global

A Real Live MUMMY

So far in Boston I have visited two different art museums, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). Although the museums were fairly close to each other, I did visit on different days. Both are very accessible from the green line, which was super convenient considering how blistering hot Boston has been lately. Also, something I learned recently is that MIT students get into both art museums for free by just showing their ID, so of course I showed my very much temporary and very much not a student MIT ID and saved some money.

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global

Summer Festivals

Summer in Japan is the season of festivals (matsuri) and fireworks (hanabi). Right now I’ll talk about the festivals that go on all around Japan. They take place for many different reasons and celebrate many different things. The pictures you see are from a festival in Otaru, Hokkaido called the Ushio Matsuri. This is the tide festival that they hold to thank the ocean for the bountiful year and pray for the growth and protection of the city and its citizens. Matsuri usually last a few days and come with a parade of some sort (and occasionally fireworks at night). The participants in the parade vary by the festival. Because this was a tide festival, those in the parade dance to Ushio Ondo, and taiko drums feature prominently. Other Buddhist festivals include shrines (called mikoshi) that are carried in a procession by participants, while still other matsuris have dances such as the Bon Odori.These festivals take place all over Japan, and I can assure you that one will take place somewhere almost every week or weekend! There is a ton of variety and so much history behind each one. I think that this is one of the most unique things about Japan, and something that you would be hard pressed to find in any other country. I am trying to see as many as possible while I’m here, in order to get the full experience of Japanese culture!

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global

Trip to Enoshima

Between Kamakura and Fujisawa of Kanagawa prefecture is a tiny Island called Enoshima. It is part of a long stretch of the coast known as a beautiful summer vacation spot, especially for the beaches and the view of Mt Fuji on a clear day. That stretch of coast especially attractive in the hot summer for the cooler ocean temperatures, even though it’s bloody humid - because honestly, so is the rest of Japan. As you come from Kamakura, either by foot or using the train, there are a lot of old temples that you can tour. Kamakura is known for the Daibutsu (literally big budda) and the numerous temple gardens. As it’s summer right now, the flowers are in full bloom, and are a must-see!Enoshima is known for the great views of the ocean that you can get from the top of the “candle” on the island, as well as the complex of caves that is said to have been the places where multiple monks reached enlightenment. Another thing it’s known for are the tiny, almost-translucent fish called shirasu. It’s somewhat related to anchovies, and is traditionally eaten raw like sushi. However the restaurant I went to had options to have it boiled or fried like tempura as well. Although I did try it (and liked it!) the taste and texture is not for everyone. I can always say that I’ve tried it now though!

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global

A Peek at Yokohama

I’ve been living in Yokohama while in Japan, a city I’ve never actually been to despite its proximity to Tokyo (a place I’ve been a fair number of times). Because it’s by the bay, it has beautiful views of the sea. I’m also super lucky, as I am living only a kilometer from the famous island Minato Mirai, which is a premier tourist destination. On my brief walks around, I have really enjoyed being so close to the water. When you hear the rumble of the waves as they rush into the side of the pier, it has a calming effect that I don’t believe anyone can deny. That, coupled with the vast views of the harbor, the bridge, and the ships as they float by, makes for a wonderful experience.

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global

Rain, rain, go away... jk please stay

Ever heard of the rainy season? I have heard that it’s very common in certain parts of the world. However, I lived in America all my life, so I never had the chance to see or experience it for myself. Until now at least! Japan has this rainy season, which they call Tsuyu (梅雨) as I learned. I really had no idea when it was supposed to happen, but I arrived right in the middle of it! It lasts from after spring, right around May/June until midway through July.So far, it’s been characterized by cloudy skies every day. There’s been light rain at least once a week as well, sometimes accompanied by some pretty strong winds. I’ve already broken one umbrella, and I hope the count doesn’t go up! Still the temperature is not too bad, around 70 or 80 Fahrenheit and 24-28 Celsius. It’s much preferable to the actual summer temperatures. I’ve been told it can get up to 35 Celsius - which I have been too scared to look up so far, but I’m sure it won’t be pleasant when I actually have to experience it in August!

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global

A Must Sea Experience

Ahoy! I just went to visit the New England Aquarium and of my Boston adventures thus far, it is definitely a highlight! Would highly recommend to anyone in the region or visiting the region, although it was kind of expensive (around $30 for a day pass). The aquarium sits right on the edge of the bay near Boston’s north end and was fairly easy to get to using the redline. Getting back however was NOT fun because while I had been walking around inside the museum, a classic northeastern downpour began outside. I’m talking a heavy, steady downpour that lasted for hours and left puddles the size of small ponds! Just a word of advice to anyone planning touristy day trips: always check the weather and be prepared.

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global research

Change of Scenery

Hello all! My name is Lexy LeMar. I’m a rising junior studying chemical engineering in the environmental track (ChE ESE for short). I am currently writing to you from Boston, Massachusetts where I am doing research this summer through Caltech’s SURF program. For those of you who are unfamiliar with SURF, it is a ten week research program over the summer that allows students to conduct research in a lab on campus, at the Jet Propulsion Lab, or in any other institute research lab in the world! Last summer, I did a SURF in the Seinfeld group on campus, studying volatile organic compounds and characterizing the fluid dynamics of the Caltech photochemical oxidation flow tube reactor. I had a really great experience both in the lab and going on weekend adventures around the Los Angeles area; however, being on campus for such a long period of time made me realize how much I wanted a change of scenery.

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global

My Morning Commute

Japan is well known for its bullet train, the Shinkansen, but the country is very well connected through a lot of different train lines locally. It’s unbelievably useful in getting around (especially coming from LA, where one has to drive everywhere!) but it can also be super confusing if you don’t know exactly the direction you’re going in and what you have to take. For example, you can’t just know the train lines and the stations at which you will be getting on and off. At the very least, you should also know the terminus of the line in the direction that you’ll be going in. Ideally, you’ll also know if the train line offers express trains, and which stations those trains will stop at. This can also help in arriving at your destination quicker, because you’ll be able to take express trains as close to your station as possible.

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local

Anza Borrego Superbloom

This year, there was a superbloom in California because of all the rain we got from December to February. During spring break, three friends and I went to Anza-Borrego state park near San Diego to see the wildflowers. It’s about a 2 hour drive away from Caltech, and on the way, we saw flowers dotting the hills along the highway. Some hills were orange from all the California Poppies, while others were yellow and purple.

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research

I’ll Be Back

And I’ll be Mozart.

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research

We’re *Definitely* Not in Pasadena Anymore, Toto

16 hours of airtime, more of just sitting in airports. And well, we’re definitely not in Pasadena. Exactly where am I though?

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local

Life’s Looking Pretty Beachy

Welcome to part 2 of “Chandrew has a friend in town and is procrastinating his schoolwork by hanging out with him”! Also known as “It’s a Sunday so we went to the beach”. We specifically went to my old favorite beach – the place I went the first time I came to Los Angeles: Santa Monica! After a quick lunch in the morning of In-N-Out (gotta get that 3x3 and animal style fries every day), we took the trek out to the beach for some fun in the sun.

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local

Griffith Adventure Land

Greetings from La La Land! Actually, pretty much the top of La La Land. No, I didn’t make a trip out to Mt. Baldy; I did that last year and I suffered enough on that hike!

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culture

OC Can You Say?

It’s Sunday night and you know what that means: FOOD! TRUCK! ROAD! TRIP! (minus the truck part of the food truck).

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local

Watts the Matter?

Fasten your seatbelts, attach your climbing harness to your jetpack, it’s time for FIELD TRIP 2019 EDITION! But Andrew, you say, you aren’t in any geology classes this term. And you’re right. This was something special. Something unique. Something just odd enough to be beautiful: an English field trip.

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academics

Some Late-Night Stress-Saving Food Runs

Midterms kept up its unrelenting attack on my sanity this week – at least a little bit. And how did I solve this? Two words.

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clubs

Oh Capitan, El Capitan!

Hey fronds.

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research

Blinterhouse Round 2

Hello, my friends, it has been a long week but it’s the weekend now!

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local

Brunch at Zinc Cafe & Market

For R’s birthday, we went to get brunch at Zinc Cafe & Market in the LA Arts District. We had originally planned to go to BluJam Cafe in downtown LA, but there was unexpectedly a two hour wait because of the LA Marathon the next day! Thankfully we stumbled upon this place on Yelp and switched plans.

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local

LA Art Book Fair

Printed Matter recently hosted an LA Art Book Fair at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Little Tokyo. The fair focuses on the distribution of artists’ books, and it is free to attend. Inside, there are hundreds of booths, each with its unique kind of merchandise, including books, zines, posters, monographs, and more.

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culture

Caltech Art Gala

Every year, Caltech’s literary and arts magazine Totem hosts the Art of Science competition.

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research

My First 3D Print!

The Caltech Techlab gives members of the Caltech community free access to 3D printing. It is located in the Sherman Fairchild Library, and any registered user can use it when the library is open. There are currently 4 working printers that can be used for personal projects, and additional printers that can be used for school-related projects.

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culture

LACMA

Caltech is starting a new Visual Culture program funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and headed by the Caltech Humanities and Social Sciences Department. The program will include new courses, a postdoctoral instructor, artists-in-residence, guest lecturers, and the addition of a visual culture professor to the faculty. The first artist-in-residence is Leslie Thornton, who is an experimental filmmaker. She’ll be teaching a class on the concept of time in filmmaking next term, which seems really interesting! As part of this program, Professor Jurca took a group of 12 students to the LACMA, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. We were there to specifically see the “Double Vision” exhibit, which focuses on 3D art. Many of the exhibits required special 3D glasses for viewing. There were three different types of glasses, each for different kinds of 3D art. One of them was just like the ones you get at 3D movies, and another was the classic one red lens one blue lens type. There were also exhibits that did not require you to use glasses, and others that asked you to look through other lenses like the in the photos below. You can find more about the exhibit here.

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global

Ski Trip!

Every year, Page has their ski trip at the start of second term. We go to Mammoth Ski Resort, and spend Thursday or Friday night to Sunday morning there. Typically, we stay in the same few cabins every year, and since this is my 4th year on Page ski trip, I can recognize many of the rooms :P On the first day (Friday), I went skiing. It was a beautiful sunny day, so it was nice and warm with my ski gear on! I was initially with two more advanced skiiers, so we started with some hard blues and moved to blacks early in the day. This is a photo I took when I was too scared to go down the black, so I sat down and took a photo of the landscape instead. I eventually made it down (without falling!), but it was my second black ever, so I was pretty scared. After that, I resolved to go with a more chill ski group after lunch and just do some blues before finishing up for the day.

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clubs

Ski Trips!

Almost every house at Caltech runs their own ski trip. The members of social teams choose a weekend to reserve a cabin at resorts like Big Bear or Mammoth Mountain, and offer this accomodation for their members for the weekend for people to go skiing and snowboarding at these resorts. As I’m a part of two houses, Avery and Blacker, I get the chance to go on both - which I am happy I got to do this year! Usually I have fencing tournaments scheduled over the same weekends, and so I can’t go to ski. It was extraordinarily lucky this year that I got two trips. Freshman year, I could only go to one, and last year I could go to neither.

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culture

Nevada

My favorite part of every term is Geology (Ge) 136. Ge 136 is a field trip based class open any undergraduate or graduate students at the institute. Each student in the class chooses a topic, writes a brief report, and then presents on it in the field. Mostly members of the Geological and Planetary Sciences (GPS, another classic Caltech pun) enroll, meaning the class is always filled with people ready to answer any questions about colorful rocks, weird extremophile microbes native to the region, or even the planets and stars we can see at night (most trips are in regions with low light pollution so the Milky Way is generally visible).

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local

Hiking the Hollywood Sign

Ever wanted to see the famous Hollywood sign up close? Well you can! There are several hikes that lead up to the Hollywood sign in the Santa Monica Mountains, ranging from 3 to 7 miles long. Some of the hikes start at Griffith Observatory, while others start in other parts of Griffith Park.

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culture

My Favorite Udon Place (!!)

My favorite udon place of all time is Marugame Monzo in Little Tokyo. I found out about it in my freshman year, and I’ve never been disappointed! This is what the main street of Little Tokyo looks like:

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culture

Hiking Mt. Zion

There are a bunch of nice hikes in the San Gabriel mountains, just 15 minutes drive from Caltech. Over winter break, I hiked the Mt. Zion trail via Lower Winter Creek Trail (this one). The trail is 9.6 miles long and has an elevation gain of 2,100 ft, and it took us about 5 hours to hike.

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culture

Dourmet Dishes

I’m trying to get consistent with meal prep this term. Busy weeknights usually find me floundering at the thought of actually cooking and resorting to the straightforward but actually somewhat time-consuming fried-egg-and-rice. Instead, I want to avoid the dilemma altogether and cook a large quantity of real food once a week. Today, the first day of winter term, I kicked off this resolution today by making seven servings of chicken curry.

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culture

RBG

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, affectionately known as the Notorious RBG, is a soft-spoken, eighty-five year old woman who stands just an inch over five feet tall. She’s a widow, grandmother, and also a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

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culture

A Geology Meme a Day…

Keeps your bad grades away! (hopefully – just took the final, did not go well). Hello from Maryland! As you can probably tell, I’m a couple days behind with my blog posts. I’m currently staying with the parents of my roommate from last year while I’m at the American Geophysical Union conference in Washingotn, DC. But more on that later (they’re my new favorite people!).

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culture

Page Interhouse

Each house hosts one big party during the school year, and Page is the first to host it in November. There are four interhouses during Winter Term, and then the last three are in the Spring. This year, our theme was Club Penguin.

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culture

Union Station Holiday Festival

Last weekend, there was a holiday festival at Union Station. On the way there, we passed by a street full of small stores that seemed to sell Mexican items. I have a feeling I’ve seen it before, so I think it might always be there.

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culture

Huntington Trip

I’m beginning to get the suspicion that every Caltech humanities class tries to find some excuse to go visit the Huntington. I’m not complaining though. I love the gardens. It gives me an excuse to get off campus and be surrounded by lush foliage like I was living in a different world. Even if only for a moment. This Huntington trip was a bit different, and sponsored by English 128, the contemporary Irish literature course I’m taking taught by Dean Gilmartin.

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research

Theme Dinner

In Blacker Hovse, we have the tradition of waited dinner - we are one of seven houses who do have this tradition. Each night, we have student waiters who serve food platters (we eat family style) and get drinks, carry messages, and do other miscellaneous errands. Although houses will let any member wait, they must be trained before they are allowed to, and are paid by Caltech Dining Services for their work.

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culture

How much food can one boy eat?

A lot. That’s the honest and unabridged answer. I went on a food tour this Sunday night with our director of student activities, Tom Mannion. Tom has made it into a few posts before so I’m not going to dawdle on that too much, but basically, he’s the best and he took us on an Asian food of SGV tour.

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research

Crow-bar None (Ge 11a Part 2)

Ok now for the FUN! Geology post. And the post where I talk a bit about the logistics of going on a 3.5-day Caltech GPS trip. The trip started on a Thursday night. I spent most of the 4-ish hour car ride working on my CS midterm. We ate in Barstow. 3/5 for the Barstow burger place, it was kinda funky. My friend Molly and I actually packed most of our food for the trip besides the planned dinners out. Lots of chunky PB&J (blueberry jelly!).

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local

Brunch and Purple Yam Tiramisu

Last weekend, I went to get brunch with my friends. We went to Bird’s Nest Cafe near USC, which serves pancakes, tacos, sandwiches, omelettes, and more. I got the Sunrise Tacos pictured below, and I thought they were delicious. They usually come with avocados which would probably make them super appealing for most people, but unfortunately I’m allergic to avocados :( I would recommend coming to this place, since it’s really cute, not expensive, and quick!

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culture

Vancouver Trip

Over the summer, all of the Caltech undergrads in Seattle got together to go on a weekend road trip to Vancouver. With 9 people, we booked an Airbnb and set off from Seattle on a Friday evening.

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culture

Part Time Dog Walking

Over the past year, I’ve been regularly dog-sitting for this cute maltese-poodle mix called Rocco. He has separation anxiety, which is why he has a diaper on in the first image. When I come visit, I take off the diaper, play with him, and take him on a walk. He’s such a cute dog! He always greets me by immediately rolling over for a belly rub.

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culture

Welcoming New Frosh and Rock Climbing

It’s the end of Rotation, and all the frosh have rotated into their new houses! As part of our house initiation, we painted Fleming’s red cannon a nice Page blue :) (with Fleming’s permission, of course). During my rotation 3 years ago, we pulled pranks like stealing Lloyd’s gong and Venerable’s couches, but nothing as big as this. Apparently the paint is washable though, so it should come off fine.

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Spotlight


academics

My Trip to the Galapagos!

It’s been over three months since my trip to the Galapagos, and I am still thinking about it. For seven days, we all woke up at 5:30 am on the boat, ate breakfast together, and went out as the sun was rising on our morning hike to catch frigatebirds mating or iguanas spewing salt from their nostrils. Our days were spent snorkeling with turtles, sea lions, and schools of fish, and our nights were spent sitting on the bow of the ship, talking all together under the stars. It was truly a spring break I will never forget.

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culture

Caltech Food Tour

Caltech may be a small campus, but it has a large variety of food options. There are three main dining locations on campus — The Lee F. Browne Dining Hall, the Hameetman Center (which houses our beloved Red Door Cafe), and the Broad Café.

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academics

Some Late-Night Stress-Saving Food Runs

Midterms kept up its unrelenting attack on my sanity this week – at least a little bit. And how did I solve this? Two words.

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global local culture

Quick Trip to the Beach

Although there are a lot of smaller things, such as midterm smoothies and milkshakes (Blacker does something similar to this) and some larger things like Faculty Dessert Night, the soc team usually agrees that beach trip is the most work.

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