Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Cayne and I did have a very relaxing long weekend. We spent Sunday at the National Zoo to try to see the baby gorilla and baby anteater. This was our second attempt to see the new gorilla - last time there were crowds of really loud people around her and this time she just wasn't anywhere we could see her. The giant anteaters were also MIA. We did get to see Happy the Hippopotamus swimming, which was nice since she's leaving at the end of summer to make way for the new elephant house.

We walked back to our house from the zoo and stopped at Zorba's Greek Cafe for takeaways. We will definitely be going back - they have the best gyros I've tasted so far in DC. We also went and watched Angels and Demons, which was very exciting and then came home to call Dianne (Cayne's mum) to wish her a Happy Birthday.

Today we walked to our local Irish Pub, James Hoban's, for Guiness and fish n' chips before heading to the Museum of Natural History to watch Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian in their Imax theatre. Along the way we stumbled upon the National Memorial Day Parade so we got to hear a few marching bands playing very partiotic music, some floats, and some soldiers. It was Cayne's first US parade! The movie was pretty good and it was kind-of fun to see the movie in the museum with lots of kids in the theatre!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend Plans

I've been trying to get Cayne excited about the long Memorial Day weekend for a while now. Unfortunately, we both got really busy before we got around to planning something for the weekend. We had thought about going to Ohio to visit my Grandma Philips but plane tickets to OH are super expensive from DC this weekend. Then we thought about renting a car and driving out to Virginia Beach but we were dissuaded from that by tales of traffic woes and 4 million people on one beach for Memorial Day. We settled on driving to Shenandoah National Park and visiting Luray Caverns and in the final moments were deterred by not having actually made the car reservation! We couldn't find anything that was under $77 a day(!) and so we decided that we would take advantage of staying in the city while everyone else leaves. :)

We went and saw Star Trek last night -- it was a GREAT movie and had a pleasant stroll home to Dupont from Chinatown. OK, well, it did get a little warm and we did get a lot hungry while we were walking....

Today we planned to go to the zoo but got distracted by a late afternoon lunch at Maggiano's (Cayne's favorite Italian Place) and wine shopping at the World Market. Oh - and drinking margaritas! We also made a huge decision about where/when to move. That is, we decided not to do anything until August when we'll have a little more information about where we'll be after New Zealand tax payments and such. Our plan for now is to rent cars most weekends for day trips (we have a few planned out after trying to find something to do this weekend) and also to drive around neighborhoods and just generally look at homes for rent. It turns out that even though renting a house in the suburbs is cheaper than city living, throwing a car into the mix makes it more expensive. So, we'll stay put for now and save a little money but keep house hunting until we find something we can't live without.

In all, the theme of this weekend is going to be "relaxation" and although I think we'll do more stuff tomorrow, at least we're staying true to our goals. :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Visa Update

Well, the visa process for Cayne seems to be moving along. We received a notice in the mail that we both have to go in for an interview on June 18th. Luckily, this time the interview location seems much easier to get to (near a metro). This is particularly nice because the interview is during rush hour so trying to rent a car to drive there would really be a pain. We're not exactly sure what happens after this interview. According to what I've read online, if all goes well, Cayne could get a temporary green card stamp immediately after the interview or could have to wait 6-8 weeks for one to come in the mail. Either way, that seems much quicker than the 9-10 months we expected this process to take, so there's a good chance we're missing something.

Also on a positive note, Cayne just got his temporary work permit in the mail. That's exciting because even though he doesn't have a social security number, he can get a job in the US if he needs to at this point. And it only took about a month for the permit to arrive after that interview.

We're keeping our fingers crossed that everything keeps going smoothly from here on out!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Intel ISEF 2009

I'm in Reno, Nevada at the 2009 Intel ISEF to promote training and education opportunities at the NIH. Yesterday and today, the NIH group helped with judging the "Cellular and Molecular Biology" and the "Medicine and Health" categories. It has been a wonderful experience - I am amazed by the quality of research these students have completed while still in high school! I've gotten to talk to a lot of them about their projects and they are all very motivated, bright, and exciting!

I did get a kick out of walking through the exhibit hall today during the judging and seeing rows of anxious-looking young scientists waiting for their projects to be judged. What a stressful situation for them! But...when (or where) else would you get to see row after row of professional looking teenagers who may be nervous but who are also super excited to be there (not looking like someone had to drag them there)!? There are over 1,500 student finalists here!

The Grand Awards Ceremony is on Friday. I'm lucky enough to be the representative from the NIH who gets to stand up and give brief comments to the audience. The organizers expect over 4,000 people to be in attendance. I'm pretty nervous! Hopefully, I'll be able to help inspire some of these great young scientists to continue advancing their scientific knowledge...we need them to!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I had an interesting time attepting to play golf last weekened. I'm just learning, this was my fourth round of golf...ever. I haven't even tried to hit a ball in at least 5 months, so was happy that I could practice for 30 mins before teeing off. I suprised myself, practice went great! And then the golf started...

So why was I there? A friend had ask me to go with him to play golf for an afternoon, but neglected to tell me it was the 26th hardest golf course in America. Next time I will ask more questions, but I digress...

It turns out that even average golfers struggle on this course. Given the difficulty of the course, I did really well. There were 5 or 6 holes out of the 18 that we played which I ended up going more than twice over par on (I picked up once I had made 8 shots, to keep up). Still, I managed 4 on a par 3. The green was tiny and competely surrounded by a lot of water (it was an island), so it was remarkable that I actually hit it :). Other than that, I seemed to get around 3 to 5 over par on most holes.