Epic Adventures: Summer Trip (Maryland)

The time has come for me to begin chronicling my adventures from July 1st through July 10th. In this chapter, we will discuss the beginnings of my glorious vacation.

After breaking free of the confines of work and responsibility on the 1st (marked by paying my last installment of insanely high DC rent), I ferried myself out to Rockville for a chill evening. The next morning, we rose at around 7:30 to get on our way to my grandparent’s summer place.

I’ll get this out of the way up front, so that I can spend the rest of this post doing damage control: My grandfather bought a small island in the Chesapeake sometime after WWII. Believe me when I say that it’s not because we’re ballers. I don’t think it cost any more than a regular plot of land, he built the house himself, and he was responsible for laying all electrical cables and plumbing to the place. So essentially, it was like owning a normal house, but much more involved.

Sup Grampa?

After spending nearly ever summer weekend there as a child, I’ve found it much more difficult to find the time to visit as I’ve progressed through high school, college, and into the working world. This is obviously a shame, since my grandparents aren’t getting any younger and it’s a splendid place to visit. My grandma is the ultimate host (perhaps a little too much so) and puts out massive spreads for every meal. The only downside is that I have a reputation as an eater and regularly face tremendous pressure to polish everything off.

Awww mannnn...

Furthermore, I greatly enjoy the multitude of projects that constantly need tending to down there. If you are anything like all of the males in my family, you will understand the unique sort of pleasure that is derived from identifying, evaluating, and solving a problem through a combination of careful planning and brute force. Not a weekend goes by that something on the house doesn’t break, whether it’s a pipe, a downspout, or a boat, and I always enjoy being there to fix them.

On this weekend in particular, a tree had fallen across a path. Sensing a chance to relieve some stress, I enthusiastically grabbed an axe to chop it into tiny pieces. I’ll admit, it was worth every second of effort too. Unfortunately, I forgot to wear gloves, so both hands turned into bloody little blisters afterwards, but that’s the price you pay for being a badass.

When not chopping and fixing things, we spent Saturday and Sunday morning taking some boat rides, eating a lot, watching the requisite movie with my grandparents at night, and going out to dinner in an effort to save my grandmother the effort of cooking another enormous meal. After lunch on Sunday, Jenny and I headed back to DC to prepare for our flight to California at 6 AM on the 4th.

Man, I’m long winded this week. I tried (and failed) to actually get to the California part of the trip for the second day in a row. Anyway, I got home late from work today and the microwave is beeping the termination of some dessicated meatballs, so I’ll put off writing about the important parts of the trip again.

Also, have you ever used a fork whilst preparing dinner and then tossed it in the dish washer, only to realize that you need a !%@#ing fork to eat the meal you just finished cooking? Yeah, that just happened.




Fitness vs. Fatness: Lab Picnic

People seem to have rather varied opinions on work gatherings. From what I’ve heard, they make a lot of people feel extremely uncomfortable; no one wants to cross the line from casual to unprofessional. While I hear that loud and clear, I’m a pretty big fan of work events. Although the planning of the events usually falls to me, which can be frustrating, I enjoy spending time with everyone from work in an atmosphere where no one has any control over me. There’s an immense satisfaction to be found in laying on a picnic table like a bum, with your boss feet away, not having to pretend that you have work to do.

The consummate professional.

As if this intro wasn’t a clear indicator, my annual lab picnic was held yesterday in Gunpowder Falls State Park’s Hammerman Beach. It was a nice venue, albeit overrun with WT. One of my coworkers was proactive enough to get there at 8:30 to hoard 6 picnic tables until the picnic started at 10. Of course, when Jenny and I arrived at 10 (after an hour and a half drive), there were only two people there. Punctuality isn’t a trait associated with scientists.

As with my daily life, all work related activities are almost exclusively a Chinese affair. At this point, I find it more humorous than anything. It can be especially fun to watch my coworkers trying to figure out traditionally American activities, such as starting and using a charcoal grill. I also enjoy the looks from passerby, wondering why there is a white giant hanging out with a gaggle of Asians.

On the whole, the food was very nice. In addition to burgers and bratwursts (I think my boss thought they were hot dogs), there were a bunch of Chinese meat and noodle dishes and 6 or 7 watermelons. I probably ate 2 or 3 of them myself. Someone also brought some of the best store brand cupcakes that I’ve ever had.

Despite the binge eating, I stayed active throughout the day by playing volleyball (which occasionally became heated), strolling around the park, and playing some frisbee. At one point, I ended up surrounded by 3 or 4 of my coworkers kids, aged 3-6, as some sort of ring leader. Luckily, growing up with 3 young sisters was great preparation for this type of thing. Kids remain one of the few things I have patience for (Traffic and most people are two things which I have no patience for).

On the drive back, we took a detour through Baltimore to check out my new neighborhood. It was the first time I’d ever driven there, since I’m usually taking trains and shuttles, and it got me pretty stoked for the move. I realized that I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the things to do in Baltimore.

Way different from where I live now, too.

When we finally got back to Rockville around 6, Jenny and I swung by Microcenter so I could ogle compute components, and stopped by Trader Joe’s. We picked up a Margherita pizza to split for dinner and a pound of bittersweet chocolate with almonds that looks like it’s straight out of Honeydukes. It’s the best for fighting the dementor blues!

Accio chocolate, AMIRITE?

Today was a nice Sunday. Slept in a bit, got a haircut, ate some Korean food (ja jung myun) and walked around DC. I bought a huge watermelon for the week as well. I’ve decided that beginning in July, I’m going to eat two watermelons a week for dessert. It’s in season and it’s my favorite fruit. Why not go to town? Enjoy the rest of your weekend and good luck on Monday!

Musings: Worried Waldo

After writing my post yesterday about being good at problems solving, I started to ponder my greatest flaw. While I’m sure I have many, the one that immediately comes to mind is my penchant for worrying about anything and everything. Well, that and my inability to make decisions, but that’s derived from my incessant worrying, so it doesn’t count.

Ever since I was 5 or so, my mom has always commented on how incredibly nervous I make myself over mundane things. By the time I was 6, I insisted on wearing a life jacket at the beach at all times, just in case a huge wave came. I clearly never thought of how I wound fend for myself when the rest of my non-life jacket wearing family was swept away, but it was half of a good idea.

In elementary school, I’d get pretty stressed about being prepared for school. One time, I left my homework at my dad’s house (I spent the weekends with my pops and the weeks with my mom). I freaked out so hard that my parents had to drive an hour each way to make sure I had it for school on Monday. I even made my them take me to school during the summer to find my classroom so that I would know where to go on my first day.

It wasn’t until high school that I found a bit of relief. It was somewhere around the beginning of 9th grade that I realized that I could either endlessly worry about something or decide to not give a shit at all. To this day, those are my only two mechanisms for coping with anything.

This sums things up pretty well.

I took the slacker approach throughout most of high school, doing the minimum amount of work while maintaining straight A’s (which takes a shockingly small amount of effort). I didn’t read a single assigned book, solely because they were assigned. At the same time that I was ignoring my work, I was stressing myself out about swimming. Whenever we would have meets, I wasn’t capable of thinking of much else for the entire day. I still get butterflies when I smell chlorine. Conversely, I never got nervous about playing shows with my band. No matter how bad we were, it just never affected me. For no reason in particular, I couldn’t be bothered with worrying myself over getting on stage.

My paradoxical moods became even more extreme in college. Months of procrastinating, avoiding work, and generally neglecting my education would give way to obsessive study streaks and unsafe levels of stress. 30 seconds after walking out of exams, I completely abandoned any emotional connection with the test, regardless of how well or poorly I thought I may have done. By my senior year, when I was worried about getting a job, stress took over for completely. From September, when it was clearly too early to be trying to find something, until I got my job offer in April, I couldn’t help but stress about unemployment, day in and day out.

Ohhhh shit...how am I ever going to get this ring back to Mordor?

I was sincerely hoping that this whole thing would subside once I got into the working world. WRONG AGAIN. I still flip-flop from irresponsibly low levels of caring to intensive worrying about dumb things. Right now, I like to stress myself out about the logistics of moving all my stuff into my new apartment…in the end of July. On the one hand, this is why I’m always well prepared for this type of thing. On the other, I’ve probably taken a few years off my life already. I’m just glad that the grays haven’t started sprouting yet. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think that I’ll return to not caring about anything for the rest of tonight. See you tomorrow!