So I tend to cite Gerbner's mean world syndrome and Cultivation Theory when people start worrying that it's not safe to walk alone, be out at night, drive alone etc etc. Last night I walked home down some dark streets alone and nothing happened to me and the chances of anything happening are not high.

However, that said, this kinda hits close to home. Two shootings on Greek Row at my university last night. Those hit were bystanders in their 20s, I'm guessing students.

I guess one could also say, it never hurts to take precautions. Maybe I should stop tempting fate and doing stuff like walking around in the dark by myself.

Asian groceries

Finally a place to buy Asian groceries north of Chinatown and south of Edmonds. I cannot wait until they open. I'm a little disappointed by the lack of places to buy Asian food, which I guess comes with the small Asian population here compared to Vancouver, BC or the SF Bay Area. I checked out this list and there's nothing near my home. I did find this listing online D Unik Gift Shoppe & Oriental Foods 18002 15th Avenue Northeast, Shoreline, WA 98155 but have yet to check that one out. I think my classmate mentioned that it's mostly south Asian food products though. I sure miss living a 1/2 mile from Ranch 99.


history cont'd

So this piece of American culture is really interesting. Homecomings started in Illinois back in 1910 with a football game to bring back the alumni just as Robyn mentioned. Here's an essay about the history of homecoming in America (PDF file).

And the history behind frats and sororities? Here! and also here!

This is interesting
According to "The American Fraternity" an article written by Betty Mullins
Jones, the Greek association in fraternities and sororities comes from the fact
that all the early members studied Greek as an academic requirement.



Having never attended a big American university (they call it college for some reason), there are certain things I don't "get." I did my undergrad in Canada where college sports are not a big deal. They're not on the news and no one goes to watch unless you know someone on the team. Sororities and frats are also not as common and at my school not allowed. In general there are a lot of things that take place in American schools that are unheard of in Canada. I did my masters at an American state run comparatively low budget university where most students worked and commuted to school so there wasn't much of a big school atmosphere. So, things I don't get include definitions of words like "frosh" or "pledge." It wasn't until recently that I really understood what the heck a frat/sorority was about. To me it was an exclusive system of arbitrary friendships and a whole bunch of kids living in some gigantic house. Apparently I wasn't too far off but there are things like charity work and stuff that they take part in and the systems are entrenched in all this tradition etc etc. OK so I sort of get it and now I secretly want to take part in one of their little parties so I can say I did.

The other thing that is still a complete mystery to me is this whole idea of homecoming. Apparently this also happens in high schools. It's associated with a football game, marching bands (also uncommon in Canada), the crowning of a king/queen (in high school), and some sort of celebration. At UW there is a big banner announcing homecoming. There will be a rally, football game, "dawg" sled contest (students turning Costco shopping carts into dog sleds I think), scavenger hunt and a bunch of other activities. I really don't get it. Who is coming home and what the hell is being celebrated? What does football have to do with it and why do high schools crown a king and queen? Could you Americans enlighten me?

And how come we don't get to do all this fun celebratory stuff in Canada? Schooling seems so much less eventful there. The only fun thing I remember was Finals Fantasy parties but those were not hosted by the school. UBC's departmental beer gardens and outdoor concerts were pretty cool though.



I guess there is a Vanessa Au down in LA. Continuation of the email guessing saga. Last message below from Hong.
Thanks for the clarification. I'm sure you are really fun to hang out
with too. I guess I'll have to find the other Vanessa Au to trash the
mansion with. If you are ever in town to party, just holler.Peace.
It sure pays off to secure a good email address early.


guessing emails

I wish I had a little more creativity in me to mess with this guy (not in a sinister way). I think some guy had met someone with my name or a similar name and was email guessing when he sent this. The opportunity was so rich but this is all I could come up with. Lame. I should've attached a photo of someone really hot and claimed it was me or critiqued his approach or continued the dialog with an excited "hell yeah, you're so hot" (okay not the latter, that would fall under "sinister").
Hi Vanessa. Just wondering if you have any plans this Saturday night?
I had two tickets to this Halloween party that is being put on by my UCLA
MBA friend at some mansion atop somewhere in West LA. I didn't go last
year because of other commitments, but I heard it was really fun dressing up
and trashing some strangers house!! So let me know if you are interested.
I'd think it would be fun to hang out with you. Thanks. Hong



I think you have emailed the wrong gal. While I believe I am fun to hang out with and would love to party in West LA, I live in Seattle and I'm pretty sure I've never met you before in my entire life.

Good luck tracking down the right Vanessa and scoring a date with her!



So a friend of mine found a wallet laying on the street with $700 cash and no ID inside. This leads me to wonder (1) who the heck carries that much money? (2) why would the ID be missing and not the cash?

I'm not the type to find things like that. Pennies don't count. I saw a quarter today when I was getting off the bus but didn't pick it up because I didn't want to get trampled by the people behind me. And for some reason having lucky things happen to me always makes me worry that it'll balance out with bad luck, like getting hit by a car or something. That reminds me of some news I read today. A fire truck was putting out a car fire on the I-5 when some jack ass drove into the fire truck. You know, big huge vehicle with bright flashing lights. Another version of the story I read noted that drugs and alcohol are suspected. Gee really?



4 of my favourite friends came down from Vancouver this weekend which means lots of shopping, drinking and eating. We joined a birthday party of my friend's coworker that started at Wild Ginger and ended at Trinity club. So Wild Ginger is some fancy pants restaurant that is supposedly quite popular in Seattle. With reservations, they seated us 45 minutes late. The food was OK but it's hard for someone who is Asian to really appreciate the whole fusion thing. The guy spent FOREVER explaining a garlic green beans dish that I can make in a couple minutes in my sleep. The chicken was overcooked, scallops too oily and too peppery, and the place was just full of pretentious Marina District type folks. And simple stirfry dishes should cost $5-8, not $20-something. When a white man serves it in some upscale lookin' restaurant (where tea ain't free) and takes a couple minutes to describe each dish (like that sommelier mofo in last season's Top Chef) those stirfries suddenly cost three times as much. The most memorable part of the dinner was when the waiter cleared all our dishes, nicked the tray on a pillar and all the plates came crashing to the floor. He got a huge round of applause and a couple standing ovations. Trinity was alright. Generally I'm sick of and too old for clubbing but it was nice to get out, see friends and pound back some drinks. Paid for it today though.

In other news the usual blaring of punk music on Sunday afternoons has stopped. I guess management gave them a warning...or they're out of town.



The only thing that pains me more than poor student performance on an assignment is that student thinking s/he did an outstanding job. To use a rude, cruel, and entirely inappropriate analogy, it's kinda like when a woman who is a little on the chunky side wears tight low rider jeans and a baby tee, producing a large "muffin top" that spills out between the two articles of clothing and thinks it's all very flattering on her. Where is the disconnect? Is ignorance bliss? Ah crap. Now I feel guilty I wrote that. Bah, whatever. I'm tired and have way too much shit to get done. I wish there were such a thing as speed reading and that I had that ability. (I think it's bullshit) One day I will come up with a bullshit seminar on a DVD on how to do something that makes no sense and then retire rich.


fucking neighbours

Dear Management,

I live in apartment #*** and I am writing to complain about loud music coming from the apartment below me. The tenants in that apartment regularly play loud punk music for several hours at a time in the early evening on weekdays and during the day some weekends. It is loud enough that I can identify the song and sometimes even make out the lyrics. The bass from their music vibrates the floor of my apartment and can sometimes be felt on surfaces of our furniture (such as a desk). I am a Phd student and my roommate is studying for her MBA and the music is extremely distracting when we are trying to study. I have on several occasions pounded on the floor to communicate that they need to turn it down but I don’t think they can hear me with the volume turned up that high. I do not, for reasons pertaining to personal safety, wish to confront the tenants directly. Please issue these tenants a noise warning.

Vanessa Au


real northwest

My parents drove down to visit for the weekend. We spent yesterday touring the Fremont neighbourhood of Seattle (the self-proclaimed "center of the universe") where we had a delicious meal at Jai Thai, visited the troll under the Aurora bridge, and checked out the statue of Lenin. It got damn cold out. After that we walked through Pike Place Market which is a huge maze, then I took them on a long tour of the UW campus. Luckily we were finished with the walk and safely inside Target by the time it started to rain. And rain it did. We headed home where I made a quick chicken, onion, napa cabbage and celery stirfry for dinner. I put on the Constant Gardener for them (which I've seen and loved) so I could get the rest of my grading done. Hooray for long movies. If I had Lord of the Rings at hand (they'd hate it) maybe I could've finished my paper too.

Today fog rolled in to join the rain and it really started to feel like the Pacific Northwest. All the sunshine the past month was a little disguise that Mother Nature put on to help me adjust to living here I think. And for that I thank her. Today we headed out to Big Lots for some guaranteed good bargains and then over to Nordstrom Rack for one more attempt to buy shoes in the tiny size that my mother wears. By comparison I have rather long feet for my height. My feet would've made me rather unpopular a few generations ago in China but here and now they keep me from falling over (sometimes). Parents made it back to Coquitlam in record time ~ 2.5 hours while my roomate and her boyfriend made the reverse trip in 4 hours thanks to a 1.5 hour wait southbound at the border while customs searched people's trunks.

Back to writing my paper. It's dark and wet out and I can hear the cars and buses sloshing through puddles on the pavement. Sounds just like Vancouver. Hopefully the weather helps me to stay indoors and focussed on school. If it begins to have adverse effects I will be making a little appointment with that light box at the counseling center for people suffering from seasonal affective disorder.



Link borrowed from Syndromes. Some sort of personality - how you see yourself vs. how people see you kinda thing... http://kevan.org/johari?name=vanessaau



Now that I'm a daily user of the bus system here, I've noticed a few things:
  • bus drivers here are exceptionally friendly
  • 90% (by my estimate) of people thank the bus driver when exiting
  • if a bus is full of people, it will drive right by you
  • there will always be teenagers on buses who deliberately speak much louder than is necessary to communicate with the friend sitting next to them
  • there will always be riders who have very personal conversations on their cell phones and it's rather hard not to eavesdrop (because it's interesting to hear about why she broke up with her boyfriend and how he keeps calling her)
  • the bus driver has to manually open the back door and sometime s/he forgets and you have to yell "back door please"
  • sitting in the seat where you ride sideways gives me motion sickness
  • I can only read for about 10 minutes before I start to feel motion sick
  • only the seat nearest the window has a rail to rest your feet on
  • there is a fare free zone downtown which means you tend to get several homeless people getting aboard just for the hell of it
  • bus drivers are not allowed to help people using wheel chairs to back into the space reserved for them (even if the rider is drunk and uncoordinated and it takes him damn near 10 minutes to figure it out)


coffee crisp

This will be the first and only time I'll add a link to Fox News without prefacing it with disparaging remarks. So here it is (thanks to Enlai). Coffee Crisp will be sold here soon. It's not my favourite chocolate bar from Canada though. I much prefer the Aero Bar, Oh Henry, Caramilk and the Canadian version of KitKat which is much more creamy, less sweet and less waxy which seems the case for all our chocolate when compared to the disgustingly sweet wax-textured American chocolate (with the exception of maybe Dove and Ghirardelli). Here is a link to more Canada only products. I've had Cadbury bars from the UK and they taste even creamier than those from Canada.



I have learned in the month that I've lived here that being so close to the Canadian border has an effect on the people and media here. And it's a good thing. First, people here say pop and not soda. I had never gotten used to saying soda in California because to me soda is just fizzy water. Boy was I relieved when I heard a bunch of people say pop machine and another student confirmed that, yes, pop is the term of choice in these parts. Second, sometimes local media here think of British Columbians as one of them. For example on Evening Magazine (a local news magazine show) the host interviewed an actor from Kelowna, BC who stars in Friday Night Lights and told the actor that Seattle considers him one of their own. Maybe it's because there aren't many actors coming out of Seattle to interview, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are doing it as a friendly gesture. Third, there is a curling club near my home. Like the whole rink is just for curling. I know Americans are getting pretty good at the sport but I have never before seen a curling rink in the US with my own eyes. Fourth, the local KING5 news includes NHL action in its sports news coverage. That almost caused me to fall on the floor. But the best is that with my limited cable package I get CBUT, aka CBC Television, which means I get to watch HOCKEY without driving 2.5 hours home!

In other news, I ran into preppy asshole again in the elevator, twice this week. Tonight he looked at my SFU sweatshirt and the conversation went like this:

preppy asshole: SFU, what's that stand for?
me: Simon Fraser University
preppy asshole: Where's that?
me: Just north of the border. You've never heard of it? I thought most people around here have.
preppy asshole: [snarky grunt] I'm just not that into colleges. I dropped out. So yeah, I'm just not into the college thing. [exits elevator]

Man that khakis-and-golf-shirt-wearing Democrat-hating mother fucker is really getting on my nerves. At the same time I'm really curious as to what he does for a living and why lives in an area like Lake City (which I've decided is a cross between Surrey (not the nice parts) and downtown New Westminster, with a hint of East Vancouver).


The last month or so has been some sort of horrible unintended social science experiment called deprive Vanessa of all media. My roomate was in charge of getting the Internet and cable set up and for whatever reason it just never got done. It was kind of a combination of Comcast messing up and lack of follow up on her part *sigh*. Finally Comcast came today and the technician happened to have a DIY Internet install kit in her truck so I am all set up now. Alas, I can watch something other than fuzzy NBC and blog and surf and check email from home. It's been weird coming home and not having anything to do other than cook, clean, and read. Granted I got a hell of a lot of homework done so I think I should learn from this experience by keeping the TV off once in a while and maybe turning off the wifi when I'm writing a paper.