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A casual but PAC'd weekend

February 13, 2012   

As the terrible pun in the title alludes, this weekend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) descended on the District, and with it the major conservative players in the United States today. Friday featured the main events, namely Rick Santorum (and his trademark sweatervest), Newt Gingrich and MItt Romney addressing the large and influential crowds as they make their respective bids for the Republican nomination for 2012. As fate would have it, the three-day conference took place about a block away from my building in the nearby Marriott, meaning that we were treated to a few days of liberal protesters at the entrance to the Metro station that we take every day, a peaceful demonstration for the attendees of the conference.

Sure, it was a hassle fighting through some of the crowds and to have the neighborhood a little more crowded than usual, but it was a nice reminder of the significance of the city in which I'm spending the semester. Regardless of my political affiliations, it was definitely very cool to know that less than half a mile away some of the most important political figures were gathering, in part to try to influence the future of the country. As you might have guessed, I wasn't in attendance at the conference itself, as there are other people with whom I'd rather spend a Saturday, but I didn't have to be in the audience to feel the presence of the event. At least one student on my program went "undercover," so to speak, and she found it interesting, certainly, but as expected also found it a little difficult to stomach after a while.

So, what did I spend my Saturday doing, you ask? Well my roommate and a friend of his that goes to school at College Park decided to brave the cold and visit the Smithsonian, specifically the natural history version. Now, I've been to the Natural History Museum in New York, which is a little grander in scope, but of course there are some things this one can offer that others can't. One of these is the Hope Diamond, valued at roughly $250 million, as well as a number of other pre-historic fossils and remains. So that's one branch of the Smithsonian down, about 25 to go. At least I've got some time to kill until May...