Sunday, January 31, 2010

Midterms are coming??

Last night I just got the most depressing email ever. I found out that my fluids class (hardest class this quarter) has a final on the 11th, not the 18th like I had thought... I had been wanting to verify the date for the longest time since I got to class late that day and missed the announcement. The bad thing is that I also have a midterm on the 12th. Oy... Well, I guess the bright side is that I will get those two out of the way instead of spending 3 weeks in agony. And I also don't think I will have any homework due that week. So it's not like last quarter where two of my classes didn't have any tests at all but had a homework due every week so there was no break at all. Not sure which one I prefer.

Today was a fairly productive day. I'm feeling pretty tired now and don't want to do any more work. I just finished eating dinner with some friends. We invited a few of our neighbors over for dinner. It wasn't supposed to be a whole lot of work since I had just planned to stir fry some chicken that I had already marinated. But of course, I wanted to do something more and tried to make deep fried mantou. That didn't work out exactly like I had hoped... Anyway, the actual food was pretty good. I impressed myself with the chicken. I think I like this marinating business. Seems to be working out every time. This means I should buy soy sauce in bigger quantities!

After dinner, I called my parents and Yalu while cleaning up the kitchen and making oatmeal for the week. The guys helped a lot with the dishes. Again, it would've been very little dishes had I not attempt this mantou business. Sigh... Anyhow, I think I have enough food to last a while now. We had leftover veggies and chicken. I had also cooked some beef yesterday. And lots of eggplant. I still have a lot of eggplant I haven't cooked. I hope eggplant is good for runners because that's going to be in every meal this week! I also got some beets which I haven't tried yet. I think tomorrow I will make a strawberry+beet+yogurt+tofu smoothie. The bananas aren't ripped enough yet.

Yesterday (Saturday), I went to eat pho with AAGSA (Asian American Grad Student Association). I think there's better pho in Oakland! Went grocery shopping and got bubble tea after that. I did managed to get some work done in the afternoon and evening. But basically, this weekend revolved around food. Grocery shopping takes so long around here because we have to drive. And if we stop for food and such, the entire thing is like a 3 hour event. I guess it's better than sitting in my room reading notes and doing homework the entire day. Need to be outside at least once a day.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sudden urge to deep fry stuff

Okay, I just spent the entire day reading notes for my multiphase fluid flow class. It was going really slow but I thought I understood stuff. And then I read the homework. It's much shorter this time. No big story to read through. But it's definitely testing my understanding of the material. Namely, I have no clue how to do any of the problems!! Argh! Why did I purposely choose the hardest class I could find? I'm not exaggerating here either. There were several easier classes I could've taken... Sigh...

So in conclusion, I haven't been very productive today at all. However, I did develop an urge to deep-fry everything I can imagine. I think sometime this weekend (probably Saturday), I will be doing some serious deep-frying, including mantou. I used to love deep fried mantou. The ones that come with sweetened condensed milk. Yum... I'll invite people if it's a success. If not, I guess I will end up with just steamed mantou... hm... no so exciting...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Where did the quarter go??

Wow, I can't believe it's already the end of the 4th week! There are only 10 weeks total so... the quarter is almost half way over... So scary! Feels like it just started. Don't feel like I've learned all that much in my classes yet but midterms are coming up soon. So crazy. Next week is going to be a bit rough.

I've been meaning to call home since I didn't get a chance to call last Sunday because of the ski trip. But with these evening seminars, it's hard to find a good time. Every time I look at the clock, it's already too late. So sad. I miss having that time difference...

I don't have any thing going on Friday so it will be a day of doing homework. Saturday will be a busy day. Jingwen is coming to visit and she's arriving Friday afternoon. Not sure what her plans are but I'm sure we'll be hanging out at some point. Going to get pho with AAGSA (Asian American Grad Students Association) for lunch on Saturday and then going grocery shopping with one of Shuo's friends. There's also an engineering opportunities (career) fair that I will stop by. I don't think there are very many companies that I'm interested in but I'll check it out anyway.

Half marathon next Sunday... I'm sooo out of shape! I ran the Dish today. The first time in almost 2 months. The good news is that my knees are feeling fine. The bad news is that I found out I lost a lot of cardio and muscle over the last month and a half. It took me 50 minutes. Argh... Looks like I should sign up for Dr. Schiff's rewards program because I need to keep buying his joint medicine...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pork Buns!

Maybe I should start a food blog. I made steamed buns with pork filling today. They're pretty good. I had planned to make them between classes since I had one that ended at noon and another that started at 4pm. But... the dough failed to raise the first time so I had to put in more yeast. That took another hour so I had to rush to fill the buns with the pork. I ended up having to steam them after class. This actually turned out pretty well since it gave the dough time to rise the second time. I used ground pork, cabbage, and shitake mushrooms for the filling.

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I've been making a lot of tofu lately. Turns out, if you cook it in a pan and try to flatten them, they'll get flat like sponges and be ready to soak up whatever marinate you dump them into. I made my own teriyaki sauce for this. This was done early last week. I think will try to make nian gao (Chinese New Year cakes) next. But that can be tricky because I don't think I'm supposed to eat them until after new years. How am I going to test if they're any good??

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Red Bean Steamed Buns!

These worked out the first time. Amazing! Well, they're not as fluffy as I would like. I think I needed to let the dough rise a little more and flatten them faster. I think the dough was getting cold by the time I figured out what I was doing. With dinner rolls, there was no flattening and folding involved. I didn't have wax paper or a proper steaming basket so I got a little creative and put the buns onto coasters. The buns didn't stick to the coasters and it worked really well.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Funny stories

This website just made my day:

Crazy Weekend (Part 2): The Snow Trip

Just got back from the snow trip. I think I am going to give up on snowboarding as a sport. It is too painful! I basically slid and fell down the slope. I felt like I had no control over the board.

As we were driving to the where the bus was parked on the Oval, we saw some police cars and a car that had crashed into a tree. We figured it must've been drunk driving from Saturday night's masquerade ball. People tend to over drink at events like this. Anyway, everyone showed up for the bus pretty much on time and we set off on the trip. We stopped at one point to put on chains. The Sierras were covered with lots and lots of snow. When we finally got to Kirkwood, it started snowing. In fact, it proceeded to snow the entire day. The snow picked up in the afternoon and visibility was pretty poor.

It turns out that snowboarding boots are a lot easier to walk in than ski boots. We split into groups for lessons. The lessons were so painful! It was just too hard. I think I got some of the basics down but I didn't really pick up how to go down the slope without stopping (falling) at every turn. The bunny slope at this resort was really high. You had to take the ski lift to get there! And it is much more difficult to get off on a board than on skis. After the lessons, we had a quick lunch and went back out to the slopes. There were 3 easy slopes and I only managed to go on 2 of them for a total of 5 times on the lift. It took a long time for me to get down the slope. I was pretty tired after that and the snow picked up so we just stopped and hung around the lodge. So in conclusion, I think skiing is a lot easier to pick up but snowboarding could be more fun. But I doubt I will snowboard again any time soon. Right now I'm icing my knees. I really should've stretched before going out there!

It took us 2.5 hrs more than expected to get back because one of the tire chains broke and got stuck. We didn't know what was going on for the longest time. But the driver and a few students managed to get it fixed and put on new chains, which we had to take off after another hour's drive. We got back at 11pm instead of the expected 8:30-9pm.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Crazy Weekend (Part 1)

I'm leaving for a snow trip in about 5 hours. This weekend has been and will continue to be a crazy one. I just came back from a Tim Be Told concert. I wasn't all that impressed with them when I saw them on Youtube but the Angry Asian Man blog listed them as the band to see in concert this year. They turned out to be pretty cool. Not exactly my type of music but they're cool nevertheless.

So this weekend off Friday afternoon/evening with an MIT civil engineering department "reunion". This reunion was at an Italian restaurant in SF so Mahalia, Lauren, and I took the Caltrain over. It took a total of 2 hours to get there by Stanford shuttle, Caltrain, and bus. It was well worth the effort. This reunion was basically an excuse for the department to spurge on the current MEng class. This structural MEng class was out here for a week of touring SF companies, famous sites, etc. They're still on break. Friday was their last day. So they rented out part of this restaurant in SF that is supposed to be the oldest Italian restaurant in the US and had a 4 course meal with open bar. It was ridiculous. The food was amazing. Fresh pasta tastes so much better than dried stuff. We had salad, pasta, main course (I got the salmon), and then dessert.

The current structural MEng class has about 20-25 people. There are only 2 people who did MIT undergrad and one of them was doing the environmental track. The one who did environmental engineering in undergrad was actually my partner in TEAL back in freshman year. I thought she looked extremely familiar and then she remembered that we were TEAL partners. And if that wasn't random enough, I saw someone else who I thought was looked familiar. We started chatting and it turned out that she's MIT undergrad '07 and is now doing a masters at Stanford in fluid mechanics! She did Teach for America for 2 years so she's just starting her Master's degree. This was definitely a night of randomness because a guy sat next to me at the dinner table who had graduated from MIT with a PhD about 40 years ago. We started chatting and we find out that he's from Chile. Mahalia asked if he knew one of our professors who is also from Chile. Turns out they were undergrad classmates back in Chile. Same year!! And the professor who is taking the MEng class on this field trip was his thesis advisor. I guess it just goes to show how small the civil engineering world is. Everyone knows everyone else. It's great. I got this guy's business card, of course. He's a senior principal at a company that I had not previously associated with doing geotechnical work. But they do have a geotech team in Boston. When I saw the email invite for this event, the first thing I thought was "networking!!". I think it was pretty successful in this regard.

Now, Saturday, I got up pretty early to attend a conference put on by a bunch of Asian American groups called Listen to the Silence. It's basically a day of workshops where they invited speakers to talk about Asian American issues. Everything from historical events to modern day issues. The first workshop that I chose to attend was about Japanese Americans who were students at west coast universities when WWII broke out and they were interned at camps. The UC schools just passed something that required honorary degrees to be given to people who weren't allowed to finish their degrees. There was a big ceremony at UC Berkeley's graduation last June. This is a bit late since these people are now in their 70s and 80s but I guess it's good that they want to acknowledge this part of history. The speaker we had was a student at Stanford and was just about to finish his degree when he was shipped away in April. He was able to finish off classes and got his degree in the mail. He, like many other college age Japanese at the time, applied to schools away from the west coast to continue their education and get out of the concentration camps. He went to the University of Nebraska for graduate studies. Washington University in Missouri was one of the schools that took a lot of these students. He basically talked about his life, growing up near Sacramento in a town where most people were Japanese and Japanese-Americans working on fruit farms. He's not an activist so his talk was probably not exactly what the organizers were hoping for. But it was interesting nevertheless.

After this, I left the workshop (they had a keynote and lunch) and went grocery shopping with some friends. We hit Castro Street and ate lunch at a small Taiwanese place. We got noodle soup that came really fast. We also got a side of oyster pancakes. Apparently these are really popular in Taiwan. I'm not so fond of oysters though. Then we went to Ranch 99 and picked up groceries. I got more all-purpose flour and cooking oil. Yay for baking and deep frying! Then we hit Costco where we loaded our cart with boxes of grains (cereal and granola bars). I got a bag of frozen strawberries and big tub of yogurt. Totally forgot about bananas unfortunately. I have 3 in the freezer but that's not going to last very long. This all took about 3 hours and I was tired by the time I got back. So I napped a little before going back to the conference.

Okay, so I napped a lot. I had planned to go to the 2 workshops in the afternoon but missed them both by the time I managed to get out of the door. I made it for pizza and spent 2 hours chatting with friends of Andrew. Andrew had forwarded me the snow trip email. He was also at the conference and was excited about the Tim Be Told concert after the dinner. I had signed up for this conference not knowing about the concert (or the band for that matter) so it was such a nice coincidence that the conference offered this concert for free. It was really cool to see them in person and all. I helped Andrew get both of his CDs signed by the band. The band was really nice about signing stuff and taking pictures. It wasn't that big of a crowd I guess.

So I had an awesome day. Now I have about 4 hours to get some work done before going snowboarding! So excited. I've never been snowboarding before. I hope it doesn't snow while we're there. I have a pset due on Tuesday that I really need to get started. The bus is leaving at 4:45am so I think I'm just going to stay up and sleep on the bus!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Interesting beds

I've subscribed to a furniture blog (the one that provided the pictures of cake). The blog always has really interesting stuff. I guess I've always been found furniture to be an interesting functional art.

One of the articles featured on the blog is a furniture bed (a bed that converts to a desk). This is the ultimate space saving thing:

This sofa bunk bed is also really neat. You have a normal looking sofa that can be turned into 2 extra beds! Great for guests.

There are other interesting bed in wall systems on that website. Maybe I should take up furniture making in the future. Now that I can bake my own bread, the next logical step would be to make my own furniture, right? haha

I'm a collector at heart and like to have a lot of junk around. So I always like looking at shelving systems, especially ones that have irregular shapes. I wish I have better bookshelves in my dorm room. These over the desk things are really not ideal. I saw a really great little shelf next to a dumpster on the night of my final last quarter. It was a skinny and tall shelf. Pretty light and nice looking. Unfortunately, I was going to my final and didn't want to lug it around. I really should have just taken it to my final though because it was gone 3 hours later. I had even convinced two guys to walk by there with me. It would've been hilarious if I had lugged that thing into the final with me. Oh wells, next time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Random stuff

Today is the day that MIT closes my account. So sad... I've downloaded all my stuff off Athena. And now I'm combing Stellar for course stuff to download. In case, I ever get bored and need some reading material! Being a student comes with so many privileges. Both MIT and Stanford have really get resources and are subscribed to a ton of journals and other things. I can even use Oasys software while at Stanford.

I made teriyaki sauce today and is currently marinating some tofu. The sauce smells really good. I can't wait to try this tofu. I never really knew how to make tofu. Apparently, you really need to soak the stuff in sauce. The trick is to cook it on a pan first, squash it once in a while so that the water comes out. Then you add the sauce and let it sit. Last time, I marinated the tofu for a few minutes and the results were amazing. This time, it's going to marinate overnight. It actually takes a lot of patience to cook tofu this way. But I managed to cook 2 containers of tofu and make the teriyaki sauce in a little over an hour. I can't wait to see how it turns out.

I got my half marathon bib in the mail today! I'm so screwed... I haven't run more than 2 miles in forever! I've been taking it easy because of my knee. I think it's getting a lot better but it starts to feel tender whenever I approach 2 miles. This week is going to be rainy so I don't even know how much running I can get in. Sigh... I'll go anyway. At the very least, I'll just start walking when I can't run anymore.

Power Outage

There was a massive power outage Tuesday morning. I think the entire campus (plus surrounding area?) was affected. I woke up at 8am really worried about my homework that was due later that day. I wasn't quite finished but all that was left was just a plot. Anyway, I woke up to a thunderstorm and attempted to turn on my light while going towards the window to see how badly it was raining. And then I realized the light didn't turn on.

At first I was hoping it was just our apartment and attempted to open the breaker box in the kitchen. But it was sealed shut. I guess they moved the breakers to somewhere else. I peaked outside in the hallway and saw that all the hallway lights were off too. When I came back inside, Shuo was saying something about a text message. I checked my phone and got a voicemail. While I was listening to the voicemail, my mom called because she had received a called from the Stanford Emergency Alert service. The message basically said that there was a power outage. And then I got the text message right after talking to my mom. Shortly after that we got a call on our apartment phone. The power came back on around 9:20am or so. Luckily, I was already up. It would've been really annoying to be woken up by a billizon calls and being confused. Not sure what to make of this alert system.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Food, birthdays, and fun

Here goes another one of these describe-my-weekend posts. I had a lot of fun this weekend. Glad I didn't go on the SEG ski trip. I mean, I'm sure I would've had fun there too but it's just not the same...

I was actually pretty productive on Friday night. I worked through an entire homework for one of my classes. Not that I finished writing it all up or anything but I got through all the problems. So I just need to check answers now. I probably would have done more work on it but I went with Shuo to a small party held by some people in the bioscience dept.

Saturday. Shuo and I went for a short run in the morning. Then I went with her, Meihsin, and a friend of theirs to Ranch 99. Between the four of us, we loaded up two shopping carts' worth of food. I didn't get all that much but everyone else was buying things like they were preparing for an earthquake. We filled the trunk too. I don't think I got very much work done that afternoon.

Saturday night we went over to a friend's apartment for dinner. We stayed for 3 hours! The food was really good. He cooked three dishes. Dinner parties are great. I'm not sure we should be staying for so long next time though. I totally did not have any motivation to do work after that.

I spent most of Sunday working on a homework. I've finally decided that I will take multiphase fluid flow over reservoir geomechanics. I just cannot get up early enough to go to an 8:30am class. It's too painful. I like the vibe of the fluids class more and it will help me with the computational poromechanics class that I am taking next quarter.

For dinner, I tried deep frying fish because I got some tilapia fillets. I read about making beer batter and went on to replace the beer with 7Up because I didn't have beer. I could've easily gotten some from neighbors but I figure I should just see if this works first. I tried the deep frying and batter on some carrots and it was really good! So I ended up with a plate of fried fish and carrots. It was amazing! So fast and so easy. I was worried that the fish wouldn't be cooked properly since the fillet was fat and didn't really float on my little pan of oil. But it definitely got cooked really well. I wish I took pictures. I was too busy eating! I didn't even think about pictures until after everything was gone.

Just as I was calling home on Sunday night, I remembered that a friend of mine was hosting a birthday party. The theme was boardgames. I got there a little late and her apartment was already filled with people with 2 games going on. I was just about to join in on a game of Taboo when more people arrived with more games! So we started a 3rd game that involves making a map and claiming land. It was really fun. By the time we finished the first round of games there were 20+ people in the apartment! A bunch of people left and we regrouped into two big groups. The group I was in started playing a game called Once Upon a Time. It's a game where you have cue cards and everyone's trying to tell a story that matches an ending card that they have. Hard to explain and we were all very dubious in the beginning. But we all caught on and the story got really crazy. I think everyone was really into it after a while. It was so much fun. Much more fun than games that involve knowledge of pop culture.... er...

Today (Monday), I woke up to my alarm and was really confused at first because it was till dark outside. Then I realized it was raining so I slept for an extra hour. I had planned to go running. I heard it's going to be raining a lot this upcoming week - a whole year's worth! I guess it's good for the drought situation. At noon, I went with some friends to a Brazilian buffet where we ate a lot of red meat. I thought it was okay. Not as much selection as the one that Yalu and I went to back in Cambridge. But I guess this one was lunch and not dinner. Somehow I avoided total food coma after getting back and managed to make a lot of headway on my fluids homework. I went out for a run when there was a break in the rain and then went to office hours for the class. Still need to finish the homework but I think it's not too bad.

This week is already Week 3. It's going by so quickly! The first couple of weeks of last quarter seemed to take forever. Anyway, next weekend will be an exciting one as well. There's a MIT CEE reunion dinner (mostly for MEng folks, I think) on Friday night. On Saturday, there is a day long series of workshops about Asian American history and issues. It seems really interesting. And on Sunday, I'm going on a ski trip. Rain here = fresh powder in Tahoe! So I need to be extremely productive over the week.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Week 2 of Winter Quarter

Just thought I write something about what I've been up to other than cooking all the time. I swear all I do these days is think about food: when I should eat my next meal, what am going to eat, how am I going to make it, etc. It's a very time consuming activity.

I can't quite believe it but school has been going for 2 weeks now. I haven't turned in a single piece of homework yet. But no worries because I have homework due for all my classes next week! I effectively have a four day weekend this weekend because I don't have class on Friday (today) and Monday is a holiday. Not holidays make much difference to me because I really don't have very many classes going on.

Unfortunately, this quarter, I have two evening/late afternoon seminars. One of them meets on Wednesday and goes from 4:15-6, which is okay, just bearable. The other one meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9pm (8:30pm-ish). This is too late for me. Really cuts into my prime studying time. And after I get back, I'm usually incapable of starting on anything that requires a lot of focus. But I guess I'll just have to deal with it since the seminar is interesting.

This Tuesday and Thursday seminar is run by ESW (Engineers for a Sustainable World) on tsunami evacuation structures for Padang, Indonesia. Padang has the highest risk in the world of tsunami right now. It's sitting on two active faults that are basically ready to unleash tsunami-generating earthquakes. So building new evacuation structures, creating building standards, education, retrofits, etc are really important and desperately needed. The ESW chapter at Stanford seems to work pretty in depth with a few NGOs in different countries but in terms of sending interns over the summer and holding classes and such depends on funding. They don't seem to have a steady source of funding and is always applying for more. I don't really understand how all this fundraising business works but I imagine it to be pretty intensive.

Anyway, regarding the work in Padang. Last year, the ESW team came up with some designs for evacuation structures, retrofits, and such and sent 2 summer interns. The summer interns met with a lot of different organizations, found a new partner in the local university, surveyed a lot of buildings, and did a lot of groundwork in general. They also managed to win a competition that gave them money for more interns this summer. A month after they came back, there was a big earthquake near Padang in September. The earthquake luckily, did not generate a tsunami. The interesting thing is that one of the Stanford professors applied for funding to go back to Indonesia to access the damage. So they got to go back for a few days and see how the structures that they surveyed over the summer did in an earthquake. Their findings were really interesting. Some sites that had been identified by different organizations as potential evacuation sites suffered big failures. Other ones did fine but had so much facade damage that local people didn't want to go into them for shelter even though they were find structurally.

The plan for this year's ESW team is that during this quarter (Winter), we would have a speaker series and listen to experts from different fields on things related to Padang. And next quarter (Spring), we would have a design class where we work on plans for evacuation structures. So I started attending the seminar thinking that if I didn't get to go to Indonesia over the summer, I wouldn't have much motivation during the design class. Plus I wasn't sure I wanted to go to Indonesia this summer. I think after only two weeks of attending the seminar, I find that I am wrong for both of these accounts. All the design work that we will be doing in the spring are going to be very real and definitely be put to use by local people, local NGOs, and hopefully the government as well. And going to Indonesia to help put all these design ideas into practice would be a very relevant civil engineering experience. One of the proposed projects is a soil berm, basically an artificial hill that people can run up during a tsunami. This soil berm would have intermediate uses such as foundation for building(s), park, etc. Given that we can find the right location, I even think the soil berm can be constructed in the course of 2-3 months. A new building would take longer since someone has to buy the thing. But let's not get too excited here. They can only send 2 people and there are definitely more than 2 people in the speaker series right now. Not everyone will want to go but I bet the competition will be fierce.

In other news, this weekend is turning out to be very interesting. Today alone, I got invites for dinner on Saturday, birthday party on Sunday, and lunch of Monday. So it will be a fun one. The structural dept is having a ski trip so a lot of those people will be out of town. Kind of glad I decided not go to. I hope they have fun though. There's supposed to be a big rain system coming to California over the weekend and sticking around for the next week. Lots and lots of rain. Guess they'll be getting fresh snow. I signed up for a day-long ski trip with another department though. That's more like my type of thing. One day of fun in the snow, albeit a long one. The structural dept one is a weekend long trip and the cost only covers the lodging and not lift tickets or rentals. I heard that some people are just going to hit the slopes for a day and then spend the rest of time chilling and bonding. I really don't think all that bonding time is necessary. You end up making useless conversations that you don't even remember the content of an hour after the conversation ends. What's the use of these meaningless talks? Sometimes I think Americans are too skilled in the art of small talk and all they do is small talk.

This is getting really long because I drank a cup of tea with two teabags in it. I thought I would be able to do some work tonight. Turned out to be false hope and now I'm not sleepy. For the last couple of weeks, I've been reading one Sherlock Holmes short story a night before going to sleep. I really like them. I bought a big book of them but never got past the first mystery. I had more motivation after watching the movie and yesterday I borrowed a few more books from the library.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Definitely can't tell by looking or tasting that these are made with half whole wheat flour. So good! I amazed myself. I made 24 rolls. I was a little worried at first because I didn't think I used enough yeast. I was being stingy and used only 1 package but doubled everything else from a recipe that was meant for 12 rolls. Anyway, they're amazing. Can I go and start a bakery now??

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First Attempt at Dinner Rolls

They were really good. Shuo and I ate most of it in one sitting!

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Sunday, January 10, 2010


Interesting article about introverts as leaders:


Interesting thing that I came across while reading a book about geotechnical engineering education around the world.

"Engineers with an outstanding ingenious creativity are mostly 'criss-cross thinkers', which is not necessarily the same as "think-tank" members. Criss-cross thinkers are even more successful then "regular" geniuses because
  • they are not afraid of committing errors or failures,
  • they consider all possibilities,
  • they rely on their intuition,
  • they have manifold interests,
  • they think positively, and
  • they take time to relax."
I like the sound of this, especially the last two! haha. Of course, this was preceded by a reference to how hard "geniuses" work and that Edison worked 18-hr days most of his life. And after the quoted text above, the paper mentions that geotechnical engineering involves a lot more risk than any other branch of civil engineering because of the uncertainty.


Pork + eggplant + peppers on rice. yum! This was lunch. I made a big pot of it so I'll be having this for the next few days. I marinated the pork with teriyaki sauce overnight. I think I will attempt to make some dinner rolls later tonight. No homework due next week so I spent some time this weekend cooking, cleaning, and reading geotech-related books. I think I must have 20+ books checked out by now from 3 different libraries!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The story of the mouse and the pig

This is Da Mouse!
"Me no like kitty..."

"Go piggy, go!"

"Piggy won't go..."

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010


The long awaited pictures of my homemade bread! There's more than this. I actually ended up with 2 big pans of bread. I don't have any bread pans so I just used 8x8 and 8x12 pans. I should have rolled them into balls so that they come out to be like dinner rolls. Oh wells, next time. The bread turned out to be okay. It smells like yeast and is very heavy. I used 2/3 all purpose flour and 1/3 whole wheat. I don't think I let it rise enough the first time. Not exactly something that I can proudly invite other people over for sharing... Anyway, it was fun and now I have lots of bread to eat. Looking forward to finishing it all and making the next batch!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Start of 2nd Quarter!

Today was the first day of classes. It was pretty chill for me because I only had one class. I thought I had two but it turns out that our department seminar only meets once a week on Wednesdays instead of both Mon and Wed. So I went to the gym in the morning, showered, went to class. There were a lot of people in this particular class (foundation engineering) since it is a required class for everyone in the program. After class, I chatted with some people and everyone was talking about classes to check out. I felt kind of lazy going to only one class today. But my schedule tomorrow is insane with 7 classes! I think I'm going to pack myself lunch and dinner.

I went grocery shopping in the afternoon. I got mostly produce so everything was pretty cheap. I think grocery shopping and cooking makes me happy. Something about making food and eating it is very satisfying. Now all I need is a vegetable garden!

I'm going to attempt to bake bread this quarter. I got all the ingredients I need over break. Well, I think I need to buy more milk but that's another matter. Right now I have two loaves that are rising. This whole process seems to take a while. But maybe once I get it down, it'll go faster.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2009: Highlights, Milestones, Reflections

2009 was a special year. I went to Africa, graduated from MIT, worked and lived in Manhattan, and started graduate school.

The Sierra Leone trip seems like a distant memory now. Such a crazy trip. Who would have thought! But I feel like this trip never ended as I keep running across related things like rammed earth construction in Dubai and soil berm construction in Indonesia. I hope it never does. I feel like there's so much more we can still do and it would be such a shame if it all ended after our month long trip.

I think I spent a lot of freshman year wondering how I ended up at MIT. Every time I crossed 77, I would stare at the big columns; I couldn't believe my luck. Now I can't believe I've graduated. Senior year was such a hectic year. Nearly all my classes during the last semester consisted of team projects. It was insane. But it was because of these crazy projects that I was sitting in a classroom at midnight and thus was able to sign up for the skydiving trip. My mom made a comment a few days earlier that she can't believe that I went skydiving but is still too scared to drive. She said something about me being unbalanced... Anyway, graduation passed by in a blur. Everything happened so fast at the end. Everyone left so quickly. I was on a bus the next day going to New York. I spent most of that trip in a daze, wondering when I would see the campus again, my home for the last few years.

Living in Manhattan was something I have been wanting to do since I first visited back in 10th grade. The city seemed so full of life and excitement. Endless places to explore. I guess I particularly like the feeling of freedom because of the extensive subway system. I think I even had great schemes about how to end up living there for a summer by getting the right internship offer. Well, I finally got my wish this summer and it seemed to happen almost by chance. When I got the call about the interview for an internship, I only had a vague memory of applying to the company and couldn't, for the life of me, remember where or what I had applied to. Up until that point, I had been thinking about staying in Boston for the summer and now all of a sudden, not only did I have the opportunity to live in Manhattan, I could stay being roommates with Yalu for an extra few months. So I accepted the internship offer while on a bus en route from Cornell to Pittsburgh. That would have been the most depressing bus ride ever had it not been for that phone call. Anyway, living in Manhattan was pretty fulfilling. I liked my job and traveled around the boroughs doing volunteer work on the weekends. I also picked up running and visited Central Park a lot.

So far, graduate student life at Stanford has been great. I marvel at the beauty of the campus several times a day and can't imagine why anyone would ever want to go to the east coast for school. I met a lot of new friends the first couple of weeks which made me really happy. When I started MIT, I had a sudden realization (probably right after my parents left) that I had no friends there and should really try hard to make some. I didn't feel such an urge during orientation at Stanford but I also made a conscious choice not to rely on MIT friends so much. I think I didn't try very hard to make friends at Cambridge and that was one of the main reasons why I wasn't very happy there. So it made me really happy during day three of orientation to realize that I was going bar hopping with new friends and no MIT friends in sight. Don't get me wrong, I like MIT people. But I didn't want to rely on the "old circle" again. I didn't want my Stanford experience to become like Cambridge.

The only bad thing about Stanford is that it is suburbia and public transportation is not as great as it could be. While there shuttles and friends with cars to take me grocery shopping, it is still a problem when I want to do crazy things. Such as run a half marathon in San Francisco on a Sunday morning. There is just no way I can get to SF on a Sunday morning from the south bay on public transportation. So unless I find someone who is also running the race that morning, I think I have to go back to Oakland the night before. Such a hassle. Anyway, all this is to say that I've picked up running as a new hobby. The endorphins are pretty addicting once you get used to feeling them every morning. Hopefully my knee will decide to cooperate soon so that I can get back into a shape for this half marathon that I am going to run before I am ready.

I hope every year will be as special as this one.