Saturday, January 23, 2010

Crazy Weekend (Part 1)

I'm leaving for a snow trip in about 5 hours. This weekend has been and will continue to be a crazy one. I just came back from a Tim Be Told concert. I wasn't all that impressed with them when I saw them on Youtube but the Angry Asian Man blog listed them as the band to see in concert this year. They turned out to be pretty cool. Not exactly my type of music but they're cool nevertheless.

So this weekend off Friday afternoon/evening with an MIT civil engineering department "reunion". This reunion was at an Italian restaurant in SF so Mahalia, Lauren, and I took the Caltrain over. It took a total of 2 hours to get there by Stanford shuttle, Caltrain, and bus. It was well worth the effort. This reunion was basically an excuse for the department to spurge on the current MEng class. This structural MEng class was out here for a week of touring SF companies, famous sites, etc. They're still on break. Friday was their last day. So they rented out part of this restaurant in SF that is supposed to be the oldest Italian restaurant in the US and had a 4 course meal with open bar. It was ridiculous. The food was amazing. Fresh pasta tastes so much better than dried stuff. We had salad, pasta, main course (I got the salmon), and then dessert.

The current structural MEng class has about 20-25 people. There are only 2 people who did MIT undergrad and one of them was doing the environmental track. The one who did environmental engineering in undergrad was actually my partner in TEAL back in freshman year. I thought she looked extremely familiar and then she remembered that we were TEAL partners. And if that wasn't random enough, I saw someone else who I thought was looked familiar. We started chatting and it turned out that she's MIT undergrad '07 and is now doing a masters at Stanford in fluid mechanics! She did Teach for America for 2 years so she's just starting her Master's degree. This was definitely a night of randomness because a guy sat next to me at the dinner table who had graduated from MIT with a PhD about 40 years ago. We started chatting and we find out that he's from Chile. Mahalia asked if he knew one of our professors who is also from Chile. Turns out they were undergrad classmates back in Chile. Same year!! And the professor who is taking the MEng class on this field trip was his thesis advisor. I guess it just goes to show how small the civil engineering world is. Everyone knows everyone else. It's great. I got this guy's business card, of course. He's a senior principal at a company that I had not previously associated with doing geotechnical work. But they do have a geotech team in Boston. When I saw the email invite for this event, the first thing I thought was "networking!!". I think it was pretty successful in this regard.

Now, Saturday, I got up pretty early to attend a conference put on by a bunch of Asian American groups called Listen to the Silence. It's basically a day of workshops where they invited speakers to talk about Asian American issues. Everything from historical events to modern day issues. The first workshop that I chose to attend was about Japanese Americans who were students at west coast universities when WWII broke out and they were interned at camps. The UC schools just passed something that required honorary degrees to be given to people who weren't allowed to finish their degrees. There was a big ceremony at UC Berkeley's graduation last June. This is a bit late since these people are now in their 70s and 80s but I guess it's good that they want to acknowledge this part of history. The speaker we had was a student at Stanford and was just about to finish his degree when he was shipped away in April. He was able to finish off classes and got his degree in the mail. He, like many other college age Japanese at the time, applied to schools away from the west coast to continue their education and get out of the concentration camps. He went to the University of Nebraska for graduate studies. Washington University in Missouri was one of the schools that took a lot of these students. He basically talked about his life, growing up near Sacramento in a town where most people were Japanese and Japanese-Americans working on fruit farms. He's not an activist so his talk was probably not exactly what the organizers were hoping for. But it was interesting nevertheless.

After this, I left the workshop (they had a keynote and lunch) and went grocery shopping with some friends. We hit Castro Street and ate lunch at a small Taiwanese place. We got noodle soup that came really fast. We also got a side of oyster pancakes. Apparently these are really popular in Taiwan. I'm not so fond of oysters though. Then we went to Ranch 99 and picked up groceries. I got more all-purpose flour and cooking oil. Yay for baking and deep frying! Then we hit Costco where we loaded our cart with boxes of grains (cereal and granola bars). I got a bag of frozen strawberries and big tub of yogurt. Totally forgot about bananas unfortunately. I have 3 in the freezer but that's not going to last very long. This all took about 3 hours and I was tired by the time I got back. So I napped a little before going back to the conference.

Okay, so I napped a lot. I had planned to go to the 2 workshops in the afternoon but missed them both by the time I managed to get out of the door. I made it for pizza and spent 2 hours chatting with friends of Andrew. Andrew had forwarded me the snow trip email. He was also at the conference and was excited about the Tim Be Told concert after the dinner. I had signed up for this conference not knowing about the concert (or the band for that matter) so it was such a nice coincidence that the conference offered this concert for free. It was really cool to see them in person and all. I helped Andrew get both of his CDs signed by the band. The band was really nice about signing stuff and taking pictures. It wasn't that big of a crowd I guess.

So I had an awesome day. Now I have about 4 hours to get some work done before going snowboarding! So excited. I've never been snowboarding before. I hope it doesn't snow while we're there. I have a pset due on Tuesday that I really need to get started. The bus is leaving at 4:45am so I think I'm just going to stay up and sleep on the bus!


X said...

Sounds like a really busy weekend!

The one who was your TEAL partner wasn't course 1?

I hear that for beginners it's good if it snowed before you go because then the snow would be more cushiony ^_^

yalu said...

Omg the world is so small - for example vicki's boyfriend went to the same high school as someone in our dept - give the size of our dept it's just so interesting that they go to different colleges and then end up working a few floors away!