Thursday, January 30, 2014

cultural exchange

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

Happy Chinese New Year's Eve!

The past week has been rather busy as my aunt Jill and two of her students stayed at our house during their visit from China. This was my first time seeing Jill since our trip to Taiwan and China six and a half years ago. It's hard to believe how fast time flies. The reason for my aunt's visit is that her students Sunny and Melody were interested in studying abroad for their higher education. Jill had arranged for us to show them around so they could get a feel of Western culture and what living 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 gave them a tour of San Francisco and a few other places afterwards. It was an exhausting week as Mom had to prepare meals for three additional people, not to mention teenage girls in general can be bratty at times. Despite all that, 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 Jill says she hopes to visit again later this year. :-)

Currently watching: Star Trek: The Next Generation season 2, episode 12: "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

The weekend rocked as I went to a corporate party as well as our family friend Fennah's reading club!

Lab126 post-holiday celebration

The Lab126 party was held at the Tech Museum in San Jose last night. It was something I had greatly looked forward to as the one in 2013 was amazing. I took my friend Ian as a guest as the event was restricted to full-time employees. Although San Jose is a long drive from my house, Ian was nice enough to let me carpool with him. Thanks, dude!

Like last year, there were lots of food as well as a dance floor. However, the highlight of the evening was the limited-time Star Wars exhibit. It was geek heaven as I've always been a huge Star Wars fan.

The dance floor opened at 9:50 p.m. Our DJ put on great music like he did last time. The downside is that he wouldn't take any requests. Case in point, I suggested some '80s music - which he dismissed as "outdated" despite it still being popular. The DJ also outright refused to play any slow songs even though many guests came as couples. He didn't give a reason other than that he didn't like slow songs.

While I'm in no position to tell the DJ how to do his job, I feel he should have read the crowd better. To be honest, the lack of slow songs and older hits was more than a little disappointing. In his defense, the guy worked with a catering company and probably didn't specialize in mobile entertainment. Perhaps I shouldn't be so harsh on him. At any rate, I've been on my soapbox long enough. ^_^

I've posted some pictures from the party here. You can also read my review of the event.

Fennah's reading club

Today wasn't too shabby either as Mom and I went to Fennah's reading club at Winnie's house. This was our first time attending the club in several months. It was also a new experience as neither of us had been to Winnie's place before.

As with most reading club gatherings, there were lots of food. The party started getting boring after a while as there was nobody else my age. 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 unfortunately lost and thus won't make it to the Super Bowl this year, but it was overall a good game.

As my mother and I were leaving, Winnie gave me a small gift bag with candies and cookies. 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.

This weekend was quite exciting despite being somewhat exhausting. It's too bad I don't have Martin Luther King, Jr. Day off. Of course, that's nothing to complain about, especially considering that I already had two parties.

In other news...

I passed 100 million total experience in RuneScape today. 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 playing on and off for three years. This probably isn't such a big deal anymore now that we have so many skills, but I couldn't resist the opportunity to brag. You can see the screenshot here.

In other news...

The annual Lab126 post-holiday party is tomorrow. I'm so excited!

Currently playing: RuneScape

Sunday, January 12, 2014

O hai, RuneScape members!

You may remember that I used to post about RuneScape all the time. I haven't played it much lately due to being busy with real life, but Jagex has recently been running a promotion where selected players could get a month of membership for just $0.01 by paying with PayPal. If only insurance was that cheap!

Being one of those eligible, I redeemed the offer as it was way too good to pass up. While I don't expect to play much now that I'm working, I do hope to complete a few quests and level up some of my lower skills. In any case, there is lots of catching up to do as I haven't been a member in almost five years. ^_^

Currently playing: RuneScape

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

new 405 nm laser!

The 405 nm laser pointer I ordered on eBay last month finally arrived in the mail after almost three weeks. It was well worth the wait!

These lasers are normally sold as 5 mW to comply with eBay policies. From what I've heard, they tend to be much more powerful than advertised, often reaching up to 100 mW or more. That said, mine probably isn't that strong as it doesn't burn anything or even sting my skin. Judging by the brightness, I'd say the output is around 15 to 20 mW. The dot is somewhat dimmer than that of my 5 mW green laser pointer, but this isn't unexpected as violet is at the very edge of the visible spectrum.

The coolest thing about 405 nm lasers is that their wavelength causes many objects to fluoresce. They would certainly make for some very interesting photos. In any case, 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 season 1, episode 22: "Symbiosis"

Thursday, January 2, 2014

an exciting January...

I'm back in the office as Christmas break has ended. I've got to admit - going back to work right after the New Year is so hard, especially on the 2nd.

On the other hand, there are many great things coming this month. For starters, I only have to work two days until it's the weekend again. Lab126 is also having its annual post-holiday celebration on the 18th. The week after that, my aunt Jill and two of her students will be visiting from China and staying with my family for a few days. This will be our first time seeing Jill in six and a half years, something I'm greatly looking forward to.

I also have a 405 nm laser that is due to arrive soon. Seeing that violet lasers have greatly dropped in price since their inception, I took the plunge and ordered one on eBay last month. Shipping from Hong Kong can take up to two weeks or more, but the laser should show up anytime now.

So yeah, January should be super exciting. :-)

Currently watching: Star Trek: The Next Generation season 1, episode 19: "Coming of Age"

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

So 2013 has come and gone. Each year seems to be going by faster and faster. In any case, happy New Year!

The nice thing was that my family had our first New Year's Eve gathering in six years. It wasn't a huge one as we only invited the Wilsons next door and Dad's colleagues Paul and Po-Kang. Mom made tons of good food, and the Wilsons also brought some, so everyone had a great time at the dinner table. I've posted pictures of the food here.

Alas, the party ended just after the Times Square countdown. The Wilsons didn't want to let their daughters be home alone for too long and were the first to go. The girls were celebrating the New Year with their friends, hence they didn't come. Paul left shortly afterwards as he also had a wife and child at home. Po-Kang shared a ride with Paul and departed at the same time.

There were also some New Year's Eve events in downtown Mountain View. While it wouldn't have been too late to check them out, my parents weren't too keen on the idea as Mom was exhausted from all that cooking. As much as I wish our evening could have been longer, I probably shouldn't complain.

2013 in review

In many respects, 2013 was one of the better years; things generally went well at work and at home. One major highlight was our recent trip to Reno. That was quite enjoyable, especially considering that we don't travel much nowadays. The least fun part of 2013 was when I had pelvic pain for several months. It wasn't extremely bad but was enough to warrant several visits to the doctor and almost $600 in medical bills. >:(

Other than that, last year wasn't too shabby. I hope 2014 will be the same. On the subject of which, my New Year's resolutions are to increase ownership of my project at work and make more real-life friends. Challenge accepted!

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