Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Für Hans Carossa"

Auch noch Verlieren ist unser; und selbst das Vergessen
hat noch Gestalt in dem bleibenden Reich der Verwandlung.
Losgelassenes kreist; und sind wir auch selten die Mitte
einem der Kreise: sie ziehn um uns die heile Figur.

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, March 29, 2010

Esgusodwch Fi

Just got back from Portuguese class, which consisted of the subjunctive, samba lessons, and lesson topics ranging from Portuguese explorers to Brazilian rock music. Oh, dear Marta!

Apparently, you really don't want to enter the women's bathroom on the ground floor of Bass Library.

Speaking of bathrooms, why are they so few and far between at Yale? Especially in William L. Harkness Hall, where, between language classes, sections and meetings, I spend more time than in any other building on campus besides my dorm. The only restroom on the first floor, I believe, is a one-roomer for handicapped individuals. This is somewhat logical, of course, because if I were both handicapped and bathroom-challenged at Yale, I'd certainly hope the handicapped restroom was on the first floor, but why couldn't they build a couple more? Well, actually, there is another bathroom down the hall, but it is kept locked and reserved for the small handful of faculty members who work in that area of WLH. The women's room is in the basement, while the men's is in a corner of the third floor, a small flight of stairs above the recital hall.

Unfortunately, this strange phenomenon is not restricted to WLH. From Mason Lab to Commons to Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Hall, it can be challenging to locate the loo, which is generally hidden in a dark corner of the basement or at the end of a labyrinthine corridor. Maybe students urinated less frequently back in 1701.

"like the ninja i am i snuck in and got my backpack."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Asia Tomorrow

The Yale College Business Society's annual "Asia Tomorrow" business conference took place yesterday. After months of hard work, it was great to see the success of the 2010 conference.

Speakers included Rakesh Mohan, former deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India; Tarun Khanna, a professor at Harvard Business School; and Daniel Esty, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale University.

The day was full of presentations from and panel discussions among 25 speakers, who ranged from businesspeople to academics to policy makers. Despite what I thought to be a general overemphasis on the competition between China and India, the conference was fairly well-attended and avoided any major mishaps. Kudos to the whole team!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Maen Bwrw Glaw

Back in New Haven, where the weather is appropriately wet and dreary for New England.

Two weeks is a long time to be away from school in the middle of a semester, but I somehow still can't believe that spring break's already over. Maybe it's due to the fact that academics were quite far from my mind for most of break. It could also be the taste of mouthwateringly gooey, fresh-baked Ghirardelli brownies that continues to linger 1,488 miles away. In any case, hopefully I can snap back into school mode before my exams later this week.

The day began innocently enough. During Korean class, we studied the history of the Korean diaspora in the United States, Japan, Brazil, and Germany.

The trouble began this afternoon in Psychology. Jeremy Wolfe, professor at a certain rival institution in Cambridge, presented a guest lecture titled "Freud and Fairy Tales," during which he systematically traumatized the audience by shedding light on the hidden sexual undertones of traditional folk tales. Hansel and Gretel, according to Professor Wolfe, is an oral stage tale in which the candy house embodies oral stage issues, and the witch represents "orality gone nuts." Jack and the Beanstalk, on the other hand, is apparently an early Oedipal stage tale, replete with phallic symbolism, while Snow White is an "anal fairy tale in the woods."

Then I get to Portuguese, where I thought I'd be safe from the Germanic world of the Brothers Grimm and their disturbing tales. Much to my despair, however, Professora Marta decided that translating well-known fairy tales would be an excellent way to practice the imperfeito. As a result, not only did I have to struggle with a new verb tense, I also was haunted throughout the class by thoughts of asexual dwarfs, accentuated femininity, and the pleasure-seeking id.

Food for thought from the New York Times:
Big Win for Obama, but at What Cost?
(David E. Sanger)
« The House’s passage of health care legislation late Sunday night assures that whatever the ultimate cost, President Obama will go down in history as one of the handful of presidents who found a way to reshape the nation’s social welfare system.

But there is no doubt that in the course of this debate, Mr. Obama has lost something — and lost it for good. Gone is the promise on which he rode to victory less than a year and a half ago — the promise of a “postpartisan” Washington in which rationality and calm discourse replaced partisan bickering. »

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Leaving my room at Barceló has been just that—no cash, no ID, car keys, no cell phone. Well, I frequently leave my phone in my room back home, too, but here nobody complains about it.

No wristwatch, either. It's incredibly liberating to not care about the time, to not worry about being tardy, to not even know the day of the week. Apart from a few glances at the clock in the lobby—the clock in the room has been unplugged—during my entire stay here, I asked fellow beachgoers for the time only twice. (The second instance resulted in a mildly interesting conversation about palm tree varieties.)

Anyway, I'll certainly miss the Caribbean, the food, the landscaping, the Spanish, the free-flowing libations, the water sports, and the company.

That said, I can't wait to get to the Houston airport and greet my grandmother, who will be arriving at around the same time on a flight from Brazil. Ótimo!

"An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."

- J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

Friday, March 19, 2010

Blues and Blaus

So many Germans here. And Canadians. I've concluded that exactly 83.3% of the obese people here are American. And the Germans tend to be the palest, according to precise scientific research, while anyone who says "Eh!" is most definitely Canadian.

Last night, after watching a thoroughly disorienting cabaret show, some of the kids and I headed to a nearby club for some dancing (more people-watching than dancing, actually). Again, loads of Canadians. And Dallas women. This was followed, of course, by the obligatory end-of-night train ride...

With the padre

The parental units and I enjoyed some sailing this morning, despite the somewhat choppy water. There's something perversely glorious about sitting in a tiny vessel in the vast expanse of an unfamiliar sea, buffeted by powerful waves that move as they please. Of course, one could also delve into the significance of adjusting the sails despite having no control over the wind, but even so, if the wind decides to stop blowing or abruptly change direction, there's a moment of helplessness or, at least, a feeling that closely resembles helplessness. And, sometimes, it can be refreshing to not be in control. Which was the general theme of sailing today, actually, given my lack of experience and the fact that my lesson earlier this week was entirely in rapid-fire Spanish.

After lunch, I finished reading Franny and Zooey, which, aside from causing me to question the purpose of higher education and my life direction in general, was hilarious and immensely enjoyable. (Incidentally, I still haven't decided if Zooey, in person, would make a riotously entertaining friend or an absolutely insufferable prick.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Apellido Jito

"That's the spirit! Make it chicken broth or nothing. That's putting the ole foot down. If she's determined to have a nervous breakdown, the least we can do is see that she doesn't have it in peace."
- J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey

It's been an unfortunately long time since I've read just for pleasure. Fortunately, I remembered to bring along a first-rate work by my second-favorite author, and I've been enjoying Franny and Zooey immensely.

Speaking of unfortunately long periods of time, I don't think I've been this relaxed for quite a while. So much great seafood, so much fruit*, so much sleep**.

*After eternally swearing off watermelon in Beijing last summer—I still haven't figured out what it is between watermelon and the Chinese—I must admit that I drank, with no regrets, a deliciously refreshing glass of watermelon juice today. Honestly, though, watermelon has the unfortunate distinction of possessing a supremely unappetitlich texture, in my opinion, something between mealy apple and unhappiness.



Wednesday, March 17, 2010


The Barceló Maya Beach Resort is situated on the coast of the Riviera Maya, about an hour from downtown Cancun.

Before describing the hotel, I should mention that this is, in several ways, a very atypical vacation for the family.

First, we're not traveling alone but rather with fifteen other families from the neighborhood, which is quite an adventure in itself.

Furthermore, most vacations with my family consist of extensive research, carefully planned itineraries, reservations, maps, alarm clocks, and a history book or two. Most of which I relish.

Here, on the other hand, my watch is stuffed somewhere deep in my suitcase, and I don't even have a map of the resort—directions are either toward the beach or away from the beach. Another critical element of the magic formula:

This mysterious amulet somehow brings so much happiness: it's an ID, meal/drink pass, and activities ticket, all combined in an exceedingly convenient wristband. Also, according to the front desk, it also costs 300 USD to replace, mostly as a deterrent against selling it to under-18 minors or local hooligans.

More pictures:

In addition to consuming approximately two pounds of papaya today, there was some snorkeling and also some caipirinha action. Professora Marta would be so proud.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

¡Bienvenidos a Cancún!

Got home in time to pack, shower, and then catch our morning flight to Cancún.

On the cover of "Best of the City 2010":
« Think you know all the latest Houston buzz? Biz and real estate development still outpacing the nation? Check. Over-the-top parties crowding the calendar? Uh-huh. Gay mayor? Yep. That's all part of the conversation in H-Town now. And yet there's more. The art world is sexing up, and hip young chefs like Haven's Randy Evans are building out. Boutiques and bars are booming. NASA's having a yard sale. Oh, and a hot Muslim cowboy is galloping your way. Welcome to 2010 in America's most intriguing city! »

Anyway, back to Cancun:

It's good to be back.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Made omelettes yesterday, twice.

the first time

the second time

In between the omelettes, there were avocados, cookie dough, Schuelkes, bowling, cats, and too many 3s.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

39 Steps

After lunch with the Kunzes, headed to the Alley Theatre to watch The 39 Steps, a play adapted from the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock.

From the "Director's Notes" in the playbill:
« In The 39 Steps, Hitchcock throws into his cauldron of storytelling a severe mistrust of authority, a hero wrongly accused of murder, a wild journey through dangerous landscapes, a generous helping of wry humor, an examination of the battle between the sexes and, of course, a beautiful Hitchcock Blonde. All are signature ideas Hitchcock would return to again and again. »

The play adaptation calls for Hitchcock's 1935 film to be performed nearly verbatim onstage, but with a cast of only four. One actor plays the hero, one actress plays the three women with whom the hero has romantic entanglements, and two other actors play all the remaining characters, including policemen, train conductors, children, professors, spies, farmers, innkeepers, and inanimate objects.

Overall, the play is clever, fast-paced, family-friendly, and hilarious. The Alley production will run through March 28, so there's still time to go enjoy the performance.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Price of Beauty

"I don't brush my teeth, really! I just use Listerine, and sometimes I'll use my sweater."
- Jessica Simpson

..and I wondered why she was single.

On a less depressing note, I drove to Rice University this morning to attend Frontiers of Neuroscience, a lecture series featuring professors and researchers from Rice University and the Baylor College of Medicine. Today's speakers included Dr. Michael Friedlander, chair of the Department of Neuroscience at BCM, who presented "Individual cellular differences in plasticity behaviors within the visual cortex."

I also enjoyed Dr. Mariella De Biasi's lecture on the mechanisms of nicotine addiction. She explained in depth the diversity of neuronal nicotine receptors and the specific subunits that can be targeted to alleviate nicotine-related anxiety and withdrawal symptoms. Although human studies have not yet been conducted, preliminary research with mice suggests that some of these subunits are only found in addiction-related neuron populations and, therefore, that disabling their expression could be a safe and powerful tool against nicotine addiction.

Some pictures from my walk around Rice's campus:

Gorgeous campus, gorgeous weather

Friday, March 12, 2010

Anton Bruckner, Houston Symphony

According to the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians:
« Bruckner took Beethoven's Ninth Symphony as his starting-point...The introduction to the first movement, beginning mysteriously and climbing slowly with fragments of the first theme to the gigantic full statement of that theme, was taken over by Bruckner; so was the awe-inspiring coda of the first movement. The scherzo and slow movement, with their alternation of melodies, are models for Bruckner's spacious middle movements, while the finale with a grand culminating hymn is a feature of almost every Bruckner symphony.

Bruckner created a new and monumental type of symphonic organism, which abjured the tense, dynamic continuity of Beethoven, and the broad, fluid continuity of Wagner, in order to express something profoundly different from either composer, something elemental and metaphysical
. »

Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E major, which the Houston Symphony performed last night, was his most popular work during his lifetime, and it remains one of his best-known symphonies.

I find it difficult to describe in words the sense of deliberate, otherworldly drama with which Bruckner imbues his monumental seventh symphony. His music is set apart by its sheer expansiveness, both in temporal duration and emotional breadth. Unlike many of his contemporaries, who wrote music packed with fast-paced, contrasting elements designed to guarantee the audience's attention, Bruckner embraced the ideals of Austro-German Romanticism and elevated them to create a new musical paradigm.

Some more interesting facts about Symphony No. 7:
  • It is dedicated to Ludwig II of Bavaria.
  • It pays homage to Bruckner's friend and fellow composer Richard Wagner through its instrumentation, which calls for four Wagner tubas.*
  • Bruckner wrote the cymbal clash at the climax of the second movement upon hearing the news that Wagner had died.**
  • The second movement was played on national radio before before the official announcement of the German defeat at Stalingrad in January 1943 and before Admiral Karl Dönitz announced Hitler's death on Radio Berlin on May 1, 1945.
*Wagner tubas have such a focused, haunting sound. It's a shame they never became more popular with composers.

**The cymbal clash was my favorite moment of last night's performance. Goosebumps.

Here's an interesting comment written by Henry Fogel:
« Bruckner had his own sense of time—an expansive, slow-moving sense of time. His music will not enter the time world in which we live; we must turn off our internal clocks and enter his. But, in fact, that is a healthy thing to do once in a while. A favorite story of mine is about the American who goes to visit a friend in Vienna. The friend takes him to a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic that consists of one work only, Bruckner's Eighth Symphony (all 80 minutes of it). Afterward, the Viennese friend asks the American what he thought of the concert, and the American answers: "Well, that piece has many beautiful things in it—gorgeous melodies, wonderfully rich orchestration, power. But my goodness, it goes on and on and on." The Viennese friend answers gently: "Ah yes. But you see, here in Vienna, we like music." »

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cidade de Deus

Tonight's dilemma: Brad Paisley or Anton Bruckner, i.e. Rodeo or Houston Symphony?

Those who know my taste in music may understand how difficult this decision is for me. It's what my mother would refer to as a "즐거운 고민 (jeulgeoun gomin)," which translates approximately to "joyous distress."

"Malandro não pára; malandro dá um tempo."
"Gangster's don't stop; gangsters take a break."

Also, an insightful piece in this week's Spiegel:
The Fundamental Flaw of Europe's Common Currency
« The euro is under attack like never before, as the promises on which it was based turn out to be lies. Hedge funds are speculating against Greek debt, while euro-zone politicians work behind the scenes to cobble together rescue packages. But fundamental flaws in the monetary union need to be fixed if Europe's common currency is to survive. »

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Just got back from Texas A&M University, where I crashed with some of the old gang. Even though College Station is only an hour and a half northwest of Houston, I had never visited the campus before, but I left this morning with an excellent first impression.

Texas A&M University is the seventh-largest university in the United States and ranks among America's top 20 research institutes in terms of funding. Not surprisingly, College Station was ranked by Money magazine as the 11th most educated city in the United States. And being located in the heart of the Brazos Valley (between the Texas Gulf Coast and Hill Country), A&M is verdant, with massive oaks and generous lawns sprinkled throughout campus.

I spent the night with David, Brendan, and Charlie, who live in a loft a short drive from the central campus. Who needs Gothic architecture when there are palm trees and sunshine?

Not to mention the parkland-walking, pizza-destroying, sweet tea-drinking, music-sharing, Red Mango-eating, movie-watching, Whataburger-hunting, balcony-sitting, late-night-driving, couch-crashing adventures...

Dear Scott, I'll refrain from Oreo-peach combinations in the future.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Went to watch my brother's varsity lacrosse game yesterday against St. John's. Despite the constant drizzle, the game was fun to watch and very fast-paced. After losing their lead in the second quarter, the Memorial Mustangs bounced back to beat the St. John's Mavericks 10-8.

Afterward, we came home, made some more creme de abacate—that stuff's really tasty—and watched American Psycho. Christian Bale's amazing performance was enhanced for me after having studied psychopathy and serial killers in Psychology and the Law with Professor Lockhart. I'm still trying to reconcile some of his character traits with what we learned in class, but at any rate, it's definitely an interesting movie. Perhaps I should check out the original novel, too.

On another note, some great news: I just found out I was accepted for a month-long internship at a law firm in Seoul for this summer. So pumped.

Niki—unhappy about being wet
but very clean from her morning bath

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Since coming home last night, I've realized that I actually have significantly more work than I initially estimated. At the top of the to-do list:
  • Wrap up the editorial process for Business Sphere magazine
  • Figure out what I'm doing this summer
  • Work on a project for the Yale Journal of International Affairs
  • Gym
Fortunately, being home makes it much easier for me to access my coping mechanism of choice: calories. In addition to going out for dim sum, homemade treats have included grilled conch, shrimp polenta, and oxtail soup. Ah, how I've missed Mother's cooking!

Also, I decided to try to make creme de abacate (avocado cream), a popular Brazilian dessert. With the help of a recipe we memorized in Portuguese class a few weeks ago, this:

...became this:

Esplêndido, não é?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

And The Show Begins

I'm sitting at my gate in LaGuardia, waiting for my flight and paying for overpriced Wi-Fi because I forgot to bring something to read.

I can't believe it's already spring break; how is this term flying by so quickly? No complaints, of course—after a brutal week of midterms, I'm very excited to see my family, enjoy some great food, and relax at home. The silver lining of having had so much work last week is that I'm only taking home one slim folder of Portuguese homework for the next two weeks, as opposed to the half-of-my-rolling-carry-on I usually lug home during breaks.

Also, 10 days until Cancun!

That's 14,400 minutes (minus sleeping time minus doing work time minus cooking minus some exponential factor of eating time minus chilling at home minus running errands minus anything I'd rather do than head to the gym) to sculpt the perfect beach bod.

Monday, March 1, 2010

March First

An insightful article in the Korea Times about Kim Yu-na and Korea-Japan relations:

Culture Bridges Korea-Japan Relations
(Kang Hyun-kyung)
« Some foreign news outlets have shed light on the alleged bad blood between Koreans and Japanese based on Japan's annexation of Korea a century ago to interpret why Koreans were so attached to the [Kim Yu-na]. They said Koreans were overjoyed because Kim outperformed her Japanese rival, Mao Asada.

But evidence supports the claim that the "Yu-na fever" has little to do with Koreans' deep-seated nationalistic antagonism against Japan.
Kim's winning of the Olympic gold medal came just a few days before the nation celebrated the 91st anniversary of the March 1 Independence Movement in 1919.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Japanese annexation of Korea. Japan's colonial rule continued until 1945.

What's really happening inside Korea betrays the media report.

Japanese skater Asada received a warm welcome from home fans when she became champion at the 2010 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships held in Jeonju, South Korea.

Korean fans in the stadium were excited and applauded when Asada used the music of local girl group Brown Eyed Girls during the gala show after winning the competition.

A public opinion survey conducted last year by the Seoul-based Northeast Asian History Foundation found that Koreans' attitude toward Japan and its people has changed.

Young Koreans in their 20s and 30s, in particular, answered that not only is Japan close to Korea in terms of geographical location but also they feel an intimacy with the Japanese, the survey showed.

The survey also found more Japanese answered that the Tokyo government should officially offer an apology to Korea for "comfort women," sex slaves for Japanese soldiers during World War II, a shift from a survey result a year ago where 54 percent of Japanese said the government didn't need to.

Experts say culture has brought the two nations together and played a role in facilitating the trend of Korea-Japan relations in a positive manner.

As for the sweeping Yu-na fever here, Koreans are overjoyed at her winning the Olympic gold medal not because she outperformed her Japanese rival, but because the skater prodigy inspires a "can-do" spirit.

. . .

"Todo lo que puede ser imaginado es real."
"All that can be imagined is real."
- Pablo Picasso