Justin's Blog

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday from Armenia.

Last weekend was ridiculously good.

Main deal-Uncle Chuck came by-just to hang, just to chill, just to see more than Michigan Avenue.
Highlights-
Numerous restaurants and hours of conversation.... we got "shooed" out of Leona's, this great quasi-Italian spot near my school. I guess we enjoyed ourselves too much.
Freedom Museum. I've walked past this place on Michigan a ton of times. Chuck pulled me into the place, and I was actually pretty impressed. Lots of information on censorship and the newest presidential race. I actually recommend it to anyone who comes by. And it's free for awhile, because of the election.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra-Russian Masters' concert-Nothing can beat a $12 tickets to the symphony. Amazing concert. Never knew I liked Rachmaninoff so much. Shostakovich still puts me to sleep.
Transformers-Already had seen this, but we were looking for stuff to do late at night and it was cold outside. Soooooo... we bit for the new iTunes movie rental service. Same price as Blockbuster, but you don't need to leave home, and I'm pretty sure it's in high definition. Don't quote me on that.
New Brita filter-mundane, but it's also hard to beat quality water.
And I got my Apple fixed. They think the cause was corrupted RAM, which was replaced (all 2 GB) for free. Totally free. AppleCare Protection Plans are actually worth a lot.

Last weekend also was Cece's ballet, Duke Ellington's Nutcracker-sort of a jazzish take on the whole Nutcracker bit. I don't know much about ballet, but I'd say it was fairly good.

The new math class is more boring than staring at a pair of shoes while drinking whole milk.
I covered most of this stuff 2 years ago.
But it's a great review for me, and will be much more useful in physics than the material of my previous class.
Furthermore, I've got more time and less stress, now. Who knows what I'll do with this freedom???
BUT-at the end of every class period, the professor (a graduate student) says something actually interesting that probably only 3 of the class care about, but that's still really sweet . Last Friday, it was some information on Fourier Transforms... something to separate all the individual frequencies in sound waves, so that one can see which frequencies are coming through, and so that one can tweak them... a graphic equalizer does something similar to this.

Kelsey, Cece, and I were planning on going to a random restaurant downtown tomorrow night... but Cece got selected to coordinate a ballet and the meeting is tomorrow night. So we're going tonight, instead. I spotted some random sign off Michigan that said "Armenian"-so that's what it is.

I'll try to bring a camera.

The rest of the weekend will be homework. I'm feeling on top of stuff, for once.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Warm and Setless in a Cold Chicago.

I received an email this morning from the Aikido people (the martial arts bit I was doing last quarter), saying that practice tomorrow is being cancelled, because it's going to be bleeding cold.
I then received a follow-up email form one of the leaders in the group that linked to an article about how we have to thank Siberia for this sweet Arctic mass. It also mentioned a wind chill warning (?), along with a "stay inside, idiots." message. Apparently, there are going to be wind chills to 20 below zero Fahrenheit.
But have no fear!
Monday I received in the mail a package from home which included a mailorder fleece from the infamous Patagonia (recyclable clothes. Way expensive recyclable clothes) which I had purchased, but hadn't come in time for me to take it with me. In the same package were a new pair of jeans, equally as cool, but the fleece is more important here. It is advertised as "windproof". It's probably about the thickness of... a hooded sweatshirt. Different material, though.
The past few days have seen snow, ice, and wind. Cold. I have worn nothing but a t-shirt and the fleece. And have been totally wind-free, and totally warm. I'm totally amazed and impressed, and would recommend it to anyone. Only beef is that it's a little floppy, but I think that this is how it was engineered, so that there's an extra layer between skin and elements (as in, skin-air-fleece-air, instead of skin-fleece-air. The amount of distance the cold has to travel is sort of substantial in order for it to make me cold, as opposed to direct conduction of heat between my skin through the fleece, into the air.)
end aside.

I dropped the math class from Gehenna (props to Matt's Gospel).
Explanation: I want to study physics. It's a totally amazing field of work, and I think that I could make reasonably sweet contributions, after being properly trained. This math class, however cool it was, was not teaching me anything applicable to physics. All it was doing was bringing my GPA down and taking time away from my learning the real math I need for physics. Furthermore, it was robbing me of my life. I'm looking forward to being able to relax guilt-free for a half-hour on my weeknights.
I am now in Math 15300: a more applicable class.... and more easy. I'm planning on joining this little extracurricular math club that meets every week to discuss hardcore physics math. This extracurricular group should take a lot of my extra time.

Last weekend: Excursion to State Street... Two blocks west of Michigan is a mini-Michigan called State Street. Having felt like we'd exhausted Michigan and all it's worldliness, we (Cece and I) decided to see some mini-worldliness (and a Trader Joe's... I needed granola and soymilk). well... we miscalculated the distance to the mini-Michigan and just ended up hanging out in an upscale mall, Trader Joe's, and a Mexican Restaurant... Su Casa. Decent food... um... it's Mexican. I've yet to find "wow" Mexican. And a fun time. Next weekend (not this weekend), we're taking a girl named Kelsey downtown to see the new Macbook Air (sweet), and to try to get her out of her room. Doesn't happen often.

This weekend: UNCLE CHUCK BONACCI. I meet him downtown in like, twoish hours. He was here for a conference, and decided to stay the weekend to just chill out.
Plans:
-Somehow, I have access to $12 Chicago Symphony Orchestra tickets for tomorrow night. Someone in the dormitory got them somehow... should be pretty darn sweet.
-My Mac's been acting strange, and not himself. We're going to the Apple store tomorrow.
-Homework. Always a fun time. Especially when it's so fun, it can't even be called 'homework'.
-Film?
-All-around tomfoolery.

I'll keep you posted.

New math class starts at 12.30pm, so I'm heading out.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Physics in 20

So blog posts are probably usually longer than this one will be, but I've got physics in 20 minutes, and know that if I blog in my dorm or take a break from my work to blog, I'll just feel
a)Guilty for not working
b)Those 20 minutes will turn into an hour

Just had breakfast [omlette(everything but meat), bowl of granola and soymilk(and peanut butter), and an apple. Oh. and another sort of small glass of soymilk, topped off with a little bit of water.]. I don't really have any materials with me besides my physics notebook and a pen, otherwise I might not be writing this.

Things here are really going well this term. That might even be an understatement. The first thing I walked in to was a brand new room (510), with natural light streaming in from all the two windows. It was seriously amazing. My dormitory is about a fifteen minute walk from campus. This is how happy I am with my new room: On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have physics, which ends at 10.20, follwed by Philosophical Perspectives (for which my professor is amazing this quarter. No more slumber. Awesome.) at 3.00pm. Last quarter, I'd hang around campus, saying "oh, it's too long of a walk back. Besides.... I can't work in my room." This quarter, I actually walk all the way back, do a bunch of work, and then come back to campus. I'm so happy to be in this new spot. Maybe I can manage a picture or two later.

To my classes:
Honors Physics-The textbook was supposed to be $200 at the bookstore. Well, the list was actually $173, but they jacked the price. I found a copy online for $122. Beat up, but it still had all the words. It's now in my room. The professor, Issac Abella, is pretty cool, and pretty old. He won the Quantrell Award for teaching, too... in 1969. No joke. But he knows exactly what he's talking about, and while he may not be as cool as professor Frisch of last quarter, I think he might get his point across a little more efficiently and is a bit easier to understand. All in all-good teacher. Great material. This quarter is Electricity and Magnetism... A topic that most people say "boo" about... I think this is because they simply haven't had exposure to much of it, or haven't thought about their exposure to it. It's less tangible... I say it's awesome.
Honors Calculus 162 IBL-The math course from you-know-where is back... and harder than ever. But this quarter, I'm actually doing work. And it's paying off. I was actually able to put a proof on the board during class yesterday. Booya. We'll see how it goes... i could drop to a lower lower math (153), but I really don't want to. And this quarter, we're doing these cool topics that I've heard about but don't understand... Topology, Metric Spaces, Graph Theory, Number Theory. It'd be a shame to drop out. I'm going to try to "man up", and take it.
Philosophical Perspectives on the Humanities-Brian Soucek is the professor. I did some research, and I think he was the recipient of all those awards and scholarships for prodigies... Those things with British names. He deserved them. He's a great teacher... possibly a little more on the "touchy-feely" side than I would be, but great nonetheless. I don't feel tired at all. We're first reading Augustine's Confessions, which is wonderful so far. I've wanted to read this... and finally am. With guidance. OooOoOooo.
Mind II. The mind in social context-Pretty sweet stuff, still... Still makes me reconsider dedicating my major totally to physics. First topic was "Aging and the Mind". Good stuff-I'll explain it later. If anyone's interested, i could maybe send copies of the article's I'm reading in PDF or something. Basically: You older guys reading this-Your mind is not as weak as people say, and and not as weak as you think. Social pressures make you think it so, but really, it's only a little less apt than a younger mind. Stick up for yourselves! Furthermore, you guys have better minds than the youth in some cases: Your minds focus generally on more positive things and ignore negatives, and you're more wise, and better able to control your emotions than the youth: Go play some poker.

Now, for the social. Of which there hasn't been much at all. It's usually me, alone, these days. But last night, the House watched The Bourne Ultimatum. Which completed the Bourne Trilogy for Cece. Highly recommended.
Tonight is going to be a work night, but tomorrow night we're going downtown... There's a Trader Joe's there, and all the soymilk and healthier food around here is far too expensive. Dinner is also in the plans... What else, who knows?

Chuck (Uncle) is coming next weekend. Pretty stoked on that. We'll do some good stuff. And maybe then the rest of you will say "Oh, that was cool-Maybe I should go visit."

PS-I'm in the USite Computing area in the basement of Johnny Crerar Library. And it's full of new iMacs. Not allowed to use them (signs say no on the monitors). But I'm ready and waiting. I hope they updated the whole campus.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Samedi is my last day here.

This winter break has been one of little contact with the blog, and lots of contact with all you readers.
But seriously, it's been one of my most restful and serene breaks yet... in order of how it all comes to mind:

1-Driving Jason to school at the start of break means waking up at 7am... earlier than my comrades from college on break, but late enough where it still felt all right... gave me a break from my day

2-Visiting Strongsville High School on December 20th and 21st, the day before the kids got out for winter break. Talking with Bruening's physics class on nothing in particular, and sharing my musical tastes (which are juvenile, from the average college student's perspective... "high school music.").

3-Christmas... and Christmas Eve. Most definitely totally enjoyable, with lots of family and conversation. Nothing earthshattering in this department in terms of gifts, but I am pretty stoked to have a pair of slippers for my dorm now... I'd been walking around the building barefoot. Probably contributed to the discontent... Thanks, Dad.



4-New Year's-Let's hear it for being a loser in society's eyes, but being perfectly fine in your own!!! Staying home with Mum and Norman to relax and roll in the New Year was amazingly cool... I'm not sure for how long I'll be everywhere which where for New Year's, let alone winter break and summer break in the coming years, so I'm sucking up all the good family vibes I can get. I seriously enjoyed my time, and recommend chilling with the family for New Year's to anyone who thinks it's lame.

5-The Grill-a-Thon. December 21st was a night of meat, non-meat, and random conversations. To tell the truth, I wasn't engaged in way too many of the conversations, due to walking around and making sure everything was set, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, and I hope everyone else did. Just a note for any who might plan on hosting such an event: I seriously recommend making sure you've got either a dry yard or a proper parking plan which doesn't involve parking cars on downward-sloping soggy spots. The aftermath of not having such a plan can still be seen all over my front yard...

6-Skiing/Snowboarding December 30th with Dad, Uncle Ray, and Uncle Chuck. Good time... I'd never snowboarded before, and it took 4/3 hour (equal to 3 days of soreness) to determine that one needs to look where one is going, in order for one to be able to [successfully] turn. Regardless of whether or not I learned to snowboard, my last run was far too ambitious and ended in a major crash where my hat ended up 30 feet from my body. Pretty cool.

7-Right now. Jason's break ends today which means that he goes back to school tomorrow. Have fun, dude.

8-Tons of visits with family and friends... Going out to eat with friends, sitting around with family, nights of cool movies at home with the nuclear family (Transformers was amazing.)...

9-Cleveland snow. Greatest stuff to see. I swear. I love the spaces you all have here in Strongsville and neighboring regions... where one can look across a yard and see trees and then some open space and then some more trees, all getting hit by falling snow... It's great. I think that looking out of the windows of this house is really difficult to beat.



10-The return to Chicago. Sunday is the day I get on the Megabus at 9.30am to ride back... I'm pretty excited, though, and not at all disappointed. Well... right now, I think I wish I could look out these windows a little longer, but I'm excited about a new quarter with new teachers and new classes. I'm going into school with a more realistic vision of what it'll be like, and with a totally renewed volition, courtesy of lackluster final exams.

This winter break was really even far more eventful than what was listed above.... but there's simply too little space. And every time I came upon something I didn't write, something else immediately comes to mind. Scarce resources, unlimited wants... economics at work. So I'm going to justify my conclusion citing the law of diminishing marginal returns.

Next post... once again... University of Chicago.