I left early this morning for Capital Hill and arrived around 8:45. I didn't have to be in Walt Minnick's office for my Capital tour until 10, and (most fortuitously) the Library of Congress was already open then, so I spent a little over an hour there, buzzed over for my Capital tour, got some lunch once that was done, and then made my Supreme Court date. After that I took the Metro across town to Dupont Circle to check my friend's mail in hopes that Delta Air had delivered my baggage. They hadn't, so I took the Metro all the way back to my friend's Columbia Heights apartment, where I was keeping the luggage code to use when calling Delta, and then went back to Dupont for dinner and drinks with College of Idaho alumni. A few of us went drinking afterward, and I only got back a little while ago.
Notes and Observations:
- There exists a certain relativity of dress codes. Where I come from, you can get away with looking like you just rolled out of bed, and if anything the sharp-dressed man would be suspect. As near as I can tell, here it's exactly the opposite. At least that's how it felt, wearing (from yesterday; I have no luggage, recall) a Laphroaig T-shirt, shorts that are four sizes too large, and a football belt to hold them up--especially during the four or five times I had to take the belt off for going through a metal detector.
- I really, really don't like guided tours. I wanted to stop and sketch so many things in the Capital, but I always felt self-conscious about my guide, who later was in a rush to get to his next assignment.
- The Capital makes a point of having two statues from every state, but they're poorly distributed. The old Senate chamber (I think that's what it is), is packed with statuary, far too much, some of which could go to the upper level of the main visitors center area.
- Of course South Carolina would pick John Calhoun as one of its two representative statues.
- On the way into the Senate chambers, my guide told me that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell passed us by. I'm not entirely glad I missed him.
- When we sat in on the Senate chambers, Mary Landrieu was giving a very impassioned speech on the small businesses bill (she kept referring to 1099) that had made it's way through, and hammered Republicans for their intransigence. She did this before a mostly empty Senate, which seemed to have more teenaged staffers than senators on hand.
- I grabbed lunch at the Capital Hill Grocery just a few blocks away. Two things of interest: 1) Naked fruit juices are just as expensive here ($3.99) as they are in Idaho, which is awfully surprising, and 2) behind the cashier I saw a shelf space labeled with something like Elmer's Glue and instead had a couple of Dianetics (Scientology) CD-ROMs sitting there. I won't speculate as to their significance.
- The Supreme Court talk one can sign up for through one's congressman is probably not worth it. I got to go into the room where Supreme Court cases are actually heard, but the lecturer was bland and boring, and it really wasn't worth the half an hour one is forced to remain there, even if it was free.
- Supreme Court Justice Wiley B. Rutledge seems like an extremely interesting figure and gets the quote of the day:
"Of what use is the law if it does not meet human needs?"