History Geek-end

The last weekend of December, I took what I’m calling a “History Geek-end”.

Taking advantage of the 1/2 my client gives us for New Year’s Eve, I drove over to Brandywine Battlefield on Friday afternoon. My father tells me I’ve been there before, but I have no memory of it, so I decided I needed to go while I work 15 minutes from there still. (My current contract ends next Friday, and I’m not sure yet where I’ll be after that.) Honestly, I found it a bit disappointing. Part of the trouble was that only the Visitor’s Center was open, with Lafayette’s and Washington’s respective headquarters closed. (Fortunately, I only paid $2.50.) So I may go back at a future date in a better season. The video about the Battle itself was a bit too pro-Colonialists. It’s not in appropriate to admit we got our hats handed to us in the battle. They made a point of saying that the Colonials used their local knowledge of the terrain to their advantage, but then pointed out that the British took the unoccupied high ground without even a shot fired because the Colonials had left it unguarded. Think about that. This was still early in the war, our Army’s best days were still in the future and it’s all right to admit that.

That Saturday, I drove down to Mount Vernon to use some of my remaining free admissions, to see the third floor of the mansion which is only open to the public in December and to see the new Visitor’s Center. The third floor of the mansion is not that exciting. It’s just a few more rooms, not even made up that nicely.

The new Visitor’s Center is impressive. There’s a nice 20-minute introductory video about the man and the mansion. (Although, I hope it’s skippable on future visits, just for time’s sake.) Also, they seemed to rush us through the mansion, whereas on previous visits, we would stop in each area and be given a presentation about what we were looking at. (This may have been to due to higher crowds than I’m used to due to the holiday weekend and being later in the day than I usually make it down.) I was also disappointed that they don’t do the wreath-laying ceremony at his tomb on cold months. Last time I was there, I was fortunate enough to participate by leading those present in the Pledge of Allegiance.

But the highlight of the tour was definitely the new museum. Filled with artifacts of his life, three movies, plus other videos and interactive features, it’s very impressive. (During the movie about the Battle of Trenton, I was surprised to see it start snowing inside the theater!) Definitely worth the visit. I didn’t get to spend as much time in there as I might have liked to do having to meet up with my girlfriend to go to a party that night, but I’ll definitely go back in the future.

Before the addition of the new Visitor’s Center, Mount Vernon was already more than a full day’s visit. It even more time-consuming now. But definitely worth it. If you get the chance, go there. You won’t be disappointed.

Germany Pictures are up!

Germany Trip – a photoset on Flickr

I was going to categorize them and post descriptions of them over on my pictures pages on PaulSmithJr.com, but that was a lot more work than I felt like doing, and probably wouldn’t get it done. So I wimped out and set them up on Flicker. For now they’re relatively undescribed, but they are categorized by what city they were taken in. As time permits, I’ll go back and add comments as to what they actually are specifically.

One note: some of them pictures are very dark. I didn’t know until I got over there, but the battery in my camera was dying and couldn’t hold a charge that long so the flash didn’t go off in a number of shots. (I’m really disappointed about missing out on the picture of the life-size Last Supper sculpture. It was amazing.)

Enjoy! (If you care to.)

Pictures from Germany Trip

Proofs of the wedding photographs (A direct link to one of me, the grom and two of the bride’s other friends)

Another set

Photos the bride’s youngest sister took. I was traveling with her and her family two of those days and am in some of the photos. (This one’s not me.)

My pictures will be up eventually. I just have to find time to go through them, label them and size them properly. I’ve been very busy since I got back between work and other responsibilities. (The person to blame for keeping me busy knows who I’m talking about…)

Pictures from Germany Trip

Proofs of the wedding photographs (A direct link to one of me, the grom and two of the bride’s other friends)

Another set

Photos the bride’s youngest sister took. I was traveling with her and her family two of those days and am in some of the photos. (This one’s not me.)

My pictures will be up eventually. I just have to find time to go through them, label them and size them properly. I’ve been very busy since I got back between work and other responsibilities. (The person to blame for keeping me busy knows who I’m talking about…)

Back From Germany

As some of you are aware, I’ve been in Germany for the last few weeks. A friend of mine got married on the 14th and with her being such a good friend, I had no choice but to go over.

Those of you who know me well know that I dislike travel, preferring to stay in familiar surroundings and read books for relaxation, so this was a bit of a break from my normal routine. I can even say I enjoyed the trip. I’ll have some pictures posted at my personal website (http://www.paulsmithjr.com) when I get the chance. I’ll also, as time permits, go through and review my trip day by day to let you know what’s worth visiting and what’s not. Posts on this topic will be available in my Germany 2006 category.

As a quick overview: I started out flying into Frankfort and took the train to Karlsruhe where my friend lives on Friday. Saturday was the wedding, with a tour of the castle in Karlsruhe that morning. Sunday, I went with my friend’s family to Heidelberg and Monday we went to Freiberg. From there, I traveled by myself to Munich where I spent Tuesday afternoon to Friday morning. Friday I traveled to Vienna where I spent the weekend before traveling back to Karlsruhe Monday to catch the plane back to the USA on Tuesday.

In all, I had a great time, although by the end of it I really missed English. (My German is not so good. Very rusty.) I could definitely go back at some point.

UPDATE: A picture of my friend, her parents, her sisters and her new husband:

My friend’s the one in the wedding gown.

UPDATE 2: Fixed link to image. Blogger must be blocking things so that images can’t be used by outside sites, so I copied the image over to my site and relinked it.

Pet Peeves

We all have our stupid little pet peeves that make no sense to anyone but ourselves. One of mine is when people schedule weddings in October and don’t have a TV in the reception hall so I can keep up on the baseball playoffs. (I’ve walked out of a reception to call a friend for score updates in the past.) Well, now a friend of mine has scheduled her wedding in October in Germany. So it’s going to be hard to keep up with the playoffs over there at all.

To make matters worse, I just realized that since I’m making a vacation of it, I’ll be missing two episodes of Lost while I’m gone!

See what you’re doing to me, Ann!