Friday, February 27, 2009

Don't tease me now....(dogblogging too)

For the last few days, amidst all the justified doom and gloom, there's been a ray of hope, at least for many local residents. Yesterday, the Senate has passed a D.C. voting rights measure, which is expected to go to the floor of Congress early next week. This matter has been moving along quickly since President Obama took office. What a difference a few days make!

This bit of good news being dangled in front of our faces is almost too good to be true--because you know someone's going to introduce a challenge to it. In the meantime, the near possibility of D.C. residents having a full vote on the floor of the House almost has me looking like poor Stains the dog of Animal Planet fame, as the object of desire is so near, yet so far...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wasting no time...

Downtown today the requisite piece of D.C. street theater, a protest, took place, albeit with modifications.

Gitmo protestors crossing K StreetThe difference in tactics this time was that traffic was not stalled and the protesters themselves were silent. Perhaps this is what caused us onlookers to actually pay attention to what was being protested, the continuing embarrassment and atrocity that is Gitmo.

This protest, coming on the heels of Attorney General Holder's visit to Guantanamo Bay, is timely, and an admirable example of Americans exercising our constitutional rights.

* * *

Now, if only D.C. residents could get their full right of representation. That dream is coming closer to a reality, but a roadblock has been thrown in. A Nevada senator, John Ensign, wants to amend the bill that would grant D.C. a representative by weakening D.C.'s current gun control regulations. Huh? What is it with congressmen who are not from the Washington region--why do some of them seem to have a need to screw D.C.? Oh, aren't Republicans the ones usually complaining that voting in Congress has become too complicated, that they should be able to vote straight up or down on bills without riders? Hypocrites!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Metro matters...

What a coincidence--Lena Sun must have been working on one of her periodic Post articles on the continuing failure of the Metro board to be accountable when Thursday's monster orange and blue line delay was taking place.

While area commuters should consider as many different forms of transportation as possible, we shouldn't all be pushed to the following mode because of bureaucratic incompetence and indifference:
rack of shiny new bikes for Smart Bike DC usersYet again, it is exposed that half of the Metro board is a kitchen will not eat its own soup, so why are these people on the board? Particularly insulting is the statement that "taking transit is inconvenient for their jobs." What do they think of fellow board member Catherine Hudgins, who got caught in Thursday's delay on her way to a Metro meeting--that she and other Metro riders take transit for entertainment purposes only? Sheese!

Also sickening is that many of these people don't even bother to pay for their parking spaces. This is a "problem" that's easy to fix, if board members were so inclined; when I had reserved parking at a Metro lot, the fee was charged to my credit card. Payment quandary solved. Next!

Most disgusting of all, and related to the fact that so many Metro board members do not take public transit on a regular basis, is that when there is a budget shortfall, their first instinct is to propose service cuts, instead of first attempting to find ways to make other cuts and raise additional funds. Service cuts are risky in that they undermine the reason for public transit's existence in the first place, to offer an alternative to relying on the car.

Now, raising additional funds need not mean raising the fare. As a first resort, how about the board doing something it's been criticized for not doing in the past--upping the fee for its deal with the wireless carrier Verizon, which is paltry compared to the fees other cities receive for similar deals? I suppose broaching such options involves too much mental creativity. Sigh.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Up in a down time...

Finally, a bit of good news for these gloomy times...Obama signed the economic stimulus package into law in Denver yesterday. Woo hoo! While he cautioned that it's not an instant panacea to our economic plight, it's a good start.

Even before he signed the package into law, Obama's coming to office has itself been an unofficial economic stimulus program, keeping the economy from sliding even lower. Certainly, his presence has been a boon to area businesses, and to other entrepeneurs looking to make a quick buck, from this...

Barack Obama doll to this...

Obamas image on a custard bean pie label Argggghhh...

* * *

More good news...D.C. is closer than ever to obtaining a vote in Congress, legislation that Obama co-sponsored in the Senate in 2007. (Perhaps even more shocking is that yesterday's New York Times editorialized in favor of the measure.) Change we can believe in, indeed.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Not again...the tragedy in Buffalo

Those frightening scenes from Buffalo, all those lives gone aflame, literally, make me sad and angry. Sad for obvious reasons, but also angry because yet again, another commuter plane goes down, with fatal results.

A Continental Connection plane, from the commuter plane arm of Continental Airlines, made the fatal collision into a home, killing one of its occupants, as well as all on board the plane.

While many tout statistics that air travel is the safest form of travel (which is comparing apples and oranges, if you're comparing air travel with traveling on the road, as airplanes are really for intercontinental travel), they often ignore the seemingly obvious--that a disproportionate amount of the fatal air collisions involve a commuter plane. Many people may have noticed this sad trend because it seems to be celebrities that are often affected by such crashes--Aaliyah, Buddy Holly (whose fans recently celebrated the 30th year of his death by tinker plane), and the list goes on, regrettably.

I'm inclined to agree with P.A.'s comments in today's New York Times regarding the collision:

The airlines should not be permitted to use smaller planes to fill gaps...

The fliers purchased tickets on a major airline and were put on a two propeller plan
in a high wind area to save the airline money...

Buffalo in winter is a known dangerarea [sic] for two propeller plane. This should be illigeal [sic] if it is not.

Not the airline for which people signed on.

Wrong, on every level.

* * *

Thinking of Aaliyah...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Warm days, colds stay?

Getting a bit spoiled by this recent streak of warm weather, and plan to take advantage of it again today.

Unfortunately, just because we get a few days of spring preview weather like today's...

sunrise photo by Vicky Brock via Flickr(Flickr photo by Vicky Brock)

doesn't mean you can't fall prey to nasty microbes. Yesterday, my sinuses were plaguing me something awful--the air is still dry, so with the roller-coaster temperatures, it can be prime time for developing an upper respiratory infection. Yuck!

Thus, I was intrigued by a health feature in yesterday's New York Times, "The Claim: Never Blow Your Nose When You Have a Cold," if only because it confirmed my own experience--blowing my nose when I had a cold only made me more stuffed up and miserable! However, the "proper method" mentioned near the end of the article is odd, to blow one nostril at a time. Huh? How is that even possible? No thank you, I'd rather rely on nasal irrigation methods, which keep me uncongested, and often even ward off infections. (Using neti pots is one of several methods of nasal irrigation.)

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Super stew for a super day...

I really don't care about either of the teams playing in today's Super Bowl, so I can't get that excited over it. However, the weather was something to be happy about, as the temp is currently over 50 degrees F, making scenes with snow increasingly rare (at least until Tuesday).

sun shining through trees with snow on ground
On the other hand, Super Bowl or not, a nice bowl of chili, which can be whipped together in record time, is always a tasty meal choice which can be made with ingredients that you may already have on hand.

Quick Meaty Veggie Chili (serves 4)

1 tsp. canola or other vegetable oil
half a green bell pepper, chopped
one small onion, chopped
another tsp. canola oil
6 oz. (half a bag) of Morningstar brand veggie crumblies
1 tsp. chili powder, plus more if desired
dash chipotle powder (optional)
dash smoked paprika (optional)
16 oz. can pinto or black beans, opened (but not drained)
16 oz. can diced tomatoes, opened (but not drained)
salt to taste

In a small pan, heat the first teaspoon oil over medium heat, then add green bell pepper and stir around until softened, then add the onion. Stir over the heat until it, too, is soft. Microwave the crumblies for 60 seconds, then set aside.

In a dutch oven or other large casserole, heat the second tsp. oil over medium heat, then add the crumblies, bell pepper, onion, and the chili powder (and the other two spices, if using), then stir for a minute. Dump the beans and their liquid into the mixture, stir, then add the diced tomatoes with their liquid and stir. Add salt if desired, and/or more chili powder, if stew still needs a kick. Stir occasionally, until heated through.

Serving suggestion: Nice with chopped avocado on top. Serve alongside corn-based carbohydrates such as cornbread or tortilla chips/strips.

Watershed moment?

I thought I might faint while participating in the Sunday morning pastime of watching the public affairs programs, Meet the Press and such, after seeing an ad from the SEIU in favor of promoting healthcare reform which was co-sponsored by such diverse organizations as PhRMA and the AMA. Apparently, President Obama's not the only one demonstrating a willingness to reach across the aisle to get things done.

The ad, To Help the Economy, Fix Health Care.

Wonders never cease!