Saturday, December 30, 2006

hitting the road

Now that I have my learner's permit, my parents started teaching me how to drive this morning. The day began in the LAHS parking lot. Dad showed me the ropes before I started practicing in his 1988 BMW 528e. Steering a car turned out to be quite challenging. It's a good thing the parking lot was almost empty because I was going all over the place. To be fair, I was never good at driving games either. :-)

We moved on to local streets when I got the hang of it after a while. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous the whole time. Other than that, I don't think I did too badly on my first drive. :D

Of course, freeways and mountain passes are beyond my skill at the moment. I definitely have a long way to go. One step at a time, I guess.

Friday, December 29, 2006

got my learner's permit

I went to the DMV today for the written driving test at the behest of my parents. The test was easier than I imagined. I was off by one point on my first try but passed on the second. W00t!

Because I only have a learner's permit, I must be accompanied by a fully licensed driver at all times. Speaking of which, I'll likely start practicing tomorrow if everything goes to plan. To be honest, I'm a little nervous. Wish me luck!

In other news...

Mom has invited several families over for New Year's Eve. I'm so excited!

Currently listening to: "Pulstar" by Vangelis

Thursday, December 28, 2006

back from another Southwest U.S. trip

The year is ending on a good note as we just got back from the Southwest U.S. again. To be honest, the vacation didn't quite meet our expectations. For one thing, the novelty was gone given that we just went to the Southwest last December. The other reason is that my father and I both caught some sort of bug. Being sick while traveling is the worst. :-(

Having said that, this was still an awesome trip. Continue reading to find out more!

Day 1

It was a hectic morning. Because this was our first time flying Ted, the location of the terminal wasn't immediately clear. Dad feared we were at the wrong place and was jumpy the entire time. To our relief, the shuttle soon arrived and took us to the Ted terminal.

The plane landed in Phoenix a few hours later. Our hotel in Sedona was located right next to the picturesque Red Rocks. That alone made our stay very worthwhile.

Mom and I watched Path of Destruction on the Sci-Fi Channel and The Island on HBO after we checked in. I also edited Wikipedia for a bit before going to bed. Can you get any geekier than that?

Day 2

Dad took us for a drive around Sedona so we could get pictures. One of our stops was the Chapel of the Holy Cross. I didn't feel like leaving the car and waited in the parking lot with Mom while Dad went for a look inside. That was one of my regrets as the church is actually quite beautiful. Another attraction was the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. It was fun to browse the shops despite the high prices.

We then headed to Flagstaff, one of the places we visited last year. The historical district was full of stores and restaurants. I could spend the entire day here.

Day 3

The iconic Monument Valley awaited us next. Though we knew what it looked like, this was our first time here in person. The view of the valley was breathtaking. Pictures don't do it justice at all.

Another highlight was the Antelope Canyon tour. The geology was unlike anything we've seen. It's hard to believe erosion could create such an unusual landscape. Antelope Canyon was by far my favorite part of the trip.

Our journey brought us back to Phoenix in the evening. The plan was to visit Meteor Crater and the Four Corners Monument as well. But having been to both places, my family decided to go somewhere we haven't been before.

Day 4

We went to Costco for groceries and checked out a nearby shopping center after breakfast. This was followed by a stop at the ghost town of Goldfield. Our stay here was short, although I bought some sweets at the gift shop. The rest of the day was uneventful as we were all tired.

Day 5

Merry Christmas!

The next leg of the trip was a long drive to El Paso. One thing I noticed is that the streets were lined with children's clothing stores. I'm guessing the region has a high birth rate. The day ended with dinner at a Mexican fast food place.

There was also the option of visiting Mexico as Dad had brought our passports. However, clearing customs would have taken hours judging by the traffic. That's not even including the time spent in Mexico. After careful consideration, my parents and I agreed it wasn't worth the trouble.

Day 6

The day was mostly spent driving as we had to get to Tucson. For dinner, the three of us had noodles at a Vietnamese restaurant after a brief stop at the University of Arizona campus. The waitress was a little rude, but we took the high road and still left her a tip. The other thing is that Dad started feeling ill in the evening. Getting sick while traveling sucks. :-(

Day 7

Just south of Tucson was the historic Mission San Xavier del Bac. The mission is a well-known landmark in the area. Dad really liked the place and even bought a refrigerator magnet at the gift shop.

Our other major stop was Nogales, Arizona. Of note is that the city was located right next to the border. The entire place looked like a ghetto; none of us wanted to leave the car except to take pictures. I'm not going to lie - that was a scary experience.

Day 8

The flight back to San Francisco was in the early afternoon. I started getting a gnawing pain in my stomach as we arrived at the airport. The symptoms are worse when I'm standing up. The pain is bearable but nevertheless unpleasant. :\

Other than that, the return trip was uneventful. Our very last stop was the newly opened Elephant Pharm in Los Altos as my mother wanted to see what it looked like and buy Tylenol for my stomach pain. It was almost midnight when we got home.


I had an amazing time even though we just went to the Southwest U.S. last year. The highlight of this trip was the Antelope Canyon tour. That has to be one of the most unique places on Earth. Monument Valley and Sedona were also memorable.

The not-so-fun part is that Dad got sick a few days ago. I'm not feeling well myself at the moment either. However, that didn't make the trip any less enjoyable. I definitely hope to visit the Southwest again soon.

Currently listening to: "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen

Historical note: Pictures from the trip are available here.

Monday, December 18, 2006

stupid hit-and-run idiot...

The week had a bumpy start as my mother just got into an accident. Someone hit our car while we were on the highway and broke the right wing mirror. The other driver was at fault because he was going too fast as we were merging. The idiot didn't even stop like he was supposed to. >:(

To be fair, the guy probably didn't know he hit us. The good news is that Mom was able to get his license plate number. I'll file a report with the DMV soon. But perhaps the most important thing is that neither of us were hurt.

Currently listening to: "Alpha" by Vangelis

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Finals are over + upcoming Southwest trip

I'm now home for the holidays as the finals are - pardon the pun - finally over. It feels like the semester went by extremely fast. At this rate, I'll graduate in no time.

The other thing is that we're leaving for the Southwest U.S. again in five days. This will be an exciting trip as the Southwest has always been one of my favorite destinations. I definitely can't wait.

For those still in school, best of luck on your exams. :-)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Halloween dance report

I just got back from a Halloween dance at Stern. It was all right but wasn't perfect by any means. For example, the dance would have been more enjoyable if there were slow songs. *cough*

I'm keeping this short as it's well past midnight, but here is a review of the event if you're interested.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

1,600 skill total in RuneScape

I just reached 1,600 skill total in RuneScape a few moments ago. This likely isn't a big deal to most people because the XP rates are so much better nowadays. Hell, even my 1,281 skill total in RuneScape Classic is probably more impressive.

That said, here is an obligatory screenshot of my stats. It doesn't show me leveling up because I was in the wrong window when I hit PrtSc the first time. D'oh!

Currently playing: RuneScape

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

on true adulthood

I just turned 21 years old. Call me an old geezer, but at least I can legally do things that most people have done as teenagers. :P

I'm at Berkeley right now and will likely be studying. On the other hand, my parents took me to lunch at Red Lobster over the weekend. That was nice for a change as we hadn't eaten there in a long time. The food was delicious!

In other news...

The Cal Alumni Association had a Dance & Casino Night on Thursday evening. This was their first time hosting such an event. You can read my review of it here.

Currently listening to: "Planet Hell" by Nightwish

Sunday, September 3, 2006


So my family went to Stevens Creek Reservoir today to try our new rubber raft. The crazy thing is that we lost an oar blade after just five minutes on the water. The blade wasn't securely fastened to the handle and fell off. It's probably now somewhere on the bottom of the reservoir. Oh dear!

The good news is that we weren't stranded on the lake. Though were able to guide the raft to the shore with the other oar, the whole thing was a scary experience. One can only imagine how much worse it would be if we were on the high seas.

In any case, the plan is to go back to Stevens Creek County Park tomorrow. Let's hope the same thing won't happen again. :-)

Saturday, September 2, 2006

new rubber raft

You won't believe this, but Dad bought an inflatable rubber raft at Mel Cotton's Sporting Goods this morning. I can't wait to try it out on the water. This is definitely something we've never done before.

The plan is to go to Stevens Creek Reservoir tomorrow after lunch. I think it's the perfect place because Stevens Creek County Park is one of our favorite hiking spots. I'm a little nervous but also excited at the same time!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

tabula rasa

I'm now back to Berkeley for my junior year. Time goes so fast. It's hard to believe I'm halfway through college.

I quickly settled down because we moved everything to my dorm two days ago. Speaking of which, my new roommate Ozan is a quiet guy from Israel. However, he's really nice and definitely someone I'd want to be friends with. The two guys in the room next door are pretty cool too. This is going to be a great school year for sure.

At any rate, I should get back to studying as classes begin tomorrow for me. Take care, everyone.

Currently listening to: "Run to the Hills" by Iron Maiden

Monday, August 21, 2006

back from another Northern California trip

The weekend was pretty fun as my family went on another road trip to far Northern California. Having enjoyed our trip in June so much, Dad decided we should go there again before school starts.

Day 1

As with our previous trip, the first stop was Redding. The 250-mile drive was shorter this time thanks to the smooth traffic. However, the weather was still really warm when we arrived. Aside from a visit to Costco, the rest of the day was uneventful.

Day 2

Due to the high temperatures, none of us felt like going anywhere in the morning. On the other hand, my family went to Lassen Volcanic National Park after lunch. This was our first time here in almost nine years. Our first stop in the park was a geothermal area called Bumpass Hell. The three-mile hike was strenuous but otherwise enjoyable. It was overall my favorite part of the trip.

Bumpass Hell wasn't our only stop as we also went to a few other thermal areas. One thing I noticed is that the thermal features didn't seem to be as active as on our previous visits. It's often said that nature is constantly changing. So true.

Day 3

Dad needed to answer some e-mails before checking out of the hotel. In the meantime, Mom and I decided to try the sudoku in the local newspaper to see what the craze was all about. The puzzle turned out to be quite addictive; no wonder everyone is talking about it these days.

The first destination of the day was Lake Shasta. Its blue waters were absolutely beautiful. Mom wanted to visit the Shasta Outlets in Anderson again, although there wasn't anything she needed this time. Our last stop on the way home was WinCo Foods in Vacaville. The best thing about WinCo is that everything there is so cheap. This was a great end to a great trip.


The vacation was lots of fun even though we didn't visit any new places. The family time alone made it a wonderful experience. The highlight of the trip was the hike to Bumpass Hell. Lassen Volcanic National Park is no doubt one of the most unique places in Northern California. I'm sure this won't be our last time there.

At any rate, I should get back to studying as the fall semester is just around the corner. :-)

Currently listening to: "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash

Historical note: Pictures from the trip are available here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

summer school is over!

The summer session at Berkeley has ended. English N1A was challenging but not too bad otherwise.

For a start, there were no midterms or finals. One reason I hated secondary school literature classes is that teachers would often give us reading quizzes. While the writing assignments in English N1A proved to be time-consuming, they were better than memorizing stuff for pointless tests. On the whole, I'm confident I did well in the class.

I dropped CS 61A again as the pace was a little too fast for me. That means I'll have to take it in the fall, but I'll worry about that when the time comes. In any case, I'm glad summer school is over.

In other news...

1. There was a dance at Unit 2 on the 8th. Although attendance was low at first, the event turned out to be quite fun. You can read my review of it here. I also went to two other dances this summer, but nobody actually danced at either of them. Strange.

2. Dad is planning to take us to far Northern California again over the weekend. Sweet!

Currently reading: Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy

Sunday, June 25, 2006

summer school again :-(

I've moved back to Berkeley for the summer session. The classes I'm taking are English N1A and CS 61A. I'm not going to lie - English isn't my favorite subject. On the other hand, the books on the syllabus look interesting. I hope English N1A will be more exciting than my high school literature classes.

I dropped CS 61A last spring after my academic adviser recommended taking CS 3 first. Though I passed CS 3 with fairly good grades, CS 61A still looks pretty tough. After all, most computer science courses at Berkeley are no walk in the park...

The good news is that I'm free on Fridays. So at least I get eight long weekends. :-)

Currently reading: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Monday, June 12, 2006

Northern California trip report

I just got back from a three-day trip to far Northern California with my parents. This was our first time there in several years. It was quite nice for a change!

Day 1

The trip began with a 250-mile drive to Redding. The weather was surprisingly warm when we arrived at our hotel. While looking around the room, my mother noticed someone had left several candy bars in the refrigerator. They became ours as there was no way to find the owner. Can't complain about free stuff. ^_^

Dad took us to McArthur–Burney Falls Memorial State Park as the weather cooled down. Mom had discovered this place a while ago and wanted to check it out. I'm not a huge fan of waterfalls but really enjoyed the place. The spray from the water hitting the pool below was especially refreshing. The trails were pretty nice too.

The three of us visited the Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay in the evening. The bridge was an amazing work of architecture. I saw many teenagers dressed up for some sort of formal event, most likely their prom. This was pretty unusual, considering that few schools have dances at this time of the year.

Back at the hotel, my parents and I watched Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous before going to bed. The movie had its funny moments but wasn't extraordinary otherwise.

Day 2

The morning wasn't too eventful. Seeing that there weren't too many attractions in the downtown, my family went back to the Sundial Bridge for more pictures. The daytime view didn't disappoint either.

Our hotel for the night was in Arcata. The 170-mile drive took several hours due to the winding mountain roads. All of us were tired from the traveling and didn't do much in the evening other than watch The Skeleton Key on HBO. It was a creepy movie, to say the least.

Day 3

The highlight of the day was the Loleta Cheese Factory in Loleta. The store had a generous amount of samples. Dad and I loved this place for obvious reasons. We bought some cheese and a refrigerator magnet before leaving as Mom felt guilty after seeing us eat so much. Haha.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park was our next stop. The trails were beautiful and made for a great hike. The trees along the Avenue of the Giants were also impressive. I couldn't help but marvel at these creations of Mother Nature. The three of us then had lunch at a roadside café as it was almost noon. This was another memorable part of the trip.

It was then time to start heading home after returning to Redding. Dad made a stop at the Shasta Outlets in nearby Anderson so Mom could visit the Mikasa store. That was certainly a great way to extend our vacation. The traffic was fairly smooth and allowed us to get home earlier than expected.


This was easily one of our best road trips ever. The hike in Humboldt Redwoods State Park was my favorite part. The trails there were simply fantastic. The scenery along the Avenue of the Giants was also memorable. I certainly look forward to visiting these places again.

At any rate, I should probably start preparing for my classes as summer school begins in two weeks. Peace!

Currently watching: The Skeleton Key

Historical note: Pictures from the trip are available here.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

three barbecues in a row

So we had three barbecues in a row over the weekend. For a start, Dad had several of his colleagues over on Friday night. Everything was so good that we bought more supplies and invited the Swansons over again yesterday evening. Last but not least, my parents spent much of this afternoon cooking the leftovers.

This reminds me of when we had four barbecues in a row several years ago. As you could imagine, the food got old fast. However, that wasn't the case this time because we had a greater variety of ingredients. It also helps that Mom has 99 cooking in real life. :-)

Speaking of which, today feels like the 4th of July for some reason. I can't wait to bring out the fireworks.

Monday, May 29, 2006

an awesome Memorial Day weekend + level 85 mining in RuneScape

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend.

Friday was fun as my family went to Monterey with the Swansons in their recreational vehicle. This was super exciting as we had never been in an RV before. It worked out perfectly because Dad had always wanted to rent an RV for a road trip.

The not-so-fun part is that Mom and I both got car sick during the ride. I guess trying to watch Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith on the go wasn't such a good idea. Though I felt a little better when we stopped at a beach for pictures, the nausea returned as soon as we got back on the road. Blah.

On the other hand, Monterey was pretty fun. It was nice to stroll along the harbor and browse the gift shops. I bought us some ice cream before we rented surreys and rode them through town. This was followed by dinner at the Red Snapper Restaurant. Yum!

Mom and I got car sick again on the way home. I was glad when the ride was finally over because the nausea was even worse this time. While that was an unpleasant experience, the day trip was overall awesome.

The Swansons enjoyed our company so much that they stayed at our house for a few more hours. Jason and Michael are also avid RuneScape players and kept me entertained while I trained mining. They didn't leave until almost midnight!

Level 85 mining in RuneScape

I reached my goal of 85 mining on Saturday morning. This means I can now mine runite ore without boosts. I don't think I could hit another rock anytime soon!

You can see the screenshot here. It's too bad the boys had to leave and didn't see me level up. Though I could have reached 85 mining last night, the Swansons didn't want to stay up that late. Oh well. The rest of the weekend was uneventful, but that's nothing to complain about. :-)

Currently playing: RuneScape

Thursday, May 18, 2006

done with my second year at Berkeley

Summer is finally here. The Math 54 exam was challenging, but at least I've finished the finals. Hell yeah!

The semester seems to have flown by at the speed of light. I don't know where all the time went. One thing for sure is that I'll miss my roommate Alan. He was one of the coolest people I've ever met. I hope we'll run into each other again on campus. For those still in school, I wish you the best of luck on your exams. :-)

Friday, April 14, 2006

masquerade ball report

I just got back from a dance at Stern. It was definitely one of the best events at Unit 4 to date. I'll keep this short as it's well past midnight, but here is a review of the event in case you're interested.

Currently listening to: "Don't Cha" by the Pussycat Dolls

Sunday, April 2, 2006

an uneventful spring break

To be honest, spring break kind of sucked. Given that it was raining most of the time, my family didn't get to go anywhere. The only thing I could do was study for my linear algebra course. Damn, Math 54 is hard.

On the other hand, my parents invited the Swansons over for dinner last night. It was nice to hang out with Jason and Michael afterwards. I guess that's better than nothing. :-)

Saturday, March 18, 2006

"Blast from the Past" dance report and review

I just got back from the "Blast from the Past" dance. That was pretty fun; there were refreshments in addition to great music. Yet few people showed up. This was rather unfortunate given that WiSE put a lot of effort into the planning. That said, I still had a great time last night. Feel free to check out my review of the event.

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

Thursday, March 2, 2006

10,000 edits on Wikipedia

I just passed 10,000 edits on the English Wikipedia. They're mostly vandalism reversions and grammar corrections, but this was a major milestone for me. Speaking of which, my parents think I spend too much time on that site. I guess they're right. *shrugs*

On a somewhat related note, the English Wikipedia just hit a million articles itself. The project has certainly come a long way since its inception five years ago.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Jocks vs. Nerds dance report

I just got back from the Jocks vs. Nerds dance. Getting there took a while as the Clark Kerr Campus is on the other side of the school. To be honest, I'm not sure if the long walk was worth it. The DJs played mostly electronic music and not a single slow song. Though there was a raffle at the end, the prizes kind of sucked. I've posted a review of the event if you're interested.

In other news...

I recently became a RuneScape member again for the first time in over two years. Looks like I have lots of catching up to do!

Currently playing: RuneScape Classic

Monday, January 16, 2006

back to Berkeley for the spring

I just moved back to Berkeley as Christmas break has ended. It's hard to believe how fast time flies. If only the break was longer. On the other hand, I'm thrilled to see my roommate Alan again!

For those curious, I'm taking CS 3, EE 20 and Math 54 this semester. The cool thing is that Alan is taking EE 20 as well. So at least I have a study partner. :-)

Currently reading: Simply Scheme by Brian Harvey

Sunday, January 1, 2006

Happy 2006!

Happy New Year!

New Year's Eve was great as Dad invited several colleagues over for dinner. Following the meal, the other adults spent a couple of hours talking and singing karaoke. The evening ended with a countdown to the New Year. It's always nice to have a party just after coming home from a vacation.

2005 in review

Last year had its ups and downs. I'd say the highlight of 2005 was our recent trip to the Southwest. An honorable mention goes to my 20th birthday celebration in October; that was undoubtedly one of our best parties ever.

On the downside, my least favorite part of 2005 was when my suitemates Cyrus and Andrew kept harassing me during my freshman year. This actually started last fall, but the second semester was when it got really bad. At any rate, I'm glad I don't have to deal with those two pricks anymore.

All that having been said, 2005 was overall a great year. I'm sure 2006 will be just as awesome - if not better. :-)

Currently listening to: Perdition's Gate soundtrack - "countdown" theme