Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fun times in Seattle

Not sleepless, though. Seriously, my hotel bed was the most comfortable thing ever. Slept like a baby. I think I've figure out my sleep problems: stop sleeping in beds that are older than I am.

Anyway, Seattle and the University of Washington was a lot of fun. The whole time I was there it was sunny and in the 50s, which felt balmy after coming from below freezing weather. On the downside, apparently people in Seattle are so used to their gloom and rain that they have no idea how to drive when it's sunny out. Seriously, the traffic was absolutely horrible. The Olympics, Bon Jovi concert, and Yo-yo National Tournament may have also had an affect (you know people love their yo-yos).

But that didn't stop me from going on an adventure. One of my readers, Jaki, picked me up so I didn't have to battle the traffic on public transportation. She sounded sweet enough on the phone that I felt my odds were good that she wasn't going to turn out to be an axe murderer. We made our way over to the Pacific Science Center and met up with two more of my readers, Jason and Jerry (it was a J-name party!).

I had a lot of fun. Probably way too much fun than anyone over the age of 10 is intended to have in this place. We went to the dinosaur exhibit first, which had a bunch of animatronic dinosaurs. I hate to say it, but they looked crummy compared to the quality of the brand new Creation Museum, which made me said. But then I was happy when I read all of the information and played the games that were actually teaching good science and not a bunch of make believe.
Where are the human animatronics? I'm so confused. This isn't what I learned at the Creation Museum...

My favorite part of the museum was the big section on genetics. I love science museums like this because it's full of hilarious silly games, like this one where you're a European corn borer and you're trying to destroy as much corn as possible. Hellz yes. It may be corny (ha), but it cracks me up. How many games do you get to play as a European corn borer?!
It's also full of bad puns. What's not to love?
They also had a new exhibit on what it would be like being an astronaut going to Mars.
Some nice subtle product placement there, Microsoft. Apparently now we don't just have to worry about them taking over the world - now we have to worry about Mars too!

It was pretty neat. They had stuff ranging from gloves that simulated the pressure of space, a low-gravity harness simulator, genetically modified plants. They also asked "Who should go to Mars?" with the makings of a reality TV show:
I swear to god I did not do this. Some bored dad was laughing at his creation when I stumbled upon it.

After we had enough of the center, we went and had a nice dinner nearby. It was a ton of fun hanging out with everyone! Unfortunately we didn't get to hang out at the pub too long, since a bunch of people were waiting for tables, but I pretty much fell straight asleep when I got back to my hotel anyway. Body was definitely still on Eastern time.
The next couple of days were devoted to my UW interviews. I was with a group of 16 students, and apparently another 16 had come two weeks before. We were showed around the city, got to see some apartments, met a lot of graduate students, and interviewed with professors. I thought their program was wonderful, and I'm still amazed by the high throughput sequencing resources they had. And today I got an email from one professor that I interviewed with that I was officially accepted, yay!

It's definitely going to be a hard decision. I like UW just as much as Harvard, but for different things. I think I'm going to have to visit Stanford next week, let everything soak in for a bit, and then try to make a decision. Because right now I have no idea what I'd do!


  1. So wait, have you heard back from Harvard yet?

    I go back and forth between being in awe of the Ivy League prestige. Stanford is pseudo-Ivy League, but ultimately its going to depend on the work you do and the effort you put into your education

  2. Harvard is theoretically making their official decision sometime this week. I should know soon.

  3. The driving thing....doesn't really matter what the weather is like. Bad driving in all conditions.

    But seriously, if it snows or ices up.....just stay home. Don't even think of getting on the street. The sidewalk is hazardous, even.

  4. Argh, such envy. I'm originally from Milwaukee, which has an amazing natural history museum. But in my current lowly residence of Tulsa, there's a woefully tiny science museum. We have lots of great performing arts and culture, but the science end of it leaves something to be desired.

  5. Looks like your mindset channels itself into poor unwitting bored dads with chilling accuracy, there. ;-) Shame the Museum’s animatronics were crud compared to the Creation “Museum”, though. That’s almost a farce in and of itself.

    Also: Jaki is proof that women need not have long hair to look awesome. Just sayin’.

  6. Well, if you were staying in a hotel, and laying on a bed that was older than you are, I don't blame you for not being able to sleep. On top of being uncomfortable, they don't change the bedspreads every day, just the sheets. Who knows what kinda nasty stuff has happened on that bed. Especially considering they probably serve porn to the rooms too.

    Could have been sleeping in some spunk someone left as he was shooting for distance.

  7. Thank you very much Joé. :)

    It's mainly sad because the Pacific Science Center just doesn't have the money and cash flow that the Creation 'Museum' has.

  8. Awesome that you got to hang out and stuff. Reminds me that it's near the top of the month, which means I'll be able to snag pub food myself, soon. <.<

    I am with the man's dream of an all-female naked mission to Mars. It will definitely save on mass and water usage. But this is only if planetary suits don't count. Streaking out of the airlock, I think, counts as CRITICAL MISSION FAILURE.

  9. The Mars thing reminds me of Space City in Toulouse, which all readers are urged to visit. They have the genuine Mir training mock-up from Cosmograd or wherever, and IMAX movies from the ISS. They had an interactive game thingy about choosing crews, but I couldn't get much sense out of it, any more than from the orbital-mechanics; many of these exhibits don't seem to work properly. Unless it's me. But the Mir is worth the ticket all by itself.

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  11. My gf used to date a guy in Seattle. She loves it there, but she also complained about the drivers. :P

  12. Awesome - It looks like you had a blast in Seattle! I've never been thrilled with the idea of the rain and clouds for the majority of the year - but I've always heard the cultural scene makes up for the crummy weather. I definately want to visit that museum - fun! Dream job - I need to find some backers that will pay me to travel to every science museum in the country - hell, in the world! - and then to write a review book. Oh and yeah, and that whole grad school thing sounds pretty exciting too ;)

  13. Some years ago I was on an advisory board for Adobe while they were designing InDesign and went to Seattle maybe a dozen times. I'd get a taxi from the airport and the driver would casually mention how it rained cats and dogs last week and (after he knew how long I was staying) that it was expected to rain hippos and alligators the day after I was going to leave, and all the while the Sun would shine on in the blue sky, rather like your trip.
    From my personal experience I can assure you IT NEVER RAINS IN SEATTLE!
    All that stuff about the weather seems to be one of those conspiracy things to keep the place from getting overcrowded.

  14. For the record - those of us in Seattle cannot drive in the following conditions:

    1. Rain
    2. Sun
    3. Snow
    4. Partly cloudy
    5. Partly sunny
    6. When the Blue Angels fly overhead
    7. When there are fireworks
    8. When it's dark

    Just for future reference ;)

  15. I went to UW for undergrad then to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland for a PhD. I didn't really appreciate until I left how fantastic UW is. In the biological sciences UW is a close second to Harvard, and even over here in Europe, saying you went to UW gets noticed. So the prestige is not a whole lot less, but boy do I prefer the culture in the pacific northwest. Outdoorsy and pretty godless. I think you will like the only newspaper left in Seattle - the Stranger.

  16. The 'Stand back, I'm going to try Science' shirt really seems to be popular among atheists. Sounds like fun was had and congratulations on getting accepted!

  17. Be fair, the people who made the Pacific Science Center paid their taxes, they didn't have the same type of funding available to make their museum.