Monday, December 28, 2009


I took the GRE this morning.

The studying I've been doing over the past 3 months (which accelerated significantly over the past week) really paid off. I'm pretty happy with my score. It'll be a nice thing to put in my grad school apps.

Have I blogged about these apps? I guess not. I've been applying to masters programs in International Relations at a couple of schools. Applications are due in January. This is not a new decision, so no excitement yet.

There was excitement, however, in my little happy heart after the GRE, so I went for a celebratory surf session in Del Mar. I don't know if it was the bigger waves or my puny shrunken arm muscles, but it took me a good half hour to paddle out past the break. And I drank a lot of sea water today.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

San Diego and the Little Sis

The past few days have been filled with a lot of family time and GRE studying. Kimi didn't come into town until Christmas Eve's Eve, so I spent a lot of time with just my youngest sister Jennifer. Usually, I either hang out with both of the sisters or none, so it was a new thing to have some one on one time with the girl I used to avoid at all costs when I was younger.

Jen has grown into a really awesome person and I can say that we're definitely friends. We've had a blast getting our groove on to music in the car while driving places and she's used her GRE expertise to help me prep for the GRE vocabulary session.

The few days before Christmas, I also had the chance to see some kids from high school that I rarely see... I hope to take advantage of all my time here to do more of that.

I'll probably say this again soon, but the weather in San Diego is ridiculously nice than the weather on the east coast.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

70 Degrees and Opera

After my final and my last day at UNHCR (at least for this year), I flew home to San Diego, CA - just barely escaping the ridiculous DC snowfall by a day or so. BTW, it's 70 degrees here. It's 30 degrees there.

I've laid low here so far and haven't called any friends yet because I'm focusing on finishing a draft of my personal statement before the weekend ends. My designated San Diego fun so far was Les Contes d'Hoffman.

What? You don't know what Les Contes d'Hoffman is? It's an awesome opera that is being performed at the NY Met right now. More importantly, my friend Clare is performing in it. To support her, I bought a ticket to the San Diego showing (one of many, actually). It was a filmed version of the whole show, and it lasted about 4 hours. I was a little worried about the length and the fact that no one in the movie theater was under 65 (my mom calls them "white-hairs"), but the opera turned out to be amazing. I was really entertained and I got to see Clare up close on the big screen! In my opinion, she deserves a Tony and an Oscar. There you go Clare, halfway to your EGOT.

(my view of the show - not bad, eh?)

More on my warm San Diego adventures when I emerge from my dark grad school application hole like a blinking February groundhog.

My Econ Final

I don't have my final grade yet, but this how my Macroeconomics final went:

In summary... it went very well. I expect an A in the class.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


The main event of the weekend - Tuba Christmas! I first heard about this from my friend Lori in October and resolved to participate. I rented a baritone horn in San Diego when I was home for Thanksgiving, flew it across the country, and I was ready to go.

Tuba Christmas. What can you say about it? It was 500 tuba and euphonium players on the ice rink at the Rockefeller Center with hundreds of people watching. I don't envy the poor conductor who tried to make us sound decent while the rain poured down around us, but I had a blast! I might find some pictures in the future... until then, enjoy the pictures Matt took of SantaCon 09!

SantaCon 09

So, my plan for the weekend was Tuba Christmas. However, our friend Pfunk convinced us to play at SantaCon 09 on Saturday as well. I thought, why not? I imagined Lori, Pfunk and myself playing Christmas carols in some convention center as Santas walked by on the way to different lap-sitting and present-promising workshops. That was not at all what SantaCon was.

SantaCon is not a convention. It's a movement. Santas began congregating in five different spots outside of Manhattan (the five boroughs maybe?) and slowly moved through bars and subways until they converged in Manhattan. We met up with some Santas in Brooklyn and started playing Christmas music on our baritone horns. People loved it. We ended up leading a contingent of about 20 Santas to a bar in the East Village. There is no set schedule for SantaCon, so when other Santas saw our Santas tweeting about the bar we were at, they came too. Groups of Santas just kept entering, and everytime we would yell, "Look! It's Santa Claus!" By the time there were about 50 Santas in the bar, it got pretty rowdy, with people singing (yelling) impromptu Christmas carols.

At 3:00pm, we went to Washington Square park, where all the Santas from everywhere were meeting (all by word of mouth and Twitter, as far as I could tell). Lori and I obviously got in the middle of the Santas and led some amazing caroling. There must have been five hundred Santas there. It was amazing.

UNHCR Holiday Party

On Wednesday, our office threw a holiday party which doubled as a going-away party for our Deputy Regional Representative, Thomas. The party planners decked out the office in amazing lights and decorations, giving the whole floor a distinctive holiday cheer.

My job was to make a digital fireplace, which I feel I did really well. For those of you interested, I found an HD fireplace video on YouTube which seemed pretty great. I then downloaded Greasemonkey, a Firefox add-on, and downloaded two scripts: Loopy (which allowed for the YouTube video to infinitely loop) and another script that stopped this annoying ad from popping up within the video. Finally, I played the whole thing full screen on a big fat monitor near the bar - it felt like there was an actual fireplace!

At the party, I served as the bartender, and boy was I needed! We filled the office with about 100 guests: UNHCR staff and families, our partners at refugee resettlement agencies, and government partners at the Department for Homeland Security and the State Department. Between some delicious Thai food catering and the wine, beer and scotch I was doling out, I think people had a pretty good time.

My favorite office holiday decoration: Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres with Santa beards!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Princess and the Frog

I am extremely excited to see Disney's The Princess and the frog this weekend - the first traditionally animated feature film by Disney since 2004's Home on the Range. If you aren't familiar with my love of Disney, it's important to know that in 2006, I watched the whole Disney Feature Animated Films Canon.

From the Washington Post:

The Princess and the Frog

She's the belle of the ball

By Ann Hornaday
Friday, Dec. 11, 2009

Few movies have been greeted with as much anticipation -- and outright apprehension -- than "The Princess and the Frog," Disney's first animated movie to feature an African American princess. You can exhale now: "The Princess and the Frog" is a triumph on every one of the myriad levels it has been asked to succeed on.

Anika Noni Rose ("Dreamgirls," "The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency") gives mellifluous spoken and musical voice to Tiana, who works as a waitress in 1920s New Orleans and dreams of opening her own restaurant. When the handsome Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) arrives in town, at first it looks like he'll be married off to Charlotte (Jennifer Cody), a spoiled Southern belle whose family employed Tiana's seamstress mother. But when villainous voodoo doctor Facilier (Keith David) intervenes, everyone's plans go awry, with both Tiana and Prince Naveen winding up as frogs lost in the Louisiana bayou.

With a lilting, catchy score written by the venerable Randy Newman and hand-drawn animation that evokes the most cherished Disney classics, "The Princess and the Frog" effortlessly takes its place in one of cinema's most-revered canons, managing to be groundbreaking and utterly familiar at the same time. The film's setting in New Orleans, with its African, European, Caribbean and Native American influences, allows for a gratifyingly diverse mix of ethnicities and hues among its characters, which also include a Cajun firefly named Ray and a trumpet-playing alligator named Louis. Most important, Tiana turns out to be not just pretty but competent and self-sufficient, embodying the principle that wishing upon a star might help you express your dreams, but hard work, character and perseverance make them come true. "The Princess and the Frog" has been a long time coming, but it's well worth the wait.

At area theaters. Contains nothing objectionable. 95 minutes.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My First Snow

It snowed all day yesterday. Although it didn't stick in the streets, it made a pretty little blanket on our front yard. I got really excited and went outside to take pictures. Then I hurried back inside because it was freezing.

I've been in snow before. I've seen it snow before. However, there's something a little magical about watching it come down outside your own bedroom window.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oh Wow!

I was just watching a dog playing with its owner in the lot across the street from my window. It was a pretty big Doberman Pinscher and seemed to be very happy to be outside (it was probably shut in all day yesterday during the snow). It was prancing around, but then it saw a person walking by on the street and it started running toward him. I was worried for a second that the dog was going to bite the passerby (Dobermans are always portrayed as bad dogs in Disney movies) but it ran past him and into the street.

The dog was immediately slammed by a taxi going 20 mph! What??? The Doberman must have flown 20 feet. I ran down the stairs to see if the owner was ok... it's really hard to watch your own dog get killed by a car, but when I got downstairs, he was petting his dog which apparently survived. I asked and his dog was ok.

Wow. If you want a dog that'll put a dent in a taxi hood and walk away without a scratch, go with a Doberman Pinscher.