Monday, December 31, 2001

check out my new forum!

Hey everyone, I just started my own forum. Click here to check it out!

The boards are mainly for discussing my math website and my programs, but you are welcome (and encouraged) to talk about anything within reason. You don't even need to register to post, although creating an account certainly has its benefits. Have fun!

Please note that I have no control over the forum software itself; things like new features and bug fixes are managed by the ProBoards team. That said, I am very grateful for this service. If you want a forum like mine, you can create for one for free here.

Oh yeah, and happy New Year's Eve!

Currently playing: RuneScape

Thursday, December 27, 2001

so long, wisdom teeth!

As planned, I had my wisdom teeth pulled this afternoon. I was extremely nervous at first, but the whole thing went very smoothly - more so than I had expected.

The doctor put me to sleep before the operation so that I would be spared the gory details. I don't mean to sound morbid, but I kind of felt like a condemned inmate about to receive a lethal injection as the needle approached my arm. It was probably because I was afraid of an accidental overdose - however unlikely that is. Still, they must have used some pretty powerful stuff because I was knocked out within seconds.

When I woke up again, everything had already been done. My mouth is still completely numb right now, but this should go away in a couple of hours. The scary part may be over, but the hard part has only begun: from what the doctor told me, I won't be able to consume any solid food for at least two weeks. This will make the rest of my Christmas break less enjoyable for sure. :\

Currently playing: Alchemy

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

back from Tahoe

Merry Christmas!

So my parents and I just came back from our three-day trip to Tahoe. The fun part was that we went skiing at Soda Springs. I had to brush up on my skills again as I hadn't skied in three years, but I don't think I did too badly on the slopes. :-)

Day 1

Lake Tahoe is about 230 miles from our house, but it doesn't seem that far away when you've been there more than a few times. The sun sets early at this time of the year, so it was pretty dark when we got to our hotel. There weren't too many things to do in the evening, so we kind of called it a day after dinner.

Day 2

The highlight of the day was when we stopped at Donner Lake in the afternoon. One thing that makes the lake so special is the thin layer of ice that forms on its surface when conditions are right. You'll probably laugh at me for this, but one thing I love to do is to break the ice by walking on the frozen parts of the lake near the shore. It's like popping bubble wrap in a way. There wasn't a lot of ice this time, but I still enjoyed the beautiful views.

I spent the rest of the day playing Dragonheart: Fire & Steel at the hotel. Mom thought I was silly for bringing my laptop on such a short trip, but I think it's a great time killer - especially when the cold weather makes it hard to spend much time outside.

Day 3

Traveling on Christmas can be rather dull at times as most businesses tend to be closed. The ski resorts were still open, so we took the opportunity to go skiing at Soda Springs. Boreal is where we usually go, but we decided to try something different this year. From this experience, I'd say Soda Springs is much more fun.

The three of stopped at a Chinese restaurant for dinner on the way home. I ordered some fried rice, something I always must have whenever we go out for Chinese food. However, the waiter misheard our order and brought us beef chow fun instead. We didn't feel like letting the poor guy get yelled at on Christmas, so we let it go.

Conclusions

On the whole, this vacation was very exciting. Skiing is one of my favorite sports, so it's too bad it almost never snows here in the Silicon Valley. On the other hand, Dad is planning another trip for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend. Only three weeks to go!

In other news...

I'll be having my wisdom teeth removed on Thursday. I'm a little nervous about it, but my parents say everything will be fine. *crosses fingers*

Currently listening to: "Whenever, Wherever" by Shakira

Friday, December 21, 2001

Christmas break at last

The holiday break just started for me. I just love this time of the year!

As far as plans go, my family is thinking of going skiing in Tahoe sometime next week. The not-so-fun part is that I'll be having my wisdom teeth pulled after Christmas. Oh yeah, and my paternal grandfather Bien-Chuan and his companion Mrs. Chen will be visiting us from Taiwan at the end of December.

I haven't skied in three years, so the trip should be very exciting. But I can't say the same about getting my wisdom teeth removed. *shrugs*

Currently playing: Bejeweled (web version)

Friday, December 14, 2001

holiday dance report

I just got back from the Mardi Gras dance at LAHS. The entrance fee was $7 per person, but the money was totally worth it. Although the novelty of school dances is mostly gone, this was my favorite one so far. I really enjoyed its atmosphere, but I guess the holiday mood was also a major factor. Speaking of which, I only have one week left of school before Christmas break starts!

In case you're wondering, I still haven't slow danced with anyone. Pretty sad, I know. :-(

Currently listening to: "A Puro Dolor" by Son by Four

Monday, October 15, 2001

Best. Homecoming theme. Ever.

LAHS kicked off homecoming with an assembly today. This year's theme was games in general, so it's no surprise that many seniors decided to base their skits on video games. Several of them actually had Super Mario Bros. as their theme. It was definitely pretty awesome.

As a big fan of Mario games, I really enjoyed those skits. I wish I could share them with you, except I don't have any videos from the assembly. I also don't own a digital camcorder, nor do I know of any websites that allow users to upload large media files for free. You'll just have to use your imagination!

Currently listening to: Super Mario Bros. overworld theme

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

so I'm of legal driving age now...

I just turned 16 years old, which means I can now legally drive. But seeing that I live so close to school, I don't really feel the need to get my license anytime soon. I guess I'll do that when I'm in college or something. :P

Of course, no birthday is complete without presents: my aunts Jill and Cynthia gave me red envelopes containing $100 each. I'm extremely grateful for their love and generosity, although I couldn't help but feel a little guilty about taking so much. Haha.

Friday, September 14, 2001

volunteering at the library

As part of my efforts to fulfill my community service requirement for graduation, I've started working at the Los Altos Library as a volunteer. I was introduced to my supervisor Shirley and her manager Andy, both of whom were really nice. Shirley taught me the basics, and I was able to begin working immediately. It was definitely an exciting first day.

For those curious, my main job is to shelf books and non-feature videos, which I'll be doing for two hours every Friday. The Los Altos Library has always been a useful resource for me, so it feels great to give back to the place I've benefited from for so many years.

Thursday, September 13, 2001

a tribute to America

In response to the recent terrorist attacks, LAHS held an impromptu assembly to remember those who lost their lives. School officials and student leaders began by offering prayers and giving speeches on the need for unity and tolerance. The rest of the assembly consisted of the school choirs singing patriotic songs. It was a very touching tribute.

Due to the emotional nature of the event, school administrators allowed students who didn't feel comfortable attending it to opt out, but I don't know of anyone that did. It seems everybody felt a sense of duty to be there.

Currently listening to: "America the Beautiful" by Katharine Lee Bates and Samuel A. Ward

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

regarding current events

In case you haven't seen the news, terrorists just blew up the World Trade Center in New York City and a large portion of the Pentagon this morning. They did this by hijacking four aircraft and deliberately flying them into the buildings. I know it sounds like something from a corny disaster movie, but the horror is all too real.

Nobody did a whole lot in school today as all of our eyes were pretty much glued to TV screens. If Osama bin Laden is really responsible for all of this - and I think he is - then it's time for the U.S. to stick a couple of cruise missiles up his ass.

That having been said, my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy. May justice be swift and severe.

Currently reading: Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Friday, August 31, 2001

back-to-school dance report

I just got back from the back-to-school dance. Because I didn't buy an ASB card this year, I had to pay the $5 entrance fee as usual.

This was actually the first dance at which I stayed to the end. It wasn't quite as exciting as the one last year - mainly because the novelty had worn off - but I nevertheless had a really good time. I'm definitely looking forward to the holiday dance in December.

Currently listening to: The Sounds of the Canadian Rockies by Orange Tree Productions

Monday, August 27, 2001

back to LAHS for 10th grade

Summer break has ended for me, and so begins another school year. I'm no longer a freshman!

The nice thing is that I don't have the dreaded 0th period class for which I have to get up in the early morning all the time. Thank heaven for small favors. That said, I do have a 7th period chemistry class, which means I have to stay later than most students. I guess I can't have my cake and eat it too.

On the other hand, chemistry happens to be one of my favorite subjects, so I'm not going to complain. :-)

Currently listening to: "The Bad Touch" by Bloodhound Gang

Thursday, August 16, 2001

saw Pearl Harbor today

I went to see Pearl Harbor with my parents this afternoon. It was quite an awesome movie!

The film focused more on entertainment rather than historical facts, so there were some parts that weren't complete accurate. On the other hand, the action scenes and special effects were really cool. The movie was also quite long - a little over three hours to be exact - and we all needed a big stretch when we walked out of the theater. All in all, it was a worthwhile experience. I'd definitely consider watching Pearl Harbor again when it comes out on DVD.

Currently watching: Pearl Harbor
Release date: May 25, 2001

Monday, June 25, 2001

Java programming class

I started a summer Java class at Foothill College today. I've written my own programs before, but this is my first time taking a formal programming class.

Java is very useful because it runs on any operating system that supports the Java virtual machine. The cool thing is that it happens to be the language in which RuneScape is written. Of course, it's highly unlikely that I'll be able to create a massively multiplayer online RPG after just six weeks of lessons, but this should nevertheless be a worthwhile learning experience.

I'm also enrolled in a Spanish class at Foothill College, but it's nowhere as fun as the Java one. Shh, don't tell my Spanish professor!

Currently playing: RuneScape

Friday, June 22, 2001

Canada trip report

Summer has been pretty good so far as my parents and I just came back from our week-long trip to Canada. I had just finished 9th grade a few days before we left, so this vacation was a great way to get some R&R after the finals. Read on to find out what we did!

Day 1

Our adventures began with a close call: the three of us had barely left our street when I realized we had forgotten to bring our music CDs. I figured it wasn't a big deal, but Dad insisted on going back to retrieve them. Upon returning to our house, we could not believe our eyes: the garage door was left wide open. It's a good thing we went back to get those CDs - heaven knows what would have happened if we hadn't.

The flight to Spokane was only about two hours long, so we had an entire afternoon free. The three of us rented a white Nissan Pathfinder at the airport, and it was time to hit the road. First on our itinerary was Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. This was actually two parks in one: Glacier National Park in Montana and Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. We took numerous pictures here as the views of the Rocky Mountains were just beautiful.

At the gift shop of one of the visitor centers, my parents bought an album called Going to the Sun by Orange Tree Productions. The tracks on the CD featured a combination of musical instruments and natural sounds. It was very relaxing; I'm surprised more people don't enjoy this type of music.

One of my old teachers once told me about a sulfur spring in Glacier National Park because she knew I loved thermal features. However, my parents and I looked everywhere and could find no such spring. I think Joan may have gotten confused between Glacier and Yellowstone because she visited both parks on the same trip - and that was many years ago - but we still greatly appreciated her tip.

As evening neared, the three of us arrived at our hotel in Lethbridge. It's been a busy day for sure!

Day 2

Vegetarians and PETA members may want to skip this part: our first stop of the day was Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, located near Fort MacLeod. The name is a dead giveaway that this place was no Disneyland for buffalo. To be specific, it was one of the sites where the Plains Indians hunted entire herds of buffalo at once. The Indians did this by driving them off a 10-metre cliff, which broke their legs and incapacitated them. The buffalo were then slaughtered and butchered. Yeah, it's pretty brutal.

Back on the road, our next stop was Calgary. One thing that killed the mood when my mother ran over a prairie dog along the way. This didn't come as a complete surprise because there were a bunch of them darting back and forth across the road, and we had actually seen around eight or nine other dead prairie dogs. Those critters were everywhere. Still, Mom felt kind of bad about the whole thing. :-(

Our main purpose of coming to Calgary was to visit the Chinese Cultural Centre. The featured exhibit was the partial replica of the Terracotta Army that accompanied emperor Qin Shi Huang in his tomb. From what I've heard, the original Terracotta Army contained over 8,000 sculptures. It's pretty impressive, if you ask me. The three of us also went to Calgary's Chinatown, although we didn't spend too much time there as it wasn't that interesting.

I had also hoped to go to Edmonton to check out West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping centre in the world. Regrettably, this side trip was not possible as Edmonton was too far away. I guess that's something we'll have to consider should we visit Canada again.

Continuing on, we arrived in Canmore about an hour later. The light rain and the valley mist made it a very beautiful place. Canmore is truly one of the most special places I've ever been to. This was definitely the most memorable part of our trip.

Day 3

Just west of Canmore was a complex of four national parks: Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay. The whole place was very large, but we still got to visit many points of interest, such as the iconic Lake Louise in Banff and Athabasca Falls in Jasper. I'm not a big fan of waterfalls, but Athabasca Falls was just amazing.

Another interesting feature was a cold spring next to the road. I can't exactly remember where we saw the spring, but it was probably in or near Jasper National Park. I wouldn't be surprised if this was the one Joan was telling me about. It was nothing more than a bubbling pool of mineral water, but I nonetheless thought it was a cool (no pun intended) sight. Call me weird, but I've always been fascinated by water bubbling up from the ground.

At one of the gift shops, my parents bought another CD by Orange Tree Productions called The Sounds of the Canadian Rockies. I personally liked Going to the Sun better, although this one was also very enjoyable.

Our hotel for the night was Sunwapta Falls Resort, located in the heart of Jasper National Park. The surrounding woods were just so peaceful. Mom thought this was the best hotel of the trip; I couldn't agree more!

Day 4

The three of us woke up early in the morning, so we went for a short stroll around the hotel before heading back in for breakfast. The air was very fresh, which made it a great way to start the day.

Other than that, my parents and I mostly explored parts of Banff and Jasper that we hadn't seen yet. Because we had already been to most of the major stops, my family spent much of the day hiking on the trails. All of us love hiking, so it worked out perfectly.

Day 5

Next on our itinerary was Kootenay National Park, which was very similar to Banff and Jasper. The highlight of the place was a group of natural springs called the Paint Pots. Unlike the cold spring we had seen two days before, these ones didn't really bubble. It would have been hard to tell they were springs if it weren't for the brightly-colored mineral deposits.

The three of us then headed west to Field. The weather was kind of warm, so we stopped at one of the shops for some ice cream. It was certainly a refreshing treat. Our next destination would have been Revelstoke Lake as we had planned to see the namesake Revelstoke Dam. However, the lake was much farther than expected, so Dad decided to turn back - but not before we stopped at a diner in one of the small towns along the way for dinner.

We arrived at our hotel in Invermere after another long drive. The route wasn't actually that long, but the many sluggish drivers we had encountered greatly slowed us down. The fact that there were few passing lanes didn't help the issue. There was this old guy who was so slow that even the trucks were gaining up on him. He turned away just as we got to the hotel, which obviously didn't help much!

My parents went shopping for groceries after dinner. As much as I enjoy going to stores, I was too lazy to drag my ass to the supermarket, so I stayed at the hotel to watch Titan A.E. instead. I had always wanted to see that movie, and it certainly did not disappoint.

Due to Invermere's high latitude and the date being so close to the summer solstice, it was almost 10:00 p.m. by the time the Sun went down. I could hardly believe the day was over.

Day 6

I woke up with a bad itch. At first I thought it was allergies, but it soon became apparent that I had several bug bites. Not fun. Dad figured our bed wasn't fully cleaned, so we reported it to the hotel staff. However, the maintenance guy couldn't find anything in the bed sheets, and management just kind of blew it off. Dad is actually considering filing a complaint in the next few days.

In any case, there were still so many places to see, the first of which was the nearby Windermere Lake. It wasn't as pretty as the lakes in the parks by any means, but we still enjoyed strolling along the shore.

The three of us then headed to Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park. One of the main attractions of the park was Lussier Hot Springs, where we went in for a soak. It took quite a while to get there, but it was definitely worth the drive. The unpaved road was very uneven, and I was afraid the jagged rocks would damage the tires on the SUV. Much to our relief, the tires survived, and we didn't have to worry about having to explain to the car rental agency.

Fort Steele Heritage Town was our next stop. There were very few things to do here, but we still took some photos before we left. It wasn't long until we reached the Alberta-Montana border. Before going through customs, my family went shopping at the nearby duty-free store due to its low prices. I bought a box of maple creme cookies, which were quite good - albeit a bit sweet.

It was fairly late when we got back to Spokane, so the first thing we did after arriving was to go hunting for restaurants. One place we where initially decided to eat was a Chinese diner in a remote corner of the city. But the menu selection was very limited, so at Mom's suggestion, the three of us ditched the place and went somewhere else to eat. Mom felt a little guilty about this, so we left a small tip at the Chinese diner anyway.

Day 7

This was the last day of the trip, but there was lots of free time as we got up fairly early in the morning. Our flight was in the afternoon, so we took the opportunity to explore downtown Spokane. We also window shopped at the airport stores while waiting for our flight. After everything was said and done, it was time to fly back to San Francisco.

Uncle Harrison picked us up at SFO and gave us a ride home. Mom was too tired to do any cooking, so my parents and I went to Mountain Mike's Pizza for dinner. This was certainly a nice bonus in addition to our vacation.

Conclusions

Canada is truly one of the most scenic countries in the world. As a nature lover, I enjoyed every part of this trip - minus the bug bites at the hotel in Invermere. I'd say my favorite part of our vacation was Canmore; it was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited.

Canada would be among my first choices if I were to move to another country. The downside is that it doesn't have too many big cities, meaning it would probably get lonely from time to time. But at least it makes for great family trips!

Currently listening to: Going to the Sun by Orange Tree Productions

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

just finished 9th grade

This was the last day of the semester. That's right, I'm no longer a freshman!

The school year seemed extremely long to me for some reason, but I'm glad it's finally over. One down, three to go. That said, the final exams were somewhat challenging, so here's to hoping I didn't do too badly on them. *fingers crossed*

Of course, hard work isn't without its rewards: my family will be leaving for a week-long trip to Canada in the next couple of days. This will be our first real trip there in about a decade, so I'm quite excited. :-)

Currently playing: RuneScape

Friday, June 1, 2001

R.I.P. Cory :-(

It is with a heavy heart that I post this: the LAHS administration informed us this afternoon that one of our fellow students, Cory Redington, had hung himself last night. Another student had killed himself the same way last fall, which makes Cory's suicide the second one this school year.

This definitely hit close to home for me. Although I didn't know Cory that well, I've talked to him a few times in passing. I wish people would try to find other ways to solve their problems than by killing themselves. My thoughts are with the Redington family during this difficult time.

As a result of these tragedies, today's yearbook signing party and the upcoming end-of-the-year slide show were canceled. Of course, that does not compare at all to the loss of two young and promising lives. :-(

Currently playing: Wasted Sky

Sunday, April 22, 2001

spring break report

Dad was busy with work throughout the week, so my family didn't get to go on any overnight trips during spring recess. But that doesn't mean we didn't have fun!

The highlight of the break was when we went hiking in Big Sur on Thursday. The three of us stopped at a restaurant in Pacific Grove for lunch on the way there. The food wasn't bad, but what we really enjoyed was the view of the Pacific Ocean from the patio. All of us love the outdoors, so we had a great time hiking the lovely trails in Big Sur. The only downside is that Big Sur is around 100 miles away as I'd love to go there more often.

There was still plenty of time, so we headed further down south to Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park to see McWay Falls and the impressive granite cliffs from which it drops. The views here were equally nice, although I personally liked Big Sur better. The drive home was also worthwhile as we were treated to an amazing view of the ocean. The scenery was especially beautiful at sunset.

Today was also fun as we went to see Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero. Lighthouses aren't exactly my cup of tea, but it's always exciting to visit new places.

Other than that, I spent the rest of the break studying for my Spanish class. Having to memorize all that vocabulary ain't exactly the easiest thing in the world.

Currently listening to: The Instruments of Classical Music: The Cello

Tuesday, February 6, 2001

so I signed up for RuneScape...

I just started playing this online RPG called RuneScape. It's being developed by a British company called Jagex Software. The game is currently in beta, so some of its features aren't fully functional yet, but there are already plenty of things to do and places to explore.

If you're interested in checking out RuneScape with me, my in-game name is ixfd64.

Currently playing: RuneScape

Monday, January 22, 2001

a much better long weekend

I'm feeling much better now - not to mention the finals are out of the way - so this long weekend was a lot more enjoyable!

On the subject of which, my family went to Half Moon Bay yesterday afternoon. Although we have been there countless times, strolling along Pillar Point Harbor never gets old. The three of us also ordered a bowl of clam chowder at Princeton Seafood Company before heading home. This is something we often do when we come here, so it's become a tradition of sorts. On the whole, my parents and I had a great time.

Dad and I also went to the western region headquarters of the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park this morning. Geology has always been one of my interests, so the whole place was like a really big museum. I loved visiting the building where the seismometers are kept. The cool thing is that most of the printouts are free to take after they're reviewed by a geologist. The USGS also has a little café, although we didn't go there this time.

In any case, I would have stayed longer had Dad not needed to go to work - after all, he doesn't get the day off like I do. Speaking of which, the USGS is definitely one of the places I'd consider getting a job at when I'm finished with school.

In other news...

I recently saw Supernova on video. It was a somewhat crappy movie, but I nonetheless enjoyed it.

Currently watching: Supernova
Release date: January 14, 2000

Monday, January 15, 2001

a not-so-fun Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend

I'll cut straight to the chase: my long weekend totally sucked because I was sick the whole time. As a matter of fact, I'm still not feeling very well right now. I actually had to take a few days off, so there goes my perfect attendance record. :-(

Moonway was at my house last weekend, and the two of us spent several hours playing video games as we often do. However, he had a cold he didn't think was contagious. As Murphy's law would have it, I caught said cold.

I wouldn't have asked Moonway to come to my house had I known he was ill. It just wasn't worth it at all. On the bright side, I had plenty of time to study for the upcoming finals. Speaking of exams, Mrs. Williams was kind enough to let me take the biology quiz at home. Shh, don't tell anyone!

On another note, this coming Friday and the following Monday are teacher service days, which means I get another long weekend. I hope I'll be better by then.

Currently playing: Unreal

Tuesday, January 2, 2001

back to school again

Christmas break has ended for me, and I'm now back in school for the spring semester.

To be honest, I'm not too thrilled about having to get up early in the morning for my 7:20 a.m. biology class, especially right after the new year. The holiday blues aren't exactly helping either. On the other hand, I'm very excited about seeing my friends at LAHS again, not to mention those hot chicks. Haha.

Currently playing: Final Doom

Monday, January 1, 2001

first post of the millennium

It's hard to believe another year has passed. Lots of people think 2000 is the first year of the 3rd millennium, but it's actually 2001. So here you go: happy new millennium!

New Year's Eve report

The dawn of a new millennium is certainly cause for celebration, so my parents had a big party last night. The Liang family were among our guests; they invite us to their gatherings all the time, so it's only fair that we return the favor. The awesome thing is that just about everyone stayed for the countdown. I still have the post-vacation blues from our recent trip, but it's always nice to have a party right after coming home. :-)

2000 in review

The best part of 2000 was our recent trip to the American Southwest. I've been on many vacations in my life, but this was the first one I had truly come to appreciate. I guess it's because I'm more mature now.

There weren't really any bad things that happened in the past year, except when my learning skills teacher at LAHS sent me to the office for swearing too much. While Mrs. Roth strongly believes in the freedom of speech, I had said "shit" in her class one too many times for her liking. But because the assistant principal and I knew each other pretty well, all she did was give me a warning. From what Mrs. Satterwhite told me, I could have been suspended. It really does help to have friends in high places.

Speaking of LAHS, the spring semester starts tomorrow for me, and I have to get up early in the morning for my 7:20 a.m. biology class. So I should probably get to bed soon. Take care, everyone!

Currently playing: Final Doom