29 March 2013

D.C. Bucket List

I'm moving in a couple of months (again).  An important task remains.

To see as much of D.C. and the surrounding area as I possibly can.

Sure, I've seen the highlights - the monuments, the Capitol, the White House, Mount Vernon, various exhibits in various Smithsonians - but it's time to cover the nooks and crannies of this history-obsessed place.  Time to be a professional tourist.  

Part of the Berlin Wall
Today we went to the Newseum, which is, incidentally, a museum of the News.  News/media/journalism, etc.  It's not a free museum and maybe not as exciting sounding as the Spy museum (which is a pretty cool museum) but it's massive, contains a huge number of interesting, engaging, and well-laid out exhibits, and it's interactive (if you want it to be).  Highlights include an exhibit on G-Men (the FBI) and the most famous criminals they've pursued, part of the Berlin Wall and a guard tower from Checkpoint Charlie, and a huge gallery of hundreds of newspapers and headlines  - the actual documents themselves, not pictures or copies - from the 1500s right up into the 21st century.  Papers from the American Revolution, the sinking of the Lusitania, WWII, the first Star-Spangled Banner (the newspaper of the US Armed Forces), 9/11, etc.  

Maybe you can tell that I find that really cool.  Of course, you can't touch them.  But you can peer at them in their little glass drawers.

The also have an exhibit about freedom of press and censorship around the world, with this map you may have seen, or seen the likes of:

Red covers countries with heavy censorship, Yellow for countries with a moderate amount of censorship, and Green for those with the most freedom of press.  Norway is said to be the country with the most free press.  If the status of press in a country changes significantly, they change the color accordingly.

Those are just some of the exhibits, off the top of my head.  If you go to D.C., try to take some time to see this museum.  It's not some collection of facts about news media history, it's an examination of how we perceive events (and how they're allowed to be perceived) and how that perception in turn shapes those events and later ones.  It's also a refreshing break from the ivory-columned galleries of Important Dead People's Stuff. (Not that I don't enjoy looking at Important Dead People's Stuff.)

Sorry about the lower quality photos than usual.  I was using R2D2.  R2D2 is my phone.  Because it's a (An)droid.*

Does it bother anyone else that R2D2 is a "droid" but he's not an android because he's not human-shaped?  Kind of like my phone, actually...

*I named it after R2 rather than C3PO because it's white with a blue case.  Also because R2 is way tougher.

27 March 2013

A home

A home is full of places for people to sit.  

It's comfortable, clean (although maybe not always tidy), and lived-in.  

It brims with function and beauty.  If something isn't useful, it's meaningful

Love rests in the corners and quiet comfort sits on the pillows.  

Stories linger in the air.  

There is always food and tea.  

Extra beds and blankets are tucked in the closets, because well, you never know who will come to stay.  

Every one who enters belongs.

21 March 2013

Get Smart: A Sophomore Perspective

A recent quest for some missing books and files led me to a wadded stack of student newspapers from my college days.  From sophomore to senior year, I wrote a regular opinion column, and I saved the newspapers to have print copies of the articles.  Yesterday I finally took the time to cut out and file away each article (though not the ones from senior year; I seem to have stopped collecting the newspapers after junior year).  This afforded me the opportunity to re-read all of my columns and come to grips with the fact that I have a past as a major smartass.

Truly, I was a smartass, and I reveled in it (and I think I would be lying if I said some smartassery didn't still linger within me).  I was sure that I had some special insight into intelligent, rational thought, and my column was my means for the enlightenment of others.  I was a fair epitome of the term "sophomore", i.e., someone who thinks they are much wiser than they actually are.  My column was actually called "Get Smart."

The day we took pictures to printed with our columns, we took "serious" and "silly" photos, and like any normal college students, picked the silly ones to print.  I was wearing aviators in mine and making a "wry" face.  My (affable and forthright) philosophy professor said to me once, "You know...you kind of look like a pothead in this picture!"

My column was fairly popular and sparked discussions in some of my classes, at least, and I don't necessarily disagree with most of what I wrote.  It's hard to articulate and back up an opinion in 400-500 words (just look at my posts here), and I favored the blunt, witty approach.  Towards the end of my time there I had already begun to change, though; my topics turned from political to philosophical & theological, I renamed my column "Truth in Fiction", and I requested to write less frequently.  Apparently from that point I didn't care to save the print copies.

I truly enjoyed writing the column, up until the end when I just got tired of everything college.  I enjoyed being a fantastic smartass.  Yet, while I wouldn't mind writing regularly for publication again, I think I'm going to (try to) leave the sophomore me in college and instead make clarity and perspective my bywords.