Saturday, 8 December 2007

Getting inertia again.. suddenly don't feel like leaving san diego and go home. 3 weeks might not be that short after all

Al was introducing Gateway cloning the other day.. and i felt that we're quite suaku for not knowing about this earlier. Basically you clone using homologous recombination instead of ligation. No more worrying about low efficiency ligations, just PCR and recombine.

P was presenting about the complex. Looking at where she's going, she's really going to get a Cell paper. Now she thinks that my protein is a substrate for hers.. why didn't you tell me any of these before? Whatever.. Now you can go KO ur own gene and work it out.. maybe after the phosphatase gets KO-ed. I believe that my new gene does something too.
1 thing I have to admit about this woman. She's capable. She wants to be a PI and is definitely working towards it. I can imagine her being a PI and she would be quite good at it, though she might be a micromanager. Already, she's presenting her work as if it's the most impt thing in the world..

I can't make up my mind. Every time I hear a new thing, or someone speaks enthusiastically about something, I get interested. The other day I heard about an interesting mechanism how G proteins get turned on and affect their effectors. Suddenly biochem sounds appealing again, imagining how things work at the molecular level was very fun. But I'm pretty sure I don't want to be a biochemist. I guess the only good thing is that I'm allowing the many options to stay open..


More bio talk. Had the symposium for Embryology lab. It's absolutely a party, with all kinds of exotic snacks from Trader Joe's, lots of Cuties and champaigne! Champaigne in class, can you believe it? Anyway many people did very amazing experiments and got very fantastic results. RA and ethanol produced some pretty screwed up tadpoles. But the most impressive results are the transplants and ablations. This group chopped off the tail of a young tadpole and transplanted into the belly of another. The host grew to have 2 tails and the donor lived without a tail. Another group did something even more amazing. They chopped a young tadpole into 2 (anterior and posterior), rotated the 2nd part of the embryo 180 degrees and allowed the tadpole to heal. Guess what? The tadpole managed to heal and the 2 body parts stuck to each other and formed a complete tadpole! And what's more fantastic was that the spinal cord moved from the top of the embryo in the front to the bottom of the embryo at the back cos the tail region was rotated 180 degrees. The heart was displaced to the side and the anus was on top of the tadpole instead of the bottom. I thought that was the most amazing result of the day. Very creative experiment.


Of course our results were way too cool too. We produced 2 headed tadpoles by transplanting the organizer of an early frog gastrula to the ventral region of another gastrula. And our 100% survival rate was way too impressive. I don't know how we got such successful results but we did. The other organizer transplant groups had pretty sad results. Maybe it's really because my side of the lab is warmer.


Controls. The one on top is a normal tadpole. The round ball is the donor of an Organizer (organizer sends out signals to pattern the embryo). The one at the bottom is a negative control where we stuffed a piece of non-organizer tissue into the spot where we normally put the organizer.

2 headed tadpoles!! And a 2-tailed one. We were escatatic when we saw these.
Yay! Felicia and I with our prof.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Bomb!

December 7, 2007
SAN DIEGO: The FBI is asking for the public's help in identifying who planted a fake bomb that led to the evacuation of University of California San Diego medical school buildings at the La Jolla campus Wednesday.

Authorities made public yesterday a letter left by the Animal Liberation Front, an animal rights group that claimed responsibility for planting the fake bomb. Authorities also released a recording of a bomb threat phoned to the university.

“We are asking the public to look at the font, word usage and misspelled words that could help identify the author,” Special Agent Darrell Foxworth said. “Listen to the words used, the pace of speech and background noise to identify . . . who made the phone call.”

The first call, received Tuesday night, threatened the university's animal research program.
On Wednesday morning, a letter was delivered to UCSD, along with two telephone calls that claimed the group would detonate explosive devices at campus research buildings.

About 10:30 a.m., a UCSD employee found a suspicious package in the Leichtag Family Foundation Biomedical Research Building that authorities later determined was a fake device made to look like a bomb.

Medical school buildings were evacuated but reopened that evening.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Joint Terrorism Task Force at (858) 565-1255 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-TIPS (8477). –J.L.J.
~ San Diego Union Tribune

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Friday was a phenomenal day. Firstly it rained. 50.3mm of rain in one day. Where did all the water come from? There were threats of mudslides in those places which were burnt a month back.

Secondly and most importantly. Friday was the day when I confirmed that I've got knockouts. Woohoo! Finally managed to knock a gene out of Dicty. I could almost forget that Susan practically did the whole thing for me.. So the expts and learnings finally start. A was doing Southerns and developed right after me and we couldn't help peeking at his film and gloating over how much cleaner our film looked. It's absolutely terrible of us, terrible ethics..

Then went to look at my transplants. There's a slight chance of a head developing. But there are many other good transplants. I was rather efficient on Thurs.. Now I just have to worry about how to explain all the strange developments.. I think I've got a tadpole with 3 tails. Bizarre.

And then went for a TA party organised by my Metabolic prof. So nice of him. He has a very nice house. It would be such a shame if it was eaten up by the fire. The walls are filled with paintings that he collected all over the world, he has a huge garden of different plants, including a full-grown macademia tree. We had some wonderful fresh macademia nuts. His collection of orchids is amazing, so is his collection of books and pictures on Indian history. I have decided that I need a hobby. If a professor who has to teach and manage a lab and has a family can find time to do gardening every weekend and take care of the orchids and collect all kinds of art pieces, I think I can manage a hobby. Talked to all the TAs and the significant others. These people love being TAs, they teach over and over and over again. Wow, we need these dedicated people to teach. And I realised that even though the department is huge, at the end of the day, I've kind of met each person at some place or other. Took the same class together or they were my TA or something.. Everyone kind of knew each other. Had a good time socializing. Of course it helps that the prof is someone who talks non-stop.

Went to judge for high school speech and debates today. Can't help feeling that I might have screwed some kid up badly by not being a good judge. The preliminary rounds were pretty easy to judge. It was quite obvious who would win.. But I tried judging for the octa-finals, and oh wow, they were good. Hope I made the right decisions. These kids are very good. This girl had an impromptu speech topic of "Cheese". What would you say? Talk about cows and milk and calcium? She talked about smiling during photos and how Americans don't smile enough. And when the timer counted down "3, 2, 1", she said "Cheese!" and smiled. How much more creative and appropriate could you get?

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Yihui was saying that we should be glad that our campus is so huge. I never thought that the campus was big until yesterday where I went biking into the eucalyptus forest. OMG there are multiple trails in there, complete with trail markings on trees and dust flying everywhere.. Nature trails on campus. Wow. How many schools have that? Pretty cool. Great view of the canyon and of the campus in the distance at some parts. Anyway I suck, had to stop many times cos couldn't make it up the slope.. But it was fun chionging down the slopes =) and to have a homecooked dinner =)

Thanksgiving. Totally just slacked through the 4 days. Mostly played old grandmother's games online. Had a thanksgiving dinner at my place. Wasn't a total flop but let's face it, I'm not a good entertainer. On those personality quizzes that ask where are you usually found in parties, I always answer at the side talking to a small grp of friends. Food was plenty and good. No turkey but no loss. Pictionary saved the day.. Next gathering, hopefully more people show up, hope the better entertainers show up

Then psychoed Yihui to take us to Las Americas at midnight. The traffic was crazy, everyone is flooding there. Finally got there, finally found a parking spot. Bought my shoes and jeans and tshirt and sweater.. Haha. Not bad for ~$100. Got tired and didn't want to go anywhere with huge queues so I probably missed the best sales, like the 50% off at Puma. Next time, go at 4am. There's much less people.. But that means you'll have to wake up at 3am. Or don't sleep.
The things we do to get a good deal.

I'm getting excited over embryo lab. Planning my expt and hoping to get presentable results. Our plan is very ambitious and hopefully we're technically up to it.
Doing Southerns next week. Hopefully I have a correct clone and finally successfully knocked the gene out. And doing even more wishing, hopefully my clone has some phenotype.

Reading Watson's Double Helix. It's so much speculation and theorizing and not much expts.. It seemed like as long as they have the time to sit down and think, they could get groundbreaking theories in a week. They go for conferences, see other people's data, and get excited and start theorizing. Then they try to scoop and publish before others.. Science.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Pictures

Flash Mob! Bang! You're dead.







Yes you're dead.


Very amusing to watch. But I must say that the pillow fight was a lot more exciting.





Halloween! Our cute pumpkin with 2 teeth =)



The artists



Pumpkin after a week.. and no it's not burnt by the fires.. just providing a home for microbes..


My orchids



Chick-in-a-cup.. They're so cool.. Watch the chick develop in a cup during the time when it's usually in the shell.


Closer look at the baby chick. About 6 days old. Huge eyes. Wings and legs are developing. In fact, digits are developing. Heart is happily beating away. It's so cute.



After manipulations with hue and saturation and crop, an alien looking creature.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Instead of spending my time playing some online crossword puzzle, I'll blog.

Things to do:
  1. Get that gene into the plasmid and into the bacteria.. Why so hard??
  2. Find cute crafts to make to give to old people
  3. Chase after people to approve of my crafts and chase after other people to get me materials to make those crafts
  4. Read the 5 papers needed for me to start my lab report
  5. Read more papers to decide what final project to do
  6. Pray and hope that my tadpoles are still alive and relatively normal after its head is partially detached from the body
  7. Do something fun this weekend
  8. Plan something fun for Thanksgiving
  9. Stop feeling angry at myself for throwing my distinction in biology away
  10. Churn out some rudimentary personal statement
  11. Practise
  12. Stop feeling impatient with slower-witted people

Grr... #9. How dumb am I to make such a big mistake and not realise it until now.. Grr.. What to do?

Was the MC for senior house. Went pretty well. Actually went very well. The old people were high even though not many of them came. The song was a big hit. I'm pretty sure they felt that it was too short and it was over before they felt shiok. And I love my turtle movement. Pretty surprised that PP agreed to such cute actions. Games were exciting. My pingpong ball game went quite well. As usual all of them tried to cheat and I had to physically block them to prevent them from throwing more balls. They were nice and didn't throw balls at me. Jenga was veto-ed but the other game with the bottle air gun thing was cool. It was so exciting and the pictures came out good too. So even though we started out kind of slow.. didn't know what to say.. quite stoney, depended a lot on Alice for cues.. it was a good show..

I'm quite amused at what the sta people are trying to do. I wonder if PP noticed. Highly amusing. Sneakily taking pictures of people, suggesting people to work with each other.. hmm..

Thursday, 1 November 2007

If you haven't heard already, there was a huge fire in Southern California last week. Actually, it's many big wildfires. Burnt many homes, blackened lots of trees, evacuated hundreds of thousands of people. It's quite an experience to live through a disaster, there's a lack of those in singapore, not that I'm complaining. It was a little smokey on Sunday but we thought it was because of fires from LA and didn't think much about it, went to labs, checked my sea urchins, picked my colonies.. Monday morning, my aunt called me and told me UCSD was closed because of fires near San Diego and that she's evacuating. Wow, this thing's serious.

Well, ok, classes cancelled, no midterms. Good. The air stinks. It's much worse than Singapore during the Sumatra fires. much much worse. It's like people burning incense paper everywhere + the indonesian fires. The air smells like smoke, ash particles are everywhere. Our window was opened throughout the night and there was a black layer of soot over everything next to the window. I could see soot particles flying in. It was freaking hot and we couldn't open window. Evacuation orders were being given all day, half a million people were evacuating.. friends were freaking out and packing.. got us a bit worried too. What happens if we were asked to evacuate? I never thought that the fire would ever reach La Jolla, but since Carmel Valley (2 highway exits away) was asked to evacuate, I don't see why the evacuation order wouldn't reach us. Stayed tuned to the news all day. Loved my radio.

And then, Tuesday classes cancelled. Fires were spreading, somehow it crossed the I15. Del Mar had to evacuate, Rancho Bernado was burned.. Air's terrible. It's getting scarier. Then UCSD sent an announcement, classes cancelled all week. Hahaha. After hearing this, many many many people started leaving san diego, going back to LA, flying back to Nor Cal. Guess what I did? I hunted down a ticket to Chicago and flew there. Hahaha. Got holiday, might as well make good use of it right? More about it some other time.

Anyway, a lot of people evacuated to Qualcomm Stadium, which is the main stadium in San Diego, and the aids that were going to that stadium and other evacuation centers were just amazing. Starbucks sent coffee, Costco sent food and water, volunteers donated burgers and sandwiches and offered massages.. Donations were so much that they had to stop accepting. Thanks to all the warm-hearted Californians. People who went to Qualcomm said that it was like a festival there. Kind of like Quidditch world cup, everyone pitching tents, big screen TV, plenty of food and water.. Evacuation in luxury. How many people get coffee and massages while evacuating?

It is San Diego after all, where the rich live. Or at least the middle class. Families with comfortable lives, owning at least 1 car.. When they're asked to evacuate, most just grabbed their important stuff and sped off in their cars. The house is probably covered under extensive insurance. It'll be a lot of inconvenience if houses really burn down, but we'll all live. After all, the money's not going to burn. Furthermore, even though the air's terrible, even though it's pretty hot in the day, at least people were not wet and cold and hungry and miserable. And the later evacuation orders were sent with plenty of time for people to get ready.. People were ready.

You need friends. you need to be prepared for emergencies. You need to not panic.. San Diegans did a pretty good job at all these.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Thank you all who remembered my birthday. Thank you all who made it special. Thanks to ooi who wished me really early, you're the 2nd one to wish me happy birthday, 1st one was the scholarship officers. Haha. Thanks to jac who stayed up late to be the first to wish me when it's 11 Oct PDT. Thanks to lao pei who remembered. Thanks to Carol who was the first one to call, thanks to her again for suddenly hushing everyone and giving me peanut soup with imaginery candle. Thanks to Sunny who called and pretended to not remember that it's my birthday. Thanks to housemates who gave me the orchid, sorry that 2 buds died.. thanks to stephen for coming over and to all for the tres latte cake. It was very interesting.. very ethnic. Thanks to the whole gang for bringing me to Corvette. That was an experience. Thanks Jason and Clinton for the wine. Thanks Jane for bringing the beach to me and for Islands. =) Thank you Assers and CBs. Thanks Kok Lim for the amazing cheesecakes, lao da's too nice. Did I miss anyone? Thanks to facebook for keeping everyone in touch.

Corvette's Diner was an experience. After waiting forever to get in, we got a table. And then straws came flying over our heads and landed on the table. Ok. So I guess food's going to be thrown at us as well. The waitresses had huge hairdos and loud screechy voices. The place was noisy, and there's a DJ playing 50s music. So every time a waitress sees someone on the phone, she'll announce to the whole world and tell everyone to keep quiet. And of course, everyone will start making as much noise as possible. Our table is very quiet in comparison. So food came, drinks came, weird stuff.. and I ordered a magarita. Just to use my ID. The waitress took my ID, studied it, did some calculations, and started shouting "Ladies and gentleman, there's someone here turning 21!". That was embarrassing.. There was a balloon man who made all sorts of huge structures and another lady who made humongous hairdos for girls using straws. When it was time for dessert, 5 of those waitresses came over and sang me a song that none of us could figure out what exactly they were singing.. even after we've heard it for a gazillion times that night, seems that every table had someone with a birthday.. It's just a place with its own special character.
Can't believe this guy. The things that he says are just appalling.
'In 1997, Britain's Sunday Telegraph quoted Watson as saying that if a gene for homosexuality were isolated, women who find that their unborn child has the gene should be allowed to have an abortion.
During a lecture tour in 2000, he suggested there might be links between a person's weight and their level of ambition and between skin color and sexual prowess.
"That's why you have Latin lovers," he said, according to The Associated Press, which cited people who attended the lecture. "You've never heard of an English lover. Only an English patient."
And in a British TV documentary that aired in 2003, Watson suggested stupidity was a genetic disease that should be treated.'
http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/10/18/nobel.apology/index.html

That's taking unconfirmed scientific data too far.. They might be your hypothesis, but with all the social impacts they could potentially have, you should at least say them in a nice way, or if you can't, don't say it, since it's unconfirmed anyway.

Anyway, Watson just published another autobiography. It's on manners. Reviews are pretty positive. I wonder how much of manners you can learn from this guy. On another note, Craig Venter just published his first autobiography. Yet another controversial biologist. He's a very eloquent guy, so his book might be rather fun to read..

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Think I've been taking many things for granted. I've been very lucky since I got to San Diego, having very helpful seniors, very helpful friends. Not everyone has friends who are willing to drive them to places every time he asks, not everyone has friends that they feel comfortable enough to ask for rides to the airport at 8 in the morning.. I don't know what I would have done without people like Desmond in my first year. Since my entry a week ago, many people have asked if i'm ok. Thank you everyone, I'm fine. Thanks for all the suggestions, thanks for all the analysis, thanks for trying to cheer me up. I still think it's very funny that I received a fan. Haha, it would have been very useful in the freakingly hot summer.

Talking to freshmen, and friends on exchange.. I realised that many times I don't have the power to help them. Many things which I experienced don't apply to them.. All I can tell Jac is, cook your own food, but then i also don't know how I could make my own food if, 1. I use a communal kitchen shared by the whole building, 2. there's no Ranch around, 3. there's no car to get groceries.. How do you survive in the middle of nowhere where you get everything you need from Walmart? Suddenly I love California for its huge Asian population, I love my apt, I love my housemates and friends..

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Friday, 28 September 2007

Life in this lab is way too dramatic. I wish I can think faster and come up with more things to say that will put me in a better position, but whatever, let's hope that this is actually a good change. I was pissed off, and I wouldn't accept her apology. You don't just tell people I'm giving you away without any hints of doing that before. But maybe in a year's time, I'll thank her for dumping me..

So I've decided to take embryology lab.. figured that I'll never get a chance to do comparative embryology ever again, must grab the chance now. Opportunity cost is Colin's class which will teach me how to do expts and which I can work less and get a better grade and get a decent rec. Hope it's a right choice.

Feeling too sian to settle anything. Feel like just giving up on this music minor. Too much trouble getting an instru, finding a place to keep it, going for auditions..

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Back from Canada. Tired. I don't have the stamina for a 2 weeks trip. My trips should be no longer than a week.

Highlights:
  1. Free Montreal symphony concert ticket just from being in line for tix, and free hershey's dark choc too =)
  2. Contemporary stuff in the Musee de Beaux Arts in Montreal, I want them in my home.
  3. Concordia orientation, free concert, free beer on the street.. people were quite high.
  4. Schwartz smoked meat sandwich
  5. Hiked a bit of Mont Tremblant
  6. kayaked in a peaceful lake and was caught in the rain
  7. campfire with smores
  8. Weirdo pervertic old Australian man
  9. All the British dudes and Pauline, the German design student
  10. Parc Omega and elks
  11. Beavertail
  12. staying in a hostel that used to be a Jail
  13. Major Hill Park at night with drum circle
  14. Being in English-speaking Ottawa with French-speaking Quebec just across the river
  15. Parliament tour in Ottawa, beautiful library
  16. Byward Market with beautiful fruits. Bought $3 worth of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. Happy
  17. Fort Coulonge, beautiful lake, chill, BBQ, great dessert, ice cream with berries, the place was so in the middle of nowhere that the rooms have no locks.
  18. Whitewater rafting!! down the Ottawa river. 1 whole day. Fun fun fun. Fell out of the raft while surfing the big butterfly, apparently everyone who sits at that position in the raft gets thrown out. Whitewater rafting looks more exciting than it feels. But it's fun.
  19. Didn't jump off the cliff. Didn't drink beer.
  20. Colourful maple trees in Algonquin Provincial Park. Imagine a forest filled with maple trees. Well, that's Eastern Canada.
  21. Chilling and bumming around in the beautiful Madawaska
  22. Watched this play called Prince Hamlet near Little India in Toronto
  23. Met Jacinth at Stratford and watched the Ideal Husband, which is very very funnny
  24. Travelling around with JacJac
  25. Pretty candy apples at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
  26. Niagara Falls was impressive. That's a lot of water flowing down. and it's gorgeous at night with the lights.
  27. Toronto Chinatown. OMG the fruits are so beautiful, and cheap. Had dim sum =)
  28. Susan calling me 1h after I landed in San Diego asking me if I have decided to quit the lab cos I haven't appeared for so long.. haha
Brief outline of what happened.. Well, I mean to be brief, but might get carried away and ramble on....

Day 1: Flew to Toronto on 9/11. Plane was empty, wonder if it's because of the date. Raining in Toronto.. super sian.. skipped dinner and went to sleep instead. GVB toilet arrangements suck.

Day 2: Big East trip with Moose Network. Cool driver with cool name: Homer. Didn't know people really have names like this. Bus was pretty empty, met this Australian girl Estrelle who talks non-stop. I need to hang around people like that, cos I don't need to think what to say, just listen to her talk. There's this elderly couple on the trip, the wife is from Brazil, the husband is from Denmark and they spend their time now travelling around. The guy knows many many languages, including some Chinese.

Went to the 1000 Islands, some pretty houses around, but whoever lives on them must be really rich. First you need to afford the real estate, second you need a boat to get you anything.

Reached Montreal. Skipped Homer's Old Montreal tour and went for Montreal Symphony concert instead. Checked out the Museum of Contemporary Arts as well, they were having tours, and so I managed to appreciate some of the artwork. I think after I entered UCSD and listened to their very contemporary music, I'm starting to like contemporary arts more.

Watched the symphony for free. Cos some guy had extra tickets and was gave one to me for free. And it was a really good ticket. I'll never buy such a good ticket. Thanks random guy! Concert was good. I was very impressed with the soloists. Mahler was ok. They also played this Ravel piece that was very fun. It's a story about a naughty kid who destroyed everything because he doesn't want to do homework, and it's cool cos the furniture that were destroyed sings, and it helps a lot when they subtitled the French lyrics in Anglais. Very interesting.

Day 3: Old Montreal, the Notre Dame is very beautiful. Went into a few churches, they are all pretty impressive, why doesn't singapore build churches that look impressive? Wandered into Chinatown and had found some Chinese food. I love the bakery. =) Went to the Musee de Beau Arts. Again I found myself gravitating towards the contemporary stuff. There was a collection of chairs that were so pretty that I want to bring it home for myself. Then climbed up Mont Royal and looked at the city of Montreal. Great view. Not like Bukit Timah, cannot see any view. Oh yeah, McGill uni was having orientation on the hill. Cool. And then at night Concordia University had an orientation in downtown where they blocked off a street and had a concert there. If you have a McGill mug, you get free beer. Man.. beer in orientation, how funky.

Even though the whole Montreal seems to speak French usually, whenever I wander into some University area, I hear English instead of French.

Day 4: Wanted to go to the Biodome, then backed out cos it looks like a cheat of money. So went Marche Atwater instead, which is a huge farmers market. Beautiful fruits and veggies. Tried poutine, this Quebec fries with cheese and gravy thingy. I didn't find it exceptionally nice. Then went to the Plateau area, tried to shop but didn't find many shops that sell things that I like, so went to Schwartz for dinner instead. The smoked meat is really good. =)

Day 5: Raining again. Had a bagel for breakfast while watching people run in the rain. People watching is fun. I like chilling. Then hopped onto the tour again with driver Heather and half a bus of Brits. Went Mont Tremblant which is a ski resort in the winter and pretty cold even now. Wish I had more clothes on. Pretty little touristy resort. Cos I was cold, I did a little hike that started out nice but turned out to be really boring, so boring that I left the trail halfway and took a shortcut down the hill. Went to the hostel at Tremblant. It's a cool place to stay in winter for skiing, it's much cheaper than the resorts and still pretty close to the mountain. Anyway there was a lake next to the hostel and we went kayaking in it, watching sunset. Peaceful. But then it started raining and I had to try to aim my boat accurately so we could dock. Had to cook own dinner, so I bought Chunky soup and heated it. Food for lazy people. Campfire at night. In an Indian tent (don't know what it's called). Even though it's really cold outside, it's boiling in the tent with the fire burning. Had smores =) Yummy. And the old Australian man suggested we play some cross/ uncross fork and knife game that was rather exasperating. And he told jokes that were so lame that only Heather laughed out of courtesy. But more about the old dude later.

Day 6: Parc Omega. It's this nature park where they introduced animals in there and built enclosures to keep the bears and wolves from eating everything around. So it's kind of like a safari, but it's not all that natural cos the animals are introduced in there. And we could feed the animals carrots, so we fed many elks through the bus windows and tried to get some of them to come onto the bus. Bus ended up with quite a bit of elk saliva. Reached Ottawa and we checked into this hostel that used to be a jail. Some people get to stay in a cell. Did a Ottawa city walk, saw the castle-like parliament and wandered by the river at night. There was this group of people banging on drums. Looks kind of cultic. Had a beavertail for dessert. It's this flat donut-tasting thingy that's shaped like a beaver tail. High sugar content. Great for skaters in the winter after they skate down the world's longest natural skating rink, the Ottawa canal. Heather says that college students will skate downtown to the pubs and check their skates in at the pubs and if they dare, they'll skate back home

Day 7: Went for a tour of the Canadian Parliament house. Supposedly the best gothic structure outside of Europe, and it's pretty impressive. The library is the most beautiful place, it looks warm and cosy, just that the books look very dull. Apparently you can watch the parliamental debates when they are in session, but they're taking a break till oct. Went Byward Market and bought berries. $3 for a box of strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. I'm happy.

Visited the place that they train the Canadian Mounties.

Reached Fort Coulonge. It's a beautiful place by the lake. It's so ulu that we don't have locks or keys for the rooms. I went for a little walk around the region, but it was too far to even get to the main road, so I went back to the lake and chilled. Lovely place to bum. Had a good bbq dinner with fantastic vanilla ice cream and berries dessert.


Day 8: Whitewater rafting! Went in a yellow schoolbus with the rafts tied on top. 4 guides, 2 Canadians, a South African and a guy from Costa Rica. A wide range of accents. Sounded kinda complex and scary and like we might fall into the cold river any time. Wore swimsuit, wetsuit, jacket, windbreaker and lifejacket. Haha. Went to Big Butterfly for some river surfing. It was fine the first time when I was a mermaid in the middle of the boat. Then we switched places and I was in front. And I was ok the 2nd time we went in, drank a whole bunch of water but was fine. But I fell out the 3rd time and felt myself drifting away and choking. Doesn't seem to be able to swim very well against the current, but they managed to pull me in. Then we switched places again cos I refused to be in front. And this time everyone in the first part of the boat fell out. Haha. Glad I wasn't there. Falling out isn't so scary after all.

Even though I was wearing so many layers, I was freezing, shivering. Brr.. It doesn't feel very exciting sitting at the back cos all the people in front blocks all the water. But it's fun to watch how the boat rocks. After going through a few rapids, we break for lunch. Lunch felt good after the freezing water and all the paddling. Then it was another channel of water in the afternoon, that Ottawa River contains as much water as the whole of UK. Amazing right? The rapids have cool names like Bus Eater and Garbarator. It was a nice serene trip down the river when we have the river just to ourselves, 2 rafts and a kayak. Then we got to a place where we could do a cliff jump, 6ft. I wouldn't do it. I wasn't scared but I just can't take the step off the cliff, I couldn't jump. There's a mental block saying that no you can't do this. I'll never jump off a building I guess. Whitewater rafting is fun, watching the video was even more fun, I could see how the wave came in and when the boat emerge, I was drifting away from the boat.. 1 advice: sit in front. It's much more exciting =)


Day 8: Algonquin Provincial Park. It's a huge park and most of the trees are maples and pines. And the maples are changing colours. Beautiful. Had a hike. Chilled, read Zarathustra. Went back to hostel and chilled more and got bitten by bugs.


Day 9: Back to Toronto. Glad to be back, kind of tired from the trip already. Checked into Canadiana, and guess what? They screwed up my reservation and I didn't have a bed. So they took out their emergency bed and put me in a guy's room. 8 guys, and me. Damn. Anyway I went to watch a play "Prince Hamlet", in this neighbourhood that is quite off the tourist area. I've been quite safe and cautious during this whole trip and I didn't feel very good in that neighbourhood. So wandering around there to find the theatre and realised that it's actually a Little India there, it's filled with indian restaurants and mama shops. Prince Hamlet was a pretty good play. The uncle looks really evil. Haha. I've never read Hamlet but I'm liking Shakespeare more as I read/ watch more of his works.

Day 10: Went on a very expensive Stratford trip with Jacinth. Finally met Jacinth. Yay! Stratford is made for old people with cars. Not for kids who Greyhound around. Took forever to find the motel that we were staying in cos the motel owners (an Indian family) didn't know where their motel is and how to give directions.. It took 5min and 3 people to tell me which direction on the main road should I travel. Gosh, how do they do business? After a good rest, we walked along the river, filled with swans and ducks and friendly people on the sides, to downtown Stratford, while Jac tells me the sad life in Waterloo. Downtown is a pretty boring place as well, kinda like downtown La Jolla, but more boring. Saw this Rocky Mountain Chocolate shop and went in. Got ourselves a huge candy apple, Rocky Road. Ate that for dinner. It's huge and sugary and very very chio. Cos there wasn't anything to do, we sat at this table by the road and played dumb, the chess game. Felt quite dumb cos we don't know the rules and we any how move around and eat. Then we did what we went Stratford to do, we watched "An Ideal Husband". It's such a funny play, people laugh at almost every sentence and costumes are absolutely gorgeous. Moral of play: don't expect anyone to be perfect. No one is ideal. Don't pressurize people to be perfect. As we were leaving the theatre, there's this lady giving out free samples of what we thought were chocolates. And then we realised (after she gave us a bunch), that it's anti-ageing cream. erps

Day 11: Back to Toronto. I was tired, so I didn't push to do anything. Met Jac's friends doing exchange at Waterloo as well. Strolled along the waterfront, saw a magician busking, quite entertaining. Went to Toronto Music Garden, designed by YoyoMa based on Bach's cello suite no. 1. I thought it would be bigger, but oh well, it's quite an interesting design, lots of swirls. Walked in the city a bit, caught whiffs of lovely hot dog smells. Was chilling outside city hall when I saw the old Aussie dude from the Moose trip again. That old dude is quite harmless, but he's rather pervertic. He asked a Brit girl from the trip if he could take nude pics of her. And even more atrociously, he asked another Brit girl if he could have some of her breast milk when she has a baby. Absolute eww.. Anyway, back to the trip, we went to Yoke khee's empty apartment in York Uni at night. Lovely apartment, 1 bedrm but I'll feel very sad living alone in a 1br, no housemates at all. Anyway, thing is, we had no blankets, so we put on a lot of clothes and snuggled ourselves to sleep.

Day 12: Niagara Falls. Back with Moose. Went to a winery and tasted wines. Ice wine is fantastic. Too bad it's freakingly expensive. And I actually liked the white wine that I tasted, much better than Jason's whites. Haha. For once I'm not a minor. Went to see the falls and it was spectacular. So much water, and as usual, with these huge things, you won't suspect that there's such a spectacular thing until you get right next to it. The river looks very normal, just like the Ottawa River, and then, wow, huge falls. Saw many many rainbows. I'm going to stop making wishes, cos every time I make a wish, bad things happen. Stop. Next to Niagara is this Vegas like place, with casinos, hotels, restaurants, shops, absolutely touristy area. Saw Niagara at night, with the lights all turned on. Oh yeah, I was very happy at the falls cos it's right across NY state and I got Cingular signal. And I called many many people. Finally, no more roaming.

Day 13: Chinatown dim sum! Then Chinatown. We went into almost every bakery we saw to look for good mooncakes. Haha, I'm happy cos I love bakeries. Got my bo luo bao =). The fruits at chinatown are so beautiful.. I just wish to live there. Toronto feels like HK, lots of people, lots of traffic, lots of tall buildings. Sent Jacinth to Greyhound where she left in a hurry, and I went on roaming the streets of Toronto. Eaton is a huge shopping mall. I haven't been in indoor shopping malls since Singapore. Toronto and Montreal have great shopping.

Day 14: Back to San Diego. Flew over the Grand Canyon. It looks huge even from the sky.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Been having MSN chats with this distant relative in China. I don't know what our exact relationship is, but I never figure out such things. Something about my grandma's sister's granddaughter or something like that. Anyway, point is, I type in English and she types in Chinese. And we have a perfectly functional conversation this way. Amazing.
Pavarotti died. Didn't think he was that old.

Watched Chicago the musical. Better than the movie definitely. More exciting, funnier, more dancing, better stage effects. I thought the choreography was great, there were some fantastic picture moments. The dance was fun to watch, the ad was right, it's meant for mature audiences. It's way too seductive for kids. The songs and music were, well I never thought the music from the movie was great anyway. The conductor was cute though. She's not only a conductor, but an announcer and an actress. The most amazing thing was that there was this lady reporter in the show who sings soprano. About 3/4 through the show, they sang something about things are not always what they seem, and woosh, they took off the lady reporter's wig, and guess what? She's a guy. The soprano was a guy.

Was talking to Fei today. I was bored waiting for my failed experiments to run. She was bored waiting for her book to be printed. She said she's almost 10 years older than me. The other day, Sheng was saying that when he was in Singapore, I was still in primary school. So I did some counting that I haven't done in a while, and I realised that by the time I'm in their position, about to graduate, I'll be almost 30 too. Wow that's old. I'm glad I'm still a minor. I want to stay young. And since no one have kids during postdoc, if these people ever have kids, it'll be in their 30s.

P said today, let's just focus on getting the kos and characterising them, I don't think you need those constructs for your honours thesis.
Expectations are dropping. Students are disappointing creatures, they can't do anything right, can they? Not the masters student, nor the undergrad. At the end of the day, they'll just screw your thing up, you'll still have to be the superwoman, to work for your own paper..

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Seems like I don't blog much nowadays unless something major happens. What's a blog for anyway? For me? For you? Maybe it doesn't have a purpose.

Summer's almost over. I've accomplished nothing. Didn't surf, didn't get a KO cell line, didn't write anything, didn't research much into schools/ programs/ labs, didn't watch Spreckels organ play, didn't read many books, didn't practise any instru.. The good thing about having classes is that there's someone forcing me to accomplish something, at the end of 10 weeks, no matter what happens, I'll have known more about a subject than I did at the beginning. There's someone flooding me with information, and something would surely have diffused in, and with some energy used, more can be taken up. No classes, learning stops.

On the other hand, I have got some stuff done. Went paragliding. Visited LA, Pasadena, Caltech, SF. Went boogie-boarding and rode the waves. Went to the huge outlets at San Ysidro. Going to watch Chicago the musical tomorrow. Learned quite a bit on how to exist sandwiched between 2 people who don't like each other. Heard many stories of the things people do to get what they want. Watched dicty crawl. Studied a bit for GRE. Acquired the skill of repeating myself over and over again so I have enough stuff to talk for 2h. Danced and had a great time. Watched a meteor shower and made a bunch of wishes.

Going Canada for 2 weeks. Travelling mainly alone. Hopefully will meet some nice people in the group to tag along at some places. I'm excited over the trip. Itinery sounds fun, even though it's going to cost me quite a bit of money, and I'm going to miss the LJSO audition and probably not be able to take it for the quarter. But what the heck, I want the break. I want to be out of lab, away from the failed experiments. Maybe my luck will change when I get back.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Aiyah, missed the lunar eclipse. Even after Jane reminded me.

Oh wow. Blogger supports video uploading. How cool.

Lab dynamics are way too dramatic. My goal in this lab has changed. I'm pretty sure that publishing is out of the question, I'm not even sure how good my rec can be at the end. So the goal now is to learn troubleshooting techniques and people skills. Make friends. Do well in GRE, make sure I make good enough impressions on my teaching professors to get fantastic recs. If expts don't work, why should I stress over them? It's not like I'm going to get any amazing results anyway. Take things easy and focus more on life.

"You can't always be nice and gentle in life. Sometimes you have to be strong and angry." ~ Vanetta on making strong strikes in frappes. She's really amazing. I can't believe I can quote so much from a dance class.

It's this thing about attitude. Zhen zhen said some time ago that we have all been conditioned to be workaholics. Once we're free, we feel weird, awkward, want to look for something to do. Right now, lab's filling that space. And I enjoy my rec class so much cos it's somewhere else to focus my energy and attention on, something else that I can work on. People work hard in that class, I think a lot of it is because we're all used to working hard, of trying to be perfect. I'm never good at dance and I'll never be a dancer, but it's great fun now to work at it and feel the improvements. Same with lab, a lot of us are working even though conditions are terrible because of this belief that if we work hard enough, things will go fine. Brute force. K's student should never have stayed for an extra yr, M should leave now, TJ should have left a long time ago, maybe I should have found a way to wriggle into some other lab. But we didn't. Fear of change. Hope that things will get better. Believing that working hard helps. Stumbling blocks that a free soul wouldn't have. What to do?
Check other blog for details.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

"Pretend you're confident."
"Think happy thoughts. Think of a day when things went better than expected."
That was so aimed at me. Haha.

We were talking about how americans are brought up to think that they are the best in the world, not completely wrong i guess, in many aspects, they are better than the rest. But we were saying how this attitude of we're the best and we don't need any help isn't exactly the best attitude to take. You get arrogant, close-minded, and stick to your own silly ways. And when you do need help, no one's going to give you any cos you think you're the biggest and mightiest. But then again, when Bush wanted to fight Afghan or Iraq, many countries were supporting him.. including this tiny island in SEA. So, moral of story, don't ever claim that you're the best, or that you know everything, cos you might just find yourself out of friends and out of help when you need it. Just know that you're good, don't have to tell everyone =)

This has nothing to do with pretending to be confident.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Perseids

Woohoo. My first meteor shower! So glad that I'm in the Northern hemisphere now. Went to Torrey Pines Gliderport to watch the shower. It was so cloudy that we almost left, then luckily, it cleared up enough so there's a big piece of open sky above us. And we lay down to watch stars shoot past. Amazing. We counted 15-20 in that 1h that we were there, it's a lot less than what has been seen by others, but we weren't there at its peak, and the sky's not totally clear. And it's amazing enough. When a star shoots by, everyone goes Wooo... Fun spotting them.

It was sufficiently dark enough to see a few things in the sky. I think I had a glimpse of the Milky Way, but I couldn't be sure cos it could be a wisp of cloud. I was looking for the big dipper and didn't realise that it's really low and can't be seen. I was looking for that teapot and didn't realise that it too was low. Too bad my star chart was used as a pillow. Haha. But we saw the summer triangle and some other stuff. I'm pretty sure I saw Pegasus' square. Star gazing is fun. Romantic? No. Not when there are 10 people trying to squeeze onto a tiny mat.

Made a bunch of wishes. Don't think they are coming true. That's sad. Maybe I shouldn't have made wishes on the Indian burial ground.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

La Scala


This is where I live. Nice right?



The extreme high ceilings


The view outside. Mormon church in the distance.

July 4th photos


Waiting for the sun to set


Everyone prepared with lounge chairs




Monday, 6 August 2007

I really like my metabolic professor. Ok, this is not the first time I'm saying this. He has good professor-student interaction skills. Anyway, today he was saying how grad school demographics has changed and that nowadays there are a lot more people from liberal arts colleges than from big research universities. And I was wondering what's wrong with people like us from research uni, and he said, "Undergrads in research universities get experience working in labs during undergrad and they get put off by the stressful environment in labs, hasn't your PI put you off yet?"

Hmm.. Is he supposed to?
Then he said, "People compete with each other for authorships, for recognition, and if the PI doesn't deal very well with things like this, the environment can be very stressful".

I totally agree. This authorship thing is too connected to everyone's personal career. It takes too long and too much energy to get a paper and if at the end of the day the effort's not recognised, there's no decent paper, your career is quite screwed. It's no wonder that people fight so much. But then again, that's no reason to be mean, even less reason to step over someone else in the lab..

Sometimes I think these people behave so childishly. Something happens that they don't like and they run off to tell teacher. Man, aren't they embarrassed at their own inability to solve the problems? Not 爽 at people then start shouting at each other, shout until the teacher's office, "-cher, he bully me.." But prof's darn zai. He chased them out and made them settle on their own. Haha.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Many times I worry too much about trying to play the right role in the right place. Should I be a nice appreciative audience, should I be a constructive critic, should I be a robot? Am I out of place? I wonder why I feel such a big need to fit in, or to find the right niche. Sometimes I get confused over what that is. Maybe I should just stop paying so much attention to what I should be, and let it run by feel...

"If you can't remember any of those things, I have one more trick, just think of this: I am going to do it. It's simple but it works." ~Vanetta
It's amazing, and totally unscientific. But it really works.

Wandering around the practice rooms today. Now that I don't have a key, I have to go in the daylight hunting for an empty room with a piano that sounds relatively in tune and doesn't have too terrible a tone. And since my memory's pretty bad, I don't know which room has the good piano and so I opened the first door I see. And there it is, an electronic organ standing there, waiting for me. So I played it. Techniques organ, pretty old, like everything else there, but it's fun. Sadly it doesn't come with a pedalboard, have to reserve it somewhere. I'll do that some day. It was fun playing with registrations once again, feeling organ keys, holding chords again. Suddenly every progression sounds nice. Haha. I'm amazed at how much the electone is conserved from these ancestors.. Same volume pedal, same pitch bend/ rhythm stop footswitch, same knee lever. I need to figure out how to save registrations, maybe my new project should be on an organ instead of a computer.. Exciting. Made my day great despite the lack of colonies on my plates.

I'm ripping 5min worth of dvd and it's taking forever.. sian..

Friday, 20 July 2007

1 word. 1 word made me so happy today. I thought that something's terribly wrong when I saw my dicty clearing bacteria like crazy today. And P seriously sounded like I made a mistake. Then she showed S. S looked under the microscope and said, "phenotype". Yay! How exciting it is if it's a real phenotype! We'll see in a few weeks. I can totally understand why people work on nights and weekends, people work 12h days and 7 day weeks. If there're some exciting results coming up, I'll want to rush it out. If I can save a day by working till sunset, then I'll stay till sunset. But I have no wish or need to be workaholic yet.

Then the skepticism comes, the questioning, the what-if-the-cells-were-bad, what if it's not even dicty.. and so on. Science, we can never trust what we see, can we? I wonder how they communicate on the other side of the lab. Watching them today was really hilarious. People speaking in this language that is not their first language. Sometimes it's exasperating to get a simple point across.

Harry Potter! Can't believe I stayed at the bookstore for 3h waiting for it to be released today. Haha. It was actually pretty fun. People were really excited. The little girls near us who were waiting were like, oh can we ask that guy if we could touch the book?

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Looking at the 3f photo on the blog. Even though I haven't seen most of them much since 3f time, somehow I feel that we looked so young in the 3f picture. Maybe it's because I have been looking at people who are older now, or maybe it's just that I've aged.

Having sequences align nicely. That felt so good. Finally got 1 thing working. I'm still admiring it. Haha.

I've always have something to fill up my life with. Something that takes up all the time I have. This summer I'm really free and suddenly I feel this emptiness, what am I going to do with the free time? When I was in Singapore, I always had my organ and tv. For the last 2 years here, well, I've always have some reading to do, and when I do have time, I just sleep or hang out online doing nothing. Now what? Life is getting boring. What is life? How do you live it? man. i'm getting philosophical again. I will read Nietzsche before this summer ends.

I asked a blunt question. I got an answer. Now I'm lost once again. Why did I do what I did? Should I even think so much? On the one hand, I really can't stand some things, on the other.. there was a point in the anser.. haiz.. let's just go strawberry picking.

Talked to this girl from dance today, haha, we had the same experience when we were young, same hair problem, same yelling teachers. I am so glad I switched class. This is getting fun, though I'm pretty sure my enthusiasm won't last the whole quarter.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

People have such different lives. Harry has to worry about getting killed by Voldemort and all Ron is worrying about is his Potions finals. Harry looks into the mirror and sees his parents, Ron looks in and sees himself as headboy, holding Quidditch Cup. I feel like Ron. What am I doing every day? Why am I worrying about such trivial stuff?

People are selfish. I want to stop selling fish. What am I doing? Am I that heartless? gws.. for all of us..

Friday, 6 July 2007

Becoming very conscious of race lately. No matter how blind the society tries to be towards colours, people still look at each other as of different races, different cultures. I'm hanging around with too many chinese people, which is absolutely fine with me. I wonder how I'll feel when I go to a place with demographics like those in the midwest, or for that matter, anywhere else except for the West Coast. I don't have this feeling of I'm a different colour when I speak to non-Asians, but I'm pretty sure many of them see me first as a Chinese before anything else. It's like watching some sitcom/ drama, say Friends, and an Asian dude shows up. Not too usual eh? Summer classes. The demographics is even more skewed, 3/4 of the class are Asians, even in my music class. In labs, most if not all the undergrad lab assistants (fly carers, solution makers, autoclave people) are Asians. Someone who's obviously very sensitive to this high Asian population asked me why only Asians want lab jobs. I don't have a good answer except that maybe other people can find more interesting jobs, and that Asians are more likely to take summer classes and stay in San Diego in summer. She wasn't convinced at all.

Went to a picnic with my aunt's family and her colleagues. Her Chinese female colleagues. There are a lot of them. They are all so similar, stay in the same area with the same good schools, have young kids who need to be sent to many different classes everywhere.. Anyway, we had a picnic in a park on July 4th. The Americans next to us bbq-ed strips of meat. The latinos next to them made burgers and hotdogs and chicken. We had a potluck of all sorts of complex Chinese goodies. 粽子, 担担面, 凉粉, 素什锦, 绿豆汤, 杏仁豆腐.. Ok, you get the idea. Food is so much better than burgers, but it's not anything they'll appreciate. Just like how many Chinese never accepted eating raw vegetables.. There is definitely a culture difference that cannot be eliminated.

Last point. This person was saying how she doesn't feel like she's going 'home' when she's going back to her country and visiting parents and friends and so on cos she has no plans to stay at where 'home' is and work there. There's this conflict between integration and preserving the difference. How much should the society force integration and how much should individuals/ peoples retain their own characteristics?

4th of July. My first in this country. Fireworks are not that spectacular. Fireworks festival last yr in Singapore was much more impressive. But this country has really a lot of nationalistic songs. They can last through that 20min of fireworks. And I didn't realise that 76 trombones is an American song. Went to Coronado to watch fireworks. At a resort. There's a guy entertaining everyone before the fireworks and he has a fantastic voice. So had fun listening to him sing with his guitar and had more fun roasting marshmellows making smores =)

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Why does the moon look so big when it's rising?

Almost everyone has noticed the same effect: the moon indeed appears larger when it is close to the horizon than when it is overhead. Yet you can prove to yourself that this is strictly an illusion. Hold a dime at arm's length in front of the moon. Regardless of the moon's elevation in the sky, the dime will just cover it.

The "moon illusion," as it is sometimes called, is entirely conjured up by the human brain. There are still several explanations for what the actual process might be -- some contend it's brought about by having terrestrial frames of reference right near the moon when its rising (trees, houses, telephone poles, etc.), allowing the brain to "focus" on it more closely.

Another theory says the illusion centers of the human perception of the sky as an overturned bowl, more distant on the horizon than overhead, which fools the brain into "correcting" the size of the moon for that scenario. In any case, here is a final test to prove that it's all in the mind. When no one is watching and the full moon is near the horizon, bend over and
look at the moon upside down from between your legs (!). The effect vanishes, presumably because you have flipped the scene reaching the brain by placing the horizon above the moon.
http://oldsite.smasweb.org/faq.html
http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/bigmoon_000105.html

Why do male dogs lift up one leg to pee?
Dogs descend from wolves and packs of wolves in the wild have certain territories. They establish their territories by marking the perimeters with urine. They males lift a leg and pee on a tree so any passing wolf will be able to smell it and know he better get out of the territory that isn't his. So it's to pee higher.
As for the females, both cats and dogs, lions and wolves squat. The female doesn't have the dominate role (except in hyena packs) so they don't need to mark their territory like a male does.
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070613015514AAdmfGC

Copyright, M.J. Grimson & R.L. Blanton
Biological Sciences Electron Microscopy Laboratory, Texas Tech University

People are how funny. Doesn't this look like a chiobu. Looks even kind of holy.

My pictures from the recent trip

Thursday, 28 June 2007


The coast


The gull and Ghiradelli Square


The bike, the bridge and the boat


Crissy Fields





Crissy Fields stream and the world famous bridge











The sunny seaside town of Sausalito. Think of their view. Wow.


kiddies playing


This guy is a rock artist. He makes those hard to balance rock structures.




Sailing club at Tiburon. So many of them, was really scared that the ferry might hit one of them.


The bike parking lot on the ferry. The no. of bikes is pretty impressive.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

We just had to try a tour, despite everyone's advice that Chinese tours suck. All they do is drive you to the place, say ok, now everyone get down take photo, then drive you off to the next place. I didn't think that was such a big deal, since I didn't need much hiking anyway. I was more afraid of them dropping us at some expensive cheaterbug souvenir shop and leave us there forever.

The reality was that we did drive a whole lot. And guess what? The driver doesn't know his directions. So we spent forever crusing around trying to find the right highway. Being stuck in a minivan with HK aunties and uncles who complain at every chance and losing your way regularly is not fun. I have absolutely forgotten how good Cantonese or Chinese people in general are at complaining. Even the way they speak normally sounds condescending. Gosh. But at least I can understand what they say..

Highlights of the trip:
1) Crater Lake. It's so blue. So serene. So beautiful. Haha, I had a fortune cookie that day that said that I didn't need to go to the mountains to be myself, that I can be productive in the noise. But the mountain was really beautiful.
2) Caves at Lava Beds. Caves created by flowing lava. Interesting cave structures. Can see how the lava used to flow and how it solidified. It's like history caught in action.
3) Catching up on sleep
4) Biking San Francisco coastline, Golden Gate Bridge and cruising down to Sausalito. That was absolutely the most amazing experience I've had in this trip. Firstly the solidarity was very enjoyable, secondly I got to so many places that I would never have gone if I didn't have a bike, like Presidio, Fort Point, Crissy Field and Sausalito. The experience on the bridge was ok, got some nice pictures. The cruise down to Sausalito was heavenly. For that moment, life is perfect. Downhill from the tall bridge all the way to sea level, between hills and flowers into a quaint little seaside town, kind of like La Jolla, filled with galleries and touristy shops.. And I met a group of NTU girls on exchange in Seattle.
5) Alcatraz. Finally got to go to the rock. This military base turned prison turned national park. The audio tour is fantastic, no wonder it's award winning. The stories are so fun. But life in that jail is really sad. A bed, a toilet bowl, a sink, that's all you get. No privacy, almost no entertainment. And oh, they play bridge when they have the priviledge to. Apparently they think that if you think of bridge all day, you won't be thinking of creating trouble. And being a prison guard must be such a boring job too. The jail is like, well, what Chicago looked like. 3 stories of cages on each side of the walkway.
6) Being alone on a trip. First time ever. Even though it's only for a day and a half. It's a good feeling. I can do all that I want, limited only by how much I want to trouble others to take picture for me and hope that they don't screw it up, limited by how much I dare to do things alone.. But overall it was fun. free. narcissistic. as.
7) Lemon tea. Cocktail bun. Eggtart.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Out of vacation. Back to reality.

I realised that I don't have much time left as an undergrad. I haven't changed my mind about undergrad life. I need to travel more. I can't decide if I should go somewhere that I really want to go, like Yellowstone, somewhere where I have friends right now who will not be there in 2 yrs time, like the Midwest, or do something totally different like go on a totally free and easy trip where I buy a train pass and wander around the country for a few weeks.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

My photography skills are going down the drain. Recent photos have been terrrible even though weather has been good. Let's hope I take some nicer pictures in San Francisco.

My socialising skills need terrible brushing ups. And I really really really need to find excuses to socialise with my mentor.. And find a boyfriend.

"i just have this nagging feeling tt once i get back to sg i will feel the peer pressure to conform to whatever norms there are. cf here - there's no need to conform at all because of a clear identity that is distinct from the majority (based on language, colour, culture) and i can be a totally different individual in this society if i so wish to be." ~ hk (copied w/o permission)

Why can't I stop conforming?

Someone actually said they can hear that I'm from Beijing. Wow. I'm amazed. And telling my migration history gets myself confused over my identity again.

I've never been a huge Google fan, I don't go hunting for new Google widgets or anything like that, but I was playing with Google maps today and it's really quite fun. Almost missed my bus because of that. So Singapore's on Google maps and you can go search your house and see it. And yup street view's cool, especially useful since I'm going SF tomorrow.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Now that I've moved in, I realised how huge this place is. It's ginormous. It didn't feel so big when we saw it. I have to walk so many more steps to get from one side of the room to the other. In Canyon Park, when more than 2 people come visit me, there's hardly any space left in my room. Here, well let's just say that I can easily throw a party. The cathedral-like ceiling makes me feel small. Maybe that's how churches intimidate people.

Packing was a chore, moving a pain in every body part, and now there's unpacking and organising to do. The thing about moving to a sparkling new/ clean place is that my stuff are not that clean and new and seem a little out of place. A dusty table in a clean room. Kinda weird. And since the place is so clean, I don't feel good dropping hair all over. Haha. Tired. Sleep. Nite.

Friday, 15 June 2007

I'm running on adrenaline.. Not good. Or maybe it's cortisol, doesn't matter, just not good. Too much free sugar flowing.

Packing and moving are depressing things to do. Leaving one place of settlement for another is a major change, even if i'm using the same bed, same table, same everything.. If it wasn't because I've got tons to do and that there's some house-trashing party later, I would have sunken into depression. Especially with the recent depressing events in lab. Just wait till the adrenaline from exams fall off, when everyone leaves, when life's supposed to go back normal.. I don't know what will happen. P asked me today why I'm going for a holiday. She thinks I'm leaving to take a break from what happened in lab. I told her no. Why am I so defensive? I need to take a break, I need to find something to do, something to distract me from the end of year glooms, something else to worry about than what should I do in a boring house on a boring night. 5 days is pretty short but I hope it's enough, and I pray hard that it won't ruin the relationship btw me and my future housemate. I have a tendency to ruin relationships with roommates on trips.

Moral of story (let's hope the story has ended)
1. Check everything that I'm told, make sure I know as much as the teller knows, stop depending on faith
2. Don't do anything that looks secretive, no secrets, people are too paranoid
3. Join all the cliques, be good friends with ALL, I don't want to be dragged into politics, I'm just an undergrad who has been here for only 3 mths.
4. Learn to talk smoothly. Man I really wished I was some smooth talker yesterday, sweet talk people. I need that skill. The problem with being a good kid when I'm young is that I don't have much experience in trying to sweet talk myself out of trouble.. Never knew what to do under such situations. And people are forcing me to do something.. Aargh!
5. Talk more. If P wasn't so vocal, she would never figure out what we were doing. If I had talked more, these dumb things wouldn't have happened.
6. Grow up. I'm not a kid any more. I can't pretend to be a kid any more. People are putting me in a very difficult spot. Dragging me here and there to talk privately. I need to be an existent, take charge of my life
7. Be an existent! Be myself. Stop being so aware of myself and differences btw me and others. Stop trying so hard to blend in. I'll never blend in totally, should just be different, be individual. Mill says geniuses are the most individual people. So did Nietzsche. I should strive to be a genius, right?
8. Stick with my philosophy. Things are what they are. What's done can't be undone. No one's going to pretend it didn't happen (even though they act like that), live with it. Make the best out of it. End of story.
I'm really glad R is on holiday right now. Don't want to be dealing with another person. So jiayou jiayou, try to get clones before he comes back. =)

That's way too much typing for one post.
so apparently I can't do anything at 12am. All the servers are down, I can't book tickets at all. Sian.

End of finals. phew. Yet another quarter over. End of Hum. I am going to miss Hum, I'm going to miss reading a book a week, discussing one ideology a week, going through 1 philosopher a week. Quite an amazing experience. The essay today was a good one, I thought it was the best question that has ever came out. I'm usually disappointed with the exam essay questions cos I think there isn't much interesting to write about them but there was one question today on what is the point of Humanities. And there was this quote about how the world is a devastating place, full of troubles and loneliness, what humanities tries to do is to find some light of living, find some meaning in life and that humanities never give a complete answer. I thought that was highly appropriate, that I am trying to make sense of my existence since I knew about this thing called philosophy and that reading about all these people who have got it figured out didn't immediately help me figure out stuff, I'm still clueless but at least I know now that it's possible to find something to live for.

I am interested in doing this philosophy of the week thing. Think it'll be fun.

I'm sensing the onset of a major depression. End of school year, start of uncertainties, start of new life in new apt with new people doing relatively new things. It's not looking particularly optimistic. Or maybe it's just the past week that's been draining me mentally and emotionally.

A lot of things to blog about. I've been oppressed, suppressing/ repressing all these things that I wanted to blog but never got the chance to cos of exams. But I'm tired and all I want to do is sleep.

I guess I have to put this down before I sleep, in the other blog, way too boring to put here.

Friday, 8 June 2007

I don't know how people can concentrate with computers in front of them in class. Apparently they can stay quite focused and look at the ppt and take notes only. Anyway, today's class was on ethics and no one really care about ethics so people were surfing the net. I was happily distracted by this article on someone's screen.
OMG my mom joined facebook
Read it, you facebook users, esp you college-online-devices-savvy-um..non-college-age-users. Now that's a long word.

I've noticed that people don't tend to call their dorms or apartments 'home'. Why not? When people ask me where I'm going at the end of a day, I say 'home', and they go, what? you're going home, like home home? No I'm going back to my apartment. What's wrong with calling my apartment home? It's where I live. When my parents call, they never refer to my apartment as my home, they always say dorm or something of that sort, but they call my aunt's place her home. When friends (from sd) call and ask where I am, and I say home, they will repeat "in your 'apartment'"? Come on, this is my home. I live here for the large majority of the year. Yeah, in my life-wise, it is temporary, but so is everywhere else isn't it? A large proportion of the university staff and faculty are not SD locals, are they staying in dorms too? Settle in, settle down, live instead of stay.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

I koped this from a forum somewhere, thought it's quite apt and funny. I don't know who the original author is, the forum guy koped this from somewhere else..

国家忽悠国家,叫外交   
政府忽悠百姓,叫政策   
百姓忽悠政府,叫犯罪   
领导忽悠百姓,叫号召   
百姓忽悠领导,叫捣乱   
领导忽悠领导,叫交易   
百姓忽悠百姓,叫生意   
父母忽悠孩子,叫教育   
孩子忽悠父母,叫欺骗   
男人忽悠女人,叫调戏   
女人忽悠男人,叫勾引   
男女相互忽悠,叫爱情   
群主忽悠群员,叫管理   
群员忽悠群主,叫造反   
我也忽悠一下,叫祝福!

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Anything, Whatever

http://www.anything.com.sg/
Check it out. This is like our random bridge bidding. So random. Very cool names, apt for Singapore.
I don't predict that it'll last long though.. People like to know what it is that they're having, the excitement will last for a while, but once people find a taste they don't like, they're likely to avoide the product completely. Since Singaporeans are not exactly very adventurous, unless they post some hints on what each can contains, I doubt this product will be popular for long.

If this is alcoholic, it might be a bigger hit.

Restaurants should have random menus. We should have a random restaurant generator, help us choose places to eat every friday. We should live stochastic lives.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Overly friendly (excessively social) personality
Individuals with Williams syndrome have a very endearing personality. They have a unique strength in their expressive language skills, and are extremely polite. They are typically unafraid of strangers and show a greater interest in contact with adults than with their peers.
~ Williams Syndrome Association

So it's possible to be "overly friendly", and that is a disease. Is sociability genetic? Do I have an AS gene?

Sunday, 20 May 2007

There are times where I feel that I need to write, but when I do sit in front of a manuscript paper or a keyboard, I go blank. Like now, I feel that there are stuff inside me rushing to get out, but I can't change them to something pleasurable. How does sublimation work? Composition class is out of the question, or maybe it's not.. but I wonder what they teach..

Monday, 14 May 2007

Philip Glass composed incidental music for two separate theater productions of the story of Metamorphosis by Kafka. These two themes, along with two themes from the Errol Morris film The Thin Blue Line, were incorporated into a five-part piece of music for solo piano entitled Metamorphosis. ~Wikipedia

The thing about hanging out with seniors who are graduating is that I play as much as them, and don't study as much as I need to. Like right now, I should be reading Hannah Arendt or at least sketching my Hum essay outline, but I can't bring myself to do work, so I'm doing something which my superego approves as being productive such as blogging (compared to watching Survivor or playing some old grandmother's game). Well, undergrad life is about playing, enjoying life.. I'm not so sure about the going through boys like snap part.. but I'm not complaining about the playing part.

Friday. Grad dinner. Little Italy is a happening place at night. It's very pretty, a very quaint feeling, a great place to hang out if I'm a tourist, nothing like quiet La Jolla at all. Food was ok, service wasn't bad. We wouldn't mind slowness anyway since all we're doing is sit and chit chat. So many people are graduating. It won't be the same next year.

Sat. Kayaking at La Jolla Shores. Wow it was fun. Kayaking in the Pacific Ocean, in a marine reserve, seeing orange fishies swimming around, going through caves like Disneyland rides, trying not to open mouth towards the sky to prevent birdies from pooping into undesirable places, laughing at the noisy sea lions, admiring the giant kelps, having a surfer dude guide, enjoying the sun, sea and company, and best of all, riding the wave back on land. It's like surfing on a kayak. =) Just try not to fall into the water, it's cold.

Sun. Ultimate unproductive day. Went La Scala and signed a lease. I think it's done in a moment of impulse, my impulse, but it's done. I don't want to spend too much energy on this. People ought to veto me when I do impulsive things, but since no one said anything. Well. Went home intending to read about antisemitism, and ended up playing Simpsons road rage trying to hit lampposts and radioactive wastes and logs and so on.. Did minimal reading, went out for dinner, and rented The Prestige to watch. Magicians are brilliant. Obsession is an understatement for these people. Tricks are their lives. So much sacrifice is made for the climax trick.

Some stats to see where you stand.
US
High school graduates, percent of persons age 25+, 2000: 80.4%
Bachelor's degree or higher, pct of persons age 25+, 2000: 24.4%
Singapore
% of P1 cohort who
Sat for GCE ‘N’ or ‘O’ Level Examinations and had at least 5 ‘N’ level passes or 3 ‘O’ level passes, 2005: 86.9%
Admitted into university: 23.1% (I don't know if this figure considers those in universities outside the country)

So conclusion, if you're in university, you're among the lucky 1/5 of your batch that made it/ want to be there. Even if you scrape through college and barely graduate, you'll still have a higher qualifications than 80% of the population.

I don't know if I mentioned this, I liked John's philosophy of teaching because he believes that everyone has the capability to get an A. I don't feel like it's impossible to get As, even though my As are few. Looking at the stats, at how uni admissions/ process filters out so many people, is the assumption that everyone can make it present? Just finished grading/ scoring the midterm, some people got pathetically little points, I feel sad for them. Some of them really wrote a lot of stuff, nice and neat, but wrong. Do they not care about this class? Or some people just can't do it? I guess so far, I've been able to do reasonably well in classes, I wonder what it feels to be be stuck getting 50% all the time, unable to improve. Well actually I know.. After my long series of Bs, I just give up on that class and just go get Bs.. Can I do something? Anything?

Getting out of point. My point was that so far we've been able to surf through school, bobbing up and down near the top easily. Shouldn't I stop where I'm still good in before entering and sinking in the next phase of education? I'm most certain that grad sch isn't for everybody. If only a quarter of the pop makes it through college, I'm sure only a quarter of this, or even less, makes it through professional and grad sch. Am I among those?
Happiness is driven by hope and novelty. Once you achieved your target, the bubble of happiness that's been growing bigger all this while explodes, flooding you with happiness, for an instant, and then it evaporates, flows away, diffuse into the atmosphere.

I remembered that I wanted to blog, but I can't remember what I wanted to blog about. Maybe next time.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Death Valley photos
http://www.imagestation.com/6127277/3920310110

Yup I went to Death Valley, 2 weeks back, over the weekend, no special occasion, except that Jason finished his Qs, grad sch's tough man.. Death Valley, quite a few different environments there, the cooler high altitudes, the freakingly hot lower altitudes near and below sea level, the sandy desert, the rocky mountains, the few oasis with salty rivers, the plains of salt.. Very interesting. We hiked, I slept somewhere on the slope of the mountain instead of going to the peak. We slept outside in the open air cos it was way too hot, we talked loads of crap. In short, it was a great trip, I finally saw a real sandy desert! And company was lots of fun. Check out the photos =)

People always tell me that sun yanzi's chinese is not good. The other day I was listening to a long interview with sun yanzi and I realise that I speak like her. In other words, my Chinese is going down the drain..

Hosted senior house last sat. I was lousy. I can't talk and make sense to so many people. I should just strike a deal with whoever i'm hosting with next time for me to be the planner and he the executer.

Honours banquet. I actually know quite a few people this time. People from my dorm last year, from classes, TAs, professors.. Too bad too bad too bad that there wasn't any professor at my table. Perrin was real fun last year. Think there are much more students this year. So speakers talked about the Renaissance man, the Revelle philosophy and reminded me what on earth I want to get out of college. I wanted to learn all sorts of things when I just got out JC, I wanted to have a basic knowledge (at least know that something exists) of many many things. And the doctor, I forgot his name, was right, if nothing else, Hum taught us how to read. I'm in the middle of my undergrad life now, I shall save the conclusion of Revelle life for graduation.

Honours banquets are always a wake up call, a jerk to alertness and a call for evaluation of where exactly am I in my life, where am I on the path to any goals, how far have I achieved wrt expections from others. It also shows what others have done, and what's possible to be done. Of course it's also a practice of socialising skills, half an hour of pre-dinner mingling and dinner table conversation need skills. It might be lucky that my table is purely undergrad, we talked about student life instead of about chemistry and nuclear energy like we did last year. And I know my Hum professor was talking about Kafka with his table and Caldwell was saying that he was tempted to ask us all abt categorical imperatives. Revelle profs. Haha. Interestingly, the only person that looked sincerely happy to see me was john. I should go talk to him some day. Probably after I'm done with this Hum series.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Ways to be sociable:
1. Act as if you've known the person forever. Crack jokes, make fun of them, talk crap.
2. Be well-versed in all topics, so that you have something substantial to say no matter what topics come up.
3. Be ultra-nice, find things to talk about, make small talk out of nothing
4. Let the other person talk and be a great listener
5. Be a riddlebag/ jokebag and throw out riddles and jokes continuously to entertain everyone =)
I find it useful to educate oneself on the weather. It makes good conversation for 1 minute. Great elevator topic.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

After a sickening (literally) night and morning and tylenol, I think I'm back to normal and shall attempt Death Valley this weekend. I'm pretty sure I took the wrong type of medicine that day, cos I felt terrible after taking it, but then it could be that I feel terrible anyway.
So cos I was sick, I skipped my regulation class in the morning... and the one time i skip class, got caught. Prof asked Sheng after class, so.. why didn't that girl in our lab come to class today? Hmm..

Dicty is such a cute name. It sounds like this cute little round animal thing right? Want to know what it is? Google dicty.

My professor was Krebs' assistant for a week. How cool. He said he said things like Geez you know, I really like your cycle. It's real cool.

Had the most amazing Hum discussion today. Ran out of stuff to talk about 30min into class. So TA said, ok, you guys can come ask me about questions on the paper topics or anything else, if not, we're done. So normally if I hear something like that, I'll just turn in my homework and leave. But then no one moved. Like we just can't believe that Hum discussion ended early. Come on, John never had enough time for discussions, he was Always dragging class.. Anyway, Dan came over and we started talking about paper topics and stuff.. and he's so smart.

Freud. Still looks like fraud to me. I should read this guy before I condemn him as a fraud but I really think he's so non-scientific. Dan made this comparison today. He said that Freud is like Hubbard. His id, ego and superego is like scientology. A whole bunch of terms and classifications without scientific evidence.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

http://tw.news.yahoo.com/article/url/d/a/070420/2/d6pm.html
Last paragraph is scary

Smart Chimp
http://www.pri.kyoto-u.ac.jp/ai/index-E.htm
Watch the videos, esp those on Ai, amazing.
Apparently the grad students can't beat Ai on the number memory thing

Friday, 20 April 2007

What is wrong with the world? Why do people bring a gun to school and shoot schoolmates and professors? How did the world allow a person like the shooter develop to what he is? Why didn't anyone help him out of this crazy mess? There was this episode of CSI where passengers in the first-class cabin of a plane mobbed, beat and killed this guy who was being ultra irritating because he had a terrible headache. Absolutely irritating. After the CSIs found out what happened, they had a discussion of whether the passengers are justified in what they did. People were split both ways and Grissom said, if only someone asked if the guy was alright, if only someone tried to find out what was wrong with the guy, none of this would have happened. If only someone tried helping this shooter before he turned desperate, brilliant minds wouldn't need to be lost.

What is the point of philosophising without action? I think we're doing too much philosophising and not enough action. I wonder what life would be like if I try, say 1 philosopher's philosophy every month. Live exactly like what the philosopher thinks is the right way for humans to live. Could be pretty fun, great learning experience, but would be real tiring.

Really, I'm too busy moving through life to live it, understand it, feel it. Philosophy reading only makes sense when I need it. Right now I just feel bombarded, too much hum.

Why must humans always look upwards? Who decided that the goal of humanity is to improve and progress? What if we were made to be stagnant?