Tag Archives: museums

The Museum of American History

We had a lazy Saturday morning and finally got our act together and headed out for a while.  We took the metro downtown to Archives and then walked to the newly remodeled Museum of American History, where we spent a couple of hours wandering around the exhibits.  It is a remodel of the museum, and there isn’t a whole lot that’s new, but it is one of my favorite museums and I had a good time looking through some of the familiar exhibits in their newly remodeled environment.  (There’s that giant doll house, for instance, which I like for the sheer recursiveness of it:  inside one of the bedrooms is a toy doll house!)  The one thing I miss from the museum (and it was gone long before the remodeling) is the old Civil Engineering exhibit, with diaramas of bridges and tunnels.  That was so cool.  I wonder what happened to it?  It was replaced by America on the Move, which is nice, but I liked the bridges and tunnels better.

On our way home we stopped at the grocery store to do some shopping.  The rest of the evening was spent quietly at home.  It was pretty cold today and it was nice to have a full belly and a warm fireplace to relax next to.

Saturday evening I went to the gym.  First, I went with Kelly, early (6 PM-ish) thinking it wouldn’t be crowded, but it was and my elliptical machines were occupied.  I went back later, around 8 PM and it was much less crowded.  I got in a 45 minute cardio workout.  I’ve been watching episodes of Battlestar Galactica while I do these cardio workouts because they make the time seem to pass by faster.  I watch them on my iPhone.  About 30 minutes into the workout, the phone rang, and so I spoke to strausmouse  while I continued to workout.  I was pleased with the workout because it meant that I got in all three full cardio workouts this week.

Got through some more of The Best of the Best this evening.  Kelly read through the February issue of PARENTING magazine (and thanks again to he11o_sunshine  and stubiebrother  for that!)

A busy Saturday

I went to bed early last night and I was up early this morning. I took Dad over to Starbucks so he could get some coffee, then we came back home and I had breakfast. Around 9 AM, we headed out, first to fill up the car with gas, then to Home Depot to look for some springs and window locks. Finally, we set out for Annapolis.

It was humid today, and even by the water in Annapolis, though the skies were clear, it was muggy. We walked down Main Street and then cut over to the Naval Academy. Dad hadn’t been through the new visitor entrance. We went through and headed to the gift store, where he got a new Naval Academy baseball cap. We walked around the campus grounds for a while and then headed back to the car.

Next, we set out for Arlington. It took us about an hour to get there, but I drove to where our new house is and showed Dad the area. From there, we headed over to Pentagon City where I parked, called Kelly, found out they were heading to the Spy Museum, and we caught a train to meet them there sometime around 2 PM.

The International Spy Museum was kind of interesting. It wasn’t like your Smithsonian. For one thing, it cost $18/person to get in. For another, they had it set up kind of like an interactive game, which I wasn’t fond of. Finally, I found that I simply didn’t trust everything I read there in the same manner I would from a more established museum like Smithsonian or the American Museum of Natural History. Still, it was fun to wander around the place. Kelly was there, as was her brother and nephew and her brother’s friend.

While we were at the Spy Museum, the skies opened up and the rain came down in sheets, with accompanying thunder and lightening. We all managed to make it to the restaurant across the street for a late lunch/early dinner. By the time the meal was over and we were all full, the rain stopped and we walked over the National Air and Space Museum. Dad and I stayed there for a little while before finally catching a metro back to Pentagon City and then driving home.

It was a fun day, busy, too. Tomorrow will be much of the same, minus the rain. We’ve got the Orioles/Red Sox game in the early afternoon, and then I’ve got a barbecue in the evening.

Burgers, beers and soups

Dad is in town this weekend. He got here late yesterday afternoon, and then got to spend the evening with me at the animal hospital in Annapolis. We went back there this morning to collect Zeke, who, by the way, is supposed to be drinking more water, and is not only drinking more, but is now playing in it!

Once Zeke was home (and I was relieved), we decided to get out of the house for a while. First, we headed to Silver Spring for lunch at Five Guys. I’d never been there before, but wanted to go, since people have said that Five Guys is a lot like In-n-Out. I have to beg to differ. The burger was good, I’ll grant that, but it was no In-n-Out burger. For one thing, the buns were different. For another, there was no thousand island dressing or whatever it is they put in their Double-Doubles. And the meat wasn’t seasoned the same way. And forget the fries! Although Five Guys creatively posts the type of potatoes being used that day for their fries, they were no where near as good as In-n-Out. Don’t get me wrong, the food was good. It just doesn’t compare to In-n-Out in my opinion.

Later in the afternoon, we headed downtown to walk around for a bit. The weather cooled off today so it was only in the upper 80s, which was a pleasant change. We walked to the National Air and Space Museum and browsed around there for half an hour or so, and then continued walking around until we ended up at Austin Grill, where we had some beer and where I had chips and guacamole.

After that we headed home and relaxed for a while. Zeke got into a playful mood and I was overjoyed to see him happy and not uncomfortable. We played for a while and then both Zeke and I dozed off (with his chin on my arm) for a little while.

We went to Franklin’s for dinner. I wasn’t hungry, but Dad wanted the crab cakes. We also got some of their special microbrews, which were pretty good. I found an outstanding Cheddar Beer Soup on the menu. I think it was new because I don’t remember seeing it before. It was delicious! When we got home, we watched about half of Road to Bali and by then I was pretty tired so I decided to head off to bed, read for a while, and then head off to sleep.

I got a very nice thank you note from vickyandnorm in the mail today (thanking me for their wedding gifts). There’s a very cute picture of Vicky and Norm and two of their friends on the front of the thank you card–but, alas, it is not the picture that I suggested they use. I suspect they were too self-conscious to use that one.

The British Museum

It was supposed to rain today so I decided to spend my time indoors, and what better place to go than the world-famous British Museum, which has been around since the 18th century. It wasn’t raining when I headed out this morning, but it was overcast, with dark clouds. Nevertheless, I decided to walk to the museum because (a) I like walking, and (b) there was a strike on the subway line that takes you there from my hotel and this way I could avoid the crowds. It took about 40 minutes to walk there and I got there right about opening time.

It’s a massive museum, not as large as the Metropolitan Museum of Art of the American Museum of Natural History, I think, but still quite big, and then central hall they have is very impressive. There were certain things that I wanted to see: stuff from the Assyrian empire, Egyptian empire, to say nothing of all of the headstones and pieces they have from the Parthenon in Athens. It was really cool to be able to see all of these things up close.

One interesting thing about the museum is that many of the objects are placed right there where you can easily touch them. There are signs all over saying not to touch them, but you could if you wanted to and much to my dismay, many people completely ignored the signs right in front of them and touched the various artifacts, some of which were nearly 3,000 years old.

In fact, I have to say that I was rather disappointed with the majority of the visitors to this museum (most of whom must be visitors to this country, like myself). Adults and children alike seemed more interested in photographing themselves and their friends and family in front of each and every one of the objects, without any regard for what they were photographing. Rarely did I see people reading the display cards in front of the items (perhaps they all have some innate knowledge for what they were looking at that I lack). To most of the people surrounding me, getting their picture taken standing in front of a 2,700 year old Assyrian statue was just like getting your picture taken with Ronald McDonald. When I stood before these objects, however, I could feel their age. These were marvels of their time, so much so that we collect and preserve them today. Would the people who slaved away creating these carvings and statues have ever thought that their labor would have outlasted them literally thousands of years?

You can take pictures inside the museum, but they are for personal use only and they ask that they not be posted online. I only took a handful of pictures, which I can share with friends who are interested, via email. One object I did photograph was the first object I saw when the doors into the west wing finally opened: the Rosetta Stone. People crowded around it snapping thousands of photographs, but how many people knew what they were looking at, and how many were told that simply must see the Rosetta Stone without even knowing what it was. It was smaller than I had pictured it in my mind, but it was no less impressive.

Perhaps I’m just too sentimental over artifacts of history. I’ve read so much history that I have a sweeping sense of the continuity of it all, how we today who drive our BMW’s and watch our Sony HD TV’s, are linked to those men and women who, thousands of years ago, built the pillars of temples, carved their folklore in stone and told us what their lives were like. I wonder if there was someone back in those days, who walked among the relics of their ancients, and wondered at the marvels of their ancestors and the general lack of appreciation of their contributions to culture.

On the shoulders of giants

Today I visited Westminster Abbey. I walked there from the hotel, crossing the Green Park, passing by Buckingham Palace, and along St. James Park until I reached the Abbey. Those of you that have seen it know that you can’t miss it. You are not allowed to take pictures inside, but I did take some pictures from outside.

On the shoulders of giants

Errands and meetups

Today turned out to be busier than I expected. I was up at 8:00 AM and headed to IHOP for breakfast. I stopped to get some food for Zeke and then ran a number of other errands. I paid a few bills, mailed a out a copy of my new lease to my landlord, and compiled and sent my travel itinerary info to Norm and Vicky so that someone on the East Coast knows where I will be when I am away next month. I also picked up some new shorts and a hat from Old Navy.

Kent mentioned that they were going to be at Smithsonian today, but I didn’t have his phone number. Working through Pam, however, I managed to get it and found out they were at the Air & Space museum. I headed down there and met them in the cafeteria and spent a couple of hours with then as they roamed through a few exhibits that they hadn’t already seen, and then walked to the Washington Monument.

Afterward, I headed over to Austin Grill to meet up with A.J. and we spent perhaps 2 hours eating and catching up. It was good to see him.

In the evening, I went for a walk and did the loop twice instead of once because it was so nice out.

I got a copy of a letter from Barry to a the tree-trimming people letting them know what he wanted done in the yard. I don’t know when they will be coming, but I’m looking forward to it because they bamboo is really getting overgrown and I haven’t had the time to keep up with it.

The heat is on

I got into the office this morning and the place is like an oven. Yesterday the inside temperature was perfect. Today, it’s boiling. I’m not sure why.

It rained most of the night and was still raining when I got up this morning. I took a taxi to the Metro station because you can’t leave your car there overnight and I have a 3 PM train to New York City, where I’ll be spending the long weekend (I have Columbus Day off). I’m lugging my good umbrella with me today, which is something I rarely do, but I’m supposed to meet jen_ashlock and Jason at the Whitney when I arrive in NYC and that may involve a little walking in the rain. There are some Picasso’s on display at the Whitney and Friday nights is “pay what you can” night.

An afternoon with AJ

I headed downtown around 1 PM and was out on the Mall by 1:30 PM. It was warmer than I expected out and I had worn jeans instead of shorts, but I survived. I found a bench and sat for an hour reading more of A Canticle for Leibowitz, which I expect to finish tonight or early tomorrow. At 2:30, I headed to the museum to meet AJ.

I met AJ at the Museum of American History, after some confusion about exactly where we were going to meet. By the time we found each other, we were both pretty hungry so we left the museum and headed to Old Ebbitt Grill, which I had heard about but had never managed to get to in the four years that I have been here. It was a cool place, an old style elegance, and the food was good too.

After lunch (which was AJ’s treat), we headed back to the museum to lurk around until closing. In a kind of stark contrast at one point, AJ and I stood in front of a display showcasing Washington, D.C. in 1900, while talking about the benefits of LCD vs. plasma flat panel televisions. We also spent time in front of a huge map of New York city in the 1920s with AJ asking all kinds of questions about the city, and me providing the answers

AJ: Where does the name “the Bronx” come from?

Me: From Jonas Bronck, who has a farm up in that part of the region back when New York City was still a Dutch colony. People would go and visit, “the Broncks”, which evolved into the Bronx.

AJ: Why do they call New York City “Gotham”?

Me: Gotham is derived from a Dutch word meaning “Goat Town”

Before we knew it, the museum was closing. It’s doors will now be closed until the summer of 2008, which seems like a long way off, but with the speed with which time seems to pass, it also right around the corner.

We walked into Georgetown and headed for Haagen Daas, where AJ obtained for us Belgian chocolate shakes (again, his treat!) and where we sat for quite some time talking about all manner of things. It wasn’t until 9 PM that we left and made our way back to Foggy Bottom so that I could catch a train home.

I was back home at 10 PM.

Museum of American History

I am heading over to the Museum of American History this afternoon to meet AJ and Dennise there for one last look before the museum closes for renovations for two years. This was my favorite of all of the Smithsonian museums (even more so than the Air and Space museum). However, I have now been to the museum so many times in the 4+ years I haved lived in the Metro D.C. area that I’ve grown tired of it. I’m going today more to hang out with AJ and Denisse than anything else, although I am sure I will miss it once it’s closed.

The museum is set to close on September 5 and is currently scheduled to re-open in the summer of 2008.

A near perfect weather day

Sunday turned out to be a nearly perfect weather day in NYC. It was overcast for much of the day, but the humidity was gone and the high temperature did not make it out of the 70s, so that the air had a pleasant coolness to it.

We started our day at a nearby breakfast place, where Jason tried the Irish breakfast, which we later found out contained, among other things, pigs blood. (I went for the Lumberjack, which had eggs, potatoes, bacon, ham, sausage, and three really well-done [in the coooking-sense] pancakes. I also had freshly squeezed apple juice, which is quite a bit different from what you get in the store.)

After breakfast, we walked over to Central Park and took a leisurely walk around the reservoir. The weather was perfect and the walk was great! It was just what I needed after 2 days of having a cold. (I felt much better this morning.) I took a couple of pictures while at the reservoir and will post them as soon as I get home. They show a pleasant contrast between the city and the park.

We spent the early part of the afternoon lazing around, and finally, at about 3 PM, we headed over to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to meet my Aunt Judy and Uncle Joey, and a friend of theirs. We spent about an hour at the Met, and the most interesting things I saw were some Egyptian artifacts that I recall from my recent reading of the Egyptian civilization in Our Oriental Heritage. After the museum, we moseyed on over to 3rd Avenue where we found bar, sat outside, and listened to Aunt Judy tell us stories about Dad growing up.

For dinner, Jen, Jason and I went to Jackson Hole, around the corner from them on 2nd Avenue. I got the traditional grilled cheese, fries and chocolate shake. For dessert, I got a banana split. Yes, I was feeling much, much better. While, there, we entertained ourselves by picking out the most embarassing songs on the jukebox at our table and playing them for the entire restaurant to hear. (“Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary, etc.)

All-in-all, I think we had a really nice day.

Top of the Rock

Today was an event-filled day in The Big Apple.

It started out with breakfast at Lite-Bites, where I demonstrated to Jen and Jason that I am, in fact, eating more than I used to by cleaning my plate of omelettes, potatoes, toast and fruit. Afterward, we headed into the city to visit the Museum of the City of New York to which none of us had ever been before.

They had some very interesting exhibits, in particular, one called “The Mythic City”, a series of photographs of New York City, taken by Samuel H. Gottscho between 1925-1940. There was also an exhibit on Mayor Ed Koch which was interesting. All-in-all, we spent about two hours at the museum.

Naturally, we worked ourselves up a thirst, and a bit of an appetite too, so we headed down to the south end of the park, and into Mickey Mantle’s. We ordered wings and chips and had some beer (I tried Amstel Light, but still prefer Corona). I also had a frozen Maragarita while there. Jason and I hung out there for quite a while, but Jen had to leave in order to meet her friend and business partner for a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Buttercream Card Company. We decided to meet for dinner at 8:30 PM at The Spotted Pig–one of the best restaurants in the city, and one of the few places we’d eaten once before.

Jason and I had some time to kill, so I suggested visiting the Top of the Rock–the observations deck at the top of Rockerfeller Center, which have just recently reopened to the public. I’d never been up there before, and neither had Jason, so we braved the cold and headed over there. There were virtually no lines, and after paying the fee, we headed up 67 floors to a spectacularly clear view of the city at night. You can actually to all the way up to the 70th floor, which is the roof of the building (the top of the rock) and the views were quite amazing. We looked into Queens, trying to locate where Jen and Jason lived, and then called Jen to tell her that we could “see” here from all the way up there.

By the time we’d finished our arial tour of the nighttime city, we decided we were ready for another drink and headed south on Fifth avenue to T.G.I. Friday’s where we sat at the bar and Jason nursed a beer while I nursed a Maragarita the size of small fishbowl.

We then headed down to the Spotted Pig to put in our names (they don’t take reseravations) and wait for Jen. When we got there, the place was bursting at the seams. It’s a small place to begin with, but you could hardly move inside. The wait was 90 minutes, which wasn’t too bad for NY, but even the bar upstairs was packed solid, so when Jen arrived, we consulted and decided that since it was already abotu 9 PM, we might divert to another restauarant in the area. We chose Markt, a Belgian food place with medicore food and service. I did try a beer that I liked there, and the dark chocolate mousse for dessert was excellent, it was not the Spotted Pig.

By the time we left the restaurant, it was about 11 PM and so we caught a taxi back home. The first thing our taxi driver (who was talking on the phone) did, was to start to turn down a one-way street. Still, somehow, we managed to get home in one piece.

We’re all exhausted, but it was a fun day. I head home tomorrow.

No pushups tonight–I am too wiped out.