ellestra: (lightning)
Today we had parliamentary elections in Poland. This isn't the first time I voted in US - that was the last parliamentary election but I was in Washington to get new passport anyway so I voted at the embassy. I also voted in the second turn of this presidential elections when I was back in Poland in May. But this is the first time I voted by mail. You can only do it abroad and you have to sign up early and it's a very short period when you can do it but I managed to do it on the very last day. I got my voting package week and a half ago and sent it back few days ago.

By now the results are out. They are not surprising - all the polls has predicted PiS win and the only question was how many of the lesser parties are going to get in and whether PiS will be able to form a new cabinet by itself. It looks like it will be and all the parties that have programs I agree most with are not even going to get in. This is a disappointment even from an ocean away because I despise PiS. They are the exact opposite of everything I believe in.

They are called conservatives and right but they are so only on social issues. All they are for is exactly what you would expect from religious, nationalistic right party. They are xenophobic, homophobic and against abortion (even in the very limited, only due to mother health issues or genetic diseases, one that is allowed in Poland right now). They are anti-European and so afraid about our neighbouring countries scheming against us that they are willing to sabotage all the international relations in the pursue of some messed up the vision of Great Poland that can stand by itself.

But they are much more dangerous on the economic issues. Because there is where their right wing definition falls apart. And this is really what made them win (being super xenophobic when there are refugees coming helped too, of course) because they went all populist and promised ridiculous thing (giving over a trillion złotys back to people for example). They plan to do this by upping the deficit and that means living on credit (they also previously mentioned nationalising some of the industries so Venezuela?). This is never a good idea but even more for a country like ours - small and easily abandoned by creditors (and Greece shows how badly it can end). It's also not a good idea when the other big part of your policy is being anti-EU and we've been renovating on their money for years now.

I get why people voted for them. We've been leaving economic recession since the beginning of the century and even though economy growth has been steady people never saw it in the raise of the salaries. Way too many are stuck in so called "garbage" jobs that don't come with any benefits and are temporary. They also mean less taxes so the country itself doesn't do well with the basic services - health, eduction, pensions, kids. This is why so many young people left for other countries in Europe (or like me even further away) and why so many feel like there is nothing to go back. The previously ruling party kept asking people for more and more sacrifices (like rising retirement age to 67 from 65 for men and 60 for women) without ever fulfilling any promises about making finding or creating jobs any easier. Everyone needed the change and they flocked to the largest party that offered something different. Just the thing they offer is false gold.

Like it has been 8 years ago when their previous try at ruling crashed and burned and resulted in early elections after just 2 years in power. Of course they blamed their tiny coalition parties for sabotaging their great ideas. They say that ruling alone (and with president from their party) they will make Poland great. But they had president back then too and all they managed to do is build a museum (a very nice museum but country had, and still has, much bigger needs) and it ended with people hating them so much they kept PO in power for 8 years just because everyone hated the thought of PiS in power so much. Now, after almost a decade, bad present became more important than the bad past. But I have too good memory to forget how they were and their - one true - leader speeches clearly indicate not much has changed (e.g. he said that the refugees will bring diseases and parasites so they have to be screened). So how can I believe this is going to be any better this time?

Of course I don't think this will destroy the country or any other disaster scenario like that. It will just be very annoying to live through to anyone not Polish Catholic enough. At worse we get something like Orban in Hungary. At best it will just rack the debt and be completely ineffective. Or I'm completely wrong and they actually make it work but looking at the program and their previous record I'm not very optimistic.

My only hope is that when it goes bad this time there will be no one to blame other than them and this will open the route for a real left party as an alternative. I also hope that the way left was eliminated from Parliament completely this time around means all the old guy clinging to power there will get kicked out finally. Am I too optimistic?
ellestra: (sunrise)
So I'm back in US after two extra hours spent in Toronto due to storm delays. Poland was beautiful as this is the time of year when everything is blooming (I went from lilacs and lily of the valley through the whole azalea and rhododendron blooming season all the way to pseudoacacia) and the weather was behaving perfectly. I got new visa. I met family. I replanted plants. And I (traditionally) got sick. I was too busy to write. Now I'm hiding from the heat as I came back straight into 35C (95F) and above weather (it's supposed to be 37 (99F) for the next 4 days straight). I resent the thought of going outside. I thought the 29-31C (84-89F) weather I was leaving in Poland was bad enough.

Also back - Philae lander. It just contacted Rosetta and the mission control. After 7 months of hibernation due to cold and lack of sunlight it's awake again. Just in time for the summer. It's just like a bear. Everyone's excited. It's been trending on twitter and xkcd has updated the Landing strip.
ellestra: (slingers)
Today everyone celebrated the end of a war that started 100 years ago. My family back home is just finishing a 4 day weekend. They saw light show yesterday but today, on the actual holiday, they obviously stayed home. There is nothing like "patriots" celebrating Independence Day by destroying the capitol to want to avoid celebrating.

So let's concentrate on something better. Middle of the night for me and early morning in Europe Philae will detach from Rosetta and start his descent towards the comet. The whole thing will take about 7 hours and will be transmitted on the web so, if you can, you can have it play in the background at work. He can't wait. Let's hope he succeeds.
ellestra: (tiger)
Tomek Bagiński's new film Ambition tells of a young apprentice (Aisling Franciosi) struggling to master nanotechnology on an alien world and prove herself to her enigmatic master (Aidan Gillen). Here's the trailer:

And if you haven't seen his work or just would like to see it again here it is.
ellestra: (tiger)
Tonight's episode of Blacklist takes our heroes to Warsaw. There were some nice aerial shots of Palace of Culture and Royal Castle and Świętokrzyski Bridge with National Stadium behind it. The train tracks made me feel especially homesick - there are so many of those all over the place. All those poor actors trying to speak Polish - some of it was even understandable (but the background voices sounded like real Polish so I wonder if they filmed part of it there or just got some recordings). Except obviously Polish ones like the taxi guy and the stolen car caller - they really spoke Polish. However, James Spader has pretty decent pronunciation.

Also the stuff in the store - drinks and such looked right - and I feel like whoever wrote this was in Poland (or knows some Poles really well) because that thing about pączki with rose filling was spot on (they are only real ones). But the flag thing is so not - only Americans put flags everywhere. We do not put flags in banks. The only flags not in the government buildings are put on buildings and streets on national holidays (also outside). But including Warsaw flag (yellow/red) was a nice touch (although still not inside banks - that's weird).

And it was pretty obvious from the moment the moment she showed up that Samar Navabi would be Meera's replacement. But I didn't quite expected her working with Reddington so soon (obviously she would to find her brother killer but I didn't expect it so soon).
ellestra: (tiger)
Intelligent Life magazine has asked 7 writers, including Philip Pullman, "Does life have a meaning?". My answer has always been "Generally 'no' but you can make up one for yourself" and also "Why do you think it should?" Or you know "42".

The Future Library project plans to plant 1,000 trees and then get 100 writers to write something that will only be available in 2114 after the trees will be cut for paper to print those works. It's not really any weirder than most art projects but I can't stop wonder whether anyone will care in hundred years? Maybe cutting trees for paper would be like killing whales for skin and there'd be people defending their park from the will of their barbaric ancestors. That could be a good story... And who is going to read paper books anyway?

This so wrong - what if that guy fell of the stairs in panic? But on the other hand I recognised Poland almost instantly. One of my first thoughts was "that building entrance looks very Polish and how we do trash disposal too" and then my hunch proved true when I saw "Winda" written over the lift in the very next setting. You'd think all this type of blocks/parking lots/underground passages would look the same everywhere but they still manage to have enough country specific details that just screamed "home" to me.
ellestra: (tiger)
It's Towel Day today. I hope you all know where your towels are.

I just learned that general Jaruzelski died today. This made me feel weird as he is, for me connected to my early childhood memories. I was to young to care about politics when communism ended but old enough to remember it. So I remember liking going to 1st of May parades - I love them as we would go the whole family and then have ice cream (if it was hot) or sausages (if it was cold) after and they would give us stuff for free (hats, scarves, paper flowers and little flags - my favourite was blue with white dove on it). As I was from Warsaw we were in the big parade that walked by all the dignitaries. I remember Jaruzelski sitting there looking just like on TV with his sunglasses - my first ever celebrity spotting.

My friend (who is also Polish and here on post-doc) was run over by a car few days ago. She was on a bike and a guy decided to just drive into her. Her leg is broken and she's stuck at home. We learned that US medical care is not only overpriced but also lousy - the guy in urgent care wouldn't even wear gloves or clean her wound until she asked him to repeatedly. But she said the policemen were very nice. And even though she is stuck at home she finally has people visiting her at her flat. If only any of us understood how the whole insurance thing works... Everyone here keeps mentioning something about lawyers and that sounds scary.

But the really upsetting thing - at least to certain corners of the internet - is the fact that Edgar Wright and Marvel broke up and he's no longer the director of Ant-Man. I can't say I care either way but I always liked watching the fandom melt down over the smallest things (Quicksilver(s), Ben Affleck, Ben Affleck's Batman costume) like it's the end of the world.

Rainy days

Oct. 11th, 2013 12:55 pm
ellestra: (lightning)
Last weekend was the hight of the summer resurgence. It was getting warmer all week and the weekend was hot and Sunday even hot and humid. I was walking around taking pictures in tank top and shorts and I was overheating and the sky looked like this:

Then on Monday I woke up to rain. It was still warm but it was dark and the rain was falling in steady downpour. And it was bringing down leaves with it. It has been getting colder and colder every day and today it was barely 12oC with a steady drizzle so fine it was little more then a mist but still getting everywhere. The autumn has come.

It's been like this for days and, as I was sitting in the bus trying to look outside through steamed-up windows it felt both weird and familiar. Days and days of such weather are normal in Poland but not here so it felt out of place. It's hard to explain to someone who never change continents. You don't really realise how much sunnier US is then Europe North of Alps. Even I didn't fully realise this until I saw a map showing the relative direct solar-energy availability in the United States, Spain, and Germany (red = highest, purple = lowest). Poland is a lot like Germany.

So here, normally, even where it rains, it rains at night. Days, even when cold, are mostly sunny. And even if they are not it doesn't last. Dark, cloudy, rainy weather for more then even one day is rare and for more then two weird. Except this year it happened over and over again and so did colder days in summer and sudden weather changes. Somehow, every time it happens I'm struck with a bout of homesickness. Especially, when looking through steamed-up bus windows, when it almost looks like home.
ellestra: (telamon)
Here it's basically summer or at least Polish summer - around 30o and very green - since oppressive heat and humidity are little late this year. But back home it's still spring and my favourite part of it - azalea blooming season. My family, after many, many pleas, finally sent me the pictures of my azaleas and rhododendrons and they are exactly as I always wanted them to be - full of flowers and very colourful:

Edit: I'm only semi-concious this week so I keep forgetting to switch to public after I finish editing. YAY hey fever XP
ellestra: (lightning)
When I leaving for Boston it was pretty cold for North Carolina (I was wearing jeans and long sleeves and I was cool) and the storm was coming. When I came back from Boston it was still pretty cool - just over 20C. Then it got hot for few day 27 - 30 which, from my experience so far, is normal for here. Of course this would sound more impressive if it wasn't just a tiny bit colder in Poland that week. And it pretty soon ended by becoming more humid then hot. It's still better then hot and humid but humidity itself was so bad that even with lower temperatures you could overheat just by breathing. Coming into our air conditioned buildings made you feel like you were steaming. It also made you sweat even more as your body suddenly was revelling in regaining the ability to cool you down.

This weather reminds me of Junes in Poland. The fact that the clovers are blooming on the sides of the roads and the grasses are flowering and, if you don't look close enough and ignore the poison ivy and run over turtles, it looks just like Poland in June too. But most of all it smells like it. That mix of grass and pine needles and humidity with the occasional cold draft coming from the shade is very typical for Polish June. Not here. Here's usually just hot and humidity smells like indoor swimming pool.

It reminds me of the village my grandma lived in and where I would spend summers and weekends. We would sit outside on the weekend eating and drinking and batting away mosquitoes. Or go on biking trips. It just smells like Polish countryside and it makes me feel homesick. But it also, somehow, helps me feeling less homesick. I've been little depressed ever since my grandma died and feeling alone and so far away from home. Now, I walk around and smell the rain and it just brings all the nice memories and I feel a little better.

It's pouring outside again right now but after that we are supposed to get few days of drier, cooler weather. Sunny, just above 20 with little wind is my perfect weather so I'm planning to spend this holiday weekend outside. Before this exceptionally cold May ends and the inevitable heat and humidity starts for good.
ellestra: (winged)
My grandmother just died - her funeral was today and I couldn't make it - there wasn't enough time for me to get there on time. Instead I was just walking all depressed for the past couple of days. She was very sick for a long time. She had stroke years ago. She got much better but she then she started believing she can do all she did before and got another stroke. Still she was still pretty good for few years after. We talked through Skype and she could see me. When she was a kid all there was was radio and they didn't even have it since they didn't have electricity till the 70s in her village (and phones till after communism fell - there where notorious problems with getting a phone line in communist Poland). She lived long enough to do videocalls with me over the ocean though the internet. She kept asking me about new technologies (especially genetics) and, even though she knew about them mostly from Radio Maryja (awful, awful garbage), she was closer to understanding them then a lot of younger people I know. Just thinking about how many changes she had to get used to in her life and how many of those came recently and she still was able to use them reminds me how great she was.

Main reason I went home for Christmas was knowledge that was my last chance to see her. She wasn't able to talk to me for months. It was harder and harder for her to concentrate and respond to what was happening around andd even to have a conversation. We were told she probably had series of microstrokes. She still had moments one could talk with her when I was in Poland but it got worse and worse and she could barely even eat at the end. It still hit me bad when my dad told me. She was my last grandparent.

I also need to go to Boston in May so I planning my trip when the whole thing happened. Now, my parents are nervous at the though of me going there even if logically a chance that anything like that will happen again so soon in the same is extremely low (I think it's even safer now). Also the flight home I was thinking about was through Boston - I would probably got stuck and never made it anyway. Still watching the footage on repeat on the news I couldn't help noticing Polish flag right in the middle of the screen and that made me even more sad and angry. Because I wish I could be with my family right now instead of all alone here with everyone to busy to talk to me. Because all those people who were just enjoying life and now won't ever again and their family who lost their loved ones in one moment for whatever stupid reason it was done for.

Then I went outside and badly twisted my ankle today. So fun week so far...
ellestra: (sunrise)
I've been very busy last week. It was because of the experiments I needed to do and because I had to plan for conference and training trips and because I also had to prepare my data for incoming lab meeting and data for people who we work with because they were just waiting for it to submit their paper. So I didn't watch any news except looking at BBC and some Polish news portals to check if the world still exists. I even forgot it was Women's Day until it was almost over. Then I just went to see a movie on Saturday to relax (I picked something that were supposed to be visually pretty and fluffy and I left only half satisfied and rather irritated but reminded me about the real meaning of Women's Day).

So when I overslept today I wasn't aware how much I overslept. It's spring and my asthma is acting up, especially after they changed my main medicine (it was supposed to be better but it's worse and I need to change it back tomorrow), so I usually can't sleep. I wake up because I can't breathe. So I was pretty surprised that when I finally decided to wake up it was already 10 on my watch. I was even more surprised when it turned out it was actually 11.

If not for all the OS devices automatically updating time I would be totally unaware it was time change time already. Somehow I remembered it as being two weeks before what we do in Europe (which always happens on the last weekend of March) so I expected this to happen next weekend. That's how it always been since I've been here. But it turns out it's actually changed in US on the second weekend of March. This is usually 2 weeks before Europe - except for a year like this one when March has 5 full weekends - and then there is 3 weeks difference. So I already am on Summertime and Poland changes to it, once again, on Easter (it always makes me pity those who feel the need to go for the 6 am mass).

And this way I have an extra week of only 5 hour difference between here and home this year. Maybe I'll even manage to skype with people during the weekdays.
ellestra: (muppets)
I flew back on Friday and spent a weekend trying to sleep off the jetlag while fighting the remains of the cold. My voice still breaks a little but it's almost gone. Of course the dry cough will stay for few more weeks. That's just how it works when I'm sick. No fever - excess of phlegm and coughing. So that's how my year started.

I had a pretty good flight this time. I almost slept. I met a friend I studied biology with on the plane. I walked around. I spent 4 hours on JFK. Next day I skyped with my mum and had the weirdest feeling when I saw her sitting in that room I was just in when I realised I'm now an ocean away. Plane travel boring and tedious, yet still amazing.

Meanwhile the first week of 2013 is behind us and everyone did their reviews of last year and lists of best. Locus posted the results of its polls for the best SSF in two centuries (full version here). io9 did a whole cycle of post reviewing 2012 and a post about genre shows coming in 2013.

Adam of the Wertzone and Patrick of the Pat's Fantasy Hotlist did their annual list of best. Larry on OF blog not only shared his best novels, collections and non-English language fiction of 2012 but also collected lists of other people.

I haven't really thought about mine. I was to busy enjoying having a cat and a family.
ellestra: (lightning)
My cold doesn't want to go away and I didn't have the luxury of postponing family because I'm leaving on Friday so now I'm speechless. I spent last two days taking with family, playing with kids and visiting my grandmother (for the last time, I'm afraid) and by the time I came home last evening I my larynx felt like it was on fire and I could only whisper. The pain subsided by I still can't talk. However, the only other symptom is running nose so two more day at home should make me plane ready.

I also went to see town fireworks with my parents and took some pictures. Then we went to 24h pharmacy.

My cat didn't appreciate the explosions. He is not very afraid - doesn't hide or panic but he doesn't like to be alone when they happen. However, I wanted to go and see it because I missed proper fireworks with snow (from the artificial skating rink) and people drinking champagne(-like) all around me.

So lets welcome 2013 properly - with noise and fire.

Happy New Year

ellestra: (lightning)
As you, probably, noticed the world didn't end (again), the Holidays are over and the New Year is almost here. I'm still kind of drowsy after all the food and all the family meetings but also from the cold I managed to catch. It's not bad but it's my first since I went to US and got sick right after I got there. So I went home and caught something just like half of the country it seems. I wonder if it's higher population density or the weather but I never managed to avoid winter sickness in Poland even when I'm inoculated against the flu like now. Or maybe I'm more resistant to illnesses from people who are not as closely related to me and therefore have different immune systems. But most likely it's because I don't meet children in US - those incubators of the worst plagues (I know I was one of them).

Anyway, I was fine for the first week when it first snowed and then got really cold. It was -10 or below during the day and the world was covered in snow or finely powdered ice:

Then the weather changed just before Christmas laughing at our faces for thinking it was going to be the white one. temperatures rose above 0 on Christmas Eve and the rain dealt got rid of the rest of the snow. It was +7 on Christmas and all that was left was some remnants of ice because the ground was frozen. Now the world is made of mud. In other words typical Polish winter.

Luckily I went to see the Christmas decorations on Warsaw's Royal Route when the snow was still there and it looked pretty - Nowy Świat i Krakowskie Przedmieście:

I like those glass bolls hanging from lamp posts best:


Dec. 15th, 2012 11:57 pm
ellestra: (winged)
I'm all packed and start my journey home early tomorrow (early because after they switched my flight to Chicago 3 times I ended up with 5 hour layover there - I have to stop connecting through Chicago as things like that keep happening). This means this is probably my last post for a while - maybe even till next year.

I'm leaving you with a short movie and a parody.

Tempo from Red Giant on Vimeo.

This Gangam parody is worth watching just for the "Hey Science Lady, hey it's amazing..." part.
ellestra: (lightning)
My family kept skyping me today because it's snowing in Poland or at least it snowed for a whole Saturday. In October*. Somewhere outside the mountains. So much it covered streets and grass and my nephew made a snowman. That had leaves stuck in it because the trees are not barren yet. It was above zero so the snow was wet and sticky and turning into water but the temperature dropped below freezing when it got dark so they expect it to last for couple of days (it will get frozen and that melts slower then the snow). I keep thinking how pretty it's going to look tomorrow morning. My parents how they won't get any more power outages.

My brother shared some of his photos from today - and it's really quite a lot of snow - and couple days ago when it was still 20o and sunny and picture perfect autumn. He was on a trip to mountains (called "work training") and he complained it was almost to warm for walking the trails. Tonight it's supposed to be -7. But it also supposed to be sunny tomorrow and I wish I could be there to see all that snow stuck to trees and weeds. The picture of perfect winter wonderland. You can say I miss it. There was no winter here last time.

Meanwhile, I was waiting for Sandy to drop cold and rain on me but all I got was a very cloudy and mildly windy day so I did laundry. The only thing that made me sad was that the wind, which is supposed to get even stronger, is taking so many leaves from the trees. I was hoping for the colours to last a little longer so I could take more photos of them. That's what autumn is for - being picturesque. It's failing at its purpose in my life proving once again that the world does not revolve around my needs. Stupid world.

It was supposed to get cold but it was still around 20 and snow is still hard to imagine. And I was thinking of snow because some forecasts predicted sudden drop in temperature around here and cold rain and even snow closer to the mountains. It still shows 9o for Tuesday but earlier it was even lower. As I mentioned before this was unusually cold October for this part of the world.

*It usually doesn't snow in Poland (except in the mountains) so early and the first snow isn't usually as intense and melts right away. However, this doesn't mean anything. It can be last snow this year. It might be start of 5 month winter. Polish weather is weird this way. I wonder if I'll see any snow when I'll go home for Christmas.
ellestra: (tiger)
Poland lost and got eliminated from Euro (can't say it was unexpected but hope always dies last). This is the first really big, international sports event in Poland and it would've been nice if we could keep playing. I watch mostly the in-between matches reports because it so nice to see home and Poland of Euro certainly looks pretty on TV (although I could do with less racism reports) and I can keep doing that but now without extra fun of hearing the commentators trying to pronounce Polish surnames.

Bat-bridges do nothing to save the bats. Bats have their favourite flying paths they use for hunting and they often go close to the ground to protect them from other predators. If a road gets built in the middle of such path bats get killed by cars. The bat gantries or bridges are currently thought to be the best way to protect them by showing them a new path. However, new research shows that bats completely ignore those and keep using the old path. And die.

[livejournal.com profile] grrm admitted what we all knew (it was certainly something I thought about as soon as HBO started making Game of Thrones) - he writes very slowly and may not be able to finish before TV series catches up to the books. Maybe they really should start changing things and don't look back.

And speaking of GoT - there is that George W. Bush head on a spike thing (they just had some lying around and because making them is expensive they used it and now people are loosing their shit) and in the latest installment they are pulling the episode to erase it from it so if you have the old version hold on to it. I don't really care either way - not my president after all - but the whole thing is both funny and a little bit sad. Martin wanted to have cameo like that but they couldn't afford it.
ellestra: (Default)
Yesterday was sunny and warm. It was 26 during the day and the night started so warm I was overheating under mu comforter.  It was like summer decided to go with a blast.

When I woke up today it was autumn. Just like that it was November outside. The air was chill, the sky was covered with clouds and the tress become more colourful overnight. The highest temperature during the day was 10C and then it started to drizzle. Or maybe it was just fog. Or something in between. It's supposed to rain for real tomorrow and then when the clouds will go away we are up for the first frost as the temperature can drop below 0 tomorrow night. This made me remember what time of year this is. Just before the 1st of November. I felt like I should be on cemetery. This weekend is for visiting graves. Is it weird that I miss that?

I always liked All Saints Day (and the weekend nearest to it). I like the cemeteries full of lights, blazing in the night even from afar. And so full of flowers. But what I really like, as I suppose with every holiday, is family time. Both walking together in cold November and lighting lights and the sitting with hot tea and cookies in warm rooms after. But I think I have a soft spot for it because it was one of few times of year we were allowed to play with fire as kids. We got sweets and balloons. And there were squirrels.

This need a little explanation. I saw cemeteries here in US and they are completely different then the ones in Poland. There are no walls. And they really look like a big lawns with small vertical stones coming out of the grass. Here, there is one that is just across the street from a pool of an apartment complex. I never was afraid of cemeteries but this kind of creeped me out. It's probably because water go into and dead humans are something I was taught to avoid.

In Poland cemeteries are completely different. They had to be fenced and the ones in the cities are behind walls. The graves stick above the ground and are mostly made of some type of stone. There are often flowers growing on or by the graves or even rose bushes. And on the old cemeteries there are a lot of old trees. This means a lot of cleaning up the leaves this time of year but it also means that they are like a park. With much less people then parks usually get except of course this time of the year.

This means there are a lot of animals living there. My family is buried in one of the old, big Warsaw cemeteries. We would take walnuts with us as we went there and feed the squirrels (the red, European ones with tufted ears I miss too). If you stayed still enough with a nut on your outstretched hand they would come and grab it from you.

Halloween just lacks any positive childhood connection for me to care about it. It's just something I saw on TV.
ellestra: (Default)
I just came back home from Washington. I applied for new passport and I voted. I needed to do first and my friend made me realise I picked the election weekend so I registered and voted. I didn't do it last year in presidential election as it's a little too far. This year I was there anyway so there was no excuse. Even if I didn't travel I could've theoretically voted as this was the first election we could've voted by mail. However, everyone I know said they learned too late about that option (me too frankly but I was there in person). The important part is that the reasonable people won so the country shouldn't crash and burn any time soon so I should've a place to come back to. And for the first time the same party stays in power for the second term.

I saw at least some of the most iconic sights in Washington - White House (smaller then I thought), Washington Monument (bigger then I thought) and I walked the National Mall. Although, I didn't see all as the Washington Monument is closed after being cracked by the earthquake, the Reflecting Pool is a big mud pit and the museum I really wanted to see - the Air and Space one was closed because of protesters. But I had great time at the National Zoo and Museum of Natural History and saw the Capitol and the Library of Congress. But my timing was a little off as today is the Columbus Day - the only day in the year when the Reading Room of the Library of Congress is opened to the public and I left the city just as it opened. My last day for sightseeing was yesterday and a friend took me me to Potomac waterfalls and it was perfect sunny day. You'll have to wait for the photos though as they are still have to be transferred and processed.

May 2016

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