Friday, November 16, 2007

damn you woot

not only does a wootoff occur during office hours, thus preventing me from being productive, it continues for two days counting, and sells crap. well, because of that last part i am getting work done. but ever since the last time i missed the bandolier of carrots (the good old BOC) i'm not too big of a woot addict. i only check once every 30 seconds.

but today woot is just doing funny things. as consumers eagerly bought their crap (like 5 logitech mice for $35...why would you need 5??), clicking refresh madly in anticipation of the ACTUAL bag of crap, this comes up:

like, Where's The Feet, man? not only is it not a worthless but irresistable electronics item, there's a button covering the BUY ONE NOW button (what do i click if it was a BOC?) that says WOOTOFF detour. like we really need someone else to tell us we should get out of this page for just one second and continue with our regular lives.

but some people are saying, is this the precursor to the finale, the bandolier of carrots? two wootoffs ago hey actually ended with a set of wine rack bags (five bags that hold like 6 bottles each that you can hang in an attic.) so maybe this is leading up to the end. maybe it'll be another disappointing wino finale. but i'll have to keep clicking...matlab, play nice in the background, i'm busy.

Friday, November 9, 2007

office gourmet

i have some stringent eating habits, especially when it comes to the daily grind. the workday lunch is a sacred routine that many partake in but few appreciate. for me, it's a ritual that starts either the night before or in the morning, if i have time, and continues to about 3:30 pm every day. some days, i pack a lunch, including various snacks that sustain a procrastinator during every phase of the work process. other days i decide it's worth the five bucks to buy some real food.

today, i've packed the usual - lean cuisine, because i was too lazy to make a sandwich - breakfast for the road so i can get in relatively early, and snacks - apples and peas in a container. but then eating the peas stirred some memories that had been buried, from i'm not sure when. maybe it was from days when i was experimenting with cooking technique in the humble kitchens of phi sig annex. maybe it was when i truly had nothing in my fridge except peas and ketchup. maybe it was even grade school days when your salisbury steak (with ketchup) dripped into your peas. but for some reason i decided to open one of those many ketchup packets i've taken from the cafeteria and never used, and it just made sense to eat the peas with it. something clicked. it just made sense.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

usb drives

there should be some sort of nerdy webcomic episode about how usb drives are impossible to insert the right way the first time. because they look exactly the same and the only thing you can use to tell if it's oriented right is that little slot inside the otherwise symmetric tip. something in the style of an xkcd comic...

*i apologize profusely in advance, Randall Munroe.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


The Consumerist reported on a man who bought a harddrive from BestBuy but received a box of tiles, and was refused compensation. Later, he reported that his American Express credit card was able to get a refund from BestBuy, and that he was getting a credit.

Sounds a lot like what happened with my credit card and (andrew's) Wii.

And I had just written in to Consumerist to tell them my Amex card rocks and they gave me a refund for theft within one day. Plus, I get to use it at Costco and get savings. Why the heck aren't all cards like that?

Plus, Happy Halloween! A more interesting halloween post to come, if i have time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

october thoughts

it's been more than a month that i've been absent from writing. the exact reason for that is laziness. a secondary reason is that i now work at lincoln labs, and i manage to stay busy most of the day. sort of.

well, the past few days have been eventful enough to make me want to document life as it passes again. and besides, if i pay annually for this domain, why not make the best use of it?

first, october and the fall season must be my favorite boston season ever. and now that i have a backyard in a tree lined neighborhood, it's hard to resist admiring the inner-city greenscape, which has now quickly turned into a bright mosaic of orange and red. there are some trees whose leaves are so bright yellow that they look plastic.

but the beauty of nature comes hand in hand with its destructive power. in san diego, from the LA area all the way down to chula vista there have been some inconceivable fire disasters. from emails and facebook I can tell that it has already affected the lives of my friends, and i wonder what life would be like if i was still in california. strange, huh? disasters are no fun, i slept through hurricane katrina to wake up to a jumble of pine trees and smashed houses. but this fire has been going on for days, and the damage is just as devastating. it's hard to imagine, but the relatively wealthy, peaceful, luxurious beach communities i used to know may no longer be the same anymore.

all of this makes the crimes of man seem petty. but it still makes you want to take a baseball bat to whoever broke into river st and stole andrew's ps3, wii, and laptop, and erica's laptop and jewelry. i was also one thought away from losing my computer, which had all of my financial information, but i had taken it home the night before. theft never seems scary until you realize someone's been through your house and taken all your valuables. but at least it's not a wildfire, huh?

anyway life is settling down, and soon i will have directv for my home entertainment system. however, studies have shown that happiness is never permanent and that having material things will provide only short term satisfaction. maybe that's why, once in a while, reality hits you in the face with a theft or natural disaster (or even a case of stabbing at an MIT dorm) and you understand that just being able to see the autumn leaves in october is good.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

stock market rising

i could hear a sigh of relief from everyone (or maybe it was a shout of joy?) when the stock market went back up following a 0.5% drop in federal interest rates. so i don't know anything about finance but apparently that's a really large drop and pretty unprecedented. so now even my mutual funds are going back up...back into the green. i kept thinking about how i should have listened to my own advice, bought back in when it was in the slump, and waited for this upturn to bring me more money. but i can't drop the feeling that the government is bailing out rich people from what should have been a real correction of the markets, and now we've continued on a previously inflated sense of bullishness. so should i keep my money in? when i saw -10% returns i wished i had sold everything when i was at like +2%, but now i'm at +2% and now i think i should stay in until +10%. I don't know. at least it's my retirement account, and i won't be accessing this money for real for like 50 years, so maybe i don't have to worry about it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

more time wasters

what's with fuzzy mascots and violence? nothing but hilarity!

via nothing to do with arbroath


i've been browsing online comics again. i like dinosaur comics:

and now i have a new favorite emoticon. OGC

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

an unfortunate incident involving peppers

today one of the guys at work brought in some home grown veggies - a huge bag of delicious cherry tomatoes and a bag of hot chili peppers. because i had forgotten my lunch i went and grabbed a handful of tomatoes, which went very well with my old bagel, orange, and bottled water. however, as the end of the day was nearing and i became more munchie desiring, i started to nibble at the red pepper, which turned out to be sweet and mild. at the tip, at least.

as i coded i slowly bit off bits and pieces of the pepper, which crunched sweetly. i hit a few seeds, which weren't hot, and that's usually where the heat is contained. just in case, i threw out all the seeds in the next section, then proceeded to stuff the whole thing in my mouth.

just as i started chewing i felt a kick on my tongue, and realized this was a pepper that wasn't uniformly hot. well, i could use a bit of spice anyways, so i went ahead and chewed. but the burning sensation started to expand exponentially, and i forced myself to swallow the half chewed mass just as my eyes started to tear up.

hot peppers have a sort of delayed heat effect. and these particular peppers had a very prolonged heat effect. and what's worse is that these peppers take barely a touch against skin before the burning spreads. from the time i swallowed the rest of the peppers (i wonder if my stomach will be upset later) to now (about an hour later) i went through the following ritual of trying to ease the pain.

when my lips first started burning, it was toward the inside, near where my teeth had crushed the pulp and released the pepper oils. i thought it would be ok - i had some water and it was relatively cold. but i also needed something sweet so i ate one of the corn muffins i was saving as a breakfast. but that delayed effect kicked in, and when my water ran out, my lips only burned more because they were no longer being showered in cool liquids.

i walked calmly to the bathroom so no one would notice my folly. the water fountain is a wonderful, icy cool spout of relief, and i rinsed out my mouth there and refilled my bottle. on the way back it seemed that i might have a few minutes to recover before the lips started hurting again just due to the ambient warm air temperature.

a few minutes later my water was gone again, and i walked a bit more briskly to the bathroom. this time i decided to wash out my lips. i'm not sure if it was before or after - maybe it was due to using the bottle to have water cover my mouth (without drinking it), but the oils had spread and now there was the slightest tingle of pain around the edges of the lips. i started rinsing my mouth out under the cold water in the bathroom, which wasn't as good as the waterfountain. but using a paper towel to keep my face wet helped.

i think it was the second time i had to run to the bathroom that i started spitting red flecks, of pepper or flesh, i don't know. this time i arrived in front of the mirror and there was a circle of red swelling around my lips, and my eyes were all teary. i tried to use soap to wash out the stuff, and grabbed a new paper towel, which i now held over my mouth while walking around because it was the only way to feel like you're not being irradiated by atomic particles. that's when i ran into chris, and we started discussing code. i thought that maybe it would be ok and i could make it through, now that the lips were feeling a bit better.

half way through the discussion my eyes were watering and i reached up to dab at my right eye. mistake. whatever minute amount of pepper oil that had gotten from my lips, to the paper towel, to my fingers, was now on the tip of my nose and my eye. i almost couldn't type because one hand was holding my mouth in pain. i went to the bathroom once, rinsed out with some soap, came back, talked a bit about code, and decided that we couldn't continue and be productive. chris suggested i get some diary product.

with wet paper towel in hand i made it down to the kitchen, but realized that it closed at like 2. i ran to the bathroom (to actually use the bathroom this time), thinking "i should be careful with my hands..." well i wasn't careful enough and there's still a bit of remaining pain to this moment. as i walked back to the office wondering why no place was selling anything anymore, i made a godsent discovery...there had been an ice cream party from 2-4. and there were tubs of ice cream just sitting around.

so happily this incident ended with me stuffing my face with strawberry icecream with strawberries in syrup. i DID use some of it to actually neutralize the pepper oils around my face, but i ate the rest. of course for a moment i did consider using the ice cream to ease the pain in my other afflicted spots. but i didn't see how i would be able to apply it without a huge mess, so i just brought some desert back to my office.


and just now i scratched my OTHER eye, and immediately it's hurting. this oil is POTENT.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

harsh realities

today i received a wakeup call about getting your shit together. this whole time i've been procrastinating about getting things done, such as transfering my car registration and insurance, etc. basically between work, taekwondo and apartment stuff i've had no time to really get anything settled. well, this morning my car window was smashed in because i had left my gps system on the dashboard. i guess my neighborhood isn't all dandy after all.

fortunately, when i opened the door to clean out the glass, i found a funny thing - the actual GPS was sitting under the car seat. so whoever smashed in my windows got away clean with my cigarette lighter adapter and the GPS mount, but left the actual box with enough battery power to get me to work. huh, i guess they found a better deal on woot.

but the lesson is to get your shit together. such as, registering your car, buying insurance, etc etc.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

summer in boston

the weather's been so nice that i can hardly believe it's going to get cold eventually. i feel like a hawaiian freshman only without the homesickness. aside from some humidity it's been great weather, sunny, warm but with breezy evenings, the occasional rain that leaves a layer of water on car windows that you only see when you get into the car because it's so sunny outside you dont think it could ever rain.

home sweet home

i have finally moved all my stuff into my apartment. it's sitting in a huge pile in the middle of the room. and the more i look at it, the more i like the place i got. since it's just a large studio with lots of windows, it looks larger (to me) when there's furniture in it because then you get a perspective of just how big it is. otherwise if it's all empty, the size of the room is lost because there's no furniture to use as a scale.

the past few days have been moving madness. it's as if all of boston were participating in what we used to do at phi sig on moving day. on aug 31, everyone is finalizing their packing and throwing everything out, so there are tons of free stuff listings on craigslist. i tried to get wasn't fruitful. then on sept 1, every street has a uhaul or moving van parked halfway up the curb, and either large groups of students or smaller groups of movers are unloading furniture into houses like a stream of ants.

i helped nathan and rdc pack and load their truck on friday. it took a bunch of us, almost working in shifts, about most of the day. then that night i went to visit my house, and it turns out the keys that the landlord had given me weren't the right keys. they also didn't give me a set of front door keys, and we stood there at midnight ringing doorbells trying to see if the second floor people were in. they came only as we were about to give up and leave. carla stumbled out of a cab from a night of drinking and we ran to her at the door, and she happily met and gave two complete strangers her extra door keys. hah.

so saturday morning the movers came to drop off my stuff. i got a call while buying gatorade at starmarket that they were there, and headed back almost immediately. by the time i got there (30 mins later?) they were almost done packing. lesson of the weekend: if you're not a student, pay for movers. it's worth the money.

Monday, August 27, 2007

the family in nc and boston

i am visiting my parents in north carolina. it's sort of the same old feeling i usually get when i go home, except this time it's really more brief. and there's no longer large waves of nostalgia hitting me. probably because the smells, sights, and locations are all different from my actual childhood home. but the dogs are still there, and we went surfing at the beach. yes, we went to carolina beach, about 30 mins from myrtle beach on the NC/SC border. i didnt actually rent a board because the waves were really small and shortlived, but i managed to bodysurf the most i've ever done on the smallish 2-3 ft waves that come crashing down pretty quickly. the water was warm and the sand was soft, almost reminding me of san diego.

about my other family members in boston, soon i will be meeting up with a large number of them. i've never felt that i had any extended family in the US, but it seems that now my generation is coming into our own and actually being able to visit each other. Asia is going to get some sort of job training in boston for a week in september, and now Samuel is living in boston, at sid pac no less, going to mit for his PHD. wtf. of course there's always my young uncle sisi who is working in boston, and another cousin, yang, who's a freshman at yale. so it seems the bobby ren mafia is slowly taking form.

Friday, August 24, 2007

phi sig 2011

for the past two days i have found myself back at 487 commonwealth avenue again, in that great house where i discovered what it means to be a social animal. same old sights, sounds and smells, new occupants. i couldn't believe that the 08's were now seniors because they would always be the freshmen i had rushed in my senior year. (is it so long ago already?)

i went for work week, where we clean up the house and touch up things before rush. the familiar smell of paint, the dusty floors, the clutter of tools and random pieces of wood lying around 1st hall, they're still there. it's a never ending cycle: trash the house during summer, clean it up for rush, let it slide during the year, clean it up again, then summer comes and it repeats. that's phi sig for you.

i met some of the class of 2010 and decided they are great guys. just like every class i've met since joining phi sig. but oh i miss the hawaiian air that used to pervade the house, and is now only an idea. maybe we'll get some more during rush? who knows what the class of 2011 will be like. yes, the next class will be the class of 2011, born in 1989, when i was already 6 and immigrated to the US.

Friday, August 17, 2007

apartment found

my new address:

456 putnam ave
cambridge, ma 02139

I'm living in cambridgeport which is close to central square and MIT, and basically along the river. It's pretty nice.

here are some images:

on your left
on your right/kitchen
on your left/kitchen

there's also a back yard that potentially could support a garden as well as summer barbeques. nearby is a whole foods and trader joes, which will satisfy my craving for organic food and cheap wine and milk.

the best farmer's market ever

I went back to haymarket today because I finally had my apartment and didn't have to do any more searches.

For those who don't know, haymarket is da bomb market for fresh, cheap foods. And i realized that I still had my "grocery store" eyes for pricing because I saw something like 2 lbs tomatoes for $1 and was like holy crap that's a great deal but then I have to walk once through the whole market first because otherwise, the moment you buy something you'll see the next stand selling BETTER fruit for HALF the price.

Haymarket is somewhere where the unit of exchange is the dollar bill. So the larger the number, the better the deal. But sometimes you might be tempted by 8 oranges for a buck, but you realize those are the smallest oranges you've ever seen.

There's a stand with an old farmer couple that I always like to shop because their prices are kind of ridiculous (Something like 5 lbs of greenbeans for $1 and 8 cucumbers for $1.) No one ever has use for 5 lbs of green beans or 8 cucumbers before they go bad. But they're willing to let you mix and match so I got 3 green peppers and two cucumbers for $1. as paul would say (in a fobby voice) "you got a great deal!"

Thursday, August 16, 2007

boston in august

it is beautiful in cambridge. the weather's just slightly muggier than it was in san diego (more humid, not much hotter) and it just makes you appreciate any breeze more. i went to breakfast at andala cafe. my goal is to try every independent restaurant i the area on lincoln's tab. and there i had a chocolate croissant and an iced coffee. the cafe is located on the corner of river street and some small street near central square. it is raised up to the second level and i sat at an open window overlooking the outside patio seating. i could see myself bringing my laptop to do whatever it is we internet cafe people do at a cafe with internet. the food was pretty tasty and i wanted another chocolate croissant but didnt order it.

today is probably going to be ridiculously busy. i'm meeting with three realtors, one at 11, one at 1, one at 3. hopefully they can show me their listings in the two hours i slotted for each one. where's my camera?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

there, and back again

august 14th i am back in boston again, good old massachusetts on the east coast. the weather was nice (70) so that I would feel comfortable and only have to ease into the summer. it doesn't really seem real that i'm away from la jolla. i can still hear paul saying "oh man" or sei doing his machismo dance. instead of convoy, gilman, I-5, there's mass ave, storrow drive, I-93. none of which i know how to traverse in my car.

speaking of which, this is the rental car i have:

yes, i drove around today with the top off, cruising around cambridge apartment hunting. with r-kelly and usher's Same Girl blasting (as much as two male hiphop tenors can) on the radio. it was at once liberating and vindicating to drive a muscle sports car that was so impractical. my suitcase didn't fit in the trunk.

i am jumping into the apartment hunt. and the weather's slowly getting muggy so i will definitely be looking for central air or utilities included rentals.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

road rage stories

Ah, it's justice for the little guy. Although the story is a bit one sided and you might wonder what actually caused the rager to get all pissy.

And if there's ever a way to get over an encounter with someone that leaves you shaking in your boots, it's to post to craigslist. Or to rant on a blog. But man, I have to say, why do people get angry? It's not good for anyone.

surf paraphanelia packrat

I'm selling off my boards...well, just my old surfboard "big kahuna" which was basically a raft. But now that I have a buyer, I'm getting cold feet. One, it's a really cool looking old board that would be cool turned into many things non-surf, such as a bench, a raft (attach a sail), or just wall decoration. But also, I can't stop wondering if it might be some sort of long lost classic worth $1000, and here I'm giving it away for $20. And I want to save the fins too, which are still useless to me. Maybe to put on my wall? Turn into coasters? Turn into a bookend? Whatevs. Time to sell it, and if it turns out to be a valuable board, good for the guy who is out browsing craigslist and garage sales.

I am, of course, keeping Sharapova. I am returning ryan's board, though I have been surfing with it recently, ever since my skills got above the threshold needed to stand up on a shortboard. But it was broken and fixed, and I really have no use for two boards. But you can see why I want to pack everything until i have a garage full of useless surf paraphenelia.

Monday, August 6, 2007

cost and benefits of texting

I've always debated whether I should get the $5/month text message plan. I know I personally don't really text but many people, especially here in California, love to send text messages. And when the price went up from $.10 to $.15 (gasp!) it's like, the cost increased 150%. That's the same as if you're buying trader joe's two buck chuck in the east coast for $3. wtf?

But the costs don't come without benefits, of course. For one, people are sometimes socially lazy or shy, and it's so much easier to just send a message rather than having to go through the long sequence of a voice conversation. For example, if you're confirming some party details:

(Incoming msg from paul:)

bbq at my place 7 pm

It's much simpler to reply:

k cu there, ill bring beer

Than to say:

"hello, paul?"
"whats up"
"it's bobby. got your message."
and then you feel the need to make small talk.
"how was practice on saturday?"
"pretty good. i had to spar some big dude."
"that's cool. blah blah blah. anyways i'll bring beer."
"ok, see you at 7."

For this month, though, the $5 plan wouldn't have been worth it. I don't think I actually ever go over that from pure texting. So each message is definitely worth my 15 cents right. Just, for all u koreans out there, stop replying to my simple message with "kk~" or "^_^". there's no need for that. (hint, it costs 5 cents per letter that way!)


I guess I'm coming to the period where you lose track of your age. Or maybe it's an early onset of a mentally debilitating disease. But the twenties are where the years merge, and really, there are no more milestones until you're thirty. And nothing between twenty one and thirty really matter.

My friends are aging, as well. My generation. Sometimes it's striking, scary even, to see someone you used to know because inevitably, they've changed so much. And you realize that people's lives go on after you have taken different roads, and everyone continues to evolve. And the people you remember from way back when are no longer the same. You see it in their eyes that they are the same person, and if I close my eyes I can remember from ~7 years ago, what they were like, and what I was like. But that was so, so long ago.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

saying goodbye to the surf

My greatest memory of San Diego will be the surfing, I believe. Well, actually, the second greatest, because taekwondo was still such a huge part of my life here that it will be the defining factor. But the most memorable and defining NEW thing I did at San Diego would be the surf.

I've become a beach bum, and the horrible surf tan lines show it. And as I desperately surf as much as I can before I leave, I discover things daily about the sea, about myself. Old sailor's metaphors about the sea being a woman that you fall in love with are true, and now to say goodbye the only way is to spend as much time as possible with her.

I feel that in a mere year I've become more familiar with surfing than many beachgoers. Of course not everyone surfs so much, or get into a sport as intensely.

These days I'm still conflicted about which surfboard to bring back - my 9 footer (Sharapova) or the shortboard that is actually Ryan's. But the past two days I discovered that I can do some serious ripping on it. (well, some serious attempts at ripping.) So I'm reluctant to give that board up too. Maybe I just don't want to give up the surf.

Monday, July 30, 2007

currency of life

I've realized that money means nothing. Coming from a relatively poor chinese family, I've always learned that saving is important, and that reckless spending, even nonreckless spending, is hard to justify. Even up until college I was frugal. There are two distinct monetary moments I remember. When I started regularly paying off credit card bills when living at phi sig, there was a day when I realized my bills were consistently $200-300 or more, and I thought then that I was definitely moving up in society, because my bills were SO high. (now I think my bills are about $1000 per month.) Another time, I had gone to Tanglewood with some friends, when I realized the ticket to get in was $18 at the door. Of course I couldn't back out or make my friends leave, and I wasn't going to sit outside and wait for them to finish the concert. I paid the $20 ever so reluctantly and it literally felt like i was wrenching a body part from my wallet. But after the concert it was almost a release to have paid that money.

Money. I believe that once one has fulfilled a (relatively high) goal of achieving some small measure of wealth, there is no need to make further money - any more is limited by diminishing returns. I think that once your personal value goes beyond a certain number, say $100000, the numbers really don't mean anything anymore. But no one is every really rich if, socially, they are deprived of experiences that human beings really need to thrive. And often, it is the poorer people that actually are wealthy in social capital, because they are freer to experience the world as it should be. But I have no illusions that money isn't everything and that it is possible to be happy without it.

Over a lifetime, one will inevitably go from spending $3 average on a big mac as a kid and thinking "mcdonalds prices are going up, uh oh" to spending an average of $15 per person and thinking that it is a "great deal". In the end it all comes down to dollar signs and symbols that only abstractly represent some sort of wealth. Originally, after the barter system was replaced with a coinage system, money represented tangible assets such as heads of cattle, but now I feel that society has lost the true meaning of the dollar. For the rich or rich wannabe, a tiny cocktail that costs $15 is no surprise. Money has become dispensible. But the wealth that it buys is now invaluable - social capital.

And that's what I really seek. To be rich in social capital makes all other concerns pointless.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

It's funny that surfing, eating, being at the beach, and everything I do all the time seems so much better when friends are with you. Sometimes I wish that I could have Boston during the week and San Diego during the weekends. At least, weekends once a month or something like that..kind of like a vacation.

Actually I've decided that I will really miss California. Maybe it's one of those situations where you're always longing for the thing you don't have, but soon I think San Diego will be just a memory that I'll miss. And it's not necessarily that I liked the weather that much, or that downtown or the suburbs themselves were any special, or even the fact that there is surf here. But I think that any place or experience ultimately gets defined by the people you end up knowing during that time.

If I were to stay in San Diego, I think I would be very happy with the way I get to see my friends. I am perfectly fine driving up to LA once in a while. The distance makes each visit to Costa Mesa, then to Inglewood, and now up to Culver City, a more worthwhile and meaningful trip. Now that Hyon is living in LA, there would be a network of Phi Sigs, going from San Diego all the way up to the UCLA area. Anyone could make a roadtrip through SoCal and have a place to crash every night.

And that's exactly what Beeg did this weekend, basically roadtripping over most of California with Tiff, Susan, and Patricio. We celebrated Hyon's birthday Friday, complete with a 5 am trip to BCD Tofu house. And that's when I realized that my understanding of California has begun to solidify. I am able to take people to good places to eat, sleep, party because I have experienced enough of California to start to play host to a very very small fraction of it.

On the way home was an interesting mental game of communication as cars. I was following Tiff as she drove down to SD, and later I went ahead to lead them to Sei's. But during that time in my mind I amuzed myself by thinking of how to communicate to them purely by responding to a lead (for example, changing lanes) and using the blinkers and high beams to signal things. And I realized that I'm one of those people that would imagine and overanalyze any such signal, much like people read into nuances over AIM a bit too much. For example I'd think of a complex way to indicate that we should change lanes (when I was in the back) then I'd also think of ways to tell them that I was going to change lanes to get ahead of them, but that they shouldn't do it too. Of course, the other car probably didn't notice anything.

This morning we made it to La Jolla Shores beach. Beeg and I were both amazed at the surf today. La Jolla Shores' turquoise waters were clear enough to see the shadow of the surf board five feet deep. Then we played at the Cove while waiting for the rest of the group to return from lunch. I think I have some prescient ability to find members of a part that are separated, because we randomly parked after not being able to call them on the phone, and there was the other car parked right across the street. So now I have gained the dangerous trust in my ability, if planning doesn't go well and a party gets separated, to find them and reunite the lost.

After thoroughly enjoying the food offered by Convoy ktown restaurants, we said goodbye over bags of spicy chicken. It's back to life as usual, I guess, Your usual week of labor so that weekends like the last could happen.

the west coast chill factor

Maybe it's also a korean chill factor, although hyon's roommate proved that not all koreans are like that. But I've definitely come to appreciate truly chill people.

I've always been an intense person, sometimes in an up and down way, but I like feeling so pumped up or dedicated to something that it's almost scary. Like cutting weight. Or getting road rage. But then sometimes I wish I could just let it all go and honestly be able to chill, because I reall respect those types of people, who can give to friends freely, forgive mistakes, and always be down for anything.

and whats with those surfers who are so antagonistic? chill, bra. not everyone is as good as you so give me some fuckin slack. its sad to say that surfers who ask if youre ok first if you crash, they are the exception, not the norm.

Friday, July 27, 2007

is it the weekend yet?

No fool, it's thursday. And you skipped taekwondo to go to sushi deli. Which was delicious, and cheap. But who could resist starting the weekend early? Not the AT&T salesperson, who, as I strolled in the door at 7:55, was so eager to close shop that he simply replaced my burned cellphone charger with one they had in the back shelves. That's why you stroll in at 7:55.

So tonight at 11:59 it's going to be the Simpsons movie at edwards mira mesa! I'm excited and not at the same time. They've been advertising it so much, with 7-11s turning into kwikimarts all over california, it's hard not to want to see it. But then somehow I feel that it's going to be two hours of the Simpsons. The movie had better be damn good, because you could sit through hours of the Simpsons just watching reruns and it would be still hella entertaining. Yes I said hella, damn you Paul.

On the other hand, I think HogWild said it the best:

"The Simpsons has outlasted the popularity of beepers, Arsenio Hall, Milli Vanilli, and the Commodore 64 computer."

But even with the late beginning to my Friday (I'll probably roll in around 11 am tomorrow) I'm going to have to make like a bush and get the hell out of the office early. (wow that works on two levels!) Because I give myself about 4 hours to make it through LA traffic, so I can get up to Irvine, pick up Ed Song, go to LA, meet up with Hyon Lee who is now living in LA for the next year, bringing the grand total of Socal Phi Sigs briefly up to 4. Also, Beeg is coming down after an 8 hour drive from SanFran, with his board, and we'll hit up some bars friday night and the beach saturday. That why I can't wait for the weekend because it's going to be HELLA sweet. (I hate you Paul)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

political punditry, stewart style

There is a light in today's political darkness. It airs daily on the Comedy Central and is hosted by "either the most intelligent funny man on TV or the most funny intelligent man on tv", Jon Stewart.

Yes, I'm talking about the Daily Show, the people's source for trustworthy and entertaining news in this time of political and media incompetence.

Because I have no cable at home (though we get two channels, but I'm not big on TV) or newspapers my news sources are NPR on the way to work, digg (which is mostly geeky timewasters), and lately, the Daily Show through the Comedy Central dot com.

Sure, you might say, "That's an awfully skewed source of news. digg and comedy central can't really even be considered news. And it's probably leftist just based on the medium." But you know what? When I watch Jon Stewart I'm hearing all the same headlines I get from the radio, but now, with the help of vastly out of context video clips, is suddenly funny and surprisingly relevant. That's right kids, politics is fun!

But despite Jon being a comedian, I feel that he truly believes in the responsibility of the media to inform and help the people. And by making fun of it, I think the Comedy Central is actually working out better as a media outlet than, oh, say CNN. (but the most notorious, according to digg users, must be FOX.)

Well you can decide for yourself. Comedian Jon Stewart is the only one NOT a clown on crossfire:

"If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're more than welcome! ... You're on CNN! The show leading into mine is puppets making crank phone calls!"

so basically I'm addicted to the daily show now. i can't get enough of jon stewart's horrible impersonations. Click here to get your Daily news.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

best fight scene ever


it's one of the worst fight scenes ever, from strike of the panther. read the article first and then watch the movie with the sound off. maybe the sound on, but i'd think that would make it too painful to see all the way through. a fight clip hasnt made me laugh like this since the englishmen fight in bridget jones' diary. yes, i watched that movie. rene zellweger's a great actress.

and i just noticed that one of the people in that scene (the bridget jones scene) is gaius from BSG!


actually, the worst fight scene ever is undefeatable which I had seen on some other digg site earlier. the slomo in the beginning is awesome. and at one point you can see the guy grabbed the wrong part of the arm of his attacker, and they both spend about 5 seconds correcting it before he commences eye gouging.

i should put up my fight video filmed in the z center oh so many years ago.


There's something to be said about the excitement one has upon discovering that he has ice cream in the freezer. Yeah, because I never actually have ice cream or cookies, today when opened my fridge to look for food I was exceedingly happy to remember that I had bought french vanilla ice cream. Yet I still have no other food. If I had a whole fridge to myself, which I will soon, it will be a colossal waste of space.

The other thing that is nice to have are clean sheets. I figure that I might as well wash them before packing them, possibly for long term storage. Then I figured I might as well enjoy the cleanliness before I pack them, even though they won't be as pristine when I seal up the box. It's the same as washing your car or fixing it. Right before you decide to sell your car, it's time to get a tune up, wash it, fix the dents. But why not do it while you still own it, and can enjoy it? Just like a house. Before you sell it, you do some remodeling. Why not put in that extra fireplace while you're still living in it?

I guess humans are creatures of habit. And lazy. And once in a while, easily made happy by the discovery of a box of ice cream. I read a short work of nonfiction that described some psychology study about how we always misestimate the affect certain events will have on our happiness - the results showed that a good event will be "good" for less time and less intensely than we expect, but also that a bad event will make us unhappy for less time and less intensely than we expect. But I think sometimes events that you don't expect anything at all will make you happy.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It's almost August, and I've been trying to find a day that would motivate me enough to start blogging again. That day hasn't come. But I think the tidbits that have happened every day since BEFORE senior nationals have slowly accumulated into a story worth telling, and at the risk of losing a whole sunday afternoon during which I have had nothing else to do but air my sheets in the sun, here is in brief everything that has been.


Nationals was as hectic as usual, and even more so because our crew was divided over two days. Maybe that made it a bit better in terms of not having to run around watching ten matches at the same time, but it made us have to deal with sparring, warming up, writing down brackets, etc. for two days instead of the usual one. Day two was delayed ridiculously. Most of our matches started at, maybe 6 pm, forcing Conor to have to debate whether he'd have to miss his airplane to actually spar. To quote Alicia, "It gives new meaning to fight or flight."

The day before, we all had a nice dinner at the Spaghetti factory that turned into a reunion of three sort of separate, sort of cohesive groups of people. During a tournament, spaghetti always tastes so good.

Alicia's visit to SD

Alicia visited me in San Diego afterwards, which was great because that trip had passed way too quickly. Unfortunately I had forgotten to bring our free Southwest drink coupons. Not that we wanted to put anything else in our stomachs after the usual post-tournament binging.

We had a good time winetasting at Orfila Vineyards, and bought a great bottle of Gewurztraminer. Their brandy infused port tasted just as good as it did last time i went.

We also went downtown, where I was, in a drunken stupor, amazed by the extremely low prices at Sushi Deli. It's great sushi, at ridiculously low prices. I am amazed. I will be going again next week, maybe more than once.

Surf addiction

Since taekwondo is somewhat on the backburner now, I've been able to find time to participate in my other love in sports: surfing. (tennis and racketball are kind of a given, not a love). And as I wonder how I'll be able to live without the rolling waves in Boston, I've taken every opportunity to go surf this past week.

Except I think I'm surfed out, at least for the time being. On friday I had some runins with a few dick surfers who actually yelled at me for running into them. Well, I feel bad for not being as good as them, but hey, the wave hit me by surprise, ok? I'm sorry I have a real job and aren't as good on the board.

So instead of sunning myself, I'm letting my blankets soak up the rays today. That way I will have nice sunny bedding on the way back to Boston.

Friday, July 6, 2007

buying happiness

people say you can't buy happiness, but i don't think that's true. definitely when i'm stressed the only thing that can make me feel better is shopping. yeah i sound like a woman but there have been times after tough exams at mit where i felt like i needed to waste the rest of the day at the galleria. actually during that time it was more that i went to petco to buy more aquarium supplies. i was a fishtank addict.

now my big goal i'm looking forward to is stocking up my new apartment. since i'm practically moving to a completely new place empty handed, i'm going to be buying a ton of things. mostly it's the kitchen that is going to need novation (renovation, but not re-). i also will be getting a couch and tv for the living room at some point...but those aren't as essential. so today i went to linens n things because they had a sale, and got a toaster oven and vacuum cleaner. these are things i've never owned in my life before...and it's exciting.

yes i know buying happiness is only a temporary thing, i'm under no illusions. it simply means i will be seeking out new things to buy in the near future. such as, a baby grand piano. maybe i SHOULD get that four room apartment, so i can make one of the rooms a piano room.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

happy 4th...or is it?

it's fourth of july and i'm at work because i'm a nerdy workaholic and i have to finish some stuff before taking a vacation next week. but still i'd rather sit at my computer and blog about the state of our nation this 4th of july.

if you're like me and get your news from the internet and various blogs rather than networked news channels, you'll see that there's a lot of bullshit going on in washington, especially from our number 1 failure Dubya and his sidekick, or is cheney the real evil behind the scenes?

and there's been action for impeachment. yes, the american people are actually sick of bush and cheney, and congress might grow some balls and actually take action. but honestly i don't think there's any real point in doing it now. unless you get a real statement out, ie someone actually goes to jail, these calls for impeachment will end up just a handwaving gesture to appease the public until bush finishes his second term, happily retiring to his ranch much like paris hilton has happily retreated to hawaii after her sad excuse for a jail sentence.

i'm no political pundit so all i'm writing is purely a subjective, probably ill-informed opinion based on what i read and hear. after all, life for the average (relatively well off, middle class, white or as close to white as possible) american is just fine. but there's a gut feeling that the way the us is going probably won't be good for us in the near future, or for our children. what happens when the US becomes a surveillance state like britain has unknowingly become? what happens when our foreign relations are so down the drain that there's a large possibility of another real terrorist attack? in fact, just because of that fearful attitude, our lives have already been compromised. but we've been at it so long that americans are used to widespread id checks, long airport lines, internet surveillance.

so what do we have to celebrate for this 4th of july? i almost refused to celebrate today...partly because i shouldnt barbeque because i'm cutting weight, but also to complain about the US. why should i be patriotic? why should i salute our flag, which is being used to run illegal wars, abroad and at home? why should i be proud of a nation that originally voted this idiot into office, and still supports him to some degree?

but then i realized that to celebrate the fourth purely for our times is arrogant and unjustified. the 4th of july is symbolic of the history of the united states, and the original founding of a great nation that has only recently strayed from its path. this date represents the genius and foresight of our fathers - washington, jefferson, adams, madison, hamilton. it does not represent any sort of bush at all. i will salute their ideas that america was founded on the principle of freedom and democracy. jefferson was the original american advocate of small government and feared exactly what would happen today. his secretary of state and next president, james madison, stated that a president should be impeached if he is suspected of protecting anyone associated with him for a crime he had a hand in. just like libby. (from daily kos) so it looks like the fourth of july represents everything right about our nation...and everything wrong about today.

so celebrate the 4th like you mean it. drink the beer and eat the burgers, but remember what they are for. this nation needs it.

i swear allegiance...

Sunday, July 1, 2007

july 1st

today i finished the manga "monster" by naoki urasawa. it is absolutely riveting. i couldn't put it down for the last week or so. at first i was able to read about one volume a day, but yesterday and today i went through four or five. and for a little while in the afternoon i was lost between reality and some strange mix of international espionage, murder mysteries, child psychology, and tidbits of moral lessons about family and normality. and for a while i couldnt distinguish between la jolla, ca, and frankfurt, dusseldorf, and other eastern european cities.

and then i was reading some articles about basic science questions and was once again shocked at the incompetence of basic american science knowledge. which means, i realized my own knowledge was sufficently deficient that i needed badly to get to a library, pronto. that's how i rediscovered the "public library", and got a library card to the san diego public library system.

at the la jolla library, i searched for the fundamentals. a post-mtv, blog generation internet addict like me has less of an attention span than a high schooler, so i decided the best way to approach my reeducation would be to search the children's section for science fundamentals books. and that's what i got...the thinner, more pictures available, rudimentary explainations, the better. of course i threw in a few history/social science books (the atlas of our presidents and their times!) and i wanted a book about all of america's wars, but they were only available at the downtown library.

so now i have my summer reading. i ended up reabsorbing some basic physics over a glass of whiskey at the pool. i'm hoping that between manga and science, i can eventually become a great doctor like monster's kenzo tenma. the moral of this story is: find the library. turn off that computer.

Friday, June 29, 2007

triple eyyyy!

i ran into this old guy who had a flat tire today, and stopped to call triple a. as we were waiting, it was interesting to see just how many people would turn their heads as they slowed down while passing by. i always wonder if they're just interested to see if there was an accident ("omg did that guy just hit a biker?") or if they're wondering if we needed help. i tend to think they're just curious because really, if i passed a stopped car and glanced, i'm doing nothing more than looking for signs of a crash.

anyway, this guy was a real old timer. i really wanted to ask him about world war ii. he was born may 30, 1926, and as we were sitting around waiting for the AAA service van, i wanted to ask him about his life and all the interesting history that he must have experienced. i did that once, for a school project, interviewing an old lady about her husband's experiences in world war ii. for a generation that is so hooked on wwii shooter games like call of duty, why is nobody taking advantage of the opportunity to ACTUALLY experience it through someone who was alive during the time?

you know when people do something good, others will either say "you're a good samaritan" and that person will either reply "it's the right thing to do" or "it makes me feel good". but deep down, everyone does nice things because they either 1) want recognition for it in this life or 2) want recognition for it in the next life. I am both, but i can honestly say it did feel good when edward omalley shook my hand.

however, this whole episode reminded me of another story. the guy who is first in line in buying an iPhone is apparently a n obsessive linesitter. that got me thinking, are there obsessive do-gooders? like, people who get in line are there because they WANT that item, and WANT bragging rights for being first to get it. but this linesitter may or may not even want the item or the bragging rights, but just wants to BE FIRST. all of this is leading me to imagine a short fiction story about an obsessive good samaritan, who does things not because he wants good karma, or gratitude, but because he needs to help others. i mean, people do that...they need to help others so they'll feel good about themselves. but i mean take this to another level, like someone who would put others into situations where he can help them.

if i were a good writer and had a longer attention span and better imagination, i could see this as becoming either an award winning satire or dark fiction, or a widely circulated children's book that teaches you morals.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

flying united in june

what the heck was i doing in june? i logged like 20k miles on my united account. it looks like i travelled every week. ok, maybe i practically did.

so now my personal united airlines mileage has hit the 50k mark. that means two free flights, or one super free flight. and two of those trips were on an interview, so the company footed the tab. sweet.


although i need coffee right about now, i'm actually referring to that programming language i was so familiar with, two or three years ago. i still am, apparently, at least enough to finish a vecna recruitment survey. and actually, after having done so much c, it is quite a breath of fresh air. there's this thing...called a "javadoc"...yea, it tells you what you can and can't do in your code. much easier, but sometimes less fun, than having to deal with memory allocations and low level structs.

i don't know much about vecna yet, but so far this interview process is so much less stressful than the one with google.

Monday, June 25, 2007

google, boston

i finished my interview with google today. and no, it didn't go well, because my brain is basically asleep this morning. or maybe i'm dual personalitied, because when i am in conversation mode i eel much more apt than when i begin to be technical. i'm fine technically when i'm in my own office, but not on the spot. where taco bell's motto is "think outside the bun" mine is "make it a double double, animal style."

it suffices to say that the problems are always interesting, even if i don't come up with good answers. right away. or even after a minute of silent staring at the board, which is actually what i did. but the google headquarters in boston are just as nice as i imagined them. and alot of what you read on interviews with google blog posts on the net - the printed nametag, the naked juice. i didn't see a big screen of current google searches. i did see a larger presence of colorful bouncy balls than i expected.

i always admire interviewers, because they are smart and focused but also know how to get through an interview, even if the interviewee was not doing well. the two guys i talked with were very friendly, although during long pauses every mark they made on their papers (it couldn't have been copying something i wrote because i wasn't writing) seemed to me like a comment on my unresponsiveness. i know that you're supposed to think out loud. i WAS thinking outloud - there was nothing going through my head.

the head of recruitment person was super friendly. he made my rejection almost fun. so in the end it was definitely not a bad experience, though a relatively large disappointment. it helps that i'm from the area so i feel comfortable leaving, but still.

either way this weekend felt like i was moving back, whereas before it still felt like a visit. i guess it's all the actual moving from one apartment to another we did on sunday. so now all i have to do is find an apartment.

Friday, June 22, 2007

physical and mental exercise

i've come to really understand that the brain is just like a muscle. you have to constantly use it to keep it in shape. there will be times when you have to prepare for something...a tournament, an interview, a test, a marathon, etc. and if you haven't exercised hurts.

my body was so sore this morning because i had started "working out" again. this isn't even tournament season workout. it was a couple of sprint drills on tuesday, kicking paddles on wednesday and monday. and there i was waking up at 9:30 and feeling like i got two hours of sleep after getting hit by a truck.

i suddenly realized today that it's the same thing when it comes to mental exercises. they tell you in college that you can't really cram. it's not really effective...maybe it's like carboloading and basically sucking it up for some strenuous exercise, after which you are completely spent. and the alternative to that is to train consistently, whether it's doing exercise every day, or continuing to learn every day.

the difference is that it's easy to force your body to do something, like run for 30 minutes. and even if you can't...if you just do it straight for 3 weeks there will be a marked and inarguable improvement. but with the brain. you can't just go outside and start doing mental jogging. it's like when you just leave college, you know all the (mental) jogging trails. as time passes, those trails get grown over with weeds, shrubs, greenery, and soon you're left in a little open field where the boundaries are clearly defined, but you're not sure how to explore past the treeline. so you have to bust out a machete.

sometimes i look back at my MIT classes and only now can i really appreciate their magnitude.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

technical knockout

i see one coming. omfg.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

surfin and chefin, day 2

ah the things i can get accomplished when i have a weekend at home. meaning, pretty muching nothing, but surfing, then cooking and eating and getting drunk. yep, the following pictures represent a small, but necessary, part of my life.

today i went surfing again. ryan went home relatively early because the lack of a rashguard was making him uncomfortable, and the waves were a bit more choppy. still they were good waves, and i brought my camera out by myself this time, strapped around my neck along with my car keys and my puka shell necklace of st christopher, the patron saint of surfers.

there were times when the bonfires and barbeques smelled so good on the beach.

then when i got back home, the thought of beer was so good. when you surf, you leave STARVING. and because i was supposed to have rice yesterday, i decided to make some rice today. but because i had fettuccini yesterday, i decided to skip around and make the pork chops that's for something like day 5.

well, i reached a new level of chefdom. it's something like, at level 1, you can make ramen. at level 5, you learn to make scrambled eggs. at level 10, you can cook a whole spaghetti dinner. and at level 30, you learn to make a wine reduction.

so today basically i made pork chops and veggies, but also added basmati rice and broccoli. i heated the broccoli in the rice cooker as the rice was finishing. but the special touch was when i decided...hey there's a lot of bits of veggies and pork stuck to the pan, so i'm going to pour this shiraz in...what about cranberries? so then my masterpiece: pork with cranberry shiraz reduction with basmati rice. yum.

anyways, two beers for cooking, one glass of wine for eating. life is good.

surf's up

my water camera has proven a good investment. it's really clear, and floats. (that's a relief.) and very waterproof. only thing is it doesn't take i didnt actually get a $99 underwater camcorder.

here are some pictures from my flickr set:

waiting in the calm

catching that wave

Ryan paddling for the wave

the waves get thicker and calmer at the end of the night. there were smooth, thick, fun waves around 6:30 pm tonight, and the sun was no longer blinding as you looked out to sea. I wish i had my camera later in the night because there were nice rays coming from the setting sun.

men's fitness diet: day 2

actually it's more like day 4.5, because i didn't get to go home for dinner thursday or friday. today's recipe called for shrimp fajitas, but i actually left my tortillas at work for day 1's lunch along with my brown rice, and the avocados were not ripe. so i improvised and turned the shrimp fajitas into spicy shrimp fettuccini with peppers and onions. and it went well with a nice beer and slice of sweet potatoe pie.

i guess i'm deviating from the recipes. but the whole point is to try new recipes. so i've made basically a jazzed up version of my typical spaghetti dinner, and it's pretty tasty. especially after a 3 hour surf session.

Friday, June 15, 2007

toolin all night

tomorrow's a presentation day at work. some big money spenders are coming to see our current progress at the office. that that means we have to go from simulation to getting the apple scanner working on real trees (and fake apples) in the parking lot, and the orange scanning arm to work on real trees. at least to demo it, because we took pictures with the apple scanner.

so here we are at 1 AM, the office lights still on. sometimes i work late...but this time it's different because other people are still here. it gives it that familiar all-nighter feeling, even though it's only 1 and that's when people usually stop procrastinating at school and START.

but my favorite time is at around 10 or 11, when it seems everyone's starting to get tired for real, but you're not sure if the night's going to end at 12 or going on way later. and usually it's time for a food break because by now you probably haven't eaten since dinner. and sometimes you skip dinner.

so i'm at the point where i'm probably done, and even if i go home now it's no later than when i usually go to bed. but working through the whole night like this makes your brain tired, so at a point earlier tonight i stopped being able to think and solve problems. ah, how i've grown weak! used to be, a midnight meals break would kick start my mind again. not this time. but at least i'll remember that day when, during the afternoon i got to haul around fruit trees and heavy machinery, and in the evening i tooled to candlelight and fatty midnight snacks. i just need my typical black cherry diet pepsi and laverdes to be home again.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

summer is here

scripps is 67.8 degrees. i believe that's the threshold where i can move from the wetsuit to the trunks. funny that in the span of ~2 months the water temperature rises 10 degrees. and it's sunny outside, and this weekend i am not going anywhere. stay tuned, underwater surf pictures coming up soon.

day 1: rotisserie chicken with baby greens and asparagus

ok, so here i start the men's fitness diet. it's not actually a diet, because i'm eating three times the variety i'd normally eat, twice the calories, and spending about 2.5 times the money. (i spent an even $50 at trader joes and ralph's tonight, but that included some extras like indian food and cereal.)

day 1 dinner: rotisserie chicken, baby greens salad, roast asparagus portabello and onions.

the last rotisserie chicken at ralphs was taken after i turned around and decided to buy it. so i substituted turkey wings instead. sounds ok, right? a larger bird must have more meat, and turkey's lean, healthy, full of taste, a good alternative to your everyday blah chicken. turns out baking turkey takes a lot of effort, and the meat was still hard to get to, and a bit chewy. not as good as precooked rotisserie, i think, which would be well worth the extra $3.

asparagus is tasty. my cooking skills, however, are still clearly lacking, as the rest of the veggies (portabello and onions) came out simply a bit soggy on the bottom, dry on the top, and overall not very tasty.

the trader joe's sauvignon blanc goes well with a white meat such as turkey. the baby greens, something i normally would not eat, and at $3.50 for 5 oz is not something i'd ever consider buying, was a tasty diversion from the usual salad. at the end of the night i'm left with a ziplock bag full of leftovers, homemade aioli (sauce for tortillas), and excitement for tomorrow's lunch.

st peter and woot

today's woot had quite an entertaining story. i guess they're usually entertaining. i wonder who sits down to write them?

anyways, for a simple Vivitar 8.1MP Digital Camera with 6X Optical Zoom and 2.8" LCD, which only got one or two mentions in the whole story, here is a story about st peter.

We're Off To Take Pictures Of The Wizard

A glass of water sat on St. Peter’s gold-trimmed marble desk. On the surface of the water sat a small box-like structure, made by folding up the sides of a piece of ordinary window screen. Eyes a-goggle, St. Peter stared in wonderment as the screen boat lazily floated across the water.

“I give up, Don,” St. Peter finally laughed. “Why doesn’t it sink? I mean, the thing’s full of holes! And it’s made of metal! What gives, huh? What gives?”

The new arrival smiled. “You see, all matter is made up of tiny particles called molecules. Molecules are all attracted to other molecules, some more strongly than others, and this attraction is called adhesion. The adhesion of the water molecules to each other forms a kind of ‘skin’ on the water’s surface, which is strong enough to hold up the screen without breaking. This is called ‘surface tension.’ Now, er, if you’ve seen enough, maybe I can go on through the gates-”

St. Peter waved a hand impatiently. “In a minute, in a minute. What’s the hurry, right? Eternity isn’t going anywhere.” With an eager flourish, the white-bearded saint produced a glass milk bottle, a hard-boiled egg, a strip of newsprint, and a match from beneath his gossamer robes. “First, how about the egg-in-the-bottle trick? Please? I’ve never seen this one in person.”

Don sighed a weary sigh. “OK, but take a picture. I’m not going to do this every time you want to see it.”

“One step ahead of you there.” St. Peter turned on his Vivitar 8600s 8.1MP Digital Camera. “Check this Vivitar out – an 8 MP sensor, a 2.8” LCD, and a 6x optical zoom. That’s twice the zoom of your standard camera. Pretty scientific, huh, Don? Ooh, I know! I’ll take a video! The 8600s takes VGA mpeg4 video at 30fps!”

Keeping his opinions about the Vivitar brand to himself, Don started the experiment. He’d done it a thousand times before. Light the strip of paper on fire. Drop it in the bottle. Set the egg on the open neck of the bottle. SHLUP! In goes the egg, fully intact. He couldn’t believe he was running through this banal stunt once again, while all the delights of Heaven waited for him just beyond the gates. But Don’s impatience turned into delight when he saw the awed grin on St. Peter’s face. This was what he’d lived for. So what if I’m dead?, Don thought. Life is temporary. Science is forever.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

housing hunt

craigslist is my temporary obsession as i start my housing search once again.

i have a dream house. it is located neatly between CW and MIT, near the shaws. has off street parking and a small grassy back yard. it is a 1 br place with a kitchen and a small living/dining room, and a separate bedroom.

of course this place does not exist at my price range. i don't even know if it exists at all. but as i'm searching, there are many places that sound like they'd be close, all of them somewhat farther, or smaller, or with less amenities.

here are some of the links:

one thing i discovered was that sublets often lead to potential lease renewals. and that means, if someone's moving early and desperately wants to get some of their rent back, they will sublet a very decent place for cheaper than usual rent. that doesn't mean the normal rent will be lower, but that means you might be able to secure a nice place for a small fee.

the search goes on. craigslist is my new woot.

Friday, June 8, 2007

drinking games

from through digg, it's Top 10 drunk multiplayer games.

after reading all the worthless news flying around, i've finally found something worthwhile.

and while i haven't played all these games, i definitely agree with the top four choices:

4. guitar hero 2
3. wii sports
2. halo 2
1. super mario smash bros

of course, from my personal experience, super mario double dash should be up there somewhere too. except for the fact that other than nathan, brandon and me, it becomes far too challenging to race well, especially rainbow road. especially after shots of soco 100.

and my favorite single player drunk game: oblivion iv.

karaoke revolution also tops the list. however, it's different because sometimes you have to be drunk to play it, otherwise you (conor) would NEVER sing.

waste of space

you know the news around paris hilton going to jail, being reduced to house arrest, then going back to jail? well it's gotten wayy to much attention, more than she deserves. and why i'm writing about it here i don't know, but maybe i'm commenting on how people on the internet are stupid. and it's too funny to read the Letters to Paris blog comments. stupid people who post comments on blogs are stupid. paris hilton is a waste of space in this world, and a waste of space on my blog.

as one commenter said, "I hope the papparazzi stop following you, you don't deserve it."

dreaming of hawaii again

i think it was mike's banquet video that got me into hawaiian music again. i used to love ekolu, and that was about the extent of my knowledge. i suddenly remembered when justin young performed at the MIT Luau (2006). and i had found a justin young clip on my computer, so that got me thinking...i still have $12 on my itunes account from a gift card. i'm glad i got that gift card now because now i own:

One foot on Sand

But then i tried to chase down the hawaiian rendition of Over the Rainbow. Turns out this was by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole who was one of three hawaiians to be honored with the hawaiian flag half mast at his death. and really...this song is beautiful.

Hear it on Rhapsody.

See a music video on YouTube.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

a new world of media

ah, looks like i'm finally taking a step forward in the video/photography/media sector of my life. ever since i was a child (ok, well, 11th or 12th grade) i was an avid fan of making movies. lets see. the earliest movie i can remember now is my class project's rendition of Lord of the Flies in which we portrayed Simon and his campaign in a "presidential election". we had some advanced special effects too...when simon turns into a dove, we used stop photography and flour powder.

when my skills and toolset moved from VHS TAPE and its endless record/play cutting tedium to digital media, i discovered adobe premiere. and ever since, i've been struggling with the fact that i got adobe premiere for free, and will never be able to make videos look as good for as little memory as the big dvd studios do.

until now. muhahahah!

this endlessly useful article, Everything you wanted to know about video codecs, gives me the scoop on a new codec, x264. Actually, other than this bit of information, everything else i actually learned about in 6.341. wow, this class website hasn't changed. only now i recall seeing "H.264" on our study sheet, as a detail that i didn't bother to learn. who'da thought that might be the new codec of choice?

well i havent actually done anything with this knowledge yet. i will be downloading some encoders and decoders and whatnot. thank god for opensource...only now i understand its meaning and importance. so maybe soon i can process nicer videos...or at least compress my raw videos in a way that keeps as much of the original quality as possible, without forcing me to buy more external hard drives.

on other media news...i received my new camera that was purchased off of woot. it's basically my birthday present from my parents, i guess, that i managed to catch on last week's woot-off. at only $99, it's surprisingly better than my old klunky kodak, which has probably officially died. and the underwater case that comes with it is waterproof to 10 feet...enough for me to go take surfing pictures from the board. i'm really glad that now i have a digital camera again, and that it is more compact/portable, cheaper, and probably comparable in quality than my old one. so stay tuned...for some amazing surf shots! next up...underwater video camera for surf videos, compressed with the x264 codec?

teams i will miss


i miss the MIT team.

i remember the days when i was a senior (but not graduating yet) and the actual seniors who were leaving were on the banquet slideshow. and when we watched the videos it was nostalgic. and the same happened my year, only better. and looking back was magic. it was like, how did we ever manage to have such a good year? how could i have lived through so many great events, been with so many great people? photos, yearbooks, banquet videos, they're not enough for us to commemorate the past. it only suffices if you had lived through it, and the memories were part of you.

i watched this year's banquet video again. and strangely, i felt the same way, almost as if i had been living MIT sport taekwondo. in a sense I have, because i've seen all the people - dan, alicia, nathan, even RDC and john wong, and to a lesser extent the other 07s, several times this year. so i feel just as sad that the team that i've known is leaving. who will remain when i return?

here is this year's MIT Sport TKD Banquet Video on youtube.

but THEN again,
i look at UCSD,
and I know i will miss them too.

it's been a great year and it's only getting better. i feel more and more recently that things are falling together. there is a core group of people that i feel will allow the club to live on. i can always depend on paul, mike, tiffany, kyung to be at practice, and now even master baik. (today we had a great kicking session, just me, master baik and kyung. 1 hr paddles, 1 hr sparring. almost like CW.)

and that the banquet seemed a success, that we hosted a tournament and dominated it, that people feel it is important enough to dress up, make speeches, to pass the torch to a team of student leaders for next year, all of these make me feel that ucsd is only starting to shine and find its footing. i'm glad that i was here near the beginning. i hope that i have made an impact.

and i think that, even though i've spent more time leaving teams than joining them, i think my 1 year trip to the west coast has given me a new outlook, on taekwondo and life. it's like fusion sushi - i bring the best of east and west together on one plate. i know for sure that moving outside of the bubble of the new england region's taekwondo has made me better - i understand that taekwondo exists on a larger scale, i have met people and made connections, i have achieved many things and will strive to achieve more.

i'm going to come back a more worldly competitor. i'm going to come back, rejuvenated from helping build a new team. and i'm going to combine that energy with the nostalgia i've felt for the old team for so long. and who knows what will come of that?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

money for thought

so i looked through my finances, and these are roughly the numbers i've spent on "Food" this year.

Total food:

Restaurant bills where i've paid for the whole tab on my credit card (and got cash):

Total food that i acutally ate (excluding above):
~ $862.21
This approximates the amount i spent on my credit card at restaurants, but omits whatever cost i actually incurred in the bills above

Total Spent at Trader Joe's:

Total Spent at Ralphs:

Total Spent at the local groceries (Trader Joes + Ralphs):

Total Spent on food, but not at Trader Joes or Ralphs:
$862.21 - $455.12 = $407.09
This estimates the money i spend eating out, but may include other grocery stores

Groceries per week, assuming 22 weeks

Restaurants per week
$18.50 this right? I don't seem to be spending much for food at all. Thus, the effect of cutting weight?

food for thought

as if i never have food on the mind...

but anyways, after half a week of gluttony, which actually resulted in ennui and an overall dissatisfaction in life's tasty pleasures, i think i'm turning back to obsessing about food. more specifically, i'm interested to know how much i spend on food per week.

actually this is something i'd been wanting to track - ever since members of congress took on the congressional food stamp challenge, in which each person spent only $21 (the equivalent of what many of the poorest people get in food stamps) per week for food, i've been curious about the exact limits of a wallet, and its effects on your belt.

then i see this article on Men's Health about healthy, relatively inexpensive weekly shopping lists: Shop once, Eat for a Week.

men's health is my guide to living healthy...during season. the magazine is a great read on the elliptical, to make those tortuous 15 minutes pass. so in case this link goes away (it's not a blog, but a stupid online magazine article) here is the basic text of the article below.

Of course, now that I look at the article closer, it only extends to Thursday night. What the heck do i do friday and saturday? i guess they assume you go out and eat. not everyone can live a spartan life like i do when i'm training for taekwondo, but alas.

and if you read the recipes closely, you see a pretty diverse menu. good for a magazine that wants its readers to stay interested, i guess, whereas it would really be easy to buy large bulk potatoes, rice and maybe some meat and make variations on that. but basically:

sunday = american/italian
monday = tropical/latin american
tuesday = italian
wednesday = asian
thursday = american/spanish

The Grocery List:

Frozen Shrimp 1 lb uncooked, medium size
Rotisserie Chicken 1 cooked
Pork Tenderloin 1 herb-flavored or lemon-garlic marinated (about 3/4 lb)
Bell Peppers 1 tray tricolor (or pick out 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 orange)
Yellow Onions 2 lb
Baby Mixed Greens 4 oz bag, washed
Portobello Mushrooms 2 large caps
Asparagus 1 bunch
Garlic 1 head
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto 8 oz jar
Avocado 1 ripe
Mozzarella 8 oz bag, shredded
Instant Brown Rice 1 lb box
Black Beans 12 oz can
100% Whole-Wheat Fettuccine 16 oz box
10" 100% Whole-Wheat Tortillas 1 package

THE PANTRY LIST Buy these crucial building blocks every couple of months and you'll always have them on hand to construct meals around the clock.

Reduced-fat mayonnaise
Dijon mustard
Low-sodium soy sauce
Peanut butter
Extra-virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Parmesan cheese
Tabasco or other hot sauce



3/4 bunch asparagus (about 8 medium spears)
2 portobello mushroom caps, sliced 1/4" thick
1 medium onion, cut in 1/4"-thick rings
1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 rotisserie chicken breast or leg

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Remove the woody ends of the asparagus by gently bending each stalk until it breaks -- it'll naturally snap off at the right spot. In a baking dish, toss the vegetables with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables have developed a light brown crust. Serve half the vegetables with the chicken and a simple mixed-greens salad tossed with olive oil and vinegar. Reserve the other half of the vegetables for other meals this week.

430 calories, 36 grams (g) protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 25 g fat (7 g saturated), 5 g fiber

The next day's lunch


1 c chopped rotisserie chicken (left over from Sunday's dinner)
3 bell peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 whole-wheat tortilla
2 Tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
1 small handful mixed greens
1 c leftover asparagus, mushrooms, and onions

To chop the chicken, remove the skin and use a fork to pull the meat from the bones. Then place the meat on your cutting board and cut it into bite-size pieces -- it should yield about 3 cups' worth. Use 1 cup for the wrap and save the other 2 cups for later in the week. Chop the peppers into 1/2" pieces. They should yield about 4 cups; use 1/2 cup today and save the rest in a plastic bag for dinner.

Mix the garlic, mayonnaise, and vinegar together to make the aioli. Brush the tortilla with the aioli, then put the cheese down the middle, followed by the greens, chicken, and vegetables. To make a tight wrap, fold the bottom of the tortilla up first, then roll it from the side.

400 calories, 43 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 5 g fiber



1/4 c instant brown rice (measured dry)
1/2 can black beans, drained and heated
1/2 Tbsp canola or other cooking oil
1 medium onion, sliced
Bell peppers, chopped into 1/2" pieces (left over from Sunday's lunch)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 oz shrimp, defrosted
Cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, or Tabasco to taste
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
1 whole-wheat tortilla, warmed

Cook the brown rice according to the directions on the box, then add the black beans. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or wok over high heat. Add the onion slices, the bell- pepper pieces saved from lunch, and the chopped garlic, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the vegetables begin to brown. Mix in the shrimp and spices, and cook for another 3 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and firm. Serve half of the shrimp fajita mix with a small scoop of the rice and beans, the avocado slices, and the warm tortilla.

Reserve the rest of the rice and beans in a microwavable bowl or plastic container along with the leftover fajita mix, and use it for tomorrow's lunch.

602 calories, 42 g protein, 71 g carbohydrates, 22.5 g fat (3 g saturated), 15 g fiber

The next day's lunch


Leftover rice, beans, and fajita mix (from Monday's dinner)
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
Salsa (optional)

Heat the leftovers in a plastic container or a microwavable bowl for 60 seconds. Top with the avocado and salsa to taste, if desired.

650 calories, 37 g protein, 85 g carbohydrates, 20 g fat (3 g saturated), 16 g fiber



6 oz 100% whole-wheat fettuccine
1 c chopped rotisserie chicken (left over from Sunday's dinner)
1 c roasted vegetables (left over from Sunday's dinner)
1 1/2 Tbsp sun-dried-tomato pesto
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese

Cook the fettuccine in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente, about 10 minutes. Toss half the pasta with some canola oil and reserve in a container for Thursday's lunch. Combine the chicken, vegetables, and sun-dried-tomato pesto with the remaining pasta. Season with salt and pepper. Grate some Parmesan and sprinkle on top. Serve with 1 cup of mixed greens, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

490 calories, 46 g protein, 34 g carbohydrates, 20 g fat (5 g saturated), 6 g fiber

The next day's lunch


1 Tbsp sun-dried-tomato pesto
1 whole-wheat tortilla
1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c chopped rotisserie chicken (left over from Sunday)
1 c roasted vegetables (left over from Sunday)

Spread the pesto on the tortilla. Top with the cheese, chicken, and vegetables, and microwave open-faced for 1 minute, or until the cheese has fully melted. Fold over and slice into quarters. If you have time, try cooking it over low heat in a skillet or sauté pan for a crispier result.

440 calories, 38 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat (8 g saturated), 4 g fiber



1/2 c instant brown rice (measured dry)
1 tsp canola or other cooking oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 c mixed chopped peppers (left over from Monday night)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 c chopped raw asparagus
8 oz shrimp, defrosted
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Hot sauce to taste (We like Sriracha.)
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the brown rice according to the package directions. Add the oil to a large sauté pan or wok and place over high heat. When the oil is smoking, add the onions, peppers, garlic, and asparagus, then stir-fry for 5 minutes, until the vegetables have browned slightly. Stir in the shrimp, soy sauce, and hot sauce and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and serve half of it over the brown rice, reserving the remaining stir-fry for lunch tomorrow.

592 calories, 36 g protein, 88 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat (2 g saturated), 9 g fiber

The next day's lunch


1 c shrimp stir-fry (left over from Wednesday's dinner)
3 oz cooked whole-wheat fettuccine (left over from Tuesday's dinner)
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp water
Splash of vinegar or orange juice
1/4 tsp black pepper
Hot sauce to taste
1 Tbsp chopped peanuts (optional)

Toss the shrimp stir-fry with the leftover pasta. In a separate bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar or OJ, and pepper. Add the peanut-butter mixture and hot sauce to the stir-fry and pasta, and mix thoroughly. Top with peanuts, if desired. Eat cold or at room temperature.

530 calories, 43 g protein, 63 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat (2 g saturated), 7 g fiber



1 pork tenderloin, about 3/4 pound (herb or lemon-garlic marinated, if available; check the meat section of your grocery store)
1 medium onion, quartered
1 1/2 c mixed chopped peppers (from Monday's lunch)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450˚F. In a baking dish, toss together the pork, onion, peppers, garlic, oil, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the tenderloin (to an internal temperature of 150˚F, if using a thermometer). Enjoy half the pork and vegetables tonight, and save the rest -- storing both together in a sealed container -- for lunch tomorrow. (If you want a bigger, meal, prepare 1/4 cup of instant brown rice, measured dry. It'll add 170 calories, 4 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, and 2 g fiber to the nutrition information below.)

350 calories, 37 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 2 g fiber

The next day's lunch


1/2 Tbsp sun-dried-tomato pesto
1/2 Tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 whole-wheat tortilla
2 Tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
Vegetables and pork tenderloin, thinly sliced (from Thursday's dinner)

Combine the pesto and mayonnaise, mixing them together in a small bowl, and spread over the tortilla. Layer the cheese, pork slices, and leftover vegetables on top, and wrap it up.

480 calories, 48 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat (5 g saturated), 3 g fiber

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

happy 567

it's 05/06/07 (in order of magnitude.) happy june 5, 2007!

too bad i didnt write this post at 02:03:04 AM.

san diego, etc

what's with this weather, it's gray and blah here. especially in the morning. may gray brings june bloom, i guess, maybe a few days late. but seriously it's 75 and partly sunny in boston, humidity 68. here it's 60 and cloudy, and humidity 80. it's like the reverse.

but still, i looked on the NODC Coastal Water Temperature Guide and Scripps Pier is 64 degrees. that's water temperature that'll get you sweating in a wet suit. i'd been freezing my balls going surfing when it was 61 (i did it like once at 58 and OMFG) so now it looks like it's time to hit the beach again. but i would like some sun, one day.

of course, it looks blah at scripps right now.

so here are some things i've decided i have to do before leaving san diego.

1) get scuba certified
2) take the coaster down from encinitas to downtown. apparently it's scenic.
3) go to seaworld and the zoo again. use up my year pass.
4) visit coronado again.
5) go to mexico (past tj)
6) go wine tasting in temecula

Monday, June 4, 2007

post tournament ritual

10 signs you just came back from a big tournament.

1. you eat a carnitas quesadilla from caliente for lunch
2. you buy a bag of trader joe's mandarin orange chicken
3. on tuesday night, you get drunk off of red wine while playing oblivion
4. you realize that a turkey, lettuce, tomato and pickle sandwich on wheat doesn't taste as good as it did the week before. neither does a fruit smoothie.
5. you walk with a limp
6. you can estimate your weight to within 1 lb before stepping on a scale
7. you don't wear a warmup and underarmor at practice
8. your goal for practice is to work on the 540

ok make that top 8 signs. nathan and alicia, please feel free to comment and add your own signs.

and even as the rest of us return to normal lives after the last qualifier, there are several people who are training in korea. it's like in dragon ball z. the small fry are doing their thing on earth, while goku and gohan and the really big dawgs are off in some strange planet, getting way, way better than we could hope to be.