Friday, July 17, 2009

food blog love

christine submitted a picture of her dumplings and the green tea ice cream pic to tastespotting and recently there have been hundreds of hits on cooking to procrastinate. this morning, someone also asked about using some of our pics in her personal food blog - joyce chao. and christine said to her in the reply that they were my photographs and i should be the one to give permission, and that sounded a bit strange but really cool. people are going to use my photographs on their blogs? hehehehe :-D now about posting that serbia album.......

summer hobbies

when the sun is out in boston it just evokes a desire to do and create things. i have a seasonal set of hobbies that come and go with the nice weather. well, they dont really go, but in winter usually i'm just not interested in doing much so they mostly manifest around now.

i've started a fishtank again - it's a 15 gallon with a glass top. there are two whisper filters in it but their motor is finnickey so i went and bought a new 20i today. i'd forgotten how much the aquarium hobby far, it's been:

aquarium on craigslist - $35
lamp hood - $32
filter - $21
need filter cartridges - $15
need full spectrum lamp bulb - $15
need heater - $15
fish food - $4
2 plants - $10
plant substrate gravel - $17

and of course, since the sun is out my garden is in full bloom. well, by full bloom i mean the wild tomato plants that grew by themselves are tall and spindly and have small fruit on them. the potatoes that were sitting on my counter for a month before i planted them are sprouting in the backyard amongst the weeds. my flower garden (lilies, morning glory, and gladiolus) are kind of growing. mainly the weeds are doing great!

i also have a few herbs that actually survived seedling stage, and i'm thinking about making guac tonight so i'll have to harvest my cilantro. problem is i came in to the office today and the plants are all down and almost withered. maybe i forgot to water, but i hope they're not dead. this herb gardening thing isn't going to well.

the last thing i always want to do during the summer is work on bikes. i've got about three frames and partial bikes in my basement, and so far all i've managed to do is remove the ball bearings from the wheel hubs and not get them back in. but if there was a source of broken/cheap bikes around here other than the annual MIT police bike auction, i'd totally buy more and fix them and sell them...or just have them sit in my basement.

so i either need to get a bike repair thing going, or actually do something with my photography, in order to get a side income to feed my aquarium money sink.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

getting around to media

i have a ton of media from serbia. literally about 4 gb a day for 6 days. i blame the size of raw video, the large resolution of my camera (2144x1600 is the min) and my trigger finger in the high speed photo mode. i'll slowly sift through them and upload a gallery very soon. meanwhile, i had to do some work for the food blog (cooking to procrastinate) so i finally took pictures of some recent things, like the ice cream, but now i'm stuck with two delicious scoops. what to do?

Friday, July 10, 2009

back in the states

it's good to be home and there are several comforts that i have missed. one is running drinkable tap water. two is the availability of wall plugs without having to use converters. three, laundry. more thoughts may or may not come, but all in all it was a fun trip, but tiring. of course, we ended up at cw coming straight from the airport and kicked for the remaining 30 minutes of cw practice.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

the universiade trading market, and team usa

after competition, there is a second aspect to the universiade games. and that is the huge amount of trading that happens between countries. all kinds of things that represent your country are traded. first, we traded pins - the US had few pins to begin with, basically only the ones that alicia and i bought from target for $1 for five. during opening ceremonies, we went around and traded some, but more and more people would come up and ask for your pins during the taekwondo, during lunch, just while you're walking. trading pins helps overcome all language barriers and fears of talking with foreigners. after a few tries, we became adept at lifing our credentials (where the pins are kept), pointing to the other person's pins, and motioning for a trade.

Later, as we got over the need to wear certain outfits (red polo, blue shorts on monday, blue polo, red shorts on tuesday, blue shorts, white tshirt on wednesday, etc) we were able to start trading our other USA gear. I had my eyes set on korea, thailand, and brasil, but other countries like vietnam, chinese taipei, and china were also game. unfortunately, the super nice korean athletic shirts where in high demand and low supply. i managed to get a thailand shirt for my white polo, and a vietnam shirt for my red polo. i went to chinese taipei and china and spoke chinese - it's way easier to get them to think about trading than to approach in english. in the same way, anthony had an easier way to communicate with the koreans. unfortunately i couldn't get a taipei shirt but he did, as well as a korean shirt. later, i also got conflicting information about my chinese - china's women poomse team thought i was taiwanese because of my accent, but a few guys alicia and i talked to said that our chinese was really good.

so every day i've been going out with my USA hat, USA shorts, team tshirt, blue polo, and extra tshirts inside my bag and looking for people to trade with. sometimes i felt like a street hawker, carrying my wares on my shirt and displaying it to everyone who is sitting outside their dorms. sometimes another street hawker would meet me, looking to trade a portugal shirt or hat. i'm still looking for the elusive china jersey, and maybe tomorrow i can close the deal.

also, tonight we went to see the USA men's basketball team compete with the Serbian team and a large, hostile home crowd. The USA did have a small cheering section - the US taekwondo team and the women's basketball team led cheers from the "athlete's section" behind the goal - the best seats i've EVER had at a basketball game. when we entered the stadium, it was like we were the actual team, emerging from under the stands to the court itself. and looking up at the stands to see waves of serbian fans cheering for their home team and against the US was daunting, but incredibly exciting. we hoped for an upset victory - to defeat the more popular team is the dream of every underdog. each cheer we led was filled with all of our heart. the serbian crowd would roar when USA had the ball - it was such a loud racket that you couldn't hear anything, except, strangely, your own heart beating. in the last 30 seconds, the US had the ball and a 1 point lead, and was fouled. everyone jumped to the front of the stands - one ball missed, another bounced out, but was rebounded and the US was fouled again. during the second chance, the US player missed both foul shots again, and the ball was rebounded and US was fouled. Finally, on the third attempt one shot was made, and at this time i stopped watching the game and started watching the crowd, and serbia could not get a goal in the last 5.3 seconds. we cheered our way out of the stadium with a large police escort under the glaring eyes of thousands of angry serbs.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

what i did in summer vacation

serbia has been a huge learning experience. i've had a bunch of things that i've accomplished, and so many that i haven't. some of these were real goals - some were other stupid things that i wanted to do just to make myself a better person.

poomse competition at an international competition. (duh)
exchanged pins with people who don't speak english
gotten to know some people (anees, kris, stefan my roommate) better
reach a new level of photography (filling up a whole memory card)
getting random pictures with people (korean spectators, mexican player)

missteps: (mostly involving social aspects)
fucking talk to a french person in french, with mon accent americain (i'm such a wuss)
not have things lost or stolen (rain jacket and black belt)
get a picture with the peru poomse and sparring people
get more pins
get a koala pin/token - i thought the aussies were really only giving it to cute girls

other bonus events:
drinking a beer in broad daylight, in the mall, and drinking wine with the korean masters at the food court. as one serb said, "here, you do anything you want in public."

Thursday, July 2, 2009

achievement and regret

our poomse competition has ended. right at this moment, i feel both relieved and sad. it's definitely been an exciting trip, and i've learned so much, as cliche as that is. i've felt that both my general taekwondo (paddle kicking, speed, etc) and my poomse have improved, and i may have even lost weight. just watching people warm up in the taekwondo arena has slowly increased the power and height of my sidekick. because without improving, it would have been impossible to stand up on the world stage with all of its world class athletes.

after the competition there is always a bit of regret, and perhaps anger. what if something had gone a little better? what if this was different, or that didn't happen, what if we'd just had a bit more time to gather ourselves? why weren't certain people there, and would it have even made a difference? there's blame put on the judges, as if the scores immediately following our performance were outrageously higher than they deserved, and ours were unreasonably low. but looking at the big picture, none of that would have mattered because the winners were still clear winners, and we still have much to accomplish to reach that goal. but i did realize one thing, that collegiate poomse is still within my age limit for 2011, so i will be looking forward to that.

i'm grateful that this competition will be going on for another several days. now i can relax a bit, and really try to get the most out of the opportunities here. i can not only cash in on all the taekwondo experiences, but also the many other sports here. watching the opening ceremonies, and reading the daily papers on the games, you realize that taekwondo is a small world - a comfortable and familiar one - and that the world of sports, and the sports at the world level, offer so many more new things to explore.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

day three thoughts

most of the details for day three, competition day 1, are at the mit sport tkd blog:

just a few more personal thoughts from today.

each time as the iranian team competed, they kept changing with a lot of vigor, Iran! Iran! Iran! I could almost imagine the same youths in the streets protesting the election. i almost wanted to chat with them about current events but i wasnt sure how political they wanted to be at this time and place, or which side they were on and whether talk would be taboo.

i also got my back adjusted today. my lower back cramp has been pretty severe for a few weeks now and i've gotten a lot of massage done on it. but with our doctor, she did a bunch of muscle work, and also did some adjusting to my spine. it was like being completely compressed under a pincer until the air bubbles in your popped. but it did feel pretty good.

just to get a sense of the facebook phenomenon, or perhaps the facebook scourge. stefan webb and i were waiting in the computer lounge where they provide a bunch of computers for people to use if they needed. it was a long wait, and people were standing around waiting for other people to finish whatever they were doing. and i looked around and every single person, except for one, was on facebook - people from spain, italy, switzerland, etc etc. one person was on some other social networking website that looked like facebook.