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Monday, December 28, 2009

The Year in Review

The good folks at JibJab have done it again with this send off of 2009:

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

FPL pushes hard for rate hike

Full Story

We are being overcharged for power in South Florida by a corrupt monopoly.

A Florida Power & Light communications director dug up dirt on regulators who are considered consumer-friendly and posted disparaging comments about them on blogs as part of the utility's effort to win a rate hike.

FPL executives have said they want their $1.27 billion base rate hike proposal to be judged on its merits, free from political influence. But the company has conducted an aggressive campaign, some of it behind the scenes, to push for the increase.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Man's Best Friend in Holiday Spirit


Bo, the Obama family dog, waits near a Christmas tree in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The White House Spruces Up for the Holidays

As the White House gets ready for the holidays, First Lady Michelle Obama in the below video, thanks the volunteers who helped with preparations and announces that White House employees will participate in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots Program.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Slow, Dry Hurricane Season Comes to a Close

We had a fairly dry rainy season this year in South Florida. We also lucked out this year for the number and strength of storms during Hurricane Season.

The 2009 Atlantic hurricane season officially ends today marking the close of a season with the fewest named storms and hurricanes since 1997 thanks, in part, to El Niño.

Nine named storms formed this year, including three hurricanes, two of which were major hurricanes at Category 3 strength or higher. These numbers fall within the ranges predicted in NOAA’s mid-season outlook issued in August, which called for seven to 11 named storms, three to six hurricanes, and one to two major hurricanes.

An average season has 11 named storms and six hurricanes, including two major hurricanes.

“The reduced activity was expected and reflects the development of El Niño during the summer,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service.

Full NOAA Story

Monday, November 23, 2009

Today on NBC's Today Show

UK's Torch Singer, Susan Boyle, was interviewed and performed on NBC's Today show this morning. Backed by glorious strings in the heart of Rockefeller Plaza, Ms. Boyle aimed to please as she rolls out her new album, "I Dreamed A Dream."

This clip is one of my favorites and to be honest about it, the background tourist are the least objectionable.

Full Story
Facebook friends, please go to my blog or click "See Original Post" link below to see video.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Clothes

I've never been to an Old Navy store, and yet all of my clothes come from there. I find the best deals on their online store and this year's purchase of "run-around-the-house" clothes was no exception.

Earlier this year I purchased my new summer shorts from Old Navy since all of my old shorts were threadbare. Since I usually purchase clothes every other year, it was no surprise that it was time to buy some new winter/spring ware for running around the house (inside and out) and the occasional trip to the grocery store.

I was in luck this year that Old Navy had brought back their light-weight fleece pant with draw-string closer and inseam deep pockets and that they were on sale, in my size, for $15. With a large selection of outlandish plaids, I purchased 6 pair, buying 5 colours (I bought 2 of the orange). I also purchased two pairs of socks and 3 "T" shirts.

I'm all set for the next two years for a price of $127 which included sales tax (6%) and shipping ($7 for the lot).

You can also shop Banana Republic, Piperlime, Athleta,and the GAP from this website and all your purchases can be combined into one charge and shipment. I have never had to wait more than 6 days for delivery.

Recommended shopping website — Old Navy, GAP, et al

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ida Reawakens

Hurricane Ida is on the move to the North at 12 MPH as it heads for the Gulf of Mexico. Current maximum sustained winds are 90 MPH.

Projected landfall has Ida in the Western Panhandle of Florida stretching to the Mississippi/Louisiana border between 6 p. m. CST Tuesday to 6 p. m. Wednesday. (see map)


Click map to see larger graphic.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ida Peters Out

Ida popped up early this morning as a hurricane with 75 mph winds only to have petered out to barely a Tropical Storm just twelve hours later. This is good news for the US as we have been very lucky, although very dry, this hurricane season.

Hurricane forms off the East coast of Nicaragua

Hurricane Ida has formed off the East Coast of Nicaragua. This storm, a category I, has sustained winds of 75 mph.

A hurricane watch is in effect for the Eastern coast of Nicaragua from North of Puerto Cabezas to the Honduras/Nicaragua border.

Above map shows 5-day forecast showing a weakening storm.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wake up Dems: GET RID OF JOE LIEBERMAN!

It is way past due for Joe Lieberman to be place right where he needs to be... by himself, outside of any caucus. This is especially a message to The Senate Democratic Caucus, who has been way too forgiving in the past. Old Joe has come up and bitten you once again and it is time to get rid of this wishy-washy, problematic, flip flopper once and for all.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I do not trust any politician that changes sides. The fundamentals of any party do not change. Issues may change, attitudes may change, but the core values and belief systems don't.

Joe Lieberman .. you want to be an independent ... fine.. go off in a corner somewhere and be independent. You have no business heading any committee. Your true colours are showing yet again and you cannot be trusted .... PERIOD.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bea Truly "Bosom Buddies to the End"

Actress Bea Arthur left in her will, $300,000 to The Ali Fornay Center.

The center, located in New York City, provides services to more than 1,000 homeless gay youth each year. It currently runs seven residential sites.

It also operates two drop-in centers offering food, clothing, medical and mental health treatment, HIV testing, treatment and prevention services, and vocational and educational assistance.


Full Story

Friday, October 23, 2009

Facelift for Facebook Rolled Out Today

Today, we are beginning to see changes in the layout for Facebook. Of course, this came without any warning leaving most users (like me) completely in the dark. You know that old adage: If it ain't broke; FIX IT.

When you log in to Facebook you will see what the site deems the most interesting things that happened in the past day in the "News Feed." These could be photos, status updates or other items. As has been the case previously, what Facebook deems interesting to you will be based on what updates are popular with your friends or how close you are to the person giving the update.

"If the content has comments or 'likes' by 10 of your mutual friends, it's something that is important to you," said Peter Deng, a Facebook product manager.

After you've caught up, you can click back to the "Live Feed" you've had before and read updates from everyone on your friends list in a constant stream.

Full Story

Thursday, October 8, 2009

NASA to "bomb" the Moon

NASA is looking for water on the moon, but no divining rod will do as NASA's current mission, Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite [LCROSS] impacts the moon tomorrow at 7:01am EST.

The presence of water on the moon is a critical component in NASA's plans to do extensive research on the moon and to provide valuable information to the science community.

The impact will be broadcast by most TV News outlets and will be available on NASATV and their website beginning at 6:45 a.m. EST.

For more information, go to LCROSS Mission Pages.

NASATV: NTV or DirecTV Channel 283.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Healthy Foods Can Make You Sick

Reform is needed to protect our food supply. Too many agencies that do not communicate with each other is one of the problems.

(If you are seeing this from facebook, please see the video on my blog at vrp3.blogspot.com)


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tea Cup Pigs

Yep, you read that right .. Tea Cup Pigs .. cute little things, but I don't know if it is the right thing to show while everyone is worried about the swine flu.

Oh yes, and one more thing... it doesn't take them long to mature and start having little piglets all over the place.

DirecTV has fixed my TV. The problem is that it wasn't broken.

In an effort to really piss me off, DirecTV succeeded in fixing something that wasn't broken and I'm left with no TV tonight.

Starting around 3:00 am this morning, the receivers in my living room and kitchen started trying to download "new software" and all it seemed to do was erase what software was resident on the receivers and then cut them off. After hitting the reset button every hour for 4 hours, I called DirecTV and had my first "fight" with their automated system that wanted me to talk to a machine. No matter how much I talk to those things, it cannot understand the words coming out of my mouth.

After really getting frustrated, I proceeded to hit "0" on my phone and guess what? I got a real person. Not only did I get a real person, but I got one whose first language was English and he was in Indiana. I was almost speechless as I let in to him with both barrels, which I sincerely apologized about later on, when I got to thinking that this guy could be working from a jail cell somewhere. But hey, at least I could understand the words that were coming out of his mouth.

To make a long story short (I know, too late), he believes that my dish is misaligned (something I have been telling them about since Hurricane Wilma's eye blew over my house in 2005) and may be the reason why I loose reception with just one drop of rain and why neither TV is getting the update.

We'll see. They are due sometime between sunrise and sunset tomorrow. The computer voice, when it called me about an hour ago to confirm the appointment, asked if some other time would be better, I almost started to look for the moonrise and moonset times and then just thought I'd better leave that one alone.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Florida Theme Parks Embark on New Philosophy

A recent article in the Orlando Sentinel suggest the Florida theme parks in the Orlando area are changing the way visitors interact with its many attractions. While "the rides" are a big draw, other attractions create a need for interaction.

While Walt Disney World's Fantasyland expansion and Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter will both be anchored by big new rides, some of the secondary attractions could prove every bit as important to the future of the resorts.

Elaborate sets where guests can dance with princesses and a wand shop where the souvenir wands choose their buyers mark the latest efforts by Disney and Universal to make their parks more interactive with visitors. They are also among the earliest attempts to extend that interactivity beyond traditional rides and shows and into every corner of the sprawling resorts.

"Interactivity" has become a big buzz word in the amusement industry in recent years.

Full Orlando Sentinel story

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Roman Polanski arrested on 1978 warrant

Controversial filmmaker Roman Polanski has been arrested in Switzerland.

He was taken into custody on Saturday on a 1978 U.S. warrant, which was issued after Polanski pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl.

Polanski fled to France before sentencing in 1978 and has been unable to travel to the U.S. since the warrant was issued.

The 76 year old was held upon his arrival in Switzerland, where he was due to receive a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival on Sunday.

Polanski, a French citizen, had been battling to have the case thrown out in recent months, but a U.S. judge formally rejected his requests in May.

A representative for Polanski could not be reached as WENN went to press.

Story

Monday, September 14, 2009

Patrick Swayze dead at 57

Patrick Swayze has died after a nearly two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Swayze’s publicist Annett Wolf says the 57-year-old “Dirty Dancing” actor died Monday with family at his side. He came forward about his illness last spring, but continued working as he underwent treatments.

It was 1987 when Swayze became a star with his performance in “Dirty Dancing,” a coming-of-age story set in a Catskills resort. The 1990 film “Ghost” cemented his status as a screen favorite.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Stay in School, Work Hard, Ask Questions

President Obama's speech to kids today was held in a Virginia public school and the message was clear. Work Hard; Set Goals; Ask Questions and Stay in School:


Monday, September 7, 2009

TS FRED

The sixth named storm of the 2009 Atlantic Hurricane season formed 245 miles SSW of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands. Tropical Storm [TS] FRED at 11:00 was moving West at 15 MPH with windspeeds of 40 MPH with gusts.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

TS ERIKA Forms in the Atlantic

AT 5 PM...2100 UTC...THE GOVERNMENT OF THE NETHERLANDS ANTILLES HAS ISSUED A TROPICAL STORM WATCH FOR THE ISLAND OF ST. MAARTEN.

AT 5 PM...THE GOVERNMENT OF ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA HAS ISSUED A TROPICAL STORM WATCH FOR THE ISLANDS OF ANTIGUA...BARBUDA...ST. KITTS...NEVIS...AND ANGUILLA.

AT 5 PM...THE GOVERNMENT OF FRANCE HAS ISSUED A TROPICAL STORM WATCH FOR THE ISLANDS OF ST. MARTIN AND ST. BARTHELEMY.

Check this blog for updates.


Erich Kunzel dead at 74

CINCINNATI - Erich Kunzel, the award-winning conductor who headed the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra since it was founded three decades ago and who won international fame through sales of more than 10 million recordings, has died. He was 74.

Kunzel was diagnosed with liver, colon and pancreatic cancer in April, but continued conducting while undergoing treatment. He died Tuesday morning at a hospital near his home in Swan's Island, Maine, said Chris Pinelo, a spokesman for the Cincinnati Pops.

On July 4, Kunzel conducted a concert at the U.S. Capitol with Aretha Franklin. He had led the National Symphony on the Capitol lawn in nationally televised Memorial Day and Independence Day concerts since 1991.

Full AP Story

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TS Danny is 4th named storm of the season.

At 1100 am EDT... 1500 UTC... the center of Tropical Storm Danny was located near latitude 24.9 north ... longitude 70.3 west or about 445 miles... 715 km... east of Nassau and about 775 miles... 1250 km... south-southeast of Cape Hatteras North Carolina.

Danny is moving toward the west-northwest near 18 mph...30 km/hr. A general northwestward motion with a decrease in forward speed is expected today and Thursday...with a turn toward the north-northwest expected on Friday.

Maximum sustained winds are near 45 mph ...75 km/hr... with higher gusts. Slow strengthening is possible during the next couple of days.

Tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 140 miles ...220 km mainly to the north of the center.

The minimum central pressure estimated from NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft data is 1009 mb...29.80 inches.

Danny is expected to cause storm total rainfall of 2 to 3 inches... with maximum amounts of 4 inches...over the central and northwestern Bahamas. Storm total rainfall of 1 to 2 inches are expected over the southeastern Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

See top of blog page and side bar for regular updates.

Edward M Kennedy, dead at 77

BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, a towering figure in the Democratic Party who took the helm of one of America's most fabled political families after two older brothers were assassinated, died at age 77, his family said.

"Edward M. Kennedy, the husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle we loved so deeply, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port (Massachusetts)," the Kennedy family said in a statement early on Wednesday.

One of the most influential and longest-serving senators in U.S. history -- a liberal standard-bearer who was also known as a consummate congressional dealmaker -- Kennedy had been battling brain cancer, which was diagnosed in May 2008.

His death marked the twilight of a political dynasty and dealt a blow to Democrats as they seek to answer President Barack Obama's call for an overhaul of the healthcare system.

Kennedy was a longtime advocate of healthcare reform, a signature issue of Obama's presidency. Obama said on Wednesday he was heartbroken to hear of the death of Kennedy, a crucial supporter of his presidential candidacy.

Full Reuters Story

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hurricane Bill warning given for New York

Hurricane Bill is hundreds of miles off the Atlantic coast but forecasters warn the storm is expected to cause dangerous waves and rip tides on Long Island beaches by Friday. New York state parks officials advise swimming only in lifeguard protected areas designated by green flags

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Hurricane Bill becomes a CAT 4


Hurricane Bill has become a Category 4 storm that is predicted not to hit the US, however, Ocean swells will be felt along the East coast of the US in the next four days.

Remnants of TD Ana is producing rain, heavy at times, in South Florida.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tonight's Dinner

I've been ordering a lot of food off of Amazon.com lately getting pretty good deals.

Tonight, I decided to "think out of the box" literally and 'doctor' a prepackaged dinner into something special.

This experiment was a success.



Using Betty Crocker Complete Meals, Chicken & Buttermilk biscuits, as a base, I created an Onion, Chicken and Cheese Pie. Using the Impossible Pie method, I created a wonderful savory pie. Here is what I did:


Ingredients
1 box of Betty Crocker Complete Meals "Chicken & Buttermilk Biscuits"
2 eggs
Milk (see instructions for amount)
1 small sweet onion, sliced 1/4 inch and separated into rings
1/4 teaspoon Tarragon Leaves
4 slices of Swiss Cheese.

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Using vegetable spray, grease a 9in pie plate.

2. From the kit, open can of Progressive Chicken and Four Garden Vegetable Sauce and drain into measuring cup, reserve.

3. Place onion rings in the bottom of pie plate.

4. Evenly distribute the rest of the can over the onion.

5. Break Swiss cheese into strips and place on vegetable mix; sprinkle with tarragon.

6. Add enough milk to reserve to make 1 1/2 cups of liquid. Pour into bowl.

7. Add eggs and beat with whisk until smooth.

8. Add Seasoning Blend pouch and beat with whisk until totally dissolved.

9. Add Bisquick from the kit and mix with whisk. The Batter will be thin.

10. Pour mixture into pie plate, covering the vegetables and chicken.

Bake for 45 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.

The pie will make its own top and bottom crust. Let cool for at least 5 minutes (I waited 10) and cut.

GA Couple Killed by Wild Dogs

To think that the owner of an abandoned house would think that wild dogs would ever be harmless - Watch Video. -- YIKES!


Remnants of ANA


Disorganized showers & thunderstorms extending from near Haiti across easter cuba to the Southeaster and central Bahamas are associated with the remnants of TD ANA and an upper-level low pressure area.

It will be covering Southern Florida over the next day or so. This System (circled in yellow) shows no signs of regeneration at the time and there is a less than 30% chance of this system becoming a tropical cyclone again during the next 48 hours.

Friday, August 14, 2009

NY cafes crack down on free wi-fi

Many coffee shops are losing money because customers spend too long online, so they are covering sockets, banning laptops and charging for internet access.

As big chains like Starbucks offer free wi-fi, smaller business are struggling to survive.

Jonathan Blake's Video Report from BBC.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

From: The Daily Beast

Charles Perez, the gay news anchor fired by his Miami ABC affiliate after filing a discrimination claim over a bump to weekends, says he couldn’t forgo marriage and children just to stay in the news business.

In his own words:

Why I Committed Career Suicide - By Charles Perez

Posted using ShareThis

Eunice Kennedy Shriver Dead at 88

AP - AUG 11, 2009, BARNSTABLE, Mass. - Former President John F. Kennedy's sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver died early Tuesday, her family said.

The 88-year-old Shriver had been hospitalized in Massachusetts since last week. Members of her extended family had gathered at her bedside at Cape Cod Hospital in Barnstable.

Shriver organized the first Special Olympics in 1968. She was inspired in part by the struggles of her mentally disabled sister, Rosemary Kennedy.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Save The Arts In Our Schools

July 24, 2009—Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the FY 2010 Labor-HHS-Education funding bill, setting the initial appropriation level for both the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and Arts in Education programs (AIE) at the U.S. Department of Education for fiscal year 2010.

The Senate Appropriations Committee is preparing to take up this funding legislation within the next week, and Americans for the Arts needs your help to urge your Senators to match, or exceed, the funding levels for these programs set in the House.

Do your part today: Click here to get started!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Heteroflexible

Bi-curious.

Is “Heteroflexible” the New Gay?

What does it mean that there are three new entertainment projects where straight men are sexually involved with other men?

Britain’s Torchwood first broke gay ground with its leading bisexual character (in a genre show, no less). Now with the show’s third season (a five-part miniseries) running on BBC America for five days starting [Monday night], that leading character, Captain Jack Harkness, is still involved with his male co-worker Ianto.

But this time around, we learn that Ianto is not gay or bisexual; he’s actually straight, but just happens to respond emotionally and sexually to Jack. Confusing? It shouldn’t be. Such emotions and relationships have always been part of the human spectrum.

Full Story

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Two storms being watched


The National Hurricane Center in Miami continues to monitor two tropical waves in the Atlantic Ocean, though neither are expected to intensify over the next two days.

One area of disturbed weather, located about 200 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, is producing showers, storms and locally heavy rain, the Hurricane Center said in its 8 a.m. report.

The system is not expected to become better organized in the near future because of unfavorable upper-level winds.

The other tropical wave, located about 1,200 miles east of the Windward Islands, was producing disorganized showers. Development, if any, will be slow as the system moves west at 15 to 20 mph.

The Tallahassee Democrat

Friday, July 17, 2009

RIP, Walter Cronkite

NPR - Walter Cronkite, the CBS News anchor who famously became the most trusted man in America, died Friday at the age of 92.

For nearly two decades, tens of millions of Americans tuned in to Cronkite to learn "that's the way it is" every night during a rancorous age. Although Cronkite left the anchor's desk at CBS Evening News more than a generation ago, he was still known by many as "Uncle Walter" — the ultimate reliable source, the nation's narrator and the standard by which all other TV news anchors are judged.

NPR audio and Full Story

Monday, July 13, 2009

First Harvest: Avocados in my front yard

Today marks the beginning of the 2009 Avocado Harvest. As noted in a previous post, as of Mother's Day this year, the tree in my front yard was covered with avocados, however, a couple of storms later, I lost quite a few off the tree.

With that said, I do have quite a few nice, large avocados.

I also have two banana trees that will be ready for harvest in the next couple of weeks.

This week, with the help of a neighborhood boy, I plan to get my raised-bed garden ready for an August planting for my 2009-10 Winter Garden.

To see other pictures of the garden and other things going on, please go to my MobileMe Gallery (Click here) for all the updates. You can also see some harvest pictures from last Winter's garden. It was a success!

Friday, July 10, 2009

The On-going Saga of Squeaky's Sleeping Habits

On June 21, 2009, I reported on this blog about Squeaky's strange sleeping habits (See post here). After being on the box of black beans for three weeks, I removed the black beans and put them away and replaced the space with two cases of SANPELLEGRINO (one case Aranciata; one case Limon) and a box of cat food that had just arrived via UPS.

I thought that maybe Squeaky would give up and try some place else to sleep, like he usually does. But, alas, no.

The pictures are worth a thousand words, but I must note, that the catfood box is half the size of the black bean box.





Too Funny.

I must say, however, I am a bit worried. He has been using his liter box rather than going outside. He also threw up once this week. He went outside when I went to get the mail and I thought .. oh, he's okay and went back inside, closing the door behind me. Within 5 minutes he had come back through his door and was laying back on the cans again.

Now, I know he is a South Florida cat, as opposed to Sylvester, who was born and grew up in Virginia, and I have noticed that he stays real close to home during Hurricane Season. He has always had his own access outside.

We are beginning our third Hurricane season together, this year is no different I guess ... but I don't remember him not leaving at all.

Will keep a watchful eye on him.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Flood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince premiered today to mixed reviews. The rain-drenched masses didn't seem to agree with the reviewers of this latest installment due for full release on 15 July 2009.



BBC Reviews
——BBC Story

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Help Wanted

In this global recession, everyone is looking for a job. If you search hard enough, you may find a job that fits your lifestyle. Take for instance, this UK job offering at US$ 80,757.

The witch job that earns £50,000

A Job Centre is advertising a "witch" vacancy with tourist site Wookey Hole, in Somerset, for £50,000 a year.

The witch, who has to live in the site's caves, is expected to teach witchcraft and magic.

Wookey Hole staff say the role is straightforward: live in the cave, be a witch and do the things witches do.

The advert for the post, placed in the local press as well as job centres, says applicants must be able to cackle and cannot be allergic to cats.

Full Story

Drug charge for Potter film actor

Jamie Waylett, 19, who plays bully Vincent Crabbe in the film series, allegedly grew 10 cannabis plants at his home in Kilburn, north London.

He has been in all the Harry Potter films as the right-hand man to character Draco Malfoy.

Mr Waylett will appear in court alongside John Innis, 20, from Barnet, north London, who was charged with possession of 11 bags of cannabis and a knife.

Full BBC Story

Monday, July 6, 2009

First Harvest: The White House Kitchen Garden

July 6, 2009 | WASHINGTON -- It was harvest time for the first wave of crops from the local vegetable garden, so the kids who had helped plant it a few months earlier came back to visit recently. Working with a few professional supervisors under the eye of their host, they pulled up a big bounty: 73 pounds of lettuce, 12 pounds of peas and one cucumber (which had originally been white but was yellow by the time the kids got to it). And then they all went inside to cook, before returning to the garden to eat.

That wouldn't have been particularly newsworthy, of course, except that it all happened at the White House, and the host for the harvest lunch was Michelle Obama. "My hope is that [through] this garden, we can continue to make the connection between what we eat and how we feel and how healthy we are," she told the kids, all from a D.C. neighborhood about three miles from the executive mansion. The harvest a couple of weeks ago was the culmination of a few whirlwind months at the White House, taking the crop from seeds to salads amid a media frenzy.

Full Story

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Only Posting I'll do on Michael Jackson

His music was full of excitement and exuberance ... and none more so as from this tribute by the organist at Trinity Episcopal, Wall Street, in NYC.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Are You Being Served? Actress Dies

Actress Mollie Sugden has died at the age of 86, her agent has said.

The TV star, best known for playing Mrs Slocombe in long-running BBC sitcom Are You Being Served?, died at the Royal Surrey Hospital after a long illness.

Full BBC Story

Monday, June 29, 2009

Good News ... for now

A tropical weather system near Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula is weakening and has a less than 30 percent chance of intensifying into a tropical cyclone over the next 24 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

OBama's First Lei-Day





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Source: The Fix (Washington Post)

HIV travel ban closer to being lifted

The Obama administration has taken the first step in lifting the regulatory ban preventing HIV-positive foreign nationals from entering the United States.

The Office of Management & Budget posted a notice on its web site stating the Department of Health & Human Services finished Friday the research that was needed to start the process of lifting the ban.

Steve Ralls, an Immigration Equality spokesperson, said the notice means a regulation leading toward repeal of the ban would be published Monday.

After the regulation is issued, there will be a 45-day period in which the department takes public comment. After another period of time, during which HHS will review the comments, a final regulation will be issued. Ralls said this second period could take up to 60 days.

"We are hoping that the ban will be lifted … by the end of the year," Ralls said.

Full Story by The Washington Blade via the South Florida Blade

Tropical Wave could be First Named Storm

ZCZC MIATWOAT ALL
TTAA00 KNHC DDHHMM
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 PM EDT SAT JUN 27 2009

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

1. A TROPICAL WAVE OVER THE FAR NORTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA IS PRODUCING SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS FROM THE YUCATAN PENINSULA NORTHEASTWARD TO PORTIONS OF WESTERN AND CENTRAL CUBA. THE LOW-LEVEL CIRCULATION OF THE WAVE REMAINS POORLY-DEFINED...BUT THERE IS STILL SOME POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM ONCE IT MOVES INTO A MORE FAVORABLE ENVIRONMENT OVER THE SOUTHERN GULF OF MEXICO TONIGHT AND ON SUNDAY. THERE IS A MEDIUM CHANCE...30 TO 50 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS. LOCALLY HEAVY RAINS AND GUSTY WINDS WILL CONTINUE TO AFFECT PORTIONS OF THE YUCATAN PENINSULA AND WESTERN CUBA AND COULD SPREAD NORTHWARD TOWARDS SOUTH FLORIDA OVER THE NEXT DAY OR SO.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER BERG
NNNN

Friday, June 26, 2009

What a Hoot!

I don't know which is funnier ... the Obama advisors getting dunked ... or that music!


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Oz Crop Circles Blamed On 'High' Wallabies

Wallabies are getting high on opium from poppy fields and flattening crops, an Australian official has said.

The marsupials have been snacking on poppies growing in fields in Tasmania, the world's largest producer of legally-grown optium for medicines.

Afterwards, they hop round in circles before crashing on top of the crops and trampling them to the ground.

State attorney general Lara Giddings told a parliamentary hearing: "We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles.

"Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high."

Other animals, including deer and sheep, have also been seen "acting weird" after eating the poppy plants, according to an opium industry spokesman.

"There have been many stories about sheep that have eaten some of the poppies after harvesting and they all walk around in circles," Rick Rockliff said.

Tasmania has around 500 farms which supply about 50% of the world's raw material for morphine and other related opiates.

Sky News

RIP, Angel

Actress Farrah Fawcett, who became an icon of 1970s US television, has died of cancer in Los Angeles aged 62, her spokesman has confirmed.

Full BBC Coverage

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

FPL Seeks Rate Hike

This just in:

Florida Power and Light is asking the state for a double digit rate hike.

If approved FPL customers will see an average increase of 12 dollar on their electric bills starting in January. The increase would bring an extra 1.3 billion dollars into the company. Consumer groups are asking the state to deny the increase. AARP spokeswoman Laura Cantwell says the increase would force some seniors to make tough decisions.

“We feel that we need to question Florida Power and Light’s request to increase their profits right now. Florida Power and Light has a guaranteed rate of return of investments, yet they are asking to dig deeper into the pockets of Floridians and seniors, many of whom have lost their retirement savings,”

The Florida Public Service Commission will host several public hearings before it votes on the increase.

Capitol News Service

East Room Reception for Gays at The White House

As advocates for gays and lesbians intensify their criticism of the White House, President Obama has invited some of their leaders to an East Room reception next Monday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, the 1969 Greenwich Village demonstrations that gave birth to the modern gay rights movement.

The White House has not publicized the reception, and officials did not respond to e-mail requests for comment. But gay leaders from here and around the country said they had received either telephone calls from the White House or written invitations to the event, and were told Mr. Obama is expected to speak.

Full New York Times Story

Major Storms cause power outages; Radar Vanishes


We are experiencing major storms today, here in South Florida. This morning, a huge electrical storm left me without power for five and three-quarter hours. As the storm moved South into the Miami area, the storm knock out Miami Radar. It is still down as a new storm comes in from the East (the Atlantic Ocean).

It is still unclear from all weather reports how sever the storm will be, however, local weather stations reporting to weatherunderground.com show steady winds in the area of 17 mph with gusts up to 40 mph and rain falling at a rate of 1.49in/hr.

While I have not lost power during this storm (so far), ATT's DSL Internet is sporadic at best.

This is not a tropical storm and I question our power company, FPL, as to their claims of being ready for this year's hurricane season, which is upon us.

While I can understand why DirecTV's service is interrupted by storms, I do not understand why I should be losing phone service, thus Internet service and electricity, just because it is raining.

I understand that General Electric and FPL have teamed up to build a "Smart Grid" in Miami-Dade County and that resources in South Florida are being tied up installing such a system, but this new grid troubles me. I do not believe the public fully understands the significance this grid is going be on their lives and that if they had full knowledge of what the grid is, there would be more public debate on the subject.

Will discuss the further at a later time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Mango Tree

This is the first year that my Mango tree bloomed. Due to the young age of the tree and the lack of rain this spring, however, it produce only one large, regular size mango and one tiny mango. Here is the picture of the large mango.

New Rules

Good points this week.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Squeaky and the Black Beans

Squeaky has been sitting, squatting and now sleeping on a small 10lb box of Black Beans that I purchased recently at Gordon Food Supply (GFS). Here are shots I took today of just how comfortable he is now as we approach our 2-yr anniversary together on July 1. His rump on the box of black beans ... his head is slump over a box of trash bags and a 5-lb box of Bisquick. (in the Publix bag)

I've been telling people I've been passing out where I sit, seldom actually going to bed as of late. Obviously, Squeaky is now doing the same thing.

Doesn't that look comfortable?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Law Penalizes Soldier Spouses

When soldiers move, their preferred state of residency remains the same. But nothing is constant for a military spouse, meaning a host of new documents, like a drivers license, with each relocation.


Hillary to have surgery.

Washington (AP) June 18, 2009 — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expects to have surgery soon to repair a broken elbow suffered at the State Department headquarters, her spokesman said Thursday. (June 18)


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Who Pooped?

Brought to you by the Minnesota Zoo, a new exhibit examining animals' poop is rolled out with an entertaining website: www.WHOPOOPED.org.

The summer educational exhibit runs through September 7, 2008. Visit the website for a "teaser" quiz.



Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Harvard to Endow Chair in LGBT Studies

From the New York Times:

Harvard University will endow a visiting professorship in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies, a position that, it believes, will be the first endowed, named chair in the subject at an American college.

The visiting professorship was made possible by a gift of $1.5 million from the Harvard Gay and Lesbian Caucus, which will formally announce it at a dinner on Thursday, after Harvard’s commencement exercises. With the gift, Harvard said it would regularly invite “eminent scholars studying issues related to sexuality or sexual minorities” to teach on campus for one semester, according to a draft of a university press release.

The chair is being named for F.O. Matthiessen , a Harvard scholar and literary critic who “stands out as an unusual example of a gay man who lived his sexuality as an ‘open secret’ in the mid-twentieth century,” according to the release.


Full Story

Funeral Home Scandal

From AP:

Authorities revoked the licenses of a South Carolina funeral home and its director after he admitted one of his employees cut the legs of a 6-foot-7 man without the family's permission so the corpse would fit in a casket.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

15 Bean Soup

For the past seven months I have been trying to convince people on POGO (www.pogo.com) and some friends that 15 bean soup exists.

The bean mixture comes in three flavours, as far as I know: Original (ham flavor), Chicken, and Cajun.

I have been enjoying this bean mixture with the added bonus of veggies from my garden, that with harvesting the last of the shallots, has come to an end.

Currently, I have beans soaking, a ham hock thawing and the last of the shallots cleaned and ready (see photo below) to make this hearty soup in my slow cooker.

For all the sceptics out there, go to your grocery store's bean or soup aisle. The bag I have pictured was purchased by my cousin in Virginia and was included in a recent "care package." She has seen the original and Cajun flavours. I have purchased and used the Chicken flavour here in South Florida.

Monday, June 1, 2009

GM joins Chrysler in Chapter 11;
International Partnerships Form

General Motors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection the morning as part of the Obama administration's plan to shrink the automaker to a sustainable size and give a majority ownership stake to the federal government.

GM's bankruptcy filing is the fourth-largest in U.S. history and the largest for an industrial company. The company said it has $172.81 billion in debt and $82.29 billion in assets.

As it reorganizes, the fallen icon of American industrial will rely on $30 billion of additional financial assistance from the Treasury Department and $9.5 billion from Canada. That's on top of about $20 billion in taxpayer money GM already has received in the form of low-interest loans.

GM will follow a similar course taken by smaller rival Chrysler LLC, which filed for Chapter 11 protection in April. A judge gave Chrysler approval to sell most of its assets to Italy's Fiat, moving the U.S. automaker closer to a quick exit from court protection, possibly this week.

The plan is for the federal government to take a 60 percent ownership stake in the new GM. The Canadian government would take 12.5 percent, with the United Auto Workers getting a 17.5 percent share and unsecured bondholders receiving 10 percent. Existing GM shareholders are expected to be wiped out.

Albert Koch, who helped Kmart Corp. through its Chapter 11 reorganization, will serve as GM's chief restructuring officer.


NPR.org Story

In related International News:

Germany has agreed a deal with Magna International, a Canadian car parts maker, to take over Opel, part of the European wing of US carmaker GM.

Talks in Berlin continued into early Saturday before Germany's finance minister announced the rescue deal.

The German government is expected to provide an immediate loan facility of 1.5bn euros ($2.1bn, £1.3bn).

The Magna deal should protect Opel if GM files for bankruptcy protection in the US on Monday, as is expected.

The Canadian company has said it will put more than 500m euros ($700m; £435m) into Opel, which employs more than 25,000 people in Germany.

Significant numbers of workers are also spread around Spain, Belgium, Poland and the UK, where Opel cars are branded as Vauxhall for British customers.

Magna's bid was backed by Russia's state-run bank Sberbank and Russian magnate Oleg Deripaska's truck firm Gaz. The consortium hopes to see GM expand its reach into the Russian market.

BBC News

GREED

In his "New Rules" portion of Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill does an extended OP-ED on Greed and the US.

The comic becomes serious in this extended "New Rules" clip from YouTube.


Inside The Obama White House

NBC Special: Brian Williams takes viewers behind-the-scenes for an insider's look of the Obama White House on Tues., June 2 and Wed., June 3. Both nights will be broadcasted at 9 p.m. ET.

Below is a preview from yesterday's Meet The Press with David Gregory

Special's Website


Thursday, May 28, 2009

And So, It Begins

First tropical depression of the season forms off the mid-Atlantic



The National Hurricane Center in Miami said today that a tropical depression has formed off the mid-Atlantic coast, the first of the Atlantic hurricane season.

The depression, which is off of Rhode Island, is not expected to threaten any land areas and its general movement is expected to continue over the next 24 to 48 hours.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Continuing Saga: Idiots On Parade

Woman allegedly hits guard with baby


MEMPHIS, May 26 (UPI) -- A Tennessee woman who allegedly borrowed a friend's baby to go shoplifting has been charged with abusing the boy by using him to assault a security guard.

Camilla Fields, 26, of Memphis is charged with both child abuse and assault, The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal reported. Police say Fields, who was holding the 2-month-old boy in a car seat, swung it at a Wal-Mart security guard last Wednesday.

The boy's mother, Stacey Cleaves, 26, was outside the store during the incident, police said. She allegedly provided false information about Fields and is charged with false reporting and child neglect.

Investigators say Fields took the baby into a bathroom and pretended to change his diaper, actually concealing stolen items.

When she hit the guard with the car seat, it fell, landing with the baby's face down. She picked it up and ran off, pushing it at the guard.

The boy fell from the seat. Fields drove off, leaving the unconscious baby behind, police said.

The baby was revived by an EMT and a passerby, and taken to a hospital. He was not seriously injured police said.

Cleaves allegedly told police Fields was the boy's aunt and that her name was Darrin.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Our First Lady on TIME Cover

Michelle Up Close is the featured article in this week's TIME Magazine. This story and a photo essay is available in full (and in more detail) online.
Story
Photo Essay.

Excerpt:

It was just two days after the Inauguration when an e-mail went around to Michelle Obama's staff, instructing everyone to be in the East Room of the White House at 3 that afternoon. The First Lady's advisers arrived to find the room filled with ushers and plumbers, electricians and maids and kitchen crew gathered in a huge circle, and Michelle in a T shirt and ponytail, very casual and very much in charge.

"This is my team that came with me from Chicago," Michelle said, pointing to her communications staff and policy people. "This is my team who works here already," she went on, indicating the ring of veterans around the room. Many of the household staff had served for decades; some had postponed retirement because they wanted to serve an African-American President. And so the two groups formed concentric rings and spent the next hour or so making sure that everyone had a chance to meet everyone else. I want you to know that you won't be judged based on whether they know your name, Michelle had warned her advisers. You'll be judged based on whether you know theirs.

... Few First Ladies have embedded themselves so quickly in the world's imagination. And none have traveled so far, not just from Chicago's South Side to the East Wing, but from the caricatured Angry Black Woman of last spring to her exalted status as a New American Icon, as if her arrival will magically reverse eight years of anti-American spitballing, elevate the black middle class, promote family values, give voice to the voiceless and inspire us all to live healthier, more generous lives.

Squeaky and Fleas

My cat, Squeaky, has had quite a time with fleas. He is allergic to all medications that the vet and I have given him. Where ever any kind of flea medication touches his skin/fur, his fur falls out.

I have seen him suffer for the last 8 months with a flea infestation that just brings me to tears.

I am happy to report that I have finally found a solution that seems to be working. I purchased an Ionic Flea Comb from Publisher's Clearing House about a month ago and after the last three weeks of using it every day, his coat looks better and all of this manic scratching and itching has subsided.

The unit shown here, runs on 2 AA batteries and there is a slight high-pitched noise that comes from it. I do not get it near his eyes, mouth and ears, as per the directions that came with the unit. It cost only $15.99 plus $4.95 shipping & handling.

Monday, May 18, 2009

2009 Storm Names

The 2009 Hurricane Season begins June 1.

The Storms will be named:
Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Joaquin, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, Wanda

First Alert in the 2009 Hurricane Season


SPECIAL TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
340 PM EDT MON MAY 18 2009


FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

SATELLITE IMAGERY AND SURFACE OBSERVATIONS INDICATE THAT AN AREA OF DISTURBED WEATHER HAS FORMED OVER EASTERN CUBA...THE SOUTHEASTERN BAHAMAS...AND THE ADJACENT WATERS. SLOW DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SYSTEM IS POSSIBLE DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS IT MOVES GENERALLY NORTHWARD AT 10 TO 15 MPH. AN AIR FORCE RESERVE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT WILL INVESTIGATE THE SYSTEM ON TUESDAY...IF NECESSARY. THERE IS A LOW CHANCE...LESS THAN 30 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

The Revised Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale

The revised Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, as with the original version, has hurricanes rated from a low of 1 to a high of 5. Changes have been made in regards to the descriptions of each level.

Click blog entry title above for full explanation.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cactus in Bloom

When I purchased this home on Plunkett Street four years ago, there were several plants/trees in pots all around the property ... something that I cannot abide. A tree or tropical plant in the sub-tropics should be planted in the ground if you own any kind of lot. This blooming cactus was one of these plants found in a pot.

it was about as tall as it is now, but it only had one set up leaves that were very small and a single bloom. I didn't move it, as it seemed at home next to the mail box; I planted it there.

It loses its leaves in the winter, but rewards in the spring with dark green leaves and lovely white blooms. Even with the lack of rain this year, it was a delight to see the blooms today when I went to get the mail. (click photo for enlargement.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

As the 2009 Hurricane Season Approaches ...

From CNN:

Hurricane categories to drop storm surges, flooding

The National Hurricane Center is no longer including storm surges and flooding in its hurricane categories out of concern that people aren't heeding proper warnings, because the surges haven't always matched the levels predicted in each category.

When Hurricane Ike slammed into the Texas coast last year with Category 2 winds (96-110 mph), it had a storm surge of 15 to 20 feet. That's a level more in line with the scale's description of a Category 5 storm, which has winds greater than 155 mph. A Category 2 hurricane, the Saffir-Simpson scale said, was likely to bring a storm surge of only 6 to 8 feet.

Ike was the third most destructive storm ever to make landfall in the United States. It was responsible for at least nine deaths, eight of which were in Texas.

Full Story

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, 2009

Got my new camera on Friday and I'm still learning how to use it.

For the occasion of Mother's Day, I stepped "inside" my avocado tree in the front yard and snapped this picture.



(Click picture for full view)

Blooms of Plunkett

Blooms of Plunkett
A Banana tree in the backyard in full bloom