Tales from the DC Area: Who Dropped DC on Me?

Good grief! This morning Aral and I left the apartment with Tess and stopped for coffee and a pastry. Yep still working on my waistline (although I got up this morning and did 100 sit ups). Nothing so lovely as LE PAIN QUOTIDIEN, but, you know, serviceable coffee. Or at least there weren’t flavor crystals in it.

Not something you usually want to see parked outside the National Archives

We parted ways, Tess went to the office, and Aral and I walked to the Metro. We rode it north and across the Potomac back to the National Mall. We rode a bit further north this time and got off at the National Archives.

Outside the Naval Heritage Museum

We now know where to get a sage fix should it be needed

The Archives were not open so we walked around the area for a while, visited the Naval Heritage Museum and then started on several gardens and galleries.

Much later and after many steps we wondered back north again in dire need of sustenance. The Pavilion at the National Post Office seems to be closed or under construction or something (it looked sort of derelict actually), so we ended up searching for a place, any place. Aral wanted a “cheese burger” and so with some trepidation I entered the DC Hard Rock Cafe.

DC Hard Rock

The food was actually really good and I’ve had no appetite since we left. I thought of my older son Justin a lot looking around at the walls and listening to the music. The people were even cooler, our waitress seemed to like Aral and talked to him directly. You know, like a little person who just happens to be hanging out with his SAHD.

And that there was pretty much the whole day. More photos in the flickr. feed of course. We came back on the Metro and then crashed hardcore. My foot has been giving me little twinges since I woke up from that nap on the couch, but otherwise I’m none the worse for the wear and Aral is sitting next to Mommy on the couch watching Lunar Jim solve a mystery.

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Tales from the DC Area: Day Two Report

FYI: We’re moving to the District of Columbia (or as reasonably near Tess’ new job as we can manage). This represents a huge change for all three of us. Tess has been working in the area for about the last month and Aral and I flew out this weekend to spend some time with Mommy and get introduced to our new digs.

Flying

Aral has never flown before. He has also never been introduced to the great variety of public transit systems we took to get here. Early Saturday morning, I plopped his butt, wrapped tight in a blanket, into his car seat in my truck and took off from Boulder, Colorado headed for DIA.

After getting him dressed in the back of the truck we toddled off to the bus stop to take the shuttle to the terminal. And that’s where the adventure began. From bus to escalator to subway (to the terminal) and then onboard a Boeing 757-200 it was a day long romp in the candy store for a kiddo that really digs big machines.

I have to say that TSA is very nice at DIA. The huge pin in my left foot didn’t seem to be a problem for them. On the flight out to DCA we were surrounded by folks from the area. Everyone was returning home and they were supper nice and helpful. The standard “how-could-you-bring-a-kid-aboard” scrutiny, which I’ve become somewhat desensitized, was not an issue. I actually felt pleasantly surprised when we landed and someone held the aisle for us to get off the plane. That dude deserved a kiss.

Food

DC is going to make me fat. Saturday evening, after Tess picked us up from the airport, we strolled around her apartment for a bit and then stopped in a nondescript Lebanese Restaurant. “OH MYYYYYYYYYY!” is about all I have to say about that experience.

The next morning Tess took us to a place called LE PAIN QUOTIDIEN where I got an omelette with smoked salmon and chives that melted in my mouth. It was also nice to eat a long table, juxtaposed with strangers, Continental style. I haven’t had that experience since I lived in Tokyo.

DC will a) likely turn me into even more of a food snob than I already am. The coffee at QUOTIDIEN was remarkably better than anything I’ve quaffed in recent memory that I know that bar has been lifted. Honestly, I’d rather go hungry for a long while searching for food that good than waste time in the pointless mastication of inferior goods. And b) necessarily make me a lot more concerned with earning my calories. I’m going to need to research good places to go running and return to that habit very quickly.

Traffic

This is a downside for certain. I’ve been working steadily on my overland vehicle. It is comfortable, stable, well-thought out, and completely pointless in the greater Metropolitan DC area. And you guys drive like mad men. This morning I watched someone in a Fiat 500 cut in front of a six ton Metro bus. Yeah, not a great idea Darwin!

As Aral and I begin to search for a place to stay long term I know I want a) easy access to the METRO (specifically the train system) and b) a much, much, much smaller car. Driving OOTEK around DC will almost certainly be more of a chore than a pleasure and I haven’t the slightest idea how I’m going to park it.

It is in cherry condition (even though it’s snow white) so if you’re looking for an amazing machine, capable of driving just about anywhere you might want to visit in the West let me know. I’ve got lots of time, but when we get back to Colorado I may try and sell it. <QQ />

Museums

Apollo-Soyuz Meet up (Hubble model in the corner)

Sunday we took the Yellow line from the underground city here in CRYSTAL CITY across the Potomac and to the NATIONAL MALL where we spent the morning at the NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM. When I was a kid, maybe 12 or 13, I went on a school trip to DC with some class mates from my middle school. This museum was the highlight of that trip and it did not disappoint this time around.

It is a truly impressive  display of Human ingenuity and drive. Getting on an airplane and flying 2,500 kilometers over half a continent takes on new meaning when you can see before you all the steps it took us to get to this point in our development. An amazing amount of effort. We’re a splendid species of apes.

I cannot wait to explore all the other locations around this place (as well as go back to the NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM). I have not been this impressed with what we’re capable of since I walked into my first major data center project. Personally, being in a place like this, gives me some hope. It makes me feel less like we’re diving headlong into a dystopian nightmare.

Back to KSR

This is better than Mighty Machines

Ever since I read Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Science in the Capital” trilogy my curiosity has been peaked. Previously, I could not have imagined myself living in anywhere along the East Coast. I was raised in a different culture, one that looked outside itself and outside its own humanity for value. I grew up loving vast, uninterrupted desert spaces and mountains that climbed up and up forever. The best neighbor was the one miles over the horizon and beauty came from things and places that had no human involvement.

Being here, a place that has been transformed fundamentally by long term human habitation, is a lot like being a fish not only out of water, but one that has bee transported to the surface of the Moon. I am, moment to moment, culturally challenged. Hell, for the first time in a very long while I am a minority.

So, while I haven’t the faintest clue how I’m going to fit into all this, I am stimulated by the newness of it all. That’s good, it means I’m still adaptable.

KSR Got That Right Too

Oh “Science in the Capitol”, how we should have read you more. I was just adding some words to “Up Slope” when I noticed a story posted to the Kim Stanley Robinson Facebook fan page. One of the members posted a news piece talking about the impending cold snap that is expected to move through the District and across the mid-west and east-coast.

Welcome to the Younger Dryas

And on twitter many are reporting that people are planning for the impending cold by bum rushing grocery stores and emptying gas stations. While I notice that there is still plenty of broccoli at Kroger’s, at least my dog will stay fed, it seems that bananas are an east-coast staple you guys cannot do without.

KSR wrote about this kind of extreme weather event in the second of his “Science in the Capital” trilogy. As usual the research for his fiction is ten times more involved and than the rest of our writing crowd. Being a bit of a climate and weather buff, and having read “Fifty”, I always just assumed it was a matter of when. Never if.

Rosby waves reaching down from the arctic have been passing overland with increasing slowness. This means that cold air carried within the troughs tends to be colder, over time, near the center of the weather vortex and the cold tends to stick around longer. It is a byproduct of climate change. Get ready folks, these sorts of weather events are going to become increasingly common in the days ahead.


Incidentally, in case you had not already seen, Tess accepted a position with a new company “providing engineering support to data analysts.” She will be leaving on contract for three to six months in little more than a week. And when she returns, we will likely be relocated somewhere near the District of Columbia.

I find it funny that our family, after this move, will sort of mimic elements of KSR’s trilogy as well. I’m a stay-at-home Dad (Charlie and Joe). Tess is a Scientist (Anna). And between our careers and hobbies we may flesh out many of the other characters in these three novels.

In the mean time, while Tess is out of the country, Aral and I will pack up our house and prepare the move. Then, after the packing is moved to storage, a road trip, seeing friends and family and attending conferences along the way. I need to spend some time really soon seeing if LonCon3 might now be in the cards.