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Archive for May, 2006

Denying reality

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

I don’t want to face the fact that New Quincy 304 is no longer really my room.  So I’ve been squatting here, refusing to move out.  Even though everyone else in the suite moved out three days ago.  Even though the whole college moved out three days ago.  And I plan to continue squatting here until they physically force me out.  Which will probably be in about a week.

I’ve been busy catching up with all the little things that get neglected during the semester.  Like doing laundry, and keeping up with the two dozen magazine subscriptions I have 😉  I’ve taken a bunch of guilty-pleasure light fiction books out of the libraries (anyone want to guess at the titles?  They’re all pretty prominent ones).  And I’ve been slowly packing up my room.  Echoing what I told Ryan yesterday, I’ve thrown out about 8% of the trash that was left in the suite…  which means about 92% of the junk is still strewn across the 7 rooms.  Eeek.

I’ve also been working hard for my professor in an attempt to buffer my battered bank account from the impending onslaught of travelling for 11 weeks to 18 countries across four continents.

For people who want to know, here’s the rough itinerary for the Dins’ World Tour 2006, which begins in just over a week:

Dublin (6/10-6/13)
London (6/13-6/17)
Brussels (6/17-6/20)
Luxembourg (6/20-6/23)
Strasbourg (6/23-6/26)
Munich (6/26-6/29)
Zurich (6/29-7/1)
Athens (7/1-7/4)
Thessaloniki (7/4-7/5)
Rome (7/5-7/9)
Prague (7/9-7/12)
Shanghai (7/13–7/16)
Kyoto (7/17-7/22)
Tokyo (7/23–7/25)
Choshi City (7/26-7/27)
Thailand (7/28–7/30)
HK (7/31-8/4)
Singapore (8/5-8/8)
Jakarta (8/9-8/11)
Bali (8/12-8/15)
Australia (8/16-8/21)
San Francisco (8/21-24)

There will be concerts etc. at every stop, some (but not all) of them will be listed on the Dins website (, but email me if you want the most updated details.

I promise to try and keep this blog updated during the summer, but it’s probably going to be spotty, and pictures will probably have to wait till September.  We’ll see.

Ok, back to work.

Ganong Chocolate Museum (27 May 2006)

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Ganong Chocolate Museum (27 May 2006)

Originally uploaded by J Y.

Good news: The Museum was not only open on a Saturday (unusual), it was having an “Open House”, which meant seemingly unlimited free trayfuls of virtually every product made by the Ganong chocolate and candy company for our sampling pleasure. There were also complimentary beverages, a chocolate fountain with fresh fruit for dipping, chocolate cake etc. Even though we had walked across the border into St Stephen, New Brunswick for the sole purpose of buying Ganong products at the boutique, Ryan and I ended up eating much more free chocolate than we bought in the store.

Bad news: Unknown to me, about 15 minutes before this picture was taken my cellphone had slipped out of my jacket onto the street outside. It would be days before I got it back eventually; I’m just thankful to get it back.

Ryan’s 21st Birthday Cookout (25 May 2006)

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Ryan’s 21st Birthday Cookout (25 May 2006)

Originally uploaded by J Y.

At the Quincy-courtyard barbeque celebrating Ryan’s coming-of-age.

From left: me, Andrew, Ryan, Daren, Stephen, Jenn

All done!

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

I’m done!!  My junior year that is, academically anyway.  And since it’s also Ryan’s 21st birthday, in his honor I’ve had a couple flutefuls of that very lovely champagne I bought months ago.  (A Duval-Leroy Paris brut cuvée spéciale.)  Really delicious stuff 🙂

My Bilingual Arts final exam this afternoon went alright, especially considering that I only started studying this morning…  about two hours before the final itself.  And even then I kept falling asleep out of complacent lethargy.  I’m still optimistic for an A though…  if that missing response paper doesn’t hobble me.

More generally, I really hope none of my grades this semester reflect the fairly unconcerned attitude I had towards my classes by the end.  (My justification is that I’ve just gotten better at taking classes and performing well at lower levels of anxiety and effort.)  Overall I can’t tell yet.  The results are mixed:

– My history final paper received an A-, which was expected but disappointing (honestly it’s because the TF has decided he only likes me as much as an A-.  The paper itself could easily have merited an A).  With any luck I’ll make an A- on this class overall.  An A is simply out of the question now.

– My Postcolonial Narratives final paper (on Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children) received the A grade I expected, given that it is a pretty good paper.  Unsurprisingly, the TF affected a slightly reluctant tone in his evaluation (unsurprising, because I think he’s slightly intimidated, although he really shouldn’t be since he clearly has the upper hand in his field of comparative literature).

– My ESPP conservation biology junior seminar research paper was very well received.  BUT, the professor actually took 4 points off (?!) for my having turned the paper in two days late.  I know, I know, it’s well-deserved, and I really was just completely unconcerned and unmotivated (I wasn’t even that busy).  Still…!  Anyway, I hope this doesn’t mean I get dropped down by a third of a grade…  *worry*

– Environmental Economics…  what can I say?  The very small, and undeserved, stumble months ago during the very easy midterm has doomed me to the B+/A- range.  I pray that I make an A- overall.  I really cannot take another mediocre grade in a concentration class.

Ok, back to packing.  And maybe bed in a little while.

Two to go

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

I hope my major guess on the quantitative section of the Ec1661 final today works in my favor.  And hopefully my very vague glossing over the Coase Theorem was convincing…  oh well.

I forgot to note that I managed to catch the Anglomania exhibition at the Met’s Costume Institute when I was in New York two weeks ago.  I’ve been reading about it everywhere (the New Yorker, the IHT, GQ etc.), so it was nice to finally get to see it.

Just two more finals to go.  Woj is packing and almost ready to leave.  People are buying boxes and renting U-Haul trucks.  I’m really not ready for this!!

Packing it in

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

Gosh, it’s been a long week.

 It’s now the first day of final exams. *tremble*  I took my first one this afternoon (New England history) with barely enough preparation to scrape through acceptably.  I only managed to start reviewing material this morning after my study plans for last night were very unexpectedly and irretrievably interrupted by a surprise hucep partner… oh well, life happens, right?

And the reason why I couldn’t start studying earlier than last night is because I had to stay holed up in my room for nearly 52 hours writing two urgent, miraculously-not-overdue final papers.  I ended writing both final papers (for two completely different classes) on the exact same novel since it’s the only book I’ve read in weeks (hey, it was over 500 hundred very dense pages!!).  It was Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, which I’m very glad to have read.  And reread.  And reread again looking for references for both final papers.  One paper was about the question of human agency versus fate/destiny through the lens of the narrator’s experiences, and the other presented a gothic reading of the text as a democratic narrative…  I hope they fare ok.

Of course all this paper writing commenced as soon as I got back from my long-weekend in New York, which was really lovely.  The weather was glorious (compared to non-stop rain in Massachusetts that even caused floods), the accommodations were deluxe (Adam and I really lucked out with the empty townhouse apartment) and the neighborhood we stayed in was my favorite residential area of Manhattan – the upper West side around the 72nd and 79th street 1-train subway stops.  This is the area with Gray’s papaya, H&H Bagels, Zabar’s, the Barney’s Co-op and more.  I especially like the small village-feel to the area, the proximity to Central Park and great public transport links.  I also got to see Poseidon on an Omnimax screen, which was so much fun.  I’ve always enjoyed disaster movies, and this one was very well done, with great acting, no plot pretensions (about ten minutes of set-up and then *wham* the action begins), interesting challenges for the survivors, fanatastic effects, just enough corny dialogue (hilarious but not grating or tiresome), good pacing, unrelenting disaster scenes (some shamelessly borrowed from other disaster films).  The very best of Titanic and Independence Day.  What was not to love?  🙂

Ok, I have to get back to actually-productive work now.  I have one more final paper to turn in (very shortly) and three more final exams.  It’s the last stretch now, and even now I cannot imagine having to pack my room and put my desktop into storage…

This is it.

PS: I got my senior pictures back, and while they are fairly bad (especially the ones where I’m not smiling), the remarkable thing is that the photographer has somehow managed to make my face look both very drawn and pinched (ie too skinny) but also somehow very puffy.  The lighting was also very very unkind to my skin.  Oh well.

At Alan Jones’ Apartment (14 May 2006)

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

At Alan Jones’ Apartment (14 May 2006)Originally uploaded by J Y.

Resting in the rumpus room after the Dins’ performance at Alan Jones’ annual Mother’s Day social brunch.  Click on the photo to enlarge and/or see many more pictures from the weekend.

Resting in the rumpus room after the Dins’ performance at Alan Jones’ annual Mother’s Day social brunch.  Click on the photo to enlarge and/or see many more pictures from the weekend.From left: me, Jon C., Dan Cohen

Off to the City

Friday, May 12th, 2006

See you in four days.  I’ll be in New York for a longish Dins weekend.

Yes, I’m aware it’s Reading Period.  Sort of.

Flora, thank you for your email – I’ll reply when I get back.  *muah* !


PS: The weatherman says seven straight days of rain.  Seven straight days!!

May showers

Tuesday, May 9th, 2006

The weather has changed again.  Two nights ago it dramatically shifted from a late Spring balminess into a very early Spring mode – windy, rainy, chilly.  On the upside, I’ve had a run of great hair days 🙂

Last night was the Spee’s annual pajama party at Rumour in Boston.  Having gone last year, I decided at the last minute to go again.  This year’s verdict: not as good.  The Dj’s music selections were less than inspired (although each clip was mercilessly short so we didn’t actually suffer through any obscure pieces of music in their entirety), the crowd was mostly people I didn’t know (thank goodness Ming and Ray were there), and the overall atmosphere was a little awkward and restrained.

Needled along by Brandon’s relentless skepticism and cynicism, I’ve had a little think about the objectivity/subjectivity of beauty in the realm of ANTM, FTV, advertising and magazines.  Is there a growing rift between the fashion/advertising industry and the rest of society in terms of what is considered attractive or photogenic?  To me, it seems strange that even as the beauty industry has been continually increasing its repertoire of what can be considered “beautiful” (Karolina Kurkova’s nose, Gemma Ward’s eyes, Doutzen Kroes’ teeth, Lily Donaldson’s shoulders), society–as represented by my (American) peers–has grown ever more vehement in its rejection of these images.  “Too skinny!” is the most frequent complaint, and applies to everyone from Uma Thurman to Evandro Soldati (skinny?!).  So aside from the obvious puzzle of why this ideal/reality gap seems to widening (and whether there is an untapped market for the closing of this gap), I’m also wondering about the possibility of a sort of universal objectivity that would allow for at least a social-scientific recognition of attractiveness* (or at least the prediction of such recognition) perhaps using BMI, WHR or symmetry as a starting point.

*I recall the fascinating study that seemed to indicate that even chickens can judge human attractiveness in a fashion that matches human judgements 🙂

And now back to Rushdie, who shocked me with Saleem’s mutilated digit this afternoon.

What a weekend

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

Pictures below! 

This was a pretty packed weekend, during which I spent almost every waking hour outside my room running around in tails, a tux or a suit and tie.  And of course it was blazingly beautiful (and quite hot).  Various pictures from the weekend are posted below, and of course all these and many more photos are on my flickr page here.

On Friday I had my last seminar meeting, but after giving my presentation I had to leave for the Dins’ first Arts First performance.  Arts First is a truly remarkable weekend where the whole of Harvard becomes an enormous Arts Festival showcasing the full range of artistic activity on campus.  Everything is free and open to the public and the event draws thousands of people from the local community and involves most of the student body.  Although we’ve always performed at Arts First, I’d never really felt the immensity and energy of the event till this year.  Everywhere I went, signs of artistic endeavor were just pouring out of every usable space on campus in back-to-back events stretching over three days.  Installation art, sculpture, pottery, chamber ensembles, jazz bands, rock bands, Celtic bands, a cappella groups, dancesport, ballroom dance, ballet, Filipino bamboo dance, a four-hour performance of Handel’s Messiah…  it’s pretty overwhelming.

Friday was of course also the night I got elected to the Crimson.  Then afterwards Ryan, Ray and I polished off a bottle of wine before we headed over to the Kong for some sustenance, on the way meeting friends streaming back from the big Dudley Co-op party.  As expected, the Kong was jammed full of Holden people fresh from their Messiah afterparty in the Quad.

The next morning was a bit of a challenge, energy-wise, starting with impulsively going to Starbucks with Caitlin before my 11.30am Dins call.  We sang at the big Arts First picnic, where we were introduced by Jon Lithgow ’67 (yes, that Jon Lithgow) who helped to create Arts First a long time back and performed a song dedicated to our outgoing President Summers.

After that I stayed and chatted with Emma and her friends at the picnic before heading over with them to the dance festival at Lowell lecture hall, where I finally got to see Tomas doing his ballroom thing and Kate doing her dancesport thing (wow!).  We had two more Dins performances that day, one on Sanders Theater and one in Connecticut.  The out-of-state gig took all afternoon and much of the evening to travel there and back.  Also of note: I’ve never seen so much pollen in my life as when we sang our CT gig.  The pollen coming off the trees was so over-abundant that it looked a little foggy and there was stuff blowing into our hair and onto our clothes the whole time.  I became sniffly quite quickly and now it seems to have triggered off a a very sinus-y blocked nose that I hope does not develop into some kind of cold.

Then came the Quincy formal!!  I love the Q-Ball, and it was a bit of a pity that the Dins gig kept me off campus till nearly 9pm, so that we only went to dinner (Andrew, Caitlin and I) at about 9.45pm.  Which didn’t make much of a difference in the end because noone actually went to the formal till about 11.30pm anyway.  I had a great time, to say the least.  I’ve always loved dancing, and Caitlin and I amused ourselves more than sufficiently.  We finished up in my room with unbelievably yummy pina coladas made from scratch (Jenn, John and Ryan had bought coconut, pineapple etc.).

And now I’m awake and thinking about the history group project due tomorrow which I haven’t really worked on yet.  *gulp*

Goodbye weekend, hello whiplash.