Nacreous Clouds


In the skies above the British Isles, a phenomenon known as “Polar Stratospheric Clouds” have been lighting up the night sky well after sunset, which are very interesting from the point of view of astronomy or meteorology – these sky phenomena are beautiful and fascinating.

However, they also point to a more serious problem. According to today’s page…
… these clouds are indicative of the fact that an “ozone hole” has opened up over the British Isles.

Several times in the past year I have pointed out how PSCs and noctilucent clouds might be linked to global warming and in particular to moisture released by the melting polar ice caps.  However, I may be wrong about that after all- it’s not that simple. In fact, the nacreous (they are also called “mother of pearl” clouds because of the rainbow colors) clouds may be linked to pollutants in the upper atmosphere that cause ice crystals to form around the aerosol particles, which turn out to be high in nitric acid, which contributes to the break down of ozone.

We need ozone. The ozone layer protects the earth’s surface from ultraviolet radiation. A similar ozone hole that formed in the southern hemisphere is believed to be responsible for a statistically significant rise in the rates of skin cancer in Australia in the last two decades. Pollutants in the atmosphere are creating a much more imminent and dangerous problem than global WARMING per se, and we need to address this concern NOW.

The China Syndrome

After the astounding results of the Iowa Caucuses, some thoughts. Larry David will host SNL this week and Bernie Sanders is rumored to make a cameo. Good timing with the New Hampshire primary only a few days away.

BUT… I will definitely be able to link this week’s prediction that spring will come EARLY by both Punxsutawny Phil in Pennsylvania and General Beauregard Lee in Georgia to climate change and global warming, which will still give me a chance to challenge Bernie Sander’s claim that climate change is a more serious “national security” threat to our country than ISIS.

Interestingly though, in Iowa at least, national security was LESS important an issue than jobs, the economy, income inequality, social ljustice, and health care. At least on the democratic side. On the Republican side, over 67% of the voters said their main reason for picking the candidate was that person had “the same values as me.” Donald Trump only did well among the demographic group that said that immigration or the economy were their number one issues and main reasons for voting.

The “three way tie” between Cruz, Trump, and Rubio really raises the stakes for next Tuesday in New Hampshire. A strong second place showing by Rubio could set the stage for a long drawn out battle between the establishment candidate (Rubio) and the champions of the “angry white men” Trump and Cruz.

I have a feeling that “New Hampshire Values” are not that much different than “New York Values” and that Cruz will not do as well in NH as in Iowa where over half the people responding to a CNN Entrance poll said that they considered themselves “born again” or “evangelicals.” If Rubio surges to second place in NH by next Tuesday, we will have a real horse race on our hands.

So… back to the old groundhog/woodchuck for a minute. Upon further research this morning, it turns out NOAA has its own Groundhog page which is very interesting. The astounding fact on this page is they say that Phil was WRONG over 70 percent of the time! You remember in my earlier post when I said it is a “win-win” proposition. So how could anyone, especially NOAA, quantitatively state whether the prognostication of a woodchuck were accurate or not??

WELL, as it turns out…. there **IS** some quantitative data which shows that something is AMISS with the climate in the USA.

AND as it turns out…. Phil’s human handlers have incorrectly translated Phil’s wood-chuck-ese because the “official” prediction over the years has said that winter would NOT end early more than the other way around. In fact, the “official” tally from Punxsutawny has been for an early spring ONLY 17 times out of the last 102 years(!).

According to NOAA’s own data for the past 102 years, the U.S. national temperature in the month of March has been ABOVE average in 75 of the past 100 years. So if you use that metric as the “predictor” of a so-called “early spring” then Phil’s data has NOT agreed with it. BUT what ELSE does this TELL you???
In a way, this is saying that SPRING has been coming EARLIER and earlier EVERY year for the past 102 years- but WHY??

It tells you that nationally, in CONUS, average temperatures have been RISING steadily for the past 100 years. Global “warming” itself is not in contest- it is irrefutable. What is refutable is to what extent man’s contribution with air pollution and CO2 emissions has contributed to the acceleration of global warming. And even acknowledging the significance of man’s contribution is the scientific consensus, what has NOT been proven is whether this is a BAD thing.

Hear me out (I am NOT a global warming “denier”)…
ice sheet
Around 26,000 years ago at the height of the Ice Age in North America, the ice sheet reached the 38th parallel, which means Iowa and New Hampshire were both buried under glaciers. The entire country of Canada did not even exist. Then 19,000 years ago, global WARMING began with NO INPUT from humans. At the point 13,000 years ago, this warming accelerated even further (with no human input) and the ice sheet began to retreat more rapidly from its southern extent at 38 degrees lattitude (where I live now) to the north. Was this a BAD THING? The entire geology of Iowa is based on “moraines” and “drift plains.” The southern Iowa “tall grass prairie” is a glacial drift plane caused by the receding of the Wisconsinian Glacier which was part of the Laurentian ice sheet. The rolling hills of central Iowa are caused by “moraines” which were alternating deposits of soil and debris that were left by the melting glacier as it retreated at an uneven rate.

See here is my point. WE would not BE HERE without GLOBAL WARMING. The warming phase that began 19,000 years ago that caused the current “interglacial” is continuing as it has for thousands of years due to normal meteorological processes, and we are LUCKY that we are living near the PEAK of the WARM phase.

SO what is the BIG RISK if global warming continues? Variations in climate and temperature should be EXPECTED. They are NORMAL. Coastlines change and move. Rainfall patterns shift periodically. Rising temperatures WILL produce a more ARID climate in SOME areas, and a more WET climate in others. Why is this BAD? Why is this something to be FEARED?

[Rant ON] Because… if it changes TOO FAST, then the government will not be able to CONTROL it, and the POWER ELITE which currently controls the means of production of ENERGY, will not be able to PROFIT from it. The “billionaire class” (one of the best new phrases of 2015, which will continue to be a big word in 2016) who have their CA$H invested in casinos at the Jersey Shore (Donald who?) and other “risky” investments in unstable areas …. if it all goes to HELL in a HANDBASKET at the SAME TIME, the insurance companies will not be able to process all the claims and the banking system will CRASH again. And who will the people BLAME for this mess? The government. So… it is in the government’s interest, for its own self preservation, to brainwash the people into thinking that it is coming out with these so-called “Green” initiatives for the benefit of the ENVIRONMENT, when in reality it is to consolidate the power in the hands of the oligarchy. [Rant OFF]

Coincidentally, I watched “The China Syndrome” last night on cable, the one from 1979 with Jane Fonda, Michael Douglas, Jack Lemmon, Wilford Brimley, and a great supporting cast.

They hit all the right buttons in this movie- very well written screenplay- maybe just as relevant today than when it came out the same year as Three Mile Island. This movie had everything:

  • A fat cat “billionaire class” dude running the electric utility.
  • A corrupt construction company which falsifies the x-rays of the pipe welds in the reactor when they built the plant.
  • The corporate execs at the power company do a rush job on the NRC investigation of the “incident” because the hearings to approve a second reactor are going on and every day they delay will cost a half million dollars.
  • Jack Lemmon’s character is the shift supervisor in the control room; he is the one who discovers the bogus paperwork from the contractor who built the plant, so he tries to take the falsified x-rays to the media, but the construction company sends a goon squad to bump him off.
  • The guy who runs the television station tells Jane Fonda “not to worry her pretty little head” about all the legal stuff and won’t take her seriously as an investigative reporter because she is a woman.
  • Michael Douglas with the beard and long hair is the cameraman who filmed the incident, gets all indignant when the television station execs try to cover up the story so they won’t get sued, so he steals the film from the vault and takes it to the NRC himself.

Great movie! Also it reminded me that Jack Lemmon was such a great actor. In some of the scenes in the control room, he says volumes with just the look on his face.  Wilford Brimley was very good too. This was the first movie where I remember Michael Douglas being taken seriously as a movie star, even after being on “The Streets of San Francisco” on TV. The guy who played the “fat cat” CEO of the electric utility looked like Karl Malden to me at first, but it was a different actor.

And of course you know my personal connection to the incident at TMI, right?
Three Mile Island accident – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In my fuzzy memory, I thought the movie came out AFTER Three Mile Island, but in fact, the movie had been in theaters two weeks when the TMI incident happened in March 1979.  Back then they released blockbuster movies in the month of March- no wonder it didn’t do that great at the box office when it first came out. But that means the screen play, in which the near meltdown was caused in part by a stuck-open valve, in effect PREDICTED what would really happen at TMI. TMI reactor

The Three Mile Island accident was a nuclear meltdown which occurred on March 28, 1979, in reactor number 2 of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station. I didn’t go to college in Philadelphia until the fall of 1979, so I hadn’t met my wife Susan yet, but her mother’s family is from a small town in Pennsylvania called Middletown which is a few miles south of Harrisburg next to the Susquehanna river. That means Susan’s grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins who live in Dauphin county were all in the area affected by the release of radioactive steam, and her grandparents had to come to stay with them in Philadlephia for a few weeks when the area was evacuated.

So you can say this incident was a little TOO CLOSE TO HOME for members of my immediate family, and is yet another example of an incident in my life that was RIPPED FROM TODAYS HEADLINES and I have a close personal connection to people who were directly involved. In this case, nobody died, and thankfuly nobody was even injured. Radiation levels down river were found to be normal, and cancer deaths in the year or two after were found to be at normal rates.

Candelmas Day Has Arrived

Candelmas Day has arrived, which means winter is half over! And the melting snow outside my window makes me hopeful that the increase in solar radiation will accelerate the melting. I love snow, but even I am tried of these big ugly frozen mounds of icy snow that the plows pushed up into the curb lane at all the intersections in our neighborhood. Today is the first day in over two weeks that the kids in Fairfax County will return to school on a normal full day schedule.

The year 2016 is a leap year, election year, and on Tuesday morning, we reach “Candelmas” aka Ground Hog Day which is one of the cross-quarter points of the Druid/Celtic calendar, which means winter is exactly half over. There will be as much sunlight this week as there was during the last week of October and even though there is still a lot of snow on the ground in some places, and temperatures are not quite as warm as they were on Halloween, we can take comfort in the fact that the sun is setting noticeably later each night, and the earth is beginning to feel the effects of the increased solar radiation.

The celebration of “ground hog day” was brought from Europe by the Pennsylvania “Dutch” (actually Germans) in the early 1800s. In Germany they call it Candelmas day, which is believed to be a Christianization of the older Pagan holiday of Imbolc. The date of Candelmas, as celebrated by the Catholic and Lutheran churches, is linked to the date of Christmas – it is 40 days and 40 nights since Christmas. Luke 2:22-40 is the only Gospel that mentions the presentation of the child Jesus at the temple in Jerusalem forty days after his birth. In Judaism there is also a ritual purification of a mother that takes place 40 days after the birth of a child, hence it is also called the feast of the Purification of the Virgin.

Imbolc is a much older pagan holiday associated with the Celtic goddess Brigid (equivalent to the Greek Athena or the Roman Minerva). In Ireland it is celebrated as St Brigid’s day. The lighting of candles on this day may have predated Christianity. The ancient Celts knew this was one of the cross-quarter days, half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. It also marked the beginning of the birthing season for new lambs among the flocks, and other changes in the natural environment associated with the longer hours of sunlight.

Today marks the official end of the three darkest months of the year, and we now have the same number of hours of sunlight as we did on Halloween. We now enter the three months astronomically when the seasons switch from one steady state to another, and the rate of change of the orientation of the earth’s rotational pole to the radius of the earth’s orbit around the sun reaches a maximum. That’s a fancy way to say that the days are getting longer again in the northern hemisphere, and the increased hours of sunlight results in more heat reaching the surface of the earth in the mid- northern lattitudes, which is the engine that drives the change of seasons. By March 1st the official start of meteorological spring, weather patterns that have persisted throughout the winter months will begin to break down as the increased heat will stir the mixing bowl.

All weather patterns shift over time, and especially at this time of year, changes in the heat balance of the oceans and atmosphere tend to push the colder arctic air into retreat over the nation’s midsection, moving the jet stream to a more northerly track. On a micro-climatological level, for any given location, if you are in a cold pattern at the present time, in 4 to 6 weeks, you are likely to be in a warm pattern, and especially as we get into the period from March 1 to March 21, there are likely to be wide variations in temperature and precipitation patterns for any specific locale. So if you get an unseasonably warm spell during the first week of March, you could say that “spring came early,” but if you experience only a mild variation from the norm, then spring will seem to come “on time” in mid-March near the equinox. So Phil can really do no wrong. So when I read the many blog entries and articles online that attempt to quantify the “accuracy rate” of Punxsutawney Phil or his other groundhog cousins around the country, I find it amusing. How do you quantify the success or failure of a no-lose proposition? Phil can do no wrong! Even when he is wrong, he is right!

As I said, it’s a “heads I win, tails you lose” proposition. Either spring will start on March 1st, by the meteorological definition, or it will begin on March 21, using the vernal equinox as the demarcation point. Either way is correct- they are just two different sides of the same coin, so to speak. Astronomically speaking, based on the number of hours of sunlight, spring is already here, even though it takes about a month for the weather to catch up. During the first week of March, somebody somewhere is going to have unseasonably warm temperatures, and that warm air will track from west to east, so almost everyone gets to experience spring arriving “early.” For the people who have unsettled weather and storms at the beginning of March, within a few weeks, that pattern will shift so that a different location has storms at the end of the month… hence March will come in like a lion and go out like a lamb (or vice versa)… another piece of folk wisdom that is almost always right! ;-0

Breaking News

Both Punxsutawny Phil in Pennsylvania and General Beauregard Lee in Georgia predict that spring will come EARLY because they did NOT see their shadows!

The Wait Is Over

What’s not to LOVE about Pluto?


The New Horizons spacecraft finally arrived at the Pluto/Charon system after a nearly 10 year mission. What they found is a geologically active world with a thin hazy atmosphere. This historic image is the first high resolution portrait of the full planet in nearly true color and it raises as many questions as it answers.

A zoomed in look at the brighter half of the “heart” reveals dunes of precipitate, which is likely frozen nitrogen “snow” with some carbon monoxide mixed in, and regular troughs between the dunes. The troughs are probably caused by Plutonian weather- perhaps caused by runoff as the dunes melt or sublimate. But on first view, the thing that popped into my head was “snow mobile tracks.”

the snowy plains of Pluto

Let my friend Kelly Beatty (who I first met in 1974) explain it to you better than I can…

Watch the preliminary animated flyover video created from the earliest spacecraft data (more detailed videos and animations will be released as the ‘real science’ begins)…

Link to the New Horizons mission page on the NASA website…

Check the Sky & Telescope Astronomy News page for more news updates and analysis…

Beware the DST “Glitch”

Today is the day we “spring forward” using the new rules for Daylight Saving Time that went into effect in 2007. It is going to seem a little ironic setting the clocks forward to “summer time” when there is still 10 inches of snow on the ground (more in some places like New England). My main purpose in posting this is to remind you that if you have a VCR or other device that was designed prior to 2005, you have to reset the clock manually or else you won’t tape all your shows this week like American Idol or the Voice! And then on March 29 or April 5 you will have to check your VCR again to make sure that it did not automatically set itself another hour forward.

Musings on Daylight Saving Time (Revisited*)

The original idea of “saving” an hour of sunlight in the summer is based on the fact that during the three months of the year when the sun rises earliest (May, June, and July) in some parts of the country, like “down-East” Maine, or places in the eastern part of each of the standard time zones, the sun rises so early in the summer that the sun is already above the horizon when most people are still asleep. At a typical location in the northern hemisphere near lattitude 40 degrees north, the length of daylight varies by more than 5 hours during the seasons- in winter there are fewer than 10 hours of sunlight during December and January, and in the summer the day length (hours of sunlight) can exceed 15 hours in a big section of the continental USA.

In the eastern time zone in particular, because of the orientation of the coast line nearest the populated cities of the “northeast corridor” linked by I-95, the change in sunlight is most noticeable in the morning, so it “goes to waste.” This is a little counter-intuitive and I had to convince myself by looking at maps and using a day length calculating website to “prove it to myself.”

Let me explain by way of an example. With or without DST, in June the sunset time in Nashua NH is almost the same as Charlotte NC, whereas the sun rise in Nashua is almost an hour earlier. This is because the earth’s shadow at sunset is almost perfectly aligned with the angle of the east coast of the USA, but in the morning, the reverse is true, and sunlight reaches the coast of Maine while the southeast coast is still in the earth’s shadow. Even with DST in effect, the sun rises before 4 AM in Portland ME, but in Savannah GA it doesn’t rise until after 5:20 AM. The places that benefit the most from the change to DST are places that are further north and further east within the same time zone. Without the DST switchover, in the summer the sun would rise before 3 AM in some places, and that extra sunlight would come at a time when nobody could take advantage of it. So I have always been in favor of observing DST in the months of May, June, and July as a minimum.

Some people (“I’m no scientist” politicians and lobbysts for the fast food and “7-11” convenience store industry) have tried to argue that if the change to DST saves energy in the summer months (it doesn’t) then why not keep it all year round? This would just have the effect of changing the time of local “midnight” to 1 AM year round, and the sun would not reach its highest angle in the sky until approximately 1 PM instead of noon. In my opinion, eventually work schedules and social customs would adjust to accomodate the new schedule. This has already happened during the last century as our society was transformed from a primarily agrarian society to an urban “9-to-5” schedule. In today’s society the factors driving a change in work and sleep habits are the excessive traffic in most urban areas pushing some people to go into work earlier and earlier to avoid rush hour, and our dependence on electronic devices which consume electricity but especially our smart phones and communication devices which make us connected to people and information at any hour of the day or night. The option for telework as well as flex time are making the traditional “9-to-5” office hours less prevalent, and the increasingly transcontinental/international aspect of electronic commerce means that companies whose business is primarily on the internet have customer support hours that accomodate customers on the west and east coasts at the same time.

The biggest argument for moving the extra hour of sunlight to the evening in the summer is that people have more time to do things after work, like sports and outdoor activities, shopping, and going out to dinner. In the winter however, the extra hour of sunlight does not exist, and there is an extra hour of darkness instead, so keeping DST all year round would make the sun rise even later than it already does in November, December and January- after 9 AM in some places, which would impact school age children the most. It might be possible to do this if we agreed by convention to shift the start time of school by one hour later during from November through February, or for the entire school year, which is already being implemented in Fairfax County next school year. Thinking about extreme examples like this makes you realize the absurdity of trying to “save” sunlight at a time of year when less sunlight exists, and instead forcing children and families to get up at a ridiculous ungodly hour in darkness and start school before the sun has even risen. If the justification given for extending DST was to save energy, then by reductio ad absurdum I think we can demonstrate that making people get up earlier in the winter months and turning on the heat sooner will actually use MORE energy.

The DST “Glitch”…


Even if you do set your VCR one hour ahead, you are going to have to change it AGAIN on either March 29 or April 5 because that is the day that the clocks would change if we were still on the old schedule that was in effect from 1987 to 2007. I did some research on the dates of DST in Europe and it says they start on March 29, but in the old rule that was in effect in the USA from 1987 to 2007, as I remember it, DST used to start on the first Sunday in April, didn’t it? It was the LAST Sunday in April from 1967 to 1987 which is how I remember it as a kid – most states already started DST on the last Sunday in April prior to 1967 but it had not been officially standardized nationwide until that year. So now I am starting to wonder what will happen – will my “old fashioned” dual-deck VCR (which records VHS tapes as well as DVDs) reset itself on March 29 or April 5? The more I think about it, the more I think it will probably be on April 5 but I better check it on March 29 just to be sure.

Last October was when I first realized that the “DST glitch” makes us out of synch with DST observances in Europe and the rest of the world, including parts of the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.

As mentioned above, the benefits of DST are most needed at lattitudes near 40 degrees north or higher, so one would think that it would be universal in Canada, but in fact, the province of Saskatchewan does not observe DST, so for half of the year they are in sync with the time in Manitoba, and for the other half of the year their clocks read the same as Alberta. I suppose this would only cause a problem if you were driving from Winnipeg to Edmonton and needed to know when to reset your clock. At lattitudes north of 60 degrees, the difference in daylight during the year is so great that a change of one hour would hardly make a difference, so traditionally places like Nunavut and Greenland only observe DST so they can stay in sync with the other southern provinces that they rely on for trade.

The state of Sonora in Mexico does NOT observe DST because they share a border with Arizona; on the other hand, the Navaho Nation reservation, which is mostly in Arizona, does observe DST! I thought it was ironic that the Native Americans would observe DST and in some ways be more modern than the rest of the state of Arizona. But it turns out that the reservation is made up of parts of Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado – the “four corners” marker is on Navaho property. So they observe DST to be consistent with all their neighbors.

Arizona is a really interesting case. We take it for granted up north that we like that extra hour of sunlight in the summer, but in parts of Arizona it gets so damn HOT in the summer that they actually want the sun to set EARLIER so it can start to cool off sooner and they can get out of the shade and A/C while it is still early enough in the evening to do things outdoors like go out to dinner or play sports like baseball in the summer. Completely the reverse logic of most of the rest of the USA. So you see it is not just astronomy that determines the practice of DST, it also depends on climate, business, and social customs.

My original Musings (from a Note on Facebook in March 2012)

Christmas Comet!

Christmas Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 is currently glowing at 5th magnitude (naked eye visibility) to the lower right of Orion’s Belt. The comet is still a full month away from perihelion, and as it gets closer to the sun and the earth, the geometry will improve even more for continued brightening. It is now possible to take a picture of the comet with a regular camera without even using a telescope!  Now that the comet is moving closer to the celestial equator and ecliptic plane, photos are beginning to come in from the northern hemisphere including the U.S. and Canada. Between Jan 9-17, 2015 the comet will be in the constellation Taurus not far from the Pleiades, so it should be even easier to find than it is now!

The following picture appeared as the Astronomy Picture of the Day on December 31 taken as the comet passed globular cluster M79 in Lepus near Orion.comet lovejoy

This week I observed Venus in the evening sky for the first time this season from the parking lot of the Potomac Mills mall about 30 minutes after sunset. The advantage of being in a large mall parking lot is that I had a clear view down to the horizon. The planet Mercury will join the other planets in the evening sky during the week of January 3-10, 2015.  So the first two months of 2015 should be very interesting as Venus has conjunctions with each of the other planets and Jupiter reaches opposition in February 2015.

Here is an article on how to find Comet Lovejoy this week from Sky & Telescope.

Year in Review 2014

I have been working on my “end of the year” letter. You know the one that I mean- the single-spaced double-sided letter that you get in the envelope with the Christmas card from that friend from West Chester who you haven’t seen in years, but you are always curious to see a picture of how big the twins have grown since last year’s card that is still stuck on the front of the refrigerator with a magnet shaped like a ladybug.

What should be the theme of this year’s letter? The first thing that pops into my head is “out with the old and in with the new” or a picture of the New Year’s baby and an old man with a cane walking out of the picture. It was a year of change, of transformation, of metamorphoses (yes that’s plural)- new house, new neighbors, new car, new school, new apartment/roommate, new jobs (that’s plural too).

Maybe it would be better if I tell the story in pictures?


Snowman Be Like… McElveen Rocks!


This picture represents the fact that we spent our first winter in our new home, it snowed a lot, and school was canceled so many times it made School Board member-at-large Ryan McElveen into a rock star.

Here is an article my daughter wrote in the A-Blast about it…


Epic snowfall on Feb 13- but guess where I was on Valentine’s Day?

Herndon- The Day After

February marks the beginning of what I like to call my “Year As A Craigslist Worker.”

It was sometime in January when I got the idea to start looking up jobs on Craigslist to supplement our income while I was in between computer consulting assignments. Actually I got the idea from my daughter who during her junior and senior year in high school listed herself on Craigslist as a “home organizer” – a student who was willing to work with people in their homes to clean out their closets or organize their belongings. As I read the listings I tended to gravitate towards the “transportation” jobs, so the first job I applied to was for surge support making deliveries on Valentines Day. I wanted to see if I would like it and whether it would be a viable way to make money “on the side” to help pay for expenses like our car payment. In order to do this job, I had to purchase a new smart phone, so we went to the Verizon store and I asked them which Android phone had the largest display, since I intended mostly to use it for the GPS capability (Google Maps). The obvious answer= the Samsung Galaxy.

The job was actually delivering for Edible Arrangements in Reston, and I signed up to work all week from Wednesday through Sunday. There was only one slight problem with that plan. The largest blizzard of the season took place on Thursday Feb 13, so on Valentines day, there was a backlog of orders that could not be delivered on Thursday. On Valentines Day itself, at first light that Friday morning, I reported to Reston ready to work on roads that had not yet even been plowed. Next thing I knew I was four-wheeling around Reston, Herndon, McLean and Great Falls in my SUV with a cargo bay full of fruit baskets and chocolate covered strawberries. One good thing about the snow was that work was canceled for a lot of people and they were actually at home when I made the delivery, which was not always the case on Wednesday.

So over the course of the last year, I worked as an independent contractor (IC) at a number of delivery and courier jobs, and learned a lot about myself in the process. Originally I intended to blog about my experiences, but because I signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) with most of the companies I worked for, I can really only speak in generalities. But among my memorable experiences, I can list the following:

  • I delivered gourmet cupcakes during a thunderstorm (pic)
  • I delivered pizza and ice cream on Capitol Hill during the July 4th fireworks
  • I learned my way driving around DC and the best ways to get from Foggy Bottom to U-Street & Adams Morgan during rush hour
  • I know the best places to park and short-cuts to easily get to Shake Shack on Dupont Circle (mostly on weekends or weeknights after 6 PM)
  • My knowledge of the Baltimore area and southern Maryland came in handy when I delivered medical equipment and lab specimens in a coverage area from Westminster MD to Norfolk VA (150 mile radius around DC)
  • I delivered 53 boxes of “knee sleeves” from a medical supply warehouse in Baltimore to a newly opened hospital in Germantown MD
  • I am now familiar with the loading docks, mail rooms, laboratories and blood banks of most of the office buildings and hospitals in Tysons Corner, Fair Oaks, Alexandria, and downtown DC
  • Instead of spending 8 hours behind a desk staring at a computer monitor, this was the view out my “office window”

Many of these experiences are captured in another photo album I called “Just Another Day at the Office” which are pictures I took while driving around in my car while on the job on any of my IC assignments.


Union Station – taking Lizzie to the bus to go back to NYC.

Brings back memories. … of tearful farewells at the bus station, train station, or airport…. on the weekend after spring break, or Thanksgiving, or winter break…. only now it’s Lizzie riding the bus to New York (or Richmond)


The old house on Exeter St finally sold to an investor who intends to “flip” the house.



How it looked when I turned over the keys in April…


Good Morning NYC

I took this outside A&J’s apartment before I went to move Lizzie out of the dorm at SVA.


Lizzie’s trip to Israel

It was a good thing Elisabeth got back from her Birthright Trip to Israel before the Palestinians started firing rockets over the border from Gaza- another youth group from our synagogue had to cut their trip short later in the summer. She was there the same week as the Pope’s visit so they closed parts of the old city to her tour group on one of the days they were supposed to go. I think they went to the Herzl museum instead. Anyway we now have a family of four international travelers with passports (although mine is expired).


Well that got me caught up through the summer.

Here is a link to the full “end of the year” photo album on Facebook….
I am going to add one photo a day to this album for 12 days until I get enough pictures to make a calendar.

Look for me also at Obiwan Doodlebopp on Twitter.