Thursday, December 30, 2010

Current time waster

http://www.hamienet.com/ .
Oh my god. Such an amusing waste of time....I really like the Urinetown arrangements (Snuff That Girl sounds epiccc) and the Smash stuff. I've spent too much time on this thang.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Kanji

Hmmm. I found out about a series called Remembering the Kanji, which tries to use an alternative method to remember kanji. Example: http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/publications/miscPublications/pdf/RK1/RK%201%20%286th%20edition%29%20sample.pdf
This seems interesting...maybe I should get it. I've tried to teach myself kanji/hanja/hanzi/whatever before, and it's usually ended in failure...I just don't really know where to start.

Also...
There's a Very Fast Track option for Japanese next semester. It combines Japanese II, III, and IV into one semester. However, it's MTRF 9-11...quite a time commitment, yowch. If I take this, I can't take 7.05 (Biochemistry), which is technically okay, but will probably not go down well with my advisor. Bah. I really want to take it...I don't know what to dooooo D: D: D:

And for readers I know from MIT, if you have not yet awared, Lindsey has a blog now. It confuses and amuses.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Back!

Well, now that the semester's over, I think I have the time/initiative to start blogging again. :D
Overview of this semester:
1. I joined Syncopasian, an a cappella group at MIT that...well...sings Asian songs. And some other songs. It's been a lot of fun trying out something new and learning fake Mandarin, etc. I'm singing bass...yeah. Not so sure about that. And I've been doing some arranging, which is a blast. See below? I and two other people in Syncopasian arranged this (a medley of Sakura, Arirang, and Mo Li Hua).

2. Classes went well! After dropping 18.100B, everything else was fine. I kind of sort of missed the second 5.60 exam (yeah....almost disastrous), but then I took a make-up and it was all good. Grades aren't all in yet, but I think I got all A's?
3. I'm trying my best to spend more time in 3rd West. Kind of.
4. Fire Emblem. Lots of it. I beat FE7 and Path of Radiance, and got about a quarter through Radiant Dawn. Why is this game so boring when others are playing, but so fun when you're playing? The world may never know.
5. Mahjong and Tractor/Tuo La Ji/Ba Shi Fen/Sheng Ji/80 Points/whatever. Perhaps too much of both. :/ I also taught both for Splash with a couple of friends! That was a lot of fun.

All in all, it was a pretty good semester. But now what? I feel like I should be doing something both fun and semi-productive over winter break, but I don't really know what. Ideas, anyone?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Classes

My classes this semester:
5.60 (Thermodynamics and Kinetics)
7.03 (Genetics)
21M.303 (Writing in Tonal Forms)
21F.501 (Japanese I)
18.100B (Real Analysis)
Yeah...strike the last one. It was just terribad. We talked about balls...and I just stopped going to class. I haven't formally dropped it yet (need to do that by...November?), but I'm not doing the p-sets or going to lecture anymore. Other than that?
5.60
I actually really like this class. The p-sets are rather satisfying to do. I think I like thermodynamics a lot better than organic chemistry. It's interesting to see a mathematical basis for all the "thermo" you learn in high school and 5.112. I like my recitation and the lecture is fine...except it's at 10 AM, so my attendance is patchy to say the least.
7.03
This class...is annoying. Conceptually, it's fine. However, the p-sets are really, really annoying to do. Mostly because you have to use their stupid program. It's like Mathlets (for 18.03) all over again. x_X Lecture is also boring as FFFFFFFF...and right after 5.60, so if I miss 5.60, I tend not to bother going into 7.03 - I feel that much of the time, I feel like I'm better off spending that time just working on the p-set.
21M.303
I still can't decide if the professor is funny or annoying...he loves cracking bad jokes and saying random things. And everyone (except me) laughs at them....how do they do it? I don't know. Also, the 90 minute length doesn't help very much.
21F.501
So far, it's been really easy, I think mostly because I taught myself hiragana and katakana in...junior year? Senior year? Also, there are definitely many similarities between Japanese and Korean which makes it a lot easier to learn. And people say things like "私は日本語人ですか” (I am Japanese language person?) and "私は二十三人です。。。か” (I am 23-ese...?) xD Fun stuff.

Overall, I think this is going to end up being my easiest semester here at MIT (no course X classes!). So, I better not screw this up. Goal: 5.0?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Where's Kyumin?

So as I said before, I would be moving in on August 20th, and I had planned on posting daily until then. Then I never posted again. I've been really busy with things after moving in, but here's a summary?
1. Drama at Next House
2. Drama in lab
3. Drama at Next House
4. New Hampshire
5. Drama at Next House
6. Drama in lab
7. Drama at Next House
8. Freshmen
9. Drama at Next House in front of freshmen

:D
...
It's been an...interesting time here, to say the least.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Live Singers and Auto Tune

Auto Tune. It sounds harmless enough - a pitch correction software meant to correct for minor intonation errors. Its distorted sound has been used by various singers for its effect, from Cher, to T-Pain, to Kanye West, to Rihanna ("Disturbia"). However, with the advent of Auto Tune have come countless singers who rely on it to hit their notes and sound good. Examples?

Train.

Katy Perry.

Kesha. (No dollar sign. NO DOLLAR SIGN. Also, I just realized that the singing part of Tik Tok consists entirely of five notes.)
Upsetting though this trend may be, I think that there are some good points.
1. It allows music to be more accessible to people, so some people who have songwriting or artistic talent but not necessarily musical talent can still use music as a medium.
2. It makes singers who don't use Auto Tune that much more awesome. (e.g. Jason Mraz, Beyoncé, Leona Lewis)
3. Auto Tune the News.

But in the end, I think it's just something that we have to accept. It's like the guitar: those scandalous frets allowed it to be a lot more accessible than other string instruments (like the violin....) to people, which is one main reason why it's such a fixture in music today - music writing and performance was no longer limited to a highly trained elite class. Frustrating to people playing instruments without frets? Maybe. But a bad thing? I don't think so.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nooooooo.

Curses! The 3000th hit happened while I was gone! Oh well. :D Thanks everyone for 3000+ hits! So after some more screwing around (GarageBand is funnn), this is the product I got.

I think it's pretty hawt. So what song do you think I should attempt next? Leave a comment! Also, if you want to attempt the sheet music, let me know. Muahahahaha.

EDIT: Darn you, Blogger HTML editing. Darn you to heck. Well I have a working link up now, at least.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Alejandro Transcription

I got bored and decided to transcribe Alejandro by Lady Gaga for piano. It took...maybe 4-5 hours? I uploaded a computer-played version of it onto YouTube (my first YouTube video :O...I'm not very good at making videos D:), but it's still processing, so I'll post it when it's done.

I should probably teach myself how to play this now that I've written it, but it looks...daunting. Maybe I'll simplify it. Hm. This happened once before as well with a piece I composed - I ended up being unable to play it and asked someone else to play it for me at a concert. Note to self: think of playability before writing music?

Oh, look at that. It's done processing. Faster than I thought it would be, yay.

Names


There are just some names that have been so completely associated with certain people from either real life or fiction that it's kind of unfortunate for people who have those names. A prime example, in my opinion, is a lot of Disney characters' and video game characters' names.

Examples:
Ursula. I can't think of anything other than a creepy purple octopus-witch. I noticed how firmly this was implanted in my mind when I was reading a story by Ursula LeGuinn...and couldn't stop thinking of...tentacles. D:


Mickey. Though much less creepy than Ursula, I think it can be hard not to think of Mickey Mouse whenever you hear the name Mickey. Speaking of not thinking of things, I just lost The Game.
Mario/Luigi. Oh dear. Our favorite Japanese-Italian-American plumber-warrior-brothers.
Ike. He fights for his friends by setting shit on fire.

Though of course, this is not only limited to Disney and video games. Other examples include:
Gwen (Thanks, Margaret Cho.)
Marlecia (Though this is just an inside joke.)
Adolf
Britney
Hannibal
Barney (Hm. HIMYM kind of changed this for me. Now instead of a purple dinosaur, I think of Neil Patrick Harris?)
Bon Qui Qui

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Orchestras explained!

Orchestras always seem rather stuffy when you see them performing, with those fancy suits, dresses, and all. However, behind the scenes, there's so much more. But how can you tell your violinists from your vibraphonists? Your bassists from your bassoonists? So, here's a rundown of different sections of the orchestra, along with helpful analogies to Azumanga Daioh characters! (Great show, by the way.) This is mostly based on my YPO experience, by the way.

Orange (conductor): Chiyo's father. He runs this joint. Mmmhmmm.

Yellow (violin I): Yukari. The divas of the orchestra. Prone to frequent mood swings. Failure to ever look up at conductor suggests questionable driving ability.
Olive green (violin II): Tomo. Divas-in-training with a bit of an inferiority complex. Will probably become like Yukari-sensei/violin I when they grow up.
Purple (viola): Osaka. Spacey, oblivious, slow on the uptake. Only ones to laugh at conductor's jokes. Funny in anime, not so much in an orchestra.

Green (cello): Sakaki. Seem to know what they're doing and are serious business. Stabby endpins make approach difficult.

Blue (bass): Kaorin. Follow cellos and do whatever they do.

Pink (flute/piccolo): Chiyo. Generally cheerful, but do not underestimate because of diminutive size. They will cut you.
Turquoise (rest of wind section): Nyamo. Seem to know what they're doing and are serious business, like the cellos.

Brown (brass section): Yomi. Well, they have the serious business part down. However, musical prowess sometimes called into question, perhaps unfairly.
Red (percussion): Kimura. They don't seem to have much to do, and are probably watching you from afar. Be afraid.

MITSPO


So as I said yesterday, I went to a MITSPO concert. But what is MITSPO, you say? It's the MIT Summer Philharmonic Orchestra, and is basically the summer version of MITSO. However, it seems to be more open to the community, and the conductor is different.

MITSO is...mm. Let's just say...the players are decent, but the conductor....yeah. Um. No. Bad repertoire, bad rehearsal time management, and bad attitude makes up for a great way to waste 5 hours a week during weekdays, including during that all-important Thursday night (p-setting D:). The concerts are very gimmicky, so the audience usually likes it, as well? Though my parents listened and were just like.....no. Spoiled by YPO and All-Easterns, lol.

However, my friend said that MITSPO was a lot better, and we got invited by somebody in the orchestra, so we went. They played Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet, and Liszt's Faust something. They were...pretty good? However, I felt that the players' limitations were more visible. In MITSO, the orchestra really didn't play to its full potential because of the conductor's limitations, but I think the opposite was true with MITSPO. After all, they only had seven rehearsals. However, that didn't stop the conductor from being very ambitious with the repertoire.

The Tchaikovsky was okay but long, and Liszt's Faust piece was GOD-AWFUL LONG. It was something like 70-80 minutes, with three very repetitive, (IMO) disorganized movements. I don't know...usually I don't mind long pieces, but this piece just seemed to go in circles and seemed to lack...a point. Also, since the pieces were so long, I think they just didn't have enough time to rehearse it all that well. I don't know. I think it would have been better to just pick shorter pieces and play them well rather than play really long pieces not as well. =/

I had really high expectations (too high?) of MITSPO, and I can't say that it met them. However, I think that if they play pieces that they can more realistically think of performing with such a short rehearsal time, they'd be great.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Oh man.

Well, that was a long day. It involved accidentally waking up at 5:15 (!), getting a haircut, taking my brother on a lab tour, going to the Museum of Science, going to a MITSPO concert, and becoming incredibly tired well before midnight. Bleh, so tired. Two posts tomorrow!

Hickeys

...or rather, violin hickeys. Those sad, red marks on most violin and viola players' necks. Sigh. I used to not get them, but now I do, and they suck. They're itchy and hurt, and plus there's the whole looking-like-a-hickey thing. One of my friends saw it for the first time and asked if I was making out with Dracula. Well, no, though I'm starting to think that my chinrest wants me dead as well.

(I guess I can kind of see the teeth?)

Strangely, these "hickeys" tend to be the worst for me right after I start playing and right after I stop playing. Maybe this is my body's attempt to punish me for stopping practicing? o_O So as I mentioned in an earlier post, I couldn't motivate myself to practice violin for a long time. Well, after that post, I've been trying to practice more...and my body hated me for it. I had apparently not played in so long that my "hickey" disappeared completely, along with my finger calluses. Ouch. But now it's back to normal: hickey on neck, callused fingers, crushed fingernails...:D oh the joys of playing violin.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

People I Don't Understand

There are some things people do that I just don't understand. Some are gross, some are inconsiderate, some are just weird. Some people might know why these people do what they do, so here goes. Also, I haven't had a post laden with images in a while, so let's get on that as well.

1. People who don't take revolving doors at MIT. It says clearly to use the revolving doors to save energy. Is it that much trouble to just go through the revolving doors? Is there some social stigma associated with going through revolving doors? A lot of my friends seem to shun revolving doors as well...so let me know.
(Or maybe a fear of this happening?)

2. People who lick their fingers when turning pages. ...ew. Just ew. Maybe I'm just becoming slowly more germophobic because of working in a bio lab, but...how can people stand doing this? It's so disgusting.
(They should hand these out in the reading room rather than deodorant. Bleh.)

3. People who pull various T shenanigans. Like people standing directly in front of and blocking seats without sitting down, non-disabled people walking across a nearly-empty car to sit in the disabled spot, people trying to surreptitiously read your newspaper from across the car, etc. etc. etc.
(This is so awesome...words can't describe this. OMG.)

4. People who want to take rides on disco sticks.


A fun quiz!

Which of these things happened to Kyumin today?
a) spilled bleach on his Red Sox T-shirt
b) cut thumb open with glass slide
c) experiment failed...again.
d) got blamed for something he didn't do
e) all of the above
Hint: It's like a permit test.

As in the answer is always all of the above. Along with the big stuff I mentioned above, I also f) had to wake up early for microscope time and was still late, g) almost left my wallet in the car, h) got the wrong meal from the food cart lady (the person before me took my meal), and i) spent 3+ hours reanalyzing images that somebody analyzed backwards. :D

Wednesday the 11th, you are now my enemy. Screw Friday the 13th.

On the bright side, my cell culture's viability increased from 88.9% to 96.1%? Didn't know it could do that.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not Always Right



Unaware Of My Space

Drug Store | Waterloo, Canada

(It is a few minutes after closing time and we lock the door. Moments later I hear the sound of breaking glass. I rush over and see a woman on the ground surrounded by glass. She had tried to walk through the door and broke it.)

Me: “Miss, are you alright?! Are you hurt anywhere?”

Customer: “No! No…I think I’m fine.”

Me: “Miss, let me show you somewhere to sit while we wait for security and the ambulance.”

Customer: “No! I don’t have time d*** it! I have to go write this in my blog!” *runs off*

Ahahahahaha. I would so do this. Maybe. This is a (though uncharacteristic) sample of the entries on the website (The Customer Is) Not Always Right. Basically it's a collection of quotes and scenes from people having to deal with customers. And...well...it's kind of disheartening to see how stupid, self-centered, and just damn annoying people can be. Product of a narcissistic Western (mostly American) consumer culture? Maybe. And yet, I can't...stop...reading....x.x I'm on page 38 out of 355. D:

Monday, August 9, 2010

11 Days...

...until I get back on campus. Well, not that I don't spend half of my waking time on campus now, anyway.

To be honest, this summer has been really stressful. It was my first time working for money, my first time in a lab, and my first time commuting, and it was really distressing to see my summer "break" turn into an endless grind. Moreover, it was stressful getting readjusted to life at home and with parents after a year of relative independence. With the free food, fun trips, and family bonding come arguments, pushiness, and lack of free time. Sometimes I feel like maybe because my parents only had my (7-year-old) brother to take care of, they treat me like I'm a lot younger than I am. And I'm young as it is. D:

So to escape from this, I think I turned to the internet. I've started obsessively checking Facebook. I don't really know why. I think it has to do with a hope that someone else is doing something more interesting than I am. I've been Stumbling. I've been reading webcomics. I've been reading the news a lot. I've been chatting with friends. I've been blogging excessively.

But the only times I've really felt at peace and happy were when I visited Next House or had lunch with my friends from there. This might just be because I'm used to those people and that environment, but still. So, I've been looking forward to getting back to Next House for quite some time now. But people living there seem to be saying that it was no rose garden there, either. Does that mean that I'm just romanticizing dorm life, and that it's no better than home life? I don't know. Bah.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Movies/TV Shows/Manga

I am a movie, TV show, and manga nub. I feel like there are a lot of shows and stuff out there that I'd enjoy, but just haven't been exposed to yet. Especially movies...I got scared easily by movies when I was younger, and a little after I grew out of that, my brother was born, so my family never went out to watch movies. So, I haven't watched that many movies, and still don't. I.E. I haven't watched Inception, Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, etc. etc. etc. But I don't know. Is it worth it to get into the movie "scene?" Every time I go to the movie theater, I always feel like I'm wasting money because of how expensive tickets are. But even if I "obtain" a copy of a movie some other way (borrowing a DVD, for example), there still remains the issue of time commitment - I can never seem to just block off a couple hours of my time and commit it to watching something. =/

The same goes for TV shows and manga. I know that there are great series out there, but I don't know what's worth the time to get into and what isn't. For example, it took me a while to get current on Big Bang Theory, but then I stopped following it because...well, see earlier post. And Bleach took even longer to get current, and...well, it's going in circles and I don't really see a way out for that series, either.

So I guess what I'm looking for are recommendations. What will actually be worth my time? What won't be? A friend of mine has been trying to get me to read One Piece lately. I probably will, but it's just so damn long. No, that is not what she said.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hampton Beach

I went to Hampton Beach for the first time today! Hampton Beach has been one of those "we probably should go there when we have the time" places for the better part of the last ten years for my family (along with the Lexington Re-enactment, Public Garden swan boats, July 4th Boston Pops concert...lol).

Since it's in New Hampshire, I expected it to be a long drive, but it ended up being only about 45 minutes, which was a pleasant surprise. After some wandering, we made our way to near the beach, where there were two parking lots next to each other, one selling for $20 and one selling for $10. Hm. Then we actually got onto the beach, and it was...crowded. I don't think I've been to a beach that crowded before. It's a different experience than usual, but still just as fun. Something about the chaos and commercialization of the place just seemed so...American. Lol.

The water was frigid, but after some getting used to, was a lot of fun. I was expecting there to not be any waves (a lot of beaches here seem to be like that D:) so that was a pleasant surprise. Except I can still feel a kind of rocking sensation...is this normal? I felt something like this after getting on a sailboat for the first time in Maine. Maybe something's wrong with my inner ear. Eh.

Friday, August 6, 2010

I spent way too much money today.

Charlie Card charging: $20.40
Lunch at Café 4: $5.65
Dinner at Island Hopper: $18.00
Joe T's air conditioner: $25.00
Ice cream from JP Licks: $3.99
Having a great time with friends: $73.04..........JK priceless

Except I used Visa debit for most of these purchases. Eh.

But it was well worth it. It was sad, though...three of the people there were leaving MIT for good (well, for now), and one was leaving until spring semester. This really reminded me of how short my time here is. In just a couple of years, all the friends I've made here will scatter around the country and the world, and I very well might not ever see some of them again. :( I guess this is what always must happen, though..

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Permit

I finally have a permit! I probably should have gotten this last year...oh well. So today was my first venture into the infamous RMV. I got there around 15-20 minutes before it opened, but there was still a massive line. Well, calling it a line would be a bit of a stretch. People basically just radiated outwards from the door. There were people inside, but they didn't open the door until exactly 10, naturally. However, the wait was not nearly as bad as I had feared - I think I only waited for around 10 minutes until I took my picture and turned in my application. The lady at the desk was really slow, but at least she had a sense of humor...

So then I walked into the testing room. Apparently, it used to be that you needed to get 14/20 questions right, but now it's 18/25. I took the practice test thinking that it would show what kind of questions would be on the test...wrong. It asked such intelligent questions like "What state are you in?" I then started the test proper...and started getting horribly owned. I got 3 out of the first 5 questions wrong. D: The questions in the beginning were very numerical, and I hadn't bothered to memorize numbers. One example was a question that asked how far away you need to be away from trolley stops. I went by the highest-number rule and said 25, but the answer was 8. -_-x

My current plan is to get my license when I'm over 18 (as in next summer), so I don't have to take driver's ed. My dad is willing to teach me, and he's a pretty good driver, so...yeah. Hopefully this works out. I tried driving tonight, and it was OK....except the windows kept fogging up (dew point = 71º x_X).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Of Prop 8 and the Judicial System


As everyone's heard already, I assume, Proposition 8 has been deemed unconstitutional by a judge in California, facing outrage from religious groups. Déjà vu...

The religious groups have repeatedly said that this issue should be left to the 'people' (aka a slim majority) to decide, and disapprove of judges stepping in. They call this "legislating from the bench," and, from a populist point of view, it's a perfect rallying point - power to the people! Why should appointed judges be able to counter what the people say? Isn't that what democracy's all about?

Wait, but then what's the judicial system for? The Constitution designed the American political system to have checks and balances. No one branch of government can have absolute power; the three branches must work together for progress to be made. When I first learned about the three branches of government in detail, it struck me that judges were not democratically elected and that Supreme Court justices were appointed for life. But then, the more that I think about it, the more it makes sense.

One key shortcoming of pure democracy is, in my opinion, the "tyranny of the majority" - one group, if they hold a numerical majority, can pass any laws they please, including discriminatory laws. Even in the American political system, it's essential for Congressmen and presidential candidates to pander to middle America - if not, where would they get votes from? So, the legislative and executive branches can often do little in the way of expanding the rights of minorities, especially minorities that the majority discriminates against. So then, whose responsibility is it to protect the rights of minorities? The judicial branch.

Because justices are appointed for life, politicized though their confirmation hearings may be, they can hold and express politically unpopular opinions, as long as they can justify it through law. This allows them to protect the rights of minorities better than the other two branches can. For example, if Brown v. Board of Education were decided by vote, would it really have passed? What about Loving v. Virginia, which ended bans on interracial marriage? Of course not - the white majority was mainly in favor of segregation and bans on interracial marriage, so the black minority would have continued to be oppressed. These decisions, among others, helped give strength to the Civil Rights movement and cleared the way for other branches of government to pass laws confirming these rights.

For these reasons, I believe that judges' decisions should carry more respect and not be automatically rejected as undemocratic. People seem to think of the judicial system as a rubber-stamping organization that should always listen to and follow the demands of the 'people' (again, the majority). However, judges do not and should not follow the demands of the 'people'. They follow the demands of the law.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Coffee



I'm still not sure of whether I like coffee or not. I always have something like coffee ice cream or a Frappucino and tell myself that I love coffee. But then, I have a cup of regular coffee and...well, I'm usually not that big of a fan. I don't really mind the bitterness (I like tea, am starting to like bitter melon, and like some other bitter vegetables), but the coffee often tastes a bit...off. I'm not sure how to describe it, but in almost every cup of coffee I had that wasn't heavily sweetened, the coffee tasted sour and left a rather bad aftertaste. Am I just having coffee at the wrong places? Should I brew my own and see if that makes a difference? Or maybe this is one of those taste things that you have to overcome.

Though having seven consecutive cups of coffee....hm. Maybe just seven sips? But I've had seven consecutive sips before...bleh. I don't know, but I hope that I get to like coffee.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another marjong post

Yes, marjong. Mmhmm. I guess you could say that this is almost like a Welkin post.
(FNM = Friday Night Mahjong. Durrr.)
Yesterday I had one of the most epic games of mahjong. It was a two-round game, and I was in last place (around 27000 points down) entering the last deal. I had a pretty good winning streak going (on that app, a total of 8 1st and 2 2nd?), but I was pretty resigned to my fate. I was East for that deal, so if there's an abortive draw or if I win, the game doesn't end; rather, it goes to a bonus round where extra points are rewarded for winning. I proceeded to have 9 bonus rounds, and ended up around 30000 points ahead. xD I was so proud.

But I think that was canceled out by my fail today. I got completely owned by a computer whose avatar was a cat. The cat got something like 14 bonus rounds and ended up 80000 points ahead. ...Yeah...um, whut. I actually ended up in last place for this one. I think I was in 2nd before the last deal...D:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Peabody Essex Museum

I forgot to mention this before, but happy August!
My mom likes going places and doing things on the weekend. I, being my lazy self, often don't want to, but then have fun once I get there. -_- Well, today's expedition was to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem! We got passes from the library, so it came out to be $10 total for admission, plus $10 for admission to the Chinese house that they have on display, Yin Yu Tang.
First, about the house. Basically, the owner of a house that his family had lived in for eight generations could no longer live in the house, so ended up donating the house to the Peabody Essex Museum (Not the first thing that would come to my mind, but definitely creative). ...It's pretty amazing that they actually managed to get a house from China all the way to here, though. Some highlights:
1. Due to the Communist Revolution and subsequent Cultural Revolution, there are Communist posters everywhere, and all the pictures of ancestors were taken down.
2. There was a mahjong set in one of the bedrooms. Win. (Speaking of mahjong,
3. They still keep fish in the courtyard. I liked the koi?

The rest of the museum had a lot of...old pretty stuff. I'm not sure, but I think the museum's collection is mostly art that Salem's merchant sailors brought back from places like China and India. So, there was a ton of 18th and 19th century East and South Asian art and sculpture. There was a Korean exhibit, too!

The last place we saw was an exhibit for kids on optical illusions and effects. I spent most of my time there staring at a stereogram book. So fun <3

Six Flags


First post of two for today!
So as I said, I went to Six Flags yesterday with my family. It was pretty fun, though I always tend to wonder if it's worth it for my family - my mom doesn't ride anything, my brother's too little for a lot of the rides (though he could ride a lot more than two years ago :D), and I don't like roller coasters. What, you say? Blasphemy! Well...I don't. I'm not exactly sure why, but I always tend to panic on the way up, and don't especially like the sensation of going down...so yeah. I basically stuck to the water park for most of the time.

The park didn't seem that crowded, but a lot of the rides seemed to be either poorly managed or over capacity. The first ride I went on was a really short water coaster, but we waited about an hour and a half in line. Also, we noticed that a lot of the people (who came to ride, not the people who worked there) were really rude and profane...think of the children :O I don't know why I didn't notice this the last time I came. My theory is that it's because Six Flags is near Springfield, which is known as being kind of a rough town. Eh.

However, we still did have a good time, especially my brother. He went on a lot of the kiddie rides (no wait) and won a prize - he played the game where you're supposed to throw darts at a bunch of balloons and pop one and popped one on his first try. Pwn. I meanwhile tried my hand at the game where you use a hammer to hit something as hard as you can....yeah. I failed utterly.

So as a whole, it was a day of fail. But fun fail. :D

Two posts on Sunday.

I just got back from Six Flags....and I'm completely exhausted. Two posts tomorrow! And yes, right now is Saturday, July 31st. The day does not end until I go to sleep. :P

Friday, July 30, 2010

National Cheesecake Day

Today (Friday) was apparently National Cheesecake Day - 1/2 off cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory! To celebrate, my MIT friends decided to go to the Cheesecake Factory at the CambridgeSide Galleria for lunch. Mmmm. The waiter reminded me of Neil Patrick Harris for some reason...I don't really know why. I ordered the green chile cheeseburger, which was decent, and split a red velvet cheesecake with a friend.
It's a...cake cheesecake, with alternating layers of cheesecake and red velvet cake, served with white chocolate chips and whipped cream. Red velvet cake is basically a rich, moist cake with red food coloring. I kept on trying to taste the difference between this and regular cake, but other than the moistness, I couldn't really tell. But it was still pretty good.

So I had a blast, except for one problem - I left lab at 12:15, and got back at 3. I guess with having to catch the shuttles to and from the Galleria and all that jazz, there was a lot of time wasted. But still...D:

GloZell

A friend of mine really likes his sassy female black comedians. From Nancy Fichandler, to Ms. Wash Yo...Derriere, to Bon Qui Qui, to Gwen (okay fine, the last two aren't really, but still :P), he introduced me to a ton of hilarious characters. So when I found out about GloZell yesterday, I couldn't help but think of him.



P. DIDDY? LORD HAVE MERCY!
Can't...stop...watching...videos...D:? :D?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Political Compass


Political Compass has a Facebook app? Interesting.

For those of you who don't know, Political Compass is a site that maps your political views onto a chart. There are two axes, economical (left is more government control, right is less) and social (up is more government control, down is less).

I first took this test for AP World History in 10th grade. I didn't really have an opinion on many of the questions, so I just answered without thinking much. At that point, I was at around (-4, -0.5). However, as I began to read more news and I started having more opinions about issues (especially social issues), I felt that my views had changed, so in 11th grade, I took the quiz again. At that point, I was at around (-3, -3). The next real change for me was when I took economics and began learning about the principles of the free market. Although I still wouldn't call myself a fiscal conservative, it definitely led me to rethink my fiscal views, so when I retook the quiz in 12th grade, I was at around (0.5, -3).

So on a whim, I took the quiz again today. I got (0.375, -2.9230) - not altogether that different from last year. This was interesting because I thought college had changed me a lot. Then again, I basically never read the news this year, though I'm trying to change that nowadays. (I used to read the Economist every week...good magazine, but my parents canceled our subscription when I moved out.) Have my views calcified? Am I no longer an impressionable young child? :O

So the Facebook app plots your own standing with those of your friends. It was very interesting to note that though on the Political Compass website, the majority of mainstream politicians were to the right and up (more economically liberal and more socially conservative) of me, most of my friends were to my left. Of course, with some outliers, but still. I guess it's the effect of having a lot of relatively young friends from a liberal Boston suburb.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Puzzeru

Lan sent me this interesting puzzle today. I got very distracted during work...-.-
I won't spoil, but basically I got to the point where I had everything figured out, but then realized that there was an animal missing in my chart. I immediately thought that the puzzle was flawed, because there were only four animals mentioned among the clues. However, as Lan so kindly pointed out, that was the question. -___- I had figured everything out but had forgotten the question. This just seemed so me. *facepalm*

Also, not very relevant, but I was looking for a relevant picture and thought this was funny.
What's the funniest/saddest tan line you've ever gotten?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Californians

College is a time when you get to meet people from all over the country. It's really amazing how diverse this country is, not just in terms of ethnicity but also in terms of how unique its regions are. One region I find particularly curious is California.
(Every Californian obviously looks like this. Durrrr.)

Upon coming to MIT, I had met a few people who came off to me as rather standoffish and cold. I was kind of taken aback, because I thought that I had offended them somehow. However, I later learned that they had nothing against me - it was just how they normally acted, and I misinterpreted their behavior. This happened three or four times, and I became very confused. Later on, I realized - they were all from Northern California. So this led me to wonder - kind of like how verbal language differs from region to region (accents, and yes, Californians DO have an accent, as do everyone else), does non-verbal communication and body language differ from region to region?


Also, I've noticed that a lot of Californians tend to be very proud of where they're from - not only California, but NorCal vs. SoCal, where in the Bay Area, LA County vs. Orange County, etc. I've borne witness to many vicious NorCal vs. SoCal debates (not just at MIT, also at PROMYS) and got in an argument with someone about the veracity of a silly Snopes article because it said that California's flag was meant to have a pear on it instead of a bear. Hm. I personally like where I'm from (Lexington), but I've never really talked about it that much. Is there something about California that makes it just so much better than all the other states? Is this another communication thing that I'm being dense about? I don't know. Any Californians want to help me out? :P

Sunday, July 25, 2010

TV shows and webcomics I follow

First, shout-out to Welkin: He talked about my blog on his own. Interesting. I thought I had picked up using pictures from him. And mahjong is totally G. Kind of. >_> But in his honor, this post will have a lot of pictures.

I guess since I posted a rant on shows and webcomics that I didn't like (Big Bang Theory, xkcd, Two and a Half Men), I should talk about shows and webcomics (shomics? webcows?) that I do like. I talked about one last time (SMBC), but here are some others:

TV Shows:
I never really bothered to watch television during high school. So, I basically started watching TV this year.
1. How I Met Your Mother
A sitcom about a guy (Ted Mosby, played by Josh Radnor, in the center) telling his kids (in the future) about how he met their mother. I got into this show this year because of some MIT friends. Although the show has had its ups and downs, it's a show that can almost always get me to laugh. (The sewing machine scene comes to mind.) Also, Neil Patrick Harris singing Girls Versus Suits.

2. Family Guy


I can't say that this is a good show, but it's really just entrenched itself as a tradition among my friends - eating dinner in the lounge while watching Family Guy (after Family Feud) and alternately groaning, gagging, laughing...

3. CSI: Miami
After Big Bang Theory, we wait for a one-liner.


YEEEAAHHHHHH! Then we turn off the TV.

Webcomics:
1. Questionable Content

I was introduced to this webcomic this year as well. It's fairly amusing and has a decent story. I like the AnthroPCs. I think I tend to like more story-based webcomics such as these rather than unrelated gag comics - SMBC I think is an exception. The characters in this comic seem more or less realistic and relatable, which is, to me, a big plus.

2. The Order of the Stick



I...actually don't know how I got into this comic. Another very story-based comic that I enjoy...very wordy though. This comic was the first webcomic I followed (since around 2006). I don't even play Dungeons and Dragons, so why this comic is so amusing to me is a mystery.

3. Dr. McNinja



Sometimes completely incomprehensible, sometimes surprisingly deep, always hilarious. I mean, with a kitten-loving gorilla secretary, a mustache-sporting 12-year-old, and a freaking Irish-American doctor-ninja, what's not to love?

New phone?


So it's been two years since I got a new phone, and my contract is up. So, I've been thinking of getting a new phone and possibly a new phone service. I'm using T-Mobile on a family talk-only plan right now, and though it's on the cheaper side, it's not very reliable, especially on MIT campus. In fact, the service is so bad that I never bothered to keep my cell phone on, which made me kind of notorious for not picking up my phone. =/
(This is actually how I chipped my tooth, of course.)
But there are so many variables! Smartphone or regular phone? Talk and text or just talk? Data plan or no? The mobile phone world has gotten so complicated...But if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know. :D

Friday, July 23, 2010

xkcd and The Big Bang Theory.

I used to like xkcd and The Big Bang Theory. Really. I thought that the nerdy humor was kind of cute, endearing, and kind-of-sort-of relatable. However, over the p
ast year, I've started to dislike this style of humor more and more. It just seems so formulaic: each strip in xkcd seems to be about some nerdy reference, smug observation, or sex, and each gag in TBBT seems to be about....well, nerdy references, smug observations, or sex. (Take out the nerdy references and what do you have? Two and a Half Men.)

(Archetype 1: nerdy reference.)

It's as if both have found a fairly successful formula, and are just making endless permutations of the same thing. Maybe this inevitably happens as a show or comic ages and writers start to run low on ideas. But it just seems so...exploitative.

(Archetype 2: smug observation.)

Is there a way out of this hole? I'm not sure, but one similar webcomic to xkcd that I enjoy far more is Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC). Although it's also a fairly nerdy webcomic, in my opinion, the author tries to be original and goes beyond sticking to a simple formula. So, whenever I go to the website to read the latest strip, I'm always in for a surprise. Of course, I'm not saying for them to copy SMBC's style, but it really makes me wonder if xkcd and TBBT can really start being more original and, well, funny. Though, since both have been so commercially successful, why would they?

(Archetype 3: sex.)

Styrofoam

I hate Styrofoam. Hate, hate, hate. More specifically, the sound it makes. I don't know why, but ever since I was young, even thinking about that sound was enough to give me chills - kind of like how a lot of people react to fingernails being dragged (drug? :P) down chalkboards. I've never done or heard this, but I'm pretty sure that I don't want to. At all.

(Squeaky death.)
It's getting pretty bad nowadays because in lab, styrofoam is used all the time in packaging and such. Even though I always hear it and I always anticipate the sound, it somehow is as agonizing and chill-inducing every time. I had a rather dramatic showdown with a test tube that was lodged in a styrofoam container the other day. Needless to say, I lost. D:

Has anyone else experienced this, or am I just weird? I think I met someone once who reacted like I do to styrofoam, except to metal scraping against metal. In any case, let me know.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lazy Perfectionism

I, for some reason, can't motivate myself to practice violin. My goals are pretty clear-set - to get the Emerson scholarship again (hopefully not too huge of a challenge) and to enter the MIT Concerto Competition (no idea how competitive this is). However, I can't get myself to practice? Why, I asked myself? I think my problem is my outlook on life: lazy perfectionism.

Although I hate to admit it even to myself, I am somewhat of a perfectionist. I still get upset when I don't get A's, when I don't get into colleges, or when I make a mistake in a performance. I actually find it very, very hard to listen to recordings of myself playing - I can only seem to hear the mistakes I made, and...yeah. Maybe this is just natural, but it's really disheartening and frustrating when I feel like I make no progress and make mistakes even if I try harder. Another example were my final grades for second semester.
10.10 (Introduction to Chemical Engineering): didn't study at all for the final, got an A
18.03 (Differential Equations): studied somewhat, got a B (almost an A, kicking myself for this as well)
5.12 (Organic Chemistry): studied for two weeks, got a C
This really got me down. People always say that if you try hard, you can succeed, but...what's this? It's as if my studying was completely irrelevant to the grades I received.

So, what's one to do? One answer's obvious - try harder. Practice more, study more, etc. But because I see what the outcome is even if I try hard, I can never get myself to try that much harder. Because of this, I end up not trying hard at all, hence the term lazy perfectionism. So I can either still try to work harder, or lower my own standards so that I'm content with what I do. But is that acceptable? Will that just be the defeatist, lazy way to go? Both difficult options...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beautiful Life

I Stumbled Upon this today during lab (slow day in lab...) and...I think I'm in love. I'm not really into steampunk, but this just looks so damn cool. I've noticed recently that a lot of the Stumble Upon sites that I like are things like this - cool concept designs and such. And then I realized - they're all from the same site! I don't know how it took me months to realize this, but this awesome site is called Beautiful Life. I'm currently wasting tons of time looking at all the pretty pictures and cool designs...haha probably not the most productive use of my time. But, but...


so cute. :O Apparently this is a pencil drawing. Amazing.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Yu-Pu


Truly one of the great vocal talents of MIT. Mmhmm. He was my TA for 5.12 (Organic Chemistry), actually. He was famous for his...tacky? fashion choices (hair tied up in multiple places, khaki vest, sweatpants). However, I had no idea that he led such a dashing double life. :O The day that I found out about this was the day before my 5.12 final. I'm glad I didn't learn about this sooner...I would NOT have been able to go to recitation without cracking up, haha. Although I can't say that he has the best vocals (or English), what he does is still pretty impressive - a one-man a cappella band. It's an interesting concept and I'm impressed with how much time he puts into each video he makes.

EDIT: The video wasn't showing...

Mahjong

Mahjong kind of gets a bad rap. For Americans, it's either a silly matching game or a game that old Jewish ladies play. For Asian parents, it's the road to gambling doom. For otakus, it's a setting for a yuri-laden anime where players have special powers.

When I first got introduced to mahjong, I have to admit that I didn't think too highly of it. We played with no restrictions on what makes a hand, and it seemed completely based on luck. However, at MIT, my friends introduced me to "actual" mahjong - with hand restrictions, point values, and the like. One variant that I was introduced to was Japanese mahjong, which is the variant played in Saki, the anime mentioned above. (It's actually not a bad series if you get past all the blushing.) It includes special "dora" tiles that increase the value of a hand and emphasizes closed hands, which is supposed to give it a more competitive or gambling-based feel. Though I don't know about gambling, I definitely played a lot of casual games with my friends during second semester (probably played too much, >_>).

Have I found myself a new hobby or just a new way to waste time? Both? I'm not sure, but I'm...trying to make something productive out of it? I'm thinking of teaching a Splash class (I still get e-mails telling me to register as a student...I'M NOT IN MIDDLE SCHOOL ANYMORE T_T) on Japanese mahjong with my friends and possibly even creating an MIT mahjong club. We'll see what happens, and see if mahjong truly deserves all the bad PR it gets.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The T



Oh noes, late D: I always thought that the T was a relatively decent system of public transportation. It has good coverage in Boston, and seemed like a reasonable way to commute to MIT from home. And the T is pretty good. That is, until you actually start trying to rely on it. From morning buses that never come to taking 30 minutes to get from Davis to Alewife, the T is always full of pleasant surprises. So how do I keep myself entertained during all these delays?
1. Mahjong (iPod app)
2. Euchre (same)
3. Metro newspaper (Wholesome stuff, like scoops on Robert Pattinson and tips on how to pack for a one-night stand)
4. Observing other passengers

A large part of the passengers can be categorized into different archetypes.
1. Hipsters
Frequently found in: Davis, Harvard
Distinguished by: ugly plastic glasses, skinny jeans, Starbucks coffee
Known for: Managing to look unkempt and smug at the same time. Might be spotted holding an iPad.

2. Ambitious businessmen
Frequently found in: Alewife, Harvard, Kendall
Distinguished by: fancy suit, smartphone, copy of Wall Street Journal
Known for: Trying to network on the train. Going into HULK RAGE MODE about delays.

3. Parents with kid(s) in strollers
Frequently found in: Porter, Central, Kendall
Distinguished by: milk bottles, juice boxes
Known for: Trying to get a good spot on the train at all costs. This may include shoving, cutting, scheming. It's not selfish if it's for your kid, right?

4. Eccentric cat/dog ladies
Frequently found in: Alewife, Harvard
Distinguished by: cats/dogs, cat/dog-patterned shirts, knitting
Known for: I'm not sure, but I fear sitting next to them. Are those dogs even housebroken....?

5. Students
Frequently found in: Everywhere
Distinguished by: earbuds, iPod, iced coffee
Known for: Having music on so loud that everyone around can hear. In the morning, a deadened, half-caffeinated look. In the evening, a deadened, caffeine-crash look.