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  • expertise


    ex·​per·​tise | \ ˌek-(ˌ)spər-ˈtēz , -ˈtēs \
    Definition of expertise
    1: the skill of an expert
    2: expert opinion or commentary

    I have always wondered when one draws the line between an amateur and an expert. I, for one, would not say that I am necessarily an expert in the sport of swimming. Yet, with 7 years experience in the sport, I could hardly call myself an amateur in the sport. In terms of a real-life analysis of experience in a field, I suppose this standard can vary from person to person in terms of what they expect an expert in a particular field should be able to do. However, undoubtedly, the most common form of sharing information in this day and age is through the internet.
    In an age where information can be produced far faster than it can be consumed, there is no room for uncertainty; you’re an expert, or you’re irrelevant.
    If I were to share my ideas as they were on a fresh Twitter account, the opinion of an expert-ish, amateurish swimmer would garner about as much attention as a cup of water in the ocean; with no support at all, it would simply be absorbed into the already present and growing sea of irrelevant opinions. On the other hand, if I were to sell myself as “District Champion 2020, 100 yard Breaststroke”, my cup may become a pint. If I chose a niche community to start in, and regularly contribute to conversation within it, my pint may become a quart. If I start to expand outside the community and gain a following on other medias, (the equivalent of Instagram or TikTok in 2022) I may find a gallon of influence. Finally, if I upscale and phrase my ideas in a way that is more easily digestible (and relatable) to the common man, then, create content on an easily accessed platform (say, YouTube), I just might be able to start making waves.
    In this way, expertise can be confused with influence, and no matter others’ standards for expertise, a large enough following can give your word its relevance.
    Of course, there is no guarantee that one will gain popularity (especially in this day and age where a valid answer to the elementary question of “what do you want to be when you grow up?” is “an influencer“). So, personally, I plan on taking the Safe Path in this Game of Expertise: credentials. By setting aside a few years of their lives (and a couple thousand dollars while they’re at it) to commit to schooling, someone can earn a title that “proves their expertise” in a particular field. And at the current moment, that seems to be the most reliable method to gain approval of one’s expertise.

    But that’s just my theory, anyway.

    Thanks for reading!


  • Light novels

    One pastime that I recently picked up is reading Japanese light novels. Whether it’s a otherworldly fantasy that satisfies a bit of escapism, or a slow and steady school romance, Japanese light novels have been an integral part of Japanese lit culture for the past few decades. Originally designed to satisfy a (in American terms) young-adult audience, these 200-300 word short books were popular for their short length, abundance, and overall “light” content. The novels more often than not follow a relaxing pace, giving the readers a sense of consistency and progression aided by the use of common, recognizable tropes, fostering a “light”, relaxed reading experience. However slow and steady the pace is, novels that sell well are often serialized. Personally, while I enjoy reading an intricately crafted book from time to time, find it great to have a book that reads easily. I also think that it’s a great idea to make reading more accessible, especially to the current American young-adults, most of whom would never dream of intentionally reading for fun.
    As for how I read the books, I have been using a paperwhite Kindle, which has been a real convenience in terms of portability. Something about the mutedness of the device makes it easier on the eyes, and almost makes me forget that I am not reading from a paper book. I must say, I almost wish my own phone was this easy on my eyes, rather than having to burn my eyeballs every time I have to communicate with someone.
    I suppose I should talk about the specific book I am reading. In terms of popularity, my current read, “The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten” is one of the most popular romantic comedy light novels of 2022. It follows the story of the gloomy Amane Fujimiya and the circumstances that lead him to rely on his neighbor, Mahiru Shiina, the most popular girl at his school. While it is may not be the most progressive text, I just absolutely love slow-and-steady romance. After slowly digesting the first book, I found myself devouring the second volume in the series in about two days. Currently, I am enjoying the third volume for as long as I can, as the fourth and fifth volumes are unavailable to America yet.

    Nonetheless, it was eye-opening to find another niche that I had not considered.

    Happy Reading!


    The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten Vol. 1 cover

    Update: My father, who is currently in Japan has managed to send over some novels in Japanese via Kindle. More good reads for me!

  • Home Food

    With the going of Thanksgiving and the conquering of the Christmas spirit, over all of the lawn decorations and seasonal traditions, nothing speaks “Christmas” to me like my mother’s homemade cookies. On that note, I thought to record my own experience with home cooking as the spoiled brat of two esteemed home chefs.
    For as long as I can remember, I have eaten my parents’ cooking. Whether it was a daily packed lunch for school or a grand all-you-can-eat dinner, I have been exposed to a great variety of foods from my own house. It is precisely because of this that the value of cooking ability has been instilled into my brain. After all, the foundation of good health is good eating (thanks to that, I am able to count the number of times have gotten sick on one hand).
    While I have spent most of my life watching my parents work in the kitchen, I began to take lessons from my father in the midst of the pandemic quarantine (or, as I like to call, “Quarantine Cuisine”). What began as a simple desire to learn the basics before college soon became a routine that I would record on my Instagram account, (@kentokyfriedchikin) as I cooked a great variety of dishes. In all my practice, one thing that my father emphasized above all else, was that “cooking is simple”. Whatever the dish, my father prides himself in his inability to cook the same dish twice. Thanks to this, an occasional ungodly creation that emerges from time to time, but for the most part, my father is still a splendid chef. The point being, my father’s experimental tendencies encourage the idea that you shouldn’t have to follow a recipe to cook―if you have a basic skill set and a few spices, anyone can cook. While I am still a long way from competent with a knife, I appreciate the opportunity to learn how to cook at home before I set out to live alone; an experience that I absolutely did not obtain in junior high Family Consumer Science. At the very least, I’d like to one day cook a meal that my children will miss when they leave for college.


  • Optional

    Now that I’m finally finished with my college class, I’ve shifted my focus to college apps. After getting deferred from my Early Decision school, I’ve had to rehash my strategy for college admissions, and go on an application frenzy. At the moment, my list looks something like this:

    (in no specific order)

    • Carleton
    • Bowdoin
    • Williams
    • Uiowa
    • Amherst
    • Dartmouth

    Now, I’d like to apply to a few safety schools, but the research has been a bit daunting, and I initially chose to go the route of liberal arts colleges because of my uncertainty in what I want to major in.
    Initially, I’d thought to apply to larger universities, but my aforementioned indecisiveness led me to choose LACs with generous financial aid resources. As for why I’m choosing to go out of state, if I’m being honest, unless I go to the UI, I see no reason to have to commute somewhere else for a marginally better education, so I’ve taken up the mindset “go all in, or not at all”.

    The one thing that I have been dreading a bit has been writing answers to all of the “Additional Questions” that many LACs require or are deemed as “optional” (it’s as optional as your admission) on the Common App. I’ve never been one for writing about the best of myself, so I often find myself struggling to find a balance between blatant embellishment and “cold, hard, blunt, truth.”

    Here’s a real example from Bowdoin:

    Bowdoin believes that only through building a more diverse and inclusive campus community will the College best prepare graduates to be contributing and useful citizens of the world.

    Every graduate of this institution should be confident in their preparation to be able to navigate through differences and in all sorts of situations.

    A Bowdoin education does not guarantee these skills, but it does impart a set of tools necessary to bravely enter unfamiliar conditions with the confidence to deal effectively with ambiguity.

    If you wish, you may use this space to share anything about your personal background not otherwise captured in your application or your experience navigating through difference.

    When I read this, I appreciate the honesty about how the resources are provided, but whether or not you acquire the skills is up to you. However, I can’t for the life of me think of a specific situation that I have “navigated through difference”, and the fact that it is an “additional information” makes me hesitate as to whether I should be answering this, or if I would sound stuck up for talking about something that is not exactly “life changing”. Regardless, I think I’ll write something to give the admissions office a bit more information about my personality to put the space to use.

    That’s about it from me.

    Thanks for reading!


  • Calculus II

    It’s the day after my very first college finals, and I have to say, that was probably the most difficult test I have ever taken. Out of everything, I think what I ought to take away from my first college class is the amount of independent studying that I need to hold myself to. In general, I found myself more motivated to study for Calc II over my high school classes, but I still felt as if it wasn’t enough when I was onsite for the exam.

    My exam was from 8pm to 10pm, which is unusual (according to my mother), I nevertheless, I went and gave it all I had. If I’m being honest, I don’t feel great about it. It’s worth half of my grade, and I found myself getting stuck on a few problems that I could not recognize. Namely, Implicit differentiation and differentiation of polar curves. If I were to reflect on my work ethic for my first college class, I would have to say that I could have done a better job at dividing my homework throughout the week, and properly setting aside time to study for quizzes. I seem to have let my guard down a bit knowing that I had already learned the Calculus II material in AP Calc BC.

    As someone who often gets distracted from my own priorities in day-to-day life, and also doesn’t have huge chunks of time to commit to studying, I think it’d be a good idea to map out my schedule, and make a general time map for my daily schedule.

    All in all, I am now acutely aware of the rigor that I can expect from college final exams, and plan on improving my strategy for my next semester: Calc III.

    Nevertheless, Class Complete!

    Current Worry: I sure hope this doesn’t affect my college admissions…

  • Thanks

    With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I figured that it would be fitting to write a Thanksgiving-themed post for the record. Now, I’m no uber-nationalist American, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, any excuse to stuff my face with good food, is a welcome one. Personally, I absolutely love my mother’s homemade goat cheese (hold the goat cheese) stuffing. In all seriousness, when it comes to the origins of Thanksgiving, while it holds historical (and political) importance by illustrating another shining example of native mistreatment, I will not be addressing it here. Instead, I will talk about what Thanksgiving has evolved into (though, from my own limited perspective). In my own family, especially after my sister left the nest, Thanksgiving has been a reason to gather as a whole family, regardless of “where we happen to be” or “what we need to do”. To make one event be a constant in the sea of uncertainty that is the entire year of life, I think, makes it act as an effective reset and recentering of the self. It allows us to come together and enjoy each others’ company, remembering where we all came from before going our separate paths once again. So no, I do not think of pilgrims and persecution when I eat my turkey; I think of my family, and enjoy the respite from my own life’s pilgrimage.

    Food Review

    To be added after Thanksgiving

  • An Open Future

    When I first saw “The Ethics of Family” on my college visit itinerary, I didn’t pay too much mind to it. In fact, I was far more enthusiastic about the Sleep and Dreaming class that I had scheduled later in the day. Regardless, with this being my first full-on college visit with classes, I was excited to finally get a taste of what my next four years of life might look like.

    The first thing that was immediately apparent to me was that Carleton is very much still in the Midwest, which was apparent by the familiar climate and geography. Yet, perhaps because I had been sick and stuffy for the past few weeks, I could notice an obvious difference in air quality (possibly because of the 880-acre arboretum that they boasted and the fact that the school was practically in the middle of a forest.)

    Previously, I had visited Northwestern, Cornell College, and University of Iowa, so Carleton was an interesting contrast. As a small LAC (liberal-arts college), the school was relatively easy to navigate, and I felt relatively at ease because of the small population on campus. One thing I noticed almost immediately was the students’ trust in the school’s security. While I myself have lived most of my life in a small town, I must say, I don’t exactly feel comfortable leaving my belongings strewn about in public spaces. Yet, the for the students there, it almost seemed like the entire campus was their own home with the number of coats I saw hanging on chairs. I had heard from my mother that Carleton had its own hired security that was separate from the town of Northfield, but even so, I didn’t know how to feel about how wide-open the students were.

    My idea of the students’ overall comfort on campus was reinforced when I attended my classes, “The Ethics of Family” and “PSYCH 201 – Sleep and Dreaming”. For one, both of the professors went by their first name, and the amount of participation brought a tear to my eye. As the next big transition in schooling, I felt even more excited to enter the next level of schooling. From elementary school to junior high I gained a bit more freedom and autonomy, from junior high to high school I gained more options for choosing classes, and this transition from a public high school to a private college seemed like I was moving from a group of people to a community.

    Well, I can’t get too ahead of myself. I sure hope I make it into a school.

    All I can do is hope for the best.

    Food Review:

    Belgian Butter Waffle Cookies – I could devour a box of these in one sitting. Just don’t count the calories.

  • 06/07/21

    Today, I took the treacherous journey to the Summit. Grandma had given me a shopping list for my trip, so I actually had a purpose for my trip unlike my recreational trip to Yaoko. But, I also didn’t want to take a direct route there because I wanted to familiarize myself with the surrounding area a bit. So, I took a bit of a detour on the way there. In other words, I got lost, took multiple wrong turns, wound up back at the house somehow, and eventually found myself at Summit. The building was four stories, and a bit bigger than Yaoko. At the supermarket, I bought groceries and daifuku for everyone, and tried to limit the number of snacks I bought there because there was a 100 yen shop (dollar store) upstairs. Then, after fitting everything into the reasonably sized cloth bag that I asked Grandma for, I went up two escalators to the 100 yen floor. I have to say, dollar stores in Japan are infinitely better than those in America. There were aisles of stationery, snacks, drinks, and actually decent quality electronics. I limited myself to getting a drink, some snacks, and a set of functional earbuds. After going through so many single-use earbuds from Dollar Tree, having a pair that work multiple times is absolutely amazing. After topping off my already full bag, I journeyed back home, and managed to find my way back with relative ease. All in all, it was a pretty productive trip I got the groceries, a mental map of the area, and a whole bunch of snacks for the rest of this week. Boy, it’s gonna be a long week. Anyways, I returned home to get scolded by Grandma for buying snacks (I didn’t even use her money, and I’m an athlete, so I really don’t care), and spent the rest of the day in my dusty room, trying out my new snacks to entertain myself. That’s pretty much all from me today.

    Good night.

  • 06/06/21

    After a fruitful trip to the grocery store yesterday, I planned on going to Summit, a larger grocery store near the train station. That is, until my aunt invited me to go work out at the gym with her. After an entire week without swimming, I was eager to get back on the grind.
    After a good 20 minute drive into a slightly more urban area, we parked in a ramp, went through a convenience store, and went to the gym across the street. After signing up for a membership and putting on my new white indoor shoes, a device was slapped on my arm and I was thrown straight into different world. Instead if a standard gym or boring yoga studio, the instructor-led program was done in a series of dark rooms with flashing disco lights. Some sort of light caused my white shoes to glow in the dark, which was just the cherry on top in the environment. The device on my arm tracked your calories burned, effort level, and heart rate, which was displayed on a screen with everyone else’s, invoking a competitiveness in the session. The workout itself was no joke, either. We started with a rowing machine workout, which was a bit intense, but then we shifted to an instructed dryland session consisting of stretching, yoga, and some high intensity ground exercises, all of which pushed me to my absolute limits. We ended in a room full of individual trampolines where we did a bunch of different jumping patterns and cooled down. Overall, the workout was just the right amount of intensity, making me work up a good sweat for the first time in a while. I left the gym with a sore body but quite refreshed with the change of pace from staying home all day.
    After our trip to the gym, my aunt and I went shopping at the convenience store we parked in, picked up my cousin from a school, and went to a kushidango shop. There, we bought 6 sticks of kushidango and some other sweets to bring home. For the long drive home, I was finally given time to talk to my aunt and cousin whom I’d barely seen because of their busy weekdays. Topics like school exams and anime came up in conversation; when I told them that the anime Kimetsu no Yaiba is also big in the United States, they were genuinely shocked. All in all, it was a very fulfilling day, and I was able to eat the kushidango with peace of mind, knowing that I’d exercised for the day. Tomorrow, I’m reaching the Summit!

    Good night.

    串団子 (ずんだ)
    Dumplings on a skewer with a sweetened edamame paste
    A unique flavor, highlighting the natural sweetness and texture of edamame. A bit too sweet for my tastes.

    串団子 (みたらし)
    Dumplings on a skewer with a sweet soy sauce coating
    A classic flavor that works really well

    串団子 (ごま)
    Dumplings on a skewer with a salty sesame sauce coating
    Another classic flavor that I really like, but the sauce was a bit too salty in my opinion.

  • 06/05/21

    Feeling a bit more adventurous today, I took a trip to the local Yaoko marketplace, the Hy-Vee equivalent of this region. It was a relatively straightforward walk, so I would have to have a terrible sense of direction to get lost (foreshadowing…?). The building was a triple-layer mall-type, but on a smaller scale: unlike anything I’ve seen in America. As it was a Saturday, there was a decent crowd, all of whom, if I may note, were wearing masks. There were aisles of instant food, snacks, as well as veggie, dairy and meat sections, as you’d expect from a Hy-Vee, but there was also a wider variety of fish and ready-made meals that contrasted my limited experiences with midwest American markets. Of course, there was a difference in the types of food, many of which I was tempted to buy on the spot, but I decided against it in the interest of saving money. Instead, I made the very responsible decision to spent 800 yen on snacks. Another thing to note about Japanese supermarkets and stores in general is that the plastic bags are extremely small. I guess it kinda goes to show the “bigger is better” idea that sells in America. However, I have to say, they’re way too small. I feel like fact that I have to use one plastic bag for every medium item is a bit ridiculous. Anyways, while there, I tried to grab as many Japan-exclusive items as possible, (which I’ll list on my food review below) and still managed to stay far under my budget. Satisfied with my first “snack run” in Japan, I made the trek home.
    My cousin had returned from his day activity (I think he went on a trip or something) by the time I ‘d returned home, so I treated him to one of my daifuku that I’d bought from Yaoko and retreated to my room. Slightly worn out by the trip, I took a short nap until I was called for dinner. After a short bath, Grandma came up to me and told me that my cousin actually quite dislikes the specific type of daifuku that I’d given him, so they’d divided it into portions and shared it. As my cousin is a picky eater, he’s getting him to eat anything from his long list of dislikes is a such a chore. However, Grandma proudly told me that despite his complaints, he eventually ended up eating his portion “because you bought it for him”. As insignificant as that sounds, I was actually quite touched that he had done that, because I hadn’t really talked to him much yet. The next time I go shopping, I think I’ll buy a bucketload of carrots. All joking aside, I think I’ll try to talk to him a bit more tomorrow. For now,

    Good night

    Food Review:

    じゃがりこサラダ (Calbee)
    Fried potato sticks with veggie bits. Basically potato chips in stick form.

    じゃがりこじゃがバター (Calbee)
    The same sticks as above, in “butter potato” flavor. I like them a bit more.

    そこそこソフトなおやつ昆布 (中野物産)
    Snack kelp. It’s a sweet and salty flavor that I just absolutely love. One of the first uniquely Japanese snacks that I can only really get in Japan.