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a fine October day

October 22, 2011

Spouse and I spent yesterday in Washington DC. We lucked out with great weather – clear, sunny, and mild, with interesting cloud formations all day. As usual, I took lots of photographs.

Our first visit to the Newseum: lots of thought-provoking exhibits, and great food in the café. It was a little jarring to see one exhibit praising the FBI to the skies, with only a tiny display in a forgotten corner mentioning how J. Edgar Hoover, first director of the FBI, and the agency under his leadership targeted people who hadn’t done anything wrong or illegal, but whose politics Hoover objected to, or he just disliked personally [John Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King]. All the coverage I’ve been seeing of Moammar Gadhafi’s death suggests that all right-thinking people should be rejoicing at the end of his regime because it’s wrong to have wield so much power over people’s lives. I don’t argue with that. But Hoover shouldn’t have had that kind of power over the lives of Americans either.

We saw an exhibit of Harry Callahan’s photographs at the National Gallery of Art, one of our favorite DC destinations.

I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen that one of the things I love best about living in the greater Washington DC region is its complexity — you have to be a pretty smart organism to adapt and thrive in this environment. I read somewhere recently that ‘wild’ animals that live in urban areas are evolving separately from their ‘country’ cousins [raccoons and crows were specifically mentioned]. I would guess part of that is that cities are much richer, more complicated social environments — beyond your usual predators and prey, you have to learn how to live with human beings, cars, and everything else in a big city. A perfect illustration is that Friday, Spouse saw traffic stop for a crosswalk, and a squirrel bounded across it! I thought zie was teasing me, but I got up to look, and sure enough, a squirrel crossed back over, within the painted white lines. I bet squirrels in Washington DC are smarter about living more or less cooperatively with other species than squirrels in more rural areas.

Then we met up with my brother, his wife, and his two daughters, whom we hadn’t seen for four years. They had just come from the Spy Museum, which they raved about. We haven’t been there, but now I’m intrigued.

The six of us toured the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Unfortunately, after I told everyone how spectacular Mrs. Obama’s inaugural gown was, we were not able to see it, nor any of the most-recent gowns. That gallery closed on October 10th, and the gallery with the older gowns (which we did see) will be closing on October 31st. A renovated gallery with an all-new display of the gowns will open on November 19th.

We had a lovely and lively dinner at Carmine’s, and dessert at Pitango’s, before heading our separate ways on the Metro.

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