Saturday, January 25, 2014

Schrödinger's Cat

On Wednesday nights, I have class from 6:40 to 9:20.  It's rough.  We're in the computer lab, so no food or drinks allowed - that's right, no caffeine in a night class on research methodology (which is actually pretty interesting, but would be a lot easier to follow at, say, 4pm).  And anyone who has been around me after a long day knows that caffeine is the only thing that enables me to keep the verbal filter firmly attached.  

By 8:30, I was mentally switching between trying to paying attention and daydreaming about pie (which the professor had mentioned about five minutes earlier, so that's on him) when I refocused on his discussion of the difference between experimental and quasi-experimental research design.  

Prof: Some people will tell you that it's either experimental, or nothing.  There's no such thing as quasi-experimental research.  It's like, you can't be alive and dead at the same time.

Me, out of nowhere: What about Schrödinger's Cat?

Classmates: Silence/confused stares.

Me, trying to recover/provide context: I mean, uh, all I know about Schrödinger's Cat is from the Big Bang Theory, so, ha...

Classmates: Continued silence/confused stares/apparently people in Portland don't watch the Big Bang Theory because this is not the first time this has happened to me.

Prof: Well, actually, I once had a student in a seminar give a whole presentation about leadership and Schrödinger's cat (continues anecdote…).

Classmates: More silence.

And THAT is why they should allow us to drink coffee in the computer labs.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Seattle Escape

Today, I need to escape a little.  I'm wearing three hats this quarter - four, if you count the beanie my sister got me for Christmas: graduate student, teaching assistant/program coordinator (which is one of those hats with the propeller on top), and research assistant.  I feel very fortunate that I'm getting such a robust graduate experience, and seriously grateful for the financial support that goes along with these opportunities.  But it's a lot of emails, a lot of meetings, a lot of juggling, a lot of hard work, and some days, a lot of frustration.

I realized that I never shared any pictures from my trip to Seattle in early October, and looking back at some of these memories has put a smile on my face.  It also made me realize that it's been too long since I left Portland.  

view from the Seattle Great Wheel - worth doing once for the views, but maybe not if there's a long line...

My mom and I took the train up from Stumptown to Seattle, which saved us the hassle of paying for parking (which is pricey) and navigating insane traffic.  Seriously, Seattle is not much bigger than Portland in terms of numbers, but the energy is completely different.  Next time, I'll still opt for public transit, but will take a look at the Bolt Bus, which is both cheaper and faster.  Live and learn.

We made it into the city just in time to drop off our bags, jump on a bus, and catch the end of happy hour over at Plum Bistro, where I consumed the best mac 'n cheese of my life.  And, by the way, it was vegan.  Chef Makini Howell's dishes are fresh, indulgent, and completely plant-based.  No matter what your food philosophy or restrictions - vegetarian, vegan, freegan, omnivore, carnivore, soy-free, gluten-free - if you have the chance to eat at Plum Bistro, it's fantastic! 

We stayed at the City Hostel Seattle, which is perfectly located in the Belltown neighborhood within easy walking distance of the Seattle Center, and close to a number of bus lines.  The staff were friendly, the accommodations clean (which is good, because I forgot my shower flip flops), and we met some fascinating travelers from around the world.  The Hostel offers options for a range of prices and group sizes, and was a very affordable way to spend a few nights in the city.

For breakfast, we checked out The Crumpet Shop.  I never considered the fact that crumpets are an actual food, instead of simply a line in an old nursery rhyme.  And these crumpets (and cappuccino) were delicious, especially while enjoyed at Pike's Market overlooking the water.  We spent the morning wandering the market, and stocked up on tea and spices at MarketSpice.  Their Knockout Tea is amazing!

Good food, hot coffee, marine air, and best of all, live music: Josh Groban (and the guy playing the accordion).  He (now we're talking Josh) is incredible live.  (And funny.  And gracious.  Swoon).  Judith Hill was the opening act, and also sang with Josh in a few duets - she has an amazing set of pipes, and Christian Hebel was incredible on the violin.  I love me some Pandora and belting out tunes in the shower, but nothing replaces the rejuvenating power of live music, does it?

I guess chocolate comes close.  These Chocolate Truffle Cookies from Dahlia Bakery were voted "Best Cookie in Seattle" (I read that somewhere before we visited, but can't seem to find the "source" now), and they deserve the title.  Perfect snack for the train ride back.  Or right now.  Hmm.

Even though the weekend sojourn made me question my decision to move to Portland instead of Seattle, I remember coming back and thinking that it was good to be home.  And that was the first time I ever thought of Portland as home.  Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'm going to try out the rejuvenating power of chocolate...