The time leading up to my birthday week has been a lot less stressful this year than it was last year. And I’m happy about that. I realize that an easy, stress-free week around my birthday will not happen every year, but let’s compare last year to this year.
“You’re bloody well right, you got a bloody right to say!” (WARNING: YouTube recently has had long unskippable ads prior to some videos.)
However, though I like this song, as usual, the post has little to do with the actual song. It was just a way to get into the post.
As I mentioned last week, a few of my blog posts in the near future will be about my graduation weekend. (It would have been good to have them more timely-ly, but due to my new style of Full Journaling, I take time to reconstruct it in the post-hoc.)
Friday, June 19, 2015 (PhD Hooding Day)
Just like on May 24, I got up at 05:22. Once again, the sky showed a nice sunrise, and I hope that this time there is no rain. Because it was Friday between 13:00 and 15:00 Israel time, I listened to המסיבה (The Party on Radio Lev Hamedina), but it wasn’t the same as when they used to have it on their Friday evenings. It was fun anyway. Breakfast was simply cherries and water–fruit and energy to make it to Daley Plaza. After equipping my Northwestern bike jersey and spandex shorts, I headed outside, and started riding the Trek. The temperature was a little chilly!
Nonetheless, the bike ride was simple to get down to the Dunkin’ Donuts at Howard and Western. Though the temperature was chilly, I warmed up as a result of the riding for about 3 miles. Very few people were there, but I did get to see Karen and Dave again. Karen was very surprised to see me–but I have no interest in going to all-University commencement at 09:30 this morning. The speaker held no particular interest to me, my family was not in town yet, and there would be no individual recognition.
We left promptly at 06:30 (wow, on an Evanston Bike Club ride!!). The route mostly took us down Western Avenue, at least until we got to Lincoln Square. We got a good light cadence, but partially cheated on a few intersections. I was a lemming, I tell you! This is something of which I am NOT proud. The road was a little chewed up in places, but nobody crashed or had car run-ins. We’re safe riders!
Once just past Lawrence, we curved over to Lincoln Avenue, and took that all the way to Wells Street. There were a lot of red lights, but we managed to fairly easily get through. There was a lot of traffic, but it was not particularly dangerous from what I could tell. I tried chatting with Karen along the way, but since we were single-file, that did not go very well. Anyway, the ride continued to Wells Street and downtown, where we found a new thing: Green Wave for lights if you are traveling at 12 mph on bike. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Perhaps the Green Wave has not been installed yet. At Kinzie, we got to Dearborn, and then to Daley Plaza.
The Southwest (Airlines) Porch was a major attraction, so I entered a contest for round-trip Southwest tickets, and also got a photo in front of a green screen for a postcard (see below). That was pretty neat! I saw a cool bike: the Bike Desk, and some people were walking their bikes around the plaza. I entered a short line and got a bagel and some bottled water. No fruit for me since I don’t like bananas, and those were all that they had. I also opted out of the T-shirt, since I have so many T-shirts already! After this, I went with Karen inside the Daley Center, and we headed to the lower level of the Daley Center in order to use the restroom. We had to go through security. How annoying… taking turns and standing sentry over stuff. (Hey, nice alliteration!)
We both got outside in time for the start of the rally at 08:00. As was usual, they honored various people associated with bike transportation, including Divvy, the Active Transportation Alliance, and the mayor (though he wasn’t there). Bike cops were also honored, and a raffle was done. I didn’t win anything, but I didn’t expect to win anything for only three drawings. That’s fine by me–how would I have gotten ANOTHER bike home?
The ride home was quite chilly, and the wind was against me somewhat intensely. I took Dearborn all the way north to North Avenue (ha), and then circled around a turnaround before finding the underpass to the Lakefront Trail. Though there were several pedestrians and cyclists there, there was no problem with a busy trail. And there was definitely no crash either! However, once I got to Sheridan Road, I noticed a much faster road and travel. The wind tunnel on Sheridan may actually be a windbreak! So I took Sheridan all the way to Evanston, while getting a good cadence of lights. The Evanston lakefront path was next. Past campus, lots of people were predictably in regalia, and the shuttle stops were full of people. I continued to Foster and took a left, returning home.
Then, I checked out Wheel and Sprocket’s website. Good news: I can go right now (10:00) to bring in my Trek for service. After I arrived, I found that the chain must be replaced, and a few other things need to be done as well. It has been a long time since this bike has received service, so it’s overdue. After I turned in the bike, I shifted from bike shoes to flip-flops, and flipped and flopped on the way home… not tripping over anything or over my own feet! Once I got back home, I started moving items from the storage locker upstairs, expecting to be able to load them in the car later today.
Unfortunately, that did NOT happen. They are in Brandon’s car, and barely have enough room for their own luggage, let alone anything I want to take home! (Stay tuned for a further description!) Bummer. After all this schlepping, I took the Forbidden Actions, and until Mom and Dad called/texted, I wrote my journal for Defense Day. This typing continued until 13:15, when Dad texted me. Summarily, I equipped the regalia upon receiving this text, but then, I heard a rap on the door. My big question: HOW did they get in? There are two access points that require the scan of a key fob to unlock the doors or elevators!
Well, Molly and Levi got a glimpse of my dinky room, and a few photos were taken. Then, we all headed in the elevator, and walked toward Hillel. On the Cross Walk, there was of course another picture taken, but after looking at the photo, I don’t LOOK very cross in it! The October photo wins! Shortly thereafter, I arrived at Hillel, and there were already quite a few people there.
The first contact was with Rabbi Aaron, and for the first time, I got to take a picture with him (below)! He seemed to be excited to see my parents, and it was good to introduce him. I also caught Michael Simon, and introduced him to the family. He gave me a positive review, and although it could have been coachspeak, it still made me feel good. Then, I got some crackers and cookies, obviously refraining from the wine and cheese. I should have had some water or pop, though!
I also got to say “see you soon” to several of the students that I have gotten to know over, as Dad got pictures of me with each of them. (I’ll pass on showing these here, but you can see everything on my Facebook page!) These friends, among many other people, I am really going to miss next year. Hillel has been such a good experience for me, and I hope that wherever I am next year, I can still be part of a vibrant Jewish community. It may not be easy, since I may end up in a smaller town or city.
I then walked Mom, Dad, and Levi around the premises, starting in the kitchen. This is where I spent many evenings eating dinner, having great conversations, and on some other times, participating in social events. Ah, yes, and making the infamous-to-Mom Challot for Hunger! Then, we went upstairs, and despite the mechitza already being set, the front of the room, with the Ark in view, made a perfect photo op. It was my first (and last?) photo in this room, and I might as well have a few Hillel photos today since I have almost no photographic proof of all the time I spent there!
Afterward, the lounge was next, and I described my times there for learning sessions, as well as Rabbi Rants/Rambles. And finally, we went to the library, and I pulled out a siddur and Dad took a picture of me as I sang the end of Psalm 98, including the yi-ni-nineteen (below). Had to sing that line at least once more!
The conversations continued with other people, some of whom will be around this summer. I should make an effort to reach out to them–maybe I can meet them for services or for a bike ride at some point! They have been good friends to me, and I still appreciate Iszy’s comment from two weeks ago–that I helped him open his mind to meeting new people!
As I chatted, Mom and Dad were partially listening, and they recommended, “When you are talking about what you will do next, try saying, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing next, but whatever it is, the road is exciting!’” I’ll try that, although I feel that it might be lip service. Do I really have that conviction? I got photos with Cara and the Lichts, as well as Michael, Claire, and the kids. Great day so far, and it’ll only get better!
We exited Hillel (finally, as I could tell with Molly and Brandon), and walked east on Foster. When the crosswalk changed to the walk sign, I also changed into a walk sign (below), because who says that I have to grow up? It’s still fun, and a part of my personality. Dad got two pictures of this. Then, on Sheridan Road, Dad could tell that I was on Cloud Nine, and he related my feelings back to what he experienced during his MIT graduation weekend, and how the same mystique was not there with his UNMC graduation. It must be something about private schools, or else just being away from home and graduating. The skies were also as clear as a bell, for the Weather Congruence to continue. As we approached Tech, a few photos with the “Northwestern Technological Institute” sign occurred, with the parents and Levi. I liked the “power pose” statue one that Levi and I did (below). Prior to entering Tech, two traditional “Levi carries Noah” photos entered Dad’s camera.
The Masters ceremony was still in progress, so the doors were not yet open to the auditorium. We turned to the left from the lobby, and I walked with the party up two flights of stairs, to Level 3. A left and another left led to the A-wing, and at Room A-319, I got a photo op of knocking on my advisor’s door, although there was no chance of him answering–hard to answer when out of town! I also realized the Big Bang Theory opportunity: “(knock) Leon. (knock) Leon. (knock) Leon.” My sense of humor has a bunch of different facets, and pop culture references are NOT exempt!
Returning to the stairwell, we headed up another set of two sets of risers to get to Floor 4. Then, I bounced with the family through the tortuous set of turns into the new part of the M-wing. Sara was there, so I briefly introduced her to the family. Then, in the original M-wing, I noticed that Beth was in the office. Entering to introduce her to my family, I said, “Do you always work on the Saturday of graduation?”
Everyone else then said, almost in unison, “Noah, it’s Friday!”
My response: “I’M AN IDIOT!!” I can definitely say that in jest–clearly I have been off-kilter with my day perception ever since the defense! Is this something to which I am reasonably entitled?
I then led everyone down the long corridor and unlocked my office. As usual, there were no officemates in there at the time. But, I got a photo of my chalkboard, the arrow signs, and the clock and desk area. After that, walking down the hall gave quick introductions to Professors Chopp and Mani. It was 15:15 at this point, so we all returned to the ground floor, and I checked in, retaining my blue tassel and picking up a black tassel outside of LR2. There was a big jam of people from the Masters ceremony, as well as people already in hoods, perhaps preemptively for the hooding ceremony!
In LR2, we prepared to stage. Each department was arranged in alphabetical order, and the graduates had to line up alphabetically within the department. This was super-easy for me, as I was the ONLY ESAM graduate who chose to participate in the ceremony. So I got to just meander about the front row. Bruce came in at several points with announcements: how to line up, the procedure for marching, and joking about “Tasselgate 2015.” I could have showed up with 15 minutes pre-ceremony and been safe, but there’s nothing wrong with being super early. The lecture room was fairly dark, but I could still see… except when playing trashketball with the water bottle that I had finished! Ha! Speaking of basketball, on the stage there will be a box which is for the ADVISOR to stand on. If the student stands on the box, it would be like trying to have a point guard dunk over LeBron James, so says Bruce.
At about 16:12, the faculty marched “upward” from the lecture room, though the L-wing, and then into the auditorium. The graduates all marched into the auditorium, filling the first six or seven rows in the middle of the auditorium. The remainder of the Weiss/Johnson party was one row behind me, on the south side of the auditorium. They had a very good view! As we marched in, “Pomp and Circumstance” was obviously on repeat, performed by the Kenilworth Brass. We were all seated, and Dean Ottino briefly addressed us before Professor Brinson gave the “graduation speech.” It was not particularly noteworthy to me, but considered Whole Brain Engineering, through three dualities: Passion vs. Discipline, Humility vs. Advocacy, and Inclusion vs. Distinctiveness. For some reason, graduation speeches never seem to reach my internal thoughts.
The ceremonial part of hooding went rapidly and efficiently. I was impressed with the pronunciations of some of the names and thesis titles. However, fast-forwarding to when it was my turn, DESPITE the fact that I had written a phonetic pronunciation of my last name, it was STILL mispronounced (i.e., rhyming with “vice” rather than “peace”). I was not going to raise a stink about it, of course, but nevertheless, I found that somewhat annoying. I walked across the stage, got a handshake from Dean Ottino, stood IN FRONT OF THE BOX, and then Professor Chopp draped the hood around my neck (below). Then, I returned to my seat, unsure of the best way to return. Somehow, I avoided the photographers in front of the stage when returning to my seat. Although it is great to have the ceremony done, I will admit that the doctoral hood is not the most comfortable thing I have ever worn–the weight of the hood puts some strain on my neck!
After everyone was hooded, the recessional was followed by a reception on the main plaza of Tech. Before I headed outside with the family, I paid my friend Tim for the Cubs tickets that we will use on Monday. I got a photo with him, as well as with the dean Bruce. The lobby was quite stuffy, so we all recessed to the outside. There, Dad had the great idea of me sitting on Levi’s shoulders, where Levi was hiding underneath my gown, to give the illusion of me being taller than Tim (he’s 6-foot-11) (below)! During this time, I also conversed with Dad, Professor Chopp, and Rabbi Kensky (below). It’s really neat, as between Tim, Chopp, Kensky, and my parents, it shows four distinct circles that I have been entwined in during my graduate school studies, respectively: Friends from Athletics, Academic Circle, Friends from Hillel and Judaism, and Family. Although they were mostly nonoverlapping, there was a Venn-diagram mystique to it!
Before leaving, I enjoyed one of the monster-sized cookies, which looked a lot like the ones that they sometimes served at Hillel. Speaking of Hillel, Evangeline was on the plaza as well, and it was good to see her. Go figure that I see one of my first contacts on campus on graduation day–it speaks to the full-circle nature of grad school… and even life!
With the clock reading 18:15, we had to make leaving noises, as we have a reservation for Flat Top Grill at 18:30. So, we started walking southbound on Sheridan. It had been a long day for everyone due to the traveling and/or the early wake-up time, so we were ready to get to dinner!
We got to Flat Top after a couple of manoeuvres (British spelling intentional) after Bad Time had been in place for 2 minutes. No chambers were destroyed in the writing of these two sentences! (The game Maxwell’s Maniac is the reference there) What perfect timing! My friend Matt had just arrived as well. We got a table for seven in the back of the restaurant–come to think of it, it was right at about the same place that Mom, Dad, Casey, Sarah, and I all ate in 2012 after the Nebraska game. Their procedure for ordering has changed–you order the meat ahead of time rather than adding it to your bowl. As usual, I got a variety of veggies and sauces, also adding seitan for the taste. We all returned to the table after customizing our bowls.
The conversations were very varied as usual. It started with just some catch-up, as I had not seen Matt for several months. We used to see each other on a weekly basis between Hillel services and/or NUJOT, but Matt’s participation in those had faded in the last two years. He described his research on battery technology to the family, and talking about Virginia Tech was another thing… and China too. The standard exuberance of the Weiss Party then began to start at the table, with various fun conversations. The dinner tasted great, but the bowl was much more filling than what I thought it would be. Oh well–leftovers will be good for another day!
After paying, we walked three doors down (It’s not my time!) to Andy’s. I had nothing due to being full, but a few of the party members got various types of custard. Afterwards, we all walked back toward Engelhart, so that I could stow my stuff, and bring some items to the hotel. Conversations continued on the way there, as Matt walked his bike with us. After all of this, Matt left, I picked up stuff, and we doubled back to the parking garage.
The drive to the hotel was SUPER awkward! The vehicle is intended for up to five passengers, and we were a party of six! Mom and I tried to split one seat in the front, and it was definitely one of the most awkward positions I have been in. If I were to mulligan on this situation, I would have sat in the back seat, across the others’ laps. Of course, then I could not have been the navigator. Yet, it was ONE turn to the hotel. My arms were definitely not happy by the time that we arrived, despite it only being a 4-mile trip.
We checked in to the hotel, and were on the tenth floor. The rest of the night was quite uneventful, and I actually fell asleep before 23:00. It had been a long day, and this weekend will be a lot of fun–might as well get SOME sleep now!
> TO BE CONTINUED…
Four days until Noah’s birthday (and a potential decision.)
??? days until ???. Yay, how the state of Limbo pervades right now!
Today had two “firsts” for me, and the post is pretty short, because I just wanted to get something in play. You will get a longer post on Friday, which will be a summary of the graduation day!
It’s time to reconstruct the journal from my Defense Day! As I said a few posts ago, I have changed my method of journaling, and will now only be using bullet points in the hand-written journal, on the spot, regardless of the preconceived significance of the day. However, for momentous days, I will then expand them on the computer. June 1 of this year definitely applies: my thesis defense date! (Not all of the Full Journal days will necessarily find their way to the blog.)