I have been playing with some of my new photoshop skills and a new tripod. The new tripod is the ProMaster XC525, and I'm absolutely loving it. It weighs only 2.75 pounds and folds down to 15.3 inches (the website says 15.5, but mine measures to be 15.3). This means it fits perfectly in my laptop backpack and light enough to carry with me all the time. I was originally going to buy the MeFoto RoadTrip since I found it on the web and it gets rave reviews. I'd never heard of the ProMaster until I went to the camera store to buy the MeFoto. The staff raved about the ProMaster and I can see why: it's 1.5 pounds lighter and $20 cheaper than the MeFoto, and it is identical in pretty much every other respect. So that was a no brainer.
Some shots from the DC mall on the second last day of the government shutdown: