2021 Wrap-Up: June

Anniversary flowers!

June was a busy month! SMS was in town for the first weekend and our anniversary. We went on walks, went to South Beach Bar & Grill in Ocean Beach, and went to the Hail and Farewell.

The cast in their dressing room.

The Hail and Farewell was held at Liberty Station, which was a pretty good venue. There was some airplane noise and mild AV issues, but nothing terrible and it was really nice to get together as a larger group. I made a video where “Steven the Intern” was tasked with taking care of a baby egg, similar to a high school home ec class assignment. Other residents’ egg fates are shown in the video and it was pretty funny. I understood the assignment!

Then I was off for a family vacation around the US. In 10 days, I went to West Palm Beach, Washington DC, and Chicago. In WPB, I visited my grandfather and his wife. It was a quick trip, but it was really nice to see them. I went to the gym a few times and forget running to the gym- driving a golf cart is a lot more fun! I also ended up doing the Heimlich maneuver on an older gentleman who choked on a large piece of steak. I ended up doing a pretty deep finger sweep and hooked it out! Hooray! It turned out that the man had several serious medical issues, one of which required him to have his food served in very tiny pieces. In the excitement of going out to eat, no one had thought to check that his food was safe for him to eat. The crazy thing is, after all that excitement, they all stayed and finished their meal! I think I would have left after something that dramatic. But to each their own. Or should I say, when in Florida?

After WPB, I headed up to DC for a few days to see Mom and Dad. I stayed in their beautiful apartment downtown. One of our best adventures out was going to get drinks at the Southeast waterfront on a beautiful day. We sat at a second-floor, outdoor bar and enjoyed a few Happy Hour Tecates. It was really a relaxed, fun place to be.

We also saw a Nationals game! I love the Presidents’ Race and George did not disappoint. I actually can’t remember who won, although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Teddy.

Brady and I went out for a museum day, which was a lot of fun. She was really busy since they just moved from Japan. They were not only busy settling in, but they were hosting a lot of visitors. She was also about to start her intern orientation so it was definitely a pretty crazy time for her. But I’m so glad we got to hang out. I also saw my brother and his family, but really, my time was too short! Although I got to see my nephews and niece, I was left wanting more! Fortunately, I saw them a lot more during the Thanksgiving holiday later in the year.

General Motors EV1 Electric Car- starting the modern era in electric cars!

The last stop on my trip was Chicago. Ed and Meg were the most awesome hosts in their new apartment. That they own!! Super impressive, says this perma-renter!

The best coffee maker instructions. Illustrations provided for the real caffeine-deprived dummies (meeeeeeeee!)
Tasty, tasty frozen margaritas. Right down the street!
So much fun at the Cubs game!

I went on a run that ended up being longer than I wanted, but I really wanted to run out onto the fishing pier/jetty to see the dramatic cityscapes!

I had been to Chicago a few times before but had never been on a river architecture tour. Ed took me on one that is supposed to be the best (Chicago Architecture Foundation, I think) and it certainly seemed so! We had a great guide and learned a lot.

Finally, we met up with Meg for lunch. She gave me her own architecture tour with the cool triangle-shaped hotel with a great (closed!) rooftop bar and the Walgreens in a former bank that makes good use of the old vault!

We didn’t miss you.

And just like that, my grand tour of America was complete. SMS and I spent the last weekend of June in San Diego. We had a nice hike in Torrey Pines, admired native plants, went to Blue Ribbon Pizzeria in Encinitas, and saw a music bus with a stage on the double-decker.

Summer tomato plant. Spoiler alert: Aphids 1, Plant 0

Chicago COSM

Millennium Park, Chicago

On Thursday, I left Mountain View for the COSM 2016 meeting in Chicago.  I had a research poster selected for display so I got to go to the meeting.  I had never been to COSM before.  It’s smaller than the Academy meeting in the Fall and a little more social.  Overall, I think I like the Academy better because of the lecture courses offered but COSM was a well-run meeting in a great city.

I arrived Thursday afternoon and my brother picked me up, which was super nice of him since the rush hour traffic was so bad.  He said it was worse than normal but either way, he is a very nice person to pick me up from the airport at that time!
Downtown Chicago- the bottom right photo is from the Hancock Ladies’ Room!

We headed downtown and looked into taking an architecture boat tour but there were no twilight tours that night.  We headed over to the John Hancock building and went up to the Lounge for dinner and drinks.  The sunset was incredible and I went into the women’s bathroom with its famed view.  In the women’s room, there are floor to near-ceiling windows overlooking the downtown.  It’s a great view.  In contrast, the men’s room (by report) has no windows.

My brother by the non-sailing boat 😦 and his amazing apartment!

We waited for a window seat and just when I was starting to feel a little sad about our chances for a short wait, we were brought to our seats.  Yay!  I had a prime rib au jus sandwich and it hit the spot.  I was so hungry!  Meg joined us after her class and we went to Eataly, a super-cool Italian market with multiple small restaurants in an open-floor arrangement.  It was awesome and I’m so glad Meg persuaded us to go!  After that, we went to Hop Flower near their house, which is a very cool bar specializing in Belgian brews.  Meg and Ed definitely know the best spots!

Eataly- I wish there was one near me!

The next day, they were off to the airport and I headed downtown to the meeting.  I got an early check-in (yay!), dropped off my stuff and went for the afternoon lectures and panel discussions.  I saw a lot of former residency mates, future colleagues and former staff.  It was really great to catch up with everyone and get some good career advice.

The Purple Pig- amazing!

Friday morning featured the meeting and then I went to the Chicago Institute of Art after an incredible lunch at the Purple Pig.  This trip was filled with amazing food but I think this was the best.  I went with Colleen and Dan (new acquantaince) and the three of us shared several small plates and feasted.

Some favorites from the collection

The Art Institute was great and I saw old favorites (Seurat) and new-to-me finds such as the Winslow Homer non-ocean paintings and Chagall’s America windows.  I had seen the minatures on my last visit and even though they’re amazing, there was no time in this quick museum run through.

Chagall’s Windows

Then I headed off to the airport.  I was off to Boston to see my favorite sister graduate from medical school!

4 Hours in…Chicago

I had to stay in Chicago an extra night since my exam ended after the last flight to Tokyo.  I was really excited to see a little bit of Chicago so the next morning, I headed into the city.

I had grand ambitions of stopping in multiple shops, museums and parks but I only had four hours, so here’s what I did.  I took the subway (El?) into the city from Rosemont and stopped in the Sephora for some make-up.  It was fun to try on the samples and pay American prices, although they were still high.  I left the shop and saw an old man wearing a Korea War Veteran hat.  I walked past him but decided to go back and thank him for his service.  He was sitting by himself and looked a little lonely.  He was super happy I thanked him and we talked about him, his deceased wife and Chicago.  He had a picture of his wife in his pocket.  She was “beautiful inside and out.”  He also mentioned that the Chicago Cultural Center was gorgeous and had the largest Tiffany stained-glass dome in the world on the third floor.  I begged off a handwriting analysis by him, saying that I had to go and then I was off to see more of Chicago.
In three blocks, I came across the Cultural Center.  Awesome serendipity!  It was a gorgeous Beaux Art-style building with two famous domes inside.  One was the Tiffany dome, with its 38 feet diameter and 30,000 pieces of glass.  It was restored in 2008 and is in the former public library.  The other was the Healy-Millet Renaissance pattern stained-glass dome in the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall.  For those keeping track of stats at home, it is 40 feet in diameter with 50,000 pieces of glass.
An usher in the Tiffany window hall encouraged me to stay for a concert, part of the First Monday Concert Series put on by the Chicago Chamber Musicians.  Joseph Genualdi (violin) and Robert Weirich (piano) played two pieces: Violin Sonata in G Major, Op. 30 No. 3 (Beethoven) and Sonata for Violin and Piano (J. Corigliano).  I preferred the classical piece over the modern but it was pretty cool to hear a more modern composition.  After the concert, I only had one more hour in Chicago!  Time to hustle over to Millennium Park for the de rigueur photo in front of the Cloud Gate sculpture!
After admiring the Cloud Gate, Pritzker Pavillion and the Crown Fountain, I went over to the Art Institute of Chicago.  There was complimentary admission for active duty personnel, which I was happy about since I only had a short time to peek around.  
I went to the Thorne Miniature Rooms first.  They are 1 inch:1foot models of various styled interiors, mainly European and American from the 1300s-early 1900s.  The detail is exquisite.  They’re the best dioramas I’ve ever seen!  Ok, maybe that’s a little too low-brow of an impression but it was a mix of dollhouse and diorama.  The craftsmanship was very impressive.
Then, I went on a whirlwind trip through the Impressionist galleries.  They have quite a few Renoirs, including Two Sisters, which is a painting that I’ve often seen  a replica of in Mom and Dad’s house.  Everything was beautiful and laid out in natural light galleries.  I also loved Eternal Springtime by Rodin.  It reminded me of the time I was lucky enough to see an entire gallery devoted to Rodin sculptures in Philadelphia.  Apparently once Rodin was rich enough, he hired a bunch of models to walk around in his studio and when they were in a pose he liked, that’s what he would sculpt- very spontaneous, very fluid.  It is funny to think of being surrounded by a bunch of naked people walking around- like a Japanese onsen!
I wish I had more time but I felt I made pretty good use of what I had.  Then it was a rush back to the hotel after a slight subway mishap- the Loop not being connected to the main lines is very confusing…to me, at least. I got to the airport, made it through security and had a few minutes before traveling back to Japan.  The flight was EMPTY and I had a whole row to myself.  I could have had several rows to myself.  Seriously, it was amazing.  Maybe I’ll try to travel on off-peak days more often.  
Landing at Narita is always a bit of a letdown since there’s still about three more hours to the trip but it was so nice to be home.  After clearing customs, I headed to the Narita Express, which is only Y1500 for foreigners this year although I had to ask for the discount.  I took the NEx to Yokohama then transferred to the Keikyu line.   It was so packed, even at 10 o’clock at night!   I got off at my stop and walked in.  The apartment looked great and fortunately, no smells of forgotten garbage were in the air.  Yay, for the win!