Out of timeout!

Today marked the 11th day after my positive Covid test and I tested negative for the second day in a row, so the CDC guidelines say I no longer have to take special precautions to avoid infecting others. That doesn’t mean I won’t be wearing a mask around other people, but it’s voluntary rather than mandatory.

This afternoon, we celebrated Cantor Felder-Levy’s 25 years at Shir Hadash. She actually reached that mark last year, but…. The celebration was a concert with music by the choir and by some of the Cantor’s colleagues; it was a very special day and I’m glad we were able to be there in person instead of watching it on livestream.

Shir Shabbat is Back!

Today was the first Shir Shabbat in over a month because we don’t meet when there’s a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. I think people must have missed it, because we had more than 20 people online, significantly more than usual.

Having Rabbi Aron as the Haftarah reader encouraged people to attend, too.

It’s good to be back to a normal rhythm.

Leave off the last “S” for Savings!

We got our PG&E bill for last month; since we were gone for almost the full billing period, we used amazingly little gas and electricity. We used so little gas that we were subject to their minimum transportation charge (13 cents per day), and our electricity usage was 200 kilowatt hours less than a typical month. Most of the reduction was due to cooking and lighting, but I had made a point of unplugging things like the subwoofer since it wasn’t going to be used while we were gone.

I was curious how much of a difference that made, so I dug out the Kill-a-Watt and tested; the subwoofer idles at about 15 watts, which adds up to almost 11 kWh during a month. It’s probably worth putting it on a smart outlet and only turning it on when the amplifier is active.

I could also consider putting the amplifier on a smart outlet and only turning it on when I need it, though I haven’t gotten around to finding out how much power it uses in idle mode. And then there’s the TV and the TiVo….

Shabbat Shalom!

Two is better than one, except when it isn’t

I’ve got two Macs which are “my main computer” – the Mac mini in the office and the MacBook Air that mostly lives in the kitchen except when it goes on vacation with us. My plan was to have the mini be the real main computer; the laptop would only have subsets of what was on the mini – some photos, some music, some programs, and of course, whatever photos I took on a trip until I could get them home to the real computer. I didn’t even get a Backblaze subscription for the laptop because it wasn’t supposed to have anything I cared about.

It was a great plan, but it didn’t work. I do most of my mail and web browsing on the laptop because it’s in the kitchen – and that means I download a lot of things to that system. And once in a while, I find myself writing a bit of code there. And of course, when we travel, photos go to the laptop.

So this afternoon, I decided to make sure that everything on the laptop was, indeed, on the mini.

It wasn’t. And still isn’t, even after spending hours on the task, but I’m closer.

I was surprised by how many things were almost duplicated on the two machines – especially source code for various projects. I almost always create a Git repository for anything that’s going to live more than an afternoon, but I don’t put it on Github unless I plan to share it. Which sometimes meant I’d copy the repository from the mini to the laptop, work on it there, and never copy the changes back to the mini – and then sometimes I’d make a different set of changes there. So I spent a good bit of the afternoon resolving the differences – and making sure the code was up on Github for the future.

The strangest part of the day, though, was the way I did the work. I brought the laptop into the office and set it up under the monitor for the mini; then I used Forklift on the mini to get a view of both machines’ disks at once.

I did the actual fixing on the mini, with side-by-side terminal windows for the two machines; the one on the left was for the laptop and the one on the right was on the mini. I used the new Universal Control feature of Mac OS to do all the typing and mousing on the Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad attached to the mini. That meant that when I was typing into the terminal window for the mini, I was actually typing on the keyboard of the mini but using a terminal window hosted by the laptop that ran commands on the mini. Obvious, right?

As a wise person (not me!) once said, “there is no problem in Computer Science that can’t be solved by adding another level of indirection.”

Back on the trail

Today was the hottest day so far this year, getting well into the 80s. That didn’t stop us from taking a walk on the Los Gatos Creek Trail with the South Bay Striders this afternoon.

It was good to see some of the regulars who we hadn’t seen since early April, and even better to see a few new faces.

My face was covered with an N95 mask because I’m still positive (though the lines on the test strip are getting lighter!) and I haven’t yet reached the 10-day mark. Wearing the mask let me walk near other people and not feel like I was endangering them – but it also meant that I got VERY hot. I drank a lot of water on the walk, but probably not enough!

There weren’t many people in the parks adjacent to the trail – I suspect it was due to the weather. There were plenty of other walkers and bicyclists on the trail, though.

There was a new crop of goslings, too; they are really cute, and they aren’t adding a lot to the mess on the trail – yet.

Charging ahead!

Early this morning, I got an email from my thermostat alerting me that one of the remote sensors had a low battery.

The sensor uses a coin cell, and I have plenty of those, so I was ready.

It’s a good thing I was ready, because I got this email 23 seconds later:

At least I knew that the sensor hadn’t mysteriously gone missing!

R 0,U

We worked out at the JCC with our trainer this morning – outside, wearing masks. It was tiring.

After lunch, we did yet another antigen test. Diane tested negative for the second time, and it’s been 11 days since her symptoms started, so she is now Officially Recovered. My test was still positive, but the line wasn’t as dark as it was yesterday. The CDC guidelines say I don’t have to isolate any more but do need to keep wearing a mask for five more days.

At least there are plenty of pretty flowers to enjoy this time of year!

Not enough negativity

Today was Day 10 for Diane, so we each did a rapid test.

Hers was negative (hooray!).

The “Test” line was vivid on mine before the liquid got to the “Control” line. I’ll try again in a couple of days.

We did get to see the last part of the lunar eclipse tonight; I would have needed a tripod to get a photo with my big camera, but the iPhone was more amenable.

I took a RAW photo with the iPhone, too – unfortunately, not until just after totality had ended, so there’s a little bright spot at the bottom of the Moon.

I cropped the same photo really tightly – it looks interesting, but I suspect the artifacts are dominant in this version.

A quiet Shabbat

We Zoomed to Torah Study for the first time in over a month; this week’s portion is Behar (Leviticus 25:1–26:2). The discussion focused on the sabbatical year and why it’s important to rest the land (and ourselves) deeply from time to time. I enjoyed being back!

We spent the rest of the day at home and taking walks; it was the first really warm day of spring, so we didn’t want to go out in the middle of the day. And of course, we continued to isolate.

The most constructive thing I did today was to decide that I didn’t really have to read two months’ worth of the New York Times Book Review – a quick skim was more than adequate. And the same fate met another pile of magazines and newsletters that were haunting me. It’s not a big accomplishment, but it helps!

I do my part for statistical accuracy

I had a PCR test yesterday to confirm my Covid infection and got the results this morning – yes, I definitely have Covid. I’m feeling fine (better than yesterday, with less coughing), but of course I’m isolating from other people.

I can isolate outside as well as I can inside, so we went for a couple of walks today – it was a beautiful late spring day and the sage was blooming, attracting lots of pollinators.

After we got home, we put up the new mezuzah we bought at KKBE in Charleston.

Shabbat Shalom!

The lure of the upgrade button

When I left for vacation a month ago, I was in the middle of moving my existing home automation setup (running Indigo on a Mac mini) to Home Assistant. I was making good progress, but I didn’t want to make such a big change and leave town, so I left everything as it was.

One of the reasons I wanted to move was that Indigo was broken on Mac OS 12.3.1 – it still needed Python2 which was removed in 12.3.1. My Mac mini kept trying to get me to upgrade to 12.3.1. But I knew better and avoided the upgrade.

Tonight, I turned on the display on that Mac mini for the first time since coming home, and there was an invitation to upgrade. I almost hit “Upgrade Now” but I needed the machine for a Zoom session, so I waited.

After the Zoom, I was ready to upgrade – but thought I’d check on the status of Indigo first. Lo and behold, there was a notice of a new version of Indigo that worked on 12.3.1! I checked their forum and people said it was safe, so I installed the new version.

All is well; now I can upgrade the Mac itself. Tomorrow.

And then I can get back to looking at Home Assistant.

My turn!

I had a small medical procedure scheduled for tomorrow, so I thought I’d better do a Covid test today to make sure I was still negative.

I wasn’t.

And neither was Diane (it was the first day she might have been able to test out of isolation).

At least we don’t have to isolate from each other now! It was nice having dinner face-to-face for the first time since we got home.

This evening, I led a workshop on “Impromptu Storytelling” for the Silicon Valley Storytellers; we had more visitors than club members, which was our hope. I started with the story of our recent trip and Covid infections (it was front of mind for some reason), then presented a few tips about structuring an impromptu story and avoiding the pitfalls of being too complicated. Then I had everyone tell a story using the Story Spine, giving feedback to each speaker. I was trying not to talk too much; my throat doesn’t think I was successful.

An informative day

I woke up this morning to a message on my phone telling me to check Stanford Medical’s “MyChart” for an update; my PCR test was negative. This hasn’t stopped me from coughing a lot today, but I guess it’s not from Covid.

I decided that today was the day to get all of the photos from our recent trip into my master Lightroom library. When I started the trip, I intended to use Lightroom Creative Cloud to hold all of the photos and do some light editing, but I gave up on that plan when I realized that it has no map module; the version on Mac OS will display the location of a photo – you can even type in the latitude and longitude, but you can’t use, for example, information from a GPS tracking app to set the location of many photos. And Lightroom Creative Cloud on the iPad doesn’t even show the location of a photo. So I started using Lightroom Classic on the MacBook Air I’d taken on the trip.

It worked well – all of the photos in the blog posts I wrote on the trip went through Lightroom Classic, and I’d also labeled, geo-tagged, and rated many of the photos. I wanted all of that work to transfer to the Lightroom library at home; I just didn’t know how to do it properly.

Fortunately, I’d subscribed to the free monthly Lightroom Queen Newsletter a couple of months ago after finding the answer to some of my questions on their forum. The issue that arrived today had exactly one article: How to Use Lightroom Classic on Vacation. And it gave me the exact steps I needed to follow to do the merge – hardly any thinking required!

It Works!

Two years ago, Google and Apple collaborated on the Exposure Notification System to help people find out if they’d been in close contact with someone who had Covid-19. Diane and I both turned on the feature on our phones as soon as it was rolled out in California and promptly forgot about it.

I was notified of a possible exposure to Covid-19 today; I wonder who it could have been?

Diane is still doing well; I am waiting to get the results from the PCR test I took this afternoon. I went to the test site in the Stanford Medical garage near me. In the past, it’s usually taken about ten minutes from the time I drove into the garage to be tested – and that includes driving up to the fourth floor. Today, it took 30 minutes, and the nurse said it had been like that the whole day.

Still Negative

I took another Covid self-test this afternoon and was happy to be negative, though that does mean that Diane and I still have to stay away from each other and wear masks in the house. She’s feeling well enough to go out for walks (still wearing a mask and avoiding other people), so that’s good.

Wild local salmon was available at the Farmers’ Market (I wore a mask and avoided people) for the first time this year, so I made that for Mother’s Day lunch.

I finally got around to importing the last couple of photos I took on the trip into Lightroom and ran into a problem with the way Lightroom manages timezones. It assumed that any times in the photos were in PDT (UTC-7) because that was what the computer was set to. Some of the time fields in the photos actually specified EDT (UTC-4), but Lightroom ignored that info. There doesn’t seem to be any way to edit the timezone info in Lightroom; I finally deleted the photos, set the computer to EDT, reimported the photos, and set the computer back to PDT and all was well. What a pain!

Pandemic Journal, Day 782

I posted Thursday’s blog entry very early because I expected limited connectivity and time after we sailed away from St. Michaels. So I didn’t write about the dinnertime announcement from the Captain:

Some passengers and crew have tested positive for Covid; they are being isolated, and close contacts have been notified.

We’d been wearing N95 masks whenever we were in a bus or small museum (and we were usually the only ones doing so), so I wasn’t too concerned.

Friday, Diane was hoarse and drippy and was very uncomfortable on the flights home; we wore masks the whole way, except, of course, when eating or drinking.

Out of an abundance of caution, we did antigen tests after we got home and hers was positive; we went to Minute Clinic this afternoon and they confirmed the diagnosis of a mild case of Covid.

Diane’s feeling better than she did yesterday, and hasn’t had a fever; I’m feeling OK and also haven’t had a fever.

I’m going to take another self-test tomorrow and I’ve got a professional test scheduled for Monday.

In the meantime, she’s isolating as much as possible and we’re wearing masks when we’re near each other.

On a brighter note, I took a walk this morning and our neighbor still had a couple of nice tulips in her yard!

Nearly home!

We awoke this morning to the sight of the Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse outside our room.

We had breakfast, finished packing, and braved the rain to get to the bus to the airport that ACL had arranged. We had nearly four hours to kill at BWI; I took advantage of the speedy airport wifi to finish syncing the Apple Photos library with the cloud.

The flights home were uneventful; meeting the limo driver at SFO was stressful because of all the crazy drivers blocking the curb!

I’m looking forward to having cereal and fruit for breakfast tomorrow, which means I have to go get it tonight. And after that, it’ll be time for bed!

St. Michaels, Maryland

The original itinerary for our cruise had us docking here in St. Michaels last night, but things changed. Another American Cruise Line ship got priority for the dock, so we had to moor and tender into town. But the weather last night was predicted to be bad, so instead of sailing here from Annapolis, we sailed to Cambridge so we could dock. That meant that we didn’t get to St. Michaels until late this morning and the first tender didn’t operate until 12:45pm.

We took that tender so we could be on the walking tour, seeing all of the old houses and learning about the history of the town. Our guide was the President of the town museum; he had a deep knowledge of every house we passed, including battles with the Preservation Board, and he shared quite a bit of it with us.

There were a few interesting buildings along the way, like the “Dr. Dobson House” – originally built in 1799, and added onto in 1872 to accommodate a growing family; you can see the change in the brickwork. That same house is also known as “Reconciliation House”, where Frederick Douglass met his former enslaver, Thomas Auld, in 1877.

Not all of the interesting buildings were big enough to live in; I really enjoyed seeing this Little Free Library.

Of course there were flowers to enjoy along our way.

St. Michaels is on the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail; it is “the town that fooled the British” by hanging lanterns in the trees so the British would overshoot the town with their cannons. That’s the story, though it may not match reality.

Our tour ended at the St. Michaels Museum; it was closed, but having the President as our guide gave us special access. :-)

After the tour, we wandered through the town for a while; it’s quiet except for the main drag, Talbot Street, where we shopped and dodged traffic.

If we’d been on our original schedule, we would almost certainly have visited the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, but we didn’t want to take any chance of missing the last tender and the boat.

Tonight, we have our final dinner and sail to Baltimore to disembark far too early tomorrow morning. I am going to post now while I have reasonable connectivity – it’s likely to go away when we sail.


Our first excursion today was a guided walk through Annapolis. Annapolis has many striking buildings and homes; the Hammond-Harmon and Chase-Lloyd Houses are wonderful Georgian homes which face each other across a fairly narrow street.

The Maryland State House was only a five-minute walk away; it was the US capitol for a short time at the end of the Revolutionary War and is where the Continental Congress ratified the Treaty of Paris. We were told the dome is magnificent – but it’s under construction, so all we could see was scaffolding.

After the end of the Revolutionary War, George Washington wanted to return to private life; he formally resigned his commission here. They have reconstructed the moment of the resignation in the Old Senate Chamber and there’s a painting by Edwin White depicting the moment in one of the staircases.

The Old House Chamber has been restored to its 19th Century appearance; there are statues of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass and exhibits focused on the expansion of rights in Maryland to more and more people. I liked the way the shade behind the speaker’s desk is pleated.

The current House and Senate Chambers were less distinctive than the old ones, but seemed pleasant enough. We weren’t able to go in (or even into the gallery), but the hallway doors were open.

We decided to stay in Annapolis for lunch rather than tendering back to the ship. We had been planning to have a Reuben sandwich on board, so we did the next best thing and walked to Reuben’s Deli about a mile away; it’s a bodega/lunch counter and made a fine Reuben. On our way, we enjoyed some of Annapolis’s public art, including the Kunta Kinte/Alex Haley Memorial (which we weren’t able to look at this morning because the tide was in and the memorial was partially submerged), some bike racks, and a bird I can’t quite identify.

We walked back to City Dock to meet our afternoon tour; on the way, we discovered that the Maryland State Medical Association has only grudgingly accepted the modern era.

I wanted something sweet after the Reuben; we stopped at the Annapolis Ice Cream Company. I almost had their lemon chocolate chip ice cream – it was good, but there wasn’t enough chocolate so I went with chocolate chocolate chip. Yum! I didn’t get a photo of the ice cream, but I though their choice of flooring in the rest room was interesting.

Our afternoon tour was a walk through the United States Naval Academy. The Barry Gate (Gate 3) was less than five minutes from the dock.

We watched the orientation film – it talked about the midshipman experience much more than it did about the Academy’s buildings and grounds. If I’d been in high school, it might have gotten me to apply for admission.

After the film, we met our guide. Our first stop was Captains’ Row – they want to preserve the quiet there.

The houses on Captains’ Row were quite impressive, but they were nothing compared to the Superintendent’s quarters, which is next to the Chapel.

This chapel is used for Christian services; there is a Jewish chapel, too, but we didn’t visit it, and our guide said that there were facilities for other religions on the Yard, too. The stained glass windows lining the new part of the chapel all depicted Biblical scenes involving the water – one side from the New Testament and one from the Old Testament. I liked the window showing Jonah.

Our guide said that the pipe organ had over 5,000 pipes spread throughout the chapel. They do Handel’s Messiah in December – he said it’s loud. And of course, they put ships in the middle of the pipes.

We went downstairs to John Paul Jones’s crypt.

Our next stop was Bancroft Hall, the largest dormitory in the country; it houses Memorial Hall, which is dedicated to the memory of Naval Academy graduates who died in service.

The bell from the USS Enterprise is outside Bancroft Hall; our guide said that they ring it every time Navy beats Army.

All of the Naval Academy graduates at Midway survived the battle, but not all made it through the war. Their monument tells the story (with diagrams) of the battle.

There was much more to see, but we had to get back so we could tender out to the ship before dinner.

While we were waiting for dinner, we saw the midshipmen practicing their sailing skills.

We had another nice sunset, too.

Our entertainers Robert and Stephanie had to leave us tonight to attend his uncle’s funeral; they gave us a going-away concert before leaving. I hope we can sail with them again!

Tech Topics: Backing up my Lightroom work with rsync over SSH

I’ve set up Lightroom on my laptop as the repository of the pictures I’m taking on the trip. Getting the photos into Lightroom is easy, but I want to replicate everything to my server at home for backup purposes.

I have one machine at home with its SSH port exposed to the Internet; it’s not the machine I want to send the files to. So I need to use an SSH tunnel to get to the actual target machine (I’m using rsync to do the copy to avoid sending more data than I need, especially when connected over my phone).

I have set up both machines at home to trust my SSH key, so passwords and passing certificates aren’t a problem. I’ve defined home in my local .ssh/config file to point to my gateway system’s SSH port, so I can set up the tunnel by opening a terminal window and issuing this command:

ssh -NL 9091:office:22 home

9091 is an arbitrary port number; it can be anything more than 1024.
office is the system I want to connect to at home; I could also use the local network address at home (for example,

Now I’m ready to do the copying; I need to open another terminal window and issue this command:

rsync -auv -e "ssh -p 9091" \
--exclude '*Previews*' --exclude '*ackup*'  \
~/Pictures/Lightroom david@localhost:Desktop/East

The Desktop/East directory on my home server is an image of the Lightroom directory here (including the catalog). If I were really brave, I could add --delete to the command to ensure that any deletions I make on the laptop are reflected at home.

After the copy is complete, I can go back to the first window and stop the SSH session.

When I get home, I plan to import the catalog from my laptop into my master Lightroom library, but if something happens to my laptop on the way home, I should be able to use the backup I’m creating.

I hope.

Tech Topic: Monitoring Apple Photos Sync

I brought a laptop on this trip so I could cull, edit, and publish photos while still traveling. I’m using Adobe Lightroom Classic as my main photo repository, especially for pictures I take with my Panasonic FZ1000M2, but photos I take with my iPhone wind up going into Apple Photos.

I want to be able to back up my photos even while I’m traveling. Photos I take on the iPhone go into the Apple cloud and are, probably, automatically download into Photos at home and then backed up by Time Machine and Backblaze. I say “probably” because I have been running into problems with getting those same photos onto the laptop I brought with me – it stops downloading for no reason that I can figure out.

In desperation, I told Apple Photos to “repair” the photos library on the laptop; that took a while, and then it said it was going to download all of my photos from iCloud. I hoped it would do checksums on the laptop and on the server and only download missing or damaged photos, but that doesn’t seem to be the case – it wanted to download every photo. And it kept stopping and starting.

After much fiddling, I discovered that Photos seemed to stop downloading if it wasn’t the foreground application (the one in the menu bar). I also discovered that I could monitor the progress of the download by looking at the Pictures/Photos Library.photoslibrary/resources/cpl/cloudsync.index directory (Apple Photos is not very generous in its progress reporting).

Fortunately, we were docked at the DC Wharf and they had high-speed public wifi which I could use as long as I put the laptop on our balcony – I was able to complete the repair while we were in DC.

Today, though, the download has stopped again; rebooting hasn’t helped, and I can’t figure out what the hangup is. My iPad shows all of the photos I’ve taken. I’m very confused.

Cambridge, Maryland

We sailed from Washington to Cambridge, Maryland overnight; Cambridge is an Eastern Shore town with a long history. We docked at the Long Wharf on the Choptank River; the town welcomed us by sending the Town Crier to visit us at breakfast.

There had been a lighthouse on the Choptank River for a very long time; it’s no longer in use, but it’s been restored as a tourist attraction, just a two-minute walk from our ship.

They’ve done a lot of work on the lighthouse, including adding a compass rose on the main floor. It was a nice visit; if there had been a volunteer there, I might have bought a souvenir.

Our ship took advantage of being in Cambridge; we saw one of the deckhands taking out the used glass bottles to the recycling depot. It was an impressive load, but I didn’t take a photo. They delivered a lot of food, too, as well as refueling us.

We walked up High Street to the center of town. We visited Christ Episcopal Church on our way; the current building dates to 1883, but the adjacent graveyard has burials going back to the 18th Century.

I considered having lunch at the Provident State Bank (now Fat Ricky’s), but we decided on Salmon Tikka Kebab at Bombay Social; it was good, and a change from the cuisine on the ship.

After lunch, we went back to the ship to regroup and prepare for our afternoon excursion to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park.

Our guide, Susan Meredith, had deep roots in this area; she and her husband have restored the Bucktown Village Store where Harriet Tubman first fought against slavery by defying an order from an overseer who wanted to recapture an escaping slave.

Susan and her family live in a 1790 house next to the Bucktown Store. The bricked-in area is where they have two fireplaces to heat the house.

After dinner, we were treated to a performance by the Eastport Oyster Boys, singing and playing local music on guitar, banjo, hammered dulcimer, and fiddle – not bad for only two guys!

Mount Vernon

Today was our last day in Washington, and we actually spent most of it in Virginia at Mount Vernon. We’d been there before, many years ago; it is a much more sophisticated enterprise these days!

We started at the Visitor Center and watched the orientation film, then we headed out to explore the grounds before our appointment to take the mansion tour.

We started by paying our respects to the President and his wife at their tomb.

The burial ground for enslaved people who had lived on the estate was not far away; there were two memorials there. The first was installed in 1929 (and was the first such monument in the country), and the second in 1983. Language has changed!

It seemed like a good idea to visit the necessary before taking the mansion tour.

One of these photos was taken in the 21st Century necessary; the other was in the reconstructed version of Washington’s necessary. Can you tell which was which?

We also took a look at Washington’s coach house and one of his coaches. I like our Prius better.

We started our mansion tour in the “New Room”, named because it was the last room added to Mount Vernon.

George Washington himself picked the paint in the dining room; the color is verdigris and was very expensive, so he was showing off his wealth. Good thing he didn’t think of gold toilets!

There were many guest bedrooms; one is called the “Chintz Bedroom” because of the drapes and bedspread. Chintz, too, was not cheap.

Washington had a very functional office; he even had a desk fan over one of his chairs, powered by a servant.

The mansion was warm, so we were happy to be outside again to enjoy the scenery.

Of course there were flowers to enjoy, too.

We got back to the ship and I took advantage of the last of the high-speed wifi from the Wharf; I had to be outside to get a good signal, which meant that the helicopters doing practice runs were very loud. One of the other guests said that they saw a Presidential copter at least once, but I don’t think I got a photo of that one.

This afternoon, the ship’s resident entertainer and expert, Robert Yonskie, gave us George III’s side of the Revolutionary story, complete with a rendition of “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton. He’s going to be the entertainer and expert on the Fall Foliage tour this fall – we may be back!

We’re en route to Cambridge, Maryland for tomorrow’s tours; it will be a much quieter place than the Wharf. Internet connectivity may be limited tonight, so I’m posting now while we’re still very near DC.

Arlington and Alexandria

While we slept, the ship sailed to DC and docked at the District Wharf, a new shopping and dining destination on the Potomac River a short walk from the Tidal Basin and National Mall. We didn’t go to either of those places – instead, we joined the morning tour to Arlington National Cemetery.

After clearing security, we got on a tram with our guide, Mike; our first stop was the John F. Kennedy gravesite.

Many Supreme Court justices are buried nearby, including, of course, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her husband, Martin.

We then went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to see the Changing of the Guard. There were many veterans at the ceremony who’d been brought in through Honor Flight, and I was moved to see them there.

We also saw the memorials to the Challenger and Columbia astronauts before going back to the bus.

We returned to the District Wharf – Diane and I had lunch at Chopsmith; it was quite enjoyable and a change of pace from eating on the ship. Our timing was good – the place was nearly empty when we arrived but there was a line when we left. And as we left, we saw a fireboat on the Potomac; it was saluting the Yacht Club at District Wharf on their 130th Anniversary.

We didn’t stay on the ship very long because we had another excursion this afternoon, this one a guided walk through Old Town Alexandria. It was raining when we started but cleared up by the end of the tour. We had the same guide as this morning, and he told us many stories of life in Alexandria during the Revolution – but I didn’t get many interesting photos, other than this pipe. It was cast and installed before 1847, so it shows “Alexandria DC” instead of “Alexandria VA”.

When we returned to the ship, we were greeted by a special guest, Ben Franklin, who gave a short talk about his favorite subject – himself. It was a lot of fun and somewhat educational, too.

We met our Rabbi Emerita, Melanie Aron, for dinner; she’s living in DC for the next year or two to be closer to her children and grandchild. It was good to see her again and we had a nice conversation. She gave us a copy of her husband’s new book, This Way to the Universe: A Theoretical Physicist’s Journey to the Edge of Reality; it’s intended to explain interesting aspects of theoretical physics to non-physicists and is guaranteed equation-free! I’m planning to read it on the way home.