Trip Start Mar 30, 2009
57Trip End Ongoing
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I left China in July 2007. It was a an involuntary departure, as the airlines say. China was getting rid of the dispensable in preparation for the Olympics. It must have worked.
I landed in Oregon via London and Washington DC, but then returned to DC in October to figure out a job with the State Department. Then back to Oregon in January to spend the winter remodeling a vacant building downtown. Corvallis continues to be an easy place to live, not easy to leave friends, family, and more projects begging for attention. But, ...
Now I'm back in DC, starting a job as Foreign Service Facilities Manager, an employee of our Department of State. The job starts Monday with a reception and orientation at the State Department main building near the White House, then several weeks of training at the Foreign Service Institute in Virginia
It's a good time to be in DC. Cherry blossoms are out, new president, museums open and full of world treasures. Everyone is a politico in Washington, of course. Who's ahead, who's behind, who's behind the agenda, who'd kissing whose behind, who's got their head up their behind. No bartender can afford to have weak opinions. It was easier for them when the Republicans were in power.
It's pretty easy to identify the current losers here because what's left of the newspapers won't let them go - Daschle and the other would-be appointees, Louisiana Senator David Vitter (just off a DC madam's list and stepped into a shouting rage at the local airport - quote: "Do you know who I am?"), and just about all the Republicans except McCain. Every form of media knows how to exploit the wounded, and, of course, DC is news central.
There are no winners in Washington, only those who hold power while it lasts. There is an awkward air of reverence for Obama, many wondering out loud how long it will last, watching the bailout gamble like a hockey game, and enjoying the immunity of Washington's employment bubble. In the meantime, Obama souvenirs continue in popularity with air fresheners and (The Audacity of) Soap-on-a-Rope in hot supply.
Politics is background noise against the otherwise entertaining action in Washington DC, like a vacuum cleaner at the opera. The City is clean and easy to navigate with a great Metro. Crime is high, but generally contained. The museums hold treasures from all over the globe, and some parts of the solar system
There is hardly a corner downtown that has no story to tell - big accomplishments and dashed hopes of our country's politicians, businessmen, suffragettes, writers, military men, hookers, scholars, philosophers, artists, laborers, developers and apologists. Lincoln is alive in Washington - at least 22 events this year - exhibits, books, theater, music, artifacts, memorials and recreations. Ford's theater re-opened after a 2 year renovation. John Wilkes Booth has been re-evaluated as a delusional psychopathic egomaniac with an identity problem and a nagging wife. The guy needed a break. Lincoln is regarded in almost all opinions as our greatest president. Quotes from Abe:
- How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.
- It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
- Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
Architecture here is magnificent
The City of Washington was planned from the start to be the center of power for a nation with a future. Washington hired his French friend Pierre L'Enfant to plan the city. Together they picked the location on the Potomac River. Wide Boulevards, sweeping vistas, calm waters, lush landscape, monumental backgrounds, and pedestrian comfort. I doubt that they would be disappointed with the result except that L'Enfant got hacked off when Jefferson would not give him the commission for the Capitol Building. But, then the French are so difficult.