– photographs and messages from inside the Sausurrean Bar –

Posts Tagged: Washington DC

Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’

Monday, May 25th, 2015

DC reporting in, #15: The SCOTUS

Back in April – we’re still in April here, nevermind that May is almost over – I had a rather SCOTUS – Supreme Court of the United States – intensive week. Now, the SCOTUS is located right next to the Library of Congress, to the extent that you can actually see the front steps of the SCOTUS building from the far end of the Kluge Center, including the protesters outside in front of (and on) them.

There were rather a lot of protesters there on the last Tuesday in April, as the oral arguments of Obergefell v. Hodges were being held on that day. I’ve pondered long and hard which photographs to include here, but decided in the end that, nevermind my personal sympathies, I would in fact give you images depicting both sides, as I am – in a limited and invariably subjective fashion – want to and am reporting on what life in DC is like, and simply ignoring half of the protesters would of course to some extent entirely negate that ambition.

And then, on the last Wednesday in April, some fellow Klugians and I met up in front of the Supreme Court at 7am, in order to get into the line to actually go and hear an oral argument. We were by no means the first people in line (see big photo), but were, on the contrary, lucky to get in, as admissions stopped just two people behind us, the actual court room being then at capacity. The case we got the hear was Glossip v. Gross (transcripts and audio recordings of which are available on the SCOTUS website), and while the case was also a morally controversial one it was really interesting to get to observe the different styles and personalities of the 9 different justices (or as much as one can observe those during an oral argument, anyway). N and I also stayed for a chunk of Mata v. Lynch, but not having read up on it quite enough beforehand and not being able to quite hear everything (we were seated in the back row) I got tangled up in the Sua Sponte details of a 5th Circuit Court ruling and as N seemed equally lost we decided to make our seats available to some other folks waiting and to head back to the LoC.

I wish we’d gone to more hearings and done this sooner, as, like I wrote, it was truly fascinating – and made me vividly remember that I do actually hold a BAequiv. in Public Law (Öffentliches Recht).

Oral arguments seem to fall somewhere between a really really tough oral exam and a horse-and-pony-show (judging from my sample of 1.5 of them, so really, what do I know … very little) (although I have of course read and listened to others).

the SCOTUS, shortly after dawn – waiting in line to hear Glossip v. Gross

 Obergefell v. HodgesObergefell v. Hodges
 20150428-Foto 28.04.15 12 08 15  20150428-Foto 28.04.15 12 19 23

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

DC Reporting in, #14: K&S in DC!

To decrease the backlog a bit here’s another report from DC, right on the heels of yesterday’s one! Also connected to it, so … for, you see, right after FKO and our CN Tower adventures K & S spent a week in DC, visiting museums, going to concerts, and doing tons of other cool stuff (some of which I got to participate in! :-)). I did library things during the daytime, obviously, but we did manage to meet up quite a bit on weekday evenings and on the weekend, and our adventures included good food, cycling down the Mall, a great Mouths of Babes house concert, a cool dinner in Alexandria with S & P (who I got to meet there for the first time!), and a visit to Mount Vernon.

Mouths of Babes

Mouths of Babes

 District Chophouse

the view from George Washington's porch

the view from George Washington’s back porch

 Washington's Needle  Jefferson's Books

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Fly by me

DC flyby

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Ten at a Time

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

Here’s looking at you

Here's looking at you

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

DC reporting in, #11: Cherry Blossoms

Dear friends and readers, let me take you back two weeks, to a weekend much like this one (in the sense that it was also a weekend), to when the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin and pretty much all over DC were in full bloom. Now, DC has thousands of cherry trees – most of which were given to the people of the United States in 1912 as a gift of friendship from the people of Japan, with almost 4’000 more added in 1957 (and they are being replaced by newer ones once they reach the end of their life, afaik) – and so the time when the trees bloom is a Big Deal, with websites that will tell you when to expect the “peak bloom,” lots of tourists, a Cherry Blossom Festival, and all.

It being the weekend I ventured forth to gaze at this arboreal spendor, and indeed, lo and behold, there were millions and millions of cherry blossoms (and scarcely fewer spectators, it seemed) all around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. They were indeed quite picturesque (the cherry blossoms, that it, although the meandering masses held a fascination all their own).

Cherry Blossom Wanderers
It was a cold, windy, but sunny day, and I spent most of it (I ventured out at the crack of dawn, hoping to beat the meandering masses there, which I only half succeded at – there were noticeably less people than later on, but nevertheless already lots of people out) wandering around the Tidal Basin and then out to Hains Point (the very tip of East Potomac Park) and back, being very glad to be able to have a warm bath at the end of a chilly and walkabout-ish day.

Cherry Blossoms

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

DC reporting in, #10: Baseball

the field & the crowd, 2nd inning

the field & the crowd, 2nd inning

My expericence with the US’s iconic game in one sentence:

Baseball is a game where it’s cold and wet and which takes a long time to finish – nothing much happens for most of that time, albeit sometimes there are 30 or so seconds of manic activity (in between lots of balls going where they aren’t supposed to). :-)

BaseballOr, in a slightly more verbose version:

Five of us Klugians went to see the Washington Nationals play the New York Mets at a game that was supposed to start at 7:05pm but which was delayed until 8:05pm on account of rain (which it, alas, did). It was a cold, wet, windy, and rather dreary evening, so not the best of weather for a first encounter with baseball in any case – the game itself started off quite dynamically, with a home run for the Nationals in the first inning (cue all of us newbies thinking: “Yes! This is going to be an exciting and action packed evening!”), for which the score in total was DC 2-0 NYM. After the second inning the score (in total) was DC 2-1 NYM. Alas, DC 2-1 NYM (in total) was also the score after the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eights, and ninth innings. A lot of people left at some point, but four of us persevered. (I wore my winter coat, long johns below my jeans, bought a blanket – and was still freeeeezing*). It was … a long evening. Baseball’s getting one more chance (we’re aiming for a 4pm game in late May, possibly against the Yankees, in the hope that sunnier weather and a further advanced season will improve the experience), but so far, I’m not feeling the love… .

the field & the crowd, 9th inning

the field & the crowd, 9th inning

* Thus I now own a smallish and overpriced Washington Nationals blanket that is shedding red synthetic threads like crazy. R, can I beg off of bying that pennant for my office? I feel like an overpriced blanket is enough… .

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

DC reporting in, #8: 3 Reading Room Tours & 1 Lecture

LoC tunnelThere’s not that much to report from DC at the moment – H&R were in town again before their flight back to Germany, and we went out to a basketball game (this time the Wizards even won!), took a trip to Alexandria, played some shuffleboard, visited the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum that’s here in DC on the mall and did some other fun stuff – which was all good fun, but (see [by now] numerous other postings), as I don’t talk about non-public events involving other people if they don’t want me to/without asking, there aren’t any photos etc. to share, only the barest bones of an itinerary :-).

I’ve also been fighting a cold, which means that I’ve spent the last days mostly to-ing and fro-ing between the Library of Congress and my room, without any big diversions in between. That said, spring seems to actually have arrived in D.C. at long last, and so I am writing this post from my back porch, where it is a balmy 20°C at 9pm at night (so it’s actually a warm summer nights, if one is thinking in Flensburgian weather terms). So far and in my subjective experience, DC seems to be in a climate zone that skips the 12-17°C bracket – it was freeeeezing cooooold on the weekend, and then, bam, 25°C two days later.

LoC tunnelToday, fellow Kluge fellow Joseph Genetin-Pilawa gave a great talk on “The Indians’ Capital City: Native Histories of Washington D.C.”, which was my knowledge-highlight of the week. Joe’s working on a larger project on the Indigenous histories of Washington, D.C., and hearing him talk about it is always fascinating. Here’s an interview on Time.com with him that gives you some insights and further info.

There are, in fact, so many interesting projects being done by fellow Klugians right now that the lunchtime and hallway and photocopier etc. conversations often make you feel inspired about your own research and are definitely another benefit (besides all the resources available) of being in the Kluge Center.

I’ve also been learning more about the Library of Congress in general this week, as I’ve been taking three of its reading room tours – they’re offered at the beginning of every month (I was too overwhelmed and underorganized to take advantage of them in March), so I went on three for reading rooms that I thought might become relevant to my work as my time here progresses, namely of the Newspaper Reading Room, the Science & Business Reading Room, and the Rare Prints & Photographs Reading Room (the Newspaper RR tour was the best and most helpfulLoC tunnel one, for me, albeit talking to the S&B librarian after the tour was also very helpful [though I won’t need much of their material] – I think I won’t need the Rare Prints & Photos RR as much as I thought – which is no fault of theirs, of course!).

So, quite a lot to report, after all!

The photographs in this entry show the subterranean corridors that connect the three LoC buildings (Jefferson, Madison, Adams) to each other (after hours – they’re really busy during the day).

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Signs of Spring

Signs of Spring

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

DC reporting in, #6: the Leipzig String Quartet

Leipzig String Quartet TicketAnother Library of Congress themed update, this one about an event that took place on Saturday. The Library of Congress has a concert program for which you can both get tickets in advance as well as on the day (if there are any left over).

Same-day tickets are free, you’ve just got to be there 2 hours before the concert starts to see if there are any left, and maybe you can get one straight away, or if not then you can get a so-called “Rush Ticket,” with which you return 30 minutes before the concert and then, maybe, get in (rush ticket numbers ‘keep your space’ in the queue, so you don’t have to stand there and wait for 2 hours).

concertWhen I got to the Library on Saturday I saw signs downstairs that said “Rush queue this way” und “Rush Tickets here” – and it being 11.40am (the concert started at 2pm) I – after a quick check to see who was playing (oops) – got in line (I was third in line) to see if I could get a rush ticket. I got even luckier and got an actual ticket (there had been some returns in advance) and so knew that I’d get into the concert for certain. Some digital messaging and knocking-on-cubicle-doorways later I’d found some other Klugianists who were also going or who also wanted to go see if they could get in (we all sat in different places). The concert was really good (even though, yes, it’s ironic that I travel for ~6’000 miles and then the first concert I go to is one performed by a German group). The Leipzig String Quartet played BORODIN’s String Quartet no. 2 in D major, STRAVINSKY’s Three Pieces for String Quartet, WAGNER’s Albumblatt (für Cosima Wagner) (which was a bit of a cheeky program item, as it’s maybe 1:30 mins long in total) and DEBUSSY’s Premier quatuor in G minor, op. 10 (and a song by J. S. Bach as an encore).

As the post-concert afternoon and evening turned into a drinks&dinner excursion with fellow Klugians (I still don’t know what our collective noun is), it was an excellent day all around.

PS: Yes, C., I’ve seen … there’s going to be Stockhausen!

Friday, March 20th, 2015

DC reporting in, #5: The Blumberg Dialogues, pt. 1

The last couple of days have been quite busy (as you could see from the last photo I posted, I made it out to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center part of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum) (for that’s where the Discovery is these days – H&R were here for a long weekend and we made it out there last Sunday), but as I don’t talk about other people on my blog without their permission, nor post non-public photos of people without those people being A-OK with it, let me now, rather than showing you photos of people eating dinner, talk a little bit about an event that took place yesterday, namely:

The Blumberg DialoguesThe first installment of the Blumberg Dialogues on Astrobiology – “Astrobiology and the Religious Imagination: Notions of Creation, Humanity, Selfhood, and the Cosmos.” The Blumberg Dialogues brought together astrobiologists and religious scholars, who spent two days discussing various notions, ideas, concepts, and questions (apparently, that part was unfortunately :-( not open to the public) with it each other, and then culminated in a podium discussion of what they had gained from their dialogues. I really like this idea, but the format defeated the idea a little, as it was not really a discussion but rather a collection of statements, and unfortunaltely the four astrobiologists went first and were then followed by the five religious scholars, so rather than alternating sides and thus being able to build on one another you got this big chunk of where-astrobiology-is-at-right-now and then scholars of the five different religions responded/made statements of how life on other planets might or might not be problematic for the belief systems they study. And then there were some questions from the public, and that was … it. No proper discussion amongst the people on the podium. The astrobiologists said nothing about how religious notions might be problematic for them or influence them or play any part in astrobiology at all … it rather was a “science states was is, religion must deal” kind of vibe, so all you leared is that, depending on which religion you look at, integrating life elsewhere into that belief system might be more or less problematic. (Which … d’uh?)

I thinkLuminaries why I was a bit disenchanted might also simply be because there wasn’t anything really new for me in there (ok, yes, the giant jade mountain, which is apparently a thing in Buddhism). I keep up with astrobiology research publications for the lay person, and what was mentioned never went beyond that (Mars, Europa, Titan, Enceladus, Webb Telescope, … ), and likewise the religious aspects were mostly yep, okay, check, true … I think it’s because I never really stopped reading and thinking about science/religion after writing one of my Master’s theses about just that relationship (in novels). And I AM NOT mentioning these things here to brag, but only to say that I think a lot of the audience liked it far better than I did, and I think that’s true because for them more of it was things they didn’t know (IE: life on Enceladus? What? What and where is Enceladus in the first place?!) or hadn’t yet worked on and with so much, whereas for me the overlap was a little too great for anything to be new or mindboggling or … you know? I wanted to learn more than I already know, but because it was for the public, they covered the basics and that was that. So, uh, wrong format for me? (Also I suspect all the ‘let down your hair’ interesting discussions went on in the non-public part of the event!!!)

At any rate, there will be more of these, and I am going to go again, hopefully to learn new things and if not to sit there attentively regardless and go … ‘okay, gotcha’ … :-).


But what I gotta say is: Dear religious scholar #3, No, people in Columbus’ time Did Not Think The Earth Was Flat! Even if you don’t know this (which I think you kinda should), then at least logically infer that going one way (west) to end up in the place where people have been going to the other way (east) would make No Sense if you feared falling off the side of the Earth in between. Like, how would that even work? Unexpected continent in the middle of the ocean? Yes. Flat earth? No. (Sorry! Not sorry.)

Monday, March 16th, 2015


Saturday, March 14th, 2015


Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Squirrel II


Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

DC reporting in, #4: The Kluge Center

As you can see from the photos work notesis progressing apace, though I am still finding my way around the main Library of Congress catalog (to say nothing of all the digital collections one has access to through the LoC!). I am however – already – really apprechiative of the fact that I can browse the catalog, order books, and then have them turn up right at my cubicle entrance 1-2 days later. There are sooo many books in the LoC, and being able to work with them in this way is a great opportunity.

Today we had a two hour in-depth introduction into the different ways that one can utilize the catalog, which has proven really useful – I will have to re-do some of my searches though, to make sure that nothing has slipped through my ‘net’. The introduction was supposed to be last Thursday (which turned out to be a snow day) and thus had to be rescheduled, and though it might be a little annoying that some searches need to be redone we all (the five newbies) agreed that having had the extra days of working with the catalog on one’s own lead to us being able to ask much more detailed questions, as we had all discovered some odd results etc already, or knew of things that we thought ought to be in the LoC but somehow could not manage to find (and, sure enough, at least in my case, it’s here indeed)*.

So, what precisely is this place that I am working in? Let me quote from the website:

ShelvesThe John W. Kluge Center brings together scholars and researchers from around the world to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources, and to interact with policymakers and the public.

The John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress is an ideal place to foster this mutually enriching relationship between scholars and political leaders. The Kluge Center presents a new opportunity to attract to Washington the best available minds in the scholarly world, facilitate their access to the Library’s remarkable collection of the world’s knowledge, and engage them in conversation with the U.S. Congress and other public figures.


You can find out more about the Kluge Center right here.

* It being the 1952-54 issues of Collier’s.