31 May 2016

Trump keeps saying that conservatives, Republicans, whoever will lose the Supreme Court if Trump loses.  And that's true.  Hillary would appoint very different people that Trump has proposed nominating and that obviously matters to a lot of people.

However.  The Supreme Court is not the only important thing in this race, or the most important thing. There are things that are worth losing the Supreme Court over (and, if I might remind people, the current Senate has made it clear that even moderate SC nominees can be stymied no matter who is president so it's not as if all is entirely lost even if your candidate doesn't win) and I think one of those things is the way that people are treated.

The POTUS should not be a blatant bully.  Have we had bullying presidents before?  Of course.  But have we turned out in relatively large numbers to vote for a man who heaps abuse on anyone who doesn't do what he wants them to?  It's fascinating to talk to people in the DC area who have had various dealings, political and business, with Trump and hear how he treats people.  To hear how he treats contractors.  To hear how he treats attorneys he hires.  And then you read excerpts from his own books telling about how he treats people who don't do what he asks.

Trump always says that he's a counter puncher.  And in a way that's true.  He generally doesn't say much about people who aren't talking about him (although that's definitely not a rule).  But when people criticize his proposals, for example, he goes after them in a very harsh and personal way that has nothing to do with their criticism of his proposals or even his character.  

This ties in with something else that comes up over and over and that the media doesn't get right.  Yes, Trump says awful things about a lot of women, but he says awful things about everyone he doesn't like and/or respect.  He's certainly not just picking on women and I don't think he's necessarily being a misogynist there- he's just horrible to a lot of people.  He does used gendered language a lot of the time when he's talking about women which is a problem, but I think there's a much bigger and more troublesome reason that illustrates his misogyny.  He objectifies women.  We have no value unless we are doing something to help him.  For Trump, men are worthy of respect if they are strong leaders, tough negotiators, fighters- things that have nothing to do with Trump. He considers women worthy of respect if he perceives them as increasing his own value and that, my friends, is appalling. He's not a misogynist because he says mean things about women, it's because he sees no value in women except as they relate to him.

There is so much more here than the Supreme Court.

27 May 2016

DC Bests

So, it's easy to find things to do in DC since there are so many monuments and museums that are well worth visiting.  But if you visit the city more often, there's a lot more to see than war memorials and Smithsonian museums.  Here are some of my best lists in DC, in no particular order.

My top five of all the things to do in DC:
  • Anacostia (Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Anacostia Neighborhood Heritage Trail, Anacostia Community Museum)
  • Alleys (Hughes Mews and Snows Court in Foggy Bottom, Georgetown alleys, Blagden Alley and Naylor Court in Shaw, F Street Terrace in Barracks Row, etc.)
  • National Building Museum historical building tour- this was one of the best tours we have ever been on anywhere in the world
  • MLK Library for the Washingtonia Collection
  • Cherry blossoms at the site where a tree was cut down after Pearl Harbor

Top Five Smithsonians:
  • Renwick Galley
  • American Indian Museum
  • Sackler and Freer Galleries
  • American History Museum
  • Anacostia Community Museum

Top Five Neighborhood Heritage Trails (besides Anacostia):

Top Five Annual Events:
  • EU Embassies' Open House (second weekend in May) and the Around the World Embassy Tour (first weekend in May)
  • Family days/holiday events at individual Smithsonians (Dia de los Muertos, Holiday events at the beginning of December, Family Days in the summer at the Air and Space Musuem, etc.)
  • Cherry Blossoms when it isn't crowded 
  • National Christmas Tree
  • So many street festivals

Places I love or that have great stories that you don't hear much about:
  • Boundary Stones 
  • Larz Anderson House (tour)- this is one of the few houses you can go in all the time on Embassy Row and it's a great house with lots of history and a good tour
  • Lithuanian Embassy- (there's a sign in front of the building with its interesting history)
  • Peirce Mill (milling demonstrations on 2nd and 4th Saturdays, midday, except in winter)
  • Georgetown and Alexandria colonial-era places to visit
  • Octagon House (self-guided free tours)
  • Fort Washington (visiting info, free)
  • Washington City Canal Lockkeeper's House (17th and Constitution- read the signs)
  • Civil War forts all over and around the city- try Fort Stevens for a taste
  • Lincoln Cottage (this doesn't seem to be all that popular, maybe because the house tour is fairly expensive for a family, but you can see the house from the outside and go in the worthwhile museum for free)
  • US Botanic Garden- go at all different times of the year
  • Cavalry Baptist Church (designed by Adolph Cluss)
  • Grant Road Historic District- one of the few country roads remaining after L'Enfant's grid was extended to the suburbs
  • Striver's Section (brochure)
  • 1727 S Street NW
  • Eastern Market (closed Mondays) or any of the other old public markets like Georgetown Market (now Dean & DeLuca), Central Market (razed for the National Archives), etc.
  • Ben's Chili Bowl
  • Site of Schneider’s Hardware, beginning of Berman v. Parker (west side of 4th Street SW between G and I)
  • Old Mormon chapel on 16th street- fossils!
  • National Cathedral
  • Sixth and I synagogue
  • 437 Seventh St NW- Clara Barton office (and read the sign for the story)
  • Ninth and F NW alley- John Wilkes Booth escape
  • 604 H St NW- Mary Surratt's boardinghouse

25 May 2016


One of my favorite things we did when we were here in DC last time was the Embassy open houses.  Last time we did the EU embassies and this time we did the regular weekend.  Since the embassies on Massachusetts have huge long lines and we don't like waiting in huge long lines, we went off the beaten path to see Gabon, Saudi Arabia, Dominican Republic, Afghanistan, Albania, and Barbados for a lovely time.  I hope we'll be here again in May someday.

24 May 2016

The Final List

So here's our final list of (mostly) chronological DC field trips.  35 field trips in 8 months.  We did a good job and learned so much.

We also read Empire of Mud and Washington: A History of Our National City which is the most boring title ever for a very interesting book.

My son is also writing a final research paper about the impact of redevelopment, displacement, and property rights in DC with a focus on Southwest DC and the currently proposed Barry Farm redevelopment.

1. Georgetown and Alexandria
2. Capitol and Library of Congress
3. White House and surrounding area
4. Rock Creek area (also, see this)
5. Washington City Canal, Navy Yard, and Congressional Cemetery
6. Washington Monument and Smithsonian Castle
7. Fort Washington
8. Downtown Heritage Trail
9. White House tour
10. Anacostia Museum and SE forts
11. Fort Stevens and the Lincoln Cottage
12. Ford's Theater, Petersen House, east loop of downtown heritage trail
13. Washington Monument and Adolf Cluss
14. Renwick Gallery
15. Tenleytown
16. Barracks Row Trail and the National Building Museum
17. Georgia Ave Trail
18. Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
19. Greater H Street Trail
20. MLK Library, Washingtoniana Collection
21. Dupont Circle
22. Federal Triangle trail
23. Logan Circle
24. National Cathedral
25. Adams Morgan
26. Cherry Blossoms
27. U Street
28. Lincoln Memorial, Watergate, and Hughes Mews and Snows Court
29. Georgetown Alleys
30. Mt. Pleasant 
31. Anacostia 
32. Shaw 
33. Anacostia Museum
34. Columbia Heights
35. Southwest

Southwest Walk

I think this might have been our last field trip for the year. This DC history class has been amazing.

I'd put this walk in my top five of DC heritage walks.  It includes a bit of colonial/federal history, some industrial history (even though you can't see it anymore), slavery history since the Pearl left from the waterfront here, and then plenty to learn about race, poverty, politics, property, and government.  And some architecture too.

Anacostia Community Museum

I went back to the Anacostia Museum with my son on a rainy day when we didn't have a lot of time for a field trip to see their exhibit on DC from 1963-1975.  It truly is one of the most interesting exhibits ever and I love that museum.  It's too bad many people don't go to Anacostia very often.

23 May 2016

Columbia Heights Heritage Trail

I think this is another important DC walk to do since it highlights the city's diversity north of downtown.

22 May 2016

Stuff I've Been Thinking About While I've Been Busy with Life

-Bathrooms. If you are concerned about this, have you actually read the letter from the Obama administration?  Nowhere in the letter does it ask public schools to allow children to arbitrarily go into any bathroom they wish.  Instead, it lays out guidelines for schools on how to accommodate children who identify themselves, either personally or through their parents, as transgender to school administrators. The letter states that girls, including transgender girls, use the girls bathroom.  Boys, including transgender boys, use the boys bathroom.  It does not allow boys to use the girls bathroom or locker room.  In addition to other guidelines, it states that harassment of transgender students cannot be tolerated.

I think the reaction to this letter has been misleading and disproportionate. It would have been a disappointing reaction if it weren't unexpected.

-The Republican Party.  I used to be a Republican but couldn't identify myself as one by the time George W. Bush's presidency was over.  And then the Tea Party happened.  And the government shutdown. And now Trump.  Even if I'd managed to hang on until now, it would be over.  I admire Republicans who will not endorse Trump or who won't commit to voting for "the party's nominee."  I get the difference.  I  also get that no nominee is perfect and every time you vote, you're voting for some positions you disagree with.  But if you vote for the Republican nominee, you are really voting for an actual human being named Trump who has, based on the day and the audience, promoted some extremely troubling policies, many of which can be implemented without oversight by executive fiat. You're also voting for someone who is running on fear, intolerance, hate, xenophobia, bigotry, greed, pride, obfuscation, and willful ignorance, none of which should define the Republican Party.

-Religious freedom.  I'm still not seeing the problem that some religious people are seeing.  I still have the right to believe what I want, to go to church where I want to, to not be religious if I don't want to be, and so much more.  Religious institutions don't have to follow discrimination laws in hiring, Churches don't have to marry anyone they don't want to.

I don't want to see religious freedom elevated above all other rights.  If a person incorporates a business, they need to follow all discrimination laws, not just the ones they agree with.  If we allowed people to opt out of discrimination laws because of strongly-held beliefs, I honestly don't think that civil rights would ever had happened in the US because there was such strong opposition, including religious opposition to it.  There still is in some circles, and we still hear people saying that it should be okay for businesses to deny service to anyone they want to (and I can't help pointing out that a lot of those same people seem to think they should be able to conceal carry wherever they want to, including private businesses).

There are a lot of different rights here to balance.  If someone loses their job because they belong to a church that doesn't support gay marriage, I have a problem with that, just like I have a problem with someone losing their job because they married their gay partner.  Discrimination laws are worth supporting because they stop both things from happening.  I'd rather see the focus on making sure everyone can live their lives without fear or discrimination rather than worrying about people disagreeing with beliefs.  Disagreement =/= discrimination or persecution.

16 May 2016

LDS Refugee Relief Effort

A friend of mine and I have worked on gathering a lot of different resources and ideas for participating with the church's new relief effort.  Here's the link to the Google doc.


Please do something in your ward or your home or on your own to support this.

05 May 2016

Shaw Heritage Trail

This is another important DC trail because it documents so much African-American history.  Also, Blagden Alley and Naylor Court.

04 May 2016

Rolled Baklava

A friend of mine taught me this version of baklava that she learned from her sister's mother-in-law who from Greece a few miles from the border with Turkey.  I love to learn regional variations of different dishes and this is a good one.  I really should post recipes for layered baklava and for the Turkic versions from further east with thicker layers of dough.

This is just a basic outline of how it's done.

Grind lots of walnuts with cinnamon- 1 T of cinnamon for every cup of walnuts (or whatever nuts you're using).  Preheat the oven to 375.

Stack three sheets of phyllo (no buttering, just stacking) then sprinkle on some walnuts- 1 tablespoon per sheet if your phyllo sheets aren't huge.  Roll it up from the short end, then cut the dough into 1.5-inch pieces.  Stand them up in a buttered baking dish and keep going till it's full.

Meanwhile, start heating lots of butter.  It will need to be very hot and will brown. Just don't let it burn.  Once the baking dish is full, blob a bit of very hot butter onto each roll.  If the butter doesn't sizzle when you do that, heat it more.  After all the rolls have been buttered and sizzled, stick the dish in the oven and bake for 30 minutes till they're golden.

While they're baking, combine 2 parts water and 1 part sugar and simmer it to make syrup. It should boil down quite a bit.  After the baklava comes out of the oven, spoon a blop of syrup onto each roll and you're done.

As with all baklava, it's better the next day but you can also eat it right away.