Thursday, December 12, 2013

America's Opportunity Crisis

The Conservative Women's Network will present "From Boston to Philadelphia: America's Opportunity Crisis and the Conservative Reform Agenda" featuring Senator Mike Lee today from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. at the Heritage Foundation.  You can RSVP for the event by e-mailing Camille Hart at

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Polar Express

No holiday season is complete for me without watching The Polar Express, based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. Families can enjoy the a 12-minute abridged version of the movie in 3-D at the American History Museum today from 11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Then you can check out one of the amazing exhibits!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dan Bongino at the Heritage Foundation

Not sure if this event will be impacted by the weather, but Marylanders may be interested in hearing Dan Bongino, candidate for Maryland's 6th Congressional District, discuss his new book Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top-Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away from It All at the Heritage Foundation today at 12:00 p.m.  The book discusses his journey from the U.S. Secret Service to a candidate for U.S. Senate. You can register for the event here.  

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Intersection of Economics and Culture

The American Enterprise Institute will host a discussion on the relationship between economics and culture.  Shaping Society: The Intersection of Economics and Culture will explore "the economic implications of cultural fragmentation, the perception of capitalism in Western culture, and how economists can incorporate cultural considerations into their analyses."  Check it out live here!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Friendly Tour at the Hirshhorn Museum

When you're running low on ways to add something new to your day, a tour with a docent at the Smithsonian is always fun.  Today, I recommend checking at the Hirshhorn Museum.  The docents have in-depth knowledge about the exhibits and can really bring them to life!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Deborah Solomon at the National Portrait Gallery

Deborah Solomon, author of American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell, will be at the National Portrait Gallery today at 12:00 p.m. discussing her new book.  In my uneducated opinion, Rockwell created some of the most romantic images of everyday American life.  This a great opportunity to learn more about him!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America's Greatest Virtue

Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America's Greatest VirtueOne of the greatest struggles for me as a Christian is to remain humble.  It doesn't take much achievement for "ambition, arrogance, and vanity" to take hold.  I'm intrigued by this upcoming Heritage Foundation seminar (December 3, 2013, at 12:00 p.m.) on humility, particularly how it impacts leadership and our political discourse.  The webinar will feature Dr. David J. Bobb, the author of the book Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America's Greatest Virtue.  I may have to add this to my winter reading list.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

AEI School Reform Talk with Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy is scheduled to speak on K-12 education reform at the American Enterprise Institute today.  AEI notes that the state has passed key education reforms, but still suffers from large achievement gaps.  You can check out the event here.  

Friday, November 29, 2013

Yoga: The Art of Transformation at Freer|Sackler

Tour: Yoga: The Art of TransformationThe Yoga: The Art of Transformation exhibition at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery is the first exhibition of yogic art.  The collection brings to life yoga's "...philosophies, transformational goals, and importance within multiple religions."  Learn about it today!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks for His Grace

Many times throughout life I applauded myself for an array of accomplishments.  At some point along the way I learned that it was all by the grace of God.  I'm so thankful for this valuable lesson because it has changed my life. Giving thanks for His grace today and every day!  Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's All About Jesus

"Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." Hebrews 13:15

Did you know that many pastors preach from the Book of Hebrews over the Thanksgiving holiday?  Hebrews 13:15 in particular is used to remind us to always thank God for the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for us all.  Can't wait to dig into this chapter with Lisa Harper in Hebrews: The Nearness of King Jesus in 2014!  It's all about Jesus! #NearJesus

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A New Chapter

I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to be a part of a new initiative by Lifeway Christian Ministries.  I'll be part of a team of social media enthusiasts that will help launch a new Bible Study by Lisa Harper called Hebrews: The Nearness of King Jesus.  I'm grateful to add intense and fun Bible Study to my Learn at Lunch activities.  I'll be blogging about the Bible Study over the next few weeks so I hope you'll join me on the journey!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Conservative Challenges in the 113th Congress

For this week's Learn at Lunch, I stopped by the Heritage Foundation to hear a lunch discussion by Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) on conservative challenges facing the 113th Congress.  Representative Scalise is chair of the Republican Study Committee, a "group of House Republicans organized for the purpose of advancing a conservative social and economic agenda in the House of Representatives."  I wanted to attend several events at Heritage for some time now.  They have great speakers and the forum topics are always relevant to the pressing issues of today.  I really wanted to see former Congressman Artur Davis' forum on educational opportunity during school choice week, but couldn't make it to that one in person.  The stars finally aligned and I was able to slip away during the lunch hour for this event. 

At the risk of it seeming like I've never run across a Learn at Lunch opportunity I didn't like, I would highly recommend checking out the Heritage Foundation for one of their forums.  It's no surprise that most of the conservative challenges cited were pretty much everything on the Democrats agenda.  But no matter your political persuasion, it's always engaging to listen to accomplished, smart people debate current issues.  If you're in D.C. and a wanna-be policy wonk like myself, you'll really be in for a treat.  It's also a pretty classy affair.  The event auditorium was lovely and they serve a great lunch afterwards.  I would definitely recommend checking out the events page to find a topic that interests you!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bringing Information to the Masses 18th Century Style

Visiting the Freer and Sackler Smithsonian Museums of Asian Art have been top on my to do list for weeks. Unfortunately my work schedule kept getting in the way. When I heard about a tour of the Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer's Japanese Illustrated Books exhibit, which runs April 6 - August 11, 2013 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, I made a point to attend.  The exhibit contains a collection of printed Japanese books from the Edo period (1615-1868). 
It was a fascinating exhibit and tour led by Ann Yonemura, Senior Associate Curator of Japanese Art. Prior to mass printing books, Japan had a long history of illustrative narrative scrolls that were primarily available for the elite. Woodblock printing made books and information on a variety of topics available to everyone, much in the same way the internet does today. Printing started off slowly in Kyoto, the center for crafts and art, in the 17th Century and then took off and spread to other parts of Japan like Edo and Osaka.

The books are in amazing condition considering they are hundreds of years old.   I especially liked the color prints and couldn't believe how they retained their color over time. The books are arranged by subject, including literature, science, religion, landscaping, and travel.  There is even a little sample of "erotic" books (you might want to rush the little ones past those).

The entire exhibit will be available online one day, but its definitely worth seeing in person. It's amazing to see how these handmade books stood the test of time and get a little window into Japanese culture.


Monday, March 18, 2013

The Pocahontas Challenge

The Mitsitam Café at the National Museum of the American Indian is one of my favorite places to eat lunch in Washington, DC.  They serve traditional Native American dishes with the best ingredients (fresh vegetables, whole grains, etc.).  My desire to go back to the café put the American Indian museum at the top of my Learn at Lunch list. 

My lunch was excellent. I had a great time just looking at the dishes on display, but eventually settled on the mustard greens and acorn squash. Both dishes tasted like they were cooked in my own kitchen, except more flavorful. I love fresh, whole foods and it’s so rare to go out to eat and not worry about whether there are preservatives or fillers in your meal. The Mitsitam Café didn’t disappoint and it was only a five minute walk from my office.

After lunch, I had just enough time to check out a short exhibit on native Chesapeake residents.  I especially enjoyed the “Pocahontas Challenge,” an interactive question and answer segment designed to test your knowledge of Pocahontas’ life.  Although I only missed two out of twelve questions, it turns out I didn’t know that much about Pocahontas. I thought she served as a guide for early English settlers and knew that she had a special relationship with one, John Smith.  I didn’t know she actually married another English settler, John Rolfe.  Their marriage helped maintain peace between the English settlers in Virginia and native tribes for a few years.   Pocahontas, her husband and their son eventually went to England  where she served as a kind of Native American ambassador and even met with royalty.  She died on the journey back to the Americas.

History really doesn’t do the story of Pocahontas justice.  To be fair, I may not remember the details of my history classes that well and perhaps teachers taught a lot more about her than I can recall.  However, even movies seem to focus more on her relationship with John Smith.  I would be interested to learn more about the latter years of her life. Being in an interracial (perhaps political) marriage, assimilating, meeting with all sounds fascinating.  Perhaps that will be the focus of an exhibit to come.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Royal Butterfly Brooch

I stumbled across this Smithsonian Magazine blog post earlier this week regarding the Royal Butterfly Brooch by Cindy Chao, a Taiwanese jeweler. The brooch recently became the first piece by a Taiwanese artist to be included in the National Gem Collection. After reading about it, I couldn’t wait to visit the National History Museum to see the new addition.  The piece appeals to so many aspects of my personality, my love for Asian art, brooches, and my own Taiwanese heritage.  I thought it would be a great way to brighten an otherwise dull lunch hour.

The butterfly brooch seemed modest compared to some of the other pieces in the collection.  I was surprised to read that it weighed 77 carats and contained over 2,300 gems. I almost completely missed the four large diamonds that make up the flat panels of the butterfly’s wings.  A lot of other pieces in the collection were of course stunning to look at, but not something I could ever envision myself owning or wearing.  Many of them were originally owned by royalty and I'm sure were worn for extravagant, official ceremonies hundreds of years ago.  Even though Cindy Chao's pieces can range from $15,000 to $1 million, the brooch felt a little more relatable and less ostentatious.

I'm glad the Royal Butterfly Brooch is part of the National Gem Collection. The "wow" factor of 80 carat earrings is always fun, but it’s also nice to see more simple, classic beauty that people can envision wearing. I'm now an instant fan of Cindy Chao's work. Although, I'll probably never be able to afford one of her pieces, I hope to own something similar one day.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

National Portrait Gallery - Bound for Freedom's Light

Thanks to the power of Netflix, I enjoyed a nice marathon of movies over the holiday weekend. My favorite category these days is Foreign Kung Fu Action and Adventure. Many of these movies are period pieces and I like seeing the depictions of life centuries ago. One movie that made it into my queue was Flowers of War starring Christian Bale. The movie was set in 1937 Nanking, China during a war between China and Japan. The movie provided an extremely graphic account of civilian war casualties.  It made me count my blessings that we live in a time and place where the possibility of war near our homes is rarely contemplated.  
Not considering that there would be a connection with Flowers of War, I visited the National Portrait Gallery's Black History Month exhibit Bound for Freedom's Light: African Americans and the Civil War today to learn a little at lunch. The exhibit included photographs and prints that highlight the role of African-Americans throughout the Civil War. The exhibit featured African-American soldiers, prominent figures during the Civil War like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, and a number of lesser known African-Americans that overcame great odds to escape slavery during the Civil War.

Instead of focusing on the triumphs of these African-Americans, I found myself thinking back to the movie and my impressions of war in general. First, there is always a great sense of pride for those who serve in the military. You could see it in the depiction of both Union and Confederate soldiers at the exhibit. Second, war has a devastating impact on communities.  From riots in opposition to the draft to military strategist who were known for employing tactics that were designed to cripple all aspects of the Confederacy, the exhibit clearly shows how the effects of war were felt far away from the battlefields.  Finally, I was struck by the role of women in war. Whether it’s protecting each other from harm or caring for wounded soldiers, women have always served in combat. 

Bound for Freedom's Light is a moving exhibit. We take so many things for granted today, it’s so important to have these visual reminders of our predecessors' struggles and how far we've come. An excellent opportunity to learn at lunch!