Saturday, August 31, 2013


Well, I guess this will be my last blog of the summer, and my last LMF blog in general barring unforeseen circumstances...

The last bit of my summer has been a very interesting experience on the whole.  There's been a bit of everything, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

For one thing, I went hiking out on Dungeness Spit, which is over 5 miles long and both very beautiful and quite the workout.  Highlights included chasing seagulls, eating mochi, being unable to see when a bunch of fog rolled in, watching not one, not two, but three cruise ships go by (most likely heading to Alaska), and nearly freezing my feet when I decided to take off my shoes because we were almost back and the tide was coming in.

Oh right, if you hadn't heard, I got a haircut.

More recently, I have moved to Berkeley, CA... or rather, I would consider the moving process close to complete.  My roommate and I only have one piece of furniture so far (and that one thanks to Laura) and there's no internet at the apartment yet, but I think those things are relatively minor.

My parents and I took a nice little road trip down from WA so I didn't have to leave as much of my stuff on their hands and because it was fun and they were kind enough to understand that I really didn't feel like heading off alone to live somewhere new for the, I guess, third time in 4 years?  MIT, Paris, Berkeley, does that sound about right?

We stopped in Portland on the way and had lunch with Emma, which was both fun and delicious!  Unfortunately I did not remember to take any pictures together, so you'll have to take my word for it and maybe Emma will back me up.

When we arrived in Berkeley, the crazy search for an apartment began, and I discovered that my roommate used to live with Adam's brother. *Cue* It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all... OKAY I'll shut up now.

Anyway, the difficulty of finding a place to live led to the next phase: Camping on Daniel's couch.  Daniel, an LMF alum for those who don't know him, was nice enough to let me stay with him for what turned out to be longer than I had hoped; much gratitude is sent from me to him and his roommate.

All turned out well, however, as I now have a very nice, if unfurnished and not terribly cheap, place to live.

The chemistry department here has "orientated" me not only up the wazoo, as the saying goes, but also back down and all around the merry-go-round, while still managing to leave a lot of logistical glitches for me to work through (I really never appreciated just how much MIT spoils you from the standpoint of being organized, taking care of you, and making sure you know who to talk to if you have a question until now).  Classes started Thursday, I start teaching next week, and I'm in the process of finding a research lab to join, so wish me luck!  All in all I'm feeling pretty good about my situation and although I miss you all, I'm looking forward to the next however many years I will spend here.  Here's to the end of one era and the start of a new one!

P.S.  Thank you LMF for being one of the most important reasons I've loved being an MIT student so much, and I will be in touch with you peeps, so watch out :P

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Zizz in Deutschland, 2.

This will be my last post for the summer.  Many of you are back on campus, and the pictures I'm seeing of REX things look pretty fantastic.  I can't wait to get back, although at the same time I'm really enjoying life over here so I wouldn't mind staying a little longer.

I arrived in Deutschland last Saturday, the 17th.  I hung out in Hannover a little before taking an afternoon train down to Stuttgart, to visit this very excellent fellow:
in the Schlossgarten Biergarten
On the way to Stuttgart, I was sitting on the train across from some empty seats.  A guy who looked fairly typically German (tallish, blond hair, blue eyes, glasses), got on at one stop and proceeded to ask me "这里有位子吗?" (Is this seat free?) in unaccented Chinese.  I did a double take:
me: Was? (What? This is a relatively impolite way of asking someone what they just said.  I was too surprised to remember how to be polite.)
guy: Ist hier frei? (Is this place free?)
me: Ja, das ist frei. (Yes. [pause]) War das chinesisch? (Was that Chinese?)
guy: 当然了。 你是中国人,看得出来。 (Of course. You're Chinese; one can see it).
Turns out he was a German who studied Chinese in college and then moved to Beijing to work, where he has been for about 5 years now.  We proceeded to have a conversation for the remainder of the train ride in Chinese and German.  I was embarrassed because his Chinese was much better than mine, but it stands to reason.  I thought that was pretty cool.

In Stuttgart I stayed with Juan, and in addition to just catching up on life we went around to some touristy places, including a history museum, an art museum, and some lovely gardens with a lovely castle.  I really enjoyed the visit.  I also got to see my friend Yin, who is working for Bosch in Stuttgart on a MISTI internship.  One night we went to a schnitzel place on Yin's recommendation - she said the schnitzel was as big as her face, and she wasn't kidding:
we split a schnitzel dish.
After Stuttgart I hopped up to Hannover, where I went around being touristy by myself.  They have a walking tour called "Die Rote Farbe" (The Red Thread), which is a self-guided kind of tour where you follow a map from place to place and there's a booklet that tells you about landmarks.  It took me until landmark 13/23 to realize the red line I kept seeing on the ground was one I was supposed to be walking along.  Whoops.  One cool thing I saw were the ruins of a church destroyed in WWII.  It was very surreal to walk inside them - it's just walls and stone floor of a church.  No ceiling.
I learned my camera can do B&W.
I also took a day trip up to Hamburg, where a friend from my last visit to Germany is working.  I went around being touristy during the day, and in the evening I met up with him and had dinner.  That was very nice.  I think one nice thing I saw in Hamburg was the harbor.  Hamburg is a very wealthy city simply because of the trade it gets through its harbor.  Isn't that a funny thing to think about in today's world?
 After a good few days in Hannover, I met up with my friend Meera who flew in on Saturday for the same exchange I'm doing at TUBS, and we took the train out to Braunschweig together.  In the evening we explored Braunschweig, eventually grabbing some döner for dinner and settling down to some live music and dancing and good fun at a Weinfest that happened to be going on.  It reminded me that I really like dancing (I didn't dance but I kind of wanted to, and then I missed it).  I also had some very excellent wine.

On Sunday, Meera, Luke (who is also on our exchange), and I went out to Bremen for the day.  Bremen's main claim to fame is a Grimm brothers' fairy tale called "The Town Musicians of Bremen".  It's a pretty cute story and the town has tons of little knick-knacks related to it for purchase.  It was a really fun day trip.  I don't have any pictures, though, because my camera is too far away to reach.  >.>
the Bremen Stadtmusikanten (Bremen Town Musicians)
One thing realized on this trip:  as much as I like relaxing, too much is no fun.  I went to some pretty small cities because I really don't like big ones all that much, but I think I prefer small cities to live in and big cities for tourism.  Ah well.  I did very much enjoy spending an afternoon reading on the lawn of a gorgeous town hall palace-y thing.

Now I'm in Braunschweig (Brunswick), where four other students and I are doing an exchange with the Technical University of Braunschweig.  Yesterday we were in lab making modifications to a small RC airplane and today we ran some flight tests.  I did not dare pilot for the tests but afterwards I messed around piloting first-person view (FPV) using these pretty cool goggles which have a video link to a camera on the plane.  It's pretty fun. =)
FPV flying w/ the Fat Shark (brand of the goggles)
See you all soon!  Tell our freshmen that I am looking forward to seeing them, too.


Monday, August 26, 2013

...and back in the east coast!

Hi peoplez!

Although I blogged relatively recently, I figured I'd share what I've been up to since then. The last couple weeks have both been really stressful and awesome at the same time--stressful because of the presentation that I had to give and awesome because....well, food, friends, and hobbies. :)

The weekend after Disneyland was a chill, plan-free (and lab-filled) weekend. I went to Old Pasadena with a few friends to eat at this place called Dog Haus. I had a burger and tots and it was pretty awesome and cheap :) They use sweet hawaiian bread for the hot dogs and the burgers, which was very delicious.

The last week at Caltech was actually pretty hectic. I was trying to finish up some purifications before discovering that the FPLC column that I have to use was not working properly, so I was in lab for long hours on Monday and Tuesday. Most of us interns had to present on Thursday, so I spent Wednesday and Thursday preparing for that instead of doing actual benchwork. I did do some fun things though, like going out to Korean bbq for the last time for a while (Boston, why you no have kbbq -.-) and some good boba. If you're ever in the LA/Pasadena area, make sure to have a lot of boba. It's pretty amazing and there are a lot of good places.

Thursday evening was the semi-final and final rounds of the Caltech Iron Chef competition. Back in June, I had organized a team and we competed in the first round and barely won after having some major teamwork issues, and due to scheduling issues, the organizers had waited until the last Thursday to do both the semis and the finals. One of my team members couldn't make it but maybe that was for the better since we didn't have the 'too many cooks in the kitchen' problem this time.

The semifinal ingredients were cod, fresh fettucine, and vanilla beans. Interesting, right? The main organizer of this event is a trained chef, who also happens to be the director of student life at Caltech. He's really awesome and has a very well-stocked kitchen, to which we had access. I wasn't actually sure what to make of the vanilla beans, so we did a lime cream sauce on pan-fried (with butter and lime juice) cod and fettucine and a side of almost-caramelized carrots with vanilla beans. Apparently several of the teams had done some very sweet sauce with the pasta, and our citrusy flavor stood out, so we won that round and were able to compete with another team in the finals. I honestly didn't expect that at all, so this was a pleasant surprise.

The finals involved a bag of fingerling potatoes, one sweet potato, 4 duck breasts, and a bag of apples. I actually knew how to cook the duck from our first round, where we had to butcher the duck and cook it, so I think my team had a bit of an advantage (for those curious souls, you're supposed to cook the duck 30 minutes skin down and 1 minute on the other side to get the skin all crispy and the duck pink on the inside). We made a fingerling potato green bean salad, crispy skin duck with apple sauce, and honey and brown sugar glazed sweet potatoes with black sesame seeds. Our salad was pretty plain and the other team did a better job than we did on the potatoes, but apparently our duck was perfect (despite me serving it skin down.... whoops) and we ended up winning. :) It was probably the proudest moment of my entire college career, since usually classes are just frustrating....:P

After the competition, I talked to the organizer person for a bit about molecular gastronomy and he 1. gave me a super fancy book to look at and 2. gave me some chemicals to take home and play with! I took several chemicals back with me in ziploc bags, which actually made me nervous--if the TSA were to check my checked baggage, they might have found some very sketchy looking bags containing white powder. Fortunately, the chemicals are all safe, so some of you may see me doing some experiments in the LMF kitchen in the fall. :)

that's not sketchy at all....

So....that's what I've been up to in the last bit of the summer. I'm just spending this week listening to some good music and doing some work at home in upstate NY before going back to MIT on the 31st. I'm hoping it won't rain much because I already miss the Cali sun, but it already rained today and it's the 2nd day back so that isn't looking so good. I guess I could use some getting-used-to to the east coast weather again before the winter hits.

See you all soon!

-Sumin (or DJ Get Sum in.... my friends are very creative. I hope I didn't just scar frosh with that name)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

i like your sleeves, they're real big

Even though the summer is pretty much over I am still going to write this blog post. I am currently in Hawaii for the first time in my life-- it's pretty sweet. I have also discovered my new life goal which is to be a fat old man who spends most of his time baking in the sunshine on a lawn chair, preferably near the beach. I have started practicing by reading by the pool for hours and hours. But, as Malcolm Gladwell says in Outliers (also Macklemore) you need to do something for 10,000 hours before you are an expert. It is going to be a long road but sometimes you just gotta follow your dreams.

This man is close to enlightenment.

I also got to see some sting rays and loads of other fish while snorkeling. In other vaguely athletic news, I went for a bike ride in California but I fell off my bike and banged up my elbow and my little sister has not stopped mocking me for it which is really not fair because I just got distracted. I never claimed to be good at biking.

Also, my family went to the Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu. It's a really cool place to learn about pacific islander culture from pacific islanders, not only because there are a bunch of cute shirtless boys wandering around/in the trees.

Samoan demonstrating how they get coconuts

Other than that, nothing really exciting has happened to me. I did however start listening to the new singles put out by the Arctic Monkeys which are amazing. I also got a haircut but it pretty much looks exactly the same and no one noticed.

Also- though none of you really know my dad, this is a great pic of him wearing my sister's sarong on his head to protect his scalp from being further sunburned:

See those of you back in Boston soon!! I'll be back on the 25th at some point :).


Sunday, August 18, 2013

jk. sorry!

so when Kolya said that I was going to CT, he was lying. silly bear, but he didn't know any better at the time. neither did I until this past Thursday. He sincerely apologizes. You should probably accept his apology. He is quite persuasive, especially when he tilts his head slightly and pouts.

Anyway, sorry I won't be on the east coast and near you all.  Instead, I'm going to hang out in LA for the next 4 years in med school at USC Keck, so you can come visit me there!

Classes technically started last Monday, so I'm already behind and I haven't even started. Apparently someone showed up for 3 days and then called and said they were leaving. No idea what else happened, but I'm thanking my lucky stars.  It's been a hectic couple days trying to figure out all the paperwork, housing, car, and everything else that most people had the entire summer to finish, but I'm not in any position to complain.

and on that bombshell, I will now end it with a picture of me in a white coat. :D

Thursday, August 15, 2013

This post was written across three continents.

I am currently sitting in Kuwait’s only airport, starting to write up this blogpost. My goal is to finish this before I land in Los Angeles. I think this is a reasonable goal.

There is a massive swarm of 12 year olds wearing matching red shirts who are getting on the same flight. I am mostly intrigued, and a tad scared. I do not like the idea of a 6 hour plane ride surrounded by a mass of children in matching shirts. I would probably file that potential situation under “nightmare fuel.”

I spoke too soon. I am on the plane now, and the redshirts have taken every spot within 5 seats of me. It’s not so bad, though. They’re not nearly as rowdy as I expected. Apparently, they’re all going to the UK as part of a football tour/camp thing, where they tour the stadiums and go watch a few Arsenal games. I am a little envious. One of their counselors is sitting next to me. She seems really nice. If I was a 12 year old on that trip, I would probably have a crush on her (the British accent doesn’t hurt). This is a very amusing thought to have*.

Soon after I sat down at Heathrow, she parked right next me. I LIKE PLANES
I am now waiting in the airport at Heathrow (London). I am quite happy, partly because I had a triple whammy of good-book-discovery, but mostly because I have been reminded of how much I love traveling. The 20+ hours of travel time leave a person pretty exhausted, but it’s definitely worth it. It boggles my mind how much cultural/anthropological significance airports have. If you went back in time and told someone from a few hundred years ago that there were these places that had thousands of people from every part of the world walk through them daily, it would probably boggle their minds too. I have yet to regret striking up a conversation with someone while on the plane or waiting at the airport. Other people have lives, and lives tend to be interesting. I LOVE TRAVELING

It is now 5AM (although my internal clock says otherwise), and my cousin and I are waiting in Logan for our last flight (for a few days, at least).  The plane ride from Heathrow to Boston was pretty fantastic. I happened to sit next to this woman from Luxembourg. I do not often meet people who come from countries that are smaller than mine. Apparently, she was on her way to visit her husband, which made me both happy (she’s going to see her husband!) and sad (she has to take a plane to see her husband). Besides the 2ish hours I spent sleeping, pretty much the rest of that 8 hour flight was spent talking about education and satellites and everything in between.  I never caught her name, though, and that is a little sad. I STILL LOVE TRAVELING

We arrived in LA, dropped our bags off, and wandered around LA in a half-asleep daze, trying very hard to fight the jetlag, accidentally ending up in an In-N-Out along the way. Tomorrow, we are planning on going to some storage area and sorting out my cousin’s stuff, since most of the reason why we’re in LA is to do just that. It is now nighttime, and I’ve gotten 6 hours of sleep over the past 71 hours, so I think I am going to go do that sleep thing**.

We have traveled over 14121km since I started writing up this post, passing through four airports spanning three continents. I think this is cool. Goodnight all. Have some more pictures from Kuwait and elsewhere.

* these last few sentences were noted mentally and typed up later. I did *not* type that up with her sitting next to me. That would be a bit creepy.
**I actually fell asleep halfway through writing that last sentence. Decided to finish it up the way I meant to last night. The irony was too sweet.

Mom wanted to take a picture of our first big breakfast after Ramadan. Najouba decided that she was breakfast.

Baby sister, grandfather, and goat.

Newest addition to the (extended) family!

My uncle likes to take candid photos of us. This one is my favourite.

A cupcake ATM we spotted in LA.

This is Faisal. He drives me places. He is my cousin. A very useful cousin.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

happenings in (mostly) August

I had been meaning to get another blog post up before I head overseas in two days.  I've been getting lax with my camera, however, so this is not going to have many pictures.  In this post: a movie, an achievement, some random stuff, and some very excellent people.

The Movie
Last Saturday I went and saw Disney's Planes with a friend.  I realized the other day that I have seen three movies this summer and all of them have been animated children's films (the others were Monsters University and Despicable Me 2).  Here's the trailer:
From what I gather, Planes is like Cars.  I haven't seen any of the Cars movies, but Planes was clearly going to be cooler for obvious reasons.  I found it incredibly charming.  The premise of the film is a cropduster airplane that wants to race jets with some practice and a lot of willpower - and it's amusing to accept the premise and pretend that's possible and watch Dusty try to win.  It's also very sweet to watch the little airplane romances ("You're very aerodynamic."). 

The Achievement

Better late than never.

I didn't take the boat test.  If someone wants to take the boat test with me I totally will.  I just didn't want to tread water by myself for 10 minutes.

The random stuff
I adopted one of Tim and Sarah's plants, and I named it after the royal baby because I got the plant the day after he was born.  Here is a picture of George getting to know one of Xiaoyue's plants.

In the spirit of doing something productive, I acquired some Sculpey a few weeks ago, and I decided to test it out by making some chess pieces.  I still have 3/4 of the Sculpey I got and I plan to try something more ambitious at a later point of time.  Pictures:

Both the little ball on the queen's crown and the cross on the king fell off and I had to glue them back.
The very excellent people
I went out to dinner with Adam and Alan on Sunday.  We went to Penang, and for both dinner and dessert Adam's food came out ~5-10 minutes after they brought Alan's and mine out simultaneously.  To be fair, we ordered the same thing for dinner, but for dessert we merely ordered similar things.  I had glutinous black rice in coconut milk; Alan had tapioca, yam, and taro in coconut milk.  We tried each others' - Alan's reaction was a very dry "I find yours to be equally pleasing."

I went dress-shopping after dinner and Alan came with.  We encountered a very loquacious lady in the dressing room at Sears.  Afterwards Alan drove me back to WILG.  I must observe to LMF at large that Alan seems to be becoming a real person at an impressive rate. 

Sophie came back today and I had lunch with her and Adam at Cafe Luna.  'twas very good to see them both, and Cafe Luna always has excellent food.  Afterwards Adam came with me to the bank and helped me roll up 600 pennies to get rid of them. =)

That's what I've been up to.  Leaving for Germany in two days. =)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Beginning of the Beginning of an End

I figured it's about time to blog since Laura has asked for more posts.

Here's what the rest of my summer looks like:

August 22: seminar day - I need to give an oral presentation. I'm not sure to whom.
August 24: leaving Caltech to go back home. :( :( :(
August 31: going back to MIT - I think I'm more sad than excited this time, since it'll be my last time going back for classes.

Here's what I've done in the past weekends:

August 10: went to Disneyland
August 3-4: went to Las Vegas with friends from my summer dorm
August 2: went to see Cazzette in Hollywood
July 27-28: visited Adrienne in San Diego

Visiting Adrienne was really relaxing and fun (and involved a slight sunburn...whoops). On Saturday, we walked around La Jolla, which is this nice beach area where Adrienne went to school. There were seals and they were quite smelly, but the waves and rocks were cool. I didn't really know that ocean waves were so huge until this summer. They're both really awesome and slightly frightening (if you're an awful swimmer like I am). Before I left to go back on Sunday, we went to Balboa park, which is a huge park that connects the museums and the zoo. We went to the botanical garden, the rose garden, and a couple other places that were nice and nature-y.

oh hai.
adrienne is cute :)

heh. seals.

made me think of Luis 2

Adrienne is easily amused



And now the other pictures....
Cazzette was so good!

the place had really good lasers :)

blue man group in Vegas!

in the Venetian hotel with my friend Carolyn

mickey mouse apples?

right before the World of Color show. so pretty!