Some clips from a pre-Christmas service at a local “southern” Baptist Church

Today I paid a visit to Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church VA. It was a service associated with this church that provided caregiving when my mother broke her hip and had surgery in 1997 while I was moving to Minnesota for a job transfer.

This was the classic, formal service at 11:15 AM.

A bit of the prelude (orchestra, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.

And Advent wreath lighting.

The improvistory sermon by Dr. Baucom started out with some jokes about Christmas customs (including how most people really don’t like to eat fruitcake that much – I don’t, but “fruitcakes like fruitcakes”, an unfortunate metaphor) before admitting that faith in Grace and in a savior was not completely logical, and counter to what we view as intellectually sound behavior everyday – but necessary because we are broken – for quantum effect reasons. Reproductive life, after all, exists to counter entropy in the universe. And consciousness, leading to free will, directs it all.

Another quote: “The birth of the homeless should be celebrated in every home.”

(Posted: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2016 at 7:30 PM EST)

MGM is back: that is, the MGM Grand at National Harbor

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A short day trip to MGM Grand in National Harbor, on the Potomac River, just south of I-95 (really 495), the Beltway in Prince Georges County, MD,

I visited the “rooms” of the Hotel, the District, the Parlor, all kinds of places that belong in another Clue game.

and then the outdoor deck

The parking lot was very crowded (but free) but I finally found parking on P4 mid-day weekday. (The number-of-space counters are misleading.) The crowd indoor was moderate on a weekday, but there were lines in all the eateries.

In the “lobby” atrium, the Hotel tower looks a bit like Freedom Tower in Manhattan.

Does Oprah own some of this?  I thought she had an interest in bringing MGM back to its former glory.

(Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016 at 8:30 PM EST)

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Kristin Beck (Lady Valor) speaks at AGLA Christmas Party

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Kristin Beck (author of “Warrior Princess” and subject of the CNN film “Lady Valor”) spoke tonight at the Christmas party for the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance. I see that I have footage from her speaking to AGLA at the Arlington VA library Nov. 25, 2014, too.

Here are the clips. I have to admit my attempt to wide-screen them on the cell phone backfired. Later I’ll figure out how to rotate them in the embed statement. For now, just play in YouTube and rotate the smartphone 90 degrees/

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(Posted: Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 9:30 PM EST)

59th Annual Candlelight Carol Service, First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC

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Video from the 59th Annual Candlelight Carols Service at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC., Dec. 11, 2016

I’ve picked only music that would be in the public domain for my own videos.

1 O Come all Ye Fatihful

2 Joy to the World (Handel)

3 Angels We Have Heard on High

4 Hark the Herald Angels Sing (Mendelssohn)

5 Silent Night Tableau

6 Tableau (continued)

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(Posted: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016 at 9:30 PM EST)

Dulles Expo Greenberg Train Show (and some bonus material)

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I made a trip to “another” Greenberg train show today, at Dulles Expo, near Dulles Airport, VA, 20 miles from DC in the Virginia Piedmont.
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I had to park at Wal-Mart and go in and get a winter hat. There was a Salvation Army Bell Ringer putting on his act. Salvation Army has a past record of anti-gay policies, and the current situation seems uncertain and needs another look soon.

The show was very crowded, but had only three large train layouts.
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Here are a few clips

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and (8) Point of Rocks, MD

Pic:

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(Posted: Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016 at 9:00 PM EST)

CNN panel presents its book “Unprecedented” at Politics and Prose; a visit to Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria, after the fake news scandal

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I did visit the Comet Ping Pong Pizzeria today in Washington DC just as it opened.

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I also attended a book-signing party at Politics and Prose Bookstore (next door) with a panel from CNN for its book “Unprecedented” headed by Brian Stelter.

My apologies for calling them “Poets …” on Youtube — the right name for the bookstore is Politics and Prose. Some scrambled memory, maybe a senior moment.

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There was an introduction by the business owner on the fake news crisis in the neighborhood.

The panel follows.

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3 Question about the future of the Democratic Party

4 My question on Trump and social media v. libel, wartime concerns, and fake news

(Posted: Thursday, December 8, 2016 at 10:45 PM EST)

Cato Institute forum: “Free Speech in the Age of Trump”

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Here is my video from the Cato Institute forum “Free Speech in the Age of Trump”, at 6 PM EST on Tuesday, December 6, 2016. Kat Murti moderated. Danish publisher Flemming Rose, from the Jyllens Posten cartoon controversy (the book “The Tyranny of Silence”) and Reason magazine editor Nick Gillespie spoke.

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7 I ask a question as to whether “state of war” against civilians (from ISIS) could justify clamping down on free speech

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Last four were on cell phone

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(Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 10 AM EST)

Travel article on Krakow, Poland reminds me of the opening of my novel

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The Washington Post travel section on Sunday, December 3, has a long article by Hugh Biggar on Krakow, Poland.

I visited Krakow on May 1999, arriving on a train from Berlin, that made many night stops in former East Germany and Poland. I had bribed the conductor to get a roomette because I had a wrong date on my ticket.

I found a taxi to take me to Auschwitz-Buchenwald, and spent about 90 minutes that morning visiting the ruins. That experience inspires the first chapter of “Angel’s Brother”.
In the chapter, the character Randy, whose normal day job is that of an AP history teacher in high school in Dallas, who is married with three kids (one adopted), is around 45 and is near the ending of his days of always looking to be in perfect physical shape, has been summoned there by his secret job as a contingent CIA investigator. On the grounds, he meets a seemingly gifted college student, Sal (described as a Caucasian Latino), around 20. A conversation gradually starts, that will build up to major incidents later involving aliens and what happens to the rest of us.

I realize that I have to be careful in the writing about the mechanics of the meeting, of the initial social clumsiness as to whether they want to take the cab ride together back to Krakow. (He had seen the “College Kid on the Train” before.) Oh, yes, Randy’s gay desires are coming back, despite his successful marriage so far – but his wife has only recently gotten a little suspicious. I also have to work on the issue of how much she would really know about his “business trips”. (My own dad, as a manufacturer’s representative, made a lot of them when I was growing up. But it’s harder to pull this off if you’re a high school teacher.)

That day, I also went to the Wielickza salt mine, before coming back to the hotel. panel

I remember that the phone was expensive. I had a clunky cell phone but it didn’t work in Europe. But I would need to explain why Randy would have a problem like that today. Then I mention “Bill”, and some other agents, and leave open the question as to whether people like Ali Mogul really exist or are just meta-characters in Bill’s book (sort of “nocturnal animals”).

Wikipedia link for Krakow picture, p.d.

(Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at 1 PM EST)