Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Somehow the only pictures of my brother I can find on the net involve beer, wine (more wine), cartons and bars.

I subbed for Mr Maeda in ESL today and will probably do the same tomorrow. It's only OK to sub in ESL; the kids are great but I have to use my rusty Spanish all day long and, being a perfectionist, that hurts.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

I subbed for Mrs Davis today. I love teaching physics. I gave a big lecture on the electromagnetic spectrum and got to pontificate at length on the shortwave radio my Caltech friends gave me last year on my birthday. Very fun.

My mom's a genius. She suggested I ask my brother if he wants to trip. This summer.

Monday, April 28, 2003

It's sooo tempting to just splurge and go to Bhutan with Geoex.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

So what's up with these Asian Americans thinking over their parents' grandiose dreams, and choosing other paths that fit their own personal interests? Good for them.

Aiya, more travel blues. I need a new perspective on my travel this summer, so I can make up my mind. But more importantly, I need a travel partner. Sorta cool is the Craig's List travel forum, but that's really for San Francisco and a risky way to find a travel partner. I did find another site with very cheap flights to Costa Rica, but the Beijing-Urumqi-Kazhakstan option still has a lot of advantages: familiarity, cost, previous research.

Bah, maybe I should just save the money for next summer.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Several hours of reading can be had at the forums for Regeneration magazine. This magazine's mission is to "provide commentary, critique, and celebration of the church and contemporary culture." It's a quarterly magazine that my dad subscribes to. I personally enjoyed the thread on Sex, Marriage, and Having Kids, which spans several months of conversation and convers multiple topics within the scope of the title. There are many opinions expressed in this thread, many of which appear sensible to me. They're probably boring to most people, but I'd be interested to get a non-Christian's reaction to them, especially the non-Christian's view of marriage.

I don't know if it's healthy, if it's a thing of our generation, our era, our civilization, our race, but I've always felt a special thing for music. In fact, we've got quite a history together.

In Seville, I kept a red plastic tape player on my desk, mostly for listening to Los 40 Principales, and Radio Vinilo in Madrid. Before returning to the US for the last time, my brother and I bought a few blank tapes and recorded a couple of hours of Spanish radio, just to remember. I've still got them packed away somewhere. It's a mix of Euro-dance, USA pop and Spanish ballads. Crazy stuff.

When we lived in Madrid, on the seventh floor of the red brick apartments in Coslada, the grandparents came over for Christmas one year. This meant that they would bring presents, and I knew what I wanted: a CD player. Little eighth grade me, who had grown up with our old Sanyo phono-tuner-tape stereo system listening to Joni Mitchell and James Taylor at 33 RPM, I wanted to own one of those futuristic laser machines. This would be, what, 1991 or so. So the grandparents made it happen, bless their hearts. Not only did they buy a bulky black early nineties model, they subsidized the purchase and got a honkin' boombox, which took up no small space in their luggage.

I was so cooled out, I was the first person in family to own a CD player. The first CD I owned, embarassingly, was a cheap pressing of Mozart's greatest hits. You know, the "we sell 'em cheap 'cause he's long dead" kind of CD. Don't blame me, it was a gift. I quickly remedied that by ordering a Michael W Smith album from the Missionaries Only catalog that sold cheap Christian music to, you got it, missionaries only.

The summer between eigth and nineth grade, the last summer we had in Spain, my parents were actually anticipating us staying in the field (that's missionary speak for "stay abroad") for two more years so they sent my brother and I back to California for the summer. While I was there, I kept my ears peeled for the latest in Christian music and convinced my grandparents, our hosts, to drive my brother and I to the Buena Park mall Christian bookstore to get a hold of the latest dc Talk album. I seem to remember listening to it in the car -- which seems crazy, did they have car CD players in 1992? -- and quickly turning it off; this mix of Christian lyrics and hip-hop beats was a little too wild for my did sit too well with the older folks, I could tell.

Back in the US for high school, my brother and I shared a room, and thus a radio (but then, when have we not?). At first, we listened to a lot of KIIS FM, probably because the dance music most resembled the Euro-dance we grew accustomed to in Spain. After discovering headphones and the Academic Decathlon "posse", my brother and I drifted apart: Aaron towards Groove Radio and the more hard-core techno world, and I towards Power 106, rap and hip-hop.

Senior year of high school when I studied Japanese, I got majorly hooked on Japanese dramas and watched Hey Hey Hey Music Champ every weekend. Of course, Glay and Namie Amuro were not so accesible back in the pre-Napster days, so I became a fan of that gateway drug of choice for American jpop fans, Pizzicato Five and their cadre of Shibuya musicians like Cornelius and Fantastic Plastic Machine. I was even driven so far as to lift a promotional poster for Cornelius' Fantasma from the Brea Borders store while nobody was looking, the worst sin I have ever committed; honest! At Caltech, I spent way too much time poring over the latest digests of the p5ml, the US mailing list for fans of Pizzicato 5.

Through the p5ml, I found out about and subscribed to the Exotiac mailing list, a gathering of music enthusiasts who enjoy kitchy music of the 50s, 60s and 70s, stuff like Tiki music, whistling records and Moog albums. A must for fans of this music is a record player, so I polled the caltech.market newsgroup and plopped down about sixty-five quid for an old Panasonic model with turntable, radio and two tape decks. One of my principles is to try to be as non-commercial as possible, but there are two businesses whose cards I carry around in my wallet. One is the Mad Wolf mongolian bbq on the corner of Harbor and Imperial, and the other is Canterbury Records, on Colorado just west of Lake in Pasadena. They don't have a great selection of LPs, but they're cheap, the staff is friendly and knowledgable, and they have a lot of CDs too. Not only Canterbury, but Opus in Old Town Pasadena had a great selection of international music, including lots of Brazilian goodness, Japanese craziness and French rapper MC Solaar. Gorgeous. Also in the Old Town was Moby Disk, which had a bargain bin in the back that regularly scourged (or is that "scoured") for gems like Boredoms EP and random indie rock.

Caltech was also the age of Napster. Thank goodness I didn't own a computer fast enough to play mp3s at the time; I only managed to amass a small collection of songs in the public Page House computer lab, that I burned to CDs when I graduated. Mostly Jpop and exotica stuff.

One more memorable experience with me and music deserves mentioning. I've always considered myself to have good (read "snobby") taste in music, which, like I said above, may not be a healthy thing. Anyhow, the only time I've ever been humbled -- or at least equalled -- was when my high school friends organized a trip to Scott's cabin in Utah and Julie brought her CDs along. Oh my gosh, I thought nobody but me had ever heard of Cibo Matto, or Bran Van 3000, or the random other Jpop that she had. I hope Julie reads this, hehe. You've got great taste in music.

One final music mention. (Did I say that already? I'll be brief.) Last year when I was living in Tianjin, I stopped by an antique market one day and picked up about a dozen old 78 RPM vinyl records. I can't exactly date them; the shopkeeper said they were cultural revolution age but I'm guessing that they could have been from any time after the mid 1950's. I was able to listen to them last Thanksgiving at my uncle's house, because he collects old Edison gramaphones that can play 78s, but I cut that short because it was too weird to make these all-American relatives listen to Beijing opera, military marches, and musical homages to Chairman Mao, may he live 10,000 years.

That's about it. LIke I said, I'm excited to finally have a burner and a computer I can call my own with a 20 GB partition name "/mp3". Isn't that a little materialistic? Anyhow, who knows what I'll stumble across next.

I've spent most of today reading and coding from my new book on the C programming language. I've also been ripping most of my CDs to mp3 in the background. I realized I was only ripping my new CDs, the ones I purchased in China, so I rummaged through my drawers and found the carrying cases for my old, RIAA-legit discs.

I have to say, I forgot some of the amazing musical discoveries I made over the past decade or so. For example, Pizzicato Five's Sister Freedom Tapes has got to be one of the most imaginative, creative and plain suave EPs I've ever listened to. Still one of my absolute favorites after all these years.

Speaking of old music, I knew that Korean heart-throb superstars H.O.T. stand for "High Five of Teenagers", but I did not know that gayo group UP stood for "Ultra People". You learn something new every day.

Further recommendation, although I know my brother is completely 180 degrees in disagreement with this: anything by Everything But The Girl before they reached their techno stage. Albums like Amplified Heart and Eden are sweet music for those calm-down times.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Can you tell people's race by their face? Beat my score of 3 out of 16, ugh. Or should I say, hooray.

I did the rounds of the sinoblogs and found the following highlights: Peking Duck entry on the Chinese gov't and social harmony, anything by Peter McDermott, a couple posts on SARS at Addicted to Life, and some good stories at Wayne Cabradilla's site.

It's fun to be able to read SARS warnings in the original language. More at 非典 SARS weblog. I like this picture. On the other hand, this one is a little scary. (source: Hangzhou T-Salon).

If I can keep the cost under USD 1000, I could take my mom on a trip. Maybe to Costa Rica and back, both ways in the air. Would that be awful, to take my mom on a trip because I can't find anybody else? Is that like taking your cousin to prom? Anyhow, I'm still trolling for travel partners and destination ideas.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Again from the Dictionary of Hip Hop Lyrics, a resolution for this week is to use the word butter, as in adj: good, in as many contexts as possible. Or better yet, buttah.

Somebody asked me where I want to go for vacation this summer. The answer: too many places. What I really need is a travelling partner with some preferences so I can narrow this down. At the moment, two ideas have come to the forefront: flying down to Costa Rica and returning in an ad hoc fashion overland, and trekking across western China to visit Dave in Kazhakstan. They're both backpacker trips, I wonder if I'll have to compromise to attract a travel partner. Like, stay in an actual nice hotel. Ugh. The other problem is that I need a friend who is both available for three to four weeks sometime in June/July and is willing to spend up to my estimate for this venture, some two thousand dollars. Prospects are not good. But like I said, I'm open to compromise.

Maybe a trip to Spain. Haven't been back in, oh, nine years. And I only grew up there.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Woo! Finally, I have achieved the full intended functionality of my computer. After installing VideoLAN I can now watch DVDs. Now I have to bug Shirley to get my movie collection back. Actually, one more step left: find a TV with the proper connectors (or buy the $30 adaptor at Fry's) and get my TV-out working. (Note for the technically curious: the reason it has taken so long is that I had to upgrade to XFree86 4.3.0 before I could get XVideo working, due to no support for the SiS 615 graphics chipset in 4.2.0. Seeing that RedHat 9 upgrades to both Gnome 2.2 and the new XFree, I just waited until that came out. The movies that I've been able to watch, both DVD and VCD, run very quickly and with no artefacts or anything.)

In case you ever have the fortune of hearing it, keep in mind that the intro to Busta Rhymes' Gimme Some Mo' has gotta be the craziest intro to a song ever. Cracks me up.

And trying to find the lyrics to it, I find the Dictionary of Hip Hop Lyrics, with gems like:

bomb adj
very good
"Gimme that bomb beat"
Snoop Doggy Dog: "Da game is to be sold, not to be told"(1998): "Game of life"

Sunday, April 20, 2003

Anybody else notice that the New York Times has cut down the clutter on their article web pages? There used to be a bar of links down the left-hand side that was completely dispensable, so they removed it. Good for them. One upside is that they save bandwidth, another is that less people will ink to their "Print this page" edition. You know the one you get by adding ?pagewanted=print after the URL.

In the last few days, I've caught no less than two Hong Kong martial arts movies on channel 42. Dubbed in Spanish, of course.

Something for the web designers. GayHipHop.com has a scrolling window title? Crazy!

Friday, April 18, 2003

Did I mention I like simple web pages?

Four kids at tutoring tonight - I think all the teachers are behind, and have pushed back tests to after Easter vacation.

I got a haircut today. I had some pictures, should I post them? Aww, heck, it's nothing wild. Plus I stopped by Sports Chalet and picked up a new toothpick for my Swiss Army knife. I don't use the toothpick - never have. But it's been burning a hole in my pocket every since the old one fell out and was lost. Not only that, I wrote up a bunch of thank you letters for the folks who helped me with my grad school apps. I meant to wash the car, too, but the letters took it out of me. And a little procrastination. But that's ok, I got a lot done today. I got this Saturday off from Borders, maybe I'll do it then. There seems to be a pattern: when I ask for a day off, I get the same day off the next week without asking. Evil conspiracy? I don't really mind; like I've said before, if they cut me down to 3 hours per week I wouldn't mind. As long as I've got the discount and book loan priveleges, I'm great.

Priveleges which, I forgot to mention, are running at half speed right now since they arbitrarily started to crack down on people that bring back books late and I got suspended for 30 days. I came this close to quitting over that. Lucky bastards. I suppose I'll last until June. And looking on the bright side, it's giving me a chance to clear out some of the books on the bedside TO READ pile.

Google Pizza Ambassador for Caltech. Today on UGCS.

Yesterday I got asked what my favorite kind of music was. It was my chance to use my new answer. What did I say? Jazz. I'm such a wimp.

I've been asked to be captain in the annual Brea Olinda High School Honors Physics boat race. Captain of a boat, that is. Can I get any more Brea than this? Thank goodness I'm committed to leaving this place come fall.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Sent in my acceptance of the fellowship for Michigan. Woo.

Hey Google, index this page about the size of the Pragmatic I56LVP-F30 56k modem.

A few new photos in the Foto Blog.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

A Short Introduction to Ncurses [pdf] leads to the strikingly cute Keith Gaughan's weblog, leads to You wouldn't know it, but I think you're achingly beautiful and Girl smell.

Monday, April 14, 2003

If this passes, I'm moving to Canada. Seriously. And a big thumbs down (because I'm polite) to Congressman Jos� E. Serrano (D - NY), who wrote up this abomination.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Both Charlie Chan's Revenge and the Angry Asian Man are excited about Better Luck Tomorrow, a film by Asian Americans, about Asian Americans, that is being released nationwide on April 11th. I'd like to go see it on Saturday evening, after I take the Foreign Service Exam.

If I was in an argumentative mood, I'd ask why we need another movie that tries so hard to break the model minority stereotype. Didn't Fast and the Furious do a good enough job? It reminds me of that one website I saw a while ago that made fun of goth kids and showed an Asian American guy with face painted white and red, and dressed in black, with a caption to the effect that today he was a goth, and tomorrow he would be an account executive for Arthur Andersen. But I'm not too convinced myself that I've got the motivation behind the movie correct, so I'll just say that I'm excited to see it too.

Andy Ahn sent me the URL for a webpage with a bunch of his photos. Some of these are of his 24th birthday party, when he went out to dinner with Kevin Yu, Peter Chen, James Huang and company. Aww, they're all grown up!

I've thought of a better answer to give when people ask what kind of music I like: "I have a relatively utilitarian attitude towards music; most of what I listen to is for a certain purpose. For example, I listen to a lot of j-pop because I study Japanese off and on. I listen to Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals to learn about American culture. I turn to KKJZ to learn a little about jazz." Herm, or maybe I should just stick with the generic "You can't beat the Smashing Pumpkins."

I fixed up my freeshell site. It's even got a secret link somewhere. More like a hidden directory. Hidden very well.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

A chameleon? Anyhow, this is the brand of electronic dictionary I own. Neatness.

Following more links, I come across a page with dictionaries of my model, the CC800. Let me say that more explicitly, so that Google can index it: it's the Golden Global View Wen ju xing CC800. Apparently, they can be had in the US as well.

I sealed my letter of declination(?) to George Washington University today, and will send if off tomorrow along with my pre-reg form for the University of Michigan. Which reminds me, I've gotta get those Thank You letters off to my recommenders.

I could definitely teach high school. I could get used to elementary school. But Junior High sucks, from both teacher and student perspectives. Thank goodness I left the country for that period. More on my main weblog soon.

From the Blort: Now this is creative. Somebody computed and graphed the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of Presidential Inaguration Speeches. There's a few surprises (Woodrow Wilson, what happened there buddy?).

Saturday, April 05, 2003

For a minimum donation of USD 20, you too can be a card carrying member of the ACLU. I'm still making up my mind. Reading a US government book to review for the Foreign Service exam really puts organizations like the ACLU in context.

I like webpages with minimalist, retro designs. I like Mister Bonnie.

Every once in a while, I see a web page that makes me think "That's so cool, I wish more people read my weblog so that they could see it too," then ten minutes later I check the Daypop Top 40 and it's on the listing and rising! That happened again today with the webpage for teenagers by weblogging British MP Tom Watson, which I first saw mentioned in the comments of a post on Simon Willison's weblog. Coolness.

Been wondering: what is a neo-conservative? John Hawkins points to Jonah Goldberg, who explains it this way:

So what is neoconservatism? Well, as with most labels that stick, the name comes from the . Michael Harrington, the big-hearted socialist, coined the phrase to describe a bunch of "renegade" liberals and leftists who were moving right. It wasn't meant as a compliment. Indeed, in a very real sense, neoconservatism was from the beginning a more useful word to describe a phenomenon rather than a school of thought.

Woo, that's a mouthful. For a more ideological explanation, we turn to Christopher Zehnder:

I'll take a stab at it. A neo-conservative is really a neo-liberal because he perpetuates the classical liberal economic theories stemming from the Elightenment. The neo-liberal sees economics as operating according to certain laws and believes that the greatest economic good will come about if economic forces are allowed to operate freely according to those laws. Economic freedom is defined negatively as the non-interference by non-economic forces (such as government) in the economic order. Freedom is also defined as a state in which one is not coerced or forced into doing what is against his will. The neo-liberal will not say that he thinks the market should be unfettered, but his only guide, if you will, of the economic order is a sort of moral pressure or persuasion. I think, though I am not sure, that he thinks that this moral persuasion should only go so far as to discourage such things as pornography, abortifacients, violent videos -- in other words, immoral products. The neo-liberal does not want interference in the structure of the economic order, which should arise from the free interplay of market forces operating according merely economic criteria.

Wow, another novel, but a little more enlightening.

That's all.

Word of the day: legerdemain. (From an article in the New York Times.)

Statistical legerdemain is part of Chinese practice and is widespread.

So the question becomes, are journalists truly this erudite, or do their editors sneak in these words after the article is written?

Friday, April 04, 2003

Oh joy, Simon Willison's css-discuss archives are back up!

I know I can hardly say this as a waiguoren, but I still get nostalgic every time I load up Ziboy's photo weblog.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

This is too funny: England has DIY Stamps.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

I posted a final recap message in the Asahi Homecast First Love thread on the KIKU-TV Message Board. The Sunday night drama First Love finished up last week, to be replaced by Otousan next week. I never downloaded the theme song, Sakura DROPS by Utada Hikaru because it's available almost anywhere you look. One song I'm sad I never got is the Tokyo Ska Paradise theme to The Beauty or the Beast. A CD I would pay several hundred dollars for would be one with the theme songs of every single drama I've ever watched on it.

Filled out most of my FAFSA this morning, now I just have to figure out what school to attend this fall. I thought I had it all figured out, then uncle Ted made a comment about UMich being better for networking and threw me for a loop. Anyways, I'll chat it up with him and also wait for Georgetown--I'm not crossing my fingers, I figure the longer the wait the lower the chances. Although the Tufts rejection was my first letter... bah, enough idle speculation.

I finished that Econ midterm essay I mentioned a few days back. A near-final edit is sitting in the vault, if you care to look for it. I recommend looking through the vault anyways if you like digging around in other peoples' stuff--I know I do.

Aww, how sweet, I got a postcard from Colin Powell.