Friday, July 31, 2015

The Majesty of our Nation's Capital

As mentioned earlier, Angie and I went to Washington D.C. so that he should advocate for disability rights.  I was mostly just along for the ride.

Luckily, due to flight schedules we got in a day early and had some time to check out some of the sights.  So of course we head towards the White House and the National Mall area to check out the monuments.  I am not a huge fan of pictures.  I try to live more in the moment and build memories than build a library of pictures that I won't really look at I just cannot smile naturally in pictures, I tend to look more like a socially awkward alien trying to fit into my human skin shell (which is totally not the case).  

But since I was there I thought I would grab a few snapshots with my phone of the various locations of interest for when people ask (even though you can google much BETTER images than I would even be able to take).  

Here I present, my tour of photo tour Washington DC*.

The White House

First we start with the White House.  It was a little strange turning the corner and bam! there is the White House.  It was closer to the street and had other buildings closer to it than I would have guessed.  It would be strange working in a building directly across a road from the White House.  On TV and movies, it always seems to be set apart from the rest of the city...but nope, it is right there in the center.  It was a lot more accessible than I would have thought.  Yes, there are fences and security and such, but it really makes it clear why people get upset when there is even the smallest security breach...because it is right there (and the sniper with the 50 cal on the roof!).  It was a little surreal to see people playing roller hockey on the pedestrian street part of Pennsylvania Avenue - "Hey Randal, where do you want to play hockey today?"  "I don't know, the White House?"

The Washington Monument

The Washington Monument was up next.  It was neat, but just an obelisk, so what is there to say really?  It looked nice with all the repairs done and the scaffolding removed.  I am grateful that the whole forced perspective thing hasn't caught on with this like is has with the Leaning Tower of Pisa...I think seeing all the people taking photos where they are acting like they are holding up the tower would make me irrationally angry.  Luckily, I did see a bunch of kids pretending that the Washington Monument is their penis.

The Washington Monument - angle 2

The last picture had more obstructions than I would have liked.  From this angle, I was able to get a nice clean shot of the Washington Monument.  Admittedly, seeing it by itself without the trees, light poles, people, did seem pretty impressive as the sun reflected off the white stone.  I was trying to get a cool lens flare with this shot.

WWII Memorial - Iowa Pillar

The World War II Memorial was very interesting.  Here is Iowa's pillar.  Angie was looking forward to this shot...evidently it is one that she has wanted (and wasn't able to get on her previous trips).

WWII Memorial - My God It's Full of Stars

This is a shot of the over 4,000 stars on the memorial.  Each star commemorating 100 Americans who gave their lives in WWII.  It is a lot of stars, your mind can't even comprehend the number of people who died...and this was just the American military personnel.  And this number pales in comparison to many other countries' civilian and military deaths.  It is really inconceivable.  I felt very reflective on the times and their sacrifice.

The Vietnam Memorial is very powerful.

The Vietnam Memorial also produces a very somber feeling.  Although the number of dead is something 15% the total American lives as World War II, it is very powerful to see all the names etched into black granite.  Since I was looking at actual names (instead of a gold star representing 100 people...which my struggles to translate into a real number), it really did drive home the waste of war (at least for me).

The Lincoln Memorial

Finally we arrived at the Lincoln Memorial and I was able to get into some shade to see my screen...yep, I have like 200 pictures of my head and hands.  Dang it...Oh well, I can always find images on the internet.  We (well, probably I mostly), had a good laugh about it atop the Lincoln Memorial.  It is too bad that as I was seeing Lincoln all I could think about was Robo-Lincoln from the Revenge From Mars pinball machine.  I totally wanted to see Lincoln stand up and kick some Martian ass.

After this, I did get a few "normal" pictures...looking down the National Mall, an actual shot of the Washington Monument, the Supreme Court, the Capitol building...but now those seem kind of boring compared to the story of accidentally taking pictures of my face all day.
National Mall - with clouds rolling in.

I did capture this disturbing image while walking around the city.

Shakespeare's Nipples

What is up with this costume?  I can't believe that is in anyway historically accurate and really did not entice me to go see a production (or did it?).  I can appreciate nipple framing clothing, but it was a little odd on 15 foot banners.  Seriously, this outfit just seems impractical....but now I kind of want one - I mean my awesome hipster t-shirt design could show through while my arms remain warm! know...I could show off my nipples.

*It was a bright day.  I couldn't see my screen (I like to keep the brightness low to preserve battery life and just be more low-key). Evidently, the reverse-view camera was on instead of the normal camera.  Hilarity ensues when I finally look at the pictures.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Roll on Capitol Hill

Last month, I was privileged to accompany Angie to Washington DC for the 2015 Roll on Capitol Hill event.  This would be my first trip to DC and also my first trip flying with Angie...hooray adventure time!  The pictures turned out poorly*

Angie, Jamie, and Jenn rolling on Capitol Hill

Roll on Capitol Hill is an event sponsored by the United Spinal Association allowing people with spinal cord injuries or disabilities to meet with their governmental representatives and advocate for disability rights and disability-helpful legislation.  I found the experience very interesting.  We were able to meet with Iowa Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley.  Both of whom, I liked more than I thought I would.  I am sure some of that is "being a politician" and being able to tell people what they want to hear, but I don't know that all of it was...I think there was some sincere interest, concern, and understanding.  It kills me to say that Joni Ernst actually seemed like a good person, so I discarded all my pig testicle and bread sack jokes un-muttered.  Understanding and sincerity does not guarantee support; but hopefully it will leave the legislatures with some positive impressions and influence future support.  We met with the staffers of other legislators who were not able to meet in person and dropped off some information for others whom we could not set up meetings.  So hopefully a productive trip.

The Senate & House office buildings are very similar many normal office buildings with a few exceptions.  Not surprisingly, there is the security...mainly you have to go through a metal detector and have your belongings x-rayed.  If you've ever flown or had to go to your local courthouse, you get the idea.  I was a little surprised at how easy it actually was.  Even though if you were going from building to building and back for meetings; it was a little tiring.  The other thing that stood out was that every office door was flanked by flags.  Lest anyone doubt their patriotism everyone had a United States flag and usually their State flag on the other.  However, some offices had more flags - flags for an armed service branch they may have served in, the POW/MIA flag, flags for various other local organizations that they Senators & Representatives supported...but as we walked from appointment to appointment, I only saw one Gadsden flag being flown (the "Don't Tread On Me" flag).  Thank you Steve King for living up to my preconceived notions (at least partially)...stay classy.   Steve's staff was nice and he did already support one of he bills we were advocating I guess that counteracts some of my preconceived notions.

*more on that later