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Giving Thanks Part 1

I spent this Thanksgiving at the home of my graduate student mentor, Dave Henry. In addition to being a great research and awesome mentor, he’s also a pretty good guy to hang out with, so Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. In addition to Dave and his family, fellow graduate student Andrew and his family and Occidental Professor / SCUBA Diver Saul and his family were in attendance. I work on a day-to-day basis with Andrew, and I’ve had the pleasure of diving with Saul before, so we all knew each other and had a great time cooking and eating together.

Hmm. That started out as a quick description of my Thanksgiving dinner and ended up as some sort of stream-of-consciousness remembrance of one of my favorite times at Caltech. It also manages to address (although earlier than intended) one of the questions I planned to answer in this week’s blog post: "What is one of your favorite memories of your time spent at Caltech?" This memory definitely ranks up there.

You might be wondering why I intended to answer that question in the first place, and I am more than happy to tell you. On Tuesday I participated in Caltech’s first "TecherChat", which was a chatroom set up to answer the questions of prospective students by current Caltech undergraduates. The question I answered above was one of the questions directed to me that I felt I didn’t really have time to answer properly. Although I think the chat was a success, the very nature of it (Caltech students outnumbered 20 to 1 or more in a chat, answering questions) led to the answers being for the most part brief and relatively uninformative. Maybe I’m viewing it a little harshly, but I certainly wish I could have answered some of the really good questions asked in more detail–so that’s what I plan to do.

This post is getting pretty long, so I’m going to end it here and continue soon with Giving Thanks Part 2: Asking the Right Questions. I will answer some of the better questions asked in the Techerchat in more detail and also address questions that may not have been asked. I will also try to give advice in general of what questions you as a prospective student should ask of the schools you consider attending.

Oh, and one more thing: If you’ve got a question you’d like answered in full-out-ridiculously-long-Tom-Gwinn-posting-style, please feel free to ask it in the comments.

再见! (goodbye!)

Tom Gwinn