Thursday, January 30, 2014

cultural exchange

"Danny, my students said you're really cute!" -- Aunt Jill

Happy Chinese New Year's Eve!

So my aunt Jill and her students Sunny and Melody stayed at our house for a week during their visit from China. This was my first time seeing Jill in over six and a half years. The reason for the visit is that Sunny and Melody were interested in studying abroad. Jill had arranged for us to show them around so they could get a feel of what life in the U.S. was like.

We took the girls to Stanford University and some local stores over the weekend. Jill and my parents also took them to San Francisco and a few other places. It was an exhausting week as Mom had to prepare meals for three more people, not to mention teenage girls in general can be bratty at times. Extra work aside, I really enjoyed their company.

Our guests left this morning and are heading to Florida. They'll be visiting Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World for a few days before returning to China. I'm going to miss them for sure, but at least Jill is planning to come back for another visit this summer. :-)

Currently watching: Star Trek: The Next Generation - "The Royale"

Sunday, January 19, 2014

two parties over the weekend

"I, for one, shall welcome our new robot overlords!" -- me at the Star Wars exhibit at the Tech Museum

So yesterday was the Lab126 post-holiday celebration. Mom also took me to her friend Winnie's house today for Fennah's reading club. It was an awesome weekend for sure.

Lab126 post-holiday celebration

The event was held at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. Having enjoyed last year's event so much, I was greatly looking forward to this one. San Jose is a long drive from my house, but my co-worker Ian was kind enough to let me carpool with him. Thanks, dude!

Like last year, there was lots of food and a dance floor. However, the highlight of the evening was the Star Wars exhibit. To a big Star Wars fan like me, this was geek heaven.

The dance floor opened at 9:50 p.m. Though the music was nice, I wish the DJ was more open to requests. Case in point, he wouldn't play any '80s music because it was "outdated." In addition, the DJ outright refused to play slow songs despite the large number of couples. His only reason was that he didn't like slow songs.

While I'm in no position to tell the DJ what to do, I feel he could have done a better job. The lack of slow songs and older hits was more than a little disappointing. To be fair, the guy worked with a catering company and didn't specialize in mobile entertainment. Perhaps I shouldn't be so harsh on him.

The other thing is that the event was restricted to full-time employees. Because Ian is a contractor, he could only attend the event as my guest. I definitely feel bad for my friends who had to miss out. Shortcomings aside, the party was quite enjoyable. Feel free to check out the pictures and my review of the event.

Fennah's reading club

Mom took me to Winnie's house this afternoon for Fennah's reading club. This was our first time attending the club in several months. It was a new experience as neither of us had been to Winnie's place.

Though the table was full of food, things started getting boring after a while as there were no other young people. On the other hand, I watched the NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks with Winnie's husband Winston. The 49ers lost and won't make it to the Super Bowl, but they put up a good fight. It was overall a great game.

Winnie gave me a small gift bag with candies and cookies as Mom and I were leaving. She also let us take the leftover snacks. Her generosity is truly appreciated. You can go here for the pictures I took at Winnie's house.

On the whole, the weekend couldn't have been better. It's too bad we don't get Martin Luther King Jr. Day off. Oh well, two parties is certainly more than enough.

In other news...

I just passed 100 million total XP in RuneScape about an hour ago. Click here for the screenshot!

Currently reading: The Computer Image by Alan Watt

Friday, January 17, 2014

2,000 skill total in RuneScape

I finally reached 2,000 skill total in RuneScape after a long semi-hiatus. You can see the screenshot here. All those new skills definitely made this milestone possible. I know it isn't a big deal these days, but at least I can access the 2,000+ world.

For my next goal, I'll probably go for level 90 Woodcutting after my membership expires. Assuming I'm not too busy in real life, I should get there in a few months. :-)

In other news...

Tomorrow is the annual Lab126 post-holiday celebration. I'm so excited!

Currently playing: RuneScape

Sunday, January 12, 2014

first RuneScape membership subscription in five years!

It turns out certain RuneScape players have been given the option to buy a month of membership for $0.01 as part of a promotion with PayPal. I was one of those who received the offer. Though I've been busy in real life and haven't played the game much in a while, the deal was too good to pass up.

Jagex has added a lot of content to RuneScape since I last subscribed. Considering that I haven't been a member in almost five years, there is lots of catching up to do. ^_^

Currently playing: RuneScape

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

new 405 nm laser

The 405 nm laser I ordered on eBay finally arrived after almost three weeks!

These lasers are normally sold as 5 mW to comply with eBay policies. From what I've heard, they tend to be more powerful than advertised, often reaching up to 100 mW or more. Though mine isn't strong enough to burn things, I can't really complain because it works as specified.

Judging by the brightness, the output is probably no more than 20 mW or so. The dot is somewhat dimmer than that of my 5 mW green laser pointer, but this isn't unexpected because violet is at the very edge of the visible spectrum. However, the cool thing is that 405 nm light causes many objects to fluoresce. I'll try to have a review up soon. Stay tuned!

Update: The review is online. Check it out here.

Currently watching: Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Symbiosis"

Thursday, January 2, 2014

an exciting January

So my Christmas break has ended. I've got to admit - it's always hard to go back to work right after the New Year.

On the other hand, I'm pretty excited about what's coming in the next few weeks. The first is the Lab126 post-holiday celebration on the 18th. It's certainly nice to have something to look forward to after the holidays. This will be followed by a visit from my aunt Jill. She and two students are coming over from China and will stay with us for a few days. The last time I saw Jill was six and a half years ago!

I also recently ordered a 405 nm laser pointer online. Violet lasers have greatly dropped in price since their inception. Shipping from Hong Kong can take up to two weeks or more, but the laser should show up very soon. So yeah, January is an exciting month. :-)

Currently watching: Star Trek: The Next Generation - "Coming of Age"

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

a warm welcome to 2014

So 2013 has come and gone. Time sure flies these days...

The nice thing is that we had our first New Year's Eve party in six years. It wasn't a big one as we only invited the Wilsons next door and Dad's colleagues Po-Kang and Paul. On the other hand, both my mother and the Wilsons made lots of good food. You can go here to see what we ate.

There were no kids as Julia and Rachel were with friends. Speaking of which, the Wilsons didn't want to leave their daughters home alone for too long and left just after the Times Square ball drop. Paul soon followed as he also had a wife and child at home. Po-Kang shared a ride with Paul and left at the same time.

It's too bad the party ended so soon. Though I suggested going to downtown Mountain View to check out the New Year's Eve events, Mom was tired and wasn't too keen on the idea. Oh well.

2013 in review

On the whole, 2013 was one of the better years. One major highlight was our recent trip to Reno. That was quite enjoyable, especially considering that we don't travel much nowadays. The worst part was when I had pelvic pain for several months. The pain was bearable, but the doctor visits racked up almost $600 in medical bills. >:(

Looking forward, I'm really excited for the future. On the subject of which, my New Year's resolutions are to take ownership of my work and make more real-life friends. Challenge accepted!

Currently listening to: Now That's What I Call Music! 28 (U.S.)