Thursday, December 30, 2004

cactus candy, anyone?

The prickly pear candy I ordered just arrived in the mail. These confections are popular in the Southwest U.S. Though I often see them in gift shops, they're usually pretty expensive. However, I couldn't resist the temptation and bought some on eBay - even though the shipping was almost as much as the item itself.

This stuff is similar to Sunkist Fruit Gems, except it's slightly more firm and has a somewhat unique flavor. It's really nothing special, but at least I now know what cactus candy tastes like.

Currently watching: The Grey Zone

Sunday, December 19, 2004

touching base with my high school choir class

I just got back from the annual Main Street Singers holiday concert. The Main Street Singers are Los Altos High School's elite choir; they have many performances throughout the year and go on an international tour every spring. Though I didn't join the Main Street Singers, many of my classmates from Chorale did. It was certainly great to see everyone again, especially Mr. Shaull and their accompanist Debbie.

The music was enjoyable as always. The most poignant moment was when Mr. Shaull invited the MSS alumni to join the current choir for the last song. The concert ended with an after-party with cookies and hot cider. There's no better way to get into the Christmas spirit!

Currently playing: Field & Stream Trophy Hunting 4

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I survived my first semester at Berkeley

I've finished the finals and am back home for the holidays. It feels like I just started college, and now the semester is over. One down, seven to go!

The exams weren't easy by any means. However, the hardest part of the semester was probably the Engineering 77 assignments; debugging my implementation of depth-first search at 3 a.m. isn't exactly my idea of a good time. The final for that class ironically turned out to be the easiest. I guess I lucked out.

In any case, it's time to enjoy a well-earned vacation. The nice thing is that we get five weeks off for Christmas. :-)

Thursday, November 25, 2004

an awesome Thanksgiving party

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today was fun as we invited lots of people over. The best part is that our family friend Mei also brought food to share. That was so generous of her. Everything was delicious, especially the egg custard. Though the Lu and Shieh families left early because Rae and my uncle Dong are morning people, most of our guests stayed past 11 p.m. On the whole, this was one of the best parties ever.

I'm very thankful for getting into Berkeley this year. Being accepted into such a prestigious school was the last thing I expected. Speaking of which, I should probably start preparing for my finals. Haha.

Currently listening to: "Fluid Combustion" by Synthetique

Friday, November 5, 2004

new family car!

So my parents bought a new Lexus RX 330 while I was at school. Imagine my surprise when they picked me up from Berkeley in their new ride!

Because our 1988 Volvo 240 was becoming unreliable, my parents had been looking for a replacement for some time. However, they decided to jump the gun after the engine died in the middle of the road the other day. Though we didn't have much time to carefully consider the choices, the RX 330 is really nice. I don't have any complaints so far.

Mom gave the Volvo 240 to charity because we didn't need that many cars. The Volvo has served us well for over 15 years and will be missed. On the other hand, the donation should save us a few hundred dollars in tax deductions. :-)

Tuesday, November 2, 2004

I voted!

I just got back from the polling station. This was my first time voting in an election. :-)

The lines were extremely long, but that wasn't an issue because the polls are legally required to stay open until the last person has voted. At least that's what I learned when I worked the polls in March. Though I received a provisional ballot because of an address change, everything else went without a hitch.

Update: The idiot from Texas somehow got re-elected. Judging by Bush's poor decisions, I'm not looking forward to the next four years. God help us all.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

MCCCC trip report

I've been working with on a graph theory paper with an SJSU professor in the past few months. The cool thing is that we were invited to attend the 18th Midwest Conference on Combinatorics, Cryptography and Computing and present our research. The conference was hosted at Rochester Institute of Technology this year. It was definitely a neat experience.

Day 1

Given the tight schedule, my parents picked me up from Berkeley right after lunch. I had to miss my Math 1A lecture as a result, although Prof. Haiman was cool with that. The plane landed at O'Hare in the evening. I couldn't help but notice how windy it was outside. No wonder Chicago is also called the "Windy City"!

We bought some souvenirs at the airport before catching our connecting flight to Rochester. Because it was almost 11 p.m. when we checked into our hotel, I didn't do much else other than proofread our paper.

Day 2

The three of us met up with Prof. Lee at RIT after breakfast. There was some free time, during which we took pictures around campus. The fall foliage was beautiful.

It was then our turn to present. I was a little nervous at first, but everyone said I did a great job. Speaking of which, my parents and I took the opportunity to listen to other speakers. The topics were fascinating but over my head.

Prof. Lee had other work to do and left for his flight back to San Jose after the conference. However, my family wanted to explore the area a bit more and decided to stay another night. The day ended with a nice dinner at a Chinese restaurant.

Day 3

Happy Halloween!

Our flight was in the early afternoon, leaving a few hours for sightseeing. The scenery along the Genesee River was incredible and made for some great pictures. This was the best part of the trip. The three of us then stopped at Quiznos for lunch. Their subs were delicious!

Dad wanted to visit Syracuse as well, but we were short on time and didn't want to miss our plane. The flight home was uneventful. Back in the Bay Area, my parents dropped me off directly at Berkeley as it was rather late.


Though we were in Rochester for academic reasons, the trip was still enjoyable. This was a new experience as I had never presented at a conference before. I also didn't know Rochester was so beautiful, especially in the fall. Looks like we'll have to go back there soon!

Currently listening to: "Saved by a Bell" by Mike Oldfield

Historical note: Pictures from the trip are available here.

Friday, October 15, 2004

R.I.P. Grandpa :-(

The week ended on a sad note as I found out my paternal grandfather, Bien-Chuan Chia, passed away from liver cancer a month ago. He was 80 years old. Because Dad was afraid this would affect my mood, he kept mum about it until I asked him about Grandpa's condition.

For those unaware, liver cancer is one of the worst forms of the disease; the prognosis is generally very poor. The doctor gave him two months to live, but he passed away just a few weeks later. Though I didn't see Bien-Chuan often as he spent most of his life in Taiwan, I'm still going to miss him. Rest in peace, Grandpa. :-(

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Happy 19th birthday to me!

I'm now 19 years old. It's hard to believe this is my last year as a teenager. As mentioned in the previous post, my parents got me a new Dell Dimension 3000 desktop as an early birthday present. I actually just finished setting it up. :-)

The day was otherwise uneventful. That said, my mother bought a large box of chocolate chip cookies for me to share with my suitemates. Everyone definitely loved them. Thanks, Mom!

Saturday, October 9, 2004

new Dell Dimension 3000 PC

Because the computer I've been using is now six years old, my parents decided to get me a brand new Dell Dimension 3000 desktop as an early birthday present. It has a 3 GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512 MB of RAM and 160 GB of storage. This rig is much faster than anything else I've ever had. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

I'm considering joining a distributed computing project, probably either or the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. Given that my new computer is so fast, the idle CPU cycles would go to waste otherwise. In any case, I can finally retire my old Pentium II box after all those years. :-)

Sunday, October 3, 2004

went to an extremely crappy dance

I just came back from a dance hosted by the Associated Students of the University of California. Though my roommate had invited me to a frat party earlier, I went to the dance instead because fraternities can be a little intimidating. But to be honest, the dance totally sucked.

For one thing, there was barely any information about the event. I looked everywhere but could only find a single flyer. To their credit, the ASUC dropped the $3 surcharge for people who bought tickets after the early bird deadline. However, that was where the good things ended.

Due to the lack of details, only a handful of people showed up. While I saw my friend Albert at the dance, he didn't stay very long. The music was repetitive and would randomly stop playing. There was little else to do as we weren't allowed to play the piano in the ballroom or use the Internet kiosks downstairs. Last but not least, the dance ended early when everyone lost interest. This was probably a blessing in disguise.

I wish I hadn't wasted $5 on such a boring event. Had I known this would happen, I wouldn't have gone even if it was free. You can read my full review of the dance here. Shame on you, ASUC.

Monday, August 30, 2004

my first class at Cal

The fall semester has officially started. I just came back from the Chemistry 1A lecture. It was my first college class ever!

Just as I expected, the class was very large. There were around 300 to 400 people in Pimentel Hall. This was also a new experience for me. The other thing is that Prof. Nitsche is totally hilarious. He certainly knows how to make freshmen feel welcome.

Of note is that courses are normally split into lectures and discussions. Some also have a lab section, depending on the subject. Unlike the lectures, the other sections usually have few people. Speaking of classes, I should probably start getting ready for Math 1A. :-)

Saturday, August 28, 2004

report of my first college dance

I just got back from the Dance & Casino Night. This was my first college dance and certainly a new experience. As the name of the event suggests, there were games like blackjack and roulette. I'm not really good at them and decided to just watch.

Of note is that there were no slow songs. I had never been to a dance that didn't have slow music. That was a little weird and didn't make much sense.

The event was supposed to end at midnight, but the dance floor was empty by 11:15 p.m. The DJ stopped the music at this point. Though it's not her fault that people leave, she should have kept the music going. Just my two cents. Feel free to read my review of the dance for more details.

In other news...

There was also a game night at the residential computing center. I got to play Doom 3 for the first time. The game was kind of scary but also pretty fun!

Currently playing: Doom 3

Sunday, August 22, 2004

first day of college!

The big day has arrived. I moved into the dorms at Berkeley this afternoon, and so begins a new chapter in my life.

One thing for sure is that college is very different from high school. Though I was nervous at first, I'm already getting used to the new environment. Speaking of which, my roommate Scott seems like a cool dude. The other six people in our suite are really nice as well. Oh yeah, and hot chicks are everywhere. ^_^

While the classes don't start until the 30th, new students are encouraged to attend Welcome Week to get a feel of the school. The schedule is filled with activities, including a dance on Friday evening. I'm pretty excited.

In other news...

The Lu family invited us to dinner at HomeTown Buffet. Everything was totally delicious. All of us then went to their house to hang out for the evening. The gathering was supposed to be last night, but the Lus agreed to move it to Friday because I wanted more time to prepare for my move. I truly appreciate their consideration.

Currently playing: The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions

Historical note: Pictures from Move-In Day are available here.

Monday, August 16, 2004

the anxiety is killing me...

So I'm moving to Berkeley in six days. The transition to college is one of the biggest changes in my life. Though it's very exciting, I'm also extremely nervous. The stress has been getting to me, especially considering that I had an anxiety attack after coming back from Alaska a few days ago. Yikes.

Having said that, everything will probably be fine. After all, almost every high school graduate goes to college!

In other news...

1. I finally got to try the chocolates I bought in Alaska. They were delicious and worth the price.

2. I recently got my own cell phone. :-)

Currently playing: Hoyle Puzzle Games (2003 edition)

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Alaska trip report

So my family just came back from Alaska. I know it's a little weird to go on another trip so soon, but Dad had some miles that were about to expire. Although we just went to the Pacific Northwest last month, I still had an awesome time.

Day 1

It was a somber morning as we had to bury my grandmother Pi-Tan first. The service was about an hour long and ended around 11 a.m. The three of us had lunch with two family friends before heading home to pack up.

The flight to Anchorage was fairly late. Upon checking into our hotel, Mom noticed our room smelled like cigarettes. How unpleasant. Finding the right person took a while, but they allowed us to change to another room. It was almost midnight when we were ready for bed.

Day 2

The morning began with a visit to Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve. The route took us through the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel. Because it has only one lane, traffic is limited to one direction and alternates at regular intervals. That was a cool experience.

At over 13 million acres, Wrangell–St. Elias is the largest national park in the United States. The view of the wilderness was spectacular. The downside is that mosquitoes were everywhere. I was bitten several times during our short stay here. Blah.

The journey brought us to Valdez (our destination for the next two nights) in the evening. This was a quiet little place; my parents and I checked into our hotel and had dinner at a Mexican restaurant. The food was delicious!

Day 3

Valdez marks the southern end of the Alaska pipeline, one of the most famous landmarks in the state. The 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is an impressive feat of engineering. The pipeline runs along the Dalton Highway and was a cool sight.

Dad took us to Worthington Glacier in the late afternoon. The glacier looked small from a distance, but we were surprised by its size when we got close. Upon returning to the parking lot, I noticed one of the car doors was open. Oops. To our relief, everything was accounted for. That was a close call.

Day 4

Our next destination was Fairbanks. Due to the distance, most of the day was spent driving. On the other hand, the scenery along the route was amazing and made the drive very worthwhile.

About 15 miles south of Fairbanks was North Pole. The town isn't related to the real North Pole but has a strong Christmas theme. The whimsical street names like Santa Claus Lane and Kris Kringle Drive made for some memorable photos. The funny thing is that we came across this place by chance. Sometimes the best things are unplanned.

Day 5

One thing I was looking forward to was crossing the Arctic Circle. Because most rental agencies don't allow their vehicles on unpaved roads - such as the Dalton Highway - we decided to book a tour. Our guide Tank (a cool guy with a cool name) was an outdoor enthusiast who knew everything about Alaska. Of note is that we were the only ones who signed up. That meant we got to take all of the extra food. Talk about VIP treatment!

The four of us arrived at the Arctic Circle after a four-hour drive. The only feature was a large wooden sign, but stopping here was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This was followed by another long drive back to Fairbanks. On the whole, the tour was my favorite part of the trip.

We said goodbye to Tank before heading to downtown Fairbanks for groceries. Speaking of which, I picked up a box of chocolates from Alaska Wild Berry Products at Fred Meyer. They caught my eye because of the unusual flavors. I can't wait to try them.

The fun ended when Dad got pulled over for speeding. It just happened that he was going very fast because of the downhill slope. This was rather unexpected, especially considering that we rarely saw police. The fine wasn't too steep but still put a damper on our mood. :-(

Our lodging for the night was a cabin in Cantwell. With a population of about 200 people, Cantwell was a desolate place. Despite the remoteness, the cabin wasn't too bad.

Day 6

I'm glad we bought our groceries the day before because the food was insanely expensive. For example, the full breakfast was around $16 according to the menu. Yikes!

After checking out of the cabin, my parents and I headed to Denali National Park and Preserve for another tour. We got to see all kinds of animals, such as bears, elk and moose. Denali was definitely another highlight of the trip. Like the Arctic Circle tour, this one was also around eight hours long. All of us completely exhausted by the day's end. Back in Anchorage, my family had a nice dinner at a Japanese restaurant before returning to the hotel for some well-deserved rest.

Day 7

Our flight home was in the afternoon. There was some spare time, during which we explored the downtown. I wanted to visit the Alaska Wild Berry Products store, but our time ran out. This was unfortunate because the factory tour and free samples sounded interesting. Oh well. :-(

The flight to San Francisco was uneventful. Our family friend Karen picked us up and gave us a ride home. I was totally exhausted at this point and went to bed shortly after unpacking.


Though we just came back from another trip, this one was no less exciting. The Arctic Circle tour was my favorite part by far. While the scenery was average, not many people can say they've crossed the Arctic Circle. Denali was also fun as we saw all kinds of wildlife. The memories from this trip will last years.

Alaska is one of the most unspoiled places in the world. Of course, the downside is that it gets extremely cold in the winter. It's certainly not a place I'd want to live for the rest of my life. That said, I wouldn't mind a vacation there every so often. :-)

Currently playing: Field & Stream: Trophy Bass 4

Historical note: Pictures from the trip are available here.

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

buried my grandmother today

It was an emotional day as we laid my maternal grandmother Pi-Tan to rest at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos. You may recall that she passed away two and a half months ago. Her funeral was held in Taiwan, but we asked my aunt Jill to bring her ashes back because she loved America.

The service at was a fairly small affair. The only attendees were Jill, the Shiehs and two close family friends. The ceremony was about an hour long and a sobering experience. All of us then split up for lunch. I suddenly realized just how precious life really is. I'm going to miss Grandma for sure. :-(

In other news...

On a happier note, my family is leaving for Alaska later in the afternoon. This will be our second summer trip!

Currently watching: The War of the Worlds

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Happy birthday, Casey!

Our family friend Mei's son Casey just turned 10 years old. She organized a big party at her house and asked us to come over. It was just me and Mom as Dad has to work as usual.

Aside from Eddie and a few high school girls, the guests were young children and their parents. Though I mostly played games on my laptop, the party was lots of fun. I was definitely honored to be invited. Summer has been great so far, especially considering that my family just came back from an awesome trip to the Pacific Northwest earlier this month.

Currently listening to: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by J. S. Bach

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

level 99 firemaking in RuneScape Classic

I finally reached level 99 firemaking in RuneScape Classic after a long grind. Here is a screenshot of me leveling up. I know this achievement is kind of pointless, but having two 99's certainly gives me bragging rights. :-)

It's a shame RuneScape Classic is no longer being updated. Sometimes newer isn't better.

Currently playing: RuneScape Classic

Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Pacific Northwest trip report

"Looks like you're about to declare war on Canada." -- me to a kid in Port Angeles, on his firework stash

I just got back from Oregon and Washington with my parents. This was our first visit to the Pacific Northwest in years. It was one of our best vacations ever!

Day 1

The trip began with an afternoon flight to Portland. The plane landed at Portland International Airport a little less than two hours later. Dad rented an SUV and took us to our hotel, located in a quiet place in the suburbs. Lots of people were sitting outside enjoying the fresh air. The nice weather made for a perfect stroll around the area. I then spent the evening playing Field & Stream: Trophy Bass 4 and Hell to Pay on my laptop.

Day 2

The first stop of the day was Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in Washington. The 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens was one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in modern times. Dad knew I loved geology and thought I'd like this place. The view from the Johnston Ridge Observatory was breathtaking - pictures don't do it justice at all. This was followed by lunch at Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center as it was almost noon.

We checked into our hotel in Enumclaw and headed to Mt. Rainier National Park afterwards. The mountain was beautiful, especially from a distance. One trail led to Ohanapecosh Hot Springs, the site of a former resort. The springs are quite small but still had water bubbling up.

Day 3

Happy 4th of July!

The three of us went back to Mt. Rainier National Park after checking out of our hotel. One place I really liked was the Sunrise Visitor Center. There was topographic jigsaw puzzle laid out on the table at the gift shop. Though it was quite a challenge, Mom and I managed to put some pieces together.

Dad took us to Olympic National Park in the late afternoon. The highlight of our visit was Olympic Hot Springs. The round trip was a little over 4.8 miles, but that wasn't a problem because the sun sets late at this time of the year. Mom suggested soaking our feet in the water, which we did. There was virtually nobody else the whole time. It was a surreal experience.

Our final destination of the day was Port Angeles. Lots of people started lighting fireworks after sunset. Some even shot them from their boats in the harbor. This was unlike anything in California. But because we didn't know fireworks were legal here, I didn't buy any and had to miss out. This was my biggest regret of the trip.

The city's own fireworks display was also nice. Someone blared "Take It to the Limit" during the finale, adding to the atmosphere. On the whole, Port Angeles was quite enjoyable. Looks like we'll have to come back here in the future.

Day 4

We took a walk along the harbor and made a short stop at Safeway before heading to Vancouver, Washington. The beauty of the Pacific Northwest made the drive worthwhile. Upon our arrival in Vancouver, Mom noticed there were traffic enforcement cameras at every intersection. Holy crap. Just how much money do they make from citations?

Day 5

Our journey brought us back to Oregon. A sign for a U-pick blueberry farm caught our eye as we passed Hood River. The berries weren't only dirt cheap, but also juicy and delicious. The downside is that we didn't have anything to clean them with. Speaking of which, Mom said her tongue felt numb after eating the berries. Yikes!

One of the best-known attractions in Oregon is Multnomah Falls. The three-tiered waterfall was an incredible sight and made for some great pictures. The nearby Multnomah Falls Trail was perfect for a hike. I also enjoyed browsing the gift shop at the center even though nothing was cheap.

The next stop was the Bonneville Fish Hatchery in Cascade Locks. Unlike most hatcheries, this one was beautiful and had a natural feel. It was a nice place to relax before heading to Portland.

Day 6

The flight back to San Francisco was in the early afternoon. Given the schedule, there wasn't much to do besides check out the airport shops. I wish the trip wasn't over so soon, but all good things must end.


All in all, this was one of our most memorable vacations in years. Hiking through the forest to Olympic Hot Springs was a rewarding experience. The same goes for our stay in Port Angeles and picking blueberries. It's hard to say which was my favorite part of the trip. The Pacific Northwest is easily one of the most scenic places in the world. I wouldn't mind moving there when I retire.

Currently listening to: "Take It to the Limit" by the Eagles

Historical note: Pictures from the trip are available here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

on being a RuneScape player moderator

I just accepted an invitation from Jagex to become a RuneScape player moderator. This means I can now send priority reports and mute players for serious rule violations. In addition to having a silver crown next to my name when sending messages, I can also post on the official forums as a free user. Besides these things, player moderators don't get any special perks.

For those concerned about us abusing our power, there are guidelines on when we can mute people. I can't disclose much else as the player moderator manual is confidential, but you needn't worry about being muted as long as you follow the rules. :-)

Currently playing: RuneScape

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

back from CalSO

I just got back from the Cal Student Orientation with my parents. This was my first real taste of college life as I had to spend a night in the dorms. I was somewhat nervous but soon felt at home after finding out my roommate spoke Mandarin too.

The two-day event began with us meeting our counselors. They then divided us into small groups for the campus tour. The counselors also talked about life at Berkeley and went over things like majors, course selection, campus safety and student services. College is very different from high school, that's for sure. On the whole, CalSO was a worthwhile experience.

There was also an orientation for parents and supporters. Just as going to college is a major milestone in my life, it's also a big deal for Mom and Dad!

Currently watching: The Matrix Reloaded

Friday, June 11, 2004

done with high school

I've officially graduated from Los Altos High School. It's hard to believe how fast time goes. Class of 2004 forever!

Graduation report

The commencement was held on the athletic field. The band played "Pomp and Circumstance" as we filed in. The school officials and valedictorians then spoke about our achievements and our future. After everything was said and done, the seniors were called to the stage to collect their diplomas. This was the moment we had all been waiting for.

Of note is that there was no senior prank this year. Because some past pranks have gone too far and resulted in disciplinary action, our class decided to play it safe and ditch the idea altogether. Though several people blew up a beach ball and passed it around during the speeches, the commencement was overall uneventful.

Looking back

On the whole, my favorite part of high school was Mr. Shaull's choir class. I never knew it could be so much fun. One of my regrets is being so reluctant to take it when I first had the chance. I'll also miss our physics teacher Mr. Randall and his sense of humor. He certainly knew how to lighten up a bad day and make a difficult subject enjoyable.

Another great memory was when our English class threw a surprise party for Ms. Bang in 9th grade. Some of the girls had found out her birthday and decided to bake her a cake. Everyone then wished her a happy birthday as she walked in the door. She still gave us homework afterwards. Go figure.

Outside of academics, the dances were pretty fun too. Though I only went to the non-formal ones, they were always something to look forward to. The back-to-school dance in August was my favorite. There better be dances in college. :-)

One nice thing about LAHS is that bullying was rare. Even the guy who picked on me all the time at Egan generally left me alone. I'm guessing it was just a phase for him. To be fair, teenagers don't always have the best judgment.

Speaking of which, I got in trouble myself on more than one occasion. During my freshman year, Mrs. Roth sent me to the office for saying "shit" one too many times. The assistant principal said I could have been suspended but only gave me a warning as we knew each other fairly well. It's good to have friends in high places. *grin*

Another time was when I showed my friend Scott a complaint generator during a world literature workshop. In my infinite wisdom, I entered Mrs. McClelland as an example. The timing was unfortunate as she just happened to walk past us. Awkward.

There was also an incident with the net send command. I was bored after finishing an online exercise and decided to advertise RuneScape to my chemistry class. But what I didn't realize is that the message went out to every computer on the network and not just those in the classroom. Imagine my surprise when Ms. Bradley told me what happened. I still can't believe I only got a stern warning from her. Good times.

Perhaps the worst thing that happened was getting kicked out of Spanish III during my junior year. I was afraid I wouldn't get into a good college, but things turned out otherwise. It's nice to know schools don't just look at grades.

All in all, my four years at Los Altos High School went extremely well. I'm going to miss everyone for sure.

The obligatory celebration

The day ended with a school-sponsored party called Grad Night that runs from 8 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. I decided not to go as the tickets were about $100 per person. Instead, my family had a nice dinner at Sundance the Steakhouse in Palo Alto. I loved the Australian lobster tail that Mom ordered. It was very expensive - $42 to be exact - but turned out to be the best part of the meal. I definitely can't complain.

Currently listening to: Duke Nukem 3D: Atomic Edition soundtrack - "Departure" by Lee Jackson

Historical note: Our pictures from the commencement are on Flickr. The official pictures have been removed from the LAHS website but are available at the Internet Archive.

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

choir party report

So we had another party in the choir room today during lunch. However, this party wasn't quite like the one in December. The biggest difference was the lack of atmosphere. There were fewer people, none of whom stayed long or got up to dance. I'm guessing it's because the finals are coming up.

Though the mood was less festive, everyone still had a great time. I even brought my laptop to show people the Quake demos I downloaded. That's as geeky as it gets. ^_^

Currently playing: Quake Mission Pack 2: Dissolution of Eternity

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

spring choral concert report

Tonight was the LAHS spring choral concert. The event was held in the school auditorium, an extremely convenient location. Like the holiday concert in December, the entire choral department was involved.

The choirs sang a variety of songs before performing Mass of the Children together as Choral Union. I should mention that I had also joined the Varsity Men's Glee after having enjoyed Chorale so much. The concert was definitely a great experience.

The nice thing is that Dad was able to make it this time. He actually rescheduled his business trip in order to come. I really appreciate him doing this for me. Dad even took some pictures to send to Mr. Shaull. Although my maternal grandmother had just passed away a few days ago, I did my best to not let that affect my performance. On the whole, the event was a huge success.

Currently listening to singing: Mass of the Children by John Rutter

Historical note: Pictures from the concert are available here.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

why I didn't go to prom

So yesterday was the LAHS prom. I'm probably one of the few people who stayed home.

I'll start by saying that things were a little different this year. The school officials banned limousines and other private transportation, much to the chagrin of the senior class. Though they compensated for this by reducing the price from $75 to $50 per person, many students were still shaking their heads.

But that's not why I didn't go. I could care less how we got there. The main reason was the price - $50 is still a lot for a three-hour dance. The back-to-school dance was lots of fun and cost only a fraction. It's not like prom could be that much better. I also didn't have a date and couldn't be bothered to find one. The fact that my grandmother had just passed away a few days ago didn't help the mood.

For those who did attend prom, I hope you had a great time. :-)

Historical note: Prom pictures have been removed from the LAHS website but are available at the Internet Archive.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

R.I.P. Grandma :-(

Uncle Harrison just called with some bad news: my maternal grandmother Pi-Tan Yang has passed away from complications of pneumonia. She was 84 years old. I can't say this was totally unexpected because she had been very ill for the past few weeks due to heart disease.

Pi-Tan was one of those special people who have touched our lives. I'll never forget her gentle spirit and non-confrontational attitude. Visiting my grandparents on weekends always made for wonderful family time. However, my favorite memory was when we took them to a Mexican restaurant in Saratoga called Chicken Salsa for lunch. That is something I'll always cherish.

Though my grandmother's passing wasn't a complete surprise, the news still hit me pretty hard. There are difficult days ahead, especially for Mom. Your support and prayers are truly appreciated.

Rest in peace, Grandma. You'll be greatly missed. :-(

In other news...

On a more positive note, my cousin Cathy just turned 12 years old. I'd like to wish her a happy birthday and hope this won't be too hard on her.

Currently playing: Shrak

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

so I got into Berkeley...

I found out last week that I was accepted into UC Berkeley for the fall. That was quite a surprise!

At first I thought it was an early April Fools joke when Dad told me the news. I had never even considered applying to such a prestigious school. However, Dad felt it was worth a try and sent them a copy of my application. I guess it wasn't a bad idea!

I'm confident in my abilities and decided to enroll at Berkeley right away. Though I wanted to keep a low profile at first and not tell anyone, somebody must have let the cat out of the bag because several people at LAHS have congratulated me. I figured I might as well share it with the world. :-)

Monday, March 29, 2004

my thoughts on RuneScape 2

Jagex just released one of the biggest RuneScape updates ever. Despite its name, RuneScape 2 is more of a new game engine than a sequel. The game now has true 3D graphics, an updated combat system and many other new features.

The new version actually looks pretty nice. However, after trying it for a while, I decided it wasn't for me and transferred my items back to the old game. I'll probably regret this later on as Jagex has said that RuneScape Classic won't get any more updates. Oh well.

Currently playing: RuneScape

Tuesday, March 2, 2004

on being a poll worker

I spent the whole day at the polls for the California primary elections. This was part of a Civics assignment in which we had to participate in two community activities and share our experiences. One option was to work at the polls. I thought it sounded interesting and decided to sign up.

While I haven't registered to vote, that apparently doesn't preclude working at a polling station. Yesterday was the training session, during which we went over the policies and procedures. The class lasted about three hours.

The elections began today at 7 a.m. I had to get up an hour earlier to help set things up. The work was harder than I expected. Because the polls are legally required to stay open until the last person has voted, I couldn't leave until 9 p.m. and was completely exhausted. The other team members had to yell at me a few times to keep me awake!

Long hours aside, everything went extremely well. I'm sure Ms. Contreras will be proud of me. :-)

Currently playing: Hacx

Monday, January 5, 2004

my last semester at LAHS

School just started for me. It's hard to believe this is my last semester at Los Altos High School. I'm actually starting to miss it already - especially Mr. Shaull's choir class. :-(

Speaking of which, there was some bad news in Chorale: our accompanist Mrs. Hebel passed away on New Year's Day after a battle with cancer. According to Mr. Shaull, she has played the piano for over 60 years. I didn't see Mrs. Hebel very often but have always admired her musical talent. Our thoughts are with her family during this difficult time.

Now that I'm on my last semester, the biggest challenge is to not catch senioritis. Even though I've submitted my applications, most colleges require the final transcript to complete the process. I guess I have to keep working hard. :P

Currently playing: Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold

Thursday, January 1, 2004

a quiet New Year

It's so nice to ring in the new year just after coming back from a vacation. Because we're all still exhausted, our New Year's Eve was uneventful. On the other hand, my aunts Wei-Jen and Wei-Fang are still staying with us. It's going to be hard to say goodbye to them when they head back to Taiwan in three days.

2003 in review

Despite a stressful spring semester, the past year went fairly well. The best part of 2003 was definitely our recent trip to Southern California and Las Vegas. That was really fun, especially considering that we don't travel with other people very often.

The worst thing that happened was when my RuneScape account got hacked in April. I know it's only a game, but losing my bank still kind of sucks. It doesn't help that Jagex doesn't return stolen items. At least I got level 99 cooking before getting hacked.

All that having been said, I'm looking forward to an exciting new year. Rock on!

Currently playing: Quake Mission Pack 1: Scourge of Armagon