Tuesday, January 20, 2009


While I live just outside Washington DC, I did not venture across the Potomac for any of the Inaugural festivities.  Not for lack of interest - I think it was a great and important day for a number of reasons.  But you tell me there's going to be a crowd of 2 million people, my only question is which direction leads away from them.  Far too much hassle, as I'm sure everyone has heard from the news, and not enough return on the effort.  Most people on the Mall watched the ceremony on a screen, so why shouldn't I as well, in my office on my lunch break?  Plus I don't lose the day, which I desperately need in order to get projects delivered on time.

However, watching and reading about all that has happened today, a peculiar sense of familiarity came to me.  It was actually described best by a kindegartener to an old friend of mine: "It's like the country is having a wedding to get married to Obama."  This rang particularly true while I briefly tuned in to one of the Inaugural Balls, and the President had a first dance with the First Lady while the old Etta James standard "At Last" was sung.  You could write a paper unpacking all the symbolism there between history and race and politics.  But on the surface, it was a first dance, with a man in a tuxedo and his wife in a formal gown.  And they are the only ones dancing, and everyone is watching.  It was very much like a wedding.

The thing of it is, there is a long history of Heads of State "marrying" their nations, though usually in the case of royalty.  I'm especially reminded of the Doge of Venice, who each year would renew the marriage of the Venetian Empire and the Sea by tossing a ring into the Adriatic.  The parallel is not perfect, but it illustrates the essential idea of a union between leader and state, with accompanying pomp and pageantry.

Like many other in the country, I'm excited about this administration.  I look forward to governance based on facts and reason, if nothing else.  I'm glad America has found a nice boy to settle down with.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


To look at the entries here, you'd think it has been a very slow couple of weeks.  If you thought that you would be wrong.  In fact, since coming back to DC from Maine right before New Year's, there's been a great deal of activity.  Besides a very enjoyable New Year's Eve at the Army Navy Country Club and Southeast DC, I've become very busy with two separate major projects at work, enrolled in online graduate courses from Virginia Tech to start my master's (plus all the legwork to get tuition assistance at work), and winterized my "backyard boat" Pegasus.

The most significant thing maybe be one that was less time consuming.  But I've winterized boats and taken courses before.  This is a unique and novel event.  I'm selling off some of my library.  Well, trying - I've picked out the duplicates and candidates for "reduction in force."  They fill a grocery sack and a rolling suitcase.  Some are good titles that I have multiple copies of - The Sea Wolf, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, House of Leaves - while others just haven't aged well for me.  I'm getting rid of all of my old Mass Market Tom Clancys (Clancies?) except for my still-beloved The Hunt for Red October.  Goodbye to all of the "Hannibal" novels by Thomas Harris except, again, the best of them, Silence of the Lambs.

The reasoning for the sale is twofold.  First, and primarily, I need more shelf space, especially in my fiction section.  Second, with the exception of the duplicate copies, I could not see myself ever re-reading any of these titles, or needing to refer to any of the non-fiction volumes.

So I've got them set for their departure.  The only problem is the destination.  Used bookstores, good used bookstores, are a rare thing.  Alexandria only has a few candidates, none of which I've visited.  I've heard good things about Capitol Hill Books, though..  What I wouldn't give to be near The Crow back in Burlington.  Or really, my old used book section at the South Burlington Barnes & Noble.  Then I could sell them to myself for store credit and use my employee discount on new purchases to trade in 10 old books for about 5 new ones.  That's a pretty good swap, unless one of your used books is a Gutenberg Bible.