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travel

Traveling

So I’m about to depart on what promises to be a 14 plus hour journey back to the land of corn (maize), porkburgers, and possibly snow. This couldn’t be coming at a worse time in the submission process for the paper my lab is trying to get out the door. Never before have I so closely mapped out my travel times and when I’ll have internet access. I kind of like it. I’ll be out of town until Monday and if I’m pulling long hours on the computer instead of seeing friends and family it’s going to be in pursuit of publication not internet fame and fortune. Anyway I’ve got a few ideas about content over the thanksgiving holiday but I’m afraid I can’t promise many 200+ word updates. Here’s wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.

Travel Photoset!

I had a bit of downtime today (waiting for a package that still hasn’t arrived) so I finally uploaded a set of photos from my drive along I-80. As always, here are a couple of highlights:

Construction of a wind farm in Western Iowa. I hadn’t realized just how big the blades were for these. It was really impressive.
Assembling a Windmill

The Utah Salt Flats. They stretch on for miles and miles, but there was rest stop near the end where we could get out and wonder out onto them. They win for coolest terrain.
Bonneville Salt Flats

And my favorite picture from the drive actually comes from Nebraska. To me this photo look like an idealized version of the midwest, what we should look like, even if a lot of us doesn’t.
Nebraska Farmland

This one goes out to my car

For transporting myself, my girlfriend, and all my worldly possessions more than 2000 miles across half a continent, through seven states, mountain ranges, deserts, and over the continental divide and, after all that, passing a California emissions test. Truly you are a prince among automobiles.

Subaru really makes an excellent vehicle.

Graduation and Iowa City

Lots of exciting stuff happening. Graduating. Doing the thousand mile drive for the ninth and likely final time. (Though I’ll be driving twice as far to reach California in the fall, the impossibility of doing the drive in one day, combined with ever rising price of gas makes it unlikely I’ll drive back for breaks). Carpooling out to Iowa City to celebrate a friend’s birthday.

Graduation:

Graduation was good. The actually ceremony took place out at the football stadium and where I sat, unable to see who was speaking over heads of hundreds of my classmates, watching the heat ripples rise from our black robes. My parents came out and I was able to at least point myself out to them during the procession in by calling on my cell phone. (Makes you wonder how people managed before every college student and their parents had a cell phone).

Visit to Iowa City:

-Almost didn’t make it as flooding was shutting down major roads out of town.
–Estimates of this fall’s harvest all already being reduced as a result of the constant rain.

-William is 22!

-Red Velvet Cake Shakes at the Hamburg Inn #2.
–Possibly the best form of food discovered by mankind to date
–The Hamburg Inn is one of the places presidential candidates always visit in the run up to the Iowa caucus. I sat under a picture from John Edwards’ visit.

-Disk Golf
–Surprisingly fun
–I’m surprisingly bad at it 😉
–Continued to play since I’ve returned home

On monday I started a two week course on bioinformatics and computational biology…will update on this over the weekend…

A Grim Beginning

A least my bad lucks are overlapping rather than combining additively or multiplicatively. 10 minutes before I was supposed to leave my apartment (at 4 AM) I thought to check my camera which I had thought was suffering from uncharged batteries and for which I had bought a new charger so I could photograph this visit. Unfortunately it appears the problem was more severe than a dead battery, and so I shall have no pictures of Berkeley, and when I get home I’ll have to figure out if the issue is repairable or if I need a new camera. The end result of this was that I was late arriving at the airport for my 6 am flight. They’re recommending two hours even for domestic flights now. But of course no one came out to man the ticket desk until 5 am, so I ended up spending extra time at home instead of waiting in an empty airport. Anyway, next post should be from sunny california. But you’ll have to rely on my descriptive prose instead of photos. -James 

First Night In Minneapolis

Arrived at University of Minnesota. Today was within the range of cold I’m used to back home, but on Saturday, the day I’m leaving, the high temperature is a negative number. 

My planned route to the hotel where they are putting us up turned out to have me crossing the bridge that collapsed last summer. I hadn’t realized the hotel was on the other side of the river, so I ended up driving circles through down town Minneapolis for a while as traffic began to surge towards the 5 o’clock rush hour. But I finally found the hotel and burst in just in time to catch the shuttle to campus. I also got a surprise, two of the people from the summer internship program at Danforth are interviewing with me. I suppose if I’d thought about it, that would have made sense, but I didn’t, so it was a complete surprise to be greeted by name as a dove headfirst into the hotel.

Anyway, the only event tonight was a combined dinner between Plant Biological Science, Applied Plant Science, and Plant Pathology. Lots of awkward mingling. As one girl I met pointed out, most people who study plants tend to be shy by nature. But at least that meant it was a level playing field. If there had been pre-med and business students thrown into the mix, all us plant science people would probably be huddled in the corner (by the palm tree, of course). I also met a number of PBS students who are very interested in ecology and disturbed ecosystems. Which I guess makes sense, since the leader of the program says PBS students everything from atoms to the entire planet.

On the ride back to the hotel, I talked to another interviewee who had corned some grad students over dinner to ask about housing costs, rents are apparently pretty reasonable in St. Lous (edit: St. Paul I mean), and with the way the housing market is going, some grad students are actually buying houses! Which is not something I would have expected to be able to do on a graduate stipend, but is definitely an…interesting idea. Anyway, tomorrow I meet with faculty so I should be heading to sleep, as I’ve been told on good authority the one surefire way to blow an interview is to fall asleep during it.