Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Note About This Blog

I created this blog to chronicle my 365 project. Now that I've completed my project, I don't plan on adding any new content to the blog. My plan is instead just to let it be a time capsule of a year in my life. To everyone who has followed or visited my blog, thank you. I hope you found at least one photo here that entertained, inspired, informed, or intrigued you.



Day 365/365 - La Fin, Enfin

And so my 365 project ends as it began, with me standing in front of the Capitol building and sticking out my tongue. When I started this project I fully expected to get bored and give up after a month. Then, when I hit the 3 month point, it started to become a grind. There was no way I was giving up then, however, and rendering the three months of effort to that point worthless. Oddly enough, I think I'm more pleased with myself for not missing a single day than I am for completing the project.

Here's the tally of the photos I took over the course of my project (although given how bad I am at math these numbers are probably more approximate than they are accurate):

Shots featuring me, in whole, in part, or in reflection - 100
Shots taken in restaurants/bars - 25
Shots about plays - 24
Shots at baseball games - 21
Shots including books/magazines/newspapers - 20
Shots about movies - 15
Shots about concerts - 13
Shots in museums/galleries - 12

Plus 4 Navy football games, 2 parades, 2 kickball games, 2 operas, 1 Navy basketball game, 1 circus, 1 carnival, 1 roller derby, 1 Cirque du Soleil and a week in Venice, an Alaskan cruise, four trips to New York City, and one trip to Houston.

No partridge in a pear tree, though. Still, it was a pretty damn good year. Thanks for letting me share it with you.

The End

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Day 364/365 - Post-It Note Impression No. 12

For the final Post-It Note impression of my 365 project, I figured I was secure enough in my manhood to try a bit of a gender bender. Quick, who am I this time?

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Day 363/365 - I Feel Like Bustin' Loose...

...bustin' loose. Gimme the beat y'all!

This statue by Michael Lantz is entitled "Man Controlling Trade." It was sculpted in 1942 and, along with its twin, it bookends two sides of the headquarters of the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, DC. But to me, as I near the completion of my 365 project, this statue instead brings to mind a song by another Washington institution -- the Godfather of Go-Go, the Dean of the DC Music Scene, Mr. Chuck Brown!

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Day 362/365 - The Man in the Mirror

For the final 'self-portrait of the week' of my 365 project, we have this shot of me taken in the lobby of my apartment building. It took me forever to realize that those lilies weren't real. It was the fake water that threw me.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - The Secret World of Children

For the final bonus photo from my archives of my 365 project, we have this shot that I took this past summer of children playing inside a moon bounce/bouncy castle at the Arlington County Fair.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Day 361/365 - A Good Day for a Long Walk

The weather was gorgeous today, so I decided to have lunch at a riverside cafe in Georgetown and then walk home along the Mt. Vernon Trail. I brought my portable radio with me so I could listen to Charlie and Dave calling the last Nationals game of the year as I walked. The Nats were gracious enough to send their game against the Braves to extra innings so I was able to listen to the broadcast all the way home. Now that I'm home, however, I wish they'd hurry up and finish off the Braves so I can focus on watching the Broncos play the Cowboys.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

UPDATE: The Nats won the game 2-1 in the 15th inning. It was the longest game in Washington Nationals history. After starting this season with a 7-game losing streak, the Nats finished the season with a 7-game winning streak. Baseball is a funny game.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day 360/365 - Air Force vs. Navy

My friend Chris and I daytripped over to Annapolis, Maryland this afternoon for the college football game between the Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy. His wife/my friend Des was going to come with us, but she wasn't feeling well so it wound up being a guy's day out.

In no way could it be described a sharply-played, well-executed game, but Navy won in overtime 16-13, securing their seventh straight victory over Air Force and putting themselves in the driver's seat to retain the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for a record-breaking seventh consecutive season.

Go Navy!

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Day 359/365 - Friday Night, Restaurant Night

When I was a kid I looked forward to Friday nights, because that was the night my family always went out to dinner. I'm guessing we went out to eat on Fridays because that was the day Pops got paid. Generally we didn't go anywhere fancy. There were about 8-10 different local restaurants that we'd take turns making the rounds of on Friday nights. Still, there was something fun and exciting about going out to eat.

Tonight I met my friend Pia for dinner at The Source, Wolfgang Puck's restaurant and lounge in Washington, DC. Pia was running late, so I ordered myself a frou frou pear cocktail and just hung out in the lounge to wait. The photo above is of the corner booth in the lounge. I'd been wanting to try The Source for the past several months, so when Pia said she was going to be in town today and asked if I wanted to meet up with her for dinner it seemed like the perfect opportunity to check it out.

The Source is a very attractively designed space. It's modern, but not cold or sterile. The downstairs portion is occupied by the lounge, with the restaurant upstairs. The cocktails there were very good, as were the appetizers. The entrees are just okay, but the dessert is good. Final verdict -- I don't think I'd go back to The Source for dinner, but I would certainly go there for drinks and appetizers.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day 358/365 - Ra Ra Riot at the 9:30 Club

Tonight I caught Ra Ra Riot's sold out gig at the 9:30 Club. Not to damn them with faint praise, but their concert was by far the best $15 show I've ever seen. I wasn't in the mood for eating dinner at the 9:30 Club, so before the concert I popped into Creme on U Street to grab a quick bite. I'd never eaten there before, but when I saw they had shrimp and grits on the menu that clinched the deal for me. It was creamy and spicy and meaty and the perfect dish for a cool October evening.

There was a bit of a surprise when I got to the club -- they were requiring everyone with cameras to check them at the door. That's the first time they've done that in all the times I'd been there. Don't know why they suddenly decided to do that. There was someone official with a video camera filming Ra Ra Riot's set, so I don't know if that had something to do with the new restriction or not.

Anyhow, that's why we have a shot of my stamped hand holding my concert ticket today instead of a photo taken inside the 9:30 Club. Party poopers. Although I didn't want to eat dinner at the club, I did want to pick up dessert there, so my first stop once I checked my camera was to buy one of their cream-filled chocolate cupcakes. Those things are like cupcake nom-ageddon and they go surprisingly well with bourbon and coke.

Although the camera check policy was a downer, I was stoked to snag a barstool at the counter across from the upstairs bar. That's the first time that's ever happened to me. It kicked ass to have both a seat and a perfect, unobstructed view of the stage for the duration of the concert. Normally I have to stand throughout and I only catch bits of glimpses of the stage and the bands.

The first opener tonight was a band called Princeton. They were mildly unremarkable. The second opener, Maps and Atlases, was considerably better. Their sound was a bit of a mix of Kings of Leon and Vampire Weekend. They did have an unfortunate propensity for self-indulgent collective noodling, though. That's fine if you're just jamming together in your garage, but it can make it difficult for an audience to connect with you in a concert venue. It tends to make the crowd feel more like an intruder than a participant.

Ra Ra Riot had no such problems, thankfully. They have to be one of the only rock/pop bands out there that features both a violinist and a cellist. Not surprisingly, this adds a lush, plaintive tone to a lot of their songs. In their gig tonight they were fast, frenetic, and full of life as they whipped through most of the songs on their debut CD. They bounced and swayed around the stage, high-fived the crowd, lit up like candles of joy and exhiliration, and seemed to be enjoying their show at least as much as the audience did. Their performance tonight was a bouncy, bubbly blast and a heckuva bargain at 15 bucks.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

p.s. -- Only one more week to go until I no longer have to worry about coming up with something to photograph each and every day!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day 357/365 - See You Next Season

For a good portion of the baseball season, this is my home away from home. This is my seat at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. Tonight the Nats were facing the New York Mets in their final home game of the season. I stayed in my seat for the first few innings but then I got up and walked around the park, watching the game from different areas and angles.

I was trying to absorb as much as I could before the long, dark winter that is the offseason. Not to mention hitting up all my favorite concession stands one last time. Objectively speaking, the outcome of tonight's game was absolutely meaningless. Neither the Nats nor the Mets were fighting for a playoff spot. Both teams have had terrible seasons and the Nats had already wrapped up the worst record in all of baseball (and earned the accompanying first overall pick in the draft).

But for the Nats players and their fans, tonight's game meant a lot. A victory would seal the three-game sweep of the hated Mets and let everyone go home feeling good after a Hindenberg of a season. Going into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Nats were down 4-2 and were facing the Mets' multimillion dollar closer Francisco Rodriguez. Also known as "K-Rod" due to his propensity for striking out opposing batters, Rodriguez set the single season save record last year.

But the Nats' batters didn't give a damn about K-Rod's reputation. They loaded the bases and drove up Rodriguez's pitch count to nearly 40. Then, Adam Dunn drew a walk to force in a run. Down 4-3 with two outs and the bases loaded, Nats outfielder Justin Maxwell strode to the plate. He worked the count full, fouled off two pitches, and then with the crowd on its feet cheering him on, he hit a walk-off grand slam to seize the win.

It was AWESOME. Let's go Nationals! I'll see you next season.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 356/365 - The Air Force Memorial

This shot is for my father and his father before him. This is the U.S. Air Force Memorial. It is across from the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. The three metal spires are meant to represent the contrails of three jet aircraft performing the aerobatic "bomb burst" maneuver. The statues are an honor guard of airmen standing watch over the memorial.

My grandfather served with the Eighth Air Force in England during World War II. He was part of the crew onboard a B-17G bomber that flew missions over Nazi-occupied territory. Although he was responsible for dropping the plane's payload of bombs, he was not technically a bombardier. He told me that each flight of B-17s only had one actual bombardier, who was an officer. This was because only one plane in each flight had the top secret Norden bombsight installed. This approach reduced the risk that enemies would be able to recover one of the Norden bombsights from a wrecked B-17.

The bombardier for each flight would use the bombsight to determine when to drop his payload of bombs. Technical sergeants like my grandpa who were on the other planes in the flight would then follow the bombardier's cue and drop their bombs when he did. My grandpa told me that he and his fellow crewmembers flew 12 bombing missions over Germany. He said they got shot up pretty good on their very first mission, but after that they didn't take much damage. He couldn't remember which squadron he was in, but he remembered his B-17 was silver with a yellow tail and wingtips and it didn't have a name.

My Pops also served in the Air Force. He was a darkroom technician at the Strategic Air Command in Nebraska in the mid-1960s. It was his job to develop spy plane photos. The darkroom in which he worked was inside a big vault with a heavy steel door. There were guards constantly on duty outside and a loaded handgun was kept inside the darkroom and the technicians had orders to shoot any unauthorized personnel who entered.

My Pops had one of the highest security clearances a person can have and he still won't really talk about what the photos he developed were. I do know that he was called into duty in the middle of the night during the Cuban Missile Crisis and spent three straight days in the darkroom developing U-2 reconnaissance photos. He has grumbled about the fact that he and his fellow technicians were sworn to absolute secrecy and then a few days later there was the President on tv with a blow-up of one of the photos they'd developed showing it to the whole world. I remember seeing one of the spyplane photos of the Cuban missile sites in my junior high school history class textbook and feeling proud and curious if that was one the shots my Pops had developed.

Although my father and grandfather served in the Air Force, I had to be different and go my own way so I went into the Navy instead. It always gives me an added thrill when Navy beats Air Force in football, as I'm hoping they will do for the seventh consecutive time this Saturday. Some friends and I are trekking over to Annapolis to see the game in person and I've got my fingers crossed hoping the Midshipmen can pull out another win.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Day 355/365 - In the Dishwasher

For this week's self-portrait, I decided to revisit my shtick of putting my camera inside various appliances (i.e., fridge, oven, and clothes dryer) and do a shot from inside my dishwasher. Squeaky clean!

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Door to My Heart

This week's bonus photo from my archives is a shot of a heart-shaped doorhandle I took during my trip to NYC over Labor Day weekend.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Day 354/365 - Barest Glimmer of Hope

This is the famous Hope Diamond, the largest blue diamond in the world and the subject of a phony curse dreamed up for PR purposes. It used to be set in a necklace along with dozens of smaller white diamonds, but recently it was removed and is now being exhibited in the raw. In another few months, it will placed in a new setting that was selected by the public in an on-line poll. Welcome to the internet age.

The Hope Diamond is the centerpiece of the gems and minerals gallery at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. I dashed over there this morning before it got too terribly crowded to sneak a peek and the newly denuded diamond. It looked pretty cool on its own. Afterward, I wandered around and checked out some of the other exhibits, picked up a book on Henry Stanley the African explorer, and then popped over to the American History Museum to see the maritime gallery and Julia Child's kitchen.

Not a bad Sunday thus far. Now it's time to head over to the sports bar near my apartment to (hopefully) watch the Broncos trounce the hated Raiders. Go Denver!

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day 353/365 - Dead Meat

This is the Rough Rider, a gigantic BBQ rib available for $12 from the Teddy's BBQ concession stand at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. It was quite tasty. And messy. I had sauce from ear to ear by the time I finished it.

When eating ribs, I find there's no point in wiping your face until you're done. It's just going to get slathered in sauce again. There wasn't anything short about this rib. It made me think of the brontosaurus ribs Fred ordered in the opening credits to the Flintstones that were so big they tipped his car over.

Although the BBQ was good today, the baseball wasn't. The Nats got clobbered by the Braves 11-5 and lost their 102nd game of the season. On the bright side, this was the next to last game I'll be going to this season, so at most I'll only have to endure one more loss in person.

Thank heaven for small favors. And good BBQ.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Day 352/365 - A Midsummer Night's Dream

After not having seen any of Synetic Theater's productions in the ten prior years I've been living in the DC area, I seem to be making up for lost time. Tonight I went to see my third production of theirs this year, a silent version of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream." The story was performed entirely through dance and pantomime with no speaking parts at all.

"Midsummer Night's Dream" has never been one of my favorite of Shakespeares's works and as heretical as this may be to say, I think I like it better without the dialogue. The plot, such as it is, involves a love triangle -- scratch that -- a love hexagon featuring criscrossed paramours, bumbling actors, and warring pixies and sprites.

It's a quick production, running only 90 minutes without an intermission. As is almost always the case with Synetic, the choreography is fantastic. Among the cast the standout performers are the delightfully expressive Helena and the half-Slinky, half-Plastic Man Puck, who moves in ways you wouldn't think a human could absent demonic possession. The play's score is reasonably good and the staging, though minimal, is effective. As is also almost always the case with Synetic, the costuming and make up are sensational.

This one makes up for the lackluster "Lysistrata" they performed earlier this year. Now I'm looking forward to the version of "Dracula" they have coming up next month.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 351/365 - Deserting a Sinking Ship

The Nats dropped their 100th game tonight. That makes the second consecutive season that they've hit triple digits in losses. It also marks the third time in DC baseball history that a team has had back-to-back 100 loss seasons.

The first time it was the original Senators. The second time it was the expansion Senators. Now it's the Nationals. Hopefully there won't be a fourth time.

At least the Nats are doing it right. If you're going to lose, you might as well be the best at it. That way you get the first overall pick in the draft. That netted the Nats Stephen Strasburg in the last draft and hopefully it will get them Bryce Harper in the next draft.

That is, if the Pirates don't overtake them for the worst record in all of baseball. There's no point in only being second worst.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 350/365 - Chaaaarge!

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 349/365 - Three Mile Island, Love Canal, Nats Town

Apparently the invitation to "Get Your Red On" now refers to the red faces of chagrined fans and embarrassed onlookers. I think next year's marketing slogan should be "Hey, How Much Worse Could It Get?" Oy, vey.

The Nats welcomed the arrival of Autumn tonight in the same manner which they greeted Spring and Summer -- by playing lousy baseball. They rolled over and played dead for the visiting Dodgers tonight, losing by the mortifying margin of 14-2.

In tonight's loss, the Nats conjured up their customary tragic formula of poor pitching, dodgy defense, and boneheaded baserunning. Even the joys of alliteration don't make that fun to say.

Of course, the ongoing travesty that is baseball in DC didn't stop me from swinging by the team store on my way out of the ballpark and buying a Strasburg t-shirt. I'm such a sucker.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 348/365 - Beer, Nachos, and Star Trek

I missed out on seeing the newest "Star Trek" movie in its first run in theaters. My buddy Chris and I were going to see it on one of our Monday guy night at the movies, but because of scheduling issues we never got around to it. I figured I'd have to wait and catch it on DVD, but then Chris' wife Des noticed that it was playing at the Arlington Cinema 'N Drafthouse and gave us a heads up. So tonight I drank beer, ate nachos and fried mac and cheese, and finally saw "Star Trek."

I think this was the first J.J. Abrams movie that I unreservedly enjoyed. Generally his films fall apart in the final act. Most of the time it's like he has ADD and loses interest in developing a project all the way through to the end, so the last third or so tends to suck and not make much sense. This one was good thoughout, however. It excellently balanced character development, action scenes, romance, and special effects and was perfectly pitched to appeal both to diehard Trek fans and newcomers who didn't know or didn't care about the "Star Trek" universe.

All the key touches were there: Kirk made out with a hot green chick, Bones groused "Dammit, I'm a doctor not a [fill in the blank]," Spock said "fascinating," Scotty said he was giving all the engines had to give, Uhura was hot, Chekov spoke in a bad Russian accent, and the alien baddies got blasted. Yep, that's "Star Trek" all right.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Post-It Note Impression No. 11

For this week's extra shot from my archives, we have this Post-It Note impression I did yesterday. This time, instead of being a person I was an event. Quick, what event am I?

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Day 347/365 - Shaving Self-Portrait

For this week's self-portrait we have me shaving. Oooh, thrilling. During the week I use my Braun electric razor, but on Sundays (or sometimes Mondays) I go the old-fashioned blade and shaving cream route to start with a clean slate. When I was in college and for ten years after I got out of the Navy, I had a beard. Then I got tired of messing with it and shaved it off a few years back. When I get tired of shaving every day, I'll probably grow it back again.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 346/365 - Thievery Corporation at the Pier Six Pavilion

My friend Adriana recently tipped me to Thievery Corporation, a DC-based pair of producer/musicians/DJs who make smart, funky, international lounge music. Turns out they also own the Eighteenth Street Lounge, one of my favorite bars in DC. I bought one of their CDs to give them a try, and then quickly went out and bought six more. When I found out that the only area stop on their current tour would be at the Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore, I decided to take the train over and catch their gig.

It was one of the most enjoyable concerts I've ever attended. The crowd leaped from their seats at the first note and didn't sit back down the entire show. There was also some serious dancing going on in the aisles, although not by my stiff, arhythmic self. Thievery Corporation was supported during the show by a diverse array of performers, singers, and rappers. In addition to having a horn section, it was the only concert I've ever been to that featured an electric sitar.

If you get the chance, you have to go see them live. A Thievery Corporation concert is like a U.N. of funk and cool. Over the course of the evening you'll hear Brazil, India, France, Cuba, Jamaica, the Middle East, and the U.S. If only the real nations of the world blended together so well.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day 345/365 - Ingrid Michaelson at the 9:30 Club

New York-based indie pop singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson was playing an early gig at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC tonight and I was among the sold out crowd in attendance. I don't watch much broadcast tv apart from sports, but apparently a bunch of her songs have been played on various episodes of "Grey's Anatomy." Which goes a long way toward explaining the heavily female demographic for her concert tonight.

I first heard her song "The Way I Am" on BBC Radio 1 and was hooked from that point. Her concert tonight was very good. She was funny, sweet, quick, clever, adorable, entertaining, and appreciative of her audience. And her voice was stronger than I expected. A good gig all around. Too bad she had to get offstage by 9 so they could start prepping for Moby's concert later tonight. I'd have been quite happy to keep listening to her a while longer.

Wonder if she's in the market for a civil servant husband?

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day 344/365 - It's Later Than You Think

A Dozen Things I Would Like to Do at Some Point:

- Ride an old-fashioned steam train
- Scuba dive
- Visit India
- Attend a World Series/Super Bowl
- Go on a safari
- Hang glide
- Ride in a hot air balloon
- Learn to bake bread from scratch
- Attend carnival in Rio de Janeiro
- Ride in a biplane
- See an opera at the Met in NYC
- Visit Tahiti

What's on your to-do list?

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Day 343/365 - Big Bowl of Comfort

My sinuses were still all 'swolled' up today so I stayed home from work again. I decided to make the most of it though by fixing myself a big bowl of chocolate Malt O' Meal for breakfast. Malt O' Meal is a Cream of Wheat type thing that they don't seem to sell on the east coast, so whenever I head home to the midwest I make sure I buy a box to smuggle back with me in my luggage.

I've loved the chocolate variety ever since I was a kid. My mom would get up every morning to fix a hot breakfast for my sisters, my brother and I before we went off to school and one of my favorite of the things she'd make for us was chocolate Malt O'Meal. Even today, when I am well past childhood, eating a bowl of it still makes me feel snug, and comfy, and loved.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day 342/365 - If Only Life Came with One of These

I felt considerably better today than I did yesterday, but still not 100 percent. I didn't sneeze much and my eyes were mostly fine, but I was very drained after being run through the wringer by my allergies yesterday.

Unfortunately, life doesn't come with a stop button and I still have a lot of work that has to be done by the end of the month, so I went into the office for a bit this afternoon to pick up some files to work on and shoehorn in a quick conference call. I think I'll be pretty much back to normal tomorrow, although I may go ahead and take the morning off just to be sure. I have enough files with me to keep me busy.

No rest for the weary. Well, maybe a bit. I did take a three hour nap this afternoon after all.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 341/365 - Cylon Self-Portrait

These are my eyes on allergies. I had thought hayfever season was over for the year, but mine flared up today with a vengeance. My eyes are puffy and itchy, my nose is running like a faucet, and I'm sneezing like a machine gun. All that despite the fact that I took an allergy pill and put drops in my eyes right after I got up this morning. Some days nothing works.

Today is apparently one of those days. I only lasted two hours at work today before I gave up and came home. Now I'm really wishing I hadn't already purchased a ticket to a seminar on the ancient Maya at the Smithsonian tonight.

I haven't always had hayfever. It's something that first cropped up when I was in high school. Prior to that I'd thought allergies were something you had to be born with. I didn't realize you could develop them at any age. Hopefully one of these years I'll grow out of mine just like I grew into it.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Fortress America

For this week's extra photo from my archives, we have this shot I took of the Old Post Office Pavilion in DC earlier this week.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Day 340/365 - Not My Normal Sunday

Given the stack of files I still have piled up on my desk that have to be cleared by the end of the month, I thought I should probably go into the office this weekend to whittle them down a bit. It's Sunday, the Nats were playing the Marlins, it's the first weekend of football season, it was sunny and gorgeous outside, and I was sitting in my office doing work. Bleh. To make it even more enjoyable, they shut off the ventilation in the building over the weekend to save money so it was hot and stuffy in my office. Good thing I wore shorts. Can't do that on a regular work day.

At least I got to listen to the Nats game on the radio while I worked. I stayed for three hours, knocked out ten grant packages, decided that was enough, and left. Given the gorgeousity going on outside, I opted for walking home rather than taking Metro. It was a nice little reward. On the walk home, I detoured over to the floating fish market on Maine Avenue to treat myself to a late lunch.

The floating fish market is a cluster of barges at the southwest waterfront in DC. It's the oldest continuously operating fish market in the U.S., having been there since 1805. The barges offer a wide variety of fresh fish and seafood, along with cooked meals. Today I went with a combo platter featuring two whiting filets, three scallops, hush puppies, and cole slaw. That and a large lemonade set me back $15.

The combo meals come with 3-4 slices of white bread, which I've never really understood and don't eat, but I do enjoy tearing them up into chunks and feeding them to the ducks, seagulls, and pigeons that cluster around the fish market. After lunch, I continued on my walk, took some time to stretch out on the grass under a shade tree overlooking the Potomac River, and then got home, flopped on the couch, and took a two hour nap. Now that was more like my normal Sunday.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Day 339/365 - Opera in the Outfield

Tonight was the Washington National Opera's second annual "Opera in the Outfield" and I went along with my friends Chris, Desiree, and Adriana and some of my co-workers. For the past two years, the WNO has aired a simulcast of its season-opening performance on the big HD scoreboard at Nationals Park (DC's baseball stadium). It's completely free to attend and you're allowed to sit in either the stands in the lower seating bowl or park your butt on a stretch of outfield grass.

Last year we sat in the stands until the intermission and then moved down onto the grass, but this year we opted to spend the entire time in the outfield. The sound quality is certainly much better in the stands, but it's just more fun to be laying back on a blanket on the grass under the stars and watching the opera. It's always a funny contrast when the simulcast begins and they show the crowd at the Kennedy Center on the screen. They're all gussied up in tuxedos and fancy gowns and there we are in jeans and t-shirts, eating hot dogs and drinking beer.

This year's season opener for the WNO was Rossini's comic gem, "The Barber of Seville." Although I'd seen "The Marriage of Figaro" before, I'd never seen its prequel "Barber of Seville." As with last year, before the simulcast began they showed a Bugs Bunny cartoon on the screen. This time it was the perfectly appropriate "Rabbit of Seville." The opera was even funnier than the cartoon. It's a story of love, greed, disguises, schemes, ruses and plots and the WNO's staging had several broad, slapstick-ish elements that were hilarious.

The singers in tonight's company were all excellent, and for a change the male performers were just as skilled at acting as were the women. It's been my experience that female opera performers are equally good at both the acting and singing required by the genre, while the men tend to focus almost entirely on their singing and settle for the most wooden, rudimentary, declamatory style of acting. The male performers in "Barber of Seville" thankfully didn't settle for that and their acting was generally excellent.

The crowd seemed bigger than it did last year and the concession lines were fairly crazy, but it was still a great night out. After the opera, my friend Chris got touched by divine inspiration and decided we should make a run to Krispy Kreme. As we neared the store, we saw that the "hot donuts now" sign was lit and we got as giddy as little kids. The four of us split a dozen donuts, which meant we each got to pick three. Chris and Des went for three of the hot glazed, I went for three of the chocolate iced cake donuts, and Adri mixed and matched. Then we sat there under the glowing neon sign and scarfed them all down. It was the perfect nightcap to our evening of high culture and low comedy.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day 338/365 - My 9/11 Story

This is the exact spot where I was standing on the morning of September 11, 2001 when the terrorist attacks occurred. It's a little park adjoining the back lawn of the White House of Washington, DC. The Eleventh was the second day of my brother's vacation in DC. He, my sister-in-law, and a couple of their friends came out to visit me and see the sights. They'd toured the National Mall on their own the day before while I went to work, but I took the Eleventh off so I could take them on a tour of the White House. I don't remember what else we had planned to do that day.

The four of them had battled DC traffic the day before, but on the Eleventh we followed my usual commuting pattern instead. We caught the bus that stopped at the end of my street and rode it to the Pentagon, where we caught the subway into the District. We got into DC at a little after 7:00 a.m. to get in line at the White House Visitor's Center for tour tickets, only to find that because it was no longer peak tourist season, they weren't bothering with tickets. Tours started at 9:00 a.m. and if you wanted to go on one you just got in line at this little park and waited your turn. After finding that out, we went to get breakfast, spent some time sitting around in Freedom Plaza, and then came to this spot to get in line.

We were standing there along with a gaggle of other visitors. The squirrels in that park were very accustomed to people and they were coming up and eating out people's hands while other tourists laughed and took photos. It was just another quiet, pleasant, run-of-the-mill morning in Washington, DC. My sister-in-law, who is very friendly, wandered up to the head of the line to chat with the NPS ranger who was standing there and then came back to relay the fact that he'd told her two planes had just hit the Twin Towers in New York. I knew something was happening then. One plane could have been some sort of accident. Two had to be something more sinister. I was puzzled and uneasy but didn't know what to make of things at that point.

My sister-in-law then went off to visit the ladies' room at the Ellipse and shortly thereafter my brother and I looked up and saw a crowd of people running in our direction and away from the White House. The White House was being evacuated. My brother and I walked over to the ladies' room to corral my sister-in-law and that's when I saw an enormous cloud of smoke on the horizon to the southwest. It was the widest and darkest cloud of smoke I'd ever seen and it just kept pouring up into the sky. My sister-in-law caught up with us and told us someone had said another plane had hit the CIA building. I remember frowning in the direction of the smoke column and saying "that's not where the CIA building is. The CIA is out in the middle of nowhere." Then after a pause it hit me. "That's where the Pentagon is." We had just been there a few hours earlier.

I knew then we had to put some distance between us and any other likely targets. I grabbed my brother and my sister-in-law and we went to retrieve their friends who were still standing along this wall. The four of us then started heading toward the Federal Triangle subway station to take the train home. At that time, I lived on the border of Alexandria and Annandale. The nearest Metro stop to me was the Van Dorn Street Station. We'd have to catch a bus there that would take us to my apartment. I knew we weren't going to be getting off at the Pentagon and catching the bus that had brought us in.

On our walk to the Federal Triangle station, one of my sister-in-law's friends stopped to film the scene with her video camera. I was more than a bit brusque and bluntly told her that now was not the time to be taking movies. Now was the time to be getting the hell out of town. We got on a train and headed toward Virginia. There was a small, Middle Eastern-looking man on our train who looked absolutely terrified that he would be singled out and attacked by an angry mob. My sister-in-law, who is one of the sweetest women you could ever meet, tried to reassure him and make him feel better as our train traveled along.

After making a few stops, the train driver came over the PA and told us that no trains were going south of the Pentagon station. We were going to be stopping at Rosslyn, where we could catch a bus to take us further. Things were surprisingly organized when we got off at Rosslyn and went outside to the street. There was a Metro supervisor there who told us where to stand and informed us that buses were on the way to take us south into Virginia. He wasn't sure how long it would take for them to arrive.

I thought it would most likely be at least another half-hour before the bus came, so I walked across the street to a fast food restaurant to buy a drink. I had just bought my drink when I looked out the window and saw that a bus was pulling up. I hustled back across and the street to rejoin my brother and company and we piled on that first bus leaving Rosslyn. The bus driver told us that she would be taking us to the Pentagon City station where we could catch another subway train to continue our journey.

That's when our odyssey really began. Before we'd gotten much farther south Metro HQ contacted our bus driver and told her she couldn't take us to Pentagon City. We then wound up making multiple loops around Rosslyn and along the Potomac River. I remember pointing out the Watergate Complex to my brother and sister-in-law and then seeing it go by again several time as we kept driving in circles while our driver was on the radio with Metro HQ seeking new instructions.

I'd never seen so many people out walking along the streets. Most hadn't been as fortunate as we had been in catching a bus and they were all streaming homeward on foot along the side of the roads. As we were making multiple circuits of Rosslyn, I tried to call my parents on my cellphone to let them know we were all right, but the network was overloaded and I couldn't get a dial tone. My sister-in-law didn't have any better luck in trying to reach her and my brother's children.

Finally, the bus driver announced that she would be taking us to Shirlington. I knew that we could catch a bus there that would take us to my apartment. When we got to Shirlington, my sister-in-law walked over to a gas station to use the rest room and when she came back she told us what she'd seen on the news reports on the tv at the gas station. She'd also finally been able to get through to my niece to let her know that we were all okay. I still hadn't had any luck in reaching my parents.

We waited at the Shirlington stop for about 30 minutes before the bus came and finally took us home. From the phone in my apartment I was at last able to call my parents and reassure them that we were okay and tell them we had gotten out of DC and were back safe at my place. Like everyone else in the country, we then spent the rest of that day sitting in front of the tv as the news of that day's tragic events unfolded. Like everyone else in the country, we were also shocked, saddened, frightened, worried, confused, and angry.

But we were alive and healthy and together and that is a great blessing that many other thousands of people were denied that terrible September day.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Day 337/365 - Circling the Bases

This is the mobile that hangs from the ceiling near the home plate gate at Nationals Park in DC. There are four big cylinders with baseball players on them that rotate slowly as a nearby speaker plays "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." It's a cool, artsy element of the ballpark that most people miss because not much traffic passes through the home plate gate. And the people that do pass by tend not to look up.

There were a host of reasons to skip tonight's game: it was a rather chilly evening at the ballpark, there are only a couple weeks left in the season, the Nats are 48-92, they'd lost 9 of their last 10 games, they were playing the defending World Series champs, and they long ago surrendered any hope of making the playoffs. But I went despite all that.

Tonight's game was being started by once and current Nats heavyweight hurler Livan Hernandez (Viva Livo!). It was also the major league debut of Nats shortstop and September call-up Ian Desmond. Desmond had quite the coming out party. He got his first hit and his first home run and drove in four runs, a franchise record for a player making his major league debut. He also made an error on an airmailed throw to first, but atoned for it in the end.

After quickly going down 2-0 in the first inning, the Nats tied it up the third, scored the go ahead run in the fourth, and surged to a 6-run lead in the fifth. Then things got a little more interesting than they needed to in the 9th. The Phillies scored 5 runs in the top of the frame, with the majority of them coming on a pinch hit grand slam by Matt Stairs.

With the Nats clinging precariously to a 1-run lead with only 1 out and runners on the corners, Ian Desmond scooped up a Ryan Howard grounder and started the game-ending double play to preserve the victory for Livo. And that's why you go to games at the end of the season when both the temperature and your team are lowly -- you never know what might happen.

Baseball... it's like a slow motion roller coaster.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 336/365 - Muffin Man

For this week's self-portrait we have a shot of me standing in the kitchen of my apartment with a batch of apple ginger muffins fresh from the oven. We're having a little breakfast get-together at my office tomorrow morning to welcome a new attorney into the fold. Various members of the office will be baking/buying treats to bring into work and I decided to make a batch of muffins. They turned out to be pretty good, although you can't really taste the ginger in them.

p.s. - the recipe I used can be found here.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Day 335/365 - 700 Sundays

Tonight I went to the National Theater to see Billy Crystal's one-man show "700 Sundays." I had never seen Billy Crystal on stage before and I was hoping he was still funny. He was, although the show was also sad. It's a biographical reminiscence of his time growing up on Long Island and the wonderful and eclectic cast of characters that passed through his life. It's funny, sweet, sad, and surprisingly informative. Most of the laughs are to be had in the first half, where I laughed so much my stomach hurt and I got a bit lightheaded. The show takes a more somber turn in the second half, but there are still several funny moments sprinkled throughout.

It's a show about life, love, laughs, and loss. If you're familiar with his work you'll have heard some of the material before, but that doesn't make it any less worth seeing. After it ends, you know so much about Billy Crystal that you feel almost as though he were an old friend of yours. I didn't realize that tonight was the first time he'd performed the show in front of an audience for two years. Despite the long layoff, he was great.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Day 334/365 - Monday in Manhattan

For the final day of my Labor Day weekend in New York I got up, checked out of my hotel, left my bag, and headed to Brooklyn. There is a park in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn that borders the East River and sits between the spans of the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. There are great views from there I'd wanted to visit it the first time I went to Brooklyn back in 2001, but I couldn't find it then. As I discovered repeatedly on this trip, navigating New York City is much easier when you have an iPhone.

After finding the park, I walked back into Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge and went to get breakfast at the Empire Diner. It's such a cool little restaurant. It looks the way all diners should, and the food is not bad either. I believe it was one of Bette Davis' favorite places to eat in the city. With a bellyfull of french toast and bacon, I set off for Central Park. This was the first time I'd been to the uppermost portion of the park. There is a wilderness section there called the North Woods that was landscaped to resemble the forests of upstate New York. I even found a waterfall there. It's amazing to me that Central Park was built from scratch with truckload after truckload of rocks and dirt. I originally thought it was just a part of the city they'd preserved in its natural state, but it's not. It's entirely manmade.

When I'd finished meandering through the park, I went to the Museum of the City of New York. They had a really cool historical photography exhibit there, along with waterfront dioramas and recreations of old home interiors. I picked up a nice book full of photos taken in New York between 1920 and 1945. I've wished for some time I could have visited the city during that period, and now I guess I sort of can. After the museum, it was time for me to dash back to my hotel, pick up my bag, and head to Penn Station to catch my train back to DC.

So ended the final day of my weekend getaway, and what a whirlwind trip it was.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - New York Vignette

For this week's extra photo from my archives, we have this shot I took last Thanksgiving of a pair of passersby framed in the opening of a Central Park bridge in New York City.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Day 333/365 - So Long to Summer

I think I rode the subway more today than I ever have on any one day. I started out the morning by following Duke Ellington's advice and taking the "A" train up to 125th Street. 125th is the heart and historic main street of Harlem. I walked along 125th and saw both the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater. It's not the original Cotton Club, but still. It's the Cotton Club. Then it was back on the subway to Fort Tryon Park at the very northern tip of Manhattan to go to the Cloisters.

The Cloisters is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and houses a collection of medieval art and architecture. In addition to the art it contains, the building itself is also very interesting. It's composed of the scavenged remains of several old French monasteries and it's at the top of a hill in a forested park that overlooks the river. I'd been wanting to visit there, but given that it is so far away from the main part of Manhattan I'd never made the time until today. Glad I did.

After the Cloisters, I got back on the train for a verrrrrry long subway ride from the northernmost part of Manhattan to the southernmost part of Brooklyn, Coney Island to be exact. I was determined to go to the beach at least once this summer. It was late afternoon when I finally got there and the beach was largely empty. It was a bit chilly and the wind was kicking up and sand was filling the air so much that it looked smoggy or hazy out. I didn't care. I was in Coney Island.

My first stop was at Nathan's famous hot dog stand to grab a hot dog with sauerkraut and a corn dog. Then I walked along the beach, waded in the ocean (brrrr!), and wandered down the boardwalk to Brighton Beach before hopping back on the subway and heading to the west side of Manhattan to see the High Line. The High Line is a set of old elevated railroad tracks that have been converted into an urban park. The tracks used to take freight trains directly into the old warehouses that used to populate the lower west side of the city. It's an interesting little park and it gives you a view of Manhattan that you don't normally get -- above the street but below the rooftops.

No rest for the weary, it was time to go back to my hotel, change clothes, grab dinner at the Bridge Cafe, and then dash off to Birdland to hear some jazz. I got there 15 minutes late but it worked out fine because the band started playing seconds after I arrived. First time I've ever made a dramatic entrance. It was Andy Farber's Big Band. I'd never heard of them before, but they were quite good. They played a mix of their own compositions, along with big band and bebop jazz. It was Birdland, it was New York, and it was jazz. I was in heaven.

When the gig ended, the night still wasn't over yet for me. On the way back downtown I stopped off at McSorley's Old Ale House for a beer (or two, actually). McSorley's is another place I'd been meaning to visit but had never done so. It's sort of cool. They serve one thing there -- beer -- and it comes in two varieties, light and dark. I went with the dark. It's probably the most unhygenic bar I've ever been in, but it was fun to go.

After finishing my beers, it was one last subway ride back to my hotel and the second day of my weekend getaway finally came to a close.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Day 332/365 - I Cover the Waterfront

Caught the 9:30 train up to New York today, checked into my hotel, swung by TKTS to get a discount seat for "The 39 Steps," and then headed over to the South Street Seaport to tour some old ships, check out the Seaport Museum, and wander along the riverbank for a while.

Then it was back to the hotel to change and off to dinner at Wolfgang's Steakhouse. I hadn't been out for steak in a while so I figured I'd go get a good one while I was in New York and I did. I ordered the filet mignon and it was several inches thick and as soft as butter. Damn, it was good. After dinner, it was time for the show. "The 39 Steps" is a comic adaptation of the old Hitchcock movie about spies and murder. The cast of four plays dozens of parts in a hammy, over-the-top style and there are lots of quick costume changes. It's even got shadow puppets. It's a funny, imaginative play.

When the play ended, I stopped by the Junior's in Time Square for my post-theatre cheesecake and coffee and then headed back to my hotel to listen to an episode of the old Damon Runyon Theater radio program on my iPod before falling into bed.

Thus went the first day of my weekend getaway.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Day 331/365 - Choo Choo Ch'Boogeying

A couple weeks ago I decided to spend Labor Day weekend in NYC, so today during lunch I walked over to Union Station to pick up the ticket for my train ride north tomorrow morning. I had been waffling over whether or not to go until I got lucky and snagged a $159 a night rate at the Best Western at the South Street Seaport off Quikbook. When I looked into booking directly through BW, they were going to charge me over $300 per night. No, thanks. Then I found the same room at the same hotel for half-price on Quikbook. Yes, please. Damn, I sound like a commercial.

Anyhow, tomorrow I head up to NYC. The plan is to see the mariner's museum, Highline Park, the Cloisters, the City Museum, 125th Street (the 'main street' of Harlem), have dinner at Wolfgang's Steak House and a beer at McSorley's Ale House, catch "The 39 Steps" on Broadway, get some cheesecake from Junior's, go to a jazz concert at Birdland, walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and spend some time sitting on the beach at Coney Island. And maybe squeeze in visits to the Met, Central Park, and the MoMA. All between 1 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Monday.

Ambitious, but do-able.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 330/365 - Good Stuff

I met up with Jenn and Erin for lunch at Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill today. Good Stuff is a gourmet burger joint owned by "Top Chef" alumnus Spike Mendelsohn. We'd planned on lunching at Sonoma, but it turned out they were closed for the week (?!) so we fell back on Good Stuff.

Erin and Jenn were nice enough to wait for me, even though I was 15 minutes late (sorry!) due entirely to poor planning on my part (I didn't think the line at the bank would move that slooooooooowly). I hate being late. It's just rude and inconsiderate.

I'd been to Good Stuff a couple times before and had tried their patty melt and a bbq bacon cheeseburger. Both were yummy. This time I opted for the turkey burger with a dollop of old bay mayo, a small order of rosemary fries, and a strawberry shake. Yum on all counts. (Note for next time, try the toasted marshmallow shake)

The company today was even better than the food. The three of us held forth on such varied subjects of discourse as the inanity of "Twilight" and its fans, the fact that Nicholas Sparks is just plain mean, Jenn's decade long sabbatical from eating pork (which she'd broken just in time to get bacon on her burger today), melon soup, and the blasphemous heathens who are the new owners of Julia Child's old house in Massachussetts.

Good stuff, indeed.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 329/365 - Iron Man

For this week's self-portrait we have me reflected in the soleplate of my iron. I hate ironing. The only downside to casual Friday is having to iron my shirts. My dress shirts for the rest of the workweek are all wrinkle-free, so that's not an issue. Someone needs to make wrinkle-free casual shirts.

It's not bad during fall/winter because then I can just throw on a sweatshirt along with my khakis and be good to go. But summer/spring require ironing. Or just saying 'the hell with it' and leaving the house all wrinkledy. I am known to do that as well.

Okay, time to quit stalling and go iron up this batch of shirts in a steam-powered frenzy of flattening.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 328/365 - Scrabbleccino

For a change I actually got to play Scrabble against a human being tonight instead of jousting with my PC/iPod/iPhone. Erin M and I met up at Peregrine, a locally-owned coffeehouse in the Eastern Market section of Washington, DC, for coffee, pastry, and a rousing game of Scrabble. Although it verged on being a bit chilly by the time the game wrapped up, we sat outside on the patio and enjoyed the 'false fall' weather. We both suspect that DC is due for at least one more bout of hot, muggy, and nasty weather before we move into real fall.

It was a well-played contest. She started out ahead, but I slowly chipped away at her lead and edged into the front and then just as I was starting to anticipate a victory, she stormed back to the fore with a brilliant jowly/curry combo that made double use of a "Y" on a triple letter score spot and ran through a double word score space to boot. There was just no coming back from that. She wound up winning 309-300.


(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 327/365 - Post-It Note Impression No. 10

Time for another one of my patented Post-It Note impressions. Quick, who am I this time?

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - One Thousand Paper Cranes

This week's extra photo from my archives is a shot I took of a thousand paper cranes hanging in the window of a salon in Georgetown a while back.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Day 326/365 - Flicker

flick⋅er /ˈflɪkər/ [flik-er]

–verb (used without object)
1. to burn unsteadily; shine with a wavering light: The candle flickered in the wind and went out.
2. to move to and fro; vibrate; quiver: The long grasses flickered in the wind.
3. to flutter.

–verb (used with object)
4. to cause to flicker.

5. an unsteady flame or light.
6. a flickering movement.
7. a brief occurrence or appearance: a flicker of hope.
8. Slang. A motion picture.
9. Ophthalmology. the visual sensation of flickering that occurs when the interval between intermittent flashes of light is too long to permit fusion.

bef. 1000; ME flikeren (v.) OE flicorian to flutter; c. D flikkeren

This was just a fill-in shot because I spent the entire day sitting on my couch watching old movies about Broadway and touring companies, producers trying to stage shows, understudies becoming stars, and lots of singing and dancing. Because of that I didn't have anything to take photos of today, so I just looked around my apartment and shot this candle. After I started trying to think of a title for it though I realized it was the perfect shot for today.

Flicker is 1930s slang for a movie and its homonym is Flickr. So this shot manages to capture two of my loves -- old movies and photography. Plus it sort of looks like a melted tomato, and that's just cool.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 325/365 - Freshly Shorn

For this week's self-portrait we have the nape of my neck not long after I'd gotten a haircut. I've been needing one for the past couple weeks, but I had other stuff I wanted to do on a Saturday afternoon so I kept putting off getting an appointment. My hair had gotten pretty wild and woolly in the meantime. When it gets that long it's like having a tumbleweed on your head. Now it's short enough on the sides and back that it will lay flat and the only curly part is on top. It's much easier to deal with when it's this short.

I'm the only person in my immediate family with curly hair. Everyone else's locks are straight as an arrow. I'm not the milkman's kid, though. My maternal grandfather and both uncles on my mom's side had/have curly hair. I used to try and fight it and brush it out straight, but the best I could ever do was get it to be bushy and wavy. Eventually I just gave up and let it be curly.

I started life out as a blond before I wised up and my hair started turning brown :P It's been getting steadily darker ever since about the second grade and now it's damn near black. I never tried dying my hair any funky colors, although I did toy around with the notion of putting a white streak down the side when I was in high school. Then one of my sisters pointed out that if I did I'd look like a skunk, so that put the kibosh on that idea.

For most of the time that I was in the Navy I kept my hair cut in a "high and tight," which means it was shaved on the side and back and there was a patch about the size of a paperback book that was short enough to lay flat on top. That was the easiest haircut in the world to deal with. Didn't even have to comb it. I could just run my hand over the top and I was good to go. After I got out of the Navy, I let my hair grow out and didn't get the back of it cut for over a year just because I could.

Generally I hate having to mess with my hair and from time to time I've mulled over the idea of shaving it off. Problem is, I had it shaved off when I entered boot camp and it turns out that when it is bereft of cover, my head is not very aesthetically pleasing. It sorta bulges out over my ears and there's a dip in the top of it. Basically, it looks like a big fat kidney bean laying on its back. Not the best look in the world.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 324/365 - Jack of Many Trades

A complaint from JW on her Twitter feed about grocery baggers last week gave me the idea of doing a shot that would provide me with an excuse to ramble on about all the jobs I've ever held in my life. And so here it is...

1. Grocery bagger at Safeway - My first job ever and I hated it. Does anyone enjoy their first job? They called us "courtesy clerks" and in addition to bagging groceries, we had to wrangle grocery carts, run price checks, and redeem aluminum cans brought in by recyclers. I worked there for about six months and then quit.

2. Game attendant at an amusement park - This job was fairly cool. When you weren't working you got free admission to the park. It was a seasonal, summertime job and I worked there four years, partly during high school and partly during undergrad. The first year I worked a section of skill games that involved things like shooting baskets or throwing softballs at milkbottles to try and win prizes. The next three years I worked a remote control boat stand. That was great. I worked on my own without much in the way of supervision and I mostly just made change for people. When things were slow I would just turn one of the machines on and drive a boat around the little lagoon.

3. Busboy at a semi-fancy restaurant - Well, fancy for suburban Missouri anyhow. Hated this job too. I had it one winter in high school in between gigs at the amusement park. Cleaning up after people at a restaurant sucks. Even worse was having to occasionally act as 'muffin boy' and walk through the dining rooms with a muffin pan asking diners "would you care for a muffin?" Man I hated that part. On the plus side, I learned how to walk on a slippery/greasy restaurant kitchen floor, a skill that has proven useful on icy winter days.

4. Temp worker for an employment agency - I did this for a few months after graduating college before my Navy enlistment kicked in. I worked in an ice plant, an archery company, and a plastics factory. My mom was actually temping at the plastics factory at the same time, but we worked different shifts.

5. Operations Specialist, U.S. Navy - Had this hitch for four years. I operated radar, communications, and data network equipment, did some navigation, and spent a whole lot of time cleaning and painting (which is why I now refuse to help friends paint when they move to a new place. I'll help with anything but that.). Being in the Navy was okay. I mostly enjoyed it the first three years, but by the fourth year I was more than ready to go. On the plus side, I got to go through the Panama Canal, cross the equator, and make more than a few trips to the Caribbean.

6. Receiving clerk at a Dollar Store - I did this for about nine months after I got out of the Navy while I was building up my Virginia residency so I could get in-state tuition for law school. I unloaded trucks, tracked shipments, and stocked shelves. It wasn't a bad gig. My bosses were pretty cool. They even taught me how to rebuild the alternator on my Jeep during lunch one day.

7. Temp worker for an employment agency, part deux - The summer before entering law school I quit the Dollar Store and headed home to spend some time with my family after not seeing them much the previous few years. This time I just helped set up a Harry and David store at an outlet mall and then stayed on for a bit as a stock boy.

8. Research assistant for a law school professor - Did this the summer of my 1L year. It wasn't a bad gig. Mostly I just did a lot of cite-checking and footnoting for an article a friend of the professor's wrote on ceasefire agreements. Spent a ton of time in the library, but I got to set my own hours.

9. Judicial clerk for a state circuit court judge - During my second and third years at law school, I clerked part-time for a local judge. He was a great guy and I learned a lot. One of the opinions I drafted for him wound up being the single-most read state court opinion that year, so that was pretty exciting (it was about whether an accident report prepared after a hand dryer fell off the wall in a Ponderosa bathroom and landed on a woman's foot could be withheld under the work product privilege. Or was it a paper towel dispenser? I can't remember.).

10. Summer associate at Alcoa - I worked for Alcoa's Office of General Counsel in Pittsburgh during my 2L summer. One time I got to fly to upstate NY and back on the corporate jet to go to a meeting about a deal to sell excess electricity generated by an aluminum factory power plant. The fridge on the plane was stocked with beer and I had one on the flight back. It was an all right job, even though the bastards didn't offer me a permanent gig after graduation. That's why I now take especial delight whenever I hear some bad news about Alcoa earnings and why I was thrilled that former Alcoa CEO Paul O'Neil crashed and burned as Treasury Secretary. Not that I hold grudges or anything.

11. Attorney for a government agency - My current gig. It's not bad. Mostly I practice grants law, but I also do a bit of work with government contracting programs, personal and real property, and employee travel. I also did appropriations law for a few years but thankfully I don't do that anymore. Having to answer the same question about whether federal funds can be used to buy food over and over and over again gets really old. (And no, 99 times out of a 100 they can't, in case you were curious. But that doesn't stop people from trying to scam a free meal.)

So there you have my list of employment, some more gainful than others. Hmm, I didn't realize I've only held eleven jobs in my life. I also babysat a couple of my cousins one year when I was in high school, but that doesn't really count.

(Taken with my Nikon D90)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 323/365 - Handcrafted Flesh

Tonight was another "Phillips After Five" session at the Phillips Collection. This time the bill of fare included a dj playing chilled out and funky international lounge music, Peroni beer, pitas, hummus, crackers, cheese, sundry dips, crudités, and a screening of the 1935 classic film, "The Bride of Frankenstein." I was curious as to why they'd selected that particular film to show, but the curator lady who introduced it did a good job of tying it to the museum's current exhibit Paint Made Flesh.

Basically, the common thread between the artists featured in the exhibit and Dr. Frankenstein is that both fashioned a semblance of life from base materials -- oil paints in one case and bits of cadavers in the other. I'd forgotten how good "The Bride of Frankenstein" is. It's one of those rare instances where the sequel is better than the original.

After the credits rolled, I stopped by Kramerbooks and Afterwords for a bowl of mac & cheese and a Toasted Almond (Baileys, Amaretto, and coffee). Yum on both counts. I also picked up a couple of new pirate books. Too bad I couldn't study pirateology in undergrad.

(Taken with my iPhone)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 322/365 - Kilroy Was Here

For this week's self-portrait we have me sitting in my office behind the sixty-two grant files currently piled on my desk awaiting legal review. To be honest, I had to hunker down a little to get the "Kilroy" effect. When I sat up straight my chin rested on the stack. Hmm, it's looking like I should've put my camera in the 'backlighting' mode.

This is my busiest time of year at work. The government's fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30. The bulk of the money Congress appropriates to each agency (it's sort of like our allowance) is categorized as one-year money. That means you only have until the end of the fiscal year to spend it or it all goes back into the Treasury. Congress can also appropriate multi-year money, which is good for a fixed period of years, and no-year money, which is good forever. Everybody wants no-year money. It's the holy grail of appropriated funds. The only no-year money my agency gets is for our loan programs.

Because the bulk of our money expires at the end of the fiscal year, there is always a mad rush in August and September to hurry up and spend it before we lose it. Each file stacked in front of me in the photo above represents one earmark grant and each is funded with one-year money. These are special grants mandated by Congress that are added to our appropriations bill every year. They are the "pork" projects you hear people complaining about. They funnel federal funds to various congressperson's districts for a host of projects, some of which have some relationship to my agency's mission and some of which have nothing to do with nothing.

In the past, we have been directed to provide grants for such diverse projects as an aquarium on Long Island, a museum of jazz in New York City, a fiber optic cabling project in the Pacific Northwest, a storefront and on-line catalog featuring products made by local craftspeople in West Virginia, and an effort to promote sites related to the feud between Hatfields and McCoys to potential tourists. When I first started practicing grants law, my agency would only get 30-40 earmark grants a year, but the number has steadily increased. This year we received over 240 grants totalling in excess of $80 million.

We hate these things. They're a pain in the ass and Congress doesn't give us any extra money to administer them, so we just keep getting stretched thinner and thinner. There was a moratorium on them in 2007 and we were soooooo happy. Most of the organizations that receive these earmarks have no idea what they are doing when it comes to the federal grant process, so getting them to the point where they are legally sufficient can be pretty labor intensive. In addition to the ones currently piled up on my desk, there are still about 130 more that I'm going to have to clear by September 30th that haven't made their way over to my office yet. This is why I can never take vacation in August or September. I'm the only grants law attorney we've got. Oh well, it keeps me employed anyhow.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)