This has been a very interesting week. I began the week by attending the second day of the meeting of the Polar Research Board at the National
Academy of Sciences. There was an interesting discussion on the new structure under consideration for the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) as well as updates on various polar science projects.
The last part of my week was spent as the panel summary reader for the IGERT Green Panel. IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) is an NSF program that funds interdisciplinary graduate research programs. The programs that the “Green” panel was reviewing were focused on ecology and sustainability. My job was to listen to the discussion of the panel and then read the panel summaries for clarity and to help ensure that they accurately reflected the discussion the panel had. It was an interesting experience and the proposed projects were very interesting.
Yesterday, I went on a White House tour. One of my fellow Fellows who works in Senator Gillibrand’s office was able to get me a reservation for a tour. The tours are self guided and you are not allowed to take pictures inside of the house, or even bring a camera with you for that matter. All you are allowed to bring into the house are your keys, wallet, and a cell phone. The tour begins (after a security screening and ID check) walking along an enclosed portico where there are pictures hanging showing different presidents with each large frame (6-7 pictures) centering on a different theme, like presidential pets, inaugurations, etc. Then you enter a hall where you can look into the library, vermeil room, and the china room. In the hall there is a china cabinet displaying dishes from several different presidents. Then you go up the stairs and into the East Room. The East Room is where the president has press conferences and other events. You can see the red carpet in the hall leading to the East Room that the president walks
down on the way to a press conference. Next is the Green Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room, and finally the State Dining Room. In each room there are portraits of presidents and first ladies as well as works by American artists like John Singer Sargent and Albert Bierstadt. Even though there is not a tour guide, there are secret service agents in each room who are knowledgeable about the art and history of that room. Some of them gave a little talk, while others only answered questions. After the State Dining room you leave out the front door, where you are allowed to take a picture with your cell phone camera. The agent in the State Dining room did tell us that the whole Obama family was home yesterday, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see them.
Today I got together with Margie and we had brunch at Le Bon Cafe – delicious veggie strata. Then we headed out to the DC Armory to do a little shopping at the National Geographic Warehouse sale. There were amazing deals on all sorts of National Geographic books. Then we went back to Eastern Market, and did a little browsing and just generally enjoyed a beautiful fall day in Washington, DC.