Boston Weekends

Hey readers!

Two posts in one week, because that last one was a tad self-indulgent and also didn’t cover my weekend :P. I’ve had a pretty fun week, starting out with a weekend dimsum trip—I’ve been doing weekend dimsum in Boston’s Chinatown practically every week every summer for four years :). Dimsum is both a style of food and way of distributing that food which originated in Hong Kong—check out the Wikipedia page for more details. This time, I was joined by Emily (a fellow blogger), Genevieve (a first year at Wellesley, and a friend of my sister, Leslie), and Justin (a friend from the Computational and Systems Neuroscience (COSYNE) conference we both attended, who is here working for the summer at the Broad Institute.) It’s so fun how I’ve never had the same combination of people twice :).

Genevieve, Emily (they both headed off to do acrobatic yoga in the park next. Emily, who made this decision, is SO COOL), Justin, and me at the bakery after dimsum :)
Genevieve, Emily (they both headed off to do acrobatic yoga in the park next. Emily, who made this decision, is SO COOL), Justin, and me at the bakery after dimsum 🙂

Saturday, I met up with Patricia, one of the first-years in our lab, to head to Haymarket. I spend most of my days with Patricia, the both of us working silently next to each other—a configuration I’m quite enjoying, especially since I get to replicate it at home with my roommate, Alyssa. Patricia is awesome, and I’m quite jealous of her cooking—while she took home rosemary from Haymarket for her rosemary and sea salt pretzels, I took home approximately a gallon of blueberries to eat by the handful (plus other miscellanea. I swamped the fridge.) Haymarket, by the way, is a market for supermarket-rejects—i.e., really, really cheap fruit and vegetables which are often quite ripe. The long series of stalls opens at dawn on Friday and Saturday and closes at dusk on both days, and Haymarket is a stand-by for me during my numerous summers in Boston :).

Saturday I also met up with Elizabeth, a junior at Wellesley, to “walk around.” I ended up walking around that day for definitely more than seven miles, and had to spend the next day recovering from the subsequent mild sunstroke :). (My endurance needs work. I was fine previous summers!) It was totally worth it—almost by accident, Elizabeth and I started out at MIT, walked at a pretty fast clip to Hynes Convention Center, realized that was where the Pride Parade started, and ended up catching up to the front of the parade almost at Park Street—meaning, we walked the entire physical path of the parade, and also walked it from the end to the beginning in terms of people :). At the end of the parade, we ended up in the area in front of City Hall, which always has a bunch of stalls from various groups as well as a concert going on all day. I found out that Elizabeth is particularly good at working the stalls—we ended up with so much swag, from sparkly necklaces to frisbees. I’m particularly pleased with my rainbow stress-ball brain—it will accompany the purple stress-ball brain I retrieved at the Society for Neuroscience Conference this fall!

Pride is also an event I think I’ve attended the last four years, mostly, again, by accident, since I’m usually over in that area for dimsum or Haymarket when the parade starts coming through. This is the most involved I’ve been with it, and I had a fabulous time. There was SO MUCH ENERGY and happiness and people—it felt like walking the Boston Marathon path, just for how excited and joyful the environment was, for how many people came out to show their support. It made me feel so happy to be human.

a02 a03  a04 a05  a09 a08 a13 a14 a19 a20 a12 a07 a11 a18 a17 a10 a22 a23 a16 a15 a21

Elizabeth and me, successfully at the front of the parade :)
Elizabeth and me, successfully at the front of the parade :). I also love how many people liked this on Facebook– so much support :).

I also napped over the weekend and did some work, plus hung out with Alyssa while we watched movies and argued over the proper amount of salt to put in popcorn. And worked out some more, too, since if you’re going to have some mild dehydration, might as well make a workout out of it. Summer—where there’s time to do this, or read a book, or talk—is a wonderful time, and I’ll miss it after this.

That’s about it for my weekend, though I watched some pretty great movies in looking up things related to the first-year seminar Prof. Hildreth and I are putting together. Did you know that DARPA runs a robotics competition every year? This year it was for untethered robots who could operate in a nuclear disaster area—meaning, groups mostly in the US, but internationally as well, were developing these 7-foot-tall robots that could walk over uneven terrain, open doorknobs, and climb up stairs. During my Machine Learning class, one of the leaders of the MIT team came to tell us about some of the work they were doing (hint: it was very complicated and I can’t explain it to you. Also, he encouraged everyone in the class to join a robotics lab on campus, which was huh-this-just-occurred-to-me-funny to me, because these MIT students really were the people who would probably ending up being the leaders for this stuff in the future :)). But, though there are many fears about artificial intelligence and machine learning in the popular press (I’ve been reading about a lot of them), we’ve got a LONG way to go :). I highly recommend the Youtube movie of the DARPA robots falling over when trying to walk, or open a door, or, uh, stand—the whole experience is so human, in many ways :). (My favorite one is when the robot misses the red handle and then tips. Also, I enjoyed this humorous article covering the competition that happily throws in some feminism.)

That’s about it for this week—twitter post is:

#policygoalforlife Am I nerdy enough for this?

Because Alyssa was showing me bio jokes on pinterest and I didn’t have enough background for it, which was very demoralizing :). However, I did get the humor in the performance given by Tomer Ullman, postdoc at MIT, at the 2013 BAHFest, the Bad Ad-Hoc Hypothesis Festival. I had to look this up, but “ad-hoc hypothesis” means that you add exceptions to a hypothesis to avoid having to create a new one. And the BAHFest is a festival in which scientists present well-researched, well-supported, well-presented but blatantly false evolutionary theories and compete to see which one is the best. What amused me the most was how amused the audience was—I cannot even imagine how they got this many people into the audience all roaring with laughter :). I also couldn’t help giggling along in a lot of places, since I took a class with Prof. Tenenbaum, Dr. Ullman’s advisor (who they also zoom in on in the audience in the beginning) and I recognize a lot of these principles and (very mild) jokes from him :).

Until next week, and thanks for reading :). Questions and comments welcome as always! (Man, it’s been a while since I said that.)

Monica

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