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Tomorrow I'll need to drive back up to San Jose. I'm sure traffic will be bad, because everyone who works or goes to school has to return tomorrow. One thing I've learned over the years when it comes to driving is I'm a trooper, a soldier -- even if I'm in pain or hurt, I'll grin and bear it.
I've been recovering from the flu, and I think I'm finally through the worst of it. For the last two days I'd been extremely feverish and experiencing cold chills, as if someone had wrapped a blanket of ice around me. I still have no sense of smell or taste, but I am sure those will return in time. It has been a very long time since I have been sick with a case of this severity -- most of the time, I'm sick for a day, I take some medication, I sleep it off, and I am fine the next morning, so it is quite rare that an affliction lasts this long. It is unfortunate in the timing being so close to finals and the end of the semester.
People have told me on more than one occassion, that there's a sense of confidence about me regarding life. To these people, it seems like I know what I'm doing, where I'm headed, how things are going to pan out in the end. You see, I do, and I don't. Even fortune tellers and prophets have a limit to what they can see. But I think what comes through is that I know whatever comes my way, I can handle it. I think having finally reached my age, I know myself.
My basic philosophy on life is this: use your head to make the little decisions, and follow your heart to make the big decisions. Sometimes your head and your heart may argue, and sometimes big decisions are little ones, and vice versa, but you do what you can so that you can live.
On May 9th, 1421, lightning struck the Imperial Palace -- the resulting fires burnt the Hall of Great Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony and the Hall of Preserving Harmony. The fires also burnt the Emperor's throne to cinders and consumed his favorite concubine (his empress had died in 1407). Emperor Zhu Di was so distraught, that he couldn't even make proper funeral arrangements for her burial in the imperial mausoleum. He fell ill, and began issuing decrees that put an end to the voyages of the treasure ships and foreign travel. Thus began China's self-imposed exile.
It's amazing to think and wonder what might have happened had the lightning not struck, had the Palace not burned, had the concubine survived -- if China had only remained open to the idea of exploring and colonizing, would the European settlers have been greeted in Chinese when they landed, decades later? Would Buddhism/Taoism be the dominant religion rather than Christianity today?
To think that the same man who commissioned these great ships, refortified the Great Wall and built the Forbidden City would withdraw inward... makes me realize one thing: sometimes we are closer to greatness than we know, and if we stop, turn around and retreat we will never know what we might have achieved.
That realization is not just true in our personal lives, but in the events of the world as well. 20th century civilization has sent men to the moon. In the ancient days, such a tale would be of myth and folklore, but we did it. When John F. Kennedy set that task before the American public in the 1960s, even the scientists at the time didn't know if it was really possible -- but they kept at it, they didn't let the fear of the unknown or fear of failure stop them.
What saddens me is this -- we haven't returned to the moon. After Apollo 13, America was scared. This, like the lightning bolt that set the Imperial Palace aflame, caused the U.S. government to turn their back on the large frontier before them. We haven't set a goal for Mars. We haven't scheduled any flights since Columbia. Will America become a footnote in history as China takes to space?
What further saddens me is that I see the fear in people too. Not just about the topics of space, but about life and love as well.
We're afraid of a dozen little things, when we really shouldn't be. We're afraid of getting our hearts broken, we're afraid of becoming a couple and losing what we already had with that person, we're afraid of loving someone too much, and we're afraid the other doesn't love us enough. We're afraid the other person doesn't care, we're afraid of rejection, we're afraid of what we don't know, of what others will think, of what will be found out. We're afraid we're going to miss out on something. We're afraid we're going to be hurt. We're afraid they might not love us for who we are. We're afraid we might be making a mistake. We set up barriers, we wall ourselves in, and we run away from what could be the most amazing adventure ever.
It's still hard for me to believe everything which happened in my life this year. Life continues to move forward at an ever-maddening, ever-quickening pace. Looking through my past blog entries, I have to ask myself... was that really only just this March? or June? The days go by quickly, and sometimes they just crawl along. As the year begins to draw to a close, I wonder if the years ahead will also bring as many tears of happiness and sadness as this year.
A man once told me, you can gauge a country by what they report (or don't report) in the news. Since then, I've started reading newspapers from around the world, just to see different perspectives. I've grown increasingly disenchanted with the U.S. media in particular -- with the exception of President Bush's visit in Iraq, little has been mentioned of the ongoing conflict there. I found this piece which includes quotes from unhappy U.S. soldiers particularly interesting, as no American newspaper would ever publish such a piece.
We made the drive down in a little less than 6 hours. Unfortunately, my health has taken a turn for the worse. There's a reason they tell you not to travel when you are sick. It could not be helped however, as my sister and I needed to be home for Thanksgiving. I'm tired... and sick. It's naptime for me.
I just read this sad story about a boy and his dream car. Basically, the story goes like this: Bjorn Haugen, 17, works part-time at a pizza store and gets a loan to trade-in his old Lincoln sedan for a 1989 Toyota Supra. 3 days later, driving in the rain, he smashes the car into a telephone pole and dies. The police say it had to do with the newness of the vehicle and the different handling characteristics of a Supra vs. the Lincoln. I'm inclined to agree. It's sad that this tragic event happened. It's even sadder if people don't learn from Bjorn's mistake. Take the time to get to know your car, and it's limitations.
My Canadian friends once told me that getting a license to drive in Canada was a bit different from how we do it in California (each state has different requirements). I don't remember exactly how it's done in B.C. or Alberta, but in California, you need to be a minimum of 16, and have completed classroom driver's training as well as a good number of hours behind the wheel before you are given a provisional license, good until you reach 18 years of age. Having a provisional license basically gives you all the rights and priveliges of a full license with one provision: no driving after 10pm. After 18, that restriction is removed, and you have a full license.
Wha't really interesting to me is that this study which shows driver's education having no effect on collision rates. Why we can't teach people to be better drivers? I think the answer lies in the personality of the driver and their outlook on the world around them. Unfortunately, for the majority of the people out there, they only care about one thing: "getting me and my car to the place I want to be", without regard for the safety of their actions and this leads, inevitably, to accidents.
Just a reminder for everyone to drive safe this weekend. There are lots of dangerous drivers out there -- an estimated 5.1 million travellers this weekend.
I'm going on my annual turkey day pilgrimage to see family and friends down in Southern California. My sister and I will be departing in the morning, and hopefully arrive by mid to late afternoon.
I ate with Christine at a place called Rice Porridge Place yesterday. It's this tiny little restaurant in Cupertino Village where they serve just one thing -- you guessed it -- Rice Porridge. They do have a wonderful number of sides to mix in with the rice porridge -- we selected pickled cucumbers, preserved duck eggs with tofu and pork sung, bok choy and chinese sausage. It's homestyle cooking like this that I really miss sometimes.
It really feels strange that I'll be going home. This isn't the longest time I've been away from home -- but it does seem like it has been a long time. It's because so many things changed so quickly in the time I've been gone -- a mere 2 and a half months. I've gone from in a relationship to out of a relationship, from unemployed to employed, from being new in San Jose to being familiar with San Jose. From being alone in San Jose to having a family member and friends here. Pretty amazing.
Your soul is bound to the Rose Petals: The Wronged.
"I've come undone and all hopes of mending me are gone because the pain took my soul. Can't you see? The only one who can put me back together again is me."
The Rose Petals are associated with sorrow, reflection, and wisdom. They are governed by the goddess Persephone and their sign is The Teardrop, or Broken Love.
As a Rose Petal, you are always self-reflective and may be hard on yourself. You probably have been hurt in the past by other people and can sometimes distance yourself, as a result. You don't usually let other get too close to you, but you are very good at mending your spirits back together by yourself.
You keep to yourself a lot and act cold towards others, but you actually do mean well. You're a detective and great at figuring things out. You regret a lot of things and have had something tragic in your life, whether it was running over an animal with your car or something major. You don't try to make friends, but they always end up finding you anyway.
I've always wanted to have deep fried turkey for Thanksgiving, but after reading this article on the hazards of turkey deep fryers, I am quite reluctant to try doing it myself. (Although a turkey deep fried in peanut oil sounds temptingly delicious)
I scored an embarassingly high 168... but what else do expect from an IT/Ops Manager? I have to keep up on this technological garbage. As an aside, why is it that being intellectual and knowledgeable is looked down upon in modern society?
When I was reading the book 1421: The year China discovered America, it was mentioned in the introductory chapters that Columbus was not the first person to "discover" the new world, but rather, with Columbus, the new world stayed "discovered", whereas in the past, the existence and whereabouts of America became forgotten. One of the theories about Columbus was that he already knew when he set sail that he would find something, as the maps of the time had already indicated there was something out there. The 1421 book postulated that it might have been a Chinese map that was recopied by the european mapmakers that Columbus used. Now, a medieval map has been found that might prove that theory true.
Well, OBVIOUSLY! Isn't that where they're SUPPOSED to come from?!? Here, read this definition: Import 1. To bring in goods or materials from a foreign country for trade or sale. DUH! Gosh...Maybe Georgy here would be better off in a circus... (More funny posters like these at www.allposters.com)
I don't usually like to talk about politics on this page, but sometimes I fail to understand how we can have a person like George W. Bush be president. He's a bloomin' idiot... and the leader of our country. scary stuff.
My office has officially been named "The Office of Death". It seems as though I and my officemate, Pete (who shares my office) have both come down with the same illness. Not only that, but one can hear the trail of this plague as it radiates outward from our office.
After reading an article about the Silver State Classic, I've decided that I want to participate in this road race next year. I know, my Celica isn't all that fast, or special, but that car and I really know our limits. I just need a navigator, and I'll make the run. I already have an idea of who I will ask to be my co-pilot.
I have come to realize through the events of today, that I really shouldn't try to speak. I may want to speak, but I really, really shouldn't. First of all, talking bloody hurts! Secondly, instead of my usual voice, what I hear coming out of my mouth sounds alot like the whisper-like voices that one would expect to emerge from a ghost. (Think the voice setting "Whisper" on a Macintosh.)
I first heard this news about a week ago. I wasn't actually sure if it was real or an internet rumour. They say it was the acne medication Accutane that may have done it -- which is not a surprise, as this is not the first Accutane related suicide I have heard of.
I'm slowly recovering from my cold. The past few days have been just plain miserable. My voice is shot to hell. I tried to speak in Chinese today and I couldn't. =( I'm working today however, and it's a good thing I don't need to call anyone or speak.
Last week, I brought my BMW to get an inspection done and to get the oil changed out. One of the problems that was bugging me about the car was that every so often, the check engine light would appear, so I had them track this problem down and fix it. Along the way, we replaced many of the little worn out bits (seals, gaskets, hoses). I went to pick up the car today and am proud to say that the engine runs smooth as silk now.
I always try to take really good care of my cars. I keep them neat and clean, and take them in to be serviced pretty faithfully. That said, the BMW is a pretty expensive lady to take care of. I don't take her to the BMW dealership either (mainly because most of the mechanics there haven't ever seen an 8-series, much less worked on one). The 8's a pretty special car in that regard, so it means going to an independent shop. The funny thing is, these specialists are nicer than the dealerships, and charge less than the dealerships. It just costs me a little extra time to bring them the car.
I took in the Celica yesterday to get the 45,000 mile service done on it, including a transmission flush, so everything about the car feels tight and solid again.
So today, I finally have both of my babies back again. I'm toying with the possibility of getting a personalized plate for the 8, but I haven't even thought up a nice name for her yet.
A friend of mine pointed out last night that I am an escapist. When things begin to bother me, I run away. Sometimes that means withdrawing further into myself, and sometimes it means running away to another place. Sometimes it means just going for a long drive somewhere. My life this year has been a traumatic one as far as emotions run: unbelievable highs, and endless pits of despair. Right now, I am in one of those pits of despair.
I attribute this to fear. I am afraid of the future. I'm afraid of success. I'm afraid of losing the people in my life. 5 months ago, in June, I was happy -- probably the happiest I have ever been in my life. Things were going well for me personally as well as professionally. That all changed in July, when the woman I loved moved back to her home thousands of miles away. I got laid off, giving me time to do the things that I had been putting off -- updating the old resume, getting rid of the old junk cluttering the apartment, going back to school, starting up a new company with my friends. In the midst of all of that, I lost the one thing that meant the most to me -- my relationship with Cat. Our relationship has changed, but I still care about her and think of her everyday.
What worries me is that I tend to lose myself in my work -- and the years passed by far quicker than I expected. The last thing I want to become is Dicken's Scrooge -- a man without family or friends -- unaware of what he is missing in life.
I'm not sure why but I've been in a deep blue funk this whole week. Maybe it's everything I need to get done before I got home next week for Thanksgiving. At least I'll get to go home -- it's been far too long.
I haven't been dreaming lately. It's been over a month since I last had a dream, and that worries me. A lot of fears, a lot of anxiety, but no dreams.
I've avoided eating at fast food paces for years now, particularly McDonalds, and given the option will prefer to choose another alternative rather than eat in a fast-food restaurant.
Last Friday night, I returned my rental car and came back home via BART and CalTrain. While I was riding on CalTrain, an announcement came from the engineer: "May I have your attention please, the train in front of us, Train no. 85 has had an incident. All trains will be stopping for an indefinite amount of time at Menlo Park. If you have friends or family expecting you, you may want to call them to have them pick you up. We don't know how long the trains will be stopped. When I have more information, I will let you all know." Sitting on the train, I didn't know what "the incident" was. Did a train de-rail? Was there an car accident involved with the train ahead? Since my stop was before Menlo Park, I got off before the final destination, but I still wondered what had happened to warrant the stopping of the trains. This morning, I had my answer: it was a
Student Suicide in Palo Alto. Apparently, the kid jumped in front of the train to end his own life.
I don't think many adults realize just what a big pressure cooker high school can be -- a child is assaulted not only by the expectations of parents and teachers, but judged by their peers as well. It's pretty important that people have someone to turn to, or confide in, basically someone to tell them not to sweat about the little things. I don't think I'll ever understand why some people choose to take their own life when there are so many others out there for whom death takes seemingly randomly.
I thought I had posted about this earlier, but I guess not.
Things other people accomplished when they were your age.
My personal list (of somewhat geeky accomplishments) looks like this:
Age 9 - wrote my first computer program in BASIC. It really didn't do much except respond to the inputs given.
Age 10 - wrote my first book. I don't remember what it was called but it involved a squirrel and his forest friends.
Age 11 - wrote my second book. The book was entitled "Twenty-First Century Adventure" and featured the jetpack-wearing Jetlag Jack and his courageous sidekick saving the world from imminent destruction.
Age 14 - Places in the top 3 of a mall video game competition, wins tickets to Universal Studios Hollywood to compete in the Nintendo World Championships. At the Nintendo World Championships, becomes a Semi-Finalist for the Southern California Region.
Age 15 - Creates the Logo used for the newsletter Mac Facts
Age 16 - Starts a computer BBS, and programs his first freeware utilities.
Age 17 - Creates with 3 friends, Visionary Studios, a computer game company whose first game is a Tetris clone called BloxJack. Also wins an award for speech and debate in Academic Decathalon.
Age 18 - Graduates High School, and begins attending UC Berkeley with junior status in the College of Chemistry.
Age 19 - Wrote my first short stories.
Age 21 - Sets a new record for drinking mixed drinks at the Office of Residential Computing on his 21st birthday.
Age 22 - Graduates from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Sciences - Biology. Writes a thesis on Electricity Needs for the Future. Predicts problem of exisiting plants not supplying power. 4 years later, the prediction comes true with the California Energy Crisis.
Age 25 - Serves as Technical Producer for Diablo II, which goes on to sell several million copies worldwide.
Age 26 - Purchases his own car, a 2001 Toyota Celica GT-S. This same year, also begins tutoring elementary school students in reading.
Age 28 - Becomes one of the founding members of Castaway Entertainment, a new computer game company.
Have I lived up to my potential? Are my accomplishments enough to justify my existence?
Love the job, hate the hours. Seems to be a trend for me. You see, when it comes to picking jobs, I tend not to pick the one with the highest salaries, but the ones where I think I'll be able to make a difference and enjoy what I do. Even though I try to limit myself to only 40 hours a week, I still find myself being a workaholic in a different sense as I struggle to juggle work, school and a personal life.
I'm confident enough in my skills and abilities that I know that where ever I go, I can succeed. It doesn't matter what happens. I won't give up. I can't give up. I will persevere.
I find it funny, since just yesterday, we were talking about both Sleep and Reading, and here the two subjects come up again. If anyone needs a long-term sleep deprived individual to do testing on, they can pick me.
A little less than 50 years ago, a book came out called "Why Johny Can't Read", examining why children in the United States have a hard time reading. The main reason, the author claimed, was that children were being taught how to read and spell the wrong way. The proper way, he claimed, was the use of phonics -- sounding out the word and guessing at the word. I find it somewhat stupid that after all this time, educational professionals have not accepted the fact that phonics works and straight up memorization of the arrangement of letters does not.
Anyways, the article above was printed quite recently, and while I am sure that the teaching method does factor into the resultant scores, the influence of other media types is a factor that was neglected. Televisions and computers these days have superceded the days of magazines and newspapers. It's hard for me to remember the last time I saw a newstand that wasn't inside an airport. The need to read is reduced, and while people talk often about the tv or the movies they watch, when was the last time you talked to someone about a book you read?
I actually managed to get a decent night's sleep for once. I think my body had finally reached the point where it was just too tired to function. I've pretty much decided that I am horribly overcommitted to too many activities and that's pretty much why I feel tired all the time.
There are 168 hours in every week. I spend, on average:
35 hours sleeping
11 hours at school
1.5 hours coming and going from school
10 hours driving to and from work
4 hours at the gym
40 hours working
20 hours eating
25 hours studying
which leaves about 25.5 hours for personal time, where I can do all the rest of the stuff that needs to get done. Unfortunately it's like this: almost everything that I need to gets done needs to be done between the hours of 9 and 5. I sleep between 1 and 6, and school between 7 and 10, and work from 10 to 6 or 7. get home at 7 or 8, eat dinner, have a few hours to study and then the cycle begins anew again.
This is something new: a car commercial using Legos. It's for the Honda Element, so hopefully watching this won't entice you to purchase a gas-guzzling, unsafe SUV. I used to love playing with Legos when I was growing up -- I'm pretty sure we still have tubs and tubs of those interlocking brick pieces lying around in the garage somewhere.
You are Form 0, Phoenix: The Eternal.
"And The Phoenix's cycle had reached zenith, so he consumed himself in fire. He emerged from his own ashes, to be forever immortal."
Some examples of the Phoenix Form are Quetzalcoatl (Aztec), Shiva (Indian), and Ra-Atum (Egyptian).
The Phoenix is associated with the concept of life, the number 0, and the element of fire.
His sign is the eclipsed sun.
As a member of Form 0, you are a determined individual. You tend to keep your sense of optomism, even through tough times and have a positive outlook on most situations. You have a way of looking at going through life as a journey that you can constantly learn from. Phoenixes are the best friends to have because they cheer people up easily.
I got my Mandarin quiz back yesterday. Another 8 out of 10. I can't seem to get past that in my vocabulary quizzes. I have a Cantonese midterm tomorrow, and it includes a take-home portion. Work is really frustrating right now because they want me to put in more hours, but I also want to maintain everything else I'm doing.
I saw the new Matrix film yesterday. It is remarkably bad. Unless you are a hardcore Matrix fan, the movie isn't worth it. Wait for it on DVD.
I bought a 1991 BMW 850i today. 5.0L V12 300 hp, 6-speed manual transmission, Laguna Green. I'm calling it my early Christmas present. I would not have gotten it except that the price was too amazing to pass up. Brand new in 1991, the 850i cost upwards of $86,000. 12 years later, I picked it up for about 1/6 of the original price. It's got a good deal of miles on it, and a few minor things that need a bit of polish, but other than that, it's in pretty good shape.
I took it out for a little spin tonight, and the dangerous thing about the car is that it accelerates quite quickly and quite smoothly, so you never realize just how fast the car is going by feeling it. I'm rather fond of cars with a low production count -- there aren't a whole lot of 8 series around.
It's raining pretty hard outside right now. A pleasant sound to fall asleep to.
People really shouldn't talk on the cell phone and drive. A multitude of studies have found that using cell phones while driving causes delayed reaction time and affects steering. Studies have also shown many drivers reduce their speed while dialing or talking on their phones. Talking on the cell phone while driving quadruples the chance of a car accident and is almost as dangerous as drunk driving. People who drive with me often notice that I do not tend to talk very much while I am driving. Safety comes first. As the driver of the vehicle, I am responsible for the safety of the passengers within the vehicle and I realize that conversations with passengers can sometimes distract the driver's focus from the road. We've all see those people talking in the cars, wobbling from lane to lane. I've always told myself I'd never be one of those.
I spent this weekend putting together some bookcases for my apartment. Since I moved in, I've had about 20 small boxes filled with books being stored in my living room. It's nice to have all those books out of the boxes and onto the bookcases. I had previously thought there were only a few books I hadn't read in my collection of books, but as it turns out, there are at least 20 or so that I haven't read yet.
There's only a few weeks left of classes now. It's too bad I'm not a full time student. I really miss the long holiday vacations after finals, and how every new semester is a new start.