A Touch of Fall in the Air

October 19, 2007

Arrived back in St. Louis Wednesday around noon. Tailwind from southern Missouri saved a few gallons of gas and saved me a fee minutes on the road. Fall is definitely in the air in-spite of the unusually warm weather of late. Leaves are mellowing and the changing angle of the afternoon light is noticeable. Last night’s winds cleared the skies and cooled the air to chilly. Very nice.

I’m only in STL for a few days for errands and some paring down of the belongings in the storage pods. Keeping my books, a few pieces of art, and my cookware are the priority. The rest can go in the closest dumpster. Am hoping to be settled into a new cave by November and want to decorate from square one.

Still job hunting but have some nibbles that I hope (at least one) will pan out. I’ve made a number of good contacts at St. Luke’s and MD Anderson in Houston. Cardiology and oncology are now my preferred areas of interest. HIV/AIDS is a field now more appropriate for folks quite unlike me demographically. I had the pleasure of spending the past weekend before hitting the road at the Candlelighters Camp for Kids with Cancer. I’ll have some photos to post and a separate entry on the experience. Very different from my past experiences with HIV/AIDS camp in terms of both facility and approach. High end and very professional. Texas-sized as well.

Got to run. Much more later.

New photo link: http://picasaweb.google.com/jtholste/Fall2007SelectedPhotos

PS: National Public Radio is “pledge-driving” this week. Hope you’ve made your investment wherever you are to this priceless resource.

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A Small Northern Detour

October 10, 2007

Hey all!

As promised, the travel blog is back! I’ll be hitting the road on Monday the 15th of October for a swing through south Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Missouri. I hope to stop in Baton Rouge and Memphis with a long rest stop at Lake Charles LA and Jackson MS. With luck and good weather I should land in STL in time for dinner (late!) on the 17th. Lady P has graciously offered accommodations. Hopefully her three Russian Hounds will welcome me with open paws 😉

Before I can head out I have a few chores and commitments to attend to. I’m still job hunting and doctor shopping (haven’t scheduled the neuro people yet but I won’t get to the surgery until I get back to Houston at the end of the month). In support of the employment search I’ll be volunteering this weekend with the Candlelighters Camp for Kids with cancer and their families. Lots of classy people on the board of this organization and I suspect I’ll be drafted as a long term volunteer type. It will be good to be back, socially speaking, especially from the perspective of a volunteer. No staff duties or responsibilities! I’m really looking forward to being able to complain and whine without having to do anything about my gripes 😉

Pictures, lots of pictures, are pending. Houston, NASA, soccer, a MoveOn.Org protest on the 4th, and all of the new travel pix will start to appear Sunday. Do check in on Monday evening for the first day’s road recap from Baton Rouge!


Coming Back…Soon!

October 7, 2007

Sorry for the long absence. Blog will get re-energized this week as…we’re going back on the road! Watch this space for details!


Road Weary

July 24, 2007

To all-

I think I have a touch of road weariness. Sleep is a bit more difficult at night (rather easy in the middle of the day when chores call), motivation for a variety of tasks swings widely, and I feel like my posterior has grown 2 inches at least in girth from all the hours behind the wheel. This is probably just about where I should be psychologically speaking. The adventure has lost some luster and the reality of being jobless and somewhat homeless is seeping in through the cracks in the windows and doors of my pleasant illusions about life on the road. But…I have gotten a recent boast to my mood. My god daughter and her Mom made their arrival at the cabin in the pines yesterday for a short summer residence while they review eastern colleges. The god daughter will be college bound next September and it only seems like 17 years worth of seconds since she was born 😉

Mom is carrying on with her business while traveling. I’m embarassed to admit that I haven’t made much progress on my own business of finding a path, a vocation, or at least a steady source of income. A new route has engaged my interest based in part on my own brother’s experience with the miltary health system. I’ve always been drawn to social causes and social services; old folks, not for profits, people with HIV/AIDS, drunks and druggies, and various flavors of whacko. Taking the civil service exam and working in the Veterans Administration system may just be a way to balance my complete disagreement with the Bush/Cheney/ghost of Rumsfeld war on everything with my growing concern for the thousands of Vets who will most certainly be left to their own resources after either a change of Administration or the end of the Presidential campaign (when the vets cease to be a political football to be played with in debates of dubious value). Leaving these real heroes to the general indifference of some bureacrats or low-ball bid social work contractors will amount to just another failure in current policy. Thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

Enough introspection. Travel-wise I’m back in New Jersey after a four day stay with my brother on his farm in southern Virginia. Horses, dogs (Blue, Casey, and Maggie), cats, goats, ducks, chickens, Bob the Turkey, and a reptile with no known human name. No painful encounters with any of the animals. My last visit, about 18 months ago, was not so painless. I had gone to Virginia to help my brother recover from a bit of surgery (featuring mutliple screw-ups, infections, and much pain) and to give his wife some relief before she did what the doctors had failed to do. Bailey, a great dane that pesonifies the “great” part in terms of size but who was totally affectionate in an insistent kind of way, took exception to my bending over to fetch up some “medical waste” from my brother’s morning toilet. I suppose my rump reminded him of one of the deer in the area that had escaped his grasp the day before. He did not miss this time and gave me a chomp on the left glut that still aches on the proverbial rainy day. After the inital shock and cascade of profanities, I reteated to the powder room to discover that no skin was broken but the ultimate bruise would cover most of my lower left side (it did). After quite a number of deep breaths and promises to myself that I would have this dog shot, I emerged to find my brother frantically explaining by phone my predicament to his wife and the possible need to fulfill my promise. Bailey, however, was servile, contrite, and just a bit confused by all the commotion. It would seem that his little “love bite” had been misinterpreted. Such is the nature of inter-species communications I suppose. I recovered. My brother did too. Bailey was not shot but, sadly, due to a quirk of his breed, died six months later from an intestinal blockage.

Enough storytelling. The trip to Virginia included stops at both Jamestown (a one day trip with my brother which will be a special memory for me as the two of us just “don’t do that sort of thing”) and Williamsburg. The Jamestown photos are posted and I’ll be working on the Williamsburg captions later today. Both days were perfect for touring. Not too much sun, a breeze on the river, and lower than usual humidities for the Tidewater/Cheasapeake area. The round trip mileage, including a nice detour on the way home to Smithfield, Virginia, came close to 800 miles. So far this voyage I’ve put over 3200 miles on the Focus. It’s running great and will be getting a well deserved oil change before I head back west at the end of this week.

Side note on Smithfield, Virginia: While taking the long way around local route 10 in Virginia to get to Surrey for the ferry to Jamestown, I got a quick tour of the late colonial period town of Smithfield. Better know for it’s processed and packaged meats and nitrites, the Smithfield meat packing facilities reside on a road that I’ve been trying to avoid most of my life. ROUTE 666, the legendary “highway to hell,” courses right down the middle of this, I’m sure, “good christian” town. I can just imagine the Sunday sermons at the local baptist or methodist church.

Enough…finally. More, of course, later.


Catch Up Time

July 17, 2007

To all:

My apologies for the short absence. Recovering from my trip to Silver Spring and Washington, DC took a bit more time than I anticipated. This is primarily due to the sluggishness of a muggy summer setting in compounded by my own search for motivation. I’ll spare everyone the internal dialogue and get on with the travelogue!

The drive down to DC last week, via route 95, was the best “drive” of the trip I think. The weather was beautiful. Southern New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland present hundreds of postcard worthy scenes and the traffic, while moderately heavy, was smooth and swift. The same can not be said for the drive back. One feature that might trip up a resident of St. Louis on this drive, as it almost did to me, is the paying of tolls. Tolls for roads (NJ Turnpike), tolls for bridges (Delaware Memorial), tolls for parts of roads (Delaware Turnpike), and tolls for tunnels (Baltimore).  I had just enough cash (car-wide coin search included) to cover all the fees on the way down to Silver Spring. The total down came to $10.05 and $7.00 on the return trip (I skipped the Turnpikes and the Bridge and took a longer route back to Medford, NJ…it was not worth the savings!).

Baltimore presented a great stopping point for lunch and some photo opportunities. Maryland crab and a burger at the Rusty Skupper on the Inner Harbor post-lunch crowd is the way to go. Driving the scenic harbor route covered all the basic stuff like Fort McHenry and the massive harbor development in progress. A similar development effort is underway on the Wilmington, DE riverfront on a much smaller scale. If you’re a tunnel-phobe you’ll need to take the Baltimore Beltway way west to avoid the harbor crossing tunnels.

The few remaining miles to Silver Spring (see Kathryn, I can spell it consistently without the extra “s”) went quick and led to the only traffic of the day at the exit for the University of Maryland. My hosts, fellow godparent Kathryn and her husband Steve, scored a major bit of real estate luck in finding a great house in Silver Spring just minutes from the Metro and downtown Silver Spring (a ‘tres funky, artsy deco, mingling spot for a range of ages and ethnicities). I’m sure they will be able to retire on the sale of this home in a decade or two!

Annabelle and William, the kids of the house, provide enough energy to light most of Silver Spring. Boundless is perhaps the word I could use. How Steve and Kathryn keep up is a mystery to me. I did have some nice “table time” with them Friday night and Saturday morning. Steve was very helpful in letting me blather on about some grant ideas that I have and hope to run by him in a few months related to science education. No one better suited to the task as he is one of the major project managers on the upcoming (August 2008) final servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. After the Apollo landing on the Moon, Hubble ranks in my mind as NASA’s greatest achievement. Below is a link to a recent article on www.space.com related to the mission:

http://www.space.com/news/061013_hubble_cost.html

I’ve included pictures from Baltimore, Silver Spring, and DC on my google picture site: http://picasaweb.google.com/jtholste

I’ll save my thoughts on DC for a separate piece as it was, in its own way, as overwhelming as NYC. Both places have a distinctive “gravity” unlike any other place I’ve been. Meanwhile, enjoy the photos and feel free to share the blog address with anyone you care to. And comments, BTW, are always welcome. Job offers too!


A Late Night Update

July 10, 2007

Hot day in Medford Lakes and a hotter one tomorrow. Makes for nocturnal reading, writing, and (sadly) eating. Being healthy with a little hummus and pita break. I was finally able to track down a new memory card for the camera and salvage a few photos from NYC. Unfortunately about 25 shots were lost including some great ones of the Brooklyn Bridge. A good enough excuse to go back for another visit, I say! Those photos, of the Hayden Planetarium, a single selection from the celebrated Central Park, and a woman cooking was all that survived the battery flame up during my Water Taxi ride in NYC and are posted on the photo site. I suspect I am the culprit; opening and closing the camera lens to protect the lens from river spray overheated things a bit. I’ve learned my $19.95 lesson!

More travels upcoming: Beltsville Maryland and DC, southern Virginia and my brother’s tree farm, and quick visits to Baltimore and Richmond over the next week. Am looking forward to seeing friends in Beltsville. He (Steve) works for NASA and she (Kathryn) is a physical therapist and my goddess daughter’s god mother. Will try to interest Steve in working on an educational grant to design a secondary education course to specifically teach evolution as a science elective rather than just as a part of a biology class (where, surprisingly, it gets low billing and is often muddled and mis-handled). Another possibility is to design in school “science academies” in climate change and space exploration. Might try to interest that famous astronomer, Jeremy Perkins, in a bit of that project!

I promise more pictures (and a little less politics) during the coming week!

Editor’s Note: I stand corrected. Uncle Steve and Aunt Kathryn no longer live in Beltsville MD. They have moved up the real estate ladder and now reside in Silver Springs. Seems they slipped out of town a few years back. This, of course, explains why my Xmas cards to them have been returned the last two years! Time to update the address book.


A Summer Fit for Impeachment

July 7, 2007

It’s a simmering Saturday night in Medford Lakes, the Starbucks is in slow mode, and I’ve awakened from a sleepy day to hold forth on something in this blog. My email sometimes provokes me. Today I received mail from two social active groups related to impeachment; one supporting House Resolution (HR) 333 to impeach the Dick Cheney and another suggesting that Commando-in-Chief Geo. Bush’s commutation of “Scooter’s” sentence for his part in the Valerie Pflame is grounds for impeachment (amongst a dozen other “high crimes and misdemeanors.”) The order of removal is probably important in the grander scheme of things; Cheney before Bush would give us our first female president, Nancy Pelosi. The other way is too frightening to consider. Dick Cheney ascending to the most powerful job in the world is nightmare material for many an American ally and citizen. Seems VP Cheney serves as the ultimate protector for his boss regardless of what branch of US government he really thinks he runs.

Is impeachment of either likely? No but not for the reasons suggested by most Democrats and pundits. The focus on the future, no time for revenge, get out of Iraq course of the democratic leadership is certainly sane. No long hearings, expensive investigations, pompous presentations on Presidential purpose and image, or fashion shows of Brooks Brothers suits marked with the sweat of late night energy scam sessions and “Kill Sadam” rallies in the West Wing. Sigh…were are you Monica when we need real entertainment? Howard Dean is obviously on his meds as he should be in fever pitch for a fight to remove…somebody. Some of us took personally the attempted lynching of Bill Clinton and the obscene parade of lies about lies, sickening self-righteousness, and Henry HYDE! Some of us want a little “hide” from Henry’s party for its hypocrisy and willingness to derail a properly elected President from office for private moral failings. Have you been to Washington recently? Glass houses on every block and personal moral failing abound. Right, Henry?

No there won’t be an impeachment because most Democrats and Progressives see the White and control of Congress as a strong possibility of the 2008 elections. Twice as many Republic seats are open in 2008 than in 2006. The field of Democratic candidates is finally strong (and potential vital for at least the next 8 years).  I suppose this is reason enough to control my own lust for a little revenge and maybe, just maybe, upcoming hearings on everything from unconstitutional wiretapping, firing of federal prosecutors, war profiteering, energy manipulation, and personal financial gain will satisfy the desire for public accountability. Maybe. But I really want to see some of these people in jail. Long terms. No Paris Hilton accommodations. No commutations. No criminal book deals. Just gray walls, bars, bad food, and a right living Muslim cellmate named Osama. Yeah, that’s definitely better than some old impeachment.

Think positive thoughts!

Post Script, July 9: I’ve added a new link to the “blogroll” in the right column. “Truth Out” is an easy to read news service of “alternative media” and  columnists that may be of interest to some. I was scanning the site today and caught an news piece detailing the surprising upturn in sentiment for impeachment. A recent poll found that 45% of Americans beleive the House should commence impeachment hearings as a result of the Libby commutation and other issues.