my day on set: the dark knight rises.

**Expect spoilers.  I’ll warn you before they get bad.

To begin this story, it’s appropriate to rewind to the various nights I spent sitting in my bed on the Internet in Atlanta.  I was on Twitter when I saw it:  Dark Knight Rises needs extras in Heinz Field!  I immediately got upset, because, of course something unbelievably awesome would happen while I was sitting around in Georgia.  I clinked on a link that led me to this—http://boringpittsburgh.com/what-to-do-412/batman-dark-knight-rises-filming-heinz-field-extras/#more-6956, and then got super excited when I noticed the filming wasn’t until August!  There was a small period of hesitation when I realized that the film date was during the weekend I had planned on going to Lexington for Math Fest, but I prioritized my love for Batman, Heinz Field, and football over my love for math and signed up right then.  It’s a darn good thing I did this too, because spots filled within the week.

Back to Friday, August 5th—I made plans to stay with my cousin Chris who lives in Pittsburgh since I had to get the Bat Shuttle at 6:15.  Naturally I had my day planned out to shower, pack, and eat last minute before heading over to his place around 6 pm.  Also naturally, this plan was interrupted by my aunt inviting us to a town festival outside of Pittsburgh that night where The Clarks were going to be playing.  I really like The Clarks, and I’d never seen them live, so of course I made this happen.  Typical to my life, however, this could not go smoothly.

Irritation number 1: I had only forty minutes to get ready, and my brother decided to hop in the shower.

Irritation number 2: My keys were MIA. I searched the house at least three times to no avail and ended up borrowing my brother’s keys.

Irritation number 3: As I scarfed down my food up the road and was rushing to head out, I remembered that I left my cousin’s address at home and would have to stop back.

Irritation number 4: I forgot that the road is closed and had to turn around and go the long way.

Irritation number 5: I pulled up way too close at the gas station and didn’t have enough room to stand in front of the tank while still being in view of the pump screen.  I was annoyed enough at this point that it was irritating.

I eventually get to my aunt’s house, and we and my friend Missy eventually make it to Chris’s, and we all eventually make it to the show.  And it was a lot of fun.

 ***

Even though filming was at Heinz Field, we had to park behind Civic Arena on the other side of the city.  I got there around six to catch the Bat Shuttle.  It was really disappointing to discover the shuttle was just a regular school bus.

I was within the first 1,000 people to arrive at Heinz, and was seated about 20 rows back with an aisle seat in a section facing the corner.  I sat there for a few minutes until I saw that people were being escorted into the end zone seats.  At this time, I turned on my charm and asked the usher if I could go over there.  I now sat 5 rows back and 4 seats in from the tunnel by a funny short couple and a couple from Boston that had flown in just for this.  This back part of the stadium continued to fill, all the way up to the top.  The people seated in section 218 probably weren’t happy with their seats, so they started to get really rowdy (rowdy for 7 am at least) and began chanting, “2-1-8! 2-1-8!”  While the crew was setting up on field, one of the liaisons came over to talk to us about what we would be doing.  She made a strong point that we weren’t extras, we were going to be actors.  Of course we all assumed that she was just telling us this to make us feel special, but it really did turn out to be true.  The first scene that they shot was the national anthem.  The kid singing wasn’t all that good; I’m not sure how he got the part.  There is a chance I could be seen in this shot.  Looking at the video on the Jumbotron, I’m right over his shoulder.  I might not be recognizable, but I’ll probably be able to pause the film, count seats, and be pleased.

After an hour of the national anthem, they began moving people around to fill up the left side of the stadium.  The bottom tier was already full, so all of the end zone people, the first people to arrive, got moved up into the club level.  This turned thousands of happy people into bitter, angry people.  Aside from the frustration, I kept thinking about how great of a seat that would have been at a real football game.  Here’s a shot from my new seat looking towards my old seat.

!cid__0806111032_0001_0001Once everyone was moved, they brought out the Rogues and the Monuments.  The first thing I noticed was that there were two 86s on the Rogues team.  My first thought was, “Does Hines Ward need a stunt double?”  If you are unaware, TDKR really embraced Pittsburgh football for this scene.  A list of players/coaches, copy/pasted directly from an email:

ROGUES P L A Y E R S

#91 Aaron Smith

#7 Ben Roethlisberger

#99 Brett Kiesel

#13 Dan Rooney

#83 Heath Miller

#86 Hines Ward

#24 Ike Taylor

#51 James Farrior

#92 James Harrison

#56 LaMarr Woodley

#53 Maurkice Pouncey

#17 Mike Wallace

#25 Ryan Clark

#43 Troy Polamalu

ROGUES COACHES

Bill Cowher

Kevin Colbert

Kelvin Fisher

Omar Kahn

Bruce McNorton

Dan Prunzik

Matt Smith

MONUMENTS P L A Y E R S

#19 Luke Ravenstahl

How awesome is that?  We began doing the national anthem again.  They first did the Rogues sideline, and then the Monuments.  Since there were only about 12,000 extras, they had the Rogues and Monuments switch sidelines, told us all to put down any signs we had, and had us face the other direction to create the illusion that we were different people on the other side of the field.  All in all, there were probably about 4 hours spent on the national anthem.

There was a short rain delay around 10:30, and while we waited for the crew to bring all the equipment back out, we did a very spirited wave.  This might not have been a real football game, but just being in that stadium surrounded by black and gold was amazing.

There are spoilers from here on out. I’m talking what happens in the movie in detail type of spoilers, so if that will ruin things for you, stop reading.  Only one more sentence after this one to make up your mind.  All right, here we go.

It was time to watch some football.  Mayor Luke kicked off and Hines Ward ran down the field. Over and over and over.  I’m not complaining though, it was AWESOME cheering him on in Heinz Field surrounded by black and gold fans waving our crappy Terrible Towel substitute yellow bandana things.  It was exhilarating.

All of us in the stands were still wondering what the heck was with the raised part of the field.  At about this time, we were told it was time for explosions! They put off one of the explosives, then told us to imagine it times sixty.  This is why we were given earplugs.  It was time for us to act.  We were told that Bane was going to explode the field, and that we should react accordingly.  The excitement could be felt.  The director (not Nolan, an assistant maybe?) guided us through practice runs. “Hines has the ball….he’s running down the field….still running…touchdown!!!….BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!” You get the picture.  As soon as he yelled boom, the cheers turn immediately to screams.  People run.  People duck.  The people in my section, myself included, started climbing back rows of seats and climbing over the railing to get to the next level where doors were closer.  It was a work out after a lot of takes, and by the time the actual filming happened, no one was doing this anymore, which is kind of sad.  It would have been good footage. So yeah, the field blows up and all the players disappear.  No happy ending there.  I was right about Hines needing a stunt double.  They did some takes of him running on the field addition weaving around holes the other players fall into.  This makes me think the touchdown will not occur in the movie.

Pre-explosion field.  The little balls of grass are the explosives.  When the movie is made, only the green addition will be left.  The rest of the field will be a giant pit.

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We got a break again and the crew brought out some tumblers just so we could cheer and feel cool.  Hines rode one out at some point.  Coach Cowher announced a set of raffle prizes, and he was hilarious.  The Rooneys made an appearance.  It was a good time to be a Steelers fan.  When it was time to go again, we !cid__downsized_0806111221heard that Bane would be coming out to speak to us.  We were to be the first people to see him in full costume, which is pretty cool.  He’s some type of militant, but is wearing a mask that makes it hard to understand him.  I’m hoping this was just explosion-protection and won’t be for the whole movie.  We acted scared as he told us to “take control of [our] city” and killed a guy.

There came another really long break, and things became miserable.  It was insanely hot.  Crew members were throwing us endless water bottles and popsicles, but it wasn’t helping.  I was glad they required us to bring umbrellas, the shade was nice but still not enough.  How better to please a crowd than throwing shirts, right?  Wrong.  They didn’t have a t-shirt launcher, so only the lower levels got any.  My section watched in increasing frustration as about every person in the section behind the goal got a shirt.  WE should have gotten those shirts.  Angry chants began, which worked for section 218, but not us.  We never got any shirts.  They switched tactics and decided to have a singing competition.  People could go down to the front and sing a chorus to their favorite song.  This was not a good idea for thousands of irritated people.  The crowd was brutal, at one point even starting a “Bring back CJ” chant, and we all knew that kid was barely any good.  A few more takes were done of crowd shots and we were done.   All the prizes were raffled off and I didn’t win anything.  It took forever (at least an hour) to get out of the stadium and the heat was even worse in the tunnels.  Yes, the end of the day absolutely sucked, but I’d still do it again.  Heinz Field + Batman = awesome.

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dc tales: days 3-5.

Our third day started extra early with a 90 minute cruise to Mt. Vernon.  We spent 3 hours there touring the grounds and eating.  I had some sort of peanut butter and water chestnut soup.  Just being adventurous, you know how it is.  With another 90 minute cruise back, I finally began to develop the tan I had hoped Atlanta would grant me.  We spent the rest of the day visiting all of the other memorials:  Jefferson, FDR, Korean, Lincoln, and Vietnam.  It was horribly hot, but our timing was blessed and we got hit with a lot of sprinklers walking between two of the monuments.  That might have been the highlight of the day.  All of that walking paired with all of the day before’s walking meant I got to have my first taxi ride.

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I think the fourth day was my favorite.  We walked to Capitol Hill and then went over to one of the Library of Congress buildings.  That building is the nicest building I’ve ever seen.  We got to see Thomas Jefferson’s library, but none of the actual library since we weren’t part of a tour.  Next we walked through the Grant Memorial.  There were ducks there.  The things look like such idiots with their heads down in the water.  We were on our way to the Museum of Crime and Punishment when I noticed a building ahead called Red Velvet Cupcakes.

We of course stopped, and I had some delicious cupcakes.  I think my favorite was the summer cupcake.  It was lemony with cream cheese icing and shredded coconut.  Back to the museum–I really liked it; it just has a really cool set up.  My brother had told me I would like the handcuff jewelry in the gift shop.  I wanted a pair of earrings but they didn’t have any, and for this reason, we stopped at the International Spy Museum’s gift shop.  They had some.  I bought them.  We went to the wax museum after this and had some fun with the presidents.

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I was able to convince my family to let me find a Thai restaurant for dinner.  We went to Mai Thai, and it was delicious.

On the way home the next day, we went to Toby’s Dinner Theater in Maryland.  They were putting on Anything Goes.  It was cool, and we got a lot of good food.

Random:  One day while we were trying to catch the subway at Metro Station, there was a huge hold up because someone had jumped on the tracks earlier on that rail-line.  We had to wait a long time for the trains to start coming again.  My dad and I managed to shove our way on to the second train, but my mom and brother had to catch the third.  I legitimately mean I shoved people to get through.  That’s one of the things I learned was necessary in Atlanta.  Why this story is of note though, is because just a few days ago I was at dinner when my friend Mike started talking about how he spent his summer there.  It turns out we were both in the station for this event.  Small world.

dc tales: days 1 & 2.

For the past few years, the idea of living in D.C. has been tossing about in my head.  There are so many opportunities there in the financial math/economics industry, and I think I would really enjoy working for the BEA or BLS.  This being said, before this month, I had never been to the capital.

If the first place my family stopped was called Schmankerl Stube, you know this vacation will have to be interesting.  Schmankerl Stube is a Bavarian restaurant in Maryland that my dad wanted to try.

Vacation Lesson 1: No one likes Bavarian food. If you’re going to go Eastern European, go German.

For dinner we went to Medieval Times.  I got pretty skeptical when the first thing they gave me was a paper crown.  Those are only acceptable at Burger King.  My disdain for the place only continued as we waited for the doors to open.  By the time I left, my opinion had almost taken a 180.  The food was delicious, and my dad’s over-enthusiasm for eating a ginormous hunk of chicken with his bare hands was hilarious.  The jousting was a bit too obviously choreographed, but entertaining anyway.  The knights did have to do some skill games, so those were cool.  It’s the kind of thing you can definitely get into if you want.  My brother lost his voice cheering, but I’ve always been more apt to booing.  We were assigned one knight to root against, so that worked out for me.  The show wasn’t just jousting though; there was a sort of play built around it.  The acting by the king and princess was horrendous.  So bad, it almost beat out the free-flying falcon as my least favorite part.  Almost.

Vacation Lesson 2: You are never safe from birds.

Day two started off with an early morning shuttle ride.  On the shuttle with us was this other family.  They come into play later.  This day I got to experience the D.C. subway system.  When my mom came to visit me in Atlanta, she told me D.C.’s subway was nicer.  Here’s my breakdown of D.C. versus Atlanta:

Pro: More lines.  You can get pretty much anywhere in D.C. by subway. ATL only has North/South and East/West lines.  Everywhere else you have to take a bus to, or in my case, walk.

Cons: Padded seats–ATL’s seats were hard plastic.  In my mind that translates to more sanitary.  The smell–for the most part, Atlanta didn’t have one. D.C. was often rank.

Anyway, our first stop of the day was to Arlington Cemetery.  It’s really something when there are graves as far as your eyes can see in every direction and you know that not every veteran is buried there.  My brother pointed out that no matter which direction you look (up, over, diagonal), the gravestones make perfect lines.  While we were there, we got to go through the Robert E. Lee house that is still being redone.  There is a really nice lookout spot just behind the house.  After Arlington, we headed over to the Pentagon City Mall to eat.  Food vouchers are awesome.  We then went to the Washington Monument and the WWII Memorial before going to the Holocaust Museum.  As you go in, they have these little booklets about different victims to help make the experience more authentic; David was the only one whose Holocaust alter-ego survived.  I should mention that it’s over 100 degrees out and we’re all completely miserable having already walked several miles.

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Lesson 3:  You shouldn’t only bring shoes with no cushion or support on this type of vacation.  Sorry feet.

For this reason we decided to only stop at one Smithsonian: the Museum of Natural History.  We didn’t even bother to tread past the second floor.  Thankfully, the Old Post Office, which we had more food vouchers for, was just a short walk away.  Possibly my favorite part of the day was going up the Old Post Office tower.  It’s a really pretty spot, and it felt so good with a breeze coming through.  You can also get off the elevator on the level of the bells.  I’d add pictures, but they’re all still on my phone.  I really need to get a memory card…

We caught the shuttle back to the hotel at the same time as that other family.  It was a crowded ride, and I was between my dad and the other dad.  Both of them started singing along to the Prince song on the radio.  When we got back, we decided to go use the pool and hot tub.  So did that other family.  When we were done doing that, we decided to order a pizza.  My brother and I went down into the lobby to get some tea and coffee, and guess who was sitting there eating a pizza?  I say all this because just the night before, my brother and I were discussing whether or not their were any families out there like ours.  We found one.

atlanta: the end, part 2.

After the internship, I had a good 5 days left in Atlanta.  I obviously used this time to seek out all the best restaurants I could get to with MARTA and my feet, and I must say I’m quite pleased with what I was able to discover.  On Friday, I walked a few blocks up to Colonial Square to go to Tamarind Seed, a Thai restaurant (my favorite!) that was recommended by a fellow intern.  I had the Gang-Phed, a red curry.  It. Was. Soooooooo good!  I’m talking the kind of good where I didn’t even care that I couldn’t recognize half of the vegetables in it–knowing what I’m eating is usually very important.  This being said, I still think I’d take both of the Thai places I’ve had in Cali (Star of Siam, Long Beach & Thai Dishes, Santa Monica) over this one.

On Saturday, my mom flew in for a short visit.  When she got in, we went to Mary Mac’s for dinner.  I found this place online when I was searching for the best sweet tea in Atlanta, and it was also recommended to me as “a place to take your mom”.  They do have the best sweet tea I’ve ever had, and lots of people were there with their moms.  It’s a nice place, with a bunch of separate dining rooms in different colors.  To the MP people:  It kind of reminded me of Carson’s in the way that it wound all around.  At Mary Mac’s, you write down your order and hand it to the waitress.  I found that interesting.  My mom and I both got the vegetable platters, which include meat choices, so I think it would be more accurately named “side dish platter”.  I got mine with broccoli souffle, Brunswick stew, tomato pie, and fried green tomatoes.  The first two were great, the last two not so much, but at least I can say I’ve tried some real southern food.  I should also mention that they bring out a basket of assorted rolls, which contain some really delicious sweet rolls.  I love food, so I hope you guys don’t mind me talking about it so much.

My mom scored us free World of Coke and Aquarium tickets for Sunday afternoon, which meant I couldn’t go to church unless I woke up in time to get to the 8 am service.  I think I got about 3 hours of sleep that night, so waking did not happen.  I don’t know what it was about my bed there, but I never slept well.  The World of Coke was fun, as I expected it would be since my friend Zach said it’s his second favourite place on Earth.  I spell that the British way because I distinctly remember that’s how he spelled it when he texted me.  They have really cool Coke bottles everywhere, and a ton of lapel pins–I collect those.  I tried every flavor they had in their world tasting room, which should be a surprise to no one.  The only thing I didn’t like was the weird musical they make you watch.

The GA aquarium was pretty cool too. I liked the otters and the penguins the best.  You guys aren’t getting any pictures because the Internet in this hotel is really slow, and I can only imagine the horror uploading photos would bring.

That night I decided to take my mom to Midtown Vortex, mostly because I had a quesadilla when I went and I wanted to try a burger.  They’re supposedly the best.  Once I read that they made a burger with peanut butter, bananas, and bacon, I knew there was no way I could order anything else.  That burger was the Elvis burger, and it was surprisingly good.

My mom left on Monday morning, and after dropping her off I decided to head up to Sandy Springs (Hines Ward lives there!) and hit up their Goodwill.  I got some pretty sweet stuff.  Go figure, though, that because I once again knew nothing more about its location relative to MARTA–which was on a corner–than it was within a quarter mile, that the right direction was the last one I chose.  I spent 45 minutes walking down and back the other 3 streets.  It was hot, and I was both irritated with myself and laughing at myself.  There’s a French bistro in the same lot as Goodwill, so I stopped in for a drink and also ended up having two of their mini desserts as a reward for all the walking I’d done.  I had tiramisu and a chocolatey something, and they both were heavenly.

Tuesday morning, I ventured out to find some beignets.  This involved riding the East/West rails, which are more sketch than the North/South so I was a little worried that I might have been heading into a bad part of town.  The station I got off at was actually a really nice area, and I chose the right direction to get to The Beignet Connection on the first try!  The beignets were so good, and the service was super friendly.  I’d definitely go back.

Since I had to check out Tuesday afternoon, this was the last of my adventures.  I took these important life lessons back with me:

  • I love being independent
  • I absolutely want to live in a city
  • I absolutely do not want it to be Atlanta
  • Subways systems are really easy to maneuver
  • Different cultures can be extremely hard to live with
  • Cars are a nice luxury
  • I probably trust too many things to be safe (in regards to walking miles of the city alone)
  • I love economics more than math, but it involves a lot of math, so that’s okay
  • Sometimes, you just have to deal with creepy people
  • Tap water != safe water all the time–definitely thought the whole U.S. was good…
  • Exploring pays off

atlanta: the end, part 1.

I said I would finish writing about my time in Atlanta, and here I am! I really do apologize for taking so long. I’ll break the end into two parts, one for the internship, and one for all the other stuff I did.

My internship was wonderful.  I learned a lot of things pertaining to my topic, econometrics, how to do econ research, and what it’s like to be a grad student.  I had so much fun working with the data and trying to analyze which variables (I think I ended up picking 14) aside from the types of crises could have an effect on fiscal decentralization.  My mentor only gave me four–GDP, population, corruption, and urbanization.  Internal and external conflicts, ethnic tensions, the bank assets to GDP ratio, privatization, and entry barriers are some of the variables I added.  I spent days running regressions and making tables and got some statistically significant results for the inflation crisis!  I wrote a pretty nice paper, in my opinion, and it looks super legitimate because it has the GSU header on it.  My presentation went well, as did everyone else’s.

I was kind of sad when the job was over; we were a really fun group.  On the last day, we all decided to play a prank on Dr. Marton.  All summer he’d been telling us how they would put our picture on the main page of the GSU website, and we found out he really likes having his picture up.  Once we had our picture taken and he sent it to us, we photoshopped it and made a mock website. Here’s the screen shot:

So yeah, overall I really enjoyed this internship, but it did solidify for me that I don’t want to get a doctorate.

i’m cheap.

Sometimes. Like yesterday when I walked over 2 miles to Georgia State in the middle of the day instead of buying a one-way MARTA pass for $2–My monthly one expired, and I get a discounted one at the school. I had a nice juicy nectarine to keep me hydrated though.  I’m pretty sure at least half of my diet here is fruit. 

Yesterday afternoon we had a tour of the Atlanta Fed.  We first got to meet with Julie Hotchkiss, a labor economist there with ties to GSU.  I learned that there are several jobs I could get there with just my Bachelor’s, including one as a financial analyst, which is what I was pretty sure I wanted to do for a good amount of time.  It has a starting salary of $65K.  After meeting with her, we got to go upstairs to the boardroom.  I have to say, this is the nicest building I’ve ever seen.  Wooden floors, marble on the walls, high ceilings, expensive furniture…I was beginning to think, ‘holy taxpayer money’, when I remembered that the Fed is a private-owned institution.  Anyway, in the boardroom we met with a guy who does policy research.  He graduated college in ’09 and was definitely still really chill and not stuffy.  His position is more of a 2-3 transitional thing before going on to grad school.  Perfect.  Can you imagine if I got a job at the Cleveland Fed? At least it’s not Detroit.

I went into work a little after this.  For some reason, there’s been someone at my desk in the ISP, so I’ve been working on the 6th floor where most of the other interns are.  Kendon, Stephen, and Julia were there and we had a good time talking/complaining while we worked.  At about 6:00 I went to dinner with Stephen and Julia even though I had already eaten, but I was done with my work for the day so I figured why the heck not.  We went to the German Biergarten and I enjoyed a nice tall glass of ice water.  I love the taste of free.

We rushed out of there to make it back to school to meet up for the Braves game.  Possibly the most entertaining part of the game was the fact that we were sitting under the big lights, so once it got dark there were these little bugs everywhere.  The Braves ended up winning won 4-0 and put on a good fireworks show at the end.  Those may have to count as my 4th of July fireworks.  I think I’ve been home for the 4th once in the past five years.  Twice it was Cali, then it was camp, now I’m here…so needless to say, I’m not going to be bummed to spend it writing my paper.  Riding MARTA back after the game was fun/insane.  While waiting for the train I ended up talking to these Orioles fans (what?! I know. I know.).  They were also Steelers/Pens fans.  The story was something like the dad was from Pittsburgh and the mom from Baltimore but she was a Colts fan so it was okay.  Makes sense since the Colts were originally there.  I never would have talked to them except I heard the guy talking about how in Pittsburgh the whole city’s emotions are tied to wins and losses, and thinking it was just some dumb Baltimore fan, I chimed in ‘woo Pittsburgh!’  When the train finally came we were all packed in like sardines and I talked some people my age.  It was a pretty hilarious time.

As for the rest of the weekend, Cassie invited me over to her place to work/swim/cookout.  I might go over tomorrow afternoon.

So yeah, it might have taken half the program, but good friendships are finally forming.

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.