Archive for September, 2010

I don’t know why I’m writing this

September 30th, 2010

It’s 3:04 AM, so I should probably sleep, or do some work that’s due later, so I don’t end up having to stay up all night some other day. But of course, I’m going to write this stupid blog post because I feel like it. In fact, this whole post was inspired by my procrastination, as I was looking for something to do instead of APENG annotation, and I had run out of random crap to look at on the internet. I hadn’t read the Pow Wow yet, so yeah. And of course, being myself, I began to cynically and sarcastically criticize everything in it. And I also felt like writing a blog post of my random thoughts just because. It’s not any more pointless than the tons of anime posts on here, or the random phone discussion.

First off, I will acknowledge that the newspaper people worked hard on the publication, and the whole thing was probably more of an accomplishment than anything I’ve done recently. Maybe this blog post is just my way of competing with these people because they’re going to get credit on their college applications for all that they write in the paper, while mine is just going to be on leafwood. Yeah, a lot of my writing is going to be fueled by disgust at how the college application system works, and why everyone else is doing crap that will help them get into top schools while I’m not, just like many of my thoughts are. Nevertheless, as the Pow Wow is a newspaper, the writers are open to criticism as all journalists are, even if it’s just by a random guy on an internet blog, like I am. This may be a microcosm of the world-they’re the wealthy, successful LA Times, Boston Globe, NY Times writers who have it made, and I’m the guy on the internet angry at the system, at how the world works, and direct it on their elitism.

Oh yeah, and if you haven’t figured out yet, much of my writing will be crappy and incoherent because it is 3 in the morning.

First off: The cover story, about AHS’s API. Naturally, the front page has to be something showing the greatness and prestige of the school. The propoganda. “Looks at how awesome this school is, we’ve accomplished so much!” Really, it’s propoganda. I don’t personally know many of these newspaper writers, but I really doubt that any of them truly believe that people try on the CST’s, with the goal helping the school, as if this is some great quest. They’re trying to help morale and school pride, I guess, trying to make this some great accomplishment in something really important. In addition to API’s not being such as monumental measurement as they try to make it out to be, AHS’s accomplishment in this category aren’t even that great. 36th in California, which is, if I remember correctly, in the bottom 5 in the nation in education. As for the credit for this, they give it to students who “put in a lot of effort into achieving these results,” which is total crap. Nobody takes the CST’s as anything other than homework or nap time. Or as a race, if you’re wierd like that. Also, they credit the teachers that go “beyond state standards.” Beyond? Maybe if our teacher taught at state standards, they could BS and say we were going beyond, but when many teachers don’t even teacher what they’re supposed to, I think this is too great of an exxageration, even for a propaganda piece.

Yeah, I’m going to keep calling it that, becuase that is what it is. At first, I didn’t want to be too critical of others’ work, but the more I’m reading and writing, it’s hard not too. “This accomplishment has been met with great enthusiasm” by students. Really. Maybe there are a few that actually believe in this, but as a whole, I honestly don’t think anybody cares. There are no inspirational speeches before the CST’s, where some student stands up on a chair and says “C’mon guys, let’s do this for Arcadia! Go Apaches!” This article tries to make it as some great schoolwide goal like that. And their quotes don’t show anything. First off, people only say they are ” ‘ really proud'” when they’re interviewed because they know that’s what you’re going to put in the article. Second, the quote is probably doctored anyway. I’ve heard discussions from the newspaper people, really few of the quotes are actual quotes. So much for journalistic integrity.

And the conclusion? “Students should have the attitude…our job…it is vital for us to understand…” Don’t tell me what I should do and what my job is. Fine, try to build up school pride and spirit and enthusiasm toward the CST’s, but don’t try to make it out to be some higher obligation. Of course, they make sure to end this demand with a compliment to make everyone feel as if they had played a vital part in accomplishing something great. Also, the accompanying picture for this article is one of a track team girl leaping over hurdles to symbolize this academic achievement, to create this image in students minds of a heroic, athletics feat. I will admit though, that was a really nice touch to the propagandy feel of the piece. If you’re going to try and manipulate public opinion like this, I would like more of this subtle imagary than the blatant lies being written.

Ok, how am I at 918 words after just the cover…there’s still the rest of the paper to go through…I should channel my frustration more, maybe I would be more productive.

Current events…not much to say…good job copying stuff off the LA Times…

Opinion section. I’m not going to discuss each article one by one, because I think I probably should sleep sometime soon. So I’ll just keep my criticisms to a broad round-up of all the articles. Mostly. There’s actually some good writing on here. Much like this blog post, there’s stuff inspired by teenage/AHS cynicism, only theirs is less caustic and much more well written. However, it is frustrating to read some interesting observations, only to have the conclusions be so, I don’t know, arrogant. All of them end with the author learning some life lesson that has changed them. Yeah, you’ve brought up some interesting points, but really, if all of these discoveries changed you like you claim they did, these Pow Wow people would all be renowned philosophers by the end of the year. In addition to many of the conclusions being cliche, such as “slow down and enjoy life,” I highly doubt that the authors adhere to the principles they claim. It’s jut not possible for an AHS student to do all these idealistic things. You’re on the school newspaper, you obviously care about school and college apps.

It seems pretty obvious that many of these observations are good, but they writers then feel as though they need to tie it up as some life lesson, with an optimistic conclusion with hope toward life. Contrary to popular belief, I wouldn’t what all the articles to cynical conclusions, like this one; why can’t they just leave the observation and opinion as an observation and opinion, as something to contemplate, rather than feel the need to turn it into something more than that? I’m guessing that as part of the newspaper tone, they kind of have to write like that? I don’t know.

Real quickly, I’ll go through some of the articles individually. The one of sexism tries to be fair, to both sides, to say that sexism applies to males and females, and this article is an inclusive call for equality, not some girl ranting about sexism. Maybe it’s just because I’m a guy, but this attempt to seem fair to both genders just seems to make it more clear that it’s a girl being mad about sexism toward her gender. Don’t feel like getting specific quotes right now, but if you read it, I just feel one of those “women’s rights” overtones. I don’t know, maybe that in itself is sexist.

Another interesting observation on that article: in trying to say that more blame should be put on guys for cheating (which seems kind of strange, as I’m pretty sure girls to get pissed at guys when they cheat, not at the other girl, as this article claims, see Woods, Tiger) the author says that despite hormones, she hasn’t met any guy “who is dumb enough to succumb to a one sided temptation.” Maybe she just hasn’t met any guys, because after reading this, I certainly don’t want to be around her. I’m not trying to defend guys cheating, but to say that we always have control of out hormones and desires is absurd. I don’t think I need to provide examples on this…

Other article I wanted to discuss individually was the one about parents bribing kids with stuff to get good grades. First off, I don’t think that this problem is quite as prevalent as she claims. Maybe I just don’t hang around enough rich people, but the opening parts make it seem as though this is everywhere. I’ve only once heard of something like this in detail, and it was a super-rich guy in my Spanish class. Skipping to the end, she somehow turns this into a call to be motivated to do well not for outside reasons. She brings up her mom being proud of her for getting an A because she “wanted to learn.” I don’t think I need to point out what is wrong with this image. Either this whole thing is made up, because no Asian parent would compliment her kid like that, and no Asian kid, or really, any kid, would try to get an A only to learn, or somehow this is true, her and her family are a one-in-a-million case, and she should not be telling others how to live when she is one of the very few fortunate enough to be capable of living so idealistically. I agree that doing well just to get a phone or something is stupid, but she takes it to the other extreme by suggesting doing something that could only happen in an ideal world. This is AHS, not some school on PBS Kids. Oh, and this article was by the same person as the previous one. Random Pow Wow writers don’t read this blog, I hope…

Music..blah blah.. good job…

An article about how to sleep. I don’t think most AHS students want or need help on how to sleep. Either they know it already, or it’s something they’re not going to to do. Like avoiding all nighters. But what was really wierd was the final tip to “set an alarm clock for bed.” I’m going to quote the whole thing:

“5. Set an alarm clock for bed

Sometimes you are so engrossed in your homework or game that you forget what time it is. So, set an alarm to remind yourself that it’s time to go to bed. You may be reluctant to stop what you are doing, but you’ll be glad of it in the morning.”

Yep, I’m always really glad during the school day when I don’t have my homework because I decided I was going to obey my bedtime instead of finishing it.

Article on backpacks-When you’re article takes up half a page and discusses things such as what material you should look for (“630-denier rip-stop nylon and Coudra fabric”) , it’s not really “simple rules.” Also, “for any type of student, nothing is more important than backpack safety!” If you want to be taken seriously, don’t use such dramatic hyperbole, and don’t end articles with exclamation points.

Article about not wasting time-I’m sure the author of this article never takes time away from doing homework to go on IM and talk to her boyfriend, who in turn obviously does not waste hours having stupid IM discussions with his nerdy friends…

“Talk nerdy to your date”-Tries to have nerdy humor, mostly is just lame and cringe-worthy

Tips for freshmen: lol, freshman. A lot of these tips are kinda stupid (and too sympathetic to freshmen), but I agree that they shouldn’t “be a hyper monkey at lunch.” Those annoying freshmen in our lunch area totally fit with the description in the article, and are as annoying as the article claims. For once, no exxageration here.

Article on Ms. Jeng: I guess she really does make people want to stalk her. You’re not alone, Hanning…

Oh look, ” ‘she adores teengers ‘ ” Maybe you and Ben’s fantasies are true. On first glance at her picture, she kinda looks like your ex-gf.

k, now that I’ve taken care of that…

“Ms. Angela Jeng fit right into the AHS staff with her charismatic personality and enthusiastic outlook on teaching”

Erm, she fit right in with those qualities? I’m pretty sure being like that at AHS makes her totally stick out…

And “if she were not a teacher, Ms. Jeng would have wanted to become a movie director or screenwriter” 

I don’t know her, so maybe she really does have a passion for teaching, but I think most people would be directors or screenwriters if they got the chance to. As they say, “Those who can’t do, teach.”  Teaching is usually a second option, with something like screenwriting being first…”Oh I’m so glad I got this job as a high school teacher, otherwise I would have had to resort to my backup plan, of going to Hollywood and making millions”


Quote from article on one of the girls on the golf team: “Coach Greep, who had nothing but nice things to say…”

Really, Coach Greep is going to say something bad about her, to the school newspaper…

Note that I am not implying that he would have had anything bad to say if it were not for the paper, because the girl in the article is a lot better golfer than I am…I just think there could be better compliments than an obvious statement like that.

Finally, article on girls volleyball. I’m going to go on a sports rant here, and I don’t think any of my audience is going to understand, but whatever. This is quite absurd, and one of the things that inspired me to write this stupid post.

The author (A guy, one of the very few) compares the girls volleyball team to the 1972 Miami Dolphins, and Showtime Lakers, and the 1992 Dream Team. If you know anything about sports, which none of you do, and I guess the reason why he can get away with this, because no one in AHS understands the absurdity of it, this is ridiculous. The Dolphins were the only team in the entire history of the Super Bowl Era NFL to go undefeated and win the championship. No team beat them that year, which is a huge accomplishment. The Patriots 2 years ago tried to match it, a team that was full of great players, and also cheated with illegal use of video cameras, and won every game before losing in the Super Bowl. This was one of the most talented teams of all time, and they couldn’t match the Dolphins’ record.

As a Laker fan, I am especially offended by the comparison to the Showtime Lakers. The 1980’s Lakers teams, led by Magic Johnson, not only won over other great teams such as the and the Detroit Pistons, but were exciting in doing so, hence the name Showtime. They were a great basketball dynasty that also created a new style of play, a fast-paced, high-scory team. They had 3 hall-of-famers, and many others that are considered greats.

But the most absurd comparison is that to the 1992 Dream Team. This was the first Olympics in which NBA players were allowed to participate. This meant that the best of the best in the United States would play together, dominating the world. The team featured Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird, three of the best basketball players ever. The rest of the team consisted of other Hall-of-Famers. Guys that were the superstar of their team, that would later be honored as one of the greats, became unimportant bench players. This team utterly dominated the competition, with their smallest margin of victory being 32 points in the Gold Medal game. That was their closest game. For those that don’t know basketball, 32 points is a lot. Every other game in the Olympics was even less close than that, with the greatest margin of victory being 68 points against Angola. Angola is not known for basketball, but winning by 68 against the best from another country is not easy. The team is still viewed as a symbol of the dominance of America, representative of what happens when all the best players are on the same team.

So, having said that, we’ve established that there is no way the volleyball team can match that. But still, they must be pretty good to draw these comparisons, right? There’s no way the writer is just using hyperbole to build up a school team…

But then he follows this by saying that the reason they are so good is that they have dropped down a division since last year, which “essentially means the team will face easier competition.” Yeah, that’s one way to become a good team. He then follows with a report from the first game, in which they won, but needed the full 3 sets to do so, only winning the last one 25-23, and discusses finding “a silver lining.” No team of the caliber of those the author alluded to would need to find a silver lining. I am not saying that the volleyball team sucks, I hope they do well, and I think they probably will. But to be compared to the Dolphins, Lakers, and Dream Team is an expectation that should not be put on any school team.

Ok, that’s it. I really have no idea why I wrote this. I could’ve spent the last 1 hour and 45 minutes sleeping. Maybe I’m addicted to sleep deprivation. After all this though, I want to say that despite all that criticism, and newspaper is still a good publication, one worth reading, if for no other reason than to see how other at the school think and write. It’s still entertaining, and much better than one might expect from a school. I just felt like criticizing it, because I always do stuff like that, and someone could probably write an equally caustic critique of this post.

3062 words and counting. I should go to sleep now…I’m gonna excuse this by saying that I’m practicing for APENG. It’s just like with taxes. You chalk up all your wasteful spending as business expenses.

Five Steps to Living a More Efficient Life

September 23rd, 2010
  1. Watch anime at 3X. It takes me 30 minutes to watch one episode of anime, on average. This equates to nearly seven hours per season of 12 to 14 episodes. You can imagine how much of my precious life I wasted back when I watched anime at the default framerate. If you press the plus key three times in VLC, your video will be played back at a speed of 3X. Coupled with skipping the intro and outro songs, and the preview, an episode that would have taken me 30 minutes to be watched can be watched in a mere five minutes! You can’t imagine how instrumental this technique is in my life. Even at 2X or 1.5X, much time is saved — 10 or 15 minutes per episode. The dialogue is still completely comprehensible (although a bit squeaky), and it will have no effect on your enjoyment of the anime (although it will mess up the director’s pacing), as you mentally modify your own sense of time to go along with the video’s speed. With this technique, you can watch twelve episodes in one hour, when it would have previously taken you six hours! This is amazing. Call in now to reserve your order and you’ll even receive FREE shipping and handling! Call fast, as our inventory is limited!
  2. Write scripts and macros to automate mundane computer tasks. This includes making Word templates for your MLA documents, and setting up AutoIt or AutoHotkey scripts to perform multiple keystrokes, mouse movements/clicks, or system calls with single keystrokes. It’s amazing how awesome scripts can get, but I always end up forgetting what key runs what macro that does what.
  3. Don’t update programs, unless you need some new feature. You wouldn’t be able to imagine how many times I’ve updated a program (or let a program autoupdate itself), only to end up with a nonfunctional program, corrupted data, or missing functionality. Then comes the string of 20 Google searches on how to revert to the old version, or how to fix the bug introduced in the new version. Then I end up spending 6 hours reverse-engineering the assembly and fixing the bug myself. Hey, loser. I fixed your code.
  4. Use a calendar. I try, but I’ve never followed mine.
  5. Don’t multitask while finishing high-priority tasks. If something extremely important must be finished in two hours, don’t do it while watching anime/TV. Turn off the computer, take out the earphones, go into another room, sit up straight, and do it.

This list is in order of descending importance. Yes, you read that right.

Two-sentence Anime Post

September 18th, 2010

Ok so I’ve been watching my Summer ’10 animes and I’ve dropped most of them by now, only following Fairy Tail, Seitokai Yakuindomo (you didn’t hear me say that), Reborn!, and NuraMago (I call it “mango” for short) and yeah today I just finished Kurokami, it was totally fantastic and Korean and all but the ending was just so sad omg why did they have to omg ughh (that was just one sentence I swear).

I haven’t really been watching much else (there’s Asura Cryin’ I’ve been watching erratically) and I do have a pile of unfinished anime but screw that oh yeah and there’s random crap (I’m embaressed to even admit that I watch these) like Kore ga Watashi no Goshujin-sama and Kanokon and all of these SUCK so bad I hate it ugh what has become of the Japanese animation industry (there, two sentences).


September 14th, 2010

As was usual in my sophomore year, I’m back into the habit of blogging instead of doing my homework. Well, today I have an interesting issue to bring to the table today. I’ll kick us off with an interesting hook: an article about a Vietnamese farmer who has not had a wink of sleep for 38 years (and counting!).

Previously, we have been intensely intrigued with the idea of polyphasic sleep: as opposed to “normal” monophasic sleep, where we sleep for an average of eight hours per day in one single run, polyphasic sleepers take short, 30-minute naps every three to four hours. The most commonly discussed form consists of six thirty-minute naps per day: three hours of sleep every day! Imagine having twenty-one hours of free time every day.

This is only possible because, as the polyphasic party would like to point out, sleep is divided into many phases. An average night of sleep contains about six cycles. Every night, we cycle through these phases of sleep six times, but the only useful one, according to the polyphases, is REM sleep, short for rapid eye movement sleep. This phases only occupies about 25% of every cycle, so only two hours of sleep every night contribute to your REM sleep. REM sleep is the sleep phase in which humans regenerate and recollect the events of the day, organizing memories and gathering them together into dreams. The basic premise of polyphasic sleep is to condition your body into immediately dropping into REM sleep within five minutes of closing your eyes, allowing three full hours of REM sleep: more than you get in eight hours of monophasic sleep!

This amazing sleep regime was supposedly carried out and advocated by famous 20th-century architect Buckminster Fuller. After two years of polyphasic life, he returned to monophasic sleep because his business associates preferred him awake in the daytime, and asleep at night.

An extremely detailed documented personal trial of polyphasic sleep has been done by Steve Pavlina in his blog. I would recommend all of my classmates to read the full series of posts. He reports great news with three hours of sleep a day, especially increased wakefulness and more brain time spent with alpha brain waves that encourage creativity. He documents how his increased concentration led to increased problem-solving ability, and describes many other enticing details.

An important and striking detail to note is that babies are naturally polyphasic sleepers when they are born. They nap for a few hours, and then wake up for a few hours, and repeat the cycle. Of course, this annoys the hell out of the parents who have to wake up at 1am and 4am every night, but this allows the baby to sleep efficiently and spend as much time in REM sleep as possible. As described by Steve, perhaps the truth is that humans are born to be polyphasic sleepers, and we only sleep one phase at night because that is what society does. We all conform. Of course, this is a pretty wild theory: first of all, why would many different, independent societies all converge and develop into monophasic sleep societies? This is generally true except for the fact that many Europeans take siestas, so they would actually be considered biphasic sleepers. Good evidence exists in examining other animals, however. Many mammals take short naps in addition to sleeping at night, especially herbivores. All great apes are in fact biphasic sleepers. Steve’s blog references an article with studies on animal sleep.

This approach to sleep is not without its opponents. Dr. Piotr Wozniak has written an excellent study of the feasibility of polyphasic sleep. He concludes that body rhythms of anything besides biphasic or monophasic cannot be maintained naturally, without an extremely high degree of sleep deprivation. Forcing yourself to keep awake might change your sleep schedule, but without sleep deprivation your body will naturally shift your naps into one single siesta, maintains Dr. Wozniak.

Wozniak also quickly refutes claims of famous historical geniuses all maintaining polyphasic sleep schedules to accomplish all the great things they have accomplished. This list includes Da Vinci, Edison, Tesla, Churchill, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and even Bruce Lee.

In summary, Dr. Wozniak claims that all self-claimed polyphasic sleepers are only pushing the idea on the internet because it’s a compelling topic and drives traffic and visitors to their blogs. He even publishes a later article (dated April 2010) responding to the intense criticism due to his first article. There is something interesting and relevant he said that I think can summarize the entire purpose of this post in one go:

Phase 11: Evening: this is not a good time for napping. In a healthy cycle, napping might be hard to achieve or impossible. However, even a minor degree of sleep deprivation will produce a nap that might trigger the control mechanisms responsible for the full-night sleep. Late naps are likely to be rich in NREM sleep and rob your night sleep of the vital SWS component. Those naps can last far longer than siesta naps. They can make you groggy. Worst of all, they can compound insomnia. Unfortunately, this is a type of a nap that a huge proportion of students take! Forced to wake up at indecently early times for school, kids and students struggle semi-conscious through school hours with negligible progress in learning. Learning in such a state only magnifies the pretty universal hatred of school. Phase 11 nap is then the only way to survive the day and get some actual learning done in the evening. The body clock shifts the subjective night to the morning hours. The positive side effect is that evenings can be filled with effective studying. The negative side effect is that the student finds it impossible to fall asleep before 3-4 am, and welcomes the new bright school day with an alarm clock that rings in the middle of the subjective night. This perpetuates the cycle of suffering and school hate. Nobody has ever estimated the global consequences of this phenomenon that includes an impact on adolescent attitudes that are notoriously fraught with problems. Neither has anyone come up with a practical solution (shifting school hours usually results in kids “adapting” to the new cycle by shifting their bed time as well). I am not able to recommend a solution here either. Skipping evening naps might be better for the quality of night sleep and for the stabilization of the circadian cycle in the earlier phase, however, that would effectively rob those students of their only time in which they can learn. Those evening naps are also the only meager substitute for free-running sleep that those young brains crave. The only time when the brain gets what it wants. If I was to answer: to nap or not to nap, I would probably have to admit that evening napping is the lesser evil in a majority of cases.

Protected: Post-China Junioritis

September 13th, 2010

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Metaphysical conceit

September 13th, 2010

I love normal-people english. » Read more: Metaphysical conceit


September 13th, 2010

RESERVED (Sept 13, 2010)

Edit (June 21, 2013): Haha, it’s kind of funny how I reserved this post.

Since I’m writing this on a post that’s dated three years ago, basically nobody is ever going to find this, right? These holy words will never pass the eyes of my millions of fans (right) who subscribe to my blog’s RSS feed.

Ah, back in high school (well.. still, right now), whenever I’d write a blog post I’d put a link on my friends’ Skype (or, going even farther back, MSN/Windows Live Messenger) group — and that was basically the only way anyone ever read my posts. Hehe.

MediaMonkey: iTunes Import Script with Unicode Support

September 5th, 2010

I have an Android phone, and nothing wants to sync with it. MediaMonkey isn’t perfect (it can’t transcode to aac… why?), but it kinda works. Now all that I needed was to get my iTunes playlists into MM. Easier said than done.

As I’m sure many others have experienced, it’s not possible. At least not without a helpful script provided by trixmoto of the MM forums called iPlaylistImporter. (Also helpful: iDate Added.)

Unfortunately, these scripts can’t read Unicode characters. A bummer for us Asians and J-Pop enthusiasts, as well as other types of Communists (Russians and their Cyrillic, etc). iTunes exports its XML files in UTF-8, a format that VBScript does not natively support (see people, this is why you don’t use Microsoft products). The original author of these scripts had an extremely difficult time trying to add Unicode support. I have devised a semi-solution to this problem, and a modified script.

» Read more: MediaMonkey: iTunes Import Script with Unicode Support

AT&T (still) sucks

September 4th, 2010

June 10, 2010

Los Angeles, California — I have confirmed this fact thoroughly and definitively. Allow me to start you off, reader, with a detailed explanation of the circumstances surrounding my internet connection. AT&T, partnering with Yahoo!, offers an ADSL service in my area of residence for thirty-or-forty-some dollars a month. The speed is abysmal. The advertised speed is 3 Mbps, which is already bad enough, but I only ever got 1.5 Mbps. The upload speed was less than 300 Kbps. Also, the modem liked to randomly disconnect and die on us every few days, and when the modem wasn’t dead, the phone-line DSL signal was to corrupted to connect. As a result, I often had no internet for days in a row, and even when I did, it wasn’t even up to half the advertised speed.

Then my dad switched to Time Warner Cable’s offering of 10Mbps RoadRunner cable internet service. Interestingly, at the same price as AT&T’s crappy ADSL, we got speedtest results of up to 30Mbps! Other RoadRunner customers reported speeds of up to 40Mbps… which is pretty astounding. This is 20 times the speed of our AT&T service… for the same price. It’s amazing, isn’t it.

On like the third day we got RoadRunner cable, the modem like completely crashed and we had no internet for like the entire day. It turns out that it was just some really infrequent service outage, and that many of my friends also went without internet on that day.

July 29, 2010

It turns out that the “infrequent” service outages are actually pretty frequent. We seem to get one every month, often lasting for a whole day. It’s pretty annoying, although if/when I get an Android phone I won’t care as much.

Also, the previous claim I made about speeds at up to 40 Mbps is partially invalid. Although burst speeds can reach up to 40 Mbps, after a second or two of letting you think you’re downloading at 40 Mbps, Roadrunner caps your speed and cuts it down to what you pay for, 10 Mbps. So basically, they trick speed-test websites into thinking your speed is fast, while in reality only providing a quarter of the speed. I’m pretty disappointed; it would be awesome downloading all the crap I download at 40 Mbps. And speaking of that, I download way too much crap.

Anyways, speaking of AT&T’s internet service… AT&T’s wireless service does horrendous things with its Android phones. As the iPhone is its biggest cash cow, AT&T completely locks down most of Android’s functions. They don’t let AT&T Android owners install third-party applications on their phones, and heavily censors the Android Marketplace. Basically, you can’t install any program on your phone that AT&T doesn’t want you to install.

AT&T bloats its phones with random useless crap like AT&T Navigator, among others. The service costs like $5 a month for GPS navigation service… but I wonder if AT&T has ever heard of Google Maps, which does the same thing, better and for free? Additionally, there is no way to remove the app from your phone (without rooting it).

September 4, 2010

Why did I waste my precious summer writing this post. Ugh rage.


September 2nd, 2010

Dear Ms. Jeng,

Before I go on with introducing myself and summarizing my life, I’d like to inform you that I am not that good at English in my own honest opinion. English and writing is the art of communication, and that’s something I’ve been bad at for much of my life. I actually don’t remember for how long I’ve felt socially awkward, but the all-too-familiar feeling often kicks in when I’m treated with kindness and welcome, like my first day in class today. Maybe it dates back to elementary school, when all my childish peers told my childish self how smart I was. People thought I was good at English in elementary school. They also thought that in middle school. My reputation of being smart, of unknown origin, also continued into middle school, when my classmates childishly selected me as ASB President.

At this point in time, I feel like I was the worst, most irresponsible president First Avenue Middle School has ever seen. Maybe it’s here when I started feeling shy and awkward. Before, I had always been the first to raise my hand in all my classes, ruffling the feathers of my perceived intelligence by knowing the answer to every question. I was always there to correct my teacher when she taught something wrong, and I was always the one who got sixes on all his Six Traits of Writing.

At first, I had looked forward enormously to high school. It felt like freedom: you could pick where you wanted to buy your lunch instead of waiting in a singular lunch line! You could join clubs and teams, and afterschool there would be meetings and activities! Freedom from parents, from piano class, and from violin lessons! Unfortunately, as the weeks went by, the fanciful dream of my freshman year faded away. Every night, there was homework; assignments upon unfinished assignments. I got a B in my Freshman English Honors class, and didn’t do too hot in my other classes, either. I got into Math Team, but could never answer any questions right in competitions. I lost the ASB election.

I still don’t think I’ve completely gotten over my disappointment and depression over high school. It’s the start of adulthood, of work and responsibility, and never again can one return to childhood. I realized my own flaws relatively late in the game. I’m lazy. I procrastinate. I still do. I still am. Other flaws I have mostly corrected. I was prideful, and maybe you could even say I looked down on everyone else. I now try to be as humble as I can.

That having been the four-paragraph summary of my school life (my SAT grammar mind is flagging that fierily), you can see that I’ve been a very spoiled child and have only recently started maturing. My self-confidence has dropped considerably, and along with it, my actual performance in class. I now feel that I am very incompetent in English class. I used to love reading books, especially in middle school, when I would read a 400-page novel every night. (If you’re wondering why, it’s because we had a program called Accelerated Reader, where you get points for reading a new book and taking an AR test on it. You got more points for harder books. I was the Accelerated Reader champion in our school; I had like 20 times as many points as the next person.) In high school, the books we were forced to read were prosaic, and the exercises, worksheets, and essays further lowered my newfound distaste for literature.

After my reading prowess plummeted, my writing naturally took a hit. My Freshman Honors teacher was extremely strict and critical concerning the essays we turned in weekly. Coming from a middle school English teacher who accepted late assignments months after the due date for full credit, and gave As to 99% of his students, this was a blow. I seriously thought my writing, well, sucked. And as time went on, my writing really did suck. It’s funny how these things work.

Lately, I think I’ve improved my writing in some areas (and unimproved in others) by keeping a (rarely-updated) blog. I developed a unique, oddball style of writing posts, and I think it has influenced my writing deeply. I’ve only recently noticed that I started writing essays like blog posts, using casual constructions and informal language, but with natural flow and sentence fluency. I’m not sure if it’s really noticeable in my writing, but it’s something interesting about my style of prose.

As you can see, I am lazy and dislike doing work. I’ve heard that you’re a teacher who likes giving a lot of work, but I still think we can get along (in fact, we are getting along) extremely well. I dropped AP English because I couldn’t get along with the teacher. (If you want a detailed explanation of this, ask me sometime.) My parents still ambitiously hope for me to take the AP English exam, however, so I would appreciate it if you could provide pointers and help when I need it. I’m still not really sure how I’m going to handle this – in fact, I’m still not sure how I’m going to handle junior year in the first place, but I think it’ll all work out somehow. I hope this insecure, shy, and lazy bum will not cause you any trouble this year in period four. :D

With hope and sincerity,

Benjamin Li