Blog: Entries From 2007

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Happy New Year! - Monday, January 1, 2007
Last night Priscilla and I had dinner at Thomas' New Year's Eve party. Today I went with my family to a luncheon at the Fong's house. I'm really getting my fill of food.

Happy New Year to everybody! Let's make this year count.
Priscilla's Slave Day - Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Priscilla is evil.

Thank you for one hell of a crazy-turned-romantic day of sweeping me off my feet.
The Good Shepherd - Thursday, January 4, 2007
Kicking off the final days before the new school quarter, I met up with Sophonias at the Mann theatre to watch The Good Shepherd, a movie that has garnered generally favorable critical review. I gotta say- I haven't been so bored watching something since The Da Vinci Code.

The dialogue in The Good Shepherd was hard to follow (and there was way too much of it), and the plot was bland. I don't know how I made it through the two and a half hours without falling asleep. I suppose I would've understood the movie if I were more intellectually able, or had more appreciation of history. But alas.

On a completely unrelated but also morose note, I got an email from eBay announcing that seller fees will be going up at the end of the month. Way to start off the new year by sticking it to sellers. I've grown increasingly dissatisfied with eBay over the years, so I'm going to be looking into Yahoo! Auctions, which is completely free, for future trading.
How to Go to MIT for Free - Friday, January 5, 2007
Intended as an act of "intellectual philanthropy," MIT will provide free access to course material including notes, video and audio lectures, and homework assignments for all 1,800 of its courses by the end of the year. The online program, called OpenCourseWare, requires no registration and is available to anybody with internet access and a desire to learn.

News article here.
Oops, I Ditched Church! - Sunday, January 7, 2007
The plan today was for Priscilla to pick me up from school and the two of us head down to Chinese Bible Church, where her uncle Donald is the senior pastor. I had checked directions on Mapquest and knew we needed to go south on the 405 freeway and take the Santa Monica Blvd exit.

So there we were, cruising down the 405, and somehow both of us failed to spot the right exit. What we did spot was a junction sign that said Santa Monica, which we followed and found ourselves suddenly on the 10 freeway. We quickly got off and tried to get back to the 405 but couldn't find any on-ramp, so we ended up going south on Sepulveda Blvd which I knew intersected with Santa Monica Blvd. But since we were already unknowingly south of our destination, and I have a good sense of direction but a bad sense of distance (and no familiarity with the area), we just kept going... and going.

So faithfully following Sepulveda's curvature, we passed through Mar Vista and Culver City, Westchester and the famous LAX, and El Segundo. By this time we were half an hour late for church and were pretty sure that we had missed our destination, so we turned on a street trying to get back to the 405, and instead found ourselves at the end of the road at a place known as... the beach. Apparently the sight of the waves rolling onto the sandy shore was too captivating, and we realized that if we did manage to find our way to church, the church service would be almost over, so we decided to stay.

So the moral of the story is: a GPS unit is really useful to have in a car. And also that God (with his sense of humor and all) works in mysterious but wonderful ways. I don't think it was an accident that both of us missed the turnoff and that we ended up 20 miles off course at a beautiful beach with beautiful weather. I had my Purpose Driven Life book, so we finished our study right there and had a good time of spiritual discussion. I think we got more out of our discussion than we would've if we had made it to church.

So that wonderful winter vacation is finally over. It's been great hanging out with people almost every day, crashing (Christian) parties, strengthening relationships with friends and family, and growing in spiritual wisdom. Aside from having to wake up early once more, I'm (mostly) excited about starting a new school quarter. Still, I wish vacation had been longer, since for once I didn't spend all of it loafing around. I even managed to study for my next classes, albeit only two chapters when my goal was two books. We'll see how that goes.

Here's to a new year!
Blogging More - Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I've been blogging a lot. In the first 10 days of January, I've written a tenth of the total number of entries I wrote last year. That's a decent start for 2007.

The reason for the increase? Perhaps my life is more exciting now, or more worthy of me rambling about. Or maybe it's just a subconcious act of penitence. :)
Working Out - Thursday, January 11, 2007
So I finally got off my lazy behind and went to the gym with David (aka Kung Pao), who was my workout buddy last year. Apparently he hasn't been going since we stopped dorming together. We really should start going regularly again- it's a lot easier to go if you have a partner... or if you have the discipline for it (cough).

David got tired after an hour and went home, but I stayed for half an hour past that. It's funny how it's such a struggle for me to go work out, but once I'm there, time flies and I don't want to leave. When I finally got back to my dorm room I realized that I had left my cell phone at the gym, so I had to run back there again. Well, at least I got my exercise for the day.

I'm definitely going to be sore for a couple days. And I'm supposed to work out with Priscilla on Saturday. Doh!
Weekending - Sunday, January 14, 2007
Yesterday I went with Priscilla and her parents to the YMCA. I gotta hand it to them- they're pretty good at dedicating time to exercise almost every day. I really need to go to the gym more. My arms are really sore after working out.

Today Priscilla and I joined Steve and Shirley for lunch at Thai BBQ. They're going to be mentoring us in our relationship. Priscilla and I also had our first discussion for our study of "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life."

Tomorrow a bunch of people are getting together for Chi's goodbye party. Aaron planned all of it.

Somehow I need to find time to get done all the homework and studying that I've been putting off...
Chi's Party - Monday, January 15, 2007
A bunch of us met up at China Star to kick off Chi's going away party. From there we headed to a nearby convalescent home where most of us split up into groups of two to go talk to residents. Crescentia, Ezekiel, and I stayed in the dining room and played piano and sang for the few (sleeping) residents in there. I guess it's a good thing nobody was listening because I messed up playing quite a bit. A few keys on the piano also didn't work at all...

After that we headed down to Priscilla's house to chillax and drink very sugary strawberry smoothies(?) We ended the long day at the food court at the mall where I had spaghetti with some pretty gross-looking meatballs. Aaron brought me and Christina back to UCLA. This weekend has been pretty exhausting. I'm struggling to type all this because I'm pretty out of it right now.

I also fried my phone charger. It's very dry in the Valley, so I'm getting shocked from touching everything from car doors to my dad's laptop. When I was trying to detach the charger plug from my phone, a spark from my finger contacted the plug, travelled up the wire and caused a huge spark to blow out of the charger base and instantly kill the thing. At least there's a large supply of new ones on eBay. For now, I have to use my car charger coupled with my dad's car-wall converter.
Homework - Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Understanding how students like to procrastinate and start getting busy towards the end of the quarter, my Computational Linguistics professor assigned the hardest assignments for the beginning of the course. His rationale is that after these couple assignments are done with, it'll be smoother sailing as far as his class is concerned, which I think is a good idea.

We're doing programming in OCaml, and fortunately I've used it before in my Programming Languages class. The first assignment ended up taking me 2 hours to do. A lot of it was just copying and pasting and modifying a couple lines of code. I think I just might enjoy this class. Seriously though, I've always had a thing for natural language processing and the like. I hope I get a lot out of this class.

On the other hand, I was up till 3:30 last night doing my homework for Algorithms and now I'm super-tired and couldn't stay awake in class. I guess that's my punishment for spending the whole three-day weekend hanging out with people.
Sojourners - Thursday, January 18, 2007
I recently found out that Shirley, Steve's fiancee, works and lives close to UCLA, so I arranged with her to get a ride to Sojourners tonight. It was great conversing with her in the car, and finally being able to attend Sojourners during the school year. I just might keep coming back with her every week. And it's a win-win situation: my being in the car allows her to use the carpool lane and beat rush-hour traffic!

So I got back to school around 10:30 and started the EE 103 homework that I've been putting off (for semi-valid reasons), but I was soon distracted by phone calls from Priscilla and then Chi! Which wasn't a bad thing. My social life has really taken off in the past few months, but I don't want it to interfere (too much) with school. Not that I don't enjoy talking and hanging out with people. But it's important to find the right balance.
Saddleback Church - Sunday, January 21, 2007
I had the opportunity yesterday with Priscilla, her mom, and around 15 people from MBCLA to visit Saddleback Church, the church founded by the famous pastor Rick Warren (author of The Purpose Driven Life), 75 miles away in Lake Forrest.

We began our visit with an architectural tour of the very nice campus, that looked more like a resort than a church with its rolling hills, giant palm trees, a water fountain bisecting the main stairway, an upscale cafe and plaza, and elegantly designed and multi-themed buildings. At first glance, one might be quick to denounce such luxuriousness as worldliness or a misuse of God's resources. But hearing of how Rick Warren believed that a church is not about buildings but about people, how they did not have a building to call their own for 15 years, and some pondering on my part helped me understand their intentions.

For a church that's grown so big (22,000+ members) and has six services plus dozens of ministries per week, a large campus is a must, complete with facilities for food and relaxation. Because let's face it- some people spending the whole day at church are bound to get hungry and tired. Something I found interesting is that Saddleback's main priority is reaching non-Christians: the unchurched and those with negative church experiences. To those people, the upscale (Orange County, need I say more?) and inviting atmosphere of the campus offers an immediate welcome to those already hesitant to set foot upon the grounds of a church. Members of the church are warm and welcoming, and are glad to volunteer their time serving in ministries of all kinds. In fact Saddleback has only a couple hundred paid staff, and several thousand volunteers.

We concluded the day with a visit to the huge worship center where pastor Doug Fields spoke on control of your life vs. faith in Christ. He was funny, animated, and his messsage really spoke to my heart. It was interesting to see that he used only a few verses from the Bible, and members were not expected to have their own Bibles (nor were Bibles provided). Prayer was also not much of a focus, with only one prayer said at the end of the service. But again, considering again the goal to reach non-Christians, these can be good methods to communicate the Gospel to them in a way that is not threatening and still meaningful and true. Our tour guide did say that Saddleback has individual ministries that delve more into specific ares of Bible study and life issues, but we didn't have time to check out any of them. Saddleback has been successful in leading thousands to Christ. My hope for them is that once they have found Christ, they will continue to grow in faith, maturity, and love. Seeing how people at Saddleback worship and serve was greatly encouraging to me.
Upgrades - The Technical Details - Tuesday, January 23, 2007
This entry is a little redundant, but as I said on the homepage, I'm in the process of revising the layout on this site. If you don't like gory technical details (I'm thinking of one person in particular ;p) feel free to stop reading here! I promise I won't be sad.

Yesterday I transferred my domain registration and hosting to DreamHost. The transfer from GoDaddy failed a few times because I didn't know my domain's authentication code, my domain was locked, and private registration was on. But once I got around those, respectively, everything was finished within a few hours. It normally takes a few days, but GoDaddy allowed me to confirm the transfer on their end, and it went through immediately. DreamHost automatically changed the nameservers to their own, so no more Netfirms, unless I wanted to change them back (haha!).

Migrating the site went almost without a hitch. The hardest part was figuring out how to export and import the MySQL database. Aside from that, I only had to change a variable in my scripts to allow interfacing to DreamHost's MySQL server.

So now I'm good on my domain registration and hosting for another year. I'll be working on the layout and adding new articles in the next couple weeks. I think.
Sojourners - Thursday, January 25, 2007
I got a ride out to Sojourners with Shirley again. Priscilla gave her testimony, and her friend Justin and his girlfriend Jacky came. They're really cool people. I hope they come back again; Priscilla can bribe them with music.

Today we had a Survivor/Fear Factor themed social arranged by our unofficial activities coordinator Aaron. Man, he's got some crazy fun ideas in that head of his. I can see why he's in charge of socials.

I was supposed to stay up to do homework, but I'm really out of it today, so I'm just going to sleep. I've been falling asleep in class every day this week. I'm going through somewhat of an emotional and physical rut. Hopefully sleeping early for once will help turn that around. Oh and catching up on homework over the weekend.
Getting a Passport - Saturday, January 27, 2007
Priscilla and her parents wanted to get me (as in pay for) a US Passport so that I can travel abroad and come back to the US without being detained, interrogated, and shot... or whatnot. It was supposed to be a surprise, but she accidentally blurted it out on Thursday. So yeah, that's what we did yesterday.

I really annoy people sometimes with my pickiness and habit of questioning authority. Sometimes those are good qualities to have, but other times it does more harm than is really necessary. There's always a way to disagree with and confront people in a way that is productive. I need to find that balance.
MySpace - Wednesday, January 31, 2007
I think I've reached a new low. I've done something I never thought I would do. I got a MySpace.

It's all Priscilla's fault! She convinced me that it would be a good avenue to socialize with people from Sojourners, and she's right- socializing is cool. But that doesn't mean I'll think any more highly of the programmatical and stylistic junkyard that MySpace is. For one, it was extremely aggravating for me to customize my profile, having to use lame CSS hacks and whatnot. No wonder the vast majority of people (with little technical knowhow) on MySpace use predesigned layouts or layout generators.

So in the midst of socializing, I'll be writing about the many ways in which MySpace falls short. The AIM conversation below pretty much sums it up:

Me: i'm really ashamed of myself this time
Ray: why
Me: i
Me: got
Me: a myspace
Ray: .....
Ray: i'm never talking to you again
Rut - Sunday, February 4, 2007
I was feeling pretty crappy last week. I couldn't stay awake in class, concentrate on my studies, or understand the material. I skipped a class, didn't turn in a couple assignments, a even received a pretty vocal email from a professor for completing only half of my homework. I guess in a way I was getting depressed.

Priscilla changed that. Tuesday night I emailed her saying I wouldn't be going to Sojourners because I was feeling really down and having a tough week. On Wednesday I came back from class and was surprised to find her waiting in front of my door. She's pretty good at getting people to help with her surprises (in this case, my roommate) without spilling the beans to me (except that time with the passport ;p). So we hung out and she studied with me to make sure that I didn't squander any more time. She even brought me energy snacks and vitamin water! After her visit I've been feeling a lot better and, after a good night's rest, was actually able to sit through classes without dozing off.

I was too busy to go home for the weekend, so yesterday she came down to UCLA again (not unannounced) and we studied and did our Spiritual Disciplines study that we had to postpone (oops). Today I've been doing schoolwork all day. This weekend has been the most productive I've had in quite a while, and I feel like I'm getting back on track. Things will be ok.

I'm really thankful to God for giving me such a caring friend and spiritual partner. I guess even I can be emotional sometimes, and it's nice to have a shoulder to lean on and somebody who can help me get back on my feet. I hope I'll be able to do the same for her. Thanks, Silly Goose. :)
Windows Vista Fun - Thursday, February 8, 2007
Vista is all the rage! Despite what some haters might be claiming, Windows Vista is not a ripoff of Mac OS X. Here's proof.

Oh and here's a clip of a Vista tech demo that I thought was amusing.

I have the option of downloading Vista Business Edition (retails for $300) for free from my school's Microsoft-alliance program. But I don't know if I really want to...
Trials - Monday, February 12, 2007
A life without trials. What a Utopian bliss that would be. But none of us will experience that- not in this life, anyway. We all have conflicts, make stupid decisions, and get ourselves into trouble. What matters is how we deal with those trials, the experience we gain, and how we approach the future.

If you're a Christian you can take comfort from the words of Romans 8:28, that all things work for the good of those who love God. God is sovereignly in control of every situation, and while it is important for us to do our best, we ultimately place our trust in him. Nothing happens that is not part of God's plan, and just because we can't see past the mire around us doesn't mean that he doesn't have the best planned for us. What we think is best is often not what God thinks is best.
Resolved for the Weekend - Friday, February 16, 2007
I'm leaving in a couple hours for the 4-day Resolved conference in Long Beach. I'm pretty excited- I know the conference will be a lot of fun. I really hope that I get a lot out of it, and not fall asleep during every session like I did last year. =(

I also hope that I'll have some time to do homework and study. I have two midterms next week, woohoo.
Resolved 2007 - Monday, February 19, 2007
The Resolved conference was... tiring. Uplifting. Fulfilling. Worth every minute.

This year I managed to not fall asleep too much, i.e. only during the first couple sessions, so I got so much more out of it than last year. The worship was once again phenominal. And I gained so much insight from speakers Rick Holland, John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, C.J. Mahaney, and John Piper.

So much happened during the four days we were there, but I don't have time to write about it all, nor do I want this entry to turn into a 50-paragraph exposition. The most convicting thing I took away was from Steve Lawson's message on the cost of being Jesus' disciple, found in Luke 14:25-35. Jesus said that if we do not put everything before him, we are not following him. That really hit me in the gut.

Way too often I make earthly things my priority, leaving my spiritual life on the back burner. I claim Jesus as my Lord, but my actions don't reflect it! He must come before and guide the course for all else- before school, finances, work, the future, and even those people whom I hold most dear. Priscilla and I have enjoyed being together, but often we've found ourselves wondering how to put God first in this relationship. Now I think I know. Put God first in your own life, and everything else will naturally follow.

To sum it up: Resolved rocked my socks.
Resolutions - Monday, February 26, 2007
The words from the Resolved conference still echo in my mind. I want to live a life that is pleasing to God, and make decisions that honor him. In so many ways I fall short of that. That is only human. But to be complacent is a sin.

In line with Jonathan Edwards' 70 resolutions, and in trying to live a God-centered life, I have composed a (somewhat shorter) list of key points that I think I need to work on most. I tried to be a little more specific than Edwards was, and I expect my list will change over time as need be. (But the one I'm posting here I won't modify)

1. never to stay up past 3am without an academic reason.
2. to as quickly as possible discard every impure sexual thought that enters my mind.
3. to read my Bible every day.
4. to pray every day. And not just those "rub-a-dub-dub, thanks for the grub" prayers.
5. to be unashamed to address my shortcomings and faults.
6. to speak the truth.
7. to not praise God with hypocritic lips.
8. to be patient with everyone.
9. to treat my parents with the kind of love they show to me.
10. to repent sincerely when I break one of these resolutions, and to desire and strive for change.
Uh Oh - Sunday, March 4, 2007
I haven't gotten my blood pressure measured in a couple years, but I assumed I was doing ok because of my strict dietary regimen. But my mom measured my blood pressure today, and it came out high. She said it wasn't good at all for my age. I hope I'm not developing hypertension (chronic high blood pressure) like my dad. Both sides of my family are ripe with history of cardiovascular problems, so heredity is not on my side.

But heredity is never all that's to blame. Though I'm ok with my diet, I'm terrible with exercising and sleeping. It's time for some serious changes. I'm going to work out more and squeeze in some cardio. And I'll have to be more disciplined about going to bed. No more of this 2-3 a.m. business.

And if you thought I was a health-freak with food before, you're gonna find me even harder to deal with now (sorry Pris). But now I have a legit reason to be so picky. ;p I guess that means I can't even have unhealthy snacks.. even when I'm hungry. And I get hungry a lot. :(
Men vs. Women - Friday, March 9, 2007
This narrative about how men and women differ is hilarious, and strikingly true. The whole site has some pretty great stuff on it. I stumbled upon it when looking for riddles today.
Sticking It Out - Thursday, March 15, 2007
School's going alright. Tomorrow will wrap up the last week before finals. My hardest final is on Monday, so all my efforts are going into that class. I'm doing well in my other classes, but I have another final and a project due on Tuesday.

I caught a cold sometime last week which evolved from a mere sore throat to congestion, headache, coughing, a slight fever, and eventually very severe asthma-like lung inflammation that resulted in wheezing and shortness of breath from even just walking to the bathroom. For the first time in several years, I found myself using my inhaler more than once in a day. It helped, but not well, because what I had wasn't exactly asthma.

Fortunately, thank God, that bad part lasted only a couple days. I'm not entirely well, but it's only mild sinus problems now.

These past couple weeks I've found myself forced to evaluate the direction of my life. I can't just keep being content to let the current carry me along. Pretty soon I'll be graduating, and going into the workplace, and possibly supporting a family (gasp, me and kids?). I can't keep being apathetic, and I have to be wiser about the decisions I make, for they won't affect just me. I need to be proactive about improving myself, but most importantly I need to be relying on Christ who gives me each day to live.

The title for my post comes from a comment my Linguistics professor made to me after class today. He told me that he was glad that I stuck it out through the course. This was because I had bombed a couple assignments in the beginning of the course, by skipping problems, when everybody else was acing them. I hadn't gone in for help when he made himself available, and that made him really angry and he actually told me that I should drop the class. But I told him I would change, and I studied harder, and made sure to get help when I needed it. I eventually made up completely for my grades by doing extra credit problems on the later assignments. That class is the only one I can already say for sure that I will get an A in.

Life is like that, too. You'll fall, sooner or later. But when you do, don't wallow in your misery, get up! Learn from your mistakes, and use every experience to make yourself better. Stick it out, and do nothing less than your best. In the end, I want to be able to say that I didn't waste my life, but that I made each day count.
Scary Dream - Sunday, March 18, 2007
I had the scariest dream ever.

I was 3 days late on my credit card payment so they billed me almost $1000 in interest charges.

I woke up and went straight to my computer to check my account. Fortunately I always pay right when the statement comes out. ;p
I Didn't Fail EE 103 - Wednesday, March 21, 2007
EE 103, Numerical Computing, was the only class that I wasn't sure if I would pass or not. I was lost throughout the entire quarter, and I completely BS'd the final despite studying nonstop from morning till night the two days prior. Somehow I managed to pass, and with a C+ too. I don't know how I pulled that off. I really don't. Somebody must love me.
Shutdown Day - Friday, March 23, 2007
A while ago I came across this site advocating Shutdown Day (which happens tomorrow), a social experiment for people to see if they can go computer-less for an entire day. With Spring Break starting tomorrow, I think it'll be good for me to attempt this as a way to start off my vacation on the right foot. I waste way too much time on the computer/Internet, and I don't think there's been a day when I haven't been on the computer except during camping trips and retreats.

Finals have gone ok. Today's CS final was worse than I thought it would be - 2 extremely easy questions, 2 extremely hard questions. I guess I could've studied more. I was doing above average in that class, but overconfidence does have a tendency to kill.

Well, I'd better get packed to go home. For the most part, it's been a fun quarter.
Vacation is Sweet - Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Wow, I've been neglecting this blog a little. I don't think I've gone more than a week this year without posting something, let alone two and a half. I guess I'm just enjoying vacation too much. ;)

I've taken spring quarter off, for reasons that I won't go into here but friends are well-aware of. Suffice it to say that I've been using my time pretty productively, uh.. for the most part. I'm back at home, and having time off to read, relax, do programming, and enjoy the company of others is quite nice.

I'm still working at my tech support job because I promised them I would stay till the end of spring, but I had them compact my hours into two days so that I don't need to commute as much. And I take the bus, so I don't have to deal with the hellish 405 rush hour traffic. Whatever guy came up with the idea for carpool lanes is a genius.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday I was with Priscilla and her parents in fabulous Las Vegas. The night we arrived, we walked down one side of The Strip and back up the other side. We were staying at the Circus Circus hotel at the north end and walked all the way to the Excalibur at the south end - nearly the entire four miles of The Strip. I never knew Las Vegas was so... dirty. I was surprised to see so much of the sidewalks under construction, and we couldn't walk five feet without seeing ads for hookers on trucks and in things that resembled newspaper dispensers (interestingly I never saw a dispenser for actual newspapers), and call girl cards strewn about the ground like confetti at a festival, and shady-looking people, who would never in their life pass for call girls, trying to hand them out. We ended up getting back to our hotel at 4 in the morning. Yeah, walking The Strip and taking pictures of all the flashy buildings was fun, but I wouldn't want to do it again, at least not the whole length of it...

So the next day, being a little tired, we stuck to the hotel. We checked out the mini-circus area where they had some pretty cool shows every half hour, the two most notable ones being where one guy was using just one hand to balance upside-down on top of another guy's head, and some chick being twirled from a tall pole like a tetherball, held by only her hair. That didn't look quite fun, but she seemed to enjoy it enough.

Finally, somewhere in there Priscilla and I decided to hit the casino. Since we have no game whatsoever and are cheap, we avoided the tables and played $2 in slot machines. And lost it all. Then we put $2 in DDR at the arcade. And lost there too.

So that was Vegas. It was fun seeing her parents' neurotic side in taking a billion pictures of everything that blinks, and I had a good time. I don't know if I would want to go back, but if I did, I'd better find out beforehand where all the good shows and hangouts are. And maybe learn how to gamble.

Ok, I guess blogging after a hiatus isn't so hard after all, once you finally get around to starting. Just look at how much I wrote. If you did manage to read through it all, I give it up to you. Give yourself a pat on the back.
In a Relationship... - Thursday, April 12, 2007
In a relationship, you and the other person won't always see eye-to-eye or agree on everything. That's not necessarily a bad thing; it just means you're human.

What really matters is if you can work around those differences to make things work.
So Tired - Friday, April 13, 2007
I've been so tired lately. It's not even 2am yet and I can barely keep my eyes open. At school it was just the opposite- this would be the time when I would feel most awake.

I guess being at home around people who actually sleep at normal times (well, except my brother) is rubbing off on me. That and the fact that I've been sleep-deprived from having to wake up early to take the bus to work.
The Real World - Sunday, April 15, 2007
I thought I would be exempt from filing a tax return this year due to me not making enough money, but my dad abruptly came into my room and told me that I needed to file because I got $600 in dividends from stocks my grandfather willed to me. So for the first time I had to file my federal and state returns.

Tax forms are the most confusing things ever invented. The government didn't think it was good enough to just take our money.. they needed to make it hell. Sadists.

Fortunately things like TaxCut from H&R Block make filing easy... or easier. Though it was pretty straightforward to put in all my data, I didn't understand many of the big financial terms. It's not too bad right now since my financial life is relatively simple, but later on when I'm out on my own, filing taxes will be a lengthy pain. But if I get married to Silly Goose, she can help me. :)

Income tax. Woohoo. Welcome to the real world.
Praying for the Victims - Tuesday, April 17, 2007
My prayers go out to the victims and others impacted by the Virginia Tech Massacre. May they find comfort and hope in these tough times.

It's important to never take life for granted. This could very easily have happened at any other campus, like here in California, at UCLA. The victims could have been my friends or even me. One minute you're going through what seems like another routine day, and suddenly it's all over.
Business Credit Card - Saturday, April 21, 2007
I love using my credit cards. If you're fortunate to not have debt and aren't the type to go on spending binges, plastic in your pocket beats cash any day. Buyer protection, convenience, and perks like travel miles or cashback leave virtually no benefit to using cash over card. Unless you're trying to buy stuff anonymously, like drugs or something.

At any rate, I've always found the card companies to be very responsive to everything I've asked for, including rushing me a new card by UPS overnight delivery when I needed it in a couple days. Responsive, that is, until I got a business credit card from Chase.

I have a personal card with Chase and the service has been stellar. Recently they sent me an offer by mail, saying that I qualified for the "Business Card with Premier Cash Rebate." And indeed it did sport a great cashback plan- 3% on purchases from gas stations, restaurants, office supplies, and home improvement stores; 1% on everything else. It was better than the cashback plans on all my other cards at the time, and thus too good to pass up.

But little did I know that a business card was on the other side of the hill of my experience with credit card companies. And in this case, it was the side where the grass wasn't greener. So when I made up a business name to get the card, I found myself in uncharted waters.

After receiving my new card in the mail and activating it, I placed a call to business card customer support. I could instantly tell that the representative who took my call was pretty out of it from the sound of his voice. Probably because of being hassled by business people the whole day.

"Thank you for calling Chase, my name is <indistinguishable mumbling, like he didn't want his name to be known> can I have your name please?"

So after the standard procedure of me verifying that I'm not somebody off the street who jumped me and stole my card, I told him that I wanted a higher credit line. Instead of the usual "Ok let me run that through the computer ... ok it's done" I was told that it would take 2-3 days because it was a business card. Fair enough.

The next day I got a call from a Chase representative whose tone sounded like I was on trial for a murder.

"What is the name of your business?" he asked.

"Dragonskies Media."

"And what is the nature of this business?"

"Oh, web development, and... that sort of stuff" I feebly replied.

"How long has this business been in operation?"

Well I've been doing web development, and that sort of stuff, for quite a while but I gave an estimate of how long this site has been up, "About half a year."

He continued uncaringly, "And what is the annual net income of this business?"

"Well, our household income is-"

He cut me off. "No, your business income, not your household income."

"Err.. I'd say about... five thousand." That was all he needed to hear.

"Ok I'm sorry but at this time we will not be able to give you a higher credit line." That was it. Game over. I tried to gripe, but my Jedi mind tricks had no effect on his powerful psyche, or rather, years of dealing with real business people.

But no matter. I do enjoy the cashback rates I'm getting on my new card that has "Dragonskies Media" embossed beneath my name, and I still have a higher credit limit on it than my struggling "business" makes in a year. I'll get them to bump up the limit later when I have more credit history to make me look good, and when it's time to buy that Ferrari.
Folding@Home - Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Not that it matters much, but today after one and a half years of folding proteins, I completed my 100th work unit. Here's to higher electricity bills in the name of scientific research!
The Chronicles of Narnia - Tuesday, May 1, 2007
I just finished reading the last of the seven books in the Chronicles of Narnia series. This book is aptly titled "The Last Battle" and is about the end of Narnia, drawing many parallels to the book of Revelation in the Bible.

Of all the Narnia books, this last one was my favorite for its vivid use of imagery and gripping plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. Not that the other books lacked those- they were absolutely great, this one was just better.

I thought "The Last Battle" put an end to things quite nicely. I wouldn't mind rereading the series sometime. It's pretty light reading (I finished each book in a few hours, and I'm a slow reader) but full of imagery that really juices up the imagination. I highly recommend these books to anyone who enjoys reading for pleasure!
The National Day of Prayer - Thursday, May 3, 2007
Today marked the 56th annual National Day of Prayer, the day designated by Congress when people of all religious backgrounds are asked to come together and pray.

About 70 people met at CCAC to worship and pray. It was a good time of fellowship, meeting new people, and interceding with the Lord on topics such as government, family, school, media, and military. The prayer portion lasted only 45 minutes, and I do wish it was much longer, because only a couple people from my group were able to pray before Pastor David interrupted and directed everybody to the next topic. And no, we weren't very verbose pray-ers.

Praying really isn't that bad after all. I really need to make it a regular discipline. Maybe I'll start coming out to weekly prayer meetings. Praying aloud is so much easier than praying in your head, because when you're speaking, you're much less likely to get distracted or lose your train of thought. And being with other people is encouraging.
The Most Random Dream... Ever - Friday, May 4, 2007
This morning I had the most vivid and completely random dream I have yet to experience. The following is an account of that, to the best of my recollection. If you enjoy the sort of story that makes little, if any, sense at all, then do read on.

It all started with me being some sort of secret agent, trying to suppress the efforts of a renegade military force, having infiltrated their ranks as a member. There were about ten of us: a commander who was a pretty but fierce young white woman, and everybody else being a mercenary. We were all in uniform, and the base of operation was none other than... my church.

Their present activity was trying to light a bonfire inside the church foyer next to the stairs. The commander and two mercenaries proceeded to make a small stack of hay and douse it with gasoline. They had poured a trail of gasoline on the floor leading to the hay pile and were standing near the pile dumping more hay on it. One of the mercenaries off to the side was playing with a medium-length rod that served as a lighter.

At this point I was able to freeze time and point the flaming lighter, still in the guy's hands, towards where the gasoline was on the floor. When I unfroze time, the gasoline caught fire and the whole pile with the commander and the two people with her were engulfed in a burst of flame. Unfortunately this did not last and the fire quickly died out, and she came storming furiously towards me and asked if I had a hand in that little charade, for I had been standing right behind the guy with the lighter. I was unable to reply, but the guy, whom I now recognized to be Neil, a floormate from UCLA, sheepishly admitted that he was responsible. He was instantly led away, never to been seen again, by two mercenaries, one holding on to each of his arms.

It was then that I realized that I had failed to steal the commander's key card, which would have allowed me access into an important restricted area. I could not devise a way to pull it off, and shortly many more mercenaries turned up, until we numbered about 40 and were crowding the church foyer. It seemed at this point that my chances of suppressing this group were getting thinner.

Around this point the military uniforms that we were wearing had turned into our regular civilian clothes. The commander ordered us all to exit the main church building, and counted us off while directing half of us though the west exit and half of us through the east. This was somewhat strange as we would rejoin in the back, but I suppose it was to ease the flow of traffic. I was sent through the east exit, and I noticed that Priscilla was there in front of me in her maroon Roxy jacket. We never actually spoke, nor did I speak to anybody else, throughout the entire dream. All of us mercenaries met up the back of the church, but the buildings that should have been there were not, and we walked straight to the left to the parking lot, lining up on the sidewalk edge. This is where things started to get interesting.

A caravan of small vehicles pulled into the campus, and about half a dozen Russian soldiers emerged, and in the middle a massive man whose distinct, sharp outfit identified him as a high-ranking Russian military official. He pulled out a rectangular box-like object, inside which was a green-striped missile. The scene, I thought, reminded me of an unknown movie in which somebody shot a missile out of a mailbox. The man pointed the box above our heads and prepared to fire. Nobody from our mercenary group so much as moved a muscle, and it became apparent that we had hired these Russians for this particular task.

The Russian launched the missile, and off it went as I turned around to watch, shooting low above building tops until it struck the front of the Treasure Island hotel (from Las Vegas), which was about half a mile away. The missile exploded, causing the building to crumble upon itself and topple forward, which was not the intended effect. The hotel fell and slammed into a 20-story tall building, which was incidentally a frat house, sending that building toppling forward in a perfect example of a domino effect. The frat house then tumbled into the main church building, which had now become what looked like the Oviatt Library from CSUN, except darker and sporting more steel on the outside. Unfortunately not even this steel-reinforced building could withstand this kind of impact, and it collapsed quite readily.

Fire and a thick black cloud of ash leaped into the sky from the collapsed buildings and created something of a sinister mushroom cloud. The group of mercenaries had now become students, and our campus, seemingly Yale or Cornell (or some other prestigious university), was royally messed up. Nobody seemed the least bit upset at the Russians, and rather people seemed to be revering them, with all the students going forth all at once to kiss the cheek of the high-ranking official. I went forward with the others, but halfway there I could not understand why we would be revering people who had destroyed our campus, so I walked away.

Suddenly, from the burning buildings, a compacted wave of ashen air raced straight in our direction. It was shaped like a semi-truck, and it slammed into a couple of the Russians and crashed through the brick wall in the parking lot, leaving an imprint of a semi-truck. Though nobody was alarmed, everybody independently decided it was a good idea to get to the other side of the parking lot. The gate to the parking lot was open, and the traffic outside was going by normally. It seemed like the fire and ash were raging only inside of the large campus grounds, and outside the walls nobody seemed to notice anything was amiss. Nonetheless, nobody exited the campus. I quite easily leaped up onto the 30-foot tall wall and sat at the top, watching more of the black gusts of wind slamming through the smoky remains of the campus.

At this point my psyche found itself accessing my computer and looking up the ensuing event on Wikipedia. I discovered that what was going on was actually a movie which was an adaptation of a book whose title I could not pronounce. Well whatever movie this was, it sure was trippy.

The gusts were coming in more frequently now, and now they had taken on the form of sliding barred gates, like the ones on prison cells. They thundered with the sound of a train bolting down the tracks towards you. I decided that it would be fun to run into the middle of the parking lot and dodge the gates as they were coming in. So I did just that.

At first it was easy. Just one gate at a time. Step to the right, step to the left. Then two gates at a time. Still a walk in the park. Then I tripped over my dog Lady, who had gotten behind me. As I picked myself up, I saw three gates, very close together, racing towards me. "Is that a space between the rightmost two?" It was so small to tell. "No, the space between the leftmost two seems bigger. Oh, but is it big enough??" Finally as the gates were near enough I realized that I didn't have enough space to fit between them. I tried to run out of the way of the three gates completely. But it was too late. WHAM. I was instantly killed. I felt no pain, but the scene instantly faded into white, with a Game Over message. Then I jolted awake.

Now if all that wasn't crazy, I don't know what is.
Making Chicken Pie - Sunday, May 6, 2007
Yesterday Priscilla and I found ourselves cooking at her house again, making our first attempt at chicken pot pie. My dad had shown us before, and I thought I had a pretty good idea of how to do it. So we went to the supermarket to buy the ingredients that we didn't already have: pie crust, mixed vegetables, chicken breast, and condensed milk. Only we forgot to get the condensed milk when we got there. And all the pre-made pie crusts seemed to be for making dessert pies (my dad later told me that they're all the same) so we went with a box of crust mix. Unfortunately when we got back to her house, we realized that we didn't have a rolling pin to flatten out the dough.

So there we were, two newbs trying to press a layer of dough into the pan with our hands, and making the filling with chicken and veggies in cream of mushroom soup diluted with water. I called my dad for help and after giving me advice, he ended with an encouraging note - "Well it doesn't sound like it's going to turn out very good..."

But by some freak luck we got all the quantities right, and we ended up not having merely watery cream of mushroom soup on a soggy pie crust. The finished product was actually not bad. I wouldn't say it was superb, but it certainly was worthy of being called a pie. A great fiasco was averted that day.
Rock Climbing - Friday, May 11, 2007
Today I went with Kiet, Dan, Grant, and Priscilla to Malibu Creek for what I thought would be an afternoon of hiking. Unfortunately the guys' idea of hiking is a little different from mine, and I found us venturing up the stream climbing over huge rocks.

Most of it wasn't that difficult, but at a few points we had to climb along the sides of the canyon with the water right below us. There were holes and niches in the rocks where we could grab onto, but sometimes there was no good place to grip, or there would be room for just a finger. Good thing for all the upper-body training I've been doing.

Fortunately I never fell into the water (too bad for Priscilla, she fell in twice ;p) or cracked my skull. At the end of our grueling trek, we cooled off and swam in a part of the stream that was like a large open pool. There was a tall rock over the pool that you could jump off of and land in 15 feet of water. Too bad the sun was going down and the water was almost freezing. And during the hike Kiet managed to catch a fish using a gummy worm (that is, chewing gum pressed into the likeness of a worm) on a hook, and brought it home in a peanut jar. He said he's going to cook it.

So yeah. I've never done rock climbing before, and I had a blast. I wouldn't mind going again. All the scratches and internal injuries were well worth it. ;)
Tutoring at Napa - Saturday, May 12, 2007
Or lack thereof. Recently Bobbie Yook from CCAC announced that for three consecutive Saturdays, starting last week, volunteers were needed to teach English to ESL students at Napa Elementary School, which is a two minute drive from CCAC. She said that normally school volunteers need to have been tested for tuberculosis (why that and only that particular disease is beyond me), but since the program has a short duration, the school was waiving the requirement.

So Priscilla and I showed up at the school at 9am, expecting to tutoring kids until 12:30. We spoke with the principal, who kindly informed us that we had been misinformed, and that we could not help out because we have not been tested. But she did say that she could make some phone calls and pull some strings and hopefully let us come back next Saturday.

So instead of selflessly tutoring struggling kids for three and a half hours, Priscilla and I went back to her place and watched eight episodes of Meteor Garden. Gee whiz.
The Master's Seminary - Sunday, May 13, 2007
Congratulations to Steve Chen, Tom Sugimura, and John Zheng who graduated from the Master's Seminary today. Steve and Tom are such nerds, both graduating summa cum laude!
.info Domains for 99 cents at GoDaddy - Thursday, May 17, 2007
For anybody who might find this useful, GoDaddy is selling 1-year registrations of .info domain names for 99 cents, valid for new registrations only. Of course, the year following they'll charge you the regular price if you want to renew. But hey, for 99 cents, having an extra domain to mess around with might be fun.

And if anybody needs some free hosting, get in touch with me.
Awana - Saturday, May 19, 2007
The annual CCAC Awana talent show was today, and Priscilla and I were helping out taking pictures and filming, respectively. I've forgotten how cute kids are. They can sing way off key, totally flub their lines, and forget what they're doing... and get away with it.

I wonder what I looked like doing those performances when I was that age. Maybe somebody has it on videotape. Then again, I don't know if I'd really want to see myself. ;p
Discipleship - Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Today was the first day of me being discipled by our Sojourners leader Steve. We had a great time of chilling at his house, talking over mouthfuls of food at Baja Fresh, and browsing the nearby Blockbuster for no reason. Some things we discussed were faith and the college group, sleeping and time management, and our girlfriends. Today is also Steve's 1-year anniversary with Shirley. :)

It was fun just talking and laughing about random stuff and sharing about what's been occupying our lives. I left his house feeling refreshed and encouraged. We're having discipleship meetings tentatively every Wednesday, though there is no set schedule or meeting place. Discipleship shouldn't be a burden, so we're keeping things lively. Some day we might just go watch a movie or hang out, or wash Steve's car, or any number of other things.

It's great to finally be discipled by somebody I look up to a lot. Steve's so much more mature than I am in almost every way (but he always knows how to have fun), but I do hope he gets a lot out of this discipleship, because even though it's usually the discipler teaching the disciplee, the impact shouldn't just be one-sided.
CCAC Retreat - Monday, May 28, 2007
I just returned with my family from the 3-day CCAC Retreat at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. Here are the main highlights:This year we had a serving mentality that was arguably greater than at previous retreats. I had a great time, and I'm thankful to all the people who helped and to God for allowing things to go as well as they did.
Pirates 3 - Tuesday, May 29, 2007
I saw Pirates 3 with Priscilla, Justin, and Jacky tonight. It was.... ok. The special effects were more elaborate than the first two films, and the storyline was better than the second. Still, I had trouble following everything because there was too much going on. The first Pirates movie was great. They shouldn't have made any sequels!
Craigslist - Thursday, May 31, 2007
I've got to start using Craigslist more often. It seriously rocks. I'm doing some major roomcleaning, and yesterday I posted my crappy, wobbly particle board dresser for free. Since then I have gotten 14 replies and I made arrangements with one lady who picked it up tonight. And I thought I would have a hard time getting rid of it..
Weekending - Sunday, June 3, 2007
Friday: Most of the college group showed up bright and early at 8 a.m. for Priscilla's graduation. Her parents treated everybody (16 people) to brunch at China Olive Buffet, and she and I spent the rest of the day watching White Chicks and Ong Bak and helping my mom cook.

Saturday: Priscilla and I made pizza at her house. To make a long story short, low-carb dough mix is healthier, but it makes pretty crappy dough. Still, I ate a lot of the "pizza," though considering it's me, that's not saying much.

Sunday: I got tricked into going to an "infosession" for volunteering to help with junior church. I thought I was going to get more info, but by going I effectively signed up. Ah well, it probably won't be too bad, and quite a few of the college people are helping. I spent most of the rest of the day picking out components for the computer I'm building for Priscilla's parents. I never knew shopping for parts required so much... research.
Old Memories - Monday, June 4, 2007
While cleaning my room today I dug up a long-forgotten artifact: the gift box that each participant received at the 2003 Robert H. Herndon Memorial Science Competition sponsored by The Aerospace Competition. In the box came three things: an electronic calendar, a pen, and a pocket radio. The calendar has since malfunctioned. Too bad, because it's the only item that bears the Aerospace Corporation insignia. Ah, those days were fun.
Podcasting and ER - Wednesday, June 6, 2007
So Raymond has to do this podcasting project for his Media Arts class, in which he podcasts a talkshow. Of course he's a bit shy about his voice, so he asked me to record something that he can use. Which I assume is fine, because he'll be handling the technical aspect of the project. Raymond doesn't seem like one who would try to cheat in school. ;)

So I spent an hour with Priscilla recording and editing a segment on a topic that every guy should know: how to ask girls out. Raymond, pay close attention!

While I was at their house, Priscilla's dad cut his forehead when he was trying to roll a garbage bin down stairs and it flipped from under itself and hit him. He wasn't dripping blood everywhere, but the gash was semi-deep so we took him to the ER at Kaiser. Despite my aversion to hospitals, it was pretty nice there. The staff was courteous, it wasn't too crowded, and we didn't have to wait five hours for him to be seen. They stitched him up, or glued rather, and he should be fully healed in about a week. Glad he didn't get a concussion- he's not all that young anymore. He should really ask me to help him when he's doing stuff like that..
Missed the Bus - Thursday, June 7, 2007
On Tuesdays and Thursdays I drive myself down to the Chatsworth Blvd. Park & Ride at St. Stephen's Lutheran Church, and then hop on the Commuter Express to go to work at UCLA. Today I did something that I've been fearing ever since I started my commuting regimen: I missed the bus.

I left home a couple minutes late, and as commuters know, a couple minutes can make all the difference. To make things worse, I had to park in a different parking lot than the one I've been using, because last time I got yelled at for unknowingly using the lot that's reserved for weekday staff. Unfortunately the smaller staff lot is never 1/4 full, and the much larger main lot was completely full. For such a small church, I wonder if it even gets that full on Sundays.

So by the time I had finished hunting around for a place to park, the bus had dutifully come and gone. It looked like I would have to take the dreaded 405 to work.

But as I continued down Chatsworth, I found out that there was no onramp on Chatsworth to get onto the 405, and I instead ended up hitting Sepulveda. Though I just as much dislike Sepulveda, I decided to take it all the way to work. The first 20 or so minutes went as expected: congestion, people driving way too slowly, and reckless hotheads cutting me off because I'm going too slow because of the people in front of me.

But after about Ventura Blvd., the traffic began to dissipate. By the time I got to Sepulveda's winding mountain pass, people were racing almost faster than the traffic on the freeway. Lots of twists and turns. Not many stoplights. It was almost kind of fun. By the time I got to UCLA, I had gotten there 10 minutes faster than if I had taken the bus.

So my little misadventure turned out alright. I know what I'm going to be taking next time I need to go that way during rush hour.
Catalina Island - Friday, June 8, 2007
I've been wanting to take Priscilla to Avalon Bay at Catalina Island since the beginning of the year, and today I finally made it happen in celebration of her recent birthday, a.k.a. our six month anniversary. I made boat reservations and checked out activities in mid-May, and I sent her a letter a few days ago detailing what items to bring. Of course I kept the place a secret, and she had no idea where she would be going until we arrived at the San Pedro boat terminal this morning.. bright and early at 7:30. The 1-hour cruise to the island was pretty enjoyable, and we even went on-deck to take pictures in the chilly wind with Priscilla's hair flailing all over the place.

When we arrived on the island, we scouted out the front of the town and found our way to the Avalon Casino, which turned out to not be a gambling casino as we had assumed. Instead, the place was named for the original meaning of the word "casino": a building used for meetings or entertainment. Entertainment here being theatrical.

From there we checked out the adjacent Avalon Museum, where we learned some of the history of the island, including the involvement of chewing gum company founder William Wrigley Jr.

At lunchtime we found an outdoor cafe, where I got a swordfish sandwich, and Priscilla got a quesadilla oozing profusely with grease. Afterwards we chillaxed on the man-made beach and almost got sunburned despite having sunblock on. Then we rented bikes to explore the town, and gruelingly made the ride up a hill to see the Wrigley Memorial, except that when we got up there we discovered that bikes weren't allowed inside, and we didn't have bike locks. But the ride back down was pretty fun, and most deserved.

Then it was off to kayaking which we're also pretty bad at. We couldn't sustain paddling in sync for more than 20 seconds. Finally to conclude the fun, we checked out a bunch of different shops and talked with one shopkeeper about how island residents have to pay the same inflated prices for services as tourists do, and how the island is a nice place to live but housing is so ridiculously expensive, and shops close up in winter when tourists aren't coming. There's also a 13-year waiting list for bringing automobiles to the island, and probably an even longer one for getting a home since the governing body isn't allowing more homes to be built. ;p

So it was Priscilla's first time to Catalina, and we had fun, though it would've been nice if we could have stayed longer and done more things. If we go there again, it probably should be on a Saturday when the boats run back later. The only downside is that it'll be more crowded. :)
Building a Computer - Saturday, June 9, 2007
Priscilla's parents have been in need of a better computer for a while, and since I'm supposedly in the know, they recruiting me to build one. I got to pick the parts and they're going to reimburse me. I ordered pretty good components based on the massive amount of video editing that they do. The specs are as follows:The total came out to just over $1k, but I think it's a good investment for how it will expedite the amount of computer work they do. Now I just need to get them a copy of Windows and we're all set.
Cooking Fun - Monday, June 11, 2007
I volunteered to cook today's dinner for my family, since I really need to get better at cooking if I'm going to survive on my own someday. So tonight was my first time cooking (almost) entirely on my own for them. My dad was nice enough to come in and help me cut up some chicken, though probably because I was taking way too long with things and he was getting hungry. It took me no less than two and a half hours to make two things: soup and chow mein.

The soup was made from ground turkey, barley, carrots, celery, onions, a dash of basil leaves, flavoring from boiled chicken, and unintentional pieces of broccoli that I needed to boil for the chow mein. Boiling the chicken in the soup ended up making things greasy, since normally we boil the chicken on its own and run the resulting broth through a fat separator. Oops.

Then it was on to the chow mein. This dish sported spaghetti noodles, chicken, mushrooms, carrots, celery, snow peas, and broccoli. I stir fried this stuff, but I used way too much oil, so the chow mein too turned out greasy. Way to go.

So the greasy grub was finally ready at 7:30, a hour later than we usually eat. My family was appreciative of my efforts, but I think the only thing I managed to do was to encourage my dad to continue being the one who does most of the cooking. Oh well. Practice makes perfect. Or in my case, practice makes decent. Perfection has to wait.
New Desk - Saturday, June 16, 2007
I got a new desk from Staples and put it together yesterday. The retail price is over $200, but it was on sale and I used a coupon to get it down to $160, tax included. The desk is pretty heavy and sturdy and has an oak finish that matches my bed frame. At 71 inches long and without drawers, it can seat two people with a comfortable workspace. I'm enjoying not banging my knees like I always did with my old desk.

I'm just going to give away the old desk. It has been outside on the curb for a day, but nobody seems to want desks around here. I'll post an ad on Craigslist and see what happens.

Now I just have to clean up the stuff that used to be inside the old desk's drawers that's now strewn all over my floor.
Yawn - Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I woke up at 6:30 a.m. today which is three hours earlier than usual. None of my family was awake at that time. But it wasn't my idea at all- the reason I got up so early was.... my neighbor's oven.

Her kitchen oven was malfunctioning and wouldn't shut off and was getting hot. None of her family was home, so she rushed over to our place and frantically rang our doorbell and started shouting outside. And my room is closest to the front door.. so I was the one to wake up.

But when I got to her house, the oven had already stopped cooking itself, perhaps as a safety mechanism. But the control panel kept making this beeping sound that would persistently resume shortly after we tried to turn it off. Even power-cycling the unit by flipping the kitchen circuit breakers didn't fix it. So in the end my best advice was to leave the circuit breakers off while she tried to dig up the oven manual or contact the manufacturer for help.

When I got back I couldn't fall back asleep, so I started cleaning my room. I've been going through my old schoolwork/notes and realized something big: contrary to what I've believed, I actually do remember a lot of what I learned in school. Not intricate details, but the general knowledge is still there. Some things I don't specifically remember learning, I now use as if they've always been a part of me. I guess going to school really was important, after all. Shocker.

I also dug up my old College Board reports. I remember getting a 1510 out of 1600 on my SAT I, but I had no idea that before that I was just one percentile point away from being a National Merit Scholar. It's really funny how things like the SAT and AP tests mattered so much back then. I guess they're useful in the sense that they allow learning to be objectively measured, but there was just too much hype. Now, what really matters is the knowledge you've taken with you and how far you choose to go with it. That says way more than just some numbers.
Bon Voyage! - Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Tomorrow morning I'm off to Europe for 17 days with Priscilla and her parents. We're going with a tour through 11 different countries. It's going to be mad fun, and equally as tiring. And definitely expensive. But they do have cute chicks over there. So bon voyage!
Update from Salzburg - Wednesday, June 27, 2007
I finally managed to get my hands on a free computer at the hotel we stayed at last night. This is harder than it might sound, since everything in Europe (at least the tourist spots) costs money - and lots of it. You can't get tap water in restaurants for free, you have to pay to use the restroom (which they call a water closet or W.C. for short), and the list goes on and on.

So that's the short update for now. Europe has been fun but extremely tiring. We're in Salzburg, Austria right now and will be headed down to Italy in a couple days. A few days in Italy and a few more in France and will conclude the trip. Ok.. I'm done. It took too long to write this because this computer uses a German keyboard layout. More blogging when I get back home! Or if I find another free computer.
Update from Florence - Monday, July 2, 2007
It's now morning and we're in Florence, Italy. I'm using the Internet in my room through the TV with a wireless keyboard. It should cost 8 euros but the service has been spotty so they're not charging us for it.

So Italy has been.. hot. We've been walking outside for hours each day and I've got plenty of sunburns despite having sunblock on. Other than that, seeing all these places has been awesome, and slightly overwhelming. We're on to France tonight after visiting Pisa and Monte Carlo. Maybe I'll gamble more than the $2 that I played in Las Vegas..
Recap of the Europe Trip - Wednesday, July 11, 2007
I'm back from Europe! Our 17-day tour was extremely long and tiring, yet fun and insightful. Here are the highlights of each day:

Day 1 - June 21
3-hour flight from Los Angeles to Houston, then 9-hour flight from Houston to London. First time flying longer than one hour. Tried unsuccessfully to sleep in the plane to reduce jetlag. Found the TV displays behind every seat very cool, but the games were horrible and laggy.

Day 2 - June 22
Met our tour guide, Liming Pan. Since the tour was supposed to be conducted in Mandarin Chinese, I was glad that she actually conducted in English and translated in Mandarin. In England we toured the Windsor Castle, the largest inhabited castle in the world, and the oldest in continuous occupation. Stopped for pictures in front of Buckingham Palace, toured the Tower of London and saw the Crown Jewels, and the adjacent Tower Bridge.

Day 3 - June 23
Eurostar train to Brussels, Belgium. Saw the Manneken Pis, a famous fountain statue of a boy urinating. Had mussels lunch in the Grand Place, the central marketplace. They looked at us funny when we asked for tap water, and they wouldn't allow us NOT to order bottled water. They took a long time preparing the food and since we had a tight schedule, we had to ask for a to-go box. This was also something they had no concept of, so they packed everything in a plastic margarine tub. Drove to the Netherlands, stopped in front of an old windmill for pictures, and took a canal cruise in Amsterdam.

Day 4 - June 24
Visited a diamond cutting/polishing factory in Amsterdam where we saw a lot of expensive diamonds, including a 2-carat selling for 32,000 euros. Drove to Cologne, Germany where we visited its Cathedral. Took a cruise on the Rhine River, and had pig knuckles and non-alcoholic beer for dinner.

Day 5 - June 25
Toured the Heidelberg Castle, learned about the construction of cuckoo-clocks at a shop at Lake Titisee in the Black Forest, stopped for pictures at the Rhine Falls.

Day 6 - June 26
Explored the center of Lucerne, Switzerland. Visited some large shops selling watches and Victorinox knives. Saw the Lion Monument, a memorial to the Swiss Guards killed during the French Revolution. Saved money on lunch by getting food from a supermarket, which was a large building with two stories and an escalator. Had a meager Fondue dinner that cost 170 Swiss Francs (about $144).

Day 7 - June 27
Visited Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, a tiny country I never knew existed. Saw the ski jump, the Golden Roof, and the Swarovski store in Innsbruck, Austria.

Day 8 - June 28
Explored Salzburg to see sites where "The Sound of Music" was filmed, and the house where Mozart was born.

Day 9 - June 29
Toured the Schönbrunn Palace, often dubbed the Austrian Versailles, in Vienna. Went on a drive through the city to see the Vienna Opera House, and the Hofburg and City Hall buildings.

Day 10 - June 30
Took a ferry to Venice, explored the city, took a gondola ride through the Grand Canal and smaller canals, walked on the Rialto Bridge, saw the Bridge of Sighs, and stood in the plaza of St. Mark's Basilica trying to woo pigeons.

Day 11 - July 1
Saw two replicas of Michaelangelo's David statue in Florence, the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, and wandered through the huge Peruzzi leather store.

Day 12 - July 2
Spent the first half of the day in Rome, where we toured St. Peter's Basilica and St. Peter's Square in the Vatican City, the Colosseum, Constantine's Triumphal Arch, the Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain. The rest of the day was spent traveling to the city of Lucca in Tuscany, where we had a four-course Tuscan dinner at our hotel.

Day 13 - July 3
Went onto the grounds of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Lost five euros in video poker at a casino in beautiful Monte Carlo, Monaco. Traveled to the French city of Nice where we walked along the completely rocky Mediterranean shoreline.

Day 14 - July 4
Explored Avignon, the residence of seven popes during the Avignon Papacy. Had lunch at a McDonald's where the lines were incredibly slow because people don't get out until they've received all their food at the register.

Day 15 - July 5
Arrived in Paris in the afternoon. Went up to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower, took pictures of the panoramic view of the city, and took the stairs all the way back down. Took a cruise on the Seine River where we saw Notre Dame and other sights. Had escargo and goose liver in a five-course French dinner.

Day 16 - July 6
Toured the interior and a bit of the gardens at the Versailles Palace. Saw many statues and paintings, including the Mona Lisa, at the Louvre Museum. Posed for pictures in front of the Arc De Triomphe. Wandered around the huge Galeries Lafayette department store.

Day 17 - July 7
Our homebound flights from Paris to Houston, and Houston to Los Angeles.

Some things of interest that make Europe different from the United States:

Whew. So what was Europe? Incredibly fun. Incredibly tiring. Definitely worth it. I don't think I'd ever want to go on a trip like this again though, at least not for so long! In a tour things feel rushed and you don't get much free time to take everything in at your own pace. But I had a good time. Now I can say that I've been to all these places.

Europe also made me appreciate things in the United States that I've taken for granted. Like sunny weather (it rained almost every day for the first two weeks), free water in restaurants, not having to pay to use restrooms, and the relatively low cost of living. Even concerning housing- I thought prices of houses were high in California, until I saw places in Europe where people pay much more, for flats.

So that was the trip in a nutshell. Now it's back to reality once again.
Happy Birthday Stan - Sunday, July 15, 2007
We had a party at my house to celebrate Stan's 20th birthday. Aaron made Korean barbecue ribs and Chi brought ice cream cake which melted because we put it in the refrigerator instead of the freezer. Altogether around 20 people came, including those who just dropped in for a few minutes like Deborah and Flora. After lunch we watched "Left Behind," got soaked from water balloons, shot a billion firecracker streamers at Stan, and a few guys and Chi (the self-proclaimed seeker of peace) started doing Fight Club in our living room.

I had a lot of fun. It seemed like everybody else did too. Happy birthday Stan!
Transformers - Monday, July 16, 2007
Finally saw Transformers with Priscilla, Justin, and Jacky. I agree with almost everybody I've heard from that it was really good. It's the first movie I've seen in a theatre in a very long time that I felt was worth my money.

The special effects were amazing and as one critic put, seamless with reality, and made me really get into what was going on. The Decepticons' guile also believably made them a force to be reckoned with and added weight to the story. Too bad Priscilla totally hated the film because she felt the character development was poor. I admit that that area could've been better, but it didn't detract too much from the film for me. Nor did the comic relief, unlike in director Michael Bay's other film Armageddon.
Another Taste of the Real World - Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I'm back working at UCLA Anderson doing tech support for the summer, and yesterday was my first day. I'm working four hours a day, Monday through Friday, with my shifts starting in the afternoon. But I'm commuting by bus and the latest bus in the morning leaves at 9:30, and I need to take that one because the next one to Westwood comes 7 hours later. So I'm really leaving for work around 9:30am and getting back around 7:30pm.

After getting home today and eating dinner, I had to run to the gas station and supermarket to pick up some things. Then it was time to do some chores and administrative stuff. Finally I got only about an hour free time before it was time to get ready for bed.

It's only been two days of this routine and I'm already tired of it. How's it going to be down the line when I'm working a real, demanding job and have to support myself and maybe a family? How do people find time for leisure? I seriously don't know how people do it.
Working Out - Monday, July 23, 2007
My going to the gym only once a week isn't very beneficial, and I can't always rely on Priscilla to get me into the YMCA as a guest. So since I come down to UCLA every weekday in summer to work, and I have a lot of time between when the bus gets here and when my shifts start, it seemed good to sign up for a summer membership to the Wooden Center on campus.

Since I'm not enrolled in classes right now, I had to pay a nominal fee. It was $35 for the membership and $10 for renting a locker so I can properly stow my stuff. Not a bad price at all considering it's for my health and I'll be using the gym almost every day. Time to pump up these guns.. oh yeahhhh!
Reading a Lot - Wednesday, July 25, 2007
All the free time I have at school before work forces me to be away from my computer (in other words productive), and consequently I'm finding myself reading a lot. I've already finished "Should I Get Married?" by M. Blaine Smith and "Prayer: The Cry for the Kingdom" by Stanley J. Grenz.

I just started "Sinners in the Hands of a Good God" by our very own Pastor David Clotfelter, and hopefully I'll get that done in a few days. I wish my textbook list for next quarter's courses would be published so that I can get a head start on all those.

Heh. If I had know that being on top of things could be so fun, I might not have procrastinated as much as I did in college.
Claim Jumper - Friday, July 27, 2007
I forgot how big the portions are at Claim Jumper. Priscilla and I went there today and ordered an appetizer and three entrees. We ended up taking home three boxes of food. Man, the food is so good there though.
Lunch - Sunday, July 29, 2007
Went to lunch at Mandarin Deli with my parents, Hannah Pang (haven't seen her since Mustard Seed), Mrs. Dang, and met Mike and his wife Jennifer who've been going to our church for a couple of years. Mike works down at a software company in Marina Del Rey and might be able to hook me up with a job. I fixed up my resume and sent it to him... we'll see what happens. Things sounded promising.
Griffith Observatory - Saturday, August 4, 2007
Today I went to the Griffith Observatory with my parents, Mrs. Dang, and Priscilla's and Crescentia's family. It was my first time going. I really enjoyed the panoramic Planetarium show with its CGI and the lively narrator who never skipped a beat in delivering his lines for half an hour.

We also watched a documentary about the history and the challenging renovation of the observatory, which required raising the building with hydraulic jacks and building a level beneath it.

Too bad we couldn't stay until 7pm for the telescope room to open. I'm sure it would've been awesome to look through the giant telescope there. Well, hopefully I'll get to go back again sometime. Even though I don't particularly like museums and whatnot.
New Cell Phone - Sunday, August 5, 2007
Our Verizon Wireless contract has been expired and we've been keeping the service on a month-to-month basis. But the service has been pricey and reception's not that great on the hill where we live, so we decided to switch to AT&T, which would save us $10 a month on their cheapest family plan of 550 minutes per month. So today we drove down to Monterey Park, where Asian people and Asian stores abound, and there's a cell phone store on almost every block (which translates to dealers competing for your business).

We got to keep our current phone numbers, and for our three lines we got three phones and bluetooth headsets for free. I chose for myself a black Samsung SGH-A707, nicknamed the Sync. It owns my old phone in almost every way- it's thin and fashionable, the menus are sensible, the camera is decent, and the MP3 player rocks. And I'm enjoying using my headset to talk while driving and not risk getting ticketed.

Most importantly though, the reception up at my house is a lot better. Which means I'll actually answer my phone now!
P-O-W-E-R - Sunday, August 12, 2007
Spells Power! After months of planning and practicing, the CCAC children's VBS program culminated in two musical performances- one last night and one this morning. It was awesome to watch the kids on stage for an hour with their lines and dance moves mastered. I could imagine how much work went into rehearsing, planning, script writing, choreography, set design, video editing, and everything else that made the Power performance what I believe is the biggest show that CCAC has put on to date. The number and extent to which people were involved, even down to serving food and cleaning up after the 400-some people who ate, was really encouraging to see.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." -- 1 Corinthians 10:31
Hansen Dam and Settlers of Catan - Monday, August 20, 2007
This past Saturday Priscilla took me to Hansen Dam to swim. Neither of us had been there, but she heard that there was a cool man-made lake and lots of activities to do there. Instead, we found a wide (but very crowded) swimming pool that was five feet deep, in which almost everybody was just wading trying to beat the heat. Still, we had fun and got our exercise doing laps (and found out that we're out of shape in swimming), but hopefully there really is a lot more to do around there. We'll see next time!

On Sunday I hung out with Pablo and Theo at Pablo's house and played Settlers of Catan for the first time. Man, that game is awesome. I've been playing the free version online (called Xplorers for copyright reasons) all day today. If anybody wants to play me, let me know!
CCAC Choir - Monday, August 27, 2007
I'm considering joining the CCAC English choir that Tavi is starting up. Yesterday was our kickoff meeting and about a dozen people showed up. I was expecting more, but it's really not about numbers.

Tavi is really cool and not quite the dictator I thought he was, now that I understand the reasoning behind his ways. ;p Seeing his wholehearted commitment to glorifying God in all that is done is encouraging, and he stated that he would rather us not be part of choir than go into it with the wrong hearts and attitudes. He also stresses arriving to practices early (on time, at the latest) but understands my circumstances as I will have classes in the Fall that will cause me to be late to practices, and he encouraged me to join anyway.
Fun at Work - Thursday, August 30, 2007
Lately I've been helping to replace the computers in each Anderson classroom with newer ones. Most of the classrooms consist of a few rows of cushioned swivel chairs around a central podium with a computer in it. The podiums themselves have a button to raise or lower their height depending on the professor's preference. There is a monitor beneath the glass top of the podium for the professor to look at. A pull-out touchscreen device controls everything from the digital projector overhead, the retractable projector screen at the front of the room, and input from an optional laptop connection. There is a regular mouse on top of the podium, as well as a bluetooth-enabled gyro-mouse that can be operated by waving it around in the air. Not to mention a slick sound system tucked nicely behind the paneling of the walls.

Unfortunately, as nice as the podiums are, they weren't built to be technician-friendly. The only access is in the back of the podium (facing away from where the students sit), and reaching all the way in there to unplug/plug in cables isn't easy when you've got large controller devices and a hundred wires stuffed back there in a mess of spaghetti.

Anyway, it was cool to be doing something new for a change. The complexity of those classrooms amazes me. Compare that to the classrooms we have in the engineering/science buildings that consist of pretty much a chalkboard and chairs. And the chairs don't swivel.
Spontaneous Hangout - Friday, August 31, 2007
I got out of work today and checked my phone to find a dozen missed calls from Sergey, whom I haven't seen/heard from since high school, inviting me to dinner with him, Sophonias, Fiona, and Lac. Talk about spontaneity.

So after much deliberation we ended up going to Olympus Greek Restaurant in North Hollywood. The food was semi-pricey and the pasta I had seemed like something even I could make (i.e. not very Greek).

But I'm glad I decided to go, however last minute the notice was, and I had a good time hanging out and catching up. I didn't know that Fiona's leaving, tomorrow in fact, for her new job in Texas. I hope she visits occasionally and we'll hang out and maybe I'll cook some "Greek" food for everyone.

Anyway the end of the meal was funny because four of us wanted to pay by credit card, so we ended up calculating the amount each person should pay and writing each name and amount on the bill, and handing the host four cards and a twenty dollar bill. He must've thought we were nuts.
Choir Practice - Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Today was the first real practice session for choir. It's a lot different from what I expected, though that's not saying much since I don't have much of a musical background. I just didn't think there'd be so much emphasis on singing.. harmony.

Tavi has me singing tenor, which is above my natural voice range. Singing harmony isn't easy, and Tavi's not making it any easier. He jumps into things without explaining much, and expects us to know what to do and how to do it. I was pretty discouraged, but on the other hand I often do the same thing- starting off on the hard road so that everything down the line becomes easier. I'm not giving up! Even though I suck. :)
Congrats Shirley and Steve - Saturday, September 8, 2007
Congrats to you both on finally tying the knot! It's really awesome to see two godly people such as yourselves join together as a single unit in the pursuit of God's kingdom. I know He has great plans for you guys. Here's to the future, enjoy the honeymoon, oh and the prime rib at Lawry's was muy bueno!
My Video Card Exploded - Monday, September 10, 2007

I have an EVGA GeForce 6600 LE, and it turned out to be one of the many pieces of hardware that was impacted by the shameful Capacitor Plague. So last week, as I was tranquilly surfing the web, I heard a loud pop come from inside my computer. This had occurred once before, with no visible effects, and things were still running normally, so I didn't make much of it until the next day when I couldn't even boot into Windows without the whole system crashing. Interestingly, I could boot into and use Linux just fine- I guess it has lower graphics requirements. An inspection of the insides of my computer revealed that three of the large capacitors on my graphics card had blown through their tops. How fun.

Fortunately the card had a lifetime warranty, and getting it RMA'd was a snap. EVGA customer support was very responsive and they shipped a replacement back to me within a couple days of receiving the defective card, and now my computer is running good as new. The capacitors on the new card look like they're a different brand, so hopefully they're not faulty as well. I guess we'll find out in about a year's time. ;)
Mac Training - Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Today at work we had a guy come from Apple to give us a two-hour crash course on Mac OS X. I thought it was pretty informative since I'm a total Mac newbie. Some cool things he talked about were:
Yeah so.. I learned a lot of useful things in those two hours. I think I now know more about Macs than Silly Goose who actually has one. ;)
Children's Hunger Fund - Saturday, September 22, 2007
Early in the morning I went with Priscilla to the Children's Hunger Fund. I haven't been there since high school, and it was cool seeing familiar things. Today we got to stuff little bags full of white beans, all of which were generously donated like most of the other items that pass through the center. Altogether the people doing beans (about a couple dozen of us) filled several thousand bags in the 2.5 hours of work time. Not too shabby.

I've forgotten how much fun going to CHF is and how great it is to be working with others in giving a little back to the community/world. I really should start going more often again. And bring others from our college fellowship too. :)
School Is Starting Again - Thursday, September 27, 2007
Finally. I've had a very long, but awesome, break. I got to go to Las Vegas and Europe, made new contacts at church and work and strengthened interpersonal relationships, finished reading a bunch of books I've always meant to get around to, seen growth in spiritual maturity, and deepened my relationship with Silly Goose. It's been a beneficial few months, but now it's time to finish my last quarter of school before getting a full-time job in the real world. Yikes!

Today is the official start of classes, but I don't have classes on Thursdays, and on Fridays I have only two, both of which are discussions. And both of which have been canceled since lectures haven't started yet. So I really don't go back until next week. Here's to making good use of my last days of... freedom. :)
Choir Performance - Sunday, September 30, 2007
Today was our first performance, in a sense, for our CCAC English Choir. We sang "There Is a Redeemer" and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" during the prelude time when people were walking into the sanctuary. I'm somewhat glad that we didn't have to sing in the middle of the service, because more people present in the audience would be intimidating for a first run. The choir is small enough as it is- we don't need anybody getting scared off. ;p

But yeah, it went better than I expected, although we were far from perfect. But I can see the practice slowly working its magic. Singing harmony actually isn't so bad once you get used to it- it's just another way of... well, singing.
A Nice Break - Thursday, October 4, 2007
I don't have class or work on Thursdays, and Fridays I have only two discussion classes, so I get a nice break at the end of the week. Today I finished rolling my and Aaron's many pennies, which amounted to 800, and took them to the bank. Then I blew that $8 on snack food at the Trader Joe's next door.

I'm really a sucker for Trader Joe's. They've got a pretty compelling marketing angle. It's like, "This food costs more than equivalent snack foods, and it's probably just as bad for me, but that's ok because it's all natural."
San Diego and Sea World - Monday, October 8, 2007
Over the weekend I went to San Diego with Priscilla and her parents. They picked me up from school on Friday, and we drove down and stayed in Carlsbad for the night.

All of Saturday was spent at Sea World, which I haven't been to since I was maybe.. 5? We saw pretty much every show and visited many aquariums and even got soaked on a ride. I was looking forward to the Shamu show, and the rotating projector screens, which are an engineering feat in and of themselves, really impressed me. However I was soon disappointed to see more emphasis on the cinematics than on substance. The smaller dolphin show nearby was much richer in terms of content.

All in all, I had a great time. We drove back to the Valley Saturday evening pretty beat. Good thing we didn't make it a one-day trip- that would've been too hectic!
Career Fair - Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Some 140 companies appeared at the tech career fair at UCLA today. I did some research on several beforehand, and I got to talk to about a dozen of them at the fair. I had anticipated talking to a lot more, and I had brought 60 copies of my resume, but well.. time does fly.

Nonetheless I think my time spent was insightful and went pretty well. I also met four reps from different companies who knew people I knew, which was pretty rad. Hopefully I'll score some interviews!
Wildfires - Monday, October 22, 2007
There are now over a dozen wildfires blazing in Southern California, stretching all the way from Lake Arrowhead to Irvine to San Diego. This is reminiscent of the wildfires of 2003 which I blogged about briefly almost this exact time of October. Fortunately, unlike last year, the fires aren't yet close enough to my home for me to see them.

Though there have been homes lost and casualties suffered (the bulk of them in San Diego), firefighters continue to do an outstanding job, especially with their already short manpower being stretched thin, at combating the blazes. We should be in prayer for them and for residents who have been displaced from, or have lost, their homes.
Wildfire Update - Thursday, October 25, 2007
Thank God the fierce winds have died down, and most of the Southern California wildfires have been fully contained by now. The firefighters have handled the situation superbly, and though there have been 1800 homes destroyed and half a million acres of land burned, the total destruction is far less than we saw in 2003. Our thanks go to all those who have laid their lives on the line in this time.

Still, people are now saying that we haven't learned from 2003 and we still don't have enough federal funding to prevent and fight wildfires. It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out in the bureaucratic realm.
Life Sucks. Or Does It? - Thursday, November 8, 2007
Ok I'll admit it- I'm not an optimist. But I've been thinking about all the times I've complained about something or felt sorry for my circumstances, and I've realized... compared to so many other people, I really don't have it that bad.

How many people in this world don't have a roof over their heads, while I bemoan how my room in my house is so small? While I'm stuck in traffic cursing the trickling flow of cars in front of me, how many people don't have access to the transportation I take for granted? As I pout about my nose being clogged up when I have a cold, do I forget that there are millions of people dying from incurable diseases and terminal illnesses?

Sure, I may only make $40,000 a year upon graduating from college, but that still puts me in the top few percent of all households in the world. Going to class is a drag, but to those without access to higher education it'd be more than a blessing. I complain about the taste of the food I'm served, when millions are dying from starvation and lack of clean drinking water. Unlike some, I don't have to fear being shot at while walking down the street, or being blown up by a roadside bomb, or facing persecution for my religious beliefs.

So really, I have no right to think that my life sucks. Who am I to make that call? I need to be content with what I have, and what I don't.

"God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference."
Choir Practice - Wednesday, November 14, 2007
After a two-week hiatus, the few but faithful CCAC English choir members met for practice once again.

This time we started a new song, and finished learning the whole thing in a record hour. You could say that it was an easy song, but I think that all the blood and sweat spent trying to learn "He's Been Faithful" has prepared us, both vocally and mentally, for anything down the line. Compared to "He's Been Faithful," any song is a breeze. But I think we're finally getting that one down, too.
Feels Like Thanksgiving Already - Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Thanksgiving is two days from now, but today I was wishing all my coworkers a Happy Thanksgiving Break, forgetting that I would see them tomorrow. I guess the fact that class was canceled for this afternoon and tomorrow morning is making me think it's Thanksgiving Break already. Almost, but not quite!

I'm looking forward to a nice four days off. And of course catching up on all the schoolwork/reading I'm behind in. :)
Interview with Applied Signal - Saturday, December 1, 2007
This past Thursday I had a job interview for a Software Engineer position with Applied Signal Technology, a signals processing company headquartered in Sunnyvale. I flew up Wednesday night, got a rental car, and stayed overnight in a hotel, all paid for by the company.

Three engineers met with me successively during the interview and asked me a mix of questions ranging from database design to algorithms to the product design process. I then met with a senior technical recruiter to wrap things up.

All in all, I felt pretty confident during the interview; in fact, I had so much fun meeting and talking with people that it began to seem more like a friendly conversation than a daunting test of my knowledge. Apparently they liked me just as much, because three hours after the interview was over, the company called me and offered me the job.

The scariest part of the whole trip, however, was not the interview process but driving the rental car. I was given a sweet 2006 Chevrolet Impala LT, which has more engine power and electronic controls than any car I've yet to drive. Which is not saying much, considering that I drive mostly a 1996 Toyota Previa or a 1992 Mazda 626. Wednesday night, still getting used to the feel of the rental car as I drove through the airport and onto the freeway toward the hotel, I constantly felt like I was going to crash into something. Man, those 20 minutes were some of the scariest I've ever had. Any anxiety concerning the interview didn't even come close. ;)

Anyway, I'm still weighing my options, so I don't know if I will accept the offer. But if I do end up moving up north, one thing is for certain. It's going to be cold!
Awesome Logic Game - Saturday, December 8, 2007
I just stumbled upon a logic game that's really fun, and it seems like it can be made infinitely challenging. It's (loosely) kind of like Sudoku, but may very well hold its own against the more popular game.

The game is nonograms, and the Flash game that introduced me to them is called Armor Picross 2. I'm sure there are tons of nonogram-based games out there, but this is the first one I found, and the music is soothing. :)

Anyway, back to schoolwork! Two papers and two finals remaining until I am done at UCLA!
I Took the Job! - Thursday, December 13, 2007
Yesterday I informed Applied Signal Technology that I was accepting the Software Engineer position. I will start working on January 21, 2008.

From what I've seen thus far, I think I will enjoy working at AST and with the people there. The salary and signing bonus they offered and the benefits they provide are also competitive. And they even have a gym on-site. ;)

Well, this is going to be a big transition for me. But it's just another stage of life that everybody has to go through. I'm looking forward to what the future holds!
Free At Last! - Friday, December 14, 2007
After 4 years and a quarter of sleepless nights, crazy projects, dozing off in class, and cramming... I am at last done with college!

I finished my last final today and I am stoked! But it's a bittersweet finale. I'll definitely miss UCLA for its culture, awesome professors, and friends that I've made (but luckily 95% of them are on Facebook).

The one thing I regret is not being more serious about classes in my first couple years. That came back to bite me not only GPA-wise, but also experientially. Not to say I didn't try hard, but I could've gotten more out of my education if I had thought of school as more than just busywork homework assignments and irrelevant memorization that would just be forgotten after the end of the course.

I can't change the past, but I hope to learn from it so that I have a better attitude for the future. At any rate, it feels great to finally be done.
Shepherd's Pie - Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tonight Priscilla and I cooked for Steve and Shirley at Priscilla's house. It's our last time meeting with them before they leave for the Bay Area. It's sad to see them leave, but I'll be joining them soon. ;)

We made grilled salmon that my dad taught us how to make, and shepherd's pie that Priscilla learned somewhere. Her dad made a Chinese dish with bean threads, pork, and cucumber. I have no clue what it's called. :)

For the shepherd's pie, we stir-fried carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and ground beef and added tomato sauce. Then we poured the mix into a baking dish and covered it with mashed potatoes, cheese, and finally a sprinkle of basil. Finally we baked the pie for about half an hour. And it came out pretty well! I might try making it myself sometime. Cooking really is fun!
Course Grades - Saturday, December 22, 2007
Course grades for the Fall quarter are out. My grades are:

Database Design: B+
Ethics in Engineering: A
Morphology: A-

These are probably the best grades I've gotten in any quarter, since I tried the hardest this quarter. I'm not really thrilled about the B+, but it was a pretty challenging course, and graded on a strict curve.

Anyway, it's great to be done once and for all!