A Road Trip, Day Two

AKA “What the hell have I been doing?”

College! MIT! Adult things! (not really adult things.)

So a lot of things happened and again, instead of saying it all in a jumbled mess I’m going to try and structure this in a series of interval blog posts. The road trip is rather distant from my vivid memory now so it might be harder to conjure up the most detailed memories, but I do have a lot of pretty pictures for sure.

Leg 2: Grand Canyon West Rim > Las Vegas, Nevada

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We didn’t do much at Las Vegas, especially since I’m not 21 yet, so Las Vegas was pretty much just a fun place to stop that was near Hoover Dam. I watched Mystère by Cirque du Soleil here and ate my fair share of very delicious food. I can’t wait to go back in a couple years and get the full experience for myself.

Leg 3: Las Vegas > Hoover Dam

So Hoover Dam was actually a huge pain in the ass to build, and the project was one of the most impressive feats of American engineering at the time. There were a lot of intermediate steps involved, including building gigantic tunnels to divert the entire freaking Colorado River, making intermediary tunnels, and creating an artificial lake. TL;DR:

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The lake on the right is man-made, and it’s called Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake in the United States. You’d think that it’s a pretty boring lake, but it’s actually very beautiful!

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They even had a burger place floating on the lake that was 8/10.

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As for the dam itself, well… I’ll close out this blog post with that.

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hoover2

hoover1

 

 

Various Pet Names for Cacti

So at the hotel I stayed at from August 5-6, there was a courtyard area with a cactus garden. Yep, only in Arizona. (Okay, probably not just Arizona.) At the same time of this realization, I was trying to toy around with every single mode on my DSLR in clockwise order from the dial on the top, and the ‘close-up’ mode just so happened to be next on the list. So I played around with some settings, and…

golden barrel
Echinocactus grusonii, ‘Golden Barrel Cactus’
whisker
Pachycereus schottii, ‘Whisker Cactus’
indian fig
Opuntia _____, ‘Prickly Pear Cactus’

I have no idea what the exact species of the above cactus is. If anyone specializes in cactus nomenclature, now is your time to shine.

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Carnegiea gigantea, the famous ‘Saguaro Cactus’

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The above close-up is part of a monster cactus, which is apparent when zoomed out all the way.

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Cereus peruvianus, ‘Curiosity Plant’

Unfortunately that is all I can give you regarding the fascinating cactus family of plants for now. Maybe I’ll stumble upon another cactus garden soon?

A Road Trip, Day One

Yesterday (well, since I’m writing this post a little past midnight I should say two days ago) I landed in Pheonix, Arizona and the following morning my family (3) plus my mom’s friend and her two sons (+3=6) went on the first leg of our road trip across the Southwestern United States.

Leg 1 | August 6, 2016: Pheonix, Arizona > Grand Canyon West Rim

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Route 93

The car ride that should have taken four hours took more like six hours because of some stops along the way for lunch and supplies. Eventually, around four in the afternoon, we finally saw some semblance of the Grand Canyon (although it wasn’t yet).

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Finally, after a lot of twists and turns, we got there. The six of us paid a total of around $400 for entry, we boarded a bus, went on the skywalk (where we weren’t allowed to bring our cameras), got our photos taken very haphazardly by a “pro,” got our pictures back and all of them were shit, and walked out of the skywalk with quizzical, slightly disappointed looks on our faces. But the views were amazing. Off to the side were places where you could take some more daring photos, if you were brave enough to risk not falling off the cliffs to a painful death.

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The clouds overhead were pretty and gave a unique feel to these shots that I’m sure were taken thousands of times from these exact angles every year.

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The view was exhilarating. I wanted so desperately to be one of the black crows (more on that later) and just fly out into the natural sculpture of meandering river and be free. I wanted to be as close to the ledge as possible without actually being stupid, which prompted the following shot:

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I’ll end this post here and start a new one because I don’t want to make these too long, but coming up: hunting for some crows and random close-ups of cacti.

PHOTOGRAPHY IS FUN!!

 

 

First pictures

So previously I mentioned I got a new camera. I took a couple pictures at the train station (and one bonus picture in the city) and just toyed around a little bit.

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Next to learn: what are all these fancy settings in my DSLR like aperture and shutter. how to manual. also long exposure photos seem really pretty and i want to try that sometime. also what the hell is post processing

I am a double agent (kind of)

Subtitle: I have so many things I want to do with my life and there’s no time to do any of them in time because I’m leaving for college in less than a month.

Why the title? I’ve been looking for a good proofwriting course that is pretty easy to get into so that I could have an easier time learning some higher-level math courses if the time comes. That search is finally over thanks to many of my friends that decided to go to Caltech instead of MIT (I will miss them so much and it makes me a little sad every time I think about it). Caltech’s curriculum is theoretical from the start, and it shows since they have an into math class that freshmen can take over the summer called Math 0.

The full class apparently comes equipped with video lectures and the ability to send assignments to graders that give super helpful, detailed replies and annotations. But I was only able to get my hands on the PDF notes and problems, which honestly is more than enough seeing as I’m having a lot of fun figuring out the problems on my own and I’m halfway done. If anyone’s interested in the PDFs, Caltech or some administration would probably shoot me, so just give me a private message or email me (found in my About page).

So another thing that I’ve really put off but I really want to do is review 18.02, something I touched on last blog post. Denis Auroux is honestly such a wonderful human being and I love listening to his lectures and his amazing accent and his perfect handwriting and speed-erasing. I’m really sad he’s not at MIT anymore (he teaches at Berkeley now). ASEing out of 18.02, a.k.a. getting full credit for it after passing an equivalent final exam, would mean I could pursue math a semester early like differential equations or linear algebra instead of reviewing what I already know (or maybe even take an introductory engineering course or other elective). I’ve gone through most of 18.02’s material once, and I took a course on the differential half of multivariable calculus last summer, so I’m hoping I can just pass by winging it at this point.

Other weird things that I committed myself to:  a real estate salesperson license. It shouldn’t be that hard, just a lot of time to learn the material so I can pass the exam. And I have to slog through a 75 hour timed course online before I take that. The good thing is I technically have until December until the online course times out, so I’ll be doing that when I have truly reached the pinnacle of boredom.

Speaking of boredom, some other goals and activities I’ve been trying to do when I have free time this summer: get a 99 on Oldschool. I have no idea why I started playing again (I checked in-game that I first made my account over ten years ago) but one thing led to another and me and three other school friends memed our way back into Gielinor. I’m talking we would Skype almost all day for a period of several weeks just grinding out the early game, fueled by our desire to simply keep up with each other. Now there is much less unity, but me and my very close friend still play from time to time. Since I’m at 87 fletching right now and it’s profitable (if only by a small amount) to fletch magic longbows until 99, I’m just going to string those anytime I have a few minutes of free time. Those minutes add up.

Another videogame-related activity that I seem to have lost all desire for: League. The only time I play is usually very late at night if friends are on. When I get to college, I’m assuming that I will get my ass handed to me with all the coursework, so that coupled with the fact that the game doesn’t really appeal to me much anymore means that I’ve weaned myself off pretty effectively. It’s still fun to watch LCS, though, don’t get me wrong. (Congrats to Doublelift for getting 1000 season kills!)

And finally, I got a DSLR. My first one, actually; it’s the Canon Rebel T6i. I literally just got it and haven’t even read the manual yet, and I’ve just taken a couple practice shots, but I feel like I’m already starting to fall in love. That coupled with two new whiteboards that I bought (a smaller one for my house and a huge one for my dorm room) would probably make for a revitalization in Youtube videos.

And I also want to learn Java further, but at this point when I finally get to doing that I’ll probably be learning it for my major anyway.

THERE’S NEVER ENOUGH TIME.

Okay, I’m going to end this blog post here because I really want to tackle this Math 0 problem: Let a,b\in\textbf{R}. Show that if a+b is rational, then a is irrational or b is rational.