Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year Resolutions

Be alive. Be emotional. Be feeling. Be daring. Be caring. Be disciplined. Be hardworking. Be optimistic. Be self assured. Be me. Be challenged. Be brave enough to explore. Be curious. Be more.

Read books slowly. Savor every image, every noun, every verb, every adjective. Read to evoke hidden emotions. Read to feel, to experience the story, not to find out what happens in the end. Read for the journey, not the ending.


1) East of Eden
2) Cold Mountain
3) Nicholas Nickleby
4) Earthsea

Watch movies with content. Watch movies that make me think. Watch movies with complex plots. Watch movies that inspire, that sadden, that evoke deeper emotions. Watch movies that is outside my comfort zone. No more movies with girls whose only mastery of the English vocabulary is "Oh my god." Watch darker movies.

1) Chumscrubber
2) Nicholas Nickleby
3) Schindler's List
4) Flag of our Fathers

Saturday, December 30, 2006

I need a vacation from my vacation

If you think all vacations are relaxing, then you should take one with my family. I'm exhausted after spending 4 days in Las Vegas. Where should I start?

The plane ride over to Las Vegas was most interesting. I sat in the first class section where being first class meant there was delicious airline food. Yum yum! Another benefit of being in first class is the joys of sitting near a kid with ADHD. The kid spent the whole flight singing "Jingle Bell Rock" and other Christmas music. When the pilot announced that we were almost there, the kid started chanting "I'm in Las Vegas, oh yeah! I'm in Las Vegas, oh yeah!" He also said: "I want a hallution. I want a mirage." I think he hasn't been taking his pills. As if that wasn't enough, I just happened to turn around and face the women sitting behind me. When we made eye contact, she said to me: "Are you a professional gambler? Do you play poker?" I was both amused and bemused. Do I really look like a gambling addict? I thought I had the whole nerd look down. Guess not.

After we landed in Las Vegas, we were famished and ate at a Korean restaurant. Afterwards, I spent the first two days going on a death march up and down Las Vegas Blvd. Like the last time we were there, we were determined to visit every major hotel and casino on the strip. The first day revolved around Luxor, Mandalay Bay, Excalibur, Tropicana, MGM Grand and New York New York. I think I inhaled enough second hand smoke to qualify as a smoker. The architecture were as spectacular as ever and we took numerous photos. A highlight of the first day was when we got to the Tropicana. It has a slot machine right outside the front door. You can play it for free and win some nice prizes. My dad, with his lucky hand, won a free ticket to the Dirk Arthur magic show. Thus, we decided to attend the show the next day.

On day 2 of our trip, we continued on our march towards the northern casinos on the strip. This included the Bellagio and Paris Las Vegas. The musical fountain outside the Bellagio was still a must see. The show was shorter than we remembered so we stuck around, not sure if it was over. Then I realised it was indeed over when the song changed to "Back Here" by BBMak. After the musical fountain, we rushed back to the Tropicana for "Xtreme Magic starring Dirk Arthur." It was amazing! Dirk Arthur performs the largest illusions in Las Vegas. He made both a helicopter and an Amtrak train appear in thin air. In addition, for one particular trick, he was placed in a contraption with 20 seconds to escape before a drill would come down and pierce his body. While the audience, myself included, stared fixated on the stage, Dirk appeared right behind me. I immediately realized he was there when I felt someone place a hand on the back of my chair. I turned and everyone looked in my direction. Everyone, including the woman sitting behind me, were at a loss as to how he got there. It was so COOL! The finale was also incredible. Dirk made a pure white snow tiger disappear when it was suspended in a cage in the air. Just pure magic! After the show was over, we finished the day with visits to Wynn, The Venetian, The Mirage, Caesars Palace and Treasure Island. My favorite casino remains the Venetian. I love the canals and gondolas inside.

Day 3 was began with a five hour drive to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. My conclusion of the day is that the Grand Canyon is indeed a canyon, but it isn't grand. The first vista spot was breathtaking. However, even the impressive scenery began to pall on me after a few more vista spots of the exact same inanimateness. It's worth seeing it once, but there's really not much to do after the first vista point. The canyon stretches for hundreds of miles. There won't be much difference in the vista point that is only 0.1 miles away.

The final day was spent in line for the Carnival World Buffet. The place was so crowded that we had to wait 2 hours before we got seated. The food selection is definitely plentiful, but just get there early.

Next time, I need to hit some clubs (for the first time) and be without parental supervision. Any takers for a trip there next year?

P.S The South Point Hotel & Casino, where we stayed, was really nice. It was built in 2005 so the facilities were quite new. There's also a flat screen tv in the room.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Snow Hog

Geez Denver, you are hogging all the snow. I thought Minnesota was supposed to get all the snow. C'mon, we need the snow so that we'll have fresh water for next year!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Winter Break Update

It's the most fulfilling feeling to be able to just completely relax and be able to do anything you want with no pressing things to do. Thus, how I did I choose to spend all yesterday? At the movies of course! I went to see both Blood Diamond and Casino Royale. Since both movies were rather long, I went to see Blood Diamond at 10:00 am! It pays to be an early bird because the ticket was only $5. After the movie, I proceeded to sneak into Casino Royale.

Blood Diamond starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Dijmon Hounsou, and Jennifer Connelly. The plot revolves a priceless pink diamond and the triangular relationship between a smuggler, a farmer, and a journalist in Sierre Leon. The screen play is fairly well written, with well developed but somewhat predictable characters. The film touches on some greater themes, especially the use of conflict diamonds. The only criticism of the movie I have is that DiCaprio tried but failed to master a South African English accent. Everytime he opened his mouth to say his name "Archer", it felt like he had a cotton ball in his mouth. I stifled my urge to laugh at that. Also, the prop used as the pink diamond was so fake. I swear it looked like a piece of quartz. Since the movie was at 10am, I was the only one in the theater. An elderly lady came in later, but it was pretty much a private showing. I loved it!

Perhaps there was a overflow of imagery into my brain after the first movie, but I did not enjoy Casino Royale as much as I thought I would. I had expected the movie to end when the bad guy died, but it dragged on and on with Bond and the Bond girl. It felt to me that the directors were trying to be too creative by throwing in a plot twist. I wonder if that's how it happened in the book. I do own the Bond books, so I think I will read about it and find out. Still, it was one of the better Bond movies with a lot more exciting hand to hand combat. I felt the previous Bond portrayed by Pierce Brosnan relied too much on cool gadgets and not enough combat skills.

By the time I got done with both movies, it was already 3:45 pm. I had to go pick up some family portraits. After getting the portraits, I proceeded to wander around Southdale Mall. Finally, I wound up in Costco after the mall, where my parents and I picked out two GIANT paintings. Each canvas cost over $100 and are now being proudly displayed on our loft and above the stair case in our home. I must say the paintings are quite lovely!

I'm definitely savoring a perfect day of no homework, exams, stupid incomprehensible professors.

P.S I'm on a flight to Las Vegas tomorrow morning. Yay! Can't wait!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Harry Potter and Book Seven

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.......I can't believe the title has been released for HP 7. This means it's likely for the final book to be out by 2007. I'm half scared that the book will be a disappointment because I expect it to be as long if not longer than book 5. JK Rowling took 3 years to write book 5. Unless she's been cranking page after page this winter, book 7 will be shorter. There's so much for her to cover and odd ends to tie up, and I just afraid she won't be able to. It will be most disappointing if the last book turns out to be the worst one of the series. So far, her books keep getting better and better, and I'm sure she'll will do her best to not disappoint her millions of fans. For those who don't know what the title is yet, I suggest going to and clicking on the pink eraser. It will take you to a door. If you click on all the right things, you will get a key that will open the door and reveal the title to book 7. Happy Holidays!!!!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

All Done!

Hip Hip Hurray for winter break. My last final was on Monday, December 18th at 8 am. Not only was it at an god awful hour, it was also the hardest final. Once more, what the TA and even the professor suggested would be on the test was not on there. Thus, my focus on the study of depth first search, classification of edges, etc were all useless. As if this wasn't bad enough, half way through the final, the fire alarm went off. I had just gotten into deep thinking mode when the blaring horns thundered through the classroom. We had to evacuate the building of course and stand in sub-zero temperatures for ten minutes. You'll never need caffeine in MN.....just step outside during the winter for a bit and you'll wake up. Oh well, at least it will be memorable.

IT Hell finally ended at 10:12 am when the TA's shouted: "Time's up. Please turn in your exams!" The incredible sense of relief from taking your last final is still got to be one the best feelings in the world. Thus, I'm was elated that I've been granted a pass to exit hell. It's only a temporary one though, because I'll have to go back eventually. Still, I'm very happy that winter break was here!

After walking out the exam building, it was time to catch up with people that I've managed to avoid all semester. Not really, but I've just been putting it off using various lame academic excuses like: "I've got a lab report to write" or "I have a test that I need to cram for." There were no more excuses for being anti-social.

The planning for a lunch with Yana had been in the works for a while, and we finally managed to get together after my last final. She had hers in the morning too, but it only took her 40 minutes to finish it. We ended up going to a Korean cafe and ordered its buffet. All I shall say is that Yana definitely got her money's worth while we ate there.

After lunch, I went back to my dorm to enjoy my first day of freedom. I could have done anything I pleased so I ended up watching Dead Poets Society on my computer. Carpe Diem!

That night, I had arranged to hang out with Vanessa. We went to Pita Pit, a place I've never gone before. For those who know me, and especially Vanessa, I rarely try non-Asian foods. However, I'm determined to overcome this. So far, I've gone to an African restaurant, and had a gator burger. Still a long ways to go I know! Anyway, Pita Pit was rather good. It's basically like a subway sandwich except the toppings are put into pita bread. Pita bread is a round wheat flatbread made with yeast. We stayed there for about an hour and a half, eating, talking, and more talking. We've seen each other a total of 4 times this semester, so there was a lot of catching up to do.

Finally, Vanessa had to go because she still had two finals the next two days. I went back to watch a couple more movies. When you have the hub, you have instant access to Blockbuster. I spent the evening watching Scoop (a quirky Woody Allen film) and The Perfect Score. Perhaps it was the effects of euphoria after finals, I really enjoyed both movies. My roommate was studying for his last final and he had to put up with my random bursts and snorts of laughter.

Ahhhh, I want to savor this moment forever!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

One down, one to go!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.......I'm done with Microelectronics!!! It has been the bane of my existence this semester. The professor's English is as articulate as Jackie Chan's, except he isn't funny. I used up an entire THREE SUBJECT notebook, and progressed onto a new notebook. We were bombarded with pages and pages of notes lecture after lecture. In fact, for a four credit class, we had four lectures a week and discussion. His final was probably the most difficult test this semester so far..... I did the entire practice exam (9 problems) and none of the questions were anything like what was on the final. I had some missing equations on my crib sheet..... Basically, life sucked because of Microelectronics. Thank god I don't have to take advanced Microelectronics. I've heard, however, that advanced Microelectronics is actually easier. I'll have to talk to my EE friends and find out. As for me, my next objective is to study for my computer science final. It's at 8 am on Monday. Why do my finals hate me so???? Anyway, enough ranting.....(I just finished my Microelectronics final about an hour please excuse me. I'm still both elated and exhausted now that it's over)

On the bright side, I have only the computer science final left. Originally I was suppose to take my Signals and Systems final that same day at 1:30pm. However, I did well enough on the first two midterms that I have been excused from taking it. What could beat getting an A in an IT class without havinng to study/take the final? I was giddy for a whole weekend because of this =0) I know I'm shameless in saying this because all my friends still have to take it, but I think it's about time I gave myself some credit for all the effort I've put in for my major and for myself. It is a big milestone for me personally because college hasn't been exactly how I had envisioned it to be. The people around me haven't always been the nicest. Example: One of my "friends" said to me: "I wish you were in my physics class, you could help lower the curve." That felt like a giant slap on the face, especially coming from my peers. What's worse is what people around him said to him afterwards: "You shouldn't say things like that, well, at least not to his face." I suppose it's better that they did say it behind my back....then I didn't have to sit there stunned for the entire lecture. Oh well, it did hurt, but because of this, I promised to myself not to give up and be the one who lowers the curve. So far, I've managed to overcome this in my Signals and Systems class, and it feels so great. The down side is that my friends all hate me for not taking the final. I suppose you just can't win on either side of the curve.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Viva Las Vegas

This Minnesota winter has actually been really nice. Fall temperatures have lasted all the way to Thanksgiving! I've actually just brought back my hand-knit (made by my talented mom) wool sweaters back with me today. Thank goodness I'll only have to travel in sub-zero temperatures for another two weeks. My last final is on the 18th....but I might stay an extra day, just to mock all those who still have finals. Nahhhhh....I'm not that mean.

Anyway, after finals, I'm escaping to Las Vegas for five days!!! The temperature there should be t-shirt perfect. Maybe not, for I think it's around 55 degrees during the day. However, I am really excited to take a walk down the strip again. This time, it would actually be really nice out, and I won't be melting in the 100+ temperatures that I experienced when I went there during the summer. I still not of age to gamble yet (just one more to go though!) I tried persuading my parents to go next year instead. However, then I realized when I turn 21, would I really want to go to Las Vegas with my parents??? If I want to live the cliche "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," then parents should not be included in the package. Thus, if anyone wants to join me there next year, I'll gladly accept!

I'll be staying at South Point (see pic).....

P.S The last time I went, I went to every major casino to get a coin box. I might do it again =0)