I recently saw this on the local network at the unversity:

Well, at least the user was honest :) If he was aware that his iPhone would tell everybody of its existence through Bonjour? That, I don't know.

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Sometimes the news just leave me scratching my head:

Apparently, in 2003, Pennsylvania abolished the "helmet law" forcing motorcycle riders in the state to wear a helmet.

As a result, people are less inclined to wear helmets (first surprise), according to a recent study head injuries needing hospital care due to motorcycle accidents went up 87% compared to before the law fell (second surprise), leading to a rise in the resulting medical care costs for these injuries of 132%.

So, Pennsylvania gets rid of their helmet law, and now they act surprised that people leaving their bikes the direct way are more likely to suffer severe injuries? What the hell?

(Helmet picture CC by-nc-sa licensed by midnightglory on flickr)

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At the local dry cleaner's:

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I begin to like this: Today I used the CMU Escort to get home from school. It's basically a night shuttle bus that takes you from campus (there are bus stops) to any street corner within a 1.5 mile radius from campus. That can be veeery convenient (need I mention it is free for ID card holders).

No, dear night owls, they won't pick you up at your favorite bar when you're too drunk to find your way home on your own -- but if you happen to remember where campus is, they would probably pick you up there.

All in all, this makes it easy and safe to get home even when the regular buses are done for the night, which happens more or less early, depending on the bus line.

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That went quite quick: I looked at two places and the second one was good enough so I took it. It's a little room in Squirrel Hill, furnished and with air condition (believe me, that is important here). I even have an own bathroom. (And, as I mentioned earlier, I have decent cable TV that allows me to watch Euro 2008 soccer -- yay for the landlady!)

At the moment however I live in a different room of the house because the current person to live in my room-to-be will only move out on July 15.

Either way, I am happy to have found a place to stay.

Murray Avenue, Squirrel Hill's main street (picture off Wikipedia)

By the way, the neighborhood is really nice, there are a lot of families living there, it's very close to amenities (grocery store, restaurants, post office, even a liquor store) and it's a really short walk to the bus stop too.

Looks like I'm all set -- Now I only need to write my master's thesis. Peanuts! ;)

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Sadly, the Pittsburgh Penguins lost their game against the Detroit Red Wings last night. Watching the game downtown was fun nonetheless. Plus, while during the course of the game it became quite apparent that the Red Wings are the stronger team, at the very end the Pens put a tremendous effort into tying the game to get into overtime and they almost made it! In the last second of the game, the puck was literally on the Red Wings' goal line.

I also got myself a t-shirt with the Pens' captain's name on it (Sidney Crosby) -- I mean, when in Rome...

Here are three pictures I took with my crappy cellphone cam (click on them to see the larger version):

Go Pens! Stanley Cup Finals Go Pens! Stanley Cup Finals Go Pens! Stanley Cup Finals

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There's no question about it: This is the street I need to move to.

Or at the very least I need to go there and take a photo :)

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So, I arrived in Pittsburgh yesterday and so far it seems to be pretty nice. I am slowly exploring the university and its surroundings and I am quite impressed with how many food places there are around campus and how many people there are. (Even though it's the summer so this really only is a fraction of the people I will see in August).

I am currently busy setting up my accounts and ID cards and such, and I haven't found a room yet but I am working on it. With a little luck, I'll soon have a place I can move into, so that I can start focusing on my master's thesis.

By the way: The Pittsburgh Penguins (hockey!) are currently playing the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals, so the locals are all going mildly crazy and even the buses show "Let's go, Pens!" on their displays. Tonight is apparently the (probably) final and most important game in the series, and my friends and I may go see it on a public screen downtown. Time to get into hockey, I guess!

As far as soccer is concerned, I am still pondering options on watching Germany play on Sunday. It'll be 8:30am here so besides getting up early, I'll also need to find a place with an enthusiastic enough owner to set up a TV set in their cafe first thing in the morning. I'll let you know if I succeed.

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Pittsburgh (source: Wikipedia.org)My take-off to Pittsburgh is coming closer and closer, and in the meantime, my to-do list seems to be getting longer and longer, but I am bravely fighting through it :).

What's kind of weird is the housing situation in Pittsburgh: I've been writing emails to a bunch of landlord and landladies that I found on craigslist, but most people want to rent out their rooms for a 12 months lease, minimum, and 9 months is not acceptable.

Others just want me to send a check from a distance, rather than making an appointment to look at the place. Riiight. I am going to give you money just like that.

The last group posts quite appealing ads with descriptions of how their apartment is, what the room to be rented is like, how conveniently it's located, etc etc, and once you reach the end of the ad, it say "females only". Noooo...

In spite of these little problems, I am looking forward to go to Pittsburgh soon. I'm sure it'll be fun.

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If there's one word that can summarize US Visa applications, it's fees...

Today I already had the pleasure to pay three of them:

  • SEVIS fee (= a database entry in the student exchange database), USD 100.-
  • Visa appointment scheduling fee, USD 10.-
  • Visa application fee, EUR 89.08 which is about USD 140.-

So before the application form is filed, you are already spending 250 Dollars in fees (not to mention the cost of driving to the embassy in Frankfurt). What eases the pain a little is the good euro-to-dollar exchange rate at the moment.

But of course unlike last time I don't seem to be required to prove my proficiency in English so that saves me another few hundred dollars. Looks like it's my lucky day.

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