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Monday, November 11, 2013


The above photo of retired General Eric Shinseki (the Washington Post had a long article today on His Mission to Mend) and Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama on Veteran's Day at the site of the Tomb of the Unknowns, exactly where I stood a couple of days ago.

Lunch today was at Tosca, an excellent Italian restaurant close to the Willard, hosted by Claudia and Suresh Patil, who was a colleague of mine on the Manoa Campus:

I had a mushroom and black truffle risotto:

It was good, but nothing like my white truffle risotto I had in Rome a few years ago, which is the best dish of anything I've had in my life.  I brought a bottle of Stanford Alumni Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon to Tosca.

I then went to the most popular Smithsonian, the Air and Space Museum.  There are nineteen museums and galleries, pluls the National Zoo.  Seventeen are in DC, with eleven along the National Mall.  They are open every day but Christmas, and are all free.  While the Louvre in Paris draws the most visitors (8.8 million annually), the National Air and Space Museum is #2 with 8.3 million (about the annual visitor count for Hawaii) and National Museum of Natural History (which I toured yesterday) is #3.  

I did say that these museums are free, but there is a charge for special events, like the 3D IMAX story about fixing the Hubble Telescope, which is $8 for seniors.  IMAX is an abbreviation for IMage MAXimization, was developed by a Canadian company and was first demonstrated at the Osaka 1970 Expo.  There are now 697 IMAX screens in 52 countries.  Here are a few photos I took, slightly fuzzy because the film was in 3D:

Actually, I was surprised as to how clear these shots developed, as, when viewing the video without my 3D goggles, everything looks out of focus.  I don't know if this was my imagination, but I noticed that the middle photo of Hubble looked a bit clearer with the goggles, which I borrowed for this experiment.  For the record, Edwin Hubble would have been 124 next week if he were still alive.  He was the first to postulate that the Universe is expanding.

Something tells me that I have finally attained classical curmudgeon status, for I feel compelled to say that our national museums are getting old and stale, sort of like the Willard Hotel and St. Regis in DC.  I guess I mostly like new things: shiny and sparkling and high tech.  While there is a lot to be said for preserving history and maintaining tradition, some major makeovers can be recommended for the national museums I visited on this trip.

Let me close with a photo of the Washington Monument, and a note that the re-opening will be some time next year.

While Veteran's day in our Nation's Capital was mostly sunny, with highs approaching 60 F, I'm glad to be leaving DC in two days because the weatherman hinted that tomorrow morning could experience the first snowfall of the year.

But, ah, the day was not over.  I went next door to Occidental Grill and Seafood for dinner and started with a Prosecco, the smallest cup of tomato soup I've ever seen and a large pan of corn bread:

I then ordered three beginnings: a blue cheese wedgie, parmesan crusted broccolini and seared foie gras:

I'm having lunch here with Kerry Kehoe of NOAA tomorrow to talk about the future of OTEC.


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