Adam Isacson

Still trying to understand Latin America, my own country, and why so few consequences are intended. These views are not necessarily my employer’s.

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Red-bellied woodpecker

Spotted this guy (male red-bellied woodpecker) on a mid-day walk in the National Arboretum, in northeast Washington DC.

I like cicadas actually

Here in the northeastern United States there’s a big insect called a cicada, which makes very loud noise and moves very slowly. The most common ones here spend 17 years underground, then emerge each spring. Every year, their numbers are different, but the largest “brood” by far, last seen in 2004, is out now.

I live in central Washington, which is heavily paved and has few cicadas. My wife and I went for a walk yesterday in a park about 9 miles south of here, along the Potomac River, and there were clouds of them. They’re everywhere. They’re so dumb and clunky that they just fly into you:

And they’re loud. Their collective sound is like a sine wave, at the volume of a car alarm going off down the block:

I’m sure if the area around my house sounded like this, I’d be sick of them. But since I only hear them when I get to take a walk in the woods—and it makes the experience eerie and bizarre—I’m a big fan of the cicadas.

Oh also, we saw some bald eagles. This is the best I could do with my phone camera:

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Washington’s Tidal Basin this evening.

A walk around downtown Washington on the eve of inauguration

We live close to downtown Washington, the weather was cool but sunny, and my family and I finally had a few hours off. We took a walk to see what our city looks like, 10 days after the riot at the Capitol and 4 days before the presidential inauguration.

Stars and Stripes reporter Bob Reid put it well on Twitter. The city’s center doesn’t quite look like a war zone. Instead, “it looks more like a Cold War frontier zone in the ‘70s. Empty streets, barriers, bored armed troops.”

About half a mile from Pennsylvania Avenue, you walk past the first security perimeter, where National Guard Humvees or dump trucks are parked, along with arrays of jersey barriers, to block vehicles. A block or so before Pennsylvania Avenue, you hit the next ring of security, where pedestrians like us wait in line to be searched, then let in. From there, you can go all the way up to the metal fencing that blocks access to the National Mall and everything about 1,000 yards from the Capitol.

From The Washington Post. Home is several blocks off this map’s northern edge.

Here are some photos of what we saw. It’s grim. We’re so much worse off than we were four years ago.

And may I emphasize: f*** every one of my fellow Americans who has made this happen to my city and my country. You can all go straight to hell.

Click on each photo for full resolution. Like everything else on my site, these photos are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Yours to share and adapt, just give credit.

National Guard at the outer perimeter, 4th and H Streets and Massachusetts Avenue.
The outer perimeter at 7th and I Streets NW.
7th and I Streets, Mount Vernon Square.
Boarding up the Walgreen’s at 7th and H Streets NW.
The National Archives are inside the second security perimeter. Only people who’ve been searched can get there.
Pennsylvania Avenue is almost totally empty.
Even the glass I.M. Pei pyramids outside the National Gallery of Art are boarded up. This measure was not taken at any previous inauguration, nor during the Women’s Marches, the Black Lives Matter marches, the March for Our Lives, the March for Science, or any other recent peaceful demonstration. I hate this so much.
This is usually the inaugural parade route. No bleachers on the sidewalks this year.
A remnant of January 6th.
This is as close as you can get to the Capitol today.
Humvee at the inner perimeter.
National Guardsmen.
Guardsmen are carrying M4 rifles with the magazines stowed in pouches on their vests.
Rifles and a pizza box on Constitution Avenue at 3rd Street.
These wanted notices, with faces captured from videos of the Capitol riot, are on most bus shelters.

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The view from my seat while hosting yesterday’s virtual event on coca and eradication in Colombia.

Friday afternoon

My wife took this photo of me working at home today. Why would I ever want to go back to the office? To have more mousepad space, I guess.

The microphone is for podcasting—got it 9 years ago for $100. I’m not sure what the cat is for—got it 17 1/2 years ago for free.

Wearing this until Wednesday

On Thursday I had a metal plate screwed into the broken radius bone of my right wrist. Today (Saturday) I’m in only modest pain, but I’ll have this cast on my right arm until Wednesday.

I’m right handed, so don’t expect much from me that requires a keyboard for the next few days. On Wednesday, I should be going back to a brace that lets me use my fingers.

Thanks to the folks at Georgetown University Hospital who made it look easy on Thursday. I was in and out in less than 6 hours, 2 of them spent totally unconscious.

On the disabled list

You can barely see it in the picture, but I’ve slightly broken my wrist in two places while being an idiot in the park on Sunday, trying to jump from a tree stump to a high branch.

I’m not in horrible pain, which is why it took me three days to even schedule a doctor visit. But now I’ve got a fiberglass cast immobilizing my wrist and much of my right hand (I’m right-handed).

My output on this website is likely to slow down for a few weeks, because I can’t type anywhere nearly as fast as I’m used to typing. Bummer!

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After many years of accumulating home office-type gadgets, working at home is tolerable.

In the frame: Mac Mini with dual monitors, MacBook Air, sheet-fed scanner, podcasting mic, HD camera, blu-ray burner, printer, mechanical keyboard, mouse, Hue lamp, amp, LED lighting, speakers, turntable, headphones.

If you find this horrifying, I totally understand. If it’s any consolation, there’s a washer/dryer and a litterbox behind me.

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Can I afford it? Barely. But a 2014 laptop with a busted trackpad connected to a big monitor just wasn’t working as my main work machine.

This fully loaded Mac Mini arrived two days earlier than expected. You may hear a bit less from me over the next day or two while I set it up.

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While looking for a photo of coca bushes, I came across this shot from Putumayo, Colombia in 2016. Isn’t that cute.

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Washington DC’s MacMillan Reservoir this morning.

As an urban runner, I always notice the air quality difference when I get a chance to run in a forest or a rural setting.

On this morning’s solo run in Washington DC, that’s what the air felt like. The air really is noticeably cleaner.

Cleaned out

After seeing that Italy closed all stores except groceries and pharmacies due to the coronavirus outbreak, I said to the family, “Maybe we should go to Costco tonight.”

Virtually everyone else in DC had the same idea; the place was jammed on a Wednesday night. Here’s the “organic brown rice” display.

Betelgeuse, the rapidly fainting star

I just went outside here in Florida, where I’m visiting relatives, and yes, Betelgeuse, one of the most familiar stars in the northern night sky (it’s in Orion’s shoulder), is way dimmer than it used to be.

I took this shot with my phone. Betelgeuse used to be about as bright as Rigel, the star at the very bottom of the photo:

This all happened quickly: before October, Betelgeuse was near the top ten brightest stars in the sky. Now it’s lower than 20th. Some speculate that the red giant, 600 light-years away, might go supernova. But the dimming has slowed over the past week. Here’s a good explanation in the New York Times.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.