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

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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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The University of Texas at Austin