Peacock Room Remix

We recently visited Darren Waterston’s Filthy Lucre, an art installation at the Smithsonian Freer/Sackler Gallery based on the Peacock Room and the related conflict between James McNeill Whistler and Frederick Richards Leyland. Core to the installation is the “Peacock Room Remix”, a twisted clone of the original Peacock Room, altered, smashed, shattered, bent and broken. I tried taking panoramas of both rooms to show the differences.

Peacock Rooms

My pano doesn’t do the Remix justice, however. It’s an immersively unsettling experience to be there — and not just because you have to be careful not to step on the broken porcelain. I think the Smithsonian should totally acquire “Filthy Lucre” for their permanent collection and just randomly swap out the original Peacock Room with the Remix at random times of year.

Marriage Equality

As a US citizen born under the 14th Amendment and as a socially liberal progressive Baptist who came around to an egalitarian view on LGBT rights, I was happy to hear of the Supreme Court’s decision on
Obergefell v. Hodges
legalizing marriage equality nationwide, for the sake of friends who’ve dealt with discrimination on this front. I won’t retread lengthy old arguments on how being LGBT-friendly is compatible with Christianity; suffice it to say that modern homosexuality is very different from that condemned in Scripture, and acceptance of equality is undoubtedly the loving act in this context. I do want to update my old links on this topic with some fresh material:

Slow Motion Metro

Inspired in part by Adam Magyar’s slow motion videos of people on subway platforms, I tried pointing my iPhone 5s slow motion camera at passing trains while waiting for transfers on the DC Metro. Mobile slow motion is nowhere near the quality of Magyar’s hardware, so there’s blurring as the train gains speed, but the scene of people standing almost still while the train is in movement gives the impression of statues going places.

I also caught the new 7000-series WMATA train on the Blue Line:

Cat Licks Apple in Slow Motion

Amelia Cat likes apples and will eagerly lick at an apple slice or core if offered one. (Don’t let cats at the apple seeds, though; they can be harmful to pets if eaten.) Here’s Amelia licking an apple in slow motion, recorded at 120FPS with an iPhone 5s.

Older video, same thing, from last year:

On the Harassment of Women and Dwarves

“Don’t Look Down On Me” is Jonathan Novick’s documentary about the social travails of living with achondroplasia, or dwarfism. Passersby call out disparaging names, random strangers strike up conversations to bring up predictable stereotypes, and of course the “m-word” is addressed.

“10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman,” a viral video for Hollaback, documents just how much casual harassment a woman tolerates constantly in the city: a relentless texture of cultural pressure and male dominance all masquerading as “just saying hi”, again and again and again.

Don’t harass people.

Shenandoah National Park (May 2015)

Saturday was a perfect day to go back up to Shenandoah over the weekend for a few short hikes: the super-easy Limberlost Trail, a walk around Big Meadows, and the upper trail to Hawksbill Summit.

The Limberlost Trail is a flat crushed-gravel path through what used to be a hemlock forest, a very accessible hike through some lush nature, with lots of wildlife if you walk at the right time. We were there in the late morning so all we saw were a chipmunk and a duskywing butteryfly on some wildflowers. Lots of ferns, too.

Continue reading Shenandoah National Park (May 2015)

Amtrak Derailment

Deadly train derailment in Philadelphia has brought US rail infrastructure into focus again, and why Amtrak cannot thrive in a culture and political environment that values individualism, cars, and highways over train travel — a collective action that somehow threatens personal liberty.

Washington Post’s derailment map visualization shows where the train sped too fast around a curve. Ongoing NTSB investigation here.

A survivor’s story.

WW2 Flyover

It’s not everyday you get to see a 1940s B-29 Superfortress named “FIFI” fly right over DC’s National Mall; one of many historic planes to join in the World War II Flyover last week.

World War 2 Flyover

I was working at NASA HQ in SW DC at the time so I walked outside with thousands of others to the Capitol over lunch break to witness the event. It was an amazing sight: wave after wave of historic planes flying in formation for an hour, Mustangs, Corsairs, Hellcats, B-25 Mitchells such as those that flew the Doolittle raids, and yes, FIFI.

World War 2 Flyover
World War 2 Flyover
World War 2 Flyover
World War 2 Flyover
World War 2 Flyover

I also got some video but it wasn’t great.

My Full WW2 Flyover photo album here, and also see Samer Farha’s photos from Rosslyn, and Djenno Bacvic’s composite of all the planes in the flyover.


Got to see some rare mammatus clouds over Herndon earlier this week: round, pouchlike formations caused by damp, unstable air sinking below storm clouds.

Mammatus clouds over Herndon

I also tried getting a timelapse video, but somehow it didn’t seem quite so spectacular in motion:

More info on mammatus clouds.