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

August 26th, 2011 by ben 3 comments »

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 by ben No comments »

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 23rd, 2011 by k 4 comments »

I don’t feel that I owe anyone an explanation, but I really dislike misconceptions. There’s a chance that over the course of this post, I might have my own misconceptions about other peoples’ misconceptions, but this is the best I can draw from what I’ve observed.

I’m kind of guessing here, but there seems to be a misconception that deep down, I really, really want to go to Stanford, that it’s this innocent, pure childhood dream that is being suppressed by shadowy, corrupting forces, or something like that. Let me assure you that that is not the case. The idea that I am being influenced by Arcadian powers, Asian parents, tutoring schools, peers, or other pressures in that vein to abandon my own true, personal desire of attending Stanford is wrong. In fact, the opposite is closer to the truth.

It is probably these Arcadian pressures that influenced me to want to go to Stanford in the first place. As a child, you are more pure, so it may seem that thoughts from this time should reflect the truth. But this childhood purity also means ignorance, ignorance of the world around and of one’s own feelings. When delving into concepts that are somewhat beyond a child’s scope, such as college choice, the child largely relies on what he/she knows, from their surroundings.

As a child, my view of the college world could only be drawn from the atmosphere around me, and as such, it was limited to the typical Arcadian view. The stereotypical Asian parent’s knowledge of colleges (Ivy Leagues, Stanford, Caltech, MIT, UC’s, Cal States, PCC) became my only knowledge of the subject. With this restricted scope, it seemed to me, as a child, that Stanford or Caltech was the best choice; both were schools with very good academics, and were in California. Caltech had the advantage of being especially close, while Stanford had athletics in addition to academics.

As I’ve gotten older, and actually gained my own knowledge of both colleges and of my own desires, I’ve come to realize that my childhood ideas were quite foolish. There are obviously, many other fine institutions across the country other than the ones that I had heard of in the 2nd grade. Now, proximity to home isn’t that important to me, if anything, I want to be farther away, to experience something different. Caltech is far too close to even consider. Stanford is a bit farther, but as it is still in California, it’s location, which was such a big advantage when I was a child, is now to me a neutral factor at best.

As for the outside influences, I fail to see how if I chose to go along with all the aforementioned pressures, I would not want to apply to Stanford. In Arcadia, Stanford is pretty much the top of the top, the collective dream school of the city. It’s one of the top schools in the nation, not only in academic quality, but in name-brand recognition. It’s location also is a huge plus for the many students and parents who wish for a California school. 122 students have applied to Stanford over the last 3 years. I think that that’s more than any other private school with the exception of USC, which Arcadia High is a huge feeder school to.

Stanford is one of the hardest schools to be accepted to in the nation. Still, it far outclasses the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Cornell, Duke, even Harvard in the number of AHS applicants. Students, and by extension, their parents, see Stanford as the ideal top goal of college applications. An application sent to Stanford is a normal part of the Arcadian application process. Even for those with the longest of long shots of getting in, Stanford is a target, because they feel that they might as well give a wild shot to the undisputed collective dream school. If the pressures and expectations of my surroundings were what I was basing my choice of colleges to apply to on, you guys would not have had to do any convincing at all for me to mail an app to Palo Alto.

Stanford is no doubt a great school, in terms of academic prestige, and from what I gather, the intellectual environment.  But it is not my dream school. For me, I don’t really have a dream school, in the way that adults looking to make conversation would like to imagine I do. There is no one academic institution that I would like to go to above all the rest, which I have all my desires pinned on, that I imagine myself at daily. There are a few schools that I think are very good places of learning, where I can see myself enjoying 4 years. I am applying to them and would be very happy to get into any of them. Stanford prides itself on its students being accomplished not just in the classroom, but outside of it, and it’s campus packed with overachievers, national medalists from all fields is not an ideal fit for me that puts it above the other schools. If I had to pick a first choice, a mandated dream school for me, Stanford is not it.

Okay, so Stanford is not an idealistic dream for me, nor is it even one of my first few choices. But still, why isn’t it on my list of schools that I think are academically superior, that I would be happy to get into? Now we get into the issue of getting in. Before I start, let me pre-emptively counter those arguments that I have a strong feeling of coming, about me being negative and needing to believe in myself. This isn’t about doubting myself, my own intellectual ability. How intelligent of capable I think I am is not the issue in question here. This is about what the college admissions officers think of my college app.

As I said earlier, over the last 3 years, 122 AHS students have applied to Stanford. 9 have been accepted. On average, about 3/40 every year. I know that averages don’t always work out, and that sometimes things can happen, but assuming that most of the top students apply to Stanford (along with Harvard, Princeton, etc.), even looking at it as inclusively as possible, you would have to be in about the top 10 of all AHS applicants in your year to even have a shot.

Again, this isn’t about what I think of myself. Am I in the top 10 most intelligent/competent people in our graduating class? Maybe, maybe not. It’s a question that is nearly impossible for anyone to answer. But is my college application one of the top 10 in our graduating class? No.

If you still can’t accept that I have virtually no chance of getting accepted into Stanford for undergraduate studies, then I guess you can just go with the idea that I think I’ll be happier elsewhere.

August Advent Calendar – Week 1

August 13th, 2011 by ben 4 comments »

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.

Withdrawal Symptoms

July 29th, 2011 by k 11 comments »

As you guys probably know, I’ve been at UCSD the last 3 weeks for a summer program thing. I have enjoyed almost all of it, as I’ve mentioned on Skype and stuff, particularly because I got to meet many different type of people. There is a diversity here that definitely does not exist in Arcadia. The last few days, I have already not been particularly excited about going back home, but  today it seems to have hit me even harder. While not the cause of my semi-emotional-breakdown, the thing that probably triggered the existing thoughts in my head was a conversation between a few of the people in my class during the incredibly boring graduation rehearsal.

They were talking about their experiences at parties and stuff, including doing stupid things while drunk and just other things they do, a conversation which I clearly, could have no participation in. It’s not that I have a desire to get super drunk and not remember the events of a whole night or anything, but just listening to them made me realize the stark contrast between their lives and mine.

Tim was saying yesterday that he thinks the only really different thing about Arcadia is it being upper middle class. I almost completely disagree. Being able to drive down the street, and see almost all restaurant and store signs written in Chinese is not something that can happen in just any city in America. While I know that there are drugs/alcohol/parties and stuff in Arcadia, it is clearly not a cultural norm as it is elsewhere. It’s definitely not just about the drugs and stuff either; that’s just the most obvious example. Another pretty clear example is how much more aware people seem to be of national/political issues, topics which from my experience are rarely heard of in Arcadia.

The whole culture and atmosphere of Arcadia is just not the same as the rest of America. Think about it. How many Asian Arcadians do you know whose parents were born here? Almost everyone I know was either born in Asia, or had parents born in Asia. Off the top of my head, I can think of only one acquaintance of mine who has parents born here, fluent in English, and totally familiar with American culture. Yeah, there are nonasian people in Arcadia too, but as they are a minority, they visibly do not have that much influence over the overall atmosphere of Arcadia, a clearly Asian-dominated town.

I know that you’re supposed to be “prideful” or whatever in your background and where you came from, but honestly, I am not. Like I said on skype, most of the time I have no problem fitting in, but when I think deeper, there are inherent differences because of how different of a place I grew up in. Some people are fine with remaining in the whole Asian/American-born Asian way of life, but that is not me. What happens in China/Hong Kong/Taiwan is no more relevant to me than what happens in France or Saudi Arabia. It’s not just that, I think that my whole mindset/philosophy/interest is more American than Asian.

I guess that I kind of wish I was born and raised in a “typical” American family. But I know that I wasn’t, and that I can’t change that. My dad has warned me plenty of times that it may be difficult to fit into mainstream American society because I will probably be looked at as closer to the FOB’s than to Americans. And even if people don’t consciously discriminate this way, I still have grown up my whole life in an environment not like  most people I will meet.

The other option is to just “embrace” my Asianess and just do what the path of a model Arcadian is. Go to a good school, study all day, get a fairly high paying job, marry an Asian girl, maybe have a kid, send the kid to an Arcadia-y school and continue the cycle. All while remaining contained in Asian interests, activities, and interactions. It’s a valid path, I guess, and it’s much easier, and may be more comfortable for some. But not for me. That’s not what I want to do.

That leaves me in stuck, in between two cultures, one that I would like to be a part of, but can never totally be in, and one that I wish to leave behind, but may never be escapable. And I don’t think that the Middle Way is the best path to take in this case. To forever be torn apart, in what might be described as isolation. That may be one of my biggest fears.

That’s Your Title

July 20th, 2011 by ben No comments »

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.)


June 28th, 2011 by ben No comments »

Today, a very, very sad thing has come to pass. I filled up my 1TB external hard drive.

One thing I have to say on the topic of hard drives: at the pace of technology today, hard drives usually become out of date long before they fail. This is a wonderful, thing, I suppose.

Unfortunately, the pace of technology today still can’t keep up with my rate of anime consumption.


Song of the Nightingale

June 25th, 2011 by ben No comments »

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.

Growing up is overrated

June 24th, 2011 by ben No comments »

Productivity is so much more difficult than entertainment.

Case in point: these first two weeks of summer. Swamped with invitations, banquets, potlucks, decisions, requests, favors, startups, plans, and whatnot. Keeping up with events on my calendar, following up on emails, managing and leading people, making decisions and planning meetings. It’s all so… productive. I’ve never felt so productive.

Productivity takes a surprisingly large amount of time. I see now why there are people whose jobs are just to “manage people” — it’s a lot of work!

Being productive and managing felt so grown-up, yet it really wasn’t that fun. Like, when you’re a kid you look up to grown-ups so much, and when they do their work on the computer you’re like “wow, so mature.” And now it’s like “wow, so retarded.” Growing up is overrated.

free food Physics Team Potluck

Major event that I wanted to talk about was our potluck. I was burned out after junior year, looking forward to the inactivity and lazy days that supposedly lay ahead.

Sucks for me that I have so much going on. Well.

Vincent, my longstanding role model, among many — there are so many respectable people in the world (I never thought I would hear myself say that — I’m usually way more cynical than that. I guess my personality must be different in the summer. Or maybe it’s just that junior year’s over.) suggested that I plan a Physics Team potluck to celebrate our achievements this year and let everybody get to meet each other.

I, in lazy mode, was initially annoyed at his eagerness to spend time that I would normally find wasteful. I was also kind of annoyed that it would be held at my house.

I had this cool back-and-forth with my parents, and the conclusion we reached at the end was that Vincent was lending me a friendly helping hand by nudging me onstage to manifest my leadership, because I wasn’t normally the type of person to arrange social functions. My idea was that the only reason the Physics Team would ever need to meet together would be to discuss Physics or Team. Groups are complicated.

Society is complicated.

Vincent had selected three hopefuls, the brightest sophomores from this year’s AP Physics B, and the last, as Arcadia High School would be phasing out AP Physics B for sophomores (which makes little sense). I’d petition the administration, but there’s basically no chance of restoring the class.

Oh, on a tangent, Calculus D was also killed. It especially sucks for me. I was really looking forward to taking that class.

There was an overage of food, of course, as Asian parents coursed in with armfuls of eatery munitions. We played badminton, basketball, ping-pong, Wii, and even a little soccer. The best part, I think everyone could agree, was our Ultimate Frisbee game.

Usually I don’t have fun during social functions. But maybe, just maybe, they’re tolerable.

Startup, Inc

As much as I try to learn from Vincent and his outgoing persona, social command isn’t all it takes. You do get places by telling people what to do, and having people work for you, but that’s somewhat dissatisfying and unsettling.

Our hush-hush project began with a clang– with a hotpot. Jason Jong loves hotpots, and I see why now. Hotpots are the perfect meal to eat at business meetings. It totally fosters a sense of eating out of the same bowl, and working together to cook the meat. Symbolism aside, it also tastes really good.

The hotpot restaurant we went to (next to the 99 Ranch Market, the leftmost one– for some reason there are two hotpot restaurants in the same plaza right next to each other) wasn’t very good, but I still enjoyed it.

I found myself unfamiliar with the teenager hangouts of Arcadia as we later went to that tea shop next to 99 Cents on Duarte and I ordered my first tea shop snack.

Life’s good. To be specific, mildly spicy with a numbing aroma (麻辣). Sweet potato fries.


That was all… two weeks ago. It’s all stuff that should have been blogged in detail, but weren’t, and only now get a brief amount of coverage.

I missed talking about the various gatherings of my Skype group, LSG. Happy really belated birthday, Hanchan!

Aeris dies.

Because of various circumstances, one week ago (hey, we’re making progress!) I started playing Final Fantasy 7.

Now, don’t be mistaken. By “play,” I don’t mean I was playing the game.

My ineptitude at gaming is legendary.

One of the most vital points towards my college application will be the claim that I have never once completed a game in my life. I’ve never beat any of my Pokemon games. Never beat Sonic Adventure 2. Never beat Crash Bandicoot 3. Never beat Ocarina of Time — I’m actually at Forest Temple, roughly the halfway point. That’s a record for the farthest I’ve ever gone in a game. And that was with cheats (load/save state on emulator). My two little siblings beat me constantly at Wii Sports.

I was reading synopses, character bios, game walkthroughs, scripts, and watching YouTube videos. I’ve given up on “playing” games. It’s impossible for me.

FF7 is so deliciously complex.

I also like the name Mint. It’s brilliant.


Today (wow big timeskip) I visited my new office.

Yes, you heard right. I was amazed too. I get my own office? …

Turns out I had to share it with this other guy, but that makes me feel less bad at getting my own office.

Wow. I get my own half office.

Looking forward to starting my research with spacecraft fault protection and interconnection on Monday.

Dang, I feel so privileged.

Coffee makes me sick

I hate coffee.

This morning I was at a coffeeshop waiting for someone, and, being considerate of the coffeeshop, decided to buy something. I was thinking of getting one of those cold milk-coffee drinks — Frappiccinos or something?

I don’t know coffee terminology.

Well, “cappuccino” sounds like “Frappiccino” so I ordered one. I expected sweet, I got freakin’ bitter. I expected milky, I got freakin’ black. I expected iced, and I got hot.

Stupid coffee.

College Apps

Let’s not talk about this.

Strawberry Shortcake Post

June 21st, 2011 by ben No comments »

Alright, alright, I haven’t had a real post in weeks. The last two “posts” were just me passing on an interesting article (it’s almost like Twitter now– retweeting! heavens, what is this world this blog coming to?), and posting some lame quotes that nobody cares about.

Even my last “real post” was just me complaining about my life. Oh wait, that’s what I always post about anyways, isn’t it? Just kidding.

God, that wasn’t even funny. I’m losing my touch here.

Oh yeah, I’ve started using the Senior Year (10-11) tag on my posts since summer started. It really gives out a good vibe — I feel like a senior already because I’m using that tag. Uwaahh.

What tag would I use in college? Meh.

If I go to an East Coast school I’ll probably have to relocate my server, eh? Ping from Dallas to Boston has got to be over 100ms, even with those top-tier university networks I’m so excited about getting my hands on.

I wonder if there are people who go to college just for the impossibly-fast internet connection.

Also, I was thinking of doing something about those old anime posts. They’re extremely embarrassing. Every time I click on “Random Post” and see one of them I cringe shamefully. I want people to click on “Random Post” and go to one of the many deep and thoughtful posts written by me and my one-person staff who hasn’t been posting lately (*semi-threatening glare*).

Time to start focusing on an actual topic for this post

Recently I’ve begun using headers like these to divide my emails into topics. It makes long emails less tedious to read, I believe. I’ve been writing a lot of long emails lately. It’ll probably become like a running joke this summer. Ben and his long, elaborate emails. Oh no, I got off topic again.

I think I’ll change my posting style from long, elaborate posts (why is everything I do lately long and elaborate?) to short and sweet. Like… strawberry shortcake. It’s short. And sweet.

The pun on “short” in shortcake was totally not intentional. I was trying to think of something sweet, and I happen to love those strawberry shortcake ice cream bars. Ugh. What I would give for one right now.

So here’s my first strawberry shortcake post of the summer. Ta-da!

What, that’s it, Ben? You’re ending here? You didn’t begin a single topic! You didn’t talk about anything specific at all!

Shush. It’s a strawberry shortcake post.