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Category: trips:DC

November 27, 2006

Spy Museum

The Spy Museum in DC is a fun way to spend an afternoon. It's full of real-life spy gadgetry like cameras and bugs as well as historical artifacts like a letter from George Washington directing the creation of a spy network (more about George Washington, spymaster). There are also interactive touchscreen displays, such as exhibits that invite you to spot the dead drops and a visualization of the Enigma encryption engine.

The museum starts off with the tools of the trade. Some of my favorites included a beautiful example of hiding in plain sight -- a camera hidden in the side of a camera case -- as well as a camera attached to a pigeon. There was also a great display of various bugging techniques and a replica of a bug so ingenious that I still don't understand it: Russian school kids gave an American ambassador a carved eagle seal with a hidden air cavity and passive antenna, which could be activated as a bug by aiming a particular frequency at it.

The museum then moves you through a wide swath of spy history from historical figures like Sun Tzu, George Washington, and Harriet Tubman, to historical events like World War II and the McCarthy trials. Of course the vast majority of spy history may never be known, but its fun to peruse some of the more notorious cases.

There are side-games to participate in as you journey through the museum. One is keeping your cover, which requires you to memorize an identity and mission. I thought this would be fun until I discovered that it just involved answering questions at a computer screen -- it would have been much more fun if employees were trained to come up to you and ask you questions about your cover; it just isn't scary when you walk up to a computer screen vs. someone walking up to you.

A less official side game is sneaking into "secure" areas, such as a door with a combination lock that opens into a "Top Secret" room -- actually just a facilities room with the air conditioners. This is a more difficult game to play because it requires you to distinguish between allowed secret areas and actual private areas. I had to debate for awhile whether a staircase marked "No Admittance" was truly that, or just another opportunity to test my covert skills (I figured out that it was the stairway to the administrative offices, so I aborted).

November 23, 2006

Brawl results

Last night I went out with the VA crew to watch my first Capitals game in many years -- my first time to see them in the Verizon/MCI Center. The game started off well enough with the Caps taking a 2-1 lead over the Thrashers, but things quickly fell apart as the 2nd period edged on. Eventually the Caps were down 4-2, they were stuck in a 5-on-4 penalty kill situation with their best offensive player in the penalty box, and there was only about a minute and half left; there was no miracle forthcoming. Atlanta's Sutton took this situation as an opportunity to deliver a hard check, which resulted in mass fisticuffs between everyone on the ice. The Caps' Brashear pounded Vishnevski until there was blood in the ice, Kolzig eventually left his goal to have some words with Atlanta's goalie, and there were a lot of penalties/ejections and things to clean up off the ice.

Then as the players lined up for another faceoff, another fight broke out. More penalties/ejections.

Play finally got underway. Then Atlanta's Mellanby started hitting Heward in the back of the head, so Heward fought back and took Mellanby to the ice. More penalties/ejections.

It's about how I remember Caps games from the 80s ending, back in the era when fights were more common. Perhaps I'm a bad influence.

December 24, 2005

In DC...

... thanks to susanne. Here is the summary form of our IM conversation last night at 1:00AM:

me : ping
susanne: pong
me : can I ask a big favor?
susanne: sure
me: can I get a ride to the airport tomorrow?
susanne: no problem. what time?
me: 6:30AM
susanne: yeah, no problem

Somewhere in there was an explanation about Caltrain sucking and no airport shuttles available. In otherwords, another shining anecdote of solid planning on my part.

Technically I could run downstairs in two minutes and open my presents, but I'd like to think I'm more mature than that. Instead I'm currently getting into the Christmas mood by listening to the 8bits of Christmas by 8bitpeoples.

December 23, 2005

Heading DC's way

I'll be in DC from the 24th to the 30th. I'm free except for the 25th and 28th, so drop me a note if you want to hang out.

October 10, 2005

Congrats Cyndi and Kenji

Kenji-Cyndi-26

Kenji and Cyndi got married on Friday and should now be off in Argentina somewhere unable to read this message, but I wanted to wish them congratulations anyways. Three straight nights of partying with them wore out my liver a bit, but I appreciate the exercise regimen. We (Kenji, Cyndi, myself, and the rest of you) should do it again come X-mas time when I'm in DC again.

I posted some photos on Flickr -- I can also post them elsewhere by request. I tried to push the limits of my new camera a bit and as you can tell from the photos I pushed the limits a bit too far. I believe 'cameraphone' comes to mind.

It was fun matching blogs and Flickr photos to real people. It gives hope that most of the Internet is not made up by some fifty-year-old bald dude sitting naked in his parents' basement, which I believe is the plot of the next Matrix movie.

December 29, 2003

DC Auto Show

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X-mas day

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DC

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December 21, 2003

Happy Holidays

My X-mas travelling starts in less than six hours. I should get to sleep. A photo of someone surfing the 'Net on a AOL+56K modem sits next to the definition of "masochism," so that and my wrist pain will be cause for me to stay off the computer. This may be my last entry for 2003, though I might squeeze in a couple before the New Year as my posts for December are way down. Depends on whether or not I get some do some cool stuff in LA/DC and/or get some cool gifts (Thanks honeyfields/cshell!).

FYI, I'll be in LA today, fly to DC on Monday, and return to SF on the 29th. I hope to see my VA friends while I'm out there.

Happy Holidays!

Update: thanks pqbon, who wrapped my presents in my bedding. I crawled into bed and said, that's strange, I don't remember reading my comics in bed recently, then saying, that's strange, I don't remember owning these issues of Usagi, ohhh.... excellent.

November 29, 2002

Georgetown

Hung out in Georgetown for the first time in a really long time. Never got to spend much time there when I was younger. Tried to get into Filomena's (someone had mentioned this to me as being really good, I think my sister), but there wasn't a chance. Ended up having a nice dinner at Morton's.

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