Yoshimi succumbs to the second law of thermodynamics

February 6, 2008 at 1:54 am | Posted in life, music, rambling | 1 Comment
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[via kk+ on flickr]

So it was, the week after finals ended, before the intersession fun kicked in and I was just sitting in my room, ready to decrease entropy with the input of some enthalpy.

I vacuumed, re-attached all my posters to the walls, put all the books and errant pieces of silverware back in their places. Then I attempted the most ambitious and dangerous undertaking of all, so much so, in fact, that I haven’t done it since the 2nd year of high school–I took out all my files and began reorganizing them.

Most people, I imagine, like to keep it simple. There’s a folder for your important documents, some for important receipts or tax forms, and maybe a few tabbed folders for academics and the like. I definitely start the same way, except when it comes to actually using the organizational infrastructure I’ve set up, my habits start to resemble those of a failed African state. Squandering capital doing time-consuming, largely useless things (yes, that was a link to this blog), inventing more complicated bureaucratic hoops so that papers continue to pile up on the floor out of boredom/incompetence, and yes, eventually it takes nothing less than a multinational effort to mop up the mess.

Which is why classes have now started, and there is still a big pile of folders and papers on the floor, slowly starting to accumulate dirt from the bottom of my shoe when I walk over it. Where I used to neatly file away a paper (albeit in a meaninglessly categorized folder, from which I am never able to find anything again), now I just toss it on the ground.

Oh, and I can’t stop listening to the Flaming Lips album.


Updates for the new semester

February 6, 2008 at 1:34 am | Posted in flickr, geeky, life, travel | Leave a comment
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The “I’ll blog this” moment has been coming up quite a bit lately; if only it were remotely matched in frequency by the “I’ll sit down and write” moments. Too bad those are usually displaced by “I’ll sleep and do my homework in the morning” moments, followed by “shit I woke up later than I expected, and the sun is setting” moments.

Enough of that. The latest news, at least for the moment:

Finals ended. Backcountry skiing/winter hiking in White Mountains for a week. Outdoors, no computers, cold, fresh, sublime. Many blog-worthy thoughts. No amount of actual writing accomplished. Which leads me to…

Flickr photos have been updated, for the first time in years. Mostly mountains, a lot of rocks and snow, and a few fleeting glimpses of a beautiful European summer.

Obsession with webcomics continues. Besides my daily dose of computer-science-in-joke-riddled sentimentality (xkcd), I’ve been reading a new favorite (Questionable Content). Fewer stick figures, less philosophising. More jokes about sex.

Roommate blog back up, now under a new name. Mostly obscure in-jokes, with a smattering of strange insights and some ridiculous poetry. Most of it written by our freshman selves.

That’s it for the moment. Check out my del.icio.us links on the sidebar for more distractions.

Day at the museum

January 23, 2008 at 11:14 am | Posted in artsy, harvard, life | Leave a comment
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Mountains, Streams, Sun, Moon (1972) Untitled (1973) Rugged Hills of North America (1989)
The Sackler Museum on campus has an interesting exhibition up right now (which, unfortunately, ends in 4 days). The title of the exhibit is “Tradition Redefined,” an appropriate but rather flat description for what are essentially paintings that defy categorization. A note on the wall of the exhibit explains:

In their inscriptions, older artists note their determined adherence to traditions of expression that go unappreciated in their present surroundings. Younger artists, who have lived and worked for most of their lives in transition between cultural spheres, exhibit a more detached, even ironic view of their place in the world. Past definitions of ethnic or geopolitical identity yield their influence to technology, art markets, and globalization. The customary division between two schools–Chinese and foreign–no longer holds.

The paintings are Chinese not just in the trivial sense of having been made by Chinese artists, but also in the way they make conspicuous use of Chinese artistic techniques, all the while displaying the distinctly non-traditional (read: Western) styles that have made their influence in post-Cultural Revolution China. Of course, whether the results are really a “redefinition” of traditional aesthetics is a matter of debate. All the paintings clearly combine Asian and Western influences, but not all of them use the combination as a way to achieve something novel or meaningful in itself. Continue Reading Day at the museum…

What I’m learning about time management skills

December 4, 2007 at 11:58 pm | Posted in artsy, design, geeky, humor, life | Leave a comment
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Illustrator > Homework.


The first day back at school: a cautionary tale.

September 12, 2007 at 6:24 pm | Posted in life, rambling, silly nonsense | Leave a comment

After moving in yesterday, I decided today to take a walk with my roommate around the campus. After trying to haggle over the price of 4 trash cans at a Habitat for Humanity charity sale (before realizing that it was a Habitat for Humanity charity sale), we spent the next hour and a half trying to buy new trash cans at a price that would justify our refusal of the used ones. This failed, as could be expected. While we walked home with our new, slightly too expensive trash cans, I began to muse on the deep dilemmas of life.

“Some days, like today, I take a look at the weather outside, and think to myself, ‘God it’s such a nice day. Look at the colors of the brick buildings, the leaves on the trees, the sky, and the Charles river. Look at those shadows and the patterns they make on the ground, and the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind, and, and. Why am I not outside? Why am I not lying naked on the grass, letting the cool breeze caress my sun-soaked body?’ Okay, maybe just ‘Why am I not outside?’ I want to go on a run, but I already went on one this morning, when it wasn’t as nice out. There’s no one to go read on the grass with me, and it’s slightly too cool to just lounge. So then…”

“So then you go back and check your email.” My roommate understands.

“Yeah, and to write on my blog.”

So there you have it. My tale of the proverbial Modern Technology usurping the proverbial Experiences That Matter.

Day 52. A little overdue

August 9, 2007 at 2:50 pm | Posted in life, switzerland, travel | Leave a comment

Updating this thing has proven a little harder than I thought. A good old list, because wit and embellishment takes time, money, and patience, none of which I currently possess. Or wit, for that matter.

  1. Wine tasting in Lavaux.
  2. Swimming in Lake Como. Going to where Anakin and Padmé got married. There was so much magic in the air you could cut it with the blunt part of a Swiss Army knife.
  3. Bond. James Bond.
  4. Seeing Arcade Fire. In rural French Switzerland, of all places. Like Bonaroo or something, not that I know what that’s like.
  5. Climbing this attached to this with my back to this.
  6. Visiting Bern, where Einstein published Special Relativity and where the Swiss artist Paul Klee originated. Saw a street accordionist playing the fast movement from Summer, of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Compare to man playing 4 chords repeatedly at the Harvard Square T stop.
  7. Seeing (and felt) fireworks on Swiss National day, August 1. Apparently they celebrate like Texans on the Fourth. Except they’ve been doing it since 1291.
  8. Learning French from Spanish people, and how to roll a German cigarette, while squinting to see Evian, France across Lake Geneva under a full moon.
  9. Eating a kilogram of pig knuckle and washing it down with beer that tastes like milkshake, in the seat of the Holy Roman Empire.
  10. Doing lots and lots of experiments, and making very very very little progress.

Day 23. Be careful what you wish for.

July 20, 2007 at 10:10 am | Posted in life, switzerland | Leave a comment

She crossed her legs and gave me the look one gives when trying to seem very reasonable, complete with pursed lips, innocently raised eyebrows, and a slight shrug of the shoulders. “Of course, I don’t want to be the new one making up all the rules, you know? But I definitely don’t want to be always cleaning up this room. It’s just that, one puts away one’s things after a meal, you see what I mean? It’s not nice to see other people’s stuff in front of you all the time.”

I see. That cup on the dining room table was the problem. Never should have had that orange juice.

We’ve been found out. Ever since the two German Swiss moved out of the room, Sameer, Germán, and I have been secretly competing with each other to see who could demonstrate the most un-Swiss-like housekeeping habits. Germán’s specialty is a little game called “stacking unwashed dishes in the sink,” and he plays it with a vengeance. My forte happens to be “putting old food on other people’s refrigerator shelves.” In fact, I am so good at this that nobody, not even bacteria, has dared to challenge that dangerous-looking piece of goat cheese I put on the vegetable rack — until I got hungry enough to not see the expiration date and ate it with some stale bread. Sameer, the lightweight among us three, can only manage to “forget a cup on the dining table” once in a while. How ironic that this feeble, half-hearted attempt at uncleanliness would be the first thing noticed by the newest member of our suite. Of course, it wasn’t the only thing.

“Is that a dishrag?” She pointed at the yellow cloth on the table that I sometimes use to wipe my face when I’m too lazy to get a napkin. “That really should go in the kitchen.”

“Oh I don’t use it, ” I shrugged. “You can talk to the other boys about it. They might just not have seen it, since it blends in so well with the color of the wood.” Continue Reading Day 23. Be careful what you wish for….

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