents. What a surprise! Brooke stopped by which was great. And then after birthday pizza, Austin's red velvet cake and Mom's poppy seed cake Lynda appears. The next day when I think there can't be anymore surprises Tree from Long Island shows up on our trip to the Torpedo Factory art galleries in Alexandria. Sunday there were no surprises but we had a very nice day at the pool with Lorella and a wonderful dinner at Equinox with Woody. Take a look at some pics.

Some highlights:

  • A refrigerator full of Brooklyn lager at Lyla and Tracy's house
  • Entertaining the pool-goers with synchronized swimming with Lynda and Tree. It was fun to play at the pool - a nice change from just doing laps.
  • Chatting up an artist at the Torpedo factory even though I had kind of insulted her by asking if she had a connection to another artist in the building. Some of her work was quite nice.
  • Watching the sad but highly entertaining final episode of Season 2 of The Wire
  • Austin and Shelly's song about ME


We were near an Apple store today so we popped in to look at the iPhone. It is pretty impressive and once you figured out some basics it is very intuitive. The sales guys were there to answer questions but were not pushy. I imagine the thing just sells itself. I may buy one one day.

I have had several dreams lately of going around and locking doors and windows. One dream took place in an old house we used to live in, the other in a house I was not familiar with. There was no real anxiety associated with the dreams and I have not quite figured it out what they mean.

Here are two little videos I took recently. One is the fife and drum group at the July 4th parade we ran into on our bike ride. The other is a parade of one blue dog who works Connecticut Ave. in front of the local pet store. It's always a treat to see him/her while we eat sandwiches across the street at Schkotszky's.

Triathalon, The Tour and YouTube

Today I did my first mini-triathalon of the summer - a 12 mile bike ride, a half mile swim and a 3 block walk to Schlotszky's for sandwiches. It was great.

The Tour de France has started and I am very interested to see what happens. There are a couple of good riders that I like left after 2 years of doping scandal to root for. Allez Tom Boonen! Allez Jens Voigt and the whole CSC Team! Allez George Hincapie!

Although i understand the appeal of youtube i always groan when I see a youtube link because i know that the quality of the video i want to see will be crap. Which is too bad because I have been thinking it would be nice for Dana to have some videos on youtube. Well after seeing that some youtube videos actually do look good I did some investigating and found a page that has suggestions for good quality video. youtube takes what you send it and re-encodes it to their format, size, etc so this if you can upload a video that is close to youtube's format you have a better chance of good quality.

So after about 15 minutes of playing around and 8 hours of rendering I uploaded my first youtube video. It seems to look better (less choppy) if you actually go to the site but here it is embedded:

Miss Red, White and Blue

Joe and I took a bike ride about 30 miles out in Virginia. As we rode into the town of Leesburg we ran into a parade and so we stopped, took a rest and watched the fife and drum group, the world war II vets, the fire trucks and Miss Red, White and Blue.
fifeanddrum_t miss4th_t

And there were interesting sites along the trail. Nice flowers, a quarry, and Old Dominion Brewery (unfortunately they were closed).

adoptatrail_t woodfence_t

quarry_t barrels_t

Folklife Festival

Sunday we braved the high tourist turnout and went down to the Smithsonian Foklife Festival at the Mall. This year they featured Northern Ireland, Mekong River and Roots of Virginia. Joe had read about a band from Ireland called Four Men and a Dog (pronounce "Dag" like Brad Pitt pronounced it in "Snatch"). We got there in time to catch the end of their set. The kids and adults dancing were as entertaining as the band. (There was no dog). and


We then saw a young song and dance troup from China, a barbershop quartet type group from Tibet.

mekong03_t mekong01_t


Then the Vietnamese opera performed.


The food lines at the folk life festival were way too long so we headed to the food court at the Old Post Office. First we had to get masala dosas at the Indian Kitchen. I almost tried the Coconut Bharfi and Thums Up soda.

signage_t indiandelight_t

coconutbharfi_t thumsup_t

And we could not leave without a visit to Larry's Cookies.


Some more movie/DVD reviews
We've been renting some cable TV series

Dead Like Me
Paula recommended this series about the dead walking among the living acting as grim reapers. We've seen the pilot. The cast is interesting and we are interested to see how the story develops.

The Wire Season 2
Started off a bit slow but the action is picking up. The first season was all about the drug dealing gang in the Baltimore projects. This season the story continues in the projects but there is also a murder investigation in the Baltimore Port. I still can't get enough.

Another great series - a young actor makes it big in the movies and moves from Queens to Hollywood with his childhood friends. Jeremy Piven plays his intense agent. It's light and fluffy and fun with cameos here and there. Joe's favorite so far is Jessica Alba. Mine is Mark Wahlberg.

Catch Up

I am slowly reconstructing my blog. You'll see that May is there and Feb, March and April will be there soon.

So what did we miss? Joe and I went to the CSC Invitational Cycling race that was held June 2 across the river in Arlington.The riders do a 1km circuit 100 times. The beginning and the ending circuits are very exciting but the 50 or so in the middle, not so much. So we went walked around a bit and ate lunch at Baja Fresh. Here's a movie of the cyclists going by. The sounds of all those fast bikes traveling so close together was pretty cool.

Last weekend was Spoleto and the big birthday party. Mom, Lynda, Graeme and I went to see Philip Glass's latest work Book of Longing which was marvelous. We met Glass and several of his musicians and singers at an after-performance party - didn't talk much with Glass but had nice conversations with the other performers.

Before the performance Glass talked with a local critic on the set of his new work. It was interesting to hear about his background, his teachers (Ravi Shankar!), his work with young musicians and the artistic development of Book of Longing.

glass_set_t glass_talks_t

Here are pictures from the very elegant after performance party.

lynda_graeme_party_t graeme_mom_atglassparty_t

Now to the party. I made a little video and for now you have several choices. Below you should see a small 2.9MB version.

Your other choices (all Quicktime) are:


My hard drive died last week and I was able to recover most of my data except my web site project file. So I am starting from scratch, again.
I will slowly fill in the gaps. Very sad.

Memorial Day Weekend 2007

Good weekend so far. Saturday I planted my balcony flowers which I had bought Friday at lunchtime. It is fun just walking around the nursery looking at all the colors and textures. I bought some old standards - geraniums, purple petunias (they smell the best), portulaca, mint - as well as some new ones - garden pinks, something with flamingo in the name, lobelia. Austin gave me a nice maple-leaf plant that has an orange blossom that seems to be made of chinese rice paper.

Yesterday morning Joe and I did an 18 mile cycling ride in VA. Some highlights:

  • Sweet-smelling honeysuckle everywhere

  • Watching a bird pick up a a perfectly clean kleenex lying on the trail and fly away with it

  • Riding along with the "Rolling Thunder" (veterans on motorcycles, mostly Harleys) on Interstate 66. Interstate highways and other roads were closed to accommodate their trip from points in VA and MD to the Pentagon. People were lined up on the overpasses waving at the riders. The riders beeped at them. It was quite loud but impressive.

  • Seeing two large herons along the way. One was bigger than any heron I have seen in the SC marsh.

As I was planting flowers I listened to some new music. Here's what I'm liking:

  • Rufus Wainwright - I listened to his dad Loundon in the late 70s and 80s. I have tried to listen to Rufus in the past but was never impressed. His latest though finally broke through. Romantic, bitter, thoughtful, clever.

  • VHS or Beta - fun 80's influenced music, as you would expect from the name

  • Final Fantasy - a guy who plays nice pop music and uses violins for percussion. I found some mp3s of a collaboration between Final Fantasy and a rapper Cadence Weapon. It was a great fit.

  • Kings of Leon - Southern Rock n Roll, but in a good way

  • A small Swedish Invasion - Jose Gonzalez, Peter Bjorn and John

  • Amy Winehouse - way too much hype but she has a great boozy blues style and apparently a lifestyle to match

Here are some pictures of my balcony:

flowers20072_t flowers20071_t

Joe's visit with the Prime Minister

Last week it was the Queen, This week Tony Blair was in town. Joe was riding home on his bike along Rock Creek Park and noticed that no cars were coming from either direction. A minute later a huge motorcade (many motorcycles, SUVs, limos) came by with both the American flag and British flag represented.

So here are some video chat photos from recent sessions. I look forward to the day the technology is such that we can get the whole family online at once. Now that would be a picture!

Mother's day flowers at Edisto.

T looks like he is in the Witness Protection Program.

Little T's first chat session. He'll be stealing T's phone and texting next week.
Sandy and Little T celebrating Mother's day

Graeme with alien hands
Just kidding, the hands were Alisa's.

My Visit with the Queen

The Queen of England visited Goddard Space Flight Center today. There was a welcoming ceremony for which 200 people were picked by lottery to attend. My friend Saima and my jazzercize teacher Nadine got in. I was not so lucky. I only got to see her from about a block away as she walked from building 3 where she talked to the astronauts on the Space Station to Building 8 where the ceremony took place.

queencrowd_t yellowhat_t

The queen walked from the right side of the picture (above left) to a building off camera on the left. Luckily she was wearing bright yellow/green otherwise I may not have known which one was her. Note the Secret Service guy on the roof in the movie below.

[will add movie later]

Seeing the Queen at work was not nearly as cool as seeing and talking to Shah Rukh Khan at work but it's all good.

Top Fifty

I have nothing to write about really. The most interesting thing going on is my new haircut and the request by my Italian friend Lorella to be her 2nd Medical Power of Attorney. She is having laparoscopic surgery next week. She informed be that if things don't go well she wants to be burned.

It is lilac and wisteria time in DC. I took this picture in the parking lot next to my ballet studio.


So since it is a slow news day I thought I might list Joe's and my Top 50 movie list that we put together recently:

(In no particular order)

Kill Bill I & 11
Sexy Beast
My Neighbors the Yamadas
The Fifth Element
Dil Se
The Matrix
The Professional
Simple Men
Ghost in the Shell
City Hunter
Chinese Ghost Story
Hana & Alice
Galaxy Quest
Lost In Translation
Toy Story
My Neighbor Totoro
Slaughterhouse 5
Dr Strangelove
To Kill A Mockingbird
From Dusk til Dawn
Edward ScissorsHands
Grace of My Heart
Last of the Mohicans
Raise The Red Lantern
Party Girl
Die Hard
High Risk
Paris Texas
Wings of Desire
Star Wars
Young Frankenstein
Annie Hall
Bram Stroker's Dracula
Princess Bride
Sixteen Candles
Bottle Rocket
The Last Seduction
Singing In the Rain
Local Hero
Enchanted April
Austin Powers
Nightmare Before Christmas

Contest winner

One of our favorite museums is the National Building Museum (you may remember this little movie). Joe became a member and so he gets a magazine every couple of months. In the first issue he got there was a contest. Identify this picture:
Joe guessed it immediately and he was one of 4 readers to win. He correctly guessed it was the underside of arecibo radio telescope dish in Puerto Rico. There was no prize just a mention the next issue of the magazine.

Some more movie/DVD reviews
The Good Shephard is a movie about the beginnings of the CIA and one man's initiation into the world of espionage. It is a good story spanning World War II through the Bay of Pigs. It is a bit complicated but well laid out. Recommended.

Christmas Contest Entries

I am only missing one entry so I am releasing the Christmas Contest 2006 entries. Hopefully I'll get Wayne's sonnet soon. You better enjoy them. A lot of blood, sweat and tears were shed in their making

Here are some neighborhood pictures.

A pretty little house in Georgetown

gtownhouseside_t gtownhousegate_t

Toys In Yards

neatntidy_t toysinyard_t