Weekend #3!

I hope I'm not boring anyone, what with basically no HBS-related blogging as of late, but truth be told, I'm doing all I can to forget that I have 500 cases ahead of me this fall -- I want to truly enjoy my DC summer. I can assure you that come August there will be plenty of school blogs as EC year rolls out.

This Saturday I began the weekend by meeting up with an old friend from high school (Hi Tara!) with a visit to the Hillwood Museum Estate and Gardens. The estate belonged to Marjorie Merriweather Post (of the Post cereal fortune) in the early 1900s, and when she died, she left her home and antique collection as a museum for the public to enjoy. Although she lived in the 20s and 30s, she was fascinated with old French art and thus decorated her home in the gilded, gold, pastel, ornate style typical of 15-18th century France. Her antiques collection spans multiple regions, though, and features gold and diamond chalices, a wealth of ornate, hand-painted china and some beautiful, richly fabricked costumes. After exploring the 2 story mansion, there are 13 (I think, or was it 17...?) acres of gardens out back exploring different styles -- my favorite was the Japanese garden, although the rose garden was beautiful (but filled with bees and since I am terrified of bees, I couldn't enjoy the experience as much). And then there is a cute little cafe where Tara and I enjoyed lunch and a cappuccino before heading out.
Second in the lineup, I met Amy at the Capitol for a tour, but have to say I was a bit disappointed. Although I knew beforehand that we wouldn't have access to the chambers where the House and Senate meet, I did think we'd get a more substantial tour of the massive building. Instead, we watched a 13-minute video that essentially made the US Congress look perfect (and as much as I love the inspirational music and gorgeous views of the Capitol at sunset, truth be told, our government is far from perfect) and were then shown just 3 rooms -- the rotunda directly under the large dome at the top of the building, the statuary room and the crypt.
The main rotunda truly is spectacular, with a gorgeous painting called "The Glorification of George Washington" at the very top. The surrounding walls feature huge paintings representing different important events in the history of the US (everything from Columbus' voyage to the signing of the Declaration of Independence) flanked by statues of famous historical figures. The statuary room appears to have some French influence -- it was painted a pastel pink with gold adornments -- and it was here that I took a photo with a statue of a man representing the state of Florida. It's terrible that I've already forgotten his name (I was already made fun of once during the tour for having never heard of the guy) as he was the inventor of air conditioning and therefore I owe him lifelong thanks! The final room was called the Crypt, despite the fact that no one is actually buried there, and the only item of real interest in the room was a star shape painted on the floor that represented the exact center of the city.
After our tour, Amy and I met one of the other interns, Megan, for sushi in Rosslyn before heading out to West Falls Church, VA for a showing of Riverdance at the Wolf Trap theater. Although it was a bit far out, it was definitely worth the travel time, as the show was lovely and the theater, just as nice (it's a covered, open-air amphitheater in a wooden area). Unfortunately, photos weren't allowed, so it will be one of the few memories I will have to keep sharp on brain power alone.
The final part of my weekend involved meeting several other HBSers for brunch in Georgetown. We went to a cute little restaurant called the Peacock Cafe...and unfortunately, I don't have anything else exciting to report about the outing.
Next weekend, I depart for Boston to celebrate Lauren's wedding and I couldn't be more excited. More updates and photos will arrive after I'm back in DC on Monday evening! Ciao!

RIP King of Pop

It is a sad day for the world. RIP Michael Jackson. You are and will always be my King of Pop.

The "News Effect" of DC

I've never been one to enjoy reading the newspaper in the morning and my bookmarks online have always been more of the People Magazine variety, but somehow living in DC is turning me into a newsie. Perhaps its the fact that GFC gets the Times, the Wall St. Journal, the Washington Post and a plethora of other news sources each morning, or maybe it's just that I'm living at the "source" of many of the stories. Whatever the reason, I've taken to checking out the headlining news stories on NYT.com and WSJ.com in the mornings and, although WSJ annoys me by siphoning off subscriber-only stories (I could avoid this annoyance by picking up the actual paper GFC gets but I have an aversion to newsprint-stained fingers and hence work clothes), I'm enjoying feeling well read and educated about current events. Taking it a step further, I feel inspired this morning to blog about some of the hottest topics in the news...

1) Obama signs an anti-smoking bill: My first thought was yippee! Even though the restrictions are far from monumental, I have an incredible aversion to all things cigarette-related and feel thrilled when our government takes steps toward eliminating this repulsive habit from society. My grandfather smoked for more than 60 years (and my grandmother smoked for 40), so I've seen first hand the detriments it brings. My grandfather contracted emphysema and it got so bad that he lost 90% of his lung capacity, was out of breath simply from leaning over and tying his shoes, and had to be on numerous medications just to breathe. It's no fun suffocating to death.

I always wonder why young people today even choose to start smoking. I mean, back in the 20s and 30s, at least you could blame it on ignorance and the fact that no one knew it was bad for you, but nowadays kids are thrown into D.A.R.E. and Just Say No programs in elementary school where they are clearly taught the consequences and health risks associated with tobacco. It's obviously not cool to have your hair, breath, and clothes smell of smoke, there's nothing attractive about yellow teeth and hairline wrinkles around the mouth, and goodness knows it's an expensive habit to maintain. So what's the appeal? I'd love it if someone could give me one good reason to start smoking.

With that said, I think it's amazing that, even as a smoker himself, Obama could stand up and take steps toward keeping children away from this disgusting deed. Now if only he could kick the habit himself and make an example out of his struggle and success in quitting!

2) DC Metro Train Crash: Firstly, I need to thank all of my friends and family for reaching out yesterday to make sure I was safe after news hit that two DC Metro trains had collided near Maryland. Thankfully, I do not take the red line home, so I was nowhere near the crash, but it's definitely scary to see the damage that was caused. Apparently the death toll is up to 9 now and more than 75 people were injured. Authorities still seem unsure of exactly how the crash happened, and unfortunately the train operator was one of those killed, so I don't think they'll ever really know, but it definitely brings into stark relief how much you are really putting your life in someone else's hands just by riding the subway to and from work every day.
3) Neda and the Iranian Revolution: This is the most heartwrenching news story that I've seen in a while. For those of you who haven't heard of Neda, she was a 27 year old woman living in Iran and attending a "peaceful" protest with her father over the Iranian election when she was shot in the chest. Her death on the streets of Iran was captured via cell phone video and quickly disseminated through social networks to people around the world. The video is definitely graphic and shows her first lying in a pool of blood and then bleeding profusely from her nose and mouth and she slips into unconsciousness. It's difficult to watch, but at the same time, so important to know about because it helps you understand the nature of the conflict in Iran and how volatile the situation is. It's also interesting how quickly this unknown woman who was neither a political figure nor a celebrity so quickly rose to the status of martyr simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In the days since her death on Saturday, people have written poems about her, branded her an angel and in a sense, sensationalized her death to the point that she has become a symbol of the revolution.
Regardless, it's so shocking and terrible to watch someone die -- naturally, my curiousity got the best of me and I had to watch the minute-long video -- and it just makes you wish for peace that much harder.
That's the news for today according to me, ciao!

Jun Visits DC!

This past weekend Jun, one of my friends and sectionmates from HBS, came to visit DC and we had a packed weekend filled with lots of sightseeing and good food. Saturday morning we started our adventure off at the Arlington National Cemetery, despite the torrential rain (can't let a little water stop us!).

The cemetery offers a tour of some of the most prominent sites, so we boarded the bus and headed to the Kennedy gravesite where Jackie Kennedy, JFK and his brother Robert Kennedy are all buried.

This photo shows JFK's tomb and the eternal flame that is lit behind it. Jackie's grave sits right next to JFK's and Robert's grave is a little ways away up a separate pathway. Behind the graves is a beautiful memorial with some of JFK's most famous quotes carved into stone ("Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country..." among others). A similar memorial with quotes and a waterfall is near RFK's grave.

The second stop on the cemetery tour was at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a memorial that is guarded by high-ranking military 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I tried to ask the park rangers why of all the tombs it was felt that this one should be guarded and unfortunately, I couldn't get an answer from anyone, so I still need to research this. Nonetheless, there is a very solemn and official ceremony that takes place every half an hour to change the guards. There's lots of "barking" by the man in charge of the ceremony, followed by interesting rifle maneuvers, lots of heel clicking and pacing back and forth. I'm not sure I entirely understood the significance of the ceremony, but it was nice to see anyway. Nearby the Tomb is a beautiful marble amphitheater where speeches are held, and not far away are the memorials to the astronauts on the Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia.

The third and final stop on the tour was Arlington House, which overlooks the entire graveyard and was once the home to confederate General Robert E. Lee. Nearly 90% of the original structure of the house is intact and you can tour the main home, the slave quarters, the kitchens, the rose garden and a small bookstore. Although it was a cloudy, rainy day, the view from the top of the hill really is amazing. You can see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the White House among other DC sites.

Next up on our whirlwind tour was a visit to the West building of the Smithsonian National Gallery of Art. I have noticed that I am so incredibly impressed with the architecture of the buildings in the city and this Gallery was among the most beautiful structures yet. The photo of the museum rotunda above does not accurately portray the beauty of the entryway with its majestic arches, marble columns and calming fountain with rich sunlight streaming in from two sides. Jun and I began our visit with a lovely lunch in the museum's Garden Cafe. The cuisine changes frequently, representing different regions of the world, and currently is focused on Spanish cuisine. We tried lots of Spanish cheeses (goat, sheep and cow's milk) with crispy bread, a chilled gazpacho soup, a lentil dish, an eggplant dish, delicious spiced meatballs, chicken baked with bacon and lentils and finally blueberries and flan for dessert. Amazing (and less than $20!).

From there it was time to explore the galleries, which are split into regions and time periods, mostly featuring 15th-18th century art. Among my favorite sections were the Monets and Van Goghs, the Dutch and Flemish art (they had a few Vermeers, but not Girl with a Pearl Earring) and the 15th and 16th century French art. They had one Da Vinci painting (apparently it is the only Da Vinci in North America), but I honestly wasn't very impressed!

After several hours of touring the Gallery, we made a brief stop at the East building, but had just 10 minutes to explore as the museum was getting ready to close. To kill time, we walked over to the White House so Jun could take some photos and then we grabbed a cab to Georgetown and walked around a bit exploring the shops. Shortly thereafter we met our sectionmate William for an Italian dinner at Papa Razzi followed by a showing of the Disney-Pixar film "Up" in Disney Digital 3D (it was an awesome movie, so go see it if you haven't!). At midnight, we finally hit the sack and prepared for the fun to come on Sunday.

Sunday morning we departed for the Jefferson Memorial, which is a good 15-20 minute walk from the National Mall. The memorial itself is more breathtaking than I imagined it would be, complete with a gigantic statue of Jefferson in the center of a rotunda on which his most famous quotes are carved into each of four walls. The remainder of the rotunda is filled with pillars overlooking the Potomac on one side and gardens on the others. Underneath the memorial is an exhibit on Jefferson's life (with a very interesting film) and a couple of gift shops.

After touring the memorial we walked all the way to the other end of the mall to have lunch at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. Although Jun wasn't interested in touring the museum (I'll have to save that for another weekend!), the cafe there is supposed to be the best among the Smithsonians as they feature Native American offerings from different regions of the US (Jun had a buffalo sandwich that she was less than thrilled with, but I enjoyed my meal of papuchas (sort of like a potato pancake stuffed with either cheese or beans and covered with cabbage and a special sauce), yucca fries and a lima bean and avocado salad). From there we walked to the Freer Gallery of Asian Art and took a docent tour of the museum highlights, including Whistler's Peacock room, a green and gold room with peacock "feather" designs floor to ceiling.

With that, we grabbed some ice cream, took a quick tour of the Hirshorn Museum sculpture garden (and tied a wish to Yoko Ono's wish tree) and parted ways so Jun could explore the Lincoln Memorial (I'm seeing it with another guest later this summer) and I could give my aching feet and back a rest.

And so another awesome week of touring comes to a close. Next weekend I've got a tour of the Capitol, the Hillwood museum, a concert and brunch with HBS folks on deck. More then!

First Week in DC!

One week in and my summer in DC is off to a good start. As you know from my previous post, I'm enjoying my apartment and work is starting to shape up as well. All of my colleagues are very nice, and the interns are especially friendly and good lunch company. I've also crafted this matrix (dork alert!) of all the things I want to see and do while I'm here. There are nearly 50 items on there, so I imagine it will take the whole summer to check them all off, if I can even accomplish that.

GFC interns at a Thai restaurant in downtown DC

I've been spending a good deal of time with one of the Fellows at work, a woman from Nigeria named Amy. We're both first timers in DC so are enjoying siteseeing together. On Saturday we covered the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, took a break for an awesome Mexican tapas lunch, and then got through about 1/3 of the Smithsonian Museum of American History (people weren't kidding when they said these museums were huge!). We were so pooped by 3pm, that we had to sit in the cafeteria for 30 minutes just to rest our aching backs and feet!

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Smithsonian Museum of American History

Oyamel, an excellent Mexican tapas restaurant

To cap off the day we saw the Night at the Museum sequel in IMAX back at the Natural History museum and then dragged our tired bodies home. Since we didn't see much of the American History museum, it's definitely a destination I'll have to hit again soon. I think it's an early favorite what with the Lincoln exhibit (featuring one of his stovepipe hats!), one of the original American flags and an original Kermit the Frog puppet!

This weekend my friend Jun from HBS is coming to visit and we've got a packed itinerary including the Arlington National Cemetery, Iwo Jima Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, National Gallery, and Freer and Sackler Galleries (Smithsonian galleries of Asian art). Leading up to the weekend I've got dinner plans tomorrow, Weds. and Thurs., and lunch plans with a sorority sister from UF on Thurs., so it's going to be a busy week and weekend. More soon!

Kendra Wilkinson (Hugh Hefner's former girlfriend) is pregnant...

...God help us...

...More about first day of work later!

Welcome to the Nation's Capital!

Yesterday I arrived in DC thanks to my very generous aunt and uncle who drove me down from Pennsylvania. I was up in PA for my cousin Aven's wedding (Congratulations Aven!) and spent a few days just relaxing with family and eating way too many cookies (Aven's aunt brought homemade almond butter cookies and they were delish!), pieces of cake and scoops of ice cream. I think I'll be entirely sugared out for weeks!

My first afternoon in DC was quite the adventure. After getting my keys, I did an initial shopping trip, unpacked, said goodbye to my aunt and uncle and proceeded to cook myself a sesame ginger chicken and mushrooms dinner, which was delicious at the time. I spent the evening watching TV and relaxing after being exhausted from traveling and planned to go to bed early only to witness the power go out in the entire apartment. New to the apartment, I had no idea where to find a flashlight, if the tenants even left one, so I'm walking around with my iPhone as light searching for matches to light the few candles in the bathroom. After a few minutes without the power turning back on, I start to get a little freaked out hanging out alone in this pitch black apartment, so I use my iPhone to call the office and they tell me the power is out on the entire block! I tried to fall asleep, but without AC it's awful tough to get comfortable. The power finally came back on at 2am, at which point I nodded off only to be woken up by the loudest thunderstorm I've ever heard at 6am. To make things worse, my chicken and mushroom dinner turned out to be poison to my stomach and I have felt sick all day with a churning stomach ache. What a welcome!

In more positive news, I did go exploring a bit today and found my office for work, wandered through Franklin Square and went to Columbia Heights to Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target. I experimented with the Metro and discovered the two stops within walking distance of my apartment. And the apartment is beautiful! The furniture is simple -- just my taste -- and the place is stocked with practically everything I will need for the summer (minus a flashlight). I definitely think I got a good deal with the sublet as it's also in a great area and is super secure (you need a card to get in the building and one to get the elevator to take you to the floor you live on). I was hoping to get back in the gym today (there is one in the building), but thought it might be a better idea to take it easy considering my stomach ache. Hopefully I can start working out again mid-week.

The living/dining room and view of the balcony from the front door.

The view of the living/dining room area from the balcony.

The bathroom...

The kitchen...

And the bedroom!

Tomorrow is my first day of work at GFC, so I'll be sure to blog and let everyone know how that goes. And then hopefully I'll get a chance to start exploring all of the touristy stuff this week and weekend!