Saturday, March 28, 2009

My sister’s visit

My youngest sister J. had never been to New York City so decided to come for a visit. Of course no one plans to get sick when they buy their tickets but she still came with what she had. I gave her my homemade remedy when she arrived. (a 64 oz. bottle of grapefruit juice. It is mostly the extra fluid intake that helps, but the huge vitamin C boost doesn't hurt, and most people don’t drink grapefruit juice enough that there is usually a placebo effect too.) Most likely she had swine flu since it was going around in California at the time and she passed it to me. Out of all the cases of the flu I’ve had this one had to be one of the weakest. But that won’t stop the news from using it as a scare tactic to drum up viewers.
Our normal tour involved taking them to St. John’s Cathedral, MET museum, and pizza in Little Italy. Out of everyone in our family they are also the most fashion conscious so we had to take them to the mecca for Hipsters- Beacons Closet. They bought plenty of clothes from the thrift store and had fun walking around the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn.
Since it was my birthday I got to have some say in the matter so we took our bikes through the subway to central park and rode a lap around it. L. was still a little tired so she sat and read instead. While up by St. John’s Cathedral we of course had to get creme puffs from the hungarian bakery. They are on par with creme puffs we had in Hungary and the best puffs I’ve ever had every time we go.
That night J. wanted to treat me to a birthday special so we all went to Max Briener’s. I just can’t but love the chocolate over load they have there.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

St. Patrick’s Day

Any excuse for a party. I witnessed it in California with Cinco de Mayo (No, it is not Mexican Independence Day) and now here. With St. Patrick’s Day landing on a Tuesday this year the town we live in decided to hold their parade on the Sunday before. Now the village we live in used to have a large Irish population as a lot of other towns in the area. (As evidenced by the many irish pubs around.) However most of the people living here are from Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, or somewhere in South America. That doesn’t stop the tradition of hanging Irish flags from every light pole in town and a huge parachute sized flag from the town flagpole. L. was not feeling to good so we didn’t venture out, but we could hear everything from where we were. Every parade in our town has a cover band and the end of the parade. This time it was Nirvana. (I don’t know what that has to do with St. Patrick’s Day. For Independence day it was Bruce Springsteen and last St. Patrick’s Day was U2. I guess this year they didn’t book soon enough) I did get a good laugh watching them setting everything up when I walked to the gym. The funniest thing I saw was one of the vendors was selling hats with the mexican flag on the front. I guess it looked similar enough to the Irish flag to sell old Cinco de Mayo supplies.
On Tuesday we had to go into NYC so we decided to go check out the parade before it started. It was 10 in the morning and there were already drunk college age people walking down the road. L. didn’t have the energy and I think I would have had a hard time explaining taking the whole day off work so we left before the parade started.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Outcome of School Applications

So following my shotgun approach to applying to schools (The more schools applied to the better the likely outcome.) U.S. schools have to give final word by April 15th, I don’t know what the rules are for international schools.
Here are the results so far:
Queen's University Belfast: 2 different phone interviews but no further word.
University College London: phone interview but no further word.
Arizona State University: Acceptance and funding.
University of Oregon: Acceptance and funding (well, at least by word of mouth.)
Carnegie Mellon University: No
University of Virginia: No
Queens University, Toronto: email interview but no further word.
University of Glasgow: Acceptance but still trying to find out about funding.
Imperial College London: Acceptance without funding.
Purdue University: No answer?
University of New South Wales: Funding but unknown acceptance. (Not sure if they can offer it to international students.)

So we are leaning to going to the UK. Why? well 2 1/2 years without funding still seems better than 4-5 years with funding.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Visit to Arizona

One of the schools that I applied to Arizona State University. They wanted to fly me out there to check out the campus. I had never been recruited before so it was odd to be in this position, I felt like a basketball player or something. It also helped to have a difference of about 60 degrees between New York and Arizona. I couldn’t resist a free trip and L. wanted to come along for the warmth and to visit a friend. They bought the ticket but it just so happened that my Mother-in-Law was flying out of the same airport a half hour later so it cut down one less trip to the airport. L., on the other hand, had another doctor’s appointment so she was flying out later that night.
They took me and the other PhD students they were recruiting to dinner with the professors. Normally eating a meal with a professor is like eating with your boss. Yes, it can be interesting but there is no way to fully let down your guard. Since I didn’t know any of these professors or had any of their classes it was interesting to talk to all of them without fear of anything. The next day we toured the campus and talked to more professors. Everyone had the same advice, the weather was exact opposite of snow, you spend the summer indoors unless you are heading somewhere specific.
The next morning we received an odd message with our checkout bill (It was $0 since the university covered it.) They were filming an “adult themed” party at the pool and we could participate with all the free booze we wanted as long as we signed a filming release. We left quickly without a second thought making sure to avoid the pool area.
Visiting with L.’s high school friends was fun, they took us to Lost Dutchman State Park for a nice hike. It was just so nice to walk around outside without being bundled up with a huge coat on. While there I also couldn’t resist going to Waffle House. Their Pecan Waffles are one of my favorites. We were unable to make it to the In-N-Out while we were there though.
The excitement happened with us trying to get home. At the last second L. decided that her friend could just take her back to the airport so I could just return the rental car. Of course between traffic and the computer crashing while I was returning the car I missed my plane. (Well in reality the plane was still there for the next ten minutes but they sold my seat to someone else already, and stuck by the excuse that the door was already closed.) I was put on standby for the next flight. I learned that L.’s flight was canceled because of a snow storm later that day in New York. I called her up and told her to head in and got her on standby too. I then planted myself next to the desk so that the flight attendant would have no problem seeing me as the first standby person. L. showed up right before they asked for standby people and we both made it on the flight. It was weird being on an airplane where 1/3 of the passengers were either pilots from other airlines or flight attendants. We found out that this was the last plane that was not canceled. When we landed in New York it was already starting to snow pretty good and from the look of it we were the last plane that was landing. (We had to wait while they moved some of the grounded planes so we could get off the plane.) Apparently every airport in the north east was closed because of the snow storm. A friend of a friend wasn’t so lucky that was flying the same day we were and ended up flying home Tuesday instead of Sunday when they got everything back to normal. I am just glad to not have a “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” moment. The moral of this story is to always make friends with the flight attendants since they can pull a lot more strings than you think.