Archive for the ‘Research’ category

Intel STS – Day 4-7: Talking nonstop

May 4th, 2012

Intel STS Series – Jump: Day 0-1 | Day 2-3 | Day 4-7

I feel obligated to finish this. Besides an inexcusable total lack of posting in the month of April, I usually don’t end up finishing series posts (like the summer series… the USAPhO series… the US Team posts that, cough, never happened).

Well, more like, I just don’t post. Besides the Intel STS series, and miscellaneous non-content posts, my last post was in November of 2011. Add six months. It’s May. Each day without posting makes it harder to post the next day because I feel like I need to write something deep and shocking to make up for it.

Since it’s been a few weeks, I don’t remember exactly the events in sequence. Picture yourself rowing a boat, serenely swirling through the dark. The waters are calm. Bright glowing orbs light a liquid path. You gaze furtively over the rim of the boat, catching a few scenes from each fragment of my memory.


My trifold posterboard, awkwardly taped together from scraps of printer paper in all its black-and-white, Times New Roman glory. The title, left out and hurriedly jammed in at the bottom, stuck out like a sore thumb.

Supplied with army rations of bottled water and Lifesavers (for the sugar), we braved the siege, unrelenting, without even so much as a bathroom break.

At first they were sparse and few. A few interested passerbys, or a few of the backstage staff curious about the contents of these forty exhibits they just helped set up. Then came the elementary school class field trips, and the parents, of course. The parents of the other finalists were friendly. Many of them had technical backgrounds, and enjoyed the exhilarating presentations we just began rambling off.

It was still early, and we were still figuring out which lines to use and which concepts to simplify. We were still trying to decide on which figures to point out, which graphs to explain. Assembling the speech in our minds, putting in a nice-sounding line here, or a funny comment that one of the previous visitors had made. Mentally, each time an eager listener approached and we smiled and offered to explain our project, we went through the motions, point by point, figure by figure.

But it was still too soon. It was still too soon when they came.

At first it was just one or two. We didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary — the victims were silenced. But soon, out of the corner of our eyes in the middle of making a funny analogy to our captive audiences, we saw.

Towering, thundering through the crowds. Heavy-duty professional cameras, mounted on their shoulders like rocket launchers. Armed with boom microphones, stabbing like bayonets, inching ever closer to our throats, eager to taste the blood and vibration of our vocal cords.

The media was here.


We filed into the gate, government IDs in hand, knowing not what to expect. We filed into the building, where there was yet another checkpoint. They gave us badges on metal neckchains. We were separated into the citizens and the non-citizens.

We passed doors with impressive name plaques, elevators that we were not allowed to ride, and climbed flights of stairs, finally arriving at a bare, carpeted room that looked like its sole purpose was to receive large groups for photo shoots with the President.

Indeed, the walls were lined with shots of Obama around town. We lined up, stacked ourselves accordingly, switched places and rearranged our heights, gave up, started over by first ordering ourselves by height, and then re-ascended the risers.

Feeling special, and queasy, we proceed to wait another perhaps half hour. The photographers, the White House Press Corps, their own little battalion of shooters, lined up and took their places. It’s very tiring standing on risers doing nothing. Especially when you don’t know when suddenly you hear footsteps, and the President of the United States — at any second now — could walk into the room and stare you down.

So Mr. President walked in. We were gunned down by the photographers.

The shots kept firing as he gave an impressive speech and a big, you-can-tell-I’m-a-professional smile. He dove right into the middle of our euphoric gaggle and flashed that smile right back at the cameras going off.


Hanging out in the eLounge — Apples to Apples, ukulele, Super Mario Bros. Wii (which I later went on to play with my siblings at home), arm wrestling and push-up contests, and of course the obligatory Wii Sports. I thought I’d at least win the push-up contest. I actually do push-ups at home, after all. Although, you really couldn’t tell.

The fancy Gala in the National Building Museum: we even rehearsed for it the night before. My mini-poster board was, of course, just like my larger trifold. After embarrassingly performing emergency surgery and sloppily taping more printer paper to my unfantastic board (not being fantastic always disturbs me; habitual overachiever perhaps, I admit to it), I took my stance and conducted my presentation a few more times to gala guests. I saw an Intel storage researcher that I had talked a lot with on nights previous — they had a “reverse science fair” one day where the Intel researchers presented their projects to us Finalists; it was very enjoyable.

At my table was an important person from the US Chamber of Commerce, a kind lady from the office of a House of Representatives member that had spoken to us earlier in the day, a courteous couple, and many other distinguished guests. It embarrasses me to recall this table conversation as it was very awkward for me. I kind of mentally freaked out and didn’t know how to hold conversation with these important people, especially since they were so kind to me. Ahh, I’m embarrassed just thinking about it.

Ahh, here’s another good memory! Eating lunch in the House of Representatives cafeteria and talking to our guides from Intel was very cool. Here’s perhaps the best moment of that day: sitting in the House of Representatives, in one of the seats. Looking up at the roof, and then gazing at the podium in the center. Poking at the voting buttons around the seats. Those seats — cushions of power, wooden towers of American history.

Inside jokes — monkey physics and the Grand Unified Monkey Theory, the pretzel stand conspiracy, and Fred’s hilarious spontaneity! — good times.

Bowling — my amazing first toss (round? serve? whatever it’s called in bowling) was a strike. And then for the rest of the game I failed, hahaha! Oh, but the food they had at that bowling alley was beyond amazing. All of the food we ate that week was amazing, but the unlimited pizza and fries were a welcome reprieve from fancy seafood and elegant exotic pastas.

The last day was memorable: back from the gala, tired, weary of course. In the Astor Ballroom, where we had eaten many meals, watched many a presentation and met each other for the first time — a dance. Complete with a DJ, catered with popcorn and an ice cream bar. After eating a whole banana split and taking down a few more delicious scoops, we danced. To gloss over the one-second-felt-like-an-eternity final moments together in two words: we danced.

Hanging out in the no-longer-called-the-e-Lounge room, moving up and around and into hotel room and out, being asleep, being awake; it all felt like a dream after that, and I don’t remember a single thing about my plane flight back.

It felt good to be home, and I closed my eyes.


I hope you enjoyed reading.

Yes, I’m reusing the separators from Somehow, Today was a Bad Day all the way back on Feb. 22, 2011. I really like these.

Also, I don’t understand what the deal is today with me and violent imagery.

Intel STS – Day 2-3: Judging

March 13th, 2012

Intel STS Series – Jump: Day 0-1 | Day 2-3 | Day 4-7

I started Facebooking today, and I swear I’m going to regret it. Regardless, I blog on.

I explained judging in the last post, and that was before I actually went through the experience. Which… wasn’t very different from what I imagined. Before our interviews, a few minutes early, we’d drop by the second floor of St. Regis where the interviews were being held. There was a waiting room there where Diane juggled finalists and schedules. They had bottled (glass bottled, mind you) sodas and cookies and such.

The meals here are extravagant, and I don’t think there’s ever been a day when we’ve finished more than 50% of the food they served. It’s sad to think that all of this expensive food — expensive, expensive food catered by the hotel (god knows how much they charge) — goes down the drain. And when we eat out (at gorgeous places), and they always order the best, most delectable dishes, I feel like we finish even less of the food. But about the glass-bottled sodas: soda tastes infinitely better in glass.

At the Judges Introduction Breakfast I spoke with someone who worked in energy and public policy, with very intriguing experiences. My first judging interview was in Room 3, and there were no physics questions. There was an unfortunate computer science question involving computational complexity — unfortunate both because I couldn’t really answer it, and because my project happens to be in computer science. Very embarrassing. The biology lady was amicable. We discussed genetic modification, fish farming, and ethics. Despite knowing close-to-nothing about biology. Then I headed up for a nap. You’ll notice that I tend to nap a lot between and after judging sessions.

Later in the day I went to Room 4, which I don’t remember all that clearly. Really, I can’t recall anything about this room at all. Whether that’s good or bad, I can’t say, but there were still no physics questions! You can’t imagine how devastating this was for me, because physics was where I had a chance to impress the judges.

Waiting Room #209 during judging was, perhaps surprisingly, not populated by balls of nervousness. The finalists were confident and the atmosphere was pleasant — there was always a conversation going on, usually about what question this judge in that room asked, and figuring out the solution before you had to go through that room. The conversations with this bunch of 40 are always fantastic, whether about judging, school, monkey physics, or college.

As for room 2, my last for the day, I had questions about Earth and the moon being tide-locked and about drink sweat on a water pitcher. Those were perhaps technically physics-related but they weren’t knowledge-based physics questions so I still wasn’t able to use my Physics Olympiad experience to my advantage. I heard a lot of people got asked very hard physics questions that I would have loved to have gotten, but as luck would have had it, the judges, whimsical, avoided physics.

I might have mixed up some of these questions — in fact, I probably have, and I will go back and edit if I ever figure things out. I have a feeling that future Intel finalists will be reading this post, judging interviews coming up in a few hours, desperately looking for clues, help, information, data, statistics, secrets — searching for the formula to succeed in these interviews. I’ll tell you, there is none, and it’s a lot more fun if you go in without staying up all night studying and preparing. What’s most important about being an Intel finalist here in DC is not the prize or how you do in the judging. Really, it’s about connecting with the 39 other brilliant minds. Talk and laugh and joke and smile.

We had Brian Greene speak for us that night, and I was honored to be at his table for the (again) gorgeous dinner at the Astor Ballroom. His speaking was dazzling. The spiel he came up with on the spot about competition leading us forward was brilliant and eloquently delivered, and his actual presentation was mind-blowing and flawless. I applauded vigorously, but that wasn’t all — Friday night, we also each had a minor planet named after us!

That is simply amazing. Speechless. We each received a certificate and ephemeris data so we could locate our minor planets in a telescope. This the first real estate I have ever owned. I hope someday to travel to my minor planet and invite some friends to party.

For dessert (being the sweet tooth bearer I am), they had a chocolate fountain, and I tried chocolate-coating various objects ranging from pretzel sticks and pineapple to… graham crackers. It wasn’t really good, maybe because the chocolate just wouldn’t harden. Maybe I’m more of an ice cream, cake, and pie person.

That day I also went to my media interview, and the media crew was impressively professional. Stacks of MacBooks, large professional cameras, boom mics, an elaborate lighting setup, and such. Very nerve-racking.

Saturday we had our portrait sessions. The photographer was extremely kind, and told me (I remember this very clearly) that I was very photogenic. After my final interview in Room 1 where a way-past-cool Indian dude who was the only computer scientist on the panel grilled me mercilessly, and I was ripped apart by the other judges in the room — ahem, after all that, we set up our posters at the National Geographic.

Now, I have a confession — being the eternal deadline chaser and procrastinator extraordinaire I am, my poster was incomplete. Not to mention, cheap and shoddy. Looking around at the professionally-printed, well-designed posters that surrounded my table, I was struck with extreme embarassment of my own poster, with few words printed on (hear this) printer paper! — and an incredibly lame attempt at being artsy, trying to vary the font sizes of my meager sentences.

Of course, I had to rush to finish my poster. Luckily, the Business Center in the hotel had an awesome printer (though unfortunately only black-and-white). Somehow, I finished, and double-sided-taped the scraps of printer paper to my board. I could go on for a rant about double-sided tape: it is godly.

Well, then we had a nice dinner and a strange tour of landmarks in Washington DC. It just passed 3am, and tomorrow is a busy day, so here’s where today we pause.

Intel STS – Day 1

March 8th, 2012

Intel STS Series – Jump: Day 0-1 | Day 2-3 | Day 4-7

Well, really the second day for me — the ten West Coast finalists arrived a day earlier and had a fabulous stroll through DC, getting completely lost and returning past curfew. I must mention the hidden TV in the mirror at St. Regis. It’s so strange everyone always mentions it. I assume the prime ministers and movie stars that stay here are so busy they only have a chance catch their television while brushing their teeth.

St. Regis, the hotel we’re staying at, is right down the street from the White House (2 blocks!). The rooms were gorgeous, but I prefer my own bed at home (not used to hotel pillows and beds). I had a sore throat before I left on my flight, and so far it’s been tame and hasn’t developed into a cold. The bad luck of catching a cold at the most inopportune moments has always bothered me — wiping my sore nose with brown, rock-hard bathroom paper at UMD during US Physics Team camp… haunting. Luckily, the 4-hour plane flight was quite comfortable, and I kept myself hydrated at every opportunity (discovering ginger ale). There were other finalists on my flight, but their seats were further back. I slept.

I think the 10-person West Coast group on Wednesday was awesome, and now that we’ve grown to 40 people, it’s a lot harder to socialize because the group is so large, and you don’t know everyone anymore. (My inaptitude at associating names is no help, of course.) I’m simply amazed by the other finalists. It’s like a re-run of US Physics Team, except with research geniuses and not olympiad stars. They have bright personalities and are in no way antisocial or shut-ins. I’m blinded and humbled by their brilliance.

Oh, that’s right — today Intel and SSP confirmed that we would indeed be meeting Obama this year! I can’t even list all of the crazy guests that will be coming in — the Intel President/CEO, Dr. Brian Greene…

It’s not all fun and games though. Judging interviews are tomorrow, and they say the best way to prepare is to not prepare (I wish more things in life were like this). In my opinion a lot of the possible questions will be physics questions, so I have a nice advantage (and experience with olympiad-type stumpers), but I think they will recognize this and try to equalize and make it fairer. Meaning, I will likely be blown apart with biology questions. With some mathematical grenades thrown in to heat things up.

My roommate is Andrey, who hails from Washington state. I’m still getting to know him better, but he is definitely very high on the cool scale, and his Russian+British accent must get all the girls back home. The finalists hang out in the e-Lounge, which is downstairs in one of the (probably way expensive) conference/meeting rooms in St. Regis. They have a huge library of Blu-ray movies, board games, Wii games, sofas and pillows and music, and most importantly, computers and internet access. But not just any computers: these twenty HP Folio 13-2000 ultrabooks are amazing. I want to take them home. These are the best ultrabooks I’ve seen, perfect form factor, perfect keyboard, amazing SSD and unbelieveably thin and light. It beats out a MacBook Air, hands down. I need to complain about the trackpad though, it’s still difficult to use, and you can’t press it down at the top. It’s also hard to drag, since the left mouse button is also part of the trackpad area. The processor is lagless and adequate, but if I were in the market for a laptop I’d wait for Ivy Bridge’s lower power. Also, the display is only 1366×768 — come on, where is the Full HD?

Half of the finalists are currently sitting in the e-Lounge (it’s about 11pm) working on the laptops or hanging out on the sofas discussing strategies for tomorrow’s judging. The judges split into four rooms, and through the course of Friday and Saturday each finalist has 15 minutes in each room. I like that, because it means we have (a ton of) free time when we’re not having our judging interviews. Tomorrow I have three of my interviews. Ugh, this ultrabook feels so nice!

Today the other 30 finalists arrived, and it was mostly an off day. Breakfast was gorgeous, lunch was fabulous, and same with dinner. I could get used to being treated like a VIP, but I miss my parents’ home cooking and Chinese food. Eternally Asian. I had a nice nap, and ran into Ari and Saurabh at lunch. Ari, foodie, graciously explained food facts and knowledgably led us around DC.


Traffic is complicated in DC. From 7am to 7pm, you aren't allowed to turn on red. Also, from 7am to 9:30am, on Mondays through Fridays, the direction of traffic on the street changes direction. From 7 to 9:30am and 4 to 6:30pm, Mondays through Fridays, you can't turn left. Except holidays. Oh, and no idling.

There’s a universe more to talk about, but sleep is highly valued for me right now, so I will retire to precious dreams.

August Advent Calendar — Week 3: Doesn’t Backdating Everything Kind Of Defeat The Purpose?

August 26th, 2011

Monday, August 15

Lots of stuff going on. It’s my final week at work. Got presentations and crap, yet my work isn’t finished yet (to my satisfaction).

Oh yeah, I got my hands on a backup server located in San Jose, since my Texas server fails so often. And this server is… OMG, amazing.

root@altair:~# wget -O /dev/null
--2011-08-16 04:10:09--
Connecting to||:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
Length: 104857600 (100M) [application/octet-stream]
Saving to: `/dev/null'

100%[====================================================>] 104,857,600 45.9M/s   in 2.2s    

2011-08-16 04:10:11 (45.9 MB/s) - `/dev/null' saved [104857600/104857600]

That’s 400Mbps speed right there! And right now it’s about 5PM, pretty close to prime time. The speeds aren’t going down as I test more! Actually, it just got faster. It just did 56MB/s; that’s 500Mbps right there! I am in awe.

And what’s more amazing is the disk speed…

root@altair:~# dd if=/dev/zero of=testfile bs=4k count=256k
262144+0 records in
262144+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB) copied, 3.23105 s, 332 MB/s

That’s… stunning.

Today: Ichiban for lunch in La Canada (or is it Pasadena). Amazingly cheap Japanese food. It was like, what, $7 or 8 for a 3-combination bento box!

Couldn’t make it to the Crawdads baseball game and dinner today.

Tuesday, August 16

That post up there was not backdated! Amazing, no?

I actually have a detailed calendar of this week, because I actually maintained my Google Calendar. So these next few posts are only psudo-backdated.

Today was lunch with my Tuesday lunch crew, and then left for Apache Days.

Got there just as the doors were closing. Quite a lot of good exercise there, with all that sprinting. Ran into Justin (and, later, Alfred and Rose) amongst other friendly faces.

I made a fatal math mistake, forgetting to subtotal the graduation and grad night fees, so the check my dad wrote wasn’t enough. Luckily they told me I could pay this later at the ASB office.

It kind of doesn’t make sense that you have to pay $135 in order to graduate, but whatever.

The PTSA desk lady refused to stamp my sheet, trying endlessly to guilt me into donating $5. Damn Asian saleswomen. She seriously wouldn’t let me go, even though I told her I owed $135 and really didn’t have any money on me.

On another note, PTSA probably hauled in a huge load of money this year due to her. I applaud.

Justin followed me home to my house and proceeded to watch YouTube videos of people playing games. I told him to make sure I did work (was writing my draft), and somehow magically I managed to do more work that I usually would.

Maybe I should let Justin come over more often.

Wednesday, August 17

Much work was done regarding my final presentation this afternoon.

Many private legal issues were turned over in my head until both sides were well-done. As a result, my brain was cooked.

Thursday, August 18

Final presentation of my internship. My group supervisor came by, and he liked it. We had an invigorating chat. It felt great. The private legal issues were still being lightly sauteed in my mind.

Late afternoon: Spanish lessons at my job in Methodist Hospital! My amigo treated me to onion rings (anillos de sebollas — para llevar por favor!). The onion rings that the chef makes in the hospital cafeteria are brilliant (although all he does is deep fry them — maybe it’s something about the oil that makes them particularly tasty).

Important words to remember for my next impromptu Spanish lesson:

perdon – sorry, excuse me
¿que me dijste?
– what did you say?
¿que quiere decir (esto)
? – what does (this) mean
¿que quiere decir
? – what do you mean?
¿como se dice (esto)
? – how do you say (this)
no se – I don’t know.

I have horrible memory (especially regarding names), so the only reason I remember these is because I put them down on a notecard.

On a side note, I love those inverted question marks.

Friday, August 19

Final day of JPL internship. Private frying pan stuff, mostly. Ran around the entire campus; HR, education office, Office of General Counsel, Ethics Office — it’s like a tour on my final day.

Private frying pan stuff stressed my mom out. I tend not to get stressed out by stuff these days. Or maybe I just don’t feel like I’m stressed, but subconsciously I really am.

Saturday, August 20

Summer BBQ Bash at my JPL mentor’s house. I babysat my little brother in the swimming pool, mostly. Played pingpong, threat was dripping down my chin. It felt good. I need sunglasses for these situations.

The food tasted good, but on Sunday I had diarrhea so…

Sunday, August 21

Verbatim from my calendar:

9-10am: wake. That’s the most spectacular part of my day. I WOKE! And on top of that, before noon! And, as if that still weren’t enough, I was able to wake at 9am!

10-10:30am: week 4 day 2 of the 100 Pushups program. I think by this point I was up to about 150 pushups per day (exceeding my mom’s requirements). It still hasn’t become a full-on habit yet. I can do about 30 to 50 pushups in a row. Somehow I still don’t look buff or anything.

Although I can’t really imagine myself with highly developed pectorals.

10:30-11am: call Cindy RE:JVLG. That’s right, I wasn’t really sure if there was a meeting today, but I couldn’t find Cindy’s number. I ended up embarassingly late to the meeting. Embarassing!

10:30-11:30am: write all backdated August Miniposts. Hur hur… (this is being written on August 26th).

11:30-12:30pm: Lunch. Okay, following my calendar verbatim gets uninteresting from here on.

My afternoon was spent at the Junior Volunteer Leadership Group meeting for Methodist Hospital. Nothing too remarkable.

I was planning on seeing the counselors on Monday (both for the Stanford issue and my research competition forms), but I fell asleep or otherwise was incapacitated and unable to complete the forms. In addition, I overslept on Monday.

Remaining time before school starts: 1 week.

August Advent Calendar – Week 2: Nobody Really Cares About Your Impressive Powerpoint Anyways So Just Make the Name Sound Cool

August 25th, 2011

Haaaaaiiii, we’re back this week with seven more short and sweet miniposts! Moral of the week: don’t be a perfectionist! Work is like watching anime: ya gotta know when enough is enough. Somehow that analogy strikes me as extremely amusing.

Week 12– Monday August 8 to Sunday August 14

Monday, August 8

(Shamelessly backdated.) Hurriedly fixing up my presentation. I hate OpenOffice — why must it be so compatible with Word? That’s not the right way to win over users. Anyways, Impress (the OpenOffice version of PowerPoint) refuses to deal with math and equations. This makes no sense, as Writer (or whatever Office’s Word is called in OpenOffice) does support equations. Badly, admittingly. My equations in Word are always corrupted in Writer, and even when I create them in Writer they look butt-ugly.

tl;dr – Busy day; billion zillion presentations.

Tuesday, August 9

Uhh, I really don’t remember. I had lunch somewhere, went for a good drive or something.

Wednesday, August 10

Don’t expect me to remember all these things that happened half a month ago!

Oh, that’s right, I was supposed to get beat up and have my confidence in my mathematical abilities decimated by a professor who insists on being considered a colleague despite our age difference being wider than the Atlantic. Well, my math confidence has always been in pieces anyways. I mean, after seeing all those mathematical monsters at contests like ARML and such, and of course USPT, and not even doing so well in my very own local Arcadia Math Team.

Thursday, August 11

Worked on patent. I think. Funny how my hopeful mailing-out date keeps drifting farther and farther down the river.

Friday, August 12

Planning on adding a backup server after the horrible outage on Tuesday. The Leafwood Network shall grow!

Happy birthday k!

Saturday, August 13

I finally post last week’s August Advent Calendar post.

Sunday, August 14

I seriously don’t know. Probably a family day, maybe a few outings. Precious times.

August Advent Calendar – Week 1

August 13th, 2011

August has come — school is starting again in the blink of an eye! As this sad date advances closer and closer, we are filled with more and more regret for the things we could not do in the summer. Thus, to compensate and cheer us all up, I decided to hold a sort of Advent Calendar. No, you don’t get chocolates, or virtual items for your Neopets, or toys. I have something better :)

Each day of August, you get a brand-spankin’ new mini-post! (Disclaimer: mini-post can consist of as few as one sentence.) I’ll stop blabbing here; let’s get this party started!

Week 1 – Monday August 1 to Sunday August 7

Monday, August 1

(By the way, I am backdating this minipost. Hee hee… yes, I am cheating.) The Common App launched today, and I haven’t even bothered to think about it. I had a dumpling party yesterday with Vincent, Mr. Zhang, Lucy, and Sue (and various parents). Originally I just invited Mr. Zhang, Vincent, and his dad, since it was supposed to be a little private get-together to celebrate Vincent’s departure as he would be moving permanently to Boston. Lively party was interesting to me (and I usually don’t find social functions interesting), but my parents thought that everybody’s parents kept talking about pointless things and making stupid arguments about stuff that nobody cares about. True, I guess. Vincent’s dad was different from what I expected. He disciplined Vincent well, as I expected, but he didn’t feel as oriented as Vincent. Something I talked about with my parents — why would he follow his son all the way to Boston? It’s like he didn’t care at all about his own life and dedicated everything he did to Vincent. In fact he outright affirmed that, making a splendid metaphor to how he was the first-stage rocket of the spacecraft known as Vincent. I suppose Harvard or somebody he meets there would become his second stage, propelling him furthermore on his journey to the stars.

Today Simon, one of the senior interns under my mentor here at JPL, came back finally from his school. Yes, it is around the end of his internship already, haha. Anyways, to celebrate, we went to this severely overpriced restaurant in Old Town Pasadena (or at least I think that’s Old Town) called Gyu-Kaku. I don’t know why white people like Asian food so much, but they do apparently. It was pretty good, but for the cheap $10 value meal thing I ordered, they barely gave anything. It’s a Yakiniku restaurant, and I think this is the first time I’ve been to one. It’s like a hotpot restaurant, except it’s not a hotpot, it’s a grill-thing. They give you meat, you cook it. What I thought was pretty interesting was the spinach they included in the value meal (because spinach = value!). Yes, it was just spinach. Raw spinach. Anyways, they wrapped it in aluminum foil with a few slices of garlic for you to, uh, toss on the grill (read: “cook”), and it was pretty good.

And yeah… crap happened in June and July, but meh. I’ll backdate a few posts to talk about important stuff, of course. Like Stanford. Oh yeah. Still need to write that post…

Have I mentioned that the Common App came out today? And I still haven’t started?

Tuesday, August 2

(Also backdated.) I had lunch with Zack today, where I failed a physics problem. After chatting about Zack’s cruise, the hot Russian grade-skipping genius college chick he met, how he stole her from her boyfriend, and how that made him totally cool, we were talking about the softball game I was going to play tomorrow (Wednesday). Of course, I have absolutely no athletic talent — even less than my artistic talent.

Wednesday, August 3

(Hey, guess what, it’s backdated.) Highlight of the day was my softball game. I was catcher, and I was completely clueless so I didn’t know to call foul or fair. Yet, everybody still helped me and said kind things, gave helpful advice. It feels great to be part of a team.

Thursday, August 4

(I’m serious, I intended to start this, but Thursday’s minipost is also backdated.) Today I met with the most important lawyer in all of JPL/CalTech. Considering lawyers charge like $500 per hour, and I got a half hour with him, that’s a nice $250 worth of legal counsel there.

It turns out he was actually a patent lawyer in his previous job for a big aerospace company. How brilliantly convenient!

Friday, August 5

I liked this quote from the Official Google Blog about startups:

We’re a small, close-knit group of friends that spend most of our time huddled in a room making decisions on the spot and moving fast to launch a product in a matter of months.

Here are the results of today’s productivity:

I love making post-it art. The things that end up coming out of my pen are always so random though. And yes, of course, my artistic capabilities are not quite proficient.

Saturday, August 6

(This is backdated again — I didn’t get to finish writing my other backdated posts so more stuff got pushed back.) My presentation yesterday got cancelled. But now I have to work on my presentation and paper instead of enjoying my weekend. Mwahh.

Ended up goofing off most of the day. Who would have expected.

Pic somewhat related. Somewhat.

Sunday, August 7

(Backdated.) This is one of those rare days when I was able to make myself do work. I feel so accomplished — wrote a huge huuuge detailed PowerPoint and came up with some key concepts to emphasize. Unfortunately I couldn’t write much of my paper.

That’s Your Title

July 20th, 2011

I post so rarely now that I have to look up the date of my last post, and go into my Google Calendar to look up what I wanted to talk about. That post was nearly a month ago… and this is a summertime post, where I supposedly have boundless amounts of free time to dedicate to various assorted meaningful and meaningless activities. Well, that’s not quite true. With my full-time summer job that barely pays minimum wage at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, I don’t really have free time on weekdays.

Said occupation began humorously on June 27, two days after my last post– well, to tell the truth, I met with my research professor as a JPL visitor on Friday to discuss my research, as he was leaving for a 2-week trip to attend a conference. By humorously, I don’t mean that anything humorous happened; I only mean to say that I was in good humor. Arriving late on the first day to orientation, as any respectable new hire would do, I moped around the visitor center for a few minutes before I found out that the orientation was to be held in the Von Karman Auditorium. There was a nice big sign that directed us towards the auditorium that my eyes had conveniently missed.

Cool videos were projected, boring Powerpoints were presented, ignored rules are laid down. We can’t sell our research to foreign governments, play World of Warcraft on company time and computers, torrent movies (not that I was planning on watching anime at work), or sleep. (Blogging was never disallowed :D) My boss is cool, my coworkers are friendly, my section manager is awesome (totally reminds me of Ms. Chen, our music director, who by the way was re-hired… congratulations!), and life’s great — the greatness of life rears its head in some way or another every day.

The internet here is mad fast. Yay for government/military-quality connection. Speaking of internet, I need to move to Sweden. AT&T hasn’t even released an LTE phone yet, and average speeds aren’t going to top 10Mbps anyways… America is sad. Especially judging from past experience. If I get to check out Estonia next year (43rd IPhO), maybe I’ll like it so much I’ll apply for a green card.

After a wonderful three days on the job with my professor gone, familiarizing myself with my new environment, getting my office workstation set up with Ubuntu 10.04 (god bless he who has granted Linux unto my humble PC), meeting new people, and nearly killing myself driving to and from work multiple times… after three days on the job, I got five days of vacation. Now how may this be, you may ask. We have a wonderful little policy here called RDO (Regular Day Off) in which we get every other Friday off. In addition, this was Independence Day weekend, so Friday and Monday were off anyways. So in total, five days off. After three days of work. Brilliant. I wish every week were like this.

So what do I do with my five days? I visit Stanford!

(This was post #321. Brought to you by The Common Application and the letter Q.)