it’s a good week.

I’ve been in a very good mood this week, and it would probably be a lie to not give some of the credit to #jagrwatch.  Call me sports-obsessed, because I am.  Also, I made Ham BBQ and it was delicious.  And I made the sauce from scratch…DAD.  I looked up some new churches Saturday night and ended up going to Grace Midtown.  It was a mile walk, and well worth it. I absolutely loved everything about the service, and at least 80% of the people were under 25.  Afterwards, I walked a little farther to Sublime Donuts, which has been on my list to try. Also delicious.

Yesterday we toured the CDC’s museum.  It was pretty interesting.  Here, via Julia, is a picture of us by a giant mosquito.  They also had hazmat suits we could try on.  We got back around lunchtime, so Julia, Stephen, and I decided to go eat together.  It was a good time, and I definitely approve of the Chicken Philly I had.

It’s our busiest week here.  Today we had lunch with the grad students. I had these great intentions of getting up early and spending my morning at the Georgia Tech football stadium until I absolutely had to leave.  You see, Chad Ochocinco has practiced there for the past 2 mornings and tweeted about it.  I was hoping it was a trend.  I promise I’m not creepy.  BUT I ended up sleeping in, and I don’t think he was there today anyway.  We have our final seminar tomorrow on Experimental Econ, so that should be really interesting, and finally, Friday we’re touring the Fed.  We’re also heading to a Braves game that night, and they’re playing the Orioles which means I’ll get to do my next favorite thing after cheering for Pittsburgh: cheer against Baltimore.

I’m almost done with my project aside from the paper. I thought I finished all my regressions Monday, but today I was told to look into all the variables again and see if there are some that can be deleted that will both not affect the results and up the number of observations.  That’s been tedious, but I should be done after about another hour tomorrow.  Gustavo has told me several times that he’s really impressed with what I’ve done so far, and apparently I’m really fast with Stata.  That’s pretty amazing since I’ve never had Econometrics.  He’s also told both Rachael and me that if we’d like to continue our work after the internship, that we would be good enough to present it at the Academy of Economics and Finance.  It’s in February, possibly the same weekend as math modeling.  I’d really like to present there–that would look great on my resume.  But could I give up modeling?  I just don’t know…

my project.

!cid__0620111542aThat right there is what work looks like.  Last week I looked through the data and selected Latin American countries from the upper-middle income level that had a lot of data.  Along with two lower-middle income countries, I’m looking at ten countries total.  I made some time series graphs of fiscal decentralization and GDP.  You may not remember, but the point of the project is to find whether or not different types of crises have an effect on levels of fiscal decentralization, which is the movement of money from the central governments to sub-national governments.  I’m working with six types of crises–currency, banking, inflation, stock market, sovereign domestic debt, and sovereign external debt.  Most recently I’ve gotten into the fun part of running regressions.  I’m not using a whole lot of controls at this point, just GDP/capita, urbanization, and corruption.  Gustavo was explaining everything to me and I may or may not be using the regression data to make a series of equations and then using matrix algebra to solve for the constants.  Anyway, that’s a quick update.  I’m also trying to start on the paper, but it’s taking forever to write up all the lit review. Bleh.

i’m slacking.

I really thought I would be better at keeping up with this. Oh well.  Last Saturday I had lunch at 5th Street Ribs & Blues, which according to the Internet is one of Atlanta’s hidden treasures.  I’d agree. It’s a super chill, small, family owned place that has really good sweet tea.  I have yet to come across not really good sweet tea though. Plus one for ATL there.  I had ribs and baked beans and both were really good.  It’s not a sweet sauce, which is my preferred favorite, but a hotter smokey one.  My dad would really like this place–they even give you an extra dish of sauce.  My mom on the other hand, would hate it.

Saturday night I decided I would try to find this other church I had wanted to go to, and once again, I didn’t think I needed to look up directions.  I mean, I looked at it on Google Maps like two weeks earlier, I should still be good, right?  I made the train this week, only to discover that the Arts Center stop kind of drops you in the middle of nowhere.  It took me a good five minutes to figure out which direction I needed to go.  I walked around and around and around and for the life of me, I couldn’t find this church.  It was 9:54 at this point so I just ducked into the first one I came across, the Metaphysical Church of Atlanta.  I didn’t give it much thought until I sat down with the bulletin and realized they referred to God as “It”.  This church is a church of learning, and they teach all beliefs so that people can choose what they like.  I asked someone where the bathroom was and proceeded to sneak out the back.  I had enough time to get the First Presbyterian Church again.

This week I pretty much just worked.  I might make a separate post and explain that a bit.  Yesterday, though, was the first intern outing.  We went to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historical site.  There’s a small museum and then you can walk out the back to a fountain and also to the street he grew up on. 

Afterwards, Julia took me over to Little 5 Points.  It’s an interesting area filled with vintage shops, tattoo parlors, creepy shops, wig shops, random shops, etc.  All of the buildings are painted some loud color too.  The first place we went into was super super random and pretty neat.  They had stuff ranging from cute plates to pickle flavored toothpaste and anything you could possibly want bacon-themed.  We ended up eating at Vortex, which claims the best burgers in Atlanta.  I wasn’t all that hungry though, so I ended up with a quesadilla.  I also drank at over a half gallon of sweet tea.  Seriously, they give you 32 oz4102988-The_Vortex-Atlanta. glasses.  Vortex is a no-nonsense place, the kind that plays CeeLo Green unedited and will refuse to pay attention to you if you’re on your phone. I respect that.

I ended my Friday playing some Monopoly card game with Ailia, Nikita, and Pretti.  Sonal hasn’t returned from her cruise yet.

lunch break.

!cid__0614111223Tuesday I decided I was going to spend a proper day in the office and get there before eleven.  I’m getting in to the fun portion of the project where I just get to mess with the data and make tables and graphs.  When it got close to 12, I knew it was time for lunch.  I still had that Chick-fil-A coupon, so I headed down to the CNN building.  I wasn’t aware it was so geared towards the public.  They have one super legit food court–with Blimpie!  Should the family end up coming down ever, they had Great Wraps! too.  It was such a cool area, but I  had already decided I wanted to have lunch at Centennial Olympic Park across the street.  I stopped at the souvenir shop first though, and got my needed lapel pin.  Way safer of an environment for buying than Underground.  They have a peach pop and coke in a tin bottle.  I might go back.

Centennial Olympic Park, if you are unaware, was left from the ’96 Olympics and has the famous fountain shaped like the rings.  Honestly, I thought it would be bigger.  There wasn’t a show going on, so the fountain just kind of looked like Soak Zone at Idlewild–hundreds of kids running through the water.  Aside from the fountains, there’s some other cool statues and water areas.  I had to walk to the back of the park to find a place to eat.  Now it’s time to play the Which Black Guy Flirts With Kara Today game.  If you guessed an 8 year old on a field trip, you’d be correct!  He was kind of adorable, total math man in the making staring at his feet.

DCIM100MEDIA!cid__0614111254a

!cid__0614111235 !cid__0614111238 !cid__downsized_0614111259

i swear it’s always communion week when i visit a church.

Sorry I made you wait so long, Dad.  I haven’t had the writing spirit lately.  I don’t like this post.  It’s not up to par.

There are two churches near the next MARTA station up, and I decided I want to try them both out.  This week I chose to go to First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta.  The service begins at ten so I left my room at 9:45 knowing the train ride will only take two minutes max.  I didn’t consider that the trains don’t run quite as often on the weekend so as I got down to the tracks, I noticed the next train didn’t get there until 10:03.  I had briefly looked at a map the night before, and I remembered that the church was near 16th and Peachtree.  It was about 9:52, and I decided I could walk the 7 blocks and get there faster than the train.  It was a nice walk, but some of those blocks were deceptively long. I walked in at 10:06 and was surprised to discover the service didn’t actually start until 10:15!

The sanctuary was beautiful, very detailed and ornate.  I wore a nice summery dress, and it felt underdone.  As I tabbed through the bulletin, I could not believe I had yet again ended up at a church for their communion service.  I started having flashbacks to that weird church we went to in California, and desperately hoped there wouldn’t be a puppet show.  The service began with the choir singing from behind us in the balcony.  I could tell by the looks on people’s faces that this was not a normal occurrence.  Three reverends were used throughout the service in addition to the man giving the message.

It came time for the children’s story, done by the female reverend.  In honor of Pentecost, she was talking about how it was the church’s birthday.  She brought out gift bags and told the children that the gifts were for them and asked them to open them.  As I suspected, there were no real gifts.  This one kid shouts, “It’s empty!” and I’m thinking, why would you do that to small children?  I guess she had cards in there with peace, love, patience… written on them.  Next in the service was a time called Concerns of the Church.  One of the Revs is up doing I guess what is similar to our Praise and Prayer Concerns but there is no congregational vocal input.  Instead, they have these things called Ministry of Friendship pads that each row passes around.  I didn’t realize there was one on every row and that it should have been my job to go grab it, so too bad for the three other people in my row, no friendship pad for them!  The scripture covered was Acts 2:1-13.  Now since this was about people hearing in their own language, four people read in unison.  One in English, one in Spanish, one in I want to say Polish, and one in some African language.  That it made it very confusing.  When it was time for the message, my attention was caught as he opened with a story about a church that had burned down in Pittsburgh long ago.  When the pastor was interviewed, he talked of how it was sad that the sanctuary was gone, but the church was not lost because the church was in the people. This translated into a message of going forth and whatnot.  The message only lasted 15 minutes, and what killed me was his ending line.  “It only takes a spark to get a fire going.” (Cue laughter from Asbury Math Dept.)

I decided to walk back to the apartment instead of finding the train station since I didn’t know where it was, and since I had seen a Starbucks and I really wanted an iced green tea.  This area of Midtown is really pretty; it’s the artsy neighborhood.  Starbucks was in the Colony Square shopping center.  I walked around the back where there is outdoor seating and looked at the map of inside.  I got really excited when I saw there was a Blimpie, and really bummed when I found out everything inside is only open during business hours.  But I got my tea, and the guy behind the counter told me he really liked my dress; it was beautiful.  Flirting, yes, but also just stating a fact.  It’s a great dress.

don’t drink the water.

This is a very important lesson I’ve recently learned.  I’ve now, aside from one trip to the kitchen to make toast and numerous trips to go hug the toilet, been in bed for over 21 hours.  I had the pleasure of up-heaving the contents of my stomach 6 times in about 7 hours last night.  I felt like death.  I’m about 90% sure the cause of all of this came from drinking the tap water.  Julia brought me some Dasani and vitamin water and medicine and told me that she, a native, never drinks it here.  One of the ladies at the office, Cassandra, had made some comment to me about only drinking bottled, but I just assumed it was because the water here tastes so bad.  I guess not.  I decided not to go into work today because I know the heat won’t do anything good for me, but I’m kind of upset because there’s some stuff I really need to do on Stata, which I don’t personally have.

Stata is a statistical analysis program I’m slowly learning.  It’s really cool, but of course I expect it to program the same way C++ does, so I keep messing it up.  Gustavo told me it’s a lot easier than C++, but I’m having trouble convincing myself that it thinks differently.  Wednesday I had a meeting with Dr. Marton about how I’m adjusting and what I want to do in the next year or so.  He told me that taking part in this program will help me a lot since I’m coming from a no-name school.  Since I’m also basically like a grad student this summer, he also said it will help me to get paid as an RA (research assistant).  That would be nice.  I have a couple schools I’m considering for a Master’s.  It’s tricky in economics because a Master’s is generally seen as the consolation prize of a failed PhD student.  I need to look for schools that have entirely separate Master’s programs.  UK is one of the schools I’m looking at.  They have a pretty cool duel-degree in econ and public policy.  And since Dr. Marton spent 5 years teaching there, he said he could put in a good word.

Before my meeting, I spent an hour or so getting an intro to Stata.  For some reason, I felt like I was just going to drop to the ground asleep, so I figured I should get some coffee.  I asked Cassandra what was good nearby, and, in addition to a map, she gave me coupons for free Chick-fil-A!  Talk about awesome.

After work on Wednesday, I decided I wanted to take a look at Underground Atlanta, even though every review I read about said to absolutely stay away.  This was an experience.  There is a really pretty fountain area before you enter it, and I don’t understand how something can go from nice to trashy so fast.  I should have known this would be an adventure when I was walking down the steps–I’m wearing a Steelers shirt–and some guy starts shaking his head and yells, “Cleveland ALL the way! All the way!”  I mean really, Cleveland?  I chuckled.  Before I was even inside for ten seconds, this guy comes up to me and says this: “Um, excuse me, can I talk to you for a sec?  I just want to give you my number cause I find you attractive.  And I know you probably get this all the time, but I just got to do this cause I’m single, you know?”  His name was Walter.  I ventured into 2 of the stores, and from what I can tell, everything in that “mall” is cheap and trashy.  It’s dark and just not the kind of place you want to be in.  I only walked down the one street.  I was about halfway to the exit when another guy, Lamar, comes up to me with pretty much the same story, except he also asked if he could walk with me.  I said sure, and he entertained me the whole way back to the train station.  He told me about how Kentucky is a horrible place for black people and how he spent 1.5 out of his 2 years there in jail.  He told me he was a dancer and had a team that was going on tour soon.  He told me he was a model.  He told me he was on his way to go buy a blunt.  He told me that if I could just get a little bit more of a tan I’d be a dime and a half.  He picked me a flower and bid me farewell.  We clearly have a very bright future together.  I will not be returning to Underground.

bonding.

Saturday morning I woke up from randomly dreaming about shopping at H&M.  My waking thoughts went like this: ‘I should go there today. I wonder where the closest one is…Monroeville? I’d need to fill up my tank. Yeah, maybe I’ll take a trip into the city today. Hold up. You’re in Atlanta, Kara. Oh yeah.’ Funny thing is, I actually ended up going to H&M anyway.

As I was making my chicken alfredo, Roommate C, Sonal, asked me if I wanted to go to Atlantic Station with her. [Side story: Being independent is either going to be very wasteful or very repetitive.  You’re supposed to use a jar of sauce within the week you open it, and I only used about 1/5 of the jar.  I don’t know what else to do with it other than to make some kind of pasta or chicken again…] Atlantic Station is cute little shopping square.  Sonal wanted to get a jacket because she’s going away for 10 days to somewhere chilly.  I later learned that this “chilly” was 70 degrees…what I would give to be in 70 degree weather… We were gone for about two hours and I can honestly say I had a really good time hanging out with her.  We talked about the normal ‘I barely know you’ stuff, tattoos and piercings, and the self-proclaimed ‘foodie’ told me a lot of restaurants I should try out.  Additionally, I learned Atlantic Station shows free movies every Thursday.  They’re showing HP7P1 the night before the new one premieres, so I’ll probably go.

Things I’ve learned:

-one of my roommates is actually Pakistani

-I’m addicted to Nutella on Ritz

-I’m really bad at using normal can openers

Oh, and Mom, I broke my hair dryer.

southern hospitality.

!cid__0603111135Today started off well. I listened to the KISS Morning Freak Show on my computer for awhile–those guys are seriously so hilarious.  Then I decided that I deserved to have a delicious breakfast, so I made myself Nutella crepes, and stuffed one of them with strawberry and kiwi.  They don’t look the prettiest, but man they were tasty.  Especially the plain Nutella ones, they got a little crunchy, kind of exactly like those straw-shaped chocolate stick wafer things my grandma always has. Mmmm.

I was running a little late because I decided to put a little effort into my appearance (I looked good) so I just sort of walked by Feast Friday on my way out and hoped there would still be food when I got back.  I was on the escalator heading down to the train when a guy starts running down it, so I figured the train must be close to leaving. I never look up times because there’s one every ten minutes or so, but I couldn’t afford to wait that long, so I ran after him.  I got my butt in a seat just as the doors closed.  I was kind of proud.

At this point I should mention that I didn’t feel that well when I woke up so I blame none of this paragraph on my breakfast.  I got to the seminar room and started really not feeling that well.  I was sweating all over and feeling kind of lightheaded.  I figured I could either hope for the best and push it through, or I could get up and leave now just in case something happened.  I was sitting in the back, so to leave I’d either have to move a bunch of extra chairs out of the way on one side, or jump over a bunch of computer cords on the other.  If there was a chance I was getting sick, I figured I should probably leave while I was still able to tackle those obstacles.  I was REALLY lightheaded by the time I reached the door, so I stopped there to get it together, and I told Dr. Marton I was going to step outside.  Luckily, I’d passed the bathrooms on the way in so I knew they were right around the corner.  I say luckily, because as soon as I stepped out of the room I got dizzy and had to stumble my way there.  I slammed my head into the wall twice and almost passed out repeatedly.  When I got to the bathroom, I didn’t even have enough in me to open the door so I just collapsed on the floor.  A few seconds later, Cassie came running around the corner to check on me (I wonder if she heard me hit the wall…).  She ran back to the room and grabbed the bowl of chocolates that had been passed around so I could get some sugar in me, and then she went and found me a Coke.  Those helped a lot, I was now at least completely coherent.  She was really concerned and kept asking if she should take me somewhere, but if you know me, you know I said no.  Instead, she just related to me, asking if I’d ever passed out before and keeping me talking so I would stay alert.  She had also grabbed Caroline, the econ office manager who we’d met the other day, and she went and found me some Aleve.  Caroline and the other office worker, Cassandra, kept coming to check on me, and Caroline said that whenever I felt ready she would take me home so I wouldn’t have to do the MARTA thing.  I was really thankful for that.  The whole thing seemed like maybe 25 minutes to me, but it turns out I was in the hallway/bathroom for about an hour.

When I was ready to go, Caroline couldn’t get a hold of her husband to get her car, so another woman ended up taking me back.  I got to see some cool buildings on the way, and noticed there’s a little park that has fountains like Triangle.  She told me I should check out Georgia Tech’s summer program schedule since I’m living right across the street from them.  Apparently, they close down one of their streets a few times to show a movie.  When I got back, Feast Friday was still going on, so I grabbed some cheese and crackers and Sunny D to eat later.  I went to sleep and actually just woke up about a half hour ago.  When I checked my email, I had one from Julia asking how I was doing, saying I’d really scared everyone. It also asked if she could get my number so we could hang out some time. Yay for friends!

i figured out how chinese places make their chicken look fake.

Cooking adventures number 1: chicken should be simple, right?

Not for me. Not today at least. I made the mistake of assuming the chicken was boneless, and because I wanted to make chicken alfredo, I had the joys of cutting all the meat off the bones.  I also bought thighs. I don’t know why… to save money, I guess. I had oil sitting in the pan and for some reason my logic said I couldn’t just sit the chicken I cut up on it unless I turned on the heat at least a little. The cutting process was slow and I knew it would take awhile to fill the pan up, so I just turned it on simmer.  When I finally was ready to turn up the heat and cook it, I noticed that the sides down on the oil had turned that weird it doesn’t look real texture.  And because I used thighs it had weird color too.  Pretty much looked exactly like Chinese chicken.  I was scared.  I finished cooking it, put in a container (Publix doesn’t sell storage containers, so all of my leftovers will be in pie pans), and put it in the fridge.  I’ll try eating it tomorrow.  My dinner consisted of a cookie and fresh pineapple instead.

Before I had to come charge my computer, I was talking to my friend Annie. She’s interning in Colorado Springs for Focus on the Family.  I just got to thinking about how God has been so good to us.  Over the years, we’ve been denied a number of positions, but here we are this summer in about the greatest spots we could be in.  We’ve worried and stressed unnecessarily.  I don’t completely understand why, but in my life especially, nothing ever happens until I think all the options have passed. I don’t know why I never get the job until later, or why I only got accepted to the very last internship to respond.  A lesson of patience, perhaps?

As for tomorrow, I noticed the apartment is having a “raid our fridge until it’s empty” event starting at 1 pm.  I don’t need to leave for my seminar until 1:30 so I’ll probably hit that up, try meeting people again.  If I don’t make friends soon, I’m totally considering making an ad and posting it on the boards.  Do you think they’d let me do that?  It would read something like:

HI! I’m new here and I need friends!

I’m a sports enthusiast and a bit of a geek.

Kara, 809B.

this has the makings of a beautiful day.

And it’s only 1:00!

!cid__0602111009I left 40 minutes early today, and got to AYPS with 20 minutes to spare.  In orientation, Isaac had mentioned that GSU had bought the AYPS building from a bank and there was still a vault downstairs so I decided to check it out. I guessed correctly that the ‘V’ button in the elevator meant vault. They’ve turned it into a research room and I learned that’s where they keep all the expensive materials that regular library cards won’t get you access to. There’s a guy who sits in there and watches you while you walk around. I bet they have LoanPerformance…

I met with Cristian and Gustavo, and they assigned me the problem about determining whether an economic crisis has an effect on fiscal decentralization in Latin America.  Gustavo will be my main mentor. He explained the problem to me a little more and mapped out what the next few weeks will look like before giving me about 100 pages to read to further understand the concepts. I’m really excited about the problem.  He knows about my math background and I told him about math modeling and he said he’s really tempted to push me to make a theoretical model, but just thinks the time constraint is too much. The math kid in me really wants a model, so I plan to get all my reading done this weekend (he’s sending me lit review to do after the background stuff). The main things I need to understand are fiscal decentralization and crises. As it turns out, that wonderful class I had with Doc in spring ’10 had me read This Time Is Different, by Reinhart and Rogoff, so when Gustavo started talking about how much work they’ve done on the topic, I was like, “Hey! I read one of their books!”  TTID was pretty much a review of all the types of crises, so I’m ahead in that area and don’t need any further review!

I left pretty much right after my meeting because my stomach was yelling at me. I decided I wanted to cook tonight, so it was time to go buy that cookware. I wasn’t paying attention and I walked down the wrong street a block after MARTA, but it led me by this restaurant called Steel that I think I might want to check out (probably just because the word steel reminds of a certain city that I like way too much). I got to Publix and found that the skillet was 6 dollars off today so I was feeling pretty good…then I remembered reading that they have really good sales so I decided to just do a walk around the store.  I got to the freezer aisle and that’s when I saw them. My eyes popped and my mouth dropped and I stared in awe for at least 20 seconds. Mrs. T’s. And they were buy one, get one free! I cannot explain to you how happy that made me.