Day 1 at Boulder

Arrival: 11:30am
Weather: Rainy/Sleet-y
Car: White Toyota Yaris – we never noticed the ipod usb jack in the glove compartment until we returned the car 3 days later – what a place to put it! We made sure to use the usb port with the Boston car though.

I really liked the Dollar Rent-a-Car counter because they had a little screen for you to decline all their optional coverages without having to feel bad about turning a person down. The person at the gantry didn’t even bother searching for scratches and things! There is absolutely no point getting the Loss Damage Waiver with Dollar. The only thing is they require a gas refill receipt within 10 miles of the facility and let me tell you, this is no joke at the Denver Airport rental location. LZ missed the turn to Conoco and very nearly pumped the Toyota with natural gas. There is a Conoco a ways out before the rental strip but you have to look out for it. I wonder if Conoco is related to Sunoco. In all the confusion amid refilling the gas tank and catching our flight, it’s no wonder our blue folder (with tickets, receipts, flight/car bookings, our BSO concert tickets) was left behind in the car, and boy did I give him grief about it! I’m not really good at letting the little things go.

We also got hoaxed into renting their ez pass meter for paying tolls, at $11 a day, and we only used it en route from Denver to Boulder, and then back when we were returning the car from Boulder to Denver! Daylight robbery. I could have just told my GPS to avoid the toll routes. Speaking of GPSes I’d better install the Tom Tom software on the computer so I can buy a map of Italy (or Europe, whichever is cheaper) for his conference in May.

En route to Boulder on the highway it started snowing/sleeting and visibility was capped at the car in front of you. So we actually entered Boulder without ever really knowing it – saw the university first! The only indication we had reached was that we were 3-5 minutes away from the estimated ETA at our destination, the Boulder University Inn. This was one of the 3 options given by university staff for us, and the dinkiest option, probably because we asked her to reserve the room pretty late, and other departments were apparently also having their recruitment days. Huge step down from the Courtyard Mariott at St. Jacobs!

The university itself was amazingly pretty – all done up in shades of red rock. Apparently one building started in that style and all the rest sort of followed, so much so that you can easily distinguish the university from the surrounding buildings part way up to Flagstaff summit. (Hint: The university is red)

So after we got the motel room (checked in early – every single place so far has allowed us to do that as long as they have a room available – Niagara Falls, Boulder, Seattle, etc.) we hurried to the university to join the visit day partway. They planned for us to meet with a slew of professors from the morning onward – needless to say I missed most of that because we were running later than their schedule. I did crash the coding and cryptography class (which was for undergrads ?!) – the undergrads were really funny and not too bright but they were way more interactive than those in all my math classes, combined, and I could see how that professor would have fun teaching them. She was going through the Miller Rabin algorithm for primality testing and the kids were giving all kinds of hokey answers as to why some numbers failed the test and others didn’t (without knowing what the test was testing for, i.e. -1’s which give 1’s upon squaring). I met with her after the class along with another student and they spent a lot of time unpacking Apollonian circle packings which I know absolutely nothing about. All the lecturers at Boulder were pretty clear, I thought, but I wasn’t all that interested in number theory and the program had an about 50% passing rate for their PhD program – not too promising!

Anyway to tell the truth, we were only there to see Raghu :P The reimbursements they provided were only $300 apiece and the motel they booked was pretty crappy. We went to find him after the faculty research talks and his apartment has a sort of whiff that has to do with unwashed dishes, primarily because his dishwasher had broken and his roommate was incapable of washing dishes without a dishwasher. R asked about the ring, which I wasn’t wearing at that point because it was a size too large and we had not yet exchanged it. Then we talked about the mechanics of finding out the ring size of the girl if you want to keep the proposal a surprise lol. How does one do it discreetly? LZ was neither accurate nor subtle when he tried to find my ring size. R’s roommate has a cat! I don’t know what kind but it was fluffy and hairy and fat and SUPER cuddly. I hope Soda doesn’t see this but I liked Rakka better hahhaa. She let me pick her up, and apparently that’s all it takes to get me to fall in love with you.

Look at her all coy.

R says his roommate says that she is a chick magnet, and R has not seen anything to dispute that fact yet. Rakka jumps at rustling plastic bags but comes running when she hears her food container being shaken, same as Purr, the cat in my brother’s apartment right now. R’s kitchen was like a disaster zone, we wore our shoes all through the house (except to his room). I decided to use the swiffer on it and vacuum a little while he was studying for his midterm later that day :P We arrived on a Friday and he had a test at like 7:30!? On a friday night? Is that even ethical? He told us to go for some improv night in one of the halls but we (I) were too tired to make it. We drove him to his exam venue and then back to the motel, and I feel asleep on the bed during his exam and only awoke for a late dinner at Chipotle on Pearl St after he was done with his paper.

After dinner he wanted us to go for drinks but neither of us had thought to bring our IDs haha! We wound walking through Pearl St in the slush (it had snowed that day, and everyone in Boulder was super apologetic for that abnormal weather, and said that they normally get 300 days of sun a year! Waterloo also apologised for their weather. At the risk of sounding narcissistic, the bad weather literally followed us wherever we went – first day in Waterloo, the coldest day they’ve had in 30 years. Week in Ithaca, still in the middle of the worst winter since most of my profs had joined Cornell. First day in Boulder, rain and snow and slush – with only 65/365 odds of that happening. First day in Seattle, caught in the rain and had to buy a $24 umbrella. 3 days in Boston – snow storm upon arrival. The _only_ place we saw the daffodils and crocuses (croci?) out was in Seattle, and even then they were covered with raindrops!

Anyway after slushing around on Pearl St we wound up at Trident Bookstore/Cafe, and I bought a bunch of books, postcards, and pottery (yes, again! I felt justified in doing so since I’d left most of the 15 steps pottery I’d bought in Ithaca at Chris’ house to be picked up when I come back in August :P) There was a cute pop-up book about a little boy looking for his mommy that featured a lot of mummies (the egyptian bandagey kind). After shopping in Trident there was some more milling around Pearl St with our resident hip person pointing out various grungy bars with reputable beer selections before we called it a night and sent him home.

I really like the vibe in Boulder. It’s sort of an affluent-hippy mix, and those are the best kind of hippies. Not to discriminate against poor people or anything (I consider myself ‘poor’ in Singapore), but at the very least I am able to earn my own keep and not impinge on other people’s hospitality – I would never ‘crash’ someone’s home because I can’t find housing – LZ’s and my policy is to always book a hotel unless we are extremely close to the ‘host’ and would LOVE to have that host stay with us or know that that host would love for us to stay with him/her, and to never plan to stay somewhere for extended periods if we do not have housing at all. We liked the pretty varied and interesting selection of books in Trident – everything was so buyable. I don’t think I’m exactly a shopaholic, but we don’t really have bookstores stocking such cool and affordable books in Sg. I also found a nice box of Frank Lloyd Wright postcards there!



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