Sunday, September 10, 2006

It's Been A Good 168 Hours.

Highlights by day:

Monday (Labor Day): Lunch and ice cream with Alice, who's been so affected by her summer in Wales that she's now using the Welsh double negative in English. Also, she's finally a beer drinker, which is a positive stage in any friend's life.

Tuesday: I completed a project I first dreamed up in June: a series of informative T-shirts that express the inner me:

You ought to see Hapless and Pretentious!

Wednesday: One of my officemates came in and said, "Who wants to go to a whiskey-tasting event?"

A few hours (and a Mission District burrito) later, I was touring the distillery within one of the country's first and finest microbreweries. My friend's whiskey-tasting club had, it seems, finagled a free tour and tasting (led by an avuncular white-haired maestro who'd worked there since 1971) as a sort of cheap marketing for the company (I think it worked). The Anchor Brewing company has started distilling a bevy of historically-faithful American whiskeys; my favorite was this authentic eighteenth-century rye whiskey, whose taste I won't try to describe because it's just silly to apply personality adjectives to 120-proof alcohol.

Thursday: I learned to use Mathematica for my Quantum Mechanics class; by entering the spherical-wave solution to the Schrödinger equation and making a contour map, I was able to see the interference pattern from the famous two-slit experiment!


So far, graduate-level Quantum Mechanics is all about math that I know; I bet it'll get harder as the semester progresses, but for now, it rocks to be the guy who's understanding quantum physics. Next, THE WORLD!

Friday: St. Anthony of Padua Philosophy Seminar, with Dierdre; we finished off the Nicomachean Ethics and finally had a Plato-Aristotle intellectual death-match! (I wore my Pretentious T-shirt, naturally.)

EDIT: I Almost Forgot... Earlier Friday, as we grad students were waiting for Dr. Christ (no, it's pronounced with a short 'i', but it's still noteworthy to have Christ the Teacher) to arrive for Harmonic Analysis, we somehow started talking about male-female dynamics. (Don't ask me how it started; it was a weird segue from algebraic geometry.)

Anyhow, some first-year grad student made a remark about how we couldn't allow women to manipulate us with their wiles. It was interrupted by a booming chuckle from Maxim, a 250-lb Ukrainian bulldozer of a mathematician. (Put on your best imaginary Soviet accent for what follows, and keep in mind that Maxim could break the first-year if he chose.)

Maxim: "Ha, ha, you only say this because you are unmarried. You get married for one year, you will talk differently. The wife always wins."
First-year: "But why should you let her win?"
Maxim: "I do not want to sleep on couch, you know?"
First-year: "Why doesn't she sleep on the couch?"
Maxim: "Ha! Ha! It does not work like that."

It was amazing. I can only wonder what kind of woman Maxim's wife is.

Saturday: It was Faculty and Staff Day: free football tickets for grad students and others! After Cal's embarrassment at Tennessee, worries were afloat at the home opener against Minnesota. We gave up a quick touchdown, then another on a kickoff return. But once the Golden Bears settled down, Nate Longshore finally proved that he was not, in fact, Joe Ayoob by firing four beautiful TD passes, Marshawn Lynch did his thing, and the defense held the power-running Gophers to almost nothing the rest of the way. The 42-17 rout was a blast. I even did my part, explaining the football rules to my German housemate Marcel who came along, and then making so much noise that Minnesota false-started on 4th and 1. (I may have had some help with the latter.)

Sunday: First, the Eucharist. It's always a good week when you can partake of it.

Then, Cheryl and Andy finally convinced me to go biking with them in Tilden Park, along the ridge of the Berkeley Hills. Despite the fearless Texans pausing to wait for me, gasping and wheezing, after every mile, a good time was had by all (even the livestock grazing by the bike path). It's too bad they're heading back to gloomy Chicago.

Then I watched football, had pizza and beer with my housemates, and wrote a narcissistic and conceited blog post. (I swear, I have ideas worth writing every now and then!) Oh, maybe I shouldn't be so honest. Well, still, it's been Quite. A. Week.

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