Sunday, June 28, 2009

A little update

Things we've been up to lately...

1. A couple weekends ago we went to the capitol and had a chat with Congressman Jim Matheson. .He was a nice enough fella - he was rockin cowboy boots so that alone would win my vote (also he's a dem in utah - which takes some guts). But he dodged both of Ryan's questions, even though Ryan's follow-ups nailed him to the wall.

2. That same weekend we went to Mary's Center - it's a clinic which focuses on women's health especially during/after pregnancy but has gradually grown to encompass other facets of health/education and healthy relationships. It mainly services Latin American women. It was neat. But we did a big service project there with the whole group of us from BYU. Ryan successfully organized the cleaning out of an attic while I helped make business cards (just cutting them out). Then afterwards we painted a fence.

3. Last weekend we went to NDU (National Defense University) for an all day role playing scenario thingy. Everyone was assigned different positions within the American or Mexican government. I was assigned to the Mexican Ministry of Defense and Ryan was in the US State Dept. Then we were presented with an issue - ours happened to be drug trafficking and border security. I guess it was somewhat educational but there wasn't much of an argument between the two sides since there was a common interest in solving the problem.

4. We also went to the Air and Space Museum - which was super neat because they have a TON of life size models of the planes and stuff.

5. In addition to becoming expert tourists, we're also picking up some other skills like protesting. Last Saturday we hopped on the band wagon and followed an Iranian protest down to the White House. There we wandered around (me looking very out of place with red hair and light skin mixed in with all these dark beautiful Persian women) and filmed different things. There was also a protest going on about Burma's human rights violations. When we were walking away we passed several Secret Security guys decked out and sneaking around different corners of the White House grounds. At least Obama's protected right? It was pretty cool - we had originally joined because we heard them walking down the street outside our window.

6. This past week I got to go to a couple neat conferences. The first on was at NDU which was focused on how the US can better support peacekeeping efforts. There were some really big whigs from the UN and DoD in the room that I got to meet which was super cool. There was the head of peacekeeping for the UN Alaine Le Roy - Frenchman, Ian Sinclair, Susanna Malcorra, US 4 Star General in charge of AFRICOM Combatant Command William "Kip" Ward, Dr. Ester Brimmer, and lots of other cool people.All people very Google worthy. The next day I went to a conference at CSIS which centered on the impact of HIV/AIDS on state's security - very interesting. It was a fun week.

7. Ryan also had a super busy week. He's been creating a briefing book for his bosses' trip to Chile to meet with the Inter-American Development Bank. It's a pretty big deal and a really big book. He's pretty amazing for doing most the grunt work.

8. This weekend was a lot of fun. Friday our first briefing was at the Supreme Court where we got a tour followed by a meeting with one of the Justice's clerks. It's a really pretty building and I fully plan on incorporating this amazing chair into my future house -

I really like the colors a lot.
9. After the briefings we went to the Smithsonian Sculpture Garden where they have a Friday night live Jazz performance. It was really fun. There's a big reflection pool in the middle where everyone dips their feet in to cool off. I had very wrinkly feet by the time we left. After the Jazz we went to a great restaurant with some friends. It was a good thing we left when we did because shortly after arriving at the restaurant a monsoon started outside (if it wasn't really a monsoon you could've fooled me by the sheets of rain that were coming down).

10. Saturday we headed down to the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery. I really enjoyed it. I miss doing/seeing all the artsy stuff that I did in high school. This was a fun refresher.

Now we have just a few more days until my family comes (expect Chris, Emmy and the boys - which will all be missed a ton). I'm really excited to spend the 4th with them and can't wait till Thursday.

That's about it for us. We're not that exciting but we're still having a great time here enjoying easy classes, lots of free time, a beautiful city, museums galore, nice weather (on the days it's not too hot and humid or rainy and cold), and each other.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One of my Favorite Things...

These are amazing...

I strongly suggest that everyone try the
m many times. I'm still figuring out details of how I'm either going to get a Trader Joe's to set up shop in Provo or how I'm going to get them shipped to me every week or so. Fantastic fat free investment.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend was great. Friday, after the briefings with the MCC and some political fella, we went with a group of friends to Wisey's (Wisemiller's if you want the original name) for their famous chicken sandwich. It used to be one of Bill Clinton's old stomping grounds. It's fantastic and we highly recommend it if you're looking for some good sandwiches etc.

Saturday I dragged Ryan to Eastern Market where they have a flea/farmers market every Saturday and Sunday morning. It was really fun and there were tons of vendors. While we were there we stopped by a used book store. It was a two story house with a basement that was seriously floor to ceiling books two to three rows deep in every crack and cranny imaginable. It was insane. The owner also editorialized on various subjects which made the whole experience extra entertaining - for example in a Harry Potter book he had a sticky note that said "Ron Dies". He was a funny guy.

Ryan in the "Nixon" section - what else would you really expect?

After the flea market, we walked around all over Eastern Market (it's a region - like Georgetown, Pentagon City, Capital Heights etc). We also stopped in Popeyes for a Louisiana lunch experience. It was a fun relaxing day. After exploring Eastern Market we headed back home for a quick nap before going to the Rolling Thunder candlelight vigil. The vigil was re
ally really neat. A bunch of Vietnam vets and bikers all went to the Wall where there was a processional with bagpipes, colorguard, and a torch. Everyone was pretty much silent while the bagpipes played moving songs like Amazing Grace. It was incredible to see the men around you bonding while reflecting on their experiences as soldiers and fellow friends who didn't make it home. After the processional continued passed the wall, it went to the two statues in the area where they recognized women who served as nurses during the war. The women, who were all dressed in white, stood in a circle and passed around the torch. It was really beautiful. The vigil was incredible.

Sunday we attended an early church ward so we could later go to the Rolling Thunder Rally. We read that there were about 400,000 bikes in town for the event so you can imagine how long and ho
w loud it all was. There was a constant flow of bikers from the Pentagon to the Lincoln Memorial for about 3+ hours. It was crazy. The Rolling Thunder cause is really neat - here's a quote from their website "All are united in the cause to bring full accountability for POWs and MIAs of all wars, reminding the government, the media and the public by our watchwords 'We Will Not Forget' " The name for Rolling Thunder comes from the roaring sound of the motorcycles which mimicks the noise from the constant bombing of North Vietnam in 1965 which was given the name "Operation Rolling Thunder". I loved seeing all the different types of people who were there - there's such diversity. I also loved seeing all the bikes - it was cool. And I think Ryan just loved it all.

Monday we ventured out to the National Aquarium. This was, well, interesting. Despite the official sounding name, and the $7 per person charge, the aquarium was a major let down. Our first clue should have been walking to the basement of the
Department of Commerce Building, however, we missed this first clue and continued on. Our second clue should've been the floating fish together a little bit too near the top of the tank. That clue followed by the "little too still" snakes curled up in various places of their cages topped it off. At least we donated to the cause - maybe now they can buy some new fish and snakes. After the aquarium we ventured to the old Post Office building now converted into a shopping center of sorts - it was a really neat looking building. Then we headed outside right in time to watch the Memorial Day Parade. It was all great fun.