Archive for the ‘Music’ category

Nightmare before Christmas (on December 15th)

October 27th, 2011

Naively, I thought that after I finished applying early to a certain East Coast academic institution, the rest of my senior year would be a thrilling downhill ride that I would breathtakingly enjoy every scenic moment of. Well, breathtaking, yes, but not quite scenic, and definitely not enjoyable.

First of all, yes, I do need to also apply to a certain West Coast academic institution that I fell in love with this summer. I’m evidently quite tired of college apps, so I’ll put that off at least for a week or two. I still have competitions — Intel STS is going to be fun, especially — and I plan to put a lot of time into studying physics and seriously aiming for IPhO ’12 as US Team. Also, yes, I plan to miraculously jump from AIME to Red MOSP (pronounced “mop”), and that is going to take some serious mathematical work. Studying for competitions is actually quite fun (especially in comparison with college essays). Math competitions have been a frustrating area for me since freshman year, but that’s why I want to put in a final spurt. Unfortunately USAMTS conflicted with my early app this year, so I’m not participating and aiming for a gold (after all these consecutive years of silver and coming so close to gold… sigh). But yes, nationally speaking, I am quite dumb at math.

For the near future I guess I’ll review the Lagrangian and attempt to teach it to physics team — the Lagrangian is fun and I expect it to be fun to teach. Oh, but I guess not all of them know calculus.

My overbooking is especially apparent looking at my calendar (which I’d love to post a screenshot of, but no), it’s almost like one of those strange works of modern art that go in every direction with all these abstract arrangements of color and shape. Well, I appreciate my calendar, and I’ve become a bit better at following it (just a bit). I’ve gotten into the habit of entering my sleep times in there too. Later on in senior year I’ll have fun reminiscing on how little I slept.

Just to put it out there, yes, I am writing this blog post in lieu of working on my Chaucer essay. Also, I love my APENG teacher. I’d like the class if it wasn’t first period, but hopefully caffeine supplements will be able to remedy that.

My seat partner in English, Kenny, has been very good to me (despite my frequent sick leave — bad immune system, it’s true). In the last few days we’ve been discussing Asian music, and I’ve found I really don’t know much about Asian music, even J-Pop. It’s because I’m too contrarian, of course, but I definitely felt I needed to get out there and explore mainstream J-Pop and Mandarin music. I’m Chinese, after all.

I haven’t been following anime at all during the month of my college application internment. Coincidentally, Fall 2011 has many series that I thought I would be very eager to see, but now that I have had time available to watch anime, I find that I’ve only been keeping up with the series I’ve been watching previously (Beelzebub, Fairy Tail pretty much). Looking back at Shana, I don’t really want to watch Shana III (and that movie has been sitting on my hard disk somewhere, too). Mirai Nikki is great (beyond great, loved every page of the manga) but I feel absolutely no compulsion to watch it. In fact, I feel no compulsion to watch any new series, and I only forced myself to watch Fate/zero because… well, it’s Fate/zero and by all accounts THE anime of the season. Oh, it was epic all right, but I don’t feel eager to watch the next episode. For some reason, I don’t feel eager to watch anime. I guess it’s what a month without anime does to you.

So yes, I’ve only watched one episode of one series of Fall ’11 strangely, considering how many non-dumb stories this season has. By request, I’ll check out Guilty Crown soon.

Not watching anime has definitely freed up a lot of time, but somehow I still feel much busier. Most of the work is AP Mandarin, which I think I somehow still have an A- in despite my utter failure in every realm. I think I’m really learning a lot in this class, though, and I hope I can read 95% of a newspaper by the time I get out of high school. Still, I don’t feel AP Mandarin is really worth the effort, and I’m afraid college adcoms will frown on me for being Chinese and “taking the easy route” by taking Chinese in school. In this regard, I truly should have gone for French or Spanish (both languages I am very interested in anyways). Japanese would also be easy and fun.

I’ve picked up trying to read Japanese light novels again. After giving up reading untranslated manga. It’s just too difficult trying to look up words you don’t know. In light novels on the computer, all I need is a mouse-over or middle-click, and my definition is right there (courtesy of Yomichan or Rikaichan or any other member of this inordinate family of tools with -chan inexplicably tacked on). One more click, and a flash card of the word is added to my flashcard deck on my computer (I worshipped Anki).

Speaking of which, I haven’t had a chance to add AP Mandarin words to my Anki deck that I haven’t reviewed in half a year. Anki was even convenient for learning physics — it was quite useful memorizing facts and formulae for my physics competitions back in the day. I have a server set up to host the LaTeX notation rasterized into PNG files, and I can review my flashcards from anywhere on the globe with a web browser, or the awesome Anki Android app on my phone. So yes, I am plugging Anki for all your memorization needs. I have a cool Needs Statements flashcard deck with Precalc/Calc A and Calculus BC versions, if anyone wants. With really cool LaTeXed math notation, and word-for-word from the Needs Statement sheets. Ahhh, calculus feels so nostalgic. I also have my Mandarin 4 deck, but they changed the textbooks after my year.

With all this language-learning, physics, math, college applications, research, and much miscellaneous matter, I haven’t had a time to code, work on projects, and fix up my Linux servers. I need to put Altair to good use as my backup mail server. This summer I put lighttpd on Altair (Reverie has Apache2), and — by god — the performance is astounding! I have a fully-functional web server on maybe 30MB of RAM with Debian 6. I put nginx for Windows on Mizu (pretty much just used to host my flashcard media), and it’s been a snap to use as well. Apache is definitely going out of business. Well, I guess it’s open source, so that’s technically not possible.

Yes, I did set up FCGI on Apache (and suexec since I plan on doing shared hosting). Messing with Apache is not fun. PHP loads a lot slower than mod_php, but I can squeeze a lot more httpd processes out of my precious RAM. I wish people wouldn’t spam, so I wouldn’t have to run spamd. It eats like >70MB whether there is mail or not. It’s been great at blocking spam though, and I have it configured to automatically delete mail with a spam score over 15. It pained me incredibly, but recently I added the Spamcop and XBL blacklists to my Postfix configuration. I don’t like blacklists, but the spam volume annoys me. I purposely held off on the PBL list, because I am in support of people running private mail servers on their home ISP networks. I remember when I was running my copy of hmailserver on my Windows box through a crappy AT&T (those are synonyms, I checked the thesaurus) DSL line. Haha, good times. Fellow computer enthusiasts for the win!

My east coast college’s interview is coming up as well. I’ve been increasingly noticing the unpleasant, slightly nasal quality of my voice. Besides generally improving my speaking skills, I really need to train myself to not make that noise. From what I’ve read online, the key to getting rid of the nasal quality is to act like you’re about to yawn when you talk. The reason for the nasally noise is because the soft palate is not completely blocking the path to the nose, so some the sound from your vocal cords also passes into and reverberates through the nasal cavity. And when you yawn (and you can feel it yourself), your soft palate completely closes the passage to the nose so this problem is solved. I know close to nothing about anatomy, but this makes a lot of sense to me. Unfortunately, making sense does not make it any easier to put this into practice…

I’m thinking of getting this book or this from Amazon. The reviews are very laudatory, of course. Speech tutors/therapists must be expensive.

Rather than doing nothing but waiting for the nightmarish announcement coming on December 15th (and groundlessly hoping/praying for a fat envelope), I’m up to my nose.

I’ve spent too long ranting. Time to get back to work on that essay.

Edit: Amusingly, this blog post is longer than my essay.

Song of the Nightingale

June 25th, 2011

People often ask me if I’m a gamer upon seeing the workstation setup in my room. I’m not.

Admittingly, a third monitor doesn’t contribute a whole lot to productivity. I mostly use my third monitor for post-its and Skype or iTunes while I work on my first and second monitors.

College apps are hard for me — I’m a very unfocused writer. I go off on tangents, branching off into completely unrelated realms. Additionally, I don’t write towards a purpose or goal, I write for fun, because I like to write.

Now although this is supposedly encouraged by society (as are many other things), one really needs to be able to write in order to accomplish something. Liking writing really does you no good.

My HP laptop’s Windows Experience Index is actually higher than my PC. I was so proud of my PC before — an Intel i7, four cores, eight threads with HyperThreading (rather gimmicky but well), with 6GB of DDR3 RAM and all that good stuff. (Again, I’m not a gamer so the graphics card in my PC is some generic low-end hardware.) This laptop (I’m typing on it as I speak– er, type…) is an entertainment/gaming laptop; it’s got high-end speakers, a huge display, DVD+RW drive, multiple audio/video outputs, and a good graphics card.

It kept crashing, bluescreening, and just generally not working, even after multiple installs of the stock OS. I installed vanilla Microsoft Windows 7, and somehow that fixed everything. The software cooks at HP need sharpening.

The hardware is quite badass. A fingerprint sensor would be nice, I guess, but again those are gimmicky. So many things are gimmicky these days. Like “4G”. Or 3D TVs and phones and consoles. Or colleges.

I’ll leave that out to over/under-interpretationists to meticulously granulate.

The title: according to Wikipedia (accuracy 200% guaranteed), “Poets chose the nightingale as a symbol because of its creative and seemingly spontaneous song.”

Quite true. This post is as spontaneous as they come.

But, “seemingly”. Aha. Interpret THAT. Was that what I was really intending? Or am I hiding something between the lines?

Oh, how about this?

Homer evokes the Nightingale in the Odyssey, suggesting the myth of Philomela and Procne (one of whom, depending on the myth’s version, is turned into a nightingale). This myth is the focus of Sophocles’ tragedy, Tereus, of which only fragments remain. Ovid, too, in his Metamorphoses, includes the most popular version of this myth, imitated and altered by later poets, including Chrétien de Troyes, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, and George Gascoigne. T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” also evokes the Nightingale’s song (and the myth of Philomela and Procne). Because of the violence associated with the myth, the nightingale’s song was long interpreted as a lament.

Wow, I never knew it but it seems there’s a hidden meaning in this post. I totally subconsciously intended this post to do that.

These days, you can get anything to symbolize anything.

Seriously, I chose the title randomly and then Googled it. Turns out it’s also the name of an orchestral piece by Stravinsky. Cool.

Protected: Our Next Song

May 18th, 2011

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still trying to hold on

May 15th, 2011

Here’s to my well-intentioned resolution to post every day. May it rest in peace.

I thought I should at least keep to posting once per week. So here’s my post for the week. I’m really looking forward to writing this post. It was an eventful week, full of delicious food, tender pride, sore elbows, childlike excitement, and broken gestures.

Thing about Jenglish… I have a really mixed opinion of it. She gives us more work than Villalobos did for Honors English last year. She’s very anal about my doing physics or other homework in her class, something I am very annoyed at her for. Her class activity on Friday was brilliant, however. We made Mother’s Day cards! She bought dozens of reams of pretty, flowery, expensive, professional design paper in all sorts of colors and variations, and a vast supply of scrapbooking supplies. We made beautiful cards. I made 3, one for me, and two for each of my siblings, to give to my mom. When I told Ms. Jeng about my 3 cards, she thought it was so kind of me that I almost felt like she was going to hug me.

One thing I have come to feel about Ms. Jeng — her goal in life seems to be “to bring happiness to as many people as she can.” She brings us food, candy, treats out of her own pocket money; makes us write down something that happened each day that has made us thankful. This Mother’s Day activity illustrated it best — Jeng wanted to bring happiness to hundreds of mothers that day. I’m sure she succeeded. My mom was very happy to recieve the 3 cards, although she figured out that I had made all 3 myself, in English class (Ms. Jeng had instructed us to tell our moms that we had made the card of our own intiative and not because she told us to).

My typical weekend goes through like this. The night before, I set my alarm for some outrageously early morning ear torture. The morning of, I sleep through all the alarms. Or, I get up, defuse the infringing eardrum explosive, and lie back down dreamily.

At sometime after noon, I sit up in my bed with a start. Oh no! Half of my precious day has drifted off into the silence! “What to do?” I think to myself, as I hastily brush my teeth and organize my thoughts. “So much stuff to do today!”

I sit down at my computer and turn on my 3 monitors. Oh yeah, I should check today’s anime. While I do that, I’ll flip through my email. OH, this week’s episode of THAT anime is out! Gotta download asap. Wonder what’s up on xda. Look, my ROM has been updated. I plug in my phone and prepare to load a new ROM, backing up my apps. Cool, my anime download finished. Wonder if there are any cool blog posts on Google Reader. Hey, there are five new chapters of manga! Google has a cool new product — I gotta check it out. Wow, that anime ep was epic. I wonder if there are any related anime. Gonna do a search on MAL. Oh wow, this anime was made by the same studio that did this other anime! And I’ve been wanting to watch that other anime since forever! I’ll download it immediately. While the torrent is running, why don’t I check up on Mabi?

Repeat for nine hours, with intermittent breaks for food and such.

By 9 or 10pm, I’m desperately trying to resuscitate the day’s productivity. This is sounding awfully like today. Huh.

I had a nice Mother’s Day. We went out to lunch at Zen Buffet — they were having a Mother’s Day special event. The venue was packed; if my mom hadn’t gotten a seat early we would have waited outside for hours. I haven’t had a buffet in months — long months filled with the void of non-buffet food. I’ve been dreaming about the food I had on Sunday ever since.

Breaded cheesesticks. They have pervaded my dreams for a week. I spent my early morning classes for the past week thinking about them. I’m not even sure what they’re called. Mozzarella sticks? Intensely craving them for days.

Monday was AP Physics C. I had a lot to say about my adventurous invasion of Alhambra High School, and I was completely planning on dedicating a post to their queer customs and savage rites. A paragraph will have to suffice for this topic.

Since over a month before the actual exam, I had been calling them every week to try and find out where, exactly, on campus the test was going to be held. I never found out before the actual day. Nobody knew (or cared enough to get out of their seats to find out for me). Finally, the receptionist just told me to give up on trying to find out, and just ask around on test day. Unsatisfied, but left without a choice, I agreed.

So I strolled into the gatekeeper’s lounge on Monday. When I say gatekeeper, I’m serious. The entire campus is completely fenced down. Nobody can escape. I felt like a visitor to a jail complex, almost, what with all the guards and patrolmen– “proctors.” Oh yeah, about the “proctors” — there was one proctor every 30 meters. It was during a class period that I came in (extra-early… at 9am or so), and I initially thought the proctors were… I don’t know, photographers documenting the school or something. There were so many! And they were everywhere! And they weren’t doing anything, because there weren’t any students outside anyways!

I’m sure if some student suddenly bolted out from their classroom door, thirty proctors would chase after him, tie him down and restrain him while others take down his prisoner student ID number to extend his sentence for another two years.

Luckily for me, all the proctors had a radio on them (like real prison guards! oh my god!), so they asked on the radio where my AP exam was, and I was directed to the library. Alright, cool. Let’s see. Three hours until the exam. Woo-hoo. I stare at the locked library door, where like two people are taking AP Biology.

I sat down next to a flower bed. Immediately, the nearest proctor aggroed me. He was a nice guy after finding out I was a visitor (not a prisoner student), and he helped me find a place to sit while waiting for my test. We went to the Career Center, and they gave me a nice table to sit at.

I did bring a backpack with some stuff. I wasn’t planning on studying for the AP Physics C exam though (psh, how hard can it be?) but I did print out a copy of the 2010 free-response questions. I took those out, and worked through the problems. The difficulty really surprised me, but I was able to figure out all of the questions. “Al-righty,” I thought to myself. I’m set.

Flash forward three hours. The library doors finally come unlocked to let us unsuspecting College Board victims in. I was surprised at their library. Shelves upon shelves of manga, comics, graphic novels. I would have loved it if our library had half of what they had. I’d go to the library every day. I’d never eat lunch anymore.

They made us rip the labels off of our water bottles. That was just… odd. They didn’t want us to cheat by writing formulas on our water bottle labels? Really…

We were sat down in a small corner of their fantastic library. Only about five people taking Mechanics, and that would dwindle to only about two other people taking E&M two hours later. It was the reference corner, and I was sitting next to some fifteen-volume World Cultures set that I’m sure nobody has ever touched since it was purchased by the school. All the manga in the library seemed well-used.

About the test… I found it difficult. On AP Chemistry, Comp Sci, and Calculus BC, I always had time (sometimes even more than a half hour) left after I finished questions. On all four sections of the AP Physics C exam, I was strapped for time. I found that odd, because I’m supposed to be like, the very best at this, or something. Oh, by the way, at this time I didn’t know that you only needed a 50% to get a 5. I’m still WTFing at that statistic. I mean, you’d actually have to TRY to not get a five if the curve was that low. But yeah, at the time I thought I had failed the test or something. I hate how the College Board made us pay twice for AP Physics C — it’s a shorter test, so come on!

I missed something rather important that was happening. As you might or might not know, my blog was hosted on my home PC (which is on 24/7 anyways). I had Apache, PHP, and MySQL running on it, along with an SSH server, hMailServer to serve SMTP and IMAP, and various other goodies. I’ve got lots of RAM, and not a lot of people visit my site, so it was fine, but I wanted a dedicated server in a real datacenter to play with and to put to use in my future endeavors.

I spent most of my Sunday researching virtual private server (VPS) services. Initially, I searched through big-name sites like HostGator, and the cheapest prices were $20 per month. I thought, “alright, my dad will be okay with that,” but of course, being me and suffering from chronic Refusal-to-spend-money-unnecessarily Syndrome, I furiously set out to find cheap VPS servers.

I was overjoyed when I found servers at $15, then $11, then– wow! six dollars! My amazement turned to awe when I discovered servers at $3 per month… $2.50… $2… $1.67! That’s twenty dollars per YEAR — as opposed to my original price of twenty dollars a month! God, sometimes my strange Syndrome does pay off as opposed to annoying people around me.

I made a brilliant Google Doc comparing the best VPS offers I could find. Here, I’ll even share it with my beloved readers. I decided that 128MB of RAM was too low for me. There was a really good offer for a server with brilliant specs, but only a 10M uplink. I thought to myself, even my home download speed is faster than 10M! So I decided on at least a 100M uplink (preferably gigabit). After sorting through more and more deals, I decided to go with my new friends at HostFolks. On Monday morning before I left for my AP exam, I sent them an email asking whether or not their RAM was dedicated (as some retailers oversold their RAM), and whether or not their servers had a gigabit uplink.

To my glad surprise, the man replied five minutes later! I was expecting him to reply in like, two days, one day at the best. But wow — what great service! Instant reply! The RAM was indeed dedicated, and the uplink was in fact gigabit! HostFolk’s deal was pretty perfect. I shot off another question that night, and again — near-instant reply. Late at night. What kind of customer service representative was awake at 1am in the morning? Outrageous.

I bought the VPS from them, and I spent my Tuesday and Wednesday setting it up. Took a break from school. School is tiring. Also, we wouldn’t be doing anything in most of my classes, especially on Wednesday when everybody would be gone for AP English. I actually kind of really regret not taking AP US History and AP English, even at some other school.

All the guides pointed to one thing — Apache sucks. It spawns fifty threads that take dozens of megabytes of precious RAM each. I was going to install lighttpd or nginx as my webserver, but my server had 512MB of RAM — plenty of RAM to waste. I still haven’t used up all 512MB of RAM yet, even with KDE running on top of vnc3server.

The thing that took me the most time to set up was email. By default, sendmail was installed. I installed exim4 and unsuccessfully attempted to set it up following some guide. Eventually I gave up and removed exim4, opting for a guide that was dedicated to my operating system (Debian 5 “Lenny”). I installed postfix, dovecot, various administration tools, following the guide. I ran into so many problems I won’t even document them.

I still need to lock down many parts of my system. Security is really a big thing these days, and it would piss me off if some lame script kiddie got into my hard-earned system with everything set up, and blew it up, and I had to start all over (and waste another week…).

On Thursday, Justin somehow convinced me to let him come over. Oh, it was also Ms. Jeng’s birthday. Hanchan had taken all of her leftover cake and cupcakes, interestingly, and brought them over to my house. No, I didn’t invite him. One thing I absolutely can’t resist speaking up about is how Hanning always sits on my bed (without asking) when he comes over. I sleep there. After showering every night. It’s clean. Your pants have been in six different chairs in six different classrooms throughout the day. They touch the pee-stained floor when you use the restroom at the high school. I wish you would refrain from rubbing them all over my blankets and my sheets. Also, please don’t put your socks on top of my pillow. My head goes there every night.

I’m really stuck on the topic of “friendship,” especially in the superficiality of society as it is, and even more especially in the superficiality of Arcadia High School. It’s troublesome. I think too much. Thinking is troublesome. Moving on, leaving this topic for another post on another day.

Yes, I am anal about cleanliness. Dust pisses me off. And there’s always so much of it in my room. I can never get rid of it all. I can remove every speck of it in my room, and tomorrow it’ll be just as dusty as it was before. I hate dust. It’s my mortal enemy.

I even bought a air purifier for my birthday present. Yes, instead of asking for a game or a car for my birthday, I asked for an air purifier. Really shows you how much I hate dust.

We watched Denpa Teki na Kanojo, and I’m worried that they didn’t enjoy my choice that much. I really should have shown them Bungaku Shoujo, since I still haven’t seen it yet, and it was sitting on my hard drive, but I stupidly didn’t think of it. I also seem to tend to get excited about anime and disrespectfully spoil things. I would imagine that most people enjoy anime more when watching with someone else, but for me it’s rather awkward, because I have to worry about whether or not the other watchers are enjoying the anime I chose or not, and whether or not that part was appropriate for them to see (Denpa Teki had some pretty adult parts).

Thursday was a tiring night. I conveniently had a history project due the very next day. When finally Hanchan and Justin left, and I was done with the other business I had that day, I sat down with Alfred and began working on the powerpoint. I showed Alfred our song (the version sung by me on both parts), and he approved. He found us videos, and wrote half of the powerpoint. He even wrote a rap, and printed out the lyrics as a review sheet. I loved the pun he made — the rap was a “wrap-up” to our presentation: a “RAP-UP”! Ahahaha~

I had written the song sproadically over the week before. Usually I procrastinate on things like these, but bashing Bush is fun, and I even chose writing the song over watching anime on several occasions. I was originally planning on finding a good MIDI file of the song (“A Whole New World” from Aladdin) and repeating the verses that needed repeating, and then rendering, but Sibelius refused to cooperate, so I ended up taking an instrumental backing recording and cutting it raw in Audacity. It turned out pretty horrible, but I guess that added to the hilarity of our presentation.

I found Alfred to be the perfect partner — we basically finished everything in one night besides the song and rap editing. Less than one night, really — we started at 8 or 9pm.

Friday was quite fun. Here’s period one. Originally I had planned on finishing my entire Game Project in one day (to demonstrate my brilliance as an act of defiance, or in an attempt to seek self-satisfaction), but I didn’t quite finish it on Thursday. I spent Comp Sci on Friday mostly preparing presentation stuff with Alfred, and not doing Comp Sci (not that anyone was doing Comp Sci, really).

Here’s period two. Alfred and I talked about stuff for maybe five minutes, I turned in my math team app, and I did the annoying Formal Logic homework. Period three was orchestra — Smooth sounded so good with full orchestra+percussion! Danzas Cubanas wasn’t bad either. And I had LesMis stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Ah, it’s moments like these when I love Orchestra.

In period four, I explained my leave of absence to Jeng. “Too cool for school, aren’cha?” I didn’t assume she would let me off on writing the narrative essay I heard about, and she didn’t, of course. I really wish my teachers would let me off on classwork and homework for these two weeks. I’m already stressed out enough. Well, teenagers aren’t supposed to expect adults to understand anything.

We also have a presentation in English next week. I really don’t see the point in wasting my time doing these things. This brings me to my convo with Andy last night, but I’ll get to that at the end of this huge post.

My dealings with Jeng took quite a while. I was originally planning on making an illegal trip to El Pollo Loco for some mmmmm– yummy cheese quesadillas. In fact, I had planned the trip a day before. I didn’t get to go, of course, and I ended up having a delicious chicken taco for $2. It was delicious. Seriously. Unexpected.

But of course, what I was really craving were mozzarella sticks. Ugh. Still dreaming about them every night.

In Period 5, I finished the lab I had started on Thursday with this bright man whose name I have yet to request. A lot of work in this class that usually gives no work. Why does it all have to be this week?

Finally, our presentation came to be on a clear Spring day in a classroom.

It was great.

Next up, I had an appointment with Mr. Zhang, my AP Physics B teacher last year. Sometimes I feel that he’s the person who understands me best in this world. If I were to make a list of the people who understand me the best, I would put these four people: my parents, K, and Mr. Zhang. In fact, K would be at the top of the list, actually. (It’s awkward reminding myself not to type K’s full name.)

He had invited me a few days before to do a new  “oscilloscope lab” and I, of course, accepted gladly. I didn’t expect him to also invite two sophomore girls as well, one of them Lucy Chen, who had scored only two points less than me on PhysicsBowl 2011. My impression of her was different from the actual her. I expected her to be similar to me, but she was in fact a talkative, cheerful kid. She completely reminded me of Rose, including her voice. I don’t think anything bad of her, it’s just that her personality didn’t match what I had imagined.

We were soldering circuits. The two girls worked on a frequency generator circuit, while I worked to repair a voltage regulator circuit. I like Mr. Zhang’s soldering gun. It heats up instantly, and its shape is so much more maneuverable than a conventional soldering iron. I failed to fix the circuit, and we tried many, many times to diagnose the problem, including replacing the voltage regulator chip twice, and replacing the resistor twice. Eventually we gave up on the circuit, and he brought out another one, which I was able to set up perfectly. I think there was either something wrong with the chip specifications, since it didn’t match the chip on the working circuit, or that the potentiometer’s range was too low. It was probably the latter — we measured currents of 2.0 A! That’s outrageously high current. It heated up the circuit so much I gave myself a pretty bad burn touching the voltage regulator chip.

We took Mr. Zhang out for dinner that night. Both girls had left, and I was having an extremely enjoyable conversation with him. We talked about biology, school, the future of the Physics Team, math, computers, his future plans, his tutoring program, setting up a website, and my experience with computers. We were interrupted by my mom, who dropped in because my phone was off. We decided to go out for dinner, and Mr. Zhang expressed his desire to eat at a buffet. Zen Buffet was packed to the max, for some reason, so we went to Hometown Buffet. The last time I had gone to Hometown was on Hanchan’s birthday. (I wonder if he dislikes me because of something his dad said that day. We talked a lot, and maybe he got the impression that his dad thought I was his perfect son. Maybe at home his dad gave him a painful lecture. Blah, now I’m overrationalizing.)

Naturally, the conversation drove towards college and my career. I hate talking about that. I hate it. I’m not even going to describe the conversation.

But the food. THE FOOD! I had been craving buffet ever since last Sunday on Mother’s Day. BUT NO! THEY HAD NO MOZZARELLA CHEESE STICKS! I will hate Hometown Buffet for all of eternity.

The other food was quite good, though. I liked the “dirty rice” — I’ve always liked variants of Spanish rice, and this rice was especially good. They also had some New Orleans something-or-other Chicken that was absolutely delicious. God, I want to eat buffet again tonight.

Saturday night was another stereotypical weekend. I didn’t attend ARML, and after much angst, decided to not travel to Las Vegas for the competition. I’m suffering from low self-esteem regarding math (been suffering it ever since 9th grade). One facet is due to the intense competitiveness of mathematics.

The reply to Dr. Merryfield’s email took me six hours to consider. My efficiency has been steadily dropping ever since — I don’t even know when. I haven’t watched anime for days, either.

Besides three weeks of homework that I have to finish, I also have to study physics for camp on Friday. It’s stressing me out. I need to keep up with those crazy academic monsters. I need to. I need to, in order to rescue my blurred self-confidence from a watery death.

The final brick in my tower of stress and worry was a conversation with Andy late at night. I had promised myself I would sleep early. I seriously needed every second I could save. I needed every minute of sleep I could salvage, because I know how hard-pressed I will be for sleep during camp. Yet, I stupidly allowed myself to be drawn into a Skype conversation at night. I told myself I was multitasking, but really.

I don’t know what I feel about Andy anymore. He was my best friend from fourth to fifth grade. We lost contact after that. I’ve always admired him, respected him for his uprightness. I’ve always looked up to him. Yet I feel something wrong, something distasteful about him now. It’s not that he rejected our idea. Now that I consider it, he’s quite right in many ways. It was one line, specifically. One idea that he conveyed during the conversation last night. He said this. He said that he was enjoying his high school life. He said that he wasn’t doing anything for his college apps. He said he was enjoying his high school life, and that his goal wasn’t college.

I can provide a probable reason for this answer, for this statement. His parents probably told him not to do anything for selfish, corrupt reasons like college apps and beating others at this college game. His parents probably told him to do everything for self-improvement, self-enjoyment, and that if he did that, he would naturally surpass others. And it’s really what you’re supposed to say to college admissions officers. You’re supposed to tell them that you learn because you love to, you did all that stupid APENG homework that had no contribution whatsoever to your education because you had fun doing it…

It’s just fishy. It stinks. It’s worse than admitting that you hate the system, and your teachers, and all the pointless work that you have to do every day. It’s very bad that you’re not only putting on the facade to admissions officers, but also to your friends. We’re his friends, right? I probably don’t have the right to say “best” (at least not anymore). I considered him my best friend since fourth grade. He understood me, understood the joy of tinkering with computers, and learning how things worked. I suppose back then, our motivation for learning was criminally sincere. We loved learning.

Maybe he’s still desperately trying to cling to that elementary school sense. Still trying to hold on, long after I had let go.

First band rehearsal

April 6th, 2011

two dimensions away

Remind me to post my photos sometime.

Here’s our final product: Nothin’ on You (cover)

All band stuff from 1st rehearsal:

the lonely hypocrite

March 27th, 2011

This post will be an incoherent conglomeration of various, possibly-related-but-more-likely-not thoughts.

Today some of my relatives from China came over. It was so fun when we visited them in China, and I hope they had fun visiting us in the United States.

I just reversed the i and the t in United States. Untied States. To the contrary…

Oh yeah, the rest of the day I spent trying to get SongBird to sync with my Samsung Captivate. The iTunes sync is perfect. Excellent work, SB team. However, the device sync needs work. Besides taking forever, it crashed every single time I tried to sync. Also, for some reason the only conversion options were Ogg Vorbis and Windows Media Audio (!!). Not that I mind as my phone supports both, but for some reason Vorbis caused SongBird to crash instantly every time it began trying to convert. After messing with a lot of stuff (I didn’t know it was Vorbis that was messing things up), I can now sync my iTunes with my SGS through SongBird… in WMA ^^”.

At least it’s better than DoubleTwist/iSyncr/iTunesAgent, which suck/don’t work/lag/can’t do anything for shit, and MediaMonkey which lags slightly more than SongBird (which by the way takes up 500MB of RAM for some crappy reason) and can’t seem to figure out how to sync with anything (both iTunes and my phone).

I lost my blue earphones. Those were the ones that Eric’s parents brought back with them as a souvenir when they went to Japan and put Eric under our care. Geniune Japanese earphones. The stuff REAL Japanese people use to listen to their J-Pop and anime music. I do remember having them (on) while I was opening the front door on Friday… where could they be?

I seem to be getting a lot of emails. My sudden popularity or something annoys me. I’m busy. Go away. Unless you have something interesting to say.

Messing with SongBird got me to reorganizing my iTunes library; something I haven’t done in a LONG TIME. It’s very relaxing organizing your music, setting everything up just the way you like it. Of course, it’s very time-consuming to go through all 7330 songs of mine, but somehow I went through halfway.

Or well, to the “M” mark. Currently listening to the Mabinogi music I have in my iTunes. Sweet. Especially since I never have music on while playing — it makes me appreciate the music more for some reason.

All my instrumental music is rated too high now. This is because I have (not that recently) adopted a new, MUCH stricter rating system for instrumental tracks due to the awesome influx of amazing Touhou music. I simply can’t categorize all Touhou music as five stars, after all, and I end up having no music rated 1 to 3 stars. So “average” has become 2 stars… meaning most of the 4-5 star instrumental tracks in my library need to become 2-3 star tracks. That’s basically everything.

By the way, my vocal music system still hasn’t changed… ehehe. ~90% of vocal music I add is four or five stars. And I basically never use 1 or 2 stars.

This is one of the reasons I wanted to switch (completely) to MediaMonkey — half-star ratings. I wish iTunes would support that.

Now that I think about it, does SongBird support half-star ratings? Probably not, because then it wouldn’t be able to sync back to iTunes. Meh.

MIUI player on Android is pretty awesome, by the way. You really can’t beat that simple yet ingenious interface… and lyrics support! Scrolling lyrics! Wow. That wows me to no lesser extent than the interface, albeit the feature is pretty useless.

Oh yeah, last episode of Beelzebub was awesome. It’s awesomeness is quickly approaching Hayate levels (my favorite anime when someone asks me, I guess… although not really). Other stuff have been sucking. Don’t get me started on IS or KoreZom, but even Index… blame the earthquake?

I played Touhou (Imperishable Night) yesterday. I suck, obviously, but it was fun. I think it was at like 3am, and I was pissed at Mabinogi for having such a sucky cooking dungeon mini-game. More Americans should get into danmaku games. It’s thrilling, grazing bullets and laughing at the horrible art.

I want to play a Touhou fantasy RPG. It wouldn’t make a good fantasy MMORPG, but it would make a really good JRPG. I’m thinking along the lines of Tales of the Abyss since that’s the JRPG I’ve been exposed to recently.

I bet you were wondering about the post title.

Me too.

General Obsevations

March 12th, 2011

Everyone wants to be in a band- I think Ben touched upon this in one of his 5238902 comments on that other post, but yeah, I think I can confirm that pretty much everybody under the age of 30 has aspirations of being in a rock band. I knew that one of my assistant golf coaches was in a band (bass/backup vocals), and I recently found out that the other one was in a band of his own (guitar, sound recording and mixing). I found this out during team pictures, when he was talking to one of my teamates. About his band (lead singer, lol). Yeah, I didn’t mention ours, because I didn’t want any of them assuming I had musical talent, but yeah, we’re going to be totally better than the million other ones. Yeah.

Everyone is condescending- In Arcadia, at least. Ben, I know you were worrying about how you always seem to sound condescending, but I think I can pretty much say that pretty much everyone in Arcadia is like that. Some people do it more than others, and some are more annoying doing so (and there are those who do it very often and very annoyingly, not mentioning any names, but I think we might all have someone in mind). But pretty much, it seems like everyone at AHS acts like this, and not just once every few weeks. 

This arrogance seems pretty much ingrained into AHS culture.  I guess that it’s almost like a developed instinct, an adaptation that everyone has developed in order to help them survive in this place. It probably has to do with a lot of the academic competition, and the Asian habit of being compared to others. Maybe a lot of it stemmed from just acting in order to fit in, but after a certain point, this acting pretty much becomes a part of everyone, and thus a common and accepted part of how things work. It isn’t healthy, but not much around here is anyway. Or maybe none of this is true, and my sleep deprivation is just making me very easily annoyed at people.

Everyone is taking 3-5 AP’s next year- This is only capped at 5 because the school won’t allow 6. But of course, there probably is someone out there taking 6 (7?) APs next year, this being Arcadia. Well, I guess not literally everyone is part of this, since there are some who are rational enough to to jeopardize their lives and sleep unecessarily. But I’m surprised at how many people are planning on doing this next year. It’s crazy. It seems like we all kind of assumed that senior year would be very relaxing for all of us, with everybody just kind of hanging out and just barely exerting enough effort to pass our Sheltered Intro to Office Technology class. But that’s going to be hard to do, since everyone is taking an equal number, or in most cases, more AP’s than previous years, and will at the same time be doing college apps. I wonder how much of this is because everyone looks at everyone else, and feels compelled to take more AP’s. Peer pressure sucks. The system sucks. Life sucks.

Hey, loser, I fixed your code.

June 6th, 2010

New tagline for my website. Just kidding.

Here’s my first blog post in two months. Naturally, since I have to summarize two months of my life in one blog post, I will be referring to my trusty agenda while recalling important events. So here we go.

The most recent thing since my last post was, of course, the 2010 AAPT Physics Bowl national competition. I find that I cannot seem to do well on important contests. I can fare reasonably well on tests and practice contests, but when it comes to the real thing, my brain cells just bluescreen from all the anxiety and end up failing in unique, interesting ways. Well, interesting to my readers, perhaps, but quite troublesome for myself. Take the AMC for example. I got enough questions right to get myself into the AIME exam, but I bubbled one of my answers in the wrong row. It’s interesting mistakes like these that make me headdesk in shame. I got 30/40 on the Physics Bowl contest.

That was Tuesday. Two days later, on Thursday, April 15, I set off towards San Francisco on the Orchestra Spring Tour. I can’t say I had fun… firstly, I forgot to bring black socks and black shoes. I had an interesting adventure with Hanchan near Fisherman’s Wharf searching for a pair of black shoes. I ended up buying a pair of black cloth made-in-China slippers. And I neglected black socks. Needless to say, I totally had a blast at the concert. Great America was one of the worst days I’ve had. I really hate amusement parks. It’s so pointless, and the amount of money they make is just staggering. I can’t believe people pay to… ugh. Well, the party at the end was great, though. Unlimited ice cream bars ftw!

Nothing interesting happened the next week. The following week was CSTs, and then the week after that was AP testing. I only had a test on the second Monday of AP tests, AP Physics B. It was easy, but I think I failed the free response pretty bad. Since, after all, I’ve never done an AP Physics free response practice ever. Hahahaha. Anyways, after that, Hanchan and I signed up to play a random quartet for a random rich person. Naturally, we failed brilliantly, but it was really fun anyways. I failed the APUSH test and only got into HUSH, and then we had the Pops Concert, along with the accompanying assemblies. The next week was so exceedingly busy, I have practically nothing written in my agenda for it. Oh, Friday says “Disneyland”. Right, we went to Disneyland. My “good” violin only had an orange Orchestra 1 tag on it, so it apparently got loaded into the Orchestra 2 section of the truck (how that makes sense, beats me.). So I had to use some loser’s crappy $20 violin in the seminar I paid like $80 for. Luckily I was able to prevent my own violin from being used by some loser during Orchestra 2’s performance. And the funniest thing is, after that, you have to PAY DISNEY… FULL ADMISSION PRICE to go play a day in the park. I mentioned above, when I was talking about the Spring Tour and Great America, how much I hate amusement parks. Ugh. I really hate them.

The weekend after Disneyland was really unique… it’s going to be memorable for years to come. You see, we have an English final project for Villalobos. My group — or rather, I myself, am rather ambitious. Our presentation was going to rock the socks off all our classmates… in theory. We met all of Saturday evening, I think, and met Sunday at Hank’s house (Hank, clean up your yard…). And they we met… ALL OF MEMORIAL DAY… from 10 in the morning, through lunch, through dinner, through midnight… and they left at 6am in the morning on Tuesday. Naturally, I skipped school on Tuesday to finish editing our horrible, crappy video, which wasn’t even my job. The thing is, nobody in my group except me can edit video, so…

Our presentation was on Wednesday. We first showed the video, which I typed up subtitles for the day before. Sound effects were added, but unfortunately Windows Movie Maker seems to be incapable of outputting playable video without considerable geekery, so we ended up throwing away many hours of work that we spent finding, adding, and timing sound effects. My subtitles were also quite substandard as well. (I did them using Aegisub, which, by the way, is probably the best subbing program on the internet. Almost all major subbing groups for anime use Aegisub, and it sped up my job immensely.)

After that, we did our main presentation, which was quite acceptable. I think the main premise of our presentation was quite good, although we were missing quite a few components (for example, the actual passage to be explicated during the passage explication…). As for the part of our presentation that made everything else seem trivial… our game. Let me explain. I was to write a flash game, from scratch, that allowed six players to control six cursors with six Wiimotes, connected via Bluetooth to the presentation computer. Each player had a racecar, and the goal was, of course, to be the first to complete three laps. However, players did not directly control the racecar in any way. They weren’t even in control of turning. All they had to do was answer multiple-choice questions on our book, Candide. Two questions appeared on the screen at a time, and any player could pick an answer from either question. If the player answered wrong, their car decelerated (or, accelerated backwards). It was possible for cars to end up driving backwards if too many wrong answers were chosen, which heavily discourages randomly picking answers. If a player chose the correct answer, a new question appeared, and the player’s car accelerated forwards. Also, there was a basic physics engine inside my game (written completely from scratch) that applied basic friction and forces to the cars, adding an interesting element of realism. All in all, it was quite a good idea, and it turned out to be quite a good game (except nobody in our group could do art and graphics competently), minus the graphics. Also, this is where I got the title of the post. It was Monday, and I was desperately looking for something cool to put on the “You Win!” screen, so I searched around the web for premade confetti scripts in Flash. Most of them were really crappy, and the ones that were okay costed money. I found some loser’s website with an OK script… however, the code was really really buggy. As in, it didn’t work at all. And when it did work, it was so slow, it crashed peoples’ computers. So I fixed it. I was tempted to reply to that loser’s blog with my fixed code. Hey, loser. I fixed your code.

Oh, but I didn’t. It would’ve been sweet, but I didn’t.

Anyways, guess what happened when I tried setting up my game during the presentation. All was well, until the game started… and then, it just didn’t work. Don’t ask me, the Wiimotes just suddenly all disconnected, and nothing happened when you pressed their buttons. Of course, this is all Microsoft’s fault, and when I’m retired, someday I’ll fix Microsoft’s bluetooth stack (which they still won’t have fixed in 60 years) and send it to Bill Gates. Hey, loser. I fixed your goddamn code.

Well, if you want an epilogue, we are going to re-present (read: steal five or ten minutes of another group’s presentation time) on Monday, tomorrow, and this time, hopefully nothing will go wrong.

So that was the major thing that happened recently. Also, Hank won Bay Math League. His score of 106 trumped my score of 100. I may have gotten a perfect paper on Round 4, but my previous failures dragged me down, I guess. I didn’t even rank, not surprisingly. Hank also founded Mu Alpha Theta on our campus. Speaking of math, I just got back yesterday from the national American Regions Math League, or ARML, national competition. Southern California A1 won 2nd place in the nation! Now, you’d expect me to be exhuberantly happy, but I must confess, I was on the SoCal B1 team. I get no medal, no certificate, no free calculator or $1000 prize or anything. I’d be depressed, but I don’t even have time to watch anime, so it’s not like I have time to be depressed. As I feel like giving a detailed summary of ARML, here goes:

On Friday, instead of going to school, I woke at 7am to board the SoCal ARML bus to Las Vegas. Most of my classmates probably will be listening to Justin’s explanation of why I am absent for the day: “He went to Las Vegas with his motorcycle gang to smuggle drugs and gamble. They’ll be chain-smoking and picking up girls, and Ben will be married to some prostitute when he gets back on Monday.” After five hours of bus ride torture, we disembarked into the 110-degree desert weather. We were staying in crappy dorms in UNLV — University of Nevada, Las Vegas. This is the site for the entire Western US ARML region. The other three ARML sites are at University of Georgia, Pennsylvania State University, and University of something-else. Friday afternoon-to-evening was spent on the Team Round and Power Round. My fellow teammates were rather incompetent, but my incompetence in the Individual and Relay Rounds the next day trumped their incompetence by miles. You can tell I did bad. Not that doing my best would have won me anything, anyways, but it generally doesn’t feel very nice getting two or three questions right out of ten… on anything, really. The Tiebreaker was just insane, and the Super Relay was just messed-up. I left the competition feeling quite dejected and completely lacking in confidence.

SoCal A1 won 2nd place nationally. First place went to some random loser team on the east coast or something. Yes, they did win, but I can still call them losers if I want. SFBA (San Francisco+Bay Area) won 3rd nationally — ha! losers. You may have noticed that I am using the word “loser” very liberally in this post. The obvious conclusion is that I, myself, am a loser, so, to ease the pain and sorrow, I call other people losers. Moving on.

The team composition of the ARML contest is quite fascinating. There were probably at least 15 teams from California — SoCal itself sent four teams, San Diego sent like two, SFBA sent like six, NoCal sent maybe one or two, etc. And then… Nevada had like one team. Utah had like one team. Oregon had a team, and I think Washington did too. The whole “region” of North+South Dakota plus Montana plus Wisconsin plus like 5 other states in that area… that’s like eight states… they sent just ONE team. Interesting, isn’t it? Also, this year the Mariana Islands sent a team, which was really cool. Guam also sent a team. I like how their definition of what’s included in the “American” Regions Math League is so liberal… for instance, Canada.

Vietnam also sent a full team, but apparently “international” teams were only there to participate, and they could not win prizes. It would be funny if Vietnam was considered a part of the “Western United States”. I would crack a joke about the Vietnam war, but my historical knowledge of said war has mysteriously disappeared. I think I replaced that portion of my memory with random anime songs. A team from China also came. They had some trouble getting visas to come here, so only 8 out of the 15-person team made it. The other 7 people counted as having scores of 0. Eight people. Only a half-team. Guess what? If China could win prizes, they’d have won the competition. That just cracks me up. Americans must really be losers.

Here’s to the cut.

» Read more: Hey, loser, I fixed your code.


November 17th, 2009

「闘艶結義〜トウエンノチカイ〜」 - 片霧烈火

“Touen Ketsugi ~touen no chikai~” – Rekka Katakiri

Yes, this one whole post to rant about one song: because it’s that good. Katakiri Rekka’s songs have always been powerful and fiery, but I think she’s really outdone herself with this blazing, epic song.

[wpaudio url=”″ text=”Touen Ketsugi ~touen no chikai~ – Rekka Katakiri” /]

It happens to be the intro song to Shin Koihime Musou, but the song doesn’t reflect the anime at all, interestingly. Nothing is really manly, epic, or anything in Koihime, it’s mostly humor and the other gender wearing skimpy clothing.

veteran’s day

November 11th, 2009

I love how, when nobody is at home and only I have a day off from school, I can do whatever I want. Playing music out loud on my speakers is SO refreshing to listen to when you’re always listening on earbuds.

Unfortunately, my two kawaii little siblings are also at home, along with babysitter, so I’m not exactly alone. There’s also my grandpa (always), so lol.

Today I woke at 11am (which is surprisingly early), and, trying desperately to be productive, am now working on physics. I really should also get a USAMTS problem or two done. I really really should; deadline is in… 12 days, dammit.

Anime: Nothing much is out in the way of anime; I downloaded the first episode of Mahoromatic because the OVA was out yesterday, and it sounded like an interesting story. My own fault if I get obsessed with it like I did with Shugo Chara!.

Music: Of course, I haven’t been able to stop listening to Treasure. The day it came out (at about like 2am) I stayed up all night downloading it and then listening to it in bed.

The next day I failed all my tests, naturally.

There’s also Aya’s new character song for Nanael (from Queen’s Blade). Yes, I gave that anime an F-. The song is pretty horrible too. Aya did a good job voicing Nanael though, she’s so cute (the only cute character in the entire anime imo).

Also, One Way Ryou Omoi (outro to Kampfer) came out. It’s catchy, but otherwise not particularly of notice.

The latest song: Magic Number by *gasp* Maaya Sakamoto! This Kobato intro song is sung by her, because she likes singing songs for CLAMP animes I guess. It’s of the typical CLAMP anime song style, e.g. the perfect combination of cute and cool.

I felt like randomly uploading a song; tried encoding in 24k AAC and it turned out pretty awesome.

Naraku no Hana – Shimamiya Eiko

Unfortunately, WP-Audio doesn’t support M4A/AAC files, so you’ll have to deal with Quicktime.

Anyways, yes, this song is the opening to Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai, so it is kinda creepy. Fortunately, you don’t understand the lyrics and won’t be creeped out by those. Actually they’re more “beautiful” than “creepy”, like Kai compared to the first season.

There goes my free time for the day… *sigh*