Justin's Blog

Monday, December 10, 2007

Writing from an office.

Finals week came and went.
There was good and bad about it, but I'll keep most of that quiet.
I'm looking forward to next quarter as well as all the hard work it's going to bring, and am really terribly excited to learn more physics. I never actually realized how much I enjoyed it... well, actually, I did. Every once in awhile, I'd be like, "Wow.... this is really cool." But I never looked at it in the way I can, now. It isn't caused by the class, but rather the studying the night before the final, and the fact that I don't think I did very well at all on the final.
Physics is really a beautiful thing. I don't use that word very often... and when I say it, I mean it. It's usually said only referring to a few things... Philosophical questions (I was talking to friend Ossama last night.... we talked about a couple really good ones), Cars, Physics (now.), and... well... Rochelle. I'll admit it. And, nature. Because nature is nothing besides beautiful. I guess everything i have above can be put into that category of nature, except for cars. And maybe even then...
So if you take a look at my list, I wonder if you can decipher a little about my inner working.
Anyway. Physics is beautiful. and I'm finding that I really like talking to people about it. It's like speaking French in public in America (not that I can really do this). It's like this cool little group of people who help people out in being astounded by what's around them.
I decided that if I'm going to be doing physics for a living.... I might as well learn it now. It's wonderful. Why haven't I spent more time on it?

Okay. That's over, for now.

So finals week came and went with a bunch of tests and papers.
Lunch with Cece at Thai restaurant on 55th, and then saw her off to all 5 billion places she's visiting during break. Well... saw her off to the bus.
Friday night, friend Kelsey (mentioned in previous entries) and I went downtown to a place called "Patty Burger". We'd heard it was amazing from some fellow dorm-people.... It turned out to be a fast food restaurant. But it was still pretty good. But I didn't have the cheeseburger I wanted... because if I'm going to eat meat, I'm going to do it with real style. Strange place with "Age of Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine" (I still have no idea why they spliced those two songs together. Bad idea. Sun Shine bit is amazing... Age of Aquarius is sort of annoying. My opinion. Shoot me. Not really.) and a modern-diner-ish feel. Chrome-ish tables. After P.Burger we cruised Michigan (the shopping street-Magnificent Mile) and chilled for awhile at the Nokia store. Odd place, with color-changing walls. But all the devices were live, so it was cool to hang out and mess with electronics.
Friday Night!!!! THE MOVE!!! Kids.... when you mail stuff to me, from now on, mail to the address:

5540 South Hyde Park Boulevard, Room 510
Chicago, IL 60637

Room 510. I moved from 535 to 510. The elevator was annoying, as was the lounge, as were my hall-mate people.
The video describes everything.

Eventual sleep.

5.30 wakeup to get downtown... Chill at Union Station for an hour, and then It's time to take the Megabus home.
Double Decker (booya.) Top deck (ha.) Front Row (!!!). Pretty cool. When you're behind a windshield, you expect to see the person who's driving, so you can anticipate their moves, or you expect to be driving. Not the case, here. The bus just started moving, and it was like "Okay. I guess we're going, now."
Good bus ride. Alternate between read and sleep.

Get home at 4pm-then, it's time for a birthday celebration with Aunt Liz and Grandma. This was really awesome.
Good gifts, but mostly a lot of good conversation. The cake was a carrot cake from a store we have around here called Heinen's. I'm convinced that carrot cake has the best frosting in the world.


Okay. I typed everything above this yesterday. Today is Tuesday.

Sunday: Wake up, go to Church, and see Rochelle. This was good. Her mum apparently knows how to make amazing guacamole... seriously. The greatest guacamole I've ever tasted. So we relaxed and talked for awhile about nothing in particular, and then it was time to let her keep studying for her finals.
Dinner at Dad's with Uncle Ray. Great to see both these guys. Fairly good dinner, too-Rice with rice, and rice. I think that at one point, I had half of Asia on my plate. And green beans.

Monday: Okay. The Nursery: The Infamous Norman of whom I need to tell a five or ten minute story to most people I get to know personally, in order to explain my life, owns a nursery. This is where Mum works. It's also fun to just chill out there. And work.
So I went in with mum on Monday to sit around, do some filing, type up a letter... It was good to talk to everyone there, and it's fun to just hang around and listen to what goes on.
Monday night, I ventured over to the Youth Commission meeting to hang out and talk to Dobie, the sweet dude who runs the thing. I was also pretty stoked to talk with Andrew Capretta and Wei Zhou... and Chris Traner, with whom I spent a couple years of my high school career. Talked about college... told stories about Chicago....

Then, chilled with the amazing Padetha, Lynn, and Win for a good portion of the night....
We talked about the future, about physics, about Chicago, and about tea. Good times, and It was really great to see Padetha again. He's been a role model to me in the past, and continues to be such in the present.
The night there ended at midnight, when I left from home after watching the Bourne Identity. Good... even the sixth time.

Enough about my schedule. Here's some other news that you might want to know:

-I am relearning the viola. I am grateful for this.
-Reading a book called "Macachiavellian Intelligence: How Humans and Rhesus Macaques came to Rule the world", written by one of my Fall quarter professors at Chicago, Dario Maestripieri. Brief synopsis: Rhesus macaques are the second most widespread primate on the planet (second to humans...). WHY? In 1513, a guy named Machiavelli wrote a book for a Prince telling him how to really maintain political power... Scare tactics, dog-eat-doggedness, break people to get ahead... all of this was included. Humans do this. But so do these monkeys.
The idea is that maybe Rhesus and Humans are so successful because they share this societal behavior.
Good stuff... full of hilarious jokes and really cool insight. It's at the same time entertaining and informative. This marks a good book, for me.
-Going to visit the High School in the next weekish... but I hear that a former student now needs an appointment to visit. So... if any one of you cool former teachers on this list happen to have some open space in your day (or a class you just can't stand), email me up a time, and I can come and visit you!

This week:
Thursday-Dentist. Then, dentist with Rochelle. Then, maybe watch film, maybe hang out in the Great Northern Area.
Friday-"From the Top" with Rochelle and some random Case kids...-this is a radio show on NPR that highlights young musical talent. Soooooo.... I get to see what life could've been like if I'd started playing viola at -5 months, and practiced 12 hours a day.
Saturday-Cleveland Orchestra Concert with Grandma, Aunt Liz, and Rochelle! Pretty stoked on this. I've been ready to go to an orchestra concert for awhile, now. And this is a holiday concert, so I'm promised a trippy light show. Coooooool.

Great. Have a good night, guys.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Finals and Coldplay.

So since the last time I wrote, I have finished (well... almost) and turned in a math journal, and have taken my last classesof the quarter. Which is awesome. Now, it's time to get ready for finals and to write final papers. It's a pretty high-stress time for a lot of the students, here, it seems. Personally, I've got a paper due on Tuesday, a paper due on Wednesday, an oral math exam (?!) on Thursday, and a Physics final on Friday. The physics exam was scheduled to be at 8am, but the professor was like "No.". So now, it's from 9-11am. He was a great professor, and an awesome example of what I'd like to become. But I'd like to be a little more... precise in my speech than he was, at times.
Oh. But I'm not so stressed about my finals. I know that they're very important to my grades, but there isn't any sense in freaking out... Just study.

Anyway. Friday, Cece and I were like "Let's go out to eat. Let's do something crazy. And let's (try) to look for Christmas gifts all at the same time." While the first two were successful and the last attempted, no fruits came of the last item. Just some fun trekking down Michigan Avenue, the shopping meeca of Downtown Chicago.
We did some research at lunch, and determined we'd got to a restaurant in the Fairmont Hotel called "Aria". It was a strange place, with steel frog water pitchers, and lame techno-lounge music happening... But it was amazing. The pricing was.... more upscale than anywhere I'd ever eaten... but this was part of the plan. As a result, the service and food were smile-inducing. We were there for the "theatre menu", which only offered from 4-5.30 pm, and is intended for people going to the theatre after dinner. Basically, it included 3 courses, and was a set price.

First, they brought out some Indian flatbread called "Naan". If you haven't had Naan, you're missing out. It's sort of a whiter, sweeter version of pita bread, without the pocket. I was disappointed with the Naan at Aria, though, because it was brushed with grease. Normal Naan is not like this. They served it with 4 random spreads, all of which were pretty good.

Second, I had ordered a mushroom soup with some exotic mushrooms in it (I don't remember the names)... The waiter brought it over, and he's like, "Your mushroom soup, and that's a little crustee on the side, with goat cheese." Crustee. Technical term. Well... it was really awesome soup, and the "crustee" was... crusty.

Third was main course: Walleye (sourced from Lake Superior-I asked.) served skin side up (What?!), over herbed gnocchi and capers. This was good stuff. Well-seasoned, well-cooked.

Fourth: Dessert. "Organic Carrot Cake". It looked like it had been baked as a huge muffin, then they cut the top off, and overturned the bottom half. The icing was not on the cake, but in a scoop on top. Even weirder, it was carrot cake icing flavored ice cream. Pretty cool. Topped with one of those sugar lattice structure things that you see made on Food Network, but never at Applebee's. I must mention Cece's 4-sorbet sampler... Apple Cider, Pear, Grape, and something else. Not sure what the fourth was.)

Fifth: "Asian Orange Peel". Basically, huge sheets of fortune cookie, dusted with powdered sugar. Pretty awesome stuff.

And I was like... well, the bill will already be crazy, so I'm just going to go mad an get myself something to drink.

I got Hibiscus Iced Tea. It was really red, and really strong. Good stuff. They served it with a stick of sugarcane in the drink, a little pitcher thing of "simple syrup sweetener", and a mint leaf in the drink.

Total for two (including tip): $105.00
But it was a totally new experience, and something I'll probably do only a few times in my life. So it was justifiable.

Let's see. Then we walked around downtown and found ourselves eventually in Crate and Barrel. Furniture is cool to look at, and think about. Oh. This shot is from HandM:

Came back, watched the Bourne Identity. Still awesome the 4th or 5th time around.

The first snow in Chicago. Went for a run, came back, took shower, went to breakfast, and it started snowing like mad for the walk back. It was good.

The rest of the day was some studying, going to dinner, and then watching The Bourne Supremacy. Better the 3rd time than the 1st or 2nd. The Bourne Ultimatum comes out on the 11th of December.

Today: Woke up, read some Phaedo (Plato's work), went to Church. First Sunday of Advent, and First Sunday of a new Church year! Props, and Happy New Year.
Rest of the day: More studying.

Oh! I have a new room! I wasn't sure if I said this in the last entries, so here you go... My room (535) is terrible. It's next to the elevator and across from the lounge, and I won't even mention the other people in the hall. So.... a girl is going away for quarter abroad next quarter, so her room is open. And I'm moving into it! It's at the end of a hall, and (sort of) has a view of the Museum of Science and Industry... well.... anything's better than what I have to look at, now. At the moment, I can see the sky only if I angle my head just right-and a sliver of sky, at that. All I see is another building. With people. Who need to monitor what blinds they have open when they're going to take a shower. Statement ended.

So during spring quarter, starting January 6th, send all correspondence to the same address, but with room number 510. I'll post another reminder somewhere else with a full address.

All right, guys. Have a happy couple of days. I'll be home in less than a week (good thing.).