Spoopy Catch-Up

Can you believe we’re almost halfway through October already?

It seems like just yesterday that I was sweating through the end of September and wondering when it would feel like fall. I could see my breath when I went out this morning, and I’ve started contemplating posting a cover of “Sweater Weather” up (don’t worry, I won’t), so it really is that time of year already!

Spoopy time!

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The spoopy season is upon us, and it kicks off 3 months of festive fun, but I feel like I’ve barely had the chance to settle into October. Remember how I was supposed to “cool down for fall“? I’m not great at it, but I am getting better!

So let’s do a quick catch up of what I’ve been doing instead of taking it easy since I resolved to do just that…

DEVFESTDC // Maybe I wrote that post because I was staring down the barrel at a packed itinerary, because that Saturday I attended Day 2 of DevfestDC, a Google Developer Group mini-conference. I found out that my friend Yufeng (still waiting on your wedding photos, friend!) was one of the speakers, and with the venue so close to home, I had to go! It was nice to learn about machine learning and Google’s software (in advance of their big hardware announcement shortly after). It was especially nice to get to spend time with Yufeng, who I haven’t seen since his wedding. And seeing him twice in one year is like a new record!

SEEING RED // I dyed my hair!

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It’s a lot more subtle than I was going for, but I am still happy to have red in my hair for autumn! And to be honest, maybe it’s safer for work that my hair isn’t as vibrant of a red as I was going for?

TWO YELPER PARTIES // I worked at not one but two Yelper parties, one week apart! You know I’m a sucker for a good themed party, so for the famous rivalry theme, I quickly donned an Ursula getup and convinced Ben to do an Eric Disneybound.

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And at the DC Halloween bash, I gave Little Red a little test drive. (You’ll be seeing her again later!)

(And of course, I ate a lot of great food.)

HOMECOMING // I went back to my alma mater for yet another rainy homecoming. It feels very different now, when I go back to campus. I feel super out of touch with the campus community as the neighborhood changes.  The student involvement suite – where I used to spend hours of my week running different clubs and meetings – had been completely redone and I was invited to the ribbon-cutting. It is so new and snazzy now, and I am really excited for the student orgs who are going to get to use that space. The homecoming leadership reception – which I’ve attended for the past 4 years – was held in a different building than usual because the old building… is not there anymore. They are redoing it. I remember feeling super tethered to my alma mater as my first job after graduating was research on campus, but I definitely do not feel that anymore.

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I’ll be honest: part of the reason I come back for homecoming is the delicious food they feed me.

TREVOR NOAH // I got to see Trevor Noah, who currently hosts The Daily Show, perform standup at the Kennedy Center while he promotes his upcoming book, Born Illegal. He was really funny, and I didn’t know that he did so many great impressions and accents! I appreciated his commitment to his one-man skits, which less-bold comics would not sustain the way he did. And then, because my friend Krystal is going to marry him and got the chance to get a photo with him… and bring some friends… I got to meet him!

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I like to think he’s laughing because when Annie and Krystal walked up, he exclaimed “Oh, you guys are tiny, I love that!” and then I approached him and said, “I see how it is, no love for a tall girl?” He then performed a 10:30 show about 5 minutes after this photo.

SETH MEYERS //  Late Night with Seth Meyers is filming in DC this week, and I was able to attend Tuesday’s taping! It was very stressful because even though I left work quite early, Metro was hell-bent on making me late. When I escaped from underground and decided to bike over instead, the first three Capital Bikeshare hubs I got to were full! No where to park my bike! This was one of the rare times I ran in the streets and I immediately stopped when I saw the line wrapping around the block. My friends already had their wristbands to sit in the orchestra section, and I was sure I wasn’t going to make it because there were hundreds of people in line in front of me. But I made it!!! Here’s the episode I watched them film, with guests Lena Dunham and John Mulaney and Nick Kroll as their characters from their Broadway show, Oh, Hello. It was fun to get to see them film live, and I liked seeing Seth Meyers again. (I saw him perform standup in college, shortly before he hosted the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in 2011.)

CIRQUE DE LA SYMPHONIE // I just saw this last night: it’s the NSO Pops performing Cirque de la Symphonie:  classic Halloween instrumentals to accompany some incredible circus acts. I’m talking aerial artists, strongmen, a juggling clown, a contortionist. There was a woman doing these amazing fast changes! It was awesome, and the set list included a lot of my favorite orchestral Halloween pieces. To top it all off, the weather is beautiful, so we walked to and fro the Kennedy Center and thoroughly enjoyed the stroll.

#FALLINTODISNEYSTYLE // I’ve been occasionally participating in Disney Style’s fall  Instagram challenge, and I have been getting to know a lot of really cool Disney Instagrammers through it!

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I’m not as hardcore as most of the community is, but it’s still a really fun community to get to know.

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Otherwise very unaccustomed to posting photos of my socks or my desk!

Believe it or not, this is actually a slightly slowed-down few weeks for me. I have been very consciously giving myself days at home to cook dinner, clean, and prepare for future activities. (Halloween is rapidly approaching and then the holiday season will be upon us before we know it!)

What have you been up to lately as fall kicks into full gear?
What are your favorite politically-minded comedy shows?
I don’t really watch a lot of TV anymore, and I definitely don’t stay up late to watch them, so I actually don’t watch much of The Daily Show or Late Night with Seth Meyers.

P.S. Are you in the spoopy mood yet? Get in it with Required Halloween Viewing and laughing at my resolution to Cool Down for Fall.
P.P.S. I quickly set up a Facebook page if that’s your preferred way to read blogs!

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February Favorites

February 2015 Favorites

Our shortest month of the year seemed to pass even faster than usual, didn’t it? It was also a REALLY cold month for us: record lows across the board and the coldest February we’ve had in decades, with some broken outstanding records lasting over a century before being broken this year. Here are a few things I enjoyed during this cold, short time.

TELEVISION

You know I love TV. I was raised on television and it was getting so bad that I gave up TV for Lent last year. Because of that, I basically stopped watching most shows I had been watching every week and haven’t caught up since. (I still need to watch the last season of Legend of Korra!) Because I have this new void in my TV schedule, I decided to fill it with new shows rather than with something productive. The shows I’ve been liking with the new TV season are:

  • Agent Carter

    Tuesdays at 9 PM EST on ABC

    My FAVORITE new show this year, I cannot recommend it more if you like humor, action, good relationship-building between characters, Marvel, plain folk heroes (vs. superheroes), and good TV in general. The writing is great, the acting is good, and I want them to renew this show desperately. Season 1 was amazing.

  • Fresh Off the Boat

    Tuesdays at 8 PM EST on ABC

    Basically, every Asian person and any person who knows an Asian person has been watching this show, sometimes out of guilty obligation. Don’t worry, I understand. But you know why it’s good, besides the really funny writing? Two words for you: 90s nostalgia. We are a generation with a heavy case of 90s nostalgia, and this show captures so many of the things we loved about our 90s childhoods really well.
    (And also, the show is just legitimately really funny.)

  • The Flash 
    Tuesdays at 8 PM EST on CW

    Do I love Grant Gustin? Yes, yes I do. He’s a cutie. But in an age where too many studios are trying to cash in on “darker, grittier” superheroes (even though not every superhero is meant to be like Batman and in fact are not supposed to be dark or gritty), it’s nice to have a regular guy superhero with a show that just makes me happy. I’m invested in Barry Allen, I want to know what Dr. Harrison Wells’s deal is, and I care about these characters a lot. It’s really fun seeing how they write the villains every week, too.

  • Gotham

    Mondays at 8 PM EST on Fox

    Sometimes, though, a town like Gotham can only be portrayed for what is is: dark and gritty and broken. I have really been enjoying exploring Gotham and its inhabitants, many of whom are characters that we know from the Batman stories. (Also, I adore the young actor who plays child Bruce Wayne. He’s great.) The writing is really good in the pacing, within the episode and from one to the next.

Smithsonian Visits

Even though I have now lived in the DC metro area for nearly a decade now, I haven’t really visited the Smithsonian institutions properly! My first visit to the zoo didn’t even include seeing animals and I only saw the Natural History Museum for the first time on my anniversary. But then I got to see the Natural History Museum again at my first Instameet! And I visited the National Gallery of Art this weekend for a photo adventure with some of my friends from the short film I worked on a short while back.

A Degas sculpture

I’m going to go back one of these days and really take in the art. I am also going to make a stronger, conscious effort to visit al these Smithsonian galleries and museums because they are FREE to visit and just such an amazing resource. I should be taking advantage of the fact that I have free access to the biggest museum system in the world.

Walking concourse between the west and east buildings at the National Gallery of Art

Watching Musical Theater [at Warner Theatre]

I’ve had the chance to watch  not one but TWO musicals at the Warner Theatre. Prior to this month, I had never been to this theater. I saw 50 Shades! The Musical Parody, which was a romp for sure. I also saw Anything Goes!, which is more of a traditional (and I mean traditional in the sense that Cole Porter wrote the songs) musical. I’ll be doing a write-up of that soon, but I really loved it. Being at the Warner Theatre this past month has reignited my love for musical theater and really made me miss doing choreography and singing along with a chorus.

Our view for 50 Shades! the Musical Parody. Check out that gilding!

IGDC

I’ve just discovered the #igdc community on Instagram (InstaGram DC) and discoverd so many great photographers in the DC area, many of whom I was able to meet at my first ever Instameet. It’s been so nice to see these amazing photos on my Instagram feed as I slowly allow Instagram to be a social network that I use to follow more than just my friends. Plus, I’m learning so much about DC and the beauty it has to offer.

Follow @igdc on Instagram to see a daily featured photo and check out the #igdc hashtag as well!

Photobooths

I am such a sucker for photobooths. We have them at a lot of events in the DC area and I have gotten to the point where I have some standards now. Lazy photobooths (which I’ll still do and have fun with) will consist of a hung up cloth of some sort and someone taking photos for you. MAYBE they’ll throw in some props. We have a lot of companies in the area that set up booths, have a lot of props, and the lighting in the booth is actually really nice. I saw maybe the best photobooth I’ve seen yet in DC this week. It was amazing because they had so many awesome props for our DC-themed party! I was overwhelmed by the options, so we had no choice but to duck into the booth multiple times.

Shenanigans in this photobooth were the highlight of that party. Each frame tells a weird story XD

Family Group Chats

My extended family + my mom are all in China, so they use WeChat religiously. (Maybe a little too much.) (Definitely a little too much.) For Chinese New Year (holla at me, fellow sheep!), they started a giant group chat to include me, my mom, my dad, my mom’s 2 sisters, their daughters, my cousin-in-law (?), and my uncle. I had to mute it because they’re so active, but it’s nice to be in touch with my family on the other side of the world.

A struggle for me to keep up with because I still read Chinese slowly

 

The Oscars

It’s my favorite award show for a reason. I love the Oscars and I wrote a lengthy post telling you so, complete with a link to my live tweets. 2014 was a great year for movies so the Oscars are a great time to look back and kind of say “Wow, great job Hollywood”. Do they really need that affirmation? Nah. But they give it to themselves every year and we help.

Trivia Crack

The football does not treat me well. Everyone else: we coo’.

 

This is the only game app I currently have on my phone. I don’t really like having games on my phone because I try to keep the unproductive activity to a minimum. (Since I already waste more time on my phone than I’d like.) HOWEVER I do love trivia. I used to like playing QuizUp, which was great for proving how much Disney trivia I knew. But as my friends shifted from QuizUp to Trivia Crack, and I learned very late why my brother was always asking me random trivia questions, I had to indulge my trivia nerd. I used to be on a bar trivia team but we’ve been forced into retirement because of different circumstances. (Moving, our statewide trivia league ditching the bar we went to anyway, etc.

Even though Trivia Crack madness has been winding down, I did like it a lot this past month. It has been forcing me to scrape around my brain for accurate sports knowledge, but no one is challenging me on Trivia Crack and I’m starting to feel like that friend who is always starting new games. My bad!

Are you ready for March? How was your February?

Natural History Museum Instameet

(Photos in this post are mine unless otherwise indicated.)

I was selected to attend my very first Instameet today at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History!


I was so surprised to be selected because I really only applied as a “couldn’t hurt!” type of deal, trying to go for opportunities and really get myself into the DC community. I only recently opened my own Instagram account to the public and, spoiler alert, the content isn’t really great. I know that I’m not a cool photographer on #igdc but hey, a girl can dream! So imagine my shock when I got the email confirming my attendance! At first I thought “Maybe not enough people applied so everyone who applied got in!” But I saw some people lamenting not being chosen — some of whom had way more followers than me and way better content. Who knows what made them pick me but I’m glad they did!

Even though it was ridiculously crazy cold. Remember polar vortex season from last year?

That is degrees Farenheit. Don’t even look at what that is in Celsius; you’ll cry and then your tears will freeze right on your face.

I’ll admit, I was pretty intimidated when I showed up. A lot of these Instagrammers were very familiar with the DC Instameet scene. Several brought their DSLRs. A handful had multiple cameras with them. One even had a vintage twin-reflex camera with him!

Featured: Dave (@beingdave) Photo credit: Adil (@elektron9)

Along schleps me, in my panda hat and my Android phone. (Creative types always seem to have iPhones, so I was definitely in the minority here…) In answer to the most DC question you can hear (“So what do you do?”), people’s responses were wildly impressive: working for Facebook or Instagram itself, social media at NatGeo… and then there’s Starr and her panda hat.

I got some good shots though, and I’ll be sharing ones that I didn’t get to put up on my Instagram account because you are all very special to be putting up with my posts.

“Happy Year of the Goat, mofos!” – what I imagined this one was thinking
The famous Hope Diamond. Could’ve used a polish and shine, but I guess it’ll do.
This is the African Moon Moth. It has no mouth when it emerges from its cocoon, doomed to face death after just one week of life. During that week, their only purpose is to mate. 
I guess I’d look pretty sassy and mad if that was my fate, too.

The Butterfly Pavilion is easily one of my favorite parts of this museum. It’s warm and humid to keep the butterflies and moths comfortable, and they flutter by freely. People are generally really respectful of the butterflies, and I like that we as a species acknowledge the delicate majesty of these little creatures.

Plus, you get magical moments like this!
Featured: Andy (@andymstone) and a lacewing. Photo credit: Sarah (@smithsonian)

We were given time to roam about the museum freely, but it was nice to have the whole group gathered in the Butterfly Pavilion. It paved the way for us to see what Instagrammers are really like to get the perfect photo.

Instameets, am I right?
Featured: John (@johntassparker) and Priya (@onomatopriya)
This fella is pretty popular at the museum because a) he’s always willing to share and b) he’s in front of a bench.
Some Rothschild moths doing like they do on the Discovery Channel. The rest are awkward third wheels. (Third and fourth wheels?)

If I didn’t make it clear earlier, I was incredibly intimidated by everyone else in attendance. I have a “lifestyle” blog and Instagram account, just little tidbits from my life that I feel like sharing. I’ve never been a very visual or artistic person, so seeing these folks roll up with their DSLRs and their #igdc status (the founders of @igdc were at this Instameet, by the way) made me really nervous. I was also nervous that they’d be just so ah-tistic that they wouldn’t be terribly friendly. While some folks were quieter than others, there were plenty of extroverts and everyone was generally really nice! Phew!

Here are a few photos from the #NMNHphoto Instameet from my fellow IGDCers (check the caption for their accounts):

Henry the elephant welcomes all to the museum.
Photo credit: Joe (@jbano1)
Got buns, hon?
Photo credit: Holly (@golightly) (what a great name!)
Photo credit: Andy (@someguy)
Check out his great photography site: ihitthebutton.com
Photo credit: Kerrin (@kerrinsuzanne)

Starting to get overwhelmed by the photos so I’ll leave you all to discover the rest yourselves. I’m sure more will continue to be uploaded as folks edit their beautiful photos. (I felt like I was obligated to upload as I went along, it was pretty stressful. I wanted to read all the signs!)

I had a really great time and am looking forward to getting more involved with the DC Instagram community and beefing up my photography skills!

Not sure who took this one, but it’s up on the @smithsoniannmnh account with loads of other great photos. This is the closest we got to a group photo.
  • Have you ever been to an Instameet? If so, how was it? If not, where would you like to attend one?
  • Have you ever been to the National Museum of Natural History? What are your favorite exhibits?