Saturday, February 23, 2008

Snow day!

Residence campus under snow

Today was my first-ever snow day! It's exciting. Especially since it's a very soft snow.

Though I'm sure everyone with cars is hating it. Like the man who is currently digging out a space for his car across the street.

It's a bit disorienting for me. The only kind of weather emergency school closing I've experienced were typhoon and high wind days in Hamamatsu. One look outside and you could see why; children could literally get blown away in that.

The only other thing that came close was in second grade when the alarms went off at recess and we were told to come inside because the smog levels were too high. (Note: I grew up in Southern California.)

Streets and snow

Compared to those experiences, today was pleasant.

I took a walk and took a few pictures and then went back to my dorm to take advantage of my extra three hours and study. Even now it looks very peaceful outside. It's hard for me to realize that this beautiful snow is causing a lot of people a lot of greif.

Button no one uses and snow

I wonder if this feeling will wear off over time.

It probably will to a certain degree, like if I ever get delayed because of the snow.

But even then I'll probably separate the beauty of the snow from the reality of the trouble it's causing everyone. Like the strong winds of Hamamatsu and the colorful sunsets of Southern California (caused by smog refracting the sunlight).

They have their negative sides, the smog is actually be a big problem, but something about the sight of them is in resonance with my aesthetics and I can't help but take a moment to look.

Rain Boots!

On a slightly different subject, my rain boots came and I am very happy with them. Black and white, yet still nice and bright. They were cheap, but they'll probably last the winter.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Week 3 - Direction?

I can pretend to have complete control for about two weeks; I had my third week of class. Not that I have lost control of my life and school work, but I definitely underestimated the difficultly of entering back into student life. I'm keeping my head just barely above the surface of a sea of books.

There is silver lining to it though. As every day passes, I want more and more to do work that combines Japanese and English. For all three of my classes, I am incorporating Japanese language into the major projects, partly because I want to do them, but also because I want to have something afterwards that demonstrates a proficiency in libraries in both languages. A sense of direction is emerging in my studies.

Maybe I just want to go back to the EAL. I still love that library; being in those stacks felt like home to me. Only after coming here and trying to find Japanese language sources, did I realize how lucky I was to be a student of Japanese at Berkeley with the East Asian Library as my workplace. I want to take everything I learn here and put it to the good of the East Asian Library.

Who knows? I might not end up there. But it's good to have a dream.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Week Two - "Why do I need to give you this job?"

Ever since meeting with my advisor when I first came here, this question has never left my mind. If I get asked this at an interview, what will my answer be? I'm a grad student so that I can answer this question in a way that no library or company could refuse me. I want to prove that they need me, they just didn't know it yet.

Elementary, junior high, high school, college; they were all about the total experience and getting out with a decent grade because it made the next step easier. It was the grades that mattered, not what I got out of a class. I did have life-changing classes and I did spend most of my student life studying. But there were always the classes that I took, did the work, passed, gained nothing, and have no regrets that I didn't try harder.

Grad school is different. I'm finally studying what I genuinely want to study. There is so much that I don't know and so much that I want to know. While the reality of how much each class costs is a definite factor, the question is no longer "Is this a good class or a bad class?" but "How do I make this class work for me?" Responsibility for getting more bang for my buck, if you will, is on my shoulders, not the shoulders of my professors.

So I have written out what I want to get out of each of my classes. I'm sure they'll change as the weeks pass and I'll update my goals whenever I tweak them.

Reference: Be able to find the answer to any reference question. Be able to clearly direct someone on how to find the answer to any reference questions. Be able to compose a reading report using both English and Japanese sources.
Management: Know what management methods are most efficient for me. Be able to use management for the better of the organization. Talk to the director of the Harvard Yenching Library.
Storytelling: Gain confidence in public speaking. Be able to hold an audience's attention. Know what to say and what not to say and how. Be able to organize an event to raise international cultural awareness.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ask and ye shall receive.

Soon after I post an entry complaining about not having New England storms, a blizzard appeared before my window. I managed to record this just when a roll of thunder rolled.

Please excuse the yodelling in the background; I realized after I started recording that my camera would pick up the music that was playing from my computer. Anyone who knows me well enough will know who it is even if they don't know the song. (^_^)

Sunlight after the storm

And I had just decided to not go to the library.

Thank goodness I didn't go.

I might have gotten caught in that!

A few minutes later, the storm was gone and the sun was shining.


Saturday, February 9, 2008


Seal Beach on Christmas

Knowing that I was coming to a place where it snows on a regular basis and going to a school that shuts down during snow storms, I was bracing myself for some serious winter storms. I was prepared to write entries filled with beautiful white scenery and about how horribly cold I was and how I missed my California winters where I could wear flip-flops every day and going to the beach on Christmas day didn't sound strange at all.

While the first weekend was chilly, what I have experienced so far is far from what I expected. There have been a few cold days since I've gotten to Boston, but on the whole, I've been quite comfortable. And nothing yet has compared to the painful cold that was caused by the strong, bitter wind in Hamamatsu.

Snow... A week after I moved in, still before classes began, I woke up, turned on my computer and looked at the weather gadget on the right side of my screen. Not being a morning person, it took a few seconds of staring before I realized it was the symbol for snow.


So I opened my shade and saw a white covered world outside my window.


And I stood staring for a few seconds until my mind finally woke up.

Woah, snow...

This was new for me. It snowed in Hamamatsu (in fact when I first saw it snowing outside my window in Hamamatsu, I had an even slower time realizing what was going on as I wondered what that white stuff was), but the snow in Hamamatsu usually stopped before noon and no trace of it was left by the afternoon. This was snow.

Remaints of a SnowmanBut before I could totally appreciate the white world around me, it grew warm. The slowly disintegrating snowman on grounds of the neighboring campus was a depressing sight to see on the walk to class. And then that Friday, it rained.

Not only did it rain, it poured. The intersection near my dorm was more than half underwater. Many of the girls here own cute rain boots, which seem to be in style. After a day and a night of maneuvering around the minature lakes in the streets and the bogs on the sidewalks, I ordered some rain boots for myself. They should be arriving soon.

The weather continued to be chilly, but nothing that could be considered 'cold'. One day it was even warm. I was getting disappointed. Where was this winter that I was promised and was dreading?

Flooding It rained again. Nowhere as bad as the last time it rained, but it still caused everyone without rain boots to walk around to avoid getting soaked.

Speaking to some new Boston friends, I learned that this was very strange weather for this time of year. Thoughts of global warming entered my mind while I pondered if I was happy or sad that it was a warm winter.

One thing was for sure: I could definitely do without the flooding on the corner near the dorms.

And then I woke up this morning to find it was snowing. For the first time in my life, I got to go to school, walking in the snow. It was beautiful. Since it had just started to snow as I went to class, it was white and soft and beautiful.

I could get used to this.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Week One - "I'm studying to take bibliographic control!"

I am now officially a grad student.

As a full-time student, I'm taking three courses: Reference, Management, and Storytelling. Reference and Management are two of my five required classes and I think I will get a lot out of them. Storytelling, I'm taking because the course description intrigued me.

Each class meets once a week for three hours. The once a week part sounded great, but the fact that it was for three hours at a time worried me. From junior high all the way until I graduated from Berkeley, I had problems staying awake in class. It was rarely an issue of interest on my part; even in my favorite classes, I was known to nod off. I can't seem to be able to keep my concentration on one thing for more than about 45 minutes. So what surprised me was that I stayed fully awake and engaged for all three of my classes.

I won't bore you with details of the full nine hours of class I had, but here's a taste of what I'm doing.

Reference: My professor has a reputation for making this class one of the notorious ones that sucks your soul and spare time away from you. Within the first few minutes, I could see why. And within a few minutes, my professor became one of my personal heroes. Simply put, this course is to teach us how to find the resources we need to answer practically any question. Examination of reference works and learning how to manipulate searches to find what we are looking for. I almost cried for joy about three times in the class. All of it, all of the hard work for it, sounded like heaven to me. In the first few minutes of my first class, I knew coming here was the right choice.

Management: While most of my classmates look reluctant in taking the course because it has more of a business management feel to it than library management, as my instructor (he's the manager of a local public library) said, we need to learn to fundamentals of management first before we can apply it to libraries. I'm rather looking forward to it, actually.

Storytelling: Within the first class, I figured out that I'm going to enjoy this class, but also that I don't want to go into children's libraries or folklore libraries. I have an interest in it, but something about the vibe isn't quite for me. But the class will involve a lot of speaking in front of people and it is definitely something I need to work on. I'm also looking forward to the long telling we have to do at the end of the term. I already have a story in mind, but it's going to take a lot of preparation and I can't wait.