Justin's Blog

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


This is where I will be spending my summer:

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The beautiful, glorious city of Seattle, Washington.
I will be working with a researcher on the University of Washington roster by the name of Dr. Antao Chen.

More details to follow.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Notre Dame, psychology, and a bunch of Chinese people.

This past week certainly has been eventful... These past two weeks, in fact. I haven't posted in a rather long time. Even though it's going to be a ridiculously busy weekend due to a lot of physics (more on that in a moment), I should post, and so I will.

So last time I posted was the 9th of February... the week after this, on Wednesday, Kelsey and I took the evening off and went with a group to the auto show. Basically, the Resident Heads of Palmer House (Broadview floors 6 and 7) were taking their 8-month old youth to the auto show, and they offered to take a group of students at a subsidized price. Apparently, the auto show holds a food drive every year where 3 cans of food get half-price tickets. So Kelsey, Cece, and I trekked over to Walgreens on Tuesday and picked up a 6 cans of Progresso. Broadview picked up the remaining $5 tab for each of us.
The show was at McCormick Place--picture the IX center, but like, twice as big. The place was ridiculously huge. Okay. Excuse me. I just looked it up on Wikipedia. IX center: 800,000 square feet. McCormick Place? 2,760,000 square feet. Needless to say, it was a huge auto show.
Pretty fun... Kelsey hadn't ever been to an auto show, so it was a new experience for her. It was pretty sweet to check out all the cars I never get to sit in, and I was pretty stoked to see the new Audi R8... Audi has created a beauty of an advertising campaign for this year, with literally smile-inducing advertisements. It's sad that i react this way to ads about cars, but I guess pretty good, too. http://www.truthinengineering.com/
See that little line of LEDs under the headlight? That's boss. Sweet. Fine. Perfect. I think it's amazing. And thankfully so, Audi's going to be adding it to all of their lineup. A+ for Audi.

Here she is:

The LEDs...

Volvo (what????) also had a cool car there called the C30... It's won a bunch of awards for the beauty factor, and I like its extremely sweet shape. The original concept had a rear hatch glass that came up a lot higher, but the production model retains the overall "look" from the concept, and I really like the effect. It's relatively inexpensive (starting at $22,950), cool-looking, and surprisingly comfortable. Picture:

Cool. So then a week ago, I took the South Shore train to Notre Dame to see my friend Ryan at Notre Dame. Honestly, it was an amazing time. I had never been to Notre Dame before this. It's a total 180 from the University of Chicago. To me, the campus feels like a park. The dining halls are actually good (definitely unlike Pierce, where I dine), and everyone is seriously outgoing. Notre Dame was strange, though, because it was startlingly homogeneous. The University of Chicago is a place full of international students... I don't know the statistics, but it feels like it's 40% minority, and the caucasoid students are all weird-looking (not excluding me.). Notre Dame was not this way. It was sort of a shock. But everyone was terribly friendly, and terribly cool.

For some reason, this tree caught my attention:

Ryan was playing in a band concert on Saturday, and a musical called 'Kiss Me Kate' on both Friday and Saturday (3 hours per performance). And some actual class on Friday. And I went to all of it. And enjoyed all of it. Ryan's family had also come up for the performances (um... they pretty much visit every weekend. His dad is an alumnus, and they just really like the place), so it was great to see them and talk with them.

This week. Huh. Oh. You know the mailman from Cheers? Clif? Well, now he has his own show: John Ratzenberger's "Made in America". And he does movies... he was the flea in a Bug's Life, the semi-truck in Cars, and a bunch of other characters in recent times. So he was in Chicago on Wednesday at the Museum of Science and Industry to speak about keeping industry in America. I can't say that I echo his sentiments... I'm more of a global person... but him and his entourage did have some good things to say. Probably that which I agreed with the most was that we've got a cultural stereotype that machinists, plumbers, and manufacturing people of my generation are the academic rejects. This is not good. It pushes people away from these jobs, and certainly doesn't do well for those who wish to practice in these fields. He also brought up good points about getting kids away from the tv to 'tinker' and play (and fighting the obesity epidemic) and good points on health care.
But at points, it did get a little too pro-nationalism, pro-worker, pro-whatever rallyish for my taste. In the end, the "Keep it Made in America" theme was more like "Don't let it get Made in China".

But yeah-just a quick note-I think that even though their ideologies and reasoning might differ greatly, environmentalists and the "Made in America" crew would be a good team. One good point is that America is the country of all the great producers of the world with the probably the most advanced controls on waste production... you've heard about the massive pollution in China... and we do treat our workers the best of all the worlds great producers...

I also saw '11th Hour' recently... the 'Inconvenient Truth' spinoff with Leonardo DiCaprio. I thought it would suck. But it didn't. This movie was probably better than 'An Inconvenient Truth'... good scientists, good points, and good solutions offered. I highly recommend getting a big group of people together to watch the movie, and then having dinner afterwards, to facilitate discussion. I am changing as a result of what I have learned. I've also done outside research in the past few weeks about the global situation (due to a growing interest in geophysics and environmental science, as well as more recently some interest produced by this movie), and all of the research points toward the need for immediate action.

Just a quick thought (I swear... the entry is almost over)-
You use chemicals, right? Windex? Clorox? Gasoline? All that random stuff that's fabricated to go in your Doritos or Cheetos? So... how do they make all those chemicals? Where does all the waste go? Just how much energy are we using to make something taste a little bit different, or a little more fake-cheezy (sic) rather than eat good, old-fashioned bread? It's crazy. The waste produced (both CO2 and other chemical waste) is crazy.

Okay. One more thing. Today should be cool. I'm going to a meeting of a psychology lab, so that I can start working there... I'm interested these days in physical responses to stress. So is this lab. Should be sweet.

And tonight-dinner with Kelsey and Cece at Trattoria31, an Italian spot on W 31st. I haven't had real pasta in ages. So stoked.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Hello, World!

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So this weekend won't really be a walk in the park.
I've got a physics midterm on Monday for which I really need to study.
I've got a paper due on Monday.
I've got reading to do for Mind for Monday.
I've got reading to do for Philosophical Perspectives to do for Monday.
I took a math midterm, yesterday.

Okay. So last night, Kelsey, Cece, and I went out to dinner at a place called "The Nile Restaurant" on 55th. Pretty good stuff. We had an amazing waitress who was more nonchalant than I think any waitress I've encountered has been that apathetic. Like... she spilled some oil from Cece's Tabouli on the table, and was like, "oh. I'd better clean that up." She didn't really know the prices for the fish that was on the menu, so said, "oh. I'll go check what that costs." But it was a great meal. Gigantic portions, ridiculous amounts of Middle Eastern salads (like... tabouli, yoghurt, etc. They gave a lot), and surprisingly good pita bread. I had a shrimp, salmon skewers. Pretty good. I'd get them again.

I'm pretty stoked for next weekend... All University students have a day off, thanks to "College Midwinter Break". I'm taking advantage of this, and will be cruising on over to Notre Dame to spend the weekend with my friend Ryan. He's in a musical production called "Kiss Me Kate". Even better, his family'll be coming for the Saturday night show, so it'll be a little convocation of Strongsville in South Bend, Indiana. It'll be pretty cool to see what Notre Dame's like... I haven't ever been there before. No doubt, I'll post some pictures.

And this is all brought to you by my dropping that terrible math class. I think I'll actually be able to travel more and come home sometime, because now I don't have all that work and all that stress. I'm putting more effort into my other classes, and learning real stuff in math that's really useful for physics. We're learning about stress and stress responses in Mind... talk to me about it over lunch/dinner/breakfast sometime. It's seriously sweet stuff, and I realize that the way I was living last quarter put me in a pretty bad condition. Long story short: Chronic stress is bad news. Oh. And friends are very good for you. Scientifically-it's been proven.

We aren't going anywhere tonight... last night was the "hurrah" for the weekend, and a mellow one at that. There's simply too much work to do, this weekend. The dining hall, Pierce, is closed tonight, so we'll be going off to a Jimmy John's (sub shop) on 55th that we've been meaning to scope out for months now.

Plans for the next few weeks...
Jason's thinking of coming up sometime soon. I hope he does. It'd be unparalleled. Well.... not easily paralleled.
Dad might have business up here Feb. 18/19th. That'll be pretty cool, too. Lunch/dinner. Good stuff, good break.

Chicago's not so good at cleaning their sidewalks. There's a ton of ice and standing water and other treacherous stuff. My boots keep my feet pretty good, but if I didn't have them, it'd be bad news. Waterproof stuff is cool.

OH! Yeah. At the rec center, every one of the 39 cardiovascular stations has a "Cardio Theatre". Or at least, they're supposed to. A few are broken. Anyway. I hop on the treadmill for my run this morning, flip on the TV, switch the channel after 8 minutes because I watch CNN for politics and world news NOT Angelina Jolie, and land on the WB. Batman. Saturday morning cartoons. Needless to say, it was a good run. Full of villains, heroes, and commercials for Barbie.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Bucktown/Wicker Park

So=It's been a pretty busy week.
The first half of the week, was basically totally swallowed by searching around online and applying to summer internships. I'm very very excited about all of them: Opportunities are nationwide, and I'm going to be applying for not only physics, but also geophysics, geology, and environmental sciences internships, too. I like these subjects, but I don't know much about them yet, so I think it'd be really a good learning experience to spend a summer submerged in one of the subjects.
I've only applied so far for 2 internships (applications due Jan 31st and Feb 1st), but they each had multiple location choices. Location choices that I've made so far are: Golden, Colorado (a little west of Denver, pretty much directly south of Boulder), a spot in southeast Washington state, an island in Virginia,

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(Mountain View, CA)(Oh my gosh.. I just looked at this. It's amazing.)
And (as the shirt I saw yesterday said.... ) Cleveland is my secret weapon.
I'm pretty darn stoked, and I'll keep you all posted.
And there are more applications to come-including Nantucket, and a host of other spots. All of them good.

So the week passed with mostly work.... The psychology course I'm in mandated that all its students participate in at least 3 hours worth of psychology studies... so I've done an hour so far over 2 different experiments, and I've got another Monday. Mostly surveys to fill out... this is a topic for lunch conversation-so remind me when I see you next.

Friday night there was a Mardi Gras party put on by the school on campus. I didn't go. I stayed over in my room and did work. It was good.
But Saturday night, Cece and I took an excursion to a new part of town called "Bucktown". Quite honestly, unless you barhop or come on the right night (concerts), there ain't nothing to do in Bucktown. There's basically one (really cool) guitar store, and a lot of (ridiculously) expensive clothes. Akira....... one of the stores there..... is ridiculous, and far far far too imbued with a "dance club" vibe for my comfort. But they had some decent sale: $10 for a bunch of t-shirts that were once $50. I didn't buy any-but Cece bought one for each of her brothers.

We went to a restaurant called Hot Chocolate. Which had pretty awesome food, a good atmosphere, and pretty darn good hot chocolate. I had "Pasta"... which involved pumpkin and cognac seared scallops in some sort of pasta with more pumpkinish-tasting sauce. We also shared an appetizer of mussels. Cece had a spinach salad with duck and walnuts that were cooked with the duck. Dessert was "The Mexican" hot chocolate-2/3 hot chocolate, 1/3 milk, with a bunch of cinnamon.... and a slice of citrus cheesecake. Sort of slice. More like 1/3 cup of, and shaped like the 1/3 cup measuring cup.

Boots in Bucktown (not sure how they got here.)

Trader Joe's stop on the way back.

Today is time for physics. Oh. and the SUPER BOWL! Not sure if I'll watch all of it, but I'm sure you'll be able to find me downstairs in the suite for at least a little bit.

Oh. Excuse the facial expression, but the flash turned out cool: Fun with a flash.