Walking, losing weight and taking photos of life in Virginia.

Posts from the ‘Richmond’ category

Blue Moon August 20 Not Two Full Moons In A Month


I was hiking downtown last evening and admiring the full moon. It’s called a Blue Moon and not because there are two full moons in August. There will be only one full moon this month. But there will be four full moons this summer, an unusual occurence. And the third is called a Blue Moon so that the last can still be called the Late Moon.

NPR and StarDate led us down the wrong celestial path in 1980 according to the article I just read by suggesting that the term meant there were two full moons in a month.

In any case, it was a beautiful moon with wispy clouds framing it and a cool breeze to make watching it more enjoyable.

Walking with the Central Virginia Trailblazers is always fun and I look forward to being with them and sometimes meeting new people. Last night I walked with a lady who has recently joined our group. Her name is Chris and she and I share several things in common. We both have degrees in English Literature and we both have worked in the field of social work.

Last night we also spend time viewing a painting on a rock adjoining Belle Isle of a skull about 8 or 10 feet in circumference that commemorates the Grateful Dead band. Apparently they used to party here after concerts back in the 1980’s. Here is a FB page about it.

Thanks to Jim Dimmette for this photo of me and the gang.
So it was a fun evening and thanks to Jim Dimmette, our group leader, for organizing the 4 mile hike and sharing some local lore with us.

Volvo Self-drive Convoy / Drones Giving Traffic Tickets / How Do We Use The Rest Areas?

A few months ago we were coming back from northern Virginia on I95 and almost to Richmond when I noticed an object fly overhead from left to right.   It was perhaps 500 feet above the highway and not very large.   It was bigger than a bird and not as large as a golf cart.  What was it?  Could it have been a drone?

There has been lots of talk about drones in the news lately.  Are they allowed to shoot us, for example?  There seems to be some question about this.  The example that is used is a commercial airplane that is being used for destructive purposes.  It may be full of innocent men, women and children but what can you do?  Or, so goes the argument.   Fortunately, it seems to me, technology will make this argument irrelevant in the near future.  Because there soon will be (or already is) the means for one moving vehicle to control the actions of another moving vehicle.

Volvo’s self-drive ‘convoy’ hits the Spanish motorway

“A convoy of self-driven cars has completed a 200km (125-mile) journey on a Spanish motorway, in the first public test of such vehicles.

The cars were wirelessly linked to each other and “mimicked” a lead vehicle, driven by a professional driver.


The so-called road train has been developed by Volvo. The firm is confident that they will be widely available in future.

The project aims to herald a new age of relaxed driving.”

So there you go!

I can see the day when the metal bird that was covering the northern entrance to our fair city  notices a driver (not me of course) speeding down the road and swoops alongside the driver’s window.   A LED screen on the thing lights up and the big orange smiley face  turns into an even larger frown.  Again and again.  Then our fascinating new friend sends out a signal and begins slowing the car while writing a ticket and sending it up to an official, government cloud somewhere. If reckless driving or suspicion of DUI is involved it may even move the vehicle into the emergency lane and turn off the ignition. Lock the doors with the hapless subject still inside and send out all those brilliant blue lights to warn oncoming traffic until the police arrive.

In theory a similar sort of routine would work in the sky where the stakes are much higher (no pun intended).

This is where we are going, sports fans. It’s not a happy thought. And I’m still wondering about one problem that seems too difficult to resolve at the moment. Let’s say you are part of the Volvo convoy heading down the highway with the family. You are talking to someone on Skype while the wife and kids pursue their own software adventures on their computers. No one is talking to each other, of course. This is a family outing. Suddenly your son hears nature’s call and he cannot wait! He MUST go! There’s a rest stop in five miles  but you are in the middle of a 12 car tandem. What happens next?

It’s time to go…

Ghost Tour / Richmond Virginia / Post Election Ramblings

So here we are a day after the erection, oh wait, sorry, election and I’m catching up on some writing because I have been in a time warp.  Day dreaming.  Imagining things.  Once, long ago, I participated in a campaign for George McGovern in a small way, handing out campaign buttons in Harvard Square.  A well dressed older man approached me with a scowl on his face.  Probably there was some concern written on mine.  But then, as he came within a foot or two he broke out in a wide, friendly smile and gathered up some of my materials.  He was playing with me and I will always remember him, whoever he was.  Mr. McGovern, of course, went on to lose the election and Tricky Dick was with us for awhile until the fateful day when he boarded the helicopter and left us, forever.

You never know how things are going to turn out (is my point).  Things can look pretty bad and then  the sun breaks out.  Or, you can feel like things are going swell and suddenly the well caves in and you are left without water..

We will just have to wait and see how things go.  I am happy this morning to say my eye appointment went well, yesterday.  I do not have a spot of cancer in my left eye.  But I am now convinced that it is important to have regular eye exams.  They are not just to correct vision problems.  If you are seeing well it doesn’t mean you don’t need to see someone for years and years.  There is also a correlation, I discovered, between small areas in the eye, called “bear tracks”, and colon cancer.  Coincidentally, I have been worried about bears and their tracks, sleeping out in the woods in the past year.  Now it’s clear I should have been more concerned about events behind the scenes.

Every day is an adventure as I try to find a peaceful place to “hang out”.  Monday evening a group of Trailblazers went downtown to an Irish Pub for dinner and then took a tour of some ghostly places associated with historic events in the Richmond area.  It was pretty much fun and good exercise too.  I took a photo of the governor’s home next to the Virginia Capitol building that clearly shows a ghostly orb surrounding an upstairs window.  And, while we were standing in this area the gate suddenly creaked upon giving us a momentary scare until the guard mentioned we should probably move and let  Governor McDonnell’s  car go on its way.

Surprise!  Everyone laughed.  We are easily fooled, it seems and we should probably not worry about too much.  Things will turn out differently than we hope or expect.  It’s how we determine to live our lives that is important.  And we should keep smiling, for sure, while we walk every day and talk to our favorite ghosts.
Things will sort themselves out.  They always do.  Here are some photos of our ghost tour.

A Sunday Hike Around Richmond

Sunday.  Day of rest.  Day for watching football on the tube.  And, for some of us, a day to hike nine miles around the James River.  Here are some bridges for taking photos of the Richmond skyline.  Here are some flowers bowing out after a hot, humid summer.

It did not rain.  We thought it might and the clouds were with us while we walked.  But it was weather you can enjoy without a thought.  I brought some rain gear in my pack but it stayed there.  The only thing that came out of it was a Cliff bar as we sat and rested a short while at the halfway point.

I enjoyed talking with some of the other hikers.  Some of them I have seen a few times now.  I’m not the new guy anymore.  We walk and talk.  We exercise together.  We don’t sit at home watching the tube on a Sunday afternoon.

And I took some photos.  The Richmond skyline in this light was interesting so I stopped and spent some time with it.  I didn’t think about much of anything.  We walked over a worn, wooden footbridge and I thought “What if it gives way, today?  What if I end up in the riverbed below?”   But it was not my time to go.

I was hardly tired at the end of our walk but my clothes were wet with sweat and then the cool air embraced them and then it started to work on my muscles.  I thought, “It would be nice to have another shirt now in the trunk of the car”, as we all said good-bye and headed home.

Back here once again, I took a hot shower and muscles sang with pleasure.  Soap ran over skinny arms, skinny legs and a stomach that is so far diminished it is difficult to believe, sometimes, that it belongs to me.  I dressed in clean, dry clothes and sat down to the computer with a cold beer and some Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Potato Chips. It was now time to watch some football.

And realize I attended a service of sorts today.  It was in nature’s cathedral and the peaceful song of the river running around us was precious.  It was the song in our veins, our arteries and the glow in our brains.  It was happiness.  And all the children sang.

Thank you for the trees
And the geese that sing
Thank you for this wondrous
Art. And for so many things.
Autumn soon will find us here
Laughing in the breeze,
And we will know it
In our hearts,
As we remember Spring,
As we remember many things.

Here are the photos I took today.



Paul Ryan And Friends At Deep Run HS / Photos Of The Pols / Virginia In The News

So Virginia is a battleground state this time around and Paul Ryan was nearby this morning at a local high school. I decided to head up that way to get some photos knowing that I would not hear anything new but wondering about the vibe and hoping I wouldn’t have to stand in one spot for more than two hours.

Well, I was disappointed in that last hope because I stood in one spot for 2 hours and 30 minutes. It was about thirty feet from the podium in the gymnasium surrounded by media types and uplifted basketball nets. Early entrees got to sit in the bleachers but they also were confined to viewing the butt-end of various politicians (for the most part). I did see the full frontal versions and managed to take some good shots of the Republican crew.

First of all let me say that I am not a Republican or a Democrat. Or, even a Libertarian, for that matter. I have views that would find homes in each of these parties but do not have the will to fashion myself into an apparatchik. I am socially liberal but definitely worried about a 16 trillion dollar debt (and no budget plans for the past three years) and eventual (or not so eventual) hyperinflation and anarchy of various sorts.

I like order and am fond of our founding fathers, especially George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who lived in these parts and left us with a love for liberty and all the problems freedom can engender. I love Virginia. And I hope we can get our house in order so we remain free and all our savings are not wiped out. I have a sneaking suspicion that there are people out there who don’t really care about this and are just hoping and praying the whole house of cards comes tumbling down so we can start over again. It may even be the case that the current resident of the White House who has a distinctly anti-colonial upbringing harbors some unconscious wishes in this direction. I must admit that if my ancestors were subjected to slavery I might have similar thoughts. But they weren’t (either were Obama’s). They were undoubtedly persecuted by some king from wherever and so I’m not in favor of European sovereignty! Even in its present incarnation (socialism!). I want to be free, dammit! And the past is gone. Let’s live in the present and prepare for the future.

So here are some photos. The first one is of The Honorable William T. “Bill” Bolling, Lieutenant Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia.



This is Bill Bolling’s compassionate expression (from what I can tell). It’s slightly scary and I wouldn’t want to be subjected to it at close range.


Bill spoke for awhile and then we had a speech from the Congressman from the 1st district in Virginia, Rob Wittman. He’s a reliably conservative guy but not as handsome as the following speaker, our governor, Robert F. McDonnell or “Bob” as he is known to the general population.

Here’s another photo of Bob. I really think he has some good looks. I’m not attracted to him because I don’t swing that way but I was surprised because he doesn’t look quite as good on the tube. Hopefully this photo demonstrates his attractiveness. He speaks well too. He’s a little short. But nobody is perfect. And there’s nothing wrong with being a little person either.

At this point I had been standing in the same spot for a long time (hours) and was doing little exercises while trying not to touch the people around me. I was also thanking the Baby Jesus that I had somehow found the willpower to lose fifty pounds and wondering (I must admit with a little shame) if a tax of the general population based on weight instead of wealth might do something to whip the country into shape and feed the insatiable desire of government to spend money it has not earned.

Surprisingly, at this moment we had a little break when I would have predicted Bob ending his speech with a rousing introduction of Paul (Ryan). But he just left and there was this space (in time) when the audience (perhaps) wondered if Bob didn’t want to introduce Paul because he (Bob) had not been chosen to be VP and Paul had been chosen. I was wondering about this anyway (while doing a little exercise to loosen my lower back muscles that I hoped would not be misinterpreted by the lovely lass standing next to me). But Paul Ryan did appear after a few minutes and he gave a thoughtful talk about our current situation. He didn’t really whip people up but, maybe, that’s a good thing. We need thought at this juncture, not emotion, and one can only remember certain characters in history who were good at stirring things up but lacked the wisdom to do anything productive with the end result.

Here are some photos of Mr. Paul Ryan in action.



This is Paul looking into the future in sort of a dreamy way. Maybe he is imagining his new life as VP up there in the Observatory. I like folks who can dream.



Here is the standard Paul Ryan “look”. He’s definitely a fit guy. His hairline is almost too good (are we in Munster territory here?) and he likes to talk about fishing and hunting. I’m thinking an encounter with a bear in the woods would be awesome and probably lead to Daniel Boone references in the history books.


Here’s a closeup of Paul demonstrating how tough he can be when coming face to face with a bear or dealing with the difficult problems we face and will solve (he promises) in the coming years. Let’s face it. We face very difficult problems. Bear size problems. But it’s clear Paul is in shape and ready to go. I’m not so sure about our present VP who may be in the early stages of dementia. What happens if he is called upon to be the President! I may have to go out into the woods and live with the bears.



And here’s my last photo of Mr. Ryan vividly depicting his blue (gray?) eyes and the matching blue shirt along with an “OMG!” expression. Eyes wide open often depict surprise. This could be the moment when he first sees the bear. Or, it could be one of those moments after the election when he suddenly arrives at an understanding of the depths of the trouble we are in. The bottomless morass. I have watched a parade of candidates talking, talking, talking since 1960 and no matter what they say, or how good they appear to be, the path has continued to go from pillar to post and greater debt, greater depravity and more hopelessness in regards to the state of our great nation.
I wish you well, young man. I pray for you. And I am happy to say that I some point I will, as will we all, leave this place for a spiritual realm of greater freedom and love. If you get this job it will break your heart. Read some Shakespeare when you have a moment. And remember to go out in the woods and listen to the sounds of creatures who will be here long after we all have departed.

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