Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hail to the Chief!

Something incredible happened last night. I was at the San Francisco Mariott Marquis for FAIM 607 when a bunch of Secret Service agents started showing up. While we knew Obama was also in San Francisco, nobody expected him to be in the same hotel!

Although the President's location is normally kept secret, the presence of all those cops and Secret Service personnel kind of gave it away. Some people gathered in the lobby to try to catch a glimpse of Obama. The presidential state car ended up not going past the main entrance, but it was still really cool to be in the same building as the President of the United States.

Class actually ended early as a result. Security wouldn't let anyone back into the hotel except for registered guests. The professor couldn't get back in and canceled the class instead. Due to the road closures, my parents and I were stuck in San Francisco for about an hour. But at least I have an amazing story to share. :-)

In other news...

Mom invited a bunch of her friends over today for a potluck lunch. Go here for the pictures!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

to Riverside and back... all in one day!

I recently mentioned that I'm planning to study at UC Riverside starting this fall. To learn more about the school, my family took a day trip down to Riverside yesterday to see the campus. This was a worthwhile experience as we gained a lot of insight from the professors and their students!

It was an exhausting morning as we had to get up early for our 7:30 a.m. flight. Though there was an 11:05 a.m. one available, my parents didn't want to arrive too late. The weather in SoCal was warmer than expected but too hot for the most part.

Our day in Riverside began with a meeting with two statistics professors, both of whom were very helpful. We then met up with three PhD students who shared their experiences while showing us around. This was followed by lunch with two other students who also gave us useful information. The statistics department had generously provided the food vouchers.

Later in the afternoon, my family met two staff members who went over the dining and housing plans. They always took the time to address our concerns. I can't thank them enough for their hospitality. On the whole, the visit was incredibly pleasant.

There was some free time, during which we checked out the campuses of Claremont Graduate University and Harvey Mudd College. The three of us then had dinner at Denny's before going back to the airport. While we could have arrived home two hours earlier, that would have cost $80 per person. The flight home was anything but enjoyable as I got a nasty headache. Blah.

Because most day trips don't involve flying, returning home on the same day did feel a little weird. On the other hand, Dad is planning another trip to Riverside later this summer. I'm looking forward to that for sure. In the meantime, you can see the pictures from yesterday's trip here.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Berkeley Engineering commencement

Time goes unbelievably fast. A little over six years ago, I was thinking my father was playing an April Fools prank when he revealed that I got into Berkeley for the fall. I didn't even consider applying there - let alone the idea of getting into such a prestigious school - but Dad extended my common application to Cal because he figured it was worth a shot. It seems he was right!

Fast forward to the College of Engineering commencement. I actually received my B.S. in Engineering Math & Statistics last summer but was unable to graduate with the Class of 2009 on time. But none of that matters anymore. The most important thing is that I'm finally done with college. :-)

Graduation report

The ceremony itself was kind of boring at first as we had to sit through several speeches. We then had to wait for the masters and PhD students to get their diplomas. There were far more undergraduates than graduate students put together, but the process was much faster for us.

The commencement didn't go without a hitch. You see, Engineering Math & Statistics isn't a popular major and had less than 10 graduating students. The guy in charge of seating arrangements had never heard of the major and put me next to Nuclear Engineering. I somehow got separated from my group and didn't know where to go. The other staff didn't know what to do either and told me to follow the Nuclear Engineering folks. I ended up being the very last person to walk across the stage. Talk about an awkward moment!

Everyone then split up for the receptions. Ours was the smallest and had no more than 15 people - and that's including family and significant others. Before leaving campus, I stopped by the IEOR and EECS receptions to thank people who have helped me in my studies. It was nice to see my old IEOR 165 GSI and the IEOR 162 professor for the last time.

The downer is that Bonnie (my faculty advisor) couldn't attend the commencement. She had to stay home to take care of her husband John, who was recently involved in a serious cycling accident. I'm sure Bonnie would have loved to see me get my diploma. We certainly wish John a full and speedy recovery!

Looking back

Like for most people, college had its ups and downs. A major highlight was hanging out with my suitemates Bryan, Danny and Tyler. Though I'm sometimes socially awkward, their company was what made the last school year so memorable.

The dances were another thing that made life at Berkeley so enjoyable. The best part is that many of them were free. The weekly activities in the residential halls were exciting too. I wish the "real world" had more social events like these.

But college wasn't all fun and games. The worst thing that happened was when my freshman year suitemates Cyrus and Andrew kept harassing me and stealing my things. The resident director couldn't do much about it due to lack of evidence. The academic workload was also tough but wasn't anything I couldn't handle. On the whole, I'm glad to have finished such an important stage in my life.

I can't relax just yet because of my classes at St. Mary's College of California. Speaking of which, I should probably get back to studying for the upcoming fixed income analysis midterm. In the meantime, feel free to check out my commencement pictures.

In other news...

1. Dad got summoned for jury duty last week and was actually selected for the trial. He was a little annoyed at first but is happy to have helped make our community a safer place. For those curious, the case was about a man accused of indecent exposure. It was somewhat complicated due to lack of witnesses, but he was ultimately convicted.

2. You may remember that I'm hoping to study statistics after finishing my current degree. Well, getting into graduate school turned out be much harder than expected because we weren't aware of the low acceptance rates. That said, I got a conditional admission into UC Riverside!

Though the school was unable to accept me this year, the admissions committee said I could get in next fall by getting a "B" or above in two particular courses. I decided I was up for the challenge and will be enrolling soon. Assuming everything goes to plan, I'll be moving to Riverside in September. W00t!

Currently reading: Fixed Income Analysis Workbook by Frank J. Fabozzi