The big update: Röyksopp, Indycars in Long Beach, and is taking 4 courses really a good idea?

I will admit to having neglected this blog for a few weeks. Things have been very busy indeed here! I’ve done things that I’d previously only dreamt of doing. Now, while I watch my Vancouver Canucks in Game 6 of their Stanley Cup series against the Chicago Blackhawks on Versus, I’ll bring things up to date.

Take last weekend. I fulfilled a lifelong dream by going to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Since so much happened, I will be necessarily brief and try to not be too boring.

I’ve followed the Indycar Series for nearly 10 years, and become a great fan of many of the drivers. Thus, I was over the moon to meet nearly all my heroes. I had a great chat with Edinburgh’s own 2-time Indy 500 winner and 3-time Indycar champ, Dario Franchitti. I also had good discussions with Graham Rahal, Charlie Kimbal, James Hinchcliffe, Scott Sharp and Oriol Servia. I got pictures of myself with my favourite racing drivers, Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, Cristiano da Matta, (The Canucks just scored!!!) Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon and Guy Smith. I also met 3-time Indy 500 winner, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Justin Wilson, Ana Beatriz, Tony Kanaan, Simona de Silvestro, (Chicago have a penalty shot…damn! They scored. It’s back to 3-3.) Katherine Legge, JR Hildebrand, Luis Diaz, Bruno Junquiera, Paul Gentilozzi, Chris Dyson, Jan Magnussen, Oliver Gavin, Oliver Beretta, Jerome Bleekemolen, Saacha Maasson, Takuma Sato and Lucas Luhr.

The racing action was terrific. I stood at the last corner for the ALMS race late on Saturday afternoon, and there was plenty of action in the gorgeous late afternoon sunshine. The weather all weekend was fantastic, with temperatures in high 80s/low 90s all weekend. I spent most of the track time on Friday and Saturday taking lots of good pictures and come Sunday, the race was not a disappointment. It was a first win for the Brit Mike Conway, and there was plenty of overtaking and other action at turn 1, where I sat. In conclusion, it was without a doubt one of the best weekends of my life. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to meet all my heroes.

Three and a half weeks ago, I went to LA on a Tuesday night to see my favourite band, Röyksopp, in concert. They were terrific. They are also great showmen, which makes their concerts so entertaining. The concert was at The Wiltern in LA’s Koreatown, and it was a theatre that was full of character. My plan was to get the Greyhound Bus back…a good plan in theory. After a scary walk through East LA wearing my San Antonio Spurs (don’t ask what I was thinking!) I was at the Greyhound depot at 1:30am, plenty of time before my bus at 2:30. I was waiting by our door, having got fed up of the Spanish show on TV, and 2:30 came and went with no bus. 3am came and went with no bus. 3:30 came and went with no bus. All the announcements over the intercom were in Spanish. Only Spanish. Seems you need a pre-requisite of speaking Spanish to travel Greyhound. I went to ask someone, but they spoke no English to I just went back to stand quietly and patiently. The bus eventually came just before 4. I had a nice sleep for an hour and a half or so, and work up just as the bus pulled in into the depot in downtown San Diego. (This was lucky, as I found out afterwards that the next destination for the bus was Tijuana. It goes without saying, I didn’t want to go to Mexico, and so I woke up at just the right time!)

Now, as for life at UCSD. The weather, apart from my weekend in Long Beach, has been fairly naff of late. In fact, the weather back home would easily trump anything we’ve had. It’s been in the 60s without fail, and there has been an almost constant cloud cover. San Diego isn’t quite so pretty in April. Today was possibly the coldest day I’ve had in America since I arrived in September. I contemplated for a moment wearing a coat. That’s saying a lot.

I decided to take 4 courses this quarter, and this kept me incredibly busy. It didn’t help that the design course I’m taking is very time consuming. I was taking MAE 180A, Spacecraft Mission Analysis, because I thought it would be fun. However, it became very clear by the end of last week that it was going to be completely pointless for me. Most of the classes (from 7-8:30pm) were spent discussing different types of orbits, and all these different astronomical terms. I’m never going to work for NASA, and I was losing the will to do the homework considering that it wasn’t important compared to my other subjects. As a result, after much deliberation, on last Friday (end of Week 4) I dropped the class. It was the last opportunity to drop it that I had to drop it. Now I’m back to doing just 3 classes, which is more manageable with all the very time consuming homework I have to do this quarter.

Easter isn’t celebrated very much at all here, which I am finding a bit odd. We don’t get Good Friday or Easter Monday off, and the stores aren’t filled with lots of Easter goodies. In fact, I’d go so far to suggest that St. Patricks Day is more of a big deal than Easter here, which is very strange! (Vancouver just hit the post, another inch to the left and the puck was in!) (It’s going to overtime. Great!)

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