Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day 136/365 - One Day More

Only one more day remains until my vacation starts. Pssst -- don't tell anyone, but I have to confess that my backpack and suitcase were both still empty at the time I took this photo. I have everything that I want to pack laid out, I just haven't packed it yet. It's been taking me longer than I expected to get the programs and security suite on my laptop updated. One of these days I really need to buy a faster laptop.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Day 135/365 - Euro, My-o

After work tonight I stopped by the Travelex currency conversion stand at Union Station to buy myself some euros. I could likely have gotten a better deal on them had I waited until I got to Italy and then just withdrawn money from an ATM. As obsessively overorganized as I am, however, I wanted to make sure I had euros in hand before I landed in Italy.

I only picked up the bills today. The coins I had left over from my last trip to Europe -- Luxembourg and Amsterdam in 2004. I hadn't realized until now that it had been five years since my last trip abroad (apart from a Caribbean cruise with my brother and his family a couple years back). Since that time, most of my trips have been three-day domestic getaways.

It was not long after that last European excursion that I moved into my current apartment. The rent here is twice what it was at my old place, so that cut substantially into my travelling budget. It's worth it to live in a better apartment in a safer, more convenient neighborhood, though.

I feel a bit guilty that my chief reaction to the global recession thus far has been excitement over the fact that I'll now be able to travel more, rather than commiseration with others. Hopefully a karmic boomerang won't double back and whack me upside the head.

(Taken with my Nikon D80)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day 134/365 - The Heavens Are Hung In Black

Tonight my friend Pia and I went to the newly-renovated and spiffed up Ford's Theatre to see "The Heavens Are Hung In Black." It's a new play that was specially commissioned by Ford's Theatre to commemorate its post-renovations reopening. Given the theater's tragic connection with President Lincoln and the fact that this year is the bicentennial of his birth, it was only natural that Ford's would commission a work about Lincoln.

The play is set during some of the darkest days of Lincoln's life and presidential administration: the country is disintegrating due to the Civil War, the Confederate Army is on the attack while the Union Army dithers and delays, critics from all sides are assailing the President and his policies, the Lincolns are mourning the death of their son Willie, and the first lady's reason and sanity have begun to decay. These are heavy burdens to bear and the play gives us an insight into what Lincoln's internal dialogue might have been like during that period.

As Lincoln grapples with the questions of what direction the war should take and whether he should emancipate the slaves, he holds congress with a variety of ghosts, fictional characters, and contemporaries in a style somewhat reminiscent of Ebeneezer Scrooge's visitation by the three Ghosts of Christmas. It's a gimmick that could prove hokey and disastrous if not done well. Fortunately for this production it is carried off well for the most part, although it might be good to cut one or two of these 'asides' in the interest of paring down what is a rather long production.

The play as a whole is both informative and entertaining. The set design is excellent and accomplishes much within the particular limits of the theater, managing to transport us from the Oval Office to settings as varied as a military cemetery and the Mississippi River. The performances are uniformly outstanding and the actor portraying Lincoln does a remarkable job of bringing to life what we think the President might have been like as a man.

Ford's Theatre itself doesn't look much different, apart from the new and more comfortable seating (although the view from many seats is still blocked by various columns). The bulk of the changes involve the shiny new lobby next door with its new bathrooms and elevator. The new lobby is a welcome addition given that the theater's original lobby, a spartan eight-foot wide vestibule, meant that crowds were forced to wait outside in the cold prior to the opening of the seating area. It's always good to come in from the cold.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Day 133/365 - Post-It Note Impression No. 1

See, now this is the sort of thing that happens when you get 133 days into a 365 Project. You run low on ideas and energy and do wacky stuff, like Post-It Note impressions. I've now decided that Post-It Note impressions will henceforth make random and irregular appearances in my 365 Project (i.e., whenever I'm basically too tired or bored to think of anything else to shoot).

Quick! Who am I today?

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day 132/365 - Above and Below

This is the exit from/entrance to the Metro subway stop at Union Station in Washington, DC. I popped over to Union Station during lunch today to grab a bite to eat and pick up a grounded plug converter for my laptop from the travel store in preparation for my trip next week. And while I was at the store, I also found a cool messenger bag that I think will be perfect for carrying my camera, umbrella, book, and assorted other junk with me while I'm trekking up, down, and around Venice.

I was having trouble deciding which day bag to take with me. Taking a backpack makes it a hassle to swap out lenses, so I'd made up my mind to instead take one of the jillion messenger bags/satchels I have. That left me with a Goldilocks dilemma, however: some bags were too big, others too small. But then I found this new bag and it seemed just right. Plus it's yellow, my favorite color!

Okay, I'm starting to get a bit alarmed at the note of girliness that has manifest itself in my 365 project of late. ; ) Yesterday it was a bubblebath. Today I'm all atwitter over a new bag I bought. What's it going to be tomorrow, a discussion of shoes? Grrrr, I feel the need for some beer and sports and jokes centered on bodily functions.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Day 131/365 - Bubblebath Therapy

For this week's self-portrait we have me relaxing in a bubblebath, which sounds a whole lot racier than it actually is. It's tough to find something more relaxing than soaking in a hot bubblebath with a good book (in this case, Donna Leon's 'Death and Judgment'), a cold drink (scotch and soda), and some chilled-out music (David Gray's 'Greatest Hits').

I give womankind full credit for discovering the wonderful alchemy of the bubblebath.

(Taken with my Nikon D80 -- and I was deathly afraid of dropping it the whole time)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Twice on Sunday Bonus Photo - Cuppaccino

For this week's bonus photo we have a shot I took of a cup of cappuccino I got from Peregrine Espresso in the Eastern Market section of Washington, DC. I think baristas that are skilled enough to make designs in the steamed milk foam are flat out awesome.

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)

Day 130/365 - Sunshine on the Rocks

This is the outdoor ice skating rink at the Pentagon Row shopping district. They put it up every winter and then in summer they tear it down and have bands play happy hour concerts here instead. I was over in this part of my neighborhood today because I needed to get birthday cards for my folks and pick up a couple sweaters and some thick socks to take with me on my trip. At this time next week I'll be wending my way eastward to Venice!

The way the sunlight is stretching across the ice in this photo makes me think of the McBroom books by Sid Fleischman that I read when I was a kid. They were the fantastically tall tales of a farmer and his family. In one of the stories it was so cold one winter that daylight froze and they cut it into chunks and stored it in the icehouse. That way when they needed some sunshine to make the crops grow they could just thaw out a chunk of frozen light and they were good to go.

I remember laughing myself silly over those books. Did anyone else read them?

(Taken with my Nikon Coolpix S200)