Friday, September 30, 2011

A visit to USAID to talk BHL

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The great Vegas water bottle experiment, circa 1970, for Lisa's birthday

Water coolerBack in 1970, I was living in Las Vegas. It was, I imagine, much different than it is today. As a third grader, it really wasn't too much different, probably, than anywhere else in America (or at least for me, having grown up in Lake Tahoe, San Jose and psychologically in between the two.

So, to your left, you see a water cooler. Why, you may ask, is there a water cooler in a post about Vegas? Well, for one thing, we had a water cooler in the apartment we lived in. Very convenient things, water coolers.

But first, more background. My mother and I moved to Vegas in the middle of the school year (which started in San Jose). Also there were my sister and her family, including my niece, just two years younger (happy birthday Lisa!). In those good old simple days, we often were left alone.

Which brings me to the water cooler. Being curious, one evening we had the brilliant idea (wonder which one of us thought of it?) to see exactly how many dixie cups of water were contained in one of the big glass bottles (the bottles, in ye olden days were glass, didn't have the fancy handle or protected spout, no those were days when life was bigger and harder!).

One by one we filled the little paper cups and arranged them around the room. Cup after cup after cup. How many were there? Uh, not sure. Not sure, in fact, if we ever finished. Because at some point, we realized that someone might just wonder where all the water went.

So we abandoned the project and started refilling the bottle. Cup by cup. But there was spillage. And so we had to use some tap water to supplement the cups. Yikes. And what about the cups? Try and dry them and restack them.

Mission accomplished, but still, the mystery of how many cups in a bottle remained ... but, I think, we got away with this one!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jefferson Falls mini golf, new turf going in

Had to play the first nine twice as vack nine not complete.  New turf much slower, poor score of 48.

Another one of those 500,000 ways of being a mushroom

Official emails, 9/11 and the days after

Emails from 9/11 and the days after.

11 September 2001
9:29 am: SIL Director to staff
I just learned that one, maybe two, airplanes have crashed in Manhattan, one on one of the World Trade Towers. New York is shut down.  Probably all the phone lines are tied up.  So if you have business with the Cooper-Hewitt today, it may not be possible to get through.

10:09 am: All staff email
Smithsonian museums will have a delayed opening until 12:00 noon today 9/11/2001.

10:44 am: SIL Director to staff
OPM has sent an announcement releasing all federal employees.  The Metro is closed, bridges to Virginia are blocked.  We're all in the same boat and I wish us all luck in getting home safely.

11:12 am: All staff email
Secretary Lawrence Small has announced that the Smithsonian is closed.
All employees may leave immediately. However, employees who wish to remain in the buildings may do so. Please listen to news reports for information about the situation tomorrow.

12 September 2001
9:01 am: SIL Director to staff
I hope you all got home safely yesterday without too much difficulty.

We are all sobered by this tremendous tragedy.  Supervisors, please touch base with all of your staff to make sure things are OK.  Let me know via email or phone if there is anyone on the SIL staff who has been personally affected by losing a loved one or friend either here or in New York.

1:59 pm: All staff email
I join with each of you in sharing our deepest sorrow in this moment of national sadness.  I also wish to express my appreciation to each of you for your efforts and dedication to the Smithsonian during this difficult time.  It is important for our nation to be able to view its historic collections and use our scholarship as reminders of America's resolve and citizenship in times of great adversity.

In keeping with the President's pledge to the American people, the museums, research centers, and facilities of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. are open.  All Smithsonian museums, galleries, and the National Zoo opened to the public as usual at 10:00 a.m. today and will remain open until 5:30 p.m.

In accordance with the closing of the Borough of Manhattan below 14th Street, the National Museum of the American Indian's George Gustav Heye Center, located in the U.S. Custom House in lower Manhattan, will remain closed until further notice.  The Smithsonian's other facilities in New York City, including the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and the Archives of American Art, will also be closed today but expect to return to normal hours tomorrow.

14 September 2001
10:45 am: All staff email
President George W. Bush has proclaimed Friday, Sept.14th a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of the Terrorist Attacks. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the victims of this national tragedy.

As an institution with thousands of employees and volunteers, and with facilities in many states and many parts of the globe, it is impossible for us all to assemble in the same place.  Yet, we can all join in the same moment of mourning for those lost and gratitude for the countless acts of courage by so many.  Accordingly, at noon (EST) today, Friday, Sept.14th, we ask that all employees stop business as usual for an appropriate period of time to silently reflect on the events of this week.

We are thankful that virtually all Smithsonian employees, including our colleagues in New York at Cooper-Hewitt, the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Magazine and the George Gustav Heye Center, have been contacted and are safe and unharmed.  But because of problems with telecommunications in New York City, several employees have not yet been reached.  Efforts continue to do that.  Please keep our co-workers in your thoughts as they may well have family and friends affected by the tragedy.

We have decided to cancel the Board of Regents' dinner, scheduled for this Sunday in Washington, D.C., and have donated the food purchased for the event to the Red Cross. They will give it to support teams working at the Pentagon site.  Additionally, the flowers purchased for the Regents' dinner will go to the Red Cross and will be placed on the platform at the memorial service at Red Cross headquarters tomorrow.

We have placed books at museum information desks so visitors can record their thoughts on these trying times.  We will keep these reflections because they are part of our history.

Throughout the Smithsonian's history, we have, and will continue to perform, an invaluable service for the American people. Stewardship of the treasured objects and stories of the struggle for democracy is a responsibility we accept at the Smithsonian with a sense of enormous seriousness, even awe.  At times like the present, we recognize howjustified that sense of commitment is.   Thanks to your dedication, the
doors of the Smithsonian remain open to the American people so they can explore our past struggles and successes.  The treasured icons of our past remind us of the values we hold dear-and give us hope for the future.  Thank you for your service to the Smithsonian and the country.

21 September 2001
7:42 am: All staff email
In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Office of Protection Services (OPS) has instituted several new security measures at all museums and buildings.  These new measures include increased security sweeps in facilities by K-9 Officers.  Security Officers are now conducting bag/purse/parcel checks at all staff and visitor entrances.  OPS has initiated twenty-four hour exterior patrols on all Smithsonian property on the National Mall and increased the number of Officers at perimeter doors.  These new security measures have also been initiated at the Smithsonian New York museums and facilities.

In addition, OPS has elevated security measures at all Smithsonian loading docks and parking garages/lots to include requiring car occupants to present a Smithsonian ID, checking for unauthorized vehicles, and conducting random vehicle searches with the assistance of K-9 Officers.

These security measures will continue indefinitely.  OPS requests that all Smithsonian employees display their Smithsonian ID while in non-public areas of Smithsonian buildings.  Any employee who notices suspicious persons or packages on Smithsonian property should contact the security unit in that facility.  OPS appreciates your cooperation during this period.

Views from the World Trade Center, 1980

1980.11_NYC_10013It's now ten years after the World Trade Center towers were taken down by terrorists.

I had been to the WTC a few times (taking the PATH train in from New Jersey. During this visit in the Fall of 1980, I took a number of pictures (with just a little 110 instamatic) from the observation deck, a view that will never be the exact same again.

More of the photos are available in the slide show below.

Looking back at 9/11, emails from the days after

Message sent to friends, the day after 9/11

12 September 2001
10:32 am
Well, sure glad I'm not in NYC.

We were we could leave at 10 ... at 11 they said GET OUT.

Ironically, I was on the phone with our library in NYC after the second plane hit the WTC and was telling him what was going on (since they're way up at 90th street and hadn't heard anything at like 9:30).

Some of us who live in Virginia all walked over the Roosevelt Bridge into Arlington and then we camped out at my place (Mary and the baby were still home) til they could get rides out to further Virginia.

It was pretty surreal seeing all downtown gridlocked and hordes of people streaming across the bridges (all with the site of the Pentagon with huge smoke clouds over it and fighter planes flying overhead).

We live in the flight path of National Airport so there's always airplane noise, but not yesterday, it was really eeeeeerie! It was so quiet and then there would be a military helicopter or fighter planes go over and you'd just jump! A friend who lives downtown in the White House no fly zone said she was up all night cause of military planes patrolling that corridor.

Came in today and thing were smooth, but there are lots of military around, guards at all Natural History entrances have machine guns today and they are searching everyone coming in the building. (outside the Justice Dept - across the street - there was a huge line of staff in line getting searched before going in).

So, basically, we're all safe and sound.


Message sent to friends, 9/14/2001

Things were pretty scary on Tuesday. We evacuated the Natural Hist. bld. around 10:30. Suz walked up to Eric's office and picked up some other people and they drove home.

I and some coworkers didn't trust the subway and walked across a Potomac bridge to my place where we camped out til the traffic died down and they could get picked up to go home.

It was very surreal watching the Pentagon burning while walking across the bridge. Even more eerie is that there are no planes flying. Our place is in the flight path of National Airport so we get constant airplane noise. Not a peep since Tuesday. EXCEPT for the jet fighters and military heliocopters that go over (which is even more scary in a way).

My downstairs neighbor is in the FBI and talking to his wife yesterday, she said he'd not been home but for about 7 hours since Tuesday. Work on Wednesday was fine, but there are armed guards and military at the museum entrances and on the street corners. Yesterday there were lots of motorcades up and down Const. Ave. (the President went back and forth a number of times).

Yes, very strange and we're waiting to see what happens next.

Hope all's well with you and yours.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Flags across Rosslyn, 9/11 commemoration

Each year, in the days leading up to the anniversary of 9/11, the Rosslyn Business District sponsors "Flags Across Rosslyn" here are a few photos of the flags up as of 9/10, walking from the Rosslyn Metro to Courthouse. The number, and size, had been waning in the previous few years, but they are out in full force for the 10th anniversary. 










Sunday, September 04, 2011

Labor Day weekend gin and tonic

G n T by martin_kalfatovic
G n T, a photo by martin_kalfatovic on Flickr.
Labor Day weekend gin and tonic

- 2 oz Hendrick's Gin
- dash of grapefruit bitters
- squeeze of lime wedge
- dusting of quinine powder
- top off with Q tonic (available at Whole Foods - purified water, organic agave, natural bitters, handpicked quinine, lemon juice extract)

Every since Doug Holland said he made his own tonic, I've been on the search for the better tonic. First off, make sure it has natural sugar and not high fructose corn syrup (you can find this at Whole Foods). Today, I say Q tonic there. Much lighter in taste (the agave) with extra hints of bitterness.

For this drink, I upped the bitter with Fee Brother's grapefruit bitters and added to the medicinal goodness with an extra dash of quinine.

East Potomac Park mini golf

35 in, 26 out, 61. Seven over par

Rosalyn, Va., flags up for 9/11 anniversary