Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

A well deserved thank you to all who have served in our nation's armed forces. And while all gave some, some gave their all, and you have my gratitude. It's not just a day to thank our service members for their service, but to remember that we owe it to them to make sure that they have our support beyond mere headlines and political punchlines.

We simply do not do enough to give our veterans the support they need. This takes several forms, but it boils down to not sufficiently paying them for their service while in uniform, and then not doing enough once they've separated from service.

It is the latter that is the most haunting given that politicians have essentially turned them into disposable heroes - they make great backdrops for political rallies and gatherings, but don't do nearly enough to make sure that they have sufficient mental health support and care. Far too many service members end up homeless, on the street, and or having mental illnesses that make it difficult for them to participate in the very society that they helped protect through their service.

Add to that the need to make sure that they have jobs with living wages after separation, and you've got two issues that should unite most Americans behind a plan that would give these service members the backing and support that they need and deserve.

So, while many of us sit back and enjoy the barbecues, the Indy 500, baseball, and other sporting events, take a few moments to remember all those who served and made it possible.

Iwo Jima Memorial at night.

We Remember. And we give thanks.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Trip Through History - Civil War and Presidential History in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia

Black Hawk Helicopters flying over Gettysburg National Park
Gun emplacement at Gettysburg
Memorial at Antietam
Looking down from the Observation Tower at Antietam National Battlefield
Burnside Bridge at Antietam.
Belle Grove plantation; focal point of the last major battle in Shenandoah Valley.
Dark Hollow Falls at Shenandoah National Park.
The night sky from Skyland Resort in Shenandoah NP.
Overexposed and light pollution from Luray in Shenandoah NP.
Luray Caverns.
Thomas Jefferson's masterpiece at Monticello.
Ash-Highland (James Monroe's residence, the original bit of which is the building on the left).
James Madison's Montpelier, which is undergoing ongoing archeological restoration and work to reveal slave quarters on the south side of the building.
Partial rainbow over Manassas (Bull Run).
Dramatic sky over Manassas.
Old Stone Bridge at Manassas.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Colorful Open To Late Winter: NY Botanical Garden's Orchid Show

The New York Botanical Garden in The Bronx puts on a fabulous orchid show every late winter/early spring, and this year was no different. While the weather outside was nearly frightful (coming just days after a substantial snowstorm) and still colder than normal, the Haupt Conservatory was filled to the brim with amazing and colorful orchids from the world over. Every color and shape was represented as seen by the photos below.

One thing I did manage to learn from the orchid show is that the orchids I've been trying to maintain over the past couple of years aren't really tolerant of the temperatures I leave the house with during the day. There are cold tolerant varieties that do much better against overnight low temps down into the 50s and low 60s, but those aren't nearly as common as the ones you'll find at most garden centers.