Four-minute Vienamese tea talk, in Korean

… with English subtitles. It’s no secret that I’ve been into tea recently, and the interest is going to last for a while. Just in time for my mini-presentation in the Korean class, the topic was open, and I chose tea. Vietnamese tea, to be precise. Neither my Korean is good enough nor my tea knowledge is broad enough to give a more detailed slideshow, but it’s a start. Both will come, in time. The title of the slideshow is “Vietnamese Tea”. I have no idea how bad my Korean pronunciation is, so I’ll just pretend that I don’t sound all *that* bad. I can understand myself, with the subtitles. [...]

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Two hours with Korean tea ceremony

Between 4 and 6 PM today was the most interesting 2 hours I’ve had this week, and also the most effortless educational experience I’ve had in a long time. That’s how the Korean tea ceremony is meant to be, as I’ve learned: formal but relaxing, and ceremonious but natural. The rules are rather simple to get acquainted to, the movements make sense, and just watching made my mind feel nothing but calmly pleasant. The kind of pleasant feeling one would get gazing off into space alone, on a grassy hillside, on a cloudy day. Now for the logistics. Inje University‘s Traditional Korean Tea Society (TKTS) gave a 2-hour presentation at Berkeley today as part of the “Dew of Wisdom” tour, Stanford and California State University got their tea before us. During the first 40 minutes, the students of TKTS demonstrated two types of tea ceremonies, both accompanied by the slow, deep, hardy rhythm of a 6-string zither 거문고 (geomungo). The first type, 들차회 (deulchahue), is to be enjoyed with friends and relatives outdoor during spring and autumn. The setting is lighthearted, the purpose is to relax and to appreciate nature, [...]

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So long, my smuggling days

So we’ve been stealing bananas for nothing. Today I discovered that St. John’s cafeteria lets you have take-outs. As many boxes as your heart’s content. I know, right? What school cafeteria does this? Their food is not out of this world or anything, but for us student conference attendees, who pay only $50 per week for a room and 2 meals a day, I’d say it’s pretty sweet. And here I thought we’ve been sneaky after every meal, before walking out of the dining hall, we wrapped up one banana or a piece of brownie to save for breakfast the next day (‘cuz breakfast isn’t included in the 50 bucks). Oih, St. John’s, you crashed my smuggling dreams.

Oxford dinners (part II)

– Guest post by Paul Simeon – “My trip to England for a summer school in plasma physics” – Read Part I Week 2 – Monday 19th Starter was the melon boat we had last week. Same thing. Some people were expecting the meals to start repeating themselves, but when we saw the main course come out, we were pleased that we would still have new dishes to come. The main course was medallions of meat (beef, I think) drowned in a gravy with mushrooms and pearl onions. I liked this dish, even though I was tiring of all the gravy on everything. The potatoes and green beans were nothing special. Dessert was peaches in some kind of alcohol-based sauce (liqueur?), topped with a square of ice cream, whipped cream, one of those infamous super-sweet cherries, and a crisp cookie to make it look like a turkey. I think most people stopped eating that cherry, as we had had it twice before already. [...]

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Oxford dinners

– Guest post by Paul Simeon – “My trip to England for a summer school in plasma physics” It’s nice to try out another school or another country. I did both when I spent the last two weeks of July at the University of Oxford, eating and sleeping in St. Edmund Hall, the oldest place still teaching undergraduates in the world. Arriving with few expectations about the food, we were all pleasantly surprised at the dining hall. Each night for two weeks, the staff served up a different three-course meal at 7 pm sharp. When some people showed up late the first day or two, the servers lightly scolded them. The chefs needed to know how many dishes to prepare. They had a vegetarian option if you told them ahead of time, but otherwise everyone got the same thing. And it wasn’t the average stuff dished out at a standard American college cafeteria. Week 1- Monday 12th The starter was a big wedge of honey dew melon on the rind, presliced to make it easy, and garnished with a lemon slice and one (too) sweetened cherry. The main course was roasted duck with [...]

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TAMU Physics building: Beauty and Brain

Just a few months ago, only certain people could go inside to inspect the construction, and everyone permitted had to wear hard hats. Now, driving on University, it would be hard to miss the gigantic banner leisurely hung to announce a brand new presence, that was much awaited and is worth every minute of effort put into it. The two physics buildings at A&M are a charm, and doesn’t one of them (left picture) remind you of some famous structure? (Hint: something in New York). Seven stories high (including the basement for laboratories), the newborn Mitchell Institute now houses the high energy theorists and the astrophysicists, as well as a brass Foucault pendulum complete with a full electronic protractor. Marking a crimson comet tail along its path, the pendulum pridefully swings across the floor, its movement sparks gratification in the eyes of Prof. Edward Fry, the department head. (For comparison, the pendulum at the Houston science museum is tracked by knocking down wooden pegs, much less chance for malfunction and more eco-friendly, I guess?). And just to entertain your scientific mind, every step you make [...]

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Nexus

After all I happen to stay in school longer than the average person, and if all goes well I will die a member of some academic body, so I figured school cafeterias might as well be another source of food and blabbing inspiration. Previously I blogged about the dining facility at Texas A&M, here comes Nexus at Stanford, where I ate last August. The price of course has changed with the economy, but hopefully the taste remains the same.Nexus has a few different sections of food, the menu also changes weekly it seems, but the Texan in me often has no difficulty picking out lunch – to the grill I went. The sign said it all. Burger with blue cheese and sauteed balsamic onion, and the food came out exactly that, with some lettuce, tomato, pickle, and more onion. I really had some doubt about the blue cheese, its presence neither enhanced nor diminish the taste of a good beef patty, its lack of texture didn’t make the burger any more or less juicy. It was a third wheel, [...]

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Feast at the House of Sbisa(*)

This is it. My last day at TAMU, at least for a while. Also my last meal at Sbisa for a while. I’ve eaten here almost every Sunday and used to eat here every dinner my freshman year (I was naïve and got a meal plan then). They’ve raised the price since then too, so that if you don’t have a meal plan you have to pay about 25-30% more than those who do, but it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet, hence cheap for those with big appetite. With 8.25 you can make your own salad, make your own burger, wait in line for crepes, or do what I usually do: go straight to the main arrays of meats, veggie, rice, potato, rolls, etc. then head to the dessert and grab a cookie or two. Sbisa’s chocolate chip cookies are unrivaled. They usually have someone cutting barbecued brisket or ribs too, poor guy cuts and cuts, so many students always stand around waiting for him with hawk hungry eyes. [...]

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Old books

Some people like to be scared, some like to sunbathe, some others enjoy getting up early. Morning persons, they say. One of the kids at New Student Conference today chooses to have 8 am classes all 5 days of the week, except one of them, a running class, starts at 7. He assured me he’s a morning person; now I’ve heard that before, and I’ll be eager to hear what he’ll say at the end of the semester. There’s just something about being in academia. After a while you can’t go to bed when you should/want to, and can’t stay up when you should/want to either. I digress… So, yeah, everyone has something they enjoy doing. Something that makes them breathe in a refreshing thought, something that gives them the chill and the comfort at the same time. Well, I don’t know if I should quite breathe in physically while I’m at it, but I like to sit between the high book shelves of a library. Dusty you may say. The smell of old paper longing to be touched since decades ago. Old books

Lunch log

Lunch today, at Pie Are Square: Yes, that was my lunch in its entirety (minus a bite). [...]

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