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Published: November 13th 2011
Howdy everyone. I know I’m not done playing catch up but I also want to get back into the habit of doing weekly blogs. Well, Let’s a-go!
I spent the day being a studious student (alliteration > redundancy), reviewing for a Chinese quiz the next day and working on a “cheat sheet” for my Computational Linguistic Midterm Tuesday (it’s an open note test – hence the quotation marks). I was happy to have such a productive day, and couldn’t wait to rock socks tomorrow. Also, I started a work out schedule for myself, which I’m proud to say I’ve been sticking to. Grant it, it’s a very easy and quick workout, but it’s more than I was getting before. I just do as many push-ups, sit-ups, squats, dips, and calf raises as I can and a 60 second bridge. Aww-yeah, Jay better watch his freakin’ back.
And then something bad happened. Ben came back into the room and I got hit with the shocking news that he and his boyfriend broke up. Now this was not completely out of the blue because jerk-wad ex, Matt (and btw I’m probably be going to use a lot of edits here because cursing isn’t allowed on the blogging website, but if you are of age, please insert proper curse words where silly TV edits have been written) hadn’t talked to him in a week when before they were talking almost every day. However, the idiot went to a scholarship meeting for a scholarship Ben helped him get (that’s a full ride while abroad) so that he can study abroad here at NTU with the rest of us second semester, and met another dude who’s going to a different country next semester and decided that he didn’t want to deal with the long distance anymore and have fun with the guy who will be leaving in 2.5 months. Jerk-wad Mc-*add insult here*. Furthermore, the guy was pulling those mind games where he wasn’t trying to leave hope and optimism for when he came to Taiwan about them. I made sure Ben was having none of that and basically told him that he needs to be fully isolated from Matt when he comes to NTU. Ben has handled everything pretty well, and I think talking everything through helped a lot. Also, it should be a lot of fun when Matt comes to Taiwan *cracks knuckles menacingly*
Well so much for my quiz. For the second night (this happened last Thursday night as well) in a week, the mosquito infestation in my room kept me up till 4 in the morning. I have to say, I might have had the same problem in Beijing, but there was only one night in Beijing where they kept me up to an ungodly hour – and that was in a two-month period. This isn’t even close to the second time this has ever happened, but it’s generally more spaced out – like once a week. So I managed to totally miss my alarm and both of my classes and wake up around 2. Awesome. Luckily I can get the notes from friends for my Chinese Philosophy class. So after I woke up, I basically spent the rest of the day with what felt kind of like a mild hangover (despite me not drinking since Friday night) and finished my cheat sheet for the Comp Ling class.
Guess what happened again! Yup. Mosquitos. Till 4 am. Again. So guess who missed Chinese. Again. (Very lucky my teacher is super chill.) Luckily Comp Ling is my only afternoon class this year (Why? Why can’t they all be in the afternoon?) so I woke up in time to eat a quick bite and get over there. And that exam … was in my top 5 hardest exams I’ve ever taken. Seriously, I don’t think I got above a 55. However, neither did anyone else in the exam (save one French Canadian who I have no idea if he did everything and bounced early, or just didn’t care and bounced early – I’m betting on the latter). The first question (out of 5) was easy, the next one was a pain, but I more or less got it (I couldn’t get the program to run, but I talked to Taco, my TA, afterwards and she said that the way my program was acting up was really strange, so I’ll lose a point at most). And then the last question, I was running out of time, so I got sneaky. The question was to create a program to turn any word into Pig Latin. If I had done something standard, it would have had the program discover the first consonant cluster, and move it behind the word and then add an “-ay” to the end. However, in my time crunch, I came to the realization that if someone was typing a word in, they should know what a consonant/consonant cluster is. Thus I made the program so that the person had to type in the initial consonant cluster as one variable and the rest of the word as the second variable, which then makes it super easy to switch the order up and add an “-ay” at the end. Taco also approved of this (though I don’t think I’ll get full credit – but I should only miss a point or two). However question 3 and 4 no one got. Seriously, I talked with the whole class and no one got this (worth 40% of the test btw). The problem was that the questions wanted us to access full corpuses (collections of texts in basic terms) for the questions, but we had only been taught how to access specific texts or words within a corpus, and thus none of us had a clue how to access the texts as a whole (nor did any of us find anything within our textbooks). So despite a bad test score, I did just about as well as everyone else, and I’ve gotten A+’s on all my homework, so I’m not super worried. Though I felt bad cause my friend Jorane (French btw) was none too thrilled. But life goes on.
I then started my Tuesday dinners with Jason and Sylvia. I met them at the metro station a stop away from NTU campus and we walked around a bit. The area was really lively and I learned that NTU’s campus is really close to Taiwan Normal University. We walked around a bit, and went through to see a small food market – which was cool, and then saw some chickens that if we had ordered them to, would have been decapitated right in front of us. I wasn’t supper bothered by this concept (Sorry chickens, but you’re too tasty) but it’s something you don’t see in the States. We then walked around a bit and then went to a Korean restaurant. Oh Korean food, how my tummy loves you. But before we ordered, Jason pulled out a new fruit for me to try. While I generally don’t like most fruits, I also have a pretty strict “Don’t knock it till you try it” policy (that being said, I’m never down to eat bugs. Or scorpions, which if I had looked around, I could have found in Beijing – but for some reason I didn’t sink a lot of effort into finding them). And amazingly, I liked it! It’s called a persimmon, which I’d never heard of in my life, but then again, I don’t know many fruits that aren’t mainstream in the US. What’s also interesting is that the Chinese word for tomato directly translates into red, western persimmon, which now makes a lot more sense. So after my discovery (Ben was so proud when I told him later) we started eating, and the food was delicious. We had the stone bowl that I love so much, as well as seafood pancake (freakin’ delicious) and this chicken soup that was cooked in a clear (really murky white) soup. This was nuts because the way it was cooked, it was just a whole small chicken plopped into the clear soup, and you can eat the bones. I’m going to say that again. You can eat the bones; they disintegrate in your mouth. This was mind blowing to me. For starters, I’m still extra careful about bones after slicing my mouth open in Beijing, so being able to eat bones like that was freaky. Also, back in the states, I watch a fair amount of (competitive) cooking shows, and every once and a while the chefs would say something about cooking bone marrow, which I couldn’t wrap my head around. But now I get that. On an interesting side note, bone marrow in Chinese translates directly into “bone water” (although in all fairness the character for water is used for a lot of liquids when modified). We then talked about a lot of things, but probably the most interesting was comparing the cultures of Taiwan and Hawaii. It was interesting how some things matched up, like there is a negative stereotype against the aboriginals of being lazy and having children younger than the majority of the society would dictate to be reasonable. But it was also kind of cool because I was able to explain a lot in Chinese about Hawaii and it’s cultural problems. But moral of the story is that every time I talk with Jason and Silvia, it seems like my Chinese improves a lot more than it does in the classes here.
So I got back to the room and talked to Ben about my day, and he told me that Friday that a few people were going to HuaLian and that I should come too. I gladly accepted – and excited to do something this weekend.
Ok, so the mosquitos kept me up for a bit, but because they constantly kept me up till 4 the past two nights in a row, my sleep schedule was all outta whack. So I decided around 3 to say F-it and stay up all night and try to reset my sleep schedule. Was this the best decision? Well it beats sleeping through two more quizzes. So I went to Chinese, got caught up on all my quizzes, though as normal when I’m tired, my listening comprehension is not up to par. Then I went to my Languages in Taiwan class and felt pretty confident on the True/False quiz. There were a few weirdly worded questions, but I wrote out written explanations to my answers (more for me – remember I’m half delirious when taking this thing) so I should be ok. Also the whole background in Linguistics and Chinese kind of helped. We then had a guest speaker who kept her lecture way too simplified, which drove Ben and I crazy. Her presentation was based around Taiwanese and it’s current state, but apparently her and my teacher didn’t compare notes, because she repeated a lot of what had already been discussed in the past few weeks – at a stupidly simple level. At the very end it started to get interesting and it did give me an idea for my next paper, and possibly one for my final paper – and that would be taking about the different possible writing systems of Southern Taiwanese (it’s not unified right now – and then do one on the writing systems of all the Taiwan languages for my final). I also got back my first paper and got a B+ on it. It’s not a bad score, but I got points off for mixing up the usage between Measure Words and Classifiers – which I did because at best they are arguably different – and my teachers have gone with the more extreme stance that the two are totally different. I do not share this opinion, so when writing my paper, I switch up the terms a bit. However, I also knew about their stance, so some of that is on me. They did seem to like my overall point though, so I think I’m ok.
After class I was going to buy a train ticket to HuaLian but at that point, I was ready to drop dead, so I went back and dropped dead, and got on my normal sleep schedule afterwards. Problem solved.
Woke up, Chinese class happened (boring), and then went to Lexicography. While complex, that class is a ton of fun and challenging in a good way (that being said I’m not looking forward to the final paper in that class.) We went over lexical ontology. Ontology is dividing stuff up into categories (like taxonomy in Biology – which is organism groupings), and thus Lexical ontology is grouping words together. But it’s a lot harder than it sounds because A) there is no unified system for it and B) it’s really hard to separate the semantic relationship between words and what the words represent. I’m not going to explain it further, because this is a blog, not my class notes – but just take my word that it’s hard to separate the difference. Also we briefly discussed the Semantic Web, which is attaching meaning to words online. To make this clearer, when you type something in a word document, or read a text online – the website or document doesn’t know what the words mean – they’re just putting up what you put it, the same way a piece of paper doesn’t know what you wrote on it, it’s just holding ink in the form of letters that humans give meaning to. However, there is work being done so that computers can understand the words being typed or spoken too. It’s still a fairly new thing, but it’s because of this that you have things like Siri (the new voice command system on the new iPhone that seems to understand statements and commands more than just following an order. A new step towards welcoming our robot overlords!)
Then I went to go buy tickets to HuaLian, however the train my friends were on was sold out, so I got a ticket for earlier.
And then my sleep got screwed just as quickly. Around 11 after my workout, I started to feel a little queasy and my muscles wouldn’t loosen for the life of me. This and another attack by the mosquitos made it so I didn’t fall asleep till 6am, and woke up with my stomach killing me and my muscles still tight as a rock. I missed Chinese and decided that it would be better for me not to go to HuaLian (which I was disappointed in, but I think was the right call). I spent the rest of the day resting and taking care of myself, and was feeling better by nighttime, though my stomach was still uneasy for the rest of the weekend. I’m guessing the whole lack of sleep thing was the main cause behind this. Isn’t 11-11-11 suppose to be lucky or something? (seriously, why is it such a big deal?)
Woke up around 12:30 to meet up with my friend Marlee to get burritos (they aren’t spicy at all, which is why I could handle them). I have to say, Marlee is a lot of fun to hang out with (and she’s a gamer – that alone makes her awesome) but whenever I talk to her, it’s really interesting to hear about her home life. She comes from a small town in Oregon (goes to Oregon U), and it’s one thing to hear/read about the small town life where everyone knows everyone, but it’s another to meet someone and talk to them about it. I on the other hand have always lived the suburbia life near big cities (with Ridgewood as a semi-exception) so it’s crazy to hear about a graduating class of 92 when that was everyone in the town, and how much more interactive her family is, solely because geography isn’t an issue. But anyway, after lunch we went back to my room and I did my duty to bring her education to a higher level – as I corrected a serious flaw of her not seeing the Blues Brothers before (I’m expecting a call for a peace prize nomination any day now.) Afterwards I continued resting.
Basically I woke up, and studied all day for my Chinese Midterm tomorrow. Also found a pastry shop that sells a pastry that has a cheesecake filling (and it was labeled as cheddar – whoops). That was amazing. The End.
Ok, so that was my sleepless week in review. To be honest, I’m still a little delusional from everything, but there you go. Till next time, here’s my 3 things:
I might do a senior thesis on similarities between Taiwan and Hawaii in comparison to their mainland equivalents. But I’d then need a thesis, not just a comparison…
Uhg, why can’t people separate their grades from a two-week super blast?
I’m now convinced the song “Enter Sandman” by Metallica is about Mosquitos. “It’s just the beasts under your bed. In your closet, in your head.” (also where I drew inspiration for the title)
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