Monday, September 6, 2010

Washington D.C. Day 1

    On Wednesday morning I got up pretty early and met my host for the first time.  Amazing generosity letting someone sleep in your house before meeting them eh?  After breakfast, I headed over to the Metro station near her house.  I took my time getting oriented in front of the Metro map so that I wouldn’t end up thirty miles in the wrong direction (I hadn’t done any research before hand of course).  I bought my ticket from the machine and hopped on the train.
    When I walked out of the subway station in D.C. I smiled because it was almost as if I had teleported right into the middle of the city (most of the ride there is underground).  I walked onto one of the mile long connected blocks of grass between the Capitol and the Washington Monument and looked around at my first big city of the trip.
From Washington D.C. Day 1 Album

    Since it was my first time in D.C., I followed the philosophy I use when there is a lot to see around me and I only have so much time: see the things I want to see most first.  There wasn’t much of a crowd when I got to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  They had the big boys, Mercury and Apollo crafts, right out front in the main entrance lobby.  I imagine if any of the Apollo crafts could talk, they would say something like, “Put me in a museum?  Put ME in a museum?  How about this: Take me outta here, use me to help you assholes figure out how to do what I did over forty years ago, THEN you put my ass in the museum.  I outta put all your asses in the museum.”  He’s cranky in the mornings.
    I watched a short video of how during the sixties we had top secret reconnaissance cameras orbiting that took pictures of Russian military bases to make sure they didn’t have even more destructive nuclear weapons than we did.  They showed LBJ saying it was worth spending billions of dollars on the space program because he knew exactly how many missiles the Russians had.  I’m not sure how wise it was to announce that to the world; also, hopefully someone considered that they may put their top secret military equipment under some kind of shelter.
    My favorite exhibit there hands down belonged to the Wright brother’s.  It showed their family’s background, their engineering and science philosophies, how they got along, and of course all the details of the things they got and didn’t get to fly.  Neither had a college education, but both read so much their education was equivalent to someone who was college educated.  Basically, they laid out all the problems one faced when building a flying machine, started with the hardest one, and only focused on the practical “how” side of things and not on the academic “why.”  Ex: how do I cut this piece of wood such that it creates lift vs. let write down a few dozen pages of aerodynamic equations to figure out why a bird can fly.
    I saw the Hubble 3D IMAX which is probably the best IMAX movie I’ve seen.  They used pictures that Hubble took to really make you feel like you’re flying around in space.  It really stirred up my interest in space and what else might be out there that we don’t know about.  Not enough, though, to make me want to go back to work :)  At the WWI exhibit they showed how the fighter pilots were overly romanticized despite their role’s limited impact on the outcome of the war.  At around 3ish I was all museumed out, so I walked around the perimeter of the Capitol building and then picked up what was essentially a partially cooked whole grain pizza at a small market on a sidewalk.
    I was in the vicinity of a slight scuffle on my Metro ride back.  It was pretty crowded because I had mistakenly chose rush hour as my return time and I was sitting next to a man who was in a pin-stripped suit reading Fortune magazine.  A man wearing business casual clothing with a laptop bag over his shoulder backed up and apparent stepped on the suit’s shoe.  The suit gave the other man’s bag a little push and the other man turned around.  I think it took the standing man a few seconds to realize it was a deliberate push and then he said, “I was moving to let her go by,” indicating the woman who had just sat down next to the suit.  “You stepped on my shoe.” “Okay I’m sorry. No need to throw punches.”  “I shine em’ you step on em’.”  This was indeed a minor incident, especially compared to what happened the next day.


Chad said...

Photo 14 is an X-15. One of the most bad-@ss plane/rockets of all time!

gooroo said...

Hey Its blake manuel, I was in M.E. at lsu if you don't remember me. Corey told me about the blog, pretty cool. If there is one thing i learned from my trip to DC its that they are quite harsh, assholes if you will. I had an old lady, could have been my grandma, tell me if i popped my gum one more time, she was gonna shove it up my ass. This was on the metro of course.

Laura Roach Dragon said...

I freaking LOVE the Smithsonian. Wish I was there with you.

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