Monday, August 29, 2011

An American Panda

After a fun day at the National Zoo, my kids and I were waiting at the Metro for our ride home. The following heartwarming conversation took place:

Me: "Do you like your new stuffed panda?"
My Son: "Oh yes. I love it."
Me: "You and your sister are my little pandas."
My Son: "And you are our panda mother, cause you have a panda stomach... a little bit."
Me: [Forced smile]

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Things I Learned in D.C.

  • While swimming in the hotel pool, it is possible to go up/down the elevator 5 times in a one hour period, allowing a total of ten minutes of actual swimming before it thunders. 
  • A one bedroom apartment is a luxury suite compared to a hotel room, when traveling with kids. (And a nice, big closet technically counts as a second bedroom for baby!)
  • If you are without paperclips or bobby pins, the straw on a can of WD-40 can be used to pick a bathroom lock.
  • Most everything in D.C. is FREE!
  • You can request free tours of the White House, Pentagon, Capitol, etc. from your state representatives.
  • Renting bikes on the national mall is a great way to see the monuments and memorials...
  • ...If your baby hates the Burley, her wailing is a great way to clear the sidewalk of pedestrians ahead of you, and attract the sneers of judgemental people.
  • Aersol sunscreen is considered a potential terrorist weapon when visiting the Capitol and will be disposed of mercilessly, even if it's hot as blazes outside.
  • The Capitol dome is actually two domes: the exterior dome, and a smaller interior dome.
  • The statue on top of the Capitol is named "Freedom".
  • George Washington was 6'2".
  • Martha Washington was a widow with two children when she married George. She and George had no children of their own.
  • The Washington D.C. temple's majesty never fades.
  • The 2 pandas (Mei Xiang and Tian Tian) in the National Zoo are on loan from China for 10 years... just like a lot of our money.
  • The original Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence are on display in the National Archives.
  • The National Archives also has a really cool gift shop.
  • The Arlington Cemetary holds the remains of over 320,000 servicemen and women.
  • Martha Washington's great granddaughter married Robert E. Lee (their home is now part of the Arlington Cemetary).
  • The White House tour is very family friendly, and does not allow strollers, diaper bags, or purses.
  • Anything that happens in D.C. can be increased in significance by titling it, "National". For example: If, while parking, you scrape your car on the garage wall, you can call it a "National Owie" (I give credit to my son on this one!).
  • There is a metro stop called "Foggy Bottom". This is a hit with young children... and some adults.
  • Even if you expect to walk a lot, you have understimated the amount of walking required when visiting D.C.
  • It is impossible to see everything there is to see in D.C. within a month's time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Government is No Robin Hood

While on our trip, I read the article, "Punishing the Rich is Impractical, Unethical", by Michael Medved in USA Today. I am not familiar with Medved, but I found this article very interesting. Here are some of the points I liked (in my words):
  • The top 5% earn 35% of adjusted gross income but pay 59% of all income taxes.
  • It is normal to want to emulate people who are wealthy. It is wrong to want to "annihilate" them.
  • The rich generally work hard, earn money, pay taxes, spend and invest. We should not want to discourage this pattern.
  • Instead, we should focus on ways to break dysfunctional behavior that leads to poverty (help teach new skills, better schools, safer neighborhoods, etc).
  • The government taxes tobacco heavily, and has reduced smoking rates. It also subsidizes loans and grants and has tripled the number of people able to gain a college education. It does not make sense to penalize them.
  • Tax hikes will not penalize the already existing millionaires and billionaires (who live off investments). Instead, it will place obstacles in the way of those trying to become millionaires and billionaires (by taxing income).
  • And in Medved's words: "Though progressives trumpet 'fairness' as their priority, there's nothing fair about government conferring generous dispensations on dysfunctional, dependent conduct and imposing onerous encumbrances on those who enrich both themselves and others. It is both unwise and, at the deepest level, unjust to promote hatred and resentment where gratitude is due and to offer indulgence for values that require correction."

The idea of encouraging good behavior and fixing dysfunctional behavior makes sense to me. I think America's dream is that we all have a chance at wealth. It is wrong to demonize that desire, and the path to wealth should not be discouraged.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to Reality!

For the past month, my family has been living in Washington, D.C. My husband had a month long course he had to attend there, so the rest of us decided to tag along and make the most of it. We had a great time packing in as many of the sites as we could- and there are a lot of sites to be seen!
We returned just in time for the first day of school. It was a great experience, and all of us (except perhaps the baby) have grown a fondness in our hearts for our nation's capital... a fondness that was quickly tempered by two hours of traffic on our return trip.
I expect my blogging will be back on track this week because, 1.) I have lots of fun stories and ideas to post, 2.) my baby's naptime is once again my alone time, and 3.) a smartphone is no longer my primary means of accessing the internet.

Happy New School Year to All!