And For My Final Trick…

…I’ll direct you to the New Blog, because I’ve run out of space to upload the promised Santa Catalina Monastery Gifs (which were going to be my Final Trick) here! It’s been a fun ride here at ollieinamerica, and I actually considered upgrading to a paid account this time to keep the good times rollin’, but it was still just a little too expensive for my taste.

So I’ve added a blog component to the LAZYAC portfolio I unveiled back in December, and have kicked it off with what are perhaps the Best Gifs of All Time — some very important people told me that they have, in fact, Made Gifs Great Again. So yeah. Check ’em out.

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Oakland/San Francisco Part One

Moving right along…

Arrived at SFO with no problems only to instantly experience problems on BART (or “the BART,” as my “the Metro”-accustomed self was so inclined to say) when the train ahead of us broke down and held up progress/caused general mayhem for all the innocents on their way to Oakland. Even so, I arrived with ample time to meet Meghan (not to be confused with h-less Megan in LA) at her place before getting back on BART and continuing east to Walnut Creek to do “Swedish Christmas” with her family. This was a fun time involving Swedish drinking songs (sung primarily by Mrs. Notti while everyone else mumbled nonsense syllables in time), pickled fish, and detailed accounts of Alaskan salmon fishing provided by Father Dominic David (the family priest, and my partner-in-simply-giggling-along-to-the-drinking-songs, as we were the token non-Swedes at the event).

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The next day Meghan and I BART-ed (surely another inappropriate use of Metro-isms, but it stays) to Embarcadero; whence she showed me the Ferry Building, the nearby piers, the resident sea lions (or “boisterous pinnipeds,” as a sign so delightfully described them), Fisherman’s Wharf, and, from a distance, Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. This led us right to the Buena Vista, where her parents had recommended we get some chowder and an Irish coffee (as that’s where they claim to have invented Irish coffee on this side of the Atlantic). Following lunch we completed one last tourist requirement by catching a cable car (DING! DING!) to Chinatown then rushing home so Meghan could prepare for the rehearsal dinner she was attending that night.

From there I became the responsibility of Parker, best friend of Old-Roommate-Emily. He took me to the Berkeley Hills, where, had it not been a miserably rainy evening, we would’ve had a beautiful view of the East Bay. (The gesture was still appreciated.)  Then we grabbed sushi in Berkeley, and then we went to watch “the Golden Warriors” game (I couldn’t have sounded like more of a tourist if I tried, is what I’m trying to say) at his friend’s place in the Mission. One of the friend’s housemates had come into the possession of some fancy chocolates by virtue of some lucky mixup at work, and we all worked together to make this gif. Thanks, team! Good work.

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Coronado Island

Hi from Peru! Mar and I have been having a really great time since arriving five days ago (wow, is it just five days?!). We got a crash course in Lima (with a little help from old buddies Jess and Danny), made it to Cusco on the second attempt (thankfully without any *crash* courses– GET IT? CUZ THE WEATHER WAS TOO BAD FOR OUR PLANE TO LAND THE FIRST TIME!), rang in 2016 in the festive Plaza de Armas, hopped out to the Sacred Valley/Aguas Calientes to check out the extraordinary Machu Picchu, and returned to Cusco this morning where we’ve been killing time til our bus leaves at 10 tonight for Puno/Lake Titicaca.

BUT! So much still from California to get around to, so without much commentary at all here are the pics David had on his phone. They’re almost entirely from our brief tour of Coronado Island, but the first one is from the mini party/jam session my second night in town (except I was jet lagged and crashed after ‘jamming’ for about three songs) and the last one is from our first taco stop. Because #importantthings.

Nepali Protest at the White House

On Sunday Mar and I decided to put off other obligations by indulging in a bit of the culture DC has on offer with a visit to the Renwick Gallery. But, as the title may suggest, that’s not the subject of this post. (OH DON’T WORRY THOUGH, WE TOOK HUNDREDS OF PHOTOS AT THE GALLERY BETWEEN THE TWO OF US AND THERE’LL HOPEFULLY BE A REALLY FANTASTIC POST DEDICATED TO THAT AS WELL. BECAUSE THE WONDER EXHIBITION WAS OFF THE CHAIN.)

No– for before we made it to the gallery, we were distracted by a bit of brouhaha at the Renwick’s humble neighbor: the White House. We followed some people brandishing Nepali flags (recognizable in that Nepal joins Ohio in flipping the proverbial middle finger to conventions such as rectangles. For a more educated run-down on the flag and its history, click here!) to what turned out to be a pretty impressive gathering of Nepalis protesting a blockade we’d never heard of before.

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There was essentially a parade of people circling Lafayette Park waving signs and shouting, “Back off, India!” A few men manned microphones at huge speakers chanting, “What we want?! Lift blockade! When we want?! Right now! Nepal is landlocked! Transit is blocked!” They also, from time to time, warned the marching protesters to continue moving and to stay off the White House sidewalk with their signs. Indeed, it was a very well-organized protest, and one that seemed to be fairly effective in its outreach– we noticed a number of people pulling out their phones and looking into this mysterious global event as they passed by. (And it captured at least one local blogger’s heart enough to post about it :).)

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But of course, my heart had been captured by Nepal some years ago. I cite Kathmandu as my favorite city, and though I stayed fairly silent on the issue, when I allowed myself to really think about the terrible earthquake that devastated the country earlier this year (in the midst of distractions like my move to DC, and neighboring Baltimore being embroiled in its own turmoil) it struck me very deeply. I felt sort of ashamed to be so ignorant to the blockade that seemed to be putting the little country in its second state of emergency of the year.

Turns out, it just hasn’t been very widely reported in these parts, and while some of the protesters would like India’s backing off to be the simple solution, the story’s actually a little more complicated than that (as you might imagine).

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The nutshell version, as I understand it following a bit of brief research, is as follows: A new Nepali constitution was drafted in September. It disenfranchised one of Nepal’s ethnic minorities (the Madhesi), and so the Madhesi began to strike and block the main thoroughfares along the Indian border. As the men-with-microphones noted, Nepal is landlocked and the Indian border is paramount: the vast majority of Nepal’s resources, to include fuel and medicine, are brought in by that route. Oh, and the blockade has been going on for three months.

India’s true involvement with the blockade seems to be up for debate, and I won’t pretend to grasp all of the complexities in the countries’ relationship and history. The Madhesi have close cultural ties with northern Indians, and some are saying India has merely supported what is an otherwise Madhesi-run blockade. Others have alleged that the Indian government demanded that changes be made to the new constitution, and then acted on its own to intercept fuel trucks. Whatever the back-story, on Saturday, things escalated during the border protests and four Madhesi protesters were killed by Nepali police.

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“no humanity in nepal,” the sign reads.

For non-nutshell versions, I refer you to the following:

From the Guardian: “Nepal border blockade ‘threatens the future of the country itself,’ says UN
From Al Jazeera: India’s ‘blockade’ snuff’s out Nepal’s medical lifeline
From the Daily Signal: “Anti-India Protests in Kathmandu Reflect Frustration With Blockade of Nepal
Wikipedia’s article on the 2015 Nepal fuel crisis
And this DNA India article on the White House protests: “Madhesi issue: Nepali-Americans stage rival protests outside White House” (Yeah, it was a little hard to differentiate in the moment, but critics of the Nepali government were definitely present as well. I think that’s what you see in the above photo.)

The #BackOffIndia hashtags on Twitter and Instagram may also be of interest.

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It’s hard to know who’s really to blame in this issue, but if you’re inclined to blame India perhaps you’d like to sign this petition. (Personally, I’m wondering where the petition against drafting constitutions that disenfranchise your ethnic minorities is.)

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i guess no one told them barry wasn’t home during this protest…

[Update:]

I found this picture on Instagram’s #BackOffIndia and thought it provided an interesting first-hand insight into this crisis. It was from six weeks ago, so keep that in mind for any time references.

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The caption read:

Living in a country entrapped in political turmoil has been an eye-opening experience. Western media has failed at reporting on the current crisis in Nepal, so I will give a quick summary. In result of India’s disproval of Nepal’s new constitution, they have created an unofficial blockade on all imports coming into Nepal along the 1850km border separating the two countries. Because Nepal is a landlocked and developing country, it depends on India for almost 100 percent of their fuel- cooking gas, petroleum, and aviation fuel. Along with fuel, food and consumer items also come through the border multiple times a day. A country that was just getting back on its feet after the April earthquakes that killed thousands and displaced millions, is now finding itself close to another humanitarian crisis. Children are not able to get to school, as there is no gas for their school buses. Restaurants and tea shops are closing down due to the lack of cooking gas to make their food. And most importantly people aren’t able to make a living and get to work, since the lines to get petroleum for their vehicles take at least 7 hours, and the result is only a rationed 2.5 liters. This has been occurring for three weeks now. I am nervous about the food shortage, especially in rural areas and Himalayan villages. The streets were almost completely empty this evening. However, since this is Nepal, the country is persevering through this political issue with such strength and positive spirits. Today a new Prime Minister was voted into office, with future plans of making Nepal more of a self-sufficient country, decreasing the amount of debilitating dependency on neighboring countries of India and China. There are Facebook “carpool” groups being created left and right- where the few individuals with little fuel left post their starting locations and destinations, offering others *free* rides. And peaceful “Walk Kathmandu” protests have taken place. I am constantly in awe at the way everyone around me is looking out for each other, at every moment. Nepalis have hearts about 12 times bigger than the average human, and I have no doubt that we will come out stronger than before.

This Weekend in GIFs

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(not pictured: friday night comedy at the big hunt/massages in centreville/tea with dad/experiencing serious asian-grocery-store nostalgia [and lunch] at lotte [where do you think we got such fine amaranth-oolong tea and pomegranates?]/polaroid bike ride [the gifs that got away…]/date night at chaplin [there is ramen near us!]/post-army-10-miler lunch with fam [&practically fam. well done dad&andrea!]/lovely fall dog walk/breakfast-for-dinner [homemade, but half-inspired by those obnoxious mcdonald’s commercials])

H Street Festival

[Welp… a week+ late at this point and now I have both the Pope’s visit and Landmark Festival to catch up on too! Never mind that I’ve got two years’ worth of Michigan trips that I still haven’t mentioned…]

Last year, when Marlon lived in the H Street district, he helped put up posters advertising H Street Festival and landed us coveted Block Captain spots for the Fest’s set-up. We had to be up on the early side, but we got walkie-talkies and had to solve all sorts of problems like when the cops wouldn’t let the RedBull MiniCoopers in because the streets had been closed off already. Talk about a barely-averted crisis! Thank Jebus we were there to tell the cops what’s what (read: get one of the coordinators on the walkie-talkie to tell the cops what’s what) and save the entire festival.

sole surviving evidence of last year's festival: wearing mustaches as part of some gimmicky tequila shooting ritual. but hey, they were free! (and i guess it doesn't take much to get me to don a fake mustache.)

sole surviving evidence of last year’s festival: wearing mustaches as part of some gimmicky tequila shooting ritual. but hey, they were free! (and i guess it doesn’t take much to get me to don a fake mustache.) (also let it be known that the tequila-shooting took place post-volunteering.)

Even though we live all the way over in Shaw now, we had to get in on the H Street Festival action again this year. It was another morning full of strategic problem solving and walkie-talkie brandishing, and by the time noon rolled around and the Festival officially kicked off (ready to welcome the 100,000-or-so people expected to pass through at one point or another) everything was pretty much in place and ready to go.

(And of course I kid about Mar’s and my single[double?]-handedly saving/running everything– there’s a huge volunteer presence at the Festival and everyone cooperates really impressively to make H Street Festival come together. #WHERESTHEICETRUCK?!)

Of course, after rushing home to shower and take the dog out, we went back to enjoy the fruits of our labor. And who decided to join us for the day but Dear Old Mom and Dad! We met up with a bunch of Mar’s friends (and even one of my middle school friends from the Netherlands now living in the area!) and everyone had a grand ol’ time. I took a lot of pics and from those pics I made a number of gifs (naturally). Et voilà.

dyvine bbqOne of the first problems we solved was when an unidentified truck was parked in Dyvine BBQ in Motion‘s spot (turns out it was one of the H Street Festival supply trucks! Whoops!). After making a few exchanges on the walkie-talkie to sort it out, we had the pleasure of chatting with Chef Derrick, who was more than happy to let us take a look inside the smoker; and his associate, who assured us that if we wanted one of the Flintstone-sized turkey legs, we were going to need to act quick cuz they were going to go fast.

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This was our block, as it came together throughout the day:block 10 h st festival

Here are some balloons that were set loose (for shame!!!) :runaway balloons H st festival

A stroll down H Street during set-up:h street festival street

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After foolishly carrying/rolling some large tables for a silly distance early in the day and determining it to be a taxing experience, we decided that finding a better way was a problem worth solving. For Round Two of Table Transport we solicited a ride on a Gator, which made both moving the tables and getting street time lapses a lot easier.
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Another problem we had to solve was when the Grindstone booth was missing its tent. We found a spare (thanks to some walkie-talkie coordination, of course), but it was tied to a giant cinder block. Luckily Kathleen-from-Grindstone had brought her trusty skateboard, and she got in on the problem-solving too! We are so smrt!

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marlon meeting his heroes from ‘seinfeld’ was the _opposite_ of a problem-to-be-solved.

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Like any good festival, H Street Festival had live music. Marlee in the Mixx kicked off the day on the west end of the fest and they were  a w e s o m e. Check out their tunes here.

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before heading home we got the taco+tecate for $5 deal at chupacabra

before heading home we got the taco+tecate for $5 deal at chupacabra

DID I MENTION WE GOT WALKIE-TALKIES?

DID I MENTION WE GOT WALKIE-TALKIES?

my dad not embarrassing marlon at ALL by shaking his polaroid picture while singing (you guessed it) 'shake it like a polaroid pict-cha!'

my dad not embarrassing marlon at ALL by shaking his polaroid picture while singing (you guessed it) ‘shake it like a polaroid pict-cha!’

the really fantastic and well-lit polaroid mentioned above.

the really fantastic and well-lit polaroid being shaken above.

And to top off the evening we got to see the guy who made a reckless U-turn across the crosswalk we were attempting to cross get pulled over for a DUI! What a day!

[Bonus features: Turns out I totally lied and there is more surviving evidence of last year’s Fest!]

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