Trip to Washington DC – Smithsonian Museums Galore!

Catching up on my blogging!

You people must think I’m bizarre. I never post pictures of me partying it up in a club or some crazy party or even drinking. Instead I’m always talking about a museum of some sort. I’m just that type of girl.

Anywho, last Thursday my sister and I (also my bro-in-law ;D) had our annual hang out weekend in Washington DC. I took a very late MegaBus Thursday evening and took Friday off from work and didn’t sign up for volunteering on either Saturday or Sunday. A fun fill few days of relaxation and laughter ensued, as usual 😀

The big highlight was Friday August 12 – Museum Exploring!

To kick off the day, my Ate and Kuya showed me to the Smithsonian Castle, which is actually the main Visiting Center.

We got uberly hungry, so my sister using her trusty Droid found that the highest rated museum cafe was actually at the Native American building.

Each of the food sections were separated by Native American tribes. The Mitsitam Cafe features authentic Native foods found throughout the Western Hemisphere. The fish taco, which was actually had fried bread, the buffalo bean chili on cheese fries, and  buffalo burger was from the Great Plains station since buffalo was a reliable food source. I forgot where the turkey and berry sauce or the side dishes of stewed kale, stewed corns & yam, and pork came from, but everything was uberly YUMMY.

‘Twas expensive though 😦 Our bill ironically turned out to be the devil’s number (almost) 😛

Of course a trip to the Native American museum would not be complete without canoes & teepees!

And we’d be awful people if we didn’t at least attempt to vist our Nation’s Capitol….

…or the Washington Needle for the matter either.

I also absolutely adored the Botanical Gardens! The outside was pretty dead from all of the super heatwaves we’ve been experiencing, but inside the greenhouse was wonderful!

Also, found this “Red Cat’s Tail” plant under the “Medicinal Plants” section of the exhibit. Interesting…reminded me of the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland.

And what’s a day of adventure without some science?! A beautiful plant cell diagram from the Botanical Gardens:

And what would a trip to DC be without visiting the ever gigantic Smithsonian Museum of Natural History!

The hallmark of the entrance is giant elephants parading around!

The ever infamous Hope Diamond

Impressive skeletons of the Sea Cow, Leatherback Sea Turtle, and Swordfish.

And to end the post with some irony: A Christal with a crystal!

All in all a jam-packed, exciting, and fun time with my lovely sister and awesome bro-in-law 😉 Took a few days to really report it in a blog haha. Sadly I didn’t get to see my favorite cephlapod the Giant Squid, but he’ll have to wait for another visit. Sorry for such a pic-chubby entry!


My Mini Urban Garden

In light of the good weather, I’ve been watering my plants like crazy because I thought they needed it, but apparently I was wrong. I started seeing signs of brown spotting, and quickly thought they were suffering from root rot.

I couldn’t tell how my cactus was doing, so i stabbed it with a needle. A healthy cactus would ooze clear fluid, while a dead one would be dry. Neither happened. White stuff came out (that’s what she said ;D) instead, and I was surprised to find that I did not have a cactus.

Meet “Prickly the 2nd!” I bought him after my mother’s bypass surgery last year as a healthy reminder of the milestone. A common identity mistake, this plant is actually a Euphorbia, also an Angiosperm like a cactus, but from another family.

The two can be differentiated by the poisonous, soapy white liquid. It’s actually an ester derivative which can cause inflammation and irritation when in contact. Some are even considered cancer-causing agents. I’m glad I Googled it before poking at the the white jelly.

While I’m at it, I might as well introduce you to my other plants.

You’ve already met my small angiosperm plant plug, “Tempest,” who I got from the great storm of the Philadelphia Science Festival 2011. I still need to buy soil and transport this little guy 😦

The next two plants here are actually presents from my parents for my 21st birthday.

The “Money Tree,” also known as Pachira aquatica, is actually a tropical plant that can grow to almost 60ft in the wild. It had gotten it’s nickname from a myth that a poor man prayed for money and had magically received the braided tree, whose seeds he sold for money. It was popularized by Eastern Asian culture .

I appropriately named my money tree “Dinero,” which means money in the Spanish language.

Finally, we have “Poe-Poe’ named after the Kung-Fu Panda hero (so excited for the sequel!!!) because it reminded me of bamboo leaves. The tag classifies it as “assorted foliage,” but based on it’s characteristics I hypothesize it’s a Chamaedorea plant from the family Palmae
I used this awesome dichotomous key:

Hope I can invoke my inner gardener so these guys can flourish!


Sakura Sunday – A Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Festival

I’m so behind on my blogging! But it’s nice that I have a huge surplus of topics to write about lately.This past Sunday, my dear friend and former roomie (but now current apartment mate) Megan had volunteered at the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia as a Crafts Assistant.
It’s actually been running from March 4 to April 15. However two of their main events, the 5K Run and Sakura Sunday occurred on April 9-10. The event is hosted at the Horicultural Center, a 20-25 minute bus ride away from University City. Just $10 for entrance and your transportation fare.

Quite honestly when Megs asked me and John to arrive in the morning at the opening at 10:30 am, we were skeptical. What were we going to do for almost 6 hours in a small outdoor area?

The answer was a pleasant surprise.

First of all, just looking at all the different varieties of cherry blossoms took up a huge chuck of time & was ever so enjoyable. Some science behind the beautiful flower bearing trees:  The ones referred to as “sakura” trees are from the genus Prunus. According to the site there were over 10 different species of cherry blossoms there.

Besides gazing & photo taking fun, there were a ton of vendors selling Asian and Japanese merchandise or themed items. I came out with a slightly aching wallet, but a lot of loot. I’ve posted a few below, and the rest you will see in a month or so after a certain someone’s birthday  ;D

John got a plant and a practice sword we couldn’t stop playing with haha.

Also, there were many donation sites for Relief in Japan from the earthquakes. In one of charity booths, there was a really cool display of giant origami.

John was also able to participate in his very own origami as well. Meet Dilbert aka Dilly the crane.

Of course we went over to visit the crafting goddess, Megan. She was at the calligraphy table. Me and John tried our hand at the ancient art of brush strokes.

John’s says Samurai, Hope, & Japan I think. My paper says Samurai & Ninja. Hopefully our blotchy characters don’t translate to something offensive.

My favorite craft of all was the fish paper kites we got do. Hosted by the Philadelphia Art Museum, their booth was a huge hit. I waited like a creep til the last minute to do a fishy because A) I was slightly embarassed and more importantly B) I wanted as many kids to make theirs before supplies ran out. Lucky for the three of us, there were plenty of templates left!

Meet my darling Tuna Can, who I revamped after the Sakura Sunday to look like an Olympics mascot (by accident). And here is Megan’s swirly Miss Salmon! Finally, John & Bob, the flower-filled eye hole fish!

There were also a lot of events I couldn’t take photos of because I was too short and it was crowded: like drums & dance presentations, martial art expositions, a Harujuku inspired fashion show I sadly missed. I was able to see some cosplayers and  a few really well dressed sweet lolitas, however. I sadly didn’t catch my favorite group on  film because I didn’t want to disturb their lunch time XD

But the main event was one from home!

Megan’s homemade bentos! Not only did this girl go and give her time to volunteer on a Sunday morning, but she woke up at 6am to cook these up.

Absolutely delicious, made from love, and tots free! I’ll let the beautiful pics do the talking! Fruits, veggies, onigiri, shrimp, egg and sweet egg (tamago) and dinosaur shaped chicken and a rabbit shaped apple!

A wonderful display that was great to consume & look at. Love this girl.

So all in all, a superb Sakura Sunday!

Loss of Biodiversity = Human Health Hazard?

An uberly quick procrastination update!

I’ve been doing reports & assignments & readings & studying nonstop since the end of Thanksgiving break! Whew. Before waddling back to my studies for finals, an article I’d like to share with you.

Loss of Species Large and Small Threatens Human Health, Study Finds

According to this article on yesterday’s ScienceDaily page, a study has shown that a decrease in biodiversity, that is the variety of life found on Earth, is a hazard to human health. Many of the animal species being snuffed out are actually “buffers” for pathogens (disease-causing agents). For example, meaning that even though hypothetically if the human species remains resilient and survives, we will be more susceptible to getting sick. What’s even more interesting is that they’ve found that the species that tend to survive also increase the number of pathogens in their environment.

Yet another reason why research and funding in protecting and conserving our environment should be made more of a priority. I’m not a tree-hugging hippie, but the bizarre climate changes really concern. And also, working at the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Philly Water Dept. has definitely boosted my appreciation for the vast number of crazy and awesome animals and plants out there in the world, but are slowly disappearing and no one wants to learn about them.

But alas as Aniket says “we’re doomed.” Coming from an environmental science major, that’s quite terrifying. However, the degree of how doomed we are and the amount of time we have until that impending doom can still be changed however.

One of my favorite museum display for animal diversity at the American Museum of Natural History.

I don’t know  how, but this garden is “celebrating” biodiversity according to Wiki haha.

Shoot me, I’m an optimist even in my deepest sarcasm.