May 28, 2007

Packing for a trip

I'm almost done with packing for a three-week trip home. One of the missions of this trip is to bring home the things I want to keep in Japan (not bringing to a new location or throwing away), and to carry back winter clothes instead. According to the airline's luggage regulation, I can check in up to 2 luggages of up to 50 pounds (23kg) and carry on 1 bag that fits in the overhead compartment plus a purse. I'm using this limitation to the maximum this time, so I filled my sturdy travel boston bag with heavier items like books etc, my extra-large suitcase with lighter and more fragile items, and a carry-on backpack with electronics and others.

I just weighed the two check-in luggages with an old scale, and it seems the weight would be OK... The scale is a bit less reliable, and the suitcase could be slightly heavier than the regulation, and in that case, I'll have to move some to carry on the backpack. The problem I always have with the suitcase is that the suitcase itself is heavy (**;). This suitcase is the first one I bought about 7 years ago, and I didn't pay attention to its weight. The suitcase only weighs about 7-8 kg (15-17 lb), and that's already one third of the weight limit!! When I buy a suitcase next time, I should look out for a light and sturdy one.

May 23, 2007

Close to Europe

I was browsing the Internet for cheap airfares. I was considering a conference trip to Japan during the Thanksgiving holidays, and was wondering what the price and times would be to fly from MA to Narita. By the way, I was using and it's a super helpful tool that allows you to search many many online discount airfare sites at the same time. You can search nearby dates (up to 3 days before and after) together for better deals. I've been using it for a few months and I'm a big fan already :-)

So, what came up as the cheapest airfare (Boston to Narita in late November) was Alitalia. I haven't seen the name before, so I checked where it stops over at... and it was Milan, Italy. What??? I had to read twice before I believed it. Wow! I knew that the East Coast is pretty close to Europe, but this close... And it is almost the other side of the earth from Japan, so flying either way would take almost the same time!? 7h 40m from Boston to Milan and 12h 10m from Milan to Tokyo... Well, it's a bit longer than the best connection in the U.S. (like compared to 2h 44m from Boston to Chicago and 13h 12m from Chicago to Tokyo), but it's cheaper by a night's lodging (Yes, that Italy flight stops over a night on the way back). It seems I can enter Italy without applying for a visa with the current passport, and it might be a possibility.

Maybe not this time. It's a little tight schedule, and if I'm going, I want to at least spend a few days sightseeing! But it's fun to find that Europe getting this close! The image is my imagination of Italy (espresso!) from

May 22, 2007

Shot 2

先週は、Hepatitis A & B(肺炎)に続き、MMR(はしか、おたふく、風疹)の予防接種も受けてきました。MMRはチクッとする成分が入っているらしく、看護婦さんにちょっと痛いかも、と言われたのですが、受けた後も押すと痛みがある感じや腕のだるさがありました。でも3日もたってすっかりどこに刺したか分からない程度になりました。


次はTdこと、破傷風・ジフテリアの予防接種です。一時帰国が終わってからでもいいよね~と先延ばし中(^_^;) 写真は2年前のなんだけれど、クアロア公園から撮ったChinaman's Hat。ハワイを出発する前にまた行きたいなあ。

May 20, 2007

The Prince & Me

This is about a movie I saw a little while ago on TV that I liked more than I had expected: "The Prince & Me." From the title I could tell it'd be a cinderella story genre, and I wasn't expecting too much, but I saw it partly because Julia Stiles was so cute. She also looked like a good student (like me!?). I really felt for her, because she felt like a neighbor - all the students with high aspirations! So I was a little surprised in the middle, and I got into the story. I shouldn't tell any more because it'll spoil your viewing experience ;-)

The "Realist" badge is from the movie's official site. I went there to look for trailers etc. and did a personality quiz, and a "realist" was my result. You might want to try too, if you have time!

May 15, 2007

Needle shock!!

I was reviewing the documents I have to send to Massachusetts last night, and thought that I should start on the immunization paper. I had thought it'd be the same as University of Hawaii, and hadn't paid much attention before. But, when I read it carefully, hey, there're so many kinds required that I haven't heard of ... And UH only required Measles when I was admitted, and I don't have documentations for any others. The nurse at the Health Services even said "Wow, these are all REQUIRED." but soon said it'd probably be because of the WINTER. Oh, no.

There are FOUR kinds of vaccinations (予防接種)required, and one of them requires THREE SHOTS (3回接種), that means SIX SHOTS in total!!!!!! I wished I could drink some medicine and pass, but they are all injections (注射). Here's the list...
1. Tetanus/Diptheria(破傷風・ジフテリア): In Japan people take only when they're children and that's all. I sure must have taken one too. BUT in the U.S., there's a 'boost' to be taken EVERY 10 YEARS! I'll have to take it before I leave.
2. Meningococcal(髄膜炎): I haven't even heard of the name, but it is required, and I could be waived if I sign... but it should be better to take...
3. MMR (はしか、おたふく、風疹): I caught all three when I was small, but measles is the only one I have documentation for. おたふくも風疹もかかったのにな~。ん10年も前のカルテはないらしいし・・・。So I need to vaccinate against mumps and rubella. I could choose to do a blood test and hope to turn out positive, but insurance doesn't cover blood tests!
4. Hepatitis A and B(A型&B型肝炎): This one takes 3 dozes with 2-4 months apart...

You can already probably tell, but I AM SCARED OF NEEDLES! Luckily the nurse was very nice and understanding. I had just the first shot of Hepatitis A & B today, and that wasn't too bad. The amount was so little and didn't take 10 seconds. Hope the rest are similar. Five more shots coming ... x_x

May 13, 2007

Multilingual dinner

I went out to a Japanese restaurant in Waikiki to celebrate the end of the semester! I had a gift certificate from a publisher when I entered to win at a local academic conference. Thank you, publisher :-D The restaurant calls itself a steakhouse, but it's in the teppanyaki (鉄板焼き) genre in my opinion. I think these teppanyaki places are very interesting - the imagination of things Japanese from outside of Japan, basically "exoticizing" so much. It was in New Zealand that I first visited a teppanyaki restaurant, and I thought - NO WAY, this is NOT authentic Japanese... Performance of flipping shrimps etc. in the air and juggling with cooking utencils. My mom used to say we have to be serious when we're eating, and of course when we're cooking too! Well, I'm not against reinventing Japanese food overseas - in Amherst, 看板料理 (the most popular dish?) of a new Japanese restaurant was a 'California roll,' and if you know authentic Japanese food, avogado is not something you should normally find there... 看板にアボガドですか~?

Anyway, what made this dinner multilingual was that on the table, there were three groups seated together, and one chef cooked for all of us together. And the chef entertained us not just by those interesting performances but also with 'talk'. The two other groups at the table were a mother and son from Latin America speaking Spanish, and a Japanese-American international married couple with a bilingual baby. The chef entertains us with some routine jokes (I learned later), such as calling a side dish 'Japanese french fries' (Well, guess what he called Japanese french fries ;-) ), but that's not all. He wanted to entertain the Spanish speaking guests, and spoke some Spanish. And I was impressed at his courage to speak even though it was really broken (すごい片言!)... When he realized they spoke Spanish, he first said to the mom "Bonito, bonito" (Correctly "bonita" using the feminine form) and the mom apparently didn't seem to recognize that he was speaking to her in Spanish, and when he finished cooking and left, he said "Mucho gracias" (Correctly "Muchas gracias" using the plural and feminine form) - I thought oh, my gosh, looked at the two, and just as I thought, they were talking about this "mucho gracias" phrase for a while ...

And the bilingual baby gave us a moment that reminded us that there's something in Japanese that can't be translated into English. After the chef has finished cooking and left, and when a waitress came to serve more water, the baby said "Ju Ju(ジュージュー)" repeatedly, requesting more grilling in front of him. The waitress who looked Japanese asked back "Ju Ju?" and couldn't make sense (at that moment we noticed that she wasn't a speaker of Japanese), and the mom of the baby and I realized that this sound does not have an English label :-o For Japanese speakers, it's so obvious that grilling makes this sound, but this sound has no specific English label ("Shizzling?" the English speakers tried to describe.) 焼肉、鉄板焼きって言えばジュージューって聞こえてくるじゃん、そのままじゃん、For us, it just sounds as the sound goes, but it doesn't seem to work that way. People say music is universal, but I guess sounds are not, or how we hear the sounds are not.

So it was a night with good food, nice entertainment, and also thoughts on languages :-) Multilingual dinner, right?

May 09, 2007

Cleaning up!

Yes, I turned in the paper, and the semester's now finally officially over! It's so nice to have things done. The grades are not in yet, but it's time to relax and celebrate :-)

And I started cleaning up my stuff. The first is returning books to the library. I brought three full bags of books to the library and emptied the bags. I have some more in my room, but I might need these some time, so I'll return them later.

Next is selling old books! I never did this before, because I thought I might need the books later and just put them in the storage. But this time, I don't think I want to ship all these books to Massachusetts. So I sorted the books into the pile of those I want to take with me and those I don't, and went to the bookstore with all I can't take. It was my first time, but this system is called "buy back" and most college bookstores seem to buy students' used textbooks back at the end of the semester that they'll sell next semester to other students. I got some quotes from online textbook buying/selling stores, and sold those at the bookstore that were better deals. I was afraid they might give me the bookstore gift certificate - that won't be good for me as I'm leaving, but they really gave me $cash$! Unfortunately, it's not much compared to what I paid for all the books, but at least, it is a better way to get rid of them than throwing away.

Conclusion written for the second paper :-D

My long spring semester is finally finishing! I've just written the conclusion section of the second and last term paper. I will do more revising and editing tonight and tomorrow, but it feels so relieving to at least have all parts of a paper at hand. And of course I made a back-up in the flash drive too :-)

It's been hard to write a major literature review paper on a topic. I have 34 references, and have read many more that I can't directly relate to the paper and therefore have not included in the references. It's been fun to explore one topic and what others have written, but not having my own empirical data has kept me feeling that the paper doesn't have much original contribution - I know that review is original too...

The photo is from a department's informal end-of-the-semester party. I got leis because I am to wrap up the certificate program in the summer and am leaving before the fall. I think I look a little tired. I have to get a lot of sleep once this paper is over! I just can't believe I won't be in Hawaii after August. I've lived here for four years, and this is my second home.