Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day 108/365 - I've Got Mail

I like getting mail. It's always good to have the world acknowledge the fact of your existence. Granted, at times it seems as though it's mostly marketers, junk mailers, and creditors that are aware I exist, but even that level of acknowledgment can be somewhat satisfying. Even on the bad days, to be alive is to be alive.

Days that I open my mailbox to find it empty are a bit of a downer. It's then that you know how Charlie Brown felt when he checked his mailbox at Christmas or Valentine's Day only to discover that no one had bothered to send him a card. Some days not even the bill collectors love you.

Those days are pretty rare, however. Given the absurd amount of stuff I order through the mail, the catalog companies are like my own private harem -- they constantly send me all manner of glossy, full-color love notes in the form of catalogs for clothes, travel gear, and a mind-boggling array of knick-knackery.

It's good to be loved.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day 107/365 - What Ails Me

Dang you Barack Obama! Being out in the cold for your concert and swearing in have left me with cooties. What started out Tuesday night as a scratchy throat has now added sniffly and sneezy to its repertoire.

Like most guys, I'm pretty much useless when I'm sick (and only slightly more useful when I'm well). I emailed in sick this morning (sure beats calling in sick) and now I plan to spend the day swaddled in my bathrobe and curled up on the couch watching movies and napping.

This better get better soon. There's another roller derby match at the DC Armory tomorrow night and I want to go. Come on, DayQuil!

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Day 106/365 - Disposable Society

Evidently they don't choose to recycle, however. This was the scene that greeted me as I rode down the escalator into the Federal Center Southwest Metro station. Today was the day for the anti-abortion protesters' annual migration to DC.

Given my choice, I think I'd rather have Capistrano's swallows or Pacific Grove's monarch butterflies. I guess this is one area in which change has not come to Washington.

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day 105/365 - Hosanna in the Highest

Glory hallelujah, my internet access has been restored! The internet in my apartment has been out for a week. For seven straight days the little green light on the far right in the picure of my modem above had been blinking and mocking me with the fact that I had no DSL signal. I didn't get around to reporting it until Friday afternoon, and with the extended holiday weekend the earliest they could send a technician around to look into it was this morning.

Not having internet access sucks. It's like there's a big party going on somewhere and you're not invited. There's an internet cafe in the lobby of my apartment building so I was able to check my email periodically and I lugged my laptop over to the Sports Pub and Starbucks a couple times just to get my fix. It's just not the same though as being able to hop on the net whenever you want.

The Verizon guy came by around 11 this morning. He was really cool and honest. He couldn't figure out what exactly was wrong because everything was doing what it was supposed to be doing, so he went ahead and changed out some wires leading up to my apartment just so he could feel like he was doing something, even though he didn't think that was really the problem. Whatever he did, it was enough to propitiate and placate the spirits of the internet and now I have my connection back. Hurray, I can upload photos and update my blog at will.

It's good to be back in the 21st century again.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day 104/365 - The Great Purple Ticket Fiasco

Well, I was supposed to be in the North Standing section on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol today witnessing firsthand Barack Obama’s swearing in as the 44th President of the United States. So much for ‘supposed to be.’ I had one of the purple tickets, which could have more been accurately called the chaos and torment tickets. The purple gate was scheduled to open at 9 a.m. and at 7:30 I was there one block away from it amid a seething mass of frustrated humanity that could in no way be termed a line.

After waiting there for an hour, the cops told us we had to move down to the 2nd street tunnel instead and wait there. So I diligently headed off and proceeded to walk for 20 minutes without ever seeing the end of the line. It stretched all the way through the tunnel and down the highway farther than my eyes could see. By the time I emerged from the far end of the tunnel it was 9:00 and I knew that even if I did eventually find the end of the line, there was no way I was going to make it through the security gate in time for the swearing in. At that point the line stretched for more than a mile from the security checkpoint. And that’s when I decided to cut bait and head home to watch it on tv.

First I tried to enter the Capitol South Metro station, but after fighting my way against the tide of people coming up the escalator I reached a Metro cop who told me it was an ‘exit only’ station and that I’d have to go back up the escalator and hoof it over to the Eastern Market station instead. That had to be the low point of my morning. I finally got home at 10:30 and watched the swearing in from the peace and comfort of my own living room.

If I’d had any sense, once I gave up on the purple line I would have just trudged over to the National Mall to watch the ceremonies on one of the jumbotrons there, but I thought there would be security gates to get through on the Mall as well so I’d just be trading one impossible line for another. Turns out there weren’t any gates or checkpoints on the Mall and some of my friends who got into town just as I was leaving were able to watch it all from the Washington Monument. They had a great time and a moment of history to remember and I had sore feet and a bitter heart.

Serves me right, though. Originally I had planned to volunteer to help out at the inauguration. My assignment would have been crowd control along the parade route and I’d have been able to see the swearing-in on the jumbotrons and have a front row view of the parade. But instead I chose to be selfish and passed up on my opportunity to volunteer when a ticket to the swearing in became available. That’ll teach me.

Oh well, there’s always the next Obama inauguration in 2013 (God willing).

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day 103/365 - The Emperor's New Clothes

The title of today’s entry is utterly tongue-in-cheek, btw. I can barely keep myself in line, heaven forbid I was ever actually put in charge of anything. Pia invited me to tag along with her tonight to the presidential inauguration cocktail reception being hosted by the South Dakota State Society and since the dress code was semi-formal and I didn’t own a suit, I went out on Saturday and bought myself one. Being a lawyer who doesn’t own a suit is a bit like being a cowboy who doesn’t own a horse, but I’m a government lawyer. That means I don’t go to court and I spend most of my workdays sitting in my office reviewing documents and drafting legal memoranda. As such, a suit is wholly unnecessary.

I figured it would probably be a good idea to own one just on general principles, though, and going to this cocktail reception provided me with a perfect excuse to do a little shopping. So I drafted my friend Des to help out and away we went to the mall at Pentagon City. We tried Marshalls (not much selection), Macy’s (nothing in my size), Joseph A. Bank (nothing in my size, cheap materials, and grossly overpriced), and even a tuxedo shop before finding the guy equivalent of my glass slipper at Nordstrom’s.

Turns out I’m a 46 short in suit sizes and apparently that is a tough size to find, which basically means I’m a weird shaped dude. We hit the jackpot at Nordstrom’s though and they had three in my size – black, blue, and grey. I went for the black pinstripe. The sales lady was super helpful and friendly and really on the ball. When I told her I needed to be able to wear it tonight, she grabbed the tailor, had him mark it up, and told him to have it ready for me to pick up this morning. She was awesome. If you’re ever in the market for menswear, go to the Nordstrom’s at Pentagon City and ask for Lysa. She’ll know exactly what you need, even if you’re as completely clueless about clothes as I am.

So this week’s self-portrait is me in my new big boy suit. It’s made by some guy named Joseph Abboud, whom I’d never heard of but whom Des said does good work. I felt all growed up and sophistimacated and everything when I put it on this evening. The cocktail reception was nice. It was held at historic James Monroe House and there were hors d’oeuvres and bars and a violinist and pianist and swanky heated tents in the garden and everything.

I drank champagne, stuffed my face, and wandered around checking out the architecture of the house and the artwork therein. Monroe House is home to the Art Club of Washington, DC and it has some very nice paintings hanging on the walls. The First Family-elect didn’t put in an appearance at the reception (drat the luck), but both of South Dakota’s senators were in attendance. They seemed like nice enough guys, even though they are politicians.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Academical Village

This week's bonus photo from my archives is a view from the rear portico of the Rotunda on the grounds of the University of Virginia. This portion of the university was designed by UVA's founder Thomas Jefferson, who pictured the school as an "academical village" with students living on one side of the lawn and professors and classrooms on the other. I took this shot when I went down to Charlottesville last February.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Day 102/365 - We Are One

In honor of the impending presidential inauguration, they held a free “We Are One” concert on the National Mall today featuring a diverse, star-studded line-up of performers and celebrity presenters. I was there along with about 400,000 other people, including my friends Chris and Adriana. We arrived about 90 minutes before the show started, but by that time the area down by the Lincoln Memorial where the stage had been erected was already full of people, so we settled for staking out a spot at the base of the Washington Monument hill just across the street from the WWII Memorial.

The concert organizers did a good job of making sure there were plenty of jumbotrons and speakers spread throughout the Mall so more people could take part in the experience. The best parts of the concert were Herbie Hancock,, and Sheryl Crow doing Bob Marley’s “One Love,” Garth Brooks singing the Isley Brothers’ “Shout,” and Stevie Wonder, Usher, and the “she’s so hot my eyes have blisters on them” Shakira performing “Higher Ground.” Not bad for a free gig.

The worst part of the concert was Tom Hanks’ interminable and buzz-killing “Abe Lincoln said” speech that sucked all the energy out of the crowd and droned on and on like a never-ending funeral dirge. He was a lot more entertaining when he was wearing a dress on “Bosom Buddies.” He did provide us with hours of fun afterward though spoofing his speech and generally ragging on him relentlessly.

Although the temperature was only in the 30s, it didn’t feel that cold out. We were all smart enough to layer up and I think that combined with the lack of wind and the body heat generated by the mass of humanity that was the crowd help stave off the chill. That gives me hope for the inauguration on Tuesday. Even the lines for the port-a-potties weren’t too bad. It was definitely a madhouse trying to leave the Mall, though.

Rather than trying to fight the crowd pouring into the Metro, we decided to hang out at Starbucks for a while to warm up and let the huddled masses thin out a bit. After the swearing-in on Tuesday I think I’ll just suck it up and walk home. Who knows, I’m liable to be feeling so high after my man the Big O takes the oath of office that I might not even need to use the bridge to cross over the Potomac River. I may be walking on air instead.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)