Sunday, February 18, 2007

Chinese New Year: Washington DC

February 18th, 2007 marks the first day of the Year of the Boar in the Chinese calendar. This was heralded in by a parade in downtown Washington DC's Chinatown neighborhood. Although the parade itself was rather short, you had to give the participants and spectators alike credit as it was a cold and blustery day for even your thickest skinned dragon dancer. Clad in black topcoat and fedora, the daper and newly sworn in DC Mayor Adrian Fenty kept good on his campaign promise of visiting all wards of the district and returned to Chinatown to give a rousing greeting of:"Gung hei faat choi!'- a traditional Chinese New Year's salution literally translated as "Congratulations and be prosperous." He disappeared soon thereafter, but most of the crowd stuck around to see the dragons dancing and firecracker ceremony. The firecrackers are set off to ward off evil spirits. Unlike the western dragon that symbolizes evil, in Chinese mythology dragons embody wealth and prosperity. In addition, in the days leading up to Chinese New Year, you are suppose to sweep out your house to further rid yourself of any evil that happens to be lying about. You're suppose to put away your broom and dustpan on the first of the year, on the off chance you sweep out any good luck. I should have read Wikipedia before I took out the trash and mopped up the snow and mud tracks from our front door today. More Chinese New Year Picture can be seen here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Final Tribute to an Ex-President

For New Years, Lisa and I spent the weekend at the Swann House Bed and Breakfast in the Adams Morgan/Dupont Circle area. On New Year's Day we went down to the U.S. Capitol where Gerald Ford was lying in state, after passing away on December 26, 2006.

The painting and caricature of Ford dancing with Breshnev were from the National Portrait Gallery that we visited the same day.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

NASA Udvar-Hazy Center

Stella flew into DC for the holidays. We spent Christmas at Lisa's parents house, before returning to DC. Before Stella flew out, we visited the NASA Udvar Hazy Center. This is a new Smithsonian facility that opened near Dulles Airport in Chantilly, VA. It is 2.5 football fields in length and has over 300 aircrafts including an Air France Concorde, SR-71 Blackbird, the Enola Gay, and the spaceshuttle Enterprise. The Enterprise, shown here, has an interesting history. Although it was the first NASA space shuttle, it never flew a mission in space. It was originally designed without heat shields or engines and simply was used for test flights in the atmosphere. Columbia was the first shuttle to fly amongst the stars. NASA had planned to retro-fit Enterprise with all the bells and whistles needed for an eventual space mission, but due to final design changes that had occurred when building Columbia, the cost to soup up the Enterprise was deemed to be too expensive, and it was more cost effective to build the Challenger instead. It's hard to believe the construction of Enterprise started in 1974, and its first flight took place several years later.

Click here to see more pics.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Fall 2006: Butler's Orchard Pumpkin Festival

Picking out Pumpkins at the Butler Orchard Pumpkin Festival.

2006: The Year in Running

For Lisa, 2006 was a banner year for her. She began running in March and was able to complete her first 10K only a month later (Pike's Peek, Rockville, Maryland). She continued to build on that and finished her longest race to date, the PriceWaterhouseCooper Half Marathon in September. She topped this off by being one of the 16,000 finishers in the Army 10 miler is October.

Things were a little more bumpy for me. I was super motivated to start getting back into shape with perhaps an optomistic goal of setting a sub-3 hour PR in the Columbus Marathon in October. Things seemed to be on target through the end of August, but I quickly found that unlike when I was younger, things tend to break a little easier than they used to. An Achilles tendinitis forced me to stop running for 6 weeks. Fortunately, it did seem that rest was the elixir, and I gingerly started back by running the Army 10 miler with Lisa in October. I cancelled the Columbus Marathon, but was able to slowly build my mileage back up over the next few weeks and ran the Philadelphia marathon in the end of November. I ran the best race that I could under the circumstances but my 3:16.14 left me 15 seconds over the qualifying time for Boston. I sent in my application anyway, and the powers that be were kind enough to let me slip in. This has done a lot to keep me motivated- I want to run a good race in order to justify my entry, when I line up in Hopkinton on Patriots Day in April 2007. It's the end of December, and I feel like I'm back in the shape I was in before my injury. We'll see what happens over the next 3.5 months...