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.

Conclusions

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 distributed.net 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.