Justin's Blog

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.


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


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.

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.