Log in

Happy 50th!

Yesterday was Star Trek's 50th anniversary of it's original airing. I'm just gunna post here something I found right after Nimoy's death. He explains the origin of the Vulcan salute and how he came up with it after recalling his experiences as a young boy in Temple.

I think I'm gunna work on a Trek related UI because I've been a Trekkie since DS9 aired and I'll always be one! I'm rewatching DS9 right now actually. I'm into season 2. DS9 will always be my favorite Trek for the exact reasons dad says it's his least favorite Trek: "It's a melodramatic space opera!" Yeah, I kind of need the drama in any sort of franchise I'm a fan of : ).

Russian Vlog #2

If I continue making these, I'm probably gunna stick to making them in my Commie-tongue because it's just more practical for me to do that... I'm not completely fluent in Russian and it's at least good for me to practice.


Hello friends (this word is no longer used in the Russian vernacular, but I honestly have no idea which word is used and I happen to really love the word "tavarish"). Maybe just to show the two of you (LJ friends who can speak Russian) my strange accent. At one time, I played this computer game and I wrote a lot about it. There were a lot of players from Peru, and a lot from Russia and Ukraine and other Russian-speaking countries. When I played on the European server, sometimes I would talk with them because I'm illiterate because I can only speak (ok, not completely accurate because I can read print slowly). They were very funny because they understood of course that I had an accent, but they could never figure out that it was an American accent and they would always ask me strange questions. Once they thought I was Chinese lol. I dunno do I have a Chinese-Russian accent? Maybe... (I really doubt this, I think that kid was just ignorant).

This is because I came to America when I was 5 years old (closer to 4 and a half) and I'm just grateful that I can speak at all because I know a (Russian) girl who came at the same age and she can't communicate at all in Russian. Her parents made the decision that they would communicate only in English with her and that's how it went. In my case, it's because my mom isn't very good with languages. In school, Russian class was her worst subject so... lol she's not even that great at Russian... she was always an excellent student at math. To this day, I only communicate with her in Russian... and with grandma in Russian because she doesn't speak English at all. The one that's alive... my deceased grandma, she learned English... she started studying it around 60-62 years old... she was like that. My other grandma Zina... she's alive, she's 79 years old and she doesn't speak English.

My mom... well we already live here about 25 years and she can speak the language but it's just easier for her to speak Russian. With my dad, I always communicate in English. That's how it ended up... I speak Russian with my mom, and English with my dad. Not much else for me to talk about... just to show you my strange accent, maybe you'll find it interesting, maybe not. Those Russian boys, they were always super interested. They could never figure out where I was from. They couldn't ever figure out that I had an American accent.

*Actually on a side note, I always thought that was funny, how whenever anyone with an accent would talk with English-Speakers, their accent or where they were from was NEVER mentioned, it was just accepted. With the Russians, it was ALWAYS a strange source of curiosity, they ALWAYS asked me where I was from, why I talked funny, etc. I think it was just very unusual for them to play with a Russian-speaker who wasn't from a Russian-speaking country. If they irritated me, I would just tell them it was none of their business, if they didn't irritate me, sometimes I would tell them I was American or sometimes I didn't tell them at all and they continued to bother me after the game was over and wanted to hit on me/ make friends XD.

First Vlog

Thought I'd try it at least once. I'm transcribing all of this in case someone is interested for the info and doesn't wanna hear me blab for 10 mins. Sorry about the quality. If I do another one, I'll try to work on that...

Hello. I thought I would try doing a video blog... Vlog thing. I actually attempted this from my camera (I meant cellphone) last night and it worked pretty well, it's just that I don't have an SD or a mini SD card on my phone. I've never had one, and maybe because of that it only allows you to do like 5 minute recordings on those things. Sooo I found some free camera (video) software thing, I don't think Windoze comes with a video recorder and so it took me a long time to find this software and the quality really sucks. Maybe not the audio quality, but the video quality is horrid. I dunno. We'll see. Anyway.

So what I wanted to talk about for my first and possibly only Vlog thing is that... I think I probably mentioned maybe a few entries ago recently that I'm starting my second Master's and I did! So surprisingly it was a very fast process because with a lot of schools, UCs or just bigger schools... the application process takes a very long time, but at Sul Ross you can literally apply for the school after the semester officially started. So I managed to get all my paperwork in and my full time job there gives me full tuition reimbursement up to six credits per semester so that's great I get a free Master's education and I'm very excited and it's my favorite subject and one that I've always been best at which is history. I'm doing a second Master's because my ultimate career goal, and I hope to get there some day... I would really like to be the Head of Special Collections. And well... it's one thing that I need. Two things... two Master's with kind of like... I dunno a 45k 50k... and really it requires two Masters. Which is kind of ridiculous but something that I wanna do and I love History... I really like my classes and a least I don't have to pay for it and it's a topic I really enjoy.

So I'm taking two classes. One is 1920s-1945 America, and the other is Jacksonian America and Jacksonian America starts with the Presidency of Andrew Jackson from... I think he became President in 1824 (it was actually 1828) and they call it "Jacksonian America" because he influenced the next bunch of Presidents and that lasted until the early 1840s (actually early 1850s) so that's the time period of those two classes. The 20s to 40s America, I actually know that time period fairly well... they taught it in school really well. The Jacksonian America I don't know and it's just interesting like... the gaps in education in history especially that I notice. In my schools, they never actually taught us the civil war... I find that pretty funny why that's the case. And in some other curriculum they never taught WWI... they taught us that pretty well. And they actually over-taught us WWII. Honestly you start WWII in 8th grade and continue like every freaken year WWII and it's just very tedious so that not the part of the class I'm going to be enjoying that much when I get to it in my class this semester because I'm kind of sick of WWII to be honest.

This weekend I spent a very long time... the entire weekend, I found out that I have this book report... well in college they call it "book review", but basically it's a book report of this book. I really liked it! It's called Only Yesterday, an informal History of the 1920s. And actually I don't typically like history text books that much. But this book is just really really good, it reads like a novel, it doesn't read like a history book so I'm happy that the teacher chose it and actually all of the readings for the class are pretty interesting. The Jacksonian American class there is this thousand page history book that we're reading, it's not as interesting. But the good part is that the professor, he's really really interesting and actually he's teaching both of my classes. The 20s to 45 class is online and that one is kind of interesting. The professor, he's chair of the department... well he's the head of the department (and my adviser!), and he's not into the whole online learning thing.

My (Library Science) Masters was almost entirely online so I know how good online classes go. And he's actually a good professor, but he doesn't take the online thing too seriously like he never put up a Blackboard (online learning system), which is apparently optional for an online class so that's why I was confused. I waited for a couple days to figure out why the class wasn't on Blackboard and I ended up e-mailing people "uhhh I need the syllabus!" and I found out that he just didn't want to use Blackboard so he ended up sending me the syllabus and I found out this book report was due. So that's... whatever. At least you know he's a really, really good in-person professor. I actually got my book report graded... I ended up visiting him today because I had a ... I dunno if you'd call it a "problem", kind of a long story. I really wanna take this Civil War class... I wanna take this Civil War class with someone I know who works in the History Department (as a professor), but also works in the Museum of the Big Bend. The Civil War class... they literally don't teach , at least when I was a student. I was really looking forward to it and it turns out there's some red tape or something where the Professor (Matt) can't teach to grad students so I'm trying to get that sorted out. Hopefully it can work out and I can take the class.

The Jacksonian America... I'm learning a lot. We went over the War of 1812 (last class). It's one of the two "forgotten wars" in history. I think people tend to know more about the war of 1812 than they do the Korean War and that's probably because the Star Spangled Banner made it kind of famous. I knew some about the war, but I learned a whole lot more. Like the Battle of New Orleans was very interesting to me... and it's only a 2 year war but it was quite profound. Actually the United States as a result of it basically ended up annexing Florida so that's how Florida came into the Union amongst other land.

Both of the classes have a 15-20 page term paper. It's kind of an open topic. It seems like for the Jacksonian America I'm gunna be writing about the US-Mexico War and that's also something I don't know a whole lot about and it's gunna help me learn Texas history too because Texas was THE CENTER of the US-Mexico war because Texaco (lol) because Texas didn't wanna be a part of Mexico anymore and for a while it was it's own country so to speak (independent Republic) and then it became annexed by the US. Texas has a very interesting history and Texans are very proud of their history so it should be very interesting to study that for my term paper. It's just... writing papers. If there's anything I know how to do after all of this freaken education but sometimes I'm just a little slow because I wanna do a good job... obviously and I'm actually my goal for the program... and I've never been a 4.0 student and I really hope to and that's gunna be what I aim for. I really want in this program to get a 4.0 by the end... hopefully it will be possible. I think in almost all my history classes I've ever taken I've gotten an A... maybe I'm hoping it will be possible for the program to get all As and I'm hoping it will work out.

Yeah, classes are interesting. Other stuff is going on but it's already been 10 mins and 30s seconds! So yeah... I'll write more about class hopefully at some point. Bye!

Vietnam Part V: Halong Bay

The last part of my trip report from December of Vietnam. After Halong Bay in northeast Vietnam, we traveled to Cambodia for three days.

Part I- Saigon
Part II- Cu-Chi Tunnels and Street Eats
Part III- Hoi-An
Part IV- Hanoi

We did a mini cruise of Halong Bay, a world heritage site with about 900 islets, primarily made of limestone. About 200 of these islets are named.

lots of pics as usual!Collapse )
This comes from a facebook discussion I had this weekend.

As some of you might know, cursive is becoming a dying art. It has been, for the last decade or more, optional to teach it in schools. Most elementary school teachers are not comfortable teaching it to children because they lack the skills themselves.

I'm an archivist, which means that I NEED to know how to read cursive for my job. Historians also must learn it. However, I have never been a fan of it and am overall quite pleased that it's dying out. Arguments in support of it have been the following:

It teaches children to be patient, it teaches children coordination and proper penmanship, and it is faster once you are proficient. However, I think it's safe to assume that the person who argued in favor of it hasn't taught children penmanship before. I have, to 6 year olds who are first learning how to write. Just teaching penmanship and writing in general accomplishes all of this. When I taught kids how to write, some of them (usually the girls) were more talented and accomplished with their writing. The young boys tended to be more impatient and sloppy. It was important to teach the boys that they needed to learn to take their time and learn the letters properly.

As for the quicker part, yeah that's probably true, however is that really a good thing? Once you write faster and faster, your writing becomes more and more illegible. This is the biggest problem I have with cursive. It is a pain in the ass to read! Especially when someone was writing naturally. Short hand simply does NOT have that same problem. Even if someone is a sloppy writer, their writing is generally comprehensible, especially if they know someone else needs to read their handwriting. I can't say the same with cursive.

Some people are disappointed that it's becoming quickly archaic, but I don't anticipate it ever making a comeback.

Poll #2051437 My opinion about cursive

How do I feel about cursive being a dying art?

Good riddance!!
What a shame. What has the education system come to?
I don't really care either way.

Vietnam Part III: Hoi-An

Part I- Saigon
Part II- Cu-Chi Tunnels and Street Eats

We left Saigon and headed North to Hoi-An in Central Vietnam. It is a very interesting part of the country which is very multi-cultural. It's known for being a world heritage site mostly because it has many Chinese temples that are several hundred years old.

many pictures againCollapse )

Next book discussion

I wanted to start up the discussion for next month's book club. Unfortunately it doesn't look like we'll be able to start up next week like I'd want, so I'm hoping to start the book in the second week of February. Looks like it's my turn to pick, so I'll give a few options. I'll finish up my thoughts on Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet within the next couple days.

1.Three Body Problem-

I read over half of this book recently, and then promptly lost it in Vietnam. The sucky part was that it was a library book, the good part is eventually I got someone to lower my fine by 20 bucks.

I love this book and intend to finish the series within the next couple months. My dad says the translation is "wooden", but I don't know, I didn't get that impression. I think it feels that way to him because he only does audio books.

2. Lilith's Brood-

I'm ok with starting with the first book in the series (it's under 300 pages I believe) and just doing that for now. I read half of this back in 2008 when I was staying over at a friend's house. I really loved it and never got around to finishing it.

3. Dune

I am somewhat hesitant to throw that out there, but it's an option. I feel like because I'm such a fan of sci fi, I should give this book a chance. I want to at least read the first book.

Also anyone considering joining us, please feel free to chime in!
The short guy with the page boy haircut, the tall guy with the jewfro. The singer-song writer, and the guy who's name and image may invoke all sorts of silly and perverted meanings.

Paul and Art, or Simon and Garfunkel, met while they were kids living in Queens. Paul noticed Art for the first time singing in a talent show in fourth grade. He hoped they would be friends because he thought singing was a good way to attract girls. This did happen when they appeared in a school production of "Alice in Wonderland" together in 6th grade and soon began performing as a duo in school dances.

By fifteen they had a recording contract and even a top 50 hit as Tom (Art) & Jerry (Paul)

Their one and only album

They focused on education and unsuccessful solo careers for a time until they reconvened in 1963, around the time when Paul took an interest in folk music, to record an unsuccessful album as a duo called Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.. Paul moved to England for a few years, and Art pursued a Master's in Mathematics. Unbeknownst to either of them, star producer Tom Wilson was so impressed with a particular song called "Sounds of Silence", especially with its growing popularity on college radio stations, that he decided to take creative liberties with the song, overdubbing it with an electric bass line and drums. When Paul initially listened to the new version in England, he was "horrified", but by then the song had become such a hit that he moved back to the US quickly to capitalize on its success with Art.

I actually don't know which version I like better, but this is the original without the electric instrumentation added, the one seldom played on the airwaves.

Their previously unsuccessful studio album added the folk-rock version of "Sounds of Silence" and became a huge hit as well. The duo were involved in a flurry of activity, including working on "The Graduate" with Dustin Hoffman, until their final album Bridge Over Troubled Water released in 1970. As the Simon & Garfunkel duo, the pair recorded five albums in 6 years (1964-1970) and decided to call it splits because recording the highly successful Bridge Over Troubled Water had put a strain on their friendship.

The duo went their separate ways, Paul having a successful solo career, Art fading away for a period of about 15 years due to depression from his long time girlfriend committing suicide, and later father dying. Simon has always been the more famous of the duo. He is the singer-song writer, he has had a successful solo career. He's responsible for some of the most amazing lyrics in the history of music. He's also known as being an asshat to Art.

When they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, Art thanked Paul for being "the person who most enriched my life by putting those songs through me." Paul replied with "Arthur and I agree about almost nothing. But it's true, I have enriched his life quite a bit."

Despite the many years of hurt feelings and disagreements, the duo have reunited many times to perform for various shows and events. Perhaps one of the best known times was for the Free Concert in New York City in 1981:

That particular performance is very special because there is a very noticeable mistake in the beginning which adds to its charm. Is it Art not coming in at the right time, or is it Art coming in exactly on time, but not noticing that Paul has prolonged the next phrase to wait for the audience applause to die down? Regardless, this performance is incredibly well known and well-loved.

As of now, "The Boxer" is my second favorite Simon and Garfunkel hit. The song is said to be autobiographical in the sense that Paul was writing about criticism he was receiving during that time period. It tells the story of a poor young man moving to New York City and dealing with the harsh realities of poverty. It also tells the story of a Boxer who (presumably) the protagonist sees on the corner.

Until about a year ago when I began my "classic rock education" in earnest which started from a coworker quizzing me daily about the songs we'd hear on the radio at work while I'd jot them down in a notebook, I was only familiar with Simon & Garfunkel's work on "The Graduate". I don't think I'd ever heard "Sounds of Silence" , much less "The Boxer". My "education" has culminated with a six-page excel spreadsheet which I study and update regularly, continuing to add to my knowledge and appreciation for my musical tastes (primarily classic rock and New Wave). I continue to learn more and more every day. While researching for this entry, I learned that Simon & Garfunkel were responsible for Hazy Shade of Winter, which is much more well known as being a Bangles cover. Who'd have thought that version wasn't the original? Well, I should have known considering I do know the Bangles didn't write any of their music.

I appreciate Paul and Art not only for their immense contribution to the folk-rock movement, but also for their ability to put aside hurt feelings and their egos to perform as a duo for the fans at least at certain times. Their last performance was in 2010 and Art is eager to tour again. The years of smoking have taken a toll on Art's voice, which many argue was the better of the two. The resulting cancellations from Art's vocal chord problems in the early 2010s yet again put them into poor relations. I hope we can see another reunion in the future, but at least we know from past experiences that it is likely to happen some day because the fighters still remain.

LJ Idol Week 6: Ovarian Punch

It is said that the 5 year survival rate for Ovarian cancer is 45%, for breast cancer it's closer to 90%. The symptoms for the disease rarely come about early and it is very hard to detect in the early stages. Usually women will feel persistent abdominal pain at one point, but by then it's the later stages of the disease. Barack Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, died from the illness at 52 years old. She is said to be the inspiration behind his unwavering commitment to reform the healthcare system.

I remember my mother. She was 52 years old when she died of ovarian cancer, and you know what she was thinking about in the last months of her life? She wasn't thinking about getting well. She wasn't thinking about coming to terms with her own mortality. She had been diagnosed just as she was transitioning between jobs. And she wasn't sure whether insurance was going to cover the medical expenses because they might consider this a preexisting condition. I remember just being heartbroken, seeing her struggle through the paperwork and the medical bills and the insurance forms. So, I have seen what it's like when somebody you love is suffering because of a broken health care system. And it's wrong. It's not who we are as a people.

Masae wasn't even in her 50s. She was only in her late 30s when she succumbed to the illness. I met her when I first started teaching English in Japan. She was one of the Japanese staff at the private English Academy I taught at for about a year and a half. She had started shortly before I had, and I will always remember her incredible positivity. Sometimes fellow teachers complained about difficult classes, she had some difficult classes of her own. She never had anything negative to say. She would always encourage me with her "ganbatte ne!". I got to know her a little better every Monday when she and I had a lot of downtime at a remote office. She was studying for an English proficiency exam, and we'd chat a lot. She was thin, tall , and pretty. I commented on her height once, she was tall for a Japanese woman, being about 170cm (5'8). In middle school she would hunch over because she felt insecure about her height. She would always join us for onsen nights where my fellow female co-teacher would go to the Japanese bath house. She was amused by my childish antics of wanting to make a typhoon or a tsunami in the empty bath.

When she was first diagnosed, the doctors didn't want to take an aggressive form to the treatment because they wanted to attempt to preserve her fertility since she was still young. It didn't work and the cancer spread. I don't know how long she struggled with the illness, but at one point in late 2012, after I'd left Japan for about four years, we were encouraged to leave our goodbyes suddenly. We were all shocked by this information and disappointed most of us had moved back to our respected countries so we couldn't see her in person. We sent her boyfriend our goodbyes by e-mail, which he read to her during her last days, however by then she wasn't completely mentally present. We posted eulogies which were read and translated to her parents during her funeral.

Sadly, this is the only picture I have of her. We were hanging out in the nearby Izakaya (like a Japanese-style pub) when my boyfriend came for a visit

 photo IMGP2932.jpg
She's between me and Ken, another fellow co-worker.

Whenever we get married, my boyfriend only wants to go to Japan for a honeymoon. I might be going back sooner than I expected. Just a few days ago, my fellow coteacher and good friend, Dana stopped by for a few days on her way to New Zealand. She messaged me on the train as she was arriving. "It's going to be hard not having Masae there : (". Masae was someone who sat with her for a few hours at a diner when Dana needed guidance from a friend. It'll be hard for me too. I always expected to see her the next time I would visit Japan. We miss you, Ma-chan!
During the second full day in Vietnam, we visited the Cu-Chi Tunnels (Viet Cong tunnel system) and had a street eats tour.

Lots more pictures!Collapse )