2011/01/30 Su – Echoes

I’m at home now, Salt Lake.  During my week-end visits home this couple of weeks, I’ve been reading my old paper journals, starting with the Hong Kong mission one (2001-2).  I skipped the second mission one, in Salt Lake, and went right to the second Hong Kong one (2004), which continues past that trip into December of 2004, and then jumps to May, 2006, starting with my arrival in Korea.  In my reading now, I’m still plodding through Korea.  The book ends with my departure, in August.  My Mongolia journal (2009) I’ve kept in Provo, and I will try to go through it again after this Korea one.

There’s a domestic paper journal between the first and second Hong Kong books, and my history between the gaps in this second book are recorded electronically.  I know at least a good portion of them survive.  I have dreamed to digitise all my paper journals, but so far, the paper ones have been more durable.

So, after Korea, I expect that I still have a lot of things saved from my on-line journal up till the beginning of this archive here.  I saved and deleted it in consequence of the Bomie situation, starting again some time later with the first entry here.  These entries precede, overlap with, and follow my Mongolia paper journal.

I’ve felt sad reading over these books.  It seems that I consistently predicted the heart ache that periodically swallowed me, but I could never fore-see its magnitude.  It shook me every time…

I’m sorry I wasn’t able to love better those few I have loved… and those several I have tried to love.

Somehow, at the end, I’m glad I loved them.  I hope they’re happy.  I feel they’ve made me a more valuable person…  The fact that I have valued them has given me meaning.  I placed supreme importance in some effort, and it gave me history and direction…  I interacted with the universe… I grappled with it; and now I exist as part of it.

I’m glad to exist.  I don’t love this world, but I do like it quite a bit.

The world is like Provo.  In many little ways, and in countless beauties, and attitudes, affecting my own, I have found a certain peace there.  I will undoubtedly leave that city behind, and missing it will not bring me back as a permanent resident — not yet, any way.  I will leave it with some sorrowful sense of relief… and I will go to my Asia… and leave it, too, eventually…

I like this life, but I want to see greater…

How I miss my friends… my sisters…  I hope none of them ever think I don’t miss them, or that I didn’t love them.

I have few brothers…

Last week, I argued with contentious Shane a little, but he got over it quickly and seems nice again.

Yesterday, having returned home to see a note from my mother that she had gone to visit her mother, I eventually took my bike down to her house and spent the late afternoon with them.  My grandmother’s 88 blessed years are beginning to weigh on her.  It was wonderful to be with them.

These days in Provo, I’ve been spending time with In-kyum in the library in the evenings, wasting time on-line.  On Friday I met two of my study buddies, and we three (Jenjira and Feng-yu) went to eat at the Cannon Centre.  There was some Chinese thing at school that night that I missed.

On Thursday, I went for the third time to the editors’ meeting for the student linguistic journal.  They discussed what they liked or disliked about various article submissions.  I had submitted something last year that was not accepted, which is why I started going to these meetings this year, to learn more about how they operate and make decisions.  The rest of the students there are all studying the editting minor emphasis.

Well, it’s a little boring, I guess.  They just choose the things they happen to like on that day.  Apparently I’m now part of their volunteer staff, though I haven’t really been sought after for editting help since I haven’t taken the editting classes.

Immediately after that meeting (requiring an early exit) is the Students for International Development (SID) meeting.  I’ve gone there two times now, since one of our three Viet class students, Spencer, is acting as one of the three club presidents (another of them is a girl I used to home-teach at Southridge), and since my old room-mate Ezra used to go there; also, because I enjoyed their production last spring, the “Hunger Banquet”, high-lighting the plight of the under-fed in the world, and I heard they were now preparing for this year’s production of the same.  Last Thursday, I chose to join the “food committee”, consisting of about four other old-timers and another new guy.  Most students in that club are international-development minors.

I obviously have some serious worries about the leftist voting habits I sense in some of these young people… but since last year’s Hunger Banquet, which I found spiritually moving, and my related acquaintance with the Vittana web-site (I think some other ID or political-science young people were advertising it at the same event), the concept of which I found fascinating and useful, I have tried to satisfy my self with thoughts that if, by whatever accident of politics, typically not-fully-ethically-reliable “progressives” or liberals happen to espouse the sanity of helping the world’s needy, and that too using healthful models, I would be glad for this expression of their often self-obscured humanity and reason, and happy to join hands in these contexts, regardless of their dangerous domestic policies that, enacted to every body’s detriment, poison my love for my own country and countrymen, and push me the faster into the foreign lands that have always thrilled me.

So, these paper journals have been interesting.  I was a sensible lad.  I was occasionally quite impetuous, but looking closely, I see a thread of sincerity and mutual social respect running through my complaints, a sort of constantly offended idealism which, though moderated with experience, still animates my resentments.  I see a lot of personal development.

There was something of a descent after the mission… and a haziness of direction…  I’m glad I survived those days of self-pity…

How strange it would have turned out, if any of those heart-aches had gone oppositely — if they would have accepted me…  Where would I be today?  Things would be different, and I would be different.

I feel like… a… disciple of a martial art.  Martial arts have been very difficult things for me to pursue.  They need tremendous, sustained exertion, and some times they ruin your precious body in their drive to perfect it.  But if you can endure… you will look back as a different person.  The pain you resented will no longer be your enemy, in-stead having become a part of your self.  Finally, as the recipient of their belated benefits, you will no longer entertain imaginations of giving up your difficult experiences.

Only a dismally inexperienced, surprisingly thoughtless observer could ask a group of skilled trainees, “Why is there so much suffering, in your path?  How can your trainer be a good person, who hurts you so much?”

…But, as we believe, we all agreed to this training, in the beginning.  And it comes whether we accept it, and excel, or deny it, and falter.

Evolution did not create this experience, this life-through-death, this glory-through-despair called human life.

As we understand, evolution shaped our bodies from the dust, and carried the animal world to this brink of sentience, this image of godhood…  So, one day very distant, will we, as gods, do with future worlds, as our God, our Father, did with us.

All men worship a god.  Some name him Creator; others name him “self”; still others, “chance”.

What darkness, to be sitting in the palm of some great Hand, and to be too small, too narcissistic, and too dense to recognise it.  And what violence to intelligence, to insist that such blindness is actually sight, and to vilify those who see, and use one’s influence to poke out the eyes of children.  Like insects, our eyes are biologically too small to visualise, and our brains lacking the capacity to consider the larger scale of reality surrounding us; but some of us think we can smell it in the air some how, and we ask each other to hope and struggle toward a comprehension; while others sullenly confine their selves to the very tiny world they can dimly see and prove.  What darkness, that they should then worship their own lack of understanding…

But to us, what beauty, to be free of that blindness.  All the shame of our demented fellows only adds to our gratitude… that while they are “liberal” in their minds, we are truly more free, mind and body; while they repeatedly insist on their “progress” as they descend back-ward into the animalistic humanism of their belief, we are truly stepping hesitantly forward, beyond our animal brethren, into the grander destiny of becoming like Him of our belief, our great Prototype, whose history we don’t know, except only that, in the eternities, it will become our history too, and we will then strive with our infinite patience to bring our own children out of animal darkness, and into the light of intelligent Man.

To believe in God is to believe in our own selves, our own reason, our own existence… but to doubt him, intellectual suicide.

So far, I have been spared from suicide — mind and body — and I thank heaven for it.

I suppose I’ll return to Provo soon.

-Steve

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12 Responses to 2011/01/30 Su – Echoes

  1. agkcrbs says:

    Last night, two or three rowdy children, music blaring, boarded the bus I was on, choosing to sit very near me among many empty seats. I got up and moved forward several rows, glancing back at them…

    They got off later, and then the time came to for me to alight. I did so, and biked the few blocks to my apartment. Just before arriving, the cold had finally begun to numb my fingers, and I stopped to search my bag for my gloves, at the same instant, realising with a dull panic that I didn’t remember putting the gloves in the bag. I confirmed their absence, then hurried home and discarded my things before setting back out by bike to see if I could intercept that bus. I stopped momentarily on the side-walk to take out the expandable gloves I keep in reserve in my coat pockets… and was again surprised: only one pocket contained gloves. The others had fallen out… somewhere between Salt Lake and here…

    I had been on the last 811 bus for the night, and once I returned to the main road (University Avenue) and saw it deserted, I knew the bus had already returned to its garage. Still a few hours from the day’s end, I set out to find the place…

    First I pedalled down over the bridge to the Provo shopping centre. Though the roads were carless, I decided to ride down the side-walk any way. I picked up speed as I approached the end of the walk, which was elevated perhaps a foot above the road, and which I expected to have an incline back down to the road at the bottom of the hill, since there had been a ramp on the way up. I was disappointed to notice the elevation relative to the road increase as I neared the bottom, and no visible ramp. At the bottom of the hill, there was a T-intersection, with a small road coming off to the right; the side-walk actually curved sharply to the right, along with the guard rail, following that road…

    More later.

  2. agkcrbs says:

    Needn’t spend so long on details, I guess. At the end of that hill, as soon as I saw my tall side-walk curve sharply right, I hit the brakes and skidded for about 0.5 seconds before running out of time. I yanked up on the handle bars just in time to keep from front-falling as I sailed off the raised cement. It was perhaps my biggest bike jump in many years, but it was a lighter landing than I had expected. I guess that’s what those showy shock absorbers on Dave’s bike are good for.

    The bus stop at the Provo mall was vacated — there was some other parking area. I checked with two gas station attendants to see if they knew where the main garage was; they nor their phone books were any help. I went back over the bridge to this side of Provo (leaving the side walk for the road before coming back down the hill this time, though it was ramped on this end). A third gas station worker had some idea of where the garage was: she sent me down Centre Street and across an over-pass toward a Geneva Road, which following north I was to find the garage. Near that over-pass, a fourth gas station person had already locked his doors. A couple at a fifth station across the road could tell me nothing beside the direction of Geneva Road.

    Over the pass (which had also branched off as a free-way entrance), the road then under-passed another span of road, and there was some road construction somewhat clogging the way. I rode past a quite large, empty, still frozen field on my right that was followed by few buildings that then adjoined the intersection of my road and, yes, Geneva. I turned right…

    Directly up the road, I noticed some kind of monument off the road-side, and an old-fashioned-looking fort further back; it was inside a park. I think it was called “Provo Fort”. I biked around it on low gear, surprised that such a historic interest would be sitting there in west Provo, where I’d never yet come and would probably not return. It had a raised platform in the middle with a cannon sitting atop.

    The road went on… and on. I passed what I took for Provo River, remembering my perpendicular trip to Utah Lake with Myeong-Seon. The air began to grow foggy; the time was marching its slow way to mid-night. On either side of me, the regular residences gave way to more rural habitations. A dog started stalking me at one point after I stopped to pick up, and then replace, a bag of either garbage or recyclables outside a church.

    I pedalled onward… and suddenly, to my right, I spied a very strange sight, what looked to me like an old mediaeval manor. It was behind a tall and ornate gated wall, and was guarded by a row of pine trees. The house itself was far back, at the end of a long drive; it was large and rectangular with a slightly angled roof, and had a foreboding aura, especially for the increasing mist that was turning to a light snow. Visibility was not high. Hoping nothing fictional fell upon me, I pedalled away from the scene, past some abandoned-looking farmhouses and eerie fields on the left and right… and back toward lights and civilization.

    Finally, I found some modern apartment buildings on the right, and close after, past some lights, the UTA parking pavilion. The sky was snowing a little harder. I rode up to the security man’s window; he was sleeping. I tapped on the door, and after a wait, he yelled to know whom it was. I called back and told him my business. He came to the door, awake, and very helpfully explained that my gloves may be found by cleaners, and that I would do best to call a certain phone number (which he gave me). I left, covered by then with snow.

    I went past UVU and Wall-mart, then turned around and entered that store to enquire on copying my damaged apartment key. The man there helped me unbend the key laterally, but it was still fractured slightly and turned up a little, so their computer couldn’t read it. He sent me to Lowe’s. On the way there, I saw some large, floating display balloons at a car dealership that, frozen in the air and weighed with snow, were drifting down almost to the road. There were three, interconnected by a cord. I pulled in the first two, then stuffed the second through a space in the company sign further from the road, pulling the third so that if it lost all lift, it wouldn’t land in the road.

    The Hawaiian-but-Chinese-looking man at Lowe’s didn’t trust his machine with my weakened key, and referred me to another store, Bilco, over on State Street or Main Street, or whatever, in Orem. If not there, he also suggested some “Orem Locksmith” or something. They of course were closed at this hour, and I rode home, gloveless and snowy.

    More later…

  3. agkcrbs says:

    The next morning I woke up at 5 or so, thinking to try to intercept the bus on which my gloves had been left. Realising that the route would potentially change for each bus, I made a serious effort to catch all of them of the same model that I had ridden (though there was an early one an hour before that I missed). I was on bike, and since most of those limousine busses were going to Salt Lake, I may have annoyed a driver or two as I loaded my bike then unloaded it a stop or two later. Between busses, I rode down south to the earliest shared stop after the bridge. I made several trips back and forth… I may have ridden six busses. On one of them, I started talking to the woman driver to allay her annoyance with my short ride, and ended up forgetting to scan her bus for my gloves…

    Eventually, one or two of them ascertained my purpose, and informed me of the “lost-and-found” office up at the Orem shopping centre… I was told that the busses were definitely cleaned each night, and whatever the next drivers found was delivered to that office. Nearly two hours had passed, and I gave up checking the remaining busses to go home and try to sleep a little more.

    Later in the day, I made my way to that office. The woman there demanded of me twice which bus I had ridden — that is, which day — and then, without ever checking her office (but probably knowing what was there), insisted that “all Sunday busses come out of Salt Lake”, and that I would have to go to the Salt Lake office. Her meaning was that, coming out of Salt Lake, they all returned to Salt Lake to park for the night.

    Later on Monday evening, I tried to patronise those key stores, but they were both closed by the time I arrived. The second was right across the road from the Korean Oriental Market I had visited on occasion, most recently with dear Myeong-Seon. It was a long ride back with insufficient hand covering.

    On Tuesday morning, I got up at 5 or 6 again and caught one of those busses down there; it must have been the 801. Again, I was on bike. It was a sleepy but interesting trip, since the passengers were all entirely different from the normal class of ruffians that rides at more reasonable hours.

    I had forgotten, except for hazily, the address told me by the Orem woman. Oh; first I stopped to drop off a library book I had picked up for work last month, which had been unavailable to me except at that city library. Then I got back aboard the rail and went to the last stop, where a bussing hub station was supposed to be (it was the same place I had left from to go to Vancouver in 2007). I saw the familiar lobby inside; the Greyhound girl knew little about UTA, but pointed me outside. I went and found some parked, running busses, mostly empty. Over on the road (I had become disoriented for direction) I found a bus with an awake driver inside, and went and bothered him about the lost-and-found office. He directed me right to it, on first south street, between the main street and “West Temple” street. I biked there…

    The office was to open at 9:30 a.m.. It was still around 8…

    I rode over to the Church History Library, which was also closed till 9 or so; then I decided to go pay LDSBC a visit. I had seen several students going there; many took the long trip from Provo every frozen morning. I rode there, parked my bike, and wandered around for a while. I visited the library and found that the staff hierarchy had been altered, with Anna Laura having taken Bente’s job, who had moved to the tutoring centre; Karen having retired; and a new lady, Sarah Something, a former Church History Library director, having taken Karen’s job. Upstairs at tutoring, I chatted a little with Kathy Skeen, whom I remembered. Sister Baxter was still in the religious institute office on 3, but only two or three of the old teachers remained. Bente showed up at 4 at around 8:30, and we caught back up, discussing her hesitancy toward her sudden new position. It was a very fine visit…

    With 9:30 approaching, I hurried back off to the lost-and-found office. It didn’t take long to ride there, and I ended up waiting another 15 or 20 minutes there in the cold, along with several other people who had shown up to get new monthly passes. Finally my turn came. The second worker searched the items in her office but didn’t find either my outer gloves or my inner ones, which she seemed to regret — possibly due to the gaping thumb hole that had formed in one of my inner gloves (I had two pairs that I typically wore inside each other, and both inside the outer gloves). She checked again, and came back with another black pair of gloves. It wasn’t mine, but she told me to take it anyway. I asked about their turn-over schedule; she said they kept things for two weeks, and these were already two weeks old, and ready to be donated to Deseret Industries. I considered refusing them, but remembering the chill outside, and disappointed that I probably would not be recovering my pair, I reluctantly took the inferior pair, then made my way back to the train and Provo.

    I missed the devotional that morning, but I was fortunate to meet on the bus Park Myung-Wha (as she spells it on Facebook, which I just saw by chance), a former missionary hailing from the Seoul area, here studying Japanese and… music, I think. She behaved quite friendly.

    The gloves have served me well, though I’m not yet attached to them, and indeed have failed to wash them yet, since drying them might have cost me a day of wearing them, and every day has been rather cold.

    On Thursday night, our teacher, Thanh Huynh, brought decorations and celebratory food to Vietnamese class for the new year, Tet (the T here is unaspirated, and frankly is closer to our D; don’t mispronounce it; the E is a little raised, the final T is unreleased, and the tone rises). I forgot to go to either the linguistic journal editting staff meeting, or the Students for International Development (hunger banquet) meeting that night for some reason. I found by e-mail that night that my submitted paper had been accepted by that journal for the next printing. I reviewed the paper and wished I had researched it more fully. It seems hard to get back into the research now, though I could edit it superficially without any trouble. One or two parts, at least, could be clarified… I’ll see what the assigned editor has to say about it.

    I’ve fallen behind with my school work, and have struggled over research ideas… I have several growing out of my areas of interest and some random research I did for fun earlier at BYU, but I’m wondering whether they’re any good.

    On Friday, pursuant to one idea, I visited the Cantonese 202 class again. I’d sat in for a short time on Wednesday, being referred there by Patrick, a linguistics class mate who is studying the language (he had been assigned to Hong Kong as a missionary, but ended up being re-assigned elsewhere). I was trying to get a sense for their command of tones. There were four returned missionaries from Hong Kong (excluding Patrick), a girl whose parents were from there, and a white girl who I found would be entering the MTC on Wednesday. The missionaries all had impeccable tones, and the other two were also free of errors.

    I met the white girl during class, and found that she hadn’t been well integrated with the course, but was being allowed to “sit in” since she had been called to Hong Kong. She had studied Mandarin Chinese informally for a short time. I asked her if she had met with those elders outside of class to study, and then if she wanted to stay after class with me to review some things. I was honestly very surprised that somebody wasn’t sitting there next to her explaining everything and helping her, though some had been offering sporadic translations. I knew from Mongolian 330 how impossible it was to be benefitted very much in an advanced language classroom.

    Her name was Sister Dia, an interesting name for her blonde, light complexion and local accent (she was from Lehi, she said). She seemed somewhat busy, but agreed to stay after class for a few minutes. We sat down outside the room and I reviewed what initials and vowels I could remember from Yale pingyam. I went briefly over the differences with Jyutping, since I had seen Patrick writing Zs in class, foreign to Yale — though one of the elders told me they were still happily using their superior Yale in the mission. I didn’t have time with this sister to get into very much syntax or grammar at all, but besides phonology, we did go over the tone system. I don’t know how much I helped her in such a short time, and if she hadn’t seemed busy, I would have tried to reschedule. Though she had once fallen back on the excuse that she would “learn everything in the MTC” anyway, the fact of her coming to this daily class showed that she was more thoughtful about her situation and wanted to try to gain advantage with the language. I left the appointment feeling some kind of pity toward new missionaries in general, as well as a bolstered desire to do what I could to help, and not to chase after languages just to hoard the ability to myself. I don’t think I’ve been doing that, but I certainly haven’t been helping the missionaries enough.

    From the beginning, and to the end, my desire for languages has only partially been from a love of other cultures and a love of learning. At my core has always been a hope to use languages to somehow further the cause of the Church, the cause of truth; to preach the gospel, as I was called to do… a duty I abandoned early, and have not yet fulfilled. …Even if I do fulfill that temporal remainder, our memorised mission statement was that “we pledge not only our time here, but also our lives to this cause”… I have always thought it just a little strange to see the other missionaries go home and carry on with their lives. I think none of them forgot Hong Kong, and all wished to return; many did return, and some extensively; and many have kept their mission in their hearts, and found ways to use their language… but somehow… I found it just a little… unsettling, at least for myself, to carry on with “real life” after Hong Kong. After being immersed in that incomparable, immeasurable work, intertwining eternity itself, how could we not continue it, even till the end of our days? That feeling, I think, has underlain my professed love for that continent, my persistent hunger to return, and return again… ever to return…

    God willing, I will not prove to have been a useless tool.

    Today, reminded by that sister, and spurred by a recent departmental advertisement from the MTC for help with foreign missionaries who didn’t yet speak English, I managed to get up early enough to finally, after a year or longer, return to the MTC.

    Julie Goodworth, amazingly, was still there, though she said this was her first visit in a while. She’s been going there for years… She served in 2003-2004, just after me. I think I first met her at a reunion rather than in Hong Kong, since none of our times there matched. There were also some newer volunteers, as well as new teachers: a Sister Lau whose family I had known long ago, and whom I’ve seen around BYU but haven’t ever talked to; and Kelly Chan, the younger brother of Jason Chan, whom I remember from Hong Kong, and whose grandma, Sarah Kwok, had befriended me several years ago went I attended the Salt Lake Chinese ward. I remember Kelly having come regularly to pick her up from church; I talked with him once or twice. He had been a nice lad. And now, here he was as a returned elder teaching Cantonese at the MTC… I was somehow proud of him, though he is now my peer. He said his grandmother was doing well. I remember how she kept telling me she was “100 years old”, and I strongly expected Kelly Chan to inform me of her earthly departure; I was glad to learn instead that she in fact was only in her 80s.

    On the mission, we had the dream of returning to teach at the MTC. I fell rather abruptly from such aspirations during the challenges of those days… and now, preparing to leave this school, I think the chance may be behind me. At least I’ll try to go again as a volunteer. I asked also about my other languages, but am not sure whether I will be proficient enough in them…

    After the MTC today, I came home and finished the last few pages of my Hong Kong-Korea journal. Next, I’ll go back into the Mongolian one.

    I wrote so much about Bomie in that book… From the start, I had different ideas about our connexion than she had, and that was my mistake. Today, of course, is her birthday. After reviewing all my fair, happy thoughts about old Sister Lam, I had determined to renew my yearly birth-day e-mail to her, which has stagnated for two or three years… I also decided to try to greet Bomie on her day. As I finished the book, I had nothing but good and nostalgic feelings toward the entire experience, and I came up and sent her a note.

    Now I have to finally go shopping again; I’ve been milkless for some days. At four, I will go to the Ito house, having been invited by Tatsunari to wish well his brother, Dan, whose birthday was on Wednesday, I think. At six there is the Mongolian students’ Tsagaansar get-together, and at six thirty, the Vietnamese will do the same. I’m not sure exactly when I’ll go to either. Ah… I’ll also try to go back for the first Korean hour at 3 at the MTC to get a feeling for it.

    -Steve

  4. agkcrbs says:

    So, I found that I wouldn’t be able to go shopping and make it to the MTC by 3. As it turns out, they started about as late as the Cantonese group had started, and I probably would have had time after all.

    They were a little short on volunteers, but being flabby with Korean, I agreed to join another former missionary in his room. Our elders were… Elder Gardiner, I think, and an elder named ‘W’ or something, what seemed like a Polynesian name, if I recall. I muddled through the visit with the help of my partner, Christian, he having returned 3 months ago from Taejon. I basically understood those elders, but I was pressed to be able to respond in natural Korean, and I kept mostly silent. If possible, I’ll study this week and see if I feel like going again next week.

    The MTC had been altered a little since last year, some of the front walk-ways. I saw some statues toward the centre of the complex that I didn’t remember seeing before. Also, they’re starting to finish up another building where the north-west parking lot had been.

    The two elders from Cantonese had been Elders Oberg and Palfreysman.

    In Korean, I forgot to leave at our intermission, talking instead with Christian, and was kept a little past 4 during the second part. After it ended, I hurried out to my bike and made my way through the traffic that had just exploded out of the Marriott Centre after a basketball game there, down to the Ito duplex. Many of Ito Dan’s South American friends were there, and some others. I spent a happy hour or more, then left again to go to the campus, where I am now. The Mongolian celebration was just getting started. It was mostly returned missionaries who came, and many had some very nice deel, hats, belts, and boots to wear for the occasion. It was quite special. They all greeted each other traditionally, fore-arms supporting fore-arms, and leaning in to inhale on either side of the head, reminiscent of a Latin kiss. There was buuz, aruul, and other edibles to be enjoyed… I saw Elders Bigler and Snow from Mongolia, as well as other familiar faces, some from Mongolia, some from here, and some even from LDSBC.

    After a while, I went over to the Vietnamese party. This one cost 3 dollars, while at the first, attendees had been asked to bring food dishes. There was a game, prizes, and so on hosted by a couple on a small stage at the front. The Viet class members sang their song, Qua Cau Gio Bay, from which I abstained, feigning a desire to video-record it. In fact, I was afraid it wouldn’t turn out very good. There were enough there who were practiced enough that it went over well, however. My camera battery ran out after the second of three verses.

    I saw there many of the Viet students at school. Sonya the Korean also came in somebody’s company, a girl very familiar to me but whom I had spoken to only once after Chu Seok or Seol Nal or something last year… After eating, I returned to the Mongolian venue to see if they needed any help cleaning; they didn’t.

    In sum, it was a satisfying day followed by a jubilant and very pleasing evening, surrounded by good and happy people. It’s been a good start to another year.

    Happy new year.

    -Steve

  5. agkcrbs says:

    Yesterday, I returned to the Orem transit centre to check the lost-and-found office. The woman there very helpfully checked over what seemed to be an inventory, and also went and checked a clost in the other room, where I assume the objects were stored. She found nothing. She allowed me to use the phone there to call the Salt Lake office, but the call resulted in nothing. With some resignation, I left…

    UTA has been extremely helpful to me in this thing, and they have my good impression. I think I have typically been pleased with UTA as a company — decidedly not with their passengers, though.

    As I left, I decided that either those rowdy kids themselves had taken my gloves as they left, or one of the few who left that bus after me claimed them. There is always the chance that the driver needed a good pair of gloves, or even the cleaner… My solace is that those very nice gloves are surely being used by somebody.

    The weather is gradually warming. There’s some possibility that I may not need gloves again for a long time…

    I took a free, practice Graduate Record Examination (GRE) yesterday, and seemed to do some what well — the instructions called for two hours, but I only spent one — but the scores turned out were slightly lower than I had expected. The test only included the “Verbal” and “Quantitative” sections, not the newer writing section. I was given 610 for the first and 640 for the second (though the percentile was notably higher for the first, showing, I presume, that the examinees typically are a lot better at the math than the English). I surely would do better with some preparation. Today I compared those scores with the admission averages for post-graduate programs provided on-line by BYU. What I found was that those accepted to science programs, on average, out-did me on the math, but faltered a bit on the verbal portion. The humanities programs, the few I checked, were the reverse; they were behind me in math, and either close to me or a little above me with the English. An exception was the TESOL program, filled as it is with international students, whose verbal scores were significantly lower for obvious reasons.

    On the other hand, I wasn’t competitive with any of them in terms of average GPA… The web-site says mine currently is 2.98, below the 3.3 minimum and 3.5-6 averages for those programs. I’m glad, any way, that I can still perform reasonably on tests. I took a fun one with Inkyum some weeks ago containing mostly spatial/pattern-perception tasks, and number tasks. I did quite well on it, but who can judge its reliability? I always view these things as games, any way, and have never related well with reports of people having difficulties taking tests, or hurting themselves psychologically from them. A test is a test; you have to possess a pretty unholy mental construct to think that it some how defines your worth.

    But, if I had always shown poorly on tests, would I not have developed the same dislike of them? Maybe so. I’ve become a little distant from sports and things for a similar reason, perhaps — that I couldn’t stand not winning, but at the same time, I couldn’t always win. I wasn’t the best… and, while convinced of my own capacity, I don’t devote myself to such things as much as is required.

    So, I guess academic test-takers should think the same… “I -can- do well, if I study. If I do poorly, it reflects only my preparation, not my ability.” But then, seeing that tests requiring much “preparation” are biased from the out-set, testing studiousness over innate talent, we also need to consider the worth of that preparation. The best and truest tests, the ones that most clearly reflect a person’s reality at any given time, are those taken without warning, and without any unusual or intensive preliminary study. So then, if it’s honester to take tests cold, and at the same time, testing cold shows only immediate, functional skill rather than underlying capacity or potential, we are freed from needing to give too much credit to tests, and can treat them as the sport they are.

    Today, feeling out-of-sorts in the morning, I have missed class.

    -Steve

    -Oh. I met Miyamoto Mai again yesterday. She may come to eat again later. My birthday greeting was also responded to today.

  6. Maple Leaf says:

    Last night, I was using my computer and trying to prepare something for work tomorrow. I suddenly had a thought of how have you been doing lately. Maple Leaf was the name you have given me. Since we were no longer friends on facebook, I typed in your old nickname agkcrbs on yahoo. I realized that you were married. I was sad at one point. Didn’t this guy tell not to find him if I have a thought of marrying him linger in my mind? I was not intelligeInt to not to be deceived.

    I told the one who slept beside me yesterday I was not feeling alright, then I told him about you. And you were right…..everything from the beginning was just an illusion. Illusion I have created in my mind. I am sorry that I have interrupted your life with all of the girls you had. I was too innocent.

    • agkcrbs says:

      Thank you for expressing yourself; I welcome it. I hope you don’t think I still blame you for anything, since I was the more mistaken one. I only want to remember the good. You had a wonderful influence on me that I wouldn’t trade.

  7. Maple Leaf says:

    Thanks! After these few days, you did the correct decision, completely block me out of your life ever since I am gone to Hong Kong. If you ever care about as you have said….thanks! I hope your marriage is not all about keeping a girl or fulfilling a desperated woman’s just to be married dream.

  8. Maple Leaf says:

    Sorry! I did not realize the blood is still dripping…..I think it is better off for us not to talk to each other—- so I will not realize the dark side of my soul and you would still pretend I have a wonderful influence on you. Perhaps one day, we see each other. It is better not to say hi. Oh wait! You never bother!

    • agkcrbs says:

      The feelings don’t go away easily, do they? It’s not so much that I made the correct choice not to contact you; I’m just a lazy and slow responder sometimes. I don’t really say ‘hi’ to old friends any more. I only ever cut you on Facebook because you were tied to that Korean girl I blamed my unhappiness on, but I’ve moved past that by now. I already felt my pain for hurting you, on a sidewalk in Coquitlam one night; since then, I have no wish to see you unhappy at all, and am hopeful of having a healthful friendship. If we can do that by talking more, or not talking, or whatever, just say so.

  9. Maple Leaf says:

    Sorry! From the beginning, I was only a fool to disturb myself. I was accepted into BYU PhD program— I called and called you. No one was at home. I wanted to share the joy and maybe my final fantasy to finally to be spend more time together and your plan to be here in HK in 2007

    I was just a fool and you were too lazy at the beginning to be a friend. I hope you will not mess up your marriage.

    And by your laziness, I conclude with one sentence you never care about me. You just come and pick up whosoever is convinent to you.

  10. Maple Leaf says:

    By the way, do not reply any of my comment. I have been playing the role as my husband’s wife so well in these two years. I do not want to recall I still love you or anything I have done to get you to pay attention on me.

    I wish you luck in being somebody’s else husband. Overall, after Sister Lam, Eunhee, Bomie and Tugsuu…. I am just a complete fool.

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