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Archive for November, 2006

Asian-American Thanksgiving (23 Nov 2006)

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Asian-American Thanksgiving (23 Nov 2006)
Originally uploaded by J Y.

Ryan and I went with Jen’s family to their annual Thanksgiving feast. Ryan and one other woman were the only non-Asian people in the crowd of some 40 people in that house. The bounteous, delectable dinner spread included not just the traditional American Thanksgiving staples (turkey, bread stuffing, cranberry jelly, ham, beans, mashed potatoes), but also a host of delightfully familiar Asian feast favorites like roast duck (with braised hardboiled eggs and beancurd!), bak choi (yum!!), and even beancurd skin (*swoon*)!! I was very thankful for that meal indeed.

H-Y Cocktail Party (17 Nov 2006)

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

H-Y Cocktail Party (17 Nov 2006)
Originally uploaded by J Y.

My first big cocktail party. 100 guests, 20 types of cheese, 12 types of wine, 8 pounds of strawberries and grapes and lots more. It was a lot of fun, and went on from 8pm to about 3am in the morning.

Too bad Harvard’s football team was heartbreakingly trashed the next day at the Game 🙁


Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Tired.  Have had longish, non-stop, productive day since about 8.45am this morning.  Am tired, and a little too drained to make elegant small talk at the very elegant faculty dinner that’s happening in the dining hall now.  While I was at the pre-dinner reception getting some punch and grilled shrimp cocktail, I recognised three of the faculty in that crowded room – Prof M-G, who taught one of the more amusing (if not actually instructive) classes my freshman year; the amazing and energetic Prof J, who looks a lot older than I recall, and Prof C, who has never actually taught me, but with whom I have had a single, bizarre conversation.

I have now pretty much polished off the delicious homemade cookies I begged off from the dining hall staff (sugared gingerbread cookies and a particularly fine almond-and-pistachio biscotti).  Which might mean I have to get back to work.

Scary midterm tomorrow.  And I also need to write a short paper for my film class.  How tedious.  I wonder if I have time for a little reviving nap?

PS: I have found a streaming radio channel that plays nothing but covers of Disney songs!  🙂

Yay productivity!

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Ok, here I am taking an unscheduled (and undeserved) break from studying for Wednesday’s Ec midterm while I eat dinner at my desk. Unfortunately, the last couple of hours were characterized not by high productivity, but mostly by low-grade studying of the type highly alloyed with drowsing.

BUT, it bears recording that I had a wonderfully satisfying period of high productivity yesterday afternoon and evening. And this after having very frustratingly been forced to spend the bulk of the long holiday weekend on all kinds of social and extracurricular obligations. most of which were entirely pleasant in and of themselves. With a precious eight hours left to salvage the weekend as a chance to do work, I put in about four solid hours of thesis research work and about four hours of Ec midterm studying. It was particularly gratifying that yesterday marked the first time I had spent a block of more than 90 minutes doing anything for my thesis. That was such a good feeling, especially because it was demonstrably productive too.

Ok, enough time-wasting! I have made myself a giant pot of strong tea to accompany me through the next three chapters of Ec. Away we go!

PS: For those wondering, SIAMA stands for the Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia students Association.

SIAMA at A Taste of Asia (11 Nov 2006)

Monday, November 13th, 2006

SIAMA at A Taste of Asia (11 Nov 2006)
Originally uploaded by J Y.

The “A Taste of Asia” food event was held in Ticknor Lounge and organised, I think, by the Hong Kong Society. I somehow voluntarily became in charge of organizing SIAMA’s contribution, which was iced milo and ribena, wang wang rice crackers, and a whole bunch of sweets – white rabbit, mini cup jellies, kasugai gummies, haw flakes. It went really well, and we ran out of most things, except I got to take home a ton of gummies, which suited me just fine 🙂

From left: Shi Ming, me, Alex, Fiona, Ming

With the Hosts (10 Nov 2006)

Monday, November 13th, 2006

With the Hosts (10 Nov 2006)
Originally uploaded by J Y.

Ming somehow single-handedly did all the shopping and cooking (six whole chickens!) for the SIAMA Chicken Rice Party that was held in Nathan’s penthouse. It was all great fun, the food was scrumptious and the hosts impeccable!

From left: Nathan, me, Ming

Semi-productive musings

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

I loved going to Prof B’s office hours yesterday.  Everything about his manner, his office, even his name, puts me in a literary frame of mind.*  He has endless shelves of books arranged loosely by topic and author (and I recognised a couple, like Prof U’s “Age of Homespun”, from other classes I’ve taken here).  He has the kindly face, deliberate and thoughtful speech cadences, and even the comfortably-timeless tweedy coats of the iconic English professor.  Very much role-model material (he also founded a new subfield in his academic discipline and is among the best-loved teachers at the college).  Maybe minus the wardrobe…  or perhaps not. 

*Which is a pleasant and comforting escape after weeks of microeconomic problem sets and GRE dianostic tests that have painfully and repeatedly demonstrated a massive failure of any previous quantitative reasoning skill I once possessed. 

I am trying, somewhat successfully, to wean myself off heavily material constructions of myself.  So, for example, I’ve essentially stopped going to Starbucks.  Which is a good thing, on multiple levels.  And what was the impetus of this turn away from materialism?  Two weeks ago, the unexpected magnitude of the trauma resulting from the temporary “disappearance” of my iPod and B&O headphones got me critically thinking about, and repudiating, my increasing attachment to the meaning of the things I bought and owned.  I suppose I shouldn’t have been so shocked, but growing up I never imagined that I would ever be so concerned and mindful of things like the burgandy alligator-band on my wristwatch.  I always hoped that I would continue to be concerned only with utility (my fancy 6.1 speakers allow me to better appreciate music), craftsmanship (Ferragamos are simply better made), provenance or backstory (my stash of high-grown Sambhavy vanilla tea can only be bought in Madagascar) and to be satisfied with just the memory of previous possessions (so when my Adrienne Landau animal-print silk scarf flew off my head on a ride in Hong Kong, I just shrugged, albeit a little sadly).  Which is why being packed off to the army, to rural South Africa, to Bangladesh and to Madagascar was perfectly dandy for me, suspicious water-quality, latrines, forest treks, jalopy-rides and all. 

But in more recent weeks I was forced to reevaluate how entangled I had become in my possessions, and how I was becoming overly comfortable with leaning on them to project an image for me.  Where then was there room in my overstuffed distressed-calfskin tote for my character, my humility and my soul?  Was I forgetting to burnish my personal traits and condition my heart even while I buffed my boots with mink oil?  I certainly hope not.  Despite all appearances, I really don’t think any of the things of this world matter much, and I want to be confident that a loss of my collection of them (say, God-forbid, in a fire) would not put any over-great burden on my sense of self.

In other news, last night I was quite revolutionary.  I was in bed by 10.30pm, and awoke around 6am to start (and complete) my Ec1010a problem set.  It’s nice to feel rested, and heathier for having that knowledge.


I filled out a giant student health survey yesterday, and one of the questions was, “In the last 30 days, have you (check all that apply): (a) exercised to lose weight…” And I started laughing.  Then checked “no”. 

On the other hand, if they had asked —  
“In the last 30 days, have you (check all that apply):
(a) bought 20 pounds of candy which you are steadily consuming
(b) gained over 5% of your body weight
(c) come to the startling realisation that your grades may be worse than last semester
(d) felt weary, restless and slightly anxious about the future
(e) detected an unusual and unwelcome trend of poor “luck”
(f) worried that your hair was falling out at an unnaturally high rate
(g) felt in severe need of a vacation”

— I could have checked off all of these.


Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

My sometimes-sluggish silent cinema class is focusing on silent comedies this week, and boy are they side-splittingly good.  I’m sitting here and laughing just reading the academic essays written about them (which have phrases like “truncated syllogism” and words like “semidiegetic”).  The four films that we saw today (starring Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and Charley Chase) were so good that even small reminders in the secondary sources of the gags in films like His Wooden Wedding (1925) are making me laugh at my desk.  Bravo! 

It’s been such a long time since I’ve seen a film that made me want to make/produce/write movies myself.  I can’t even recall the last time that happened.  I definitely felt that way after Buster Keaton’s Sherlock, Jr (1924).

And then I came home and saw The Transporter 2 (2000).  I enjoyed it, but I think I’m going to put a couple of Harrold Lloyd and Buster Keaton films on my Netflix queue.