Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bring it, Winter!

With the weather taking a turn for the ugly, I am pleased to announce that my first truly winter-proof clothing has arrived!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Frosted Walkway Stones

The northern side of the Olin Library at Cornell has an outdoor second story stone walkway with a lovely view of the Arts Quad. Though there is ample seating on many well positioned benches, this terrace isn't a popular gathering place in the winter months because the main portion of the building casts a continual shadow on the entire area. 

Above is satellite imagery showing the area in the morning light of early spring. In the Winter, when the sun remains lower to the horizon, the shadows of the library and the adjacent building extend well past the walkway, leaving it in continual shadow.  View Larger Map

The other day I was on campus biding some time, so I ascended to this walkway in hope of using it's vantage point to find a sunnier spot to sit. In an effort to spice-up the bland monotony of grey slate slabs, the walkway is salted with smooth white stones. I quickly noticed, by nearly falling on my face, that some of these white stones were covered in a well-disguised layer of frost. With complete disregard to my the odd looks of the few people sitting around on nearby benches, I proceeded to skate back and forth on my impromptu ice rink.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rally to Restore Sanity Wrap-Up

To say that fans of Jon Stewart and the Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A. had big expectations... would be over-simplifying the varied yearnings of an equally diverse crowd. And that, is precisely the point. On October 30th, an estimated 200,000 people came to the National Mall, in Washington D.C. to show their support for rational political discourse. The result was the largest gathering of kind reasonable people since the last U2 concert.

I knew those neighbors were sketchy...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Weekly Update #8

The headlines: Jenni's family's visit, Ultimate update, books, and it's cold!

As I mentioned last weekend, Jenni's dad, sister, and grandmother came to visit. We went out to dinner to the literally world-famous Moosewood vegetarian restaurant. The wait was a ridiculous hour and a half and the food wasn't really all that great, but I can now at least say I've been there.

Some members of the "Breakfast Club"
on a similar weekend outing.
The next day we brought them along to our weekly weekend breakfast with various other grad-students and friends. The venue was our fall-back: Waffle Frolic, a local waffle-oriented restaurant opened by some Ithaca College grads. I ventured to try the chili-cornbread waffle; the risk paid-off wonderfully.

We then went up to give a tour of the Cornell campus, mostly by car due to Grandma Jean's immobility. We did get out to see Jenni's lab and a few of the bridges crossing the larger gorge that runs through campus. I've never seen someone so impressed with waterfalls. Jean was litterally jumping around and smiling. The falls were truly impressive do to recent rains.
As the trees show, this is a picture of
Beebe Dam above Fall Creek in summer

Jenni's family left that afternoon. That evening I played in the weekly Ultimate game. The temperature was in the upper 30's, so when we weren't on the field, we we literally jogging in place to keep warm. Our team won handedly, most of our veteran players returning after their fall break absence.

As you may be able to tell, I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel trying to find things for this week's update; it was a slow week. There was much reading, studying, and cups of tea. I finally finished War & Peace nine months after starting it and then blew through Harry Potter 7 over the following 3 days (in preparation for Part I of the film incarnation which comes out in November.

The studying to which I referred is in regard to the MCAT which I have decided to retake both due to a need for more recent results by some schools and for a chance to improve my chances at applying this time around. After swallowing my pride, I am looking into taking one of those terribly overpriced but annoyingly effective Kaplan courses in preparation (donations are very welcome).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Foliage Update #4

Yellow, red, and stick trees abound and, consequently, leaves are everywhere! We are at the point where there are an equal amount of leaves on the trees and on the ground. Jenni and I had a very mature moment as we wandered off the path in the park alternatively jumping on and kicking piles of newly fallen leaves. Ah, childhood memories of my 20's.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weekly Update #7

On Sunday, lacking most of our team's veterans due to Columbus Day weekend (don't get me started on why east coast schools get a fall break and west coast schools don't), our team lost a very close game of Ultimate Frisbee. It was hard-fought and we were extremely outmatched but held in only to lose 13-12 at game point. If we keep-up the good play, there is a good chance we will play this team at the end of the "season" for the "championship." It's hard to use those words for a 4-team, 6-game fall league.

I finally got a haircut. For most people this would not be a noteworthy experience but it is the first time I have had someone other than my mom cut my hair for as long as I can remember. And the results were less than great. I said an inch and he took more like 1.5-2 and now my hair is shorter than I've had it since that 3rd grade buzz-cut disaster (no Mom, I haven't forgotten). Ah well, now I don't need to get it cut until I will be back in SB for the holidays and the cold weather here (high of 45° yesterday) necessitates the wearing of hats/beanies.

I called a few local doctor's offices to ask if I could shadow someone for a day. No responses yet. All's dry on the job front as well.

I'm this close ][ to finishing War and Peace which I've been reading for 9+ months. Expect an extensive review on my other blog soon.

Jenni's dad, sister, and Grandma Jean are visiting for the weekend. And I should probably get back to them...

Remember, you guys get weekly updates from me but I get none from you (other than what I can creepily gleam from Facebook), so send me an email with how you've been. ...or not ...whatever!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Foliage Update #3

We are now entering the realm of yellow with some orange and green. Beautiful! I'm rather impressed that these pictures came out much better than the one from Foliage Update #2 on which I cheated (yes, that is why the grass looks like it's radioactive).

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Well, I said I wanted weather...

324 PM EDT SAT OCT 9 2010







Friday, October 8, 2010

Weekly Update #6

The quick version: Apple Harvest Festival, our Ultimate Frisbee team wins a thrilling match by 1 point (with my help), I quit my crappy temp job...

The Apple Harvest Festival was very... festive! There were tons of people, tons of food, and of course tons of apples, apple cider (hot/cold/hard), apple wine, apple pastries, candied apples, caramel apples. In the shade it was the perfect temperature for a nice cup of fresh hot apple cider. Good times.

On Sunday night, our still yet-to-be-named Ultimate team did battle with a worthy opponent. We fought valiantly even though we were down to one sub for a while (there was a M.I.A. concert that evening). We playing to 15 and as the game came to its climax, the score was tied 13-13. That next point lasted longer than the previous 5. It was epic. Finally the other team scored to bring them to game point. We were exhausted and our one sub that came in had noticed both that we couldn't handle another point like that, and that I was itching to run for a long one. We came up with a plan for the disc to go immediately to the new sub (who has a great arm) and then our fastest guy would do a cut, and feign like he was going to make a break, taking the best defender with him. Then I would take-off in a full sprint for the other goal. It worked perfectly and I caught the disc for the tying goal, crossing the entire playing field in one throw. We then played one final point to decide it and our momentum (and a desire to go lay down) carried us to victory. Like I said: epic.

On Monday morning I came to the conclusion that my time would be best spent not working at a terrible job that too removed from my desired career to do any good. I offered my services until a replacement could be found, but they declined and I'm back to square one on the job front, but much less miserable. (Thanks Jenni for the support and understanding)(and thanks to my dad for teaching me not to work somewhere that makes me unhappy, if I can afford it (thanks again Jenni))

And that's about it! It was a bit mellower of a week. And no plans yet for the next one. A blank page to be filled!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Longest Worst Frisbee Golf Drive

I was playing disc golf on a really windy day and threw a disc over 400 feet... in the wrong direction. I realized the colossal degree of error at the tee (top left of the map) and used my phone to plot out my path for this hole. The sporadic nature of the path is partly due to playing two discs and partly due to the inconsistent wind.

The map is much easier to follow if you view the larger original map.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Weekly Update #5

Quick recap: Woodard returned home after some more small town escapades. Had my first Ultimate Frisbee game. Scott sent me the best present ever. Job stuff. Apple harvest has begun. 

The week began as some more time with Woodard who came to Ithaca for a week. Last weekend we went on a hike with Jenni in the Buttermilk Falls State Park, which pretty much consists of some nice (and steep) trails along the Buttermilk Creek and surrounding gorge. It was a beautiful fall evening with many leaves already on the ground. Quite scenic. 

Woodard and I also spent an inordinate amount of time, in the realm of 3-4 hours, at the mini-golf course at the Ithaca ScienCenter (as documented on my other blog). We also made friends with a stray cat that can be seen in the background of the video

On Sunday, I had my first Ultimate Frisbee game in this little fall league that I joined. There's ~60 players divided onto 4 teams and we play each Sunday for 6 weeks. It seems like a great group of people who are good (they all have cleats) but not up-tight (they mostly brought beer). It's great to have something social and active to do, I wish I had done this in SB! As for my performance, I did ok for my first time on the field in 5 years: 1 goal and 1 block. On Tuesday I was so sore I could barely walk. Nice.

Scott, my good friend and former boss, sent me a towel!
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy has a few things to say on the subject of towels...
"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have... any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with." ~HHGTTG

In other news, through a temp. agency that is frightfully similar to HappyTime from Dead Like Me, I was offered a job at an old-folks home up near Cornell. At first I thought this was a great opportunity, since the medical field has a major shortage of geriatric doctors and I have little to no experience in that area. I was wrong.

Anyways, about two hours after I accept this job, I get a call from a local doctor's office to which I had applied earlier asking me for an interview. So the next day I go to the interview (which went well, though they may be looking for someone who can stay longer than 2 years) followed shortly by my first half day at the old-folks home.

I now realize that the few jobs at which I have worked have been really quite nice thanks to a mix of good bosses (Scott) and interesting work. My luck may have run out. I had originally thought this job was to be a medical secretary position; it turns out that it was really for an administrative assistant. This means filing paperwork and delivering mail for vogons that have no actual care for or interaction with the medicine being administered down the hall. Sorry for the Hitchhiker's Guide-heavy post but this reference was too apt.
"Vogons are one of the most unpleasant races in the galaxy. Not actually evil, but bad-tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous." ~HHGTTG
So now I'm just hoping that I get that other job before I go crazy. Ah well.

In lighter news, the Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival is this weekend. The downtown area is filled with food, trinkets, and apple-based products galore. Yum.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Foliage Update #2

It's amazing the disparity between different groves of trees, the majority of the trees on the hills surrounding the Ithaca valley are still very green, with a spattering of yellow. The trees pictured above were found nearby the farm where we pick-up our CSA box. I'm looking forward to the weeks to come.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Weird... weather?

While playing a round of disc golf up near Cornell, Sam and I stumbled across this field filled with this very low mist that flowed out of this meadow like a liquid nitrogen demo. It was really hard to photograph, so you may need to take my word for it. Never seen anything like that before.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Weekly Update #4

This week's highlights: Tomatoes [of doom], Woodard visit, and temp. job!

Over the weekend, Jenni and a few friends went to gather the fruits of their CSA membership, which this week included tomatoes straight off the plant. That is assuming that you are willing to go pick them yourselves, which we were. We ended up with a third of the pickings which combined totaled literally hundreds of tomatoes. What does one do with that many tomatoes? Make gallons of homemade tomato sauce!
We split it into smaller portions and threw it in the freezer. We thawed some for last night's dinner; it turned out great!

My friend Sam [pictured below] is in town for a week because we couldn't think of a reason for him not to be. We are both unemployed and there were super-cheap airline tickets for no apparent reason. Yay spontaneity! So we've been brainstorming topics ranging from fixing America's education system to how to beat that stupid Wii game. We are still only halfway through his visit so, if we get into any noteworthy trouble it'll be listed here next week.

Lastly, I signed up with a local temp agency that specializes in health care, to aid in my search for work. I have an interview on Monday for a medical secretary position at an old-folks home. We'll see how that goes.

In the interim a took a little answering-phones job for this morning. I was reticent to take it because it wasn't for much money and the work was of a well-trained-monkey difficulty. However, I think this was a wonderfully crazy random happenstance because the organization that I worked at for this morning is in charge of youth activities in the Ithaca area, and I'd love to get back involved with programs similar to those that put on the Jr. Wheelchair Sports Camp that I helped run this summer. The best case scenario would be to see if I could help start a similar camp for the upstate NY area. Who knows?

Opportunities abound!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Foliage Update #1

Seeing as the early bloomers, so to speak, are already starting to change colors, I thought I'd begin documenting the trees for my first fall foliage experience. As you can see below, a few trees are yellowing and a couple truly early birds are already red. Cool stuff.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Weekly Update #3

The trip to Niagara Falls was by far the most eventful happening this week. It was the first time I had every left the country, though I was within sight of the US throughout the whole trip.

I was rather impressed (and at the same time disappointed) by the fake Vegas-like commercialization that had sprung up, especially on the Canadian side. The entire neighborhood surrounding the Falls consists of hotels, casinos, and souvenir stands. Flashing lights and brunt signs pervade the street fronts.

It is only when you get near the Falls, onto Park Service land, that you forget the spectacle and can just be in awe of the Falls. It is truly an impressive site, similar to the Grand Canyon in my mind in that they are both places that seem kinda shrug-worthy from afar but their depth is only really grasped in person.

We hit all the stops via a hotel-sponsored tour including walking in tunnels behind the Falls and a trip on the Maid of the Mist. The tour also included some really random local gimmick stops such as one of the world's largest floral clocks, an 11,000 sq ft indoor butterfly conservatory, and more hydroelectric plants that I thought existed in the entire country, let alone in the 5 miles surrounding the Falls. We also amused ourselves with the differences visible even a mile from the border such as all products/signs being in both English and French, all retailers accept American currency but only return Canadain change, and of course French-Canadian game shows.

More pictures of this trip can be found here.

In other news, it got rather chilly in our absence (high of 60, instead of >90 from 2 weeks ago). We got some passing T-storms and showers the last couple days. It'll take a while for me to get sick of thunder.

Also, seeing as the job front is still bleak, I decided to make more of an effort to get out of the house and joined an ultimate frisbee league that will start at the end of the month.

That's about it! Next week looks like it will bring waffles and Woodard. Sounds good.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekly Update #2

Aurthur Ashe Stadium
A busy week! And very little of it spent in Ithaca.

The quick version:
Last Friday, Jenni and I drove down to long island to spend the long weekend with Jenni's family and attend some of the US Open. Jenni returned on Monday, but I stayed down due to my appointment on Wednesday to get my passport. Then I drove up with Jenni's grandmother, aunt, and cousins en route to Niagara Falls, where we will be staying (on the Canadian side) this weekend.

For more US Open pics click here
The less so version:
After dinner on Friday night, we were given the choice of going to the Open on Saturday or Sunday, and then watching Jenni's cousins for whichever day we didn't choose, so the other adults could all go together.
We chose Saturday and watched 4-5 matches mostly in Louis Armstrong Stadium. 

The way the tickets work for the open are that if you buy reserved seats in a stadium you have guaranteed seats and can wander the premises and watch any matches on the other courts as well. This excludes Aurthur Ashe Stadium (by far the largest tennis arena in the world) which is reserved tickets only. Some of the players we saw include Caroline Wozniacki, the women's top-seed; American Mardy Fish, who we watched in a wonderful 5-setter; and Robin Soderling who went on to the quarterfinals. Jenni's cousin was a ball girl again this year and her ball person friends stole us some otherwise Disneyland priced drinks. Nice.

Water Heater Issues. Joy.
The next day we took the cousins to the yaught club but it was too breezy for the pool, so we then drove ~35 minutes to the only theatre showing Scott Pilgram vs the World. Jenni drove home the next day and I played tennis with two of her uncles. It was rather low-key and included a round-robin tournament using ping-pong rules. That night was made eventful by the bursting of the water-heater leading to about 6 inches of water in the basement.

For more USS Intrepid pics click here
On Tuesday I decided to go into the city cause... well, why not? I also wanted to scope out the regional passport office at which I had an appointment scheduled for the next day. I decided to bring all my documents just in case they could fit me in and, sure enough, I had my passport by the end of the day. In the intervening time I went to the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier/museum. Very cool. The ship is huge and worth it on its own, but the interiour has been extensively remodeled to be a first rate air/sea/space museum. On top are many antique planes and the pier has one of the retired Concord SSTs. I signed a petition they are sending to NASA to have one of the retired Space shuttles brought to the Intrepid. After retrieving my newly printed passport, I went near times square and read a book and people watched until I needed to leave to catch a train.  

My early passport getting resulted in another day at the Open, this time with tickets to Ashe. The highlight of which was the Monfils/Djokovic match.

And finally on Thursday we (Jenni's family and I) drove up to Ithaca en route to Niagara Falls this weekend. ...which we need to get going for right now so...