Tuesday, January 22, 2008

back in action at Berkeley

I just moved back to Berkeley tonight. For those wondering, I'm taking Engineering 28, IEOR 131 and IEOR 165 this semester.

The break in review

The holiday season had to be one of the best ever. For one thing, I did particularly well last fall; my grades were all in the "B" range. Considering that nothing at Berkeley is a breeze, all that studying must have paid off. The break itself had a good start as my family went on a three-day trip to Oregon just after the semester ended. The vacation was kind of short but lots of fun.

I borrowed a bunch of movies from the local library right after Christmas. Hellboy was hilarious and had lots of great action. Serenity and War of the Worlds weren't too bad either. United 93 was pretty good as well despite the limited budget. I also saw Escape from New York and Phone Booth during that weekend. The DVD for Blade: Trinity was damaged, but this wasn't a big deal as the library has other copies.

One of Dad's professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was visiting with his family and their son's fiancée. Therefore, my parents invited all of them to dinner at By-Th'-Bucket Bar & Grill on the 28th. This was followed by an awesome party for New Year's Eve. The gathering was undoubtedly a great end to a great year.

Just as 2007 ended with a bang, 2008 started with one. We went to Carol's winter party on the 5th before leaving for Las Vegas the next morning. Dad's boss Kah Yee's son Jonathan then stayed a night at our house on the 12th during his visit from Singapore. I then got my driver's license two days later. W00t!

Aside from preparing for my classes, I visited the library another three times and got several more movies. Superman Returns was my favorite, but Firewall and the remakes of Assault on Precinct 13 and King Kong were great too. 28 Weeks Later was all right, although the first movie was better. I also saw The Chronicles of Riddick and Rules of Engagement before the break ended. It was a busy holiday season for sure.

All that having been said, I should probably get back to studying. Peace, y'all.

Currently watching: Superman Returns

Monday, January 14, 2008

I got my driver's license!

I took the road test at the Redwood City DMV this morning. The exam was about 20 minutes long; I was extremely nervous the whole time but managed to pass on the first attempt. This wouldn't have been possible without the help of my parents; I definitely owe them a lot.

Considering that I'm 21 years old, this was long overdue. Better late than never, I suppose. One thing for sure is that I can already check off one of my New Year's resolutions. :-)

The exam didn't go without a hitch. For one thing, the 1998 BMW 528e suddenly died in the middle of an intersection. Given the car's age, this wasn't completely unexpected but still scared the hell out of me. I was fortunately able to turn on the warning lights and restart the engine. As far as I could tell, the examiner didn't deduct any points for it.

The other thing is that I took a wrong turn near the end of the test. Though I wasn't supposed to stop at the DMV office, I was so excited that I thought the test was over and turned into the parking lot. The examiner got a little mad but still let me pass, much to my surprise and relief. This was certainly one of those "D'oh!" moments. I'm glad I didn't have to do the whole test over.

You might wonder why I got my license so late. The reason is that I don't commute often and never really felt the need to drive. However, my parents had always encouraged me to get my license; after all, they shouldn't have to do all the work when we go on road trips!

All that having been said, I'll do my best to be safe. I won't run over any grandmas, I promise. :-)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Las Vegas trip report

"Um, Mom... that's the porn convention." -- me

I got back from Las Vegas this morning. Dad had to go to the Consumer Electronics Show and decided to take us along so we could also enjoy the trip. I'm definitely not complaining!

Day 1

The trip began with an afternoon flight to Las Vegas on US Airways. I felt a bit nauseous on the plane due to the turbulence. Considering that I don't get airsick often, this was probably the result of not getting enough sleep the night before. That's what happens when you party too much. ^_^

The Las Vegas Monorail brought us to the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino, our hotel for the next three nights. The evening was uneventful aside from dinner at the Sbarro downstairs. The baked ziti was delicious, though.

Day 2

The CES was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Mom and I had planned to explore the Las Vegas Strip on our own as the show is generally closed to the public. However, there was a change of plans after Dad managed to get us in. He wanted us to see what the CES was like, so that's what we did instead. Getting our badges took quite some time due to the sheer number of people. This was followed by lunch as it was already past noon.

It was just the two of us as Dad was in a meeting. The LVCC was huge; there were at least hundreds of vendors. The OEM companies were concentrated in the first hall. I enjoyed playing Quake 4 at one of the booths. One funny moment was when Mom almost walked into the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo by accident. Oops!

We met up with Dad after taking the shuttle back to Monte Carlo. All of us then went to Chin Chin at New York-New York Hotel & Casino for dinner. Though inexpensive, the food wasn't exactly stellar: the entrées were too salty for our taste, and the raspberry mousse cake was so greasy that I didn't have much of an appetite until the following afternoon. Blah.

Day 3

The three of us returned to the CES after breakfast. Mom and I were on our own again as Dad had to go to more meetings. Continuing where we left off, the second hall featured consumer products. One of the vendors had Unreal Tournament 3 on a high-end gaming PC - that was pretty fun too. I saw Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare at another booth but didn't feel like waiting my turn. Intel and Microsoft also had cool exhibits. It was 1:50 p.m. when we were done looking around.

The last hall awaited us after lunch. You're going to laugh at this, but here goes: there was an attractive booth babe that I wanted a picture with. I was about to go up to her when a guy from the booth came to talk me, presumably to deliver a sales pitch.

You see, I'm awkward around girls when other people are around. That wouldn't have been so bad, except the girl simply walked away without a word. She was standing there and must have known I wanted a picture with her. What a bitch. It's not like I was asking her out, but being rejected in front of my mother was downright embarrassing.

Dad met up with us at the hotel as the show winded down. We had dinner before hitting the slots. This was my first trip to Vegas since reaching the legal gambling age. I put in $3 and got back $4.10 after about 10 minutes. A whopping $1.10 profit - not bad for my first time at a casino.

Day 4

Today was relatively uneventful as we had an early flight back to San Jose. The flight was fairly smooth, although the shuttle ride home was longer than expected due to an accident on I-880.


I had no idea the CES could be so fascinating. The highlight of the trip was playing the slots. I certainly owe that security guy for telling us that playing multiple lines improves the odds. While $1.10 isn't much, the anticipation of winning is what makes gambling so exciting. One thing I learned from this trip is that business travel can be fun. :-)

At any rate, I should probably be preparing for my classes as the spring semester starts in less than two weeks. In the meantime, you can see a few pictures from the CES here.

Currently listening to: "Hooked on a Feeling" by David Hasselhoff

Sunday, January 6, 2008

an impromptu candle party

The new year has been off to a good start as we just got back from a party at our family friend Carol's house. It was supposed to be a potluck dinner, but the recent storm caused the electricity to go out just before we arrived. Oh dear!

Due to the lack of power, everything had to be done by candlelight. Our activities were thus limited, although I got to hang out with Stacey after dinner. The whole thing made for a memorable experience as it's not every day that this happens!

In any case, I should probably head to bed soon as my family is leaving for Las Vegas later in the morning. I'll post a trip report when we get back on the 9th.

Currently playing: American McGee's Alice

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy 2008!

It feels like 2007 has just started, yet 2008 is already here. So happy New Year!

New Year's Eve party report

Last night was pretty exciting as Mom invited lots of people over. There were new and familiar faces; our guests were the Liu, Wang and Tsao families, and Michelle and her mother. The latter two left early because Michelle is a morning person, but everyone else stayed for the countdown. I guess they finally got it right.

One memorable moment of last year's party was playing Spoons. That was so much fun that we did it again - this time with a twist: the loser had to dance to Soulja Boy or do the "Chicken Dance" for 10 seconds. Even the host of the party wasn't spared. I opted for the "Chicken Dance" because it made me look less like a fool. :P

All of us then gathered in the living room for karaoke. Though I'm a lousy singer, Tony gave me the microphone. I ultimately had a great time belting out "Dancing Queen" with the other kids. Jerry happens to be a tenor in a professional choir and showed everyone how it's done. He was no doubt the life of the party.

As the clock struck midnight, the older folks had a champagne toast while the rest of us set off party poppers. Having turned the legal drinking age last year, I got to taste champagne for the first time. This was definitely a new experience for me.

Yet all good things must come to an end. The guests left shortly afterwards as most people didn't want to party too hard. I helped with the cleanup before going to bed. On the whole, this gathering was even better than our 2006 one.

2007 in review

One highlight of 2007 was our trip to Colorado in August. I never knew the Rockies could be so beautiful. The trip to Taiwan and China was also enjoyable as we visited many places and reconnected with relatives.

There isn't much to complain about, except when my RuneScape account got banned in October. Although the ban was lifted a week later, Jagex never reinstated my player moderator status. However, I'm not going to lose too much sleep as getting my account back was the most important thing.

I'd say my New Year's resolutions for 2007 were overall a success. Case in point, my grades for the last semester were fairly good. Of course, there is always room for improvement as nobody is perfect. On the subject of which, my goals for 2008 are to get my driver's license, spend less time on the Internet and continue to do well in school.

All that having been said, I'd like to wish everyone a wonderful and prosperous new year. I should probably head to bed soon as it's already past 1 a.m. Take care, y'all.

Currently listening to: Every Breath You Take: The Classics by the Police