Photo: The National Museum of African American History and Culture

The sun constantly paints new stories on the exterior of the new Museum of African American History and Culture on the Capital Mall.

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I took this photo of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in June. During previous trips to D.C. during the past few years, I had seen the building at different phases of its construction and had been curious about how the exterior panels would work when finished. This weekend (September 24, 2016), the museum is opening officially, and I’m happy to see that the photo is used by lots of news sites in their coverage. (Almost all of my photography on Flickr is licensed using Creative Commons 4.0 so that anyone can use them for any purpose if they attribute the source.)

I’m passionate about photography, but purely as a hobby. Primarily, I am intrigued by the ways sunlight creates an interplay between nature and the man-made. Having such an interest makes the new museum a place for two types of reflection: The metaphor type a visitor can have by sitting and watching its patterns change caused by the non-metaphor kind of reflection of the sun’s dance on the building’s exterior.

In Smithsonian magazine, before construction on the museum began, architect David Adjaye described the bronze mesh that enables the reflection:

“(It is) a really complicated part of the building, where we’ve really been sort of inventing a new material, a bronze-coated alloy and devising a new a new way of applying it. Essentially, we are looking towards the guild traditions of the South. The freed slaves would move into professional guilds, including the ironworking guild. There were very skilled African-American casters— a lot of the early architecture of Louisiana and the South was built by black people. So what we wanted to do was somehow acknowledge that important beginning of transition from the agrarian to the professional class, and to reference this powerful casting tradition.”

Like any great art, the building (powered by the sun) will reveal different stories to different people who see it.

About the photo

While in D.C., I had a couple of hours free between meetings and other commitments, so I grabbed a Captial Bikeshare bike about an hour before sunset and did what superstar photographer Bob Schatz calls “chasing light.” (My “training” as an amateur photographer consists of marveling — and staring — at the incredible work of Bob and other photographers whose work has appeared in Hammock publications or other projects during the past 25 years.)

I had scouted the area earlier in the day and guessed that a good place to shoot a photo would be from the sidewalk on the east side of Pennsylvania Avenue. I got very lucky. Had I taken the photo from any other angle or location, the wall would have looked flat. Thirty feet up or down the Pennsylvania Ave. sidewalk, the light didn’t work like this — it was monochromatic.

As I said, when I posted the shot on my Flickr account, I granted permission for anyone to use the photo for any reason, with attribution. It’s been fun to see that over 20 websites have used the photo in their coverage of the opening of the museum. Here’s a Google image search of my photo with each photo representing a place it is being used on the web.

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(Oh, and one more thing: Shot with an iPhone 6)

Nashville, an Observation

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(Updated: See at bottom) I am merely an observer of these things, okay, but….

Tonight, the Nashville/Davidson County Commission has the chance to both de-criminalize the possession of a small amount of marijuana and reject an ATT/Comcast anti-Google Fiber effort. (Note: For those who are stumbling upon this post, I live in Nashville.)

While I’m merely an observer, let me observe this: When  national media refer to Nashville as the “it city,” this is what they are talking about. (If both measures pass, that is.)

Oh, and another mere observation.

Other than people who work for ATT and Comcast and their families, I can’t think of two companies that people complain about more.

Most civilians, however, love the Google.

“We have Google fiber” is definitely has ‘it city’ cred.

BONUS: I am more than an observer of this. It’s a list of the 50 best bicycle cities in the U.S. Know what city isn’t included? Nashville. There are at least 50 cities (and lots more) that have better bicycle paths and infrastructure and support than Nashville.

That is how a city loses its “it city” cred.

(Updated, 10:30 p.m.)

Nashville/Davidson County Metro Council just voted 35-3 to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. You read that correctly: 35-3. While I’m sure our whacky state legislature will try to override it, this is one of those measures that obviously has legs.

Earlier in the meeting, the council voted by a voice vote to reject Comcast’s and ATTs transparent efforts to squash Google Fiber.

Both Comcast and ATT (neither of which had plans for gigabyte internet when Google Fiber announced their plans) warned Metro they were going to sue if they lost tonight.

While I’m not a lawyer, I do know that both ATT and Comcast exist in their current conglomerated fashions because the Department of Justice were promised in all sorts of ways that their two mergers wouldn’t be harmful to competition.

I’m sure there will be plenty of fodder in those two DOJ decisions — with lots of promises that will not be helpful in their efforts to kill Google Fiber.

But that’s just a guess by someone who is merely passing this along.

Last note: This is the first time in the nearly 40 years I’ve lived in Nashville that I’ve actually watched a Metro Council meeting.

Happy 100th Birthday National Parks

National Parks have made me happy, so it’s only appropriate for me to wish them a happy 100th birthday today.

I love the national treasures found within the National Park system. The photos below are from a Flickr album of photos I took at Teton National Park (and adjacent National Forests) in Wyoming. My family and I have been there several times–but never enough. We’ve been to nearby Yellowstone, as well. But Teton park tugs at me. If you are a fan of the film Shane, the majestic mountains in the background of most shots look very similar to this photo as much of that movie classic was filmed in this area called Moose, Wyoming.

My favorite national park east of the Rockies is Acadia in Maine, which  is like visiting several parks because of the variety of its natural beauty. You’ll be looking one minute at crashing waves and the next moment feel like your are driving through the Rockies.

 

Grand Teton National Park, 2013

Many years ago, I was able to ask the head of the U.S. Park system (at the time) what his favorite national park was. Without pause, he said, “Glacier.” It’s been on my bucket list ever sense. Close to home, the Natchez Trace Parkway, not technically a national park, but managed by the U.S. Park Service, is a 440 mile of road that I’ve biked on for much of the Tennessee portion, but it, too, has about 400 miles of bicycling bucket list to it, also.

Happy birthday, national parks. You’ve made me happy on many, many occasions.

Why Trump Doesn’t Tweet About the Olympics or Polls

Just because.

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Why Trump Doesn’t Tweet About the Olympics

“The Olympics is about the worst thing that could have happened to the Trump train. Here’s a candidate whose message depends entirely on convincing Americans that they’re living in a failing nation overrun by criminal immigrants. And for the past two weeks, tens of millions of Americans have been glued to a multi-ethnic parade of athletes, winning easily. “Make America Great Again” has never felt more out-of-touch than it does against the backdrop of tenacious, over-achieving American athletes driven by their own journeys in pursuit of the American Dream.”

VIA | Politico.com

Trump Isn’t Tweeting About The Polls Anymore

“Trump rarely tweets about polls these days. Indeed, he’s done so only four times in the past 30 days. During the same period in the primary season — as far out from the Iowa caucuses as we are from Election Day now — he tweeted about polls 103 times.”

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VIA | FiveThirtyEight.com

When disaster strikes “someplace else,” first send money | 2016 | Floods

When natural disasters occur, our first reaction may be to send things. First, send money.


NOLO.com | How to help the victims of the Louisiana flood


Over the years, I have re-posted this far too many times: the following words about natural disasters and the human toll they take. I believe social media, writ large, make such events more personal to us all — a shared phenomena, even for those of us not on the scene.

Unfortunately, we live in an era of natural disasters and continue to see the human toll they take. I believe social media, writ large, make such events more personal to us all — a shared phenomena, even for those of us not on the scene.

When we start to see the images of these disasters, our first impulse is “go help.”

However, I’ve also learned from writing about these disasters (and having one occur in my hometown) that it’s always better to give the local citizens and experienced officials and non-government agencies a few days to address the immediate needs and to assess what the longer-term needs will be.

As I’ve written before, in the first days of any disaster, for those of us not on the scene, the best way we can help is always: first, send money.

This is especially true when a disaster is so widespread as Hurricane Sandy appears to be.

Personally, and because of advice I’ve been given by individuals who have been on the front lines of such disasters, I contribute, in a designated way, to the Salvation Army as it is supposed to be one of the most efficient ways to support first-responder, essential needs efforts.

Of course, there are many groups through which you can make such contributions.