Category Archives: Junior Year – I’m Getting Old

A Rundown of the Weekend

In homage to Cornell alum, Keith Olbermann and his show Countdown (MSNBC 8pm) here is the rundown of my weekend news.

3. To start it off lightly and with no relation to Cornell (except that alum Calvin Boothe is on the Giants practice squad), the Giants, with their 31-10 trouncing of the Falcons became only the 3rd team in the NFL (Packers and Bears) to reach 600 wins. Amani Toomer broke one Giants record (all-time Giants receptions leader) and tied another (all-time Giants TD leader).

2. I enjoyed another privileged weekend (major exception being an assignment for our semester long paper) wandering the floors of the National Gallery of Art listening to Eric Denker explain the paintings from the Italian Renaissance, which included the only DaVinci in North America…pretty cool and very informative.

1. Most importantly, a group of us Cornellians in Washington went to give moral support to some of our classmates who are participating in the Solar Decathlon, a competition held once every year requiring colleges to create a house that can be run completely by solar power. Cornell placed 3rd two years ago, and is gunning for first this year. According to those that built the house, the characteristic that sets their’s apart from the competition is the removable scaffolding they placed over the front porch. The scaffolding makes the house more versatile. For instance, if more solar pannels are needed, they can be placed on top of the scaffolding. The scaffolding elevates the already existing solar panels, so if some of them need cleaning, water won’t seep through the roof. Green screens (plants that hang from walls and absorb sunlightto regulate the temperature inside the house as well as filter air) can be attached to the scaffolding. And finally, these really cool pipes that efficiently heat water can be hung from the scaffolding to free up room around other parts of the house. In this case, the freed up space was used to plant genuine Ithaca hops (quite the hit with the DC crowd…and Cornell alums). The Cornell house didn’t look sleek and modern like some of the other colleges competing, but it did look functional and simple. Hail all hail Cornell!!

It’s been [I’ve lost count of how many] days since the declaration of mission accomplished. Good night and good luck.

There’s a Top Chef in DC

At Cornell I had the luxury of eating lunch and dinner at any one of 20+ dining halls and food courts. I could go when I’d want and where I’d want. I could ask for food ranging from sushi to spaghetti to French dip and once in a blue moon some sirloin steak would be thrown in. The food would be prepared for me, I’d eat it, and then I’d bring my tray, plates, silverware, etc. to the conveyor belt that goes to the kitchen where everything is cleaned for me. Forget all of that here in DC unless I want to go out and eat every day and night. Instead I’ve become quite the cook (and dish washer) using the knowledge I’ve learned from the 20 years of living at home, the two seasons of Top Chef I’ve watched, and the countless Alton Brown “Good Eats” shows I’ve watched on the Food Network.

Tonight, all of that knowledge culminated into the best dish I’ve cooked since I came to DC. It was so good I had to talk about it on this blog. I’ll warn you right now, the description won’t be anything you’ll find at a 3 star restaurant, but it was nonetheless amazingly delicious to eat – some carefully cut tenderized beef round sauteed on olive oil and garlic and braised with a combination of lemon juice, Chicago steak spice, soy sauce, and sugar, placed on top of jasmine rice, and served with a side of romaine lettuce salad with carrots, croutons, and balsamic vinaigrette. Man was it good. I don’t even know if I used the cooking terms correctly, but I do know that I am Top Chef Season 4 material. Jenna, you should tell the Hotel School that there’s a cooking prodigy at Cornell.

Missing the Line

Matt’s blog enlightened me to the fact that I missed doing my time in the line for season hockey tickets. At least now I won’t have an opportunity to have them revoked for cursing like last year. I guess that’s one of the downsides of studying “abroad” during the fall semester, that and not seeing Stephen Colbert. Forget that the Dalai Lama is coming, I’m missing Stephen Colbert!

Though you can sense my extreme disappointment about this Colbert mishap seeing that I’ve mentioned this twice in previous blogs, don’t get the impression that studying away from Cornell isn’t fun or an enlightening experience; I’m in DC and I enjoy the experience that I am obtaining from my internship as well as the infinite activities around the city. Now imagine, for those that want to venture further from Ithaca, what places like Tibet, Australia, sub-Saharan Africa, Italy, Greece, (as an ode to my sophomore year roommate) Barbados, etc. will have in store. Traveling abroad is something to think about once in college, or even beforehand, and what makes Cornell great is that the programs they offer span the spectrum of studying abroad but not leaving the state (Capital semester- aka Albany and Urban semester- aka NY City) to leaving the state but not the country (Cornell in Washington) to traversing the globe (pretty much pick a place and you can go there…seriously, as long as there is some sort of educational opportunity: classes, research, peace corps style community service, etc.). Or if studying abroad isn’t for you, you can enjoy Cornell in Ithaca and the experience that comes with it: sacrificing a weekend to prove yourself worthy of hockey tickets, listening to the Dalai Lama, or laughing at Stephen Colbert.

Republican PBS Debate

I was going to explain the trouncing Cornell put on Georgetown at Georgetown’s own homecoming football game and all the plays that resulted in a 45-7 Cornell win this past Saturday, but saw that I had talked about the Giants’ spectacular performance against Washington (don’t get that confused with the even more stellar performance last night against the Eagles) in my last post and therefore decided to refrain from meandering into football once again. Rather, something more important needs to be mentioned.

This past Saturday PBS viewers would have witnessed a rather empty auditorium at Morgan State University thanks to “scheduling conflicts” that prevented the four top Republican candidates from attending a nationally televised debate. I’m sure Morgan State University being a historically black college and the audience being mostly black-American and the debate coming during the Jenna 6 protests had nothing to do whatsoever with the absence of Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Fred Thompson. Could there be a bigger slap in the face than having the four front runners for a presidential primary say I have something more important to attend to.

Lester Holt was Wrong!

And I predicted it! And, to top it off, I was there in person to see just how wrong he was. Lester Holt, as mentioned in my previous blog, had said that the Washington Redskins would be 3-0 after this past weekend because they were playing the Giants. Turned out his statement was just an act of hubris.

The game, which I witnessed, along with a friend, from the upper tier, row 15, in the corner of the east endzone (the one the Redskins failed to score in on the last play of the 4th quarter) on the Giants’ side, was all but over at half time (17-3 Redskins). I not only felt like I should never have doubted Holt’s ability to predict the outcome of this game, but felt like I should never have worn a Giants hat and shirt to spare me from the endless taunting coming from the row behind me. But my prospects changed with the opening kickoff of the second half, which the Giants marched back for a touchdown. Another Giants touchdown followed in their next drive. And it looked so good after the Redskins fumbled in the 4th quarter, I stood up and cheered. The guy behind me said sit down, I didn’t, the same guy tossed beer on my shirt, I turned around, and, as I had done so often at the Cornell hockey games, simply said scoreboard (the score was 17-17 but the Giants were on their way to scoring the winning touchdown and he knew it, everyone did).

The goal line stand by the Giants defense with 14 seconds left in the game felt like I had just entered heaven and to add to my pleasure I turned around to the “beer” person behind me and said you should probably walk towards the exit. If I hadn’t taken the metro (and had slightly more spunk), I would’ve dangled my keys in his face. Nonetheless, the feeling of being one of a few exuberant fans at FedEx Field surrounded by 89,000 miserable ones made this past Sunday one to remember, and to be stored for the occasional Sunday in the future when I won’t want to brag about being a Giants fan.

Meeting some Big Wigs

This week has been pretty eventful and that’s not including the schools of thought paper I have to write by Monday and the Giants-Redskins game I’m going to on Sunday. On Wednesday night, the Partnership for Public Service (the place where I intern) put on a black-tie gala that awards the nation’s top public servants. Those who were invited to attend received a free dinner, which retails at $100 per plate. Unfortunately, I was working with the legislative affairs staff the whole night so I only got to eat the really delicious apple pie a la mode served for dessert. Nonetheless, I met some high standing people like Representative Chris Van Hollen from Maryland’s 8th district, Senator Salazar from Colorado, Lester Holt (anchor of NBC Nightly News Weekend Edition), who said the Redskins would be 3-0 after this weekend because they were playing the Giants (he is officially dead to me), and Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii who is like a really nice grandfather. I introduced myself to him and said aloha and he loved it, patting me on the arm asking what I did with the Partnership and saying he wishes companies had fellows/interns back when he was growing up. He said he had to leave early because he wanted to go to bed by 9. How funny is that? Lastly, I met Eric Szmanda and Carol Mendholson from CSI (my favorite show). Eric is CSI Greg Sanders in the show. His character was recently promoted from lab tech to CSI. Carol is the executive producer and one of the writers for all the CSI franchises and is a Cornell grad, which of course required me to mention to her I am going to Cornell. From there we had a nice five minute conversation about her experiences at Cornell like how she lived on North Campus went to the College of Arts and Sciences and lived in Collegetown for a year and had a bath tub on her front lawn. The evening was great, enjoyable, quite an experience, and rewarding in that I also got to hear the stories of all the award winners and the great achievements they accomplished. For example, the two doctors who discovered preventive medicine for HPV were there to accept their awards.

And it didn’t end there, as the next day the Partnership brought me on a tour of the East Wing of the White House. I was able to see the State Dining Room (which isn’t that big), the red, green, and blue rooms, and the library. In general, the White House is beautiful, but not as big as people expect it to be. To finish off the tour and the great experiences I was able to be a part of over the past day-and-a-half, I walked down the front steps of the White House (the ones you see from Pennsylvania Avenue), down the driveway to the East Gate where I exited the best public housing facility in the nation and proceeded to go to the Metro so as to get to class on time.

National Gallery of Art via Anti-War Protest

Today was the first of five art tours given to Cornell students in Washington by the art historian at the National Gallery of Art and Cornell professor, Eric Denker. The tour lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes and covered five paintings, but changed the way the 20+ people that went will ever look at an artist’s work again. We didn’t go over the typical study of lines, colors, and positionings (that’ll be dedicated for the four other tours with Mr. Denker) but rather the little details that get passed over by the casual art observer, and what the artist means when he/she paints certain images, animals, or clothes. For instance, with “Masked Ball at the Opera” by Manet we compared the painting to the title, found Manet in his painting, the ticket that he dropped, the political statement that the jester made, and through this learned about some of his impressionist principles but deciphered why he wasn’t an impressionist artist. That was an example with one painting and similar practices went on with others from the Renaissance, Reformation, and Dutch periods. It was extremely enjoyable (the Gallery was beautiful) minus the ketchup stain on my shorts thanks to the Polish sausage I ate. I will be sure to go on the following four tours sans the food on my clothes.

Kickoff Weekend

I write this post out of sheer loyalty despite the fact that the season for the Giants looks ruined from the outset though there’s always hope. I shall however stray away from what happened this past weekend as there is no need to dwell on it and focus on what the Giants did the week before this past one, sign offensive lineman Kevin Boothe. Boothe was cut by the Raiders this year after being drafted by them in the ‘06 NFL Draft in the sixth round. The Giants promptly picked him up for the obvious reasons that he graduated from Cornell and know he is intelligent. Now Boothe will attempt (or try not to) to follow previous Cornell grad turned NFL’er Seth Payne (no relation) who was drafted by the Texans but now plays for the Jaguars and has enjoyed a 10 year career, seven of which have been as an unknown backup. And if Boothe reads this let me just tell him, as long as you play for the Giants you won’t be an unknown NFL player in my book.

The Most Powerful House of the Most Powerful Branch in the Government

Yesterday marked only my second class of History of the Senate taught by Dr. Betty Koed and I know it will be one of my favorite classes at Cornell. Out of Dr. Koed’s mouth spews loads of information that I wish I could absorb all of it but am relegated to the fact that unlike Webster, Clay, and Calhoun (The Great Triumvirate as we learned) I am a mere mortal. Nonetheless, I try my mortal best to obtain as much knowledge as possible, which is how I came to the conclusion, with the help of Betty of course, that the Senate is the most powerful part of our government though throughout history their influence waxes and wanes (somewhat obvious but it’s the second day). Aside from the actual class Betty is like your friend’s mom who is so nice she always serves you dinner whenever you come over (Cesar this is you–you’re the friend). Not only did we get chocolate before class because she knew we’d be tired after a long day at work but she took the effort to know our names by heart (second day of class mind you), know our research paper topic (which is for a separate class), where we’re working, our major, where we’re from, and what year we are. She wrote all this down on three pages of paper. This wasn’t a casual ice breaker conversation. Afterwards, she proceeded to tell us if she comes across any information that might help us with our paper she would lend it to us and knowing how stressed we were, she announced two of our four readings would be for skimming purposes only. How thoughtful is that!? She reminds me of that favorite high school teacher and/or counselor who wanted nothing more than for you to get into your top choice college.

A Baseball Game at RFK

Friday night in Washington, DC – What did I do? Being the sports fan that I am, I decided to complete the 4th installment of the 32 part series, “Better Know a Ballpark” in which I visit all 32 baseball stadiums sometime during my life just like Stephen Colbert interviews all 400+ Congressmen/women in the United States (Why can’t he come in the spring????!!!!). Anyway, off to the ovular RFK, whose wooden seats in the upper tier of the upper deck surprisingly cost $14, to watch the last place Nationals compete against the last place Giants sans Barry Bonds. 10 or so other CIW friends tagged along and enjoyed an interesting game (a 3-2 win for the Giants) considering two last place teams were playing each other. Considering two last place teams were playing each other there was plenty of quality bonding time amongst those of us who went including taking photos with the Nationals mascot, watching famous presidents race around the ballpark (think Milwaukee sausages, just presidents instead), and trying to guess which face down card was the black Ace of Diamonds (???????? I didn’t get it either, since when was the Ace of Diamonds black…maybe that’s why the Nats are in last). All in all, it was a good night capped off with the realization that the deadline for my first assignment in regards to my semester long paper is due in 5 days.