Saturday, December 26, 2009

nostalgia for christmas past

at home we don't do very much for christmas. these days it's all been even less ceremonial. i at least remember as a child that christmas was a big day. the whole holiday season felt like a definite period. now, it's just another few days between going back to work.

the period of christmas and new years were much more enjoyable when i was a child. unlike people who complain of the holiday season being too in your face now, for me i see too little of it. we don't have tv, we don't go out shopping for presents, and i feel like i've barely heard a christmas jingle. sure, i hear jingle bell rock and it still annoys the hell out of me. but it's different. when i was a kid and i first heard jingle bell rock, it became ingrained in my memories as part of growing up and experiencing christmas. much like the following bits of nostalgia, that i have no way to experience anymore except through excerpts of youtube.

a charlie brown christmas.

how the grinch stole christmas

a christmas story

i remember watching this in the middle of the night before christmas while old tnt or usa commercials played in between. or while my mom was cooking a decidedly chinese christmas dinner and my dog athena was sitting there eyeing the scraps. or the next morning when i'd be playing with my new crossfire system or new ninja turtles! (surprisingly that's the only gift i really remember receiving.)

while we're at it, here's an old favorite of the eighties.

incidentally, reading rainbow only stopped having new episodes in 2009.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

construction work before christmas

i leave for NC tomorrow (wednesday, dec 23) and before i even pack i've made some last minute construction work. but overall it's been slow progress. i don't really have more than an hour each day at home, and that's usually spent cooking and being lazy. so finally i stripped the wall down to the studs.

they're thick old studs - covered in nails. and i had some trouble with the top and bottom where they extend above the ceiling and below the floorboard. there's still a baseboard that's nailed to every stud and is below the hardwood flooring.

right in the middle of the wall there's a set of daisychained electrical outlets. it's a mess to deal with, because the wiring is old and the outlets are just hanging out in the middle of the studs.

yesterday i went to home depot and got a bunch of supplies like an extension cord and a work lamp, and a multimeter, so i could switch off the power to the upstairs (which also switches off power to half the kitchen and the living room) and finally remove the outlet. after some nervousness and basically prayers in case i get zapped and explode, i finally get the outlets off and cap them, so now they're no longer in the middle of the wall. the live wire is actually quite pretty, with my new green ladder in the background.

jordan came by and looked at the studs, and they seemed to bear a little bit of load (hopefully not a lot of it) so we decided to brace the ceiling before cutting off the rest of the studs, and eventually building a frame into the center of the room. that's as far as i got, and hopefully the house doesn't fall down on me while i'm gone for break.

when i get home, there'll be more construction work, in my dad's attic. it's fun, but i hope i can eventually actually finish a project.

Monday, December 14, 2009


I've started to renovate my house. and by renovate i mean tear it down haphazardly and hope that drywall, spackle and paint will be enough to overcome any blunders. Hey, it sounds just like college! I've also set up some music and beer right next to the rooms i'm working on. soon when the paint fumes hit, it'll be so reminiscent of phi sig i'm going to cry.

anyway here are some photos from last week's work. i've since torn down more of the wall but got stuck.

View from the "Office" with panels and drywall on this side completely removed.

The first view of the "Small Bedroom" through the Office.

Studs and Jordan's ladder. It's a sweet ladder.

A view from the Small Bedroom. There is a panel that is stuck behind some window trimming that will have to come down.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

memorable quotes

nathan: they may be bigger, stronger, faster than you, but you can always fight harder than them.

rdc: you may be standing on the shoulder of giants, but you have pretty damn broad shoulders yourself.

iliya: (my last tournament) is like when you're on a vacation, and it's the last sunset of the last evening, and you look at it and remember.

dan: clinch like you're driving a bus. just drive the bus.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

happiness in a sandwich

today i am happy because my lunch is so delicious.

i have my usual sandwich: bread, meat, tomatoes, lettuce. but yesterday i went and got a change up of ingredients. I have a loaf of arnold double fiber whole wheat bread instead of the shaw's wheat bread. i figured that spending $1 more isn't that bad anyways...and most of my bread ends up being thrown out anyways so if i get a more expensive one i might take care of it more. then i got sara lee roast beef lunch meat. i've had enough of the haymarket turkey ham, and the typical packaged deli meat is so bland. then i realized that with roast beef i'd like to top it with a bit of dietz and watson horsedish spread instead of mayo and mustard. it's like both in one nice squeeze bottle, and it adds a tang to the roast beef.

nom nom nom.

and i also bought avocados. one of them was ripe enough that the top popped off, and left a little hole from which to suck the avocado pulp from. it was like drinking an avocado smoothie, directly from the source.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

honda's one wheel cycle

omg this is so cool

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


i've decided to start simplifying things, starting with cooking. i feel like our modern world involves so many conveniences that you stop understanding what doing something yourself is actually like. in other words, there are too many layers between the user and the data. i'd like to get down and process data with my own hands, not with someone else's api.

first to start off, cooking rice. when i first cooked risotto and realized that it's just a certain rice cooked to become mushy, my life was changed. and since moving to rene's house and not having a rice cooker (neither a microwavable or electric one) i wanted to cook rice one day. and i just did it in a pot. ~ 2 cups rice, water over the top, bring to a boil and let simmer until rice is edible. that, kids, is what cooking rice involves. we can easily forget the act of cooking when we start worrying about the whole deal with pressing the button that pops up when the rice is cooked and keeps it warm, adding a specific ratio of water to rice, etc.

recently, i've started making yogurt. there was always something foreign about making yogurt. milk should stay in the fridge - how can you willingly leave milk out, then eat the thickened stuff that forms hours later? but forget about all those yogurt brands in the stores. light yogurt, fruit on the bottom, organic, lactose intolerant, unsweeted. make your own from milk. boil milk, and when it cools a bit, add a spoonful or two of plain yogurt. leave it wrapped up in an old coat overnight. the next morning, you have yogurt. and you know exactly what went into it, and what will eventually go into it (honey, granola, fruit.)

and finally, i write this article as i make a pot of coffee in my 10 cup coffee maker. i make a cup each time, and the pot sputters and steams and eventually i get a small cup of brown liquid as if magic. you put the water into some reservoir in the back of the machine and it magically flows through a pile of coffee held in place by a filter. well after spain, i started to enjoy a smaller frothy espresso, and when i went to the store to look at espresso makers, their simplicity made the whole process of coffee drinking more appealing. there's water that turns into steam. it rises through the coffee and goes into the pot. only one layer simpler than a coffee machine, but you have direct control of the path of the water and the coffee, and somehow it just feels better.

next up, hand grinding whole coffee beans after i roast them on a bonfire made from wood cut from my own saplings.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

fall colors

the leaves are starting to turn and i've taken some photos of the fall's colors. first, here's bella by the window!

a shot of boston from the same building:

and we went apple picking today! here are some of the pics, from my mit gallery:

(rene did this one)

Friday, October 9, 2009

musical friday

looks like today is a day to post musical clips.

the accordion is now awesome in my mind. lederhosen, i am still conflicted about.

tchaikovsky would be proud. apparently this was originally written for the glass armonica, and that's not just the aussie pronounciation of harmonica.

ok ok here's something not musical. i still want one.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

team toulouse, team boston

alicia found a video of phillipe's school doing a professional demo.

and here is a video of MIT doing a demo in 2006. the video editing makes it more awesome!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

food wanderlust

i made two resolutions in spain. the first is to try to say hi to people as i pass them, or as i meet them. this is something that is done so rarely in boston, as people tend to look downwards or avert their eyes as they pass you. in the navarra gym, as i was changing into my dobok, someone came in and said to me "hola!" and i mumbled hola and averted my eyes. then another came in, probably two complete strangers, said "buenos dias" and shook hands. then they shook hands with me and i felt like an american idiot. since then i've admired the friendliness of the europeans i met, and can only try to bring some of that warmth back from pamplona.

the second resolution is to enjoy my food more. in spain we took two hour meal breaks. this was often because of slow service and the three course meals, but it did help to relax and allow everyone to mingle for awhile. and when there's nothing else pressing that needs to be done (like a pset, project, work, etc.) it's good to just sit back and enjoy the weather and food between sessions of satisfying physical exertion. so despite not having three course meals here, i want to still be able to enjoy my food. and at carlucci, brusela, and the hotel dining, the menu was always a surprise. what are meat icicles? (a stuffed pasta) and ice cram? what about snuff to the oven? though the portions weren't tiny, they were also sufficiently foreign and small to prevent me from eating the way i eat chinese buffet - fast, large amounts, low exploration.

these things made me realize that to me, food on a trip is all that matters. sure, the photography is fun, the people are great, and accomplishing the actual purpose of the trip is important, but my lasting impression of any place i've been to will always be the food. and now i've decided that maybe in life, it's important to live where you want to eat. i have a huge craving for the breakfast sausage and the jamon on the salads we've eaten, and somehow i just dont think buying it at whole foods here will feel the same.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

the gift of language

gabriel (from the french team) apparently is a freelance translator. he's lived in japan, the UK, france, australia, and probably mongolia. we all thought it was really cool. then i realized how awesome knowing more than two languages is. tonight at dinner at carlucci's, we sat around in a circle that consisted of two danes, three french, and two americans. between all of us we spoke danish, chinese, laotian, french and english, and once in a while spoke phrases of spanish to the waiters. and though sometimes there were people who didn't quite understand what the current topic of conversation was, most of the time we'd be talking and laughing about random shit (because I had some wine and brought up very random shit) while alicia translated to the french and i translated her french into english for the danes. it was like the tower of babel, except instead of trying to reach for the sky we had sat down to dinner and accepted our differences in language, and instead explored it. at one time alexandra was writing phrases in danish on a napkin and teaching it to us line by line. we all tried to say the hard vowels with our tongues sticking out and it must have looked pretty ridiculous. but we all stared at the napkin with open eyes completely entranced in trying to pronounce every syllable. europe is pretty amazing. being in a mix of completely different cultures yet the same culture is an awesome time. benjamin (the 16 year old danish competitor) would say, "that's gangsta."

pamplona open photo album

Some initial pictures from the seminar, tournament day, and the fort walk afterwards, through my pamplona picasa album. I will be posting most of my pictures on the facebook group as well.

finished competition

we finished the pamplona open today with pretty good results. the men's masters triple placed 2nd (out of 2), the women's senior triple placed 2nd (out of 4), sarah won 3rd place in senior 2, garth won 4th in masters 2, sparky made top 8 in women's senior 1, and i made top 8 (7th place) in men's senior 1. alicia and i placed 12 out of 15 in pairs.

phillipe coached us in pairs and he is a big goofball. there will be plenty of pictures to prove it. him and kytu are two clowns when they are together. the us men are also a bunch of children as well. somehow it felt like this tournament was pretty low stress (relatively, and not including the moment when you are about to be called on deck) and high laughter count.

we made friends with the french and danish teams pretty well. mostly because they were closer in age to our senior 1 people. and speaking in french has become a bit easier although i still listen better, and talk pretty crappy.

it feels like boston's really far away. i read some of the emails and it's like the concerns of another lifetime. but i look forward to returning and i feel like i want to bring alot of what i've learned back home.

pictures to be posted, i promise. we have to rush to the same crappy restaurant to eat the same crappy lunch, so alicia and i are probably going to skip out. i'm going to order chinese from "gran imperio" and see how their sesame chicken is.

Friday, October 2, 2009

pamplona training day 2

i had nightmares all night. i imagined playing basketball at the old YMCA with a bunch of different people in my life. and it's a recurring dream where i'm pretty good at it, the rest of the people suck but arent really playing, and i have to dribble around not 5 defenders but maybe a crowd of 30 that are just standing around on the court. i woke up at 6:55 am and couldn't go back to sleep. in my dream, i had flown back to the US to play basketball, then returned on a 4 am flight to pamplona.

today's training seminar started off with poomse right away. (i'm glad we never had to do any drills like 200 sidekicks.) and we mixed up partners all over the place. at one point i went with a guy named jesus, who has the most intense eyes and looks like he's glaring all the time. he and his pairs partner critiqued my sipjin. they only spoke spanish and french, so we communicated with my awesome french which i used with series of grunts and japanese "so desu ka?" phrases. but it was very helpful because i realized i could communicate with people from spain, if i absolutely had to.

i don't know why we didn't video tape all of kytu's training. but i took video later.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

poomse seminar day 1

we worked from 10 am to 1 pm, took a 2.5 hour lunch break typical of the spanish lifestyle, restarted from 3:30 to 7:30. it was a full spanish workday. the countries that were at the seminar were finland, denmark, navarro (spain), USA, france, and portugal. we all introduced ourselves to each other and no one could pronounce each other's names or even say nice to meet you.

we did some cool drills, including warmups that help with poomse stances and poomse motions. there was also a good mix of young (16-18 yrs old) and old (>50), who were still limber and ridiculous.

in the afternoon, as the sun took on a orange low and lit up the walls which were red with yellow curtains, master ketoo dang looked more and more like a buddhist monk philosopher master teaching all of his disciples about life. at the end of the day, my knees hurt and my head was giddy but i was full of new poomse knowledge. and now for the second 3 course meal of the day...this time i'll have some wine with it.

dawn in spain

we woke up to the sound of roosters crowing in the morning. outside the sun was not yet up and the dim sky was lit with streetlamps up to the point where the town ended and the farm began. the farmers were probably already up and working, and we would be leaving for the taekwondo training soon. i am going to go downstairs to a holiday inn express breakfast. pictures to be posted.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

adina designs

my jewelry product photography has been posted by the seller, adina designs. i'm not advertising for him or anything. i am using his page to advertise for my photography =)

Adina designs, photography by Bobby Ren

today i finished the rest of the pieces for this set. i used the new 100W daylight bulbs in the two can lights, and it works really well. this is my awesome ghetto setup: 2 lights, 1 plastic bin light tent, one tall tripod, nikon d90 dslr with an 18-105 zoom lens. i shot the pictures at f11 with 1/13 second exposure, with a white balance set for daylight/sunlight.

moonlit photography gig

last night i did a photography gig for mark and his girlfriend. he threw her a surprise birthday party on his awesome north end apartment roofdeck. i got some spectacular shots not because of any skill of mine but because the setting was so great. here is mark surprising his girlfriend.

i met a lot of cool people and we had drinks and a lot of food. i guess i'm not one to be a pure photographer - i partook in the celebrations as well and i think it made the whole experience better.

the night sky was really pretty and i got a bunch of cool silhouette shots. well, it was just that i couldnt really get good photos so i told people i was taking silhouette shots. at one point, someone brought out a "wine bong" and i was like this is a strange mix of college and grown up drinking parties. yes, even i had some.

there was one point as well when they took photos of the mothers and daughters - the two girls who were best friends and their moms took a picture together. only today did it occur to me that in a different setting, "mother-daughter shot!" would have meant something completely different.

it was a cool night. i hope i get invited to more party photography gigs.