The blog was out for a while there due to some issue in Phoenix (where all of the blog info is kept on a server). Glad it’s back now
I am back in DC. The flight over was long but expected. I think I felt the blob move during a bout of turbulence over the Atlantic! It doesn’t like turbulence either.
Mom arrived on Saturday, and we did a full afternoon of shopping soon after she arrived. Her timing was impeccable because I couldn’t have gone another day in the pants that I packed for the trip. My belly popped out seemingly over night on Friday. In the photo, I easily look like I’ve just eaten a big dinner, but I hadn’t, and it stayed like that all day. I got some pants with a big stretchy waste to last me for the next months. They should last until the end because I tried stuffing a big pillow in them, and they still fit – no pictures of that one.
I had forgotten how crowded DC is. There are people everywhere! We went to Seven Corners mall, and it was packed! The acoustics were so bad that it was loud and annoying to walk the mall. Mom and I had to take an ‘outside’ break just to stop a headache from coming on.
It is early Monday morning (yeah jetlag), and I am about to head in to run the first day of a two day meeting at work. I had stress dreams about it last night – the building was flooded, I couldn’t find the room, etc, but Brian was with my panelists and running the meeting when I showed up. I guess it had a good ending, so I am not so worried. I just need to get the rental car dropped off before I go. Mom is heading out on a train later this morning. It was nice to have her here to take care of me a bit – nothing like soup and sandwiches made by mom!
I can’t believe it has been less than a week since I got back to DC! I went from catching up with mom and dad, doing some serious shopping to a crazy week at work. Since I was only here for a week, I packed in a lot of meeting, presentations, etc.
I don’t even know how my husband is doing because I have hardly had the chance to speak with him all week with the 6 hour time difference. He doesn’t really believe in long emails, so I am at a loss. I did Skype with him a bit around midnight his time last night. Unfortunately, I had been facilitating a meeting since 8:30 that morning, so I was a bit unfocused by that point. pretty much every night this week ended with me asleep by 9:30 so I haven’t been able to catch him up on my stuff either.
Halloween was fun on Wednesday though. That was the one evening I got out of work relatively early. Brian and I came back to his place and handed out candy to the few kids that came by (I am staying in Brian and Jessica’s basement – it is a nice little apartment with a fireplace – Thanks guys – we are so paying you back in Regensburg!!!). There were only a little over 20 or so kids the entire night, but it was fun. I liked to see some kids who were just out having a fun time that they seemed to have organized themselves. One poor guy had a paper grocery bag for his candy, and it was shredding by the time he got to the door. I went and fetched my cloth bag from the DFG (Deutscheforshungs Gemeinschaft) and gave it too him. We switched the bags out. He held on to the paper one just in case he needed more space for candy – smart kid.
The meeting I have been running for the past two days went well as did a presentation I made on Wednesday. Those were the main reasons for my trip this time. I have a lot of follow up work, but I will keep busy when I get back, so I am happy. I also liked that one of the people I had in my meeting was able to participate via Skype. She is on maternity leave with a 4 month old, but was interested in helping with this meeting. We got to see a little bald head pop in and out of the camera periodically. She was really well behaved and let mom do some great work. She was even dressed like a pumpkin for the first day. The other people in the meeting enjoyed her presence as well (they were prepared for the situation so it didn’t freak them out). I like the informality of the science community at times like this. I don’t think you could get away with that in the corporate world.
Now, I just have to figure out how to get all of my junk in my suitcases. In addition to the stuff I bought, I have a pile of things that I couldn’t fit in my suitcases last time, so I need to sort all of that out in the morning. Brian, Jessica and I are planning on taking it easy in the morning, walking the puppies a bit and eventually heading to the airport. I hate the thought of flying again, but I love the idea of being in my own bed. I have to admit that the air mattress I have had this week rocks though. However, the full body pillow is just not the same as Matthias
I just learned that my work (in Virginia) is closed today because of some power outage. My boss called my coworkers and told them since they can’t get into the building or into their computers via remote access to enjoy a vacation day. Brian Skyped me to let me know what’s up (and catch up on office gossip, of course).
So, do I get a forced vacation day too? Most of my files are on my laptop, so I can keep working without a problem, but I feel I should work in solidarity with the folks in the office! I guess I have a bit too much to prepare for this week, so I think I’ll just drop off a bit early….
You know how the generic reference for a new flavor is chicken? (‘it kind of tastes like chicken’). I’ve noticed that my travel reference always seems to be Italy. Athens reminds me a little of southern Italy. Maybe it’s the climate and all of the olive trees.
Upon arriving in the plaza near my hotel from the airport, my first thought was, â€˜another big dirty city.â€™ It was a bit anticlimactic. However, after checking in, I couldnâ€™t wait to rush out to see the Acropolis! I have wanted to see it since my very first art history class in college, when I learn how awesome the Greeks were about aligning their temples with natural landscapes and symbols of astronomical significant. I jumped back on the metro (after passing a few prostitutes in the plaza), and when I emerged, the place wasnâ€™t so dirty! It was really nice!
Unfortunately, all of the monuments closed at about the time I arrived, but there was this great rock where people were just hanging out in anticipation of the sunset. While relaxing and taking in the amazing view, I heard some people chatting about astronomy outreach, and I suspected that they are part of the meeting I am attending so I introduced myself. I was right. We introduced ourselves and eventually went to dinner together after the sun went down. I had actually been getting ready to leave before the sunset (being a woman alone in a strange place and all), but once I met them, I felt comfortable walking around in the evening. It turns out that the hotel is just in a particularly icky looking area. The hotel itself is really nice, but the location is terrible. I uploaded a couple of photos here, but most didnâ€™t come out so well. I will have more chances – I’ll keep uploading as I get them. Plus, some of the people I met took much better photos than me, and they promised to email me.
Unfortunately, the place we ate was terrible! But there was a view of the Acropolis. I have high hopes for Greek food! I hope to get a chance to try some good stuff while I am here, but I am prepared to eat nothing but salad if I must â€“ something I prepare myself for when I travel. The conference organizers have some dinners planned, so I suspect they know where to take us. We get a tour of the Acropolis on Tuesday and a star party on Wednesday after the sessions. It should be a busy but interesting week.
We are just about ready to go. Unfortunately, we had to run around getting everything done with a hang over, which kind of slowed us down. It was worth it though, we had a nice party at work. Well, it started out work. It happened to be one of those days where there were parties all afternoon. Someone else (more important than me) was relocating after many years, and there was a big party for her around 2:30. So some of my coworkers and I started off there, and then went over to my bosses office where they had put together a nice spread. The rule was that no one leaves until all of the bottles are empty. Well, we did it – actually, it seemed to have mostly gone to me, but maybe that was just my perspective. Note the photo of the last ones left in the office before heading to the local pub – I always have my arm around someone in drinking photos! Matthias was thrilled to have someone as geeky as him to talk about his crazy Penrose physics!
The drinking did help me get up early this morning to start with organizing the random piles of things. I always get up really early if I drink a lot – I think it’s the sugar.
Anyway, the apartment is empty. It is nice to have a moment (on the floor) to reflect on the temporary nature of things. As I sit in this space, I have a clear memory of what it looked like up to a few days ago – it will never be that way again, and it will only be a memory for ever.
Matthias and I learned that the post office has stopped using surface mail for international shipments! This threw off my whole moving plan! Not to mention, it wasted an hour of our time this morning running around. I didn’t get into work until 10:30, and I had planned on trying to get a bit of stuff done there this morning!
On the bright side, I am constantly being reminded of the source of suffering (according to the yoga sutras). The sutras say that the root of suffering is mistaking the things that temporary for things that are permanent. I was getting a bit attached to my junk, and now I get to leave even more behind for someone else to enjoy…… stupid post office! The path to enlightenment can be annoying sometimes.
We did have a great lunch today. Matthias and I met a colleague of mine from the DFG (Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft) at a restaurant down town. She is really cool, so I wanted Matthias to get a chance to meet her. She even gave Matthias some tips on options for one of his students. We had a few really fun experiences working together this year, and I hope to keep in touch with her in the future. I keep telling Matthias that she is one of the really nice Germans
That is a great quote from Teddy Roosevelt that is engraved on a large tablet on an island in the middle of the Potomac (ironically, called “Roosevelt Island”). He has some good quotes. Why can’t our current president put together such great thoughts? This website has all of the quotes from the tablets on the island.
Today was a lazy Sunday, and it was great! After sleeping late, we went to George town for a French breakfast, and then we spent some time in the Starbucks in Barnes & Noble doing a bit of work. I had to update a bio that someone wrote about me; it’s strange to refer to myself in the third person, but I felt the editing was in order because I didn’t like the way they told my life story.
After some coffee we headed down to watch airplanes again and then we visited old Teddy on the island. It was SO humid today. At least the temperature was a bit manageable, but it was still stifling! We had a nice walk around the island despite weather. I had a bit of a nap on a rock on the river bed – I love passing out on the ground for an afternoon nap.
I suppose we should be stressing this weekend, but everything is getting done. We made a run to the Good Will to give back some of the things I am leaving behind, and we just need to dump some furniture down stairs to the trash room. In a place like my building, the trash room becomes a furniture swap, so I am adding a few items. Matthias was getting nervous about the seemingly massive amounts of stuff, but the place is emptying out now. I’ll take a photo tomorrow to show the progress.
For now, we need to finish the wine and watch an episode of the Simpsons!
Ok, they are not so secret, but you have to have a tour guide to see them. My friend Allyson, who works on one of the Sentate committees, offered to show us the Capitol last week. I have already been on 3 tours, but I learn something every time, and this was the first time that Matthias got to get the ‘behind the scenes’ tour. We started over at Allyson’s office and took the underground tram to the Capitol. (Matthias took the video below). The handsome gentleman in the photo is one of the 100 state statues around the building. The astronaut is just across the hall from the first woman elected Senator – she was also the only person to vote against WWII (she felt that the first vote of a Congresswoman couldn’t be a vote for war). I think they are fitting neighbors. There are some more photos from the tour here.
Anyway, we ended our tour gloriously with burgers in the Senate cafeteria! Then, as he must do each time in DC, Matthias headed over to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.
For the past couple of days we are doing our best to sort out all of my crap! The place is a mess. Matthias is afraid that it won’t all come together, but I have no doubts! All of the important crap will surely go where it is supposed to go. I passed off a few things to my coworker Julian, and another coworker is taking a bunch of furniture on Thursday when we head out. Whatever is left will just have to be donated to the trash room/furniture exchange. I would like to goof off tomorrow, but I suspect we will spend a good part of the day in the apartment again!
I am finally back from all of the travel I have been doing lately! It was an interesting trip but not exactly what I expected.
Needless to say, the Arecibo telescope was awesome. It is the largest radio telescope in the world, and it is in the middle of the Puerto Rican rain forest, which is also pretty cool. There were some political issues around the observatory, which made the reception to our visit a bit strained, but it was still interesting to be there.
Puerto Rico wasn’t exactly what I expected. I guess I expected something with a Caribbean flavor, but Puerto Rico is much more of a blend of the continental U.S. and South American. I had a bit of Italy mixed in there to, in that the airport was totally chaotic with people going all over the place and not seeming to understand the concept of the security line – social situations like that always remind me of Italy in an adoring way
I, literally, just walked into my apartment, but I figure that I should link my devoted fans (all five of you) to the new photos because I am sure you are dying to see them! Plus, I am feelin’ pretty good thanks to the awesome margaritas from the place in the Charlotte airport – if you ever find your self stranded in the Douglas International Airport, I highly recommend the “Millionare Margarita at “Tequileria”. We had four each. I am feelin’ pretty relaxed.
Really, though, I am so looking forward to going back home to Regensburg and being in one place where I can feel centered. This past year has been tough, but I am really glad that I came to Washington. The experience at NSF has been amazing so far; I can’t wait to see what the second year brings. It will be nice to be living with Matthias again. We will go back together and arrive on the day before our second anniversary. I think we should get to re-do our second year of marriage though! I was away most of it!
Today was a bit more chill. Brian and I got to work from the coffee shop in town today rather than sitting in day-long meetings. Brian put together some of his panoramic photos today as well, and I uploaded them into the set of photos from the long journey to the national observatories. It is just a subset of the MANY photos we have between the two of us, but it gives you an idea about the stuff we have been seeing.
Yesterday’s visit to the National Solar Observatory in Sun Spot was cool. Mr. Sunspot took us on a tour of the place in the afternoon, and Brian took some nice photos and panoramics (which explains why I am actually in many of the photos). Among many other things we got to see on the tour, I finally got to see an ‘alien conspiracy site”! The observatory was built in 1947, the same year as the Roswell incident, and the air force has telescopes up there as well. So, of course, their are some who believe that there are aliens and space crafts buried under the Dunn Telescope, which has a deep tunnel below it to increase the focal length.
I uploaded some nice photos that Brian took of The Lodge into the set as well. You can see how old the place is, and you can see its charm. Though I did have a strange dream about the supposed ghost that roams the halls. Her name is Rebbecca, and there are pictures and stories about the woman all over the place. The style of the building seems to have a strong Bavarian/Austrian influence.