Monday, June 30, 2008

Return of Movie Night

It's been a long while, but over the weekend Movie Night was reconvened with a showing of Good Will Hunting. Unfortunately, in our party planning the idea of using a camera never came up. We had to satisfy ourselves with food...loads of food...and mojitos...and the occasional shot of one of my various tequilas (Christmas gifts all).

Thanks to Camille, Carlos, Michelle, Will, Jasmine, Maria and Raul for an enjoyable return to form. None of them had seen Good Will Hunting (I know, I couldn't believe it either) and they all seemed to like it. The food was good. The gaming on the Wii was fun, especially for those watching the boxing. No one kicked us out of the theater. A success if I ever heard of one.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Meat in the Garden

On our first day in DC we ducked into the Botanical Gardens (it had air conditioning). While there I discovered that there is more to plants than meets the eye. I'm not much for eating my leafy greens, but tucked throughout the garden were delicious sounding plants. Here are a few.

The Oyster Plant

The Beefsteak Plant

My favorite - The Sausage Tree (I always wondered where sausage came from, though I didn't see any growing on this particular tree.)

The Swiss-Cheese Plant (to melt on the sausage, perhaps?)

The Shrimp Plant (if I could only find the cocktail sauce flower...)

And for dessert - Chocolate Soldiers.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Washington DC Trip

It wasn't so much a trip to Washington, DC as it was a trip to Eastern Maryland. In 7 days I put 1500 miles on a rental car and spent two days on the DC subway system. The hotel was at the Baltimore airport just south of Baltimore proper. My brother's Army base was 25 miles north of Baltimore in Aberdeen and each day I was in Maryland I went either to Aberdeen or DC or both.

These are just some of the highlights.

Here is a Coast Guard ship in the Inner Harbor region of Baltimore. We spent a good deal of time in this area waiting for whatever was planned next. (We also toured the USS Constellation.)
Our first day in Washington, DC was a hot one (upper 90's). It was also a Sunday and the only thing open was the Botanical Gardens (separate pictures to come).

Here I am with my dad and brother in front of the Capital.
My dad and brother at the Vietnam War Memorial. Justin is giving a historical sketch on Vietnam era weaponry (apparently the Army still uses the exact same weapon).

We did our tour of the memorials and the mall late in the day hoping to miss most of heat. If we missed most of it I didn't really notice.

The Lincoln Memorial
The National Cathedral
A little gratuitous nudity in front of the Library of Congress.
Jefferson in the Library of Congress.
The south lawn of the White House.My parents at the Botanical Gardens.
Little known to most, the Washington Monument, in the setting sun has an angry alien face created by the red lights and observation windows.
My favorite picture - The Jefferson Memorial at dusk.The WWII memorial.
And finally, the reason we went to Maryland - my brother graduating from AIT.And here's Justin our last day in DC.
Some final thoughts on my trip. The following sums up what I learned, discovered and realized on my trip.
  1. Maryland does not like to give much warning or direction in its road signage. My favorite moment was when driving on a single lane ramp and the signs told me to merge because my lane was ending. I thought this was a fluke but a hundred yards later the next sign told me that my lane would end in a few more yards. It never did.
  2. Maryland drivers come in two forms: slow and fast. Mostly slow.
  3. The subway really is the best way to get around DC.
  4. The Army has some strange rules applied in a random fashion that makes me worry about the security of our country.
  5. I could have never been a Civil War sailor (unless you removed my head so I'd fit below decks).
  6. If ever again I'm going to DC in the winter. Cooler temperatures and less school children (oh god, the school children!).
  7. Favorite sight: one legged man bicycling hands free down the DC streets.
  8. Favorite sites: the shear size and intricacy of the National Cathedral and the Jefferson Memorial at dusk (as seen above).
  9. A good map is a godsend.
  10. A readily accessible internet connection has become my Achilles heal.
  11. I don't really enjoy museums. I'm glad they are there and I find many interesting things inside them, but if I see one more group of teenagers in matching T-shirts or hats...well, I'll weep.
Washington is better in the movies and would probably have been much better before terrorism won and all the buildings I'd really like to see were closed to the public. Of course, I'd just have been waiting with a bunch of bored kids to get in anyway.

Tim Russert

It was ironic that I'd be in Washington, DC sitting in a movie theater when my friend Thaddeus left me a message saying Tim Russert had died.

Much of my imagining of Washington and its workings was informed by Mr. Russert and his colleagues. In my lifetime I have no memory of anyone else sitting in that now empty chair. This general election season won't be the same without him.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

June - The Vacation Month

I've decided to use up all my vacation in one big swoop. Coincidently, I bookended my vacation with two shows at the Greek Theatre - A Prairie Home Companion last night and Alison Krauss with Robert Plant on June 24th.

Last night, vacation officially kicked off at a little past 7:30 with Garrison Keillor singing and strolling through the seats of the Greek Theatre. When the recorded show kicked off it was headlined by Jearlyn Steele, Bonnie Raitt and Martin Sheen. The Greek Theatre may be my favorite venue in Los Angeles. It is nestled into the wooded hills of Griffith Park and as the sun sets behind the crowd the stage comes alive. A Prairie Home Companion is perfectly suited to the open air amphitheater; the mountain backdrop and towering trees enhancing the feel that you are sitting in Garrison Keillor's backyard for songs and stories.

In a couple hours my plane departs for the second leg of Vacation June. With my bags packed, the cats' supplies stocked and the apartment sealed down I'm left waiting, something that I'll do most of the day. First, I'll wait in the airport. Then I'll wait for the plane to load, take off and then land again. I'll wait for my bags to appear at the baggage claim and finally I'll wait in line for my rental car. By the time I meet my parents in Baltimore the day will be almost over.

Tomorrow it's off to being a tourist in Baltimore and Washington, DC with my brother's Army graduation thrown in the middle sometime.

I'll touch down back in Los Angeles the following week just long enough to read all my email from work then I'm off to Nebraska for another cousin's wedding.

By the time Alison Krauss sings her last song I'll be ready to sit still for awhile.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Blatant Self Promotion

The blog world is a big, big place with room for just about everything. Though this will limit the anonymity that my friend and I have set up, I'm doing a little self promotion.

If you like politics check out our new project:

If you don't like politics I still think you are a good person, mostly, but I'd avoid a visit.