USNA Phallus Climb

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The Herndon Monument Climb – or as we here at 217 like to call it: Phallus climb – is a time-honored tradition in which the class of Freshmen attempts to climb a greased monument as the last task of their first year at the Academy. Richtig gelesen: Ein mit reichlich Margarine gekremter Obelisk wird von dem etwa 150 Studenten umfassenden Jahrgang bestiegen. Ziel ist es, das auf der Spitze drapierte Käppi durch ein eigenes zu ersetzen. Die Sache wird durch kontinuierliches Wasserspritzen nicht leichter. Da der Obelisk Luftlinie etwa fünfzig Meter von unserem Haus entfernt ist – leider versperrt ein Bürogebäude den direkten Blick -, ließ ich mir den Spaß diesjahr nicht nehmen. Bzw. die ersten vierzig Minuten, das kann nämlich ziemlich lange dauern. Der Negativrekord liegt bei über vier Stunden, der schnellste Jahrgang schaffte die Besteigung in 43 Minuten. Ich kann aber durchs Fenster hören, was passiert. Die Menge jauchzt nämlich fröhlich mit, und alle halbe Stunde sowie bei Gipfelerreichen wird eine Kanone abgefeuert.***

Das Foto stammt aus den ersten zehn Minuten, wo es fast so aussah, als ob das Ding in Rekordzeit eingesackt wird, so hoch kamen sie dann nie wieder. Die Technik besteht darin, sich anfangs das Hemd vom Leib zu reißen und es an die Buttersäule zu pfeffern, um so etwas Fett abzunehmen. Und dann gehts pyramidenmäßig auf den Kameraden hinauf bis zur Spitze.

Derlei Späße finden im Rahmen der sog. Commissioning Week statt, die mit der Abschlusszeremonie des aktuellen Jahrgangs endet. Übermorgen findet eine Flugshow der Blue Angels statt, furchteinflößende Kampfjets, die sich im Kunstflug üben. Ratet, wer jetzt schon einen Platz in der ersten Reihe hat.

***UPDATE: Mit einer Zeit von 1:12:34 hat die Class of 2019 die beste ebensolche seit 1988 erzielt.

Gemini Krocket

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Eine feste Größe im annapolitanischen Jahresablauf ist das Krocket-Match zwischen den beiden hier ansässigen Colleges: der Naval Academy und St. John’s, einem eher geisteswissenschaftlich angehauchten College mit nur etwa 400 Studenten. Das Spiel findet außerhalb von Ligen oder Tabellen oder Sonstigem statt und startete vor fast vierzig Jahren als Beweis, dass die bebirkenstockten Schluffis von St. John’s die durchtrainierten Offiziersanwärter der Navy  durchaus in einer Sportart schlagen können: Krocket. Und tatsächlich gewinnen die Johnnies meistens (so auch dieses Jahr), auch wenn Navy in den letzten paar Jahren ein, zwei Siege verbuchen konnte.

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Regelwerke zwingen die Navy-Spieler dazu, in Krocketuniform aufzulaufen, während die Johnnies sich jedes Jahr verkleiden – in diesem Jahr als Südstaatenfarmer, dies zumindest meine Interpretation -, was zu einem hübschen Kontrast führt. Das Spiel bzw. derer drei findet auf dem Rasen vor St. John’s statt. Unbedingt dazu gehört, dass die Besucher sich aufs Feinste herausputzen, gerne im Stil der 1920er (die besten Outfits werden prämiert), Picknicks einpacken und den Rasen mit Decken und Stühlen bevölkern. Hut ist eigentlich Pflicht, hatte aber leider keinen.  Dafür jetzt einen zartroten Sonnenbrand dans le visage. Traditionell läutet das Match auch den Frühlingsbeginn ein, der Champagner fließt in Strömen, die Navy-Band spielt Swing und es wird das Tanzbein geschwungen. Annapolis, ein guter Ort.

[Mehr Bilder finden Interessierte hier.]

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Renwick Gallery

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Spires made of individually-stacked index cards by Tara Donovan

Originally planned as an attempt to catch the cherry blossoms at their peak – which the cold weather this weekend thwarted; Peduncle Elongation Watch predicts another several days until we enter the Puffy White stage which announces the coming of Peak Bloom (it’s a science, people!) – we spent most of this Saturday in DC anyway, finally checking out the re-opened Renwick Gallery as well as Eastern Market (as per recommendation of our dental hygienist).

The Gallery features a number of oversized installations spread out over two floors. Every installation has its own room. I especially loved Patrick Dogherty’s branch hut/shelter sculptures made from tree saplings since they reminded me of the forts we used to build as kids in neighboring hedges and inspired a sense of security and protection once you stepped inside. Also, their smell.

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All artworks had a close connection with nature. This installation by Janet Echelman dangling from the largest gallery’s ceiling is reminiscent of the shock waves caused by a tsunami.

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Enjoy this beautiful model of the Cheasapeake Bay made of marbles by one of Karl’s favorite artists, Maya Lin.

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John Grade made this model of a tree from a cast he had taken from a 160-year-old hemlock tree. It consists of half a million pieces of cedar and will eventually be returned to the Cascade Mountains where its real life counterpart stands to decompose in peace and return to the earth.

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Gabriel Dawe’s threaded rainbow – a thing of mesmerizing beauty.

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Hope everyone’s having a good weekend! We’ll be volunteering as course monitors at the B&A-Marathon tomorrow, hoping we won’t freeze our respective crown jewels off as there is a forecast for snow and we’ll be standing on an unprotected street crossing for over four hours. Yay!

Make Winter Great Again

The Great Snowfall of 2016 started on Friday around 1.30pm. It is now Saturday night, 10pm, and it has not yet stopped. On the verge of cabin fever, Karl and I decided to brew up some Glühwein earlier, with the help of a bottle of Tempranillo (part of our snowstorm supplies) and some mulling spices, fill it into a thermos and head on out into the stormy night. We’re in a state of emergency, no cars are allowed on the street other than plow trucks, so the whole town was a pedestrian wonderland. Here’s some pics from our walk – click for a slideshow or to enlarge! It was amazing.

Winter Sunday

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We woke up to utter grayness this morning, turned back around once, twice until finally ready to get up. What greeted us behind the living room windows was a scurry of snow flakes. Naturally, I got all excited. Then the coffee ran out. What else would you do in such a situation other than bundle up and go on a two mile walk to the local coffee roastery, taking advantage of the snow and get some fresh air? It didn’t stick, by the way. We walked through pretty neighborhoods and along one of the rare bike paths until we arrived at a nondescript building nestled in a corner off a main road that holds Ceremony Coffee Roasters.

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Inside, the incomparable smell of freshly roasted coffee, a cute little café/store with coffee accessories (French Presses etc.) and in the back, a bigger room with the actual roaster.

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It wasn’t our first time there, but I hope tit provides you with a long awaited new glimpse into our lives as well as an example of the things Annapolis has to offer other than pretty historic buildings and amazing water views. Karl and I are actually (mentally) constructing a food tour off the beaten path for future visitors. More on that (maybe) soon …

Hanging With Our Roomie

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Karl had the day off today for Veteran’s Day which he wasn’t aware of until late yesterday. We decided to do something fun & touristy in the afternoon, so we headed down the street to inspect the State House from the inside. It is literally about three minutes away from our house and was built in 1779, and it’s also where George Washington resigned his commission as commander in chief of the Continental Army in 1783.

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The House of Representatives & Senate are only in session for a 90-day-period every year, starting in January. So no hustle and bustle there this time of year. It was hence pretty surprising when we were getting ready to leave, turned around & saw the Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, entering the building with his posse. His house is only about a thirty second walk from the State House though so maybe he decided to stop by to get something from his desk, IDK. (Probably not, he also had some camera people with him.)

Anyway, the room where Washington resigned was recently remodeled and they put up a bronze statue of our beloved housemate in the spot where he probably stood to deliver his speech.

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We snapped some selfies with our roomie, stopped by the Annapolis Museum Store (they have the nicest things!!! and I didn’t buy anything!!! will power much?!) on our walk through the city and headed home through the Academy. An unexpectedly nice Wednesday afternoon.

A Trip to Baltimore

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On Sunday we ventured out to Baltimore for the first time. We were actually hanging out, both literally and figuratively, at the climbing gym in Columbia, but were done there before noon. It was a wonderfully sunny autumn day, so I suggested heading to Baltimore instead of back home. I’d read that the Art Museum was free, and also there was this book thing I’d heard about and wanted to check out. As befits a museum of standing, there were some lions guarding the collection. They had some great stuff there, a lot of contemporary art, but also the collection of a couple of sisters – Claribel and Etta Cone -, who were good friends with Gertrude Stein, had no husbands/wifes or children and a lot of money, much of which they spent on art (Matisse, Picasso and the like).

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Afterwards we walked a few blocks up to an old, non-descript warehouse that only opens its doors on Saturday and Sunday. What’s behind those doors? Books, plain and simple. Or, more precisely: Free books. As many as you can carry. All kinds of books. Used books, mostly. Books the people or companys donated. I found one book I had been looking to acquire for some time now, very exciting. I also grabbed three others I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. Karl also found some stuff in the natural philosophy section.

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The little door on the left is the entrance to The Book Thing. I’m sure it wasn’t our last trip there. Love the place.