Friday, March 11, 2016

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Athena is Dead


This morning I heard a big crash on the floor when I was asleep.  Hours later when I woke up, Athena was nowhere to be found.

I finally found her. She had flown into a glass vase and hit her head hard.

The same day that Joe Paterno died, Athena is dead.

We will sorely miss her.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Where were you on 9/11?



We were conducting routine flight operations off the balmy coast of Southern California -- in the distance the coastal mountain range of Santa Ana where the blistery, dry winds blew from the deep canyons -- when our lives were instantly shattered and forever changed.

On that gray September day, I woke up like any other, switched on the remote to see whether my Braves still remained on top of the Major Leagues and whether the Chargers would start Drew Brees or Doug Flutie as quarterback during the regular season.

Strange, I thought, as I started my morning ritual of shaving, brushing and dressing.  One of the twin towers was hit by an errant airplane.  What kind of idiot would do that?

In the wardroom, I polished up my continental breakfast while participating in the obligatory morning gossip with friends.

"What's up PAO?"  The yellow-shirted flight deck officer chuckled as we bumped knuckles.

"Not a thing, Shooter.  Hoping for a slow day and a nice weekend in port. Got lots of tours, but also time with my little one. How are your catapults?"

"Well, we're flying aren't we? We got lots of steam enough to send a MAC truck flying 100 miles."

"Super, save some steam for my DVs.  So, I hear the Chargers are finalizing on a starting quarterback. Do you think Brees will fly or go down the Ryan Leaf road?"

[DVs or Distinguished Vistiors is the Navy program to expose community members to the role of the aircraft carrier.  The DVs are flown aboard the plane and spend a night on board before taking off again the next day]

"Nah, Brees is quality stuff man. Still can't get over the Bolts picking Leaf over Hasselbeck. I've got a lot of hope pegged on this year, though."

"Aha, gotta run. Got a big tour to plan this weekend -- Navy Leaguers and VFW."

A small cadre of junior officers from both the ship's company and air wing created a weekly "fantasy football wing" aboard the carrier.  It took a lot work sometimes following the performance of each player, but it built camaraderie, and these were the same officers that I worked with regularly when hosting distinguished visitors for a 24 hour visit to watch carrier flight operations out at sea.

I grabbed a mug of java then made my leisurely stroll across the hangar bay to my office on the second level of the ship's island to start the day's work of planning media visits and shipboard tours.  As the newest aircraft carrier in the west coast, we had a plethora of inport tour requests from veterans groups to students, some requesting for specific things to see.  But every tour, no matter what the scope or size stopped in the Stennis Room to honor the living legacy of one of the greatest senators of all time: Senator Stennis, the Statesman who served in the US Senate for 41 years until 1989 and coined the ship's mantra: "Look Ahead."

By this time, I had almost forgotten all about the World Trade Center.  When I arrived at the office, my entire division of three journalists and a Senior Chief Petty Officer were already there, but instead of reading email or editing the ship's paper, their eyes were glued to the TV. The second tower was now ablaze and the sky all around southern Manhattan was filled with a huge plume of smoke.  

My Beloved Mac Book Pro

Ok, so when my car was broken into last week on Emancipation Day.  I looked sadly into my car and was aghast to see my backpack stolen -- inside my beloved 15" MacBook Pro.

There was some consolation.  When electronics get stolen, you pray that there is a newer model out -- mine was two years old, and this time I was in luck.

Parked along 17th Street, NW


This Februrary, Apple released their new line of MacBook Pros with faster processors, more powerful graphics processors, an HD camera and a new port for something new and something cool: Thunderbolt.

Although, the new Macs look exactly the same as previous models, they boast Intel processors that are dual and quad core chips -- twice the performance of earlier models.

On the 15 and 17-inch models, Apple boosted the graphics with an AMD Radeon graphics chip which switches smoothly from one processor to the other, depending on use.

So, with these great options, what are the best choices:

I would go with the 15 or 17 inch, not the 13-inch.  In terms of speed, the 17 inch version is much faster, something I would notice with all the applications I use, simultaneously.

But there is one big drawback to the 17 inch.  The screen is way big which is good for programming -- but Yikes! it won't fit in my backpack -- well just barely.

And, no I don't want to walk around town with my MCB sticking out my bag -- the last thing I want to do is become another target.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Gung Hay Fat Choy to the Happy Hare

Colin misses Chinatown LA.  There's so much more to do there, the dim sum is better priced, the pork dumplings are juicier and yes, even the sushi is fresher.

But apart from jetting cross country, we had to settle for the subdued rhythm and complacency of New York's uncultured second cousin.

For the rest of the year, visiting Chinatown DC equates to rooting for  the ruinous Wizards only to have your hopes dashed once and again or keeping up with the latest fashion or decoration trend trend at American Apparel or Bed and Bath.

Up ahead, the two brand new electronic billboards flash colorful displays of anything from cell phones to upcoming sporting events.

So there's not much China in Chinatown anymore.  Back before the Verizon Center revitalized this once edgie ethnic enclave,  Chinatown stretched 9 blocks from Judiciary Square to the old Convention Center (now a huge parking lot). It was a family-oriented neighborhood, and over the years as development encroached, the boundaries started getting squeezed.

Yes, there's still scores of authentic Chinese restaurants where you see the denizens of the old Chinatown still carrying out the day's business or mingling around eating jook with ginger and drinking hot tea, the kind that warms your soul on a nippy winter day.


This is the year of the Hare. One of the highlights of Chinese new years are the firecrackers, and one of the most spectacular things is the Dragon Dance. Today we saw three Dragons sparring with each other in the middle of the Boulevard.










                                                                                  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tequila Chito's


On my way back from the NYC Marathon, I stumbled upon something, I've never seen before in my entire life-- a restaurant with my name on it.  No, better -- a restaurant named after me.

After running a grueling race, my appetite had not yet returned, but needless to say, this was one venue I couldn't let go.


I enjoyed the burger, fries special and it was washed down succulently with a cold bottle of Corona light.

The owner wasn't in town -- was visiting relatives in Mexico, so I took a picture posing with Christina, my bartender, instead.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

TS Nicole: Ode to a Storm

Normally I hate tropical storms. They knock down trees, flood basements and lose power.

But now with my newfound love of SUP, I wait for you at the end of the pier, every day, every single hour

Tropical Storm Nicole brought strong winds, heavy rain
I dash out to the Potomac ecstatic, feeling soundly insane


I crossed the Douglass Bridge and turned right at Nationals Park, 
I launched my board at the sparkling Diamond Teague Pier, designed to make the southeast waterfront spark.


The Anacostia River, grimy, polluted and brown
Normally I would grimace, my face wrinkled in a bitter frown


But today I was elated, the wind right behind my back
And I paddled gleefully down the Anacostia on a broad reach tack (wind to my starboard quarter)


The trick to running a downwind is to ride the swells and not lose balance. 
It's all about focus, not your strengths or your talents.


Normally swells are long and steady and ragged like a mop.
But today, the swells were gusting and tall, full of ripples and chop.


Soon, I decided to give in and not work any longer
As I past by the National airport, the waves grew higher and the winds blew stronger.

I shut my eyes, felt the breeze and let the river take me home.
I was in Heaven on the Potomac, surrounded by towering swells, just me, my board alone.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Three Girls and a Bird

I am clearly not your average guy.  For starters, if you read my background and saw all the traveling I did as a kid, you would think that my last name is Barnum & Bailey.

But I have a confession to make -- I am living with three beautiful (single) women.  No, I'm not in love with any of them.  No, I'm not gay, either, but I have a lot of gay friends.

I served in the military for 20 years, and I regret many of my friends and shipmates had to lie to serve their country.

Meet Apollo the sun conure

And now that I'm out (of the military), I am much enjoying my eclectic life of being a divorcee, entrepreneur, endurance-sports enthusiast and yes a roommate of three beautiful women, who I don't love and of a bird (parrot), who I regretfully do.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Team Peppler on the Potomac

I love the Beatles and I'm really into social sports.  That's why the SUP is the perfect sport for Colin and I.  For the 3rd day in a row, I attended "Abbey Road on the River" at the National Harbor without having to pay a dime.

Colin and I left from Old Towne from Jones Point Park.  The ride was smooth with the wind gusting to 15 plus knots and nice size waves.  

It is billed as the world's largest Beatles-inspired music festival.   And today, I was excited about getting a chance to see it -- from the River.

We launched my boat from Old Towne Alexandria, off the rocks where the water is waist high.  All around me Canadian geese napping and drifting along with a gathering of ring neck ducks.  There was huge boulders of drift wood, enough to supply firewood for a family of four for the entire winter.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

SUP for Cross Training

Running, Biking, Swimming -- all I needed was another sport. That's why today, after much deliberation, I finally broke down and bought a SUP.

Ok, what's a SUP, some may say. Well, it's the newest multi-water recreation.  It's a Stand up paddle board and it's a lot better than surfing. Why, because you don't have to wait for the wind and you can use it in any body of water, even a pool.

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