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Thursday, June 30, 2011

All Aboard the Sooooooooul Train

Questlove: From drummer to DJ
Now here's a neat benefit to moving to the DC area - a chance to participate free in the hippest trip in America.

Tonight we loaded up our Smartrip cards, boarded the Metro, and headed to the National Mall for a Soul Train Dance party to kick off The Smithsonian's 2011 Folklife Festival, which this year features Columbia, The Peace Corps, and, in preparation for the new African-American Museum, American Rhythm and Blues.

Following a panel discussion about the historical significance and impact of the long-running TV program on Black culture, Questlove, drummer for The Roots, served as DJ while former Soul Train dancers led the crowd through many Soul Train favorites, including the famous free-form line dances. The only thing missing was the baritone intros from Afro-haired host Don Cornelius, who was represented by his son.

Dancing was definitely the thing for those of all ages and I can now factually say that I danced the Funky Chicken with the Soul Train dancers.  A great night of peace, love, and soul.

Do Do Do Do, Do Do Do Do

William Shatner encounters his gremlin
Those of us of a certain age remember one of the most famous episodes of The Twilight Zone which featured a gremlin terrorizing a pre-Captain Kirk William Shatner from an airplane wing.  Well, if I didn't know better, I might think the grandson of that gremlin has taken up residency in our new Crystal Plaza apartment.

Instead of airplanes, however, this gremlin has targeted my electronics, most of which have decided to take a break from operating properly.  Here's a partial list of the electronic Nightmare at 704N:
  • No reds on our new HD TV (fixed by tightening a chord)
  • No OnDemand Comcast service (now on day 3 of cable guys trying to rectify the problem)
  • A squeezebox music player that refuses to recognize our router
  • A printer which decided to beome hopelessly jammed and had to be dispatched to the old printer graveyard.
  • An android phone which shut itself off in an effort to become brand new again (however some cursing and a couple of hours of reprogramming did make it better than before)
  • A sticking space bar which makes it really hard to type this blog post.
And, of course, it doesn't help to have a technophobe wife constantly remarking "You spent how much on that stuff and it doesn't even work."  Well, I suppose I could join Judy in wishing that we still had a rotary dial phone, but I think I'll just keep plugging away trying to get this stuff to work.  After all, everyone loves a challenge, right?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Catching Up with Dead (and Live) Presidents

When I started thinking seriously about retirement, I knew I wanted to spend a fair portion of my time learning. I figured I would attend some book talks or lectures, or maybe sit in on a college class or two. But last night at the Arlington library, I discovered by accident a new plan where I could improve my knowledge of American history by using the free resources there.

While I know quite a bit about selective periods of America's past, I am woefully under informed about the background of almost all the presidents before John F. Kennedy.  So, when I found the book Inventing George Washington: America's Founder, in Myth and Memory by Washington scholar Edward G. Lengel on the shelves, an idea struck me. I decided to spend the next year reading one book about each of our American presidents in the order in which they served from Washington to Dwight Eisenhower.

 After all, what could provide a better arm-chair historic view of my new DC home than the stories of the men who lived in the city's most noted house.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I'm Getting Closer to My Home

Dave Matthews in AC to say goodbye to me
I suppose you could say today - Tuesday June 28th - marks the first real day of our new residency in the Crystal City section of Arlington, Virginia.  While it's true my wife Judy and I began renting our apartment the Thursday before Memorial Day, we had to return to our former city of  Bridgeton, New Jersey to have settlement on our home and for me to finish my teaching career at the local high school. Those two-plus weeks were followed by a final week at the Jersey shore including a 3-day visit to the Dave Matthews Band Caravan in Atlantic City.

So that all leads to my claim that our wakeup today should be considered the real start of our new life of retirement in the DC area.

And three events today certainly emphasized that point.  First, I received my Arlington County library card in the mail. Secondly, I subscribed to The Washington Post from a phone solicitor. Finally, on our walk tonight we spied the Washington Monument across the Potomac. And while our walks in Bridgeton were nice, we never saw anything like that there..

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