Justin's Blog

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sooner than the last.

Hello, world.

A quick update, as I've got a whole ton whole ton of stuff to get done. That, and after I finish this I'll probably be going on my long run for the week.

Honestly, my life is nowhere near as exciting as it was a year or 18 months ago, if you define going "out on the town" as exciting. But if you count it according to my definition of exciting, I'd say that I'm still living it up over here in Chicago.

The first item of business is the apartment for next year. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it yet, but my apartment this year is really really difficult. Moving in was sort of difficult for Mum and Norman to tackle... and I'm thankful that I've got other places to lurk about in Chicago (libraries, other people's houses, etc.). My room is a safe haven in a place of broken stoves, leaky radiators, and messy kitchens.

SO. Naturally, I'm trying to make it better. A lot better.

I've got together a group of kids both from physics classes and old living arrangements (the dormitory)... totally amazing, incredible kids. Laid-back, all about community, and intelligent people. And made the proposal: "Howsabout we all live together next year?". So at this point, Sam, Connie, Theo, Bobby, Jon Gleason, and myself are all looking for an apartment in Hyde Park... a four-bedroom... it'll probably be pretty crunched, but I'm guessing that the vibe will be unlike any other. People always out and about, people to do things with, cooking parties, etc... But that's not all! Human aspects are cool... but monetary aspects are really sweet, too. Yeah, it'll be less expensive than this year. But we're going to have some sweet economies of scale.... not only groceries in larger quantities, but also the ability to split up magazine subscription costs, internet costs, and even pooling of money for huge purchases (bomb TV, anyone?)

I'm stoked.

Second item of business... hmm. Cece and I have been the same as always. Living it up, meeting for lunch, cooking decent dishes together, etc. Let's see.... there are a couple of tuna steaks defrosting in her refrigerator right now.... yeah. Lots of fish, some pasta, and a recent affinity for gorgonzola cheese and pears.

Thirdly, classes are wonderful. Physics is extremely fun to learn, and the professors are really pretty great. Yau Wah, my electricity and magnetism professor, reminds me spot-on of my mentor of a couple years ago at NASA... Padetha. Who is totally amazing and sweet. Same laid-back, let's talk about everything and then some, attitude. Such a happy guy.

I watched the Inauguration. It was wonderful. But that was two weeks ago now. Now I'm just watching the news to see what happens, and becoming pretty proud of the president's bipartisan efforts. It's so exciting to see something like this happening... honestly, this seems like a rebirth for America.

Working hard, etc.

I promised more frequent updates... but that means less photos. I'll throw in a few randoms.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Milkshakes and a Four Year Strong.


New set of legs.


Cece took me to a place called the Fire House, for my birthday.... totally coool. I burned my fingers trying for the first time to put the flame out with my fingerpads.


Sharing a word..... word.

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Rock out.

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Show dem pearly whites


Grand Lux... a restaurant in downtown Chicago. Immediately pre-break.

(Note to everyone... this was written nearly 3 weeks ago... on 01.07.09.. .sorry for the delay. I wanted to put pictures up.)

HELLO WORLD.
Break was wonderful, and it's wonderful to be back in Chicago.

I'm going to spit a full entry in only fifteen minutes... I'll add photos later.

In commemoration of the New Year (which is now about a week old), I'm going to give a top ten list... break and the start of school.


1-Grill a Thon. Probably the best ever. The new house made it ultra-easy to set up, and ultra-easy to pull down. We had a fire going outside (where I was char-char-charcoalling turkey burgers and hot dogs), a fire going inside (where people were hanging playing cards), and a Wii going on in the basement. More relaxed and more full of people genuinely glad to see each other than ever.... I'm stoked with how it went down.

And I got to socialize more than in any previous Grill a Thon.

Earlier this year, I was considering discontinuing the whole affair... but rest assured, definitely be having it next year.


2-Vegetable dip. Tired of buying dip from the store than had a bunch of random crap in it (preservatives, etc.) I decided to look up a recipe and make my own. I ended up making it a total of four times during break... each time a little better than the previous. If interested, I'll send you up a copy.


3-The grey man. And seafoom green.... I went out this break to replenish my all-but depleted wardrobe.... and only grey, white, and black things appealed to me.... until I bought the seafoom green polo


4-Classes.
Physics 18500... Intermediate Mechanics... awesome professor (funny, spirited), and cool subject matter. We're only on calculus of variations right now, but I know that we'll be talking a lot about non-Newtonian mechanics. Basically, ways to solve classical problems without using Newton's laws, for ease of solving in non-Cartesian coordinate systems

Physics 22500... Probably one of the coolest professors I've had yet at the University. He's so funny. And has the most funny profile picture on the board in the physics building. Half of the class is physicist elitism and ripping on all other disciplines, and the other half is learning Intermediate electricity and magnetism. It's all out of the mid-level E&M Bible: Griffiths. Good stuff, and essential for a physicist.

French 20100.... Laughable. I placed into 20200, but decided to take this one for both scheduling reasons and knowledge reasons. Good thing, too. I'm still lost half the time, and sometimes I just laugh at how lost I am. However. i learned my lesson from math of last fall quarter, and am working really ridiculously hard to get this right. Basically, total immersion. Changing all my language settings on my computer and iPhone to French, and reading the news in French. Well... not total immersion. I allow myself pop punk in English.

BIOS 20185.... Ecology and Evolution. A continuation of biology from last quarter. First week has been basically evidence for evolution. Which is pretty cool and terribly interesting.


5-So this wasn't quite a top ten, but I've got to split. No worries.. I'll try to make up for it with pictures.



-Diggs.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The customary three weeks has elapsed....

The start of the school year means the start of more frequent updates... so that I don't have to go on these binge updates... which are probably far more boring, and far less of a time-waster than the more frequent updates. And who doesn't welcome diversions, especially after nonstop hours of work?

Savannah
Norwalk Raceway Park
Jason to school
Glass Menagerie with A. Liz
Visit to Jason at OSU
Me to school

Savannah, GA
Fourish, maybe fiveish days after I came back from Houston, I immediately left for Savannah, GA to visit Cece and her mum. I'd pretty much been waiting for this trip since May of the school year. And because it was during the school year that the trip was planned, we were all (our group of travelers) able to coordinate so that Niamhbaby was also in Savannah for at least part of the time that I was. Which was sweet.


We got Savannah, GA drowning out the window side.

Two words (well... maybe three) can summarize my first impressions of Savannah:
Effortlessly beautiful.
A short distance away from the center of the city (but still within the city limits) lies scenery in the abundance of rural America scenery (wheat, corn, soybean fields). But instead of cultivated fields, there are only marshes as far as the eye can see. I was taken aback more than once on my visit by how amazing it was.

Yeah, and I won't deny that the backseat of Cece's mum's Benz CLK convertible helps. I've actually fallen for a car. Not only is it the most comfortable machine I've ever found myself in, but its features make it seem less mechanistic than it is human. When entering the backseat, the front seats not only fold forward and slide, but the car actually lifts them up and forward to allow easier passage for the backseat passengers. Once the front seat passengers are seated and ready to cruise, the car actually offers them the seatbelts by pushing what can only be equated to hands from the seatbelt recesses. You've got to see it. Oh, dear. And the ride, and the engine.... Okay. I'm done.

Day one. Straight outta the airport, straight to the beach. The not-so-aptly named "Redneck Riviera", two or three miles from Cece's mum's house, is right in the middle of the aforementioned scenery. Buuut it's swimmable. Highlights? Four dolphins cruising along, not 20 feet away from us. Sweet wooden poles sticking out of the water, perfect for climbing, considering the danger, and then jumping. Sushi... Once finished, the three of us (Niamh, Cece, and myself) headed to downtown for a shared meal at Southern-cooking queen Paula Deen (Steven McQueen?)'s restaurant. A ghost tour of downtown Savannah rounded off the evening. Aaaand the ghost tour really wasn't too lame. It was more of a history excursion with a ghost-story hue.

Day two. My first visit to the Atlantic at Tyndall Beach. Then, another excursion downtown for ice cream before taking Niamh to the airport in Edgar, the elderly E Class. At this point, Cece and I are on our own. Dinner and a failed attempt (the movie wouldn't download because the wifi was acting up) at watching the Maltese Falcon took care of the rest of the day.


Cece thought that this was the greatest thing since sliced bread.


This bird is a fan of sliced bread. Which is why he's on the umbrella's head. As for me?: "No thanks, I'd rather eat radial tire tread."

Day three. Cece and I take Edgar out to Hilton Head Island, about an hour northeast of Savannah. Well... we did stop at an outlet mall on the way, but it left us... bored. Dinner at Hilton Head was at a restaurant called Marley's, which I think I'd heard of or seen on some shirt somewhere. Tasty stuff, and it was the early diner menu... so $14 for chowdah, entrée, bavanade.


I get embarrassed when my hairline shows... like in this photo. But I've heard that it's an okay photo... so I'm posting it.


Set the scene... a dark and stormy Hilton Head Isle.

Day four. Dipset.


Norwalk Raceway Park.... excuse me.... Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
Being out of state all summer obviously makes it difficult to spend time with even favorite relatives. So it was time to spend quality time with Dad and Uncle Ray. And what a better way than by watching cars fly down a quarter mile in 10 seconds? We spent an awesome day at the track checking out some vintage drag racing, eating a quart of ice cream each for 99 cents (no, really! It was such a deal.) and chilling with some dineables provided by the one and only Aunt Debbie. Amazing day, and certainly good for some daydreams.


Note the sandwich in my other hand (not pictured).


Jason Madison

Like Billy Madison.... but not. Get it?
So over the past two weeks, I've been down to (The) Ohio State University twice. First, Mum, Norman, and I dropped Jason off at school and set up his room. That was fun. Then about a week ago, my good friend Jon Krause and I cruised down to visit and chill with Andy and Ossama (two more good friends). Definitely good.


The Glass Menagerie
I may have recently mentioned the DNC outing with Jason and Aunt Liz... I'm hoping that I did, considering how awesome it was. I'm almost sure that I did.

Well, Aunt Liz invited me out for a follow up session: a viewing of my first professional production, The Glass Menagerie. I'll just say that however tragical the play was intended to be, it was all a comedy for me. I left the theatre completely impressed not only with the production, but with how much I genuinely enjoyed the playgoing experience. Before most people arrived at the theatre, there was "preproduction" show. Basically, one of the actors came out and talked with the audience for a bit, telling us about Tennessee Williams' life and influences... it was really interesting, and extra-helpful, especially for an amateur viewer. Highly recommended.

Ah, yes. My ticket, market value $49, was only $10. Because I'm a student. Lovely.


And now.
I'm at the University of Chicago.

And there's lots of story to be told there. Happy ending.
Pictures and details coming soon.

But a few details for the moment: classes.

Modern Physics.... quantum mechanics, etc. I'll fill you in as I go.
Lecture MWF 11.30am-12.20pm
Discussion Tues 4.30-5.20pm
Lab Wed 5.30-9.20pm

Biological Diversity.... Main question: How did all this awesome alive stuff on earth get to be this way? Totally amazing professor.
Lecture MWF 9.30-10.20am
Lab Fri 1.30-4.20pm


Strange organism. Cousin of fungi.

Mathematical Methods for Physicists... essentially a framework for mathematical physics... but to me, it's math for the physicists who don't like pure math.
Lecture MWF 10.30-11.20am
Discussion M 4.30-5.20pm

Climate Dynamics of the Earth and Other Planets.... climate modeling. stoked.
Lecture MW 1.30-2.50pm
Lab sometime...

Until next time...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Delayed.

It's what's going on right now.
Jason and I are currently sitting in the Detroit airport (really sweet. highly recommend choosing this place for a layover over most places) at gate B3. It's raining, holding up our flight, delaying our return flight from a visit to the host of relatives in Houston...

The last time I updated was August 17th... right at the tail end of the internship, six days before my return to Cleveland. I returned about a week prior from a visit to Cece in Chicago, and I was looking at planning the end of the REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates).

August 20th.
Poster session wrapping up the summer of research at the University of Washington. Basically a big pow wow where all the students who conducted research at the University of Washington get together, put posters on easels, and alternate between walking around inquiring and explaining their research. Fairly successful... got to talk to some cool people and listen to some sweet ideas.


Strange man with my poster.

The sweetest one I heard was of a new concept for energy use. Research is being done on harvesting heat from relatively small systems, making energy usage more efficient. The details are really really cool, but the important part is that we can harvest energy from waste heat and feed it back into the device.

August 21st.
Sweet sort of wrap-up dinner with rest of interns.
Had my first Korean food.... which was interesting. Doused it in hot sauce.
And then went out for an unusually conversive bubble smoothie bit. I think that I mentioned bubble tea/smoothies back on in the entries.... but for those who don't know, bubble smoothies are basically smoothies with balls of tapioca called Boba. They've got a strange gel-ly consistency and are sort of chewy.... you've got to try it.
Unusually conversive because it was pretty much a "what do you think about me" session. Long story short, people generally like each other, and I am still strange. But not creepy.

August 22nd.
Last day.
Get bike packed by local bike shop. Regret that I can't buy them alcohol, after they squeezed me in last minute (ahead of a three week waiting list).

August 23rd.
Glory glory hallelujah.
Fly back home after pickup by rideshare van.
Be amazed by the landscape/waterscape at the new house.... totally spectacular. Especially because I enter at night. Looks like it's straight out of some book on home and landscape design. The planters guarding the front door totally make the front of the house.


There's a kitchen inside. We keep the cars in the garage.

August 24th.
Bill Goldstein shows that he knows how to have a good time, and we unite for the annual summer concert at Blossom Music Center. I realize that while I may not be a major fan of most of Bernstein's music, he wrote some beautiful ballet pieces, and West Side Story pretty sweet. "Somewhere" deserves all the praise it receives.


Chucks on the lawn. You can't see... but they're low-tops.

August 25th.
Birthday party for awesome dude David, hosted at Case in front of a dormitory by good friend Rochelle.
Ashwin shows up (totally premeditated) and we schmooze for awhile.
People at Case have totally crazy schedules full of ridiculous nine hour days and the like. Good luck to all you Case kids. Keep on trucking.

August 27th.
After having planned it for years (literally), Jason, Aunt Liz, and myself finally go out with the intention to have dinner and see a movie. I take them to Aladdin's... a Lebanese American place near the theatre. They totally reject it. I still like it.
Aaand instead of a movie, we end up returning to Aunt Liz's apartment and watching the Democratic National Convention. Which turns out to be really sweet, with some good speeches and surprises.
The "Night Out with Aunt Liz" was definitely worth the wait.

August 28th.
Finally, Padetha (former NASA mentor, current friend and guide), his son Lynn, and I have a coincidence of an open night, and are able to have dinner together. The meal is spectacular (as usual) and the usual five courses long... all cooked by Padetha. One of Lynn's friends from high school/Ohio State is able to come, and conversation is thereby enriched, Sweet stuff.

August 29th.
Return home from Padetha's at 2am, after having watched the Bourne Supremacy with Lynn and friend.
Leave for Texas at 1.25pm from Akron Canton Airport.

NOTE: Akron Canton Airport is a funny place.... probably the most stand-out quality of the whole compound is how not outstanding it manages to be. In this outstanding mediocrity it makes its mark... no Max and Erma's or Friday's.... but an Arby's accompanied by a lone Great Lakes Brewing Company bar. The gates aren't the cool combination of alphanumerics, but simply numbered. Why? Well... there aren't enough gates to necessitate leaving one's own two hands in counting them. Jason and I left from Gate 7.... and quite literally walked onto the plane, using the steps instead of the usual jetway.

August 30th-September 3rd.
Houston, TX.
Houston proved once again to be a really really great place to visit. I hadn't been there in a little over a year, but it seemed like I'd left just yesterday... even with the changes that have taken place.

First off, Aunt Cathy is seven months with child.... and looks it. It's really pretty sweet. BUT. She isn't showing any of the normal "pregnant woman" symptoms that I often hear spoken with dread. I looked everywhere in their halfway-remodeled home (it looks crazy.... stuff is everywhere) but couldn't find any raging hormones, random food binges, or animosity towards anyone. I'm going to chalk this up to Michael, who is even more amazing than when I saw him in late May/early June. Cathy's always laughing and smiling... the new kid could not be arriving in a better home. Good luck on naming.


Michael, with bowl-ling. (Like duckling.... but not)

Second. The Vozars are largely the same. Which is a good thing. The only thing in that household that might have changed is Kim's William, who has gotten way more talkative over the past year.... which means that I really got to meet him for the first time this year. He's a great dude with musical taste, and definitely gets along well with the Vozars. A+.

Houston, in summary, was awesome. Jason and I had never spent as much time with the duo of Cathy and Michael as we did this past week... and I think that the comments two paragraphs ago explain my impressions fairly well. From the annual Grandma-provided Mexican meal to the newer concept of sushi (Jason actually tried some. Good job.) to the (horrendous) Reno 911: Miami to the movie tavern plus "Death Race" (it's a movie) experience, days were full.

(Extra note: WestFest. The largest gathering of white people south of the Mason Dixon line.... basically a Czech heritage festival. Totally crazy (read as: extra mellow) with lots of polka and tons of sauerkraut and sausage. I think that the only thing one needs to be Czech is a strange affinity for polka. And strangely enough, I think I have that affinity. For maybe 1/2 hour.)


Translation: "Enter at own risk: Extreme whiteness beyond this point"


Not pictured: Sign with message: "We warned you about the whiteness"


Repast.

Thanks a lot, Houston. I walk away with extra belly fat, seven mosquito bites, and a new blog entry.

September 3rd (stage two... after the flights).
While Houston may have been great, the return home (escorted by Norman) was (understatement, here) welcome. You all know that I've spent all my time away from home these days... returning is always so great. I realized after walking in the door how much of an oasis this place is. The location is so good, the house is second to none... In every sense of the word, the house is an oasis.

Two pounds of fruit later, after some yogurt, granola, and figs, here I am.


This is not me. It's the local entertainment: Saydee.

Next week:
Savannah, GA.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Deeeeaaaaath trap!

A "deliverable" in the world of science/undergraduate research experiences is basically something to be handed in. Research is so unlike most of the jobs out there in that there aren't really frequent, regular submissions (like TPS reports.... yeeeeeaah...) or anything of the sort. Really, from my experience (limited, so don't quote me), the major check-ups in research come mostly at the starts and ends of projects. Proposals set the entire thing in motion and published papers usually finish off the bunch. These could be called "deliverables".


The hot setup.

So this past week could probably carry the moniker of the "Week of Deliverables". Thursday, I gave my summary presentation, "Methods for Two Photon Absorption Polymerization in SU-8 and Subsequent Development of a Miniature SU-8 Waveguide Hydrophone" and also had to submit a poster on the same subject. The poster will be used in a "poster session" this coming Wednesday. At this poster session, basically everyone in the research community who was engaged in summer research will stand around next to a poster of their work. People can then walk around and ask questions. In an anomalous break from my usual style, I submitted the poster a day late. Well... I also was supposed to submit a summary paper yesterday, buuuuut in another strange break from my usual modus operandi, I turned it in at like, 12.30am this morning.

But!

It's all finished, and from here on out, all I have to do is enjoy doing research. I'll be able to explain everything all more thoroughly when I get home (it's really not hard.... my presentation was probably the simplest of the group, and the underlying concepts are really to understand) but the next step of the project is to basically make a reeeallly small acoustic sensor. It should be cool. With any luck, I'll be able to bring home some "deliverables" to you all or even post the device in action.

So. Death trap. WTF, I know, right? I wanted to go in today to do some research, because Antao, my mentor, said that he'd be there, and if I want to accomplish all of this stuff, it's going to take some sacrifice. Well, I walk into the building a bit early, and am totally bombarded with this ridiculous smell. It was like... acetone and heavy duty alcohol, and a bunch of other stuff that I really shouldn't have breathed in. My respiratory pathway still doesn't feel right. I stood there for a second, and said "No way." My plan is to go back at 11am, when Antao expects to be there.

So I bolt from there. And go to the nearby cafeteria sort of thing... walk in, walk around, and by the stove, there's a caraaazy aroma of natural gas. Way to go, University of Washington.

Okay. That said (this is going to be a beast of an entry.... can you tell?), things have been good.

As many of you probably know, next year is going to be life out of a dormitory and out of a household.... which means the necessity to somehow get nutrients in a manner not prepared by others. Which will probably (hopefully) require learning to cook fairly well. So last weekend, Cece and I lived it up and cooked for like... 6 hours. If you want to include the grocery store run (we're insane grocers... like, honestly. The time figure will offer you an idea), which was like, 1.5 hours, we were at cooking for probably 7.5 hours. Probably should've been only like, 5 hours total. But oh well. The fruits of the labor, accompanied by poorly composed photos:


We found a table just like this at a local furniture store.
For half the cost. HAHAHAHAhahahaa.

Herb and Lemon Goat Cheese Spread

This was interesting. Goat cheese is bomb. But leaves a stomach feeling strange.

Mediterranean Salad

Lots of random stuff mixed with olive oil and more random spices.

Pasta with Roasted Provençal Vegetable Sauce

Probably the most poorly composed picture on this entire blog. Way to go, Justin.

Baked Cod with Orange, Caper, and Olive Sauce

Respect!

Okay. I'll stop being an idiot. Cece and I hadn't seen each other for 6 weeks, so we split a ticket for me to come to Chicago. It was... really great. After meeting at the airport, we went back to her apartment and spent like, 2 hours trying to choose a menu to cook (ended up being something that would come out of south France) and then went to lunch before grocery shopping. I never actually realized how much I would miss Chicago--there are two strange parts about coming to Chicago from Seattle, both of which stem from the difference in topography of the cities. Seattle is a really hilly place. So when you look down streets, really all that can be seen is asphalt, because you're looking straight into the side of a hill. And downtown, the streets are not really set up on a grid system like Chicago. So returning to Chicago, and being able to see for miles down streets, and to look between buildings and see blue sky was strange.


This was also strange. Ask me how many buildings are in the fold of that omlette du fromage.


We tried taking this picture like.... 35 times, to send to my brother. Failures, every time.

I've also become relatively good friends with one of the Dominican priests around here, Father José. We go out from time to time and see movies, have coffee (espresso), and are planning on maybe a hike this coming week. Today are going to go out for sushi, saying as this is my last weekend here.


Look in the bathroom! World Class!

Speaking of---I'm really stoked to come home! It's seriously been nine weeks since I got here, and even while I've spent time at home and in Chicago, it's not really the same as coming home for an extended stretch. The knowledge that the next real obligation is still weeks away is refreshing, and while it could lead to personal lack of motivation to learn or do anything "worthwhile", I think that it'll have a good effect on me. Relaxing for once will be really great, and being able to live life on my own terms. There are a lot of scientific questions that I'd like to read about, and I know that I'll have at least a little bit of work for the CIM-EARTH team in Chicago.

I'm also going to be shipping my bike back home, possibly as checked luggage. It's really a great bike, and by bringing it home, I can avoid having to find both a new owner for it and a new bike for me. A few simple upgrades wouldn't hurt, though, so I might have my work cut out for me when I get back. But if you're in the Cleveland area, now that I know I can ride at least 22 miles before a rest, email me. I'll get you on my list.

One more note. I promise. Then I'll leave. Pretty stoked to be coming home, too, because I'll be able to hulk up on cooking and eating real food. I swear... here, I couldn't have gone to the dining hall for every meal, because I would've been out of money after the first few months. And while the convenience stores that honor the university card around here are fairly well-stocked... I've pretty much been sustaining myself off of fruit and cereal in the mornings, Odwalla and Clif bars, muffins, burritos.... yeah. I'm looking forward to making some real food.

Kids. I'm out.


By the way, my lungs are feeling better now. But still no word from Antao.

Oh. And I won't be proofreading this.

Oh. We also made a cake. Double chocolate financier. Bomb.

Oh, yeah. I forgot about that. I got a haircut, too. A woman named Frankie, covered in tattoos, cut my hair. It was spectacular and one of the best haircuts I've ever had. If you're ever in Seattle, get your haircut at Borseno's Barber Shop, ZIP 98195.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Hoooooooooooooooooooooooooh man.

So the past five days have passed as though they were one day of 12 hours. TOTALLY ridiculous. The team for the project in Chicago was informed that their deadline had been pushed forward a week... surprise! A mad, weeklong scramble thus ensued, leaving everyone involved dead or battered by today, myself included.

So right now, having submitted my vital part a few hours ago, I am sitting outside on Chipotle's patio, breathing legitimate fresh air, feeling legitimately refreshed, and simply breathing. What a week.

It seems like custom these days... I'm going to hit you guys with another list.

1-Last weekend. Amazing. Mum, Norman and Jason gave the amazing veterinarian the dog, and flew on over to Seattle to visit me. They hadn't been on a real vacation in like, four or five years, so I'm really glad that they got over here. Seeing new parts of the world is really sweet.


The Pacific Ocean. First time that either of us brothers have seen an ocean.


Greeting party.


Yeah... the state park coastline is apparently a cruising zone. We saw horses, trucks, and... a Honda Odyssey minivan. What wildlife!


Jason has had far too much experience with self-portraits...


Pike Place Market is a must-see. Wal-mart's stand is the second to last. There are 667 stands.
I don't /really/ mean that. I don't think...


For some reason I like this photo. Wow. It just started smelling like maraschino cherries where I'm sitting.
Awesome.


A /gigantic/ road course. No... a statue park.


For those not in the family (teachers, random viewers): Please excuse this photo. It's for the family, and I just like it.


Olympic National Forest.


People ski here in the winter. How? Snow covers the tops of the trees.
They ski over the trees.


The mile high club. With twist cones. Byarrr.


2-CIM-Earth. Yeah---already got into this one. This was.... all of this week. Let's hear it for working hard.

3-Monday saw the start of swimming lessons. Even though I only know like, 3/2 of a stroke at this point, I still feel comfortable telling you all that I am really enjoying myself and learning a lot. The more practice and the more time I have in the water, the better and easier it'll get. Definitely a plus.

4-Mmmm. Related to swimming. Picture this: 20 minutes to swim lesson number one, and I get out of the lab. Hooly cow. I've got to buy a swim suit.

Rush to University Village--the local place to buy stuff (like clothes). Look quickly in a number of stores, make a quick decision that I don't want to pay $70 for a pair of shorts, and reassure myself that I need a pair of swim trunks (now in 10 minutes).

The end result? I now own a pair of Gap Kids XXL swim trunks. They're tough to get on and off.... but they stay on faaairly well for the most part. And they're pretty mellow in style terms. Maybe I'll get new trunks when I get home. Maybe not.

5-Yeah... I started eating a third jar of peanut butter and 1/2 box crackers every night. Fine for when you exercise a lot... not fine for when you have a weekend coming up of mostly sitting in a car going to the most amazing places on earth.

The end result? Ha ha ha.


6-/Really/. You'll note that my week was pretty bloody boring. Honestly, I've been working nonstop.... interruptions only for brief and sporadic exercise and a little bit of music.

7-Dad sent me a guitar. Wait. Actually, dad sent me a finely shaped piece of firewood. Wait. Dad sent me a hollow 4x6 with a 1x4 attached to one end. There we go.

But it makes enough to sound to make it seem like I've got people around me, and that's what was needed. I'm looking forward to coming home to the full size Martin. Thanks, Dad.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Almost a month.

It's been nearly a month since I last updated.
And much has happened.

Get up for the breakdown:

1-I'm actually in a fairly good mood right now... I'm sitting my usual Barnes and Noble in the University Village. But I've just eaten a handy bowl of pasta and a beastly Jamba Juice smoothie (Peanut Butter Moo'd) and am not hungry or thirsty for my usual decaf doubleshot on ice (available at any Starbuck's nationwide). The wifi that I usually use in here isn't working right now... sort of a bummer, because I've got work to do, but I'll just send this from somewhere else. I'm planning on walking a little bit north on NE 25th (the adjacent road) to a place I spotted one day... The Rooster Cafe, I think. Or Rooster Espresso or something or other.

Maybe then I'll be thirstier for my decaf doubleshot on ice.

2-Hmm. Research has been going really really well, lately. If you're just joining us or you've been out of the loop, I'm basically building really small 3D stuff by using a laser to turn a good into plastic. Like... really small. The way I heard a fairly experienced practitioner describe it, "I can create a man with full features down to individual hairs.... so small that to him, your fingerprint would be as giant as a normal size man in the Grand Canyon.

That's bloody small.

I'm at the stage right now where this week should see a lot of improvement. Just last Thursday, I drew my first stuff in the goo (called a photoresist, on account of its reactivity to light). Hopefully by the end of this week I'll be able to tell you all that I've built at least a simple structure.

Oh! And I'm using a microscope with a camera on it... so you'll all get some sweet shots! Maybe next time I'll write the whole blog entry in the space of five square microns.

Oh. and to whoever says, "Why is he doing this?": electronics all around us run on these things called transistors and integrated circuits. The concept that my mentor is really stoked about is to use this technique to break out of two dimensional integrated circuits (i.e. flat, on a plane. they're drawable on a piece of paper) and get in to three dimensional circuits (you can't draw these on a piece of paper. But you might be able to fold a piece really cleverly to build an origami model of a three dimensional circuit). Long story short, we'd be able to fit a lot more circuits in a lot smaller space, making it possible to have smaller electronics. Which is sweet. Reeeally small electronics.

3-Speaking of the internship.... this is the end of my 5th week. I have 5 more weeks.

4-There've been a lot of intern-related social activities lately... last night we went to Safeco Field and saw the Indians (fancy that...) play the Mariners.


Location location.


I bought these. I shared these.

The Indians were destroyed. But I got to miss 6 innings of the game to buy food and watch a good sunset off of the west side of the stadium....

5-I was THIS close to sleeping in front of the AT&T store to wait for the iPhone... a security who was supposed to be in front of the Apple store at UVillage was standing in front of the AT&T store. He said he'd be there until morning. I went to my room and got my pillow and sleeping bag... but when I got back, he'd already remembered where he was supposed to be for the evening. Too bad. I'll never really have another chance to sleep outside in Seattle, on the street.

Honestly--I would've been the safest guy in town (my personal security service) and first in line. Sweet.
Furthermore--I'm a college student! I do research during my day.... and then come back from that research---straight into MORE research! I don't have a family to care for, and I don't have major responsibilities. It would've been priceless.

6-Nevertheless, I waited in front of the store on Saturday morning for 3 hours and got me an iPhone.

7-I've been... um.... active. I'm pretty sure that I ran between 9 and 11 miles today. I've run 8 miles twice since we last spoke... a couple 22 mile voyages by bike, and one unsolicited 44 mile day. I rode to Redmond, thinking that there'd be a bus that could get me back to the University.... but alas, it wasn't going that route, due to a closed bridge. Great. I had eaten dinner, though, and had enough calories to get me back.


My Fuji.


The road to Redmond.

For you worriers--I have lights on my bike, wear a helmet, take a phone, and am on a bike/walk only trail. So there.

8-Um.... I start swimming lessons next Monday. I know... I took them when I was little (I'm still young).... but I don't really remember much. My status right now is that I'm able to get from one place to another... but I can't do it gracefully or quickly.

The lessons are every Monday and Wednesday from 4.45pm to 5.45pm starting July 28th and concluding August 20th. $25 for a life skill? Mos def.

9-For all of you saying, "Hmm.... this Justin guy sounds decent, and like he has deep pockets... I'd like to have him take me out to eat.":

I return home August 23rd.
There are rumors of some time out of state from like... the 28th to September 3rd.
I will be spending time in Savannah, GA with a good friend of mine from September 9th through 12th.
Jason goes to school on September 21st.
My first day of classes in Chicago is September 29th. But I might go a couple of days early to move in and such. I'm flexible.


Post-solitary sushi.

It's going to be great to be home... this place is beautiful, but so many of my dinners are alone. And while I enjoy solo adventures, there's just nothing like time spent with a friend.

10-So I'm keeping it real in the Northwest for now. Maybe a state park soon, probably another ride to Redmond (tomorrow)... Oh, maybe not. I want to go to the beach. Hmmm... why not both? Maybe I'll tour Boeing, maybe something else.

Keep it real in Cleveland (or wherever you are).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Week Two? Or Three.

I'm having trouble starting out this entry...
Then again.. it's not like I never have a perfectly fluid start.

Or body.

Or conclusion.



Last week when we left off, I was stranded at Pike Place Market (not really) in a café called "Local Color". After I finished writing that entry and had submitted it, I had to make the decision of what do to for the rest of my day. I figured that the entirety of my week had been spent getting acclimated and wound up (a.k.a. lost on campus, lost in Seattle, etc.)... and that it wouldn't hurt to just call it a day, and chalk the rest of the evening up to de-stressing. So it was decided.

So after the café, I said "Hmm. Where do I want to have dinner? The dining hall is finally open, so I could go back and have dinner at school... but that would mean cutting my "day off" short. Long story short, I said, "When is the next time that I'll be able to justify having dinner out of the dining hall, and when will I actually have the chance to get off campus?". So I had a meal out. And with some hesitance, I made it a nice meal out.

Yours truly, now complete with white shirt and cuffed cords.


It was so nice, in fact, that I felt bad walking into the restaurant in my stained white t-shirt and cuffed corduroys. So between my decision time and 5.15pm, the time for my reservation for one (sad, I know.) I went to the Gap and got a polo off the sale rack. I needed one anyway. I think all of my polos are borrowed from Jason. I don't wear them much, anyway, so it's really fine.

Building... Seattle, not Hong Kong.


The meal was pretty good.... mashed potatoes, duck, and asparagus (that's the short story). I had some sort of dessert, too... it had the texture of pecan pie, but instead of the pecan filling, it had some sort of filling made with... "olde scotch"? I don't really remember what the waiter called it. I hadn't ever had it before, though. The whole shebang was severely lacking in the "company" dept., and not worth as much as I paid.


For those of you unfamiliar with the Space Needle... this is it. Built in the 1962 World's Fair. And still kickin'.

Sooo... I was not really correct with my reasoning about "the last time with being in a dining hall"... I remembered during the meal that I was scheduled to have dinner with the stepfather of my longest-running extrafamilial friend, Jon Krause. His stepfather, Don, is sort of one of IBM's nomads, running around to different headquarters and doing awesome work... he's been flying between Cleveland and Seattle for a few weeks now (home on the weekends, Seattle hotel during the week)---a pretty sweet coincidence with my work.

Some guy.... crashed. I think that this may have been more serious than I took it at the time.


Anyway--the meal was nothing short of spectacular, both in conversation and actual dining. And the view. By his choice, we had dinner in the restaurant at the very top of the Space Needle... one of the sweetest of Seattle attractions. The restaurant is spectacular. Amazing food. I had tuna (rare) with such a good peppercorn crust, wasabi mashed potatoes, some sort of strawberry-rhubarb compote... Man.... it was amazing. Dessert was the house tiramisu. Even more amazing, the restaurant rotates! It makes one revolution every 46 minutes, so Mr. Rohde and I got to spin around almost 3 times throughout the meal.... And the conversation was great, too... just stuff about life, liberty, happiness... Definitely one of my best times here yet. I've got a picture, too, from the meal. Probably one of the worst taken, worst posed, most overpriced photos that either myself or Mr. Rohde have been in to date.


Top of the Needle to you.

Hmm... during the week, I did work for both Chicago and for Washington... stepping up work by like, 12fold for Washington midweek. It's so much fun. Right now I'm trying to get this XYZ stage to move in more than one direction at once..... ask me about it next time you see me. It's awesome fun. And the Chicago project is nothing short of cool, either... I'm currently doing a bunch of research on these things called Integrated Assessment Models, which merge models of the earth's climate and economies. Bomb stuff. Mmmm. and now, I've got a colleague! Sarah, a second year at Chicago, is employed as my researcher's lab manager, but is doing work on this project... because I'd never be able to get it done on my own. We've also got a law student working with us.


This is my friend, Seattle... Seattle, this is Dinah Andersen. I'm sure you'll get along. Just remember that players change, and it'll be fine.

So the week was awesome, and full of work and other good stuff, like hourlong bike rides for fun and runs to a wacky place called Fremont.

And by the end of the week, I was spent.

Friday night... Wall-E. I've never actually found a movie to be adorable based on previews (I know... strange word to hear Justin say...) but this one had me. Friday night confirmed that. And I'll probably see it when it comes out on home video, this time devoid of the giant chorus of "Awwwwwww" coming from the seats around. I saw it with my co-interns. Good time. And if you're ever in Seattle, Emerald City Smoothies is nothing in comparison to Jamba Juice. Don't even try.

Hmm. Saturday was yesterday. Let's see.... I ran in the morning... and then.... oh. I did a lot of work for Chicago. At night, I went into the lab and made a minor breakthrough in getting the stage to work. I had been calling the different axes the incorrect names in my coding (the directions I give the stage), and I finally found the correct names. But as soon as I could get that working, I tried manually configuring it by using the instruction manual so that we could pull more work out of it. It's what the manual told me to do!!!

It started making crying noises... I've never really "shushed" much... probably a dog or two.... maaaaaaaaybe a human (once.).... but I really strangely naturally and humanly started talking to the machine, "shushing" it and telling it that it'd be okay. Hmm. Strange thought to make me smile, but the way I reacted was just so funny.

I got the stage to work again... no worries, kids. But tomorrow---I'll be on it again.

TODAY! I said "Ha!" and that was that--I took the #75 bus to the beach at Warren G. Magnuson Beach. No sand there. On top of that, I had to walk around lost for like, 1/2 hour when I got dropped off by the driver in the wrong half of the park. Totally lost.


The hot setup.

But it ended up fine. I wore hardcore sunscreen and as a result am now neither sunburnt nor tan.

I got back... and had some ice cream.

And here I am... sitting outside the Starbucks (opens at 4am, closes weeknights at 1am and Friday and Saturday at 2am) typing an entry to all you guys. There's a barista walking around giving samples.

Hmmm. A final thought:

10 things from this week that I haven't yet mentioned.

1-Midweek the dormitory was invaded by camps. Football. Lacrosse. Cheerleading. Golf. Basketball. So loud. Soooooo messy. And like, 12 years old. Crazy. As a result, I've been spending my evenings working for Chicago in a Barnes and Noble with free wifi. B&N cards welcome--I buy iced tea, they let me use wifi.

Did I mention that I have not yet met Bill Gates?


2-But. I have become friends with a bunch of the kids' clubs. There was a leadership camp that stayed this week of which I made like, 4 new friends... They're all going to college next year, and are really cool kids. I also made some friends in a girls golf camp of all like, 15 year olds. They were funny.


Main Campus, Pre Wall-E. Mt. Ranier.

3-So the dormitory isn't as eerily empty anymore. The rest of my hallway is full of college kids from Hong Kong who are here to learn English for the summer. They, like me, are here for 10 weeks, and are really pretty awesome. I've made friends with some of them, too.

4-The funniest group yet is this group of like, 200 or 250 kids from China.... so young and so crazy. Like, 12 years old. They travel in packs of like, 8... and when one opens the door by swiping their card, they all go "OOAHOAOOAOAOOOO!!!" in mock amazement. It's so awesome.

5-The lame barista with samples ran out, and therefore skipped me. Lame. So lame.


I found this at 3rd and Stewart downtown... I don't know what it means.

6-One of my co-interns, my age, has both a full back tattoo and a 31 year old boyfriend. Good job.

7-I've got to stop eating like, 3 bowls of cereal with every meal. Definitely cramps my style.


Oh no!
Spotted en route to beach, after I had found my way.

8-Party happening here 4th of July. Supposedly last year fireworks got thrown off the roof... I accidentally typed Firefox the first time. That would be realistic in some parts...

9-Oh, disgusting. I now have Windows XP running on my computer.

Windows... this is running on my computer, now. Actually, this was taken at Pike Place.


10-I've consumed a ton of water today. Sometimes I amaze even myself.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Seattle.

So right now I'm sitting in a cafe at Pike Place Market called "Local Color"... It showcases art of local artists, is a pretty good temperature, and sounds like a slow song at the high school jazz band concert. A pretty good atmosphere. And I've got a fan blowing around right next to me. Anyway, they've got a little sitting area in the back complete with Ikea couches and chairs and tables (photo)... a lot of coffee places here have things like this. More on that, later.

Does this look Local Color-ful to you?

It's rather comfortable.

I decided to take the day off because the past week has been just crazy. Monday was all about getting acquainted with the co-students, etc, and then a night on the town with mum... which could've gone better, but was still good. We ended up having a great meal at a place called the Winslow Way Cafe... and I had my first "amaretto" something or other. A sweet dessert that had a texture like... jello pudding. Ish. huh.

Birds on pole. Sighted near Pike Place.


Monday and Tuesday and much of Wednesday were totally ridiculous for me. I got lost on campus more times than you can count on two hands, discovered that none of the campus dining places were open until Monday (except for a convenience store named "etc." and a Subway), and a bunch more stressful stuff. I also started working more diligently on the Chicago internship work... which is really sweet, but taxing, because I'm really formulating what I need to do on my own.

This is rather cool...
1-Shrink-wrapped building (noticed first by mum). We think they do this to keep the rain and moisture out.... which is ever present (except for the summer months).
2-Fireboat. Good stuff.
3-Notice the bridges in the background... all the highway. Sweet. Tri-level traffic. Even more than Chicago's bi-level Wacker Street.


Wednesday was also a pretty cool day because I took a trip to the East side of town (closer to all of you!) and bought meself a pretty sweet bike. (I think Norah Jones came on the speakers.... I was into Norah Jones for a bit in fall quarter---fact.) Wait until the end of the story. There's irony. So I looked online far before I got to Seattle where I could buy a used bike at a bike co-op... They're basically these cool places to which people donate bikes, and volunteers come in, learn to fix bikes, and in return fix bikes that the co-op sells to keep in business. I'm not sure about bikes yet, and I'm just using it for commuting around this beast of a campus... and I'm going to sell it at the end of the summer, so why do I need a new, expensive supercool bike? I've been meaning to go to Working Bikes in Chicago to buy a bike, but by the end of the year, it just wasn't worth it. Anyway. I took the bus for like, an hour, to get there, and eventually found myself in Columbia City.... really just a strange, really free-thinking town to the East or Southeast of Seattle.

This is my mum, on a ferry, headed for Bainbridge Island.


Long story short, an hour and a half later, I had a road bike from the early 1980's by my side and a bunch more accessories to make riding safe. e.g. helmet and lights for front and back. It's sweet.

I decided to take the focus off of work today, and lay it all on exploration and having fun because of my crazy week. And it's paying off. I'm pretty relaxed and just enjoying this great breeze from the fan and the atmosphere. Which seems now to be fairly Barry White-centric...... Oh well. It could be worse. I had lunch at this place in the market called "Three Girls". It's basically run by a bunch of friendly goth/hippies. Needless to say, I enjoyed eating my meatloaf sandwich at the bar (suggested by the guy serving me... apparently it was written up in National Geographic as being a bomb sandwich). I also got me a San Pellegrino Limonata as homage to Cathy and Michael... The drinks are fairly common here... they come in this can with a foil cover. It's sort of cool.

Okay. Seattle atmosphere? Unbelievable. People here are more friendly than anything.
Like... we got to the airport and were signing up for the rideshare van to the hotel... and first, the person behind the desk was like, really terribly helpful... and then the person in the van actually offered us and our co-passenger bottled water, saying that he knew how taxing long plane rides could be.

So I chalked those happenings up to a driver who wanted a good tip, and an anomaly behind a desk.
But no.

On Tuesday and Wednesday after ridiculous days, I just wanted to chill. So I went to this place next to the university called "University Village". It's basically a more extensive Crocker Park or Legacy Village... it's pretty sweet. Anyway. They've got two Starbucks there--one on the north side of the center, and one on the south. The south side shop is open every until 1am and weekends until 2am. So I basically bought an iced tea (friendly people behind the counter, asking how my day was) and chilled, doing work. I also caved and bought 24 hours worth of wifi (useable at any Starbucks or T-Mobile hotspot) for $10.

So I was syncing my phone with my computer and videochatting with Cece... and this guy next to me just leans over, and says "What're you doing with your phone? Uploading music, or something?". We ended up talking--him, his wife, and I--for like, 15 minutes about technology, my research positions, and the videochat. I had to leave, because I was running out of laptop battery... and Cece was on the videochat the whole time.

So then I switch positions in the store to a place with a power outlet. Lo and behold, it happens again. A guy hanging some of his artwork in the store asks what I think of the photographs, and then asks me to help him hang one.

Aaaaand then the day after, a woman interrupts the videochat asking whether she should get the glossy or matte screen for her new Macbook Pro.

Aaaaaaaand that stuff happens all the time. It's pretty sweet.

Probably the worst picture I've ever posted:


The city is unlike anything I've ever seen... I've heard it likened to a safer San Francisco--and I can see why. There are so many hills, and the scenery is really just beautiful. It may rain here 3/4 of the year (ooh. Signed, Sealed, Delivered just came on the speakers. Decent...) but it does wonders for the place. It's just overflowing with vegetation. And in addition to the cool hills and vegetation, there's a constant vista... mountains to the east, mountains to the west.... I know it's a trek, and will cost an arm and a leg, but all of you have got to get out here sometime.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Left on a Jet Plane.

So right now I'm 34,000 feet above sea level, on the second of two flights in my journey to Seattle. Mum's here next to me catching some sleep to try and minimize the jetlag, and we've got a random seat-mate in our row drinking Bloody Mary mix ("Spicy tomato juice"). More on all of this later.

So. As I often do when I haven't updated since the last ice age, I'll give bullets as to what's been going on:

1-Two and a half weeks ago, Cathy and Michael (one aunt/uncle pair from Houston) came into Chicago by plane to visit with Cece and I. Chicago is also the place of Michael's childhood, and he was eager to show Cathy around his old hangouts. We had a ridiculously good time.... Introductions happened, a trip to Giordano's (famous stuffed pizza.... terribly greasy, terribly good.), tours of campus, and more.

Probably one of the more memorable experiences was a trip to a place called "Kingston Mines"--a legendary blues club in Chicago. Michael had been pretty stoked about this one for months, now. Apparently, it's a must-see for an avid blues fan. But. It's a 21+ club, so Michael made sure to call the club's owners ahead of time to make sure that I could go on in. Things were verified, and I was allowed in. It was honestly a really cool place--I'd like to go back without escort when I'm of age. Basically, there were two halves to the place, and each half had its own stage. When one stage's band was taking a break, the other stage had a band playing, and vice versa. As to the atmosphere--it was really crowded, but mostly a lot of people either standing up or sitting at these bench-looking tables. Basically a table from Friday's or Applebee's cut in half lengthwise, with chairs on either side. There were people closer to the stage dancing, doing their thing, but the cool (or sober) people all hung back at the tables and just took in the scene.

2-Final exams. Good times, kids. I had two papers--one for Mind and one for my Art class. For the art history course, I basically analyzed a chair produced in Postwar Italy in and out.

The Model 683:


This quarter in mind, we'd been learning about the mind and brain (some would argue that these terms are synonymous) in a social context. Especially stressed during the quarter, however, was the interdisciplinary nature of trying to totally understand the mind and how it works. The professors liked to refer to this as "building bridges" across disciplines. We've got to look at all levels of psychology (biopsychology, social, and that of one person) in order to get a full and comprehensive understanding of any process.

So basically, the professors and TA's gave us a ridiculously broad prompt--Essentially, "Explain why we need to look at all these levels. Then, look at a social problem (war in Iraq, hunger, poverty) and explain it from a psychological perspective. Specifically use stuff that we've learned." I had fun. And I think I wrote a decent paper. We'll find out soon.

Physics. Beautiful. This course on waves and vibrations was so much fun. My grade may be frightening (we'll see) because my homework was always started too late, but I learned so much, in both applied mathematics (differential equations) and physics (learned mostly through these things called "boundary conditions" that restrict the general solutions differential equations).

Just a note--the "starting the homework too late" stems from the fact that I'm a rather slow learner... Whenever I learn something, I'm not content with just knowing what I need to know for the test, and how to solve the problems on the homework--I'd rather be able to be completely able to rederive all of our results from "first principles" (the fundamental observations and foundation of physics) and work it that way. So I spend a lot of time learning so I'll really never forget anything (seriously--it works. and it's satisfying) and I learn the material a week after we need it for class. I'll change stuff up next year so that it works out better.

And finally.... The Atmosphere. Great class. The final exam was last Friday, because I took it early with the seniors (this was one of the rare classes where we were offered this opportunity) and I'm pretty sure that I can pull off a full-fledged "A" in the class. The crowning achievement of the class was a final derivation of a theoretical model for the weather systems on earth. It's all based on the unequal heating of the earth by the sun. Ask me about it sometime.

4-I'm listening to the band Yellowcard's "Ocean Avenue" CD....

someone's got to do it.

5-Belly fat. It's happening. I may have gained 10 lbs muscle this quarter, but hanging out at home and having visitors implies quality food and little time to exercise (time zone changes are a killer) which implies belly fat. Eeeew.


6-A plane to Seattle? What???

Okay. So most of you who can read and care know from previous entries that through a bunch of work, I've got a good internship in Seattle. I get free travel to and from Seattle, a free hotel room for a night before the internship starts (tonight), free dining, free housing all summer, free social events, and to top it off--a $4500 stipend. Bomb.

So what am I doing in Seattle? Okay. So. Hmm. Basically--by focusing a laser beam in a certain way in to a material, we can take part in either a solidification or reduction process. In the end, we can either carve away the material or actually build stuff out of the liquid or solid. There are a lot of intermediate steps and some really sweet science, but that's the end result. There's a computer program called CAD and AutoCAD that a lot of engineers and welders use. It's basically used to design and draw stuff. There's also a computer program called LabVIEW that is often used by research scientists to control lab setups. After you've written the program, you're left with a cool virtual interface of knobs and switches and graphes---good stuff. Easier than text-based control of programs. I've basically been assigned to write a program that'll take designs from AutoCAD and port them to LabVIEW so that our setup will automatically build the stuff that people have designed.

I've got some experience with LabVIEW (thank you, Padetha) but none whatsoever with AutoCAD. But none with LabVIEW. We'll see what's up. I'll keep you updated. Tomorrow's my first day. It should be cool.

Oh. FYI, this is all through the University of Washington. I'll be a Husky for the summer.

7-Surprise! I have a second internship!

During the school year, especially winter quarter, I became really really interested in the environment and in actively saving what we've got left. Because we've really got to take action now. I also started an introduction to an education on just how powerful physics is. I think that I can combine these two loves.

Physics is essentially man's attempt at a description of nature. This description can be applied to tell us what we can do with nature, given the materials. Environmental science and environmental knowledge essentially offers a survey of what man has around him. It also tells us what we can expect if we prod the earth in one way or another.

So what I want to do is combine these two knowledges--and while there are many ways to do this, I think that my place is in alternative energies. I'm not sure yet, but we'll see.

Anyway---I wanted a few opinions on my idea, so I talked to my fall quarter physics professor (Henry Frisch... a really really cool guy, and easy to talk to) who told me that I was on the right track and referred me to a number of people. These people then referred me to others and included a bunch of people in a certain reply to an email I'd sent. The next thing I know, I'm in the thick of all these environmental scientists.... and I couldn't be happier.

So basically, I've been invited into a research group. I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to disclose on the project on the internet at this very moment, but I think that I can divulge at least enough to catch your interest. At the end of this beast, we'll have a breathtakingly beautiful piece of work. I'm terribly excited at how elegant this may turn out. Right now we're in the proposal-writing stage... I'll check with my researcher and see if I can disclose any more.

That's expected to be 20 hours a week.

8-Wait... you're going to Seattle... but mum's with you? What's the deal with that?

She wants to see where I'll be this summer... and after spending a ton of time together when I was in high school, college has been a shock to both of us--we've spent virtually no time alone together in the last 24 weeks. This trip will be really really good. I'm so glad she came.

She's got a flight back home on Tuesday evening.

9-This past weekend was great--I was able to see so much of the essentials of my family before I dipset to Seattle.

***Pilot update--90 miles north of Billings, Montana.... 1 hr 35 mins to Seattle/Tacoma***

So let's see...

Wednesday--Mum has been in Chicago for a day, meeting my friends and helping me pack up. At about 4.37pm, we leave Chicago and embark on the cruise back to Cleveland. The Eos is packed. Good music and good conversation about life ensues. We arrive home, and have time to celebrate Mum's birthday and unpack the car before she and Norman go to sleep. I stay up and videochat with Cece and Connie.

Thursday--Rise and go to dentist. No cavities... "Good job on the homecare. Keep it up.". Funny, because 50% of the time, I've brushed my teeth only once a day and I haven't flossed at all. Okay, though. Get home, Run and shower, go with Jason to Legacy Village to pick up his Macbook Pro for college. Aunt Liz comes over for hamburgers and all that other good cookout stuff. Good to see her, and good to relax. Video chat with Chicago, then sleep.

Friday--Wake and visit Aunt Debbie. It's been awhile. Have pleasant conversation, watch dogs fight, cruise the town with Jason. Buy Jason sunglasses. Go to dad's and enjoy Grandma and Grandpa's company. Watch America's Funniest Home Videos. Laugh (once more) at the same things we've seen 200 times before. Watch Life According to Jim. Actually enjoy it.

Also, hang out with dad next to grill with steaks and see his sweet. new. scooter. This has also been another terribly anticipated visit as Dad and I talk via email almost every day at school, and often by video chat. It's good to relax in the driveway again and marvel at the sweet green shutters.

Saturday--Day before departure... Ashwin, Ossama, Jon Gleason, and Lynn come over to hang out and play Lynn's PS3 on my brother's ridiculous purchase of a TV and sound system. 50 inches of television is carazy.

The game??? The highly contested new Grand Theft Auto... I have no idea what it's actually called (1, 2 3, 4, LIberty City, San Andreas, etc...). I hadn't really ever watched anyone play the thing. It's terribly entertaining.

Good to see everyone and marvel at how Ossama has not changed a bit.

Saturday evening, dine at Grandma's with Aunt Liz and the nuclear family. Highly anticipated, highly delivered. Ate far too much dessert. Belly fat.

Saturday night, pack and videochat with Chicago once more before the plane ride.

Sunday morning, and we're gone.