Cucumber kimchi

cucumber kimchi

Ever since a korean acquaintance-friend gushed about how much she loves cucumber kimchi, I’ve been rather fascinated by it. My mom tried to make it once but it didn’t turn out well. I was at the korean grocery store yesterday and saw freshly-made cucumber kimchi, so I bought a small packet. But it was ridiculously expensive – $4.99 for 4 cucumber halves! From now on, I’m going to make my own cucumber kimchi….one of these days, anyway.

And here’s what I bought:
Red cargo rice (5lb) – $3.99
Dang-myeon (jab-chae noodle; 2 packs) – $4.98
Sesame oil – $4.49
Coconut milk (2 cans) – $0.99
Roasted hot pepper paste – $3.99
Dried seaweed – $3.89
MAMA shrimp creamy tomyam noodle (1box=20packs) – $4.99
Pojangmacha U-dong instant noodle (1box=20packs) – $9.99
Unagi kabayaki (frozen roasted eel; 2 packs) – $5.98
Spinach (2 bunches) – $0.99
Baby peeled carrots – $0.99
Cucumber kimchi – $4.99 (Ouch!)

I went overboard with the instant noodles, but it was so much cheaper buying by the box than individual packs. Oh and by the way, unscented durians cost $0.99 per pound.

“Kena loteri”

Easter ham 1

Twice a year, the graduate students residential office has raffles; they give out 5 hams during the Easter season and 5 frozen turkeys during the Thanksgiving season. I’ve faithfully submitted my slip each time and have never won anything…till now. Yesterday, I received this email:

“Congratulations! Your name was drawn during the Spring Raffle this afternoon…you have won a ham. We will deliver your prize to your apt. tomorrow, after 1pm. If you are not home, we will place the ham in your refrigerator. Have a good evening!”

That is such wonderful news. Now, I’m a proud owner of an Easter ham 🙂

Spring is here

This afternoon was a wonderful spring day. It was very sunny but at the same time it was cool. A great day to be out, so I drove to the mall to get some unneccessary things – all for the sake of being out. On the way to the store, I noticed the check engine light is on again!! Well, I resprayed the ignition with the miracle substance, and I’ll see tomorrow if that actually works.

After the shopping trip, I went out for a run, though it was more walk then run. I also calibrated the nike+ipod sensor to my own pace. It was quite warm (11C) 🙂 and I could go out in shorts and let my legs get some sun. They haven’t seen bright sunlight for 5 months now.

I went for the STAR tutoring session on Saturday and my tutee was absent. She was absent the session before that too. I heard from one of her schoolmates that she was suspended from school for fighting. Anyway, I “tutored” two high school girls instead. Not much tutoring going on, they were both working on their homework and at the same time chatting about their tumultuous love lives.

Nothing much happening lately. I even thought of taking a picture of the catfish curry that I made this afternoon, and blog about it!

Reprints of priceless art


I had these reprints of my dad’s paintings made to decorate my room.

Lately my rice-bowl work requires me to drive 30 minutes to an early learning center (i.e., kindy/preschool) to observe and collect behavioral data on a 5-year old child. The observation starts at 9am and ends just before 11am. Every 15 seconds (prompted by a 15-sec interval tape via headphones), I’ll code on paper whether she was engaged or not engaged, and also several other off-task behaviors if they occurred. Sounds easy but this type of data collection requires almost 100% of my attention for 1.5 hours. No daydreaming allowed…well, I try my best not to 🙂

For the past few weeks I’ve been listening to internet radio on iTunes. One station that I always listen to is Unfortunately due to some recent copyright royalty board laws, this and many other stations will stop offering free services 🙁 Since there’s no local asian radio stations, I’m considering paying for internet radio ($4.95/month), so that I could continue cultivating my chinese-ness. But a big part of me wants things that are F.O.C. I’ll see how things go. Maybe I can find another site that streams malaysian radio, unfortunately, most sites require windows media player, which I don’t have.

It’s a miracle!!

For the past eight months, the dashboard “check engine” light has been on. When I first got the car, the mechanic said that it was due to a faulty O2 sensor but it was not a big deal, so I could basically just ignore that light. Last weekend, I was talking to my dad about my car issues and he recommended that I spray some WD-40 into the ignition keyhole. So on Monday, that’s what I did. And when I was driving on Tuesday, the most amazing thing happened – the “check engine” light was off and it has been off since then. My dad calls the WD-40, the car version of the human cure-all “foong yau” (Kwan Loong oil).

This afternoon, the outside temperature went up to 24C, I wonder if WD-40 can stop the power steering rack from leaking 🙂

Positive Behavior Support conference

PBS poster 2

Several things I did and one thing I discovered while in Boston.

1. I presented a poster on my qualifying research project. I think my poster was a bore to the general conference attendees and it only catered to a tiny niche. However, there were several people who were interested and specifically came to look at my findings. It was nice being the first author of something. One person even asked me if my work has been published yet, so I guess that’s a great motivation for me to make neccessary revisions to my paper and submit it for publication.

2. I spent two days attending presentations by “celebrity researchers” in the field of PBS. I call them “celebrity researchers” because of their outstanding work and anyone in this field must know their names. The most interesting part of the presentation would be the question-and-answer at the end of the presentation because that’s when one can literally see the sharpness of their minds. So, I spent two days having minor crushes on several celebrity researchers, who are as old as my dad…hahaha.

3. On the last night of the conference, the professors took us out for a nice dinner at a seafood restaurant – a belated dinner to thank us, grad students, for our hard work in the research project. I had my first cosmopolitan, several raw oysters, and a combo of grilled swordfish, jumbo shrimp and crabcake. Pretty good dinner. The dinner conversation was centered around the issue of women and dressing, and where the line is when it comes to dressing “attractively” during presentations. I think the general consensus was that establishing female researchers should dress conservatively, and only female researchers who have gained celebrity status, and with good figures, may be able to carry off being dressed close-to or almost crossing the line.

4. There shouldn’t be a number 4 because other than attending presentations, I did nothing else. I did not do any of the work that I brought along with me. I did not even visit any touristy sites. But since I’ve done the touristy thing the last time I visited Boston, so it wasn’t a big deal being stuck in the hotel most of the time.

5. I discovered that I’ve trained myself to sleep in a very cold room. Since I turn off the heat when I sleep, I’m used to sleeping in a 15-16C room. During this trip, I learned that my friends required a temperature of at least 20C to sleep. While my hotel roommates are cosy underneath the down comforter in a 20C room, I’m hot and uncomfortable. So in the end I had to remove the down comforter and just used the flat-sheet as a blanket, which was a bummer because I was so looking forward to sleeping under a real down comforter. So who would have thought – a girl from a tropical country actually tolerated the cold better than those from temperate countries.

Car issues

I just brought my car for its second oil-change. I can’t believe I had the car for over 8 months now. Like all “old” or just older cars, the car has several chronic issues that I should deal with, but as a financially-challenged student, I will just live with it and hope that these chronic issues do not become acute ones. And I do hope that warmer weather ahead will solve some of these issues, unfortunately, with the warm weather another major chronic issue will return. Here are my car issues:

Power steering fluid leakage:
Since the end of October last year, I haven’t had to top-up the power steering fluid at all. Somehow, the cold shrunk the leak-site, which is very good news for me because I don’t have to crank open the hood every other day to refill the power steering fluid tank. But I predict by April I’ll have the same old problem again. I plan to get this fixed but it will cost at least $360…sigh.

For some unknown reason, the car will occasionally stall when it has been idling at a red-light for some time. This has happened three times now. Even though, I can immediately restart it again, I’ve been conditioned to become slightly anxious every time I’m at a red-light now. I did ask the mechanic about it and he said that it could be due to a loose ignition connection. But when I asked, “Why then would it only happen when the car is not moving, wouldn’t the loose ignition issue occur when the car is moving too?” He laughed and said good point. Since I cannot afford to have him look into this issue, we let it go.

Electrical shut-off:
I think this issue is closely related to the stalling issue. Several times when I’ve parked and as I’m removing the key from the ignition, somehow an electrical shut-off occur – the clock & several dashboard-meters get reset. And the alarm also gets reset and forgets that I’m in the car, and when I open the door to get out, the alarm will go off. The alarm thinks that someone is trying to get in the car without the key. I’ll have to quickly close the door and use the key to lock and unlock the door, and then the alarm will stop. So far, I think this has happened about ten times now. I don’t even bother to set the clock anymore. I’ve been doing a search online on both stalling and electrical shut-off issues, and some probable problematic areas that I found were the air-filter, spark plugs, and ignition coil. But I’m trying to find a cost-free resolution. The last two days, I’ve tried to apply pressure on the key when I’m turning off the ignition (if it’s the loose ignition connection problem), so far this issue has not occured. I guess I’ll continue to do this until the car proves that this tactic doesn’t work.

Faulty A/C:
Well, it’s cold now so this is not a problem but I do remember the drive in 35C heat last summer. But I’m not sure if I can afford to fix this problem. I guess it’s another issue that I’ll have to live with.

Faulty cruise-control:
I found out that this was faulty during the drive to Newark last year. But then, I seldom drive long distance, so it’s a non-issue.

But, hey, the car has a moon-roof and an 8-disc CD player with a good sound system! And overall it has been a very good car for its $2000 price-tag. So, I’m not complaining.

Off to Boston

This wednesday, I’ll be off on a 5-hour road trip to Boston for the PBS conference, where I’ll be presenting a poster on my qualifier research. I’ll be going with the same people that went to last year’s conference in Reno. Our trip this time will definitely remind me of last year’s memorable drive up to Lake Tahoe. I’m looking forward to getting away from here for several days; unfortunately, I’ll be lugging with me my readings – to work on my Introduction and Literature Review outlines. Even if I don’t get any outlining done, at least I should catch up on my reading. But there’s so much to see and do and eat in Boston, I am not sure if I’ll get anything done. I’ll have to find someway to read 2 hours a day. Or if I can tolerate reading during the car-ride, I could read then too.

I hope I can meet up with Christine while in Boston, as she is bringing back from Malaysia the things I ordered: Milo 3-in-1, Nescafe 3-in-1, and Xifu korean ginseng chicken herbal soup seasoning pack. I didn’t know what else to order, these stuff were just for the sake of it.