Monday, November 25, 2019

Women On the Rise


   Yes, they have risen all the way to the top in one of Washington DC's most treasured and historic institutions - the Smithsonian. All cheers, to find now how many  of the most fabled  buildings in the city have women directors.
    Count them: Air & Space, National Museum of American History, Museum of American Art  and the Renwick Gallery (teamed), the National Portrait Gallery, and National Gallery of Art (which is part federal and part private), the US Botanic Garden and director of the Smithsonian Gardens.
I( may have missed a few, but a program at the Portrait Gallery on 12/17 is highlighting such leadership with a public roundtable session honoring Women Leaders at the Smithsonian alone.
     Not only in renown government centers are women making their mark. The new chairman of the National Geographic Society, headquartered in down town DC, is Jean Case - first such female to hold the job. It's probably no accident that she comes out of the ever encroaching digital world, having had a hand in making AOL (remember that one?) popular in the early internet age.
      Note, too, the recent announcement that the"former CIA official" who has just been named second person in charge at the Smithsonian's central office is a woman. She is Meroe Park, the first deputy head to be named in many years and the first major hire under Secretary Lonnie G. Bunch III, founder of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Here and There: Observations

I'm old enough to be proudly curmudgeonly when the occasion calls for it - taking refuge in my status as elderly to lean on younger Comcast customer relations personnel and not mind when they refer to their grandmothers as 'being capable of learning.' That  happens even when they don't know my age; they are judging on the phone by the way I ask question.
Such questions that, to them I gather, are ridiculous.
Such as why is there not a detailed outline of how your service works - in print - so that I don't have to bother you to find out on the phone.
Why am I expected to rely on my remote and the Guide to scroll for each day's events when I might otherwise be able to plan far in advance what I'd like to watch? Say even two weeks ahead, so I can get my calendar ready...
What are those letters doing on the remote?  ABCD. Why did nobody tell me when I bought your service? I know I am expected to learn by doing - teach myself - but I've found questions arise beyond what is offered in an explanation on the screen? C, I believe, is the sports info option - assuming the whole world, females included, dote on sports. And why isn't D working at all? (This was confirmed in our conversation.)
The two times I had this conversation with admittedly quite polite (if sometimes impatient) personnel, I was struck by their resistance to being stuck. One of them had to concede I had no choice in the matter of how to plan more than two weeks ahead - that I could not.
This assumption that people no longer read print instructions or use paper guides is old-fashioned, in my opinion.  It is comply common sense to rely on the simplest easiest form at hand - the more portable printed page.


Hard times are upon us, most  people agree. The world is crashing down, all standards becoming erased.
Well not all of them, it turns out. Not if you  consider the plasticized card issued by Washington DC's 'elite' private Cosmos Club to its members.
"Dress Code At the Club" it says under a little red imprint of the club's seal.
Over all, the club hopes its members will know such rules by heart, though it can be confusing since  the codes change according to season: Labor Day through Memorial Day and 'Summer Dress - Memorial Day through Labor Day."
Refreshing to see some hard and fast attention paid as well to  computer and phone usage "in the clubhouse." Five permitted areas are listed where digital communication  is allowed. Takes a bit of time to look them over so I suppose members have to carry the card around to be sure.
Guests apparently to not have to adhere to the rules. A Sunday brunch in the dining room was attended by a young man in wrinkled shirt and pants, minus a tie (as required "only in the Garden Dining Room at Sunday brunch, and at lunch and dinner."
"Ladies" take note.  Their attire requirements follow after those for the 'gentlemen,'  as it is written. "in an equivalent fashion."  But no leggings or tights (unless worn with shirts, dresses, or long jackets), please.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Washington A Woman's Town?


         A remarkable time in the capital city, a trend of amazing proportions that has yet to be given much attention. How it has come about that the heads of many major museums and government institutions in town now are women. Suddenly, it seems. Notably the Kennedy Center, the Hirshhorn, the National Gallery of Fine Art, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Portrait Gallery and its neighbor the American Art Museum, as well as the often overlooked US Botanic Garden (NOT the often mentioned Arboretum) are being so capably managed by career professionals  whose credits do not include (at least unproved as such) simply being a woman in a time of @metoo.
          Not to forget the private institutions such as the Phillips Collection, founded by a man and now run by Dorothy Kosinski.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Oh those terrible service calls - ie people, their annoyance - finally reversed

         I write to save the reputation of some 'folks' called upon to get us through life but who are often resoundly cursed. The  infamous forever on holds, survey questions, rude and brusque exchanges  for no discernible purpose other than to cause unnecessary friction in our lives.
         Because the opposite also can be true: really competent experts who do their job and are seemingly pleased to do so. Take Tyler, the Miele dishwasher repair man come to rescue me from my incompetence with the beautiful piece of German machinery I own. A staple that has been stable for a decade or more - probably more - then suddenly shifts moods. He is the son in a family designated by Miele to resolve all such company complaints in the greater Washington area. Or so I figure when I can find no other resource. He was seven years old when he set out to learn his trade, and has kept at it under the tutorship of his father. His mother generally answers the phone; his father takes messages and I think then consults with his son on scheduling. I hear Truths from Tyler that doubtless no other professional would offer: Miele really is  better than Bosch (and both are owned by the same company) but developers, etc. put Bosch appliances in new luxury buildings because they are less expensive Miele can stand up under the assault I have been handing it - my way of repair was to shove, push harder to get the thing to start. All in vain. It is an item meant to last. Just be sure to give it a cleansing periodically -  buying online the curious little canister needed to run with a single empty washington.
     How happy I am when my Miele is humming quietly, doing its job, a reassuring sign that my house is in order, at least for the moment.

        Another 'service provider' of unusual talent very worthy of mention. I'd give him a prize if I could find the right trophy. That is the man distinguished for his  loving, longtime care and concern for hair. You won't find him in any advertisement, though he once ran a downtown DC salon called simply 2000 because he opened it that year. Previously he had been boosted up the competitive ladder of styling professionals by his association with the late Londoner Vidal Sassoon. He was to be made a 'hairdresser to the stars' in Hollywood, invited to live the wild life in the town of angels, but something (much of which was his wife) pulled him back. He didn't need the call of fame and fast living he decided - abandoning tinseltown in favor of the Virginia suburbs and then eventually a roost of his own on the first floor level of the Westchester  housing complex on Cathedral Avenue in DC. There he caters for men and women, often many of advancing age, giving them loving attention and a bevy of charm.