The Dinosaur goes to the Rally to Restore Sanity

*****WARNING*****

While the Dinologs normally do not express any political viewpoint the following log may contain observations that could be inappropriate for conservative viewers.  The journalist is a known Liberal and has consorted with radical moderates.  Use discretion in reading this log.

October 29, 2010

Off to Washington via Long Beach, California

We got off to a slightly later start than planned, although this worked out to our advantage.  McCarran Airport is a highly efficient operation, and we found ourselves in our seats on board the airplane in less than an hour after entering McCarran’s front door.  We checked our bags, got through security, took the tram to our remote terminal, and found our gate right before time to board.  Fortunately, Jet Blue serves a decent cup of coffee.

The flight to Long Beach was smooth and over quickly.  We had a short break between flights, less than a half hour, and then we were on our way again.  It seemed as though everyone on the plane was headed to the rally, even the two guys in turbans!  Yes, there were Muslims on the plane!

Our great timing held when we got to Dulles airport.   We got our bags and walked out of the terminal just in time to catch the hotel shuttle.  They only run at half hour intervals, so we weren’t stuck at the airport, poking around.  Everything was still clicking along nicely.

The trip to the hotel was brief; the road went through a stand of trees that were showing autumn colors, which was nice to see.  Our room at the hotel was on the 14th floor (13th for all you folks who are not superstitious). I remembered an old Ray Bradbury story about a man who insisted on staying on the 13th floor of a 28 story hotel.  He made such a fuss that the hotel management sent him to the 13th floor.  When the man looked out his window, he counted fourteen stories below him and fourteen above him.  As I remember the story, the elevator no longer went to the 13th floor.

Speaking of elevators, the Hyatt hotel has an interesting system for the elevators; you have to put your key card into the slot before you can go up.  Naturally, I kept pushing the button for 14 without putting my card in first, until Patsy read the instructions to me.  Okay, I was relying on experience rather than common sense, like reading directions.

Later on, there was a small Asian woman who had forgotten her key in her room and wanted to go back up to get it.   She asked someone to let her ride with them, but she did not press the button for her floor fast enough, so the elevator did not stop where she wanted to go.  The last I saw of her, she was standing in the middle of the elevator, looking confused and bewildered as the doors closed.

We had dinner with our niece, Shannon, who was also here for the rally.  After that, we were in bed by 9:00 (6:00 Las Vegas time), and asleep by 8:30.  We woke up about 7:30 (4:30) and did not feel jet lagged. Hooray.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

We go to the rally

After a quick breakfast and all that, we were off to the Rally.  Fortunately, Shannon’s friend Karin was driving her car, and we had an easy trip to the Metro. We were at the station by 8:45, but it was already jammed!  People were lined up a block long, waiting to buy their tickets for the Metro.   There were people in costumes, people holding signs, knots of people talking to each other, and almost everyone was smiling.   There were a few, maybe college kids or something like that, who were cool and didn’t smile, but they were rare.

We finally got on the Metro and we hung on the poles as the train pulled out, because there were not enough seats; we were stuffed in like sardines.   The Metro driver kept telling people to stand away from the doors and to not lean against them.  He seemed to have a sense of humor about the whole things, because by the third stop, he was patiently explaining that the doors could fail when people leaned against them and that if the doors couldn’t close, we couldn’t move and he would have to empty out the train.  He spoke like he was talking to five year olds.  We all stayed away from the doors, but it wasn’t easy.

There was a young couple from Oklahoma, who offered me their seat.   I guess they were having pity on the old guy.  Anyway, they got up and moved just as the doors opened again.  I turned to Patsy to tell her a seat was available, when another influx of passengers came on board and I was shoved down into one of the seats.  A young lady was pushed down next to me.  She had a sign that said “Extreme reactions are not solutions, they are a mental illness.”  Most of the signs we would see for the rest of the day were different expressions of rationality; some more obscure than others, such as the sign that said “Meh.”  One of my favorites went something like “I planned to make a reasonable sign, but I ran out of lett”

We got off at the Smithsonian exit and were immediately in a sea of people moving toward the east end of the mall.  There were people dressed in regular clothes, while others wore costumes.  Parents brought children in strollers, old people with walking frames were being helped along by younger people, cops rode their horses at the edge of the crowd, and people of every size, shape, gender and color, all moved together toward the main stage.

Fortunately for us, we spotted some port-a-potties over near the entry to the Smithsonian, because when we got down toward the center of the mall where they had rows and rows of port-a-potties, the lines to get in were incredible.  I hoped that nobody had a control problem, because they would be out of luck, (probably the people around them as well).  We scooted back to the Smithsonian, where nobody had spotted the plastic castles, and got ourselves sorted out in no time.

Once we were down into the mall, the circus atmosphere increased.  We noticed three things right away: first the signs.  We had been seeing signs all along the way, but now there were signs everywhere expressing a wide range of opinions.  There was even a Tea Party truck, festooned with signs, parked across the street from the mall, and we didn’t see anyone who was offended by it.

The other two things we noticed right away were the diversity of the crowd and the smiles.   The last time I saw something like this, was when the spillways at Hoover Dam were overflowing and people were walking around smiling at each other, slightly stoned on the positive ions generated by the water flow.

There were the usual hawkers of buttons, caps, and other memorabilia along the path.  We had ordered rally tee-shirts, but they hadn’t arrived by the time we left home, and we weren’t going to buy more here, so we didn’t contribute much to the local economy.

We finally found a place about a third of the way back from the main stage.  There were giant television screens and really great speaker systems so we could all enjoy what was going on even though we could not see it directly.

On the way over to where we finally stayed, there was someone holding a sign that said “Jump rope with a Muslim.”  Patsy did jump with them, but I didn’t.  For one thing, my feet hurt already, and for another, I never really got the hang of jumping rope.  I used to bang the rope on the back of my head and then trip and fall over.  I have bad associations with jump ropes.

Anyway, the Muslims had a sign that said “Jump a rope, not to conclusion,” or something like that.  I should have taken a picture.

There were people standing on the steps of what I think were the Supreme Court building and the National Archives, but I have a map of the mall, so I wasn’t completely sure.  Anyway, people over there were bouncing large balls around, keeping them in the air through cooperative effort.

What a cross section of America – young, old, all colors, all sexes, including the intermediates.  Some people wore expensive outfits, while others wore simple tee shirts and jeans.  There were several people wearing Mad Hatter hats.  But most importantly, people were talking to one another, and being nice.

There were some people in front of us, wearing tee shirts that said “Canadian Anchor Babies, Fear Us,” a tribute to Stephen Colbert’s shtick about anchor babies.  Interestingly enough, when the Star Spangled Banner was sung, they removed their hats.  Not many people realize that’s the proper response, but these were Canadians, and they tend to be nice.

The crowd was very interesting in that it moved like water.  People were always going somewhere, and there would be a stream of people going past, either in front or behind us.  Once one person found a way through, fifteen or twenty others followed.  In the whole three hours, out of the hundreds of people who surrounded us, we only found two people who were rude.  The first was a guy who had a stuffed backpack and who used it to bull his way through the crowd, while the second was just a nerd who wanted to get a better view of the action.

There was entertainment: John Legend started singing with The Roots.  Now, I had never seen The Roots before, so I had never seen a rock/rap group using a tuba, but there it was in all its brassy glory.

Adam Savage and Jamie Hineman were there from the Mythbusters.  They had us doing The Wave, first from front to back, then back to front, side to side, and finally women only and then the men.  Of course, we guys made noise when we did our wave, so we were more impressive.

But what a sight!  – Thousands of people making the wave.  If you were tall enough, you could see the wave coming from a long way off.  Those of us who could see it were calling out “Here it comes, here it comes, NOW!” as hands shot up into the air.  Marvelous.

After doing the wave, Savage had us make laughing noises on cue.  Of course, this made us laugh for real.  First, we had to do a regular laugh, then we had to laugh like a mad scientist, then we had to cry.  Laugh, Mad Scientist, cry, Mad Scientist, laugh, and so on for about five minutes.

Hineman and Savage ended their segment of the entertainment by having us all jump at the same time.  There was a seismologist with his instruments ready to measure the effects of that many people landing at the same time.  While the results were not that impressive, the needle did record our jump.

One of the high points of the event was the appearance of Cat Stevens/Jusef, singing “Peace Train.”  Of course, given that Colbert was part of this rally, and he claimed to be keeping fear alive, “Peace Train” got interrupted by Ozzie Osbourne singing “Crazy Train,” and after that, there was a back and forth between them.  They eventually ended up going off stage together with their arms over each other’s shoulders, but not before the O’Jays came out to sing “Love Train.”

There was, of course, the usual bickering between Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert going on all throughout the three hours.  In fact, it was Stewart who introduced Cat Stevens, while Colbert interrupted his song to bring on Osbourne.

We had a sing along with Cheryl  Crow and Kid Rock, then Tony Bennett came out and sang “America the Beautiful.”  After that, Jon Stewart spoke and reminded us what the rally was all about.  He reminded us that we should work together to solve problems, that we should not let fear, and those who sell fear, keep us divided.

Stephen Colbert made a final attempt to Keep Fear Alive by coming out with a giant paper maché puppet of himself to scare everyone, but he melted away and the puppet fell, losing out to reasonableness.  The rally ended on that up-note.

We took out time going back to the Metro station, just enjoying the feelings that still lingered in the air.  There were drum groups playing and clusters of people who danced around.   While the crowds had moved with a purpose earlier, now they moved more slowly, as if wanting to keep the feeling going as long as possible.

Several of the special interest groups stayed clustered together to get their message across one more time. There were some lesbians who held a sign that said “The world will not end if I marry my girlfriend,” and posed for pictures with the sign.  There were people from the American Communist Party, trying to hand out flyers, there were conservative people trying to hand out their literature, but surprisingly, I didn’t see any Jehovah Witnesses handing out their pamphlets.  They missed a great opportunity.

We ended the day by having dinner with Patsy’s Uncle Kenny and Aunt Margaret at a friendly neighborhood Italian restaurant.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Back to reality

We were up bright and early to catch our flight home.  The Jet Blue counter staff person was friendly and efficient, but things slowed down once we got to security.  Is it just me, or do they really set things up to annoy us?  I know there were several people who were way behind us when we got in line, but who were suddenly in front of us going through security.  This is because they open new lanes and new security stations every so often, and they don’t shift the end of an existing line, but start with whoever is nearest to the new place.  It doesn’t matter how long you have been waiting, if a new line opens, those folks will get taken care of before you.  It’s almost like the Bible says, that the first shall be last and the last shall be first.  None of this would matter if it weren’t for the fact that we had a plane to catch, and the only chance of getting a cup of coffee before our flight was dwindling away.

We got to our gate on time, but when we first checked in, we were told our flight from JFK to Las Vegas would go from gate 5.  So we found ourselves waiting at gate 5, with no airplane.  Patsy had gone off to get something to eat, when I heard an announcement that said they had finished loading our flight and were now taking stand-by passengers, at an entirely different gate in an entirely different part of the terminal.  We had to run to get to the new gate and got there with only minutes to spare.

The trip home was uneventful, other than my usual being in the middle seat and having to get out every hour or so.  I noticed the man sitting in front of us, working on his computer.  He apparently had purchased all three seats, because the flight assistants had announced the flight was full, and yet here was a guy sitting by himself with all his stuff scattered out over the other seats.  The flight we were on didn’t seem to have a first class area, so maybe he created his own.

Anyway, we got back home, tired, not jet-lagged, and happy we went.  What a great time.

Thanks for reading along with me and helping me to remember this trip.  See you the next time.

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