Monday, March 31, 2008


This ceremony happens every hour on the hour at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

A bugler plays "Taps" as a new wreath is placed in front of the tomb. The kids are students at the local high school that donated the wreath.

Parting shots from D.C.

I'm spending the afternoon in Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport after failing to find an earlier flight home. It's a cold and drippy day in the nation's capital, but even if the weather were nicer I don't think my feet would be up for more sightseeing after the workout I gave them yesterday.
I ended Sunday at my cousin's condo, which is located directly across the street from the National Cathedral.
One of the things that makes D.C. such a great city to visit is the Metro, which is clean, safe and goes to most parts of the city.Some of the offerings at the airport gift shops. Click on any pic to view it larger.
I stumbled across the Embassy of Tajikistan while walking through the Dupont Circle neighborhood yesterday. As you can tell from this pic, the Tajiks went all out on the Home Depot water feature in front of their building.

In case you're wondering, Tajikistan is a landlocked mountainous former Soviet republic located in central Asia. According to the
CIA World Factbook, it's slightly smaller than Wisconsin, has a population of 7,076,598, and has one of the lowest per capita GDP's ($1,600) among the 15 former Soviet republics. About 60 percent of its population lives in poverty, and only 19,500 Tajiks had access to the Internet in 2005.

Rumor has it that the Tajiks will be adding a few garden gnomes to the embassy's front lawn this spring. One last look at the blooming cherry trees.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Terminal B. No free WiFi here, but there's a choice of paid services from T-Mobile and AT&T.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

They don't smell like cherries

The Cherry Blossom Festival is in full swing at the National Mall.
Click on any photo to view it full size.
The National World War II Memorial.

The 40,000 stars that make up the Field of Stars portion of the monument represent the 400,000 American service members who died in the war.

SoHo Tea & Coffee at the corner of P Street and 22 Street in Washington's Dupont Circle neighborhood. The coffee was good. The chili was tasty. And the WiFi was free and moderately fast.

Arlington Cemetery

I spent a couple of hours walking around Arlington Cemetery, which was only two Metro stops from my hotel.
The Tomb of the Unknowns.

JFK and the eternal flame.
Kennedy's grave attracts a constant crowd while the resting place of his brother, Robert, gets far less attention less than 100 yards away.
Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis served in the Army during World War II.

The cemetery's grand main entrance.
Looking across the Potomac River bridge at the Lincoln Memorial.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Enough with the interest rate question!

I'm in the nation's capital this weekend attending the Association of Health Care Journalists annual conference.

Above is the view from my hotel room located just on the other side of the Potomac River near the Pentagon. That's the Washington Monument to the far left and the Capitol dome to far right.
Sunrise from the hotel room.
Don't let these blossoms fool you. It's freakin cold this morning. A front swept through overnight bringing only a trace of rain to the Washington area but temperatures down to the lower 30s.
On my first night here I ventured by Metro to Chinatown, one of the city's newly gentrified neighborhoods, to meet up with my cousin who's lived here for years.
Here's me, my first cousin Mick (right), and his partner Rusty. People are always shocked to learn that Mick and I are so closely related. He gets his looks from German genes on my mom's side of the family tree, and I take after the Portuguese side of my dad's line. Just looking at this picture, you'd probably guess that Rusty and I are the blood relatives.
From the separated-at-birth file: One of Mick's friends initially mistook me for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the guy in charge of raising and lowering interest rates and keeping the economy from tanking more than it already has.

The comparison was a first for me and was a bit surprising. But after looking at our mugs side by side, I have to admit that there may be something to it. At least it beats the comparison my young niece made of me to Pee Wee Herman years ago . . . doesn't it?

Sunday, March 23, 2008

This is the scene along the 3000 block of University Avenue in my North Park neighborhood. In the last couple of months, more than half a dozen shops have emptied within a two-block area and nearly as many buildings have taken on lease or sale signs.
On this one stretch, five shops are currently empty and seeking new tenants.The center of North Park has been undergoing gentrification for some time now. The thrift stores, tattoo parlors, pawn shops and discount beauty supply centers now share space with art galleries, several fitness centers and trendy coffee shops and restaurants.
But I'm guessing the more recent surge in storefront vacancies will accelerate the change. The process got a huge boost last week when Big Lots, the neighborhood's retail anchor, put up going-out-of-business signs.
Here are some of the other buildings that have become available.
I can't help wondering how long will it take to fill in all of the newly emptied stores and what will the replacements look like?

If this architectural rendering that I found taped to one of the shops is any indication, this current transformation might not be all that dramatic.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Winter's last gasp

The mountains east of San Diego were dusted with an inch of snow last night by a late season storm.
Given my obsession with the white stuff, I couldn't resist driving the hour and a half to Mount Laguna this morning to see it before it melted away."B" marks Mount Laguna on the map. Click on any image to view it full size.
Below this mountain range on the eastern side is the desert where we frolicked among the wildflowers last week. It's all about micro climates here. You can pass through three or four distinct weather zones and terrains all within an hours drive from west to east.