Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving Weekend at Home

So, as it is Thanksgiving weekend, I am in Hawaii. Since we moved to Hawaii there has only been one Thanksgiving when we were not in Hawaii, and I consider that Thanksgiving a total dud. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it is the only time of year when (almost) everybody is home (this year we were missing Lisa and Vanessa).

Anyway, Oriana and Josh met me at the airport. Then we went to lunch. I took this picture after Oriana had locked Josh in the bathroom. I had been locked in with him, but I was able to escape much more quickly. This was Wednesday.
On my urging, my mother decided that her next car should be a Prius. Here is the addicting little screen that tells you how efficent you are being with your driving.
On Thursday I went and excercized with my mom and Lynn White. Here is me posing with a BATTERY POWERED chainsaw!
Thanksgiving table pre-food.
Family and friends sitting around cooking.
More of the same.
Me, Oriana and Nick.
Uncle Jim with the Turkey.
Nick, Kira, Me, Emma, Oriana and Josh.
Table with people and food.
Hmm. So that was Thanksgiving. Then on Friday we went to the Harry Potter movie as a family. I am not a Harry Potter fan, so I watched it with mild ammusement, but not with the enthusiasm of some of my other family members. That seems to have been all I did on Friday. Hmm.

Anyway, so on Saturday Ryan came over and we went Kayaking. He decided to pee in the bushes at the beach so I used my paddle to catapult sand into his pants. I tried to make a quick getaway, but hurt my foot in the process. Then we hiked to the point by my house, where I took this picture.
On Saturday evening everyone came over for my father's 50th birthday. Here he is blowing out 50 candles.
And here he is with the shorts that Ryan gave him in anticipation of his post half-century weight gain.
I head back to Davis tonight, which is why this post is so brief. I want to get it done with so that I can do other things.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

JET Application... Complete

So, you know how in movies there is sometimes that sequence where our unlucky hero suffers a series of misfortunes as the clock to some important deadline slowly ticks down. Well, it actually happens. Here is how it went (contains realistic swearing).

The mail was scheduled to leave at 4:30. If I wanted my application to get to Washington on time, today was the last day I to send it and still be safe.

3:50 and I am just leaving Roddy's office with corrections for the final draft of my personal statement (started working on it in mid-September, went through 6 drafts). I run to the computer room to make connections and print it out. 3:52. Line. Shit. At 3:59 I finally get on the computers and make my corrections. People see that I am editing a paper rather than just printing one out, they start to grumble. 4:09 and I am done. I start to run across the quad to the Coffee House to make copies of my passport, transcript and letter that says I'll be graduating. I get there at 4:11. I realize I have only a quarter, enough for 2 copies. I try to insert a dollar. Damn machine won't take my dollar! Fine, just 2 copies then, and I'll get change made at the register. Oh crap! The machine is broken. 4:15 and start to run to Campus Copies, but hello, there is a working printer by the door. I make my copies. 4:20 and I run over to the Coral to get some paper clips. What the...where are the paper clips? "Excuse me, do you have any paper clips?" "Yeah they are, I guess not. You'll have to go to the bookstore." Crap. 4:23 and I run to the bookstore. Paperclips. Cool. Gold or multicolored? No time you fool! Buy them both! Shit. OK. "How are you today?" "Um, I'm a little rushed." "That'll be $2.98." "Um, 3. I don't need change." 4:27. Oh Hell. Run to the Post Office. "Mail leave yet?" "No, it leaves at 4:30." Good. Quick, collate. Application, statement, transcript. Wait, this isn't my transcript. Oh here it is. Wait! This isn't my statement of purpose! It is the old version! Crap, I remember getting my copies from the printer. Oh. They're in my bag. Here we go. 4:29. Quick. That looks like a mail truck out the window. Oh no. Don't think, just collate. Wait, actually, think but use your thinking to collate. OK. Now paper clip it all together. That's it. Shit. Golden or multi-colored paper clip? NO TIME! Pink is fine. Alright. Final check. Good, I think that is it. "Can you ship this to Washington D.C. the fastest most expensive way possible?" "Um, well we can sent it Priority Mail and it'll be there in two days..." "Good. I'll do that." "OK here is the form, but hurry, you can see the mail guy walking to pick it up." Like I need to be told. OK. JET Program, 3454 M... no. I have to write Massachusetts!? Just write it! OK, done. "Here you go."

And the package was placed in the bag 1 second before the mail guy picked it up. I walked out of the post office and felt the muscles in my back melt in relief.

So now it is temporarily out of my hands. Hope for the best, but no point in worrying. I go to Hawaii tomorrow. A welcome vacation.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Pictures I Stole From Takaya's Camera

So I drove Ralph to Costco today to return an MP3 player that he had purchased. On the way there, Takaya called us and informed me that his camera was still in my car. We looked and found it... and then went nuts. The following are either pictures that were taken with Takaya's camera yesterday, or pictures that Ralph and I took today to fill up his memory card. Hee hee. This one is yesterday before we set out for S.F.
Me with fruit.
Ralph and I, need we say more.
The Thinker, The Drinker.
Why would you ever need this much Soy Sauce!
A man with candy never seemed so scary.
I plan on returning Takaya's camera tomorrow. I eagerly await his reaction.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Speech Contest...Finished

So, I made it through the week with all my mental faculties still intact. But allow me to explain. For about 5 weeks know I have been preparing for the Japanese Speech contest. I wrote two 3 page Japanese essays before I wrote the final speech. The final speech went through 6 drafts. It took me two weeks to memorize. Sakakibara Sensei, Takaya, Koki and Manabu all spent hours of their time helping me. I listened to the speech all night for 3 nights in an attempt to remember it. For the last 3 days, all I have done is practice this speech. Yesterday, I was able to do it from beginning to end for the first time, and today I performed it.

This was not a fun week. But it was a good experience. I learned two things about myself. The first is that, when it comes down to it, money, recognition and ranking do not matter to me. What does matter is that I not disappoint people who have invested their time and emotion in me (i.e. care for me), and that I maintain my own honor. I realized this because, at the point when it looked like my speech was not going to come together and I would be unable to remember my lines, I was not worried about the embarrassment that this would cause me or the loss of the prize, but about how sad everyone who had helped me would be. I suppose this is also why grades have never been very important to me, but I continue to do well in my classes. The second thing that I learned is that I can really pull things out of my ass if I need to. I have already had too many times in my life where I am suddenly able to summon a large amount of charisma. I have got to run out sometime. I am very worried that I rely too much on my ability to make something I do better based on a tapping of charisma. I worry that I will become lazy, and depend on this rather than doing the quality of work I want to do.

So, I went to San Francisco, found the place, and then suffered through 2 hours of the exact same nervousness that I used to feel before Cross Country races. Observe the left hand clenched in a tight fist.
Anyway, so the speech went great, I hear. You see, I remember standing up to walk up to the podium, and I remember sitting down after the speech was finished and having everyone around me say "great job", but all I remember about the speech itself was the horrible feedback that I kept getting from the microphone. Luckily Takaya took this picture, so I know that I did, in fact, do the speech.
Well, that is all I have to say about the speech contest. I didn't win, but I didn't really expect to. I realized about 3 days ago that my theme and style, while it would be very popular with the younger and less serious members of the audience, would probably not impress most of the judges. I am mostly happy that my speech didn't end in catastrophe. Besides, I took more valuable things than prizes away from this speech contest.

Well, so afterwards, Takaya, Koki, Minoru and I went to Japantown to eat Japanese food. Then, on the way back to Davis and ate Krispy Kreme doughnuts.By the way, the verdict is that Krispy Kreme is far superior to Mister Donuts, Japan's biggest doughnut franchise. All that remains now is for me to prove to my Korean friends that Krispy Kreme is better than Dunkin' Donuts, Korea's biggest franchise, and my unusual desire to prove the superiority of an American junk food which I don't even eat will be satisfied.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Bitter Means Poison

Well, here is the update on last night's meal. Bitter means poison. I don't recommend eating $1.99 squid. I woke up at 5:30 this morning and have gone to the bathroom 15 times since then. This really sucks.

But hey, after having salmonella, regular food poisoning is a walk in the park.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Legal Low, Sugar High

So, today was eventful. But it didn't begin that way. The highlight of the first part of my day was discovering that I was nearly done with my JET application. But after noon, things picked up.

As I was going out the door to clean my car, I saw that I had mail. I opened the mail and discovered two letters from a company calling itself Check Game Solutions Inc. saying that I owed them money and that if I didn't pay them they would do something about it. Well, I don't know who this company is, and this is the first I have ever heard of me owing money. The part that made me even more worried is that they had my full name, checking account number, address and phone number. In short, all the things necessary to steal my identity! After thinking a little more I think I have a theory, though. Remember when I wrote about that guy who came to the door trying to sell me on the idea of donating money to buy children's books for hospitals, and I finally agreed to pay the lowest possible amount, $23? Well, after he left I read his invoice carefully and, in fact, he had sold me what I think was a boating magazine! I cancelled the check within minutes of writing it. Well, apparently, the company that tried to screw me into buying an unwanted subscription for a boating magazine that I never received anyway now wants me to rewrite the check and pay them $ the $30 of processing fees that the collection agency wants. I have never had this kind of thing happen before, and I am ashamed. I plan on filing a police report. I don't know what will happen. I all can say for sure is, the next time someone comes to the door, I am apologizing to them for my next action, and slamming the door in their face.

Well, an hour after learing of this unfortunate occurrence, my day picked up. I met Sung-Eun and three of her friends in the MU parking lot and we drove to Fairfield in order to visit the Jelly Belly Factory! Here is the balloon outside the factory entrance.
Maybe a little tacky, but hey, also grotesquely cute! The next picture is most of us posing with the Jelly Belly VW Bug that is right in front of the entrance.
Here are the girls with their "candy makers hats" which we were required to wear inside the factory.
And me, Sung-Eun and Lindsey with our purchases after the free tour.
Finally, a picture of jelly beans, because you can't go to a jelly bean factory and not take pictures of the jelly beans.
So what is my verdict on the Jelly Belly Factory? Holy cow! You have to go if you've never been! It was a great tour! And you can't beat a tour that is free and ends with free samples of candy! Parking is also easy to find! I can't believe I didn't go before now. It also happens to be very close to the Budweiser factory, so next time I go, I am taking that tour as well. Also, being with Sung-Eun and her friends did a lot to cheer me up from earlier in the day. And they gave me a Korean name: 지태, I think. They said it meant "Wisdom T". I should have asked for "Vitamin T". Have you met your daily required value of Vitamin T?

Post Script: After writing this entry I decided to go to the store and get some dinner. To my amazement, squid was only $1.99. So I bought some squid, cilantro, green onions and a lime; then went home and cooked it all up. Well, it turned out to be the worst meal I have ever made. When I bit into the squid it was first way too sour, but that went away in an instant, replaced by an atrocious texture that made me feel sick. What actually made me sick was when I tried to swallow the squid, only to find that is was also so bitter that it initiated a gag reflex. Did it look good? Well, in the pan in looked beautiful, but as it cooled the ink (which I must not have removed compleately) turned the enitre dish pencil grey, and the over cooked green onions made it look like toxic sludge. Still, not wanting to waste food, I ate the whole thing. Needing something to wash the bitterness down, I decided to make myslef an egg. However, we have no milk, only see where this is going. Well the flavor of the eggs is not that bad, but I decided to stir it with chopsticks (with which I do most of my cooking). The result is a batch of eggs that looks like couscous and tastes tart. If I get the urge to cook any time soon, I'll be sure to just chow down on some crackers and open a can of tuna.