A Glimpse Inside

an experiment in expression, slight vanity and extreme boredom...
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:: What's New in the World ::

"I hate you."
-Event Staff

In The Off Hours
Books :: None currently...
TV :: Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, The 4400, Entourage
Anime :: Naruto, Bleach, Gundam SEED Destiny, Sousei no Aquarion
Music :: DHT - Listen to Your Heart

happiness is...
• Annoying Event Staff
• No More Work
• Night Pictures
• Winning at Poker
unhappiness is...
• No income
• Expensive gear
• Integrating flash and DBs
• Driving long distances

:: Friday, February 27, 2004 ::
Democratic Presidential Hopefuls…
So I watched the Democratic Presidential Debate yesterday. Most of the time I remain fairly non-political, seeing the Democrats as simply the lesser of two evils in a broken and possibly irreparable system of government, and bend to the futility of the influence of one individual. Special interests and lobbyist groups now hold sway over a body of individuals that ideally should represent us, the masses, and our President seems inclined to do whatever suits his fancy at any given time and lie to us about it later.

Each of the nominees, including the two most likely choices Sen. John Edwards and Sen. John Kerry, raised important issues including free trade, American job loss, our public education system, the massive budget deficit, our tax system designed to help the rich among some of the many and offered a variety of possible solutions. But I have to admit that the promises of presidential nominees has always left me skeptical and concerned that if elected to office, would they follow through on the issues they ran on? If George Bush or even Bill Clinton are any indication, the answer is sadly no. And so we’ll elect a new President who won’t change as much as he promises but I think would still be better than the incumbent who now resides in the Oval Office.

Al Sharpton said it best when he said that it was ok to disagree with a man as long as that man can be talked to, can be reasoned with. I don’t think President Bush is a man who can be talked to. In fact I don’t think he listens to anything we say at all. I know he certainly doesn’t read about it; he’s admitted so twice. So because of that, I’ll throw my support out there to whoever stands the best chance of ousting this loon from the White House and restoring some resemblance of order to our country.

:: posted by Z [12:10 PM] ::

:: Wednesday, February 25, 2004 ::
Sickness, Pictures, and Planning…
Are the cosmos conspiring against me? Every time I make an attempt to step up my exercise regiment, my effort has been slowly waning over the past few weeks, some misfortune befalls me whether that be a foot injury while running or now with a sudden illness overtaking me. *sigh* I can only hope that this sickness passes as quickly as it came and I can get back to trying to get into shape, trying being the operative word there.

In other news, I still have pictures to post up from Mammoth and now my weekend in NYC, but alas the procrastination has moved in and taken up shop. I come home each night with the full intention of fulfilling my “to do” list but then am immediately side tracked by one distraction or another. Oh well, they’ll get up there eventually.

After more deliberation, I’ve decided to extend my stay in Hawai’i. I mean the ticket is going to cost the same amount either way, though of course room and board expenses will rise. How often will I find a legitimate excuse, not that one of those has ever been a prerequisite, to go to Hawai’i? So I’ve decided to leave a couple days earlier on the 31st of March and stay until the 5th of April, plenty of time to do the fun activities that are only enhanced by being in a place of staggering aesthetic natural beauty such as the Hawaiian Isles. So far Gordon and I are planning on going sky diving and scuba diving. If anyone else has any suggestions, I’m entirely open to hear them. Ty Muoi says her parents can get me a cheap ticket, or at least cheaper than I could get on my own, because supposedly natives can buy discounted tickets not available to us mainlanders. I hope it all works out.

:: posted by Z [11:47 AM] ::

:: Monday, February 23, 2004 ::
A New York Report…
In the course of day to day living it quite easy for me to simply forget that the rest of the country isn’t like California. Our west coast casualness, our wide multilane freeways, and our 70 degree days during the dead of winter are all distinctive to us but easily taken for granted. My first trip to the Big Apple, while short in length, provided me a much needed reprieve from the constancy of Socal life and exposed me to the subtle and sometimes drastic differences between California and New York.

While in the city, Ted and I managed to get lost on the subway, meet up with Ted’s friends Yumi and Jean who he met in Japan while studying abroad, kick it with Aerie and see his phat apartment with its 11th-story view of the river, hit up three clubs (Spirit, Trust, and Sui), see an Asian cultural event that cost us $20 cover (don’t ask), eat Nathan’s hotdogs, New York pizza, New York Cheesecake and Jewish bagels, get thoroughly dehydrated by Yumi’s unnaturally dry studio, see a sappy but still good Korean movie, as well as walk all around Manhattan from the village to Soho. Though we only had a few short days, we soaked in enough of the city to want to come back, hopefully when the weather is more agreeable.

Though the scenery is infinitely better in Socal, I think that life in the city would probably agree with me. I’ve always been fascinated by life in a sprawling metropolis, and New York is definitely that. Growing up in a city where the trend is to grow ever outward, spacing things farther and farther apart, New York with its limited space, towering glass and steel high-rises, and teeming masses of people walking the streets at all hours offers a certain kind of appeal. Anyway, this post has rambled on long enough but in closing I’d like to thank Yumi for letting us invade your studio, Jean and Peter for showing us around, and Aerie for entertaining us at his apartment. And of course thanks to Ted for setting everything up.

:: posted by Z [3:16 PM] ::

:: Thursday, February 19, 2004 ::
Aloha Hawai’i…
So it turns out, rather unexpectedly I might add, that I shall be in the island state of Hawai’i the first week of April, specifically the island of O’ahu. Two days ago I received a fancy envelope, the content of which was an invitation to my friends, Jon and Kelly’s wedding. We go way back, back to my third year and the lazy days spent playing pool for hours on end in the game room at UCSD often at the expense of time we should have been in class. I had known that they were planning to get married for some time but because of the drift that sometimes occurs between friends after college, I honestly hadn’t been expecting an invitation to the wedding and actually was quite touched when I received one.

My only reservation about the entire thing, if one could even call it that, is that everyone I know who will be in attendance is close enough to Jon or Kelly to be a part of the wedding, while I, being only a mere guest, would be stranded by my lonesome during the days while they attended rehearsals and the other hosts of pre-wedding events. But as Ted so elegantly pointed out, “So what, you’ll be in Hawaii!” I guess he’s right. If there are worse places to be stranded, few come to mind immediately.

:: posted by Z [10:01 AM] ::

:: Tuesday, February 17, 2004 ::
The Enemy’s Gate is Down…
After taking weeks longer than necessary to finally finish Black Hawk Down, something that can only be blamed on having six seasons of Friends on DVD, I decided to treat myself and reread Ender’s Game for the 4th or 5th time. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is a book from my childhood that I generally tend to reread every one to two years and though I know its plot and characters intimately by now, I still find each time as rewarding as the last, maybe even more so. I believe great books are like that.

Through the years, I have focused on different aspects of the book. In my youth I concerned myself with the struggle of the gifted children who are separated and often alienated from mainstream society. Having been divided into separate classes for academics as early on as the 6th grade, I could relate to the pressures placed upon them at such a young age to succeed and to be the best at all costs. Likewise, I could understand the conflicting feelings of sibling rivalry Ender feels, the desire to be better than and, at the same time, to be accepted by an older sibling.

Lately though, in the climate of our times, with armed conflict literally everywhere, I have come to focus on the broader backdrop against which the story takes place, namely the war humanity wages against the completely alien and ultimately unknowable “buggers.” An enemy that has so gripped humanity with fear it has changed the very landscape of their society. Children snatched from adolescence to be trained as soldiers and commanders in order to give humanity the best possibility of success in a struggle of complete xenocide with another sentient race. Looking at our own “war” and the way it is slowly shaping our society, maybe not as drastically as what the book portrays but we are only in the beginning stages still, I cannot help but give pause and wonder.

:: posted by Z [11:20 AM] ::

:: Monday, February 16, 2004 ::
Lost in Translation…
I’m not sure why it is that lately I just don’t’ feel like posting new entries. That’s not to say I don’t have new thoughts, ideas and experiences to share, far from it. It’s just that when the time comes to actually spin those things into words, I become reluctant to exert the required effort to do so. Just last week I saw Lost in Translation and afterwards I had all these ideas floating around in my head but no motivation to write them down. The movie truly struck a chord with me. It was partially because of my time spent in Japan last year, seeing many of the sights and hearing many of the sounds showcased in the movie, but mainly because I could easily relate to that feeling of being bogged down in the mire of mundanity or merely adrift in the sea of post-college possibility.

The movie is about two people, an old ex-movie star played by Bill Murray and a recent college graduate played by Scarlett Johansson, who are lost, literally, in the culture and language of Japan, their physical displacement a metaphor for the feelings of confusion and incongruity they feel towards their own lives. Even in our country, where most of us supposedly share a common language, how often have we felt that despite our best efforts at communication, no one hears us or simply that no one understands us? We somehow manage to be lost in translation even when no translation is required. And yet, by chance, through countless throngs of strangers, they manage to find each other and with few precious words exchanged, a friendship forms. The bond between them keeps both afloat and from drowning in their isolation long enough to find their way again. Friendship, it turns out, requires no translation. Thanks to all my friends who keep my head above water.

:: posted by Z [10:33 AM] ::

:: Friday, February 13, 2004 ::
I Can't Tell It's Friday...
Dang I'm such an uber-nerd. It's Friday night and I'm at home, making graphic labels for my anime DVDs, listening to Chopin, and ripping Bowling for Columbine which I rented from Netflix. What happened to my life? Oh well, at least I'm saving money. Anyway, I think I've sat on my ass for long enough, I'm off to the gym so I do something active today. I spent the majority of the day in lab testing my software. It's pretty cool, the sense of accomplishment I get when I run my stuff and it all works right. I guess it's that feeling that reminds me why my job isn't so bad. That plus the short hours, decent salary and pretty much complete and utter freedom. Hehe. Actually I have a pretty cool job now that I think about it.

:: posted by Z [7:57 PM] ::

:: Wednesday, February 11, 2004 ::
A Few Days on the Mountain...
I would have written this yesterday but after driving 5½ hours, coming home at 1:30am, going into the work the next morning and running around in lab all day, I was seriously spent. I actually tried to take 15 minutes after Friends last night to write something but only gibberish-like swill came out. Finally I relented in my efforts to force my brain from doing what it obviously was in no condition or mood to do. But after a good night’s sleep, I’m happy to report all conditions are nominal once again.

So in a word, Mammoth was awesome. We left around 2pm on Saturday and arrived at the cabin, which was literally a 10 minute walk from the slopes, during the early evening. The cabin was probably a little overly furnished but instead of making the space feel crowded and cluttered, it gave the place a very cozy and homey feel; so much so that Akiko and Cheryl opted to jump from the other cabin to ours. After unloading, we hit up a pizzeria down the street and then retired early in anticipation of the coming morning.

The first day was probably the roughest for me. It had been several weeks since my last boarding trip and the rust was apparent. That, coupled with adjusting to using my new and longer board, kept me from performing at my real, but still mediocre when compared to some of the pros in our group, level. There were so many of us that we had a hard time staying together and the radios we had often produced more noise and static than actual coherent words. After lunch, we headed to the top; some 11,000 feet above sea level. The view from that altitude is truly awe inspiring. As we strapped in, though I suppose I only stepped in, I watched an airliner lazily crawl across the sky, its contrail streaking the blue sky white in its wake and noted how close it looked from up there. It was almost as if I could touch the sky.

The second day was even better than the first. After pushing back some of the initial soreness, I was able to finally come to full form and even improve significantly. Being a Monday, there were hardly any souls on the mountain. A fact we took full advantage of by shooting down some runs at extremely high speeds. I even manage to land a few jumps for the first time. We all did the boarder cross track, though some of us ate it on a few of the non-jumps that became jumps. And by the end of the day I was finally able to carve down some of the steep black diamonds.

All in all, it was totally worth the long drive and now that I have more people to go boarding with in SoCal, I definitely intend to go back there more often since it’s drastically closer, by a whopping 4½ hours, than Tahoe. Any discussion concerning the two places ultimately leads to the question of which is superior. While Mammoth is by far larger than even the largest Tahoe resort, it is also much more expensive. Competition tends to keep down the lift prices in Tahoe. Also where Mammoth is wide and open, Tahoe is generally windy and narrow. Both can be great depending on the conditions and your general preference. When I went to Tahoe earlier this season, the conditions were awesome and far better than what we got at Mammoth. So I’ll just conclude by saying they’re different. A cop out I know, but oh well, it’s my site and I’ll do what I want.

Before I end I want to thank Javier for putting the entire trip together, Jorge for inviting me, Akiko for cooking dinner (sorry about the aerobed), Todd for all the boarding tips, and everyone in my car (Jorge, Polo and Todd) for the company on the long trek to and fro. Actually thanks to everyone who went for making it one of the most enjoyable trips in recent memory.

:: posted by Z [9:57 AM] ::

:: Saturday, February 07, 2004 ::
Off I Go...
Well 3 hours and counting till I'm off to Mammoth for the first time. Before I left I thought I should probably post up the pictures from Richard, Albert, and Ellen's housewarming last Friday so I did that for everyone last night. So go take a look when you all get the chance. Anyway, I gotta finish packing and some last minute errands. Oh yeah, also a little update on my whole credit card situation. I called the company I overpaid and got them to issue me a check for the massive credit I have. Then I talked to the company I didn't pay and got them to waive the late fee and interest. Thanks Gordon for the advice. Anyway, later everyone! See you in a few days.

:: posted by Z [9:36 AM] ::

:: Wednesday, February 04, 2004 ::
Credit Card Confusion...
So I got my Citibank statement today and its for several grand more than it should be. So I peruse it quickly and notice two things, first the lack of a deduction of my last payment and second the addition of a late charge. I figure there must be some mistake cause I always pay my bills on time. So I logon to wamu.com and check my transaction history. Turns out I accidently paid the wrong credit card company. *smacks forehead* DoH! So now I not only got charged a late fee, but interest for last month. And to top it off they'll also charge interest for this month too. I can't believe I did that. This little mistake cost me about $150. *sigh* Well this day sucks... I'm gonna go drown my sorrows in DVDs now.

:: posted by Z [8:05 PM] ::

:: Tuesday, February 03, 2004 ::
Deadlines, Tickets, and Reputations…
I started today feeling fairly rushed, almost even stressed, because the new project I’m working on is slightly overwhelming. This stems from the fact that I’m taking half of next week off to go to Mammoth for the first time and my deadline is next Wednesday. So that leaves me only two more days this week (I have Friday off) to finish and test the code I’m working on before I leave. But after an afternoon meeting with one of the lead engineers where he explained a lot to me, everything became much more clear and manageable. I ended the day feeling confident that I’ll be able to finish everything on schedule. Then as I was coming home, it started to rain and I thought if it’s raining down in Socal, hopefully it’s snowing up in Mammoth. I guess I’ll just cross my fingers and hope.

Oh and there’s been an update on my whole free ticket situation. Ted found out that while we have to use our voucher before February 27th, the unused portion of the voucher is issued back to us and we have another year to use the remaining funds. So the game plan now is to go to New York just for a regular weekend on the 20th, then use the remainder to go back when the weather is more agreeable. That pretty much made my day. Now instead of one trip to New York in the cold, we get two. w00h00.

Then later on, as I sat watching Friends Season 3 and burning DVDs, Josh Tran, who I haven't spoken with in ages, called me and told me a funny little anecdote which I’ll share with you here. He told me that at first he couldn’t find my name on his phone, and then Yanni reminded him that it wasn’t under Z or even Dzuy but under alcoholic. WTF! Anyway, I guess some reputations that are earned are hard to change and knowing mine, it could take years. *sigh*

:: posted by Z [9:17 PM] ::

:: Monday, February 02, 2004 ::
Superbowl Weekend Report…
Dang this was an action packed weekend. On Friday was Richard’s housewarming. It’s always good to see everyone together partying in SD, reminds me of the good ol’ days at UCSD. Ted was my DD even though as the night progressed he drank more than I did. I choose to remember my night and only had a few drinks. Unfortunately it was enough to numb the pain in my left foot and I danced on it quite a bit. The result was I woke up in a lot of pain on Saturday morning. But regardless of that, I had a dope time. So thanks to Richard, Alberto, Ellen and Colin for hosting it.

On Saturday it was the traditional post-party pho session at Pho Hoa Cali followed by a trip out into the sticks to check out Alberto and Ellen’s new puppy (pictures to come soon). Unfortunately the night of partying, the lack of sleep, a day spent driving all around SD and the pain in my foot kept me from going to Aubergines that night. I did however go to Hillcrest to eat sushi with my family and Ty Muoi. After a day like that, any normal person would go home and crash but not me, no no. I go home and watch Friends Season 1 on DVD till like 6 in the morning. Yes I realize I am an idiot.

Anyway, I woke early again on Sunday (see previous posts about this condition) and just lay around until the Superbowl party. I, along with a lot of other people I’m sure, thought the game would be boring but after a slow first quarter, it turned out to be a pretty exciting game. It was probably one of the better ones in recent memory. Then afterwards a bunch of us played No Limit Hold’em, many for the firs time. The heads up match ended up being between Polo and me, but I was down to barely anything by then so polo ended up taking the pot.

Afterwards, everyone went home except of course everyone who lived in the house and Mat, who was once again stranded in SD. Haha. But he must have found a ride somehow because I spoke to him earlier this morning. Anyway, I’m tired and brain dead (not a big difference from the norm I realize), hence the sloppy and poorly worded manner of this post, so I’ll end this here. I can't be expected to be eloquent all the time.

:: posted by Z [2:53 PM] ::

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