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Blogger Introduction: Michael Gutierrez

Hi friends! I am one Michael Gutierrez – otherwise known as “Guutz”.

Where to begin?

A word cloud with a lot of words that are related to the concept of "me".
This is my word cloud. There are many like it but this one is mine.

At the time of writing, I’ve just finished up my summer internship in Copenhagen (I will tell you all about it in another blog post real soon!!), I’m wrapping up the process of building this website up with my own mortal hands, from the ashes of its former self like a phoenix, except with WordPress so it’s more like a phpnix (that’s a hilarious pun, I promise), and I finally have some time to sit back and relax at home. As such, I’m a tiny bit heademptynothoughts – so the plan for this intro post is to scroll back through my camera roll and narrate a bit. (“How did I get here again??”)

Me standing in a grassy green backdrop on the water with a dapper outfit holding a shiny tuba
Soundtrack of this era

November 2019: A different era. I was just a simple tuba-tootin’ Florida Man, metaphorical eyes bright and wide, and mind positively buzzing with energy – mathematical (thinking about what to plan for next week’s Math Club meeting), musical (in preparation for the Sarasota Youth Orchestra concerto competition one week hence, Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Concerto for Bass Tuba was looping in my mind NONSTOP), existential (earlier that month, I had finally sent off my first round of college apps through the QuestBridge College Match, and the future had never been more uncertain), and nervous (undiagnosed anxiety 😎🤪👌) energy.

Dr. Strange calculating all 12893075821 possible futures in Avengers Infinity war
Dr. Strange calculating all 12893075821 possible futures in Avengers Infinity war

December 2019: When I used to have blue hair highlights and post stuff like this on social media. I was riding the high of being admitted to Caltech!!! (again, I will definitely tell this story in another post!) and developing a bad case of senior-itis. It was awesome. Worth every bit of stress, anguish, and toil! (mostly not sarcasm!)

Oh, and I also spent half the semester preparing for a 14-hour math modeling competition with 4 of my friends. Y’know, normal teenager stuff. (I didn’t get out much, ok😭 no but it was a good experience though plus we won the $25,000 first prize ( ✌︎’ω’)✌︎ ¯\(ツ)/¯ ඞ don’t @ me bro seriously this is my impostor syndrome fuel aaah)

Me and my english teacher wearing sunglasses inside the classroom
Mr. Wiley’s AP 🔥Lit🔥 class
Me wearing a Caltech hoodie, sunset beach in the background, holding a sign that says "I matched with Caltech! Thanks Questbridge!"
Soundtrack of this era

Tinder screenshot - Samsung Smart Fridge - IT'S A MATCH!
Just me, my brother Marcus, and the lord's chicken
Just me, my brother Marcus, and the lord’s chicken
Soundtrack of this era

April 2020: Of course by this time, the pandemmy had hit, and I was short 1/3 of my senior year in high school. Suddenly I (like the rest of western society) had adopted a dog, started learning guitar, and downloaded Tinder “as a joke.” Oh, and TikTok, of course (soon I will have to uninstall it because the app is no longer allowed on Caltech devices 😭).

Side note — lmao, the unbelievable irony of a kid wearing CALTECH merch saying “I have all this free time”

I was fortunate enough to have a very unremarkable experience during the COVID times. Life was a bore in southern Florida, but I had a part-time job at Petco, nice beaches and scenery for biking, and an internet full of podcasts to keep up with. What else can you ask for?

Placid lake nearby my house with Florida palm trees and storm clouds in the background :)

November 2020: COVID was still among us and Caltech had moved all classes online. In yet another story for another time, I eventually decided to take a gap year, rather than spend a quarter of my college experience fermenting with isolation, depression, and worse, frosh core problem sets.

So instead, earlier that summer I made a LinkedIn account, scraped together something vaguely resembling a resume from my high school extracurriculars, dusted off my college essay-> cover letter speedrunning hat, and got to work emailing and applying for every internship under the sun. Eventually, in late September, just as the Class of 2024 was beginning their first term, I scored a remote gig with a small team of college students working on a startup company.

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but it was a fun (sometimes) excuse to hang out at my local fab lab
hack together random electronics
play with the 3D printers

Podcast rec from this era

concoctions of mystery chemicals shipped to me in two massive jugs, direct from China

I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but it was a fun (sometimes) excuse to hang out at my local fab lab and play with the 3D printers, hack together random electronics, and of course, run tests™ on concoctions of mystery chemicals shipped to me in two massive jugs, direct from China. (Seriously, story for another time.)

I also was able to meet up with some high school buds and go camping/frolicking in the Floridian wilderness : )
I also was able to meet up with some high school buds and go camping/frolicking in the Floridian wilderness : )
Soundtrack of this era

Lots of zoom calls. Also a lot of in-person ones though!
Lots of zoom calls. Also a lot of in-person ones though!
It was my job to both design the part on the computer, then sculpt it from a block of aluminum 😳
It was my job to both design the part on the computer, then sculpt it from a block of aluminum 😳
Everything was disorganized and nothing was working and aaaaaaaa
Everything was disorganized and nothing was working and aaaaaaaa

January – May 2021: I moved to Somerville, a cute little neighborhood within a stone’s throw of Boston, in order to join up with the other members of the startup and continue my internship IRL!! This was my first time really living on my own (away from home and parents) and it definitely was a learning curve but it was so much fun.

A computer monitor stacked on top of cardboard boxes
Rate my setup!

Podcast rec from this era

Big letters on the side of a building that say INOVAR | GRIT | BELIEVE | UNIDOS | CREATE. And in the sun, they cast shadows that say DREAM BIG | PERSEVERE | YOU GOT THIS | TOGETHER WE CAN | SEREMOS EL CAMBIO
View from a bridge overlooking a train track with some aesthetic graffiti
Florida Man's adventures in suddenly living in a place where it snows! Almost died trying to walk home over an icy bridge 🤪
Florida Man’s adventures in suddenly living in a place where it snows! Almost died trying to walk home over an icy bridge 🤪
Soundtrack of this era

August 2021: Pasadena at last! From a wild coincidence, I landed a summer internship at XOS Trucks in Glendale, CA thanks to an upperclassman introducing me to the company’s CTO, who was a Caltech alum! I ended up staying in an AirBnB with two other Techers, just a 20-minute drive away from Caltech campus. And I finally got to meet all my friends whom I’d only ever known on Discord :’)

I built this air pressure testing rig with my own two hands and a lot of someone else's money. But the battery enclosure leaked so much at first that the gauges I picked couldn't detect any pressure 😭
I built this air pressure testing rig with my own two hands and a lot of someone else’s money. But the battery enclosure leaked so much at first that the gauges I picked couldn’t detect any pressure 😭
I can be trusted with high voltage electric truck batteries :D
I can be trusted with high voltage electric truck batteries 😀
4th of July fireworks at the Rose Bowl!
4th of July fireworks at the Rose Bowl!
Farewell party for former Caltech Admissions director Nikki Chun <3
Farewell party for former Caltech Admissions director Nikki Chun <3
Designing humans is hard I have a whole new respect for God
Designing humans is hard I have a whole new respect for God
Soundtrack for this era

Fall Term 2021: The moment I’d been waiting for!! It was actually such a long journey to get here. This was a time of a lot of emotions – figuring out who my friends were once online gave way to in-person. Remembering how to do school again after almost a year and a half away from a classroom. Rotation happened, partially online still due to COVID concerns (ugh) but it did happen! I rotated into Dabney Hovse, but ended up living across campus in the Bechtel residence, and then I also ended up applying for a Ricketts Hovse membership because a bunch of my friends from the Class of 2024 were there and convinced me to. 😛

There were a lot of things moving around in those days – splitting time between friend groups which were still forming and changing as an entire campus of people experienced living in the same space for the first time in years. And of course I also had to make the daily journey back and forth between Bechtel and the rest of campus (only a 5-minute walk but we still complain).

I had also just started a new antidepressant medication for the first time, only a month prior, thanks to finally having access to Caltech health insurance and resources. So it was a bit of a turbulent time mentally for me. Keeping up with academics (which were tough but fortunately not all-consuming), figuring out where I felt I most belonged (anxiety be like “everyone hates you lol”), and also dealing with catching feelings™️ (had a crush on someone, asked them out, threw up on the sidewalk as we were walking, didn’t see them again; was abnormal for a week or two after).

But things were good overall. After floating around the world for a year and a half wherever opportunity took me, it was such a good feeling to finally be here, to be home. I’m not only here to work and learn (though that is a large part of it, and I will surely talk your ear off about my classes in future blogs); I’m here to LIVE. And it really did (and does) feel like home at Caltech.

a crude drawing of a cat
You’ve heard of Schrodinger’s cat, but get ready for Cheung’s cat
I have dyed yellow/red hair!
It was Bad Hair Decisions Week! 🔥
a bunch of completely soaked college students holding up a massive pentagram made from rebar.
Ricketts Class of 2025, and the last Frosh Wash ever ☹️ (administration banned the tradition because it involved throwing water balloons at people.)
a banana duct taped to a door
My truly iconic dorm door decoration in my pre-rotation room assignment in Lloyd (featuring REAL art.)
I got to participate in the Dabney Hovse Halloween Pumpkin Drop! (The pumpkins have been frozen with liquid nitrogen)
I got to participate in the Dabney Hovse Halloween Pumpkin Drop! (The pumpkins have been frozen with liquid nitrogen)
View from the roof of Caltech Hall (formerly known as Millikan Library) where we dropped the pumpkins
View from the roof of Caltech Hall (formerly known as Millikan Library) where we dropped the pumpkins
This was my phone’s wake-up alarm for so long. Actually it still is lol

low quality, zoomed in picture of the carpet at red door cafe with someone's shoe, bottom text reads "DO YOU EVER / WANT TO CRY?"
Post-ironic memes made at 2am while staring at the ground in Red Door Cafe, waiting for your drink, and pondering the amount of work you have left to do tonight. You never know when inspiration will strike!
Giving a thumbs up with blood on my hand
Had my first wipeout on the skateboard! Truly a rite of passage
My friend Lily's cat, Sweet Pea, biting my foot
My friend Lily’s cat, Sweet Pea, biting my foot
orange home depot bucket with cotton shreds on top, and a handwritten sign that says DO NOT TOUCH (for real)
Completely normal cotton, not chemically treated to be extra flammable, I swear (no don’t open the bucket, it’s… there’s no sulfuric acid in there, I already checked! earlier. so you don’t have to. yeah.)

Winter Term 2022: Things kinda got real this term. Classes got harder (though we were still being graded pass-fail since it was only our second term). One of my two core friend groups basically completely disintegrated. Frosh year at Caltech puts people under an enormous amount of pressure at a very vulnerable time in their lives, and it changes them. This is the way of things. I was also dealing with a separate handful of stressful personal issues which I may talk about some other time.

Life went on. I got closer with the tight group of friends I was still in touch with. (We had a group chat! And hung out often! I’d never had that before!) A couple of my friends taught me how to skateboard. I’ll never forget those “midnight skate”s back and forth across the Moore Walk and north parking lot. By the way, if you’re impatient (or have a lot of inner voices to drown out) like me, skateboarding is definitely the way to go at Caltech. It’s super convenient and made the tedious trip back to my dorm in Bechtel each night so much more bearable.

This was probably the most ahead in terms of classwork I’ve ever been, and ever will be at Caltech. At one point I was working on the physics set for the following week. Note that this is extremely abnormal and probably concerning. But evidently I managed somehow, and on top of it I somehow also had time to do a bunch of other fun activities. Take advantage of frosh year, kiddos! You have two terms of pass-fail for a reason!

My final exam for ME 13, aka. shop class: a trophy I created using all the machines I'd been trained on!
My final exam for ME 13, aka. shop class: a trophy I created using all the machines I’d been trained on!
picture of me in a desert landscape with the sun low in the sky and a group of people gathered around a big inflated weather balloon about to lift off from the ground
I got up at 4am one morning to tag along to the desert with my friends on a class field trip to launch a high altitude balloon!
posters on my wall and a view from my window of my dorm room
Dorm decorations
Me in a helmet and sunglasses at the side of a big rock face in Joshua Tree, a bunch of people with climbing equipment in the background
Climbing safety class at Joshua Tree Nat’l Park, organized by Caltech Alpine Club!
Soundtrack for this era

Spring Term 2022: Due to a… sequence of events, I ended up moving to an off-campus apartment with 2 friends for the final term of my frosh year. It was fine. The skateboard helped immensely to get back and forth.

I had some interesting classes this term. There was Ay 1 – Intro to Astronomy – which I really enjoyed. There was ME 129 – Experimental Robotics – which sounds cooler than it actually was, since it was almost entirely python programming. But it was neat because we were programming a little two-wheeled robot which we built ourselves to follow lines of tape on the floor.

I was doing a lot of stuff this term. On top of my classes, I was also playing a part in a musical theater production! I’d never been a theater kid before, but I found my inner diva, and it was so much fun. This definitely deserves a blog post of its own, so I’ll leave you with a couple of photos for now. Oh, the musical was called “From the Earth to the Moon!” And you can watch our performance here!

I also joined Caltech CubeSat Club, and we had an epic adventure at the end of this term which already has its own blog post!

formal dinner photo with friends
Ricketts formal dinner frosh photo!
picnic table in the middle of the desert
Aforementioned epic cubesat club adventure 😀
Look how well it follows the lines! 🤩 (sped up 2x) (OK to be fair I just remembered that it’s not actually trying to follow lines in this video, it’s actually driving a set distance away from the yellow cylinder at all times, so I guess it is doing pretty well lol go us!)
me sitting at a table with my laptop and sweetpea the cat also sitting on the table and staring at my laptop like she's moments away from walking all over the keyboard
Sweet pea watching PBS Space Time with me
mfw I learn that the speed of light = 1/sqrt(epsilon_0 mu_0)
Physics class: electricity+magnetism was crazy
I'm dressed up wearing a racoon-skin hat, fingerless gloves, a long sleeve white button down shirt with a beige vest and a polka dot bowtie, and carrying a knapsack over my shoulder
My costume for my big solo debut as “Man Near Woods”
The full cast of the musical dressed up bowing on stage at the end of the play
The cast of “From the Earth to the Moon!” :’)
Soundtrack for this era

picture of me underneath a massive radio dish
The 40-something-meter Westford Radio Antenna I got to play with!! (not really lol)
There is an amongus drawn in the dust on the satellite dish
Spot the amongus
a picture of me in a room with a bunch of racks of complicated electronics with wires going everywhere
The control room for the antenna (I can be trusted with highly sensitive and partly classified radio equipment 😀 )
me posing with Matt Parker and Bec Hill at the festival during a book signing meet-and-greet
I got to meet THE Matt Parker and Bec Hill during my trip to the Blue Dot Festival in the UK!

Summer 2022: I got to go back to Boston for an internship at MIT Haystack Observatory! It was seriously epic and my experience there was the final straw that convinced me to change my major at Caltech from Mechanical Engineering to Astrophysics! I’ve talked a bit more about my summer experience here in other blog posts. Probably not enough though — so much happened this summer! It definitely marked my transition from frosh to s’more. For the first time in a long time, I had a sense that I was where I was supposed to be. That doesn’t mean I suddenly had it all figured out — quite the contrary. I still feel like that Dr. Strange GIF, trying to grapple with all the possible futures I could see myself in. But mental health wise, this was the start of a new era for me : ) (Seriously though, you have no idea how good it felt to get away from campus. I didn’t realize how much everything was weighing on me while I was there, but I was under so much pressure and stress. For me it wasn’t even the classes so much (though they contributed of course), but more so along the lines of… sometimes you have to make the tough call to distance yourself from a group of people, even people you consider close friends, once you admit to yourself that the relationship is no longer a positive one. And on top of that, being constantly busy and running around everywhere to different commitments (even self inflicted ones) gets exhausting. So it was nice to have a change of scenery for the summer. But by the end, I was missing it :’) )

a picture of me in front of a scenic landscape on top of a mountain
Sequoia National Park! I got to go here at the end of the summer as part of a Caltech-organized camping trip called the Y-Hike! If you’re a prefrosh I HIGHLY recommend signing up for this trip, it is so much fun and you get to meet a lot of other students in a super fun and more intimate way before moving in and starting school 🙂
me and friend Henry in Sequoia
Soundtrack for this era

Also a podcast rec (I binged it over this summer)

Fall Term 2022: Wow, sophomore year already. And now I’ve just turned 21 already 😳. I talked a bit about my adventure to Washington DC at the beginning of this term here so hmm what happened after that. Right, this was my first term officially being an Astro major, so I got take my first real astronomy class which was cool. Also, sophomore physics plus differential equations class was a doozy of a combination since the former is essentially just math. It was a WILD ride, the problem sets were HARD but I was enjoying the topics a lot because everything that I’d learned in the past year was coming together and starting to make sense!

Let’s see, other than that I was living in Dabney Hovse this year which was a great upgrade over Bechtel since it’s near the middle of campus. I hadn’t spent a lot of time around Dabney the previous year because most of my friends were in Ricketts, but it was so great to re-join the Dabney community, the people there are awesome. I had a relatively decent amount of free time since I had a relatively light course load. I emphasize relatively because what even is free time, lol. But I dyed my hair again and bought a casual lab coat to wear ‘around’, and found some time to do some more misguided chemistry experiments and record some musical moments with friends. Good times!

A piece of paper taped up in a bathroom stall at Caltech. It is stylized as an album cover, titled "Meatman" (a bastardization of Hameetman Center, the student union on campus). One of the songs on the album (which doesn't exist, it was made as a joke) is "Mental Arson"
“Mental Arson” parodied and recorded by yours truly
Soundtrack for this era
scribblings on a chalkboard
Doing homework problems on a chalkboard is so gratifying! I feel like a real physicist!
View from the roof of Moore Laboratory with a satellite dish in the foreground
View from the roof of Moore Laboratory — I finally got permission to come up here and play with the satellite dish 😀 I actually CAN be trusted with 20-year-old abandoned radio astronomy instrumentation from NASA! (story for another time hehe)
the brown gas billowing up from the tray is definitely nitric acid fumes.
No, I’m just… tie-dying some stuff. (COUGH) Yeah. That’s obviously why I have two large buckets of water (*wheeze*) mixed with baking soda. (COUGH) and the gloves. (COUGH *wheeze*) Oh, the brown gas billowing up from the tray? No, I wouldn’t say that’s necessarily nitric acid fumes from a runaway reaction I didn’t — (hhhhCHHh\\]{><?_^%#$hhh) nope, can’t keep a straight face. [DISCLAIMER: this was NOT on caltech campus!!]
Me dressed up in a lab coat with colorful pens in my front pocket and a Dabney Hovse Crest sewn onto the front. My friend Lilia is dressed in a knight costume at the edge of the frame
“Me in my blogging days”

Me and friends blindfolded and walking to some unknown destination guided by a towel which we're holding one end of, and being pulled along
Dabney Initiations Out Of Context
photo of us at the top of the hike attempting to pose and spell "caltech" with our bodies
Spontaneous hike with friends!
a picture of the door to my dorm room, it is heavily decorated with a whiteboard with my name, some fun posters, and a screen with "code rain" like in The Matrix
me and Kai in the Dabney courtyard in the middle of an intense foam sword fight
I honestly forget the context of this photo, but I do know that Kai bested me in the foam sword fight.
whiteboard scribblings with calculus stuff
Scribblings of a me desperately trying to understand how error propagation works so I can explain in my physics lab report why my results are so wrong

Winter Term 2023: The physics got REAL this term. Intro to Quantum Mechanics hit us all like a bus. I actually vlogged the first week of this term, and theoretically you should see those videos coming out here real soon so stay tuned.

There were a ton of fun events that happened this term — Dabney Hovse had its initiations event, and I hadn’t actually attended it last year, so I got initiated this year. No I cannot tell you more details it is top secret. You’ll just have to join Dabney Hovse to find out! (Actually, put a pin in that — administration wants to ban this tradition too, because of the part where the initiates are asked nicely to put on a blindfold if they feel comfortable.)

Other than that, though, I was super busy with work this term. Classes were a doozy, had me truly struggling to keep up for the first time really at Caltech. A few times I stayed up past 5am to finish a problem set. This is a boundary that I do NOT cross lightly — I have never pulled an all-nighter to this day, but I did come close a few times this term. All in the name of physics 🫡. I think in the first week that I vlogged, there was a lot more time for fun stuff since the work hadn’t really kicked in yet, so watching them back, I think they’re not the most accurate representation of day to day life at Caltech. But they definitely capture the student culture really well so that’s something I’m proud of 🙂

>>> print(1-.8-.2)
>>> print(1-.2-.8)
My Python code for an astronomy assignment kept returning an impossible result. After an hour+ of print statement debugging, I found the culprit… floating point arithmetic. 🤦 I hate technology. I hope there’s a massive solar flare which takes down the power grid and puts this society out of its sleepwalk of misery. /half-joking
a printout of a lab report except all of the text has been mutilated into random characters somehow
The printer could not comprehend my lab writeup
Fun scene from a sophomore physics lab experiment! It would take a long time to explain what this is (maybe I can do so another time if there is interest) but to give you a taste, those numbers counting up on the display are radioactive particles :)))

Me and Jonathan inside an old house structure
We pulled off the highway in the middle of Arizona to see a ghost town!!
Saren is standing inside the bowl of the radio dish, hands triumphantly in the air
My friend Saren and the radio dish! We’re going to help a professor teach a class with it this coming Spring of 2024!
9th floor of the library, moments before the eggs were to be dropped, a crowd of students are gathered around their creations
DiscoTech was a ton of fun to help out with 🙂 All the bright-eyed little prefroshes were doing final preparations on their egg-protection mechanisms (uh, and telling me exactly which orientation they should be dropped in. sorry y’all, that wasn’t in the rules! 😅)
a long table with each seat set with a huge platter of cheeses, and Chi leaning over it looking very excited
Annual sophomore cheese tasting tradition! feat. Chi
a picture of the puzzles section of the newspaper. It has a tangram puzzle titled "Tangramogus"
My first issue of the student newspaper, The California Tech, as Editor-in-Chief!
math scribblings
Random scribblings I found in my camera roll. I think this was from a Physics: Statistical Mechanics problem set, and I think I may have gotten it wrong in the end, which makes me mad because it was an interesting problem and I spent actually so long thinking about it and discussing it with friends and was reasonably confident in my answer. Such is life. Maybe I’ll have to revisit it.
a blackboard in a lecture hall covered in physics
More physics scribbling, this time it’s from the professor’s lecture haha (I love Prof. Patterson he was one of the best teachers I’ve had at Caltech thus far)

Spring Term 2023: Spring break was fun — I went on a road trip with my friend Jonathan back to his home town in Texas. We also had time to stop at some fun places along the way. Given that, though, once we got back and it was time to start school again, I hadn’t really had a chance to rest; so unfortunately I started out the term a little burnt out.

And this term was a DOOZY. The hardest term I’ve had at Caltech thus far. It was the amount of stuff I had to do. Physics classes were tough, as always, but what really sucked up my time was the student newspaper, The California Tech. Journalism was not something I’d really done before, but it was severely lacking at Caltech, as no one was really writing for the newspaper — even though there’s definitely a lot to write about. So I decided to run (uh, unopposed) for Tech Editor-in-Chief. Which then meant I had to actually publish the newspaper every other week. I have a great team of people helping me to do this, but it’s still a ton of work. Very rewarding, especially when we get the freshly printed stack of papers with our hard work on display, but yeah. Time consuming.

I was also tied up with: Helping out with admissions events for new students; tinkering around with an old radio telescope I’d gotten permission to use, and felt obligated to now that I’d received funding from the Deans’ Office to buy equipment; starting to plan for revamping this blog website; and a bunch of other one-off stuff like planning a finals week house event, going to an astronomy outreach event at a local high school, Ditch Day of course, oh I also went on a weekend camping trip with the Alpine Club; probably other stuff I’m forgetting. It was fun, but it was so much. So much. Looking back, I do have to admit that it interfered with my academics a bit. I didn’t get as much out of my physics class as I would have liked, since it’s really interesting material, the statistical mechanics. Live and learn.

By the end of the term, I was so ready to be done and out of there. I said goodbye to my friends for the summer, and without so much as a few days of rest, I was on a plane to Copenhagen to start my summer research project… never a dull moment!

the bouncy house is deflated :(
Fellow Dabney House Peer Advocate (and also admissions tour guide!) Jessie (pictured) and I organized a fun relaxation day for people during finals week! The bouncy house was leaky and not appreciative of being abused by grown-gluteus adults, so it tripped a breaker that took us like 30 minutes to find 😭 (It was in the basement??)
me standing in front of a huge mural on a concrete wall, lit only by flashlights, that says "FEAR"
“Fear”, one of the 4 famous murals in the s̴͕̘̘̖͇̳̹͇̦̻̠̀̔̐́̾̎͒̒̋̇̕t̸̲̩̯̰̮͈͔͎̪̘̻̲͎̾͑̊͊̃͒̅͌̇̏̂͐͛̕͠ͅȩ̷̦̹̲͎̤̻̫̜̘̱̞̗̿̍͌͌͘͝ͅa̴͔̗̲̣̙̝͇̦͍̜̲̋͛͠m̸͚͉͍͈̳͉̭̱̎́ ̵̛̮͉̗͎͎̱̝̙̦̱͆͆̿̈͒ṫ̷̥͚̞̖͇̮̹̯͒̽̊̿͂͂͌̆̓̽u̸̡̲̲͗̇̓͌͑̓̾͝ͅn̴̰̩̹̣̐̏̃͑̂̂̽̿̀̈́̓͠n̴̹̫͔̺̫̣̲͔̮̲͈̖̘͇̓̄̑̿̀̈̽̆̿͊̊͠͝ę̴̧̡̨̧̛̩̼͔̝͈̄̒͝ḻ̷̩̹̘̠̪͇͓̣̳͍͙́̉͐̇̆͆̈̍̈́̓̌̕̚͘s̷̡̛̛̤̦̤͉͙̪̥̮̑̄͂̎́̆̕͘. Normally strictly forbidden, I got to hang out here during Ditch Day, the only day of the year when the s̴͕̘̘̖͇̳̹͇̦̻̠̀̔̐́̾̎͒̒̋̇̕t̸̲̩̯̰̮͈͔͎̪̘̻̲͎̾͑̊͊̃͒̅͌̇̏̂͐͛̕͠ͅȩ̷̦̹̲͎̤̻̫̜̘̱̞̗̿̍͌͌͘͝ͅa̴͔̗̲̣̙̝͇̦͍̜̲̋͛͠m̸͚͉͍͈̳͉̭̱̎́ ̵̛̮͉̗͎͎̱̝̙̦̱͆͆̿̈͒ṫ̷̥͚̞̖͇̮̹̯͒̽̊̿͂͂͌̆̓̽u̸̡̲̲͗̇̓͌͑̓̾͝ͅn̴̰̩̹̣̐̏̃͑̂̂̽̿̀̈́̓͠n̴̹̫͔̺̫̣̲͔̮̲͈̖̘͇̓̄̑̿̀̈̽̆̿͊̊͠͝ę̴̧̡̨̧̛̩̼͔̝͈̄̒͝ḻ̷̩̹̘̠̪͇͓̣̳͍͙́̉͐̇̆͆̈̍̈́̓̌̕̚͘s̷̡̛̛̤̦̤͉͙̪̥̮̑̄͂̎́̆̕͘ officially exist!
a selfie with me and a bunch of my friends all wearing the same t-shirt
And finally here we are at the cover photo of this blog 🙂 Ditch Day was such a fun time this year, I got to hang out with a bunch of my best buds in Dabney Hovse, and we had a Welcome to Night Vale (fiction podcast) themed adventure!
Soundtrack for this era

Summer 2023: I had gotten connected with a professor at the University of Copenhagen who had a cool idea for a project related to radio astronomy, and thanks to Caltech’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), I and two other Caltech students got a stipend to visit there for 10 weeks — all living costs included! (If you know how to live cheap…)

It was definitely a big transition — I hadn’t spent more than a week anywhere in Europe before, and now I was LIVING here, biking to work every day… it was wild. Perhaps I will detail more of my experiences in a followup post (because the summer definitely deserves more than two paragraphs, but I’ve been writing for a day now, and I just want to publish this post lol). Certainly took some adjusting and I won’t say it was completely un-stressful, but it was certainly a very cool experience.

Me with a baby sheep
Bonus: sheep in Switzerland!
The biker gang 😎
Left to right: Arden, me, Bright, Prof. Steinhardt
The biker gang 😎
Left to right: Arden, me, Bright, Prof. Steinhardt
"At this very bench Thue Nikolajsen (the physicist) would eat the pastry of roulade - a memory for you to share"
Spotted in a park near University of Copenhagen
me in front of a projector screen
My final presentation! Which I had been working on up until literally the moment I walked up to the podium 😭 don’t be like me, kids

Phew! Wow that was a wild experience, re-tracing my life era-by-era since high school. Did not exactly turn out to be the ‘brainemptynothoughts’ blog post that I initially set out to write but that’s ok, lol.

Every one of these pictures is, as they say, worth — if not 1000 words — at least 1000 seconds. If you’re curious about the story behind any of them (and every one does have a story), leave a comment on this post and I’ll answer it! Or feel free to email me at magutier@caltech.edu. I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Michael Gutierrez ’25

… or “Guutz” for short. Junior, 🏝️Sarasota Florida Man, Dabney Hovse Peer Advocate, Editor-in-Chief for The California Tech, President of Caltech QuestBridge Chapter, tuba band kid converted to theater geek (come see my show at Caltech this December 2023!), Guitar Matt™️, builds things sometimes, somethingsomethingspacesatellites CubeSat Club, sk8r boi, licensed “ham” (iykyk), other stuff probably (too many things), in my free time I study Astrophysics📡☄️🌌 nyah ( ✌︎’ω’)✌︎ ¯\(ツ)/¯

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