Friday, February 25, 2011

Eight hours to go

I find myself unable to sleep.

It's 2 a.m. on Friday morning and I'll be signing the papers for my new house in a little less than half an hour. O.K., it's more like eight hours, but you know me, I'm totally incapable of passing up a chance to quote The Princess Bride. Two hours after that the movers show up and we get this show on the road.

But right now, I can't sleep.

I know everything should go well today - I have a really good agent and mortgage company (if anyone needs a reference I'll be happy to pass along their info) who've crossed every i and dotted every t.

But still I'm awake. I feel like I'm planning my country's 500th anniversary, a wedding, a murder and how to blame it on Guilder. I'm swamped.

About 96 percent of my stuff is packed. The boxes, if stacked end-to-end would reach from here to the moon and back. Well, at least it feels that way. That last 4 percent, though, is kicking my butt. It always seems that way.

Don't know why I can't find my to Lilly White's party (as my mom used to say). Since noon yesterday I've been busting my ass to get things packed and there are still some glaring omissions from the packing job - namely my dvd player. For some reason it never made it into a box and for the life of me I don't know why I don't have the manufacturer's box to put it in. Also still standing are the shelves in kitchen, but they knock apart pretty quickly.

All right, maybe now that I've written this down I'll be able to get my mind to relax and let me sleep.

Now if I can just avoid the shrieking eels.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Little boxes everywhere…

All right, so they’re not so little. Most of them are of the 3-cubic-foot variety, but some are smaller and some are bigger.

I’ve been pondering a question the past couple of days as the boxes have filled up – Oh, did I mention I’ve bought a house and will be moving this week? No? How careless of me. Well I did. I’m giving up my “suburban” lifestyle in Arlington and moving down to the “country” in Alexandria.

At least that’s what I imagine the D.C. residents who consider Arlington to be a suburb must think of Alexandria, it being so, so far away from their glorious, shining city on the hill. And, while that isn’t the point of this post – I’ve gotten off on a bit of a tangent here, haven’t I? – it’s my belief there is nothing so special about Washington, D.C., the city itself, that would ever make me want to purchase property there.

If you can name for me a single quality of life issue where the District has a distinct advantage over its neighbors with congressional representation, lemme know. Cause I haven’t thought of one and believe me, I’ve tried.

Oh, not owning a car and being able to walk to the Metro does not make you or your address more virtuous than me and my neighbors in Virginia or the weirdoes who got stuck living in Maryland.

Annnnnnnnd….Rant over.

Getting back to my original point…boxes. As I packed up my things this past weekend, I thought about my first big move: Jacksonville, N.C. to Raleigh back when I got out of the Marines. Everything I owned fit into two seabags, a footlocker and a couple of boxes. And it all fit in my car. I basically didn’t own shit except for some clothes, some CDs and a bunch of books.

Now? Now’s a whole different story. On Saturday I filled five 3-cubic-foot boxes just with books. That’s 15 cubic feet of books. That’s a shitload of books – trust, they’re heavy. My kitchen is going to take another six or seven boxes and then there’s all the various and sundry crap we accumulate and move from address to address that'll fill another box or two.

As of now I’ve filled 14 3-cubers, four 1.3-cubers along with all the other boxes for stereo and computer gear (I am a guy after all). And, this doesn’t even count my furniture.

The funny thing is, when I look at these boxes it just doesn’t seem like all that much. It doesn’t seem like there’s a whole life packed up in there. I’m not saying I need more stuff. Believe me, I’m donating or disposing of as much as possible. But still, seeing it all there boxed up and lined up against the wall of my living room waiting for the movers (lemme tell you how nice it is to say that: "waiting for the movers," I'm savoring the concept) is, well…I don’t know.

So here’s the question I had when I started this thing: How many boxes does your life fit into?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Not something you see every day...

On Saturday the button-down world of this place:

got totally unbuttoned. Hmmm, what's that? What's that coming down Constitution Avenue? It looks like a bunch of people running down the middle of the street in their underwear.

Holy Crap! It is a bunch of people (more than 400 by all accounts) running down Constitution Avenue in their underwear. With a police escort no less.

Welcome to the 2011 Cupid's Undie Run where seemingly sane people strip down for a good cause. This year's run from the Pour House to the Capitol and back raised more than $50,000 for the Children's Tumor Foundation ... as well as the spirits of those watching. I'm not totally sure, but I think if you go to the run's web page, you can still donate.

Seriously, there's nothing quite like seeing a screaming pack of mostly naked people running toward you down one of the most famous streets in the world. For more pictures, go to my Flickr page (the link's on the right side of this page).

There was a lot of pink to be seen: Pink panties, pink boxers (and, strangely, several pairs of superman boxers), pink polka-dotted bras and, with a good 10 mph breeze blowing up Capitol Hill, lots and lots of pink skin.

Now, I've played rugby in the rain in 30-degree temps, but at least there we got to huddle together every once in a while during scrums, rucks and mauls. And we were wearing shirts. I am slightly in awe of the folks who took part in the run.

This could only be more fun if they did it on a weekday while Congress was in session. Or maybe not, might cause a few heart attacks.

I particularly liked this one. The guy with the bra on his head is wearing a pair of boxers that say "I'm with stupid" with a hand pointing up. The pictures are clickable if you want a bigger view.

And, near the tail end of the pack...

Now those of us who live here in the D.C. area take this kind of silliness for granted. We work hard and every so often we need to blow off a little steam and if running around the Capitol in your skivvies does the trick, so be it.

I do wonder, though, what outsiders think of this (not that I care, but I do wonder). This was reinforced by all the folks walking by before the run reached the Capitol who asked us why there was bunch of photographers hanging around the corner of Constitution and First. I think they thought something important was about to happen, especially when the police closed the streets. But, when told we were were waiting for a hoard of people to run by in their underwear, they all kind of looked at us a little funny.

Of course, we do have to deal with all the people from out of town who come here to protest so I think confusing the tourists a bit kinda balances it all out in the end.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nights gone by

A confluence of events led to this posting. After a co-worker asked me about shooting pictures at night, and a friend asked why I haven't posted anything in forever, this is the result.

These four pictures were shot way back when in May 2010. I got bored one clear, cloudless night, so I decided to take a walk down the Pike with my camera to see what I could see. While not the best examples of nighttime photography, they do show what happens when you leave the shutter open for 30 seconds or more.

All of these are shot with the camera rated at ISO 100 (the measure of how fast the camera's sensor soaks in the light - in this case, slowly), with the aperture set at f/32 (the smallest possible) and the shutter speed at 30 seconds or more. It goes without saying I was using a tripod.

I kind of like this first one for a very simple reason: The exposure was long enough for me to make it look like the traffic signals are showing red, yellow and green all at the same time.

Shot from a very low angle (some of the people walking by looked at me a little funny as I was sitting on the sidewalk), this is just a long shot looking east down the Pike. The orange lights are courtesy of a Metro Bus.

Looking west, these next two shots are similar except in the number of cars that passed by my lens.

I really kinda like the ghosty effect of the Miata, it kind of looks like it's going to just disappear into the other car.

One of the things I love the most about shooting at night is that you can actually put a real sense of motion into a still picture. Just by cranking down the aperture and leaving the shutter open a little longer you can bring the streets to life in the dark.