Friday, September 14, 2007

Big Fun with the Parental Units

Its been so fun so far!
On Wednesday, Mom, Lindsay and I went to the National Gallery of Art. After kind of a delayed departure from home, the metro ride, leisurely stroll down the mall and hot dogs in the shade (it was a BEAUTIFUL day to be out), we didn't have a great deal of time for the museum itself. Which was fine by me because as I said before, I think their collection stinks. Not only that, but I think its poorly displayed (oh, what SpecialK could do for them!). And on top of those things, Mom wanted to begin in the West Building which has NONE of their kind of pitiful modern holdings; those are in the East bldg which was hosting the Hopper exhibit which might have interested me. Bless little Lindsay's heart, she spared me a bunch of meandering by being overtired so we sought out nice benches along Mom's planned route and she watched YouTube videos on my iPod (try subscribing to iTunes Best of YouTube video podcast; its a cool way to find stuff) while I played Sims2 on my blackberry.Along the way, I did see a couple of de Goya's portraits and some of the da Settignano exhibit; I do love sculpture of mostkinds. As such, this piece from the sculpture garden was my favorite item of the day:
Roy Lichtensteins's House. Looking not so impressive here, it is an amazing work of perspective.(photo from Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Image Duplicator)

It is constructed of two pieces of aluminum joined at about 120 degree angle; the effect of the work is of shifting perspective---from the impression of viewing an interior room to the exterior at this position as well as everything in between. I love this stuff.

At any rate, we all enjoyed a long visit to the gift shop where I was able to do some early holiday shopping and found just the right coasters for my artsy living room: glass coasters into which
images can be inserted. I bought a variety of Kandinsky notecards and cut them down to fit and voila---perfection for the room. I couldn't be more pleased.

Yesterday Dad, Haley and her buddy E. went to the new Air and Space facility at Dulles Airport(Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center); that was amazing, amazing stuff.Dad and I really had a blast checking out the extremely impressive collection of engines used in aircraft over the years. This one, a huge beautiful beast, was manufactured by Allison's in Indianapolis.... I wonder if any of my grandparents or aunts/uncles ever contributed to one:

Odd, isn't it, that I found much of this collection to be more aesthetically exciting than I did at the NGA? These engines were really gorgeous. In particular, I loved the Pratt & Whtney Wasp reciprocating engine, which I had fun manipulating a bit in photoshop:I really like my modified version, above. It reminds me that I'm hoping to make a trip to the Corcoran next month for a look at Annie Liebovitz's exhibit which will be on display concurrently with some of Ansel Adam's work. Should be a fun trip.

But back to the Air-Space trip. By far, the best part of it was being with Dad who is really an amazing source of information about plane performance, engineering features and the strategic advantages of certain aircraft---I found the museum to be surpringly lacking in that kind of info and truly, for me, it made all the difference in how interested I might be in what I was seeing. Dad knows EVERYTHING about military aircraft.

Here's the man with a T-33A, the first aircraft he worked on at Laredo AFB in the very early 1960's. As a 20-ish year old mechanic, he was allowed to crank up these planes and move them around on the flightline as needed to facilitate his crew's work. That must have been cool.

Above is an SR-71, made in the 1960's and the first plane to feature radar-absorbing "stealth" coating. This very aircraft travelled from LAX to Dulles in DC in 1 hour and 4 minutes. Had I one of these, I could see Milo every weekend. Its something to think about, eh? Isn't it a fierce looking beast?

We caught an IMAX flick called "Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag"--it was exciting and---who would have believed it---I saw among the pilots in the film one of my college boyfriends. That was a little weird. We also played around in the handful of flight simulators. The girls enjoyed it, but me and Dad, who have both had plenty of opportunities to run actual pilot simulators, it wasn't a big thrill....

I'm not much interested in commercial aviation, but this Clipper Silver Cloud is just beautiful. It was the first airplane with pressurized fuselage for passenger travel. A luxury plane, it accomodated only 33 passengers who all enjoyed private sleeper berths. Dude, I want one of these, too. I love the look of these engines and propellers.

The final frontier
Moving on to the Space exhibits, what major cool stuff!
Here's a Gemini capsule---the actual one that Jim Lovell and whathisname spent 14 days in orbit. This is one small module---there are two small pilot-type seats in very close proximity. I'm sure those guys emerged with pressure sores and psychoses. Its unbelievable to me that they would sit in there for two weeks, unable to move, out in space.


This is the "landing" capsule for the Apollo N mission. I'm sorry, but seriously, NASA must have been out of their collective minds to invest all of those billions of dollars in missions and astronauts to execute them and then allow them to fall to earth from the sky and land in the ocean with what amounts to arm-floaties to keep them from falling to the bottom of the sea.

The space shuttle is flipping HUGE. Very impressive up close. Their exhibit around the space station, etc was really interesting. I'm not so much a space-program fan, believing as I do that we have no business spending that kind of cash on space when so many citizens of this country have so many unmet needs but its hard not to marvel at the wow-factor. Of landing the shuttle, the docent characterized it as having "the glide characteristics of a brick"...must be a hell of a job.

I loved this satellite---it is just so pretty and sparkly...I walked away from this day
pretty conflicted. While I am awe-struck at the technological and mechanical advances displayed there, I'm politically offended that our nation continues to spend so much money on defense and space. In particular, these amazing jets capable of incredible combat that do absolutely nothing for the kinds of conflicts that we find ourselves engaged in. Something is out of wack with our defense planning and strategies.

4 comments:

Lyman said...

hold on a second, you mean my Aunt Mary's hair isn't really red?!

Kathy said...

you are a couple years out of the groove, baby. Aunt Mary let her hair go "au naturel" while they were on the greatest road trip ever last year. And truth be told, She was only ever a red head because she loved HER Aunt Mary so much. She's a brunette, genetically....

I like it silver. Its really pretty. She's really aging beautifully. It makes me feel hopeful...

Lyman said...

I haven't seen a recent picture I guess. She does look great, but the lack of red surprised me.

Kathy said...

The last photo I saw of Carrie I thought her hair looked much less red as well. Truth or illusion?

I think my Mom looks younger, ironically, now that she's not fussing with hair color; its better for her skin, too. But man, oh, man. Dad is looking his age...it doesn't help that he wears great big lenses that are tinted just so...so he looks jaundiced all the time...