"Welcome to the United States. Please join the line over there."
As you might have guessed, I'm on vacation in Washington, D.C. right now. The majority of my experience has been good - food is OK, the place is fairly clean, friendly people, etc.. The one thing that I've noticed is the Americans' willingness to stand in line. Bathrooms, stores, information kiosks, restaurants, transportation and just about everything else. Perhaps it is all about population density here, but I'm starting to notice it more and more.
The exhibits and museums are amazing. Yesterday I saw (because they are all in fairly close proximity) the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Vietnam War Memorial and the first floor of the Air and Space Museum (part of the eleven Smithsonian museums). I have a new respect for Abraham Lincoln and his ability to write moving speeches. I also felt a great sense of sadness at the Vietnam memorial - maybe it was just me.
Today, I am going to fire a handgun for the first time in my life. Let's see if this produces some insightful blogging. I've wanted to for a while now - the first inkling I had was when I visited our old warehouse in Dallas, TX when we used to be part of Adobe. Sidearms are legal in Texas, and although I never saw anyone carrying a sidearm, I saw signs on the doors of restaurants and museums that requested "No Handguns" in the premises. This got me to thinking ... with handguns so readily available, would anyone (even me, a passive Canadian) be allowed to walk in and learn to fire a handgun? I ran into one of my workmates as he came back from a trip to Seattle, and he had hooked up with a local friend who took him to a firing range. The idea seems just so foreign, I thought I had to try it. It would be like learning to do the Flamenco in Spain. So today, my goal is to find a firing range here in Washington and pump a few rounds into a paper target.
I'm impressed at the cleanliness of the streets and exhibits, then someone pointed out that Washington is the capitol (read: shining example) of the (supposed) leader of the free world. This is the political showpiece of capitalism, the politician's Disneyland. Of course they are going to make a supreme effort to put on a good showing. Duh.
It's very nice to be away from work. Especially when you feel the urge to fire a handgun.