April 30, 2007

One paper draft done.

I finished writing the first draft of a term paper including the conclusion just 10 minutes ago! Yey! I did it in the computer lab, and it worked better than working at home. There seem to be more distraction at home. Anyway, I printed it out, so I can work on revising and refining it for two more days before the paper due.

One more paper (after refining and turning in this one), and it's summer break! There are lots of things I want to do, including having my hair trimmed (I haven't for the whole semester ...), cleaning up this room, sleeping a whole day without any worries, and going to the beach before leaving the island! Clean-up is kind of a need, because I'll have to be moving at the end of August. I am shooting for a flight out from Honolulu on Sunday, August 26th, arriving in Amherst on August 27th, to be just in time for the orientation. I am hoping for a trip home in late May (planning May 30 to June 20), and that'll be a nice break too. So I'll finish this semester with another paper and a big smile :-)

April 28, 2007

Cooking with the little ones :)

Today was a Saturday we bigs and littles got together for outing. (for the detail of the project, look at this newspaper article
http://starbulletin.com/2006/11/30/news/story09.html A picture of myself and my little is also on the article!) We do the group outing once a month, last month was at the state museum. This month, we went cooking at BBBS Hawaii office! We had a special guest chef who showed us how to cook, and brought us a yummy chocolate cake too. To the right is our wonderful chef, Mr Erik!

We first made ice cream out of milk, sugar and vanilla (we added in chocolate syrup! Nohea mixed the chocolate syrup very well) by shaking the bag with ice and salt. Then we made our own pasta sauce. Nohea helped cut the vegetables with a plastic knife! Good job! (Picture on the left)

We lastly made our own butter out of heavy cream. It was a lot of shaking again, but it really looked and tasted like real butter. I didn't know how butter is made!

It was a fun and yummy outing. I got very full, and needed a short nap! Now it's time to get back to schoolwork...;-)

April 26, 2007

Class presentation :)

The presentation is over!!! I feel so relieved. And it went fine. I had the largest number of questions from the audience - maybe that's a sign of high interest and engagement, isn't it? (It wasn't like I confused everyone and needed clarification!) I now can write this up in the course paper, and it shouldn't be toooooo hard, I assume.

And right after my presentation (yes, mine was the last), the class went out to the end-of-the-semester dinner party at a neighborhood Chinese restaurant. The food was gooooood. The bittermelon was really bitter today, but I still enjoyed it. That's the kind of thing I need to eat once in a while. I'll miss these good Asian dishes when I leave Hawaii (or maybe I'll find a good place wherever I go). Well, the easiest would be to learn myself how to cook these recipes ;-)

April 25, 2007


In a week-long trip, I went through an airport security gate five times at four airports. Out of the five, there was just one case that was more than what I expected.

It was a super early morning at Hartford, CT. The line was really long for the security checkpoint, and I joined in the line dragging my rollie backpack (carry-on) and a big purse. I had to be picked up by a shuttle at 3am, so I was really ready to get onto the plane and have the rest of the night sleep. I didn't even have make-up on. As the line was long, I started prepping for the screening; I took out a laptop from the backpack, and a ziplock bag of liquid and gel items. I thought I knew what to expect, as I had gone through this so many times. When I finally got to the ID checkpoint, the airport security person set me aside to a right lane. Mmm? This is rather unusual. What is wrong?

There was a black couple in about their 50s before me, going through this special screening. I waited behind them. When it was time, I was told to take all electronic items outside my bags, take off all jacket and scarf, and take off the laptop sleeve (foam) as well. While I was doing this, more than 10 people went through an easier screening on a left lane. I looked at the line, and found that all these people on the left lane were white! Is this some racial discrimination? Did I come to somewhere non-white shouldn't be!? Or is it the shooting incident by a Korean student leading to suspecting Asian students? (I later saw a white person going through the special screening as well, so I guess my first impression was wrong.)

When it was finally time to have me and my bag inspected, I asked the inspector why I was for selected for this special screening. He was kind and told me that it was not the inspector but the airline check-in counter who picked me. My boarding pass DID indicate "SSSS" that meant, do a special screening for this person! According to him, it often has something to do with a ticket or a flight, but could also be random. A discount paper ticket issued from Orbitz.com had some problem? Or am I stopping over at too many places? Is it because I didn't check in any baggage? Well, I guess I should think it was random...

I was kind of embarrassed as I packed my bag hastily that super early morning and some clothes and underwear were just there (not in a plastic bag or anything)... but nothing 'dangerous' was found in my bag, of course. Here's the stub of the boarding pass with "SSSS" circled with red ink!

April 23, 2007

Back from the trip

Yes, I am back! And it's so nice to be at home :-) I really enjoyed the trip - meeting people and getting the feel of the programs and the campuses gave me a lot of insights about the programs. Some of the impressions I had before the visit (from website etc.) were very different, and I also wanted to see what the area was like as well. So overall, it was a very invaluable trip, and I cannot thank enough all the people who helped me out during this trip!!!

After making charts and lists of pros and cons, I have decided to attend the University of Massachusetts - Amherst. It was really a hard decision to make, and no school was perfect or really bad. I ended up giving points on each criterion and adding up to make a comparison. In the first attempt, the two top schools scored the same points, and I had to do it again at a later time. There were numerous factors involved in this decision making, and it's really hard to pinpoint a few of these. Anyway, I think I've made a good and fair choice, and I've decided already!! I'm just afraid it may get too cold in the winter.

The two photos come from UMass campus. The first one is by the library - the tall building is the 25 story library with an underground floor, and the second one is taken from its 22nd floor window (East Asia Collection). The town seems to be a nice countryside town, with a nice feel of the history and brick buildings. I've also found and decided on a place to live! Now all I need to do is finish up my study in Hawaii ... Back to reality ;-)

April 10, 2007

Internet distraction

I was in my dorm room almost all day yesterday. Being in my room and trying to work on papers does not automatically make me that diligent. There is so much distraction here - especially the Internet. Yes, planning for a trip is very important, it is a short trip that needs to be planned very carefully, and it is justifiable to some extent, but some things just have to have a priority. I can't spend hours browsing pictures of where I'm going (I can see with my own eyes when I'm there!) or studying a bus map (When I get a paper schedule there I can plan faster). I still have to finish these papers and going on a trip near the end of a semester means I have to be ahead in course papers. OK, so, today, I have to write more. Maybe I should plug out this Ethernet cable...

The picture is a Thai Pavillion, and I see this just outside the dorm room window. It was rebuilt/redecorated last year, as the original one from many years ago was too old and could break at any time. Craftsmen came from Thailand to work on assembling and painting (and probably carving?). It's really nicely done, and many people sit and rest there. Sometimes people get too relaxed, forget that there's a dorm right there, and chat rather loudly, but it hasn't been that bad yet.

April 09, 2007

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! In Hawaii it was a beautiful, bright and gorgeous Easter Sunday. I was a little sad because it was going to be my last Easter here in Hawaii... I will miss this sunshine and these people and singing in the choir.

It was a busy morning with Easter events. The start of the day was a 6 am baptism at Ala Moana Beach Park. My friend, student from Japan, got baptized. It was the first time for me to see a baptism at a beach, and it was just so beautiful with the sunrise and everything. I had known her for about three years, since before she came to Hawaii. With my busy schedule as an excuse, I wasn't being as supportive as I wanted to be, just talking over the phone occasionally, but it's really a miracle that our friendship combined with many other people's led to a great impact on her life. Congratulations!!

After the baptism, I just made in time for the choir call time for the 8 am service. I thought that singing and sitting through three services would be really hard, but it actually wasn't. It's probably because of the great selection of music, the spirit of worship shared in the choir, and the never-boring message. The picture is me with the sanctuary (a ballroom) in the background where Easter services were held, taken between the services. I may be looking a little tired. I am in light green because the choir was to wear any color you'd find in Easter egg baskets ;) The flower drapes were a special decoration for Easter.

April 07, 2007

Campus visit tour!

Finding the right graduate program is a difficult task... I've been looking at many different doctoral programs since about this time last year. Applying is not too hard; I didn't have to narrow down too much, and I applied for five. I thought the admission decision would decide where I was going - until last month. I started getting letters of acceptance, and now I have to decide where to go. With a time limit, this is rather stressful.

Choosing a program is a complicated decision and I have to take many factors into consideration. I have narrowed down to the last three choices, which are in "radically different places", borrowing my professor's words. I've never been to any of these places, and people give me almost opposite opinions about them. People seem to either love or hate these places.

So, I've made up my mind to visit all these three! I really need to get a feel of the programs and the communities, also hopefully checking out the living conditions as well. I will be traveling from next week Friday, and coming back on the Friday after. I'm looking forward to it!

Before that, I need to work on course papers ;)

April 06, 2007

Cherry Blossoms

I miss cherry blossom. 桜の花が見た~い!

I met a dorm mate at the bathroom today, and she said she visited Washington D.C. during the spring break and saw cherry blossom in full bloom!! I hear in Japan too it's in full bloom everywhere and is so beautiful.

After coming to Hawaii, I have missed 4 seasons of cherry blossoms so far. And how ironic it is that even at some parts of the mainland you can see cherry blossoms but not here! Hawaii is a pretty good place for Japanese students like me, providing ingredients for Japanese food at local supermarkets, and with a mixed culture that embraces lots of Asian heritage. But no sakura!

My replacement for sakura here is this shower tree. There is a big tree in front of the library that has light pink flowers at this time of the year. This is not as delicate as cherry blossoms, and would normally last longer, almost a month. You can tell it's very different if you get closer, but from the distance, I almost mistook it for cherry blossom tree. So, here it is.

Why I am starting a blog

Welcome to my cafe! I am starting a blog because I have not updated my old website, and I don't have a homepage building software any more after I switched to my new laptop. Rather than laboring writing html, I thought I should start a blog.

I am not totally sure which language I should use. English is becoming my daily use language, and writing in English would make it accessible for my friends here who don't share other languages with me. But my friends and family in Japan would not read English, and writing in Japanese could make this a site for communicating my life in the States. Or maybe I should try writing in Spanish, my third language, because it can be a nice place for practicing :) ... but not many of my friends might understand it... :(

So, I will probably write in English for now. Maybe I may switch to Japanese in the future ... Let's see ;)