Sunday, December 28, 2003

Southern California and Las Vegas trip report

The break has been great as Dad took us and my aunts Wei-Jen and Wei-Feng on a road trip down south. We left on the 23rd and got back tonight. Our itinerary included Anaheim, Las Vegas and several national parks. Though I had been to most of the places, the vacation couldn't have been better.

Day 1

Before the trip began, my parents rented an SUV as there was no way to fit all of our luggage into a sedan. It was then time to hit the road. Dad made a stop at Casa de Fruta in Hollister so my aunts could look around. The fruit stand was huge and full of snacks. I took the opportunity to buy a bag of potato chips. Wei-Feng said it was delicious.

The other stop along the way was a restaurant in Bakersfield for dinner. I was a little nervous because someone had recently died from the flu in Bakersfield, but luckily nothing happened to us. I'm probably worrying too much.

Our party arrived in Anaheim a few hours later. All of us were pretty tired and went to bed after checking into the hotel.

Day 2

They say no trip to Southern California is complete without a visit to Disneyland. However, I had been there before and wanted to go somewhere else. Dad eventually decided to go to Joshua Tree National Park after dropping Wei-Jen and Wei-Feng off at the Happiest Place on Earth.

Joshua Tree National Park was much further than we expected. The park is named for the strange-looking trees that are native to the area. The fields were full of them as far as the eye could see. Of note is that it was extremely windy outside. Because it was getting late - and there was a long drive to Anaheim - we turned back shortly afterwards.

It started raining as we began to leave. The rain was so heavy that the road was wet within minutes. Despite the severe weather, everyone was speeding - like going 80 mph or more. This was the scariest part of the trip. Imagine my relief when we arrived in Anaheim after a harrowing two hours. Had we known better, I'd have gone to Disneyland instead.

Speaking of which, my aunts were still there. The three of us made our way to the Happiest Parking Lot on Earth and took Wei-Jen and Wei-Feng back to our hotel. They were drenched in the rain but otherwise had a great time.

Day 3

I woke up to some good news: Dad checked my e-mail and found out I was accepted into SJSU for next fall. This was like an early Christmas present as the decisions generally don't come until March or April. At least I have somewhere to go!

The main stop of the day was Universal Studios Hollywood. Though we had been here too, Mom felt we shouldn't leave my aunts on their own again. After all, theme parks can also be fun in the company of others.

Our day began with the Mummy Returns: Chamber of Doom attraction. There was a little mishap: I had played a bit too much Quake lately and pretended to be an action hero by fighting the zombies in the halls. Unbeknownst to me, they were real actors. I'm surprised I didn't get kicked out after accidentally punching one of them in the face. *sheepish grin*

One popular attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood is the Studio Tour. It hadn't changed much and was just as fun as we remembered. Lunch consisted of chicken tenders from Doc Brown's Chicken and a large pizza. I should mention that everything was very expensive. There was plenty of time for other attractions in the afternoon. T2 3-D: Battle Across Time and Back to the Future: The Ride were among my favorites.

Although we prefer natural places over amusement parks, all of us had a great time at Universal Studios Hollywood. Long lines aside, this was the best part of the trip.

Day 4

The drive to Las Vegas was uneventful, although we arrived later than expected due to traffic. There was still enough time to explore the Strip after checking into Stratosphere Las Vegas. This was a relaxing way to end the day. Back in our room, I played Quake for a bit before going to bed.

Day 5

It was time to leave for Barstow after a good night's sleep. Along the way was a town called Pahrump. One thing that caught my eye was the large number of fireworks stores. I visited the Phantom Fireworks and was impressed by what they had. This was a memorable experience even though we didn't buy any fireworks.

I bought two more bags of potato chips and some sweets at a gas station while my parents got prune juice at Walgreens to treat Wei-Jen's constipation. For those unaware, prune juice is a great remedy when you can't poop. This was something we had been looking for since the trip began. It was a relief when we finally found some!

Our journey brought us to Death Valley National Park in the afternoon. Death Valley is easily one of the most unique places in the world. The downside is that we didn't still get to see Ubehebe Crater because of time constraints. Oh well. I guess that's something to consider for our next trip.

Wei-Jen soon started feeling ill. Dad feared she had altitude sickness but soon realized that she really needed to use the bathroom. The laxative properties of the prune juice were apparently starting to take effect. Let's just say we had to make several "emergency stops" in Death Valley in the middle of the night. *whistles innocently*

All craziness aside, our party arrived in Barstow without any problems. I spent the rest of the evening playing The Incredible Machine 3 on my laptop.

Day 6

We left Barstow and arrived in Sequoia National Park after a four-hour drive. There wasn't much to do here because it was freezing outside and snow was everywhere. That said, the scenery was beautiful. The not-so-fun part is that I slipped on the ice and hurt my butt outside a visitor center. Shit happens.

Dad wanted to visit the Kings Canyon National Park too, but the route was closed for the winter. However, that wasn't a problem because we had been there before. Our final stop of the day was our hotel in Oakhurst - the same place we stayed at on our trip to Yosemite earlier this year.

Day 7

The highlight of the day was Yosemite National Park - one of our favorite places. The weather was really cold here as well. On the other hand, Dad found a picnic area that turned out to be the perfect spot for lunch. I also enjoyed visiting Yosemite Village and the stores there.

Mom saw wolves trudging through the snow at one point and stopped the car so we could get pictures. I started freaking out as soon as my aunts opened their windows because I was afraid the wolves would jump in and attack us. However, they didn't even bat an eye as they passed our car. Perhaps I'm too paranoid. I definitely felt like an asshole for yelling at my aunts. :-(

One of our family traditions is to eat at the Kowloon Chinese Restaurant in San Mateo on the way home from a trip. But things weren't the same: the restaurant has been renamed, the menus have changed and everything was more expensive. After finding out the food wasn't as good as it used to be, none of us wanted to eat here anymore. It was sad to see this tradition end. :-(

Conclusions

Just because we had been to most of the places doesn't mean we didn't have fun. The company of my aunts made the trip even better. It's not often that we get to travel with other people.

On the whole, my favorite stop was Universal Studios. This was nice for a change as we rarely go to theme parks nowadays. I certainly wouldn't mind checking out the other theme parks in Southern California.

Our original itinerary included Grand Canyon National Park as well, but my aunts didn't want us to spend so much money on them. It was ultimately decided to skip Grand Canyon, especially considering that we had been there before. This shortened our trip by about two days but also reduced the cost by several hundred dollars. I truly appreciate the consideration.

All in all, everyone greatly enjoyed this vacation. I look forward to taking Wei-Jen and Wei-Feng on more trips in the future.

Currently playing: The Incredible Machine 3

Friday, December 19, 2003

my last Christmas break of high school

This was the last day of classes. It's hard to believe I only have one semester left of high school. In any case, the break is going to be awesome!

Of note is that the student body recently voted to move the finals from January to December. The idea that we had to study during the holidays never stuck well with me. Thank goodness for common sense. However, the downside is that we now have less time to prepare for the exams. I guess we can't have our cake and eat it too.

Currently playing: The Incredible Machine

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

a little choir party

So we had a party during lunch today in the choir room. According to Mr. Shaull, this is one of our traditions. He put on some Christmas music, to which some people got up to dance. There was no shortage of food. Considering that we just had an amazing concert three days ago, there's no better way to celebrate!

The party was fairly short because of the school's schedule but still lots of fun. It almost makes up for the dance I had to miss. :-)

At any rate, I should get back to studying as the finals are starting tomorrow for us seniors. Peace.

Currently listening to: "White Christmas" by Irving Berlin

Saturday, December 13, 2003

my first public performance!

I just got back from the LAHS winter choral concert at the Los Altos United Methodist Church. The concert is part of the Chorale curriculum but involved the entire choral department. This was my first public performance and an overall enjoyable experience.

There are a total of five choirs - Chorale, Varsity Men's Glee, Concert Choir, Girls 21 and the Main Street Singers - collectively known as Choral Union. They sang their songs before assembling for Joseph Haydn's Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo. I was nervous at first but soon started feeling comfortable. At least I didn't have to sing solo. Haha.

Though my father is out of town again and couldn't be there, my mother and aunts Wei-Jen and Wei-Feng were more than happy to come. This was one of my proudest moments. I'd have asked Mom to record the concert for Dad, but we didn't know where our camcorder was. Oh well.

The tickets were $7 per person, and the proceeds go towards the LAHS choral department. The downside is that we don't get a cut of the profits. However, the money isn't a big deal; the fact that we had a great time performing is rewarding in itself. :-)

Currently listening to singing: "Rise Up, Shepherd and Follow"

Friday, December 12, 2003

had to miss out on another dance :-(

The week ended on a sour note as I had to miss out on the "Holiday in the Sun" dance. This was rather disappointing as I had been looking forward to it for several months. It definitely reminded me of what happened last year.

Mom was worried about the recent flu outbreak and advised me to stay home over concerns that germs spread easily in crowded places. She definitely had a point - a dance isn't worth getting sick over. This wasn't a total surprise because I was prepared for the possibility of missing the dance - after all, my mother has always taught to expect the unexpected. But to tell you the truth, it still kind of sucks.

The back-to-school dance in August might be my last high school dance ever. Though there are three more coming up - winter formal, Sadies and prom - the tickets are much more expensive. Mom assures me there are dances in college, but that remains to be seen.

The good news is that I don't have too much homework this weekend. The other thing is that my aunts Wei-Jen and Wei-Feng are coming over from Taiwan and will be staying for a few weeks. Dad plans to take all of us to the Southwest U.S. during Christmas vacation. So at least there's something to look forward to. :-)

In other news...

Our winter choral concert is on Saturday night at the Los Altos United Methodist Church. This will be my first public performance. I'm a little nervous but also excited at the same time. Wish me luck for tomorrow!

Currently playing: Chasm: The Rift

Sunday, November 16, 2003

college applications

Because I want to go to college after high school, I've been busy with applications over the past few weeks. It's a good thing I'm almost done with them!

The most time-consuming part of the process is writing the essays. Though the same one could be reused with minor changes, everything adds up when you're applying to over a dozen schools. The fees aren't exactly cheap either.

Then there's the rejection letters. The good news is that the decisions generally don't come until March or April. So at least I'll have some time to mentally prepare for them. :P

Friday, October 10, 2003

so I'm legal now...

I just turned 18 years old. In other words, I'm now legally an adult. Of course, that doesn't mean I'll stop listening to my parents - after all, they can kick me out of the house anytime. :P

As for celebrations, my family went to Pizz'a Chicago for dinner last weekend. Though we hadn't been there in several years, the pizzas were really good as always. It's hard to believe how fast time goes.

In other news...

I reached 1,200 skill total in RuneScape two days ago. You can see the screenshot here.

Currently playing: RuneScape

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

accidentally let my RuneScape membership renew itself...

Now that school has started for me, I decided to cancel my RuneScape membership in order to focus more on my classes. But when I logged in yesterday afternoon, the membership had already been renewed. Though I immediately requested a refund, Jagex told me this wasn't possible.

This was pretty cheap of them in my opinion. Because the RuneScape website never made it clear when the automatic payments would occur, I had always assumed it was the last day of the billing period. At least the same thing didn't happen last year. Shame on you, Jagex.

While $5 isn't a big deal, companies should be clear in this matter. On the bright side, I can't exactly complain about another month of membership. :P

Currently reading: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Friday, August 29, 2003

my last back-to-school dance at LAHS

Tonight was the back-to-school dance at Los Altos High School. It was so much fun!

Though it wasn't that much different from previous dances, this was the most enjoyable one to date. I'd like to thank the administration and the student body for making such an event possible. I definitively can't wait for the holiday dance in December.

One thing for sure is that I'll miss these dances when I graduate. Let's hope there are dances in college!

Currently listening to: "Angel of Mine" by Monica

Monday, August 25, 2003

first day of my last year of high school

School just started for me. It's hard to believe how fast time has gone. At any rate, I'm now a high school senior!

I should mention that I'm taking Chorale this year to satisfy the fine arts requirement. Though I was reluctant at first due to my fear of performing in public, the class doesn't seem as scary as I had made it out to be. It's actually quite fun, especially with all those cute girls. No wonder Mom has always told me not to judge things before trying them.

You're probably aware that we just returned from a trip to Japan and China. Due to the limited availability of flights, my mother and I almost got stuck overseas. I'm really glad I didn't have to miss the first week of school. That was a close call.

In other news...

I recently beat Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition for the first time without cheats. The fourth episode was quite challenging compared to the first three. It took me numerous tries to defeat the final boss!

Currently listening to: Duke Nukem II soundtrack - "Dukin' it Out" by Bobby Prince

Saturday, August 16, 2003

East Asia trip report

I just got back from East Asia with my mother. Because Dad is there on a business trip and didn't want us to miss our annual summer vacation, he told us to meet in Japan so that we could travel with him while he worked. Mom and I spent about eight days each in Japan and China. The trip was exhausting but also loads of fun. Read on to find out what we did!

Days 1 and 2

There was little time for preparations as Dad had asked us to meet him in Japan just two days earlier. Despite the hectic schedule, the two of us managed to get everything in order. We took the shuttle to the airport and boarded our flight to Tokyo.

The movies kept me occupied during the long ride. X2 and Shanghai Knights were my favorites, although Treasure Planet and Atlantis: The Lost Empire weren't too bad either. I actually liked X2 and Shanghai Knights so much that I watched them more than once!

The plane landed in Tokyo about 12 hours later. I was a little nervous because my father didn't accompany us - especially with the language barrier - but we passed customs and met up with Dad without issues. He then took us to Akihabara after we unpacked our stuff at the hotel. Akihabara was a place that made our first trip to Japan so much fun.

Dad wanted to take us inside a pachinko parlor but was told that I was too young to enter. Though I was just two months shy of the age requirement and could have bluffed my way through, I didn't feel like lying about my age. However, that wasn't a big deal because I already knew how the game worked, the reason being that pachinko machines appear in Shadow Warrior in some levels. Who says video games aren't educational?

Because we were all a little tired after returning to our hotel, the rest of the evening was uneventful. On the other hand, my parents let me renew my RuneScape membership. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Day 3

The morning began with a trip back to Narita International Airport for our flight to Fukuoka. The funny-sounding name was the first thing that caught my attention. I imagine it's the subject of many jokes. Let's just say my mother insisted it wasn't pronounced "fuck you, OK?"

The highlight of the day was a tour of Mt. Aso, the largest active volcano in Japan. The bus took us to the crater of Mt. Naka. That was a cool sight, although visibility was limited in the dense smoke. The noxious gases were making us uncomfortable, so we didn't stay here too long except to take pictures.

I took the opportunity to check out the gift shop at the Mt. Aso Ropeway terminal before we got back on the bus. The decorated cookies quickly caught my eye. They looked tasty but weren't exactly cheap. After careful consideration, I decided to save the money for other things.

Day 4

About an hour south of Fukuoka was Kumamoto. One of the city's biggest attractions was Kumamoto Castle. Though historical sites aren't my cup of tea, the castle was pretty impressive. The people dressed as palace guards outside the entrance were a nice touch. The rest of Kumamoto was also beautiful.

This was followed by a stop at a mineral spa. The water seemed dark and uninviting but turned out to be fairly clean. Every so often, someone would check to make sure we hadn't passed out from the heat. They probably didn't want to get sued in case something happened to us.

Dad's colleague Naoki invited us and another business associate to a teppanyaki restaurant for dinner. The food was insanely expensive and cost around ¥12,000 per person. Mom felt it was wrong to let Naoki spend so much money on us as this was supposed to be a business affair. Therefore, she and I agreed to share a plate. One reason the meal cost so much is that it included the famous Kobe beef. It looked unappetizing because of the blood but turned out to be delicious.

Day 5

We took the train to Nagasaki after a good night's sleep. Our first stop here was the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. The exhibits had a strong focus on world peace. The nearby Nagasaki Peace Park contained memorials for those who perished. The most notable feature was the stone monument that marks the spot above which "Fat Man" detonated.

The café at the museum was the perfect spot for lunch. The sandwiches were so good that we ordered seconds. They also weren't expensive at all. This was unusual because food is generally pricey in tourist areas.

The three of us explored downtown Nagasaki afterwards. Dad started getting hungry again and bought some champon as an afternoon snack at one of the eateries. Mom said the noodles were the best thing she ate on the trip.

Day 6

Our journey brought us back to Fukuoka. Aside from an evening stroll, the rest of the day consisted of packing up because we had to catch an early flight to Shanghai. On the bright side, I had lots of time to play RuneScape after dinner.

One thing I noticed while in Fukuoka is that women would congregate on street corners. Some of them were actually rather attractive. They just stood there like they were waiting for someone. I couldn't help but wonder if they were hookers. From what I could tell, they most likely were. I guess it's a good thing I didn't try to chat them up. *shrugs*

Day 7

It was a crazy morning as the taxi driver took us to the wrong airport. The last thing we wanted was to miss our flight. The chauffeur was very nervous as well but eventually found the right place. That was a close call.

The airport was virtually empty when we got there. This was kind of creepy and reminiscent of horror movies. The Langoliers definitely came to mind. On a lighter note, at least our plane didn't get sucked into a pocket dimension full of deadly creatures. :P

The flight to Shanghai was uneventful. One reason people like to visit China is that everything is dirt cheap. I had a great time browsing the street markets, especially with the amazing deals. This was the best part of the trip.

Some vendors had software for sale. I got The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring for just ¥5 at one of the stands. The copy turned out to be a bootleg with DRM removed - which explains the low price. Other than that, the disc worked fine. It wouldn't run on my laptop due to hardware limitations but worked on Dad's without issues.

The final stop of the day was my great-uncle Bao-Chuan's house. Our party had some rest before Bao-Chuan took us to a local restaurant for dinner. On the subject of which, Shanghai has an active nightlife. The streets were full of people and often crowded. But what really caught my attention was all those hot chicks making out with their boyfriends. Lucky dudes.

It was late when we returned to Bao-Chuan's place. I checked my e-mail and briefly logged into RuneScape before going to bed. Of note is that many websites are blocked in China, but a proxy easily solved the problem.

Day 8

Having enjoyed downtown Shanghai so much the day before, the three of us decided to go there again. This time, my parents bought a briefcase to carry all of our stuff. It was originally ¥120 - an already great deal - but Dad talked it down to ¥80 with his haggling skills. What a steal!

However, I soon noticed the combination locks were fake. Talk about "made in China" - no wonder the lady was willing to let it go for such a low price. The briefcase nevertheless did its job and held together for the rest of the trip.

Bao-Chuan and his wife made us a nice home-cooked dinner with lots of dishes. Their hospitality was second to none. Having lived in China for many years, my great-uncle had interesting stories, particularly his experiences with hydrogen bomb tests.

Day 9

It was a somber morning as we went to a cemetery to pay respects to my late great-grandparents on my paternal grandfather Bien-Chuan's side. Bao-Chuan then took us and my aunt Susan to an upscale plaza. Seeing that the weather was fairly warm, Dad treated us to sorbet at a pastry shop. Susan doesn't like cold foods and didn't eat hers - which meant more for me. :-)

Day 10

About 85 km west of Shanghai was Suzhou. The city is sometimes called the "Venice of the East" because of its many canals. Suzhou had a historical feel and was fairly quiet compared to Shanghai. Of the local attractions, the Classical Gardens of Suzhou were our favorite. It's too bad we didn't have time to see all nine of them. On the whole, our stay in Suzhou was quite memorable.

The reason we were short on time is that we had to catch a plane to Beijing in the afternoon. The two-hour flight was also uneventful. Given our late arrival, my family didn't do much other than check into the hotel.

Day 11

Dad was in meetings for almost the entire day. I couldn't play RuneScape or even browse the web because my father needed his computer - the only one with Internet access. It didn't help that there were no nearby Internet cafés. However, the good news is that I had other games that don't require an Internet connection. I actually completed Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem II for the first time without cheats. W00t!

Day 12

The day was much like the previous one: I was again stuck with my old laptop because Dad had more meetings. Though Mom and I went shopping for clothes, the afternoon was pretty dull. But at least I managed to beat Doom II: Hell on Earth without cheat codes. I'm not going to lie - the final boss was annoying as hell.

The evening was more exciting as we went to some supermarkets. The nice thing is that we bought lots of local snacks. Yum!

Day 13

They say no trip to Asia is complete without a visit to the Great Wall of China. The three of us took the cable car to a spot where the wall was accessible. The structure was impressive, especially considering it was built over two millennia ago. However, the Great Wall wasn't without its costs: according to historians, many workers have died from exhaustion during its construction. I guess labor laws didn't exist back then.

Day 14

The Forbidden City was our next stop. One of China's most famous landmarks, the imperial palace once served as the emperor's home for almost five centuries. The whole complex has 980 buildings, but most of them are being renovated and only a handful are publicly accessible. While not as impressive as the Great Wall, the Forbidden City was a sight to behold. I definitely hope the rest of the palace will eventually be opened to the public.

Day 15

We spent the morning exploring parts of Beijing that we hadn't seen. The downtown was huge and full of stores. I could spend days here alone.

Dad took us to the scenic Beihai Park after lunch. The park has a lake and several Buddhist temples. There wasn't enough time to see all of them, although we enjoyed strolling along the lake. The light fog made the view even better. Beihai Park was truly an incredible place.

Days 16 and 17

It was finally time to head home after two long weeks. The Chinese government had ordered a quarantine due to the SARS outbreak in Southeast Asia. It just happened that I had a fever from a cold. The inspectors detected my fever with thermal imaging equipment and kept questioning us. That was a nerve-wracking experience, but they eventually let us pass.

The three of us then boarded our flight to Tokyo. I saw the first half of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on the plane. The reason we missed the second half is that the movie was longer than the flight itself. Oh well, I'm sure my local library has some copies.

Dad has to stay in Japan for a couple more days due to business reasons. Because his executive assistant had booked the wrong flights, Mom and I had to fly back to Fukuoka and then to San Francisco. There was no direct flight from Tokyo. Shit happens.

At any rate, the outbound flight wasn't too shabby either. I watched The Ninth Gate before trying the SNES games. Street Fighter II and Super Mario All-Stars were great time killers. The only downside is that the controller sucked compared to real SNES hardware. The 12-hour flight was finally over, after which we picked up our luggage and took the shuttle home.

Conclusions

Lasting over two weeks, this was one of our longest trips to date. I actually got a little homesick - which usually doesn't happen when we travel. Of note is that the limited availability of flights made it hard to return home on time. Mom says we had to pay $100 in ticket change fees to avoid being stuck overseas. But at least it's a relief to know I won't miss the first few days of class.

To say the trip was fun would be an understatement. Shopping in Shanghai was the best part because everything is so cheap. Getting used to the prices back home will be tough. Nagasaki, Suzhou and Beihai Park were also worthwhile. The memories from this vacation will certainly last a lifetime.

I hope I can recover from the jet lag before school starts on the 29th. Speaking of which, I'm completely exhausted right now and am off to take a nap. Peace.

Currently playing: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Historical note: Pictures from the trip are available here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

finished my summer internship

This was the last day of my internship at Arcadia Design Systems. It was definitely a new experience for me.

The first week went pretty well. Jeff taught me how to write MATLAB programs and always took the time to answer my questions. I also went out to lunch with him and our executive assistant Eileen a couple of times.

However, the last few weeks were dull and unproductive. The office was largely empty because the company has downsized over the years. Because there was nobody to assign me work or teach me new things, I mostly played RuneScape whenever I wasn't studying MATLAB. Of course, this probably isn't something I should be doing at a regular job. *whistles innocently*

At any rate, it's time to enjoy the rest of summer. Speaking of which, Mom and I are heading to Japan tomorrow to join Dad on his business trip. I'm so excited!

In other news...

On the subject of internships, I also recently received an offer for one at ACMA Computers, the company that designed the LAHS student information system. They were impressed that I found all those vulnerabilities in their software. Though I couldn't take up the offer because my family will be in East Asia, I'm extremely grateful that ACMA would consider me.

Currently watching: Jackie Chan Adventures

Monday, July 7, 2003

1,100 skill total in RuneScape

So my parents recently let me become a RuneScape member again. This was the perfect time to catch up on the new skills. Speaking of which, I just hit 1,100 skill total. W00t!

The addition of the agility skill certainly allowed me to reach this milestone a lot faster. You can view the screenshot here. I love how the gnome trainer congratulates me on completing a lap just as I level up. That was purely coincidental, but the timing couldn't have been better. :D

Currently playing: RuneScape

Monday, June 23, 2003

summer internship

I just started my internship at Arcadia Design Systems. Figuring it would get me into a good college, Dad had arranged for me to work at his company as an alternative to summer school. This is my first time working in an office!

The day began with Jeff showing me how to run MATLAB simulations. He then asked me to try to write some code. Jeff says MATLAB is a powerful programming language, but it's all Greek to me. I guess everything takes practice.

To be honest, the internship wasn't something I was interested in. It was my parents who pressured me into accepting the offer. On the other hand, I can't complain about the extra income. :P

Currently watching: X-Men: Evolution

Friday, June 13, 2003

done with 11th grade

I just finished my junior year of high school. This semester was definitely the hardest one so far. I'm glad it's finally over.

Though I didn't take any AP classes, Physics Honors and Trigonometry were already quite tough. The good news is that I had great teachers, but that didn't make the subjects any less easier. Speaking of which, the finals were pretty hard. I hope I didn't do too badly on them. *crosses fingers*

Oh well, none of that matters anymore. It's time to enjoy a well-earned summer. :-)

Currently playing: Space Quest: Chapter I – The Sarien Encounter

Saturday, May 24, 2003

the party that almost wasn't

Today was fun as we had a party for the Memorial Day weekend. Mom and I did all of the work because Dad is out of town again. The good news is that everyone had a great time. However, the party almost didn't happen.

You see, my maternal grandfather was extremely upset this morning for reason. Though we're not sure what set him off, he was madder than a wet hen. Because our guests were all relatives and close friends of my grandparents, Mom was afraid they'd decide not to come. Had that been the case, all the effort we put into the party would be wasted.

To our collective relief, Grandpa cheered up shortly before the party began. I'm glad things worked out in the end. Old people are so weird sometimes!

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

RuneScape account hacked :-(

The thrill of getting level 99 cooking in RuneScape was short-lived as my account got hacked.

The first sign of trouble was that my character was in an unfamiliar area. I checked my bank to find that most of my valuables were gone. The hacker took 33 Hallowe'en masks, 52 Santa hats, my combat equipment, all of my gold and a bunch of other stuff. I know it's only a game, but this still pisses me off.

Of note is that an online virus scan picked up a Trojan on my computer. I suspect that's how they got my password. Though I'm pretty careful with what I download from the Internet, I've heard some malicious websites can install viruses through browser vulnerabilities. On the other hand, this was probably partly my fault because my password was simple.

It's also possible that the hacker decided to specifically target me. The fact that I'm somewhat well-known could have been the reason. But considering that Jagex doesn't return items, none of this really matters. Oh well, better start earning my stuff again...

Update: A bit of good news: my friend Sandman2002 gave me a green mask to help me get started again. There are no words to express my gratitude. Thanks, dude!

Currently listening to: "Sandstorm" by Darude

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

level 99 cooking in RuneScape

I've finally reached 99 cooking in RuneScape after eight months of non-stop grinding. You can see the screenshot here. I still can't believe I actually achieved this goal. W00t!

Of course, this monumental task would have been much harder without the help of friends. I'd like to thank Vera02 and Jeboy for swapping their raw lobsters for mt cooked. I also owe my gratitude to Cbkmy for letting me cook his swordfish. The same goes for everyone else who sold me supplies. There are too many people to name, but you know who you are!

In my opinion, the biggest problem with RuneScape is that there is too much grinding. Doing the same thing over and over again gets boring really fast. I'd probably be among the top 10 cooks right now if I really tried. That said, being the 36th person to reach 99 cooking certainly gives me bragging rights. :-)

In other news...

On a related note, good luck to fellow RuneScape player Thehate on his own goal of 99 cooking!

Currently playing: RuneScape

Monday, February 17, 2003

Yosemite trip report + rest of winter break

Happy Presidents Day!

Winter break is off to a great start as I just got back from Yosemite National Park with my parents. Because I was sick during Christmas break and couldn't go anywhere, Dad decided to take us on to Yosemite over the long weekend. This was nice as we hadn't been to Yosemite in ages.

Day 1

The first stop was our family friend Tiffany's house in Fresno. Mom wanted to visit her because Tiffany often brings her daughter over to study Buddhism. There wasn't much to do at their house, but Duke Nukem II kept me busy while the adults talked.

The three of us arrived in Oakhurst about an hour later. Our hotel was nice and quite comfortable. Other than that, the evening was uneventful aside from dinner at Burger King and a stop at Kragen Auto Parts for snow chains.

Day 2

The air in Yosemite was very fresh and made our stay very worthwhile. The fantastic views were the best part of the trip. I also enjoyed visiting Yosemite Village and checking out the Village Store. Our final stop of the day was Curry Village. This was our first time staying in the cabins!

Day 3

We had to leave fairly early because Dad has to catch flight to Japan tonight. Though we considered stopping in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, there just wasn't enough time. However, I'm not going to complain because a short trip is better than no vacation at all.

Speaking of which, there was a funny moment: my mother and I were packing up when we were greeted by an awful stench. It seems someone in a nearby cabin just took a really big shit. The smell was so bad that we couldn't stay outside for more than a few seconds. The whole thing was gross but hilarious in hindsight. Mom and I had a good laugh about it on the way home.

February 24 update: I'm now back in school as winter break as ended. I didn't feel like making a separate post as the rest of the break was uneventful.

Currently playing: Duke Nukem II

Historical note: Pictures from the trip are available here.

Monday, January 6, 2003

a crappy Christmas break

So the spring semester has started. To tell you the truth, the break was awful because I was sick the whole time. I'm actually still not feeling well and can barely talk because of laryngitis. :-(

The other thing is that we mostly stayed home due to our current financial situation. Though we went hiking in Stevens Creek County Park three days ago, that's pretty much all we did. Other than that, I had to spend most of the time studying for the finals. Fuck that shit.

All that having been said, there were some high points. One of our family friends gave me a tray of dried fruit from Casa de Fruta. It was nice to share it with my parents. I also got to play RuneScape during study breaks. If everything goes well, I should reach level 90 cooking in a few days. :-)

Currently playing: RuneScape

Wednesday, January 1, 2003

an unhappy new year

I hope everyone had a great new year because mine sucked. The worst part is that I caught a bad cold just after the break started. I'm actually still very sick at the moment. The fact that finals are coming up doesn't help the issue.

2002 in review

The last few months have been rough. For a start, the workload was heavy - which isn't unexpected for 11th graders. It doesn't help that my father decided to start an argument with me over my studying habits. Mrs. Schiffman kicked me out of Spanish III two weeks later. I then had a crappy weekend before getting this nasty cold - what a shitty way to end the year.

Despite all the bad things, 2002 had its highlights. Our trip to Hawaii was probably the best part of the year. I really enjoyed visiting the Southwest U.S. as well. All that having been said, here's to hoping 2003 will be better. :-)

Currently watching: True Lies