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Day 12 November 17, 2012

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Went to karaoke with some friends. For the moment it’s helping but i know when i wake up I’ll feel the same sadness all over again. I’m sorry. So sorry.

New URL August 30, 2009

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Please follow me and the blog over at http://devilsx.net . Dedicated hosting and personal domain name, woot. All the posts have been moved over so no worries about losing your comments. See you there!

The final days… August 26, 2009

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In 5 weeks I will depart for Japan. Amidst the stress, the anxiety, the excitement, I’ve come to discover a lot of things about myself that I wasn’t aware of before. I’ve always been a resilient person, but I never knew to what extent that resilience is capable of reaching. I almost gave up, I almost lashed out when problems arose. But like the baby turtles fighting the waves trying to reach the sea of the unknown and begin life, I feel that this is where life truly begins for me. Not only because I’ll be alone in a new place, not only am I adapting to a new culture, learning a language for the first time, but…of the possibilities that await me. Back here at home, I’ve always wanted to go back in time, I’ve always hated the presence because of the mistakes I’ve made that led me here. Now…rather than being able to go back, I am granted the chance to move forward and leave everything behind, especially the past that has continued to haunt me. No skeletons in the closet or anything of that sort, but immeasurable sense guilt coupled with regrets and disappointments because of the choices I’ve made. That, in itself, is a blessing for me. And before I continue, I would like to apologize for the nature of this post, and most importantly, to apologize to all those who have seen me fallen, failed, and given up. I will not disappoint you again, and I will make this journey. Further more, I would like to thank all those who have seen me through this whole ordeal and still stick with me despite my fallacies. The counselors at school, the doctors, the teachers, the friends, my family, and the one person who has left the biggest impression in my life. Thank you for those heart-shaped bills. Thank you for the push (and pull) that eventually inspired me to continue my education, you knew my potentials, and now I will show you that I can do with them. I may  not be able to tell you happy birthday directly, so I’ll tell the world that September 2nd is the birth of an angel. Thank you for the wings.

More to come,
Tri “Zeke” Cao

Google, Plane, and Japan July 30, 2009

Posted by devilsx in Preparation.
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So…after finding out that I got the student loan as indicated in the previous post, I went and talk to the head of the Foreign Language department. The deal was in order to qualify for that loan, I would have to be enrolled at least half time through my college. This in itself presented a problem since there is no way I can take classes AND be in Japan at the same time. I can’t even do online courses since I will miss the final exam due to my program in Japan is longer than the semester here at home. So…after pulling some strings and getting pressured by my boss [the head advisor for the Study Abroad office], the FL department’s head finally convinced the dean to allow me to register for a class that does not exist in order for me to get pass the loophole. That is one thing out of the way.

Today, I just booked my flight to Japan flying United Airlines/All Nippon Airways [yay for cute attendants]. At $812, it is super super cheap. I guess flying durnig off season when the global economy is a pile of crap does have its advantage. So right now everything is SET for my flight, pending my importation of super expensive and illegal drugs.

And when I finally got home, I got the final confirmation letter asking for references in order to get the loan. Luckily, through my dad, I am acqainted with several PhD toting folks who are involved in non-profit organizations that are very well known. So…hurray for knowing people. This whole process of going to Japan has been about knowing people and being nice when needed. Knowing how to carry yourself is very important in life. Oh, on that note, I was late for my final exam, and after asking me if I was drunk, the teacher allowed me to take it with his next class. I don’t think he likes me very much but I was very lucky he didn’t fail me for pulling that stunt. I know that I have a guaranteed A with a B/A borderline, my GPA wilgo up high enough in order to re-qualify for an additional $500 scholarship that will really help me out on this trip, IF I get it.

Lastly, I finally got Google Voice :D. It is a very useful thing, you should check it out and see if it can help you out. I will decide later if I want to post my new number online :). With that, I shall enjoy my dinner.

Until next time,
Zeke

Another step closer… July 25, 2009

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So today after wasted money an on Asian festival that I thought would be cool, going to kendo practice and bled all over the floor, and then more money on nasty Chinese buffet [I’m not hating on Asian-related stuff here, just a coincidence], I came home to find a letter waiting for me. Actually, it was buried under my pile of other letters and I nearly missed it, but…my student loan went through, which translates to a total of about $6000 including extra scholarships/grants. You know what? I am getting my ass on that plane to J-land, and no one can stop me [except the flu and JP customs]. So…that was the highlight for today. I am very happy now and so I will go to sleep and savor that feeling. 3 hours of sleep last night didn’t work too well. On one last note, what do you think of the Samsung NC10? I’m thinking of getting it for my stay in Japan since without it you guys won’t have a blog to read. Please send any recommendation/information you may have. Thanks!

Money for Japan

Money for Japan

Zeke

久しぶりだね July 21, 2009

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It’s been a while. I’ve been super busy with school and work. I have one week left of school then I should be free to work on this blog and study my Japanese. I just paid the remaining tuition for the school [it hurts]. Just when I thought things were going well enough, another problem came up: I tested positive for latent Tuberculosis. Doctor said I probably picked it up during my trip to Vietnam last year. While there is like 5% chance I’ll develop active TB, they are playing it safe and putting me on 2 pills per day for 9 months straight. That by itself isn’t a big issue for me, but the fact that I have to import such a large quantity of drugs into Japan for the duration of my stay is a major hassle. I have the options of purchasing the drugs there, but I don’t know if my insurance will cover overseas treatment. Another issue is the availablity of the drugs that I need to take. I don’t want to deal with all of that there. The best 2 options would be to do a 2-week process of snail-mailing back and forth an Import Report of Medication form so that the Japanese Ministry of Health can send me back a permit allowing me to bring the drugs into Japan without me being harassed at the airport. The other option is to bring only the allowable amount (about 1 month’s suppy) and have my family ship the rest while I’m there. I’ve gone too far to quit now but it’s really discouraging how things always come up at the last minute and kick me in the face. In any case, I’ll just rely on an old saying I used to throw around: “Nothing worth doing is ever easy.”

So right now the plan is to leave around October 5th, and return on January 1st [which falls on December 31st back here in the US] so that I can party hard TWICE. The only thing left that is undetermined is my loan process. If my school does not send me anything in a week I will go directly to the bank and request a private loan. After that I can book the flight and just wait. One last thing: I am going to set up something along the line of $5 for a post card, and $7 for a souvenier. This is purely a “I need to feed myself” tactic, no gimmicks and pyramid scheme and all that junk [ I swear :)]. This can be done via PayPal or in person if you see me before then. I can probably accept a check but please contact me to work it out. Just be sure I have it before I leave if it’s in person, or before December if via PayPal so I have time to get stuff for you. I hope that’s not too much to ask, and thank you so much for the support, even if you just continue reading this :).

Until next time,
Zeke

Meeting Japanese Consul-General June 23, 2009

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I had a great opportunity to meet the Japanese Consul General for my region last week. He was giving a speech on Japan’s place in the world, economic status, etc. Unfortunately I missed the speech because I was in class at the time, at a different campus. I also thought that I was not going to be able to go, but it turned out they were having a reception afterward.  I managed to arrive on time and met my other friend there as well. My friend has been to Japan and attended the same language school that I would be at this Fall, and he is pretty much the reason I decided to attend that same school. We both were ushered by the staff to speak to the Consul General because apparently we were the only two people whose Japanese were adequate enough to hold a conversation :P. Everything went well from then, we had delicious lunch (brunch for me) consisting off sushi (more like fake California rolls), REAL yakiniku (yakitori, steak, and shrimp on sticks), and yakisoba with chicken. Everything came from a pretty high end Japanese restaurant here (Nori Nori). I was told by the Consul General that I looked Japanese, which was a highly appreciated and unexpected compliment. It’s not the first time I was told that, and I hope it serves me well in Japan. We shared small talks about his time in Japan (grew up in the Kansai area, went to Kyoto for college), coming to America (studied law and received diplomatic training at Harvard), and then receiving his current not too long ago. I asked if he had any plans to return to Japan, and he said that he wanted to, but because his kids have been here for a while, they might not fit in well once they return (even Japanese can be gaijin to their own people). I completely understand that aspect. Overall he seemed like a nice guy, and I managed to get a photo taken with him and my friend. Sorry for the bad quality, I had to scan it with my crappy scanner. Will try to have a better version up later.

Japanese Consul-General

Japanese Consul-General

Summer Cleaning June 14, 2009

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I decided that my room needed some rearranging. My “digital Feng Shui” was what I really wanted, and my room feels cluttered and hard to move around in. Previously I had a L-shaped corner desk sitting pretty much in the middle of the room, since I don’t have any usable corner. The main reason I got it was to improve productivity and having often used items in close reach. I soon realized all I ever do is be a packrat and just let stuff pile up on my desk until I can barely see anything anymore. So..I decided to break apart the L and just line the 2 sides up against the wall, which now leaves me a nice empty spot in the middle of the room, with desks and bed lining the walls. The future plan is to get rid of my bed and desks all together and just have a low profile/coffee table for my monitors, and then a projector screen on the wall as a TV. I want to make the floor tatami, if not then at least hardwood. That way I can just use a futon and sleep. Currently I have share a bunk bed with my brother and I’m on the top bunk. My close proximity to the ceiling seem to mess up my sleep, as all that air has no room to circulate. In addition, all the hot air is just stuck there and I hate heat. Lately I’ve been sleeping on the couch downstairs and it has been helping.

New desk configuration.

New desk configuration.

Summer cleaning leaves my floor missing.

Summer cleaning leaves my floor missing.

Kendo and Politic June 14, 2009

Posted by devilsx in Martial Arts.
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When I signed up for Kendo I had no idea how complicated it would be. It seems the governing body had some disagreement between themselves and one of the sensei’s. That particular sensei wanted to split and start his own dojo, but he seemed to have taken control the group’s financial asset and also the registered name of the group. In short, he became a dictactor and tried to make everyone loyal to him and if they did not agree they cannot practice anymore. This goes against the original bylaws that were written when the organization was formed, and it was not a decision endorsed by the rest of the board members as well as the general members. I just only joined recently, about a month and half, so I had no idea what was going on, and when they brought a lawyer to the class and started talking about the issue I was pretty shocked and had a bad feeling about it. The spark that blew everything up happened when we had to sign a waiver form stating that we know the dangers of this sport (full contact) and if we have any injuries due to practicicing, the facility is not held liable (we rent space/time at a fitness club to practice). The defiant sensei supposedly made a scene by intimidating the other members and saying that by signing the contract they risk facing litigations and lawsuits. So then the organization’s lawyer and one of the other board members told the defiant sensei and his “followers” that since we have a contract with this facility and since they are no longer affiliated with this organization and refusing to sign the liability form, they must leave the premesis or the police will be involved. So after that we carried on with the class. After the class ended, I was talking to one of the board members and he explained more about the situation. I found out that the Yon-dan (crazy sensei) had an issue with a lot of other sensei’s, one of whom was a Hachi-dan, causing the Hachi-dan to quit and went back to Japan. The crazy Yon-dan also did lot like that the current dojo is being led by a  female instructor. So…just when things couldn’t get more complicated, couple of the folks who were barred from practicing because they did not sign the waiver and/or  follow the direction of the seceeded Yon-dan called the police on us. We looked out the door and a police car drove up and those two ran to him and started talking, pointing at us. The the cop walked in and we braced for it. He asked us what’s going on and we told him exactly what we explained to everyone earlier. The facility manager also came and said that we are the legitimate party. The cop understood and went outside to explained and I suppose they all left. Afterward we all went out to eat pizza and talked more about the issue and how will the dojo be run from now on. I did not like being in a situation like this where I have to make allegiance to one party over another, I am only loyal to Kendo with the understanding that Kendo is not exclusive, it’s about the art itself, respect for the sensei and other kendoka’s, without silly bureaucratic mess such as this.  Oh well, it was yet another interesting day at Kendo class. Until next time.

The Beginning June 5, 2009

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This story may start out typical, but I hope by the end, it will be one that is unique only to me.

The first encounter I had with Japanese culture was reading Dragon Ball, Sailormoon, and Doraemon, to name a few. I had a knack for drawing at the time, so I started sketching the characters in those stories. It remained a hobby throughout my childhood. As I immerse myself in the world that is manga, I had some silly but amusing ideas. Since Doraemon loves Dorayaki, a popular pastry snack in Japan, I soon developed a craving for it as well, and I would ask my father to get me some next time he comes to visit [I was born in Vietnam, and due to circumstances irrelevant to this story, my father was staying in the US for the better part of my life there]. Naturally, he was clueless as to what I was talking about, and thought I was referring to a hamburger or something of the sort [dorayaki does look sort of like one].

Doraemon Japan Fund Piggy Bank

Doraemon Japan Fund Piggy Bank

Skipping forward to when I finally arrived in the US. Over here, I was bombarded with more Japanese stuff, and I was completely overwhelmed! And yes, I admit, I took the Pokemon bait, hook, sinker, the whole thing! I found other [read: better] anime, manga, and most of all, I found out about Japan as a separate entity from anime, something most of my friends can’t comprehend/accept.

Since the anime thing runs in the family, my sister also has her shares of obsessions, from which she found the motivation to teach herself Japanese, specifically the hiragana/katakana. This was fascinating to me, realizing that there is more to know about Japan than what I’ve been accustomed to. After I started college, I decided to take a stab at Japanese class offered at my school. After making an A in Elementary Japanese 1001 [and a B in English, how ironic], I was motivated to continue onward. That is when the real challenge began.

Since the campus where I took Japanese 1001 was not having the next level the following semester due to the teacher leaving on the study abroad trip to Japan, I was forced to transfer to another campus to continue learning, fearing that if I take a break I would be too distracted to regain the momentum. Unbeknownst to me, the other campus used a completely different textbook [a much better one as  found out later]. Going from the first book to this new book was like learning to crawl then immediately become an olympic runner. Needless to say, I felt stupid in the new class. But as time went on, I managed to catch up, and this past semester I finished Japanese 2002, the highest level offered at my school [with an A at that :D]. During the midst of all this, I found myself making friends with the folks at the study abroad office, who guided and encouraged me to take part on my own study abroad trip.

After much procrastination and dealing with other things in life, I finally applied and got accepted.

Almost there!

Almost there!

So here I am, updating my preparation as I go along. This will be it for now, as I just got off work and need to rest. Until next time!