Monday, July 9, 2012


    There’s been a lot of working this summer so far, but it’s been nice to sprinkle in some fun times as well, and explore a city and state that I’ve never been to before. Overall, the University of Michigan has a beautiful campus, and Ann Arbor is quite the charming town. There’s too much to talk about, but I’ll give a few highlights from my time here so far:

Cedar Point
    A fantastic amusement park in Sandusky, OH, all of us REU students got to spend a full day soaking in the awesome rollercoasters and thrill rides the second week we were here. One of the best parts was just getting to know each other a whole lot more. During the week, most of us work anywhere from 8:00AM-9:00PM, so there’s not a whole lot of time for socialization (plus we’re dead tired after a long day in the lab), so it was fun getting to talk and hangout all day together. Cedar Point’s famous for a lot of it’s unique roller coasters. My favorite was definitely the Top Thrill Dragster! The ride only lasts 17 sec. but the hour or so wait was definitely worth it! It begins by accelerating from 0-120 mph in less than four seconds! The second time around, my roommate Matt and I waited for the front seat (this is what it looked like through my eyes). We could literally feel our cheeks being pulled back, it was beautiful!

Farmer’s Market
    Ann Arbor’s got a great farmers market, which certainly did not disappoint. I bought possibly the best cinnamon role I’ve ever had, and will certainly be returning soon.
No caption necessary

Fourth of July at Comerica Park!
    To celebrate America’s birthday, five of us decide to attend the Detroit Tiger’s game. I’m a big baseball fan, and besides the activities planned for us through the REU program, this was the one thing I really wanted to do in my time here. The day was quite the adventure, we arrived at the park just before a monsoon swept in and delayed the game 2.5 hours. Luckily things cooled down quite a bit after the storm passed (went from 101 to 75 degrees!) and we were able to snag some great seats in the upper deck. The ballpark was beautiful and fun to see, and to top off the night, we got to see a great fireworks show from the outfield after the game. It was another sweet opportunity to get to know the other guys and gals in the program some more too.
With friends, right before the monsoon arived.

Our fantastic seats!

Fireworks. Unfortunately a day late (the game ended at 12:30), but nonetheless spectacular!

Henry Ford Museum and Greenwich Village
    This past weekend, our program got check out the historic Greenwhich village and the Henry Ford Museum. I grew up loving cars (and still do), so it was awesome to see and learn about the evolution of the automobile. The place is filled with tons of items of other historical significance including: the chair Lincoln was assassinated in, the car JFK was shot in, and the bus Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. It’s cool to see all the physical historical evidence that I grew up learning about in textbooks first hand. Greenwich village accurately portrays what life and industry was like early in America’s history. We got to see what printing, pottery, tin-making, knitting, and even baseball was like long ago. It’s amazing how technology has transformed our society and how much easier things are today.

Thomas Edison's chemistry lab. This was a big hit with our group!

The president's official vehicle

The bus that helped spark the Civil Rights Movement

I assembled a Model-T!

1860s baseball, America's pastime

The Annual Pecoraro Group Christmas in July Party
    During the holidays, almost everyone in my lab travels home for the holidays (which is really nice compared to some other labs, where you have to stay and work), so there’s an annual x-mas party every year in July, when everyone’s around. The party is held at our principal investigator, Vince’s house, which is amazing. He’s an art lover, and has paintings on just about every single wall. He gave me the entire tour, and has a fantastic collection, which includes original works from masters such as Dalí, Miro, and more!
    After a few hours of socializing, it was time for the feast! Everyone made and brought a dish to share, there was so much good food. About half of our lab members are from overseas, so there was so much new, delicious food to try. I overate, everything was so good.
    The night climaxes in the annual secret santa gift exchange. There’s a $5 limit on each gift, and there were a lot of funny gag gifts. I ended up coming home with a pretty sweet hot cocoa set. Nothing better in the middle of July than some nice, hot chocolate! We ended the night playing an intense game of Apples to Apples. It was a great time!

Matteo, a visiting professor from Italy, and the naughty Italian-English translation book he gifted

I was a big winner! Cocoa time!

    The fun has not ceased yet, many more cool things await in the rest of my stay here, it’s been a blast so far!

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