Tuesday, December 30, 2008

random ramblings

2 more days and I'll be flying back to Boston. I feel like I'm forever packing and flying to places. I managed to do some packing today. Filled a suitcase with stuff. And then my brother taught me how to throw a football. haha. Anyway, I think this D-lab thing is almost at the point where we've done all that we care to do and just need to go there. Once we're there, I'm sure we'll find out how unprepared we are.

A new year is coming, should I make some new year resolutions? I feel like this upcoming year is very almost too unpredictable to plan. I hope I get into grad school and somehow find miraculous funding for it. But I guess new year resolutions are supposed to be personal. Exercise and floss more...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

SF day

I had a strange dream last night about Cam and couldn't sleep well after that. Maybe it's because I met up with Stella today in San Francisco. Stella is doing her America trip. I found out she's never even been to NYC!! Anyway, we did quite few things today. We went to Pier 39, Fort Mason, Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Lombard Street, Chinatown, Haight District. I'm so tired.

This vacation has been full of eating out, sleeping, reading, and not doing much. A lot of eating out actually. I really met to exercise but it's been so cold out lately. I think I freeze for the first 15 minutes of being outside.

Anyway, last weekend home. I can't believe I'm going to be going back to MIT on Thursday. So soon. I haven't done half the things I said I would do. And they're pretty important. I know I'm going to be incapacitated once I get back due to the jetlag...

Friday, December 26, 2008


Every Christmas morning, we go through the same routine. My brother and I would wake up and call our cousins. We wait for them to come before we open presents. It's always a fun event. The presents were cool, as always. My mom likes the GPS but we're having trouble making it stay in one place. It keeps falling.

Anyhow, now that my brother's busy building things with his Erector Set, maybe I can get some more serious work done. I think these Erector sets are definitely a step up from Legos and K'nex. Each has their own distinctive features though but I the models from Erector are more sophisticated. At the very least, he'll get to play with nuts, bolts, and washers. At some point, I'll get him Mindstorm but he's definitely not ready for that yet.

Also, something really funny happened. My brother and I were building something from the set when the cat started poking around. Snowball was really interested in all the little things in Victor's box. He likes marbles and how they roll around and make sounds on the floor. So he really wanted in on these erector pieces. The funny part is that this happened the last year too! I think he was really interested in a Binonical set last year and even sat on the cardboard. Or maybe that was 2 years ago? Anyway, the cat seems to always be interested in Victor's Christmas presents. So cute. Victor, of course, does not think this is cute at all and is worried that Snowball will run off with a piece.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


It's good to be home. I really like Oakland's Chinatown. You can find everything you ever need and want. I went out there for lunch these past two days. On Monday, I met up with some friends from middle school. We got pho and chatted for a long time while looking at all the phone charms in Chinatown. We went into 3 or 4 trinket shops. Seriously, you can get everything you could possibly want. We managed to bump into another friend on the street. It's interesting how we're all at this uncertain point in our lives. What are you going to do next year?

On Tuesday, I went to Chinatown again, this time with a friend who's at Stanford. We went to this cheap cafe place. We got the 2 specials of the day and the bill was $8.70. The special even came with milk tea.

On Wednesday, I did some massive cooking. My mom was thinking about where to go out for lunch when I pointed out we have a ton of food in the house. I stuck a frozen lasagna in the oven and some hot pockets in the microwave. Victor really liked those hot pockets and ate 3 that day. And then I decided to attack the pumpkin the grandma brought over. She grew it herself. It's huge. Apparently that's just one of three. Family didn't know what to do with pumpkins. I had my brother carve it apart. He carved a face into one side. I steamed parts of it and we salvaged the seeds. Then I tried to make pumpkin puree with a hand mixer but it didn't break everything up since it doesn't have any blades. I made soup with this goop but it wasn't very popular. So then I pureed the rest of them in a blender and made a pie and some muffins. The muffins were terrible. Must've skipoed a step.

Later on Wednesday, I went to dinner with my high school math club teacher and three girls who were on the team as freshman when I was a senior. So all three just graduated and is starting college. They were in math club for 4 years. We went to a sushi place. Seriously going to get fat eating like this everyday.

I did some packing for Sierra Leone yesterday. My brother was packing for his Yosemite trip so I started digging through the house for stuff too. We have a lot of junk. Wayy too much junk. I found everything I was hoping to find so I feel better about this whole thing now. Can't believe I'll be going there in less than 2 weeks. I feel a lot more travel savvy now than when I went to Germany but still, this is different. We're supposed to be going in there and helping people. Seriously, these people who we're trying to help know so much more than we do, are so much wiser. We're going to show up with our gadgets and they're not going to believe us, a bunch of kids.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

And there goes another semester...

Wow, I can't believe this semester is over. I did an unbelievable amount of stuff. 5 classes, one of which is D-Lab and 2 CI-Hs, worked part time, and applied to grad school. Some people take 3 classes when they apply to grad school. But I guess those people are applying to PhD programs and it's a little more serious.

I feel like I've learned a lot though. My two HASS classes were very rewarding. 500 years worth of East Asian history. Ability to understand basic linguistics stuff. Granted we didn't go into anything in detail but I think I got enough background now to do some self-studying. I think I understand the world a lot better now that I've taken this East Asian history class. And linguistics is so useful. I'm glad the American university system is not like England's. I don't think it's healthy to specialize so much.

In a little more than 2 weeks, I'll be leaving for Sierra Leone. We have to transfer twice and make 3 stops before we get there. It will not be a fun flight. My flight home was delayed an hour and then we had to make a stop in Utah to refuel. At some point, I got so tired, I just slept. I got back home at 2am Pacific time. I was totally out of it by the time I got back. And I was coming home where I knew my parents would take care of stuff. I can just see the 7 of us being extremely tired by the time we get there and have to deal with getting from the Lungi airport to wherever it is we're going.

Anyway, we're so not ready. I feel like there are a lot of little details we haven't taken care of yet. Luggage, who's bringing what, how much cash to bring, gifts, etc. And then there are bigger things like learning Krio and Temne. And rammed earth project wise, we need a packing list, some more calculations, specs of the test structure, and some surveying skills. Woah, better get started soon...

At some point, I need to think more seriously about this summer. I think ideally, I would want to get an internship in either geotech or environmental consulting. I talked to the course 1 internship coordinator the other day and he gave me some good contacts, including someone working in consulting for creating constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment. That would be awesome to work on. On the other hand, there are things like the Kawamura Fellowship where they basically pay you to visit Japan. It sounds like a really cool opportunity to do company visits, see the country, do homestays, and such. I think I'm even qualify to do this since I can show "genuine interest in Japan."

Of course, this all depends on what I'm doing next year in terms of grad school. Now that I'm back in the Bay Area, I should really try to meet professors at Berkeley and Stanford. I should get moving on that too...

Anyhow, home is good. Snowball is still as fat as ever. Brother is playing basketball now that flag football is over. The house is stocked with plenty of food. Friends want to meet up. My two weeks home is starting to fill up with appointments. I've been home for a day and all I wanted to do is sleep and mope around. Sigh...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Grad school apps... Done!

I'm finally done with applying to grad schools. Can you believe it? I submitted all 4 applications today. I feel sooo accomplished. Now I need to look for fellowships and scholarships. It never ends...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Reflections on this past week

For those who care, I will be submitting my grad school apps for Berkeley, Stanford, and MIT Sunday morning!! Cornell will come shortly after. Too much pressure...

Last week was possibly the most stressful week ever. I had 2 psets, 2 presentations, and 2 10-page research papers. I stayed up wayy pass my bedtime every night. Took naps during the day. And still managed to attend a 2 hour ESP elections meeting, work for 3 hours, and do a bunch of D-Lab stuff. But it's over. I think I managed to do decently on all the stuff above. I think clicking "play" on my entire music collection helped. Now I'm just waiting for grades to start popping up. I have one final on Wednesday and then I go home.

Part of me can't wait to go home. Just to take a break from all this craziness. But part of me wishes I had booked a flight for later so I can work on D-Lab stuff. We're leaving for Sierra Leone in 20 days!! Yalu and I started packing. But I don't think the reality of it all has hit us yet.

I feel like a lot of things this year has been like "I can't believe I'm going to ... tomorrow!" I remember being pretty dazed after taking the GRE and the next thing I know I was on a plane to MIT. And then D-Lab happened. That class went from me not sure if I want to take it, to getting into the class, to finding out about going to Africa, to working on school construction, and now going to Africa. Grad school stuff sort of happened in between all this.

Anyway, this crazy semester is almost over. I think I learned a lot. Possibly the most I've ever learned in one semester. I hope I managed to get some decent grades...