MPI Forum in Chicago

Just came back from the second official meeting. I guess I can claim to be a member now (IU has a vote which requires to attend the two last meetings). Not much to say (officially), but it was very very interesting and productive! I’m looking forward to the next one. Here a picture of the crowd (try to find me :)):

(taken by Erez Heba (Microsoft))

Taekwondo updates

Yeah, I made my next belt (green) last week! So that was fun, ok, I know, I should have done this two months earlier, but I was traveling ;). And I will be traveling again soon. We (the IU TKD demo team) had a performance at some community fair today. That was fun.

There is even a psychadelic picture of me breaking a poor and helpless board with a side-knifehand strike:

see also the “longest belt in club” ;-).

The most expensive cheapest flight to Germany

Man, this is weird. I booked a really cheap flight with United to go to Germany – it was $464 (313 EUR). But I learned some days later that I am supposed to attend an important meeting at the Oak Ridge National Lab … which is scheduled to happen during the first two days of my planned trip *argh*. We went back and forth and were not able to change the meeting time (due to very weak reasons in my opinion). So I had to change my travel plans – which turned out to be a week-long odyssey. Man, those airline ticket pricing policies are *totally* weird. After hour-long online searches, I found a flight from Knoxville to Dresden to Indianapolis for $495 from the 3/18 to the 4/7. Believe it or not, round-trips from Indianapolis were more expensive (I don’t get it). The change fee was $200 + fare difference so still acceptable.

Yes, my ultra-cheap ticket turned out to be $695 at the end … oh man … don’t remind me of this fiasco. And I lost the excellent seats that I reserved for the original flights. I’m now sitting in middle seats :-(. And I could not change the itinerary online (even though it worked yesterday) – so I had to call the hotline. I was even able to talk to somebody after 30 min music … the lady was really cool. A 3rd generation US-Japanese living in Hawaii – she even spoke Japanese (more than I do). And we talked for 30 minutes about Wakame soup (there is apparently some kind of canned Wakame that goes well with cucumber :-D). I tried to leave positive feedback, but United hung up :-/.

Food is getting better …

if you do it yourself and make sure that you’re not ripped off!

I’ve been to the Saraga market in Bloomington – yeah! I am so proud of myself. I was actually the only non-asian in this market and people looked weird at me :-). And of course – I had no idea what I bought (just asked other customers). But I got excellent Chinese green tea and original Japanese green Tea leaves (not tested yet). I guess I’ll go there more often, I even found this weird Japanese “Bonito” (or so) fish stuff.
… and then Kroger wanted to ripp me off … forr the 4th time. So I had an item that was labeled as “2 for $5” and was charged $6.27 (obviously an error – such a strange price) at the cashier. I am beginning to develop the habit to remember all prices and check them afterwards. They gave me the money back without any question … but still! It is the 4th time … this is no coincidence (actually, I’ve not seen anything getting cheaper yet).
And, I finally cooked wakame soup with the (excellent)  ito wakame (dried seaweed strips) that Jungjin gave me last year. And it is excellent! I have to do this more often (looks like more Saraga mart). It’s easy too … I just took lots of water, soaked and rinsed the seaweed, added 2 cans of tuna, 1/2 celery “head”, 3 carrots, 7 mushrooms, soy sauce,  pepper and the ultra-hot Korean seasoning that I found in my cupboard (courtesy of Miho, some months ago). And yeah, it’s really easy (just wait) and tastes very good (and is nearly fat-free (only the fish)). This is the pot after I ate half:

Some notes about food in the US

Yeah, many of you know that I am convinced that US food is just bad (gene manipulation, hormones, yadayadayada), and eating out is even worse. I found my own way to get around it … I cook my lunches myself and freeze them. I tried a new recipe – Japanese style – and thought I should share it! It’s easy and really delicious and your roommates will love you.

Ingredients for three lunches:

– 2 cans (2x100g) sardines or 1 can (400g) mackarel

– 1/2 onion

– 1/2 big cabbage (fresh)

– soy sauce, pepper

– 2 cans green beans/corn or peas

– 3/4 cup cooked rice

Recipe (in a big pan!):

– fry the cut onions until they’re glassy (soft)

– add cut cabbage and fish, fry until cabbage is soft and tastes well

– add soy sauce and pepper until it tastes good

– mix remaining ingredients

So I did it and that’s how it looks like:

The 1/2 cabbage – before murdering aehem cutting!

The onions *hmmm* – I did both recipies (mackarel and sardines at the same time)


And you’ll have this nice fishy smell in your kitchen (and the whole house if you did it right) which will also stay for several days. And even better, when you re-heat the stuff, it’s going to smell nicely fishy. So people told me that they smelled my food in the second floor of Lindley hall. My colleagues will love me soon ;-).

A note on US apples: *ARGH* why do those people have to wax fruits? I guess to cheat on the customers! I bought 5lb apples, waxed (there were no others) … and they are brown inside! Man, and the bag says: “Meets or exceeds US extra fancy standards, Product of USA”. Extra fancy? Yeah, they have this shiny effect – great :-/.

Running in the cold :-)

Yeah, I’m still running even though the temperature dropped to -19 degree Celsius tonight. But it’s ok, I can dress up. I ran yesterday and today noon-ish. It was about -11 degree Celsius and so pretty ok. It sucks at the beginning but gets even warm after a while. I ran for slightly more than an hour today … it felt really nice.

MPI Forum meeting in Chicago

I just came back form the MPI Forum meeting. It’s kind of cool … I would have never thought that I would ever drive with my own car to an MPI Forum meeting in Chicago – I just did! The meeting was pretty interesting even though most of the discussions were focuses on bugfixing the existing versions. Some of those discussions were extremely boring, for example to talk about 15 minutes about the meaning of “it” in a particular sentence, or the similarly long definition of a straw straw vote (a vote that did not mean anything) :). But many of those could be solved by taking the discussions offline to the interested subgroup.

I’m (as expected) in the collectives subgroup (as the “deputy” of the group chairman) and the Generalized Request subgroup (I’m not sure if this subgroup will live long because the solution to the problem is kind of trivial). I hope to see a Mini-MPI subgroup soon. It’s interesting to see how careful changes ar applied to this standard and I do really like the process so far. I hope it stays like this.

It is a pleasant 4.5 hrs drive from Bloomington to Chicago (took much longer on the way back because we were stuck in traffic for about an hour in Chicago). I realized two funny things about the US traffic system:

1) there are freeway exits on the left (an no pre-warning signs!!) – man, this is dangerous

2) there is a toll-road towards Chicago – the toll is 15 cents (really!). We paid with a $20 bill (nobody had coins) and the “cashier” was really angry that she had to walk to the office to get change for us *grin*. 15 cents … man.