World Cup 2014 and 2006

The last time I was in the US for a soccer World Cup was 2002. I had just graduated from Boston University and was living on Comm Ave. that summer. No one knew why people were driving, honking, and flying the Brazilian flag at 6 am on a Sunday. It turns out Brazil had just won the World Cup against Germany, 2-0, and the time difference to host country, Japan, is 14 hours.

Creative Commons image from

Creative Commons image from

Today, Germany defeated Brazil 7-1 in the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup. And Americans were watching. I’ve been surprised at the fervor with which people are following games here in Austin. There are viewing parties in bars and offices. People care. In fact, Elmar even cares here more than he ever did in Germany because it’s been a good way to chat with his students and colleagues at ACC and ITT. While I’ve enjoyed watching games in English and Spanish, my heart is with cheering on Germany at “Public Viewings” in Dresden. Continue reading

studying cacti and culture

A friend of mine from Dresden, Germany just arrived in Austin with his wife and their two daughters (ages: 2 years, 8 weeks). He’s a mechanical engineer researching the structure of cacti for his dissertation. So obviously his path led him to Texas. But it also brings my path full circle. Continue reading

Life is fleeting. So are borrowed kitties.

This time of year, I usually reflect about life and death. The November 2nd accident that killed three people in my high school marching band was a formative experience in my teen years.

In undergrad, I used to send mass emails to my high school friends. It was a way to stay connected from Boston. As the years passed, the messenger changed to myspace and facebook. Last year, I blogged: Reflect, remember, recover.

This year, I remembered, but I didn’t write about it. For the first time in years. Not sure why. Maybe I’m entrenched in life and learning and playing.

But then, Max moved away.

Max, looking toward greener pastures?

Continue reading

Boston Marathon still inspiring

As an undergrad, I played bass drum in the Boston University Marching and Pep Bands. In the spring, on Patriot’s Day, we played at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. What an inspiring event! I loved cheering for the runners with costumes or signs to raise awareness for a cause. Sometimes someone looked ready to drop from exhaustion, but if you yelled encouragement using the name or number they wrote on their arm, they would perk up and keep going. Anyone bold enough to wear Texas shorts up north got a rowdy drumline rendition of “The Stars at Night”. It was an amazing and humbling community experience.

2013. Two bombs. No answers.

One of those killed was a Boston University grad student. That student’s day-to-day worries about research, advisors, funding, and work-life balance disappeared. Senselessly. There was a memorial for this student and the other victims today at BU’s Marsh Plaza, where I attended a memorial for the victims of 9/11 back in 2001.

Photo credit, creative commons license

What strikes me the most in reading accounts of what happened is that people ran towards the explosions to help with anticipated injuries. People shared phones, gave away coats, signed up on a google doc to house runners and visitors from out of town.

Tragedies can illustrate the worst in human nature, but also bring out the best.

I love you, Bahston.

Closing 2012 in the right state of mind

“Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love, to work, to play, and to look up at the stars.” – Henry Van Dyke

Yesterday, I had lunch with Betsy, aka Scoldilocks. She is my first Austin roller derby friend. Starting in January, she used to pick me up for practices. Betsy lived in China for 8 years and works as an intercultural trainer, so we had lots to talk about. I came to enjoy our carpool chats as much as practices. In the summer, we both got busy, and our travel schedules didn’t line up, so we stopped carpooling. Now that my semester is over and I’m winding down, I’ve been more reflective about the big picture. So catching up with Betsy made me realize how amazing this year has been. Continue reading

University of Texas compared to North Korea

The bureaucracy at the University of Texas has been facetiously compared with North Korea. As a public university, there are strict regulations with regards to many aspects of student life, health, record keeping, research, privacy, etc.

Out of curiosity, and because I was still on campus yesterday evening, I decided to attend the new student event, “Gone to Texas“. Um, the North Korea comparison wasn’t far off. Continue reading