Decoding DC – What Life is Really Like in the Nation’s Capital

Posted by Matsui Washington Fellow Trinh Nguyen.

Berkeley students and grads at Jazz in the Garden at the National Gallery of Art. Matsui Fellow Trinh Nguyen second from right.

Berkeley students and grads at Jazz in the Garden at the National Gallery of Art. Matsui Fellow Trinh Nguyen second from right.

The start of the federal government shutdown of 2013 coincided with a spike in temperature. I know this for sure, because I celebrated surviving the DC summer humidity with a weekend of beautiful low- to mid-70’s temperatures reminiscent of Berkeley weather. And then the government closed down and the temperatures hiked up, hitting a too-bad-you’re-in-a-suit 90’s as I walked to work in flip flops.

Okay, I’m being a bit melodramatic, but the Washington, D.C. climate did change in more ways than one. To clarify, I will talk about the DC that exists in the downtown area, which is not home to most DC natives. It’s full of commuters from Virginia and Maryland, and loads of new, young professionals from around the U.S. and the world.

I arrived to Washington on August 25th, the first day of the UCDC program. I was a bit too excited about the program, and offered to start my internship the next day, the 26th. I heard DC was a polarizing town of A-type personalities, so I expected to see the severe partisanship and dog-eat-dog world immediately.

And well, I didn’t. I know this part of DC exists. The government shutdown proved it exists. But I really do think most people who go to DC for work prioritize getting stuff done, and getting it done well requires civility. Both Democrats and Republicans are in power in different ways, and progress requires cooperation.

I intern for a bipartisan lobbying and consulting firm specializing in education and workforce issues. The office is split between Democrats and Republicans. While there is friendly teasing over some of the more hot-button issues, my work environment is incredibly positive. Everyone respects each other, likes each other, and works well together. They produce really great things, and I’m lucky to be a part of it.

So after a couple weeks, I began telling my friends and family back home that DC isn’t as polarized as the media portrays it. People may have a partisan agenda, but they pursue it with decorum. The cases that show the extreme disarray and tension in government and politics are salient, but are few relative to the overall picture.

On the final days leading up to the shutdown, nearly everyone was sure it wouldn’t happen. There was no way the President would budge on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), they said, and the GOP knew it. Even if there was a shutdown, they said, it would last a maximum of two days. No one wanted a shutdown, and, for sure, no one wanted a long one.

The Capitol a few days before the shutdown. Courtesy of Matsui Fellow Trinh Nguyen.

The Capitol a few days before the shutdown. Courtesy of Matsui Fellow Trinh Nguyen.

Tuesday, October 1. I remember hearing some UCDC students toast the shutdown when the clock hit midnight. Furloughed interns for government agencies joked about free vacations. Furloughed federal employees joked about paid vacations. DC businesses started giving out free or discounted “shutdown food” as a business gimmick. The first few days of the shutdown were kind of fun. Everyone just “knew” Congress was going to figure it out and there would be no harm done for anyone outside of those select politicians.

Friday, October 4. People started getting uneasy. “Wait, they haven’t figured anything out yet?” “But they’re gonna figure something out this weekend right? They have to! Veterans can’t visit their war memorials!”

Monday, October 7. People started getting frustrated. “What do you mean nothing happened over the weekend?” “I have to get paid this week or else I can’t pay my bills!”

Tuesday, October 8. People started getting angry. “Congress isn’t even in negotiations for a compromise. They’re in negotiations for negotiations!!!”

Monday, October 14. … “I’ll vote my congressperson out of office if you vote out yours.”

I don’t work on the Hill, and I know few people on the Hill. So maybe both sides of the aisle really thought they were going to “win,” but from what I saw, most people saw the shutdown as a lose/lose for everyone. People were confused, they were tired, and they were more disillusioned with their elected leaders than they thought possible.

During the whole sixteen days of the shutdown, federal employees just wanted to go back to work. And when they finally walked back into their offices, they were faced with weeks of backlog. The IRS even postponed tax season.

Government research agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, couldn’t accept new cancer patients for clinical trials. One friend from New York worked at a non-profit that helped disadvantaged families get food stamps. One particular family would have gotten assistance even with the shutdown, but there was a glitch in the system that prevented them from receiving their benefits. Guess who was the only person able to fix it? Yep—a federal employee not at work.

Politics got even nastier, especially when the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) leaked ACA negotiation emails from the office of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH). It was a breach of trust that shocked everyone, including those who expected the worst from Congress.

I thought I was saved from the shutdown because I could still go to work. But work was slow. My firm had given me some awesome assignments, but they had to do with Congressional hearings and legislation. All of that was postponed. Lobbyists and political consultants hated the shutdown. How can a government relations firm do its job when the government isn’t open? Bills that should have been passed by the end of this year were tabled, and probably won’t be picked up again until 2014.

My fellow UCDC participants who interned on the Hill and in federal agencies felt like they were wasting their time. They changed their academic schedules in order to have an internship that they were legally barred from doing. Quarter students from other UCs got the worst end of the bargain. They arrived in late September. At this point, some of them have only been at their internships for a week and a half. Some of them only have six weeks (and the lucky ones have seven) to network and build professional relationships at their workplace. When UCDC ends, I would have gotten sixteen weeks.

Even little bits of regular life got harder. One of my furloughed friends decided to work on his UCDC research paper. Too bad the Library of Congress, website included, was shut down. Another friend said Berkeley experienced an earthquake, and he couldn’t even check the magnitude because the Department of the Interior website was down.

It’s October 25 now, and the government re-opened on October 17. Federal employees got calls the night of October 16 (or in the early morning of October 17) to come back to work. In the past seven business days, museums opened back up, research centers continued reporting on earthquakes, Congressional hearings are slowly being rescheduled, and DC is like how it was. That’s because when public servants are allowed to do their jobs, they do it well.

Well, most of them. Congress suspended the debt ceiling until February 7, 2014. That Friday is their new deadline for compromise. When you add in all their recesses, that doesn’t give them a lot of time to hash out their differences in the Capitol. A lot of already begrudged people on the Hill gained a lot more grudges over the 16 days of the shutdown.

The air in DC has changed once again. Literally. It’s brisk and refreshing; fall is here. In a couple of weeks, restoration will begin on the Capitol, and the dome will be covered in scaffolding for two years. It won’t be a pretty sight, but it makes for a pretty nice symbol of the repair Congress needs.

Cal in Sacramento: A Summer with Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi

-To apply for the Cal-in-Sacramento Fellowship, click here and download the application. The application deadline is Nov. 6 at 5pm. Question? Contact Camille Koué at ckoue@berkeley.edu.
Posted by former Cal in Sacramento Fellow Alex Hirsch
Alex Hirsch with Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, 2009

Alex Hirsch with Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, 2009

During the summer of 2009, I had the privilege of interning for two months with the office of Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi. I was placed in the press office, which was very exciting because I had previously been involved with publishing the Undergraduate Political Science Association’s monthly newsletter. Some of my responsibilities in the press office included drafting press releases and writing talking points for public speeches.

The summer of 2009 was a very interesting time to intern in the office because Lieutenant Governor Garamendi was busy campaigning in a special election for a newly-open congressional seat. Also, since many staffers were taking a leave of absence to help with the campaign, and the overall budget for staffers had been drastically cut in the spring after a public spat between Lieutenant Governor Garamendi and then-Governor Schwarzenegger, the interns in the office were given a great deal of responsibility and I was able to participate in several weekly staff meetings. My experience in the press office led to me taking a keen interest in political messaging and media strategy.

Alex Hirsch is currently a third-year law student at the UC Davis School of Law. Raised in the Sacramento area, he developed an early interest in California politics. Alex majored in political science at UC Berkeley, where he served as President of the Undergraduate Political Science Association and played trombone for four years in the Cal Band. After graduating from Berkeley in 2011, he went directly to law school. Alex is currently working at the Sacramento District Attorney’s office and hopes to land a permanent position as a DA after he passes the bar exam.

10 Things You Can Still Do in D.C During a Government Shutdown–For $10 or Less!

Posted by UCDC Matsui Washington Fellow Tara Yarlagadda.

In the past year or so, I’ve gone from India to Lafayette to Berkeley to Chile to Lafayette once again and finally arrived in D.C, realizing that I am perhaps destined to be a global nomad. I will support myself by living out my dreams of being a faux National Geographic photographer, taking low-quality photos all around the world with my beloved iPhone 5 camera. My parents will be so thrilled.

But about D.C: Within the span of a month, D.C has suffered from a tragic mass shooting, a deadly and tragic car chase taken straight out of a scene from 2 Fast, 2 Furious, and a man self-immolating on the National Mall. Suffice to say, something’s rotten in the District of Columbia. Oh, and let’s acknowledge the 500- pound elephant in the room that has caused federal workers to sit at home in their pajamas and millions weeping over the utter decline in civility and sanity in our political system (and the fact that the National Zoo’s PandaCam is no longer posting live-feed of the adorable panda babe and his mom):

THE FEDERAL SHUTDOWN.

Congress decrees from Capitol Hill that no humans shall be allowed on the National Mall during the federal shutdown. However, squirrels are apparently welcome.
Congress decrees from Capitol Hill that no humans shall be allowed on the National Mall during the federal shutdown. However, squirrels are apparently welcome.

The shutdown had crushed my dreams of seeing all 18 Smithsonian museums (not including the National Zoo or the Castle). However, I quickly realized that I had already been seeing plenty of sites that had no connection with the national parks or museums, and the majority either for free or at a relatively low cost. Despite the shutdown, I was determined to live it up in the City of Magnificent Intentions (the humorous nickname bestowed upon D.C by Charles Dickens). With that in mind, I’d like to share with you some of the best sites, smells and sensations I’ve been able to experience in D.C during the shutdown.

1. Cupcakes. Cupcakes.

Food is intimately connected with the culture of a place, and D.C is no exception. The limited options for high-quality, low-cost ethnic food (Hello D.C Chinatown; the ‘Chinese’ food you offer is a sad, feeble specimen compared to your robust counterparts in San Francisco and Oakland) speaks to the relative lack of diversity in D.C. However, there are a few exceptions to this, including a delicious falafel place that I’ll highlight shortly.

Californians love their frozen yogurt (better known as fro-yo), and so do D.Cers, but the true stars of this city are the cupcakes. D.C is sin city for those with a sweet tooth, and you’ll surely emerge with a few more cavities and dental appointments if you frequent these following places:

Sprinkles-Rating: 2.5/5; Price: $4.50

Despite the cute name, you should steer clear of this place. Sprinkles is the poor (wo)man’s version of Crumbs. For cupcakes with sickeningly, artificially sweet frosting and surprisingly dull and dry batter, look no further than these babies. You’re better off saving your money for any of the many other cupcake vendors in the city.

Sweetbites Mobile-Rating: 3.5/5; Price: $3.00-$3.50

Cupcakes on wheels–who could resist? I sampled the Peanut Butter and Chocolate, and while it had just the right amount of sweetness to satisfy my craving, as far as cupcakes go, it wasn’t particularly memorable. It was a decent size for the price, but not a steal like Crumb’s ‘Happy Hour’ deals.

Georgetown Cupcake-Rating: 3.5/5; Price: $2.75

Ahh, the much-raved-about starlet behind the hit TV series D.C Cupcakes. Honestly, my reaction after sinking my teeth into one of their cupcakes was “This is good, but I’ve had better.” A bit on the small side too. Granted, I only tried one cupcake (Lemon Blossom), so perhaps I need to give it another go before passing judgment. Go here just for the sake of taking the obligatory ‘posing in front of Georgetown Cupcakes’ photo. If you have to wait 20+ minutes in line though, skip it and head on over Georgetown’s lesser-known, yet delightful…

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Baked & Wired-Rating: 4/5; Price: $3.50-$4.00

Baked & Wired is tucked away from the bustling main street and picturesquely located next to a riverbank and Georgetown schooner. Location aside, this place has insane sounding (and tasting!) ‘cakecups.’ Take your pick between ‘Dirty Chai,’ ‘Flapjack’ and ‘Chocolate Cupcake of Doom.’ I sampled “Elvis Impersonator: AKA Unporked Elvis”: an oh-so-sweet and fluffy medley of chocolate, peanut butter and banana. The icing is occasionally a bit too sweet for my liking, but for a ‘once-in-a-blue-moon cupcake,’ this place will not fail.

 

A compelling argument to chow down on cupcakes is pinned to the shop wall of Baked & Wired.
A compelling argument to chow down on cupcakes is pinned to the shop wall of Baked & Wired.

Crumbs-Rating: 4.5/5; Price: $4.00 (**$2.00 during their half-off weekly deals)

Don’t be deceived by the less-than-stellar reviews on Yelp. Crumbs features a spread of playfully decorated enormous cupcakes, ranging from the more traditional vanilla to the savory chocolate ‘Blackout.’ These gigantic and delectable cupcakes will satisfy the hungriest soul, and if you head over there during what I like to call their ‘Happy Hour’ period (cupcakes for 1/2 the price–> $2.00 ginormous cupcakes!). you’ll receive a sweet, blissful deal. The one on 17th street in front of the Farragut Metro station offers half-price ($2.00) cupcakes on Saturdays from 5-7 PM.

A perfect mix of peanut butter frosting and chips, chocolate cake and cream cheese blends together to form this half-eaten Baba Booey cupcake.
A perfect mix of peanut butter frosting and chips, chocolate cake and cream cheese blends together to form this half-eaten Baba Booey cupcake.

2. Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park and Hana Japanese Market

For an escape from the tourist traps along the National Mall and the ritziness of Dupont Circle, look no further than Meridian Hill, AKA ‘Malcolm X’ park. This quaint, three-tiered park features an expanse lawn surrounded by ample reading benches, a monument dedicated to good ol President Buchanan, Joan of Arc, and a cascading waterfall flanked by a column of walkways and a bounty of flora. Perfect for a fall stroll with friends or a significant other.

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Joan of Arc charges through Malcolm X park, defeating all who lay in the path of her sword.

For all you Japanophiles out there: Just a few blocks down from Malcolm X park is this hidden gem in D.C: Hana Japanese Market. I sought shelter from a bought of nasty rain in this adorable shop, satisfying my sweet tooth craving with a $2 Mochi purchase and some instant Thai peanut-sauce powder.

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Pocky is a delightful Japanese treat that will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Pocky is a delightful Japanese treat that will satisfy any sweet tooth.

3. U Street–West Coast Meets East

IMG_4926Ben’s Chili Bowl is a favorite of actor and comedian Bill Cosby.

U Street is where the hipsters, social justice folks and artists of D.C roll. If you’re a Bay Area transplant like me and feeling a bit homesick for the high-energy activism of S.F and Berkeley, this will quickly become your go-to spot. This place has no shortage of good eats. Beloved by a number of celebrities–including President Barack Obama and Bill Cosby–Ben’s Chili Bowl is a D.C landmark that lives up to its well-deserved reputation. Pick up a basket of chili-cheese fries for $5.95, plop down at the counter, and enjoy. Veggie and turkey burgers are available as well for all types of foodies.

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Some very Berkeley-esque posters in U Street.
Some very Berkeley-esque posters in U Street.

For a combination of glorious comfort food, social justice literature, and powerfully recited spoken word poetry, stop by Busboys and Poets. The restaurant has multiple locations throughout the city, but I’ve got a soft spot for the U Street location, having experienced an incredible spoken word event there during an Amnesty International conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Georgetown

Georgetown Cupcakes and Baked and Wired have already been mentioned, but beyond that, this charming college town has much to offer. Georgetown is shopper’s paradise for those in need of retail therapy, featuring everything from Nike to the highbrow Vineyard Vines ($30 key-chains–WHAT). There is also a bounty of fine restaurants in this area that are perfect for meeting with an old friend or an out-of-town guest. Stunning views of the Potomac River will also make the trip to Georgetown worth your while.

An archway in a picturesque garden at Georgetown University.
An archway in a picturesque garden at Georgetown University.

Georgetown University is striking in its beauty, with grand, uniform stone and red brick buildings and well-maintained infrastructure. The Lauinger Library is also open 24 hours (!) every week of the academic year, offering sleep-deprived students a much-needed study spot. Haunt the infamous Georgetown steps while you’re here to get a good workout and complete your tour.

Spooked at the famous steps from the movie Exorcist in Georgetown!
Spooked at the famous steps from the movie Exorcist in Georgetown!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Washington National Cathedral

Whether you’re religious or not, this place is a must-see before you leave D.C. On a sunny day, the exterior of the church is remarkable, cream-colored architecture and numerous arches and steeples, flanked by wide green lawns. However, that doesn’t even compare to the striking interior. Ornately decorated stained-glass windows depict iconic religious figures and saints, reflecting beams of colorful light throughout the main hall. Short of making a trip to the Vatican, this is the next best thing. Additionally, if you are so inclined, please attend a service here. The church is remarkably progressive in its attitudes towards social justice, particularly regarding LGBT matters, openly criticizing church leaders who disseminate anti-gay propaganda. It’s come a long ways from the days when it honored Robert E. Lee, the former leader of the Confederate Army who defended slavery.

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6. Yuppie it Up in Adams Morgan

During the daytime, this place is a fun place for families and singles alike to wander around and window-shops, exploring the variety of ethnic shops, used bookstores and restaurants, ranging from African and Tibetan wares to halal markets to the beloved “Amsterdam Falafelshop.” At Amsterdam: For only $5.50, you receive a warm pita pocket filled with three divine falafel balls, allowing you to fill the rest of the pita with your choice of UNLIMITED heavenly sauces, colorful veggies, baba ghanoush, and more.

Colorful wares inside an African and Middle Eastern trinkets store.
Colorful wares inside an African and Middle Eastern trinkets store.

$5.50 for this hearty combination of everything under the sun in a pita pocket. Money well spent!
$5.50 for this hearty combination of everything under the sun in a pita pocket. Money well spent!

At nighttime, this place becomes a veritable feast of college students and 20-somethings living la vida loca in D.C and enjoying its smattering of hookah joints, nightclubs and dive bars.

 

 

 

 

 

7. Korean Cultural Center Screening and (Free) Feasts

Twice a month, the Korean Cultural Center in D.C organizes FREE film Korean screenings and serves complimentary appetizers. An advance RVSP is required in order to attend these events, but it’s a mere two minute procedure to fill out the RSVP form. These events are incredibly well-put together and enjoyable, featuring bestselling Korean films and a spread of mouth-watering Korean goodies. I’m by no means a Korean film buff–I saw my first Korean film at the center a month ago–so these events are open to anyone who is culturally curious, willing to learn, and eager to experience great cinematography and cuisine (did I mention that it’s free?).

The most recent event featured a a heart-wrenching tearjerker of a film entitled Miracle in Cell No. 7 , as well as a spread of red bean and cream buns and tantalizingly sweet banana milk. Mmm. My ideal dinner. They occasionally display special exhibits, like the gallery of Hangul art (apologies for the crude simplification, but it’s essentially Korea’s version of calligraphy, done with a modern twist and flair) seen in the photo below:

Sasha (a fellow APAC intern and UCDC student) and I pose with the Korean artist in front of one of his beautiful Hangul works.
Sasha (a fellow APAC intern and UCDC student) and I pose with the Korean artist Moon Tae Kim in front of one of his beautiful Hangul works.

A heavenly cream bun, oh-so-sweet banana milk, and a synopsis for the night's film "Miracle in Cell No. 7." A must-see film, but be sure to have a box of tissues on hand--it's a tearjerker!
A heavenly cream bun, oh-so-sweet banana milk, and a synopsis for the night’s film “Miracle in Cell No. 7.” A must-see film, but be sure to have a box of tissues on hand–it’s a tear-jerker!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Politics, Protests, World Leaders–Oh My!

Given that D.C is the epicenter of U.S politics, this one should be self-explanatory. As a Political Science major, D.C is heaven in one metropolitan area, featuring an array of prominent politicians and gatherings of activists.

Recently-elected Somalian president Hassan Sheikh Mohammed speaks about challenges and successes in Somalia's first year of civilian, democratic governance since the start of the civil war in 1991.
Recently-elected Somalian president Hassan Sheikh Mohammed speaks at the Woodrow Wilson Center about challenges and successes in Somalia’s first year of civilian, democratic governance since the start of the civil war in 1991. The WWC offers several free events like this to the public each month.

Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida) speaks to students on a litany of issues, ranging from gun control to campaign finance reform.
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida) speaks to students on a litany of issues, ranging from gun control to campaign finance reform.

Justice Kennedy discusses SCOTUS matters, inserting references to Lady Gaga and Platform 9 3/4 and delivering this gem: "The nature of injustice is that you can't see it in your own time."
Justice Kennedy discusses the SCOTUS at the UC Washington Center, inserting references to Lady Gaga and Platform 9 3/4 and delivering this gem: “The nature of injustice is that you can’t see it in your own time.”

 

 

Calling for immediate change to reform the broken immigration system to keep families together and allow all Americans to live in peace in the land that they call home.
Calling for immediate change to reform the broken immigration system to keep families together and allow all Americans to live in peace in the land that they call home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. Join A Group or Volunteer in an Organization of Your Personal Passion

Ok, so I’ll admit, this one isn’t exclusive to D.C. However, D.C being the capital of the nation, it is pretty much second only to New York City in possessing the maximum number of organizations catering to whatever interest you may have. My personal passion is the protection of human rights; back at home, I’m an active member of Amnesty International, the largest grassroots human rights group in the world. My social justice nerves were getting antsy after a month of not advocating for righteous change, so I found a local Amnesty group at Meetup.com. I stopped by their meeting one day after work, and voila! I am now officially a dedicated East Coast Amnesty-er. In addition to participating in rallies, I’ll be lobbying on key human rights issues, including the need to pass the International Violence Against the Women Act (IVAWA) and getting members of Congress to adopt a prisoner of conscience.

Peacefully protesting in front of the Egyptian embassy (no worries--we had a permit) with Amnesty Int'l and demanding accountability for sexual violence.
Peacefully protesting in front of the Egyptian embassy (no worries–we had a permit) with Amnesty Int’l and demanding accountability for sexual violence.

 

 

Meeting with one of the staff members of Amnesty USA in their D.C office and discussing upcoming human rights actions.
Meeting with one of the staff members of Amnesty USA in the D.C office and discussing upcoming human rights actions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Merry Markets, Bargain Books and…Cranberries?

I can’t stress enough the low-quality and exorbitant prices at the ironically nicknamed “Communist” Safeway on Corcoran Street. *sigh* At least D.C has an abundance of farmers’ markets to tide me over. For a delightful Sunday brunch, stop by the Dupont Circle Farmers’ Market. The produce here is somewhat pricer than your typical Trader Joes’ bananas, but nothing that will break the bank. $3-4 for a bunch of pears and $2.50 per croissant will fill you up and leave leftovers for snacks later. Pro-tip: Look out for the produce that is slightly slightly nicked or overly-ripe–they’ll still taste great and last you a few days, but you’ll receive a hefty discount.

An assemblage of wonderfully decorated soaps for sale at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market.
An assemblage of wonderfully decorated soaps for sale at the Dupont Circle Farmers Market.

Afterwards, treat yourself to a shopping spree at the Eastern Market weekly street fair, just 2 blocks up from the Eastern Market metro. This market features various trinkets, antiques, furniture, women’s dresses, jewelry, salsa, potted plants, T-shirts, arts and crafts–you name it, it’s got it. Great place to pick up a unique gift for a friend. To quell the bookworm in you: Head over to Capitol Books just around the corner and navigate your way through stacks upon stacks of featuring every topic known to man.

Clearly, the Japanophile in me is making a comeback. Cute ceramics for sale at the Eastern Market.
Clearly, the Japanophile in me is making a comeback. Cute ceramics for sale at the Eastern Market.

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The workers show off their sense of humor at Capitol Books.

Also, just for fun: Being the nation’s capital, D.C will feature anything and everything wacky that passes through the USA. Ever seen those Ocean Spray commercials depicting farmers wading through a seemingly-endless sea of cranberries in comfy overalls? Well, take a look at this replica 24-hour ‘cranberry bog’ I witnessed at Union Station in D.C; it featured a farmer in overalls, harvesting machines, and as seen on TV, a field of floating cranberries.

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A cranberry taken from the bog is juxtaposed against one of the iconic red lights signaling the arriving of trains at the Metro station.
A cranberry taken from the bog is juxtaposed against one of the iconic red lights signaling the arriving of trains at the Metro station.

And those were the highlights of the wonderfully random things I’ve done since the federal government went awry. As a final note to cap off this post: While we may have lost all faith in Congress as a result of the shutdown, at least this church offers one uplifting message of hope to the American public:

5+ awesome points to this church! We federal workers may be worthless to Congress, but we are all 'essential' in the eyes of God.

The Matsui Center Welcomes Ellen Tauscher as its 2013 Matsui Lecturer

Every year, The Matsui Center hosts a distinguished former Member of Congress for a week long residency at UC Berkeley. During this week, The Matsui Lecturer speaks to classes, meets with students, and generally participates in the intellectual life of the Matsui Center and the Cal campus. He or she also delivers a primary lecture to the UC Berkeley community and the general public.

This year, we are happy tImageo welcome Ellen Tauscher, former member of Congress and former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. Her residency will begin on October 28, and over the course of the week she will be meeting with students and faculty to talk about issues ranging from health care to business and, of course, politics. Her primary lecture will focus on arms negotiations with Russia, and will take place on October 30, from 4-5:30 pm at the Banatao Auditorium at UC Berkeley. You can register for that event today.

Stay tuned for updates from this exciting week!

Dan Balz Speaks to UCB Poli-Sci Class

Obama felt that if he lost the 2012 election, everything that he had worked for would be gone. – Dan Balz, Oct. 7 Matsui Lecture

On Monday, October 7, Washington Post political columnist Dan Balz spoke to a packed room of UC Berkeley political science students and members of the general public, as part of the Matsui Lecture Series. The discussion ranged from the rough-and-tumble of the 2012 election to the hyper-polarization of the current political climate.

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