Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mson's Express Route to Work

So this morning, thinking I was going to go to Six Flags... but the 'City Boys' had a late night and was too tired to go. So having woken up bright and early at 10:15am in the morning, I decided to use google maps to investigate the 'express route' to work.

For those who have forgotten, the dear old car right now has to travel 2.5 miles to work, and last time I walked it and found a quarter, it took 45 minutes. And a few weeks back, I had hypothesized that I could cut this time by half.

So today, armed w/ a trusty bike from my roommate, I set out on a journey to find this express route... and lo and behold, IT EXISTS. A 10 minute EASY and light bike ride, cutting through trails and no parking lots, 1 hill (that has both an up and a down hill), and minimal main streets, I estimated this route to be 1.5 miles at the most (or about 2.5 km). But more importantly, it means that there is now a route that can be walked in 30 min (or 20 minutes jogging)...

My most exciting discovery yet!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ants Pre-Invasion!

It seems like my room will be under attack by ants soon. These past two days, I have eliminated two reconnaisance ants and one flying moth-like critter.

Does opening a window make that big a difference?.. I wonder. Or is it time that I vacuum this room. Any ideas anyone?

Alright, back to more reading....

Monday, September 25, 2006

Laundry Day at Palo Alto

So after Yosemite, soccer, and having neglected laundry for 2 weeks, I was COMPLETELY out of clothes (I guess I could wear my suit to work; but then, that'd be pretty dumb wouldn't it?)

So for 2 hours today (and counting), I began sticking the mountain of clothes to where they belong -- the washer and dryer. I actually had no PJs since they were all in the wash. My solution: do what normal people would normally do in these situations, wrap a towel and walk around the house with it! heh heh heh

Laundry today though was more tiring than I last remembered it... It could have been the 4 glasses of beer I chucked down after soccer, or the fact that I played soccer after the 16+ mile Yosemite hike, or I really just don't do laundry often enough... either way, dead tired just from laundry... and as I am writing this, the 2nd load of my laundry is stil being spun around in the dryer.

Was gonna do some coursework today, but with laundry... well, coursework can wait until tomorrow... or the day after.

In other news, I think there's a bug with the AC au naturalle... literally... it seems like more and more little critters are sneaking into my room. Today there was an ant on my desk... as well as some moth like critter flying near my computer (the corpse now reside under my keyboard... dam that moth thing; if I get held up at customs on the way home, it will be an interesting day)...

I guess as the weather gets colder outside, the bugs trying to get in here increases.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Yosemite - Half Dome

So this weekend was Yosemite weekend and going on the trial "Half-Dome". What is 'Half-Dome' you ask? Well, according to the Yosemite National Park's website, it is the 'ultimate' hike, taking usually 12 hours (16+ miles roundtrip), taking you to more than 8000 ft above sea level.

So the hike was pretty nice... Saw two waterfalls during the hike, and got to see very many very nice landscapes. The climb was not easy, but definitely worth it.

A pic of the last 0.25 mile of the climb (the famous half-dome cables):

Up close, the hill looks very scary... and actually, if you climb half-way up and the line stops and you look down... well the feeling is interesting. But this part of the climb wasn't that bad.

The line was pretty long to go up this last part - supposedly some ppl waited for 3 hours and didn't get a chance to go up. But we waited and did get up to the top. Btw, if you wanna 'jump' the line, here's a trick that we used (after seeing the ppl lining up behind us do it - we followed them).
1) put on those gloves they have -- very useful
2) You saw two cables in the photo above right (and people in the middle)? There are acutally planks in the middle between the two cables for ppl to rest on. So now, imagine going along side the cable (not the middle) where no one is going up... you now have urself another way to go up the hill...
***DISCLAIMER: this method is not for the weak hearted! I am in no way endorsing this and will not be responsible if you fall in any way using this method...***

For me, what I did was this jumping the line technique for about a quarter of the hill, then looked down and went 'oh sh*t!' and decided to be a good boy and go back in the middle... but doing so got us ALOT farther up the line to the top.

On the way down was pretty scary at first (especially w/ zero grip shoes), but you get used to it and so the down part w/ the cables was definitely easier... also since it was getting late (we came down at 4:30pm), very few ppl were going up so the down part was not too delayed...

The most dangerous part of the descent was actually after the cables... 8000 ft above the sea level + zero grip shoes + going down rocks that were slanted + tons of debris and gravel covering it = one hell of a long fall if I made a mistake...
I slipped 3 times during this descent part, was going extra slow... and w/ my sore right thigh from soccer, and busted left ankle that hasn't fully healed, it was the hardest part of the hike for me (though others who went would probably say otherwise)... this part I struggled most with...

But having made it down this part was nothing...there was another event that few non-experienced hikers would ever want to experience: hiking on an unknown trail after the sun had set...
So as I mentioned before, this hike usually takes 12 hours total... if I had gone on the pace I wanted, I swear this hike can be done in 8 hrs or so; probably even less if I had some good shoes... but in the end, it took us 11 hrs -- since our team sustained some minor injuries along the way and was not at peak form probably due to the aggressive itinearay we had this wkend (see below)

Back to the night hiking... so since we started at 9:00am... we knew we would be pretty close to hiking in the dark towards the end... with 2.5 miles to go at 6:30pm (4+ miles if we chose the 'easy' trail), we were in for a scary ride when it was 7:30pm, and the sun had completely set. What made things even worse was the guy I had been following (some old guy who knew where he was going... decided to check out up on his injured friend - who had to get her leg bandaged along the way... putting me in charge of leading EVERYONE who was caught in the dark (which by a rough estimate.. was at least 30+ ppl)... Hiking on an unknown trail in the dark is very dangerous and taxing... what made theses trails hard was the trails don't look like trails in the dark.. since at one point you would go right through rocks that don't look like a trail at all; or there are two sand 'paths' to take... with one leading towards the edge of a cliff; or you are going down weird steps... with one side completely open for free falling!...
Needless to say, these 2.5 miles seemed much much longer than 2.5 miles. In the dark, it was impossible to see without a flashlight; I could have been walking towards the edge of a cliff had I not have a flashlight on me. Most memorable moment:

(as I am leading like 30+ ppl for what must have felt like 30 min now.. having passed yet another column of these neverending steps)

Me: What the fuk?... There's a cave in front of us...

Person right behind me (L): What?.. Sh*t.. There's a cave?

(... slowly the broken telephone line starts to propagate... )
(shining the flashlight around, frantically looking for a trail so we can avoid this cave route... but everything led to a free fall into the rocky recesses of Yosemite)
(Me thinking... there is no fu*king way I am going back up the way we came...)
(walking further into the unknown darkness and seeing what is inside this cave... it turns out to be an overpass)

Me: Phewf... It's not a cave... It's not a cave... Still good!

L: It's not a cave.. It's not a cave!
(... slowly the broken telephone line starts to propagate... )

Someone behind the line (later ID'ed to be Odogg): Fu*k! Make sure before you scare the sh*t out of the six seven thousand ppl behind you!

So eventually we got back... everybody in one piece...

So all in all, this Yosemite trip was pretty interesting. I would want to go to Yosemite again, but probably not on hard core trails or night hiking if I do.

Here was the 'proposed' itinerary for this weekend:
Fri 8:00 pm meet, eat and buy necessary items in San Jose
Fri 9:00 pm start 4 hour drive to Yosemite
Sat 1:00 to 2:00 am, arrive in Yosemite and sleep
(5 to 6 hr sleep)
Sat 7:00 am, up and prepare for hike
... 12 hours later (ca. 7pm) --> Half Dome Complete, sitting back enjoying some Heinis at the campsite
Sun get up and drive back home

And here is the actual itinerary:
Fri 8:00 pm still at San Jose
Fri 9:00 pm still at San Jose
Fri 9:15 pm, started shopping for stuff
Fri 10:01 pm, wandering in mall to find dinner
Fri 11:15 pm, start 4 hour drive to Yosemite
Sat 3:00 am, reach Yosemite
Sat 3:01 am, lost in Yosemite, park ranger comes and takes us to registration
Sat 3:15 am, lost again in Yosemite (couldn't find our tent)
Sat 3:30 am, found the tent, move stuff in
Sat 3:45 am, we start cracking jokes cuz of our 'cabin situation (top secret classified event)', some guy knocks on our tent to tell us to 'stfu'...
Sat 4:00 am, we slept
(3.5 hr of sleep later)
Sat 7:30 am, woke up and got ready for hike
Sat 9:00 am, actually started hike ...
Sat 8:30 pm, eating pizza at the bottom
Sat 10:30pm, left from Yosemite -- the "city boys" didn't want to stay in Yosemite... the dark trail and fatigue got to them... the hiking in the dark might have gotten to me too, had I not been concentrating on ensuring I don't walk off the cliff as the head of the lemmings line...

Couple of advices below:
1) If you are planning to hike on hills, etc... consider using shoes that have grip.
2) Bring lots of water or gatorade (I had 3L)... that stuff hit the spot good
3) Walking stick helps a lot (imagine a stick that elders use... one of those things helps the hike uphill alot easier... a ski pole .. or my favorite -> a branch found off the ground is perfect)
4) Bring a flashlight if you know your hike might extend into the dark; without any kind of light, it gets EXTREMELY dark...

oh and btw... if you get in at 3:00am in the morning and leave at 11pm at night, there is no $20/day park entry fee!.. haha...

Another pic of the beautiful scenary taken along the trail...

And so Sunday, we went to good ol' Safeway and Ranch 99... bought 10 lbs of meat and coldcuts.. (and this time, I split up the meat before putting it in the freezer)... wuhahahaha...

2:44am Monday Morning - Mson out.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Titanium - Cuts Through Bone

So once I again my most trusted blade comes through again. Four years ago, T-Bones became not a problem anymore as I used the titanium blade to cut through bone.

But like me, the blade is getting old and can't perform the feat of sawing through bone anymore. Whoever knew that today, in my moment of despair, my trusty blade would come through yet again.

Today's task was the unsplitting of the hunk of sliced meat I bought a month ago lying in the depths of the freezer. Normally, this hunk of meat would be split already prior to entering the freezer... but since I am living on my own now and 4000 miles away from TO, the 'magic meat distributor' was not readily available. (as well, I wasn't able to bring along the 'magic basket' either ;) )

So having missed eating meat for quite awhile, I decided that I will no longer let this hunk of meat tease me like salt water teasing a thirsty sailor. I was determined that for tomorrow's dinner, I will be chomping down on some good wholesome beef! So after being unsuccessful at prying the meat apart with my bare hands, I saw my trusty titanium knife... and a revelation came: if knife can cut through bone, then it can cut through frozen meat.

At first, I sawed, but that only produced shavings of meat. If I kept this up, I would probably be up till morning shaving away. Then another light bulb in my brain went off , and the 'L-stroke' technique was invented (major invention #2 since I've been at PARC)... Words cannot begin to describe this technique, one day I will give a demonstration of it... But with the L-stroke technique, the hunk of meat was no longer for my trusty titanium tool!

End Result: 20 minutes later, hunk of meat laid in 5 separate bags, titanium blade still in one piece, I am still in one piece --> mission complete!

Now some anticipated questions that I wil reply to right away:
Q: Why not just defrost the meat and then cut it?
A: Takes too long to melt. I actually waited 4 hours before preforming this feat... but the meat was still rock hard! Guess that's what happens when you stick meat in a freezer for 3 weeks.

Q: Why didn't you split it up on the first day you bought the meat?
A: I was too lazy ...

Reflection 1/2: Mall and Soccer and Lil' Bit of Thought

So Sunday I went shopping . And to make it even wierder, I went shopping over going wine tasting! But anyway.. as with all malls, not really exciting, bought some new shoes and a pair of jeans... nothing much to report.

Today, being without cleats (and using my very worn out nikes that has ZERO grip) + a busted ankle that hasn't fully healed, I went to play pick-up soccer w/ PARC people. Luckily it wasn't too intense at all, so I was able to pace myself and not play too too hard. There were only 9 ppl total who showed up, so not a full blown game, which made it much easier on my feet (which was a good thing). I have to admit though, not playing w/ cleats on a wet field is a major disadvantage... when I was smaller, I swear I would have never noticed the difference, but nowadays, if I had cleats today, it would be soooo much easier. I think I slipped completely at least 3 times today, and probably half-slipped a dozen times -- this is even w/ me going at half my pace...

Anyway, enough blabbering, it was fun nevertheless; met some new people from work, and they seem pretty cool. Its funny how being mediocre/decent at something gets people's attention. I really think that had I sucked today, these same people who seemed pretty nice would not have been too fond of me. Heck, one guy there even mentioned to me that I should play w/ him on Fridays at a pickup game in the afternoons with this other company close by... but the idea of walking back into the office sweating like a pig is not really an image I would like to portray.. those were back in the highschool days, and not really suitable these days... but I will see, PARC does have showers so I could definitely make use of it should I choose to play in the afternoon... Something to think about I guess...

So starting this week, I will probably be getting busier and busier. I have begun to realize that I've been slacking too much these past couple years, and haven't been really trying to do my best. I came across this guy called Steve Pavlina in one of my new recently acquired procrastination hobby. An article I found very interesting was the article of raising your standards. Since I don't' wanna possibly infringe on copyright (since I will probably have my hands full w/ the pier 39 prodigy later on), search for Steve Pavlina and once you are inside, search for an article called 'raise your standards' (he has a little search field for his visitors). Or ask me for the link and I can send it to you. But either way, I recommend underachievers to DEFINITELY read it, as I found that it produced an ever so tiny spark in me; leading me to think about what I've been doing these past years.

Now mind you, I am not being arrogant here and saying I am above everyone. (and if you think I am being an a55, then you don't really have to read this.. it is my blog after all .. friiikk! ... but all comments are welcome and will be taken seriously :) ).. I am just saying that ever since I've gotten into university -- and actually most of my life, I haven't really tried to the best that I can, happy to just float slightly above the pack in whatever I do; but as this article say, doing so makes me basically a 'loser'. Maybe thats why I admire those who put everything on the line for the things they care/like, and even if the outcome is not good, they still have my deepest respect.

Anyway, enough reflection for tonight, this is a public blog after all. Last thing I want is the world to know every little thing I think about. Heck, comments like these could get me sh*tted on in some countries!... nite nite

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Santa Cruz II

So today we were supposedly to go to Santa Cruz to surf. However, since we didn't understand diddly squash 'bout surf reports, the waves ended up being too low for us to surf (yes, even for us amateurs). So instead, we spent the day at the beach at Santa Cruz, just like any other California I guess....

Now if you thought the water was warm, boy did we fool you. The water was actually pretty cold. But in a way, it was pretty refreshing. We did some burying of people as well on the beach, but I won't post those in my blog... Those who know me can look at my laptop when I get back...

As well, since we were at boardwalk/California - and there were lifeguard stations... I decided to pay my tribute to OC.. below is the 'classic OC pose' I decided to do... I think you should be able to guess what I was going for here... so white so pure.. hehhehehehe

So even though we didn't get to surf, it was still a pretty nice day. One other thing I found was that my leg, after 2 months, has still not fully healed! I found out when we were playing volleyball on the beach and after jumping up to hit the ball back, I completely lost my balance on the way, falling to the ground. This was partly cuz my left ankle just gave out...This is getting to be a very big annoyance as I cannot go as carefree as I like. You'd think after 2 months, a little sprain would have completely healed itself. But no, my foot is still fu*ked! But meh, I will be playing soccer on Monday, guess I will just play injured! As long as its not a real competition, I won't need to push myself too hard...

For dinner, we went to "in and out", a fast food restaurant... now being the newbie, ordered this item called 'animal fry'... and well, if you wanna know what it is, you gotta order it yourself! It is a VERY interesting looking piece of work!

And at night, went to downtown San Jose for the clubbing experience. The best part was being able to get in right away. By merging in with the guest list ppl, we were told by the bouncers to get in the line... so that saved us at least an hour or two of waiting out in the East side of Mson's map...

Inside the club, same old same old.. blahblahblah. nothing worth mentioning...

And so ends the day at Santa Cruz II

Friday, September 15, 2006

Palo Alto - Starting to Get Chilly...

So ever since the trip to San Fran the cloudy city, the weather at Palo Alto doesn't seem to be as great as the first week I got here. Mind you, the weather here is still very very nice ---> afternoons are still sunny, nights are still natural A/C condition like. But the clear blue sky is now being whitened by some fluffy white clouds, and the nice warm weather has cooled down a lil bit... Who knows, maybe I brought some of the cold cloudy weather from my trips to San Fran and the driveby through Half Moon Bay...

Work is starting to pick up... but nothing unexpected there. Still going to interesting talks multiples times a week; and very soon (maybe in a week or two), I will be personally emailing some guy at PARC to see if I can talk to him. The reason: he is or was doing some research that I have been looking into; so if he is willing to entertain me, I will for sure want to hear his ideas.... more to come on this later!

For some strange reason, I am starting to sleep less and less. I am also putting off alot of things that I am suppose to be doing (like right now, I am suppose to be looking at some application things). Maybe I am still in my relaxed mode; but I guess soon I will have to start working...

So in my procrastination mode, I started signing up for online surveys...LOL... I will see if I can make my Ms Vickies fund from doing these surveys; IF they ever decide to email me to tell me to do them. It's been 3 days since I've signed up, and still NOTHING!

Oh, a couple nights ago, I was reading these self-help/development sites, very interesting in what they have to say (this will be another one of my procrastination pasttimes). I will see how far I can get with this.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Palo Alto - Walk to work

So today I walked to work.. call it a preworkout for yosemite...Took me 45 minutes to get to work.. but I think I might be able to cut that down by 20 minutes... I will try it out if I go crazy one day and decide to walk again!

The reward for walking to walk though was $0.25 (since I found it on the way to work)... so I guess being healthy pays off!

since it is a work week, not much to post... just been reading pages and pages of code at work... will start real work soon... haha

Saturday, September 09, 2006

San Fran - Part I - The Cloudy City

So leaving sunny Palo Alto yet again, we arrive at the cloudy San Fran... Very cold there actually... very windy as well... amazing what a 20 min drive can do to the weather here... and from my roommates, it seems like San Fran is ALWAYS like this...given this fact, I wonder why people in San Fran don't migrate to Palo Alto...

Events at San Fran:

Like all faithful tourists, we went for the famous crabs (Dudeguuesesnsen crabs) here at fisherman's wharf... was pretty good... first time I ever had crabs for lunch though!...

After them crabs, we walked around the pier... now I am probably gonna get sued by this kid if he ever discovers my blog, but below is a movie that I would like to entitle "the Pier 39 prodigy"... this is sooo good!

This kid raked in the dough.. probably did better than the guy sitting on the bench watching him (probably his dad)...

Golden Gate was very cloudy... I was hoping to see mist below the bridge, but instead, got mist on TOP of the bridge... You will see when I post pics later on...

Also, as we were walking, saw this palm reader person... didn't do the whole reading but interesting what they said nevertheless... I get the same phrases a lot I realize... I wonder if they really all read the same book, or I am destined by how the lines on my palm are drawn

oh.. and sealions... those were sooo cool... here's my favorite sealion.. :)

We are in so key! Here's another pic! It's like a match made in heaven!

As I am sitting here, I look down my feet and see my white flip flops. feels like i am walking on a cloud... my best investment in the US thus far!... $7.97 from walmart!... no pics for this one .. readers will just to wait or get on webcam.. haha... hope it is still white by the time it gets back to TO...

Also, talked to my roommates... figured out why East Palo Alto is a no rent zone... apparently East Palo Alto was the 'murder capital of the US' 7 years ago... surprising how just a highway apart, there is such a difference.. .

So right now, the Mson map of the area is as follows (with my casa as the 'centre' of the universe.. ehheheh')

Around the casa: BMW litter program... (yes.. BMW, NOT BMX)
To the west: stanford and fancy cars
To the north: murrrrder capitol
To the south: houses that you probably need golf carts to go from one end of the house to the other
To the east: unexplored territory --> rumored to house a bunch of video card neerrrds :) ...

Alrite.. thats it for now.. more to come!

p.s. why San Fran Part I you ask?.. because I am planning to head back again.. this time to see Alcatrez up close!...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Reflection: Inspired by Cloudy Clouds at outskirts of Palo Alto

It is funny how the more I try to run forward, the more I remember the past!

Today I understood a little bit more about my past. After a year and a half, I have someone put what I could not express in words back then... I probably won't be able to regurgitate it again (I already forgotten half the line already), but it goes something like this:

"... being in the same city for most of their life and then me getting the opportunity to come out here, it makes the other part of you feel left out..."

Now of course life is not so simple that you can summarize a whole sequence of events with one line, but this is probably the biggest catalyst back then -- who knows, perhaps if I had been able to notice this early enough, I could have done something about it...

But don't get me wrong, I am not depressed or anything now. What happened in the past is the price I paid for being ignorant about my own self, and forgetting the very reason I went to Waterloo in the first place.

But then again, perhaps people are right when they say that things happen for a reason; I was looking for a lifetime, but if all it takes is a little doubt to crack, maybe it was not meant to be at all. Or maybe it was just not the right time.

If I could go back in time and redo things over, I would definitely have done more... but times change, and most importantly, people change... what's lost cannot always be found. For all I know, maybe the present has already been replaced by the recent past... but thats all irrelevant to me now, since this stuff I had already known could happen ...

So on top of all the other things I am suppose to be doing, one of my goals is to understand more of others, as well as myself; even though it is a bit late, better late than never right?

And so ends my cryptic spheel on this Palo Alto day where I gone from the sun to the clouds and back...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Palo Alto - a la PARC

So my first few days at work...

PARC (no, I don't work at a park), for those who don't know... is the place where the mouse and the concept of GUI originated. Apparently a whole bunch of stuff come from this lab. It was originally Xerox's 'legendary' research arm until in 1992, it was incorporated (more of this can be found in the PARC website...). PARC is now a fully owned subsidiary of Xerox.

Now I thought PARC was like a Bell Labs for telecom (you know, the once famous, now not so spectacular labs), but boy was I wrong! Apparently the people who worked at PARC invented some of the coolest innovations that revolutionize our world. And if you knew what I knew and the various inventions tied to previous recent PARC employees, PARC will seem like Canada in hockey...
Though I don't want to publicly post (since they might be confidential), one upcoming invention or product that could revolutionzie the concept of paper is the 'epaper'. So what is epaper you ask? Well, you can google that, but in short, 'reusable paper'!.. More info on PARC's website...

But very cool stuff they are doing it seems; it will be interesting to sit in to all the talks and see what the lab is up to. Of course I have to be hush hush.. but even the non hush hush stuff is pretty amazing and people not in the field may not here about them till they blossom into another invetion comparable to the mouse!

Oh and on this PARC note, I have created my first invention there. It is called the 'sweetened iced tea'. In case you don't know, U.S.'s 'iced tea' is REALLY 'iced' 'tea'. I swear what they do is they brew a big pot of tea, then put some ice in it, and serve it. So you can imagine what it taste like.. cold tea, too 'bleh' for my semi-Canadian blood

I might be infringing on Nestea here, but hey, not like I am selling this stuff; and I am sure Nestea probably sticks in some glucose, fructose, sucrose and sugarose etc. in it. Here's mson's 'prototype' below (will be improved over the term):
1) 16 oz. cup, fill a quarter of it w/ ice
2) put in the 'U.S. iced tea'
3) put in 3 packs of sugar (white fine grain sugar) and mix vigorously
4) put in 3 packs of sugar (white fine grain sugar) and mix vigorously
5) put in 2 packs of sugar (white fine grain sugar) and mix vigorously

Now, don't put all 8 packs in, cuz if you do, you are in for one hell of a vigorous mix!

My task also seems pretty cool... not quite sure what it is yet. Something to do with sensor networks and collabarative computing. But I think I will be eventually working out of a real lab... hahaha. But just reading tons and tons of code right now... eventually I think i will have to start writing some stuff, but until then, more reading and reading...

Oh, so PARC has these like things called 'atriums'.. and my office faces the atrium. I share an office w/ one other person, and lucky guy has the desk facing the window. Directly across is where my supervisor is.... so if my supervisor ever turns his head, he would be able to see what I am doing.. Now who thinks this is a pure coincidence?...

oh and btw, went to downtwon mountainview today, lots of chinese stores... had mongolian grill tonite!!! ahhh the memories.. hehehehe... this was a smaller scale one though. On the way back, there were these lamps w/ fire in it. Will post a pic later once I get it.

So tomorrow I will be waking up to return my beloved Corolla rental car. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my 'CS mentor - aka young grasshopper' who sits adjacent to me who will be picking me up. Now if he'd only move his monitor a couple inches over, then my office setup will be complete!

and here's a link for my pics:
mson's pics
I am not sure if this will be a permanent thing yet, still thinking of checking out other pic sharing sites... but for now, enjoy!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Palo Alto - First Weekend

So this first long weekend was surfing at Santa Cruz, and Stanford.

Now contrary to the UofT and UofWaterloo, Stanford does not look like a jail at all. Rather, it looks more like a resort. The main entrance to the school is that of a church, and just looks like one of those resorts you see on travel guides.

Also I might have realized why driving in the US seems so easy... haha.. I seem to be missing stop signs and going on the opposite side of one ways half the time... I think in the last 3 or 4 days, I've missed 3 or 4 stop signs on various occasions, and those weird US parking lots that go one way.. well, let's just say I found US parking lots extremely hard to park on every other row...
... Did I mention that US intersections (at least in Palo Alto) are VERY wide... when you see a yellow light and start crossing the intersection, the light turns red halfway... That was a scary moment... not because it turned red as I was going through, but because there was a cop car right behind me ....
... I guess its a blessing in disguise that the rental car will be gone by Friday... I will miss that small.. so compact, can fit into the tiniest spaces possible..

Also went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk... I guess this is where Monopoly got its most expensive property from... this place reminds me of the CNE. Very nice place with midways and arcades. To top it off, right next to it, was the beach... I can just imagine living here; nice weather everyday, drive an hour from my million dollar mansion to go surfing...

speaking of surfing... which is the main topic of this post. It was FUN!!! Though I wouldn't consider myself really surfing yet.. it was more: 1) get on the board, 2) forget to arch, 3) wipe out... 4) repeat steps 1 to 3...
So it was a bit tiring, and we actually drifted off VERY far away from where we started. Must have taken us 15 minutes or more to walk back to the original place. But nevertheless, it was fun.. the very very last time I went out to brave the waves, I was actually able to stand up! The hand waving sideways thing that you see in movies REALLY help!... remember that if you ever go surfing..

I did get hit a few times by the fin of the surfboard though.. me and my careless self... though I have to say that next time (since I am hoping to go once more), I hope I can get up more... and once my leg fully heals, I think I will be more comfortable doing that 'fast spring' step to get to that semi-plank position on the board... Supposedly, there's 4 basic steps to start surfing:
1) arch your back
2) spring up to this one knee in front, one leg back position (need to be fast)
3) slowly lean back and get up SLOW... making sure your feet are at the center of the board
4) Try to stay up as long as you can before wiping-out OR
If you actually know what you are doing, you should be starting to surf...

oh.. and btw, the water didnt' feel cold at all.. (at least with the wetsuit on)

I am still thinking of an efficient way to post up all the pics I am taking... any suggestions are very welcome... I am too lazy to rename the images, so I just need one where I can just dump a bunch of images ... quickly, and painlessly... stick a link on my blog to it.. then done... everyone can enjoy!

And I think I have made a discovery. .it seems that empty water bottles/plastic containers here can be traded in for money. Since I have got here, I have been taxed this CRV Fee, or deposit fee for every plastic container (24 of water, 2L cokes) I buy... I think I am on to something here... Will keep anyone who's reading posted...

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Palo Alto - 2nd day

Heh heh... So today I went to see the place I will be living at for the next 4 months.

A very nice place indeed. A lot bigger than I imagined. Very clean and very equipped!... Looking forward to moving in.. more to come.. but enjoy these videos below for now...

The ppl in Palo Alto seems loaded... just around my neighbourhood: 3 cars to the right (including a BMW SUV, and a green beetle), one victorian styled house across the street, and a lexus to the left. Looking down the street, you can see BMWs littered across the driveway. Yet this is nothing compared to when u get to the main roads here.. once you are driving around Palo Alto, you see nice cars EVERYWHERE!!! ... and at the bank yesterday, I was reading the classified section. The houses in Palo Alto, Los Altos, etc... they go for millions of dollars (US dollars!!!). Ah mondieu... the cheapest house listed was $500000...

So today I went shopping for food to stock up my new place... finding one in Cupertino (with the help of a veteran guide), I bought some 'yodulee' and vermicelli.. there's even 'siu' duck for sale there!...

then went to safeway... getting one of those membership cards saved me a fortune!!! Today I bought 15 cans of Campbell's chicken noodle soup, 6 packs of 600g pasta, some oil, AND a 2L bottle of pop.. for $20.96 USD!!!!... I have to say I am very happy.. supposedly w/ this membership thing I saved $7.67 today... woohoo!!!

Also went back to downtown Palo Alto today and tried the rotating su
shi boat place for lunch... pretty nifty... oh, and apparently octopus here is cheaper than salmon... I even saw them selling octopus at the chinese supermarket today!!!...

So now my blog is setup... can put in pics, and movies via youttube.... Now I am off to McD to grab myself a Happy Meal!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Palo Alto - First 27 Hour Day

1.5 movies and 3 hours later, I have arrived at Palo Alto...

It seems Americans here don't seem to like to go over the speed limit all that much. If the road says 35 is the max, the cars rarely go 50. Imagine driving 60 on steeles... you'd probably get honked at... .but driving at the speed limit here; let's me enjoy the view.. .maybe that's why the people here drive at the speed limit.

The miles / kilometers thing also threw me a bit off. For the first 5 min or so, I was baffled as to why 60 feels so fast in a Corolla, but more strangely, why I seem to be blowing past cars around me when I go 75... then I realized 60 was in miles... and then I saw the speed limit and it made sense...

Got to my motel relatively easily... (very nice place.. has A/C!!!). Then went to good ol' Walmart for some much needed goods. Also went to the bank and drove around Palo Alto.

Went to downtown Palo Alto at night. Was a very beautiful place...reminds me of main street at Unionville... but prettier! Patios and cafes everywhere. Italian cuisine almost every block. Ordered a calzone and it was frikking huge!

but like all 27 hour days... having been up since 2:30am California (5:30 am TO time)... by 12am, I was dead tired and passed out for the rest of the night...

My First Blog


This site will be where I will post what I've done. Maybe it will be #1 on google soon...

More to come...