Hey,

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1. I made no-meat enchiladas today. The filling was made of lentils, tomatoes, and yellow peppers sauteed on tomato paste. I also added grated soy cheese. The sauce was from a powdered mix I got from Save-On. The finished product tasted great (lentils are awesome!) except I couldn’t get the tortillas to remain in one rolled-up piece while transferring them to a plastic container. Still though, props to me.

2. I’m thinking of going full vegetarian this year—no meats, no fish, not even dairy. F is definitely a big influence on this decision although a part of me just wants to be “that vegetarian girl.” You know, have some sort of label that’s not “the older girl who’s bad at math.” Another part of me also wants to test how long I could commit. My last attempt lasted two days. Hmp, we’ll see.

3. I’ve been listening to a lot of Korean pop these days. That, and hip-hop. F likes hip-hop and he used my Spotify once while we were studying. Kendrick Lamar is awesome and Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy has always been amazing. I also really enjoy listening to Hopsin. H made me listen to “Ill Mind of Hopsin 7” and it got me hooked. I really want to be good friends with H but ah, maybe not in this lifetime.

4. I bought a Laura Mercier setting powder for $42. Damn that’s pricey. I don’t even know what to use it for. I barely put on make-up and I don’t think blush and lip tint need to be set. Man I really should stop going to malls.

5. My brother told me he’s been having suicidal thoughts. I suggested therapy and he said he’s thinking about it. I am also encouraging him to work out regularly. I too should go back to working out. I might start going again this January although there’s a huge chance I might just stop showing up after a month or so. Ah, Jolens, your ass is flat as it is predictable.

6. This year is the year I must officially stop saying I’m in my mid-twenties. I’m not anymore. I’m old. I feel old. I still live with my parents and I’m still in undergrad. I want to move out, I do. I just don’t know how. I don’t think I’m ready. Who do I live with? How do I find an apartment? It sucks and I’m probably gonna stay single until I hit 30. ‘Tang ina but oh well, it is what it is.

7. I hope y’all have a good 2017! 🙂

When the night has come…

After watching Stand By Me for the hundredth time a few days ago, I was urged to finally finish Stephen King’s The Body from the novella collection Different Seasons. This throwback of sorts was triggered by binging all eight episodes of Stranger Things, a Netflix series about many things strange (alternate dimensions and gooey monsters) and heartwarming (a mother’s love and the solidity of childhood friendships).

Consuming all these coming-of-age stories is not doing any good to my self-esteem. I am currently trailing the remaining days of my 24th summer and being reminded that I am now older than River Phoenix when he bid buh-bye makes me feel deeply sad and lonely.

Aside from that one time when I went out on a picnic with a few friends, I did nothing else this summer but work and sleep and sleep some more.

I’ve shut down everyone who’s invited me to go out and bask in the elusive Alberta sun. I’ve said no to a barbecue, a photo session, a beer night, a visit to a popular festival, and a walk-around to search for Pokemons. To be fair though, there’s a fat chance I would have said yes if somebody had invited me to go watch Suicide Squad.

But I do feel bad when I say no; it makes me feel like an asshat. Imagine having the luxury of so-called friends, of people willing to tolerate my higher-than-thou snark, yet still turn my back on them like they just offered me the dream job of being a multi-level marketeer.

If there’s anything I’ve learned about myself in the last decade, it’s that I’d rather be a recluse than turn homicidal in the company of people I don’t fully get along with. And unfortunately for me, the company I truly enjoy is back home. Man, I just don’t think I can ever have friends like the ones I had when I was in college.

But I guess being so hung up on who I hang out with is counterproductive. I’m not home anymore. Beers are not as cheap and so are random out-of-town trips. I’ve been in this country for years and to this day, I still feel like an alien who doesn’t destroy and invade but instead tries to fit in. Someone like Ford Prefect, I think, although it doesn’t really matter because I am an outsider all the same.

Everyday, I just remind myself that I chose to leave home. If Chris Chambers chose to make it out of Castle Rock, I chose to make it out of UP. My perspectives have changed since I let go. It’s not easy and I’m struggling but at least it’s my own decision to play this game on the toughest mode.

Yes I did burn some bridges—quite a lot of them—when I left home but that’s part of moving forward. A more important goal, perhaps, is to not burn the ones that are right in front me. #

Review: Wasabi (2001)

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Gerard Krawczyk’s Wasabi, to put it simply, is forgettable. It has its funny moments, but its use of tired slapstick cliches that exaggerate action sequences and make fun of dim characters can be both tiring and annoying—-usually both and at the same time.

The plot kicks off when police officer Hubert Florentini learns that his Japanese ex-girlfriend is dead and that they have a teenage daughter together. This discovery brings Florentini to Japan where he uncovers the mysterious death of his ex and tries to establish a relationship with his newfound daughter.

Florentini’s unexplained affection for his ex is an early red flag. The first act of the film shows us how the the Frenchman is so enamored by a Japanese woman who left him almost two decades ago. There is little back story to prove that their relationship is rooted in something deeper other than Florentini’s longing for what’s absent, which unfortunately (accidentally?) paints the protagonist as a white male fetishizing his Asian ex-lover.

Yumi the daughter is played by Japanese actress Ryoko Hirosue who speaks French in most of the movie. And while around 80 percent of the entire film is set in Japan, everyone surprisingly speaks French including bank officers and the Yakuza gang leader.

The only character who doesn’t speak French is Yumi’s grandmother. Her non-fluency in the language is of course used as a comedic device. In the only scene she’s in, she awkwardly stands behind a traditional Japanese partition door and when Hubert’s sidekick asks her if he could use the washroom, she answers politely with a bow.

This misunderstanding is central to the film’s portrayal of Japan. While Franco dominance is expected in a French film, the problem lies on the movie’s depiction of Japan as a caricature and as the “Other” even in the country’s own territory.

The title alone, named after the pungent Japanese condiment, implies the film’s intention to highlight the foreign and exotic traits Japan is known for. There is even a specific scene in which Hubert eats a handful of wasabi without flinching. His sidekick, on the other hand, visibly struggles with swallowing the sauce.

This scene demonstrates two typical reactions of foreigners looking into Japan’s culture: that of total acceptance due to sheer awe and amazement, and that of repulsion. But Wasabi merely goes over these opposite absolutes and only scrapes the surface level of a culture that is so easily reduced to quirks and stereotypes.

In the end, Hubert still wins and frames the gang while taking their millions to fund his and Yumi’s life. The white guy always wins, they say, and sadly Wasabi does nothing to subvert this and many other cliches.

 

5 Study Tips for First Year Engineering Students

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To say that first year engineering is tough is an understatement. The course materials may not be as far off from what you studied in Grade 12, but the sheer volume of everything you have to learn in a limited amount of time can be very overwhelming.

Engineering, indeed, is a walk in the park—-Jurassic Park.

Most people end up surviving first year, but there will always be those who don’t make the cut. I know a few people who either dropped out in the middle of the year or made it all the way through but their marks were just not high enough so they had to leave the program.

As someone who’s never been good at math and who prefers to analyze Shakespeare than to grind calculus problems, I think I did a pretty decent job of staying afloat and making it to second year. And because I feel like reminiscing, let me share five study tips that will hopefully help future engineering freshmen to survive their first year.

1. Develop a routine to finish your assignments early.

There will be at least three courses that require you to hand in assignments on a weekly basis. If an assignment is due every Friday, work on it every Monday night. And if another assignment is due Wednesday, finish it by Sunday. Questions are given ahead of time so there’s no reason to not stick to a schedule. Always try to answer the questions even before the material is discussed in class. If you and your buddies get stuck, talk to the professor and he/she will gladly help you with the problem.

2. Visit the prof during office hours.

You probably have read or heard about this, but there’s a reason why visiting a prof is always emphasized when asking for engineering student advice. All professors have office hours and most universities have help centers where students can walk in and ask questions to a TA or a prof. Never give up on a problem without consulting your professor. Whenever there’s a step in a solution that you do not understand, mark it off and make sure to have a prof explain it to you. Profs are paid to help you and most of them want their students to succeed so go take advantage of that!

3. Make a note of the little steps and details.

We all have different styles of note-taking. Some people copy everything they see on the board, some write down only what they feel is important. Whatever your style is, always take note of the little details that you think you might forget. Whenever there’s a step that you missed, write it down on the margins of your notebook. It could be as simple as making sure that the units are all consistent, or it could be about remembering a trig identity that would make a solution so much shorter.

4. Keep your exams, labs, and assignments organized.

One thing that irked me was having to scour through piles of paper just to search for a specific question that I did in a lab. It’s easier to have your papers neatly filed in whatever organizing tool you have, be it a filing cabinet or just folders for different subjects. The best way to study for exams, aside from going through the practice exam, is to review the problems you did in the labs or the assignments. Make sure you can start and end a problem without consulting the solutions manual!

5. Check out online lessons/tutorials.

I am personally a big fan of Paul’s Online Math Notes. The concepts are explained thoroughly and there are sample problems to work on. Some people prefer to watch videos like Khan Academy or PatrickJMT. So whenever you feel like you’re not solid on a concept, you can always go online to reinforce your understanding of the material.

Remember: understanding the theory should be done way before the midterm or the finals. If you find yourself watching Khan because you still don’t understand shear force and bending moment the night before the finals—-dude, you’re sorta kinda screwed.

On mortality

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This morning, I woke up to the news that K’s dad had passed away. So it goes.

I was surprised when my phone rang at around 9am. It was S, and she asked me if I had read K’s text. I said no, I just woke up. S said she wasn’t sure if K was joking and I groggily asked, “Joking about what?”

“Her dad’s dead,” S said.

Fuck.

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Baked Honey Soy Chicken

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Recipes are just suggestions. The list of ingredients does not have to be completely checked off and one doesn’t have to be pedantically strict in following the suggested portions. Maybe it’s just the lazy-ass in me talking, but I was able to bake this mean honey soy chicken armed with no less more than a “just wing it” attitude.

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