September 1 Hiked from Wiesen to Lantch today. This took a good nine hours, starting after noon, and ending well after dark. I may be a bit footsore. Had some splendid views though. And despite ominous clouds, the weather held.
September 2 Sore feet so no hiking today. Went to Chur and enjoyed the sunny weather and old town. Also did food shopping.
September 3 Today we went to the Engadine. The weather was splendid, and we drove over the Albulapass, to just below the Berninapass. We hiked up to the Diavolezza restaurant with magnificent views of the Piz Bernina group of mountains. In the evening, we visited my cousin and her 3 month old son.
September 4 A late start and off to Statzer Horn. Grueling hike but an impressive view, and a return which had us climb along the ridge through the sunset (and finally down, in the dark).
September 5 Took a road trip to the Engadine today via the Julierpass, and visited Silvaplana, Maloja and St. Moritz.
September 6 Hiking to Arosa today. Unlike last trip, we took the trail through the Lenzerhorn valley, up over two passes, and down a very long, flat valley to Arosa. Returned to Lenzerheide via Chur by train and bus. Return was marred slightly by the dark, which ruined the view from the train.
September 7 Uncle and cousin (and little cousin) visited today. We had a nice walk around the area, and a relaxed day. Vacation ?!
September 8 Visit to Chur again today, though this time, we mainly visited camera shops and the little towns on the way, like Thusis.
September 9 Drove to Bivio below Julierpass, from which we hiked up Septimer Pass and the Lunghin Pass. A very pleasant hike, but on the way back, the rain really started to come down. Rain jacket helped, but not enough.
September 10 Today, off to Poschiavo, via Berninapass. Italian part of Switzerland. Lovely architecture, sunny weather, and stinking Italian cars. What more can one ask for? Poschiavo ranks as one of the nicer towns I've seen.
September 11 Visited Ticino. More Italian Switzerland. Visited the tiny (and exclusive) village of Ronco above the Lago Maggiore. Unexpectedly found the grave of Erich Maria Remarque (All Quiet on the Western Front). Arrived back late in Switzerland.
September 12 Packing up day. In the morning, cleaned up all the odds and ends. In the afternoon, visited all the little towns in the area.
September 13 Almost-at-Geneva day. Drove from Lenzerheide, to Chur. From there, we went west, over the Oberalppass, down to Andermatt, up the Furkapass, up Grimselpass, and finally down to the Brienzersee and central Bern. Ate lunch near Brienz, before continuing through to Fribourg over Jaunpass. Spent the night at a hotel in the French Swiss village of Charmey.
September 14 Finished the trip to Geneva with a stop at Gruyere on the way (cheese, anyone?). Spent the afternoon with uncle, and visited Geneva's lakeside area. Despite the curse of development, it is still a nicer city than any in California.
September 15 We went on an extended stroll through Geneva's suburbs today. Saw an amazing amount of farmland and several little villages right outside the village. Also wandered, accidentally, into France. Returned without incident. In the evening, met with cousin, and two little ones too.
September 16 Left Geneva in the morning. Drove along Lake Geneva. A beautiful, though slightly hazy day. After driving through much of Valais, took a side road up the Val D'Anniviers to St. Luc. Stayed at a little hotel, where we stayed 4 years ago.
September 17 Off on our last major hike. Starting from St. Luc, we ascended to the Meidpass, where we had a late lunch, and went down to Gruben. Spent the night in a funky hotel, the only one in the whole town. Fortunately they had space.
September 18 Perhaps our fastest hike of the trip. Started at 8AM. Reached the Augstbordpass at 10:30 (climb of 1100m). Going down on the other side was slower. Reached St. Nicklaus around 3PM, whence we took the train to Zermatt, in sight of the Matterhorn. A relaxed afternoon.
September 19 Up at 6:30. Off for Schwarzsee, under the flank of Matterhorn. Took a wrong trail, and so took the long way up. Final stage was right under Matterhorn. Had an amazing view from the See. We returned to St. Luc in the afternoon by bus, and then drove to Neuchatel to meet another uncle and cousin. We spent the night at a hotel overlooking the central market square.
September 20 Visited much of the town of Neuchatel. In the afternoon, drove to a little town near Biel where we spent the night overlooking a wedding in progress.
September 21 Traveled to Zofingen to meet a cousin and her (by now) 4 month old son. Drove to Zurich and spent the night in a hotel next to the airport.
September 22 Up at 4:15AM. Trip wasn't eventful, save for the ticket agent who tried to keep us boarding because we had no transit visa. The flight was looong though. Arrived in SFO around 2PM, and had our baggage minutely examined by customs agents. Thanks Uncle Sam. Reached home around 5PM. Did a little, and collapsed. Some trip.
September 23 Woke up at 5:30AM. Began the somewhat complicated task of figuring out just what I needed to take to school. Fortunately, some things were pretty simple. Also caught up on some of the news. One could hardly claim this as a good thing though. Let's just say the world has not necessarily improved.
I needed to go over and drop off stuff, so I did this. En route, I managed to rent a music locker, and buy books for some of the classes I'm thinking of. Bookstore is it's same overpriced self (though with a 1.6GHZ G5 in the computer section). Got my dorm. key, went in, and of course the first person I see is Adam (from Junipero and draw group) in the lounge. Cool. My room turns out to be a corner room, which means things are quite nice, although I'm on the top bunk for now (hopefully no vertigo this year, so this won't be an issue).
After saying hi to everyone, 4 of use went off to Fry's in search of 3 fans and hard disk respectively. No fans at Fry's (sold out), so went to a few other spots. Being on 3rd floor has definite limitations on days like these. We did manage to get some screen at Home Depot to keep the bugs from coming in at night (closing windows is not really a fun option). We went to a good number of stores looking for fans, but the cheapest were about $60, so we gave up.
Back to Stanford then for Sophomore Welcome. This event seemed to be mainly people giving speeches about how fun and challenging the year ahead will be. I was not impressed. What's so difficult about writing a half-way interesting speech (without repeating the same cliches ad infinitum), or if this proves too tough, getting a decent speechwriter? Apparently something must be, because after an hour of hearing about challenges and intellectual exploration, I'm thinking that creativity must definitely be on vacation around here.
In the evening then, it was a matter of driving back (through somewhat less than fun traffic), more packing, and a late dinner. I miss Switzerland already.
September 24 First day of classes. Woke up around 6AM. Blah. Finished some last minute packing, ate a quick breakfast, and drove over Stanford. My dad helped me drag the last of the supplies (hopefully) up to the dorm room. Then I was off to class in a hurry. Unfortunately, I couldn't find my bike. I thought I'd left it in front of Flo-Mo, but no bike. Argh. So walked to classes.
First class of the morning was History 165A (pre-1800 American history). Although the professor was knowledgable, for some reason the class just didn't excite me as much as I thought it would. Maybe it's because of the focus on cultural history (rather than political, or economic). In either case, I'm not sure if I'll take that class.
Second class: Math 103: Matrix theory. Dull. This is the umpteenth time I'm hearing about linear systems of equations. I don't think I'll take this one either.
Third: History 187: Palestine, Zionism, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Wow was this class crowded. A 60 person lecture room with many people on the floor. Got a good seat fortunately. Professor was quite articulate and interesting. Unfortunately, I suspect his views to be rather in line with mine. Too bad. Disagreement is often more productive. Anyhow, I hope I can get into his introductory seminar (on the modern middle east), but if it's similarly popular, I doubt it.
Then back to dorm for lunch. On classes today I'm so far 1-1-1 (1 I'll take, 1 I won't, and 1 I'm undecided on). Lunch was its usual quality self. One day into school and already subsisting on soup and salad!
After lunch, came Math 115: Functions of a Real Variable. This was what I tried over the summer but dropped, only with a different professor. However, it looks like we'll take a slightly less breakneck pace, and this professor is focusing a lot on the mechanics of proofs. Maybe I'll take this instead of 103?
CS 107: Progamming Paradigms was good though. The professor lived up to his reputation as a fast talker. But he also was very entertaining, and effective. If I don't die of the workload, I think I shall enjoy this class very much. Maybe I was made to be a CS major?
Then back to the dorm for a little rest. Met a few neighbors, one of which is quite a "character" as grandpa would say. His geekspeak puts mine to shame (mind you I don't claim to be a geek anymore, but I have picked up a _bit_ of the lingo). Dinner wasn't too exciting. Afterwards, on the way to practice flute in the music building, I saw someone who looked familiar. He wasn't though. But in the process of arguing this with my roommate, I saw something which was definitely familiar: my bike. It was parked in front of the bookstore. Whew! Looks like I left it there before leaving for Switzerland, and completely forgot about it.
We had our first house meeting around 10PM. Hardly had the previous occupants of Arroyo run in and sloshed us with water though, when most of the Junipero folks left for the reunion that was going to be held. I was only there for the ceremonial handing-off of the J-Ram (ram's head) to this year's J-Ro folk. Still, it was amazing to see all the old faces. Odd how I never missed some of them until after I moved out. Jet lag kicked in around 11PM though, so I left early, and went to bed.
September 25 Under the misguided notion that History 165A was meeting this morning, I went to classroom, then realized that section meets today, not lecture. So, wasted time for about an hour before heading to Economics 1: Introduction to Economics. There were at least a dozen people in it from last year's dorm. Was pleasantly surprised that the professor was actually somewhat engaging (important when you're in a lecture hall with 250+ other students, somewhat early in the morning). Went to History 187, where after a slow start we launched right into the history of Palestine beginning with Ottomans. After class, asked the professor about the seminar I wanted to take. He indicated that 120(!) freshman had applied for 16 spots. So I guess my chances of getting in aren't too good. Darn. Bought the course reader for 187 though. Guess I have to take it now, since reader is a nonrefundable $75. Almost as thick as War and Peace too...
Practiced flute over lunchtime. Orchestra audition did not go too well. Sigh. No actual classes this afternoon, so I spent a lot of time organizing my backpack (though not my room, that's still a huge mess), and doing little else. In the evening, my dad dropped off a fresh consigment of forgotten stuff from home (bike light, clothes hangers, etc.). Then did the week's reading for History 187 in Green Library (fortunately short), and went back for the dorm. Slow day. I miss vacation.
September 26 In keeping with the grand tradition of waking up far too early, I was up at half past 7. Jet lag? Dunno. Managed to do a bundle of chores, including returning all my History 165A books to the bookstore. Always is nice to get money _back_. Bad news is I can't find one of the books. Also, it doesn't look like I can fool their return system into returning older books, so there is no possible $200 refund for Math 103/120 books. Darn.
Went to Econ first in the morning. It was section in a building I'd never been before (School of Education), but aside from that, wasn't too exciting. I honestly couldn't divine a point to our little auction/trading game. Then again, maybe there isn't a point to trade. Wouldn't surprise me too much.
Ran into 2 Math 51H folks (from 2 years ago) in the morning. Amazing to see how quickly these people have moved along. Me, I'm still floundering. Must start actually taking classes that make sense. Hrmph.
Had Math 115 in the afternoon, followed by CS 107. 115 was pretty good, except that sometimes the professor seemed to be making less than optimal explanations. Which is fine for now, since most of the stuff I'm familiar with. I hope it doesn't continue though when we get to the new stuff. CS 107 was a discussion of internal representation of variables in memory. I'm not 100% sure that this is by itself useful, but it certainly was interesting, and I hopefully have a basic idea of how floating point is done.
After that, took a brief brain vacation (ie I read half a dozen online newspapers), then had dinner. After dinner, tried to practice for my audition for Wind Ensemble. Came to the definitive conclusion that the piece I've been playing hasn't improved as of late. Au contraire, it's getting worse. So my audition actually worked out worse than yesterday's (for orchestra). Well, I'll know if I've got in by tomorrow, but it sure doesn't look promising.
The rest of the evening was more or less a mishmash. I was vaguely sociable for a good bit, and after chatting for a while, and trying to imitate a British accent reading The Hitchhiker's Guide, we watched the musical play "Fermat's Last Tango." Suffice it to say that this peculiar bit of theater was a rather lengthened and perhaps melodramatic portrait of the mathematician who solved Fermat's last theorem. He wasn't too far from being nuts either.
September 27 I'm sure I mentioned how addictive T.E.G. is at some point :-) Yup, not too many months back. It still is. At breakfast, I got overcharged (again), and for once, I did something about it. It's not really that I care particularly how much the food costs, since they've pretty much got a monopoly, and I can't help that. But they've raised the price on everything except for sushi this year, so I really don't see why they can't at least stick with their own official prices instead of inventing them off the top of their heads.
In the afternoon, along with the usual computer catch ups (I did my first gcc build in over a month), I discovered one of the guys in our draw group has a 3 year plan. Cool. Thought I could use something like that. So I made one. It would have been easier if I knew what my major was. But that's okay, I just had to make room for two (and the 5 years cover grad school, maybe). Can I call it the "Great Leap Forward?"
Went to check on audition results. Blah. No dice. Not sure whether I did badly or others did very well. Both I suppose. Irritating.
In the evening, after dinner (made sure of the price before going through the register), a couple of friends from Half Moon Bay came over to visit. The ever popular question: "what's there to do around here" didn't get answered. But we had a good walk and chat, and so I'm at least a bit caught up with what's going on with the rest of the world (the more bizarre/interesting bits anyway).
September 28 Spent the morning listening to some old radio programs, and reading up on world events. I think I've got my schedule finally worked out. I hope so. Started reading for the CS assignment. Realized that while I'm pretty good at doing stuff in C++, I'm still pretty shaky on a lot of the concepts. Hopefully CS 107 will help this (and not simply try to exacerbate the problem).
In the afternoon went to Meyer where I wrestled with the printing system for a good while before it relented and gave me my stuff. I can definitely see the usefulness of having one's own printer. Can mine be a color laserjet?
My dad came by in the afternoon, and with him came the photos from the trip (or rather, the few that I took, his black + white ones are still to be developed). I have some rather interesting scenes of the Matterhorn, Cows, and various alpine phenomena. We went on a walk to the radar dish not much afterwards, which was nice, although warmer than I'd expected. I got back just in time to miss watching "Matrix Reloaded" for the 4th time. That's okay. My roommate and I watched the trailer for "Matrix Revolutions" and "Return of the King" (captured by Tivo with Chinese subtitles) instead.
And of course, lest I forget about the world at large, I took did my obligatory search of google news for anything particularly pertinent, and came upon a very interesting piece from Democracy Now!. The gist of it is that Alan Dershowitz seems to have used some extremely questionable research techniques for his new book, The Case for Israel. His unwillingness to do anything save evade the question does not impress me either.
September 29 Up bright and early at 9AM. Breakfast helped my sore throat a bit, but I guess I'm probably in the process of getting sick. Joy. Still, it was a beautiful morning, and I even managed to get a portion of my math homework done before my first class (which, thanks to some schedule futzing, is now at 11AM or later, every day).
In history (187), we began to deal with "The Crisis of Eastern European Jewry" as the lecture was entiteled. It is curious to note, that as a solution to the persecution of Jews in eastern Europe, Zionism was not the most popular solution offered. Emigration westward, and Socialism both were far more widespread approaches. In fact, the professor noted that from 1882-1914, of an estimated 2 million Jews who migrated, 85% went to the U.S., and only 3% to Palestine. Despite wide acceptance today, there seems to have been nothing inevitable about its rise.
After lunch was math class and then CS. Then at 4:15 came Farsi class. Those with good memories will recall that I took just such a class last year, fall quarter. And in fact, it is exactly the same class that I'm taking now. Thanks to the university's policy, I can't audit it, and since I want to continue 2nd and 3rd quarter, but have forgotten most of what I learnt last year, I must retake it. Hopefully it will prove better organized than last time. At a minimum, my grasp of the alphabet is better this time around!
All I can remember about the evening was a lot of reading about Palestine and Zionism. Amusingly, Theodore Herzl (credited with founding Zionism) writes something to the effect that he does not care if the Jews make Palestine or Argentina their homeland, but he suspects they will be more in favor of Palestine. I'm trying very hard to envision a Jewish state in Argentina.
September 30 My throat is less sore this morning. Good. I missed breakfast though. Less good. History class was again the first class of the morning. Today's discussion continued detailing the formation of Zionism. One of the most interesting points brought up was that initially, Jewish immigrants in Palestine did not get on at all well with the existing Jewish community there, who perceived the newcomers as a threat to local stability. In fact, they even joined in Arab protests against Zionist immigration.
After lunch I had my matrix math class, which nearly put me to sleep. The professor's a nice enough guy, but he goes over the material sooo slowly. CS discussion section was basically an introduction to programming in "Unix." Which is to say, stuff I've been doing for the last 3 years. Not too exciting. The one thing I did learn was that we're supposed to teach ourselves STL. Which is positively wonderful, because I have yet to find a good STL reference. Guess I'll just have to muddle along then. For the record, one neighbor in the dorm doesn't regard C++ as a programming language. Having tried to wrap my head around various bizarre and twisted STL references, I'm tempted to agree.
Still, all good things must come to an end. So I gave up on STL (for now), did various and sundry math problems, and hopefully organized my backpack to the point that I can find my pencil tomorrow (I hate writing notes in pen).