Saturday, July 31, 2010

Licky again, and my face

Instead of our day trip, we ended up playing with Licky and had lunch at OTH instead. We also walked out of Cafe Italia after ~10 minutes or more because Hanayo was feeling very ill. I didn't mind at all though. Hanayo's been a good friend over the years, can't possibly get angry at her even if she destroys my field cages. Hahaha.
Good thing Hanayo was feeling better by then. Else, Licky would probably be unhappy being puked at =)
One of my favourite shirts. Coincidentally, matches the real snake.

 Hanayo took pics of me looking into the camera but I am not going to upload them. Looking at my pics, I seriously wonder how people can mistake me for 22 year olds or even 20? I look so old lah!! Sigh.

I had a haircut a few days ago. It was quite on impulse. My hair is also thinning, so I was considering cutting it all off and be done with it. I just walked into a decent looking saloon and sat down. The hairstylist, David, refused to shave my head. In fact, his face was one of disgust and disbelief when I told him what I had in mind, and if he shook his head any stronger he might break his neck. He patted my shoulder and told me in a as kind a voice as he could "I will help you".

Hahahahha...I almost burst out laughing then.

Then he told me what he had in mind, his plan, and it sounded fine to me. Rationally, it made sense. I can't imagine how it would look, but the rationale behind his design was sound. He went to work on my hair for like 25 minutes or more.

I was really happy with his work. I definitely looked younger and sharper when he finished. Of course, back home later I couldn't redo what he did with my hair (always the case!), but it was still good. Biking back from David's, I noticed several girls glancing at me. Was it the hair...or how I felt after the haircut?

Anyway, I told my new buddy Derek, whom I play Warhammer Online with that my pictures do me little justice. I look way better than my pics. Hahaha. To be frank, I think I am just in self-denial ;).

Mirror, and sudden new thrill

I just read a blogpost that was full of anger and many things foul, the writer hurling accusations at another person. The writer even made a list. I read that post several times, carefully decoding the emotions and intentions behind it. In the end, I felt sorry for the writer. There are two main reasons for that, and I would like to share them with you guys, since it is a big part of life, me think.

1. The more negative we are at others, the more negative we are to ourselves too.
--Simply put, nobody feels good when they are angry or disappointed or sad. The more flaws you see in others, the worse your world becomes. Negativity doesn't lead to improvement and good, and it certainly won't make us better people with better lives.

2. Accusing others of so many bad things, yet what about a list of your own?
--To be honest, for most part of the list the writer wrote, I could have mistaken it for a list targeted at the writer himself. I find it ironic how the writer fails to see more than a few similarities between his accused and himself. Therefore, always self-criticize first, always look into yourself first, before staring at others.

Actually, more importantly, don't just look at others' or your own shortcomings--look at the good, the strong, the positive points.

And now for something completely different, I am going on a trip today and suddenly I am washed by a new thrill of romance. No idea why. Suddenly. Looking forward to it. Letting my past go bit by bit.

Edited: the end, we didn't make the trip. She wasn't feeling well and ended up resting at my place. Oh well, staying at home to plan for my mom's visit =).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Common scenes outside my apartment

I so like the way the sunlight dances on this flower...or bunch of flowers. *Excuse my elementary botany*.
I don't like this flower, but it's very prominent outside my house. Can't really say why I don't like it...too plain, maybe? Plain, without a personality!
I have no idea whose toy bike this belongs to, but it changes location almost daily. Somebody (or something..?) must be playing with it. I am tempted to give it a try too =).
Mushrooms remind me of three things: 1. Don't judge by appearance; 2. You are never alone; 3. Hold firm when situation is grim, and act fast when resources bloom.

Somethings I learned, that need no pictures :)

Some cultures or religions don't allow dating per se. The two individuals involved can do very little personal pre-marriage assessment of the significant other.

Although my world isn't as stringent, it's similar in some sense. For one, I cannot, just cannot, engage in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship if I don't already see a life-long relationship between us. In other words, in my tiny mind, girlfriend = wife. I am not that naive to think that everything will work out great from the first date we actually marry (and onwards). On the contrary, my realistic self expects all sorts of trouble and conflicts from Day One (i.e., I have never, and never expected to, experienced a 'honeymoon period') that my idealistic and determined self is prepared to overcome and accept. The perseverance grows from my belief that these feelings, if not this relationship, will last till I die, technically forever.

And so it follows that I have not thought of a 'second girlfriend'. There would only be One, and if that One can't work, the rest is just as likely to fail. Every possible combination of couple has conflicts--there is no the Right One that is waiting for me. Anyone I meet can be my Right One, just a matter of whether we both share the same goal for our relationship. I am not eager to give up one relationship due to incompatibilities simply because all my other subsequent relationships will have issues too. There's no end to these conflicting relationships. The end comes only when I believe in it and stick through it.

I had believed that Love is the most essential ingredient. If there is Love and it is potent, then mountains will break and oceans will part just for you. I also believed that Love grows the more you know somebody, never diminishes.

Yet, despite all my positive outlook, my first relationship ended.

I am one who bare myself naked before my loved ones--my bad, my good, my past and current, nothing's to be hidden. In this world, this attitude may bring me much heartache and disappointment. Fortunately, I have learned something very very valuable from the terrible ending of my first relationship:
-Don't expect anything. Don't even expect understanding and appreciation from those whom you have lived for. People all turn selfish at one point or another, and I better be ready for the change with a mind and heart of smiles. Every slap to the face that I returned with a smile, I become a better person.

Another thing I learned:
-It's possible to like someone more when you see that person crying over someone else. It's possible to want their relationship to work so that that person can be happy, albeit not with you.

Another thing I learned:
- Compassion wins over selfish love. Selfish love is love with expected returns. Compassion is loving without discrimination, giving without receiving. Along the same vein, I've learned that it's better for me to spend 1 hour loving a class of 15 than to spend 15 hours loving one person.

I am not claiming to live by these lessons now. I am aiming to live by what I have just learned above. I hope you guys (most of you who read my blog knows me very well) gain something from my lessons too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

There's a forest out there

I hosted a backpacker (friend of friend's friend, i.e. I knew her not before) from Switzerland about a month ago. She stayed with me for 3 nights. Her sudden and unexpected visit from Switzerland brought much joy into my life during a period when I was quite down. She was a gush of fresh air, a walking christmas tree of smiles and the twinkles in her eyes never seemed to cease.

Most importantly, her presence reminded me that out there are many many opportunities, many many potentials. I was focused on just one, and it blinded me to all the other wonderful possibilities.

I am very glad that this sudden and unexpected visitor from Switzerland came into my life, albeit for only a few days.

Monday, July 26, 2010


I haven't cooked meat for myself since I got to Davis.
*Since this change of habit coincides with my Ph.D. career, I hope that the good karma will promise me a good ending to my Ph.D. life.*

Here is one good example of my home-cooked meals.

I have recently made it a point to include tofu in every of my home-cooked meals. You see, I am trying to get more to build more muscles and meat.

YingYng sent me a website detailing how soy products have phyto-estrogen that will give men feminine physical traits. My response? ---I will worry about my breasts AFTER I am actually developing enough meat to have breasts.

A new housemate

I live alone in my new apartment now. However, a couple of weeks ago, Licky moved in with me. He will be staying with me until mid-August.

A 2-year old, male boa contrictor, Licky is extremely tame and cool. Cool, in the temperature sense :). When he gets hungry, he starts moving around the cage, constantly reaching up to find a way out. One day when I returned home, I saw (to my horror) that the top of his cage was pushed open. Luckily he didn't slide into the sofa (for it would have taken ages to get him out). Instead he cooperatively went into my bathroom.
Licky clearing the landscape in my bathroom

I fed Licky last week. I had to buy him a frozen 'medium' rat which I thawed and then put beside Licky in his feeding box.
Licky, and YumYum the rat.

Zain was there with me to witness the spectacular feeding. It turned out to be less spectacular than we expected. First, Licky took >45 minutes to start swallowing YumYum; Second, Licky worked relentlessly at YumYum's neck instead of its head, which we knew was a doomed effort.
Licky contricting and trying VERY HARD to swallow YumYum from the neck
These snakes deserve their reputation of swallowing huge prey. Look at how wide his jaws opened! He still couldn't take YumYum from the neck down though :).

After 45 minutes, Zain had to leave for work and I had to cook my own dinner. So I told Zain to return later, confident that Licky would still be necking YumYum. I began my cooking, and 10 minutes later...I saw only YumYum's tail sticking out of Licky's jaws.

Licky had a mischievous and proud glint in his eyes.

What remains of YumYum. No, you can't see Licky's head here.

A day after Licky fed, he began to move about his cage again. I think he is still hungry. Another spectacular feeding will take place this week...and Zain will come 40 minutes after.

Field Experiment

One of my greatest pleasures of doing research is going into the field and toil under the sun. The feeling of sweat evaporating off my skin while I observe insects or sticking poles into the ground is plainly enjoyable to me.

Of course, many things go awry in the field. Sometimes hours or even weeks of hardwork can be undone in minutes due to unforeseen mishaps OR just stupidity on my part (hahaha). For example, this summer California experienced a cool start to the summer months, effectively delaying summer agriculture by weeks and my own field work by one whole month! This in a year when I am rushing to wrap up by the end of summer...grrr. Cool weather aside, there were a few days of strong winds. VERY STRONG. Strong enough to justify a state warning.

Then again, who gives a damn about state warnings? Look what the winds did to my cages :(
Top of cage torn open

Oh...but that wasn't the worst. Look at this! I laughed loud when I saw the four poles sticking out of the ground, looking so pathetic and naked.
Where did my cage go?! Damn wind...
So...what was the cause for this undoing of our hard work taken to install these cages into the ground? The winds? Nope. Soft ground? Nope. Our fault? Yes. You see, I designed these cages to withstand strong winds. I am convinced that it would take a hurricane to blow these cages off, if they were installed correctly. The problem we had was that we didn't seal every cage tightly. A small crack that allows wind to blow in will cause the cage to catch more wind, enlarge the crack and soon the whole cage will be catching the full force of the wind like an open sail in a storm.

Nevertheless, my frustration lasted only a couple of hours before I was laughing at the whole (acci)incident. I contacted my trusty group of farmhands and gave them another 3 days worth of pay to dig up all the cages and reinstall them five rows down (because other than the wind damage, the plants within the cages also didn't grow as intended). My farm friends were laughing at the cages too and we had another jolly few days together reinstalling the cages that we built just two weeks before.

Also, here's a picture of three of the five members in my research team this year. An interesting bunch, no? Hahahhaha.
Tierra, Michael, Lucinda

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Two--all of it was just a lie

 Crystals, or just ice. Cold. Gone in moments.

To anybody coming up, either in terms of age or experience, those who had already walked far often say the following: "Don't lose sight of your target. Work for it, and in the end you will get it!" , or slightly more realistically "Work for it, and even if you don't get it in the end, you will have no regrets. It's the journey that matters most!".

I have said the same to many others, and I myself have lived by it.
Now, as that which I have worked so hard for over years taken from me so suddenly and in so cold a manner, I began to doubt the sense of it all. This deep, endless dread which I have to battle every morning, which haunts me throughout the day and pricks my mind even as I try to sleep--this heavy heavy weight I cannot throw aside, makes me doubt if the journey is really what matters most, and if I can live without regrets.

I wonder, if it's all just a big big lie.
A lie that everyone knows but acts as if it's not there.
A lie that's more obvious than an elephant in a room because it's written on everybody's face.
A lie that's been around since our first desire.

In the end, it's not the journey that matters?
It's this second, this very current moment that matters.
I am in pain, and there's nothing I have done in the past that can alleviate the hurt;
I am happy, and nothing in the future can take this joy from me now;
I am lost, and there is no light at all.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

One* --the purpose of it all

Some insects live for a week, some only a day. Some, like the cicada, live for many years but spend almost all that time in partial dormancy, bursting out for only a few days or hours to experience the colors of life.

Yet for each of them, no matter the length of their lives, they have the chance to live and feel before death. A lifetime is a lifetime--seconds or years, it matters not, does it? For many parasitic wasps, they have so much to do in a day's time that before they know it, they have expended all their energy and life is ending. For the long-living turtles, they allocate their activities over years and in the end, death comes too. The wasps know not the meaning of time beyond days, and the turtles cannot understand the significance of centuries. I think that because they don't recognize the alternatives (days vs years vs centuries), they don't feel any loss or despair at not being to live longer. If they do, then they are foolish to waste their precious time away in a lamentation. Ironic that many of us yearn for more time instead of making the most of our available time.

How are we supposed to make the most of our time? By being always happy? By making others happy? By saving the lives of millions or winning their admiration? By piling up riches uncountable? The list goes on. Everyone has a different answer because everyone has a different purpose in life. The only thing in common is that anyone who recognizes his/her purpose and works toward it will have made the most of his/her time. To actually achieve the purpose is...I would say, extra icing.  

*first of a series of sentimental/emotional posts. My life has taken on a very different tempo lately due to factors that are some unforeseen and some expected. My mood...more correctly 'my moods'...are fluctuating, changing almost daily. Somehow, this has led me to develop a new sense of purpose and new perspectives. This series try to capture this change.*