January 30, 2010

USTREAM

I have heard of people putting their pets on webcams so that they have the ability to observe them from afar, but until this week I have never had any personal experience with this phenomenon. I say personal...not that I have a pet that I am sharing with the world...but because I have really enjoyed watching one particular family of bulldogs.

Ustream features all kinds of animals--even people in deer stands hunting. If dogs aren't your thing, you can watch cats...or giraffes.

Another interesting feature of Ustream is that is allows you to know exactly how many other (crazy) people are watching the same pets. I don't think the Pelto bulldogs have had less than 50 viewers the whole time I've been watching them and as I type this there are 95 viewers. Since there are 1o puppies, something hilarious or cute is usually happening. So enough description...check them out for yourself!

January 23, 2010

Friday at the White House

I went to the White House for a "Tour Coordinator Summit" on Friday. I know, I know...it sounds funny...and I almost didn't go because it was scheduled to last for 2 hours and I needed to do work at my desk. But I thought, "How often do I get to go to a meeting at the White House?" So I went. I was fully expecting to be in a stuffy conference room somewhere, but we were ushered into the East Room and given folders with the meeting agenda and (of course) a photograph of President Obama. My mood changed when I was seated about fifteen inches from Eliphalet Frazer Andrews' 1878 portrait of Martha Washington. I was charmed.

We discussed tour procedures, heard from the Secret Service about the importance of background checks, and discussed ways to better the system. I learned that 5.5 million people requested to visit the White House in 2009. In December of 2009, between December 1st and the 21st, 100,000 people visited the White House. And everyone who steps foot inside is given a background check by a person--not a computer. Whew.

As we wrapped up, rumors began to circulate about the chance to see Bo, the Obama's Portuguese Water Dog (see my White House Christmas entry for a photo). Instead of the seeing the first dog, we were told that if we had time to stay we were invited to step onto the South Lawn and greet the President as he stepped of of Marine 1.

There are always three helicopters that fly with Marine 1. Two are decoys.
Until one lands, you never know which one the President is in.

Looks like President Obama is in this one!

There were guards stationed along the rope line.

The President saluted the Marine, gave a quick wave to the crowd,
and headed into the Oval Office.

January 17, 2010

WHO DAT!

Blackfinn was the spot chosen to watch the Saints/Cardinals playoff game on Saturday afternoon. Buck worked with the management and reserved a section for the group "Who Dat Saints."


BlackFinn is located downtown close to the White House and is a sports bar and restaurant by day...and by night it turns into a club with a DJ...perfect combination.

We had a great group turn out--probably close to 40 people. There was a lot of cheering and yelling as the Saints beat the Cardinals 45 to 14.

Saints fans go wild...you can see Buck leading the cheer (bottom right)

Kern wearing his Archie throwback Saints jersey

Maggie Bullock was in town for the weekend! So good to see her!

Jordan, Holly and Buck

January 15, 2010

Policy

Happy Birthday, Katie Korb!

To celebrate Katie's birthday, we ventured to the U Street Corridor in NW DC to a bar called Policy (how appropriate for DC!). It's been a while since I've been out in the U Street area and I forgot how much I like it. It has a totally different feel from the Hill, where I spend most of my time.

The crowd is more diverse--there are less suits and ties and more of a jazz and/or bohemian look to most folks. The area is somewhat mixed in terms of development--there are bars on some of the windows and store fronts that aren't extremely inviting, but on the whole U Street is full of bars, restaurants, clubs, coffee shops and of course...JUMBO SLICE!

Policy was awesome. The theme is "Truth, Love, and Liberty." The floor and ceilings are painted black but the furniture and booths are upholstered in a vibrant red. Eccentric light fixtures hang throughout the bar--I caught myself mesmerized by them more than once!

Here are some favorite shots from the evening.

Wonderful friends!

Kern and JJD:

Buck, looking debonaire, as always:

The Birthday Girl:
FIST PUMP!

There is an entire other lounge area that we did not even visit. On Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays their "Liberty Lounge" hosts music. New Year's resolution: GO BACK!

January 09, 2010

Book Recommendation: Jesus Calling


In the summer of 2006, I lived in Perth Australia and taught English to Japanese and Korean internationals through Mission to the World. I worked with an American pastor and his wife: Steve and Sarah Young. Steve grew up in Japan as the son of Japanese missionaries so he was fluent in Japanese. He and Sarah planted a church in Japan and lived there during their early married life. In the early 1990's they moved to Australia and began working with Asian internationals there.

Sarah wrote and published Jesus Calling in the year before I met her and my mom found it and gave it to me as a gift before I left for Perth. Little did I know that this book would be one of the greatest resources that I have experienced thus far in my life. Sarah describes the writing style herself: "My journaling had changed from monolouge to dialouge...I have written them [the journal entries] from Jesus' point of view; i.e. the first person singular (I, Me, Mine) always refers to Christ. "You" refers to you, the reader, so the perspective is that of Jesus speaking to you. I have included Scripture references after each daily reading."

Read an interview with Sarah here.

This style was revolutionary for me: my relationship with the Lord took on a different tone. I began to see problems as opportunities for growth and view obstacles as chances to rely on the Lord instead of myself. The concept of "listening" to Jesus and writing down what you "hear" was a jump for me in the beginning. I have grown up believing that the Bible is the holy, inspired and inerrant word of God--and I still believe this. However, I have also expanded my views enough to take God out of a box and realize that he still communicates to his children, even today. (John 10:27, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.") Sarah explains her journey with listening:

"Let me begin with some cautions. It's essential to remember that the Bible is the only infallible record of God's speaking. Always subordinate your personal listening to absolute biblical truth. If something you "hear" is inconsistent with biblical teaching, don't write it down–it's not from God. New Christians, especially, need to be cautious about listening to God in this way. I had been a Christian for 20 years before I began this practice. On the other hand, believers are instructed to "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). I believe there is immense value in learning to wait quietly in God's Presence. For me, the main benefit has been coming to know God intimately, rather than simply knowing about Him. This has increased my love for Him, my trust in Him and His unfailing love (Psalm 13:5), and my awareness of His Presence with me always (Matthew 28:20)."

The book is formatted with a reading for each day of the year with a theme verse for each month. The daily readings are short, but for me they are the perfect length. It gives you just enough material to be able to remember and really reflect on a concept for that day.

In this new year, I hope you will consider purchasing this book and going through it. This will be my fifth year to read through it--and I still learn something new every day.

Read some excerpts here.