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My Smithsonian Adventure

On August 3, 2002, it was my great honor and privilege to give a lecture at the Smithsonian Institution about mah-jongg. I didn't take any pictures in the lecture hall itself (there was one man who did - I hope he sends me his pictures!), but after the lecture I took a little walking exploration tour. That's one of the things I enjoy doing whenever I'm in another city. I walk around.

The lecture took place in the Smithsonian's S. Dillon Ripley Center. It's the small structure at lower right in this picture (above). Actually, this structure is just the top of the elevator shaft. The center is all underground. The lecture hall was quite sizeable. We only had around 60 attendees, but we had special table requirements (hey, we're talking mah-jongg here!) so the room was pretty darned full.

(Above) The ladies of the AMJA were there to help during the afternoon part of the lecture (this photo was taken during dinner the evening before). The morning was all lecture. I had a Powerpoint presentation on my laptop, and the Smithsonian staff provided a computer projector and a lapel microphone. You'll just have to believe me when I say that the presentation was informative, fun, and pure mah-jongg! In the afternoon I taught Asian-style mah-jongg at one table, and Lois and Dolores taught American-style at the other. As a finale, we teachers (and one student volunteer) sat down and played a quick exhibition game. Dolores won. She's the one on the left (she's a real gamer!). But Lois (right) is the one I have to thank for all the help. She brought mah-jongg sets for the beginners to practice with.

After the lecture (and a heavy rainstorm that turned into a continuing drizzle) I came back to the Smithsonian for my solo walking tour. You can see the S. Dillon Ripley Center behind me to the right (just next to my wristwatch in this picture, above).

(Above) From that same spot in front of the S. Dillon Ripley Center, you can look one way and see the Capitol Building.

And looking the other way you see the Washington Monument. That's the direction I walked. I went to the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial under construction, the Vietnam Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. I walked across the bridge towards Robert E. Lee's house in Virginia. On the way back to where I was staying, I saw Watergate. I did have a lot of pictures here, but due to website traffic conditions I decided to cut down.

Next day, I wanted to see the White House before leaving Washington. And I wanted to use the subway to get close, before beginning my walk. I have been in subways in New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, Nagoya, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, and Montreal. I love traveling by subway almost as much as walking on the surface streets, whenever I visit another city. The Washington subway system is very nice (as you can see above).

Here I am at the White House. The street is blocked off to traffic (it wasn't like that the last time I came here, but that was over 30 years ago).

(Above) After seeing the White House, I took my time walking back to the hotel. Plenty of time to kill before I had to be at the airport! This lion statue was in front of some building near the White House. It reminded me of lion statues I'd seen in Hong Kong! But besides lions, Washington statuary also offered...

... donkeys...

... and elephants!

Copyright 2002 Tom Sloper. All rights reserved.