November 1 I think I hate Fridays too. Can't even remember most of what I did in the morning. I think I did some math, but I can't remember. Went to math lecture in the afternoon, and, just for kicks, went to math 51H lecture as well (I took the same course last year, but with a different professor). Boy do I feel sorry for the people taking it this time around. If the professor complicates the simpler stuff so much, how the heck will anyone be able to understand the harder stuff (like proof of Gauss' Theorem). Went afterwards to a political discussion in the CoHo (Coffee House). Discussion was all right, but a bit too short. A lot of things were left unsaid. Went in the evening to the Stanford Theater with my dad, and saw the Marx brother's comedy "Horsefeathers." It was truly hilarious, so I hope I get to see more Marx brother stuff in the future...
November 2 Waking up was difficult. Did a little physics experiment on stress, strain, and mechanical advantage, before running off to a flute lesson with my teacher from high school. That was a lot of fun. Then we did the laundry at the same place we used to. That was nice too. Despite nostalgia, I think that I really had things pretty well off in high school. Especially toward the end. Went to a park in Foster City for lunch, where we ended up watching the youngsters play match after match of soccer. I really do miss playing soccer a lot, even if I was never that good. Spent a lot of the evening on the phone, and still more of it moping around in the dorm. Went out with friends from high school to see a movie (friends from high school is kinda wordy, and misleading too, since I don't have college friends yet, not that I'm aware of). Movie was pretty silly ("I spy") but the company was nice.
November 3 Happy 18th Birthday, Kristine! Guess that makes you eligible for all sorts of things ;-) Woke up fairly late, and enjoyed the sun for a bit, before running off to do some serious studying. Farsi midterm is tomorrow, and my writing skills are, well, nonexistent. Worked hard to remedy the situation. Didn't do as much in the evening, but did organize my laundry after a long wait. Looks like I have enough T-shirts for now. In the evening saw "Road to Perdition" at flicks. That is one heck of a movie. Good acting. Good story line. Good moral. Overall great movie. Just wish it had been shown an hour earlier.
November 4 Monday. Not bad for a Monday. Worked hard and got a lot done. Began with IHUM lecture. Stayed awake, which was a challenge owing to sleep deficiency. Same problem presented itself in math. Reviewed the entire afternoon for Farsi midterm. When the midterm finally showed up, it was disappointingly easy. Still made too many stupid mistakes, but... Flute choir was somewhat abbreviated, but since we didn't have a break, it didn't feel like it. Played through Mozart's Overture to the Magic Flute entirely too many times. Realized that the bass flute is nice, but only when the acoustics are good (namely not in the practice room). Went to bed in a sour mood due to a phone call gone awry.
November 5 What a day! A day where nothing quite makes sense, and the world seems just slightly off its axis. Begun auspiciously enough when someone brought bagels to IHUM section. Then went off to play flute. Received perhaps the most disconcerting phone call ever. Hmm... Not sure what to think. So I just walk around campus singing, and paying my phone bill. Math section at 2:15, after a lunch in which I saw a person from our dorm I hadn't seen in a good solid month. After math section, go pick up football season tickets (why did I get those again?). Then run off to get shots. I wouldn't have bothered 'cept they put my winter quarter registration on hold. Aside from a slight pain on my right upper arm, it went flawlessly. Then ran off to a math seminar about unsolvable math problems. I left with the feeling that math in general will be an unsolvable problem for me. Polisci major maybe? Next order of business: dinner. Then comes the first meeting of the Stanford Civil Liberty Union. Panel discussion on the war against Iraq at Tresidder was extremely well attended (many persons being relegated to standing room, including me). Came back to the dorm for election results, and almost wish I hadn't. Republicans look like they've made a killing. I only hope the depression they cause won't be as bad as the last big one. And if Fritz loses in Minnesota, I'll eat my ballot...
November 6 Blech! Up late 'cause I stayed up way too late last night. Looks like Mondale did indeed lose. There goes any remaining faith in decency and common sense... My question is how long 'til they cut taxes again. After all, cutting taxes cuts the deficit, right? Spent the morning sleeping, then helping someone write letters for donors to a scholarship fund. Well, a "letter", but it took over an hour to do. Then decided to put my nose to the grindstone and write down my thoughts on the war in Iraq. In a word: no. Had a quick lunch, before setting about cleaning my room. Exciting. Rediscovered some old posters to tack on the wall. In the afternoon, spent several hours at the library trying to get homework done. In the evening, went and saw a preview for an excellent movie: "Power and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times." John Junkerman's documentary about Noam Chomsky's response to the September 11th attacks. Chomsky is one of those rare people who can really make one think.
November 7 I did go to all of my classes today. Probably a good thing since there were only 3. IHUM section was interesting enough, with a conclusion to our discussion of Walden. Not going to yesterday's lecture appears to have been a mistake, since I hear our teaching fellow and one of the main lectures had a heated "discussion." Then flute practice. Had a really hard time concentrating. Hangover from yesterday I guess (figuratively speaking). Flute lesson went pretty well, but I screwed up a few things pretty thoroughly. Math section was interesting, although I came to the realization halfway through that I'd really screwed up a Matlab problem, and a rush to the library was necessitated. By which point it was raining pretty heavily. Came back to the dorm for dinner, and heard the wind and rain attempt to pummel the surrounding trees into submission. A beautiful night. Nothing quite beats a good storm. A friend from another dorm dropped by too, which was neat, and we ended up having a 2 hour long discussion. Kinda wish I could have more of those... Oh, yeah, and as of yesterday, I'm single again. I plan on staying that way.
After the talk on Iraq on Nov. 5, I decided to try to collate my thoughts on the topic Be warned though, it ain't short. I also saw an excellent film about Noam Chomsky which I highly recommend: "Power and Terror."
A brief synopsis of the 2002 midterm elections can be found here
November 8 It continues to rain today. And I mean rain. Spent all morning in the dorm. Did a lot of this and that, which culminated in my eventual cleanup of my desk, and a lot of computer junk removal. I also attempted to start on next week's math homework, before I realized I'd done most of it over a week a ago. Checked those answers instead. After lunch went off to math section. Didn't get too wet, but my shoes'll be soaked for a while. Afternoon was very uneventful. Following dinner though, went off with my dad to an A Cappella concert in Toyon Hall. Looked like a very nice place. If I don't move back home next year, that looks like a good second choice. Both Mixed Company and The Stanford Mendicants did a great job. Realized right after the concert that the Stanford Theater had a Marx brother film on. Dashed off to Palo Alto where we wandered the soggy streets before the movie started. "A Night at the Opera" is one of those movies you just can't leave without feeling good. Oh well, I'm sure it'll pass. Went home for the night. My second time home since exile began (9.18.02). That also gave me a good feeling. "Ain't no place like ho-ome...."
November 9 Woke up in my very own bed at 1197 Miramontes St. Geez that felt good. Realized that the Quiz Bowl competition was Saturday, not Sunday. So back to Stanford for me and my dad. Discovered the competition was in the History building. Found the HMBHS (Half Moon Bay High School) team without too much difficulty. Gosh I miss Quiz Kids. Even though I had to sit in the audience, rather than at the desk with sweaty hands on the buzzers, it still felt great. This year's team really does play like a team, much like it did at the end of last year. Almost wish I could go back to high school. Oh well. Team lost the first two matches before I arrived. They then went up against the Menlo Atherton team which consisted of one person: Daniel. Admittedly they lost by 10 points, but the way Daniel was hitting that buzzer, they made a pretty good showing. Match eventually wound up in the afternoon, with us 6-4, but it was probably the most fun I had all week. Went home afterwards, and prepared for a LAN party with the old gang (minus our Illinois target). It was certainly a treat, the 5 of us in the shack, fragging away for hours on end. Caught up on some of the happenings in the world too. Eventually had to go home. Wish I didn't have to get up tomorrow.
November 10 Sunday. Woke up in my very own bed again. Felt pretty sleepy, but managed to get up. Went back to Stanford early, as my dad was going to the dark room to print photos at Foothill. Eating breakfast was probably the best part of the day. After that I fell on a sort of decline, not really doing much for most of the day. Did get to reread large portions of Hayduke Lives! and research Robert Jordan's Crossroads of Twilight the alleged 10th book in his Wheel of Time series. Good books generally, but long, and the last few haven't been quite so good. Did a lot of daydreaming too, which did wonders for general productivity. Moan. Where did all the time go?
November 11 Me = depressed. Sigh. I hate Mondays. Tried to study for my IHUM midterm in the morning, but failed to come to any startling new realizations. I guess I just don't like writing. Especially the structured kind with the perforations near the edges. IHUM midterm was actually reasonable. Reasonable in that I didn't run horribly short of time, and my responses were more or less coherent and legible. More is too much to ask! Practiced flute after that, and got so engrossed that I almost missed math class. Playing flute always seems to improve my mood. Guess I should do it more often. Went to the library for a bit, before Farsi class. Then did more flute practice, before Flute choir. Flute choir went pretty well. For once I am neither the one offbeat, nor the one out of tune. Joy. Return to the dorm, do nothing, but don't go to sleep. No don't ask me why, I don't know either. Eventually do go to bed, and have some really weird dreams.
November 12 TGIT? I guess it really is Tuesday. Hard to believe. IHUM section was canceled for the morning, so I started reviewing for the math midterm on Thursday. My method: do lots and lots of problems from the book. About 3 hours worth to be precise. I love the library well enough, but they really need good chairs. I've got one sore butt now. Then had lunch, went to math section. Did a review of multivariable limits, and made some really bad math jokes. Spent the afternoon doing more review. My roommate joined too, but as we couldn't find a single available group study room, we were relegated to the outdoors and later the dorm. Went off for a math review session after dinner. Was very impressed with the TA. Clear, competent and French (just threw the last one in 'cause it's true). Session ended up lasting 2 hours, but I barely noticed. Some days I think the TAs should do the lectures, and the teachers should run the sections...
November 13 Yawn. Well at least life is busy now. Keeps my mind right where it should be: matrices and Robinson Crusoe. Started reading Friday for IHUM. Book basically takes Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, and plays around with alternate possibilities. Like Robinson becoming closer to nature. IHUM lecture at 11 did clarify a few things, but confused others. Why is this such a conservative novel? Returning to nature was hardly a conservative idea, even in the 1960s. Me = confused. No lunch today. Instead, studied Farsi. Math lecture. Library. Was getting ready to study Farsi some more when I learned class had been canceled for the day. Studied math instead. Had a late dinner before going off to another math review session. Not as informative as last night's unfortunately, but still useful. When leaving, discovered my bike lock wouldn't unlock. Left the bike for a night. I'm sure it can look out for itself at least as well as I can.
November 14 The big day. Well, not really. Only a Math midterm... Up bright and early to finish my reading for IHUM. Went to locate my bike, and realized I'd left the lock open last night. Oops. After IHUM section, did a little math review and flute practice. Had my usual flute lesson at 1:00PM which went unusually well. Then went off to math section. Spent most of the period confusing myself about similar matrices. Somehow managed to extricate myself from a mess of CBC^-1 and C^-1DC. Whew. Returned to the dorm in the afternoon, where I studied until dinner. Made the mistake of eating a really big salad. Good salad, but me... feel... sleepy. Left for my midterm in a bit of a hurry. Without my bike light. Didn't see the cop behind the dorm 'til I was almost on top of him. Shoot. Guess I'll be appearing in traffic court sometime soon. Now, being almost late, I hurry on, and almost run into another group of cops. Detour through dark alleys, to arrive at math midterm with only 1 ticket. Midterm went okay, but coulda gone better. No symmetric matrices though. Returned very slowly and carefully, avoiding all lights and vehicles. Ah, to be paranoid.
November 15 To wake or not to wake, that is the question? Well, actually it was a question for about 20 minutes. Eventually dragged myself out of bed and to the shower, almost walking into several walls by accident. A hot shower and cold cereal helped wake me up. I actually managed to get homework done in the dormroom for 3 hours. Boy, it's been a while since I managed that. Something about the salad and pizza I had for lunch proved rather troublesome, but not so much that I missed my math lecture. Good thing too, since the multivariable chain rule has never been my strong point. Went to the library afterwards where I finished reading Friday. A very strange book, which shall require some thinking... Dinner, usually one of the dreaded experiences of the day (rivaled only by lunch), proved quite successful, with a lively argument about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ensued. I doubt I won the argument, but I'm getting better. Wish they had a class on arguing... Left at 8PM to see the newest Harry Potter film, with about 20 people from the dorm. Movie was quite good, far better than I expected, which made up for the 2+ hours spent getting to and from the theater and standing in line. Went to bed around 2PM to the heavy thump of techno music emanating from next door.
November 16 Woke up kinda early. Early, considering I went to sleep well after 2AM. Amazingly enough, the techno next door was still going strong. Ate some sushi in lieu of breakfast and managed to get the old stomach frazzled again. My dad and I then went off to take a walk by the bay. Problem was, finding an area of the bay with trails by it. Enjoyed a brief stint through East Palo Alto, the closest thing to a slum we have outside of SF in the south bay. Actually looked like a remarkably nice place to live (and nothing like occasional crime to keep housing prices honest!). Ended up spending quite a time walking up near the sewage treatment facility (which didn't smell that bad, certainly no worse than the dorm. Had lunch on a nice grassy hillock watching the geese browse. Realized the geese had also left tokens of appreciation nearby too. Ah well... Visited a shopping center after this excursion in search of ear muffs (so I can study and/or sleep easier in the dorm) and a watch (cell phone is a bit inconvenient, and I don't like the feeling that I'm always on call). Returned to the dorm for the evening, where all I managed to do in the next 6 hours was update my webpage and resurrect anonymous FTP. Realized I have large holes in my memory. Also realized this wasn't necessarily a bad things. Wrote up a real, honest-to-goodness gen-u-ine rant of the day. Moral of the story: if one must be an optimist, be a guarded one. "Irrational exuberance", as Fed chairman Al Greenspan may well have termed it, leads to many a sleepless night. Especially for those in college, sleep is important, so be careful kids, and don't play with hope.
November 17 Blargh. Me = depressed. Again. Should stay away from the computer. Reorganizing my old e-mail was a pretty stupid idea. Hurray for mbox though, it sure beats one-message, one file. A good number of the messages were supremely ironic though. Guess my hiatus as a cynic is over. Breakfast was by far the best part of the day. Good food, and plenty of nice warm sun. It was definitely all downhill from there...
November 18 And there was great rejoicing. Well, in point of fact, math midterm grades were up. Geez, I almost feel like I know something again. Much better than I expected. Ran off to the final IHUM lecture on Friday. I think it was a good lecture, but my attention kept wandering. Met one of the HMBHS folks and had one of the more talkative lunches in a long time. Guess speech doesn't necessarily atrophy from disuse... What was I saying again? Oh yeah, went to the usual array of classes. In the interest of flute practice, ended up skipping dinner. Always a good thing to practice before flute choir. Not sure how much it helped though, since our section got a lot of "special" (ie negative) attention. Funny, considering I thought we were doing a pretty good job. Oh well. Came back to the dorm afterwards, made a few calls, and succeeded in finishing the day on a negative note.
November 19 I never realized how difficult waking up at 9AM was. I managed to make it to class on time, but barely. Today's IHUM section considered an awful lot of differing topics, but ended with is going out to take a look at the Rodin sculptures and a 25 ft. totem pole. Our goal: to describe these works and how they demonstrate the "human self." I'm still not convinced there is such a thing (where "human self" = "real self" or "true self" or something along those lines). Math section was a bit more mixed than expected. The midterms were returned, and I was able to confirm my ungodly high score (still have no idea why I got full credit on number 9, my proof definitely omitted a number of key steps), but I also learned the my Homework 8 is MIA. Oh well, win some, lose others. Retreated to the library after class (Green Library), and discovered the Bender Room. The Bender Room is this large study room on the 5th floor of library with an excellent view of much of Stanford (which, for all my griping, is a pretty nice campus, at least from a distance). Only complaint: rotten chairs. Returned to the dorm for a late dinner and a nice long phone chat with a friend off in the far east (Virginia to be exact). Damn I miss the old crew. Christmas break is looking better ever minute! Was going to go bed, but learned that the Cal Band was due to come by at 2AM. Decided to join the Stanford Defense League, otherwise known as a bunch of people without early classes tomorrow. We prepared an arsenal of water guns, water balloons, and after some quick thinking, 15 dozen eggs. Unfortunately the band didn't come 'til quite late, and I ended up being out when they came, so much of the effort was a bit of a waste. Still have an awful lot of eggs...
November 20 I slept 'til 10AM today. Decided to give breakfast a pass, and gnaw on some bread I had bought the night before (at Safeway, when we got the 15 dozen eggs). Went to IHUM lecture, and successfully maintained an upright and awake position. More cannot be said (at least I sure don't remember it). A pity considering it was a good lecturer, and thus, probably a good lecture. Did math homework instead of eating lunch, which did nothing to improve my state of near-sleep. Math lecture, unfortunately did not help either. Spent some time in the dorm in the afternoon, ostensibly working. Become quite frustrated by the lack of an available Winter '03 class time schedule. Dinner was a zoo, thanks to a "let's imitate Thanksgiving" motif. I paid more for less food than at any other time this year, and I can't say it was even all that good (did enjoy the pumpkin pie). Went to a little presentation about the Winter-Spring Intro. to Humanities possibilities after dinner. Didn't learn anything new. Finally retreated to my cocoon in the dorm. Did a lot of nothing before going to bed. Bad author.
November 21 Woke up later than normal. Probably my cough and sore throat are a bad sign of things to come. Rushed to class without getting breakfast (2 days in a row now). Generally kept my opinions to myself during IHUM section, since my voice was being less than cooperative. Afterwards, went off and practiced flute. A lot. Had my usual flute lesson, which worked out better than expected. A few more weeks and I may even have a basic understanding of chords, always a useful thing. Then came math section, followed by an afternoon of reading Omeros. This final book for IHUM is probably the most convoluted and twisted piece of literature I have yet seen. Well-written yes, but as for understanding it fully, forget it. Took almost 3 hours took get through 100 pages. Ouch. Engaged in a number of phone conversations a bit later on. Learned that there are certain people I should not call when in poor spirits (or maybe at all?). Also began planning my schedule for next quarter. Things begin to look up. I sure hope they continue to. I'm sick of always having something to worry about, sick of worrying and feeling low in general. For the umpteenth time, resolved not to worry and/or feel depressed. We'll see if it lasts...
November 22 Blech. Friday. When I did wake up, talking was proving a bit challenging. I didn't manage to do anything worthwhile other than a general reorganization of my wall (now 60% covered!). I decided to go to math class with a different professor (we have 8 different Math 51 lectures, taught by 4 different professors). Turned out this guy was pretty darn good! Good to know he's teaching Math 52 next quarter too. After that, I came back to the dorm. for lunch, and made the mistake of eating greasy Chinese food. After the initial edification of the taste buds, I was blessed with indigestion for the rest of the day. Reading Omeros took far longer than it should have, given that the book has yet to say anything comprehensible by me, and I'm now on page 273. Otherwise, spent the afternoon looking at compiler news (Intel released Intel C++ 7.0 for Linux, GCC 3.2.1 is now out...). After missing dinner, I went off to Gaieties, the yearly quasi-musical designed to rally us behind our school and go win the Big Game against Cal. The result was a very entertaining 2 and a half hour drama which poked fun at almost everyone, but had a lot of great lines and innuendo. To end matters, Stanford president John Henessy himself appeared on stage and bellowed out (with amazing volume): "Go win big game!" After that, the band rushed the stage and played for a good while. Came back to the dorm and went to bed shortly thereafter.
November 23 Everyone was a touch groggy this morning. If not actually suffering the ill-effects of alcohol, most people nevertheless seemed distinctly sleepy, me included. The bus to take us to Berkeley arrived around 9:30, meaning that breakfast consisted of 3 Krispy Kreme donuts. Hmph. Bus ride over included a Simpsons videotape, so it wasn't until we got to Memorial Stadium that I really began to wake up. We spent over an hour waiting for the game to start. It was interesting, being outnumbered by Cal finds by at least 5 to 1 (in a stadium with 70,000 people), but unfortunately riots and brawls did not break out for the most part. The football part of the match was rather disheartening, since after the first touchdown, the Stanford team seemed content to watch the Bears score again and again. I'm not blaming them mind you, but in the interest of public disclosure I feel obliged to say that there was not a Stanford offense to speak of after 5 minutes into the game. The half-time shows were good though, with the Stanford Band reenacting the infamous 1982 play in which Cal came from behind to score a touchdown in the last 4 seconds (and collide with a jubilant Stanford Band). The game ended 11 seconds early when Cal fans stormed the field by the thousands, but with a score of 30-7, I doubt those 11 seconds would have mattered. As I left, fans were dismantling the goal posts on both sides of the field. I met a friend from high school and Quiz Kid who was attending Cal after the match, as well as plenty of his friends. They proved quite friendly fortunately, as my brawling skills leave a bit to be desired. After a good conversation and tour of the dorms, I took BART from Berkeley to Daly City. There, my dad picked me up (the wonders of the cell-phone as a planning device) and we went off to dinner at my favorite Thai restaurant in Half Moon Bay. To round out the day, I ran off to the movies with another group of high school friends where we saw the James Bond movie, "Die Another Day." For fans of action and James Bond, it may have had its moments, but for me it sure didn't. Went to bed at home well past 1AM.
November 24 Whether from the cold, or shouting too much yesterday, my voice has deteriorated. Ate breakfast at home before heading back to Stanford to get work done. Finished Omeros and a good chunk of math homework, but took some 5 hours to do it. Came back to the dorm to discover I hadn't made my bed in a while. Fixed that problem promptly. Now there's just the issue of vacuuming the floor. Made a few phone calls, and managed to convince friends to drop by and go bowling (convince may be the wrong word, as there wasn't active resistance or disagreement). Showed my dorm room to them, as well as the collection of pilfered street signs. No I'm not saying pilfered by whom. Went to Palo Alto Bowling, where I discovered just how obnoxious a bowling alley can be. I mean, the light effects were distracting enough, but the karaoke machine almost did me in. At least some of the guys who sang didn't pretend to have particularly sonorous voices, but the volume was incredible. Played 4 games. Did very well (for me) in game 2 (129) and game 4 (132). Guess I'm not too bad at bowling. On the way out, recognized a poorly attached road-construction sign. It has been relocated. Did some last minute odds and ends, before going to bed. I shall sleep the sleep of the peaceful and the dead. Peaceful 'cause all my worries have (for now anyway) vanished, and it is as if I'm floating about in the clouds. Have decided I'm involved in a definite relationship with freedom, although fun and I are become fast friends too. Live free or die. Let the good times roll.
November 25 Another Monday. This one went by with remarkably little of remark going by. Began with IHUM lecture through which I heroically maintained my awake status. Decided that eating lunch was generally a good idea. So returned to the dorm and did so. Spent after-lunch working on math homework, or more precisely, finding incompatibilities between Matlab 5 and 6. Yay! Homework took too long to finish. Afternoon was used doing something, I'm not sure what. Farsi class was followed by flute practice. My cough and runny nose peaked right about the time flute choir rehearsal began in the church. Managed to play through despite occasional coughs.
November 26 Today felt like running the marathon in flip-flops. Began by me waking up and going to IHUM discussion. It's official: I don't get literary criticism. Oh well, that just crosses another potential major off my very long list (in case you hadn't noticed, I'm very much undecided). Tried to make up for a lot of missed flute practices before my lesson. Lesson worked out remarkably well. Math section worked out pretty well too. Ill-effects from skipping yesterday's lecture are minimal. Then came the hard part. Coordinated with friends to pick me up and take me back to HMB. In the interim, packed all my stuff for the Thanksgiving weekend (cell-phone recharger included). Had a 4:00PM lunch of sushi, before my accomplices arrived. Invaded Fry's electronics briefly and picked up a number of $5 Linux games ($5 because their manufacturer is no longer). Spent the drive home discussing ironic ways of damaging Dick Cheney. Met with another friend and after a good bit of indecision, went out to dinner. Discussion of Mr. Cheney continued, as did discussion of many other things. My friends make me feel almost normal. Went home and fiddled around with Virtual PC for a while, before sleep.
November 27 What morning so soon? Must've stayed up too late installing Win98 SE on the TiBook. Made some last-minute adjustments of the baggage. Drove to HP from whence we took a cab to the San Jose train station. Rumor had it that Amtrak was actually on-time for once, but rumor proved wrong. Only 10 minutes late, not bad for government work (or Amtrak). Enjoyed just looking out of the window at the view for quite a while. Somewhere between San Jose and Salinas, the train got significantly delayed, but I didn't mind. After two months of Stanford, I've realized there's something to be said for doingnothingatallwhatsoever. Somewhere after Paso Robles I started doing math homework, and became involved in an extended argument with a 5-unknown non-linear system of equations. When the train finally did make it to L.A., I was completely flabbergasted to discover that we were, in fact, 10 minutes early. I must say, I'm quite disappointed in Amtrak! We met my uncle and grandparents at the station, and then it was off to rent a car. More than two hours later we were at a hotel, and I rapidly lost consciousness. Yes, it really did take two hours to rent the car.
November 28 Turkeyday. For the first in recorded memory, or at least the last few months, I exceeded 8 hours of sleep. Bizarrely enough, this made me feel even sleepier and more lethargic during the morning. Up we got, and, having thoroughly missed breakfast (a common experience for most college kids, but not me), went off to the uncle's house. There we tried to aid in Thanksgiving setup, but proved hopelessly inept. Even my 5 (and a half) year old cousin played an important role: she made place settings for all the guests. Actually festivities did not occur until after we had returned to the hotel and picked up a large quantity of ice. We came back and shortly thereafter the gorging began. Both Mollybird and Arlene disappeared rapidly along with large helpings of yams, stuffing and the like. Conversation around the table covered a lot of ground (most of it I didn't hear, being one among 25+), but salient topics included the bizarreness of Hungarian, the definition of a Catholic (as stated by the Catholic church) and the merits of advertising (yup, I was surprised too, marketers are real people). Dessert was especially interesting inasmuch as 2 very loud 5 year old girls engaged in a game of total war on one of the girls' fathers. The 3 remaining people neatly covered the generations, being me, my uncle, and a Czech film producer whose memory of WWII was nothing short of amazing. But like all good things, dessert end, and we dragged our overstuffed bodies back to the hotel for a good night's rest.
November 29 Turkeyday++. We had plans for the day. But they kinda got delayed. Sleep took precedence. Went over to my uncle's for most of the day. Played Trouble with my cousin, helped clean up the Thanksgiving setup, ate leftovers. In essence, relaxed. Finished the chess game that had been started the night before. Nice, slow and relaxed. Finally in the evening, went to a Hannukah celebration. Sat around playing with dradles, discussing movies and eating latkas. Not too bad. Finished up a bit later than expected: 10 not 7PM. Ah well, onward...
November 30 Onward, and forward. Plans for the day revolved around meeting a cousin. We got together in a coffee shop and had a very pleasant time, only slightly marred by Starbuck's management's insistence that no pictures be taken. They must've been afraid somebody would steal their secret setup. After that, we went and walked around the UCLA campus for a while. The architecture, especially of the older buildings, is spectacular. We meandered a lot, eventually landing in the UCLA sculpture garden, where a sculpture entitled "pensive" appeared to be made entirely of driftwood. Closer inspection showed it was in fact brass. Wow.
We had lunch at a very nice Thai restaurant, but rather late. The result was that when we returned to my uncle's house, we were roundly scolded for eating so soon before dinner. Then there was trying to plan the evening, a veritable 500 meter dash. First was the question of what to do after dinner. We eventually settled on going to see the L.A. Philharmonic. Next was the issue of where to eat dinner, given that yet another relative (a second cousin) was due to meet us. Finally there was the fact that my attire was not considered up to snuff for the LA Phil. Ah well. We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant where my attention was entirely occupied by my 5 year-old cousin. Then we had to rush off to the concert, a task complicated by the request that the driver produce "a story." We didn't have tickets, so 2 of us ran to the ticket counter. I ended up waiting in line for nearly 20 minutes so I could get student-discounted tickets. The actual concert was quite nice. The first half was Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, which was nice, but a little too laid back for my tastes. Fortunately, the second half was Respighi's Fountains of Rome and Festival's of Rome, which was anything but restrained. A long day. Oh, and as for my attire, nobody objected in the end. Guess blue jeans and a t-shirt do work for most occasions...