Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pumpkin carving is fun

With friends, that is.

Friday, October 26, 2007

More on H

For the story background, read this. To say I am disappointed with her comments is a gross understatement.

Her *interesting* quotes (from our MSN conversation):

a. On how I am like in her mind:

When discussing about her views on marriage, I typed in wah lau.

H says: don't wah lau me leh... so bengish, so not you. I got the feel you are pretty cultured, refined and poised, don't prove me wrong ok?

b. On why I am still single:

H says:
high standards or only want to find after your studies when you have established your career? or worse not interested? But you seem quite eligible, maybe you don't target people but pple target you and you not keen? hehe

c. On my accent:

H says:
I am interested to hear you slang but not use singlish. (inserts mouth-zipping MSN icon)

tk says:
I don't speak with a slang. Sorry

H says:
oops, ok. Just kidding , no hard feelings.

A reader comments:

You attract all the high class wannabes...hokkien must be so uncouth in her mind..

It is a wonder she is not choosing some (rich) white guy to be her prospective husband. I also wonder what she thinks of Black and Latino slang. But the polite me just kept quiet.

Imagine if she knows the title of this blog. *Laughs sardonically*

Motivational Posters

These are two of my favorites. More can be found here and here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Competition vs Collaboration in Academia

Found from YoungFemaleScientist - a classic case of what can happen when a fresh PhD/post doc interviews for his/her first faculty position.

The hardest part of a faculty job search for any candidate is to define the area of research he/she wants to get into. For obvious reasons, you cannot expect to continue to work on what you did for your PhD. That would mean direct competition with your advisor, and chances are you will lose. After all, he/she is the one with the stature and prestige, and you are the Apprentice.

So most people would try to do one or two post docs to gain expertise in different area(s), before starting their careers as junior faculty. The hope is that they can combine them to do novel research in a hybrid field.

But sometimes when the field gets too crowded, the Assistant Professors, being at the lowest rung of the academic professoriate, get the shaft.


Which is why I have seen many of my peers/classmates/groupmates, some with multiple national/college awards for their research/publications, quit academia and leave for the industry after their PhD.

The pay is much better, even if the competitive nastiness remains the same.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Auto Theft in Arizona

I had been hit once (thankfully not the whole vehicle), and today an emergency alert came out from the company. Some buggers actually succeeded in stealing the cars/trucks from the parking lot in spite of increased security patrols.


Crime Statistics from the NICB. 4 states, all in the West, topped the list for 2006.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Questions my folks will definitely ask

In all of my conversations with my folks about the girl(s) I am/was seeing, several questions are always at the tip of their tongues:

"Where is she from? Where did she do her college/Grad School? What does her family do?"

If the girl is Singaporean - "Which JC and secondary school? Is she a scholar?"

Machiam like going for job interview. Very predictable.

I wonder where I will stand if gauged by my prospective bride's family in future. I hope I can pass.

This can very well apply to some Singaporean families too.

Parents draw up a list of suitable suitors for their daughters, and dinners are arranged for the prospective couples to meet. Drawing up this list of suitors is demanding: family backgrounds are investigated to determine if their status would match. Education, wealth, criminal records, political positions, and extraordinary talents are fair game for judging a prospective. This research extends not just to the suitor, but to his entire family. It is a marriage of families, not just of individuals. - Oikono, on the Korean marriage process


For Indian Hindus there's the caste system, which operates very similarly when it comes to marriage between two persons families.

Saturday, October 20, 2007



In Taiwan, they call BBWs "恐龙". My co-worker is the first Chinese guy amongst my friends to prefer full-figured women to slim Asian beauties.

He likes bah bah ones. Such guys are known as "龙骑士".

Imagine my horror when he said she is too stick thin!

Your dressing reminded me of DHS girls' uniform, and RGS' too.

Different guys, different preferences.

Reader comments:

agrainofsand: eh, dhs uniform will not look like that. The skirt is way too short. haha

tk says:
hahah. eh, my time got girls' skirts THAT short, and Mr Kiw will always call them to the office.

agrainofsand says:
that's not representative

tk says: then yours? ankle length? LOL

agrainofsand says:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

All the great stuffs about Arizona

These are all so true. From the winter tempests of the Upper Midwest to the scorching summer heat of the Sonoran Desert, I can say I have endured (and survived!) temperature extremes from both ends.

You notice your car overheating before you drive it.

You no longer associate bridges or rivers with water.

You can hear the weather forecast of 115 degrees without flinching.

You can be in the snow, then drive for an hour...and it will be over 100 degrees.

You discover, in July it only takes two fingers to drive your car, because your steering wheel is so hot.

The best parking is determined by shade.....not distance.

You realize that "Valley Fever" isn't a disco dance.

You can make sun tea instantly.

Hotter water comes from the cold water tap than the hot one.

It's noon in July, kids are on summer vacation and yet all the streets are totally empty of both cars and people.

You actually burn your hand opening the car door.

Sunscreen is sold year round and kept right at the checkout counter.

You put on fresh sunscreen just to go check the mail box.

Some fools will market mini-misters for joggers and some other fools will actually buy them. Worse.....some fools actually try to jog.

You can pronounce Saguaro, Tempe, San Xavier, Canyon de Chelly, Mogollon Rim, Cholla, Gila and Tucson.

You can understand the reason for a town named "Why", or "Tombstone".

You can fry an egg on the hood of a car in the morning.

You see more irrigation water on the street than there is in the Salt River.

You hear people say "but it's a dry heat!"

All of your out-of-state friends start to visit after October but clear out come the end of April.

You think someone driving wearing oven mitts is clever.

Your house is made of stucco and has a red clay tile roof.

Vehicles with open windows have the right-of-way in the summer.

Kids ask, "What's a mosquito?"

People who have black cars or black upholstery in their car are automatically assumed to be from out of-state or nuts.

You know better than to get into a car with leather seats if you're wearing shorts.

You can finish a Big Gulp in 10 minutes and go back for seconds.

The temperature drops below 95, you feel a bit chilly.

You've lived in AZ for a long time but you have never been to the Grand Canyon.

You can attend any function wearing shorts and a T-shirt/tank top.

You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.

You realize that snowbirds aren't really birds at all, but just really bad out of state drivers that you learn to hate

There are only two temperatures, hot and hotter

Even thinking about not having air conditioning makes you sweat

You travel out of state and any sort of humidity nearly kills you

*You have no idea why 48 other states (Hawaii doesn't do it either) insist on changing their clocks twice a year for this thing called "daylight savings time".

Fall colors of Northern Arizona

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Singaporean Husband Hunter

If I can put a (monetary/economic) value on myself for the dating/marriage market, what will it be? Not as exaggerated as this (Hell no, I am just a technologist), but the concept is similar.

I have a profile (complete with picture) in one of the most (in)famous Singaporean online dating sites. Sometimes I get responses from interested ladies asking to be friends. But this one is amongst the most direct and upfront takes the cake. This was only our first MSN conversation! Seems like she shares many of my interests too!

Does true love still exist? Or is everything measured in terms of accomplishments, job titles, schools attended, geographical locations?


It started off with her email to me: "Hi, saw your profile on (the website). I would like to make more friends. I hope to hear from you."

Then to MSN

HH says:
May I ask you something on your (web) profile?

tk says:
sure, go ahead.

H says:
is it impt that your partner possess all the qualities that u have listed there?

tk says:
haha, of course not. Doubt such a girl exists

H says:
oh so you wrote it for fun?

tk says:
i wrote the qualities i hope my partner will have, but i am realistic enough to know that it is not possible for her to have all of it.

H says:
yeah, but i'm sure that is a certain value that you value most right?

tk says:
not sure, i don't really impose anything. It's not rigid.

H says:
I love playing Bridge.... its a great game...

tk says:
spore stye or contract bridge style?

H says:
not sure what type, my first contact with it was in Australia. what's the difference?
very intelligent game.

tk says:
card counting;

H says:

tk says:
your profile is interesting. Unique.

H says:
in what sense?

tk says:
honest, sincere, loads of useful info. Many others simply list ... the mundane stuffs

H says:
yeah, what is in there is what I am.... no doubts about it. I am looking for the one, to be honest.

tk says:
so do we have mutual friends?

H says:
I am prepared to forgo my career at the moment..

tk says:
how impt is career to you?

H says:
what do you think judging from my profile? do you think I went JC? Judging from your profile, I guess we do not have mutual friends.

tk says:
haha. why do you say that? What does my profile say that is implied?

H says:
yup it is? certain feel about your profile that's all

tk says:
i went to JC. yupz

H says:
i bet you were from RJC

tk says:
hahahha. why????

H says:
not sure, just a feel. I am not good in my studies. so that answers your question, I can't be in the top JCs. I am looking for someone who is very accomplished in their chosen field but is humble about it. you fit the bill

tk says:
i dun think i am accomplished

H says:
no worries! Do you think u make a good partner then? If the gal is willing to move with you, what will you do to ensure the smooth transition?

tk says:
get settled?Get to know the pple in the neighborhood as the first step to integration.

tk says:
so far, i still think career should be number 1 priority. For me lah

H says:
okay, if this is your choice, stick to it.... and make it clear to your parents.... settle down late....for guys it should not be an issue

tk says:
unless i can get the girl to move with me to the US

H says:
you will be free once you make you decision. I believe there are gals who are willing to relocate.

tk says:
not many sg girls i know want to relocate

H says:
I'm pretty optimistic

tk says:

H says:
hmm, I don't know what's your view? but I believe in setting my family right before pursuing my career. its psychological, you need support as a human.... what best way to get other than your spouse, right?

tk says:
sometimes u don't have that option. Then how? Go around searching for the one while your career stagnates?


Quotable (reinforcing the stereotypes):

But one woman in her mid-20s applauded the husband hunter's candor on

It's "not about the money, and it is not a matter of materialism," she wrote. "Rather, it provides an umbrella under which many other qualities seem to fall: premium educational background, high level of motivation, a family who raised the man well (and therefore good genes and similar breeding) and a socio-economic background that reflects your own."

...As coldhearted as it seems, the Craigslist plea reflects the "functional relationship" between many men and women, said Bassil, who wrote the book "From the Bar to the Bedroom."

"Women are attracted to ambition, and that translates into security with high earning power," said Bassil. "Men value looks and beauty and equate the relationship with how good-looking their women are."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Clearing the air about Grad School Funding

I initially wanted to title this post "ai pee, ai chee, ai tua liap nee" but decided not to since there are really some folks who are not exactly clear about the funding situation for graduate studies in US universities. They assume automatically that all admitted PhD hopefuls will be offered full financial support (tuition and living expenses) from their first day in school. Unfortunately, this is NOT the case. It varies from university to university, even within departments in the same institution.

For all purposes, my comments will be restricted only to the engineering and science majors.

1. Not all departments/schools will pay for your first year (or semester/quarter) of grad school. If you are unlucky with your classes/quals/adviser selection, be prepared to pay into your second year. The most likely reason is that the department is poor, even if individual professors may have plenty of research funds. Most first year grad students are not assigned to a research group.

The department is also unwilling to commit funds to someone who may not pass his/her quals or get an adviser (if they admitted too many applicants). Such a student will most likely be asked to leave either at the end of the first year or second. Read this. (Stanford is notorious for admitting too many and using quals to sift the chaff from the wheat.)

2. Because of 1, some departments require that a professor admit the applicant into his/her research group first (unofficially) before offering him/her formal admission to the university.

3. There are also departments which use full-paying grad students as cash cows, usually dumping them 1 or 2 years later with a Masters. Sad, but true.

When I applied to graduate school, I avoided those which do not provide funding for 1st years, or for students who are undecided about the prof they want to work for. I did not want to restrict my choice to a particular faculty before knowing all my options, and asking my folks for more money was out of the question. I was glad I did.


This is a reader's email to me that triggered this entry:

The apparent problem is funding for 1st year of doctoral studies.

Grad school admits international students in a different way. They DO look at financial support. Both Caltech and UCSD look at grad sch (applicant) favorably if the candidate mentions in his application that he has applied for fellowships in their own country. My guess is that they will offer admission but no support (just like the admission I obtained earlier this year from Oxford... admission with no support)

My understanding is that professors usually funds the student (using their external grants) from 2nd year onwards after they have settled in their labs (during the 1st year, students usually do rotations ... thus not committed to 1 lab). One of my classmate in berkeley said that international students will be admitted if they come with ready funding. ... she was funded by the professor in berkeley right from the start.. For john hopkins, the department funds all 1st year students irrespective of nationalities... this is markedly different from all other schools - where funding situation for 1st year international students are left hanging in the air.

So my question is : how to get admitted (even if I am outstanding) if the admission system does not cater for international students to be funded? My understanding is that the department's funds for 1st year students come from federal grants which are only admissable to US citizens.

Ai pee, ai chee, ai tua liap nee! There are other top schools which provide funding to all admitted students, for your case, BME. Anyway, if you have been working for a few years after your Bachelors, you would have some savings. Since you are really keen on several particular departments, what is one year of tuition and fees compared to the potential payoffs for the rest of your (professional) life?