Monday, October 31, 2011

A Journey Like No Other...

Just got back from London, then Brussels, then London, in the span of five days and with work, I always feel five steps behind.  Flights are late, internet connections don't work, phones don't work, projects are due in multiple time zones...Sometimes in the cattle call of traveling today, it's easy to forget that traveling was once very glamorous. 

And still can be...I have a lot of back posts to put up this week, but thought I would start out with this little video from Orient Express.  This is the trailer but there is a whole collection of them showcasing little episodes in their key properties.  All of the things I love about travel are here - new places, meeting friends, champagne glasses clinking, fireworks, surprises, approaches by boat, dressing for dinner, welcome notes in the room, scenery whizzing by on the train.  Even though I just got back exhausted, it makes me want to go on another trip! This time, no work!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Object of my affection: CWD Textiles...



Do you ever wonder how designer seem to have this uncanny ability to match but not match pillows that look like they were casually strewn about but were probably handpicked and placed just ever so slightly askance? I do.  And if left to my own devices, I feel like I'm okay picking out things like pillows - I can get the first 80% but it's that last 20% that seems to take me forever.  And I'll hem and haw and then maybe finish the whole project six months later.  Not that I do a lot of pillow projects, but since we move every two years, I'm seemingly re-sprucing about that often, and when you move every two years, and you consider paking up and packing out, six months is just too long.

So here's a seemingly easy pillow recipe, Caitlyn Wilson, who runs her own blog and interior design service, has done all the picking and matching for you so that they're not completely matched but complimented in colorways.  Note, these colors aren't for the sultry dens or for the tragically hip modernist.  These are fun, they're colorful, they're full of pattern, they're preppy. 

I spy a set for diplo-baby's new room at our new post.








All photos from CWD Textiles.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oysters and Pearls...

The options for dining in our neighborhood are really getting good, and the newest kid on the block didn't disappoint. Pearl Dive, done by the owners of BlackSalt (which is no slacker of a restaurant) opened about a month ago and we finally made it last week. Kumamoto oysters, mmmmm. Love.

In addition to raw, they also have oysters done up in all sorts of ways as appetizers - we tried the Tchoupitoulas (cue stroll down memory lane of my intern days in New Orleans) - very good, but personally, i prefer them raw with mignonette.

Redfish - who knew that was a fish but it is and it's good. Even though I'm of the school that you should eat seafood in a seafood restaurant, there was something intriguing about that hangar steak, and the gentlemen of the table went for it. And it's good. And then we had pumpkin streusel pie and key lime pie - I thought the ice cream accompaniment (supposed to be salted caramel though you couldn't tell until the end since flavor was very light) could have been a bit punchier. But both pies were really good.

Final verdict: it's good. It's very good. Join the crowds waiting on Saturday nights and go. Or do like we did and go on Sunday - little wait and nice cocktails to be had in the bar upstairs that looks like it's made of set castoffs from Like Water for Chocolate or some other vintage circus biopic so it's a festive way to start. And it's good too.

Pearl Dive by iphone:





Friday, October 21, 2011

Object of My Affection Revisited: A brief History of the Beauty Pump...

It's the shoe that just keeps coming back! Remember the lovely Louis Vuitton Beauty Pump from this post?




And then it's Kate Spade spin off, the Leena, featured here?


Well, now it's at J.Crew as the Viv - on the website it's only in leather and one print but noticed in the new catalog that arrived in my mailbox that it will come in a variety of satin colors, probably just in time to be festive for the holidays.  I like prefer the thicker heel on the first two editions, but what can I say, I fall for bows every time.






And it comes in a flat too:



All of this reminds me of the scene from Devil Wears Prada when Meryl Streep explains why the importance of cerulean, I could only find the video in Italian. That's all.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Corporate Lingo Bingo...


September and October are nearly always the busiest times of year at work for me - it's seemingly when all worlds collide.  There is the year to close out, revenue goals to be met, big presentation projects that are due, client visits to make, projects to concoct and strategies for the following year to write - and it all seems to hit at the same time.  Consequently, I've been finding myself sitting at a whole lot of meetings.  It's always around this time of year that I take note of some of the strange lingo that pops up around these conversations - I've been long enough at my firm where I'm no longer which ones generally apply to the private sector, to the consulting sector, or possibly just to my firm, which is known for a vocabulary all it's own.

In the past week, I've been keeping note of some of my favorite quirky expressions that you resist at first, and then somehow end up using, usually in your own life whereby then you yourself end up looking like the nut.  Here's a glossary to my day job:

1. "Pull-up" - meeting to discuss the state of affairs, as in "let's pull up about this later this week" or "did you get a chance to pull up with him already?"

2. "Play in this space" - is this a good fit for us or the right opportunity for us, as in "I don't think we should be playing in this space, there are so many competitors".

3. "Lean in" - help out, usually in the context of needing some kind of above and beyond effort.  Also, sometimes a euphemism for stay late/work weekends. As in "in this uncertain economy, we're all going to have to lean in to get the results we need."

4. "Hold hands"- get coordinated and agreed in a smaller group before you move on to the next layer - as in, "let's pull up and make sure we're holding hands around this initiative before Tuesday's board meeting."

5. "Pour bodies"  - add people to something, as in "we're really going to have to pour some bodies on this if we're going to play in this space".

6. "Offset through elbow grease" - sometimes a synonym to lean in, euphemism for staying late or doing more work due to a shortage elsewhere, as in "Our IT team is booked and two people are on leave so we're just going to have to offset that through elbow grease to get this up by Tuesday."

7.  "Table" - some type of group or team that is sitting around a table, as in "We know that this is going to require more input before we pour bodies on it so this won't be for this table to decide."

8. "Kit it up" - put it together in a package that can be sold, communicated, etc, as in, "We're going to need a brochure and an FAQ in addition to what we already have, let's go ahead and kit it up".

9. "Listening tour" - going around to get different people's inputs, as in "I learned that we have a real problem with supply through multiple people on the listening tour."

10. "Do the disney" - create  offshoot products, i.e. when Disney releases a movie, there is the movie, the sequel, the toys, the t-shirts, the licensing, etc - "People really loved that product, if we did the disney around it, what could we create?"

11. "Put on your ______ hat" - think differently from how you normally have to, as in "Well this solution would be the best for my team but if I put on my firm hat for a moment, we should probably do it the other way."

12.  "Turn the dial" - get something moving, get it to a result faster, as in "If we kit this up appropriately, we could really turn the dial on some results before the end of the year."

13. "Tiger team" - honestly, I haven't figured this one out fully since I've heard people use it in different contexts and I'm not sure they are all correct, but it sounds effective.  From what I can tell is that it means put a small, lean but effective group of people on something to either get results or diagnose a problem.  As in, "Jack, Jill, and Pail are leaning in to head up the tiger team for the expansion initiative."

14. "Critical path" - basically, is this most important for whatever constraints you have? This one cracks up diplo-husband so much that we've started using this one at home and just abbreviated it to "CP" - as in, "It's really not critical path that we stop by JCrew on our way home."

15. Dropping the subject - this is not a phrase but more of a speaking style.  I've noticed for years that people have been dropping subjects from their conversations and voicemails, as in "Hi Bob, ABC calling from XYZ.  Calling to chat with you about turning the dial on 123 projects.  Was hoping that we could pull up and hold hands before heading to the tiger team table to talk about how we can put on the reseach hat and play in this space.  Will shoot you an email before kitting up the presentation, since that's critical path for us before pouring any more bodies on it.  Chat soon."


Photo via Panel Install.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Notes from the Field: Swingin' Shanghai, Part II



Welcome back to Part II of Notes from the Field, Shanghai edition! Below is the remaining portion of the interview - don't miss Part I here.  What do you think, are your bags packed?

Photograph by Fritz Hoffman via National Geographic.

****************************************************************************

When did you realize you were far from home?
About the only thing that I could not procure in China were quality, normal, Q-Tips… the local ones are quite flimsy, and can be quite sharp.  Yes, this is odd, but so odd that it is about the only memorable that made me realize how far I was from home.  Of course, there are social differences between Americans and Mainland Chinese, but these are not enormous gaps.  I never really felt far from home, as the country can be quite comfortable if you can adapt to the differences. 

What’s the most important thing about re-creating your home at post?
I’m an easy move… it doesn’t take much.  I’m happy with very little, so I don’t feel the need to create home.  I like the ultimate flexibility in moving “light.”  I’m very urban oriented, so creating “home” is finding the local places in which I am comfortable and enjoy being at.  Of course, a good coffee shop is a must, along with a nice, clean place for quick, cheap eating is also a dire necessity.  I had that all in Shanghai, so I was in want of nothing.  In fact, in my apartment building, about the only request I made in 3 years was for the building management to put more shelves in a closet so I would have a suitable space for my shoes… such shelves were custom installed and painted to match the closet within 30 minutes of my request. 

Three things you can’t live without at post?
A good bed on which to rest my weary head, omnipresent elements of potential chaos that give vibrancy and life to a place, and of course, access to a good cup of coffee.

One thing you thought you couldn’t live without but have had to?
Easy access to internet/media.  Yes, the internet is all over China, and it is accessible everywhere, rather cheaply.  However, being China, both are heavily filtered, and many “international” sites are blocked.  As for the internet, you can easily (and cheaply) set up a VPN for home access, and you find ways around it.  International media is somewhat accessible, but it is often delayed in hitting the stands or the airwaves.  Luckily, for those expats living in “international” housing situations, the television media is quite normal.  Not the same for your mainland Chinese colleagues, but in most cases, they are so accustomed to the situation, it’s not an issue for them (and they, more than anyone, know ways around everything!).

What’s your daily uniform?
Shanghai is a fairly sweaty place, it can be hot, and it can be cool.  I usually compared the weather to that of Richmond, VA, with a bit more humidity.  As for the daily uniform, well, business casual is all the rage, but men’s suits are acceptable everywhere.  As for the ladies, normal business attire, whatever is comfortable for the climate.  Yes, Shanghai people are also known for wearing pajamas all the time, even when doing their shopping.  But the pajamas are always very clean and fresh looking… so there is a bar of respectability. 

You’re having guests over on Saturday night, what’s on the menu?
Whatever is desired by my guests, I’d make it happen.  Shanghai is a “reservation” city, people still make reservations for all restaurants.  From local fare to the heights of international cuisine, it is all available, in price ranges from ultra-cheap to highly extravagant.  Best of all, with just a call, it is perfectly acceptable for it to be delivered and/or served in your own home, from start to finish (including cleanup) for just a little more… Yes, this is normal in Shanghai.

Dream post for next assignment? Why?
Well, I recognize I’m a bit different.  I don’t have dependents, and currently without a significant other, so I tend to be drawn to the more exciting of destinations.  I like to describe my preferences as “leaning most towards cities with bling,” most likely in fast-developing/recently developed countries.  I am obviously fascinated with Asia, and love it all.  I expect my career path to take a route more akin to the Shanghai, Mumbai, Rio De Janeiro routes….

One thing you wished someone had told you before arriving?
Our diplomatic presence in China is growing in leaps and bounds, and oddly, because in the past, it was not seen as a great place to be posted.  Consequently, there weren’t many colleagues out there that could tell me much about it.  In the end, people are pretty decisive by the end of their tour, either they loved it, or they despised it (and never plan on going back).  I am the former, I look forward to returning someday, as it was a fascinating experience at a fascinating time, and that will continue for the next many many years to come.  Things have changed now, as evidenced by the sheer numbers of U.S. diplomats looking to get their foot in the China door (look at the bidding numbers if you can, but be careful, most jobs are taken before they are even open for bidding by linked bidders coming from AIP posts.  China is a lifetime career investment… learning Chinese language was easier than I had anticipated, but it needs dedicated and motivated investment in time and energy to develop.  China is now a fantastic place for families, singles, LGBT, and visitors.  Excellent housing options, plenty of things to do, an interesting (if contrived, on some levels) culture, and a general feeling of optimism from Chinese people about their future, the future of China, and their role in the world.  Yes, China has problems, and it certainly brings up endless amounts of international concern.  I am certainly not an apologist for their behaviors, but after this experience I can understand the challenges involved and am able to understand why it is the way it is.  With the younger post-Mao generation just starting to assume higher leadership roles in an elementally traditional Confucian-based society, the international openness China has had in the past 20 years, which will continue forever, will have a huge impact on its relationship (and behavior) in the world stage.  I was lucky enough to be in a diplomatic position to directly increase that openness, which we did on record levels (which have now been surpassed).  The best part is, with the unprecedented rate of change and growth, anyone can see the impact this change has had, and the impact it will bring in the future for the people of Mainland China.  I guess I wish someone had told me to abandon any old image/thought from China’s recent past (which, as a voracious news junkie, are images etched in my head).  It is not/not the Mainland China that most Americans seem to think it is, as it is completely new and evolving (usually for the better) by the year, month, day, and minute. 

Parting thoughts?
Imagine 1.3 billion people, their lives improving exponentially over each generation, where competition (social, economic, and political) is EVERYWHERE, and is in every element of your life.  The only way to get ahead is to be better, faster, and willing to lose it all in the game of getting ahead.  This is the modern Mainland China.  Imagine if you were a Chinese teenager who wanted to go to university.  You have 1 chance, to take 1 test, for 1 major of study, for 1 school to make or break your future.  And even then, those series of 1 chances have tens of thousands of other competitors… can you deal with that kind of competition?  In the end, the smart and future-thinking international diplomat will have to deal with similar competition just to get a posting in “The China” (as my mother calls it).  If you are interested, I highly suggest you immediately jump in and learn how to swim in the Chinese language and culture pool.  You’d be surprised how learning these new strokes will matter in the course of any foreign service career.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Notes from the Field: Swingin' Shanghai, Part I



It's Notes from the Field time again and today we're going to feature Part One of on-the-ground reporting from quite possibly the world's most fascinating city.  See below for an adventure-seeking diplomat's view of Shanghai, China - don't foget to check back tomorrow for Part Two!

Photo by David Butow via National Geographic.

***************************************************************************
Diplo-mat or Diplo-spouse?
Diplo-mat, single guy who likes guys like me J

Current Post:
Shanghai, China (A growing city imbibed with a certain “Jerseyness”)

Three words to describe your current post:
Recovering faded decadence!

Best thing about your current post:
The pace of change is unbelievable!  The people of China, and its growing number of international visitors, are living in an incredible era of the economic and investment growth in China… especially evident in my city, Shanghai! For the easiest way to understand it all, think of (dour) Beijing as Washington (Oh, so similar!), and think of Shanghai as New York City… with all the bling, flash, and vivacity one expects.  I was once asked about which books I would recommend about Shanghai, and I could only respond “none,” because any book about Shanghai is out of date before it is even published. In the three years I have been here, I watched the subway system be built to one, if not the, the world’s largest.  Traveling anywhere in China is always interesting, and oddly, inflates animal survival instincts.  In many places, it is first come first served, and every public interaction can feel like a football scrum.  While certainly not genteel, the whole experience does have its charms…which grow on you even more as you grow accustomed.   

You have visitors in town for the weekend at current post, what does the weekend look like?
Outside of Disney-esque “Old China” concoctions developed to lure day tourists, Shanghai is not a place filled with your typical tourist attractions.  It is however, pulsing with energy 24 hours a day.  New restaurants come (and sadly go) all the time, as the place is filled (once again) with eager young international dreamers looking to get a slice of the capitalistic pie (despite the tired images and old thought of China).  So for a weekend jaunt, it is good eating, exploring the city a bit, massages, hot springs, getting tailored clothes and shoes, and for kicks, a trip to Carrefour on Sunday when literally thousands are in the store doing their shopping.  Weekend nightlife can range from whatever the visitor’s heart desires: jazz, rock, indie, karaoke, gay, straight, local, international, bowling, exclusive clubs, outdoor, indoor, coffee shops, coffee shops with karaoke, you get the picture.  Shanghai is a fabulous place to live!

If up for a jaunt, there are plenty of places in the near region that make good day trips, such as old (semi-authentic) gardens, “watertowns” made of networks of old canals, golf, camping, and Taoist and Buddhist sites.

If you’re in current post, you must try:
Yang’s Fried Dumplings:  Addictive pork morsels swimming in a hot broth all contained within a garlic tasting dough packet, fried in deep oil, and topped with a few sesame seeds.  Absolutely stunning flavors, and 8 of them feed two… and it costs about $1.25 for 8 of them. 

Most difficult about living in current post:
It’s China, and things visible on the surface are much different below.  With the building boom, safety and reliability are an issue, especially with infrastructure.  Same with food quality and safety, one must be constantly aware that the markets, stores, and even upscale locations are loaded with fake merchandise.  In the end, you have no one to claim responsibility when things go wrong, since more often than not, elements of the Chinese government are involved somewhere.  Luckily, there is a growing consciousness about this issue, but due to media and social controls, it takes a long time to ingrain “quality” and “safety” into the minds of a people with 5,000 years of history.  

Biggest adventure at post?
Everyday interactions with the local people were ALWAYS an adventure.  Though I speak Chinese, in what city, anywhere, would you find a taxi driver saying things like “The Long term economic future of China is both bright and prosperous” and “China and the U.S. share a good and harmonious friendship,” which made me giggle every time.  Since the pace of change and growth is constant, everyday there are new adventures. 

When did you realize you were far from home?
About the only thing that I could not procure in China were quality, normal, Q-Tips… the local ones are quite flimsy, and can be quite sharp.  Yes, this is odd, but so odd that it is about the only memorable that made me realize how far I was from home.  Of course, there are social differences between Americans and Mainland Chinese, but these are not enormous gaps.  I never really felt far from home, as the country can be quite comfortable if you can adapt to the differences. 

What’s the most important thing about re-creating your home at post?
I’m an easy move… it doesn’t take much.  I’m happy with very little, so I don’t feel the need to create home.  I like the ultimate flexibility in moving “light.”  I’m very urban oriented, so creating “home” is finding the local places in which I am comfortable and enjoy being at.  Of course, a good coffee shop is a must, along with a nice, clean place for quick, cheap eating is also a dire necessity.  I had that all in Shanghai, so I was in want of nothing.  In fact, in my apartment building, about the only request I made in 3 years was for the building management to put more shelves in a closet so I would have a suitable space for my shoes… such shelves were custom installed and painted to match the closet within 30 minutes of my request. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Object of my affection: Feeling furry...

Off to NYC for a work meeting (work! work! work!) - I imagine it might be a few degrees colder than in DC.  Probably not cold enough to get away with this number from Kate Spade, but it's still making the wish list!



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Field Guide to Dupont Circle...



Since this past weekend's workshop was full of out-of-town guests, I pulled together a few tried and true Dupont standards since all the events were held in Dupont's Hotel Palomar to give the visiting ladies some  ideas on what's out and about in close proximity.  Now granted, I've been away for the past few years, but here was my take  - any Dupont classics and newbies that I missed?

Image via DCcondoloft.com

The New Diplomat's Wife's Field Guide to Dupont Circle


For a bright and early start…
Krispy Kreme
Does the coffee come with a fresh donut?…not good for the waistline but good for the taste buds, pick up a fresh donut (or two) here in your favorite flavor.
1350 Connecticut Avenue (at Connecticut and N, you’ll see it from the Circle)
Open from 6am
Le Pain Quotidien
Or maybe a croissant? …This Dupont Circle outpost of the Belgian chain has all sorts of fresh bakery items, as well a range of healthy and less healthy breakfast options.  Also works for lunch and dinner.   For those with kiddies at home, any of their branded chocolate spreads are a treat to take home.
2000 Massachusetts Avenue
Open from 8am


For a sweet pick-me-up…
Hello Cupcake
I confess I haven’t yet had a chance to go and there always seem to be strong opinions on cupcake places but I’ve heard good things about their Dulce de Leche flavor. 
1362 Connecticut Avenue, just across from the metro
Open 10-9 Saturday, 11-6 Sunday


Looking for something good to eat…
Sakana
Hands down the best sushi in DC.  Period.  Not the hippest.  And not the most creative.  And when they don’t know you, it takes awhile for the service to warm up – it’s more perfunctory.  But great quality fish for a good price in this underground hideaway full of Japanese diplomats and World Bankers and neighborhood residents give this all the bona fides it needs.  Be sure to try the fried oyster roll and the sakana shrimp roll. 
2026 P Street (almost across the street from the hotel)
5:30 -11 pm Saturday, Closed Sunday
Bistro du Coin
A DC institution and if you come on New Year’s, 14th of July or release of Beaujolais Nouveau, it involves dancing on the tables into the wee hours.  This place is loud but the hangar steak with shallot sauce and frites is where it’s at.  All the bistro classics are here, complete with waiters who may or may not remember your order. 
1738 Connecticut Avenue
11:30 AM to 11 PM  - open to 1AM Saturday night
Circa
The other kind of “bistro” – more of a wine bar feel and solid menu consisting of things like mango chicken salad and lobster ravioli.
1601 Connecticut Avenue
10AM until 2AMuntil 11PM Sunday
Shake Shack
Again, on this one full disclosure – I haven’t yet been here but everyone keeps raving about the shakes and root beer floats, and apparently the burgers definitely pass the test if you’re looking for burger action.  Burger places, like cupcake places have become a bit ubiquitous around here so everyone will have a strong opinion but this is one of the newest kid on the block that seems to be on everyone’s list.
1216 18th St NW
(between N M St & N Connecticut Ave)
Open until 12PM Friday, Saturday; 11pm Sunday
Pizzeria Paradiso
Local pizzeria that’s always hopping.  Personally, I prefer a thinner crust but these wood-fired pies are still on our list.   This is a festive place full of festive people so speak up if the waiter looks like he might have forgotten you.  Just be festive and order another drink.
2003 P Street
Friday, Saturday 11:30 AM until 12 AM
Sunday 12pm until 10pm
Sweet Green
Originally started a few years ago in Georgetown by a couple of former students, this is one of the best places for a creative salad with fresh ingredients. I usually go to the one close to my place in Logan or Georgetown but imagine the menu is exactly the same – I’m a fan of the Bondi Beach, my husband goes for Ceasar with their parmesan croutons.  Staff tends to be young so just make sure you get what you ordered.  They also feature a salad of the month that changes with seasonal ingredients.
1512 Connecticut Avenue
Open from 11AM to 10pm


Looking for a libation…
There really isn’t a shortage of bars in this area, most of them on a changing schedule so I am sure that there are newer candidates out there, but here have been our favorites over the years. 
Gazuza
Not only a drink but a smoke.  Well a hookah that is – if you’re looking for “double grapes” to go with that libation and transport a bit of the Arabian nights, this is your place, though it can get loud. 
1629 Connecticut Ave NW
Russia House
A real DC oddity, this place is peculiar on every front.  Originally part of the Russian Cultural Center, the bar serves primarily vodka based drinks which are delicious and powerful, and have a sense of intrigue from one of the oldest stories on the books.
1800 Connecticut Ave NW
(at N Florida Ave)
Firefly
“You can practically feel the grass between your toes” used to be the mantra at this restaurant and bar – which always confused me since anyone in a bar should be wearing shoes, but they do have some faux trees and lovely cozy lighting, and at least at one point, made a mean mojito martini and had a decent wine list.
1310 New Hampshire Ave NW
(between N N St & N 20th St)


I need a gift to take home…or a gift for myself…
Tabletop
A fun combination of modern home goods, quirky jewelry and random “objets” make this a fun stop.  Located on two levels in a town house this place is great for picking up a little something that you might not actually need, but is a beautiful thing to want.
1608 20th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
Mon-Sat 12 pm - 8 pm
Sun 12 pm - 6 pm
Proper Topper
A combination of hats, accessories, and lovely lady things – with some outreach into beautiful children’s gifts and other sundries, this small shop is one that I always seem to be able to pass some time in.
1350 Connecticut Ave NW
(at N N St)
Washington, DC 20036
Mon-Fri 10 am - 8 pm
Sat 10 am - 7 pm
Sun 12 pm - 6 pm
Claude Taylor Photography
Browse prints upon prints of shots from DC and around the globe.  Great pictures that capture the shots you might have missed on trips, though with Me Ra’s workshop, shouldn’t ours be just as good?
1627 Connecticut Ave NW
Kramer’s Books and Afterwords
One of the last of the independent bookstores, this DC staple offers great political and travel books among others, leaving you to browse and dream.  Pick up a coffee but skip the meal  - this is also a great place to pick up a book that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.


I have an hour to kill…
The Berlin Wall
The SAIS courtyard, or “The School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University”, houses a full panel of the wall that came down in 1989 as a tribute to political change.  I may be biased since this is my alma mater, but if you can’t see it in Berlin, this is the next best thing as a place to pause and think about how far the world has come since then and what a monumental political change that was.  The school might not look like much but it was the former stomping ground of alums like Tim Geithner, Wolf Blitzer, Paul Wolfowitz, and Madeleine Albright, who didn’t actually graduate, and oh yeah, those spies they threw out of Cuba.
1740 Massachusetts Avenue
Dupont Circle
Always good people watching, especially if it’s a gorgeous day.
The Phillips Collection
A gorgeous collection featuring one of the best collections of French impressionism as well as modernism.  They just opened a brand new exhibit of Degas’ dancers.  It’s one of DC’s only non-free museums but is the perfect size for an hour or two and in a beautiful neighborhood.  Head out to the main intersection to catch the Gandhi statue in the circle put up by the Indian Embassy just around the corner.
1600 21st St., NW, Washington, DC 20009
Near 21st and Q Streets, NW
10 am to 5pm

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

So what did I learn?

So the big burning $60,000 dollar question is did I learn anything in this weekend's confidence slash photography workshop.  Well...on the confidence piece, I learned a lot but not necessarily in the way that I expected to.  I'm still processing on that front, and not quite sure how to translate it all for public consumption - I think parts of it simply aren't for public consumption.  It might just be one of those "you had to be there" things, but let's just say it gave me a lot to think about.

On the photography piece, I finally cracked the manual settings.  I always got them "in principle" but there's nothing like patient live instructors for bringing it from theory to practice.  Also, they showed me the right button on my camera.  Turns out that Canons have an "on" and a "more on" setting.  Who knew - apparently not the instruction booklet.  It's going to take practice of course, but there is nowhere to go but up.  I was catching up on some blogs the other day and Erin at Elements of Style had a post about cliched quotes that she likes, and one of them caught my eye because I didn't actually know it.

"You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great." Zig Zigler.

So not quite at great, but on the way to a start - as for how the start is going, you be the judge.
















Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.  And a very special thank you to our families, moms and baby models!

Behind the lens...

Behind the lens...

Behind the lens... by thenewdiplomatswife featuring cargo pants

What does one wear to a photo workshop? I had gotten it in my head that in order to be a good photography student, I should wear a vest of some kind - yes, a vest would help to channel that "I know what I'm doing" kind of vibe.  Well, I don't know how well it channeled, but I did recently get a new quilted vest from J.Crew for fall so here's how I styled it up - we went full on Landhausmode on Saturday and then more of an urban safari look on Sunday.


While I was rather impressed with my ability to pull together something I found rather cute for Sunday, the first observation was that photography or not, you don't need a quilted vest when it's 85 degrees out.I might as well have dressed for urban tropics (though it did come in handy at night - check out part of the look, as well as as the necklace in my shot with Me Ra here).  Second observation is that photography can be a bit dangerous in peep toe flats.  I chose those thinking it would be warm but ladies, stick with the close toed shoes for any photo adventures.  Somehow I ended up gashing my toe on a corner of cement, making me probably the only student Me Ra and Brian have ever had needing to leave a photo shoot due to high-level bleeding from inappropriate footwear.  The irony is that those peep toes are the only shoes I've been able to wear to work this week since they're the only ones that have enough space for my foot bandage. Serves me right I suppose. 

PS - While most items are spot on here, obviously, I did not spend $1275 on cargo pants.  Mine are from J.Crew  from a couple of seasons ago - actually purchased for our actual safari now that I think about it.  From African safari to urban safari, how's that?