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).


Two for dinner and a bit of dance

On the night of the “Screw Your Roommate” dance, Fei got dressed up.  Jia and I went to visit her.  She had arranged to meet Huat Chye at 7:30.  She deliberated over what she would wear and ended up wearing a gray dress.

Jia insisted that Fei come by our room with Huat Chye before they left to the dance. Fei came first to borrow a gray coat of Jia’s and to have Jia help her with her hair.  Someone suggested that we could just call Huat Chye and have him meet Fei in our room.  Fei thought it would be unbearably weird, having him meet her with Jia and I and also Jing who was visiting us at the time. She fled back to her room and started listening to MP3s when Jia called him.

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Wacky Walk and Robert Pinsky

Woke up before 6 to drawmate Ying’s knocking shortly followed by Jia’s alarm going off. Went with Ying and Fei to serve as ushers at Commencement.

We were stroller ushers.  There are no strollers allowed in Stanford Stadium, because besides a limited amount of space reserved for wheelchairs it’s all stairs in there.  So we performed the duty of collecting people’s strollers, giving them coupons and sticking corresponding tickets to their strollers, putting the strollers together in a circle and guarding them until the people decided to leave the ceremony.  For this we got free refreshments and a $25 gift certificate for the Stanford Bookstore.

We did not all stand by the strollers all the time.  We took turns watching the strollers and watching the “Wacky Walk” that is traditionally performed by the undergraduates. Those receiving their bachelor’s degree will wear some zany things and precess into the stadium in playful ways. The stadium was nicely decorated, and with the colorful graduating undergraduates it was quite a pretty sight!

Fei and Ying listened to the poet laureate, Robert Pinsky I think it was, who gave the commencement speech this year.

Afterward we returned to the dorm and met Ting Ting and Jia.  We decided to go out to lunch and did so…we ate at Jade Foutain on El Camino. After this we came back…stopped at Jia’s friend Wenlan’s apartment on the way back.  Wenlan is a freshman who came from China this year.  She is a little bit non-traditional because she’s married, which is why she lives in a family apartment in Escondido Village.

I was tired so took a long nap…first in our room and then took a walk and napped in a room in the education building that has a sofa in it.  I called from the education building and got a busy signal, walked back to Lantana and got a call from mama.

Ting Ting and I listened to our messages and found one from Jia saying she was at Wenlan’s house and inviting us to join them for dinner, which we did.  After that I came back and listened to mama’s message, checked e-mail and read a little before going to bed.

Funny Accidents in Joining a Housing Lottery

During dinner, we had a kind of complicated surprise.

Let me try to explain.  There is a housing lottery to determine where students will live next year.  Students who want to live in the same house can form “draw groups,” whose members will receive the same lottery number together.  I am “drawing” with Nicola, Jia, and Fei, and possibly Sarah.

Sarah was talking about bringing two other people into the draw group, one girl that I do not know and a boy that even Sarah had not met.  Over dinner, there was discussion about the draw group, and some concern that we should not draw with people we did not know.

There was a boy at the table who was also considering “drawing” with people he did not know.  He finished before the rest of us, and left.  Shortly, however, he returned with news of an amusing coincidence. He, himself, is the boy that Sarah was going to bring into the group!

Crossing the Line

I did not write yesterday because every time I went into the lounge the computers were either full or under the power of “Assimilator,” a program which matches the computers in Stanford to the key server or something…

Anyhow, yesterday I got to work a half-hour late, which was not good but not as bad as the girl who has the shift before me, who did not show up at all…

At 11 at usual I went to math section, and then to work again–JS helped me with a last math homework problem and then I traveled to the math building to turn it in.

Then I practiced on a piano for a little before SLE section.  After SLE section I had dinner and then read a little chemistry before the SLE movie, “Rashomon” directed by Akira Kurosawa.

 At 9:00 I participated in an house activity called “Crossing the Line.” There were not that many people, only about 20.  In the activity, everyone begins standing on one side of the line.  A person running the activity asks questions ranging from “Do you wear glasses?” to “Have you ever lost a night and just did not know what happened?” and “Have you ever saved a life?” and “Have you participated in binge drinking at Stanford?” Afterwards there was a little discussion.  It was interesting, though not as personal as I had expected when I heard about it from upperclassmen.

 As for the sexual escapades of others here, I can only say this: of approximately 20 people who showed, about 3 crossed for “Have you ever been sexually active?”  I am unsure myself how to interpret this information, so perhaps I am also a cryptic message-writer.

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.