The Hope Diamond on display at the Smithsonian museum of Natural History
The end of the adventure. Today, as many of you know, was Friday (OK, technically speaking, today, as I type this, it's Saturday. Either way, it's the end of the week). I honestly can't remember the last time I had so much fun at a conference (granted, I haven't been to that many, but still....). This year was better than last year's (and last year's was great!). I'm sure next year will be even better.
I'll miss the people I've met on the trip. Come Monday, I won't be able to chat all day, discussing GoogleTM pitchforks, OS's and GoogleTM rule #2 (oh, what the heck, there were so many jokes about GoogleTM I lost count), how Canadians are really brain-eating zombies (that was started when one of the speakers, talking about tech in the military, was asked why we hadn't taken over Canada. His answer was, “because we want to fight someone who will fight back”), and what we really think of the people giving the talks. And how can I forget the person who added a caffeine packet to a 20oz bottle of Diet Pepsi? While I am ready to get back and see Wife, I really did have a good time this year, and hope to be able to attend next year. However, there are two things that could stand in my way – 1) Baptist State Convention, if it's scheduled for the same time period as it has been the last two years, will also happen the same week and 2) Co-Worker was supposed to go this year, but he opted not to. By all rights, he should have dibs on next year. I would actually like to see him go, but honestly, I just don't think he's that interested. I guess you get to a point in life where travel and hanging out with a bunch of geeks just doesn't do much for you. At any rate, I have plenty to keep me busy before now and then that there's no point in thinking about it now.
So, today was the last day of the conference. I began my day around the same time I did every other day this week, ~6:45. Took a shower, threw on clothes, and debated between OpenCity and McDonald's for breakfast. Did the McDonald's thing. I had plans for what I wanted to do tonight for dinner, which would pretty much calorically take care of my meals for the day anyway (oh, heck, for the next 3 days!), so I was going to try something pretty light. Went for the egg mcmuffin, sans hashbrown. Sadly, they forgot the “sans hashbrown” part and gave it to me anyway. So, that was my breakfast. Didn't hang out too long in the restaurant, though I did read out of Ezekiel while I was there. Went on back to the hotel to hear one of the talks. The speaker was really good, though, for the life of me, I can't remember what the title of his talk was. I do remember lots of pretty pictures. Which is always a good thing.
After the first talk, went out for some coffee at break and ended up right back in the same conference room for the next talk. The next talk was really good, though the speaker was quite a bit different than the first was. He was very “shiny” and wore a suit. I joked with some others that he looked like he bathed regularly, and wore a suit, so he wasn't a true geek. At any rate, both of the morning sessions were very good.
After the second talk, it was lunch. I went across the hall to the terminal room where I could go and use my laptop and print out what I needed. It took me about an hour to figure out what I wanted to do, where to go, when to go. Took my stuff up to the room, ditched the unnecessary stuff, and left.
I didn't remember it being so cold when I went to McD's for breakfast, but when I went out to catch the Metro, it was COLD! Took the Metro to Metro Center, the big hub of everything metro-y. Went out on the street, and wandered around. Was trying to find “The National Mall”, and eventually did. I had three places I'd intended to go – Holocaust Museum, FBI bulding, and the Printing and Engraving building. The first two I'd done when Wife and I came to DC back in 98 and really wanted to visit them again. The third we couldn't for some reason, so I wanted to go there on this trip. So, where did I start? The Natural History Museum. Which, though I liked it, I'm upset about because I spent more time than I would've liked. After that, went to the Holocaust Museum. As I was walking through it, it occurred to me that we had just had the anniversary of the bombing at Peal Harbor, which brought the US into the war. The Holocaust Museum was very powerful – seeing the pictures taken, watching the videos, and hearing the testimonies of those who survived. There was a picture of a group of 4 survivors who gathered in 1999 and proudly displayed their arms with their id numbers tattooed on their arms. I watched a video on the various experiments the Nazis conducted on their prisoners, which just made me ill. But for some reason, one of the most moving parts was the hall with wall the shoes in it. Seeing the shoes of the victims in those bins just really moved me. Thinking of the women and children who were separated from one another, or killed together broke my heart. What made me mad was, in order to really get to appreciate the museum, it takes about 3 hours. I only had an hour and a half.
One of the most interesting things I learned about in the museum was the Nazi rise to power. I don't know if I never learned this in school, or how I missed it (I will admit I was far from the most astute student in High School). After WW1, Germany was completely devastated and there was no real leadership in the governement. The people were hurt, demoralized, frustrated, and confused. The people were desperate for order. Though several parties tried to fill the gap (Communists, Socialists, Liberal and Conservative, I believe), none of them could really get their acts together enough to convince the people they could make things better. Hitler was able to do what the others couldn't. Although he didn't get elected President, he was made Chancellor, and eventually, through fear and tyranny, became dictator. He went on to kill 6 million Jews, plus many, many more of those he deemed “inferior”.
I'd often wondered what it was that could make an entire country buy into “The Final Solution”. These were good people who were looking for hope, peace, and solace from their government. With Hitler's charisma and incredible propaganda machine, he was able to convince the country that he could make things better.
What I think what was even more amazing was the fact that, as the Jews were desperate to leave Europe, no one wanted to help them. Not even the US. What could've been prevented if the US had gotten involved earlier?
The Museum was absolutely amazing.
After the museum, I made my way on the Metro to Clarendon, where I would visit the highlight of my trip – CheeseCake Factory! I hadn't eaten lunch, so I was ready. Ended up eating all the bread they gave me, then my turkey sandwich/house salad/clam chowder combo I ordered. Then, the grand finale – Adam's Peanut Butter Chocolate Reese's all-sorts-of-bad-sugar-and-fat things cheesecake! Sadly, by this point, I was so full, but I was NOT going to leave CCF without eating their cheesecake. So I ate it. And I was incredibly uncomfortable for the rest of the evening.
After that, I took the Metro to Gallery Pl. Wandered around in below freezing temperatures for a little while before finally finding the movie theater. I was hoping that it would be in a shopping mall so I could hang out till the movie started at 10:05, but no such luck. The Capitals were playing down the street, which would've been fun. But yeah....
Got to the movie theater, bought my ticket, and tried to figure out what to do for 3 hours. Hopped on the Metro, went back to Metro Center, because there was a Barnes & Noble near by. Was walking by a table and a cover caught my eye – The Unusual Suspect. It's a play on The Usual Suspects, a movie that starred, among others, Stephen Baldwin.
For those who aren't familiar with him, Stephen is probably the goofiest of the Baldwin brothers. I didn't get to read a whole lot, but several years ago (I believe it was shortly after 09/11/2001), he gave his life to Christ and began an extreme sports ministry to reach out to youth called Livin It . Because of this ministry, he's able to reach youth in a way that others can't (or won't).
What amazes me about the book is, he's not an elegant writer. He doesn't use big, theological, smart-sounding words. It's simple, but he tells his story. And that's what a testimony is, just telling the story of what Christ is doing through you.
My hat's off to you, Stephen!
I'm posting, as this has been a week in the making. Will continue later.