April 1 Played a lot of flute today. First before my lesson. Then after my lesson and before flute choir. Flute choir's been meeting for a couple of weeks, but I missed the first sessions due to busyness at the end of last quarter. Catching up on a good bit of music. Chapped lips and cold haven't been helping too much, but it was still a nice transition. At some point in the evening, I wandered into a conversation on visualizing 4 dimensions. Fun! I have enough trouble with 3 sometimes.
April 2 Friday stinks. This one was a noticable exception. CS 103B was quite hilarious. Suddenly having a 10AM class isn't so bad. That Prof. should teach other stuff. Would make my life a lot more fun. No class in the afternoon, so I didn't really do much. Big surprise there.
April 3 For the life of me, I can't remember what I did. Most likely it wasn't anything. I did play Super Mario a hair bit too much. I also read far too much off of antiwar.com. Odd to see I now share many views with such conservative luminaries as Patrick Buchanan. He says the war in Iraq was in part a response to the Likudist sentiments of folks in the DOD like Paul Wolfowitz. I agree completely.
April 4 Sunday. Which means getting up late, eating brunch,and not doing too much else besides. I did manage to locate a couple of songs I'd been digging for, but that about describes the productive side of the day. Also discovered the wonders of Mahjong, plus began digging through my reading for history class for next week. In the evening, went on a walk up to the radar dish, and narrowly missed dinner.
April 5 First Monday of the quarter. Not a real reason to be excited though. CS 103B was fun, and history lecture was okay. After lunch, had E14 which was far less exciting. Ooh, vectors and forces. Yay! Not. CS 154 was somewhat more exciting, and abstruse. What in heck is a Non-deterministic finite Automata? Guess that's why I'm taking the class though. Spent the evening doing very little, which did nothing to improve things.
April 6 Was quite tired for the a surprising part of the day. Forgot that after history class, we had the movie on Muhammad to watch (called "The Message"). It was a long one (almost 4 hours), and we had a discussion following it. An interesting movie on the whole, all the more so because Muhammad does not appear (since the movie is officially recognized by both Shi'a and Sunni clergy). Somewhat more enigmatic is the movie's focus on the social and practical aspects of Islam, and its near complete avoidance of religious mysticism.
April 7 E14 homework due today. So I finished it while eating breakfast. Not my usual mode of operation, but it worked. CS 103B lecture was highly entertaining. Ever played the game, "donuts of hanoi"? Or dealt with rabbits which live forever? The fun just keeps happenin'. History lecture was a bit less exciting, but I learned a bit about religious interpretation which was certainly helpful. E14 was after lunch, which was a pity, since I was most definitely sleepy. Nothing I hadn't seen in Physics 53 though. CS 154 on the other hand was just reams of new material. Somehow, my grasp of NFAs, DFAs and epsilon-NFAs is going to really have to improve if I'm going to have a chance on the problem set. After that, I spent most of the evening doing my readings for history class. Muhammed's life being the prominent topic for the week, I read a lot on revelation and prophecy. Oddly enough the Marxist-atheist seemed to present the most sympathetic portrayal.
April 8 Here's welcoming Thursday. Had a quick breakfast before rushing off to practice flute. History section was somewhat interesting, not least because everybody was awfully quiet. I hope this isn't habitual, since there were 25 of us, and next week we'll be split into two groups. At any rate, we also had to kick out the Cold War history class from our discussion room, which was entertaining. After my flute lesson, I spent most of the afternoon trying to do the reading for CS 154, a task not aided by being quite sleepy, and having eaten rather too much of the dining hall's disgusting sweet and sour chicken. In fact, I had very little dinner at all, though I did plenty of talking to make up for it, since a friend from last quarter unexpectedly reappeared (she apparently didn't graduate because her thesis isn't finished, but she did move out). Then I had to deal with logistics for the weekend's trip to Yosemite. A friend from the Ventana wilderness trip came down with poison oak, and may not be coming which also complicated things. Eventually, I went home for the night (so as to be able to take the car tomorrow), where I slept quite well for the first time in a while.
April 9 Up reasonably early. Packing up the car was a lot simpler than last time (the Ventana trip) since the dorm's renting a cabin in Yosemite, obviating the need for tent/sleeping bags/etc. Stopped by the grocery store to pick up extra provisions (the dining hall theoretically is covering our food, but I'm less than fully confident in them) on the way to Stanford. Packed quickly before running off to CS 103B. Had E14 section next, which was severely underwhelming. TA was late, unprepared, and barely coherent.
Had lunch at the dining hall, before loading up the car. Managed to cram a surprising amount into the trunk. I had 4 people (total) in my car which made things not too crowded. We finally left for Yosemite around 1:30PM. I let a friend do the stretch of driving from Stanford to the central valley, which included a nice stretch of traffic on 580. Once we got into the central valley, things improved though. We stopped at Oakdale for gas and food, and then on to the park itself around 6PM. From there, it was another hour and a half to go down to the valley (we came in on 120), and then over to Wawona.
At Wawona we picked up the key for the cabin. The cabin was in fact quite large (room for 19 people in beds), but had the peculiarity that upstairs and downstairs rooms were not connected. Dinner was basically miscellaneous food, after which the second carload of people from the dorm. arrived. Didn't do a whole lot for the evening, but after a 200 mile drive, I wasn't exactly complaining about the rest. We did however have an invigorating pillow fight before going to sleep, which I may or may not have pictures of.
April 10 Trying to leave early is always tough. Especially if your friends are sleeping peacefully. Woke them up anyway, around 8AM. Then there was breakfast, packing up the backpacks, and finally the drive from the cabin (near Wawona) to Yosemite Valley behind an SUV which seemed incapable of exceeding 30MPH. However, we did make it to the Yosemite Falls trailhead, and began the day's hike around half past 10.
There were 5 of us, but we each had our own idea for a pace, so it took a while to sort things out. Still, we ascended out of the valley quite quickly taking only about an hour to reach the top of Lower Yosemite Falls. The upper section required a fair number of rests and pauses, but we reached the top of Upper Yosemite Falls slightly before 1PM feeling tired, but not exhausted.
Lunch we had on a nice sunny rock, which helped unburden (partially) our overstuffed packs. I have a knack for overpacking food, I guess. Once lunch was over, 4 of us continued on for a brisk walk up to Yosemite Point, a beautiful overlook with views of Half Dome, North Dome and much of Yosemite Valley. We even had some patches of snow to navigate through on the way up, despite the day's very strong sun.
Returning was a somewhat more rapid affair. Much to my amazement, I was the only one who found having a walking stick particularly valuable. It took us about 2 hours to get down. Once down, we drove to the foot of Bridalveil Fall to be rained upon, and to the Yosemite Village store to restore our stock of meat (the only food which we'd managed to finish on the hike). Finally it was back to Wawona and the cabin.
Wilbur dining had provided us with burgers and hot dogs, so the grill was started on the cabin's patio, and we had a somewhat meat-intensive dinner, and relaxed for most of the evening. That gave me plenty of time to plan for the next day. The plan basically morphed into a harebrained scheme to attempt ascending Half Dome the next day, which seemed both suitably exciting and unlikely to me. Managing to convince a friend to come along was the more challenging part of the exercise...
April 11 Somehow managed to sleep for another half hour after the alarm went off. Woke up the other 2 friends who were coming back with me, and loaded up the car. Still, didn't end up on the road until around a quarter of 7. The road from Wawona to Yosemite Valley was pretty much empty. We parked down by Curry Village in the valley, and after filling the pack, the two of us who were going to attempt Half Dome departed.
The sun was definitely not up on the valley when we passed the trailhead around 8:20AM. We crossed the bridge over the Merced river about 9AM, and continued up well-shaded switchbacks, bypassing Vernal Falls to arrive at Nevada Falls around 10AM. After a quick break, we continued along, for a short flat stretch, near the Little Yosemite campsite.
Next, the trail forked, and we began to travel along the huge arc back toward the ridge behind Half Dome. Quickly realized that carrying a gallon of water and more than 5 pounds of food was no fun. Still, on we went, passing the 7,000 ft. elevation milestone around 11AM. Switched the pack, and continued ascending to finally hit the ridge. From the ridge, one had an magnificent view of Tenaya Gorge, Little Yosemite Valley, and the surrounding peaks.
Unfortunately, the ridge led quickly to a very steep section which was completely covered with snow. We didn't have crampons, had only one walking stick, plus my friend didn't have hiking boots. So we somewhat reluctantly gave in, and ate lunch perched on the edge of Half Dome. We were about 300 ft. below the cables.
Returning was pretty straightforward save for two events. Coming off the ridge, we met two hikers who looked like they were in pretty bad shape (one had lips which were distinctly blue) who asked if we had any food to spare. That took care of the 3 pounds or so of uneaten food that we were taking back. In order to save time, we took the short route down from Nevada falls. This was quite rocky and as a result, my friend got blisters. While trying to cut a piece of moleskin to apply to it, he stabbed his hand with a knife. Fortunately, we managed to find a family nearby who had band-aids. Nonetheless, he started to faint, and there were some nervous moments.
The band-aids held though, so we continued, and finally made it back to the bottom (and the car) around 5PM. The drive back was pleasantly lacking in surprises, though we hit some nasty traffic on 580 re-entering the bay area. We were back at Stanford around 10PM, leaving me just enough time to unpack most of the stuff from the car, and collapse. We didn't quite make it all the way up Half Dome, but we did walk a solid 17 miles, with 3,800 feet of elevation gain. Whew!
April 12 I am sore. Well, to be precise, my shoulders, foot soles, and back is sore. It's the back that worries me, since my back usually does not have problems. Since we have a history of bum backs in the family, I'd just as soon it was some other body part. I did however drag myself to class. Wearing the backpack for more than a few minutes makes my back hurt. Not good. CS 103B took us into the realm of NP-completeness. A weird realm, I must say. E14 was no good. Can we say cross product and dot product? CS 154 was interesting, but I had major issues staying awake. My meeting with my prospective history advisor didn't happen since he was busy at the appointed time. Great. Evening spent working on E14 and beginning to read for history. Concentration was difficult though.
April 13 In a very bad mood. My back still hurts. After history class this morning, I spent the afternoon starting E14 homework. Keyword is starting because I never finished starting it. Waste of time. Finally got going late, but came nowhere near to finishing.
April 14 I'll be taking a late day on the E14 assignment. After morning classes, practiced flute for a few hours. Went to buy myself a copy of the E14 book and ended up with the E15 book instead. They do look awfully similar. Managed to almost finish E14 homework, and then proceeded to waste away the evening. Blargh.
April 15 My back still hurts. On a brighter note, turned in E14 homework and had a flute lesson in the morning. Then had history section and spent the afternoon on CS 103B. Straightforward stuff, but it takes a _long_ time to write out. Harrumph. I'm tired. Weekend soon? Please?
April 16 I finished the CS 103B homework about 10 minutes before it was due. Who needs to check answers anyway? E14 section was less than helpful, though perhaps it's good to know that TAs aren't infallible either. This one is a bit too far from infallible for comfort! After lunch, we did some preparations for the movie my roommate's been designing. My role is going to involve a lot of tapping with an umbrella, which is not only important to the movie, but quite strenuous on the wrist depending on the umbrella. Oh well... Afternoon was spent dealing with various somewhat randomish tasks. Went out to dinner with friends to the same Chinese place we went to on Monday for the birthday. Food was good. My tongue has overdone it a bit on the garlic sauce.
April 17 Spent the morning trying to get my room in order is as my wont on Saturday. Unfortunately there is still the small matter of a paper due Monday. Argh! At least managed to do some paper related research before being wholly diverted, first by the latest news from the Mideast, and second by the party that my floor of the dorm. was hosting. I can't say I participated much in the party, though I saw plenty of people who'd clearly drunk a little too much doing crazy stuff. One guy whom I'm usually barely on speaking terms with was extremely jovial and likable. Unfortunately for him, he was also very unsteady on his feet.
April 18 Having survived Saturday, unlike the unlucky Abd 'al Aziz al Rantisi, I am currently engaged in the struggle to liberate my paper from the confines of my head. Just as soon as I can get a good idea or so out, I'll be in good shape. It always comes down to starting, I guess. Somehow I manage to delay that as much as possible. Meanwhile, in the afternoon, visited relatives who live pretty close by, in Los Gatos. Odd that we haven't met before. They have a son who's just under 1 year old and is already roaming the house freely, though not quite walking yet. Oh, and he's got the same name as me too. Glad that I'm no longer the only Iranian one... After working on paper and dinner, ventured out to see the senior recitcal of one of my flute teacher's students. It was very impressive. Somewhere in the back of my mind there's the thought floating around that I'll never sound that good. Maybe I should just give up now? In any case, worked on the paper all evening, to the point that it was well beyond half finished when I went to sleep. Now let's just hope everything made sense.
April 19 Judgment day. Paper due in class at 11. So I was up at 6AM and working on my paper until 10AM. Not a great paper I'll grant you, but somewhat impressive if only for the fact that most of it was constructed in about 2 hours. In the afternoon, I took a break from productive things and began the process of putting the recent Yosemite and Ventana trip photos on the web (check the photo section). Felt somewhat better after this, but didn't do much work.
April 20 Not having a paper to worry about today, I sort of took things easy. Probably not the smartest idea. Plus read too much of the news and you just get depressed. Trust me, I've done it.
April 21 Okay, so I should have studied more for E14 (statics). But honestly, what's the point, the questions on the midterm were more or less trivial anyways? Caught up on flute practice in the evening. This week's etude is simply a mass of double sharps and random accidentals. Ugh.
April 22 Flute lesson and history section in the morning. Then lunch, and for the afternoon had to try and find a ride to flute choir. Turns out I misplaced the contact info. sheet, so things were made considerably more complicated. Succeeded though. I still don't have the alto flute for the Moldau part, so I didn't have to play the hard part. Afterwards, spent the evening working on CS 103B. I love being behind.
April 23 Had a relatively normal morning. CS 103B, E14 section, lunch and flute practice/homework in the afternoon. At dinner though, I was informed that we'd be starting filming tomorrow (my roommate's directing a film, and I volunteered to play one of the parts). Apparently I was given this fact a week ago, but who reads their e-mail carefully? So I got a ride home so as to pick up clothing necessary for tomorrow's production. That's what I get for not paying attention. Evening at home was nice though.
April 24 Let's here it for the penguins. Actually, the 6:50AM alarm clock. Arrived at Stanford with my acting wardrobe in tow around 7:30. Much to my surprise everybody was ready start filming. We headed off to the main quad with the equipment and started filming promptly at 8AM. The script has two main parts. The student, who plays a normal Stanford student (does such a beast exist?), and the umbrella man, who taps the student on the head with an umbrella for the duration of most of the movie (the role I perform). We finally finished for the day well past 5PM. We had scenes of the umbrella man tapping, chasing, getting beaten up and so forth. It was pretty sunny, so I ended the day drenched in sweat. The costume I wore, white shirt and black pants, was also somewhat the worse for the wear. Hey, I had fun though. Went back to Half Moon Bay for post-dinner with friends at what's probably the fanciest restaurant I've been at in many years. People are definitely moving along in the world.
April 25 Okay, so today was supposed to be relaxed. Woke up at home. Beautiful day outside. Had breakfast, worked a bit on history, and cleaned up the car (from the Yosemite trip, amazing amount of dirt and pine needles). Unfortunately, got a call that we were to be finishing filming around 3PM back at Stanford. So I gave my friend a call, and he agreed to drive me back. Unfortunately we hadn't bargained on beach traffic + Dream Machines (airshow). Argh. Turned a 25 minute trip into an hour one. Still, we did film the final scene of the movie: me tapping with the umbrella while the student and his girlfriend try to watch a movie. She walks out in digust of course. Spent the rest of the evening working, and trying to avoid the heat.
April 26 Felt out of sorts and dizzy to boot today. Classes were also not very inspiring, especially since I went to sleep too late. Weather was absolutely impossible. Supposedly hit 97 degrees today. Which is fine, but the heater in my room is still on. And being on the 3rd floor, the room absorbs much of the day's heat. Didn't sleep too well.
April 27 Significantly cooler today. Only got up to 90 degrees... Managed to get some work done and get to classes, but gave up around 8PM. Command + Conquer beckoned, so I spent most of the evening fighting my way out of the Ukraine. Probably one of many bad decisions. Can't always be right though.
April 28 Lunch discussion centered around the definition of various political persuasions. I really don't know quite where I fall. Good news is E14 lecture was dull and easy. Bad news is homework wasn't. Received some help in this regard and stayed up good and late to finish. Argh.
April 29 Yawn. Stayed up too late working last night. Still managed a bit of flute practice in the morning, made it to history section, my flute lesson, and flute choir. Received the alto flute for the Moldau part. Tough stuff, especially with such a big (and dare I say clunky) flute. Struggled my way through successfully.
April 30 Morning classes were kinda hazy today. Got back my E14 midterm which was a lot better than expected. In particular, the grader failed to notice that I'd done part of a problem wrong and gave me full credit. Meanwhile my friend lost points despite having a correct answer because he expressed his answer in foot-lbs, not inch-lbs. After lunch I spent a good chunk of time reading, and a better chunk playing Command + Conquer. Concentrating in spring is difficult. After dinner, we made an impromptu trip to the Aquarius movie theater in Palo Alto. Saw "Goodbye Lenin", a story set in Berlin before and during the fall of the Berlin Wall. Quite a good movie which did a good job of mocking, gently, both communists and capitalists alike.