a string to connect pieces of my life

Friday, June 30, 2006

what do I study

a sample image I took from my experiment

(I was inspired by this discussion in Phdcomics.

When people first meet, they pretend to be interested in what each other is doing. Or it is a easy question to ask, like weather, and everyone has something to say about it, so generally no one would be embarrassed.

However, each time I was asked, I had some real difficulty by choosing the right answer. By saying "right answer", I mean the answer which is understandable by ordinary people, while they won't think it's so easy that it is really ridiculous that I have spent so many years on it.

Alright, alright, I admit that no matter what it is, it is ridiculous that I have been here for so long.

Anyway, now I decide that I need to work on the answers, depending on different situations I will be dealing with.

So here are several cases.

When people just ask and no follow-up questions: mechanical engineering
When people know there are different topics in mechanical engineering: fluid dynamics
When people seem interested: I use high-speed cameras and lasers to capture images of flow past a rectangular cavity. Then I can calculate the flow velocity fields and other characteristics.
When people ask what is the use of that(btw, I really hate this question because it makes me feel my research is totally useless): to reduce the undesired vibration and noisces introduced by the sunroof of a car, or some slots in aircrafts. Also, to enhance the mixing between the fuel and air inside the engine.

Or I can just say "I use high-speed flow visualization method like cinematographic PIV and PLIF to study the flow conditions of cavity resonance and its influence on shear layer mixing".

Then people might go like: "huh?"

Then I say: "yeah."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Homer, Homer

Today I was really pumped by finding these two videos. If you love the Simpsons, you don't wanna miss them. They are totally amazing.

As I checked out the cast later, I was curious of why one person is doing so many major characters (like Dan for Homer Simpson/Grampa/Barney Gumble/Krusty the clown/Groundskeeper Willie/Mayor Quimby/Hans Moleman/Sideshow Mel) while another person would do only one minor character (like Marcia Wallace for Edna Krabappel).


"If anything's hard to do, then it's not worth doing."
-------Homer Simpson

I have been running around doing all kinds of stuff today. Although everything I did needed to be done and they are important too, I feel I was doing them mostly because they were the easiest ones on my list.

After all, there is no reason not to trust Homer.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

# 62

There was a black-out an hour ago in our building.

Although the power was back seconds after, I thought it was a sign for me to take a break. So I sneaked out and had another icecream sandwich.

The water was pouring from the sky. It has been long since I walked outside in heavy rain last time. I felt the desire to do that. However, I used an umbrella so that people wouldn't think I was too odd. Compromises.

Last Sunday I finally watched "Office Space", which I borrowed from Brian and have kept at my aparment forever.

Anyway, I felt these days I have been acting like Peter. It's some sort of illusional happiness. I know it won't last long, or it will stop as soon as my boss gets back.

----------This is the depressing dividing line----------

Tonight the frustration started to hit me again, because in reality I have so many things to finish while I don't have enough time and I have no desire to do either of them. A conference paper is due on this Thursday, but I am far from getting the draft ready.

I told my parents that I really don't want to go on like this anymore and that I hope I can quit right away.

My mom said "then go home with us", like it's not a big deal at all.

"What if I can't find a job?!" I asked.

"Oh, you will find a job anyway." My mom said.

It was such a big comfort to me. Although they knew I won't be a quitter, they always have a way to remind me that all they want is for me to be happy.

Thanks, mom and dad, for your support and for knowing me so well.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

a cookie is a cookie is a cookie

I just failed my first attempt to make cookies. I got the non-bake cookie recipe from Demoree last week. The ones she made were so good that I couldn't help giving it a try.

First, they are too salty. Well, I can accept that. The reason might be the peanut butter I used. It already has salt in it, so I shouldn't add extra salt to the mixture.

The real problem is that the "cookies" intend to keep their liquid form and I don't know why. In the last couple of hours I poked them at least dozens of times. And finally I announced to my parents that I failed. Before that I just kept telling them it took time for the cookies to solidify.

As an engineer, I thought into it and also sent an email to Demoree for possible solutions. Could it be that I used the reduced-fat milk instead of whole milk? Or I didn't boil the mixture hard enough? Or I just don't have the talent to make cookies?

I guess none of the conclusions should be made until I try at least several more times.

Ain't I enough?

It has been a very lovely evening.

I played tennis with Xin after work. That cute boy who talked to me last time came again, but he seemed to have forgotten me because he asked me the same question. It broke my heart. Also, he was with an Indian girl. I guess she is not the one he talked about last week. Boy, you are a born player.

Xin and her husband stayed to have dinner with us. It was great, just like a family dinner, though it is rough for me that all my friends acted more like a good daughter than me. They listened to my parents, they laughed hard at their jokes and they wanted to clean dishes after dinner. So each time I invited them over, my mom would show strong willingness to adopt them.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

if this is what you wished for me

I wasn't going to post this today, then I couldn't help thinking that it might be good for today's theme, though it's not just about my dad.

I have been so blessed to have wonderful parents. They are both smart, caring, enthusiastic about life and very reasonable. And they have always been loving me and supporting me no matter what happens.

It is interesting that I used to think I was more like my mom, whose major was Chinese literature. Now that I am more mature, I realize that I actually have an engineer's mind just like my dad. He was a chemical engineer, and so is my brother.

During my youth, my parents tried their best to take good care of almost everything for me, which might not be the best way for forming my character, but I knew this was how they loved me. And I deeply appreciate that.

Now my parents are staying with me for a short visit. Well, some of my friends might consider a month with parents too long, but not for me. This is the second time I can be with them in the past five years, and I don't know when will be the next time.

Besides, since they don't know much English, everyday going out by themselves is like an adventure to them. After I got home in the evening, my mom would tell me what happened to them, and sometimes it really cracked me up because I had no idea of how they could deal with the communication. Anyhow, they did it. They even argued with the store about the wrong label once.

Usually I'd say to people that I don't really have regret for my life, for what happened is all my own choice. But whenever I think of the day when I had the biggest fight with my mom in my whole life, that I watched through the window her walking away by herself and later on I realized that she just knew that she got diabetes, I can't forgive myself for hurting someone who loved me and I loved this much.

My dad was a manager before he retired. When I was young, I thought he could solve any problem for this family. In our Vegas trip, I became the one to take care of everything. I know if it's not due to the language, my dad would love to do all the work. Being stronger and more independent is a good thing to me, but sometimes deep in my heart I wish I would never grow up and never have to deal with anything by myself.

It makes me sad to think that I still can't make a stable living as they wished while I don't know how to stop them from getting older and older.

My dad kept saying that he wants to come back to US for at least two more times. One is for helping me decorate my house, and one for taking care of my child, his grandchild. My mom hopes to plant something in the front yard of my house. She always loves plants and flowers.

I have no vision of any of those happening in the near future yet. But, mom and dad, I'd love to see all your wishes come true soon.

Because, as long as you want, as long as I have.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

you like me

This afternoon my friend Xin and I were playing tennis at my apartment complex. During a break, I got hit on by some handsome stranger.

Well, to be accurate, this little boy was riding a bike around our court. Then he came close and started talking to me. I was really flattered because first of all he was really cute, and... he is a boy. :)

So here is our conversation:

Boy: "what language do you speak?"
Me: "Chinese. How about you?"
Boy: "I speak half Spanish. "
Me: "Cool!"
Boy: "I have a friend who speaks Chinese too. She lives next door to me."
Me (a little jealous): "So she is a girl."
Then my friend Xin joined the conversation.
Xin: "Do you like her?"
Boy: "Yeah."
Xin: "Does she like you?"
Boy: "Yeah."
Xin: "That's good!"
Boy (proudly): "She likes me a lot!"

Xin and I couldn't help laughing. How do you know that girl likes you, not just a little but a lot? BTW, I think you must like me too.

Oh, that will break somesone's heart.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

what do I desire

Recently I have been reading the book "the Journey of Desire" recommended by Ciara, which actually lead to a big discussion between me and Brian about how his image of heaven would be.

Although I have only finished the first two chapters, it made me think a lot about what I truly desire for my life.

First of all, I desire good relationships. I want to know more about God. I want to be genuinely loved by my family and my friends.

I desire financial security. I hope I have enough money to take care of basic living and health issues when I get old.

I desire to stop worrying too much and enjoy life more.

I love good food. I dream about visiting Greece and Italy. I want to play tennis more and better. I hope to swim in the big ocean once I learn how to swim.

And I desire the freedom to just be myself.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

so down

This has not been a good week. Today especially sucked, a ton. Even Homer couldn't stop me from crying.

It seems to me that what I have been doing is totally meaningless. And no one really cares.

Then why should I?

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Personally I like the going-home and heart-digging (I just make up words here) movies like "Garden state", "Big fish", etc. "Elizabethtown" is supposed to be one of them, and not a very good one.

Here is this handsome, successful, workaholic shoe designer who made his company lose nearly a billian dollars and got himself fired. So when he was going to kill himself by attaching a sharp knife to an automatic bike (I didn't understand what's the advantage of that), his sister called and told him that his father died.

So he met this stewardess on his way flying to his father's hometown and apparently this girl liked him at the first sight (otherwise I don't know why she kept bothering him on the plane). Then his heart was changed by this girl and everything that happpened afterwards. Certainly like all this kind of movies he and this girl lived happily ever after.

The problem with it is that the same story has been repeated over and over again, and this one didn't provide us with anything new. The end of the movie kind of reminded me of what happened in "Amelie", which is a very heart-warming French movie.

Orlando Bloom's acting is somehow disappointing. If I were the director, I wouldn't choose him. He is way too cute to make the character look depressed. Comparatively, Zach Braff was much more convincing in "Garden State".

There were a few moments I enjoyed it besides the good-looking actor. When the wife (played by Susan Sarandon) did tap dance at the memorial service, when it played "come pick me up" by Ryan Adams, when there was Memphis and the bar at Beal Street I have been to, when the car was passing by the bridge between Tennessee and Arkansas, it touched some soft part of my heart.

Best friends forever (2)

There is nothing much to say about my college life. I didn't enjoy it as much as most people do. I was this small town girl living in the big city without knowing what to do. That's why I decided to leave shanghai and pursue my master's degree in Beijing.

And I am glad that I did it. During those two years in the place where I did my research work for my master's, I met some wonderful people and we soon became good friends. They were all smart and funny, and they loved me.

I won't say Ju was the smartest one among them, but he definitely knew how to survive successfully in academic fields. He was very good at analyzing things and putting them into words, which is a very important quality for researchers. When I heard from him last time, he was working for some Nobel prize winner in Columbia University as a research scientist. And I am sure that he is now doing great somewhere.

Yan and I had the same advisor. She was about to graduate when I got into the group. Well, I don't know what to say about this girl. I simply loved her. She has the free spirit like a child. When I was with her, I didn't need to pretend anything. Actually, that should be the right feeling when you are with true friends.

I can't remember exactly when was the first time I met all those guys, but I do remember that Wang didn't give me any good impression in the first place. I thought he was rude, loud and aggressive. After we became really close friends, I found he was just a kid pretending to be mature and responsible.

Actually he was one of the sweetest and most interesting people I have met. When he was in college, he once got into a train without carrying a penny and travelled thousands of miles for several days, simply in order to try if it's doable. And he is the kind of guy who would stand for his friends and fight for them. He was the top student in high school, but he only got into a middle-level college to be with his best buddy at that time.

It's quite ironic that Wang is working for the government now. I just can't imagine how he could be that serious dealing with all kinds of people and paperwork. When I met him last year in China, he didn't seem to have changed much. I was so happy about it.

Dai is one month younger than me, but he always pretended to be a big brother and tried to give me advice. My basic knowledge of rock music came from him. And he often laughed at my bad taste because I listened to all kinds of pop music. Whenever I hear "Hotel California", I would think of him, because he could sing this song accurately at karaoke without missing a single twist.

Two years ago he paid me a visit here on his way back from a conference to China. I wanted to treat him in a nice restaurant but he rejected my idea, well, as before. Instead, he cooked for me in my apartment. Watching him there and doing all the chatting was like the old days came back.

In one of my emails, I told Dai that these two years must have been the best years in my life. He replied with that I should look forward and time can't be turned back.

I know. All too well.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Good to be back

It is really good to be back. I love Ann Arbor. And each time I went somewhere else, it only made me love this city more.

I couldn't help smiling after I got back to my apartment. Even my parents were saying it felt like coming home.

Last night we went to Applebee's for dinner. Then I went there again today for lunch and got drunk after having a tall beer and a shot. In the afternoon I got an email from Jillian talking about celebrating her getting a job offer. So I went to another Applebee again tonight.

This is the most intensive visit to Applebee's in my whole life.

It's funny that after lunch I told Brian I was going to mail some letters. Somehow on my way I decided to go to Central Campus and picked up my renewed I-20.

Since I was apparently high at that time, my not-coming-back-from-mailing-letters became suspicious. Brian talked to my friend Rui, and she called me four times. I was on the phone with another friend, so I didn't take her calls. I guess they probably assumed I got lost somewhere in North Campus.

Anyway, this has been my first day from the vacation. Lots of drinking, calls from friends, beautiful day. It can't be any better. :))

Sunday, June 04, 2006

kiss me

The first night at Canyon, my dad took a walk by himself after the dinner. When he came back to the hotel, he asked me: "What does 'kiss me' mean?"

My reponse was "What?! Why?".

My dad said: "There were two girls driving by me and said 'kiss me, kiss me'. I just said 'I don't know'."

I was thinking "what's wrong with those girls", although I only told my dad that he must have got them wrong.

So the next day, we went to the restaurant for dinner. The waiter came and started with "Excuse me. What do you want for drink?"

Then my dad asked me again: "What did he say? Coz those two girls said the same words." was such a relief to me.

Friday, June 02, 2006

sin city

Today over the phone Brian asked if I like Vegas. I told him quite honestly that I hate this city. This place makes me feel all alone and sad.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed my little vacation with my family. Everything was smooth. We watched some show. I had plenty of sleep and good food. This afternoon when my parents were taking a nap, I sat in the coffee shop by the pool and did a little reading. (I couldn't be in the pool because I don't know how to swim. Yes, boo...whatever)

It's all good. But you see, I can do all these somewhere else. And I am not into gambling. Most of all, I don't like the crowd. (Brian would say, strange enough for a Chinese.)

So if I can choose, I would like to do the same things in a quiet European town, surrounded by some mountain. I like places that make me feel I could stay.

Maybe I shouldn't say I hate Vegas. After all, it has nothing to do with me.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

X-men (3): the last stand?

This movie doesn't make sense. It doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy it. I enjoyed it as much as I did from Mission Impossible 3. But it's not a compliment.

If they wanna call it the end for X-men series, we deserve a better one without doubt.

I am not a fan of the original X-men comic books. I never read any of them. The simple fact is that I love the first two movies. The story line, the action, the characters. The third one is weak with either of them and I blame them on the director.

You can easily find lots of precise reviews from the web. So I won't repeat them here.

One of the fans said in his (or her) review that the film company should make the fourth X-men as soon as possible, starting with Scott waking up and telling people “you know what? I just had the craziest dream.”

I personally think it is a brilliant idea.

Well, at least we have something else to expect: “Superman returns”, which was directed by the same director for the first two X-men movies.

It better be good.

Sidenote: if you go to see X3, stay through the credits. It will make you feel a little better.