Monday, July 23, 2007


So this is my new best friend, Samuel Zbogar, the Slovenian Ambassador to the US. We spent some time chilling last week at the Slovenian Embassy in Georgetown. A delegation of the 21st Century Forum of Des Moines was in town meeting with various DC agencies and one trip was to the Embassy. The group is designed to promote Democratic politics in young professional circles around Iowa's capitol. I've been growing a beard lately (see the picture) so I fit right in.
The Ambassador was great, very engaging. I was quite surprised becasue based on the US ambassadors I've met, I figured he would be about 60, grey, and a political appointee. Instead he was a very dynamic guy who as you can see is pretty young and appointed based on, surprising I know, a meritorious system. I got his attention when I asked a question about Kosovo and Russia - and he was very diplomatic about giving no answer whatsoever.

Other happening in DC include losing my cell phone, a DC United Football (soccer) game, lots of softball, and Nationals games 2 and 3.
When I say I lost my cell phone, I can imagine the irresponsible connotations of a young college student this must conjure, but none of them are fitting - I'm sure. I left it on a park bench in Alexandria, VA. What an idiot. But let me just digress a bit and discuss how cell phones have revolutionized social life. I may sound like an idiot complaining here, but just think about it. We are almost always on the move planning on calling later to meet up at a certain place. Theres lots of changing of plans, destinations, all conveyed over cell phones. Plus no one is on time in this generation so amendments to pre-agreed to plans are inevitably required. So, for one who has lived without a cell phone for over a week now, I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'll be ecstatic tomorrow when I finally get reconnected, but should we really place such reliance on being connected to other poeple? That's all I'm saying.

These last two Nationals games have been awesome. Well not really because they still play in RFK stadium which abslutely blows, but becasue the Nats have won in dramatic fashion. Scoring the game winning hit in the 10th was D'Angelo Jiminez who had something like a .079 batting average. The game was a bit depressing for awhile becaue of the rain that sent most of the stadium packing, but I was there until the end. (Just so I don't get sued, photo is from the Wash Post).

Game 3 was also a nail biter, but this time I felt like my own cuticles were in danger. Mark, another intern in Harkin's office scored 6 free tickets and a parking pass that were 8 rows behind the 1st base dugout. Talk about being right on the field. After a pretty good pitching performance and weak hitting by the Rockies (12 runners LOB), Austin Kearns hit a bomb in the bottom of the 8th to close out the game for the Nats 3-0.

In softball news, I'd say both teams are getting better, though Harkin's performance at the States of the Big 12 Annual tournament is not a very telling sign. We were out quick after an 0-2 performance and I'd say the free lunch and booze were serious hurdles for much of our outfield. (Mark screaming "we've got 'em right where we want 'em" as we walked in a run making the score 14-1 perhaps is a good example.) Last Monday we showed the "Hill's Angels" from Clinton's office a thing about taking over Iowa. On Wednesday, the think tank league matchup of the night against a State Department team proved too much for my New America colleagues, but we had some pretty tasty half priced burgers after the game. My gigantic wound is by no means healing and I'm wondering if I'll ever have hair on that part of my leg again. If not, at least its a good story to tell.
Been doing a lot of reserach on Saudi Arabia. I don't think America has ever been more secretive about our relations with an ally than we are with the Kingdom. Feel free to prove me wrong.

And in news that everyone seems to be trying to figure out, Harry dies in the 7th book. Ok not really I don't know and haven't read any reviews, just throwing that out there to scare some folks.

Next week should be a fun one, two softball games, reunions for DC 05 interns and Budapest 07 friends, plus I'm being dragged to Harry Potter #5 the movie and paid to drive to the beach in Delaware (ok that one I can handle). Maybe next weekend I'll get back up to New York and wine and dine with the famous grandma of Sara Greene.
Oh the DC United games was pretty exciting, a 3-3 draw with lots of action. We scalped tickets of course for less than the price and sat about 20 rows back from one goal post. The atmosphere is so much different than a Nationals game. First off, everythink said over the intercom is in English and Spanish. There is so much more electricity in the stadium and the game is much shorter making sure you don't miss anything. My first pro soccer experience was great, hopefully theres more where that came from.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An Epic Wound in the making

So this is a pretty amateur photo taken just a few minutes ago, but i'm sure its going to develop into an epic wound. I say this because I'm going to play a lot of softball and probably not slow down.

I made the worst of the wound on Friday during our softball victory over the DCI thinktank. Let's just say I rounded first a bit too far on a gravel field and bit the dust. And no I didn't come out of the game - i had to cover up the blood well enough so no one would say anything.

Then today in a game on the national mall, I was not going to make the 1st out at third in my quest for a triple - the sacrifice: reopening the wound.

And with a game tomorrow and a tournament on Saturday - I'm guessing there's no rest in site. So like I say an epic wound. Below is a photo of the original wound.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cage of Death

When I say I work in a cage - I actually mean it. Compare this to the picture below of my New America office.

Monday, July 9, 2007

What a week

I've had a pretty unbeatable week of events. I think the starting point was last Friday with the game in Baltimore and only got better. Monday - Nationals vs Cubs, Tuesday - BBQ feast with view of downtown DC, Wednesday - fireworks on the National Mall, Friday - Yankees vs Angels at Yankee Stadium & VIP tour of Statue of Liberty, Saturday - Coney Island and Live Earth Concert, Sunday - swimming in Maclean.

O let's just get this out there - I love baseball and road trips, so its natural to say I'd be up for anything. When my friend on Thursday was like, hey we're going to new york tomorrow - you should come, i was like why not. But i'm getting ahead of myself - Fireworks in DC.

Boston and New York might be the only other places equal to DC for the 4th of July. I'm sad to say that this was my second time ever not being in Okoboji, though happy this time its for DC and not Yale, Iowa (pop. 287). Oddly enough, Alex, the friend who was gonig to New York had been to Yale, Iowa for the 4th of July and knew Tim Sheaf a good friend in the debate world.

Anyway, when I think of 4th of July, I think of bbqs. Well indeed thats what most of the day consisted of. First at Renee's, then Courtney and I ventured to various work bbqs before shots of Hungarian palinka and then fireworks on the mall. They are really special not because of the quality, but because the Capitol and Wash. Monument in the background, standing next to Lincoln and Vietnam, and capping a whole day of bbqing. Not bad.

I forgot to say that Monday was spent watching the Cubs destroy the Nats at RFK. How come the stadiums I live in close proximity to always suck. The Metrodome and RFK have to be two of baseball's worst stadiums (after Montreal disappeared). Still I was happy to see the Cubs win - who as of today are only 4 games out of the wildcard.

Its ok though, Friday night I got up to Yankee Stadium which is like the Vatican for Protestants. Sure you can admire how great and awesome it is, but it still has a lot of baggage that goes with it. Plus I sat in the bleachers with two New York fans making it espcially depressing. I got to see those famous lights for a very long 14-9 game. I forgot my camera all day Friday so no pictures.

Also, I love driving in NYC. Basically you are restricted by traffic and stoplights, not by speed limits so its pretty exhilirating. Its much better than driving in DC. In DC I get frustrated becasue there are cars everywhere, but in NY its just buildings and people which are less antagonistic.

Friday night, Sara (friend from Budapest) and I trekked all the way out to Brooklyn and got about 3 hrs of sleep before a 7 am view of Coney Island. Odd feeling for a board walk that early, but surprisingly lots of people were out. After a couple of hours on the beach, it was off to the greatest concert ever. 10 hrs of music with headliners like Dave Matthews, the Police, Bon Jovi, Akon, Kanye West, Ludacris, John Mayer, etc played at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. It was pretty unreal and we had an amazing time. Charles - the guy that got the VIP passes and tickets is in the picture. On stage is my good friend Alicia Keys. We were pretty exhausted by the concert on Saturday so chose to just stay in for the night. Only took about 4 hrs to drive back to DC on Sunday and I was home for about 20 minutes and couldn't stand the heat. My good friend from school Amelia invited me over for a swim - and 4 hrs later i drug myself out of the water.
Great week - should have some more stuff about what I'm doing at work and the upcoming DC United game - I've never been to a soccer game - still dont' think it will compare to European soccer.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Three quick thoughts

Where have all the men gone?

I was doing some research yesterday, and I came across the fact that the Northern Mariana Islands (a US territory) have the highest female to male ratio of anywhere in the world. There are 100 women for every 77 men, and for some incredible reason tourism is declining in the region. Guess it's high time i flew to the Pacific.

Dissemination of Information

Here at the think tank, we've created a blog that should be up and running in the next few weeks. Althuogh its exciting that I'll have another forum for my thoughs, one being more academic, I'm also kind of displeased with the thought of yet another blog. This goes to an idea my friend Katie wrote about awhile ago - yes on her blog. A friend from Budapest, who maintains her blog from Prague now, explains that there are way too many blogs out there people should voluntarily remove their own blogs.

I like this idea, because its true, there are too many blogs - even professional bloggers that do nothing but write posts all day. It seems to me there are so many blogs out there, there are more people writing and less people getting all the info. Its great there is such a variety of info available, but with all of it available, there has to be a corresponding trade-off, I'm just not sure what that is yet. And yet here i sit writing a blog post so...

Iowa in the news.

Ottumwa, Iowa has recently been in the news because of the new iphone. Steve Jobs used Ottumwa as an example of why he had to pick AT&T for the iphone network. Only two companies had wirless internet networks that could reach this part of the state - so he had to choose.

Iowa always pops up in the news as that other place. I was reading another article awhile back and Iowa was the home of Joe six-pack for some study. Also back at Middlebury last year, a professor arguing about foriegn policy and how complicated it was, used for example that a person in Iowa wouldn't understand the nuances of foreign policy. As a very ardent supporter of Iowa, this is all quite discomforting. We're not really known for anything excpet attracting the leading presidential candidates. These guys know much more about Iowa than any natural politician should. American politics is a circus, but thats not the point.

I guess its good we get in the news for something, but we really have to work on our reputation so we're not always - that other state.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Fun with Renee

My cousin Renee is out here for the summer interning at a hospital in the district, so we've been hanging out a bit. I have to recount two of our adventures. First was an epic bike ride, second was one of my favorite pastimes - Major League Baseball.

Last Thursday, Edwin and Rosalie graciously invited Renee to dinner. Renee is living in an apartment and probably doesn't get all the home cooked meals like I do. So we agreed to meet up at the capitol at 5:30 for the ice cream social and then head out to Virginia for dinner. Well Renee decides we should both ride the whole 10 miles on ONE bike. Mind you this is not flat, and there is a thunderstorm brewing. So after we're riding for precisely three minutes, Zeus releases his full arsenal of rain. It just poured and poured for about 10 minutes. Rather than seek shelter, we powered through.

Needless to say we received just a couple of funny looks from drivers. At this time, there were no pedestrians to be seen - thats how hard it was raining. Well about 3/4 of the way home I get a call from my grandpa in Iowa. We're late for dinner and he's the messenger. Trouble is, I can't call Edwin and Rosalie back because Verizon messed up their phone system and they couldn't receive calls. Well after about an hour and half (ride usually takes between 45 min and 1 hr) Renee and I finally struggle in soaking wet. Our hosts were as happy as could be and made us some delicious pork chops and veggies. I think I will discourage Renee from riding that far on one bike ever again.

Our second adventure was up to an Orioles game in Baltimore. Naturally I love baseball, but I've never really described what I've nicknamed "the little boy feeling." You all have had it at some time or another, but maybe you just haven't given it a name. It happens at different times for different people. For me, it happens when I enter a baseball stadium - every time.

Let me try to describe it. When you're a little kid from rural Iowa, going to a baseball game is a big deal. So you walk into that stadium and see all the lights, the flashing neon signs, all the people, the green, green grass, players with names like Puckett, Ripken, Sandberg, something inside you just makes you really excited. Sure you might call it butterflies, but its something more. Its experiencing something that is very rare and something you've done in your head a thousand times. I had it when I stepped onto the Rialto in Venice, and when I entered Times Square for the first time. It no longer comes for games in the metrodome, but I definitely felt it upon entering Camden Yards. Call it corny or what you will, but I am comforted every time it happens - I haven't grown up yet.

Surprisingly we actually got to see a really good game. Orioles first basemen Aubrey Huff hit for the cyle, something that only hapens once every 800 games - about the same odds as seeing a no-hitter. I've seen two cycles but never a no-no. The angels looked good early, taking a 5-0 lead, but then let the Orioles back in who when it swung in their favor 7-5. The Angels rallied back with a 2-run homer in the top of the 9th to take the final lead of 9-7. Great day for baseball.

Renee and I also got to venture on American public transportation - train up and bus back. It was weird randomly talking to passengers, something I never did in Hungary (that whole language barrier), but I did miss Hungarian prices ($7 for the train and $10 for the bus). I think it would have cost $2 round-trip in Hungary. Oh yeah, they were giving out those sweet orange hats during the game...