Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Center of the Universe

Do you ever feel like if you just sat in one place for long enough most the world would pass in front of you? I have such a place. This place has held the distinction (in my opinion) as the "Center of the Universe" for a quite awhile. Where is that place? The top of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

While on a trip to Washington this week, I took the long way back to the hotel and walked from the Capitol back to my hotel in Foggy Bottom. Some may view this as crazy. Remember I am from Minnesota. It was pushing 75° and sunny. I puposely shunned fashion and wore sensible (yet syltish) walking shoes just in case the opportunity arose. Lunch on the Hill with favorite neighbors from Mt. Vernon followed by a meeting at the Smithsonian Castle. Would you want to jam yourself onto the metro if you had just endured yet another long, subzero winter and you had the chance to walk a couple of miles in the sunshine? Walking beat out the Metro.

While walking back to my hotel, I avoided the jam packed WWII Memorial and instead took a quiet side trail over to the Vietnam Memorial. This is an incredibly moving Memorial and worth quiet contemplation, unless you are surrounded by packs of 8th graders trekking through yet another DC tourist site on their Spring Break trip. Onto the Lincoln Memorial.

I almost did not even stop. The steps were loaded with tourists. But figuring the proximity, I had to visit.

Despite signs posted to "Be Quiet" the Lincoln Memorial was a typical, loud sea of humanity with the majority of languages spoken not English. I actually love the Lincoln Memorial exactly for this reason. This IS America...people of all walks of life coming together in one place to pay tribute to the 16th President of the US. Or to take a selfie in front of him. This is America. Look east to the end of the Mall and there is the Washington Monument with the scaffold-wrapped U.S. Capitol in the distance. To the West lies Robert E. Lee's plantation (now the Arlington National Cemetary) and the Potomac River.

This is where we all come together. If you visit DC, visit the Lincoln Memorial. Day or night, this memorial is specatucuar for so many reasons. Read Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address inscribed on the north wall, stop and rest on the steps, look at the view, and think of what America truly means.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

It Is Madness

March Madness is living up to its name. I like a good basketball game just as much as any other chic Mom, but the NCAA March Madness tournament is a bit much for the casual observer. Not only are these games playing constantly on every television in the house, but they are also on the radio and online. You can follow live tweets on Twitter. College basketball games are on a third of the TVs at the health club. A Minnesota food chain/sports bar—Buffalo Wild Wings—must have everyone of their floor to ceiling and wall-to-wall TVs tuned into the games. Inescapable.

After being immersed in March madness every March for as long as I can remember I finally broke down and helped fill out the bracket for the Humanities Center where I work. Seems that we are in a bit of a competition with other Humanities Centers around the US. Bet you did not know that folks who work in the Humanities were so competitive when it comes to basketball. We're not actually. It is all madness, and we got sucked in with the lure of the $1 million pot, having no formulas or theories for choosing our pool teams.

My small contribution was choosing the two teams I have actually seen play live on a basketball court—Wisconsin and Georgetown. Seems Georgetown was eliminated early on, but Wisconsin is still alive and winning their game at the moment. I'm not sure how much money is on the table for the winner of the state Humanities Councils pool, but I'm in.

How many more weeks are left of March Madness? Too many, but maybe Wisconsin will keep winning. Unless I've jinxed them by writing this post.

Go Badgers!