Saturday, March 31, 2012

YDA Faith and Values Summit

Dear readers, here is another diversion from the main content... with recent events taking hold of my blog again, as I must share with you a wonderful conference I attended last week!

Opening reception at the National Democratic Club
 The YDA Faith and Values Summit (a historic first, incidentally) was remarkably good and productive by my present estimation. As some of you know, I joined the party a couple of years ago for various reasons. One of the things that has sadly come from this has been unfair discrimination from secularists inside the party and from religious people outside the party.

Morning sessions in the auditorium
 Despite the attempts at stereotype, I have been really pleased over the last couple years to have met many people of faith, both people of surprisingly old-fashioned views and completely new ones. With efforts like this weekend, my hope is that attacks against people of faith will be deflected in the future to some extent. I came away confident that there are many people who genuinely care and want to respect each other within the party, even when there are significant disagreements.

Afternoon Sessions on Saturday
30 second participant bios and testimonies, public speaking practice

My belief is that there is a movement within the party not simply to sugarcoat the message (as some in the other party would like to suggest) but to honestly have a conversation about how our faith and values should impact our decisions in public policy. 

To tell you the truth, I had some of the best discussions, debates, and conversations I've had a in a while at this conference! This was also the least judgmental and most sane YD conference I've ever been to, which was really encouraging. I would go as far as to say that if this were a model for how our political groups functioned generally, we'd be a much better country for it. I've made many new friends and good contacts as well as refreshed longstanding friendships and acquaintances in the process. 
Sunday afternoon sessions with lobbying and public information organizations
 After the conference, I went with a new friend, Kate, to visit the Smithsonian... we checked out the exhibit about Jefferson's Monticello and Bible... you should check out these exhibitions!

Thomas Jefferson's Bible

Source books for Jefferson's tome, and an early reprint of the volume

Capitol as seen at night on the National Mall

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shoes, Art, Friendship

Dear readers, I return today with more recent happiness. Today is a day for celebrating shoes, an art gallery trip, and a very stylish friend! :)

Currently the smoking slipper/slipper shoe/albert slipper/etc. is one of the trends of the year (or at least 2011). As such, it has become remarkably easy to find variations on it from many different sources. You may recall last years' review of the Del Toro pair (which are still on my wishlist). However, while I save up for the better shoes, I've found that due to the increased volume, many pairs are much more affordable.

In my case, I was able to find a pair from Topshop in the UK. After guessing at the British and European sizes, I was quite pleased to find out that the shoes actually fit. A couple of things to note: the shoes are real leather (suede)... as opposed to some of the cheaper variants made of synthetic uppers. The soles are a bit flimsy and the support of most standard shoes is not present. However, all in all I really like these. Once I wore them in a bit, they fit very nicely. One of the things I like about them is how open the tops are... I hate the sensation of having my feet suffocate in shoes... these are to the contrary much happier!

Also, the color is extremely striking (I got it to match with my seersucker suit, initially)... I've found it works with everything while not being too crazy. I have been getting many compliments on the shoes, so I think this is a general success. I was thinking about removing the gold trim and replacing it with a tan/brown edging in the general albert slipper style, but I find they work this way just fine at the moment.

Notice the thin profile of the shoes

The heels are very short... almost too short... I may put a pad in the heel to cushion me when standing for long periods of time.

Again, notice the long opening... what is the point of nice socks, if you can't show them off?

Albert slippers are traditionally velvet, which is a no-go for outdoors. I was happy to find these are suede, which looks similar, but is more durable.

Next Up: Random visit to the National Gallery of Art! (A week or two ago.)

I love going to the National Gallery of Art to just walk around, relax, and eat gellato. The art collection isn't terribly huge, nor does it change too dramatically. However, the architecture of the rooms and the general atmosphere is generally happy and enjoyable. How many other neoclassical art galleries exist in such a convenient spot in DC? Also, because probably most people are bored of the gallery, it's usually not too crowded... which enhances the relaxing part of the visit.

Please enjoy a few selections that I particularly enjoyed this time around!

I especially like the dress the girl on the right is wearing... such good taste!

This is a perennial favorite of mine...

Previously, there was a piece of modern art on display that was a slice of bread. It was with amusement that I found a small French painting of butter in nearly the same location this time.

For some reason they are doing repair work on the modern art gallery section... I find it interesting that the building is actually brick, with stone stuck on the front.

Gigantic gellato at the National Gallery of Art... hand for size. (yes, it was delicious)
And now... the outfit that took me to the NGA...
I just love the slim profile this style of shoe gives! :)

The full outfit... (left) and... oh look... now I'm surprised! (right, very silly)

And last... but not least! The surprise visitor!

My friend Shayna from Oklahoma. She gets the award for good taste in style and the perfect smile! :)

This lady is up and coming in political circles, it's a real honor to know her. I should also mention this is what she looked like after a grueling day at a recent political conference (she's so awesome, you can't tell!). I'm impressed with how well she takes all the traveling and manages to consistently look well put together and ready to roll. Every time I've seen her, you could do a magazine spread with her, because she knows her style so well. :D 

Shayna, I enjoyed spending time with you and our conversations about life, politics, fashion... keep up the good work! :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Recent happenings! (aka... February!)

Dear readers... I'm sorry for disappearing so long again! Life has been amazingly busy... I'm going to try and stay on top of this once again!

To give you a glimpse as to what happened in Late January and the month of Febrary... here are a few highlights:

Chinese New Year: Chinatown, Washington DC

My friends and I (plus I made new friends in the process!) went to Chinatown to enjoy the lion and dragon dances and just spend good time together. I love the friends I have and continue to make... everyone has great ideas for activities and broadening our horizons and understanding of current events and world history (this was no exception, one of my friends proposed the excursion, and it worked out wonderfully... excepting my cold feet!). Here is a bit of the scenery!


 The New Year's Wishes of the Consul General of France 

I was pleasantly surprised with a lovely invite to attend the Consul General's New Year's best wishes reception at the French Embassy. I have to say that the staff at the embassy, many of whom are new, appear to be very nice people! I've had good luck working through paperwork with them and can honestly say they are polite and helpful! :) That said, the event itself was lovely and the Consul General made a statement that was very fitting, genuine, and had a proper part of humor. The Consul General is actually new to this embassy and I am quite pleased with what I've seen of him so far.

Here is a quick photo of me with Consul General Alméras.

Latin Dance Lesson:

Yet another ICDC event! I'm still perfecting my latin dance skills, which are somewhat lacking but improving. Excepting the small size of the room, it was a good lesson for most of the basics. I'll probably have to repeat this a couple more times to get it right! Special thanks to my friend Sarah for being very patient and learning with me! :)

Me with Sarah, my dance partner who has been lovely and a good friend

Skiing in Pennsylvania
That's me! 
Doing some sort of a move down the hill... I look really stupid in this shot, but there weren't any better ones!
 This ski trip is an annual (almost) tradition going back to when I was a teenager in youth group. We still go nowadays and get the band back together along with new recruits to spend a weekend skiing and spending time together. Always good memories, even if the hill is rather small!

Ski Sawmill