Sunday, 31 January 2016

Transcosmos Essay Contest

Hey everyone!! I just came back from Tokyo, where the Transcosmos Project was held. (By the way, thanks for the best wishes +Jim Gorycki !). I'm really, really happy to say that...

WE GOT SECOND PLACE!!

It's really a result that we weren't expecting, because the judges seemed quite distracted during our presentation, plus we had to rethink our entire essay in one night. What happened was this (narrated entirely in third person, just because):

Friday, 7:00am 

Eustacia wakes up, thinking that this is going to be a fairly normal day, albeit one with less sleep.

2:50pm

We start the sub-zemi.

6:00pm

The teacher leaves. Our presentation was deemed 'really bad', so we start rethinking the entire thing. Along the way, there's a very, very long digression into the stuff that we should have gotten down in the beginning of the project, because Eustacia accidentally said something that made her teammates think that they weren't on the same page.

10:30pm

Eustacia hears that it's forecasted to snow and takes a break to rush home, get heattech, eat her first meal of the day (she had a headache, so... not much appetite), and then go back.

Looking at the clock.. I took this at either 2:30 or 3:30. Everyone still working hard.
Saturday 6:00am

Eustacia heads for the airport. Everyone boards the plane for Haneda, and Eustacia... you know what, third person is feeling more and more awkward. Back to first. So basically, I was really tired but I wanted some juice, so I'm not actually sure if I slept. I remember getting the juice, and I remember closing my eyes, but I also remember the sun being irritating so...

I may or may not have slept.

I did see the Hello Kitty Airplane though

1:30pm

The competition starts.

Transcosmos headquarters
We were actually the last group to present, and as you can guess, that made us really, really nervous. And since I was the one taking photos, I had to let go of the camera for once. Our topic was on "The Effects of Artificial Intelligence on Digital Marketing", and our title turned out to be "Digital Marketing and Disintermediation in the age of the IoT: What should Amazon do?"


And against the odds...

SECOND PLACE

I don't think I'll get tired of saying that, because we really, really didn't expect to win anything. Our presentation was pretty far from the topic after all.


After the competition, we went to a restaurant for dinner and small talk (which was really interesting), and after that, my zemi had our own party. I checked in to the hotel around 11:30, and pretty much hit the hay right after I took a bath and dried my hair. 

Apart from that... I didn't really do much in Tokyo. I did go to Magnolia bakery today, before I went on the plane, but I'm still photographing/eating the food, so that will be a post for later.

By the way, can you believe today is the last day of January?!?!!?

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Coldest Day This Year/Visit to JSDF Camp

It's really cold today!! I woke up and it was supposed to be minus two degrees or something like that! No wonder I didn't feel warm even with the heater on. All I wanted to do was to stay under my heated blanket and sleep.

And it basically snowed on and off today, which, coupled with the subzero temperatures, meant that the snow didn't melt. It means we have scenes like this:

Near Muromi Station
 and this:
Church :D 
While people like my brother might be very happy (and he asked me to go play with the snow while on FaceTime), I'm sufficiently old and have too little energy to keep warm. I spent the day just shivering in my clothes.

At least it's an excuse to run a hot bath! Hopefully tomorrow clears up.

Visit to Japan Self Defence Forces (JSDF) Camp

On to warmer topics. On Friday, which was a 3-9 degrees day (and which sounds absolutely warm by today's standards), my sub-zemi went on a field trip to a JSDF camp!! The first time I've ever been to one too, so I was pretty excited.

Except about the having to wear a suit part. Good thing suits have a pants version for ladies, so I could wear my heat-tech tights underneath.

The first part of the visit was a lecture on Japan's Peace Keeping Operations. Since the current active mission is the one in South Sudan, that was the case study. As someone who used to do MUN, I found this really interesting, and it brought up the old "do PKOs/UN resolutions help?" question that I used to have (after realising how little resolutions actually do). But the JSDF do a lot of humanitarian work - road building, training, etc, which is really cool.

The second part was the fun part! We got to go see some equipment, THEN TRY ARMY RATIONS!! No photos allowed for the most part, but we were allowed to take photos of the food.

By the way, do you know the SDJF has a vehicle-like thing that can cook rice and soup? So cool!

Beef Stew Packet
They actually gave us a variety of rations + onigiri, so we could try a bunch of stuff. Kinda fun, like a picnic :D

This was some sort of rice. And the smaller container was pickles!

So apparently all the food was really high in calories, which makes sense cause they need the energy. And the flavour is stronger, which actually suits me better, because Singaporean here hahahaha. The food was honestly very good, and I wouldn't mind having a few packets lying around the house. But according to the soldiers, you can get sick of this after eating it for many days straight, especially if you have to eat it cold!

Beef Stew
The last, and final part of the tour was a lecture on the budget of the JSDF and how they work in general. The last time I was in a similar tour was when we went to see the Officer Cadet School in Singapore, and we definitely did not get to hear about the inner workings.

Not too sure what this had to do with telecommunications (my zemi topic), but it was a super interesting trip all the same.

Now, I really, really hope there's no more snow when I step out of the house tomorrow, because I have to be in school for first period.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Slow Motion Snow

It started snowing yesterday (and here I was, thinking Fukuoka would be warmer and escape the brunt of winter, since it's South). Unfortunately, school wasn't cancelled. But I did try to take a picture of the snow, and I quite liked how the slow-mo looked, so I thought I'd share.



That's about it. I have nothing more to share.

As always, if you have things you want me to blog about, feel free to let me know! 


Sunday, 17 January 2016

Vote for me, please?

Hey everyone!! I don't think I've ever done this, but I have a huge, huge favour to ask of you.

Backstory

Ok, backstory first. Last year, I took a big leap of faith and published my first book (I just told my mom, so I'm like, yay, I can tell everyone now!). The novella (30,000ish words, so it's a quick read) is called The Nutcracker King.

cover done by my über talented bestie
What if there was no ‘Happily Ever After’? 

It has been eight years since the defeat of the Mouse King. Marie has never told the Nutcracker she loves him, and he has never broken the curse. Instead, Marie dances her nights away at Marzipan castle every night, while the Nutcracker tries to break the curse. Desperate, he uncovers a dark secret about his kingdom, and decides to use the knowledge to reverse the curse. In the end, who will get their happily ever after - Marie or the Nutcracker?

This story is a roughly 30,000 word novella.
My novella is available on:

Amazon (link leads to the .com site)
Kobo
Scribd
Apple
Nook
Oyster
Page Foundry
Tolino (Can't find the link, sorry)

But if you're willing to give me an honest review, I'm willing to give you a free copy. Just drop me a message.

Actual Request

Ok, so now that you know the backstory, you know that I like to write. So, I entered a publishing contest, run by the OnlineBookClub!




Basically, this contest is based on votes, and the winner (the one with the most votes)
"wins a publishing deal from OnlineBookClub.org worth thousands of dollars!  
 The winner will also get an advance. OnlineBookClub.org will cover all the costs of publishing including editing and digital services. Additionally, OnlineBookClub.org will invest thousands of dollars worth of advertising into the published book."
The first place entry currently has over a hundred votes (compared to my 8), but there's still about three more months.  I mean, it would be awesome if I won, but to be honest, my current goal is to get onto the top 10 list. And the current 10 has 19 votes, so if I get about 20 soon, I can probably make it on there. So if you're a member, or if you're willing to be a member, please vote for me! You can find the link to my entry here, and I'll repeat again later, and make it super obvious haha.

My entry would be my NaNoWriMo 2015 project - Heart-Less (back then, I called it Free of Heart). If you want to read the entire raw first draft, you can find it here, on WriteOn, and I'll be taking it out of 'shy mode' for the whole competition so that you can check it out.

My pitch, since the one in the photo is tiny, is:

Heartless, foreign Ada is finally getting used to life in Sakoku. Too bad the wizard Pendragon has other plans. But no matter what he throws at her - magic lessons, council membership, she can handle it.  
Her only goal: Keep the truth a secret.

If you have a membership to the OnlineBookClub and are willing to vote for me, or if you're just willing to create a membership and vote for me, you can find the link to my entry here (haha, just bolding and making all the links extra large. If it's annoying, let me know and I'll stop).

Ok, self-promotion over! I hope you'll consider voting for me, and if you want a review copy of The Nutcracker King (please post your review to at least one of the review sites, like Amazon, Goodreads, Kobo, etc when you're done, though there's no rush), let me know too!
P.s. If you are entering that contest, do let me know :D I'll help vote!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Mochi Ice-Cream!

I don't know if anything heard about this, but in December, Haagen Dazs started selling a limited-edition MOCHI ICE-CREAM. And very annoyingly, it was sold out almost immediately. I haunted the convenience stores for two weeks (until the people told me there was no more stock), and I only managed to buy one.

Oh well, I guess the bright side is that I got to try one, even if it wasn't my number one choice.


Anyway, I got the mitarashi dango + nut (can't remember which) flavour! Mitarashi is the sweet soy sauce. 

looks good!
 And obviously, the ice-cream was good. I love dango, so no surprises there. Oh, and if Haagen Daz decides to sell this for the third time (this is the second time), and you manage to get your hands on it, you should definitely wait a few minutes to let the mochi soften before you eat it. I think I waited about five minutes, and that wasn't enough :p


And although I did not manage to get the other mochi-icecream (which was Kinako and Kuromitsu), I did manage to find a substitute!

Kinako+Kuromitsu+Anko!!
 It wasn't a layer of mochi, but rather five mochi balls, but still really good! I love kinako powder hahaha. Totally recommend this, plus it's not as expensive as Haagen Dazs.


I ate these some time back, but I also had ice-cream today. Because evidently, feeling cold is no excuse not to eat ice-cream. Plus, milk tea McFlurry. How can I not try something with that name??


The milk tea flavour was strong, so I totally approve! :D 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Papers/Exams OVER + Sub Zemi 説明会

Everything is finally over!! My one week of continuous 徹夜 (all nighters) is finally over. I can sleep at a sane time tonight! I can play my Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney tomorrow! I don't have to wake up early on Friday (plus it's center exams).

*cheers and cheers and cheers*

So to recap, on Monday, around Midnight (I guess that makes it Tuesday?), my subzemi paper was submitted. On Tuesday, I submitted my main zemi paper. I got back yesterday, wrote a third essay, and submitted it today. Oh, and I studied for a test that was on today, and despite general tiredness, somehow managed to answer all the questions.

I just wanted to share because I am SO HAPPY. Some breathing room at last.

Also, did I share about the mochi ice-cream? Because if I didn't, I need to do so.

Oh, and today, we also have the sub-zemi 説明会 (introduction lecture? Not sure what to call this). And since my sub zemi is known as the "Black Zemi", and because my teacher watched Star Wars recently, we went with this theme:

the caption reads "Welcome to the dark side" and then "Black is beautiful"
Well, I guess we can't be accused of misrepresenting ourselves.

Although when it was time for the students to present, we took a slightly different tack and decided to become Jedis.

Caption reads "We're looking for more comrades. May the force be with you"
Oddly enough, I had probably an equal number of questions about my main zemi as I had for this zemi. I guess it's because everyone realised that this was the second time that I appeared, and decided to ask for a comparison?

At any rate, I really do hope that a few girls join both zemis. But not if it doesn't suit them :p

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Update on my zemi papers (Almost done!)

I don't think I've talked about my zemi paper much (I only found one other blog post), but rest assured that I am, in fact, studying. In fact, because I have two zemis, I have two papers! The two have never really collided, but then...

All good things come to an end.

Currently, my two zemi papers are due on the 11th and 12th, and I have an exam and an essay due on the 13th. Let's just say that I've started becoming friends with the concept of "徹夜” (pulling an all-nighter), though I do tend to give up after midnight.

Anyway, this week has been stressful. One zemi paper has been the regular "What is our conclusion? This is not a conclusion? I disagree with your conclusion?" sort of stress, which I don't really mind. I do have pretty awesome teammates after all.

The other paper, on the hand, gave me no end of grief. I try to be nice, but it's hard to do so when you're doing majority of the paper. If you're Nic, or some other of my (un)lucky friends, you would have been subject to long, long video calls where I ramble on and on about how stress I am because I have to do everything by myself and can't even get a hold of my project partner.

I've basically been covering for him the entire paper, but with two papers plus an essay plus a test, it became impossible. So I caved and went to the teacher, and the long story short is, my teacher didn't think it was fair (although the too busy part is totally my fault), so this paper is mine, and my partner has to do another paper. I do feel bad, but if I didn't say anything, I think both our grades would have been at risk (and if I fail this class, I lose the MEXT scholarship - scholars, please be aware that we are not allowed to repeat a year. Be very, very careful that you hit all requirements to move up a year on time).

Ok, I've probably dawdled here long enough. I want to more or less finish my third essay by today (thankfully, I can write it in English, though it has to handwritten. Only three pages though).

I cannot wait for the next week to be over! But yay for Monday being a holiday, so I can stay in and study and all that.

And under "things I found in my supermarket" - sweet potatoes that you cook in a microwave oven! And I can confirm that they are really sweet! Tiny too.


Wednesday, 6 January 2016

First Day of School (Not Really)

It isn't the first day of the school year or even the school term, but it is the first day of school for 2016! It's technically a Monday schedule, but thankfully, my first period teacher cancelled class, so I could wake up an hour later than what I would have to.

And to ward off the blues....

Wall Totoro approves

I wore my new TOTORO PULLOVER!! which was a gift from my awesome cousin Charmaine <3 I really love it, it's fairly warm and really comfy. And it's Totoro. Enough said.

Technically, school finished at noon, but I had to work on one of my zemi essays (actually, I have to work on both, but this one is due first), so I was with my group in the library until about 5 plus, when I had to go home and look up something.

本音と建前 

Ok, the most interesting conversation I had today was about 本音 (honne - basically your true self) and 建前 (tatemae - basically your public self), I decided to ask the Black Zemi about it. Thankfully, they're already used to me asking weird questions. And yay for almost everyone being in the library at the same time. Yes, we all have essays due XD

So, here are the results of an incredibly informal poll, given to a statistically insignificant number of people whom I'm already quite close (I would hope). Oh, and because I don't think they know about this blog, I basically gave them ALL nicknames. I'm sorry if that makes it hard to follow along.

1. Doitsu-kun: *tries very hard to explain what the concepts are*

Me: I know, but how do you differentiate between the two?

Doitsu-kun: well, generally students have no need to put on tatemae. I mean, we (IoT nerds) don't need it among us, right?

Me: we don't?

Doitsu-kun and Panda Senpai: *she's joking, right?*

2. Panda Senpai: I'm almost always showing my honne. But N-kun is using tatemae when he talks to sensei.

3. N-kun: When Panda senpai says he always shows honne, that's tatemae (thanks for confusing me =.=)

4. Popstar-kun (he shares an almost identical name with a very famous star): *starts talking about out classes, leading to a digression where we both lament the upcoming test and papers due*

5. S-Senpai (because I really can't come up with cute nicknames): Well, remember when you told the teacher that "I know understand our presentation is doomed? (ダメとわかりました)" - that was a situation where you should have used tatemae. Something like "Thank you for the comments (参考になりました - note, I'm translating extremely loosely. Like Message version of the Bible loosely)".

^Thank you S-Senpai, for that was helpful. Although none of the IoT nerds recall that moment, including me.

6. Y-kun: 俺、いつも本気出してる (I always do my best/go all out) - not even related, but very characteristic of him.

Everyone else basically said variations of the above, but I thought these were the most interesting answers.

And this... had no purpose. I just thought it was interesting and wanted to share. I have thoughts about this, obviously (me having barely any tatemae, and basically show my honne all the time - see response 5), but I don't think I've finished thinking about the matter. Perhaps I'll make a longer, more in-depth post one day, if I manage to figure out what I think and feel in a coherent manner.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy 2016!

I can't believe that 2016 is already here! Like, I know yesterday was New Year's Eve, but it still doesn't feel like a new year.

Unlike last year, it did not snow, which was good. My family also wasn't here, which was bad. It was noisy and crowded, not to mention that this time last year, we were in Kumamoto, probably back at the hotel after dinner, and I really miss them and all that.

This year, I continued to indulge in the time honoured tradition of shopping (Yay for 初売りand 福袋!). And since I did nothing else (I also refused to study, so I spent the rest of the day playing Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney - awesome game, by the way), I figured I'd just do a 福袋 haul report.

Oh, and before that, I did the 9 best photos of Instagram thing. First up, my personal instagram account:


And since I was also in charge of the instagram account for the Saga International Balloon Fiesta (Fun time, even if I did get rather sick), I decided to take a look at which were the most popular photos for that account:

And it has so many more likes on average too.
Ok, so on to the lucky bags!!



First up is the Franc Franc! I didn't dare to move it too much cause it's for my cousin haha. Anyway, this is the unisex box, so the colours... Actually I think they match the colour scheme.

Cost: 5000 yen + tax

Items: towel, fragrance + fragrance sticks, mug cup, canister, cushion, market bag and lunch plate. Total 7 items.



Next is Rivet & Surge, which I impulsively bought cause the things in the shop were cute. I got the cheaper version, cause I wanted to avoid getting a coat but...

Cost: 5000 yen + tax

Items: Black Coat (I always get black, I don't know why), 8300 yen Plain navy turtleneck (actually, this will be useful), 1900 yen Hedgehog bag: 1900 yen I don't know what this is but it looks like a jacket but is made out of this super fluffy material and feels awesome. Is it pyjamas? Am I allowed to wear it out? I have no idea. 4600 yen.

Total value: 16,700 yen.

Not a single cute animal shirt inside (shop was full of it). Then again, I'm supposed to avoid 'too cute'



Ok, this is the last one that I super impulsively bought because geta!! I can't really remember the name of the shop though. But I was pretty happy to be able to buy the last bag with Geta (the cool thing was that the lady showed me the contents of the bag even before I bought it.

Cost: 5000 yen + tax

Value: 20,000 yen (supposedly)

Items: geta, furoshiki (cloth that's used to wrap stuff), bath materials, pouches, handkerchiefs, bag, and er... Something called お酒落ハラマキ - something to wrap around your stomach?

Altogether there are 9 items, and most of them are Japanese style - super cute!! I actually think this was the most worth it out of the three I bought today hahaha.



Ok, last fukubukuro would be the Liz Lisa, which was delivered an hour after I came home (good timing, right?)

The bag's actually bigger than I expected, and is pretty roomy. I can see myself using it a lot haha.

Cost: 5000 yen + tax

Items: bag, one singlet (which will be useful for early spring and stuff) and one dress, which looks like this:



I'm not too sure, but I think it's a long top rather than a short dress? I have no idea. I'm not good at fashion.

And this was basically my shopping haul for today :D I'm pretty happy with how much I got, especially since I managed to avoid all the 10,000 yen bags (last year, I think I spent 20,000 on Liz Lisa lucky bags alone).

To end (since I'm guessing all the guys must be so bored with my post), here's a picture of a few cute dogs I saw today!