Saturday, December 29, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Well, we're a good way through the holidays, and I've been in Minnesota the whole time. On Christmas Eve we had a family dinner and then went to midnight mass. On Christmas, we had Uncle David, Aunt Natalie, and Drew and MacKenzie for brunch. This is probably my biggest meal of the year - I love those cheesy hashbrowns... We opened presents and played games, which is the yearly tradition. It was really fun to see all of them - we don't get together that often, but when we do it's always very nice.In the evening, my family went to my Grandma John's house to visit my dad's side of the family. We had tons of food, again, and then hung out and opened gifts. By the time we left, we were ready for bed, even if it was only 10pm.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Craigslist Crazy

I'm still at home, enjoying my break and relaxing in Minnesota. The temperature was actually up in the 30's today, though we're due for a blizzard, so that should take care of that. One of my major activities today has been posting things on craigslist, already today I've gotten rid of two desks, a recliner, a TV, and two desk chairs. Pretty awesome.

Also, all of my grades are up on my school website, so I know my current GPA. I have a 3.79, which is not bad, though grad school grades are super-inflated, so it's not like undergrad. Well, that's all the news for today!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Back to High School

I went back to good old North High the other day to see the Choir Christmas Concert. Paul, Katie and I went together - we'd all been in Choir. It was pretty crazy. They have the same conductor that we had, and sang almost all songs that we'd sung while in choir. Every year at the choir concert they invite the alumni up on the stage to sing the Hallelujah Chorus along with the choir. Katie and I were both sopranos, so we stood next to each other - it's a fun song to sing, though the soprano part is higher than I remember... Katie actually ran into her best friend while she was on stage - Katie just got into town that yesterday and she didn't know her friend would be at the concert.

After the concert Paul and I wandered around the school a bit. Everyone who gets All-Conference in a sport gets their picture on the wall, and they don't take them down for many years. Paul, Katie and I are all still up on the wall. This is what they look like:

My First LAN party

Big advance in my nerdiness score, as I participated in my first LAN party the other day. I played "Age of Mythology" with Paul, Kevin and Clint. And of course, now I'm addicted. Gonna have to play another round sometime soon. "Age of Mythology" is a real-time strategy game. Woot.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Golden Compass

Well, after my trip to Charleston, I made the leap from 80 degrees and palm trees, to a high of 12 degrees and snow. Yay, Minnesota! :) Anyway, reading the book "The Golden Compass" fit well with this, since most of the story takes place in the frozen north. I've just finished the book and I thought it was pretty good - lots of imagination.

There are a ton of new words and concepts - in the beginning its almost overwhelming, because there is never direct explanation of what things are - you just have to pick up on it from context. Also, the characters are not always likeable, especially in the beginning. However, as it went on and I started to get a better feel for what was going on and how things fit together in Pullman's alternate world, it was pretty interesting. The ending leaves you hanging for the most part - so I suppose next I'll be moving onto "The Subtle Knife" - the second book in this trilogy.

I'm interested in seeing the movie now, too - I hope they do a decent job compared the book. There is a lot of information to get in, so we'll see.


I just spent a few days visiting Charleston, SC. It was a really great trip. I was there for meetings for work, so most of my tourist experience had to be after 5pm, but it worked out well anyway. I saw a lot of market street and visited a lot of different restaurants and pubs along that street.

I had coffee at a cute place near my hotel, though unfortunately, I don't remember exactly where - I was staying on Meeting Street a few blocks north of Market, so somewhere around there.

I also had a really good time the day we went for lunch in North Charleston. We ate at Aunt Mae's (I think that was the name). I had fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and green beans - and sweet tea to drink. The mayor was there while we were there, which was pretty cool.

One of the evenings we drove along the water front by Battery Park, which was very cool. The houses in Charleston are unbelievable - I'd love to go back someday and see more of the town, but for a short trip I thought I got a good feel for the city.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's Snowing!

It's hard to write a lot, because I'm in the final count-down to the end of the first semester. I had four 10-page papers due within one week. I turned in one yesterday, and another is due tomorrow. The last two are due this coming Monday. So, in summary, I'm busy.

I'm also attending talks by three of the candidates for the director position at the Space Policy Institute where I study. Today I saw Joan Johnson-Freese, which is cool, because the paper that's due tomorrow is all about a book that she wrote. Tomorrow is Molly McCauley and Friday Scott Pace is speaking.

It snowed today, and I got some beautiful pics of DC!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

New York City... again!

I ended up spending most of my weekend in New York City this weekend - I took a bus there on Friday evening and spent the night with my sister at her dorm. It's so fun that she lives right downtown in the middle of Manhattan! On Friday night we hung out and watched the E! channel for way too long (it plays almost continuously in her room). Our Grandma John, Aunt Kathy, and Aunt Marilyn were in New York for the weekend, so when we woke up we called them and met up in Chinatown. We decided to walk over to Little Italy and had a really nice lunch.
I meant to get a bus home on Saturday afternoon, but just barely missed it. The next bus wasn't until two hours later. That gave me a chance to visit "gift on fifth" - a project that my friend, Ray, had helped to set up. It's sponsored by Bank of America, and includes free coffee and cocoa, free gift wrapping, and a bunch of couches to hang out and relax. It was fun visiting him, and we all went out for food afterwards.
I ended up not trying to make the 9pm bus and just going back to Katie's instead. She and I were up until after 3am working on homework - we both have finals coming up. I left this morning on the 6:30am bus and was back to DC by 11:00am.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas Time Apartment

Jeff and I had a mini-Christmas celebration today - decorating our apartment a bit, and then eating Chinese food and watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

Back in DC

I arrived back in DC two days ago (on Monday) and it's been a busy time ever since. When I got here on Monday, I came home and met up with Jeff and John Gardner, who was in town visiting. We went to 14 and U to get coffee and chat. John seems to be enjoying California and his job designing circuits there. Jeff had a fun time home at Thanksgiving.

At 5:30pm, I had class, but in this case it was extra exciting, because we had an important guest speaker. The administrator (head) of NASA, Mike Griffin, spoke to our class from 5:30pm until 7pm. Since my class only has about 40 people in it, it was a very unique venue to hear him speak. He talked about a wide variety of policy issues and was very straightforward about his ideas.

There are about two weeks before the end of the first semester, and I have four 10-page papers to complete before then. I also need to apply for the International Space University Summer Program as well as for funding to attend it. I need to investigate getting an internship for next semester. I also want to enjoy the city and the Christmas decorations before leaving for the rest of the month. And there's also my two part time jobs. So... it's going to be a busy time!

Sunday, November 25, 2007


My dad coaches a high school football team in Minnesota - De La Salle. The football team did really well, and made it all the way to state. Unfortunately, they didn't win in the finals, but they still came in 2nd! The game was at the Dome, and it was first football game I've ever seen there.

Thanksgiving in Minnesota!

I'm back in Minnesota for Thanksgiving. On Thursday we had dinner at my house, and then played games. It was a really nice holiday!

Eventful Week

The week of Nov. 11-18th was a really fun week - Jeff and I did exciting stuff each of the nights. Monday I went out with people from my program; Tuesday Jeff and I saw "Juno" and saw a Q&A with the screen-writer and main actress. On Wednesday we went to a talk on Space Policy hosted by the "Women in Aerospace" group. It was a really interesting talk, and the building had a beautiful view of the capital. Thursday, we had a Beaujolais nouveau party after class, to celebrate "Beaujolais Day" with this wine, which is released the third Thursday in November. (I'm still not clear exactly why this constitutes a holiday, but wikipedia confirms it's a real thing.) On Friday, we got together with friends for a Bollywood Movie night. We watched "Rang de Basanti", which is a good movie - about students in India and current politics juxtaposed with the story of Indian revolutionaries in the early 20th century. And it's got dancing! We also had Indian food for dinner and did some dancing ourselves. On Saturday, Jeff and I got up early in the morning (8:30am is early to me, at least) and got on the bus to New York. We spent the day walking around New York City with our friends Kamal and Stefania, who I met while I was living in England. It was really nice to see them; it's been two or three years since the last time we saw each other. We ended the evening by seeing a fun comedy show in a bar on Bleeker Street in the Village. Then we raced to the bus station to get back to DC. Sunday, Nov. 18th was Jeff's birthday, and we celebrated mostly by ordering pizza and watching football. It was a very nice, relaxing birthday. Then, on Monday, Rachel and Tim came into the city to visit and hang out, and Jeff's brother, Dave, was in town visiting, too. Tim and Rachel got Jeff a birthday fruit tart (substitute for cake). It was a busy string of days, and lots of fun!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Exams and Movies

Well, as of Monday, I have officially gotten at least some grades in all of my classes, and overall it looks like I'm doing really well. That's great, because it's difficult going into a new field. Especially going from engineering where you do problem sets and basically know before hand that you either got the right answer or you didn't, to policy where everything is essays and research papers, and there is no "right" answer (though there are still good and bad grades).

So Monday night after getting our midterms, a bunch of us from class went to "Mezza Luna", which is a restaurant/bar at 19th and L. It was a fun restaurant, and had a really good bread and dip, though I can't figure out what's in the dip, exactly.

Last night, Jeff and I went to a free screening of the movie "Juno". It's about a comedy about a teenage girl that gets pregnant (and it's set in Minnesota). Seems odd, but it was actually pretty funny (if you don't think too seriously about the moral issues involved...). Check out the trailor at: - under videos. One of the very cool things about the screening was that the screenplay writer, Diablo Cody, and the main actress, Ellen Page, were there and did a Q&A afterwards.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Birthday Weekend

Well, I'm 24 years old now, as of Thursday. It's been a fun birthday weekend! On my actual birthday, I finished up the last paper that was due that week, went to work for a bit, and then class. It got more fun after that... After class a group of us went to see my friend Brian's play - "Lend Me a Tenor" - which was really fun. Then we went out for drinks.

On Friday, Jeff and I did a lot of lounging around, and then went for food at Thai Tanic - a restaurant just around the corner from us. It's got good food, but crazy interior decorating - the tables are all silver and sparkly and bright, and it sort of looks like a 50's diner mixed with a disco-style club. Then we went and saw "The Darjeeling Limited", which was really fun.

Saturday, in addition to some work and relaxing at home, we went for dinner at Indique - some friends from my program - Stephanie, Steph and Eric - had given me a home-made gift certificate to the restaurant. The food there was really great. We had Lamb Rogan Josh and Vegetable Biriyani, probably the best lamb I've ever had, and also the first time I've had biriyani in the U.S. After dinner we went to visit Tim and Rachel in Greenbelt, and had a movie night - we watched "Hot Fuzz" which is by the same people as "Sean of the Dead" and is just about as ridiculous and funny.

Today's been another relax-at-home day - we've been out of town the last few weekends, so I think we're taking it easy. Football and mac-n-cheese. I signed up for Grand Central, which is a service in its beta version from Google. It's pretty cool - it give you a local phone number for anywhere in the continental U.S. you want (except Maine for some reason) and then has all sorts of features. It screens your calls, and you can have individualized messages for different people or groups of people. It lets you listen to your voicemails online, and will email you when you have voicemails if you want. It also lets you record calls - so if you need a phone number or directions but have no pen, you just press four to have it record.

Ok, later on I'm going to a space-girls'-night-dinner in Dupont Circle with some other girls in my program... and that's about it for the weekend!

Monday, November 5, 2007


Jeff and I spent last weekend in Boston - it was a great trip! We decided to drive up, despite the bad omen of the car breaking down at the end of our previous weekend-trip. Also, since we were borrowing his mom's Prius for this trip, we were more confident in the car's ability to survive.

The driving part was fun - it's about 8 hours from DC to Boston, and that's plenty of time for Jeff and I to discuss everything from our childhood Halloween costumes to the merits of out-lawing all advertising. (In summary, I dressed up as a princess, a fairy, and a fairy princess, while Jeff dressed up as a "fat guy" three years in a row... and though we know it isn't practical, we're still deciding whether or not advertising in general should be legal, and if so, what rules it should have to follow.)

It was great to be back in the city - Jeff hasn't seen it since he left to come to DC, so he was really excited. We stayed at Theta Xi, and hung around with all of the people there. Since they change rooms and arrangements every semester, everything was surprisingly familiar - you get used to the house in general, not to specific furniture lay-outs or things like that. It was a cool experience to go back to the dorm-style living with lots of people for a few days. You see your friends so much more often when they're across the hall with the door open, and when you know they're over there trying to think of ways to procrastinate, too. When you move out to the city, you get the benefits of having your own cool apartment and all the freedom and privacy that comes along with it, but you miss out on a lot of the impromptu "hanging out" that happens in college.

It was cool to meet the new pledges at Jeff's house, too. After being around for 5 years of rush, it was strange to think there was a new class of students that you've never met. I also met a lot of freshmen who had been in FAP (Freshman Arts Preorientation Program). I was a counselor for the program for two years, and a coordinator my senior year - I wrote a number of the activities that they do during the program - but, of course, these freshman had no idea who I was or that I had ever been involved in FAP at all. Such a weird feeling to be around familiar places and talk about familiar programs, but have all the new stuff and people mixed in.

We were in town the weekend of the blacklight party at Jeff's fraternity. That turned out to be a great plan, because a lot of the people we might not have otherwise seen were over to the house on Saturday night. It was so fun to see everybody and hear what they're up to. I'm really hoping Jeff and I can manage to stay in touch with people.

We also saw some of the people from my year - specifically Janet, Liz, Jess and Sam. That was great since Janet moved to Boston right after I moved away and we never got to actually hang out. Janet, Liz, Jeff and I had dinner at a Brazilian BBQ place in Inman Square (which is getting to be a really cool area), and then went back to their apartment where we had great blueberry tea and saw Jess and Sam.

So lots more happened over the weekend and I'm sure I could write more about it, but this week is going to be a little crazy - I have four papers due by Thursday (two of which are due in 2.5 hours). If I enjoyed writing about the national system of innovation as much as I enjoy writing about my trip to Boston, I'd probably be fine, but since that's not the case, I better get back to work and make the most of the 2.5 hours I have left.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Savannah Plan!

I'm really excited at the moment, because Janet, Neera and I have succeeded in booking a fun weekend trip from January. Since graduation, the three of us have been geographically dispersed - last year Janet was in San Francisco, Neera was in Chicago, and I was in Boston. This year Janet is in Boston, Neera's still in Chicago, and I'm in DC. Since this is the case, we decided to try to get together and go on a 'girl's weekend' trip each year. Last year we went on a cruise to the Bahamas. This year we're staying in a Bed and Breakfast in Savannah, GA.

I'm really excited for this trip. I've never stayed in a B&B and never been to Savannah. I think it will be a relaxing, cute weekend. We're going the third weekend in January, so it will be a nice break from the cold. The bed and breakfast we're staying in is called the Dresser Palmer House: and we'll have the John Wesley room: - it's got a working fire place and opens onto the front veranda! They have a "hearty breakfast" and a social hour from 5:30-7pm with wine and cheese. Should be fun!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Mongol Rally

Ok, one thing they do in England is pick a completely random task and then do it for charity. The two things have no real relation except for saying that they do. For example, you try to get as far away from London as you can for free.... for charity. (You get people to pledge money to you because you're going to try to get as far away as you can, see?) People have actually gotten as far as Japan. Or, maybe you hitchhike to Morocco... for charity. Really, that's a yearly event. (You have to go around asking people "I'm going to hitchhike to Morocco... will you please give me money for charity?)

So, now I come to the point of the title. Driving a 1.0 liter car from London to Mongolia... for charity. They give you no route, practically ensure that you'll be asked for bribes, followed, lost, etc., and by making the 1.0 liter engine rule, basically to ensure that you're car will break down, probably more than once. It's 10,000 miles and takes about 3 weeks. You have to go through Russia or Afganistan or Turkmenistan or Iran, etc. So, some friends of mine have decided to enter and are looking for more teammates. Is it crazy that I would love to do this? Think of all the adventure they're going to have! Check out the website and let me know what you think:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Das Auto ist Kaput and Yay, Sox!

Well, the road trip to New York went well, with one unfortunate hitch towards the end. When we were on our way back, the car started making a loud engine noise. According to my dad, that's bad news. Luckily, Jeff and I were only a couple miles from his house in Baltimore when it happened, so we were able to get it towed to a car shop nearby that he knows, and his mom picked us up. Since it's a 3 hour round-trip drive to bring us back to DC, we stayed the night at his parents house and his mom dropped us off at the train station in Baltimore the next day on her way to work.

So, during our New York trip, our sleeping hours were about 5/6am to noon. Then, on Sunday night, I felt that I needed to watch the Sox - it was game four and they were up three games!!! Of course, it was worth it - hence the "Yay, Sox" in the title. So I didn't get to bed til after midnight... which would have been ok if we were still on the 5am-noon schedule. Unfortunately, Jeff's mom doesn't leave for work at noon, she leaves at 6:30am. And Jeff, who thinks the Red Sox are becoming the Yankees and went to bed at 10pm, was up and atom at 5:30am. So we took the MARC train to DC, got in around 8am, and I took a cab home. So, all that combined with my head cold made Monday into a strictly TV-Watching day. After a full dose of Star Trek Voyager and Enterprise, I think I'm better and ready for my Working Tuesday.

As for the car, it's currently in the shop - lost a spark plug, which I guess is bad, but not enough to total the car. Hopefully we'll have it back soon. Especially since the plan is to leave for Boston on Thursday night!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Katie's Keyboard Is Missing a Letter...

I'm spending this weekend in New York to celebrate Katie's 21st Birthday. Jeff and I didn't act*ally get in *ntil abo*t 8pm. We stopped on the way to pick *p Katie's gift from my family, which was a new digital camera. We got her a red Nikon Coolpix S200, which seems really good. On Friday night the first thing we did after getting here was go shopping. (Imagine that...) Katie and I got dresses at Forever 21.

That night we went to a cl*b called "Pl*mm". It was a really nice place - even Jeff had really liked it!

Here's some pics:
Happy 21st Birthday, Katie!!!

We ended the night by staying with o*r friend, Ray in Hoboken, NJ. It's a short path train over, and since he doesn't seem to go to bed *ntil after 5am, it worked out will with lots of time to hang o*t. He's got his apartment set *p so that everything can be r*n from his computer, and has an 8 foot screen with a projector in his living room. We watched one of the episodes abo*t Earth from the discovery channel - I can't remember what's it's act*ally called now, but that on an 8 ft screen in HD was f*n. Nice way to end the night.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bits and Peices...

I don't have a substantial amount of news to go into this blog, but just an assorted group of items. Things are going well with work and school. I got back my first two papers - I got A's on both!

Wednesday was really fun - I stayed home and did work most of the day, and then Jeff and I went to Baltimore. We went to a cool tea shop called Teavolve, and then met up with his mom at a restaurant that happened to be across the street - La Cazuela. It's an Ecuadorian restaurant, and it was really good! (More about both those things available on my website -

Today, I found out that one of the professors I work for wrote an OpEd in the Wall Street Journal, and then was interviewed on the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. He teaches a class on Space Law that I'm going to be taking next year.

Tomorrow Jeff and I are off to New York to hang out with Katie and celebrate her 21st birthday!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Two states on Saturday!

The Katie and Carvey visit continued on Saturday. Jeff got up early and went to take a test (Test on a Saturday!), and Katie decided to stay in and study. Carvey and I went out to see DC...

...especially the Air and Space Museum.
Then we all got together and went to Baltimore.
We showed Katie and Carvey around the Inner Harbor, and then decided to see it from the water - via an awesome trip on a paddleboat.
Katie would have liked to ride the dragon boat, but they only hold 3 adults.

Then we went to Fells Point where we met up with Jeff's friends - it was Rachel's birthday!
And that was it for the weekend. Carvey headed out early the next morning, and Katie left Sunday evening (after a day of studying for a test).

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday Fun

We had a good Friday - Ethiopian for lunch...

then hanging out at our house so that Jeff could study and Carvey and I could watch Start Trek.

We went to Love Cafe for some yummy cake and coffee.

We watched a few episodes of Beauty and the Geek so Katie could see John's make-over. Then we got ready and headed out for the night.

We had dinner at a trendy Thai food place near my house, called Rice. Then we went to The Black Cat night club for 80's night.
Good times!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Katie and Carvey!

My sister and Matt Carvey are both in town for the weekend. I really love having visitors, and I'm excited to show them around the area. Last night Carvey got in around 6pm and he and Jeff came over to my school to compete in a trivia match at one of our "Thursday Night In" events. It was a lot of fun, and extra nice because they got to meet my friends from school. A few of us went out to "The Sign of the Whale" - a bar on M Street - and watched the Red Sox beat Cleveland. Katie got into Union Station at about 1:30am, and we drove over there and picked her up. We all slept in pretty late today, but pretty soon we're headed out to Ethiopian food for lunch. Time to get ready...

Small World

I had two small world experiences recently, so I think that warrants a blog entry.

First, I went out to dinner with my third cousin*. I had found out that she was in Washington, DC (through facebook), and she lives really close to where I go to school. So she and her boyfriend and Jeff and I went out for 10 cent wings. It was very cool to catch up - I don't know when I last saw her. Actually, a lot of the catching up was sort of reminding each other of who our siblings are and what they're up to. Her boyfriend is a substitute teacher (he actually has a degree in education and wants to be a social studies teacher, but they got to DC just after the school year started, so there aren't any openings). She is working at a interpreter office - she schedules free-lance interpreters to cover events. The sound like they're having a really good time. They haven't seen much of the east coast, so Jeff and I have invited them to come to New York or Boston with us. I think it'd be really fun to go on a mini-road trip with them. I really like the idea of knowing your extended family and staying in touch with people. I've been trying to collect information on my family tree, so we'll see where that goes.

The second small world experience is that two of the students from Vigyan Ashram** (a school in Pabal, India - a village where I stayed two years ago) got gmail addresses, and now they are on gmail chat a lot of the time. India is 9.5 hours different from D.C. - that works out almost perfectly so that when I'm up in the morning checking my email before class, they are online before going to bed. When I get home from classes and am online doing homework, they're just waking up, eating breakfast and chatting online. It's been really fun to be in touch with them. It reminds me of all the really interesting similarities and differences between here and there - and makes me miss India a lot. One day we were chatting about holidays, and they were asking if the Ganesh Festival and Diwali are celebrated here. I told them about Halloween and tried to explain what that holiday is about. Mahesh got in touch with my brother, who works at a computer company, because he's interested in Linux. It's really fun to be in touch with people on the other side of the world and keep up to date on what's going on.

*We have the same great-great grandparents, our great-grandmothers were sisters, our grandmothers were cousins, our mothers second cousins (I think that's what it's called), which makes us third cousins.)

**Vigyan Ashram Website:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Housewarming Party!

Jeff and I had our housewarming party last night - it was really fun! Jeff and I hung out around the apartment during the day, kind of doing work, and then cleaning up and getting ready. People came around 9:30 - it was a good mix of friends for before we moved here and new people we've met in DC.

I was nervous that the studio apartment wouldn't work well for a party, but it turned out really well - there's lots of standing room (and a pretty good amount to couch space, too). Most people who see our apartment actually assume that there is a bedroom attached somewhere, but that they just didn't see it. Jeff and I decorated the studio to look as much like a normal living room as possible.

I took out my camera and took a few pictures before the party started - I meant to get some while people were here, but I completely forgot. Ah well, here's the couple I have: