I previously related my two weeks, four meetings, cross-country travel extravaganza. Jet lag no longer troubles me; my body has no idea what time zone it inhabits, not which one it should be in. I now find myself about half-way through my travels, with a beautiful day of me-time.
Today I went to a DC hot spot I had never visited, the International Spy Museum. The museum brings you in via an elevator filled with flashing lights, up to a third floor where you pick an identity. I went with a 50-year-old female microbiologist (although she was born in Viet Nam and now resides in California). You watch a short movie about espionage (narrated by Linda Hunt), and then you enter Spy School. From there you have more exhibits about gadgets and spy craft. For example, at left is the "rollover" camera that took photos as you rolled it over a large document. Sound anything like, say, hand-held scanners?
At right is my personal favorite from the pigeon room, the Pigeon Cam. Carrier birds provided invaluable transmission of messages during WWI. Someone came up with this small, light, automatic camera that took photos as the bird flew its route. The most famous pigeon, Cher Ami, won the Croix de Guerre for delivering a message, despite fatal wounds, that led to the rescue of a lost battalion. While her story made this museum, her taxidermied body minus the leg lost in battle can be seen in the National Museum of American History in the Smithsonian. This bird also made Time Magazines list of heroic animals (in fourth position).
Remember Cher Ami next time you kick a pigeon out of the way or call them "rats with feathers."
The gadgets and gizmos section also showed a number of miniaturized tools that would make Q jealous. Many were developed for paratroopers who needed stuff when they dropped in behind enemy lines, but it had to be small, light, and not easily found. This led to knives, compasses, and other items secreted into shoe heels, uniform buttons, and other locations...although the next photo would be "above and beyond the call of duty" in my opinion (all puns intended).
This option never came up in the James Bond movies, although there is an exhibit of 50 years of Bond Villains in the museum. All sorts of movie paraphenalia is on display, and the biographies of each villain are outlined. My favorite portion here involved a giant touch screen. When you hit a button, it opened metal "doors" into a tank of sharks (no laser beams; sorry, Dr. Evil). After just long enough, a large, open, toothy mouth hits the screen, appearing to break the glass. I watched a young boy damn near wet his pants!
The day continued on with the 007 theme. Raymond Benson and Jeffery Deaver are the only two American authors that the Fleming estate has allowed to write Bond novels. They have assembled and edited a collection of stories of Cold War intrigue, Ice Cold. They did an hour of Q&A, discussing their writing techniques and how they approached an iconic character like Bond. They also discussed the books and movies, as well as their own stuff.
They deny having anything to do with Putin's latest activities that have raised Cold War images again (although clearly the book's marketers have got to love it).
I also got to give Jeffry Deaver a piece of my mind for the 6 months I could not take a cab after I read The Bone Collector. He told me a couple of activities I may shy away from if I read his latest novel, The Skin Collector. You know, I really won't miss my laundry room.
Tomorrow it's back to business after a train trip to Philadelphia for the fourth Vision 2020 Congress. Or is that really the purpose of my trip? Can anyone really be certain?