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Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

Anybody else out there excited about baseball? Bart and I were both baseball fans growing up, and when we got married and lived in Denver near our first local major league team, we decided it would be fun to renew our interest in the sport since we had a franchise so close. The Colorado Rockies weren’t all that great, except for their amazing late season run to the World Series in 2007, but it was still really fun to keep up with the players, listen to games on TV or the radio, and go to games. Naturally, when we moved to the east coast, we had to decide where to place our allegiance, and while we still generally wish the Rockies well from afar, we have chosen to “root, root, root for the home team,” the Washington Nationals. And so far in 2014, that is going pretty well for us.

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It’s been ten months since we moved into our house, and we are very close to having experienced a full cycle of seasons at our home. I think it’s fascinating to see the yard progress through the year for the first time; each season is a surprise of blooming plants, changing leaves, and curious wildlife. It isn’t fall yet, but summer is winding down and hints of an upcoming new season are upon us.
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After a long weekend out of town over Thanksgiving, I made a quick turn around at home, then boarded a plane this morning to cross the entire country, from one coast to the other. I’ll be attending a conference for a few days in the Seattle area; I’m giving a talk and also serving as a session chair, something I’ve never done before. It should be a good experience.

You may recall that Bart and I are tracking the states we’ve been in together since we’ve been married. I also have a running tally of states I’ve been to myself. Before today, I had never been to Washington, so I’m also excited to check this off my list. I still have three to go before I’ve hit all 50 states. Oddly enough, they never have conferences in North Dakota, so it might be a while before I catch them all.

I’ve already seen the Space Needle from the airplane and possibly Mount Rainier in the distance. And forget Jingle Bells–I heard Alice in Chains playing in the airport. I’ve seen plenty of Starbucks. I have, however, seen neither a sparkly vampire nor rain (maybe those two are correlated?), but I did only just get here today.

I won’t get much of an opportunity to sightsee since I’ll be mostly conference bound, but I had most of the day today to explore a little around the hotel. My initial impression of Seattle is “Colorado with water.” Lots of evergreens, snow capped mountains, people with North Face jackets. There’s also the outdoor vibe I’m used to that Washington DC totally lacks. But while Colorado is clearly landlocked, Seattle has the Puget Sound, Lake Washington, and the Pacific for an extra dose of scenery.

I already foresee the time difference between the two extreme coasts of the US being quite challenging. I woke up at 5:00 am this morning, spent six hours on a flight, and I was still greeted with a “good morning” at the hotel. I’m going to wake up somewhere around 3 am and fall asleep in my dinner. But hey, maybe this will be the first conference ever where I will be awake enough to not doze off during the talks. I mean, I would never do that… I will pay the piper when I get home Thursday, though. But even with the time difference, I’m thankful for the opportunity to see some new places while doing one of the most interesting parts of my job.

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Today marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. Just a couple of miles down the road from me, thousands will be commemorating the event on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Being so close to the very heartbeat of our nation is one of the most fascinating parts of living here.

There is a lot to say about the subject of equality and justice, especially in light of many things happening in recent weeks and months in our nation, but how could I say it better than Dr. King himself? Therefore, I am posting the transcript of his original speech. I encourage you to read it, probably for the first time, as it was mine when I read it today.

“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

Dr. King, 28 August 1963
I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But 100 years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check that has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end but a beginning. Those who hoped that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “for whites only.” We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I say to you today my friends — so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!”

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true. And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi — from every mountainside.

Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring — when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children — black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics — will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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My good friend and kindred spirit, Mary-Hall, recently posted on her blog about her woes with Craigslist. We were both totally hooked on Craigslist in Denver and got pretty spoiled with finding all kinds of random steals in a very active market. She and her husband moved from Denver just a couple of months before we did and are now back in their old stomping grounds in Mississippi. Unfortunately, Craigslist in the south isn’t quite as bustling as it is in more populated metro areas, so I totally empathize. Thankfully, DC appears to be just as active as Denver (sorry, MH; wish you were here?…).

Her post on Friday must have gotten me in the mood, because today Bart and I made our first Craigslist transaction here in the DMV. Up until now, we’ve scoped the website for a few items we were interested in purchasing, but it wasn’t until this weekend that an item we were in the market for aligned with a timely and well-located posting. So it was time for finally testing the waters to see how Craigslisters out here roll compared to their western counterparts.

Right from the start, the worst qualities of Craigslist sellers came out. We emailed about an item on Sunday and never got a response….this is absolutely my biggest Craigslist pet peeve of all-time. I mean, you go to the effort of listing an item, and then you don’t want to respond to someone who’s standing here with cash for your item? I just don’t get it. Granted, they could have sold the item before we emailed, but in my humble opinion it’s only common courtesy to reply either way. But that’s just me.

We emailed a second person and got a response (albeit over a day later) that it had sold. But I can cut them some slack as they were probably waiting to actually complete the transaction before telling us it was gone. The third time’s a charm, however. I pounced on a brand new posting just an hour after it hit the site. This person was the cream of the crop as sellers go, responding almost immediately and being willing to meet same-day. She gets an A++ in CL cred.

Fortunately, this item was in our neck of the woods. Bart and I were known to trek all over the Front Range for good deals. Some people won’t drive across town to a different grocery store, but we’d load up and drive to Colorado Springs for a gem (mostly because we enjoyed the trip itself for the entertainment value). We got to know the Denver area really well that way, and we were very comfortable getting around there. Here in DC, however, not only are we still tied to our GPS outside our current haunts, but we also have to battle horrible traffic and congestion to get even a few miles at the worst times of day. This has contributed to some of our reluctance to make a deal up until now. But finding an item relatively close by seemed like a perfect way to start.

We made it on time to the house for our meeting. Evidently she and her husband were moving, so they were selling things they weren’t able to take with them (which is exactly what we did!). We exchanged pleasantries, chatted a bit, paid up, grabbed our loot, and headed out–all in all, exactly the way purchasing something off Craigslist should work. So far, Craigslist here appears to be just about the same as Denver, so I’m excited to make use of it here, especially as we anticipate moving again and setting up home in a new house.

And we are super pleased with the item we purchased. More about that later, but I’ll leave you with a hint of what we bought…

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We’ve been dating houses for a while now. We’ve done some speed dating at open houses on Sundays, but all the hot ones get picked up before we can give them our number. We’ve had a few blind dates with real estate agents as chaperones; most of them are nice enough, but there isn’t any chemistry. Some of them are exciting and fun to be with, but aren’t really practical to settle down with in the long term. Some of them are high maintenance. Some are totally out of our league. We’ve found a couple that we’ve flirted with now and then, but we’re either afraid of commitment or someone else sweeps them off their feet before we can ask for their hand in mortgage.

However, this week we found a house we fell for and knew we’d be happy to settle down with. I’d had been scoping out its online profile for a while, and it hadn’t sold due to being a bit overpriced. Bart and I decided to go look at it, thinking we might rush in and make an offer that they couldn’t refuse. But they dropped the price right as we planned to finally tour it, and that garnered other suitors as well. Even with another person competing for it’s affection, we felt we’d go ahead and make our best offer and see if our wit, charm, and down payment would woo them our way.

Sadly, we faced the despair of being rejected for another.

Fine. I didn’t even like that house, anyway.

As the song goes, breaking up is hard to do, and it took me about a day to get over it (at least mostly). They say you never forget your first love.

Yesterday, Bart encouraged us to move on, find somebody new, and pick some houses to go see this weekend, but it was just too soon. All I could think of was the one that got away. However, today I’m ready to go play the field again, though they say you shouldn’t make important emotional decisions when you’re on the rebound. After renting for the better part of a year, I’m so ready to settle down again in my own home, but I’d rather wait for The One to come along than to settle for something I won’t live happily ever after with.

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Today, I feel that my initiation into urban society has been completed. Today, I commuted to work by metro.

Normally, I have a very mundane, suburban routine of driving to and from work. Generally, traffic in DC is atrocious, and so is parking; however, USNO boasts wide open parking lots and flexible work schedules, so I go in early and leave early, making a driving commute mostly reasonable. Taking the metro is possible, but it is both costly and inefficient for me. I would have to pay to park at the station near my house, and the nearest stop to work is over a mile away, requiring a hike or a second hop via bus. Parking and subway fees also add up quickly, so I stick with driving.

Today, however, I had an all-day meeting in Arlington, requiring some deviation from my regular commuting schedule. It was possible for me to drive, but it would have required fighting traffic and finding a parking garage somewhere in the vicinity. But since my destination was mere blocks from not one but two metro stations, it seemed obvious that taking the train in was the way to go.

My trip there this morning went very smoothly; there wasn’t even a huge throng of people around. My return trip is going quite well; in fact, I’m composing this blog post right here on the red line. There’s no doubt that letting someone else drive while I kick back on my smartphone is an A-plus compared to my usual routine of battling wahoos on Connecticut Avenue.

I’m sure if I had no other choice but to commute by train every single day, I would totally be over it. But since I only use the metro occasionally, usually for fun or interesting events, I still find it über cool and novel. Plus, I feel like a totally hip urbanite who roams the city like I own it. Until I accidentally take the wrong escalator from the Orange line platform and have to slink my way back through Metro Center station to the right one…

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