Living with others

I’m looking forward to living alone, but I appreciate the lessons I’m
learning by living with random roommates. It’s interesting seeing the
real-life versions of situations I read about, and trying to apply the
lessons I’ve learned from books, my experiences, and other people’s
stories. The constant challenges of living with other people force me
to learn how to be a better person. I’m getting better at finding the
good and creating enough space in each moment for me to choose my
reaction.

I don’t think I’ll have the kind of easy friendship I’ve heard about
and which other people in Graduate House enjoy. I get the feeling I
should be making more of my residence life. I didn’t really get to
know people at the other dormitories I stayed at, though. Maybe it’s
because my outside life is already bursting at the seams. Maybe it’s
because the dorm tends to be just a place I sleep.

I should make more of an effort to involve myself in residence life, I
think. I’ll try to make it to international coffee night. Sam’s
hosting one this Wednesday, I think, and it would be a good occasion
to wear my terno. I haven’t been out to Sunday coffee in ages, either.
And then there’s billiards, which I keep telling myself I’ll learn one
of these days.

Ay, life.

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First baseball game

I watched my very first baseball game last night, thanks to Graduate
House Council’s awesomely discounted $5 field-level seats (face price:
$34.50, pre-tax). It was the Boston Red Sox versus the Toronto Blue
Jays, and the Red Sox won 8-7.

Interesting stuff. It was great going with a bunch of grad students,
as many of us were completely new to the thing. ;)

I found myself unable to boo anyone, though. I clapped and cheered
(quietly) for both teams! =)

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼は猫を二匹飼っている。一匹は黒でもう一匹は白だ。 He keeps two cats: one is black, and the other white.

Backlog: Grilled again

I was planning to meet Calum for dinner, but I figured it would be a
good day to try out the grill again, so I headed to the supermarket to
stock up on meat. I ran into James, Mike and Mike on my way out, so I
invited them to a barbecue at 7. I met Keynyn on the way back from the
supermarket, so I invited her too.

It turned out to be a terrific potluck. I prepared vegetable kebabs
and Caesar salad (store-bought dressing, but I made the bacon bits and
croutons myself!). Keynyn brought mashed potatoes and cookies. James
brought lots and lots of chicken legs. Mike and Calum helped with
cooking and washing up. (Don’t worry, they’ll host some other time…)

The chicken legs were slightly dodgy as parts weren’t completely
cooked, so I think we’ll do beef next time. At least, until we get the
hang of this. Note to self: figure out how to properly grill
vegetables so that they’re nice and juicy. Also, buy a basting brush.
Hmm, next Wednesday or Thursday seems like a good time to have another
potluck party. (Psst! Kathy! I need tips!)

_And_ we even got to study afterwards! I much prefer studying with
other people around. Today proved an interesting point. I’m a fraud of
a computer person, really. I’m definitely not as geeky as Calum and
Mike are. I find myself less into writing code than I’m into
explaining things to other people, and sometimes I really do have to
explain things to either people, stuffed toys, or my blog in order to
get things straight in my head. Aiyah. How embarrassing.

(I say that now, sure, but when I’m in coding mode I can’t pry my
fingers off the keyboard…)

Anyway, it was a very good day.

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Random Japanese sentence: 彼女はネコをこわがる。 She is afraid of cats. Kanojo wa neko o kowagaru.

Grill time!

Toastmasters from 6 to 8 means I usually can’t meet anyone for dinner
on Tuesdays, which is why I was surprised to get a call from Trevor at
8:30 or so. He invited me to a barbecue with Brian. The Kensington
market I usually go to for meat had closed already and I didn’t feel
like chancing Chinatown. I also didn’t want to walk to Dominion and
being even _more_ late. Fortunately, I had some hamburger patties in
the freezer. Hooray for the well-stocked pantry!

Although the weather was a bit cold (it snowed a little bit today!
argh!), standing around in a coat and chatting with friends was worth
it. I defrosted the patties in a microwave, put one away, and grilled
the other patty under the guidance of Brian and Trevor. The potatoes I
wrapped in foil and started grilling were nowhere near done by the
time the burgers, porkchop and steak were done, so I took the potatoes
off the grill. Brian thoughtfully anticipated that and included me in
his calculations for rice. Awwww. =) (The man cooks rice with a pot!
_Proper_ rice, too, not instant rice! Coolness. =) )

Keynan dropped by with a platter of chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.
She found the cookie recipe on the Net. I wonder if I can share
Kathy’s Top Secret Cookie Recipe with her – but then it wouldn’t be
Top Secret, would it?

I washed a number of their dishes to thank them for hosting me and
teaching me how to grill, following the strange rules of my
dinner-party etiquette. Also, it’s kinda fun. Eventually Trevor took
the sponge away from me and put it on the other side of the room.
Spoilsport.

Keynan brought a DVD of Terminator. I finally got to watch the thing.
=)

After the movie, Brian pulled a scary face to stop me from finishing
the rest of their dishes. I couldn’t help but laugh, which made him
laugh, and then no amount of coaxing could get him to do the scary
face again.

It’s nice to have friends.

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Random Japanese sentence: ネコが車の下から出てきた。 A cat got out from under the car.

Conversations

Anthony and I went to a Korean restaurant. We had slices of beef
cooked at the table. It was a great dinner. We had a lot of fun
chatting about Japan and other places. I’m really glad that my parents
took us on trips and that I had all these opportunities to travel.
Those stories make it much easier for me to connect with people. =)

I can explain my research to other academics easily. All I have to do
is talk about collaborative bibliographies and they immediately
understand why social computing is just _so_ cool. Talking about my
research made me understand it a bit more, too.

At coffee time, I ended up talking about Toastmasters with Brian, the
pilot taking up biblical archaeology. Yeow Tong, Brian and I chatted
about teaching, presentations, and other things about academic life.

I’ve figured something out. If I’m going to eat out, I might as well
eat out somewhere nice, having something I can’t easily prepare
myself. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, but a little bit of
atmosphere and style would be good. Dinner today was much more of an
experience than grabbing pizza somewhere. =)

That said, I’m still looking forward to learning how to prepare
fancier meals…

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Random Japanese sentence: テーブルに猫の足跡が付いている。 There are footprints of a cat on the table.

Graduate House

I went to the common room to study, and I heard someone playing “Speak
Softly, Love” from The Godfather. It turned out to be Joe, whom I’ve
seen at coffee night before. He’s an oido: he plays things by ear, so
his rendition of it was in a different key and was slightly different
from how I remembered it.

I showed him the opening notes of “Speak Softly, Love” based on the
arrangement my sister learned when we were kids. I knew the opening
part because I annotated the notes with letters for her. We had a lot
of fun chatting about his piano teacher’s style. I thought the
emphasis on learning the feel of the music made much more sense than
the exercises my piano teacher made me do when I took lessons, and I
wish my piano teacher had been like his. Still, maybe I can work on my
ear, just as I’ve worked on my coordination and grace. <laugh>

We talked about computers, too. It turned out to be the first
computer-related conversation he’d had in a long time, and he enjoyed
being able to rant about the brokenness of Java and other geeky
topics.

I didn’t end up reading any more papers, though. <laugh>
Tomorrow, I’m really going to have to work on my questions for the
class and my summary paper. After my FIS requirements are done, I can
throw myself into the reading paper…

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Random Japanese sentence: ところが今度は、あっちにもう一匹茶色と黄色のしまの虎の子ようなねこがいます。 And now, over there, he saw a cat which had brown and yellow stripes like a baby tiger.