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Family Trip to Washington DC for Veteran’s Weekend – Newseum, Capitol, the Mall & Smithsonian by Ann Treacy
November 10, 2019, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Washington DC

This weekend Aine, Auntie Katie, Bridie, Grandma, Grandpa and I all headed to Washington DC for a super quick trip over Veteran’s Weekend. It’s been a whirlwind!

We started yesterday with a walk past the Ruth Bader Ginsburg mural on the way to the Newseum, a museum dedicated to news. It’s funny, sad and informative. Most of all it’s an important reminder of the integral role journalism and the media play in our democracy – for better and for ill. From Washington Post (and several TC newspaper articles) to Twitter, the Newseum recognizes the importance of freedom of information inherent in the five promises in the First Amendment: free of the press, speech, assembly, religion and petition.

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, we got to touch a piece of the wall and see some old school German graffiti. And 50 years after the original Stonewall riots, we got to learn about day the actions that led up to that day and the progress we’ve made as a country is civil rights and sexual preference and identification. (Hopefully we’ll continue to make strides!)

The 911 exhibits were chilling. I shouldn’t admit but I remember little of that day – in part because with two sleeping babies upstairs and my work downstairs, I was oblivious until much later in the morning. We did remember that Grandpa was in DC at the time – heading to the Pentagon. Luckily Grandpa has always had a cell/car phone so we were able to reach him. But it was scary. Juxtapose that with the late night section featuring Jon Stewart, James Cordon, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah and others. It’s easy to see why we need a filtered view of what’s happening these days.

Pro Tip: The Newseum is slated to close at the end of the year. It’s worth a trip if your in DC.

After the Newseum, some of us headed to the US Capitol. We got there 2 minutes before the last tour stated. We didn’t exactly get an insider’s view of the building but we saw the glitz and glamour. It is a pretty amazing building. We learned that each state gets two statues. We saw a lot of them – but not the ones from Minnesota. Also, a nod to the pretty decent orientation video on “e pluribus unum” – out of many one on the idea of America being/needing to debate together to get to one voice.

Then one of us hiked back to the AirBNB. I love a hustled walk in a city like DC. Such a treat – especially when it seems so much warmer than home.

We ended the day at Bristrot du Coin. I’m just going to say – foie gras, paté, crème brule, salmon, mussels, champagne cocktail… So yummy and we got a quiet table in an otherwise bustling location.

Day two was the family-selfie tour of The Mall.

We picked the perfect day to spend outside. It was almost 60 degrees, in the sun. We started at the WWII Memorial. As we arrived a series of marching bands showed up. So we got to hear some touching songs and a speech recognizing the service of Vets. It was very nice.

Next up – the Lincoln Memorial – with a special stop at the “I have a Dream” memento on the steps where Martin Luther King Jr stood to give that speech. We learned that 37 people fall down the stairs to the Memorial each day. Pleased to report that we weren’t part of that statistic – on this trip. We checked out the Korean War Memorial and Vietnam Memorial. I like how these memorials recognize the personal sacrifice in a way that the WWII doesn’t. I think in the 1940s there may have been greater internal connection between individual and state (or nation), I’m not sure that’s there in the same way. Subsequently, featuring the soldiers coming out of the woods (Korean) or names of the deceased soldiers (Vietnam) is a nice touch back to the soldier as individual.

We took a walk down The Mall to the Smithsonian for American History. We trekked through to see our favorite things – the ruby red slippers, first lady dresses and a few techie things for me. DC is very fun – but it’s hard to be here when we are so divided as a people. For example, hard not to judge the reaction to the First Lady dresses. I love Michelle Obama, I have room for Nancy Reagan, love to hear about how Dolley Madison held parties to bridge hard topics but I wonder about the people swooning over the most current addition. I’m not necessarily proud of that; wish I saw a road to change it.

Our last gasp was the Sculpture Garden. I’m a sucker for a good Sculpture Garden. I walked through it just a month ago when I was in town to present at the First Native Broadband conference but always more fun to tour with family. Even if some of the family is super tired and ready for a rest.

The trip isn’t over quite yet – we’re resting up in Baltimore waiting for a crab-cake forward dinner before we fly out in the morning.

Going deep into the Department of the Interior – and a few obvious stops in Washington DC by Ann Treacy
September 24, 2019, 2:15 pm
Filed under: Washington DC

Day two of my work trip to DC. I survived moderating the first panel of the day. (Again I followed FCC Chair Pai.) Actually it was fun to hear about what folks are doing to build and use broadband on tribal lands. I’m always impressed with the champions of deployment who go from knowing nothing about broadband to knowing every nuance – because they have to. It’s like me learning how to build a car – just so I can drive it.

During a break I checked out the library at the Department of the interior. The had a exhibit on Women’s Suffrage. I’ll share the best and worst of it below. I feel like voter suppression supporters might use the same postcard today. Maybe not publicly – but internally. So scary and a good reminder to protect the rights we have!

Then I saw the weirdest grandfather clock ever. Apparently it was a gift to a former librarian – from her brother. It apparently exemplified her personality. It is shells and that fantastic demon face glued onto a grandfather clock. It almost makes me wish I had time to be crafty. (I;m also including the coolest shoes I’ve seen so far – beaded sneakers.)

Then I had lunchtime and post-conference daylight to catch some usual DC sites. I’m a big fan of Hirshorn – where much of the arty sculpture comes from (as opposed to the government/historical stuff.)

Finally I enjoyed a drink and the view at the W Hotel rooftop bar.

Quick trip to Washington DC – where I present with FCC Chair Pai by Ann Treacy
September 23, 2019, 12:13 am
Filed under: Washington DC

I’m not sure how I got here – but I am giving a couple presentations and moderating a panel at the National Tribal Broadband Summit in Washington DC. I start my day tomorrow moderating a session 20 minutes after FCC Chari Ajit Pai speaks. Mucky muck city.

But today I arrived early afternoon and I had a few hours to walk the streets for about 9 miles. I start with a visit to free festival at John F Kennedy Performance Center. It was fun to get in and check out the place.

Then it was a walk down the Mall. I decided I should try to check out anything that might be closed when I have time to walk around later in the week. So I checked out the Smithsonian. I had to check out the Ruby Reds – of course and the Wonder Woman costume. And I was obliged to check out the technology/phone stuff for work.

After that I started on a hike to find the Ruth Bader Ginsburg mural that popped up last week. It’s weird to be here and have no interest in visiting the White House, despite the fact that I’m staying about 3 blocks away. So it’s nice to have something to replace it – the RBG mural. But on the way to the mural I passed the National Museum of Women in the Arts – or rather, I didn’t pass, I stopped in.

They were showing Judy Chicago’s The End juxtaposed with Live Dangerously a collective with 12 women artists. No photos allowed – but it was a striking look at different views of death.

Live Dangerously shows dozens of photos from all over the world. in which there’s one woman lying as if dead in each one. As patron, I felt removed and even desensitized to the deaths, yet fascinated. Where Chicago has several parts to her exhibit that makes death very personal. There are a series of drawings that asks – how will I die? Asking things like – Will I die screaming in pain, in the arms of a loved one…  From desensitized to worrying about my own demise. Then she used the same process and drawing style to highlight extinct animals.  A heavy show!

From there to the big hike to RBG. It was fun to walk away from the Mall, to get a view of a part of the city I don’t know well. Then when I get there – super treat, there were several murals. Now – if I get any free time in the next couple days I will be tracking down every #DCMural I can find.

Flutag 2019 by Ann Treacy
September 8, 2019, 12:37 am
Filed under: St Paul

We went to the Flutag in 2010, the last time it was in St Paul. It felt like there were a million people. This year it was colder and less sunny and less crowded. But still so much fun to watch the competitors “fly” off the 30 foot jump in their man-made flying machines!

Last day in Dublin spent down memory lane in Cabinteely by Ann Treacy
August 23, 2019, 11:08 am
Filed under: Dublin

The last day of Dublin is always rough. I start getting nervous about the flight – and how to get there, and did we leave the AirBNB nice enough. (A quick aside, we now know of a super awesome place to stay in Dublin if you need one!) And it’s a little sad to leave and a little happy to be going home. And we left Lily behind for a few days and we’ll miss her.

So to add emotion to nerves and extreme fatigue we went to Cabinteely where we used to live with the girls’ Irish Grandma. The house has been entirely redone. It looks really nice but it’s different. The park (Kilbogget) across the street looks the same. It is a nice park, mostly for soccer and rugby but there’s a nice walking path and a few playgrounds. The view is spectacular. You can the Dublin and Wicklow Mountains.

We went into the Cabinteely village to check out the library. (No pun intended.) There was a day when I thought we had read every book on those shelves. It’s still a nice library. There was a knitting club meeting while we visited, lots of little kids and an older gentleman reading the newspaper. Then we had lunch at the Italian, which was a favorite back in the day. The we finished the visit at Cabinteely Park, which really is a world class park. The girls played on the playground equipment they loved as kids. I always thought the playground equipment in Ireland seemed like more fun that American playgrounds. I was going to say that’s probably my imagine, but it’s probably less stringent safety rules.

We also went up to see the art by the manor. Cabinteely is the home of the giant hopper used for the old Irish Sweepstakes. So there’s that.

At night, Kate went to Dun Laoghaire to visit friends, which meant she took the train there and back alone. And lived to tell the tale! So that’s good. And Lily took the rest of us to dinner, which was entirely unexpected. We went to the Port House tapas bar on South William Street. It is one of my favorite restaurants in the world. Great food. Great buzz about the place. Feels like you’re in a cave. A few pints later and now we’re at the airport – in the American sin bin. You go through pre-clearance in Dublin and then they send you to a corner of the airport. It means a lot of security passes, multiple queues for showing your boarding pass and immigration and then a very adequate place to wait. (Although I’ll be having a beer in 20 mins so might feel differently in an hour!)

Science Gallery introduces us to the biometric age – and we meet more friends by Ann Treacy
August 22, 2019, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Dublin

Started the day off meeting a long time friend, Gary Murphy. It’s always great to see Gary and it feel like no time has passed since last we met. We talked about his theater work, politics, life and health (which is an indication that we are no longer 20) and everything. It was great to catch up.

Then the girls and I went to the Science Gallery, which remains one of my favorite places in the world! The exhibit was called Perfection. The girls learned a ton about DNA and genetic modification. The gallery does such a nice job of combining science and art to make a lot a data and info more accessible and interesting. We each stepped into the biometric mirror. It uses algorithms to assess your personality and general facts about you. For example, my biometric age is 44. So I’m going with that now. (Note: will need to update my driver’s license when I get home!) It also gives you a score for happiness, kindness, aggression and other feelings or qualities. Then – the mirror uses your picture to produce a more perfect you. I’m going to post all of the pictures for the process below:

After the Science Gallery we went back to the National Gallery. I think it’s genius that the museums are free here. (MIA is free at home too, which is nice!) But it makes it so easy to stop in anytime and people grow up closer to art and history. Then we went shopping at the secondhand stores, saw some more street art.

We met the girls’ Uncle Fearghal for dinner, which was very nice. Fearghal used to take us (and their Irish Grandma) out to lunch and usually an adventure every Sunday. He is the reason we got to see most things we saw outside of the Dublin County limits. While we always had fun, I imagine there were some Sunday mornings where Uncle Fearghal might have preferred an extra hour of sleep to toting people to the Bog of Allen or New Grange.

We ended the night with a few pints at the local pub.

Climbed a mountain today – or at least Killiney Hill; Saw a new play at the Abbey by Ann Treacy
August 21, 2019, 8:43 am
Filed under: Dublin

Today we headed to the Northside – me the girls and a friend from Lily’s college who is here at the same time. We took the DART (great for views) to Killiney to check out the beach and then climb Killiney Hill. It’s another activity that was pretty popular with us when we lived here. It turns out the girls are not in the same good condition they were back in the day. There was a lot of huffing, puffing and pausing on the way to the top but one we made it the views were worth it. Even after it started to rain.

After the big climb, we headed to lunch in Dalkey. There is nothing better than seafood chowder after a big walk. The we walked around Dalkey, especially it see Dalkey Island. We were horrified to see people jumping from from a high wall into the sea. First, the wall was too high. Second, the sea is too cold. But I had to share some pictures of strangers jumping.

Also went to dinner and the Abbey with Tony Roche and Katy Hayes. They were very, very good to us when we lived here before so it was nice to catch up. It’s fun to hear how families change and flourish; they all seem to be doing well. And we went to opening night of The Hunger at the Abbey. (Katy writes reviews for the Irish Independent. I can’t want to see her review.)

It is an opera, here’s a brief description from the website

Asenath Nicholson travelled in Ireland and provided relief to starving people during the Great Famine. Her harrowing first-person account Annals of the Famine in Ireland forms the basis of this extraordinary opera by Donnacha Dennehy, composer of the award-winning The Last Hotel and The Second Violinist. Director Tom Creed makes his debut on the Abbey stage with the European premiere of a moving and thrilling new work.

It as if someone put the exact words of her account to music; she is reporting and commenting on the state, especially of a father who has brought a dying child to town, looking for relief/support. The father sings his reaction to his story. And occasionally experts from the field appear on multimedia screens to offer social and academic commentary.

The music isn’t drone – I almost wish it had been because that would be interesting to me but it is repetitive, sometimes cacophonous sometimes dramatic. More palatable for a wider audience but like drone, it’s not as easy to listen to, it requires more work from the audience. That mixed with the operatic singing is an interesting juxtaposition. As one of my friends said, dying isn’t very dramatic on stage. And while the show is barely over an hour, it seems long. But I assume that’s by design. It puts the audience in the middle of the famine. It’s bleak, it’s seemingly never-ending. (Or in the case of the dying daughter, she dies right before the father gets money.)  The themes are compelling.

The commentary highlights the economics and morality of famine versus free market economy. Some opinions: If the British had invested in jobs and job training versus workhouses, the outcome may have been different. Giving to grand scope tragedies like this is futile, because there isn’t enough money to make a difference. And of course giving money to the poor, means the rich get less. Some of the rich feel that it’s a meritocracy – that the poor are someone deserving of their plight or are at least not deserving of something better.

It makes me think of my time spent helping Monica advocate for the homeless in the Twin Cities. Is it futile to give? Will the rich be unwilling to give up renting luxury apartments in lieu of affordable housing? I also couldn’t help but think of the families and the children on the US-Mexican border. How can we continue to watch people die before we decide to make a difference?

The play brings up George Thompson, a British abolitionist who toured the US to lecture about the role American played in the perpetuation of slavery. Such an interesting choice. Tied to the video commentary in the play. A lot so questions arise, observations are made – now it is up to the audience to be inspired to action.

The audience didn’t riot as they did for the opening of John Millington Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World in 1907 when they saw the show as a offense to public morality – maybe we’re thicker skinned now. Maybe right people aren’t in the theater. Maybe we need this to open in El Paso, Texas.

Also – I’ll be certainly using some of the ideals of investing in people rather than letting them flounder in my day job, writing about how investment in rural broadband has a certain and palpable return on investment and without it communities will die.

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