Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Eve party report

I just got back from the Liang family's Christmas Eve party with my parents. Because we already had a party planned for last night, Mom moved it back to New Year's Eve. That means we'll have a proper New Year celebration after all. Sweet!

At any rate, Carol's party was a blast. I got to meet her nieces Ariel and Stephanie for the first time. Emily and Stacey were obviously there too. The girls were playing Scrabble as we arrived; I teamed up with Stacey and almost helped her win. That was the highlight of the evening. :-)

Several other families showed up before it was time for dinner. All of the food was delicious; no wonder it was quickly gone. The girls decorated cookies and watched Friends afterwards; because that wasn't really my thing, I mostly played Super Mario World hacks on my laptop. Until Emily's boyfriend Daniel arrived, I was the only guy at the party aside from the dads. :P

Mom had suggested leaving early as the Liangs are leaving for Tahoe in the morning. However, Carol insisted that we stay until midnight, to which we obliged. Everyone then opened their presents as it was technically Christmas. To our surprise, there were some for us as well: Carol gave me a battery-powered pottery fountain while my parents got coupons for discounted flights. This was definitely a wonderful experience.

The memories from this party will certainly last a long time. It was nice to see the Liangs again after almost a year. Speaking of which, they're coming over on New Year's Day as well. I'm so excited!

Currently listening to: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time soundtrack - Gerudo Valley theme

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tahoe trip report

The break is off to a good start as my family went to Tahoe over the weekend to see The Nutcracker at MontBleu. Though the weather was unsuitable for skiing, the trip was still a lot of fun.

Day 1

We left around 9 a.m. to catch the 3 p.m. show in Stateline. Dad had hoped to leave an hour earlier, but packing up took longer than expected. I also needed to stop at Berkeley to check out of the dorms for the holidays. However, this didn't take too much time as most people had already left. There was some traffic as well, although we managed to arrive at MontBleu with about half an hour to spare. Thank heavens for small favors.

While I'm not a huge ballet fan, I did my best to enjoy the show. This was our first time attending a ballet performance in over 10 years. The show turned out to be amazing; the only downside is that photography wasn't allowed.

The package included a one-night stay and admission to the Opal Ultra Lounge. After some cup noodles and vegetables for dinner, my parents and I went to the ultra lounge for drinks and to dance to the music. Despite my inability to dance, this was the best part of the trip. It took a great deal of effort to not look like a fool. I'm sure everyone was secretly laughing at me. *shrugs*

There was an art show with a live jazz band and complimentary wine later in the evening. As much as we enjoyed the exhibits, all of us were tired and soon returned to our hotel room. I then found out I got an "A" in Stat 157 after checking my grades. Sweet!

Day 2

The three of us headed to Incline Village after breakfast and checked into Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino. Our plan was to go to Soda Springs as we hadn't skied in over four years, but the weather changed our minds. Other than that, the morning wasn't too bad as we went for a drive around Lake Tahoe. The scenery was amazing!

Back at the hotel, my mother and I watched The Bucket List on our portable DVD player. The movie wasn't that bad despite the critical reviews. Mom then watched A Good Year while I played Super Star Wars on my laptop.

It was then time for dinner. I saw a buffet that looked good, but the price was exorbitant. The food at other restaurants wasn't any cheaper. Greedy bastards. In the end, dinner consisted of smoked salmon and more cup noodles. The evening ended with a stroll around the hotel and a workout in the fitness room.

Day 3

Dad decided to take us to Soda Springs as the weather had cleared up. However, the excitement was short-lived as the weather turned bad again; not wanting to get caught up in the storm, my family went to Truckee instead. The storm soon reached Truckee as well - and it had gotten even worse - so we high-tailed it out of town and began our drive home.

The fun didn't end there as we stopped at WinCo Foods in Vacaville. I love WinCo because everything there is so cheap. The last stop on the way home was the Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant in San Jose for dinner. The food was absolutely delicious.

The purpose of the trip was to see the Nutcracker ballet, but we did much more than that. Though we didn't get to ski this time, the trip was still awesome. I've posted some pictures here. These were taken with my new digital camera. :-)

In other news...

The Liang family has invited us to their Christmas Eve gathering. Because we can't be in two places at once, Mom is moving our party back to New Year's Eve. Two parties to look forward to - I'm definitely not complaining!

Update: The pictures are now online.

Currently watching: The Bucket List

Sunday, December 14, 2008

done with the fall semester + holiday break plans

Friday was my last final of the semester. It's hard to believe Christmas break is already here!

One awesome thing is that the Stat 152 professor made the final exam optional. I'm fairly satisfied with my grade and decided to opt out. I certainly wish more professors would do something like this. Well, I can dream, right?

As for our plans, my family is heading to Tahoe this weekend to see the Nutcracker ballet at Montbleu. Though ballet isn't exactly my cup of tea, I'm super excited about the vacation. It's not often that we attend these events!

Mom also had a party planned for New Year's Eve. However, one of the couples will be out of town on that date. Therefore, my mother moved the gathering to New Year's Day after conferring with the other guests. Of course, that means the ball drop will have passed. Celebrating the New Year just isn't the same without the countdown. I guess we'll see how things go.

Other than that, I'll likely spend the rest of the break preparing for the GRE and my spring classes.

Update: It looks like the party will be on Christmas Eve. I'm not sure of our New Year's Eve plans, but this is definitely better than no party at all. :-)

Currently watching: Blade: Trinity

Friday, December 5, 2008

early Christmas presents :-)

Just because Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over doesn't mean the deals are. Case in point, I came home today to find that my father had picked up various goodies while I was at school. The things he got were:

  1. Two LaCie external hard drives with 1 TB of storage each. Considering that one of my hard drives failed last month, Dad figured we needed something to back up our files.
  2. Some Eneloop batteries and a charger. These will go well with my green lasers.
  3. Several Eco-i-Lite Home LED flashlight from Capstone Industries. They're intended for emergency lighting but should still be useful.
  4. A Nikon Coolpix S550 digital camera. This means Mom and I won't have to fight over the Coolpix 5200 anymore. :-)
  5. An Acer Aspire One netbook for himself.
  6. A 22" AOC Envision LCD HDTV monitor. It will allow us to continue watching TV when the digital TV transition comes.

Getting early Christmas presents is always nice. Thanks, Dad!