Thursday, March 26, 2009

Back from China

Now I am in Japan, in Tokyo, after 6 days in China, during which I visited Beijing and Xi'an. It was a really nice trip! I will talk more about it when i am back in Pasadena. Now it is time to enjoy my stay in Japan!! ;)

Friday, March 13, 2009


Now it is 3am and I have been working all day... so i will keep it short ;)

Our base of operations for our trips in Florida was Miami Beach. We went out there the night we arrived from the Keys. These are some photos I took with my mobile phone in Miami Beach. Btw, night life in Miami is really good!

These are some photos of downtown Miami, when we were going to the Everglades National Park.

After the visit to the Everglades NP, we came back to Miami to visit Little Havana, or Pequeña Habana. It was quite interesting, as everything was written in Spanish and they even have a Walk of Fame with Spanish and LatinoAmerican stars... Look who I found, Julio Iglesias! XD

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking, the famous British physicist, is at Caltech at the moment. He is a distinguished scholar at Caltech and spends one month every year doing research here.

Last Monday, he gave a talk for all the city of Pasadena and I went to the event. The event was held in a newly renovated convention center and the place was too big and acoustics terrible. As you may know, Prof Hawking has a degenerative disease which makes he can't speak or move. He talks using a fancy system using his computer. That was one of the most interesting things and at the same time, one of the most weird experiences. It was strange to listen to a person communicating through a computer, and the synthesized voice was awkward. It took a few moments to get used to it and to the delay. And as I said, the acoustics of the place did not help at all. It was really difficult to understand what he was saying, which is a shame.

This is the link to the events website:

Click here

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Everglades National Park

My second day in Florida was also quite intense. We went to the Everglades National Park. For those of you who do not know, it is one of the most famous national parks in the world, and it is an ecosystem of its own. It is quite unique. It is located in the southernmost tip of Florida peninsula and basically, it looks like a swamp. The interesting thing for people not into biology, it is also house to alligators, the only crocodiles in North America and quite a lot of other reptiles, birds, etc. It was quite interesting and enjoyable. Go there if you happen to go to Florida!!

This is what the main place to see alligators looks like. It is like a swamp/lake area with vegetation coming directly out of the water. And alligators everywhere!! It is interesting to remark that alligators can go everywhere, which means they can even access the area where people are looking... That happened and was quite interesting...

Besides alligators there are quite a lot of other animals, like turtles (or are these tortoises?)

And quite a lot of strange birds...

But the highlight is when you get to see something like this:

It is amazing to see so many alligators in there natural habitat!!

And of course, you can have a look at them as close as you dare ;)

After visiting the alligators, we crossed the whole park, around 40 miles, to go see crocodiles. In the way there, the vegetation changed several times, and there were some places to stop and have a look. We stopped in one and there was a path that led us into an island. There we could even see a couple of colorful snakes...

Crocodiles live by the sea, where the Everglades meet the Caribbean Sea. That area is also quite strange, as the swamp merges into the sea, there are small islands like these:

That previous shot was looking into the sea, and the next one is looking towards the Everglades.

Crocodiles are not easy to spot, and your trip there is not always awarded with some sighting... However, we were lucky enough and got to see two of them! The difference with respect to alligators is the shape of the head. Apparently, crocodiles' are less rounded...

Can you tell the difference??

Friday, March 6, 2009

Our car in Florida

This is the rental car we used in Florida: a convertible VW Beetle.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My "MIT" Tshirt

Hey there! Aitor raised an interesting question: what the hell was I doing with a MIT Tshirt?! I am a Caltech student, so I must hate MIT!!

Well, the thing is this Tshirt is a Caltech Tshirt, you think it is the standard MIT's coz you have not seen the back yet ;)

This Tshirt was another chapter of the long MIT-Caltech pranks history. A couple years ago, some Caltech students created this Tshirt and went to MIT to hand it out as a present to the new MIT students. They accepted it gratefully and wore them... however, the back of the Tshirt hid a surprise!! This is what wikipedia tells you about that:

"Recently, a group of Caltech students pulled a string of pranks during MIT's Campus Preview Weekend for admitted students. These include covering up the word Massachusetts in the "Massachusetts Institute of Technology" engraving on the main building façade with a banner so that it read "That Other Institute of Technology". A group of MIT hackers responded by altering the banner so that the inscription read "The Only Institute of Technology." Caltech students also passed out T-shirts to MIT's incoming freshman class, with MIT on the front and "... because not everyone can go to Caltech" along with an image of a palm tree on the back."

Too much talking!! This is the Tshirt! ;)

Florida. The Keys.

For the long weekend we got for President's day, me and my friend Alejandro from Caltech went to Florida. We flew from LA to Fort Lauderdale over night and got there at 5.30am. It was pretty early, so we rented a car and started driving toward the Keys, the chain of island in the southernmost tip of Florida. There is a road that goes island hopping ;) and that is one of the top 5 scenic drives in the USA. One of the other 5 is Big Sur, the road from San Francisco to LA (ooops, I forgot to post photos of that trip...). So that makes 2 out of 5! This is the way we followed:

Our hotel was in Miami, so that meant we drove 180 miles twice. The good point is Alejandro helped me a bit with the driving (that week I had already drove to San Francisco!--->800 miles to begin with). The trip was amazing: emerald blue water in Caribbean islands, interesting posts indicating "Alligator Crossing Areas" and incredible weather! Ahh, I forgot to say... our rental car was a convertible!! Not bad for such good weather.

This is what driving in this road was like, a road in the middle of the Caribbean sea!

After 4 hours+ driving non-stop, I got to Key West, the last of the Keys. There we stopped for some time. It was time for a break and some beach. I swam in the beach in mid February! ;)

The Keys are so different from the rest of the USA! It looks more like any country in the Caribbean or Central America. The pace is very relaxed and the whole place is blessed with good weather (30C) all year round. Even people live in an easier way:

After some time in Key West, it was time to come back. I had already driven 1000 miles that week, so Alejandro took over on half the way to Miami.

At some point, we stopped in another Key, where there was a State Park and Beach and enjoyed the beautiful view.

Then, we continued driving and got to Miami, where we of course went out!! :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Back to life...

I am always complaining about the same recently, but it is very true. I do not have time even to sleep! The last two weeks have been much more than crazy and I have been working at my very very limit. Last week, as an example, I had to submit 4 homework sets, a design of a broadband amplifier, a mid-term exam, a test and an oral exam, all that in 5 days...

Homework may sound childish or easy, but it is all the opposite. Normally, homework sets in Caltech are quite infamous. They consist of enough problems to keep you busy for around 5 to 15 hours. But some of them are simply too hard... Last week, a professor said sorry for having handed out a homework set which took around 25 hours to have it done...

This week looks kind of better, only three homework sets and a test due and I have already finished 2 of them and the test. I have to work on the other set today and tomorrow and I will have virtually no deadlines! I will be able to spend some time in research, which is the real reason I am here for...

Later today, I will update my blog with some photos from Florida or Bahamas.