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my 2004 holiday break

Happy new year, everyone!

I've spent the past 2 weeks in Florida visiting my parents in Bradenton, and a couple college friends in Orlando for a few days. I had a much better time this year than last, despite my pre-holiday fears that I was headed into a veritable viper's nest of family problems. I think my relationship with my parents has improved; there will always be tension, but I see now how that doesn't matter as much as I thought and we can still get along. The yelling matches they typically have with each other were also a lot more subdued this time. The food was delicious. And I even managed to tolerate my religious aunt without blowing up in her face again. In a small way, I realize I admire her for the work she does with the red cross (she goes around helping victims of disasters, such as sept 11, hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires, etc.) She showed me a picture of her helping a muslim couple in new york whose house was ruined and nobody else would help them due to their being stereotyped as terrorists because of their religion. I think she may have been exaggerating a bit on the latter part, but I at least like the fact that she's not one of those that's so into jesus that they consider adherents of competing religions to be sub-human. (Something I had wrongfully assumed about her in the past.) Interestingly, she's recently gone vegetarian... which to me, makes her pro-life stance on abortion at least consistant, whether or not it's right. Something else I wouldn't have expected out of her. I think her travels and her exposure to so many different types of people these days is giving her a much broader perspective.

What else did I do? Got invited to a christmas party last minute by my sister, and came home with a dancing Elmo doll I won in a gift exchange for which I loudly and repeatedly insisted I shouldn't participate in due to not having brought a gift. Designed my own roller coaster and rode on it at Disney Quest in Orlando (very cool place, filled with all sorts of interactive virtual reality experiences.) Went to three family christmas parties, received lots of gifts. Saw Lemony-Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. Listened to my grandfather talk about his recurring dreams about missing class, which sometimes result in him realizing he's dreaming and saying "why the heck do I care about missing class? I'm 85 years old, I don't need any more education!"

Yesterday I battled the airports and the bus and train systems to make my way back to california. I read bits and pieces of Martin Sohnius's Introduction to Supersymmetry on the plane, I think I got the gist of how supersymmetry algebra works, and a little tiny feeling for what superspace is. (My favorite line from it was "The closure of superspace under products is what makes tensor calculus possible!" I picture Doc Brown from Back to the Future delivering it.) Got here just in time to go to my girlfriend's boss's dinner party. We went to Paradice Sushi in Capitola village where I had the best sushi I've ever tasted. Some Miso soup, a Bend Over Barbie special, fresh Tuna, a Rainbow roll, a couple Tsunami rolls (tender buttered eel wrapped in yellow tail with Tobiko), a bite of a Satan's Handroll, some warm Saki, and a bannana fritter topped with honey for dessert. The Tsunami rolls were probably my favorite (despite being inappropriately named at this juncture in time), but everything was so delicious it's really hard to compare. The Satan's Handroll had probably the highest concentration of capsaicin I've ever put in my mouth, which is why I couldn't handle more than a bite. But this led to having quite a buzz the rest of the night, I think I can still feel the warmth in my stomache this morning. Feeling good to be back, well rested, and looking forward to another quarter.

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