My year in cities, 2020

Likewise, I got one road trip in before we all went home. No Turkey Day dinner at Charlie’s this year, alas.

Overnight stays in 2020:

On deck: 20

Bookshelf December 2020 1/2Bookshelf December 2020 2/2Diminished by a year of no book exchanges, no visits to the ARC shelf at work, no used book sales, and judicious avoidance of booksellers; augmented by a couple of thoughtful holiday gifts from friends—I’ve reduced the three boxes plus shelf to one box plus shelf.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I’m not reading that much more these days. I have set aside what was my morning commute time for reading. But evening commute time has evaporated into reading the news and wondering what to stream for the evening. Reading at home, as opposed to reading on the train, is more conducive to material like Chris Ware and books that require flipping back to a reference book. I have picked up a collection of French short stories with English parallel texts that had languished for a while.

Ready for another GoToMeeting

maximum isolation coifAt my desk away from my desk, 12 weeks since we started working remotely full-time. I’ve added a larger work table, a second monitor, and a rolling desk chair since I moved in. The overhead lighting is actually flattering in this case. But that’s the end of the shaggy hair: hair salons in Montgomery County reopened this week.

My year in cities, 2019

Overnight stays in 2019:

  • New York, Manhattan County, New York
  • Shepherdstown, Jefferson County, West Virginia 1 2 3 4
  • Reykjavík, Iceland (2 stays) (and)
  • Brjánsstaðir, Iceland
  • Vík, Iceland
  • Höfn, Iceland
  • Egilsstaðir, Iceland
  • Mývatn, Iceland
  • Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • Martinsburg, Berkeley County, West Virginia (Thanks, as always, Charlie!)

New venues, 2019

I found some performance spaces around town that I hadn’t yet visited.

  • Anacostia Playhouse
  • Milkboy Arthouse, College Park, Md.
  • Mead Center Kogod Cradle
  • KC Jazz Club
  • Atlantis, Sterling, Va.
  • River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Bethesda, Md.
  • Slayton House, Wilde Lake Village, Columbia, Md.
  • St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, College Park, Md.

Bonus out-of-town space: The Village Vanguard, New York.

2018’s list. 2017’s list. 2016’s list. 2015’s list. 2014’s list. 2013’s list. 2012’s list. 2011’s list.

On deck: 19

bookshelf December 2019 1/4bookshelf December 2019 2/4My to-read bookshelf has spilled out into an annex of three to-read crates. Free books rescued from work, possibly interesting reads from book exchange, a few things of Leta’s that I might pick up, a good-intentions attempt to review my college calculus text (what’s a Lagrange multiplier, again?) (water-damaged from a small basement flood some years ago), a couple of doorstops for a long train journey, some finds from the AAUW used book sale, time to read Pirsig again.

bookshelf December 2019 3/4bookshelf December 2019 4/4

A mystery: 18

notepad 1notepad 2In Leta’s (and by inheritance, Ann’s) effects I found a promotional notepad from the Southern Railway System, with a handy list of freight facilities on the inside cover. (Leta’s grandfather worked for a railroad.) Southern would have used that branding up until about 1980. A historian of the system might be able to pin down a date, given the list of facilities. It’s possible that 200-79 on the inside cover encodes a printing date. Yankee that I am, I used up the notepad.

notepad 3On the back of the backing is the real mystery: the inscription GLV 823. A vehicle license plate number, perhaps? But what state? Who made the hasty note, and why did they use the backing rather than a leaf from the pad? Does it capture a red light runner? A hit-and-run accident? The imagination trembles.

Across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge: 6

Other Reports

Pro tip: As you are preparing your luggage for a flight to Keflavík (KEF), do not pack your windbreaker in your checked baggage. You’re going to need it for the short scrambles to and from the shuttle bus that will take you to the terminal. Sited on a peninsula jutting out into the North Atlantic, the air field is well positioned for the defense of sea lanes (as it so served in WW II). But the nasty cross winds make it an adventure to traverse on foot, at any time of the day.

balcony viewThis is the quite pleasant view from my shared balcony at the elegant Hotel Holt. Several of my guides emphasized that Iceland is somewhat allergic to city planning—hence the lack of other commercial amenities around this hotel. (On the other hand, my second hotel, the Hotel Reykjavík Centrum, was surrounded by eateries and night life.) The University of Iceland campus is visible in the distance.

walltourists for scaleÞingvellir National Park is one of the places where the rift between the North Atlantic and Eurasian Plates is visible on land. I’m standing in the rift, with the North American Plate looming above and on the left. Þingvellir was the meeting place of Iceland’s first parliament, which first met there in 930. As dramatic as the scenery might be, this place was more or less centrally located for the delegates traveling to it across the country, and the rift valley afforded relatively flat terrain.

where does the water go?Rifts and cracks mean interesting water features.

tourist for scaleThe atmosphere of the Njámafjall hot springs area in the highlands of the north is sulphurous. Stay on the boardwalk, and make sure you’re standing upwind!

not big sur 1not big sur 2In the East Fjords, this “golly” prospect is on highway #1 between Höfn and Djúpivogur. At left, looking north, and at right, looking south. We didn’t stop for the lighthouse at Hvalnes. Iceland needs to up its lighthouse game.

the chair nowhereIt’s a long drive to get anywhere in the East Fjords. Sometimes you just have find opportunities to stop, no matter how silly—like the chair nowhere.