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:


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.

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


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


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.

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.)


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


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 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.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Self-Challenge: Post a day until I go back to college.

Wow, it's been a long time. It seems like the year just ended and I just started working in lab, and it's already been two months. I'm going back to MIT on August 20th (I'm volunteering for my dorm's orientation rush), so my summer is already 2/3 over. So up until then, I'm going to challenge myself: a blog post every day! Will people care? Probably not, but oh well. XD

So what has Kyumin been up to, besides not updating his blog?

Lab, pretty much. The lab I'm working in is a biological engineering lab, and the project I'm involved in has to do with designing and optimizing a better version of the comet assay. The comet assay is a way to detect strand breaks in DNA through electrophoresis. This can be used then to quantify how much DNA damage each cell has experienced. It's pretty cool, I think?

Ejecting pipette tips into sharps containers: THUNK. 'Nuff said.
Spraying my hands with ethanol: Cooling :D
Slicing agarose with razor blades: I like the sensation of the blade sinking into the gel. May or may not make me a serial killer.

Pipetting for PCR: My hands shake D:
Making pH-sensitive buffer solutions: Add NaOH, pH too high, add HCl, pH too low, repeat.