Start of a First Winter Break

A message from JS, spending the first college winter break working at the Hoover Institution:

Hello Gina

Is the movie named “Tommorrow will never die”? Is the Bond girl a Chinese? I would love to watch it, maybe sometime next week.  How could you attend classes with your brothers and sisters? Were you doing Robert’s job as a TA there?

I am having fun with Yuri. He is not the guy you saw. The so-called “some kind of white” is actually from India, but I am told that he is hybrid, and he has an aunt living in San Francisco.  Natalia is visiting her parents in Indiana right now, so basically I am having a single room. It’s cool to have a room of your own, because you can make a mess and don’t have to worry about what your roommate will possibly think.

Once again, don’t worry about your job. From other perspective, it’s better to have control of your time, since we have lots of reading to do and you can definitely enjoy your life and write long email to me under that circumstance…:)

It is not raining at all. The weather is just perfect! Regrettably or fortunately for me, there are no many visitors at all, actually the highest record is 20 per day. Thus, I am quite free these days, yet I still have much paperwork to do, and don’t exercise at all…the messenger job is just horrible because I have walk for at least an hour everyday in the campus…

Nothing much has happened so far. I just begin to miss our Flomo cafeteria and those roasted chicken, pot stickers and tacos.

OK, talk to you later,

Take care,



Nicola leads a tour of the city

The group with which I planned to travel to San Francisco gathered.  This was my roommate Nicola, Fei, Jia and Franzo. Franzo was a last-minute addition to this group. However, he is quite talkative and somehow managed to do most of the talking on this trip!

We caught a bus to China Town, Nicola serving as tour. Looked around a little before having a late lunch (at a Chinese food place, as you may have expected). Topics of conversation included drinking at Stanford.

After that, we caught another bus and then walked for a little.  Nicola took us to her high school, a Catholic girls’ school that consists of only one (large, fancy) building.  She told us that it has only 200 students altogether and there were, I think, 58 students in her graduating class.

We spent a long time in the chapel.  Franzo played the piano–he is good at it because he has done it for many years, although he says he hasn’t had formal lessons and plays by ear.

There is also an organ there and Nicola played a little before Franzo played on that too.  Nicola went upstairs for a while (I think she said she ran into her college counselor). While she was gone Franzo played more on the piano and showed us how the pedals work.

Soon after Nicola came back we walked a little more, talking (mostly Fei and Jia and Franzo) about dating. Of the five of us I think only Franzo has dated, and he not since he came to Stanford.

We passed a place called the Exploratorium and entered a grand-looking structure called the Palace of Fine Arts (we saw the Golden Gate bridge on the way). We sat for a while under a dome there as Franzo related stories of his life in New York.

After this, bought some drinks from a vending machine and visited a Gap (a store chain that Franzo works for).

We took a couple more buses and walked a little more before getting dinner at McDonald’s.  Then we made our way back to the train station in time for the 9:00 train.  Before we got on one final bus we had a guy take our picture with Jia’s camera.

It was quite an enjoyable trip, really, quite fun to be with this group going about San Francisco.  We said goodbye to Nicola at the train station, since she planned to go home. When the rest of us got to Palo Alto, Franzo headed straight back but I went with Jia and Fei to return the Blockbuster tapes we rented yesterday.  Then we biked home, checking P.O. boxes on the way.

Late Night Food & Conversation

Well, I met my roommate, Nicola, at 11:00 yesterday but Florence Moore’s Late Night was closed.  So we went to Stern’s, and got breadsticks and candy.

We returned through rain.  When we were in our room, first Fei and then Jia came in and a conversation went on for quite a while–we actually got a request for more quiet, because the doors and walls are thin.

Topic ranged, but mostly revolved around SLE.

Anyway, this morning I went to the last lecture–which was actually a question and answer session.  I wish I had known that ahead of time, so I would have prepared some questions!

I have to go now to sign up for next quarter’s chem!

Student Evaluation of Teaching

I just finished lunch, and before that work, and before that my last math section of the quarter.  As in organ, SLE, and Spanish, we were given evaluation forms. I volunteered to carry these to the Registrar’s office after everybody was done.

As people worked, one girl named Sarah looked out the window and announced that the TA was sitting under a tree, and then pacing.  I didn’t look myself, but I could kind of see that the teachers were somewhat nervous when they handed out the evaluation forms.  I decided to take mine home rather than fill it out on the spot.

Anyway, I took two manila envelopes –one containing evaluations of the professor, the other containing evaluations of the TA–to the Office of the Registrar, and checked at an office in the basement to see that it was okay to take my form home, then I went to work.  I saw my roommate, NS, there, and it was she who mentioned to me that the evaluation forms for the professors are used in setting salaries.  I hadn’t paid much attention to that part of the form before.

Well, I just thought that I would relate this process because I found it interesting.  I’m not sure how seriously these evaluations are actually considered, but they seem like they might be a helpful opportunity for feedback.

Secret Snowflake & the Primal Scream

People are doing crazy stuff for a game called “Secret Santa” or alternatively “Secret Snowflake.”  Each “Snowflake” or “Santa” gives embarrassing tasks which must be performed to  earn little gifts such as candy.

The tasks are generally performed during dinner.  For example, one boy had to get  up on a table and sing, with guitar, a Bob Dylan song.  Needless to say I am not participating in this fun.

I believe a guy screaming “Wake up, it’s a beautiful morning!” at 8:00 yesterday morning was completing his task for his Secret Snowflake.

Another Secret Snowflake task that I saw a girl, FW, complete was this: she had to go up to a “cute” guy in the Coffee House and ask him where the Co Ho was, and then when he replied she had to act confused and ask him again.  As it turned out, this was not awkward at all–actually quite a natural question to ask, if she were a visitor.

The reason I was witness to this particular task is because FW’s Secret Snowflake used me as a middle-man to deliver the assignment — then I gave it to someone else who finally gave it to my friend herself.

Well, apparently it is quite difficult to come up with creative embarrassing tasks after a couple of days, especially when those days are in the middle of “dead week”–that is, the week before finals.

Another interesting thing happening this week is called the “Primal Scream.”  Every night at midnight people go outside and scream.  It’s kind of scary to listen to but it might relieve stress.  Needless to say I am not participating in this activity either.

The Residence


I live on the first floor, which is like a basement and was not part of the original building.  My roommate is nice and almost as quiet as I am. My dorm, Mirlo, is one of four in West Florence Moore, aka “FloMo” (the other three being Paloma, Loro, and Gavilan.  Actually I am now in Loro, location of the West Flo Mo Computer Cluster).

I know less about Gavilan than about the other dorms, probably because it has few or no SLE (Structured Liberal Education program) students. SLE is a residence-based humanities class.

Right now somebody is playing classical music on the piano outside. There’s a piano in every lounge and they are frequently in use in this manner.  Also some play the violin.  It’s nice to hear, although a little distracting sometimes, such as when one’s trying to watch a movie.

There’s study rooms on the second and third floor of my dorm, which I sometimes use, since my roommate goes to bed rather early.  I also go out to the library if I feel the need for a more strict study environment.