neighborhood pictures

Christmas 2011 Toxic Memories

My entry placed 3rd in the 2011 McDonald Family Christmas Contest

cotton twill, procyon dye, plastic stenciling, spanish moss, bleach and lots of time

cc2011laura_t

Some Christmas Contest Prototyping

cc2011_dyetests_t cc2011_stencil_t
cc2011_dyes_t cc2011_protoTsjpg_t
cc2011_showerfloor_t cc2011_protobw_t

New Walgreens at the end of our block opened Dec 23
cc2011_walgreens_t

Balcony friend

Thanks to Tommy, Sandy and Teen T I have been able to get a good look at these guys!

Zoo

Joe and I took a trip to the zoo to play with my camera. It was a nice day, not to cold, not too crowded. I was disappointed that I could not get a good shot of the otters but the other animals that did accommadate us with a nice pose made up for it.



elephants_t
Elephants not so up close and personal as Lyla, Tracy and Zita experienced.

pandastretch_t
panda_t panda_stump_t
The panda was pretty active

komodo_t
Komodo dragon (my favorite photo)

croc_t
croc?

invertplaque_t yellowbamboo_tinversign_t seacreatures_t cuttlefish_t
The invertebrate house, home of the famous cuttlefish

prairie_t
Dramatic prairie dog

turtle_t spponbill_tredseeds_t monkey_t
Flora and fauna as Amazonia

roots_t purplrberries_t
Near home

Recent History (October)

I went to a board meeting at the country home of one of the other board members. It was about one and half hours outside of DC. The drive got prettier and prettier and ended on a large piece of farmland on top of a hill. Lovely home with lots of glass and beautiful views. We passed a road called Snikersville Parkway and I made Dana pull over so I could take a picture. Snickersville is what we call the street where my mom grew up. The real street name is unpronounceable by humans. Anyway this Snickersville was named after William Edward Snickers (born about 1735 - died 1790) who owned land in the area and operated a ferry and a tavern on the Shenandoah River.

road sign blumont house

bluemont driveway with trees bluemont garden

bluemont doorbell


Here are some late fall flowers that were hanging in there on my balcony

red flowerpurple flowerpink cosmos

Several family members and high school friend Karen were in DC for Dana's concert. We went to the National Gallery East Wing to see a Munch exhibit and then had lunch at the American Art museum.

east wing national gallery karen and laura


This is a magical little causeway going from the backstage area of the dance theater to the front entrance. It seemed like a secret.

dance place alley

Environmental

The little girl on the third floor has new art and an environmental message on her door! The art seems to be made of dried flowers, yarn and construction paper. The installation features a note suggesting that I knock rather than ring the door bell to save electricity.

3rd florr art installation 3rd florr art installation closeup

I participated in a photography project (not contest) at my work (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - GSFC). The instructions were to take photos around the center during a particular week and then the photos would be featured on the GSFC website as Pictures of the Day and on their Flickr site. So on my way to a meeting I took along my camera and took some shots. I submitted one of the photos but so far it has not shown up anywhere. The project was open to all employees and was widely advertised so I am sure many people participated. I am not sure why they are not posting the pics

Anyway here are some pictures I took but did NOT submit but I kind of like. GSFC is actually a beautiful "campus" with forests and ponds, wild and not wild flowers, deer, geese, fox, woodchucks and bunnies. The buildings are fairly boring and are named boringly, eg. Building 1, Building 2. The most recently built building is named Building 34. I work in Building 22. But many buildings have interesting satellite/radio dishes on top so my idea was to show the nature and the technology.

moon and tower at gsfc birds around the electical stuff at gsfc
The moon and some sort of tower. An electrical station with birds.
dish framed by tree flower with dish behind it
Dish on top of Bldg 8 framed by cars and a tree. Flower in same shape as dish on top of Bldg 23.
gsfc exhaust pipes
Exhaust pipes on Bldg 22


Below is the photo I submitted. I crouched behind some planted wild flowers that were being blown rather harshly by the wind and took a picture of the dish on top of Building 8.


dish through flowers

Have you given up on me?

It's been a while so let's catch up.

Austin and William hosted a wonderful Fish Fry at the end of July. Graeme was here for Camp DC and Lenore and my parents came for the event.

We had a wonderfully special dinner the night before with Woody and Patrick at Bibiana Osteria-Enoteca, an Italian restaurant downtown. Word got out that I had a recent birthday and I was surprised by a fancy dessert. I can't remember if the waiters sang or not.


illuminated birthday dessert birthday dessert plate


Austin's Fish fry was fun. Tracy's son and his family, Ellen and Sam, Mark and Allen, Earnest and Pam, Craig were there for the great food and fun.


frying fishSam, To and Ellen
Tracy, Justin and Austin frying. Sam and Ellen pose with the dishwasher.

ellen knittingingrid rocking
Ellen knitting and Ingrid rocking

kitchen chaos talking table
Fun kitchen scene. Talking movies.

ernest and pam
Pam and Ernest

rachelethan
Rachel and Ethan

kevin

Shortly after this party Kevin's seizures became more frequent and he had to be hospitalized. He is currently in a coma. The family is as hopeful as possible. It is truly heartbreaking. We are keeping Kevin in our thought and prayers.


electron microscopeskeletons of children
Museum of Medicine at Walter Reed
One of the first electron microscopes and creepily wonderful child skeletons


Below are some sites in the neighborhood and around town

hummingbird 1hummingfaceon_thummingflap_t
wind effectsambulance
sunrise
kickin chicken in rockvilleBeltway apples

June into July

If you have not seen pictures from Graeme's Graduation/Parent's birthday weekend go here now!
I did not include this nice picture of Graeme and Lynda's cat, Willow.

Willow


The local farmers market started. It is a block way. The first weekend I was front and center buying squash for our favorite chipotle squash casserole (which is like the Go Green and Gold! (high school colors) casserole we used to make in high school only with that pepper twist). Here is my favorite vendor.

van ness market vendor

I have not updated this blog recently because I was busy doing a music collage and video for Dana's new piece that was shown as one of the evening performances at the Smithsonian Folklife festival. The performance went well. Here you can see a bit of my video work on the TV. The piece is called "Charlie Chan and the Mystery of Love". The other picture is of his piece "Island" that I took from side stage. I love that big fan!

DTSB&Co performance DTSB&Co performance

I took this picture of Dana's rehearsal mistress's baby Marie Elizabeth (my two middle names!) at one of Dana's rehearsals. She might be about 10 months old.

marie elizabeth

This past week/weekend I bought four new tires, cycled twice, took two long walks, did a little shopping, swam, watched fireworks from the balcony, saw 3 bats flying around near the balcony 2 nights in a row and prepared for my trip to Edisto next week (yay!).

grafitti

fireworksfireworks

Insincere Gay Guy

There is a fun store down in Cleveland Park called Wake Up, Little Suzie. It's been there for over 10 years and I have bought lots of stuff there for myself and as gifts. There are two people who have worked there since it opened - Susan the owner and a guy who we call Insincere Gay Guy. He will greet customers and thank you for buying stuff but that is about all the interaction he will offer. He will speak to customers if spoken to but it is obvious he does not want to and has no interest in what they say. He is not grumpy. He is just a snob. We have just laughed about it over the years.

We dropped by yesterday after not visiting for a couple of years. Susan recognized us, smiled us and said "Hi Guys". Insincere Gay Guy mumbled a greeting. I quickly found a Tshirt I had to have and was forced to ask Insincere Gay Guy if there was a larger size. He somewhat sarcastically showed me the label and explained that the cryptic writing let me know that it comes in Small and Medium and that the Small was there but the Medium was in the back. (he has gotten a little grumpy) I just smiled and asked if I could see the Medium. He said "of course" and went and got it for me. Joe was browsing nearby and said he was glad to see that things have not changed. I suspect that Susan heard at least part of the interaction and came over to tell me about the Tshirt artist and that I could try it on in the back room if I needed to. I bought the shirt and love it.

Here is a pic from the artist's site. The design is called Octopus Robots


octopus_robots

Speaking of art the little girl on the 3rd floor has a new installation up on her door. I am not exactly sure what the point is but had to document it.
dots_art_t

Early Spring


The cherry blossoms were very nice this year.I did not go down to the tourist-heavy tidal basin but did enjoy the cherry trees and other spring plants in our neighborhood. I was so inspired I got my balcony plants in earlier than ever before.


grape hyacinth forsythia

crocus cherry

cherry blossom with talisman faucet
balcony leftbalcony right

Three more

I took these Sunday over at the nearby Howard Law School.

shadows_snow02010_t

cathedral_snow02010_t

closepine_snow02010_t

Taking it to the Streets

Spent most of the morning puttering around the apartment shredding old bills, organizing my beads and marveling at the falling snow. We ventured out around 2:00 to get a bite to eat and then take a walk. Most sidewalks were not shovelled and since there were not too many cars most everyone was walking in the streets. We started our walk on plowed sidewalk but eventually the plowed area stopped and then the snow was knee deep. As we re-crossed Connecticut Ave to head home a convoy of plows went by led by police directing people over a loud speaker to get off the street.


street scene little girl
Street walkers and a cute girl eating her lunch

hidden benchesbirch and evergreens
Hidden park benches and a birch tree among the evergreens

Joe's pictures are below
blow coat with skissnow boy
An inexperienced cross-country skier in a crazy blue coat and a little boy having fun

laura knee deep in yellow coatdump truck
An inexperienced cross country skier (luckily I wasn't trying) in a yellow coat and a snow plow with an emblem - a mouse next to the words "Big Papa".

Snow Season

It's been a snowy winter. So far it has been manageable, which means I have not had to drive in it. This past week it snowed a heavy wet snow overnight and the next morning the sun came up and created a wonderful mist in the trees behind our building. It looked pretty cool. As I write this the snow is falling or rather whipping around with high winds. Over 20 inches have been predicted. You'll probably see more pictures soon.

snow_mist_sun_400

The Great Snowfall of 2009

Got a day off work! The snow started Friday night December 18 and snowed for most of the next day. Friday night Brooke, Marcia and I ate a new restaurant in my neighborhood that I have been wanting to try, It was quite nice. Good food, nice wine. They also have a nice selection of beers so we'll have to go back. Joe and I took a walk Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Saturday we walked through a couple of parks near the embassies and then helped a guy in a Mini Cooper trying to go pick up his wife. The snow kept building up in front of his car. The snow had not been cleared from the parking lots at work so they gave us the day off.


booke_and_marcia_tlamp_statue_tredberries_tethiopia_tchina_tuae_snow2009_tsnowparkdec2009_tpushingthemini_tstranded_cars_t

Halloween and some other stuff

The little girl on the 3rd floor has not put up any artwork on the past couple of holidays so I thought her artistic aspirations were over. I was surprised when I saw something on her door at Halloween but a little disappointed at the uninspired decoration. But then I looked closer and was pleasantly creeped out
.

hallowee2009_apt320door_240 red door decoration


And we saw some nice old school paper Halloween decorations on a walk around the neighborhood.

hallowee2009_porch_240

The fall colors were nice this year. Here are some pics at work and from my balcony.

fallcolors_gsfc_240
At work

fallcolors_mist_240

fall_geranium_240 fall_saraswati_240
At home

The night before Halloween I had drinks with Dana and Tati and Dana's new dancer Hala. Here's Tati and me matching the couch fabric so nicely.

tati_bethesda_hotel_240

And then there was the fun halloween party at Dana's where I dressed up as a 60's go-go dancer. Take a look.

Summer's over..What will the future bring?

The pool is closed until next May and I am sad. It was a great swimming summer - lots of heat and little rain.

endofsummer_t

Summer swimming is over but it is still ice cream weather. We finally took out the ice cream maker and made up for our late start by making three batches - almond, cinnamon and grapefruit ice. All wonderful and they tasted great together.

I'll have to find an alternative to swimming laps (especially if we are going to make more ice cream). I did try a Zumba class this past week with my friend Brooke. Zumba seems to be a mixture of several styles of dance - samba, salsa, hip-hop, bollywood. It was quite fun and aerobic. It may just work.

This past Thursday Brooke and another friend Marcia and I went to a neighborhood French restaurant to catch up with each other. I tried dubonnet for the first time and although I will probably not order it again I am glad I tried it. Now I know "fortified wine" means too sweet for me. It did come in a nice glass.


dubonnet_t

After dinner we went over to Dana's house and he read our fortunes with some fortune telling cards that he has had since he was a child. He was amazingly accurate with Brooke' s fortune, Time will only tell with my mine.

pico_dana_t
This is Dana and his greyhound Pico. I am not a dog person but I do like Pico. He seems to know me and likes to stand calmly next to me.


Guest Appearance

Lyla and Tracy have two cats Precious and Kakis (pronounced kachis). Precious is friendly, likes to be around people and is always underfoot blending in with the oriental rugs. Kakis, on the other hand, is rarely seen and if you do see her she is a blur because she is trying to get as far away from you as fast as possible. That is until lately. At a recent event at Lyla's Kakis actually was in the same room as us for a short time and when she ran away up the stairs it was in stages. And then 2 weeks ago Kakis showed up during our video chat!

kakis_stairs

kakis

Neighborhood News:
There has been a farmers' market sponsored by the city of DC set up about a block away from our building on Saturdays. The first week there was one stand. The next week there was also a bakery. This week there were three stands, a bakery and someone selling jewelry. This is from the first week.

farmersmarketudc_t


And speaking of vegetables Joe made a wonderful salsa verde recently. The main ingredients are tomatillos, avocado, and jalapeno peppers.

greensalsa_t


And speaking of wonderful food I went to dinner with dance friends Brooke and Dana just after my birthday and Brooke brought cupcakes! Here's Brooke and Dana and Dana's dog Pico.

cupcakeholders_tcupcakemess_tpico072309_t





Early Summer

I am sure it will cool down again before it gets really hot but the last two days have been very warm, in the 90s. The air-conditioning has not been turned on yet so these last couple of days remind me of my high school days when my parents decided that an attic fan was enough to cool a big house full of sweaty kids. Actually I am liking it. I could not live without air-conditioning but I would like to live with less of it.

And most of the time I love sleeping with the windows open. This morning though, not so much. At 6:30 am a honking duck woke me up. It went on and on. I finally got up and looked out of the window. The pool 15 floors down had just been uncovered this week in preparation for a Memorial Day weekend opening. In the yucky murky green water of the pool were two ducks and on the deck was a black cat, probably licking his lips although I can't be sure. The one duck was very alarmed. It was a great "Peter and the Wolf" moment. I wanted to yell down "Hey, the cat can't swim and you can fly" but I suspected that would have little effect so I went back to bed and covered my ears. The honking eventually stopped. Joe was up already documenting the situation.

catplusducks_t

Family Update from the Midwest:

Dianne sent me photos from the Sheridan Family. Here's Emma Skye and her younger brother Leo and Dianne's lovely Easter dinner table.

Dianne, anytime you are with Austin and you see a antique store Austin is already in there checking out the Fiesta ware.
Thanks for the pix!


emma_leo_042009

diannes_table

Last weekend my friend Gail married Chris her fiance of 6 years (he asked her to marry him on their second date) in a beautiful ceremony in a historic home in Georgetown. The best moment was when the familiar "Here Comes the Bride" music faded out and Etta James' "At Last" faded in as Gail walked down the aisle. I know all of Gail's friends have said "At last" at least once since hearing they had set a date. It was great to see old friends and family. Gail and Chris as well as Austin, William, Lyla and Tracy were featured in last week's Picture of the Week. Here are some more pictures.
gailchris_parrot_t

For the rehearsal Chris brought a bird decoration to represent the real birds that live with them. Nobody would have been surprised if the real birds had shown up at the ceremony.

gailchris_dance_t gailchris_toast_t
A wonderful singer sang "At Last" again for the first dance. Lyla and I gave a toast from the entire McDonald family (photo taken by the wedding photographer).


Recent Past

Well, Austin updated his blog before I did so I must have been gone a long time. So hopefully I'll make up for my prolonged absence with lots of content.

First, I added pictures from Lynda's party on the main Web page. Austin was responsible for some of those pictures. Lynda's party was a blast. She and my mother planned a perfect 50th birthday party and us worker bees did a great job with the furniture moving, cake, drink, music, entertainment. BoBo, a local Edisto caterer, did the party food (he and his wife are sleeping in the Photo Booth video). Here are some pictures that Dell took of the fun.

dancingfool_t outside_in_t
Note the fingernail polish. I had my first ever professional manicure that morning.

blue_blouse_t graeme_w_sisters_t


And now, going back in time, here are pictures from my Christmas at Washington Hospital Center and Williamsburg. It wasn't clear at first whether Austin would be able to join us after his quadruple bypass surgery but he managed to get out on good behaviour. And it was a treat to have William with us. Lenore's and possibly Austin's pictures are included.

wlmg_xmas_t



Next I would like to document a weather and time related disaster that occurred on my balcony. Sad.

wind thing in better days wind thing disaster
Before and after.



And here are some recent pictures. I took some during our walk today in the very light snow. We are supposed to get a lot more snow tonight.

vne_fountain_t bluepots_t
A new fountain at the condo building next door and some pretty blue pots with matching shutters a couple of street over.


claybells_t clayhouses_t
Again from the condo building next door.


martini_t
From Dana's party at a bar near his house. Lots of fun.

Thanksgiving 2008

Quiet day - good for catching up. This is a long one.

I got some good news yesterday. The injury that I sustained during my first Bollywood class and that has prevented me from going to ballet class was not a hip labral tear. This means it is something I can mend using physical therapy rather than surgery. And I now know that an MRI with contrast means a needle is going to be stuck into your thigh and then god knows what happened then to get the dye spread out. All I know is that it went on forever and I whimpered a lot and the students observing had horrified looks on their faces.

I have some pictures collected that I've been meaning to show. These two are from the theater at Towson University where Dana performed last Spring. The lipstick marks are in the stairwell leading from the stage to the dressing rooms. The other is from the dancers warmup class.

dtsbco_kisses_t dtsbco_deepsecond_t

And here are some pictures from the neighborhood

A decoration probably for Diwali outside a local Indian restaurant and the line I stood in for voting (It took 45 minutes)

indiadecor_t votingline_t

Here's some neighborhood graffiti at Howard University Law school and a nearby post office.

hls_fullwall_t hls_doordetail_t

hls_claws_t murky_the_pony_t

This my office where I have several Graeme Rock originals.

myoffice_t

TV show reviews

Mad Men
The design of the sets and costumes is amazing and the story line is so riveting. Every character is just so interesting. Roger Sterling has the best lines. Joan is the best bitchy-on-the-outside/vulnerable-on-the-inside secretary ever. I want to be Peggy (except for the hospital stay part). Don Draper is so cool even when he is a tortured soul.

Chuck: When it ended last season I thought it had lost its charm and seemed to be concentrating more on girl spies in sexy clothes. But this season there is more fun stuff going on with Chuck's co-workers at More Buy and there are fun disguises for the guys and gals.

Fringe: I like it most weeks especially the interaction between the mad scientist and his world weary son. The lead is pretty and tough.

30 Rock: Except for the first episode of the season it rocks!

Samantha Who?: Not anywhere near hilarious or ingenious but I still like it. Sidekick Andrea is the best thing since Patsy on AbFab.

And finally, a little video of a recent video chat. Little T, who seems to have learned a mischievous thing or two from his dad, figured out how to disconnect from the chat at one point.



Misprints

"The dark, impersonal atmosphere is enhanced by Ryuichi Sakamoto's music, Laura MacDonald's sound montage..." says the Washington Post

"...and multimedia artist Laura McDonald..." says the Washington Times

"... a Laura Macdonald montage ...." says the DanceViewTimes

All three were positive reviews of Dana and his dancers and I am happy that I was part of it.

And here's a panoramic shot that Joe took of the new Chinese embassy that was just completed. He has walked past the huge construction site every day for the past three years


embassy3_t

Witch's brew

I made a batch of India Pale Ale last Sunday and tomorrow I will bottle it. The batch usually makes about 2 cases of beer so I have been trying to save bottles over the last couple of weeks, When I checked last Saturday I found that I was short so early Sunday morning I went recycling bin diving in the refuse rooms on my floor and the 6 below. My experience shows that residents in this building drink more wine than beer, many don't know the difference between trash and recycling and many do their laundry at 7:30 am in the morning. I managed to score a 12 pack of empty Harp bottles and at least six other miscellaneous brands. So I am probably OK.

Here's what was happening Monday night:



And I was so happy that the little girl on the 3rd floor is exhibiting some new seasonal artwork on her front door. It's been a while.

halloween door

The little post-it on the left says "Burning Ben" with a drawing of a witch. On the right we have "Cackley Bradley" and a spider.

Capital Criterium

Joe and I walked downtown last Sunday to watch the Capital Criterium Bike Pro Race where about 100 riders did 85 laps around a 1km circuit on the streets near the Capitol. It was a beautiful day. There was a good turnout but it was easy to move around and see the race from several vantage points. Christian VandeVelde who placed 5th in the 2008 Tour de France raced and although he was in the final sprint he did not win. And conveniently the race was held near the Old Post Office home of the Masala Dosa and Mango Lassi.


ccrit_capital_t ccrit_close_t
The race in the shadow of the capitol.

ccrit_corner_t ccrit_harriers_t
The cyclists came around a corner to climb up a hill. In this lap Vandevelde was way ahead of the pack

ccrit_hare_t ccrit_fastfreddie_t
Vandevelde by himself early on and the group that scrambled for the win. The guy in red and blue won.

ccrit_autographound_t ccrit_lilracer_t
Vandevelde signing autographs and a participant in the children's race.

ccrit_building_t dosas_092008_t
A white building against a beautiful blue sky and our lunch.

Photo Credit: The photos that look like they might have been taken by someone who knows how to work the camera settings were taken by Joe.

Dirt Baths

My dance friend Brooke and I took a Bollywood dance class last night. During the hour we learned about a minute of dance from a Bollywood film called Aarya. It was fun but exhausting and my quads are killing me today. We'll be back next week.

One of the things that makes me smile is birds taking a dirt bath. I secretly caught some on my camera recently.

A Sad Day

Our favorite sandwich shop has closed.

Joe has been going to Schlotzsky's since it opened 14 years ago. I would join him now and then but about 2 years ago we started the habit of going there almost every Saturday after we got back from our various Saturday morning activities (cycling, dance class, sleeping in, etc). Both Lenore and Graeme went there with us when they were in town (Graeme ate two sandwiches in one sitting). We always sat close to the front near the big windows so we could comment on everything and everyone walking or driving or riding by. It was great for people-watching. Unlike most places there were several choices for vegetarians and there were at least 4-5 sandwiches that I liked. The seating area was quiet and there was free wifi. The proprietor was a quiet Sikh gentleman who was always there and many times was the sandwich maker.

Two weeks ago he came to our table and told us he was selling the restaurant and would be closing the following Friday. We were shocked and knew that our lives were about to change forever. There are several other sandwich shops around but most are loud, filled with kids or just serve food that is not that good. There is a decent cafeteria with a good salad bar and nice window seats but it is just way too expensive.

There will be a restaurant opening at the Schlotzsky's location supposedly soon. We'll have to wait and see if it is anywhere as good. Today we went to the expensive cafeteria and saw two other Schlotzsky's regulars - Mr. Calvert-Woodley-Wine-Seller and Mr. Old-Guy-Who-Likes-to-Talk-Politics. A third regular Mr Suit-On-A-Saturday was sitting outside at Potbelly's.


schlotzsky's deli schlotzskys03_t

schlotzskys08_t schlotzskys06_t

Flag Day

I did a new modified triathalon on Sunday. We did a 14 mile bike ride in the morning. I did a half mile swim with a little bit of sun bathing mid-day. And then the third triathalon event was Flagtography. We have many emabassies within walking distance. Joe informs me that the area is called International Chancery Center. Anyway it was a nice warm breezy day.

flags_ethiopia_t flags_jordan_tt
Ethiopia and Jordan

flags_statedept_t flags_bangladesh_t
State Department and Bangladesh

flags_isreal_t flags_egypt_t
Israel and Egypt

flags_slovakia_t flags_austria_t
Slovakia and Austria

flags_Brunei_t flags_united_arab_emerits_t
Brunei and United Arab Emirates

flags_pakistan_curved_t flags_malaysia_t
Pakistan and Malaysia

flags_niger_egy_t flags_udc_t
Nigeria with Egypt in the distance and some flags at the University of the District of Columbia

We do not have cable but our building just recently upgraded their antenna so we get many HD and analog channels. It will never be as good as cable especially since many of the stations come and go but Sunday I was very surprised to see ShahRukh Khan on a talk show on my TV.

shahrukhonmytv

That Cone Thing That Dogs Wear

This weekend was hot! It was 80 degrees at 8:00 am this morning when we left for our bike ride but luckily when we descend into Rock Creek Park the temperature drops by over 5 degrees. Unfortunately when I am struggling to climb up the hill out of the park the temperature is also rising 6 degrees adding insult to humiliation. I was dying. But the warm weather has warmed up the pool so the water temperature was perfect when I took my first swim of the season. Last weekend the pool was not warm enough for me but at least someone was enjoying it.

duckpond_t

And in other animal news, Dana's sweet dog Pico hurt his leg and has to wear a cone to keep him from licking, biting, irritating the wound. I felt so bad laughing at him but could not help it.


picowithcone_t

And here are some neighborhood pictures.

One of the Chinese construction workers building the new embassy has pimped out his hard hat.

lunchbreak_t

And we found some plum trees.
plum1_t plum2_t
And finally I tried something new this week. My dance friends, Brooke and Marcia, and I went to a great Indian restaurant called Indique and I had appam, a rice flour pancake, with chicken curry. It really was delicious. Appam is from the Kerala region in southern India which is somewhat familiar to me because it is where one of my favorite books The God of Small Things is set and where Vasanth, the most talented dancer we met on our trip to India, is from.


A New Hill of Hell and Humiliation

Joe and I headed out for our 12 mile bike ride in Rock Creek Park this morning. The temperature was just right for my vintage baby blue wool jersey so I was lookin' good. About a mile in another cyclist pulled up next to us and started chatting. It turned out to be our neighbor that has ridden with us once before. He and Joe chatted some more while I just tried to keep up. He offered to show us the route he was going and a hill that was challenging. For some reason I said yes. I was ready for some extra miles but not that hill. I had to walk most of the way - how humiliating! It was a very pretty street with no traffic so I may try it again one day. We ended up doing just over 17 miles.

Here are some miscellaneous pictures I took recently:

More new balcony flowers
windthing2008_t saraswatiflowers2008_t
geraniums2008_t

A blouse I made in the sewing class I took. It turned out pretty well!
sewingproject_t

And here's a fun little scene in the local grocery store.
giantbird

And Lynda had a pink flamingo friend join in on our video chat tonight.
And all of a sudden there was Tracy too!
flamingochat

More Beer reviews
beer_clipper_t

Clipper City Red Sky at Night Saison Ale and Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale are from a local Baltimore brewery. I really like the Red Sky at Night Saison Ale. It has a nice full taste, just slightly sweet. The web site lists the ingredients. I had no idea there are so many different types of hops but I do know there is a world-wide hops shortage. Oh no!

Hops: Magnum and Styrian Goldings
Malts: Pils, Carapils, and wheat malts, Belgian candi sugar

The Hop3 ale is OK.

Hops: Magnum, Centennial, Chinook, Amarillo and Palisade
Malts: Crisp English Pale, Carapils, and Munich


I will definitely buy the Saison Ale again.

Spring Vegetation

So I did my annual planting of annuals on my balcony on Saturday and on Sunday the annual emptying of the murky green pool water took place 15 floors below our balcony. Way too much excitement for one weekend. And that does not even include the excitement of having dinner over at Lyla & Tracy's place Saturday night with Austin, Ben & Den and the Nicolosi family. And we might have a convert to the Church of Video Chat in Den. He just got a new Mac with a built in webcam.

The water from the pool was pumped into Rock Creek which I guess was ok. I suspect all the chlorine was gone and that sludge might have actually been full of healthy vegetation. The pool was filled by Monday morning and will probably be 60 degrees until the middle of July. It opens next weekend.

poolsludge_t

Here are some flowers I planted. It's Thursday and I am still sore from moving around pots and boxes in a small 5x13 foot space.

flowerpotsbrick_t pinkinpot_t
pink_greenleaves_t

Saturday night dinner where everything was great but Austin's Sauteed Spinach with Gorgonzola cheese and Star Fruit was the big hit.

bendenattable_t familyatdinner_t

And speaking of Video Chat here's Lyla and me chatting with Graeme's sushi dinner.

sightspeed051808

Spring Things

Paula asked me to take some pictures of the cherry blossoms and a movie of the petals falling off the trees. Now we could have gone downtown and risked falling into the tidal basin but we played it safe and just went across the street to the University of the District of Columbia.Now I realize there was no real onslaught of cherry blossoms there but there were some nice sightings.


blossomsinline_t blossomsstairs_t

birdinblossoms_t



Quicktime movie (5.2 MB)
I should have added the sound of crickets chirping.

I come from a predominantly non-musical family (I was in the Virgin Islands when Graeme was born so how do I know he was not adopted?) so it may come as a surprise that I have been asked to create a musical score for a dance piece. Luckily it involves mostly computer work - using existing song samples, vocal recordings, special effects. Could be fun, could be the downfall of a highly-praised choreographic career. I'll keep you informed.

More Beer reviews
beer_stoneipa_t scarybeer_t

Stone IPA is brewed in California and is mighty fine with lots of hops and a nice clean taste.





Stop Action Animation and Dress Forms

Usually when I hear of Eastern European animation or puppets I run screaming in the other direction but I have to say that the animated version of Peter and the Wolf they are showing on PBS is excellent. This version is dark with glimpses of humor and a different ending. It is a Polish-British-Norwegian model stop action animation production, took 5 years to make and won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film this year. Here's a taste:



We're watching the 3rd season of Project Runway on DVD. It is the best reality TV show ever. And in our neighborhood it looks like a fashion academy has opened up. Here's some items featured in their front window. It's hard to see but the man's suit is on a female dress form. It still looks snazzy though.

sewing machine nametags dress forms in window

And here's just some fashionable umbrellas seen a little further up the street:
brella_watchers_t

More Beer reviews

anderson valley ipa anderson ipa beer bottle cap

I like wine from Anderson Valley in Sonoma County, CA so I was interested to see how they do with beer. Although this Hop Ottin' IPA is not my favorite Indian Pale Ale it is still quite good. The flavor is nice but the hops are a little too subtle. I would buy it again.

Spring/Latvian Pig Man

Spring is not quite here but we did encounter some early spring flowers on our walk this weekend. The college campus across the street has many Japanese cherry trees only just starting to bud but we found one that seems to have jumped the gun.

cblossomtrunk_t cblossomsinthesky_t

Near this tree we found a little patch of wee blue flowers.


bluepatch_t bluepatchtrees_t

And speaking of Nature I have been doing some research on the Latvian forest preserves in hopes of visiting some of the magical, mystical rural areas outside of Riga when we are there in July. I ran across CŇękmens, the spokesperson for a "Don't Litter" campaign in Latvia.

cukmenscape


cukmenstrees

cukmensflying


If you want more here is a fun video

Fun Science

Joe and I walked downtown during the holidays and we passed this elephant. It was part of the project that all cities seem to promote where some sort of animal/thing is painted. We've had panda bears and elephants/donkeys. After they've been exhibited at various locations around the city they are auctioned off. We see them in yards and in front of buildings and usually we look and say "I get it" or "That's cute/lame". This one though kept our attention for at least 15 minutes. It is really quit clever. It is located in front of the American Chemical Society building.

Click to see closeups:
ept_14_450

ept_5_t

Thanksgiving 2007

I am not thankful for the cold/flu that I have. After 6 days you'd think I'd be feeling better but no, I am still whining.

Thanksgiving day was pretty good except for the death of my car's battery that prevented me from visiting Austin and his guests before they ate dinner. But my dinner was simple but delicious - Green bean casserole, Cheesy Monkey bread and Apple cake. I believe it met the minimum Thanksgiving requirement for starch that Sandy and I discussed in a conversation earlier this week.


tgivingstarches_t

Here' s picture of a funny little car that parks near my office. It is a government car but I am not sure of its exact purpose.

govcar_t


More Beer reviews
Lagunitas India Pale Ale: Now that I know that India Pale Ales have an extra hoppy taste I want to try them all. The Lagunitas web site says their IPA is a "special homicidally hoppy ale" and while I found it to be quite good with a nice smooth taste I did not find it to have a strong hoppy taste..

beer_lagunitas_t

Some more movie/DVD reviews

3 Iron
A curious Korean movie about a young man who moves into people's homes when they are away. He eats their food but also does their laundry and other cleaning. He manages to leave before the occupants return. At one house that he thinks is empty he finds a woman who has been abused by her husband. She leaves with him and joins him in his little home invasions. They are eventually caught and she returns to her husband but they still remain together in a way that may not be real. There are some elements of horror towards the end that were kind of confusing to me. It is a nice looking film and I am glad I saw it but it is just odd. The director also directed Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring,

Robots
Animated kid's movie about a young robot who has dreams of being an inventor. He goes to the big city where he makes friends but his dreams look impossible to achieve. The animation is very inventive but the story is nothing special. The ending scene involving a robot dog singing like James Brown, a marching band and lots of robots dancing makes up for the overly long scene involving flatulence.

More Child Art

It's been a while since the little girl on the 3rd floor and Zoe the little girl along Joe's route to work have put any of their art work on display. But luckily they have been inspired recently. I was thrilled to see some Halloween art appear on the 3rd floor door that I pass on the way to the garage. And Joe took a picture of Zoe's sidewalk chalk work. It's been a good week.

thirdfloorart_t zoe_bunny_t


More Beer reviews

Redbach by Rodenbach brewery: I found this in the back of the fridge. It is a cherry flavored Belgium ale . The bottle says it's "kissed by cherries" but the cherry flavor is up front and not subtle. I bought it a while ago and wasn't thrilled with it so I am saving it for a rainy day. Or maybe I will cook with it. I just checked out their website and saw that there are recipes, including a Breast of duck with cherries and Redbach!

beer_redbach_t

Dreams

We were near an Apple store today so we popped in to look at the iPhone. It is pretty impressive and once you figured out some basics it is very intuitive. The sales guys were there to answer questions but were not pushy. I imagine the thing just sells itself. I may buy one one day.

I have had several dreams lately of going around and locking doors and windows. One dream took place in an old house we used to live in, the other in a house I was not familiar with. There was no real anxiety associated with the dreams and I have not quite figured it out what they mean.

Here are two little videos I took recently. One is the fife and drum group at the July 4th parade we ran into on our bike ride. The other is a parade of one blue dog who works Connecticut Ave. in front of the local pet store. It's always a treat to see him/her while we eat sandwiches across the street at Schkotszky's.






Folklife Festival

Sunday we braved the high tourist turnout and went down to the Smithsonian Foklife Festival at the Mall. This year they featured Northern Ireland, Mekong River and Roots of Virginia. Joe had read about a band from Ireland called Four Men and a Dog (pronounce "Dag" like Brad Pitt pronounced it in "Snatch"). We got there in time to catch the end of their set. The kids and adults dancing were as entertaining as the band. (There was no dog). and


4men+dag02_t


We then saw a young song and dance troup from China, a barbershop quartet type group from Tibet.

mekong03_t mekong01_t

tibetanquartet_t


Then the Vietnamese opera performed.

\mekong05_t


The food lines at the folk life festival were way too long so we headed to the food court at the Old Post Office. First we had to get masala dosas at the Indian Kitchen. I almost tried the Coconut Bharfi and Thums Up soda.

signage_t indiandelight_t

coconutbharfi_t thumsup_t

And we could not leave without a visit to Larry's Cookies.

larryscookies_t

Some more movie/DVD reviews
We've been renting some cable TV series

Dead Like Me
Paula recommended this series about the dead walking among the living acting as grim reapers. We've seen the pilot. The cast is interesting and we are interested to see how the story develops.

The Wire Season 2
Started off a bit slow but the action is picking up. The first season was all about the drug dealing gang in the Baltimore projects. This season the story continues in the projects but there is also a murder investigation in the Baltimore Port. I still can't get enough.

Entourage
Another great series - a young actor makes it big in the movies and moves from Queens to Hollywood with his childhood friends. Jeremy Piven plays his intense agent. It's light and fluffy and fun with cameos here and there. Joe's favorite so far is Jessica Alba. Mine is Mark Wahlberg.



Top Fifty

I have nothing to write about really. The most interesting thing going on is my new haircut and the request by my Italian friend Lorella to be her 2nd Medical Power of Attorney. She is having laparoscopic surgery next week. She informed be that if things don't go well she wants to be burned.

It is lilac and wisteria time in DC. I took this picture in the parking lot next to my ballet studio.

wisteria_t

So since it is a slow news day I thought I might list Joe's and my Top 50 movie list that we put together recently:

(In no particular order)

Kill Bill I & 11
Sexy Beast
Snatch
My Neighbors the Yamadas
The Fifth Element
Dil Se
The Matrix
The Professional
Trust
Simple Men
BladeRunner
Ghost in the Shell
Stargate
City Hunter
Chinese Ghost Story
Hana & Alice
Afterlife
Baraka
Galaxy Quest
Lost In Translation
Toy Story
Slacker
My Neighbor Totoro
Slaughterhouse 5
Dr Strangelove
To Kill A Mockingbird
Clerks
From Dusk til Dawn
Edward ScissorsHands
Grace of My Heart
Last of the Mohicans
Raise The Red Lantern
Party Girl
Die Hard
High Risk
Paris Texas
Wings of Desire
Star Wars
Young Frankenstein
Annie Hall
Bram Stroker's Dracula
Princess Bride
Sixteen Candles
Bottle Rocket
The Last Seduction
Singing In the Rain
Local Hero
Enchanted April
Austin Powers
Nightmare Before Christmas

Memorial Day Weekend 2007

Good weekend so far. Saturday I planted my balcony flowers which I had bought Friday at lunchtime. It is fun just walking around the nursery looking at all the colors and textures. I bought some old standards - geraniums, purple petunias (they smell the best), portulaca, mint - as well as some new ones - garden pinks, something with flamingo in the name, lobelia. Austin gave me a nice maple-leaf plant that has an orange blossom that seems to be made of chinese rice paper.

Yesterday morning Joe and I did an 18 mile cycling ride in VA. Some highlights:

  • Sweet-smelling honeysuckle everywhere

  • Watching a bird pick up a a perfectly clean kleenex lying on the trail and fly away with it

  • Riding along with the "Rolling Thunder" (veterans on motorcycles, mostly Harleys) on Interstate 66. Interstate highways and other roads were closed to accommodate their trip from points in VA and MD to the Pentagon. People were lined up on the overpasses waving at the riders. The riders beeped at them. It was quite loud but impressive.

  • Seeing two large herons along the way. One was bigger than any heron I have seen in the SC marsh.


As I was planting flowers I listened to some new music. Here's what I'm liking:

  • Rufus Wainwright - I listened to his dad Loundon in the late 70s and 80s. I have tried to listen to Rufus in the past but was never impressed. His latest though finally broke through. Romantic, bitter, thoughtful, clever.

  • VHS or Beta - fun 80's influenced music, as you would expect from the name

  • Final Fantasy - a guy who plays nice pop music and uses violins for percussion. I found some mp3s of a collaboration between Final Fantasy and a rapper Cadence Weapon. It was a great fit.

  • Kings of Leon - Southern Rock n Roll, but in a good way

  • A small Swedish Invasion - Jose Gonzalez, Peter Bjorn and John

  • Amy Winehouse - way too much hype but she has a great boozy blues style and apparently a lifestyle to match


Here are some pictures of my balcony:

flowers20072_t flowers20071_t

Christmas Contest Entries

I am only missing one entry so I am releasing the Christmas Contest 2006 entries. Hopefully I'll get Wayne's sonnet soon. You better enjoy them. A lot of blood, sweat and tears were shed in their making

Here are some neighborhood pictures.

A pretty little house in Georgetown

gtownhouseside_t gtownhousegate_t


Toys In Yards


neatntidy_t toysinyard_t
red_blackcar_t





Long Time Gone

A new entry is long overdue. I have been a little busy with christmas shopping which I do mostly online but it's the management of all the alliances I have built with my sisters and brothers for gift buying that takes time. It is so complicated I have to keep a spreadsheet and this year Austin is organized enough to join in on the alliances and my aunt Zita wants in too because she hasn't travelled much this year, her usual source for presents, so it's even more intensive. But most of my shopping is done!

And then there is the Christmas contest. It's coming along. I have found that working on black velvet requires daylight.

And I have also been working on images and little movies that will be used in my friend Dana's dance performance in March. I am enjoying doing the research and video-taping and video-editing but I am now starting to think of the hundreds of people including dance critics from major newspapers who will see the performance. I am now wishing I had gone for that BA in Art instead of that BA in Astronomy.

Here are two pictures I took recently.

our new antenna local parade queen
This is a cool looking antenna we got recently to use to get some stations that are not part of our building's antenna (we do not have cable). I took this last month when nearby University of the District of Columbia held a parade that passed by our street.

Some more movie/DVD reviews
Mystic River
Excellent story, very engaging, beautifully filmed, great acting. My only complaint was the last scene that seemed tacked on and unnecessary. It should have ended with the Sean Penn character walking down the middle of the street away from the Kevin Bacon character.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
After the inital 15 minutes where the vulgar to funny ratio was a bit high I really started to enjoy the movie. I really like Jay's ramblings in this movie as I did in Clerks and the silly plot was actually interesting.

Tis The Season

At Christmas time some Metro drivers decorate their trains. Decorations consist mainly of fake snow but that's OK. Seeing a Christmas train is like seeing a money train which is a train that runs through the system collecting the money from the fare machines. It is empty except for the employees who push the money vaults around and the 2-3 armed guards who step out of the train and stand on the platform until the vaults are back in the train. I have not seen a Christmas train or a money train in a long time. But some of the station managers also decorate. Joe took this at the Friendship Heights station.
/lauralu/Sites/metro station decorations

I am almost ready for Christmas. I leave for SC on Thursday. Hopefully the weather will stay good and we will all get there on time.

Pet Food Bunny

We went on our usual 12 mile bike ride Sunday. It was a brisk 45 degrees but I am getting better at figuring what to wear. I have a couple of vintage wool cycling jerseys and I love wearing them. It's a bit cold at first going downhill to the park but it warms up really quickly once we get down to Rock Creek Park. Other cyclists are always commenting on Joe's bike which is a hard-to-find Japanese steel bike. My Italian Atala bike is also old and steel but it is not as popular. The last couple of outings though I've gotten comments too. One guy passed us a couple of weeks ago and said "Old school bikes. Cool".

My sonnet is coming along but I am still finding it very hard. I've changed themes a couple of times. I heard rumors that Lenore finished hers while lounging in her chemotherapy comfy chair and that Paula has already written 2 sonnets.

A neighborhood picture:

petfoodbunny_t

Some more movie/DVD reviews

Good Bye Lenin!
A nice little movie about a son trying to hide the fact that the Berlin wall has fallen from his mother after she wakes up from a coma. It is an interesting portrayal of that time and place.

Hectic Times

Things are fairly under control. The alliances set up with the siblings for Christmas gift purchases are underway and my other preparations are progressing. The Christmas Contest sonnet, however, is not going well. I thought writing my short little haikus for the 1998 contest was hard.

Joe was at a mall recently and saw this for sale. The picture on the right is something recovering Catholics know well. This one though has lights and a garish clock attached. I kind of like the lights. The clock, not so much.
guardian angel

Art Appreciation

The Museum of American Art was closed for renovation for a number of years.
It reopened this year and they did a great job.

One of the galleries
aa_dec_t


This is a creepy installation. I did not want to get near. I was sure she was going to move.
aa_scary_t

Fun chandelier
aa_chandelier_taa_chandelier_cl_t

Leafless trees on the Smithsonian Mall
aa_trees_t

I did a bit of Christmas shopping in the museum stores. My Smithsonian
membership discount card was very busy.

Visitors

Last weekend Lynda and Graeme came up for the long weekend. We went to Zita's Friday night for her annual Russian New Year's party. Saturday Lynda and I worked on her web site project (she volunteered to maintain a website for Graeme's school) while Lyla, Tracy and Graeme went to the Spy museum. Sunday Tracy, Lynda, Graeme and I went down to the Smithsonian Sackler Museum of Asian Art and the Freer Gallery to see the Ottoman Textile exhibit and anything else we encountered.
Sackler Gold Exhibit Kids with magnifying glasses
This small exhibit on Gold was conveniently located near the gift shop and bathrooms. Which may have been why there were so many noisy little kids running around. They were kind of cute with their magnifying glasses.
Tracy and Ganesh
Separated at birth?
Two of Lyla's favorite dudes
In front of the Sackler lovely sackler garden
In the garden outside the Sackler museum
lovely Sackler garden lovely Sackler garden
Some more movie/DVD reviews
The Limey
This thriller is about an ex-con who travels from England to Los Angeles to find out more about his estranged daughter's death. It has a very interesting look to it and the editing is unusual without being too gimicky. The story is not complicated so it is more about the characters involved. Terrance Stamp and Peter Fonda do a great job with the characters. I thought this was much better than some Soderbergh's more ambitious movies like Full Frontal and Traffic. As I was just now looking over Soderbergh's film list I saw King of the Hill, a bittersweet movie that spawned my interest in vintage Hamilton watches. I had forgotten he had done that. Another excellent film that seems to have slipped through the cracks. It is not on out on DVD.

Something New For The Resume

For the last 6 months I have been working on a series of images that were to be used as projections during my friend Dana's new dance work. I have been editing fun home videos for the last 5 years but this was serious. I could ruin someone's 15 year career as a dancer/choreographer if I did not do it right. Well last night was the performance and as far as I know Dana's good reputation is still intact.

The process was interesting. The piece was partly inspired by a world war II love story by Marguerite Duras. I searched the National Archives web site for images of war and death and planes. I video-taped the dancers at one point and did a lot of Google image searches. I put together a lot of little videos for Dana to look at and eventually we decided to use the still images from the National Archives, images of telegrams I found on Google, and some film clips of war planes flying in formation and of typewriters being typed on. The images appeared at the beginning and then towards the end of the piece totalling about 7 minutes. The whole piece was about 75 minutes long.

A highlight of the process was going to the National Archives storage facility to scan and print the original photos. I am now an official reseacher and I have a picture ID that is good for 2 years to prove it.

Here are some fuzzy pictures of the performance with some of my images in the background. I took these during dress rehearsal.

image during performance image during performance
image during performance image during performance

And here's a fun picture from the snowfall a couple of weeks ago.

cute snow men

The Reviews Are In

There were two reviews of Dana's concert last week, one in the Washington Post and the other in a Dance magazine called Dance View Times. Both showed that the reviewers thought alot about the piece acknowledging the complexity of the piece and the beauty of the dance movement. My images were mentioned in both, which is cool. I have been asked to show some of the images so here they are. I am sorry they are so big. They will take a while to download.
ww2 couple ww2 telegram ww2 parachutes
These are the opening images that introduce the theme of love and loss and war (9.9MB). Dancers appear onstage with actual old typewriters as this sequence starts. (6.9MB) These are first and last images from the last section of the dance depicting war. (7.7MB)

So when we were growing up we had things we were identified with and that was what we got as gifts. Lenore's thing was pigs, lynda's was mushrooms, mine was owls but that somehow changed into frogs. So I still get frog-theme gifts and sometimes I buy them for myself especially cards. One morning this week I noticed, somewhat to my horror, a "gift" deposited next to my car. I have no idea how it got there. It seems to be made of plastic.

frog in garage

Spring and Cherry Blossoms

There has been some new art work up on the 3rd floor that I enjoy as I walk to my parking space. First it was tulips and then yesterday the Easter-themed art went up.
tulips on the door a bunny welcomes

Last weekend Lenore and Paula visited from Chicagoland. They saw the cherry blossoms without me because it is just too much walking for my sprained ankle. We did all go to Eastern Market together though and to the National Cathedral.

Lyla, Tracy and my parents recently took a trip to Egypt and brought me back some great gifts - beads, jewelry, a beautiful Egyptian cotton towel and a small statue of the god Horus. Here is a little movie (Quicktime 3.7MB) of Horus in action:

TV Season Update
Sons & Daughters: This new show is as quirky as Arrested Development but a bit more real. It is a totally dysfunctional extended family comedy dealing with teenage isolation, stepparents, inter-faith marriage, single-motherhood, parents dabbling in community theater, marriage problems and fun loser ex-husbands. The dialogue is sometimes improvised which I did not think I would like but it fits with the comedy. The young 3 and 4 year olds have some of the funniest lines and the characters are all great. I am sure it will be canceled soon.

More Spring Things

I went to Lorella's for Easter dinner today. She served two lamb dishes - one Italian, one more traditionally American. Both were excellent.

On the way home I stopped at the carwash near my house to clean my very dirty car. I was the last car to be washed for the day and as some of the guys were wiping down my car the others were all taking off their red carwash tshirts and changing into other shirts. That was an odd sight but then after I adjusted my seat forward and started driving down the alley about 10 of the carwash guys had jumped on their bikes and were riding down the alley with me. I felt as if I was swimming with the dolphins. Or maybe it was the white wine and Italian grappa at dinner that made the scene seem so surreal.

Here are two signs of spring - a bunny found behind the garden nursery at the National Cathedral and our algae-tinted pool which I will be swimming in one and a half months from now.

bunny in a cage ugly green pool

Some more movie/DVD reviews
13 Going On 30 and Hellboy: Two movies dealing with the supernatural and in which the heros must overcome true evil - a bunch of hellhounds and an evil russian and nazi in the case of Hellboy and a back-biting fashion magazine editor in 13 Going on 30. Both are enjoyable movies.


Hard Labor

The new Chinese Embassy is currently a huge pit surrounded by a compound that houses the multitude of Chinese workers that are doing the construction work. Joe and I walked the 3 blocks over to the pit to see the progress. Here are some pictures I took there and along the way.
intelsat singapore embassy
singapore embassy intelsat
crane chinese embasy

Highway Warning

I was driving home on the beltway last week and saw this entertaining warning on a truck. Luckily it did not say "Do Not Take Pictures".
do not tailgate sign

Some more movie/DVD reviews
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge A good Bollywood movie starring Shah Rukh Khan. It has just the right amount of melodrama and silliness and only a small amount of self-righteous gratuitous violence. Raj and Simran live in England and fall in love but Simran's father has promised her to the son of an old friend in India. When the father finds out Simran loves Raj he immediately moves the family to India to start the wedding preparations. Raj follows Simran to India and tells her that he knows they could run away together and elope but he wants to win the heart of her father and get his permission - a true challenge. The music and dancing are quite nice.

To The Limit

I have a new employer. The contract I work on (about 350 people) is up for bid every 5 years and the competition is fierce. 5 years ago I switched companies. I liked the new company but they lost it this time around. I am not so sure how I feel about the new company. Only time will tell. It is somewhat disruptive and there is always the chance that the new company has someone already to fill your position but so far that has not happened.

Joe and I took a longer than usual (for me) bike ride this morning. It was great. The weather was nice and the trails were fairly uncrowded for holiday weekend (well, holiday for some. I have to work on Monday). We rode from National Airport to Mount Vernon, through marshes, under the Wilson Bridge, through Old Town Alexandria to the RV parking lot at the home of George Washington. Here are some pics.

Some more movie/DVD reviews
Initial D This is a nice Hong Kong movie about car racing based on a Japanese comic book series. It is a story about a tofu delivery boy who gets involved with professional and street racers. It is also a story about friendship, fathers and sons and first love. There is no testosterone-fueled violence, only testosterone-fueled car racing.

Heat Wave

God, it's hot. Walking outside is like opening an oven door.

There was some sort of incident at work and we have been cut off from any system outside of the gsfc.gov domain since yesterday and it may continue through the week. It has been so hard for both work and play. Whenever I have a computer code syntax question or get some sort of error message I go to Google. I usually get my "home" email at work and that's not happening. And during the Tour de France I check the day's outcome in late afternoon. I still am not sure what happened today on the Tour's toughest mountain day ending with the legendary L'Alpe d'Huez.

We rented season 1 of Project Runway. It's a reality show like other reality shows but it seems to be more about the fashion and less about the bickering. I've been enjoying it. Season 3 has just started and it is being shown on NBC as well as cable which is great except for the commercials and the inconvenience of not being able to go on to the next episode right away.

More neighborhood pictures:

balcony pinwill little car

Mimobot

Thursday my aunt Zita treated me to a dinner at a cool-looking restaurant called Pazo. They serve tapas and other small dishes. The mushrooms and the ciabatta bread were my favorite. As I waited for Zita, her neighbor Caroline and friend Steve to arrive I had a drink at the bar.

Today Joe and I went to the National Building Museum and saw a documentary on the architect John Lautner (a student of Frank Lloyd Wright) and an exhibit on environmentally "green" homes. It made me want to live in a beautiful house made of concrete and glass in the hills overlooking Los Angeles with cork and bamboo flooring, solar panels, and recycled glass tiling throughout.

Here's what we saw on our walk from the museum to have some lunch and then to the Metro.


McGruff the Crime Dog making an appearance at the
National Policeman's Memorial


Interesting architectural styles
near Chinatown

A ceremony at the Navy Memorial

It's been a while since we've had masala dosas from the food court at the Old Post Office and they were as big and as delicous as we remembered them
A group on a segway tour of downtown
A lookout on the roof of the White House

He was probably watching these protestors.
I bought a little 1GB jump drive so I can carry data around when necessary.

OK, you're right, I bought it because it is cute but I am sure that someday soon I will find it very useful. I also could not resist the little outfit that has a clasp for easy accessorizing.

my mimobot

Thursday evening I went to my aunt Zita's house to help her install AOL broadband. It should have taken an hour or so but it ended up taking 4 hours. We had to run to Apple store to get the lastest version of Mac OS X and install it. That took about an hour and a half. The rest of the time was dealing with Verizon's crappy install software and annoying technical support. When I finally reached someone who knew Macs it was so much less annoying.

AOL tech support was fairly decent. I talked to a guy in India and he admitted he did not know Macs that well but he obviously had good step by step instructions. As we were finishing the call Zita asked me to find out his name and where he was. His name was Arun and he spelled it for me: A as in apple, R as in rock, U as in unicorn... I found the unicorn part to be quite entertaining so when he said he was in India I told him I might be visiting India at the end of the year. He invited me to come visit hime in Bangalore and told me how many kilometers and how many miles Bangalore is from Chennai (the only city I know we might visit). Anyway it all ended on a nice note and Zita can now have her email open all day without worrying about paying for every second she is online.

Happy Thanksgiving

Here's a little turkey courtesy of the little girl on the 3rd floor.
I love the shadows. Cute and creepy. She knows what I like.
Have a great Thanksgiving

What Do You Think?

So I decided to use software to write my blog, mainly to take advantage of the automatic archiving. After a short but sometimes frustrating learning curve I think I have it figured out. I will slowly add the old entries and links to the archived pages. I may play with some other themes (looks) as well.
Neighborhood Picture: Twister Board in the Trees

twisterintree   twister_close