Taking the Day Off

My lower back hurt. It’s a recurring thing. Whenever I switch back and forth between different bikes, my body rebels. So I’m not surprised. It hurts on and off and makes me walk like an old man. (No jokes, please.)

So I took the day off. I drove to Metro and took the train into the city. My first stop was a relatively new art space. It’s neither a museum nor a gallery. It’s a place for artists who use technology to do their thing. A year or so ago a friend of mine went to one of its exhibits and took some pretty awesome pictures and video. In that abstract light show, the exhibit responded to viewers movements. I planned on going but I didn’t get my act together and it sold out.

A couple of weeks ago I heard that it had a new show. This one is called Parallel Universes. It’s a black and white light show where the lights are visualizations of the music that’s playing. At least that’s what happens in the main room. Three walls are covered with visuals that pulse and flash and change and move to the pounding music. You sit in the middle on comfy chairs that look a bit like marshmallows and stifle saying, “Wow” until you can’t any longer. Here are some still pictures from the main room.


There are three other smaller exhibits that are interesting but not nearly as Wow. I spent about 40 minutes wowing before heading out to my next stop.

I walked to the nearest Capital Bikeshare station determined to finally use my membership. I tried and tried to undock a bike. Finally, I called the company. The station was out of service. I was not loving the CaBi experience. So I walked another station  a couple of blocks away on the National Mall. Once again my bike wouldn’t undock again. I called for help. Not a happy camper. In a few minutes, the customer support person and I got it to work. Yay. (Of course, by this time I could have walked to my destination. Bother.)

I adjusted the seat and headed north into downtown. In traffic. Without a helmet. Good thing the bike outweighed the cars in the road. Truthfully, it wasn’t nearly as tank-like as I expected. As the cars came closer I repeated: “Hail Mary. Full of Grace, The Lord is with Thee.” Well, actually I didn’t. I am a heathen. Heathen’s prayers are answered with lightning bolts. This is especially true of former altar boys.

I was a bit surprised to find that the ride was rather plush. Well, it would have been if the bike lane wasn’t blocked by a taxi. It was so tempting to just ram the cab. Urban bike rage is so tempting when your bike is humongous.

Sparing the cabbie from certain whiplash, I made it to a massive docking station near the Phone Booth (our local NHL/NBA arena). As I was approaching the station, I noticed a large bearded man on a hybrid bike. The bike was carrying all kinds of stuff. It even had a floor pump strapped to its rear rack. He had on sunglasses and was creeping along rather cautiously. I wondered if her wasn’t some sort of two-wheel street person who offered to pump up your tires for a buck.

I docked my bike and headed to a fine eatery. I ate things.


Fortunately, this fine eatery is right next store to the International Spy Museum, my next stop. My friend Rachel (Don’t Call Me Bob) Cannon works there. A while back she invited me to check it out so I did. In the process of chatting, I learned that the large bearded man with the floor pump on his bike was Rachel’s boyfriend Tyler. How did I not recognize him? Oh yeah. That fusiform gyrus thing again.

Rachel showed me in to the museum and gave me some quick spy pointers. And left me to my explorations. I am not a museum kind of person, but I spent two hours in the place reading nearly every exhibit. I am now totally paranoid. There are more spies than bicyclists in DC. They even have their own hashtag: #SpyDC. I am not making this up.

There was even a big James Bond exhibit. I have read all the Bond books and seen all the movies. I am pretty much Bond-ed out already so I spent more time checking out the other actual spies. I think my favorite is Moe Berg. He was a big league catcher for over a decade. He was once sent to assassinate a scientist named Heisenberg who was working on an atomic bomb for the Nazis. Berg didn’t kill him because he realized that Heisenberg had not made significant progress in his bomb-making research.

I was pretty much exhausted after my afternoon with the spooks. So I made my way to the Metro and headed home. I consider myself lucky that my back held up quite well for about six hours. When I got off the train, I was in pain again. Sometimes it helps if I do the lean-against-the-wall thing that runners do. So I did that and made it up three flights of stairs to my car.

Big thanks to my #bikeDC friend Linel whose recent Instagram pictures alerted me to the Artechouse exhibit. He description was pretty much on the nose: “Mind blown.”

And extra giant non-hugs to Rachel. She’ll know what I mean.

6 thoughts on “Taking the Day Off

  1. Around here, we have a dedicated ticket writer for taxis parked in bike lanes. They tried to get him fired, but once he started putting the cabs pictures on social media, they backed off quickly and he has attained folk hero status.

  2. Sorry about the handshake. Hugs just feel awkward to me.

    I’m so thrilled that you enjoyed it! It’s a good time of year to come to really ponder the exhibits, without all the children running amok.

  3. You would think the undocking thing would be kind of important to be flawless with a docking station. We had them in Seattle but I didn’t try them before they failed, now we have step thru bikes scattered around the neighborhoods that you rent via a mobile app, need to try one someday. Funny you mention Moe Berg, I read a fiction book recently (The Devouring) that featured him and the very incident you described.

    1. The entire undocking thing is a turnoff. A yellow light indicates you should yank the bike out of the dock. Yellow? A green light means the bike is securely back in the dock. Here green means stop? There is no bikeshare in the burbs but I’d use it to go to run local errands if it were.

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