Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

From 1308 W!

Seen in DC #4

These pants.


In college, I made enough costumes that I never really took Halloween too seriously. This year, I decided I'm going to be a little better about my costuming.

After discovering that there is not a single fabric store in the District of Columbia, I got into my ZipCar and drove to Falls Church, Virginia. Falls Church has a Joann's, a Michaels, and an extremely suburban feel that made me feel at home.

I bought a bunch of fabric (on sale, boo-yah!), a pair of fabric scissors and a ton of safety pins. Why safety pins? Well, back in the day, I used sewing machines to keep my costumes together, but as far as I can tell, no one rents sewing machines out here, or anywhere for that matter. After a night of cutting and safety-pinning, I realized that in certain places of my costume, safety pins weren't going to cut it, so I bought some thread and sewed the armpits and shoulders.

I am now the proud owner of an overly-elaborate, yet poorly constructed easter bunny costume! Pictures to come once my friend Caitlin sends them to me.

Update 11.4.2009: Finished (as it'll ever be) bunny costume and Jesus. We share a holiday!

Seen in DC #3

A marshmallow peeps bunny on a foreclosed/abandoned house.

Seen in DC #2

Zombie Abraham Lincoln.

On the metro. I don't even think this had anything to do with Halloween.

How Would You Like Your Event? Well Done?

So, after years (more like weeks) of intense planning, we finally hosted the Nansen Award Ceremony, which I told you about earlier. What to say about it? It was an incredibly swanky event in the pavilion room of the Ronald Reagan Building. We had world-renowned operatic singer Barbara Hendricks perform (I got to escort her around the city. She's very nice). We had congressmen, ambassadors and the Kennedy family in attendance. We had John Dau and Ann Curry speak (to name a few). We had a string quartet. We had amazing hors d'voures (which I didn't have time to eat but I heard they rocked).

The best part was that I was able to be intimately involved in planning this wonderful event and it was fun as heck. We showed this great video to honor Senator Kennedy and his work with refugees and his widow, Victoria Kennedy, gave a touching acceptance speech.

It was the most well-planned, well-run event I've ever been involved in and I learned a lot. Thanks, TK. This one was for you.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Seen in DC #1

A school bus for a "Lycee Rochambeau."

Now, my French is a little rusty, but I translate that as the Academy of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Required reading includes Nothing Beats Rock by the Comte de Rochambeau.

How to Choose a School

After work today I went to a panel at SAIS titled, "A New United Nations Path to Peace? The Practice and Promise of the Peacebuilding Commission."

It was a pretty interesting discussion of the (relatively) new UN Peacebuilding Commission. Afterwords at the reception I ended up talking to this guy who is a student at the Elliott School and I asked him about choosing IR schools. Most of what he told me gave me extreme tour guide deja vu - "Talk to lots of students and ask them about their experiences."

A particularly helpful piece of advice then was presented: Unlike undergrad, you know what you're interested in now, so find the professors who do the most interesting stuff and apply to the schools where they teach classes.

What that means for me? I'm going to go to a lot more panels, hearings and talks like the one today to narrow down the subjects that I'm very passionate about and the rest will be smooth sailing.

...either that or go to The Rock, Paper, Scissors Academy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I was invited to a Halloween pumpkin carving party.

Isn't that how most stories begin? On Friday, I went with my friend Katharine to pick up pumpkins for carving. After doing some serious pumpkin evaluation, we found one awesome pumpkin with a lot of character. That's when we found my squash. It was (is) this weird, green gourd thingie with a long, tubey top. Pictures to come soon (a la Matt Spitz).

Saturday, we made our way to the abode of Katie, a friend from high school were a got to meet a bunch of her cool friends and enjoy her awesome view of the DC from her Chinatown rooftop.

My squash gourd was slowly transformed into a grinch-looking squash-o-lantern, and Katharine really failed to make her pumpkin look mean, but succeeded in making a really friendly, happy jack-o-lantern!

Flag Football

Today, my roommates and I drove out to suburban Virginia to play some football. Apparently, an old college buddy of one of my roommates owns a house by an elementary school and went out and bought some flags - add the rain and cold and we were all set for an awesome 3 hour muddy game of five on five.

Afterwords, we went inside and watched the early afternoon's NFL games, had some beers and when we got home, my house ordered 3 pizzas, making for a pretty manly Sunday.

I'm planning to do it all again this coming Saturday, and my cleats are getting shipped out from California, so I'll probably have a bit more traction and a bit less mud all over my clothes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dog Park

There's a cool little dog park in a triangle formed by the intersection of New Hampshire, S Street and 17th Street. People just bring their dogs, let them loose and they play. It's awesome and right in the middle of my walk to work.

I've taken to stopping on my way home to watch the dogs play. Some of them are super excited, some of them ignore the others and sniff the ground, and some are scared as hell and hide behind me. It's very interesting, relaxing and just plain fun to watch. I kind of want a dog. Maybe I should get a job first.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Nansen Refugee Award

So, I've been referencing this UNHCR award ceremony a lot recently. The story is this:

The Nansen Refugee Award is given annually by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to individuals or groups in recognition of outstanding service to the cause of refugees. Past recipients include Eleanor Roosevelt, Luciano Pavarotti, Doctors without Borders and Canada. This year, the UNHCR is giving it out posthumously to Senator Ted Kennedy (he luckily found out he had won before he passed away).

This is the first time the award has been held in the US in a long time (if ever) so it's on my regional office to plan it. This has been exciting because I've gotten a chance to be involved in all that planning and recently, I was asked to ratchet up my hours to full time for the next month and get really involved!

I've been spending a lot of time inviting and taking RSVPs from ambassadors, congressmen and the like. It's pretty fun and I think the affair itself will be super swanky. As the event comes closer (October 28 is a date burned in my mind) I might have a little less time to blog, but I will take pictures of all the celebs (if I'm allowed to) and share my fun stories when they come.

By the way, check out Fridtjof Nansen, the guy this was named after. He was a super bad-ass.

Lori and Matt Visit from New York

This weekend, two great great friends of mine came down from New York to visit. Besides the regular bar-hopping, I went with them to the Solar Decathlon, a really cool showcase of Solar Technology and design in houses. They actually built a whole bunch of self-powered houses on the National Mall! My favorite was the house from Minnesota. I'm very much looking forward to the future.

That evening, we camped out in the Penn Quarter Tavern and watched the Stanford-OSU football game. Despite the spanking our team received, fun was had by all and I think we'll be back to support them next week.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shave and a Haircut

Well, not really a shave, but definitely an optometry appointment and a haircut. Try that knock on your front door. After a few weeks of unkempt hair and forced-glasses-wearing, I'm no longer long-haired or near-sighted.

For my haircut I tried out a traditional black barbershop (after all, I live in a historic black neighborhood) and I like what I got. Here are before and after shots.

As for my eyeballs, I'm glad as heck to have contacts back! My prescription had run out and I've been wearing poorly adjusted glasses that hurt my nose. Like I've been saying in a lot of posts recently, things are coming together.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Taco Tuesday --> Taco Monday

After running into Jimmy last week, we decided to test out a happy hour special at the Lucky Bar in Dupont Circle on Monday: 50 cent tacos and cheap buckets of Sol. Anyone reading this probably knows of my affinity for Sol as well as my affinity for cheap food and it was everything I imagined it to be!

Jimmy brought his friend Patrick who used to be the editor of the Stanford Daily. He's another recent DC transplant. Cool guy. I'm thinking we might make this a regular thing! Apologies to the similar taco deal at Tonic in Mt. Pleasant, but you're too far away.

Claudia Comes to Town

It's like Santa Claus is coming to town... except less presents.

My friend Claudia flew into DC last week for a medical school interview. On Thursday night, we hung out at the Pour House in Capitol Hill with what I'd like to start calling my DC crew. We'll see if that name sticks.

On Friday, Claudia and I met up with our friend Josh for lunch at the National Portrait Gallery and then when he went back to work, Claudia and I checked out exhibits on the vice presidents and the American West.

Friday night, we ventured over to Georgetown and met up with Jimmy, a friend from Stanford probably most famous as the lead singer of the Titanium Gods of Interstellar Funk. A great night was had by all as we transitioned from a student bar in Georgetown to dancing at the Lucky Bar in Dupont Circle. I got my weekend out of the way early, didn't I?

All in all, it was nice to have someone from California meet the people I've been meeting and see the sights I've been seeing. It helps me realize that this is all for real.

The Wonderful World of Commercial Banking

I finally found some time to change banks. I've been a WaMu customer since my first payday at the YMCA back in high school. Unfortunately, WaMu (now Chase) doesn't have any branches anywhere near Washington, DC. My only option would be to use cashback at Safeway for all my ATM transactions and mail my checks to Texas to deposit them.

I decided to switch banks. After some research (both the aimless-wandering-around-downtown variety and the online variety) I settled on PNC. They have a bunch of branches around and some interesting online options. I opened up an account and the rest was history.

Update 2009-10-06: PNC Sucks.

Update 2009-10-07: Never mind. PNC is awesome. I think I'll write a whole post about how great it is.