|Driving Up to WCCC||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I woke up and finished packing. Steph came to pick me up at around 11:30. Well, Chris came up to knock on my door and help me carry some stuff down. In the car waiting was also Doris. The four of us travelled together. We stopped for food in the middle, and also made one rest stop. Besides that, we went directly, and got there at about 6 PM. It was a really pleasant drive. I was able to talk to Steph and Chris, whom I have not seen in one and two months, respectively. It was nice to have Doris, too, since she asked me to tell her what I originally wanted to share at the Saturday meeting; so I could tell all three of them at once (I would have wanted to tell each of them anyway).
At WCCC, I already meet some people I have not seen in a year (since last WCCC). I had dinner just in time, and then rushed to the meeting. The opening night message is spoken by brother Lance Lambert. It was a gentle way to start the conference. At night, I had some spontaneous sharing with Jonah, whom I am rooming with this conference. That was really good, and possibly one of the highlights of the trip. Praise the Lord that He can use any time of the day to encourage us, and not just through more "obvious" methods such as during a message.
This Tuesday, I woke up after only 6 hours of sleep. Eek. After getting myself looking normal, I went to school. I studied algebra as usual. I did a few groups problem today. Despite the fact that I am doing the easier questions first, it does feel good to be able to do some problems. Actually, today is the first day in a long time when I am starting to see a shred of hope that perhaps I would be able to pass the algebra qual. Now to worry about actually passing it, and also the geometry qual... Eek. Anyway, I ate lunch at school, did some more math, and came back around 3. I then finished packing for my trip tomorrow.
This Monday, I got woken up by my alarm after only sleeping for a few hours. Oh well. Hopefully I will get better with this time zone soon. Originally I was going to go to school to work in the morning, but because it was so hot, I decided against it. So I started packing, even though I planned to do that tomorrow. I am a bit worried about regulations regarding the carry-on luggage. I will try to go for my smallest suitcase and cram everything in, since my bigger one rides the fine line of acceptability as a carry-on luggage in terms of linear dimensions, and goes over by a lot in terms of weight requirement. Even my smallest luggage will be over-weight by quite a bit. I hope they don't notice (or not care).
I also realized I need to go out and purchase some items (notably bread) for the trip. In the evening when it was cooler, I made a multi-destination trip to purchase groceries and also go to school to take care of a few loose ends. I decided to use a coupon and get dinner at school (since this rarely happens). Josh L just finished his meal when I got mine, so we came home together, and I ate at home.
|[VB] New Clothes, and Westside Volleyball||0 comments|
This Sunday, I was late to church because I was not feeling well when I woke up. But as I got better, I went anyway, and was able to catch the end of breaking of bread (and also partake of the cup and the bread). It was nice to see all my brothers and sisters again. Rachel first noticed that I was wearing shining (new) shoes. Several people also noticed them. June first noticed that I was wearing a new shirt; Steven did as well. After church, I drove John Elijah back to the west side. We are playing volleyball here, so I had the pleasure of not having to drive back myself. It is good to talk to a brother on the way.
For volleyball, when people have mostly arrived, we fielded 3 teams of 5 each. I was with the Steve and Tammy, Jonah, and Ruby. (Dan Shen is hurt so he did not want to play too much.) Despite the fact that our team lost most of the time, I really enjoyed playing today. We also played well (which sort of means we are actually weaker than the other teams, since we were not messing up ourselves?) in our opinion. Each time when we were resting, we also talked about our games and what to do. We tried 2-3 but decided to stick with 3-2 with the front middle person setting. For a few balls when I was in the back for 2-3, when I received very squarely to the setter, I would come up for an attack, it was very satisfying. Everyone on my team did well. I dare say they each functioned better than I. I definitely need to work harder to get better to not drag people down. One thing we figured out is that if I am on Jonah's left, he can easily set for me, and I for him, due to the fact that he is left-handed. (It is usually easier for right handed people to attack from the left side of the court, making the right side of the court the weak-side.)
This Saturday, I woke up at 9 AM to my alarm! I have not woken up to an alarm for as long as I can remember (maybe a year or so? or even more?). I set it just in case, since I wanted to go to Bible study. Waking up at 9 AM means I will be slightly late and miss some singing time, but I think sleeping is more important. Indeed, I could not fall asleep last night until (at least) 2 AM. That makes sense. Disregarding the fact that I slept for 13 hours, I woke up at 11 AM, roughly 5 hours later than my usual time at 6 AM. So I usually sleep at 9 PM, add 5 hours yields 2 AM. Hopefully the fact that I woke up today by alarm means I will be back to a more normal schedule. I will set an alarm for tomorrow at 8 AM, which will also mean I would be slightly later than what I usually like.
After Bible study, I walked around Westwood for an hour looking for a specific kind of shampoo. Actually, I mainly wanted to go walk around. I visited Whole Foods, CVS, RiteAid, Trader Joes, and Ralphs. Then I came home. At night, I drove to RiteAid and picked up a bottle of Head and Shoulder shampoo, the one that I have been using since I can remember.
At night, I also shaved. My beard is gone. Just like last summer, I did not shave in Taiwan. However, this time, at my father's suggestion, I kept it for a bit longer, so I wore it to Hsinchu, and back to the US. I decided I should shave before Sunday, though, otherwise too many people would wonder if I had been studying too hard and thus not taking care of myself, or something like that. It's been roughly 23 days since I shaved.
[Photo: Taking a picture with my sister before shaving.]
|Math and Web Searches||0 comments|
This Friday, I woke up at 11, after sleeping for 13 hours... Oops. My day is now really short. So I went to school without eating breakfast, and ate lunch there. Then I went to my old office and worked on math there (with some help of the 6th years, who really wanted to crack one of the problems) until about 7 PM. Since I was really hungry, I decided to eat on campus, and then walk home. By the time I got back, it was around 8 PM, and now "time to sleep." My day have been really short, but it was full of math—which feels really good.
I also did a quick search of "principal ideal domain," which is a math term (in abstract algebra) and also the name of my website. I first noticed that ask.reference.com gets it "wrong," and displays my website on the first page. My website is not that popular, okay? Math is much better. But oh wait, Yahoo! gets it even worse, displaying it as the fourth hit! Google is more sensible, displaying it only on the second page of results (though still surprising that it is so visible). Bing also gets it on (the end of) the first page. I am happy to report that all these search engines report my website as the first hit for "htam." Searching for my English name yields my website in all the cases, but only two as the first hit; it also shows my UCLA site as well. (This is a bit crazy, since I never actually mentioned my name on my website.) It is also amusing to see them link to different people on Facebook, all bearing my exact name (!). Finally, searching for my Chinese name also reveals my website in all the search engines save Bing. This is even freakier, because I definitely did not mention my Chinese name. I think my father linked to me on his personal website. Eek.
|[COMP] Crashed, acpi, rsnapshot, and Partitions||0 comments|
This Thursday, I woke up at 7. Looks good, right? Not really. After breakfast, I was extremely tired, so I lied down for a bit. Wrong decision. I fell asleep for another three hours. Oops!! I woke up just in time for lunch. Oops.
Today I decided to read some Bible, and do some errands. I wrote some acpi hooks so now when I close my laptop lid, it will mute the sound (using amixer). When I open the lid, it will unmute it! Except if I had muted the sound by pressing the mute button before closing the lid, then opening the lid will not unmute it (what I wanted). All is well! I am extremely proud of myself. See, in Windows, this either would have been the default behaviour (in that case one would be happy, but not as happy as if I had did it myself), or it would have not been, and I would then have no idea how to fix it. In Linux, everything is fixable, though it may take a lot of effort—it is definitely worth it, for the joy of solving problems (much like mathematics) outweighs the trouble that which the path of solution had cost.
On a less exciting note, I also installed and configured rsnapshot, a toy that I found a few cycles (as in... years—I've been watching too much Star Trek) ago, and have been using ever since. It takes a "snapshot" of my home directory (or anything I want) every 15 minutes (or whatever I set it to; the default is hourly, I think, but I like to be more frequent). It makes a new copy each time by linking, so the disk space used is minimal. Only changed files get replaced, yet each copy looks (by ls or any other usual means of examination) like a full copy of the directory. It is extremely useful. Imagining that the more ancient some data is, the less important it is to be frequent, the quarterly snapshots are only kept for 2 hours, then it is kept as hourly backups, for part of the day, then daily for a week, the weekly for a month, then 12 months.
I also set a separate partition for this file backup system, so it will never accidentally flood over and cause operations on the root directory (or the home directories, which is also on a separate partition), to halt. After years of experience (not really, more like 6), I recommend at least four partitions: / (15G), /boot (I leave 128M), /bak (10G), and /home (rest, which is 118G on my 160GiB hard drive).
|[VB] Volleyball, Once Again||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I woke up at 8, after sleeping for about 10 hours—that's more like it. I went to school for lunch and stayed to do math for the afternoon. I met one of my officemates, though we did not talk much. From the first impression, it seems we will get along just fine—he's not talkative, but extremely polite, well-kempt, and seems studious (though technically also a first-year, he has passed all his quals already since he did his undergrad and masters at UCLA).
In the evening, I went and played volleyball once again. Today I drove there myself. I left late enough that if there had been heavy traffic as before, I would have arrived at the end of the "start" period. However, since the traffic was lighter, I arrived after only 25 minutes, right at the begnning of the "start" period. It was quite fun today, having not played for quite some time. I played well, serving much better than before (tennis definitely helped a lot!), bump-setting well as usual, and able to spike a few balls. Today, for the first time, I was effective and blocked a few balls as well. Perhaps I was just really energetic and kept jumping up and down. In any case, it was quite enjoyable.
I also decided to give volleyball its own tag (after table tennis!) since I play it so much now. I will tag it as [VB] from now on.
This Tuesday, I woke up at 9, after sleeping for about 11 hours—that's a bit too long. I spent most of the day unpacking. You thought I arrived yesterday. Well, I grabbed things that I need for the night (and things that ought not be left in the suitcase) out, and the rest was left until today. Besides doing this and a few essential things, such as grocery shopping, mailing some letters, and the like, I did not do much else. I needed to print some things at school, but I was too lazy to walk, so I waited until in the evening when I can park there. I got there at 16:28, and the gate access machine would not take my card. I was confused. But at 16:30, it did. I wonder if that was really the case—I changed to a different gate as well; I should have tested this out more thoroughly.
|Home Sweet Home||0 comments|
This Monday, I waited for a long time for astro to wake up. Then we had breakfast and talked until around lunch time. We met with Libby for lunch. This is the smallest J-SCIENCECLASS gathering yet—we are shrinking. After lunch, astro and I went to his lab, where we rested a bit (and he worked a bit), then we left NCTU at 15:10.
We got to the airport at 16:00. I went and changed clothes (to long pants, since I think it will be cool enough to be in them from now on, and actually colder later to want them—I don't like putting on blankets on the plane, too much static friction). By 16:25, I finished changing clothes (I know I take a long time), and checked in with my luggage by 16:30. In Taiwan the airport is much easier to traverse than LAX—we simply give them the luggage and a conveyor belt takes it to X-ray. By 16:50, I was done through security and customs, and was at the gate by 17:00. I went to use a free massage chair for 15 minutes and also wandered around. The airport here is much more interesting, with Hello Kitty decorations and such. There was even a prayer room with Bibles and chairs to sit on. At 18:10 I went downstairs (I waited until the very end of the line to go downstairs, and that was definitely the right decision, since—) and boarded at 18:25. The plan lifted-off at 19:05, and touched-down same day at 15:49 (yay time zone time gain) after flying for 11:43:41. I got off the plan at 16:00 and got through customs by 16:10 (it was really quick, since someone directed me to a secret line for residents... hmm). Waiting for luggage was the longest: finally got mine by 16:35, and through the second customs screening by 16:47. I got to the curb at 16:53, and got on the FLYAWAY bus (or should it be FLEWBACK) at 17:09. It circled the airport and left at 17:17, arriving in Westwood at 17:45. I got home (pushing two big suitcases up an inclined plane equivalent to roughly 6 stories was not fun) at around 17:57. It is nice to be home.
On the plane, I watched three movies only (I usually watch four, but I slept a lot more this time). I watched the sci-fi thriller Push, the action adventure Dragonball: Evolution, and the crime thriller Duplicity. I did not like the last one. Maybe I should have watched 17 Again staring Zac Efron. Oh well. I slept from 9:00 till 13:20 PDT, or midnight till 4:20 Taiwan time (which makes sense—I was trying to stay awake at first, and failing, succumbing to slumber; only to be awoken by the breakfast before the descent). Good thing I did not sleep through the breakfast... EVA is one of the few airlines whose food I still enjoy.
Even though it is not the right time to fall asleep yet, since I only slept 4 hours in the last 30 hours or so, it is okay to go sleep now. Good night.
[Photo: After lunch, astro and Libby took a photo with me.]
This Sunday, I woke up and did my final packing. To my chagrin, I could not fit everything in my suitcases. Indeed, this is most surprising. When I came, I brought two small suitcases. I was able to put everything I need in one, and I found a lot of old (unwanted) clothes to fill the other (then of course I shuffled the contents so I use old clothes to pad my precious items, and also equalized the weight). Upon returning, I essentially moved all the unwanted clothes to the worse suitcase that I did not want any more. My father gave me a new, bigger suitcase (that matches the small one that I kept). This means, I have a whole big suitcase empty for purchases. This caused me to be quite liberal in purchasing, and ended up buying way too much. My dad got a box for me to put more stuff in; he will mail it to me later.
I took the train to Hsinchu, and my junior high friend astro came to pick me up at the train station. We then proceed back to NEHS, our junior high school. There was an alumni basketball tournament there today that is just ending. astro and I played volleyball on the side for a few minutes (like 3 minutes, I touched the ball thrice), then we went and have dinner with some other NEHS-19-4 people. Besides myself, two of them were affiliated as sibling and girlfriend, respectively. The others were all members of NEHS-19-4, astro's high school class (and the one that I also tested into but did not attend due to leaving for Seattle). Of the 7, I knew all but one (lider), most of them quite well, either from junior high (rhymer, wingss, and WWF), before (byjiang), or from these various "reunions" that I have attended (h2o). Later one more came. Of the 8, besides the 2 girls, the other six are all either going to the army (mandatory) or going overseas next (school) year. One is coming to UCLA (lider) and the other Caltech (byjiang)!
It was an eventful night. astro and I went back to his place. I went to sleep soon after, but the night is just beginning for astro. He is very busy planning a super big NEHS reunion next week.
[Photo: Dinner photograph. Taiwanese people are good at being photographed without looking at the camera.]
This Saturday, we played tennis with 5 people—this is my favourite number of people. How do we play? After each game, the person who served must rest. The right receiver becomes the server. The partner of the server receives on the right. And the person who was resting comes in and play on the left (front) to replace the server. This way, we rotate through a few different configurations (not all will be reached), so it is more dynamic. Winning and losing becomes less pronounced (we say that for the server the goal is to get to deuce, and then win, otherwise he would not play as much on the court). Each person roughly rest 3 minutes, and then play 12 minutes on the court.
Then today, I started packing. I brought back two suitcases, one bigger and one smaller. When I was packing in the US, I realized I can put everything I want to bring in the bigger one, and keep the smaller empty. Thus I filled the smaller one with random clothing that I do not want anymore, so as to not bring an empty suitcase back. Of course I rearranged the contents to equalize the weight. Now I have all the disposable clothes in the smaller suitcase. My dad gave me a new, bigger suitcase that is even bigger than my big suitcase (although all of them are still rather small). I filled both of them up. This means I roughly bought in volume a big suitcase full of stuff in Taiwan.
[Photo: My sister pretending to eat cheesecake. In reality, she does not eat.]
|Last Visit||0 comments|
This Friday, I went to Hualien City for the last time this summer. We went again to the Far East department store, and then got green bean milk shake drink like last time. Then we spent some time at the stationary store again, and finally ending up at the restaurant (for the fifth time). Today we had all three of us, so we ordered four dishes, all of them repeats. Today because it is Friday, the store was really busy, and hence the quality and speed was a lot worse than usual. Oh well. After dinner, we got some bamboo products that Jonah and Jennifer's mother asked me to get for her. She will probably be surprised that I actually found it.
|Racquet Sports||0 comments|
This Thursday, tennis in the morning again. I got so excited that today I looked up rules for tennis. And I also remembered having reading rules for badminton on my TODO list, too, so I did that. Of course I have to refresh rules for table tennis (I gained nothing—as I remember everything I needed, of course). Lastly, I decided to read the rules for volleyball, too. I really like (reading and following) rules. I am probably what Tammy would call "linear."
|[COMP] mail-notification||0 comments|
This Wednesday, I went to play tennis by myself! My father is out of town, but I liked playing so much that I had to go anyway. There were only 3 other people, so we played doubles. We won a set (6-2 or so) and lost a set (4-6). Then I went to get physical therapy for the penultimate time.
In the afternoon, I worked on getting mail-notification, a new toy I found today by searching online, to work properly. It seemed a well-written program, yet it would hang and not respond in an easily reproducible situation. Namely, when all the mail became read, the system tray icon will fail to disappear properly and hang there, not responding to commands. I wrote a script that will fix this problem by brute force. It works so far.
This Tuesday, I did many things that I have done before, many even yesterday. I woke up and played tennis, then eat Taiwanese breakfast. Later I took my mother to the hospital (not yesterday), went to Far East department store to pick up my dress shoes and belt. Then went to the stationary store to buy various items. I then picked my mother up and went to eat dinner at the same place as yesterday (fourth time now), then walked to a different department store (we went there yesterday as well) again, buying the same drink right next to that store, and then coming home after buying bread (not yesterday). Almost everything is the same as yesterday except the two marked ones.
A few days ago I mentioned that for my terminal use, I've used xterm, rxvt, mrxvt in the past. I have been using konsole for the past few years, which does not work too well on my current installation. So I tried gnome-terminal, which was good for a few days, but have the maximization problem that I cannot solve. I reverted back to mrxvt, which has proven a worthy ally. I have even solved a few things I never solved before.
|Sister's New Clothes||0 comments|
This Monday, I again went and played tennis with my father and his friends. It was really fun—enough that I want to play again back in the US. Later in the day, I did similar things such as going for physical therapy, buying things from the supermarket near my house, reading math, and such.
In the afternoon, I drove my parents to Hualien City. We first went to a high-end store selling dress shoes (La New). After realizing their shoes are too expensive and delicate for my purposes, we went to the Far East department store, where I bought lots of other clothes and apparel. My parents picked out a pair of shoes that they liked and I tried it on. They will loosen it a bit and I can pick it up tomorrow. Then we went to dinner at the same restaurant again, ordering the same food. After that, we bought more clothes, including one for my sister! She has been wearing the same piece of clothing since she started wearing one. My mother thinks it is time for her to change. So we went to a store selling baby clothes. After almost settling on an unsuitable, sub-par, yet expensive option (we were in the process of paying), we saw one that was really cute, and immediately all three of us liked it. So now my sister has new clothes. It is a bit big for her, but that has always been the case. Anyway, she is happy, and I am happy, too.
[Photo: My sister in her new clothes, after taking a bath as well.]
|Japanese Dinner||0 comments|
This Sunday, I went to play tennis again. After a day's rest yesterday, my arm feels much better, and I was eager to play again. Today we had five people, so we played in a rotation. It was really fun. I won and lost some, but I think I have some wins in every kind of match-up, this proves that I am not (obviously) the weakest player. In fact, I am quickly regaining the feel for playing from my junior high days.
After tennis and breakfast, I got a haircut at the place my father goes to fortnightly. I asked to be cut a certain way, and the barber said, why are you asking for the same things exactly like your dad? Apparently, like father like son! Anyway, I am quite satisfied with my haircut—and it is much cheaper to cut it hear than in the US.
Finally, at night, 8 of us had dinner at a Japanese restaurant. Today the NDHU President (with wife and daughter) invited my parents and me to dinner. My dad suggested the inclusion of another dean (and his wife). I know that dean since he plays tennis as well. They all know each other quite well (my father is the Dean of Academic Affairs or something like that). The conversations were interesting, and even I were able to participate in some. The food itself was very heavy—we had perhaps about 10 courses. By the end, many of us packed some of it home. It is nice to occasionally do something different and fancier. Though I think I would be perfectly happy with a mundane meal.
This Saturday, I got wireless on my new laptop to work. I dug out a wireless router, and set it up. The network speed is impressive (enough). I have never really used wireless before (it is always a pain to get wireless to work on my laptops, but Fedora 11 and Lenovo Thinkpad T400 worked seamlessly together!) so I am not sure how it usually is. In any case, I was able to get download of 21.6Mb/s and a sustained average of 20.0Mb/s over 2:18. It is nice really. If I do not transfer lots of files between my 10 computers, which can easily go above 80Mb/s with wired ethernet, I would think wireless connections are fast enough for all intents and purposes as my Internet speed at my apartment is not that great anyway.
The main reason I worked on wireless is because I wanted to carry the laptop to the living room, since my dad needs to use my bedroom/his usual bedroom/his workspace this afternoon. I was able to post* pictures from Caltech's commencement exercise to Facebook today. Yes, I know it is more than a year old. Oh well, better late than never.
* Actually, I posted them a few days ago, but I wanted to write comments on them and tag them.
|[SPORT] Tennis||0 comments|
This Friday, I went and played tennis with my father and his friends in the morning. They play from 6:30 to 8 (and often longer) often (at least every other day, sometimes every day). At first, I was hitting very poorly, either into the net or high over. However, after a while, I found a good position and I can start hitting quite well. We had 8 people, so we had 4 teams and played doubles (we had 2 courts) with all three configurations. I actually won two matches, mostly because my partner was way better than anyone else (though he is really nice, and does not try to win necessarily, and only occasionally hit to kill). It was really fun, I might want to do this a few more times.
Then I drove to Hualien City with my mother. We first went to the hospital where I picked up my annual dizziness medication. Then I dropped her off at her friend's place and went to Downtown area to buy things. After driving around trying to figure out where I was and where the store I wanted to go was, I finally found a parking space that was quite close to the stationary store. I went there and spent an hour or so picking and buying a watch. Then I walked to have lunch at the same store we went Monday and Wednesday. I ordered the same 2 dishes that I've ordered every time; but since one of them was unavailable today, I switched to the other dish that was ordered first time and was suggested for second time. The food was good as usual. Then I went back to the stationary store and spent a few more hours there. And then I picked my mother back up and we came home. On five receipts, I spent precisely NT9000 these few visits. This is still much less than the cost of the clothes I bought on Wednesday.