Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Washington, DC: A Capital City -OR- A Cheeseburger in Paradise

Dusk at the Lincoln Memorial. I did not take this picture but got it online. However, this is pretty much what it looked like earlier tonight on my walk down there.

The National Mall area is a place is sufficiently photographed at all times of day, the year, and in various weather conditions that you can always find a substitute-able internet picture. Of note, I never made it down there during or in the immediate aftermath of any of the blizzards this winter.


The highlight of this now-concluded Monday was taking about a 5 mile round trip D.C. walk down to the National Mall and back as dusk / night fell. I walked down to Dupont Circle, then down to the Foggy Bottom / GWU area, near the State Department (actually, 21st Street past the Federal Reserve) and across busy Constitution Avenue to the (north)west end of the Mall and the Lincoln Memorial, over to the Watergate complex and back up New Hampshire Avenue all the way to U Street near where I live.

Here is an image of the Vietnam Memorial and Washington Monument at dusk.

Again, I did not take this picture but got it off the internet -- but it is again what it looked like earlier tonight at dusk. I tried to take some pics with my cellphone camera but they just didn't come out well enough to post. I didn't have my digital camera with me.


Alright, here is a picture I took and you can see how it turned out.

The two sections of polished black granite wall have 58,261 etched names, which is 101 more than when it was dedicated, and includes those still listed as POWs / MIAs and it includes 8 women.

Jesse C. Alba and John H. Anderson, Jr. are the "bookend" names at the farthest ends of each of the two sections of the memorial wall. I long ago committed them to memory, but I have never figured out the overall order of name placements. It's supposed to be chronological in some way.


This walk was the kind of thing I used to do ALL the time for many years both when I lived in D.C. and prior to that when I lived in College Park stretching back to late 1992, although there was also a bicycle period from the late 1990s to 2004 that ended when 1 ... 2 ... 3 bicycles were stolen in rapid succession.

I was very different from how I have been in recent years, esp. the past year. Nowadays, I'm more likely to be a daytime hermit holed up in my dusty wee apartment and late at night to be a bar troll at Cobalt and/or Windows, both of which are easily walkable.

As I mentioned, I used to do that kind of stuff all the time -- both when I lived in College Park in the 1990s and would take the Metro into D.C. and then in the early 2000s when I lived in D.C.


The 1100 block of 21st Street just south of M Street, NW, downtown Washington, D.C., 5:46PM, March 1, 2010.

It's "1100" because it is 11 blocks north of the Mall -- between "L" and "M" Streets, because there is no "J" Street.


Before starting my walk, I stopped in at Five Guys near Dupont Circle -- it's at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and R Street, NW -- for a cheeseburger and soft drink, though no French fries, even though I really wanted some. Once in a while I crave those burgers because they are so good. I would so prefer to be a reasonable vegetarian, but it never quite works out there.

Here is the interior of Five Guys. The sign on the wall supposedly says gives whence comes the potatoes used in the French fries. The sign said "Shoeshone, Idaho," which I think might be near Shoshone, Idaho.

The music inside was blaring, except I liked it: Electric Light Orchestra's Sweet Talkin' Woman and Yes' Owner of a Lonely Heart.

My cheeseburger in paradise Washington, D.C. (with apologies to Jimmy Buffet).


Concerning the follow-up to my Friday interview, I emailed 113 pages of writing samples in the form of six distinct reports as part of my job application and requested of me as follow-up to the interview on Friday. The main interviewer (who is also the hiring manager) asked me to send her a series of my writing samples.

I didn't hear anything today but I was not expecting to. I should know in the next one to three weeks. It's just a matter of waiting. I'll turn negative on my prospects by about week two.

The inside of the Safeway in one of the five buildings that make up the Watergate Complex.

Yes, there is a Safeway in the Watergate East building along with a bunch of other shops. There is also an upscale restaurant called the 600 Restaurant at Watergate (named for its 600 New Hampshire Avenue address) in the Watergate Office Building.

Here is a picture of that sunken outdoor Watergate East shopping area, as seen in a blurry image taken with my cellphone camera earlier tonight. At least I think this is the Watergate East. The overall complex is rather confusing.

The other buildings are Watergate South, East, West, and the Hotel and Office Building (not to be confused with the Watergate Office Building that has no hotel. There is no Watergate North. Each building has its own street address either on New Hampshire or Virginia Avenue, NW. (For reference, I live in the 2000 block of New Hampshire Avenue, NW).

Here is an aerial shot of the whole Watergate complex as you would see inbound to National Airport. In fact, this is the Wikipedia entry picture of the complex and it states it was taken from a jet inbound to DCA on Jan. 8, 2006.

The actual break-in of the Democratic National Committee HQ on that night of June 17, 1972 that ultimately toppled Richard Nixon occurred in the Watergate Office and Hotel building and also involved the Howard Johnson's across the street. In the above picture, it's the second and third buildings on the left that makes a kind of "T" figure with the hotel partially hiding the office building.

Many politicians and other D.C. notables live or have lived in the Watergate Complex.

Say, MikeG -- Do you remember where you FIRST used a credit / ATM debit card in the U.S.?? It was with me in the old Howard Johnson's restaurant across the street (Virginia Avenue). That hotel / restaurant is gone. (I think that was the first time you used a credit card.) When was that anyway?? 1995?


An earlier image from my walk ...

The Indonesian Embassy housed in its sprawling, ornate mansion at the corner of Massachusetts and 21st Streets, NW, here in D.C. seen at 5:30PM, March 1, 2010. Of note, this building is next to a much smaller one housing the Polish cultural attache -- and the Indonesian and Polish flags are the up-and-down mirror image of each other.


If I get this job, I will revert partially back to how I was in 2002 - 2003 and get a bicycle (though I'm sure it will be promptly stolen) and get a gym membership. That is, I'll revert to the good aspects of myself back then. If I do not get this job, well, I have enough work in my contracting job to carry me through March including paying my rent -- but not until about March 24th or 25th. It just can't be any sooner. Eviction proceedings take longer than that to seriously get underway. If I don't have this job (or another one) by early April, I will give my notice to move out of here by the beginning of May.

Where exactly I will go, I don't know.

As it is, I have enough spending money to get by day to day and I may be able to get a few day extension on the cable/internet bill to avoid a shut off late next week. I'll know by Monday (that's when I was told to call back).


Hippos touching snouts ... No, I didn't see this on my walk today, nor is one of these a picture of me after eating at Five Guys. I just liked the picture.


Making a Big Noise in D.C. ...

It is in the wee hours of Tuesday morning and I'm watching reruns of Cheers on the Hallmark Channel, and it is taking me forever to write this blog entry, partly because of the lengthy excerpt below and the need to find some pictures to break up the text.

Last night I saw on the Discovery Channel three episodes of the series of "Prehistoric" program showing what New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Dallas looked like at various geological periods and epochs of the past from the Ice Age / Pleistocene to the very distant Triassic and even earlier to pre-Ordovician times. The only one I didn't catch was about prehistoric Dallas.

The Wash. D.C. episode includes discussion of the Chesapeake bay bolide impact event 35 million years ago.

This is a map of the inner and outer rim of the underground crater that was only discovered in the 1980s.

It refers to the 2 mile wide asteroid that struck what is now the tip of the Delmarva peninsula near Cape Charles, Virginia, near the Norfolk / Hampton Roads area. At that time the area was a warm, tropical, shallow sea near the coastline of North America, and basically deformed the land that would later become the Chesapeake Bay.

That would have been a very bad day even here in D.C. 150 miles away ...

... a blinding (retina-destroying) flash of light to the southeast ... a few minutes later a hypersonic oven-hot blast wave ... flattened forests igniting in fire ... death of all animal and plant life within 200 miles of impact ... followed minutes later by a 500 to 1000 foot high mega-tsunami of Atlantic waters rushing in in a blue-black wall moving at bullet speed, being stopped only by the Blue Ridge mountains themselves, which would have been somewhat higher than they are today ... prolonged rain of fiery projectiles ... violent weather with continuous cloud-to-ground lightning reigniting fires for hours to days ... global climatic disruption for years ... and decades to centuries for the forests to grow back as before.

Such violence to create something that is so peaceful and tranquil today -- even if badly polluted by humans and in rather poor shape, and I personally prefer the open ocean to the bay's languidness.

The fall line boundary running through D.C. that is today the boundary of the Appalachian and Atlantic coastal plain geological "provinces" also basically marks the continental plate boundary of North America and Africa as Pangaea split up (in various phases) between 200 and 150 million years ago and the Atlantic Ocean opened up. Ditto the Palisades running along the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey.

Pangaea as it began to rift apart, early Jurassic period, 195 million years ago.


Sunset, Chesapeake Bay near Bay Ridge, Md., 1992


Speaking of Vietnam (from above), here is a picture taken there of a sunrise over the South China Sea. I've posted this before but I like the image.


Changing subjects again ...

I thought my refrigerator, or at least the freezer portion of it, was on the fritz. The fan in the freezer was making such a funny wheezing noise for a half hour at at time when it clicked on. Now it's making only the dullest of noise. It was dead silent before and I thought it was actually broken. However, it seems to be working: the refrigerator part is cold and the freezer is freezing cold. The only thing I can conclude is the problem sort of fixed itself, except that's rarely how the physical world and NEVER the mechanical world works.


Reading Rainbow ...

I considered removing this extended excerpt of another excellent Michael Lind column to shorten this absurdly long blog entry, but I just can't bring myself to do it.

He argues that demographic decline of non-Hispanic working class whites underlies the Republican "policy" of nihilistic grid-lock.

Source here.


"Having lost much of the white professional class to the Democrats (perhaps temporarily), the Republican Party is increasingly the party of the declining white working class. Non-Hispanic whites are shrinking as a percentage of the U.S. population. Meanwhile, the traditional skilled working class and lower middle class are shrinking as a proportion of the workforce, while the service sector proletariat and college-educated professionals increase their share ...

"In these circumstances, the American white working class quite naturally is experiencing 'demographic panic.' Declining groups experiencing such anxieties generally focus on blocking adverse change, using the political institutions they still control. Apart from hanging on to their power as long as they can, they usually do not have programs for governing the country, something they do not expect to be able to do in the long run ...

"The increasing mismatch between population and power in American government that underlies the present gridlock needs to be addressed by structural reforms. Here is what needs to be done.

"Reforming the U.S. Senate: The radical yet perfectly constitutional solution to addressing the gridlock imposed by the small-population states is to subdivide increasingly under-represented large-population states like California, Texas, Florida and New York into smaller states, each with two senators.

"The Constitution permits a state to voluntarily subdivide itself as long as Congress approves. In an article in Mother Jones a few years back, I proposed the voluntary subdivision of the large states to turn our present 50 states into 75 states. But the small states in the Senate would try to block any attempt to dilute their grotesquely disproportionate power by this voluntary and constitutional method.

"The immediate goal of Senate reform therefore should be the abolition of the filibuster, which exists only because of the Senate's own rules and has no basis in our constitutional design. Small state populations would still have disproportionate influence even if all Senate legislation were passed by 51 percent majorities, but less than they do now, when the Republicans rule the Senate 41 to 59.

"The House of Representatives: ... It is time to unfreeze the upper limit of 435 members.

"Creating more congressional districts, each with a much smaller number of voters, will make it easier for you to actually meet your representative. And smaller districts reduce the need for out-of-state special interest campaign money to buy media in elections. The [435 member limit instituted in the 1920s] should be [lifted]. After every census, the size of the House should be expanded, until it reaches 600 or even 800 members ...

"The Electoral College: The white microstate advantage in the Electoral College should be ended by replacing the Electoral College with direct election of the presidency, whether by conventional plurality voting or "instant runoff" (single transferable vote).

"I have written elsewhere that out of this time of troubles, as out of the Civil War and the Depression, may arise a reinvented and reinvigorated America -- a Fourth American Republic. But success is not foreordained. The demographically declining white constituencies who benefit from gridlock may prevent necessary reforms from being made by Congress for a while.

"But needed reforms will be undertaken -- if necessary, by means of executive orders by future Caesarist presidents who circumvent the paralyzed Congress in order to get things done. And if the situation is desperate enough and the obstructionists in Congress are sufficiently despised, the new system of rule by presidential decree will be supported by public opinion and ratified by the federal judiciary, which generally follows public opinion.

"If this came to pass, it would mark the transition from democratic republicanism in the United States to plebiscitary presidentialism. We would still have free and fair elections every four years, but in between presidential elections the country would be governed by decrees drafted by powerful but little-known White House advisors, many of them not subject to Senate confirmation.

"The conversion of the U.S. into a banana republic would be complete, as the president became el presidente and the House and Senate were reduced to honorary debating societies. Instead of the Fourth American Republic, we would have the First American Principate."


Speaking of America, tomorrow (March 3rd) is the one-year anniversary of Kristof's (un)necessary departure from the U.S. just before his visa expired and return to Europe until the immy-stuff is sorted out. He's getting U.S. citizenship, but the whole process is a long and complicated one.

Let's just leave it it at that.

Kristof, baby doll, it's you're more likely you will be here in D.C. a year from now than I am. Maybe in a few years, you, me, and Gary can do a Golden Girls kind of living arrangement with Gerry. Except both you and Gerry would be Blanche.


That's all for now. My next planned update will be in the Friday - Saturday time flame frame (that's an inside joke) ...



krzysztof said...

Thank you for commemorating my departure. Yes, it has been a year.
I can easily see how a Golden Girls like arrangement could actually happen.

Rose: I think she's a Gerchominochen!
Doctor: Well, what exactly does that mean?
Rose: Literally, it's the precise moment when dog doo turns white. But in general, it refers to the kind of person you don't want to share your Hoodencoggles with.

к.нео.физ.де.му said...

:) i see krzysztof's taste in unpronounceable words of a nonexistent language is similar to mine...

wow, richard - i remember the time we went there for lunch, but i don't remember if that was the first time i used a credit card in the us.

but - it is absolutely possible.

i did use an atm card before - i was not an animal :)


krzysztof said...

I think my first time was at an ATM on Penn ave and 20th.

I know that Watergate Safeway very well back from my GWU times. My Russian friend Maxim and I used to buy pickles and pizza there.

Regulus said...

Mike G -- Thank you so much for dinner last night. I really enjoyed going to the Black Rooster with you and having dinner and talking to you. Your family history is so very interesting. It should be written down as some point.

Kristof -- That's funny because when I went in there, there were a bunch of people speaking Russian shopping in the store.

I am starting to feel pessimistic on this job prospect. I haven't heard a word, not even a simply reply to my inquiry if my emails with writing samples were received.

к.нео.физ.де.му said...


actually i should thank you for meeting me on such a short notice.

and for that piece of lemon!

i also enjoyed talking to you.