Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Day in D.C. With Starlight Foundation

The Starlight Children's Foundation is one of the local organizations that provides entertainment events for families with a critically ill child.  They also provide gaming systems to the pediatric wards at local hospitals.  These gaming systems are Wiis and Play Stations mounted on a cart that can be wheeled from room to room.  For children that have compromised immune systems and are confined to isolation in their room during their entire hospital stay, which sometimes can be weeks long, these gaming systems provide much needed entertain.

Starlight Children's Foundation asked our family if we would be interested in joining them for a day in Washington, D.C. to tour the Capitol building and meet our Congressional representatives.  You know me - I jumped on this opportunity.  Unfortunately, it was my daughter's down-week (Vincristine and Dexamethason), so there was no way she would be able to attend.  She would be grouchy, irritable, inconsolable, irrational, tired, emotional, and downright miserable.  Fortunately, Starlight Children's Foundation allowed me to attend with no other members of my family.

We were meeting in the Rayburn House Office Building at 10am.  I don't travel in rush hour traffic much, especially in rush hour traffic to Washington, D.C.  Traffic down U.S. 29 was insane.  I think it moved at about 90 mph and was jam-packed.  It was a chain-reaction accordion accident waiting to happen.  I parked at the Silver Spring Metro parking lot, which requires that you put 72 quarters in the meter for several hours of time.  Is that a roll of quarters in your pocket for the parking meter at the Silver Spring Metro parking lot, or are you happy to see me?

The ride on the metro to Union Station was fairly quick.  The walk from Union Station to the Rayburn Building probably took more time.  I finally made it to the building and waded my way through airport security, only without the airport.  We met in room 2203.  It seemed like a while before we got going as we had to gather a group of about 100 people.

This is an actual sign in the Rayburn Building.  You know what an Internal Relocation Site is?  Is a freakin' stairwell!!!  I guess my house has an internal relocation site.  I can't wait to yell at my kids for leaving their shoes on the internal relocation site.

Once we left, we found Lyndon LaRouche outside demanding the immediate impeachment of President Obama.  If we do not pursue his impeachment with any sense of urgency, we will suffer the effects of World War III with Russia.  Uh......okay.

I took this guy's picture.  He didn't seem to mind, but he told me that since I took his picture I should take his handout, which I did.  And promptly put it in the closest paper recycling bin after I read a few lines of his paranoid conspiracy theorist propaganda.

We arrived at the Visitor's Center at the Capitol.  This place gives the National Zoo a run for it's monopoly on insanity.  There must have been several thousand people there.  I was a bit disappointed with the Visitor's Center.  A few pictures.  A few interactive computers.  An amphitheater showing a very short film on the history of the Capitol building.  And some relief maps documenting certain snapshots in time of the Capitol area.  And lots of long lines.  The gift shop?  Probably as big as a large bathroom.

We finally got a tour of the Capitol.  We sat in the gallery in the House of Representatives.  Eric Cantor was on the floor talking with some colleagues.  I didn't recognize anyone else. Unfortunately no cameras are allowed in this area, so no pictures.  There was only a total of maybe 10 Representatives there the entire time.  It was humorous to watch them give speeches from the podium to a room full of empty chairs.  I guess they were speaking to the CSPAN audiences.

Later we toured the rotundas.  This is where we saw House Speaker John Boehner walk by.  Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera ready and he walked by really fast.  Buy I saw his piercing blue eyes and his George Hamilton tan.  There was no mistaking him.  He's the blurry in this picture.  Honest!

Finally we broke for lunch, which was really good.  I got a ham sandwich on sourdough bread.  It was a huge slice of bread, just like our national debt.

After lunch we headed to see the Maryland Congressional delegation.  We got word that no elected officials from Maryland were in town (sigh), so we were getting to meet a 25year old staff member of Senator Barbara Mikulski in the Hart Senate Office Building.  He was very polite and listened to our stories and our concerns.  And he told us that whatever our causes were, Senator Mikulski was a champion and supporter of those causes.  I should have mentioned term limitations and non-gerrymandered Congressional districts.

I finally got out of town and onto a red line train around 4pm.  I needed to get to my son's baseball game by 6pm.  Plenty of time, right?  I got there right at 6pm wearing my business casual outfit rather than my cargo shorts and baseball shirt.  At least I was there, despite the fact that I forgot the scorebook and the lineup.

Route 29 moved about 8 mph in the evening.  It did give me the opportunity to take a picture of my favorite license plate - Washington, D.C. - Taxation Without Representation! (I'll post that picture when I have a computer with photo editing software!)

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