November 17, 2008

The Obama Inauguration is Getting Crazy!

Apparently, all hotel 50 miles from Washington, D.C. are completely booked for the week of the inauguration. Which is making people very imaginative and crafty (and desperate). Here's what I found on Craigslist:

Apartment to Swap for Inauguration - Calling all Palin Pals!
Are you a down on your luck oil lobbyist? Or are you a closet Nazi/skin head? Do you think global warming is God giving the world a hug? Do you hate arugula and lattes? Why subject yourself to an endless chant of 'Yes We Can.'

During inauguration week, escape to Akron, Ohio, where 40 percent of the people voted McCain/Palin! Take this once in a life time opportunity to stick your head in the sand while your world falls apart around you.

Apartment located in Highland Square, where only the most conservative gays, lesbians and artists reside.

Room for 2, 01/17, leaving 20th (Capital area)
Looking for a place to stay for 2 queer guys (friends) from Asheville. Looking for in or very near Capital area for the Inauguration; near Metro a plus. Can pay. Arriving by train. We're both easy going, professional, sane, and very excited about the future! Hotels booked for 50 miles. We'll come bearing gifts. :)

Photographer needs accommodation Jan 18-21 for inauguration (DC Area)

I'm a photojournalist coming from Honolulu, HI to cover the inauguration, just found most hotels all booked up. Does anyone have a spare bedroom or apt I could rent for a few days? I can pay around $80-$100/night and will bring the macadamia nuts and anything else you want from Hawaii. Hawaii shirt? You got it. I will just need a place to sleep and keep warm, most of my days will be out working. Internet access is big plus.

Please reply back with your location, how close it is to mass transit, restaurants, etc.


before Dec 31, 2008 in Orlando Florida for DC inauguration
I have a 2006 year timeshare week (7 days) that I am about to use or loose. It has to be taken before Dec 31, 2008 in Orlando Florida. I want to go to the presidential inauguration in January. If any one is interested in traveling to Florida before the year is out and willing to swap their DC place for about 3 days In January, around inauguration day, please let me know. Thanks

Hum, this makes me think that maybe there's a buck or two in his inauguration as well...

November 15, 2008

My sister's pretty talented

Look at what my sister made for our cousin's newborn! I mean, I almost want to get pregnant just to have her make me one of these cute wool sweaters (yikes, just kidding mom).

November 13, 2008

How to Make Indian Chai Tea

So apparently, those Chai tea sacks I buy at Giant, are not the "authentic" way to make Indian tea. Or so my neighbor says. I don't know what makes her such her expert (other than being Gujarati) but I'm a good sport, so I let her show me how to make Chai

Step 1
Get help from a neighbor for this. Bonus points if your neighbor is Indian.

Step 2
Boil water with coarse tea grains (made from dried tea leaves), a couple of cardamom pods, and masala. Masal is Hindi for "spice". You can make chicken masala of course, but I suspect the combination of spices is completely different. I think that this chai masala is a mix of ginger, anise, orange peel, cloves and peppercorn.

Step 3
Add sugar. I think that the myth is that Chai is incredibly sweet, but it doesn't have to be. I like it on the less-sweet side.

Step 4
Pour in a generous amount of milk so that the tea's color is light chocolate brown.

Step 5
Boil the tea longer enough so that the milk boils and rises up three times.

Step 6
Pour tea through a strainer into glass cups.

Step 7

November 06, 2008

Two Vignettes

I know, I know, Obama is a smart man and deserves the Presidency, and people tell me that his skin-color is irrelevant. But is it really? I remember two instances in Congo that make me value his skin-color.

She’s Never Seen Someone Like Us
In Congo two years ago, a colleague and I were walking on a large dirt road connecting patches of jungle to three- or four-hut villages. After walking for a bit, my colleague’s city demeanor, and my whiteness attracted considerable attention, and a group of men with their hunting gear (spears, machetes, shoulder bags, and flip-flops) feel in easy stride along with us, grinning, talking animatedly, and generally keeping pace. My colleague understood the local dialect a little bit, since his mother was from the area.

He started translating what they were saying:

“She’s probably scared of us. She probably thinks we are so uncivilized. Has she ever seen black skin before?”

After 5 minutes of chatter, my colleague answered in their language:

“Actually, you may not know this, but Condoleezza Rice, a black woman, is Secretary of State; and Colin Powell has a high position in the Government as well. There is a large population of black Americans there.”

I was floored that he knew my Government so intimately. I couldn’t have answered as well.

A nun who happened to be a nurse, asked me whether I had interacted with a lot of black people in my life. I laughed a little, telling her that there is a large population of minorities in America, including African-Americans, Asians, and Latinos. She was surprised, and asked me why so many Africans ended up in the United States? Did they immigrate there in a large numbers?

I answered that yes, there are quite a few recent immigrants, but really, it was largely due to slavery. Africans were brought in during the 1700 and 1800s as slave laborers.

While obliviously delivering my snapshot of U.S. history, her stern face quickly jerked back like I had slapped her with a leather glove before a duel. She was obviously shocked and dismayed by this fact, and was reacting physically to the notion.

Embarrassed and sheepish, realizing that she had idea about the existence of slavery in the United States, I fervently wished I had lied or said nothing at all. She avoided me for the rest of the day.

These are two little vignettes. They may seem inconsequential, but they have been in my mind for the last two days, and I can’t help reliving them. I am proud we elected a smart, capable, down to earth person to be president. The fact that he is black is icing on the cake.

November 04, 2008

U.S. Elections in Kenya

A friend who knows Kenya pretty well (coming from there, and having parents that still live there), gave me some interesting insight into the U.S. Election, as seen from Kenya*:
Some info you might find funny:
Obama is from the western Luo region; and that's where Kenya's current PM (Odinga) comes from.  He (Odinga) won the Presidency in the last election, but the incumbents decided to plunge the country into violence instead of letting him win. That's why Kenya has a power-sharing agreement and a new PM position.
Previous regimes in Kenya have persecuted the Luo and assasinated every politician that even had the slimmest of chances of becoming a national leader over the years. They even tried to assassinate Odinga before the last election, unsurprisingly.
Anyways, this little enclave of persecuted people now have claim to the PM position in Kenya for the first time; and now, they see themselves as being on the verge of 'claiming' the U.S. Presidency. Which is making them go cuckoo... Apparently most people in Kenya only watch CNN now because it has better Obama coverage than Al Jazeera; which used to be number one...

This election is closely followed in Kenya and abroad.  Super exciting!
*Note: This is obviously a personal account of the situation and not terribly objective.

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The deed is done

Cool poster on one of the restaurants in U Street

Alright, so I left the polling station at 9:50 a.m. which means that a) I'm really late for work, and b) it took me 1.5 hours to get through the line.

Which is crazy because D.C. has tons of polling stations. Guess they're going to have to open up another one in Columbia Heights for the next elections.

It was crowded inside especially when someone with a stroller or in a wheelchair would walk up to the front of the line. They had my name on the list (big relief) and I picked up my voting card.

It's pretty simple to vote in D.C. All you have to do is connect the arrow next to your preferred candidate. The stations were flimsy and you couldn't lean on the table-tops too much or they would collapse.

A lot of people commented on the lack of privacy - imagine a round table, intersected into 4, with short walls (like a pizza with 4 equal parts). Anyone could walk right behind me and see my ballot.

I didn't care, but I could see why some would be bothered by it. Then you place your ballot in a white folder to hide it, and take it out again to slip it into an electronic machine that counts it immediately. Again, there's not much privacy as the ballots are huge and the machine slot pretty small so you have to carefully feed the ballot into it, leaving your fellow voters ample time to peak over.

I asked a voting official if my vote for the presidential candidate would be invalidated if I didn't vote for the other positions. Much to my relief, she said no. Thank God, because I really don't know the other names. I was also suprised to see two other Presidential-Vice-Presidential teams in addition to Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin on the ballot. I have no idea who they are.

I'm inside

I'm inside the station and it's a little chaotic. I love Columbia Heights!

People are selling cheap coffee and donuts for the homeless, two blind people with white canes are trailing a seeing person, an older lady is taking her time reading about the candidates on a chair. I'm in the B (last name) line! Ok gotta go vote now.

Young Voters

I'm so close to the station, I could touch the door.

By the way, 95 percent of the people in line are between 25 and 35. Crazy.

Now, I'm touching the door. The guard on the inside is listening to a radio show where a preacher is commenting on Martin Luther King's famous speech. I'm pretty sure it's illegal since it would imply she's endorsing Obama. Oh well, this is D.C., so Obama's gonna win it regardless.

Yikes, people are fired up

So people are taking in line and this guy says he was there when the polling station opened up at 7:00 and the line was just as long. A girl countered that she moved her car this morning at 6:15 a.m. and the line *then* was just as long. Yikes.

The guy responded "I guess we got George Bush to thank for that". The girl asked how he was doing otherwise. He responded "good, except for the economy".

Wow, this election has gotten Americans talking about politics. Kind of exciting.

At least I can see the station now.


I had a late night yesterday because I went to Manassas, Virginia to watch the Obama rally.

Of course, he was electrifying, though his grandmother had passed away the night before, and the crowd was 50,000 to 100,000 people strong. There was this mass energy like I've never felt before, except for a crazy rock concert. I've honestly never seen so many people before. It felt almost a little cultish.

We triple parked, just to find a parking spot. Our car battery died, and so we had to leave the car behind and bum a ride with a friend (thanks Eric). It takes a special person to make me excited after 3 hours of driving in traffic, a ride that should have taken us 1 hour.

Anyways, having gone to bed a wee bit late (2:30 a.m.), I was not as early to the polls as I would have wished. Now, I'm standing at the corner of 14th and Irving, in a queue that is 3-blocks long at 8:30 a.m. Le sigh. But I'm so glad to vote!