October 29

Tomorrow it's The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. I had plans to be in Washington DC during this week before Jon Stewart thought of it so for me it was all a big bonus.

Paul and Gretchen and I met up, I from Nepenthe, they from NYNY. We're staying in a business hotel in Alexandria, VA. which is actually a fair distance from the tourist section of Old Town Alexandria.

We're out by a highway interchange where we take a hotel shuttle to the metro, the metro to the Alexandria station and then the trolley down into 'the cute part' taking 30-40 minutes tops. Or you can walk instead of taking the trolley and you can take the bus when the hotel shuttle isn't running.

It's one easy metro ride into DC too so the location of the hotel turned out to be quite ok.
That's right.
It's very charming day and night.

Ms Wiki: "Old Town, in the eastern and southeastern areas of Alexandria and on the Potomac River, is the oldest section of the city (of Washington DC), originally laid out in 1749, and is... chiefly known for its historic town houses, art galleries, antique shops, and restaurants."
It's Friday night and the activities of Halloween have kicked in with ghost tours and costumed revelers traveling the streets.

"Market Square in Old Town is the oldest continuously operating marketplace in the United States and was once the site of the second-largest slave market in the U.S. Today it contains a large fountain and extensive landscaping, as well as a farmers' market each Saturday morning."
'Tis the season.
October 30

An experience of what they say about the rush hour trains in Japan where they hire sumo wrestlers to push the last possible person onto those trains. That's how crowded it was. Some people toward the end of a train's route would wait for a dozen trains to pass before they had made it to the pushing-in point.

Everyone I came into contact with was totally cheerful over the entire ordeal having the most fun calling out for the signs as they hove into view. It was all about the signs.
Here we are!

The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. My first plan was to keep to the outskirts of the mob thereby being able to come and go as the mood struck...
...which was working at the beginning. The crowds were thinner out here as everyone was hustling their way forward.
But then the program began and I couldn't hear a thing. They so underestimated the number of people who would attend that the speakers stopped at the point that far less than half the gathered masses could hear. The main entertainment out there was the ritualistic chanting of 'louder Louder LOUDER'.

So then like a shark I was, bobbing and weaving always on the move in and out in and out to see if I could make it up to a place where I could hear. HA, not a chance. I asked an amazingly tall guy to take this shot. This is as close as I got. The stage is the decorated bit in front of the Capitol in the far distance.
I exited the mass again and found some places up front but along the far side where you could both hear and not be trapped. I asked a guy who was camped out on top of a port-a-potty to shoot me this crowd scene.
A small sideways view, from Air and Space looking at the Art Museum.

Now come the signs. I took these pictures throughout the several hours of sharking it around the Mall.
And at the end I couldn't believe that what I was seeing was real. Look. No trash. Not one chips bag, not one soda can. Not one. Impressive!
October 31

We're off shuttle-metro-trolley, back into Old Town Alexandria (where one of the blocks is now free of parked cars (Hurray!))...
...to meet Terry, Carol, and Alex for lunch. We never did find each other yesterday at the rally what with the ga-billion people and cell phone service so spotty. When all those people are trying to find their people, cell phone service is not something you want to bet your life on.

THANK YOU again Alex and Carol for hosting me onboard Nepenthe while we took our tour of Colonial Virginia and for all the FUN! Until Next Time!!
After lunch Paul and Gretchen and I strolled down to the Alexandria waterfront and decided to enjoy the river tour up the Potomic where they leave you off in Georgetown for a couple hours and then you can ride back.
It was good to see these iconic monuments from another view new to me. I expect this view was also in the designers' original drawings.

A street view in Georgetown. I wasn't expecting big streets like this. There were two main crossing commercial avenues that we ran into...
...but mostly we saw pretty fabulous residential neighborhoods.

There's Georgetown University of course.

Ms Wiki: "Founded in 1751, the city of Georgetown substantially predated the establishment of the city of Washington and the District of Columbia. Georgetown retained its separate municipal status until 1871...
...Situated on the fall line, Georgetown was the farthest point upstream to which oceangoing boats could navigate the Potomac River (and the home of the area's most privileged and influential residents. From around the mid-1800s flight to the newer DC circles caused the town to fall onto hard times.)

By the 1950s, a wave of new post-war residents arrived. Many of these new residents were well-educated, from elite backgrounds and they took a keen interest in the neighborhood's historic nature... Georgetown is now one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Washington and home to many of the city's politicians and lobbyists."
Strong and colorful, so leafy and elegant.
Near the main streets.
From the pier in Georgetown, it's the Kennedy Center where every night at 6pm you can enjoy a free show, or so I've heard. I hope to check it out - we'll see, so much to do!
Because it's Halloween!
November 1

Today it's Bon Voyage to Paul and Gretchen and off to another DC suburb, Takoma Park, for me.

We went to the train station an hour or so early. This is what it says over the entry arch to the train station: He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him. So it is in traveling. A man must carry knowledge with him if he would bring home knowledge.
Across the street from the train station is the Postal Museum, a Smithsonian project, and very cool it is inside full of interesting, well documented displays.
Here's a map of DC and an overlay of the metro system, not actually overlaying where it belongs but you can see the river and the Mall.

The most important thing about accommodation in DC is accessibility to the metro. The Alexandria place was too far to walk, Georgetown doesn't have any really convenient metro, and out here in Takoma Park I'm an easy ten minute stroll to Takoma Station which is fifteen minutes to Union Station, a very central place.
A house two down from where I'm staying.
Here it is, my house. Kyle, who owns, occupies, and runs the place rents out the 8-10 bedrooms in various configurations including kitchens and bathrooms and sitting rooms; it's quite an establishment.

And Stuffed with STUFF. So Much Stuff. Starting with the two harpsicords, two grand pianos, dozens of pieces of electronica from the 1970s forward including ancient fax machines, a rotary phone, toasters and microwaves and what-all, lots of food and papergoods about, piles of pictures and books and papers, tapes-cds-dvds (hmm, I haven't seen any vinyl), designer furniture everywhere in every state of repair, tools and supplies for a dozen home improvement projects, lamps of every description. .think of it and we can probably find one.

I have two big rooms in the back with my own bathroom and kitchen with light pouring in from huge windows that look out onto the back garden. I'm paying for a week what it would cost for one night in a downtown hotel. I'm a happy camper!
I went out to dinner with Kyle at a great local restaurant and then came back to visit with some sweet guests from Korea who left the next morning, and an enjoyable evening it was!
November 2

All the inside metro stations I've been in have had this exact same design with virtually no ads or art or any kind of decoration really. It's clean though except generally the car floors could use a wipe-up.

Then there are the outside metro stations including the one at Takoma Station. I wouldn't have given it a thought except it has gotten cold, and cold makes you notice waiting outside.
My destination today was the Washington National Cathedral. I'd never been before, then one time I saw at Forest Lawn Mortuary a great display of the building and fitting out of the Cathedral and I've had a bug to see it ever since.

I took the metro to Dupont Circle to walk through Embassy Row on the way. It was a splendid walk.
This is the Cosmos Club. I experienced a strange and unfamiliar welling up of desire. I want to be a member of the Cosmos Club and find myself entertained by the luminaries of science, literature, and the arts who hang out here. They wouldn't let women darken their front door until 1988 but oh well.

The qualificaitons for membership: "Election to membership in the Cosmos Club honors persons deemed to have "done meritorious original work in science, literature, or the arts, or... recognized as distinguished in a learned profession or in public service".", ...there's still time for me.
Along the way.
I did this one for my friends Marija and Ljubica. What it says under the statue: St. Jerone The Priest A.D. 341-420 Greatest Doctor of the Church. I. Mestrovic, Croatian Sculptor 1883-1962
Walking walking, the highway below.
I saw on the map that right off this street was the Vice-President's House and the Naval Observatory. Well, I thought, let's have a look.

As I took a few steps down the path that led to the gate that led to these places a military guy came agressively rushing out at me to agressively demand I return to the street. What's the path doing there if you can't walk on it? I did leave right away, but at a strolly pace. I wanted to go back to ask that guy about didn't he hear, it's so much easier to smile than frown. .but I decided against it.
It's election day!
First view of the Cathedral.

"The Washington National Cathedral, officially named the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, is a cathedral of the Episcopal Church... Of neogothic design, it is the sixth largest cathedral in the world, the second largest in the United States (all I could find is that St Patrick's in NY is the largest Catholic cathedral).

Construction began on September 29, 1907, when the foundation stone was laid in the presence of President Theodore Roosevelt and a crowd of more than 20,000, and ended 83 years later when the last finial was placed in the presence of President George H. W. Bush in 1990."
"Its final design shows a mix of influences from the various Gothic architectural styles of the Middle Ages, identifiable in its pointed arches, flying buttresses, a variety of ceiling vaulting, stained-glass windows and carved decorations in stone, and by its three similar towers, two on the west front and one surmounting the crossing."
"The architects designed the crypt chapels in Norman, Romanesque, and Transitional styles predating the Gothic, as though the cathedral had been built as a successor to earlier churches, a common occurrence in European cathedrals."
For me I think the fabulous stained glass is the most unique feature of this Cathedral.

There's the Space Window which includes a fragment of lunar rock at its center, one is depicting major events of the life of Robert E. Lee, another tells about Stonewall Jackson, one for Charles Warren, one for Andrew Carnegie, one commemorating the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima. Unique!

I hung around until it started to get dark because the girls choir was singing. It was ethereal in that 'I'm in a movie' kind of way. Those great cathedrals are certainly built for sound.
The (huge) gift shop featuring a vast selection of Holiday Angels.
A view.
Another one.
I ate here, a few blocks from where I'm staying, for the second night in a row! The food in there is SO delicious. Yum. I'm hungry thinking about it.
November 3

I set the alarm and rose with the dawn to reach the Supreme Court in time to get a seat to hear oral arguments. Yes! I sat at the Supreme Court for two hours.

But first I had to stand out in the FA-REEeezing cold from 8:20 until 9:50. One hour and thirty minutes. Fortunately I didn't make friends with anyone in line so I wasn't tempted to verbalize the tale of my discomfort. And once in I forgot all about it and let myself be taken over by the experience.
I couldn't find a picture that had Kagan in it which is extremely too bad since she was my favorite asker of questions.

All the women spoke often - Kagan was clear and forthright, Sotomayor was also clear but not quite as concise, Ginsburg was harder to understand and took longer to ask her question but was always on point. The men were as advertised - Thomas was mute, Roberts was collegial, Alito was snarky, etc etc.

The two cases I heard, so arcane, from the filings:

First Arizona taxpayers challenged the constitutionality of Arizona's tuition tax credit in an Arizona federal district court. They alleged the tax credit violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because it funneled money to private religious schools. The district court dismissed the case. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that the taxpayers had standing to bring their suit and had alleged a viable Establishment Clause claim.
Question: 1) Do the plaintiffs lack standing because they cannot allege that the Arizona tuition tax credit involves the appropriation or expenditure of state funds? 2) Does the plaintiffs' theory of their injury in fact – that they are injured by Arizona's reduced revenue as a result of the tax credit – constitute injury in fact sufficient to create standing? 3) Do the plaintiffs have standing to challenge the decision of private taxpayers as to where they spend their money?

Second Three members of the Williamson family were involved in a head-on collision with another vehicle. Delbert and Alexa wore lap/shoulder seatbelts and survived, while Thanh wore a lap-only seatbelt and died. Subsequently, they sued Mazda Motor of America for strict products liability, negligence, deceit, and wrongful death in a California state court. The court dismissed the claims, holding that federal law precluded a state court tort action "to the extent the theory of liability [was rooted in] the lap-only seat belt." On appeal, a California appellate court affirmed, holding that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA") regulation allowing minivan rear seats to have either lap-only or lap/shoulder seat belts preempted state court wrongful death actions. Question: Does the NHTSA regulation allowing vehicle manufacturers to install either lap-only or lap/shoulder seatbelts in certain seating positions impliedly preempt a state-law claim alleging that the manufacturer should have installed lap/shoulder seatbelts in one of its seating positions?
A view of the Capitol from the Supreme Court. I ate at the Supreme Court cafeteria and then since rain was threatening and I was tired from the long day already, decided to go home.
The main drag of Takoma Falls. You know you're in a small town when the Ace Hardware store is on the main drag.
They even have their own clock tower.
November 5

This is the ceiling in Baltimore's Penn Station where I have come so I can spend some time with Dan and Shelly.
Dan picked me up. His car was instantly recognizable.

Congratulations! Dan just won his fifth four year term to the Maryland House of Delegates.
First we went for a driving tour around Baltimore with Dan describing, in vivid detail, all we passed.
There are many lovely residential areas. We skipped 'The Wire' tour.
This is where Francis Scott Key saw the rocket's red glare and the bombs bursting in air and behind where I am standing is where he could tell that the flag was still there.
A shot of myself at GaGaVille, the American Visionary Art Museum.

What they say: "The essential difference between (visionary art and folk art), though both may at times use similar materials and methods, is that visionary artists don't listen to anyone else's traditions. They invent their own."

It's really wild in there!
On the drive from Baltimore to Annapolis we passed the handsome Baltimore baseball field.
Dan was on a panel today, working as politicians do, so we went into Annapolis. This is the state capitol...
...and here is Thurgood Marshall.

On the other side of the capitol is a statue of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney best known as author of the Dred Scott v. Sanford decision, which said African Americans were not citizens.

There was a movement to remove this statue but they decided to put Thurgood Marshall on the other side instead to, according to Dan, let people see both the best and the worst.
Nice windows.

It was fun to travel in the wake of a politician doing his thing. We even got stopped in a restaurant - 'I voted for you' - which elicited greetings, hand shakes, the proffering of a name card. .'call me if you need anything at all'.

I'm thinking how out it public you've got to be pretty much always On. It's a job for sure.
Dan at his place in the House of Delegates.
Annapolis was the temporary capital of the United States in 1783–1784 and it was on this spot that General George Washington declined to be named king, the most significant point in modern history, setting us on our road to representative government.

This is the guide's rap and Dan's as well. .I'm still looking for a written source and Ms Google is failing me.
The town is just plain cute. Dan calls it cute central. Cute cute.
Annapolis, home of the Naval Academy. Go Navy. This is the intellectual side of the Navy unlike Norfolk which is basically about the brawn.

My father was old when I was born, he seemed older than he was, and I never knew him as anything but a guy near the end of his life. One thing though, he went to the Naval Academy. That's saying something since getting in is extremely competitive. There must have been more to him than I ever saw. But then he got kicked out, and that's another story.
The dingy dock for one of the hoity-toity-est sail boat marinas going.
It's Shelly. Thanks, it was a lovely day!
November 7

This is my metro station in Takoma Park. It's an outside station and when the wind kicks in you can really feel the cold. How great that you always know when the next train will be there. You can watch those minutes ticking off and it doesn't feel so long. A nasty downside with public transportation is when you're just waiting and waiting for you have no idea how long.

Another thing. Fall is crispy and colorful and bright and swell but for me who even likes it crispy, cripsy turns to cold in a flash. And for the next many months it's going to keep getting colder and the cold is going to turn to freezing. BRRR!
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The other three sides of this building are covered in scafolding.
The White House is to the right of the Executive Office Building and this shot is from the Washington Monument.

You can only get as close as that fence in front of the fountain, a great distance from the White House, and don't even think about a tour. Not happening.
Really grand...
...and more of it.
Here's one side of the latest installation, the World War II Memorial. That's Lincoln in the distance, Washington is behind me.
A close up.
Moving on down to the west end of the Mall we find Lincoln.
Here he is. What a guy.
From the top of the steps looking from Lincoln to Washington with WWII at the end of the reflecting pool.

There was a major controversy when the powers that be were reviewing plans for a WWII memorial. The biggest non-starter was to interrupt the flow of this view. They did an excellent job, building that big thing and yet retaining the end to end sight lines.
The Korean War Memorial. This is part A of the layout which doesn't stand alone...
...you need this shinny etched stone wall to pull it all together. The figures are reflected here along with the viewer and the etchings to put you in the scene.
Then of course I had to go see the Vietnam Memorial again for the manyeth time. As I was approaching I thought, hmmm, was it really that small, was I jaded by too many visits, would it not have its usual impact?
Once you get up to it it grabs you in and walking down that path,

People are still doing the rubbing of names. I heard one mother say to a young son 'Kevin, your Grandpa was in Vietnam'.
The clouds got thicker and lower, the sky darkened and a cold wind blew, and then, for a few seconds, a beam of light fell upon the monument, and I got it, a fabulous bit of luck for my last shot in DC.
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