Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Graduate School Tour Day 2 - Crash and UCSB

        Well, Tuesday started off with a bang - literally.  I got up real early and walked/pushed through the wind blasting the gated community Audra's mom lived in.  Got to my rental car and, following Audra's written directions, easily made it to the highway heading towards L.A.  Traffic started to quickly build up, even at 5:30am, and I found myself in bumper to bumper traffic for a few miles.  Well, I didn't make it a few miles, I slammed into the back of a huge yellow Dodge Ram.  I saw my hood bend up slightly but the airbag didn't go off so it was very minor.  We both pulled over and looked at our cars.  His truck was perfectly fine while the grill on my Ford Focus was bashed in a bit.  I pulled on the hood and it seemed secure so after I gave him my info we both parted ways.  He was a very nice Mexican dude and shook my hand.  So.... as I'm driving down the road I decide to call my Progressive agent after an hour or so to report my accident claim.  As I'm describing the accident to him and the damage to the car he finally asked me, "So is that all the Cimg1791 drive with a smashed hood in the winds... ooops.  But I had to make it to Santa Barbara by 10am for my appointments!!! What was I to do?  I slammed the hood down on the car and slowly drove down the road to a grocery store where I asked a clerk for help finding some material to tie down the hood.   A kid came out of the store with what looked like floss so I knew I would need something else stronger.  I looked around briefly then found a spare car cellphone charger cord which I then stretched out and damage?"..... WHAM!, the hood flies up and smashes the windshield and top of the car so bad it knocked the overhead light into my forehead.  So, at this point, I'm driving with one hand, on the cellphone with the Progressive Agent while trying to drive looking through a 4inch gap underneath the hood now plastered to my windshield.  I simply said into the phone, "oh yeah, the windshield is cracked too... and hung up".  I pulled over to a gas station and several nice people came out and asked what happened.  I told them it was probably from the accident I got into an hour ago! haha.  The day before there was 70mph winds knocking over 16-wheelers so probably should have known not to drive with a smashed hood.  I slammed the hood down and slowly drove down the road to a grocery store where I asked a warehouse clerk to help me find something to tie down my hood.  He returned after a few minutes with string that looked like floss so I knew it was up to me to find something.  I searched around my car until I found a spare car cell phone charger.  I stretched it out and tied it around the bumper and then through a hole in the hood cutting my hands up on the sheared metal in the process.  Well, it worked, and I drove the next 2 hours looking through a keliedescope window all the way to UC Santa Barbara.  When I got to campus I pulled over to look at a map.  A campus security cop came up to me to ask if I was alright after seeing the car.  I told her I was fine and that I was returning the car to the airport down the road after my interviews at the school.  She gave me a better map and told me a parking garage I could park in.
        UC Santa Barbara was absolutely amazing.  The school has a man-made lagoon built into it and is right on the coast.  There is a mile long beach with 40 foot cliffs that comprises the seaward bCimg1807oarder of the campus.  The school was rated the most fit university in the nation - probably due to giant network of bike trails built into the campus.  If you didn't watch your step you would literally get run down by bikers.  While I was there I even heard over an intercom that there had been a biker pile up!  All the bikes were the old school style california cruisers.  With 70 degree weather everyone was in shorts and t-shirts riding around.  The campus had beautiful exotic trees all oveCimg1793r it such as eucaliptus trees and palms.  The school held over 20,000 students of which 3,000 were graduate students.  Between interviews I walked the perimeter of the campus around the lagoon and out to the cliffs and beaches.  It was basically my dream campus.  Beautiful 8,000 foot mountains in the background and palm trees and beaches everywhere.  I'm not sure if I would be able to get any work done if Cimg1821accepted to UCSB!  Before my appointments I ate breakfast at a campus cafe.  The professors I met with were all very nice although I got the feelinCimg1829g that there was a serious lack of funding to take on new students in the tectonics group there.  Apparently NSF (National Science Foundation) has been skimpy on funding because of our stupid government and this needless war in Iraq.  I had a wonderful tour of the campus by a very californian kid who was doing his senior project on waterless toilets.... I broke off from the tour before it got to the undergraduate housing. 
        All the faculty were very nice to me and happy to talk about their research except for the one person who I thought would be the kindest to me, professor Tanya Atwater.  What a cocky... hold on.. I wrote all this down after meeting her.... ok... What a cocky, self-absorbed, inconsiderate, unkind, cruel woman who apparently finds enjoyment pointing out peoples faults and mistakes.  I walked in to her office thinking she was a kind woman who loved to teach and had a real passion for education and her field.  I left her office thinking that she was the cruelest person I've met in years.  When I first heard about UCSB it was past the deadline and I wrote a panicked letter to faculty and advisors there asking if I could still apply.  I was scared and it was 3am after many hours of work applying to schools.  I must have put down UC Santa Cruz once in the letter and I apparently didn't take time to watch my paragraphs because I was panicked and scared.  Well, she took the time to point out all my mistakes and even felt it was necessary to state that it negatively effected my application.  I countered by saying that I was simply scared and that I have put in a lot of work and that I am ambitious and driven to achieve my goals.  She replied, "it helps to be smart to."  What the hell does she think she's implying... that I'm stupid... She had a really cocky attitude stating that she has the luxury to do anything she wants... Even if she has accomplished a bit in her field, going through life as a cruel heartless woman will not get her far or gain her any happiness.  She said I could have just waited a year, but she doesn't know my family background, my financial background, or my ambition.  She made me feel like shit that day and I think she enjoyed doing it.  Well, all I have to say Dr. Atwater is this: Screw you and your cocky, heartless personality.  I'll make a name for myself in my field and I will do it in such a manner that I will be respected as well as LIKED by my colleagues.  I would really like to call her 7 years from now and tell her how much she hurt me when I was at my most desperate time. 
        Cimg1832The most promising possibility at UCSB is working with Professor MacDonald and his wife Rachel Haymon on data they just collected on a Galapagos Island Cruise.  I plan to stay in touch with them and talk to them over the phone so they will know how interested I am. 
        I returned the smashed Ford Focus to the airport in Santa Barbara and picked up a dark blue Chevy Cobalt coup.  I snapped a couple pictures of my wrecked car and then drove north into the night, stopping at a Burger King in Lompac, CA for some dinner.  I drove till about 10pm and pulled over at a Motel 6 in San Simeon, CA for $43.  I now had two days of scenic driving up the California route 1 Pacific Coast highway to look forward to.   


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