Saturday, October 24, 2015

Big C hike and brunch at Wat Mongkolratanaram

I caught up with a friend today. JZ, a first year graduate student at UCSD, visited Berkeley this past weekend for a conference, and wanted to get food with me like old times. In anticipation for the meal at the local gem Wat Mongkolratanaram, we hiked up the hills behind campus to the Big C.

In spring semester freshman and fall semester sophomore year, we had classes that preceded a meal together (breakfast and lunch, respectively) and got into the habit of shooting the breeze and whinging about school, the future, and impostor syndrome.

All of this, of course, said with the backdrop of the Berkeley hills, which look their best in a chilly morning mist or at dusk. Looking eastwards, you can nearly see to the UC Botanical Garden, a favorite place of mine. All of this land technically does belong to the university, but is Lawrence Berkeley National Lab property, I believe. Even so, I call it campus.
A clearing in the trees. There are two ways up the hill to the Big C and this one is the less 'strenuous' one. You can carry a conversation on this route, no problem.

The turkeys were out and about this morning and I caught them in a nice formation. Nowadays, I don't see a whole lot of turkeys on campus, but they often go downhill during the summer. Many of these guys have a tassel on their chests -- perhaps they are tagged for some kind of research?

Turkeys yet again. Hike the Big C and you're almost guaranteed to see them.

We made it to the Big C! A fairly good view of the UC Berkeley campus, with Sather Tower, the Campanile, close to the center. On a clear day, you can see the Dumbarton, the San Mateo, the Bay, and Golden Gate Bridges in one sweep. Not so today, but still some blue skies ahead.

The morning grey was dispersing by the time we headed downhill. The same flock of turkeys resumes its foraging. After making it downhill, JZ and I walked to the BART station and took the train one stop south to Ashby station. The temple is a quick (~5 minute) walk from the station in a residential neighborhood by a park and a library.

Yelp will describe Thai Temple (what I've mostly heard it called) better than I can. It is a Buddhist temple and a Thai cultural center that opens its backyard to hungry locals on Sundays for probably the best cookout I've had in a long time. Pay real American dollars for donation tokens (which can be traded back for $, and $1 = 1 token), which can be used to purchase food. My two-curry and rice plate cost 7 tokens, and it was substantial enough for two meals. I brought a plastic container anticipating leftovers.

The curries that I had: a chicken yellow curry and beef red curry, the latter of which I will probably dream about until I return to Thai Temple. JZ and I ate voraciously and stared at the food that everyone else (communal seating, of course) and I've decided that I will need to try whatever the beef noodle soup is when I return. Other dishes: mango rice, rolls, papaya salad, pad thai, etc. I think the best way to go about eating here is to go with a few friends, each buy a different meal, and share.

Even so, I'm still going to eat the basic UCB student pad thai from Thai Basil. Nothing's changing. Afterwards, we walked through a flea market and decided that the whole experience was very uniquely Berkeley, CA.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Boston, Part I

I'd never been to Boston. I'm sure I only saw a small subsection of this great city, but I was enchanted by the parts through which I walked. I spent two days in the city, around eight hours of which were spent on an interview, and did not get to see nearly enough of it.

I took a shuttle from Logan International Airport to the Hynes Convention Center in Back Bay. Observations: the trees are different, the buildings are old, and there sure are a lot of bricks. My plan of the day was to get some coffee, get some food, and sit around by the Charles River before walking to MIT to meet a friend, JC. This route took me through Back Bay, which was a serious wonderland of the most picture perfect Victorian brownstones.

Back Bay did not seem real. Of course, probably not representative of all of Boston, but still, it was a wonder to walk through. I was dragging my suitcase (very small, very light) over old road and brick while tired and dehydrated to the point of headache, but I felt pretty motivated by all the beautiful architecture around me.

Back Bay, and all the rest of Boston that I saw, was extremely walkable. If I'd walked that same distance (Hynes Convention Center to MIT: 1.2 miles, according to Google Maps) in Berkeley in my condition, I would be in for a bad time. Boston is flat, Berkeley is not. Anyways...

Crossed the Charles River by way of the Harvard Bridge. Smoot markings were pretty funny to look at. It was damn windy here, but still a great view.

Made it to MIT in one piece, took a nap in the lobby of the Marriott while waiting for JC, who took me on a campus tour. Interesting fact: MIT's buildings are connected to one another! Perfect for avoiding the winter. The computer science building was very quirky and busy, and my favorite since that was where JC bought me a Naked juice, which revived me from my exhaustion. I had wanted to see the shipbuilding exhibit and it was cute, but underwhelming. Original plans were to visit the MIT museum and Harvard, but there was no way I was walking that far.

A gingerbread castle at MIT. JC informed me that it was a dorm.

After touring MIT, I walked back across the Harvard Bridge and west through more of Back Bay to get to Boston University to meet another friend, RN. On my way, I passed by the famous Fenway Park. I took a break to eat some of the baguette and salami I bought in the morning from Trader Joe's.

I sat around at RN's apartment, and she took me around BU campus, which is a narrow strip between 1-2 miles long. We walked the length of it, took the shuttle back to her apartment, where we talked and I ate more of my provisions and napped. It was good to catch up with old friends in a new (for me) city, and though my plans for being touristy and rambling all over Boston were trumped by my lack of energy, I had a wonderful day.

After my nap and dinner (provisions yet again), we went to Whole Foods for her dinner and to find a gift for my med student overnight host (some potted flowers). I took the BU shuttle down to the medical campus, and that was a day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A/W 2015 | Wardrobe Planning

I'm back on musing about clothing again, but the truth is that after the heavy clothing purchases for med school interviews, rampant decluttering of my apartment, and unseasonably warm weather, I have no motivation to seriously add anything to my wardrobe. This post is probably just a placeholder for items that I would ideally possess at some point in the next couple of years.

The caveat is that I did not include any items of cold weather clothing that I may need when I interview in Cleveland (!!!) in a few weeks, or on the East Coast later on (here's hoping). I have no idea what I'll need, but I'll meet that obstacle if I get there.

I'm still very much enamored with the 'Dark Americana' aesthetic from r/malefashionadvice, despite being a year or two late. Is it silly to have brand loyalty to brands I've never owned before? Is it just the Made in America patriotism? It's pretty indulgent.

1. Levi's Commuter Trucker Jacket, black heather - $158 - I was pining after the Uniqlo Ines de la Fressange military blouson, which was around $70 before it went out of stock. Because of the price, I'm probably not going to buy this jacket at all, especially since I've never tried it on. I like my clothes utilitarian, understated, and dark, and this particular jacket is in the good old-fashioned, tried and true Levi's trucker cut. Also, rugged individualism or something like that.

2. Timex Easy Reader and the Waterbury - $40 and $80, respectively - I don't own a watch. My two previous ones were cheapos from China that fell apart pathetically. Aesthetically speaking, the Easy Reader (left) is more subdued, feminine, professional, and affordable. However, the Waterbury has something about it that seems more consistent with my personality. Again, I probably won't buy either of these this season, but planning ahead for next year.

3. Frye Diana Stitch Boot, black nubuck - $160 - saving the best for last. I've been thinking about these boots since July when my current pair of black boots ($20 from H&M) well and truly approached death's door. However, I liked the look of a simple black boot with a low heel and slim profile. Boots are my weakness. Frye is supposedly still very high quality for price when it comes to women's shoes, so I'll place my trust in them there. These ones I will buy for myself, but I'm waiting for a discount (unlikely).