Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

10 Jun 2001, 7:32 a.m.

brainwane: The Journey Sort Of Begins

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

So, in the past 30 hours or so, I left California, stopped in the St. Paul/Minneapolis airport, arrived in Washington, D.C., saw my first Spike Lee movie, and met three libertarians.

Thanks to my sister, to holeburning, and to Leonard for an enjoyable Last Night in California. Especially thanks to my sister for driving me to SFO at 4:30 in the morning.

In the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, in the "Business Service Center," next to the FedEx box and the phones and jacks, stands a lottery ticket vending machin e.

It's really hard to tell that you're in a different city, or part of the country, for a really long time after getting off the plane. The airports all look alike, as do roads. The most disorienting thing was the license plates on the cars in the airport parking lot. "Wow! Someone drove all the way to California from Virginia! And another! And one from Maryland!...Oh."

Another disorientation: seeing signs that say, "Founded in x," where x is some year significantly before the California Gold Rush.

Reston I only know from The Hot Zone, and Fairfax only form sponsorship tags on National Public Radio.

At Blockbuster: "Dude, where's Dude, Where's My Car?"

Also at Blockbuster, it was decided that the current trend of using the prefix- adjective "American" to connote majesty and grandness and profundity and depth (there was a Slate or Salon piece about this a year ago or so) needs replacement. I suggest "The Big," as homage to "The Big" Chill and Easy and Score and so on. The Big Movie, The Big Beauty, The Big Psycho, The Big Pie.

My newest dear friend Will, who went to Oxford for grad school, on the English, says that they have specific stereotypes and prejudices re: all the other nat ionalities, as opposed to the American habit of painting all fur'nurs with the same wide brush.

English person: "So, Will, what do you Americans think of ... the French?"
Will: "We don't care! You're all the same to us!"

I had really good food, for the first time, originating in the cuisine of El Salvador. (What do you call it? Salvadorean? El Salvadoran?)

A number of us exchanged close-to-celebrity stories, sightings and unknowing interactions and the like. Mentioned were Newt Gingrich, Monica Lewinsky, one of the infamous Menendez brothers, Ted Turner, and Ken Starr.

Unfortunately, my snazzy EFF t-shirt (thanks, Seth!) did not impress my Cato-Institute-lovin' hosts nearly as much as I'd hoped.

I saw My First Spike Lee Movie (surprisingly, NOT a Fisher-Price toy!), Bamboozled. Very thought-provoking, if flawed and oscillating between sly and sledgehammer, subtlety-wise.

Any tips on off-the-beaten-path, geeky things to do/see in DC?

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at