The Way We Say Goodbye

Returned to campus, stopped by a fair of computer science final projects, and went to check on what activities I could participate in this weekend.

Ran into Nancy Alvarez, and ended up joining her for dinner and then a walk around Lake Lagunita. She talked about what people who graduated in her high school class are doing now but I don’t know what anyone from my high school class is doing.

Afterward we went to a senior event, dinner in the main quad and a slide show and dance to follow. As we’d already eaten we didn’t stay long after stopping by the table where my Fei, Ying, Jia and Jim were sitting.

I went to our friend Jing’s room so we could go to a karaoke party together. It was a small event at EV hosted by ACSSS (so Chinese pop songs), so I wasn’t able to sing any songs, but I enjoyed watching. Fei, Ying, Jia, and Jim joined later, and we all returned to our dorm together. Jing and I stayed behind while everyone else went to a Vietnamese noodle place.

I stopped by Nancy’s room; she was having trouble getting to sleep and gave me some extra “serapes” she had to wear during graduation. She talked to me for a while, complaining about her roommate’s being messy and saying she was sad that she’d only be able to see her family for a short time before going off to her summer program at Notre Dame.

When the group came back from the noodle place, Jing and Fei and I talked for a while and decided to go try and find a guy Fei liked so she could have a picture with him before we all go our separate ways. He wasn’t there so she knocked on the door of a friend of his, whom we also know. This resulted in some embarrassment because this friend’s parents had already arrived and were sleeping in his room. This was around 2 am!

Later Chris Dai came by, after returning from a trip to San Francisco with some of his freshman friends. Jing, Fei and Ying were all in my room and when I called Jia’s room to report that Chris had arrived Jim came too. He watched flash animated movies online and then some movie trailers. We also looked at some magazines that had been lying in the hallway. People leave a lot of stuff in the hallways when they’re moving out. Some of it is amusing.

At four Chris said that if we weren’t going to “do” anything he was going to go back to finish packing, since he had to leave at 10 am for his flight out to Tokyo. Ying said she was going to bed and did so.

Jim lingered to assure Chris that they’d see each other in the autumn. He has a special affection for Chris. I suggested a hug; Chris agreed but Jim waved his hand in an embarrassed way and left.

Chris turned to the rest of us. I said that I don’t usually hug people and Fei agreed that I usually just receive a hug without returning it.

Chris said that would be too weird so I sort of put my arms over his shoulders. Then he gave Fei a hug and was about to leave but I pointed out that he hadn’t given Jing a hug yet. He reminded us that he would definitely see her again in the autumn. But, I said, he would not see her for the whole summer. They reminded me that they are actually going to meet towards the end of the summer when they’ll both be in Shanghai and I said, “But you won’t see each other tomorrow!” Then they hugged and Chris went off.

Fei suggested that we should have a sleepover and Jing and I accepted this idea.

This is the way we say goodbye at the end of our college journey!


A game-filled celebration of birthdays

One result of having drawmate with a birthday three days after mine is, the celebration gets stretched out. Friday we had a dinner in the dining hall that was in honor of my and Fei’s birthday.

Preparation started around 5 for the dinner scheduled to begin at 5:30. Fei brought a vase, some artificial flowers and a candle she had down to my room, where I had a pineapple, a bottle of wine and a couple of other candles to contribute.

While Jing, Fei and I were gathering all these things, we saw Chris Dai approaching. He came to my window and explained that he’d thought the dinner would begin at 5. We all went together to the dining hall to reserve one of the tables by the window…we pushed two tables together but since it was 5:40 by then and no one else had shown up we went down to only one again.

We waited a little longer, telling stories to pass the time, and then others began to show up–Huat Chye, Nicola, then Jia came back from playing tennis, Jim came back from playing basketball, Nancy came over from another table when we reminded her we were having our dinner celebration, we met David Opoku (a classmate of Fei’s) on the way into the dining hall. A couple other people accidentally joined our table during the course of the meal.

When the ten of us were around the table Fei suggested that we play a game, and the artificial flowers she’d brought would be the prize. I offered the pineapple as a prize as well. Huat Chye suggested “two truths and a lie” and we started playing this. The way it works is, a person tells three stories about themself, two of which should be true and one of which should be untrue. Then the audience tries to guess which is the lie.

Huat Chye’s first story was simply: “I’m eighteen.” His second story was about he and his parents traveling. His third story was involved his being a section leader for an introductory CS course. On the first day of section, he told us, he pretended to be a student, while a friend of his pretended to be the section leader, for the first part of the class.

Throughout the time Huat Chye was telling the third story Jim kept exclaiming that this was the lie, which indeed it was; although the story was true it had happened to another person and not to Huat Chye.

Subsequently Jim told three stories. The first two were about frat pledge pranks he’d witnessed; in a freshman humanities course he’d seen a guy, after coughing throughout lecture, run up onto the stage and begin vomiting. Then three guys rushed onto the stage crying “Johnny! Johnny! What’s wrong?” before commencing to eat his vomit. Jim thought they might have faked the vomiting. The second frat pledge prank he described was less colorful: Jim was in a math lecture when one of his fellow students started flicking the lights on and off, while four guys in the front row got up and started to perform the song “YMCA.” Jim’s third story was about his playing a team computer game (Warcraft or some such) and getting slapped by one of his friends for not helping the team win.

It was the second that was a lie, because in fact Jim never took that math course, though the incident had actually been witnessed by other people.

A few more people told stories but it didn’t turn into a real contest. Nancy had played the game before but did not want to tell her stories before this audience. She left just before we opened the wine.

Opening the wine was difficult, the cork-remover I’d gotten from the dining hall was not the corkscrew kind. Eventually we ended up just pushing the cork all the way through the neck and pouring that way.

After dinner, Jim suggested a game of frisbee. As it turned out, Jim, Jia, Fei, and Chris were on one team against Jing, Huat Chye, Nicola, and me. Fei’s team scored 3 points against us before we gave up the game.

A few people played on the basketball court a while, but then we all came to sit around in a circle on the grass and played “charades,” each person acting out a movie name given to them by the person on their right so that the rest of us could guess the name.

As it grew chilly we moved inside, and ended up playing a game called “Mafia.” One person serves as judge and distributes a playing card to each of the other people. The players look at their cards without showing anyone else. If a person gets a certain designated card they are “mafia,” if they get a certain other designated card they are “inspector.” Everyone closes their eyes. The judge tells the two mafia to open their eyes, and the mafia point to one person they want to “kill.”

Mafia close their eyes. The judge tells the inspector to open their eyes, and the inspector points to a person–if the person is mafia, the judge nods, if not, the judge shakes their head. Everyone opens their eyes, and those who remain “alive” choose a person to die. Then the cycle repeats. If civilians choose the mafia to die before all the “civilians” are dead, then civilians and inspector win. If the mafia are not chosen to die but survive to outnumber the civilians, then the mafia win.

After several rounds of “Mafia” Chris and Huat Chye went back to their respective dorms; Jing, Fei and I walked Nicola back to her car.  Later Jim, Jia and Fei went to Jammix dance. Ying and Huat Chye also went separately.

Jim, Jia and Fei went to Jammix dance. Ying and Huat Chye also went separately.

Exploration and reminiscence in Yosemite


Waking at 8 am, I laughed at Chris’ having slept in the same position all night. Fei laughed at his hair. But Chris used gel as usual. Then Fei tried to make s’mores and then Jing and I made it too. We then went to the valley, and visited the museum. Saw Native American artifacts, and Chris Brown dancing pictures in the museum. Visited the “Indian Village” behind the museum. Signs informed us some buildings in this village are still used in “the old way.”

We ate lunch. Stopped by Bridalveil Falls on the way to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. Climbed to the Vista point, took pictures in the heavy spray. On the way back down to the parking lot Chris, Jing and Fei got pictures on a log.

The climb up from the parking lot to the Grove was 2 miles, according to a sign posted at the beginning. Nic and I were far ahead of everyone else. I had to run part of the way up to keep up with Nic though. Everyone reunited at the Grove Entrance and took photos.

Continued walking up the road. In the Grove it was quite a bit colder than it had been on the way up. Read an information sign that was buried up to its neck in snow.   Went on an icy path to “The Fallen Giant.” Nicola and Fei each climbed onto it for pictures. We marched on a little further on packed snow before turning back.

On the walk down to the parking lot, Fei went to the bathroom but could not find water. The rest of us thought she had heard someone when we saw her looking around the building.

Twisting down the hill around curves we walked into alternating brightness and darkness beneath the shade of the hill and tall trees. Saw a couple of groups of people going in the opposite direction who asked us to estimate how much longer they’d have to walk; we gave them optimistic estimates.

On the drive down, Chris sat in the middle and requested that we talk about something fun. He called for embarrassing or funny stories. I asked him to provide examples. He did so quite willingly. Most embarrassing since he got here: once sleeping in Vic’s room (Vic is one of his best friends here) he made the mistake of going into the women’s bathroom (an easy mistake to make since there are no urinals in Florence Moore, where Vic lives). Once during the second week of school Chris’ roommate, a football player, met a girl from Arizona State. They came in at 2 am; Chris’ roommate picked Chris up and left him, still holding his blanket, in the hall.

At the valley grocery store again inquired after movies (unsuccessfully) and did some food shopping. On the drive back to the hostel exchanged stories of childhood. Chris’ first memory was of a moon through the window of his boarding-kindergarten, thinking of being a college student. Fei’s was of being left on the sofa as a baby, and crying when her mother and brother came in with sodas and didn’t share with her. Jing remembered trying to take some blocks from a school set of blocks to replace pieces she’d lost from her own set. Chris once got into a fight with a girl who tried to bite his face so he pulled her hair. Jing remembered having a kitten that would come when she called.

Conversation moved on to food. On reaching hostel, prepared dinner and ate in the Cafe–Chris and Nicola ordered food and shared with those who ate their own preparations. Back in the room, Fei gave Nicola a massage. Chris got a massage too.

We played Pictionary again. Chris and Nicola vs. Fei, Jing and I—2 rounds, Chris and Nicola won both.

Walked past neighbors playing guitars and singing “La Bamba” on our way to star gaze. Picked out the Big Dipper and maybe the North Star. Back to play Scrabble (Nicola won).

Beginning: Senior Year Spring Break


Jianbo-post-June-2017Our little travel group met in my room to go together to the Marguerite station. Jing asked Fei if she had brought her motion sickness pills; we held the Marguerite while she ran back. Two friends on their way to Berkeley that morning, Qi and Jianbo, had asked to join for the train ride.

We waited in CalTrain Station for Nicola. Chris, who lived in Tokyo as a child, played Japanese elementary school games with Jing and Fei. Nicola picked us up and we were on our way. We made a pit-stop at a Food 4 Less in Tracy. Fei got ice cream. Chris got donuts. Later, we stopped in Oakdale. Fei got pants at Big Kmart and we ate teriyaki for lunch.

Approaching the park, we stopped at an overlook. Drove into Valley and Yosemite Village to get advice on trip planning at the Visitors Center.

Our first hike was to the base of Yosemite Falls. From there we followed a bike path past Yosemite Lodge in search of a meadow where, at sunset, animals should appear and from which meadow Half Dome, lit up orange, should be visible. On the way, we crossed Swinging Bridge.

We sat in the meadow a while waiting for animals, but none appeared, and we left when it started getting dark. On the way back to Yosemite Village we took pictures of a group of deer we found grazing.

The drive up to the Yosemite Bug Hostel was made a bit more exciting by the sight of a truck on fire with flames shooting out its windows. We turned around to check on it, but it had been quickly extinguished.

Found the Yosemite Bug and checked in. Got to our room, with its bunk, sofa, full bed and balcony. It was a bit dark and we needed to share a bathroom, but we counted this is part of the adventure.

We argued jokingly for a while about sleeping arrangements then went to dinner at the hostel’s “Recovery Cafe.” Jing and I split a meal, Nicola and Fei split a meal. After dinner, Fei pet a cat that was sleeping on a sofa in the cafe. A lot of youth were also around the cafe and the hostel in general.

We took Pictionary cards and Scrabble back to our room. Split: Fei and Chris (with one minute to guess) against Nicola, Jing and I (with 45 seconds to guess). Played to 6; Chris and Fei won.

After the game, Jing returned to reading, I to writing this record, and the rest to Scrabble.

Sushi and Karaoke: Jia’s Senior Birthday

My only class for the day was Biochemical Engineering.  We had a couple of demonstrations scheduled using a fermentor of about 10 L E. coli.  Only one of them worked.  “I am so sad now,” the TA kept saying, because he had put a lot of work into growing up so much E. coli.

It was still interesting, however, to see one of the demonstrations work and also to see how much babying the culture needed–while the professor was lecturing a valve blew off because cells had burst during the oxygen-deprived ride over from the lab and this caused foaming…the TA had to run back to the lab to get antifoam.  As it turned out the second demonstration failed to work because the professor had turned off the cooling water when a hose was leaking and forgot to turn it on again.  The cells were getting hot and “angry” during lecture, causing the a bad odor along with the demonstration failure.

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An early start to a final year

The Thinker is back in front of Meyer Library, renovations to the bookstore and post office have been completed. This year I’m an orientation volunteer. Orientation volunteer work consists mainly of tasks such as setting up table and chairs, stuffing packets for freshmen, and serving as extra hands at events. There are a lot of volunteers so the work is easy and goes quickly. I enjoy the opportunity to be on campus early, getting errands done and reconnecting with old friends.

Everything we do now is more thoughtful, touched by awareness that we are on the cusp of being college graduates. Thursday night, soon after I arrived, I went for dinner to a restaurant called Thai City with Ying and the rest of the Lantana staff, except for PHE Maureen who is interviewing for med school. Getting into one of the FA’s cars after dinner, I recognized a couple walking toward us as Paddy and Laura and waved hello. Soon after, I learned that Lissa Shih, having finished her psychology major, has chosen to remain in Taiwan and return only to graduate. Nancy Alvarez, her prospective roommate for this year, is sharing her two-room double with a transfer who hails from Hiroshima, Japan. From pictures around the room, Nancy and I deducted that she is a blonde white girl, but disagreed as to the identity of the young male often pictured alone with her–I thought it evident that this was her boyfriend, while Nancy held that it might be her brother. Denise Woo reported that rather than accept her poor housing assignment, she obtained a studio off-campus.

Early arrival also gives me more time to take advantage of programs at the career development center. Everyone has been getting interviews through the career center. None of drives yet, but it hasn’t been a problem – which is good, because learning to drive and getting a car would be hard to schedule. So far, all of my interviews have been on campus. Jia and Fei have had interviews off-campus, but public transportation in the area is pretty good, and good friends are available to provide rides when needed. Jia once caught a ride with another student interviewing with the same company. Ying will be interviewing this year, but since an interview is a big privilege for a medical school candidate, she will have transportation provided.

Friday is the biggest orientation-volunteering day. I took pictures in the morning, helped with the parents’ lunch, sat at an information table during convocation, and helped clean up after convocation and the parents’ dinner.

While I was picking up empty boxes after the parents’ lunch I was excited to help answer a question for the most famous freshman of the year, Ben Savage. He wanted to know if I knew of a good place to eat around here. I recognized him from the name on his tag; I’ve heard it mentioned a few times during orientation. I told him that the dining halls weren’t bad, but he said they were closed. A fellow orientation volunteer gave him information on Tressider dining. She’s a fan of his show and expressed her excitement at the opportunity to talk with “Corey.”

Saturday the big project is the New Student Party. I helped with set up, clean up and checking bags to make sure that no one brought in alcohol. One a break, as I was walking towards my room, I saw John and Wendy walking together in the opposite direction. They waved. When I came to pass Huat Chye’s room he was closing a window. I called up, “Do you keep your window open all the time?” He reported that, hard as it may be to believe from outside (where it was a bit chilly) it was not cold indoors.

I mentioned I had just seen his roommate and Wendy walking out together. He reported that the three of them had just had dinner together; John was driving Wendy home. I expressed disappointment; I’d thought they were out for a party. But Huat Chye said Wendy was not in a fun situation; somehow she pressed the wrong button and is no longer guaranteed housing. If “walking-on” to housing failed the next day, she would have to find alternative housing to move from her current residence at her parents’ house.

Saturday was Huat Chye’s first free day. He had spent it unpacking, and he had unpacking planned for the rest of the evening, along with e-mailing his advisees to remind them of a Sunday meeting. I suggested that he might visit them. But, he said the walk to Florence Moore is too long, and he still doesn’t have a functional bike.

I mentioned I had an 11 o’clock shift as bouncer at the New Student Party and invited him to join; he was uninterested. He asked whether I had heard from my drawmates and I told him I hadn’t. I asked him if he had heard from any of them. He said that Fei wrote to say she would come Sunday or Monday, but he didn’t know which day she’d finally chosen.

As I shaded my eyes from the porch light, trying to see him, he asked me if I’d seen his room yet. I had not, so he invited me up. I noticed the room was arranged the same way as Fei’s. Maybe they both left their furniture in the original position? Huat Chye agreed it was the same arrangement, but claimed to have less decoration than Fei had. I told him he needed only to pin up a scarf to match Fei. He’d also need a lamp, he said.

I looked around John’s room too, which is about complete but lacks John’s futon. Then Huat Chye showed me pictures from his trip to Hong Kong and Beijing this past summer. He said there are interesting ones and uninteresting ones. The first ones he showed me featured him; I said, “Those must be the interesting ones, since they have you in them!” That was intended facetiously, but for some reason he asked me if I had been communicating with Fei.

I said, “Not much, in fact I’ve been having difficulty communicating with her.” He asked what I meant, and I tried to describe the difficulty. I would say something she didn’t understand and she would get mad at me, or she would say something I didn’t understand and—she would get mad at me again. He asked why. I didn’t know how to answer but asked him if he could help by giving me a suggestion. None was provided. I asked him if he had never had communication problems himself, but he had no answer for this, either.

Some of the pictures have no one in them at all. I said, “If you don’t have anyone in them you might as well buy the postcard!” He remarked that Fei has a similar opinion. But I think pictures are generally held to be more valuable with people in them.

There were also shots of Huat Chye and his coworkers, most of whom he was not very fond of, apparently. Plus, there were shots of Huat Chye touring, Huat Chye wearing a floppy hat, Huat Chye ballroom dancing in a park. Evidently ballroom dancing in parks is a common morning practice in the place he lived.

After we’d done with the pictures a voice called from the path outside—lo and behold, it was Huat Chye’s ex-drawmates, together. He invited them up. It was time for me to head off to my shift, and I did so, pausing to invite Sze Yao and Li to join the party, which was scheduled to end at 12:30.

After the party was over I went very directly to bed, as I had agreed to meet Nancy Alvarez for a hike through the foothills this Sunday morning. I set my alarm but was nonetheless lulled back into sleep and only really awoke at her knock.

We took a scenic route to the foothills, past a stream through some woody area. At the foothills we discovered new regulations. Walking is now restricted to paved paths. There are guards posted at the entrances, handing out cards listing the new rules; there are also now prohibitions against dogs, picnicking, biking, skateboarding and skating allowed, and the hills are closed at night.

They claim that this is for environmental reclamation but I thought something “bad” might have happened there. Or, perhaps something bad happened in a similar location and the university is trying to forestall liability risks, as is the case with the new alcohol policy motivated by MIT being found responsible for the death of a student from alcohol abuse.

After our walk in the foothills, we stopped by Tressider Express. Nancy was thirsty, and she kindly shared with me energy bars and treated me to chocolate milk. She showed me a vegetable-and-flower farm, just beyond the cornfields where I worked in last summer, and a field of horses. Then we went to Stanford’s first Catholic mass of the year, in Old Union Courtyard. I was Eucharistic Minister, and ran out of wine. Good size crowd this year!

After church, Nancy showed me some fig trees. We picked some figs and ate them; then she was off to the library to work on a portion of her honor’s thesis.

I ran move-in errands, greeted arriving friends Fei, Jia, and Ying, and had dinner before my Orientation Volunteer duty at Flicks started at 9:30. Our first responsibility as volunteers was to seize toilet paper and food from patrons as they entered the theater. Traditionally, there are paper fights at Flicks, but we work avoid these so cleanup is as easy as possible. I was so good at this that one of the regular Flicks staff invited me to join them for Flicks the rest of the year. Our next responsibility as volunteers was to cheer during the movie to help establish ambiance. I had more trouble with this part!

Afterward, returned to my room, visited Jia and Fei and asked them if they had anything fun for me to take to Ying, who was going to sleep out for a class. That is, she planned to spend the night in the class building’s lobby to make sure she got a place on that class’ sign-up sheet.

While I was in Fei’s room Huat Chye visited her, for the second time that evening by Fei’s report. He had a gift for her. He recommended taking cookies and milk to Ying. I handed him the pomegranate Fei had given me to take to Ying and went downstairs to get some cookies set out in the lobby for arriving residents. Got some other sorts of snacks from Jia. I took these things to Ying, along with a sleeping bag.

Tuesday, Jia had the idea to go running at 7:30 this morning; I awoke a little after that time and rushed to get dressed, only to find her still sleeping and intending to continue sleeping. So I jogged Campus Drive loop by myself. Walking into the dorm afterward, I ran into Nancy, who was heading out for a walk. I joined her; we went to the lake. Went to see the treehouse out there, but someone was sleeping in it – we saw their sleeping bag.

Afterward, we checked the dining hall hours at Tressider and then Nancy treated me to breakfast at Stern, since I wasn’t carrying my card. We ran into Steve Doane there. He is a junior, from San Diego too. He wants to work in the third world after graduation.

Following breakfast, I went to OV duties, taking a picture in front of the president’s house. For lunch, I joined Jia, Huat Chye, Fei, and Jing at a grad student event. Jia and Huat Chye are going to be master’s students at Stanford next year. In the afternoon, I worked as an OV at an event where local businesses give out free food, shirts, mugs etc to students (principally new students). Took a break for an hour and then went back for clean up.

Following dinner at Manzanita, I joined Jia for another jog around Campus Drive. Jing was with us for a while but turned back on account of not considering herself in good practice at running.

Later in the evening there was an ice cream social at Lantana. After the social, my drawmates all visited in Jia’s room so she could share snacks that she’d brought from China. Ying laughed really hard when Jia brought out a special treat from her refrigerator, and it turned out to be very like Otter Pops. But it was not quite the same; Jia’s treat was more jelly-like.

First day of classes tomorrow! My first is at 8 am. After classes, I will get my books and print my resume to apply for recruiting services and jobs on the job listings. I will also look at graduate student funding, just to keep my options open.

Just Lunch with Blonde Ben

A couple of weeks ago Ben sent a pinyin invitation to Jia have lunch with him:

Jia ni3 hao3,

Wo3 hen3 chang2 shi2jian mei2 you3 kan4 ni3. (Da3gai4 yin1wei4 wo3 bu2

shang4 CS191W ke4…) Ni3 yao4 bu2 yao4 gen1 wo3 yi1 qi3 chi1 wu3fan4 ma?

Xing1xi1 san4, si4 dou1 hao3. Ni3 you3 shi2jian4 ma?

(Do you understand?)

She sent agreement asking what time specifically would he like to come and have lunch with her and her roommate (this guy has a reputation so I guess she wanted a chaperone of sorts):

HI Ben,

Sorry that I didn’t get back to you earlier. Are you still interested in having lunch with me and Georgina? If so, let’s try meeting some time next week =)


He agreed:

Hen3 hao3, xing1qi1 er4 ke3yi3 ma? (Is Tuesday good?)

As it turned out, he was civil to her as he usually is–he spent the meal talking about classes and describing, in an amusing way, an incident where he got in trouble last quarter.

He got in trouble by spitting at a TA; he said, the TA basically said, “Please spit on me:” he insulted Ben’s intelligence in front of a group of people. The TA took some sort of action against him through the university and Ben was in danger of being suspended. He delayed the necessary appearance before the judicial board several times by telling them he was sick, out of town, out of the country…but eventually he had to go.

He argued, to the judicial board, that his misdeed was the result of the stress of his double-majoring in CS and electrical engineering and getting a master’s all in four years. He also argued that some members of the board were mistaken in interpreting his action, and that there was actually no precedent upon which they could base judgement of what should be his punishment…this is all according to him, but in any case he avoided suspension, and got off with 80 hours “community service.”

His community service is serving as a Sweet Hall consultant (he sits in the 24 hour computer facility and answers questions people have about operating computers). He told Jia, he was glad to pay his debt to the Stanford community. He can work on his own programs while sitting there and his fellow consultants “love” him because he performs their job as a punishment.

Ben is a pretty crazy guy.  He went on telling stories until Jia and I had to leave for classes.