Posts Tagged ‘Wordy’

still trying to hold on

May 15th, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was great.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Somehow, Today Was a Bad Day

February 22nd, 2011

It just was, despite the fact that most of the things that happened today were good. On another note, today I was marvelously thoughtful. Meaning, I thought about a lot of random, irrelevant things today during school. Of course, as do the contents of a dream, the contents of those self-conversations escape me. But it was simply entertaining to hear myself think such interesting thinks (as Dr. Seuss would say). I think I thinked an especially brilliant think during Orchestra today, but I can’t remember it for the love of God.

I had an unproductive weekend. It was unproductive compared to, say, the weekend before, when I read 10 chapters of E&M in two days, basically a semester of material. And then (not implying that this was a direct consequence) I caught the bug, and was laid up in bed (read: watching anime) for three days. That was a pretty horrible experience.


Oh, I also have to relate something that kind of perturbed me on Thursday. The day before was Bay Math League, and I have nothing fun to say about that particular event. I was sick that day, and came after school specifically for the contest. Dealing with Hank was particularly strenuous. But again, during fourth period (that’s Jenglish) I got a interesting yellow call slip (I seem to be getting those very, very often these days). “Come to the assistant principal’s office,” innocuously beckoned the note. “Come now!”

So there I was, face to face with Mr. Finn in his office. It was a really nice office, being in the new administration building and all. And getting there was a simple trip down the stairs from the top floor. Of course, I was bundled in about five layers of insulation, being that I was still affected by the cold (every now and then pausing to sneeze or perform the unseemly chore of squeezing some mucus out of my nose), and my face probably wasn’t quite as handsome as I would quite like to imagine.

“What’s your name?”

He flips through a stack of carbonless-copy forms. The white-yellow-pink pattern flashes across his thumbs. His eye catches my name. He pulls it out of the stack, and pushes it firmly onto the desk.

“Do you realize you were absent on January 28th?”

Yes, I probably was. I happen to be absent a lot, after all. I probably was absent on that day. I mean, it’s not like I keep track of when I decide not to come.

“You’re supposed to turn in a note when you’re absent.”

I always do. In fact, I type them myself. I have a Word template for them. I can print one in less than two seconds.

“You didn’t turn in a note.”

Before I could cut in, he continued.

“You were truant, and have been assigned Saturday School.”

Again, I tried to open my mouth.

“Are you listening to me? Can you understand me?”

Completely surprised, I replied with the affirmative, after a short pause.

“What ELD are you in?”

This line cracked me up. It didn’t crack me up at the time, but now, thinking back, it cracks me up. I’ll always remember the assistant principal calling me a “D”-student fob who speaks no English, ditches class, and smokes in the bathroom. The perfect reply would have been, “No, I’m in AP English!”

Unfortunately I’m not. Damn. I regret dropping AP English now. Just so I could say that to him.

After hearing my reply in fine, perfect, melodious English with no accent, I’m sure he may have been stunned. But he continued shortly thereafter.

“You’ll have to sign here, and report at 8 am this Saturday. Bring the signed form with you, and report to the counseling desk in the administration building.”

Hold it. I’m not truant. I’m never truant. I just get sick a lot, and happen to have a lot of orthodontic appointments scheduled during school hours. It’s true, I swear.

“Bring work to do for four hours.”

Oh. That’s not so bad then. I thought Saturday School would involve some combination of torture, writing “I will never ditch school again.” on the board continuously, and maybe some good ol’ coloring worksheets a la Dr. Pal thrown in for good measure. If we get to bring our own work to do, this Saturday School thing could work out to my benefit: I’d get work done. After all, if I didn’t have Saturday School, I’d either oversleep until 2pm or watch anime all day. Or both. Likely both.

So, walking back up the stairs into Jenglish, I weighed my options. I’m sure there must have been some sort of error, because I’m very punctual with my absence notes, and there’s no way I would be truant. Actually, I think my thoughts were bordering more on “Life Sucks (TM)” and such, but we’ll glorify my character for this moment. Oh, but that’s right. Don’t they give you a readmit slip when you turn in an absence note? I always keep those. I have a stack of them that’s thicker than my thumb.

Unzippering my front pocket and unpaperclipping the four paperclips holding the stack together, I thumb through and find it. January 28th. Ben Li. Ill. See?

Do I bring the readmit down and demand my freedom, justice, and liberty? Or do I sit there and take on this punishment, and get some real work done while I’m at it? It was a hard decision, I’m sure. I bolted back down the stairs.

It felt kind of awkward passing by the same people again. Other people were getting call slips to come in for their Saturday School notices too, and watching them unknowingly ask directions to the assistant principal’s office from the same people I asked was unwitting. They all knew what the children were being sent to Mr. Finn for, but when the girl in front of me asked what she had been called for, I felt a knowing smirk flash across the desk attendant’s face before she gave an ambiguous, innocent reply.

This same attendant was very helpful though. I showed her my readmit, and she directed me to Attendance. The attendance lady totally should have given me an “oh, it’s YOU again” glare, but she didn’t, and never does. I respect her for that, and her general kindness. I should learn her name. She probably knows mine.

The attendance office actually keeps every absence note in a manila folder. I’d imagine that would be a lot of notes in a lot of folders. It took a while, but she found my note for the 28th, and cleared my truancy. All set! See, Ben, aren’t you glad you stood up for yourself instead of quietly attending the punishment camp for delinquents and other assorted losers?

To conclude, guess what I did on Saturday? That’s right, I slept until 2pm and watched anime the rest of the day.


So, that was all last Thursday. That’s like, a week ago. Why am I blogging about things a week after they happen? That’s not right. I need to post more. So what was this post intended to be about?

Right. So today, a lot of good things happened to me, yet for some reason I was unhappy during school today. Well, I’m not allowed to be unhappy in period 6 as per Galloway’s class rules or something, so make that just one through five.

I got depressed by a lot of random, not-really-pertinent things. People always tell me I’m too thin-skinned. Onion-skinned. I get offended and hurt very easily, they say. Example: Mr. Lee. If anyone has any bright ideas on how to cure this flaw of mine, please do speak up.

So tomorrow I’m commuting to San Marino to take the AMC B contest at (wtf r u srs) 6 in the morning (crazy San Marino people… but I’m grateful for the testing spot!). I asked Ms. King in what was probably a very rude and incoherent manner to “not mark me absent tomorrow” because “I’m taking the AMC B tomorrow”. It probably sounded very stupid and offensive. So for some reason I was really offended by her saying “no”. Maybe it’s just that I’m too used to teachers all liking me that I get queasy when a teacher is annoyed at me. Such a spoiled child am I.

In Orchestra (besides thinking lots of interesting thinks), I hadn’t memorized any of the songs, so that was rather depressing too. Jenglish is always rather morbid. Having dropped from AP is awkward at best, and my clumsiness in social interactions probably exacerbated that awkwardness to a large extent. It was extra-awkward because the other day I was making up a test in Jeng at lunch, and I always seem to stutter and annoy people.

In Chem, we did a lab (spectrophotometry… it sounds cool enough). I got negative values for absorbance (optical density, if you prefer), and I never decided to ask Mrs. Young. After I took a look at it, negative absorbance is totally impossible, and now I don’t know how I’m going to do my lab. I’ll ask to copy Hank’s data I guess. And in history, we watched atomic bomb explosions. Yeah, seriously. It was fun. We had to use Google Video though. Youtube is blocked.

The bad things didn’t just end with school. It turns out that CSF applications were due on Friday. But the CSF forms weren’t out until like the last day… I checked the ASB website practically daily for them. That wasn’t fair. I’d complain more, but I just realized that I saved five dollars by not turning it in.

Also, the semifinalist results came out today. My mom (!) called me afterschool to tell me about them. So three people from Arcadia got into semifinals (out of like 300 nationwide, that’s pretty impressive!), and I decided to send out an email to the people who got in. The third person was “Yi Li”, and I thought that was this was one girl in Physics Team whose last name is Li, so I included her in my “Congratulations!” email. It turns out that “Yi Li” was Vincent’s Chinese name. I think I must have hurt her feelings, I mean, she seems to have tried really hard for this competition, and here I am emailing her about her NOT making it, and even saying “congratulations” as if I were mocking her. See, this is why I’m single (and not looking for a partner).


Of course, good crap happens, but nobody cares about good crap happening. You never see newspapers headlining good crap. Damn, this last section was stupid. Why didn’t I end it with my Saturday School story?

Maybe I’m too self-aware. Perhaps if I stopped caring about what other people think about me, people will think better of me. Or maybe it really doesn’t matter, and I really don’t need to care about what other people think of me. Ms. King, Ms. Young, that girl in Physics Team… maybe I shouldn’t care about what opinions they may form of me. That’s what they tell you. Be original. Be yourself. But I do need to care. I need to take care that Ms. King has a good opinion of me during officer elections, and when she writes my letter of rec. I need to care that my lab group is depending on me. I need to care about what girls think of me as a prospective partner. Well, I’m not so sure on that last one. I could care less. It’s my kind of lifestyle, or prospective lifestyle. I wouldn’t like some kind of less-interesting-than-me lady watching over my bank account, taking what she wants, and arguing with me every night. I think I’d be the kind of person who would be a professor at some university and study Superstring Theory for the rest of my life. Alone. Or maybe this particular view of myself has been forced upon me by my peers. Perhaps it’s just other peoples’ impressions of me rubbing off on me. So I do need to care what other people think about me, because it influences what I think about myself? That’s queer. That’s just… twisted.

Aaand my tangental stream-of-consciousness rant ends there. The first half of this post is far more advanced than the latter half. I really should have split this into multiple posts.


To conclude, I really like narrative storytelling. In fact, when I was in elementary school, my prospective occupation was probably “creative author” or “novelist”. It’s an interesting way to author a blog post. I haven’t reread my Saturday School account yet, but I felt that dialogue, description, and my internal commentary added flair to my writing.

Thoughts on any of the issues, events, topics discussed in this post? Narrative writing, what-do-I-care-what-others-think-of-me, my thin skinned and easily-moved-to-tears personality, my brief anecdote, or anything else? Remember, kids, always keep your readmits.

This is another one of those “sorry for not posting in forever, let me summarize my fantastic life” posts.

January 27th, 2011

Here’s the compulsory apology. Sorry for not posting in forever; let me fill you in on what’s been up.

So my last real post was back on the midpoint of winter break. The week after that I told myself, “Okay, gotta write a post summarizing my winter break.” Never happened. Then a week later “Ugh I should post about my awesome week.” Never happened either. “Crap this week sucked I need to pour my grief out onto my blog.” Nope.

So here’s Ben on the Thursday of finals week, reporting live. Let’s jump back three weeks. Latter half of winter break. One of my favorite things to do was to sit on the dinner table next to the window and read my chemistry book. My only gripe was that there wasn’t wifi there (that place is the southwesternmost part of my house). So I took one of my family’s old routers and put it in my parents room (right above the dining room). Set up some weird Windows tunnel thing that didn’t work 90% of the time. Yeah, so basically it was a waste of time. But it would’ve been cool. Well, it kind of works. When the computer is on (cuz basically the computer connects to my room’s router and shares it with the router through the ethernet port). But only sometimes. Sometimes. Yeah.

Oh, another high point of my break was watching The Count of Monte Cristo. I think I’ve talked about that before, however, so I’ll leave it at that.

Next week, the week after finals, for some reason every day that week I woke before 6; usually at 4:30 or 5am. That’s amazing, considering how I usually woke up at 7:50am, ten minutes before the late bell for first period, with a 15-minute drive and dash through campus. I think it had something to do with my setting the alarm to play classical music on Pandora at 4:30am, but I haven’t been able to reproduce it. Seriously, after that last Friday, I have never been able to wake before 7am again, up to the moment. (In fact I’m writing this at 3am…)

Another event in that first week after break was my persuasive essay speech in Jeng. I think I thought I was good at speech-making (I mean. I did win the SC presidency in middle school. Right?). Well, I didn’t do too bad. I didn’t prepare much, but I tried to put my very best into delivering the speech (which is on a VERY RELEVANT TOPIC and I have yet to post the essay that goes with it). I hope Ms. Jeng was able to fully receive my feelings towards the topic.

Other stuff also happened that week, like me doing math contests and wasting time. The next week I tried (LOL “tried”) to focus on something very important to me. My focus didn’t completely narrow until the following week though. I think this was dead week. Anyways, I think I got more work done in class (hiding it from the teacher) than I ever did at home. Too many distractions. Do you know how annoying Skype is when you’re trying to work? No wonder our lives suck… j/k.

Then it’s finals week. That week was so unproductive, counterintuitively. However, I enjoyed going out to lunch on Thursday and Friday with my dad. On Thursday we went to the Korean BBQ restaurant next to the CVS on Baldwin and Naomi, and on Friday we went to a Thai restaurant that was extremely cheap and extremely good. Oh yeah, I was going to talk about my Monday of perfection.

So the Monday of finals week was like the perfectest day ever. (I like how spellcheck didn’t catch “perfectest”. Spellcheck also caught the world “spellcheck” as wrong, although I guess technically it’s “spell check”.) Anyways, everything that day went splendid. Just wanted to throw that out there. (This paragraph is so short because, due to my short term memory loss, I remember no particular details of why that Monday was so fantastic, except that it just was.)

Oh, on the Friday of that week I did something interesting, I applied for an internship in less than one hour. Or maybe one and a half, if you were timing. Seriously… an entire internship in one hour! Essays and all! My mom and I are amazing, and I felt so good about that, even though that day was the deadline for the application, and the post office wouldn’t accept the package at 4:30, so the postmark was after the deadline. But I still felt good about it. It felt good.

The last Saturday and Sunday were spent working on USAMTS problems (I wasn’t able to completely finish #6 due to one last annoying step in the proof that I could just never figure out) and studying physics for the F=ma competition to select the members of the US International Physics Olympiad Team. So yeah, I ditched my friends and studied. Like a loser. Haha, but no regrets.

Competition was on Monday. I know I got at least one question wrong (source: Alfred). It was quite a simple question too… I’m a fool. After the competition, I did absolutely no work at all. None. Nada. Nil. I messed around and watched anime (A LOT OF ANIME) and did cool stuff like that in celebration of my hard work (cough).

I had an ortho appointment yesterday (Tuesday). It hurt a lot, but hopefully my braces will be off within a half year. That’s, what, four years of braces? *frown*

Oh, and today’s Math Team meeting was interesting. Hank and I (and Calvin and a bunch of freshmen) did Research, and I explained a problem with Calvin. Ate three bags of chips (very satisfying). Then we spent a long time discussing the next meet at Arcadia.

And I went home and refrained from doing work, and Mr. Zhang came by and gifted me a ticket ($40 worth!) to the Chinese Parents Whatever Club and their annual Spring Festival Whatever Dinner. I just KNOW what’s going to happen there… swarms of Asian moms are going to mob me, and I will be assailed by countless questions on how they can torture their kids more effectively. I’ll just hide in the bathroom and play with my phone, I guess. Hopefully the food is good. Maybe I’ll flash a ROM or two in the stall, just for kicks. Hopefully AT&T has signal in the community center. Think they have WiFi?

[end at 3:41am.]

Hey, loser, I fixed your code.

June 6th, 2010

New tagline for my website. Just kidding.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to the cut.

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

[200th Post] – modus operandi

December 28th, 2009

Today is Monday, December 28th, 2009.

Hm, that’s odd. This is supposed to be the best post of the year, and here I am starting it with such an ordinary statement.

My birthday came and went, this past week. So did Christmas. I was planning on writing something meaningful (for once) on one of those days, along with commemorating my 200th post. Nothing really happened. Call that my “summary of winter break”, if you will. Nothing happened.

Seeing as there is nothing to say about my winter break, perhaps it would be more entertaining to you if I spoke about something weird and philosophical. The problem is, I’m in a good mood right now, and I don’t want to think about life and the pursuit of happiness when I’m in a good mood. It’s one of those  things when you’re already satisfied, you don’t need to worry about anything, but you can only reach satisfaction when you don’t have anything to worry about. So here I am in a rare moment of self-satisfaction, trying to give myself something to be unsatisfied about, so I can blog about it.

Call it pitiful if you will.

I actually do enjoy writing. Ever since preschool, I’ve always liked fantasy and science-fiction stories, and I often tried to write my own in elementary school. It’s disappointing how much high school and college counter-intuitively discourages creative writing, instead making us focus on writing about the works of others and discussing, arguing about meaningless, ambiguous topics.

I find that very few people are happy with themselves at this point in life: at 15, 16 years old. I wouldn’t go as far as to say there were none — there are always those Down syndrome people, after all. It’s interesting to witness how humans try to cope with this. This includes witnessing my own teenage, shounen struggles. Life is exciting. Life should be exciting. Perhaps you would think that the average teenager’s life is not very exciting, but the admirable protagonist who has to save the world thinks the other way, wants peace and quiet and AP Biology. So there we are, life is exciting. Exciting enough. If you’re not satisfied with that, go do drugs, drink and derive, move to Shanghai and assassinate people. Come back in a year or two and tell me how it was.

One coping mechanism seems to involve making yourself feel better about yourself by convincing yourself that others are vastly inferior. I guess this makes happiness one of those “relative” things — your happiness is how much happier you are than everyone around you. I don’t know why I’m discussing this, it has no significance at all to my life.

Maybe I should type about something cheerful and bright. It’s kind of hard when you’re surrounded by pessimists; maybe I should IM less. Maybe I should wake up at 5 am every day and jog three laps around the block. Maybe I should do 100 push-ups and sit-ups every day, and show up at school every morning with an ear-to-ear smile on my face. Wait, that would scare the wits out of all of my classmates. The only students who smile in Arcadia are the aforementioned Down syndrome kids. Must be nice being them. I envy them.

Wait, I was supposed to be self-satisfied today.

See, blogging is an interesting alternative medicine. You get to release your feelings, except you don’t, because you know that people are going to read your blog, and in the end, you still don’t remove that filter from your thoughts. Perhaps I should use the old-fashioned alternative, an actual physical diary.

It’s fun writing topic-less blog posts, though. Reading through what I’ve written so far, I started off talking about my birthday and Christmas, transitioned into how I didn’t have anything to talk about, and then I started talking about how when I’m self-satisfied I don’t have anything to talk about. And then I started making myself non-self-satisfied by talking about something. So I randomly started talking about writing, and suddenly swerved into talking about the teenage mentality. When I’m 80 and dig up my old wordpress files, I am so going to enjoy reading this.

It must be painful, living. We, we humans live life always imagining something better. No, I’m not talking about an afterlife. What I meant was, we always want to live somebody else’s life. Wouldn’t you like to have superpowers? Live in space? Invent something revolutionary, win the Nobel Prize. Be recognized by everyone, or have a partner in love. There is no way you can have everything in life, but what I’m saying is, there isn’t one person out there who is happy with him/herself as he/she is, I think. Again, barring the Down syndrome people.

So is my purported “self-satisfaction” at the beginning this passage a lie? Or am I simply lying to myself? Is my current happiness simply a façade, a curtain draped over the endless vats of depression, hopelessness, and artlessness?

My answer (the “thesis” of this whole blog post, if you will) is: life lies not in finding happiness and satisfaction. The marrow of it stems from the search for happiness. It’s not the end result that matters — tragic death, eternal romance, what-have-you — the art is in the procedure you endure to accomplish your goal. The journey yields greater than the fortune.

Something like that. ■

Shugo Chara!! Doki

November 4th, 2009
Warning: High-powered Class IV laser device anime rant.

Watching the first episode of Shugo Chara!! Doki (2nd season; starts on episode 52) brought back so many memories. I miss the original Guardian cast sooooo baad x__x

This has nothing to do with the text.

This has nothing to do with the text.

But thinking about the original Guardians makes me re-remember the changes each character has gone through, all the hard times they have experienced. Perhaps the changes that the characters go through in Shugo Chara (which isn’t found in something like Hayate no Gotoku!) is what’s really touching about this anime.

Each character learns and develops in their own way. Even though they are mere elementary school kids, 5th and 6th graders, they have their own troubles to face, and their own dreams to chase. What is your dream? What kind of person do you want to become?

With these touching lines, Shugo Chara! was a wonderful, cute, and hilarious anime. It was funny in all the right places, yet it was able to stir up my inner emotions and worries, relating to the difficult situations that the characters face.

As this post indicates, I have just finished the first season of Shugo Chara!. Maybe, first, I should explain exactly what Shugo Chara! is about. Many of you might not care to hear, but that’s probably perhaps due to my meager summary not being able to convey the same feelings a 51-episode anime is able to. Now, where should I start?

Everybody at Seiyo Elementary thinks that stylish and super-cool Hinamori Amu has it all. But nobody knows the real Amu: a shy girl who wishes she had the courage to truly be herself. Changing Amu’s life is going to take more than wishes and dreams — it’s going to take a little magic! One morning, Amu finds a surprise in her bed: three strange little eggs. Each egg contains a Shugo Chara (roughly Guardian Character), an angel-like being who can give her the power to be someone new. With the help of her Shugo Chara, Amu is about to discover that her true self is even more amazing than she ever dreamed.

(I tried writing my own summary, but it didn’t turn out as good as Hatsuyuki’s so I just copied theirs. Tehe.)



Isn’t it nice? With a simple shout of “Chara change!”, Hinamori Amu instantly becomes a perfect version of her naritai jibun (なりたい自分), or would-be self.

I shall be cynical like I normally am, and call the Shugo Chara “plot devices”. Because, truly, that’s what they are. Okay, fine, they also double as characters and gag humor, but for the purposes of this section, I shall consider them “plot devices”.

Doesn’t everyone wish they could grow up to become somebody who does something they love? I know, I’m sure that most of my circle of friends wish they had a different personality, that they could achieve something different, better, more worthwhile? Don’t you wish you could become somebody more athletic? More artistic? Better at math? More handsome, more beautiful?

Writing about something so abstract and emotional is harder than actually working on my Mists of Avalon essay, but I enjoyed Shugo Chara! enough to give it this kind of treatment. Interestingly, the thesis of this section is contradicting with my “The grass on the other side of the hill is always greener.” emotional rant/post.

As for the actual overall plot, there’s an dark, supposedly evil organization, suitably named “Easter”. This is one of the best names for an evil organization ever. I mean, Hypnos (Digimon Tamers) was a great name, but “Easter” totally fits with the theme of eggs, the eggs representing the dreams and aspirations residing in childrens’ hearts.

~Hinamori Amu~

This has nothing to do with the text, either.

Easter Corporation is collecting these “eggs” for their own purposes, of discovering Blatant Plot Device #1, also known in the series as “the Embryo”, which I find an idiotic name. To do this, they are destroying the dreams of the children, one by one extracting and placing a big “X” on the eggs that don’t turn out to be the Plot Device.

Ta-da~! Enter Hinamori Amu! The popular student at Seiyo Gakuen who posesses three Plot Dev— I’m sorry, Shugo Charas, and is able to heal the hearts (eggs) of the children who have lost hope in their dreams (and thus, had “X”s placed on their eggs).

“There’s no point in healing those childrens’ eggs. Either way, they’ll all end up breaking their eggs themselves later on.” — Tsukiyomi Ikuto

Surprisingly true, most young elementary students have wild, exciting dreams about what they want to be, what they want to do when they grow up. Yet, fast forward to Arcadia High School. What dreams? What aspirations? Do we see any happiness being brought to us? Where are the dreams? Where is the happiness that we seek?

Have we all, then, already long since broken our own eggs?


The main antagonist in the first half (up to episode 26ish) is Nikaidou-sensei, who transferred into Seiyo as a teacher. Laughed at, ridiculed, Nikaidou had lost hope in his dreams long ago, choosing instead to follow more realistic ideals.

Is this the right thing to do?

Failure. Ridicule. Hate. Sorrow. Loss.

Such discouraging words, such discouraging things that these words represent. They exist in this world.

I think that we need to cross the boundaries of disapproval and reach for the heavens, our own clouds, our own stars in the sky, representing the hopes of billions of children across the globe. I think this is what society needs to become.


I’m sorry, I get sleepy this late at night. Where was I again? Oh yes. Amu does her heroine thing, and Nikaidou revives his dreams and quits Easter Corporation. He returns to Seiyo and resumes his teaching, but now, he teaches wholeheartedly and with love and happiness.

Cheesy ending. More than a few of us Arcadians are going to be like him when we grow up, except there won’t be anyone to save us. Nope. There won’t be a pink-haired 5th grader in a frilly dress with magical powers there to save us from our failures. I’m sorry; it’s how reality works.

(Mikuru Beam!!)

(Mikuru Beam!!)


Buono! does most (or all, I think, actually?) of the intro and outro songs for the first 51 episodes of Shugo Chara!. I do love their songs, they’re so upbeat and Shugo Chara!-y.

I didn’t like the intro (or the outro, really) at first, but it’s so shoujo and girly and upbeat and… shall we say, cool and spicy, it’s totally grown on me, and I love it.

As for instrumental background music, it’s okay; average.

The real reason why I love the music in this anime — Nana Mizuki of course. She plays Hoshino Utau, who’s a singer in the anime itself, and the songs Nana sings for Utau to sing… they’re just EPIC. Of course, there are no Nana songs that aren’t epic, but… these were Nana’s epicness + Utau’s um… tsundere/dark character, so it was especially awesome.


I was planning on writing a HUGE, EPIC LONG rant here. The character development in Shugo Chara! is a definite point of interest, because the situations presented in each episode pertain to the troubles and worries of modern children and teenagers. The main theme, heck, is about how your shouldn’t lose sight of your dreams — something I think all of us have already lost sight of long ago. Of course, I already went over this in the Plot section…

Anyways, this section is supposed to be about the characters in the first season of Shugo Chara!, so that’s what I shall provide.

Hinamori Amu – 5th grader, later 6th grader, who goes to Seiyo Gakuen. On the outside, her personality is described by her classmates as “cool and spicy”. When she first transferred to Seiyo, she was super-shy — but her classmates mistook this as being cold and cool. She didn’t know the rules and dress code of the school, so she wore her clothing differently — of course, her classmates mistook this as her being rebellious; and so on. This is how she earned her reputation, and since everyone things this is what her character is really like now, she has a hard time when she wants to express her true feelings and reactions.

Amu - wahh!

One day, she wishes upon… what, the stars, or something… that she could become closer to her true self (or something like that). This is how her Shugo Chara (Guardian Characters, a.k.a. cliche/archetypal chibi+loli+uberkawaii mascot characters to help rake in the yen) are born. The Seiyo Guardians (basically, the five-member “Student Council” of the elementary school — each seat is named after a playing card: King’s Chair, Queen’s Chair, Jack’s Chair, Ace’s Chair, and Joker) invite her to join their ranks, and blah blah, stuff happens, and several lame magical girl transformations and purified badguys later…

It may be one of those fobby sun visors, but it's not fobby at all. (Maybe because it's transparent and therefore serves no purpose at all?)

It may be one of those fobby sun visors, but it's not fobby at all. (Maybe because it's transparent and therefore serves no purpose at all?)

Amu is still faced with her old worries; she’s still unsure on what person she would like to become. Would she like to become more like Amulet Heart, an upbeat, outgoing, cheerful personality? We’ve also got to factor in the romance in the story — mostly the love triangle between Tsukiyomi Ikuto and whats-his-last-name Tadase. Of course, Amu’s harem of guys is like, bigger than Tomoya’s; >_<

Anyways, after Nikaidou(-sensei) is defeated realizes his wrongs and becomes a good guy character, the fifth-grade school year ends. Our cast of Amu, Kukai, Hotori, Nadeshiko, and Yaya disband. This was the symbolic “end” and the coming of a “new beginning” — spring. For Amu, it was a tough transition: she lost her best friend and her “older brother” character, the two people she knew she could always rely on.

Can I bring her home?

Can I bring her home?

The new Guardians consisted of Tadase, Yaya, Amu, along with two new characters: Mashiro and um… I forgot his name. Let’s just call him iin’chou for now. ^^

At first, I didn’t like Mashiro and Iin’chou-san either, in fact I grew to hate them because they were so mean towards Amu. However, it turns out that both of them had certain mountains to cross themselves. Once their characters became more developed, I warmed up to them just like Amu did.

Either way, since this was supposed to be emotional, the emotional impact of a new environment, and the loss of friends is something that happens to everyone. A life without change is a life doomed, because change is inevitable. This is an absolute truth. If you want to argue this, post a comment.

At the start of the new semester and new school year, she immediately felt depressed. Mashiro-san just transferred in, and she became the most popular girl in the school, taking Amu’s place. The new Guardians take their places, and they immediately (whether purposely or not) start to alienate Amu.

Also, don’t forget Utau, the new enemy. With so much on her mind, how does Amu manage to find time to fight badguys and save the world?

I know this is Tadase's section, I still feel like sticking Amu images in.

I know this is Tadase's section, I still feel like sticking Amu images in.

Hotori Tadase – He seems to know Ikuto somehow. I don’t know. Anyways, we’re not here to talk about how handsome he is.

Tadase-kun is Amu’s initial love interest. His “dream” is to, um… take over the world.

However… he is a shy, all A+ kind of guy. He doesn’t have the courage to confess to Amu until… like much much later. He is a master of words and you could say, master of manipulation. Yet, he Peach-Pit still casts him as a “shy” character. In my opinion, this kind of character doesn’t fit together at all.

You can’t have “shy” and “King’s Chair” (basically Student Council President) both in the same sentence. It just doesn’t work. I mean, I admit Hinagiku is actually shy inside, but Hotori-kun is the complete opposite. He is shy on the outside, and his inner character is “AHAHAHA LOYAL MINIONS! BOW TO YOUR KING!”

… yeah.

Maybe this whole post is actually one effing long excuse to post a bunch of Amu pictures. >.<

Maybe this whole post is actually one effing long excuse to post a bunch of Amu pictures. >.<

Yaya + Kukai – They’re our proud supporting characters. I don’t get… how your “dream in life” can be “I want to be a baby all my life.” It just… doesn’t make sense. Yaya is cute, though, so… I’ll let her get away with it.

Kukai is effing cool. I wanna be like him ;_;

Nadeshiko / NagihikoHayate-kun, anyone? I kind of understand… wait, nevermind, I can’t understand his situation at all. I mean… you’re a guy… but your family forces you to dress up and act like a girl… and the girl you like is your best friend… and she doesn’t know you’re a guy… and… yeah. Fun, though. Can’t wait to see where Peach-pit goes with this character.

Ikuto – Boring character? Totally stereotypical character. Probably added just to please the fangirls. And it worked. *insert fangirl raving here*


That’s all I really need to say.

If you noticed, the character summaries were getting shorter and shorter... >.<

If you noticed, the character summaries were getting shorter and shorter... >.<

Ahaha, I didn’t quite finish writing this up right after I finished Shugo Chara!, so I’m finishing it in the middle of Doki, haha. Back to the emotional heart-wrenching speech mode.

I am deeply touched by Shugo Chara!‘s thematic focus on chasing your dreams, and becoming the person you really want to become.

Soccer Tryouts

October 16th, 2009

This post has been permanently archived, as an important leaf in the tree of my life. Please enjoy this wacky post to your heart’s content.

Currently bingeing on banana-flavored milk while reflecting on my day. As usual, I like to remember how my day goes, so I can look back on my Sophomore life in my Junior year and be envious of myself.

Let’s rename my class schedule. The names don’t really fit.

  1. Sophomore English H / Villalobos = Watching Movies and Doing Math Homework
  2. PE / O’Brian = Euphemism for “Torture”
  3. Orchestra 3 / Forbes&England = Letting the World Hear How Much I Suck
  4. Pre-Calculus / Daniel = Comedy Show (feat. Hank Lin)
  5. Mandarin 4 / Hung = Naptime
  6. AP Physics / Zhang = More Naptime

Lol, I got 52/52 on the math test. That’s a failure, cuz I shoulda gotten 53/52. In AP Physics everybody thinks I’m like the class genius (I’m not… really; it’s not like I ever study for that class or anything), and Mr. Zhang ignores me when I nap in class. Napping in 6th period is really pleasant. It’s the perfect time of day for an afternoon nap. His room is warm, his chair is comfortable, and the atmosphere is pleasant.

Now that I think about it, usually I end up napping through the entire afternoon, Mandarin and Physics. Hahaha.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Now to write about the tryouts for Arcadia High School’s soccer team. Our soccer team isn’t particularly good. We’re not famous, we’re not league champions, and we might even be one of our region’s worst soccer teams. Perhaps I was misguided and slightly overconfident in trying out for this team.

First, I’ll start out with… why soccer?

I have always loved playing soccer. Ever since I was little, my parents let me play on the AYSO. Every weekend we would head over to Live Oak Park for a lively game of soccer. Two weekdays were designated as soccer practice days, and those lively hours are deeply etched into my heart.

However, I must make you aware: I was the worst player on the team. Always. In my, what, six plus years of AYSO soccer, I was never much of a player. I never really made any goals; only goals that people let me make. I never really contributed much to the team.

By the way, for some reason, even though I was always the worst player dragging down the team, all the teams I was in ended up doing really well. In one year, we were even League Champions (I know!).

So, there I was. The little freshman in the corner, watching all his upperclassman walk by. Nobody notices him. Nobody greets him. Of course not.

Sports teams. I always thought athletic team members were really cool. On their game days, they would walk around school, attend classes in their uniforms. Everybody would greet him with a friendly “hey” or an amiable punch on the shoulder. The teacher would smile and ask about how his team was doing, and he would engage in a lively conversation with everybody around him.

Perhaps it was that ability. That ability might have been… what I was, what I am really seeking. That ability… to be able to start a conversation with anyone. To be able to talk to strangers, do favors for them, and receive favors from them in return. To help others; to be sociable; show them respect yet treat them as if you had known them for your whole life.

Either way, I can talk about my inner uncertainties, my deepest anxieties, in detail later. This post was about soccer. I almost forgot.


I signed up for soccer team tryouts in my freshman year. Went to the meeting. However, I chickened out… well not entirely, I had something else to do on that Friday, so I didn’t attend the tryouts, and I got my transportation money refunded.

Sophomore year. Staring at the Athletics form. Soccer team. Yes? No?

“Hurry up and decide,” I thought to myself. “It doesn’t really matter, anyways. If you don’t want to, you can always quit and get a refund like last year.”

But something burned inside of me; that desire of which I have spoken of (see above). I wanted to be on the soccer team. I wanted to dress in that jersey. I wanted to be the one everybody went up to, the one everyone admired. I’m probably being somewhat selfish, somewhat egotistical; however, I’d really like to remember what my feelings were on October 16, 2009. Isn’t that what all my posts for?

Anyways, onto what happened today. Wow… I haven’t even started talking about today’s tryouts, and it’s already like a three-page essay. I pwn.


The entire day, I was wavering over this issue. I brought my cleats with me. I brought my shorts, I brought my short-sleeved comfortable shirt. I brought my determination. Off on a tangent, I grew a whole cluster of cold sores yesterday, and it really pissed me off the entire day. It made me look ugly, too.

Period 6. AP Physics. End of a long day. End of a long week. Friday. Last day. Weekends. Freedom. Anime.

However, it was not to be. My happiness was still a couple continents away.

I met up with a bunch of freshmen who were trying out for the team. It was a hot day. Too hot. Unbearably hot; yet I bore the heat. Thirsty? Tired? The soccer team of Arcadia High School casts aside those dejected feelings. Once practice starts, they drop their gear. They drop their homework, their textbooks. They forget it all, they head out, and do you know what they do? They play soccer.

Maybe that is the one thing in my life I will never be able to do. I was born to genius mother, genius father. Study, work hard, and go to the best college. Learn, innovate, improve society. Earn money. Change the world. Find happiness somehow in that jumble of responsiblities.

Play soccer? What a joke. Of course I can play soccer. I can play perfectly well. I might not be able to face off against a Hispanic jock kid, but I can hold my own against the average white kid. I’ve been playing for years. What are you talking about? Of course I can play soccer.

What are you doing here?

What… what are you asking me? I don’t quite understand.

What are you doing?

Are you here to play soccer? What are you doing? What are you doing right now?

As I stand on the dead green field. The fatigue has soaked in. The heat, too. Nobody on the team seemed to like me, either. Of course, none of them were Asians, but that shouldn’t matter. I see all of them flirting and talking dirty with Asian girls. The white kids, the black kids, the Hispanics have no problem associating. Maybe it’s not their problem. Why would it be? It’s me against them. Me against the Arcadia Soccer Team. Me against society. Me vs. world.

Why does it have to be like this? I might not be as good as you guys at this game, but I really love it! I respect how well you play! I think you are all really cool. You guys have the best in life, you enjoy your perpetual happiness every day. No worries about Honors or APs! All you need to care about is having fun! All you need to do is play hard and have fun! Your only two responsibilities in life! YOUR ONLY TWO!

Why, then? Why can’t you accept me? Why am I not suitable to talk to? Say “hey” to me! Greet me in the hallways! Chat with me, talk about anything! I know a lot. I have a lot of knowledge to share. Why does nobody care to hear? Why does nobody want to peer into my mind, to admire both the beauty and the shame?

These feelings, the whole, the entirety of it all; it cannot be expressed in a finite sequence of words. (Nor, do I think, are they representable with an infinite series formula.) Can nobody solve this problem? This is too challenging, even for a math Olympian’s mind. All we do is memorize formulas anyways, and I don’t know the formula for finding happiness, I’m afraid.

Perhaps this post is getting a bit too emotional. Maybe I’m being too honest. Maybe it’s time to put on that façade and let everything be normal again. My igloo of math and anime will keep me safe. I will be safe, always. What if the bright sun comes out? Will it melt my igloo? Will I be safe then?

Only time can tell. I’m sure it will not be cloudy for much longer. Just two more years, and then perhaps the sun will shine on me in college. Then I can melt away this igloo and find my peace and love. Wasn’t that the American idealism? Peace and love. PEACE AND LOVE!

Well, for now, let’s tone down the soliloquies and monologues here. Just for a moment. Alright. Let’s continue.


We started out with a simple two laps around the field, then some stretches and exercises. Nothing too tough (besides the fact that I still have a cold, and the hidden nose-wiping became extremely unsettling). Then we got out the balls. I helped drag out one of the extra soccer goals. It was heavy, and hard work, but it was still satisfying. I still felt positively about the tryout, at that time.

It was fun at first. We passed the balls, shot at the goal, defended and attacked. We worked on our teamwork, our skills, and they judged our soccer prowess.

Everybody there was a freshman. And yet, everybody there was better than me. By leagues and bounds (I realize this idiom is “leaps and bounds”, but please let me blog in peace). It wasn’t anything particularly surprising, or at least it shouldn’t have been.

And then this freshman comes up to me. He looks dumb. He probably gets C’s, even when he tries hard. I see no future in him. No impact on society. He may grow up to be some janitor in some corporate complex, or a McDonald’s clerk. Maybe at best he’ll be a roofing salesman or a window contractor.

Yet, he says, to me. He says to me. “What are you doing?

He says this to me. To me. He said it.

What am I doing, and what am I doing on this field? In these shoes? In this outfit? What am I here for? What do I hope to achieve by being here? What have I sacrificed to stand on this field right now? What do I get for my troubles? Will I make the team? Absolutely not. Will I get to know some of the members by talking to them during the tryout? No, I won’t. Do I have anything to gain? Anything to gain for trying out? Anything to gain for working my butt off doing this? Basically, as far as they’re concerned, I’m just here to shag balls for them. I can help move things around, do their grunt work for them. Is this really that interesting to you, to sacrifice your time, your youth, and your… anime… to be here shagging balls for them, and receiving for this work, only the feelings of shame and embarrassment?

Is it my fault?

Is it my fault in the first place? Is it my fault that I am not as good at soccer? Compared to these Hispanics? They go to the park, they play soccer for four hours every weekend while barbecuing and partying. Ever since they were two, they’ve probably been out on the field every week. Soccer probably flows through their blood. It makes up their soul.

It was then, I realized. What is my soul? What is my purpose in life? My goal? What am I seeking? What will bring me happiness, and how can I attain it?

I am young. I am young and have yet the energy to achieve my dreams.


Everybody wants things that they don’t have. If they had it, they would then begin wanting something different.

It’s human nature. I suppose we can’t help it, eh?

The grass on the other side of the hill always looks greener.