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The last Q-ball

Monday, May 14th, 2007

I almost cannot believe how busy I’ve been these past few weeks.  It’s gotten to the point where it’s now normal to operate on three or less hours of sleep every day for a week at a time.  And still loads of important tasks go neglected, even highly time-sensitive ones.  Not ideal.

Have also been feeling very loopy for days now, with allergy season (and the accompanying remedies) accounting for no small part.

Tonight’s formal was…  misfortunate.  For me at least.  I can actually see how it is in fact funny (i.e. tragicomic) that my bag broke soon after I left the building, and my date lost a bangle, and I broke the middle of her orchid corsage (leaving the single giant bloom unrecognisable), and they took away the chocolate fountain right before we got to it, and that the sound system experienced a glitch right when we were ready to hit the dance floor, and my right eye became irritated enough (like swollen and furiously red) that I had to remove my (permanent) contact lens which promptly got blown irrecoverably out of my hand onto the nighttime street etc. etc. 

Overall quite ill-fated, it felt.

Of course the location was lovely, and my date was a lot of fun (and a very gracious good sport), and the restaurant was a blast.  So it wasn’t without its happy, rosy moments.  If only they weren’t so regularly interrupted 🙂

The best of times

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

I am not ready or willing to leave the excitement, the richness of resources and the very comfortable community that I’ve grown accustomed to here.

And that’s part of why I’m so busy all the time now.  I’m rushing to enjoy the opportunities that I’ve complacently taken for granted for years now at the College, the University and the Boston area.  The photos below offer a selection of these opportunities from the last couple of days (lots more photos on Flickr):

 Brown Bag Lunch (1 May 2007)

Today I went to an open brown bag lunch discussion at the Kennedy School with Kishore Mahbubani, currently the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at NUS (and for over a decade previously the Singapore ambassador to the UN).  The three of us seniors (Shi Ming, Xin Wei and myself) all arrived late from different places and settled for various nooks at the back of the room.

 The Sticky Bun Throw-Down (30 Apr 2007)

Another random but cool opportunity – on Monday the Food Network was filming a tangentially Harvard-related episode so whoever wanted to go to the filming could enter a lottery to go into Boston.  I made Ryan sign up with me  and while at the venue we recognised another half dozen of our friends in the crowd of about 90 Harvard affiliates.  Those were some fantastic sticky buns they made!

Here we are with the stars of the episode.  From left: Ryan, Joanne Chang (of Flour Bakery and Cafe), me, Bobby Flay (one of America’s Iron Chefs!), Tiffany.

 Old State House (30 Apr 2007)

Here I am playing tourist (after four years of living here!) right outside the Old State House in downtown Boston, which I’d never seen before.  We accidentally came across the building while walking from the filming to the Harvard Club of Boston at One Federal to Macy’s at Downtown Crossing; I’ve always loved the compact-ness of Boston.  Ryan (who took this picture) tells me that is the very balcony from which the American Declaration of Independence was first proclaimed in 1776.

I was struck by the incongruous discovery that part of the building now houses the State Street subway station (on the orange and green lines).

Can you see why I don’t want to leave?  Sigh.

Tomorrow evening (Wednesday) I will be presenting my senior honors thesis as part of the series of informal “Senior thesis desserts” (implying the free Finale desserts which will be served).  Quincy House SCR, 7pm in case you’re interested.  Which also means I now need to go and re-read my thesis for the first time in weeks and prepare some slides and speaking notes.  What an anxiety-inducing task.

Does everyone have something to hide?

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

In a stroke of high irony, the Dean of Admissions at neighboring MIT has resigned after it turned out that she had lied on her resume.  After 28 years at MIT and about nine years as the Dean of Admissions, an anonymous phone tip-off launched an investigation that eventually forced Marilee Jones to resign, according to the Harvard Cimson and the US News & World Report.

I slept almost all day today, which was sheer bliss.

Last night Andrew, John, Ryan and I went to the first Upper Hall at the newly-built Queen’s Head pub in the basement of Memorial Hall.  The atmosphere was fantastic, the pub looks gorgeous, and the food was lovely – we had buffalo wings and nachos (paid for with Board Plus, woohoo!).  The free-flowing beer and other drinks was an additional perk for us seniors; the specially-brewed 1636 was pretty tasty as well.  I’m glad the four of us went early enough to beat the long lines and find a place to sit.

Afterwards we stopped by the party in the suites next door, and then ended the night with an hour long chat in our own common room where I drank seltzer and ate cookies.  Or more accurately everyone else ended their night – I proceeded to watch various tv shows on my computer until it was clearly time to go to bed.

Too tired to blog.

Thursday, April 26th, 2007

I need more sleep.

My schedule is ever more packed, although I’m not really complaining because it’s all free dinners, cool day trips and meetings with friends.


 Singapore Day @ NYC (21 Apr 2007)

Senior Spring @ Quincy 610

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

Wow, it’s been a busy couple of days.  But mostly fun-busy, I think.  But perhaps that’s just selective memory.

Senior Spring @ 610 

I threw another party tonight, mostly in honor of pre-frosh weekend, although I think I eventually only met a handful of prefrosh (the rest of the time I spent running about searching for refills, cleaning up and greeting people I know).  The party was pretty successful on the whole, and it did end at about the time I’d been planning.  I’m proud that I kept fairly close to budget, despite the fine selection of finger food and cocktails served.  My favorites were the English cheddar with carmelized onions and the seafood paté on melba toast.  More pictures and so on will have to wait.

In a couple of hours I will drive Ming, Nathan, Justin and myself down to NYC for Singapore Day.  And then at about 3am on Sunday morning I will drive Rika, Justin and myself back.  The next 36 hours are going to have to be about many naps…

Deliver us…

Monday, April 16th, 2007

I don’t really know how to process what’s happened over at Virginia Tech today.  It seems utterly inconceivable, and unreal.  There was a time, long ago, when I was able to imagine something like that happening on a college campus (mine, for instance), but now that it’s actually happened I can’t begin to picture it.

God’s comfort be with the affected families.

I filed my taxes this morning, the last day to do so (I thought I’d missed the due date).

The Big Weekend

Sunday, April 15th, 2007

There is a lot happening this weekend.  Dozens of parties, a whole slew of student-run activities (SEA Night, Fiesta 2007 etc. etc.), people visiting, free trips, plans to catch meals together.


There’s also been a very elevated incidence of baked goods from Rosie’s, and chocolate.  All the benefits of thesis-induced starvation are quickly becoming a distant memory.

I’m not complaining.  If only I had the motivation to also study for the Ec midterm I have next week.

Where’s my senior spring??

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

First of all, it’s freezing.  And the weather report keeps threatening snow.  Up to seven inches!  In the middle of April!!

Second of all, I’m swamped with work tonight/this morning.  Admittedly this is my own fault and is directly attributable to poor work choices last week.  But why are there so many things going on in the meantime?  There’s no way I can keep up with the dozens of events, parties, symposiums, free trips, concerts etc. that I want to attend.  Gah.

In other news, I’m so excited that I have my cousins visiting.  The first family relations I’ve had visit me at Harvard!  I feel bad that tomorrow I have barely any time for them at all.  But I’ll make up for that over the weekend, I figure.

Back to our regular programming

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

I’m so hungry right now.  This morning after I finally dragged myself out of bed I hurried to write a (horrendous) response paper on Nietzsche’s The Use and Abuse of History, which took long enough that when I finally made it to the seminar room Prof C had already finished talking about it.  Gah.  This after I spent hours reading tiny print on Mexican buses…  why does this happen so often?  Anyhow, my tummy was rumbling all through class, and I am just biding my time until dinner is served in 15 minutes – at about 4.30pm they usually put the first batch of food out.

Speaking of food, last night I came back to find, at 1.30am, a huge selection remaining at Brain Break, which is unusual.  This selection included my favorite bread (club wheat), peanut butter and my preferred jam (strawberry).  Plus there were actual whole chicken quarters in gravy from some kosher event, so I microwaved one of those and devoured that too 🙂

In happy news, I came back to find a big wad of cash in an unmarked envelope on my desk, buried under the pile of papers I evacuated from my KIV folder right before I left for Mexico.  Yay!

And right now, it’s snowing?!?  Of course.  After all, it’s April in Cambridge, and it was 70F yesterday.  Naturally.

I can’t wait to type up my Fall 07/08 style report.  I finally got caught up on all the shows I missed while thesis-writing.  Thumbs up for video podcasts! 🙂

Téotihuacan and Mexico City; Day 6 and 7

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

Woah, that week went by pretty quickly, no?  I am now at the Mexico City international airport waitingfor my flight back to Boston via Houston.  I am not terribly excited about these flights, because I am going to have to somehow produce two essays due tomorrow and the day after (and these are already the extended deadlines due to thesis).  On the brighter side, it looks like I might manage to catch the tail end of the first senior bar of the month 🙂

Today I only had time for a quick turn about the Chapultapec Park area and a visit to the stunning Museo de la Anthropologia.  Wow.  All museums should look like that, I think; architecturally striking yet not overpowering or inconvenient.  And the galleries were fabulously laid out, curated and displayed (at least to my non-expert eye).  Two thumbs up.

PS: Little known benefit of being multi-lingual – when visiting tourist sites a linguist is much more likely to be able to mooch off nearby guided tours.  I definitely listened in on a French group in the Toltec room this morning, and a couple of days ago I benefited from a Spanish teacher leading a school group around the Templo Mayor (very simple Spanish).  Thinking back, I recall listening to Mandarin guides in Japan and English guides everywhere else, of course.  Actually, being able to speak a language that you might not be expected to speak is better, because then the mooching seems a little less apparent 😉

Yesterday I spent most of the day at Teotihuacan, the impressive, almost mythical Aztec city about an hour outside of Mexico City.  Breathtaking.  It was everything I expected, and perhaps a little bit more.  The highly recommended La Gruta restaurant, nestled in a subterranean grotto just outside Gate 5 of the archaelogical zone, made a nice finish to the day.  I spent the day exploring with a Japanese nurse who had spent the last two years volunteering in Honduras with the Japanese international aid agency (think USAID or Peace Corps).  It was hilarious trying to communicate with her, because she understood but could not really speak English, yet spoke fairly fluent Spanish.  So she would speak in Spanish, I would guess-translate into English and reply in my English-pidgin-Español-plus-random-Romance-language mixture.  After several hours I was confused enough that when taking a picture for some French tourists on the Pyramide de la Luna I think I said “Una, deux, treize!” :p