More (Wet) Vacationing

Rain, thunder, lightning, museums, musings on whether (or not) the mindsets of the world’s governments today would do anything different if the Holocaust were to occur today, fresh bagels for breakfast, and lamb kabobs for dinner.

When it rains back here on the East coast of the US, it really rains! (Consider, of course, that this is coming from someone who lives where the average annual precipitation is somewhere around 10 inches each year.) After looking at the weather forecast the past couple of days for the DC area, we had pretty much decided that we would spend Sunday doing inside-kinds of things. And the forecast was correct: although it wasn’t raining when Deb and I walked over to get breakfast from a deli close to our hotel, it was raining by the time we headed back — and we were pretty damp by the time we had walked the intervening block.

It rained off and on again all day, and then really let loose with a prolonged downpour while we were eating dinner. We waited most of that one out in the restaurant, and then dashed back to the hotel during what turned out to be the only lull in the rain, thunder, and lightening for a couple hours.

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space MuseumWe were pleasantly surprised when we got off the Metro down by the Mall and found that our walk to the Mall was without rain. We spent the morning at the Smithsonian’s incredible National Air and Space Museum (photos coming soon). Ian and I had a blast in the flight simulator, and we really liked the planetarium’s “Infinity Express” show.

When we left the museum around 2pm to walk up to the Holocaust museum, it was only sprinkling, so our walk past the Smithsonian Castle and its incredible gardens was very pleasant (although we didn’t dally much, as we had 2:30pm tickets for the Holocaust museum’s permanent display).

The Holocaust museum is incredible, if overwhelming. It has to rank near the top of any list of museum exhibits in both the breadth and depth of the story that it tells. We left almost speechless, and all wondering why no one did anything to stop it, particularly when there is now evidence that several countries knew what was going on and when various groups were lobbying at least the US government to bomb the concentration camps to end the purging. And why were the various countries so reluctant to open their doors to the Jewish refugees that were attempting to flee the area? But then I stopped to think about whether things are any different now: our governments pick and choose where they wish to get involved and those decisions are not always based on what we as individual citizens wish they would consider important. And I look at the closed-door mindset of my own country right now, and I am saddened that I believe it would be much the same today.

Breakfast: an egg, bacon, and cheese bagel from Ize’s, right around the corner — I was yet again reminded that there is really no comparison between those things you get in a plastic bag in a grocery store in Idaho and a fresh bagel from a real bagelry. Bonus: I got their trivia question correct and we won two free bagels!

Dinner: lamb kabobs and a gyro from the Mediterranean place right next door to the hotel and in the same block as Ize’s. Jeff and I found this place last year — still very good!

Vacationing…

We’re in Washington, DC, this week — in part for the CFunited conference during the second half of the week, and in part just for some time together as a family (time which has been tough to find recently). Ian has never been to DC before, Deb and I spent a day back here when my younger brother graduated from college, and I have been back here several times over the past 6 years or so with work-related travel. This, however, is our first trip back here together and with time to just do what we want.

Ian on the Metro platformWe’re in Washington, DC, this week — in part for the CFUnited conference during the second half of the week, and in part just for some time together as a family (time which has been tough to find recently). Ian has never been to DC before, Deb and I spent a day back here when my younger brother graduated from college, and I have been back here several times over the past 6 years or so with work-related travel. This, however, is our first trip back here together and with time to just do what we want.

I love Washington, DC — at least as a place to visit. Good public transportation, a buzzillion things to do and see, lots of decent places to eat, and I have been here often enough that I know my way around (pretty much — at least enough not to get lost on the Metro). I am looking forward to sharing some of that with Deb and Ian this week. We are actually staying out in Rockville at the hotel that is hosting the CFUnited conference, so we will get to spend a bit of time on the Metro getting to and from wherever we go and watching people.

The weather today is supposed to be pretty lousy, so we are headed for some of the Smithsonian’s museums and we have tickets to the Holocaust museum for this afternoon.

Part of my enjoyment of travelling is food — Jeff always gives me a bad time about how much I love food. And it’s true — food is a wonderful thing, and I love trying new and different things. And food can be (and should be) a social experience. Dinner, for instance, last night more than made up for the lack of anything resembling food on the flight from way out West to DC: a deep dish three cheese pizza at Armand’s Pizzeria and Grill in Rockville, and a Sam Adams. Simple and good.

Great Expectations

Ian has a reading project on tap for his summer break ahead of an honors-level English course next Fall. The assignment: read (and then write about) Dickens’ “Great Expectations”. We’re treating GE as our first family reading project for this summer.

Ian has a reading project on tap for his summer break ahead of an honors-level English course next Fall. The assignment: read (and then write about) Dickens’ “Great Expectations”. I’ve never read much Dickens, having survived my school experience without it (although I do remember at one point finding a copy of “A Tale of Two Cities” at a library book sale or a garage sale of some sort, but only made it through the first couple of pages before losing interest).

Given some of our other reading lately, particularly stuff by Jasper Fforde and his Thursday Next books with their foundation in old lit, I am actually looking forward to digging into “Great Expectations”. After reading (and loving!) FForde’s “The Eyre Affair”, Deb and I both read “Jane Eyre” and loved it. I guess there may be a reason some of these are considered “classic” literature. So we are treating GE as a family reading project for the summer (although Ian gets the solo pleasure of the writing portion of the project that goes along with it in preparation for school next Fall).

And there is something about just the title of this particular work that seems like it fits my life right now…

More TiddlyWiki

I have been using a TiddlyWiki to keep track of a bunch of loosely-organized information and statistics about the junior high school boys soccer teams that I am coaching this Fall. Using Alan Hecht’s WebView plugin, I decided to publish it for the players on the team (and their parents), so that they can keep track of what’s going on and coming up.

I have been using TW for several weeks now, both at home and at work (see my earlier post) to keep track of a variety of different things. The more I use it, the more I am impressed!

Zero Free Time

Soccer has started back up again for the Fall season. I am coaching a team of junior high school boys — that would be ages 13, 14, 15 or grades 7, 8, 9 — and heading up the program there at the same junior high school. As a result, my free time has dropped to something very close to zero through somewhere near the end of October.

We’ve already lost our first player to injury. He broke his wrist at a school dance on Friday evening. Rumor has it he was trying to do one of those “run up the wall and launch yourself into a backflip” moves. Apparently, he didn’t land on his feet…

I can’t wait to hear the rest of this story…

I haven’t had much time to do any reading lately, either. I have struggled to make it through a couple of Clive Cussler books, and have given up. They are, in my opinion, just not worth bothering with — I had high hopes for them after seeing a movie recently that was based on one of the books. The movie was fluff, but very enjoyable fluff. Not so the books.

The one bright side, from a reading perspective, is that we are almost finished with the latest Harry Potter book. Our tradition is that we read each of the books in this series aloud as a family. It makes for much slower going, but is very enjoyable and a different way to experience them. We will probably finish it this evening…