CRA-Wx DMP Program
Katie Coons - The University of Texas at Austin
Distributed Mentor Program Summer 2004

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Week:  All |  1 |  2 |  3 |  4 |  5 |  6 |  7 |  8 |  9 |  10

Week 1

My mentor will not actually be here at U. Texas for the first two weeks I am here, so I got to know everyone else I'll be working with and obtained the necessary accounts to get the Scale program set up.  I was kept quite busy outside work doing fun stuff.  I saw a play and watched Harry Potter at a dinner theater on Sunday.  I went to a swing dance on Thursday and saw Super Size Me in the theater on Friday.  That was scary, I wanted to call my friend back home and tell him to stop eating McDonalds.  I went for a 7 mile run around Austin's Town Lake on Saturday morning, which was awesome and beautiful, and then I went for a swim that afternoon.  We all went to Mozart's Cafe after the movie Sunday night, which was this beautiful little coffee place right on the Lake.  The CS grad students and the other students in my dorm keep me very busy anytime I'm not at work.  It turns out there were tons of people here who play racquetball so I got myself a pass to the gym and go a few times a week.  So far I'm having a lot of fun and I hope things stay this way! We've only just been introduced to the code we'll be working on this summer so we will probably spend most of next week familiarizing ourselves with it and deciding how to go about getting started on our backend PowerPC compiler.

Week 2

At work this week we got Scale loaded onto our computers andattempted to compile it.  Jon helped Julie get the Trips backend working on her machine so she could step through the program and get an overall feel for it.  I spent much of my week getting Scale to compile on my little G4 PowerBook.  There were tons of environment variables to set, I had to download Eclipse and learn to use it, and I had to sort out some issues with making the program work in Eclipse.  By the end of the week, however, I was able to get all but two packages compiled in the PowerPC backend.  The next steps will be to go through the program to get a better feel for it, and then to study the PowerPC ISA.  I hope to get started implementing the backend soon, and I hope that it goes smoothly, because I would very much like to do some additional research afterwards that I could use for my senior thesis when I return to UVA in the fall.

Outside of work, I got to hang out with the CS people a bit more.  We went out for dinner at a sushi place for Walter's birthday on Friday (Happy Birthday Walter!), which was a lot of fun.  I went out swing dancing Friday night at a place called Mother Eagan's where they had a live swing band called the ACME Song Company.  The band played on an outdoor stage and they were awesome.  There was dancing right up in front of the stage and I got to dance with a lot of people I remembered from the previous Thursday dance.  Saturday morning I went for another run at Town Lake.  I improved my time on the 7 mile run by about five minutes this week.   On Saturday night Julia and I went to a comedy show after a dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.   Sunday morning we went to this absolutely amazing place called Hamilton Pool where a natural spring feeds a waterfall into a giant pool.  It was one of the most gorgeous things that I have ever seen.  Afterwards we went to lunch at the Oasis.  The Oasis is a restaurant that overlooks Lake Travis and is built on this beautiful hillside.  I'm making a list of all the places I will have to take Andy when he comes to visit me the first week in July and Hamilton Pool and the Oasis are definitely on it!

Maria and me by the waterfall at Hamilton Pool

Week 3

At work this week I got everything to compile on my PowerBook using makefiles, and then began working on getting it working in a good debug environment.  I quickly became frustrated with Eclipse because it was incredibly slow on my laptop.  I decided to attempt to get it working in OS X's development environment instead.  By the end of the week I had a debug environment setup in which I was able to step through the program and see how it was put together.  In addition, Julia and I both began writing small C programs and using GCC to produce assembly code for them so we could get an idea of how the PowerPC ISA works.

Our mentor, Kathryn McKinley, finally returned this week.  We arranged to have weekly meetings with her for a half hour each week to discuss our progress and ask any questions we have.  In addition, we arranged to alternate eating lunch with her on Fridays so we can ask her questions as a mentor regarding graduate school, balancing family and academics, etc.  Each week Julia and I will also be attending the Speedway group meeting and the TRIPS group meeting.  Speedway is the Compiler Research Group, and TRIPS is the group that works on the TRIPS architecture which is closely related.  Attending these meetings will give us an opportunity to see what life is like for graduate students, as we will read and discuss papers, see research presentations, etc.  Kathryn gave us 4 papers to read to help us get ideas for thesis projects, and to give us background on the work the various groups are doing.  Attending the TRIPS meeting on Thursday, I found I was actually very interested in the work they are doing as it was closely related to the work we did in my Advanced Digital Logic Design class last semester where we wrote the Hardware Description Language for a processor and placed it on a chip, and then spent the rest of the semester attempting to optimize it by any means possible.

I began ballroom lessons this week!  The Ballroom Dance Club at UT offers summer lessons for 9 hours/week at only $30 for the whole summer, which is really a great deal.  The lessons were mostly for beginners, but it was kind of nice because I got to help out the instructors and the people were all very nice.  One of the instructors actually asked if I wanted to practice with him this summer which could be really good for me.  I also made some new friends that go salsa dancing and swing dancing.  On Monday, Kartik, Matt and I taught Julia how to play racquetball so on Monday and Wednesday we played some doubles games which was a lot of fun.  On Thursday I went to the Austin Swing Syndicate's weekly dance which had a live, 12-piece band.  On Friday I stayed home to do laundry and ended up playing poker with some guys from my dorm.  Saturday morning I got up at 6am and went for another run around Town Lake.  I improved my time by quite a bit this week!  After the run, we all went out to Pace Bend for some cliff jumping.  We swam in Lake Travis and jumped off cliffs into the lake all afternoon.  It was a lot of fun, aside from the sunburn I got!  Saturday night Raj had a pool party and a barbeque at his new place, and we all stayed up late playing cards and drinking out of a watermelon :)

Raj, myself, Bob, and Serita crawling into Lake Travis at Pace Bend

Raj wearing Maria's float for some odd reason...

Kartik, myself, Bob, and Maria by the picnic table at Pace Bend

Raj, Alison, myself, Serita, Bob, and Maria.  Again, I don't know why Raj is wearing the float... nor do I know why Kartik took this picture at such a funny angle :)

Week 4

First thing Monday morning I finally got everything working and ready to start seriously programming with Scale.  It was a huge relief to finally be at a place where I could code for real.  Through the course of the week I got the compiler to output the correct prolog and began working on setting up argument passing and return values from functions, which I imagine will be one of the more difficult parts of the process.  On Friday morning, Mike Bond (who, coincidentally, went to my high school) told Julia and I that he had a possible idea for our senior thesis projects if either of us was interested.  His idea involved determing the improvement gained from doing a trip-count analysis in addition to edge-profiling for the loop unrolling optimization of the TRIPS project.  The impression I got was that this would involve running many test cases and determining how many times a loop is actually run, then using that information to help determine how many times to unroll the loop. I intend to do a bit of research on the topic to see if it will interest me, and I told him I was definitely interested in finding out more about the idea.  From the readings I have done so far I find the TRIPS project extremely interesting and I would very much like to get involved with it if possible while I'm here.

On Friday afternoon I had my first lunch with Kathyrn.  I asked her a lot of questions about graduate school and whether I should be thinking more of a PHD program, a master's program, or even applying to graduate school at all.  I was somewhat surprised to hear that her suggestion was that I should probably go ahead and apply to a PHD program if I was considering it at all, and that many people find they need a few years in the program before they can have any idea whether it's right for them or not.  The lunch was very good for me as I got a lot of good advice from Kathryn, and I learned a lot more about her and her experiences in the CS world.  In addition, the food was awesome!  She took me to the campus club and there was a buffet with gooood ribs, vegetables, fruits, potatoes, rice, desserts - it was amazing to have a real meal for once!  I'm so used to eating a slice of pizza for dinner here :)

On Monday and Wednesday I played racquetball with Kartik again.  On Monday we played cut throat with his roommate, and on Wednesday two random guys named Sam and Jackson appeared and asked us to play doubles with them.  They were really, really good.  It was really good for me to play with them though, I play better when I play with better people, and I was happy to hear that they wanted to meet us to play some more doubles on Monday!  I went to all nine hours of ballroom this week and loved it.  On Thursday night I went to the Austin Swing Syndicate's dance, and then I went to this place called Miguel's downtown for some salsa dancing.  Everyone I know here who dances has told me that I have GOT to go to Miguel's because it is THE place to go for salsa dancing and they are closing at the end of June.  Thursday night I finally went with some of the ballroom club members and I found out what they were talking about - I saw tons of people I knew there as well as some really great dancers I didn't know.  It was a bit too crowded, but otherwise totally awesome.  Saturday morning Raj, Serita, Bob, and Alison went to the Luling Watermelon Thump 5K run.  I considered going, but I decided that I would rather go run 7 miles around Town Lake for free than pay $20 to run 3.1 miles an hour away in Luling :) Living like a poor grad student is having quite an effect on me, I suppose.  Saturday afternoon I went to the Sapphire Ballroom competition at the Marriott downtown because Javier, the UTBDC quickstep/tango instructor's assistant, was competing and I wanted to see just how good his Latin was (I didn't end up getting to see him compete, but his Latin is definitely very good).  Saturday night I went to the Austin Ballroom Dancer's weekly dance which was a ton of fun.  I met a lot of really good dancers, and my friend got me in for free which made it even better.  Also, he told his instructor about me and his instructor invited me to be his guest at his advanced class this Monday night.  Free ballroom lessons, yaaay! :)  Sunday evening we saw the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which was a weeeeird movie and gave me a definite brain freeze.  Then we grabbed dinner at Chile's, and went over to Matt's to watch Moulin Rouge because Julia had never seen it.  Overall it was a great week!  I'm having a blast, and really looking forward to this Thursday when Andy arrives!!  I'm renting a car and taking him to all the places I've loved the most.  Can't wait!

Here's a few random pictures because I didn't take any pictures this weekend, and I really like pictures.  They make things more interesting:

Walter's desk is constantly surrounded by an abundance of food.  Note the absurd stack of peanuts and the candy jars looming ominously in the Cadbury Creme Egg box.

Week 5

Andy visited this weekend!  Woohoo!  More about that later :)  At work this week I continued implementing the backend.  Julia and I met with Chendi, a student who had previously implemented a PowerPC backend, on Wednesday and stepped through a few programs to figure everything out.  I got the program outputting actual instructions and hopefully by the end of next week it will be able to produce small programs containing integer operations that actually run.  I began to realize that producing code for both linux and os x would be harder than expected, so I'm going to concentrate on linux and only worry about os x once linux is fully functional.  I did some reading on the possible thesis topic Mike suggested last week and found that my compilers teacher, Jack Davidson, had actually written a few papers on loop unrolling.  I read his papers and a few others on profile-guided optimizations and loop unrolling and it looks like the idea has promise.

Andy arrived in Austin on Thursday!  I got a white Dodge Neon rental car and I picked him up at the airport at about 3pm.  I took him to the East Side Cafe for lunch, then took him to ACES to meet some of my co-workers.  I took him to a cha cha lesson with the Ballroom Dance Club at UT (Andy loves to cha cha).  Then we relaxed Thursday night, and got a late night snack at the Magnolia Cafe, followed by a scenic drive around Texas hill country.  On Friday morning Andy and I went to O's, the campus cafe, for breakfast, stopped by ACES, and then went to the gym for some racquetball.  I showed him the awesome tournament court that's out in the middle of the gym with stands around it.  Afterwards we went to Best Buy and I bought a digital camera!!!  I immediately began taking tons of pictures with it.  Look here to see all of the pictures!  After I got my camera we grabbed lunch at Quiznos, and then headed out to Johnson City to see the Exotic Resort Zoo:

Andy surrounded by creatures at the Exotic Resort Zoo.  He insists that the goats are eating his shirt in this picture.

Afterwards, we drove to the Oasis restaurant.  We got there a bit early to see the sunset, so we went down to the bar and had drinks for an hour or so, then watched the sunset, and then had an awesome dinner with a gorgeous view of Lake Travis.

Andy and I at the Oasis, the Sunset Capital of Texas.  This was before we learned to turn the camera's flash on.

Saturday morning Andy and I woke up and went for a walk around Town Lake.  Andy decided he wanted to go kayaking so we rented a boat and I got a horrible sun burn, but it was awesome anyways.  Afterwards we took a 4 mile walk around Town Lake and then went to Stubb's for some Texas Barbeque for lunch.

This is the position in which I spent most of the 2 mile kayaking trip.  Andy got a good work out, and I got a good sunburn :)

Later that afternoon we went to Runtex to buy me some new running shoes, and then that evening we went downtown to eat at McCormick & Schmick, an AMAZINGly good seafood place in the bottom of the tall new funny-looking building downtown.  I had the rainbow trout and it was just about the best thing I ever tasted.  Afterwards we wandered around Town Lake to see the view at night.  That evening we went to Mozart's, an adorable little coffee house on Lake Austin with outdoor seating on decks overlooking the lake.

Sunday afternoon I took Andy to lunch at Ski Shores Waterfront Cafe, which is an awesome little restaurant right on Lake Travis.  Afterwards, we went to Hamilton Pool.  That evening, we went to a party at Allen's house.  The concept of the party was that everyone had to bring a 6-pack (typically of beer), and no two people could bring the same 6-pack.  The party was a lot of fun, and afterwards we went to see the fireworks and then to Chris's place for some swimming and hot tubbing.  Afterwards, we were hungry so we stopped for a late-night snack at Kerbey Lane, a classic Austin 24-hour diner down the street from me.  I had the "short stack" of pancakes which in Kerbey Lane world means two giant pancakes each much larger than your head.  Andy had migas and french toast, which much to our surprised was two entire plates full of food.  We went home very full and crashed at 3am with the alarm set for three hours later.

Andy and I at Ski Shores Waterfront Cafe.  This experience made Andy decide that he wants a boat.

Andy and I in front of the falls at Hamilton Pool :)

Kartik, Mike, Doug, Jon, me, Walter, Andy, and JP at Allen's house for the 4th of July Big Beverage Potluck Bash.

Week 6

At work this week I made progress with the PPC backend and set a goal for Wednesday of next week when I meet with Kathryn again to be capable of producing a program that can be assembled and run.  The main challenge standing my way is perfecting the stack frame, which I imagine will be one of the toughest parts of the project as a whole.  The other thing that will be extremely challenging is covering all of the special cases.  When I made a code generator for the compiler I wrote in class last year it was not nearly so difficult because it was for a small subset of the language which did not include structs or other complicated data types.  It will be very difficult to get this project completed before we leave, but I hope to make some serious progress on it over the next two weeks and hopefully get something that is reasonably functional.

Andy was still here at the beginning of this week.  He rocks, so he woke up at 6am with me Monday morning to go for a run after having gone to bed at 3am Sunday night.  Unfortunately he's not a big runner, so he started walking after about a quarter mile and I walked the rest of the trip with him, but it was still fun.  He got to see the route I run every morning.  Then he came home, showered, and crashed pretty solidly until the afternoon.  We went into ACES for lunch so I could introduce him to Maria and he could see what lunch at ACES is like.  Afterwards, we went to Amy's ice cream, known for the best ice cream in Austin.  I had the Belgian chocolate and he had the white chocolate and we mixed them and made an amazingly yummy swirl.  That evening, we finally went to Mount Bonnell.  We'd been meaning to go all weekend.  Mount Bonnell is the highest point in Austin with an awesome lookout over the whole city.  We arrived right at sunset and it was absolutely stunning.

Andy and I on Mount Bonnell just after sunset.  That's downtown Austin to the right, and the UT tower to the left.

After Mount Bonnell, Andy and I went to a place called Eddie V's for our last meal together.  We had heard great things about the place from everyone but it still managed to surpass my expectations.  Our waiter was totally awesome.  I think Andy and I BOTH had a crush on him.  I had an 8oz filet mignon and Andy had a 16oz new york strip steak and we split a huge twice baked potato.  It was, without question, one of the best meals I have ever eaten.  Andy insisted that I have a green apple martini, too.  That's my favorite drink and they made it absolutely perfectly.  After dinner we had some coffee, and went home very happy and very satisfied.  Tuesday morning I took Andy to the airport and said goodbye to him.

Once Andy was gone I had a lot of catching up on work to do.  I stayed up pretty late Tuesday and Wednesday nights getting work done.  Thursday I went to ballroom, and then I went to the Austin Swing Syndicate dance.  Dan, one of the UT ballroom club co-presidents, gave me a ride to and from the dance and he was very awesome.  Friday night we all went out to dinner at the World Beat Cafe, which is a nearby restaurant that serves a lot of African food.  I had the Nigerian Veggie Platter which was a pastry filled with seasoned potatoes and carrots that was actually delicious.  Afterwards we went to Matt's place to watch the Bourne Identity.  We had an awesome time and decided to go to Chris's afterwards for some hot tubbing.

Julia, Mike, Matt, Walter and I at Matt's place.  Chris, Jen, and Kartik were there, too.  I am so very disturbed by Matt and Mike in this picture.

Saturday night I went to another Austin Ballroom Dancers (ABD) weekly dance.  It was free to everyone this week so tons of people came, including a lot of people that I normally only see at the Austin Swing Syndicate dances.  I had an awesome time, and we all went out to Chez Zee afterwards for dessert.  Chez Zee is an adorable little restaurant I've been meaning to go to that's known for the best desserts in Austin.  I split a flourless chocolate cake with vanilla cream with Vinh's friend, yuuuuum.  We hung out and talked until about 2:30am and then I finally came home and crashed.

Vinh and myself at the ABD dance Saturday night.

Sunday I went into ACES for a while to get some work done, then went to the gym with Kartik and Matt to play some racquetball.  Afterwards, Vinh called and said he had found me a ride out to Diloris's place where the advanced ballroom students have a weekly practice time.  Javier, our quickstep/tango instructor's assistant, picked me up with Vinh and drove me out for the practice.  The place was really neat - there was a really nice dance studio right there inside the house.  We did an hour of standard practice and an hour of latin practice.  Cami, who is incredibly talented and moves sooo well, helped me out with my latin technique, which I really needed.  I got to try out some samba and rumba with Javier as well, which was great because Javier is damn good.  Afterwards, Javier dropped Vinh off at home and then he and I went out for coffee.

Week 7

At work this week I got programs to start compiling and assembling!  It felt great the first time I got Hello World to work, I started jumping up and down giddily all over the 3rd floor of ACES.  Hello World was actually particularly difficult because it required me to figure out system calls, loading addresses of strings, and variable argument lists.  I got function calling and parameter passing to work for integers, as well.  I finished off the week tackling the float.  Float/integer conversions are kind of a pain.  Once that's done, structs are next on my list of things to do, along with figuring out system calls in OS X, which are significantly more difficult than system calls in PPC for linux.  Next week Jim Burrill from U. Mass will be here to visit, so it will be nice to finally meet him instead of just seeing the big speaker phone that is Jim sitting in the middle of the table.

I did more ballroom Monday and Tuesday night this week, and then Tuesday night after the lesson I hung out with Javier, the assisstant instructor.  On Wednesday night Vinh cooked dinner for me and his friends Annie and Arthur.  Vinh is an AMAZING cook.  I made him write all his recipes down for me because the meal he cooked us was so, so good.  He made a salad out of spinach, cranberries, walnuts, and this homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing with mushrooms.  He grilled salmon and skewered vegetables, and he made this pasta with an uncooked sauce that was so very good.  For dessert, he grilled peaches, and then dunked them in this sauce he made out of yummy dessert wine, and then he made cream out of whipped cream and ricotta chese and spread that on top.  SUCH a good meal!  Afterwards we were going to go to the Dallas Night Club for some country dancing, but I was pretty tired at that point and hadn't been sleeping much so I went on home.

Thursday night I went to the first partner tricks class at ballroom where we learned a few dips and drops and this cool move where your partner holds you by your armpits and swings you around in circles with your feet off the ground.  That night, I convinced some of the UTBDC people to come to the Austin Swing Syndicate dance with me!  It was totally awesome, I was sooo glad they came.  I had some of the most fun I've had dancing here that night.

Ian, Vinh, Linda, myself, and Palani at the Austin Swing Syndicate dance Thursday night. Dan was there too, but he left early before I got the picture.

Friday night I did not dance for the first time in weeks.  Instead, I went downtown with Walter, Chris, and Jenn.  We ate dinner at an Irish Pub, and then we went to Stubb's to see a They Might Be Giants concert.  One of the opening acts was actually really hilarious, I enjoyed them a lot (Common Rotation).  After the concert, we went to Amy's Ice Cream for some dessert.  I had honey graham (soooo good) and Walter and Chris both had Shiner ice cream.  Shiner is a local beer that everyone here loves.  It was very, very weird to have ice cream that tastes like beer.  Saturday I went shopping for the first time since I got here so I could get a new dress for the Austin Ballroom Dancers (ABD) dance Saturday night.  I took a nice long bus ride out to Barton Springs Square Mall and I spent waaaay too much money, but I got an awesome dress.  Saturday night I went to the ABD dance.  It was UTBDC night so anyone with UTBDC got in for $3.  A bunch of people from the club came which was really nice, because usually it's just me and Vinh there.  Javier came as well, and afterwards he was supposed to give me a ride out to 6th street to meet up with Kartik, Julia, Mike, Walter, Chris, Jenn, and some others who were out playing billiards and drinking.  None of them picked up their cell phones though, so I just hung out with Javier for a while instead.  I also called Connor that night to wish him a happy birthday.  Happy 21st birthday, Connor, you're awesome!!!

The UTBDC gang at the ABD dance Saturday night. Well, everyone but Vinh, who was too busy dancing to be in the picture with us!

Sunday I went into work to try to get floats finished up.  I grabbed lunch with Walter, and then tackled the floating point.  Sunday evening Javier picked me up and gave me a ride out to Diloris's for ballroom practice.  Practice was really fun because Cami and Santos, who are both really good, weren't there, so I got to dance with Javier, Bruce, and Stewart (also all very good) quite a bit.  Stewart, the main instructor and head of the gang, helped me out with my standard a bit, and Javier and Bruce taught me some cool Latin stuff.

Week 8

Work this week was pretty exciting because I starting making some serious progress on the compiler - I got floating point numbers finished up, handled flow control, and conquered structs for the most part.  Next week I hope to move on to arrays, testing corner cases, and dealing with position independent code in OS X which has prevented me from really being able to test in OS X - I can't do printf!  Jim Burrill, a staff member at U Mass. who is largely responsible for maintaining the Scale compiler, visited UT this week.  It was great to finally meet Jim, having only talked to him on the phone before, and he was extremely nice and extremely helpful.

While work was productive and exciting this week, that didn't stop me from taking off on Monday to go to Schlitterbahn!  Schlitterbahn is known as one of the best waterparks in the nation.  Jenn, Chris, Walter, Nick, Mike and I all left Monday morning and spent the entire day there.  We started out by going on the Master Blaster, which has won awards multiple times for the best waterslide in the nation.  It was a really cool slide, it actually blasted us uphill in various places and was very much like a rollercoaster.  The park was a blast, although it's a good thing we went on Monday because the lines were very long even then - I can't imagine what they must be like on weekends!  We played 20 questions while we waited in line which kept us quite entertained, and taught us that Chris is far better at that game than any of the rest of us.  But seriously, who would guess "The year of the monkey" as an answer to a 20 questions game anyways?!  After we got back from Schlitterbahn, we all went to Hyde Park Grille for some dinner and some very yummy desserts.

Mike, Walter, myself, Chris, Jenn, and Nick at Schlitterbahn.  The park was awesome and amazingly, none of us got sunburned.

Jenn, Nick, and myself chilling in our tubes in the west side of the park.  The west side had a lot of really long tube rides that would be lazy for a while and then unexpectedly dump you over a cliff.

On Tuesday I went to training class for First Bytes.  First Bytes is a program to introduce high school girls to computer science.  Julia and I volunteered to help out with a few of the labs.  Tuesday evening I left ballroom early to go meet Jim for dinner.  Jim, Julia and I met and discussed our project and got to know each other.  Afterwards, I went back to ballroom and then hung out with Javier for the evening.  After work on Wednesday, my friend Palani from ballroom picked me up and took me to his place where he made me an awesome dinner!  He made an Indian chicken dish that was incredibly good, and he had some Indian desserts that were very yummy as well.  He showed me a video of him skydiving!  He had just gone skydiving for the first time and they made a video of the whole thing and it really looked like fun.  Afterwards, we watched the first half of Ghandi and he helped me understand what was going on.  It got pretty late so we decided to watch the second half another night.  It was definitely an awesome evening, I love home cooked food!

Thursday I went to another partner tricks class where I learned more dips and lifts.  Vinh actually has the guts to try them out at ABD and Austin Swing Syndicate dances, which is pretty cool.  Thursday night a bunch of people came out to the Fed again for the Austin Swing Syndicate dance, I hope that means they had a good time last week and will keep coming!  Friday morning I met Jim at the bread & breakfast where he stayed to grab breakfast before he left to return to U. Mass.  The place was called the Austin Folkhouse and it was adorable and the food was very good - I highly recommend it.  I was sad to see Jim go because he was a good guy, and it was very nice having him around to help.  Friday night after work Javier picked me up and took me downtown to Katz's deli where his friend Eric works.  It was a cute little place and after an awesome meal he came back and kept me company while I did my laundry (thanks Javier!).

Saturday I came into work and finished structs up, then went to the gym for a run.  Afterwards, Javier gave me a ride out to the ABD dance, but he didn't end up staying.  I danced at ABD for probably the last time, since next Saturday will be my last Saturday here.  Quite a few UTBDC people came out to the ABD dance again this week, I was really excited to see them coming, I hope they'll keep it up!  Walter had a wine party Saturday night at Allen's house, so as soon as I was done with the dance I went over to Allen's for some wine and cheese and hanging out.  We had a ton of fun, I met a few new people, and we talked until about 4am.

Myself, Nadine, Walter, Kartik, Todd, and JP at the wine party at Allen's house.  Note the excess of empty wine bottles (I got there late!) and cheese.

Sunday I woke up and came into work.  Julia and I have to give a pressentation on Wednesday so I started thinking about that so we would have something done before our meeting with Kathryn on Monday.  Sunday afternoon Palani took me to Bull Creek.  Bull Creek was a cute little creek with a little waterfall, swimming holes, and a few rope swings to jump off of into the water.  After Palani dropped me off I met Vinh and walked back to his part of town to grab dinner.  He took me to the Rotisserie Grill and got me a free meal which was pretty awesome, and then we went to Central Market.  I have heard about Central Market from soo many different people.  Central Market is an upscale grocery store which Walter calls the Walt Disney World of food because they have such an abundance of good food.  The absurd quantities of cheese, wine, amazing chocolate, freshly baked bread, fresh and rare produce, etc. were mind boggling, and leave the wallet quite empty.  I got some groceries, and Vinh insisted that I try the Miles of Chocolate brownie with him.  It was the most moist, decadent, rich brownie I have ever had.  I got some tiramisu cordials as well. mmmmmmm :)  Central Market also has this adorable little cafe where they have live music on weekends and a good selection of foods.  Afterwards Vinh walked me back to drop off my groceries, and then I went into ACES to get some work done after an awesome weekend.

Week 9

On Monday of this week I began preparing for the presentation we were to give at the Speedway meeting on Wednesday.  I wrote up a presentation before our meeting with Kathryn Monday afternoon so that I could discuss it with her.  Kathryn gave us some good advice and I felt pretty confident about the presentation afterwards.  Tuesday I worked on array indexing and switch statements and got both working.  Wednesday Julia and I gave a presentation to the Speedway research group about what we've done here and the DMP program.  During the rest of the week I got passing structs on the stack working with Jim's help, and begain working on variable-length argument lists, which turned out to be quite difficult.  Since Julia was finally up and working I suggested she work on position-independent code in Mac OS X because it is largely separate from everything I am working on, which would help with source control issues.  In addition, it's a subject I haven't touched on yet and it is very important to get it working if we want to be able to test our OS X code.

On Monday evening I went to another of Stewart's foxtrot and rumba classes.  I like those classes very much because they focus on technique and teach rather advanced figures as well.  Javier gave me a ride to the practice and then took me home afterwards and stayed to hang out for a while.  After ballroom lessons Tuesday evening Javier joined me for a trip to HEB, which was awesome because I needed food sooo desperately, and then we went to Kerbey Lane for dinner.  I went into ACES afterwards and worked late into the night.  Wednesday morning at 4am Javier called me and asked if I wanted to go grab breakfast.  We went to Katz's downtown and shared some pancakes and then I came home and went for an early run, and then went into work to prepare for our presentation.  Matt looked over our slides and was very helpful.  Overall I think the presentation was a success, but I was glad to have it over with so I could concentrate on my work more.  Wednesday afternoon Julia and I volunteered at First Bytes and helped the girls out with their labs.  It was interesting to see how much younger than us the girls were, I don't remember ever having been that young, even in high school.  Each girl who does the camp gets to come totally for free, and on top of the room and board and instruction they get these really nice little bags that are exactly the right size for my laptop that say UTCS on them, and a free USB memory stick as well!!!  I am so jealous.

Wednesday evening Palani picked me up and took me to Barton Springs.  I had heard a lot about it but I was very impressed when I finally saw it.  Barton Springs is part of a small river/creek, but they built walls along the sides so it looks just like a swimming pool.  The bottom has rocks on it and the water is natural non-chlorinated water, but the depth of the pool is marked off on the sides and it really looks like a swimming pool.  It is supposed to be 68 degrees at all times, and it was definitely pretty cold.  It was refreshing once you got used to it, though.  Afterwards we went back to Palani's place and he made me dinner again.  This time he made an Indian shrimp dish that was very yummy and I got to eat that Indian dessert I like so much again.  We finished watching Ghandi as well, and then talked a bit and went home and crashed because neither of us had been getting enough sleep!

Thursday morning I woke up early and went out to breakfast with Javier and our ballroom instructor, Stewart, at Kerbey Lane.  Stewart treated which was extremely nice of him.  He had just had his appendix out last week so I was glad to see that he was feeling a bit better.  I was so very exhausted all day Thursday because I had not been sleeping enough.  I finally passed out on the couch in the lab for a few hours at about 3pm.  I decided not to go dancing Thursday night because I needed some sleep, and ended up working pretty late and then just crashing.

Friday I made up for staying in Thursday night.  Matt, Kartik, Walter, Ben, and I went to TJIFridays right on the Congress St. Bridge for dinner.  After dinner, we walked across the bridge to see the bats.  The Congress St. Bridge is famous for having one of the largest US bat populations living in its crevices and just after sunset they all swarm out to eat insects.  We saw the sun setting over the bridge, and then as soon as it was down the bats just kept coming and coming.  I was shocked not by the quantity that emerged at any given time, but by the fact that the bats just never stopped emerging.  Afterwards, we picked up Julia and we all went to 6th St.  6th St. is like the corner at UVA; it's where all the bars are and where a lot of college people hang out on weekend nights.  We went to Cheers shot bar first and ordered flaming Dr. Peppers.  We watched the bartenders set the shot glasses on fire and then dump them domino-style into the beer glasses on which they were perched.  Afterwards we went to Maggie Mae's, which was a neat place because the music wasn't too loud and we all sat up on the roof just drinking and talking and having a good time.  Raj arrived with a few of his friends which made it even more fun.  After a while we moved on to the Library, which looked like a really neat bar but it was so incredibly crowded we could hardly have gotten a drink if we'd tried.  We quickly left and moved on to a slightly more upscale place on 4th St. where we got a table and sat and drank for a bit more before finally calling it a night.

Not the best picture of me, but damn isn't that sky beautiful? That's Matt, Walter, me, and Ben on the Congress St. Bridge at sunset to see the bats.

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early and met everyone at ACES so we could go out to New Brunfels for some tubing on the Guadalupe.  I found tubing surprisingly fun.  I got a tube with a bottom in it so it was very easy to sit in, and the whole thing was very relaxing.  We had a cooler full of drinks, ate lunch in our tubes, and traveled for about 4 hours.  The current was pretty fast because it had rained quite a bit so we hit some white waters and they were really a lot of fun.  Afterwards we went to a vegetarian place called Mother's for dinner.

Two car-fulls of us along side the Guadalupe after our tubing expedition.

After dinner I went into ACES and got some work done, and then I went home to meet Kartik and Walter on the drag.  We walked to a coffee shop just down the street and shared some drinks and desserts and talked until late.  It was a really good, really relaxing evening with good company.

Sunday afternoon I woke up and went into ACES for a bit of work, and then met a friend named Jeff who lives in my building to play some racquetball.  After three good games of racquetball I got some more work done and then Javier picked me up to take me to Diloris's for once last dance party before I leave.  Cami and Santos were there this week which was nice because I got to say goodbye to them, and I still got to dance with Javier and Bruce quite a bit.  After Diloris's, Javier came over to hang out for a while and then I sent him home and crashed at 10pm after an exhausting but awesome weekend.

Last week when I realized I only had two weeks left I was really sad and felt like I totally did not want to leave Austin.  Now that the time to leave is quickly approaching, however, I'm beginning to feel like I've done what I needed to do here and it will feel good to go back home to my newly remodeled room with my awesome new comfy full-sized bed.  Also, I know I will come back to Austin sooner rather than later, so leaving is not quite so sad.

Week 10

I woke up on Monday acutely aware that this would be my last week in Austin.  I was not nearly as sad as I had suspected I would be, because I am pretty certain I will be back in Austin to visit if not to stay, and the friends here I would miss the most are ones that I am fairly certain I will not lose contact with.  As for my work, I quickly accepted that things would not be as done as I'd like them to be before I left, and decided to enjoy my last week as much as possible.

On Monday Julia and I ate lunch with Kathryn and said goodbye to her since she was taking off this week so we would not see her again.  Monday night Javier picked me up and took me to my last ballroom lesson.  We did tango and paso doble and it was a lot of fun, and Stewart is awesome so he brought a camera and took pics of the class to send to me so I'd remember everyone.  I said goodbye to Bruce, Stewart, and the others I would not be seeing again.  Tuesday was my last lesson with the UT ballroom dance club.  I got pictures of the club, said goodbye to Sabrina, and convinced a few people to come to the Austin Swing Syndicate dance Thursday night to say goodbye to me : ) I also said goodbye to Maria Tuesday, because she was having surgery on Wednesday and I would not get to see her again.  At work, Julia got position-independent code working so I incorporated those changes and set about the rather difficult task of making everything work in OS X.

The UT Ballroom Dance Club after my last lesson. You guys were totally awesome - keep dancing!

Wednesday night Vinh made me dinner again!  Vinh is SUCH a good cook.  He made ribeye, grilled asparagus, a salad with tomatoes and cucumbers and crab meat, a pasta dish, and he got these awesome little toffee cakes for dessert.  You rock, Vinh.  I helped him cook dinner so I could learn how to cook, and then after we ate we watched Spirited Away.  Vinh walked me home afterwards (I live about 18 blocks South of him) and we talked and had an awesome evening.

On Thursday I had my last TRIPS meeting, and I met with Calvin to discuss possible senior thesis topcis with him.  He suggested I meet with Ben, who had some good ideas for extensions of his research.  After work on Thursday Walter took me out for an amazing dinner at the cafe at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin on Town Lake.  It was a really nice place - they had table cloths on every table (I'm a sucker for them for some odd reason...) and gorgeous roses on every table...  I had a New York Strip steak with potatoes and vegetables which was soooo incredibly tender and good, and Walter picked out a nice red wine for me to try with it (Walter is a wine expert).  For dessert, we had a really good chocolate souffle, and when they brought the check they brought us these warm soft gooey chocolate chocolate chip cookies instead of dinner mints : )  

After an amazing dinner, I got a ride from Palani to the Austin Swing Syndicate dance.  Since I'm an out-of-towner and it was my last week here, I got to do the birthday dance!  I was soooo impressed by how fun it was to do the birthday dance.  Basically everyone forms a huge circle and the birthday people/out-of-towners get in the center and they play music and everyone cuts in and dances with the birthday people.  I would dance with one guy for maybe 10 seconds at most and then I would twirl around right into the arms of another guy who was waiting to take his palce.  It was awewomse!  For a good 5 minutes, it felt like every single guy in the room wanted to dance with me : )  After the dance I said my goodbyes to Ian, Vinh, Palani, Clint, and the other swing/ballroom people I had met, and then Palani gave me a ride home where I happily crashed.

Friday I woke up excited about my last day in Austin.  I read a few papers that Ben had sent me during the morning in preparation for meeting with him after lunch to discuss thesis topics.  At lunch, Sam made this AMAZING chocolate torte which we all avidly devoured.  It was seriously some of the best chocolate I have tasted.  Fortunately, he left us all with the recipe.  I met with Ben after lunch and we discussed model checkers, predicate abstraction, data flow analysis, and various thesis topics relating to those subjects.  After work, everyone who was still left took Julia and me out for one last dinner together.  We went to North by Northwest and then to the Arboretum for Amy's ice cream.  We took pictures of ourselves with sculpted cattle, said our goodbyes, and headed home to pack.

"The Last Supper" - North by Northwest on Friday night.

The CS gang at the Arboretum posing with a stone cow on my last night in Texas.  You guys all, without question, rock.

At 10:30 Friday night I wandered into ACES, which somehow seemed appropriate on my last night there.  I cleaned out my desk and Javier gave me a ride back to my place.  Alison picked me up early Saturday morning and took me to the airport where I finally headed home for the first time in 10 weeks.  It felt very strange to be back in Virginia.  Everything is darker in Virginia - the sun makes things much brighter in Texas.  It was also really cold back in Virginia, and the vegetation is so different... it will take a while for it to feel like home again.  I got a lot out of my stay in Texas.  I am very strongly considering a PHD now rather than a Master's degree or no grad school at all.  I am also strongly considering getting further away from home.  I think the distance from my life back in Virginia did me a lot of good.  And most of all, I met some amazing people and I know I will be back to visit, if not to stay : )

Probably the best thing about being back home - my room!  I completely redid it right before I left for Texas and after staying somewhere that was not the nicest or the cleanest while I was in Texas, it felt soooo good to be back!  Here's a picture so you can see just how awesome my room back home is.  Note the awesome boquet of flowers next to my lamp that Andy sent me.  His final for summer school was on Monday so he couldn't come home to meet me at the airport, but the gorgeous roses and daisies did quite nicely in his stead : )

My awesome, beautiful room that I got to come home to in Virginia.  A frame with an assortment of my most awesome pictures from Austin is going right there on the wall over my desk.

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