I've been in Minnesota for a few days now, and I've been keeping myself pretty busy. I'm getting back into the swing of people being friendly and nice, talking to strangers, cars letting you merge easily on the freeway, and ordering pop instead of soda. I found out Minnesota has a service called "highway helpers" which consists of people that just drive around with all the tools you need to fix flats or other car problems and help anyone that breaks down. Very nice.
Highlights so far include spending a few nights hanging out with Paul, Mike, Doug, and other friends that live in Minneapolis and enjoying the city. If you haven't been to Minneapolis/St. Paul before, it's actually pretty awesome, and there is a lot to do. On Friday night we discovered (well, I discovered, Paul already knew about) a great late-night bar/restaurant in Dinkytown called Burrito Loco which is kind of like a Chipotle that also sells beer and margaritas and has pool and darts.
On Saturday, Jeff, my mom and I went on a tour of the I-35W bridge construction project. The old bridge collapsed about a year ago - it was a huge disaster and made national news. They still aren't sure why it collapsed. They're projecting to have the new bridge done by this winter, which is extremely fast for such a huge bridge. We went and saw how everything was being done, which was pretty interesting.It made me think back to when I had to learn about concrete while studying at Cambridge - lots of testing and stess/strain diagrams. Probably should have paid more attention, but at the time Iwas pretty annoyed and was having a hard time understanding why concrete was a major subject in my aerospace engineering education.
On Sunday, my brother came over with his new puppy, Hazel, a tiny pug. She is adorable and really sweet. Jeff and I will be watching her while my brother is out of town later next week, and we're pretty excited.I spent one whole day since I've been back trying to clean out my room. For some reason, my parents have finally decided that I don't need 20 boxes of "keepsakes" stored at my house, and that some of it should be sorted through. I found many fun, old things, including some middle school art-work - almost all of which was somehow related to Star Trek. It's as if I never got tired of drawing, sculpting, or machining things in the shape of a communicator. Good thing I escaped that phase... or at least got better at hiding it. ;)
I also found two old newspapers from the moon landing, which are pretty cool, and a backpack that I got in India. I'm thinking the backpack is pretty old, since on the top it reads "We are proud to bring the empire prosperity all over the world." Hmm....With this summer free-time, I've been reading for fun again, which I love. Adam lent me a book called "Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire" which is pretty interesting. One thing is that it had a really long introduction (like 40 pages!) so for a long time I was reading without making progress, since after reading for an hour I hadn't even started the first chapter. But now I'm finished with the intro and started on the actual book. The premise is that America is an empire and that things would go better for us (and the world) if we would admit that we're playing that role. I'm sure I'll write more about it as I get farther into it.